the riders: death, pt. 1

I'm not sure how to describe Death. I want to say "forbiddingly beautiful" but that doesn't actually touch on the specifics of how tall she is, or how she has legs that seem to go on forever--literally--or how she has a knowing look, the sort of look that says she knows the only thing that's ultimately important about anyone. I guess that's probably true. The rest is just killing time.

She took me on a tour of the cities I'd ruined--my words, not hers--and I spent the time in between stops flirting with Death. She wasn't exactly receptive, but I got the feeling she wasn't one for warmth and affection. Her kiss was cold and passionless and utterly electrifying. I can't remember a single thing she said to me, or if she ever said anything at all.

At every ruined city there were throngs of supplicants, begging me for a cure, or to help them or their families. And those few who retained power would ask me for help restoring order and stopping the riots. I was hailed as a savior everywhere I went, while under my orders people were starving to death and dying of plague and killing each other and trying to become kings and queens in this new hell.

And at every city I promised deliverance, while Death stood behind me, silently watching, and I knew even as I spoke she was stalking the city streets. I used words I knew weren't really mine, but I'd taken and made my own. I talked about saving people from themselves--giving them what they really needed instead of what they thought they wanted--being a man of action when the rest of history was just men of words. And they cheered and cheered.

Then the tour ended and I had nothing left to do but go home.

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