Pseudopod 007: Drawing the Moon

By Janni Lee Simner.

Read by Jonathan Chaffin.

Once the light got in, it snaked up the walls, hundreds of little silver strands of it, and the strands wove themselves into pictures.

The pictures were of his parents. They showed Andrew the night Mom and Dad had disappeared, over and over, until the hurt in his chest got so bad he thought he would explode. He tried closing his eyes, but even through closed eyelids he could see the scenes the moon painted — all in silver, with none of Elizabeth’s colors, but sharp and real just the same. He saw Mom and Dad walking down the city street, holding hands, Elizabeth and Andrew just behind them. He saw the mugger jump out of the shadows. He saw Mom being hit and falling to the ground, where her head smashed against the pavement. He saw the knife go through Dad’s chest.

But in the pictures, Mom died of the falling, and Dad died of the stabbing. That wasn’t right at all.

The moon had stolen Andrew’s parents. So why would it draw him pictures in which that hadn’t happened, in which other things had happened instead? Andrew wondered about that for many nights before he came up with an answer.

The moon didn’t want him to know what it had done. Or now that he knew, it wanted him to forget.

Happy Friday the 13th!

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October 15th, 2006 4:03 pm

Hmmm, bit of a misfire for me I’m afraid.It started okay but it ended and I was waiting for something horrible to happen, like the moon to have reneged on her deal and be after the entire family. It seemed to rely on the listener finding the idea of murdered children much worse than murdered adults.

October 15th, 2006 7:00 pm

This is a great idea and I really enjoyed this. Some comments:

1/ While I’m all for elocution, there’s a point when clear pronunciation detracts from the phonetic flow of the reading process. It can be like listening to a classical pianist play jazz.

I get the feeling your reader needs to relax a bit, especially at the beginning (as it improves toward the end). My friend, imagine you’re reading to kids in bed at night, not to an ipod!

2/ the intro music/voice is really uncreepy/unhorror like. Perhaps hark back to the classic horror vibe or try to do something new or contemporary? The clipped (while v cute sounding) tones of the editors voice put me in mind of a corporate elevator, I’m afraid.

Otherwise, this is great stuff!! Love it!!!


October 16th, 2006 9:11 am

This story was nothing short of remarkable. It cleverly interweaves the interesting take that children have on the world with some legitimately creepy moments. I really enjoyed it.

Also, kudos to the author for not falling prey to another tired re-hash of a child telling everyone the truth while the adults just blithely disregard it. Mrs. Simner could have easily gone that route, and to not have done so demonstrates remarkable restraint.

October 16th, 2006 3:04 pm

*points to the iTunes music store* Look, it’s Pseudopod on the front page :) And for the record, that Ander’s Manga stuff is hot. I don’t think you need to hark back to the classic, dissonant strings horror vibe.

Love the show!

October 17th, 2006 3:50 am

Having been subscribed to the podcast a few weeks back, I regularly enjoy the releases. Just wanted to drop in a comment here, as I really enjoyed this unique story. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting!

I admire how Pseudopod seems to be challenging the concept of what exactly “horror” as a genre entails, avoiding the usual trappings and engaging in unique content.

The narration was spot on of “Drawing the Moon”, doing justice to the fantasic language of the story. I enjoyed the metaphors and the unique imagery. The plot flowed in ways I didn’t expect, and the ending was absolutely chilling.

Oh, and I’ll have to say, I love the theme music, as well as the witty editorial comments ;)

Please keep up the great work guys!

October 18th, 2006 10:12 pm

Chills! Actual, physical chills! I listened to this in the middle of the day, and still was scared out of my mind, and I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.

Excellent work to the author, and thank you for selecting it!

October 19th, 2006 9:17 am

I agree with Derek: I listened to it in my car on the way back from work and was genuinely creeped out. The ending was brutal, truly the stuff of nightmare.

October 19th, 2006 9:36 pm

What the fuck is unique about this story? A child knows something adults and an older child just don’t see/understand. That understanding leads to the revelation of a secret. The moon girl gives a vague warning that reveals the fate awaiting the insightful child all too clearly. The child makes the obvious choice to forfeit his own life for his parents. He is then bound the same way the moon girl was, fulfilling her painfully fucking obvious warning from earlier. Then, her sister decides to take up his same quest.

Mur, your intros are always flat. You have all the threat and danger in your voice as that of a bowl of slowly warming Jell-O. The reading was okay, but the story sucked ass. Shit, it didn’t even suck a zombie’s ass. There was nothing even the least bit creepy, scary, threatening, dangerous or even remotely suitable for this podcast. It’s as if you ran a reject from Escapepod instead of running an actually good story.

So far, the level of storytelling being featured on this podcast is in the bottom of the shitter. Do you have any plans on selecting actually creepy stories, or do you simply plan on continuing to shit in my ears?

October 20th, 2006 3:31 am

Well Spork. there’s alsways the option to unsubscribe…

On the issues of Mur’s voice, the only other place I’ve come across Ms. Lafferty was when she showed up on an episode of the Babylon Podcast (IIRC), I don’t know if this is to try and sound spookycreepy but unfortunately her introductions tend to sound as though she’s bored doing them.

Ms Lafferty, could I respectfully ask you to cheer up a little?

October 20th, 2006 10:53 am

Good god Spork, where did all that hostility come from? Did the moon touch you in your naughty place when you were a child or something?

Obviously you’re in the exteme minority here. I have a feeling you’re looking for Friday the 13th and The Evil Dead, while the rest of us are enjoying Bubba Ho-Tep and Nosferatu (nothing against the first two, but the stories here seem to line up with the second two better).

I’ll just point out that if you dislike everything about this podcast, then stating that this story wasn’t “suitable for this podcast” is a ludicrous statement to make. Obviously you’re expecting something from Pseudopod other than what they’re offering. If you’re so unhappy with it, rather than screaming about it like a child and expecting everyone to change to suit what you want, why not just stop listening and find someone who is offering what you’d like to hear?

The stories Pseudopod plays are what it plays, simple as that, it’s no good trying to shoe horn it into your own expectations.

Better yet, why not start your own “real” horror podcast and show us all?

As for the intros… Well, I love you Mur, I really do (I’m a huge fan of I Should Be Writing, Heaven, and of the stories you’ve sold to Escape Pod), but there’s some truth to what they’re saying. I think it comes from reading a script rather than just talking. If there was any way to loosen things up a bit I think it would help.

And I agree with a comment on a previous story, the “it’s all true” line is just too “cute”, like it’s trying too hard to be clever. I know what you’re going for, but it just doesn’t mesh with the stories that are being run. I would personally go with Escape Pod’s “[something related to the genre], it’s story time” intro. It’s more personable, and less “cute”.

Oh, and is there any chance of “letter from the editor” bits at the beginning and end, a la Steve Eley, discussing the genre and previous stories? I really enjoy that about Escape Pod, though i like that the bulk is after the story as it makes it easy to skip if I want to.

October 20th, 2006 1:34 pm

Just had to speak up in favor of the “And I promise you, it’s true” line. Personally, I’ve loved that from the start.

October 20th, 2006 10:15 pm

I don’t dislike everything about the podcast, only the things about which I’ve commented. I’ve listened to each story, but I’ve not complained about each one, JClark. Go ahead and check. I’ll wait, you sanctimonious ass…

You done? Good.

Now that your head has been pulled just a smidgen out of your asshole, let’s chat a bit.

Feedback is what makes any endeavor better. Now, some folks like to sugar-coat things and make their opinions more pallatable for those delicate flowers being criticized.

I don’t.

Too many episodes of this podcast have been audible shitting sounds in my earbuds. Not enough have been pleasurable. Now, if you’re the sort of guy who like to have people shit in your ears, feel free to enjoy your tubgirl subgenre podcasts. Me? That’s not what I’m seeking. I’m hoping for Escapepod quality, plus genuine horror. Because, that’s basically what this podcast bills itself as.

If this shitfest is what’s actually scares you, you’re not made of very stern stuff, pally.

October 21st, 2006 7:17 pm

JClark and Loz, the constructive criticism is noted and appreciated. I’ll see what I can do to perk up a bit.

October 22nd, 2006 1:42 am

Horror is a more subjective experience than most other fiction. What deeply disturbs one person may do nothing at all for others, or even make them laugh. And that’s fine. The mistake a few critics make is forgetting that other people’s tastes are as valid as their own. “I hated this story” doesn’t equate to “Everyone who liked this story is an idiot,” much less “You don’t know what you’re doing as editors.” The first is useful feedback; the second is juvenile; the third is contradicted by evidence of the podcast’s growth.

A lot of podcasters think of Spork as our pet troll. He posts in a lot of podcast blogs, never with a positive comment, and always with a lot of bile. He gets a kick out of profanity and posturing. But here’s the thing: he listens. If he meant most of what he said, he’d have unsubscribed ages ago. So he defeats the more extreme elements of his own invective simply by hanging around to post it. As much as he complains, we’re entertaining him enough to keep him coming back the next week — and that means we’re succeeding, even for him.

Looked at that way, he’s sort of cute.

October 22nd, 2006 9:07 am

I complain because the podcasts to which I listen are good enough to be improved. When they fail, however, they fail in a spectacular fashion and deserve to be called on it.

Y’know, like when you run your own fiction on your own podcast and it bores me to tears, Steve. Or, when you have your wife narate and slice my eardrums open with her screechy bird voice wrapped in that Balti-moron accent. Or, when Evo gets shitfaced and calls guys faggot. Or, when fans try to make a show out of tin cans and string. Or, when Mur tries to sound threatening, but comes off as if she couldn’t be bothered to speak. Or, when Tee does his fake laughs because he simply can’t shut up, or have a normal adult conversational response.

October 23rd, 2006 2:34 pm

Spork, you said:
“I?ve listened to each story, but I?ve not complained about each one, JClark. Go ahead and check. I?ll wait, you sanctimonious ass?”

But in that same comment you said:
“Too many episodes of this podcast have been audible shitting sounds in my earbuds.”

And in your first post up there you said:
“So far, the level of storytelling being featured on this podcast is in the bottom of the shitter. Do you have any plans on selecting actually creepy stories, or do you simply plan on continuing to shit in my ears?”

If you’re trying to make me feel stupid, you’re failing by contradicting yourself. I never said you’d commented negatively on every story here. I said that you didn’t like any of the stories so far, which is exactly what you said.

So… I’m being “sanctimonious” by stating something about you that you yourself said? Does that mean you were being sanctimonious when you said it first?

In fact, I don’t think I attacked you personally once in my post, only your behaviour and your comment, which was both ridiculously vulgar and essentially nonsensical (by lack of internal consistency). OK, I did accuse you of “screaming about it like a child”, but I defy you to show me where, in that first post, you made a comment that was adult in nature. You responded, in character, by calling me names and accusing myself and others of all kinds of foul things. Way to prove your point.

There’s a difference between being constructively critical, and being a complete jerk. Notice how my comments, and Loz’s, have been responded to by the person in question, while yours has been ignored. That’s because you’re being a jerk, but when people react to it you’re throwing your hands up and yelling “but I’m only being honest and not sugar coating”, as if that absolves you of any responsibility. If you really care about these podcasts, and about improving them, it’s time to act like an adult and actually work to improve things, rather than getting your jollies by swearing at strangers online and then hiding behind straw man defenses. In the future, why not default to actually being polite. You don’t have to swear and insult just because you didn’t like something, you can simply state that you didn’t like it and here’s why. No sugar coating, not kid gloves, just being honest without being a jerk. At the very least you could use your real name, or include a link to your real web site, rather than hiding behind a screen name as you spew your insults.

And Stephen, I know you’re one of those “always look at the bright side” people, and that’s admirable. But you know, sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade.

One last point, about what people find creepy and not. It’s not a matter of being weak, or wimpy. Some of us don’t need bloody severed heads and raving lunatics with meat cleavers to get “scared”. Psychological horror is much, much better, but you have to “get it” to get it. If you don’t, that’s cool, that just means that it didn’t connect for you. We all have different triggers and entry points for all things emotional, it doesn’t make any sense to call other people names because they enjoy different things than you do.

October 24th, 2006 2:28 pm

I really liked this story, I really like Mur’s introductions, and I really liked Steve’s story on Escape Pod. :\

I haven’t been scared (per se) of any of these stories, but I don’t see horror as being necessarily designed to frighten as much as to profoundly impact on some visceral level. This story did that, much like “Little Boy Legbone,” and I enjoyed it.

Thank you.

October 24th, 2006 7:41 pm

When I found this site I downloaded all of the files and have been playing catch-up ever since. Well, I am caught-up now, and I liked nearly every story. There was one I just didn’t get at all, but I think that was probably because I was missing something somewhere along the line. Sometimes what works for one person doesn’t for another and one man’s gold is his neighbour’s yellow rock.

Anyway, I certainly liked this story. I could disect it and evaluate it compare it and criticise it, but what’s the point of that. It is a story. Stories are for reading and enjoying. If a particular story didn’t work for me, I’d just wait for the next one and see what happened. I’ve never thought anyone was shitting in my ear though. I would probably notice something like that.

I also like Mur’s intro. Especially the line: ‘And I promise you, it’s true.’

October 30th, 2006 11:21 am

I have to say I’ve always liked the “it’s true” intro. I was actually thinking about it the other day before I read all of the stuff that has appeared on this thread recently, and decided that it a good counterpart to Mr. Eley’s intro on Escape Pod. Sure, Mur could use a little more dialogue with her audience. However, last I checked, she was doing another podcast and trying to write, and read, and do con-season, and have a family and a life. So if she doesn’t exactly have time to include a 3 minute discussion about what goes on here, that’s okay by me.

Besides, if we’re subscribing, we obviously could just come check it out ourselves.

Thanks for all the work you put into this podcast, and all the work you put into your projects. You are a podcasting celebrity! You too, Mr. Eley.

November 6th, 2006 12:01 pm

What a beautifully written, creepy and real story. I’ve listened to all the stories up to this point and this is one of my favourites, though the quality of all of the stories is incredibly high. Great work!

November 10th, 2006 7:09 pm

Another winner. Well done.

December 9th, 2006 2:24 pm

Just heard this one. I really enjoyed it. My favorite since “Little Boy Legbone”.

I’ve always enjoyed Mur’s hosting and the music.

Mari Mitchell
March 30th, 2008 9:10 pm

I thought the reading was very dry, almost robotic.

The story itself was nice. “The lick of moonlight”.

I liked the idea of the moon taking the moon parents, capturing the messenger in a silver box under his bed.

The story pacing seemed slow, that may have been the reading.

It is nice to see that you did not remove the debate. Although I did not really read it, it is good to see that allowed it stay, let the different voices to be heard.

The moon’s heart is a harsh mistress…
a sliver of silver.
The moon moans
cold crevices

December 8th, 2008 6:59 pm

Wobbling, but I was surprised at the paradox at the end which saved the story.

January 17th, 2009 1:33 am

I feel sorry for Lidia. I’m scared. I dislike the cold, and that long of time, that cold, down to the bone forever… -shivers- Bravo.

June 13th, 2009 2:04 am

I remember reading this story in a book called “Bruce Coville’s Book of Nightmares” when I was about 8 or 9 years old, and having it scare the daylights out of me. On hearing it again, I must admit that some of Spork’s initial comments on the story hold water: it is pretty predictable, and the motif of adults ignoring the kid who knows the truth is a little tired. However, when you take into account that it was written for a young audience, all of that becomes a lot more forgivable, and the genuine creepiness of the tale can shine through.

August 9th, 2009 2:49 am

I enjoyed the heck out of this story. I love the faint hint of eeriness woven through the fairy tale exterior. To my mind, this sort of story exemplifies the very best of “horror,” not because it’s particularly scary (it really isn’t) but because it is thought-provoking and quietly dark. I accept the periodic necessity for Pseudopod to throw out some red meat in the form of extreme body horror or over-the-top descriptions of disease or mutilation, but the real quality of this podcast will always be these subtle, gentle stories of a world where something is not quite right.