Not. Too. Shabby.
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Jacksonville, FL
It seemed the sun was in protest as well, steadily pummeling the earth below with heat, unorthodox for the season, as it continued it’s ascent, matched by their own scaling through the outskirts of the city to Golgotha, the “place of the skull“. The centurion’s eyes squinted sharply as he tried to make sense of the situation, those monotonous eyes barely visible under his plumed helmet’s visor. Whether there was cause in this man, whether his punishment was justified, matter little. No, despite his peaceful nature, this man’s life had proven to be incendiary to his very surroundings. Everything he touched sparked with dissonance, and passion, but dissonance of this potential scale could not be afforded in the empire’s borderlands. If it was the centurion’s duty to maintain the order and security of the Roman empire by executing this man, this messiah, or whatever he may be, then so be it, whether guilty or blameless.
Jesus of Nazareth stumbled to his knees, the heavy, wooden cross, mockingly labeled with his self proclamation, “King of the Jews”, burdened upon his back falling to the ground beside him and snapping the centurion from his preoccupied reverie. No god, the centurion softly mused to himself in pity of the defeated character before him. After all, what sort of God could be prostrated before all to see, scorned with his briar crown, beaten and blood drenched from scourge wounds and tortured to near death by wretched, mortal man?
The crowd that thickened with every moment cheered at this blatant sign of weakness, cursing his arrogance and mocking his mortal frailty.
“Help him!” the centurion barked, pointing to the closest guardsman, interrupting their own ridicule of this apparent false prophet. “Can you not see that he can go no further?”
The centurion grit his teeth, frustration evident upon his face. These borderland “Romans” were devoid of discipline. Briefly, he longed to be back with the Legion, among true men made of sterner stuff, where life, death, the rush of adrenaline and the stressors of combat came hand in hand in honorable service to the Caesar. But, after all, it was the Caesar, himself, who had sent him to this pious pit at the world’s end. His decree came following several mishaps the prelate, Pontius Pilate, had made in his dealings with these stubbornly devout people, and though it had been disappointing, the centurion had accepted without hesitation, for his service was unconditional.
Pilate, himself, had preferred to release this delinquent from punishment. For all their findings, this man was guilty only of unwittingly ensnaring himself in a political, religious power struggle… and of insanity, of course. Regardless, Pilate could not afford discontent from the Jewish temple among such a devoted people, knowing an incident of such a profound scale would force the centurion to take his head at the behest of the Caesar.
Why would this man refuse to withdraw such claims when he was given such beneficial contingency? Why would this man force his execution for his foolish pride? This man that stood defiantly before the Roman prelate, Pontius Pilate, and asserted his own position in the kingdom of Heaven! Could anyone invent such arrogance! The centurion grit his teeth and approached this deity now struggling to stand. Man or god, this man would die by his hand before dusk. The indignant glare or superiority this beaten man had directed at Pilate only hours before, now aimed at the centurion. The messiah’s bravado was returned with a mouth of spit, stinging as it slid awkwardly down hemorrhaging wounds, but this man’s body was now numb to pain on such a dull scale.
Despite the affront, his face never flinched, his glare remained steel, only his mouth moved, showing blood stained teeth as he mouthed the words, “You shall wait here until I return.”
The centurion only stared as a chill wind ripped through his insides and shivers tickled their way up and down his spine. His silent and reflective stare continued as a man was pulled from the crowd to assist Jesus, the anointed one, with the burden of the cross, and through their final ascent to Golgotha. As if entranced, the centurion could not hear the cries of agony from sects of observers or from the prophet’s own mouth, instead his ears trained on the pounding of iron and the snapping of bones as iron nails were driven through the Savior of Man’s hands and feet. The wind that ripped through the place of the skull was thick with the scent of blood, but only regret touched the centurion’s sharp nostrils.
Hours of this black day steadily melted away, but nothing dulled the meditative state of the centurion as the words of the martyr echoed through his ears and his mind’s eye. You shall wait here until I return.
He knew he could stop this. To cut this man, spirit, or god from his cross and execute Pilate in the name of the Caesar. Such was in his power. Instead, he did nothing, trapped outside his own body and paralyzed as a spectator to the cruel atrocity before him. He wanted to scream. He wanted to end this. But he stood motionless and staring, powerless even to form words.
Then, with a deep exhale, all remaining life and spirit fled from the body, and the now vacant head slumped forward. This criminal, charlatan, madman, martyr, priest, prophet, king, messiah, deity, or any combination that he may truly be, was now dead.
The centurion stirred, snapping from his trance with a shake of his head. He waved his hand, signaling the guardsman to proceed with their mauls to hobble the legs of the accused, expediting their grim demise. They halted before Jesus, glancing back to the centurion and somberly shaking their heads, reaffirming that life had already fled from the empty body.
“Show me,” the centurion growled, effortlessly tossing a spear to the closest man. There was no tensing or reflexive reaction as the spear drove effortlessly into the holy corpse’s side, only a violent spray of blood. Then, as if mourning, the earth itself trembled, and spasms came in deep sobs.
And as the centurion turned and began his retreat back to the prelate, quietly and to himself, only two words passed through his lips.
Last edited by TheReverend; 08-25-2008 at 10:38 AM..