Flies buzz low, irritating his ears. Dust and sand fill every crevice in this arid desert city. As he rubs his eyes and nose, he feels it crusting, slowly dehydrating him from the inside out. How did he ever get here?
Tension fills the courtyard as guards brandishing weapons check their armor. Watching for any sign from the governor’s face that would require immediate action, the centurion’s blood-lusting force is ready to explode onto the scene as soon as the crowd gets out of control. They would be happy to have a distraction or an “official” fight to release pent-up energy.
There could be no rioting today. There was too much at stake in this god-forsaken city—especially for the governor—for everything to dissolve at this point. Too many rebellions have been quelled already for Rome to hear about one more; he knows he has to answer to the Caesar for it all. However, looking around the courtyard at the people gathered, he is careful not to betray his fear-filled thoughts to a single living soul.
He sits at the Stone Pavement in the judgment seat. To his right is the man swirled in controversy whose name has made the city erupt this week. Barely recognizable is the man he questioned just hours previously; his breathing is now raggedly laborious and wet. The soldiers remarkably have kept yet another prisoner on the fine edge between life and death after the scourge, so incredibly methodical and careful they are in their torture.
The soldiers had taunted him, pressing a cursed crown upon his head, letting it pierce his skin. A blood-soaked robe–what color is it, violet?–sticks to bare, opened flesh made by their whips. The noonday sun beats down relentlessly; the smell of death is palpable.
Rivulets of blood drip down the prisoner’s face, hands, and legs, creating a pool upon the clean white marble platform, the sun and the heavens reflecting off of it into the governor’s eyes. He considers the warning from his wife earlier in the day: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal in a dream because of him.”
Is there any way to set this man free without upsetting the razor-edged balance of power in the city? To have at his command so much power and, yet, to feel completely powerless can be a dangerous thing.
The flies buzzing on a nearby platter of fruit seems even louder than before, drowning out the shouts and chaos around him. Hearing the sound of his heart beating in his ears, he sees the throbbing of his own pulse in the veins on his hands. The pressure of the atmosphere seems to be closing in all around him.
Scanning the crowd, bearded men in grand, ornate robes, head coverings, and forehead phylacteries containing small scrolls weave in and around the dirty masses whispering, prompting their shouts. “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king? “ Pilate asks the crowd in disbelief.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests cry back.
“Then take him away!”
Rising from his seat, the governor shrugs his shoulders. He is relieved to have survived the Sanhedrin’s challenge to his authority but afraid of the decision he has made. The words, The King of the Jews, echo in his head.
As he walks to the basin and washes his hands, he shakes his head in wonderment of what has occurred in front of him today, this mockery of justice. Speaking to no one in particular, he murmurs, “What is truth?” as he descends the stairs.
Through the veil, the angels watch in disbelief from their places in heaven.
“Now?!” Gabriel, carefully implores the Ancient of Days, his head looking down and away in awe of the one seated on the throne. Thousands upon thousands of pairs of eyes are fixed up the archangel, the armies of heaven ready to battle the second the answer is given.
Lightening flashes. The sharp thunder claps immediately. His answer, the answer to all of heaven and earth is clear. He will not save his own son from the hands of man.
There could be no other subject to write about for today. As I embarked upon this story, I did not ever expect it to be from Pilate’s point of view. Originally, it did not include the scene from heaven in it.
Special thanks to my Lil Blu who helped me edit this excerpt and tells me I should be writing a fiction book.