Alessandro gulped as he watched an agonized man pass with a cross hefted on his shoulder. He tugged at his slave collar and waited patiently for the procession to pass. Golgotha was close enough that he could see the crosses already erected and two men hanging in desperate misery. Alessandro closed his eyes and prayed they would die quickly.
Someone jostled his arm, and he glanced up. A woman had run from the crowd and wiped the condemned man’s face with her veil. She sobbed as she worked. Alessandro gasped. He has seen this man, this condemned criminal, before.
The memory hit him like a boulder to the chest. He could smell the incense and hear the wailing of the poor widow as she took her son’s body to his burial place. Then this same man stepped forward. A few gentle words—and a miracle. The son was alive again. Grief was reborn into perfect joy. Alessandro had relived that moment every day since it had happened.
Now Alessandro watched, stunned, as the crowd followed the procession up the hill. He turned away—he had an errand to run for his master. As he stepped into the narrow, winding street, he looked back and choked. A slave from his youth, taken on a warm, spring day from his home and his family—this was his life.
When Jesus rose on the cross, he stared upon death, his eyes dry.
Months later, just when Alessandro finally thought he had put the haunting memory from his mind, he stepped into his master’s quarters and froze.
As a Roman citizen of high standing, Felix rarely lost his composure. Today, he stood hunched over his table sobbing like a child. After a moment, the elderly statesman dabbed at his eyes and glanced about.
Alessandro stood in the doorway in perfect obedience. To his confusion, his master smiled and waved him forward.
“Come—don’t be afraid.”
With firm steps, Alessandro crossed the room, his eyes fixed on his master’s face.
Felix sat on the edge of the table, his hands clasped before him. “It is not often that I lose control—but I just received a shock.”
Alessandro’s collar itched, but he dared not lift a finger.
Felix leaned in and peered into the youth’s eyes. “You see, I heard a man preaching in the street today—a Galilean named Peter. He told a marvelous tale—about a man named Jesus of Nazareth rising from the dead. Peter even healed a cripple in Jesus’ name.” His gaze wandered to the window. “Many have come to believe.”
Alessandro’s mouth had gone dry as sand.
“I saw Jesus of Nazareth once. Heard all about his miracles. I believed he was—from God.”
Alessandro’s eyes widened.
“But business pressed, and I did nothing about it. I put him out of my mind.” Felix crossed to the window and gazed over the distant hills. “I did not crucify him.” Tears started in the old Roman’s eyes. “I ignored him.” Clenching his hands together, Felix stepped over to Alessandro, pleading. “God’s son, they say—walked among us—and I—did nothing.”
Alessandro swallowed. “Even God would not condemn a man for attending to his own business.” His hands trembled at his side.
Felix’s wan smile chased his grief away. He patted Athe youth on the arm. “You were a worthy investment—I knew that when I first saw you as a boy.” Felix returned to the window. “No, I do not feel condemned. I feel—lost.”
Shaking his head and squaring his shoulders, Felix returned to business. “I have a message you must take.” He pinched a small parchment off his table and handed it to his slave.
After bowing, Allesandro turned to leave.
Felix called out. “One more question—I know you can’t answer—but I feel it must be asked.”
Alessandro paused, suddenly afraid.
“Will God—ever come again?”
Walking along the narrow street, Alessandro knew—that question would ring in his ears to the end of his days.
A sunbeam slanted across a quiet hillside where a gentle slope led to a grassy expanse, a world of Hyssop, Daffodils, Lupine, Iris and buzzing insects.
In a blink of light, two figures appeared. One grandfather figure with grey hair and a slight stoop nodded, beaming at a young man with golden brown hair, brilliant blue eyes, and the physique of a young Adonis. They were both dressed in the simple garments of common shepherds.
“Very good, Cerulean! You maintained your shape perfectly! It’s not every Luxonian who can travel as an alien species and keep their proper form. You look every inch the human boy—a little too perfect maybe—but we can adjust that. Remember, humans become either enamored or jealous at the sight of physical perfection.”
The youth nodded even while his gaze traveled the parameter of their setting. “We’re safe here?”
“Of course. I’ve had eons of experience at this sort of thing. Nothing to be afraid of.”
Cerulean clasped his hands together and waited.
A few scattered sheep crested one of the far hills. Cerulean’s eyes widened.
The old man hefted a shepherd’s staff and nudged the boy along. “Now remember, just act natural—like you have your own business to attend to and no one will bother you.”
A shepherd appeared at the top of a distant hill. He peered at them and waved.
Cerulean glanced at his father. “Teal? I believe that man is trying to get our attention.”
“Just keep walking—he’ll ignore us if we go away.”
Cerulean padded across the grassy pastureland, his gaze wandering back to the man on the hill.
Teal prodded the boy in the shoulders. “Don’t look. Never engage in eye contact unless you want to meet someone—which you never will. You’re just here to observe, take careful note of everything significant, and inform the Supreme Council of your findings when you return to Lux.”
Cerulean snuck another glance, but, as his father had predicted, the man had returned to the care of his sheep. He sighed. “We could have gone anywhere on the planet; why—?”
Teal yelped and gripped his son’s shoulder. “Stop a moment. I’ve got something caught between my toes. Panting, he cleared his foot of a trailing weed and then pointed to the blue sky. “Do you remember the story I told you and your mother about the miracle healer, heralded by the magnificent star at his birth? It was noted by every intelligent species this side of the Divide.”
Rubbing his forehead, Cerulean frowned. “As I remember, the man was murdered—by his own people.”
“True, but that wasn’t the end of the story. The people in these lands believed that he rose again and lived on in a new form.” Teal’s gaze scanned the cloudless sky. “I’ve been waiting for him to return.”
“You think he will?”
Teal sighed. “Three generations have passed. I have little hope left. But they say that he lives in the hearts of believers. I have even heard that he comes as food for—”
“Food?” Cerulean’s eyebrows rose.
“Not in human form—but as bread.” Teal shrugged. “It’s hard to explain.”
“Despite your official reports, humans sound rather barbaric.”
Teal chuckled. “Beware, humans grow on you. They’re surprising—they have unexpected strength, and they believe in miracles.”
Cerulean glanced at the crest of the hill where the shepherd reappeared with a young boy at his side. “I wonder what they believe.”
“You will be a guardian soon enough, and experience is the greatest teacher. Just remember—” He nudged his son forward.
Cerulean plodded along, his gaze focused on the crest of another hill. “What?”
“They might be right.”
Novels by A. K. Frailey
Last of Her Kind http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg
Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN
Melchior—Vengeance Is Mine http://amzn.to/2taeW2r
Coming in 2018…
OldEarth ARAM Encounter (In production)
OldEarth Ishtar Encounter (In production)
OldEarth Neb Encounter (In production)
OldEarth Georgios Encounter (In production)
The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5
The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings http://amzn.to/2lWBd00