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Thursday, June 8, 2023

The Alexandria Project by Kate Tompkins -Part Eleven


We slept off the effects of the celebratory Greek brandy the next morning, and had a leisurely breakfast on the patio. “What shall we do today?” asked Georgia, stretching lazily.

“The museum,” I said. “The last time I spent several hours looking at their display on the Library. It was pretty cheesy, they had a button you could push to watch it go up in flames.”

“Good idea,” Nate agreed. “I'd like to see what effect we’ve had.”

It was hard not to race up the museum steps. What wonderful scrolls might now be on exhibit, lost masterpieces of Greek drama, Egyptian medicine, Roman literature—it would be a life’s work just to read it. I herded everyone down the corridor to the Library exhibit. It was wall-to-wall school children, there with their teacher, chattering excitedly in Arabic.

They still had the same diorama, right down to the miniature fleet positioned in the harbour. The teacher held up his hand for silence, then pushed a button on the display. The ships caught on fire, then the buildings on the dock. Then the Library. As I stared in disbelief, flames engulfed the dome.

We found our way into the museum's courtyard and sat down heavily on the edge of the reflecting pool. “What happened?” I asked.

Nate shrugged. “It’s as if we didn’t do anything.” He stared into the pool, stirring the water with his hand. “Like we had no more effect than these drops of water.” Then he laughed. And laughed. And laughed.

“Maybe we should take you back to the hotel,” Georgia suggested. “It’s awfully warm today.”

Nate shook his head. “I’m fine. But do you realize what this means? We can’t change history—what’s already happened will still happen, regardless of what we do. We’ve discovered a new law of time travel!”

“So it’s not our fault the Library burned,” I said.

“And you’ll be rich and famous,” said Brent.

Nate grinned. “I’ll have a great thesis. And this means time travel is safe. Classicists can travel back and observe—the field will really open up.”

Georgia pulled out her phone. “Deeble, Robinson, and Rickett will be relieved to hear this. We’d better call them.”

I thought back to our dinner at the Faculty Club. They’d looked pretty well-fed and self-satisfied for people who had been ‘living with the guilt all these years.’ “Naah,” I said. “They can read all about it in Nate’s thesis. Let's hit the beach.”

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