Marcus Paulus was a 33 year old Roman Christian. He was tall, handsome, and a good athlete. He liked to compete in the sports of the time like chariot racing. His parents were Christians so he was raised as a Christian. Marcus lives in Rome with his wife, Maria Juliana, and his 10 year old son Iohannes (pronounced Yohannes).
Marcus was cheerful but sometimes worried because of the persecution of the Christians. When he was 32, the great fire in Rome broke out. He had heard about how Nero did nothing to stop it and then blamed it on the Christians. He saw his Christian friends, men, women, and even children, being rudely taken away to the magistrate to be judged and then put to death if they did not worship the Roman gods.
Marcus and his family hoped that the persecution would end and the Christians would be free to walk the streets again. Meanwhile they continued pray for the end to come soon.
This story takes place in the past, in AD 64, a month after the Great Fire. It was the end of summer.
Marcus and his family lived in Italy in Rome. Rome was then a very busy city with traders and merchants coming from all over the world. Other than these foreigners, there were shopkeepers and craft workers that kept the city going. The poorer citizens called plebeians, plebs for short, did most of the work. The nastiest work was for the slaves.
Marcus and his family were part of the upper class citizens called patricians. He owned many slaves and a large domus or house in Rome. For pastimes, many Romans went to the Games in the afternoon. Some examples were the awful gladiator fights and feeding the Christians to wild beasts. Marcus never went to the gladiator fights.
The city was safe for anybody but the Christians, who were being heavily persecuted. Christians were hunted out and killed.
The weather was warm with moderate rain fall. Almost always there is a slight breeze blowing. The winters are temperate with snow. Rome was truly a wonderful place to live.
In the Roman army there was a soldier who was a Christian, too. His name was Antonius but since he had not told anybody about being a Christian he was known by the name Hectorus.
Antonius was 35 years old. He was tall, handsome, and had brown eyes. He loved athletic sports, especially horseback riding. He was married to a beautiful 25 year old girl named Helena and they had one child, a girl named Christina who was a month old.
Antonius's family was a friend to Marcus's family. Every time the army went out to look for Christians he also went with the army, not to help, but to hinder. He would do his best to lead the soldiers away from where the Christians were, without being found out that he himself was one. So, often the soldiers were misled by him.
Antonius's parents were killed in the fire. He was their only child. He had been a Christian ever since he was 15. H e had kept it a secret from his pagan family for 10 years. He had become one after seeing how the Christians stood firm against opposition.
Antonius was firm and solemn. He took his job very seriously, for any day it could have meant death for him and his young family.
The passage started at the corner of Marcus' tablinum, the study. There was a floor board that lifted up to show the start of a catacomb. The board looked like a regular one except there was a tiny crack separating it from the other boards so it could be lifted up. Marcus had a small chest over it so the crack would not be seen.
This catacomb had been made four years before. Even though there had been no persecutions, the catacomb had been a meeting place for the Christians. It extended for miles. Many other passages were connected to it. So it was VERY easy to get lost in its winding lanes if the person does not have a map. Marcus had one in the small chest.
Marcus took off his sandals and lay down on the cold stone floor of the catacomb beside Maria. It had been a long and tiresome day. Iohannes was going to take the first watch. Soon Marcus was fast asleep.
Marcus woke with a start. He was standing in the middle of a hallway of an apartment by a window. His head spun as he looked out of the window. He was 20 floors high.
"How did I get so high up? And where am I?" he thought.
Just then a radio controlled airplane whizzed close by his head. He jumped back with a yell. The plane crashed into the wall and dropped to the ground. A tall teenage boy ran up to him.
"Are you alright? Did I hit you, sir?" asked the boy. Marcus shook his head, not understanding what the he said. But the boy took it to be that he was not hit and was speechless in surprise.
"Good. Most of the time I fly the plane higher than this but today I just decided to fly it lower. I was tired of flying it so close to the ceiling. I'm really sorry. By the way my name is Martin. May I ask yours?" the boy inquired while examining his plane.
When Marcus didn't answer Martin looked up from his undamaged plane and saw that the man was staring open mouth at the plane and guessed that the man was a foreigner. So he extended his hand to shake Marcus's hand.
As Marcus slowly extended his hand something began to shake him gently. The boy and the hallway disappear. He was slowly falling to the ground. He closed his eyes and opened them again to find Iohannes shaking him to wake him up for his watch.