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Awakenings Chapter 1: Dreams, Page 6

Turning towards the racks of bottles, he pulled another bottle off and blew the dust off the label, to see the words Materia Prima Quinta Essentia Animadverto 1870.  Joe was at a loss, having flunked Latin in high school. Replacing the bottle, he turned to the chest and pulled open one of the drawers.  Here he found lots of bottles in various sizes, colors and shapes.  Most had labels that had dried, and in some cases were lying on the bottom of the drawer next to the bottles.  Some of the bottles were engraved.  All had either wooden or Glass stoppers.  Some appeared to be filled with liquids and some had granular material or powder.  He dared not touch these at the moment for fear of destroying a label which might be helpful later on.  Before closing the drawer, he remembered his digital camera and snapped a few photos with the help of the flash.

Turning back to the book shelf, he systematically used the camera to catalogue the titles, being afraid at this point that to even pull one of these off of the shelf might cause it to disintegrate.  He checked the view screen in the back of the camera after each photo with satisfaction, seeing that the pictures were accurately capturing the lettering.

Joe then turned to the desk.  First, he used a whisk broom to carefully sweep the dust off of the wooden desk top.  Reaching inside, he pulled out the top volume of rawhide stitching bound paper and carefully placed it on the desk top.  Very carefully, he pulled open the heavy leather cover to reveal the same page of a few words of Latin script that he had looked at a few nights back.  This he carefully photo documented.  Turning the page revealed a full page of script unlike anything he had seen before, not that he was familiar with anything but American English.  Without understanding what he was looking at, he photographed the next several pages.

Closing the book and replacing it in the desk, he counted several more similar volumes carefully stacked inside the desk.  By this point Joe was sure that this secret chamber was the work of his great grandfather.

Turning to the rows of barrels, he could see that each was engraved with letters, some of which looked like the Greek mathematical symbols he remembered from his college days.  Carefully, he reached under the first one and rocked it gently, to here the swishing sound of liquid.  He noticed that each had a wooden bung.  A dust covered wine thief sat on a shelf above the barrels.

Za blows dust off bottleShining the lights to the back of the chamber, he noticed what might be a door partially concealed by the paneling of this room.  Walking back to this door, he spotted a heavily oxidized brass handle.  There was no padlock or visible means of fastening this door.  Joe pulled and pushed on this door but it would not budge.  Fearing breaking the paneling and compromising the conditions that had so well preserved this chamber, he stopped trying to open this door.

Turning back to the rack of bottles, he pulled out yet another one and saw that it was full of liquid.  Blowing the dust off of the label, he could just make out the words Paracelsus Turbo Medius 1871.  This bottle he slipped into his bag.  Looking at his watch, he realized that he had less than an hour before his family would return from church.  Joe recovered his lanterns, closed the door to the chamber as he left, climbed back to the surface through the rubble pile, and whistled for Porto.

Porto came galloping up, and from his smell had obviously found a skunk. Joe headed off to one of the areas where he knew he had a very small leak in one of the water lines.  Fixing this would get himself and his tools dirty and at least partially erase his white lie to Elise.

Continued ...    Back to Page 5