4th Horseman: part 10

Fantastic lights, an aurora of color, fanned around the fringes of his peripheral vision. Everything jarred up and down as if he were running. He breathed heavily and laughed in between each gulp of breath. The laughter startled him. It was not his own. He tried to move his arms but could not. This was his dream, but not his body. And he was not in control of it.

Tree branches rushed by one after another whipping him. He felt every sting as a secondary response, as if he had to recognize that it had happened first and then experience the reality of it. Steps came unevenly with unexpected landings– some short, some overdue. By accident, he bit his tongue and tasted the blood of it. Then more laughter.

He stumbled and summersaulted into brush, before scrambling back to his feet. His hands were covered with blood. His whole front was covered with blood that was not his own. Hounds bayed in the distance followed by a gunshot. More laughter. What mysterious mirth. Finally he reached a covered porch and burst through the front door.

An oil lamp hung above a table creating a sunburst of rainbow color rimming his vision. Odors of putrefaction, bleach, sawdust and kerosene filled his nose. On the table sat several wooden crates overflowing with sawdust. Bright red stains in process of being scoured away with bleach spotted the table’s surface. He skidded on his knees into a corner of the room where a hatch leading under the floor had been left open.

“Goodnight, my pets” he said in a voice not his own, slow movements visible in the shadows below. He closed the trap door and drug a bookshelf over the top of it. He paused to run his fingers over a journal titled, “My Encounter with Death, and Why He Spared Me.” He straightened, took a deep breath, and admired himself in a cracked mirror hanging above the bookshelf.

Death knew the face looking back at him wasn’t his own, but it was familiar. He ran his fingers through his hair, tidying it. Then it struck him. Death, conscious that he was dreaming, realized he was looking at the face of the boy from the Model T, twenty years older.

The boy, a man now, strode toward the table, picked up the lid leaning against the first crate and secured it in place with a wooden mallet. Son of a… He shifted to the second crate and did the same. That little devil. Then the third crate, the fourth, fifth and eventually the sixth. Each crate contained a severed right arm.

Death woke up slowly, feeling nearly paralyzed. He opened his eyes, then closed them, rubbed away the sleep with his hand. He sat up and tried to focus across the room. The dream was still crystal clear in his mind. He picked up the smashed black box returning it to his belt, Opening the door into the predawn air, he kicked the crate of left over tequila down the steps.

Blue trotted around the trailer and approached the door so Death could step from stoop to stirrup. He grinned and slapped the beast on the shoulder.  Blue leapt into a gallop. The pair stopped at the call box. The Model T remained crumpled where they had left it, the driver’s door still open. He spun the rotary dial until he heard a rough voice on the other side, “Valley of Armageddon.”

“Yeah, tell ‘em I’m coming in for work. I just gotta’ stop off at the hospital first.”

He dropped the receiver and pulled back on the reins. Blue rose on his hind legs pawing at the air and snorting sulfur snot onto the pavement. Death whipped out his right arm suddenly grasping an eight-foot long, double-edged scythe which flashed in the rising sun. He spun it in a wide loop before stabbing it into the air in front of them. A rift opened up, through which he saw a hospital hallway.

“Hyaw!” and the pale horse with Death as its rider were gone. Above where they had been a buzzard flapped its wings and rose up into the air.

END