Her lips moved, but not in a familiar pattern. The words coming out were different.
The old man smiled. She thought he was going to answer her, but instead he rose and walked out of the room. The tears came again, a storm of salted emotions. Hugging a pillow to her drawn knees, she glanced around the room. Words spilled out of her trembling lips, “Where’s Kenji? Where am I? How do I get home-am I dead-is this Atlantis…”
The other woman in the room stared coolly back at her, unmoving. Her delicate, pale hands were clasped in front of her holding an object that reflected the traits of a mirror.
“Atlantis?” The woman rolled the name around, “Atlantis. I have never heard such a name, but it is beautiful, indeed.”
“No, nn-oo-no. You see, I was standing…” Serena shook, partly out of frustration for being unable to communicate what had seemed so real to her and partly out of not understanding what was real, “I-I was standing at the mouth of a cave. My partner, Kenji, he-he,” she choked on her tears, “he was right there! This can’t be happening. This place has to be real, I can’t be dead. I fell down a rocky tunnel for God’s sake-”
The woman came over and rested a hand upon Serena’s knee. By now, her body rumbled with her sobs and anguish. The woman placed the odd object in Serena’s hands and, amid tears, she peered down at its opaque surface.
“My dear, I do not think you truly understand what happened,” her voice dripped with empathy.
Confused, she watched the mirror bubble and churn. A room appeared…her bedroom. And a man was standing with his back towards her, hunched over her peaceful form. She couldn’t quite see what he was doing, but a horrible pain gurgled through her head and body. Her body was twitching, as if she was having a bad dream. The cave mouth flashed before her. Something clicked. She must have dreamed that entire scene. It was all blurred together. The room began to spin and she held on to the cool metal surface in an attempt to stay clam. In the image, the man’s form was moving away. What she saw made her head spin more. The man was Dr. Rufonso. He held a tiny vial in his hand of clear, viscous liquid. He had poisoned her. Why?!
Nor realizing she had spoken aloud, she was startled when the woman spoke, “Continue to watch.”
And she did. The mirror shimmered and another scene formed. Kenji was sitting across from the department head of whom looked unimpressed and irritated. Her partner looked frantic–none of this made sense. The images moved by too fast.
“You will lose your position, Mr. Yuichi, if you continue to follow her. Our reputation simply cannot be risked for such an absurd idea. No one believes in it anymore. You know that. And why you would sacrifice your career…”
The head, Dr. Rufonso, rubbed his temples, “Mr. Yuichi, we will put you on the project in Switzerland if you reconsider. I urge you to change your mind. Otherwise, this university and its associates will have nothing to do with you.”
Kenji sat rigid, muddling over this new prospect. Kenji had always been there for her, her other half. Neither of them had supported the university and its administration, but people took what they would dig up in this economy. She couldn’t read his face, but she knew him to know well enough that his love for her and his ambition were two equals that could never win. The tears streamed harder, faster down her face. She watched the hand that had wiped away those tears, that sorrow, had brushed her lips-she watched it reach towards Rufonso’s-
The mirror whirled once again and she observed a huddled form that was cradling her limp body. Tears rolled from his brown eyes, tears she thought she would never see and her heart shattered. He hadn’t known. How could he? How could he have known that Rufonso would go so far as to kill her?
Rufonso walked into the room, cocking a gun and ravished with rage. Kenji laid her form gently down and turned to face his, and her, betrayer.
“Why did you do this?” he asked in a thick voice.
“Why? Why?! Because I knew you wouldn’t,” Rufonso muttered in a deranged voice through gritted teeth, “And now I have even more reason to dispose of you. All of my years I have tried to be a good-Catholic-man, and now, now this! This grand discovery that could destroy my faith and reputation! Shit! Your stupid little shenanigans will point out our hoax like a needle in a haystack; the references to the ark, the scriptures, the scrolls-we planted all that so people would believe! They need something like that. And now, you are going to destroy that.”
Rufonso took a deep breath and stumbled towards Kenji. He was going to say something else, but shook his head, his face red with a large beating tribal drum vein.