Pseudopod 010: Turista

By Joel Arnold

Read by Jason Adams

” – the chicken or maybe the chocolate. Could’ve been the chocolate. Wasn’t wrapped. That’s not a good sign. That’s never a good sign.”

Portman wondered how long she had been talking. He had given up responding to her conversations earlier in the evening, shortly before the sun had finished stretching long shadows across the highway like dirty taffy. It took too much effort to talk. Too much energy to respond. He sensed that China knew this, and felt maybe she was talking to him to keep herself awake. Sometimes he was thankful for her voice, and other times it was unbearable.

He took another weak sip of water. It felt like a dull knife jabbing him in the guts. But he was dehydrated. He needed more. He took a deep breath, raised the jug to his lips and poured it down his throat. When the water hit his stomach, it was like an explosion of glass. He fell to his side gasping for air, wheezing, trying to hold the water down. The thing in his stomach -

01
November 3rd, 2006 6:19 am

Hi, does anybody here know what’s going on with the escapepod website? It’s been fritzed for over a week.

02
SFEley
November 3rd, 2006 11:36 am

It’s working for me, yak sox. Send an e-mail to editor@escapepod.org and let me know what problems you’re having with it.

03
Tom
November 3rd, 2006 12:06 pm

And I had trouble getting myself to eat the worm before.

04
November 3rd, 2006 12:50 pm

The site seems to be working fine for me too, though there’s still no link back to the front page from any other page…

I liked this story, the ending was a great twist on the typical “monster inside me” story. The fact that he felt such empathy for the creature, that he was able to identify why it was doing what it was doing and to forgive it for those actions, was something I’ve rarely seen in horror fiction. It’s a refreshing change of pace.

By the way Mur, I think the intros and outros come across a lot better when you’re being natural, like this, rather than trying to sound ominous. I really like the short mention of reactions to previous stories, as I’ve said before. If nothing else, it makes it obvious you guys are paying attention, and it makes the whole thing feel a bit more interactive, which is always good.

Keep ‘em coming!

05
Shane
November 6th, 2006 5:50 am

This is my first story from pseudopod and I’m glad I found this site :) The piece was good, a nice example of short horror to make my ride home on the tram deliciously uncomfortable. I hope the rest of the stories keep up.

I arrived here via Escape Pod, which I like, but I don’t like their policy of only wanting optimistic stories. However, they seem to be rethinking their position after a tear-jerker recently got rave reviews, so I’m happy about that. I guess I don’t have to worry about such polices here, unless happy horror stories are not welcome…and I think I could get past that :)

06
November 7th, 2006 10:06 pm

Another gripping story. You guys are on a roll. I have minor quips with some of the author’s prose (sentences that contradict themselves, and the like), but it’s a good tale overall.

The descriptions of the worms are particularly gruesome, and I like the allusion to some kind of enforced, calmed state the bearer of the juvenile worm is subjected too.

07
Dave
November 9th, 2006 6:59 pm

This left me a little empty. I thought the writing was good overall, and it’s certainly a disturbing image, but I couldn’t find a way to care about the character. He brought about his own problem, then, at gunpoint, he forced his girlfriend, with whom he was finished once the trip was over, to drive until she collapsed. I can’t feel for him on his own merits, and I don’t feel her pain at losing him. I liked many parts of the story, but without a way to invest in at least one character emotionally, it just felt cold.

08
November 13th, 2006 5:12 pm

Nice to hear a good old fashioned monster story. And the intro and outro were hilarious.

09
Luce
November 14th, 2006 7:52 am

Loved this story. Reminded me of parasites in nature that modify their hosts behaviour in ways that mean they meet early and gruesome ends. cool :)

10
Charles
November 16th, 2006 3:33 am

The failing point of this story was the human element in the monster ecology. It is implied that the man with the homebrew has done this before–why? Why would he intentionally let loose creatures to terrorize the countryside? We are told that it is not safe to travel in the countryside at night, so the local people obviously know about and are afraid of the worms. And yet the folks in the bar put up with the propagation of monsters in order to put one over on the gringo?

This story reeks of the”white man falls prey to the randomly evil native’s juju” cliche that should have dies out years ago. And speaking of cultural insensitivity, the little quip about gypsies in the outro to “Counting From Ten” was more than a tad offensive, if you know anything about gypsies other than pop culture stereotypes.

Not to be entirely negative, I think that Pseudopod is gradually finding its place. I appreciate that you aren’t focusing solely on shock horror, but have a variety of styles. I’ll happily skip any Sigler stories you post, and give everything else a shot. Thanks for creating this market.

11
November 16th, 2006 8:32 am

The best story yet!

12
November 16th, 2006 12:30 pm

Loved it:) I’m a sucker for a good monster story and I thought the pacing, the fact that we were dropped into the middle of the story, really helped.
I understand completely Charles’ point about the ‘evil native’ element of the story and I certainly see how it could be read that way. However, for me, it was less that and more a classic ‘small town’ horror story. It wasn’t so much why the old man was brewing up worm juice but rather that everyone around there knew he was doing it and just ignored it. Same basic idea as the serial killer that keeps himself to himself or the town thief. You ignore it because that’s the way it is in a small town. Plus from time to time it can lead to hilarity, like the time someone I went to school robbed the local post office.

In the village he grew up in.

Whilst his auntie was behind the counter.

Who told him to stop being so stupid and go home.

But I digress. Great story, great monster. Good job.

13
November 27th, 2006 2:44 pm

I’ve got to say that I agree with the points Charles made about the story. I did enjoy it though. It was unusual. I like unusual.

14
December 3rd, 2006 9:13 pm

I didn’t get a sense of conflict or drama from this one. A guy is terrified that something horrible will happen to him and then…something horrible happens to him.

Also, I wish people in stories would stop obliquely referring to bizarre things. “Don’t go out at night. That’s when THEY come out.” Does anyone talk like this? If they’re monsters then say they’re monsters.

15
katy
June 4th, 2007 4:01 am

please, give me a break. learn how to write. keep working

16
Mari Mitchell
April 2nd, 2008 8:00 pm

I knew that it would giant worms when they got to drinking.

I thought this was gentally written, and went for the heart to contast with horror.

I really did not too much what happened to anyone. All the heart was for the worn.

17
Amber
January 17th, 2009 7:27 pm

I’m happy they got their kid back. Woot for the giant-mexican-taquilla-worm-monster…thing.