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.

March 21st, 2009 3:26 pm

The player keeps shutting down after getting to 2m:24s into the story of “The Bait”.

March 22nd, 2009 2:17 am

Man, Wright’s voice is amazing!

March 23rd, 2009 6:59 pm

Pseudopod has gotten FAR better recently; I’m now upset with myself I stopped listening a while back.

March 23rd, 2009 10:54 pm

aiiiii! yes, good story though one kind of saw that one coming.

March 23rd, 2009 11:47 pm

Excellent. I thought this piece kept its suspense quite well. or, perhaps I was just hoping that the chum was some sort of pie filling and there was nothing under the hole, because I have spent so much time ice-fishing this winter.

March 25th, 2009 8:23 am

As a child sitting in the floor of my room in the middle of a summer day, bathed in the sunlight, the song “Synchronicity II” by The Police held me in that strange second just before the shiver, in which it feels as though the dread will wash over and suffocate. This story brough me back to that feeling again, decades later.


It was excellent!

March 27th, 2009 10:16 pm

This is a splendid, chilling story. The voice is great, too. Thanks!

April 3rd, 2009 12:41 pm

The sense of dark tragedy that hung over the story was perfect. I was so wrapped up in that atmosphere that I did not get the impression that a big twist was coming. This is probably why it had such an impact on me when it happened. It freaked me out.

April 5th, 2009 3:45 am

Freaking creepy. The end hit me like a sledgehammer nailed to a freight-train. Outstanding story !

April 7th, 2009 5:11 am

Not to take away the author’s thunder, but I think we can all agree that Cheyenne Wright is the man. He makes a great story even better.

Really liked this one. “What’s the bait gonna be?”

April 18th, 2009 4:42 am

I liked this but thought the author dropped so many enormous hints about what was in the bait, that you could hardly call the ending a “twist”. I was kind of tapping my fingers a bit and muttering “Yeah, yeah, WE KNOW!” waiting for the grand reveal… I was hoping the twist was going to be that the twist wasn’t what you were thinking it was… but it wasn’t.

Ogion The Silent
May 18th, 2009 9:17 am

I’m with Katy here. I really didn’t mind that the ending was so obviously signalled, because I don’t particularly value surprise-endings in general. But I was slightly irritated at the way the ending was build up as if it were a surprise. Otoh, this was the only false note in an otherwise excellent story.