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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Contest Entry · #1902384
Ariadne's Quest
A Slip In Time

         Theo snapped his laptop shut at 5:10pm precisely, and left work for his apartment. Friday, and he sensed freedom in sight and another opportunity to explore the blossoming friendship of a young lady he’d met just some time ago.

         An archaeologist, she said, interested in examining the newly discovered remains of Paleolithic North Americans in the northern Wisconsin farmlands. A cave never suspected of having any historical significance whatsoever had been unearthed by a farmer while clearing a large field for the planting of his Fall crops.

         Theo had met her in a short Humanities course, one that offered a snapshot of Grecian Mythology and a brief synopsis of the lineage of the Grecian god pantheon. It was very interesting, simply because he grew up with the legends, the myths and had allowed them to permeate his life.

         His major in college was archeology, with secondary interests in mythology, myth and magic. Anything else would have been a waste of his time he thought; until he met Ariadne. Once that happened, one strange day in the university cafeteria, he began to rearrange priorities in his young life.

         Ariadne had entered his life by accident; at least that’s what he’d figured when he was suddenly diverted from a classical romance class to one of antiquities, simply because of class size. There, he’d become mesmerized by the presence of a young, beautiful student, who had somehow become mutually interested in his attendance in the class.

         Antiquities, as the prospectus read, was a course designed to combine the physical aspects of archaeology with the historical and mythical documents describing the sites and cultures that resided in the areas at the time. Taken analytically, these documents could provide a ‘semi-scientific’ baseline from which to interpret any physical findings from the digs.

         But here, in rural Wisconsin…? What documentation exists to explain much of anything about the antiquity of Wisconsin, he wondered? Well, he thought, this class should answer that question. He was beginning to think that his ‘gift of tongues’ would be wasted in this particular endeavor, but the lovely newcomer’s interest in the dig was enough to entice him to follow along.

         ‘Gift of Tongues?’ Yeah, he discovered early in life that he had a knack of assimilating languages, and capitalized on this talent to pursue a singular passion in his life; archaeology. Having come from an orphanage, Theo had to search the entire country to find a scholarship willing to take a chance with a destitute young man of questionable promise. Hence his presence in Wisconsin.

         Now Wisconsin had opportunities for archaeology digs, but not the kind that he’d normally be interested in. His mind was filled with dreams of ancient Celtic, Roman and Egyptian ruins; with the ultimate gold ring of Greek antiquities. For now however, Theo had to do with whatever local archaeological digs were available for study.

         On the plus side, he noted—it was the recent discovery of an ancient cave showing prehistoric residency on a farmer’s property near the university and the appearance of Ariadne, a late signup for the class that captured his interest. Even the way he’d met her was a bit incidental; and it was a result of his language abilities.

         On his way to his new class, fresh into the semester, he bumped into one of the most beautiful women he’d ever seen. As her books fell to the floor, all he could do was stare at her. Beautiful blonde flowing locks, bright sparkling blue eyes, and a smile that could melt titanium; she looked back at him and said, “Signomi” (Excuse me).

         His immediate response was “Ime kala.” (I’m fine). Greek, with a most unusual accent; even more strange than his own. But, she seemed to be at home with the language, while he knew his was acquired. At that moment, they seemed to bond, and from that time on they spent most of their academic hours together.

         While she practiced her English on him, he pressed her to teach him her curious dialect; a bonus of their relationship came about when she taught him many obscure idiosyncrasies of the ancient Greek alphabet.

         Her English came quite slowly, he had to admit, but his archaic Greek came quite quickly, and soon he was communicating with her with ease, and reading ancient Greek writing fluently. And, he had her to thank for it. The real bonus however, was simply the pleasure of her company.

         She was an encyclopedia of Greek mythology, and often told tales of the Greek Classics as though she’d been present when the events took place. Most of all, though, she paid him a great deal of attention; more than any woman had ever paid him in the past. And this attention was having its effect on him.

         The class project was brought to their attention once more, and they were assigned to a group of professional archaeologists to assist in the examination of the recently discovered ruins. Ariadne had maneuvered herself into his group, and truth be told, he’d have done the same to get her into his.

         There were some interesting puzzles associated with the discovery however, that began to fascinate Theo, and as the data began to accumulate he soon discovered that he and Ariadne were peculiarly suited to this particular dig. It seemed that they were ‘chosen’ for this project, as the mysteries surrounding the mythos of this particular site began to give up its secrets.

         Approaching the cave site, there were many signs of local Indian attention, including hieroglyphs indicating that the area was taboo, and had been for generations. It had taken months of negotiations between the tribal authorities and the scientific community, but finally an agreement had been reached. The dig would be permitted, but any artifacts related to the indigenous tribal nation would be respectfully and carefully examined, then turned over to the tribal authorities for disposal.

         Theo and Ariadne seemed to make up a perfect partnership, with Theo providing glyph interpretation related to local Indian pre-history, as he had an intuitive sense in understanding the primitive pictographs. Ariadne, on the other hand, focused on a more ‘holistic’ approach, putting together an amazingly believable history of the cave, from its antiquity to the present time.

         One odd theory she suggested, was that its discovery at this time was due to some force, possibly a rockslide that exposed the entrance from the inside, evidenced by rubble piled near the front of the entrance, as if ejected. Theo noted that she had watched his face carefully as she related this possibility to him, probably to ascertain his reaction to it, he thought.

         Several weeks had passed, and the two person team was now being left alone to pursue the excavation of the interior of the cave, cataloging any and all artifacts discovered in the process. As they progressed towards the interior, it became clear to Theo that the entire culture of the site changed dramatically.

         Ariadne changed as well, becoming friendlier, sharing interesting thoughts and stories that initially seemed unrelated to their dig, but gradually becoming more relevant to their efforts as the days progressed. Shadowy memories, impossible memories seem to float through his mind on occasion, and he sensed a closer relationship with his partner than he’d originally thought. Curiously, she seemed to be studying him closer each day, as though she expected something to happen.

         Later one evening, while alone, Theo was puzzling over some findings that day and began putting some bits of recent events together, forming an impossible scenario regarding his entire situation. Persistent dreams of caves and getting lost had invaded his mind each night, and their discovery, deep within the dig of what appeared to be archaic Greek letters carved into a wall adjacent to a roughly hewn doorway. Where the doorway led, he had no idea, and Ariadne had flatly stopped him from entering it.

         The strange letters seemed to spell out part of a word, ‘mino…’, and he began to get a shiver up his spine.

         Later, that evening, he went online and ‘Googled’ a single word; Ariadne. What returned was information that combined several common ‘coincidental’ data parts for him, impossible parts.

         A labyrinth, deep in the earth, a monster, a Greek Prince, a Minoan Princess; the story was a bit fuzzy, but described a typically convoluted Greek mythological love story, and tragedy. While letting this whole revelation soak in and integrate with current events, he heard a soft rustling sound behind him.

         The gentle scent of cinnamon and roses that he now associated with Ariadne wafted about his head, and as he turned he was confronted with the sight of his beautiful partner. She was now dressed in a white tunic, panels crossing her breasts, tied in front about the waist. It stopped at her knees, where the crisscrossed straps of her open sandals were tied off.

         “So now you know, Theo.” She stated in her archaic Greek.

         How she’d entered his apartment without his knowledge was only a minor mystery; a major one remained. Memories were crowding into his head, memories that shouldn’t belong there. A blur of myth and memory swirled through his mind.

         “History lied, Theseus—lied to both of us.” She continued. “Your ship’s crew misled you by telling you that I’d been murdered by the natives on Naxos, and persuaded you to leave without me. They feared the vengeance of my father.”

         Theseus… The name now struck a chord in Theo’s mind, and memories of a past life continued to pour into his mind. He WAS Theseus; she WAS Ariadne; and he now believed that their presence here was more than coincidental.

         “My father rescued me from Naxos, but condemned me to roam the labyrinth forever, because of helping you in the destruction of my insane half-brother. Mother however, offered hope; confiding in me that there existed many exits within the maze that led to other lands, and possibly other times.

         This is a strange world and time Theseus, but it’s fascinating. Language here is difficult, but a life here would fulfill my destiny and validate my love for you. If you love me, the portal through which I entered this world and time must be destroyed.”

         Theo was watching her face closely as she related all of this, and saw concern. Looking away for a moment, he blinked and she was gone. A dream perhaps? Maybe, but the new/old memories remained.

         Picking Ariadne up for their return to the dig the next morning, he watched her carefully for changes. He sensed none, and when they finally reentered the cave, he was still uncertain whether to employ his ‘final solution’ or not.

         She observed him carefully as he examined the entrance minutely, taking soil samples and copying whatever remnants of characters and letters that he could find. Finally, he sent her back to the truck to bring back some photographic equipment to record the work.

         Returning, she carefully passed the equipment to him. Setting up, he took a few photographs, and then escorted her to the front of the cave for a short lunch break.

         As they were approaching sunlight, they heard a deep rumbling from behind, and soon a cloud of dust rolled out of the mouth of the cave. Startled, they waited a few minutes for the dust to settle, then cautiously reentered the dig.

         Approaching the wall that contained the portal, it was obvious that it had been completely destroyed, nothing but rubble remaining. As Ariadne surveyed the scene of destruction, Theo (Theseus) stayed back, gauging her reaction to the ruin.

         Finally, she turned to him, and he was relieved to note that she was smiling broadly. She knew, he thought.

         As they embraced, he mused; King Minos may have lost a daughter, but he had reclaimed his life, and his princess. The Labyrinth was finally consigned to the ages.


H – *Anchor*

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