“Yes we are!” I wasn’t budging. “We’re going to give Lin a proper burial, no matter what.” I knew my Zebulani friends couldn’t understand what I was saying, not entirely, but the conversation had advanced to this point through a lot of hand-motions and gestures, and it was clear now what we were arguing about. Iara felt as I did, but Lithe was obviously against this dangerous idea.
“dfaghb,” he said, though I have no idea what it meant. Thankfully, Iara responded for us, meeting Lithe toe-to-toe, not showing even one ounce of hesitation at being so near our semi-infected companion.
“hcb,” she said firmly, putting one hand on his chest and shaking a finger at his nose.
After the initial bout with Goliath, we hadn’t seen much activity from the infected. This was my rationale for the relative safety of the burial. It wouldn’t be entirely safe to get Lin to the bright-pool, but it was far better than either tossing her outside like trash or leaving her on the Sea Monk to fester. I felt like I owed her that much. She was my friend. She was our Mission Commander. And she had been the only other crewmember of the Monk to keep her head on straight in the midst of horribly stressful experiences.
“Ok,” Iara said, after conferring with Lithe one final time. “We go.”
We tied Chris in the occult-bridge, ignoring his constant spew of scorn. “You’re the slave of a lesser god,” he said. “When you come back, we’re going to figure out what it means to feast on body and blood.”
I didn’t respond. Lithe and I just tied him up and left him there, the door to the bridge closed. When we got outside, Iara was busily scanning the cavern looking for infected. So far, so good.
I went back inside with Lithe and we brought Lin’s body out into the open. I darted inside once more and grabbed the collapsible spine-board from the medical supplies. I laid it on the ground beside Lin and unfolded it, then Lithe and I gently placed her on the board and hoisted her above our shoulders. The ensuing pain transformed something meaningful into something mandatory. I wanted to do this right, but now I also wanted to do this quickly.
“Let’s go!” I said, already shuffling my feet forward and pulling Lithe along behind me. Lin was already heavier.
At first our eyes scrutinized every little shadow. Every noise sounded to us like the early warning sound of the infected. But we were wrong. We moved quietly, not speaking, and were very fortunate not to see any of the zombies. We didn’t press our luck.
We got to the crystal fountain and placed Lin into the water, moving her directly from our shoulders head-first into the pool. I wracked my memory for something to say. I didn’t want to repeat what I had said for Nessa. There’s more than one good verse in the Bible. I finally settled on Ezekiel’s vision of heaven. It’s where I wanted to believe Lin was now.
“And it shall come to pass, that every living thing will find its way into the stream. And they will be healed. And all along the stream there will grow trees whose leaves never fade, nor is their fruit wholly consumed. Something new will grow from the waters in the sanctuary of God, and it shall be for healing.
“Enjoy the long swim, Lin,” I said finally, letting her go.
Iara knelt by the side of the pool, placed her face in the azure blue, and blessed my friend. Then we ran like mad back to the sub.
It was a weird mixture of emotions. We all had a little adrenaline rush, having just risked life and limb to perform an impromptu funeral, but I also had a feeling of work well done.
Ezekiel 37 gives a story about the Valley of Dry Bones. Cut off from their national hopes for repatriation and cut off from the promises of God, Ezekiel entered into a prophetic dream. God showed him a valley covered in bones. Hills and rivers of bone cascaded through this valley, so that the prophet had to slip and slide over the landscape to get a sense of scale. This was difficult for him, as bones were considered unclean. Ezekiel himself would have been defiled. The prophet had become abhorrent to God, even while receiving a message of restoration; he would not have been able to bring this message to God’s people until he sought God’s pardon for God’s filth. These bones were empty of marrow, empty of life, and empty of hope. But God worked a miracle. He gave Ezekiel a vision of the bones coming back to life. Sinew and muscle and vessel and skin grew on the bones like a crust grows on bread. And then God gifted the ancient Promised Land back to the bones once more.
Standing there, looking out over the outer colony, I was reminded of the dry bones. Here there were no bones yet, but there would be. And here I cried out to God, “Why have you brought me here? Why do you keep teasing me with redemption? Will you ever help? Will you ever actually do anything?”
I was frustrated, but I still felt the promise after the funeral.
Maybe I will reenter the land of my fathers. Maybe I will bring home my son. Maybe I will sing by the hearth and pray in the old seat in the woods.
Promises aren’t certainties. They sometimes take too long for those who receive them. But I found hope in the desolation nonetheless.
I kept humming that old spiritual—dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones—while I sorted through Lin’s belongings. It was a coping mechanism. I was looking for a remembrance. But I found something so much better. I found her laptop. I found it free from password-protection. I found her video logs.
And I found her plans for how to escape Atlantis.