Another Excerpt from a Work in Progress: “And Where Is She Who Treads Upon the Sea?”

I put it out of my mind for the moment. I had no other duties that demanded my attention. In fact, I had some upcoming leave I intended to take. I sat down at my desk and closed my eyes. There was a knock at the door.

“Come in,” I called, eyes still closed.

I heard the door open, and felt her presence before I even looked.

She entered. Stunningly beautiful. It was Anath. I remember when she was Ashtoreth. Now, she was The Shekhina. But what would the Shekhina be doing here? On her own? She is The Presence, after all; how could she even leave YHVH’s..well..presence?

She made me nervous. Anath had exactly two moods—excessively amorous and excessively blood-thirsty. In the old days, she was never happier than when she was making love, immediately post-battle, hip deep in gore, in a river of flowing blood. She was like the late Olympians, Ares and Aphrodite in one person, only ten times worse than either of them.

She spoke, sending a shiver up my spine, and down my nethers.

“Azazel.”

“My Lady.”

“I have need of you, old friend.”

She had ‘need’ of me? I wasn’t sure what she meant, but I do know it terrified me. You never knew where you stood with Anath. There was good reason the Levites were appointed guardians of the Cult; YHVH didn’t need protecting—the people needed protecting from The Shekhina.

“What can I do for you?”

“I want you to find out what happened to my mother.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“My mother,” she repeated, in tones that froze my heart and inflamed my loins. “Elat. Asherah.”

“Is she not with YHVH? Where else would she be?”

Her lips parted in a sensual, dangerous smile.

“That is precisely what I want you to find out.”

I was about to ask again, not quite trusting my own ears. She forestalled my question.

“Do not make me repeat myself, Azazel. I believe I was perfectly clear.”

I tried to hide my trembling.

“One more thing, though,” she continued. She paused, and I held my breath.

“YHVH must not know. Not what I am engaging you to do, nor even my being here today. He must not suspect I am involved in any way. You understand?”

I let my breath out slowly. “Yes,” I hissed. “You understand how difficult that will be?”

She laughed, her voice hypnotic. “Oh, yes,” she said. “I never said this would be easy. But you will do it.”

She leaned in toward me. I had to struggle not to reach out to her.

Find my mother,” she repeated.

Her eyes glowed like hollow furnaces. Then, with an achingly sweet smile, she was gone.

I slumped in my chair, shaking. I reached for an ancient bottle of Olympian nectar on the shelf behind me to steady my nerves.

About Michael Butchin

I was born, according to the official records, in the Year of the Ram, under the Element of Fire, when Johnson ruled the land with a heavy heart; in the Cradle of Liberty, to a family of bohemians. I studied Chinese language and literature at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. I spent some years in Taiwan teaching kindergarten during the day, and ESOL during the evenings. I currently work as a high school ESOL teacher, and am an unlikely martial artist. I have spent much of my life amongst actors, singers, movie stars, beautiful cultists, Taoist immortals, renegade monks, and at least one martial arts tzaddik. I currently reside in Beijing's Fangshan district
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