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Thursday, June 8, 2023

The Alexandria Project by Kate Tompkins - Part Ten


Once again, the problem was funding. And once again the Kessler twins came to our rescue. They’d been quite pleased with the footage we’d shot before, and wanted more. With finances out of the way, we began planning our summer vacation. We managed to book the same suite in the same hotel. The car agency was out of the model we wanted, so gave us a free upgrade. And when we got to our suite, room service brought up afternoon tea on the house as a thank you for our repeat business. The ancient gods were smiling on us.

That night, we drove down to our previous point of departure. Nate sat in the back of the car for several minutes, checking readouts and power levels on the transmitter before he was satisfied. Climbing out, he once more reminded Georgia (sorry, Nikos, you get distracted too easily), “When this light turns green and starts flashing, flip that switch.” Then he grabbed the staff and pushed the start button.

Nothing happened. I noticed a slight distortion in the air around him, like a heat shimmer on a hot July noon. The distortion grew worse, then he was gone. We all looked at the transmitter. A steady yellow light shone from the console. That was supposed to mean Nate had made the trip safely, and was still within range. While Georgia monitored the transmitter, Brent and I popped the SUV’s hood, then disconnected the battery. If the police came by, we had an excuse for loitering—our battery was giving us trouble.

We assumed the transmitter would return Nate if he stopped the fire and restored history, but we didn’t know. He’d tried to explain about string theory and multiple universes, but it was all geek to me. Could history even be changed? I didn’t like to think so. Sweat evaporated off my body in the breeze blowing off the water, leaving me chilled. Shouldn’t Nate be signalling by now? I peeked at my phone. Only ten minutes had passed.

Brent paced up and down beside the car, whistling off-key.

“Stop that!” Georgia snapped. “You’re distracting me.” On the board, the yellow light turned green. All three of us reached for the switch, bumping heads. “Got it,” said Georgia with satisfaction.

The heat shimmer formed and there was Nate, covered in ash, with the fire extinguisher tucked under one arm. He held the staff up triumphantly in his other hand.

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