Blood Moon

With only a few hours remaining before the fourth and final blood moon of the lunar tetrad, Brother Joel and his eleven apostles completed their day of fasting and seclusion and summoned Beck to the Council Room.

She entered humbly, leaving her sandals at the door. Her grey-streaked hair was collected in a single braid down her back, and her shapeless dress fell nearly to her ankles. She kept her eyes down and her hands folded at her waist, but her back was straight and there was an unmistakable strength about her.

“The boat is ready, Brother — ” she began.

“Ark,” Joel corrected, gently.

Beck ducked her head lower. “Yes. Forgive me. The Ark is ready.”

“Fuel?” asked Brother Joel.

“Only enough to see you safely away from land, as you commanded.”

“Food and water?”

Her gaze flickered up to his face, but he was looking past her at his apostles.

“None. As you commanded,” she replied.

Brother Joel raised his eyes and hands to Heaven. His voice was thunder.

“Judgment Day is upon us! God’s anointed people are called home by the darkening of the moon and the rising of the sea.” He looked down at her. “You have not found favor, Rebecca. It cannot be helped. There is no place on the Ark for you, yet you may serve. You shall bear witness to our salvation as we walk across the water to St. Peter’s waiting arms before you are consumed by the fires that God will send to destroy all the Territories of Wickedness.”

Beck dropped to her knees. “Let it be as you have foreseen. I live to serve.”

Brother Joel rested his palm on her bowed head in benediction, stole a glance at his Tag Heuer, then folded his hands again.

“The wives are in the protective chamber?”

The pregnant women — and there were many — needed to be shielded from the harmful effects of the blood moon so that they and their unborn babies would be pure and whole when they stepped out onto the water to meet their deliverance.

“They are safe,” murmured Beck.

“The children who will lead us upon the waters?”

“Also safe and secure, Brother.”

“The hour draws nigh,” declared Brother Joel.

“Amen!” said the apostles, as one.

“Amen!” said Beck, alone.

The Council rose and followed Brother Joel in single file out into the gathering darkness to the shore. On the sand rested the wooden boat that would take them to the Ark and all they’d been promised. It took three trips to get them all there. Beck rowed.

At the Ark — a forty-foot power yacht purchased from his older brother — Brother Joel accepted from Beck the two keys: one to the Chamber of Children, one to the Chamber of Brides, both below deck.

“Only when the darkness of the moon has passed — “ she began, but Joel stopped her with a stern look.

“I know my duty, Rebecca.”

Beck bowed her head. Brother Joel climbed aboard the Ark and stood at the railing, legs braced wide, hands confidently gripping the smooth wood. His robe snapped around his ankles in the freshening wind.

“You have done well, Rebecca. May God be merciful to you. May your destruction be swift.”

Beck flashed a sudden, dazzling smile and made a small sound that might have been a laugh and might have been something else. Joel was gazing out at the horizon and missed it. She took up her oars and rowed to shore for the last time. She sat on the beach and watched the Ark head slowly out to sea, the hum of the engine gradually lost in the gentle shushing of the waves against the sand. The full moon was just above the horizon, climbing gracefully to its awful fate. Behind her, she heard screen doors slam as the others who had not found favor — the older women, and the men who were not apostles — came out of the dormitories to join her on the beach. They huddled in small groups, in identical mousy dresses and tunics and pants, waiting and watching as the Ark grew smaller and the moon rose higher. Murmurs of fear skittered through the people as the lower edge of the moon began to slip into darkness.

“The Incas believed an eclipse was a jaguar trying to eat the moon,” Beck said. No one answered.

Darker, darker, until it disappeared behind a dull red curtain. The people on the beach waited, hands clasped tightly. A few began to cry. Some recited prayers from childhood in voices strained and cracking. Stars winked on and began to fill the night sky. A light breeze wafted in from sea. The people waited.

A slice of pearly white was just beginning to gleam at the hem of the red veil when figures began to emerge from the woods at the edge of the compound. Young women — some balancing toddlers on their hips, some holding the hands of small children, all with that rolling gait of pregnancy — made their way slowly, silently to the beach. Older children sprinted there more noisily on their own, dropping onto the sand around Beck. Together, they tipped their heads back and watched the moon be reborn and continue serenely on its way.

Then Beck got to her feet and started herding the children toward the dorms for the night. Halfway up the beach, she turned and looked back. Far out on the horizon, pinpricks of light identified the Ark, already adrift. On the shore, bathed in milky moonlight, every bewildered face was looking to her, still waiting.

Beck shrugged, gave a little laugh.

Told you,” she said.

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Kimberly Faith Glassman

Kimberly Faith Glassman

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Molecular biologist/bee-keeper who takes long walks and builds things with words.