Rebecca took Leah and Sari out back, and the others followed. A big pen holding some hundred or more sheep was surrounded by hovels just like the one Rebecca and the girls lived in. Tents also dotted the landscape, along with a much smaller pen for goats. Rebecca had a fine tent out back, herself.
“We sleep mostly in the tent, when it rains,” Rebecca said to no one in particular. “There may be enough room here in the back yard for your tents, but you will have to tie your horses out front tonight until we can arrange something better.” Sari started making the bread to go in the little brick oven at the back of the fire. Leah cut up a few vegetables while Rebecca filled the big pot with water from the jug. “Sorry,” she said. “Just a very thin vegetable stew and flatbread for supper.”
Decker disappeared while the others looked around the neighborhood. He came back after a minute with a deer. “We had a big lunch,” he said, and dropped the deer by the fire. “I shot this one for supper, but it is way more than we can eat alone.”
“Mother,” Leah practically shouted.
“That was very good,” Rebecca praised Decker. “Nothing phases Leah.”
“What? What? Let me see.” Sari came running from the tent and when she saw, she said, “Mother.”
“Leah,” Rebecca got her attention. “Go fetch Tera and his household. Tell him we have friends and meat to share.”
“If I had known, I would have killed more than one,” Decker said.
“We found a whole herd in a great river valley,” Katie said.
Rebecca nodded. “One of the starting branches of the Euphrates. We are all the way at the northwest end of Mesopotamia.”
“See?” Lincoln said to Lockhart who nodded.
“I didn’t recognize the mountains,” Lockhart said. “I thought we were closer to the headwaters of the Tigris.”
Rebecca turned up her nose. “Nineveh and Assur are there, no thank you. I have avoided the twins this time around and found my digestion has greatly improved.” Rebecca smiled at the thought. It was the first time she smiled, and Alexis commented as she sat by the fire.
“You have a lovely smile. I can see where Sari gets her looks, and Leah.”
Rebecca said nothing and decided to stick with the subject at hand. “To explain where we are in your terms, I would say we are at the very top of Syria to the point where we are technically in Turkey—Anatolia.”
“So you didn’t explain about the blob,” Lincoln said, as he sat beside his wife. Lockhart and Katie sat beside each other as well. Boston and Decker were already working on the deer and no telling where Mingus and Elder Stow had gotten off to.
Rebecca smiled again as Sari put some bread in the brick oven at the back end of the fireplace. Sari came to sit beside her mother as Rebecca said, “It is a yellow, Lincoln Jell-O blob.”
“Mother calls it that sometimes, but she has never explains,” Sari said.
Lincoln raised his hand. “I’m Lincoln,” he said.
“My husband always thinks the aliens should be Jell-O-blobs,” Alexis explained.
“Most people call it the blob. I think mother started that. And it has these strings—”
“Tentacles,” Rebecca interjected.
“Tentacles,” Sari agreed. “And it can grab things and Mother says it is smart.”
“How did it get here?” Katie asked
“Crash landed,” Rebecca said. “The ship is out in the field because we have no way of moving it. Somehow, Tel-Aram managed to get it into a cage. I think it ate its fill and got sleepy. Anyway, they brought it into the town and locked it in a cellar. But it woke and got loose, and it got out into the house. Lucky for Tel-Aram, he had some Amorite prisoners to feed it. So it ate and slept again, but then no one would touch it.”
“It grabs you with a tentacle,” Sari said. “It pulls you in and covers you up with its blob body. Then somehow it sucks you inside itself and slowly digests you.”
“It absorbs people,” mother got a word in.
“Yes, and Mother says you can still see the things inside a little. She says bones take a long time to digest.”
“Fortunately, it is happy with sheep and other animals. It isn’t fixated on people.”
“How do you know…” Lincoln started to speak, but changed directions in mid-sentence. “Don’t tell me you got near the thing when it was eating—to see the bones.”
“Well,” Rebecca hesitated to tell the story. “Sari, check your bread.”
“Yes Mother,” she said, as Leah came running back. “I didn’t get to meet your friends, Mother,” she said, just before a whole troop of people joined them and filled the yard. An older man sat and looked at the back half of the deer. He watched Boston and Decker going at it, and thought he might kibitz, but felt no need to interfere.
“Tera,” Rebecca got his attention and introduced everyone all around. Tera, his wife and her mother, a very old woman, and Tera had five children, three boys and two girls. Abram was the middle son, and Tera told the anecdote.
“Abram was six when Sari was born, and he ran all around the neighborhood announcing Sari’s birth. Hard to believe they now want to marry.”
“Never happen if Leah keeps being stubborn,” Sari said grumpily as she sat again beside her mother.
Just then, Mingus and Elder Stow floated down from the roof, and Elder Stow reported. “I found several loose boards and welded them down.”
“How do you weld wood?” Lockhart wondered.
Mingus shrugged as Elder Stow finished his report. “I cannot guarantee that there are not other places that leak.
“Thank you Elder Stow,” Rebecca said. “You can just relax while we get supper cooking; you and Father Mingus.”
“Wait a minute,” Katie looked around at Tera and his family. “Not one of you blinked at the sight of Mingus and Elder Stow floating down from the roof.”
“We have seen such things before,” Tera’s wife said.
“Becca has many strange friends,” Tera nodded.
“Becca?” Lockhart asked.
Rebecca smiled just a little. “He called me Becky once and I hit him as hard as I could.”
“Rebecca likes her full name,” Tera’s wife continued.
“Mother says she would not mind Reba, but she says she doesn’t have red hair, whatever that means,” Sari started in again with a look at Boston and her red hair. Sari was obviously a talker, but Lincoln needed more information.
“Wait a minute. The database doesn’t give details on this for some reason. You need to finish the story about the blob,” he said. Rebecca nodded and looked serious. Tera spoke up in her place.
“Rebecca had five children,” he said. “She lost a son when he was two. It was the fever that took plenty in the town. She had two young ones, but the Amorites came and attacked the town. Tel-Aram found the blob when he was scouting out the enemy.”
“A few men in skirts with spears behind no walls is not a very well defended place,” Decker said as he temporarily looked up from his cutting.
Tera nodded. “Rebecca had to ask her friends to drive the Amorites out. No one asked where her friends came from or where they went after the town was saved, but my family and I saw plenty of strange things while they were here. Most did not see, and most that did have forgotten, but we remember.” The travelers all nodded, imagining what sort of little ones those friends might have been.
“Pluckman showed up,” Rebecca rolled her eyes.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” Alexis, Katie and Boston all said it together.
“People,” Lincoln waved his hands for attention. “The blob?”
“Well,” Rebecca took the conversation. “I think he crashed about the same time the Amorites got here. Hopefully, he filled up on Amorite flesh and blood. Sorry Channa.”
“Mother says that ‘sorry channa’ sometimes when she talks about the Amorites,” Leah said with a shrug, as she went to check the bread in the oven, knowing Sari would forget and burn it all.
“My cousin, Rebecca’s husband got trapped in the house with the two young children. The Amorites killed them. That was many years ago.”
“Ten years,” Rebecca said. “A boy and a baby girl,” she stayed Alexis’ question. “So, Tel-Aram thought the blob was dead when he caged it, just to be safe. He probably thought it was poisoned from eating the Assyrians. That was what they were.”
“They talked funny,” Terra admitted.
“He did not exactly have time to mess with it, and by the time the Amorites were driven out, I think he forgot about it. Well, not much later it got out, into the house. By then, the feeling in the town had turned. I went from being the savior of the town to the wicked witch, as some tell it. I consorted with demons. Tel-Aram figured out the blob just wanted to be fed, so over his objections, the king decided to feed me to the creature, as they called it. It ate the last two Amorites first, thank goodness. It gave me a chance to make a deal with the blob.”
“It was not the whole town. Just the rulers. I was getting too much credit, and they wanted the credit and praise. It was all political. After all, I am Aramean, not Kasdim.”
“Not right,” Katie and Lockhart said together.
Tera’s wife and her girls came back then with their arms full of vegetables. They began to cut them to add to the big pot and added more water. Alexis noticed it was mostly leeks.
Tera took up the telling. “Rebecca is going to fix the craft and the blob will be satisfied with the sheep and goats we feed it, though it is seriously depleting the herds. I have never seen it, thank God above who has no name. But I have seen the craft. We have no way to move it closer for her to work on it close to home, but Becca says it will move on its own once it is fixed. I would like to see that.”
“How long has this been going on?” Lockhart asked.
“Ten years,” Rebecca said.
“Ahem.” Everyone looked to the back door of the house. Tel-Aram and another soldier were standing in the back door, and Tel-Aram appeared to be frowning. Rebecca stood.
“Quite right,” Rebecca said. “We have to go see the king.”