Archive for March, 2012

Pseudopod 275: Wailing Well

by M.R. James

One of the masters of ghost story writing – he codified the subgenre of “the antiquarian ghost story”. Click the link under his name to read more. Almost all of his works are now in the public domain. This tale was written in 1927 to be read ’round the campfire to Scouts at their summer camp. It can be read online here

“Two ingredients most valuable in the concocting of a ghost story are the atmosphere and the nicely managed crescendo.… Let us, then, be introduced to the actors in a placid way; let us see them going about their ordinary business, undisturbed by forebodings, pleased with their surroundings; and into this calm environment let the ominous thing put out its head, unobtrusively at first, and then more insistently, until it holds the stage. Another requisite, in my opinion, is that the ghost should be malevolent or odious: amiable and helpful apparitions are all very well in fairy tales or in local legends, but I have no use for them in a fictitious ghost story.'”

Your reader this week is David Moore – click his name to visit his Livejournal page. David works for Solaris and Abaddon Books, reads stories for DARK FICTION audio magazine (check out some stories he’s narrated here, here & here)
and has a story coming up in the April 4th released anthology PANDEMONIUM: STORIES IN THE SMOKE, in which Charles Dickens is given the genre treatment. He has earned the gentle ministrations of our tentacles and our unending gratitude for a late-game save!

“‘I don’t know as there’s anything much wrong with the water,’ said the shepherd. ‘All I know is, my old dog wouldn’t go through that field, let alone me or anyone else that’s got a morsel of brains in their heads.’

‘More fool them,’ said Stanley Judkins, at once rudely and ungrammatically. ‘Who ever took any harm going there?’ he added.

‘Three women and a man,’ said the shepherd gravely. ‘Now just you listen to me. I know these ’ere parts and you don’t, and I can tell you this much: for these ten years last past there ain’t been a sheep fed in that field, nor a crop raised off of it — and it’s good land, too. You can pretty well see from here what a state it’s got into with brambles and suckers and trash of all kinds. You’ve got a glass, young gentleman,’ he said to Wilfred Pipsqueak, ‘you can tell with that anyway.’

‘Yes,’ said Wilfred, ‘but I see there’s tracks in it. Someone must go through it sometimes.’

‘Tracks!’ said the shepherd. ‘I believe you I see four tracks: three women and a man.’

‘What d’you mean, three women and a man?’ said Stanley, turning over for the first time and looking at the shepherd (he had been talking with his back to him till this moment: he was an ill-mannered boy).

‘Mean? Why, what I says: three women and a man.’

‘Who are they?’ asked Algernon. ‘Why do they go there?’

‘There’s some p’r’aps could tell you who they was,’ said the shepherd, ‘but it was afore my time they come by their end. And why they goes there still is more than the children of men can tell: except I’ve heard they was all bad ‘uns when they was alive.””

Pseudopod 274: The God Complex

by Neil John Buchanan

“The God Complex” was originally published in the Terminal Earth anthology by Poundlit Press.

Neil John Buchanan (click his name above for his website) lives in the south-west of England with three manic cats, two small children and a long-suffering, sympathetic wife. He is a horror fiction writer with work published in various online and print venues such as Pseudopod, Drabblecast, Necrotic Tissue and Morpheus Tales. He also writes for STARBURST magazine and he’s in the final editing stages of a steampunk/fantasy/horror mash-up novella entitled CLOCKWORK KNIGHTS.

Your reader this week is Rashida Smith – click her name to visit Eddygirl!

“She recognized an Echo drone when she saw one. Probably a scout sent to investigate the crash.

‘Pheromone discharge detected,’ the suit chimed, and the helmet slammed shut. A moment later, a tube expanded from the drone’s underbelly, and a thin spray of liquid splashed across Nadia’s visor.

‘I am God,’ it pronounced. ‘Do you come in love?'”

Pseudopod 273: The Crucifixion of the Outcast

by William Butler Yeats

This story was originally published in 1897 in THE SECRET ROSE. It is available to read online in a number of spots including here

Yeats (1865-1939) was winner of the Nobel Prize and Ireland’s greatest poet and dramatist. The son of a renowned Dublin artist, he was educated partly in Ireland and partly in London and during this time formed an interest in occultism. Later, drawing on his experiences with his relatives in Sligo, he began to write on folklore, the first results being published in 1893 as THE CELTIC TWILIGHT. This title was subsequently used to label a school of writing that attempted a renaissance of ancient Irish culture. Yeats’ style in prose – like in his poetry – is gloriously varied: from light, beautiful tales of unworldly fantasy to grim and horrifying parables of death and cruelty.

Read for us by the redoubtable Wilson Fowlie (begorra!)

“His eyes strayed from the Abbey tower of the White Friars and the town battlements to a row of crosses which stood out against the sky upon a hill a little to the eastward of the town, and he clenched his fist, and shook it at the crosses. He knew they were not empty, for the birds were fluttering about them; and he thought how, as like as not, just such another vagabond as himself was hanged on one of them; and he muttered: ‘If it were hanging or bowstringing, or stoning or beheading, it would be bad enough. But to have the birds pecking your eyes and the wolves eating your feet! I would that the red wind of the Druids had withered in his cradle the soldier of Dathi, who brought the tree of death out of barbarous lands, or that the lightning, when it smote Dathi at the foot of the mountain, had smitten him also, or that his grave had been dug by the green-haired and green-toothed merrows deep at the roots of the deep sea.'”

Pseudopod 272: The Dark And What It Said

by Rick Kennett

This story was originally printed in Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine #28, 2007, and has since been reprinted in Year’s Best Australian SF & Fantasy #4 (MirrorDanse Books, 2008); The Writing Show “Ghast Fest”, October 2008, Australian Dark Fantasy & Horror #3 (Brimstone Press, 2009) and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine Best Of Horror Volume 2, 2010 (whew!). won the 2008 Ditmar Award for Best Short Story.

Rick, whose website can be reached by the link under his name, lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he works in the transport industry. His stories have appeared in Aurealis, Weird Tales, Dunesteef Audio Magazine and several anthologies.

Read for us by our own Graeme Dunlop!

“The light touched on a bulky, indefinite shape, hard by a tree, obscured by a low branch across the top of it.

‘What’s that?’ whispered Andrew.

‘That old car body I told you about,’ Rudy whispered back. He moved the light along, then swept it all around to catch whatever might be creeping up from behind. Nothing was creeping up from behind.

‘Maybe it was a night bird like you said before,’ said Andrew, not at all sounding like he believed it. ‘I’ve sometimes heard a bird call that sounds like ‘Whatcha reading.’ Maybe there’s something out here that hoots ‘Hey you there’ at night.'”