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Volume V

Sarah

 

How often do five eminent archaeology/ history professors all die mysterious deaths within days of each other?  Especially when two of them live in London, one hails from Athens, while the other two are eminent members of their associated museums in Florence and Berlin.

London detective Thelonious Tremayne and his Japanese born Australian partner gave themselves two days to link the murders only to find themselves tripping over two more bodies amidst a London downpour.

Is this some kind of sick game… death Monopoly on a grander European-wide scale?  If so what could possibly be the motive of the murderer, how did he manage to slay so many seemingly innocuous professors in just 4 days and why did he perform the acts so publicly without any attempt to conceal them?

Tremayne and his partner find themselves being pulled hither and thither between crime scenes across Europe and dragged inexorably towards an old Australian archaeological friend whose life heads towards purgatory in Pergamon, but is that in Turkey or in Berlin or both?

  Their paths clash with intention only to find that they are all in danger of missing the point of the succession of murders they seem to be trailing without actually solving… the mysterious and mortally in danger Sarah… but who is Sarah?  Is she the woman they all know and love or is she somebody completely alien to them all?  Or both…

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Prologue

Sarah

 

 

 It was a curious meeting, but all had gone well until they stepped out into the chill of Melbourne’s late autumn evening air.  The workers had completed their weekly bout of Mondayitis and made their way home, but despite the thousands of apartments that towered above the elegant Elms and the ground-level nineteenth century façades, the cold southerly and its intermittent showers had frightened most Melbournians indoors, leaving the streetscape populated only by the pavement that lined its way.

 Sarah walked closely to her recently acquired new best friend and business partner.  They huddled beneath their flimsy duck handled umbrella as the wind whipped up beneath it and blew it inside out – drenching them with the gust of rain it had brought along at precisely that inconvenient moment.  They were both used to Melbourne’s fickle four seasons in one day and they were dressed accordingly with a thin inner layer covered by a thicker winter coat, but sometimes the wind that originated way down from Antarctica was difficult to ward off even with these multiple layers!

 The warmth of their closeness and their inseparable friendship added to their defences and they faced the night together armed with a singular purpose that surprised most who had encountered them in the previous twelve months.  As they huddled close together the little red faced man turned to green above them, although they were most certain that he had developed an appropriate shade of blue as they quickly stepped out onto the street scrunching the remnants of the giant elm leaves in the gutter as they did.

 Sarah had lived in the CBD for nearly five years and she was confident that she knew a less windy and more sheltered short cut down one of Melbourne’s many narrow back streets and occasionally cobbled laneways… not that the laying down of many of these remaining stones was original!  The modern lanes certainly had the charm of older Melbourne laneways, but most of these lovely old bluestones were now consigned to the gutters and the central drains as they had mostly been replaced by the infinitely smoother surfaces of pavers and bitumen.  Sarah was correct in her assumption of shelter as the pair headed down Little Collins Street from the more open Swanston Street, but the seclusion of the chosen narrower street brought on an unseen danger that not even the wildest weather could have wrought on that particular evening…

 The footfalls of the two women, aged in their mid twenties, echoed amongst the shadows and the occasional splash of the uneven cobblestones, which they danced between playfully ala Gene Kelly – let’s face it, how much wetter than wet can one get!  The distant sounds of cars ripped through the layer of water that sealed the asphalt streets along with the hum of the invisible trams as an unknown passenger rang to be let off at the next stop… They too were preparing to brave the elements, umbrella at the ready, but they wouldn’t have to contemplate the benefits of using its sharper end as a weapon – there is more than one reason to have a sturdier umbrella these days, but finding one is another thing!

 Sarah and her companion quickened their pace as they headed left for further shelter down another ever-darkening lane as more footsteps joined theirs in the rush to evade the worsening weather.  Damn the conventions of a dress code that required them to don the more formal attire – below the knee skirts, tight to be amidst the latest fashion and to add some allure and some distracting sex appeal, and smart but formal high heel shoes!  What moron invented these ankle-teetering devices?  Probably the same one who had invented the tie, and that had been in vogue for women as well as men recently as shown by these two smartly dressed young women!!!

 The steps behind them merged ever closer to theirs despite their young and energetic attempts to keep a distance.  It was moments like these that one often wondered why they had braved the darkness instead of the weather, but it was too late – the lane was far too long and the footfalls were upon them… accompanied by a hand that reached out and grabbed at Sarah’s shoulder…

 She stopped short and gasped a muffled scream…

 “I’m sorry Sarah, I didn’t mean to startle you… I just thought you might appreciate the use of this, as yours seems to be quite useless with this gusting wind we have tonight!”

 Sarah looked about herself quickly and refocused with her large and astonishing blue-grey eyes.  They were eyes that could disarm a man with their mystical beauty at a flutter or reproach either sex with the coldness of a threatening grey cloud just as quickly, but usually they smiled brightly at you and they certainly did that with recognition right now…

 “To be so young and attractive, and brilliant, but it doesn’t always lead to one purchasing the appropriate protective gear on such a terrible night… please take mine, it is large enough for the three of us to remain relatively dry under – if not more cosy than hanging it aloft out here alone…”

 And so she did… and there in the shadow of a large encompassing umbrella the two women huddled closer to their benefactor safe from the storm that was increasing in its intensity as they sheltered comfortably from it!  They could relax for a moment now, before they continued their splash and dash down the lane, through the adjoining arcade and hopefully into the next major thoroughfare.  There was no one else in the narrow lane and the great limbs of the elms that lined Collins Street swayed somewhere in the distance as they walked on, but the shelter they sought in the grand mosaic floored Block Arcade was short lived.  The shops were now shut, the lights were being switched off and the iron worked entrance gates were about to be pulled down on top of them.  They had no choice but to about face and brave the lane again, but it did run into the Royal Arcade at its other end and this is the destination the three now dashed towards.

 They had almost made the shelter of Royal Arcade although it too was foreboding in its darkness, its shops closed, its shoppers having deserted it… and then it happened… that sudden fiery piercing sensation to the neck of one of the young ladies – a sensation that restricted their progress once more.  As she grabbed at her neck her blue grey eyes opened wide in alarm and blood trickled down her fingers as it oozed down the inside of her throat…

 She crumpled to the pavement quickly followed by her companion who was as yet unaware of her friend’s dire fate.  As her companion rolled her over and discovered her fate she in turn felt a dull thud to the side of her head and fell slowly out of the shelter of the seemingly welcome umbrella and into the increasing volume of rain…

 “I’ll deal with you in a minute young lady, but I have some other tasks to perform on this blue eyed beauty before she’s to leave this mortal toil – where would be the intrigue otherwise?  One can’t make it too easy for the authorities to guess why this fate has befallen you both in such a deliciously appropriate location!”

 A steady stream of crimson wound its way between the cobblestones, down the central gutter and into a distant unseen grated drain… and that was all that was left moving of a once bright light…

 There were many things to see in a single lifetime regardless of its length and it was easy to sense that this current vision may well be her last as she lay there stunned from the blow to the back of her head, but she was still hoping that this was not so.  Nothing of what she saw made any sense to her as her vision hazed in and out of focus, but she knew one thing - that no one wanted to pass away with the image of a shadow hacking away mercilessly at their friend!  However, this seemed to be her fate – lying there stunned as the proverbial mullet slowly drenching to her skin from the outside in and from every conceivable direction.  Even the gutter she lay in contributed to her tragedy – soaking her with a steady run off of rain and her best friend’s blood…

 There she was, as inconceivable as it seemed only an hour ago lying there at the entrance to the Royal Arcade, but she wasn’t quite done yet...

 She crawled…

 She sensed her friend was dead…

 She knew that this was her last chance…

 She dragged herself out of the rain and into the arcade… surely there was still someone in there?

 She was wrong… and as her senses failed her she looked up despairingly into the eyes of Gog and Magog…

 

 

0000 0001

Run For Your Life

 

Enter player’s name:

 

 P R O F E S S O R   L U M L E Y

 

Enter player’s age:

 

 42

 

Press ENTER to resume

Current status: Life force strong – to fading…

 

ALT O: Over head perspective…

 

 Light rain falling through a misty atmosphere.  Ahead in the distance, barely visible through the mist, the great dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral hangs above the city lights like some distant haven in a clouded blitz…

 

Objective:  Navigate your character safely up London’s Cannon Street, turn right on Farrington and left on Holborn until you reach the British Museum.  It is late evening, you are in the now deserted banking district and there’s a tube strike…  Take care – be alarmed not alert and you will reach your next destination and find your next clue…

 

ALT C: Character perspective…

 Professor Lumley sees the sanctuary of St. Paul’s in the distance, but he’s used to the rain and normally remains aloof from public transport.  He carries no umbrella – in fact he has no need of the extra protection as he avoids the London transport system.  His London Fog may be antique, but it is remarkably sturdy against London renowned elements…

 

Right Arrow:

 

 Lumley crosses the almost deserted Cannon Street to the north side.  He can smell The Thames tonight as the rain becomes heavier.  He can sense in the light musty breeze a grim age where order reigned down in blood and the stories that echoed beneath the stones under foot made him believe more firmly in his daily and often nocturnal pursuits!  He had made himself a target, but there were some jobs that had to be done in this world and he was confident in his talents and his ability to perform what he considered as his civic duty.  Not so confident as he wasn’t wary…

 

Left Arrow:

 

Right Arrow:

 

 The street is clear… clear of present danger!  You – as the game controller - may wonder if you should lean slightly forward on your joystick at this juncture, but this isn’t really a game and you’re not really in control regardless of what you think and do – neither is our Professor!  Would you hold your nerve if this were a game that you were in control of?  Would it really matter?  If you lose you could always replay the scene if you save at the appropriate point!  Do you think Professor Lumley would lean on the joystick if he knew what you didn’t know?  Should he lean on it a bit?

 Lean on it… I would if I were you!

 

Lean Forward On Joystick:

 

 Our Professor begins to run… slowly at first for he’s not sure what his senses are worried about.  He just can’t help it – he doesn’t know why.  Don’t the werewolves frequent the tube stations on nights like this… and if the Tube is on strike won’t they wander up into the streets for some fresh meat?  There’s nobody here in Cannon Street, but he can feel something and his heart races… it pounds and surges blood through his veins.  His legs are pumping now, but despite his middle age he is fit – didn’t he run the London marathon in less than four hours just last year!!!  His protective coat works against him now as it hugs his legs tightly low beyond his knees, but there is no one behind him…

 

ALT R: Rear perspective…

 

 No, no one there and despite the rain he can see the shaky blurred image of the White Tower all lit up in the distance – or is he just imagining this classic old edifice - with its flag at half mast?

 Oof… and the raindrops fall freely into his gaping mouth from above as he lies flat on his back on the edge of the footpath… From out of the corner of his right eye he spies an odd gaping mouth as it swallows an ancient stone lit from within with grilled teeth – did time devour Brutus as such… or was the Professor’s head just spinning from the collision he’d just had with the pole that now leered above him?  Must watch where he’s going from now on and panic less…

 

ALT O: Overhead perspective…

 

 Lumley’s reactions are slow as the pole, as he sees it, leans down and rests itself on his chest with knees that it shouldn’t have.  His breathing is constricted… can’t breathe… why does it bear a hood that masks its true identity?  Lumley’s arms and legs are flailing desperately now, but it is too late to fight back as his neck is sliced open and the ghosts of the past wonder what it’s all for…

 Should Lumley have protected his own fate more carefully instead of theirs?  The ghosts of past glories read it all in his shortened lifeline as his life force joins them whilst its earthy embodiment trickles into the grooves of the pavement’s seams and down passed a nod to more successful glorious invasions…

 

Alt Q: Game Over…

 

 

 

0000 0010

North By Northwest

 

 She didn’t exactly remember how she had arrived there, but the seat was comfortable and the legroom was surprising.  Before her the four great stone faces of America’s Presidents stared out through the flickering light… she knew their faces – Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt.  She knew how the man known as Glitzon Borglum had begun to carve these images out of the sheer rock face some 100 years ago and how they were subsequently immortalized in U.S. folklore, but she had never been here before…

 The images flickered before her and she could see that there were people clambering upon the dangerous edges of the monument’s face.  She gasped to herself… would they fall, right before her very eyes?  Why wasn’t she assisting them?  Should she be assisting them?  Why was she just sitting there… sitting down so comfortably numb?

 She moved her head to the left, but that was a painful movement and reaching up gingerly with her left hand she felt the bump on her head that brought back a memory that didn’t gel with the images before her.  She moved her head again, but more slowly this time and the image before her changed disconcertingly – there was no longer a clear darkened image of the four ex-presidents of the United States of America and she felt like the lump that they had sung about!  She was now viewing the monument from a different angle and she wondered if she was on a ride that circled the site – was that why she was in such a comfortable buffeted seat?

 She glanced around herself again, lowering her eye level this time from the mesmerizing images that had drawn her so a minute ago, she saw the shadowy figures of row after row of buttoned topped or studded standing stones.  As her eyes adjusted to these darker lower regions she realized that these weren’t stones but chairs – and the vision before her changed again… it was now a saintly vision from an ethereal ray of light, a vision in a smart and beautiful dress suit with high heels!  Had Edith done it again – how could anyone but her make someone look so elegant at such an inappropriate moment?  And then as if by magic a hand reached out to assist her saintly vision, a hand that belonged to King Cary.  She so loved Cary Grant – they didn’t make men like that anymore or at least not that she could remember!  Couldn’t I just snuggle into that beautifully tailored suit and drift away forever she thought…

 As she drifted in the arms of Mr. Grant the dreamy images she had hoped for developed the desired misty feel, but the mist she recalled blew in on a chill wind that soon became damp and musty and extremely uncomfortable.  The shadows of doubt grew as the shadows of the chairs before her elongated and stretched up above her with fingers that reached down towards her.  Fingers that dripped with the blood of her dead friend – blood that oozed down onto the street and down the drain like many an unfortunate life… and she remembered…

.

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Home The Authors D.J. Contact Gargoyles News Fellow Authors

 She remembered the laneway to the rear of the Block Arcade and she envisaged the terrible wrath of the giants Gog and Magog.  She remembered that as the shadow reached down to do its treacherous work on her she felt in her rain-soaked hand the final thing she had received from her dear friend and that protection from the elements lunged upwards into the night… into the shadow and it screamed an unearthly wail as the umbrella it had originally provided as a ruse breached its flesh and stung deeply into its innards of twisted bile and gut.  She twisted the umbrella as her mother said she always should in such circumstances and somehow she managed to get up and run through the rain as it began again… into Little Collins Street and then out into Elizabeth Street and into the waiting arms of a Melbourne tram.  She rolled across the front of that desperately to the sound of its bell as it pulled up before its usual stop to avoid her, before she staggered across the street and into a niche in the building on the other side…

 The tram clattered away and the street became silent but for the persistent rain… and those footsteps…

 She shivered silently in her niche, her clothes soaked to her lithe frame, goose pimples breaking out all over her body… and still the rain came down… and still the footsteps came closer…

 And closer…

 And they stopped by the corner of the building whose niche she sheltered in… and she could see the shadow’s breath misting through the rain from where it stood less than a metre a way.  She felt that she had no strength left for a final foray and so she closed her eyes in inevitability…

 “Excuse me, Miss… excuse me, but can I see your ticket?”

 “Sorry, what?”

 “Can I see your ticket, please?”

 As the words resonated through her head and just before they dropped out the other side she caught their meaning and knew that she was in trouble, but a different trouble to the one she had been dreaming of…

 She remembered where she was now, she was in the Westgarth Theatre on High Street – she was sure she had come here as a child.  She remembered the art-deco style decorations, the wooden aisles – made for rolling Jaffas, and the large presentation screen that was curtained majestically on either side.  Ironically she was north or northwest of her dream - or was that northeast?  She was still quite disorientated and not quite sure, but she was sure of the movie she had not been watching and that was a Hitchcock classic in the same direction!  She wasn’t sure how she had arrived here from her niche by the shadow’s breath, but she did know that now was not the time to contemplate that particular mystery…

 “Ticket?”

 “Yes, Miss… you see, I can’t remember you showing me one, and I’m sure you were here for the last film as well… this is a theatre not a drop in centre for the homeless!  If you can’t show me a ticket I’ll have to take you outside… and if you don’t leave voluntarily I’ll have to call the police!”

 “Yes, I’m sorry.”

 Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint nestled cozily in their fold down train bed as the usher escorted her through the narrow theatre entrance and passed the retro candy-bar with its pictures of bygone Hollywood stars and placards from their various movies.  She could see through the narrow folding glass entrance doorways that it was getting dark outside and that the rain was still persisting, but she knew that this couldn’t be the same day as the one she partially recalled moments earlier.  The foyer ahead was crowded with dozens of people in various thicknesses of coat and scarf who had crowded in to escape the elements outside - making the pathway decidedly claustrophobic inside the century-old theatre.

 Her eyes glazed over again and she swooned slightly, more from the lack of food in the past twenty-four hours than the lump on her head, but the crowd around her who gasped collectively at her action kept her on her feet.  The feeling of hands pawing her from every direction freaked her out and she snapped…

 She threw off the usher and threw herself through the crowd hitting an impenetrable wall at the base of the stairs to the balcony.  She panicked further - surrounded as she was by a wall of now unsympathetic faces leering loser and loony from below every brow, so she ran for the stairs and up to the balcony where looking behind her for signs of a pursuit she bumped into the balcony railing and flipped over the edge…

“…Reach now.”

“I’m trying.”

“Come on, I’ve got you… up!”

“I can’t make it!”

“Yes you can.”

“Liar!”

“Come on – Mrs. Thornhill…”1.

 “But I’m not Mrs. Thornhill – its Sarah… oh, Sarah…”

 

 

 

 

 

0000 0011

a Alpha a

 

 

 “Is this an Ionic column, Dad?”

 “Ionic, Doric – I’m not sure, son… it’s all Greek to me!”

 “Dad-dy – Mummy hates that joke!”

 “Well we are in Greece, we are on an ancient hillside and we are surrounded by towering columns adorned with odd letters carved by ancient hands!  So I’d say it is all Greek!”

 “So is there treasure?”

 “There’s plenty of treasure here, son – but it’s probably not the kind you’re looking for!”

 I’d always wondered what the fascination was with ancient buildings – let’s face it, there were no ceilings or windows, half of the columns had usually jumbled into a ruinous mess, and pieces of stone carvings were often strewn disrespectfully over the entire remaining site of the former erection.  With all that negative energy clouding your mind it was difficult to appreciate the intricate carvings, the massive size of the construction (that was often two to three thousand years old) and the sheer ingenuity of the tapered columns that portray an image of perfect perspective from any angle and a natural dominance from below as the eyes wandered up the columns in sheer awe… towards the seemingly infinite azure…

 Yes, it was easy to forget such things until you approached the subject with a five-year-old boy…

 “Ooo, it’s big! Can we climb it, Daddy?”

 And that was the thing.  This Acropolis and its grand Parthenon, like most ancient buildings that had been passed down to us, was designed for sheer spectacle and despite the viewer’s age or the passage and ravages of time it still conveyed this.  The very thought of this simplistic view from my little boy made me laugh – he made me content with the knowledge that it was so often the simple perspective that said it all – a perspective born of innocence, naïveté and adventure… something as humans we all lost around the time the Ancient Greeks built this grand structure… and something we were about to lose another slice of…

 “So, can we climb it, Daddy?”

 “I don’t think so, but if we’re lucky we might be able to climb up high on the scaffold back there and view all of Athens.  That’s if our Professor friend ever turns up to show us about – and to show us where we’re to dig today!”

 “Can I dig today?  In the sand?”

 “Yes, this is just like that giant sandpit I showed you in Egypt last month…”

 “With my uncle – the Egyptan dig man?”

 “Yes – the Egyptian tomb worker and his family…”

 Beyond us the worn steps, which led to the peak of Greek civilization, were crowned by the great colonnaded edifice that so enthralled all archaeologists, historians and tourists alike.  I found that no words could describe the structure any better than the thousands that had described it and structures like it during the past two and a half thousand years – seeing was believing after all!  I had climbed the Acropolis before, but never as an archaeologist – I still found it hard to believe that without any formal qualification my experiences had led me here and I now had a job overseeing an unusual find deep below the Parthenon itself.  I had been called here because of my often covert support for such structures and although I had only met the Professor in charge here briefly a few years ago I had obviously impressed him with my attitude, my experiences and my link to fortunate finances…

 “Ah, the perfect example of the Alpha male – with the fruit of his loins primed to continue his journey!  You must be…”

 “More obvious than I care to be, but your picture certainly doesn’t do you justice Professor!”

 “You should see my more official documents – ah, if only I had the splendour of the figures that once graced this magnificent building…”

 “Then you’d be cold and hard, and frozen in time instead of the animated thinker I find before me.”

 “You’re too kind, and your son is too cute… tell me boy, does your father often take you to such interesting places?”

 “Only to dig!”

 “You like to dig?”

 “Yes!”

 “Then we shall, I have just the task for you and your talented father, come!”

 The Professor led us towards the source of his anxiety (as it seemed in his email to me) although why he had contacted me was still a mystery because of my varied and often lack of experience.  There were certainly more qualified people around the world who were classically trained in ancient Greek and Hellenic ways and who were used to such fieldwork, but I suspected that my particular and curious background in the preservation of ancient treasures many and varied was the real reason I had been asked here.  That’s why I was usually requested, although at this point there seemed that there would be no revelation as to my possible alternative purpose as my son and I were quickly escorted into a more open cordoned area that had many other workers and I could tell by the professor’s sudden silence that their ears were not privy to the information I was about to receive!

 We walked steadily yet somewhat lazily through the heat of the afternoon across the uneven surface that was the very top of the Acropolis, north of the Parthenon.  The area was still strewn with marble pieces that had not found their rightful home and various ancient steps that delighted my five-year-old boy as he ran up and down ancient pathways trod by such luminaries as Perikles and Sophokles.  I enjoyed his fascination with the ancient stones as the Professor bored me with details that I didn’t feel I needed to know (and that I felt he didn’t feel I needed to know!)  Needing to know was my thing I know, but today I was completely distracted by other less concrete concepts.

 Beyond the exquisite female columns of the Erechtheion we wandered over towards the precipice that looked out over the Plaka of central Athens.  Here a scaffold with a crude dumb waiter like cage attached to a pulley system lowered us down to a cave recently found in the sheer rock wall of the Acropolis just above the shrine of Aphrodite and Eros.  The excitement of this slow creaking jerking ride was too much for a five-year-old boy and he shook with anticipation as each creaking jolt dropped us lower, but his excitement was quite unlike the fear I was consumed with on his and my own behalf!  I had seen some dodgy construction scaffolds in my time like those quickly erected in Egyptian tombs brimming with treasures and the bamboo scaffolds prevalent in Hong Kong, but this was… well, perhaps it was just an age thing after all, as a further ride was requested by the youngest member of our group when it was over…

 “Can we do that again, Dad?”

 “Well, we still have to get back up!”

 “Cooool!”

 The cave we entered just off the ledge where the cage had dropped us was – well, not remarkable!  It was a narrow fissure in the ancient rock that had opened recently due to a series of minor earthquakes and tremors in the area.  Like any new opening on an archaeological site it had been scoured thoroughly for ancient treasures by the local Archaeologists and some smaller items had been discovered, but I was quite certain by now that that was not what I was here for!  We walked along the narrow cave in relative silence until we came to a widening near its end and only then did our host attempt to speak of my task…

 “I would like your opinion on what we found towards the rear of the cave here.  As you can see there is another ancient rock slide here and what looks like steps, as if this space was the destination for someone, but not from where we entered…”

 “Can I dig around here a bit, Professor?  Are the walls in here secure?”

 “Yes, quite secure, it is quite safe – but before you do dig around, I’d like you to look at this…”

 “Professor Papas, Professor Papas… there’s a call for you!”

 “Can it wait – I do have guests, all the way from England, just today!”

 “It seems your call is quite urgent, Professor… it’s OK, we’ll wait.  We have some tools here and the soil is not so hard that my boy can’t join in and have some fun of his own!”

 The Professor left reluctantly with an obvious question on the tip of his tongue, but again he was reluctant to speak of it before a worker!  And so we were alone, father and son, in an ancient cave with some tools of the trade, a penchant to dig and some suspicious looking steps to clear as requested by our host.  It certainly was an enjoyable afternoon sitting in the dirt scraping away purposelessly at a set of steps that were partially hidden under what certainly did look like an ancient earth slip of rubble.  The task was obviously not as fruitful as it might have been without a five year old assisting, but it was he who discovered something suspiciously interesting at the far edge of the cave once he was bored with the steps!  That something certainly didn’t seem to belong here and it was an odd something that looked suspiciously like a ball of discarded concrete!

 “That’s an interesting treasure you’ve got there, where did you dig that up?”

 “Just over here… do you think its worth anything, Daddy – is it treasure… gold?”

 “No, but like most buried treasure it certainly doesn’t belong where you found it – I’m not aware that the Ancient Greeks invented concrete and I’m sure the Roman’s who did, didn’t just pick up a piece like this and think ‘Ooo, that’s a good idea - Concretius!’  I think it’s time for us to change tack and dig with a little more purpose – come on my boy!”

 We concentrated more carefully on the perimeter of the steps this time rather than the steps themselves… and there it was again!  Had I wasted an entire afternoon dreaming, not realizing that I was uncovering a set of modern steps?  Was this just a ruse to get me here in the first place, a ruse that the mere thought of working on the Acropolis had blinded me from?  It was indeed a distinct possibility in my world, but if I was so important and I was now alone as was desired, where was my host and the topic he thought so important?  I thought about it over and over and I decided I was exaggerating my own importance for once - surely it was just an under used over imaginative mind at work – I can’t be that important in the scheme of things!

 I shook the cobwebs off my oft-dreamy consciousness and I now realized due to the insistence of my son and an emptiness that was growing in the pit of my stomach that it was getting late.  We packed up our gear and made our way back through the cool semi-darkness of the cave that had only ever been lit by our two lanterns.  At the ledge the cage awaited us, as did a light shower of rain and a now hidden setting sun.  We climbed aboard the cage and hailed the men above… to no avail!  I had no command of the Greek language except for the odd efgaristo and kalimera, but I wasn’t even completely sure where they sat in an actual sentence or how to reply to one that they were used in.

 I called up to the plateau of the Acropolis a few more times, but it was soon clear that everybody had gone home.  Thinking about it for a moment I realized that we hadn’t actually met too many people since we’d been here nor had we been introduced to anyone, so there wasn’t really anyone to miss us!  Our host had obviously been completely distracted by his phone call and forgotten us in his busy schedule even though he had seemingly gone to such lengths to attract me here in the first place.  Academics were such hopeless managers of people and time – it never really surprised me that it took them so long to achieve anything!  Perfection is one thing, but managing one’s path to it is so often forgotten!

 “Well, my boy… if we’re to sample some of that wonderful Greek bread and seafood as I promised you…”

 “Yuck!  Baby octopus and squid rings…”

 “Now, now – how would you know it was yuck if you’d never tried it?  I can understand you turning your nose up at mussels – they’re just the ocean’s grot balls slid into a convenient shell!”

 “Whatever, Dad – I’ve got my cool bag postmarked for Africa just in case!”

 “I’m sure you have and I’m sure I never taught you to roll your eyes like that, but unless I get us back up to the top in this thing we won’t be sampling anything tonight or sending anything to all those starving children!”

 I unhooked the lead rope on the pulley system and pulled slightly on the rope.  It was still in working order, but I knew this would be no picnic – pulling up my own weight as well as the cage and my son.  Before I began I devised a system where I could pull the rope a certain distance and then hook it fast, allowing me to rest without load between pulls.  This worked well, but it was still an arduous task and I was near exhausted by the time I’d finally got us to the top.

 “It was more exciting going down, Daddy!  Can we do that part again?”

 “Yeah, only if you’re gonna pull us back up ‘cause I’m exhausted.  Come on, hop off while I tie this off – I wouldn’t want to go through all that shit again, especially now it’s dark!”

 It was now quite obvious that the Acropolis was closed for the night and that the tourists and the archaeologists were following other pursuits – food, parties, or Zorba!  There was ambient noise from way down below us in the city, but the lack of wind and the now lightly persistent rain dampened the impact of any real noise.  The museum to the far eastern end of the Acropolis also appeared deserted so we headed towards the more obvious and grand ruins of the Parthenon before we made a turn west to the exit stairs that were through the colonnaded entrance of the Propylaia.

“What’s that noise, Daddy?”

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