Exodus Prologue: Reversal Of Foreskin (Season 2, Episode 1)

What happens when God realises her people are enslaved in Egypt? A pool party leads to a strange request, a surgical procedure is performed under the influence, and a deal is broken.

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.


Welcome back.

It’s been a while – few generations at least. A lot’s changed in the meantime.

And I mean a lot.

Let’s do a little catch up.

The story of Exodus begins, as you might expect, with a drunken surgical procedure...

*

God’s turned his back on Israel, the patriarchy, all his earthly creations, and decides to do a little self-care. He’s done nothing but think about it for the last few thousand years and enough is e-fucking-nough.

He’s fed up with power-hungry dudes stabbing each other in the back, double crossing each other, slaughtering each other wholesale. He decides it’s time to unplug, check out, get a little R&R.

So what does he do?

He gets an operation.

“Why does he get an operation?” I hear you ask. “And who the hell performs it for him?”

Well, that’s where Sekhmet comes in.

That’s right – Sekhmet. The ancient Egyptian god of medicine.

At least that’s how we know her in the modern world.

God knows her as his next-door neighbour.

I should explain...

Up until now, all we’ve seen of heaven is God’s backyard. But like anyone else living in suburbia, dude’s got neighbours on either side of him.

I won’t get too deep into it now – all you need to know is that what we think of as the ancient Egyptian pantheon (the gods, the goddesses) is really just a bunch of people renting a share-house.

So one day, God pokes his head over the fence and sees the green-skinned Osiris (Ozzy), the winged Maat (Mattie) and the crocodile-headed Sobek (Beck) swimming in the pool, while the falcon-headed Horus (aka Russell aka Russ aka Rusty) works the grill.

Mattie’s ibis-headed husband, Thoth, is probably giving a lecture at the local university, while the jackal-headed Anubis (Noob) is most likely embalming someone in their basement mortuary.

You might be wondering what a lecturer, a mortician and a doctor are all doing living in the same house. Surely, they’d be able to afford their own place, right?

Well...

Maybe the cost of housing up in heaven is so prohibitive that even people with jobs like that are priced out of the market.

Maybe they’re just lonely.

Maybe they’re all Peter Pans who never grew up.

Maybe they’re locked in some kind of co-dependant Manson-esque cult where they’ll soon try to kill Brad Pitt and Leo DiCaprio in an ill-advised act of social commentary.

Spoilers for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, by the way.

In reality, shit’s just different up in heaven.

And, as we’ll soon find out, if you show a modicum of patience and stop asking so many fucking questions (man, getting real defensive on the first episode of season two), God is actually the odd one out in choosing to live alone.

I’ll just leave it there for now.

Anyway...

The music’s been pumping since 10am and by this point, the gods all have a good day-drunk going.

All except the lioness-headed Dr. Sekhmet (Seki, for short), who’s pacing herself – sipping on a margarita instead of doing beer bongs like the others. She’s technically on call at the local hospital, but what her fellow medical professionals and patients don’t know won’t hurt them.

Mostly...

Much like alcoholics who claim they’re better at driving when they’ve got a little buzz on, Seki claims to be better at surgery. The scary thing about it is, for the most part, she’s right.

For the most part...

Anyway, Seki’s pretty easy to spot. Much like an actual lion in the sun, she’s laid out by the pool on a recliner chair with one of those fold-out reflective tanning panels, just mainlining UV rays.

That’s what lions do in the sun, right?

“Hey,” God calls to her. “Psst.”

The others don’t notice. They’re too busy playing pool volleyball and singing along to Semi-Charmed Life. Seki squints and puts down the tanning panel.

“Can’t you see I’m trying to get a tan here?”

God furrows his brow, confused. “Can you tan fur?”

*

God gets two beers from the fridge and hands one to Seki. She’s sitting on a stool at his kitchen bench, and hesitates before taking it. “I’m supposed to be on call.”

“And I’m supposed to be out looking for a job.”

Seki shrugs and takes the beer. They clink them together and have a sip.

“So, what’s going on?” she says.

God puts both hands flat on the bench, stares her right in her feline eyes and, completely serious, says, “I want a sex change.”

For a long moment, Seki just stares at him. She processes this, sips her beer. God searches her face, waiting for an answer.

At long last, she says, “Do you mean gender reassignment surgery?”

God lets out a frustrated sigh. “Yeah, sorry I didn’t read the DSM-5 before I poked my head over the fence.”

“The DSM is for mental disorders.”

“Gender dysphoria isn’t a mental disorder?”

“Please...” Seki says, not buying it. “You probably read a couple Wikipedia pages, now you think you’re some kind of expert.”

God feels himself flush, caught red-handed. “Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t get my medical degree from Lion University.”

“It’s Feline University and you know it. Asshole.”

“I’m not an asshole.”

“You are.”

“Look, are you gonna help me or not?”

Seki almost does a double-take. “You want me to perform the surgery?”

“Why do you think I called you over?”

“To talk you down, maybe? Discuss your options.”

“I’m serious about this. I’ve spent the last few thousand years searching for meaning, and I finally realised what the problem is. I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body.”

Seki takes a breath to compose herself. Then, very calmly and clinically, she says, “When did you start to feel this way?”

But God’s still got his guard up. “You don’t think I mean it? You think I’m making this up?”

“I’m just asking you a question. You’ve never said anything like this before. You’ve never shown any sign of being unhappy with your assigned gender.”

God sips his beer, takes a moment to collect his thoughts. “Look, I just...I realised that the reason everything went so horribly with the Experiment was my own toxic masculinity infecting everything. I didn’t mean for it to happen, it just... seeped into them.”

The doctor surveys him, considering something. “You feel like by creating them in your image, you cursed them?”

God shrugs – he doesn’t want to think about it too much. “I guess...”

“You feel responsible for what happened?”

At this, his eyes narrow. “What are you, my shrink?”

“If you need me to be.”

“All I need you to do is turn my P into a V. Are you gonna do that or not?”

“If I turn your P into a V, then will you be happy?”

“Yes!”

“Why?”

The big guy gnashes his teeth.

Seki leans forward. “Because you want so badly to distance yourself from an identity you see as toxic, you’re choosing what you perceive as the opposite of that identity.”

God scoffs. “That’s some serious armchair psychiatry, doc.”

“You realise that it’s completely misguided, right? Like, one hundred percent the wrong reason to get gender reassignment surgery?”

But the big guy senses a change in her mood. “You’re considering it?”

Seki shrugs, looking at once totally innocent and totally conniving. The way only a feline can.

“What do you want?” God says, wary.

The doctor just smiles and sips her beer.

*

A couple hours later, Raph arrives at God’s house with a case of beer, one already open and in his hand.

“Who’s ready to get their Mario Kart on?” he calls, clearly having drunk-driven to get there. “Also, did you move your mailbox to the middle of the driveway? Because I kinda parked on it...”

No one answers.

Raph sets the case down on the kitchen table. He looks around while taking a sip, can’t see God anywhere.

“Big guy?”

Then, he hears something. A clinking sound, like metal on metal.

Wary, he follows the noise down the hall to the spare bedroom. He presses his ear to the door, hearing more clicking, tapping. A light beeping.

He turns the knob, pushes it open...

...and freezes.

His blood runs cold.

The spare bedroom has been turned into a makeshift operating theatre, complete with a variety of medical machines around a central table. Lying on the table is an unconscious God, anaesthesia mask over his face, and with her back turned to Raph, surgical gown on, earbuds in, nodding her head, is Seki.

She reaches for an open bottle of vodka, pokes it under her blood-splattered mask and takes a swig, then keeps working.

“What the fuck is this?” Raph says, when he finds his voice.

Hearing him through her music, Seki turns, seeing him there. She rubs one of her earbuds out with her wrist (her latex-gloved hands being covered in blood), but in a motion that is uncannily reminiscent of a cat cleaning behind its ears.

“Raph!” she says, visibly drunk. “You wanna give me a hand?”

He doesn’t move. “What are you doing?”

“Big guy’s gettin’ a sex change,” she says, then corrects herself, “Big gal.

Raph just watches, stunned.

Growing impatient, Seki goes, “Come on, buddy, either shit or get off the pot. I gotta keep this environment sterile.”

“You’re drinking!”

“Yuh – vodka,”she says, like it’s super-obvious. “Which one of us has the medical degree again?”

“Yeah, from Cat University,” he mumbles.

“What was that?”

“Nothing.”

“Exactly. Now get over here and hold this flaccid penis while I turn it inside out.”

Fascinated and terrified in equal measure, Raph considers it. How often does one get to take part in a major surgical procedure? And what the fuck else is he gonna do with the rest of his night?

Summoning his courage, Raph drains the rest of his beer and walks over to the operating table...

*

Some time later, God stands in front of the mirror, examining her new body.

She touches her surgically-feminised face and strokes the long hair of her new wig. She cups her breast implants and runs a hand over her hairless jawline.

Slowly, her lips curl into a smile. Tears well in her eyes.

She turns around to face Seki, who’s cracking a tall beer and sipping it.

“What do you think?”

The lion-headed surgeon nods in approval, admiring her craftsmanship as she swallows the mouthful of beer. “Gorgeous, baby. Gorgeous. Have you decided on a name yet?”

God weighs it up – she’s been giving this a lot of thought. “There’s a phrase in Hebrew: ‘Yahweh’. It means ‘I am who I am’ or ‘I will be who I will be’. Yah, for short.”

Seki’s mouth opens wide with realisation. “Like ‘yas queen’ without the ‘s queen’!”

Yah laughs – she hadn’t thought of it like that.

“It’s perfect,” Seki says. “Yas queen!” She takes another large sip, then gets serious. “You ready to hold up your end of the deal?”

Yah nods. “Just one more thing I have to do first.”

*

Yahweh approaches the hole in her backyard and crouches down beside it. She smiles at her creation, then slowly, the smile vanishes. Something’s troubling her.

“What’s up?” Raph says, slumped in a deckchair, sunglasses on, drinking his way through a hangover. “How’s everything going down there?”

“I don’t know – I haven’t checked it in a while.”

“I thought you were done with it.”

“I am. I just... There was something I wanted to do. Nothing huge, just...”

“What?”

Yah hesitates. “Look – they’re my people down there, alright? I want them to reflect me.

“Isn’t that the whole problem?”

“Yeah, but I’ve changed. I want the Experiment to reflect that.”

Raph frowns. He takes a moment to piece it together. “You wanna give them all a sex change?”

Yah looks a little sheepish, gauging his reaction. “Well...”

At this, Raph sits bolt upright, tearing his shades completely off. “You can’t do that!”

“Why not?”

“Because...” Raph struggles to vocalise his arguments. “You did this willingly and, you know, congrats and everything, but... you can’t force it on other people. Think of the emotional distress you’ll cause when men suddenly become women and women suddenly become men. It’ll be anarchy.”

“They won’t even know it happened,” Yah says.

Raph pauses. “They won’t?”

“No, it’ll be like flicking a light switch. Everything will go on as before – no one will even realise anything happened. The men will think they’ve always been women and the women will think they’ve always been men. Only difference will be: women run the show. It won’t be a patriarchy anymore – it’ll be a matriarchy.”

The hungover angel lets out a sigh. “I feel like we’ve had this conversation before... Women have the capacity to be just as bad as men.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I don’t?”

“You’ve been living on my couch for the last couple thousand years because your wife kicked you out. I don’t exactly trust you to be unbiased when it comes to women.”

“And, what, now that you’re suddenly a woman, you’re an authority?”

“I’ve always been a woman,” Yah says. “This is just the first time you’re seeing me as one.”

Raph shakes his head and dons his shades, leaning back in the chair. “Do whatever you want, Yahweh.

Lot of sarcastic emphasis on ‘Yahweh’.

“You know, you should really think about getting a sex change,” Yah says, completely oblivious to how ridiculous it sounds.

“That’s not how sex changes work!” Raph fires back. “It doesn’t make you more compassionate or progressive because you suddenly have the biological characteristics of a woman. If there was a procedure to reflect what you really are on the inside, I’d be looking at Venom right now.”

“You mean the Spider Man villain?”

“I mean the Tom Hardy vehicle.”

Yah tears up, hurt by the statement.

“Oh, Jesus Christ... is that your estrogen therapy kicking in?”

“Fuck you!”

Angrily brushing the tears away, Yah turns back to the Experiment...

*

Down below, in the Land of Goshen (in Egypt), the Israelite people are flourishing. It’s been a few generations since the massacre of the patriarch and his sons, but their widows and children are doing well. They’ve formed a close-knit community where everyone works according to their ability and takes according to their needs.

Hey, that sounds like a pretty good system.

Someone should build an ideology around that.

All in all, everyone’s doing pretty good without God’s interference.

You can probably see where this is going...

One second everyone’s walking around, going about their daily lives, talking to their neighbours, guiding donkeys laden with bags of grain – you know, real biblical shit.

The next second, they’re doing the exact same thing... only everyone’s sexes have been reversed.

It’s like a switch has just been flipped somewhere, and everyone goes on living their lives seamlessly. Nobody skips a beat. Nobody notices anything, because as far as they know, nothing happened.

It’s not just that their V’s have been replaced with P’s – or vice versa – it’s that their entire identity has shifted along with their sex. Their memories have been taped over.

Two gay guys making out suddenly turn into women... and continue making out because they’re now a lesbian couple.

A mother holding hands with her five-year-old son becomes a father walking along with his daughter.

In their reality, nothing changes – they’ve always been a matriarchy.

Up above, Yah smiles through her tears.

All is right with the world.

*

Some time later, Yah’s watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians. She’s got rollers in her wig, feet soaking in one of those foot spas, a Mimosa on the table next to her, and she’s painting her fingernails red and blowing on them.

You know, all the things women do.

At least, all the most stereotypical shit she thinks women do.

Raph exits the bathroom completely naked, scrubbing his hair dry with a hand towel. Yah averts her eyes, disgusted.

“Jesus, could you put some fucking clothes on?”

Raph rolls his eyes. “Suddenly, you don’t like me walking naked around the house?”

“I never liked that!”

Raph thinks about it. Probably true.

Moving on, he says, “Hey, uh... You check the Experiment lately?”

Still averting her eyes, Yah goes, “No, I’m trying to stay unplugged as much as possible. Just for my own wellbeing, y’know? I’m really trying to be mindful and focus on positivity and self-care and really listening to what my body wants.”

Another eye roll.

“...why?”

“I overheard the Egyptians talking. You might wanna check it out.”

Suddenly alert, Yah’s like, “Why? What were they saying?”

“Just go check it out.”

With that, Raph leaves the room.

“Wait! Raph... My foot spa’s still got twelve minutes left to go. Can you just tell me?”

But he’s already gone.

Yah sighs. So much for her ‘me time’.

She gets up and goes outside, rollers still in, feet dripping, fingernails still drying. Picking up the God’s Eye tablet, she zooms in on Goshen.

“What the fuck’s he talking about?” she says, not seeing it. “What’s the big...”

Then she sees it.

“Oh, fuck...”

Down below, Egyptian soldiers are raiding a village, burning houses, taking people away in chains.

Yah scrolls across the planet – Google Earth-style – following the trail of slaves and soldiers all the way to the nearest city. The Israelites are shackled together, hauling large stone blocks for monuments, or working in the nearby fields. The Egyptian soldiers bark orders and crack their whips.

Yah can’t believe what she’s seeing. “The fuck?”

She walks over to the fence she shares with the Egyptian gods and pokes her head over. “Hey, Amun-Ra – what the fuck?”

Amun-Ra, the chief god of the Egyptian pantheon, is floating in his pool in one of those inflatable donuts, soaking up the rays. He used to be two separate gods (Amun and Ra), but after a Dragon Ball Z-style fusion, they became one – Amun-Ra (A-Rod, for short).

However, unlike in Dragon Ball Z, the result was not a super-awesome, super-powered space warrior, but a hideous blob with two heads.

One of them – Ra – is a literal falcon’s head with a red solar disc floating above it (kind of like a halo turned upright). The other one – Amun – is just a normal guy with one of those cool Egyptian goatees.

Both heads turn to look at Yah.

“What do you want, man?” says Amun.

“Yeah, man, what’s your problem?” says Ra.

“I’ll tell you what my problem is, assholes – you enslaved my motherfucking people.”

Ra wets his beak – literally, dips it into the pool for a drink.

Amun goes, “Hey, I’m sorry, but... you kinda asked for it.”

“How did I ask for it?”

Ra lifts his head, swallows. “You put women in charge, dude. Can’t have you setting the wrong example.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Look, it’s not that we hate women, right?” Amun looks at Ra for confirmation.

“Of course we don’t hate women,” Ra says. “We love women.”

“We love women,” Amun repeats. “But there is an established order in the Experiment, and by putting women in charge, you are fucking with the status quo. We can’t have Egyptian women seeing what’s happening with the Israelites and thinking they can run shit. Pretty soon, they’ll wanna vote and drive their own wagons. Can’t have that, bro.”

“Can’t have it,” Ra echoes.

Yah can’t believe what she’s hearing. “So you’re just gonna enslave them, is that it?”

“Yep.”

“Pretty much.”

“Well... can you not?”

“Sorry, bro. Can’t help you.”

“Can’t help you, bro.”

Yah grumbles and storms off.

*

Later on, Yah’s chopping vegetables for a salad when Seki walks in. She’s still in her red scrubs, exhausted after a double shift. She goes straight for the fridge, grabbing a beer and sitting down across from Yah.

“Alright...” she says, wanting to get this over with. “You better have a good fucking reason for inviting me over.”

“I do. I promise...” Yah uses her knife to slide the vegetables off the chopping board into a bowl, then throws in some lettuce leaves, some spinach. She drizzles a little vinaigrette over the whole thing.

Seki frowns at this. “Are you making a salad?

Yah reacts like it’s no big deal. “Yeah. I’m trying to watch my weight.”

Seki rolls her eyes.

The big gal wipes her hands on a kitchen towel and pours herself a red wine.

Seki rolls her eyes again (lot of eye-rolling in this episode). Yah notices.

“What, I can’t have a glass of wine?”

“You don’t have to go down the list of things you think women do and tick off every last one of them. Was Horus joking when he told me he saw you doing yoga and listening to ‘Man, I Feel Like A Woman’, or did that actually happen?”

Yah hesitates. “So what if I did?”

Seki shakes her head. “Let’s just get this over with, shall we?”

“Maybe I don’t feel like telling you now,” Yah says, turning away slightly. “Not if you’re gonna come in here with that attitude.”

“You invited me over!”

“I invited ‘fun, helpful Seki’. Not ‘work Seki’. Don’t bring that shit in here.”

Seki takes a breath, composing herself. Then, in the calmest of tones, she says, “You’re right. What can I help you with?”

Satisfied, Yah re-engages with her guest. “Have you seen what your roommates are doing? Did you know about it?”

“About what? I’ve been working all week. I haven’t had time to play that stupid game.”

“It’s not a game.”

“Whatever you want to call it...”

“The Experiment. That’s what it’s called.”

“Fine, the Experiment. Whatever. No, I haven’t...” She searches for the right word. “...Experimented lately. What happened?”

“Your asshole roommates enslaved my people is what happened.”

Seki sighs. “I’m sorry, Yah, but... isn’t that just kind of part of it? The life cycle of nations – wars, conquests, people enslaving other people, et cetera, et cetera.”

“Not my nation,” Yah says. “Not my people. We’re supposed to be the ones doing the conquering.”

“Well, I’m sorry you got beat at your own game, but...”

“It’s not a game!”

She drains the rest of her beer. “We had a deal. Remember?”

Yah says nothing.

“Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve been awake for almost twenty straight hours. I need to get some goddamn sleep.”

She gets up to leave.

“What, that’s it? Bad luck, thanks for playing?”

“What do you want me to say?”

“I want you to tell them to release my people. It’s not cool.”

“You’re being a sore loser.”

“My matriarchy is suffering under patriarchal domination. Doesn’t that bother you?”

“No, Yah, it doesn’t bother me. They’re not real people. It’s a game.

“It’s not a game! It’s an experiment. It’s the Experiment. It’s a totally immersive virtual experience, and none of you would have access to it if my goddamn brother didn’t steal it from me, make copies and plug you all into it like it’s fucking Fortnite or a goddamn Google Doc or something. I didn’t make it for anyone else.”

“I know why you made it,” Seki says. “And I know what you were going through at the time. But maybe it’s a good thing that other people can use it. Maybe it’s good that you don’t have total control over it anymore.”

Yah fumes. “I take it that’s a ‘no’ on you helping me?”

Seki gives her a weak smile. “Go get a massage. Get a mani-pedi. Do all the stereotypical girly shit you wanna do and forget about the Experiment for a while.”

But Yah’s not backing down. “If you don’t do something about this, I’m gonna have to take matters into my own hands.”

Now, even the weak smile disappears. Seki’s leonine face darkens. “You know I can’t let you do that. I’m the protector of the pharaohs. I’m a hunter, a healer, and a motherfucking warrior goddess all rolled into one. If you come at Egypt, I’m gonna tear your ass up.”

Yahweh shrinks, suddenly afraid of her next door neighbour.

“I thought it was just a game,” she says, unable to restrain her inner smartass.

“It is just a game.” Seki sighs, unable to deny her love for it. “But it’s addictive as shit. How have you not been able to land another job yet?”

Yah shrugs, feigning modesty. “What can I say? The video game companies just aren’t hiring.”

A pause.

“Listen,” Seki says. “There’s been an equitable re-distribution of power here. Now all of us can play, all of us can participate. Pandora’s Box has been opened...”

“You talking about the Greeks across the street?”

“I’m trying to be metaphorical.”

“Oh...”

“Just... be cool, alright. You’re at a low point right now, but you’ll rebuild. As you get stronger, your people will get stronger. Isn’t that the whole reason we’re doing this? So we can see ourselves reflected in the game – the good and the bad?”

Yah nods, accepting the inevitable. “I guess you’re right...”

Seki smiles. “I like what you’re doing here, with the matriarchy and everything. I genuinely hope it catches on. And don’t forget – you still have to hold up your end of the deal.”

“I didn’t forget.”

“Good. I’ll see you tomorrow, alright?”

Yah smiles back. “Alright.”

But as soon as Seki turns her back to leave, the smile vanishes from Yah’s face.

Cue the sinister music.

Once he hears the door close behind her, Yah says, “Oh, I’ll see you tomorrow, alright. But you won’t see me. Not until it’s too late...”

At that moment, Raph walks out of the bathroom fully nude again, like it ain’t no thang.

Yah looks away, shouting, “Goddamn it, Raph! Put some fucking clothes on!”

“Where do you think I’m going? God!”

Apparently, the concept of taking clothes into the bathroom to begin with never occurred to him.


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