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A tall slender man stood behind Cole and Cali. He had pulled a pistol from its holster and while he didn’t point it at them, he didn’t keep it hidden.
“Must have been something to get through those traps, I hear they can be quite deadly.” The man took a step closer. Cali and Cole scrambled to their feet to back away. The man tisked and shook his head then motioned to his left and right. Ten men surrounded the pair, all had their guns ready.
“What do you want?” Cole lifted his chin boldly.
The man rolled his eyes, “You’d think if you were smart enough to crack that code to get the key you’d know when you were being robbed.”
Cali spoke up with determination, “This book is an important discovery to the history of Christianity.”
“You can’t take it. It is meant to be shared with the world.” Cole interjected.
The holstered his gun and moved forward with an outstretched hand, “Then the world can pay to have it.”
Cole sighed defeated and offered the book up.
“You did the right thing. Wouldn’t have wanted things to get messy now would we.” The man smiled through perfect teeth then motioned to one of his men who came with rope and tied Cole and Cali’s hands behind their backs.
“What are you going to do to us now? We gave you the book.” Cali asked, her voice slightly raised with concern.
The man bowed low, “My dear, I am the great Lucif Redding. I wouldn’t dream of hurting either of you.” As Lucif turned to leave he snickered, “I’ll let the desert do that.”
Cole collapsed to the ground after being hit from behind. Cali screamed but soon followed suit as a man did the same to her.
A voice called out to Cali in the darkness. It was soft but firm, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4 KJV).
They woke with monstrous headaches. Each laid with their face half in the sand. Cali coughed out sand as she sat up. Cole moaned next to her.
“Cole!” Cali kicked at his leg.
“Cole wake up.”
He opened his eyes and finding his arms still tied jolted up. “What happened?”
“Lucif stole the book and left us here.”
As Cole pressed his back to Cali’s he sighed, “At least he didn’t kill us.”
“Why do you think that is?”
“I don’t know, and I don’t care the fact is we’re alive thanks to God.” Cole was able to untie the knot of ropes around Cali’s hands. She turned and helped him with his bindings before she stood and stretched. Heading to the entrance of the shipwreck, all she saw was a wasteland.
“Well he took our camels.” She called over her shoulder.
“He did say he’d let the desert kill us.”
Cali swallowed hard, her mouth already parched. “It’s three days to the nearest oasis with camels. We have no food, no water, no rides. We won’t make it.”
“Matthew 14:31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” Cole put a hand on her shoulder to comfort her. “God will bring us through if it be His will.”
“And if it isn’t His will?” Cali was still nervous.
Cole shrugged, “Then I guess I’ll see you in heaven.”
As strange as it sounded, the thought comforted Cali. Death wasn’t the end to her, she had eternal salvation in heaven. And if God wanted them to continue their journey, He would make a way.
They set out with nothing but the clothes on their backs. It was night so the desert was cool but not silent. Whispers came among the wind against the sand. Lies that filled their minds with doubt. But Cole pushed on, following the stars towards the oasis and dragging Cali along with him.
When the sun rose, they camped on the dark side of a sand dune, following the shade until there was none at the height of noon. They walked only at night and rested during the day and by the time they were too tired to move they weren’t even halfway to the oasis. Cali laid in the sun shaking from heat exhaustion. Her lips were cracked and bleeding and not a drop of sweat coated her skin. Cole held her in his arms and prayed for a miracle.
“Luke 22:41-44 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Cole’s voice cracked, “God thank you for sending your son to die for us. We know that eternity welcomes us because we believe He died and rose again for our sins. Now I ask of you please save us. If not both of us, let Cali live to carry your word to the ends of the earth. Allow her to go on. But not my will but your will be done.”
As Cole finished his eyes grew heavy and the sun beat down on him, beckoning him into a deep sleep. With his eyes fluttering closed Cole heard a shout that sounded far away. Then the darkness took him.