Author Archive

PseudoPod 664: My Boy Builds Coffins


My Boy Builds Coffins

by Gary McMahon


 

I

Susan found the first one when she was tidying his room.

Chris was at school, and she’d been sprucing up the house before popping off to collect him after the afternoon session. The ground floor was done; the lounge was spick-and-span (as her mother had loved to say) and the kitchen was so clean it belonged in a show home. The downstairs bathroom was clean enough for a royal inspection. The en-suite would do, she supposed, and her and Dan’s bedroom was the best it could be considering they both liked to dump their dirty clothes all over the floor and the furniture.

Now it was time to tackle Chris’s room, which was about as messy as any eight-year-old could hope to achieve.

She pushed open the door, holding her breath, and walked into the chaos. His blow-up punch bag had been moved into the centre of the room and left there. The floor was littered with books, magazines, Top Trumps playing cards, rogue counters from board games, art supplies, and – oddly – old cardboard toilet roll holders.

“Jesus, Chris…” She tiptoed across the room to the window, trying not to step on anything that might break. When she got there, she pushed open the window to let in some fresh air. The room smelled stale, as if it hadn’t been lived in for months.

“Okay,” she murmured. “Let’s get this shit sorted.”

First she tackled the floor. Patiently, she picked up everything and put it away where it belonged – or at least where she thought it belonged, or where it looked like it belonged. After twenty minutes the room was already looking much better. At least she could move around without fear of treading on something.

Next she tidied up the top of his desk – where she found old DVDs without cases, more playing cards, flakes of dried modelling clay, small stones from the garden, bits and pieces of magic tricks, and other sundry boy-items.

The desk was almost clear, and she was looking for a drawer into which she could squeeze yet more art supplies, when she found the coffin. (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 663: Birds of Passage

Show Notes

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Birds of Passage

by Gordon B. White


If I didn’t inherit my father’s natural instinct for adventure, it was drummed into me steadily enough by the time I was a young man that you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.  If you don’t go looking for adventure, he would say, adventure will come looking for you.  Over the years, I got so used to the counter-programming against my inborn tendency towards the comfort of safety that I wonder – if left to my own natural limits – would I have turned out differently?  Are there other dimensions with less driven, but perhaps more content, versions of me?  I’ve thought about that a lot since my father died.

My father and I had plenty of what he would call “adventures,” even though we sometimes disagreed on what qualified. Road trip to the mountains and across state lines?  Sure, that counted.  Pushing his broken car to the dealership and walking home?  Not in my book.  Nowadays, although I would not trade any of them for the world, the years have smudged away most of our individual adventures.  However, I will never forget Cotner’s Creek. (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 662: Indian Giver

Show Notes

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Indian Giver

by Ray Cluley


Every man carries his share of ghosts, but there are those who listen to them more than others. That was Grady’s opinion, anyways. And most of those listenin’ didn’t much like what they heard; that was his opinion, too. So he wasn’t surprised to see Tom stumblin’ across the darkening yard towards him. If he was surprised at all it was only that it had taken the man so long.

The taming of the wild west was something Grady never saw—he was a proper lieutenant, not a glorified book-keep or ledger-maker (though there were plenty of those) —but even so, all he saw of the west was tired and worn down. Land and people. Native people, mostly, but Tom carried the same look himself right now. He had something in his hand that was supposed to be Tennessee whiskey but probably wasn’t. It would taste right, though. And they’d drink it down just fine. A tale of woe was best punctuated with whiskey. (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 661: The Happiest Place

Show Notes

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

The Happiest Place

by Kevin Wabaunsee


Everyone knows the edge of the Kingdom of Fun out near the wall is the riskiest place to work. So of course, that’s where they put me on my first day. But it’s OK, I’ve trained for this. I have been thoroughly tested on my knowledge of the rules and th­­e procedures involved. I’m well-equipped to handle a shift in Cartoon Town or the Forests of Delight, or yes, even Magic Mainstreet. But pulling duty on the ‘street my first time out is really throwing me in the deep end. Magic Mainstreet is out on the edge, and one of the biggest draws of the Kingdom of Fun. When the Mainstreet gates swing open, a throng of guests surge through. They’re here to listen to the barbershop-quartet renditions of familiar top-40 hits and eat butterscotch kettle corn or pumpkin roasted walnuts or the legendary buttered marshmallow dumplings, all those sweet aromas filling my nostrils. And, of course, they’re here to see me and my foam-head compatriots bobble and traipse up and down the bright red cobblestones.

No matter how many smiling faces I see, though, I stay on constant alert. Out here, where the razor-wire walls are only a few hundred yards away (artfully disguised, of course, and never within the sightlines of a guest), there are some special considerations. I’m not just weaving a magical amusement experience for the guests. I’m also doing my damnedest to protect the guests from what the Funventors have termed “the unwanted encroachment of reality.” (Continue Reading…)