He heard them before he saw them. Voices somewhere above him, up through the pressing weight of his seemingly endless captivity. He neither moved, nor made a sound. He was used now to waiting, to avoiding hopes, projections, anticipations and the inevitable body blows of disappointment and abandonment. But he listened to the sounds of movement, and the barely perceptible shifts and easing of the cloying mass that entombed him.
“Careful, careful,” said a commanding voice, and he knew that someone was coming closer and he wasn’t alone. He stilled his mind.
“I think there’s something here, sir,” said another, “Yes, there’s definitely something.”
Rescue! He couldn’t prevent himself; the agonies of hope coursed through him. He tried to make a noise, but somehow none came. He felt of the earth, only light and the presence of other men could break him from this mud and clay, could transform him into flesh and laughter once more.
Then a chink of light opened in the great darkness above, and in flooded a human presence with the simple words, “My God, we’ve found one.”
“Go easy,” cried the commanding voice, “He’ll be in a hell of a state.”
He lay back, while he heard them working patiently and painstakingly above him, trying to prepare himself for life on the surface, back in the haunts of men, and the demand of appetites and survival. When amidst all his preparations, they suddenly uncovered him.
He smiled up at them as they clustered round him. They smiled down at him, welcoming, caring, affirming his life.
“A hunter,” cried one, “Look at the arrows, and those pelts beside him.”
He said nothing, but looked up at them fondly, his heart bursting with gratitude. They’d been three thousand years, but they’d finally come to get him out.