Pseudopod 150: Break the Vessel

By Vylar Kaftan

Read by Ben Phillips

Even a god has human needs, if he resides in a living body. He must breathe the purest air possible. He must consume fresh food, and sleep on good bedding. And he must excrete. Some priests say that this is not truly the god’s need, since it results from the mortal body he occupies. I say this need is as important to a god as any man, because even gods create things they wish to be rid of.

In this incarnation, Aki prefers a mid-morning session. We meet in our chamber–a narrow aisle, with gold-leaf handholds on each side. I attend him with my box of soft cloths, jintilla oil, and incense. He dismisses his other attendants with a wave. They drift behind tall stone pillars fifty paces away, giving him privacy.

Full text available online at Transcriptase

…along with many other fine stories.

July 10th, 2009 2:59 am

A fascinating story from a very unique perspective. This is one of the ideas I wish I’d had, except I’d have bunged it up horribly. Touching and poetic in an unexpected way, which I think is the best way to be.

July 11th, 2009 8:14 pm

Wow, that was very good!

July 12th, 2009 2:49 am

Oh Sweet! This Pseudopod is from the future!

July 12th, 2009 7:43 pm

How long can someone talk about a guy taking a crap? Don’t know, I gave up in minute four.

July 12th, 2009 9:59 pm

This was well written, well read, and even Al sounded like he got a new mic. But yes, it was about excrement. And that got nauseating right away and old soon after. The bit of horror in the end did not make up for it in my mind. This was a study in poop. Yecch.

July 14th, 2009 2:27 pm

Except for the bit about blonde hair this is the kind of archetypal reality that has probably occurred, repeatedly, all over the world in various earli civilisations. Go, poo.

July 14th, 2009 6:44 pm

That was great; a truly unique look at faith and duty. Not shitty at all!

July 15th, 2009 3:23 am

Great story — and no, it wasn’t about poop. It was a great look at how truly stupid and wasteful faith and religion really are.

Dean Seattle
July 15th, 2009 7:38 pm

Great shit-filled entertainment.

July 15th, 2009 8:30 pm

Uh…where’s the horror? This seems more suited for Escape Pod.

July 16th, 2009 2:25 am

Thanks for all the comments, folks. Michael’s comment sums up what I was doing here.

Though to be more specific–I take issue with organized religion and failure to question authority. Personal spirituality/faith is a different phenomenon, in my opinion, though it can also suffer these pitfalls.

July 16th, 2009 6:03 pm

A great story told from an original angle. I thought it was great!

July 16th, 2009 7:55 pm

I actually read the transcript while at work first, and loved this story dearly, while also being very disturbed and nauseated by it. (Has kind of ruined bowel movements for me for a while.) But, I haven’t even been able to listen to it. It’s just too unsettling, I start and then I have to shut if off, which I think is actually a pretty amazing thing for a writer to be able to do. So Thank You, Vylar, for disturbing me thoroughly.

July 16th, 2009 7:59 pm

You’re welcome. Several people have told me the same thing.

July 19th, 2009 4:14 am

I would just like to add that I found a lot to unpack in the story as a person of faith. I think reducing it to “religion is full of sh*t” is a very narrow way to read it. (At the very least, it’s also a rather unusual love story.)

For myself, I was very moved by the priest’s struggles to elucidate and explain his faith in his “conversations with God,” and I was chilled by the closing images, the idea of the shell of the church continuing on even after they literally killed their own deity.

Wesley Noone
July 23rd, 2009 4:42 pm

I really enjoyed this one! It raised more than just theological questions, like the idea of being born into dominance or submission.

When Aki questioned his role as God, it reminded me of The God Delusion.

Great story!

Changwa Steve
July 27th, 2009 8:12 am

His turd was meaty and corn-studded, coated in a thin layer of slime that surely eased its egress. This knowledge put me at ease– a god should have satisfying bowel movements.

July 28th, 2009 7:19 am

Interesting story, but lacking in horror… would have been far superior if aki crapped zombies or giant venomous spiders instead.

July 29th, 2009 12:16 pm

Great story. I agree with Michael (#8).

For those looking for zombies & giant spiders, the horror in this one was a little more subtle: the horror of Aki knowing of his impending doom and desperately seeking escape, of the society locked into their sun-god delusions, and the protagonist’s denouement.

I think probably the protagonist is still glad for the experience, even at the end, and that’s what I find most disturbing of all.

I see a lot of parallels in current societies (like my own) that still harbor “son”-god delusions.

July 31st, 2009 11:02 pm

Listened to four stories today, but only liked this one. Great perspective; really thought provoking.

August 7th, 2009 7:41 pm

I enjoyed this one for its theological questioning and the conversations with “God”. As others have said, I could’ve done with a little less poop descriptions, but it lended a new role to setting that we may have seen before in other forms.

Guto Carioca
August 10th, 2009 2:37 pm

This has gotta be one of my all time favorite stories here at Pseudopod. Thanks, Vylar.