Pseudopod 113: Furnace Room Lullaby

By Leah Bobet

Read by The Word Whore

Sound design and score by Lee M. Bartow (featuring music by love is nothing. and Navicon Torture Technologies). Recorded and constructed at Leechnest Breeding Facilities Summer-Autumn 2008.

The house off Weathervane Street came old, but not

It came with bright red brick walls on the outside,
cherry-paneled floors on the inside, plaster that
weeps moisture in the summer that plinks into a
hundred dented pots. It came with cats that drink the
water, wander in and out of the house, vanish into the
weedy yard at dusk. It came old and weeping, rafters
twisted, foundation long settled and scented with

Isabelle made it haunted, and so she still lives in
the house.

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.

October 24th, 2008 2:57 am

I liked both the reading and the story, even though it reminded me of Monster House.

I thought the music got too loud, overpowered the reading.

October 24th, 2008 7:16 am

I. Love. Neko. Case.

C. Augusto Vald├ęs
October 25th, 2008 9:02 am

the background music was a terrible idea, this is the only episode that I had to stop listening, I got lost and honestly bored.
Any chance of a ‘clean’ reissue?

October 26th, 2008 7:00 am

i have to agree, especially since one is trying to listen to the story to figure out what is going on at that point… jangly stuff not helpfull.

October 26th, 2008 8:04 pm

Judging by the comments on the site so far, my contribution to the piece hasn’t been especially well-received. The last piece I worked on had complaints about the story as opposed to the music, so I guess it’s generally difficult to please Pseudopod’s readership.

October 27th, 2008 7:00 am

@Lee M. Bartow

I actually liked the sound and the reading. I thought word whore’s voice was great, and I found the sound of the boiler refreshingly creepy. Perhaps its because I was always scared by our heater as a child: it kept me awake nights imagining monsters at the door even when my mother sat on my bed explaining each mechanical sound. I just never believed her explanations.

so, don’t despair.

October 27th, 2008 9:24 am

The atmosphere of this piece was great. It was easy to imagine it as a movie in your head while listening.

The addition of effects and music worked best, when it was more in the background. It reminded me a little of the Fatal Frame (Project Zero) videogame series.

October 30th, 2008 6:40 pm

My only problem with the music was that the characters were whispering during the big climax when the music was the loudest. I can understand wanting louder, more dramatic music for that section, but the tone was more introspective and ominous for the bulk of that scene so it kind of conflicted with the reading in my opinion.

Otherwise, I think the music added a lot, those creepy sounds in the background just tickle the edges of your consciousness and are really disturbing in addition to complementing the tenor of the reading and content of the story. The way it reinforced the clean break was a nice effect as well, since the reading didn’t really give me enough time to contemplate what happened before starting in on the next day. And that faint wavering staticky sound in the epilogue conceptually fit with the story while keeping me on edge.

October 30th, 2008 8:09 pm

I thought it was allot like Haddayr Coply-Woods’s “The Desires of Houses” with a bit of Vinnie Hansen’s “Dear Killer” mixed in.

October 30th, 2008 9:16 pm

I really enjoyed this story. I have long held that love and horror have a lot in common, and I like to see that explored. I rather enjoyed the sound design as well, although I can see why it bothered some people. It made a nice change, I thought.

October 30th, 2008 11:12 pm

I agree, the sound just seems too overpowering in places, drowning the vocals. I liked the effect overall, it just seems like it could have been a little more balanced.

October 31st, 2008 3:22 am

Yah, the music wasn’t bad it was just a bad mix.

October 31st, 2008 11:37 am

This story had me, then it nearly lost me, with this phrase:

“She whispers, with the internal voice nobody else can hear.”

I believe that’s called “thinking.” Sorry for the snark, but overwriting like this grates on my nerves. He wrote, his fingers contacting the plastic keys of his keyboard that caused his words to appear on the monitor before him.

The story isn’t helped either, at least to my ears, by the reading. It’s not so much the flat delivery as the fact that every sentence is read with pretty much the same rhythm and inflection, the effect being almost comically monotonous. That deadened, flat voice seems to be a trademark style for female Pseudopod narrators, but it makes every female protagonist sound like a Prozac-bombed basket case.

Anyway, mixed feelings for this listener. I enjoyed the author’s style except for a few places where the writing gets a little out of control, and the character’s situation really came alive for me — I didn’t expect to really care about her, but I did. With a bit more ruthless editing I think this would be a top-notch story. As it is, it’s still enjoyable.

By the way, I don’t know whether or not the author is a fan of the Simpsons, but if I were editing this, I would change the line, “the house smelled like burning,” since it’s close enough to a famous Simpsons quote to be unintentionally funny.

The Word WHore
November 1st, 2008 3:27 pm

My apologies, Weirdsmobile, I actually was rather heavily prozac-dosed at the time of the reading O.o

November 2nd, 2008 6:42 am

I don’t see how anyone can criticize the reading. I chose this story over the October 31 entry specifically because it was Word WHore. That gir’s voice really stews my tomatoes. (Simpsons reference: not vulgarity.)

The story itself reminded me of a Minature storyon PodCastle a few months back; I think someone mentioned it above. I like houses that are alive.

And I loved the twist of this story. It was surprising, and yet felt inevitable, which is the best kind of twist.

Thom Merrilin once said, “A woman will kill you for half the reason of a man, but cry twice as hard afterward.”

He must have crossed paths with Leah Bobet.

Well done.

Ogion The Silent
November 3rd, 2008 5:32 am

I listened to this in Nice Airport and for the first ten minutes I thought all the noise was the big jets outside.

November 4th, 2008 9:19 pm

I just listened to this story today, and I had to get on and say that it was my favorite pseudopod story so far. I often find that I have a hard time relating to characters from horror stories, but for some reason the main character in this one just clicked for me.

Like Ogion, I wasn’t sure at first whether the sounds were coming from outside or from the podcast, and that made it delightfully jarring. I found myself looking forward to the swells of sound in the silent parts, and I felt drawn to the character, because I felt that she was listening as well.

Brave Space Monkey
November 6th, 2008 8:43 pm

I’ve always enjoy hearing the Word Whore. I stopped download “Air Out Me Shorts” some time ago… It still good hear her.

Can we get Brian Ibbott from Coverville for a reading. He might be better suited for a more upbeat story.

November 8th, 2008 12:43 am
  1. Word Whore rocked!!! You did a great job with this reading. Taste is an individual thing, and I know some people that simply don’t like the fmeale voice as narrator;even when its a female protagonist.

  2. hard to seperate story with the reading. It goes both ways. a Narrator can take a decent story and make it great, and a bad narrator can kill a great story.

3.The music itself wasn’t bad per se. There is a skill to scoring to film (or scoring to story in this case, though the film is in your mind) and this I imagine is why the complaints. They didn’;t score for the story at that monet to create suspense, or build suspense. It didn’t really lend itself to the story other than it was scary sounds for a scary story. It also wasn’t mixed well at all; thus why the complaints. :)

November 8th, 2008 1:56 pm

Long time listener, first time commenter…:)

I loved this story. The lyrical prose was so rich I was able to linger over it…like rolling around high-quality chocolate in your mouth before eating it…but no so overwhelming as to lose me. I’ve not only shared this story with all my friends, I’ve tweeted it and posted about it on my blog.
It’s rare that a short story will do that to me. I’m a consumer, not a fan. I use them and throw them away, rarely revisiting them. This story, though, is a treasure.

Great job Leah and Word Whore. I’m not blind enough not to notice that yes, story and narrator go hand in hand.

My only critique is the same as many others, the music was too loud at the most imporant parts. I liked it (especially the sound effects, I too had a huge furnace in my basement as a child and it terrified me) but it needed to be turned down…a lot.

June 7th, 2009 12:10 pm

I enjoyed the story and the sound effects,they worked for me very well.