I'm not Jewish, but maybe I can give this a try. I'm not trying to be offensive. I think there might be a genuinely good story here.
Originally Posted by uaxuctum
Marlena's bedroom was too small, and she shared it with too many people. Her two younger sisters, Zoja and Beata shared it with her, while her two older sisters, Margo and Julita were in a room of their own. The two bedrooms were separated by a wall so thin that Marlena could hear the two older girls whispering to each other during the night as she was sure Zoja and Beata's quiet giggling could be heard from the neighboring room.
Marlena, on the other hand, usually kept to herself. During the night, while the other girls chatted away, she would lie in bed and imagine something better. Of what, she wasn't quite sure, but she knew that she didn't want to keep living like this for the rest of her life, and so she dreamed. . .
Their grandparents, along with a smattering of small children, had immigrated to New York in the 30s and somehow in the subsequent generation, had unfortunately managed to avoid the slow ascent through the economic and social classes that so many of their Polish neighbors did not. Their surname had gone from Glinski to Glenn at Ellis Island, after which their family had remained in what wouldn't quite be called a slum, but where nobody with any amount of money would ever consider living. There was always enough to eat, but also the persistent fear that some day, there might not be.
On Saturdays, they would have what Julita called "an occasional flirtation with the synagogue," (and to her this had a double meaning) which they attended neither regularly nor devoutly, but Mrs. Kowalski would always invite people over for dinner afterward (and she was someone you had to get to know) and Mr. Zielinski always threw in an extra brisket at his shop for the people he recognized. Besides, Julita and Margo both had a crush on his son, Aleksy, who they would smile at, girlishly, from across the room, as the Rabbi made his way through seemingly interminable ramblings.
It would be safe to say that growing up, Marlena was never a devout Jew, but nevertheless it was a part of her identity, and a part she felt she should be proud of. As she grew older, she had many fond memories of the synagogue, of praying with her parents, of passover dinners, and family gatherings on other holidays, and even as an adult, she always kept a Torah in her house. She never read it and (possibly) never believed it, but somehow, it gave her comfort just knowing it was there.
The next part of the story, I suppose you already know. Marlena grew up into an intelligent, talented, and although she didn't consider it important, beautiful young woman who was always at the head of her class. This lead to her acceptance into Harvard, a PhD at Princeton, and a postdoc at Berkley. Maybe success in college and making a lot of money wasn't enough for her--to truly get away from it all--from the poverty, the cramped apartment, her frivolous sisters. . . maybe she had to leave the planet. And maybe that's why she applied for that job at NASA, which brings us to the fateful mission that landed her on Eternia.
While his brother, Randor, inspected the troops, Keldor often liked to walk through the palace gardens, admiring the exotic trees and plants from far south, where it was always warm, that needed constant attention to stay alive in the only slightly harsher environment in Eternos. Keldor had been king for only a few years now, since his father had died. His younger brother, Randor, was happy to let him have the throne, content merely as the captain of the guard, having no kingly ambitions of his own. Keldor, too, had not sought out the job, but was content, since Eternia was generally peaceful and easy to manage, and the minor luxuries that he afforded himself as king (for he did not believe in extravagance that did not create jobs for or otherwise benefit his subjects) kept him happy.
It was during his walk through the gardens that Keldor noticed a very strange shooting star in the middle of the day. It was strange not only because of its size and brightness, but because long whisps of dark, black smoke and trailed out behind it. Keldor was curious, but not worried, because most things that happened on Eternia, he had found, happened for the best, even when they seemed bad at first. Whatever this thing was, he was sure would prove to bring him adventure, and he felt certain that he could use a little excitement right about then.
He headed nearly a mile in the direction of the whisps of smoke that were still rising from the ground. He walked outside of the palace walls, past the wall of Eternos that ran just behind the palace, and into the dry, empty desert that extended from one side of the city. There he saw a crater.
It was a fairly large crater for the tiny object that he found inside of it--a shiny white capsule, with a tinted glass window, and a strange, red, white and blue flag painted on the side. He approached cautiously, but not nervously (for there was little to fear on Eternia) and touched the side of the capsule. It opened with a soft, hissing noise.
Inside, as you can probably guess, he found a gorgeous young woman, who, had he believed in love at first sight, he would have said he was in love with. The woman was, of course, Marlena, and despite the copious safety features of the capsule, she was barely conscious.
"I--what--where am I?" she stammered, her eyes half closed, as she tried in vain to get her bearings.
"You're near Eternos," said Keldor, having no idea where on Eternia the sort of technology to make a capsule like this could be from, nor what the strange flag painted on it represented.
Keldor helped Marlena out of the capsule and back to the palace where he, with some help from his personal staff of physicians, nursed her back to health. Over that time, he got to know her quite well. She told him stories of earth, it's history, and her family, and he told her stories of Eternia, its heroic past, and the kings who had come before him.
It wasn't long before Keldor said the words, "I love you, Marlena," and she responded with, "I love you, too Keldor. More than you could ever know." Within a month, they were married.
For over a year, the two of them were happy. He ruled as King and she as Queen. Eternia was a joyous and beautiful paradise, that seemed so far removed from what Marlena had grown up with. Each day, she thought of home less and less. She though less and less of her parents, of her sisters, of the synagogue--all of these things became distant memories. This was real. Eternia was real. Her old life had been but a dream. She knew this was where she was meant to be.
And then, the plagues came. First it was flies, everywhere, all the time. They were in the air, in the food, and in the fields. These strange Eternian pests seemed to be able to breed limitlessly and destroyed field after field of crops.
Next came the toads that covered everything in a filthy, sticky slime from the swamp. The spread fungus and dirt, they were under every foot, in every corner, hopping through every street, and worst of all, they did nothing to diminish the flies.
Finally, there was the fever. It wiped out nearly a quarter of the population of Eternos before it reached the king.
"I'm going to die soon, Marlena." Said Keldor, who had resigned to death without fear. "I can feel it coming. The headache has gotten worse, and look," he turned over his palms, "the spots are on my hands." Red blisters dotted his palms and ran along the soft side of his wrists. "That means it's going to happen soon."
"You could have a day," began Marlena who had perhaps foolishly refused to leave her husband's side in his very contagious illness. But with a love like theirs, nothing could persuade her to be separated from him in his final hour. "Maybe you could even have--"
"I feel so weak," Keldor cut her off. "It's going to be soon."
Marlena sobbed and kissed him gently on the forehead. "Then, I'm going to stay here with you. I'm not going to leave. Never." Her voice trailed off as she repeated, "Never."
Keldor died that night, and his death was accompanied by mourning from all of Eternia, for he had been a great king, but especially from Marlena, who loved him as she had loved no one else. The fact was, she would never be able to accept his death, and all her life, she had found the strength to change the things she could not accept.
Earth science was perhaps not more advanced than Eternian science, but it was different. And Marlena had been a great scientist on Earth. Maybe that mean there could be hope. She knew that she would have to work quickly, since someone would probably come looking for the body that very night to begin the funeral proceedings. The body would likely be cremated due both to Eternian custom and especially to the disease that still took refuge within it.
Marlena dragged Keldor's body as best as she could, because it was incredibly heavy to her, yet she dared not ask for help. She pulled it, as quietly as possible, across the floor, out of her bedroom, into the hallway, and down the stairs to a small, secluded room below the castle where she had set up various instruments that were once a part of her space capsule. It was her laboratory.
She worked tirelessly. She toiled and sweated for hours, fiddled with dials, punched numbers into a computer hooked to Keldor's brain, and cursed God when she failed. She cut his flesh, soaked him in chemicals until his skin turned blue, and cursed God once more when that didn't work. She broke down, exhausted and angry, sobbing. He was all she had here on Eternia. The only thing she knew. Where would she go without him? Where could she go without him?
By Eternian law, as a foreigner and not of noble birth, she could no longer be queen now that her husband was dead. By tradition, Randor would probably let her live comfortably in the palace. But what if he didn't. What if. . . she couldn't think about it anymore. The grief was too much for her and her mind ran around in circles, through illogical loops and bizzare patterns that only those whose minds are saturated with grief can understand.
But Eternia was and still is a much more magical place than earth, and when she cursed God, there were beings who were listening. Before Marlena had enough time to get all of her tears out, a giant flaming wall appeared before her eyes, and out stepped a surprisingly ordinary looking man.
"You're in so much pain," he said, and she sniffed a little and nodded, too distraught to wonder or care who the man was. She hoped that he was death, coming for her as well.
"M-my husband," she stammered.
"Is dead," said the man. "Yes. I know. It isn't fair to you. And it isn't right." At that, Marlena began a fresh round of sobbing and burried her face into the man's slightly cold chest.
"I see you've tried to bring him back." said the man, and for a moment, Marlena had the fleeting notion that this might be an angel sent by God to punish her and recoiled slightly in fear, but she quickly dismissed it as ridiculous. "Don't worry," the man continued, "I'm not upset. Anyone would have done the same in your place. You just. . ." he gently tapped Keldor's mutilated corpse, "went about it the wrong way."
Marlena sniffed once more, this time with a glimmer of hope in her eyes. "You mean, you can help?" she asked, with just a glimmer of joy trembling beneath her tears.
"I can," said the man. "If you'll let me. Of course, you must realize that my powers aren't infinite. I cannot return him to exactly what he was before."
"I don't care. Just bring him back!"
"Very good," said the man calmly. "There's just one thing I'll need in exchange."
"Anything." said Marlena, equally calmly.
"The power to create life is not within me," said the man. "But," he continued, "it is within you."
Marlena placed her hand just below her abdomen, knowing what he meant.
"Your fertility, he said, "in exchange for his life."
Marlena nodded silently, tears still streaming down her face, and immediately felt a sharp pain shoot through her. She doubled over and just when she thought it was too much, in an instant, it was gone.
The man dug his fingernail into the flesh and bond that hung where Keldor's face had once been and traced a strange symbol that seemed vaguely familiar to Marlena on his forehead. He then placed his hand on top of it and in a blinding flash of light, the symbol sank deeper and deeper into the flesh, until it disappeared.
"It is done," said the man, who vanished into the same wall of fire through which he had come. Marlena looked over at her dead husband, the same blue heap of mangled flesh that she had left lying on the table minutes ago. She wondered what was going to happen to him, how anyone could fix. . . that. And then it started to move.
First the fingers wiggled a little, and then the arms began to flex. The scraped and disolved skin on the fingertips began to reform and then--no, it was too much. The fingernails extended outward into claws. The remaining skin on the face melted away and the muscles began to grow. It was a monster that sat up and turned to face Marlena.
"What's the matter, my dear wife?" came a nasaly, shrill voice that didn't belong to Keldor. "Don't you want to give your husband a kiss?" he cackled in the most horrific laugh imaginable.
"Keldor?" Marlena began timidly, and then began sobbing again, because she knew it wasn't him. Not really.
"Come with me to the garden," said Keldor and Marlena shook her head, too frightened to speak. "No, but I insist, he said," and grabbed her arm. The two of them marched out of her lab and into the garden that had given Keldor so much pleasure when he was alive.
"Let me go," Marlena screamed, but Keldor--or the creature he had become, just held on tighter.
"When you awoke me, you released an evil more powerful than you can imagine," and as if to prove the point, a bolt of energy shot from Keldor's fingertips into the ground, setting the entire garden ablaze with a mighty, thunderous crash. At the noise, Randor came running out into the garden.
"Ah, Randor, my brother!" came a voice from Keldor's hideous body. "How nice to see you again."
"Keldor?" asked Randor. "Is that you?"
"I was," said the creature, "before THIS happened," and he waved his hand in front of his face. "Now," he went on, "you may call me Skeletor." He paused for a second. "And you may all die." He laughed, horrifically and shot another crackling bolt from his fingertips that just barely missed Randor.
"Oh, God!" screamed Marlena. "What have I done! Why did you have to take him? Why did you take him from me, God! Why!" and with that, black clouds gathered on the horizon and a mighty storm shook the palace walls. Thunder and lightning crashed so loudly that Marlena thought she would go deaf. Off in the distance, black winds swirled and a rapidly twisting vortex made its way toward the garden. It was a tornado.
When Marlena saw the tornado stop in its tracks in front of them, still roaring like a lion, she remembered something she had read long ago and knew who it was. She was more terrified than she had ever been in her life. Skeletor couldn't help but drop to one knee in front of the mighty whirlwind that swirled in front of him. Randor kneeled as well from the other side and bowed his head.
"I am the God of good and evil, of life and death," came a booming voice amidst the churning cacophony. "I am the God of all creation and Keldor's life--all life, is to do with as I please."
Both Randor and Skeletor trembled with fear, but at the same time were filled with a sense of calm and certainty, as if at this moment, in front of the whirlwind, they could do nothing but fulfill their true purpose, whatever that was. If Skeletor was there to destroy, then Randor was there to preserve order, but if commanded to do the opposite, neither could help but obey.
"Master," said Skeletor, "you know I can do nothing but serve."
"All of creation can do nothing but serve," came the voice, "for every act, ever speck of dust, every grain of sand, obeys my will. Go now and serve only as I have commanded, adversary," and with that, Skeletor ran off into the darkness.
Lightning flashed. "Rise, Randor," said the voice, and Randor obeyed. "Marlena's husband is dead. Take her as your wife and she shall bear a son."
"But, I--" Marlena began, clutching her womb.
"What came before is of no consequence. You shall bear a son, because I command it," the voice boomed. "The first of my people born on Eternia. His name shall be Adam, the first man, and he shall be a Jew."
Later that evening, Marlena and Randor talked of the events from earlier. "I have to believe that his soul is at rest," said Marlena. "That creature out there that he has become. . . that wasn't him. That was my doing. My sin. I believe that God will take care of Keldor."
And so it came to pass that Randor and Marlena were married, and the first Jew was born on Eternia and that one day he would rise up to take the throne, and that many generations later, his distant ancestor Joshua would take on the role of He-Man, finally defeat Skeletor, and make the good kingdom of Eternos grow and grow until it covered the planet and reached on into the stars. And when the resurrection came, Keldor was returned to life, not Skeletor, but the man that he once was.
Last edited by He-Jutsu; May 11, 2012 at 06:20am.
Reason: very small new idea