You are staggering up the rocky path to the Place of the Skull, carrying the patibulum across your shoulders.
The crossbeam is rough, and is agony as its splintery surface rubs against the wounds from the flogging you had undergone before this death march. As you take step after painful step, you lose your footing and fall to the path. The crossbeam slips from your grasp, and the Roman soldier walking behind you lashes you with his crop. You try to rise, but the blood on your hands makes them slip on the worn stones of the trail. You fall face first, and lay there for a moment, even as the whip slashes your bloody ribs and back.
Finally, power from some inner reserve gives you the strength to rise to a standing position. You reach down, and try to pick up the patibulum. The soldier has other ideas. He drags a man from the crowd flanking the road, and forces him to pick the beam up and place it on his own shoulders. You follow this unwilling conscript, thankful for the relief.
Finally, you and the other members of the execution party reach the summit of Golgotha. The pits where the stipes of the crosses will be sunk are ready for their gory pillars, the wedges to stabilize the crosses set to their sides.
The man carrying your crossbeam drops it near you. The soldier roughly motions for him to move away. He looks at you, imploringly. You try to say something, but all that comes from your parched throat is a croak.
Your clothes are pulled off you, leaving you naked in the bright sunlight of mid-morning. You look down at your body, your arms, your legs. You have been flogged relentlessly, and your skin is a tapestry of bleeding wounds and torn flesh. Blood runs down your face from the thorns that crown your head. Even as you look down, you begin to weave from side to side, almost ready to fall.
Hands grab you by the arms and legs, and you're dropped like a dead man onto the hard stone, next to the stipes. The soldiers have been lashing the crossbeam to the upright, and you're dragged across the wood to have your arms spread wide on the beam. The upright is under your back, and every move is agony.
As your arms are pulled to the left and the right, soldiers grip your hands and arms as nails are poised above your wrists. The points bite into your flesh, and then the first stroke of the hammer hits the head. You can't help yourself as you scream in pain, as the point of each nail drives through your wrist and into the hard wood of the crossbeam. The blows from the hammer finally stop, and you're left in shock with blinding pain shooting up and down your arms.
Your feet are placed to each side of the upright, and more nails are placed against your heels. You try to steel yourself for the blows you know are coming, but you're unable to keep the agony within you. As you scream with each strike of the hammer, the soldiers laugh and make jibes at you, sticking out their tongues and spitting on you.
Finally, the hammer falls silent. The troopers grab the cross and heave it into the hole, letting it drop to the bottom with a sharp jerk. Your wrists and feet are shocked by the blow, but by now, the pain is so encompassing that it's all you experience. It's everything, it's your world, and it's becoming impossible to separate one source from another.
You look around at the people standing in knots on the summit. To your right, you see another prisoner, a thief, writhing in his own crucifixion agony. To your left is another man slumped down from his cross. The Romans are squatted at the foot of your own cross, grabbing at the robe you had worn until just minutes ago.
You are lifted up and exposed to the wind and the cries from the birds that spiral around this hill of death. Through the fog of pain, you wonder how long you will last. The air is getting cooler; the sky is beginning to darken as clouds mount up on all sides.
You glance down and see your mother standing with one of your disciples. Tears are streaming down her cheeks as she clutches the arm of the young man. She reaches out toward you. In a whisper, you tell her that this is her son. To your disciple, you say that this is now his mother. You can say no more, as you wheeze and cough, trying to draw in each breath against the weight of your body hanging from the spikes through your wrists.
Time passes. One of the Romans puts a sponge on the tip of his lance, pours some vinegar on it, and thrusts it at your mouth. You lean out toward the sponge, licking the bitter liquid, desperately trying to moisten your throat. The exertion forces you to cough once more, and your breathing begins to roughen.
With pain lancing through your limbs and your chest, you grab for each breath. Your eyes widen. Arching your back, you cry out, "It is finished!" And the world whirls away into blackness.