And then the bulldozer stopped. The men and the women stepped slowly away from their vehicles. The jungles crept closer and they looked on uneasy. Vines and roots grew steadily closer and closer to the machines. Soon the line of bulldozers that stood before destroyed forests became swallowed by the vengeful jungle. The men and the women looked on in horror; soon they would be overcome too. The smokestacks that once lingered over the canopies dissipated. Birds returned. Animals howled.
And then the fishing boats lost their power, stalled in the great wide seas. The men and the women panicked on board. The nets were loosened and the fish were lost. They heard the rumbling of the ocean. They heard the angry sharks, the lonely whales. The men and the women in the boats felt the crashing of creatures into the hulls of the ships. The ships will sink. Overhead seagulls sung, beneath, the fish rejoiced, the ocean breathed in relief.
And then the factories ceased. The smog and sulfur billowed into the air one last time in a cancerous cough. The sky returned to blue. Inside the factory the machines grinded to a halt. The men and the women looked around awestruck; the taskmaster demands productivity, they don’t believe what is happening. Outside birds fly overhead and leaves remain healthy on trees. The clouds are a soft pillow of white.
And then the tanks broke down. All the guns clicked with empty barrels. All the bombs landed with diffused thuds upon the earth. The men and the women stared at each other on the battlefield. They knew not what to do. Suddenly it was quiet, they could think, they could hear the breathing of the strangers they were told to kill. Humans. Humans who looked just slightly different from themselves. They greeted each other with open hands as they listened to the deserts, the forests, the world come to life around them.
And then the forests grew, and the oceans sang back to life, coral reefs became rich again with color. Mountain tops and deserts recovered from war torn craters. The skies cleared and the birds returned. Ice caps grew. Men and women stood outside their homes listening to the absence of the buzzing of electricity, to the hum of the artificial. A young boy stood beside his parents as he looked up to the horizon over a neighbor’s house. It was dusk with a watercolor sunset of orange and blue and red, wisps of clouds lingered in the air. The boy looked up and pointed over the house as flocks of birds flew through the sky over them, singing their gentle songs.
And then God said, “Let there be life,” and the earth stretched its limbs, and the rains filled the deserts, and the sun shined in the savannas as lions roared. The world breathed again.
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Bryan Crumpley is a Chicago writer and human person; he currently has a beard. Bryan has fiction and poetry previously published in Crack the Spine, Napalm and Novocain, and Johnny America, among others. Bryan was the founder and editor-in-chief of Dali’s Lovechild Literary Magazine. More about Bryan can be found at http://www.bryancrumpley.org.
Photo credit: Terri Malone