Excerpt for Myth Gods Tech 2 - Omnibus Edition: Science Fiction Meets Greek Mythology In The God Complex Universe by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Myth Gods Tech 2

Omnibus Edition

Ver 1.0.1

George Saoulidis

Copyright © 2019 George Saoulidis

Cover image credit, Mike Winkelmann, AKA beeple

Published by Mythography Studios

Smashwords Edition

All rights reserved.

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

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Crying Over Spilt Light

Chapter Zero

The lady in blue stood still, looking at the corner of the room. The air was undisturbed around her, dust particles descending, a few sun beams briefly illuminating their swirling trajectory.

The body that had caused all this dust upheaval was lying still in the middle of the thick carpet. A tall man, heavy, not of muscle but rather of spaghetti and feta cheese, was facedown, his limbs motionless, drool dripping on the carpet, absorbed instantly. His small glasses were crushed underneath his skull, their skeleton distorted but their lenses intact.

The lady in blue raised her eyes to the whiteboard.

The movement of her eyelashes was not enough to disturb the falling dust.

Mathematical symbols were scrawled on the whiteboard, half of it seemingly written, erased and rewritten a billion times. The top left part was dry, scratched, old. A beginning that had tormented the heavy man for years. The whiteboard was featured prominently in the room, a totem raised high, a constant reminder for the heavy man to keep on working, keep on thinking about what the symbols meant.

There was not much else worth mentioning in the room. It was as if someone had inherited their mother’s house, full of bric-a-brac – drawn thread work linens doilies and other handicrafted item characteristic of a Greek house – and then meticulously removed everything, leaving an obvious discolored patch on the varnish of the furniture. Old, handmade furniture, with creaky latches and uneven feet, made steady through a well-placed folded newspaper page, pressed flat by the weight of years, almost back to the wood pulp it had come from. Someone raised in such a home could easily identify most of the objects missing, from their shadows alone.

There, a thick photo frame. There, hung by the missing nail, be a decorated plate, one that people once seemed to love putting on their walls. Its shape was almost a perfect print on the wall, like an inverse shadow. There, a white crocheted doily would cover that perfect triangular shape.

All of it missing.

The woman in blue walked towards the whiteboard, her soft steps finally disturbing the dust motes and causing them to circle around her. She picked up the marker from the floor, carefully cut a page from a notepad and wrote down the mathematical symbols from the board. She double-checked them, making sure it was all there and then grabbed the torn cloth beside her and wiped the board slowly. She pressed the cloth hard and made sure it was all wiped off properly. The top left part of the symbols resisted for a time, but then gave way.

She put the cloth back and folded the page. Effortlessly.

Then she tucked the folded page inside her blue dress, right next to her heart. Effortlessly.

And then she dragged the heavy man by his leg all the way down the hall. Effortlessly.

Chapter i

Yanni went upstairs to his office/lab. He fired up the laser and turned on the computer attached to it. He closed the blinds to darken the room, wore his protective glasses, took out his e-cig and vaped in the path of the blue laser beam pointing to the ceiling.

The fake cigarette smoke made the laser visible, but it was still going up straight as an arrow.

Yanni was annoyed by that silly adherence to the laws of nature.

He puffed a few more breaths and punched different variables in Matlab.

The blue light beam simply flickered a bit, but kept on straight.

Yanni grunted and then stared at the blue dot on the ceiling, thinking about equations.

He worked hard like that for seven hours straight.

Thalia came up and brought him a sandwich. “Were you sitting in the dark all day?” she asked.

“I can’t see the laser with a ten thousand lumen light source flooding the place,” he said.

She forced a smile, clearly not getting the concept and she told him, “I need you to look after the kids, need to shop a few things.”

“Yeah, coming right down,” said Yanni to her as she was closing the door.

She left him downstairs, sitting on the couch, with the baby in his arms and Georgie throwing flour on his toy truck. Cartoons were playing on the TV, loud to near cochleus-bursting levels and the baby was crying for her mother. He picked her up in his arms and gave her a pacifier. Then he grabbed the tablet to message his friends on Facebook. He started tapping then realized the screen was dirty with chocolate, so he wiped it hastily. He added all his friends to a group chat on Facebook and told them about the party Thalia was making preparations for.

Then he needed to text Niko. His friend was the only one not on Facebook, he was old-fashioned that way. He knew about it of course, but he always insisted on never accepting Facebook addresses from girls, only their phone numbers (if they didn’t hop on his ride right away). He thought of anonymously checking out a girl’s photos as perverted, and they sent him their nude pictures by themselves anyway as soon as they found out he was an architect.

Nikos called him back, “Yasou, did you think I would forget man? September the second, the night we burn the house down, every year, fifteen years on now!”

Yanni felt slightly ashamed and said, “Yeah, I’m afraid the party will be a bit calmer this year.”

Nikos said, “Like the one last year and the one before that. Getting married does that to you. Yeah, no problem man, I just want to hang out with you guys, I never get to see you anymore.”

“About that, it might help if you bring along a more suitable date. Last time, our wives nearly tore our eyes out, man. You fueled the fire for decades of nagging,” said Yanni.

“Haha, yes, that was priceless!” said Nikos laughing. “No, don’t worry, I have no date. I’ll come solo.”

Yanni frowned at the unusual statement and asked, “Solo? You? How come?”

“I found my Muse,” Nikos replied. “Let’s go for a drink and I’ll tell you all about her.”

“You sound serious. I need to know more,” said Yanni.

They arranged a time and place and then Yanni checked out the tablet, which was now covered in flour and drool. Georgie was sitting on his truck pretending to steer a freight of precious flour. The other married friends had all replied to the group chat, had liked and sent smilies and started talking about bringing that fine bottle of wine everyone had liked so much last time.

Yanni sat on the couch, held his baby and waited for his wife to return. All he really wanted was for his Muse to come back.

Chapter i^2

“You’re not that old. We’re the same age. Are you saying I’m old too?” Thalia asked with a mind-your-words look on her face.

Yanni opened his arms in an apologetic gesture and replied, “No, of course not. I’m talking about academic age. About ideas. I just don’t feel that snappy anymore.”

Thalia thought about the situation seriously, cradling the baby who was asleep; the very image of cuteness. “Yanni, just take it as far as you can carry it. Maybe it needs to be passed on to the next torchbearer. Whom you will teach and bring to the finish line. Is that such a bad thing?”

“Ugh. It’s my idea, honey. I’ve worked so many years on it, I would hate to see it in someone else’s hands,” Yanni said, not really talking to anyone but himself.

Thalia walked in front of him demanding attention and said, “Yanni. If you establish a considerable part of your proof, they have no other choice but to credit you. Think of your family, do a good job, pass it on and let someone else finish the race.” She passed the baby on to him so that she should do the house chores.

He tended to the baby and then put her in the cradle. He turned the jingly tune on and she laughed at him, her eyes never really focusing anywhere but watching everything around her.

He spent the day working in his home lab. At least he remembered to turn the laser on this time.

He looked at it. It looked at him back, unflinching.

He wore his protective glasses and increased the intensity. “All I need is a Eureka moment. A bit of luck,” he thought. He knew of course that the eureka moment was a myth. Real science was slow and steady, or not so steady and full of dead-ends. At most, you would have a Huh-that’s-funny moment that would lead somewhere.

It wouldn’t hurt to try his luck though.

He began inputting random values to the variables he was working with, testing the laser after each one. The apodicticity of his proof was dependent on Maxwell’s equations, which, in their simplicity, had infinite permutations. He had a better chance of scoring with Kate Upton than randomly typing the variable that would validate his demonstration.

Type. Enter. No change.

Type again. Enter. Same.

Then he tried their anniversary, no use holding back on superstition now.


Georgie’s birthday?

Then the phone rang. Thankfully.

The text from Nikos said: "A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30 will never do so. Albert Einstein."

Yanni started texting back something along the lines of, “Gee, thanks for twisting the knife,” but a car honked from the street below and it was obviously Nikos.

He rushed outside, eager for a change of scenery and closed the door on Thalia’s “No drinking” comment. He felt bad and peeked back inside the house and told her, “Ok honey, no drinking. Promise.”

Nikos was waiting in his convertible, laid back with eased hands as if sitting on a sofa. He was smiling at some girls crossing the street and they were smiling back.

“That was your chick maneuver, sending the text and then honking a few seconds later while I was replying. Don’t do that again to me,” said Yanni with spite, not getting in the car.

“Hey, you invented it, man. I simply honed it to perfection!” said Nikos and they both laughed loudly.

“Yeah, that seems to be the pattern lately,” said Yanni with a sad and worried look on his face.

Chapter i^3

“What’s done is done,” she replied for the tenth time, while folding the curtains from his office/lab. She had taken out anything untouched by the fire so that it would not absorb the smell. Then her face showed legitimate worry and she asked quietly, “Will Demokritos replace the laser?”

Yanni sat down and puffed a few long breaths of air, as if the answer was to be found in the molecules around him. “Nai. Yes, they have to. But it will take forever to do the paperwork and get it approved. It can’t be done in time for the funding review.”

Thalia tucked the corners of the curtains as perfectly as she could. This was something she could control and she calmed herself by doing the work flawlessly. “I know the laser is expensive, can’t we get that money from somewhere in the meantime? From Nikos, for example?”

Yanni searched for spite in her voice but found none. Her suggestion was cold and logical, not vindictive. And she was right. “We can. Yes. But the problem is not the cost, it’s the availability. The parts are both expensive and not available to private individuals. Having the money is not enough, you also need to be a research centre to even obtain something like it. Or a big corporation’s R&D department, something like that.”

“Can’t you explain the setback to the review committee?”

Yanni thought about the call earlier, an associate warning him about the new administrator who was determined to cut off his funding. He decided not to tell that to his wife, to leave a shred of hope hanging. She was calm, but she might need nothing more than this new piece of information to tip her over. “Yeah, sure. They are not unapproachable, I’ll call them first thing tomorrow morning.”

He forced a smile, kissed her and went upstairs to his office/lab. He sat on his chair as he always did and inspected the damage. It wasn’t much but it could be a lot worse. The laser had a big burn on the top of its case, obviously from overheating. The wiring was burnt and smelling bad, plastic always does that. The edge of the desk was singed, one corner of his chair also, the carpet too. Mr. Andreas really did try to avoid spraying the laser, he managed to foam a circle around and choked off the flame’s oxygen. Practical man, his thinking might had saved tens of thousands of euros in repairs. The carpet was destroyed though. It’s OK. Yanni even entertained the thought of debating his wife and leaving the room exactly like that.

Scars of a failure.

He thought about turning the laser back on. Maybe that was his lucky accident. Maybe this was to be his Eureka moment, the part where an accident in the lab leads to a new world-changing discovery. It was foolish of him, but the temptation to try was too much.

He argued that the laser was already damaged, so he couldn’t make it worse. He brought an old blanket just in case, claiming to Thalia that he was keeping the window open and it was chilly. It was already dark, so that wasn’t far from the truth.

He held the blanket in hand in case of another fire and turned the laser on, hoping for the life-altering Eureka moment of his dreams.

Chapter i^4

When the laser arrived, it was like Christmas. His eyes lit up while unraveling the extreme protective packaging.

“Is the effect visible to the naked eye?” asked Ourania.

Yanni blew away some leftover Styrofoam balls. “No, I use the polarized glasses to see the moiré pattern. The math predicts that when the equations align, that particular wavelength will produce a moiré effect when seen through glasses.”

And then he added with a hint of pride, “I came up with that.”

“That’s brilliant, Yanni!” she said. “That way, you don’t need a quantum computer chip to actually test the theory.”

“Correct. It’s part of the reason I managed to keep my funding all this time, because the test was relatively cheap.”

He held the laser like a kid would hold a shiny toy train and ran upstairs to hook it up.

Chapter 2i

Yanni paced up and down the empty room and he was furious.

What was Hermes doing with these kids? Were they using them for some sort of human interaction experiment? Was it safe? If it wasn’t safe, would anyone ever know? What morals were they teaching those kids? If one of them hurt another, what would their adoptive mother do about it?

All reason left him and all he wanted was to yell at the cameras for putting them up to this, for putting Alex up to this, and take the little boy back home, where he would be safe, where he would grow up in a real home, with a real mom.

The reasonable part of his brain took over and had him think that they engineered that. The toy was exactly the same as his son’s, the kid could pass off as Georgie’s brother if he had to. They had set the whole thing up for this response, this was a test. Even if he could take the kid and adopt him and give him a loving family, what could he do about the rest of them? And who was to say that they weren’t better off this way? Most probably, the best colleges lied in their future, them being true corporate offspring and loyal to the bone. Who was he to decide to take this away?

He couldn’t save them. Especially not now. Maybe in the future, when he had finished his proof. When he had the same pull with this company as Niko had. Maybe then he could do something for this. Threaten telling the media. Anything.

But he had to win this battle. For him, for his family, for science, for everyone. This sadistic battle, built as if it was meant to torment him.

He calmed himself and sat down. He hoped he hadn’t scared the kid off, but if Alex was startled, he didn’t show it.

“Alex,” he said with the sweetest voice he could muster. “I’m here to teach you something. Would you like that?”

Alex smiled and bobbed his cute head up and down in assent.

“Okay. Here it goes. You know about computers, right? They must give you tablets and things like that to play games, right?” he asked with an anticipation matching the one after his marriage proposal.

Alex nodded positively.

“Great. Those computers have a machine brain inside them. We call that a processor. Are you with me?”

“Yes. Pro-scissor.”

“Let’s call it that, it doesn’t matter. The pro-scissor needs to be fast for games to play fast. We hate it when games go slow, right? Great. So we make faster and faster pro-scissors, but the stuff we put in there cannot go too fast. They are lazy and say ‘Oh! Don’t push us so hard’ and they sit around, not doing the job.”

Alex giggled and nodded.

“Great. So, we need to put faster stuff in there, thingies that are not lazy. And you know what the fastest thing in the whole world is?”

Alex shook his head and his eyes demanded to know the answer.

“Light. Light from the sun is the fastest thing in the whole world. It’s not lazy at all. But sunlight is so fast, that you need something clever to keep it in,” said Yanni and cupped air with both his hands. He shook his palms, still closed together as if he was holding a wasp. That seemed to entertain Alex a lot.

“When I tell Mr. Sunlight to do a job, I need to see if he did it or not, right?”


“So I take a peek,” he said taking a peek between his cupped hands and Alex leaning close to see as well, “but Mr. Sunlight finds the hole and spills out!” He opened his hands and let the imaginary Mr. Sunlight free.

“Heehee! Like. Like the flour.”

“Just like the flour.”

“Then mommy is mad at the mess we made!”

“Yes! So, we need to find a way to make the sunlight roll around in circles. So when we take a peek, most of the sunlight will stay inside. A man named Maxwell, who had a great big bushy beard, thought of tricking the sunlight into knots. Just like my shoelace, here see? I made a knot, so it won’t go anywhere.”

“I can’t tie my shoelaces yet and that’s why I have scratch shoes.”

“I know, I couldn’t tie my shoelaces either when I was little. But now I can, I learned the trick. And I am also trying to learn to tie sunlight into knots, so it stays there and does not spill out. I just need to find the trick.”

“And then you can throw away the scratch shoes for sneakers with shoelaces, which are faster and then you can be faster.”


“And then you can be fast enough to do the tricks to Mr. Sunlight to plup-plup around in little… in little knots, like the shoelaces and you can take a peek fast enough to close your hands again,” said Alex, peeking between his tiny hands.

So this was how a Eureka moment looked like.

“And then?”

“And then the pro-scissor won’t be lazy and do the job fast and I won’t have to wait for the slow game!”

Someone clapped. A slow, full clap. Yanni turned around and saw the smart-dressed woman from before. “Excellent Dr. Tsafantakis. Come with me. Don’t worry, they will come pick up the child in a moment.”

Yanni waved goodbye to Alex. The child looked up and asked, “Are you allowed to bring Georgie to play with me?”

“That is the first thing I am going to ask this nice lady. Goodbye, Alex,” he said.

“Goodbye, Mister,” said Alex and went back to playing with his toy truck.

Yanni followed the smart-dressed woman into the next room. At this point, he was prepared for anything.

Chapter 2i^2

The sun was going down, but it was still bright. Yanni enjoyed the wind on his face and the sound of old music on the radio. Nikos was taking the scenic route, going up to Parnitha Mountain. It got noticeably chilly as they went higher but it was invigorating.

The casino was Niko’s idea, all of their old haunts had closed down anyway, and all of their new ones were kid-friendly, so Yanni wouldn’t even dare suggest them. Nikos brought the cabrio to the entrance, the valet greeted him by name and parked the car next to other expensive two-seaters.

Nikos showed him in with open arms as if he was selling the place. “Now, isn’t this more manly? Look at the view,” he said and they sat down on luxurious leather.

Yanni looked at the city below as Nikos ordered whiskey. The northern suburbs were pretty much the same as always, a place of relative safety and costly big houses with gardens or cozy three-bedroom apartment buildings for families. Athens extended in the south too, but faded out in the horizon, which was seemingly brought closer by the humid air and the gray smog. Peeking through the lowest level of the atmosphere were the new skyscrapers at the city centre, tall beasts of glass and steel getting erected with impossible speed, seemingly forming like crystals out of thin air. He thought of his light crystals, imagined how they looked in reality. Would they seem as beautiful, formed into lattices out of the foundation of a computer chip? Were these skyscrapers as ephemeral as his light crystals, or were they here to stay?

“Which one is yours?” Yanni asked. Nikos lit the tip of a cigar and pointed at the skyscrapers, “The second one from the left. I’m all done with that, nothing more for me to do. It’s up to the contractors now to build it, and damn, do they work fast. Even I can’t believe it’s been only six months and it’s halfway complete. It existed only on my mind for so long and now it pops out of the ground and changes the landscape.”

Yanni knew the feeling. The existing-only-in-his-mind feeling, not the popping out yet, because his work was still in progress. That is why Nikos liked coming up here so much. It must be thrilling to be able to see the progress on your work from so far away while sitting on a leather chair and smoking a cigar. It certainly took the term front row seat to a whole new scale.

“They are throwing a lot of money into it, aren’t they?” Yanni asked, and leaned forward to light his cigar.

Nikos replied, “A lot? Try boatloads. Let’s smoke some of that money.”

“Thalia is gonna kill me for that cigar smell,” said Yanni and puffed out smoke slowly, enjoying the aroma.

“Just blame it on me, say I smoked and dropped ash on you by accident or something,” said Nikos. “You need to take a pause and enjoy it! How is your apodeixis going?” he asked, referring to the proof Yanni was working on the last few years.

Yanni sighed and gazed out the window again. “I don’t know man. I could be this close and not know it, or I could be a universe away. It needs to click, you know? If I am right and get the equations to work, they will snap perfectly like gears in a Swiss watch.”

Nikos was looking at him with real empathy. “I get it, Yanni. No, I don’t get the theoretical math, no way, but I get it as a concept. You need to get the forces involved to play along or it will all come tumbling down.”

Yanni laughed and said, “With a lot less rubble involved than in your case but yes, basically that’s it.”

Nikos leaned forward and make him look him in the eye. “You don’t get it, do you? I make things that are already here, it’s nothing new. It’s a reapplication of things we already know, just put in a new context. You are trying to make something new. Your apodeixis is buried deep in your mind, and no one else can dig it out. Someone else can design my skyscraper. No one else can solve your apodeixis.”

“I know, but these days it feels as if I am chasing the end of the rainbow,” said Yanni. “Demokritos has scheduled a review of my funding in a month. They might cut me off. We talked with Thalia, I might apply for a teaching job at the uni or…”

Nikos put down his cigar and spat out, “Teaching? TEACHING? Fuck that. Fuck Demokritos, what do they know? You don’t do teaching! You will get a fucking Nobel prize for this proof.”

His friend’s belief in him brought tears into Yanni’s eyes but he fought them back. “It really means a lot to me that you say that. But it might be time to cut my losses short and do something stable. I have a family now and I need to take care of them.”

“That’s Thalia talking. That’s her words coming out of your mouth. You can do both,” said Nikos.

Yanni replied, “They might cut my funding and I have nothing to show them. There is no way to do both.”

Nikos exhaled thick cigar smoke slowly and said, “Actually there might be one. My new job is making a skyscraper for Hermes Information Technology. They make half the computers in the world.” He raised a finger on the left hand. “You have a proof that can make quantum computers possible,” he said and raised the right hand finger. He brought them both close and said, “I can get your presentation to the right person. Hell, I’ll make the CEO’s mistress serve it to him in bed if I have to. You deserve this. You have to solve the apodeixis.”

Yanni leaned back as if he was exhausted. “I am not sure if I can solve it… It’s… it’s like I have no inspiration. Theoretical physics is basically imagination with a bunch of math involved,” he said.

“Of course you can’t! You can’t even finish a phone call with all that noise and distractions, let alone a new proof,” said Nikos. “I have one word to say to you: Ellipsis.”

“What do you mean,” Yanni asked.

“Ellipsis. It’s the way I managed to find my inspiration and work on the new skyscraper. I found my Muse,” Nikos said, standing up and opened his arms in a receiving gesture.

Yanni said, “Oh yeah, you mentioned that on the phone. Why aren’t you dating anyone?”

Nikos sighed and said, “You are not listening. I found my Muse. She is all I need right now and she is waiting for me back home.”

Chapter 2i^3

“No man. No.”

“Come on!”

“I said no. And even if I were to come present my apodeixis, I would need to get a presentation ready. Not everyone has your charisma, some of us need to actually work on stuff instead of just relying on our smile,” said Yanni and instantly regretted that last remark.

Nikos did not really take offense but got the hint to back off. “OK. Sorry. I’m only pushy because I care. And I do actually work sometimes.”

“I know you do, I didn’t mean to say that. I meant that I need to be prepared to get my confidence up,” said Yanni.

Nikos acknowledged in silence. He turned the car around.

“Just pull over here and let me walk. It’s just a couple of blocks,” said Yanni and got off the car. He was more embarrassed than offended, ’cause of the earlier slip of the tongue. They didn’t say anything and that was okay. Men can depart in silence and leave things unspoken. Next time they met they would be old pals again. He walked back to his house, taking the longer route through a park he liked.

It wasn’t a long detour, a mere five minutes longer. As he was about to turn around to his home street he heard familiar voices shouting.

He ran to his house and saw a few of the neighbours gathered in the yard, a bit of smoke coming out of his lab/office window.

“Oh, skata! The laser…” he said and dashed through his yard.

His heart pounded for a couple of seconds that seemed like weeks. He was about to grab Miss M… (Margaret? Molly? What’s her name, who cares?) by the shoulders and shake her to find out where his family were but moira saved him some dignity and Thalia came around the house with the baby in her arms and Georgie holding tight onto her skirt.

He raised Georgie in his arms and hugged Thalia, feeling relieved. “Thank God you are ok, I couldn’t see you in the yard.”

“Yeah, I was checking the back of the house. It’s ok,” she said calmly.

“What happened? I-I know what happened, I’m such a vlakas. What did you do?” he asked, slapping his forehead.

She pointed at the man coming out of the house with a fire extinguisher in his one hand and holding a greased t-shirt over his mouth with the other. “I took the kids out, shouted for Mr. Andreas next door. He had a fire extinguisher nearby and rushed up the stairs.”

Yanni walked next to Mr. Andreas and thanked him. The neighbour took a whiff of fresh oxygen and said, “Heh, its fine. I had the fire extinguisher in my toolshed,” while raising the red canister high. “I hope that makes up for all the noise I make with my power tools!”

“It sure does!” said Yanni and laughed in relief along with the good man.

“The fire was small, especially since I got it in time. My fire extinguisher is not suitable for electronics, but I tried not to spray your setup too much. As soon as I pulled the plug the fire pretty much went out. I don’t know a lot, but that thing looks expensive.”

Yanni did not care about the laser at that time. His family could have been hurt, but any harm was avoided. That was all that mattered. He told the good man so and sent him off with a promise to pay for the refill, an offer Mr. Andreas of course refused. That is the Greek way.

He told Thalia to stay in the yard and he went up to see if the smoke had cleared. Mr. Andreas had opened the window, leaving just the smell behind. Some burnt wiring was especially irritating, but it was safe. He leaned out the window and said, “OK, come on up. The smoke is gone.”

As soon as he nodded to her that it was ok, his wife took the kids and came inside. She had to reject various offers of help from old ladies, replying politely each time. Miss M-what’s-her-name offered to put them up in her house. “We are fine, Miss Meropi, thank you very much. It was more smoke than flames, we will be okay,” Thalia said and finally managed to get inside.

Meropi. Yes, that’s her name. Yanni never could remember the damn thing.

The rest of the neighbours waited around for a while but slowly dispersed, since the couple had nothing more to show. Yanni could swear he saw two of them whispering to each other, as if this was his fault.

Which it was, actually.

Oh, what a dodged bullet that was. Yanni left the window wide open and closed the door behind him to contain some of the burned material’s smell. Thalia was oddly calm about the whole thing, but her patience was sure to run out after the initial shock. He didn’t dare look her in the eye and he said, “I’m sorry honey, I really am…”

Chapter 2i^4

The laser’s cooling fan whirred a bit and then died as well. Nothing happened. Yanni turned it off, wore the old blanket around him like the world’s most pathetic superman cape and sat down to accept the anticlimactic reality.

To be perfectly honest, the broken laser was not the problem here. The problem was his broken proof. Theoretical physics doesn’t really need anything physical to work with. His proof, Dr. Yanni Tsafantakis’ proof in what would be named the Tsafantakis Apodeixis could work in an imaginary machine with gears made of advanced mathematics and powered by academic peer pressure.

He had an available solution for the broken laser, he could reach out to that researcher in New Zealand who helped him sketch out the specifications for the gen-two laser. That man would certainly be able to gain access to a similar configuration and run the test for him. He would even act as an independent empirical validator that way.

All he needed was to send the man the right variables.

But the right variables were the gear that was missing.

Lost in thoughts, he fiddled with his phone. He saw the last text message he received, from Nikos: "A person who has not made his great contribution to science before the age of 30, will never do so. Albert Einstein."

He called him. It was late, but his friend always performed better at night so he would surely be up.

A gentle woman’s voice answered the phone. “Hello Yanni. Please wait while I pass the phone on to Nikos.”

Yanni didn’t really expect to hear a woman, so he fumbled for some words but basically replied nothing. He heard some soft steps and then she said, away from the phone, “It’s your best friend Yanni. It must be important.”

“Ela,” said Nikos.

Yanni remembered of course what he had told him about his no-more-dates-policy, but he couldn’t really believe that. “Was that her? The muse?”

“Yes, that’s her. Did something happen? Don’t worry, you didn’t interrupt me or anything, but you mister, are a family man, you don’t get to stay up late. I’ll tell Thalia!” Nikos joked.

“Come on, that’s not her! She didn’t sound… you know,” said Yanni, thinking that if it was really her, she would be able to hear them. Androids have super-hearing, right? They must have.

“Sound like an android? You can say it, you know; she doesn’t pretend to be human. Yeah, you can barely tell the difference actually,” replied Nikos with a strain in his voice that meant he was turned around and shamelessly checking her out.

“And there is another? I mean, your offer. If I were to accept that Ellipsis project, isn’t she booked with you?”

“Don’t worry man, you won’t have to share. You’ll get your own muse. It’s not like Hermes has a legion of them or something, but I told you, your apodeixis is good enough for them to spare one,” said Niko, with innuendo dripping all over that sentence.

“Fine, whatever. I changed my mind. I want to present my proof to these guys, I can do it as soon as possible.”

“Huh. Ok, tomorrow morning then.”

“That early? I’ll have to stay up all night and prepare! How can you be sure they will reschedule so soon?” asked Yanni.

“Then stay up all night. Oh man, you don’t get it, do you? These are not Demokritos turtle-paced guys! They do stuff and they do it big and they do it fast. Plus, I explained a bit of your proof to the chief R&D of quantum computing and she was drooling for it.”

“You did? But I told you I would think about it.”

“Literally. Drooling. Seriously. I have never seen a woman do that. Except when… you know.” The pause in the line told him to stay on the subject. “I knew you would change your mind,” he said.

“Ok. Thank you. If this is so, I really need to get ready and maybe I’ll manage to catch an hour of sleep or something.”

“Just like back at the university,” said Nikos and hung up.

Yanni tucked his superman cape around his frozen legs and thought about what this meant.

It’s your best friend Yanni. Those were her exact words. She couldn’t have known this from anywhere else but the man himself. Nikos thought of Yanni as his best friend, even though their lives were forcing them away from one another as years passed. And if this opportunity was the lifeline it promised to be, he would be a real friend, one which Yanni could never hope to repay in kind. He would need to sit down and talk with his wife about this, about how much they would owe to him if this went through.

But he needed to get ready first. Minutes fly away so fast when you have a finite supply of them.

Chapter 3i

Yanni sat across Ourania. His wife had left this morning, taking the kids to her mother. He had said goodbye to Georgie and the baby, but mostly Georgie since he was old enough to miss him. It was unceremonious, they didn’t want to make a big deal out of this. It would last at most a couple of months. That was what he told his son and that was what he was telling himself.

He reached out and took the small globe in his hand. By accepting this, the Ellipsis method would begin. Hopefully, it would lead to a big scientific discovery and him winning the Nobel prize. He could live with just the discovery credited to his name and no prize attached, but he had gotten pompous with all the recent events. Nikos’ optimism was getting to him.

Ourania was at the exact same position as last night, when she blurted out the terms and conditions and waited for an acceptance. This whole thing looked like a computer, frozen and waiting for you to hit the “OK” button. But where was the “Cancel” button? Did it even exist? Was he in too deep, learning of the corporate secrets of Hermes? Could he back out if he wanted to? Did he want to?

He shook his head. Of course, the cancel button was placing the globe without putting the thumb on it first. “Silly me,” he thought, remembering the day before. It was hard remembering anything but the amazing farewell sex he had with his wife. She had definitely achieved her goal, marking her presence deep in his thoughts.

This is it, he thought. The family is gone, the laser is on its way, the muse has already knocked on the door and is waiting in the living room.

Everything was in place.

He put his thumb over Greece on the small metal globe. The country was way too small of course, he covered most of Eastern Europe all the way to Iraq.

A small needle pricked him.

He was jostled by it, looking at the blood-drop falling over Africa.

Yanni placed the globe in Ourania’s palm and waited almost reverently to see what would happen.

Ourania tilted her head up, opened her eyes and looked straight into his.

Chapter 3i^2

“Why are you so nervous man? Relax!” said Nikos, sitting next to him in the lobby, with a pose fit for a king.

“Of course I’m nervous, the future of my family depends on this,” said Yanni biting his lip.

“I got your back, man. You’ll talk to a fellow scientist, not a corporate suit who knows nothing about your expertise. It will be like having a frappé with a colleague down at the uni. Sit back, gamoto and relax!”

Yeah, that actually made him unclench his fists a bit. Talking to a fellow scientist would be much preferable than trying to convince some profit-obsessed CEO to divert resources to things he could never hope to grasp. Yanni tried to take his mind off the task by examining his surroundings. The temporary main offices of Hermes Information Technology looked a lot like what you would expect their primary ones to be. Only thing they were missing was their own skyscraper with a huge corporate logo on top. Well, the man sitting next to him like royalty was the one making that happen. Good thing they were friends since before learning to ride a bike.

A dash of paranoia made Yanni think that the secretary was just delaying them before blowing them off to a rescheduled appointment, but Nikos was confident that this was the real deal. He squinted a bit to read the corporate blue overlay with the programs she was using but he was too far to make out anything. In order to calm his mind, he started studying the things that were in his power, just like Thalia did. He checked over the custom gen-two laser specifications he brought, the flash drive with the presentation he completed last night (he had already sent an email beforehand, but he wanted to hold it in his hand as a backup) and the printed renders of the Maxwell equations he was attempting to utilize.

“Dr. Tsafantakis?” said the young secretary. “You may step inside. No, alone please,” raising her palm at Nikos, polite but firm.

Yanni looked back at Nikos who made an assuring gesture at him, the one he always made when Yanni needed encouragement to go talk to a girl. “Who’s the man?”

It was also the exact same gesture that had made Yanni scrounge up enough courage to talk to Thalia for the first time. Yeah, that had worked out nicely. So will this, Yanni convinced himself and walked inside, while murmuring, “I’m the man.”

As soon as the door behind him closed the ambient noise of the corridor vanished. The room he was in could would a Spartan envious. There was only a man sitting in a chair, with a small plain drawer-case next to him. The man didn’t look like the person to oversee a theoretical physics committee. He looked like a… concierge.

“Hello, I am the commissionaire,” the man said with a forced pleasantness.

A doorman, then.

“Please, leave all your belongings with me and step inside the next room. Hermes assures you of the safety of your belongings. They will be placed inside this hermetically sealed container,” the doorman said.

Whatever, it was not theft Yanni was worried about. “Ok, here you go. My phone too, I assume. Here. What? This is my presentation. How am I to present my work withou-”

“Please. It’s company policy. You are free to decline, of course, but that would mean an immediate cancellation of your appointment. Do you want me to inform the front desk?” asked the doorman a bit louder than he really needed to inside this echoing room.

“Ohi. No. It’s ok, fine, take it. I accept. Now what?” Yanni said and emptied even the lint from his pockets.

“Excellent. Please pass though these doors for your appointment,” said the doorman and put his stuff in the drawer-case. The air flooped as it closed.

Huh. The damn thing really was hermetically sealed.

Yanni passed through a small plain corridor and stepped inside another room. There was a woman waiting there for him, dressed with a smart outfit that was equally feminine and serious. He rushed a bit too fast to get near her and shake her hand, she was obviously more suited to deal with his presentation. But she couldn’t have been the one Nikos said was drooling over his proof.

“Hello Doctor, pleased to meet you,” she said with a serious business smile.

He made to reply, the nervousness starting to take over again when a splash of colour in his peripheral vision made him turn his head. In the big empty room with them was a small child, couldn’t have been more than five years old. The child was playing with a toy truck and if Yanni squinted a bit, he could swear that he could see his own Georgie in his place.

“Um. I… Yes. Can we start, do you want me to…” Yanni said, but the smartly-dressed woman touched him on the shoulder and interrupted him.

“Dr. Tsafantakis, I will not be the one to see your presentation. The Ellipsis project needs to remain minimal in all of its aspects and all of its phases. Even early ones such as this one. You do not need a board to explain your apodeixis to, just as you do not need the renders nor the slideshow presentation you so thoughtfully sent ahead,” she said with authority and a glimmer of pride.

“Ok. Then what do I need to do?” asked Yanni.

“You need to explain your hypothesis to this child. Should the child understand, then you will be granted all you need to make it happen. Everything will be explained to you in the next phase, but you must focus on this one for now,” she said with the same tone in her voice.

“You are kidding. You are kidding me about presenting my life’s work to a kid,” said Yanni matter-of-factly.

The smartly-dressed woman tightened her dossier on her chest and leaned forward to make her point. “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Then she added with a factual tone, “Albert Einstein.”

Yanni dashed a bit back and forth and then chose his words carefully. “You want me to explain a theoretical application of Maxwell’s light bending equations to quantum computing, to a five-year old boy?”

She replied, “Yes.” The period was audible.

“Very well, then!” said Yanni, succumbing to the madness around him.

The smartly-dressed woman left the room. Yanni looked around for a chair but there was none. The floor it was, then. He squatted next to the child. His fatherly instincts kicked in and he started thinking about this whole deal, as he established rapport with the child. That poor kid could be scared. What if he wasn’t a father, would they still let him alone in here, a stranger alone with a kid? Was the mother nearby, watching? The corporation was certainly watching him, there were cameras in the room. What sort of people do such a thing?

“Hey, my son has a truck exactly like that! His name is George, but we call him Georgie. What is your name?”


“Well, Alex, we can get you two to play with your trucks together. Georgie carries around flour with his truck. But it spills everywhere and his mommy gets mad at him sometimes for making a mess.”

“Mine doesn’t. But she never gets mad at anything. But. But I don’t have flour to carry around, so I don’t really know.”

Thank god, the kid is clever. Yanni thought about what Alex said. “Does your mommy teach you stuff? I know it’s still early for you to go to school, but does she teach you mathematics? Adding apples in the cart?”

“Yes! I know that one plus one equals two!” Alex said triumphantly.

Skata. Yanni could work with that foundation, but he was pretty sure he didn’t have a decade available to impart some formal education.

“What does mommy teach you?”

“Not much, she has to take care of my brothers and sisters as well. She doesn’t have time for all of us. But she reads us fairytales and has us draw the pictures in our heads.”

“Does mommy work?”

“Her work is being our mommy. She is good at it.”

Oh man. Was this one of the orphans he had heard about on the news? The ones adopted by corporations?

“How many brothers and sisters do you have?”

Alex raised his shoulders. “The whole room.”

Yanni had a chilling thought at that point.

“Alex. What do the other grown-ups call your mommy?”

Alex looked up from his toy with his joyous little eyes and answered, “Muse.”

Chapter 3i^3

Yanni’s mind raced on about keeping the light contained. Much like the spilled milk on the table, the spilled milk on the floor and the spilled milk on his son’s clothes, the damn light got spilt every time you tried to do something useful with it.

Thalia dropped the plate in the sink and grabbed a towel. “Oh Yanni, don’t just sit there! Clean up this mess. I can’t do everything around here,” she said and cleaned up after Georgie.

Georgie ran his fingers through the spilt milk on the floor and licked them. “No don’t lick that,” his mom said and slapped his hand lightly.

Yanni snapped out of it and started cleaning up with some napkins and said, “Yes, sorry, here. Not from the floor Georgie, we don’t eat stuff from the floor.”

But his mind raced on again. Tuning out the background noise (his wife cleaning up after the kids, Georgie crying because he was scolded, the baby crying because she needed changing, the neighbor banging on his damn DIY kitchen, the cat on her oistros calling out the males and the gardener with his electric hedge trimmers) he thought of equations that would make reality his bitch.

The light you see, could be crystallized. But the sneaky bastard kept leaking out.

Yanni had a thought about that.

And then his wife banged the table and he lost that thought.

“I need you to tell me how many people are coming for your birthday next month,” said Thalia while taking off Georgie’s dirty t-shirt.

“This early? I don’t know yet, I haven’t called anyone,” Yanni said and scratched his head. He went through the contacts on his cellphone. He said, “Antonis will surely come, Spyros maybe with Ntina, Niko will probably show up…”

Thalia interrupted him, “Plus their wives. And whichever half-naked poutana Nikos will be sleeping with that week.”

Yanni defended his friend, “He is a bachelor honey. Just because the rest of us are happily married doesn’t mean that he should get married as well. We are still young, you know.”

Thalia went to the next room, returned with the baby in her arms, and said, “You are all close to thirty. I could hook him up with some nice girls I know, but Nikos just wants to drive his convertible and go to nightclubs. He doesn’t want to settle down.”

“What do you want me to do, not invite my friend because he is the only one still single?” asked Yanni.

She explained, “We will all get together for your birthday, the pals and their wives and their kids, Ntina is happily expecting, but Nikos will be the bachelor that gets you all thinking that he is better that way. And the rest of you guys will stare at his poutana’s boobs and compare her body to what we look like after giving birth twice.”

Yanni stood up and hugged his wife with his baby and said, “Your boobs are nice. More importantly, they are the only boobs I want.”

Georgie said, “Boobs!” and giggled.

Yanni said, “See, we all like them.”

Thalia looked at Yanni and said, “You were staring at her last time.”


“You were. You all were, actually.”

“OK, I did stare. I am sorry. They were huge and they were squeezing to get out,” said Yanni, mimicking their effort with his hands.

She smiled and said, “You know they weren’t real right? What was her name, Angela? Or was Angela the one before?”

Yanni hugged her tighter and said, “Yeah, I don’t remember. Who cares? Nikos will learn someday. It’s just a birthday party, we can manage one afternoon of temptation.”

Chapter 3i^4

“Is this a celibacy thing, like Agio Oros?” Yanni asked over the fifth round of drinks.

“No, you are still not getting it. She helps me remove all distractions from my life, and helps me with my inspiration,” said Nikos.

“But she is an android?” asked Yanni with a hiccup.

“Yes. For example, today, you texted me. She was holding onto my cellphone. She deemed the text important and told me about it when she was certain that she wasn’t interrupting my flow. That’s all. If it had been some chick I dated, she wouldn’t tell me and I wouldn’t be distracted with my phone ringing and all that,” Nikos said.

“So she is an answering machine? Or a softh-sophisticated personal assistant?” asked Yanni again.

“No, she is more than that. She brings me my protein shake, cooks for me foods that will not make me feel bloated or interfere with my sleep, keeps the house clean and at an optimum temperature…” Nikos explained.

“So like a wife then,” said Yanni exhaling and feeling a little tipsy.

“Noooo. Yes. Maybe. All the good stuff, without the nagging and the needs. She needs nothing from me. Also, she understands my work. I can explain stuff to her and she gets it and asks back with excitement. And then as I talk something will light up in my mind and I’m off to the drawing board,” said Nikos and clicked his fingers.

“And they pay for that?” Yanni asked.

“Yes, the whole thing. I have no idea how much she costs but I’m sure it’s a boatload,” said Nikos and poured another whiskey.

“You really like that word, boatload,” Yanni said.

“Well, boats are big,” Nikos said and they both giggled, snorting out whiskey.

Night came and they called a taxi. “I’ll come up here tomorrow anyway for the car, no point in risking it,” Nikos had said.

Back at Yanni’s house Nikos bumped him on the shoulder with his fist. “Get that presentation ready and I’ll make sure it gets delivered”.

Yanni looked back at his house. The reality of his life slowly came back to kick away the positive feeling he had the last few hours. “Yeah, I’ll think about it. Kalinixta,” he said and woozied back to the house.

A pissed-off wife was expecting him.

She nagged at him for drinking, for leaving her to take care of the kids by herself, for coming back late, for allowing bad influences into their life, for not growing up, for smelling bad, for making a bad impression to the neighbours, for the good fortune of their kid being too young to see his father come home in this situation, for not calling hours ago to say he would be late, for not calling on the way home to ask if he should pick something up from the supermarket, for smoking, for not thinking about her, for maybe she wanted to go out with them as well, for the implied accusation that they had female company and finally for the hangover he would have the next day and him not being able to concentrate.

On that last thing she was absolutely correct. Yanni took a bath and slept like a bear past its hibernation time.

The next morning she opened the window and searing beams of sunlight scalded his eyes, while his skull felt as heavy and large as if he was wearing a bike helmet. Thalia gave him ground coffee and lemon in water. It was her special hangover recipe, but it always made him wanna throw up. He forced it down and suffered in silence.

She pulled the sheets off him and pointed at the door. “Go on, get up, wash your face and go upstairs to work, mister. The proof isn’t gonna write itself,” she said with a mean tone.

He pulled the bed sheets back on but she took them away. Yanni obeyed and got up. He washed his face and went upstairs to think about spilt milk and photons.

Chapter 4i

The doorbell rang.

“Well, go on! Let’s not keep her waiting,” said Thalia.

Yanni stood up reluctantly and walked towards the entrace. He felt anxious, as if waiting for a date. He bit his lips and opened the door to his house.

On the porch stood a lady in a blue dress. Hands shyly clasped in front of her body, black hair in a simple ponytail, plain shoes matching her dress. Tiny in figure. She was neither too pretty nor too sexy, but certainly had an appealing face.

Yanni thought that would fit right in the Ellipsis ideology. After all, too pretty a face and too hot a body and you are talking about a serious distraction, not a source of inspiration. No, she was exactly right, a pretty girl when smiling, but ordinary enough to let you concentrate on work while having her around.

She smiled at him. She was carrying a tiny purse, more like a blue soft rectangular container than a fashion accessory. It reminded Yanni of the zippered case that his car’s keys came in when he bought it.

She looked young, somewhere around 25, but that was a number without meaning since it was something immutable.

He stared.

It was hard to believe that this woman was not real. Her manners, her stance, her skin, everything was lifelike. Yet, he had a weird feeling that she was the one, the muse he was expecting to come back.

“Um - I’m staring. Sorry,” he said.

“It’s OK, Yanni,” she said, swinging her body playfully left and right. She seemed excited to meet him, if that was at all possible. “I’m staring too.”

“Come on in…”

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