Last week I shared my short story, The Ointment for Easter. It tells of an intelligent demon’s witnessing of the Crucifixion. The book it inspired is Unholy Testament – The Beginnings, which is on offer until April 29.
Please read the excerpt below.
From Eco’s journal:
Jesus is brought before Pilate:
The rabbi nodded. “It is as you say.”
What cheek, I thought, for you see, despite hating God I did still think it was unseemly to admit such a thing. Then because it was Passover he said there was the tradition of an amnesty for a prisoner.
“Who do you choose, Barbaras or Jesus?”
I screamed for the other, having no idea at all what sort of beast the man was. “Barbaras! Barbaras!”
Pilate looked surprised but then he nodded; an ironic smile upon his lips. “Very well.”
The rabbi remained there. I wondered what would happen. I didn’t have to wonder long for someone shouted:
“He’s going to flog him, watch!”
The crowd surged forward to see the spectacle then of Christ being flogged. I did, too. I wished the rabbi pain on each lash for Ankata, I truly did. Suddenly, I heard crying near me. Shouts for Jesus and cries of agony as if those who shouted his name were in pain, too. He had many supporters in the crowd, many, but their wishes had not ruled that day.
Pilate had disappeared, and when he came back, he ordered in a great ringing voice: ‘This man shall be taken to be crucified!”
There were cheers but as before, there was much crying, too. He washed his hands then. “You have had your judgment. It has nothing to do with me!” he shouted.
“Oh yes, it does. It always will have!” some anonymous voice answered.
I looked to see who said it. I cannot be certain, but I did always think it was Louis. It was just a feeling I had. And the feeling became a chill that nearly froze my blood. It affected me for a long time, too, for this was such a moment; a moment that changed the world forever, and it would figure that Louis would be involved, don’t you think?
I did see a man making his way out of the crowd. I even saw Pilate glance at him. The man looked back. Pilate saw and I did, too.
Wouldn’t it be something if it had been Louis? I think it would have been so like him to be present at such an event. I have asked him repeatedly about this but he never answered me other than to tell me it was quite enough that I was there. I think that, in itself, is rather telling.
I had indeed witnessed something pivotal. That was obvious for suddenly there fell a great silence upon the crowd—upon everyone, including Pilate and his guards. A crushing, mournful silence; the heavy silence that descends before disaster strikes.
But the moment passed and suddenly there was a surge of movement and noise as the condemned man was made to carry his own cross. His knees sank from the weight of it as he tried to hold it aloft.
I followed along, pushing my way continually—so intent was I on witnessing the entire thing. As I did, I saw the follower known as Judas. He glanced at me and turned, disappearing into the crowd. I saw him emerge from it only to rush away, toward the city gates.
They took Jesus just outside the city; the crowds were huge by then, even bigger than they were before. The Romans were laughing and teasing one another and all the while they were crucifying this Jesus. Yet during this entire time, something was happening, something unseen was occurring. I felt it, deep inside of me.
It took him three hours to die. I was weary and wished to leave but just before he died he said something. I barely heard, yet the words tore into my being, eviscerating me with their meaning.
“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”
People fell to their knees and shouted his name. The Roman guards looked shaken. One of them called out. “This man is truly the Son of God!”
It was then that I knew, Rose. It was the greatest truth I would ever know. I could deny it and choose not to believe it, but I would know it still. And if I felt that way then worse was to happen for on the third day he rose, fulfilling the prophecy.
I saw the empty tomb. I saw his apostles and the woman he had saved from stoning—yes, that was a great story, you know. Some harlot about to be stoned and Jesus stepping forth to urge the crowd to go ahead if they were without sin. I had been told this by a man who said his name was Peter.
How they wept for their emotions were so great. And I wept too, but I wept for a different reason. My weeping was selfish. My sorrow was for myself, for I knew then that God was all powerful; that he and his angels ruled everything; that the forces of evil could succeed so far and no farther. We were little more than flies, pesky insects that the power of light could step on at any time.
I don’t remember anything much after that; someone said I screamed for days.
“You were delirious. Not awake in your mind, brother. You shall rest here.”
Isn’t it funny, Rose? Don’t you see the irony and humor in this? I was cared for by one of his followers!
“I am mad now,” I said. “And I shall be forever more.”
He tried to help me, this man. He spoke to me of peace and love. And with each word, he drove me further into the dark abyss that had already become my home and always would be.
Eventually, the crisis passed for that was what it was. I would cope the only way I could. If I could never be saved, I would wallow in my damnation. I would glory in it.
Yet, knowing truth as I did, I would also be mad and would remain mad.
(End of excerpt)
99 cents – April 29