At first the rain was useless to Uriah, because it didn't wash the blood off of his hands. But as the flooding started, he was able to cake himself with mud, hiding the crime. No evidence remained but a buried body unlikely to be found and a broken heart unlikely to be revealed. Surely, Uriah thought, his broken heart wouldn't betray him when they come to question him. It had been broken a long time, after all; this was just the first step in its mending.
Uriah didn't notice it at first. The rains were falling under a New Moon, and the clouds blocked the waning light from sunset and what little light the stars could provide. It wasn't until a flash of lightning startled Uriah that he saw the Messenger standing there. Perhaps it was its posture, or maybe something else, but the Messenger seemed luminescent somehow. It wasn't glowing, to be sure, but Uriah could see its faded wings clearly, and that was odd.
Odder still was its immediate recognition. The Messenger already knew who Uriah was - observation was its occupation - but Uriah should have had no idea who it was. But this was an uncanny night and such strangeness was barely a fleeting concern.
"What do you want?" asked Uriah, without making eye-contact.
"Why did you kill her?"
Picking up his crude shovel, Uriah wiped some rain from his brow with his forearm. "Why not?" This time, the question came with a glare.
"How vainly secretive. Do you often answer a question with a question?"
The Messenger sighed as much as it could. It could see that there would be no explanation here, much less salvation. Vaguely recalling an argument it and others like it had against the creation of these... beasts, the Messenger turned to leave. To its surprise, Uriah called out.
"Are you disgusted? Or is that secret you that you've been hiding all these years finally celebrating?"
"There is no secret me," replied the Messenger, turning to face Uriah, "for I am not a man."
"Walks like, talks like."
"Then I am a goose or a loon. Perhaps a rail."
"And all are birds to be eaten for a meal."
The Messenger gestured to the fresh grave, quickly being covered by flood waters. "Is she to be eaten?"
Uriah laughed and nodded. "By worms. Or something less."
"There is no something less. Life is value. And it is a sin to murder."
"Yes, but sins are meant to be forgiven, and we all like to revel in the hypocrisy. That you expect more out of us is your folly."
The Messenger almost smiles. "I expect nothing from you. Those expectations arise from... elsewhere. You are no more valuable to me than the dirt you buried your lover with."
"Before your Lord animated dust, Prometheus had taken up pottery and Athena exhaled into clay. Either way, we are dirt. Winds and waters that we call time erode us, just as the real winds and waters erode the shore."
"Yes, you are clearly just dirt. Your kind will not ascend. You will only biodegrade."
"Maybe so. But without us, you're just text. And you will be forgotten."
Along with geoscience, another academic interest that has taken hold in me as of late is anthropology and, more specifically, linguistics. ...
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