The Brotherhood #19
By Mark W. Meier
Prophet of Death
Josh pulled into Corinthian’s parking lot and located a space.
Sarah continued. “At that point Jupiter would be right above the horizon, too. From Jerusalem, it would look like it was hovering just over Bethlehem, which was only a few miles away.”
You opened the door and stepped into the remaining bits of snow. The church had plowed in advance of services. But even rushing you couldn’t make it to Amy’s door soon enough to assist her.
On the way to the church’s door the three of them chatted about the meaning of passages about Moses and Pharaoh, all of them getting it wrong. No surprise there. American culture focused mostly on how a person felt, and songs were written about hardening one’s heart against emotions. Is it any wonder they don’t think that when Pharaoh hardened his heart it really meant he grew in his resolve? Egyptians discarded the brain during mummification, viewing it mainly as a mucous generator.
Josh pulled open the door to the church and gestured for the rest of you to enter.
The only reason I could get inside the building was because I was “riding” you. The eerie feeling of being so close to . . . them . . . leaked from me into your awareness even as I drew resolve from your free will to stay where my enemy held such sway.
Fortunately I wasn’t alone. A dozen or so Brothers like me exchanged acknowledgment, all of us too hemmed in by . . . His . . . influence to do more than greet each other.
After chatting aimlessly for endless minutes, the four of you sat in a pew halfway back on the right. Padded seats. Too bad. The pain in your backside was still distracting, though.
The service was interminable for both your bruised tailbone and me. The singing, even by human standards, was horrible. Bether, the singer I’d strangled not long ago, had attended here as a child, but left in disgust when the choir director ask her to rein in her ability. She never went to another church again. I smiled, but not for long.
A half-hour into the performance the music stopped, the congregation sat, and a preacher positioned himself behind the pulpit and began his lecture on the season of Advent. I didn’t listen too closely, just tried my best to keep you thinking of other things.
When the message turned toward the astrologers from the east, I couldn’t stop you from listening. The pulpiteer mentioned much of the same information Josh, Sarah, and Amy had told you, and added a couple of other reasonable options for the “star” the astrologers had followed. He finished by saying the exact date and astrological signs prompting the journey didn’t matter. That’s when you relaxed and I was able to make your mind wander away from such things. I was better off if you didn’t ponder those kinds of thoughts.
After the eternal chanting and bobbing and jumping, things came to a close. Parishioners stood around blabbing with each other, and it seemed Josh and Sarah would waste the rest of the day. Eventually all my Brothers left with their assigned clients, leaving me surrounded.
You perked up again when conversation turned to King Herod. Someday I might have a victory like when he slaughtered all those kids, but not the way things were going. That Brother of mine still bragged about his time with Herod. I hated him, despite the achievement which had advanced the Brotherhood’s agenda.
“Sure, the Wise Men went to Jerusalem,” said a man with glasses two sizes too large. “The planet, star, and constellation all point to a powerful king being born in Judea. Jerusalem was the local capitol, so of course they’d go there.”
Another in the small crowd asked, “Why ask Herod? All he thought about was which construction project to do next.”
Josh knew the answer to that. “The Wise Men didn’t know anything about Herod. Being in charge of the nation, Herod had the knowledge, or at least access to someone who did.”
The man with big glasses spoke up again. “And his experts knew from Micah about the Savior being born in Bethlehem. Herod only told the Wise Men so they’d find out what was going on. ‘Hey, when you figure it out, come back and tell me.’ Only so he could kill the baby king who would displace him.”
“A lot of good it did Herod,” someone quipped. That brought a few chuckles.
Even I found humor in that situation. As adroitly as the Brother had corrupted Herod, the man had failed to terminate the life of the one person who counted. So much for Kulak’s big win.
“And when those Wise Men stepped outside, there’s Jupiter right above Bethlehem. Perfect confirmation about what they heard from Herod’s experts,” said one woman.
I stopped laughing to myself because I could see you were being swayed by these people.
And I couldn’t stand for that.
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