For Sale – Four Horses and One Apocalypse

“What is wrong with those people?”

I happened to be wandering by the Corral when I overheard the conversation between four of the old hands who’d just ridden in after a hard day in the fields.   The one speaking was shaking head as he turned his red horse to face the other three, sitting sadly on their mounts.   “It used to be I could count on a really big dust up between the nations every couple of decades.  Not these fiddly little things they have now.  Hardly worth my effort.”

“You’ve got that right,” answered the fellow on the pale horse.  “I could hardly keep up back in ’14, not to mention the glory days with Joe and Adolf just a little while later.”  He wiped a tear from his eyes.  “And friends like Tamerlain, Genghis, Alexander or even good old ‘Boney – they’re just not making them like they used to.”

“I can’t figure out what’s wrong with those people.  We keep injecting lots of hate, intolerance, greed and wonky economic theories into the mix.  It should have ignited world war three by now.  I tell you friends – I’m getting discouraged.  Maybe it’s time to put the horses up for sale and forget about the end of the world.”

“War may have a legitimate gripe but c’mon, Death – there’s lots of folks still dying to meet you.  Last I saw, you were still packing them in.”

Death looked annoyed.  “Not like it used to be.  And I suppose you’re happy with all those new fangled ‘noculations and improvements in farming.  Seems to me, Mr. fancy pants Famine Pestilence, that medicine and agri-business are cutting you off at the knees.”

A younger fellow on a white horse piped up.  “Now boys!  Let’s not get knockin’ at each other.  We don’t need to be pessimistic.  We have a few things up our sleeves.  Like the way Famine Pestilence is always working on new strains and super bugs.”

“Kind of you to say, but even this new COVID is nothing like the good old black death.  I used to reap one in three.  I ask you – what’s one in a hundred?  And even worse, some people are working overtime to reduce the toll from that.  Do they think life is sacred or something?  I ask you – is that fair?  These days I just can’t seem to get anything going that has enough traction… I thought I had a real winner with Ebola, but they found a way around it before I could get it airborne. Damn!  What’s wrong with those people?”

Pestilence spit on the ground and watched a patch of grass turn brown.  “It’s a good thing our young fellow stepped forward to take over riding the white horse.”  They all looked over at man on the white horse, who nodded modestly.  “I tell you, things would be pretty bleak if it wasn’t for Pollution stepping forward when he did.”

Pollution smiled.  “I’m doing my best, but you three are still tops in my book.  I can’t agree with Death, despite the few pitfalls we’ve been experiencing.  Just look around.  People’s attitudes are polarized, societies are fragmenting, prices are skyrocketing, resources are dwindling, incomes are dropping for everyone but the billionaires, and they’re still selecting leaders that work with us hand in glove.”  Pollution laughed.  “I grant you that my work has been increasing exponentially.  It won’t be long before there’s not a plot of land or source of water they haven’t fouled or filled with plastic.  You’d think they would have figured out that most of the problem stems from unbridled population growth.  There’s seven and a half billion of them and they’re still cranking out new ones like there’s no tomorrow.”  They all laughed at his little joke as they headed off to the saloon.

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