Pseudopod 116: Sick Day

By Michael Chant

Read by Elie Hirschman

As she leaves for work, my wife kisses me goodbye. It is love in the machine, passion stripped away on the assembly-line known as the workweek. Her car pulls out of the driveway, leaving me with more than an hour to kill before I have to go to work.

I empty a little plastic bag of capsules and gelcaps into my palm. These are all the vitamins a man my age should be taking. I wash them down with a glass of calcium-enriched orange juice, and then it’s time to shower. While lathering up, masturbation gets considered and rejected, the pleasure I would receive is found to be too fleeting to affect my mood. After rinsing and drying off, I pause to look at my face in the bathroom mirror. Seeing is believing — I look older than I am.

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November 15th, 2008 2:16 pm

Upon hearing this story, I had to wonder if it was actually right for Pseudopod, so I listened to it again.
Yes, I decided. This story is perfect for Pseudopod, as there is nothing quite as frightening as losing oneself in the drudgery of everyday scheduling.
That aside, I found this a well-written story and Elie Hirschman’s narration brilliant.

November 15th, 2008 3:01 pm


Although I have to ask, where’s the fiction?

Seriously, I pull stunts like this.

November 15th, 2008 4:08 pm

bwah ha ha, yes, amusing. Seriously though pseudopod, you owe us a good one to send our fleshy brain parts screaming to the hills, your dark soul DEMANDS it!

November 16th, 2008 2:41 pm

As I was listening to this I couldn’t help but think of my husband. He would do this… and other things like it.

This wasn’t a horror story to me, just part of normal, everyday life.

November 17th, 2008 1:56 am

Isn’t the old saying about what opinions are like a wonderful play on words?

And now to show a complete disregard for my own words, I want to add my two cents.

The story was frickin awesome. It would never occur to me to pull a stunt like this, but I get what the author is driving at. And I agree with him totally that people are WAY too serious. (Including me…)

As to Elie Hirschman, everyone over at Darkerprojects deserves an Oscar as far as I am concerned. Thier work is so reminiscent of the golden days of radio that it’s scary. And then there is the consistantly good stuff coming from Escape Artists. Alasdair and Ben, please keep ’em coming!

November 17th, 2008 4:32 pm

There seems to be a lot of people wondering if this is a good fit for pseudopod. I guess it fits, but I think psycho-horror needs it’s own podcast. Maybe the Idcast or Egopod, which ever one fits.

This is an interesting story, but I feel like it’s more of a concept then a narrative. That being said, I love the concept.

Rachel Ann
November 19th, 2008 12:27 pm

Feh. I guess men behaving badly is horrific but I didn’t think it rose to the level of horror. And it really didn’t impress me that what the protaganist did was all that thought provoking or devestating. Just dumb. But to each there own I suppose.

November 20th, 2008 3:49 am

You see, if I was writing this, he would come home to find his wife messily murdered or having killed herself.

And everyone would have seen him covered in blood.

Dun dun dunnn.

A decent enough story – it’s a mindset I subscribe to – but I don’t think I’d call it horror. It contains the concept of horror, but doesn’t horrify the reader, which is sort of the idea behind the horror genre.

November 20th, 2008 9:58 am

I like Milo’s twist. It would have made the story longer, but trying to watch someone explain away that mess would have been very entertaining.

November 20th, 2008 12:56 pm

Earlier this year I was working a booth at a game convention, selling costumes. One of the items I carried was fox tails, and one of the other dealers, who was demo-ing a werewolf card game, bought one of the tails to wear for the games. On the last day he had to leave early, and since the con was almost next door to the airport, he decided to walk. An hour later, his partner got a text message which he had to show me:
“15 minutes to get to the airport. 45 minutes to get through security. I should have taken off the tail.”

November 22nd, 2008 3:23 pm

This is the second week Pseudopod has let me down with a post. This is hardly a story. The character makes one decision, early on, and then never alters his course. Additionally, much of the writing involves “sight-gags” and shock value. The interaction between the girlfriend/wife and the main character is thrown away.

For this to be an actual story, there has to be some conflict and decision-making by the protag. A tale like this could emulate Michael Douglas from Falling Down–a movie that could have devolved into trite “let’s stick it to the man” scenes, but actually came through with some character development.

I hope today’s post has more story to it.

November 23rd, 2008 10:22 pm

Hey ! I thought this was a HORROR fiction deal ! Where was the horror ?? The only ‘horror’ I could see was an adult suddenly acting like a moronic teenager and thinking his lame ‘prank’ was really funny…

Actually, come to think of it, that IS pretty freaking chilling.

November 26th, 2008 3:35 pm

I’ve gotta agree with Kalidor above. Not only does this not qualify as horror, it just barely qualifies as a story. It strikes one note at the beginning and remains there. It’s humorous, I’ll give it that, and there’s that bit at the end that suggests horrors to come, but let’s face it, this isn’t a story, it’s a blog entry.

Dempsey Wilson
December 23rd, 2008 12:29 pm

Seriously unimpressed. This is the sort of story that gets published on this site? Keep it up, Mr. Phillips, and you’ll literally scare other writers away from submitting to Pseudopod, as well as your listeners. It appears you’ve dropped the ball…again.

March 22nd, 2009 5:14 pm

I see I’m in the minority of those who loved it. I don’t mind a bit of humor mixed in with my horror.

To be honest though, I don’t listen to pseudopod because it’s horror, I listen because it’s entertaining. I have yet to read or listen to a story that really scared or creeped me out.

As for this one, it had me laughing out loud, and for that I say Thank You!

June 5th, 2009 11:22 pm

This was awesome. The horror was to subtle for most I see.
This isn’t about scaring you, it was about the horror inflicted on others to make them rethink their relative world view.

Very deep and very well done.