With a cloud of exhaust fumes, and trailing black clouds of filth,
arrived on the scene. The old Chevy Impala he'd arrived in seemed to be
on its last legs, emitting a fearful groaning noise when he switched off
the engine, and continuing to ping about and sputter for minutes after
he'd left the car.
"Greetings, brothers, " he said as he emerged from the smoke. He was a
handsome man, appearing to be about as old as Famine, but with dark hair
and darker skin. He was clad in gray pants and a gray shirt, but both
his clothing, and his skin only showed through in patches. Covering him
from head to toe was what appeared to be some sort of dusty, filthy
Famine laughed loudly when he saw Pestilence's figure emerge. "What
could possibly have happened to you this time, and where did you get
that car??" he asked. "When I last saw you you were, for once, clean,
tidy, and well-attired. How is it you always manage to end up this way
at the end of the day?"
"Well, Pest... to be honest, I've no idea. I happened upon this car on
the side of the road on the way here. It appeared to be dead, but I had
some time, so I thought I'd take a look at it. It only needed some minor
adjustments to the carbeurator before it was roadworthy. I think,
however, there was some sort of hole in the exhaust line, as the car
seemed to fill up with smoke the minute I got it out on the road. I was
just in such a hurry to get here by that point that I didn't notice I
was quickly being covered in soot."
"Well, " said War, "we certainly noticed. We noticed your car about
twenty minutes ago when you finally came over that ridge. How you manage
to miss such obvious things is quite beyond me. You're as careless as
"War's in one of his moods again, " Famine said, deftly avoiding a hug
his brother was attempting to give him. "And keep your soot-covered hulk
of a body far away from my clothing, thanks. There's not a dry-cleaner's
for hundreds of miles."
Pestilence tried his best to look offended, but couldn't keep from
smiling. Death approached his youger brother and gave him a hug. "I've
nothing to fear, " said Death. "This black clothing couldn't get any
Pestilence took a moment to examine his eldest brother. "You do look
sharp, D.... but why do you keep the skeleton look?"
"Some habits are hard to break, Pestilence. And besides that, after this
much time, I'm rather fond of this appearance. It is more home to me
than any others."
War looked uncomfortable. "Well, " he said, "it's time to get down to
business. We're not here for a simple reunion. There is work to be
Death took a moment to look upon his brothers, as he so rarely saw them
all together, and then said, "Indeed, War. Indeed. The task we have
before us is greater than any we've yet seen, and the reward is less. I
had merely wanted to enjoy the brief moment of our gathering before we
began our planning."
War shifted again uneasily. "I understand, D. As much as I hate to admit
it, it is good to see us all together again." He cast a glance at his
younger brothers. "Yes... it's even good to see your faces again,
Pest... Fam... but the task we have before us is at hand."
Pestilence, Famine, Death, and War all gathered around the tree to hear the task that was before them, and to plan their course of action.