Pseudopod 006: What Dead People Are Supposed to Do

By Paul E. Martens.

Read by Ben Phillips.

Iris said it was wrong of me to have Dad brought back from the dead to work off his debts. But I didn’t ask him to run up the balances on all those credit cards. I think a son should be entitled to inherit something from his parents. Am I wrong?

Also, we are proud to be sponsored this week by the custom book binder Dreaming Mind. Beautiful custom made books, portfolios and other products.
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01
Adolfo
October 6th, 2006 12:04 pm

Great story.
Good stuff.
Very enjoyable.

Ben Phillips did a great job at reading this.

There is something about zombies that hold the fascination of fans of this genre.

It’s like monkeys for everyone else.

So I guess it was only a matter of time before a zombie story was on pseudopod.

But they made a great choice in the story they ran.

Oh yeah, and it’s pretty sweet that pseudopod is now weekly!

02
October 9th, 2006 2:20 pm

I thought this story was too one-note. There is a wealth of possibilities for zombie stories, but Marten’s take is too slight to be memorable, much like a lesser Twilight Zone episode. A far finer (and suspiciously similar) offering is Jonathan Lethem’s short story The Happy Man, a truly bleak horror ditty that Marten’s tale cannot match.

Otherwise, enjoying the podcast immensely. Keep up the fine work.

03
October 9th, 2006 5:19 pm

I thought this story was great, personally. I laughed out loud several times, and through it all kept thinking “now isn’t that sad”. Sad as in pathetic (the character and his actions, not the story).

The reasons zombies are such great and enduring characters, despite being fairly one note, is that they reflect our greatest fears and anxieties back at us. It the 50s they were stand ins for the red scare, the neighbor or loved one who inexplicably turns on you. In 80s and 90s they were plague victims, ravaging humanity the way AIDS, cancer, and a dozen other diseases threatened to. More recently they’ve been the horrific result of science gone bad, power hungry corporate interests trying to find the next great breakthrough and not considering the consequences.

And now, apparently, they’re wage slaves and couch potatoes. The truely terrifying part of this story is that I see some of myself in the narrator’s father, and even in the narrator, whose zombification is even more awful given that he doesn’t have the excuse of being dead. Just like you and me.

Great story, I especially like having humor mixed in with my horror, and a good (or bad, depending) message makes it all the more worthwhile.

On an unrelated side note, I can’t seem to find any links back to the home page from any other page on this site. I know, I could just hit Back until I get back there, but I shouldn’t have to (that’s just poor UI design). Am I missing something?

04
Odin
October 9th, 2006 6:02 pm

I enjoyed this one. Horror and tongue in cheek do seem to go well together. One request in general though…. PLEASE lose the “and I promise you it’s true” tagline. I’m having a really hard time with it. Congrats on going weekly!

05
October 10th, 2006 9:22 am

Loved the story; I also want to say that, having listened to Escape Pod and Pseudopod for several weeks, now, I haven’t heard a better reading than this one. The narrator really nails it — he’s on par with a professional actor. I don’t think you guys could have found a better reader to match up with this (very good) story if you tried.

This is the best tale posted her yet (that I’ve heard), hands down.

06
Spork
October 14th, 2006 9:29 am

I really wanted to laugh at this story. A zombie being tossed out an airplane, ker-splat action, worker bees in their cubicles…zombie-like offices, etc.

But, everything came off like I was being beaten over the head with the symbolism, and the protag was too much like every Ben Stiller character I’ve ever seen. Just plain fucking dumb. Too dumb to understand a simple phone call from an ex he shouldn’t even be calling if he weren’t so Ben Stiller Character pathetic.

Overall, the story just irritating the shit out of me instead of entertaining me.

07
October 14th, 2006 4:20 pm

Really enjoyed this one.
Clever story and great reading.

I listened to this one and Sacred Skin while on a camping trip. “Sacred Skin” by firelight was nice and creepy and “Dead People” creeped out the campers around me.
It creeped them out because there was this lone figure sitting by a fire (me) who was occaisionaly (and for no reason that was apparent to them) simply laughing out loud!

Lots of things I liked about the story but perhaps mostly that the story wasn’t really about the “undead”. As I saw it the story was actually about the son and the “zombie” just happened to be there.

Keep ‘em coming!

08
October 18th, 2006 11:46 pm

What a great story. Was this really horror ? It was certianly very funny. I enjoyed it immensely. I guess i’ll go and donate a couple of bucks now.

09
October 23rd, 2006 6:49 pm

I liked this one a lot. Might have been a little longer than it needed, but all in all was quite fun. The whole idea of being brought back to life to work off credit card debt is just hysterical.

10
Chris
October 24th, 2006 2:30 pm

I thought this story was funny and enjoyable. It wasn’t really “horror” – but I don’t want you guys to think that you need to stick with “hard” horror stuff. There’s ALWAYS room for zombie humor (Shaun of the Dead comes to mind)!

11
October 26th, 2006 6:41 pm

I’ve listened to this story twice now and laughed even harder the second time. The world and the idea of zombies as corporate drones and couch potatoes was expertly fleshed out. I’ve never thought of zombies in those terms before and I don’t think I’ll soon forget it. Very funny stuff, Mr. Martens (and a perfect reading).

I find it a little scary that I listened to it the second go-around in my cubicle at work. Somebody cut out the microchip, now!

I really dig the different flavors of horror stories here. From the tongue-in-cheek tone of this one, to the classic horror tale of “Sacred Skin” and all the way back to the creepy noir-esque “Bag Man,” it’s a nice variety. Well done you guys. And don’t lose the tag line.

12
phignewton
December 26th, 2006 10:43 pm

best zombie sky diving story evvvah!

13
Mari Mitchell
March 29th, 2008 11:52 am

I loved the story. The dark gross humor of it. The sideways logic of it all… what wonderful fun.

It occurs to me how really good horror can be a commentary on what is wrong with life.

Frankly I thought this was perfect!

14
Amber
January 17th, 2009 12:26 am

Reason #34 why not to use credit cards…