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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Quantum Leap for Judas: Harmonizing Judas with Dr. Who

I don't know what happened, but somehow blogspot swallowed two of my writings, so I am reposting them.

This short story is a response to a meme established by James McGrath at the Exploring our Matrix blog - who wrote:

"Those who are determined to have the Bible contain no contradictions no matter the cost have devoted countless hours to harmonizing this and similar discrepancies. They seem not to realize that the one convoluted narrative that they piece together from the two is not what either account in the New Testament says. And so what is “inerrant” is their own contrived construction, while the New Testament writings are each on their own left looking inadequate, since they do not give the impression of what the inerrantist thinks “really happened.”"

So the challenge is to to come up with the most creative, outlandish, entertaining or humorous way of harmonizing the differing accounts of Judas' death ( Acts 1:18-19 and Matthew 27:1-10).

This was my science-fiction harmonizing of those stories.

A Quantum Leap for Judas

Judas had already arranged to provide information about Jesus’ whereabouts to the chief priests and they had given him the promised thirty pieces of silver.  He had plans. He had dreams.  One day he’d lead noble and valiant Jewish men in their fight against the imperialist Roman invaders.  But for now he needed a place he could settle, a place he could hide.  Using the silver he’d been paid for his wickedness, Judas bought a field near Jerusalem.  It wasn’t a field fit for farming, the southernmost edge slopped steeply down toward the Kidron valley and the ground was full of sharp grey stones, but it was secluded and shadowed by trees on the opposite cliffs.  He could hide there in the dark.

That fated night came, and so too came the temple guards, who arrested Jesus and took him away for trial. Judas didn’t hang around to watch the proceedings.  He knew the other disciples would want to see him dead – especially Peter.  So he slipped out through the city gates and made his way carefully towards his newly purchased field.

The moon over his head was full and sober, bright with silvery light and heavy with coarse shadows.  Judas walked faster now.  He heard things on the wind. Voices. Voices that seemed to be calling his name.  “Judas”

Running now, Judas fled. And the voices followed after. “Judas”

“No. Leave me alone.” He shrieked and ran still faster.

Other voices spoke but he neither listened to them, nor understood their strange speech. “Doctor, I don’t know what’s happening.  We’ve made contact but there’s some sort of interference. He’s not receiving us.  There’s an unaccounted flux in the tachyon stream.”

Judas rounded a curve in the road and came to the edge of his newly acquired field.  Sweat streamed down his face, through his beard.  He wiped it away with the sleeve of his robe.

“Try once more,” came the incorporeal voice. “Judas Iscariot, can you hear me?”

Judas flinched, and for the first time he noticed a glowing blue mist gathering above his head. “Leave me, unclean spirits!” he screamed and turned to flee into the darkened shadows, but he stumbled over a rock and tumbled down the side of the hill. Sharp stones gashed him, sliced him as he rolled.  Momentarily he was lifted up as he bounced over the stones and then he came down hard on a large rock. It pierced his belly and his intestines trailed out after him as he slid down the bloody gorge.

“Damn,” said the voice in the darkness. “We nearly had him that time.  Oh well, Mr. Wilson, reset the machine and we’ll attempt contact again when the batteries have recharged.”  If Judas had still been alive just then he might have heard the electrical hum and smelled a brief wisp of ozone as the voices faded away.

News of Judas’s death spread quickly through Jerusalem. His body was found by a couple of boys who told their parents.  Soon everyone, it seemed, in Jerusalem called the field Akeldama.

***

It took nearly twenty-four hours to recharge the batteries that powered Dr. Stamford’s device.  Dr. Ellis Stamford had built a machine capable of localizing and capturing a field of tachyon particles, which were then focused into a beam capable of sending signals faster than light. This would result in a disruption in the electromagnetic field and an outburst of brilliant blue Chernekov radiation.  By fine tuning the tachyon fields, Dr. Stamford had been able to open windows into the distant past. 

He hadn’t yet been able to travel through time, but using his device he could observe events from history.  And in recent months he’d even been able to communicate – though tentatively – with people in the past. 

He and his research assistant, Lee Wilson, had decided not to waste the opportunity.  After all, what better way to announce the success of his years of research and study, than by showing the world the life and times of the man whose very life and death had marked the way time was defined?  With his device, he would show the world the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth, and, what is more, allow them the opportunity to speak to him and to those who knew him.

The next evening, having verified that the batteries were fully charged and that all the meters were correctly calibrated, Dr. Stamford and his assistant, prepared themselves for their second attempt at contacting Judas Iscariot.

“Think of it, Wilson,” intoned the Dr. “What if we could persuade him to talk to us, to tell us the things he’s learned?”

Wilson didn’t turn his head away from the meters he was calibrating. “Whatever you say, Dr. S., as long as we’re done by 9:30 tonight.  My girlfriend and I are watching a Dr. Who marathon and I don’t want to miss any of it.”

The machine rumbled and hummed as intense amounts of nuclear and electrical energies began flowing through it.  There was sharp crackle and the smell of burning ozone, and in the incandescent blue fog that rose up in front of them they saw Jesus’ disciple, Judas Iscariot leading the temple soldiers to the garden.

***

“He’ll be just around this grove of trees,” he whispered to the soldiers, who surprised him with how quietly they could move through the darkness.  He hadn’t heard so much as a tinkle or jingle of their armor or a whispered word as they approached Jesus’ favorite part of the garden.

And soon the deed was done.  The soldiers confronted Jesus, Peter hacked the servant’s ear, Jesus restored it and the disciples fled. The guards put Jesus in irons and lead him back through the darkness of the garden and into the city to be handed over to Pilate.

When Judas realized where they were going he was seized with remorse and began yelling at the guards. “No.  Not there!” But they would not be stopped. They shoved him aside and he fell to the ground.  He spat into the dust as they tramped by with their prisoner.

Taking another tack, he raced to the Temple to find the chief priests to whom he’d sold the information of Jesus’ whereabouts.  He would persuade them to stop this madness.

“I’ve sinned.” He said to them. “I’ve betrayed innocent blood.” 

But they were not interested. “What is that to us?”  Judas flung the bag that contained the thirty silver coins into the courts of the temple, and ran out into the night.

Finding a nearby tree, he used his belt to fashion a simple, but effective noose and hung himself.  He never noticed the glowing blue shimmer in the air behind him.

***
“I don’t get it, Dr. S.” Wilson said as he reviewed the data.  We weren’t able to contact him at all this time. And…” he flung his clipboard onto the desk, “it wasn’t even the same event. It was totally different.”

“One moment, please,” shouted Dr. Stamford as he checked and double checked his equations. 

After several moments he looked up from his notebook.  “We weren’t just looking into the past, my boy. We were looking into a different realm of the multiverse.”  Wilson only stared at him. “Come on, boy. Surely a fan of Dr. Who will understand that.”

“You mean it was a different earth?”

“Right, right, right.  A different earth, with a different Judas, and a different Jesus.  Every time an observation is made into the quantum field, that quantum wave collapses and the universe splits into an infinite number of possible universes.”

“Too weird,” sighed the research assistant. And then after a moment he asked, “So which of those was from our earth? Which way did it happen in our history?” 

“I don’t know,” exclaimed the doctor.  “Let’s check.”  The two of them rummaged through the clutter of papers and notebooks and half empty cups of coffee until they’d both found a copy of the bible.  Their fingers flickered over the thin pages.

“I’ve got it here” shouted Wilson. “It says that Judas bought a field, and then fell and busted himself open, spilling his intestines.”

“No, no, no.” said the Dr. “It says he hung himself in remorse.”

“So which was it?”

Dr. Stamford reached for a data print-out that was just coming from the computer at that moment. He read the information and then said, “If this is right, somehow, it happened both ways.”

“That can’t be right. That’s not possible.”

“No. I wouldn’t think so either, but I think somehow we've crossed the streams. We've corrupted the quantum waves – you mentioned a strange flux in the tachyon fields last night…Somehow, and I don't know how to explain it, but it happened both ways.”



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