The Man Made of Tin and Copper
by Catfish Russ
part 1 of 2
Archeomedes was seven when he played in the rocky foothills of his father’s vineyard along the southern seacoast. Today he was looking for berries for his mother Anishia, an Anatolian slave who served his father in the estate that overlooked the Mediterranean. He had bought Anishia from a slaver who was traveling through Thessaly.
His father told him his mother was slated to be killed because the Trader had no bidders on this skinny young girl. He produced five gold pieces and the trader smiled “wider than the Peneaus River” and handed her over.
Within a year everyone saw the discerning taste of his father when she filled out and let her golden hair down, and her piercing green eyes rendered her into an eternal beauty. His father, Platonius, made many babies with Anishia, and as far as Archeomedes was concerned, his mother was the most beautiful woman in the world.
His father’s taste also brought him an enormous stone and wooden house with columns that might as well have been a hundred feet tall. A wide and perfectly smooth tile foyer was where the main family lived.
Often his father would bring bards and jugglers and entertain everyone, even the slaves and servants. Wine would flow, kids ran around in circles, laughter and the music of a lyre would float across the evening as the sun set and fires were lit to illuminate the drinking that began, and the board games. Even though he was the son of a slave, he was also the son of a rich man, and his life was fairly lovely and soft and easy.
Archeomedes made his way up into the verdant plain that overlooked Platonius’ estate and did not have to work hard; he found berries everywhere, surrounded by thistles and intertwined thorns. He threw his leather carry bag across his shoulders so the opening was in front of him.
In about a half hour, Archeomedes had filled the sack and rather than head home as Anishia told him to, he decided to look for a couple of sweet roots to chew and perhaps bring to his father. Platonius loved glabra root and with twelve brothers and sisters, a kid had to do everything he could to curry a little favor and attention.
The sun hid behind lovely clumpy clouds and made a beautiful and cool moment as he stared at merchant ships gliding across the waters to unload freight somewhere along the Aegean heading to the north. He chewed on a root, and then used his bag as a pillow and in a while he fell asleep.
He imagined the life of a soldier, muscled, and tanned, neatly in line in the front of the phalanx, marching into distant lands to the east, fighting off Parthians, following the footsteps of his king, Philip II. He would meet his own future wife one day, perhaps buying her from a slaver. Archeomodes dreamt of being an aristocrat like father, though that would never happen, given his lineage.
The buzzing sound of an insect troubled his nap, and Archeomedes swatted away at it, his eyes still closed. But the buzzing continued and the swats seemed to meet only the air, so Archeomedes sat up and looked at the rock outcropping behind him. He must have slept long enough to see the sun move close to the horizon. Anishia would be furious.
The buzzing had a different quality than that of typical fly or bee. It had another sound inside it, not unlike the sound of Heron’s moving statues of the gods at the Acropolis. Perhaps one of the gods was hiding behind the outcropping.
Archeomedes stood and watched as a man stood up from behind the rock. He wasn’t actually a man, or let’s say Archeomedes had never seen a man such as this. He had armor on. Armor that covered every inch of his body.
Archeomedes could see no skin, no eyes, just a helmet with glass eyes embedded in it. His waist was a bit too skinny and his shoulders and arms were perfectly even, unlike the Greek soldiers, who trained until their right arms were thicker than their left. There was no hair or skin at all.
“Are you a Parthian?”
It stood silently watching him. “No,” it spoke back in an odd voice. The Greek was perfect. “I am a traveler.”
“I see. Are you going to kidnap me?”
“No,” it said simply. “Never.”
“Why are you here?” Archeomedes asked.
“I am lost.”
“I see,” Archeomedes replied. “And where is your ship?” Archeomedes turned and looked into the harbor and could see a dock, and workers, but there were no ships.
The buzzing now became louder and faster. After a moment, the man said, “It is hidden.”
“But I don’t see any ship.”
“It is well hidden,” said the man of tin and copper.
“What is it you are seeking? My father knows where every place is. He has led troops against the Parthians and has gone as far east as any Greek has ever gone.”
“I have a device that knows where every place is as well. It knows every place in the world. And every place in other worlds.”
“What other worlds?” Archeomedes asked.
“At night, when you look up into the sky, what do you see?”
“I see stars. I see constellations.”
“Those are the suns of other worlds, as this sun above us is the sun for this world.”
Archeomedes was silent for a while. “Can I touch you?” he asked.
“Yes.” The golden sheen of the tin and copper man stepped forward, the gears inside shirred when he moved. He moved his arm forward to let Archeomedes feel it. It was hard and cool to the touch, like his father’s swords and shields.
“Are you Roman?”
The man did not answer; he only turned and looked around. He looked into the sky, staring at stars that began to appear.
“What are you looking for?”
The man turned towards Archeomedes, his glass eyes moved in and out and finally settled in one place. “Home.”
“Why don’t you ask your machine where to go?”
“It no longer answers.”
“Is it angry?”
“My father has maps of every place there is.”
“My home is not here.”
“My father has maps of the heavens, big ones.”
The man’s eyes adjusted focus again. The whirring started up again. He knelt on one knee. “What are you called?”
“Archeomedes. My mother calls me Arky.”
“Archeomedes. Can you show me your father’s maps of the heavens?”
“I could bring them to you. But he cannot know. They are in his study, where the adults play their games and smoke. I am not allowed in there. He would beat me.”
The man stood again. He was silent for a moment. “Conflict is wrong. Do not go into your father’s study.”
“But how will you find your way home?”
“Perhaps someone else has star maps.”
The man suddenly crouched and faced the ocean. “Someone is coming,” he said.
In the distance, Archeomedes heard his mother’s angry wailing. “Arky, where are you?”
“That is Anishia, my mother. I took too long. I am going to get a beating.”
“Conflict is wrong.”
In a moment his mother appeared over the horizon, climbing the hills. She was in a white smock with beautiful red trim; her golden hair flowed with the wind across her face. She swept the hair out of her eyes.
“There you are. Did you fill the bag with berries? I hope so because your father wants his juice and you are late. You are so lazy. Whom are you talking to?”
Archeomedes turned and the man of tin and copper was gone.
“No one. I took a little longer to find roots to chew for father.”
She grabbed the bag, looked inside and saw that he had indeed filled it. She yanked his arm in the direction of his house. “Come on already.”
Copyright © 2010 by Catfish Russ