Monday Rewrite: Potential

He stands in the sun. The day hits him hard and all he can do is blink repeatedly. He’s so used to the dark that looking at the light is too painful. Too strange. He stands and his body revives in the caress of the day. Open space. The desert is alive with the sound of creatures, the breath of the wind, the taste of salt on the breeze. His foot kicks against something. He opens his eyes and forces himself to keep looking. Bones. Everywhere. Dead remains of an army once assembled here. Arms, legs, digits, skulls. Scattered like a giant’s jigsaw across the valley. The place looks like one huge ribcage. He recoils at the crunching of dead knuckles under his feet. A huge cavernous wasteland, the rock walls rising up around him, and the floor an ancient riverbed now turned to sand and salt. He kicks at another bone, a skull with half its jaw ripped away. He picks it up, turns it in his fingers. It’s chalky and bits crumble away. In his mind an idea forms. A ridiculous idea. These bones don’t need to stay dead. This valley doesn’t have to be dry. There’s a choice. As mad as it seems there’s a choice. It’ll be ludicrous and he’ll appear insane but he can choose it if he wants. He drops the skull, and takes a step back, crushing bony vertebrae under his heels as he goes. His voice is barely a whisper, but he summons sound from somewhere. ‘Live,’ he rasps.’ Wake up and live.’ Nothing. It was a bad idea, summoned from the madness of his head. ‘Come on. Live! Don’t just sit there fading away day after day. Live.’ His voice grows louder. ‘Come on! Buck the trend! Start again! Wake up!’ He’s moving about the valley now, kicking at the lost bits of life. Urging them to shift in the sand and shuffle back together. He stops ranting. He stands. He waits. He listens. It begins as nothing but a faint sound. A rattle. A dry rasp of calcium reforming. Then it’s a ghoulish nightmare. Bones move, feet towards legs, legs towards pelvis, rib cages click onto shoulder blades, and skulls reform, jaws and sockets and plates meld back together. There’s no wind, no hurricane pushing them on, just the dry crackle and clicks of skeletons rebuilding. He stares open-mouthed. They are an army now, an army of death. No one’s moving, not even him, but as far as the eye can see there are fleshless people. ‘This is no good,’ he calls. ‘This is no good.’ And muscles and flesh begin to form on the bodies. Reversing decomposition, for a short time the bodies look like rotting carcasses, strips of flesh hang off. Bodily fluid seeps and drips to the valley floor, eyes hang from sockets and cheeks sag open, like torn water bags. But the reversal goes on, and the flesh slaps back into place. The regeneration goes on and finishes and the people stand there. Renewed, strong, healthy. He blows into the palm of each hand, grips the breath as if it were precious stones, throws his arms wide and flings it towards the army. He does it again and this time the wind around the valley gets up and begins to bluster back and forth, making the bodies sway and twist and turn, arms fly up and knees crackle under the force. He blows again and now there’s a hurricane, gusting through the place, so violently he can barely stand. He backs away and presses himself into the valley wall. The wind clutches at him, attempts to tear him out of the cleft, but he holds on. All around bodies rise up in the air like old leaves. They shudder and flick over, knock into each other and crunch limbs with one another. The wind blows until everyone is off the ground. Then suddenly, as if a door has been shut, the whole thing ends. The hurricane rushes away, the bodies hover then drop like rocks, and as they hit the valley floor there is a single unified cough. Air bursting from the lungs of these revived people. Their eyes burst wide. And smiles form on their faces. One by one the rejuvenated people stand to their feet, and dust off their clothes. Ready for a fresh start, for a new day. Ezekiel 37

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