Downfall of Atlantis
The machinery all around me groaned furiously. It was like the roaring of a tiger waiting to pounce. I knew what it meant. Death was coming: death in fire and bronze and lightning.
Still, I had saved the world. I’d stopped the Queen from using the sphere. I’d rejected the chance to use it myself. Even if nobody ever knew what had happened here, I had saved them all. I’d protected time itself from the force of the invaders.
That’s one hell of a legacy. I hope it would have made father and grandfather proud. I closed my eyes and whispered the words.
“If I am to perish, let it be in battle. Let it be for a good and righteous cause. Let me not show fear before my foes. Let me go out roaring as a lion.”
“Don’t go roaring just yet!” Demetrios yelled.
I opened my eyes and laughed for joy. There he was, Stamatios beside him.
At that moment, it struck me how incredibly beautiful Demetrios was. Not beautiful as the Queen had been, regal and furious and controlling, but a more earthy, real beauty, a beauty with sweat on his brow and bruises on his skin.
There was little time to dwell on that.
“Come on!” Stamatios yelled.
He was shoving with all his might, shifting the doorway. It squealed as he wheeled it just far enough for me to squeeze through. I grabbed the spear from the floor and darted past him like an arrow through a slit in a castle wall. With a grunt of exhaustion, he let it go and metal whirred away, bolts flying loose behind it.
I looked at the pathway ahead of us. It was jammed, the metal shaking as it strove to break loose. At any moment, it might have the strength to do so. Each wall and disc might slip from its chains, bloodhounds racing after whatever prey they might find. In that event, I had no doubt we’d be reduced to bloody slivers.
I just had to have faith we’d make it through.
I slipped hands into theirs and gave each of them a look.
“Together,” I said.
And together we raced forward, feeling like the Israelites marching through the split waves of the Red Sea, knowing what the waves could do if they were let loose, but having faith that they would stay put.
We ran until we reached the stairs and clambered up into the throne room where we’d been held prisoner. It was shaking there too. The glass of the windows had been shattered and the throne was knocked over, some of the decorative elements smashed beyond repair.
“Look!” Demetrios pointed to the guards lying on the smooth floor.
Or rather, to what was left of them. They’d been reduced to dust, their armour and weapons slowly decaying around them. All around the room, the bronze was turning green, beset by corrosion. It would soon crumble to nothing.
“Time,” I whispered. “The Queen is getting what she wanted. Being in the mechanism protected us.”
“And what’s protecting us now?” Stamatios asked.
“Nothing,” I replied. “Which is why we should run.”
And run we did. We ran through corridors and winding streets, through clouds of dust and stone. The storm was wailing furiously all around. Winds swept in low, sweeping the piles of dust aside. Lightning flashed all around, the clouds moving far too quickly.
In the heart of the storm, above the peak of the citadel, I saw the flame, burning and crackling like an atom bomb. To look at it was to peer into fury itself. It was the wrath of time and hurricane, a wrath unbound by mortal thought. It was pure elemental rage.
“There!” Stamatios shouted. The boat was still sitting on the shore. Rust had begun to crawl over it, the wood sagging and rotting, but it was still seaworthy, if only barely.
“Quick!” I called, leaping aboard. “Before it’s too late!”
Demetrios clambered in after me. With a typhoon’s strength, Stamatios shoved the boat into the water and then jumped in, trying to start the engine.
There was nothing. Not the slightest response.
“It’s too late,” Demetrios said. “The engine’s dead. And soon we will be too.”
I looked back at the crumbling citadel and the sprawling streets slowly being leveled by the winds. Smoke rose high over the dead of Atlantis.
We were witness to the end of an empire.
“No!” Stamatios roared. His eyes were full of fury as he eyed the storm’s edge. Just for a moment, the clouds parted, revealing blue seas and a bluer sky. It was a glimpse of freedom, less than a hundred meters away.
Stamatios grabbed the spear from my hands. I’d half-forgotten I was still holding it. Like Zeus of old he held the shaft aloft and then plunged it down into the engine. Lightning tore through the boat and the engine gave a great roar. With a cloud of black smoke, we shot forward. The engine would burn out in a moment, but that single burst of speed was all we needed.
Stumbling back, Stamatios let the spear drop from his hands. They were black as coal. The lightning hadn’t just shot through the engine.
Demetrios caught him as he fell.
“You fool,” he said, his voice heavy with sorrow.
Stamatios smiled weakly. “I will die on my seas, under my skies. That is all I ask for.” He looked at me and pointed ahead. “Keep the course, Celeste. Keep the course.”
I nodded and leapt to the wheel. It was his last wish and I would honour it or die trying. I kept my eyes upon the blue skies ahead. Black clouds rolled in from either side, lightning flashing like enemy bullets. With each second that rolled past, the gap was growing narrower.
We shot through, the stern of the ship scraping through clouds. Blinding light jabbed at my eyes and I was flung back.
As I lay on the deck, the wind knocked out of me, Demetrios pulled himself to his feet. He looked up at the sky, the blue sky with a yellow sun, ordinary as houses and telephones, and let out a thunderous laugh.
“We made it,” he said. “We made it.”
Stamatios smiled and whispered a few words in Greek. I knew enough to tell their meaning.
“Home,” he had said. “I die at home.”
His eyes closed and never opened again.
Behind us, lightning flashed like the sun and thunder gave one last almighty cry, deep enough to shake the very earth. Then the clouds vanished, leaving behind only a clear sky.
I looked at Demetrios and he looked back at me. We were two alone in the world, the only ones who had beheld Atlantis and lived.
I took his hand in mine and we sat there, waiting for rescue.
To be concluded…