Episode 4: Lazarus I

It was a beautiful new day of spring in the New Earth, and today not only the birds were singing. Levi never felt so good. He woke up earlier than anyone else and started to make breakfast for everybody.
“I hope you guys like pancakes.”
“Wow! Someone woke up in a good mood,” June said walking down the stairs accompanied by her two little girls who were ready for school.
“Pancakes!” the girls shouted.
“Uncle Levi, I love pancakes,” the oldest said.
“Do you? Maybe I can teach you, and we can make some pancakes together, what do you think about that?”
“I want to make pancakes too!” the youngest shrieked as she jumped on Levi’s neck.
“All right, all right!” Levi mumbled, finding it difficult to speak because of the two girls hanging on his throat.
“Okay, girls. Let uncle go. He needs to finish our pancakes,” June said.
“Are we having pancakes?” Marcel asked, coming down the stairs joining the party in the kitchen. “What is the occasion?”
“I don’t know. Ask Levi,” June answered.
“I’m just trying to be a good guest,” Levi said. “Okay, everybody. Here come the pancakes,” he continued, while serving everyone. He then took his seat and was ready to have a bite when Marcel interrupted him.
“Levi, I would like to say thanks for the food.”
“Oh, Okay. You’re welcome,” Levi replied. Marcel, June, and the girls giggled at Levi’s response.
“No. I appreciate you making breakfast, of course. But what I mean is that I would like to say a prayer thanking God for the food before we eat, okay?”
“Oh, all right. Sorry,” Levi replied, blushing a little and putting the pancake on his fork back on the plate. “I forgot you are a preacher now. Please, go ahead,” he said.

Not long after breakfast Marcel and Levi were on their way. Upon arriving at their destination they got out of the pod, and Levi recognized the place right away.
“Hey, this is the building where I woke up, isn’t it?”
“Indeed,” Marcel answered.
“Wow. It looks amazing. I was so taken aback by everything else that I didn’t realize how beautiful it was.” Levi admired, now noticing the bold building sign letters in the facade.
“‘Lazarus I.’ Why is it called Lazarus I?”
“Are you familiar with the account of Lazarus?”
Levi squinted his eyes and rubbed his forehead trying to think of any Lazarus story he could remember. “Help me out here. Should I know this?”
“Right. Of course not. Never mind,” Marcel continued. “This is one of the hundreds of other complexes around the world. We call them ‘Resurrection Centers.’ In these centers, thousands of people are brought back to life every day, just like you were.”
“Really? Every day? That’s a lot of people. I wanna ask why, but I guess you are going to say that this is one of those questions I will learn the answer to at school, am I right?”
“You are a fast learner, aren’t you?” Marcel grinned.
“So, let me ask you this. What are we doing here? Do I need a check-up or something? I thought we were going to school.”
“We are going to school. This complex also holds the classes for the resurrected ones,” Marcel said while entering the lobby of the building.
“Stay here in the line to talk to the receptionist. They will give you more instructions.”
“Wait, wait. Where are you going?”
“I have to keep going or I will be late.”
“Late for what?”
“For work.”
“Do you work here? How come you don’t tell me those things, man? What do you do here?”
“I teach some of the classes. Don’t worry. You’ll be fine. See you later.”
“Hey, wait!” Levi yelled, but Marcel did not pause or look back. “Seriously?” he muttered.

The group of people that would form Levi’s class was gathered in the lobby, waiting for instructions. All of them were from the same generation. There was a significant cultural and background diversity among them, with one thing in common. They were all intellectuals: doctors, authors, specialists in their respective fields of expertise. One of them approached Levi and introduced himself.
“Hi, my name is Lee.”
“Hey. I’m Levi. How are you doing?” Levi responded.
“Hard to say. Physically I look like a million bucks. I mean, I woke up here and strange things have happened with my body. I’m not sure if you know what I’m saying.”
“Oh, yeah. I know what you mean.”
“But I never felt so lost in my life. Not really sure what happened. It seems that these classes we have to take will reveal everything.”
“That’s what I’ve been promised too. What have you learned until now? How long have you been ‘resurrected’?”
“I woke up two days ago. I don’t know much. But I have experienced some crazy, strange things; I mean, did you know they have found a way to reverse aging?”
“Yup! My grandparents look younger than me.”
“No kidding?”
“I kid you not.”
“Wow,” Lee said. “Anyways,” he continued.” I’m a biologist, or should I say I was? Never mind. Anyways, I am specialized in wildlife, and used to write for magazines like National Geographic, for documentaries on Discovery Channel, BBC; you know. Yesterday they took me to some kind of park where one of my biggest dreams came true. I always wanted to be able to play with big wild cats, you know. I mean, I have been studying African lions my whole life and being able not only to pet or touch them but to hug, run and play with them? Oh, my God! I can’t describe it.”
“That really sounds amazing. I have experienced some surreal moments myself. I’m an astrophysicist, and I was flabbergasted with the mapping of our whole galaxy. I almost died again, from a heart attack this time, when I learned they had made contact with extraterrestrial intelligent life. Can you believe that?”
“Really? The whole galaxy? Aliens? Wow! I have to say. I love the future. But right now, I feel like a small child, a little bit disoriented and confused. So many questions. How did we get here anyway?”
“Exactly. That was my first question. But I didn’t get a clear response to that yet. I hope we will find some answers here.”

After receiving electronic tablets, they got a quick tour of the complex. It had six floors going up, hosting all administrative offices, and ten levels going down, which held different departments, mainly the resurrection and the educational center. Access to the Resurrection Center was not granted to them just yet. It was lunchtime when their tour was finished. Levi’s class joined the other students at the dining hall together with some of the people that worked there. The room was immense. A place that would easily fit and feed over one thousand people. And that was just one of the dining halls in the complex. Before the meal was served, the overseer of ‘Lazarus I’ gave a brief speech welcoming one and all to their new lives in this new world, which over the past two days, all students in that room had a glimpse for themselves. He reassured the big crowd of resurrected ones that they would have satisfying answers to their questions, and he wished them the best, hoping that they would enjoy learning, discovering, and exploring in this fabulous new journey ahead of them. The overseer was eloquent and inspired confidence. From where Levi was sitting, it was impossible to take a good look at the person speaking, until he realized the man was being broadcast to all the various monitors spread throughout the hall. The face on the monitor nearby seemed familiar to him.
“Wait. I know him,” Levi said to himself. “He worked at NASA, didn’t he?” he kept staring at the screen, trying to remember. “No?” It finally came to him, but he couldn’t believe it. “Is that, Mike? The janitor?”

The first lecture would take place that afternoon. Right after lunch, the one guiding Levi’s group through the tour also showed them to their classroom and passed on the few last instructions regarding the program. Levi’s class numbered forty-five individuals including him. They all took their place in the two-hundred-seat auditorium, shaped like a large indoor amphitheater. The minutes passed, and the class started to become anxious and impatient. The ambient sound of people murmuring was abruptly silenced by doors slamming open when the instructor suddenly barged in through the podium’s right side entrance. Absolute silence followed his arrival. Like everyone else in the room, Levi was expecting to be taken aback by what was coming, but he was in for a special treat.
“Good afternoon, everyone. Sorry, I’m late. My name is–”
“Jacob?” Levi mumbled, surprised.

Once the class was over, Levi ran down from his seat to meet Jacob at the stage. He wasn’t the only one. They all had a lot more questions to be answered.
“Okay, ladies and gentlemen, that is all for today. Make sure you are here tomorrow at the same time for more,” Jacob said dismissing the class.
“That was great. Since when are you a professor?” Levi asked.
“Hey, son! I hope you liked my little surprise.”
“I was not expecting to see you here. That was a nice surprise, indeed.”
“I know that our introductory lesson today may have raised more questions than it answered.”
“Oh, yeah! My head is still spinning,” he gasped.
“I’m glad you liked it,” Jacob smirked.
“The video about the origin of the universe was fascinating. I remember, back in ‘my days,’ studying about something called the ‘Loop Quantum Gravity’ theory, which was a much better explanation for the origin of the universe than the Big Bang Theory. But what you guys have presented here today; it’s genius. So beautiful and elegant. It is quite humbling to see how far we were from what seems to be the truth.”
“Yes. We all learned a lot since then,” Jacob said.
“It all makes sense, but still. It’s very hard for me to believe this whole ‘creator of the universe’ idea. That a super-intelligent being exists and that he is personally interested in the life of insignificant humans to this extent? And I think I’m not the only one having a hard time believing. You got yourself a tough crowd here, Jacob.”
“Believe me. I know.”
“By the way, you really got me with the ‘aliens’ story, didn’t you?”
Jacob smiled. “I told you, you were right about the existence of intelligent extraterrestrial beings. I just thought it was too soon to tell an astrophysicist from the 21st-century that the extraterrestrial beings in question were actually the Creator himself and his son.”
“Good call,” Levi said. “But still, you must understand that I will need more than a reasonable explanation, right? I mean, I am a scientist. I will need some hard evidence here.”
“I expected no less from you. Be patient and keep an open mind. Today was just day one. Buckle up, son. We haven’t even started yet,” Jacob replied.

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