Archive for new writing

The Omega Cypher – Chapter One – I Am

Posted in Anthology, Because I love to write, New writing, Nightmare, Works in Progress with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 18, 2011 by cjirwin

The Omega Cypher

Chapter One

I Am 

 

I am Omegana, the youngest child of Consul Markus Arbela of the Lake District. My name, born from my being the last of my parent’s nine children, took on greater meaning for me as I grew and became aware of the world around me. I am part of an Omega group, an endangered people, I am human.

 

I have dedicated my life to the preservation of my kind, taking on the burden of my father and his father before him as Consul of the Lake District. Extending my Childbearing mandate that requires every female of Merterra must bear at least two children by age thirty-five, I have delved into our history in search of an answer. A way to save us.

 

Ancient texts hint at our origins; only vague descriptions though of another place, another time, another people from which we all on this planet of Arachosia came. Though my stomach turns at the thought that they too came from those great ancient forefathers that I study, I can find no proof to refute it. We were the same once but no more. One became two, then two became three to save themselves. The Great Ancient Ones made a way for survival in the face of extermination.

 

To the best of our understanding we were planted here on this young planet; our new home a massive continent, a Pangaea bursting with life. We can only guess at the dates; but we know the planet was just starting to settle after centuries of eruptions and shifts. The dispersion of people was gradual as was the change.

 

The Southern half of the Pangaea, now known as Pyropus, was marred by extensive mountain ranges blanketing nearly an entire third of the land area. Settlers, attracted by the wealth of minerals in these mountains could not have known the danger they faced, or the gradual mutation that would devour the human core within them. Aluminum, gold, silver, bronze, all mined in ancient times brought great wealth, but it was the copper and the Tegium that began the process.

 

Our Scientists today understand now what they could not then. The immense amount of copper and Tegium in the soil, water, and even the air began to poison them. Their bodies, unable to rid themselves of the toxic levels of the substances began to wane. A slow death that took generations, but then nature, or The Darkness, or The Ancient Ones, who knows what, stepped in. They found a way to adapt. Though, at the time, they couldn’t possibly have understood the science of it.

 

The fat that coats the cells of living animals and protects the muscle, the myelin that wraps the nerves within was the answer. That meat fat bound to the heavy toxins and carried enough out that their bodies could adapt, and the Venator were birthed onto my planet. They hunted; deer, bison, fowl, even carnivores, any meat, they sought, they craved. A warrior society was born, a proud, fierce, cunning, and highly intelligent race of human carnivores that took on the elements of their own land. I may have considered their bronze colored, almost metallic looking skin erotic or even beautiful had I seen the Venator in the beginning. The red of their eyes may have enthralled me, fascinated me in the ancient times, but not now. Their auburn hair, laced with the silvery color of the Tegium, may have been unique to me and interesting instead of frightening.

 

The vast fertile lands of the North evolved quit differently. With far more arable land, we began to cultivate, agriculture becoming the focal point of our lives. The poisonously high levels of minerals, especially the Tegium, were not present north of the equator in the flat plains, plateaus and river basins that comprised Illyria. War, famine, disease, all these things came and went in our history just as it did for the Venator. We grew as they grew but into two very distinct people.

 

I have read the Amicitia Stele erected in the great city bearing its name hundreds of times.  It tells a story of two great civilizations and the first contact between them. It speaks of hands clasped in peace, of treaties signed, of bread broken. Difficult to imagine, my brain struggles with the mere idea of a Venatorian coming in peace, but that was before they knew.

 

I often wonder how it happened. How the first blood was spilt, the first flesh tasted. Within a half a century of the erection of the Amicitia Stele declaring eternal peace between humans and Venatorians rumors, carried on the silenced voices of our missing, spoke of war. We were thankful for the vast system of mountains then. Illyria, as the North was by then known, was protected for nearly two-thirds the length of the continent. The Tarus Gap in the east, the only access between our lands, became a battle ground to span the ages. We fought to keep them out. They hunted us.

 

The Stele at Amicitia is of paramount importance to our race, it is a constant reminder that they are conniving monsters that whisper words like rose petals but seek only one thing, to devour us. The city of Amicitia, burned and rebuilt, captured and recaptured has changed hands countless times, but that Stele has stood the ages. It is the one thing we all respect. They covet it as a symbol of their cunning and prowess, and we as a reminder of what they truly are. It is so central to our lives that we mark our time by it, BC, before contact and AC, after contact.

 

The date is AC 2120 and we now stand on a foundation of peace with the Venatorians, but that foundation is crumbling beneath us. You ask how that can be. Well the Venatorians aren’t the only ones that can adapt. Documents suggest it started shortly after King Notus’s War of AC 850. It was like the milk started to sour. The blood of humans began to make antibodies that were undesirable to the Venatorians, even a poison. But the mutation was slow, too slow. In the beginning of the change the Venatorians could not identify the new ones, or Novoan’s as they called them, and for the first time they feared for their lives. The longest stretch of peace in our shared history since the Amicitia Stele followed. For nearly three hundred years no major war was fought, of course there were always the missing, but in seeking us out they were taking a chance.

Novoans prospered, grew. The children they begat had the same antibodies and a new race, that could be safe, was born. We humans hid in their mist, trying desperately to salvage our massacred race. We hoped to become immune as well, but found any human female, whither she coupled with a human or a Novoan, bore only humans. After the change was complete, we don’t know why it stopped, humans birthed humans and Novoans birthed Novoans. It seemed Nature had forgotten us. What was worse was the Venatorians solved the cypher. Novoans have more plasma then humans; plasma helps to regulate the body’s temperature, moving heat from deep within the body to the skin, head, arms and legs. They are hotter; running a constant temperature nearly four degrees above our own. It was as if we had been thrust out into the open.

 

A series of small wars followed between AC 1150 and AC 1321 as the Venatorians tried to determine whither the Novoans would protect us, they did not, at least not in the beginning. By the 1500’s we had dwindled to a mere five thousand in number, running, hiding in the vast jungles of the Aurelius Basin and the Talea Coast. Venatorians hate rain and don’t need water.

 

Hiding seemed to be the best choice we ever made, two hundred years of hide and seek pushed the Venatorians to break their treaties with the Novoans. The Venatorians began routing through the Novoan cities and awoke a giant, a protector. Again, our small planet was thrust into war. The Pyropian wars, as they were fought mostly in the South on Pyropian soil, took a great toll. Beaten down, both sides signed an armistice on AC 1876, The Human Preservation Act. The Pact established humanity as an endangered species and gave it complete protection from being hunted or killed for any reason by the Venatorians. It set up the large island of Merterra in the North as a secure location for us to establish ourselves. Venatorians had no legal right to be in or near the island. Humans were not allowed within Venetoian borders. In return The Novoans opened their vast grasslands of the North to the Venetorians for the hunting of wild game and agreed to an open border and free trade agreement.

 

Humanity thought it was surly too good to be true, and we waited for the day when they would come for us. The never did.

 

In the 1950’s the Venatorians began what they called The Humanus Project, cloning. Growing and Breeding what they considered human cattle. They would grow a fetus, introduce chemicals while in utero that would essentially wipe the mind, alive but not aware they were chattel to be raised and eaten. The Venatorians argued in the Arachosian League of Nations that their creations were not human and thus the Venatorians were violating no laws. And how were we or the Novoans to argue, if it removed any reason for them to hunt us; we should rejoice.

 

And so we are here, this brief history only the beginning of my story. I am Omegana. I am human.     

 

Freya’s Prayer – Part One – Hated Beauty

Posted in Anthology, Because I love to write, New writing, Nightmare, Works in Progress with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2011 by cjirwin

Freya’s Prayer

Part One

Hated Beauty

 

“Oh God, take my beauty from me. Holy One of the Hebrews, make me as a thorn in his side.” Freya prayed, tears cutting groves in the dirt and soot on her face. “Please don’t let him come to me this night. Give me a new life, take me from this.”

Freya’s dirty hands turned white at the knuckles as she begged God. Even the soil and fire dust that covered her face could not hide her exquisite beauty. Her sixteen years had molded a goddess out of human clay. Full lips parted in her plea, violet eyes raining, feed by storm clouds devastating her soul, thick, raven hair dangling dirty, oily, in an effort to dissuade his desire. Knees against the wood floor she prayed at her bedside. The shapeless, oversized and filthy dress only muted the shine of her body, her full breasts, flat stomach, firm, bruised legs and butt.

Mikhail had instructed her to bathe, and Freya knew more bruises would come for her disobedience. The fire crackled in the stone hearth casting shadows in the large room. Freya despised it. The rich, warm furs that Mikhail said all women would die for, she hated. The large, polished wooden chairs, a luxury she never used. Painted stone walls that boasted of Kingly wealth, and brightly dyed fabrics traded for hundreds of miles to the East only made her wish for her wool blankets and floor mat in her parents’ home. Mikhail said he wasted his great treasures on her, an ungrateful whore. Yet he continued to plague her heart, mind and body. Freya never slept in the ornate and soft bed he had given her; the only time she lay in it was when he forced his sordid desires on her.

“Please, please, please,” Freya begged. “Holy One, Holy God of Israel, please strike him down. May You repay him in kind all that he has done to others, to me, to his own people. Make me undesirable. Extinguish the fire that burns in Mikhail for me.” Freya’s body shook, trembled as she heard Mikhail’s heavy footsteps outside her door. Tears turning to sobs, she heard his callused skin rest upon the handle, he pushed, and Freya smelled his fetid breath and body as the door opened.

I was happy once, Freya though as Mikhail approached her. He strode, hulking chest jutting forward, a braggart, a tyrant of stolen power. Flicking his muddy, brown hair back, his thin lips smirked. His green eyes, like scum floating on a pond, danced with desire. Freya had disobeyed; Mikhail liked it when she disobeyed.

“I instructed you to bathe!” Mikhail roared and wrapped his fist around Freya’s loose dress jerking her up from prayer.

Freya only had tears.

“You will learn to obey!” Mikhail threw her to the floor, his eyes afire, and his desire raising.

As he kicked her, Freya prayed he would knock her unconscious before he ravaged her body. Almost welcoming the pain, she tried to keep from crying out as he dragged her toward the water basin by her hair.

Dumping her, he demanded, “wash!”

Freya’s swallowed hard, “no.”

“Now whore!” His hand stung as it landed firmly on her cheek.

Freya smiled as her head spun and her eyes went dark for a moment. The ringing in her ears was a blessed warning that one more hit, and she could sink into oblivion.

Mikhail sucked in a deep breath, his nose flaring, his teeth grinding, but wait, Freya saw something change, and fear filled her as his anger shifted. “So my dear,” he side as a wicked smile slithered across his bulging features. “How is your little sister Astrid? You know she nearly as lovely as you are. Now that I am King of Bauska I could support many wives. Wouldn’t you love to have her here in the lodge with us?”

Freya’s breathing hurdled from her chest, and her body quaked. “No!”

“What? I thought you would like to have her around. I only wish to make you happy my love. Would you not like that?” Mikhail’s eyes shone triumphantly.

Freya swallowed against the bile rising in her throat. “No my love,” she answered demurely. “I would not wish to share you with any more than I do now.” Freya began to rise. “It is enough that I must endure your first wife Beta, do not take on another.” Every cell in Freya’s body rebelled as she pushed herself toward Mikhail. “Enough of this game let me wash your royal body.” Freya wanted to smile, to be more convincing, but all her effort was covering the revulsion burgeoning in her center.

“Um, that is better my beauty.” Mikhail said and ran his greasy tongue along his lips. “But I would watch you bathe yourself first. Fetch me a chair.”

After Freya dragged the heavy chair across the rough cut, wooden floor she began to undress.

“Mm, yes,” Mikhail groaned as her dirty dress fell to the floor.

Freya, naked, shaking, reached into the basin and retrieved the cloth. Roses and lye soap scented the room as she began to wash away the shield of grime. Her pale, soft skin glowed in the firelight, as she dunked her head in the tube. Bubbles floated about as she scrubbed her hair.

Mikhail reached gathering suds from her head and smeared them across her ample chest, down her midriff.

“Let me wash you my Lord.” Freya said as she pulled away thinking. If I must bear him on me again at least I can save myself from the stench.

 As she washed his filthy body Freya cursed its every part. Unable to dwell on him, she escaped to a happier place, a happier time.

A New Anthology – Freya’s Prayer

Posted in Because I love to write, New writing, Works in Progress with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2011 by cjirwin

A New Anthology – Freya’s Prayer

About a year ago, I finished my first novel, Asmodeus. I hope and pray that my struggles will bear fruit, and I will find a publisher so all of my wonderful readers can enjoy it fully. In the course of writing Korina’s story in Asmodeus, I created a young character named Freya. She is only mentioned in passing, in one paragraph, in one chapter. The flow and plot of the novel wouldn’t allow for me to expound on who she was. I found myself wondering about her, and it saddened me to think her story of pain and strength in the face of despair could not be told. Young, beautiful and abused, she lived and suffered in my mind. I decided I had to give her a home, a voice, and so began a new anthology, Freya’s Prayer.

 

I hope you read of and grow to love this character as I have.

C.J. Irwin

Heart Eaters – Part Four – Benedict

Posted in Because I love to write, New writing, Nightmare, Works in Progress with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2010 by cjirwin

 

“You’re so sweet to worry for me.” Ruby May said to Benedict with a smile. “I feel well in body, but I must admit I am troubled.”

“What troubles you?” Benedict asked wanting to reach out and take her in his arms.

“There was a robbery in town last Sunday.”

“Yes, I read about it in the paper. The O’Neil’s place wasn’t it?” He answered.

“Yes, anyway it’s silly, I’m being silly, but I’m quite frightened to walk home alone.” She said looking down at the floor then back into his eyes. Her gaze cut at his soul.

“No, you’re not silly at all. A lovely lady should be cautious. If you would like,” he stopped, stumbled, “um, if it would make you feel safer, I could escort you home.”

“Oh, would you? That would be so lovely. I mean, I hate to inconvenience you. Your house is in the other direction.”

His heart did somersaults inside his chest. “It would be my pleasure.” He struggled to make the words come out at a normal speed.

He tried to keep from staring at her as they walked out of the bank and on to the side-walk. The light scent of roses and vanilla wafted off of her and soaked his head. The color of her light green dress shamed the bright green colors of spring, and the curve of her lips seemed to kiss the twilight breeze.

“So how was Yale?”

“Hm, what?” He said jerking from his thoughts.

“Yale? Did you like it? Was it exciting?”

“Oh, Yale, it was fine.”

“Only fine?” she asked turning toward him as they walked. “I would have loved to go to such a prestigious school. Sure would have beat Fort Scott Community college.”

“You did very well for yourself Ruby May,” he countered her disparaging tone. “You could be married to the bag boy at the grocery store.”

She looked at him for a second though narrow eyes, making him want to take back his snide comment, but then she smiled. “Your right,” she said with a little laugh. “How could I do all I want to do on a bag boys salary?”

Relief almost audibly spilled from his chest. “And what is it my dear that you want to do?”

“See the world,” she said lifting her face to the sky.

Smiling at the pleasure in her voice, he asked. “The Pyramids, The Great Wall of China, Europe, The Great Barrier Reef; which part?”

“All of it.”  She said as they approached her front door.

“Well perhaps I can help you fulfill your dreams one day?” He said worrying it as too much.

She studied him for a moment then stood on her tip toes and softly kissed his cheek.  “I think I would like that. Good night Mr. Galloway.”

“Benedict, call me Benedict.” He said as she walked into her house.

It became a habit; Him walking her home. It took him nearly a month to gather the courage to ask her to dinner, but one early summer evening when there walk was almost over he did.

“Ruby May?”

“Yes?”

“I know I’m not the best looking man at the bank, or even in town, but I wonder if you would humor me by letting me take you out?” He stared at the ground, and when he heard no response he feared the worst. Without a word, Ruby May put both her hands on his face, lifted it and laid her lips on his. It seemed like a blessed eternity of heaven to him. When she finally released his eyes submerged in hers, a pleasant kind of drowning. “Is that a yes?”

*****

Benedict’s silence brought Lucy back to the present. The room was spotless. As she carried her supplies out of the room her heart ached for the pain of the man in the chair. He loved her so deeply .Lucy thought with a painful understanding of the way love can eat your heart.

“It was too fast, too easy. I see that now.” Benedict said.

His voice was so calm, so normal. Lucy thought he almost sounded sane as she began to remove his clothes to bathe him. Lucy said nothing and he continued.

“We got married three months later. I thought she loved me.” His voice cracked. “I thought she loved me.” He repeated as the tears came. “I thought she loved me!”

Lucy patted his shoulder as he blubbered. Comfort, how could she comfort when she had nothing; no compassion, only bitterness, no hope, only fear.

“I saw it coming, but I ignored it. I thought if I pretended it wasn’t happening it would go away!” He nearly spit the words, his tears stopping abruptly. “The smell of foreign cologne hung in the house at night, it made my nose and throat burn, and it seared my thoughts; thoughts of knowing I wasn’t enough, she was too good for me, someone else was making her cry out in pleasure. Happiness, that’s all I wanted for my Ruby so I let it go.” He rocked, hands wrapped tightly around his knees. “It got worse, harder to ignore. A pack of cigarettes under the edge of the bed, new lingerie in her dresser, hurried, hushed voices when I stepped through the front door followed by the click of a window, but still I feigned ignorance. I think Ruby May suspected I knew, and she tried to bring it up one evening at dinner.”

*****

“Benny,” Ruby May said as she speared a piece of steamed and buttered asparagus. “There is something I think we should discuss.”

“And what would that be?” Benedict asked trying not to let his voice convey the anger and fear he felt.

“Well,” she began, swallowing hard. “I know you heard the window today. You arrived home early from the bank, and I can’t see how you don’t know.” Ruby May’s face stayed glued to her barely touched food.

“I don’t know what you mean?” Benedict answered as he brutally cut at the steak on Ruby’s white and blue china.

“Benedict,” Ruby May whispered as her eyes glistened.  “I know you know! You must. It’s wrong of me. I am horrible.” She cried bursting into tears. “I do not deserve your kindness. I should go. I can leave tomorrow.”

“What!” He said firmly, looking up from his mutilated steak. “Go! Your leaving me!”

“You deserve a good wife,” Ruby cried looking into his eyes.

“No,” he answered shaking his head. “I want you. Please, don’t go Ruby. I don’t care about the men, keep them. I don’t want to know, but I don’t care. I’d do anything to keep you.”

“You would? You don’t care?” Ruby said amazed. Could I have it all? She wondered.

“No I don’t. I just don’t wish to discuss it further.”

Ruby May stared as Benedict stood, gathered his dishes and after walking to the sink to dispose of them plopped onto the couch and opened his paper.

Ruby May endeavored to be discrete the first few months that followed, but as time passed and Benedict remained quiet she became carless. The brown leather belt on Ruby’s bed side stand pierced him like a thousand needles, the unmade bed at six in the evening hammered images of Ruby May naked under some unknown face and hard body into his brain like nails, the purple marks on her neck bruised his soul. They were like a chisel, chipping away at his insides.

He tried to find things to keep him late at the bank and drove home slowly, hating every inch of the road that carried him there. It wasn’t difficult to find the anger to slam the car doors good and loud as a warning; get out of my house you bastard, he would think. And as every other day Benedict assumed it would work. Dragging his feet he walked to his door, opened it and slammed it hard. He was surprised when he didn’t hear the window open and close. It was the Friday before Labor Day and the Bank had close early. Surely she knows it’s a holiday weekend, he thought. Should I go upstairs? She may not be here. At the foot of the maple wood staircase he stood, undecided.

Water falling against tile rang in his ears as he topped the steps. Then he heard her, heard him. Breathless high-pitched female sounds chased by masculine grunts and rumblings. Bleeding inside, he listened. He had known for some time that she was finding pleasure with others, but knowing was not feeling and now he felt. He burned. Pain, and betrayal swung around in his mind like a battle-ax, severing. Turn away, he thought. Walk away, don’t drive her away. Meet her needs where you can.

“Oh, oh David! I love you!” Ruby May cried as Benedict turned.

“David!” Benedict breathed. “The god damn grocery boy!”

Benedict ran for the stairs bounding, two, three at a time to the bottom. Away, he had to get away. He only got as far as the living room and halted. “All this time it was that prick!” He cursed, picking up the iron poker from beside the fire and tossing it into the flames. “He beat me.” He said as he paced. “The bastard beat me! Everything I have and he got what I really wanted! No!” He determined and stopped. “No!”

He turned to the fire, his eyes reflecting the flames, inside and out. His skin singed and burned as he wrapped it around the hilt of the iron poker. One word rang in his mind as he marched from the living room and up the stairs; NO! As he wrapped his hand around the door knob, he heard the water stop and Ruby Mays light laughter.

“Benedict!” She cried as the door stopped swinging. Looking from his crazed eyes to the red-hot poker in his eyes she asked, “Benny, baby, what are you doing? Just calm down.” She said as she backed into a very shocked David Sallis, and he stepped in front of her.

“Benedict, I know you don’t want to hurt her.” The sound of David’s smooth voice and the sight of his muscled naked body severed the last connection Benedict Galloway had to sanity.

Blood dripping from his burnt hand, Benedict lifted the red-hot, pointed iron bar and swung down with every ounce of strength he possessed. With a crack and a sick singeing sound Benedict buried the metal in David’s forehead, his body gave one violent jerk before it fell, spurting blood, to the floor. Without thought or hesitation, Benedict lifted his weapon again and dug it deeply into Ruby Mays blond crown. Her screams stopped abruptly, but he did not. Again and again he swung down in blind rage until nothing remained of her face.

*****

Lucy knelt in front of Benedict frozen in horror. As his mouth closed and he finished his story, a story Lucy had never fully heard, disgust and anger bloomed inside her. Benedict had always evoked pity and compassion in her, but as Lucy removed his ankle cuffs she doubted if she would ever feel that again. Greed and desire for love had eaten his heart and made him a mindless monster. Carelessly distracted, Lucy dropped his ankle cuffs outside the door and was about  to ask him to stand so she could close the door when he spoke again.

“Ruby May,” Benedict said blankly looking a Lucy. The name hit Lucy like a thousand frozen shards. “I loved you!” He screamed as he thrust toward her wrapping his cuffed hands around her neck.

“H-e-l-p,” Lucy tried to choke out, but it was a hushed smothered sound. She struggled, but something in her mind whispered; why not let it happen?

Doug threw himself against Benedict and they fell to the floor. Doug hit Benedict in the face a few times before he realized he wasn’t fighting back, he had become a mindless, moaning heap of man. Lucy, coughed and sputtered as she crawled into the hall, and watched as Doug slammed the door shut with Benedict still chained to it.

Still breathing heavily and fear for her paining his face, Doug knelt down and took Lucy in his arms. Too shocked to resist, she allowed herself to be gathered up. The tumult in her mind made it difficult to not think of his purely masculine smell and the firmness of the arms that held her.

He pulled her back, looking to assure himself she was well, and aside from the bruising already flowering under the sensitive skin of her neck he was satisfied. “Lucy what the hell happened? He damn near killed you!”

“Did you know? Did you know the whole of what he did?”

“Well, I think so. I read the police reports, but they were incomplete. He killed his wife… right?”

“The word “killed” does not do his crime justice,” she breathed as he helped her to her feet. “I will forever bear the cross of what I have learned.”

We Have Forgotten -part two-

Posted in Because I love to write, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by cjirwin

Rome

I shivered in the cool, dampness, unsure if my body was responding to the temperature or my fear. Seth squeezed my hand tighter, as we walked down the dark, narrow tunnel my dreams had led us to. I know I am supposed to be here, somehow I know. My dreams, the voices, my very insides have compelled me to this place, and still I am unsure of what it is I am seeking.

For days we have been in the bowls of the beautiful and historic city, yet I have yet to enjoy Rome. We have searched and sought beneath it, hardly seeing the light of day. One year I have sought this gift, or so I am told it is a gift. As I wade through the sewers of this city, I wonder how it can be true that I could find here the key to unlock truth of humanity.

Will they find me before I find the truth? The Popes have known about what I seek for generations, but have lacked the knowledge to discover it. Their minions seek me now. Hard on me and Seth they have been. My life has seemed a crazy and sometimes horrible dream since that fateful day in Time Square. I should not complain. This dangerous search for this mysterious gift that I believe God has sent me on has led me to the man who now holds my hand, my true love. I was angry at God at first for giving me this task, but as I accepted His calling He gave me the most wonderful thing in the world; Seth Visigoth.

“Where now?” Seth asked as the tunnel split in two directions.

“The left,” I answered, and he trusted me completely.

“It’s a dead-end,” he said surprised after we had walked another hour.

“It’s not, hit it,” and so we did. Our shoulders ached as we crawled through the small opening. “There it is!” I said as Seth lifted the light high.

“That’s it?” Seth asked a little disappointed. He walked around the simple stone alter that stood in the center of the room, shinning his light and frowning. “There is something on the top. It looks like a Scrabble board with all the letters set on it. Is this what we have been looking for?”

“No, it is what is inside the stone pillar. We just have to open it.” I said to Seth as I looked over the stone letters atop the pillar. I stared, trying to remember. “Damn!” I cursed. “Surely God would not send me this far to be thwarted by some ancient jig saw puzzle!”

“Its Latin, the letters are Latin,” Seth said looking over my shoulder.

“You can read Latin?”

“Yes, I had to learn it in my senior year.” Seth said looking closer.

“What do we do?” I asked excited.

“It looks like we need a keyword or a password of some sorts.”

“A password?” I said thinking. “Remember,” I whispered.

“What?” Seth asked.

“Remember, the password is remember!”

“R-e-m-e-m-b-e-r-,” he said each letter as he pushed it on the stone. As he pushed the final letter the whole stone table of letters fell through revealing the inside of the pillar.

Brushing away the stone, dust and gravel, I found a leather-bound manuscript, which had beautiful Latin script across the front.

Seth read it to me. “The Book of Remembrance,” he paused and swallowed hard.

“What!” I asked. “What else does it say?”

“The Personal Gospel of our Lord and Savior; Yahashua!” He said and turned to me stunned. Reaching to open it I froze, echoes resounded in the room, feet slapping hard on the stone! They had found us!

“No!” I whispered. “The Vatican will destroy this!”