30 December, 2022

Fiction Friday - Seeking Safety

In my recent Bible reading, I read a prophecy that I know well, but I wanted to portray it in a different way. I hope no one will be offended by the literary license I took with this passage.

Mila crouched in the rocks and watched for movement. The valley below was well-sheltered, and she'd stay there all night if it looked safe. But safety could change in a moment. The floor of the valley was littered with old bones, which could mean it was abandoned, or could mean it was an active dumping ground. So she watched for movement. Animals, people, anything coming out of hidden crags or caves in the shadowy rocks.

"Show yourselves," she whispered as she made herself comfortable and pulled a dried cake of fruit and nuts from her pack. 

Soon enough an old man came out of a pathway beneath her vantage point. He was walking with a staff, and appeared to be talking to himself. She smiled. One crazy old man was not a major worry. The old man was undeterred by the scattered bones, and walked straight into the middle of the valley, looking around at the bones and scrub brush around his feet as he went. He'd probably cross straight through and be gone in a minute.

He stopped and stood still, apparently listening. Mila listened, too, but heard nothing. Not a whisper of wind. What a strange old man!

With a jerk he raised his arms up to shoulder height, the staff in one hand, the other splayed, palm facing down. He called out loudly in a language Mila did not know. After calling out a few sentences, he lowered his arms and waited.

Mila was so intent on watching the curious old man that at first she did not see the movement on the ground. It started as a stirring of dust, as of mice or moles digging their way out of holes in the ground. Then she noticed it. No mice. No moles. The bones themselves were sliding around. More bones were coming up out of the dirt. The movement increased, sped up, and intensified as bone connected to bone. Her eyes widened in shock. She wanted to move but found herself glued to the spot. Dozens - no, hundreds - of skeletons were coming together and standing around the man. More and more emerged every moment.

She squinted down at the skeletons she could see best. Was that - tendons? Mila felt a convulsion in her gut and controlled her sudden urge to vomit. Tendons were growing out of the bones, connecting them together as they stood there, as even more dry bones came together into bare skeletons. There were surely over a thousand skeletons growing in the valley now. Her jaw dropped open and her throat dried up. When muscles knit themselves together around the shoulder of one tall skeleton, Mila's own muscles found their strength and she scooted back from her hidden perch.

The old man was shouting to the valley full of bones again. It was more like a valley full of disgusting, skinless people, now. Whatever he said, those bones started moving, and so did she. 

As quietly as Mila could manage, she got her feet beneath her and rose into a low crouch. She wanted to keep eyes on what amounted to an army of the dead, but she'd have to turn around to run. 

She rose slowly and stepped backwards with care. One of the muscle-covered skulls turned it's eyeless sockets in her direction. Could it see? Without eyes? Mila froze, petrified by the red, fibrous, muscles moving the face into a gruesome, eyeless, sneer. The skulls atop the skeletons around that first one were now turning in her direction, too. She needed no more proof of danger. She turned and ran as fast as she could back the way she came.

The sound of bones clattering against the rocks as they clambered up the side of the valley followed her. Or was that merely the echoes of the terror in her mind?

Reference: The story of the Valley of Dry Bones is a famous passage from the book of  Ezekiel, chapter 37, verses 1-14. I've been reading too much Stephen King lately, and wanted to consider this from a horror perspective. The only characters in the Biblical story are the prophet Ezekiel, God - who was telling him what to say, and the bones themselves.

04 December, 2022

Non-Fiction Friday on Sunday

No fiction this past weekend. I got Covid.

Actually, I think I got it last weekend. Starting on Sunday I had a tickle in my throat. Monday the tickle was gone, but I was sneezing a lot. I figured I had a cold. Colds move through my system more quickly here in the tropics than they used to up north.

By Wednesday I had a low-grade fever. On Thursday I told Brett that if the fever was still active the next morning, I should go get a Covid test. Friday morning we went to the clinic.

To be honest, I've been staying home and avoiding my husband since I started feeling bad, so it was less about diagnosing myself and more about the fact that on Sundays (today) I'm supposed to be at our school to help with homework. 

Not with Covid!

I tested positive, so Homework Help was off. Since I've been presenting symptoms for a week already, I figured a follow up test on Wednesday should be fine and I'll be back in action by the weekend. I'm sleeping on a cot in the living room, and Brett has been fine.

Until today. This morning he told me he has a sore throat. We can guess what that means!

Personally, I blame this on being social. On Thanksgiving we were down in the historic district of our town, hanging out with a new friend - a tourist who was only here a few days. That night, when we parted ways, I gave her a hug. We'd had fun! I felt like I had a new friend! Brett is not a hugger. He did not hug her. Days later I presented symptoms of what turned out to be Covid. 

This interaction is the only break in my usual social activity. I've messaged her to check on her health, but heard nothing in return.

And THAT, my friends, is as good a reason as any for me to remain a confirmed introvert!