Encounter at Muxnar

mdina, malta

Street in Mdina, Malta – © Google 2014

Emily Becker followed the old Maltese man down a little-known side street into a shop. The walled city had existed since the Bronze Age, but the young archeology student was visiting because of her passion for the Apostle Paul. The Apostle’s history was tied to Malta, though not to this small city.

Inside, the man excitedly displayed what looked like a mirror, except the glass was black instead of reflective.

“So what’s this?” She was suddenly aware she was alone with a stranger and her tour guide didn’t know where she was.

“You see Shaul. Look deep.” He used the Apostle’s Hebrew name.

Emily drew closer to the mirror.

“Touch.”

She held up her hand, and it was as if the mirror reached out and grabbed her.

Emily turned and she was standing near Muxnar Reef in a rainstorm. Strangely dressed men were struggling to make shore including a middle-aged Jewish man.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw writing challenge. The idea is to use a Google street maps image and location as the inspiration for creating a piece of flash fiction no more than 150 words long. My word count is 147.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Mdina, Malta. Of course for perspective, I looked up the city’s history as well as the general background on Malta. If I had a bucket list of places I wanted to visit, Malta would be on it.

Someone commented on this story that the concept of a dark mirror leading to other places and times might make an interesting series. As I was pondering the Pegman challenge this morning, I thought that it would be interesting if the magic of the dark mirror randomly appeared in different places across the world.

In this case, an old shopkeeper in Malta happens, for a time, to acquire a mirror possessed by the dark magic and realizes its potential. Perhaps the mirror supplies a destination depending on the user’s desires. In her fantasies, Emily has always wanted to meet the Apostle Paul. According to this researcher, the most likely site of Paul’s shipwreck on Malta as recorded in the Book of Acts, chapters 27 and 28, is “just outside St Thomas’ Bay, near a dangerous sandbar called the Muxnar Reef.”

I had wanted to write a longer tale, but 150 words only goes so far. Now we’ll never know what happens to Emily next.

Oh, Malta has two official languages, one being Maltese, which is a semitic language, and the other being English, so Emily would be able to communicate with the shopkeeper. Talking to the Jewish apostle, his fellow captives, and ancient Roman soldiers might be another story, however.

To read other tales based on the prompt, go to InLinkz.com.

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42 thoughts on “Encounter at Muxnar

    • Yes, it is. I used to know someone who visited Malta on business and the airport gift shops are drowning in fake Maltese Falcons. The online gaming industry also thrives there because of tax breaks.

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  1. What a great idea, a dark mirror that shows you the scenes you most long to see. That could be very valuable — and dangerous, in the wrong hands. Definitely enough meat there for a longer story! I like how you tied it in with biblical history and the image, too.

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    • It doesn’t just show you want you want to see, it takes you there. Imagine a young archeology student with an interest in New Testament history suddenly thrust into the early first century CE during a terrible storm only to see men who died 2,000 years ago struggling in the surf to gain shore, one of them being the Apostle Paul. A dream come true and nightmare all in one.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I may at some point, but recently, I’ve been writing pieces for open submissions hoping to get some of my stuff actually published, so time is a tad limited. If I could get some stories published (a novel would be great, but I’m not there yet) and build an audience outside the confines of this blog, then maybe I could hope to put together some of these other stories for public purchase and consumption.

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  2. Great concept, James. I’m optimistic for her safety because the shopkeeper knew she would see Shaul, therefore he knew of the power of the artefact, therefore somebody has tried it previously and brought back word of what it does. You’ve constructed the story nicely, too.

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    • The magic of the mirror is ancient, so there are many legends, especially in older cultures, so yes, the shopkeeper knew. The question is whether he intends to use the mirror benevolently or otherwise?

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      • I seem to recall a similar black mirror device in the StarGate TV series. You didn’t indicate clearly the size of your mirror, but the one which sent Daniel Jackson to an alternate reality was at least 1.5 meters high and perhaps 0.75 meters wide — a full-length standing mirror.

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      • You’re right, I didn’t. In my mirror’s case, you don’t necessarily have to be able to fit the height and width of the object. Just touching the “glass” will get you to the other side.

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      • It would require a lot of research to get the “voice” right, especially if I introduced a non-recorded event into this life, like a person from the future.

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      • Certainly a fair bit of praying, for sure. I have written in the disciples “voices” following biblical events for the diocese I live in, with research into the region at the time, but I must admit I have never tackled Paul. I am not sure why. Perhaps I should?

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      • Definitely, I think the thing they feared was that they tasked me with using my writing skills (!!) of first person perspective (something I have not ventured to show here on this blog as I wanted to move move move away from that area and grow into other areas) and really get inside Jesus’ head – being un-ordainied they felt it might be deemed hypocritical especially as my stories were to be used to help train people being called to serve.

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      • If you’re writing stories for the purpose of training within a particularly religious framework, I agree you’d have to be very careful. In my opinion, writing Biblical fiction requires quite a bit of care anyway, but in my case, I have a bit more flexibility, since I don’t have an “employer” who is calling the shots.

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      • Exactly, James, you see this dilemma well. I hope you don’t mind me telling you this, hope it doesn’t feel boastful. to me it came up naturally, even spiritually, as it is linked to another blogger I follow.

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      • I don’t mind at all. I think we’ve all felt “in the zone” when writing one piece or another and for whatever reasons. If you don’t mind saying, who is the other blogger?

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      • Indeed a problem it is, to emulate the “voice” of someone whose primary record of expression appears in written communications (i.e., his responsa letters). Did he speak differently than he wrote? Most people do, especially under extemporaneous stressful conditions like being pulled ashore after a shipwreck. Our only clue in the apostolic writings about his verbal speech patterns is the record in Acts of his public statements during visits to a few cities and their synagogues, and his interviews before the Roman authorities Felix, Festus, and Agrippa (which likely would have been just a bit more formal than ordinary speech). Some of those public statements probably were in Hebrew, such as those when he defended himself before Jewish community leaders (including the high priest of whose stature he was unaware initially). Others likely were in Koine Greek. What’s more, while his speech under any circumstances likely would have reflected his thought-characteristics as a rabbinic scholar, the primary influence in the situation *you* selected to envision would have been his need to express himself to his rescuers on Malta, probably in Koine Greek though possibly in some Latinate dialect in use by sailors headed to a port near Rome or by residents on the isle of Malta itself which is closer to Rome than to Greek territory. The choice or necessity of language tends to determine or delimit one’s expressive capabilities and style of voice, as do the circumstances in which one speaks. I’m skeptical that even emulating one of the English translations of his variously-flavored statements in Acts could capture his style accurately.

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      • Probably not, PL, but then how could anyone really tell? That said, I would certainly have to ponder the idea for a time if I were considering including the living, breathing Paul/Shaul in any of my fictional works, and in this case, I stopped just short of it.

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  3. I, too, got hung up on the Apostle’s shipwreck off Malta… funny, it’s exactly what we talked about in Sunday School this week as well… must be in the lectionary. Anyway, Loved your take on the story… Jelli~on the lam

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