• Mark Meier

Mastema

A Brotherhood Story

By Mark Meier

Part 4

Across the agora the Brother who had inhabited the man earlier scowled at us.

Chamos gave a slight nod in that Brother’s direction. “Maybe Baraqijal. He’s been a disappointment to many in the Brotherhood.”

“What would happen to him if he’s demoted?”

“He’d never remember being a full Brother.” Chamos gave Baraqijal a reassuring smile.

The lesser full Brother looked relieved.

I vowed to remember Chamos could lie, even to Brothers, and wondered what he wasn’t willin’ to have me know.

“Your client is leaving.” Chamos pointed toward where Philip was leading Simon out of the agora. “Better stay with him or you’ll never get him back.”

Weeks passed, and I noticed Baraqijal lingerin’ at the edge of my sight more often. Chamos, of course, watched both of us.

Simon never left Philip’s side. Wherever the two of ‘em were, the non-Brothers were with ‘em. Many times when Philip spoke I couldn’t hear the words, and the man’s guards seemed to know that. They smirked whenever it happened.

My “client,” accordin’ to Chamos, soaked up whatever Philip spoke. I did my best to block Simon’s understandin’. I’d grown to hate both him and Philip. The non-Brothers, too.

Hate was new to me. For the decades I’d been a senior imp I’d focused on havin’ fun, but now all I wanted was to destroy those two humans and spoil what those non-Brothers had planned.

Then two other men joined Philip. They were called Peter and John, and each had two non-Brothers with ‘em.

“They’re trouble.” Chamos hissed his displeasure. “You won’t be able to withstand all of them.”

Again I knew he weren’t talkin’about the humans, but all six non-Brothers. The three humans, I’d heard, referred to themselves as “apostles,” whatever that meant. To be honest, whenever the word was said I heard it through a background of buzzin’, like a thousand bees swarmed around my head.

As if I had a head. I’d been relating to humans for so long it was hard not to think of myself as shaped like ‘em. The reality was far different.

Simon followed the three humans wherever they went. Together the four were nearly inseparable. Until the day when Peter touched one of the human trash followin’ ‘em.

A surge of power pushed me away from my human. The searin’ agony of that power was unbelievable. When I recovered, that follower of Peter glowed like the non-Brothers already there.

One of ‘em turned toward me. “A mere taste, imp.”

I didn’t know what he meant. If Chamos were near I’d ask about it, but I couldn’t find him.

Maybe I could keep Simon from gettin’ touched that way. I prompted a thought.

With wide eyes, Simon said, “Peter! That’s awesome! Can you teach me to do that?”

Peter and John exchanged a mysterious glance. I could tell Simon hadn’t made himself one of ‘em yet. I pushed another thought into Simon’s mind.

Simon opened his mouth to speak, but the non-Brothers reached out to stifle the man’s words. They failed. “I’ll pay anything – anything at all.”

The non-Brothers frowned.

Peter said, “This is not a power to be taught or bought. Your money will die with you. If you turn away from this kind of thought you may yet live, but right now all I see is doom and destruction hovering around you.” The man looked directly at me.

Simon must have realized his error. “Pray for me.”

Again the bees buzzed. What was that word “pray?”

The two newcomers left the next day, and Chamos returned to me.

“You’ve done exceptionally well, imp.”

“I don’t see how.” I was depressed. Simon still followed Philip. I hadn’t pulled him away.

“You have not failed.” Chamos smiled, but it was the feral smile of a predator. “You’ve succeeded. Now Simon is in a position to corrupt and deflect our enemy’s plan.”

Enemy? Was that the non-Brothers? Who were they? I had so many questions, but didn’t know how to ask.

“What’s goin’ on here, Chamos?”

“An imp can’t know. A full Brother can. I give that to you now, along with the name of Mastema.”

The world around me suddenly grew sharper than ever. Understanding blossomed, and I knew so much more than before. The change was akin to the difference between junior imp and senior. With that came awareness of the Brotherhood’s eventual fate. No wonder full Brothers were so serious.

The hatred I’d felt toward Philip, Peter, and John exploded.

Chamos waved toward an imp, formerly known as Baraqijal. “You. Follow Simon, and see to it he never progresses in faith.”

The imp nodded, then vanished with a POP!

Then Chamos pointed toward me. “Now you know what’s been happening. I have a project for you in Ephesus.”


If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Any shares to social media would also be appreciated. The Wizards of Ephesus is coming.



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