The Clue of the Ancient Tablet
“Listen to me, chief,” said Arthur, his face buried in both his hands. His fingers slowly slid down, his eyebrows furrowed, and he began caressing his moustache. “We can’t simply rule this as murder! There were no bodies. By Jove, not even a drop of blood was found in the house.”
“And what? The two men just disappeared because of fairies? Get a hold of yourself, detective!” said Chief James in his gruff voice.
“But things just don’t add up! Why would an archaeologist visit an engineer in the middle of the night? I mean, they only knew each other for a week. Even Professor Graham’s apprentice couldn’t answer that during the trial,” an exasperated Arthur said.
“That archaeologist’s apprentice couldn’t even answer anything during the trial,” barked the chief. The plump man wheezed, and his face transformed from contorted to calm. “Look here, Arthur. I know Isaac is your buddy, but all evidences we have just go against him.”
“You mean lack thereof,” replied Arthur. “I’m going, chief.”
“Stop this fantastical nonsense, Isaac,” said Arthur, his face buried in both his hands.
“My stories are in no way fantastical, nor are they nonsense, Arthur!” retorted Isaac, his voice raising with each syllable, and his dark brown eyes wide in anger.
Arthur slowly slid his hands down his face and began his habit of stroking his moustache. “Get a hold of your temper, Isaac. I want to help you.”
“Then listen to me!”
“I’m all ears.”
“There’s a hidden basement deep below Professor Nicholas’s house.”
“Here we go again.”
Isaac clenched his fists and pounded on the table.
“There’s a hidden basement deep below Professor Nicholas’s house. We modified planes there.”
“Whatever. We installed a device within those planes. What that device can do, I do not know.”
“Maybe Professor Graham knows something.”
“He’s disappeared, Arthur! Goddamn this.”
“Then maybe Amelia holds some answers.”
“Amelia couldn’t even answer anything during the trial!” barked Isaac.
“She needs a visit. It’s a gamble I’m willing to make.” Arthur lowered his voice to a whisper. “Now tell me this. How do I make the warden sleep tonight?”
Arthur’s green eyes looked straight into Isaac’s dark brown.
The latter sighed. “Spike two tablets of antihistamine into a cup of decaffeinated coffee and give it to the warden.”
“You’ll become a fugitive too, Arthur.”
Arthur smiled and stood up. “I better get going, Isaac. It will be a long night. See you.”
Arthur waited for the drug to affect the warden. It had been three hours since the drugged coffee was handed to the naïve guard. However, just as Arthur’s patience began dwindling, the scrawny warden sat on the bench opposite the detective and closed his eyes. In a matter of minutes, he began snoring.
Arthur smiled and stood up. It would be a long night.
“This is a joke, Arthur!” screamed Isaac inside the stolen the police car.
Arthur retorted, “All of this is to save your sorry a—”
“Hmmf! Hmm! Hmmf hmmf hmm!” cried the thin woman in the backseat.
“Damn this!” exclaimed Isaac. “What in Jove’s name were you thinking? I’m already charged for murder. Now, I’m a fugitive who happens to steal a damned police car and kidnap an important witness!”
“Important witness? She couldn’t even answer anything during the trial!” replied Arthur. “Now, where’s Professor Nicholas’s house?”
“Where’s your professor’s damned house?”
“I’m not deaf, Arthur! Do you mean the three of us are breaking in?”
“What do you think, Isaac?”
“Hmmf! Hmmf! Hmmf!”
“Goodness,” remarked Isaac.
Amelia, Professor Graham’s apprentice, was visibly shaken during the whole ordeal — her short blond hair was a mess, and her blue eyes darting from one corner of Professor Nicholas’s study to another. “W-what do you want of m-me?”
“Answers,” replied Arthur.
“Clear ones, I must say,” added Isaac, evidently failing to hide the irritation behind his voice. “Unlike the ones you gave during my trial!”
“Why was Graham visiting Professor Nicholas?” interrogated Arthur.
“W-we found a st-stone when we w-were vi-visiting Iraq,” replied the woman.
“All my trouble for a goddamn stone?” commented Isaac.
“I-it wasn’t y-your u-usual stone, sir,” answered Amelia. “It ha-had something in it. The p-professor was here t-to show it t-to Sir N-Nicholas.”
“It is most probably in this room,” said Isaac. “Professor Nicholas receives everyone here.”
Arthur looked on the desktop, and found a peculiar tablet. He raised it for everyone to see and asked, “Is it this?”
“Y-yes!” answered Amelia, her voice changing from anxious to excited.
Isaac stared at the tablet. His eyes widened and his mouth opened. “Impossible,” he remarked. “Amelia, how old is this tablet?”
Amelia looked at the two men. “Professor Graham said it must be from the Sumerian civilization, the first human civilization!” she replied, smiling and with every syllable pronounced in a staccato.
“Yet how is that inscription there?” asked Isaac.
On the tablet, in crooked strokes, it was written:
ΔS > 0
“I need to show you something,” said Isaac, as if in a trance. He smiled and said, “This is indeed going to be a long night.”
The elevator rattled loudly as it went down, carrying Arthur, Isaac and Amelia.
“Years before I met him, Professor Nicholas worked at CERN. He never told me the nature of his work,” began Isaac. “What I do know, however, is that he studied thermodynamics extensively. This inscription in the tablet is the second law of thermodynamics. A very powerful law, you see. Not even I understand it fully. It says everything is moving toward greater chaos.”
“What’s so special about that?” asked Arthur, who was thoroughly lost in the recent developments of the case.
“It gives time direction. It says time moves only one way — toward greater chaos, toward the future, but in the tablet, it is as if someone erased it. Incredible!”
“How can a Sumerian possibly know that?” asked Amelia.
“I do not know,” replied Isaac. “As I said, this is impossible, but maybe, just maybe, we can find answers in those devices we installed in those planes.” Isaac paused and closed his eyes. “There was only a timer in those devices.”
“One plane is missing!” announced Isaac.
“These are Lockheed Model 10 Electra planes!” remarked Amelia.
“What?” asked Isaac.
“Vintage planes. I am a trained pilot, you see, sir. This is amazing!” replied the woman.
“But one of them is missing!” said Isaac excitedly. “Could it be?”
He climbed aboard one of the two planes in the large laboratory, and examined the device his professor installed. “But this is just impossible,” remarked Isaac to himself. “Amelia! How old was the tablet again?” he asked in a booming voice.
“About eight thousand years old, sir,” replied the woman, who herself was lost in her excitement over the planes.
“I honestly do not understand any of this,” commented Arthur.
“Arthur,” said Isaac, climbing out of the plan, “what Professor Nicholas installed in those planes could be a time-travelling device! If it’s so, that’s why a bar was over the inscription! Time does not go one-way anymore! The professors may have travelled back to the past! Back to…”
Arthur breathed deeply, and the words escaped his mouth, “…the dawn of civilization.” He looked at the plane Isaac climbed out from, and said Amelia, “Amelia, your surname happens to be Earhart.”
“Yes, it is, so what’s the—”
“You’re a pilot,” said Arthur softly. He added, “And Isaac’s full name is Isaac Newton. I get everything now.” Arthur buried his face in both his hands. He slowly slid them down his face, and began caressing his moustache.
Isaac smiled, as if a child lost in wonder, and said, “We must go, Arthur. If the dawn of civilization is in Professor Grahams’ and Professor Nicholas’s hands, the dawn of technology must be within ours.”
Arthur turned to Amelia and asked, “Amelia, are you coming with us? The plane will be yours afterward if Isaac agrees, that is.”
Seeing Isaac nod, Amelia smiled widely, her blue eyes beamed with pure joy, “Will do, sir.”
Arthur smiled back and said, “It will be a long journey for all of us.”