Judas knelt down next to the straw pallet where his daughter lay. She was sweaty, her eyes rolled into the back of her head from the fever. His wife sat crying in the corner of the room with her feet tucked under her, covered in dirt. She hadn’t been to the well for water in two days for fear that Sarah would die while she was gone. There was no water for cleaning her feet, not that she would’ve focused on such an insignificant detail when her daughter was dying in front of her eyes.
There was a sudden knock on the door of the hut. Judas looked up sharply and hastened to shush his wife’s gasp at the harsh noise that rang out.
“Shhh, my dear wife. Comfort Sarah.”
“Don’t answer. You know what they want.”
“God will protect us.”
Judas stood and patted his wife’s shoulder before he answered the knocking. The two centurions standing behind the door held their spears in their right hands. Their helmets were plumed in red bristles in a sharp contrast to the brassy metal of their breastplates.
“You are Judas Iscariot.”
It was not a question.
“I am. What do you want?”
“You have ignored the governor’s orders for one week. We have come to take you to him.”
“Please, I cannot go. I must take care of my daughter.”
Judas stepped aside and gestured at the soldiers to look upon the scene of his wife and daughter, two contrasting figures of size and health. The soldiers stepped back from the doorway as the stench of sickness overwhelmed them.
“Please, can’t you see I need to tend to her?”
The taller centurion scoffed.
“Why don’t you just get your miracle friend to heal her? Does he not think one of his best disciples deserves his ‘healing touch’?”
Disdain dripped from the Roman’s voice. Judas remained calm.
“Do you not think I know you have been watching my house? I will not ask him to endanger himself. I will find another way for my daughter to get help. God will provide.”
The centurion moved his hand under his pleated leather battle dress and jingled a bag of what sounded like heavy coins.
“God will provide? What of real masters instead of this heresy? What of the salvation of earthly troubles through something real and tangible?”
The centurion moved the coins around in the bag, waiting for a response to still the clinking. Sarah coughed heavily and Judas started back to her as the centurion spoke.
“There is a man in Jerusalem who can save your daughter. He heals with medicine instead of a laying of hands. He is expensive but…”
My daughter or my lord?
The dinner table was filled with meats and wines that the twelve men enjoyed heartily as they discussed their recent trips throughout Jerusalem and the surrounding lands.
“Jesus, please, I must speak with you.”
The son of God set down his cup and stood.
“Yes, my friend, please walk with me. The rest of our group can follow us and enjoy this night, for we know not what tomorrow will bring and I wish to spend such a beautiful night with those who are dearest to me.”
The two men began walking through the garden. Judas’ unease was evident as he wrung his hands and glanced around the garden.
“Tell me, Judas, when will you bring me to your daughter?”
“Jesus, that is what I must speak with you about…”
Judas’ eyes met Jesus’ as he turned to plead with. The eyes of the savior of the world were sad.
“Did you not trust that God would provide, my friend? Did you not place your faith in Him?”
“Jesus, I am sorry.”
One of the other disciples realized what was happening and stepped forward to grab Judas’ arm.
“Judas, what is the meaning of this?”
The priests rounded the corner of the pathway and stopped in front of the group of men. Judas’ eyes filled with tears and he leaned to kiss Jesus’ cheek.
John ran to find Judas. He was standing in a field under a tree, facing towards the coming sun.
“It was you, the devil incarnate. How could you betray our Lord?!”
Judas’ face twisted with grief and pain as he turned to face his oldest friend. John was sobbing.
“He is dead, nailed to a cross with the thieves! And you are here! Why, why did you do this?”
Judas pulled the bag of thirty silver pieces from his person and tossed them to the ground.
“For Sarah. She was sick.”
Judas’ tears fell freely.
“And where is your Sarah now? Where is your manifestation of betrayal with no remorse?”
“Hopefully she is with our Lord. She passed this morning. Please, take this money! Take it from me. I have betrayed my Lord and the punishment I have received is still not enough…”
John turned and left Judas.
The rope Judas used was short and frayed. He had to climb the gnarled tree to hang it. As he placed the noose around his neck, before he gently slid from the branch, he called out to the God he hoped would have mercy on his soul.
His feet swung back and forth gently. As they slowed to a stop, the sound of a rock sliding away from a tomb echoed in the distance.
This story was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s MasterClass assignment to write about an antagonist, perhaps from his point of view. Judas is one of the most despised people in the Christian world, and the name Judas is synonymous with evil and betrayal. “Proditor” is Latin for “betrayer”.