The Marked Man

Hyderabad slum

Hyderabad slum morning scene – 30 March 2012 – Found at Wikipedia

And Hashem placed a mark upon Cain, so that none that meet him might kill him. –Genesis 4:15 (Stone Edition Chumash)

The marked man worked with the other men and the children, laboring for the paltry sum earned in the slums, but he wasn’t one of them. He wasn’t a European, Indian or Pakistani. His Telugu was poor, but he usually made himself understood. However, none spoke to him more than they had to.

Sai was only five years old and he didn’t comprehend the mark. “Who are you?” The inquisitive child sat next to him during a break, but before the man could answer, his father Arjun picked him up and whisked him away. But in that moment, Arjun looked into the stranger’s eyes, and was gripped by the horrible realization that he who called himself Qābīl, had been cursed by God since the Creation.

I wrote this for the What Pegman Saw challenge. The idea is to take a Google maps location and/or image and use it as the inspiration for crafting a flash fiction piece no more than 150 words long. My word count is 145.

Today, the Pegman takes us to Golconda Fort, Hyderabad, India. Of course I looked up Hyderabad and especially its languages, religions, and slums.

Although I’m not Jewish, I read the weekly Torah portions every Shabbat (in this case, Saturday morning) in the Jewish tradition. The reasons for this are complicated and beyond the scope of this wee commentary, but today, we begin a brand new annual Torah cycle with Beresheet or Genesis 1:1-6:8. This includes the infamous tale of Cain and Abel. After Cain killed his brother out of jealousy, Hashem (God – in Hebrew, “The Name”) banished him, and because of that, Cain feared for his life. So Hashem did this:

Cain said to Hashem, “Is my iniquity too great to be borne? Behold, You have banished me this day from the face of the earth — can I be hidden from Your presence? I must become a vagrant and a wanderer on earth; whoever meets me will kill me!” Hashem said to him, “Therefore whoever slays Cain, before seven generations have passed, he will be punished.” And Hashem placed a mark upon Cain, so that none that meet him might kill him. –Genesis 4:13-15 (Stone Edition Chumash)

Interestingly enough, Cain’s death was never recorded, although there are theories about how he was killed. But what if he didn’t die? How does a marked man live for thousands upon thousands of years, wandering the face of the earth?

I know I’ve taken great liberties with the Bible, but sometimes one way to study is to imagine what is written between the lines of the Bible. Christian and Jewish commentators have been doing that for thousands of years, although I can’t say I have the wisdom many of them possessed.

Oh, I used Cain’s name from the transliterated Arabic. The transliteration from Hebrew is Qayin.

To read other tales based on the prompt, visit

The Journey West of Eden


s. Enteressangle/e. Daynes/Science Photo Library

Hashem planted a garden in Eden, to the east, and placed there the man whom He had formed. And Hashem God caused to sprout from the ground every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food; also the Tree of Life in the midst of the garden, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad.

Hashem God said, “It is not good that man be alone; I will make him a helper corresponding to him.”

So Hashem God cast a deep sleep upon the man and he slept; and He took one of his sides and He filled in flesh in its place. Then Hashem God fashioned the side that He had taken from the man into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And the man said, “This time it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This shall be called Woman, for from man was she taken.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife and they shall become one flesh.

They were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:8-9, 18, 21-25 (Stone Edition Chumash)

Alam was puzzled and tried to work out this new thing he was seeing. This land had not been here the last time he led Nun and Tav to hunt the prey beasts. It was a new place, but it should not be. It was plants, fruits, good to eat, and many beasts.

He was about to lead the two others in for an easy kill. The Imorg could come back to gather the fruits and berries. Then he signaled stop. There was a noise that was not a noise coming from no place. The noise was near a new beast but not coming from the new beast. The new beast was unlike anything Alam or the others had known.

Alam signaled for stealth, for them to go back and wait while he moved forward. He was the bravest of the Morg and brought the clan much game. Now he was faced with what he did not know and his courage was greatly tested.

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The Fall of Chavah


© Kecia Sparlin

“I’ve always been given the blame, but it was really that woman and man. After all, I can’t make someone do something against their will. She ate of her own accord and the man, who should have known better, was standing right there, and not only did he not stop her, he ate too.”

“Why did you even talk to her in the first place? If not for you…”

“Judith, dear Judith, she would have done it sooner or later. Temptation is just like gravity. All it takes is a little push to help it along. After all, didn’t Hashem make me cunning beyond any beast of the field?”

“You’re very glib, serpent. I still think you set Chavah up to take the blame.”

“Face it, Judith. You’re no sort of woman to tend a garden. That’s why you sought me out. Walk on the wild side and that sort of thing?”

“You ruined my life, my engagement, everything.”

“The decisions you make are on you. I just revealed your options.”

Written for the FFfAW Challenge-Week of July 4, 2017 #2 (I wonder what #1 is?) hosted by Priceless Joy. The idea is to use the photo above as a prompt to write a piece of flash fiction between 100 and 175 words long, with 150 words being the ideal. My word count is 171.

Unfortunately, I saw the title of Iain Kelly’s story, though I haven’t read his tale yet, and it influenced my choice of topics, the serpent in the garden. I briefly quoted from the Stone Edition Tanakh, the words in italics above. I also “borrowed” the phrase about temptation and gravity from Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker from the 2008 film “The Dark Knight”.

Some people believe all of their problems are the result of an external tormentor or tempter, but in truth, tempted though we may be, our actions are on us. We can choose to say “no.”

To read more stories based on the prompt, go to