The Grey Lady greeted me this afternoon, and careful lest I should offend her, I offered her my arm and we began to walk, her fingers grasping my arm at first so gently, as is her way, her mirror eyes wide, unassuming and inquisitive, as though surprised to meet a friend, if friends we could be called, upon the road. I asked her if she returned to town for business or for pleasure, and learned, as we so often do with old acquaintances, of whom we can be so forgetful, that she kept horses, or rather cared for the horses of one who did.
He was a horseman like no other, who all knew by reputation. The youngest of four brothers, he was one of that unsociable and wealthy sort who are better known on paper than in their own person. He kept but one mare, who in the Grey Lady’s neglect had broken free and sought now for her true master, and now both Grey Lady and the horseman followed closely in pursuit of the beast, whose fiendish aims became all the more clear as the red glow of daybreak grew above and before us. None who had met the creature had survived its deadly rampage, a horse who by her fatal luck might claim herself kin of every black cat and unruly saltshaker.
“And how might I avoid this creature, if I chance to cross her fearsome path?” I asked the Grey Lady, who sweetly smiled, and bid me closer.
“Run not towards her,” she replied.
“And then away?” I asked.
“Never there either,” she answered.
“And how to stop her pillage and her destruction?” I asked.
“Why mount the beast, for those who meet her eyes will stare forever, and those who run will be slain, and those who cross her deadly path forever cursed. Mount the beast, and see what you can see on the back of such a creature. For those who stop in their path to watch her will see in the tunnel of her eyes only what they have seen before, but they who mount the great horseman’s steed will see all the world.”
Long we walked, until finally upon the horizon we saw the mare, her brute form swelling, her silver eyes wild, somehow compelling, her coat gleaming, on her flanks the fresh dew steaming. The wind whistled as she passed. The pale horse had come at last. I breathed what might be my last breath, and lay in wait for steed of Death.