Pseudopod 86: The Wild Y

By Teej Grant

Read by Ben Phillips

Paul Toland liked it best as high up as he could squirrel himself beneath the bridge, right up there at the nexus, where with superstructure of the bridge itself sliced in to connect with the finished concrete of the street. Here, with his bag of belongings, his bottle, and his razor, he felt safe and content. A small voice from his earlier life told him that this was only a primitive retreat to the womb fantasies that everyone had somewhere in their subconscious; he told the small voice to shut the hell up.

Paul was younger than most of the residents under the bridge and in somewhat better condition (though certainly no poster boy for Health & Fitness Magazine), so he had little to fear from the rest of them. In fact, he was sort of like their king. As long as those damned spike-haired, body-pierced punkers stayed on their own turf, anyway.

Tonight was a sweet one. Late May, nighttime temperature hovering around seventy, almost too warm, but with a frisky and teasing wind to alleviate any discomfort, bringing with it the salty taste of the Bay. It was moonless and quiet, too. By four a.m., Paul was in a deep sleep that was unbroken by even the dreams that tended to haunt his nights.

April 18th, 2008 8:08 am

A nice story, but by the time they’d given him the first taste of Wild Y bliss, without confirming his assumptions, I knew something was wrong. I took a guess at the outcome, and I was right.

Well written, Interesting, but a little too predictable at the end. Of course, I’ve been guilty of the same thing at times…

Mari Mitchell
April 18th, 2008 3:38 pm

I really liked the title. I thought the story was well written; the words well chosen and why he chose the elements of tale were well done.

The idea behind the tale is not remarkable fresh but the ride nonetheless enjoyable.

The read was perfect!

I liked the ending comments as well. Alasdair is always a delight. To me he looks like a dirty blonde Mel Gibson, but younger and less of a Christian drunk. It’s his playful nature that I find compelling. Although he sounded a tad under the weather.

There was a book about the subject of many personalities not being uncommon, but in fact something we all do. I wish I could recall the title

Although I can see why the new guy have the physical features of the president but why would have all of the same bad habits. I think a great many of them are because of the events we have gone through.

Brian Deacon
April 18th, 2008 8:47 pm

Alright, I’ll take the cheap shot:

“This isn’t even bad science fiction. It’s below that level.” — Paul Toland, The Wild Y

And the kind of nit-picky stuff that I hate seeing on forums, but I’ll do it anyway: My math says there would be only a little over 100 people on the planet with this gene if it effects 1 in 30 million males. I think that puts 5 of them in the United States. What are the odds that those 5 people are having their blood undergoing testing that the government could get to?

And this was a silly movie when it was called “Dave”.

The non-sequitor sex scene was totally awkward.

Enough kvetching… maybe something a little more thoughtful. Horror has not been my bag, but Pseudopod is making it increasingly so. (Do take that as the large compliment it was intended to be.) But this story seems to suffer from the problem that SF and Fantasy seem less prone to — an over-reliance on the twist ending. I don’t think it’s inherent to horror, but I’m beginning to suspect that short horror is maybe more hamstrung by the shortness aspect than the other genres, and so has a more limited list of techniques for making a good story. I don’t even have anything against twist endings. It just seems that they get used a lot more in this genre than others. Having said that, I actually hated this story less once I got the twist ending. And furthermore, the story is a heck of a lot better than the zero short stories I have ever written, so let me just go on record as saying that Teej Grant totally kicks my butt. :)

This would be a good segue into the pigeon-holing argument over whether this was more of a horror story or an SF piece. Except that I find that whole line of thought incredibly uninteresting.

Okay, I promise the next time I post, I will be less snarky. I’m still a huge fan. And like Mari, I think Alasdair is the K-Raddiest.

Void Munashii
April 18th, 2008 11:44 pm

I enjoyed the story, even if the ending was a bit predictable before the big reveal. The only real criticism I have is that this seems more like a story for EscapePod than a horror story.

April 19th, 2008 10:34 am

If you can’t say something nice… well, then there wouldn’t be much written on the internet, right?

The sex scene was clunky and implausible.

The twist ending was extremely obvious. I kept hoping that he’d have to portray a presidential pet, like Nixon’s Checker’s the Dog.

And OK, isn’t the whole premise just a teensy bit silly not to mention misogynistic that a man would prefer being a homeless alcoholic to being a rich and powerful woman?

But heck, I’m still a HUGE Ben Phillips fan. And honestly, I still a pretty big Pseudopod fan.

April 19th, 2008 12:26 pm

Maybe it’s just because I didn’t listen to it until I was really tired, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the twist. Since it was short horror fiction, but looked like it was setting up a short science fiction novel, I knew it was going to have to have SOME kind of twist to qualify it for this site, but what the actual twist was didn’t occur to me.

As far as your misogyny comment, GrimGnome, I really didn’t see it that way. I certainly agree that if someone was offered the choice to think the situation through, and was presented with the choice in the words you use, it would be pretty crazy, and probably sexist, to turn it down. But to look down and suddenly realize your penis is missing would be a pretty traumatic thing for a guy, even worse if he thought fast enough to realize that he could probably not turn back, and at least one or two first ladies had already been killed.

April 20th, 2008 12:11 pm

I guess I’m the biggest idiot in the room. I know a twist happened at the end of the story, but can anyone explain to me what happened so I can know if it was predictable too? ;) Thanks.

April 21st, 2008 8:36 pm

Yeah, I saw the ending coming about the time it was mentioned (genetically normal) women don’t have a Y chromosone. But then I may have read one too many stories with the same ending twist (minus the strangler President.) Plus, it’s on the Horror podcast, so it couldn’t just end with the actor becoming President.

April 21st, 2008 8:38 pm

Juvenile plot. Pedantic writing. Gratuitous sex scene. Seems that the only worthwhile part was the quote “This isn’t even bad science fiction . . . ” The true horror was that this story was 15 minutes long.

April 24th, 2008 12:51 pm

This should be on Escape Pod.

April 24th, 2008 4:23 pm

I liked the story, but, yeah, I gotta say, more SF than horror. Plus the sex scene? What was that? Say the twist coming a mile away, just waited to see what it was.
But it was still worth the listen!

April 25th, 2008 1:11 am

This story didn’t quite work for me. I knew a twist was coming. I didn’t actually guess it, but I felt disappointed when I realized what had happened. I said, “Was that all?” Like another commented, I find it absurd that a disintegrating, homeless drunk wouldn’t be willing to take his chances in a relatively (we assume) fit female body, even if he might have to brain the president to survive. Liver failure is a pretty lousy way to die. I also assumed that the sex was only there to show us that he’s heterosexual and will now have gender identity issues. It felt kind of stuffed sideways into the story – an issue that’s barely presented and then abandoned.

April 30th, 2008 2:18 am

Hmm. Not so much “a story with a twist” as an over-lengthy joke. Given the one throw-away line revealing that the incumbent is a Democrat, I’m getting a pretty clear picture as to not merely the gender but the identity of the First Lady in question. To be fair, I suppose discovering you’ve been genetically transmogrified into Hillary would be pretty horrifying.

May 2nd, 2008 4:23 pm

Predictable twist, amusing ending, useless sex scene, flat characters.

Not scary in the slightest.
Although I’m a bit out of date, the last one that creeped me out was Votary, which I disliked because of how gross it was while at the same time noticing some interesting workmanship.

May 6th, 2008 10:25 pm

No. Not scary. But it doesn’t mean we can’t take something out of it. This started as an 8/10, but turned into a 6. What happened?

Eh, I still enjoyed the story, though. I knew all politicians were 60 year old bums. ;)

May 17th, 2008 9:06 pm

The PERFECT blend of SF/Fantasy/Horror – this deserves exposure on Escape Pod and Podcastle!

June 11th, 2008 2:06 pm

Awesome idea! This could be the basis of a novel!

July 5th, 2008 7:39 pm

I won’t waste anyone’s time with too much of a “me too” (Continuum is right on the money). Silly, waste of a time story seemingly written with a high-schooler’s understanding of gender relations.

Maybe Escape Artist should start a “humor pod” or “frivolity pod” for these kinds of things. Maybe Pseudopod should go to bi-weekly or fill the occasional gap with readings of some older public domain titles.

And, yes, no need to get into the genre shell-game but this, to me, was pure sci-fi with an unhappy ending. And, since I’ve already (finally) listened to next week’s, that one was as well.

I appreciated the shout-out to “The Immortal” television show, though.

Thanks for listening

“The Underground marks its disdain for The Mainstream by referring to it in feminized terms”
Peter Shapiro from “Club Culture” review, The Wire # 143, January, 1996

July 10th, 2008 5:34 pm

way to waste a big open-ended idea on a small cheap ending.

October 23rd, 2008 8:28 am

Yea !! This is indeed a great idea for a longer story.
I liked it very much.
To me it has a ‘pulpy’ feel, and I like easy to read/listen stories.
Whether they’re scifi, horror, detective or adventure.
Great site by the way.
Best of luck from the Netherlands.