Author : J.E. Moskowitz
An explanation of Manna
“And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is Manna: for they knew not what it was. And Moses said unto them, this is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.”
-Exodus 16: 14-15
The Explanatory Midrash:
The pager embedded in Christian’s head beeped, and before he could think it off, his boss’s shrill voice came through: “We have an unidentified 14-15, possible long term consequences for all of humanity. Please Investigate.” As his boss’s grating voice clicked off, Christian groaned. The night before, he and Henry had gone to a new bar on Titan, picked up a couple of plutonian girls, and caught the last shuttle back to Earth. He rolled out of bed, grabbed his time travel gear, and headed for his transporter.
Gold and blue embossed letters on the building read: “Time-Police: Before Common Era District.” Christian put his eye to the scanner, and spoke his name and badge number into the voice recognition box. The door clicked open and he walked into the monitoring room; a temporal disturbance had been detected, affecting the ancient Israelites.
Probably some pranksters, Christian thought. The cyborg miners on Pluto loved to alter Earth history; since they had no conception of culture they loved to screw around with humanity’s past. Still, Christian thought, it might be some fanatic trying to set up an apocalyptic scenario or some ridiculous scheme to resurrect this Messiah or that.
Christian stepped onto the time transporter, set his coordinates, and a light hum signaled the machines activation. All of his atoms were stripped from his body, reducing Christian to his pure essence and sending him to Ancient Israel.
In a blinding flash of light, Christian’s body and soul reformed. Instantly, the punishing heat of the desert hit him, bringing him to his knees. The large sun hung in cloudless sky like a pocket watch that had stopped swinging. An unforgiving wind blew fine sand into his eyes. In the distance, chrome mountains stretched out before him. It was beautiful, but Christian didn’t care. He didn’t expect to be called into work, and he had made plans to go hover skiing with Caesar.
He began circling around and checked the monitor on his wrist; immediately he found the source of the temporal disturbance. An unregistered school group was touring the area, and two kids had stepped out of their invisible-field. He approached the kids who were dancing around the Israelite, taunting him. Sand littered the Israelite’s graying beard, and wrinkles lined his face. One of the kids was throwing bread from a sandwich at the Israelite’s feet. The other kid had his translator on so he could speak to the Israelite, but he was using a teasing tone:
“Ooooohhhh…..it’s food…..AAhhhhh….from Hashem!!”
Christian grabbed the kids by the ears to take them back to their group, and one of the boys cried out in pain: “Mann..ahh!”
Ah crap, Christian though. Now Christian would have to file a temporal disturbance report, charge these two with historical vandalism, head another crew to clean up the mess, and on and on.
Screw it, Christian thought. Christian decided to take the kids back to their group, tell the tour guide to register his tours, make an announcement about being more careful, and just go home. He’d still have enough energy to hit the hover slopes with Caesar. As Christian walked the kids back to their group he didn’t notice the beautiful land he was walking on, the vitality of it; didn’t think of the importance of the land to the Hebrews.
Christian pushed the two kids into their invisible-field, chided the tour guide and asked for the group’s attention.
“Everyone,” he said. “Please pick up your bread crumbs!”