Clattering Of Hooves

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


In spite of being an atheist one story has always fascinated me!

Submitted: October 08, 2017

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Submitted: October 08, 2017

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Clattering Of Hooves

It’s just another day in town. Pedestrians and shoppers are pushing their way along the side-walk. Some go into a store, more come out; while others are clearly busy going....somewhere. The traffic is steady. Mostly cars, but there are vans there and a fair share of over-sized trucks.

Of course it’s noisy. There’s the chatter and the footsteps. The doors hiss open or bang shut. And there are the engines, some roaring and rumbling, others quieter but still adding to the general cacophony. There’s music coming from the inside of cars and from the inside of stores, bars, coffee shops. In spite of that, I can hear them clearly, the clatter of horses hooves.

I’m guessing others can hear them too, as people are stopping, coming to a halt, turning to look in the direction the sound is coming from. Even those in the cars, the trucks, seem to notice, reluctantly pulling over to let whatever it is get past so they can get back on their way.

The sound of those hooves is so loud now. Much louder than it should be from any normal horse that would dare to make it’s way through the busy town streets. I can feel the impact through the ground as a bodily jolt that rises up from my feet right to the top of my head.

And then the first horse comes in to view.

Is it a horse? It is massive, white, and covered in flies and other types of insects. It’s nostrils are crusted, it’s eyes are red and I can clearly see suppurating sores around it’s mouth. The poor beast, although a giant, is clearly sick and suffering. The rider is wrapped in torn and tattered clothing and carries in his hand a bow, already loaded with an arrow that is ready to be fired. This is no ordinary arrow though; something sticky and vile-smelling drips from it’s tip.

For some reason the appearance of this beast and rider seems familiar to me. Not that I have seen it before, but that I should know it somehow. But from where? A word forms in my sub-conscience, pushes it’s way further into my brain – Pestilence.

It carries on along the road, the horse’s head tossing from side to side as though caught up in some kind of delirium. The rider stares straight ahead; it almost feels like we do not exist for him at all.

Before the white horse disappears, another one appears approaching from the same direction as the first. I’ve seen reddy-brown horses before, but nothing like the shade of this beast. It looks like the color of blood. Instead of clattering smoothly along, this one is eager to go, rearing up as its rider holds it in check. It’s eyes roll in some kind of madness or battle fever. The rider is dressed in some kind of armour, in a similar hue to the horse’s coat. In his left hand he holds a sword, blackened by age but looking lethally sharp. In spite of the horse’s erratic movements that sword stays pointing directly upwards.

I don’t have to think to hard to know that this is War.

In the distance a black horse is appearing. Still a monstrous size, it is clearly starving. It’s legs are so thin that it seems a miracle that it can bear a rider at all. It is bordering on being skeletal, each rib being clear to see and its head looking like not much more than a skull. It stumbles, almost falls, but continues it’s way weakly past us all. It does not seem to notice our presence; maybe it is too near to death to be capable of noticing much. The rider, dressed in black, carries an old set of scales. This seems so odd compared to the ones that have already passed; what kind of weapon is a pair of scales?

Portions, my mind shouts. Shortages, starvation – the horse that is now passing me can only be Famine.

Is that it? Have they all gone and can we all get back to our normal, everyday lives? I’m just about to move off when I hear the steady clopping of hooves again. This one is moving slower than the others, but steadily, with a deadly rhythm. Is it white? As it gets nearer, I notice something off about the color. It is white, or at least almost, but there is a greenish, yellowish tinge that reminds me of old bones. The horse is calm, controlled, set on it’s path and not to be diverted by anything. It is the rider that sends chills down my spine. As he moves along the road his impassive gaze is taking us in, each and every one of us. Nobody is escaping his notice as he holds aloft his scythe.

Similar to the Grim Reaper, this is none other than Death. Don’t ask how I know but I do!

We all seem to be struck spell-bound, immobile, until the last hair on the last horse’s tail has disappeared from view. I hadn’t realized I’d been holding my breath until I found myself suddenly gasping, desperate for air. I stood for a second, shook my head. What had I just witnessed?

It must have been some kind of publicity stunt. Maybe for a new play or perhaps a new movie. They were just horses made to appear special, different. And the riders were actors, dressed up, playing a part. That had to be it, the answer to what I’d just witnessed.

It couldn’t have been them really, could it? The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, signalling the end of the world – they wouldn’t be here now, would they?


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