Tuesday, September 14, 2010

THE MARTYRDOM... plucked from the ashes

Do you promise to accept this as fiction? During a lull in the hymn singing (their cantor was very good, actually) we heard the pounding roar of hoof beats, as a hoard of newly minted Crusaders galloped into the town, only to dismount . They shouted to each other in a dialect I could not understand. But it all happened so fast. The native Jews inside seemed prepared for what was to come.In the few seconds of silence, I studied the simplistic, scriptural paintings adorning this place, Solomon and the other kings, an archangel or two. Very different from our Moorish influenced Beit Sefer in Granada. Johannan slid close to me. There was a loud, pounding sound, like rocks slamming against the great oaken doors and monstrous hail stones assaulting the roof, as volley after volley of stout fire-arrows rained down upon us. There was no escape. In seconds this house of prayer was engulfed in flame. The people inside softly began to intone the prayer for the dead. I just sat there. I was not used to persecutions like this and knew not what to do. Some tried to smash through the small, stained glass windows, but they were instantly shot dead and the rush of air racing into the breech only served to fan the flames. Johannan grabbed me and threw me under the heavy, stone table holding the scrolls of the Bible. I was surrounded by what looked like fiery human automatons. Some just sat there. Others prayed. The sad little boys just prior to their consecration (bar mitzvah) huddled together and wept.  Death was all around me. I passed out from the noxious fumes, but did not die. And a bit later, in the smoking ruins,  was found by a being who I eventually learned to be a vampire.

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