“No, I don’t want to read that!”
Moments earlier, I had been entranced in the book on my lap. I loved reading. Every time I opened the pages of a book, I was transported to another place and time.
“Try it,” my friend insisted, thrusting the small leather bound book at me.
“Why should I?” I asked defiantly. “I have plenty of other interesting books to read!”
“This one’s different.” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “It’s alive.”
I sighed in exasperation and took the book. If it will make her go away…
After she left, I tried to concentrate, but my thoughts kept straying to her gift. I sighed and gave up. I flipped casually through the pages, and began in Matthew. This looks like as good a place as any. The book interested me in spite of myself.
“Nice, but I just don’t get it,” I mused. “What did she mean by ‘alive’?”
Suddenly, the lights went out. Ouch!” I yelped, banging my knee into something sharp. I never had candles when I needed them. All I need to do is get to the fuse box… I fumbled my way to the stairwell. I was easing my way down when my foot caught on something. I plunged screaming into darkness.
I woke to the sound of a hundred voices buzzing around me. The air was heavy, and I felt the rays of the sun on my face. Startled, I sat up, only to slump back, dizzy from a pain in my head. I was in a place that I did not recognize, garbed in clothes that were not mine. I stifled a scream of panic and looked around frantically for someone, something recognizable. I stood as if to run, but my legs would not obey me. A crowd of clamoring people moved toward me, oozing malice.
I shuddered involuntarily when I saw him. The man slumped under the heavy cross was just barely recognizable as human. I gasped. As if he heard the sound, his head turned toward me. His eyes were so kind. What could he have done? My heart was wrung with pity. I saw the depression in the road ahead of him and, without thinking, darted past the soldiers. I caught the wounded man in my arms just before he fell, the weight of the man and his cross knocking the wind out of me. His gaze met mine and my eyes filled with tears.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered before I was roughly yanked away and tossed to the ground.
“What have we here?” A towering Roman soldier loomed over me. His lecherous gaze lingered briefly on my form before his arm was grabbed from behind.
“No time for that, you fool.”
The soldiers rejoined the procession. I followed, this time at a discreet distance and watched the gruesome proceeding to its finish. When at last they were done, I knelt weeping at the cross, hands and clothes still stained with His blood.
All of a sudden, the sky went completely black. The earth pitched and rolled as though regurgitating at the thought of His death. Even on my knees, I could not keep my balance. I fell to my hands and tumbled away from the cross, my eyes tightly closed, terrified, until the earth stopped moving, and I felt light on the other side of my eyelids. I opened my eyes…and I was in my room with its familiar stacks of books. Was it a dream? I looked down at my hands, and my breath caught in my throat. They were caked with dried blood. Without hesitation, I reached for the leather bound volume. My friend had been right. It was alive, and its contents had changed my life forever.
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