April 2014
Stephen Rubin

The early morning air was crisp with a calming scent, and as the sun settled over the basalt plateaus to the east, the residents of the Jewish village of Kantur took the time to enjoy the soothingly warm rays, which briefly overcame the bone-chilling winter winds being swept off the lake deep in the tranquil valley to the west.

A new load of flax had just been purchased from the Christian village of Bethesda on the northeast side of the lake’s shore, and the increasing demand for soft, pure-linen fabric ensured that the Jews of Kantur would be working steadily throughout the winter months, processing the raw flax into a dyed-white material that could then be turned into a handsome profit. More importantly, this lucrative textile would be used by the community itself as clothing for the High Holy Days and for wrapping the bodies of those whose lives would cease to exist over the coming year.

While the villagers of Kantur strode optimistically to their dyeing basins on the south side of the village, the thought of death could only have been connected to those who would eventually be buried in the pristinely engineered garments. Suddenly, the earth started to sadistically tremble beneath their feet with such wrath that even the fiercest believers began to question their faith in the almighty Elohim. Volcanic boulders hurtled down upon them from the elevated plateau, leaving them with no time to comprehend the fact that their own journey to the next world was only seconds away. Instead, the newly purchased flax would soon be used to cover their own lifeless bodies. More