The Apocalypse

Flames crackled ferociously around the base of the Big Ben clock tower. All around there were screams of terror as man, woman and child were struck mercilessly by lightning bolts raining down from the blood red sky. Smoke billowed from the Palace of Westminster as the old building began to collapse in on itself. With a sound like thunderclaps, cracks began to appear along the roads and pavements, jagged, crooked and white-hot. The sound of brakes being slammed filled the air as cars and bikes tried desperately to avoid the chaos but the high-pitched screeches were followed by the crunch of metal on metal and glass shattering as the vehicles collided.

The crumbling entrance of the House of Commons was shrouded in darkness when a man, wearing a torn and blood covered suit and sweat dripping from his dishevelled brown hair came tearing out into the flame-filled daylight. Seconds behind the Prime Minister’s footsteps, the doors gave way and broke apart, consumed by amber fire. He froze, his chest heaving in panic. Something lurked in the corner of his eye…just out of his full perception. The clip-clop of hoofbeats echoed in the atmosphere, getting louder and louder as they drew closer. The Prime Minister blinked, closing his eyes just for a split-second. When he opened them again, a magnificent chestnut stallion with ruby eyes was watching him intently. It gave a growling neigh that made the Prime Minister quake in his shoes. The ruby eyes narrowed maliciously.

On its back sat a Rider clad in an emerald cloak with a crimson chest-piece. He wore a black helmet decorated with red runes and as he rode closer, the Prime Minister could see that by his waist, he carried a two-handed great-sword. The Prime Minister could feel the cold sweat of fear all over his trembling body. More lightning bolts showered the landscape; the Prime Minister looked up in time to see a bolt hit a young woman squarely in the chest. With an ear-piercing shriek, the woman burst into flames and seconds later she was nothing more than a pile of smoking ash on the ground. The Prime Minister’s eyes widened, horrified. This was no ordinary lightning. His gaze returned to the Rider who had pulled his stallion to a halt.

The Rider unsheathed his sword and pointed it directly at the Prime Minister. He held the sword comfortably in one hand, keeping it level and never once losing its balance.  The hilt was encrusted with rubies that sparkled under the glare of the raging fires. Then he spoke, a harsh yet commanding deep voice, fixing his black eyes upon the shaking Prime Minister.

“I am the second Horseman. Your people know me as War,” the Rider declared. What little colour there had been in the Prime Minister’s cheeks drained away and he stood as a white as a ghost. “You will kneel,” War continued. When the Prime Minister did not respond, War stared at him and he felt an invisible hand upon his shoulder, dragging him to his knees. “By the divine power vested in me, I sentence you to death and fiery torment.” The Prime Minister shook so terribly that he lost control of himself. As warm urine trickled down the inside of his leg he clapped his hands together in a desperate prayer. “Your last words?” War asked in a voice devoid of emotion. The Prime Minister opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. He closed it. War nodded and swung his sword back, aiming the blade at the Prime Minister’s exposed throat. The ancient forged metal whistled through the air until it met with his neck, tearing through the flesh like a knife through butter. War grabbed the severed head, holding it aloft as the Prime Minister’s body let out a final death-throw and collapsed backwards onto the ground, blood spurting from the torn arteries. War tossed the head down beside the body, watching it roll until it came to a rest beside the neck it had once sat upon. The eyes were wide, fixed and staring. War sheathed his sword and steered his stallion away. With a final echoing neigh, horse and rider rode off into the fire.

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