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Authors: Steven Savile

Silver

BOOK: Silver
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Copyright © 2010 Steven Savile

All rights reserved.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and should not be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For more information e-mail all inquiries to:
[email protected]

 

Variance Publishing

1610 South Pine St.,

Cabot, AR 72023

(501) 843-BOOK

www.variancepublishing.com

 

Library of Congress Catalog Number—
2009942288

 

ISBN: 1-935142-05-4 

ISBN-13: 978-1-935142-05-8 

 

Cover Illustration by Larry Rostant

Jacket Design by Stanley Tremblay

Interior Layout by Stanley Tremblay

 

Visit Steven Savile on the web at:
www.stevensavile.com
.

 

10     9     8     7     6     5     4     3     2     1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The people in my life are worth so much more than this, but this is the best of me and I give it with love to

 

Mum, Dad, David, Sonia, Sarah, Amy and Marie

 

Everything I do is either for you or because of you.

I guess that means you have a lot to answer for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ACKNOW
LEDGEMENTS

 

 

A few good men and women helped make me look a lot smarter than I really am. To those unsung heroes in the trenches a simple thank you is never enough:

 

Jim Sowter • Deborah J Stevenson • Kurt Criscione

Sonia Helbig • Shane Thomson • Stan Tremblay

 

And of course Tim Schulte, for deciding to unleash this monster on an unsuspecting world.

 

Then there are those who help keep us sane while we lock ourselves away in the local café, hammering out our mad plans. So to those people who come bearing coffee and smiles:

 

Sandi • Milo • Pierre • Siba

Rima • Kim • Jacob

 

You guys feed my soul. Without you Silver would have taken years to write. It's amazing what caffeine can do!

 

Silver owes a debt of gratitude to too many great musicians to name, but, to one in particular, James Grant, thank you not only for the decades of good listening but for so graciously providing Noah a soundtrack for his midnight drive through London.

 

And last but by no means least, friends, Romans, and countrymen:

 

Stefan Lindblad • Steve Lockley • Kevin J Anderson

Stel Pavlou • Brian M Logan

 

Life would be pretty dull without you guys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1

 

 

Pieces of Hate

Then
-
The Testimony of

Menahem ben Jair

 

 

One garden had a serpent, the other had him.

There was a fractured beauty to it; a curious symmetry. The serpent had goaded that first betrayal with honeyed words, the forbidden fruit bitten, and the original sin on the lips of the first weak man. His own betrayal had been acted out from behind a mask of love, again on the lips, and sealed with a kiss. Both betrayals were made all the more ugly by the beauty of their surroundings. That was the agony of the garden.

Iscariot felt the weight of silver in his hand.

It was so much heavier than a few coins ought to be. But then they were more than a few coins now, weren’t they? They were a life bought with silver. They were his guilt. He closed his hand around the battered leather pouch, making a fist. How much was a life worth? Really? He had thought about it a lot in the hours since the kiss. Was it the weight of the coins that bought it? The handful of iron nails driven into the wooden cross that ended it? Or the meat left to feed the carrion birds? All of these? None of them? He wanted to believe it was something more spiritual, more honest: the impact that it had on the lives of those around it, the sum of the good and the bad, deeds and thoughts.

“Take them, please,” he held out the pouch for the farmer to take. “It’s five times what the land’s worth. More.”

“I don’t want your blood money, traitor,” the man hawked and spat at the d between his feet. “Now go.”

“Where can I go? I am alone.”

“Anywhere away from this place. Somewhere people don’t know you. If I was you, I’d go back to the temple and try to buy my soul back.”

The man turned his back on him and walked away, leaving Iscariot alone in the field. “If that doesn’t work,” he called without turning back, “I’d throw myself on God’s mercy.”

Iscariot followed the direction of the man’s gaze to the field’s single blackened tree. Lightning had struck it years ago, cleaving it down the middle. Its wooden guts were rotted through, but a single hangman’s branch still reached out, beckoning to him against the dusk sky.

He hurled the pouch at the mocking tree. One of the seams split as it hit the ground, scattering the coins across the parched dirt. A moment later he was on his knees, scrambling after them, tears of loss streaming down his face. Loss, not for the man he had betrayed, but for the man he had been and the man he could have been. He lay there as the sun failed, wishing the sun would sear away his flesh and char his bones, but dawn came and he was still alive.

Under the anvil of the sun, he stumbled back through the gates of Jerusalem, and wandered the streets for hours. His body’s screams were sweated out in the heat. There was no forgiveness in the air. No one would look at him. But he couldn’t bear to look at his shadow as it stretched out in front of him, so why should they want to look at him? He deserved their hate. He shielded his eyes and looked up toward Crucifixion Hill. He thought he could see the shadow of the cross, black against the grass. The soldiers had taken the bodies down hours before. The only shadows up there now were ghosts.

At the temple they mocked him as he pleaded with the Pharisees to take back the silver in exchange for his confession and absolution.

“Live with what you have done, Judas, son of Kerioth. With this one deed you have ensured your legacy. Your name will live on: Judas the Betrayer, Judas the Coward. The money is yours, Iscariot, your burden. You cannot buy back the innocence of your soul, and it is not as though you have not killed before. Now go, the sight of you sickens us,” the Pharisee said, sweeping his arm out to encompass the entire congregation gathered in prayer.

He hit Iscariot’s hand, scattering the silver he clutched across the stone floor. Judas fell to his knees, as though groveling at the feet of the holy man. Head down, he collected the scattered cois. The holy man kicked him away scornfully. “Take your blood money and be gone, traitor.”

Iscariot struggled to his feet and stumbled toward the door.

On the road to Gethsemane he saw the familiar figure of Mary seated by the wayside. He wanted to run to her, to fall at her feet and beg her forgiveness. She had lost so much more than the rest of them. She looked up, saw him, and smiled sadly. Her smile stopped him dead. He felt the weight of the coins in his hand. Suddenly they were as heavy as love and twice as cold. She stood and reached out for him. He had never loved her more than he did in that moment. He had gone against so much of his friend’s teachings, but never more so than in coveting the woman he loved. He ran into her arms and held her, huge raking sobs shuddering through him. He couldn’t cry. After all of the tears he had shed he was empty. “I am sorry. I am so sorry.”

She hushed him, gentling her fingers through his hair. “They are looking for you. Matthew has whipped them up into a rage. He hates you. He always has. And now he has an excuse for it. They are out of their minds with grief and loss, Judas. You can’t stay here, or they will kill you for what you have done. You have to go.”

“There’s nowhere left to go, Mary, he’s seen to that. This is his revenge,” he laughed bitterly at that. “I should never
. . .
I am sorry. It wasn’t meant to end like this. All of this because, fool that I am, I couldn’t help but love you.”

“Our god is a jealous god,” she said. She sounded utterly spent. The emptiness in her voice cut deeper than any words could have. She was crying but there was no strength to her tears. “Please, go.”

“I can’t,” he said, and he knew that it was true. He needed to be found. He needed to feel their stones hit. He needed their anger to break his bones. He was finished with this life. The farmer had been right, there was only God’s mercy left to him. But what kind of mercy was that? What mercy did a suicide have with the gates to the Kingdom closed to him?

Judas’ mind was plagued with doubts, it had been for days. His friend had known he would not be able to live with this blood on his hands, yet still he had begged for this betrayal. So perhaps this stoning was actually one final mercy?

“Please.”

“Let them come. I will face them and die with what little dignity is left to me.”

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She wiped away the tears. “Please. If not for me, then for our son,” she took his hand and placed it flat against the gentle swell of her belly.

“Our son,” he repeated, falling to his knees before her. He kissed her hands and then her belly, crushing his face up against the coarse cloth of her dress. The Pharisee’s words rang in his head: Judas the Betrayer. What greater betrayal could there be? He pressed the torn leather pouch into her hands. “Please, take the silver, for the boy, for you.”

He saw the life he had lost reflected in Mary’s eyes. He knew she loved him, and he knew love was not enough. He couldn’t tell her how alone he felt at that moment.

She turned her back on him.

He left her to walk the long road to death.

He had time to think, time to remember the promise he had made, and time to regret it. It was a walk filled with last things: He watched the sun sink down below the trees; he felt the wind in his face; he tasted the arid air on his tongue. He pulled off his robe and walked naked into the garden.

They were waiting for him.

He didn’t shy away from the hurt and hatred in their eyes. He did not try to justify himself. He stood naked before them.

“You killed him,” Matthew said, damning him. They were the last words Judas Iscariot heard. Matthew held a rope in his hands. It was fashioned into a noose.

He welcomed the first stone from James as it struck his temple. He didn’t flinch. He didn’t feel it. Nor did he feel the second from Luke, or the third cast by John. The stones hit, one after another, each one thrown harder than the last until they drove Iscariot to his knees. All he felt was the agony of the garden.

Matthew came forward with the rope and looped it around Judas’ neck.

Judas wept.

BOOK: Silver
9.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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