Pseudopod 018: Oranges, Lemons and Thou Beside Me

By Eugie Foster

Read by Paul S. Jenkins

With fingers still lightly dusted with confectioner’s powder, Khloii reached for the I/O wire that would meld them together, letting them share the memories of the last eight years. As children, after their implants had been installed, the learning programs downloaded and processed, they had double interfaced mind-to-mind. Their minds so similar, forged together now by circuitry and wire, sharing sensation, thoughts, memories, and emotions, they had become closer than brother and sister, even twins of the same womb. They spent hours silently communing, at last not even trying to hide their obsession with each other. Sabin caught her hand before she could press the needle-thin plug into the port at the base of his skull. “You want to live eight years of war?”

December 29th, 2006 1:47 pm

loved this one
its rigt up thare whith “her shose”

December 30th, 2006 3:53 am

Enjoyed the story, but felt it was more suited to Escape Pod than Pseudopod, since it’s basically scifi.

December 30th, 2006 3:36 pm

I think I would have enjoyed this story in a book or magazine, but I just cannot stand Paul S Jenkins voice. And I’m from the UK too, so thats not a racist slight.

Anyway, other than that, please keep up the good work Pseudopod, Ive come accross many great stories since I subscribed, and long may it continue.

December 31st, 2006 1:07 pm

I really enjoyed this story, sending me down one track, thinking I know who the victims and the aggressors are, then spinning that right round again and again and again!

I’m in two minds about Mr Jenkins reading. I didn’t like it at the start, it was too dry and emotionless, but when we got to the finale it was quite effective. And I’m a Brit too!

Colin F
January 2nd, 2007 6:35 am

Now THAT was a good story. A healthy helping of both creepy unpleasantness and plot twists.

A strong finish to 2006 and I know that I’ll enjoy more good stories here in 2007. Thanks to Mur and the gang for all your efforts so far.

January 3rd, 2007 1:27 am

I remember reading this story in either Asimov’s or Analog–about a year or so ago. Hearing it does make quite a contrast.

January 3rd, 2007 3:27 am

excelent story. i had to pause it for a few hours, right as the dream scene started, so i got to revel in his agony and fear at hurting someone he loved so much, revealing what her purity and his desires had turned him into. then to return and hear the final twist… just wonderful all around.

January 3rd, 2007 11:29 am

That was a very satisfying story, and I enjoyed the reader’s performance as well.

I remember wondering, at one point, whether the story was better suited for Escape Pod. This is because I am a regular Escape Pod listener, and if I were not I decided I would not have questioned the story’s selection for Pseudopod. Scifi aside, the story has all the right (meaning wrong and demented) psychological elements of a truly horrific horror story. (IMHO) The inclusion of scifi elements, or elements from any other genre for that matter, shouldn’t be the sole factor considered when selecting material. More like this is fine with me!

January 3rd, 2007 12:16 pm

Wow. What a horrible story. I loved it.

I’ve got no problem with hearing more sci-fi horror like this, especially since Escape Pod doesn’t do much of it. I actually enjoyed Mr. Jenkins reading, but hey, I’m American, what do I know? :) Great story to cap off the old year and bring in the new one.

January 3rd, 2007 7:02 pm

It wasn’t what I think of when I think of horror, either. But that didn’t stop me from enjoying the heck out of it!!

A great finish to the year. And I enjoyed Mur’s intro quite a bit, too.

January 4th, 2007 7:20 am

Oh man. I loved this story. It was creepy in all the right places.

I think that this story was suited for Pseudopod rather than Escape Pod because Escape Pod tries to be “fun” SF (although as I recall, they’ve had some pretty serious stuff as of late) – and this was just plain disturbing.

I did find the ending a little…lacking. It wasn’t bad by any means, but I was expecting revenge from the secretary, or else some sort of mental torture fueled by eight years of war.

And I really enjoyed the reader’s voice! I thought it was brilliant for “Sacred Skin” and I think it works just as well for this one!

I loved it!

January 4th, 2007 10:37 am

i never thought that the pervsion would be justified, and yet, it was. this is a new side of horror that i never thought of before.

January 6th, 2007 5:27 pm

This was, in my opinion, the best story so far… More like this and i’ll be forced to donate!

January 7th, 2007 6:11 pm

Best story so far, without a doubt.

Recently I’ve been struggling with being a non-believer in the supernatural AND a lover of horror stories. So many horror stories require that I side with the protagonist and believe something that no rational person would that I was beginning to wonder if this was a necessary convention of the genre. Looks like it’s not. Thanks.

Tom Purcell
January 8th, 2007 2:45 pm

That was the first Pseudopod story that _really_ disturbed me, good job everyone.

January 16th, 2007 11:40 pm

This is my new favorite Pseudopod story. I was kind of like others at first wondering if this could be an EscapePod but the ending really made it a horror story for me. Trapped in your own head with someone else in control of your body, shivers! I rather liked the reading also. Well done!

February 9th, 2007 10:51 am

Wow, i’m still shivering and twitching. It’s perfect.

Mr. Bernie
April 7th, 2007 9:25 pm

sweeeet!!! this is, surely, one of the best stories pseudopod has ever published! The mystery of the end…and Mur reading…great!!

April 26th, 2007 2:45 pm

I have to agree with just about everyone here. One of the best tales on pseudopod thus far. I hate that I’m so behind and playing catch up but whoa what a twisted ending heh-heh.

Eroom Tam
July 12th, 2007 9:35 am

(I just discovered Pseudopod and am catching up, so sorry for the late entry.)

I certainly did *not* love this story. The kernel of the story was fine, but this really could have used a good re-write to even out the beats and flow of the narrative. Right when Saben (sp?) has Derek on the floor, we interrupt the tension for a lengthy flashback? Come on, sprinkle what we learn in the flashback throughout the rest of the story rather than interupting the narrative.

And frankly, after all of Saban’s military training, practice and hardware, his sister can defeat him? Hardly. And *why* did she want his body again? Perhaps if there was more to it, like following her rape she had vowed to rape *him*, but to do that she would take his body, so left some weakness planted within his mind that she could exploit later.

And the whole “we were so evil as children” deus ex machina feels flat and trite — oooh, aren’t we so psycho!

I think the best beat of the story is when Saban just arrives home and takes some lemon bars as he enters the house. He has been without this favorite confection for 8 years, and his sister takes one from him…when she just as well could have taken one from the tray. *That* action spoke volumes about their relationship and how cruel the sister (her name escapes me at the moment) could be. *That* simple action made me hate her.

Like I said, a good kernel, and with some revisions I think it would hit its marks and have a much better rhythm. As it stands, it’s too much like bad M. Night Shyamalan.

Mari Mitchell
April 8th, 2008 1:16 pm

Well I thought this was a winner.

January 19th, 2009 2:56 am

This leaves me wanting to know more but at the same time not wanting to know. How the two figure out how to live and what not yet liking the fact that it would be worse to find out and kind of ruin it. I like it.

August 9th, 2009 3:10 am

Absolutely fabulous. Deeply haunting.

I hate it when they’re this good. I don’t have anything to say.