Blot Out the Sun

"Hear me!" The man stood legs apart, arms cast wide, robed in multicolored fabrics in overlapping layers. "God has spoken to me!" A crowd gathered, listening. "In this, the year of our Lord eleven hundred thirty-three, He has spoken to me! God commands me to lead you to glory. As a sign, He will blot out the sun!" A youth in similar dress, if less extravagant, tugged on his arm. "Is that really the year, fath- er, master?"

"It better be, boy," he whispered back, "or this'll never work. Now let the astronomer work." He raised his voice. "God wishes me to lead you to prosperity, and will cast the land in darkness as a sign!"

Word spread and the crowd grew. The man continued his pitch until hundreds waited. Light dimmed and the air grew cold. "Observe God's promise, how he has chosen me to lead you!" A gust of wind shivered the crowd. They waited. And waited. The day grew warmer and brighter. The crowd drifted. Some threw rotten fruit or stones.

He sat, face in his hands. "We were too far north. We were so close."

The boy sat beside him. "Told you we should've left yesterday."