Performance Review: The Four Horsemen

Gentlemen. Firstly, let me congratulate you on what has been a fairly busy century for us all. We know that the work that you have all undertaken for the past 100 years has essentially been ‘on the job training’ for the actual Apocalypse, and all four of you have shown great promise.

In particular, some of the self-directed strategy initiatives conceived by individuals have shown us that our implementation of negotiated accountabilities for each self-managing employee was, indeed, a wise decision.

Your individual reports have been collated, and have been included in this document to assist in the interdepartmental communication process, a problem area identified during the last round of SWAT Analysis reports we asked you to file in 1965.


This has been a particularly busy century for you, and we’re happy with your performance over the period of review. There are, however, a couple of small problems.

We are pleased with the exponential growth of completed tasks appearing in your monthly reports, however we fear you might be over-committing yourself. The incidence of ‘near-death’ experiences has jumped an unacceptable 65% since 1971. This burgeoning figure needs to be halted. May we suggest you allocate more time to the individual deaths in hospitals, rather than wasting entire afternoons at the football on the off chance of a stadium disaster?

In writing this assessment, we have taken into account the numerous memos you’ve sent regarding workflow from other departments.

In the short term, you’ll be pleased to know that we have seconded key staff from the departments of Luck and Fate to assist you. They will be applying their own methodology to assist in getting you back on track. However, your autonomous workload should remain stable. Taking too many at once causes problems, a lesson you should have learnt before your recent work in New York.
We want you to succeed and meet your goals, but not by the easiest route possible. You will need to be in peak form come the Apocalypse, and you’ll thank us for being this strict with you when that time arrives.


We are more than happy with your performance this century. In particular, your re-introduction of trenches to the field of battle in Europe was a masterstroke. WWII, we believe, was the pinnacle of your achievement for the assessment period, but we also acknowledge that, between major battles, you have been keeping yourself busy with minor incursions and skirmishes around the globe.

In particular, we’re pleased with your new ‘micro-scale’ warfare. Introducing ‘turf’ wars to the suburbs of major metropolitan areas has proven very useful, particularly for Death, who has not had to travel so far out of the major cities to make his collections.

We know you understand the workflow structure of this organisation, and that you need to keep both labour motility and the geographic warzone concentration ratio very slim to facilitate maximum efficiency for Death and, where applicable, Pestilence. With this in mind, please be aware that whilst scattered skirmishes and guerrilla warfare in mountainous regions may well be the most entertaining aspect of your position, they don’t really leave the high concentration of putrefaction that Pestilence requires to carry out his microbiological specialty work. We hired him for his abilities with germs, but since the humans legislated against your two departments in tandem, his caseload has dropped significantly.

On a final note, we are pleased that you have changed tactic, and moved with the times. Getting yourself elected President of the United States was a move of unparalleled genius, and we’re very happy that the faith we placed in you when we hired you hasn’t been erroneous.


You have been our poorest performer for the past 100 years, and we think that perhaps you may have been resting on your laurels and letting the other departments pick up the slack. You have let modern ‘science’ get on top of your work, and as far as we can see, you’ve got a lot of catching up to do if you’re to be ready for the Apocalypse.

We acknowledge your recent efforts with viruses – in particular HIV has kept Death reasonably busy, but with such a narrow initial vector program in place, it was never going to be wildly successful. This is a clear-cut case of putting all of your eggs in one basket.

Your continued attempts to claim Cancer as your own work has been brought to our attention. This must stop now, as we have all read the story of the little boy who cried wolf.

Occasional plagues every now and then won’t cut the mustard either. We all know you can do locusts at the drop of a hat, and frankly they aren’t advancing your case. Simply conjuring up insects when times are a little lean is becoming passé. There hasn’t been a decent rain of toads for more than 200 years, despite frequent requests from us that you show us evidence of your work.
Bubonic Plague has disappeared, Tuberculosis is controlled, and the humans have almost wiped out Small Pox as well. You’d better hope that War manages to sell his stocks of it to those wonderful folks in Iraq before March 2003, or you’re going to find yourself looking around for a new job.


A disappointing start to the century has been more than made up for by your recent efforts in Northern Africa. We understand that, for the most part, your workflow depends on how busy War has been, but we note that your recent development of harsh climate control, including El Nino, has been working well. Crop Failure is still the index by which we will be grading your performance, and as it stands you’ve been doing quite well. We’re pleased with your efforts in Australia – you managed to record a drought in every decade throughout the 1900s.

We received your memo concerning the interference by celebrities in your efforts, and you probably noticed that we had Death send two very clear warnings to Bob Geldof. He’s also working on Sting and Bono at the moment, and we’re expecting results very soon.

There’s still the matter of your overall performance, though. WE have it on good authority that fewer people died from famine in the 20th century than in the 19th century, despite the fact that the population grew by 400% in those 100 years. You’ll need to pull your socks up, straighten up and fly right. We know it hasn’t been a total disaster, which is why your contract hasn’t been terminated. We have faith in you, and we’ve seen you work. If you are having motivational problems, we can arrange for you to take a short holiday, and perhaps see a guidance counsellor. Just keep us informed.


We still don’t have a firm date for the Apocalypse, but we’ve got our IT department running up some code to see if they can second guess The Creator on this one. We’re envisaging sometime mid-century, which means that you’ll all need to be on your toes, and make sure you check your email every day. We didn’t spend $50,000 on those laptops in the 80s so you could sit around playing Solitaire all day.

Your salary reviews have been finalised, and most of you will be receiving a small end-of-century bonus. Wages will continue to rise, in line with the Consumer Price Index of the United Kingdom, and we’ll be instituting a performance-based bonus for each decade. Gentlemen – these bonuses are not automatic. We are giving each of you the opportunity to shine. Dazzle us.

If you need to contact me at any time, you may do so my calling my secretary and making an appointment.

Yours truly,

Thomas Coltrane
Grand Master
United Grand Lodge of Freemasons.

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