I threw my gear into the bed of his truck and walked over to where he was standing to take a look. As I got closer, I saw a roll of old – I mean ancient - looking paper lying propped up against the post of the mailbox at the bottom of our driveway. “No clue,” I said.
I reached down to pick it up. It was much heavier than it looked. I had to hold it with both hands to support its weight. I could feel the cool brittle paper crumple slightly against my skin, but it didn’t tear.
“What is that thing?” Jackson asked again.
I didn’t answer him. Instead, I turned it over in my hand. On the other side was a gold seal, connecting the edge of the paper to the roll. This was no normal wax seal. It was made of some sort of metal that glittered in the sunlight.
“Special delivery?” Jackson asked.
“I guess,” I said, shrugging.
“Maybe it’s for the general?” he asked, referring to my father, a general in the United States Army Corps of Engineers. He lightly touched the seal with the tip of his finger. Sparks flew off it, and Jackson jerked his finger back in pain. “Dang!” He yelled. “What was that?” He shook his finger and looked at it. The tip of his finger was red and raw, and a blister was forming.
“That’s a pretty good burn, J,” I said, trying to smother my laughter.
“Yeah, no kidding. Thanks,” he said with a scowl on his face. He stuck the burnt finger in his mouth and sucked on it.
I turned my attention back to the roll of paper. “Do you think we should just leave it here?” I asked, more to myself than to him. When it came to this kind of stuff – this out-of-the-ordinary kind of stuff – Jackson always seemed to fall on the side of “forget about it”. Especially if it inconvenienced him in any way.
“Well,” he said, “it doesn’t have your name on it. Maybe we should just leave it here for whoever might come back for it.”
“I don’t think this was left here by FedEx,” I said. I looked up and down the street. I don’t know who I was looking for. I didn’t expect someone to walk up to me and say “Ohhhh…that’s where I left my roll of old paper with the electric seal on it!”
Jackson was annoyed. He looked at his phone to check the time. Yep, he was being inconvenienced. This was cutting into his hunting plans. “We could just put it back where we found it. I mean, we were supposed to leave over an hour-” A loud rumble drowned out the end of his sentence.
We both looked in the direction of the open field across the street from my house and heard the rumble again. This field isn’t maintained, and its tall weeds were on fire!
By the time we ran across the street to get a closer look, the flames were reaching about eight feet high. It was so strange - the field was on fire, but none of the grass or weeds were burning. They just stayed a greenish-brown. The ground shook again. This time, it shook so hard we both fell onto the cement sidewalk beneath us. As we lay there, we heard a voice all around us, like surround sound.
Jackson looked around us in amazement, trying to see where the voice was coming from. “Whoa,” he mumbled.
Thankfully, the voice told us to do something easy because I wasn’t taking notes. “Find Reuben. Deliver the scroll to him,” it said
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