Reddit Writing Prompt #34: The Four Foals

You are a simple horse farmer, and you notice your horses giving birth to four unusual foals. Upon closer inspection, you realize you bred the four horses of the Apocalypse. – deeed22

John sat on his front porch, and waited for the world to end.

Off in the corral, he could see the four horses – those four damned horses – roaming like normal beasts, but he could tell that they were skittish. He’d spent his entire life raising horses, but these, these were the finest creatures he’d ever raised. Not because they were the fastest, or the strongest, but because in the end, they would be the most important.

It was four years ago that the horses had been born. One bay, one pale gray, one black, and one white. Like the old book said. John hadn’t dared name them. That was for the riders to decide. He expected their arrival soon.

As the sun began to set over the farm, the four horses stopped what they were doing and looked up, staring off into the distance. John sat up. He was right. Damn it all, he was right. He’d known this day would come, been expecting it ever since those four horses had been born, but to know that he was actually right-

Four men appeared on the road, walking casually and slowly towards the farmhouse.

They didn’t look much like John had expected them to. He had expected glorious images straight out of the Bible, carrying the tools that they would use to end the world. The sword, the scale, the bow, the scythe. These men, identical of face, carried no such tools, and were dressed in crisp suits. One red, one black, one gray, and one white. The color of each man’s hair matched the color of his suit.

“Mister Morgan,” said the man in red. “We are-”

“You don’t have to tell me. I know who you are,” John said.

“Then that makes this much easier,” said War. “We’re here for our horses.”

“Right over there,” John said, indicated the stallions with his head. They stood perfectly still, like they had been waiting for this day all their lives. “They’re already shod, up to date on their vaccinations, and trained for riding.”

“May we?” Famine asked.

“Go right ahead,” John said. “They’re yours, anyway.”

The four men approached the corral, and hopped the fence. The horses walked right up to them, heads held low, each one to the proper rider. The riders looked over the horses like any other buyer that John had ever seen. They checked the coat, the tail, the muscle, the eyes, the ears; every detail of the horse was closely inspected.

Once they were satisfied, the riders had a brief and quiet conversation. They came to an agreement quickly, and the rider in gray hopped back over the fence. He walked right up to the porch, and nodded to John. “Fine horses,” he said.

“I did my best,” John said to Death. “What now?”

“We settle up with you, then we take them on our ride,” Death said.

“‘Settle up’?” John repeated. He laughed. “Yeah, like money’s going to help me past Judgement Day. I don’t want or need your money. Just take the damn things.”

“Money wasn’t what we had in mind,” Death said. The sun dipped below the horizon, and the man changed.

The face and the hair faded away, and in their place appeared a macabre skeleton dressed in ragged gray robes. John glanced at the corral, and saw similar changes in the other men. War was dressed in blood-red chain mail, with a broad sword strapped to his belt. Famine was a thin, gaunt man, dressed in black robes and with a scale in his hands. Conquest was dressed in white with a short red cape and a crown upon his brow, and a bow slung across his chest.

“Then what did you have in mind?” John asked, still watching the horsemen in the corral.

“A soft passing into the next life. Instant access to the eternal kingdom, and you will be exempt from Judgement. Skipping the lines, you might say.”

“And I take it there’s no chance of me turning you down?” John asked.

“Listen to your heartbeat, John Martin, and tell me yourself.”

John had noticed. It was hard to miss the absence of something that had been with him his entire life. He put a hand on his chest, and felt nothing. “They are fine horses,” Death continued as blackness ringed John’s vision. “Strong and hearty.”

“What’ll happen to them,” John asked, forcing the last of the air from his lungs, “After it’s all over?”

“They’ll be cared for, don’t worry.”

“Good,” John said. “The – the bay hates apples, unless they’re granny smiths. The white one’ll eat any sort, but he prefers golden delicious. Black one doesn’t eat too much, but he loves carrots. The – the gray – be careful when feeding the gray. He bites.”

“We will keep that in mind,” Death promised. “Sleep well, John Martin. You have done your duty.”

The world faded to black, and the black faded to nothingness, and the nothingness turned to light.

Click here for a reading by reads_stuff_aloud.

One thought on “Reddit Writing Prompt #34: The Four Foals

  1. Stephen, this is great! After reading it I managed to get the read aloud version. Really impressive…it sounded excellent.Well done! Now on to the second story. Thanks.


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