Pseudopod 94: The Skull-Faced Boy

By David Barr Kirtley

Read by Ralph Walters

He turned his eyes back to the road, and in the light of the high beams he saw a
man stumble into the path of the car. Without thinking, Jack swerved.

The car bounced violently, and then its left front side smashed into a tree. The
steering column surged forward, like an ocean wave, and crushed Jack’s stomach.
Dustin wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. He flew face-first through the windshield,
rolled across the hood, and tumbled off onto the ground.

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

June 13th, 2008 12:35 pm

This was not only a fascinating story that took the Zombie genre to new places, but its timing was impeccable. I’m guessing you folk already knew about “Blog Like It’s The End Of The World”, today, right?

Clinton Trucks
June 14th, 2008 8:47 pm

Loved the story and would be interested to hear more set in the world it’s created. This is the first Psuedopod offering that I thought could be expanded to novel length without suffering a dillution of its central idea.

A few quick notes on Ben’s closing remarks…

1) you really prefer 28 WEEKS LATER to 28 DAYS LATER?!? i agree that the first film was flawed but i found it to be much more affecting and honest than its sequel.

2) the pilot you mention was called BABYLON FIELDS; not BABYLON FALLS. i was able to watch the finished product and it wasn’t good enough that we should be lamenting its timely passing.

June 15th, 2008 7:30 am

A story worth a future, I agree. And very well read by Mr. Raloh Walters.
Some of the best listening I’ve done in awhile.

June 15th, 2008 11:42 pm

I really liked this story! Wasn’t sure about the ending. I hated to see the girl lose her face, but all in all, it was a good story.

June 16th, 2008 11:20 am

I didn’t really like the matter of fact tone inf the beginning, but I agree. This would be incredible as the first part of an anthology!

June 16th, 2008 11:25 am

Good stuff. A different and very fresh take on the subgenre.

June 17th, 2008 7:09 am

Well, it’s about time someone did a great zombie story. Reading a number of anthologies, I wondered if anyone had it left to write something of this caliber.

Great stuff!

June 18th, 2008 2:09 pm

Solid zombie, and it works on a very interesting premise of class distinction within the zombie ranks.

However, I’m not sure that the rising affinity to zombie fiction has as much to do with schadenfreude as much as it has to do with a clean slate. The biggest factor in zombie fiction, at least from the human perspective, is an end to all previous concerns and a singular desire to survive. In a way it’s like luddite, survivalist thinking, a natural human desire to return to more simple times in which we are both prey and predator, as opposed to simply the latter.

June 18th, 2008 2:16 pm

I wasn’t a huge fan of the story, I think you do a little too much zombie fiction here. That said I loved the ending.

June 18th, 2008 9:32 pm

I LOVED this story. Great zombie read, and I love how it’s unconventional. I really loved the characters!

10/10, Pseudopod! Can we get some more from this author?

June 19th, 2008 1:50 pm

Dom, have you checked out Ep. #48: the Disciple? Also by Kirtley, and a pretty good little story.

June 23rd, 2008 10:04 pm

Yes!! More Cow Bell!!

June 27th, 2008 6:18 pm

‘nother day, ‘nother zombie story.

Hey, at least this one was read by that guy who sounds a lot like the movie trailer guy. No, THAT didn’t get annoying at all…

June 28th, 2008 7:45 pm

The story wasn’t bad. But it was hard for me to get past the fact that a person without lips is going to have a really hard time articulating their speech intelligibly.

Also, it’s really hard to do anything fresh with zombies. No pun intended.

July 15th, 2008 8:47 pm

This didn’t work for me. Intelligent zombies, check. Short-handing the start (they’re killed and turned into zombies and understand that they’re zombies quick, so we can get to how this is different). I don’t know, just didn’t click for me. As others have said, maybe if we knew more about them before they turned (is the friend a potential megalomaniac?).

I did think the very last scene was nice, if I perceived it right (the brainy good guy zombie has to act dumb so as not to let onto zombie ex-girlfriend about his betrayal, right?).

Thanks for listening
“The face of the dead man was concealed, of course, our customs not being those of the south, where corpses are carried to the grave in open coffins, that they might – one last time before slipping into the pit – be warmed by the light of the sun.”
Jan Neruda, “Doctor Spoiler”

September 11th, 2008 3:04 am

I did not care for the person who read.

Generally, I like zombies and so wanted to love this but I could not.

January 5th, 2009 3:28 pm

I missed this one when it came out, but great zombie story. One of the best episodes of 2008.

June 20th, 2009 4:32 pm

I loved the commentary at the end, well done. Story was good too, but it was the chatter after that has made me subscribe. Good job!