The long dark night of the Passover
As in told elsewhere in the Gospels, Judas sold Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, and the sweet yet mocking smile of Salome daughter of Herod. Some say Judas meant to insult his teacher with the price; others suggest he wished to become a friend to Salome, and a lover and finally in marriage a master of her and her magic. If he truly meant this, he was a fool in addition to being the greatest criminal the world has ever seen.
Jesus was captured, and brought to Pontius Pilate, and then to the Sanhedrin; and Salome through trickery condemned the innocent man of impossible crimes.
The prefect, Pontius Pilate, had Jesus brought to him, and found nothing ill in him. A whisperer said Jesus had called himself god; but the prefect laughed and said: "A god! There is a god in Rome on the imperial throne, and I have seen that god. This man is more fit and erect than the god in Rome; I see no ill in calling him a god as well." Then he added. "Which is merely a jest and I love, worship adore and unconditionally obey the emperor who is god lord and my master amen."
The whisperers then added that many Jews believed Jesus a messiah as well, one who would overthrow the Roman occupation and make the streets of Jerusalem run red with blood --- but Pilate said "Oooh, scary!" and was not concerned, because he had a network of thousands of spies and informers and knew this to be untrue.
Finally, there was a whisper that the Sanhedrin wished Jesus dead for daring to advance theological ideas contrary to all common sense and tradition; ideas that the messiah would be not of the blood of David's male line, and not a king, and not a master of god's chosen people reigning physically in Jerusalem; that the messiah would bring into the kingdom (whatever his kingdom was) uncircumcised barbarians, and dilute the faith of Israel, and have pagan trees set up to celebrate his birth, and adopt the Roman feast of the Sun Invincible for his own praise, and abandon Jerusalem to barbarians, taking the capital of his worship elsewhere, and lie of great pain and sufferings for his enemies in the afterlife; and cause a great number of other ungodly heresies and divisions to come into being.
Hearing this, Pilate sighed, rubbed his temples, cursed a bit, and said: "I don't do theology. Let the priests kill this man if it makes them happy. I do not care." And Jesus was taken away from the prefect and to the Sanhedrin, and Salome took off the disguise of the whisperer, the chief of Pilate's spies, and went with him, green devil eyes sparkling with joy.
The Sanhedrin found Jesus innocent; so Salome told them the prefect had been much angered by the man's insolence and promises of retribution by the masses of his armed, rebellious followers; and as the council did not wish to anger their Roman master, they pronounced that as the man had been brought to them in the middle of the night, in the middle of the great feast of the Passover, breaking several laws of Jewish judisprudence, he was a wicked and ungodly man having made this happen: and hence they would not protest if the prefect would have this impious man killed. To this Jesus said, "That is madness"; but the sentence was already passed and there was no appeal.
Jesus was whipped and thrown into a cell to wait for the morning and the punishment; and while he sat there, praying, his disciples were in disarray as is told elsewhere in the Gospels; and all abandoned him save Peter, who thrice denied him, until a rooster spoke up, amazing his questioners with the pronouncement that though all had abandoned the holy man, yet some would return; and the questioners fled back to their whisperer, and Peter cried and repented.
But in the darkest depth of the night, before there was any sign of dawn, a hooded stranger came to Jesus, and spoke to him between the bars. "All hail the son of man", the stranger said, and lowered her hood --- and lo, it was Salome again.
"Why do persecute me so, woman?" Jesus asked; and Salome laughed.
"Why did you have John, my friend, kinsman and teacher, killed?" he asked; and she laughed still more, her voice cold and terrible in the silence.
"Why do you hate God so?" Jesus finally said; and Salome's laughter was strangled in her throat.
"God!" she sneered. "A fine god to have you rotting here, waiting for death. If you are of god as you say, why don't you pull down this prison and walk out? Show to people you are an ogre of god, and they will follow you."
"You have refuted yourself" Jesus said; and so she had. A violent man will have no willing followers; an ogre gathers no mass.
"Then walk away unseen, slip through the walls as if they were but smoke --- that is easy for any sorcerer, and should be easy for you."
"You have again refuted yourself" Jesus said; and so she had. A man of no substance will not be listened to.
Salome snorted, and said: "Then kill the guards, and kill me, and have yourself let out. I had your friend killed; kill just me, if you can, or reach out and prickle a knife to my throat until they come to let you out." And she tossed a knife through the bars, and presented herself against them, and smiled.
Then Jesus laughed; and Salome was wroth. "What, have I again refuted myself? That cannot be!"
But so it was, for what peace cometh out of violence? What respite out of suffering? There is no such thing.
"Here I sit", Jesus said, "for I can do no else. My father has brought me here; I walk in footsteps that are preordained an aeon of aeons ago. Your mockery, even, was foreseen before the world was made."
"No-one can foresee such a thing!" Salome cried. "No wizard nor witch nor warlock has seen beyond the span of his blood's days --- your boasts refute themselves, you fool, for before Adam there were no men nor warlocks, and nothing to see by."
"Blood is weak", Jesus answered, "the blood of man. But do you deny that the father of all, God Almighty, was in being before the world was made? His blood is eternal, and in it He sees all. Greater than all wizards, witches and warlocks is the one who hath made them all. It is but your ignorance which makes it incredible to you, or do you also deny God Himself?"
And Salome ground her teeth and said: "I do not. But I serve a different god than you, man of Galilee. My god is cold, austere and beautiful, and does not deal with our weaker nature or foolish trappings of rank; she is pure, stern, perfect, with delights and exultation beyond all fleshly blisses. She is the wellspring for all the secrets and the truths of the world; sculpture may catch her beauty, or the life of a flame, but her true numbered glory is beyond all human grasp!"
"Your god is a false one", Jesus said. "She did not save Pythagoras from being crushed under a cube of marble twice his corpulent weight; she did not come to Archimedes as he lay drowning in a bath, sodden and stricken; she did not stop Euclid from adding the ruinous parallel postulate to his work, much to all your deviltry's ruin. Your god is as impotent as those scribbles by which you exalt her."
"Enough!" Salome cried. "You impudent fool! Be you son of god or son of man, no-one shall taunt an adept of the Mathematici like that! Come morning you will die, and there shall be no mercy, nor delay --- away with the axeman and the chamber of screams! To tell all by what power you are overthrown, I shall have you done to death by the foulest and darkest torture my kind has to offer --- you shall be nailed to the sign of addition, that which Romans call the cross, at first daylight!"
And she stormed off, eyes red but dry.
Jesus sat in his cell, prayed, and sighed. "It will be done as you want it, father. She repents not; and through her wickedness shall I be brought to power greater than any before: the power to give men Heaven or Hell by what signs they will follow, and by in which divisions they choose to multiply or decrease."
And the rest was as is told elsewhere: Jesus was done to death on a cross, and rose to the power and glory of God three days later, forever to sit at the right hand of God, giving mercy, justice and love to all mankind.
Of Salome's end no story tells; but no doubt it was a squalid, miserable one, betrayed by her numbers, and bereft of God.