An Excerpt from Found In Time – 33 AD
To follow is an excerpt from my first novel, written a few years back. My writing continues to improve with every story, every book, but the thrill rides that a select group of U.S. Marines took in Found In Time were riveting, as least according to the reviews and my humble opinion. To follow is the story of an emergency mission the team went on to save a loved one. I wrote it as a Christian with the utmost respect and did so after two incredible trips to Jerusalem to see it all firsthand and part of this story is true. I do believe in miracles. After reading it, the question is, could you have done the same thing if you needed a miracle?
He turned to Abrams and shook his head in mild disapproval. “Dude, how many times do we have to remind you? No frickin’ gum. Chew on some olives when we get there, if you have to!”
Abrams spit the gum with sniper precision straight into a trashcan.
“Mount up, ladies” JJ declared.
They took their places in the six-person ring. Doctor Moretti was watching through the observation window from the next room as always. Typically, members of the second team were there to support the primary group, but this mission was clearly off the books. Moretti alone would know where they were.
“Hey JJ,” Abrams called out. “You remember the last time we went to Gethsemane? You hailed a cab. Turned out it had an Arab driver. We must have got pulled over by the Israeli military four times before we got out of there. Holiest place on the planet, and they’re still trying to kill each other.”
“Yeah, all that and the Garden was closed for the day. This time we’re bypassing the front door.”
The pulse rings were activated. JJ counted down “3-2- 1” and, within a breath, they were standing on the famous hillside covered with olive trees. The sun was almost gone and a warm breeze blew across the olive grove. They quickly moved behind the trees for cover.
“We’re here, this is Gethsemane,” JJ whispered.
They took a few minutes to eyeball the area. It seemed peaceful, not a soul in sight. Oil lamps burned in windows of houses in the distance, the houses of Jerusalem. As the sun set deeper in the West, the glow from a fire, 200 feet from them, became more visible.
“ That must be them,” Wilson said.
This was where Jesus Christ met with his closest companions, his Apostles.
JJ looked at Wilson. The cure for their Michelle was close by. JJ felt a surge of adrenaline through his veins, and nervous anticipation of what they were about to do.
Abrams signaled the group that someone was coming. They quickly moved deeper into the cover of the olive trees. Abrams plucked an olive from a branch and popped it into his mouth but quickly spit it out.
Jones whispered, “ They aren’t ready until they’ve fallen to the ground or at least that’s what I remember from Rome. Shhh.”
A shepherd leading eight goats passed by and then they started walking toward the glow of the fire. JJ could see a man approaching them on a path.
“You see any weapons?” White whispered. “You expecting an AK?” Sharif joked in a whisper. The figure stopped ten feet in front of them, his face shrouded by the hood of his robe. “Are you looking for me?” the man asked.
“That’s English! He’s speaking English!” JJ whispered to Abrams.
Abrams looked dumbfounded. He slowly stepped out from behind the tree and onto a rock, almost losing his footing. In Aramaic, he said to the man, “We are searching for Jesus of Nazareth.”
First in Aramaic and then in English, the man responded, “You have found me.”
Every member of T1 stopped dead. This was it. Christian, Jew, or Atheist—it didn’t matter. There, standing in front of them, was the man many people regarded as the most important person to ever have walked the earth. He was something beyond human, a being that existed in the universe—not just on earth. For the first time for many of them, they were speechless. Not one wisecrack, not one sound broke the tension.
“We mean you no harm. If you know we were looking for you then you know where we are from and why we are here,” JJ said softly.
“Yes,” the man responded. “I am here, living in this time and place to do as my Father has asked of me. I have left my disciples back at the fire so they can rest and I can spend my time here in prayer. What is to happen here cannot be changed.”
Sharif and Jones hadn’t uttered a word since the man approached them. Wilson and White continued to watch the perimeter, but before long they turned as if unable to stop from staring at the man. There was an unusual stillness in the air around them. The magnitude of this moment, the man they were in the presence of, was beyond anything they had felt or encountered before.
“This is beyond trippy,” Jones said.
JJ felt suddenly conflicted. Here was Jesus Christ, the Son of God, seeking peace and quiet so he could prepare for the horror that was to come. What was I thinking? He looked at Wilson and then back to Christ.
“I can’t do this,” he said, dropping to one knee. “With the weight of the world on your shoulders, with what you know is coming, I cannot ask anything of you. I need to ask you what I can do. What we can do for you?”
His team closed in around them, in solidarity.
JJ felt close to weeping he was so moved by the man’s presence. “Lord, I have done many bad things and I feel so selfish. I can’t ask you to do anything for me, for us—for Michelle. Forgive me. Forgive us. Please forgive us for our sins. Please forgive us for coming here and disturbing your peace.”
Jesus responded, “We, as humans, are all selfish. Soon, here in this garden, I will ask my Father to relieve me of the agony and death I am to suffer, but I know His Will must be done. To save others, I will do as he asks. For you, I will pray for Michelle.”
Abrams was just taking it all in.
White spoke up, “I wish we had found you sooner. I would spend a year following you, asking you questions, and learning about faith.”
“Then you should have. People often wait until the end to learn what is most important,” he said.
White was speechless. Tears streamed down her cheeks, but she ignored them. JJ was pretty sure she was an atheist no more.
Jesus looked into each of their faces, into their eyes. When JJ’s gaze connected with his, he felt an emotional rush over and above anything he’d ever experienced.
Here they stood, nearly 2,000 years back in time, in the presence of the Son of God, looking into his eyes, and speaking with him, hours before he was to be taken away and crucified.
Without saying another word, Christ turned and continued his walk away from the fire’s glow, in search of peace and prayer before Judas betrayed him and he carried the cross to his death. The team stood frozen, speechless, watching as he continued his journey.
Jesus looked over his shoulder at JJ, “Protect the innocent and those who cannot protect themselves, but remember—vengeance is mine.” And then he moved off and away into the darkness. Within a minute he was gone from sight.
For the first time, the team disregarded their years of training by completely ignoring their surroundings. They silently looked at each other, in shared awe of what had just occurred. “Back home they use amazing to describe every little thing,” Wilson murmured. “I don’t know any word that can express what just happened. Did we really do what I think we just did?”
“That was surreal,” Sharif breathed, “totally surreal.”
“We need to go. Huddle up,” JJ commanded. He kicked away a few small stones and laid the mat down. Jones was slow to move, as if he wasn’t sure he wanted to go. He finally stepped on.
JJ looked up at the stars and then at the fire’s glow in the distance. Still deeply moved by the presence of Jesus, he closed his eyes and counted. “3-2-1.”
“Check your pulses, ladies,” Wilson quietly commanded.
JJ counted again. Nothing. Then a third time. Nothing again. They were still standing in tight formation in the dark in 33 AD in the Garden of Gethsemane, in Jerusalem.
JJ signaled everyone to step back under the cover of the olive trees.
“I hope this isn’t karma biting us in the ass,” Wilson said. “I’m thinking this can only mean one thing.”
“Dr. Moretti might have had an issue,” Abrams suggested.
“I’ll bet that asshole Scott and his butthead buddies got wind that we’d disobeyed orders and gone off on our own. I’ll bet they shut us down,” Wilson said to JJ. “ Those Army guys never liked us being the lead.”
“It could just be a glitch,” Sharif said hopefully. “I shouldn’t have left her there alone,” JJ said with regret. They decided to wait thirty minutes before trying again.
They remained on full alert, watching for trouble from all sides. JJ felt their anxiety. They all wanted to go home, of course, but no one more than him. Michelle. Was she still alive? And if she was, how much longer would she be?
“Maybe when I get home,” JJ said, “Michelle will be out of bed, playing with the dog. I just hope I can get there to see it.” If Jesus himself prayed for her, did that automatically mean she’d be well again? He just didn’t know.
“Maybe we pushed it too far, coming here and interfering in his life,” Abrams said. “Maybe this is our punishment.”
“When we signed up to fight, we all knew there was always a chance we wouldn’t come home from a mission.”
Wilson looked at JJ. “ There was always the chance of getting killed in action. But getting stuck somewhere in time never occurred to me. I could have dealt with getting stuck in Valley Forge. But this is pretty fucked up.”
“You just met the Man and you’re cursing here, in this place?” Sharif asked.
Wilson fell quiet for several minutes, then, “Maybe this is what was meant to be. Maybe we were sent here to do something else.”
“Like what?” Jones asked.
“I don’t know. Part of me wants to walk down that path and stay at his side until the end. Other than my sister and my mom back in Montana, there’s nothing for me back home. Maybe I’m meant to just stay here and see what kind of trouble I can get into or what good I can do. Or it’s meant to be my penance, my fate. Who knows?”
The six of them sat beneath the olive trees and continued to watch for trouble.
“You know, if we do get stuck here, even if it’s for a week, we’ll need food,” White pointed out. “Unless we want olive breath, like Abrams, we might have to start stealing from the locals. We’re going to have to figure out quite a few things.”
“We need to consider what we should do, could do, if we wind up stuck here whether it’s for a day or a month or forever,” Jones said.
JJ shook his head. “ This is unbelievable. Michelle may get better and we might not be there to see it. If you want to stay here, Tommy, I disagree, but I’ll accept it. The rest of us want to get home. Anyway, we need to be figuring out what went wrong. Any ideas, anyone?”
“If the problem is on their end. Maybe they’ll send someone for us once it’s fixed?” Abrams suggested.
Jones made an impatient sound in his throat. “My bet is we’re dead to them. We disobeyed orders and went rogue. If Stewart retired like we thought then Brooks may have taken his place. If that’s the case we’re screwed. If we are busted then the Joint Chiefs may just leave us in this purgatory as punishment. That, or Moretti had a stroke or something. Case closed. She’s the only one who knows where we are. We’re all KIAs, bodies never recovered.”
“I can see it now.” Wilson frowned into the dark. “Brooks, or one of his henchmen, is leaning on the old girl. They’re probably back at Andrews doing everything they can to get the doc to say where we went and how the device works.”
“Knowing that prick,” Jones muttered, “he’ll water board the ninety-year-old. I wouldn’t put it past him.”
FOUND IN TIME and the sequel THE LOST PULSE are both available in paperback or eBook on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and can be ordered by clicking on the books section. Thank you for giving my work a look. JK