Dr. Stanley Kelvington looked like a typical archaeologist. It was difficult to decide whether this was because he was an archaeologist, or whether his demeanour had led him to take up this line of work. This kind of philosophy did not concern him, however. He was a practical and methodical man — ideal traits for his chosen career. Affairs of the world concerned him little; he was only interested in things that were at least a century old.
When the sides of the tall, narrow trench in which he was digging began to collapse, he was worried less about the possibility of being buried alive in mud than that his carefully placed markers would shift positions. It had been raining for a number of hours, which meant that the slow slumping of the edges quickly took on the proportions of an avalanche. Suddenly realising the gravity of his situation, Stanley scrambled towards the ladder at the end of the ditch. The sludge on the floor was quickly gaining depth, slowing him down and making his footing treacherous. Halfway to the ladders the mud got the better of him and he sprawled face down into it. He surged forward through the ever-thickening mire but was unable to find anything solid to push against. His limbs sank as he tried to push himself forward, and more sodden earth poured into the hole from the surrounding mounds. Flailing furiously, he finally made contact with the ladder and began to pull himself up, only to find that it was sinking under his weight too. The level of mud quickly rose to his shoulders and continued filling in the ditch. The ladder, now at a forty-five degree angle, finally stabilised and Stanley was able to use it to heave himself up a few more inches, just as the mud reached the top of the ditch and ceased to flow. Just his head protruded above the ground.
It was a Saturday and the site was deserted. Stanley usually would not have worked on the weekend himself, but construction was due to start on the site in two weeks and he was using all available time to retrieve any valuable artefacts buried beneath. Anyone else who had intended to work today had obviously been put off by the heavy downpour. Not many people were likely to walk past the site entrance for the same reason. Besides, his position was surrounded by mounds of soil dug from the various trenches. Nobody was likely to come to his rescue.
The ladder was of no further use in pulling himself out, as his arms were now fully extended below him just to keep his head in the air. The mud was too thick to swim in but not thick enough to support him. His arms were already aching from the exertion of keeping them locked in position and he just hoped that the ladder would not begin to slip again. He found it impossible to swing his leg back under him in order to stand up. He was very stuck.
The rain pouring down at least washed the mud from his face, which was of some small comfort, though very soon he began to feel cold. His waterproof coat and hood were not of much use when submerged. After a few minutes his neck became sore due to the angle he was holding his head in order to keep his mouth free. His regular shouts for help had not yet attracted any attention, nor did it seem likely that they would.
After an indeterminate length of time the thing he had dreaded began to occur: slowly, one leg of the ladder was beginning to sink again. One side of his face gradually slipped under the surface, even though he let go of the ladder with one hand and tried to push himself up further on the highest side. There was still no sign of movement on the site to indicate that help had arrived. He spluttered desperately as his mouth reached the foul-tasting mud. Then, as the ladder slipped once more, he made a last hopeless lunge for firm ground. A mass of waves and splashes gradually disappeared among the constant spatter of raindrops as Stanley sank out of sight.
Between two of the piles of earth alongside the former trench, a patch of air suddenly became devoid of rain. A rush of air from the centre of the void caused the surrounding droplets to cascade outwards. A mere half-second later, a four-metre-long cylinder of highly polished silvery metal flickered into existence. As soon as its presence was definite, the top half of the object melted away into the lower half. Two figures in matte black vaulted out and looked around hastily; then, with one accord they strode over to the filled-in trench and knelt at its edge. One stretched his hand into the mud and its level began to drop. The second figure extended its arm over the ditch and the figure of Dr. Kelvington slowly rose up to ground level, to be placed gently on the firm ground alongside. Both figures now passed their alternative hands over the inert form, then simultaneously jumped to their feet and boarded the silver cylinder. It vanished.
Stanley’s eyes flickered open and an afterimage of something long and shiny just registered with his consciousness. That he was alive was confirmed by the rain still splashing on his face, but how that was possible he did not know.
* * *
The site produced no great finds of historic value, and so the builders moved in and a month later Stanley began work on what was thought to be a small Roman villa. He did not share the story of his narrow escape from death with anyone, but from then on he was always cautious of working alone. The dig progressed steadily, as they usually did, and a number of interesting artefacts were unearthed. Then, after a further three months, there was another unusual occurrence.
An assortment of pottery fragments held Stanley’s attention. He was stooped next to the plastic sheet on which they lay, and as he worked at trying to fit them together he took no note of the surrounding activity. Off to his right, one of the team was having a spot of difficulty with the small mechanical digger that was used for shovelling around the piles of dirt that they had excavated. He seemed to have lost control of most of its functions, and it was heading for a large pit marked “Courtyard”. Unfortunately, Stanley was directly in its line of travel, a position that likely would lead to his being at least seriously injured by the large hoe it wielded. He did not seem to have noticed it.
The engine noise and yelling of the driver finally caught Stanley’s attention with only a few seconds to spare, and he jumped to his feet in surprise. The driver was caught between trying to steer around Stanley and jumping to safety before he ended up in the trench. Stanley could not decide whether he had time to rescue his pottery or not. To the other archaeologists, who were too far from the scene to do anything helpful, it quickly became obvious that his indecision would become fatal.
While everyone’s attention was thus captured, a silvery cylinder had mysteriously appeared inside one of the deeper pits in which nobody was working. Two black-suited figures leaped up from the hole and began sprinting across the mud towards the imminent tragedy. The two men were noticed by the onlookers only as they both arrived and launched into long dives. One rammed Stanley out of the path of the oncoming digger, while the second dumped the driver out of his seat only a second before it reached Stanley’s former position and three seconds before it went over the edge to land with a loud crunch, tracks still turning.
Before anyone could react, the two black-garbed figures had regained their feet and reversed direction. They jumped back into the hole whence they had come, which proved empty by the time anyone else arrived at its rim. Stanley and the driver were both shaken and bruised but otherwise unharmed. Two near-fatal accidents within the space of six months seemed a bit excessive for an archaeologist.
* * *
It was only a few days later that a fairly extensive mosaic was discovered on the site, and Stanley began work on cleaning the soil from on top of it. The team had shrunk significantly due to illness and other finds, so despite his reservations about working alone he found that the site was empty one afternoon when the last two workers had to leave early for an appointment.
Almost half of the mosaic had been revealed and Stanley was working in the central area when he made an unusual discovery. A portion of the picture that he was cleaning tilted into the ground when he leaned on it to change his position. At first he was worried that he caused some damage, but none of the tesserae became dislodged. It seemed like a slab had been set independently of the rest of the mosaic. The section was square, roughly six inches on each side. After determining that it was not damaged, Stanley became quite excited. Perhaps it gave access to the underfloor heating system employed by the Romans. He worked rapidly to clear soil from the edges until the whole square was exposed, then he carefully began to lift the section out. Underneath was a crumbled mass of mortar and soil, buried in which was a remarkably modern-looking radio transceiver.
It was not unusual to find things from one age appearing in depths of ground that belonged to another, due to seismic activity or excavations of one kind or another. That did not explain this instance. The mosaic above was intact and the time difference was far too great. That it was a practical joke did not cross his mind — archaeology was a serious business. Stanley put the article into a jacket pocket and continued with his work.
An hour or so later he packed up his tools and wandered around to the nearby radio shop. Stanley showed the transceiver he had found to the proprietor, a man whom he considered to be a comparative expert. The storekeeper examined it carefully, exclaiming how marvellous it was, and wasn’t it wonderful what modern technology could do, and what a shame it was so dirty and where could he get hold of a supply because he was sure they would be the next latest gadget.
Stanley left the shop thanking him for his assistance and promising to let him know when he found out where it came from. He was left feeling more confused than ever. The radio was not only modern, but so modern that it was not widely available. Very puzzling indeed.
Back at home he set to work removing the dried cement and cleaning the mud from within all its joints, all proof that it had genuinely been buried under the mosaic almost two millennia previously. Once restored to mint condition, a panel of four flush thumb switches was revealed on one side. Following scientific method, Stanley decided to press each one in turn. The first produced the crackling sound of static, obviously the receiving mode. Depressing the second switch cut this noise off again, which meant that it was quite possibly now transmitting. In acknowledgement of his pressing the third button, a small green light appeared next to the sound grill. Stanley hmmmm’d softly to himself before pressing the same button, which turned the light off again. Finally he moved to the fourth button. A recording of his own voice saying “Hmmmm” came back from the radio, then cut into another voice, with part of the first word missing:
“…-oever discovers this, please make sure it reaches SciTech Innovations Ltd. where you will receive a cash reward for its recovery. This is very urgent.” The man’s voice then went on to give the exact address in the Oxfordshire countryside. Hopeful that this SciTech company could give him an explanation, aside from the cash, Stanley immediately phoned the Business Directory to get their telephone number. He was informed that they were not listed, which seemed rather strange for a business. He decided to check it out the following day, Saturday, when he would have more time for his investigations, and he put the transceiver away in a filing cabinet.
The following day’s work did not reveal anything about SciTech Innovations Ltd. They did not appear on the web or in any business directories, telephone directories, postal directories, or any other source of information Stanley could think of. He played the recording several more times to make sure he had the name right, but did not glean anything else to help him. The radio was once more relegated to a filing cabinet.
* * *
The filing cabinet moved house a number of times over the next twenty-eight years along with Dr. Kelvington, but the transceiver always remained stashed inside, eventually fading from his memory. It was on the occasion of his retirement from the position of curator at a large museum that he rediscovered it. He was sorting through all his files and archaeological paraphernalia preparatory to commencing work on a book.
The radio now lived in a brown cardboard box along with a collection of screws, fuses, and other such odds and ends. He sat down slowly and looked at the object, the events surrounding its discovery coming back to mind. He played the recorded message through again and wondered whether the reward was still being offered. He tapped in the name “SciTech Innovations” to his desktop search engine. A phone number appeared and a prompt asking whether he wished to be connected now. He responded in the affirmative and within seconds the smiling face of a receptionist appeared on his monitor next to the company logo.
“Do you offer a reward for the return of lost products?” Stanley asked, without preamble.
”That depends on the importance of the particular item, sir,” the secretary replied, still smiling. Stanley nodded to himself, then checked the address given by the recording. It was accurate, so he signed off.
An hour later found him driving into the car park of the SciTech building, which looked newly built. Everything was bright and clean and the turf had not had time to settle down. He commented on this to the receptionist, who recognised him from their earlier conversation, and she explained that the building had only been completed two weeks before and they had just moved in from smaller premises in London. Stanley congratulated her on their expansion and requested an interview with someone in authority. He was slotted in to the very busy schedule of a certain director named Dr. Branden, who was able to see him fifteen minutes later.
Stanley handed the long-lost radio over to Dr. Branden, an efficient-looking man in his forties, who regarded it with a puzzled frown.
“I’m sorry Dr. Kelvington,” he said after a brief pause, “but this doesn’t appear to be one of our models.” He offered it back.
“It has your address, though, in the recording,” Stanley protested, “and your company name on the base.” Branden pulled it back and turned it over.
“You’re right!” he said. “But that’s not our logo that we mark products with.” He thumbed the ‘Play’ switch and listened as the recording played through. When it had finished he looked very thoughtful. “Exactly where did you find it?”
Stanley explained the circumstances surrounding its discovery twenty-eight years previously. When he had finished, Dr. Branden looked even more thoughtful.
“I’ll hang on to this until we’ve sorted it out,” he decided after a minute’s silence. “I’d appreciate it if you waited until you’ve heard from us before speaking to anyone else about this.” Stanley nodded his agreement. A suitable sum of money was offered as a reward and Stanley took it, explaining that it would help to finance his book. He left feeling relieved that the radio was no longer his concern.
* * *
SciTech Innovations soon became established as a leading R&D company, constantly producing new and more sophisticated pieces of equipment. One of these innovations was a totally burglar-proof safe, which was of course installed in all of the company’s premises. Into one of these safes was put the radio, fifteen years after it was decided that no decision could be reached about it.
The company headquarters were enlarged a number of times, along with the staff complement. Large research projects were undertaken there, while production was moved to other sites the world over. On the site’s twenty-fifth anniversary, the group directorship was taken over by Dr. Alan Stag, who had assisted Dr. Branden for many years. On the same occasion a new company logo was inaugurated and Dr. Branden was heard to say that it seemed quite familiar, as if they had been using it for years.
Under the leadership of Dr. Stag, SciTech became the world’s top scientific development company, launching products in all areas of the market. At the public launch of ‘Noirite’, a fantastic black fabric that was impervious to all wear, Dr. Stag stated that it was the most promising product of his twenty years as group director. It lived up to his expectations, with sales quickly outstripping production. More outstanding projects, however, were under way. One of the most ambitious undertakings was being overseen by a bright young physicist named Tim Cleminson, and it was into his office that a distressed technician rushed one day with some bad news:
“We’ve lost Jamie!”
Tim leaped to his feet, knocking papers off his desk, then sat down again, uncertain as to what was meant. “Where, Sonya?” he asked.
“We don’t know!” Sonya replied, her eyes bulging with the effort of maintaining scientific discipline. Tim rose from his desk more carefully this time and followed her down to the project’s main lab. Three other team members in white lab coats were frantically rushing back and forth between various bits of equipment.
“What happened?” Tim asked in a voice loud enough to bring everyone to a standstill. The two younger scientists shrugged helplessly.
“We lost contact,” said Schmidt, the elderly technician who had worked for SciTech longer than anyone else could remember.
“How?” Tim demanded. “The communicator can’t be destroyed — it can’t even go out of range!” He strode over to the communications console and began adjusting all of its settings.
“The trace cut out about ten minutes ago,” offered Julian, the project’s second doctor. “I don’t understand it. We should find it even if he loses it, whatever time he’s in.”
“I know!” Tim snapped, frustrated that his efforts were not producing any results.
“Two thousand years is a long time,” Schmidt said in his customary matter-of-fact voice.
“The communicator can last that long,” Tim replied in a somewhat calmer tone. He moved over to the launch chamber. “It must still exist in our time. But what could cut off its signal?”
“Nothing the Romans had,” Julian said, “but maybe something we’ve got today?”
“Did you get time and location, Ann? We can go after him.”
“Sure, but the new capsule won’t be ready for two weeks.”
“What difference does that make? We can travel back to him at the right time.”
“He would have made sure it got to us,” Schmidt said dogmatically.
“I’ll go and see Stag,” Tim decided, “and get the dual capsule given top priority. Jamie might be able to wait, but I can’t.” He exited the lab, white coat billowing behind. Julian followed with a portable communicator still in his hand.
They harassed the secretary into announcing them to Dr. Stag and she harassed them into taking off their lab coats that they had forgotten in their rush. They entered the director’s office at a more respectable pace.
“Ah, Tim, Julian,” Stag said, impressing himself with his good memory. “What’s up with you two? Need more funding?” He chuckled.
“We need the dual capsule completed more quickly,” Tim said hurriedly. “We’ve got to go and find Jamie.”
“How long’s he been gone?” All levity was gone from Stag’s voice.
“About twenty minutes,” Tim said, glancing at his watch.
“Twenty minutes and you’ve lost him already?” Stag shook his head in amazement.
“No, he’s been out three days; we only lost him twenty minutes ago.”
“Ahh, that’s more like it!” Stag nodded. “I’d best check the schedules. Which capsule was it?” He began tapping on his keyboard.
“The dual-person time capsule,” Julian explained.
“Oh, yes. Must have a look at the blueprints, see what it looks like.” He left his desk and went to the side of the room where a safe was built into the floor. “If I can remember how to open this,” he grumbled, “haven’t opened it in weeks.” He fiddled about for a minute until a panel of wall slid away. Stag’s satisfied murmurs were interrupted by a beeping from Julian.
“It’s come back!” Julian exclaimed, waving the communicator.
“Where?” Tim demanded. Stag stood up, looking puzzled. He was happier when events took their time and occurred logically.
“Here,” Julian said, confused. Tim looked at the safe and back at Julian’s communicator.
“What’s in the safe?” he asked slowly. Stag shrugged.
“All kinds of things,” he replied. Julian looked at Tim, looked at the safe, and back at the communicator.
“It could be blocked by one of our safes,” he said. Stag looked blank for a moment, then leaned back into the safe and pulled out a steel box. He took it to his desk, leaving the safe open. He fished an electronic key from his pocket and opened the box. Inside, among various incidental bits and bobs, was the twin of the unit held by Julian.
“It’s back here!” Tim proclaimed. “How long have we had it?”
Dr. Stag mumbled and fussed, then called in his secretary who muttered and looked thoughtful before returning to her office to search through a database. Finally, from somewhere she found a report concerning the communicator that stated it was “Most mysterious”, that it had a strange logo, and was to be kept for further investigation. The date was forty-nine years previously, when it had been returned by a Dr. Stanley Kelvington.
They rushed Jamie’s long-lost communicator back to the lab and played back its recorded message to the excited staff:
“Hmmmm…-oever discovers this, please make sure it reaches SciTech Innovations Ltd. where you will receive a cash reward for its recovery. This is very urgent.” After giving their current address, Jamie’s voice stopped. The main communications console emitted a short trill.
“Coded message,” Ann explained, after glancing at the readout.
“Hopefully how to find him,” said Schmidt as they hooked up the handset to the main computer to reveal the hidden message.
“We must find out how this got here,” Tim murmured as they waited. The computer burped a satisfied completion code and waited for its next command. Ann quickly hit the playback button and they listened as Jamie’s voice came back to them, recorded two-thousand years earlier:
“Hi guys! I assume you found this, or I’ll be stuck here forever. Unless you figure out what happened to me, which I’m sure you will. Meanwhile, get working on the panic button; mine didn’t work as you may have guessed. Sorry about losing the time capsule. These Roman chaps took it to the local temple to worship it! I can’t get in or I’ll be sacrificed for blasphemy or something. I’m holed up in this half-built villa while I’m waiting.” He gave the co-ordinates. “I’m going to bury the communicator under a mosaic, ‘coz they’re the kind of thing that someone’s likely to dig up. If nothing else it’ll be an interesting experiment. Hurry up, though, I’m starving and all my kit’s in the capsule. See ya soon!”
“He sounds cheerful enough,” Ann commented.
“Well it gives us a lot to think about,” Tim said. “We’d better get organised.” He sent Sonya to find out about Dr. Kelvington, and she returned an hour later with a copy of his autobiography. Meanwhile, the other four concentrated on completing the second two-seater time capsule.
* * *
By the time the new capsule was completed eight days later, they had three trips planned for the rescue of Jamie Beirnside. Apart from the actual rescue, a study of Stanley Kelvington’s autobiography made it obvious that they would have to act on two occasions to make sure that he would be there to make the find.
It had been decided early in the project that a traveller must return to his point of origin with the same elapsed time as his journey time. This would obviate the problems of premature ageing, jet-lag, and general confusion with chronometers. Julian and Ann were tasked with the first mission. They took MediScan kits and Tim equipped himself with an AquaBan molecular dispersion generator while Ann carried a hand-held tractor unit. After only a few minutes, the capsule returned and the two emerged, their Noirite suits spattered in mud that quickly slid away onto the floor.
“Only just in time,” Ann told the others. “He’d already gone under.”
“Couldn’t see the ditch first of all,” Tim said. “It was already full of mud. I had to drain loads of it before Ann could detect him.”
“Now for the digger,” said Schmidt. To make sure that the new equipment had not suffered any stress, a whole series of tests was initiated, which meant that they could not proceed with the second operation until the following afternoon.
This time Tim and Julian, both bigger than the petite Ann, were elected to go on the mission. They had read Dr. Kelvington’s account carefully, so that they would be aware of the situation and ready to act as soon as they arrived. The two men entered the capsule and it disappeared once more. They returned within five minutes, even more mud-spattered than before. Julian complained of a bruised arm and Sonya grumbled about being left to clear up the mud that had been deposited on the floor again. With everything set up for the recovery of the communicator, which had already occurred, they could concentrate on the actual rescue of Jamie Beirnside.
* * *
Although it was nine days since Jamie had buried the communicator, they decided that in this case an exception to the elapsed-time rule could be allowed. The situation 2,000 years earlier was too dangerous for him to remain that long without any equipment. Tim and Julian entered the capsule once more, this time carrying additional equipment that they hoped they would not need.
From inside they could monitor the proceedings controlled by the main computer. The top half of the capsule was transparent from the inside, allowing the two scientists to observe the otherwise undetectable time-shift. They had been placed in a small copse of trees near to the half-constructed villa wherein hid their missing workmate. Leaving the capsule well concealed, they slipped through the muddy worksite in the darkness, nearly invisible in their matte-black outfits. Julian led the way around the side of the building to where a half-erected wall gave them access. Jamie stepped out of the shadows as they entered.
“Nice to see you, fellers,” he grinned. Tim and Julian slapped him on the back heartily, relieved that he was all right after their hectic work. Jamie was somewhat surprised by their enthusiasm, as he had only been missing a few hours.
“Where’s your capsule?” Tim asked.
“I’ll show you.” Jamie led them back out of the building. The villa was on its own at the edge of a field, a five-minute trek to the next group of dwellings. A few lights flickered through unshuttered windows, forcing them to take a circuitous route to the road at the far end. Once out of the light, they jogged quietly up the road for a few minutes more until they approached an imposing temple dedicated to Mars. Many more buildings were positioned along the road leading away from it.
In here, Jamie gestured needlessly. Torches set at the courtyard gate flickered, illuminating a knot of people who stood just outside. A high wall surrounded the whole temple, so the main gate was the only access. Most of the group suddenly walked away after a couple of minutes and the rest went inside. The three time-travellers crept around to the front and looked within. They could make out the altar at the far side of the courtyard. It stood before a flight of steps leading up to a veranda that surrounded the cella, the temple’s principal chamber and where the capsule presumably had been placed. Two large men in robes stood at the top of the steps, looking fierce. The ones who had just entered were nowhere to be seen.
The two guards crumpled quietly to the ground under the simultaneous beams from Tim and Julian’s stunners. Jamie followed them as they ran across the courtyard and up the steps. They paused by the door to the cella and peered in cautiously. An old priest stood before the time capsule, his back to them. Tim fired again and caught the man as he fell, propping him against a wall. The top of the capsule opened to Jamie’s touch and he climbed in.
“See you soon!” he whispered, and closed the roof. Seconds later the capsule vanished.
“An act of Mars,” Julian explained to the priest, who was still unconscious on the floor. They left the chamber and sprinted back to the main entrance. They were about to head out onto the road when there was a yell from behind. Tim ignored it and ran on as fast as he could. Julian stopped and turned instinctively, wishing he hadn’t when he saw two robed men about to throw spears at him. He froze, his vision slowing as he realised what a dreadful mistake he had made. Before he could form any coherent thoughts, and before the spears could leave their hands, the two guards slumped to the ground, hit by stunners. Julian whirled around to see Tim, but Tim was not there. Out of the corner of his eye he glimpsed two black-suited figures disappearing into one of the side rooms. Julian grinned maniacally. The mission was getting more complicated by the minute. He set off in pursuit of Tim.
“Shame about the villa,” Tim said, as they jogged past it minutes later. “It’s not even finished yet, but Stanley Kelvington already has excavated it!” He shook his head sadly. “What a surprising artefact he’ll discover.”
“Or has already discovered,” Julian added with a grin. They pushed their way back into the copse of trees. Tim slipped on some mud in the dark and sprawled into a large puddle, not noticing that his stunner fell from its belt clip and sank somewhere into the slime.
Tim stood up, dripping with mud. “Sonya will not be happy with you.” Julian said as they climbed back into the capsule. Seconds later they were gone.
* * *
Dr. Stanley Kelvington looked slightly more nervous than a typical archaeologist. Two near-fatal accidents in under six months had that effect on one. It was only a few days after the excavator incident, and Stanley was in another ditch, which he also was not too keen on. Something silvery, still mostly covered in mud, caught his eye. He dug around it carefully and pulled out what appeared to be a squat, rounded pistol. It was not unusual to find things from one age appearing in depths of ground that belonged to another, due to seismic activity or excavations of one kind or another, but this looked very modern indeed.
He was still pondering his find when there was an excited shout from across the site. He emerged from his ditch to find out what had happened.
“It’s a mosaic!” one of his students shouted as she ran across to him. “Who would you like to work on it?” Her wide eyes indicated she was desperate for the chance. Normally Stanley would work on something that important himself, but this new find had him intrigued.
“Do you think you and Carl can handle it?” he asked.
“Yes! Thank you!” she beamed, and hurried off. Stanley sat down to consider the pistol. After all, this was far more unusual than a mosaic. *
About the Author: Gareth D. Jones is from Britain and has had stories published or accepted by seven different magazines, both online and in print. He keeps busy in between writing by playing Lego with his three small children, working in waste management, and studying part-time for a degree in Environmental Studies.
(c) 2005 Gareth D. Jones email@example.com
Web site: http://garethdjones.blogspot.com/
About the Artist: Romeo Esparrago is a world-renowned artist in another timeline. In this reality, he is more precisely Planet-renowned.
(c) 2005 Romeo Esparrago