Blue’s dark lips quivered as he bore his teeth. Death smiled at him thinly and lifted the can in a mock toast. Blue took it from him and tilted it back, raising his head high to slosh the beer into his throat. A dribble of foam formed at the corners and ran onto his dappled, grey coat. He crushed and ground the can in his molars before tossing it down onto an irregular shaped hill of dust that clanked with the sound of previously discarded tin cans.
“So what should we do today?” They were the only words Death had spoken out loud for several months, words he greeted his horse with every morning. Blue snorted and tossed his head, a moldy brass bit materializing in his mouth. Along with the bit a leather bridle and reins appeared. Death took the reins limply in his hand and led Blue around to the front the trailer. It was a left over ritual, one that meant nothing here but they still couldn’t shed.
Death dropped the reins. Blue wandered a few feet and nuzzled the dirt as if it concealed grass to graze. Death got to his knees and poked around under the trailer, eventually pulling a folding lawn chair out from under a tarp weighed down at the corners with bricks. He gave the flimsy chair a good shake and situated it facing northeast so hours from now his back would be toward the setting sun. After the first few hundred times of getting up late in the day to turn the chair, he finally adjusted his routine to account for the nuisance.
He returned to his stash under the trailer and pulled out a floppy piece of rubber. Then took a valve in his mouth and started to blow. After a few minutes he situated a jury-rigged kiddy pool made from inner tubes just in front of his chair. With an angry slash of his hand he created a rift from thin air, violating the standard four dimensions of Earth’s inhabitants, and a briny water started to fill the pool. After watching the Dead Sea pour through the rift for half a minute he closed it off with a yank of invisible strings and sat.
Death took a deep breath through his nose. It was good to smell anything, but the salt was still a self-inflicted punishment. He pulled off his boots to expose his gnarled and pasty toes and dipped them in the water. The water fizzled and popped while the remnant of halobacteria cooked. It was nothing like fresh water, but still the tiny bubbles brought a modicum of relief to him as he tipped his chair back and closed his eyes.
In an earlier life he had rotted away for six years in prison. For the last six years he rotted in a dustbowl of his own making. A coincidence that currently seemed neither poetic or ironic, but mostly pathetic.
It was then that the black box, now attached to his belt, vibrated again. Letters ran across its illuminated face until they had spelled out another message. “How long are you going to need? We can always find another. ~ War.”