Oh no! Not another Messiah!
Just what we need. Another bloody Messiah.
The name’s Flatulous. I’m a Roman soldier in Tiberius’s army. I’m stationed here in Jerusalem. My job is to keep the Jews in line, and the gods know those people are always agitating about one damn thing or another. Pontius Pilate is forever downing Medea’s herbal remedies for his migraines. As if I don’t have my hands full dealing with the damn Samaritans.
So the latest thing to rile the Jews is the news that some kid in Galilee is their prophesied Saviour. Third one this week, and it’s only Wednesday. And they’re saying he was born of a virgin. Yeah. As if. I may not be a learned man, but even I know when someone’s feeding her betrothed a major line. Anyway, I hear ol’ King Herod is absolutely ripshit. He, uh, liquidated a bunch of the Jewish boys a few years ago — that was before I joined the army — because he believed one of the prophecies. Why he picked that prophesy to favour I’ll never know. Cripes, if he murdered the sons who fit the profile of every Messiah divined from sheep’s entrails or reading the fires, there’d be nothing but Jewish chicks left.
Look, I don’t believe in Messiahs. I was raised in a household that favoured Mars. My brothers were all soldiers, my dad Leprous was a soldier, his dad was a soldier, and his dad was too. Even my mom, though never a soldier, could kick your ass. We had a little altar in one corner of the hovel devoted to Mars. We made burnt offerings and other sweet scents in an effort to gain and keep his favour. He watched over us, too, because no one in the family died in battle except for my brother Scrofulous and that was his own damn fault for converting to that Yahweh guy when he married Rachel bat-Dinah. See what happens when you don’t keep the faith?
I do my job. I’m a good soldier. I don’t rough up the Jews like some of these guys. When they get out of hand I push them back with my spear and a few times I’ve had to use my sword, but I’ve never drawn Jewish blood. I don’t believe in unnecessary violence, which is kind of weird coming from a Roman soldier, I guess. Out here in the hinterlands, our main entertainment is the Jewish priests who keep us laughing with their ridiculous laws for their people. Who could ever trust a god who forbids the eating of a good side of roast pork?
A few weeks ago, three guys on camels showed up asking for directions to Bethlehem. Pretty rich and fancy guys too, all from faraway lands. They were carrying some pretty nice cargo and I offered to send a few guards with them to make sure they didn’t get waylaid en route. They turned me down. They were following this really bright star they said marked the spot of the Saviour. I asked them which Saviour and they didn’t think that was very funny.
You mark my words, no one’s gonna remember this kid a year from now.
When I’m not writing the sort of fiction that will probably earn me at least a good finger-shaking one day at the Pearly Gates, I publish a chapter a week of my new dark fantasy novel Tales From The Anonymous Divorced Witchbabe, which should surely get me a good cussing-out by Saint Peter, if he doesn’t send me ‘downstairs’.