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Thursday, June 8, 2023

The Alexandria Project by Kate Tompkins - Part Six


“Maybe our signal can’t be read through the building,” said Brent. “We should go back out.”

“Could be right,” I agreed. With the chest between us, we staggered into the hallway, then stopped in surprise. It was lit with a dancing yellow light coming from an opening halfway down—an opening we would have to pass to get out. Brent and I glanced at each other, shrugged, then continued down the hall at a faster pace.

Reaching the doorway, we saw and felt the source of the light. A pile of scrolls on the floor blazed with fire. Two Roman soldiers, carrying torches, were silhouetted by the flames. Even as we watched, they torched the scrolls on the shelves. I was stunned. According to legend, the Library had burned accidentally, caught up in the conflagration of Ptolemy’s fleet by Julius Caesar. But this was deliberate!

One of the soldiers glanced our way. Cursing, he drew his sword.

“Run!” Georgia cried, fleeing down the hall. Brent and I dropped the chest and followed, hands holding up our robes. Behind us, we heard the soldier trip over the chest. We scrambled into the round room, through the porch, down the steps, and into the woods.

We huddled around the receiver and again pushed the signal button. Clutching the staff, I watched the flashing green eyes. Come on, Nate, I pleaded. A steady yellow glow appeared, and we were in the comforting blackness.

Shortly thereafter, we climbed into the back of the SUV. “Sorry I couldn't pick you up right away,” said Nate. “I saw a car coming. What did you get?”

“A stupid piece of jewellery,” said Brent. “Some Roman soldiers chased us and we had to drop everything.”

“Can you send us back?” I said. “Maybe an hour or two earlier?” Nate shook his head. “Between last night and tonight the battery’s done. The power pack takes 18 hours to recharge. We'll be halfway home by then. What about pictures?”

“I did get some film of the Library burning,” said Georgia.

“You got that on film?” I said. “That’s something at least.”

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