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Pseudopod Christmas 2014 Bonus Flash: Tradition

by L.M. Ball.

“Tradition” is original to Pseudopod! “It was at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, Virginia that I founded a member group for sci fi, fantasy and horror writers to meet and support each other. It’s a fantastic group and they helped motivate me to write, edit and submit this piece. Winter holidays are usually such a happy time, I wanted to try and do something seasonal that was a lot darker. I’ve always liked the pagan tradition of bringing in evergreens to give nature spirits a place to live during the cold weather and this story really came out of that idea- manifesting the rituals into something a lot more sinister and corporeal. I find the loss of control and fear that comes with this setting quite unsettling”

L.M. BALL is a British expat living in the East Coast of America as a full time Microbiologist. She started writing Star Trek fan fiction as a child and eventually evolved into creating my own stories.

Your reader – Isis LaCoste – is the pre-teen daughter of Rikki LaCoste, a regular narrator for Pseudopod. Isis is an aspiring young actress, a prolific artist and musician, a chip off the old block, really, and a lover of scary stories and movies. Isis and her father live in Toronto Canada.

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“It always starts when the leaves change colour. At first they’re yellow, then golden before fading to a russet brown. I like the red ones the best, even though you could say they are the most obvious sign of what’s to come. They give you a rake and they tell you to make piles of the leaves. Your parents I mean, not the leaves. Though that wouldn’t be all that strange, considering. Sometimes when they aren’t watching we play in them, making big piles and knocking them over. It should be fun and it is, when you can forget that winter’s coming.

I think they started it all off, with the weird traditions, cutting down trees and bringing them indoors. Decorating everything in red and green, something about berries. Didn’t they notice that blood’s red too? Mamma says she remembers a time when winter was exciting, decorating a tree with glitter and ornaments to make it pretty. We don’t decorate our tree. Before, people believed that bringing foliage indoors was to provide a home for nature spirits, now that’s its purpose. I guess if you believe in something strongly enough, you can make it manifest. When the ornaments started to fall off by themselves and shatter on the floor, when it happened more than once, people started to notice. That’s what Mamma says. She said it was hard not to feel nervous that something else was going on when your entire tree had thrown off its decorations like an unwanted layer of skin.”

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Pseudopod 410: Flash On The Borderlands XXII: Britshock

by Francesca Haig, Lou Morgan, Den Patrick, Andrew Reid, Richard Kellum, Severity Chase & Peter Newman

A gaggle of new Flash Fiction to warm your heart and chill your bones…

The Day The Words Took Shape by Francesca Haig
Read by Alasdair Stuart
Francesca is an academic, writer and tea enthusiast whose first novel, The Fire Sermon is due out next year from Harper Collins in the UK and Simon and Schuster in the US. She can be found here on Twitter.

Juggernaut Revisited by Lou Morgan
Read by Wilson Fowlie
Lou is an old, dear friend and the author of three novels to date, Blood and Feathers, Blood and Feathers: Rebellion (There may be a supporting character in there you find slightly familiar…) and Sleepless, a chillingly good YA horror novel. She’s also the author of numerous short stories, including one of the best Mummy stories I’ve ever read and is an Archer although, to the best of my knowledge, her frequent trips to Starling City have not been confirmed. She blogs: here.

The Anniversary by Den Patrick
Read by Alasdair Stuart
Den is the author of the wonderful Dwarf, Elf and Orc War Fighting Manuals, in-universe anthropology texts about the culture, weapons and history of the three cultures. Imagine Art of War written by Douglas Adams and you’re close. He’s also the author of the fantastic novel The Boy With The Porcelain Blade and, along with the magnificent Jen Williams, has pioneered Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, a new, rapidly growing author/publisher/fan/editor/agent meeting that’s started to spread across the UK.
Den blogs here.

Kraken Rising by Andrew Reid
Read by Dave Robison
Andrew Reid – Cook, climber, teacher, writer and one of the most fiercely articulate, creative people it’s my honour to know. He and I, along with Lou, survived redshirting World FantasyCon together last year. That may mean at some point we open a bar. We’ll let you know… Andrew blogs at My God It’s Raining.

Party at the Witch House by Richard Kellum
Read by Rikki La Coste
Richard’s not only an author he’s a fellow podcaster who, along with Chris Brosnahan (Who’s own serial you should totally be reading too), hosts Early Draft. He’s on twitter here.

The Lake by Severity Chase
Read by Siobhan Gallichan
Severity Chase’s body of work is well known in some circles but this is her first foray into horror and it comes with the same precision and subtle flamboyance that she brings to all her work.

The Biggest Candle of Them All by Peter Newman
Read by Graeme Dunlop – audio engineer, Chief Technical Officer and superhero. One of the singular pleasures of working at EA is the amazing people you get to work with and Graeme is one of the best.
Pete is the author of The Vagrant, a post-apocalyptic thriller due for release in 2015 and is the husband of Emma Newman (who blogs at Em’s Place), author of the wonderful Split World series and host of Tea & Jeopardy one of my favourite podcasts. Any resemblance between Pete and Lattimer the butler is entirely coincidental. Pete blogs at Run, Pete, Write!

And that’s our stories. I’d like to thank all our narrators and authors for turning in stories that show just how diverse and vibrant a genre horror is. Armageddon to basement ghosts, supernatural music to last commands, these stories have it all and it’s been a pleasure to share them with you.

Bonus Pseudopod Halloween Flash Episode: Jack And The Bad Man

by Annie Neugebauer

A slightly different version of this story was first published in the October 2011 issue of Underneath the Juniper Tree, accompanied by original artwork by Ken Lamug.

ANNIE NEUGEBAUER is a short story author and award-winning poet. She has work appearing in over forty venues, including Fireside, DarkFuse, Buzzy Mag, and the British Fantasy Society journal Dark Horizons. She’s an active member of the Horror Writers Association and a columnist for Writer Unboxed. She lives in Texas with her sweet husband and two diabolical cats. Her website and blog are at Annie Neugebauer.com and you can find her on Twitter at @AnnieNeugebauer.

Your reader this week is Rikki La Coste, who previously appeared reading The Suicide Witch and will be appearing here again very soon!

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“Most of the year, Jack was a fine enough boy. He almost always remembered to put his dirty socks in the hamper instead of under the bed. He certainly never hid his mama’s darning needles – except for when she deserved it. And if he occasionally didn’t go to sleep right when he told his papa he would, it was only because he was too afraid of the dark to turn out his light – and who can sleep with the light on? He hauled hay, set the table, did his schoolwork sometimes. Most of the year, Jack was a fine enough boy.”

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The Journey Into kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/763571195/edgar-allan-poe-meets-ken-scholes-a-journey-into-e/posts

The Ghostwoods Books Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/960264226/ghostwoods-books-our-2014-15-list-of-6-to-8-books

Halloween Parade music is “Ominousity” by Nick and Gerald, from MusicAlley.com.

Bonus Christmas Flash 2013 – Helpers

by David Steffen.

“Helpers” was first published in One Buck Horror Volume 3 – you can order it here.

DAVID STEFFEN lives in Minnesota with his wife, kid, and dogs, where he writes computer vision software. Dozens of his stories have been published at venues like Escape Pod, Drabblecast, and Daily Science Fiction. He is the founder of Diabolical Plots, and he is the co-founder of the Submissions Grinder an always-free fiction market listing site.

Your reader this week – Rikki LaCoste – is a musician, magician, and Hermetic physician. He has been involved in such musickal projects as his very own Panthea, Wychwood Children, the medieval and renaissance ensemble called Moresca, and currently, a hand-drum based four-part harmony quartet called IO. Samples of most of these projects can be heard here. He is a musician, an artist, a regular narrator for Pseudopod (“Responsible Parties”, “The Suicide Witch”), a voice actor, a writer on occult subjects, a summoner of daemons, and teaches piano to sweet little children. But he is mostly known in this neck of the woods as the creator and co-host of Kakophonos Internet Radio: an esoteric and metaphysically flavoured podcast, with stuff – which is currently on hiatus while Rikki goes back to school for audio engineering. There is, however, an episode from the Kak archives, ported to YouTube for your audio – and visual – pleasure, here.

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“The boy crept out of the front door, distant streetlamps bouncing dim reflections off his smooth cheeks, breath misting in the chill air. Pete couldn’t help but smile. The boy was just the right size, old enough to have grown some real muscle but still well short of being a man. He was downright plump compared to the half-starved urchins Pete was used to. Strange for a boy with a family to be out at this time. Hadn’t his parents told him the night was populated by thieves and killers? Their loss.

“Ripe for the plucking, yes,” Pete whispered. “How tough, strong, how healthy.””

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