It had been a year since this particular room had been full of children. Still, the silence felt odd and unsettling. The walls were still covered with brightly colored bulletin boards and childish works of art. Even odder, perhaps, was the yellowed sheet Melody had just picked up off the ladybug beanbag chair in the center of the room.
"I've never seen anything like this." Melody held the paper, by its crinkled edges, in front of her, putting it up to the sunlight streaming through the classroom window.
"What? What is it?" Jake peered over her shoulder.
She shrugged. "I'm not positive, but it looks like a page from something--much older, it seems, than this building, much less the epidemic that isolated it for so long."
The swirling script and elegance of the primary lettering certainly harkened to an earlier time. Yet, the scribbles above the script and in the margins were just as certainly modern.
"But the other writing is in marker." Jake spoke what Melody had only pondered. "And markers have only been around for 50 years or so."
Melody nodded. "What would something like this be doing in an elementary school classroom? And why would someone write, in marker nonetheless, over script like this?"
Jake shrugged and reached for the paper. "Let me see."
"Just by the edges, Jake. This looks extremely fragile." She glided her hands toward him, her fingers scarcely keeping the document from falling to the floor.
He rolled his eyes and slipped the page from her fingers. "I've been at this longer than you have. I'll be careful. Trust me."
Melody scanned the rest of the room. Nothing else remarkable.
On a hunch she lifted up the beanbag. Her eyes sparkled and widened.
"Jake: more papers." Her voice was scarcely above a whisper. "Several dozen at least."
She looked toward him to find that his eyes had not left the paper in his hand. "I know what this is."
Melody leaped toward him. "What do you mean? What is it?"
Jake shook his head. "A handwritten text from Foxe's Book of Martyrs.
Melody's eyes shot open. "Seriously?"
"I recognize this paragraph." He pointed to a spot near the top of the page.
She read it over Jake's shoulder. Though it had been a few years since she'd read the book, the words before her certainly seemed familiar.
"Wow. Do you think this is an original manuscript?"
"Could be." He handed the paper to Melody. "Did I hear you say you found more pages?"
Melody pointed at the pile on the floor. Jake knelt down in front of them, spread them out, and looked at the flowing letters, and marker scribbles, on each one.
She reached down and picked up several of the pages, focusing this time on the more recently penned script.
Must be crazy
Where did he get this hope?
These statements, and others like them, were scribbled on nearly every page.
Melody broke the silence. "Sounds like she was searching, doesn't it?"
"Sure does." Jake looked up and chuckled. "And if I'm reading this right, she may have found just what she was looking for."
Jake gave Melody the first sheet they'd found and pointed to some large lettering in the right margin.
I want what he had.
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