Archive for February, 2013
Pseudopod 322: Cry Room

by Ted Kosmatka



“Cry Room” is available to read over at fellow horror fiction website NIGHTMARE MAGAZINE. Check out their biweekly offerings of new horror fiction, non-fiction and podcast readings on their main page for current and past horror fiction and recordings by authors like Margo Lanagan & Norman Partridge, all curated for you by the tireless John Joseph Adams – and tell ‘em PSEUDOPOD sent ya and please remember to extend a tentacle in friendship! “Cry Room” was inspired by events that occurred a few years back. The line between fiction and reality is probably not where you’d expect.



TED KOSMATKA set his sights early on being a writer. This mostly involved having all his writing rejected, pursuing a biology degree, dropping out before graduation, and becoming a steel worker like his father and grandfather. Then the mill went bankrupt. After that he worked various lab jobs where friendships were born and fire departments were called. (And where, incidentally, he learned the fine point of distinction between fire-resistant and fire-proof) Eventually, Ted finished college and worked in a research lab with electron microscopes. Then came the final logical step: ditching all that to write video games at Valve. Ted’s fiction has been widely reprinted and nominated for both the Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon awards. His first novel, THE GAMES, was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the best genre books of 2012 and is currently available on Amazon. His second novel, PROPHET OF BONES will be released in bookstores on April 2.



Peter Piazza – is your reader this week. Pete narrates stories for sites including StarshipSofa and Tales of Old (as well as Pseudopod, of course).



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“Around him, ladies fanned themselves in the heat, dressed in their Sunday finest. At the front of the church, the minister began. He was an older gentleman, narrow and angular as the church itself. Somewhere up ahead, among the sea of blue hair and balding pates sat his cousin Jason—along with Jason’s wife, her grandparents, and other assorted relation, both close and distant, all here for the special occasion.

Mitch came from Steel people, north counties, Hammond and East Chicago. But these were rural people down here. Farm people. His cousin’s wife’s side. In Indiana, an hour south might have been another world.

His daughter was good for the first minutes of the minister’s sermon. Then it began: she slid down his knee to the floor.”
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Pseudopod 321: I Am The Box, The Box Is Me

by Kyle S. Johnson



“I Am The Box, The Box Is Me” is previously unpublished – the story was conceived on a gloomy Sunday afternoon at the best coffee shop my little town had to offer



Kyle. S. Johnson spent the last two years teaching in Korea. His work has appeared in anthologies such as THE WORLD IS DEAD (Permuted Press), DARK FAITH (Apex Publications), DARK FAITH: INVOCATIONS (Apex Publications), and the upcoming VAMPIRES DON’T SPARKLE (Seventh Star Press).



Pete Milan – is your reader this week. Pete writes, and produces audio drama for Pendant Audio, and can also be heard in audio dramas from Gypsy Audio, the Colonial Radio Theater On The Air, and Cape Cod Radio Mystery Theater. He has also performed free audiobooks for Librivox. You can visit him at twitter.com/PeteMilan..



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“The crate, as best I can tell, hangs high above some sprawling dock, some bustling seaport. The smells are pretty unmistakable, but it’s the sounds that do the most telling. Gulls talk, water babbles. A lot of ships come and go. I can hear their massive hulls cutting the waves. I hear their horns, which sound somber and gloomy in the distance, then earsplittingly awake and angry when close. Foggy, lumbering mastodons, I imagine. Things crawling up out of the mist and out of history itself.

When I imagine the sea, the world outside the box, I always picture it dark. I don’t mean that to suggest I’m being fatalistic. I don’t brood because I don’t have time to. I’m far too busy in here, you see. If I started brooding now, I’d tumble down into it, and it would be a forever-slope that I couldn’t climb back up from. I see it as dark because that’s just how it naturally feels through the cracks.”
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“I Am The Box, The Box Is Me” uses these creaking and harbors sounds from Freesound.

“treehouse” by mystiscool

“tie the boat” by laurent

“creaking silver birch” by ERH

“dock ramp” by epolk

“tree creak” by department64

“HarborToulon” by DifferentSoundScapes

Pseudopod 320: The Man With The Broken Soul

by Matt Wall



“The Man With the Broken Soul” has not been published elsewhere.



MATT WALL lives in the southeastern united states, likes dogs and dislikes being surprised from behind. He is known to frequent the forgotten corners of used book stores and coffee shops. You may see him in the corner, clutching an obscure tome in one hand and black coffee in the other. He is a solitary creature, prone to flight, but if you smile at him, he will smile back and mean it. If you look away, and look back again and he is not there, do not take offense. You see, the dread elder things that live in the depths of his imagination look so much like people that he is never sure which is which. He is currently transcribing and editing an epistolary journal from a Dark Lord of the Sith to his young apprentice that he found on his recent vacation to Tatooine. The Republic will probably want to suppress this information, but the truth will win out!.



Elie Hirschman – is your reader this week. Elie is a self-described “former aspiring voice actor” who has worked.with Darker Projects and Dream Realm Productions and is also involved in Cool Fool Productions, turning bad audio scripts into intentionally bad comedy gold. Look them up on Facebook. He doodles constantly but doesn’t draw enough and lives in the Eastern Hemisphere against his will and better judgment.



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“There was one Professor George Manson, a teacher of anthropology, whose company my mother would least have advised. He was an espoused atheist, well-known for his existentialist and humanist rhetoric. My mother, a devout Catholic, would have called him the devil himself, but she would have been wrong. I have met the devil, and George was at best a close cousin.

It was George who unwittingly opened the dark door into the unknown which I naïvely tromped through. He did so in a sense of irony, but for all his cleverness, he could not close it.

We would talk long into the night over games of chess and cups of coffee. Our discussions meandered through talk of ancient races, forgotten kingdoms, and dead languages. No topic was left untouched by our ramblings, save those too mundane for our eccentric sensibilities.

‘You remember me telling you about that turn of the century doomsday cult?’ he said.

‘The Order of Ancient Mysteries, was it? They worshipped some Sumerian demon-god. What was his name again? Etikku… Udummu…’

‘Idimmu,’ he said. ‘The word does not, of itself, indicate any specific demon. It is a generic term for a certain classification of evil spirit, but I doubt the good ‘Doctor’ Evangeline knew that, nor did any of his followers. The cult was quite popular among the university crowd.’

‘Didn’t they commit human sacrifice, have blood orgies and all that?’

‘That is the usual accusation for such occult orders,’ he said, ‘But I doubt their activities included anything more subversive than smoking opium and practicing group sex. Anyway, it so happens that I have come upon something of theirs that may be of interest to you. I know you go in for this sort of thing.’

‘Am I really that tawdry?’

He smiled, stood and retrieved a book from his shelf. ‘Have a look at this,’ he said as he sat down.”

Pseudopod 319: Cell Call

by Marc Laidlaw



“Cell Call” first appeared in BY MOONLIGHT ONLY (2003), a British small press collection edited by Stephen Jones. It has been reprinted several times since then. It has been adapted twice by independent film directors – once in the U.S., under its original title, and another version currently underway in Ireland under the title NIGHTLINE. “I was one of the last people I know to get a cell phone… I wrote this story around the year 2000 and was afraid it would date very quickly as cellphones became historical artifacts. If I were writing it now, I would probably have to update it and call it something like “Text Mess.”



MARC LAIDLAW published published half a dozen novels and many short stories before becoming a writer at Valve Software, where he wrote the HALF-LIFE series of games, and for the past few years has been writing dialog and lore for the competitive online game DOTA 2.



George Cleveland – is your reader this week. George lives in Tamworth, NH where he cares for cats with Attention Deficit Disorder. He is the Executive Director of the Gibson Center for Senior Services in North Conway. For many years, George was known as The Voice of the Valley on New Hampshire radio, where he conducted over 3500 interviews with newsmakers from all parts of the world – George has spoken with most major Presidential candidates, a representative of an interplanetary confederation and many noted authors and musicians. An avid collector of tales and legends, he sniffs out new hauntings and reports of long lost treasure. He has frequently written on people and places of interest, including musicians and artists and has appeared before numerous historical and school groups in the United States and Hawai’i speaking about his grandfather, former President Grover Cleveland. He was featured on C-SPAN’s ‘American Presidents’ series when they broadcast from Cleveland’s birthplace in Caldwell, New Jersey.



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“”I have to throw on some clothes. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“Okay.”

“Bye.”

It was an unusually protracted farewell for such a casual conversation. He realized that he was holding the phone very tightly in the dark, cradling it against his cheek and ear as if he were holding her hand to his face, feeling her skin cool and warm at the same time. And now there was no further word from her. Connection broken.

He had to fight the impulse to dial her again, instantly, just to reassure himself that the phone still worked – that she was still there. He could imagine her ridicule: he was slowing her down, she was trying to get dressed, he was causing yet another inconvenience on top of so many others.

With the conversation ended, he was forced to return his full attention to his surroundings. He listened, heard again the wind, the distant sound of still water. Still water which made sounds
only when it lapped against something, or when something waded through it. He couldn’t tell one from the other right now. He wished he were still inside the car, with at least that much protection.

She was going to find him. He’d been only a few minutes, probably less than a mile, from home. She would be here any time. “