Pseudopod 349: Apotropaics

by Norman Partridge

“Apotropaics” appeared in CEMETERY DANCE #11 way back in 1992, and has been reprinted several times. Norman Patridge says “I’ve always thought of “Apotropaics” as a signature CEMETERY DANCE story–it’s the kind of piece that set Rich’s mag apart from the others. It’s a story about observations, and what we know and what we think we know… and where those things can take us..”

NORMAN PATRIDGE‘s Halloween novel, DARK HARVEST, was chosen by PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY as one of the 100 Best Books of 2006. Author of six short story collections, including LESSER DEMONS and JOHNNY HALLOWEEN, Partridge’s fiction ranges from dark suspense to horror to the fantastic. He can be found online at Norman Partridge.com and he also blogs at American Frankenstein. A new novella, “The Mummy’s Heart,” is coming soon in HALLOWEEN: MAGIC, MYSTERY, & THE MACABRE edited by Paula Guran.

Your reader this week – Matt Franklin – is an emerging game developer and vocal talent currently clawing his way up the ladder of an MMO publisher while working freelance projects with fellow creator Pauline Lu, who was his Audio Director for this reading. He can be found tweeting via @angusonair [angus on air].

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“‘C’mon and I’ll show you.’

Ross scooped up his cap and we walked the short distance to Palmer’s cornfield. We hopped the fence and blazed a trail between two rows of dead cornstalks. I was surprised that Mr. Palmer hadn’t plowed the field and planted another crop. Todd’s dad was usually real quick about that kind of stuff. My dad always said that Mr. Palmer was a hard man, a man who didn’t brook nonsense. That was the way Todd’s dad managed his farm, pushing its crop potential to the limit, and my dad seemed to think that was the way Mr. Palmer handled his kids, too.

But something had slowed Mr. Palmer’s clockwork pace. Maybe for once he hadn’t had enough time, or maybe he’d wanted a vacation of his own, or maybe….

Maybe anything. Who knows why things happen? I mean, really? People say things. They do things. But who ever knows? Really?

Ross pushed between two tall stalks that crackled like ancient parchment. I followed. We cut through a couple more rows and came to the center of the field.

And there it was.

A naked mound of dirt, dark clods dried gray and hard in the hot sun.

A grave, I thought, shivering. It wasn’t an ordinary grave, either, and not just because it was in the middle of a cornfield. Imbedded in this grave, punched into it like it was some weird pincushion, were dozens of stakes and knives, their hilts barely visible. Tent stakes, survey stakes. Boy Scout knives, ordinary silverware, putty knives, and fancy stuff that must have been pure silver.”

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