Those who are considered worthy of taking part in the age to come, and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children since they are children of the resurrection.
The setting sun hung over the horizon,
It had done its job today like it always did. Scorching the desert surface every minute, of every hour, of every day, of every year, since the start of creation, and just like the sand that stretched forever, Uriel looked out with crossed arms and a stoic face, his huge silver wings tucked neatly at his back. The hem of his white robes flapped against his legs in the warm breeze. An empty golden scabbard on one hip and a long bejeweled trumpet on the other.
His crystal blue eyes surveyed the rolling dunes, nothing but golden sand and the furious sun. The same scene, day in and day out, except for the occasional rains and sand storms of course. The only real solitude to his existence was at his back, although he could never set foot in there.
The garden, God’s second attempt at reality hadn’t been occupied since Adam had been banished with his temptress a thousand years before, but still, it existed. Just like the sand that had become like family to him, every grain in the sea of orange, a comrade in his eternal duty. The point of his fiery sword was stuck in the sand by his side, its golden pommel engulfed by tongues of yellow flames.
Time seemed immeasurable from his post. The sun rose, and it set, the moon traveled across the sky. Insects scurried across the sand, and here he stood. It had been the same for centuries.
A noise interrupted his thoughts. The sound of a boot on the grass behind him. Uriel twirled bringing his flaming sword up in front of him and unfurled his wings in a threatening stance.
Michael held out a hand to shield his eyes from the flying sand.
“Be still brother, it is only I.”
Michael lowered his hand and squinted his crystal blue eyes against the setting sun. The wind kicked up and blew out his long blond hair.
Uriel lowered his sword and cocked his head to one side as his wings slowly fold to his back.
“It has been a long time brother, Why have you come?”
Michael turned and motioned for his brother to follow him into the garden.
“I can not, You know it is forbidden to me.”
Michael stopped and turned.
“Rejoice brother. For today our Lord has asked that you walk with me in his garden.”
Michael’s smile reached his ears.
Uriel muscular shoulders sagged as the weight of his shock settled in. The tip of his fiery sword touched the sand once again.
Uriel moved a strand of long golden hair from his eyes, his smile now matching his brothers. A soft leather sandal tentatively stepped onto the luscious grass as his grin grew wider.
The angels walked for a time under the fruit trees. Oranges hung bloated on the branches. Delicious purple grapes shimmered on thick vines. Apples of red and green colored the air, juicy pears, cherry red strawberries, vibrant lemons, where ever Uriel looked he saw the succulent fruit of Eden. The garden perched amidst the world undisturbed, tranquil, peaceful even. Just the wind rustling the leaves and the quiet tread of their steps in the thick grass.
Michael looked to Uriel as they walked under a coconut tree.
“Our Lord was hoping that humanity would repent and one day, return to this garden as they once were, but he now knows that it will never be.”
Michael gestured with his arms wide encompassing all that they saw.
A single tear rolled down Uriel high cheekbone as he looked at the beauty he had been guarding. His flaming sword still grasped in his iron grip.
“For the longest time that was my hope, but I have seen no one, until you.”
He wiped at the tear with the back of his hand as they stopped before a huge tree with fruit that shone with a faint glow.
The thick brown trunk was as big as a man was long, and was as tall as hundred men.
The tree was bare of leaves but the trunk and branches pulsed with the same light as the fruit.
“Our Lord commands that you burn the tree of knowledge.”
Michael pointed to the glowing tree.
“What of the rest of the garden?”
Uriel gestured with his head, a segment of his long hair covered one eye again.
“Father is rescinding his grace from the garden. In time, all else will perish. However, this tree must be destroyed, the fruit from this tree is made of God, so like him it is eternal. If a single fruit is consumed by the sons of man, he would become akin to our God.”
Uriel hefted the flaming sword and look to his brother. Michael nodded once and turned to the tree.
Uriel took a deep breath and with a mighty arm hurled the sword towards the tree. The sword arced through the air like a comet in the heaven before landing with a loud thud in the trunk. Uriel ran toward the sword with powerful legs and slammed into the pommel driving the flaming blade deep into the tree.
A crack appeared at the blade and ran up the trunk as a blackness started to spread, slowly the tree blacken. The pulsing light slowed and eventually stopped. Small tongues of flame leaped from the pommel of the sword and ran across the dying bark like little mischievous dancers. Soon the tree was ablaze and Uriel pulled his sword free.
“It is done.”
Michael smiled and clasped his brother on the shoulder. His massive white wings unfurled from his back as he looked deep into Uriel’s crystal blue eyes.
“Come brother. It’s time to go home.”
Uriel opened his silver wings like his brother and sheath his flaming sword.
They both looked to the heavens as they crouch, with mighty legs they jumped into the sky and let their wings carry them back to heaven.
1000 Years later.
The harsh wind blew sand into his face. The cloth wrapping around his head protecting him from the sun curled down around his face to his neck. He still had little reprises from the fragments of the damn desert trying to become one with his eyes.
The camel didn’t seem to be much bothered by the storm, they never did, it’s lumbering form tugged him forward. The rope between them sagged a little as the man stumbled forward and fell to his knees. He tugged at the rope and the camel stopped.
The wind picked up again and he cursed the heavens. Why had he set out on this foolish quest? Abd al Hakim cursed his cousin Tariq and his own stupidity believing that he had seen the fabled garden. He cursed the damn wine too that had gotten him drunk enough to challenge his claim. Now he was stuck miles from the safety of his people and the warmth of women.
The gravity of the situation settled in as the storm strengthened. He buried his head in the sand and waited until it abated.
Hakim crawled back to his camel with his head low avoiding the flying sand.
He felt something under his finger tip. Something slightly silky and almost moist. He squinted and pulled up a clump of sand to his face, it took him a moment to realize that he was seeing tiny green flecks of grass within the orange sand.
When the wind slowly died he raised his head. Hakim had never been lost for word but today the word just wouldn’t come out. His mouth moved and his eyes blinked but still the vision stay in focus.
He had found it, Tariq wasn’t crazy, he had seen the garden.
Hundreds of bare trees stood before him like black skeletal fingers protruding from the golden sand. A fire had at some point devastated the once luscious garden.
Now all that was here was death but that didn’t bother Hakim. No, if the old legends were true then there was a prize at the center more valuable than anything on this earth.
He stood and removed the fabric before his eyes as he tied the camel to the first tree. Slowly he made his way toward his destination dumbfounded of what he was seeing.
At the center, the biggest tree he had ever seen laid burnt and broken on its side. A deep gash ran the length of the crispy trunk. Hakim stopped and surveyed his surrounding. This had to be it, but it wasn’t the magical Eden the old story told of. No rolling grass or splendid trees bearing delicious fruits and no tree of knowledge. The garden also didn’t feel him with tranquillity or profound peace.
Hakim picked up a fallen branch and hurled it toward a tree with rage. The twigs snapped off as it skipped along the desolate surface, and finally buried itself in the sand. Hakim dropped his head and wipe a hand across his face in defeat. When he looks up he saw a faint glow beneath the branch he had just thrown.
He rushed to its side and dug at the sharp sand. Until he revealed a large fruit that glowed a faint white. The surface of the fruit was slippery and cold to the touch, on either side of the fruit was a set different teeth marks – one big and one small – like two people had tried the fruit together.
He brushed at the loose sand and held the fruit up to the sun, it was almost translucent with a pulsing ball of white light at its center.
His cousin had made him look a fool that night with his challenge of finding this oasis. But who would be the fool now? In honesty, he never believed in the garden of Eden. Never believe in the old stories, but now he held the fruit that Adam and Eve had condemned humanity with. This would make him richer than a sultan, maybe the richest man in the world.
Hakim wrapped the fruit in the cloth from his head and slowly made his way back to his camel. His thought swimming with the possibility of what he would buy with his new found wealth.