The only passenger who has an inkling as to when we might be going, and who we might meet, is my old friend, Howard. He and I have corresponded for years about our various time travels. He knows all about the many visits that I’ve made to Syracuse to chat with Archie, as I call him. To show a little more respect to one of the most influential figures in history, you may all know him as Archimedes.
“You’re taking us to meet Archie, aren’t you Lance?”
“Yes! It is true, folks. Today we are going back to Syracuse in the third century BC to meet a very good friend of mine. Howard referred to him as ‘Archie’, but you all know him as the one and only, the truly great mathematician, scientist, engineer, astronomer, and inventor . . . <dramatic pause> . . . Archimedes!”
Some of the newcomers on this tour simply cannot believe what is happening. Nydia, Carrie and Donna chatter amongst themselves, and turn to frequent traveller, Hugh to ask if this could possibly be true.
“Fasten your seat-belts, ladies! We’re off to Syracuse,” confirms Hugh with a huge grin.
To the delight of all, I announce that this is, indeed, going to be the best coach trip yet. I tell them that I have paid many visits to Archie over the years, or over the centuries, and he is very much looking forward to meeting a bus-full of my friends from the twenty-first century.
Krissy already has her notebook out and is furiously scribbling. She promises Howard that she will have a fresh poem about the trip for him to sing to the tune of his Spanish guitar by the time we make our way home. Howard loves the idea. Bec and CC can hardly wait to hear the new song.
Our magical bus eventually comes to rest in the central piazza of Syracuse. It magically adopts the disguise of a stone building, blending perfectly with its surroundings.
As we emerge into the strong Sicilian sunshine, Archimedes, who had been sitting on the wall of the fountain, leaps to his feet.
“Welcome! Welcome! Oh Lance! My friend! You brought all these people from the future to visit me, just as you promised.”
My passengers are even more excited than the great man.
The tube that Archimedes had been holding immediately catches Michaela’s eye. Knowing perfectly well what it was, but with her heart pumping hard at the sight of the original, she stammers her inquiry as to its identity.
“It’s simply a large screw inside a tube. Hold that end under the water, and I’ll show how it works.” He turned the handle to raise the water out of the fountain and spill it onto the ground.
“What will you use it for?” asked Jason, expecting the answer to be, “For irrigation,” as he had learned in school.
“I intend to install them in the bilges of the new giant luxury cruise ship that I have designed for the king. It would take all of the crew all of their time to empty the bilge water using the traditional method of using buckets as we would do in smaller ships and boats. My screw device will make the job much easier for them.”
Everybody is fascinated by this revelation.
“Did you get any of you friends to bring mirrors, as I asked Lance?”
Immediately, at least a dozen passengers produce mirrors from their pockets and purses.
Archimedes enlists the help of Sassy, Amber, Steve and Allison to line the mirrors up so that they focus the powerful rays of the sun on to a pile of twigs that he had prepared in advance of our arrival. Within seconds, they burst into flames.
“We will arrange huge mirrors on the cliff tops in exactly the same way. The Roman Navy are in for a hotter welcome that they could ever expect,” he chortled.
For the rest of the day, the crowd of trippers explore the town and the surrounding areas. It thrills us all to see the famous giant catapults being hauled up the hill to add to the preparations for the reception party for the mainland invaders. Some of the tourists stay in the square to chat with Archie.
As the sun starts to set, I round up my passengers and shepherd them on board the awaiting coach.
Oh no! There are two empty seats. We can’t possibly head home until I find the missing passenger. Imagine what the Health and Safety Time Police would have to say if I left anybody over two thousand years behind my coach!
“Come on! We must leave immediately. Everybody else is waiting on the bus for us.”
“Just look at these, Lance. Do you understand what these are. They are the foundations of integral calculus. He is calculating the area inside a segment of a circle and under a parabola. It’s amazing!”
“Yes. I know. He’s explained it to me many times. But, I am sorry, we need to go right now!”
“Aw. Just a few more minutes, Lance. PLEEEEEZE!”
“No. Sorry. Let’s take our memories and head back. We could miss our window and end up in entirely the wrong century.”
So we make our way back to the bus. Waving a cheery farewell to our distinguished host, we depart on our way back to Victoria Coach Terminus and the twenty-first century.
By the time we arrive, everybody has learned the lyrics of the new “Song for Archie”, written by CC and Howard, and we are singing along with great gusto. It is bound to be a big hit!
Don’t forget to vote on our next destination. See you all again soon.