“The Beginning is Nigh.”
Janice tsked. “Just ignore him.”
I paused, trying to remember what I had been about to say before the interruption, but the man's high-pitched thought-speak had scattered me like so many falling leaves. It had been a long time since we had heard the thought-speak of any others. A lot of our kind speak only with those that they knew in the before-life.
“The Beginning is Nigh,” he echoed.
“I want to hear what he says,” I tittered to her privately. Then, “Hello?”
“Hello?” he echoed, sounding equally unsure. He paused before continuing on a stronger note. “Are you a believer?”
“A believer?” I asked, hearing Janice groan.
“A believer in the Beginning. It is coming! There will be flesh on our bones once again. We will rise up and the earth will be our keepsake, as it was always meant to be, as it can only be for us, who have lain in its womb!”
Janice cackled. “Don't encourage him.”
“Be warned. Only those who Believe will Rise.” Everything about the prophet, from the serious timbre of his thought-speech to his freshly-dead impatience, reminded me of my before-life.
I held my proverbial tongue, listening to the thump and rumble of the live ones passing overhead. I checked over my bones, but didn't feel any stray nerve impulses. All of the sinews and ligaments had deteriorated long ago, the rotting corpses of plants and small creatures collapsing over me, filling in where my flesh had been. Though my bones remained, their calcium had long leached out, and I would never wiggle my toes again.
But the prophet was shouting, “Believe, believe!” and because it was his thoughts that I was hearing, I knew with absolute certainty that he did believe.
A part of me believed, too.
He was gasping now, his thoughts whipped into a frenzy. “The Beginning, it is here!”
“It's here!” I echoed without thinking. Other voices joined in the chant.
I could hear Janice tsk-tsking in the background, but her words were drowned out by our shouting. I believed, and I could feel the ground shaking. My bones creaked--the earth split away to reveal the blinding brightness of a full moon. My skull seemed to rise up of its own accord, and the vertebrae followed. I was standing up!
As I crawled out of the ground, I could see the bones of my hands gleaming in the moonlight. My spine creaked as I straightened and turned to the skeleton rising next to me, its gaunt eye sockets black in shadow. “You lied to me!” I shouted, and my shout was a real shout. “Where is my flesh?”
The other skeleton's hand rose to point over the top of the cemetery wall. Beyond were rolling hills topped with rows of multi-story houses. “Flesh,” he hissed, his jaw moving down and up once.
My bones tingled with hunger as we lept over gravestones, leaving chicken-foot patterns in the dirt behind us.
Learn more about Michelle Ristuccia at: http://wakingdreamsblog.blogspot.com/