Five of them approach, half-human monkeys we created for our amusement long ago, before their rebellion left Earth desolate. They drag a body through the dust by its ankles. The skin's grey pallor and clay-encrusted limbs tell me all I need to know before the stench of it reaches my nostrils.
"Help her." One of them speaks in a hoarse bark, like a dog with surgically impaired vocal cords.
I stand outside my cinderblock hut and patch the clay exterior with a trowel. The concrete inner walls are nothing against these desert winds. They require a natural barrier and regular maintenance to avoid erosion. From dust to dust.
"Bring her to life." The fuzzy sun-burned creature points at the body. His four brothers crowd around, staring up at me with stark white eyes and pinprick irises. "Do like before."
I set down my bucket and carefully place the trowel beside it. They must not think I am armed. The last thing the Church needs is to lose another missionary on this reservation. I would make three in as many months at the hands of these primates.
"That was different, Jason." I shake my head. "You were not—"
"Bring her back."
You can check out the rest of this story right here @ Theme of Absence.
"Breath of Life" took a long road to publication, accepted twice by venues that unfortunately folded before this story could greet the world. But now it's finally available: my last Write1Sub1 from 2011 to find a home. 52 stories written that year, and all 52 have now been accepted for publication. Thanks to Ray Bradbury for the inspiration; I never would have attempted such a daunting task if it wasn't for him. Persperistence!