Archive for the 'Stories' Category
Pseudopod 399: The Wriggling Death

by Harold Gross.

“The Wriggling Death” is a Pseudopod original. The author says: “Best listened to with a cuppa and biscuit? This piece would not exist were it not for a tour of the Monterrey Aquarium by friend and fellow author, Pat McEwan, whose explanations of the strangest of sea life inspired the story.”

HAROLD GROSS has previously published in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog, other magazines, and several anthologies. Currently, “The Song Giveth…” is serialized in issues 9-12 of the online magazine, Aethernet, based in the UK but also available electronically in the US. While he appears most often as Harold Gross, his collaborative alter-ego, Gordon Gross, appears in several venues. In addition to writing, Harold has also been caught in live and recorded performances on stage and screen. His blog at The 5 a.m. Critic currently contains a wide range of non-spoiler movie reviews as well as links to available reprints and current publications.

Your reader – Veronica Giguere – is a narrator of many genres, most notably for the Secret World Chronicle podcast novel series (which she narrates, produces and writes along with Mercedes Lackey, Cody Martin and Dennis Lee) and the cyberpunk noir podcast novel, Broken, co-written with Cedric Johnson. She can be found at www.voicesbyveronica.com and at Amazon and Smashwords. When not behind a microphone or slaving away on words, she works to release her soul from higher education in the pursuit of her doctorate.

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“After finding the dell, we walked homeward in a more subdued fashion. After only a few steps, the contemplative silence was broken by the rustling of leaves behind us. We stopped in our tracks. We’d outrun Deaths all our lives and, in high Season, had even gone off into the desert to protect ourselves. More than enough females were willing to accept them into themselves and breed for as long as their accelerated aging would allow. There were always those that wanted to bear young. But that wasn’t Chalen or myself, thank you. We had our voices and our music and our fans. That was enough.

Something about that sound in that place, though, froze us. Then, as we listened more carefully, we could hear that there were more on both sides of us boxing us in. We began to run toward the house and the hedges. Sanctuary.”

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We mourn the loss of Larry Santoro. Please visit http://www.cancer.org/ and http://www.imermanangels.org/ to learn more about cancer support.

Also, Saladin Ahmed could really use your help.

Pseudopod 383: Blood Women

by Usman T. Malik.

“Blood Women” first appeared in Chiral Mad 2 edited by Michael Bailey. This podcast is Usman’s first ‘reprint’ sale. The story made Ellen Datlow‘s Summation of 2013 for Best Horror of the Year Six. Usman has long felt the absence of Pakistani writers in speculative fiction, especially in horror and dark fantasy. The country has a solid tradition in the genre, rarely seen in the west. He hopes that will change in the next few years as more Pakistani and South Asian writers begin publishing regularly in western spec-fic markets.

USMAN T. MALIK lives in Florida, writes strange stories, and likes long walks. He is the first Pakistani graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop. Usman is a contributor at the South Asian webzine (and critique forum for aspiring writers) Desi Writers Lounge. He has a website at www.usmanmalik.org. If you liked the story, please consider dropping him a line at the forums.

Your reader – Saladin Ahmed – is the author of the Hugo-and-Nebula nominated, Locus Award-winning novel THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON.

“A Voice In The Dark” is available at Comixology!

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“You could see the blood women standing under the banyan trees any evening. All you needed was the right blink, Haider said.

This is the way we did it: we circled the graveyard three times, for three is the godly number. Haider on his father’s bicycle, me on my brother’s red and white Made-in-Pakistan tall rider, and ten-year-old Zareen on her three-wheeler clattering over stones, bird bones, and dry branches.

“Ready?” Haider would say, his eyes black as apple seeds.

We nodded, and together we blinked.

The blood women were not there.”

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Pseudopod 398: Prince Of Flowers

by Elizabeth Hand.

“Prince of Flowers” was Hand’s first published story. It appeared in Twilight Zone Magazine in 1988, was subsequently reprinted in The Year’s Best Horror and has appeared in various anthologies since then, as well as in her story collection LAST SUMMER AT MARS HILL. “Much of the story is drawn from my own experiences working at the Smithsonian Institution in the 1970s-1980s. I was at the National Air & Space Museum, not the National History Museum, but spent as much time in the latter as I could. In those days, a Smithsonian ID badge allowed you to access all areas — not any more, alas.”

ELIZABETH HAND is the author of numerous award-winning novels and collections of short fiction, as well as a longtime reviewer and critic whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Salon, and many other publications.

Your reader – Christiana Ellis – is an award-winning writer and podcaster, currently living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her podcast novel, Nina Kimberly the Merciless was both an inaugural nominee for the 2006 Parsec Award for Best Speculative Fiction: Long Form, as well as a finalist for a 2006 Podcast Peer Award. Nina Kimberly the Merciless is available in print from Dragon Moon Press. Christiana is also the writer, producer and star of Space Casey seasons 1 and 2, an audio-drama miniseries which won the Gold Mark Time Award for Best Science Fiction Audio Production by the American Society for Science Fiction Audio and the 2008 Parsec Award for Best Science Fiction Audio Drama. In between major projects, Christiana is also the creator and talent of many other podcast productions including Talking About Survivor, Hey, Want to Watch a Movie? and Christiana’s Shallow Thoughts. Space Casey Season 2, available at spacecasey.com will have just completed by the time this posts.

As mentioned by Al, please consider throwing a few bucks to the Bobby Lombardi Fundraiser.

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“As she opened the box, dried flowers, seeds, and wood shavings cascaded into her lap. She inhaled, closing her eyes, and imagined blue water and firelight, sweet-smelling seeds exploding in the embers. She sneezed and opened her eyes to a cloud of dust wafting from the crate like smoke. Very carefully she worked her fingers into the fragrant excelsior, kneading the petals gently until she grasped something brittle and solid. She drew this out in a flurry of dead flowers.

It was a puppet: not a toy, but a gorgeously costumed figure, spindly arms clattering with glass and bone circlets, batik robes heavy with embroidery and beadwork. Long whittled pegs formed its torso and arms and the rods that swiveled it back and forth, so that its robes rippled tremulously, like a swallowtail’s wings. Held at arm’s length it gazed scornfully down at Helen, its face glinting with gilt paint. Sinuous vines twisted around each jointed arm. Flowers glowed within the rich threads of its robe, orchids blossoming in the folds of indigo cloth.

Loveliest of all was its face, the curve of cheeks and chin so gracefully arched it might have been cast in gold rather than coaxed from wood. Helen brushed it with a finger: the glossy white paint gleamed as though still wet. She touched the carmine bow that formed its mouth, traced the jet-black lashes stippled across its brow, like a regiment of ants. The smooth wood felt warm to her touch as she stroked it with her fingertips. A courtesan might have perfected its sphinx’s smile; but in the tide of petals Helen discovered a slip of paper covered with spidery characters. Beneath the straggling script another hand had shaped clumsy block letters spelling out the name PRINCE OF FLOWERS.

Once, perhaps, an imperial concubine had entertained herself with its fey posturing, and so passed the wet silences of a long green season. For the rest of the afternoon it was Helen’s toy. She posed it and sent its robes dancing in the twilit room, the frail arms and tiny wrists twitching in a marionette’s waltz.”

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Pseudopod 397: Gut Check

by Toni Nicolino.

Toni said of “Gut Check”: “Every day, human beings endure misfortunes big and small: we’re bullied, hurt, betrayed; we lose parents and children, we lose jobs, we get divorced; we miscarry. They’re widespread problems that happen to ordinary people—except that we’re anything but ordinary. Because we survive. And that alone takes guts.”

TONI NICOLINO’s short fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Morpheus Tales, the Pill Hill Press Big Book of New Short Horror and Daily Flash Publications’ Daily Frights 2012. She has also been published in Reader’s Digest, Woman’s Day, Women’s Health, Women’s Wear Daily, CosmoGIRL!, ELLEGirl, Budget Living, OK! and Zink magazines. She lives in Manhattan with her husband Anthony, their daughter Charlie, and their three cats..

Your reader – Stephanie Morris – is a librarian-in-training, a voracious biblio- and audiophile, an occasional writer of short stories, and a voice and stage actor. She has narrated short stories for PseudoPod, PodCastle, and Cast of Wonders, guest-blogged on subjects ranging from creative writing to zombie turkeys, and performed Shakespeare in a handful of weird churches. She is currently working toward a degree in Media Studies, which is really just a sneaky way for her to discuss her favorite fandoms in an academic context. She blogs at scribbleomania.

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“The sun had ducked behind the overgrown trees on Twining Avenue, and she checked the time on her cell phone. She’d been meandering for almost thirty minutes, and if she went any further, she wouldn’t have the energy to trek back. She turned around and started the journey home, feeling strangely fearful of the sudden darkness. The streetlights hadn’t yet been activated and the lack of illumination made her uneasy. She picked up the pace, wondering if her protective new-mother disposition had heightened her sense of self-preservation. More likely, the recollection of her unpleasant childhood had caused the unrest.

She turned the corner onto another darkened block and tried to steer her thoughts to a more optimistic topic, like her pregnancy, but she couldn’t shake her disquiet. Bad memories seemed to follow her tonight, and Rae developed the uncomfortable suspicion that she was no longer alone on the street. She slowed, determined to eliminate the possibility that something tangible—and perhaps threatening—trailed behind her. But before she could turn around, confirmation came in the form of a blow to the legs. Pain exploded in her right kneecap and she fell to the sidewalk, her mind leaping to that day in the seventh grade when she’d been pushed in the hallway. Instinctively, her arms thrust forth to break her fall, but her fight-or-flight instincts were numbed by surprise and fear. Her attacker took advantage of the temporary shock and thrust a bare arm around her neck; the stranger smelled vaguely of cigarettes and barbeque sauce, and just as it registered that it was in fact a man—and not her bad thoughts—which had been stalking her, a cold, hard object was pressed against her temple.

“I’ll shoot if you scream,” he said, and despite the warning, Rae couldn’t help herself. The scream had formed in her throat the moment her legs had been bashed, and even though it felt like the act had transpired minutes before, in reality, only seconds had passed. The cry was on her tongue now; it was a high-speed train moving at breakneck speed, too fast to stop, and as she opened her mouth to let it pass, a white light blinded her. The pain came next; it crawled over her skull like cracks in glass, and then everything went black.”

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