Iscariot: Chapter 15 – In which Mary, Martha, and Kelsey meet a Behemoth and the story passes the Bechdel test.

This entry is part 15 of 20 in the series Iscariot

First things first, the author is not sure how Google works but wants to try something. Illuminati, Magic, Sex, Application tips for Vassar, etc.
Secondly, much of what we envision about the ethereal plane is not actually in the bible. Take for example our vision of hell. Almost all of it is apocryphal and a huge amount of it is based on dark age stories, renaissance paintings, and the work of Italian writers during the height of the black plague. They looked at what had come before them and were forced to compare it to the fresh hells they were currently enduring. People dying in the streets from an unseen and misunderstood disease while the remnants of superior civilizations long since passed, crumbled around them. The very infrastructure which had made the Greek and Roman civilizations the greatest forces the world had ever seen fell to the ground as the descendants of those who built these great works lost the ability to recreate or even maintain that which had come before. People were terrified that humans as a race weren’t going to survive because sometimes, the monsters, the bad guys, the small of mind and heart, the people who live in fear of their own shadows, win the day and refuse to admit that the world is burning around them.
The drive which pervades an entire species can turn towards the bleak, the colorless, and the austere. I too have felt this. Dante was approaching middle age when he wrote the Divine Comedy, an age where I find myself all of the sudden. In my years, I’ve sometimes believed that I’d never truly done or made or written anything that anyone had ever truly loved. I have felt as if I would be trapped forever in a valley, staring at peaks above me which seem illuminated and glorious, but remained forever out of my reach.
In times like this there is a desire to seek blame. We lash out at our own brothers and sisters to try and determine where it all went wrong. We scream that if only we had put another person in charge, we could have won the day. I have found, however, that for all intents and purposes, doing that is a huge waste of time.
As stated, I have at several points in my life felt as if I was in the bottom of the valley walking alongside Dante. Creatures blocking my path to salvation or even the faint glimmer of hope that there’s a salvation to find. And yet every time I’ve been there, I endured. I would force myself to smile and then fight like the seven hells to get to the warm embrace of the peaks above, often at the cost of my own sanity and physical well being. Because the very worst thing I can imagine is settling down into despair and fear. That’s what boring people do. And despite my faults, I refuse to be that.
So take heed, my brothers and sisters and never stop fighting for your world.


Chapter 15

In which Mary, Martha, and Kelsey meet a Behemoth and the story passes the Bechdel test.

Through a haze of sleep, Kelsey heard her name being called. It was faint to start and she thought that it was a remnant of a dream, faintly creeping into the real world. The voice stopped and after a while she opened her eyes. Her room was lit only by a single lamp which she had accidentally left burning. Standing up to go extinguish the flame and save some oil, she paused at the open window and peered into the darkness, pondering the new feelings which pulsated through her body.

Miracles, are all well and good but the consequences are sometimes left out of the stories. Kelsey for example, had been barren but was now fertile. In her former state she never had to worry about pain during menstruation. She had a monthly cycle of a sort, but it never once gave her the cramps and nausea that other women had told her was part and parcel of the deal. She endured through her first knowing that one does not receive such a gift without some form of payment and wondered if, in a way, she was receiving the pain of all that she had missed in one go. Her hope was that this first one would be the worst and they’d be easier in the future. It would, however, be another month before she found that out, so happy to be able to stand upright, she continued gazing out at the night sky and the full moon.

“Kelsey!” a voice cried as a face appeared at her window.


“Kelsey, it’s me, Martha.”

Kelsey had fallen backwards into a heap but focused on her future mother in law. “What the hell? You scared me half to death!”

“Sorry about that. I’d been calling you for ten minutes. This can’t wait until morning. Get dressed and get whatever weapons you have at the ready.”

“Weapons? I don’t have any weapons.”

Martha pulled a dagger from her cloak and tossed it towards Kelsey’s feet where it stuck into the floor. “Get dressed properly, grab a cloak, take the knife by your feet and meet me outside in five minutes. We’ve got a monster to kill and if you’re going to be part of this family, you’ve got to learn how to do these things correctly.”

“Is this some sort of hazing thing?”

“Far from it, little one. I’ll meet you outside.”

Kelsey muttered to herself as she got dressed. A few minutes later, she stumbled outside to see both Martha and Mary chit chatting. “You’re here too?” she asked of Mary when she saw the pair who smiled back. “And you weren’t lying about this being a weird initiation thing?”

“Eh. Six of one, half dozen of the other,” Martha replied. “I’ll explain while we ride.”

Martha pointed towards an enormous chariot which was hitched to an even larger white thing which looked like a horse mixed with a bull crossbred with a bunch of other things primarily made of muscles. Upon the animals brow appeared to be a large golden horn.

“The fuck is this?” she asked.

“It’s a unicorn (As seen in Job 39:9 (King James Version (Because of course there are unicorns in the King James Version)))

“I’ve never heard of such a thing.”

“I’m sure you haven’t. For the moment, all you need to know is that there is a lot that goes on around here that most people don’t know. However, you’re marrying into a family of assassins with extremely deep ties to the ethereal and supernatural world. Every now and then there’s something that needs being dealt with. Leviathans, dragons, unicorns. These beasts are not to be trifled with and they occasionally find ways to slip onto the corporeal plane. Our family has fought these dangers since time immemorial with knowledge passed down through the generations from mother to daughter. Our family. Your new family is one of the few things keeping Hell from coming to Earth.”

“And I’m here too!” Mary added cheerfully.

“Genevieve thinks a behemoth came through the hole that was created when the boys started their little road trip,” Martha continued.

“What’s a behemoth? And who’s Genevieve? ” Kelsey asked while stepping onto the chariot. As soon as all three were aboard, the unicorn took off like a shot and the trio were whipping through the village faster than she ever thought a human or animal could move. (Which was really only about forty miles per hour but everything is relative.) “And why are both of you in such high spirits? This week has been horrible. I still don’t understand what happened. I don’t understand how we lost. The bad guys won and you’re riding around on chariots and hunting monsters? Why aren’t you more upset about everything?”

Mary touched the girl’s shoulder. “Kelsey, we don’t have the luxury to sit around and sulk. I wish we did, child. I really wish the good guys would always win but they don’t. Usually that means we must spend our lives protecting a bunch of scared and bigoted jerks from hurting themselves too badly, while occasionally protecting them from spiritual threats. Despair and fear are worthless in this fight. The Romans and corrupt leaders of the mob? They only actually win if we stop fighting. Progress is not a straight line upwards because no matter how much you do, people will kick and scream and refuse to be brought into the light. It’s our burden to bring them there despite their contrary efforts. Sucks, but there it is.”

“As to Genevieve,” Mary interjected. “She’s a friend of ours who claims to be the goddess of ‘Doting Aunts’. She’s actually in the Mikra, although whoever wrote the book of Zechariah mistook her for an angel.” (Zechariah 5:9)

“Oh,” Kelsey replied and looked out at the landscape they were zooming past. They had left the town proper and were now making their way to a dark corner of the valley which had been the site of all of the craziness of the past weeks. To the east, above the mountains, the first hints of dawn began to make its presence known. Stars seemed to be fading slightly, leaving only an obsidian sky. As she thought about disappearing stars, the unicorn continued on it’s path.

“Time enough to worry about all of that later, though. You’re here now. Neither you, nor anyone else, can change what happened and you need to learn how to stand and fight when it looks like the monsters are in a position to triumph.”

“But I don’t know how! I don’t know how to fight.”

“I beg to differ. Forget what you’ve been taught about your place and think about what you actually do and know. You’ve essentially been running your parent’s farms, yeah? By my count, you have four hundred head of cattle, six hundred goats, and too many chickens to count. Have you ever had to slaughter a live animal?”

“Well yes, but.”

“Have you had to kill any predator animals who have been picking off the sheep?”

“Goats. And again, yes, but,”

“The principal is the same,” Martha said, handing a long thin sword to Kelsey. “Just aim for the throat and believe in the fact that you are stronger than they are.”

Kelsey pondered this as they rode on. After a little while, the unicorn trotted to a halt and stamped its hoof a few times.

“We’re here,” Mary stated and the trio stepped off of the chariot.

The trees rustled and creaked and a very low pitched rumble began emanating from the woods which surrounded them.

“Where is it? It sounds like it’s coming from everywhere,” Kelsey asked.

“Sounds that way,” Mary replied. “And yet…” She trailed off and cocked her head. “Do you see it, Martha?”

“Yeah,” Martha replied while reaching onto the chariot and producing what appeared to be a small, lit, lantern.

“Hello, love,” she said and threw the lantern into the woods. Kelsey watched the small point of light as it arched towards the darkness. When it hit its mark, it did so with a large explosion of flame and noise. Rising from the fire, the behemoth screamed. It was massive. It looked as if some foolish god had strapped together stone, wood, and iron into the shape of bull, three times greater than the biggest she’d ever seen, and gave it life. It’s head took up a quarter of its mass and as it screamed, Kelsey could see the glint of two huge fangs protruding from it’s mouth as big as her forearms. It shook the flames from its body and stamped its feet on the ground, which also shook. Suddenly the behemoth focused on them and still smoking and clearly upset, bellowed before charging towards the trio.

“Well that’s new and different,” Kelsey thought as she gripped her sword. Mary and Martha took a defensive stance with their own weapons and for the moment, Kelsey forgot about how much they had lost recently. She forgot to be afraid and joined her future in-laws. When the beast made its final jump towards them, she was surprised to find herself smiling.

Series Navigation<< Iscariot: Chapter 14 – In which we meet the rice goddess Inari and a fox named Mrs. Noodles.Iscariot: Chapter 16 – In which Judas and Jesus travel through India and learn about road building. >>

About Philippe L.

When not out exploring the stars with his good friend Hotblack Desiato, he makes his living here on Earth keeping other people's money safe from the hands of thieves and spinning the occasional yarn. He enjoys beer and coffee very much, but unfortunately he can't eat shellfish or tomatoes.

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