Draft78

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CHAPTER 78

After Paul von Hindenburg, President of the Weimar Republic of Germa- ny, died in 1934 his powers were rolled up with the existing powers of the Chancellor, Adolph Hitler, making him the absolute ruler of the country. And as Hitler had always had it out for the Jews, things be- gan to go badly for them in Europe. Jews were systematically stripped of their rights on the Continent. They lost their jobs and homes and were moved into work camps that eventually became great factories of human death. But nothing similar ever happened in Britain. There were even Jews in Parliament.

The Margolies family had been royal subjects for many generations. Benjamin Margolies was a meteorologist with a specialty in 'numerical methods of mesoscale forecasting'. He lived, unfortunately, just be- fore the proper tool for his work, the computer, had been invented. But Jews were very rare in the United Kingdom, which might have ex- plained why, during the Great Depression, Benjamin Margolies could only find work as a lighthouse keeper at St. Catherine's Lighthouse on the Isle of Wight, just a few miles off the southern coast of England.

Still, Benjamin faithfully served the crown in what capacity he could, even operating a directional transmitter hidden inside the lighthouse which guided bombers on nighttime raids in Germany. Ultimately he was compelled, without his fully-informed consent, to become part of the disinformation campaign leading up to the invasion of Normandy in 1944. Just prior to the invasion his wife and daughter were abducted by German commandos as surety he would sabotage the raids. His wife Edith never returned to him.

Judith Margolies was an eighteen-year-old survivor of the Holocaust. She did not sleep nights anymore, not even a full year after the War. Instead she stayed wide awake on the back porch of her beach cottage, watching the coast with her war surplus Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifle for Nazis who would never come. She suffered terribly from something 20th Century doctors called Shell Shock and 21st Century doctors would call Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

One instant Judith was scanning the beach below St. Catherine's light- house on the Isle of Wight. The next instant a giant appeared. The manner of the man's appearance was entirely out of the ordinary, Ju- dith thought. Then again, so was standing watch all night every night. Judith realized it was possible she wasn't entirely sane.

In the feeble light of the full moon in the west and the hint of dawn in the east the giant's face seemed too dark to be a Nazi, but he could have applied camoflauge to his skin just like the frogmen who whisked her mother and herself to France. Judith wasn't taking chances, not after what she had suffered, not after what she had seen her mother suffer. She fired a round into the air from fifty yards to get the giant's attention aadvanced closer. The strange man loomed higher than anyone she had ever seen, perhaps a full eight feet tall.

The man watched Judith draw near with the rifle. At ten yards hy said, "You have no need of that weapon with me. I will offer no threat to you."

"Who are you?" Judith demanded. "You don't sound remotely English."

"My name is Michael," she said. "And you are correct, I am not from your country at all. I am from somewhere very far away."

Judith's rifle dropped a bit from its sight-line on Michael's head. It was now aimed at hyz heart. She said, "So what are you doing here? And how did you get here?"

"I am here to speak to you," Michael said. "As for how I arrived, I could explain it to you, but you would think me entirely balmy, rather than just yourself."

Judith lowered the rifle to point at the ground between them, and there was the faintest glimmer of a smile. She said, "And what would you, having come from so far away, have to say to me?"

"I would ask whether you would hunt real enemies of Jews throughout the world, rather than ones you imagine might come here."

Judith unchambered the round and slung the rifle over her back. It was just before dawn, and in the light that was beginning to gather, Mi- chael could take a better look at Judith. The girl had just reached adulthood, but there was an aged look in her hollow eyes, as though she had already lived four lifetimes, and it haunted hym. Obviously a kind of Darwinian process in the camps had produced a girl who was able to outwit, bribe, or intimidate anyone to get what she needed to survive. Michael saw the results on Judith's face.

"Do you live here, at the lighthouse?"

Judith shook her head. "We used to live there, but my father was sacked, for reasons that were entirely unfair. After the war he was allowed to resume work at the weather outstation, but we must live here."

The work camps had emaciated her body, but when she returned home to the Isle of Wight and was fed by her father, the weight came back in the form of strong, wiry muscles. She was eighteen but looked twice that. "I should like to meet your father," Michael said.

Judith spat at the ground. "He has sold his life to the Goy and be- trayed the promise of God that our people should rule Eretz Yisrael."

"When you say your people," Michael said, "I know you are not speaking of the British, Judith Margolies. You are also a member of a people whose very right to exist is always being questioned."

Judith's eyes narrowed at Talishi. "How do you know my name?"

"I know many things about you, Judith. I know that your father ren- dered a service to the Crown that went far beyond the sacrifices that any other Britons were asked to make. I know he was used by the gov- ernment to help deceive Hitler as to exactly where the invasion was going to take place. They planted false information on him. I know you and your mother were taken to camps on the Continent by German special forces. I know they tattooed the number 271828 on your arm and I know that you have come through such suffering and human degradation and evil that few could ever begin to understand the mere periphery of it, let alone sympathize with the core of your ordeal and your memories of it."

Judith showed Michael the six numbers tattooed to her arm in Ordruf Nord to affirm her assessment was correct. She said, "The Crown owes a very large marker to my father, but he will not cash it in to obtain a small thing, a concession of such little import it could not possibly disconcert the government in the smallest way. The Foreign Secretary refuses to allow Jews to immigrate to the British Mandate in Pales- tine. Not even Jews who are already British subjects."

"Oil," said Michael.

Judith nodded. One word, but it explained everything. The Middle-East was awash in petroleum, but if the Arabs could not be assured that the Jews would never have an independent state there, they would attack the wells owned and operated by the British. So the Balfour Declara- tion and the Churchill White Paper of a generation ago were torn up for the worthless pieces of paper they always were, and all bets were off in the Holy Land. She said, "The admiral who deceived my father is dead. My father has resumed his profession and he is willing to let the whole matter go."

"What would you do if I said I could take you to Palestine this very day?"

"What would I do? Please give me a moment."

"She went into her cottage, and returned ten minutes later carrying a small tote bag with clothing and her personal effects. She also car- ried her rifle, but now she also had several boxes of .303 caliber cartridges carried on little straps. But she had not taken the time to wake her father and notify him that she was leaving, and Michael knew that as matters stood the girl could not be persuaded to speak to him.

Michael also noted, with some satisfaction, that Judith carried in one hand a quantity of unleavened bread. That was the essence of the feast of Passover, to reaffirm the willingness of the children of Israel to respond without delay to the command of their God to depart their place of captivity. Perhaps Judith had an intuition of who she was really dealing with.

The crack of dawn in England instantly changed to early morning in Is- rael, for they had moved east toward the rising sun. Judith saw the light had shifted, and the terrain as well. The cool beach was gone, replaced by warm desert. Astonished, Judith looked into Michael's eyes and asked, "Who are you, really?"

Hy said, "I will never lie to you, Judith, but at this point I think were I to tell you the entire truth you would hold me to be absolutely barmy, as I said earlier. For now, at the very least, I hope that you consider me a teacher and a friend."

Listening to Michael's words had an effect that Judith could never put into words. She was silent for many minutes as her body shook with dry weeping. But soon they were met in the desert by a number of Jewish farmers who lived a few miles inland from the Mediterranean, at a kib- butz founded by Polish immigrants in 1943 named Yad Mordechai. Lilith could see the kibbutz near at hand. The settlement lay on the coast highway only eight miles north of the city of Gaza and in later years it was only two and a half miles outside of the border of the Gaza Strip.

Judith spoke no Polish, nor at that point had she even learned Hebrew, which had been revived from extinction to become the official tongue of the colony. But all she had to do was brandish the tattoo on her forearm, and it was enough for the pioneers. They were already ac- quainted with Michael and on good terms with hym, but they refused to reveal anything about hym to Judith when she began to ask many ques- tions.

In the weeks and months that followed, Judith began to suspect she had been taken to her new home by an angel of God, perhaps it was even the real Michael, the holy guardian of the children of Israel. That first morning began to seem like a dream. But much fighting lay ahead, and it was much more like a nightmare.

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