“Yeah… we… just a vacation… I mean outside of being called the savior of the bedroom from this one.” Jack said as he did a small lifting motion as Celina got jostled up and down as he looked back at the rest. “I have never been called a savior.”
“What… Jack,” she cuffed him sharply with a curved hand and a flick of her hand on the back of the head. It did not hurt but an involuntary reaction. “You had better start praying to St. Alexius,” Celina shook her head as Jack set her down.
“Oh Allah not this again, if I have to hear about your Saints again like they are Pokemon that you have to catch again… why Alexius? What did he do?” Jack asked with a roll of his eyes as she brought that up. He often felt Catholics had more saints than the Greeks had patron deities.
“Yes yes St. Alexius of Rome and the great Anthony of Padua,” the guide said as the group dropped to his knees and began to bow like a Hindu instead of clasping his hands together like a Christian. The group all began to chant something low and soft that reminded Jack and Celina of a prayer.
“Okay that is new,” Celina remarked not sure of what to make of the situation.
“No no no no… we… we are just here to mingle and not be single…” Jack said as he looked around at the people as they gathered around him.
After several seconds the guide stood up and nodded happily to the couple. “The ever-faithful missonarian Cesar spoke to us from the heavens and told us that Saint Anthony and Saint Alexius would give us in our trials and he provided…you,” the guide moved forward with open arms to embrace Jack in a large hug.
“Don’t touch me....” Jack said simply as he put his hand in front of the man’s chest.
The man drew back with a hurt expression on his face.
“He is not a hugger,” Celina patted the guide on the shoulder in a reassuring manner.
“But is this not the preferred greeting of your world. It is for most. The embrace of open arms shows one they have nothing to hide. If your hands are open you can not attack,” he said stepping to the side slightly to embrace Celina is a hug. Not knowing what to do she patted the man a bit awkwardly on the back wrinkling up her nose. “See we are not family,” he moved back two more steps and looked at Jack again as if offering him a second chance.
“Smells like my Uncle Jorge,” she whispered under her breath to Jack before looking at the man standing before them with his arms open.
“Again not a hugger,” she pointed to the man and then Jack shaking her head. She tried to hide the smirk on her face at the man thinking if your hands were open and free of a weapon you could not attack. With the self-defense skills of the group before them, Jack could move through the group with the speed of the Flash and John Wick them all in under ten seconds but why take away their little slide of happiness and security.
“Don’t worry but can you tell me more of why you think Saint Alexius and Saint Anthony sent us to you.” Her tone was soft and gentle because she needed to keep the conversation calm and controlled. She wasn’t worried about offending any. Celina was more worried about the Cesar reference and which Cesar the guide had in mind.
“Lord not more saints, it’s like ancient greek mythology expect you guys have more Saints than they did. You know the other Chrisitan sects just stick with Jesus and God, but no you Catholics had to get fancy with your Saint naming.” Ardashir said with a roll of his eyes.
While she understood exactly what Jack said and agreed years of mass made her perform the holy trinity as if to ward off evil.
“Saint Alexius is the patron saint of vacations and Saint Anthony is the patron saint of lost things,” Celina explained still not making the connection between why they were calling her and Jack saviors, religions were being mixed, and how her brother fit into all of this. Her only saving grace was that Jack was Muslim and while he knew a lot about her religion, it was just cursory knowledge at this point. This precious fact was giving her more time to figure out what was going on than Jack which might just allow her mother to see her youngest son again.
“Of course they are,” Jack said plainly as he looked around trying to see more about this place. If he wanted to get away he needed to be aware of his surroundings.
To try and play it off she took a small step to the side and cocked an eyebrow at him as she spoke. “Just don’t want to get struck by the lightning when it comes down,” she finished her statement with a wink before continuing her conversation with the guide and Jack. “We were talking about St. Alexis and Anthony,” she tried to get them back on track.
“Yes and the great missionarian Cesar foretold us of this glorious day. He said that he would scour the heavens and bring to us the chosen people,” the guide smiled happily at them and gestured slightly in an encouraging manner as if she and Jack were idiots.
“Did Cesar also ask about his best friend Brutus? Ends great that story… where is Cesar… and why are we here?” Jack demanded as he didn’t budge from where he was.
Celina opened her mouth and rapidly and shut it realizing she and Jack were on two pages. Letting a small cough escape her mouth she forced it a bit more until her throat became dry allowing the coughs to appear more natural. “I think it is the dust,” she made a fist bringing it to her lips. She needed a way to talk to the guide alone but Jack was never going to let her just roam the camp alone. It was not that Jack would be scared they would hurt her. Jack would be more concerned about them trying to convert her. Either way, she had to find a way to get the guide alone.
“Take a seat at the fire while I take care of your wife that is not a wife but feels like one,” he replied to Jack.
“Huh,” she wrinkled up her nose and for a split second forgot to cough. The fire was only five feet from the cistern so hopefully, Jack would sit and Celina could straighten out the whole Cesar story before Jack realized they were not talking about Romans.
“Come come to the water,” he said leading Celina towards the large cistern in a corner of the camp by the fire. “You must be parched,” he replied dipping a wooden cup into the depths of the container and pulling out a sip of water.
“God I hope this is not Kool aid,” she mumbled to herself as she drank the water.
Celina Rodriguez CTO
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