Pseudopod 005: Sacred Skin

By Michael Stone.

Read by Paul S. Jenkins (of the Rev Up Review and The Plitone Revisionist).

Hodges threaded the other foot into the skin and eased it up over Heatherstone’s shins. It was a tight fit. Hodges was surprised at his master’s tolerance. He bore the scratches from the rough seams, bones and shells without complaint. This man threw a tantrum if his bath water was one degree above his preferred temperature, or the butler arrived a minute late with his pudding. No one had ever accused Lord Heatherstone of bearing discomfort stoically. When the skin reached halfway up his thighs, Heatherstone stood and tugged it over his privates. He sat down again gingerly to allow Hodges to thread his arms through and fasten the skin at the back with laces of black sinew. Hodges began to tighten the straps at the ankles, working quickly in the dim light. Lord Heatherstone plucked indelicately at the crotch. “Is my lord all right?” asked Rider.

“Not really. Why should I be defending myself against something that could be repelled by the, er . . .”

“The Ayat al-Kursi? The Phylacteries?”

“Yes. Those.”

A bit of news: Pseudopod has officially gone weekly, so no more waiting two weeks for full-length stories! We’ll still throw in flash now and then but on Fridays you can count on a story from us.

01
que!
September 29th, 2006 10:48 am

OOOOHHHHH!!!!!! I LOVE THIS STORY!!! I LOVED THE ENDING!

I had to think twice before I realized what happened in the end. Great! :0)

Thanks!

02
September 29th, 2006 10:22 pm

I read this story a while ago, but hearing it this way made it so much better. The quality of the reading itself was very well done.

We now need a Mike Stone novel.

Good show.

Matt

03
Spiff
September 30th, 2006 12:17 am

Great story, with a great reading. Keep up the good work!

04
September 30th, 2006 4:45 pm

This is the creepiest story yet. It absolutely kept me in rapt attention the whole time, to the last word. I actually shivered a little….great stuff.

05
October 1st, 2006 2:04 pm

Terrific story. All the ingredients necessary to grab you by the throat and shake the complacency out of your ordinary self.
Michael Stone knows how to scare the internal organs out of anyone. He’s a very underrated writer, one I have read before and will read again. Thank you for publishing this and good luck with your site.

06
Colin F
October 2nd, 2006 7:50 am

A great story – and now only a week to wait for the next one!

Thanks Pseudopod.

07
Kyle_Carm
October 4th, 2006 2:07 am

I concur with the other comments well crafted story and very good narration. The accent gave it some authenticity. Good job to all.

08
October 4th, 2006 12:03 pm

While I agree with the quality of the narration, I couldn’t get into this one. I thought the lead-in was very long and drawn out, and the climax was somewhat dissapointing.

I enjoyed the underlying plot, but this piece just didn’t suit me.

Of course, I’ll admit I listened to this during rush hour, so that’s probably having something to do with it.

09
Vanamonde
October 4th, 2006 7:09 pm

Well a good atmospheric story that was spoilt by the predictable `gotcha!’ at the end.

10
October 8th, 2006 9:18 am

Hi. I think pseudopod arrived with this story – to me it sounded like quality horror literature, and nicely narrated too. Sorry to the guy – I can’t remember his name but his voice reminds me of a young John peel — if you’ve ever heard the short story narrated by him at the end of the Tyrannosaurus Rex album, Unicorn.

11
October 9th, 2006 5:09 pm

I guess I’m the only one who didn’t quite buy the ending. I get what happened, but the final action that caused it to occur – the narrator palming the root – doesn’t quite add up to me.

Through the entire story he’s made out to be a simple, honest man, yet at that particular moment he chose to do something sneaky, and was skilled enough to pull it off? I just don’t buy it. The beast, whatever it was, didn’t seem to take hold until a short time after that, so that’s not the answer. Maybe he was simply trying to save his master’s (father’s, though he doesn’t know that yet) life, and figured that hiding this action was the only way to do it… that’s reasonable, but again he doesn’t seem someone who’s capable of deception on any level, especially since he doesn’t know the true nature of what’s happening at that point.

It was a good story, and the narration was superb, but that one seemingly out of character action blew the ending for me.

12
Joseph
October 13th, 2006 1:02 am

“Vanamonde
October 4th, 2006 7:09 pm

Well a good atmospheric story that was spoilt by the predictable `gotcha!? at the end.”

Agreed. Enjoyed it until the witch-doctor type character showed a great deal of concern over the touch of son and father. From there you knew what was going to happen (to an extent, I expected the story to be that of a vampire or werewolf.)

“J Clark
October 9th, 2006 5:09 pm

I guess I?m the only one who didn?t quite buy the ending. [SNIP]

Through the entire story he?s made out to be a simple, honest man, yet at that particular moment he chose to do something sneaky, and was skilled enough to pull it off? I just don?t buy it. The beast, whatever it was, didn?t seem to take hold until a short time after that, so that?s not the answer. Maybe he was simply trying to save his master?s [SNIP]”

I think he tried to save the life of his master. He became infected/posessed/whatever as soon as he got the root out of the masters throat. The beast then would have made an effort to hide his presence. Then we have the ending we got.

It made sense to me, even if I saw it coming. For anyone who mistakes my nitpick for a blasting of the authors effort: I feel that this story is better than anything I have written, despite the ending.

13
Chris
October 24th, 2006 2:32 pm

I loved this story. LOVED it. The ending was a trifle predictable, but I don’t care. The reading by Mr. Jenkins was excellent – his voice was perfect!

This was creepy and well done. Probably my favorite so far.

14
Mari Mitchell
March 29th, 2008 11:31 am

I must say that I love that stories you chose have their own voice, are always descriptive and are not the same ideas, warmed-over leftovers with nothing new.

I love the fresh cuts of tales and spice of the old lightly sprinkled in.

15
Amber
January 16th, 2009 11:58 pm

Hodges you good little servant you. I think it’s cute, and I liked it, but it didn’t speak to me as much as the others. Still good job.