Here are the previous chapters to the best time travelling story since (assuming time is linear) Back to the Future, Doctor Who and Looper:
Jude and Irene edged towards the stone well. In the dark it was hard to see much more than the dark outlines of the surrounding building.
A hushed voice called them.
It was the store owner. In the dark only the whites of his eyes were visible.
He moved into the dim moonlight and motioned for them to follow him, before receding back into the shadows.
“Can we trust him?” Irene whispered, still shaking from the events earlier in the evening. “We could be walking into a trap.”
Jude shrugged. He handed her a cold, heavy pistol. "Doesn't matter. We're sure to get useful intel either way."
“I really, really hope it does not come to me using this,” Irene swallowed, feeling the weight of the pistol.
They crept towards the store owner.
“My pay?” he reminded, stretching out a grubby hand.
Irene handed him a leather pouch. He turned around and made a complex series of knocks on the wooden door he stood in front of.
The door was unlocked and unbolted, and softly creaked open.
Inside was a small woman in her late teens with straight ebony hair.
“This is Maria,” the store owner explained. “She is a follower of Yēšûă, and is very close to him. She often goes ahead with a group of followers to announce his arrival. However, she does not speak very much or to too many people. But when I told her of you, she said she is interested to hear from travelers from afar who have come to hear from her teacher.”
Maria glared at the bag Irene had given the store owner. Her eyes were wild and her nostrils flared, but she did not speak.
“This is my money,” stammered the man. “I must go.” And with that he disappeared into the night.
Maria motioned for Jude and Irene to sit at the table, and they duly complied. As they did, she peered down the street, before closing the door and sitting down with them.
“You seek to learn the truth?” She spoke in Aramaic, not Hebrew like the store owner, and her voice was soft but assured.
“We have come from very far away to hear Yēšûă speak,” Irene answered, while translating the conversation at the same time for Jude's benefit. “My name is Irene, and this is Jude.”
“My name is Maria,” she said. “I speak for the one you call Yēšûă, in his absence.”
“When will we be able to hear him speak?” pressed Irene, before smiling and adding, “we have heard great things from those that have heard his words.”
“He has been expecting your arrival. He wishes to meet the both of you personally,” smiled Maria back, before pouring water from a clay pitcher into two cups for the guests. “He shall meet you before his talk.”
As soon as Irene translated this for Jude he broke out into a smile. “This might be easier than we think. Tell her we accept his generous offer.”
“But just you two. Not those that travel with you,” Maria added, pushing the cups of water in front of them.
The doctor's eyes widened and she translated this to Jude.
“That's a little cold-reading psychic parlour trick,” he chuckled, soft but deeply. “She obviously saw us come in this morning with the team.” He paused when he saw Irene holding the cup in her hand and added, “Don't drink the water, it might be poisoned.”
“When and where can we meet him?” Irene asked the girl.
Maria smiled and nodded. “We shall contact you. In the meantime, you are welcome to join in the festivities of his arrival. He will come in mid-afternoon through the town square tomorrow. He is not fearful of the Romans, but his followers are a little. My teacher is a wanted man with a big price on his head you know, so we will make sure his whereabouts are hidden during his stay.”
The young woman beamed at her guests.
“I can tell by the way she's acting that she's been brainwashed by this man,” said Jude, leaning over to Irene. "I saw the same gushing look on the faces of members of a cult in Columbia. They'd all undergone a series of brain manipulating exercises combined with mind altering drugs, until they hardly had an individual identity."
The doctor rolled her eyes at him and grinned. “Looks more like a school girl crush. She's very sweet, like I was before I met jerks like you.”
“What did she say anyway?” Jude asked.
“She said he'll be here at the exact time and in the exact position the mission documents had suggested. I'm actually quite surprised at the accuracy the research team attained.”
“I don't know how it works, but it definitely is accurate,” said Jude. “Tell her we'll await the invitation. Between you and me, if that offer is kept on the table, this could be a very easy in and out operation … which is a relief because your childlike naivety gets you in trouble, and has me on edge.” He paused. “Mind you, I am too long in the tooth to get excited. Missions that are too easy to be true, usually turn out to be the most tricky and with the most casualties.”
If you are enjoying my free book and the accompanying drawings, spread the love and let others know about it by posting the first chapter on your Facebook wall. :-)