Kathy Sherwood

Spill Your Guts

This wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. This shouldn’t have happened. Why did it go so wrong?

Judas was drenched in sweat. It had started in the garden. He stopped his aimless walk, clutching his belly. He couldn’t outrun it. He wasn’t even sure if it was what he was running away from. The pain had started back there at Gethsemane, too, when Peter (that idiot) decided attacking people with a sword was the thing to do.

Stupid Peter, who never shut up. Maybe that was better . . . if he was knife-happy when he was finally quiet.

Judas groaned and wondered if he would feel better if he could just be sick.

But you won’t feel better, not now.

He knew the voice in his head was right. Even so, he stopped and untied his belt, slinging it over his shoulder. It didn’t help with his belly pain, and now he had to carry the bag of money in his hands, but he didn’t move to change it. Or to keep moving, to get away from . . . whatever he was trying to run away from. Instead, he glared down at the bag.

Matthew, of all people, used to tease him and call him a miser whenever Judas fussed about how Jesus and the others spent their money. He tried to be angry at the former tax-collector, but all he could picture was what the others would say if they saw him now. He’d even picked the damned bag up again after the high priests and the scribes kicked him out of the temple.

It was like he was tied to it. A stone around his neck.

That gave him an idea.

His belt was too short. He’d need a proper rope . . . that would be easy enough to get. Everyone in Jerusalem seemed like they were watching the show at the governor’s palace. No one was watching their possessions.

Just watch the action. Stand around and don’t rebel.

He looked back down at the bag in his hand. That was what he wanted, wasn’t it? To trigger an anti-Roman riot and get them out of Judea for good?

Already, his motivations and memories of why he did what he did were muddled and confused. His head swam as he untied a piece of rope he’d found on a stake, probably for some animal. A donkey or a goat, or something.

Is this what the goats feel like?

Once again, he thought of abandoning the bag, maybe as a payment for the rope. And once again, Judas couldn’t do it.

It was ridiculous not to leave it. All he needed now was a tree. He climbed the hills behind Jerusalem, the smell of wild herbs in the night air clearing his head a little as he searched.

Why? Why had he done it?

Was it over the argument about that stupid woman and her opulent perfumes? He remembered being angry about the waste. But was that enough to make him kill someone?

Had he simply wanted to keep the money? But that raised the same question.

How had he, Judas Iscariot, who barely had the stomach to sacrifice two pigeons, let alone a yearling lamb (when he could afford it) during the necessary observances, let himself get mixed up in the death of a man?

Of course, his hands technically weren’t dirtied. Yet.

With an anguished yowl, he dropped the bag of silver, and some coins skittered into the dirt, clutching his swollen stomach. The pain was practically unbearable now.

Then he noticed, as it became somewhat bearable, that he’d stopped in front of an imposing, old tree. Solemnly he tucked the rope under his arm and retied his belt. Beginning to climb, he noticed that he now didn’t feel compelled to take the money with him again. This was just as well, for the climb was excruciating, given the mental and physical state he was in. But the tree had many branches, conveniently placed, and before long he found himself high up enough.


The intrusive thought distracted him as he tied the knots. He didn’t address it, not until he was finished.

“I couldn’t help it,” Judas said, aloud.

He jumped, but he was dead before the rope was taut. His stomach, swollen, and agonizing, burst in a filthy crimson shower, spattering the hillside. The corpse swung wildly from the two momentums, but only for a few seconds. Abruptly it slowed, almost stopping. The arc of blood reduced to a trickle almost instantly, and where the initial spray had spared the money, some drops of blood now found the loose coins as the body of Judas Iscariot came to rest over the bag.

Kathy Sherwood is a writer from Wisconsin. She grew up with mythology, monsters, and fairytales in equal parts, leading to the weird person she is today. Her other work can be found on Everyday Fiction and Haunted MTL.