Doing his damnedest to make America grate (again).
Written in response to the prompt on FRIDAY FICTION with RONOVAN WRITES: Prompt Challenge #19 – A Celebration
. . . . and re-introducing Dr Jay Genswood.
Two separate events, eighteen months apart, have set me on my current path. The cynical academic I had been, sipping the complimentary drinks in business class on the ‘plane flying to meet my old college buddy Doug Kitchen in the Negev, would simply not recognise the man who walked out of Ana’s office in an astounded daze one and a half years later . . .
The robust wooden door before me bore the nameplate ‘Dr Ana Krino’, and as I knocked it sounded a comfortingly solid low note. I was greeted by a woman with Mediterranean looks, seemingly about my own age. She glanced at my face and an expression of superficial recognition quickly formed into a welcoming smile.
“Dr Genswood – thank you for coming to see me. I am grateful for your time.”
She guided me in, and we spent a few minutes exchanging the usual pleasantries, as those whose only immediate common ground is a mutual acquaintance tend to do. The obligatory English offer of tea and biscuits accompanied our introductory conversation. Crisp spring air drifted in through the window, bringing with it the bustling hubbub of central London traffic. After a brief pause to sip from her teacup, Ana got to the point of our meeting.
“Douglas Kitchen mentioned that you were in London for a conference. I was hoping that you might apply your particular expertise and experience to casting your eye over some research data?” She leaned across her desk, and passed me a loose set of papers.
My particular ‘expertise and experience’, I mused. “These tests results look rather unremarkable”, I offered, wondering if this was another of Doug’s attempts to pair me off, or just a prank, but then again . . . . . Douglas . . .
“These are the spectrometric results of a liquid sample taken from a bronze age artefact recovered in Israel last year. The original find was made by locals – treasure hunters wanting to find their fortune. They wanted to cash in, so sent several objects to Jerusalem, no doubt to whet the appetite and open the cheque books of the Hebrew University. HU immediately dispatched a team to investigate further, and various items recovered as a result prompted them to consult with the British School of Archaeology out there, and subsequently my team here. Their initial investigation revealed a liquid substance to be contained within that jar . . .” She motioned towards a crusty old amphora-style jar, sitting in a glazed cabinet at the edge of the room, which bore an image of the Star of David.
“The vessel is very similar to the ones found at the Palace of Tel Kabri, near the coast of Upper Galilee, but Israel didn’t have the facilities to match those we have developed here, which would protect and preserve the contents, whatever they may have been, so . . .” Ana gestured to illustrate the jar finding its way to her office.
Galilee . . . ancient Judea. A memory of petrified heartwood bearing Hebrew lettering flashed back across my mind from as if eighteen months were eighteen seconds. The Negev . . . . . Douglas . . .
“The University of Haifa had been able to analyse residues from the jars discovered at the Tel Kabri site – they revealed that wine they had contained had been mixed with different flavourings – terebinth resin, cedar oil, honey, other plant extracts – dull, I admit, but an archaeological first. When HU realised that they could trump that discovery with analysis of the possibly preserved contents of this jar, they wanted to make sure that no mistakes were made in its preservation and forensic analysis. Forensic analysis, which showed this red liquid with an aromatic scent featuring hints of berries, and a suggestion of cinnamon, to be simple, unremarkable yet unmistakeable, water.” She waved a phial of red liquid in my direction before passing it briefly beneath her nose.
I hesitated. “There is nothing in these results to account for any discolouring, any change in viscosity, nor any aromatic evaporation.”
“No, nor the deeply satisfying flavour,” she replied.
I froze. This had to be a joke.
“You’ve . . .?!”
Galilee; ancient Galilee . . .
“Ana, where exactly was the jar found?”
“The dig is near Kafr Kanna, also known as Khirbet Cana.”
To my almost offended disbelief, she sipped at the phial.
“It is a cosmopolitan Galilean town, about five miles northeast of Nazareth. It is mostly . . . ‘unremarkable’? . . , but quite popular with tourists. You know, pilgrims.”
Realisation dawned in my dull mind. “Cana! This came from Cana?! As in . . .”
” . . . as in the wedding celebration at Cana. Where Jesus Christ is recorded to have performed his first miracle – turning water . . . into wine.”
“Ana, this is unbe- . . . how can you allow this to be drunk?! You must preserve the specimen, re-seal the jar – the wa- . . wi- . . the specimen will become contaminated! You have to protect it until it can be peer-reviewed! You have to . . !”
She smiled at me. “There are those in the world who will always reject the truth I believe we have discovered, regardless of how many universities, or government laboratories were to validate the findings. But Douglas told me about Kadneg; he told me what he found, and you witnessed . . . I trusted that you would have an open mind.”
“But Ana, the specimen . . . ”
” . . . the specimen never runs out; it has never . . . will never run out. No matter how much we remove . . . how often . . . It replenishes itself, each night; every night.”
For an insight into events in the Negev 18 months previously, see Rings . . .
Strong and Courageous were brother and sister. Strong was very, very strong; and Courageous was the bravest dwarf in the kingdom.
But the pair had not always been siblings. When they were very young, they had each been captured by slave traders. They were rescued by a Prince, whose name was “Wonderful”. He set them free, but was so deeply wounded in the battle to save them, that by the time he had brought them to the palace of his Father, the King, he had no strength left, and he died.
The Prince’s Father was heartbroken at the loss of his son, but adopted Strong and Courageous, and so they became brothers in a new adoptive royal family.
Three days later an amazing thing happened: Prince Wonderful was miraculously brought back to life by his Father’s love. He became stronger than ever before and took his rightful place, sitting on his own throne by his Father’s side in the palace.
Strong and Courageous began to learn from the Prince and their Father, and soon they were ready to leave the palace on their first royal quest.
the adventures of Strong and Courageous will continue . . .
The following was written for Christian Flash Weekly Event #40 – please click through to see the other submissions.
On the second day God spoke, the Son wept tears of joy at His creation. They fell and covered the Earth, as He saw that it was good.
Then man came, he turned away, left and turned on himself. The Father’s heart broke, and the Son wept, for forty days and nights; until the world he wept for was washed clean.
Man turned again, and the Son became man, and He wept as we weep – the tears of children needing sustenance, shelter and love. As Jesus grew he wept as we weep – the tears of loss of a friend, and of joy at his return.
He prepared to leave Earth and on His last day, He wept in anguish – separation, from friends, family, and Father. Now through faith in Him, separation and death transform wonderfully to reconciliation and new life.
And the tears flow as intended, from His everlasting joy.
Written for today’s Flash! Friday challenge, prompted by this photograph.
“So, Friday, four weeks ago?”
Prisoner 1225 anxiously glanced up at the detectives flanking him.
“I don’t remember. You can’t seriously . . . it was four weeks ago!”
“Black Friday. Witnesses saw a man fitting your description inciting the violence and looting that night.”
The prisoner began to feel uncomfortably warm in his thick red coat, and nervously tended his cascading white beard.
“What about the early hours of the 25th?”
” I was . . . working . . . Making deliveries.”
“Enough. Book him – Santa Claus. a.k.a. Father Christmas: accomplice to the theft of the true meaning of Christmas. You’ll be tried for crimes against humanity.”
“But . . .”
“You’ve got one certain hope. Just confess, testify, and the D.A. will see the Judge forgives you.”
“If I don’t?”
“Life. No parole.”
“Ok, Ok , , , I’ll confess . . . tell the D.A. I want the deal.”
The D.A stepped out from behind the prisoner, smiled, and confirmed, “IT IS DONE.”
Written for today’s Flash! Friday challenge, prompted by this photograph, to include reference to ‘treasure’.
The Treasure Special
I stepped up into the first carriage, but many on the platform didn’t seem to realise that the train had arrived.
“Leave your baggage behind, ” the Conductor suggested with a smile, “I’ll stow it for you, no trouble. This end is full, but head through and you’ll find plenty of room further back.”
“Thank you, Sir . . . and welcome to the Treasure Special”.
The murmur of contented travellers enjoying the warmth and light, sharply contrasted with the cold dull platform. At Compartment 3, I was confused to be greeted once again by the Conductor.
“How did you . . . .?”
“Oh,” he smiled, “I’ve known my way around this train all my life – it’s the family business. We have room for you in Row 7.”
I passed more welcoming faces and then was greeted again by . . . the Conductor.
“Here you are, Sir.”
“But this seat card says, ‘Saved’.”
The Conductor’s face beamed, radiantly. “Yes, Sir, that it does.”
The following was written for Christian Flash Weekly Event #28 – please click through to see the other submissions.
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”
– 1 John 1:1
. . . and it began. A home was born, which provided everything: warmth and comfort, food and drink, shelter and security; but though there were parts where the light shone, yet there were others where shadows were cast. The children who lived there wanted to cower in the shadows as much as bask in the light, and the home began to decay, bearing the scars of infestation and neglect.
But the Father made a promise – a new home for those who chose it: those not too proud to return his love and obey his rules. A new home with no shadows, no marks of decay, no infestation; a new home and a loving family which would never go away.
Some children dreamed of it, and told of it, of the new home and the father’s promise of it, and when the time came he reclaimed them and assured them they were . . .
To prove it the Father tasked his Son: to show all the other children the way to hold the promise, and how one day to find their new home. He told them stories and memories, and more about the Father than they had ever known. He showed them the Father’s love, and in return . . . they rejected him. They imprisoned him, and accused him, they punished him and tortured him; and after they had hurt him in every way a man can . . . then they killed him, and tried to bury the truth.
But the Father had made a promise, and nothing could prevent it being kept. The only question would be, who would hear and accept the promise of that new home one day. A new home, with a loving family and the father’s promise lasting:
The following was written for Christian Flash Weekly Event #27 – please click through to see the other submissions.
Listen, Israel: Today you are about to cross the Jordan to go and drive out nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities fortified to the heavens.
– Deuteronomy 9:1 (HCSB)
I crouched in silence, hiding in the darkness behind my eyelids. Adrenaline poured through me, and time slowed. A man’s voice was shouting, pausing, shouting . . . and then a gunshot rang out and my world accelerated into a wall of noise.
The stadium wasn’t huge, but this college meet was the biggest of my life. Coach’s words ran around my head, “You have this Izzy. Yours is a God-given talent, and this is your time. Jordan is your marker – stay with her around the bend . . . then let go, and Go. “
Rising out of the blocks, I released of all of the tense energy I had concentrated into my muscles. As I lifted my head, I saw the familiar form of my nearest rival moving fluidly in the lane outside me: “Jordan is your marker . . .”
“You will likely see older girls still ahead of you, like a mountain range getting closer to you, because you will be gaining on them. You have this. God has this. He put wings on your feet and when you fly, you will feel his pleasure.”
Blink. A year later, the college vests of the athletes around me switched to university colours. The stadium had grown taller, louder. Entering the home strait, I began to reel in those mountains ahead.
Blink. The stadium had transformed again – an eternal flame ahead of me, the unmistakable rings on the flag flying in pride of place. The other athletes now bore the colours of their nations, as I closed, drew level, passed, and dipped at the line.
Thank You, God.
Written for this week’s Flash Friday challenge.
Time to Leave
“It’s time.” whispered Rob.
Time. After hundreds of years, and generations of my family living in the same croft, climbing the same hills and cliffs . . . now was time for us to leave. My Ella would be the last baby born on this island. My kind-hearted, innocent, bonny wee St Ella of St Kilda would not know her home.
Daddy always told me as we walked to the church meeting house each Sunday morning that we were caretakers of the island: “God gi’ us this land t’ mind. We tek care o’ the land f’r Him, and the land will tek care o’ us.”
We hadn’t taken care of it. We killed the land when we changed the way we farmed, and now it would no longer sustain us.
The last of us left an open bible and pile of oats in each house, and boarded the boat for the mainland, our eyes laden with tears of repentance.
The following was written for Christian Flash Weekly Event #22 – please click through to see the winning submission, judge’s comments and this week’s challenge.
On the contrary, we speak God’s hidden wisdom in a mystery, a wisdom God predestined before the ages for our glory.
– 1 Corinthians 2:7
“Thank you for coming at such short notice Jay . . . It’s good to see you too, Eli.”
“You knew your message would intrigue me Douglas, but to be honest I didn’t need much of an excuse to get away from the university and come – you also know full well that this place has been on my bucket list for a long time.”
Douglas’s message had been short:
KADNEG. PET TREE. COME ASAP, BRING E. – D –
Douglas always had a talent for easily grabbing my attention, ever since we were freshmen. A petrified tree turning up at his Kadesh dig deep in the Negev desert? He also knew better than to waste my time, so asking me to bring along my research assistant Elijah proved that what he wanted me to see was worth paying for two airfares.
“I won’t waste time with the usual pleasantries,” he began. “We unearthed this lone petrified tree trunk amid the ruins of the city – it seemed to occupy a position at the centre of what we assume to be a market square fronting the temple.” He looked agitated, anxious even.
“Okay,” I said, “So this is big, but what made you send such a cryptic message? No denying it’s a great and unusual find, but . . .”
Douglas cut right across me mid-sentence, “Yeah, ok – ‘unusual’ . . . Jay, this is way beyond my team, and the paeleo-biology specialist used by BGU. The tree doesn’t look native. When we began to take samples from the trunk, there was no obvious evidence of insect damage, and it appeared to have no rings whatsoever in the cross-section. None . . .”
Hence Douglas’s need for a palaeo-botanist he knew and trusted: me.
“Even the heaviest degradation would leave some internal structure intact . . .”, I began to muse. Another thing Douglas knew about me from old was my irrepressibly impatient need to begin processing problems immediately.
“That’s what the BGU guys said, so, I sent a section back home for analysis.”
“Why not direct to me to begin with?” I asked, with mild indignation.
“I had to try my own staff first – it’s university policy to keep one institution’s name on the press release if it can be helped. My guys thought it was a fake which I had sent them as a practical joke. But, either because they thought it was such a very good fake that they had to be sure, or because I insisted so vehemently that it was genuine . . . they decided to break policy and send it on to the STEHM microscopy team at the University of Victoria in Canada, to get a more detailed image. They got very excited when the Canadians produced this.” He opened a file sleeve and handed over a photo.
“What resolution is this?” I asked, my pulse beginning to race.
“They refused to confirm – claimed commercial privilege, so you know it’s got to be higher than they officially admit to in their blurb.”
I was astounded. “The rings are so tightly packed that they are barely distinguishable – this tree must have grown incredibly slowly, and lived for – I don’t know – tens of thousands of years! This is incredible! This is Nobel prize stuff!”
Douglas smiled a nervous smile. “No, Jay. This is what is incredible, and I need to know how on Earth it can be possible before we share it. This is from the base of the trunk, and we took this image with a regular digital camera. Only my most trusted core team members here have seen this.”
He handed over another photo, and to my surprise, this time gave it direct to Elijah.
Eli’s jaw dropped, and so did the sheet. As it glided to rest on Douglas’s desk, I saw what were unmistakably words, but in a language I did not recognise; burned, engraved (I still don’t know how to properly describe it):
אֶהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶהְיֶה
“Ehyeh ašer ehyeh.” Eli read.
“This is why I asked you to bring Eli – because I trust you, you trust him, and because he can read ancient Hebrew.”
“What does it mean Eli?”
“Literally, it means, ‘I will be what I will be’ . . . but your Bible translates it as ‘I Am who I Am’.” It’s what God said to Moses at the burning bush.
Below the first phase was a second, longer one:
בטרם היות אברהם אני הייתי
“Beterm heyot avraham ani hayiti”, Eli slowly continued, “It means, ‘Before Abraham, I was’ . . . That isn’t in the Torah.”
“Indeed.” a voice behind us calmly agreed, “It is not.”