The EM-egg flew over the calm Mediterranean Sea late in the evening. The sun had set hours ago, and the stars sparkled in billions of constellations in the night sky. The smooth surface of the EM-egg reflected the light of the stars as it sped with a velocity of about 3500 km per hour, carried by electromagnetic energy over the black ocean. The starlight rushed like comets over the reflective surface of the machine. The oval object itself appeared like an artificial comet, a fallen star navigating its way through the night, heading for the EM-egg port of Alexandria.
Inside the EM-egg it was warm, and a comfortable yellow glow, like the light of the setting sun, lit up the oval white room in which eighteen passengers sat in six rows of three in cream-coloured leather chairs. Some of the travellers enjoyed a late dinner, others were lost in Bee-books, glowing brown, hovering in front of them. Others were in deep conversations about personal matters or plans for visiting the sights of the city, the cinema of science, the garden of literature and of course the great library of Alexandria. Or they talked with excitement about the week’s discovery by the trans-lingual biologist Cassiopeia. In an outpost zoology station in the savannah of Africa, she and her team had discovered a rare form of dialect used by elephants and hippos to communicate with each other. It was the most exciting discovery of the year and was already listed among the top two favourites for the ROE, the Republic of Europe Award. Professor Cassopeia would soon be among the elite of the translingual biologists.
The people on board looked excited for their arrival in Alexandria and were dressed in formal wear for this Queen of cities. Some wore dark blue, green or brown suits, made of artificial silk, comfortable but elegant material, imitating the colours of nature. The people of the Republic of Europe and the Republic of Alexandria always imitated the natural world when it came to fashion, as nature was the greatest designer of the world.
Among them sat one young scientist, a palaeontologist with brown- golden curly hair and a handsome face. His face however did not show any signs of excitement. The same was expressed in his clothing. He wore a cloudy grey jumper, black tight sweatpants, suggesting the lines of his muscular legs. His head rested on his left hand; his hazel eyes stared at the beige seat in front of him. He was lost in thoughts. His name was Helios Marewood and he was on his way to meet his mother in Alexandria. He hated her. And with her was Helios’s ex- boyfriend, Antonius Wiedergraben. He hated and loved him.
Helios thought about the last time he had seen them both. It was on his 27th birthday, two years ago. The most horrible birthday Helios had ever had. Back then, he had lived in Hamburg with Antonius and they had been working on a combined project, the theoretical brain capacity evaluated by the examples of allosaurus, iguanodon and diplodocus. His mother, a devoted SAM party member, as every Marewood was supposed to be, had come to convince Antonius to join her on a new palaeontological project and to convince her son to return to the SAM party.
Helios had broken all ties with the SAM party when he was twenty-two years old. At that time his mother and his father were the most celebrated of palaeontologists and theoretical time- travel scientists. However, during one of their dangerous experiments, something had gone terribly wrong and his beloved father had paid the ultimate price.
After his father’s death, when his mother did not show any signs of sorrow or remorse, instead just continued to work with even more passion, a democratic debate led by the TOL party had shut down his parents’ project. Helios broke all bonds with his mother, his family and the SAM party. He would never forgive his mother for being so reckless. He had read the reports of the experiment. If his mother had been more careful, his father would still be alive. He would still have a family. His mother had tried to reason with him.
He remembered it as if it was yesterday. They were in their ancestral family home. In the dark green living room with oil paintings dating back to the times of the Roman Empire. His mother was sitting on a dark brown leather sofa, dressed in a blood red gown, the colour of mourning, her raven black hair fell in curly waves down to her hips. She had just applied a dark red lipstick and sipped a gin and tonic in a crystal glass. She looked divine. Among SAM party members she was nicknamed as the Olympian of palaeontology, Queen of dinosaurs. Bored she just said: ‘We did everything according to theory. Your father knew the risks. Nuclear time travel experiments are enormously dangerous.’
Then she smiled at him and said with a kinder voice: ‘You should consider yourself lucky. I could have died too. You still have a mother who loves you.’
‘I do not believe you.’ His words were as cold as ice. ‘You never truly loved us. Neither father nor me. Your first and true love is science. If you had to kill me in order to travel back in time, you would gladly rip my heart from my chest.’
For a moment his mother considered his statement as if it was an interesting question about some science project. As if given the choice she would have to think about it.
‘And father knew as well. Once he told me that he loved you more than anything in the world. But over time, his love for you faded. You lost him. And I guess that’s also why he started spending so much time with that young time- travel theologist. What’s her name again? Alcmena I think it is.’ Helios said.
This was too much. Without hesitation his mother threw the gin and tonic across the room. The glass hit an oil painting depicting Hera throwing her child Hephaistos off Mount Olympus and exploded into a thousand crystals.
‘That was a good hit.’ Helios said.
‘I aimed for you.’ She said, stood up and left the room.
Helios left the house immediately after and had never heard from her from that day, until his birthday two years ago. And then again, the other day he had received a Bee-mail from the SAM party headquarters in Alexandria.
He did not know what would be worse. Meeting his mother again or meeting Antonius again. They were both of similar character which was probably the reason why his mother had asked Antonius two years ago to join her as a science partner for her new experiments. These were only theoretical. The TOL party had forced the SAM party to shut down its practical experiments. Helios knew that Antonius loved him more than any other human in the world. But even this love was nothing in comparison to the love and passion Antonius had for palaeontology and the theory of time travel.
While Helios felt only freezing coldness when he thought about the last time, he had seen his mother, remembering the last time he had talked to Antonius sent a wave of emotions crushing over his heart and mind. It was after his 27th birthday when his mother had gotten into contact with him again, after five years of silence. A short time later, he found out that she had contacted Antonius as well.
The last time they had been together was on a rainy day in Hamburg, when their beautiful little apartment, that had been so warm and full of colour, had been left empty, white walls that on this rainy day appeared grey. All the furniture, all the paintings and books had been removed. Every step they made on the light brown polished wooden floor, echoed like a spectre of the past through the empty rooms. Antonius stood by the open apartment door, one hand clasped on the door handle, the veins of his muscular forearm standing out. As if he did not want to let go. He turned around and looked at Helios with his blue eyes, as clear as a warm summer sky.
‘I hope one day you will understand. I am so sorry that all of this happened to you and your family. But this is an opportunity I cannot let go. I was not born into a prestigious family of celebrated scientists like you. This is a chance that will never come again.’
Helios looked at Antonius, his arms crossed, holding his upper body tight so that he would not fall apart.
‘I understand. But you must understand that I can never forgive you for the choice you have made. Never.’ He said with a shaking voice.
Helios did not want to cry in front of him.
Antonius smiled at him, his disarming charming smile he had used so often. However, he was not as controlled as Helios. Tears ran down his cheeks.
‘You know, never is a word that does not exist among theoretical time travel scientists. Never is a concept created by human culture not by nature. Anything is possible within nature. Maybe one day there will be hope for the two of us again. Never is obsolete.’
And Antonius let go off the door handle, let go of the life he had had with Helios and closed the door behind him. Standing alone in the cold apartment, Helios shed a single tear, like a burning crystal it ran down his cheek.
‘Would you like to have anything else to drink before we land?’
Torn out of his memories, Helios looked up. The EM-egg attendant smiled at him. The sunflower yellow of the attendant’s costume and the glow of the warm light behind him brought Helios back into the present.
‘No thank you, I am fine.’ Helios smiled faintly, the EM-egg attendant nodded and moved on to the next passenger.
Five minutes later the EM-egg’s journey across the Mediterranean Sea had come to its end and it docked onto an egg picker, a long silver tube through which the passengers could board and leave the EM-egg. Helios was the first one to leave. He rushed through the entrance hall. It was just as yellow lit as the inside of the EM-egg but with hologram images glowing on the big walls, advertising latest scientific discoveries, alongside pictures of the beautiful hotels, that travellers could book for their stay in Alexandria. Then the images shifted showing wonderful pictures of the native landscape and nature of Alexandria’s surroundings, Mediterranean jungles and sunshine beaches with clear water untouched by human interference. No matter the beauty of this Queen of cities, the surrounding natural world was the jewel of Alexandria.
Helios picked up his luggage. He had only a small black suitcase. He did not intend to stay long. The Bee-mail he had received from the SAM headquarters of Alexandria was very clear: Professor Marewood and Professor Wiedergraben cordially invite you, Helios Marewood, to an official presentation of their breakthrough project in theoretical time travel, followed by a private audience to discuss future endeavours and collaboration.
He had laughed when he had read that Bee-mail, and even now he had to supress a laugh while thinking about it again. It was so formal, so out of touch, as if he was just another professor, still a member of the SAM party. His immediate thought had been to ignore the message. However, he had then received a call from his grandfather, his father’s father. Grandfather was the only family member with whom Helios was still occasionally in touch, telling him about his science projects but never talking about family. As with his father, the two of them had always been on the same page. They both understood this world but also recognised so many problems that many scientists did not see. His grandfather wanted Helios to attend the presentation because he would be there too. He implied that Helios simply had to see what his mother had discovered. And deeper down, in Helios’s broken heart there was something else that echoed like a whale’s song from the deep blue sea to a warm summer sky above. Maybe one day there will be hope for the two of us again.
Whatever happened at this presentation, Helios did not intend to stay long. Besides, he could not. He had to board another EM-egg in two days’ time. His best friend since university, Phoebe Delacroix, had called him just before he boarded the EM-egg. She had sounded very mysterious but also excited. For the last couple of weeks, she had been on a scientific outpost in North New Atlantica, half a world away. And she had discovered something. She had not told him what, but she wanted him to come as soon as possible. His guess was that she might have discovered a new dinosaur fossil. After all, the science outposts on other continents were the last places where any new fossils could be excavated by palaeontologists. All of Europe and North Africa had been searched, every stone had been turned around thrice in the course of the centuries. There was nothing more that the earth could reveal here. This was why so many palaeontologists had become more and more interested in the theory of time travel. When there was nothing more to discover in the present about the past, one was inevitably confronted by the possibility of actually setting out into the past. This at least was the argument of most SAM party members in new debate wars about allowing nuclear time travel experiments again.
Helios stepped out of the EM-egg port and breathed in the warm and salty air of Alexandria. The night sky sparkled with light blue and golden stars. In the distance he could make out the silhouettes of palm trees, moving gently in the warm wind. He looked to his left. There were the city lights and a little bit further in the distance, standing higher than all the other buildings of the city, was the great square tower, the library of Alexandria. Its black and white marble walls, like a fading chess board, were illuminated by white light. At every corner of the roof, four great fires flickered in the night. It gave the tower an atmosphere of the ancient times. Helios was not even sure if he could think of any other building or place where wood and coal was still burned. It caused unwanted pollution. However, the Republic of Alexandria would always make an exception for their tower, for the centre of science, democracy and wisdom. Maybe the tower’s four fires even symbolised something Helios did not know about. He could ask someone at the presentation. It might be a good beginning to a conversation with his mother or Antonius. He had no idea how to talk to them. Small talk about the tower might be a good beginning.
He looked over one last time before he would book a C-egg that would take him to a hotel in the city centre. He could not help it. He had never intended to come here again after his father’s funeral. But now at the sight of this tower, excitement grew deep inside of him. It was the tower, the library of Alexandria, the heart of knowledge, standing strong for over two thousand years. It was a sight a scientist simply had to smile about.
Suddenly, a jet-black C-egg rolled up in front of Helios. It stopped and a man with short honey blond hair stepped out. He wore a midnight blue suit made of artificial silk. He appeared elegant and strong. Blue eyes, like the clear sky of a warm summer day beamed at Helios.
‘It’s good to see you again.’ Antonius said and smiled at him disarmingly.