This entry is part 10 of 22 in the series Alternate Histories


We took the book at its word: idols were bad. Down came the asherim with all their blank leaves marked up by larvae. Then the high places had to be brought low & paved over, & the flesh had to be mortified with whips & hairshirts. We found we still itched in unaccountable ways, but the book couldn’t be wrong — everyone knows that worship & degradation are poles apart. Desperate now, we tore pages from the book & chewed them into a paste which we applied as an unguent to all the burning places. Such cooling relief! The book emptied like a chrysalis until nothing was left but the cow hide. When the wind caught it at just the right angle, you could hear it moan.

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