Pseudopod 112: Periods

By Florence Ann Marlowe

Read by Damaris Mannering

“It’s going on three weeks, now.”

“Mmm-hmmm. And there’s no chance of you being pregnant?”

“Oh, no!” Nancy shook her head. “I haven’t even been with a guy in a long time.”

“Good.” Doctor Mason stood up, his eyes still glued to Nancy’s chart. He flashed her a quick smile. “One less thing to worry about.”

Nancy nodded. “So what could it be?”

The doctor seemed lost in thought. He pressed the butt end of his pen to his teeth. He then quickly shifted his seat, uncrossing and re-crossing his legs. Nancy suppressed an impatient sigh.

“I know exactly what it is,” he said finally.

Nancy was surprised. “Oh.”

01
Jackson
October 17th, 2008 2:19 am

Thanks for this. I’ve been working for the past 20 something hours. I have 4 to sleep, then I start again. I was at a loss for how to get my head to shut the hell up about work so I can sleep or at least chill out. The fact that this week’s story is out already is an absolute blessing. Budget or not, I guess it’s time to donate. Who needs food anyway right?

02
Out, damned spot! out, I say!
October 17th, 2008 3:08 am

Amazing how something natural can be so…. so… well you know. Anyway longtime listener first time posting great job as usual. Alasdair, great hosting, love your insight.

03
Luniara
October 17th, 2008 11:14 am

Holy crap. Ahaha! This is a new favorite. So gross! It is similar to Rapunzel!

04
George
October 17th, 2008 12:09 pm

Whew! Well written, well read, and could not have been written by a man, no this level of detail could only come from experience. I could feel the horror of the main character all the way through, and to me the vampires were the least horrific aspect of this story.

Shuddersome indeed! Makes me remember why I respect the strength of women so much …

05
Breanne
October 17th, 2008 5:37 pm

Jesus H. Christ. I’ve been listening for several months, with the greatest respect for these stories, but none have given me such a visceral reaction. Must be that female thing – coupled with a wonderfully ooky concept and great writing.

06
October 18th, 2008 12:01 am

Wow, totally gross, but a great story! George is right, only a woman could write this and get the details so dead-on. Ending was wonderful, despite being a downer.

07
October 18th, 2008 1:35 am

GREAT GOOGELY MOOGELY! That was….er…how the heck can you write about … oh gosh… that was DISGUSTING! Jeepers Creepers! I’m a horror fan from WAAAY back, I’ve worked on horror films fer crispes sake, and this story… freaked me out! The Blood clot! Good golly no! The Blood CLOT! URK!

08
October 18th, 2008 2:49 am

Great story. I loved the tone, pace and all the gory descriptions. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the protagonist’s stupidity. 1) Why didn’t she go to the ER when she’s bleeding right through the sheets? 2) Why didn’t she research the pills she was given after the man that handed them to her looked at her order funny. When I have a bad feeling about a doctor, I run to the next. Also, the story shows great commentary on America’s current health care stance. Poor bugger.

09
yikes
October 18th, 2008 1:31 pm

This was just gross… and predictable… and the main character’s actions irrational (she had a ob/gyn that was recommended to her!)

Not a fan. I could see the ending coming further away than my girlfriends next period, and the trip there was much less satisfying.

10
phignewton
October 20th, 2008 3:30 am

…the ending of this one really reminds me of one of those old ‘tales from the crypt’ stories… ‘and it turned out they were vampires! bwah ha ha!’ ..oh wait… was that a spoiler?

11
October 20th, 2008 1:00 pm

This contained the singularly most deeply disturbing descriptions of organic matter I have ever heard.

12
beccers
October 20th, 2008 1:03 pm

As someone who has had a doctor poke at me while saying…”yep, you sure are bleeding”, I can say that this story really played on a woman’s fear of her own unknown reproductive system and having to rely on someone else to explain it. The vampire details at the end weren’t really needed, the story was already horrific enough.

13
October 20th, 2008 2:41 pm

Wow.

This story was the most disturbing one ever. Especially seeing as I’m a woman, and know what it’s like to have a really bad period. Although wouldn’t the protagonist just use a pad after a while? A tampon is good for less time. And if the blood’s literally pouring out of you, I don’t think a tampon would last more than a few seconds. It doesn’t work that way.

The vampire bit was pretty damn predictable, though.

14
JayZ33
October 21st, 2008 3:03 am

Awful.

15
DrKnow_452
October 21st, 2008 4:15 am

So viscerally unpleasant I didn’t notice some of the plot problems until later – surely losing this much blood she’d soon pass out and die without a transfusion – maybe the special ‘vampire’ medicine was keeping her alive. Top marks for atmospheric creepiness though.

16
JD
October 21st, 2008 9:38 am

Yeah, nice enough story. It was a tad predictable, but it was well written. I just hate it when the bad guys win… :(

17
Quentin
October 21st, 2008 4:57 pm

I like when the bad guys win. But I found predictable too.

18
Brave Space Monkey
October 21st, 2008 6:37 pm

Why doesn’t pseudopod have a little icon by its address in my browser like escapepod?

19
October 22nd, 2008 12:07 am

Contrary to other commentors, the ending for this story wasn’t predictable for me. The episode with THE BLOOD CLOT (!!!) resonates with the creation myth of the Ahnishnahbeh trickster figure, Nanabush. So, my mind was sent scurrying down another path fraught with monster births, rather than vampires.

Bad brain. Bad.

20
Kel,Zel,Bell and T
October 22nd, 2008 5:24 am

Icky! Icky! Icky! As a fellow bleeder I connected with this one on a very “EEEEWWWW If I have to spend one more frickin’ day bloated, smelly, and gushy in the tushy I swear I am going to kill someone!” way. Was it predictable..Yes. Could I have done without the Vamps..Yes. And she should most definately have gone to the ER but I feel this one very much captured the essence of most womens fears, and frustrations regarding periods and OB/GYN visits. All in all this ranks as one of my new favs. Damaris Mannering did a wonderful job reading this story and its descriptions were dead on. If only TAKASHI MIIKE could bring this to life onscreen.

21
Idlebones
October 22nd, 2008 8:32 am

Well written, but the end kinda ruined it for me 5 minutes in: i.e. you just knew there were vampires involved. I’m sick to death of bloody vampires. Whatever happened good old fashioned cold blooded psychopaths, eh? I found myself waiting for a twist, (not that I could come up with a good one myself, you understand) but something that would have made me feel stupid for thinking “bet that Doc’s a vampire, you know.”

Nice and Icky though!

22
October 22nd, 2008 1:39 pm

Did I see the end coming? Yes. Did it horrify me? Damn skippy. In spite of the problems mentioned previously this did what I suspect it set out to do.

23
John
October 23rd, 2008 8:02 pm

I thought it was a good story. My only “problem” with it, was that the pharmacist didn’t talk to her about her new prescription. They would have explained what it did and might have noticed she had a large number of pads and who knows how the story would have ended.

24
Kate G.
October 23rd, 2008 8:45 pm

Oh, I have so had that period. Wait ’til perimenopause, my sister women. And male or female, the doctors still treat it as some sort of problem that requires insertions and scrapings and snippings of tissues.
Some of you found that gross. My medical fetishist friends, well … you’re welcome.

25
Kate G.
October 23rd, 2008 8:46 pm

And I forgot — great descriptions, great readings, somewhat hackneyed ending, but nice twist nevertheless. thanks!

26
October 24th, 2008 1:20 pm

Ugh. Worst Escape Artists story I’ve listened to so far. The fact that Nancy didn’t end up in the hospital with blood loss made me wonder if she was supposed to have a supernatural ability to bleed without suffering ill effects, or if perhaps she was really insane and didn’t really have a bleeding problem. Violates a basic rule of SF: it doesn’t have to make sense, but it does have to make sense given the select changes made in the fictional world.

And villains explaining the whole thing at the end? Watchmen poked fun at that over 20 years ago, I can’t believe writers are still using that trope.

27
Kat
October 24th, 2008 1:34 pm

Aye- I totally listened to this story at the wrong time. It was so appropriate, but in my present condition it had me squirming and feeling ten times the aches and pains than what were actually there. Ugh. Good story, I just should have held off listening to it for some other week.

28
October 24th, 2008 4:47 pm

I liked this one much more than I wanted to. Like an earlier commenter said, a few minutes in I thought, “so…the doctor’s a vampire,” and hoped the story would surprise me, but no such luck.

Still, that was the only black (red?) mark on a story that I otherwise very much enjoyed, if enjoyed is really the word for an experience this disturbing. The author obviously has some experience with the kind of troubles experienced by the patient in this story, and it shows! As a male, I think it brought me about as close to understanding how it feels to have “the female curse” as anything I’ve read.

I have to disagree with the commenter who questioned the credibility of the premise. My ex-wife suffered very nearly the same condition, where she would bleed continuously (and copiously). She didn’t have health insurance and couldn’t afford non-emergency doctor’s visits, so she put off going to the doctor for as long as she could, which turned out to be over a month. By the time she finally went, she was told: (a) she needed an operation immediately for uterine cysts; and (b) she was dangerously anemic and ought to have been hospitalized a while ago.

One could be nitpicky about some of the plot details, but the characterizations and descriptions were so vivid and compelling that I didn’t really care. Even when I knew where the story was going, I was caught up enough by the storytelling to enjoy the ride.

If I recall correctly from the intro, Ms. Marlowe is still an unpublished author. If her other work is as strong as this story, I’m betting that will change soon.

29
Jennifer Bryant
October 27th, 2008 4:29 pm

I loved it… I thought of every male I’ve ever know cringing and saying, “Ohhhh don’t talk about it, for chrissakes!!!” oh yes. Like others, I knew it was a vampire story early in – but enjoyed it anyway. Something like this sure would shake up the Stephanie Meyer vampire series, eh?

30
Kyle
October 30th, 2008 3:05 pm

As a long-term consumer of horror, I’ve seen and read about just about every indignity that can be visited on the human body: decapitations, disembowelments, cannibalism, alien chest-bursters, the works. Call it a jaded palate if you like, but the vast majority of them disturb me little if at all.

This story represents the rare exception.

I was so seriously squicked out that I actually grew faint at one point. In nearly twenty years of actively consuming horror, I can count the number of times that’s happened to me on one hand. Without using all the fingers. The intense, disturbingly detailed descriptions of the bleeding were so horrific that when the vampires showed up, they were a welcome and comforting diversion.

Beyond that, I thought the story played nicely on our fears of the medical profession. Our bodies are, largely, mysteries to most of us, and we depend on medical professionals to help us make sense of them, at times when it seems our own flesh is betraying us. Alas, most doctors have terrible bedside manner and instead of making us feel more comfortable or safe, actually make us feel less so. They use mysterious jargon that’s both incomprehensible and ominous, tools that are intimidating, uncomfortable, embarassing, or painful (or all three together), and often display an indifference that’s both infuriating and terrifying. There’s a reason why many people (me included) dread going to the doctor, and this story taps into that fear and ambivalence very well.

It’s also very, very hard to do a vampire story with any degree of originality. This is territory that’s not just well-mapped, it’s the horror equivalent of Google Earth. I can honestly say that I’ve never seen or read anything that links vampires and body horror together quite like this.

An excellent story which I sincerely hope I will never read or see ever, ever again.

31
Sgarre1
November 9th, 2008 2:14 am

Theodore Sturgeon’s SOME OF YOUR BLOOD crossed with that Australian vampire film THIRST from 1979 with the ending from that TALES FROM THE CRYPT story, “Midnight Mess” from 1953.

Not very original but not bad. Needed to be shorter by half. Although I’m sorry to say that even subtle attempts to suggest vampires (pales hands, pointed teeth) just scream out in a story front-loaded with a lot of talk about blood. It might actually be creepier if they were just amoral blood fetishists.

Good descriptions, though, and effective dialogue.

Thanks For Listening

“Blood was flowing – in Bluebeard’s house, in the abbatoirs, in the circuses where God had set his seal to whiten the windows. Blood and Milk flowed together.”

Arthur Rimbaud, “After The Deluge”

32
Rachel Ann
November 19th, 2008 12:29 pm

Gross, guessed the end and I hate stupid protagnoists. I mean can we shout “Don’t go in there” any longer? Sorry to be so critical but had I the period from hell that she describes I’d be getting a fast ambulance, not hanging about sticking towels between my legs.

33
scatterbrain
December 18th, 2008 5:22 pm

Anything involving the menstrul process scares the shit of me. An execellent and original vampire thread; to be honest I would rather listen to this again than run the risk of watching Twilight…

34
M.Thursday's Criticisms
December 18th, 2008 8:05 pm

This was neither frightening nor original, merely a novelized junior high schooler’s fantasy, poorly done and frankly disgusting. I’m not sure if I should yawn or yark.

Perhaps both.