Christian Short Stories
A Different God
By Web Ruble
Web writes: "I have talked to several veterans who have come back from the Middle East (long after I traveled the area). Although fiction, this yarn is typical of some of the stories I have heard."
Despite it being late afternoon, Mousar felt a chill in the air.
Getting to be that time again.
This would be his last or one of his last trips. Snow would soon fall. The ground would freeze. Nothing would grow then. Few travelers of the path have been seen lately, anyhow.
Nevertheless, this day he was enjoying. Cherza, his companion donkey, plodded along the dry "road." Even though the sun was blazing, 'twas not hot. The cobalt blue sky was contrasting dizzily with the red-brown ground and the blue-white of abrupt, steep mountains.
This glorious day he was taking poppy seed to market in Tezrat.
He and Cherza had traveled this path so many times. Mousar-- and probably Cherza -- always enjoy the trip until snow makes it impossible. When that happens they stay home.
This winter it will be fine. God had been good to them. Mousar had always gotten a good price recently for his poppy seed or grain in the Tezrat market.
Yes, life was good. Masour was getting on. He mused that soon he may go to paradise.
Then it happened. Without warning the sky roared. Terrified, he looked up and away from the sun to see a glint of sun on something silver in color. It roared overhead, disappearing over a distant ridge. Then a terrible noise. Then nothing. Minutes of silence.
Was his mind playing tricks? Did he really hear or see that? What could it be? Birds were not that big and did not act that way. Nor did they make such a noise.
At the old coffee house in Shama-al-Desir, where he always stopped, Mousar told Ahmet about what he had seen and heard.
Ahmet, you see, was connected to God better than most mere mortals. He was what some called a leader. Mousar and Ahmet discussed it and both agreed that God, indeed, as angry. They didn't know why. Perhaps it was because Mousar had failed to stop to pray several times that day or other recent days. Yes, that had to be it. Still . . .
Mousar resumed his journey. Coming to lower elevations and villages, he now saw more travelers. He reached the old market place at Tezrat. He went immediately to Shadiq. Without much bartering, Mousar sold him his poppy seed. The profit was fair.
Now Mousar sought the town's religious leader -- Sharif. He dwelled near the center of town. Wise old Sharif could read and write and knew more than everyday things. Surely he would be able to tell Mousar what was that apparition that shattered the heavens. He would also ask Sharif if it was truly God's anger, and if it was, why God was so angry.
Masour found Sharif at his usual place. Yes, he would receive Masour. Masour tethered Cherza and the two men, like teacher and student, retired to Sharif's inner sanctum.
Women including Sharif's wife -- dressed head-to-toe in chaderi -- bustled about. They served tea then left the room. The men talked.
"That was an airplane," said Sharif. "The Americans have come."
"Airplane? What's that? Americans? Who? Never heard of them," said Masour.
Then he asked, "Where are the Americans from? Far away? Why have they come?"
"They are invaders," Sharif said. "But not exactly like many others in times of old. These Americans and their friends are from far away -- another world. They have come to change our world."
"They think we're evil and do not live correctly."
"But we've always lived this way," Masour said. "It is as God intended."
"Why then . . .?"
"Don't know. Except I think THEY are evil. They don't pray. They are always loud. Make loud noises. They call it music. Some call it rock."
Wow. What knowledge! Such a learned man. Truly, Sharif knew everything, mused Masour.
"What do we do about these invaders?" asked Masour.
"We fight 'em," said Sharif. "But let me tell you. Getting rid of them won't be easy. They have the devil's weapons of the future. The airplane is one of them."
"Is there any other reason they are here?" asked Masour.
"Well, I have heard that they claim someone from here did something terrible in their country," Sharif said.
"What did our people do?"
"Don't know exactly."
He paused. Then continued: "It isn't the first time, of course, that we have had invaders. When invaders passed through many times before they brought a message from a God different than ours. Their religion is in a book. Some of them have that book with them."
"A holy book different from ours?"
"Yes. It is interesting. I remember years ago, when you and I were small, a man came through by himself. He was pleasant and kept to himself. He would read his book every day, and if asked, he would have good things to say about peace. Nice fellow. He continued on his way without trying to change us. But these people today. . .
"Remember, I have told villagers about ancient times. The road you always travel to get here was once a main trade route. Strangers -- they were merchants of silk -- passed through here a long time ago on the way to that other land beyond the mountains. Some of them had what appears to be that same 'holy book'."
"Perhaps we should not be fighting these strangers. Perhaps they are not so evil. Maybe we should get a hold of their peace - talking book," Masour said. "You can read it, even if I can't. What's it called?"
"Don't know for sure."
"Maybe we should find out."
A warm feeling came over both men. Sharif could not explain it.
(© 2011 Web Ruble – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)
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