The Resurrection

Hezakiel was agitated about something again. Volesteus could tell because she was pacing in front of his desk. She had also bent her halo from a circle into something resembling an infinity symbol.

Volesteus sighed and closed his minesweeper window. He’d reached the maximum time limit already and still couldn’t decide which of the last two boxes hid final mine. He hated when they all exploded.

“What’s eating you, Hez?”

“Have you read the news?”

“About the war? Horrible.”

Most heavenly beings didn’t bother with mainstream human news, but big events drew attention. This one was bad. People fleeing the country, demagogues raging, public executions. Volesteus tried to remind himself that the Creator had some sort of ‘Plan.’ It was best to keep his head down and focus on his chosen task.

“No, no,” said Hez with a dismissive wave. “The science news. It affects The Spreadsheets.”

Hezakiel sighed again. Of all the human disciplines, most heavenly beings focused on human theology. The idea was to learn something about the inscrutable Creator from the beliefs of his human masterworks. But Hezakiel was an incurably nerdy angel. She read everything: pop culture, literature, all the news. She wore a robe made of black t-shirt material that said: “Well-behaved angels seldom make history.” Volesteus wasn’t sure he approved of the satirized Ulrich quote. To his sensibilities, it smacked of Paradise Lost.

Yes, Hezakiel was unorthodox. But she’d alerted his Bodily Resurrection Department that humans were launching cremated remains into space. If the BRD ever hoped to retrieve the carbon atoms of Gene Roddenberry, Clyde Tombaugh, and James Doohan, they’d have to start entering orbital trajectories into The Spreadsheets.

Plus, that accident that had scattered Eugene Shoemaker’s ashes across the moon. Space ashes weren’t as complicated to retrieve as ashes scattered at sea. But without Hez, the BRD might have overlooked the space-farers entirely. Embarrassing.

“Okay newshound,” he said. “What did you find?”

“There.”

Hezakiel dropped her iPad onto her boss’ desk. It showed an article about how human fetal cells invade the mother’s body and brain during pregnancy and stay with her even after birth.

“Weird. But, so?”

“So? So? Look. This isn’t just baby to mom. It’s mom to baby. It’s baby to mom to next baby. Sibling’s cells in people! Grandmother’s cells in people! We had amputations, blood transfusions, and organ donations all figured. But this! The human race is full of everyone else’s cells!” She dropped into the chair in front of him and gnawed her halo.

Volesteus knew she was right. Editing The Spreadsheets to account for this discovery was going to be a pain. And it had all seemed so simple on The Choosing Day.

On that long-ago day, all the heavenly beings had stepped back from worshiping the Creator and asked: “But what should we do?

“Relax. It’s all taken care of,” the Creator had said.

“But no really. Oughtn’t we be doing something?” They had all asked again.

“Umm, Okay.” The Creator replied. “Music is nice. Music!”

“But shouldn’t we be preparing for the final days? For the unfolding of your Plan?”

“Well, that sounds interesting, at least.”

That was all the Creator had said about it. Though it was said with a smile, which was all the encouragement the heavenly beings had needed. So they all chose something to do based on variations of human theology. Humans put a lot of stock in their holy books, and the heavenly beings followed suit. They became angels, djinns, demigods, demons, sprites, golems, and dryads. A bunch of them tried dancing on the head of a pin—what a mess.

Whatever they reported back, the Creator laughed and told them how imaginative they were. And how much enjoyment their work brought the Creator. In the back of his mind, Volesteus began to suspect that they’d all made a lot of busywork for themselves back on The Choosing Day.

But Volesteus nevertheless headed his department with dignity. It was an archaic, but respectable department, the BRD. Dedicated to the Christian eschatological concept that all humans would be resurrected in their original (restored) bodies on Judgement Day. So Heaven ought to keep track of all the atoms of all the humans throughout all of history. The BRD kept this heaping load of data orderly and searchable in The Spreadsheets.

“So we’re going to have to edit The Spreadsheets from the beginning of human history?” He groaned.

“No,” Hezakiel said bleakly. “It’s worse than that. The cells become part of their new host, while retaining the genetic identity of their originator.”

“I’m not following, Hez.”

“It means, sir,” began Hezakiel. She used the slow, patronizing voice she reserved for stupid people.

Volesteus took no offense. He was a patient boss. An administrator-type accustomed to managing underlings far more brilliant—and volatile—than himself.

“—that to track the cells, we would have to assign them to a single body. But we haven’t the right to do that, because they belong both to the current host and the progenitor host.”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“Humans are literally all part of one another. You cannot separate human from human. They are individuals with individual bodies, yes, but each body houses a cellular, shared family tree. We cannot sort them all out on Judgement Day like we’d planned. They are one.

“Oh! So, it would have to be our call, or no call at all.”

“Right,” Hezakiel, having been understood at long last, deflated a little.

“But we haven’t the right to make that call,” said Volesteus.

“I hoped you would say that, sir. Because I respect you. And I hate fake work. And I was hoping you wouldn’t keep us tied up in defunct busywork.”

“I thank you for your vote of confidence,” he said, dryly.

“So now what do we do?” She asked.

Volesteus noticed that Hezakiel looked a little scared. She had been good at her spreadsheet job. Brilliant, meticulous, detail-oriented. There were other departments out there, but few with such rigorous and empirical work as the BRD. Not since the Anubis Heart-Weight Standards of Measurement Department went under, anyways.

Volesteus considered this. Lately, humans put a lot of stock in holy books to study the Creator. But Volesteus remembered that humans first thought Nature and Divine Will were entwined. It was the first theology, really.

Then, 600 years before Christ, the Greeks explained the natural world by cause and effect alone, with no mythological origins. But the old concept reasserted itself again in Christianity in the Latin Middle Ages—the Book of Nature. By studying the creation, you studied the Creator.

He thought of the human war. I wonder when they will learn that they are all one. In the back of his mind, Volesteus imagined he and Hezakiel had scratched at a fragment of the deep and ultimate Plan. He felt the smallish grain of faith he had in the Plan grow. A little.

“I think we should tell the Creator what we’ve found,” he said.

“And then?”

“Close up shop. Can’t fight facts—unless you want to waste your time.”

Hezakiel looked stricken. “But what will you do next? What won’t waste your time?”

Volesteus smiled at her.

“I think…I think I will try making music.”

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