He ran in front of the small whirlwind with hands apart yelling, “Jehovah! I’m here! Jehova!” But the whirlwind turned out to be nothing more than a dust devil made ghostly white by the chalk flats. It blew around him, coating his face and ragged clothes white, and then disintegrated.
He stopped, forlorn, with his hands at his sides and his head hanging, black hair made gray by the chalk dust. Then trudged back to the wagon and slipped the traces over his shoulder. They had eaten their horse a few days ago but the meat had gone rancid even during the meal and they had left the carcass for the buzzards and the demons that skittered out of the ground at night.
“Why do you do that?” she asked from the back of the wagon. “Do you really think He’ll come for you if you call him by name? Do you think if you call out Yaweh, or Yehovah, or Y’hovah, or Yahuweh, or Ya-oh you’ll win the secret prize?”
He ignored her, leaning hard into the traces to get the wagon trundling along again, and searched the endless bleak horizon for a landmark, something to make his bearings, but there was little to break the view. A twisted white tree without a single leaf would erupt from the chalk here and there but even they all looked alike.
That was the reason they traveled west; because they could follow the sun.
“Are you going to answer me?” she asked as a coughing fit gripped her.
He stopped so suddenly that the wagon rolled into him and he had to scramble out from under it before he could see to her.
“It’s just a cough,” she said.
“You could kiss me,” he said. “You could kiss me and we could go together.”
“It’s not the Judgment,” she said. “No open sores. He’s not coming for me and He’s not coming for you even if you kiss me. Now start pulling the wagon or there’ll be no rutting for you at the Sabbath.”
He slouched out of the wagon, hopped down, and slipped into the traces again. He pulled them until sundown, ever heading west, and then stopped for the night. That night she let him rut with her and sleep with her to share their body heat against the plunging cold of the darkness.
And in the morning she was dead.
He stood over her body in prayer for an hour with his hands behind his back before abandoning both her and the now unnecessary wagon. The demons would have her body tonight but her soul was already in Heaven.
As he walked, he thought about how she had said to him that God wasn’t coming for her. Had that been a lie? Had she conspired to leave him here alone? But they had rutted last night. If she had been sick with Judgment he would have been infected, too, and would have been taken up the same as her.
Gradually, he began to play back the conversation in his head and remembered how she had taunted him with the various incarnations of the Name and he thought that maybe in there somewhere she had hit the right one and been spared.
A terrible thought struck him. What if he hadn’t gotten sick because couldn’t get sick? For that matter, what if he couldn’t die? What if the world required one last resident to stand for all the billions that had gone before?
A whirlwind kicked up in the chalk dust and he bolted for it, shouting, “Yaweh! Yehova! Yahuweh!”
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