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PseudoPod 605: The Town Manager


The Town Manager

by Thomas Ligotti


One gray morning not long before the onset of winter, some troubling news swiftly travelled among us: the town manager was not in his office and seemed nowhere to be found. We allowed this situation, or apparent situation, to remain tentative for as long as we could. This
was simply how we had handled such developments in the past.

It was Carnes, the man who operated the trolley which ran up and down Main Street, who initially recognized the possibility that the town manager was no longer with us. He was the first one who noticed, as he was walking from his house at one end of town to the trolley station at the other end, that the dim lamp which had always remained switched on inside the town manager’s office was now off.

PseudoPod 604: The Gorgon


The Gorgon

by Tanith Lee


The small island, which lay off the larger island of Daphaeu, obviously contained a secret of some sort, and, day by day, and particularly night by night, began to exert an influence on me, so that I must find it out.

Daphaeu itself (or more correctly herself, for she was a female country, voluptuous and cruel by turns in the true antique fashion of the Goddess) was hardly enormous. A couple of roads, a tangle of sheep tracks, a precarious, escalating village, rocks and hillsides thatched by blistered grass. All of which overhung an extraordinary sea, unlike any sea which I have encountered elsewhere in Greece. Water which might be mistaken for blueness from a distance, but which, from the harbor or the multitude of caves and coves that undermined the island, revealed itself a clear and succulent green, like milky limes or the bottle glass of certain spirits.

PseudoPod 603: Beyond the Dead Reef


Beyond the Dead Reef

by James Tiptree, Jr


My informant was, of course, spectacularly unreliable.

The only character reference I have for him comes from the intangible nuances of a small restaurant-owner’s remarks, and the only confirmation of his tale lies in the fact that an illiterate fishing-guide appears to believe it. If I were to recount all the reasons why no sane mind should take it seriously, we could never begin. So I will only report the fact that today I found myself shuddering with terror when a perfectly innocent sheet of seaworn plastic came slithering over my snorkeling-reef, as dozens have done for years—and get on with the story.

I met him one evening this December at the Cozumel Buzo, on my first annual supply trip. As usual, the Buzo’s outer rooms were jammed with tourist divers and their retinues and gear. That’s standard. El Buzo means, roughly, The Diving, and the Buzo is their place. Marcial’s big sign in the window reads “DIVVERS UELCOME! BRING YR FISH WE COK WITH CAR. FIRST DRINK FREE!”

PseudoPod 602: A Learned Man

Show Notes

I based the story loosely on an El Salvadorian folk tale I read in a book while I was traveling there.  It was a collections of local legends, oral tales, etc. retold by different people from the area. The one I based “A Learned Man” on was about a page and a half and very spare.

Here’s the reference:  

“La Leyenda de Bolsa Salgado.” El Salvadorian Folktale from Ozatlán, Usulután, El Salvador. Retold by Maria Irene Rivera. Espíritus Mitológicos de El Salvador. Ed. Gloria Mejía Gutierrez and Refugio Duarte de Romero. San Salvador: Concultura, 1997.    

Here’s what I wrote about it in my story notes:  

I’d been travelling on a shoestring through Central America for quite a while. One day in a small town in El Salvador, tired of sight-seeing and ready for something “normal,” I found a little library where signs warned in no uncertain terms that you must not touch the books. After I explained what I was looking for, the librarian warily found me a collection of local folk tales, which I quickly devoured. My favorite was “La Leyenda de Bolsa Salgado” from Ozatlán, Usulután, retold in one bare page and a half that sparked my imagination.

When the librarian kicked me out for siesta, I sat in the town square and wrote about three quarters of the rough draft of “A Learned Man”–one of the fastest first drafts I’ve ever written.

I’d like to thank Maria Irene Rivera, who retold the local legend, and Gloria Mejía Gutierrez and Refugio Duarte de Romero, the editors of the collection Espíritus Mitológicos de El Salvador ( San Salvador: Concultura, 1997). I’m also glad the librarian let me touch the books.


A Learned Man

by Melinda Brasher


I hated her father. It wasn’t fair, really, because he’d been nothing but kindness to me. When my hens all sickened one afternoon and died together at midnight, he hitched up his wagon and brought me half of his own brood so I could start again. With them he brought an amulet Lottie’s mother had made to ward off the curses of the old lady who lived down among the reeds behind the mill.

“The Marsh Witch” everyone called her, as they tiptoed around trying not to offend her, letting her steal cabbages and herbs from their gardens. I worked too hard to let a lazy woman who’d never done a lick of good for anyone take what was not hers. The night I caught her stealing carrots, I picked her up by her scruffy collar, threw her out onto the street, and warned her never to come back. All the neighbors crossed themselves when they heard and pressed me to go ask forgiveness before she called on all her dark powers.

“What powers?” I scoffed, to everyone’s horror. She was no witch. Witches didn’t exist.

But a week later, at the full moon, all my hens died, and that confirmed the villagers’ fears of her dark powers. (Continue Reading…)