A dream of Hemingway

Some dreams stay with us.  Some are curious, others frightening and occasionally one comes along that makes you think.  A little while ago, I had this happen.  It was such a peculiar dream…

I was going somewhere, packing to visit some friends.  I arrived in a city (New York, in the spring, I think) and proceeded to my friend’s house.  When I reached my destination I was informed that Ernest Hemingway was renting a room there.  As a writer, I was eager to meet him.  My friend informed me as to which room Mr. Hemingway could be found.  So I went to him.  He was sitting at a desk, working and I didn’t interrupt him.  He looked up and acknowledged me then invited me to come in.  I briefly told him that I was trying my hand at writing.

He asked, “In what way do you know your characters?”

I considered the question for a moment then asked, “How do you mean?  As in a list of attributes?”

He laughed, then said, “Here’s a tip, don’t write fiction.”

And that was it.  That was all he said to me.  In my dream I was crushed.  Because I write fiction.  I spent the rest of my dream trying to figure out what his question meant?  How could I have answered correctly.  My friends (all high school pals) tried to pull me out of a sullen demeanor but it could not be achieved and I left the house to commence walking in the rain.  Then I woke up without ever figuring out the answer to (dream) Ernest Hemingway’s question.

Since then I have thought often of the question and have come up with a few answers that I feel may have appeased Ernest Hemingway.

I also wonder why I even had a dream that involved him.  I am well aware of who he is, respect him as a writer (even more so as a person) but wouldn’t consider him to be one of my influences.  There are so many other writers…. But that’s the nature of dreams, I suppose.

A friend got excited and told me it was a premonition but I suspect it was a manifestation of my subconscious.  My self-critical nature.  My own harsh judgement of my work.  Never being good enough… But maybe not.  Maybe it was Mr. Hemingway trying to help me achieve my goal of becoming a published writer.  One can always hope.

So that being said, friends and writers, in what way do you know your characters?

 

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Jerusalem Syndrome Part IV: a short fantasy story

Bradley walked the city as though it were his own.  He knew everything about it now.  So much had changed in 24 hours.  When he walked through the Shuk he found his path easily, stopping to observe the commotion, to pay close attention to the people creating it.  Everyone moved around him, he was not a salmon lost in the current but a stone creating the flow.

With purpose he walked through the Old City, he chose his route, making sure he reached every corner of all four quarters.  He prayed in the churches, the mosques and the synagogues, it was all familiar.  He avoided the heavy traffic of tourists, knowing the secret routes and hidden alleys.  With his sister seeing to her work, there was nothing to detract him from his agenda, except for the dog.

As soon as he’d entered the Old City, there it was.  It followed him at a distance.  When he stopped, it sat and watched and waited.  When he walked, he could hear the click of the nails as it trailed behind him.  No one else seemed to notice it.  He tried screaming at it and lunging.  The dog would dart away and leave him alone momentarily but it always came back.

Bradley walked from sunrise to sunset with the stray dog, stubborn as a shadow.  He was finally rid of the thing when night fell and he left the Old City.

Ankah II enlight

Heather returned home close to midnight.  She had seen to her cameras but worried about her brother all day.  She was glad to see him sleeping when she arrived.  With a smile she closed the door to his bedroom.  After a hot shower and some soup, she crawled into bed and was fast asleep.

 

Bradley woke before sunrise.  He threw off his shirt and pants then ripped the white sheets off his bed, flinging pillows across the room.  After fashioning a toga from one of the sheets, he ran out of the room, out of the apartment and out of the building.  Into the cool morning air he sprinted, his bare feet slapping the stones.  He didn’t tire despite the constant uphill to the Old City.  He didn’t feel any pain when his feet began to bleed.

Heather shivered in her bed.  It was enough to wake her.  Immediately she knew something was amiss.  Throwing back the comforter, she flew from her bed and bolted out of her room.  She saw the door wide open then pivoted and stared into his room.  The bed was disrobed, his clothes were on the floor and he was gone.  Horrified, she scrambled back to her room to throw on some clothes then took off after him.

When she reached the Old City, sucking air and sweating profusely, her look of desperation transcended all language barriers.  She followed the gestures of witnesses along a wake of bewilderment that could only belong to her brother.

She reached the Western Wall Plaza and heard yelling and recognized it as Bradley’s voice.  Her brother stood, dressed in his bed-sheet toga, shouting in a language she didn’t immediately recognize.  Tourists stood at a wary distance, taking pictures or recording him on cameras and cell phones as he delivered his speech.

Heather noticed a group of Israeli Defense Force soldiers approaching and she raced them to her brother, shouting, “Ach-ee!  Ach-ee!”

“This is your brother?” one of the soldiers said.

She nearly doubled over in front of him, her face red and her lungs screaming for air.

“He is speaking Aramaic and Arabic,” the soldier said.

“And Latin,” another added.

“How is that possible?” she asked, her voice raw.  “He doesn’t know any of those languages, he’s never been outside of the United States before.  He’s not religious.  This isn’t possible.”

There was a crowd drawing closer, a mixture of tourists and locals, old and young, Muslims, Jews and Christians.  At the front of the crowd stood a wizened Hasidic, his peyos long and silver as was his beard.  He concentrated on Bradley, whispering softly.

“He needs to go to a hospital,” the soldier said.

“What’s happened to him?” Heather asked, on the verge of tears.

Bradley started shouting the same phrase in Aramaic over and over, spittle flying from his mouth.  He stomped toward the old Hasidic man.  The crowd collectively stepped back but the old man did not.  He closed his eyes and continued moving his lips.

Neither Heather nor the soldiers could hear what the old man was saying but stared as he held a hand out toward Bradley.

As though Bradley were fighting some great force trying to prevent him from doing so, he reached a shaky hand out toward the Hasid.  But he also continued shouting in Aramaic, Arabic and Latin, speaking faster and faster.  Veins bulged and pulsed on his forehead and neck.  His skin was red, covered in sweat and now not just his hand shook but his entire body.  The old man lightly touched Bradley’s palm with only his fingertips and this seemed to induce great trauma.  Bradley threw back his head, jaw clenched, muscles taught.  Then he opened his mouth, released a visceral cry and crumpled to the ground.

 

Heather sat in the hospital room, the beep of the heart rate monitor her constant companion.  Her eyelids were red and swollen from the crying and tears fell in silence.  She stared through blurry eyes to the screen of her cell phone, watching the minutes change.  Her husband was on his way from Los Angeles, though on a nonstop flight, he wouldn’t arrive until tomorrow.

Bradley rested tranquilly beside her.  He hadn’t woken up or stirred since he’d collapsed.  The lab tests came back fine except for mild dehydration and low blood pressure, so he was on an IV drip for now.  He was scheduled for an MRI in the morning, so long as all his vitals remained stable.

A doctor had spoken to her about a condition called Jerusalem Syndrome, a rare form of psychosis that some people experienced when visiting the ancient city.  There were even cases on people that weren’t religious being afflicted.  Based on the medical history she was able to provide, the doctor suspect Bradley was a Type III case.  Everything did add up, her brother’s behavior change, his obsession, the bed sheet-toga, his sudden procession to the Wailing Wall and the sermon he zealously delivered…  However, according to the doctor, most, and quite possibly, none of the other documented cases contained patients that suddenly and coherently understood three ancient languages.  A nurse assured her though that if Bradley was only affected by Jerusalem Syndrome and he truly was a Type III case, as extraordinary as everything was that had happened, he should be fine once he recovered and departed the city.  All this Heather considered as she sat in the hospital room, staring at her cell phone.

“Excuse me,” a soft voice called from the doorway.

Heather looked up and found a young woman attired in black.

“I would like to speak with you but dare not enter.”

She stood from her chair and approached the stranger.  As soon as she’d stepped out of the hospital room, the girl took her hands in hers.

“My grandfather is a rebbe, he saw your brother this morning at the Kotel.  He wanted me to tell you that your brother is very sick and may never wake up.”

Heather stared in disbelief but a knot tightened in her stomach when the girl started crying.

“And he said that if he does, he won’t be your brother anymore— I’m so sorry.”

She didn’t really know what to say but the young woman appeared to be waiting for some sort or acknowledgement.

“Thank you for telling me this.  And please thank your grandfather,” Heather said softly.

The young woman turned and began to walk away quickly.  Heather could only stand and stare and took a while to move even after the young woman had left her sight completely.

Jerusalem Syndrome Part III: A short fantasy story

Bradley walked along the pitted grey-stone road of the Armenian Quarter, down some steps and into the bazaar.  It was a colorful place decorated with everything a tourist could possibly want, from bags and scarves to t-shirts and toys.  Earrings, necklaces and rings holding Roman Glass sat proudly displayed alongside silver and gold lions, replicas of the city, candle holders, picture frames and jewelry.  Showy raqs sharqi outfits with their bright and decorated fabrics hung next to rugs and shawls.  Shofars made from ram horns sat in baskets while those made from horns of the Greater Kudu hung from up high on the walls or were kept in cases alongside menorahs, hanukiahs and crucifixes.

He stopped to examine a camel carved from olive wood as though he had never seen such a thing before.  But he felt like he was being watched.  In a crowd of people it wouldn’t be strange to be the subject of someone’s wayward glance yet this was different.  He looked up to see if it was the manager of the shop but he was busy selling an American kid a hookah.  After looking around, he found no one in particular staring at him.  Then he looked down and nearly recoiled as though he’d seen a snake.  A sandy colored dog stared up at him with large dark eyes.  The ears were tall and slender, pricked and held upright and the face was longer than the ears with a muzzle just as pointy.  After a moment of staring at one another, the dog opened its mouth, as though in a happy smile then trotted under the table displaying the olive wood camels.  The last thing to vanish was the long tail with its silky strands of fur.  Bradley crouched down and looked under the table but the dog was already gone.  He jumped up and flicked his gaze in every direction but found no sign of the dog.

The manager of the shop noticed the erratic behavior and approached him, “May I help you, my friend?” he said with a thick accent.

“Do you have a dog?” Bradley asked, still glancing around.

“Dog?  What you mean?  In the olive wood?”

“No,” Bradley said with a scowl.  “An actual dog, I just saw it.”

“No dog, my friend.  Not here.”

Bradley continued walking, heading deeper into the Armenian Quarter, following the endless rows of shops, turning corner after corner while inconspicuously looking for the dog.

 

Taher opened one of his journals and showed Heather some of the sketches he’d done of the striped hyenas he’d studied throughout his career.

“This one,” he tapped the page, “I saw her recently in the Negev.  I have seen her several times and feel confident that we will be able to radio-collar her.”

“I’m so excited, my first excursion,” Heather said with a grin.

“The Bedouin guides I’ve hired know many of the populations and where to find them.”

“Wonderful,” Heather whispered, staring at the drawing of the female striped hyena from the Negev.

As though he’d appeared out of thin air, Bradley suddenly emerged and sat down in a chair at the small table.  Heather and Taher both looked to him.  His expression was concentrated as though he was lost in worried thought.

“Are you all right?” Heather asked, closing the journal.

“I saw a dog,” he said.

“People have pet dogs here,” she said.  “It’s fairly common.”

“No, not a pet.  It showed up then was gone.  No collar, no leash.  No one else saw it…”

“Are you sure you don’t want to go to a doctor?” she asked.

“I’m fine.  It’s not my head.  It looked like a… it’s a breed… starts with an s…”

“Samoyed?  Shiba Inu?  Schnauzer?” Taher questioned.

Bradley shook his head rapidly.

“Shih Tzu, Sheltie, Schipperke?” Heather asked.

“No, please be quiet, let me think,” he said, agitated.

Taher and Heather stopped talking.

“Saluki!” he said.  “Like a small saluki but the ears were up and pointy.”

“Not a saluki then,” Taher commented.

“I said like a saluki,” Bradley emphasized, somewhat annoyed.

“Right, well, I’d better be going,” Taher said, standing from the table and collecting all his journals, binders and maps.

Heather stood beside him and helped him put his belongings in his pack.  “Sorry,” she muttered.  “I think it’s the jetlag.”

“No worries,” he replied.  “I have to get going anyway, want to make it to Ashdod before it’s too late.  My girlfriend’s been yammering on about me being gone on our anniversary again so I need to do something tonight to make her feel special.”

“You’d better treat her nice,” Heather said, sympathizing with his girlfriend.

“I always treat her nice,” Taher said with a grin.  “Bradley, it was good to finally meet you, I’ll see you in a couple days, right?”

Bradley didn’t reply.  He wore the same concentrated scowl as before so Taher said goodbye to Heather and left for the Zion Gate.

“There are a couple synagogues we can pass by on our way out of the Old City, if you would like?” she offered her brother after watching her friend leave.

Bradley didn’t say anything.  He just abruptly stood from the table and began following after her in sullen silence.  She didn’t really understand why he was upset about seeing a dog.  As far as she knew, he loved dogs.  He had a dog back home.  But he wasn’t acting right at all and she began to contemplate forcing him to see a doctor.

He stayed up late that night, examining books he found in the apartment, books about Jerusalem.  Some were guide books, others were historical.  He felt connected to the names and places and knew he needed to go back to the Old City.

Heather found Bradley still sitting at the table amongst the books when she woke in the early morning.

“Did you even sleep?” she asked from the kitchen while putting a kettle on the stove to boil water.

“I did,” he said, distracted.  “A few hours.”

She walked out of the kitchen and leaned against the wall.  “I’m going to go check a few censor cameras in the Judean Mountains, see if I caught any pictures of Apollo and Delphi.”

“Apollo and Delphi?” he asked, looking up.

“The striped hyena pair I’ve been tracking for a few years now, I’ve talked to you about them many times before.  You don’t remember?”

“Must be the jetlag,” he muttered, looking back to the books.

“Okay,” she scoffed.  “Are you coming with me?”

“I don’t think so.  I will go back to the Old City and walk around.  I want to revisit some of the places we saw yesterday.  I want to stay a while and watch more.  We were in such a hurry yesterday.”

Heather stared at him.  He was acting so strange.  This was not the brother she remembered.

“I’ll be fine on my own,” he said.

The kettle whistled and Heather stepped away to make her tea.  While she poured the boiling water over mint leaves, she heard the click of the door.  Nearly dropping the kettle, she darted out of the kitchen and found her brother gone.  He had already left.

Jerusalem Syndrome Part II: A short fantasy story

Bradley opened his eyes to see a frantic Heather staring at him.  The ground was cold and it was fairly dark.  His head throbbed and he smelled blood.

“Are you all right?  What the hell were you doing?  We shouldn’t be down here,” she snapped.

“What?” he questioned hoarsely.

“Do you know where you are?”

“Jerusalem,” he answered.  “The Roman corridor…”

“Can you get up?”

She grabbed his arm as he rose from the ground, grit and small rocks fell from him as though he had been down there long enough to accumulate a layer.  Bradley brushed himself off before climbing up the ladder with his sister right behind him.

A group of Chinese tourists watched them as they climbed over the barricade.  Their expressions were quizzical but none of them questioned why they were down in the archaeological dig-site.  The tourists soon moved on, leaving the pair alone.

“Are you hurt?” Heather asked, still on edge.  “Can you sit down?”

“I just got up,” he said.

“Sit down,” she barked.

He did as his older sister ordered.

“You’re bleeding from your nose,” she said.

While Heather rooted around in her satchel, he instinctively touched the blood and looked at it.  “I must have fallen from the ladder.”

“But why did you go down there?”

He thought for a moment then looked up at her.  “I’m not sure.”

“You’re not sure?” she rebuked.

“Something… something must have caught my eye.”

“But you don’t recall what that something was?”

“I don’t,” he agreed.  “But you know what’s funny?” he asked as a large group of tourists grew near, a strange smile spreading across his face.

“What could possibly be funny?” she asked mirthlessly, handing him a crumpled napkin from the bottom of her bag.

“How,” he said with a low chuckle. “How everyone is here, looking at art and trinkets like they’re in a mall or something or a museum but a river of blood once flowed here.  A river of blood, severed torsos, hacked off limbs, decapitated heads all bobbing along.  Think about it, Heather, a river of human blood.”

She stared at him, abhorred.  Disturbed comments drifted from the group of tourists now surrounding them and unlike her brother, who laughed, Heather could not be more bothered.

“What’s the matter with you?” she whispered abrasively, pulling him to his feet.

“Why it’s only history, dear sister.”

She tightened her grip on his arm and pulled him after her.  She wanted to get him out of the enclosed area, up into fresh air and maybe to a doctor to have his head examined if he kept with the strange comments.  He’d never spoken like that before.  He’d never referred to her as “dear sister.”

By the time they climbed the stairs from the Cardo Maximus to the street, Bradley insisted he was fine.  He apologized for frightening her and when she asked about the river of blood comment he explained that maybe it came from a memory of a documentary.  A documentary he watched about the crusades.  It was horrendously violent.  Once she forgave him, he expressed a desire to see more of the Old City, how he wanted to go to as many churches, synagogues and mosques as possible.  She didn’t feel like she had too much time to spare before meeting Taher but since they were already near the Damascus Gate, agreed to take him by as many holy sites as she could think of on their way back to the Jewish Quarter.  She didn’t think of him as a man interested in any religion, he didn’t even seem that keen on visiting Jerusalem when she’d first invited him to Israel.

They saw the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the al-Khanqah al-Salahiyya Mosque, the Mosque of Omar, Church of St. John the Baptist, ruins of the Nissan Beck Shul and Tzuf Dvash Synagogue before coming to a vantage point where they could stop and admire the Western Wall, Dome of the Rock and Mount of Olives.  Heather was also appreciative of a chance to rest while Bradley seemed like he could have cared less.  His feet must have not bothered him the way hers were.

“Now that you have seen Jerusalem, what do you think?”

“More,” he said softly.

“What?”

“I would like to see more.  I would like to know more.”

She looked at him dubiously.  He seemed oblivious to her stare.

“Well…” she said.  “There are a couple more synagogues we can pass by after I meet with Taher.”

“I might walk around for a bit while you’re talking with him.”

She didn’t know what to say but shook her head with an astonished smirk.  “I don’t know how you’re still standing, with the jetlag and all.  I’m acclimated and I’m exhausted.”

He relinquished a wry smile and said, “It’s a peculiar feeling, being here.  I had no idea it would affect me so strongly.”

Strangely, she thought.  That it would affect him so strangely…

 

“Taher, this is my brother,” Heather said in an effort to introduce them.  “Bradley, this is Taher, the man who can find striped hyenas anywhere.”

The tall Afghani man stood from the small table in the courtyard adjacent many eateries including the falafel place Heather had praised.  He offered Bradley a handshake but the young man was distracted.

“He’s a bit overwhelmed,” Heather explained, slightly embarrassed.

“First time in Jerusalem can be a shock,” Taher said with a shrug before sitting back down.

He took a bite of a pita stuffed with falafel, Israeli salad, chips, hummus and tahini.  Heather’s stomach growled.

“I’m going to go get one too then we can go over schematics.”

Taher gave her a thumbs-up as he chewed.  She looked to her brother who was now busy petting a Jerusalem cat but the cat didn’t seem interested in affection and hissed then ran away.

“Bradley, you want some falafel or shawarma?”

“No thank you,” he said.

“You’re not hungry?”

“I’m going to go look around.”

“Okay…” she said as he walked away.  “Don’t get lost!”

He headed off like he knew what he was doing and where he was going.

Jerusalem Syndrome Part I: A short fantasy story

He leaned on a railing and stared out over the city as the sun surmounted the horizon in golden splendor.  His eye wandered to a large building that he had only recently learned was the Knesset, the house of the Israeli parliament.  It sat like a fortress amidst a cluster of pine trees and though he had never seen it before, it felt oddly familiar.  Or maybe it was just the jetlag messing with his head.  Earlier, he had woken up at four o’clock in the morning craving a hamburger so it didn’t come as a surprise when the cheerios with which he tried to appease his appetite just didn’t cut it.

The sliding glass door opened and his sister, Heather, joined him on the balcony of the apartment they were staying at.  It belonged to her husband’s grandparents but they were back in the United States for the fall and winter seasons.

“What do you think?” she asked.

“Jetlag sucks,” he grumbled.

“Yeah, it does— But what do you think about Jerusalem?”

“Haven’t seen much of it yet.”

“True,” she said with a slight nod.

“Anywhere around here we can grab a burger or a taco?”

She laughed softly, knowing the effects of traversing time-zones all too well.  “This early, no.  Come with me to the Shuk.  The aroma of fresh pastries and Jerusalem bagels should pique even the most stubborn appetite.”

“Yeah?”

“Then we’ll head to the Old City.  I’m meeting my partner, Taher, at a really good Bukhari falafel place in the Jewish Quarter.”

“Falafel huh?”

“And shawarma, closest thing you’ll probably find to a taco in the Old City.”

He gave a wry smile.

“Don’t be so glum, it’s good, I promise.  Let’s go, it is a bit of a walk.  I hope you brought good shoes ‘cause I don’t drive here.”

They walked.  It felt like they were constantly heading uphill.  Jerusalem was in the Judean Mountains, which were forested hills with grassy meadows and rocky slopes.  This came as a slight shock.  He thought the city would be surrounded by desert; he expected sand.  He expected unforgiving heat and though the sun did loom overhead with no threat from clouds, the winds were strong and on more than one occasion swept his breath away.

He easily understood why his sister wouldn’t drive.  The roads were narrow, their origins found in pilgrimage routes, shepherd’s paths and now he traversed them, sharing in their legacy that spanned time.

The open marketplace, or the Shuk, was an intense place.  It could rival the outcry of the old stock exchange floors of New York.  Words were shouted in languages he did not understand.  Small moments of English broke through the torrents of dialect.  People hustled and bustled and he was constantly in the way, like a floundering salmon that hadn’t figured out how to move against the current.  He lost his sister in the crowd.  She was small and could slip nimbly between people.

“Bradley!”

He pivoted toward his name and found his sister holding a bag over her head in triumph.

“I’ve got the bagels!”

As he awkwardly made his way over to her, he smiled to himself.  She was right about the aroma, it was something else.  All the fresh pastries and breads stimulated his appetite.  They passed rows of fruits, bags of nuts and legumes, cheeses, halva, more pastries, more bread.  His mouth was nearly watering by the time they reached the end.

They found a place to sit and the only intrusion came from a tabby cat keenly interested in the fresh bread.  They each tore off a chunk of their bagels and threw it to the cat, which snatched the morsels up in its mouth and darted away.

“You think he has a home?” Bradley asked.

“Jerusalem,” his sister answered. “This place is his home.”

They continued on their way to the Old City.  He followed his sister in silence, she wasn’t a very good tour guide but he wasn’t a very good tourist.  He preferred to speculate, to wonder.  If he really wanted to know something, he would ask and she might have an answer.

The stones of the street and buildings were anywhere from grey to sandy or white, worn smooth from the decades, in some areas uniform, in others just the opposite.  A city built upon itself for millennia, the stones recycled from the past.  He ran a hand over the stones as he passed; they felt like a hard wax under his fingertips.

She led him along iron window shutters and doors, often brightly colored by shades of teal, green or red.  They walked in front of gates that led to hidden courtyards.  Overhead, purple flowers hung from heaps of leafy green, coming down the walls like waterfalls over outcroppings, having grown too unruly for their window box planters.  An old man sat under an archway on an old chair playing a violin, there to entertain no one but himself.  Cats crisscrossed their way and occasionally black clad Hasidic men walked by.  It would be impossible to admire it all.

The juxtaposition of a medieval looking building beside trendy boutiques and galleries made him stop and grin to himself.  He stared up at a statue of who he could only guess was the Virgin Mary in a recess over the door.  He found it funny.  Why he found it funny, he wasn’t sure.  It just was.  Maybe it was the jetlag messing with his head again.

“Bradley!” his sister called.

He jogged along the promenade to catch up to her.

“Just up these stairs,” she said.  “There will be Jaffa Gate, the Tower of David and the Old City Wall.  We’ll go to the Jewish Quarter since I need to meet Taher and come back through the Armenian Quarter, that’s a good place to buy gifts if you’d like.  Never pay full price, always haggle.  If they act offended because you refuse to pay full price, walk away.”

As he came up over the stairs the winds died down, allowing him his first view of the Old City— it took his breath away.  He stared at the magnificent ruins in awe.  The wall and towers made him think of crusader’s sagas and chivalry, a period of great struggle but it was a history he didn’t know.  His sister motioned for him to follow and he did, stepping through the gate and into the Old City.

It was crowded, not as crowded as the Shuk but still filled with people, people of every nationality it seemed.  He felt like he could walk there a hundred times and not see every detail as he would have liked but that was part of the novelty in experiencing such a place.

They walked the Cardo Maximus, the thoroughfare from the time of the Romans where pillars and ruins stood next to galleries and shops.  The covered areas were ribbed and vaulted in gothic style with modern lanterns hanging down, shedding soft light on the passengers.

While his sister examined a painting by a local artist, he wandered over to a barricaded area.  It appeared to be an archeological discovery in the making.  In great contrast to the neatness and museum-like places he had observed so far, this one looked raw.  It was gritty.  It was just being discovered.  There was no light over the site itself and he had to use what little there was from the lantern behind him.  He could make out shards of pottery, a few handles, and stones far too ancient to recycle into the city.  After staring long enough he thought he saw pieces of a skeleton amongst the rubble.  But once he blinked the bones vanished.  He glanced over his shoulder and found his sister involved in the art of haggling so he leaned on a piece of wood and looked over the site again.  He noticed a faint blue glow emanating from what might have once been a wall thousands of years ago.

The spectral glow possessed him.  It made him aware of the ladder.  It compelled him to climb over the barricade and descend.  When he disembarked the ladder and stepped onto the dry, rocky earth, he felt cold.  The light of the lantern seemed far away and the noises from the Cardo Maximus dimmed.  His breath hung in the air.  The glow came from the farthest corner and as he approached, it pulsed.  He stepped carefully, not wanting to disturb anything but the dust.  From what he could tell, the glow came from the stones themselves.  Then the light collected in one great flash, it was too bright and he closed his eyes.  A frigid sensation enveloped him, he couldn’t breathe and he felt his heart stop.