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My Adventures with Mark Begin

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What happened that night was so strange, and yet so real. It seemed to have lasted for quite some time, yet it was only in a single night! I will try to explain it as best as I can. The details are so striking and memorable that I think I can do a pretty good job of telling it, though I might miss a few more minor details.

There was quite a bit that led up to it, and it would be too much to go over it in any great detail, but I will try to summarize.

I was getting excited about some of the interesting details of the First Crusade that I learned about by chance, that I decided I was going to write a story about it. Not just any story, but one that goes through the whole thing in as much accuracy as possible while following a fictional character throughout the experience. I set to work doing lots of research on the time and place, until I began deciding on who the character would be.

After much deliberation, considering the pros and cons of various leaders, I came to consider Duke Robert of Normandy… YES! That is the one I will do! And there is such rich history that comes before the First Crusade from there as well! But then, Robert of Normandy turned out to have a bad character. However, Count Robert of Flanders accompanied him on most excursions, so that could work out, especially considering that the two Roberts were related. It would not be much of a stretch to let my main character hang out with Robert of Flanders, while his main family came from Normandy so that they could be part of that rich history.

So now that I decided upon my character, I renewed my investigation. I poured over great literary works and researched trusted sources on background information of that angle, and kept at it for a solid few months. At the end of it, I finally consolidated my research into many sheets of paper, noting exactly who Mark, my character was, who his family was, where their line of decedents came from, what their characteristic personalities were, and what places they would have been, even spreading extended family members far and wide throughout the Christian world. In Spain, to join Rodrigo de Bivar, the Cid; in the monastery of Cluny to keep an eye on St. Anselm, who would become archbishop of Canterbury; in Rome, to keep an eye on the popes of the time, etc.

I wrote this all out on 30 pages inside of my binder. When I was done, it was getting very late and I was tired. I went to bed, thinking about Mark and his family, and what a great idea it was. I dreamed some of Mark… I saw him in some of the events I had already written of him, saw him slay the angry boar, saw him also standing and listening to Peter the Hermit, preaching the first Crusade in such an eager manner, etc.

Then I woke up. At least, I thought I did. I am actually not sure one way or another, but when I opened my eyes to the sound of the alarm, set for 8 a.m., the sun was shining through the window sill, and I felt refreshed from my sleep. I walked over to my desk to look over my notes again for Mark. I opened the book, and saw, to my surprise, a strange sight. When I opened the binder, a strange new world opened for me, for through the opened edges, I saw a dirty floor, with some dandelions and strands of grass scattered on the ground. At first, I didn’t know what to think of it, but when I gave it a second thought, I suddenly panicked. My hand started to hurriedly shut the creepy binder, but then suddenly a thought struck me. Actually a several thoughts, listed below:

“Is this actually real?”

“What is this?”

“Where is it leading?”

“What will I find there?”

“Will I even be able to get there?”

“Where would it take me?” (a previous thought repeated with a different light)

“If I went, could I get back?”

“What will happen to me if I went in?”

“Would I be stuck there forever?”

Eventually, even with all of these questions in mind, I decided that I would venture in, but first I went to collect some supplies so that I could be better prepared for what I might face in there. I gathered some of my favorite preparedness tools. I wore my most durable jeans with the most pockets that I could find, I wore my most durable outdoor-wear shirt, I put on my strongest pair of socks and laced on my most sturdy pair of boots. I grabbed the biggest backpack that could fit into the edges of the large binder, and filled it with extra pairs of strong socks and other unmentionables. I also grabbed a long sturdy rope, and put that in the pack, along with food and water for at least a couple weeks if I was careful, until I could find more means of sustenance.

At this point, I suddenly thought, “Wait… How long will I be gone? Do I want to be longer than a few moments?” and also “I guess I should tell someone about…” And then the thought struck me as what might happen if someone else came back and saw the binder like that?

First of all, would they see the same thing I was seeing? Would it affect them in the same way? Or would they just simply see an opened binder? If they just saw an opened binder, would they close it, and perhaps trap me in a world I knew nothing of forever?

I moved the binder around and saw that no matter where or how I moved it, the scene I saw inside remained unchanged. I wondered where a good place to put it to ensure that no one could find it until I returned. I dared not close it to move it though, as I was afraid I would lose my chance at a huge discovery. I had to think of a place where it would be safe from the elements, and yet assured of no one seeing it. I thought of the attic, but it was too hot up there. I thought of the basement, but I am sure that some family members might easily go there snooping around and wondering what on earth an opened binder was doing there.

But then there was the cellar, a place where the wine was kept for safekeeping, and where no one went except on special occasions like Christmas and Thanksgiving to bring out the oldest bottle. There were no events coming up, so that should be a pretty safe place to put it and be gone for quite a while…

“But how long is a while?”

 I needed to leave a note somewhere for something. Mom had given me permission to spend alone time as long as I let her know what happened to me, so I guess this would be good alone time… alone to find out what on earth was past this binder edge!

So that was decided, and I finished packing up. I loaded up my pockets with my favorite handkerchiefs, and my best pocket knives, as well as my trusty flint and steel fire-starter kit. I thought about bringing my wallet, but I figured it would be too bulky in my pockets and not really necessary anyway, though I did pack a few 20’s just in case. I almost forgot the compass, but I pocketed that as well. I didn’t think the map would serve me much of any purpose since I didn’t know where my starting point would be, but I packed that too just in case. I also packed a good sharp hatchet that I could use, along with the rope to make camp. I was also sure to bring my pistol to protect myself from wild beasts should I run into any on my way.

After going through this inventory, I decided I was ready. I left a note for my family and took the precious binder over to the wine cellar and proceeded to lower myself in. It wasn’t a long way down, in fact, it was only about five feet or so from the ground; however, I wasn’t going to be able to fit unless I took off my pack and dragged it after me. I took it off, and dropped carefully through the hole the binder boarder provided, dragging the pack after me, which surprisingly came through without much of a problem, dropping after me through an opening in an oddly-shaped building projection.

However, I was met with an even bigger surprise immediately, which was that I was dressed up in a totally different outfit, and my awesome backpack, was nothing more than a baggy looking knapsack! I was totally in shock! Did I just lose all of my awesome great things that I packed for nothing? I quickly opened the knapsack and examined its contents. Yep. Things were totally changed. I certainly didn’t remember packing that crusty bread, though I was interested in some of the other contents that I found there.

I then looked at my surroundings. I seemed to have dropped off an awning from a beautiful church, and it was overlooking a wide expansive courtyard stretching to a magnificent building pretty far off into the distance. There were people scattered here and there, walking in my direction. I looked back at the church, wondering if I should go in, and suddenly heard its bells ringing! Well, I didn’t need any more encouragement to go inside the place. This was getting exciting!

There were already a few people inside, kneeling on the ground. I was a little surprised at this, and expected to see pews, but there were none to be seen. However, regardless, the place really touched me, and I reverently dipped my finger in the holy water and made a deep genuflection and proceeded to find a place for me to witness the Mass that was soon to take place. Many others soon followed and took their own places.

At one point, I thought someone looked familiar to me… Yes, I was almost sure I had seen that face before. But how was that possible? He was dressed finely, and there was a boy who was following him in. Amazingly, he took a place quite near me, and I was not sure what to do. I quickly decided that I wouldn’t worry about it until after the Mass.

When the Mass ended, as I relished the Eucharist that I received, I waited some time longer in meditation, thanking God for being so good to me. At long last I was ready to go, and when I rose and turned, I noticed that the man I saw earlier was watching me closely. When he saw that I had risen, he left the church, with the boy still following him. When I exited the church, he stopped and addressed me.

“You are a stranger here, yet for some strange reason, I feel that I know you from somewhere. Who are you?”

I didn’t really know what to say to be perfectly honest. Eventually, I responded. “Oh, nobody really. What is strange is that I think I have seen your face before, though I don’t know where.”

“But where did you come from?”

Now, I was even more perplexed. Do I tell him I came from the state of Mississippi in the USA?

“That is actually a very complicated story.” I finally told him.

“Please do tell,” he responded.

Now what was I to do? He is asking for a direct answer. Do I lie to him? How long could I keep up the lie if I did? Luckily though, the thought of where his face came from suddenly dawned on me! He was in my dream before all of this happened! So… This must be Mark!

He must have noticed the sudden stirring of emotion that I was experiencing. He therefore spoke up. “So, you recognized me, eh? And you are excited about it too, it seems. Well, where have we met?”

“In a dream.” I responded.

This took him a little by surprise. And he started and seemed to be thinking about what I said. He then responded. “Yes. That’s where I saw you! I had a very strange dream last night, and you were in it!”

“What was the dream about?” I asked him.

“Do you mind me asking you first why I was in your dream?”

I hesitated. Should I really tell him? I decided to ask him some direct questions of my own in return.

“Are you Mark? Is your father, Martin, who saved the life of William in the Battle of Hastings? Do you have a brother named Matthew, who is a priest of the monastery of Bec? Do you have another brother named Luke a knight under Duke Robert of Normandy? And another who is presently a squire of Count Robert II? Have you been to the Holy Land and back when you were a squire of Count Robert I?”

“Yes.” replied Mark (for that was who he was) “But how do you know all this?”

“I know all about your history. Who your family is, and what they have done, the influence they have, their thoughts and desires, their whole lives from birth to death. I even know your secrets.”

“Prove it!” Mark demanded.

I asked him to lean closer and I would whisper to him one of his secrets, and he complied. I then whispered into his ear, three secrets.

Mark leaned back and looked at me dumbstruck. He finally put himself together to stammer a question. “How do you know these things about me? Are you my guardian angel or something?”

I didn’t want to hurt his feelings plus I didn’t know how he was going to respond to me telling him that he was a creation of my mind, especially since I was a total stranger to him. Also, my future relationship depended upon this first impression that he was making about me. I, therefore, decided not to tell him until later.

“I will tell you later. I promise. But it is something that I must keep hidden from you for now. Could you wait till later for me to tell you?”

He was studying me closely, and then he dropped his eyes down and brought his hand to his bearded chin as he thought hard before he answered. “I suppose I could, but you are coming with me, and you will not leave my sight until you have told me all. I will take you as a friend since you already know so much about me, but don’t make me regret it.”

I bowed and replied, “I would be happy to be your friend and accompany you on your journeys. I know we have a lot in store together.”

He glared at me, wondering how I was supposed to know this beforehand, and then responded with a grunt and a nod. “You may stay with me at my place.”

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