The Four Bikers of the Apocalypse (Short story)
The Four Bikers of the Apocalypse
As a reporter it would seem that everyone has a story to tell. From those in the public eye, to the passer by, we all have a tale or two to tell. And I more so than most, but the question is… Should I tell it?
Who would have believed that the Bible would be so accurate in the telling of this tale, just one aspect of truth, which, many dismiss as scaremongering for the religious. Like the Great Flood and Noah’s Ark, the Plagues of Egypt, and the Fire and Brimstone of the End of Days. It has come to me now that they are not just children’s stories at all. But, maybe the signs have always been there, and that we may just have chosen to pass them by. Archaeologists have for many years looked into the remnants of ancient civilisations, their ways and beliefs, texts and scrawls. Some of which have a similar telling of biblical stories, but I have one which was not foretold.
So it was, that December 18th 1999 as the world prepared for the “Millennium Bug” to ruin industry and home PC’s with the greatest computer crash of all time. While I was also sucked in and swept along with the hysteria, I held on to the hope it was just an elaborate hoax. At 6:15pm I received a call from an unknown number. The voice on the other end was husky and hissed slightly when it spoke. I say “it”, as I could not tell of their gender.
“Meet me at the old Orion Cinema in town. The rear entrance shall be open. Come alone, I have a story for you. One which you will never believe without seeing it with your own eyes… Come for 3pm tomorrow afternoon and we shall speak then.”
The phone hung up, I laughed thinking it was a crank call. But later that night I thought better of it. Maybe this was one which could be the turning point in my career. And to be honest, it still could be, but not for me. Maybe I have left it too late to tell now, maybe I am just telling of it now because I still don’t believe that it happened. I shall leave this up to you.
And so it was that I made my way to the rear of the old cinema in town. 2:45pm, I was early, but looking around I saw four motorbikes parked near the entrance. Cautiously I drew closer, and wow! These were some bikes, not the usual bikes. These were custom built. Indeed like the American choppers, but each had overhauled frames and exhausts. I inspected them with awe and was amazed with the level of detail involved. Shaped like horses, snorting and chomping their bit. Eyes held spotlights, their bodies moulded into the petrol tank, with legs reaching forth and clasping a wheel before them. I was amazed, but it did not end there. The rears held mud guards in the likeness of a tail, and the rear wheel was encompassed with the hips of a steed with saddle bags of red leather. Though they each resembled a horse, they each struck a different appearance, unique and yet, not so different at a glance.
Tearing my eyes away from the wonderful craft of those motorbikes, I made my way to the fire exit and knocked. I waited for a moment, and stepped back a few paces. Feeling that I had been given a crank call, I turned to leave just as there was a clang and a screeching. The door opened a little and stopped. What lay beyond that door, in the darkness, inside an old disused cinema which had stood empty and unused for years?
I mastered my nerves and stepped inside, it took a while for my eyes to adjust. “This way!” a voice called and slowly I felt my way along the walls which seemed less dark and more, dull grey. My eyes were adjusting and I followed a dark figure into another room. In the corners candles were lit, just enough light pooled to see most of the room. A chair stood in the middle of the lit area. “Please sit, we shall get started soon.” A calm voice spoke, not the voice which greeted me. I sat and looked ahead as dim figures paced and talked softly. None of which I could hear, but they seemed like they were not in agreement with something, and the thought of running out of there occupied my mind.
“Please, don’t leave. Allow us to introduce ourselves.” The soft voice spoke again.
“How… how did you do that?” I asked with uneasiness.
“I read your thoughts Daniel. It is not hard for us.”
“What are you, Aliens?” I asked fearfully.
“No, no we are not Aliens, but we should not show ourselves just yet.” replied that same voice.
The sound of scuffling filled the room, and upon the edge of sight four chairs were placed in a line. Dark against the darker space they were occupied by dark figures. Small edges caught the light of the dim candles. I thought of what they may be, the shapes seemed odd. Not something I could clearly make out by guesswork. Silent I sat awaiting my prompt, or to answer what was put to me. Those minuets seemed like hours, long laborious draining moments of time.
At last I could hold silent no more, and thinking of a light way of breaking the silence I spoke.
“Those bikes outside, they are like none I have seen before. Are they yours?”
“Yes, they are our horses. Each will answer only to its rider.” The soft voice spoke.
“Horses, yes they looked like horses. Not many custom bikes look that sweet. They must have cost a small fortune!” I replied.
“The souls of many, taken in payment for our service I guess!” the voice said.
“I don’t mean to rush you, but when can we get this story started? You do have a story for me, don’t you?”
“Yes, we have a story for you. And we shall start it now shall we?” the voice came again in reply.
“Err, yes, please. Start when you’re ready, I shall take notes if I can. It is quite dark.” I replied in hope of some light.
“Where, to start… Names, yes names. We do have names, but these are not our given names. If we told you them, we would be easily found and returned.” At this I was concerned, about just who I was dealing with. “My name is Dave Death… My companions are Axle War, James Pestilence and Rob Famine.”
“Okay! Let me stop you there fellow! You see, I don’t think you’re being serious and I shall just take my leave now. It’s been nice, but I thought you had a real story for me here.” I stood up to leave, and was thrown back into the chair, forced by some unseen hands.
“But Daniel, I need you to understand, I don’t think you realise that we are not just the creations of mind… We exist!” At that the candles burned much brighter. Four figures wearing helmets sat before me, leathers and boots adorned them. Their helmets drew my attention most. Death, War, Pestilence and Famine each depicted in the design. A skull for Death, sockets covered by a visor of black. War; like a Knight of the medieval times, whose visor was that of an iron grate. Smoke pouring forth like the smouldering of fallen enemies. Pestilence, the mandibles of some horrific insect was the shape of his helmet. No visor could I see, but the segmented eyes of a fly shimmering in the flickering light. And Famine, the dry shrivelled skin of dead cattle shrouded his. Empty lifeless eyes adorned his visor which seemed to twitch as he shuffled in his seat. It was then at that very moment I understood. Those biblical stories either could have been misinterpreted, or they were true. The Four Horsemen… all of it!
“It… it cannot be true!” I gasped.
“What cannot? The Great Flood, The Plagues of Egypt, The Second Coming of Christ, or indeed ourselves The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Which do you disbelieve Daniel, for if you believe in one you must believe in all?” Death said in his soft voice.
“Then how shall I know if you indeed are real?” I asked still in denial.
Death removed his helmet and approached me close. His eyes were no more than pits of pure darkness. His face was dry, gaunt and shredded with bone showing upon his brow and left cheek.
“Tell me Daniel, what do you see when you look into my eyes?”
Fearing to look at first I slowly made contact with the deep pits of hell which he held in his sockets. Darkness at first, though slender wisps of pale light welled far within them, swirling and twisting in pain. Shallow screams escaped them and wailed for relief against whatever torture they endured. He turned away and the light of the room filled my sight again.
“Now do you see, now do you believe Daniel?” he said as he placed his helmet on and sat down before me again. I sat silent for a moment, still unsure of what I had seen, what to believe. But as the moment passed I felt a need to know, to know why they were here, why now, and if they would bring about the end of days and the return of Satan’s rule over Gods kingdom on Earth? So many questions…
“Shall we continue Daniel? I think we should. In our realm we have no work other than what we are assigned to do. To oversee those who are evil, those who die within the boundaries of which our names suggest. And that is all. It’s quite a dull repetitive task for the ages. We are not here to bring about the end of days for him. We are here on vacation only.”
At this notion I spluttered and stifled a quiet laugh.
“Vacation?” I questioned.
“Yes, is it really hard to believe? Would you not consider that the Ark Angel Gabriel or God himself would come here for respite? Not all who are assigned an ill job to do are intent on destruction. It’s just the job we have been allocated Daniel.”
“I see! So let me get back to your arrival here on Earth. At what point did you arrive and where?”
War shuffled and spoke and as he did so small wisps of smoke escaped his helmet. “We arrived sometime last week, Thursday I think you call it. We opened the gate to your world without his knowledge, passed through and closed it before he knew we were gone. Upon seeing your world we knew we would seem out of place. It was that reason our horses had to change.”
“Ah! Yes, the switch to bikes!” I quipped.
“Yes, though they did not seem happy about it, we needed to fit in here.” War replied.
“Oh right! So, they are indeed your horses as Death said! Wow, that’s a little extreme. You could have borrowed or taken some bikes, I mean who’s going to stop the Horsemen?” I suggested with a slight laugh. “So how long do you think you will stay for, a week, a month, longer?”
“That would depend.” War continued “Famine wishes to stay here. He wishes to open a florists shop, though in theory it is a nice gesture he cannot get close to flowers or plants without killing them.”
“It’s an oversight!” Famine said shrugging his shoulders.
“I would have said it would be the helmet, as I would suggest never taking it off.” I pointed out.
“Yeah, there’s that too!” Famine replied shaking his head “Another oversight!”
At this point I was lost in the whole adventure of speaking with those who, for many years I feared would only come to our realm to bring about death and destruction. Instead here I was getting to know a little about them. This prompted my next question.
“Other than Famines desire to open a florists, do the rest of you have any such plans, or are you just happy to visit?”
They sat in silence for a while before Pestilence spoke “I wanted to be a Chef, but I guess you can see my dilemma. I would only poison my customers without intent.”
“Yeah, I guess we could be undertakers instead!” retorted War.
“No, we are just going to limit our damage while we are here.” added Death.
“Which beckons the question, why am I still alive? I am in close contact to you all and I am still here aren’t I?”
“You are no longer alive Daniel. You passed away when you came into this room.” Death said and pointed to a shadow to the side of the room upon the floor. “However, we can restore your life, but for that you must reveal my name, my real name.”
I sat looking at my body, still, lifeless and though I tried to go to it. I could not stand up from the chair. I had no idea how to be without my body. I was just a spirit, a shapeless existence in limbo. I just repeated “Your name…” over and over again. The longer I was in this form the longer they would be here on Earth, on vacation. The idea of it became more absurd the more I thought of it.
“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on vacation?” I questioned myself aloud.
“Mortdecai! Your name is Mortdecai!” I shouted “And your vacation is over!”
When I awoke I was lying upon the floor, four chairs lined facing another which was tipped over backwards. I realised I had met, and died doing so, The Four Horsemen. Though they were on vacation, they were not to blame. Blame was laid upon me alone for my greed. I wanted the story of a lifetime, but it nearly cost me my life.
Yeah, I told you we all have a story to tell. I don’t expect you to believe me. In fact I would advise you not to, but if you get the offer of the story of a lifetime. Don’t chase it. It might be your last.
I am Daniel Kane, and this is my story.
Show me someone who is not afraid of death, and I'll show you a fucking liar!