Exodus 4: New Sheriff In Town (Season 2, Episode 4)

What happens when Moe returns to Egypt to claim her rightful throne? An imposter shows up, a face mask comes off, and a presentation to the elders of Israel doesn’t go quite as expected.

This is the latest episode in a serialised narrative. If jumping into things mid-way doesn’t bother you, ignore this and keep reading. If you like to start from the beginning, check out the archive here.


WARNING

If you are a creationist, evangelist, fundamentalist, or biblical literalist, this will probably offend you.

If you have any sense of propriety, this will probably offend you.

If you have the capacity to be offended, this will probably do the trick.

If you're okay with that, then read on.

If you want to read on just so you can tell me how terrible I am and that I should never write another word ever again, feel free.

Who knows? It might actually work.


Moe wakes with a start when the joint falls from her mouth onto her chest and starts burning through her tunic.

“Ow!” she yells, brushing the thing away. “Fuck!”

She checks the freshly-singed hole between her breasts, then picks up the roach to examine it, wondering if the whole thing had been a dream.

As if reading her mind, a voice says, “It wasn’t a dream.”

Turning to see who had spoken, Moe finds a single goat standing in the doorway, backlit by the moon and stars.

“Did you just...?”

“It wasn’t a dream,” the goat says, in a rich, baritone voice, reminiscent of James Earl Jones.

Moe can’t believe it. “You can talk?”

“For now,” the goat says. “I’ve been given consciousness and the ability to speak for as long as it takes me to disabuse you of the understandable notion that your conversation with Yahweh never happened, and to assure you that your quest to free the Israelite people from bondage in Egypt is real.”

“Seriously?”

The goat bleats, apparently having reverted to normal, and trots off down the mountainside.

She glances at the roach a second time. Maybe she’s hallucinating. Maybe it really was a dream...

“I’m gonna stop you right there,” another voice says. This one’s whinier, higher-pitched. Think Christian Slater rather than Mufasa.

Moe traces the sound to a bat hanging from the cave ceiling just above her. She screams and hurries away, closer to the cave’s entrance.

“You’re not hallucinating,” the bat says matter-of-factly, wrapped in a cocoon of its own wings. “Yes, the goat was really talking, and yes, the mission is still on.”

“Jesus...” Moe brushes the frazzled hair from her eyes, taking a moment to get her breath. “Did Yahweh give you temporary consciousness too?”

“No. I was just born like this.”

“Oh.” Moe relaxes a little. “So you’re not gonna, like, squawk and fly out past me or anything?”

“Okay... A: bats don’t squawk. B: As much as I hate to play into the stereotype, now I kind of have to.”

The bat drops down and flaps past her on its way out of the cave, making a weird clicking noise.

Moe screams and dives for cover.

Once the bat’s gone, she picks herself up and brushes herself off. “Asshole...”

*

Moe wanders back into camp around sunrise, as everyone’s carrying out their morning chores.

“The hell have you been?” Braveheart says, as she pours water into a trough. “You get lost or something?”

A few laughs.

“Maybe we should let the goats look after Moe instead,” another sister says, ladelling soup into bowls for everyone.

“Leave her alone, guys – she’s probably been up all night talking with Yahweh.”

More laughs, like: yeah, that’ll be the day.

“As a matter of fact, I was up all night talking to Yahweh.”

“Oh, really?” says Braveheart, in a sarcastic, patronising tone. “And what were you two talking about?”

Ignoring her, Moe addresses the family at large. “He said it’s time for us to go back to Egypt. I’m going to reclaim my throne as pharaoh and free the Israelites from bondage.”

Silence for a few moments.

Then everyone bursts out laughing.

Moe fumes.

Zippy comes up and claps her on the shoulder, wiping the tears from her own eyes. “Oh, Moe, baby – that’s a good one.”

If Moe were a kettle, steam would be coming out her ears right now.

That’s how kettles work, right?

They have an ear?

Otherwise, how could they hear people complaining about how long the kettle takes to boil and then intentionally slow the boiling process down just to fuck with them?

Think about it – the handle is like an arm, the hand placed sassily on the hip, the ear tilted up like the thing is actively eavesdropping on nearby conversation.

I guess what I’m trying to say is... kettles are assholes.

Where were we?

Oh, yeah...

Moe’s become such a joke that even her own wife doesn’t believe her.

People start laughing, and Gerry beams with pride, his mood instantly elevated by the social validation – a rare thing for him. But Moe snaps, cutting them off. “Well, why don’t you come over here and say that to my face? Oh, that’s right – you can’t!”

At this, everyone stops, goes silent (again) – horrified by such an ableist slur. None more so than Gerry himself, who bursts into tears. Zippy shoots Moe a “What the eff?” kind of look, and rushes to his side.

Moe knows she crossed the line. She isn’t proud of it.

Well, she’s kind of proud of it.

It was a pretty sweet burn.

And it did shut everyone down.

So, all in all, she’ll count that as a victory.

Moe: one. Everyone else: zero.

Nice.

Instead of apologising like a decent human being, Moe storms off to the stable, where she finds Jethro brushing down a stallion – but in the slow, creepy way that only Jethro can.

“Cut the horseplay, Jeth,” Moe says. No fucking around. “We got shit to do.”

She proceeds to tell Jethro what happened, and what Yahweh wants her to do now.

Barely able to contain his excitement, Jethro goes out and tells his daughters to pack their bags – they’re going to Egypt, baby!

The daughters don’t argue...

A. Because they’ve been waiting for this moment their entire lives, and not a one of them is under eighty.

B. Because whether or not Yahweh actually did visit Moe, this may be the only chance they ever get to put their eight decades of training to use.

C. Because whatever their feelings about Moe might be, they’ve just been given the all-clear to go fuck those slave-having Egyptians up. Who gives a shit about taking out their pent-up frustration and bitterness on the black sheep of the family when they could just as easily take it out on those pyramid-building dickholes?

So that’s what they do.

Saddling up on the backs of their donkeys, these elderly warriors (and Moe) set out for the land of Egypt to do some hero shit. Upon arriving in Egypt, however, they’re met with some unexpected news...

A new pharaoh’s taken over.

“The fuck?!” Moe says, when confronted with this information on the front steps of the palace. “But I’m next in line!”

“You were,” the soldier says. “But then this other guy showed up. Says he’s the long-lost son of Queen Bitty.”

“And you believe him?”

The guard frowns, utterly perplexed. “Well... yeah. Who’d lie about something like that?”

Moe just stares at him.

Cut to her in the local tavern, drowning her sorrows.

“Well... I guess that’s it. Game over, man. Time to pack it in and head home.”

Zippy’s sitting next to her, nursing her own cup of wine. At this, she furrows her brow. “Head home?”

“Yeah. We got here too late. Some other guy’s on the throne.”

“We didn’t come here to put you on the throne,” Zippy says. “We came here to fuck shit up and free our people. Where do you think my sisters are right now?”

Moe thinks. “Fucking shit up?”

“Damn straight. And after I finish this drink, where do you think I’m gonna go?”

“To fuck shit up?”

“Damn straight.”

Zippy drains the rest of her cup and stands to leave.

“Hey!” Moe says. “What, you’re just gonna leave me here? The hell am I supposed to do?”

“I don’t know...” Zippy shrugs. “But I been training to free slaves and kill Egyptians since before you were born, honey. I hate to be brutally honest, but the only real benefit you were to the group was as the pharaoh. Now that that’s kind of over...” She looks around. “Ooh, I think there’s a game of trivia about to start over there. You wanna go join a table?”

Moe folds her arms. “No.”

“Are you sure?” Zippy says, like a parent trying to coax her grumpy child into playing with the other kids. “It looks like a lot of fun.”

Moe turns herself physically away from the trivia game. “I don’t wanna.”

Zippy sighs. “Fine. I’m gonna hit the head, then I’m outta here. Do whatever you want, babe.”

When Zippy’s gone, Moe lets out a sigh. She orders another drink and sits there, nursing it.

The trivia game commences in the corner.

The announcer goes, “What is the name of the legendary Sumerian king who slayed the Guardian of the Cedar Forest?”

Moe’s attention is drawn to the contestants whispering to each other.

“Gilgamesh,” she mutters to herself. “Idiots.”

Eventually, someone says ‘Gilgamesh’ and gets it right.

Goddamn it, Moe thinks, clenching her fist. She freaking loves trivia, but doesn’t want to give Zippy the satisfaction.

“Nice one,” someone says, sitting down across from her. “You should go join a table.”

Moe freezes when she realises it’s Yahweh.

“Yah-”

But Yah holds up a hand to cut her off. “Ssh. No names.”

Moe looks around to make sure no one heard, then lowers her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. “What are you doing here?”

“I heard the bad news,” she says. A drunken hiccup lets Moe know she might have had a few before coming down. “Tough break with that new pharaoh, huh?”

“Can’t you do anything about it?”

“At the risk of angering the Egyptians? What, are you out of your mind?”

Moe’s surprised by her sudden cowardice. “What happened to your whole ‘exodus’ idea? You just gonna table that because some guy says he’s the pharaoh?”

“Maybe he’s telling the truth.”

“So what if he is?”

Yah shrugs. “Look, I think it’s time we just call this whole thing off.”

Moe narrows her eyes, not understanding the change in attitude.

“Hey, by the way...” Yah says, slurring her words a little. “Where’s your wife and her sisters? I heard they were gonna go start some shit.”

Moe feels her suspicion building. “I don’t know...”

“You don’t know?”

“I haven’t seen them since I left the palace.”

“Oh.” Yah nods. “Well, you better find them and head on home, huh? Hit the road? Hit the old dusty trail? The old...”

Moe’s stare intensifies until Yah, in her drunkenness, realises she’s acting suspicious.

“I mean...” She panics. “Like, whenever you’re ready...”

But Moe continues to stare, red flags going up all over the place. This isn’t the same creator of the universe she saw getting a bikini wax.

“Well, uh... I better go.”

Yah gets up from the table and heads for the door.

“Wait!” Moe stands and goes after her.

Yah’s about halfway to the exit, when suddenly the bathroom door opens in her face and she slams right into it. Zippy exits, waving the air and helpfully telling those in line, “You might wanna give it a few minutes, fellas.”

“Fuck!” Yah staggers back, holding a potentially-broken nose.

“Jesus, are you alright?” Moe goes to help the injured god, but stops when she notices that her face is all fucked-up.

And not fucked-up like in the way that people with a broken nose have a fucked-up face.

Fucked-up in the way that people look in Mission: Impossible, when they’re putting on a human face mask, but haven’t quite got it in place yet.

Like that.

It’s a real uncanny valley-type situation.

...and it scares the absolute shit out of Moe.

“Ah!” she yells, jumping back.

Zippy quickly clues in to what’s happening, and like the badass ninja warrior she is, doesn’t hesitate to act.

Taking a handful of ‘Yahweh’s’ hair, she yanks back, ripping off the Mission: Impossible-style human face mask to reveal...

A lion!

Well, to be more-specific, it’s a lion’s head on a human body.

We know her as Sekhmet (or Seki), the Egyptian god of medicine. Hunter, warrior goddess, protector of the pharaohs.

But these guys know her as the half-lion, half-human freakshow wearing someone else’s hollowed-out face.

“Jesus Christ!” yells Zippy.

“What the shit?!” yells Moe.

The whole place goes silent, staring at the supernatural being.

The supernatural being stares back at them like a deer in the headlights.

“Uh...” The innkeeper steps forward, a little sheepish. “I’m sorry, but we don’t allow your kind in here.”

He points to the wall, where there is a sign saying, very specifically, ‘No human-animal hybrids allowed.’ There’s a silhouette of what appears to be a werewolf drawn beneath the words, with a big, red ‘no’ sign over the top.

“Maybe you’d like to try the petting zoo across the street,” he offers, pointing out the window.

Moe, Zippy and Seki all turn to see what appears to be another tavern with a sign that reads, ‘The Petting Zoo,’ hanging out front.

A cacophony of animal noises – from every possible species, genus, family, order, class and phylum (yes, even phylum) – is coming from within. A small subtitle on the sign reads: ‘Bestiality Encouraged’.

“Okay...” Seki says, peeling off the voice modulator pasted to her neck. Then, in a completely different voice, she adds, “I will. Thanks.”

With that, the lion-faced goddess walks out.

Moe and Zippy just stare at each other, stunned silent. In unison, their eyes drop to the Yahweh mask in her hand, having no freaking clue how to explain what just happened.

*

Up above, Yahweh’s coming to with a hangover the size of Cincinnati. Her face is decidedly intact, and she’s slumped in a deck chair by the Experiment, clutching a bottle of tequila.

An empty bottle.

Slowly, it’s coming back to her...

She was in a shitty mood after finding out a new pharaoh had already claimed the throne and was having a few beers to take the edge off – maybe help her come up with a creative solution. Strangely, no such solution emerged.

All those years of strategising, biding her time – wasted.

The plan had been derailed once already, when Moe killed that soldier and bailed. At the time, she was on track to be the next pharaoh, and when she took over, she could have freed the slaves and that would have been that.

Now, it’s been derailed again – not by Moe, but by the sheer amount of time it took her and her sisters to get from Midian to Egypt.

Yah curses herself. Why hadn’t she moved Moe closer to the capital so that, after her mum died, she could just pounce on the throne before anyone else got there?

Instead, they had to make a weeks-long journey through the desert on donkeys.

Donkeys!

What the fuck was she thinking?

Seki swung by after her shift and joined her in drowning her sorrows (although, of course, she couldn’t admit what sorrows she was drowning). Seki brought the tequila bottle with her, and Yah proceeded to drink most of it herself.

Bleary-eyed, she squints at the screen of the God’s Eye tablet, using her thumb and index finger to zoom in on the tavern where she last saw Moe drinking with Zippy. She’s about to zoom inside when she sees something that stops her cold...

A person exiting the tavern.

Not just any person, and not a person at all from the neck up.

It’s Seki.

For a moment, Yah just stares at her, too fuzzy to put it all together right away.

Then, it begins to sink in.

“That sly minx...”

She watches Seki look both ways, then cross the road and disappear into something called ‘The Petting Zoo’. She tilts her head like a confused dog, not sure what to make of it.

*

After what would henceforth be referred to as the Lion Face Human Mask Incident (or LFHMI, for short), Zippy leaves the tavern to – in her own, most-eloquent words – “fuck some shit up”.

While the ol’ ball and chain goes to join her sisters in waging a seven-woman guerilla war on the slavers of Egypt, Moe finishes her drink and wanders down to the river, taking the rest of the jug with her.

She doesn’t really have a destination in mind, and just kind of wanders aimlessly through the slave neighbourhoods, swigging liberally from the wine jug.

As the sun begins to set, Moe arrives at a riverside hut that looks familiar. She stares at it, trying to figure out where she knows it from.

Then it hits her...

Erin took her for a ride past this house once, when she was younger. They were, of course, accompanied by bodyguards and dressed in the finest linens, but Erin said that this was where they were born, where Erin herself grew up.

Moe hadn’t paid much attention at the time – she was too preoccupied with how freaking poor and enslaved everybody was.

In fact, as Erin turned around to gauge her little sister’s reaction, she saw Moe forcing the local slaves to form a human pyramid so she could climb on top, wedging her sharp royal shoes into their ribs, backs and mouths.

Erin had let out a disappointed sigh and taken them back to the palace.

She’d wanted to show Moe where they’d come from, to humble her a little bit. It was all part of her mission to inject a little understanding, a little empathy into the then-princess.

Forty years later, Moe can’t believe it.

Looking back on the memory, and on the house now, she finds herself filled with shame.

A deep, wrenching, gnawing shame.

Now, you might think that that shame is directed at her younger self. Quite the contrary...

“What a goddamn shithole,” Moe says. “I was actually born here?”

She’s still staring at the house when an old woman walks up from the river to hang her freshly-washed clothes.

“Can I help you?” she says, wary of the drunken stranger staring at her house.

“Erin...?” Moe says.

The old woman’s eyes widen with realisation. “Moe...?”

Erin drops the basket and walks over to her, speechless.

Moe can’t believe it. Gradually, the shock gives way to overwhelming happiness that Erin’s still alive, that they’ve finally been reunited after so many years apart.

If this were a movie, the goosebump-inducing score would begin to swell right about now...

Erin walks right up to Moe, and the younger woman opens her arms for a hug.

“It’s good to see...”

Instead, Erin slaps her across the face. “That’s for getting me thrown back into slavery, bitch.”

*

Inside, things have calmed down. The sisters are sitting across from one another – Erin with a cup of wine, Moe for some reason still drinking out of her jug.

“We had a good fucking thing going, Moe,” Erin says, still pissed. “Then you had to go and fuck it all up by killing that soldier.”

“It was an accident,” Moe says.

“I don’t give two shits what it was. It got me sent back here, with Merry.”

“Is he still...”

“He’s alive. Also, I should probably tell you...”

As if on cue, Merry comes waltzing through the door, hanging his cloak on a hook like a businessman in the 50s. “Honey, I’m...”

He stops when he sees the stranger in his house, not recognising her as his baby sister all grown up.

“Who’s this?”

But Moe’s still caught on her brother referring to her sister as ‘honey’. She looks between them, waiting for someone to explain just what the eff is going on.

Embarrassed, Erin drains the rest of her wine.

Two hours later...

All three of them are good and drunk. Moe and Merry have been reunited, the incest has been admitted to and accepted, and the siblings have moved on to more important things.

Erin’s like, “Moe’s just finished telling me about this mission from God...”

“Yahweh,” Moe corrects her.

Yahweh?” the siblings ask, in unison.

“Yeah, that’s her name.”

Her name?” the siblings ask, again in unison.

“Jesus... what, do you guys share a brain too?”

Defensive, Merry’s like, “In addition to what?”

“A marital bed and genetic material,” Moe fires back.

The brother-sister couple go quiet.

See, at this point, Yahweh’s only known by name and gender to the Midianites. She hasn’t been able to re-appear to the Israelites for fear of angering the Egyptian gods.

The Israelites still know her as the very-male god of Abe, Ike and Jake – the embodiment of toxic masculinity. The god who was last seen leaving the site of Joey’s Red Wedding-style massacre, while the wives and children of the dead went off to live in the Land of Goshen, and eventually become slaves.

It’s hard for them not to blame God for their current predicament, and while they haven’t quite turned their backs on him/her, the Israelites aren’t exactly falling over themselves to say their prayers or offer sacrifice either.

Yahweh knows this. She can feel their resentment building. She wants them to know that she hasn’t abandoned them, but she can’t. All she can do is send in Moe and hope for the best.

But now that there’s a new sheriff in town (or pharaoh, if you want to be pedantic – although I feel like the bridge between Ancient Egypt and the American Wild West has been more or less established. Remember the soldiers saying, “Howdy,” last episode?), that gamble is looking less and less like a smart one.

In truth, Yahweh’s only using the Midianites to help free the people of Israel. In her own, most-eloquent words, she “don’t give a fuck about some hillbilly tribe led by a blind, animal-fucking martial arts instructor.”

The only thing the Midianites were good for, in her opinion, was smuggling out Israelite babies and training them up to aid in the liberation.

“So, what are you going to do?” Erin says, eager to change the subject.

“I don’t know...” Moe runs a hand through her hair. “Zippy and the rest are out there, causing a ruckus...”

“Are they the ones who crucified those two Egyptian guards on the hill?”

Like it’s typical ‘them’, Moe goes, “Probably.” She drinks. “I just... I came back to be the pharaoh, y’know? Free the slaves. Now I’m sitting here in this hovel, getting drunk with my incestuous siblings.”

A pause.

“No offence,” she adds.

Erin and Merry glance at each other. Offence taken, bro.

Offence well and truly taken.

Moe goes on, “I mean... that guy just waltzed in, claiming to be the pharaoh, and they let him have the throne.”

Merry frowns. “Isn’t that what you were planning on doing?”

“Yeah, but I’m the pharaoh’s actual daughter.”

Adopted daughter,” Erin reminds her.

“Adopted Israelite daughter,” Merry adds.

“They didn’t know I was an Israelite. It’s because I’m a woman. That’s why they believe some random dude over me.”

“Well... that and you being a fugitive for four decades,” Merry says. “I’m surprised they didn’t arrest you on the spot.”

“Statute of limitations, brah,” Moe says, swigging from the jug.

“Pretty sure that doesn’t extend to crushing a guard with a statue.”

“Pretty sure you don’t extend to crushing a guard with a statue.”

Nice one, Moe. You got him good.

“And... let’s face it,” Erin says, eyeing her sister up and down. “You been herding goats in the desert, honey. The years ain’t been kind to you.” A pause. “No offence.”

Erin gives a forced smile to let Moe know she most certainly does mean offence.

To soften the blow a little, Merry goes, “I think what Erin means to say is not so much that you’re ugly, but that the new pharaoh is just really freakin’ handsome.”

“Ooh, yeah,” Erin says, fanning herself. “He’s a looker, alright. And charming. I mean, if it were up to just birth records and stuff, you’d probably be drinking some of that fancy palace wine right now. But this guy just oozes charisma. Ladies want him. Men want him...”

“Don’t you mean ‘men want to be him?’”

“No, I mean ‘men want him’. First pharaoh to have a fifty-fifty male-female split in his harem. Pretty progressive.” She reconsiders. “As far as harems go.”

“Goddamn it!” Moe says, slamming a fist down on the table. “You think I wandered drunkenly over here for a reality check? I know I’m an old woman, alright. I get that. I spent the first forty years of my life as a pampered palace brat, the second forty years herding goats like some goddamn rube. What am I gonna do with the next forty? If I even get another forty.” She lets out a sigh. “I’ve wasted a lot of my life, guys. I want to do some good with the time I got left. I’m not a warrior like Jethro’s daughters, but there’s gotta be something I can contribute. Some way I can help...”

Merry and Erin look at each other, knowing that despite Moe’s best efforts, she’s still making everything about her.

She’s not empathising with the slaves, she’s talking about how she can do some good so she doesn’t feel so shitty about herself.

She’s not thinking about how her freedom has come at the cost of her brother and sister’s, she’s thinking about maybe getting herself some of that sweet, sweet redemption before taking a dirt nap. Shoring up that legacy, baby.

Still, at least she’s trying.

Erin reaches out and puts a hand on hers. “We’re here to help you out any way we can.”

Moe smiles. “Thanks.”

Merry pours himself a refill. “What else did God – I mean, Yahweh – say?”

Moe thinks.

Flashback to Yah’s backyard...

Moe and Yah (now dressed) are standing facing each other, like Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi.

“If you need to convince anyone that you’re legit, here’s a couple handy tricks you can whip out to dazzle the masses. First, the staff...” Yah points to the long stick in Moe’s hand.

“Uh... this is a crook, buddy.”

Yah rolls her eyes. “Whatever you want to call it. Drop it on the ground.”

Moe does.

Instantly, the thing turns into a snake.

“Fuck!” Moe says, stepping back.

“Easy,” Yah says. “Now, pick it up by the tail.”

You pick it up by the tail.”

“Will you just...”

Moe sighs, slowly crouching down and grabbing the snake by the tail. Instantly, it straightens out and turns back into a staff. She holds it up and examines it, amazed.

“Tight...” she says.

“Pretty sweet, right? Now, put your hand inside your cloak.”

Moe frowns, uncertain. Slowly, she inserts her hand into her cloak.

“Now, take it out.”

Moe extracts her hand from the cloak, only to find that it’s suddenly become all pale and diseased.

“Ah!” Horrified, she holds the hand away from her. “What the fuck is this?!”

“Now, put it back in the cloak,” Yah says, calmly.

Thoroughly grossed-out, Moe slides the leprosy-ridden appendage back inside her cloak. She shudders. “Ugh. It’s wet. Why is it wet?”

“Now, take it out again.”

Moe obeys, and sees that the hand has returned to normal. She looks up at Yah with an arched eyebrow. “I gotta say, dude, I think I’m gonna go with the snake thing.”

“Hey, I’m just giving you options,” Yah says. “If both of them fail, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the ground.”

Moe waits. “To... prove that gravity exists?”

“What? No – the water will turn into blood.”

Disgusted, Moe’s like, “Ugh! What’s with all these gross magic tricks, man? Skin disease and blood? You hit the nail on the head with the snake. Seriously. When you’ve made the sale, stop selling.”

“Look, I’m not saying they’re not gross, but they’re effective. You wave a hand riddled with leprosy in someone’s face or splash some water-blood on their feet, they’re gonna sit up straight and pay attention.”

“But what about, like...” Moe hesitates. “I’m not that great at public speaking. How am I supposed to command people and do all this stuff you want me to do?”

“What about your sister?”

“What about her?”

“Wasn’t she always getting in trouble for arguing with the princess about social justice? Sounds pretty confident and outspoken to me. She could be to you what you are to me. Your, like, representative. Then you just sit back and act all wise, even if, secretly, you’re shitting yourself.”

Back to the present...

A smile creeps onto Moe’s face. “I think I might have an idea...”

*

Early next morning, a hungover Erin and Merry gather the Israelite elders to a meeting in a local stable (their version of a town hall). These are the most respected women in all Israel – they serve as judges and advisors, rulers and spiritual guides.

They embody the very matriarchy that’s being oppressed, and if Moe wants her plan to work, she’ll need to get the elders on side.

So, while she sits there acting all wise (even though, secretly, she’s shitting herself – a not-so-metaphorical hazard, given that she’s the most hungover of the three), Erin gets up and addresses the group.

Much like Paul Bettany’s outspoken Geoffrey Chaucer is to Heath Ledger’s sexy, but less-articulate William Thatcher in 2001’s A Knight’s Tale, Erin proceeds to give the speech of a lifetime.

She starts out slow, measured, then gradually builds into a red-faced, spitting frenzy – pacing and gesticulating wildly, like a tent revival preacher on cocaine.

“Sisters,” she begins. “Wisest and most distinguished of us all. You sit here today not for some idle matter, but to decide the very fate of our people! I am here to tell you that God has not forgotten us, but is working, at this very moment, to deliver us from slavery and into the land that he promised to our ancestors. A land flowing with milk and honey! A fertile land, where we might settle down and multiply. Where Israel may once again breathe the free air, unchoked by the shackles of bondage...”

Ironically, Erin gasps the last few words of her speech, having misjudged the amount of air she would need for the rest of the sentence. After taking in a huge, rasping breath, like someone coming back from the dead, she looks out at the elders expectantly.

Crickets.

Erin brushes back the many strands of hair that have fallen in front of her face, composing herself. “Thoughts?”

“You mean we’re not allowed to do bondage anymore?” says one of the old women.

Erin sighs. “No, Gladys, you can still do... that. I’m talking about freedom here. Freedom to do whatever you want. Including bondage.”

“Oh,” Gladys says, a smile deepening the many lines of her face. “Good.”

Erin proceeds to tell them about Moe, about Yahweh, about how God is now a woman (or always was a woman – they just didn’t know it) and, after they’ve digested that nine-course meal, she outlines how they’re to go about getting this freedom:

“It’ll start with a request for the pharaoh...”

“But... hold up,” another one of the elders says. “How do we know you’re not just makin’ all this up? We ain’t seen God ‘round these parts in a minute. You say he’s not forgotten us and I’d like to believe you. But I believe I speak for every one of these here ladies present when I say I’d like to see some proof.”

The other elders voice their accord...

“Mmm-hmm.”

“You betcha.”

“Damn straight.”

“Boy howdy!”

In response, Erin turns to Moe. “You’re up, sis.”

She then goes and slumps down in a chair, while Moe gets groggily to her feet. The messenger of God walks out before the elders – pale-faced, bloodshot-eyed. Needless to say, the hangover hasn’t subsided one bit, and she has to stand perfectly still for a moment while her stomach settles.

Moe stifles a burp, then begins...

Taking the staff in her hand, she drops it on the ground. The elders frown, but as the staff turns into a snake, they react with fear and surprise. It rears up and hisses at them.

So far, so good…

Gingerly, Moe crouches down to grab the snake’s tail, but as she does, it launches itself forward like a missile, sinking it’s teeth into one of the elders’ necks...

Erin’s like, “Oh, shit!”

The elder screams. The other elders scream.

The bitten woman falls to the floor, rolling around in a panic. The snake flails wildly with her, refusing to let go.

“Get it off! Get it off!”

The others scramble away from her, terrified.

Amid all the chaos, Moe runs forward, trying to grab hold of the snake’s tail. It lashes around too quickly for her sluggish, alcohol-affected reflexes to catch.

“Hold her still! Jesus fucking Christ, hold her still!”

Erin and Merry leap into action and try to brace the elder.

“Why, God?!” she screams. “Why?!”

Finally, Moe grabs onto the snake’s tail and it goes rigid, turning back into a staff. She gently unhooks the wooden fangs from the old woman’s neck, careful to avoid any pulling or yanking.

“Don’t worry,” Moe says, thinking on the fly. “It’s non-venomous.”

“How do you know?” says the elder, clutching her bleeding, perforated neck.

Panicking, Moe’s like, “Uh... God told me.”

She steps back, sweating, dizzy, while Erin and Merry help the poor, shaking elder back into her chair. Slowly, the others return to join her. The woman on her left checks the bite marks, then shakes her head disapprovingly at the snake-wielding maniac before them.

“So...” Moe says, sheepishly. “Pretty sweet, right?”

Silence.

They’re not impressed.

Moe looks at Erin, who shrugs. Time to pull out the big guns.

Bracing herself, she slides a hand reluctantly into her cloak, then extracts it again to reveal the pale, diseased hand that looks about as revolting as she feels.

The elders recoil and exclaim with disgust.

“Gross!”

“Christ!”

“Fuck!”

Even Erin and Merry have nauseated looks on their faces.

Moe looks down at the leprous appendage and the bile rises in her throat. She feels like she can smell the hand.

Closing her eyes, Moe waits for her stomach to settle, cursing herself for drinking so much last night. On a good day, this would be gut-churning. Today, it’s tantamount to a tall glass of ipecac.

At that moment, a local healer is walking past the stable when he sees Moe’s hand through the doorway.

“Oh, my God!” he says, and rushes in out of concern.

Before Moe can stop him – before she can even open her eyes – the healer has taken hold of the hand and is smearing a homemade balm all over it.

“Get off me,” Moe says. “What are you doing? What is that?”

“I’m helping you. You’re very sick, miss. Very sick.”

The healer suddenly freezes, eyes going wide...

The disease has started to spread onto his hands.

He steps back, staring at the hideous skin condition as it spreads like wildfire up his arms and all over his body.

“No!” he screams, falling to the ground and writhing around in agony. “No! No! Please! I want to live! I have a wife! Children! I’m a good man! Please!”

Moe just watches, speechless with horror, as the healer squirms around until the skin disease covers him completely. Boils erupt all over his body and then explode, until the man lies still, covered in blood and pus.

Silence.

Slowly, the eyes of the room lift from the dead healer to Moe.

Not knowing what else to do, Moe shakily re-inserts the hand into the cloak and draws it out again.

Suddenly, the hand is perfectly healthy.

Well... healthy for an eighty-year-old woman. Apart from a little rheumatoid arthritis, it’s right as rain.

“Ta-da...” Moe says, nervously.

Instead of surprise and awe, the audience reacts with unwavering terror. One of them is still holding her snake bite and a man is lying dead on the ground, his skin horribly ravaged.

Alright, Moe thinks. Last ditch effort. Here we go.

She takes a cup of water from a nearby table and shows it to the group. “This is water I took from the river earlier this morning. Watch as it transforms before your eyes. Behold the power of God!

As she says the final word, Moe flicks the cup in a dramatic, sweeping motion, so that the water is whipped down hard on the dry earth.

The second it hits the earth, it turns into blood...

...and because it’s been cast down with such unnecessary force, the blood splashes up onto the elders, covering them in small, red droplets.

The elders freeze, many of them closing their eyes.

Moe swallows.

Fuck...

She meant to just kind of splash it on the ground. Why did she flick it so hard?

The smell of the blood gets into her nose.

The sight of the pus-covered corpse makes her stomach turn.

Moe closes her eyes, trying to make the world stop spinning.

She covers her mouth...

Nope. It’s not going away this time.

Instead of turning away or running outside, Moe projectile vomits all over the elders. A long, sustained blast, directed mainly at the central elder (the one with the snake bite), but with such force and consistency that it splatters all over those on either side.

By the time Moe runs dry, burping and retching on all fours, the oldest, wisest, most distinguished women in all of Israel are dripping with vomit and blood.

No one says a word.

No one needs to.

The power of the good lord Yahweh has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.

A stray dog comes in off the street and sniffs at the healer’s vomit-, blood- and pus-covered corpse. It gives the guy’s face a few taste-testing licks, then takes his wrist between its teeth and begins dragging him slowly outside.

No one does a thing.

No one wants to.

Everyone’s too busy being awestruck by the awesome power of the lord.

Slowly, Moe lifts her head to face the elders, brushing back the strands of hair pasted to the bile around her mouth.

“So...” she says, stifling another burp. “You in?”


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