A Man Of Science

The small fishing vessel navigated the narrow channel separating the island from the mainland. Its solitary passenger was something of a curiosity. A paradox with learned eyes glimmering behind gold-rimmed spectacles, astride a chrome and black Harley-Davidson.

His demeanor was calm and collected, but there was a hint of anxiety beneath the cool exterior. An overwhelming sense of apprehension and aura of melancholy. The radiating mood did not go unnoticed by the callous-palmed, hardworking crew of the Branwen.

Despite attempts at friendly conversation, the biker had politely declined to engage in small talk and had finally been left alone with his thoughts, whatever they might be.

Professor Loholt ruffled his thick, flaxen curls and lifted wayward strands from the nape of his neck, smiling wryly to imagine how his former undergraduates might regard him now. Through no intention of his own making, he had been a firm favorite among the female student body. He knew they often enrolled in his classes fostering the hope of catching his attention almost as much as they did for his wisdom. The assumption was founded on factual details and one devoid of any conceit. He was, after all, a man of science and not given to fantasize on matters which had no basis.

The sly, seductive glances and provocative poses adopted when they paused by his desk on some insignificant pretense had initially astonished him. He had never considered himself a sex symbol, but the look in their bold eyes told him otherwise. A few among the university staff had urged him to take advantage of the situation, nudging his ribs with a lecherous grin and knowing wink. The idea had been abhorrent and only furthered his fear that the world in general was degenerating at an alarming rate, wallowing in its decline.

Every day he would scrutinize the press and scan the news channels for some sign that his concerns were unfounded, but things appeared to be going from bad to worse. He had ceased his futile searching when the reports of violently troubled children embarking upon senseless massacres became commonplace.

He was not a religious man. Men of science were seldom orthodox in their analysis of the scriptures. There were too many biblical events which could be explained by modern thinking. Hypotheses had to be proven before a conclusion could be reached. Yet, the word "Armageddon" lingered constantly on the fringe of his consciousness.

The Dean had expressed surprise and consternation upon opening the envelope which contained the resignation.

"Think it over," he had urged. "Take a sabbatical." Loholt had refused the offer.

Almost three years had passed since that time. In two short weeks, a new Millennium would dawn...at least such was the accepted notion. The truth that a new century would not actually be given birth until the first day of 2001 remained an enigma to most people. The Year 2000 had a far more definitive ring to it.

The shore of the island took shape through the mists which skimmed the surface of the waters beyond the bow of the Branwen. Taking a cloth from the pocket of his black leather jacket, Loholt polished his goggles and positioned them over his spectacles.

The quest had been a strange one for a man of science. He had not divulged the particulars to his peers. Most would have scoffed and failed to understand. In all honesty, Loholt himself did not fully comprehend the reasoning behind his decision. It simply seemed to be the only answer, even though its foundation was one of onjecture.

His travels had taken him from the hallowed halls of higher education in Oxford to the exotic isles of the Orient...from the floating, ice-capped crags of Scandinavia to the crystal shoals of the South Seas...and, finally, back home to his native lands.

The small boat glided into Holyhead Bay and dropped anchor. Loholt wheeled his polished well-oiled, gleaming machine onto the shale and shook hands with the Captain of the vessel.

"I hope you find what you're looking for," said the grizzled old skipper, his lyrical Welsh accent the pride of the Caernarvon Chapel choir. Loholt nodded in gratitude, noting the man's quizzical eyebrow and air of anticipation, but he provided no explanation.

The skipper shrugged. "Should we wait for you?"

"With luck, that won't be necessary," replied Loholt, chuckling softly at his use of the word. Once, reliance upon fortune, good or bad, would have played no part in his vocabulary. "I hope to return in a far different type of craft."

The fishing captain shrugged again. The statement made little sense. There were no other seagoing vessels on Holyhead Island.

Mounting his metal steed, Loholt started the engine and roared along the coastline. Soon, he was nothing more than a minuscule speck in the eyes of the Branwen crew, his leather riding apparel shimmering like burnished steel in the early morning sun.

Releasing the throttle, Loholt surveyed the sharp incline and spied an opening in the face of the granite cliff. He propped the bike against a tall boulder and ran his fingers across the gas tank, as though stroking the firm flesh upon the neck of a noble charger. Tucking his helmet under his arm, in the fashion of an ancient paladin, he began the upward climb.

This surely must be the place. His pounding heart screamed that it was so, and his spirit trembled at the knowledge, even though his intellect continued to berate him for the folly of his undertaking.

Loholt's boots dug deep into the rolling stones. The ascent was far from easy, but he would not be deterred.

As the Branwen set sail for Anglesey, a flock of gulls circled the mast. Their raucous squawkings could not drown the anguished cries which echoed from the desolate isle, whose image grew increasingly smaller in the wake of the tiny boat.

"Arthur...I have come for you at last, my father."

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