We were just following orders

We were just following orders. For you it is a feeble excuse. But, then again, you are not the ones with chains around your ankles, and rags your only possession in this world—you have made sure of that.

We had no choice. We had to do what we had to. Not for fear of Caesar’s wrath, but because we feared the stockade and cat of nine tails more. Check the bloody scars on my back: The Centurions did that if we stepped out of line. Now they were honest to themselves!

I will gladly meet the noose or cross, or whatever punishment you see fit, as though it is an old friend; because I know, deep down, that the gavel fell long before I walked into the docks. Do not expect me to ask for forgiveness, because all of us here know that you have none.

There is no water to clean these bloodied hands. That is your privilege now, a spoil you reap as the victors, while we, the vanquished, are turned into an example of moral evil. Consigned to history as the murderers of Christ, and nothing more. Scriptures will suffocate my voice as though they speak for me.

Take my mouth and use your words! I care little. You send me to the Gods knowing that you are no better than me. You, who betrayed your master for only a sliver of silver coin! Or you, who doubted your God and yet stayed beside his lap! And you! Where was your devotion when He was crucified?

Sinners all!

You only finish what was started on that hill. End this pain and let me free!

Kill me!

From The Archives, ‘We were just following orders’ was written as a one-off microfiction while taking the remake/remodel module–a unit that got students to remake, remodel, and reimagine texts, both old and new. The module motivated us to even alter stories from the Bible, so I had a go at it!

The microfiction is a whole ‘what if?’ experimentation, imagining the aftermath of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ with a Nuremburg Trial, ‘Banality of Evil’ slant; in this story, we hear the last words of one of the Roman soldiers who stabbed Christ on the Cross, as he is trialled by Jesus’ followers–well, that was my idea of the story’s background, anyway.

What do you think of this? Let me know in the comments below, or by liking this poem. Don’t be afraid of sharing your opinions!

© Thomas Gallimore Barker, 2021



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