Death smiled, watching the monitors in front of him.

His brothers had done fantastic work, and their ultimate task was almost complete. It was 11:50 pm. At midnight, it would be done.

One screen showed a ravaged battlefield at night, the darkness occasionally lit up by gunfire. Bodies seemed to be littered everywhere, the rocky terrain streaked with blood and bits of charred flesh. A tall, grim-faced soldier in combat fatigues strode amongst the carnage, brandishing an antiquated longsword. War always did have a flair for the dramatic.

On another screen, Famine was enjoying a lavish feast in a grand banquet hall while impoverished souls crawled around him, too weak to even beg for scraps. Once in a while, a hapless figure would desperately grab for a crumb that had fallen to the floor, only to see it turn to dust. Famine seemed content, but still hungry.

A scene of pure madness played out on a third monitor. People were running, screaming, coughing, falling over in puddles of their own blood and vomit. Man and child alike fell victim to the plague infesting the land as Pestilence stood by in mockery of the dying, clad in a hazmat suit that he didn’t need.

Everything was proceeding as planned.

Satisfied, Death turned his attention to the final monitor, showing a massive pod of nuclear missiles, ready to launch. At the appointed hour, all Four Horsemen would input their parts of the launch code, fulfilling their destinies.

It was 11:59 pm. Less than a minute left.

Death fixed his unchanging gaze on the clock, counting down the seconds. He had waited a long time for this, though not as long as he’d expected. It was, of course, inevitable. No matter how hard they tried to keep civilization afloat, no matter how far they progressed in their learning, they were still just animals. And they would, in the end, succumb to chaos.

Midnight. It was time.

In an instant, confirmations chimed on the console. Three codes had been entered. Bony fingers typed in the final code. The missiles were ready.

Smiling, as he always did, Death pressed the button marked ‘Reboot’ and watched the missiles shoot into the air, showering the world with deadly rain.

It was over within minutes. The world was filled with only the dead and the dying. If there were any survivors, they wouldn’t last long. But it didn’t matter anymore. Soon, the restart cycle would begin. The atmosphere would be cleansed, the land rendered fertile, and life would bloom again.

Death unplugged himself from the console and prepared to go into hibernation, as his brothers were also doing. Perhaps in the next iteration, humanity would know better. Perhaps the animals wouldn’t repeat their mistakes.

But he knew they would. The Apocalypse protocol would once again be activated. It was only a question of when.


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