“How could you have gotten the time wrong? We give you one job, and you screw it up. How hard is it to watch a clock?” A woman groused, astride a handsome white steed with a braided black mane.
She herself was so pale that she looked ill, her blonde hair hanging lank and greasy around her gaunt face. She covered her mouth as she hacked out a violent, bloody cough. Her clothes hung loose on her too-thin frame, a threadbare suit that was stained with mysterious spots; it looked as though she would blow away in a slight breeze. Her mount’s eyes glowed a bright, sickly yellow, and its bones stuck through its thin, patchy coat.
There were three people following her, also riding horses, black, crimson roan, and white with gray spots, all single file, and for a few moments, there was only the clop, clop, clop sounds of the horses’ hooves on the flat, barren earth. ‘Penelope’ had demanded that they keep to the back roads and stay out of sight, at least until they got their bearings enough to blend in.
“I’m sorry, I just lost the watch! It’s such a human concept, anyway,” One of her companions snapped back in reply, his teeth chattering as he struggled to keep in time with his horse’s movements.
His accent was vaguely European, maybe British or perhaps Irish. He was dressed in a black muscle shirt and dirty, ripped jeans, with combat boots on his feet. He was frightfully pale, with the only accent to his milky complexion bright red freckles adorning his nose, cheeks, and forehead. “You’re not my mother, Pen.”
Penelope glared over at him, her brows drawing together in annoyance.
“Will you please keep your voice down? At least until we get to actual civilization. Out here we’re too noticeable.”
“We need to get a hotel,” A quiet, placating voice piped up from the rear. “We need to get out of sight while we figure this all out. And all of this arguing isn’t helping anything, you two. We’ll talk more when we get settled. We’re just wasting time with these senseless quarrels.”
The voice was dry and soft, like crumbling leaves in a high wind, and female, but it was deeper than normal. The woman sat astride the roan horse was a tall, dark young woman, with bright amber eyes and dark corkscrew curls, pulled into an elegant bun at the nape of her neck, sweat glimmering faintly on her skin. She wore a ripped tank top with a black bra peeking through the fabric, and jean shorts and flip flops. Her steed was dark, black with a splash of gray splattered like wet paint across its muzzle. It nickered quietly, as if in agreement with its rider.
.At the girl’s words, both Pen and Warren quieted, though they were still mean-mugging one another when they thought Deidre wasn’t looking. The sun was still high in the sky, and soon all four of the group were exhausted, ready to leave the back roads of the desert and assume their place as normal humans, even though they were literally the last beings to be called normal.
After about an hour, they finally came to the outskirts of a town, small but busy, bustling, and soon the sun was setting, providing them vital cover.“Does everyone have IDs on them?” Deidre asked, patting the pockets of her shorts down. “If we don’t have that or any cash, we’re kinda screwed.” Her mind was racing; there was so much to do, so much to prepare for, and she couldn’t deny, at least to herself, how annoyed she was with Warren for losing track of the watch that would indicate just when the Apocalypse would begin, though she’d never admit it aloud.
“How do the humans keep track of all this stuff?” Warren complained, and Pen shrugged; it had been years, centuries, actually, since they’d taken humans for vessels. She had no idea how the humans kept track of everything they needed and had to do; it was a conundrum that had plagued her from the time she’d been formed.
Dee dug in her pocket and pulled out a slim leather billfold; there was indeed a valid ID and a fat stack of cash. She grinned to herself, flushed with this tiny victory. “First, we need to get a hotel, and then, after a few days rest, we’ll get more permanent living arrangements sorted out. Pen, could you please find a place to hide the horses? We’re already sticking out like sore thumbs.”
“Look at you, Deidre, picking up those human expressions. You’ll blend in like it’s nothing,” Warren quipped, his green eyes gleaming in the dying sunlight.“Will you stop griping?” She replied, turning to him and putting her fists on her hips, one wrapped around the money she’d found. “After all, this is your fault to begin with. So it’d be great if you could be quiet for once."With that, she flounced off to find a hotel, Pen’s shocked laughter following in her wake.