The B’nei Elohim were set apart from the rest of humanity in that each enjoyed a power that was unique to them and yet was firmly grounded in the operation of natural laws, not magic.
Robyn, the Prophet of the Green Dome Church, could see the future as a mental stack of events that assembled itself anew after each one of her significant choices, and yet this power relied entirely on the ability of Chokhmah and Binah, acting in concert, to pierce time.
Hunky was Aquawoman. Her own body could manufacture the oxygen she needed to stay alive in airless places, but this was actually delivered to her by Chokhmah terminating (in a very rapid sequence) a narrow fold-line in various locations throughout her lungs and delivering the oxygen directly there.
Dory was the Great Communicator. No matter where any B’nei Eloah was in the Green River Gorge area, they could be placed in direct contact with any other B’nei Eloah nearby through the agency of Dory. It was a pale shadow of the communication network that bound together the Elohim, the one that neither Chokhmah nor Binah could use because Milcom and Thaumiel blocked them, but Lilith promised to eventually extend Dory’s power across a much larger range.
Jill’s power resembled the power of Yeshua to heal in that it relied on the transfer of invisibly small nanomachines to work. With a touch Jill could subtly alter a person’s brain chemistry, flooding the pleasure or reward center and thus registering her approval in a powerful way. Alternatively, she could affect the pain center and register her disapproval if she wasn’t getting the answers she liked. This ability could be used as a tool for strong persuasion. Jill first tested this power at the clinic in Black Diamond, where she talked her way into a job as a triage nurse with no experience, no certifications, and only a generic two-year degree from a community college in Maryland.
Julie Pritchard walked in that first day looking pretty bruised. She claimed she had tripped on a vacuum cleaner cord and fell flat on her face but Jill knew without a doubt that she was being beat up at home. The other signs were all there and Jill was familiar with the dreary lot of them.
There were no open wounds so there wasn’t much the doctor could do for Julie except prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug as well as a strong analgesic to alleviate her discomfort. Five hundred milligrams of Damitol disconnected her from the pain and made her feel very fuzzy.
I’ve given you some pretty hefty painkillers, so I can’t let you drive yourself home.
Then what’ll I do?
He checked her questionnaire.
What about your husband?
No! He…can’t get off work.
That was a terminological inexactitude. Frank Pritchard was home and chronically unemployed. With the war over and the virgin timber on the hills already logged off, there really wasn’t much left over in the Green River area in terms of driving an economy. In Seattle they called it Gonorrhea Gulch. It didn’t matter, because for all her adult life Julie herself, aside from her more steady employment and tips as a waitress, received an weekly annuity from her parents that helped her to pay the bills and the mortgage and there was even some extra mad money left over for her. Frank required her to fork it all over every Monday when she went to the bank. “If I ever find out you’re holding out on me, Julie,” he once told her her, “I’ll make you wish you had never been born. Don’t you ever forget it!” And sometimes he’d freshen up her memory with a smack to the face.
Into the awkward silent between Julie and the doctor, Jill spoke up.
I’ll tell you what, Julie. If you can stay in the waiting room for about an hour until I get off work, I’ll drive you home myself.
It was an easy wait. The Damitol disconnected Julie from boredom as well as suffering.
After Julie gave directions to her house,
Look, Julie, I’d like you to watch which way go. I want to show you something on the way home and make sure you know how to get there.
The thing Jill wanted to show Julie was a gray house with red trim in the new Eastpointe community south of Black Diamond, where the road to Enumclaw climbed up out of the Green River Gorge.
The very next time you think you’re about to have another ‘accident’ and hurt yourself, I want you to go there. It’s a B’nei Elohim sanctuary. Do you understand what I’m really trying to say to you?
And Jill touched her hand just then. Julie was too shy to blurt out her answer, but Jill was satisfied by a nod of Julie’s head.
The opportunity to take Jill up on her offer presented itself immediately after Julie arrived home. Her husband Frank was there, slouched in front of the television. Garbage was beginning to pile up around him since it had been hours since Julie had been there to pick up after him.
Where the fuck have you been?
At the emergency room.
For a black eye? Bullshit! What did they do?
Nothing. They gave me some pills for the pain.
Give me the pills, Julie.
It was not a request. Terrified, she handed them over.
How much did your selfish little splurge at the emergency room run me?
I didn’t have any money. They said the bill would be sixty bucks.
Well shit, for sixty let me give you another shiner and make it worth it.
She let out a yelp and jumped back, screaming, “No!” In terror, she fled from the house and fumbled with her keys to the truck frantically. She locked herself safely inside only seconds before Frank could reach her and kick the side of the door.
If you don’t turn around and get back in the house right now, Julie, so help me God I’ll kill your fucking ass!
After getting a few blocks away Julie didn’t race anymore. She thought she was safe now. There was only the one vehicle.
Frank went next door and asked his buddy for the keys to his car.
Just for a few minutes. Gotta catch me an errant wife.
That was a good enough reason, and Frank caught the keys tossed at him.
Thanks, buddy, I owe you a half-rack of beer for this.
It was a quiet night with light traffic. Frank still saw what he hoped was her in the truck, stopped at a light far up the road. In his pursuit of her he would ignore such conventions as the rule of stopping at a red light. Eventually he got up on her rear end and followed her south out of Gonorrhea Gulch to the house Jill had shown her earlier. Pulling off to the side of the street he watched Julie go inside.
“Prolly one of those Pony hidey holes the guy on TV was talking about,” Frank muttered to himself. Visions of RE-ward money started dancing in his head. He went back to return his car to his neighbor, and thought about the call that would probably result in a shitload of RE-ward money.
When Julie was welcomed inside the Safe House a lookout was posted upstairs as a precaution. Sure enough, within the hour a police presence began to materialize on the street below. They weren’t advertising themselves with blazing lights or sirens but the sound of the sheriff’s radio dispatcher blaring out into the night from five or six cars sort of gave the game away.
A phone call to Dory was passed along to Lilith, and Jill materialized in the basement of the house, marveling that it had happened so soon.
Jill went upstairs and greeted Julie, then asked her to follow her back downstairs. A closet in the basement was actually the door of a tunnel leading next door to a closet in the basement of the house over there.
Julie grabbed Jill by the shoulder.
I want to tell you something. I want to admit something. I tried to be careful but I think my husband followed me here. I don’t know how. I think he’s the one who called the cops!
It’s all right, we’ve been at war for years. I’ll take complete responsibility. The important thing was to get you away from Frank. There’s almost no time left, Julie, so let me give you some plain talk. They hit you because there’s rarely any consequences. It’s a cycle. The woman gets hit, so her self-esteem plunges. With no self-esteem, she never leaves her abusive husband or boyfriend. He feels rewarded for hitting. That’s why when the woman actually does leave, a lot of them snap. They even kill.
That was the last thing Frank screamed at me when I drove away from the house. Exactly!
And even if he doesn’t kill you physically, your fear of Frank is killing your spirit.
Jill placed a slip of paper in Julie’s hand with the address of another safe house in River City.
Here are the keys to a car behind the house next door. It’s got tinted windows. It’s yours now. One that Frank won’t recognize. I bet he’s watching us right now, gloating over his handiwork, but he won’t spot you in this car. Take the back alley and get out of here.
Jill, I want to join your team. I want to make full payment, with my life if I have to, for what you’ve done for me.
Jill smiled at her.
I’ll look you up, Julie, I promise.
Julie evacuated by herself then, walking down the narrow tunnel, and found herself in the empty house next door. Soon a deputy knocked on the front door and told her to gather what she needed and evacuate the house immediately.
Just like Jashen, Robyn and Hunky, Morgan Brooklyn went through the Change without asking for it to happen. A slender strawberry-blonde, Morgan was very feminine, just as pensive as her calico she named Retardo-Cat. She wore pretty knee-length dresses and didn’t even own a pair of jeans, except for hiking when she made a sole concession and wore cutoff shorts.
When Morgan spoke, which was not often, it was in a hesitant but carefully thought out manner. She hardly ever stuck her foot in her mouth. About the only emotion her blank little porcelain doll face would show was a constant impatience, as if she was eternally bored with the people and places she found herself stuck with. This appearance of ennui tended to limit her popularity when she was in high school.
In a few days Morgan Brooklyn would attend her graduation ceremony at Hazen High, where she had just completed her senior year. She had a license and the keys to her mom’s car and a part time job in a checkout line gave her a little bit of gas money, but she knew better than to spend the summer just sitting behind the wheel. It wasn’t in her plan. She had to get out and move her ass.
Morgan drove south and east and explored the roads between her hometown of Renton and Enumclaw, in the rolling rural areas at the foot of the Cascade front. Crossing the single-lane bridge at Franklin she ended up on a road that was closed by a large green metal gate where the pavement ended. Morgan parked there and got out to explore the gravel road beyond the gate.
A half mile beyond the gate the road forked, with the right hand climbing sharply uphill. That was the road to the summit of End Dome hill. She decided to keep walking on the main road, which was much more level.
A mile past the gate, the road came to an end. Trails led all over the place from there, and Morgan decided to follow one of them. Later, when she knew more about this place, she would realize how lucky she was that she didn’t fall victim to the many dangers there.
In one well-hidden place there was a curious small round pond surrounded by grassy berms.
Choosing trails at random, Morgan ascended the northwest face of Doll Hill ill on a broad ridge and in her head there were only gentle thoughts of this timeless interval between the close of her term and graduation, and the vague idea, a common belief of youth, that she would live forever. As she drew near to a golden object suspended in a grove of cedars ahead, not in her wildest daydreams did Morgan imagine that real immortality was only a few steps away.
On the trails Morgan was well-protected by her big, intimidating Alaskan malamute, Molly. On the game trail that she had chosen to explore, Morgan’s dog Molly ran ahead to the little cedar grove and was sniffing at something that looked like a large white egg, with perhaps a dozen needles sticking out of the surface.
Molly let out a yelp of pain and backed off a bit. She was snorting, shaking her nose, then she started growling and barking at the egg as a newfound foe.
By this time Morgan was coming up.
Whassamatter Molly? You get stung by a bee? Let me take a look.
Just as curious as Molly had been, Morgan put her index finger close to a part of the white artifact that was needle-free, just as Robyn and Hunky had once done under the Temple sanctuary years before, and the exact same thing happened. Her finger was skewered by a needle.
Freaking health hazard.
She planned to tell someone about it. For the time being, she comforted Molly by rubbing the dog’s nose, and turned to walk back to the car. Morgan was no longer in the mood for hiking.
In a few days both Morgan and Molly both developed the classic white bump at the back of their respective heads. Three things saved Morgan from ending up in another government clinic and starting the whole thing all over again. The first thing was that she was too scared to tell anyone, even herself. The second thing was that she loved her dog very much, so she went to an animal hospital. And the third thing was this animal hospital had an employee who worked on macros for Edgar the Elder part time and knew about all these bumps. She steered Morgan to Jill, and all was made clear. The worst part for Morgan was that Lilith insisted that Molly had to be put down. She had never made allowances for the Change to happen to animals.
Chokhmah changed the egg-shape into her old humanoid avatar and relocated to a safer place on Sugarloaf Mountain west of Kangley where Lilith had purchased some land that could be fenced off good. All of them went together. Jill introduced Morgan to Julie, with a black eye from her husband Frank that had nearly healed.
Julie had a bump to match Morgan’s, but it had already opened up like a flower.
JULIE (to Morgan)
The only difference between you and me is that I asked for this to happen to me, and you didn’t.
When they had all reached a consensus on a good place to hide the avatar of Chokhmah on Sugarloaf Mountain everyone gathered around in the little wooded glen. Chokhmah collapsed her avatar into the half-egg again and Julie, at the bidding of Robyn, stood forth.
ROBYN (in har role as prophet)
Take control of your destiny, Julie. Carve out your own free will. Discard your given name of Julie Pritchard and select a single new name. But consider it well, for it shall be your name for all eternity. Remember, in the B’nei Elohim all of your actions have eternal consequences. So choose!
Let me be called Trish.
You are Trish, forever the sixth member of the B’nei Elohim. Welcome to your new family! This is the ceremony of belonging, Trish. You are now fully one of us.
She wanted to shout Thank You! but no words would come out. The entire experience was too much for her and she burst into tears. And Morgan, witnessing the ceremony too, was suitably impressed.
Linda Sunkel was nineteen and living on Seattle streets with her very young baby, Hailey, nursing her in alleys, selling blow jobs, living on whatever change she could get from passers-by, and furtively hiding from police, who would surely interpret her vagrancy as a form of child abuse and take the baby away from her. She never stayed in one part of the town for long, for she was afraid the police would soon come to notice her as an unwelcome fixture.
The existence of the safe houses ran by the B’nei Elohim for battered women and runaway teenaged girls became known to Linda by flyers pasted on telephone poles. She hesitated going to one of them, being neither a battered woman nor a teen, and thought she would be unwelcome there too, but positive word-of-mouth on the street gradually steered her closer and closer. All were welcome. Narcotic dependent ladies. Ladies who had no concept of personal hygiene. Even rowdy ladies, because no matter how rowdy they thought they were, Lilith and Hunky were rowdier.
Linda drifted south past the Seattle City limits and eventually came to one of the safe houses in Franklin down in the Green River Gorge. Soon she found there was no shortage of women willing to help her with baby Hailey. Indeed, it was rare that she even had to change her baby’s diapers.
But truth be known, Linda was just there for the handouts, and she expected to wear out her welcome in short order. To her surprise, the B’nei Elohim purse was nearly bottomless. If a gal was turned away, it was often only for lack of room in the house.
On the summit of End Dome Hill, amid the ruins of the Temple, Robyn presided over the ritual of belonging for Morgan Brooklyn to become fully B’nei Elohim. On this occasion Linda Sunkel was invited to attend as an observer, and she had been happy to oblige. It seemed such a very small thing to do in return for everything the B’nei Elohim had already done for her.
ROBYN (to Morgan)
The Grays accept narrow horizons and the ebb and flow of cause and chance. In large numbers they become like a torrent of water filling the easy channels. Abdicating their responsibility to choose, they become a flood sweeping away everything in their path. Be a Green, Erin. A Green is a unique source of newness! A Green creates her moments afresh at each instant. A Green’s every decision is not just another link in the chain of cause and effect, but rather an anchor for a new chain of consequences. Greens thrive on the knife-edge between cause and chance, where meaningful complexity finds fertile ground. Will you join us, Morgan, to become an immortal surprise generator of the universe?
And just as she had seen Julie Pritchard become Trish, now Morgan Brooklyn became Audrey, the seventh member of the B’nei Elohim.
When they walked back down from the top of End Dome, Linda had many questions about what she had seen, and the other B’nei Elohim allowed Audrey to answer all of them to cement Audrey’s own sense of belonging to something new.
We call it the Change, Linda. It is something that comes to us from outside of this world. All the cells in my brain are not really alive anymore, they are very complicated micro-machines.
And that cup at the back of your head? What is that for?
That is a way to attach machines directly to my mind.
What kind of machines?
Machines that don’t even exist yet.
May I touch it?
Audrey allowed Linda to tug on the connector, and see that it was indeed deeply embedded in her head, and not just a prop applied with glue.
So what good is it for?
We have a cable that allows women who have been Changed to talk to each other, directly, mind-to-mind. There can be no lying in such an exchange, and I cannot even begin to tell you what it’s like in words. You have to experience it yourself, if that is what you choose to do one day.
So is that all you can do right now, is link yourselves together?
Did you know that Jill was once two persons, Linda? That she was once a woman named Rebecca and also a man named Jerry?
How did that happen?
Jerry was killed by our enemies, but Rebecca saved him. Everything that he was, all his memories, she pulled into herself with that cable. Then she became a new person who calls herself Jill, but she is still Jerry and Rebecca inside. Jerry didn’t really die! None of us can ever really die!