Monday, February 9, 2009

Black Death

In the night they ran, under the guise of darkness, faceless forms clad in black, the wind parting before their silent onslaught.

A blur of motion, blades of grass bending momentarily, before springing back up, the only witnesses to their silent passage.

Human in form yet strangely fluid, the night distorts around them, weaving and warping into something sinister, malevolent.

Tireless, unceasing, they hurtle onward, swift silent sentinels of death.

Miles away, an old man stirs, in the feverish throes of death, beads of sweat peppering his clammy forehead.

And in that fevered fog of semi consciousness, that ephemerous state between this world and the next, the dying man sees, what mortal eyes blinded by the frail sparks of mortality cannot see.

With a wretched sob he cries out to warn of impending doom, sightless eyes transfixed at that invisible horror, pain racking his already failing body, but no words emerge.

Only blood specked froth on purple splotched skin.

Bear it, have faith, resigned family members cry, holding him tight.

A shuddering sigh, and he is gone, quiet sobs rising into the night, a dirge to the recently departed.

Under the cover of darkness they arrive, disappearing into the multitudinous shadows, sudden, silent.

Shrieks and wails pierce the night, for one by one the living fall, the crimson horror of blood and purplish spots on the body, sigils of death.

Then the last lights die, and they leave as silently, as they had arrived, thieves in the night.

Leaving naught but the miasma of death and decay, and silence, oppressive and sinister, deafening in its entirety.

P/s: Based loosely on the Black Death which exploded in 1347AD and subsided 3 years later (though it never really died out for another 200 years) but not before decimating more than half of Europe's population and crippling economies in the process.

"How many valiant men, how many fair ladies, breakfast with their kinfolk and the same night supped with their ancestors in the next world! The condition of the people was pitiable to behold. They sickened by the thousands daily, and died unattended and without help. Many died in the open street, others dying in their houses, made it known by the stench of their rotting bodies. Consecrated churchyards did not suffice for the burial of the vast multitude of bodies, which were heaped by the hundreds in vast trenches, like goods in a ships hold and covered with a little earth"

- Boccaccio, Giovanni, The Decameron vol. I

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