Owing to a misunderstanding between the author of The Pale Horse and myself, I omitted to pubish the prologue last week.
For those of you who missed the first chapter it is here. Chapter 2 will be published this evening.
The Pale Horse
And when they had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, come and see. And I beheld and lo a black horse, and he who sat on him held a pair of balances in his hand.
And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, a measure of wheat for a penny, three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.
(REVELATIONS. Chapt.6 - V 5-6)
(ESPECIALLY NOT THE OIL) And then.......
THE YEAR 2026
The boy sensed existence leave her body. Gently he ran his fingers over her face, seeking one last touch of the familiar, wondering if her eyes were giving up their last reflection from her soul. With the weariness of defeat he continued his desultory waving; warding off the flies from plundering the last vestiges of moisture from her body. He could do no more; didn't know what more there was to do, other than to cover her face and save what energy he had to keep the flies from sucking him dry and wait for something to happen. He wondered if waiting was all life had.
They were alone, but, as yet, he’d no sense of being anything other than alone. As far as he used to be able to see his world had been solid with people. Thousands, perhaps millions of them, beyond identity, beyond numbers, reaching back beyond the mountains that hemmed the long dried bed of Lake Abaya.
When they'd first come, he and his mother, when the misting of his sight had been regarded as just another wearisome strain of life, they had searched for an end to this world of ochre dust. Only where the mountains intruded had they found the tangled remnants of the metal stockade. His mother had told them of it as they'd walked from wherever they had been to wherever they were going. Sure that there would be food and water there, enough to live, possibly even enough for the miracle of hope.
Here turned out to be the same as there; no difference except the sticks with their limp cloth scraps to mark the graves of his brothers, somewhere between the there’s of despair and the false promises of here. The boy never got to know what hope was; they'd come too late. The world knew but chose to forget; the ones that searched knew of nothing to forget. The disappearance of the scrabbling flies was his warning of the onset of night, their absence bringing a sense of fear rather than relief. He needed the cloak of sleep before the cold of the night gripped him. Snuggling against his mother he sneaked part of her cloth and willed himself into oblivion. He was nine years old, looked four, with the blind sight of ninety, and was without wisdom or a name.
He fought the presence that was bidding him rise. Didn't want to leave the peace enveloping him; wouldn't acknowledge anything until the morning’s warmth had loosened his body and the flies were telling him once again that nothing had changed. Against all the will he had, his head slowly turned to the command of the woman standing by his dead mother’s feet.
'Come my son. Come, Ibram, it is time'
Ibram felt himself rise with a grace he'd never known, moving without restraint from the husk of decay and reach for the hand offered him. He smiled at the beauty of her features, felt joy at the flesh of her nakedness, basked in her being.
He asked, 'Where are we?'
'Eden', she smiled'.
They joined the exodus, seeing only that which was worthy of being seen, being only what they truly were. Dust was only dust, ash only ash, souls were welcoming souls.
But perhaps the exodus he’d joined was simply oblivion. His vision the last desperate attempts of the neurons and synapses of his brain to defeat despair by offering what might have been were he born to a world of different values. Instead Ibrams luck had him condemned as worthless, in the benchmark values between asset and liabilities, he’d failed to reach the ranks of viable consumer.
© Eoin Taylor