Pseudopod 127: The Garden and the Mirror

By Tim W. Burke

Read by Alasdair Stuart

She asked me, “Will you teach the secrets of the soul and flesh?”

Her eyes glowed like onyx in the gaslight. Her skin seemed translucent, but the young man fidgeting beside her on my drawing room sofa was paler still. His fine suit and shirt sagged on him; the cadaver in him emerging.

The young man blanched at her boldness, “My wife has always been an enthusiast for mysticism. Back home in Atlanta, we tried homeopathy, faith healing, and God knows how many quacks. But the tumor grows. My fevers are getting worse. I can’t even travel home because my head aches –”

“Mr. Alecsandri,” the young woman, Olivia Spalding, leaned to me, “Our friends here told us that you cured their little boy of consumption.”

“I remember the case. I taught the boy to banish it.”

For the follow-up to this story, please check out “The Mother And The Worm”

and then proceed to “Nourished By Chaff, We Believe The Glamor”, part of the Trio of Terror.

February 4th, 2009 12:14 am

I thought this was excellent. Good idea, nicely executed, correct length for the idea – just runs in, punches the clock and runs out. The opening reminded me a bit of Poe’s “Facts In The Case Of M. Valdemar”

I like how the writer’s control of language and diction, and the mention of the occasional historical event, let us know this is the past without hitting us over the head with it. The betrayal of the man’s wife is nicely done as well, seeing as she’s willing to assure her husband a lingering, painful death, and is obviously fixated on power over love. And the final image/line was a nice play on the earlier use of the title.

This may be too quiet for some, but I liked it a lot.

Thanks for listening.

“There’s no reason to live, but there’s no reason to die, either. The only way we can still show our contempt for life is to accept it. Life is not worth the bother of leaving it. Out of charity, one might spare a few individuals the trouble of living, but what about oneself? Despair, indifference, betrayal, fidelity, solitude, the family, freedom, weight, money, poverty, love, absence of love, syphilis, health, sleep, insomnia, desire, impotence, platitudes, art, honesty, dishonor, mediocrity, intelligence – nothing there to make a fuss about. We know only too well what those things are made of, no point in watching for them.”

Jacques Rigaut

Mike G
February 4th, 2009 9:43 am

This was one of the best horror stories I’ve ever heard. It felt like M Night Shyamalan in his better work. Nice creepy reading, and nice twist at the end.

February 4th, 2009 12:10 pm

aiii! good one! of course… if one was really going for the heebie jeebies one might have focused more on the tumor eariler in the story in all its postulee suphorcating glorriee…

February 4th, 2009 10:26 pm

your microphones are way too sensitive, I really don’t enjoy hearing the spit in your mouth while you speak. But I like your stories.

February 6th, 2009 5:12 am

really enjoyable story, an quite well read too, as always al.

but i have to ask you man, please back from the mic next time. or put a sock over it or something, because i could hear every time your lips smacked, or you took a drink, or swallowed. like i said, it was well read, but i found that really distracting.

February 6th, 2009 6:33 pm

Great story.

March 1st, 2009 7:33 pm

I have to admit, I tried to get through this story twice with no avail, The way it was read just made it impossible to follow. The reading was way too fast, it was hard to tell who was speaking or when, and above all I couldnt concentrate on the story when all I can hear is sloshing spit and drool in somebodys mouth the whole time.

March 7th, 2009 9:19 am

This was predictable, and mildly boring.4

March 30th, 2009 7:11 am


Was the ending supposed to be him coming out of the tumor or literally being born out of Jasmines womb?

August 21st, 2009 12:29 pm

george–I believe the intention was for him to have altered the tumor into a new body. The mantras worked against the tumor only when it was without soul, once his soul infused it the mantras were powerless.

When he forced his way out he was forcing his way out through the husband’s eye socket, splitting the skull open.