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Mário Santos's picture

The Judas Burning

By Mário Santos in Scare Us

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In a valley in the heart of Portugal surrounded by deserted hills, there stood a fearful village under the shadow of a secular monastery.

Legends sprouted from its walls and scrolls, but none struck more fear in the heart of the starved, frightened populace as The Judas, the creature who roamed the Earth searching for those struck with greed, until the last day of Lent  when it was caught, beaten, hanged and burnt.

A tale of murder macabre fueled by the greed from both rich and poor alike.


Jane Wiseman's picture
Jane Wiseman from living outside of Albuquerque/in Minneapolis is reading Look to Windward by Iain M. Banks July 31, 2012 - 6:15pm

This is a very intriguing story, but it is too confusing and has too many grammatical mistakes to work for me. I like the folkloric feel of it, but what happens here? I'm very confused about the Judas figure--he seems like all the evil in the village incorporated into one person, but then he also, later, seems like a revenger figure attacking the evil-doers. I'm confused about the boy. What does he learn at the end of that first section? That's unclear to me. Does he recognize the Judas figure? It seems he does, but who is this Judas figure? I'm thinking possibly it's the boy's father, but if so, the clues about that are really unclear. I wouldn't mind some ambiguity, but I'm just baffled. I understand that the bad guy in part three is the same bad guy who took possession of the mother at the end of part one, but I have no idea what connection the events in part two have with these other events/characters, except that part two just extends the legend of the Judas and the revenge he takes on the greedy. So. . .big plot confusion, at least for me. And then, a lot of the writing just isn't grammatical. I don't want to insult you, but is English not your first language? If that's the case, it would explain why so much of it sounds unidiomatic. I'm not sure what can be done about that except just to continue to practice the written language and/or get the help of a good editor. Please accept my apologies if this is not the case.

cdregan's picture
cdregan from outside of Philadelphia is reading The Corrections August 3, 2012 - 3:47pm

SPOILERS AHEAD (and annoying 'If I were to write it' advice...)


Great atmosphere! This felt like an old Hammer Horror film with the light and textures, but with a much older feel to it - like your village practiced a leftover ritual from pre-Christian times. That creepy scarecrow Judas figure was indeed nightmarish. If we were allowed to rate separately on the scary factor of your monster, so far from what I've read, yours would be rated the highest. This is a story worth smoothing out the rough edges.

THAT said, I have to agree with Jane that your story was a little confusing. I didn't understand who was in the Judas suit to begin with. Is it usually supposed to be just a dummy? Or does the rich guy get to choose who's turn it is every year to be stuffed into the suit? I kept thinking it was the boy's father, and I think it is, but you didn't follow through. 

I could forgive your typos, but you did use "milky" 9 or 10 times. I may be hypersensitive to word echoes, but that one over-usage was glaring.

If this story were handed to me and I was told to play with it (apologies for what follows, but you are the one who opened this can of worms by posting your story...) I would make the boy go a little crazy when he realizes that his father was the one stuffed in the sackcloth. Guilt and superstition drives him to crazy land and the boy helps plot revenge on the rich guy (communing with what he believes is the spirit of his father).

Have the people know on some level that it was more than a dummy that they were beating/hanging/burning (the way it made a noise when it fell, the way it jumped when it was hung, but they were caught up in the fervor) and that guilt haunts them. That guilt manifests as sightings and paranoia. Play with the 'what is real, what is imagined' for a bit and then, at another burning, have the Judas turn to attack the rich man. (It's the boy grown up, dressed as the Judas). And then maybe they both, and the mansion go up in flames.

This has the makings for a great creepy ghost story, it just needs a little tightening up on the cause and effects and the relationships between the main players. Play with the back story a little more. Break out of the 4K word limit and bust this thing wide open.




Robert Blake's picture
Robert Blake from Glasgow originally, last wee while Manchester is reading The Sea Hawk (Rafael Sabatini) August 7, 2012 - 7:03am

No demasiado mal!

More of a mystery adventure than a horror, or maybe not, depending how you read it. I really enjoyed this.


Only one grammar thing I noticed on an initial read, you had "threat's" where you need "threats"

Regina Peacecraft's picture
Regina Peacecraft from the Philippines is reading Android Karenina August 7, 2012 - 11:32am

It seems a nice story if my speculations were correct, but they'd remain speculations unless you give enough hints for conclusion or unless you reveal them as truths in the story. So am I right in thinking that the Judas is the boy's father? Also, you forgot to tell us about what happened to the boy after he discovered the Judas wasn't just a sackcloth, or to his mother after the rich guy (antagonist?) takes her home. A lot of parts were confusing. 

sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres August 11, 2012 - 12:09pm

This story was a tough one.  

It didn't flow smoothly, bringing us from one section to the other.  There were a lot of questions that were left open, which is sometimes ok, but not if they are integral parts of the story.  Sure, the grammatical errors were tough, but those can be worked through.  I just feel that it got confused within itself as to what was going on.  Just a lot of confusion throughout.

However, I do like the general idea.  The disturbing ritual that the town goes through is, well,  disturbing, to say the least.  Any time a "religious" ritual can be shown as so horrifying and senseless, it opens up so much room for a horror story to develop.  The fear that is shown in the first section, with the mother and child, is well done.  And I like the idea of their "effigy" manifesting into what they have, until then, only symbolized with it's use.

I think with quite a bit of work, this could end up a pretty creepy revenge tale.  It just feels like there is a lot of work to be done to get it there...which is, of course, why we are all here in the first place.  To work through our ideas and get help to formulate them.

Jonathan Riley's picture
Jonathan Riley from Memphis, Tennessee is reading Flashover by Gordon Highland August 11, 2012 - 12:20pm

I never assumed that the Judas was just a burning cloth sack. I was led to beleive that it was a person all along. You mentioned repeatedly in the opening scene that they could smell "burning human flesh" so i figured the town thought they were sacraficing some criminal to wash the rest of there sins away. I was led to believe that this criminal was the boy's father. I also had the same thoughts as dregan. I was almost certain that after the reunion with the boy and Judas at the end of Act 1 that it would be the boy who would become "the scary Judas" and exact his revenge on Simeos in the denoument. I feel like the opening and closing were both pretty strong. As Jane mentioned, it seems to me like the middle section is just to enhance the Judas legacy. I think you need to tell us a little more about the old man charachter and the Judas in that section to really tie the whole thing together. Overall, I loved the concept and the folk lore feel of it. I think with a couple more drafts and some grammer corrections this could be an impactful story. Keep working at it. I would love to read your next draft.


Shawn I.'s picture
Shawn I. from New York is reading Important Things That Don't Matter August 16, 2012 - 2:49pm

I like the idea and thought the storytelling in Part I was quite good (minus the repetition and language errors already noted). Really enjoyed the comparison of types of darkness. I got that the Judas in the first section was the boy's father. But pretty much right away in Part II it started to get confusing. I thought the guy who had the coals shoved down his throat was Simoes. Anyway, I won't rehash what others have already said. I think this story has a lot of potential but needs some work.