After sundown, the high priests and Pharisees arranged a meeting with Pilate. They said, “Sir, we just remembered that that liar [Jesus] announced while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will be raised.’ We’ve got to get that tomb sealed until the third day. There’s a good chance his disciples will come and steal the corpse and then go around saying, ‘He’s risen from the dead.’ Then we’ll be worse off than before, the final deceit surpassing the first.”
Matthew 27:62-64 (context)
[To be inserted in Supernatural Novel: Day 5, Sherborne Journal, at the end of the January 3, 18XX+1 entry:]
One strange incident remains for me to report, an encounter near Cairo that puzzles me but has, at least, rescued me from even greater disaster. Upon arriving in the more populated – I can hardly say ‘civilized’ – portions of Egypt, I immediately found my appearance drew unwanted attention to my person and most of all to my small treasure trove. By way of disguise, I obtained a donkey, the most obstinate and intractable beast I have ever had the displeasure of encountering, and donned local-style clothing appropriate to my station. During this transaction, I initially contracted with a man who called himself only Jamaal and who promised to return to my camp within a day bearing all I needed.
Yet when he turned to leave, I caught his eye and experienced an almost overwhelming sense of malevolence tempered with greed as well as some type of extreme danger to my person, although nothing in the man’s manner had indicated such inclinations. However, I decided to recall him and find another provisioner. When I called out, he turned quickly as a cobra, thrusting at my abdomen with a wickedly sharp desert man’s knife. Having been forewarned by my surprising premonition, I had my pistol ready and – thank God the powder remained dry – shot him dead.
When I found another man to provide for my needs, I mentioned the encounter with the alleged Jamaal. The new man, Hassam, upon seeing the body, exclaimed that this Jamaal was in fact the much-sought leader of a band of thieves who frequented this stretch of road. According to Hassam, I am fortunate to have survived the encounter, and owe my life to the strange prescience that seemed to tell me to distrust the seemingly innocent man. I cannot explain the intuition, but thank Providence that I received the message at that moment. If not, all my struggles and suffering would have ended in vain, my family’s treasure in a brigand’s pocket, and my dear Charlotte always wondering at the fate of her husband.
— February, 18XX —
February 1, 18XX+1
My journey is almost at its end. In another day, I shall pass through the old, familiar wrought iron gates with their granite gateposts and guardian lions and at last return to the home of my heart, the hereditary Sherborne estate, for which I have braved all the flames and sulfurous stink of Hades. And yet, although my heart rejoices at this reunion, still the curse of my illness and the vast fortune of treasure I was obliged to abandon continue to abrade my otherwise complete happiness. The knowledge of the necessity of my eventual return to that hellish place and the periodic suffering inflicted monthly cannot but force any man to question the ultimate success of my adventures.
I shall not, however, dwell on the unhappy necessities that cloud the distant future. Even now I travel the last miles in this carriage, drawing near Charlotte and all I hold dear. I only pray that, even in my illness, I may not fail the sacred trust placed in me to safeguard my family name and beloved wife.
February 2, 18XX+1
Words cannot express the joy in my reunion with darling Charlotte, nor her delight in at last having her husband safe in her embrace. I need not detail our meeting, for any who has parted with a loved one has felt the elation of coming together once again. Though I had sent letters ahead informing Charlotte of my imminent return, she hardly hoped that I would indeed arrive before spring. Thus my midday arrival this day brought a double dose of wonder and jubilation from my long-suffering wife. Indeed, our servants could hardly separate her from my arm long enough to wash the dust of travel from my person or dress me as befits a nobleman.
My travel clothes have been burned, for I could not abide even the thought of them; all save the few exotic gifts I obtained for Charlotte in far Egypt. I have not yet spoken of my affliction, but she has a keen intuition that leads her to lovingly express concern that not all is as it appears. My new prescience seems tells me that Charlotte, although delighted with my arrival, also already has determined that I have outstanding concerns weighing heavily on me. Although one day I may confess the full truth of my expedition, I cannot but wonder if a woman of Charlotte’s delicate disposition is strong enough to receive such news. I must consider the kindest way to share my unfortunate condition and partial success with my wife, or whether to even share such harsh realities with her.
For this night, I shall not tarnish the celebration with ill tidings. Let this one evening, at least, remain a bright and glittering diamond in the rough darkness of the last year, and I shall entrust God in His wisdom to bring the correct course to my mind. The coming weeks shall see the restoration of my family and, perhaps, even the growth of the Sherborne clan should God grant my long-hoped for prayer to bless Charlotte and myself with a son. A gentleman of good conscience could hardly sire a child with our previous family resources, but with the small fortune I obtained and the much larger fortune still waiting, untouched, in the jungle, I believe that our efforts to expand the family may proceed at last.
February 15, 18XX+1
I can no longer put off confessing my brains – malady, that is – to my wife. I feel the inhuman urges increasing in strength and duration, and must being considering confining myself or risk all I hold dear. Though she has not yet spoken, my wife has patiently waited for me to share the full truth of my adventures, of which I have only lightly alluded. This document remains locked within the hidden compartment in my desk, for I cannot imagine the impact on my dove should she read of my horrific delight in brains. Brains…so delicious…so sweet…
No! Not yet. Clearly I must speak to her, for with every passing brain, I feel the obsession with warm, sweet, salty brains becoming increasingly overwhelming.
February 23, 18XX+1
Terrible news: Charlotte, my beloved, kind, caring wife, has slipped into a deep coma. She was unconscious when I emerged from my quarantine (thank God, no casualties, although I fear I have forever put myself in the servants’ debt) and now, two days later, remains unresponsive. Nary a breath frosts a glass held above her pale lips, and I would fear her dead, save for my terrible experience. Now, though, I fear worse than death: I fear that my malady has somehow transmitted itself from me into her. If my fears prove true, I will never forgive myself. How could I turn a dear, sweet, Christian woman into a mindless, slobbering monster? Oh, God, what have I done? I should never have returned, never ha
ve survived, should have expired in the jungle and never brought this scourge upon my wife if I had known. I would gladly have died rather than infect any other human being, even my most loathed enemy, with this curse.
The servants believed her to have expired in her sleep after contracting some small infection, and only retained her body for my inspection prior to disposing of it. Thank God they spoke of her apparent passing to nobody, for I was able to assure them that I had seen such symptoms in my travels, and that she would recover.
I cannot begin to imagine how this family shall maintain its façade of normalcy should my wife and I both periodically slip into mindless madness. The servants will have to be sworn to secrecy, and I suppose that means increased pay as well. Despite the evil of this curse, I find myself already calculating methods for surviving and even recovering greater prestige for our family. Truly, no great plan presents itself yet, but I trust that God in His infinite mercy has not yet wholly abandoned the Sherborne family to the vicissitudes of fate.
— September 1, 2009 —
The door popped open before Tristan’s hand even touched the knob, revealing Lottie’s eager face. “So? How’d it go? Did you kiss her good night?”
Shouldering his way into the cluttered entryway, Tristan deigned only to give his sister a dirty look. His backpack hit the battered kitchen with a resounding thunk. “I still have a ton to do, so how ’bout if you leave me alone and let me get some homework done? Mom—”
“How ’bout if I tell you we had Caitlyn over for dinner and all she did was look around for you and ask where you were?” Lottie plopped down across from Tristan, nudging Max’s homework aside.
“—is any dinner left?” Ignoring Lottie’s interjection, Tristan focused on the essentials. He didn’t care what Caitlyn thought about him; he’d never be able to consider a boring old next-door neighbor when he had a goddess like Kim in his life. No need to mention it was purely a business relationship at this point.
Mom stood at the sink washing dishes and turned to glance at Tristan. “Pasta, and yes, there’s a plate in the fridge.”
“No brains?” Tristan glanced at Lottie. Maybe she’d forgotten about his promise to give her his next serving of brains in return for his silence.
Now Mom turned around to look at Tristan fully, soapy water dripping from her hands onto the ragged linoleum kitchen floor. “No, and by the way, where on earth have you been? Lottie said something about a girl…”
Lottie received another dirty look from her brother for that, but she blithely ignored it, happily puttering away at her own homework with ears pricked.
“I was helping a girl with Spanish. We met at the Starbucks by campus. I was just tutoring her, and I might do it again. I think she found me helpful.” Mom raised her eyebrows.
“Yes, just tutoring.” Shoving aside a twinge of conscience that said he hoped it would develop into something more, Tristan repeated, “Just tutoring.”
Mom crossed her arms and soapy water began dripping down her apron. “I can tell that’s not all, but I’ll leave it to your father. It’s time you had a talk anyway.” Mom plunked the reheated pasta down in front of Tristan. “We’re trying to help you stay out of trouble, you know. It’s high time Dad talked with you about some serious things about our condition.”
Alarmed, Tristan glanced at Lottie, who shook her head. She didn’t know anything about some talk, either.
“I didn’t do anything, Mom, I promise.” He picked up his fork. More pasta, but who was he to complain? At least he hadn’t had to help make it or clean up afterwards. This talk with Dad sounded serious, but Dad worked late some weeknights, so Tristan had a reprieve. He pulled his History book from his backpack and heaved it onto the table, propping it against a pile of bills and one of Julie’s textbooks. Maybe the talk would get him out of the nightly chess game… although Tristan didn’t know which sounded worse.