It was a quarter past seven when Uriah found himself in front of a small cottage which was surrounded by an alley of linden trees. A patch of neatly mown grass stretched up to the pavement where an old car slept motionless. Built of red brick, the cottage had a dwarfish appearance, although its roof was tall and pointed. There, Uriah Reed’s old friend, Mr. Gabriel Archer, another librarian of Ex Libris from the meta-narrative department, and noble comrade of his bachelorhood circle, lived alone with only an old aunt who attended to his needs. Hoping not to come across Mr. Archer’s aunt, Uriah rang the doorbell with fury and impatience. The sound of the bell pierced the silence of the morning, and as if an ominous bird had landed upon the roof of the house, Mr. Gabriel Archer’s dwelling seemed to have shaken from slumber.
Steps were heard scurrying for the door, and a moment later the knob of the handle was moved from the inside. Soon afterwards Mr. Archer’s face peered into the dim morning light, his eyes squinting at his friend. He was still sleepy and grumpy for having been woken up from bed, and his disheveled red hair made him look like a human torch ready to burn whoever was standing in his way. Of course, Mr. Archer was really a decent man and Uriah’s best friend, and thus he only mumbled a “What the hack are you doing here” welcome. Uriah didn’t answer but his face was all aglow. Mr. Archer kept frowning and he pulled tight the dressing gown around his plump body. Outside it felt chilly and he was dressed in a thin velvet gown, and in his bare feet he wore slippers. His wrinkled face didn’t cease scowling at Uriah, obviously not so pleased by a so early social call. He was Uriah’s senior, and being 12 years older, Mr. Gabriel Archer often treated his friend as if the latter were an inexperienced child who needed to be taught proper manners and thus, reminded of a man’s natural common sense. Nevertheless, he was very fond of his friend, and he was always glad to have him around for a brief philosophical chat. Of course, provided it wasn’t very early in the morning.
Uriah Reed understood his friend’s feelings which were so obviously displayed in his morose countenance. But the sulky attitude of Mr. Archer didn’t seem to deter Uriah, who without waiting to be invited in stepped across the threshold, almost pushing his way with his elbow since Gabriel was blocking the way. Mr. Archer blinked surprised by the audacity of Uriah. Gaping, with his jaws dropped, Gabriel Archer remained rooted on the threshold, his eyes frantically staring at the tall silhouette of the man he thought he knew. He was so amazed to witness that odd attitude, and moreover he was violently shaken by the feverish ‘Eureka’ yelled in his ear by his impetuous friend.
“I have found it, Gabriel! I have found what others have been searching for centuries. The place where the Garden of Eden is located, and there my friend lays buried the truth of all religions. It is the starting point of mankind, Gabriel, the dividing line between reality, as it used to be in its raw and primitive form, and myth. My friend, I feel that my heart is about to explode… Do you realize what this fact really means? And imagine that it has been all the time before my very nose, defying me with its elusiveness and ethereal substance.”
Flabbergasted, Mr. Archer’s jaw dropped lower than it could be possible and his eyes almost popped out of their orbits. Indeed, it was not the speech one would expect to hear from a cultivated and rational man as Mr. Archer always considered Uriah to be. The Garden of Eden… What is he talking about? Mr. Archer looked at his friend without comprehending the latter’s gibberish about mankind, Eden, truth and myth. There was too much for his brain to handle at once. Nevertheless, Gabriel allowed himself to be carried away by the spell of the words. Every syllable, every letter struck his understanding, calling from far away, like sonorous mermaids perched upon a rock of an insurmountable height. Undoubtedly, Uriah’s words had woken in Gabriel Archer a feeling of mystery and unknown. The syllables were coming out of his friend’s mouth, but the lips seemed to play a game of mime, and yet the sounds were audible, vivid, and clear. And still Gabriel couldn’t understand, couldn’t grasp the full meaning. It was English Uriah was speaking in, but then it was not. It was a language one only hears in a lunatic asylum.Slowly, the thought of his friend having lost his mind passed through his brain like a bullet shot by an invisible rifle. Anyone, in Gabriel Archer’s place, would have thought the same just by watching Uriah performing strange antics of words and thoughts, mingling reason with impossible fancies as if he were in the arena with the devil himself. He was waving his hands, raising them to the ceiling, gnashed his teeth in a mad grimace; then he would saunter about in an uncontrollable manner.
“I can save mankind”, he kept repeating. “I can rejuvenate the universe. Do you understand?”
“What ails you, my friend?” Mr. Archer inquired when he found himself able to talk, and his voice quavered with pity. He was getting more and more concerned about the sanity of his agitated acquaintance.
Uriah’s eyes bulged and almost popped out of their orbits.
“What ails me? Good gracious, man! I can’t believe my ears. I am telling you that something extraordinary has just happened and you mention affliction. I have discovered the cradle of God and the spring of immortality, and you look upon me as if I were on my deathbed. Seriously, my friend, it is you who is afflicted by all these ignoramuses who have been forcing their sermons down your neck. But I am not blaming you entirely. I have had my share of doubts. It’s the damn century we’re living in that keeps chocking us with bare facts. Listen, Gabriel, you have been living in a reality that I have always considered to be a complete and utter fallacy. I have always said it has to be more than this. Man is not born only for misery and suffering, he is also destined to achieve greatness. The Garden of Eden has truly existed. Not in Heaven, but on Earth is where it is located. Or was…It matters not. What is really important is to decide whether God created Eden, or man himself in his primitive religious zeal tried to build a utopia that would separate man from beast. But I doubt Eden is just a figment of the imagination and I will prove it once I am there. I have to identity the object or animal that is the Vessel…”
“The Vessel?” mumbled Gabriel, at a loss of what else to say or understand from all these. “What do you mean by ‘vessel’?” ”Are you referring to the Holy Grail?” “Of course not… The Holy Grail did not exist in the Garden of Eden. I am talking about something else, something much more important than a wine goblet. The Vessel is the object or animal, it could even be a plant for all I know or a tree, where God has placed His soul. You see it is a kind of Horcrux but in a positive sense.”
“God’s soul?!... Horcrux?!... What are you talking about?”
“It is all written in my father’s manuscript. When God created this world, He had to make a sacrifice or otherwise He would have failed in His attempt. He had to sacrifice a part of His soul and place it inside this world so that mankind would spring out of a heavenly source, protected by the divine blessing. Without a part of God’s soul, creation wouldn’t have been possible, and life on earth couldn’t have been sustained. Now, after God separated a part of His own soul, He had to choose wisely who or which might prove the best vessel.”
“Do you mean Adam? The Bible does say that man was made in God’s image.”
“Sincerely, I doubt it was Adam, and do you know why? He ate from the forbidden fruit which he wouldn’t have done had he been God’s vessel. Once you become a Vessel, you see clearly what hides behind the games of deception, whereas Adam blindly followed Eve. No, the Vessel must have been something else.”
“What about the apple?”
“You know, the forbidden fruit, the fruit of knowledge, the reason Adam and Eve were kicked out of Heaven…”
“It couldn’t have been the apple. The serpent tried to make Adam and Eve feed themselves with it. He wouldn’t have done that had the apple been the Vessel. The serpent would have tried to eat the apple himself and thus destroy the essence of the Vessel.”
“Maybe he couldn’t eat from the tree of knowledge. I am sure God had that place protected against evil.”
“You are wrong, my friend. Evil cannot be uprooted from its positive opposite. They simply coexist. I am sure that the serpent could have harmed the Vessel if it would have been the fruit of knowledge. No, the Vessel must have been of a different nature. Like I’ve said, it’s a kind of Horcrux. Do you know what a Horcrux is? It is an object where an evil creature hides a bit of its soul in order to attain immortality. Well, in our case God was already immortal and indestructible, so He only wanted His creation to last long.”
“And God wasn’t evil.”
“He sure wasn’t. However, His Vessel is the opposite pair of the Horcrux. My father called this type of Horcrux, the Vessel, only that he was at a loss at finding out what and where the Vessel is. And that is precisely what I intend to do, my friend, I’ll locate the Vessel and then summon God.”
“What? Are you insane?” Mr. Gabriel Archer was almost shouting now.
“Calm, yourself, my friend! I am neither insane, nor playing pranks. I just want to get to the bottom of all these and complete my father’s life work. Don’t you realize? My father had sensed that the Vessel’s cycle was coming to an end, and he tried to prepare me for the quest. Only that I refused to understand. I am not repeating the same mistake, Archer, not with the expense of all the people and of this beautiful world.”
“Hey, let’s pretend, and I strictly outline ‘pretend’, let’s pretend that you’re making sense, which I am not implying that you truly are. It’s just pretending, got me?” Uriah nodded with a look of exasperation on his face.
“Let’s pretend”, Gabriel went on, “that you are right. Then, why do you have to summon God? Wouldn’t it be a sin? Can’t you just become a Vessel and not upset God?”
“No, it would be my duty to both my father and God. I want my Creator to witness the beauty of His creation in all the glory of survival. It is fascinating, don’t you agree with me? It is fascinating to embrace death and then to be reborn as a new being.”
“You are frightening me, Uriah. You really are. Can’t you let the Vessel do his job, or whatever he’s doing, and go on with your own life?”
“I am afraid that it is simply impossible. You see, the Vessel has been having God’s essence for a long time. It is overwhelming and consuming. It will end up by self-destroying itself, and once God’s soul unleashed, the powers of evil will sense it. The darkness will try to take over and possess the soul and that would be the end of our world, and God’s creation would perish.”
“But isn’t God the All Mighty one? Couldn’t He put the soul into a new Vessel? Maybe, He already did that. Maybe your sacrifice is not needed anymore.”
“No, you are wrong. After He had completed the sacrifice and renounced to a part of His Soul, He has no longer any claim on the part of His soul He has offered in exchanged for His creation to be possible. There is only one way to save the situation. I need to identify the Vessel before it destroys itself and plead with it to pass the burden unto me.”
“And how are you going to convince the Vessel?” “By proving myself worthy of its trust. I am sure the Vessel will know whether I am fit for the task or not.
But I have to get there before evil finds it.”
“When you are talking about evil, do you refer
“To Satan? Yes, he is the darkness which clogs this world, and silently awaits to have his revenge and destroy God’s creation.”
Mr. Gabriel Archer stared wildly at his friend, finding hard to believe all that he had heard.
“How do you know all these things? What if your father was mistaken?”
“I have thought the same, until recently. I know you find it hard to believe, but trust me, my father was not mistaken. He was a visionary.”
“His visions might not have been accurate. No man holds the ultimate truth, Uriah. I thought you already knew that. It pains me to see that I was mistaken.”
“Archer, my father’s vision never failed him. Pay close attention to what I’m going to say. I am about to confess to you something my family had been keeping secret for generations. You are not to confide the information to none, do you understand?”
“More secrets?! Uriah, seriously, I am sick and tired. It’s early in the morning. I have been unexpectedly woken up from my sleep. I haven’t even managed to take a shower or to have breakfast. Seriously, have you lost your mind?”
“Gabriel Archer, we’ve known each other for so long. Can’t you tell by now that it is a question of life and death?”
“For Heaven’s sake, Uriah, stop fooling around.” “I am not”, yelled Uriah. “For Heaven’s sake, I am telling the truth. Can you at least try to hear me out?
Please, as a friend.”
“Y..Y…Ye..s…”poor Gabriel Archer mumbled.
“Fine, thank you.” The sarcasm had filled his voice, but then he went on in a more passionate and exalted manner.
“This is a secret that has been passed down from generation to generation, from father to son. We are the descendants of The Wooden Cross, an ancient religious order that has existed for centuries, since Christ’s crucifixion. Every man in my family has studied the mysterious laws of the universe, in the hope of finding the Vessel of whom even Christ had often spoke. But Christ had never clearly stated who or what the Vessel might be. So, it’s up to us to guess. My father tried to initiate me into the order’s wisdom. That is why every man in my family has been a librarian; that is why I ended up being a librarian. We are the guardians of knowledge, because we have been invested with the powers of deciphering the word’s hidden meanings. Of course, I didn’t view my career from this angle. Despite all my father’s sermons of me being his truthful descendant, I rejected his teachings, thinking that my father was mad when he had been right all the time. I was so wrong and blind, but now the blindfolds have fallen. I know now for sure… When I think there are people who doubt everything, I feel like laughing in their faces. The Garden of Eden exists, opening for us the gates of immortality. Do not understand it in the literary sense of one individual living forever, but in the collective sense of the entire mankind. Even nature changes its face from season to season. Perhaps we need only to acknowledge the fact that mankind being a part of nature can never perish. It always regenerates. And I am right, aren’t I? The world hasn’t been made in six days only to end in the seventh. It is all about death and rebirth. But when we stepped outside the Garden, after God had banished Adam and Eve, and forced us into exile; we forgot completely the way back. Still, the process of forgetting couldn’t have been easy, and sometimes flashes of memory return to haunt the mind of man. Sadly, man refuses to see. Locked behind scientific explanations, he refuses to acknowledge his origins. But my father had never been a man who would erase a thought if science contradicted its validity; and thanks to my father and to others like him, I could come up today with the solution.”
The situation was getting more and more serious and Mr. Gabriel Archer liked it less and less. He didn’t know how he should react, how Uriah would expect him to react. They have been friends for so many years, and friends are expected to help each other. But how, can he, Gabriel Archer, be of any use? He felt weak and feeble, like an old man whose impotency and lack of vitally leave him helpless. Moreover, Mr. Archer wasn’t even sure of his own faculties. What if his own mind is playing him tricks? What would happen if he closed his eyes? Would Uriah disappear? But no, Uriah did come and he did say those words.
“But you will get to be immortal once you become the Vessel, won’t you? Isn’t it all in your benefit or for your own personal glory?”
Uriah sadly shook his head.
“Once I am the Vessel, I cease to exist. God’s soul, even if it is a tiny part, is much too powerful for anything in this world to contain. Gabriel, in order to become the Vessel, I have to die. This is the sacrifice I am willing to pay.”
“But if you die, then all it would be in vain, no?” “I will not physically die, but I’ll no longer be
Uriah. Even if I will have the memories of my life and of the people I used to know, I will also remember the collective history of all mankind. Don’t you understand, Gabriel? The real Uriah will be sucked up inside of me, while I’ll become a vessel, a cold and impartial vessel, filled with God’s essence.”
“What sorcery has possessed you, Uriah, my friend? It pains me to see you like this.” said Mr. Archer in awe, frightened by the man who was standing in front of him, talking so strangely about being God’s vessel and fighting the Prince of Darkness.
Uriah frowned and nervously clenched his fists. It was true that he hadn’t expected Gabriel to embrace enthusiastically his theories, but neither had been prepared for the scrutinizing gaze inside which curiosity was mingled with fear.
“The sorcery of TRUTH, or at least the possibility of learning the truth about God and His presence in this world has possessed me,” roared Uriah into Gabriel’s ear. “And if you were really my friend, you would never question my senses.I am not asking to jump headlong with me. I am only asking you to trust me and to admit the possibility of me being right.”
The words exploded and hit the understanding of Gabriel Archer. Astounded and silenced, he leaned against the wall not knowing what to do next. Sweat was draining down his spine. It was a cold sweat, freezing his flesh, and paralyzing his faculties. He felt like a calf goaded to the sacrificial place. His eyes were blankly fixed on Uriah, failing to see him as a friend. Gabriel had never been more afraid of Uriah than he was now.
Tired of seeing Gabriel prostrated like a shot giant bird, and losing his patience, Uriah walked straight to the living-room, shouting at his friend to follow him.
Mr. Archer did not dare to contradict him. He tittered and stepped slowly, one foot at a time as if he was now learning how to walk. The living-room was in fact a small room with only a sofa and a library, but Uriah entered reverently as if he had stepped into a room where all the population of the world had gathered to listen to what he was going to unravel. Presently, there was no one in the house except Gabriel, the aunt having gone to pay a visit to a distant relative and she was due to return in a week’s time. So the two friends’ secrets were safe within the walls of that room. Had Gabriel’s aunt been present, it wouldn’t have mattered for Uriah who was ready to hurl his discovery into everybody’s face, but to Gabriel it would have been an embarrassing thing. He would have had to find excuses for Uriah and stop his aunt from spreading the gossip to their neighbours.
Mr. Archer followed him obediently from behind, still poring over that strange situation. Draggling his slippers, he covered in the back of his determined friend. Although a tall man, Uriah appeared gigantic in the light of the electric bulb. Gabriel was not as tall as Uriah, but right then he felt like a midget, a tiny ant at the foot of a menacing predator. Prostrated, Gabriel watched his friend moving towards the curtains. Uriah pulled them up, allowing the light of that October morning to fill the room. Soon the floor was bathed in showers of raw sunrays. Forgetting all about Gabriel, Uriah looked out of the window. Clouds of a pearly colour were running in a hurry on the silvery sky, and early passers-by had begun to appear, which only meant that London was waking up to life in that part of the neighbourhood too. Nobody saw the spectator and nobody felt the scrutinizing gaze. As he stood there at the window, he felt so far away, so distant, and untouchable. Endless miles were separating him from his fellow creatures, and he loathed this division. He would have wanted to hurl into their faces the truth about their existence, and to make them aware of something greater and more meaningful than day to day life. Perhaps, they would have called him a liar and a false prophet, but he never wanted to be a prophet or a vessel. Like them, he was feeling lonely, devoid of divinity, and like them he needed the patriarchal figure of a loving and caring God. Like them, he was longing for company, and unlike them, he was ready to search every nook and corner for the lost Father. Disgusted by the human spectacle, Uriah turned his face from the outside world; then gravely, he stood again face to face with Mr. Archer. Uriah noticed that his friend’s complexion had lost all its colours, presenting before the eyes the cadaveric paleness of a corpse. Mr. Gabriel Archer was more astonished than ever, and quite eager to get to the bottom of the whole thing, and to release himself from Uriah’s ominous presence.
“Look, Gabriel!” Uriah’s voice was calmer than ever. He had opened his leather suitcase. It was then that Gabriel noticed that his friend was holding something in his hands. For a moment, Gabriel Archer feared the dreadful thing that Uriah might pull out from inside. It was a childish fear, but Gabriel acknowledged that that day had not quite begun in an ordinary fashion. So Gabriel’s eyes glued themselves to the leather suitcase. It ceased to be a simple object. It was the representation of the Pandora’s Box. His friend had been carrying it all along, but only then its presence impressed itself upon everything. Uriah opened it and pulled out to light a manuscript. It appeared to be old and tattered at the edges. Gabriel’s curiosity was greater than ever. He carefully observed each movement made by Uriah. The latter, after having taken the manuscript from the suitcase, advanced towards him. He only made a few steps, but Gabriel drew back, leaning against the wall which had arrested his movements.
“It won’t hurt you just to look at it, Gabriel. Trust me, you’ll survive and live to tell your children and grandchildren about this day.”
Uriah was getting closer, and Gabriel heard the echo of the solid soles resounding through the heavy Turkish carpet, until the sound of the steps drowned as it hit the floor. Their eyes met and Gabriel felt the burning sensation of a piercing and unyielding gaze. There was silence between them, and benumbed questions and answers floated in the air like leaves fallen from the Tree of Heaven. And when Uriah opened the manuscript before Gabriel, the rapture increased. The latter’s eyes fell on a weird drawing. Unable to resist, Gabriel bent over and adjusted his glasses. He wanted to see everything clearly and fix the scene in his memory. The drawing presented before the eyes of the beholder the sandy landscape of a desert. In the middle of that bareness, there was a dot of black colour trapped in the center of a red fiery triangle. The triangle itself was drawn inside a yellow square which was also encapsulated by a huge blue pentagram. At the top of the pentagram it was a serpent curled up like an arrow pointing north while at the bottom there was a wavering line.
“Last night, I found a book written by an unknown scholar, John Gos”, Uriah was almost shouting with excitement in Mr. Archer’s ear. “Have you heard about him?”
Gabriel shook his head.
“Neither have I”, Uriah confessed. “I do not know for how long it has been lying unnoticed on the shelf for I do not remember when it was brought into the library. And this, my good chum, is already a strange thing in itself. I know every corridor, every hall, even every speck of dust that is left by the clumsy hands of the charwoman. The library in its entirety is like a picture whose distinguishable traits I have memorized by heart. Ever since I was a little boy, I was fascinated by the mysterious world of fiction. I used to accompany my father at work, and my playground had been the silent halls and the aisles between shelves where I wandered and wandered, like Peter Pan in Neverland which is the metaphorical version of No man’s land... I have read every book, and I can tell the location of every literary item from miles. Blindfolded, in shackles, or without my senses, and I can still find any volume a reader may desire. I am a hound, my friend, a book hound. I know my books by smell, I have read them all, I have studied them all, and I have attended to each and every one of them with the love of a father for his children. So imagine my surprise to acknowledge the fact that I had failed to do my duty properly, since only a night before our present conversation, I came across a new book, one I hadn’t yet read. I couldn’t be more puzzled than I was the moment when I found this urchin of paper that I had neglected to fondle and caress. Well, better said, it was the book that found me, Gabriel; for if it hadn’t slipped from the upper shelf that contained it, probably I wouldn’t have laid my eyes on it. My dear Gabriel, can’t you see? I was all alone in the reading room of the Ancient Literature’s section. Not even a gust of wind could have caused the book to fall because the windows had been closed. I know that for sure because I have checked the windows. They were fast closed. Still, the book did fall and I was there to pick it up. Do you understand now? I was destined to find it. Someone, for all I know it might have been God Himself, has directed my steps towards it, sensing the time has come for a new Vessel. And I am the last of the Order of The Wooden Cross as I have no child to pass on the legacy. I lifted the book from the floor and took it in my hands with piety and sat at my desk to read it. I couldn’t do otherwise.And, Gabriel, it indeed felt as if a mysterious power had led me to that book. I found printed on a page the same drawing you are now looking at. It is the duplicate of the drawing my father made on the sheet of paper I am holding in my hand. Perhaps, my father copied the book and the manuscript is the real duplicate. I cannot know for sure and all my thoughts are reeling. But, unlike the manuscript which doesn’t offer any explanation, the book explains it all.”
Still holding the drawing with one hand, Uriah felt his pockets with the other free hand, and quickly he pulled out a piece of paper. There he had all the details written down.
“The black dot,” he began to explain, “represents the world and all the forces of life that lie at its core. Like an eddy springing from the unknown depths of the earth, the world springs from God. And if you look closely, the tiny dot has a luminous nucleus. There, in a perfect circle of light and darkness, lies hidden the part of God’s soul, and what you are taking now for a simple black dot it’s in fact the Vessel. It is black because it resides in this world, susceptible to both good and evil forces. Still, evil cannot touch it, since the dot has been enclosed inside a fiery triangle. The triangle symbolizes the Divine Genius and All Mighty Reason that has made this world possible.
The flames that burn the edges of the triangle stand both for illumination as well as for destruction. They warn us that at some point, the black dot will burn itself out, and that is why the triangle is protected by the confines of the yellow square. The square represents all the elements that conceal and at the same time reveal the fifth element which is creation itself. As a living matter, I identify myself to the laws of natural elements. I am capable of penetrating through the fiery barrier of the triangle, reaching the Vessel and switching places with it. Only in the triangle, deep in the consecrated space of the Garden of Eden, the Vessel will be able to reveal itself to me, as I am the bearer of phenomenal light. And you must notice the blue pentagram which encapsulates all. The pentagram is the sum of contraries whose nexus is the life of all beings, both organic and inorganic. From the pentagram, it may also descent another force, the opposite of the light I am bearing. That is why, I have to calculate my movements, because if I am right and indeed I’ve been warned that the Vessel is losing its strength, the darkness must have also sensed that, and undoubtedly it would try to get there first.Now, don’t get me that look of panic, Archer. Good must prevail over evil. It always does. Trust me.”
“Are you so sure?” Gabriel asked incredulously. Uriah looked him straight in the eye. He felt
tempted to tell a joke and assure Gabriel that nothing could go wrong and that God would assist him on the way. But that would be a lie, since right after God’s renouncement to one part of His soul, He became weaker. He doesn’t have the strength to battle with the devil directly. That is why He sent His son, Christ, to die on the cross and deliver mankind from sin. He was forbidden to descent in the world as one part of Him lived in the Vessel. Uriah smiled complacently to Gabriel.
“My dear friend, we have to be sure that good will prevail over evil. It’s the only hope we are left with.”
Understanding dawned on Gabriel Archer who asked no more questions. After a brief silence, Uriah resumed his explanations.
“The arrow has the shape of a serpent, because the life of man is shortened by Time. And time is wise and deadly. He alone knows when a man has to disappear for another man to take his place, and no one can outlive his destined time. Nevertheless, man is beguiled by Eternity, and towards it he aspires, wanting to restore his original condition. But Eternity is out of man’s reach because life is founded upon an inconstant basis of existence which always flows in the gulf of non-existence.”
A long silence followed Uriah’s speech, as Gabriel tried to allow the words to sink into his understanding. He had seen the drawing and listened to his friend’s presentation, still he was at a loss at what to say.
“And where is the key to unlocking God’s whereabouts?” Gabriel asked more puzzled than ever, trying to keep up with what his friend was busy explaining to him.
Uriah bestowed upon his friend a most condescended smile, and he turned the page of the manuscript. There another drawing awaited the inquisitive mind of man to discover its enigma.
“At first, when my father left me the manuscript, I wanted to thrust it into the fire. I had seen how much pain and suffering it had caused my father, and how I hated it for that. For endless sleepless nights, he had hovered over its pages, like a mighty eagle over an abyss. I was only a child, but I heard his steps pacing the study. That pace was my lullaby, and I used to think that my father was watching over me. One day when I was playing in that room, I found the manuscript. My father had forgotten to lock it inside the desk’s drawer. I took it from the table and held it close to my face. I was fascinated by the strange drawings my father had etched. Curious to find out more about the drawings I asked my father to tell me their story. Immediately, his face tightened as if closing behind an iron mask. He told me that I was not ready. I was not of age. When I asked him what age ought I to have, he said 12, like the 12 apostles. I was 7. I didn’t understand his words so I showered him with more questions. But he flatly refused to answer. He was even angry. Even now I see his eyebrows twitching and his pupils darting arrows of fire. He spoke no harsh word and he didn’t reprimand me, but from that day on he forbade me to come near the manuscript, not until I was 12. I did not understand at first, and I was furious. It was the first secret that estranged me from my father. At least, he allowed my presence in the room. Or better said, he completely forgot about me being there, and thus I would creep and hide in a corner where I could watch him, without fearing I might be discovered.
He sat in his armchair with his head bent over the pages. Not for an instant did he raise his head to look at me. Completely absorbed by what he was doing, he would draw and take notes, forgetting all and everything around him. I was only a boy, and he was a man; and my feeble mind failed to understand the ways of man. And when I turned 12, I refused to listen to my father’s words or to pay special attention to the manuscript. Had my father entrusted me with the manuscript’s knowledge when I was 7, I would have been ready to receive the legacy. Instead, I grew up around the curse of the manuscript, without guessing the blessing hidden in it, pressed upon it by the dew of my father’s toil. Yes, to my shame, even after his death, I couldn’t understand why he had wanted me to have this weird picture book. You know, he could have given me something else, a car or a more beautiful mansion than the one I live in. Don’t look at me like this, Archer. You know me better, and I have never been a greedy or vain person. It was just that I didn’t understand the ways of my father or why he had thought this manuscript important for as long as he had lived and even after his death. As far as I was concerned, I saw no value in it, and I had kept thinking like this until I found the very book I’ve been talking to you about. And now I understand. It was his legacy to me. The manuscript was going to be the guiding voice I needed to hear when I would be ready to embark on such a difficult journey. Indeed, he always told me that I would understand later and that the key of my understanding would one day find me. He was right. Who knows? It could have been my father who hid the book in the library before his retirement, confident that I would come across it, as he was confident that I wouldn’t throw his manuscript to the garbage bin. And so I did keep my legacy.
Doesn’t fate work her mysterious ways and plays with us mortals as if we were dolls waded with cotton? Anyway, this is my legacy, and I can’t deny it. If I closed my eyes before the bare facts, it would be like going against nature. It is my legacy. My Destiny! My friend, I am not asking you to believe in me straight away. Had I been in your shoes, I would have been skeptical too. For Heaven’s sake, I didn’t even believe my own father. Honestly, I don’t know what is waiting for me at the end of the road. But I am asking you as my friend, to have faith and to be open to any possibility.”
Uriah paused, taking a long deep breath, and then urged Gabriel to look carefully at the drawing for the last time.
“Please, my friend, tell me what else you see there!” Uriah Reed’s voice had the resonance of a tragedian, who perched upon the scene cries over to the audience and casts his words like thunder. Uriah bade his friend to notice the drawing. And Gabriel looked, all the more feeling dizzy by the strange gibberish of his friend. The old Mr. Archer felt as if he were bending over an unfathomable fountain where an unseen creature had nested. An unseen and lethal creature…He couldn’t resist and lowered his eyelashes, allowing the eyes to rest upon the mysterious drawing. In the background, the picture showed a man and a woman descending into a
“Can you guess who they are? They are Adam and Eve, the first pair God has created and the first guardians of the Vessel!” Uriah kept shouting in Gabriel’s ears. “I read in my father’s manuscript. He didn’t believe the story told by the Bible that Eve was created out of Adam’s ribs. Eve has to be unique in order to complement the opposite. She couldn’t have been taken from an existing matter. Therefore, God must have created her at the same time with Adam, and not after creating the masculine principle, and most certainly not out of the masculine principle. Who knows? Perhaps, Eve came first, as she is par excellence the feminine principle, a symbol of nurture and fertility. And I am determined to find out why the masculine and feminine dyad governs the law of nature. The entire world is a harmonic mathematics, a system of counts where opposites add and form the most interesting unity the universe can create. The pair of opposites… Day and night, the sun and the moon, light and darkness, masculine and feminine… Look at them, behold, my friend, Adam and Eve, my founding parents, your founding parents. They represent one unity in duality, but as they descend into the valley they become one, and the duality fades away. Look!”
Gabriel looked carefully, narrowing his little eyes. In the natural light of the room, the drawing appeared to augment, whereas the room seemed to sink into the floor. The drawn valley had absorbed Gabriel and Uriah into it, and for a brief moment, Gabriel almost felt the salty odour of hot sand, and the rustling blades of grass. Adam and Eve… They were holding hands, and contrary to the common belief, Eve’s hair was not fair at all. It was dark blue like the night, like the nocturnal mystery under whose sign the feminine principle has always been subjected. Adam’s hair was red blonde, like the fiery sun which generates warmth and growth, and without which night would forever be infertile and cold. The pair was beautiful to behold, as they descended in the green valley. Purity was written on their faces, and their eyes had the clarity of fresh waters, invigorating the desert and the heath.
“Perhaps it was them who had created the oasis in the middle of the desert”, cried Uriah excited. “Perhaps, God knew that He alone couldn’t have had the ability to fertilize nature. At least not after He placed so much soul inside this world… Their love had been the spring, the source of all creation, and this love had to be protected.”
Gabriel knew that Uriah was right. Adam and Eve were two individualized beings. Despite this ontological opposition, the shadow of the pair seemed to unite at the bottom of the valley. Their barren feet were treading upon a golden rail of sunrays, while the desert was stirred by sandy gusts of wind. They were not dressed, but neither were they naked. Eve was completely covered in a veil of white light that seemed to come out of Adam, whereas Adam was screened by the long locks of Eve’s dark hair. They complemented each other, fusing with their opposite self.
Suddenly, Gabriel Archer’s attention was drawn by something else, something he failed to notice until then. At the bottom of that peculiar flight of stairs, a Latin word had appeared in the light of their descent. It was inlaid in the vigorous bark of a mighty tree, behind which a grassy meadow could be seen. Gabriel adjusted his glasses nervously, his hands shaking on the rim, and spelt aloud the written word:
S E M P E R