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Keeping on Schedule

Appointment With Death

By William WardPublished 10 months ago 4 min read

Keeping on Schedule

John glanced up at the clock on the wall for the hundredth time. He was a busy man and he could not abide someone or something being late. His train that he needed to catch was late again and he was at his limits of understanding. Irritated, he walked over to the ticket counter and spoke to the clerk behind the window. The clerk just sighed and told John that the train was held up due to some signal lights on the track being out due to a local power failure in the next county.

The clerk also offered that it may be due to the big storm that was moving across that county and heading in this direction. John lamented about inefficiency and about people not doing their job. Again sighing, the clerk again offered his apologies and said there was nothing he could do about the situation.

John sat fuming. He simply MUST get to his next appointment. It would not do to be late or not show up at the assigned time and place. He might even lose his job if he did not get it done. His boss was not one to be understanding or forgiving. It seemed to John that the very least he could do was to provide a more dependable mode of transportation. Depending on the public transits was not the best way to get around in a predictable manner.

As John sat he began to hear the distant rumbling of thunder. Here comes the storm he was told about. Just my luck, he thought. Feeling quite disgusted he sat listening for more indication of how close the storm was. Again he heard the rumble….a bit closer now. For a moment it seemed that the booming sound of thunder carried with it …..something else. Listening closely he thought, Yep, that sounds just like horses hooves buried under the sound of thunder.

Now he began to see flashes of light, lightning no doubt. After another 10 minutes he saw the flashes become brighter and the rumble deeper. John decided he might as well watch the approach of the storm since he could do nothing else. He got up from his seat on the bench and walked over to the window by the door. As he arrived at the window there was a flash that lit up the whole outdoors and chased away the darkness of night.

Standing there by the window he also heard again that curious rumble of the hooves of horses just below normal hearing. He wondered at Nature and how She could produce such a display. Another couple of minutes and he felt that he could actually separate the sound of horses from the now closer thunder. Flashes coming more frequently and thunder almost on top of that produced quite a show.

Standing there John began to hear the steady beat of horses, now very distinguishable from the thunder. The flashes he was now seeing continued to light up the night. Getting very close to the window he tried to glance sideways to see up the train tracks toward the flashes. Slowly, very slowly he made out silhouettes coming down the track. It finally resolved enough to show riders on horses and every time one of the hooves of the horses struck the rail fire flashed brilliantly lighting up surrounding shrubs and trees. On these horses were 3 figures with long robes flowing behind in the wind. The last rider held the reins of an extra horse, this one empty of rider. In the rear was a dog……or was that a dog? The animal had ferocious fangs and red eyes that glowed in the dark.

Eventually, John was able to recognize the riders. They sat upon horses varied in color, white, red, black and the one on the black horse held the reins of a great pale horse. John opened the door of the train station and greeted his old acquaintances. He spoke to each in turn, Conquest, War, and Famine. As their accompanying dog approached John he squatted down and said, "Hades…how ya doing boy?" ruffling the huge head bowed before him.

"I see that He heard my thoughts about some more appropriate means of travel," John said to no one in particular. With that, he turned, re-entered the station. He walked over to where he had been sitting such a short time ago and picked up his shroud and scythe. He then tossed the clerk behind the counter a little salute and proceeded to walk outside again. Still waiting patiently, his companions watched as John slipped into his shroud and shouldered his scythe and swung up on the great pale horse. As they began to gallop up the train track, he looked back at the approaching storm that was almost upon them. Now he was in his natural element and felt the exhilaration of being on the move again and he could now get on with his assigned task without being late. John was no longer John……he was Death that sat upon a Great Pale Horse with Hades following close behind.

Sci Fi

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