Phoenix Speaks

A New Tale Daily

Chapter 3- The First Night

Fresco from Pompeii in the 'second style'

Image via Wikipedia

Liam went to bed earlier than normal, a result of his walk around the excavation sites and meeting all the new people. He fell asleep soundly, and was soon dreaming. At first Liam wasn’t aware of dreaming, though he thought he recognized where he was. It felt as if he were walking around the Pompeii dig complex again. As he continued sleeping, the dreams developed, and he soon was peripherally aware of human forms drifting past him, as if they were walking down the street opposite him. While they had no real faces or form, he knew they were people. A sharp bark-like noise started Liam awake.

He wasn’t certain if it was a dream or real at first. The bark didn’t come right away. Shortly, though, another bark sounded, and Liam knew there was a dog somewhere on the grounds. He rolled over to go back to sleep. Soon Liam found himself drifting through the streets of Pompeii again. This time he noted something odd. In his dream the city was intact, buildings still standing, roofs in place, water flowing through the viaduct. Peripherally aware, he wrote it off as massive imagination. The people in this dream remained faceless, but had more form, and clothing was apparent. He could hear murmurs of voices, as if people were talking from a distance. He also heard other sounds of life about him. This time the barking dog didn’t fully wake him, but made him aware he was having one very vibrant dream.

Liam restlessly slept away the rest of the night. Waking a dawn, glad to be awake, he got up and headed toward the smell of coffee. It was coming from the Dining Tent, and as he entered he saw Jim and Ron sitting with another young man, and Doctors Shaker and Betancourt off in a corner. Ron saw Liam and waved. “Hey, over here. Get the coffee while it’s hot and the buns before they get cold and hard” he said. Lee grinned and got himself some coffee. He sat down with the two men who introduced the third as Allen Hathaway, a specialist in reconstructing buildings and rooms. He smiled and said hi, and went back to his breakfast. Liam asked about the dog he had heard last night.

“You know”, said Jim, “there are two schools of thought on that dog. We don’t have a dog on the site, but just about everyone has heard it at one time or another. Some people think it’s a dog from town that comes back here for something once in a while. Others think the dog doesn’t exist, and the only people who hear it are those that are really into what happened here emotionally. Sort of like some ghost dog thing or like that.” Liam grinned. “Ghost dog? Do they bark? Huh!” He shook his head. “Well, I did have some wild and crazy dreams about this place last night. I was walking through town like it was here, and people were in it.” Ron and Jim looked at each other, and then at Liam. Ron said “You know what that means don’t you? That you are connected here some way?” Lee looked at the two. Then all three men, Ron, Jim and Allen burst into laughter. “Just teasing” said Ron, “I’m sorry. I can never resist.” Lee started laughing. “Well, you had me going for a bit, but I have your number now!”.


Chapter 3 Continued


Image by Heleen de Jong-Kwant via Flickr

While Liam got settled with his coffee and breakfast, the rest of the group assembled for the day. Assignments to various buildings were handed out to the students of the restorations, and the directors let people know what they were working on and where they would be. Dr. Shaker was going to be working with Liam today, helping him find suitable human forms that has already been found broken or ruined, so that he might practice his technique of “forming” on them. Then Liam would be able to move to the more complex figures.

Liam had developed a specific “forming” foam that could fill a depression or mold. The foam would go into the mold soft and rise in a manner similar to dough. Then it would harden to a rubber consistency. It had worked very well on some cases in the past, especially using it on tire treads and inside the mouths of cannons and such. Whether or not it would work in the human forms was the test. If so, Liam would remain in Pompeii throughout the summer, and into the fall. He would be pouring and removing the rubberized forms of the humans caught in time from the ash explosion followed by the rain in Pompeii on that dreadful day, encasing those poor souls in cement like forms.

Dr. Shaker found 4 different “forms” from broken human remain forms, and left Liam to start the process of the “foaming”. Liam was mixing the solutions, and wanted to be very sure that he wouldn’t be overfilling the forms or underfilling them. Once the forms were broken open, they would not have a second chance. So the practice “foams” had to work. He whistled softly to himself while working, turning the different elements of his dream around in his head. He was surprised that the location had affected him so strongly.

Finally ready for his first attempt, Liam poured the “foamat” into the portion of plaster “person cast” he had and then had some time on his hands. While the foam rose and dried, he decided to go to the forum restoration. On his way he passed by a bath house where several workers were conferring over the wall murals. He saw Jill, located in the crowd, and went over to see if she was busy. When Jill saw Liam, she stepped away from the group and said” Hey Lee, what are you up to?” “Just waiting for my first “foamat” trial to dry, and see how they separate from the casts,” he said. “Want to go for some coffee?” Jill grimaced, “Unfortunately, I have to stay here. There is writing within the mural, and they need a translation, as well as the correct lettering to keep the piece authentic”. She looked disappointed. “What if I bring some back for you,” Liam asked, “Perhaps you could take a break then?” Jill smiled happily, “That’s a super idea! I would love some coffee and catching up with you, and this way I’m not leaving my work! You know how demanding Dr. Williams can be.” “Yeah,” said Liam, what is with that dude anyway?” They both laughed. “I suspect he was shorted at the manners line when they were handed out,” said Jill, “Nevermind. Bring me back that coffee so we can fill each other in!”

Liam headed off to the food tent for the coffee. To his surprise, there was not only coffee, but some specialty creams and foams available as well. “Wow,” Liam said, “I never knew Pompeii served Latte”s. ” The server laughed and got Liam two coffees to go. “Enjoy yourself” he said. As Liam headed back to the bath house, he checked the time. He still had plenty of time before he needed to be back to his section of the workspace but he hustled so that he could spend more time with Jill.

Restoration, cont.- (Chapter 2 cont. end)

Exterior of a thermopolium in Pompeii, Italy.

Image via Wikipedia

Lee wandered about the amphitheater, admiring all the work and restoration that had gone into it. It was obvious that the leaders in cultural anthropology thought long and hard about how to bring Pompeii back to life. Many of the homes were being restored, and businesses restructured. Small plaques set about explaining the reasoning of certain home structures and business areas. Becoming engrossed in the architecture, Liam almost missed the first of the human statuary he went by. It startle him to realize that this has been a real person, caught in time forever in that position.

As he continued about the main street of Pompeii, more of the same statuary were about, some sitting, some curled up, some holding hands and lying together. Liam was moved by all the “people” caught by the eruption, and realized he had quite the job soon. It was supposed to be him that would bring to life the looks and personalities of those who have been stored in stasis by time. Suddenly he noticed someone was calling his name. Looking about, he was startled and delighted to see a former classmate, Jill Anton, who was a language expert, able to translate many of the different lost languages.

“Jill” he called out delightedly, “How are you? What brings you here?” “You do,”she responded. “I heard they hired you to bring the people to life here, and since they have a number of documents they need translated from shipping manifests and such, I applied and got the job!” The two of them caught up for a few minutes, then separated, as Jill had to go and move into her tent. It was getting late in the day, and Liam decided to go back to the living quarters. Along the way, it sounded like someone was following behind him. Looking back, he saw no one, but could not shake the feeling he was hearing soft footfalls behind him. Shaking it off as jitters of a first day on the job, he went into the bustling meal tent to join in supper.

Supper over, Liam headed for bed. He knew the next few days were going to be eventful, from learning which format he would need to create the people molds, to creating, or rather, replicating a life-like image. It wasn’t long when he went to his bunk and sacked out for the night.

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