Archive for January, 2014

PseudoPod 371: The Unfinished Room

Show Notes

Joshua says “I got the idea for this story after noticing an area along a wall in my rented house where there had once been a door or window. Inevitably, I began to think about sealed doorways – both physical and mental – and what we might see if we were to reopen them.”


The Unfinished Room

by Joshua Rex


‘Do you hear that?’ Adele cut in.

‘What?’

‘That ticking sound.’

James glanced back at the bathroom. ‘Probably the tub dripping.’

‘No, it’s coming from in there…’ Adele stepped through the hole, zigzagged around the maze of unfinished walls and then stopped at one of the cross studs and picked something up. She stood there for a long time, staring down at the object in her palm, then slowly covered her mouth with her free hand.

‘Adele?’

No response. James stepped in, walked to one of the perimeter walls and looked through. The room seemed to float above the lawn without any visible support. Absently he brought the cigarette to his lips, took a pull but got no smoke. He looked at the lit end. The cherry now resembled fossilized bone. He tossed it through the wall and walked over to Adele, who was still staring at the thing in her hand. As he got closer he saw it was a pocket watch.

‘Where did you find that?’

‘Sitting on the wall.’

‘Looks antique. I bet it’s gold. Probably worth a nice chunk of change.’

Adele gave him a horrified look, then carefully set the watch back on the ledge. James went to grab it, but was distracted by something in his periphery. He turned and saw a beach ball, white with yellow stars, drift across the floor and settle gently into a far corner. Seeing it nearly brought him to his knees in terror. Without thinking, he took Adele’s hand and began leading her out of the room.

‘Jimmy -‘

‘Let’s get the fuck out of here.’

Adele hesitated, looking back at the watch, then relented. James nailed a sheet of particle board over the hole and they didn’t speak of the room again for a month.

PseudoPod 370: Mary

Show Notes

Says Krista “I wrote this story during my first visit to the Salem/Danvers area, trying to sneak one last peek at the great Danver’s Asylum before it was torn down and made into condos. After hearing that the original location of the old witch hanging spot of Gallow’s Hill was lost to history and known only as ‘the highest hill in the town’ I decided for myself that the highest hill I could see was the one upon which the asylum stood, and wouldn’t that make it an extra nasty place to build anything.”


Mary

by Krista Soli Foster


He could scarcely remember a time before there was Mary. His adoration for her grew with every visit, like a well-tended fruit tree. She was his one and only; there had never been anyone before Mary. Time itself was endless while he was gazing into her eyes. At night he would caress her face and she would gasp and moan, and he would thrill with delight at the warmth of her breath and the tears in her eyes. It was her sweet voice alone that controlled the beat of his heart, and it always had been. One day he snuck into her room and she cried out so gleefully that he was driven to dance across the very floor, spinning and spinning late into the night as the angry old man in the next room pounded on the wall, shouting curses to no one that cared.

Mary made him happy.

One day, he found Mary to be swollen and red, her skin stretched over her body like a thin sheet of wax. She cried only a little when he came to see her, because her mouth was held shut by the weight of bloated, cracking ruby lips. She was lovelier then than ever before. He delighted in pressing his cheek against her leg and watching the imprint slowly fade away. When the doctor came, he heard the man tell Mary that they were going to change her medication soon, but wouldn’t be able to for another week until they knew if the swelling would go away on its own. Mary cried a little more. The sound of her voice was like bells.

Mary was the essence of joy.

PseudoPod 369: Four Views of the Big Cigar in Winter


Four Views of the Big Cigar in Winter

by Charlie Bookout


She watched him tromp away and quickly disappear into the blizzard. Had he survived a little longer, she would have given him the big news he was dreading. But a madman with a hammer would find him that afternoon and mercifully spare him the trouble.

Her tears were starting to freeze on her cheeks. She yawned and looked to the east. Snowflakes swirled against the fragile glow like volcanic ash.

No one would see her. Everyone else was indoors: listening to the weather guy for closings, checking the cocoa supply, planning snow forts. She had observed that Arkansans, as a rule, did not prepare for snow—not like their neighbors to the north—and that the residents of Cedar Hill were particularly myopic. They would weave along slick streets like drunkards. They would entrust their children to the talents of school bus drivers who had established records of vehicular homicide. They would neither chain their tires nor salt their bridges. They would pretend that nothing had changed. But only to a point. When a storm like this one came around, even Cedar Hill gave up and stayed home. Bone-aching winter had assailed the Ozark Plateau like a nocturnal predator, and all the other rabbits were snug in their warrens. No one would see her.

No one but the crow on the branch above her.

PseudoPod 368: Short & Nasty


Short & Nasty

by Darrell Schweitzer


That was the old way, Henry, when we were young. Remember?

When we two were in college together, when everybody else was reading Hermann Hesse, we were heavily “into” Gothic novels – Monk Lewis, Mrs. Radcliffe, and the ever prolific Anonymous – the early Romantics, De Quincey, Byron, Keats, Mary Shelley – in short anybody who seemed suitably exquisite, melancholy, and doomed for Art’s sake.

Remember how we used to try to top each other’s affectations, just for the fun of it, the outrageous, frilly clothes, the sweeping gestures, the dialogue never heard outside of a bad costume flick: ‘I say, old chap, I think I shall take up opium. It’s so frightfully decadent.

‘I much prefer laudanum, old bean. The visions of Hell are much more vivid that way.’

Neither of us could have fooled a real Briton for a minute, by the way. Our accents were pure college theater. I suppose most of our classmates just thought we were gay.

Ah, with a sweeping sigh. We had joy; we had fun; we had seasons in the crypt.