A fictional messiah, alas. But what a fascinating one!

I’m referring to a magical new short story, “The Messiah,” by a neighbor and friend of mine, Helen Maryles Shankman. This is part of a series of interlinked short stories, which is slowly seeing publication in various venues.

Here’s how this one begins:

At around two in the morning, my mother shook me awake. The Messiah was coming. There was no doubt about it, he’d been spotted ten miles outside of Wlodawa. At this rate, he would be here by morning. Get up, get up. We had to pack.

She left me to dress. It was a cold November night, gale force winds rattling the roof tiles and chimney pots. Reluctant to surrender the warmth of my bed, I shut my eyes tight and snuggled down into the covers to consider this information.

It wasn’t as if there hadn’t been signs. Strange lights in the sky, unusual weather. A dybbuk had taken possession of the tailor’s wife. An actual Golem had saved the lives of two-hundred and fifty people being led off to slaughter. A whole battalion of Deutschen, wiped out by mysterious forest creatures. The news was on everyone’s lips. We were in the throes of an epic showdown between good and evil. Messianic times, for sure.

Downstairs, I heard the sound of my mother’s voice, hurried, anxious. There would be time for exhilaration later. Now, she had to make certain that everyone would have enough food and clothing for the long journey to Eretz Yisroel, the Promised Land.

Read the rest at JewishFiction.net.