“Not now, I just need a little more time. And maybe a little tea. Maybe a lot of tea.” Nitya hadn’t even looked up. From the crick her neck, she thought maybe she hadn’t looked up in quite a while. Hours? Weeks? No, obviously not weeks.
She stood and stretched, keeping her eyes almost entirely on manuscript in front of her and the notes next to it.
“You know you can’t eat over the manuscripts, Nitya, they’re ancient. Besides, come on, there’s something you have to see.”
Suula tugged on her roommate’s arm, but Nitya wasn’t moving. “I’ll come eat in a while. I got some duplicates made; I can drink some tea and have a couple, oh, I don’t know, energy bars while I look over those. Suula, I’ve got it figured out. It’s an eclipse.”
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you, Nitya! Come on.” This time, Suula put some muscle behind the tug. “It’s an eclipse!”
“What?” Nitya blinked at her friend. “Suula, you’re an astrophysicist, when’ve you been reading ancient proto-Sumerian?”
“What? Nitya, you need to get out of this basement once in a while.”
“It’s not a basement, it’s a climate-controlled reading room-”
“That’s three stories underground. Nitya, come on, or I’m going to carry you. Bring those duplicates, sure, you can tell me about it on the way up. I promise you, I promise, I’ll bring you dinner in the cafe on the first sub-level after that and buy you the good tea, but come out. Come on. Come on, please?”
It was the please that did it – that and the promise of Suula’s cooking. With a guilty little twist in her gut, Nitya realized she hadn’t been holding up her end of their shared-home agreement very well lately (Suula cooked and stocked the kitchen; Nitya cleaned). “All right, all right. So, the piece of the document I’ve been having trouble with? The part that was copied over in, I think, early Roman era? It’s talking about an eclipse of the sun. Which should have been obvious, but the way they described it – it sounded like – like it came with some weird, ah, side effects. Some tidal shifts that changed where the moon was in the sky. Which, of course, I don’t have to tell you isn’t the sort of thing a solar eclipse does-”
“Ah. Say that again? Tidal shifts and a solar eclipse?” Suula had stopped on the stairs and was staring at Nitya. “Anything else?”
“Well, ah.” She pulled up her copy on her phone. “Let’s see. There’s the solar eclipse – it’s talking about the darkest day growing darker – and there were earthquakes, which I thought had to be poetic; the region that it’s talking about here-”
She caught herself as the floor shook. It didn’t shake much, but she could hear something falling in the floor above them. “Suula-?”
“You were saying?”
“-that the area it was talking about isn’t on a fault line and isn’t known to have earthquakes at all. So I thought it was like – well, it was referencing a great screaming and wailing, and -”
She didn’t even bother commenting this time, because even a story beneath the ground, they could already hear the screaming and wailing.
“So. Ah. There’s an unpredicted solar eclipse going on outside. But maybe, uh. We should find someplace safe instead?”
So, I’ve been watching StarGate…