So many eons, slept away while the universe wound down around him. He’s dead to human eyes. Even the machines barely glimpse the chemistry ticking over in those cells: an ancient molecule of hydrogen sulphide, older than suns, frozen in its hemoglobin embrace; an electron shuttled sluggishly down some metabolic pathway two weeks ago. Back on Earth there used to be life deep in the rocks, halfway to the mantle; empires rose and fell in the time it took those microbes to draw breath. Next to Kai, their lives blurred past in an eyeblink. (Next to all of us. I was every bit as dead, just a week ago.)
I’m still not sure it’s a good idea, bringing him back.
Flat lines shiver in their endless march along the x-axis: molecules starting to bump against each other, core temp edging up a fraction of a fraction. A lonely spark flickers in the hypothalamus; another wriggles across the prefrontal cortex (a passing thought, millennia past it’s best-before, released from amber). Millivolts trickle down some random path and an eyelid twitches.
The body shudders, tries to breathe but it’s too soon. It’s still anoxic in there, pure H2S gumming up the works and shutting the machinery of life down to a whisper. The Chimp starts a nitrox flush; swarms of fireflies bloom across Pulmonary and Vascular. Kai’s cold empty husk fills with light from the inside out: red and yellow isotherms, pulsing arteries, a trillion reawakening neurons stippling across the translucent avatar in my head. A real breath this time. Another. His fingers twitch and stutter, tap a random tattoo against the floor of the sarcophagus.
The lid slides open. His eyes, too, a moment later: they roll unfocused in their sockets, suffused in a haze of resurrection dementia. He can’t see me. He sees soft lights and vague shadows, hears the faint underwater echo of nearby machinery, but his mind is still stuck to the past and the present hasn’t sunk in yet.
A tongue dry as leather flicks into view against his upper lip. A drinking tube extrudes from its burrow and nudges Kai’s cheek. His takes it in his mouth and nurses, reflexive as a newborn.
I lean into what passes for his field of view: “Lazarus, come forth.”
It anchors him. I see sudden focus resolving in those eyes, see the past welling up behind them. I see memories and hearsay loading in the wake of my voice. Confusion evaporates; something sharper takes its place. Kai stares up at me from the grave, his eyes hard as obsidian.
“You asshole,” he says. “I can’t believe we haven’t killed you yet.”