The Fire

He could feel the chill of the mountain air seeping into his bones. The plain expanded from the mountain's foot as smoothly as an inland sea, its distant shores invisible in the golden haze of the setting sun.
The temporary settlement that dotted the area seemed to belong to some nomads of this place. Hamza first heard the collective bleat and then saw the sheep returning amidst an air full of golden dust.
Through the fleecy turmoil, he saw a tall shepherd moving towards a large tent. The man was wearing a homespun cloak, and looked exceptionally graceful, strong and stately. He watched, fascinated by each single movement of this man, who seemed to have a kingly bearing even in this desert setting. He was walking among sheep as if a king was moving among his subjects.
As the man reached a tent, a woman emerged with a pitcher of water and greeted him with a smile. The gentle woman who must have been his wife, was wearing a loose flowing robe with a head covering. Her face had a soft ethereal quality which he had never seen among the coarse nomadic tribes he had encountered in the Thar deserts of India. Who were they? He knew that a lot of gypsies still preferred a nomadic existence, but these nomads seemed very different.
The woman who was looking towards the mountain pointed out something to the tall man, who turned to look. Others also arrived on the scene. They too stopped to look at the mountain. A hush fell suddenly on the assembly. Even the sheep seemed to fall silent. Hamza whose back was towards the mountain, turned to look at the object of attention.
The hill soared for thousands of feet into the sky. There was nothing to halt the upward path of the eye, except here and there, an irrelevant tuft of vegetation curling from the rock-face on a single stalk or a straight damp smear of some spring's overflow, like a snail track. But near the top, a strange luminescent glow was visible, lighting up the cloud layer that must have been near to its source.
Was it some kind of forest fire at the top? Hamza turned to look at the nomads. These people seemed equally perturbed about the cause of the light. The man was saying something to his wife. He gestured towards the path in the mountain and then towards the setting sun, which suggested that he was going to identify the cause of the fire, and promising to return soon.
Hamza felt a strong urge building up inside him. He wanted to talk to that man. But what was he supposed to do? Wait for his return or go after him? Hamza decided to go after him. He too wanted to see the source of the fire.
The shadows were lengthening. The sunlight was now mellow and golden. A deep gorge opened before Hamza, which narrowed and rose along a chasm between the mountains. He saw the man climbing steadily, and scrambled behind as fast as he could. Hamza had barely reached the end of this gorge when the sun dipped below the serrated edge of the hilly range. The mountain ahead turned greyish blue - sad, cold and threatening…
…"The light you saw was the start of the ministry of Moses." Father Joseph was looking at the jungle of skyscrapers from the wide glass wall of Hamza's apartment. He was a friend of Richard and a Bible scholar. His work was recently published, under the title, 'How the Pentateuchal traditions were transmitted'. Richard had already told him about his dreams and he had come straight from the church to Hamza's apartment. Throughout the narration, he had maintained an absolute silence without any interruptions or questions. It was only when Hamza finished his monologue that Father Joseph began speaking dreamily. "How strange it feels when one considers the fact that you personally saw an event that had actually occurred more than three thousand years ago...All the while that you were fighting wild dogs and hyenas in the mountain, and Moses was climbing higher and higher for a tryst with destiny, who knows what sufferings were being encountered by Hebrew families in Egypt. The same moon must have been shining on the opulent palaces of the Pharaoh and on the slave labor camps, where the slaves were rebuilding the fortified cities of Pithom and Remesis. I wish you could have stayed behind and waited for the return of Moses." He looked literally crestfallen. "Just imagine, the source of light you missed seeing last night was God's light Himself, the most mysterious event in the history of humanity. It was the key incident in the whole drama. The gift of Moses' staff came from within that fire. The plagues, the turning of Nile into blood, the shadow of death, the exodus, and the parting of the sea all followed later. It was that light, the fire that was all important. I wish I could have been in your place, I would have definitely waited for Moses to return instead of taking this stupid risk and losing the chance for ever. Oh my God!" He covered his face with both hands..

The Preacher
The Creator Factor