The Puzzle - Tales from the Age - Max’s Story Part II
Alice held the jigsaw puzzle piece up with her little, chubby fingers and looked up at Max for help.
“Look ... It fits here.”
Max guided her tiny fist to the puzzle on the floor and putting gentle pressure on his baby sister’s hand, pressed down so that the piece snapped into place.
“See look, you can see half the picture now, Alice, “ he said.
She stared at the incomplete puzzle, laid out on the plywood board on the study carpet for a few seconds and then, face flushed pink, looked up at him in childish wonder with widened clear, blue eyes and smiling with glee, clapped her little hands.
Max adored his baby sister. Though she could barely string a few words together, there seemed to be a common understanding between them and, quite frankly, sometimes she seemed to make a lot more sense than anyone else in the family.
Alice had come along just as immovable and entrenched battle lines had been drawn between himself and older sister Milly. Milly was NOT to blare Justin Beber music all day when their parents were out! She was NOT to show his baby pictures to her giggling friends at the infuriating parties she held at home! And she was NOT to enter his room when he was out to, “borrow,” his cellphone and change the ring tone to, “Wouldn’t it be nice,” by the Beech Boys or anything else!
She had a few rules of her own but he couldn’t remember them.
Max helped Alice, still chuckling with cheerfulness with the next puzzle piece. She was the best thing that had ever happened to his family, as far as he was concerned. He gave her a little hug as she set out to fit the remaining pieces scattered over the plywood board. The puzzle that he had chosen had been Milly’s, years before, when she was Alice’s age. It was just right for Alice, a magical fairy scene, in what he imagined was a woodland glade.
Looking at it, for some reason, made him think about the last time he had seen Gina Llewelyn. She had been perched on the floor of the school art room, at break time, her back rested against the wall, behind, while she waited for Mr Jones, the art teacher to arrive.
“A good read?” Mr Jones had quizzed, glancing at the book she was reading, as he made his way into the room with a portfolio case in one hand and a pile of large, loose paper sheets in the other.
“Magic,” she had replied.
Forget the book, Max, had thought, gazing at her enchanting eyes, “magic,” was precisely what she was. Not worth wasting time over, though, he thought as he handed Mr Jones his late assignment and moved on. She’d never take any notice of him. She was the star of year 10 and he was the one that people laughed at because his view of the world seemed so crazy to everyone. Oh well, that was life. He wasn’t going to change his views and try to fit in, even for the coolest girl in the year.
All this thinking about magic, though, made him remember the findings that he had made on Fireworks night (Max’s Story Part 1)
The candy-sweet, innocent scene in the jigsaw, that Alice was making, portrayed a mystical magic with pretty sparkles, kind fairy folk and happy wishes granted .
It seemed, however, that there might be a different kind of magic, a black magic. It was said that it was performed by witches and others and Max had discovered, on bonfire night, that King James I had executed any found guilty of witchcraft for practicing it. Could such practices have had a huge impact on past history? Max was thinking of the Gunpowder plot, in particular. Further, could they continue to be the hidden hand manoeuvring geopolitical events in the world today?
It would be his job, he decided, over the next months, to gather the information needed to develop an informed view on the matter. It was a puzzle, really. A bit like the one that Alice, happily murmuring to herself in the corner, was making, except as the pieces came together, the picture the puzzle formed might not end up being so pretty. He didn’t underestimate the time it would take to gather the pieces together. He would start as soon as Mum got back from shopping with Milly.
To be honest, to Max, it seemed magical that humans were on this planet at all. Life, in itself, he reasoned, was a form of magic. Where did we come from? How did the universe form? They were things that humans didn’t understand.
Perhaps, he thought, the definition of magic was something that happens, that at this point in history we do not have an explanation for. A bit like electricity, he reasoned. People would have thought it was magic, once, but when they understood why a light bulb lit up when connected by a wire to an electrical source, the magic was no more because it had become science
Was it true, he wondered, that injurious things were happening to the world because of magic? Was it true that, so called, witchcraft was having a really bad, and sometimes disastrous, effect on the planet? If there was any truth, at all, in these musings, then the process needed to be broken down and understood so that the magic could be turned into science. That way, the negative effects could be blocked and what was once termed magic could be used to do good things for humanity. Perhaps?
His reflections were cut short. Alice was pulling his jumper sleeve and pointing. He looked down to see that she had done a grand job. There was just one piece missing from the jigsaw.
“Have you found the last piece, Alice?” He asked.
She shook her little head.
“I hope it’s not lost,” he said crawling around the study floor, “Don’t cry Alice, we’ll keep looking”
...It was half an hour later, after Mum and Milly had returned, that the missing piece was found under a sofa cushion.
“Look what I’ve found, Alice.” Her tear stained face light up.
“Do you want to put the last piece in place?”
Her child like joy, at completing the jigsaw was contagious. Mankind was being held to ransom by a dark force and a tiny number on planet earth, who seemed to be in possession of the secret knowledge that prevents the game of life from being played on a level playing field....magic, he thought seemed to be the key. There had to be an antidote to this gross inequality. What would it be like if everyone had that secret knowledge? What if the puzzle of life had been solved? What if the final jigsaw piece had been found?
Leaving the now joyfully simpering Alice in the competent hands of Mum and Milly, he went upstairs to his room to continue his quest. In a world of perpetual war, overt poverty and youth drowned in student debt, the field needed to be leveled. If no one else would tackle it, then he would.
His findings on Bonfire night would be the place to start. Certain writings claimed that King James I was well known for burning, so called, witches at the stake and believed in magic. Royalty, in general, did, actually, or so Max soon discovered. He wondered at what point in history the royal bloodline had gained an interest in magic and he spent hours trying to find the answer. Irritatingly, however, most of the things he was reading just didn’t hit the spot. It was not until the early hours of the next morning that he came upon a You-Tube video that his gut feeling told him he should pay attention to.
The video referenced the Holy Grail, which most people think of as the cup that Jesus Christ drank from at the Last Supper and that Joseph of Arimathea used to collect Jesus’s blood at his crucifixion.
The gist of the video was that the Holy Grail was not, in reality, a cup. It was, actually a set of old scripts, parchments and documents which French aristocrats, who had formed what was known as the Knights Templar, had dug up from a site very close to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
The find, apparently, was a mix of documents written in Greek, Hebrew and Latin that documented, among other things, how to summon spirits and how to form a magic circle.
There was something about this that Max thought relevant to what he was searching for. The story he was reading was unfolding to reveal that, once the holy grail had been found, two members of the Knights Templar, Godfrey de Bullion and Hugh de Champagne, (the leader and founder of the Knights Templar,) both supremely wealthy French Noblemen, went on a world tour of all the royal courts of Europe, to teach the royals how to summon angels, demons and spirits.
If this were true, it was important, Max thought but It didn’t explain why James I was opposed to magic and witchcraft whereas other royals throughout history had not been. He yawned. Maybe the quest to find an answer to this was a task for another day.
Max pushed the laptop to one side and, hands behind his head, lay on the bed pondering the enormity of the project ahead. It was three thirty in the morning and he’d come upon just one thing that was interesting. He grimaced when he thought about how tired he would be at school next day. Everything about the world and our reality seemed to be muddled into huge, unmade jigsaw puzzle with many of the pieces missing. Logically, he knew that the missing pieces could only be found by researching and knocking on doors till the truth was found. Trouble was there were just so many myriads of facts and theories, some contradictory and some questionable to sift through, before he reached his final destination and he knew there would be many dead ends.
He realised that he would not be able to complete the feat on his own. There needed to be whole mass of people, who thought like him, to bring their findings together piece by piece to complete the jigsaw. Ultimately, it needed to be a group effort.
It was of no comfort for him to know that there was no one he knew that thought like him. They all watched the BBC and believed every word. He was alone in his quest for the truth. He closed his eyes, overcome by weariness and the hopelessness of it all.
There must be others out there. There must be.
By now, it was almost time to get up for school. He was fighting desperately against the fatigue but it was of no use. He knew that particular battle was one he was going to lose. Resignedly, he surrendered to the howling pangs of sleep and it was just before the last cares of the day were gently covered over by sleeps comforting cloak that a last, wistful resolve came and was gone in an instant.
One day he would find them.