Avalon 2.10: Friend

            The travelers appear to have walked into a world of madness, a derivative of LSD poisoning all the water in the area.  The experience is surreal, but one thing is most curious.  A local fisherman calls to them, “Friend, friend,” and it is in twenty-first century English.

###

            “Friend.  Ride horse.  Come.  Follow.  Friend ride horse.  Come.”  The man pointed up the lakeshore and repeated the word, “Friend.”  No one had to guess that he wanted them to follow.  After a moment Lincoln said that it must be Alexis and everyone was surprised at how calm he sounded.  Everyone was also annoyed at how slowly they moved along the edge of the lake.  They offered the man a lift and promised to use Captain Decker’s rope to bring the boat, but the man refused to leave the lake.

            “Good water,” he said and pointed toward the depths.  “Water good.”  Elder Stow agreed.  He checked and shared that it would take a long time to contaminate such a large body of water.

            The evening was quiet apart from Lincoln’s impatience.  They butchered a cow when Elder Stow suggested there were only traces of the drug.  “But I would not recommend such a diet for more than a few days.”

            Their fire could be seen for miles, but they were not worried.  The only thing they imagined they might attract would be crazy people and animals under the influence.

            “I don’t get it.”  Boston spoke up from the security of Roland’s arms.  “How can all the streams feeding into the Sea of Galilee be tainted with LSD?”

            “Human intervention,” Lockhart suggested.  He looked at Katie who was beside him, and she nodded her agreement before she spoke.

            “The phenomenon is too wide-spread for a natural occurrence.”

            “As I am thinking,” Elder Stow said.  “The formula is too complex and enhanced to be natural, the way it defies light and air and holds together in the water instead of being diluted and dissipating.”

            Lincoln grabbed a piece of beef from the fire and chewed slowly as he read from the database.  The horses were tied for the night so they would not wander off in search of a cool drink.  The tents were not set up.  Everyone expected to sleep around the campfire.  He looked at the simple boat of Atonas the fisherman, which he finally pulled up on shore when he agreed to join them for supper.  It was hardly bigger than a row boat.  It had a simple sail, and Atonas had a long pole which he used to move the boat along the shoreline.  He went back to his book as Atonas spoke.

            “The gods are all asleep.”  It was not in English.  It was his native tongue, but everyone understood what he said.  It was one of the gifts given by the Kairos just before he jumped into the void of the Second Heavens.  He gave them the ability to be understood and understand, whatever the local language along with a never-ending supply of vitamins, elf bread crackers and bullets.  Lockhart felt they had depended on the bullets far too much, especially for people who were trying to skip through history to get back to the future without disturbing any more than they had to.

            “What do you mean, asleep?”  Lockhart asked with another glance at Katie.

            “The man in his own world would be sensitive to the disposition of his own gods.  You remember Faya’s people.  Her whole world went to war when the gods of Aesgard and Vanheim went to war,” Katie responded.

            “I mean asleep, like you and I will do soon.  They tasted the water and fell asleep.”

            “Good thing they are not hallucinating,” Lincoln said as he switched off the database and prepared for sleep, now that the subject had come up.

            “I was thinking the drugs might be because of the gods in some way,” Boston suggested.

            “I don’t think they work that way,” Captain Decker said as he checked his rifle.  He was taking the first watch in the night.

            “I can’t imagine any of them being so incompetent as to put themselves asleep,” Katie responded.

            “Tiamut might.”

            That made everyone pause before Lockhart spoke again.  “But I cannot think of what she is doing that would risk the ire of all the gods by putting them to sleep, even temporarily.”

            “It does give one pause,” Elder Stow said as he laid down in fetal position to sleep.

            “But tell me.”  Atonas had something on his mind.  “This most beautiful woman, Alexis.  You know her well?”

            “She is my wife,” Lincoln said as he turned his back on the fire.

            Atonas looked disappointed.  “You are the most fortunate of men.”  No one said much after that so it was not long before the rest got on their blankets.  Boston stayed right where she was, in Roland’s arms.  Atonas walked back to the shore to sleep in his boat.

            It was mid-afternoon when the travelers reached the far Northern end of the Sea of Galilee.  The Golan heights were ahead on their right and the hills of Lebanon were several miles yet straight ahead of them.

            “Eliyawe is still off to the left, likely near the coast,” Boston reported as she checked her amulet.  “But she appears to be headed this way, probably headed home after whatever it was she was doing.”

            “Probably knows her only source of clean water will be Galilee,” Roland suggested.

            “This does not look good,” Katie Harper said softly as she handed her binoculars to Lockhart.  Captain Decker lowered his binoculars and retrieved his rifle.

            “What?”  Lincoln asked, but no one answered, and no one handed him binoculars to take a look. 

            Atonas had gotten ahead of them when they stopped to check the lay of the land and which way to go, but when Lockhart said, “Ride,” they rode right passed his slow movement along the shore.

            There was a camp up ahead where Alexis and her father Mingus had settled in either for the night or, less likely, to wait for them.  The camp was torn up, the fairy weave tents collapsed, the campfire kicked around, Alexis’ medical bag was dumped and the vitamins and elf crackers were spread all over.  The pot Alexis used to boil water to turn the elf crackers into bread was there and dented.  And Alexis and Mingus were not to be found.

            “Alexis!”  Lincoln only shouted her name once before he dismounted to look for signs of passage.  Roland was also on the ground looking at the signs.  As a hunter, he understood more of what he was looking at.

            “Eight or ten people.  No more than a dozen.  They appear headed for Lebanon, or at least the coast.”

            “Right direction,” Boston said as she dropped the reigns of Roland’s horse, jumped up on Honey’s back and headed out across the grasses.  There was a horse out there, attracted to movement in the camp.  It was Alexis’ horse, Misty Gray.  Boston had no trouble catching the animal.

            “Alright people,” Lockhart got everyone’s attention.  “Pick up everything you can find, all the equipment and let’s get it loaded first.  Then we can follow and maybe find them.”

            “No dead bodies near.”  Elder Stow had his scanner out.

            “No sign of much of a struggle despite the disarray of the camp,” Lincoln noted.  He had worked for the CIA before joining the Men in Black so Lockhart accepted that he knew what he was talking about.

            “Good reason to believe they are still alive,” Katie spoke up from where she was gathering and compressing a fairy weave tent.

            “The Lady?” Atonas spoke up from the lake as his boat arrived.

            “Tell me,” Lincoln confronted the man as the man came ashore.  “How did you meet her.  What did she say.”

            “Please, please.  I know nothing of this,” he insisted.  “I saw the campfire three days ago back where we camped last night.  I came to warn them about the water, but it was too late.  The woman had already taken the poison.  Her father did great magic and I saw the poison escape her with my own eyes.  It was red, like blood and yellow, like piss.  It came right out of her mouth.  I swear.  Then her father slept from such effort while the lady instructed me.  She said you were following and I should look for you.  She said she would delay her father at the head of the lake, here.  Please, I left in the morning to look and found you, but I know nothing of this.”

            “Fair enough,” Lockhart stepped up and put a hand on Lincoln’s shoulder.  Lincoln said nothing.  He returned to his horse.  “We are going to find her,” Lockhart told Atonas.

            “I can come?  Do you promise the big beast will not bite me?”

            “He could ride Misty,” Boston suggested as she came up close.  She was still on Honey’s back and managed to miss the whole clean-up operation.

            “I have clean water,” Atonas said, and he lifted two wineskins filled with lake water.  There were more.

            “All right,” Lockhart agreed.  “Elder Stow, help me get these water skins and see that everyone gets at least one.  Elder Stow said nothing, but Boston had something more to say.

            “Hold on with your legs, try not to bounce too much and hold on here to the saddle horn.  I have Misty tied to my saddle so you won’t have to worry about steering or anything.  That’s it.  And trust me, you will only be sore for the first two or three days.

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Avalon 2.10:  Eliyawe and Company … Next Time

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