Hobbling the Pale Horse
By Willow Taylor
Okay, so I'm immortal.
You know that. That's why you captured me.
Man has sought to extend his life since man realized he was mortal.
So when you discovered I wasn't mortal, you captured me.
To discover how I got this gift.
If you want to call it that.
I see you do.
It must seem wondrous to you, living forever in the springtime of your life. As you can see, I don't look old at all.
How old am I you ask?
Don't you know it's impolite to ask a lady her age?
But I am pretty old.
Alright. Extremely old.
Will your questions never cease? My name is Ashe.
No. My name has not always been that.
I have taken many names. I have been Lilith, Eve, Isis, Mary, and Dilhla. I was known as Jezebel, Kismet and Gwenivere. My name has been Elizabeth, Cassandra, and Helen. Men have called me lover, and sweetness, and names long since forgotten.
No. I was not all of those women of legend. I may be old, but that old I am not.
Again you ask how old I am. I am not as old as I may seem. But I am older than you think. Let me be. I don't wish to talk any longer.
* * *
You're back, it appears. Can't you let me die in peace?
You're laughing. I can hear you. But I will die. I can die if I wish.
And then where will you be?
Ah. That sobered you up.
Are you going to let me go, now?
I didn't think so.
You want to know how I have lived so long.
I cheated death.
Oh, you say, that's obvious. You want to know how.
I tell you, straight out. I cheated death.
You don't believe me.
I didn't think you would.
Come back when you are ready to believe the answers I give you.
* * *
Back so soon?
I'm surprised, I expected to wait at least a month.
Surprised I'm still alive? I didn't think so.
Oh, you are a little, because you think that all beings need nourishment, no matter what they are.
Humans need food and water, Vampires need blood, Incubi and Succubus need sex, Demons need death, even zombies need a recharge period.
I see you've been watching me, doctor.
Yes I am tired.
No, I'm not planning on sleeping soon.
Being tired is simply an after effect of living so long. It wears after a while.
So, you want to know what I mean by saying that I cheated death?
I cheated death!
The grim reaper.
He who rides a pale horse.
Oh yes, doctor, death is male. Death has been male for centuries.
Almost - perhaps even a millennium.
Perhaps now death is neuter, though.
And he hasn't even stopped by in so long.
I have to live this way.
In a way - not the way you are thinking. Death has no needs like that.
When he gets bored, he creates such needs.
I pity his wife.
Think about it, he must be so cold and distant.
All that killing.
What's that, get back to the subject?
Telling you how I cheated death.
Letting you know, so that if you so desire, you could try it too.
I cheated. The age old chess match, and I cheated. Blatantly. He never suspected.
And then, as I left, I hamstringed and hobbled his horse.
Not a very dignified thing to do I imagine, and he was furious at me for such a long time.
The horse I mean.
Death thought it was the closest thing to funny he'd seen.
The horse won't come near me you see.
And without the horse, Death must approach me on foot. And then I have him.
* * *
Yes, I noticed. Don't think that I didn't. You watched me for an hour after I last spoke, and then you left. I'd guess it's been two days, and now you've come back.
If you want to be immortal, you're going to have to learn patience.
Eternity can get very long.
Yes, I'm laughing at you.
* * *
You have no sense of humor doctor. Leaving me for a week again.
Without even a book.
This gets dull.
I mean, sure this is a nice little room you've given me, but I've read everything in it by now. Right down to the label on the mattress.
That was the other night.
When I get out of here, I think that you will become something to occupy me for a good many days.
Back to death and dying now, hmm?
So how did I meet death?
He pulled me out of a river.
How did I get in the river?
I was pushed.
Why should I tell you that?
Ah, then again, why not.
I told you I wasn't going to tell you how old I was.
When will you give up?
To get back to death, he pulled me out of a river, and I thanked him by jumping his bones before I really knew what was going on. You know how near death experiences make you horny as hell.
Why am I not surprised?
What did he think?
He was amused.
What, you don't find it funny?
I did, after I was through being hysterical.
Then he explained I was dead, and that he was death.
I told him I wasn't going quietly.
He offered me a chance not to go.
I jumped at it.
And I told you how I won. I was never a very honest person.
Yes, that means you have to wait for death to come to you.
Or there is another way.
Ah, you want to hear it do you?
Tough. Not for love or Chocolate.
Okay, maybe for chocolate.
* * *
Alright. You wish to know how to summon death.
Call out his name. Call for horse. Cry out for his son.
He's even more beautiful than his father.
But don't tell death.
He'll get jealous.
Set out carrots for the horse. And sugar cubes.
Then get a fresh egg.
And some blood.
A lot of blood.
No, not yours, you drip!
A baby mouse's.
I don't know where. That's your problem.
* * *
You have the stuff huh? A plate of carrots and sugar cubes.
A fresh egg. And a pint of baby mouse's blood.
That's a lot of baby mice.
Poor little squiggly squirmy little things.
So full of life! So young. *Sigh*
Aww, you left again.
* * *
Back so soon?
Ah, you want death's name.
That is death's name.
The grim Reaper.
The rider of the pale horse.
He who walks at night.
I can keep going for a good while...
Claimer of souls.
And his son.
Death's son and long suffering foe.
The giver of mercy.
The last kiss.
And his horse.
I got some treats for you!
And sugar cubes.
Yes, I'm serious.
Call for them.
Now, the egg - fresh new, unborn potential for life. Cradle it, in black velvet preferably, and wipe the blood, the pure vite over it.
Are you doing it?
I can't see you, you know.
I'm only human.
Lord of all.
The giver of mercy.
That's a good horse.
Is there some blood left?
Ah, good. If there hadn't been, you'd had to have started over. Now dribble it in a star on your hand, and press it to your forehead.
The black rider.
The wings of death.
Are you repeating this word for word?
You can't forget Binky you know.
Any more, you ask?
Yes, a bit.
Is there still some blood left?
Good, because you know, you'd had to start over if there hadn't've been.
You heard me.
Now do the hokey pokey, and turn yourself around, then call them again.
No, the hokey-pokey wasn't necessary, but it sure was fun wasn't it?
Well, what if I'd told you to do the Macarena?
No. I didn't do any of this.
I don't have to.
I could have called him at any time.
Ah, a bit outraged are we, my good doctor?
So was I when I woke up here, wreathed in garlic and crosses.
Just because I drink blood doesn't make me a bad person, doctor.
You saw me. Now, now, this is no time to lie.
He is coming. If you listen closely, you can hear Binky's hooves. He walks with a limp.
He's still a little hobbled.
Why do you think the death rates gone down so much?
Oh, you shouldn't have said that.
Binky will hear.
Oh my. You really shouldn't call Binky things like that, my good doctor.
He has a rotten temper.
Worse than mine will be, when I get out.
Oh, you want to know how to stop them now hmm?
They won't be.
Come, Annwn, lover.
Come to me, my sweet bridegroom death.
Binky, did you hear what this man said about your mother's sanitary habits?
Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!
Yes, you look well.
As well as a skeleton can.
Why do you walk the world like that?
You looked so much better in the old days.
Ah Annwn. My sweet, you've come to see me again!
Yes, I was berating your father's looks again.
Oh come, he was as handsome as you in his day. Better perhaps.
What is Binky doing?
I can hear the doctor scream so clearly.
Binky was on a diet, huh??
No more carrots.
He was trying to cut down.
No more sugar cubes.
They ruin his hooves.
Ah, I can understand. I hate it when people ruin my diet by waving things I can't eat in my face.
The poor doctor.
So my sweets, are you going to spring me free?
The doctor has fixed it so not even I can escape this room.
Ah...is it that time so soon, my love?
Yes. I see that it is.
Goodnight, Death. Lover. Lord.
Goodnight Annwn, lover, son, sweetness.
Goodnight Binky, you dammed equine.
I will see you all when it is time for me to wake again.
Kiss me once more Annwn, Remind me that I am immortal.
Hold me close as the warmth flees, and remember that I will return, death. You would miss me after all these years, I wager.
And give Binky a kiss for me. I miss him.
He really was
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
Hobbling the Pale Horse © 2001 by Willow Taylor
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