The old gent introduced himself as Albert Mayer. “I’m the town Mayer,” he rumbled. “Should be easy to remember.” He was imbued with a depth that was hard to pin down. Like he had lived many lives. His voice was kind, assuring. “So, this strange alien thing is giving me grief. I lost my blood pressure medicine. Clement tells me you can relieve the stress a little.”

Tam smiled unconsciously. As a teacher, she was at least trained at explaining things in simple, coherent packages. She told him the Blob that had recently invaded their town was an evolved Wreck made from human flesh. It had the same basic programming as a Wreck, so would react to the same stimuli. But it could devour any human being thrown into it, and incorporate that flesh into itself, in a matter of seconds. But, like regular Wrecks, it was highly vulnerable to fire. And averse to chilli.

Not a fan of spicy food?” said Mayer, apparently assuming she was making a joke.

Wrecks avoid anything containing chilli,” said Tam. “You didn’t know that?”

Mayer looked at the guy in the leather jacket. The younger man bore a strong resemblance, most likely a son or nephew. Then Mayer hawed out a hearty laugh. Tam came to the conclusion that he was a control freak, like herself. He got a huge hit from knowing the potential, and the limitations, of any situation he was in. There was nothing worse than unknowns.

He brought Tam back to the kitchen and introduced her to the laboratory processes going on there. They were making bombs from homemade napalm, potassium permanganate and even some kind of backyard thermite.

If there’s anything we can do, we’re here for you,” said Tam. “That Blob ate my boyfriend.” The fact that she was using those words without irony did not strike her as unusual. She just wanted Mayer to know why a complete stranger was gung-ho for fighting the Omega.

Well, we’ve been through a lot,” said Mayer. “No angry Jell-O’s gonna take over my town at this stage.”

They spoke for some time about tactics. Clement and Leather Jacket had disappeared. By the time they came back, Tam and Rand had polluted Mayer’s mind with the risky strategies of the young. Leather Jacket spoke in a practiced monotone.

Got one good shot with the napalm, the thing just lost some weight. Looks like a solid option. The Wrecks are coming out of the woodwork with all the activity. Can’t handle both, we had to fall back to hideouts. But get this, the thing’s eating up those Wrecks for us. We’re thinking about leaving it to it.”

You can’t do that,” said Tam. “If it grows enough it’ll split in two, just like bacteria.”

Jesus Christ,” said Clement.

They each grabbed as many explosives as they could carry, with the notable exception of Mayer. He selected several devices and handed them to Tam and Rand. This made Tam distinctly nervous. She found herself carrying a plastic bleach bottle with a fuse sticking out of it, and a jam jar packed with grey metal filings and another, smaller jam jar. They ran through the complex and out into the street. The poor old people were winded from this simple exertion, though they’d basically just run down a single flight of stairs.

They stalked towards the main street. Rand looked at Tam, and at the two bombs in his hands. He clearly hadn’t a clue what to do with them either.

At the corner, they checked their surroundings. The Blob was nowhere in sight. But there were some unsettling noises. Suddenly, a man flew through a doorway screaming obscenities. Two Wrecks were almost on top of him. Clement shouted, “Bobcat!” The man looked their direction. He came towards them. Clement twisted the nozzle on the oxygen tank he was carrying. He sparked a gas stove lighter and held it to the tip of his flame-thrower-type weapon. It took its time lighting. But when it did, it flared up like an arc welder and Tam had to look away.

Mayer’s nephew grabbed the jar from Tam and threw it. It shattered. Then it erupted into a ball of sparks and think smoke. Bobcat ran straight through the smoke and past them. Clement advanced into the smoke with a truly stunning level of fuck-you bravery. The Wrecks were disoriented within the smoke. Coughing and choking, Clement set them both on fire. Then he got out of there fast. The burning Wrecks were like a postmodern dance routine in the darkness.

The Blob was in the square dominated by the historic building. As the motley crew closed in, Tam could see that the Omega was under attacked from several Wrecks whose allegiance belonged to a different strand of Ep Rex’s evolutionary plan.