Raymund Eich

The Evidence of Things Seen

Ebook

“Who can stand when He appeareth?”

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Description

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When a young scientist turns her new invention, the chronoscope, to 1st century Palestine, she finds the result she least expected–Jesus of Nazareth’s empty tomb.

Sample of “The Evidence of Things Seen”

The Evidence of Things Seen

But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth?

–Malachi 3:2a

“I’ve been waiting my whole life for this day, boss,” Joel said. “This is the day religion dies.”

Professor Evelyn Troelsch dragged a chair over the worn tile and sat near him. “Just the superstitious part of it.”

His brown eyes glinted. “As if there’s anything more to it,” he said, and turned to oppenheimer, one of the Physics Department’s workstations. He always grew feisty when he had high expectations, and Evelyn knew he pushed her buttons to provoke her to argue. Today was too solemn, and she refused the bait.

Joel typed, and the starting window for ClioView, the chronoscope refinement program, popped up on the monitor. “First I’m going to run a time lapse of the tomb. Every two-thousandth frame–one per minute–between Friday night and Sunday morning.”

Evelyn nodded. If something happened–grave robbers? Feral dogs?–they could narrow their focus. She leaned forward. “Let’s see it.”

Up came the chronoscope data. She didn’t share Joel’s atheism, but still it surprised Evelyn that the gospel account held true so far. Some of Jesus of Nazareth’s last week, such as the entry into Jerusalem, the midnight arrest, and the Crucifixion, had seemed plausible. Then, per Roman practice, there should have followed a mass grave, and not a tomb, for the body of Jesus; but when the software assembled the tachyon echoes into a movie of Good Friday, AD 32, the gospel account proved correct.

The viewing window appeared. Metal oxides sparkled from the weak interaction of the tachyon beam with oxygen nuclei, and formed the walls of the tomb. Rough dimensions, four meters by four by two. Joel worked the dials box. The tomb rotated. Ledges surrounded three walls like built-in desks. The simile grew when

Evelyn saw holes excavated below the ledge on one side: chairwells. She frowned and pointed. “What’re those for?”

Joel followed her finger. “When the flesh was gone, the bones were thrown in to join the ancestors.”

Evelyn stood, leaned forward, turned a dial. Along the ledgeless wall rose an open doorway. “The blocked-entrance story was bullshit,” Joel said. “A fake locked-room mystery, so his disciples could say ‘We didn’t get him out. He had to be the Son of God.’”

“Could be.”

“Whose side are you on, boss?”

“Truth’s.”

Joel shook his head, then zoomed in. A human shape lay on a ledge. The software could not resolve the mouth and eyes through the gravecloths, but the lines of the nose and facial bones were familiar from previous observations. Jesus of Nazareth, the most influential figure in the history of the West, had been reduced to so many kilograms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. That’s how he would stay. Gooseflesh crawled on Evelyn’s bare forearms.

“Here we go!” Joel said, and hit enter. At first, only the time/day stamp moved. The minutes and seconds blurred while hours ticked by two to the breath. As the movie sped into the early hours of Saturday, changes crept into the corpus Christi: bloating in the digestive tract. So much for incorruptible. The day stamp blinked to Sunday. 02:00, 03:00…

…04:00, 05:00. “We’ve got movers,” Evelyn said. In a blink, the man-shaped mass of carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen nuclei had slumped, leaving forty or fifty kilos of organic material on the ledge. The movie stopped at 07:00, and strips of organic material, probably the gravecloths, lay undisturbed.

Joel snorted. “I knew it. The disciples.”

“Why?”

“They were like TV preachers: behold the miracle, give me money.”

“No, Joel.”

“They were too moral to do that?”

“I respect them more than you do, but that’s not it. After the Crucifixion, they thought it was over and went home.”

“Who then?”

Evelyn shrugged. “Let’s find out.”

Joel changed the parameters. Sunday, 03:00 to 04:00. Every fiftieth frame, 1.6 seconds apart. He rotated the view to look at the tomb entrance, Jesus’ body in the foreground. “Whoever it was, we’ll see them.” He started the movie.

No one entered the tomb in that hour. At 03:37:47, the body lay on the hewn ledge. At 03:37:48, into the space a sixty kilo man had just occupied, strips of organic compounds had already begun to fall, like plastic grocery sacks drifting back to the pavement after being raised by a passing car.

Evelyn pulled into the driveway around 7:45. Lights burned behind the living room windows. Maybe Al had a good day. She climbed out of the car and hefted her attaché over her shoulder. The printer had wheezed for an hour to spit out the chronoscope’s diagnostic files. A pain to read it all, but better than a headache reading black-on-gray on a monitor. She bumped the door shut with her hip and walked in.

Al sat on the couch, student papers on his lap. “Hey, babe.”

“Sorry I’m late.” She crossed over, and their lips met briefly.

“No prob. There’s a plate in the fridge.” His brown eyes blinked. “Did your postdoctoral fellow’s refinement get done?”

She huffed out a breath. “Yeah.”

“The Romans moved Jesus, right?” As an assistant professor in the Religious Studies department, Al had held a professional interest in Joel’s research, but he hadn’t understood the science.

“No.”

“The disciples? Wow.”

She shook her head. “No one. Between frames of the movie, about half the pile of Christ plus gravecloths vanished.”

A frown creased his round face for a moment, but then he chuckled. “You had me going for a second, babe.”

“I wish I was kidding.”

Al’s jaw dropped. “Holy Mary Mother of God. The gospel story is true?”

“What? Christ, no. Either the data were poor or the software botched the refinement.”

“So you’re going to look into that tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow? Joel’s staying at lab all night, and I need to work on it too. Thanks for cooking; I’ll take it upstairs and get to work.”

“Okay,” he said, and nestled into the maroon cushions.

Evelyn went into the kitchen, and dropped her attaché to the linoleum. She pulled the plate out of the refrigerator and stared at it for a second. I’m trying to lose ten pounds, dammit. She crossed to the sink and scraped half the plate into the garbage disposal before heading upstairs.

The plate sat to her right, spikes of dill weed like dead ants where carrot slices had been heaped. Her head lolled, and calcium in her neck crackled in protest. Her watch said 12:07.

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Ebook

Writer

Raymund Eich

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