Horror of Biblical Proportions

The Bible includes some horrifying stuff. Inspiring, life-changing stuff too, of course. But the Old Testament... Wow. Whenever any of my Christian friends turn up their noses at my darker stories, I always point them toward the book of Judges or 1 Samuel. Plenty of weirdness to be found there.

When King David and the Spiders of Mars opened for subs back in 2012, Jeff Chapman let me know about it, and I instantly had an idea for a story: Goliath's head refuses to die. I'm sure you're familiar with the original tale. David, scrawny youth, takes down giant Goliath in a champion's fight to the finish. Most Sunday school renditions end with David's stone miraculously striking Goliath in the middle of the forehead and Goliath falling down, going boom. But that's not how the story ends. See for yourself.

Here's the opening to my tale "Shadow of Death" from King Saul's point of view:

He'd sent a boy into battle. Now the boy returned a man.

"Where is the armor I gave him?" Saul crossed his arms and narrowed his gaze at the scrawny shepherd with a bloody prize in his grasp.

Clad in his sheepskin tunic, young David climbed the hill straightway to the king's tent. A massive head dangled from his grip, clutched at the scalp by thick, black curls. The dead eyes lolled open as if in surprise, the mouth sagging almost comically to one side as though the man in life had been little more than an imbecile. Blood and viscera oozed onto the grass from the ragged cut at the throat, loose flesh flapping with the boy's movement and leaving a trail of gore in his wake.

I had a lot of fun with this one, but alas, the Spiders anthology closed to submissions by the time I had my story polished and ready to submit. So, I spent the next year or so sending it to various publications and receiving positive feedback (amidst 11 rejections) until Bards and Sages Quarterly offered to buy it.

Want to read the whole thing? Subscribe to the Bards and Sages newsletter, and you'll receive a FREE PDF copy of the April issue containing "Shadow of Death" as well as every issue forthwith. And who doesn't like FREE? I mean, seriously, who doesn't?

So, what's the most horrifying Bible story that comes to mind? What horrible spin could you give an Old Testament tale? Or should holy scriptures be off limits?

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