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The Parchment Chapter Three

The Parchment Chapter Three

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Published by David Hillenbrand
Hidden inside a wall of an excavated trench at a disputed religious site in India is a secret. When photojournalist Drew Westin discovers a centuries old piece of parchment, she is thrust into a life and death struggle to stop a world shattering chain-of-events set to unravel in four days.
Hidden inside a wall of an excavated trench at a disputed religious site in India is a secret. When photojournalist Drew Westin discovers a centuries old piece of parchment, she is thrust into a life and death struggle to stop a world shattering chain-of-events set to unravel in four days.

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Published by: David Hillenbrand on Jan 02, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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01/14/2013

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http://www.theparchment.weebly.com

When Drew lowered her camera and looked at the same area on the wall with her naked eye, the slight variation in texture in the rough calcrete and brickbat seemed to disappear. She raised the lens to her eye once again, and there it was – a slight misalignment on one of the bricks in the lower part of the wall. It was subtle, but it didn’t quite fit with the stone bricks around it – just seeming a bit off, the polarization of her lens filter making it more noticeable through the eyepiece. Drew put her camera and backpack on the ground and then tried to wiggle the brick with her hand. It gave ever so slightly as if it belonged there but had once been removed and put back into place – looking nearly perfect. She looked to the ladder to make sure Hadji wasn’t coming back down into the excavated trench. Not there. No sound of anyone nearby. Reaching into her backpack, she pulled out her all-in-one tool she loved so much. It was crazy how she formed attachments to little useful things. Flipping out the blade, she slowly worked the steel around the edges of the stone. She guided the knife in deeper, its three inch blade disappearing into the wall, then pushed it sideways, creating a lever motion. The brick moved forward, a little dirt fell out of the edges.

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She stole a quick glance back at the ladder – still no one. Good, she thought, knowing her stone-faced guide would not be too happy finding her with a knife stuck in the centuries old wall. Wedging the blade into the opposite side of the brick, she shimmied it as deep as it would go. Thrusting it gently sideways, the brick slid further out from the wall. Working her fingers into the crevices on either end, she gently guided it out of the wall, carefully placing it on the ground. The sun was now nearly below the horizon and the amount of light finding its way into the trench was minimal. As she looked into the dark abyss of the empty space in the wall, a low rumble of sound seemed to draw her closer. She turned her head parallel to the wall and moved her ear nearer the opening. It was like putting an ear to a seashell, the low presence of ancient air whispering to her from centuries past. The waft of a cold breeze made the tiny hairs on her body stand at attention. The pang in her stomach, yet again, completed the eerie sensation. Drew quickly reached back to her utility bag, pulling out her slim, but effective eco-friendly flashlight that would never fail, because even if she forgot to plug it in to charge, it would run by winding the small crank on the side of the light. Human energy – always in supply. She clicked the light on; it still had enough of a charge, and shined it into the dark hole. The beam of light illuminated a large, angry spider that decided it would rather be somewhere else. Drew tentatively reached her hand into the hole - which gave her the creeps, but she pushed past her fear, scraping out some cobwebs and sand to get a better look at the area. She moved the light around, and then, saw something; a corner of some kind of cloth, burlaplike, sticking out from under the dirt at the back left part of the hole. More intrigued now, her squeamishness faded as she reached her hand inside once again, pulling out more loose dirt, exposing another corner of the cloth. Drew quickly placed the flashlight into her mouth, reaching both hands into the hole. Finding the corners of the cloth, she delicately pulled on the ends of the covering, which definitely felt like some kind of burlap weave. It didn’t want to leave its cozy little nest, but as she pulled a bit harder, trying to keep the force smooth and constant so as not to tear it, the cloth started to slide along the dirt. She stopped pulling for a moment to exhale some air, having realized she had ceased breathing, and then started pulling again. She didn’t want to rush it, nervous the cloth may have become weakened with age. She was wondering how long it might’ve been there when it suddenly gave way and she found herself holding the wrapped sack in her hands. Drew removed the flashlight from her mouth, setting it down inside the hole with the light shining back out toward the curious find. It was about twelve inches by ten, folded over itself at least once. There was a thin, braided cord cinched around the opening and she began hastily unwinding it. Four

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dusty revolutions around and the rough cord fell to the dirt floor. She slowly unfolded the sack, carefully parted the opening, and angled it toward the flashlight. There were several pages of some type of parchment with strange writing she didn’t recognize, maybe Arabic or Sanskrit, mixed with lines and symbols. She reached in to remove a page of the parchment and as her fingers touched the page, she heard the scuffling sound of Hadji’s shoes hitting the top step of the ladder.

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