He woke in the cave.
Complete darkness, damp and cold.
Last thing he remembered was thunder,
and the words that died in his throat,
an accusation of betrayal.
Then, a realization: he wasn’t alone.
A slithery voice spoke,
coaxing him toward a chilling calm.
You’ve been abandoned, it said,
another bargain promised, then unredeemed.
Who are you?
Oh, you know who I am,
I’m the serpent you once scorned,
and now, I’m the reason you’ve been reborn.
I’ve brought you back
for a chance to settle the score.
I don’t understand.
I should be in heaven,
at the right side of my father.
Silly, boy. The time for fairy tales is over.
We’ll invent a better one,
together we will rip this world asunder,
just step from this cave
and reveal yourself to the future.
For centuries they’ll war
over whether you lived or died,
over the fact or fiction
of your chosen crucifixion,
never knowing their faith alone
was the greatest of my inventions.
He bowed his head in prayer,
but only silence answered.
So be it, Jesus said.
And he rolled away the stone.