The barren plain stretched as far as the eye could see; the sun-scorched crust of the earth broken and parched. The central feature of the vast plain was an ancient wooden cross. No one remembered when it had been erected there. It had just always been. For eons, the plain remained empty with only the occasional visitor coming to marvel at the rough-hewn wooden cross placed in the middle of such a large waste.
The sun beat down on the cross in the plain, and the hot dry winds whipped past it. For millennia, things remained unchanged. Then, one day everything changed, the day He arrived.
The Man was found nailed to the cross. Quickly, word spread, and the plain that had known only the howl of the wind since time immemorial, began to fill with foul denizens from every corner of the Pit. A cacophony of wicked glee rushed through the throngs of evil as they realized the identity of the Man on the cross. Soon the plain was filled with an innumerable amount of beings, some dark and grotesque in appearance, others beautiful. Beings both great and small gathered to see the sufferings of the great Enemy.
The man was naked, battered and bruised. Blood trickled down the wooden beam of the cross and collected in a crimson pool at its base. The sight and smell of blood drove the inhabitants of the Pit into a mad frenzy and they howled in triumph. The sky filled with all kinds of winged monstrosities that blocked out the sun, so vast was their number. The airborne devils swirled in a massive vortex directly above the cross. Occasionally, one of the creatures dared to swoop down to the Man on the cross and tear a piece of his flesh from his body with its sharp talons, much to the delight of the others. Each time this happened, a mighty roar of approval would arise from the mass of creatures gathered on the plain.
The minions of the Serpent jostled and pushed one another for room to stand, so great was their number. The only open space on the field was directly around the cross, for no one dared to get to close to the Man, even now. On the rim of that open space stood the Destroyer, head and shoulders above all the rest. He gripped a pole-arm in his right hand, topped with a wicked-looking serrated blade. Once in a while, one of his underlings would be jostled too close to him and he would viciously swing his weapon to clear space. Not all of them managed to jump out of harm’s way, to which the crimson stain on his blade testified.
The Man on the cross struggled for every breath. His chest heaved with tremendous effort each time he inhaled. The ground his enemies occupied shook with every ragged breath as if the earth were an extension of the Man. Many toppled over and were trampled by their comrades. In bitter defiance, the Destroyer managed to stay on his feet.
The Man spoke. “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
The words rolled like a shock wave across the multitude encircling the cross. They stopped their ears and screamed vile profanities, yet The Destroyer stood silent and unmoved.
The Man inhaled deeply and cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
The assembly responded with roars of delight, revelling in the suffering of the Man on the cross.
“I thirst,” said the Man.
“He thirsts,” someone shouted, grabbing a fistful of the earth and hurling it into the air and stomping on the dry ground raising a cloud of dust. The others laughed and joined in the festivity. Soon, there was such a cloud of dust that the Man choked violently on it as it enveloped the cross. When the dust had cleared, the enemies of God looked upon the Man, now caked in blood and dust, to see if He would dare speak again.
When He said, “It is finished,” a hush fell over the entire gathering. They mulled about uncertainly as the earth suddenly stopped trembling in harmony with the Man’s breathing.
Then the silence shattered as He cried out one final time. “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit:”
The Man’s head slumped forward.
Hesitantly, the Destroyer stepped closer. Nothing else moved except for the thick mass of flying devils overhead, the beating of their leathery wings the only sound.
Then, a brilliant beam of light burst from the sky, cutting into the mass of winged creatures. They were all caught by the light and cast down. By the time they hit the ground, all that was left were smoking husks.
The beam of light continued on completely enveloping the cross and the Man hanging on it. The intensity of its light was so great that the light of the sun was like darkness in comparison. The minions of the Serpent covered their eyes and fell to the ground in terror, all except for the Destroyer, who through the shear power of his will remained unmoved by the spectacle of light.
Just as suddenly as the light had appeared, it vanished. Those gathered around staggered to their feet and gazed at the cross in horror. The Man on the cross raised His head. His eyes blazed with power. There was no more sign of weakness in his face. His body pulled away from the cross as the nails that had held him there disintegrated. A robe of light wrapped itself around his body as He hovered there above His enemies, majestic and free.
The Destroyer backed up a step and raised his weapon, which crumbled to dust in his hands.
The Man started to descend. The multitude prostrated themselves on the field, cowering in dread.
As the Man’s feet touched the ground, the Destroyer’s knees buckled and he, too, fell to the earth trembling in terror.
The Man, who had been on the cross, He alone stood victorious on the vast plain that day, his enemies grovelling before him.
© Peter Wiebe 2012