Archive for September, 2012
Pseudopod 301: The Last Man After The War

by Erich William Bergmeier

Erich William Bergmeier is a freelance writer and translator. His work has appeared in M-Brane SF and A cappella Zoo. This story was originally published in Basement Stories, Issue #1, in the summer of 2010.

Your reader this week is Bob Eccles whom you’ve heard before both here and over at PodCastle. Bob has a collection of his own short horror stories out called Tiny Terrors. It’s available in the Kindle Store at Amazon.com.

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The strangers arrived after dark. Raymond could hear them behind the cabin, the twigs cracking under their feet. He went to the bed and grabbed his shotgun and stood with his back to the wall. Quietly, he chambered a round.

“Who’s that?” he called out.

“Just people looking for a place to sleep,” a man replied.

Clara opened the heavy oak door and looked out through the screen. She saw them standing there in the half light; a husband and wife and their little girl. She looked at Raymond with pleading eyes, but he shook his head. Clara thought of their own children, how much she hoped that someone would open their door to them.

“Come in,” she said. “You must be freezing.”

The three strangers came up on the deck and skulked in through the door. They were thin and pale, and in the harsh light of the kerosene lamp the lines on their faces were as deep as dried up river beds. Clara motioned for them to sit down at the table while Raymond stood rigid in the corner with the handle of the shotgun pressed into his armpit. The man’s eyes moved around the room as he took stock of the empty shelves and the dishes stacked beside the sink. Clara had just finished putting the last of their food in the cellar before the family arrived and Raymond was thankful for that. It meant there would be no trouble.

Pseudopod 300: The Step

by E.F. Benson

“The Step” was originally published in 1925 and later collected in MORE SPOOK STORIES (1930)

Edward Frederic Benson (1867-1940) was the son of the Archbishop of Canterbury and member of a distinguished and eccentric family. After attending Marlborough and King’s College, Cambridge where he studied classics and archaeology, he worked at the British School of Archaeology in Athens. One of our greatest humorists, he achieved great success at an early age with his first novel, DODO (1893). He was a prolific author writing over a hundred books: serious novels, ghost stories, plays and biographies. But he is best remembered for his MAPP & LUCIA comedies written between 1920 and 1939 and other comic novels such as PAYING GUESTS and MRS. AMES. He became mayor of Rye, the Sussex town that provided the model for his fictional Tilling, from 1934 to 1937.

Benson was also known as a writer of (mainly grisly, though occasionally humorous) ghost stories, which frequently appear in collections. Not as scholarly as M.R. James, Benson captures life in a rapidly modernizing Edwardian age, but one still prey to spirits and monsters. H. P. Lovecraft spoke highly of Benson’s works in his SUPERNATURAL HORROR IN LITERATURE most notably of his story “The Man Who Went Too Far.” A critical essay on Benson’s ghost stories appears in S.T. Joshi’s book THE EVOLUTION OF THE WEIRD TALE (2004).

Your reader this week is the Frank Key who was last heard here reading Pseudopod 261: Widdershins. You really should give his community radio show Hooting Yard On The Air a listen!

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“”Nice night, let’s walk,” said John. “Nothing like a walk when there’s liquid on board. Clears the brain for you and I must have a final powwow tonight, if you’re off to-morrow. There are some bits of things still to go through.”

Bill acquiesced. The cafes were all dosed, there was nothing very promising.

“Night life here ain’t a patch on Cairo,” he observed. “Everyone seems to go to bed here just about when we begin to get going. Not but what I haven’t enjoyed my stay with you. Capital good fellows at your dub and brandy to match.”

He stopped and ruefully scanned the quiet and emptiness of the street .

“Not a soul anywhere,” he said. “Shutters up, all gone to bed. Nothing for it but a powwow, I guess.”

They walked on in silence for a while. Then behind them, firm and distinct to John’s ears, there sprang up the sound of the footsteps, for which now he knew that he waited and listened. He wheeled round.

“What’s up?” asked Bill.

“Curious thing,” said John. “Night after night now, though not every night, when I walk home, 1 hear a step following me. 1 heard it then.”

Bill gave a vinous giggle.

“No such luck for me,” he said. “I like to hear a step following me about one of a morning. Something agreeable may come of it. Wish I could hear it. ”

They walked on, and again, clearer than before, John heard what was inaudible to the other. He told himself, as he often did now, that it was an echo. But it was odd that the echo only repeated the footfalls of one of them. As he recognized this, he felt for the first time, when he was fully awake, some sudden chill of fear. It was as if a cold hand closed for a moment on his heart, just pressing it softly, almost tenderly. But they were now close to his own gate, and presently it clanged behind them.”

A Short History of Pseudopod: Episodes 201 to 300

(creaking door) Welcome, boils & ghouls, to our gory little abattoir of the airwaves, a festering waveband of wretchedness we’ve dubbed Pseudopod! Woven into this website of witchery are some truly tormented tidbits, so pull up a casket fear-fans, adjust your drool cups and settle in for some sickening sound, as we serve up…

A Short History of Pseudopod: Episodes 201 to 300

(see you soon at a Senate Subcommittee hearing on Internet delinquency and the corruption of the web’s morals!)

Pseudopod 299: White As A Bedroom Door

by Nathaniel Lee

“White As A Bedroom Door” is original to Pseudopod.

Nathaniel Lee is a writer living in North Carolina with his wife, child, and obligatory cats. He puts words in order, and sometimes people give him money for them. His work, including a full bibliography, can be found at his daily writing blog, Mirrorshards (see link under his byline above) where he publishes a 100-word story every day. “Gastrohpidia” is currently available at Ideomancer. The Mirrorshards book, SPLINTERS OF SILVER AND GLASS has 100 of his drabbles, one flash fiction story (“The Lady of Tilmarine”) and one full-length short story (“Old Growth.”) It’s at Amazon (Kindle only, I’m afraid) here.

Your reader this week is the David Moore, who runs a gaming podcast called THE GAME MASTER SHOW, about sharpening your GM skills.

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“The story she tells most often is not about any one person. In the story, Amber is a little girl, maybe five years old. She is sitting on her bed, in a darkened bedroom. The covers are thin, sometimes damp where she wet them. She smells sour sweat and urine, old cigarette smoke, spilled alcohol. The smells of home, as she thinks of them. They are almost comforting.

What isn’t comforting is the door.”

A Short History of Pseudopod: Episodes 101 to 200

(clasps hands behind back and walks into shot) Welcome to our audio archive of eerie, atavistic atrocities (lights cigarette), a carefully curated cacophony of chilling curiosities, sure to curdle the blood and tingle the spine. With the greatest of pride, we bring you tonight’s offering and welcome you to

… A Short History of Pseudopod: Episodes 101 to 200

(Do not operate heavy machinery while under the influence of this audio file. Do not operate light machinery, either. Do not operate, period.)

Pseudopod 298: The Long Road To The Sea

by James L. Sutter

“The Long Road To The Sea” first appeared in CATASTROPHIA, edited by Allen Ashley, published by PS Publishing in September 2010.

James L. Sutter‘s short fiction has appeared in such venues as Escape Pod (“Overclocking”) and Podcastle (“Ties of Silver”) – woo, triple crown! – Starship Sofa, Apex Magazine, and the #1 Amazon bestseller MACHINE OF DEATH. His first novel, DEATH’S HERETIC (it’s a dimension-hopping Middle Eastern fantasy story about an atheist forced to work as a problem-solver for the goddess of death) was ranked #3 on Barnes & Noble’s Best Fantasy Releases of 2011, and is currently a finalist for the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel. His anthology BEFORE THEY WERE GIANTS pairs the first published short stories of speculative fiction greats with new advice and instructional critiques by the authors themselves. He’s also a co-creator of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Fiction Editor for Paizo Publishing, and has published dozens of roleplaying game products. He lives in Seattle with 4 roommates and a fully functional death ray. Visit his website by clicking the link under his byline credit above! Quick! Now!

Your reader this week is the Bill Ruhsam, who you may know from Podcastle #42: De La Tierra.

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“After enough time had passed for everyone to get unloaded and settled, Mischa gave the order, and the real work began. Throwing open the back doors of the largest truck, he quickly prepped the surgery, then let Colville’s mayor know he was ready.

The first corpse was a young man, maybe twenty or twenty-one, who’d fallen beneath a thresher and bled out before the other field hands could even send for help. One arm was a mangled mess from the crushed collarbone down, but the convoy had been expected and the family had the sense to keep him cold in the cellar.

Mischa accepted the corpse with respect and ceremony, then firmly ushered the hard-faced locals back outside and shut the truck doors, limiting the people in his workshop to himself, his protégé Andrew, and Jimmy to help with the lifting.

Beneath the harsh battery-powered lights, they began. Able to tell at a glance that nothing in the tangle of bone and fiber was worth saving, Mischa and Andrew broke out scalpels and began the process of removing the tattered arm, tying off what veins they could and cauterizing the rest with a hot iron. Taking one handle each, they used a set of bolt cutters to shear through the protruding bone with a sound like a tree being limbed.”