Green and lush, pure and perfect, she steps gingerly from crystal clear water onto the black silt bank of the deep underground lake bank.
The Old One breathes deep.
It has been so long since she has tasted air.
She is disappointed.
The air is musky with guano and mold.
She digs her ten newly-formed toes into the cold muck and sneezes. Glorious feeling, a sneeze.
She stands still hoping for another, but none comes. She moves a step from the frigid water and spies the skeleton of a scuba diver wedged between two rocks.
This lake was once much higher, it went all the way to the surface and fed aquifers and made life. Life still happens. Just not as much.
She chose this place because she needed an uncorrupted portal to climb through from the nether world, and a helper.
She approaches the scuba diver. The single tank on his back is dented and scratched. He fought hard to live. Life always fights with so much futility and in the end no amount of fight matters. The wetsuit fits loose on his white skeleton. His skull smiles up at the stalactites dripping down from the ceiling.
Gaia touches the gap between the bony ridges on his forehead and the jaw clacks shut. The skeleton’s left leg kicks violently.
The God stands back, watching as flesh regrows. A tongue reforms in the human’s mouth, he screams in pain and fear when his lungs form and air can pass over it. He relaxes as his brain regrows, he remembers he was dying, but realizes that has past.
Blond hair sprouts on the skull and under the band of a swim mask that has fallen away from the diver’s blue eyes when his pouty nose rotted away and sat undisturbed over his mouth and dimpled chin for decades.
Gaia stands in front of the once-dead man with hands on her hips, waiting for her resurrection to be complete, tapping a bare foot on the ground.
Once complete the diver looks the god up and down and mumbles against the plastic of his swim mask, “Naked?’
He approves, “I am not dead?”
“You were, but no longer.”
The diver frowns.
“Don’t be disappointed, all things eventually return to Chaos. You will as well.”
She touches one of the stalagmites holding the diver in place and it crumbles away, causing him to fall free.
He stands and drops the empty air tank from his back and rips the mask from his face, “What now?”
“You are my guide and together we will set my garden right.”