The back of an ‘ordinary’ freezer has an einstein-rosen bridge.
As more food is shoved in the freezer earlier food comes out the other end of the bridge, which is in a cave. This creates an ‘miracle larder’, kinda.
Primitive religion built on the ‘larder’.
Time dilation across the bridge means that though this end of the bridge has only existed for 20-odd years the other end has been there for 20-odd centuries.
New food goes in about twice or 3 times a week, which means it appears around every 9.23 months in the cave.
That’s enough to make it a major miracle especially if that just happens to mean that the food arrives at the beginning of winter or spring, etc.
When the food stops coming, major religious/political upheaval. That’s the start.
The small token, some bread, meat, small odd confections, has always been given (by drawn lots) to which ever family The Provider decide are the most deserving (according to the priests though often enough the priests rig it so whom *they* think are the most deserving gets the token food).
The chosen family get a seat on the council and is respected and deferred to throughout the year.
The first family in a cycle of four awards gets to lead the council and the others get advisory seats.
When the food stops coming there is no token to award, the people blame the priests and the priests blame the ‘impious’ people.
Also with no token there is no one to lead the council as a new cycle comes about and no new advisory families.
A new system of government is needed, the religion falls apart and new sects spring up (the return of the food cave, being one – the second helping, perhaps) and all threatens to fall into chaos unless respected leaders can set aside differences.
Also with the chaos the mainly agrarian community will suffer unless someone can organise the harvest in time for the following winter, etc.
Two men, previously opposed: Ervin Myers and Darrel Randle become de facto leaders in organising the harvest and later leaders of the new Council.
Darrel Randle. He’s one of the younger sons of a family of farmers. He can see better ways of farming and he’s not convinced of the wisdom of letting the priests of ‘The Provider’ choose the families to sit on the council especially as Fate’s seen to it that they discourage any novel ideas that originate from Darrel’s Dad’s farm or, indeed, anywhere else.
Darrel’s equivocal position on the subject of ‘The Provider’ puts him in direct conflict with Ervin as they climb their respective ladders.
Ervin because of his earlier doubts is even more fervent regarding his belief. When the provenda from the Cave ceases Ervin’s old doubts re-emerge sparking debates about making the locals worship more fervently or (as the other side would have it) give up on The Provider altogether. Darrel convinces Ervin to not bother with the debate until after the harvest.