Psuedopod 046: The Hanging at Christmas Bridge

By David E. Hilton

Read by Ben Phillips

A mosquito bit him promptly on the neck behind his left ear and upon giving it a good smack, George Steckholm realized with utter terror that he simply was not dreaming. He was in his car, in the heart of the night, and he was idling motionless in the middle of the dew-streaked road, idling, idling, in front of Christmas Bridge.

In the cream-colored passenger seat laid an object. One that made him turn away immediately, still half hoping that he’d see Catherine, lying beside him in their bed. The confusion was the worst part, the grogginess, the spinning motion in his head and in his stomach that made him want to both pass out and be sick at the same time.

“No. No . . . I never purchased that. Never bought such a thing. Not at all. Did I?” He whispered everything to himself in a manner that suggested sharp denial. Yet the large bundle of rope remained, sitting there so innocently, but something deep inside George knew better than to believe there was anything innocent about it.

01
wez
July 18th, 2007 3:48 am

i thoroughly enjoyed this one! there’s something to be said about a latent lunacy within each and every one of us, and the fear of some external force controlling our actions while we have to act the puppet. the horror.

02
David E. Hilton
July 18th, 2007 9:18 am

Thanks, I really enjoyed writing this piece. It is sort of a throwback with a classic feel, but that’s what I intended, and it was fun. The image of a forced suicide was what I found the most intriguing, and the story just grew from there. I hope more people enjoy it as well!

03
July 19th, 2007 7:18 pm

Very well done. I liked that it was a throwback ghost story and sense of doom building throughout. I also liked the twist at the end. I was pretty sure poor George had damned himself. Although I get the idea that in the future, he might be called upon to make a similiar sacrifice. Thanks for the story!

04
July 26th, 2007 10:52 pm

I enjoyed this, David. Definitely my kind of horror. I my opinion, the implied is far more terrifying than gore, which, while having its place, seems to saturate the horror landscape these days.

05
Barrett Johnson
July 27th, 2007 11:55 pm

This one actually made my skin crawl. Stories of malevolent objects have always scared the bejeezus out of me. Good job!

06
Dave (aka Nev the Deranged... or is it the other way around?)
July 29th, 2007 11:15 am

I never really have gotten the “malevolent object” genre of ghost story myself. Maybe if there’d been more about why the bridge was… haunted? evil? whatever. And it always irritates me when “protagonists” act helpless. A friend saves your life and you leave him there to die in some misguided attempt to appease the will of this inanimate evil force? To hell with that. How can you live with yourself after that?

I dunno. It all just seems heavy handed to have the main character just wake up in the thrall of this thing and never have a chance to do anything about it- where’s the human drama in that?

Real horror, to me, is about the choices people make. Like in the Stockholm Syndrome story, when the sniper lets the girl get eaten even though he might have saved her. That’s messed up. That’s scary. Some guy being magically forced to commit suicide? Meh. After his dream about his pregnant wife, I was expecting him to turn against her, Shining style, but he didn’t even get that much respect as a character.

I will freely admit, I’m harder on “horror” stories than, for instance, the ones on EP. I think horror is a much more difficult genre. The line between horror and SF is razor thin, as far as I’m concerned. Nearly all of Stephen King and Dean Koontz’ stories, for instance, read as SF to me.

But that’s just me. Keep the stories coming, and I’ll keep listening.

Sorry to hear Mur had to step down, her near-ubiquity in the geek community had to catch up with her sometime, though. Hope she’s taking a well deserved breather, and good luck in her future endeavors.

07
John Austin
October 18th, 2007 9:48 pm

Great story Dave. Give us Part II. We gotta see the baby.

08
Mari Mitchell
April 15th, 2008 4:25 am

Good reading.

What is about bridges. They seem to collect things, bad things: trolls, ghosts of all kinds?

The story itself was okay.

09
November 5th, 2008 11:09 pm

It’s fun. ATP Subscribe to the RCC perhaps