Long Watch — a Short Story

Bats invade a town in Australia

An introduction to this short story, Long Watch, will be helpful. Most who have read this story found it interesting, but did not understand it, and some asked for an explanation or a clue. Since I did not write the story for publication about five years ago, but as a thought experiment, I did not then change the story to make it easier to understand, liking it the way it was, out of pride perhaps, but I do want people who read it to understand what is happening. The explanation is all contained in the text, but it is nevertheless, difficult if the connection with the Gospels is not made before reaching the end of the story, even with a solid knowledge of the Gospels, from which the story derives.

In the synoptic Gospels, i.e., Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus and his disciples cross the sea of Galilee and meet a demon possessed man (and his brother in Matthew’s Gospel account) on the other side of the sea, in the Gaderenes or Garasenes. Jesus speaks to the evil spirit, the demon, and asks for a name, and is told by the evil spirit, “Legion, for we are many.” The demons knew that Jesus had the power to cast them out of the man, and free him, but before he did, the demons pleaded with Jesus to cast them into a nearby herd of pigs. Jesus complied, and upon possession by the legion of demons, the pigs immediately rushed into the nearby water and drowned, to the dismay of the owners, perhaps Jews who may not supposed to have been raising pigs. That is the essence of the story. See e.g. Mark 5:1-21 (English Standard Version)

If it is a true account, and yes, after 50 years a Christian this month, I believe that it is, then what happened to all those demons after the pigs drowned themselves? According to the Scriptures, they don’t die because they are fallen angels who live until the end of the age, and final disposition.

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first.

Matthew 12:43-45 (English Standard Version)

So, the legion of demons who left the drowned pigs in the Gospel story must move on to find another host or hosts to possess. If so, they have been roaming the earth for 2,000 years moving from host to host to host. Would God assign an angel to watch them through the years?

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Hebrews 13:1-2 (ESV)



Raphe, a vital trim man who might be sixty, is walking Luci, his unleashed, well-trained English Mastiff, on the sidewalk of this neighborhood street lined with trees and two-story Cape Cod and Colonial style family homes. It is a warm August night in Scarsdale. The moon is full. As Raphe approaches a street light, it blinks and goes out. He continues walking past the light and it blinks and goes back on. Raphe stops and looks to his right at his neighbor’s house.

The living room windows are lit. Windows and doors are screened and curtains flutter in the summer breeze. A man and his wife are arguing violently inside the house. Something crashes loudly inside the house.

Raphe speaks softly to his dog, “Well, Luci, we’ll be leaving tomorrow. Shall we return home for a farewell good night’s sleep?”

Raphe and Luci cross the street. A power line sizzles overhead nearby, sparks fly eerily across the line. A gun shot does not affect Raphe or Luci, as she has stopped to urinate by a tree.  They continue to walk along the sidewalk.

Another gun shot and a living room window shatters, then silence. An adjacent house is on fire. A woman in a robe and three children in their pajamas are standing in the front window paralyzed with their mouths agape as if watching a horror outside as their house suddenly immolates behind them.

Raphe and Luci turn into the walk of their home, a nice two-story like the others in the neighborhood. They walk calmly up the sidewalk. Far off sirens are heard getting louder as they approach. A door slams nearby.  Footsteps on a driveway.

A man is standing in his driveway looking across the street at the house where the gunshots just erupted and the house next door has exploded. He is not interested. He gets into his late model car.  The engine turns over and the car explodes.

Raphe and Luci pause on the front steps of their home. Raphe looks up at the moon, as explosions and gunshots continue.  Sirens are getting closer.

“A beautiful moon, eh, girl?” he says, grimly looking at the light from the flames down the street.

He looks off to the horizon over the trees sees distant lightning and hears far off thunder. Then more gunshots of different types of arms, and another explosion. He has mixed feeling of sorrow for those who are lost and joy for those who are spared. It is out of his hands.  They go inside and Raphe retires for a good night’s sleep.

The next morning, the neighborhood is in shambles, crowded with emergency vehicles, police cars, fire trucks, and media trucks. Policemen, firemen, neighbors, and media people with cameras and microphones move about.  People are shouting.

Raphe and Luci walk around the corner to take a look. He is confronted by Teri Merriweather, a television reporter, and her crew on the corner preparing to broadcast. Microphone in hand, she walks towards Raphe, stopping abruptly, noticing his dog.

“That’s quite a dog!”

Luci growls at her with utter malice.

“Don’t be afraid,” Raphe assures the reporter, raising his hand slightly, gesturing to his dog, quietly “Luci. Mind your manners, now.” Luci immediately transforms into a sweet lady of a dog, tail wagging.

“You are a neighbor?” the televisions reporter asks. “I am.”

“Mind if I ask you some questions on camera?” “I suppose . . . .”

She turns to the cameraman standing next to her. “Ready?”

The camera man nods and readies the video camera, adjusting his talent lights, as Teri steps forward leading Raphe by the crook of an arm into the light.

“Your name?”


The camera man nods to Teri. She’s on now and she holds the microphone up to her face.

“Teri Merriweather, Action News 5 at the scene of this Westchester County neighborhood that literally blew up last night. I am with a neighbor here, Raphe. What are you feeling right now about this violence and for your neighbors or … are you just too stunned for words.”

“Feeling? I hear explosions, gunshots, sirens in the night. I am not surprised by this at all. I am surprised that the heart of darkness that lies within this fallen race is not recognized by all. This is news because we are fascinated by evil, aren’t we, Teri?”

“We are fascinated by evil.” Teri chuckles nervously. “Yes, I guess we . . .”

“What is evil?” Raphe interrupts with quiet stern authority, “Denn alles, wasensteht, Ist wert dass es zu Grunde geht . . . So ist dann alles, was Ihr Sunde, Zerstorung, kurz das Bose nennt, Mein eigentliches.” He pauses a moment, then continues somehow modestly, “‘For all things, from the Void called forth, deserve to be destroyed . . . Thus, all which you as Sin have rated — Destruction, — aught with Evil blent, — That is my proper element.’  Goethe’s Mephistopheles.”

Teri is speechless, of course, as Raphe walks away with a grave smile, a wave and no goodbye, Luci following close behind.

“Dammit,” the cameraman exclaims, “I lost that interview somehow. Memory full or something.  Nothing there.”

“Oh no, he was so . . . eerie. Well, in my . . . uh . . . we somehow forgot to get a release and waiver.”

Back home in his driveway, Raphe gets into his fully packed silver Highlander with Luci in the passenger seat. He backs out of the driveway, drives up the street and turns the corner away from the scene of last night’s violence. There is a “For Sale” sign in the front yard this morning.


She was not quite three inches tall from the top of her little head to her tail. She led the flapping swarm of little brown bats out of the formerly secluded cave into the cool dry night, the cave now permanently corrupted by beer bottles chucked by teens for sport to make a noisy pile of cracked glass beneath their hidden roosts. The cave had been home for years as the colony population grew geometrically to several thousand, one bat born to each female each year. Every night they flew their orderly foraging flights: back and forth horizontal regimens through the vegetation along the edge of the reservoir, figure eights around the forest entrance, and then buzzing along close to the water when the night bugs were also exercising their instinct to survive, but without sufficient gifts to avoid the quick pummeling of natural sonar and corresponding micro-bursts of muscle directed at the tiny targets and miles per hour speed, as the seven-inches of wing powered the microbats to their quarry, each needing hundreds of successful strikes per day to stay alive. But thrive there they did until the unfortunate day when the boys found the cave and decided to dispose of their empties.

Not a week before the departure, just before sunrise, just after 6:00 a.m., human time, she noticed her self. She felt something tasteless enter her mouth as she yawned, but she saw nothing. She was not blind. Although she relied on her voice and ears to see at night, she could distinguish colored shapes and her roost mates and pups were more than shapes when the afternoon sun dropped light filtered by the forest onto the temporary roosting spots during foraging. Within a breath of the violation, she was conscious that she was a bat, a kind of thing with fur and wings that flew in the air. Nameless organized vision-like concepts arose that before were only moment- by-moment sensations, managed by genetically-determined patterned reflexes and firings of neurons.

After noticing her self, she experienced a feeling of time, as the past moments of nurturing her pup were collected and reflected in a fuzzy memory of the pup squeaking its greeting when she arrived from foraging an hour before midnight. She felt the warmth of that memory, separate from the moment. She could appreciate her strong wings and her high speed flight. She felt a depth of pleasure and fear with reflective thought that used a new system of symbols, manipulating concepts that before were only the background neuron firings. And she felt like she, this self that now knew itself, could make a difference, move her wings and dive when the possibility and inclination appeared in a moment to her consciousness. This was all new. She now knew what it felt like to be a bat, instead of simply feeling like a bat, and she now knew how to act like one, too.

She was also aware now of a presence, something that spoke to her silently in a series of somehow recognizable symbols in her now perceived mind of her now recognizable self. She felt a fear that was different from the instinctive fear she felt when she spied a predator hawk or an owl. It was the internal split of consciousness that created her new self, distinguished from the alien presence that took control and overrode her instincts. She was directed or felt inclined to fly over the peak of the mountain into the inhabited valley with a few vehicles and people moving about with an early Saturday morning ease.

She led the brown cloud of touring bats above the tree line and down Throckmorton to St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Mill Valley, where she and a crowd of them flew through a space in the broken white filigree of the church tower into the belfry and made themselves at home, ready for a long nap as the sun rose over the bay to the east.


The iron gates of the 19th century cemetery across from the Catholic church on this East Village street were locked with rusted padlocks. Dead leaves rustled around Raphe’s feet in the gusty wind. The mastiff enjoyed the city, investigating the fireplugs and trees lining the street. Passing the peopled brownstones, Raphe noticed a figure emerge quickly from a narrow street like an alley in the middle of the block wearing what he recognized as a modern monk’s garb. The man walked up the street and turning the corner, disappeared at the far end of the block. Raphe took a left onto shadowy narrow St. Michael Street, a necessary one way street sign pointing in. Halfway down the short block where no parking was allowed, though impossible anyway, he ducked into a shop with a ground floor entrance. A sign above the door “Books – Religious, Antiquated and Rare” cryptically described the premises, he knew.

The shop was crowded with tall floor-to-ceiling bookshelves lining the walls with occasional rolling library ladders for reaching the top shelves. There were shorter shelves taller than a man’s height cluttering the space between the walls. Light was scarce and dimmer-than-needed light bulbs above made it necessary to find the light switch for the smaller brighter lights for the area of inquiry. The shop was actually two stories inside with a scary curving stairway in the back leading to a loft where more crowded shelves were located. There was an unoccupied large old desk towards the back without any sign of a cash register or proprietor.

A little bell rang when Raphe entered, but no one was in the shop. Raphe and Luci walked in, spotting the desk in the back. He stood there, calmly turning to the front door for a moment to see the door latch itself wirelessly, as if by magic, or perhaps, magically, as if wirelessly. Then, a bright light shone from behind him, and turning around he saw his old friend sitting behind the desk reading the New York Times.

“It’s Raphe,” he announced, and walked to the desk, sitting down in a chair facing the desk.

“I read about a disturbance in your neighborhood in Scarsdale,” said his friend with a sober smile, looking up from the Times. “It was within our bounds?”

“Yes, contained and the few chosen survived unharmed without significant intervention.”

“Our discernment and knowledge is greater than theirs and mortals, but being limited to need to know nevertheless enables our participation and dignifies our role in his story.”

“Do we have a reassignment yet?” Raphe asked.

“Yes. They have relocated to the San Francisco Bay area. You will need to find lodging in Mill Valley, California. You will find it through our normal means.” “I will take the SUV.  I haven’t driven across for a couple of decades.  I have been reading about the electrics, but I will start with a hybrid. I will find one when I get to California. I like to mingle as best as I can.”

“Speaking of mingling, I have something for you – an iPhone 12 Pro, the latest model, and an iPad.”  He smiled handing the devices to Raphe.

“You know I don’t call much.”  Raphe said drily.

“You can use the iPad to read the newspaper in the morning. You need Apple products in the Bay Area.”

“I read more than a dozen papers. It is a blessing. I still read the Stuttgart and Lagos papers online. Memorable assignments. Though reading seems so mammon- ish sometimes, I appreciate the fruits of the labor, the delight of revelation in the current events around the globe, rather than just instant gifts of knowledge, though what would we do without those?”

“Here we are like angels talking shop,” he quipped in reply, “I should also say that I have an optional iPod available with music from the celestial hosts.”

They both smiled and Raphe turned towards the door to the street.


The priest was double-checking his Sunday sermon notes, methodically pacing in the church office. Glancing at his watch, he saw that it was time to vest for the 8:30 service, the traditional service with organ and choir – no electric guitar player or drummer, whose presence alone made the late morning contemporary service contemporary. He opened the door from his office to the landing and stairway to the sidewalk that led to the door to the clergy sacristy behind the altar in the sanctuary of the church. Walking out on the landing, he heard the muted organ playing through the variations of a Bach Passacaglia and Fugue behind the church walls. The talented new church organist had recently relocated to Mill Valley from Boston along with her husband, a Bank of America financial officer providentially transferred to San Francisco. She had begun playing at eight o’clock and the priest knew early-comers were surely blessed by the mini-recital. He saw a couple of late-arriving choir members hustling into the church basement to robe-up for the service.

The sun was shining, no marine layer this morning, and the priest watched one of his deacons getting out of his Barolo Red Metallic Mercedes S600. Deacon Earl, a retired San Francisco 49er and Hall of Fame defensive tackle, was a big black man with a deep rich voice and was especially suited to reading the Gospel during Eucharist services, holding the gold Bible up in front of his gigantic chest. He also was proud to ring the church bell before the Sunday services. He had been with St. Augustine’s since his playing days. The big cast bronze bell had been his gift the first year he made All-Pro. He joked to the priest at the time of the gift that he was able to afford it because his bell had never been rung on the field. He had no serious injuries during his career, which he attributed to “the Good Lord, clean living and hard work on strength and conditioning.” Now that he was retired, he told the priest he had a greater joy ringing this bell unto the Lord. The priest was also a football fan, and loved to talk football with Deacon Earl.

“Good morning, Father,” Deacon Earl yelled over to the priest.

“Good morning, Earl. Beautiful day. Wake up Mill Valley with that big bell.” The priest yelled back.

“That’s the plan, Father,” Earl laughed as he walked briskly through the back entrance to the church and into the sanctuary where the altar was located.

The back of the church was traditionally referred to as the front of the church, giving honor to the presence of the altar. Nevertheless, when worshipers walked through the main entrance doors each Sunday, none were thinking they were coming in through the back door. The church bell was high in the belfry above the vestibule entrance in the front of the church. Earl entered the church at quarter past eight, walking into the sanctuary, past the altar, down the main isle of the nave to the door to the room on the right side of the vestibule in the back of the church where deacons and ushers kept supplies and where the rope from the bell hung by the wall. He grabbed the thick scarlet and gold wool sally attached to the bottom end of the strong flax rope connected to the bell overhead and rang it with gusto, pulling down on the heavy bell, and letting it pull the rope back up as the ring echoed down into the church and out into the town, rhythmically announcing to the waking and sleeping citizens that God was still alive and awake at 8:15 on Sunday morning.

The priest was still standing on the landing when the bell began to loudly ring. He felt the Sunday butterflies flying around his gut in anticipation of the weekly worship ritual that he led, his barely rehearsed words of Biblical exegesis and application he had to share, and the anxiety of professional spiritual responsibility for his gathering small flock swelling in his heart.

Suddenly the priest’s musings were halted by the sight of a dark flow of fluttering creatures, pouring out of the belfry and the trees around the church, fluttering and swirling like a living tornado in reverse, pouring up into the cloudless sky, dark brown against blue, forming a cloud of birds or as he concentrated on the stragglers who wound their way in chaotic circles to catch the cloud of fellows, could it be bats who were sleeping in the belfry?

Someone rushed into the room where the Deacon was still busy ringing the bell, and shouted and waved to Earl to come outside and see. Deacon Earl rushed outside in time to see the brown cloud fly away east towards the Bay.


Sebbie Ionno was at the helm of his 43-foot charter boat carrying less than half a load of weekend sportsmen on a fishing expedition to the waters off Sausalito and the Tiburon Peninsula, all hoping to land some salmon, striped bass or halibut. Sebbie had stocked sufficient sandwiches and beer for twenty, so that even if they didn’t catch fish, the men would have a great time carrying on with each other in manly camaraderie. Sebbie was a real fisherman with a good sized commercial boat, but the only commercial fishery left in the Bay was herring, and the season didn’t start until December. He was too old now to go out of the Bay up and down the Pacific Coast to fish the fisheries left after world-wide over-fishing.

Now his 32 year-old son Tony took their 70-foot commercial boat with its purse seine nets down to Monterey Bay and to the other fisheries along the Northern Pacific coast, and Sebbie stayed home with the charter boat. Right now Tony was in Alaska to harvest salmon on someone else’s boat.  He would be back in a month or so with a ton of money, and it was all Sebbie could do to keep him from flying off to Hawaii for the winter. In December, they would take the boat out together with their men to harvest herring, valued for its roe, a Japanese delicacy. Americans have no taste for our herring, he complained to himself, but the Japanese pay enough to make it profitable. He was sure they would continue to pay long enough to take care of Sebbie’s remaining years out in the boat.

He watched a couple of the men open beers, checking the bronze-encased clock to see the time of the first beer – 8:35 in the morning! He saw Alcatraz off the starboard side, remembering the mornings coming home, sun in his eyes, when he and his men would pass the prison on the portside, and he would look away from the rising sun at the prison, looking silent as a rock, but behind the walls, he thought of it in full operation, full of criminals where they should be. When they came home to

San Francisco docks after fishing all night, it was not crazy to have a few beers at 8 a.m. because in those days it was for them the end of the work day. Now, he could not stomach a beer at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning, and never accepted the invitations of the fishermen, begging off because of his shared responsibilities manning the helm and managing the fishing gear. But these weekend fishermen were enjoying a day fishing out in the Bay with the novelty of draining a Sunday morning six pack.

The unusually clear skies were bright blue, the water was blue as he looked out into the bay, although whether as a matter of fact or conditioned illusion, the bay waters still looked green when he looked directly down over the side of the boat. As he watched the water ahead for other boats, he noticed a small dark patch in the distant sky over Sausalito to the right of Mount Tamalpais. The patch was moving slowly towards him, probably 3 or 4 miles or so away. It didn’t look like smoke. One of the fisherman gestured with his beer at Sebbie, inviting him to join them. Sebbie called out through the open window to the deck below,

“Hey, Jackie, come on up and take the helm, will ya.”

“On my way, Seb,” he replied, moving quickly to the short stairway to the wheel house.

Jackie came up and took the helm, and Sebbie went down the stairs to the deck to talk to the men about the fishing they were going to have today.

Sebbie walked over to the sport who had invited him for a beer, holding out his hand,

“Sebastian Ionno, Captain of this boat.  Call me Sebbie.”

“Sebbie.  Clyde Grudin.  First time on board with you.”  The others standing

with Clyde introduced themselves, and they exchanged greetings and boisterous comments about their sporting intentions that morning, taking swigs of their beers, and looking out at the water.

“I do hope you catch some fish today, ya know. We had a pretty good day yesterday, a couple of salmon, some stripers and halibut and the usual rockfish.”

“Hey, sounds great. I’ve caught all of those. A beer?” Clyde handed a beer to Sebbie from the cooler beside them.

“No thanks. I’ve got to get you there and back with fish, and safe and sound, and all that.”  Sebbie laughed.  Clyde nodded and smiled.

“Well, great day for fishing. I can’t believe it there are no clouds or fog or anything in the sky.”

“I’m wondering about that brown cloud over there,” Sebbie motioned off the bow, north of the Golden Gate, “I’m sure it’s not smoke, and it’s getting closer. Never seen one of those.  Doesn’t look like Canadian honkers, or anything else I’ve seen.”

Clyde and the others standing there looked out, pointing and wondering out loud what the heck it was.

Sebbie grabbed a ham sandwich from one of the to-go bags he picked up that morning from the deli that catered to the morning fishing community at the docks, and selected a Mountain Dew from closest cooler sitting down on a deck chair for a chat with the men. He answered questions and told a story or two, occasionally glancing up over the bow in subdued expectation of satisfying his mild curiosity about that cloud.

About ten minutes later, the cloud was very close, and was clearly alive with creatures of some kind, likely birds, but unlike any flocks of birds Sebbie had ever seen. Suddenly, the flock took a nose dive about a quarter mile off the starboard side. Sebbie jumped up and went up the stairs to the wheel house.

“Jackie, take us over there about a quarter mile,” he yelled, pointing to where the cloud had dived into the sea. He went quickly back down to the deck and joined the men who were standing and looking. In a few minutes they were alongside the point of impact, looking down into the water. They saw a few little creatures with some struggle left, but mostly they saw drowned bats, must have been thousands, floating in the waves.

“My God, it’s bats! I don’t get it. Why would bats, I mean, thousands of bats drown themselves like that? What is it? Jesus and Mary! Like lemmings or something?” Sebbie exclaimed. A couple of guys standing there with him nodded in agreement, amazed by what they saw.


With the sun falling in the west minutes away from setting into the Pacific horizon, the new silver Prius was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge north towards Mount Tamalpais and Marin. Raphe took his right hand off the steering wheel and stroked Luci’s head while she slept curled up in the front passenger seat. He wondered whether it would be one mortal or several infested in Mill Valley where he was led by the Spirit to go.

And Raphe remembered how his solemn and salvific long watch began:

The Master and his friends were in Galilee beside the lake when he decided to visit the other side of the lake where a few Jews lived among the Gentiles there. He said to the twelve, “Let us go visit my sheep on the other side of the lake.” He asked Mary Magdalene, Joanna and the other women and the rest of his disciples to stay in Galilee with their supplies. So he and the twelve boarded boats made available to them by local fishermen, and set sail. As they sailed, the Master fell asleep. Storm clouds gathered above, and as the boats approached the middle of the lake, a squall came upon them, moving with the shadows towards them across the waters, with rising waves that splashed into the boats. As the boats began to be swamped, the disciples were in great danger.

The disciples in the Master’s boat woke him, saying, “Master, Master, help us, we are going to drown!”

Yeshua sat up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters, “Be still,” he said.

The storm immediately subsided, and all was calm. The warm rays of sun light wiped the shadows away, along with the fear of drowning. “Where is your trust in God?  Am I not with you?” He asked those disciples with him on the boat.

The disciples were struck with a new fear and amazement. They asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

They sailed to the territory of the town of Gadara, to the village of Kursi, across the lake from Galilee. When the boat reached the shore, the Master left the boat first, wading a few steps ashore. There he was met by a demon-possessed man who had been driven by the villagers to live in caves to the south where the mountain met the sea and cliffs rose from the beach. For a long time, this man had not worn clothes, and he had raged roaming along the shore, his wild hair hanging in matted cords below his shoulders and his fingernails like long thin daggers, scaring villagers who panicked and ran when they accidentally crossed his path.

When the man saw the Master, he cried out loudly and fell at his feet, shouting with all his demonic strength, “What do you want with me, Yeshua, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, do not torture me!”

Many times the demon had seized him, and although the villagers tried to keep him chained hand and foot, and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and been driven by the demon into solitary places in the caves in the southern cliffs where the villagers of Kursi entombed their dead.

The Master asked him, “What is your name?”

“Legion,” the demons within him made him reply, because many demons had gone into him and had taken control of his will. And they begged Yeshua not to send them into the Abyss reserved for the devil and his demons at the end of the age.

The man looked over to a hillside on his right where a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged the Master to send them into the pigs. He gave them permission and shouted, “I command you to leave this man! Go where you beg to go!” as he pointed at the herd of pigs. The demons immediately came out of the man, and entered into the pigs. The herd was startled, and with a rush, they descended the steep bank on the shore of the lake and went into the lake, all of them drowning as the demons dutifully did their destructive work.

When the Jews who tended the pigs saw what happened, they ran off to Kursi, reporting to all the Gentiles in and around the village what had happened. A few of the elders of the village rushed out to where the Master and his disciples were resting along the shore. When they arrived, the found the man who had terrorized them, sitting at Yeshua’s feet, dressed in clean robes, and in his right mind with a heaven- sent countenance. They were afraid. Seeing that he was truly freed from the demons, they were speechless in the Master’s presence. After speaking with the disciples, the elders returned amazed to the village and informed the people how the demon- possessed man had been cured and confirmed that the heard of pigs had been drowned by the legion of demons.

Meanwhile, the Master asked the man from whom the demons had gone out to show him the caves where he had lived. The man led them on a path by the cliff south along the shore, with Simon leading the disciples, and Yeshua following. They reached a path that went down to the shore where the caves and tombs were. As they walked, Simon stumbled, and nearly fell over the edge of the cliff. Yeshua said, “Simon, pray that my Father will broaden the path beneath us, so that our ankles do not turn.”

Simon laughed and continued to lead them until they reached the bottom where they were met by the brother of the demon-possessed man who had stayed hidden. He looked at his brother, now at peace, who cried out,

“Master, help my brother. He came to help me when I escaped to these tombs, and was taken by some who possessed me.”

Yeshua rebuked the demons who left him immediately, and the brother was himself again. The two brothers embraced each other with tears of joy and relief. They asked the Master if they could also follow him. But Yeshua sent them away, saying to them, “Return to your home and your people and tell them how much God has done for you.” So the brothers went home, and did as he had told them, telling their people how Yeshua had delivered them from the evil, and praising God for his mercy on them.

As the word spread throughout the territory of the Gadarenes, the people of the region came in a crowd to Yeshua asking him to leave because they were overcome with fear. The Master agreed, and he and the disciples went back along the shore to their boats.

On the way back to the boats, Thomas, the pensive disciple, was bothered by what he had seen, and asked, “Master, what about the owners of the pigs? Is it right that they should lose their herd?”

The Master replied, “Thomas, because you have asked with honest concern for justice, I will tell you a secret. My Father in Heaven has revealed to me that the man who is the owner of the pigs is a disobedient son of Levi, and without excuse. He has taken a Gentile woman for his wife. He profits by raising and selling the unclean creatures to the Gentiles. Even worse, he and his sons secretly feast on the flesh of pigs. They send their tithes to the temple in Jerusalem each year, and believe that their tithes atone for their sins, and that their sins will remain hidden because of the distance between them and the temple authorities in Jerusalem. Their loss in this case will be a lesson to them, and they will be called to repent by those who follow us in days to come.”

Thomas pondered this, but still wondered. He asked Yeshua, “What happened to the demons when the pigs drowned. You agreed not to send them to the Abyss, but where did they go?”

The Master spoke quietly to Thomas, “As I have told you before, when evil spirits leave a man, they wander through arid places, seeking rest in whatever creatures or men as God may permit them to inhabit and possess. When they find the open door, they go in and carry out their destruction as their prince may command them. If they return to the man they left and find the door unlocked and swept clean, they will enter in with seven times more spirits and the condition of that man is far worse than it was before. But in this case, this father and his sons will repent and my Father will keep them for me, and they will not be snatched from me. And this legion will roam from place to place, from beast to man to men, carrying out destruction as they can, until the end of the age.”

Finally, Thomas asked the Master, “And the pigs, what happens to them?”

Yeshua marveled at Thomas’s concern for the unclean creatures, and assured him, “As I have told you before, in my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” Yeshua smiled softly and confided, “But I have not told you before, in my Father’s house are also many pens.”

© 2013

David C. Larkin

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