Historical Fiction Christian

A single iron nail holds a fluttering piece of thick, stiff parchment to an upright wooden beam. The parchment shows pale in the darkness of oncoming evening.

Cold wind blows suddenly, and the parchment is torn from its anchor like a desiccated autumn leaf from its tree.Β 

The parchment drifts to the ground, but is whisked along over earth and stones dark with drying blood. Some of the substance stains the parchment.Β 

This place is empty of the living. Few living persons want to linger in this place of death.Β 

Skidding down an incline, the parchment’s path is blocked by a stone wall. The fitful wind sends it sailing along beside the massive blocks of stonework, until the parchment comes to a gate.Β 

Roman soldiers stand guard at the entrance to the city of Jerusalem. This gate is closest to the execution site, the Place of the Skull, Golgotha.Β 

The soldiers are uneasy, shifting on their feet, gripping the hilts of their gladius swords. Their sharp gazes follow all who pass in and out of the gate. A riot was threatening to break out several hours ago, and the soldiers are still on alert, keeping an attentive eye out for trouble.Β 

They ignore the parchment blowing past their sandaled feet and into the city. It causes them no trouble.

The streets of the great city are oddly deserted. For the local people, the holy day begins at sundown, and will last until sundown of the next day. The laws of their holy day require they avoid work and travel, and gather to hear readings from their holy books and listen to the teachings from their scholars and priests. What’s more, this is a great feast of this land’s people. There are many visitors who have traveled to the city to celebrate it. The law dictates that the men travel to Jerusalem and offer sacrifices in their God’s only temple three times a year.

The parchment sails on through the city, past homes and shops and inns.Β 

Inside the great temple of Jerusalem, worshippers and priests are shaken.Β 

Besides the uncanny darkness that overshadowed the whole city in the afternoon, there was an earthquake. The shaking cracked the very foundations of the magnificent temple of God, and some saw the heavy embroidered purple curtain, which veils the Holy of Holies, tear in half from top to bottom. No man can reach the top of that curtain. And now, the Holy of Holies, where the most sacred offerings are made only once a year by the High Priest, is visible to all.Β 

And still stranger things have happened. Some claimed that they saw the bodies of the dead risen and speaking to them. Deceased family members appeared, admonishing them for their part in the death of an innocent man.

For a hand in His death they indeed did have. The priests now try to hide their fear and reassure the very people they earlier incited to demand His death.Β 

The notice sweeps past the feet of the temple guards, and on through the streets, with a cold moaning of wind and rattle of stiff parchment. It rattles over the stone pavement of the judgment seat, Gabbatha, and the concourse outside the Governor of Jerusalem’s palace. His wife is in her room, unable to escape the terrible forebodings from the dream she had earlier. She told her husband to have nothing to do with that man, the one he had scourged until you could hardly tell He was a man. She gifted the poor man’s mother a long sheet of linen, hoping He would live, and the linen could be used as bandages to bind up His terrible wounds.Β 

It was used as His shroud.Β 

The Governor sits in the palace, staring at his hands. He washed them in the sight of the mob, proclaiming he had washed them of the man’s blood. He then condemned the innocent man to death by crucifixion. No one but a Roman official could mete out a death sentence. What else could he do? There would have been a riot, and they were accusing him of being an enemy of Caesar. He would have been deposed and punished if a rebellion broke out.Β 

He wrote out an inscription and sent it with the condemned man, ordering it be hung on the man’s cross, the instrument of His torture and death. The local priests, the ones who wanted the man dead, had come and personally complained to him, demanding he change what he had penned. He refused. What he had written, he had written.

The parchment tumbles on, to the building which holds the room where the dead man ate his last meal. His mother and His friends are coming back to it, gathering together to comfort each other in their grief as they return from burying Him.Β 

The sorrowful mother notices the paper, and stoops to pick it up. Recognizing it, she presses it to her heart in remembrance of her son. Then a gust of wind lifts it from her weak and trembling hands.Β 

The parchment is pulled up into the air as if by invisible hands, and soars over the ancient stone city.Β 

The parchment spirals back to earth in a private courtyard. The stones echo with footsteps in the quiet evening, and someone halts as they notice it. Curious, the person bends, picks it up, and straightens the crumpled message. The tattered edges are stained dark.

It is written in the scripts of the three most common languages of the area, ensuring any literate person who lives here will be able to read it. Hebrew, the language of the locals; Greek, a common language of the known world; and Latin, the official language of the Roman Empire. The message it bears is known at least in passing by all in the city. It was impossible not to hear at least a rumor of the commotion.Β 

Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum.

Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.Β 

March 09, 2024 02:34

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Michelle Oliver
13:49 Mar 09, 2024

Powerful writing. I loved the retelling of the events between the death and resurrection, and how a single pieces of paper connected the scenes and provoked us with an insight into the minds and hearts of each person. Well done!


Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Michelle! I loved exploring the idea of what might have happened to the inscription.


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Thank you for reading. Critiques, feedback, and comments are greatly appreciated.


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