Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Easter Short Story Series - Part I

Alright, I confess, I have been putting this off for a long time, but here it is:
A short story series set in the time of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I hope you all enjoy!
Please feel free to tell me what you think of this, to leave constructive criticism, and to tell me how wonderfully incredible my writing is!

Okay, you don't have to do that last one.  But, seriously, let me know what you think!  A word of warning: this first bit is rather long...

And now, on to Part 1.

       “Father!  Into Your hands… I commit… My spirit!”

       He could still feel the quaking earth under his feet; great thundering crashes still resounded in his ears as rocks were split.  The darkness that had, for three hours, cloaked the land in a seemingly physical way haunted him yet.
       “It is FINISHED!”
       Even worse, he could still hear that anguished cry reverberating through his very being.  Everything within him cried out for relief.

"Surely this man was innocent...
"Truly... He was the Son of God."

       He had said it himself.  And now, as he recounted the unimaginable events of yesterday, Servius could make no sense of it.
The tall, well-muscled Roman pushed himself to his feet suddenly, angry at the confused and disarrayed emotions that threatened to break him, stealing his sleep and turning him into a weeping wreck.
Pacing the length of his quarters rapidly, he ran trembling hands through his short, black hair, then jerked them down to stare at their scarred, callous palms.  Chest heaving, he glared at the shaking hands.  Why should he need to make sense of such things?  They were nothing more than the matters of those infernal Jews.
Servius clenched his fists and grit his teeth.  Whipping his head up, he set his jaw and stared fiercely out the single window of his room.  He was a soldier of Rome!  And a Centurion, no less!  Nothing should shake him, nothing!
A sharp knock at the door provoked a startled jump from the man; he turned sharply, heart pounding in his ears.  Alarmed, he looked down at himself, clad only in his tunic and Centurion’s belt.  He could only imagine the state of his sleepless face.
“Sir?  Centurion Martinus?”
Roughly smoothing his hair, Servius faced the window and clasped his hands behind his back, clearing his throat.
“You may enter,” he called out as strongly as he could manage.
The door creaked open and a young legionary peeked in somewhat nervously.  Servius remained pointedly unmoved.  Stepping in the rest of the way, the soldier bowed shortly, yet respectfully.
“Sir, the Jewish priests and Pharisees have come to make a request of Pontius Pilate.  The governor summons you to accompany him.”  Servius exhaled quietly.
“Very well,” he spoke quietly.  “You may leave.”  The man bowed again then left, shutting the door behind him.  In an instant, Servius was rushing about, throwing on his breastplate and greaves, buckling on his gladius, and tucking his crested galea under his arm after splashing cold water on his face.
Soon, he was striding through the corridors of the Praetorium with long, purposeful strides that exuded a strength and confidence he did not feel.  All the while, his thoughts spun right back to the Man, the One whose face continually flashed in his mind.  It was supposed to have been a crucifixion like any other; they were not pretty, but Servius had resigned himself to the necessity of such things long ago.  So why did it seem as though, even now, a strange presence hung over the land, causing people to cast wary glances over their shoulders, to lock their doors securely, and to shudder at nothing in particular?
“Servius Martinus?”
Servius froze in his tracks, realizing he had reached his destination.  Looking about briefly, he shook his head and entered the great, arched doorway to his right.  The hardened, chiseled face of Pontius Pilate greeted him as he hurried to the Roman governor of Judea.  Servius noted the haunted, worn look about Pilate’s eyes with some surprise and sensed his superior do the same.  Neither man mentioned the matter, quickly averting their gazes.
Wearily, Pilate sank down in his chair, a sort of modest throne placed on a raised platform, rubbing a hand over his face.
“These blasted Jews will be the death of me, Servius,” he muttered darkly.  As he had no reply, Servius held his silence, standing motionless by the governor’s side.  Shifting in his seat, Pilate assumed a more professional position and glared at the entry to the Praetorium court, awaiting his expected guests.
“I have little doubt as to the matter they seek to bring before me,” he stated airily, the irate tone of his voice echoing hollowly.  He turned to meet Servius’ curious glance.  “And that is why I summoned you.”  Servius felt a wave of dread well up within him while Pilate turned away.  “As you no doubt recall, the events of yesterday were… unusual, to say the least.”
“That is putting it mildly, sir,” Servius interjected, cocking an eyebrow.  With a shrug that did not disagree, Pilate continued.
“Be that as it may, I have strong reason to believe the Jews mean to inquire of me concerning the Jesus of Nazareth they so desperately wished dead.”
“They have achieved that well enough, what more could they possibly desire?”
“I shall be confirmed soon enough, it seems,” Pilate replied, eying the entryway.  Servius followed his gaze and saw the Jewish priests and Pharisees, in their traditional, religious garb, being led in.
“As you were deeply involved in yesterday’s proceedings, I wish you to assist with today’s,” Pilate murmured quickly in a low voice to the Centurion, keeping his gaze on the approaching men.  Servius narrowed his eyes at the strange, almost joyous, manner with which the elder Jews carried themselves.  One in particular walked slightly ahead of his companions; it was he who spoke.
“Your most gracious magnificence, it is with great pleasure—“
“Keep your poisonous flattery to yourself, Caiaphas,” Pilate interrupted ill-temperedly.  “What is it you want?”
The high priest bowed ingratiatingly, as though unaware of the Romans’ scowling glares.  Servius briefly considered how the old man’s eyes reminded him of a snake.
“Mighty Pontius Pilate, we have come to humbly offer you our deepest gratitude for assisting us in the ridding of our menace, that blasphemous criminal.”  The other elders bowed as well, voicing all at once their thanks and praise.  Resting his chin on his hand, Pilate held up the other dismissively, quickly losing what little patience he had to begin with.
“What do you want?” he repeated firmly, clearly unmoved by their empty praise.  Caiaphas stood straight, serenely folding his arms before him.
“The troublemaker, Jesus of Nazareth.”
“What of Him?”  Pilate demanded angrily.  “He is dead!”  Calmly, Caiaphas proceeded to elaborate.
“We remember that, while He was alive, the deceiver promised He would rise in three days.”  The priest paused, touching his fingertips together and leaning forward.  “Let the order be made for the grave to be secured until the third day, in case His disciples come, take the body, and tell the people He has risen from the dead; for thus, His final deception would be worse than the first.”
Servius furrowed his brow in the silence that followed, and Pilate slowly touched his fingers to his temples, closing his eyes.  Finally, he spoke.
“You have a guard.”  His words came haltingly as he sought to control his temper.  Waving a hand to the exit, he continued in exasperation.  “Go; make it as secure as you know how.  Now, go!  Leave!”
Caiaphas smiled a smile that failed to reach his eyes.  Dipping a small bow, he backed away.
       “Thank you, your excellence.  May your house be ever blessed.”  Pilate snorted as the men left, resting his elbows on his knees and rubbing his head wearily.
“They will be the death of me,” he muttered.  Servius watched the elders disappear from sight then turned to Pilate.
“What do you wish me to do?”  he inquired, hoping, perhaps, his services were no longer needed.  For a moment, Pilate neither answered nor moved.  Finally, he raised his head.
“Keep a close watch on their guard; I want to be sure of no more surprises.”
Somewhat unsure of the order, Servius nodded slowly then left.  Pilate did not watch him go, staring out over the court.  He shook his head in disbelief.
“The Son of God…”


And there you have it.  In case you are wondering, most of my Scriptural reference is from Matthew's gospel.

Well, if you managed to read this far, congratulations!  And thank's for reading.
By the by, I don't quite have a name for this series yet...
Any suggestions?


Ashlin said...

That was very good, Julia! Well written! I can't wait to read the rest of the series. As for names... I'm sorry. I come up blank. =)

Julia Catherine said...

Thank you Lady Ashlin!

Jody said...

Julia, you certainly have a way with detail in your writings. I love it! Great job! Continue on...
In His Grace,

Julia Catherine said...

Thank you, Mum!