Summer’s cottage was quiet. There was no buzzing of insects, no chirping of birds, no breeze to riffle the leaves on the trees. It was as if everything was holding its breath, waiting for the reaction of the three who had gone through the door. Daughter, mother and grandmother to the woman in the coffin inside, they looked like normal women. Normal, apart from their eyes.
The sun streaming through the windows illuminated Summer lying in a bed of petals, her wavy blonde hair tangled with dahlia and primrose blossoms, sweet pea and marigold. Her dress was patterned with bold sunflowers reflecting a rich sheen of life that was absent from her face. She had always been so full of energy and happiness. But no more.
The youngest of the three had the appearance of a twelve year-old. She was slim and willowy – gangly even – with smooth, pale features. A gentle rose glow brightened her cheeks. The glow was deeper than usual because of her sorrow, and tears pitter-pattered on to her light green dress. She inhaled deeply, sucking in the perfume of Summer’s flowers, then reached out and stroked her mother’s cheek. “She looks like she’s only sleeping. Maybe this is just a dream, and she’ll wake us all up from it.”
The oldest of the women put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed.
The girl glanced up at her, then back to the coffin. She leaned over and, with a trembling hand, placed a stalk with a daffodil bud beside her mother. “It was only an accident, wasn’t it? We don’t have to –”
“It was no damned accident! They killed my daughter.” The woman who interrupted was dressed in rich reds and oranges, colours echoed in her hair and in her shadows on her brown, wrinkled skin. Her round face was contorted in anger. “She was pollinating, trying to protect the last of the bees, bees those bastards were destroying with their noise and their pollution. They poisoned her!”
She laid a large, crisp sycamore leaf beside her daughter. “Those human vermin have troubled us for the last time.”
“Hush now,” the oldest said. She was as thin as her daughter was fat, and dressed all in white, her narrow, severe face topped by tight-cropped grey hair. She placed a sprig of holly in the coffin and, gifts all given, the women stared at Summer for a long moment.
Their eyes were the jet black of infinity – not empty, blank voids, but mirrors of everything that was and that would ever be, scattered across unbounded depths.
The old woman turned to the still-living members of her family and calmly explained what would happen. “Whether they’re deliberately malicious or just unthinkingly selfish, enough is enough. We’ve tried volcanos and earthquakes, but the warnings haven’t worked. It’s time to don our armour and raise our weapons. It’s time to purge the world.”
The sky darkened, as if it was taking heed of the woman’s words too. In the deepening gloom, glints of icy silver flashed and sparkled in her eyes.
“Daughter.” She looked at the round woman. “Mount your chestnut horse and take your arrows of fire and drought. Burn their crops. Destroy their harvests. Visit a season of famine and starvation upon humankind.”
The woman gave a single nod. It was fitting that she would be the first to follow Summer.
“When your task is complete, I will go forth on my white charger with my twin swords of hate and fear. I will attack their foolish leaders’ minds, inflating distrust into selfish paranoia. Petty disagreements will blossom into senseless military action across the world. A season of bloody wars will redden the snow.
The girl looked up, tears still streaming from her fathomless eyes. “Is this our only choice?”
“It might already be too late, but we must act. You will veil your gentle greens in black, and take your ebony stallion and your breath of poison. Instead of new life, bring disease and pestilence to those who remain after my winter.”
All three sets of eyes showed flecks of silver in their blackness.
“After we are all done, in place of Summer, there will come a final season of death on a riderless pale horse.”
-Featured in Issue #1.