Shofar, So Good...
If Jesus Christ were to come today, people would not even crucify him. They would ask him to dinner, and hear what he had to say, and make fun of it.
— Thomas Carlyle
If the real Jesus Christ were to stand up today
He'd be gunned down cold by the CIA.
— The The, "Armageddon Days Are Here Again"
And Jesus said unto them, "And whom do you say that I am?"
They replied, "You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the ontological foundation of the context of our very selfhood revealed."
And Jesus replied, "What?"
I was awakened by a shofar.
That's a trumpet made from a ram's horn, for those of you who don't speak Hebrew. I don't speak Hebrew, but there's a brand of Kosher hot dogs I happen to like called "Shofar", and I got curious one day and looked it up.
Okay, and I've been to a couple of events where I've heard a shofar blown. That's how I know what one sounds like.
What kind of events they were is not important, so don't ask. But I was wearing a yarmulke at the time, out of respect for both the participants and my own ancestry.
I was awakened by a shofar.
Even given what I'd gotten used to in my travels from timeline to timeline, this was unusual.
More unusual was that I was, as far as I could tell, in the middle of Manhattan. (Central Park, to be precise — I was sitting on my motorcycle, which was floating in what appeared to be the exact geometric centerpoint of the Sheep Meadow, and I could see familiar buildings on three sides of me. Four, when I looked back over my shoulder.) As I glanced around and tried to get my bearings, the shofar sounded again.
Shofarim are not generally heard in Manhattan. Certainly not that clearly and powerfully, and certainly not over a complete absence of noise from traffic and people.
There are, in most worlds, anywhere from five to nine million people in a late 20th-Century Manhattan on any given day. (If there's a Manhattan at all, that is. Or something similar, like a Nieuw Amsterdam, a Gotham or a Metropolis.) Even if they're not doing much of anything, the collective noise is still audible, if only on a subconscious level.
This Manhattan was silent. As a grave.
Except for the low whine from my motorcycle's turbine.
And that damn shofar.
And the baritone voice that had begun singing a capella.
I couldn't hear it clearly, although the tune was disturbingly familiar. I could, however, figure out roughly which way it was coming from.
Since my motorcycle was running anyway, I took off in that direction. Literally. I hit the grav drive, went straight up a hundred meters or so, spun around in place a bit to get a fix, and then followed the sound of that baritone.
I found him — standing on the top level of the angel fountain that resides in the middle of one of more popular areas of the park — and stared down from my lofty vantage point at him. Shoulder-length brown hair, and from this distance I could make out the hint of a beard and mustache. Blue tail-coat with brightly-colored bits affixed, including a rainbow and dove over his shoulder blades, visible even at this distance. Equally brightly-colored shirt. Shofar in one hand, the other grasping the green hand of the aged bronze angel statue as he sang out, proudly, powerfully: "Prepare ye the way of the Lord!"
Over and over again.
A wooden cart, as brightly colored as the highlights on his clothing and piled full of unidentifiable contents, sat patiently to one side of the fountain's base.
With a shock I realized that I knew who he was. More or less.
It was merely confirmed by the eight others who streamed out of the park and leapt into the fountain with him. As they began splashing themselves and each other to the music of an invisible rock quartet, I retreated almost completely across the length of the park and landed the cycle. I shut it down, unstrapped myself, and scrambled off of it to drop in a rough sprawl on the well-trimmed grass.
Then I gave into the urge to shake uncontrollably.
The time I'd spent on the Calypso with Ed and Minerva had taught me that the odds of running into a universe that was identical to a book, TV show or movie were far, far greater than those of not doing so. That some of the worlds I had visited before I ran into them were, in fact, fictional entities in universes other than my native here-and-now. It was something I had come to accept — it was a bit easier than it could have been because the whole Quincy thing in MegaTokyo. But this was something I had not expected. I doubted that Ed and Minerva would have expected it.
I had landed in a universe born from — or which had inspired, whichever way it works — a musical.
I was in Godspell.
And from what I could recall of the one time I'd seen the movie before my metatalents had manifested, I was one of only eleven human beings in all of New York City at this moment. (Including the boroughs and possibly Westchester and Long Island. I wasn't sure about New Jersey or Connecticut.)
Well, there was at least one good point. I hadn't been "called" as one of the disciples of a Christ who looked suspiciously like a street mime — or maybe Bozo the Clown. But I was here and free to interact with and act around them.
And just like once before, when I had blundered into The Rocky Horror Picture Show, I knew the plot — only this time, I was pretty sure it wouldn't be fun.
Because I had to decide, before sunset, if I would save this clown-Christ from his (symbolic?) death. If I should save this Jesus. Did I have the right to? How would I do it?
And what would happen if I did?
Drunkard's Walk, Steplet:
Turn Back O Man
by Robert M. Schroeck
This work of fiction is copyright © 2006, 2012, by Robert M. Schroeck.
Godspell (lyrics and music by Stephen Schwartz, book by John-Michael Tebelak), and the settings and the characters thereof, are copyright © 1971, and are used without permission. Some lyrics are public domain. Imagery from the film version of Godspell is copyright © 1973.