Pseudopod 134: Bait


By Joel Arnold, whose first-ever short story collection was just released from Sam’s Dot Publishing: Bedtime Stories for the Apocalypse

Read by Hugo-nominated graphic artist Cheyenne Wright (for his work on Girl Genius, Volume 8)


It was a cold January when Paul Robinson parked his flatbed pick-up on the edge
of Shady Lake. The ice was ten inches thick. Plenty thick, yet it still
didn’t compare to the rind of ice that had settled around his heart.

He let the tail-gate drop, hauled out his wooden fishing shanty and slid it
over the ice to a spot a good fifty yards from the other fishermen. It was
dusk, and many were already leaving, their perch, walleye, and trout packed in
coolers to take home to their families.

He began to arrange the inside of the shanty, a homemade thing of clapboard and
two by fours. He lit a pile of pre-soaked coals in an old coffee can for extra
warmth, the flame swirling for a moment like a dervish, then settling to a
comfortable glow. As he slid his Styrofoam bait bucket across the shanty’s
floor, steam seeping from beneath the lid, he heard the crunch of cleated boots
behind him. He turned.