Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 07

“We’ll run out of fuel,” Anders started, unwilling, or perhaps unable, to give up his point.

“We have the new flex fuel engines, sir,” Dag Jakobsen said. “They were designed to be environmentally friendly, but in our situation they mean we can burn just about anything liquid. Alcohol, crude oil…if it’s liquid and it burns, we can use it.

“Our best bet is crude oil. It’s not the most environmentally sensitive choice, but under the circumstances, it has the best combination of energy density and availability.”

“Are you sure of that, Dag?” the captain asked. “I agree about energy density, but availability? Wouldn’t it be easier to just use alcohol? The Egyptians have been brewing beer for centuries.”

“Sure. But beer doesn’t burn. That takes a much more concentrated form of alcohol. We would have to introduce large-scale distillation and that’s effectively a new industry. I’ve been digging into the computers. Back in the eighteen fifties, they drilled a producing well in Trinidad that was something like two hundred fifty feet deep. And some in Wisconsin that were as little as fifty feet deep. I don’t know where we’re going to get it. They may even have it around here, but the cheapest way to get fuel is to drill a well. And, at least for the well in Trinidad, we have grid coordinates. We can fabricate a drilling rig in the ship’s shops onboard a lot easier than we can fabricate a whole distilling industry. I looked at Google maps. We know pretty close to right where to dig in Trinidad.”

“Write me up a report, Dag. Once we have stocked up on food, we might find it necessary to cross the Atlantic and set up some sort of a base. Meanwhile, for right now, I think we have to take Professor Easley’s advice. We’ll head for Egypt.”

* * *

Rabbi Benyamin Abrahamson sat on the loveseat in his cabin and prayed. He recited from the Torah under his breath as he tried to wrap his mind around the news. God had sent them back to this time. A time that some scholars insisted included the next best thing to polytheism in Judaism. It wasn’t the time of Moses, but Moses was closer to them in time than was the modern world. Even Abraham was closer to them than the world they had left.

What did God want of him to put him here?

* * *

Lawrence Hewell, a Baptist minister, was having a similar reaction, if one that was perhaps more emotionally confusing. “Dear Lord! Father in Heaven, why have you sent me into this wilderness? Not just among the heathen, but to a time when the entire world was heathen! A time before our blessed savior had come among us to offer himself in sacrifice.”

Lawrence wasn’t mumbling. It was closer to a wail of despair. Close enough to a wail, in fact, that someone in the next cabin banged on the wall and a woman’s voice shouted, “Would you mind holding off on your spiritual crisis till we’ve gone to dinner?”

Even here on this ship, where at least at this moment the only Christians in the world are! Lawrence thought. Even here, calling on the Lord brings the wrath of the unrighteous! Is that why God brought me here? To be John the Baptist? Three hundred years early? To prepare the way?

* * *

In his quarters below decks, Yaseen Ali prepared to pray and stopped. Mecca was that way. He had an app on his phone that used the ship’s net to provide the direction and the app was working again. The problem was that the Kaaba wasn’t there yet, or if it was, it was the altar to a pagan god. The focal point for prayer had, for the first thirteen years of Islam, been the Noble Sanctuary, the temple of Jews in Jerusalem. Allah had moved it in the middle of prayers. Yaseen had always assumed that the move was because Allah was angry with the Jews. Allah, not Muhammad, later politics, or later mullahs. Allah. The Jews had rejected the teachings of Christ and then they rejected the teachings of Muhammad and Allah had had enough. So Yaseen had believed — no, known, with confidence and comfort in his certainty. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that the transfer of the Kaaba had happened at a certain very specific time. Seventeen months after Muhammad had taken his followers to Medina. During noon prayers on February 11, 624 of the Common Era. Nine hundred forty-two years from now.

The transfer of the Kaaba hadn’t happened yet! Would not happen for almost a millennium, if the effect they were going to have on history didn’t change it. Did he pray facing Kaaba in Mecca or the sanctuary in Jerusalem?

At this distance the difference was miniscule, but it was the intent that mattered. Did Allah placing him and the other modern followers of Islam in this time mean that the Jews were getting another chance, or that they were already lost?

Islam respected the people of the book. Even Jews. But now the only people of the book were on this ship, and they were mostly Christians. Only the Jews in this time were people of the book. That decided him. For now at least, he would pray facing the temple in Jerusalem. But the comfortable certainty of his faith was missing as he prayed to Allah to guide his steps in this strange world.

On Formentera Island

September 16

Mosicar looked out at the ocean where the giant ship had been and wondered. Mosicar was the owner of a village of fishermen that was only a few miles from where the giant ship had appeared. He had ordered a watch placed on it, and a little after the middle of the night, it had sailed away.

No. That was wrong.

There had been no sail involved, nor any oars. No means of propulsion that he could imagine, not that he could imagine anything other than the will of the gods that could move such a structure.

Yamm must favor their endeavors, and Mosicar didn’t want such people angry at him. Still, he had obligations to the crown in Carthage, and there was — at least potentially — money to be made. The whole village was set to going through the ruins left when the dock arrived, to find anything of value.

What they found was strange beyond imagining. Aside from the lumber and odd daub-like stuff that made up the walls, there were pipes made of a white material. There were copper wires inside the walls, that were coated in a flexible covering like leather, but fitted around the wires like skin. There were scissors made of the best steel that Mosicar had ever seen. There were books and pamphlets with strange writing on them. Mosicar thought it might be like the Latin script, but he wasn’t sure. It was almost as though they used occasional Latin letters mixed in with a different script.

None of it made sense, but parts almost did. There were images of people, of beaches and seas, and more of the giant ships — as though the whole world was filled with them and the people that occupied them. There were pools of water on the ships on the upper decks, and that was the strangest of things, for there seemed to be deck stacked upon deck upon deck upon deck, more than any ship could carry.

“No!” Mosicar shouted when one of the women started to throw away one of the sheets. “We throw away nothing. Collect everything and store it all in casks and amphoras. I will send a boat to Ibiza and hire a ship. This will all go to Carthage to sell at auction.” He looked around as his villagers stared at him. “You will all get a share of the profits. But don’t be too greedy. Hiring the ship will cost money.”