Just History...

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Never had his men seen him so impatient. He was furious, pacing back and forth in the room, slightly bowed, hands behind his back waiting for his order to be executed.
-Bring them before me, now!
His guards rushed to the dungeons to bring the three men who had arrived at dawn all staggering, dusty and sweaty, with hazy eyes as if they had spent the night in a tavern where the Emperor’s soldiers would get drunk.
-I hear you were in your cups, right?
This was his first question as they were brought before him, like scary puppies. With bowed heads, sealed lips, they avoided his stare.
-You deserters! Look me in the eyes. If at war, I would slay you now with my own hands. Just tell me the truth; then, I’ll decide your fate.
He turned to the oldest one, the tesserarius in charge of the night watch.
-Tell me, why did you leave your post and return drunk?
-Show mercy, Prefect! It is not our fault. Yes, we overdrank. The centurion himself offered each one of us a flagon of wine. This is on the Augustus, he said. That’s what always happens after the dirty work. Most of us can’t stand it. We can neither eat nor sleep. We dread the shadows of the tortured dead that will come back to haunt us in the over and underworld.
The Prefect sat on his curule chair. He was brought a silver bowl of water and a towel. He seemed upset. His rage was overflowing.
But suddenly he felt an urge to hear their story. He would hold his temper. He really had to know. Rarely did he thrust for truth. Experience had taught him to tolerate the lies of his subordinates, especially those proving their fear of him. He was confident about his might and intellect. He could easily spot liars. That way, he was in control and could handily remove any undesirables by simply recalling a past lie. He washed his hands in the silver bowl and wiped them, while his voice grew softer.
-Talk to me. Fear not. What I want is the truth and nothing but the truth. Tell the truth and nothing will happen to you. I give you my word, which, in this corner of the world, is the same as Caesar’s.
The tesserarius named Varvius spoke on behalf of everyone again.
-We were just a few steps from the stone. Tired and drunk, we leaned back and may have slept awhile. I felt something nearby and sprang up scared. The moon had risen. I saw him a bit further bathed in a luminous mist. For a moment he seemed like an apparition that suddenly transformed into a body of flesh and blood. I woke up Veturius and the other guy and we ran towards the stone that sealed the tomb. By Zeus, I swear it was intact, not moved at all. It is only through that stone that he could pass. Removing the stone was hard, but fear and curiosity kept us going. I looked inside first. He was standing there, his aureole mixed with the moonlight. My feet could no longer hold me; I kneeled. So did the rest, I believe. When I got back to my senses, I looked behind me. I froze of fear. He was standing in the very same position as I had seen him a short time before. Yes, I saw him. He was the same person both inside and outside the tomb. I blacked out and fell on my knees again. When I came round, it was already too late. He, or should I say they, had vanished.
The Prefect was losing his patience. But he restrained his anger, stood up and approached the young tesserarius. He spoke slowly with a low voice.
-Enough with the ghosts and dreams. Spare me the fairytales that you legionaries say in the taverns. Just tell me the truth.
Who unsealed the tomb before you saw all those fantasies? Was the crucified man inside, dead or alive?
He gave him a fiery look, sat down and washed his hands again.
-The stone was unmoved. I remember us sealing it firmly. Nothing could enter or exit the place. But I can’t say whether he was dead or alive. Other soldiers had brought him to the tomb. Our task was to guard and prevent his friends from stealing the body. Your Highness, I know of nothing else, please have pity on us. When the time comes, let the gods punish us for all the sins we committed in the name of Rome and the Emperor.
The Prefect unleashed his anger. He threw the bowl away, approached the young man as the veins in his neck were popping out and shouted at his face.
-Are you playing with me? Are you fooling with the Caesar’s representative? Because if you do, you are making a fool of Caesar himself.
For a while he stood pensive. His anger was subsiding.
-When, O Catiline, do you mean to cease abusing our patience?(1) Ah! Reason. Divine Cicero would you ever abide such lies written down in History?(2) Enough is enough! No more lies. Tesserarius, you will tell the truth exactly as I will dictate it. Either it goes down in history as I say, or you’re doomed. Only a weak person has to lie. I am a man of power in Judea. I am the Authority. Why should I lie when I can invent the truth? Think hard young man. Probabilities direct the conduct of the wise man.(3) Well, will you tell the truth? There are only two possibilities: yes or no.

footnotes:
(1)Cicero’s quote against the conspirator Catiline
(2) Reference to Cicero’s quote: “the first law for the historian is that he shall never dare utter an untruth”
(3)From De Natura deorum, by Cicero, one of the few who referred to atom, probabilities and randomness up to that era.

About the Author: 
Writer of 4 books (published in Greece) of short and very short stories, some of which he likes to call "quantum stories".