Aadhya pulled the hood of her sweatshirt down lower and tucked her long, damp hair back in place. She had to stay hidden, she had to keep moving or she was toast. She did not know who was after her but she knew that no forcer on Earth could help her now. The crowd milled around her but she always felt alone and helpless, even in the middle of a crowd. He followed her wherever she went and nobody would believe her. This was the third city she had been through and she knew he was still right behind her.
She had been desperate the week before, tired and hungry and scared out of her mind. She felt she could not stop for long but she had tried to research how to ditch somebody tracking you. She hadn’t attended any of her high school classes and she had ditched her cell phone weeks ago. It had not worked at all. She had left town, using fake names on public transportation and had done her best to cover her tracks. Yet she still had glimpsed him every time she stopped running. If she stayed in one place for longer than a few hours, he appeared.
She wished she knew who he was. She had been walking home from school one day alone after drama club and she had spotted him by chance two blocks away. Fear had stabbed into her heart as if it was a primal instinct. She had run home, ducking through alleys and backyards but he had found her. Her parents didn’t see him and eventually she had to fake calm in order to slip away before the morning sun. She went to the police but they were no help and only tried to detain her but she kept running anyway.
One night she had broken into a bookstore to find somewhere to sleep, mostly because she noticed it had a back door. After a few books on the occult, she had a new perspective and a new plan of action. Weeks before she would not have believed but after seeing what she had seen, she was either losing her mind or believing in magic. She had researched symbols, runes and spells and had come up with designs she felt could protect her, mask her. She used the henna skills her aunt had taught her to draw the symbols all over her body, using a mirror when necessary. She noticed that she had quite a bit more time to stop now but she had to keep moving.
She also had to keep covered up. She noticed that when adults caught sight of all the henna tattoos, they were either scared or concerned. Last week a nun had stopped her and tried to wrangle her into the system. She had slipped away but realized that she was now on her own. At best, nobody would believe her. At worst, they would think she was crazy or a demon worshiper or something. But she knew that he was real. He was out there somewhere all the time and he wanted her. He had even almost gotten her once.
It was in the New York Subway. She was pushing her way through a revolving gate when a hand shot through the bars and caught her jacket. She looked back but she could not see his face and that scared her more than anything ever had. She fought hard and her jacket had torn and she had gotten on the train and far away. A lot of nights she woke up in a cold sweat with that image and feeling burned into her brain. She would often get up and go at that point, unable to get back to sleep. The whole experience had led to more exhaustion. She was just so tired.
“Enough!” The voice rang out like a festival PA system. It was impossibly loud especially in the middle of a busy city street. Aadhya looked around and was shocked to realize that all the people were gone. The cars were gone too, even the parked ones. There was nothing between her and that man.
“What do you want!?” She screamed at the figure. He was somehow becoming clearer but also somehow his features didn’t register in her mind. She blinked a few times to clear her vision.
“Aadhya Kumta, you have lead me on a merry chase but the time for running is over. It is time for you to accept your destiny. You will come with me.” He said.
“No. I won’t!” She yelled, backing up as fast as she could but it suddenly felt like walking in thick mud. “What do you want from me?”
“I want you to become who you are supposed to be. I want you to be what you are supposed to be.”
“What is that? What am I?” She asked, her voice faltering.
He was suddenly in front of her and he placed his palm on her forehead, her hood falling away. He released her and she staggered backwards. She looked down and saw all of that henna ink dripping onto the pavement. That just wasn’t possible. She turned and faced a plate glass window and watched her skin grow pale and her hair turn white. She turned back towards the man, a helpless look on her face.
“You have become Death, Destroyer of Worlds. You are the first of the four Horseman.” He said with an amused chuckle. “Sorry, I guess the term is outdated now.”
“I don’t understand.” Aadhya said softly.
He smiled. “Come with me, my Death. I will explain the coming days. Come with me and we will join with your sisters in bringing this world to its knees.”