Pseudopod 033: The Sounds That Come After Screaming

By Ian Creasey

Read by Nick Popio

The alchemists just did their job; they had no personal spite, and they understood the limits of their human material. She — whoever she was — had no such dispassion. At first she barely understood the apparatus, and turned dials at random to see how I reacted. When she experimentally tweaked one control, creating a mild throb that I estimated at 0.25 pangs, I yelled as if agonised, to make her think she was delivering more pain than she really was. It was a mistake. Now that she knew the dial did something, she turned it up, and up, and up. For a while I screamed in earnest, until she turned me down to take a call on her crystal.

“Hello?… I can’t tell you…. It’s the secret lab, silly!… Well, what else is there to do?… Oh, all kinds of stuff. Listen!” With one firm twist she turned the dial to maximum.

My shriek must have registered on all the seismic monitors in Wyke. The pain was beyond agony, so much so that a new word was needed — or an old one, like hell. It lasted a few moments, a few years, a few centuries.

“Just a prisoner,” she said in the stretching silence. “No, I’m fine…. Yes, of course I’ll be at the party. I’ll see you later.”

April 15th, 2007 11:03 pm

strong story
sometimes i wish i’d reach epiphany about mmporgs.

then i spend a couple hours on the computer and forget why i cared.

Bright Eyes
September 17th, 2007 4:47 pm

This one’s a keeper.

Who could RESIST the opportunity to subject themselves to simulated torture, just to see how much they could take…?

Mari Mitchell
April 11th, 2008 6:32 pm

SO it seems that somewhere along the pod Mur is no more. I listen to the current pods as well and there is no Mur.

Ben is around.

Nick Popio sounds a bit like Keanu Reeves. I get the idea he sort filled in for someone. He stumbled more than once. Now I am not saying I could do a better job, nor was it really bad, but not as good as most.

January 24th, 2009 4:24 pm

Good story. Not one of my favorites but I can see this kind of technology coming up in the world very soon.

July 30th, 2009 2:09 am

Excellent, excellent story, and all the more terrifying for its eerie plausibility. Hell, the only thing in the story that we don’t already have is the ability to make the pain mimic other, very specific symptoms. Pain scales, systematic torture with half-compliant victims, and even machines to cause unbearable pain without leaving a mark. (Though those can be defeated with a Faraday cage; initially, I’d assumed that’s what the Southerner’s headbands were meant to be, some sort of defensive tool.)

I can’t believe this one didn’t get more love from the readership. I was enthralled and appalled for the duration.