Who murdered their saviour? Just hell! Judas clenched his teeth, his lips compressed, as he tried to force back a groan. He stuck fingers into his eardrums to stop himself from hearing the frequent yelling from the crowd: “Die now! Or save yourself! You’re the son of God! Come down the cross! You die! You impostor!”
His misty eyes plunged far ahead, unblinking, at a man, bloodied and battered, the recipient of those heated yelling, as he hung down a cross sheathed in the rocks of Golgotha, alongside two more bawdy and irrelevant men—one on his both sides—and a litter of red-capped Roman infantrymen parading the dreaded land of skulls—the name the Judean rebels ascribed to Golgotha.
The hanging man, most pitiful of the world … a gory and crimson halo framed his head; a few dozen striped gashes jammed across his body like many extended and slightly parted lips. His two arms laid spread out, like in a readied embrace, and tied with threefold cords. Nails glued them to the cross. His foot, too. No flow of blood; and the bloody residue was a splash of drying and black blood. His bare chest heaved on with some good deal of force. Eyes parted and he shot a look at Judas, who stood forlorn among the crowd of those who has condemned him.
Judas caught his gaze at once. His lips shuddered as he placed a trembling hand onto his chest. He shook his head and a sob escaped his compressed lips. The hanging man still gazed at him through a pair of bloodied eyes. Judas took a step backwards, shaking his head frantically. “Je—sus! . . . My . . . saviour!” He retreated another step, then another. Then another. From the victim of his own world record betrayal. He, a man who sold out his master.
Another backward step he took earned him a shove from someone among the crowd of onlookers; he struck his hip onto a small rock. He winced. This was nothing compared to what he already put his saviour through. His Lord. Lord, I will suffer the fate of the son of perdition that I am.
His teeth clenched, he jolted to his feet. He wouldn’t take anymore look at his dying saviour. Rather, he would cut the existing link in sunder. He staggered backwards, and turned to leave. A step, first, then another.
Judas! Come back to me. There remains a chance, still.
He winced at that calm, yet imposing voice that now invaded his mind. He heard it several times before now: at the Last Supper in a old inn in Jerusalem; at the resurrection of Lazarus in Hechem’s tomb in Bethany; at the resurrection of Jairus’ dead daughter; at the feeding of the five thousand; and at the sermon on the mount, where Jesus had first impressed him greatly. He shook his head and gritted his teeth. No reason to return. Jesus! There’s no hope for me. I’m a son of perdition.
A low brick pavement laid before him, and a crow hopped about on it. He raised a leg to walk over the pavement. The crow flew away, then a loud cry, clearly seasoned with grief and a resolute tinge of accomplishment, blared across the skies. “Father! Into your hands I commit my spirit!” Judas flinched at the cry. He darted a pained look behind, gawking far at his hanging saviour, Jesus, whom he put up there, courtesy of a kiss of betrayal.
Jesus, the prophesied Messiah of Israel, yet a deranged impostor to all them boneheaded Pharisees, Sadducees, and scribes, whenever in company of his twelve minions, appeared unidentifiable, except he stood out by healing many demonised, resurrecting the shades in Hades, and asserting his being his father’s son. He, Judas, thought he could make a living by selling this shady man out to his haters. Now, he pointed him out with a kiss—the agreed token of betrayal—and sold him for 30 silver materials, and now he hung there. . . . No. He gave up the ghost already. Seeing this alleged shady man with his divine imposition on that cross just changed his mindset. He betrayed the Son of God. His saviour. His God.
Lighting struck. Then the retreating sun dimmed off as though covered by the mighty hand of God. A tremor rocked the hills of Golgotha and the Colosseum housing Caesar, the fatuous Emperor Tiberius, who went in search of a new company of sexual toys. Right here, the dispersing crowd of Jesus’s conspirators, persecutors and sympathisers bumped into one another, then staggered, then bumped into him, Judas, trampling on him as they scampered away from the cracking grounds of the mount of skulls.
Judas gnashed his teeth and dug his fingers into his hair—his turban headband already fell off in the stampede—forcing out a dishevelled appearance. “Let me die damned!” His roar melted into the prevailing noises of the yet confused crowd.
Darkness still ruled Jerusalem, or maybe the world, after almost an hour. Judas dashed into the office of the Chief Priest. He thumped a bag of silver onto the feet of the waning old bearded man, forcing him to puff a yelp. Serves him right! “This is the money that made me a killer of my saviour. This is what made me damned. What made you forever damned!”
The darkness from earlier in the day now melted into the night. From a oak tree behind the house of Jason, where Jesus had eaten with his minions last night, Judas plunged down, a threefold cord strapped round his neck. A crimson fluid dripped down his forehead. A young eyewitness said a man in white painted that on him. But one thing remained strange about this dead traitor. His lips stuck out and his eyes bulged, even in death. One of the twelve minions of Jesus saw this and murmured. “Was he mocking his victim?”
© Elisha Oluyemi
About The Author
Oluyemi Elisha grew up in Ogun State, Nigeria. He is a creative writer, and presently an English Language undergraduate. He began writing as a teenager, and has contributed a number of poems to literary journals including Nnoko Stories, UpWrite Nigeria and Spillwords.
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