Archive for April, 2012

Pseudopod 279: Gingerbread And Ashes

Gingerbread And Ashes

by Jaelithe Ingold

The roof of the gingerbread house has long been gone, and green mold covers the sides like a copper patina, but the air surrounding it is still sweet. Sugar gone bad with the passage of time and the death of its caretaker.

Last week, Gretel vanished from our home. She’s been lured away, I think, by something bad, for this is the only reason she would willingly leave me.

Has she come here lately? That’s the question at the forefront of my mind. We don’t talk about it, but I know she’s been here before. Many times since the witch’s death. And I haven’t always been able to resist either. The sweet rot of the place both rumbles and turns my stomach, yet still it calls to me.

We haven’t been children for a very long time, but if I remember hard enough, the sensation remains. The taste still melts on my tongue.

Pseudopod 278: The Prophet’s Daughters

Show Notes

Sybaris was a real city, a wealthy Greek colony founded in Italy in the 8th century BC, destroyed by flood in the sixth century when its enemies diverted a river through the city’s streets in retribution for its citizens’ greed. From whence the word “sybaritic”, a very fine synonym for “self-indulgent”, has descended into modern English.

The Prophet’s Daughters

by Michael J. DeLuca

“Do you wonder, my brothers in service of death, what powers the prophet takes with her on her voyage down the Acheron? We all do, I suspect: all of us from Sybaris who felt the lash of her tongue. She told many bleak fates. We all wonder which she is waiting yet to fulfill–or else I suspect so many wouldn’t have come to bestow such gifts!” He cackled.

Melia’s fingernails dug into Io’s palm; Io gripped her sister tighter. No one said a word to silence him. The priest only played his lyre.

“Now let me think,” death’s taskmaster rambled, helping a mourner to hoist up the corpse of a heavy black calf, “What do the ancients teach on the subject of power after death?

“Sheshet, astronomer priestess of Egypt, achieved deathly might through preservation. She took her own life by drowning, at the age of twenty-nine. Her cult preserved her flesh and organs whole in vats of lotus honey. It is said she left plans for her own resurrection, and any man who walks within miles of her tomb dies of fever before the next moonrise.”

Pseudopod 277: The Orchard of Hanging Trees

Show Notes

The story is also available to read online at The Repository forum of Thomas Ligotti Online.

The Orchard of Hanging Trees

by Nicole Cushing

It’s another cool April morning in Hell, and the hanging trees (just saplings, really) are starting to sprout fleshy, strangled buds that look like choking fetuses caught up in tiny, umbilical nooses.

Their embryonic faces haven’t yet developed features, but I know as the days get longer their lips will grow into a grimace; their eyes will ooze agony. I have already been warned that their first cries (when they can utter them) will be those of breathless suffering. Their first words, pleas for help. The curses will follow shortly thereafter.

But right now, as fetus-flowers, they only emit shrill, staccato mews. But even this meager vocalization makes me shudder. I lower my glance from the entire orchard, feeling disgust for the day ahead. I whistle a tune to distract myself from the noise of thousands of semi-sentients who exist in a state of more-or-less continuous suffocation; those to whom full-sentience will bring only misery.

I am not, after all, a monster – even if I am in the employ of Hell. Even if (as my fellow laborers predict) some of the fruit will grow up to call me “Demon”, this is an absurd epithet. I do not want to be in this position. But my cares, my wants, my sense of being an individual with free will – these are things of the past. Shams more easily harbored during a lifetime marinated in the sweet sauce of ignorance.

Pseudopod 276: Our Drunken Tjeng (Alternate Audio)

Show Notes

This is a version of Our Drunken Tjeng without audio production. The content is the same.

Our Drunken Tjeng

by Nicky Drayden

With a fine bone knife I make my incision, cutting back the sticky membrane of Our Tjeng’s hull. I slip my hand inside and carefully widen the tear until it’s big enough for me to step through. Our Tjeng has blessed Kae and me with gills to breathe within his walls. The viscous liquid is clear and burns my eyes, tart and slick on my tongue.

He’s drunk as always, Our Tjeng, our fathership. And yet he leads our flock across the stars. Him and his bulging, sick liver — big as a hundred men, and it shouldn’t even be half that size. I swim towards Kae as she shaves tumor from flesh a slice at a time. Her firm muscles tense and flex beneath her hairless, pink skin. She cusses Our Tjeng, her words crisp her words warped slightly by the liquid.

I touch her shoulder. She startles.

“Your time is up,” I tell her.

We’re civil. There’s too much at stake not to be. The flock cannot afford to lose another fathership, and Our Tjeng needs us caretakers to keep him functioning.’