Tuesday, June 23, 2009

In Vino Veritas - outside the contest

I will be away at the time Jason will officially declare open his new contest, but his superb photograph told me a story that I couldn't resist. So here it is, my version of it...




Bellissimo,” she whispered. “How old are they?”

Constellations unravelled luxuriously under the gold of candles spread on the polychrome marble floor.

Signora, I give you the tomb of Balbillus, astrologist to the emperors Claudius, Nero and Vespasian. We are the first to see it. Tomorrow is for the world…”

“Harry…”

“Imagine, this could be the air they breathed. A bubble of perfectly preserved time…”

A sparkling table was set in the middle of the room.

“A romantic dinner in an ancient tomb. How wicked, Dr. Beecham!”

He bowed.

“Just for you, contessina.”

He worked the seal of a dusty amphora.

“Harry?”

“A taste of what they drank. Maybe a glimpse into… their Rome.

“How do you know it’s wine?”

“I accidentally broke one yesterday…”

He pointed at the bottle of Laffite on the table. “We have a backup in case it’s turned sour.”

He poured into the crystal glasses, a blood-red honey surprisingly translucent after 2000 years.

“To you, contessa.”

“To ancient Rome.”

They sipped. It was the strongest cognac, the sweetest.

She saw Harry fall before her world turned into a whirlwind.


*


Strident noises funnelling into shouts, into thundering steps. Smoke.

Harry’s voice above her, with quiet urgency. “Dearest, we must run. It’s the fire.”

At last, she understood, beyond reason.

“No, we must see if he’s… playing the fiddle.”

They stumbled, half-carrying each other, against the crowd in tunics and togas, barely shunning chariots and horses.

Before them, the Palatine loomed enormous, darkness punctuated with incandescence.

64 AD.

17 comments:

Catvibe said...

I love it! The wine made them go back in time! This is a wonderful story Vesper. I really love your floor detail in the first part. I used to have a floor in my old house, that I painted myself out of copper and black epoxy and gold dust. It looked like constellations in gold, so I couldn't help but think of that in your story. Great spacing and action, very well done. I'm really struggling on mine, so reading yours is excellent inspiration.

the walking man said...

If only it didn't take 2000 years for the wine to acquire that hallucinogenic property, I would become a wine imbiber.

BernardL said...

That would have won it for me. Tense expectation, knowing they were out of their minds for drinking it. :)

strugglingwriter said...

Yay time travel! :)

You have quite a poetic way with words. Very nice.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

ooooo...what a take. Luxurious in every detail. This, in and of itself, is complete...but I would love for you to extend this in your own wonderful way. In otherwords, I'm sad this ended - I'd like to read more. Perfect, Vesper!

Aniket said...

Wow! What a way to start of the event (Yes, for me this starts it with a big bang :D)

Yours was my favorite the last time. I have a feeling this would have surely been among the favorites to say at the very least. :P

You know how I share your passion about time travel. :D And to throw in such a lovely set up. I loooooovvvhhh it. Beam me back Scotty!

Charles Gramlich said...

En vino, tempus.

The Blonde Duck said...

You're a gorgeous writer. I literally felt swept away. My favorite line was "She saw Harry fall before her world turned into a whirlwind."

Geraldine said...

Wonderful read Vesper. Such an engaging and unique tale.

Happy Travels...to wherever that may be.

Hugs, G

jason evans said...

What a stellar idea!! I can very much relate to the desire to drink what they drank. Once I had some Madiera from the 1840's. Pretty amazing to have something like that preserved. Something you can take inside of you.

Sorry this won't be in the contest. :(

laughingwolf said...

excellent taste, v... in tales and vintages :DS

Vesper said...

Cat, thank you so much! I’m glad you liked my little story. I wasn’t sure if I should post it or not for fear of perturbing other people’s work with it…
Good luck with yours! :-)
(Your floor must’ve been splendid. And you painted it! Wow!)

Mark, maybe not two thousand years, if you drink an astrologer’s wine… :-)

Oh, Bernard, thank you! :-) Yeah, they were pretty crazy, weren’t they? :-)

Paul, I’d love to travel in time… *sigh* … well, I mean in other directions than the one we’re all following…
Thank you! :-)

Kaye, what can I say… I’m overwhelmed. Your words make my heart sing. Thank you, my dear Kaye! :-)

Aniket!!! You are so sweet. Your enthusiasm is contagious. Thank you, thank you, and thank you! :-) Yeah, beam me back, Scotty! :-) :-) :-)

That could be quite true, Charles… :-)

Blonde Duck, thank you so much! Much appreciated. :-)

Thank you, Geraldine, on both counts! You are very kind! :-)
*many hugs*

Jason, how interesting… a wine from the 1840s… that really takes you back in time…
Thank you for your very kind words! (“stellar” is, well, stellar…) :-) :-) :-)
I’m looking forward to reading all the stories.

LW, thanks!!! You’re spoiling me… :-) :-) :-)

laughingwolf said...

someone has to, at least online ;)

Vesper said...

LW, I must admit I like it... :-)

L.A. Mitchell said...

What's NOT to love about time travel. LOVED it, Vesper, but you know that already :)

Taffiny said...

Hope you have an incredible time.
I am looking forward to the pictures you will bring back, both from camera and pen.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

WOW!!! How exciting!

Oh PLEASE finish it!! How very 'connecticut yankee in king arthurs court' and wonderful!

I love stories like this one!

Keep writing it!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore