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Monday, June 12, 2023

The Alexandria Project by Kate Tompkins - Part Five


“Time’s running out,” Brent said. “We’d best find the Library, grab our books, and go.” He started around the fountain and we followed wordlessly. A short distance through the woods, and the building with the dome was in front of us. We climbed a brief flight of steps and passed through a pillared porch into a large round room. I saw couches and tables by the moonlight seeping through the windows. Between the windows, half-a-dozen darkened corridors led into the building's interior.

Georgia scanned the room with the staff, then turned to me. “Where to?”

“I don’t know. We’ll have to try the halls one by one until we find the bookshelves.”

“We’re going to need a light,” said Brent, eyeing the dark openings.

“Didn’t anyone bring one?” I said. They both shook their heads. “Probably just as well, it could be spotted. We’ll have to feel our way along. Let’s begin with that hall on the left.” I saw a faint gray patch at the other end; hopefully there would be enough light to find our way around. We started down the corridor, running our fingers along the wall on our right.

On reaching the doorway at the end, I grinned. Rows of shelves lined the two side walls, filled with scrolls. We had found one of the book rooms. Picking up a scroll reverently, I carried it over by the window, and gently unrolled the first few inches. Straining to read the characters in the dim light, I realized I was holding a copy of Euripide's play “The Trojan Women.” “This must be the literature room,” I said. “We’ve struck pure gold. Grab as many as you can, and put them...” I looked around, and saw a wooden chest sitting open against the back wall “ that armarium,” I continued triumphantly. “Then we can signal Nate and go.”

I plucked scrolls from the shelves at random and handed them to Georgia, who carried them to Brent for packing. In less than ten minutes, the chest held several dozen scrolls. I looked regretfully at those still remaining. I’d come back first chance I got. “Let’s go.”

Brent and I each held one of the handles of the chest, our other hand firmly grasping the staff. Georgia pushed the knob, and the griffin's eyes flashed green. I counted to myself. One, two, hundred. No response. Ice cubes slid up and down my back, as I told myself Nate was just driving around the block.

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