Monday Rewrite: Ezekiel Jones and the Room of Snakes

Where was it, he was sure it was here somewhere. The torch flickered and the shadows danced on the ancient temple wall. Surely he heard right, that nudge, that whisper about the hole in the wall. He stops searching, narrows his eyes, quietens himself. There! Right there. A little to his left, so small he’d miss it. If he wasn’t looking. But he is looking, and now he’s digging away at it, fingers burrowing into the surface, nails splintering as he goes. And bits of wall litter the corridor at his feet now, and there’s something showing through the gap. Is it… a door? Hidden all this time? He burrows on. The gap opens up and the bigger chunks fall. And there it is. He holds up the torch. Reaches for the crusty handle. Turns it and pushes. And a blast of foul air washes over him. He holds the torch in front of him, braces himself in case the place is some creature’s lair. But there is quiet and he edges in until he stands in the centre of this lost space. He looks around and studies the walls. Mutters to himself now.

‘Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?’

And not just snakes, but other hideous creatures that send chills down his spine. The wall is covered with them, ornate designs and intricate etchings. And the smell? He steps and his boot smushes into something, a pile of dung, one of many on the floor there. Sculpted lovingly into detailed brown statues. Still dung all the same though. Then he hears a footfall and swings round, the restless light of his torch falls across the faces. He’s not alone in here now. A line of figures stare him down, lips curled, voices snarling as they step closer. They’re holding burners in their hands, their fingers stained and sullied from the sculpting. A cloud rises above their heads. He can smell it now. Incense. This is a place of strange worship. These men come to offer their allegiance to the creatures on the wall. They don’t look happy about his presence among them. He waves the torch at them, sparks showering their faces, and they pause. He jabs at them again, more sparks fly and the figures step back. They start to fade into the gloom… and then suddenly reappear behind him, their arms wrapping around him, slithering like those snakes, their voices hissing at him. He twists and turns and tries to tear them off him but it’s no good, their poison is going to kill him. And then he wakes. And he’s alone. The dream still real in his mind. People forgetting the one who made them, the one who forged snakes and stones from nothing, and instead giving their minds, souls, hearts and strength to the work of his hands. Swapping the creator for the creation. He shivers. Later he will dream of a valley, and zombie bones reforming and re-fleshing and re-living. A hope-filled way back from the dry doom of this lost way of life, buried in this musty room of snakes.

Ezekiel 8 & 37

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