Pseudopod 008: Indications

By Richard S. Crawford.

Read by Paul Fischer (of the Balticon and ADD Casts).

Most days he could forget the symptoms when he got involved in his work; but the blemish on his neck preyed on his mind all morning, through the telephone calls, reports, and staff — staph? — meetings. At one point he thought about e-mailing his mother at the nursing school where she taught to describe the blemish to her. But then he thought better of the idea; even though she was used to it, he didn’t want to seem foolish if it was nothing but a pimple, after all.

Still, though. It preyed. Each time he thought about the spot, a cold stone would settle in his belly and tug at his heart, and he’d reach up, unthinking, to touch it. Was it warmer than the surrounding skin? Or was that just his imagination?

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October 20th, 2006 9:50 am

Why? Because it’s what we actually have to go through on a daily basis. Freddy and Jason are the least of my fears. Having lost 4 relatives this year to cancer, Indications portrays a horror that is all too real.


October 20th, 2006 1:14 pm

Althoguth it was enjoyable to watch this meager mans life slowly fall apart (in a kubrik film sort fo way), and I liked how the seemingly insignficant blemish he worried about throughout the whole story turned more ominous towards the end.
But I was not impressed with the final result which was essentially former alcoholic hypochondriac spontaneously combusts.

October 20th, 2006 1:53 pm

I agree with Adolfo…. I did not like the ending at all, and the reading made me want to fall asleep. :0(

October 20th, 2006 2:48 pm

I actually have to disagree with everyone else, I loved the ending. I saw his paranoia over a pimple to be the one thing he focuses on to make life manageable, but in the end it is the pimple, the small thing that killed him. Just because you are paranoid does not mean people are not out to get you sort of thing, only with Hypocondria… I thought it was a great ending to the story. But perhaps that is just me, I am a sucker for a twist ending, or unhappy one.

October 22nd, 2006 9:37 am

I’m going to have to agree with the voices that didn’t find this story to be their cup of tea. Something about the voice in the story bugged me, and I couldn’t really enjoy it. It seemed like a much better set-up for a much different ending, one much less fantastic.

October 23rd, 2006 11:59 am

What a let down. The tale held my interest, for it was written well, but I kept thinking “when is this going to pick up?”. I have no problem with good dialog, but how is this a horror piece? It just goes on and on and on, then we arrive at an ending that just stalls out, as if the writer said “well, I’m at 5000 words. Time to end it”.

This was as scary as a midnight trip to Taco Bell. However, I did enjoy the narration. This sounds like the same gentleman that did “Bartleby in Exile” several weeks back on Escape Pod. He did a good job.

October 23rd, 2006 4:17 pm

To be honest, I didn’t care for this story. It was OK as it went, and could have been good, except for the ending. It just came off as the ending to, well, just about every “scary” story I, or my friends, ever wrote in middle school. Cutting to after everything goes down and having someone find “mysterious” clues that only we know enough to interpret just feels like a copout. Like it’s trying too hard to be mysterious.

Oh well, can’t win ’em all.

October 23rd, 2006 6:47 pm

Didn’t like this one at all. Story was long and drawn out, without having any tension or mystery to it at all. If this had been my first listen to Pseudopod, I probably would have stopped here.

I also really didn’t like the reading. The character voices were REALLY bad. Especially the guy with the Indian sounding last name, with a bad Hispanic accent. It sounded like Speedy Gonzales.

I did kinda like the woman’s voice being cut in. That played well…but everything else about this one was no fun to listen to.

October 23rd, 2006 11:16 pm

You know, I’m going to have to go with “didn’t like it.”

It started out very strong–former alcoholic, hypochondriac, trying not to pay attention to the pimple as it gets more irritating…

The man’s life falling apart provided a nice counterpoint, but it seemed very forced when his wife left…there wasn’t any indication of marital problems prior to it, so it seemed to come out of left field.

Finally, the spontaneous combustion…that also came out of left field for me. And the hair in the middle of the pimple, that being all that was left was…I don’t know. I thought it had significance, but darned if I can figure out what it is.

On the bright side, I liked having a different voice actor for the wife’s lines. It’s one of those ways in which an audio recording can improve on the original, and I approve of that.

October 24th, 2006 7:35 am

To be fair, there was plenty of indication that their marriage was in trouble. In the opening scene alone we learn that he is hiding his drinking from his wife, that there had been some trouble in the past but he had “changed” (or not, thus the hidden drinking), and he was even composing his “Dear Jane” letter in his head in anticipation of leaving her.

She obviously found his hidden booze (which is why it had been dumped out), realized that he’d been lying to her about not drinking any more, and decided to beat him to it and leave him first. That part of the story made sense, as did the issues with his job, and if those issues had been stuck to it would have been a lot more interesting.

It kind of reminds me of the movies Wolf and From Dusk ‘Till Dawn. Both were more interesting before the supernatural elements were introduced, and would have been better as straight drama without them.

October 24th, 2006 2:21 pm

I didn’t really care for this story. Lots of the other short stories on Pseudopod have really hit the spot for me (I had been lamenting the lack of a horror podcast a few weeks before I found out about Pseudopod), but this one just felt like it wasn’t all that ominous or foreboding.

*shrug* :) Keep ’em coming!

Colin F
October 25th, 2006 8:03 am

JClark – I took the “Dear Jane” letter in his head to be an “in the event of my death” thing, rather than him choosing to leave her?

I quite liked the story, although it’s certainly not the strongest Pesudopod offering to date. In fact I think it suffered by virtue of being on Pseudopod and might have had more impact if I’d come across it somewhere else first. The tension was lost, for me, because the whole it’s something / it’s nothing debate was really not a debate at all. The spot had to be something more sinister or the story wouldn’t have been Pseudopod fodder!

October 25th, 2006 11:39 am

OK, that actually fits better, with him being a hypochondriac and all. And I guess that he did come across as too meek to leave her even if he’d wanted to. Good point.

October 26th, 2006 1:26 am

Mixed feelings myself on this one. I liked the main character’s response to the “possible” job cuts, he acted almost the opposite of his hypochondria fears. Don’t worry, its nothing but it was. The pimple had to be something but spontaneous combustion? Killed the story for me. Now an alien popping out? Nah wouldn’t have worked either. Might have played a little better if he’d decided it wasn’t something but was. Contrast the job issue maybe. Reading was enjoyable though.

Reminded me of Sacred Skin, good story, ending bombed on me. The endings make horror for me. I loved the Ending to Little Boy Leg Bone, Your Shoes, and Drawing the Moon. Nice and creepy.

October 26th, 2006 6:23 am

I didn’t even make it to the end of this dullfest. The reading was so slow, I thought it was a special olympics competition. Mur, if that’s all the emotion you’re going to dump into a few words, just make Fischer talk in a high-pitched voice like Steve does. I thought I was listening to that bowl of Jell-O again.

Christ, but this was fucking dull.

Pete S
October 26th, 2006 1:07 pm

Another vote against. It just didn’t work for me on any level. I don’t get the connections here… what did his being an alcoholic have to do with anything, aside from being a reason for his wife to suddenly leave. But what did that have to do with anything. If he’d come home from work, combusted, and then his wife had come home from her job and found his ashes, would it have been much of a difference in the story?

Or was it that somehow these stresses in his life were what made the pimple cause him to combust? I just don’t get it, and that was way, way too many words to listen to in order to get a story about a pimple that kills.

I also didn’t like the narration. The narrator is fine in other things he’s done, but here it just felt phoned in.

October 26th, 2006 2:27 pm

Afraid I’ll have to go with a negative ote as well. I’ve enjoyed all the Pseudopod stories so far and enjoyed the variety of styles, but this one just left me cold. Too longwinded, no tension and I felt that I’d heard much better performances from the narrator.

Will be tuned in for nezt weeks edition! Better luck next time :)

October 27th, 2006 9:03 am

Sorry, that was just plain awful.

October 28th, 2006 10:40 am

I have to agree. I would have preferred the story to concentrate more on the main character’s life falling apart but instead we are presented with a rather dull day at work. My interest was only really piqued when he got fired, from that point until his death the story finally started picking up momentum, even if the outcome was pretty much obvious from the start. But then this speed was killed dead by the ending which, as others have said, seems as though the author lost interest himself when he’d reached the required wordcount.

On the plus side, Mur did sound more lively this week!

December 6th, 2006 5:28 pm

Man, I think I’m going to fall in with The Dislikers.

I thought the narration was good (I especially loved how the subconscious phrase “Staph Infection” was cut in), but the story just fell on it’s face at the end.

At first I thought it was foul play on the wife’s part…but then I didn’t know what to think. Spontaneous Combustion? Cool topic, but not when it’s introduced during the last paragraph!

This one missed the mark, I’m afraid.

December 17th, 2006 3:50 pm

i have to agree, while it was a it was a thoughtfull, well toned riff on the terrors of minor skin infections it lacked the canthartic relief one would want in a good horror story, a definate cop out, shame shame.

March 1st, 2007 9:13 pm

Bleh… sorry I really didn’t go for this at all. The story was excruciatingly dull, the ending was poorly set up, I found it hard to empathize with the mouth-breathing lunk of a main character, the voices were unconvincing and difficult to understand, and the whole thing was devoid of emotion. I was reminded of the morphine induced fugue state I experienced after I had knee surgery. Cotton-brained, detatched, unable to focus, and unable to care.

Mari Mitchell
March 30th, 2008 10:05 pm

Well I like Mur…

The reading was better than the last, but it still lacked a fluid quality: stiff, almost rushed.

I liked that were two readers.

I would have never chosen this story. This for me is lacking in many ways.

January 17th, 2009 6:13 pm

I think Rosie did it… It is an ok story on its own, but at the amazingness of everything else it just didn’t compete.

August 9th, 2009 2:53 am

I was pleasantly surprised at the ending, but only because when I heard the words “scientist” and “new foot soap or something” I immediately feared we would be treated to some sort of gibberish pseudoscience “He used the experimental lotion and now HORROR!” storyline. I enjoyed the idea of a man focusing his fears on something small while missing the much larger and more ominous warning signs. I don’t know that the “spontaneous combustion” ending was very satisfying; I found it a bit of a non sequitur, at least. I also think it was a teensy bit overwritten. I’d put it at something like a 5/10. Not a failure, but definitely not the cream of the crop either.