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Manna the power,
manna the food,
manna the drink,
manna the entity and Manna the Entity,
manna the authority,
manna the respect,
manna in the far past,
Manna the person.


Who is Manna?

In a small room, darkened, filled with dirt and the smell of decay, there was a little boy.

This little boy was hungry. He had always been hungry, so his very need for food was usually overridden by his need to escape the monsters. However, this was the hunger of those who can't think of anything else but the burning heft in their stomach, draining their sanity and what little strength they had until only an animal was left where a person was, and then draining the animal until-

But no, this is not yet the time.

Manna saw the lights in the sky. Manna took them and brought them to the ground, where the Children would use them to lighten the perils in their way.

Manna saw the fruits up the trees, far, too far away from the Children. So Manna jumped into the air, climbed the trees naked and threw their fruit down when battling the shadow people that lived on them.

Manna saw the river that came down, down from the mountains, down, down, down. It came from the peak of the highest mountain, but only those who touched the peak could take the water and share it and live. And so Manna went to the summit, carrying only a bowl and the skins of a few beasts to shield themselves from the cold.

Manna was wise and good and brave before the wardens of Trust, Conviction and Memory, whom were bested and stood aside in shame. Manna reached the summit after four days and four nights of cruising the terrible mountains, and then, exhausted, they plunged their bowl into the ice-cold water that was the unending tears of the dead Gods.

And, knowing they needed to drink the water more than anyone in the world, for they were exhausted and hungry, they drank it.

What is Manna?

A woman was bringing forth a child. The woman had been forced into life, forced into marriage, forced into conception; she never asked for the first, never wanted the second and never forgave the last. But living to give birth to a new life was a choice she made on her own, in the way only a mother could.

Manna was born that day, and they would shape the barren Earth into a place new and plentiful were the Children would live and thrive.

As Manna grew, their mother grew old, and withered, and died sooner than all who knew her, for she had been generous and kind even to those who did her harm. Manna, generous even in their anger, took those who hurt them and talked to them for a day and two nights, and they all saw the wrongness in their ways.

The father of Manna took his own life. The grandparents of Manna pledged to follow them and lead the Children true to their mothers' spirit. The Children cried once every night, and laughed once every hour, to remember Her the Mother and keep Her memory alive, for she had brought them to the Children.

What is Manna?

And Manna reached the gates of Death after a life of grand tasks and grander achievements. They were hurt and old. Their Good was under perpetual siege by disillusion, their Wisdom was assaulted in every step by doubt, their Courage was plagued and weighted by memories, for in the end, they were only a person.

And they were wary.

But then, their children, their grandchildren and all their Children came to them and said: "Oh, You, Who have guided us your Children, please, tell us what can we do for You, our first and greatest Benefactor, in your last day on this world."

And they Manna, the person, the human, the Benefactor, saw they had done good for others. And Good was all Manna needed. So they told their children, their grandchildren and all their Children, and for the rest of their shortening lives, they told them of Generosity, of Empathy, and of Solidarity.

And then, they died and passed on and were interred, and on their bones fed the orchards that fed the Children.

What WAS Manna?

As the years went by, the Children grew and changed.

Many resented the Benefactor, for they saw Manna abandoned them in a dark, uncaring world that would never give them anything nor share its fruits, and they called Manna a traitor and a liar; and, to fill the hollow emptiness left in their beings, they learnt Hate.

Many resented the Benefactor and they saw Manna abandoned them in a grey, filthy world that would never understand them nor love them, and they called Manna a fool and a dupe; and, to ignore the hollow emptiness left in their beings, they learnt Mistrust.

Many resented the Benefactor and they saw Manna abandoned them in an empty, barren world that would remember them once they came to Death or Death came to them, and they turned their backs on Manna and forgot them; and, to get rid of the hollowed emptiness left in their beings, they learnt Cowardice.

But many would never resent their Benefactor, whose bowl they kept, containing that which came to be called the Manna. The Beginning of all Humanity, the Concept of Abundance, the End of all Suffering. And, even once the bowl was stolen and hidden away, they remembered.

But then, what is Manna?

It is the proper time to talk of the child.

The hungry, lost child.

"You okay there, little kid?"

The woman was a short, stocky person hidden under a mass of hair, turning and wriggling in ways the boy had never seen. She offered him a hand. "Come with us, kid!"

The child was desperate, and so he reached for her hand…

What indeed.

… the child was now a youngster who had learned to trust. The woman was now a friend, and a master, and he was just a trainee that wanted to help with an orchard that had emerged from the solid, darkened grounds of a wasteland.

He bit the fruit, thinking of its sweet taste, its weaving meat bleeding an acid juice that conquered his tongue and made him smile, eyes half closed. And, for a short second, he looked at the Work Group and realized he didn't just trust them; he would go to the ends of the Earth for them.

They were more than family. They were equals. They were kin.

He turned back to watch the poor, hungry refugees behind the fence, who were being given the food, and the seed, and the water and the land. They were kin, too, his people. They knew they could trust the Work Group, for they had earned their trust.

And so they should do everywhere else, the boy thought, for weren't they all Humanity? Were they not the good, generous brethren roaming the Earth and feasting upon her generously ceded fruit?

He looked at the fruit, half eaten, and laughed. "Hey, guys! Anyone wants half an orange?"

What could it be?

… the child was now a grown man and had learned conviction. He was strong, he was brave, he knew bravery had to come every day in an unending battle against hunger, disease and hatred.

He covered a closed wound in bandages; then he cleaned another one with quick expertise, stitched it up and covered it in bandages; then he cleaned another one, rapidly taking out dead flesh and dirt and splinters of wood and metal and rock, and closed it.

And then he raised his sight and saw the next wound had bled until the next one had bled through it.

The old man stared at the dead woman. For the first time in his life, he did not feel anger, frustration or sadness when loosing a life.

He felt pure desperation.

Manna is…

… the man was dead.

Opal glanced down to the naked body. Then looked up, a grin in her face.

"You know, I met him the very day he joined. Thirty years ago. I was just a newcomer. I was as innocent as they come, and so was he. I knew he was gonna have a goddamned hard time when we took him with us, but the thing is… he lived!"

Tears went down, rolling down her smiling face.

"He gave me his trust. He lent all his strength to our beneficiaries. He went on, forward, forward, forward. He never stopped," she laughed and sobbed almost at the same time, "-he never stopped loving life and loving us, his family, and he never, ever gave up on us, on anybody. And he never ever found that to be a sacrifice or a weight or a hurtful thing."

She raised her sight again, still crying, still smiling, and fiercely stared at them all.

"He was like us."

They all nodded in silent understanding. They were all different, they were all imperfect, and yet they were all alike. Opal nodded and silently took the bowl, filled to the edge with crystal-clear water.

"You know how this goes, people. Let's give him the life he wanted."

And so those of the Children who did not hate, who turned their backs on suspicion, who would not forget, covered the body on leaves and seeds and then threw fertile soil on both until a mound was erected and surrounded with vertical stones. Then, Opal dropped its contents on it.

Some of them cried; those were youngest. Some of them looked distant and pensive, one or two silent and lost in their memories of the departed. A few prayed whatever their minds had learnt to pray over their lives.

Most of them smiled. They had known him.

But Opal, who went on embracing and caressing and kissing cheeks and whispering comforting thoughts and giggling with her nose drenched in snot, knew. She knew the truth. Not the truth of a sect, or a law, or a vision. Nor the truth of a mad woman, or a fanatic, or a self-imposed belief. In a dozen different ways, with a dozen different beats, their hearts were all doing the same thing.

They were all silently remembering Manna, the Charitable.

"Come on, boys and girls!," Opal shouted. "It's time to leave Niger, we're needed in Somalia!"

Dead Is Manna,

Buried Deep Within The Earth,

From Which Bones And Flesh That Drank From The River Of The Dead Gods Sprout Back Into A Now Verdant World

But We Shall Never forget Manna And What Manna Did For Us

Because Manna Loved As We Love

Because Manna Dreamed As We Dream

Because We Are All Alike

Because Manna Helped Us,

And What Can We Do But Share That Same Help With All Of Their Children?

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