Genesis 32-33: Bro-Down At High Noon II – Big Trouble in Little Gilead (Season 1, Episode 17)

What happens when God schedules a family reunion for Jake and Esau? Someone dislocates their hip, the meaning of life is revealed, and a supervillain is born.

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.


The first thing Jake sees when he comes to is God throwing a bunch of smaller gods into the fire. He has one of Jake’s wineskins in his hand, and he looks like he’s been drinking pretty heavily from it.

Everyone else has gone to bed.

Jake sits up, rubbing his swollen eye. “Jesus, man, what the hell...”

“Sorry...” God says, a little sheepish. Then he shakes his head, like he had a sudden change of heart, or remembered what he was actually feeling. “No. Actually... You know what, I’m not sorry. You fucking deserved it.”

But Jake’s barely listening. “So that wasn’t...a dream. You’re actually...I mean, you’re actually...”

“Christ, stop babbling. Yes, I’m real. Yes, your entire world, your entire existence is just a reality simulation in my backyard. You’re a fucking science experiment, alright? Get over it.”

Jake is speechless for a moment. The pain in his cheek suddenly seems inconsequential. He stares at the wooden idols burning slowly, and God does the same. He takes a deep pull on the wineskin.

“Everything I’ve done for you...”

“You just told me I’m part of a science experiment,” Jake says.

God squints up at him, confused. “Did I? Shit...”

“Yeah, you basically told me I’m a fucking lab rat. A guinea pig. I mean, Jesus Christ, if its all just a simulation, then what’s the point of it? Of anything?”

“There is no point.”

“Then what’s...”

“I’m gonna stop you right there, because I feel like you’re about to go down a dark path that can only logically end in suicide. I’ll answer that question with another question – what was the point before?”

“Before what?”

“Before tonight.”

Jake frowns, thinking about it. “I don’t know. Become the father of a great nation, I guess?”

“And what’s changed?”

“Well...I don’t...”

“Nothing. That’s what. You were going to be the father of a great nation and you still can be. One day you’ll die and your children will live on. They’ll talk about you and remember you. They’ll multiply over the generations and eventually become their own people, and you will be remembered as one of the founding fathers of an entire ethnicity.” He corrects himself, “Or...religion. Or...both, I guess.”

God continues to think about it, realising even he isn’t entirely sure what he’s building toward. He shakes his head, shelving the conundrum for another time. Surely, people won’t spend millennia arguing over that exact thing. It’s all good.

He goes on, “Anyway, the point is, that’s more than most people can say. Most people just get forgotten. One day, someone speaks their name for the last time, then no one ever speaks their name again. That won’t be the case with you.”

He passes the wineskin and Jake takes a swig. He looks up at the stars, thinking about the orb floating in the puddle. “I’m a goddamn prisoner.”

God scoffs. “Were you listening to anything I just said?”

“I am, though. You’re up there in the real world and I’m trapped down here in a bubble in a puddle.”

Jake’s shoulders have slumped, his whole body sagging under the crushing weight of this realisation.

God takes pity on him. He leans in close, and in a conspiratorial whisper, says, “What’s to say that’s the real world and this isn’t?” He then gives an eyebrow-raised nod, like, “Eh? Never thought of that, did you?”

Jake’s stares back at him, blankly.

God snatches the wineskin out of his hands. “I’m serious. What makes my world any more real than yours?”

“Because...” Jake struggles to find the right words to express himself. “It just is. You built this. It’s artificial. It’s not natural. Ergo...”

“Don’t say ergo – it makes you sound douchey. And who’s to say my world wasn’t built by someone or something even greater than me? How do I know for certain that I’m not trapped in some simulation, and you’re just in a simulation inside that simulation? The only reason you know about me is because I’m revealing myself to you, willingly. You’re no more a prisoner than I am. It’s just a matter of relativity.”

“What the fuck’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means...my cage is a lot larger than yours. But it’s still a cage.”

Jake takes a moment to process this. He looks up at the sky again. “Do you actually think there’s another level above you?”

God lets out a sigh. “I don’t know. Maybe. I was trying to be metaphorical.”

Jake deflates a little, disappointed. “Oh.”

There’s a lull in the conversation. Jake feels compelled to fill it.

“So, wait...why are you mad at me again? I was going home to fulfil my destiny as father of a great nation...”

“Which you stole from your brother.”

God gives him a hard stare. If you’ve seen the movie Paddington, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Jake winces. “You saw that, huh?”

“I see most things.”

“Not everything?”

“No, not everything. I do have a life outside this place.” A bit of an edge coming back into his voice now.

“Okay, okay,” Jake puts his hands up, like you’d do with a horse to calm it down. He says, “So that’s why you’re mad?”

“Well...that and you pissing on the altar.”

“That was twenty years ago.”

“You do realise I’m immortal, right? To me, ‘twenty years’ is like your ‘last Tuesday.’”

“I was trying to get your attention.”

God raises the wineskin to his lips. “Mission accomplished.”

“I wanted to know if it was a dream or not. Why wouldn’t you just come down and tell me?”

“Because you don’t call the shots here, buddy. I don’t answer to you. Also, what the fuck was that about peeling the sticks and forcing the animals to mate in front of them?”

Jake starts getting defensive. “What? The logic was sound.”

“The logic was non-existent. Sympathetic magic? Give me a fuckin’ break.”

“Well, if it was so ridiculous, how come it worked?”

“It didn’t work,” God says. “That was all me.”

Jake’s stunned. “That was you?”

“‘Course it was fucking me. Same as it was me who made Leah infertile and then made her fertile again.”

“Why’d you do that?”

“I don’t know, I can’t remember. I was probably still mad about the altar-pissing thing.”

“Jesus Christ, you can hold a grudge. You’re a child, you know that?”

“And you’re not? Making a sacred altar and then...”

“Pissing on some rocks in the desert...”

“Don’t even start. You knew exactly what the fuck you were doing.”

“So what? I was angry. I just saw my entire fucking universe contained in a goddamn puddle in your backyard. And not just any puddle. A hole you dug for a porch you didn’t build that you allowed to fill with rainwater. The whole thing is a monument to your laziness.”

God pauses when confronted with this information.

“Is not,” he says, though even he knows it’s a weak comeback.

Jake shakes his head, disappointed by the pathetic drunk before him. “I’m going to bed.”

He gets up and goes to leave.

“I spoke to Esau,” God says.

Jake stops, turns. A little worried.

“And?”

“He’s patched things up with your mom, and married one of Ishmael’s daughters. They’ve got a family down south, in the land of Seir. He’s doing pretty well for himself.”

“Oh, good,” Jake says, trying to sound genuine. “Great. That’s great. I’m glad he’s...doing so well.”

God narrows his eyes. “Is it?”

“Yeah, of course. Why wouldn’t it be? What’s past is past.”

God continues to study him, suspicious, then breaks out in a cheerful smile. “Good, I’m glad you feel that way. Because he’s coming up to see you.”

All the life drains out of Jake’s face, rendering him even paler than usual. “What? Why?”

“I invited him, of course. Told him you’d meet in Mahanaim. That cool with you?”

“Uh, well, yeah, I guess...”

“Great. Just keep heading south until you see my boys, Raph and Gabe. That’s how you’ll know where to stop.”

“Okay, but...”

“Yes?” God waits for him to object, to say something.

Jake thinks about it.

He thinks again.

“Nothing.”

“Good.” The big guy gets unsteadily to his feet, shaking the last few drops out of his wineskin and tossing it aside. “I want you two to sort this out – for good. Whether that means you come to a peaceful agreement or one of you kills the other one, I want this shit taken care of so we can move on. Christ, what is it with you brothers? Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, you and Esau. I swear this would be easier if I’d made it a matriarchy instead...”

God trails off, his eyes widening with the possibility.

“That’s sexist,” Jake says.

“What is?”

“Thinking a matriarchy would be better than a patriarchy. How do you know they wouldn’t be just as bad as us? Have you seen my mom? She was the one who cut Esau’s skin off, not me.”

“I’m not saying women are better,” God says, feeling rapidly out of his depth. “I’m just saying, it might be different.”

“You said it might be easier,” Jake corrects him. “Like the line of succession would automatically be uncontested just because it’s passing from mother to daughter, instead of father to son. You don’t think sisters fight just as bad as brothers. Have you seen my wives?”

“Enough with the “have you seen (insert random subject)? It’s hacky.”

Jake deflates a little, his pride wounded.

“Still sexist,” he grumbles.

“How is it sexist? You just feel threatened because I’m giving the same privilege and power you’ve always had to a subset of the population who’s never had that power before.”

“That’s not what you’re suggesting,” Jake says. “You’re saying you’re going to take that power away from us and give it to them. You’re not talking about equality, you’re just talking about a different kind of sexism.”

“Well...maybe it should be reversed for a few generations – even things out a bit.”

“Hey, if that’s what you wanna do – fine. You’re the boss. We’re all just figments of your shitty, backyard simulation. But what happens at the end of those few generations, huh? Do we go mother-to-son, father-to-daughter? Does it just become a total meritocracy? What’s the plan, big guy?”

God rubs his eyes, drunk and weary and not in the mood for a conversation about gender inequality.

“Alright, fine,” God says, caving. “No matriarchy.”

And thus, the rest of human history was decided.

Jake smiles, satisfied with his victory, and God shuffles off into the darkness.

*

The next day, Jake continues on to Mahanaim with the rest of his caravan. He knows he’s in the right place because he finds Raph and Gabe playing cards on a table between two separate tents.

“Jesus, took you long enough,” Raph says. “The big guy said we’d be here a few days, tops.”

“What’s it been?” Jake says.

“Like four days.”

Jake glances at Rachel and Leah beside him.

Leah goes, “Isn’t that a few?”

“Don’t get him started...” Gabe says, rubbing his eyes with the thumb and index finger of his right hand.

Three is a few,” Raph says, matter-of-factly. “Two is a couple.”

“I thought three was several?” Leah says.

“Technically, three is a few,” Gabe says, weary.

“Wait, so three is a few and several? Seems a bit redundant.”

“You’re telling me...”

“Then what’s four?” Rachel says.

“Four is a long fucking time is what four is.” With that, Raph throws his cards down on the table and gets up, storming off.

Jake and his wives look at each other, like, “Jeez, someone’s a little touchy.”

Gabe lingers a moment, exhausted by his companion. Clearly, the ‘few days’ concept had been a bone of contention between them the last whatever-adjective-of-days they’d been there.

With a sigh, he gets up and follows after Raph.

Silence for a few moments.

Then, everyone gets to work setting up their camp on the bank of the Jabbok river. While they do this, Jake sends a few of his servants to scout Esau as he approaches. They return the following day with news that he’s riding at the head of four hundred men.

“Four hundred men?!” Jake says, his blood running cold.

“That’s what I said,” says the confused servant, Ibsam (or Ibsy, for short), wondering how on earth Jake could have misunderstood him. He spoke clearly, he didn’t stutter.

Meanwhile, Jake’s panicking, realising that Esau’s not intending to have a peaceful sit-down with him at all – he’s coming to kill Jake and his entire family. Wipe them off the face of the earth so that he can be the father of a great nation. Steal back the inheritance that Jake stole from him.

Maybe Esau and Becca have hatched a plot against him in the twenty years he’s been gone. The big guy had mentioned that they’d patched things up.

Another realisation hits Jake.

The big guy...

Maybe he’s responsible for this.

That motherfucker.

“Trick me into a meeting with my brother to get me out of the picture? Not likely, God.”

The confused servant is now even more confused. Naturally, he hasn’t been privy to Jake’s inner monologue – instead, since Ibsy wasn’t formally dismissed, he’s been standing there the entire time watching Jake’s facial expressions change from fear to anger, watching the gears turn in his head.

“Can I...go now?” Ibsy says, desperate to get away.

“Yes, get out of here!” Jake snaps.

Ibsy nods and goes to leave...

“Wait!” Jake says, and the terrified servant stops, winces.

He turns back to face his master.

“How good are you at hand-to-hand combat? Stealth, assassinations, shit like that?”

The servant stares blankly. “I’m a servant.”

“Yeah, obviously...but if I asked you to go kill someone, do you think you could do it?”

Ibsy swallows, growing ever more fearful. Clearly, the target Jake has in mind is his brother – the same brother who he just saw riding at the head of four hundred men.

Ibsy’s caught between not wanting to disobey his master, and not wanting to get caught in the act of attempting to assassinate a warlord and, as a result, getting slow-roasted to death over an open fire – which, he presumes, is the punishment for such a crime.

“Leave it with me,” Jake says, when faced with Ibsy’s indecision. “I’ll think of something.”

He disappears into his tent, and has both of his wives brought in to brainstorm ideas about how to deal with Esau.

“I think we should send him gifts,” says Leah. “Butter him up, and maybe we can come to some sort of truce.”

“I think you were right the first time,” says Rachel. “We gotta smoke that motherfucker. Kill him before he kills us.”

Jake listens, processing the advice and deciding which course of action to follow.

Finally, the proverbial light bulb goes off over his head. “I’ve got it!”

That same day, he sends out Ibsy and the rest of his servants with a gift of livestock for his brother – several hundred strong, stripey goats and sheep.

When they’re gone, he splits his family up into two camps (one with Rachel, Billie and their kids, the other with Leah, Zillie and their kids).

Rachel’s camp, he instructs to stay where it is.

Leah’s camp, he sends across the river on shitty, makeshift barges.

Initially, Leah’s like, “Thanks a lot, asshole,” and Rachel’s there with her hands on her hips and a smug smile on her face, thinking she’s hot shit. Little do they know, it’s actually the reverse.

See, Jake’s true love is (and always has been) Leah.

By sending her across the river, he’s putting more distance between her and the approaching Esau. His plan is to abandon Rachel on her side of the river, sneak across in the dead of night, then flee with Leah while Esau launches his attack on Rachel’s camp.

By the time Esau realises his brother isn’t there, Jake will be long gone.

So too, unfortunately, will Rachel, Billie and their eight children. Jake’s children.

It’s an act of cold, calculating ruthlessness – but you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette, right? Sacrifices have to be made.

It just so happens that in Jake’s case, he’s never the one who has to make that sacrifice.

So just before dawn, when Rach and Billie and Rube and Sim and Levi and Jude and Gad and Ash and Joey and Benji and the animals are all sound asleep, Jake sneaks out of his tent and makes his way down to the river.

He’s just about to board one of the shitty, aforementioned barges when someone tackles him from the side and they both go sprawling onto the riverbank.

Jake lands hard on his hip and hears a loud pop. He tries to scream, but a hand covers his mouth.

The attacker is wearing a hood, his face hidden from sight. He’s trying to pin Jake to the ground so he can start laying into him, but Jake fights back. They end up rolling around pathetically in the dust – one getting the upper hand, then the other. A lot of grunting and cursing and half-formed sentences.

Jake’s legs are more-or-less limp, given his dislocated hip, so he really only has his upper half to work with. He looks kind of like a puppet with its leg strings cut.

“Esau!” Jake says, gritting his teeth through the pain. “Wait!”

But Esau doesn’t wait. The two brothers claw at each other’s face and throat and mouth, trying to get a good strangle or eye-gouge or fish-hook going.

Alas, neither of them succeed.

They just roll around until, eventually, Jake manages to land a feeble, glancing blow. Still, it’s enough to knock Esau on his ass.

Jake reaches over, and is about to tear the hood off when he hears...

“Hey! What’s going on down there?”

Jake looks up to see his skinless brother Esau, glistening in the moonlight. He’s sitting astride a camel at the top of the bank, holding a flaming torch. On either side of him are a bunch of stone-faced, cold-blooded-looking dudes on foot. The first few rows of his four-hundred man army.

Jake frowns. If that’s Esau, then...

He tears off his attacker’s hood to reveal...

God?

“Son of a bitch,” God slurs.

Jake immediately realises that he’s drunk and knows he should have suspected as much. He lays down alongside his attacker – both of them panting, out of shape.

Esau calls a few guys forward and has them carry Jake and God up into a nearby tent, looping the arms of the wrestlers over their shoulders. God struggles drunkenly against them, saying, “Get off me! Leave me alone!” – shit like that.

A fire-dish in the middle of the tent is lit, and Esau tells his men to wait outside. Jake is laid out on a couch, groaning and holding his dislocated hip, while God is slumped on the one across from him. Esau takes a seat in between them, warming his hands.

“Alright...” he says, in the fed-up tone of a constantly disappointed parent. “Who wants to kick this off?”

God points to Jake. “He was going to abandon his family. Use them as a distraction for you while he got away...”

Esau’s appalled by this statement. To Jake, he says, “Jesus. Really?”

“Only half.”

“What?”

“Only half my family.”

“Oh, well, that’s much better.”

“I thought you were coming to kill me.”

“What gave you that impression?”

Jake points back at God. “He did.”

“Did not!” God shoots back, petulantly.

Esau lets out a sigh. “Children, please...”

They both go quiet, sulking.

Esau notices Jake trembling, gritting his teeth through the pain, and says to God. “Can you fix him, please?”

God looks reluctant, like he’s been asked to apologise for pushing another kid over on the playground.

“Come on, big guy,” Esau says, in an encouraging voice. “Come on...”

God grumbles and swishes his hand around like Hermione doing the Wingardium Leviosa thing. Suddenly, Jake’s hip pops back into place and the pain is instantly gone. He sits up, moving his leg around. He gets to his feet and takes a few steps. He’s got a limp, but no pain.

“Jesus, you can just do that?” Jake says.

“I’m God. I can do whatever I want.”

Sidebar: the whole thing with the hip dislocation is why, to this day, observant Jews do not eat the sciatic nerve (the ‘gid hanasheh’, or displaced tendon) of an animal.

“Now...say thank you, Jake.”

Jake’s eyes bulge with anger. “Why should I say thank you? He’s the one who...”

“I don’t think he meant to dislocate your hip. Did you, big guy?”

God, still pouting, shakes his head. “No.”

“See?” says Esau. “He didn’t mean it.”

“Then he should say sorry,” Jake says, folding his arms. “I’m not thanking him for shit.”

Esau looks at God. “He’s right, big guy – you should say you’re sorry.”

Indignant, God’s like, “But you...”

Esau holds up a finger with a warning look. “Bup-bup-bup. Apologise.”

God grumbles. “Fine. I’m sorry.”

Jake says nothing.

“Jake...” Esau says.

Jake gives an annoyed sigh. “Thank you.”

“There,” Esau says, smiling. “Isn’t that better? Everyone’s friends again. No one’s hips are dislocated.” He fixes his attention on Jake. “Look, I didn’t come here to kill you, alright. I came here to fix things. Even after you sent your weak-ass shepherd-assassins after me...”

Jake winces. “What happened to them?”

“What do you think?”

Jake shakes his head, taking a moment to pity the fallen servants. “Poor Ibsy.”

Esau goes on, “I came here to tell you that I don’t want revenge. That I forgive you for stealing my skin and using it to trick me out of my inheritance. That I don’t want to be the father of a great nation – you can have it.”

Jake is caught off-guard by this. He swallows past the lump in his throat.

“Why?” is all he can muster. “You should hate me.”

“Maybe,” Esau says, his jaw tightening a little. “But a wise woman once taught me to let go of the things that are dragging you down. It’s the only way you can stay afloat.”

“Deep...” God says, off in his own little world.

They both glance at him, then resume their conversation.

“Who was she?” Jake says.

“Mahaleth. My wife. She’s the one who helped me patch things up with mom. I almost wasted my whole life on a path of vengeance, trying to right the wrongs that had been done to me. When I married her, she was just a pawn to use against you and Becca. But we...” He chuckles to himself. “We fell in love, if you can believe it. And she reminded me of the more important things in life. Happiness. Family. I don’t care about power or glory anymore. I don’t care about legacy. I just want to be happy in the time that I have, and to bring happiness to others, if I can.”

Jake seems genuinely touched by this. God’s watching his reaction, seeing if the message is sinking in.

“She sounds like an incredible woman,” Jake says.

“She is.”

A beat.

They smile at each other.

“Alright, I think we’re good here,” says God, getting up. “See? Everything worked out in the end...”

He begins to shuffle out.

“This was your master plan, huh?” Esau says, turning in his seat and putting his elbow over the top of the couch.

The sarcasm misses God by a mile. “More or less.”

As he nears the entrance to the tent, Jake limps in front of him, blocking his way.

“Hold it, big guy,” he says. “I don’t want any more ambiguity about this. Esau says it’s cool if I take the reins on this puppy, and I want to make sure you’re on board. I don’t want to have to deal with a bunch of shenanigans where you’re actually still mad at me and doing a bunch of passive-aggressive fuckery behind the scenes. I wanna sort this shit out now.”

God stares at him, glassy-eyed. “Fine. What do you want me to do about it?”

“I want you to bless me like Ike did. Only this time, everything’s legit. No takebacks.”

God turns back to check with Esau, like, “You sure about this?”

Chill as a cucumber, Esau says, “Hey, man, whatever he needs to hear.”

“Alright...” God turns to Jake. “But I’m giving you a new name.”

“What do you mean, a new name?”

“Your parents called you Jacob because you came out of the womb grabbing your brother’s heel. Your name basically means ‘he who takes by the heel’, ‘he who supplants’. It’s all very foreshadowy and poetic. If you’re gonna do this – like, for real – you can’t be ‘the supplanter’ anymore...”

Sidebar: sweet wrestling name alert. The Supplanter, anyone?

“So what am I called now?” Jake says.

God thinks about it. “Israel.”

“Israel?”

“Yes, Israel. You got a fucking problem with that?”

Jake backs off, not wanting to push it. “No, it’s... What does it mean?”

“He who fights with God and with men.”

He gives Jake a moment to process this, then says, in a weary voice, “Ever since I built this place, and put you people in it, I have done nothing except struggle with you. And you have done nothing except fight amongst yourselves. Maybe it’s time I just give into it. Maybe that’s what this is.”

The thought seems to depress the living hell out of him.

God waves his hand over Jake like a shitty magician. “There. Done. Consider yourself blessed. Can I go now? It’s almost sunrise.”

Jake gives an amused grin. “What are you, a troll?”

Esau gets in on the joke too. “You gonna turn to stone if the sun rises?”

They both laugh.

But God just looks defeated. Ashamed. “No...I just don’t want anyone to see me like this.”

Then he’s gone.

Jake turns back to Esau, who says, “Satisfied? It’s all yours, bro.”

“Bro...” Jake says, reacting to the word pleasantly. “Never thought I’d hear that again.”

Another smile.

“Hey, I was thinking...” Esau says, standing up and walking around the couch. “How do you feel about going home together?”

“To your home?”

“To our home. To mom. We can be brothers again. I’ll bring my family up and we can all live there together. Tend our flocks side by side. Watch our kids play together. Grow old and see them have families of their own.”

“I’d like that,” Jake says. His voice begins to break, overcome with emotion. “I’ve been dreading this day for so long. I never thought...”

Esau nods, tearing up a little himself. He opens his arms wide. “Come here, man. Bring it in.”

Jake seems a little put-off by the slimy skinlessness that is his brother, but he can’t deny Esau a hug. Not after he forgave him like that. He steps forward, embracing him. Esau’s wet, skinless arms close around Jake and he has to stop himself from shuddering with disgust.

“Hey, I was thinking...” Jake says, trying to take his mind off the hug. “Why’d you bring four hundred men with you if you weren’t planning to kill me?”

Esau laughs. “They’re not warriors, man. They’re servants. My gift to you.”

“Oh,” Jake says, relieved. “Really? All of them?”

“You bet.”

“Wow. You shouldn’t have.”

Then he slides the previously-concealed dagger up through Esau’s ribs and into his heart...

Esau stiffens. He gasps.

He staggers back, eyes wide and full of betrayal.

Before he can say anything, he drops to the ground, dead.

Jake stares at the body, racked with guilt. He closes his eyes, squeezing a single tear down the side of his face. It was the only way, he tells himself. The only way to be sure.

Taking a moment to compose himself, he walks outside, where he’s faced with four hundred servants holding torches. Almost in unison, they stop talking and turn to face him. He’s got the bloody outline of Esau’s body all over his clothes from where the skinless bastard hugged him.

“Esau’s dead,” Jake says, addressing the crowd. “I believe he told you what the new arrangement is...”

He lets the statement linger like a question.

No reaction from the crowd. No anger, no sorrow. They are servants, after all. What do they care if one master dies and gets replaced with another? Doesn’t change the fact that when the sun rises, they’ll still be servants.

“Well, just in case anyone’s unclear...”

At that moment, Jake shifts. He’s suddenly filled with an almost-rabid energy, and begins pacing back and forth, staring at everyone with wide eyes, like he’s just done a few lines of coke. But it’s not drugs he’s high on – it’s power, baby. The ultimate drug.

“I am your master now!” Jake shouts. “...and I’m the father of this great nation. God just signed off on it himself. Don’t believe me?” He laughs, really leaning into the whole supervillain thing. “Try anything and he’ll strike you the fuck down! Any questions? No, didn’t think so.”

He points to a part of the crowd. “You guys, go get some wood for a funeral pyre.”

He points to another part. “You guys, come in here and get the body.”

As the servants do what they’re told, Jake begins to cackle maniacally – flecks of spit flying from his lips, eyes bulging, arms outstretched to the sky, like he’s just been crowned king of the motherfucking world.

The camp is bathed in a warm, orange glow as the sun begins to rise. It’s like God himself is smiling down on what’s happening here.

If this were a movie – if Jake hadn’t literally just stabbed his own brother in the back, and if he wasn’t cackling like a mad scientist who’d just given birth to some terrifying monstrosity – this is where the orchestral music would swell, and we’d slowly fade out.

Instead, how about we just cut to black.


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