Pseudopod 148: Graffiti

By K.S. Dearsley

Read by Claudia Smith

It was exactly what Marian was looking for–a home of her own, an
address to prove she existed. She looked around feeling someone behind
her. Gareth entered the lounge carrying a packing case. He spoke over
the top of it.

“It’s a bit of a mess.”

The previous tenants had left stained carpets, chipped paintwork and
crayon on the walls.

“Nothing that soapy water and a paintbrush can’t fix.”

01
June 30th, 2009 3:53 pm

Where’s the horror?

I mean, I sort of like the story, but I don’t quite think it belonged here. It seemed like a flash story stretched out into a really long piece. There should have been a bigger payoff, I think. Who was writing the stuff? What for (besides to screw with her)? What happened after her guy left?

02
Sgarre1
July 1st, 2009 12:04 am

I thought this one was interesting, if a little underdeveloped. It resonated with two horror classics: Perkins-Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” (mentally ill women projecting her identity problems onto the walls around her) and a pivotal scene in Jackson’s THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE (“HELP ELEANOR COME HOME”, natch). What I liked was that the story didn’t proceed in an expected direction – what I mean is that the protagonist’s boyfriend was not some domineering thug who was trying to crush her identity (which would have made the point a little too “on the nose”) or even unconsciously grinding her identity away due to adhering to older stereoitypes of male/female relations (less “on the nose” but still a bit textbook). Instead, as he really seems to care about her and wants her to recover from her pre-story “problems”, we’re left wondering if this is all mental illness or wrong place/wrong time coincidence involving a supernatural manifestation, or what…which I actually kinda liked. Still, I thought the reading on the very end of the story could have punched that last line – was it (paraphrasing from memory) “…[u]her[/u] name began to form” or “[u]a[/u] name began to form”? Interesting story.

Thanks for listening.

“I discovered that I am tired of being a person. Not just tired of being the person I was, but any person at all.”
Susan Song, “The Dummy”

03
phignewton
July 1st, 2009 11:21 pm

i thought it was creepy, in a mild disoriented sort of way…

04
July 5th, 2009 1:50 am

I thought this story really had a great premise. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, it had no payoff — in fact, the story really ended abruptly. My reaction was, “where’s the rest of the story?”

It was read very well, however… I enjoyed the voice talent on this one.

Having said that, I want to tell you what a great podcast/website you have here. Very high quality stories and great voice actors reading them. Thanks for proving that free does not mean “low quality”.

05
devora
July 9th, 2009 6:08 pm

Fantastic reading of, as mentioned, a Yellow Wallpaper themed story. On second listen (it was so well read!) I thought of the boyfriend as her own psyche trying to pull her back from the edge. It made it really creepy psychologically thinking he was not even real. Yeah, I know we want rabbits in blenders and zombies eating people, but sometimes a little mysterious scribble on a wall can stick w/ ya.

06
Changwa Steve
July 12th, 2009 9:55 pm

“As his body rose and fell, she liquefied and flowed away.” -1 for the bad sex scene.

07
Spork Fencer
July 31st, 2009 12:28 pm

Pretty slow. This would have been okay as flash, or a double drabble. Poor character development and poor descriptions. It was two stories stitched together, poorly.
This diluted normally great stories. I can not believe anyone paid for this. Women writers are the majority of fiction writers, so their stuff is published just because they are in the majority, huh? Just because most writers are women does not mean they are better, does it?

08
CaroCogitatus
August 3rd, 2009 11:03 am

The chick-lit idea of “worrying that you’ll melt away down the drain” kind of lost me right away. Wow, emo much? Do women really think this way, or is the character just that damaged from the outset?

Not that I’m a towering fortress of mental stability, but still I couldn’t relate.

09
August 11th, 2009 4:09 pm

This was an all right story, but the ending was rather anticlimactic–some more writing appears on the wall, which has been appearing continually throughout the story.

I did appreciate that the story didn’t turn the man into a bad person.

10
kilgore
August 19th, 2009 7:53 pm

i found this story fascinating, and i dont buy the argument that it was somehow underdeveloped or lacked an effective ending. on the contrary, i thought the final image was perfect for driving home the kind of uncertainty and discomfort that had permeated the entire text.

a little mystery can be a good thing, and in this case i think it works. i found myself thinking about it long after i first heard it – and that is, after all, what good horror (and good literature in general) is supposed to make us do. think.

well done.