It’s time for a flash fiction extra about the tragedy of Masada.
Several years ago I wrote a flash fiction story entitled Masada Whispers. It was published by Spark magazine and also published in “A Flash of Romance.”
This story is based on a historical event – a great tragedy. The event took place on April 15, 73 CE.
I’ve decided to post Masada Whispers this month in memory of the tragic event.
Ariella gazed over the walls of Masada. Every day the Roman army grew. Battalions of men dressed in battle gear surrounded the impenetrable mountain fortress. Huge tents and ramps covered the barren landscape, and horses pranced about while goats bleated from their pens. Women traveled with the soldiers to provide entertainment. An entire city had sprouted in the desert and encircled Ariella’s once safe world.
Thousands of voices rode the wind up the mountain. Ariella pressed her hands against her ears. Silence no longer exited – not even at night. A strong hand touched Ariella’s shoulder. She fisted her fingers and spun around.
“Whoa there,” Jared said. “It’s me, your beloved.”
Ariella slapped her husband’s leather-clad chest. “You shouldn’t sneak up on a woman who’s surrounded by Romans.”
Jared chuckled, but his brow wrinkled and dark eyes flashed. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and stared at the spectacle below. “There isn’t much time left.”
Ariella shuddered and snuggled closer to him, safe in his strong arms, but she knew he was powerless to protect her from the mighty army. The men had done everything possible to thwart the Romans—built walls, thrown hot oil on the invaders, and sent out raiding parties. They’d slowed the enemy’s progress, but ultimate destruction was inevitable. Less than a thousand people trapped on a mountain top couldn’t defeat the most powerful army in the world.
“I am not too afraid of dying.” Ariella rubbed Jared’s hand. “But I do regret that you and I have only been married a year. I’ve loved you since the day my brother introduced us, and I dreamed of growing old with you. We’ve been surrounded by Silva and his Roman legion our entire marriage.”
“I’m grateful we’ve been allowed to share our life for a year.” Jared’s hand, callused from building defensive walls, caressed her cheek. “Not everyone finds a special love.”
Ariella smiled. She was blessed. How many women waited breathlessly to hear their husband’s footsteps at the end of the day?
Ariella thrilled at Jared’s touch. His laughter delighted her. Jared enjoyed spending time with her and, unlike most men, valued her help in making decisions. They shared a special love. A love destined to die.
“The Roman battering ram draws closer every day,” Jared said.
“We still have food and water. Why can’t they allow us to remain on our mountaintop?”
“Our independence, religion, and ideals are a threat to the Roman empire.”
Ariella bowed her head. Rome would never retreat.
Two days later, the ram’s horn sounded. Each great blast called the people to gather in the city square. Elazar ben Yair climbed onto a boulder and raised his arms. The crowd grew quiet. Ariella huddled close to Jared, her heart slamming against her chest. She didn’t want to hear this speech but knew she must. The pounding of the enemy battering ram slowly destroying their walls couldn’t drown Elazar’s words.
“Long ago, we resolved that we would never be slaves. We were the first to revolt, and we are the last to fight. We will not let the Romans take our lives.”
The men roared, pumping their fists in the air.
“We will deny them the pleasure of killing us.” Elazar pounded his right fist against his palm.
Women swayed and clutched their children. Ariella shivered. Jared’s firm jaw told her he agreed with Elazar’s words.
It was forbidden. But if they lived, torture, slavery, or worse awaited them. Ariella wrapped her arms around Jared’s chest and put her head on his shoulder. They should celebrate Passover tomorrow. Instead, they would all die.
The next morning, the men set fire to the storeroom. The people dumped all of their belongings into the flames of a raging bonfire. Nothing would be left for the Romans to enjoy.
The smell of blood now mixed with the smoke and ash which fell from the sky like rain.
Ariella flung the last of her memories into the fire and went in search of Jared. The smoke stung her eyes as it drifted over the fortress like an ominous cloud. The death angel had passed through Egypt on the first Passover. The blood of the lamb on the doorposts had protected her ancestors, but deliverance would not come for Masada.
The warriors had drawn lots to choose ten men to be executioners so the rest of the citizens wouldn’t die with blood guilt. One of the ten would be chosen to kill the other nine. This brave soul would die with all of Masada’s guilt on his shoulders.
Thankfully, the lot had not fallen to Jared. He and Ariella would die side by side. If she could find him. She ran across the cobblestone streets. The wind whipped the veil from her head and her hair slapped her face. “Jared, Jared.”
A woman shrieked behind her. She spun around as a warrior slit an old lady’s throat. Ariella hurried on before he saw her. Families stood outside their homes, holding hands, crying and waiting for one of the executioners to find them. The smell of blood now mixed with the smoke and ash which fell from the sky like rain.
“Ariella.” Jared ran to her and pulled her close.
“Thank heaven I found you,” she whispered.
He wiped tears from her cheeks. “Death comes soon.” He spoke over the shouts of the dying. “We will be together forever.”
He brought his lips to hers. Ariella trembled as she did every time he held her. Their life would soon end, but never their love.
A familiar executioner approached. Ariella stepped out of Jared’s embrace. She smiled at her brother who stood before her, clutching a knife. She and Jared clasped hands, closed their eyes, and stepped into a beautiful eternity.
So, what do you think? Did you learn something new about Masada?
If you enjoy flash fiction, A Flash of Romance is available on Kindle Unlimited or Kindle for .99 cents. Link below.
Please visit me again on Faith Friday and Team Seven Tuesday!