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The Voice Of Reason

Four Horsemen Complain Times are Tough

Despite hype to the contrary, the Four Horsemen have been severely hampered in recent years due to various scientific and social advances, according to a rare interview in Rolling Stone.

"Do you have any idea how difficult medical science has made my job?" complained Pestilence. "There hasn't been a really good plague in centuries. AIDS, avian flu... they're flashy and they get headlines. But you guys are sequencing the bloody DNA of every wee beastie I can come up with, and I can't get beyond a minor percentage of the population. In the 14th century, the Black Death killed a third of Europe. Do you really think I could pull that off today?"

The interview was surprising to many policy analysts, who generally consider current events to be dominated by trends favorable to the traditional strengths of the Horsemen.

"Poppycock," snorted War. "People forget that I'm an old-fashioned fellow. Back in the day, armies fought during the summer and returned home to harvest. There were treaties that tied things up nicely. Armies clashing against armies: that's the stuff for me. Actually it was all going well up until about fifty years ago. But these drawn-out guerilla struggles... they don't do much for me."

The Horsemen operate out of headquarters in Brisbane, Malibu, and Scranton, with franchises throughout the world. Their appearances have become increasingly rare, with their last three scheduled tours canceled due to low ticket sales. They have also been increasingly bickering amongst themselves, with rumors that Famine has actually gotten an apartment of his own and refuses to talk to War.

"Goddamn UN food aid," said Famine. "Nobody takes me seriously anymore. I mean, sure, people go hungry, but it's not like in the good old days when the world's population really led a subsistence level existence. Nowadays there's actually plenty of food and the means to distribute it. The only thing that keeps me going is incompetence and corruption."

Famine has apparently been a silent partner in a number of lawsuits challenging genetically modified foods in the United States, fomenting fear to the greatest extent possible.

"Things started to go downhill for me when they discovered vitamins and the concept of nutrition," groused Famine. "If they ever approve that beta-carotene enhanced rice for human consumption I'm throwing in the towel."

Even the leader of the four, Death, seems to have lost some of his onetime glory.

"The thing you have to realize is, it takes folks a lot longer to die nowadays than it used to," said the grim spectral figure as he stirred three packs of Equal into his coffee. "Life expectancy used to be about thirty five in Roman days. Human lifespan is up to nearly eighty now. Eighty! Essentially I have to work twice as hard now as I used to to bring each person in. Plus these three layabouts aren't doing their job anymore," he said, jerking a thumb at the other Horsemen. "I get nothing but excuses... it's 'vaccination' this and 'Geneva Convention' that and I don't even want to hear about the rice."

Things are so bad for the Horsemen that there are rumors that one will step down, leaving a possible opening. Several contenders have indicated interest in the position if one becomes available.

"Lots of people think Spam should join us," admitted Death. "And he really wants the job. I mean, he must leave me a hundred messages a day."

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