The Sworn Book
Zachary approached the wrought-iron gate, a worn, leather satchel hanging from his shoulder. He noticed how the metal gate swung out and slammed shut with the breeze but never stayed closed. “I hope that’s not supposed to keep out hoodlums and riff raff.” He opened it gently, trying to avoid making it squeak, and walked through. Apartment numbers started with ‘1’ on the left and went clockwise around a medium-sized pool to ‘6’ on the right and then an upper level, ‘7’ on the left, ‘12’ on the right. The apartment he was looking for was number 10--in the corner, top-right. The stairs to the top were behind the pool on the left. As he climbed the stairs, he could hear someone chanting what sounded like, “doogie imrie, doogie doogie imrie… Oh Inverness… is wonderful...” He got closer to the door and the voice yelled, “Come on, boys! Pick’p your breeks!” In the background, he could tell that some sort of sports game was on the television. He knocked loudly on the door, hoping it would be heard over the noise. A moment later, the sound inside went silent and he heard footsteps nearing the door. “Who is it?” the voice asked from inside.
“I’m Mr. Murdock. Who the bloody hell are you?”
“I need to talk to you about one of the relics you’ve been researching.” The slide-click of metal on metal told Zachary he had Murdock’s attention.
The door opened and in it stood a man who was only slightly taller than Zachary, who was not very tall himself. The man wore a red and blue striped soccer jersey. “What’d you say yer name was?”
“I haven’t yet. My name is Zachary Di Corvo. I can come back later if you’d like. You look like you’re watching some kind of--”
“The game’s in the cludgie, anyway. Which relic are you referring to?”
“The Sworn Book of Honorius,” Di Corvo replied calmly, waiting in the doorway for Murdock to move out of the way.
Murdock turned abruptly, “The Sworn... Sorry. Please, come in, Mr. Di Corvo. ”Did someone from the university send you?”
“No,” Zachary replied as he stepped inside the door, closing it behind him.
“Can I get you something to drink?”
“No, thank you… unless you have some coffee made.”
“Coffee and football don’t go together, laddie. So, no. I dinnae have any coffee made. I kin make some if yer absolutely in need.”
“It’s not necessary. I’m not going to take up a lot of your time today.”
“Well, let’s get to it, then. Have a seat there on the sofa and tell me what you know about the Sworn Book.”
“I know everything about the Sworn Book of Honorius.”
“Everything? That’s a little cocky, innit?”
“Not really, considering… I am Honorius.”
“Ha! Now, I know you’re daft. And… you’re wasting my time.”
“You know… I had a meeting with Pope John XXII in 1327. Myself and Albertus Magnus. That meeting went much better than this. Though, the result was me creating the Liber Juratus.”
“Aye… and I’m Nicholas bloody Flamel. Why don’t you tell me something I couldn’t have made up myself?”
“What if I just showed you?”
“Showed me what, exactly?”
“The book,” Zachary said, patting his satchel.
“You have the book?” Murdock’s eyebrows and bottom jaws went in opposite directions. “This, I have to see. Ya mad rocket or not.”
“I thought you might feel that way.” Zachary flipped open the top of his bag, reached in and pulled out an object covered in lambskin.
Murdock watched him with wide eyes, “Where did you say you got this?”
“I told you, I wrote it,” Di Corvo said as he unwrapped the book. “I’ve allowed others to make copies, but this is the original.”
“Impossible. It’s ancient… 13th… 14th cent--” When Murdock saw the dark, leather cover, etched with intricate designs and runes, his eyes flooded with tears. “It’s beautiful.”
“Thank you. It really is.”
“Can I hold it?”
“Of course,” Zachary replied as he handed the book over.
Murdock received it carefully in his hands, treating it as if it were the Shroud of Turin. He ran his fingers over the grooves and markings. “This… This is real,” he remarked.
“You’re telling me as if I didn’t believe that myself.”
“I apologize. I guess I needed to hear myself say it. But I still can’t bring myself to think thah you had anything to do with the creation. I’ve held plenty of lost relics. I’ve never met the creator of one.”
“So, that makes it impossible.”
“No. Science does a pretty good job of thah.”
“According to a study quoted in National Geographic in 2011, that is the number of undiscovered species.”
“There was a clam that died in 2006 that they believe to have been 507 years old. And you’re purporting to be at least 300 years older than thah? When you don’t look a day over 35. What d’you think National Geographic w’say abo’t thah?”
“Well, firstly, I would say that I’m actually twelve centuries old… and I don’t know what they would say about me… but… if you were to take this back to the network that cancelled your show--”
“The Global Broadcasting Company can shove their show up their arse.”
“Alright. Their competition, then.”
“Is that your reason for interrupting my football game? To hand me an ancient book so I can get my television show back?”
“No. I’d kill you before you could make it within twenty feet of anyone who would care.”
“So, what is your purpose here today?”
“I could use someone with your knowledge.”
“Ok, but why me in particular?”
“My mother is the only one who is allowed to call me by that name.”
“My apologies, Mr. Murdock. The reason I’m here, in your apartment, is that I had a vision. A vision of you and a friend of mine working together on something.”