The four figures sat in their large plush leather chairs watching the old, bulky television on the far side of the large room. A fire burned in the fireplace off to one side, the flames casting the only other illumination in the room. The walls were lined with pictures of famous people, all now long dead. Einstein, Mozart and Hitler to name a few. Trophies covered the entire mantle piece and filled glass cabinets, ranging from sword fighting to horse riding to `slimmer of the year`. All of them were for first place. Cigar smoke drifted slowly around the ceiling.
Each of the seated figures was as different to the others as they could be. The first figure was huge, and not due to fat but pure muscle. Every inch of him was a bulging mass of rippling muscle with think veins like worms crawling across his exposed skin. His neck was easily the size of a normal man’s waist. He wore tight red vest top and denim shorts, with a red baseball cap sat backwards on his head. A large cigar, twice the size of a mans finger, was gripped between his teeth.
Next to him sat a very thin man, although he wasn’t the thinnest of the group. His cheeks were sunken and were he to lift up the white t-shirt he wore, his ribs would clearly be visible. His bony thin arms rested on the arms of the chair and somehow were able to support the glass of brandy he held in his claw like hand.
Thirdly there was an average sized man. Looking at his face it would at first appear to be covered in mud, until you realised it was not mud but scabs. In fact if it weren’t for the green and yellow shirt he wore it would be easy to see the scabs covered his whole body. Every now and then he would absentmindedly pick at one of them.
Finally sat the fourth figure. He wore black jeans and a black hoody and was considerably thinner than the second figure. In fact he was skeletal thin. In fact he was a skeleton.
He held a remote control and changed the channel on the TV with each press of his bony thumb. The picture changed from a ruined city, to a view of fields, to the endless desert, the only common thing in each image was the seemingly endless tide of zombies. The figure continued to flick the channels, spending no more than a few seconds on each.
“Hold on Death, go back a few.” said War in a voice like thunder. He leaned forward in his chair causing it to groan under his massive bulk.
Death sighed, the sound like ivory dice shaken in a bone china cup, and pressed the channel back button a few times.
“There.” announced War, a grin on his face. “Survivors. I told you Famine. You owe me one week of cleaning out the stables.”
“Well they must be the last few,” grumbled Famine, literally. His voice sounded like a stomach after not receiving food for days.
“Doesn’t matter.” boomed War. “The bet was that there were still people alive, not how many.”
“Don’t gloat, War.” hissed Pestilence, scratching his chin until yellow puss seeped out and flowed down his neck.
“Let him have his moment,” said Death. His voice was like the cold wind blowing through a graveyard at the dead of night. “He will not have any more.”
“What do you mean by that?” asked War.
“Tell me what you see.”
“People waging war against the zombie hoard.” said War happily without actually looking at the screen.
Death sighed again. He did that a lot.
“Take another look and tell me exactly what you see.
War rolled his eyes and turned to study the TV screen. The image showed six men in ragged clothing firing a various range of weapons at the oncoming hoard of the undead. For every one they put down three more took its place. They sheltered behind a hastily constructed defensive wall, made of furniture and bits of things you would find in the average garden shed. Behind them was a boarded up house. The image changed to show the inside of the house, where there were two women, three small children and a baby all huddled together in the back room.
“I see twelve people who will very soon be eaten by a group of zombies,” said War after a few moments
“That is your problem War, you just are not that clever,” said Death. “You never see the big picture.”
“Well please enlighten me then you bag of bones.”
“There are only six, sorry make that five, people fighting the undead. When they die there will be no one left to fight the zombie hoard. With no one left to fight, there will be no war.”
“What are you suggesting? That as soon as the five,”
“Four.” interrupted Death.
“As soon as the four men get eaten I will just cease to be?” finished War
“That is about the crux of it, yes.”
“But what about the woman and children?” asked War, the panic now clearly noticeable in his voice.
“They are too scared to fight. And even if they did, they would not see it as a war, merely an attempt at survival. Two left, by the way.”
“But if you knew this why didn’t you say anything?” asked War, now sounding more hurt than panicked.
“Not my fault if you did not figure it out.” replied Death with a shrug. “I am not your mother.”
“But I don’t want to die. I have so much….”
With a small pop there were only three figures left in the room.
“Good riddance.” growled Famine, although he may have just spoken it and is was his stomach that growled. It was hard to tell with Famine. He moved his foot over the cigar that had been in War’s mouth and ground it under his heel.
“I agree.” agreed Death, obviously.
“He always was my least favourite,” said Famine. “Claimed I needed to put some meat on my frame. How would that look I ask you? Famine turns up and is fat. Do you know he once force-fed me 20 cream cakes? Took me years to get rid of the excess fat!”
“It wasn’t just you he picked on.” said Pestilence. “I once woke up to find he had covered me in antibacterial cream in an attempt to clear up my skin. A practical joke he called it. Very funny, I don’t think. And I had to visit the parents the next day. You try explaining to my dad why I had no scabs on my left cheek. He all but disowned me.”
“Stop moaning Pestilence.” said Death. “You will not be around long enough to enjoy the moment.”
“Well with no humans left there will be no illness. Only a matter of time before you go the same way as War.”
“Don’t talk daft Death. The world is full of the undead. Those things are technically walking bags of disease. Plus when they bite you, it spreads infection. I’m here for good.”
Once again death sighed.
“They only spread disease to the living. They themselves cannot catch a cold, or pick up an infection. To be honest I think you are only still here on a possibility.”
“Well since the humans left alive will no doubt be fully eaten there is no chance of the disease spreading. So my guess is the baby may catch a cold before it is eaten as it has the weakest immune system, so you are hanging around just in case, but I can not see you being here for long.”
“But, but, but.” stammered Pestilence, trying to think of some argument to the inevitable.
Death turned back to watch the TV. The zombies had stopped feasting on the remains of the 6 men and had started to attack the house. Slowly cracks started to appear in the wooden boards that covered the windows and doors.
“Not long now.” mentioned Death.
“This is ridiculous,” said Pestilence. “We are the four, well three, horsemen of the apocalypse. We can’t just stop being. We will…”
There was another pop and only two beings were left.
“I did not see that coming,” said death. “Killing your own baby to save it from being eaten. What a hard choice to make.”
The two remaining entities sat and watched the TV in silence. Slowly holes began to appear in the boards and the zombies began to stick arms through, waving them around as is the zombie way. One of the children inside waved back, before being slapped by its parent.
Death slowly turned his head to look over at Famine.
“What are you grinning at?” asked Famine.
“I am always grinning.” replied Death, sounding a little hurt.
“You know what I mean. I can always tell when something is amusing you. You get a little twinkle in your eye socket.”
“I find it funny that you do not seem to have realised that soon you will go the way of the other two and I shall be left alone, in peace.”
“I think you have your facts wrong skull face. If anyone is to be left, it will be me.”
Death sighed for a fourth time, making a mental note to try and kick the habit.
“Do you not see Famine, once the five remaining humans are killed, the undead will be all that is left and death, that is I, shall rule the earth.”
“And that’s exactly the reason why I shall be the only one left Death old boy.”
A look of confusion passed over Deaths face. At least it would do if a skull can ever look confused.
“You said it yourself,” explained Famine. “When the humans are killed the undead will be all that is left. They are already dead therefore they have no way to die again. With no one left to die there is no need for death.”
“I AM DEATH.” roared Death, standing suddenly, an outstretched skeletal finger pointed at Famine. “DESTROYER OF WORLDS. I SHALL BE THERE AT THE END.”
“Afraid not bony. I give you no more than two minutes.” Famine pointed to the TV which now showed the zombie hoard had finally gained access to the house are were slowly advancing on the last humans alive.
“They may not have wars or catch diseases and they can’t die again but they are always hungry.” said Famine, a huge smile on his thin lips.
“This is an outrage!” ranted Death. “I shall not let this stand. There will be a reckoning. I shall…”
After a few seconds Famine got up and walked over to the only door in the room. He opened it and stepped through arriving on the planet he had, until recently, been watching on TV. He stood at the side of a river and looked around.
Zombies wandered aimlessly around him. A few glanced his way, but quickly looked away again. Maybe they didn’t register his presence or maybe they simply didn’t consider his thin frame to be a worthy meal.
Famine walked through the countryside following the course of the river upstream. He thought back over the last few million years and how each of his brothers had attempted to do what he had done and be the last being standing.
Death’s big act had been to throw a huge rock at the earth; all that had succeeded in doing was killing off a few big lizards. After that he had given up and sat back happy let the others do his job for him, arguing no matter what they did he would always be the last one.
War had come close a few times. The second of his carefully planned wars could have been the end, but it had finished before the big weapons had come in play properly. He had tried again a few years later but it never amounted to more than a few empty threats and paranoia.
Pestilence also had a few good shots at it. He had given up for a few years after death stole the limelight on the plague, by renaming it the Black Death. Eventually Pestilence had tried to get a few pandemics going, but unfortunately for him the humans were very good at curing diseases in the modern day.
After a while of walking Famine finally reached the source of the river. A tiny stream that trickled out of the earth, high up in the hills.
The warm sunlight reflected off something in the grass catching Famine’s eye. He bent down and picked up the glass test tube. There was a small message written down the side.
WARNING. ZOMBIE VIRUS. DO NOT OPEN AT ANY COST. VERY CONTAGIOUS!
“So that’s where I left it.” Famine said to the world in general. “Silly me.”
He turned around and walked though the door that had appeared behind him, appearing back in the large room with the TV.
He knew that eventually the zombies would just fall apart as nothing last forever, but hopefully by then something should have evolved and become aware of it’s own existence. Then it wouldn’t be long before death made his comeback. Ohh he wasn’t looking forward to that. When Death was in a mood you did not want to be on his bad side.
Then after Death, Pestilence would come oozing back as someone caught a cold, and finally War would storm in, as one group blamed something on another group.
But until then Famine was alone and able to unwind in peace.
He relaxed in his chair, picked up the remote and flicked through the channels until he came to his favourite station.
“Next up on the diet channel, a none stop run of how to loose those unwanted pounds.” Blurted out the voice on the television.
“You know,” Famine said to himself, “I have never felt this full in all my life.”