After 168 B.C. Judea
Kairos 86: Judith Maccabee
The travelers came through the time gate in a place Lincoln said he recognized. “Third time is the charm,” he claimed. “Judith is a Hasmonean. Her father is Judah Maccabee, the hammer, one of the sons. Her uncles are Eleazar, Simon, John, and Jonathan.”
“John and Jonathan?” Alexis asked.
“That is what is says,” Lincoln pointed to the database.
“The first book of Maccabees,” Evan said.
“It’s not in the Bible,” Millie added something she knew.
“In the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles,” Alexis said.
“I heard of the Maccabees,” Boston said.
“Yes, I remember,” Alexis said. “I never read the books, though.”
“Lovely,” Lockhart interrupted. “But that doesn’t tell us where we are.”
“Everyone knows the books of the Maccabees,” Katie teased. “Four books, right?” She looked at Millie.
“I think so.”
“Yes,” Evan said. “Two or Four books.” Lockhart looked at Lincoln. but Evan answered. “We are in Palestine, er, Israel, or actually, Judea, depending.”
“Depending?” Lockhart asked.
“Depending on what time in history we have actually arrived,” Lincoln picked up the answer.
“Last time we came through here there were armies fighting,” Evan added. “We avoided everyone.”
“Is that all the human race does?” Millie asked.
“Seems so,” Elder Stow said.
“That is what armies do,” Decker added.
“Now be fair,” Alexis said. “There is peace in most places for most of history. We just have to assume the Kairos is going to be where all of the action is taking place, that’s all.”
“Not an assignment I would like,” Katie said.
“Which way?” Decker asked, getting a bit impatient. He was ready to ride out on the wing and just needed to know the general direction.
“Toward Galilee,” Lincoln pointed. Both Boston and Katie looked at their amulets and confirmed the direction.
“But I would like to see what that is,” Katie pointed.
“Ruins,” Boston said. Elf eyes were as good as eagle eyes on level ground.
“I am not picking up many life signs,” Elder Stow said, as he looked at his scanner.
“To the ruins,” Lockhart said. Decker nodded and rode to the top of a small rise. He paused, before he disappeared down the other side. Elder Stow rode more slowly out some distance from the other side of the group, hardly taking his eyes off the scanner. Boston whooped and rode out front. Sukki had to catch up. The rest started out at a slow but steady pace.
The ruins turned out to be a city. “Hazor,” Lincoln named it. “The Assyrians burnt it to the ground in 732 B.C.”
“I never imagined ruins this far back in history,” Evan said, honestly enough. “I normally think of these days as the days people build the cities that we find as ruins two thousand years in the future.” Katie made no objection to that way of thinking. “I suppose it makes sense, though. The human race has been building and making war for thousands of years at this point.”
“Actually, having been through all those years, it makes perfect sense to me,” Lockhart said, and Katie appeared to agree.
The day felt cold and wet. The wind whipped around the travelers, adding to the chill. When they got in among the crumbling walls and buildings, they felt grateful for the windbreak. At the same time, they heard the wind whistle through the streets, sounding like people in torment. They heard low moans, creaks in the stones, and whispers that occasionally rose up the scale to human-like screams. It is just the wind, people said. The winter wind, Boston insisted, and Lincoln pointed to a small pile of snow, shoved by the wind against a pile of stones, where the sun could not get at it.
“Snow? Doesn’t look like middle east to me,” Lockhart objected.
“They get snow,” Katie insisted. “We are up in the highlands.”
Lockhart shook his head. “When I think of this part of the world, I think of heat, like a desert, or Lawrence of Arabia.”
Katie laughed, but paused at the next wind driven scream down an alleyway.
When they got to the far side of the ruins, they stopped for an early lunch, and Lockhart asked what had been on his mind.
“The question is, why hasn’t this place been rebuilt?”
“The Greeks and Romans destroyed cities all the time, but later, they let the old people, or sometimes entirely new people go back in and rebuild the cities.” Evan agreed with the question.
“The Assyrians were not that open minded,” Katie suggested. “Sometimes, they eliminated competitors and did not want anyone else to come along and start it up again.”
“Besides,” Lincoln said. “Who would want to live here? The place sounds haunted.”
“What I was thinking,” Sukki said, and looked around, furtively, to await the next scream in the wind.
“Hey,” Boston got everyone’s attention. “Maybe there is a secret cave deep under the ruins where a genie lives in a lamp.” People ignored her.
“Fair enough,” Lockhart responded. “But I would think after five hundred years, there would at least be people living here.”
“There are,” Elder Stow said, and pulled his scanner back out. “Not many. Mostly hiding from us, I would guess.”
“Maybe merchants passing through,” Millie suggested.
Evan agreed with his wife. “Travelers, like us.”
Lockhart offered a thought one might expect from a former policeman. “Maybe thieves and robbers using this place as a hideout.”
“Thanks,” Lincoln objected to that image, and Sukki looked scared, but Boston picked up on the idea.
“Maybe cutthroats, murderers and assassins planning their next job.” She chuckled but stopped when she noticed some of the others did not find it so funny. “Sorry,” she said. “I seem to be losing touch with the way some humans view things.”
“It’s not that different,” Alexis scolded, and added, “Don’t give in to your impish impulses. That way leads to the dark side.”
Boston frowned. “Yes mom.” She gave it her sarcastic best, before she, Katie, and Decker all jumped to their feet.
“Excuse me.” A man stepped from behind their windbreak wall. He had his hat in his hand and worried it. “You appear to be travelers. May I ask where you are headed?”
“Jerusalem,” Lincoln said, before anyone could stop him. Between his database and Boston’s amulet, they figured out that much. The Kairos had to be in Jerusalem.
“Can we help you?” Lockhart asked in his best policeman voice.
“My wife and I need to get to Jerusalem. It is our home. We came up here because of family, but things went bad. There were armies and killing. It isn’t safe to travel home, just us, alone.”
“Your wife?” Alexis asked.
The man reached one hand behind the wall, and a young woman, ten or more years younger than the man, and a seven or eight-year-old girl came to join him. They said nothing, but the wife appeared to cling to the man, as the girl clung to her mother’s skirt and stared.
“You have names?” Katie asked, as she resumed her seat beside Lockhart.
“Yusef,” the man said. “Tama, my wife, and Aleah, my daughter, is eight.”
Katie introduced the travelers, and Alexis asked, “Are you hungry?”
“Thank you, no,” the man said. “We have eaten, earlier. If you don’t mind. Our people have many restrictions on what we may eat and how it is prepared.”
“Kosher,” Alexis nodded. “We understand, at least the basic idea.”
The family looked toward the wind caused scream in the distance. The travelers followed the family’s eyes but saw nothing; except a few noticed the fear in the eyes of the family.
“More ghosts. Not nice ones,” Boston said, before she quieted.