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Too Small A Price (standard:other, 1628 words)
Author: A.M. SneadAdded: Oct 10 2002Views/Reads: 2509/1614Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
When a man is condemned to death, he witnesses the vilest side of mankind. Yet also discovers what man was meant to be in the most unlikely of persons- a man condemned to the same fate as himself.
 



Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story

and tried to pull my hand away, but the soldier's foot held it secure.  
I watched in horror as he raised the mallet and brought it down with 
amazing force. 

The spike sank into my palm, crushing down through the small bones of my
hand and nailing me to the cross.  A hoarse scream tore free of my 
throat and my body writhed over the surface of the support beam.  I was 
still screaming when a second spike pierced my left hand.  I writhed 
harder, my hips jerking violently as spit foamed and clogged my throat, 
muffling my cries of agony.  The centurions strapped my arms to the 
beam with ropes, pulling them tight until they cut into my skin. 

Two soldiers I couldn't see, caught my flailing legs and pressed one
foot on top of the other and jabbed a third spike hard against my skin. 
 My chest and hips arched suddenly, fiercely as the spike broke a path 
down through the surface of one foot and then the other, sinking deep 
into the dogwood beam beneath my bottom sole. 

My throat swelled till my screams were little more than choking gargles.


Through the dark haze of pain, I felt the cross rise off the ground and
drop down hard into its slot, jolting my body and tearing from me a 
clear scream this time. 

I watched the blurred crowd draw in closer to the three crosses.  I
didn't know who hung suspended beside me.  The other man I'd met in 
prison- I didn't like him. 

A score of women gathered at the foot of the cross beside me, weeping
for the condemned soul.  My head dropped down against my shoulder and I 
saw one of the women wrap her arms around the base of the support beam 
and press her face against the wood as her body shook with her grief.  
I wondered if she was the man's mother. 

I raised my eyes to the dark sky and prayed for death to take me
quickly.  But I feared death as much as the pain that tormented me.  
What hell awaited me on the other side of that veil? 

I turned my head and watched the stranger beside me.  A sign had been
nailed above his head;  King of the Jews.  The rumors had been true- 
they'd crucified their own king. 

The people's shouts rose powerfully in the air as they slung curses and
accusations at the man.  He looked down at them, not with warranted 
anger and hate, but with an undue compassion I didn't understand. 

His tormented face reflected a love that stung my eyes with tears, and I
heard him plead softly, "Father, forgive them;  for they know not what 
they do." 

The soldiers below us ripped his clothes to pieces, dividing them among
themselves.  And for a carefully stitched raiment, they cast lots to 
see who would possess it. 

The people- whose king he was- stood watching him.  And rulers gathered
close, deriding him.  "He saved others."  One of them shouted harshly.  
"Let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God." 

A roaring laughter rose from the soldiers who had crucified us three,
and threw at him cruel mockings, thrusting up sponges of vinegar to 
quench his thirst.  Then laughing harder when he turned away from their 
offering. 

What has this man done?  I wanted to scream.  But I said nothing as pain
swelled my throat;  he had done nothing.  Somehow I knew this. 

"If you be the king of the Jews."  One soldier shouted.  "Save
yourself." 

I closed my eyes to the scene unfolding below me, but I couldn't close
my ears.  The pain in my body swelled and pulsed until I was sure I 
would lose consciousness.  And as I teetered on that ledge of darkness, 
I heard another voice suddenly hurl curses at the man.  A voice not 
from below, but across from me. 

I opened my eyes slowly and with great effort, and stared through a
bleary haze at the other thief.  His agonized face was twisted with 
rage and hate. 

"If you be Christ."  He cried out viciously.  "Save yourself and us. 
Get us down from here." 

I trembled through my pain.  "Do you not fear God, even now?"  I rasped
thickly, seizing his watery eyes.  "Seeing you are in the same 
condemnation?  We, indeed, have been justly condemned and receive the 
due rewards of our deeds.  But this man has done nothing wrong.  
Nothing!" 

My chest heaved and tears swelled in my aching throat as I looked to the
King of the Jews, rejected and tormented by his own people, and met his 
eyes.  If there had been any doubt in my mind that this man was the son 
of God- it left me in that instant. 

"Lord."  My voice choked uncertainly.  "Remember me when you come into
your kingdom." 

He looked at me through his anguish, and I saw his love- not for me
alone, but for all those who had beaten him, accused him, cursed him . 
. rejected him.  And for all those who would do the same in times to 
come. 

Somehow, though pain twisted his body, a smile touched his lips, caked
with his own blood.  Such precious blood, I realized. 

"I say to you."  He promised softly.  "Today you will be with me . . in
paradise." 

The pain in my body didn't fade, yet the anguish in my soul had been
erased by his words.  And though my body swelled and pulsed with the 
agony of my punishment, it was still too small a price to be allowed 
the assurance of those words. 

And to die- beside the Christ. 

~ The End ~ 

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Snead- Too Small A Price                                                
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