Pseudopod 047: Akropolis

By Matt Wallace

Read by Phil Rossi

Danneth is thirty-six and he still dreams of it. Five of them entered
the Akropolis that night. It should’ve been hot, but the stone was
cold when they touched it. They wandered the empty city for hours
before finally making the trek up the long, steep steps. They made
their way to the highest chamber, a fortified structure surrounded by
battlements crowned with twisted, unrecognizable shapes. It was empty,
too. They found a room with veined walls, lines thick and twisting
like petrified kudzu. The strange runes that they would come to know
as runati surrounded the throne-like chair with its stone skull cap,
the dome designed to open heads and burn the runati into brains.

Somehow it spoke to Danneth’s father. What it later took the
scientists months to begin to decipher, the old man knew that first
night. But he let them fumble with it, allowed them to study it, to
begin to expose it to the world. He let them believe he was a simple
farmer just happy to have made first contact with such a discovery.
And when the time came that their inept ministrations were of no more
use, he, the simple farmer, ejected the government from the Akropolis.

Bruce P
July 20th, 2007 3:36 pm

I found this story a rather bland, and was left with a feeling of “so what?”

July 20th, 2007 6:14 pm

I disagree with you Bruce. I find this story creepy as all get out. I think the story is epic. I can see how MW got a short story optioned for film.

I also found this story to be well read. Thumbs up.

July 21st, 2007 9:24 pm

One of my favorite PseudoPods so far. Expected yet another boring commute through the Cthulu Mythos, but instead got a strongly voiced, economic, well designed tale with a great, perfectly owned twist. We’ll hope for the best with Wallace’s film option.

Mark Henderson
July 22nd, 2007 2:01 pm

Excellent story, excellent reading. Totally creeped me out and I listened to it several times already. Refreshing horror fiction.

Bruce P
July 23rd, 2007 11:27 am

I didn’t think there was anything creepy about it. Unstoppable protagonist meets no true challenge. The twist at the end would make for a better story.

Dave (aka Nev the Deranged... or is it the other way around?)
July 25th, 2007 7:55 pm

I really liked this one. I don’t find any so-called “horror” stories particularly frightening, but I appreciated the epic scale and the twist ending. It could have had a little more detail, and as Bruce notes, a worthy antagonist might have been more interesting, but I sense that wasn’t really the point of the story. The Akropoli HAD to be all-powerful, to make their impending slavery mean something. Very well red, too.

I also think this scenario would make an interesting setting for a game. Sure, the alien overlords bit has been done, but you can never get too much of a good thing.

Unless it’s cheese.

Alex Debord
August 2nd, 2007 3:20 am

I was very very scared of the whole thing :/ I mean, to me the most horrifying this is utter helplessness, not like zombies that you can just shoot in the head, but real MONSTERS like this. Although it doesn’t have the blood and gore than some of us enjoy, it just goes to show you what a good author can do. I hope to see the film!

August 3rd, 2007 2:39 pm

Best yet. Or at least among my top 3.

The absence of a traditional ‘antagonist’ didn’t hurt this story at all. It was a strong concept piece, experimental, yes, but quite good. I thoroughly enjoyed the image of the masters descending in their great city to claim the world their servant has taken for them. At the end, I had a great image of the once-human cephalopoid Danneth silhouetted squamously against the stars atop his tower and looking with joy as his masters arrive. It gave a fantastic sense of the epic scope and awesome power of these beings.

August 11th, 2007 12:19 pm

This story, from the school of “tell, don’t show,” was one of the more painful stories to which to listen from the tentacle works here in quite some time. I kept waiting for something to happen. Some sort of development, some sort of challenge, some sort of conflict.

But, when you write in a manner that just tells everything instead of showing it, there’s no room for action, challenge, or conflict. What you’re left with is a bland outline of a story.

Seriously. I’d have honestly preferred a rerun of that werewolf president flop than this, it was so bad.

Nyct Amotus
September 22nd, 2007 9:06 pm

I liked it, and I was just considering listening to it again. But the twist ending (to me) made it “epically hopeless” and there was not much on an individual human scale to relate to.

March 21st, 2008 8:47 am

This story was fantastic- one of Pseudopod’s best. 10/10

Mari Mitchell
April 15th, 2008 4:46 am

Interesting but not the best lovecraftian tale. Then again I have not liked his others here either.

May 21st, 2009 2:16 pm

I really liked this; the perspective was so incredibly alien and inhuman that it was actually scary to me.