This is the third part of my science fiction story, taking place moments just after Part II.
The ride in the black EM-orb was very quiet. When Helios had seen Antonius, he was too stunned to speak. Nervously, Antonius had explained to him that his grandfather and his mother wanted to see him right away. Helios had just nodded.
And here they were, former lovers sitting in an EM-orb looking out the window, watching the yellow and orange city lights pass by. Helios looked at the buildings rushing past his vision. Most of them were very old, temples of science, architecture dating back to the times of the Romans. The large marble roofs were carried by ionic pillars but sometimes there were modern buildings in between. They were built completely out of glass, only having some half-standing marble wall, sculpture or pillar as a centre piece by the entrance. Helios smiled again. Despite the fact that he would have a very uncomfortable family reunion, combined with the silence of his ex-boyfriend, it felt good to see all the buildings of his youth again.
Suddenly, the EM-orb made a turn and for a moment, the tower, the library of Alexandria was visible again, the only building in the city with organic light, four fires burning on top.
‘Do you know why there are four actual fires burning on the roof of the library?’ Helios asked and turned around to Antonius.
Antonius looked absolutely taken aback. He did not expect a question like that. Helios waited for an answer. In Antonius’s blue eyes the streetlights outside were reflected, making them shine sapphire blue whenever they rushed by. In the dim light of the EM-orb, with his high cheekbones and those magical eyes, he appeared like a Greek demigod come to life, beautiful and mysterious. Helios did not want to look at him anymore and stared out the window again.
‘So do you know?’
This time Antonius answered immediately: ‘Yes, actually I do. They represent the four great mysteries of our world. The mysteries we try to untangle and understand with science. I am surprised you didn’t know about this.’
‘I know about the four mysteries of science of course. The first one is life. Why we live, why we are all alive so to say and no other way. The second, death, why we all have to die, why nature designed us that way and not like our primitive ancestors, the Egyptians, the Greeks and Romans imagined us to have an afterlife. Space and matter are the third one, why there is a space for everything to exist and what’s holding it together. And the one that gives us the biggest headache-’
‘Time.’ Antonius finished for Helios.
He looked at his ex- boyfriend, his eyes flashing sapphire.
‘Yes, time.’ Helios continued ‘why we move through time into the future and cannot remain in the present or move back and would be able to change things we might regret later.’
‘Or explore entirely different worlds long lost in the past.’ Antonius added.
‘Or that.’ Helios said and could not resist to smile.
It was on their first date and when they were together, they had imagined all the time periods they wished to travel to. Devonian waters filled with ammonites, cretaceous jungles bustling with dinosaurs and frosty nights in the ice age, all of them and many more they wanted to visit.
‘I am sorry, I just meant I thought you would know, as you grew up here in Alexandria. I thought you knew the story about the four fires.’
‘That’s okay.’ Helios said, thinking about an old memory for the first time in ages. ‘When you mentioned it, I did vaguely remember my father telling me about it when I was very little. The memory just came to me now actually. I had completely forgot. It was so long ago. Thanks for helping me remember.’
Antonius smiled at Helios, his usual disarming smile and Helios smiled at him too, with his warm hazel eyes.
‘Are you sure you don’t want to give me a hint on what to expect when we arrive?’ Helios asked.
Antonius grinned at him; his eyes filled with excitement.
‘Some things you just need to see in person. You would not believe me anyway if I told you. Besides, we are here.’
They looked out the window and could see the giant tower in front of them. The EM-orb rolled up in front of the black marble stairs and they got out.
‘Leave the suitcase inside. We are going to the Marewood estate straight after.’ Antonius said.
Helios did not say anything about his intention of finding a hotel after the meeting. There would be time for that later. He really did not want to stay at his childhood home.
The stairs led to a grand bronze gate. There were images carved within the gate, depicting the history of the city and its greatest events. One of them showed the arrival of Julius Caesar and his soldiers and how they heroically saved the city and the library of Alexandria from a raging fire. That was about three thousand years ago. The bronze gate was almost as old, the tower was even older.
‘Are you ready?’ Antonius asked Helios.
‘I guess I have to be.’ Helios answered.
The gate, its big double doors opened in front of them and they walked into the entrance hall of the library of Alexandria.