There is no other way to begin except where it started for me, with my grandparents in their youth.
Please understand that this is their story, as well as my own, because, if not for their decisions, I would not have been born into the Brethren of Judas. I am recording this account in the dormitory of the only home I have ever known, the Manse Judas, where I have spent my whole 19 years of life. I am called Kaye18July, as I was born on the 18th of July. We do not earn our names until we have borne the Prophet a child, and I hope to be known as Anna.
Our Prophet, John Brayshawe Reborn, was gifted with a vision by an angel of the Lord. The message was that the original John Brayshawe Kaye, had spoken the truth about Judas and that his message needed to be passed to a new Family of believers. This was written in 1909 as a warning before the first World War, but his brilliance was not recognised at the time, and the writings were lost.
Until, that is, the angel came to our Prophet. He had been partaking in the sacred herb Maria and was led to a store that held lost tomes of great knowledge, all discarded by their owners, and there he came across the writings. As I have lived at the Manse all my life, I cannot believe the Godless Romans are so wasteful with their possessions that they have enough to give away, especially books. That is where our Prophet found these glorious truths: he read them and the word sang to him and that night, the angel visited.
I can almost see it now, as I describe it to you, because our Prophet has never wavered from the retelling, and we are not allowed to change the words when we repeat them. The angel appeared through a haze of the Maria smoke and told him, “Tell the chosen, John Brayshawe Reborn, that Judas was no traitor. He did only as he was told. Fill the world with the believers who will come from your seed and know that you are this great man, reborn. In your hands, you have the words you wrote before and now you must complete the mission, great Prophet John.”
When I was younger, I was almost moved to tears by the beauty of this vision and wanted more than anything else to see an angel for myself. I often thought of this during the times the Prophet lay with me and it took all my fear and doubt away.
My grandparents met the Prophet very soon after the message of the angel, at what has been described as a great gathering for lovers of music. Music is very beautiful. I have heard Brother James play his guitar many times during Devotion, so I can easily imagine music lovers like my grandparents coming together to hear it. They explained adorning themselves with flowers and spreading the message of joy and peace, while the sacred smoke of the Maria billowed around them like a beautiful cloak. Through that, the smoke parted and the Prophet found them and lay with them amongst other Believers. It was the First Miracle of the Prophet, as they were sustained by nothing more than the mud beneath them and the message of the misunderstood Judas of the Bible. The Truth resonated with beauty and meaning to my grandparents, who were divinely blessed to have their eyes opened by the Prophet himself. They followed the Prophet to his parent’s farm, and renamed it Manse Judas, and here I am.
I repeat this to you as it was told to me, so you can understand that our Prophet is not a bad person and I would never wish to hurt him, or the others who are Blessed. But a feeling has set in me, a conviction down to my bones that I must leave the Manse and see the world beyond and this urge is impossible to ignore. I am planning it with great care, as I have no wish to become a traitorous Roman.
We live in a beautiful place and I have lived well, with no mistreatment, except for punishments for when I have stepped out of the lines of obedience so clearly outlined to me, so I am not running away. All of the women of bleeding age have the sacred duty to produce more children for the Prophet, as it was decreed by the angel himself in the vision, but Kaye8May always resented this. She began to bleed sooner than me, possibly because she was plump and bonny, so she had to begin the Laying ceremony before me. Although it is sinful to speak of others without their knowledge, she told all of us in the dormitory when she returned. We were meant to be asleep, but curiosity had made us rebels, and in our nightgowns we listened with wide eyes.
She moved strangely, with an odd walk, as if in pain. She did not lie on her back but rather on her side, as if to alleviate pressure on her rump. Kaye12November went straight over and demanded to know everything, claiming she was a traitorous Roman if she didn’t share.
“It was, well, it was not quick. The Prophet had to look at me for a long time before he was ready and Esther used her hands and mouth on his organ,” she relayed. She gazed off to the distance, remembering, and continued as more of us approached to hear. I was mortified to be hearing about the male organs but also wickedly inquisitive at that moment, like Eve must have been about the fruit of the tree. “Then he turned me over and put me on all fours and Esther stood in front of me, so he could see her. He put my rump in the air and looked at Esther. She took off her clothes!”
“What?!” A younger Kaye looked horrified at that, she practically screeched. “Yes, she played with her chest and he was watching when he put his organ in me and it hurt a lot. It was so unexpected, I screamed. It was like, it was like… remember that time you ate three bananas and had trouble going to the bathroom, and it was hard and horrible? It was like having one of those, sort of, but going into you.”
We gazed in horror at each other and at Kaye8May, but urged her to go on. “It still hurt, but he had to keep going, and he was looking at Esther the whole time so it was as if I was not there. I saw all of Esther, she has a lot of hair on her….place.” At that, we laughed. All the Kaye’s bathed together and so did the older women. We were unfamiliar with the older female body until we would begin to see ourselves changing into it. The Prophet did not like us to know too much, or feel too much like we owned ourselves. We had been born for the glory of the Prophet’s message, not to be looked at.
As she finished her story, Kaye2September walked over, looking sad. She knew all about this, she was 6 months into her pregnancy and as soon as she gave birth, she would be in the other dormitory with the mothers. She had already chosen the name Jemima but had not been bestowed it yet. With care, she sat on the bed as we made room for her, an honoured space for one already carrying a new member of our Glorious Family. For someone so blessed, she did not look pleased.
Jemima, though she was not yet called that, rubbed her stomach and said, “And when he finished, he said, Glory to Judas and you had to leave?” Not moving, Kaye8May nodded and frowned. “It hurt when he bit me, but he said I should make no sound, so he hit my rump. Then there was a strange, wet feeling and he said, Glory to Judas, and I had to leave.”
“I remember,” Jemima said. She was lucky to be carrying the seed of the Prophet, but she did not look especially happy. During gardening, a few days later, I tried to tell her to think of the vision of the angel, but she snapped at me to return to my work.
Having heard what we wanted, the others went to their beds but I remained with my dear friend, Kaye8May, who loved copying bird calls and once wove me a crown of daisies. My friend seemed so sad and pained. I asked if there was anything I could do. She thought for a moment then said, “Can you lie behind me, so I don’t roll over? My whole rump area hurts and we have washing to do tomorrow.” I was only too happy to help and she let me press myself right behind her, so my face was in her hair, and she could not turn. I stayed there all night.
I shared that moment from my memory to explain that I was Kaye8May’s friend until the very end. She had to continue visiting the Prophet until she would come away carrying his child, but something kept going wrong inside her. Other Kaye’s visited him and were found pregnant in weeks, but not my dear friend. It was taking her a long time to fall, and it was clearly her fault as the Prophet is without blame. It was that, I believe, that made her escape. That, and what she heard.
There are a lot of jobs to do for the Family and the Kaye’s must earn their plate of food and shelter like anyone else. There was always gardening, regardless of the season, or washing, or cleaning, always something to benefit the Family so that in the afternoon, we could gather after dinner and listen to the Prophet speak and read from the Bible. The Lord made me fidgety and restless, so I am often running here or there doing errands or filling in where more help is needed, but Kaye8May was not impatient, she was a dedicated gardener and helped in the fields.
That is how she saw, must have seen, the truck that drops off the supplies. I know what a truck is, our Family has two that we use to sell some of what we grow and make, but this truck was from the Godless Roman world beyond the gates and it always frightened me just a little. It would come up to the gate playing Godless music that sounded like a machine. And the men who drove were constantly transfixed by small, flat items in their hands that showed them images. We knew the outside world had machines, but they were Idols and we were forbidden to touch them. Still, when these men came to drop off boxes of supplies for us, or take boxes from us, Kaye8May always found a way to observe them.
She had always wanted to ask people from outside the Family questions and this seemed to be her best way to get information. Not content with being told that the world was made as the Lord willed it, and only the Prophet spoke to the Lord, she arrogantly wanted answers for herself. It was prideful, but she had always been curious. Naarah, who has blessed the Prophet with three children, always laughed at Kaye8May with her questions and called her Little Eve, warning her that thinking too much is very bad for women. I agree with this, as I now have problems caused by too much thinking, but that is another matter.
So it was more “Little Eve” than Kaye8May who followed a strange girl into the truck that came one day. There had never been other children with the man in the truck and it was repeated that he said something like “Skoolhorriday” to explain her presence, but he largely ignored her. I heard from witnesses that this girl was completely different to us in every way and obviously walked with pride down the path of the Damned.
The girl was dressed in trousers, to begin with, and her hair was short and uncovered. It was a strange shade of pink, like a rose, and she had jewels in her eyebrow and nose. She, the stranger, was also transfixed by the strange, flat box machine that the Godless all carried, but she seemed cheerful when Kaye8May spoke to her. Only the Lord and the Prophet know what passed between them, because the next time I saw my dear friend, she was running past us to where the older women were cooking and raised her voice at her mother Leah.
“YOU LIED TO ME MOTHER! YOU LIED TO ME! HOW COULD YOU LIE TO ME?! IS IT TRUE? AM I TOO YOUNG TO HAVE A BABY? WHAT IS…”
We were understandably distressed at the horrid way her voice came streaming out of her, so it was no surprise that Leah and my own mother Delilah clamped their hands over her mouth and led her away. She had lost control of herself, as the Bible says happens to women when they are given too much knowledge. I was transfixed by the sight of her shoes, kicking air as she struggled.
She returned only briefly, my dear friend, and I think it was only to speak to me. We were all going to bed after dinner and she arrived late and was put straight in between the covers by Leah. I slept next to her, which often allowed us to whisper conversations, but that night I pretended to be asleep. I clamped my eyes shut tightly, facing away from them. When I turned to look, I saw Kaye8May was asleep and limp as a ragdoll. But the peace did not last.
I woke with a hand over my mouth and Kaye8May next to me, urgently whispering to be quiet. She was in her work clothes and I felt her feet had boots on, in my bed.
“Don’t make a noise! You’ll wake the others and I think there’s someone outside!” Her hiss pierced my mind with fear and I felt tears welling.
“They’ve been lying to us! The girl told me! They know what happens in here, the girl wanted to meet someone from the Family and tell them! They called us something, a cult? It rhymes with adult. Did you know we’re ….”
Then in the darkness a voice called out, “She’s awake!”
Seconds later, Leah, Delilah, Esther, Deborah and Sarah and a few others I could not see clearly were pulling Kaye8May away from me. My own mother pressed her face to mine and hissed urgently, painfully, “Don’t listen to her my dearest, she’s very confused. This is the power the Godless have! They are trying to hurt us! Pray with me, pray with me my darling, we can pray the evil away!”
And as I had done since learning to speak, I repeated the prayer of Judas.
“Praise to Judas, Judas the brave
Only to him, was the mystery explained
Praise to the one who turned from the world
Praise to one who’s grace we will earn
Praise to the Prophet, blessed to know all
Ever our shepherd, never to fall
May we listen
May we obey
May we remain
Humble, his Family, blessed every day
Faithful to Judas and his Holy Name”
Always, the words had brought me comfort, but this night, as Kaye8May was taken from our room, my peace did not last. My mother remained a while and left me repeating the words of the prayer as she comforted other girls who were woken suddenly. They went to sleep easily, not knowing what had happened.
It was not until morning that they saw she was gone and a week later, we were told she would not be returning.