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Paul Shapera

When the machine was revealed which could predict the day of an individual's death, it was greeted with a mixture of disbelief and uproar. It proved to be accurate however, and so a strange and burgeoning business arose. In many major cities particular shops offered access to the machine, and bars and coffeehouses were constantly filled with animated discussions of whether one should or shouldn't use it, or even had the courage to at all. There were those who not only used it, but would check repeatedly, attempting to see if actions they took in between could change the date the machine would spit out.

Eventually word of this new technology traveled to the most remote ends of the planet. At a isolated outpost deep in the Himalayas, two Catholic priests stationed on special assignment registered human movement from atop one of the mountains. They were there on 6 year shifts, as had been all their predecessors going back several centuries, for one purpose only: to monitor if the Wandering Jew, currently living in isolation in the mountains, made any movement. As it turned out, he was indeed descending the range for the first time in the hundreds of years since, tired and disgusted with humanity and its never ending propensity towards violence, he had retired to the Tibetan mountain of Kailash to meditate in peace and have no more to do with man.

The Wandering Jew was of course immortal, and as the Church understood it, had been damned to never die until the day of a Messianic coming.

The priests radioed the Vatican directly and an emergency synod of Bishops met to discuss what the Wandering Jew's movement meant. His path was tracked over several weeks until it was finally hypothesized that he was heading to the nearest city where one of the death telling machines was located. Presumably, he wished to know when he would finally die.

Since the Catholic Church was quite certain the messianic coming in question was bound to be Christ's return, the Wandering Jew's death would occur on this day. This presented a dilemma. The date the machine spit out could very easily become known to more people than just the Jew himself. Despite 2,000 years of speculation about the Second Coming, there was a significant movement who felt strongly that, due to Biblical demand, Man should absolutely not know the Day of Judgment. They were equaled in passion by the number of clergy who felt the Church had the right to know and prepare accordingly. The argument quickly grew too big to contain and eventually word leaked out.

By the time the Evangelical and Charismatic movements became involved, sides of the argument were being taken with a religious fervor not seen since the Reformation, and it was only inevitable that militant groups would form. A large mass of militant zealots opposed to knowing the Day of the Second Coming assembled in the city the Wandering Jew was heading towards in order to stop him. Predictably, another equally large force assembled in the same city in order to grant him safe passage. Orthodox Jews who were certain the one time appearance of the Hebrew Messiah was on the line joined the fray, as of course did several Muslim factions convinced it was the Twelth Imam's coming which would end the Jew's wandering. As the Wandering Jew neared, tensions rose and eventually all out war broke out. The city was a bloodbath, and by the time the Wandering Jew arrived, he was greeted by a city of death, covered in a mass of bloody, rotting corpses.

He had retired into the Himalayan mountains in order to be no more a part of the cycle of human violence, and now, by the simple act of making a single journey, had sparked the greatest religious slaughter seen in half a millennium. It could be mentioned that the Wandering Jew wasn't actually Jewish, but he had long since tired of correcting people and had given up. As to why he was immortal and just whose coming he was waiting for, out of respect for the slaughter just witnessed, we shall save that story for another time.

He sat down and picked up a discarded music player, examined it and finally lay back to listen to it. It played him an album by Paul Shapera