Pseudopod 053: The Apple Tree Man

By Joel Arnold

Read by Ben Phillips

I hope my son doesn’t notice how fidgety I’ve become. I want him to live a normal life. I want him to grow up healthy. Isn’t that the hope of every father?

He takes a bite and I hear the squish of his teeth in the apple’s pulp. As the nausea builds in me, the world swivels on one big spindle, and I can’t help but turn to look.

His face is covered with blood.

He takes another bite and I feel the world falling out from under me.

More blood spurts from the apple, splattering his chin, his neck, drenching his yellow tee-shirt with it.

He looks up at me. Smiling. Chewing.

August 31st, 2007 11:41 am

Impressive story! very entertaining, very well done.

August 31st, 2007 10:07 pm

I have been listening to these podcasts for about 2 months and I am addicted to it. I find this story to be a little strange, but I enjoyed the whole guilt over time issue, and you have to remember its not always the boogey man that gets ya, sometimes its your friends

August 31st, 2007 11:06 pm

This brings back childhood memories of Mulberry St … I was 8, just immigrated from HK & learning English in NYC:

We were playing in Columbus Park, just discovered water ballones when one of the kids hurled one (red, as I remembered) at a homeless man. I just stood there, watching in horror. The image of his wet beard, dripping on to his slice of drooping pizza …. is forever seared in me !

No one died that day, but part of my innonce was lost …

Horace S. Patoot
September 1st, 2007 9:19 am

This was an outstanding piece. It contained all of the elements of great story writing — a plot, a message, character development, vivid imagery where needed, vagueness where required, unpredictability, a likable family-man protagonist and the dreadful realization by degrees that things are much more horrible than they appeared at first. This is on my one hand list of the best stories at this podcast.

September 3rd, 2007 7:19 pm

Loved it. I could see the horror in this piece- it was more in the humanity or lack thereof. I loved the ending and how weird it was that the main character wasn’t the one who started the original killing, but ended up finishing it.

September 4th, 2007 2:33 pm

I thought the story was extremely well told, but I’m running into something that might be a mini generation gap. The stupid sh** I did when I was a kid doesn’t scare me. I’m 27, born in the age of saturation media, and no one my age was allowed freedom to rove their hometown and get in “Stand by Me”-like trouble. Keep in mind, in the 80s, parents were so afraid of (essentially nonexistent) child abductions that “kid leashes” were in vogue.

Guilt and revulsion seemed to be the basis of the story’s horror, with a few awkward dips into hallucination. Again I’m reminded of mid-career Steven King. Perfect marks on the technical program, but the construction felt warmed over.

September 5th, 2007 9:39 pm

My attention kept wandering while listening to this story, this story with the oh-so predictable ending. I kept getting yanked back to it by the recording problems resulting in repeated words and phrases.

September 8th, 2007 4:21 am

I thought it was very well put together. Very vivid and rich in detail.

September 12th, 2007 12:49 pm

Spork, thanks for pointing out the repetitions — I hear them, in the barn scene. I’ll have to be more careful.

Bright Eyes
September 12th, 2007 4:58 pm

Space Toast,

I don’t think it’s a generational thing. I’m 25, but grew up in rural North Dakota. Crazy “stand by me” like trouble is what I was raised on. Guess it’s more an urban vs. rural childhood thing.

I loved the story from start to finish. From now on, I’ll rate every story by awarding 1-5 out of 5 possible ‘bloody apples’ until I hear a better story.

So yeah, this one gets 5/5 Bloody Apples! :D

October 4th, 2007 2:15 pm

Throwing in my two cents as well, even if this has been out for a while.

I kid of agree with some of the generation/origin gap comments; I grew up in the suburbs in the late eighties/early nineties, so I can’t really relate very well to this story. So it’s hard to get into it, and overall it unfortunately just wasn’t too scary; I don’t know what I’d call it, but it almost didn’t even seem like horror at times.

All of those complaints aside, this might be the best-written story I’ve heard yet on Pseudopod; I’ve been listening since ‘Little Boy Leg Bone’, and I thought this was amazing. The imagery was great, as was the personal narration of the protagonist trying to convince himself he isn’t insane.

If writing quality stays this high, I don’t see how anyone would stop listening.

Dave (aka Nev the Deranged... or is it the other way around?)
October 6th, 2007 2:20 pm

Holy cow, was this an actual story? With an actual ending? I’m stunned!

It was even a pretty *good* story, recording glitches aside.

Maybe there’s hope for Pseudopod yet!