Disclaimer: This chapter is currently in development. There are likely typos, errors, omissions, inconsistencies and so forth. Please do not treat this as a polished and completed work!
Clara rubbed her eyes once she crossed the threshold. She was faced with a long corridor filled with doors on both sides. The walls appeared to be made of onyx and the doors were painted black without any identifying features.
Those who designed this area had obviously meant to confuse and mislead. She looked down both ends of the hall but found no end in sight. That might have made her nervous, at least until she learned that the door she had walked through was locked.
“What an interesting welcome,” Clara said while half-expecting to be answered.
When no answer came, Clara left her suitcase in place and followed the hallway to her left. She hoped her bag would serve well as a point of reference.
After three hundred paces she saw an object up ahead. At first she felt a wave of excitement wash over her until her worn out suitcase came into focus. So she went full circle? How?
This hallway did not have an obvious curve to it, at least not enough to accomplish this feat. Things were certainly getting interesting.
A minute or so after Clara’s return to her point of reference there came a noise originating from couple of doors down. A quick glance in that direction revealed a young man with a suitcase passing through.
“Don’t let that door close,” Clara exclaimed.
The young man jumped then looked behind him just in time to hear the door click in place. Only once he looked down both ends of the hall did he have an idea of the situation.
“Sorry,” he said shyly. “Jonathan Carmichael,” he said.
“Clara Grey,” Clara said before she beamed a smile.
“Most people call me Jack,” he added.
“Pleasure to meet you,” Clara added interested only in getting these social graces out of the way. “Know where we are,” she asked.
“No clue actually,” he said looking confused. “Been here long,” he asked.
“Long enough,” Clara said. “Mind if we put something to the test,” she asked.
“Sure,” Jack said. “What do you have in mind,” he asked.
“Head that way,” Clara said pointing in the direction. “I will head the opposite way and if we encounter anyone else to ask for assistance,” she added.
Jack cocked a brow and shrugged. Clearly not concerned with asking questions, he began his stroll down the hallway.
Clara did the same but left her bag behind. She looked at every door along the way in an effort to find a pattern or identifying features, alas they were identical. The more she reflected on this matter the more she had to conclude that this had to be some sort of trap.
They crossed paths mid-way and once more found her bag waiting for her. Jack did not seem phased by the sight of Clara’s bag from the opposing direction; so clearly this was some sort of loop.
“How did you do that,” Jack asked.
Clara smiled before she replied, “Been here for a bit remember?”
“Oh,” Jack said. “What now,” he asked.
“Not sure. Do you have any ideas,” Clara asked.
Jack shrugged which nearly disheartened Clara. Clearly she was here for a reason and reasonably concluded that she would be able to find her way out. Interesting how Jack had entered through a different door. Did that mean there was a separate entrance?
But how would they find the door leading to their salvation? Every door were identical, and the stonework had been expertly done to create the illusion that there was no variations. She could try every door, but there were no assurances that one would even open.
Exasperated, she ran a hand through her hair and leaned back against the wall. She closed her eyes aware that Jack was watching her intently. Just what she needed…
When she opened her eyes, she looked up as though the curse God and was suddenly struck by an epiphany. While the walls and floor were nondescript that was not the case for the ceiling.
Seven doors were enclosed within an arched ceiling, high enough that people would not even notice they were within a section. There was a band of stone missing from domed ceiling which permitted light to bleed through. It was a bright white light, almost like daylight but with was no variation. Artificial light?
Now came the interesting part. As part of the vaulted ceiling, a text had been carved each section. Of course it had to be written in Latin.
“How is your Latin,” Clara asked while orienting herself in such a way to see the entirety of the text.
“I can muddle through,” Jack said.
Should she have expected another answer from him? Fortunately Clara had spent a lot of time reading the bible and guessed that her prayer sessions on ship had been for a reason. She would have to thank Sister Maria another time.
“I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth,” Clara said aloud.
“The book of Job 19:25,” Jack said.
At least he was right about something. Clara had a suspicion that every section held a different passage. The reason for these passages? That needed to be put to the test.
“That’s right,” Clara said to encourage Jack. “Let’s go see what the rest say,” she asked nonchalantly.
“2 Corinthians 2:17, John 12:25, Revelation 3:5, Romans 5:10,” Jack said.
Clara found it amusing that he would dutifully call out the chapter and verse they came across. After all, they were clearly marked and engraved. However, there was merit to keeping him focused.
Clara read every verse looking for a clue, but so far they seemed to be random. Without a discernible pattern finding a clue would be difficult. This worried Clara but she remained hopeful that something would leap out at her.
“Then my people will live in a peaceful habitation, and in secure dwellings and in undisturbed resting places,” Clara read.
“Isaiah 32:18,” Jack said.
“So why does it say Isaiah 32-29,” Clara asked.
Jack looked up and shrugged before he said, “No such thing, Isaiah 32 ends at 20.”
The boy was right and Clara was ill equipped to admit it, even to herself. Of all the verses this one seemed fall in line with the type of passage she expected. Clara had come here to find her new home after all, not this never-ending corridor.
“Engraver made a mistake,” Jack asked.
“No,” she said. “Every piece of stone here is seamless joined with its neighbour.
That takes a mastery that is rarely witnessed on earth,” she added.
Given the unlikeliness of this discrepancy being due to an error or flaw. That meant the error had been stamped there for a reason Clara thought.
“A clue,” Clara exclaimed.
Without another word, Clara turned to face the set of three doors in this section then turned the knob for the door to her right. The door opened without any resistance; confident in her decision she walked through without hesitation.