Chapter 33 of The Holy Lance, a fantasy thriller

Eureka! Comments are welcome.

Chapter 33

Anatoly Raznochenko is unable to take his eyes from the lid of the iron box. The significance of the discovery, if the archeologists are correct, is unfathomable. The theoretical has become reality, and to be within such proximity to the instrument used by a common Roman soldier to kill the Son of God, used by the most ordinary of men to fulfill the destiny of the most extraordinary man, is overwhelming. Raznochenko is unaware of the sweat pouring down his face, unaware of the murmuring of the others around him, unaware of anything other than the profound historic connection between this moment in his life and the most significant moment in the history of Christendom. His body, gripped by that history, is motionless as he gazes at the box, hypnotized by the prospect of what it contains.

The female archeologist, awaiting direction from Raznochenko, tries to stir him to responsiveness. She grabs his shoulder, and shakes him gently.

“Anatoly. Are you all right? Anatoly.”

She shakes again. She is about to call to him again when he reaches for his handkerchief, wipes his brow, and responds.

“Can it be?”

She releases her grip on his shoulder, smiles, and responds gently.

“We’ll find out when we’re able to look inside.”

Raznochenko is suddenly frightened by the idea of simply opening the box and pulling out the spear in broad daylight as if it is just another artifact to be examined and catalogued.

“Here? Now?”

He looks around nervously as he contemplates their fate if they perform such a careless act with such inestimable treasure and power.

The archeologist, understanding Raznochenko’s deep agitation, tries to reassure him.

“No. Of course not. In the lab. We have to get it to the lab first.”

Raznochenko exhales deeply.

“What’s the protocol?” he asks her in an attempt to regain his composure and reassert his authority.

“We’ll have to dig around and under it. We’ll remove it with a layer of earth on all sides in the event the box has deteriorated. Once in the lab, we’ll be able to take a closer look to see how much damage, if any, has occurred. Based on our findings, we’ll develop a plan for inspecting its contents, and, if possible, opening and extracting whatever is inside.”

“It looks to be in remarkable shape, don’t you think?”

The archeologist bends down, pulls a small paint brush from her pants pocket, and gently brushes away a thin layer of dust from the top of the iron box.

“It does. That the box, if it’s what we believe it is, is so well preserved after more than a thousand years is”

“Miraculous?” Raznochenko interrupts.

“Well, yes. As a scientist, that’s not a word I’m used to employing. But, yes. Miraculous.”

Raznochenko wipes his brow once more before slowly folding his handkerchief and stuffing it into his back pocket. He takes another deep breath before addressing the three archeologists.

“I’ll leave you to your work. Let me know if you need anything else. Manpower, tools, machines, anything at all. I’ll be in the trailer. I have to make a phone call.”

“Of course.”

Raznochenko’s fear has turned to joy, and in that joyous moment, he hugs each of the archeologists, one after the other, with the vigor of a champion. Without another word he turns and strides briskly away, bursting with the news he will proudly share.

The female archeologist turns to the other two.

“All right, let’s figure this out, and let’s get it right, gentlemen. Measure twice, cut once, as they say.”