Jump to content
    paren01
  • Author
  • 2,466 Words
  • 5,218 Views
  • 4 Comments
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 - 2. Chapter 2

**
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 serious and monotone voice, "There's more."
**

James' parents felt he needed to take it easy until dinner. He and Winston sat in their room and discussed the strange occurrences of the day.

Winston asked, "What happened to you? I was really worried about you. What was that all about?"

"I honestly don't know what I was thinking. It made sense at the time. I felt like something else was guiding my actions. I remember saying, 'There's more,' but I don't know why." What do you think it means?"

"You were staring at the back wall of the Mithraeum when you said it. It didn't look like the archeologists had excavated that wall. Maybe there's something behind the rubble." Said Winston.

"You could be right, but how would I know that?" Asked James.

"That's a good question. Let's talk to our parents at dinner tonight. My mom was one of the lead archeologists on this dig. Maybe she'll know something."

The families ate at a casual brewpub that served 'cabbagey' stuff with sausages and potatoes that night. James tried some dishes and found them OK but opted for an American-style burger with fries. Winston was slightly more adventurous, sticking with the more traditional German dishes.

During a lull in the eating and conversation, Winston asked his mom. "Mom, how come the back of the Mithraeum wasn't excavated?"

"That's an interesting question, Winston. Usually, during an excavation like this, there are confined areas we work on based on our knowledge of similar sites. Sometimes, the back wall will have a fresco of Mithras and, occasionally, a relief of the god built into the wall. In this case, there was an altar with a free-standing statue of Mithras. There are no known examples of walls decorated with frescoes behind the statue of the god. Additionally, the benches end at the statue, which is typical, and the side wall frescoes reach a natural conclusion at the back edge of the altar and statue. We extended the excavation a few feet past the statue and the frescoes' end to ensure we didn't miss anything."

Winston gave this some thought and asked. "It's just that something interesting happened today while Dad was showing us the Mithraeum."

"What was that?"

"Why don't you tell her James."

James hesitated and collected his thoughts. "It's a little hard to explain. You'll probably think I'm crazy."

"Don't worry about it, James. We all have our moments." Said Winston's mom.

"I found myself standing behind the statue of Mithras and staring at the back wall. Somehow, I had the impression that there was something more. It's weird, but I think something else might be behind the wall."

"That's strange, James. Interestingly, one of the other lead archeologists, Dr. Boris Wagner, had a similar suspicion. We decided to excavate an additional foot. At that point, we agreed there was nothing there. It's sometimes said in archeology, "There's only one thing worse than under-excavating, and that's over-excavating." Some think any excavation is too much. Let me talk to Boris tomorrow. Maybe we could drill some test holes, and if we find any voids, we can insert a probe and have a look."

"Thanks, Mom," said Winston.

The following day, Winston, Amelia James, Benjamin, and their mom did a walking tour of Augsburg. They began at the grand Maximilianstraße, where they marveled at the magnificent Renaissance buildings. They then took a leisurely walk by the oldest social housing complex in the world and learned about its history and architecture. At the Perlachturm Tower, they enjoyed stunning views of the city. They wandered through the narrow streets of the Altstadt, the historic city center, and stopped by the Rathausplatz to see the famous Augsburger Puppenkiste puppet theater. Finally, they toured the renowned Botanical Gardens.

While relaxing in the gardens, Winston's cell phone rang. It was his mom. She asked him to put her on speaker.

"Dr. Wagner enthusiastically agreed to drill some test holes. We discovered something amazing while drilling the second pilot hole. We hit metal! The filings indicate the material is bronze, but we'll need the lab to verify it. Anyway, I couldn't wait to tell you. Boris and I are very excited. We're bringing in three additional archaeologists to help us with the dig. They should be on site Monday."

"Can James and I watch the excavation?" asked Winston.

I'm sure it will be alright as long as you stay out of the way. After all, without the two of you, we wouldn't be extending this excavation."

It was Friday afternoon, so the boys had a couple of days before the archaeologists arrived and started the dig. They decided it might be a good time to visit some local museums. James wanted to fulfill his new friend's desire to observe firsthand some of the Aurignacian and Gavettian artifacts discovered in the region.

Their parents were hesitant, but eventually, James and Winston convinced them to allow the two of them to travel to Ulm and Blaubeuren with one condition. Amelia and Benjamin would accompany them. Their parent trusted their sons, but only so far.

Ulm was the destination of perhaps the most famous of the Aurignacian statues, the Lion-man. Ulm was less than an hour from Augsburg by train.

Winston was beside himself with excitement as they boarded the train. The train ride offered a picturesque view of the Bavarian countryside. They saw lush green fields, rolling hills, and quaint villages along the way. The train also passed through several tunnels and bridges, providing a unique landscape perspective. All kinds of people were on board, including locals commuting to work and school and fellow tourists exploring the sights.

The train ride was the first time James had a real opportunity to get to know Amelia. They hit it off right away once Amelia realized James wasn't one of the teen boys with hands all over the place she so detested. Turns out she had an interest in British and American literature. She was much better read than he, but they still had a good time discussing the writing styles of different writers they were familiar with. James noted several authors he wanted to explore in the future.

The Museum Ulm is located in the heart of the city and is easily accessible from the Ulm train station. On the way to the museum, they passed through the historic town center, where they viewed several notable landmarks. One was the Stadthaus Ulm, a modern white building designed by an architect from New York. The building housed several exhibitions, including one in the basement that displayed artifacts found during excavations to build the Stadthaus. Further on, they came upon the Münsterplatz, the main city square. They saw the Ulm Minster, a Gothic-style church with a towering spire. The church is considered one of Germany's most beautiful examples of Gothic architecture; all four agreed it was an impressive building. Later, they arrived at the Fischerviertel, a neighborhood with colorful half-timbered houses and narrow streets. The area was once home to fishermen and their families and retained much of its historic character. Finally, they arrived at the Museum Ulm, which is located on Marktplatz.

Besides the Paleolithic collection, the museum houses other impressive collections of regional art and artifacts. The building is also noteworthy for its modernist architecture and was designed by Richard Meier.

Upon entering the museum, they were greeted by a vast Upper Swabian art and culture collection. The museum's most famous exhibit is the Paleolithic Lion-Man Statue, carved from mammoth ivory and the oldest known animal carving in the world. The statue is an impressive twelve inches tall and depicts a being with the head of a cave lion and a partly human body. It stands upright, part lion, part man. The statue's gaze, like its stance, is powerful and directed at the viewer. It was everything Winston had hoped it would be. James was delighted to observe the sense of wonder in his friend's eyes.

The Lion-Man statue was discovered in 1939 in Stadel Cave in southern Germany. Stadel Cave was less than twenty miles Northwest of Ulm. The figure's body was worn from what was probably ceremonial handling, and we may never know its religious or mystical significance.

The next stop on the adventure was Urgeschichtliches Museum Blaubeuren, which was only a short train ride from Ulm. Amelia and Benjamin had had enough of museums and decided to do some sightseeing.

James and Winston went directly to the museum, known for its extensive collection of prehistoric artifacts, including those from the Paleolithic era. Upon entering the museum, the boys were greeted by a friendly guide only a few years older than themselves, who showed them around the exhibits. They were fascinated by the Venus statues on display, particularly the Venus of Hohle Fels. This figurine is made of mammoth ivory and is believed to be around 40,000 years old. It is also the oldest undisputed example of a depiction of a human being. The guide also showed them an ivory flute found at Geißenklösterle, dated 42,000 years ago. This flute is one of the oldest known musical instruments in the world. James and Winston were amazed by these artifacts' rich history and culture. They spent hours exploring the museum and learning about the lives of Early European Modern Humans.

The formal tour complete, Winston motioned James to follow him back to one of the display cases they passed earlier. Winston pointed at an object toward the back of the case and smirked, "I guess somebody was having fun twenty-eight thousand years ago!"

The placard read, ‘Phallus von Schelklingen.’

James laughed and said, "You would find a Paleolithic dildo!"

Winston speculated, "I wonder if this was used by ancient girls . . . or boys." As he said, "boys," he surprised James by lightly punching him with his balled fist in the butt. Winston chuckled at his little joke until he noticed James blushing deeply. They stood silently, staring at each other as reality dawned on them. Winston awkwardly said, "I need to find the others." and hurried out of the gallery.

James stood in the middle of the room, surrounded by display cases displaying all Paleolithic items. He thought, 'Did the boys that lived forty thousand years ago suffer the same heartbreak and humiliation he was experiencing now? Probably some of them did. That thought should make him feel better, but it didn't. He'd ruined everything. Not only was his romantic fantasy shattered, but he had probably lost what was developing into a close friendship with Winston.' Tears filled his eyes.

A docent approached him with a concerned expression on her face and asked. “Fühlst du dich in Ordnung?”

"What?" asked James.

"Do you feel alright?" she asked in heavily accented English.

"Sorry, I'm OK. I have to go now."

James exited the museum. He wasn't brave enough to immediately confront his brother, Amelia, and especially Winston.

Before splitting up, they agreed to meet at 3:00 p.m. at the train station for the trip back to Augsburg. He had thirty minutes to pull himself together. He decided to take a walk.

He soon found himself at the Blaubeuren Abbey. He half-heartedly picked up a brochure printed in English. He learned that this was originally a Benedictine monastery founded in 1085. The Catholic monastery ended during the Reformation when the monks were expelled in the 16th century. Today, Blaubeuren Abbey is a Protestant seminary.

It was a quarter to three, and he couldn't put it off any longer. He arrived at the station just as the passengers were boarding. His brother, Benjamin, was waiting for him next to the train.

"Where are Amelia and Winston?" James asked.

"They already got on board. Winston said something about needing to talk to his sister."

James thought to himself, 'Everything's fucked up. It's all my fault.'

James and Benjamin boarded the train. James could see Amelia and Winston sitting together toward the front of the train. James was both disappointed and relieved that there were no open seats near them. He and Benjamin took a seat toward the back of the car. His brother was his usual chatty self. James would have been annoyed but instead filtered out what Benjamin was saying and obsessed about his own problems.

An hour and a quarter later, they arrived in Augsburg.

Amelia met James and Benjamin on the platform.

"Where is Winston?" James asked.

"He went on ahead. He's upset about something."

James, of course, knew what he was upset about. He only hoped that in time, they could be friends again and, if not friends, at least not enemies.

The three of them made their way back to the hotel. Benjamin was being Benjamin and talking nonstop about anything and everything, oblivious to the turmoil unfolding around him. James and Amelia walked in silence.

They arrived at the hotel and went to their rooms.

James apprehensively approached the door to his and Winston's room. What could he say to make things right between them and, if not right, at least come to an understanding? Opening the door, he realized immediately that something was wrong. Winston's personnel belongings were gone. He'd packed his stuff and left. James sat on the corner of what until now had been Winston's bed and cried.

James skipped dinner that night. His mother came by his room to see what was wrong. He wasn't ready for 'the talk' and instead told her he wasn't feeling well.

She put her palm to his forehead to determine if he had a fever and said," OK honey, you get some sleep tonight, and if you're not feeling better in the morning, I'll take you to the clinic."

He didn't sleep well that night and didn't feel better in the morning. He dragged himself into the shower and forced himself to join the families for breakfast.

Everyone was there except Winston. Winston's mom said, "There must be something going around. Winston said he wasn't feeling well this morning."

After the meal, James confronted Amelia. "Amelia, Where is Winston? He moved all his stuff out of our room. I need to talk to him."

"James, he doesn't want to see you ever again."

Copyright © 2023 paren01; All Rights Reserved.
  • Like 9
  • Love 2
  • Wow 4
  • Sad 15
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. 
You are not currently following this author. Be sure to follow to keep up to date with new stories they post.

Recommended Comments

Chapter Comments

James's emphasis helped the adults to explore the space and find a likely new opening. Additional explorers will arrive next week to explore the space.

However, James's desire for Winston became too obvious to Winston. Winston avoided him and later moved out of their shared bedroom. James was told Winston did not want to do anything with him.

James is crushed and depressed and embarrassed. He has more time during this excavation and trip to be sad and shunned. His parents may become very upset at this turn of events. Maybe, James will devote his attention to the excavation and become fixed on what is found. He needs something to take his mind off Winston.

  • Like 3
  • Sad 1
Link to comment
2 minutes ago, akascrubber said:

James's emphasis helped the adults to explore the space and find a likely new opening. Additional explorers will arrive next week to explore the space.

However, James's desire for Winston became too obvious to Winston. Winston avoided him and later moved out of their shared bedroom. James was told Winston did not want to do anything with him.

James is crushed and depressed and embarrassed. He has more time during this excavation and trip to be sad and shunned. His parents may become very upset at this turn of events. Maybe, James will devote his attention to the excavation and become fixed on what is found. He needs something to take his mind off Winston.

Thanks for the comment. Those are good insights.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
6 hours ago, drsawzall said:

One would think that evolution would have worked it's wonders on teenagers....It would seem Winston is too easily upset

Loved this chapter and wanted to share some info...

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Aurignacian+statues%2C&atb=v314-1&ia=web

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_of_Hohle_Fels

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geissenklösterle

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phallus_von_Schelklingen

I’m happy you enjoyed the chapter. Teenagers either feel too much or too little. The hormonal swings is one of the reasons they're interesting to write about.

Thanks for the links.

  • Like 1
  • Love 1
Link to comment
View Guidelines

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Newsletter

    Sign Up and get an occasional Newsletter.  Fill out your profile with favorite genres and say yes to genre news to get the monthly update for your favorite genres.

    Sign Up
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..