Pseudopod 91: Caesar’s Ghost

By Eugie Foster

Read by Cat Rambo

I saw my dead ferret, Caesar, last night in my living room. I’d dozed off
watching re-runs on TV and woke up to the tickle-prick of whiskers against
my hand. When I looked down and saw him, I picked him up and settled him
under my chin. We’d always slept like that on the couch, him nestled
against me, a warm weight rising and falling as I breathed.

I closed my eyes and remembered; Caesar was dead. I sat up, bang, and he
was gone.

I told Richard about it the next morning at work.

“I think my ferret’s haunting me,” I said, hoping to start things on a light
note after our rocky parting the previous evening.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Kathy,” he snapped back.

It was the first time he’d ever been sharp with me. An awkward silence
sprang up and clocked in for the long haul.




This week’s episode sponsored by Audible.com, who has extended their generous offer of a free audiobook download of your choice from their selection of over 40,000 titles.


01
Mari Mitchell
May 23rd, 2008 4:16 pm

What the heck was she making in the crockpot: celery and cheese.

There are not enough haunted ferret stories.

I loved when the ferret ran amuck in heaven, steeling saint’s sandals.

This story captured the nature of ferrets well.

Great ending. A melancholy and sweet love story.

And my cat loves to be with me. Always in reach , sharing with me his gift of love. May we all know the love of a pet.

02
May 24th, 2008 12:57 pm

I wasn’t into this story too much. I guess I like ferrets and everything, but… This one just didn’t do it for me. Both characters were insane, and I don’t know if I consider this one too much of a horror story.

03
Pet Lover
May 24th, 2008 2:26 pm

Neat story. I miss my dead hamster.

And I don’t know why every story on here turns into a debate about whether it is horror or not. Genre borders are blurry and I think people would enjoy themselves more if they didn’t worry about pigeonholing every story.

04
May 25th, 2008 12:41 pm

That story actually made me cry! But, in a good way. I know that in real life Eugie has a much-loved pet skunk, and I wonder if she substituted ferret, because more people would be familiar with ferrets. Anyway, the linking of violence to animals and violence to women was clever and realistic, and the idea of a pet coming back to help was touching.

05
May 25th, 2008 2:45 pm

First story in a while that made my skin crawl.
Mmmm… microwave casserole.
:Eric

06
Ogion The Silent
May 26th, 2008 3:11 am

Psychos and ghosts are always a winning combination. I liked the way Caesar’s “motivation” was kept ambiguous as long as possible: was he going to turn out to be an evil jealous ghost-ferret or a kindly, protective ghost-ferret?

Good story – a bit sentimental at the end – beautifully read and with noticeably better sound quality than some recent escapeartists ‘casts.

07
May 26th, 2008 12:30 pm

I quite enjoyed this story; I found the depictions of the creepy little domestic animal ghosts quite endearing. If anything, I’d have enjoyed giving them an even larger part in the story; perhaps bringing them into the office, or into her house when he was hanging around.

08
May 27th, 2008 1:41 pm

I really enjoyed this one. I thinks its my favorite Eugie Foster story. A nice diversion from the typical ghost story. I’m not a pet person myself and I often scratch my head at the antics of those who are, but the witting really sold me on the character’s attachment to her pet, and I felt like I really understood her.

Still don’t want a pet though.

09
May 27th, 2008 5:39 pm

I loved it. Like “Ogion The Silent”, I was not sure what the little animals were going to do in the end. Since all of the animals other then (I presume) the ferret were shown as they were killed, presumably all by Richard, how does the microwaveable ferret fit in?

Or am I missing something?

10
Ogion The Silent
May 28th, 2008 3:01 am

I think the microwave thing was Caesar attempting to sabotage the date any way he could.

11
May 28th, 2008 9:05 am

Wow… I didn’t think of that. I think you are right, when you think of him stealing the keys and shoes and the like.

12
Paul Smithee
May 28th, 2008 9:13 am

I dug this story. Finally, Pseudopod put out something that wasn’t about a surreal dystopia (The Exibition), a depressing moral fable (Heartstrung), soft, redeeming body-horror (Wounds, Rapunzel’s Room) or a zombie story. I found this story toe-curling creepy. The unstable narrator, the animal-killing asshole of a boyfriend, and a ghost ferret that could be good, could be bad. Cool stuff.
On the downside, I felt the microwave scene was kind of a cheap shock. But the story actually scared me, which is much more than I can say about most of the recent Pseudopod offerings.

13
May 28th, 2008 6:35 pm

Eugie Foster is the only Escape Artists writer who’s been so consistently good that I’ve remembered her name. This story wasn’t spectacular, but for whatever reason it scared me more than usual. Maybe because it was less of an artsy thing like a lot of the stories on here seem to be, and it had bloody kittens in it.

14
May 28th, 2008 6:37 pm

Well, a bloody kitten.

15
N. Tate
June 2nd, 2008 1:24 am

I think the microwave ferret is a different than her pet. I think he killed IT in place of killing her’s.

I do think that because her pet was her guardian angle, that he stole those to try and get to NOT go with him. And that he willing passed to the other-side so that when the time came, he would be there for her.

16
Ogion The Silent
June 2nd, 2008 2:57 am

Nice theory, but doesn’t Kathy actually recognise the semi-roasted ferret as Caesar?

17
June 4th, 2008 10:22 am

This one gets saved as a favorite! Even though Richard turned out to be a freak, I still wonder about Kathy… at least another pet will be rescued!

18
June 8th, 2008 8:04 pm

A bit predictable, but amusing nonetheless.

19
Spork
June 10th, 2008 6:14 pm

This was an excellent PodCastle story. It wasn’t horror, as the only scary moment was easily seen ahead of time, and it really didn’t last long enough to drive tension or fear for the protag.

Like the ending of this story, it’s just too “warm fuzzy” to be even remotely considered horror. There was nothing substantially horrific about it.

20
Sgarre1
July 8th, 2008 10:37 pm

Funny, I just reread “Ricki Ticki Tavi” this week (okay, mongoose, but still) and “Shredni Vashtar” about 3 weeks ago. Odd, that.

Why was this not named “Great…Caesar’s Ghost” or “Great…Just Great…Caesar’s Ghost” – are there no more Perry White fans?

This seemed like a cute, touching, humorous fantasy story that got sullied by becoming a horror story. Because a story with a ghost ferret can still be flexible, but if you want a ghost ferret AND a boyfriend/psychopath, that immediately makes it not only a horror story, but a particular kind of horror story, because that’s asking a lot from the reader. Less serious, more (much more) pulpy. So, it’s a lot for the writer to juggle and the reader to swallow unless you keep it deliberately cartoonish.

I figured early on that it would come down to the the ghost ferret wanting to “protect” his mistress from her new boyfriend (since those are the two set-ups), but I still figured this would be light-hearted and the boyfriend would be a cad or something. Or maybe, just maybe, the story would be about the boyfriend learning to live with the ghost ferret because he does love the woman and so it’s about them both dealing with a new experience – her, the GHOST ferret, him the GHOST FERRET. Surely, neither outcomes are horror but then, there seems to be a lot of bleed from the other genre podcasts happening here, and they both could be fun in a John Kendricks Bangs or John Collier kinda way.

Well, we get dead ghost animals (a nice effect, actually, and presents another direction possibility – the narrator keeps seeing more and more dead pets – is she mad or just overly sympathetic?), which works, but then we get to the “madman just keeping it under control” and the story loses me there. Then, it could only have ended as a Roald Dahl-esque, mean-spirited meditation on how we anthropomorphize pets and ended with the ferret finally getting comeuppance on his helpless owner (and that would have been too bitter and dark to mesh with the opening) to even have a chance of working for me.

So, no, not my kind of story. The writing, separate from the plot, was nice in spots and a little OTT in spots.

Alasdair missed a chance to mention Gef the Talking Mongoose again? I’m shocked!

Thanks For Listening

“Despots prefer the friendship of the dog, who, unjustly mistreated and debased, still loves and serves the man who wronged him.”
Charles Fourier, “Elephant And Dog”

21
Heather
September 2nd, 2008 2:46 am

I was physically sickened by the descriptions of animal torture. I mean it. I actually threw up. I guess that’s why it’s called ‘horror’.

The ending was well worth the hell of listening to such explicit details. But I think I don’t want to hear any more tales like this. Some of us have different triggers. Maybe a few of you can’t bear child abuse or rape….for some of us it’s animals.

22
scatterbrain
February 2nd, 2009 7:04 pm

A sad story for one which involves a ferretageist. My own cat is dying from cancer and I hope I’ll find a way to make all the bad things I’ve done or let happen to her right again before she goes. But a post-death visit will be too much even for me…

23
July 17th, 2009 10:09 pm

I liked the ghost ferret; those parts were well done, especially the uncertainty about Caesar’s intentions. Richard, on the other hand, didn’t scan like a realistic threat at all. He was a little too goofy ha-ha psycho to be believable. The tying up with duct tape was just over the top; I’d have bought it if he’d just been an animal abuser, gradually getting more and more involved in it and not yet graduated to human abuse, and the ghosts warned Cathy off. Someone above referenced it feeling “pulpy,” and I think that’s accurate. I think the horror was quite enough when it was small, domestic, and slightly odd (like ferrets themselves.)