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Thursday, June 8, 2023

The Alexandria Project by Kate Tompkins - Part Seven


“Pity we aren’t in dramatic arts,” Brent said, watching the dolphin fountain scroll by. “We could at least turn it into a movie.”

“Maybe we should sell it to the Kessler twins for their travelogue,” I said. The Library steps filled the screen, and then the dark interior of the round room—except that it wasn’t dark. I leaned forward to get a better look at the murals painted on the walls.

Nate pushed a button. A close-up appeared. “I knew you’d be running around at night, so I put digital enhancers on the camera.”

“Could be a paper or two in those,” I said. “Pity my major’s literature and not art, but maybe Georgia could.” I groaned as the book room appeared. All those scrolls. Even one could have made my entire career. Even a fragment of one.

“What the hell?” Brent said. On the screen, the two Roman soldiers set fire to the pile of scrolls. They had been shadows to us, but thanks to Nate’s enhancements, we could see their faces. They looked familiar. “Zoom in,” Brent ordered Nate.

The two heads filled the screen—Professor Rickett, the Classics Department Chair, and Professor Emeritus Robinson, both looking considerably younger.

“Deeble must have had a working time machine years ago,” said Nate. "He’s good friends with Robinson. He’s deliberately sent us all on the wrong track.”

“So that’s how they got their hands on the Falconetti Scrolls,” said Georgia. “But why destroy the Library?”

“Because the Romans didn’t,” I guessed. “They knew the Library had been burnt, so they torched it themselves to ensure the value of their books. Supply and demand.”

“But why would Deeble keep his time machine secret?” Nate asked. “He could have had a Nobel prize.”

“He’s an accessory to arson,” said Brent. “A crime against humanity. And he’s married to Professor Rickett’s sister.”

“What do we do?” Georgia set her beer mug on the coffee table with a loud thunk. “We can’t let them get away with this!”

“We go back earlier and stop them,” Brent said. Georgia and I sat up straighter.

“No,” said Nate. “That might change history.”

“We'd be fixing it,” said Brent. “Not changing anything. Of course, we’d still have to get back to Egypt.”

 * * * * *

In the end, we decided to confront them. As Dr. Rickett was Georgia’s faculty adviser, she sent him a note asking to speak with him about her fourth year project. She attached a close-up of him and Dr. Robinson setting the scrolls on fire.

He called that afternoon to set up a meeting for the following evening at the Faculty Club.

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