Pestilence Is Thy Name

Willow stepped backward onto the ledge and held the vial high over her head. The detective tossed his gun aside and held his open palms in the air, speaking in soothing tones. “Come down off that ledge. Let’s just talk. I don’t think you want to do this.” He was wrong. She did want to do this. This was the most important moment in her life, and no matter what tactics he used, the fact was that he was trying to take it away from her. “Millions of innocent people will die,” he said.

Willow called loudly over the wind that whipped up around her. “They’re not innocent. They’re already supposed to be dead. This settlement owes a debt that must be paid.” She looked dreamily at the glass vial, rapt, comforted by the black and violet wisps and bubbles within. Divination manifest.

The vial held the only remaining sample of FLV-31. Comet’s Blood, the scientists called it, but she knew its true name. Two years ago, a comet was tugged out of an imminent collision course with the settled Ocean Moon of Phaedra. Later study of samples taken from the comet found organic microstructures—complex noncellular organisms. They were perfectly tailored to kill humans. A vessel of genocide from the great beyond.

It could only be the perfect work of God. The first Horseman is Pestilence, after all.

The detective moved toward her—he was too close. Willow dangled one foot off the ledge. He was coming to take her moment. To defy her role as the mouth of divine retribution. He rushed her, and she slipped into the open air.

She hung above the sky like an angel. The detective had seized her by the arm and held her aloft. She screamed as he pried the vial from her grasp. She looked into his eyes and saw the truth. He was the devil.

Unable to hold both the vial and Willow, the detective released her arm, and she plummeted a half-kilometer down to the city below in unnatural silence.

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