Chapter XXI Armageddon

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Chapter Seventeen

The Escape





A loud trumpet suddenly blared getting everyone’s immediate attention. Soldiers jumped smartly to attention, officers saluting with right hands across the chest. Coming down the stairs was a most elegantly dressed man wearing fine linen robes trimmed in gold. He wore the most beautiful golden bracelets on his wrists; they were enhanced with rare stones, probably emeralds and diamonds. On his hands several large rings glinted in the sunlight and on his head, a small golden laurel wreath glowed like a halo. Adam didn’t need to guess; this was Pontius Pilate the Governor of Judea. He gracefully lowered himself onto the cushioned bench and scanned the two prisoners standing before him. For what seemed like an age nothing happened, no one dared to move as they waited for him to speak. A young scantily dressed slave boy stood behind Pilate slowly moving a large fan back and forth. To his right stood the smartly dressed officer, and it was to him Pilate now turned. “So you have brought me two spies from this upstart King of the Jews”? “Yes Consulate General, our soldiers arrested them attempting to escape the city”. Pilate turned back to look at Adam, “what have you to say in your defense? And I warn you not too lie to me, we have measures to make you talk”. Adam said, “Sir we are not spies, my wife and I are merely travellers passing through and looking for work”. Pilate shifted his position and looked hard at Adam, “Enough of these lies, we will get the truth one way or another, it is your choice. Let me enlighten you as to our methods, you will be chained to the whipping post”. Pilate indicated with a wave of his arm to where the blood stained post now stood empty. “While we chastise you the brave soldiers that captured you can amuse themselves with your wife. The whipping master is an expert; he will lay open your skin inch by inch until you either tell us what we want to know or until you are dead”. Adam made one last desperate attempt to make Pilate believe him. He realized it was futile and considered grabbing for a gas canister but hesitated, a sudden movement on his part would be instant death. The four soldiers still stood directly behind them with their swords drawn. Pilate rose from the bench, “Enough of this strip them”. The soldiers rushed forward to rip Eve’s clothing from her body; Adam didn’t wait for them to reach him quickly dropping his robes to the ground. The sudden and collective gasp at first surprised him; the eager soldiers were backing away from Eve. Adam reacted to the opportunity. He and Eve had created a strange sight, and the Romans were clearly afraid. They stood in the center of the courtyard wearing only Madam Malysheva’s sensible Fruit of the Loom underwear. The brown dyed lower legs arms and head and shoulders contrasting to their white skin must have been quite a sight. Not forgetting the equipment belts around their waists. Adam realized this was his opportunity. He moved fast to pull the Polaroid projector camera from his belt and pressed the flash at Pilate. Next he hit the project button and aimed the camera at the shaded wall under the canopy. Almost instantly Pilate’s image appeared on the wall. Soldiers fell to their knees wailing in fear, Pilate who had his back to his image on the wall, looked alarmed at his soldier’s reaction. Slowly he turned to see what was scaring them so badly. His shock was obvious. His arm trembled as he raised it to shield his face. Adam slowly edged Eve back toward the courtyard entrance, still waving and pointing the camera like a weapon. The cowering soldiers raised their shields to protect themselves from this strange and frightening weapon.


Once outside he and Eve began running fast to put as much distance between them and the soldiers as possible. Adam quickly realized he had no idea where they were heading. While being marched into the city by the soldiers he had been more worried about their capture than making note of the route they had taken. Now they were hopelessly lost in the labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys. It would only be a matter of minutes before the Romans recovered and gave chase. They were not only lost but in their present state of dress unlikely to blend in with the local population. They slowed to a walk desperately looking for something familiar to give them direction. Adam knew if they were recaptured there would be no further chance of escape. Indeed little chance they would even survive another capture, the soldiers were frightened and would most likely kill on sight. The endless narrow streets all looked alike as they frantically searched for a way to safety. They hopelessly moved from street to street, Adam was sure they were going in circles. Suddenly Abraham appeared from seemingly out of nowhere and beckoned for them to follow him. He quickly led them through a maze of back alleys to emerge at the rear entrance to his home. “You must not try to leave the city until darkness, Roman patrols are everywhere looking for you. I must hide you in the stables with my sheep I dare not bring you into my home. Soldiers are already searching door to door and will soon be here. Lay down behind the feeding trough and I will cover you with straw”. “Abraham we are very grateful but what will happen to you and your wife if we are discovered?’’ “Do not worry about that my friends these stupid soldiers will not look too closely in the stable”. Once Abraham concealed the pair under heaps of straw he set about spreading manure all around the area. In the oppressive heat the stench in the stalls was almost unbearable. Adam and Eve lay very still and quiet hardly daring to breathe for what seemed like hours. Suddenly there was a noise of voices, the sheep stirred and began moving around the pen. Adam pressed harder into the ground trying to hear what was being said. Roman soldiers were in the yard with Abraham. They were railing Abraham for the filthy condition of the stables. The spreading of manure had worked; the soldiers were reluctant to look very closely. After what seemed like hours the patrol finally left. Abraham came out and told them it was safe to come inside. It was a relief to escape the heat and stench for the cool interior of the house. Miranda had prepared a meal and laid out a few articles of clothing for them to wear. Adam’s new robe was not much more than a flimsy rag but at least he felt much less conspicuous wearing it. Eve’s clothing was little better but she realized these kind people were giving them things they could ill afford to give. Abraham said “eat and relax, you must wait until it is late. The whole city is on alert and soldiers are everywhere. It is going to be very difficult and dangerous to slip you past the sentries unnoticed. The gates will be closed at sundown and guarded by at least two sentries. But fear not we have a plan. As I’m telling you this my brother is headed for the gate with two jugs of wine pretending to be very drunk. The empire is so stretched these days the legions are often short of soldiers. For this reason they often hire mercenaries to help fill their ranks. These mercenaries are usually slovenly, lazy and often drunk. Fortune has smiled on us, for it is two of these oafs guarding our gate tonight. They will almost certainly confiscate my brother’s wine when he attempts to pass through the gates. By morning and with Gods help they will be in drunken stupors. Adam was concerned about the time already lapsed; he remembered Terry’s warning of twelve hours being the maximum. It was still daylight and they needed at least an hour to walk back to the capsule. Abraham suggested that they should try to rest; it would be safer to leave in the early morning hours just before dawn. Adam still worried that with guards at the gates slipping out unnoticed would be extremely risky and dangerous. Abraham told them to trust in the Lord and all would be well. The guards will be sleeping off their wine and will not hear you pass. But you must also consider it will still be dangerous once you are out in the open. There is nowhere to conceal yourselves once you are on the road. When you leave you must be absolutely silent and make all haste to get as far away as possible. The Romans have skilled archers and mounted troops, if they spot you your chances will rest in Gods hands”.


Some time later Abraham woke them and said it was time to go. Adam, who was instantly alert, estimated the time was around 4 am giving them a little more than an hour until daylight. As they prepared to leave Abraham’s home they hugged the two good people who had risked everything for them. Adam paused in the doorway to dig out the few coins he had brought along. He handed them to Abraham, though he felt it didn’t seem like much for the risks these brave people had taken for them. A quick final goodbye and they were out in the cool early morning air. They began walking as fast and as quietly as possible. Not easy in their flimsy leather sandals. They were certainly not Nike running shoes. At the gate two soldiers lay against the wall heads buried in their cloaks to shield them from the cold morning air. As quiet as mice the pair silently slipped passed the two sleeping sentries. As Adam eased the heavy gate ajar it creaked there was a moment of anxious tension as one soldier moaned then moved his position to scratch his crotch. They froze on the spot not daring to breath. After what seemed like a lifetime the soldier apparently had remained asleep. Adam cautiously pushed the gate open a crack more, just enough for them to squeeze through. He guided Eve forward silently passing the two sleeping forms. Adam’s body gave an involuntary shivered as he felt the cold sweat on his brow. Clear of the gate and breathing a little easier they picked up the pace and hurried toward the capsule. Adam told Eve to pass him her two gas canisters. They did not notice the lone soldier standing in the shadows of the upper wall. He watched them for a moment then turned in the direction of the garrison, lighting a lantern he sent his signal.


They had travelled about half way back to the capsule without incident and Adam prayed their luck would continue to hold. Moments later they saw the ridge behind which the capsule was concealed. They excitedly quickened their pace, their hearts were pounding but they were going to make it. So far so good, nothing stirred across the silent land. Adam prayed silently for just another fifteen minutes without discovery and they would safely reach the capsule. With about three hundred yards to go he heard the first faint sounds behind them. The sounds quickly increased to the heavy tramp of many feet and the clinking of metal on metal. Adam turned to peer through the gloom; at first he only saw the flash of torches. Slowly focusing his eyes he saw the glint of armour flashing off the torchlights. Following him at a rapid pace was a large troop of Roman soldiers; and they were closing the distance rapidly.


He told Eve “Run, get the capsule ready; I will try and slow the soldiers down”. Eve hesitated, “I don’t want to leave you” “Go for Gods sake, we don’t have time to argue” Eve realized he was serious and dashed off as fast as her feet could carry her. Adam now turned to face the onrushing soldiers. When the leading ranks saw he had stopped and was standing facing them they stopped too. Their abrupt halt caused the ranks following to collide with them in a clash of bodies and armour. As the Romans started to sort themselves Adam breathed a sigh of relief. Eve had reached the top of the ridge where the capsule lay hidden.

The soldiers quickly regained their composure and were on the move again. They were moving forward more cautiously now, just one step at a time with shields and weapons at the ready. Adam stood firm waiting for them to close the distance; he tensed when he spotted a dozen or more archers at the rear. For the moment they were still carrying their bows and he prayed they would continue to do so.


The forward ranks were now only a hundred or so yards from where Adam stood. His hands were damp with sweat and he was trembling badly as he held tight to the Eve’s two canisters. Taking a deep breath he hurled the first canister at the leading ranks of the soldiers. They saw it coming and in one impressive motion raised their shields to form a protective barrier. The canister merely bounced over the metal shields landing in amongst the soldiers. It immediately exploded spraying tear gas in all directions. Adam flung the second canister further into the body of men. In seconds the orderly soldiers were in chaos; men crashed, fell, and screamed trying to escape the clouds of gas. Adam wasted no time and ran for his life toward the ridge. At the top of the ridge he saw Eve had already managed to enter the capsule. These Romans soldiers were not at all like the slovenly ones who had captured them earlier; they were obviously a very elite and well-trained troop. They were the soldiers of the Roman Legions that had captured most of the known World and established an Empire. The gas had slowed them but had failed to stop them. They had regrouped and were once more coming on fast. Adam heaved his two remaining canisters, but this time the well-trained troops were prepared dividing left and right almost completely avoiding the gas. It only slightly slowed them down this time


. As he hurled himself down the side of the gully the first arrows flew over his head. He dived into the capsule head first as a second wave of arrows struck and skidded across the glass sides of their capsule. The arrows caused a few heavy scratches, but to his relief no cracks appeared. The Romans were now on the ridge and looking down in stunned silence at the strange craft below. “Hit the recall Eve, get us out of here while we are still in one piece,” yelled Adam. He’d managed to get himself into an upright position after his hasty and unorthodox entry and had pulled the hatch shut. The soldiers still very wary were slowly advancing down the slope toward the capsule. Two very large soldiers carrying what looked like heavy axes were directly approaching the capsule while the others began forming a circle around them. If either of these Romans had time to administer a blow to the glass it would be all over. “What’s the hold up Eve’ for God sake hit the recall” “I did, twice, nothing happened; I’m setting the manual switch just give me a few more seconds”. The largest of the two axe wielders had reached the capsule and was raising his axe preparing to strike. Adam desperately and repeatedly pressed the flash of his camera at the oncoming giant, all to no avail



In that moment Adam suddenly crashed forward into the console landing on top of Eve. They were once more falling through the blackness of time. They untangled themselves from the console and found their seats. In the hasty departure neither had had time to fasten the safety belts. The tension of the last hour drained away as they realized they had survived and was safely on their way home. “My Goodness Eve that was too close for comfort, another split second and we were done for”. “Relax Adam, in just a few seconds we shall be safely back on the launch pad”. Adam took a long deep breath, when we land I hope Angus has a large glass of Irish waiting for me, I could surely use one”.


About irishroverpei

Author of "Lily & Me", "The Royal Navy & Me" and Chapter XXl Armageddon. Writer, blogger and RN Submariner, antique automobile enthusiast.
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