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  • Writer's pictureJohn Simons

RinthCon Day 4 - Nikos

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Nikos and the Navel of the World- A RinthCon Adventure

By Andrya Bailey


The earthquake shook Mount Parnassus. Reports suggested the world-famous historic site near the oracle of Delphi ruins could be destroyed. Nikos was tasked with the job of researching the area for any significant damage.


The sanctuary of Delphi, from where the oracle of Apollo spoke, was the site of the omphalos, an ancient marble monument, considered the ‘navel of the world’. Nikos wanted to reach the sanctuary of Delphi as soon as possible. He needed to make sure nothing had happened to the sacred stone, believed to allow direct communication with the gods.

Wasting no time, he threw in a change of clothes in his duffel bag and jumped on his 4X4 jeep. He hoped the road conditions would allow him access to the Delphi Archaeological zone, approximately 112 miles away from Athens.


He pressed a number on his cell phone and put it on the speaker.


“Hello?” The sleepy voice of Sabrina answered after a few rings.


“Good morning, my beautiful. I’m sorry to wake you up in the middle of the night. I want to let you know I’m on my way to Delphi,” he said.


“Nikos? What happened? Delphi?” Sabrina’s voice became alive and alarmed as she realized who called her at 3 am in Houston.


“I guess you haven’t woken up to the news yet. There was an earthquake around Delphi earlier this morning. The situation in Athens is good, but I need to inspect the navel of the world for damage”, he said.


“Oh, gods of Olympus! I hope it's not demolished! Be very careful, my love. Please keep me updated on your whereabouts or I’ll die worrying…”


“I will, my darling. I may not have a good reception from the earthquake zone to contact you, though. Now, try to fall asleep again. Miss you a lot.”


“Me too. Take care. I love you,” Sabrina said before disconnecting the call. She had flown back to Houston a few days earlier to take part in a historical conference. Although she lived in Athens with Nikos, she was always invited to conduct lectures in the US. She appreciated the opportunity to travel and visit her old friends. After Nikos's call, she couldn't fall back asleep and turned on the TV in search of the Greek news.


After about 3 hours, Nikos arrived at the site. Travel to an earthquake area was forbidden, but Nikos gained access because of his licensed archaeologist status.


He parked his jeep close to a mound of debris. Then, proceeded to the most critical area of Delphi. A group of archaeologists who worked nearby had already arrived at the ruins and were surveying the devastation. Nikos walked straight to the area where the omphalos was. After excavating for some time, he came across the famous stone. The stone had moved and was not in its original position. He picked it up to examine it and noticed a few cracks in the marble. With a dry piece of flannel, he rubbed the fracture, bringing it closer to his face to better investigate it. An intoxicating vapor escaped from the small gap. Nikos inadvertently breathed it, inhaling the light blue gas. “This is not possible,” he thought, as a feeling of lightheadedness engulfed him. “The stone is hollow to allow fumes breathed by the Oracle to channel through it. But the Oracle has been dead for centuries…”


He closed his eyes and steadied his balance to get rid of the unexpected dizziness.

When he opened them, Nikos didn’t believe what he saw. He closed his eyes one more time, trying to shake off the weird vision which had materialized in front of him an instant ago. He was still holding on to the omphalos and didn’t want to release the stone, afraid to drop it and break it. But the uneasiness he experienced seemed to result from the strange fumes released by the stone’s crack. He opened his eyes again, trying to absorb what this outlandish place was. It resembled the conference room of an old, run-down hotel. The enormous chandelier hanging from the ceiling suggested those from XVIII century palaces, though not well preserved. He stood on a dark carpet littered with stains. Different people with eccentric costumes paraded in front of him. He inspected the omphalos and noticed there were no more fumes escaping through the cracked marble.


“I need to find out where I am,” he thought. He ventured a step forward and almost bumped into a greenish-looking creature sporting a white spacesuit.


“Excuse me,” Nikos said, “could you tell me what this place is?”


The greenish astronaut-looking creature smiled, rested his huge black spectacles on the omphalos and yelped.


“Where did you buy this egg?” he asked. “I’ve been looking for one of these in at least 20 alternate timelines, and no one has ever found the navel of the Earth!”


Nikos sounded puzzled. “Alternate timelines?”


“Excuse my bad manners,” the green astronaut uttered with a hissing sound. “I’m a seller here at the RinthCon and these marble stones are so rare to find since Earth was destroyed… “


Nikos frowned. “I’m delirious,” he thought.


“You look confused,” the green seller observed. “How did you get here?”


“I’m not sure,” Nikos said. “That’s why I need to know where I am.”


“You’re in the Saturn Hotel, the venue for RinthCon 2323,” he said.


“In what city?” Nikos asked, tilting his head.


“No, not a city, my dear confused one, you’re in Rinth. It’s an asteroid named LUE-42. This is the year 2323.”


Nikos smirked. “I’m without doubt dreaming, but I’ll go on with this. So, how can I get back to Greece, Earth, year 2023?”


“2023?” The green creature shrieked. “Blast from the past. Oh, my planets! No, no, I’m sorry, but I am not able to help you, or risk being teleported to such a doomed civilization!” He stared at Nikos, then glanced at the oval stone Nikos was holding. Without uttering another sound, he rushed away.


“What have I gotten myself into?” Nikos thought, worried about his predicament. “This must be a nightmare. The fumes from the omphalos clearly had a hallucinogenic effect.” He tried to convince himself that the effects of breathing the toxic gas from the omphalos would wear off soon, and he’d find himself back in Delphi.


“Nikos?”


He searched for the familiar voice calling his name and faced a beautiful woman. Speechless, he approached her.


“Nikos, how can this be? How did you get here?” she asked.


“Sabrina? But you’re…” Nikos was perplexed. The hallucinogenic influence was way too powerful. The woman in front of him looked like Sabrina, yet, several years older than his Sabrina with whom he had spoken to a few hours earlier.


“My darling, my love… you’re alive! You have the omphalos!” She held him tight.


“Alive?” he muttered.


She let go of the embrace, her eyes filling with tears. “In 2023, the earthquake in Delphi… you disappeared while you were surveying the area. They never found your body, or the omphalos. I couldn’t bear to live without you. It was the worst time of my life.”

“This can’t be,” Nikos said. “This is indeed a nightmare.” He touched the crack of the omphalos, then shook the stone. It was hollow as it should be, and no more gases emanated from it.


“I’ve been looking for you in every RinthCon ever since the bridge the Many Worlds Project created became functional to cross over to alternate universes. For centuries, I’ve never been able to find you, but here you are, at last.”


Nikos shook his head. “The Many Worlds Project?” He asked. “That was a sci-fi dream... The scientists never thought the realms would open…”


He appeared to be talking to himself.


“How long have you been here?” The older Sabrina asked.


“I guess half an hour… I don’t know.”


“We need to get you back to 2023 to change that timeline quickly, before it’s too late,” she said. “The 2023 Sabrina cannot live without you. It’s been the most miserable of times.”


“What am I supposed to do? How should I get back? I have so many questions. This is unbelievable.”


“Unfortunately, there’s no time for me to explain. Come, follow me. The RinthCons are the only realms in the universe we find portals now. You need to cross the bridge back to your correct timeline. This should never have happened,” the older Sabrina explained. She made her way through the room, Nikos following her close by.


She stopped in front of a booth where a large black tent loomed behind. A silver-colored robot stood at the entrance. Its gigantic eyes glowed like headlights coming out of its bucket-looking silver head.


“Is the portal open?” Sabrina asked.


“Portal open. Close in 5 minutes,” the metallic voice echoed from the hollow opening that served for it to speak.


She put a golden token on the counter, and the robot opened the tent behind.


“Go, my love,” Sabrina urged him on, “return to your Sabrina, you have a wonderful life to live together, don’t ever leave her.”


She kissed him. He opened his mouth to savor the kiss from the woman he loved. Another Sabrina, who had come to save him from this oblivion he had accidentally found himself in.


“Nikos, Nikos, are you okay?” An archaeologist who was checking the earthquake area was next to him. “You found the omphalos!” he exclaimed.


Nikos noticed he was still holding on to the omphalos. He handed the stone to the man. “Yes, I found it. It looks fine, but it has a few cracks. Let’s wrap it up and take it to the museum for repairs,” Nikos said. The man took the omphalos from him and walked away with it.

Picking up his phone, he realized not more than a minute had lapsed since he had found the omphalos. He dialed Sabrina.


“Nikos? Is everything alright? Did you get to Delphi okay?” She answered promptly. He smiled, relieved to hear her voice.


“Yes, all is fine, my love. But you won’t believe what a crazy dream I just had,” he said.


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