Renewal: Like Kings On The Earth
by Judith A. Sears
It was a deliciously sunny winter day but something wasn’t quite right about the air. It was electric, static, sharp. It stung her nostrils, left her nose burning, her head sore, her eyes
tearing. She twisted, turned her head, moved one way then another. Trying to find relief, but
there just didn’t seem to be any fresh air. She pulled the neck of her shirt up over her nose, but that only seemed to concentrate the problem. The air seemed like it lacked oxygen. Now gasping she lowered her shirt and had to pull in great painful gulps of the fouled air. Her head throbbed and she had to close her eyes. She felt like the world was tipping and she was struggling to stand upright. She was falling but there was no sensation of landing hard. More
like she was caught up. Her knees pressed to her chest her arms wrapped around them, her
head lowered resting for just a moment trying to catch her breath. She felt faint, then
everything went dark for a moment, except the electric flashes at the edge of her
consciousness. When she dared to reach out her hand, it met a barrier that was icy cold and seemed to contain her body like a capsule. A capsule that was filling with a liquid as cold as the wall surrounding her. Panic was irresistible as the black fluid flowed over her chest, her chin
and her mouth. Then it covered her nose, her eyes. She held her breath until she felt bubbles
drift from her mouth, her nose, til there was nothing left. One last gasp, then she drowned.
In another place, in fact in many places, the air seemed to burn the lungs and left
certain people breathless and struggling. A man fought desperately trying to catch his breath
as his confused wife stood next to him and watched helplessly. She assumed at first that he
was having a heart attack or was choking on something. She tried to pat his back but she found that she couldn’t actually touch him. There was an invisible barrier preventing her from making contact with his body. She watch him collapse yet was even more confused when he seemed
to be floating in the air inches above the ground. She watched as he stretched out his hand towards her. She reached out to touch him trying desperately to take hold of his hand but was prevented from contact. Her hand met a pliant film that was too tough to penetrate. It only dimpled in slightly with the pressure of her hand then filled back out when she had to stop touching it, It was so cold that she felt like her fingers were freezing before she snatched her
hand away. It became even more frustrating when she realized that what held him seemed to
be filling up with a dark black liquid. She saw panic on her husbands face and it reflected the panic she herself was feeling as she watched the liquid envelope completely the man she loved until he was gone. Within seconds the liquid hardened and formed a shell. Then the pod containing her husband lowered softly onto the ground. She was screaming for help and others rushed up to her and tried to move the pod or roll it over but it wouldn’t budge. Law
enforcement people were called in. They could do nothing and were soon over whelmed with other, similar reports. Science and medical people were brought in and were unable to even
take samples of the pods. News reporters were spreading all sorts of wild rumors about what
had happened. No one had any answers for the woman or for the family of the girl. Eventually they were all just reported as missing.
Thousands of these capsules lay scattered everywhere on the planet. No one could
move them or penetrate them. Some heavy gravity held them in place where they fell. Some force protected them from any attempt to break them open or even destroy them. The ground beneath them could not be dug into or removed. In the beginning many people who had witnessed these events knew that the pods contained both loved ones and strangers. But as the years went by some began to doubt that there were ever really men and women in the pods. Others speculated that even if they had once held people, it was likely that after all this time
they’d only held rotten corpses or dry bones, now. Nothing changed, the black pods were a
part of every landscape. People build near them. Wars were fought around them. One by one each country suffered storms, floods and fires. There were great depressions, wind storms and
the once rich soil was eroded away, leaving drought. Dust bowls permanently damaged the ecology so that no vegetation grew. But it wasn’t like in the past there was no place that wasn’t effected, no place to move to that hadn’t been left barren. Sure some people were able to
grow food in green houses for a while others moved underground and tried to live in caves. But eventually the water was polluted beyond reclamation and the air was fouled with smoke and poisonous vapor. Most people who had made it to the end didn’t wonder or even care about
the pods or their contents. Only a few wondered if the pods might contain humanities
salvation. Their last hope was that when the world had had a chance to repair itself, restored humans would emerge from their protective shells and be able to replenish the earth. Fairly
swiftly and relentlessly, everyone and everything on earth died.
Within her capsule the girl lay suspended. She forgot about the trauma of her capture
and happily recalled her youth, her childhood and the good rich life she had enjoyed. Though she occasionally had moments of panic and fear when she struggled to move she always eventually was able to calm herself and return to peaceful memories that eased her discomfort.
It was the same for all the other encapsulated people. Those who had been torn away from
loved ones felt concern and often worried about their spouses and children. But those feelings faded over time. Their well being was made up of a quiet peace and remembered comfort.
They were totally unaware of the devastation occurring on their world, and blissfully ignorant
of things that happened in the end or how things proceeded when the world began to repair
itself again. The process of restoration took much longer than the destruction had. All this was unknown to those existing in an induced oblivion safely within their shiny black pods. It doesn’t matter how much time passed. It did pass. There was renewal, rebirth and regrowth.
There were almost constant raging fires and rain storms, but eventually the prairies
grew green, birds spread seeds, trees grew tall and oxygen filled the air again. Vast oceans were restored and inland lakes and rivers flowed with fresh clean water. Reptiles and fish filled the rivers and seas, mammals roamed the land, huge insects raised up out of the ground and walked like kings on the earth. They were strong, smart and clever enough to find ways to open the pods containing the last humans. Finally released, the people lay blind, weak and helpless. Their clothing had disintegrated over the years and they were naked. The good insects herded them to safe places, fed them and cared for them while they recovered their equilibrium.
These large insects were kind and benevolent, so different from the small annoying creatures
the humans remembered. They helped with hunting, planting and gathering. They were adept
at making cloth and building things. With the insects assistance the humans began to feel comfortable in their new world. Naturally gathering in homogeneous groups as their health was restored, the humans found happiness. They also found affection and love and soon there
were small human babies to care for. Small humans that the insects found delightful and
Judith A. Sears