Where Do I Fit In?
by Andrew Foote
Throughout this story real organisations and real people are mentioned by name. Their place in the tale is in the author's imagination. No thoughts, words or deeds attributed to those people or organisations are real, nor have they ever happened. This is a story! It's fiction. The people and organisations, even when they interact with the characters, are presented in an entirely imagined and fictitious manner, and no discourtesy is intended to them by the author nor by the web site.
"This is just so much crap!"
"What are you doing?"
"I'm trying to make some sense of these roman numerals but they don't……..make any sense I mean. It's like they're all muddled up in no particular order so nothing corresponds to anything."
"They must do otherwise where was the point in going to all the trouble of carving them in the first place? Take a look at the photo, it isn't like somebody just hacked away at a lump of stone, they're beautifully carved so whoever did it, took pride in their workmanship. Do you want me to have a go?"
"Please. I'm getting nowhere very quickly here!"
Lucas sat down in front of my computer then looked at my scribbling.
"I think you've been coming at this from the wrong direction. You've assumed that what you're looking at is one number rather than a series of numbers. Look at this. We've got the numerals MLXXIIXIIIXII which don't mean a damn thing except the number 1093 which I guess could represent a year but they wouldn't have written it like that. They would've used MXCIII. The numerals on the right, MLXXIIXIVX is the number 1094 and again they wouldn't have written it like that, they would've used MXCIV but then if we look for a constant, the first six numerals on both lines are MLXXII which equals the number 1072. Clever aren't I!!"
"Maybe but what about the others then smart arse?"
"Okay oh you of little faith! Cop a load of this! The left line now reads XIIIXII which is rubbish. It could mean the number 23 and the right line of XIVX, 24 but it's still rubbish cos the correct way of expressing those numbers would be XXIII and XXIV but what happens if we split them up again? We end up with two separate numbers in each line like XIII and XII on the left and XIV and X on the right and……..Andy I don't like this!"
"Why? What's the matter?"
"We……..we end up with 1072 13 12 and 1072 14 10."
"Mix it up shit for brains? 13 12 1072 and 14 10 1072. They're dates but it's just too spooky to be for real. You were born on 13th December 2001 and I was born 14th October 2001."
"So what you're saying is…….."
"Yes. We asked for a sign and we've been given one! Your counterpart was buried on the left hand side of that grave which corresponds to the day and month of your birth, mine was buried on the right hand side which corresponds to my date of birth. The only difference is the year. You and yours share the same Birthday as do me and mine, there's just the small matter of age difference which is 929 years."
"A bit too late to ask them if they wanna be friends then!"
"Hard to be friends with yourself Andy. He's you and he's me. We found them, shared Birthdays and DNA? Too close to call, it all adds up."
"Do you think we should tell anybody?"
"I dunno. I feel as if I'd like to but who?"
"Reverend Judy? It is her parish?"
"Could do I suppose although what good will come of it beats the shit out of me."
"Just another piece in the jigsaw I suppose. If we were to tell our folks then they'd most likely put it down to us having an over-active imagination so other than the good vicar, there isn't anyone."
"Do you have a number for her?"
"Nope but if we Google the church, maybe it'll be listed."
"Plan! I'll do it in the morning once we get back from Christchurch."
"Judy speaking. How can I help you?"
"Hello Vicar. This is Lucas Carmichael here. Do you remember Andy and I?"
"Once met never forgotten! To what do I owe the pleasure Lucas?"
"It's a bit of a long story I'm afraid. Can you spare the time?"
"Fire away. I've all the time in the world."
He went on to explain about our visit, the spring flowers and the inscriptions and how we'd managed to eventually figure out the fact that they were dates but left out the bit about shared Birthdays.
"But the point is, we neither of us remember seeing those inscriptions either at the Committal or when we first arrived last Sunday. The carving was fresh as if it was done while we were there which I know is ridiculous."
"Let me take a look and I'll call you back later on."
"We'll be in school in an hour so could we call you, say around lunchtime?"
"No problem. I'll await your call."
We called back at half twelve and spoke to a very confused vicar.
"I thought you said the engraving was fresh? I can see it and make out the inscription but it's old, there's even moss growing inside the lettering."
"No, no that can't be right. What we saw was clean. Andy even picked up a handful of dust and small bits of ironstone that had been chipped away which has to mean it was carved since the grave was filled in. As God is my witness, that's what we saw and if you don't believe me, I'll email you the photo I took of it."
"I'm not saying I disbelieve you, I really don't know what to think anymore but if you could send me a copy of that photo it might help. Maybe we're looking at two completely different things perhaps?"
"You couldn't help but see it vicar. It was a fabulous piece of workmanship."
"When could you send over that picture Lucas?"
"Right now if you like. I'll go to our IT suit and get it to you in around fifteen minutes."
"Thank you, give me another call once school is over for the day would you?"
That afternoon seemed as if it would never end in fact I think it's fair to say that I've never had an afternoon drag so much before but finally the bell rang. Before we went across to the old chem lab to do our homework, Lucas made another call to Reverend Judy.
"Did you get that photo okay?"
"Yes and we've been taking time lapse photos all afternoon as a result. It is the same piece of carving that you saw all clean and freshly engraved but it'd disappearing fast and I mean right before our eyes. This morning I could make it out with relative ease but now, well it's barely discernible."
"How can that happen? Ironstone is as hard as……..iron I guess?"
"Yes. That wall is part of the original building that we know through the records was there in 1068 but this carving isn't so much as deteriorating but more as if the stone is healing itself in order that what was inscribed is hidden once again but why that should happen is a mystery. The flowers likewise. I've been here four years and I've never seen a flower in that part of the churchyard ever and not only that, they're only growing over that one grave but getting back to the lettering? Did you manage to work out what they meant? So far as I can tell, they're meaningless script with no real or obvious message."
"We think so, either that or it's just a coincidence. Collectively, the numerals are misleading. They form a number but the way they're arranged isn't normal but separate them into their component parts and you get what we believe are two dates. The one on the left being 13.12.1072 and on the right 14.10.1072."
"This is pure conjecture but it's the only explanation we could come up with. You won't like it though?"
"You might recall that Andy carried one of the coffins that contained the remains of what we all suspect was his ancestor and I carried the other, also we suspect is my ancestor? Andy had the coffin he was carrying placed in the grave on the left hand side and mine was placed on the right. Now to come back to the engraving. On the left we have or had, 13.12.1072 and on the right, 14.10.1072. Andy was born on December 13 th 2001 and I was born 14 th October 2001 so the days and months correspond so could that mean that we've been shown the date our two ancestors were born thus sharing Birthdays with us? We did pray at the grave last Sunday and asked for a sign so could it be possible we've been offered one?"
"Oh dear God! No I'm not blaspheming, I too am praying. I feel the need to say yes but I have to talk to my Bishop again. I'm well out of my depth here boys. I'll get back to you once I have some news."
This conversation went from just being between Reverend Judy and ourselves to her and her Bishop to the Bishop to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the worldwide Anglican Church.
"It's a fascinating story Frank and now having seen the photographs is difficult to explain away but tell me, how reliable is this parish priest of yours? Some of our lady vicars are given to emotional outbursts so it's as well for me to know I think?"
"I know what you mean John but Judy isn't your ordinary vicar, far from it! In her teens she ran with the Hells Angels, had a serious drug and alcohol problem, dabbled in prostitution before finding God so I think it's fair to say, I trust her abilities not to jump to conclusions at the first whiff of controversy nor to go over exaggerating situations. God knows I wish I had a hundred parish priests with her abilities."
"Future Bishop material perhaps?"
"Most likely yes. I'd better look out for my job!"
"Ha-ha! I'd like to meet her sometime. Maybe you could invite her to dinner next time I'm over in Oxford? We desperately need some fire in the church and she sounds like she's the business."
"I'll see to it but don't expect a shrinking violet. She's very polite and respectful but by God she's able to hold her own in a tussle and if she believes she's right, she wouldn't hesitate in taking you on!"
"I love her already! Now……..back to our problem. This isn't something we normally come across and like you, I'd like to think it was God manifesting himself to two young lads and more especially as they were praying at the time. The obvious scientific connection cannot be ignored but neither must it be allowed to cloud our judgement so I think I'll sleep on it and make a few calls in the morning but before I forget? What about these two boys?"
"Normal kids, well sort off. They're both being groomed for the Rio Olympics as formation divers and very good they are too. They're gay but not that it makes any difference but they have an ability which even their coaching team is trying to understand and by that I mean they connect mentally with each other, thought transference if you will, the ability to understand what the other is thinking, each other's emotions and moods. I'll be honest, I've never seen anything quite like it before."
"Very much so and especially given their young age."
"Good, good. Shall we go through for dinner?"
Routine, routine and yet more routine. Every hour spent in school seemed like a day, every day, a lifetime to the point where our work became erratic, our concentration lacking which inevitably brought us into conflict with our teachers in no small way. We were set extra work which half the time we ignored, periods of detention and so on until one morning we found ourselves summoned to Mr Fairbairn's office.
"I never expected to see you two boys in my office for any other reason than to congratulate you but now it would appear that there are members of staff that would have you both expelled. I require an explanation please."
I answered as Lucas looked very frail.
"There's stuff going down that we can't explain. Things that have taken away our momentum, not just in our school work but also in our enthusiasm for training and just about everything else we do. I can't answer your question sir."
"How so Andy? You know that if there's anything the school can do, we'll try our best to accommodate it? If I ask Tony Rogers to join us, would you feel happier?"
"Maybe sir but we've been asked to keep quiet and we promised someone rather influential that we'd do just that."
"I hesitate to ask but are you being abused?"
"God no sir! Nothing like that but we're under pressure from people who believe it right that we stay quiet about certain things."
"May I ask by whom?"
"The Bishop of Oxford for starters."
"The same sir."
"Well quite obviously I have no idea what he needs you to keep quiet about but it isn't doing either of you any favours. We need both of you to be back to where you were because whether you like it or not, your example to the rest of the school has been an inspiration and I won't allow anything to get in the way of your success be it academically or sporting so what if I were to promise you that I too would keep quiet and if I were to involve Tony and he also made that same commitment to you, would you share it with us?"
We both of us nodded our heads in agreement.
"Good lads. I'll see if he's available so we can try and help you."
Ten minutes later and Tony joined us and so between us, Lucas and I went through the entire story from the day Liam's car conked out to our last conversation with the Reverend Judy.
"But since then……..nothing. We've not been told anything and it isn't fair because it's the first thing both of us think about when we wake and the last thing before we go to sleep at night and like all points in between. We find it almost impossible to concentrate at school, we know our work is suffering as a consequence not to mention our performance in the pool but there's nothing we can do about it."
"I agree with you. It isn't fair and I can assure you that we'll do everything in our power to get you some answers. Now I want you to go back to your lessons and try to settle down. I told you before, my door is always open to you so if you feel the need of a chat then you're not to hesitate, either of you. Further to that, I will have a quiet word with your teachers, nothing specific of course but only that they should try to give you some space rather than harangue you. I hope this helps but at least you know there are people around you that are now firmly in the loop rather than having to rely on faceless people in Oxford or Lambeth Palace, people such as Tony and I who are dedicated to support you."
"Thanks sir. I know we both feel better for our talk and we want to say sorry for letting you down."
"Under different circumstances I would've been very angry but then how you boys are supposed to maintain your level of commitment even without this extra pressure on you is beyond me and thinking about it, I'm surprised that you've got this far without incident so please don't be concerned. Like I said, try and get back to how you were before all of this happened, if you need help then ask but try to be the happy and enthusiastic boys we know and love okay?"
We left Mr Fairbairn's office feeling slightly better, Lucas most definitely looked like he was relieved.
"We're really lucky having such great teachers don't you think? Had someone told me twelve months back I'd have teachers who were so kind and understanding I would've told them to get real and get a life but here we are surrounded by really good people who seem to care about us. Rather humbling isn't it?"
"Yeah I know where you're coming from but now we have our side of the bargain to meet and if we don't pull our fingers out, they'll probably lose patience with us."
"So let's do it and prove to everyone that we can rise above it. I'd thought about this many times and do you think that those two boys buried in Wormleighton churchyard would be happy if they knew we'd thrown it all away just because of them? I think they'd be mortified!"
"Bad choice of words but you're right. We've got to fight our attitude and prove that we can overcome it so let's make a start, right here, right now shall we?"
"Yes but can I ask you something?"
"Sure? What's on your mind?"
"Do you really love me Andy?"
" WHAT?? You know I do, I mean what do I have to do to prove it to you?"
"Nothing? I just needed you to say it out loud is all. I knew that you felt something for me but with all this stuff going on, well, I was a little bit scared you'd turn your back on me."
In the middle of a busy corridor, I took him into a hug in front of everyone then kissed him.
"Nothing can split us up and I mean nothing! No matter what, we're in this together d'you hear me? I love you so stop with all this negativity damn it?
Lucas smiled at me.
"C'mon then Andy, let's go do it!"
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