Sahara Greeks Part I. Chapter I.

28 Feb

Echo had never thrown a discus before, while Hermes had never been hit by one in his life.

The accident would not have happened if Cadmus had not urged her to try a toss. Get into the spirit of this Attic Desert Festival, he had urged his private secretary. Try hurling the ancient discus that our Hellenic ancestors played with back in our homeland.

The round projectile caused no injury, merely falling upon the outside edge of the young man’s right sandal. Hermes was more startled than hurt. He turned around to see where the small missile had come from.

A middle-aged man in a pink silk suit and a young woman were rushing toward him. He was tall and slim, she was short and attractive, Hermes was able to notice. His foot stung a little from its collision with the flying object. The pain slowly lessened.

“How are you?” anxiously asked the thrower of the discus. “I hope that I did not injure you.” Her voice was sweet and melodious, even in this emergency situation. The lanky man beside her said nothing. The two stood a few span from the victim, studying him closely.

“This is the first time I ever threw a discus,” apologized the blond culprit. She wore shorts and a halter that highlighted her body lines.

Hermes leaned over and picked up the heavy object that had struck him. He examined it a second before offering it to the woman who had hurled it.

“My name is Echo Syrinx,” she said as she took the discus from him. “I beg you to forgive me for what happened.”

“Hermes Tmolos,” he said with a sudden smile. “You are forgiven, of course.”

The two exchanged gazes in silence while the tall companion of Echo introduced himself.

“I am Cadmus Megaras,” he announced. “The least that we can do for you is to buy you something to drink. There is a taverna close here. Let us treat you to something. We can sit and talk a while as we rest up.”

The three started off, Echo between the two men.

They found the drinking place densely crowded, but Cadmus noticed a small round table in the rear that had just been vacated.

“Let’s take that one before someone else does,” suggested Cadmus. “I’ll order beer for all of us, if that’s alright.”

As the trio sat down, a peel of loud laughter sounded from the front of the taverna. Hermes turned his head to see what that was about.

“Sandfarmers!” muttered Cadmus under his breath.

“You are not one of the desert cultivators then, are you Mr. Tmolos?” inquired Echo with a beaming grin.

“Call me Hermes, please,” he smiled at her. “No, I am a physicist in the field of photonics.I live and work on a raw salt flat where nothing now grows. It is a very desolate spot on the desert. Life is very lonely out there.”

Cadmus instantly became interested. “You work for Lambda Lights, perhaps?” he asked the stranger.

“No,” explained the stranger. “The Apollo Institute is a completely independent research organization. We are not connected to any manufacturer. I myself am a chromatologist, but my work with color rays does not have immediate practical applications, not yet.”

Echo then asked him a question of interest to her. “What does a chromatologist focus on to study?”

Hermes turned to her. “The colors of the visible spectrum, Miss.”

A waiter arrived with three mugs of beer. The trio started to drink.

Cadmus then started to identify himself and what he did.

“I am a land developer in the suburbs of Gamara. That places me on the edge of the desert farming zone, where we are eating into it. My company has residential, commercial, and industrial projects on the drawing boards. There is no other way for the vertical city to grow. We have already raised up eight urban tiers and that is the limit into the sky. The days of building new decks is over. We are not in Europe or the Americas, but here in the central Sahara. The desert is going to become the next frontier of city growth, I predict. That is where our future as a society lies, out there on the barren sands.”

As Hermes sighed, Echo abruptly changed the subject.

“Are you enjoying the desert festival?” she asked in a melodious tone.

The man she had struck with a discus grinned at her.

“I haven’t seen much yet. This is my first time here for the celebration.”

Cadmus took a printed program from his vest pocket.

“There is a chariot race scheduled this afternoon,” he informed the other two. “After that, boxing and wrestling matches. Swimming, diving, and archery come later. Spear and javelin throwing is set for this evening.” The land developer bit his tongue. “The latter will include discus competition, I’m afraid.”

Hermes burst out in a cascade of laughter. His two companions joined him, until all three were uncontrollably chortling.

“Why don’t you join Echo and me at the chariot races?” proposed Cadmus. “We can make it a threesome.”

“Fine!” replied the physicist.

They finished their drinks and left the taverna. In front of it, a crowd had gathered around a team of clowns and tumblers. Several performers with painted faces were busy carrying out pantomime skits. The audience standing around the group roared with mirth.

“Drunken sandfarmers,” whispered Cadmus with contempt.


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