Archive for June, 2010
Pseudopod 200

In which we present, for your pleasurable unease, two classic tales of suspense and woe by two of the masters.

Oil of Dog

By Ambrose Bierce

Read by Ben Phillips

One evening while passing my father’s oil factory with the body of a foundling from my mother’s studio I saw a constable who seemed to be closely watching my movements. Young as I was, I had learned that a constable’s acts, of whatever apparent character, are prompted by the most reprehensible motives, and I avoided him by dodging into the oilery by a side door which happened to stand ajar. I locked it at once and was alone with my dead.

The Horror of the Heights

By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The thirty-thousand-foot level has been reached time after time with no discomfort beyond cold and asthma. What does this prove? A visitor might descend upon this planet a thousand times and never see a tiger. Yet tigers exist, and if he chanced to come down into a jungle he might be devoured. There are jungles of the upper air, and there are worse things than tigers which inhabit them.

Pseudopod 199: Broken Bough

By Daniel I. Russell

Read by Graeme Dunlop

John walked into the small kitchen. About to pitch the hot tea across the room, he took a slow breath, tipped the drink down the sink and delicately placed the mug at the side. Hands covering his eyes, he leaned back against the table.

“Why?” he asked. “Why us? What did we do?”

Fists squeezed, he rubbed his eyelids, cursing God, cursing the events looped on the news, cursing Emma for burying her head in the sand and pretending everything was fine. Nothing was fine. Not a fucking thing.

He stank. He ignored it.

It had all begun three days ago. Dressing, washing, eating. None of it seemed important anymore. The first thing he’d prepared in that time was the mug of tea, and that was a peace offering.

“Get off the damn balcony!” he screamed and pounded his fists on the table top. The wine glasses at the centre jumped and clinked. A decision was needed. If Emma took the easy way out…

He’d be the one left to make it.

Pseudopod 198: The Mother and the Worm

By Tim W. Burke

Read by Paul S. Jenkins, author of The Plitone Revisionist

We were in our places, Olivia at the door and I in the wicker basket. The windows were concealed with heavy curtains to keep out the afternoon sun, but oil lamps pushed back the gloom.

The lady who entered our study first was the old friend of Olivia’s family, who embraced Olivia, then introduced her guests. The other matron wore black; she was the hopeful patron. The men were both young, one balding and mustached and the other dark and intense. They were surprised by her frank smile, by her firm handclasp, and they smirked.

The basket that hid me was a cubit square. Within it, I sat naked on a thin cotton mat, waiting for my cue.

For the preceding installment in this story, please check out “The Garden And The Mirror”

For the next installment, proceed to “Nourished By Chaff, We Believe The Glamor”, part of the Trio of Terror.

Pseudopod 197: Set Down This

By Lavie Tidhar

Read by Elan Ressel, voice actor for hire

Closing music: “Mourning of the Storm” by The Secret Life

On my brother’s computer, a video file shows an American fighter plane pinpointing a group of men in Iraq.

‘Do it?’ the pilot says.

‘Confirmed.’

‘Ten seconds to impact.’

Where the men have been there is a huge explosion, and black smoke covers the grainy grey streets. ‘Dude,’ the pilot says.

I have no faces and no names to put to the men. The black smoke must have contained the atoms of their flesh, their bones (though bones are hardy), vaporized sweat, burnt eyebrows and pubic hair and nose hair (unless they used a trimmer, as I do), in short, the atoms of their being. Later, I think, one could find, lying in the street, a tooth or two, the end of a finger that had somehow survived, fragments of bone, a legless shoe. These men are nothing to me. They are pixels on a screen, a peer-shared digital file uploaded from sources unknown, provenance suspect, whose only note of authenticity is that young pilot’s voice when the smoke rises and he says, quietly – ‘Dude.’