Archive for December, 2012
Pseudopod 314: What Happens When You Wake Up In The Night

by Michael Marshall Smith.



First published as a chapbook from Nightjar Press, September 2009, this story won the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story in 2011 and appeared in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR for that year. The fee for this story has been generously donated to Cats Protection League – please click the link and consider making some cat’s life a little easier.



MICHAEL MARSHALL SMITH is a novelist and screenwriter. Under this name he has published over seventy short stories, and three novels — ONLY FORWARD, SPARES and ONE OF US — winning the Philip K. Dick, International Horror Guild, and August Derleth awards, along with the Prix Bob Morane in France. He has been awarded the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction four times, more than any other author. Writing as MICHAEL MARSHALL, he has published six internationally-bestselling thrillers including THE STRAW MEN, THE INTRUDERS and KILLER MOVE. His next novel, THE FORGOTTEN, will be published in 2013. He is currently involved in screenwriting projects including a television pilot and an animated movie for children. He lives in Santa Cruz with his wife and son. Check out his website at the link under his byline above.



Your reader this week is Donna Scott – Donna Scott is a short fiction writer, editor, performance poet, storyteller and comedian as well as Awards Administrator for the British Science Fiction Association. She has recently worked with Northampton Museum and Art Gallery to produce an exhibition on the 1612 Northampton Witch Trials and a number of spin-off projects in the region. To find out about her latest projects and appearances check out her website here



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“The first thing I was unhappy about was the dark. I do not like the dark very very much. It is not the worst thing in the world but it is also not the best thing in the world, either. When I was very smaller I used to wake up sometimes in the middle of the night and be scared when I woke up, because it was so dark. I would go to bed with my light on, the one light that turns round and round, on the drawers by the side of my bed. It has animals on it and it turns around and it makes shapes and patterns on the ceiling and it is pretty and my mummy’s friend Jeanette gave it to me. It is not very too bright but it is bright enough and you can see what is what. But then it started that when I woke up in the middle of the night, the light would not be on any more and it would be completely dark instead and it would make me sad. I didn’t understand this but one night when I’d woken up and cried a lot my mummy told me that she came in every night and turned off the light every night after I was asleep, so it didn’t wake me up. But I said that wasn’t any good, because if I did wake up in the night and the light wasn’t on, then I might be scared, and cry. She said it seemed that I was waking every night, and the she and daddy had worked out that it might be the light that kept me awake, and after a while I was awake I’d get up and go into their room and see what was up with them, which meant she got no sleep any night ever and it was driving her completely nuts.

So we made a deal, where and the deal said I could have the light on all night but I promised that I would not go into their room in the night unless it was really important, and it is a good deal and so I’m allowed to have my light on again now, which is why the first thing I noticed when I woke up was that is it was dark.

Mummy had broken the deal.

I was cross about this but I was also very sleepy and so wasn’t sure if I was going to shout about it or not.

Then I noticed it was cold.

Before I go to bed, mummy puts a heater on while I am having my bath, and also I have two blankets on top of my duvet, and so I am a warm little bunny and it is fine. Sometimes if I wake in the middle of the night it feels a bit cold but if I snuggle down again it’s okay.

But this felt really cold.

My light was not on and I was cold.”

Pseudopod 313: The Dead Sexton

by J. Sheridan Le Fanu.



This story previously appeared in ACROSS THE BRIDGE the Christmas Annual of 1871 in the magazine “Once a Week”. It is set in Le Fanu’s invented Lake District town of Golden Friars.
It can be read online here.



J. Sheridan Le Fanu was an Irish writer of Gothic tales and mystery novels. He was the leading ghost-story writer of the nineteenth century and was central to the development of the genre in the Victorian era. Three of his best known works are UNCLE SILAS, CARMILLA and THE HOUSE BY THE CHURCHYARD. He studied law at Trinity College in Dublin, was called to the bar in 1839, but he never practiced and soon abandoned law for journalism. In 1838 he began contributing stories to the Dublin University Magazine, including his first ghost story, entitled “The Ghost and the Bone-Setter” (1838). Le Fanu worked in many genres but remains best known for his mystery and horror fiction. He was a meticulous craftsman and frequently reworked plots and ideas from his earlier writing in subsequent pieces. Many of his novels, for example, are expansions and refinements of earlier short stories. He specialized in tone and effect rather than “shock horror”, and liked to leave important details unexplained and mysterious. He had enormous influence on the 20th century’s most important ghost story writer, M. R. James, and although his work fell out of favor in the early part of the 20th century, towards the end of the century interest in his work increased and remains comparatively strong. CARMILLA, in particular, is a prescient and much-adapted work, as it prefigures the romantic and lesbian vampire figures.



Your reader this week is Ian Stuart – Voice over artist, writer, dog walker, dialect wrestler and father of famous hosts.



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“But he was a tall, sinewy figure. He wore a cape or short mantle, a cocked hat, and a pair of jack-boots, such as held their ground in some primitive corners of England almost to the close of the last century.

‘Take him, lad,’ said he to old Scales. ‘You need not walk or wisp him–he never sweats or tires. Give him his oats, and let him take his own time to eat them. House!’ cried the stranger–in the old-fashioned form of summons which still lingered, at that time, in out-of-the-way places–in a deep and piercing voice.

As Tom Scales led the horse away to the stables it turned its head towards its master with a short, shill neigh.

‘About your business, old gentleman–we must not go too fast,’ the stranger cried back again to his horse, with a laugh as harsh and piercing; and he strode into the house.

The hostler led this horse into the inn yard. In passing, it sidled up to the coach-house gate, within which lay the dead sexton–snorted, pawed and lowered its head suddenly, with ear close to the plank, as if listening for a sound from within; then uttered again the same short, piercing neigh.

The hostler was chilled at this mysterious coquetry with the dead. He liked the brute less and less every minute.

In the meantime, its master had proceeded.

‘I’ll go to the inn kitchen,’ he said, in his startling bass, to the drawer who met him in the passage.

And on he went, as if he had known the place all his days: not seeming to hurry himself–stepping leisurely, the servant thought–but gliding on at such a rate, nevertheless, that he had passed his guide and was in the kitchen of the George before the drawer had got much more than half-way to it.

A roaring fire of dry wood, peat and coal lighted up this snug but spacious apartment–flashing on pots and pans, and dressers high-piled with pewter plates and dishes; and making the uncertain shadows of the long ‘hanks’ of onions and many a flitch and ham, depending from the ceiling, dance on its glowing surface.

The doctor and the attorney, even Sir Geoffrey Mardykes, did not disdain on this occasion to take chairs and smoke their pipes by the kitchen fire, where they were in the thick of the gossip and discussion excited by the terrible event.

The tall stranger entered uninvited.”

Pseudopod 312: Feeding The Machine

by Hunter James Martin

This week’s episode sponsored by Audible.com; they offer Pseudopod listeners a free audiobook download of their choice from Audible’s selection of over 100,000 titles.

This story previously appeared on Hunter’s blog at FORGOTTEN MANUSCRIPTS.

Hunter James Martin comes from Scotland. He blogs at I sell exotic children to celebrities. That is all!

Your reader this week is Rich C. Girardi. A writer, producer, and puppeteer, check Lady Jane’s Lair on YouTube.

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“The moment I laid eyes on the new start I knew he wasn’t going to last. Half of it was the look on his eyes, the other half was the look on everyone else’s eyes when they watched him. A lot of people don’t make it in this line of work. Not many minds can cope with being planted deep into the ground for so long. The average new start does five days a week, while the average worker does seven. I have been doing entire weeks for longer than I remember, devoid of fresh air and sunlight. It has been a long time since I have seen my reflection, but I imagine I am not a pretty sight.

The atmosphere doesn’t help things either, the horrid gloom we work within. Even in my apathy I can taste it: the darkness that nestles within the oily depths of the shadows, the dull throb that resonates through the caverns, and the dreadful machine, always rumbling like an empty stomach. The heat too, emitted from its insides, made worse after twelve hours of working in the same suit collecting sweat and oil and dirt and sometimes piss. Then wearing it again the next day. Then for another year.

My suit smells terrible. Everyone’s does. The tough leather is falling apart and there is a tear behind my left shoulder. But we are used to it. Used to recycled uniforms and moribund tools. Used to safety equipment that is a hazard in itself. Used to the smell of ancient piss and shit. Hardly even notice it really. Only made aware of it when a new start comes down the cargo elevator twitching his nose and pretending the reek doesn’t bother them. They all do that, then they either get used to it or lose their job. Back up the cargo elevator, or worse.'”

Pseudopod 311: Flash On The Borderlands XIV: Resistance!

For Pearl Harbor Day, three flash pieces about fighting back …


No Further by Matthew Acheson

This piece was previously published in “Underground Voices” magazine and is one of two stories available to date from Mr. Acheson’s WHISPERS FROM THE NORTH saga, a series of linked short stories that sets the backdrop for his currently in progress fantasy novel.

Matthew Acheson lives in Orono, Maine. He earned his Bachelor’s in Computer Science and Ancient History from the University of Southern Maine, and has worked as an engineer in the telecommunications industry for over a decade. His fiction has appeared in Raygun Revival, Spinetingler, Digital Dragon, Morpheus Tales, and others. On some cold winter nights you’ll find him by the fireplace, entertaining his fourteen nieces and nephews with strange tales of supernatural horror and the fantastic. His website, Cryptic House, is linked under his byline above.


Read by Ian Stuart, who has something special in store for you in a few weeks!

“Their arrival was a terrible sight. The light from the full moon cast a strange, eerie glow upon the host of pale corpse things and their shrieking masters which stretched across the vale for miles in every direction. They swept the valley like a flood that left only ash, carrion and pestilence in its wake.”


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The Conchie by J. Chant

Pseudopod is the story’s first publication.

Jayne Chant resides in a tiny town in Cambridgeshire with her husband, daughter and malevolent cat. Her first experience of the unmatchable thrill of a good ghost story was as a small child listening to her mother read Victorian ghost stories by candlelight..


Read by Kim Lakin-Smith, whose dark fantasy and science fiction short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies including Black Static, Interzone, Celebration, Myth-Understandings, Further Conflicts, PANDEMONIUM: STORIES OF THE APOCALYPSE, THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF GHOST STORIES BY WOMEN (“‘Field of the Dead”), and others, with “Johnny and Emmie-Lou Get Married” shortlisted for the BSFA short story award 2009. She is the author of the gothic fantasy Tourniquet; Tales from the Renegade City, the YA novella QUEEN RAT, and CYBER CIRCUS which was shortlisted for both the 2012 BSFA Best Novel award and the British Fantasy Award for Best Novel. Published on the 1st of December by Snow Books will be RESURRECTION ENGINES, an anthology of steampunk short stories inspired by classic novels from the Victorian period, containing her short story, “The Island of Peter Pandora” (a mashup of Peter Pan and The Island of Doctor Moreau), which has also been picked up for Best Fantasy 2013 from Proxima Books. She is currently working on an urban fantasy YA novel and a dark fantasy novel for adults.

“‘But last night I could not sleep. That unending thunder – I shut my eyes and all I could see were flames. It hurt to breath. It was Thomas I worried for. Then very late, after the clock struck three, Peter appeared and my heart leapt. He sat on the Ottoman at the foot of the bed, his back to me, his arm stretched along the bedstead.

‘I noticed a terrible stain on his back, and as I watched, it spread. I cried out his name, and for the first time he seemed to have heard, in all the nights he’s appeared. His head turned, only a little. I don’t think he wanted me to see his face. His fingers twitched.’

‘It was only a nightmare, Amelia.’

‘I crawled down the bed towards him. I said; my dear, my sweet child, are you in pain? His head shook from side to side. I reached out for his hand, and for a moment I felt his flesh. Cold and damp. And then he was gone. Completely. The room filled with the scent of honeysuckle, just like Vaughn house, where we used to summer, and Peter fished and climbed trees and played soldiers.’

Amelia’s hand shot out and gripped Elizabeth’s, far too hard.

‘It was a nightmare, nothing more,’ said Elizabeth, pulling her hand away.”


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Bitter Tea & Braided Hair by Henry Lu

This story was first published on Fiction365 on May 4th, 2012.

Henry Lu learned English in a pre-podcast era, by listening to Voice of America when he was a teenager in Communist China. He also paints. You can look at his paintings on RedBubble under the name of “ArtPal”


Read by Tracey Yuen, who is involved in education and considers listening to podcasts a big factor in getting himself to “read” fiction and dabbles in photography, videography editing, page layout and narration.

“Incense smoke rises from the monastery into the low-hanging clouds of the same ominous shade, portending a quick-fire summer storm.

His standard-issue dark suit gives him away: even the Chinese tourists can tell he’s a plain-clothes. He watches the crowd’s every move, carrying the thermos mug that has earned him the “bitter tea” nickname. Like his Tibetan mother, he is addicted to Chinese bitter tea.

He pays close attention to the braided hairs of Tibetan maidens, determined to follow his Chinese father’s footstep in marrying one of them someday.”