A coin spins in the air. My face is engraved upon it because I was publica vincula, and now I am dead. My body lies on display for passersby to see, sprawled across the marble stairs of the Forum. Soldiers open the iron door and toss my body into the Cloaca Maxima with the rest of the sewage. I float into the Tiber and all that remains is my face on a coin.
I wake up. The cold dampness drips down the wall and pools on the hewn rock that serves as my bed tonight. It was a horrible dream.
Or am I still dreaming? My eyes blurrily take in a huge man… it’s so bright – or he is bright – or something… Will these visions never cease to torment me?
God, why? Why do you plague me with visions of my death and then bring before me false hope in yet another dream? I have tried to serve you and this is what I get: agony of the mind.
Louder: “Get up!”
Upon this rock you will build your church? What rock? The condemned’s refuse and dank mold is all that grows upon this chamber of death.
The man kicks me – hard. “I SAID GET UP!” Instantly, locks click and both sets of chains fall off my ankles. “Let’s go. We’ve got about two minutes.”
This dream feels real, but then again, don’t all dreams? After all, my chains simply fell off of their own accord. Definitely a dream. The man looks like he will kick me again so I sleepily stumble to the stairs to avoid another blow to the ribs. “Put on your shoes and jacket Peter. It’s cold outside and you’ve got a long walk ahead of you. Move!”
How does he know my name? I don’t really believe what he says. There are four rotating shifts of four guards each, and the gate? But he got in here somehow, and my chains… It was worth a shot.
We walk up the shoulder-width staircase and into the twilight. The wind blows my hair and I feel it on my face. We pass one set of guards before I realize what is happening. We come upon the second. Can they see us? The guards stand like oblivious, well-trained statues as we pass by. I know that I am dreaming but this time it feels too real.
The gate. It swings open? It should take two men to open that gate and there is not even one. What’s happening? Then I hear those dreaded words.
“Hey! Who goes there?” Just as I’m passing through to freedom I freeze and turn my head at the inquisition. The guards look fearfully in our direction. Are they afraid of what they see – or what they don’t see? I don’t wait long enough to find out. I round the corner and run down Capitoline Hill as fast as I can. I’m glad that man told me to wear shoes. Wait… where is he? I turn full circle. The white marble of the Forum is all around, bright even at night, but the man that was just a few paces ahead of me is gone. There’s something on the ground. I pick it up and inspect a coin, but this time it’s not my face engraved upon it. Not my face means not my dream! It’s the Gaulish chieftain Vercingetorix who died in the cell I just escaped from not 100 years ago. The cell I just escaped from. The cell I just escaped from!
The sun is rising and I can practically hear Herod’s company on their way.
“Mary’s house is closest. I’ll go there first. Thank you LORD! I’m free!”
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