PseudoPod 458: Stabilimentum

by Livia Llewellyn

“Stabilimentum” was published in the 2013 anthology Shadow’s Edge, which was edited by Simon Strantzas for Gray Friar Press.

“The story was written as a reaction to the massive and rapid development of the Jersey City waterfront, which is so out of character with the rest of the city – in particular my tenement-lined neighborhood – that it seems altogether alien and intrusive.”

Livia Llewellyn is a writer of dark fantasy, horror and erotica. Her fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Subterranean, Nightmare Magazine, and Postscripts; and her short story collection Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Collection. Her website is at, where she list all her current works-in-progress and upcoming publications.

Your narrator – Tatiana Gomberg is a New York City based actress of stage, screen, and of course, the audio booth. Learn more about her at

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Thalia woke up with a small moan, a gasp of air escaping her mouth as her eyes opened to dim morning light. She stood before the open door of her bathroom, the small room as black and empty as an elevator shaft. Did she sleepwalk? No, that couldn’t be it. She was only still so tired that she didn’t remember getting out of bed. Just like the day before, and the day before–three months of this now, starting the day she moved in. Leaning against the doorframe, Thalia flipped on the bathroom light, peering up at the ceiling as she waited for the vertigo to dissipate. Thirty floors above her, a small city pressing down. She felt it the most in this tight, windowless space, the gurgles of water and pinging of pipes, the crush of so many people above and around her, doing the exact same thing. She had wanted to live high above everyone, far away from the crowds. It never occurred to her that with so many tenants pressed together, she would never feel truly alone, never feel far away from anything at all. Everyone bleeding into each other’s space–city living, get used to it. Thalia pushed the unease away, and reached for the toothpaste.

She only noticed it later, as she was getting ready to leave for work–looking up as she struggled with her hair, she spied a large brown spider trembling on invisible strands, high up in the far corner over her bathtub. Thalia stared, momentarily slack-jawed, as the creature seemingly floated through thick circles and curves of a white spiral pattern within the invisible rest of the web, its pace furious in tempo and intent. That was going to be one big damn web when it was finished. Which would be never.

“Do not have time for this,” Thalia mumbled, half-tiptoeing, half-clomping through the living room in an attempt to keep the neighbors below from waking up and complaining yet again about high heels and noise. A single shake to the bright yellow canister from under the kitchen sink told her all she needed to know. Barely enough to kill it, but it was enough. She tip-clomped back into the bathroom, and rose the can high into the air. Another small gasp escaped her lips, and she leaned back against the door frame. Again, vertigo–always the sensation that she was rising, rushing upward into the clouds. She just needed more protein, that’s all, maybe eggs for breakfast tomorrow instead of coffee and toast. Thalia aimed the can, and pressed her finger down. The first shot sent the spider spiraling down into the tub, and the second, weaker blast slowed its tremulous death throes just enough to assure her there would be no sudden revivals. Thalia felt the prickle of wet mist against her skin, and a second later, an ugly floral scent stung her throat and eyes. She backed quickly out of the bathroom, leaving the frail crumple of body and legs on the bathtub mat, a dot waving eight farewells. She’d deal with it when she got home tonight.