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    paren01
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

The Earliest Shrine - 1. Chapter 1

**
Preface
Early primates left Africa and populated Europe seventeen million years ago. Some speculate that after eight million years of evolution, descendants of this population returned to Africa to form the great apes, who would later become hominids and eventually sapiens.
**

Chapter 1
Out of nowhere, James' mom and dad announced the family would spend the summer holiday in Germany.

James thought, 'That's cool; the family's never been to Germany.'

James' dad was an Ancient History professor at Stanford University specializing in classical pre-Christian religions, and he often went off on field trips. Sometimes, if schedules aligned and it was an exciting location, he would take the entire family for a combined work/vacation. His mother was an independent marketing consultant and could work almost anywhere with a fast internet connection.

During this trip, his dad would attend a conference in Augsburg to view a second-century Roman Mithraeum recently discovered beneath the town's cathedral.

James and his younger brother Benjamin had only a passing interest in their dad's work but enjoyed the trips and appreciated their dad's enthusiasm. He practically bounced off the ceiling when he announced the trip at dinner that night.

"When do we leave?" asked James.

"June 12th, the day after the last day of school for both of you," answered their mom.

Their dad continued, "We'll meet up with the Crawfords in Boston for the final leg of the trip to Munich. They have a boy your age, James. His name is Winston. They also have a girl named Amelia. I believe she's a little older than either of you."

The days passed slowly. James and Benjamin grew increasingly excited as the day of the flight approached. Augsburg was only thirty minutes by train from Munich, and the boys dreamed of swilling beers at picturesque brewpubs. James was disappointed to learn that although fourteen-year-olds could legally drink beer in Germany, the minimum age to purchase beer was sixteen. He doubted his parents would support this plan, but on the bright side, maybe they'd meet some cool older teen willing to buy beers for them. At only twelve, Benjamin would have to fake it, or maybe James could sneak him a few swallows.

The day arrived. James took extra time in the shower to ensure he wasn't uncomfortably horny during the long flight. Despite the early hour, the boys were ready to leave the house at 5:30 to make the 8:25 AM flight. This wasn't their first international trip; having accompanied their dad to Greece and Italy, the boys were used to the hurry-up-and-wait routine. They each had iPads with downloaded films and games to amuse themselves. There was only an hour and ten minutes between flights, cutting it a little close for an international flight, but that wasn't something James or his brother worried about. Their dad was hyper in an amusing way and loved being the trip coordinator.

Their flight arrived a few minutes early, and they boarded the connecting flight with time to spare.

James led the way down the aisle, searching for their seat assignments. Up ahead, he spotted a super hot boy seated in one of the aisle seats. His mom would describe the teen as "cute as a button" (maybe that was his grandmother's expression). As he got closer, the boy looked up and caught him staring. James blushed and shifted his attention to the assigned seat numbers. He finally found the row and, looking over at the seat, discovered it was next to the hot boy. He was even cuter up close. Excusing himself, he scooted over to his seat, feeling the boy's knees lightly brush across his thighs. The sensation made him shiver.

The boy turned to James and asked, "Are you James?"

With a slight crack in his voice, James replied. "Y . . . yes, I'm James.

"Hi, I'm Winston. I guess we're traveling together."

James couldn't believe his luck! This vacation might be even better than he expected.

"Are your parents aboard?" asked James.

"Yeah, they're here." He said while pointing to seated passengers around them. "We split up, so according to my mom, we could "mingle,"" he said with a chuckle. "Your brother has to sit with my sister, poor guy."

"They probably deserve each other," James laughed, then added. "My brother's not really that bad."

"Neither is my sister, but don't tell her I said that. She's a little stuck up, but all girls are stuck up. They think every guy is dying to get in their pants . . . and most of the time they're right!" They both broke out laughing.

James' mother, who had just settled into her seat next to Barbara, Winston's mother, said, "I see you two have met. I'm glad you're getting on." To Winston, "I'm James' mom. You can call me Christine."

As Winston and his mom chatted, James caught sight of his father and Winston's dad enthusiastically discussing something they were viewing on a tablet. Probably something about the conference.

A row back and to his left, James spotted his brother sitting with a very pretty girl in her mid-teens. Benjamin was looking at her with mouth agape and a starry look in his eyes. He was obviously smitten. She was looking off into the distance with a look of disdain on her face.

Then, the plane took off on the long trip to Munich. James and Winston discovered that they both played on their school soccer teams and entered into a lively discussion. The two boys compared their favorite professional soccer players and teams. It was interesting to hear about their different opinions and reasoning behind their choices. Their love for soccer brought them together and made for a fun conversation. James struggled not to stare at the beautiful teen sitting next to him. He was glad he took care of business in the shower before leaving for the airport that morning. Even so, he was careful to keep his iPad on his lap. God, he wished he would grow out of this adolescent 'boner-itis' affliction.

"What else besides soccer do you like to do?" asked Winston.

"The usual stuff, playing video games, watching Netflix and social media stuff," said James.

"Anything else?"

"Well, this may sound a little strange, but I like to write stories."

"Stories!" exclaimed Winston. "What kind of stories?"

"I write for my high school newspaper, although, to be honest, as a ninth grader, I don't get many articles published." James hesitated, then uncertainly added, "I also write some fiction. Some of it's for my creative writing class, but mostly for myself."

"That's cool! I wish I had a better imagination. My favorite subject is history, with a particular interest in prehistory. I guess my parent's work has rubbed off on me. Can I read something you've written?"

James was embarrassed. Most of the stuff he wrote was very private and involved YA, young adult, gay romance stories. Most of them were a little spicy, and he feared they would end his friendship with Winston before it began. He did have a few class assignments saved on his iPad that were less forthcoming and definitely less sexual, but even these were embarrassing.

"Yeah, maybe. I have some stories saved to the cloud. Let me check what I have after we get to the hotel."

"That's cool. I'm kinda of excited about this trip. In this area of Europe, people found some of the finest Gavettian and Aurignacian artifacts." said Wilson.

James looked at Winston questioningly.

"Gavettian and Aurignacian are two of the first Early European Modern Human cultures. Scientists have found some incredible statues between twenty-two and forty thousand years old. I've only seen pictures and reconstructions, but they look amazing!"

Wilson suddenly stopped talking and blushed. "I'm sorry, I sound like such a dork."

"No, you don't. It sounds interesting. Maybe we can see the statues at the local museums. Sound like something I could use in one of my stories."

"Really!" Winston replied with a big, open smile.

James melted. How could anyone be as appealing as this beautiful boy sitting beside him? He checked to make sure his iPad was in place on his lap. At least he was smart enough not to wear skinny jeans today.

They both snoozed for a little while after dinner. Before they knew it, the flight attendant announced.

"We have begun our descent into Munich. Please turn off all portable electronic devices and stow them until we have arrived at the gate. In preparation for landing in Munich, be certain your seat back is straight up and your seat belt is fastened. Please secure your carry-on items, and stow your tray table. Thank you."

The two families walked through the airport. Amelia joined her parents, apparently relieved to escape Benjamin after hours of nonstop chatter and silly jokes from the younger boy.

Benjamin attached himself to James and Winston. Winston thought he was funny, and they got along pretty well. The boys made a beeline to a souvenir shop selling FC Bayern jerseys. Having stocked up, they joined the rest of their party at the car rental area. They rented a big bus-type van to accommodate them all. James was disappointed when Amelia insisted on sitting with her brother, leaving him with Benjamin.

The families took a quick tour of Munich before heading to Augsburg. An hour later, they arrived at the hotel. The parents checked them in. Amelia had her own room, and James' parents had a one-bedroom suite with a pullout for Benjamin.

Winston's dad asked, "Winston, James, is it OK if you two share a room?"

James thought, 'Is it OK? Is it OK? Of course, it was OK! It couldn't be better!'

They all had dinner that night at a quaint Bavarian restaurant. James asked his dad, "Since we're in Germany and it's legal here, can I have a beer?" His dad paused, thinking it over until his mother said, "I don't care what they do in Germany. You're too young to drink, sweetheart."

James blushed. Not only had he been denied a beer, his mother called him 'sweetheart' in front of Winston and Amelia. At least his dad thought about it. There may be hope.

After dinner, they all returned to their rooms to clean up after the long day of traveling and get a good night's sleep.

The big moment had arrived. James was so nervous it felt like butterflies were flying around his stomach. He wished he was as calm as Winston. It was probably the advantage he had of being a straight boy.

Winston asked, "Are you going to take a shower?"

"Yeah, but I want to check the internet first. You go ahead."

"OK." Winston grabbed some things from his suitcase and headed to the bathroom.

James couldn't help but imagine what was going on in the bathroom. He pictured Winston stripping off his clothes in preparation for the shower. He was getting too excited and knew he needed to try and think of something else. James turned his iPad on, found the Wi-Fi network, and entered the password for the room. Suddenly, he heard the shower go on, and his mind was immediately taken back to what was happening behind the closed door.

After several minutes, James heard the shower turn off. Soon after, Winston entered the room shirtless, wearing a sexy pair of boxer briefs. James almost lost it right there. He needed to get control of himself. Winston's body was perfect, but James forced himself to think about something else. It would be hard enough to grab the stuff he needed from his suitcase and get to the bathroom without Winston noticing his embarrassing state. Shielding his groin the best he could with his trusty tablet, he grabbed his dock kit and underwear and dashed to the bathroom.

James undressed and got ready to take a shower. He stood outside the shower, feeling every inch of his nakedness, reached forward, and twisted the faucet; the sound of the water rushing through the pipes echoed in the bathroom. While waiting for the water to warm up, he eagerly went to work, relieving himself of the sexual tension. Feeling better, he stepped into the shower, feeling the steam surround him. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, savoring the moment of peace and relaxation.

After taking their showers, the two tired boys talked about stupid stuff as only young teens can before finally crashing onto their twin beds for the night.

Paul, Winston and Amelia's dad, offered to take them on a tour of the cathedral and Mithraeum the next day. James was interested in this tour, although he wasn't sure why. He wasn't usually that interested in his father's work, but maybe it was because it was a passion of Winston's.

During the tour of the Augsburg Cathedral, James was fascinated by the intricate details of the Gothic and Romanesque architecture and the stunning early stained glass windows. The windows are among the earliest in Europe. However, the real highlight of the visit was when they came upon the archaeological remains of the Mithraeum in an excavated area of the cathedral below an underground vault. As they descended the stairs, James began to feel a little strange. His mind focused on something other than the here and now.

Winston asked, "James, are you feeling OK? You look a little pale."

Winston's voice seemed to be coming from far away, although he could see Winston standing right next to him. "I was just a little dizzy. I feel fine now."

The remains were in a remarkably well-preserved state.

Winston's dad explained, "This Mithraeum is believed to have been used for Mithraic worship, a religious cult popular in the Roman Empire during the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD. The discovery of the Mithraeum offers a unique insight into the religious practices of the time and provides valuable information for scholars and historians studying the period. The Mithraeum is expected to be opened to the public in the coming months. This is a sneak peek."

Before them was the excavated underground chamber with a long central aisle and benches on the sides. The walls were decorated with frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Mithras. At the end of the aisle was a raised platform with an altar where sacrifices were made and where the statue of Mithras stood.

The statue showed Mithras in a heroic pose, slaying a bull, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. Mithras was depicted wearing a Phrygian cap, a symbol of freedom in ancient Rome, and holding a dagger in one hand and a torch in the other.

James, inexplicably, wandered off from the group and stood behind the statue of Mithras, staring at the back rubble-strewn wall.

His dad, followed by a concerned Winston, approached him and asked, "What is it, James?"

Without raising his eyes, he answered in a monotone voice, "There's more."

Copyright © 2023 paren01; All Rights Reserved.
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Thanks for reading. Comments are appreciated.
Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

1 minute ago, JohnnyC said:

Thank you for sharing this new story with us @ GA . I’m hooked already ,Can’t wait for the next chapter 📖

Thanks, I appreciate the comment!

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This is a great beginning and a fantastic lead-in to a deepening mystery, not to mention a burgeoning love interest...

  • Like 5
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15 minutes ago, Robert B.C. said:

Enjoying your first chapter but you need to choose a name.... Winston or Wilson... you have used both?

Thanks, I’ll fix it.

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14 minutes ago, drsawzall said:

This is a great beginning and a fantastic lead-in to a deepening mystery, not to mention a burgeoning love interest...

Thank you, James and Winston have an adventure to look forward to.

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Great beginning to what looks to be an interesting adventure. The boys are getting along, at least from James’ perspective.

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7 minutes ago, VBlew said:

Great beginning to what looks to be an interesting adventure. The boys are getting along, at least from James’ perspective.

Thanks for the comment.

  • Like 3
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I am sensing paranormal stuff in the making. Love it. Oh, and a good romance is never wasted on me. Love that too! Looking forward to the next chapters. 

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17 minutes ago, Leo C said:

I am sensing paranormal stuff in the making. Love it. Oh, and a good romance is never wasted on me. Love that too! Looking forward to the next chapters. 

I think you're onto the theme of this story. Thanks for the comment.

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I could offer multiple guess as to what’s going on with James but I won’t. I will check my popcorn supply and wait for the rest of the story and the history lesson.

Something seemingly supernatural is afoot and this appears to be a completely different offering than your last novel. Excited to read along.

Edited by Dan South
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30 minutes ago, Dan South said:

I could offer multiple guess as to what’s going on with James but I won’t. I will check my popcorn supply and wait for the rest of the story and the history lesson.

Something seemingly supernatural is afoot and this appears to be a completely different offering than your last novel. Excited to read along.

This one is a little different to my other stories, but some of the themes are similar.  I appreciate the comment and your interest.

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15 minutes ago, Leo622 said:

Great start, deserves a follow. Looking forward to your future chapters. Thanks for sharing

thanks for the comment.

 

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I like a slow build-up that begins with a basic background and a few possible ways to go from there.  Nicely done. 

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4 hours ago, raven1 said:

I like a slow build-up that begins with a basic background and a few possible ways to go from there.  Nicely done. 

Thanks for the comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the build-up.

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