Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Short Story Series - Part 4

Yes, I am posting the next part!
I apologize ahead of time for any mistakes within the following.
It is late.  And I am going to get some sleep now...


The busy streets of Jerusalem were quiet. Families had retired to their homes for the night and were resting and visiting on the flat rooftops of their houses. Occasional conversations drifted on the gentle breeze, sounding as faint murmurs to the distant ear. Except for the infrequent straggler, traveler, or Roman soldier, the streets were empty.
Cautiously, Nicodemus cracked open the door, peering warily into the darkened ways. Deeming it safe enough, the old Jew slipped out and carefully shut the door, whispering a quick farewell as he exited.
“God bless and keep you and yours, Joseph.” With that, he hurried away, gathering his robes about him. As he guardedly picked his way through the winding streets of the Upper City, sometimes passing through a little used alleyway, and sometimes striding along a wider, well-worn street, Nicodemus found himself recalling his last after dark experience.

“Truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Suppressing a short chuckle, he slowly shook his head in amazement, pausing in the deep shadows of a building. Who could possibly have thought so much should have happened since then? And, Oh! How beautiful those words had become!
Nicodemus took a step forward, only to quickly draw back into the shadows as a work-weary man plodded by close enough for him to hear the steady rasp of breath; a donkey followed close behind, lead rope in the man's hand. Patiently, Nicodemus waited a few long moments before he chanced to continue.

credit google

“For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

The words rang as clear and true in his mind as they had on that night. Nicodemus' heart swelled within him; it failed to cease to amaze him. All that time ago, Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God Himself, had spoken those words to him, knowing He would suffer, die, and rise again in three days! Nicodemus gave a little hop-skip he was certain was unbecoming of his age and rank, but he could not contain his joy. Smoothing his robes hastily, he continued on his way in a more dignified manner.
However, as he turned a corner onto a street that would take him straight to his home, the old man slowed his pace, his eyes fixed warily on the shadowy form of a tall man in Roman garb not twenty paces from him. Nicodemus found himself stopping completely, sensing, somehow, the man was indeed waiting for him.

* * * 

Servius advanced a step forward, facing the Jewish leader in an almost defiant way. He fought to control the feelings of confusion, helplessness, and despair that threatened to tear him apart.
“I need answers.” He spoke plainly, the harsh, cold tone of his voice masking the torrent of emotions at war within him. He saw Nicodemus eye the sheathed gladius at his side, shifting uncertainly before he slowly moved forward.
“Why don't you come in,” the old man replied quietly, surprising Servius as he guardedly walked by him, gesturing to his home. Servius remained unmoved for a moment, prompting Nicodemus to pause and glance back once he had gone a couple paces forward.
“It is best to speak within closed walls these days.” Nicodemus spoke slowly and deliberately.  Servius could feel the man's eyes studying him intently, searching for a purpose.
Hesitatingly, the Roman followed Nicodemus, no longer certain whether or not he truly desired to know the answers to his many questions.


Eitan's legs felt weak as he scaled the steps of the temple, something he had done so many times before. Keeping his eyes down, he focused on his feet, watching each step come and go with an uncommon interest. The heavy bag at his side occasionally gave a metallic clash that seemed to echo starkly in his worn mind.
There was little movement within the temple. The Levites on night duty were the only people within sight, and then, one only caught sight of them as they passed through to accomplish some required service. Eitan had been waiting outside the temple all evening long. The man he sought had not yet left, and he knew that, even now, he was still within the building.
Eitan slowed to a walk, his legs suddenly weak. Breathlessly, he leaned against the wall, fighting the worry and guilt that had plagued him ever since that fearful morning. He caught his breath as footsteps echoed hollowly about the temple. Nearer and nearer they sounded until Eitan feared they should walk into him. Stepping out from the shadows, he found himself face to face with the man he sought.
Caiaphas looked startled for a moment at the sudden appearance of the young guard, but he quickly composed himself and met his eyes curiously.
“I gather you have come to see me... Eitan, is it?” The high priest's tone was sickeningly kind and fatherly in Eitan's ears. “How may I help you?”
“I can't do it.” For days, Eitan had thought of the right way to say it. Now, he was too broken and torn to truly care. Caiaphas narrowed his eyes. Eitan was reminded of a snake.
“What do you mean, boy? Speak plainly!”
“I can no longer lie about what I saw that morning,” Eitan blurted, his heart pounding in his ears. “Do what you want with me.” Hastily, he took the weighty satchel of coins and tossed them at Caiaphas' feet. They fell with a resounding clash. “I will spread your lies no more!”
For a moment, Caiaphas stared down at the money while Eitan stood breathless and pale. Slowly, the high priest raised his eyes, frightening Eitan with their cruel, cold intensity.  Folding his hands calmly in the sleeves of his robe, Caiaphas fixed his gaze on the young man.
“Very well.” His voice was low and quiet, yet somehow menacing. “Do as you please.  However, should the Romans ever come for you, you may expect no protection from the council.” As he continued to speak, his voice rose to a threatening pitch, chilling Eitan and causing him to take a step back. Caiaphas glanced down at the money then gestured to it carelessly.
“Your little show means nothing to me,” he sneered. Cocking his head to one side, he smiled eerily. “The last man to return my fair payment hung himself.”
Eitan ran.


Click here to find:
Part 1          Part 2
Part 3


Ashlin said...

Great writing, Julia. You've done it again. I loved the end.

Julia Catherine said...

Thank you so much, Lady Ashlin!