A man came over and sat with
he said, “You’re looking for
It appeared that they were privileged to meet a local town character. He was paunchy and bandy legged with thinning hair, a red nose and a missing tooth. There is something pleasant about a person who lives with no regrets, and it seemed that at the very least this man would never have reason to regret that he had not drunk more in his life. The stranger continued in a whisper, after a suspicious glance around. It was incongruous. If he was afraid of being overheard, he could not possibly know he was not talking to the very people he was trying to keep the secret from.
“Predicted the end of the
world, he did.
“Yes. It’s written in The Book. They’re going to thrown us all in a big wine press – you know what a wine press is? – and mash us. He pressed one palm upon the other. “And the blood. The blood’s going to be everywhere.”
“‘And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs,’” quoted Hapgood.
“Well you see?” said the stranger. He seemed pleased that he was having an impact.
“How many people is that,
“Well a furlong is six hundred sixty feet. How high is a bridle, Ivan.”
“Lying on the ground or hanging from a hook?”
“On the horse.”
“How big a horse? And is he lying down or reared up on his hind legs?”
“He’s standing in a deep puddle.”
“Well if he’s in a puddle, by the time it gets over his back he’s swimming. It will never get up to his bridle.”
“But the profile won’t be a neat triangle. It will be deepest and steepest at the center and at the edges it will be nearly level, so we ought to divide by about four for about eight hundred billion cubic feet.
“A person probably carries a gallon of blood, but with an inefficient process like a wine press you aren’t going to recover more than about a pint, or say thirty two cubic inches. A cubic foot is cubic inches, divided by thirty two gives you fifty four people per cubic foot. Eight hundred billion divided by fifty four is about fourteen billion. I can’t make it less than fourteen billion any way you try.”
“Four feet,” said
“All right then,” said
The stranger did not look very pleased. He seemed to think he was being mocked, but he was not sure how. He left them.
The bubble popped.
While the four were deciding
that they would angle back toward the south and west and thus return to the
line as they continued to work on the last message,
The Romans had much looked forward to gaining in their victory the services of the brilliant man. But he had been killed negligently by an ignorant and hot headed common soldier. The soldier had found Archemedes drawing in the sand. Such was the stupidity, the pointlessness of war.
“When the Romans built a theatre,” the guide explained. “It was usually of big brick vaults stacked on top of each other to give it the basic shape and support. But this theatre is hollowed out of natural rock, meaning the vaults were not needed for that. But it appears that they had shops and other things in the vaults. It was part of the show experience. So they hollowed out this cave beneath the theatre itself where they could have their shops anyway.”
“And their brothels,” thought
As the two entered, high above them was a rectangle of bright light. The enlarged cavern extended far around to the right, following the curve of the theatre itself.
“That window is the Ear of Dionysus. It opens onto the back of the theatre.” said the guide. “And look here. The door of the cave was natural, but here they cut away blocks of stone. Even now you see the rectangles where the rock was removed. They wheeled the blocks away by means of giant iron wheels with iron axels.”
Later as they were visiting
the theatre itself
Later they visited the altars
That sounded encouraging somehow. At least at one time there seemed like too many people. But it proved nothing. The free food dole could just as well have been a desperate attempt to draw more people in to fill the withering ranks of the city.
The bones of the dead
civilizations seemed to dwarf even the accomplishments of the present. They were everywhere. Even back home in
If the logic of cities lying
in a straight line was good, it would always have been good. The chain of cities he was following also
might have had their rises and falls, always with a
He remembered the bad news he
had heard in
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