Excerpt from "The Meridian 8"
The explosion was so violent, even at a mile away, it hurled Taylor Cerutti out of her bed.As the young antiquarian tried to wake and understand what had thrown her on the floor, a second explosion rocked downtown Jerusalem. As powerful as the first, the floor of the hotel room shook, causing her to bounce uncontrollably into the nightstand, banging her head."What the hell was that?" Taylor mumbled to herself as she stood, both her head and posterior throbbing. She stumbled, still half asleep, to the window and pulled back the curtains. Dawn was just arriving to the ancient city and the shadows still held the light at bay. To her left, barely in view, she could see a column of smoke piercing the yellow tinted sky.Taylor rubbed the bump on the side of her head, trying to remember what was in the smoke's direction. She gasped as a realization came to her, "Oh my god, it couldn't be."The sound of sirens built in the background. They began intermittingly and increased as each second ticked by. They were closing toward downtown. As much as she prayed she was wrong, deep down she knew where the emergency vehicles were heading: The Church of the Holy Sepulchre.Taylor's cell phone rang. Still dazed from her abrupt waking, it took her several rings to find where it had bounced onto the floor."This is Taylor.""Oh my goodness, Taylor! Are you okay?" asked the panicked voice of her research assistant, Quisa Firah."Quisa.... Yes..... I got tossed out of bed, but everything seems okay." Though she verbalized she was fine, Taylor still felt groggy and a part of her wondered if she was in the middle of a nightmare. "What's happened?""An explosion in the Old City. I think it might be the Mosque of the Ascension."Taylor closed her eyes. The Mosque or Church of the Ascension, was another name for the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the place where she had been studying over the past six weeks. The very same place where she'd been shown a gateway to another world. Taylor opened her eyes and once again crossed to the window. The sky was brightening as the sunrise took hold, but the column of smoke was still there and it was expanding.