TIME. Spring 2019 - Page 26

The Last Horseman David Ferranti Far, far removed from both the gleaming towers of Paradise and ashen pits of the Netherworld is another realm to which no human soul has ever borne witness. Nine days would it take for a stone dropped from the tallest spire of Paradise to reach there, and another nine days for that same stone to fall from there down into the farthest abyss of the Netherworld. The landscape is unspectacular. There is only an endless ocean of tall grey-green grasses, grasses that wave back and forth in a lazy monotonous rhythm although there is no wind. The sky is black and spotted with a legion of cold stars, and no sun of gold or moon of silver has ever shone down from high above. It is locked in a perpetual twilight, this far-off unknown realm, a twilight that threatens to swing to either brightest day or darkest night. It is in this place that I make my home, beside a saddled horse ready for a speedy journey, a horse and its rider eternally wait- ing for the inevitable sound of a seal breaking. For as long as I can remember, I have been waiting for it. I am War. Rider of the red horse, the blood-red charger that will set upon the doomed Earth to make ready the world’s end. Here I dwell, in a place beyond mortal sight and knowl- edge, until I am called to fulfill my task. From the moment I formed my first thought, I have heard other voices in my mind. My own mind is a single sound in the silence of our home, but there are other sounds too. Since my brothers entered the world with me, we made a harmony together. At first it seemed strange and discordant, but soon the harmony became as familiar to me as the weight of the blade in my hand. Now, I can scarcely even remember what I was before I heard the harmony. The harmony is the one, our combined song of spirit, and we are the four, the sounds that echo within the music. A mental cobweb binds us together so that what one sees, we all see, and what one hears, we all hear. 26 Spring 2019 It is not perfect, this mental bond. Lack of focus clouds it the way poison clouds water. But we are seldom without focus. We know that one day, the harmony will guide us in the fulfillment of our duty. This bond is how I know that deep within the grasslands, my brothers are waiting: Pestilence, Famine, and Death. Even though I have never laid eyes upon them, I can see them in my mind’s eye as clearly as if they stood before me now, for they are my brothers and we have listened to each other from the first moment of our existence. Three more riders, and three more horses. Pestilence is the first, and the unluckiest I think. For he is the first to ride to Earth, the rider who must be ready for the sound of the first seal being broken. He sits upon his horse, a great white horse that is forever saddled, and waits. Waits for the sound of the shards of the first seal to hit the marble floors of Paradise. His horse has never known the taste of the grey- green grasses of this place, nor slaked its perpetual thirst in a stream of cool water. I am the second rider. My horse is saddled and tethered, but free to graze as I sit beside it, sharpening my sword upon a whetstone. It is already sharp enough to sever the tips from the grass about me, but it must be sharper still for what is to come. One day an entire world will cower before the blade’s edge, and I must be ready to wield it well. My sword is part of me, just as I am part of it. It was fashioned from my rib, my own flesh and bone. It whispers as I sharpen it, and its whispers are the echoes of cries of rage, the clash of steel on steel, the thunder of gunfire. Famine will follow me, bearing his set of scales upon a black steed. His horse roams free, far and wide about the grassland, unencumbered by bit or bridle, ready to return to its master at his call. Famine has more time than Pestilence or I. His call is