Changing Fate

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic
The four horsemen, Conquest, War, Famine, and Death have been released by the hand of the Almighty, and with them they carry the instruments of fate that will end heaven and Earth. For those who typically are not fans of Biblical fantasy, this is not an enhanced Bible story. I have used research from the Bible's account of the four horsemen and the end of the world, but made this story my own.

Submitted: December 02, 2016

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Submitted: December 02, 2016

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Gabriel approached the White Rider with hesitance, disturbed by the eerie stillness of his composition. His soft, gentle features mirrored that of the obsession humans have for vanity. Within 30 wing strides from him, Gabriel could already feel his aura; an intense desire for absolute power swept over him. Within 50 feet, Ekdikos was released from its scabbard, brought down by the angel’s hands in a long arc, and aimed toward the Rider’s hood.

Conquest gave a low chuckle. He released his hold on Gabriel’s will, the sword mere inches from his face. “Ahhhh, God’s Strength, is that not your name? Tell me Gabriel; is his strength sufficient enough in my presence? I am the earth-shaker, a bringer of great pain, one of four to bring the heavens and Earth to their demise. It is I who holds the first corner of the world, I who keeps powers in balance.”

Jaw set with a kept anger, Gabriel returned his sword to his back. “Yes, and don’t forget the One who gives you that power.”

Conquest smirked. “Why have you come Gabriel? You are a messenger, are you not? What is your message?”

“It is done; they have sufficiently spread the Word.”

Conquest sighed, elated to finally fulfill his purpose, yet disconcerted. “Well it took them long enough.”

“He says it’s time.”

“Yes Gabriel,” he replied, “Return to Him. Tell Him it has begun. I shall release the serpent.”

With a bright blaze the angel vanished, fleeing the presence of the White Rider. It was known among the heavens that what was about to happen was regretful, but requisite.

The shining rider mounted his pearly white steed, preparing to ride. Ahh, credulous humans, Conquest reflected, you will soon find your petty troubles are for naught. With a great rear of his horse, Conquest set off to the West; it was time to meet his brethren.

*****

It began with a deafening roar, one that could be heard around the world. Led by the White Rider, the four steeds thundered from the heavens, cloaking the world in darkness as they rode. Riding on Conquest’s left, a warrior clad in black and red charged forward on a horse with a blood red coat; his name was War. On Conquest’s right rode a horse of darkness; his rider was gaunt and fierce, naming himself Famine. Riding slightly behind the rest was a pale and haggard horse, and on his back rode Death himself, cloaked in darkness. For thousands of years they had stood at the four corners, fulfilling their duty of maintaining the ever fragile peace, but now peace was lifted by the hand of the Almighty Himself, and the four horsemen released.

*****

Freedom, humankind expected it to last, as it was so hard fought. The Americans put so much trust in their elections, unwaveringly believing the preaching of politicians. The election of 2040 marked the beginning of the end of freedom. “Connections,” the politicians proclaimed in secret; soon we shall rule the world! Conquest began with a man named Marcus Thorin, the president-elect of the United States. Piece by piece, it slowly came together, Conquest whispering into their ears. “Sovereignty, domination, drunken power,” he’d lure, engraining it into their thoughts to the point of obsession. World domination is not an easy feat; it came through the collaboration of several countries: the United States, China, the UK, as well as large portions of West Asia and North Africa. This man was the last puzzle piece, before everything came together.

“We shall unite!” He preached, “Soon we shall be closer with our brethren than we ever have been, and there shall be peace, the likes of which we haven’t seen for years!”

Conquest spoke through him, appealing to the masses. “You’re so tired,” he’d whisper. “Wouldn’t we all like to take a break from this fighting?”

For years, the ever-looming threat of nuclear war hung over everyone’s head, major countries’ economies had dropped, and tensions between minorities had only further increased. Everywhere he went, Conquest’s message subdued the masses. It wasn’t long before Marcus was named “President.” 

Conquest looked down on the people with sorrow. Oh foolish humans, how long must you cause yourself this suffering?

“It is time,” Conquest decreed, “Do it now.”

“It is time,” Marcus blindly repeated, “it must be done now.”

It flashed all over the news. The world peace we’ve been fighting for is close at hand. A long wooden table held the winning chess pieces; world leaders from all over met together in the room, enveloped by the highest security. The bright room held an intense hostility and energy; everyone was on their toes, it was the day they’d been promised would come. Behind closed doors, America had been signed over to the Omni-Powers, the new world government. The people’s new president had become a mere puppet.

“Why not just strip it away by force?” the President of China, Bohai, demanded, growing impatient with the slow progress they seemed to be making. His hand slapped down on the polished wooden table, the sound magnified in the boxed room.

“The American people must be convinced that this is what they want,” Marcus consoled, “It may be slow, but it is happening Bohai. Our methods of population control have been extremely successful: rates of birth control use and abortions have skyrocketed, the food we’re giving them is almost completely modified, and our life expectancy doesn’t reach past 60 years old. On top of that, our gun restriction laws have finally passed; we’ll soon know just how many American homes hold a firearm.”

“What about Russia?” Bohai continued, “Have they agreed?”

“Unfortunately no,” Darrun, the Indian President replied, “we’re not getting anywhere with them.”

“Is there truly no negotiating that can be done?” Prime Minister Amelia questioned, “Surely something can be agreed upon.”

“I’m afraid not. We’ve attempted negotiations, but Russia refuses,” Darrun said as he shook his head, “Now we just need to know how we’re going to split our forces.”

Marcus let out a hearty laugh. “So long as we don’t attack during the winter.”

Amelia leaned forward and folded her hands. “Well then, that brings us to our next topic of discussion; the vote. We must have a leader, a face.”

“Well,” Darrun replied, “Marcus has already made a proficient puppet, why not simply continue the charade?”

Marcus’ propped chair fell to the ground with a thud. “Me?”

Bohai nodded in reply. “All in favor?”

Hands went up across the room. Hiding in shadow in the corner of the room, Conquest smiled.

*****

“I believe my work almost done.” Conquest looked over to War, looking for his reaction. He was met with nothing but a stony silence. He had found his brother in the War room, plotting down places where fighting had already broken out. “It didn’t take long for them to take America and Russia. All of the major countries have joined over. They promise greatness, equality for everyone, but the people are getting restless.”

A smile slowly spread over War’s beautifully scarred face. His burly form stopped circling the table, having just placed another blooming red flame from his fingertip onto the giant globe. Conquest had always marveled at his brothers maps, finding pleasure in the way the flames moved with the troops. “Ah brother,” War said, looking up from his map, “are you blind to your own work? They’ve already begun the fighting. War is breaking out. The Chosen Opposition, that’s what they’ve named themselves. They’ve built underground pathways between camps, slowly building up their numbers until they can fight back. And the Omni-Powers don’t suspect a thing, considering the rate at which they’re killing them off.”

“Hmmm, yes, I no longer need to feed Marcus lines; he has come to believe the lies.” He paused, looking over at his brother. “The Joining, it must happen soon.”

“Because of the marking? Is the Joining truly necessary?”

“It is the only way I can ensure the marking is carried out. Marcus cannot do it on his own. But once I join with him, I depart you forever my brother. I will be cast aside, along with the serpent.”

“It’s the sacrifice that must be made. Farewell my brother, the wars are just beginning. I must go collect Famine and assign him to his duties.”

Conquest gave a solemn nod of his head before parting from his brother for the last time, walking through the cold wall and coming out in Marcus’ hotel room.

Now, what I have promised you human, incomprehensible power. If only you had known how much it will cost you, your desires may have been different. Conquest unsheathed his sword from its holster; the sword was named Amomos: blameless. It moved soundlessly out of its scabbard and through the air. With one fluid movement, Conquest plunged the sword for the first time into a human being, transferring all of his form into Marcus as he slept.

*****

Marcus shot up from his bed, his head pounding. His racing heart had a cold ache that made the rest of his body feel frosted. Power… The word echoed throughout his head. Marks… Wake up Famine… His thoughts felt all jumbled and mixed, as if they were not his own. A cold sweat stuck his white shirt to his chest. He could not help but feel that he was forgetting something extremely important. THE MARKS… It seemed to be screamed in his head, giving him a headache. Marcus tore out of his sheets to the vanity mirror across the room, attempting to make sense of his thoughts through his haggard expression. The face he saw in the mirror surprised him; it looked strong yet weary, as if the erosion of time had met the fiercest warrior. However, it wasn’t the face he remembered. Marks? What marks? Marking what? Not what, his thoughts seemed to reply, who. Finally, the thoughts clicked; another way to control the people.

War watched over Marcus throughout the process. “Farewell brother. Good luck.” War turned, sensing someone else with him. Behind War, Famine crept up silently.

“Hello brother,” Famine cackled, “Is it my turn?” He rubbed his feeble hands together, like a child about to make mischief. He coughed a terrible hacking cough, madness glinting in his eyes.

“Yes Famine. The people have embraced me, meaning you are to follow.”

“He, he, he, my turn, finally, my turn. Ooooh, Feezie will have such fun!”

Death emerged by War’s side, forming out of smoke. “He’s grown insane. Time has taken its toll on him.

“Yes,” War nodded, “but he will still perform his job sufficiently enough.”

The air in the room seemed to emanate a deep sigh, originating from Death.

“I know what you’re thinking, but Conquest and I are working now to keep him restrained. The death toll will not be too much for you to handle. Conquest has already joined with Marcus; they will be distributing the marks soon enough.”

“I must depart, already I am falling behind.”

“Farewell brother, Godspeed.”

Death rode his horse toward the horizon, gathering the fallen souls along his path. He carried them gently in the folds of his smoky robes. Already, Death could sense Famine’s presence among the people; he had a greater aura than War seemed to realize. As Death, he held a fascination with blood, the transition from life to the life after, and the way a human’s heart beats; he held an affinity for life. It was what made him different from the madness of Famine, the power lust of Conquest, and the ruthlessness of War. Death was his own, something more than just his title. He accepted his role, but mourned his victims. He valued their short lives, his sympathy for the souls he collected driving him to treat them with an utter care. It was on the 5th of February, 2042, that Death met a soul that stopped him, pulling to him with her every atom that made up her being. Zachary Blue had been her father. They had been the only two left of their family, her mother having died the previous year. Death had come to collect Zachary; he passed in his sleep from old age. He was one of the lucky ones. Death arrived to collect him late that night; the stars were bright, Death could not number them. He picked up the old soul with tender hands, the man still soundly asleep. Death turned to leave, a crisp, unforgiving chill settling over the tiny room. It was at that moment that Claire rushed in, leaving curiosity to stop Death where he stood.

“Dad?” Her fingers touched his cold skin. She peeled back the worn quilt, her fingers feeling his wrinkled wrist desperately for a pulse. She shot up, scrambling desperately around the room for a mirror, praying that her feelings were simply betraying her. At last, she found one in his desk, the worn drawer refusing to open and shut properly, as if confirming her fear. A cold sweat broke out on her skin, her shaking hand bringing the mirror up to Zachary Blue’s mouth. Death held his breath in suspense, even though he already knew the result of her efforts. Over his shoulder, her father fought to see past the billows of his robes. Death watched as the old man fell to his knees, his cries and whispers echoing afterward in his mind.

“Oh my Claire, oh my darling, it’s over, it’s all over,” He sobbed into his hands.

“Shh, shh,” Death consoled, “there’s nothing left for you here. Come with me, you will find peace.”

Zachary Blue took one last long look at his daughter, drinking in her image, his eyes never wavering. He solemnly turned his head, walking forward and embracing Death, joining with the other souls he carried. Death knew he should turn, he’d seen how it always ended, but something about her kept him anchored where he stood. Her soul was beyond anything he’d seen in thousands of years, since the age of Noah. It glowed with a radiance of love, one mirroring that of purity that the holy angels held. Death thought himself lucky anytime he came across one of these souls, as angels were beautiful, but have no human feeling. Death did not often have feeling, if it could be called that, as it was a mimic to his observations of human feeling. Even so, feelings came very rarely. He stopped for a few moments more, relishing finding such a rare soul, when the girl looked up. She seemed to be staring right at him. Death turned to leave, but she called out to him.

“Wait! Please don’t go! I’m sorry, I don’t mean to stare, but I’ve never seen anything like you before.”

Death turned slowly, an eyebrow raised in fascination and perplexity. “You- you can see me?”

She looked puzzled at this comment. “Am I not supposed to see you?”

Death furrowed his eyebrows, confusion etched across his face. “Not really, but I don’t know. I’ve never been seen before.”

“That sounds lonely. You can stay a bit longer if you like, there’s nothing left… nothing here… oh he’s gone!” Sobs choked through her words while small streams of tears trickled down her cheeks.

“I’m sorry,” Death replied as he hung his head, “It was his time.”

Claire looked up at him curiously, eyes blurred, before finally making the connection. “Well, at least he didn’t go the way I’ve seen other people go.” She wiped her nose, a few sniffles still escaping.

Death nodded. Again, he turned to leave.

“No, please! Please stay, just for a little bit.”

Death thought about it for a minute, pondering the extra work he’d have to catch up on. Then again, it had been so long since he’d found a soul like hers. He nodded his head softly, before gingerly sitting down on the floor next to her. The girl’s demeanor seemed to sigh with relief.

“Who- who are you?”

Again, Death scrunched up his face, not sure how he should answer. “I think you know who I am.”

“Yeah, I think I do. Do you have a name?”

“My brothers call me by what I am known for, but otherwise, no I do not have a name.”

“Could I give you one?”

Death smiled. “If that would make you happy.”

She scrunched up her eyes, nose, and mouth, concentrating. After a few minutes, she lit up with her answer. “Charon, I like Charon.”

He tilted his head, feeling the way the name rung in his ears and tasted on his lips. “It’s not bad. I think I like it too.”

“Who are your brothers?”

“Oh you’ve probably heard of them, they’re named Conquest, War, and Famine. Together we held the four corners of the world.”

Claire chuckled, “That sounds like it’d make an interesting family reunion.”

Death smiled, “Indeed.” He paused, and asked hesitantly, “What do I call you?”

“Oh sorry, I’m Claire,” she said as she held out her hand.

Cautiously, Death put his own hand out, lightly sliding his into hers. He heard Claire gasp, but she did not pull away. Her hand was warm.

“Your hand is so cold, are you okay?”

Death laughed, “I am Death darling, and I am always cold.”

“Death,” she nodded, thinking, “it is cold, but it is a comforting cold.”

“Please, don’t call me that. I loathe it. It is a title I tolerate from others, but I hate hearing it come from you.”

“You wish you weren’t Death?”

“No. It is a responsibility I’ve held since the beginning of time. For as long as there’s Time, then I am there as well.”

“It’s okay, I’ll call you Charon. I like that much better anyway.”

They both sat in silence for a few minutes, Claire staring at his face. Being Death, he had no problem with this; he simply saw it as curiosity. His own curiosity returned the gesture.

“May I ask… how do you see me?”

He watched her ponder this, staring intently at his face. “You’re very dark,” she said finally. “It’s a little hard to see you, but you look not much older than me. Through the soft shadows of your face, your features seem angular, but I guess that mirrors what death’s supposed to be. Your hair is short and feathered, and I’m guessing it’s dark too.”

Death nodded, “That sounds about right.”

“How… how do you see me?”

“Hmm… Well, I don’t really see people very well. It may sound odd, but I see their souls. Yours is very bright, shining with love and hope, something I haven’t seen in a very long time.”

At this she seemed to blush, not sure how to respond.

“I have a question.”

“Okay.”

“If you don’t want to be Death, why don’t you just quit?”

“I have had the same thought. But then, who would collect the souls? They’d have nowhere to go.”

“Well, I don’t see why that’s such a bad thing. There’d be no more pain.”

“Yes, but evil would be immortal. My brothers and I have come to end the reign of evil. The purge is washing over the world, even now. Besides, if Death was no more, there’d be no value to life. It is a necessary evil, much like my brothers.”

“No, it’s not evil. You’re not evil. Death is a beautiful thing, a transition to our next adventure.”

“No my darling, Death is never something beautiful. It causes so much pain.” He looked sideways at her, “And it is dangerous to flirt with death.”

“How so? I am not afraid of death. It’d be an end to the torture.”

Death’s face was pained. “Claire, please, don’t speak that way, you don’t know what you’re talking about. The world needs more souls like yours. It is this kind of soul that can change anyone, even God himself.”

“Charon, I’m not as great as you think I am.”

Death swelled with a deep pride and longing at hearing his new name. He put a hand to her face; tears once again began to stream from her eyes. “Claire, I don’t think. I know. I can see it. And I wish you could too; you wouldn’t be talking this way.”

“Charon, will you stay with me for tonight? I know it sounds childish, but I don’t want to be alone.”

Again, his face showed a pained expression. “Claire, I don’t think it is wise.” He took one look at her face and knew he couldn’t refuse this to her, especially after losing her father. He let out a long sigh. “I’ve always held a fascination for you humans, and it will be the end of me.” Death watched as she covered up her father’s face and gave him a silent goodbye. He then followed her into the next room, its walls and furniture plain and simple. The only decoration adorning the room was a quilt similar to the one that covered her father. She climbed heedlessly into her bed, her mind lost in a fog. Before long her eyes were closed and her breathing steadied. Never before had he admired life so much.

It wasn’t long after Claire had fallen asleep that Death looked up, startled by the presence of his brother, War.

“Death, you are forgetting your duties.”

“Do not call me that. I am Death no longer.”

“It is your title, your job, and your duty before the Father. This human is becoming a dangerous distraction.”

“War, you cannot see her soul, you do not know. She could turn this whole thing around.”

“Death, we have been given an instruction, if you do not follow it, God will send 

his wrath after you. And if not on you, then on the girl.”

“War, I cannot, you do not understand, she has a hope I have not seen since-”

“I DO NOT CARE WHAT YOU THINK YOU SEE,” War roared, “We have been given a task, and you are neglecting your duties. If you continue with this behavior, I will personally send Conquest after the girl, and I will haunt her the rest of her days.” With that, he disappeared from the room.

Death hung his head in despair, chilling the room an extra 20 degrees. Claire woke up in the early morning, shivering.

“Ooooh, it’s cold in here.” She cuddled up closer to him.

Death smiled, “My dear, I’m afraid that’s not going to help you.”

“I know,” she said with a contented smile on her face.

“Claire, it’s my fault. My brother came to visit me last night.”

She sat up, her wavy blonde hair falling in her face. “Which one?”

“War. It’s dangerous for me to be here with you Claire.”

“Then why don’t you leave?” she whispered.

He looked down into her green eyes. “Forgive me, I know it’s selfish, but I do not wish to leave.”

“Charon, can I tell you something?” Her voice was very quiet.

“Of course.”

“I don’t want you to leave either.”

“I know. That’s what makes it so dangerous for me to stay.” Her green eyes were alluring; Death could not pull himself from her gaze. “Claire, I do not wish to be Death. I have not wished to be Death for a long time.” He paused, looking for reassurance in her eyes to what he was about to do. “Will you help me with something?”

She nodded, “Anything.”

He sat up, taking her hands. “Name me, officially. Renounce my title as Death. I don’t know if it’ll work, but… I- I want to try.”

“I renounce your name as Death; you are broken from the chains that hold you to that title. I give you your new name, Charon.”

The smoke surrounding Death’s being receded and shrunk into a bracelet on his wrist, bearing a scythe charm. He could see Claire clearly now; she looked around 17 or 18.

“Claire?”

“Yes?”

“You’re beautiful.” His voice turned deep and gravelly.

Claire laughed, “And you’re not smoky.”

“Claire, give me your hand.”

She held it out, and he held it to his chest. “Do you feel anything Claire?”

“I… feel a heartbeat. Is that possible?”

“I don’t know, but I feel it too, it’s racing.” His eyes dilated with excitement. “Claire, I can feel.” He stared at her, his heart still pounding. “Claire, do you mind if I try something?”

“Okay?”

He leaned down and pressed his lips to hers, again hearing her gasp. Her lips were warm and soft; he could feel his blood race, his heart pound hard, and his brain turn fuzzy. He stopped to look at her; she seemed short of breath.

“You’re not cold anymore Charon.”

He laughed, “No, I guess not. And you didn’t run away. Everyone else does.”

“Of course not. I know we’ll never know, but I wonder what your soul would look like. Probably something bright, like mine.”

“Maybe, but I don’t think so; maybe you could help me see.”

“Charon!” Claire exclaimed, pointing outside, “Look!”

Outside, the darkness that Charon and his brothers had brought with them had dissipated. The world outside had changed completely, turning away from the desolate and into something new and beautiful, something that appeared untainted and pure. For without Death, War, Famine, and Conquest cannot be.

 


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