The frontispiece for What Our Eyes Have Witnessed. Polycarp’s gaze.
Photography by Danielle Tunstall. Model: Martyn Dalzell.
…her eyes opened to him, and he gazed inside the rooms of her heart, as he so often had gazed into the eyes of the walking dead. He saw rooms that were locked and chained; he could almost hear the screams behind those shut doors. He saw other rooms that were vast and wide as oceans; in one, her love and faith in him, a faith so profound and unshakable that it shook him to see it. In another room, the many moments when she’d held others in her arms and given them refuge, and the love, deep and maternal and fierce, that she bore now toward each of those she’d sheltered. He saw her loss at having borne no children, and her joy at having found children in the men and women who lived in the insula under Polycarp’s care. He saw her determination to preserve them – and him – a resolve that was like a hard, cold wall of rock in her heart.
That is Father Polycarp gazing into the eyes of Regina Romae, who is the heroine and probably the true protagonist of What Our Eyes Have Witnessed, a novel of the early martyrs’ encounter with the undead in second-century Rome.
But Polycarp doesn’t look into the souls of the living only.
Polycarp has a Gift. He can bring peace and rest to the restless dead. At his touch, each hungering corpse lies still at last. But to do this, Polycarp must first look into each one’s blind eyes and find the remnant of the soul caught within the shambling corpse. He must witness its secrets, its suffering — all that it loved and feared and regretted in its brief life. Only then can he absolve that soul and set it free. Only then will it cease to walk and feed.
Read more in this captivating installment in The Zombie Bible.