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A Long Day for Morgenstern

A Long Day for Morgenstern

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"Don't even try it, old coot!" The woman in the convertible Cadillac stepped on the gas, thwarting Morgenstern's latest attempt to merge into traffic.

"That wasn't very nice," muttered Morgenstern. He had been trying to proceed for ten minutes, but no one wanted to let an 80 year old man in an old Dodge Dart in front of them. Eventually a red light stopped the parade of vehicles long enough for him to edge onto S. Vicente Boulevard. "Everyone is in such a hurry" he said as honking and cursing drivers passed him like he was standing still.

Morgenstern wasn't having a very good morning. It was only 10 am, but already he had been yelled at by a movie producer who didn't like how long Morgenstern was taking to order his non-fat latte and nearly run down by a fast-walking new mom with a jogger stroller.

Now he was carefully pulling into the library parking lot. A space loomed in front of him. In the moment it took to put on his turn signal, a car zoomed into the spot from the other direction. The young man got out of his BMW and rushed towards the door without a look back at the white-haired gent he had just cut off.

Inside, Morgenstern mustered up his courage to confront the man. "That was my parking space," said Morgenstern. "Bite me," said the man. Before Morgenstern could answer, he was gone. Morgenstern shook his head.

Of course, Morgenstern wasn't really 80 years old. He wasn't even a man. He was an Aklusian. And not just any Aklusian. A high-ranking Aklusian Planet Evaluator, sent to Earth to determine if it was a threat to the Aklusian colony on Mars. So far all signs pointed to "Yes".

Aklus was a small planet on the other side of the Milky Way. Over the centuries, the Aklusians had found it necessary to colonize uninhabited celestial bodies across the galaxy. One of the most spectacular colonies was Le Chateau Du Glaxtinshpiel on Mars. The gardens alone would leave you breathless. Obviously you could never see these gardens because the colony is invisible to the human eye.

Not even an invisible colony can stay hidden for long. Would-be attackers with the proper instruments could expose Le Chateau in all its glory. The Aklusians knew it was only a matter of time before Earth sent another rover to Mars and discovered one of their Olympic-sized swimming pools or prize winning rose bushes. If Earthlings were generally a warring people, they would soon be pointing their missiles towards the sky.

The best defense is a good offense, so the Aklusian High Council called upon Morgenstern. If he found that Earthlings act primarily out of aggression, he would simply sneeze without covering his nose.

The virus in his sneeze was so lethally concentrated that the entire world population would be dead in hours. The gardens of Le Chateau Du Glaxtinshpiel would be safe for future generations to enjoy.

Morgenstern shuffled up the stairs to the library's second floor. He was the best at what he did. He knew all the warning signs of an angry planet. Yet he was never one to rush to judgement. The annihilation of a global population was nothing to sneeze at. He would wait until the end of the day to make his decision.

He sat down at a computer and punched the word "peace" into a search engine. The search results revealed 1587 sites for peace. He then typed the word "war" and hit the return key. 4221 sites were found. Not a good sign. A loud voice behind him made him jump. "Hey Mister, you gonna be there all day?" He turned to face a teenage boy with pierced eyebrows. "Yeah you, old guy." Observing the actions of a child was one of Morgenstern's favorite ways to predict a planet's future. He suddenly felt his nose getting itchy.

Morgenstern drummed his fingers on the steering wheel as he drove towards the ocean. The sky was alight with streaks of orange and yellow. "Sure is nice here," he sighed. In his mind he saw a sprawling invisible Aklusian resort and tennis club atop the S. Monica mountains.

Dusk was approaching. Morgenstern drove slowly, carefully surveying the suburban neighborhood. Night was when a creature's true colors were revealed. If they were a predatory species, these humans would use the cover of darkness for their darkest deeds.

Suddenly a flickering light caught his eye. Morgenstern turned his head. Someone had placed two lit candles in their front window. A few doors down, another pair of candles glowed from a mantle next to an open door. He pulled over to the curb. This hadn't been in the scouting report.

He walked gingerly towards the door, keeping an eye peeled for pit bulls, muggers and mothers pushing jogger strollers. He reached the porch safely and pressed the doorbell.

A young girl came to the entryway. "Can I help you?"

"I saw the candles in the window. Are they for decoration?"

"That's our Menorah. It's the first night of Chanukah."

"Chanukah?"

"The Festival of Lights. It celebrates the Maccabees' victory over the Greeks."

"Victory, eh?"

A voice came from inside the house. "Who's that, Sarah?"

"A nice man," said Sarah, smiling. It was the first smile Morgenstern had received all day.

Her mother came to the door. "Oh hello. Would you care to join us?"

Two hours, three helpings of brisket and a dozen latkes later, Morgenstern had heard the whole story of Judah and the Maccabees. But what interested him the most was the Menorah. "So you place it near the doorway to publicize the Chanukah miracle?"

Sarah's father answered him. "And also to let everyone who passes by see the light that comes from freedom, and from truth.

"What truth?"

"That good will always triumph. That light will always conquer darkness."

Morgenstern's voice grew quiet. "But there's so much darkness here."

Sarah's dad smiled. "Yes, there is a lot of darkness in the world, but without darkness there would be nothing to illuminate. I believe darkness exists only to be turned into light."

Morgenstern turned to little Sarah. "What do you think, Sarah?"

She replied, "Candles are pretty. They're little lights of love."

A sneeze rang out across the table. It was Sarah's mom.

"Bless you," said Morgenstern. He stood up to leave graciously thanking his hosts.

Just before midnight, a barefoot Morgenstern stood at the ocean's shore. The pellet of anti-matter in his hand would find a wormhole in the sea foam and expand it long enough for him to make the timeleap safely back to Aklus. He took one last look at the starry skies of planet Earth and dove into the cold water.

Ten milliseconds later, he was standing at attention before the Aklusion High Council. Their fearless leader, Gloria, addressed her favorite Planet Evaluator.

"So, what's the verdict on these Earth people? Warmongers or peacemakers?"

"They're more than peacemakers. They're lightmakers." Morgenstern removed his human skinsuit, saluted and left. He had a date to take his kids to the invisible zoo.

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Anonymous lahore, pakistan December 23, 2011

loving Thanks for a great comment. Reply

Andrea Itzkowitz Saint Louis, Mo via chabadofchesterfield.com December 22, 2011

Awesome It reminds me of why I am glad I am Jewish Reply

Julia Denver December 17, 2011

LOVE IT! The story of the world- light shall prevail with the coming of Moshiach! Reply

Mrs. Chana Benjaminson via mychabad.org December 14, 2011

re Stories Jennifer, absolutely! Please do send in your Jewish themed stories. You can submit them via the 'contact us' button above. Reply

Anonymous Pretoria, RSA December 14, 2011

Great story keep'em coming Yes it is true good always wins out in the end. Just wish Iran would take heed! Reply

Fruma Delray Beach, FL December 14, 2011

On doing Asimov proud ...except that Asimov himself was strongly opposed to almost all expression of Jewishness. At a seder in my home he suddenly interrupted the proceedings as the waters closed over the pursuing Egyptians. "Not the poor horses!" he cried out. "What did THEY do?" Reply

Jennifer Alderson Wichita, KS December 14, 2011

Story Are we allowed to send in our own stories that could be considered by the site? I write secular stories as well, but I also write religious and other Jewish stories that I have no particular place for at the moment.

If it matters, I am not Orthodox although I do keep Kosher and some of the laws around Shabbat (like attendence). Reply

Anonymous Salford, UK December 13, 2011

thank you lovely. brought tears to my eyes. thank you. Reply

Idan London, UK December 13, 2011

Sorry to criticise but, While chanukah is a celebration of the victory of good over evil, a victory still implies war, which of course is the reality of the basis of the festival.
Also, sodom and Gomorrah were not saved for the sake of the minority of good people in the cities, so why is Earth saved in this case?
I'm failing to see the moral of this story! Reply

Bob Rabinoff Fairfield, IA December 13, 2011

Wonderful story Would do Isaac Asimov proud.

Asimov had a yeshiva education, and I've always thought that the "First Speaker" in the Foundation trilogy comes from the Tanna Kamma of the Talmud! Reply

Dr Mitchell Cohen Lake George, NY December 13, 2011

Blessed are the peacemakers Aren't we lucky to have Jewish children ! Reply

Sarah Seattle, USA December 13, 2011

I love it!... ...Sci-fi on Chabad.org! :) Reply

Anonymous Macclesfield, Cheshire/England December 12, 2011

Brilliant Tale! Brilliant Tale! Reply

Anonymous December 12, 2011

very nice Really very nice story. I like it so much. Reply

Nora Dener December 11, 2011

Lovely story. The best part is that Morgenstern was invited in and welcomed even though he was not jewish and was not dressed the same as this family. Of course, today we teach our children not to talk to strangers, particularly if they don't look like us, and certainly not t befriend people of other nations, faiths or planets. Reply

Anonymous Melbourne, Australia December 11, 2011

Love the story Thank you for the story. I I enjoyed it immensely. Reply

Gene Aronin wheeling, Il via jewishkenosha.com December 9, 2010

Powerful Powerful, sums up Chanukah. Reply

Karen great neck, ny December 14, 2009

beautiful beautiful story - gave me goosebumps Reply

Dr. Amy Austin Rancho Mirage, CA/USA December 14, 2009

You old coot! Creative, enjoyable and illuminating. (: Reply

Charlie Saul Pittsburgh, Pa December 11, 2009

A Classic My family reads it every Chanukah. Reply

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