Zeth Anderson drew in a deep breath. This was it, what he’d been searching for his whole life. It was his father’s dream, his grandfather’s dream. It was paradise so close he could taste it. Eden. For all twenty years of his life, Zeth had searched for it, as a young child, his father had told him tales of it, had instilled in him the longing for paradise. Eden. For the last twelve years of his life, Zeth had been consumed in research to find the location, and now he was so close, all the maps pointed to a location near here. All the journal entries, from the one man who had found Eden, Joseph Halden, told him he was getting close.
He looked at his three companions. They had started out as ten, but these three remained. Jessica, Andrew, and Martin. The terrors of the Amazon jungle had been too much for the others. But now they were close, all the signs pointed to it, and in his heart, Zeth could feel it.
Suddenly Andrew stopped, “We’re never going to find it, Zeth.”
Zeth jerked his head toward his companion, “What do you mean, ‘We’re not going to find it’?”
“It’s not actually real, Zeth. And if it ever was, then it was destroyed in the flood.”
“We are going to find it. I can feel it in my bones. We’re close, Andrew, very close.”
“No we’re not, because it’s not here.”
“Zeth!” Jessica said softly.
“What? Are you backing out on me too?” Zeth snapped. Seven months was far too long to spend isolated in the Amazon jungle with limited company.
“Zeth, listen!” She said.
Zeth squeezed his eyes shut and listened. A soft noise, like a song, reached his ears. He slowly headed in the direction of the noise, his companions close behind him. He could now recognize the noise as a child’s voice, singing. But not in words, instead in pure, clear notes.
“Zeth, don’t be foolish!” Andrew snapped, “This is certainly a trap. You’re walking us to our deaths!”
“No,” Martin said, it was the first time he’d spoken for the last week. Martin was the quiet sort. “No,” he said, “Something about this is right. Zeth is right. We are close.”
Jessica nodded sharply, “I agree with them.”
“Then we’re all going to die.” Andrew stated bluntly.
“We very well may. You knew that was a risk when you joined the quest.” Zeth said, walking towards the singing. Andrew just shook his head.
Soon Zeth began to see through the forest, “There’s something beyond here!” he said, breaking into a run.
He broke out of the forest and gasped at the sight before him. A garden, with waterfalls and streams and plants of every kind. Plants of kinds he had never seen before. All green, all beautiful. He noticed a tree in what seemed to be the middle of the sacred garden, but unlike the other plants, this tree was dead. Blacked with age and decay, with no leaves. The branches hung limply. One brilliant red fruit hung off a dead branch, and for some sreason, it attracted Zeth. He ran towards it. Right into a wall. He fell down, his nose bleeding with the impact.
“An invisible wall.” He mused, “fascinating.”
Jessica asked, “Are you ok?”
“Yes, we have to find a way in.” Zeth touched the invisible wall, and followed the border of it until he saw a gate outlined in gold.
“A way in.” Andrew breathed.
Zeth ran to the gate and stopped suddenly in his tracks.
Two angels stood guard at the gate. They bore swords of gold, crossed to bar the gate. And their mouths were moving. It occurred to Zeth that the singing must be coming from them.
“We wish to enter the garden.” Zeth addressed them. The singing came to a halt as they turned to him.
“No one may enter this garden.” one said, “it is forbidden by the lord.”
“Just once,” Zeth begged, “All I want is to taste the fruit.”
“The fruit from the black tree?” the angel asked.
“There’s no need to enter the garden, you have already tasted that fruit.”
“I’ve not entered this garden before!” Zeth argued.
“You have tasted the fruit, for the fruit is the sin of man, and all have tried it. All love the taste, but in their bellies it is sour. The garden is not for you, because you have tasted the fruit.”
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