It was the dead of night, silent and heavy. The fresh spring air took me back into dreams of the feasts that my family held each year, when we remember the legendary stories of our people.
Those legends stem back to ancient times, when my people – who were prisoners in a foreign land – escaped their military oppressors. They’d been drained of their honour, abused by the generals, and forced to work long hours without pay. The smell of sweat was entrenched through their clothes, their hair and their body. And at the end of each day they would collapse into bed, on the floor of their house.
These were vivid memories – harsh, unjust, resentful …
And it was the dead of night; these memories lingered through my dreams when I was stormed awake by the sordid marching of rebellious feet. My ears were thrust open by the clanging of swords, garden tools, axes and rustic torch lanterns that echoed their way through the night; up the dusty hill past my open window. Two hundred clumsy feet that cared nothing for social etiquette.
Who would dare to disturb this sacred night with such polluting noise? What sort of insurrection is this, on the day before we relive the legend of our escape? Why should my sleep be broken and my head dazed?
The rabble shuffled on past the village, leaving a wake of restless homes in their path. The smell of murder was in the air – the scent of a haughty and blood thirsty pack lingered.
I slipped out into the darkness, without light, with only my night cloth over me. The dim light from their lanterns gave me direction to follow, and the ambience from the waning moon allowed me a small amount of lit cover to track the commotion, as well as to keep me out of sight.
It was leading up a path, to an orchard like area that is well known for its olives. There, amidst the trees, they stopped, assembled, and with gruff voices they played their game.
A man stepped forward, and kissed another.
I crept closer. What was this play?
The lights of the torches and lanterns almost roar into darkness as the gang make their swoop on this man.
Here, surrounded by violent thieves and dishonest men, a fight breaks out. A sword. A flash of light. And – oh – blood on the ground. One of the thugs had his ear sliced off. And his curly screams shrilled and echoed through the valley below. Then He who was kissed took that ear, and healed that man, and restored his cry.
Awe swept over the gang and their noise flattened.
Then He who was betrayed stepped forward. By now I had crept right into their midst, crouching, cowering. What was to be their next move? How long would this last? Would there be peace and rest, tonight?
Eyes ablaze, looking at each one, the betrayed said, “It’s me you want. Let these men go.” Eleven others scattered off into the darkness, chased away by the gang and bloodthirsty mob.
And that’s when they sprung me.
From my safe position, the thieves chased these others away, and when they saw me cowering they thought I was one of them.
Two, no three, body masses lunged on top of me. I could smell the wine on their breath. They were drunk. And angry. I was sure to die.
From under the pack I wrestled free; they took my shirt, my night clothes, tearing it from me as I ran for the shelter of my home. And that’s where I left them. I feared for my life, my safety, my security. They wanted blood, and they were going to get it.
I heard, later, that rabble return down the hill, breaking the heavy night silence once again. Stirring the fear of slavery, punishment and death through my dreams as I cried myself back to sleep. I had only narrowly escaped.
They wanted it all.
They wanted their own sacrificial lamb and now it seems they got One.