The Newly Weds
For newly weds Tom and Marie, this would be their first real home, much better than the cramped apartment they had become used to. The property had been advertised on an internet real estate website and they had arranged directly with the vendors to view the house. The directions to “Bardew”, the name of the house, were a bit vague and it was off the beaten track .It was dark by the time they arrived but then night falls early towards the end of October in this part of the country. “Thank God we’re here,” said Marie. “Yeah,” said Tom, staring through the windscreen towards the house at the end of the driveway. “Don’t you just feel it?” he added. “Feel what?” asked Marie. “This place, the character of it, the history of it, the attraction of it.” “Yeah whatever,” she replied, “never mind the history let’s concentrate on the present.” They were greeted at the front door by the owners Jack and Agnes. Tom was pleasantly surprised as Jack had sounded much younger on the telephone than his seventy plus years. Agnes had the eyes of a younger woman, particularly when she smiled. Walking through the door of “Bardew” was like stepping back through time to the early 1930s. After a brief look around, Tom was suitably impressed but Marie was a bit more cautious.
“Don’t let the style put you off honey,” said Agnes,”Tom and I like it this way, kinda reminds us of when we were younger, just like you two.” “Listen up,” said Jack, “we were about to eat as we thought you folks weren’t coming. So, we’d be honoured if you would join us for dinner.”
Marie looked at Tom and said “no” with her eyes but he heard himself say that they would be happy to dine with them. No one remarked that there was no smell of food cooking but stranger still that there was no smell at all in this old house. Dinner was served in a short while and was peppered with much small talk about the house and about the young couple. Tom was smitten by old Jack’s intimate knowledge of the history of the house and the surrounding area. Marie was more hesitant, more wary of things in an instinctual way that only women really understand. “How about an after dinner drink?” suggested Jack. “Oh, yes” agreed Agnes “go get the good wine from the cellar Jack.” Tom was delighted as he fancied himself as a bit of a wine connoisseur. Marie reluctantly agreed as she would probably have to drive back to the city.“Go get the wine goblets, Agnes, the ones from the old world,” shouted Jack as he made his way to the cellar.
What a quaint turn of phrase—the old world—thought Tom to himself. Agnes returned with a set of four wine goblets that looked as if they had been carved from stone. They were ornate in their simplicity. The wine soon arrived and the rich red ruby contents of the bottle were emptied into the goblets. “I think this moment calls for a few words,” said Agnes looking in the direction of the prospective buyers, “especially as you seem such a nice young couple who would appreciate this house and everything in it, well that is if you decide to move in.”
“Yes,” agreed Jack, “a few words. Well, what can I say? The goblets you hold are of the earth and from the earth just like the wine in them. The goblets represent knowledge and the wine signifies pleasure or happiness. So Agnes and I hope that you will be happy here knowing all there is to know about this house. We like to think of ourselves as the guardians of “Bardew” and everything in it. We hope you will feel the same way.” They raised their glasses and drank the dark secret liquid within—drinking a long, deep mouthful. Most unusual, thought Tom, but captivating. Marie, who had only intended to take a sip or two, drank her fill and felt the ripples of the wine seep through her veins and capillaries down her spine and legs in an almost orgasmic fashion. The old couple watched them studiously for what seemed like ages but in reality was a short period of time. Over some further small talk, Jack and Agnes explained why they were moving. Although they had no children of their own, they were going back to Israel, to extended family. They explained that they were Christians and were members of the Coptic Church, an ancient sect going back to the time of Christ.
It was time to leave and they said their farewells and that they would be in touch about the house. However, much
to Marie’s annoyance, Tom couldn’t get the car started, and to make matters worse, a heavy rain began to fall. The closest repair shop was ten miles away in town and there was no point in phoning this late on a Friday evening. And Jack didn’t have a car of his own that could be used.
“You’ll have to stay the night and we’ll sort it out in the morning,” insisted Jack.
“Of course you’ll stay, “ added Agnes “I’ll make up the guest room. It’s no bother. Besides, we could do with the company” Marie didn’t want to stay but at this stage it was pointless to do otherwise.
“We’ll stay on one condition,” said Tom, “that we can sample some more of your fine wine.” They all laughed. Marie smiled at Tom for a brief second to convey her agreement in one of those unspoken, intimate moments that passes between two people who are close. What the hell, they had no work to get up for on Saturday and no family ties to worry about. More wine flowed.
As the evening wore on Tom and Jack became lost in deep conversation about ancient mysteries, the Holy Grail, Jewish Kabbala, pagan religions and other similar matters. Marie and Agnes spoke mostly about the house and its furnishings while all the while the body and senses of the young woman were absorbing the pleasures of the wine.
Sleep came easy for both Marie and Tom. Her body was tired and she slept a deep restful sleep with no dreams. For Tom, his mind was tired with all the information that had been given to him. He had a troubled sleep with dreams of strange foreboding and recurring images of a barren cross and a bloody shroud. Tom awoke first the next morning. He slipped on a dressing gown that Jack had left out for him. Half awake, half asleep, he went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. On the kitchen table, he came across a large old fashioned key and an envelope beside it with his name on it.
Lifting the key Tom remarked how warm it felt. He was about to open the envelope when a piercing scream from above filled the entire house. Still half asleep, he ran to the staircase. It seemed to take him longer to climb the steps than he expected. Running into the bedroom, he found Agnes still screaming and yet somehow it was not Agnes. She saw him and collapsed on the floor. He ran to her and cradled her in his arms. The eyes opened briefly and in that instance he knew that this aged woman was none other than his young wife, Marie. She spoke to Tom in her normal voice, a voice that did not match the body of the woman in his arms. And yet, this was Marie, his Marie. At this point, he noticed his own hands twisted and knotted like those of an old man. With trepidation, he forced himself to look in a mirror. Staring back at him was Jack but he was looking through his own eyes. Inside, he knew he was Tom but part of his consciousness was also that of Jack and of other more ancient people.
He retched violently and lapsed into a state of unconsciousness beside the inert body of Marie.
He came around much later that same day. After a few minutes lying awake on the floor and examining himself the reality of the situation dawned on him. He roused Marie/Agnes and comforted her. Then he remembered the key and the letter still in the pocket of his dressing gown.
The letter inside read as follows- “YOU ARE THE GUARDIANS OF “BARDEW” AND ITS GREATEST SECRET. THE KEY NOW IN YOUR POSSESSION IS THE KEY OF THE SECRET KNOWLEDGE OF THIS HOUSE AND ITS DYNASTY. IN A SMALL ROOM OFF THE MAIN CELLAR YOU WILL FIND SOME ANCIENT TEXTS AND A CASKET WITH THE WORDS “BAR DIEU,” INSCRIBED ON IT. ‘BAR’ FROM THE HEBREW WORD MEANING ‘SON OF’ AND ‘DIEU’ FROM THE FRENCH WORD MEANING GOD. IN OTHER WORDS, ‘SON OF GOD’ YES, THE HOLY GRAIL OF THE ANOINTED ONE, THE ONE THEY CALLED JESU CHRISTOSIS IN YOUR GUARDIANSHIP. BE ASSURED HE DID NOT DIE ON THE CROSS THAT FATEFUL FRIDAY IN CALVARY. HE SURVIVED AND WAS SPIRITED OUT OF PALESTINE AND MADE HIS WAY ONWARDS TO SETTLE IN SOUTHERN FRANCE WHERE HE LIVED A FRUITFUL LIFE AND DIED A NATURAL DEATH. THE CASKET CONTAINS HIS EARTHLY REMAINS. STUDY THE ANCIENT TEXTS THEY WILL REVEAL ALL. THEY WILL GUIDE YOU TOWARDS HIS SECOND COMING. GOD HAS CHOOSEN YOU FOR THIS TASK.”
The enormity of what had happened to them took months, if not years, to comprehend. They read and studied the ancient texts and believed.
But all that was more than seventy years ago and their period of stewardship was almost over. Besides, “Bardew” was up for sale and a prospective young couple were due to view the property.