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

Tomb of the Pilot

glenn and friendship 7

Image: NASA

“I can’t believe we finally made it, Kent. We’ve made it to the tomb.”

“We aren’t there yet, Bethany. We still have to make it across this field.”

Kent and Bethany had been traveling by horseback for weeks, following the ancient maps and clues left by the Predecessors. They weren’t entirely sure how long ago the Predecessors lived or when the original maps had been created. Certainly it was in the time before the fall, before the plague that was rumored to have killed billions, before the return of the remnant of mankind to their simple farms and fields.

They stood a moment reviewing the scene in the mid-morning sunlight.

“There’s not much left. I mean, the reproduction of the map of this area showed more tombs and graves, many, many more.”

“Time, weather, a multitude of other factors have destroyed all this, Bethany. The Pilot’s tomb is supposed to be one of the few left.”

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