PseudoPod 034: Bliss


Bliss

by James Michael White


He evaluated her for two months. Came from a well-to-do family. High marks in school. Brief modeling career that seemed destined never to rise above pinup calendars, low-circulation fashion magazines and catalogues. A history of self mutilation that went back to nineteen. Then, it had been called attempted suicide, but Dr. Mandrake was widely read and well educated. He knew about razors and cutting without intention to kill. Some did it for attention. Some did it for kicks. Some did it for ritual scarification significant only to themselves.

Bliss did it because she felt restricted in her skin. There was someone inside who was not the skin that everyone saw. There was someone inside who was not human, or perhaps more than human.

Schizophrenic, yes.

Paranoid, maybe.

Suicidal? No.

PseudoPod 033: The Sounds That Come After Screaming


The Sounds That Come After Screaming

By Ian Creasey


The alchemists just did their job; they had no personal spite, and they understood the limits of their human material. She — whoever she was — had no such dispassion. At first she barely understood the apparatus, and turned dials at random to see how I reacted. When she experimentally tweaked one control, creating a mild throb that I estimated at 0.25 pangs, I yelled as if agonised, to make her think she was delivering more pain than she really was. It was a mistake. Now that she knew the dial did something, she turned it up, and up, and up. For a while I screamed in earnest, until she turned me down to take a call on her crystal.

“Hello?… I can’t tell you…. It’s the secret lab, silly!… Well, what else is there to do?… Oh, all kinds of stuff. Listen!” With one firm twist she turned the dial to maximum.

My shriek must have registered on all the seismic monitors in Wyke. The pain was beyond agony, so much so that a new word was needed — or an old one, like hell. It lasted a few moments, a few years, a few centuries.

“Just a prisoner,” she said in the stretching silence. “No, I’m fine…. Yes, of course I’ll be at the party. I’ll see you later.”

PseudoPod 032: Stitching Time


Stitching Time

by Stephanie Burgis


Some women talk to angels during their winters alone in the farmhouse. Others dance with devils, their wildest nightmares come true. When their husbands come back into the house for supper, they find their sweet, submissive brides speaking in tongues, mouthing obscenities in deep masculine voices. It takes months with Dr. Grace before these women come back to themselves, months of treatment with a starvation diet, months of bible readings and flagellation.

My friend Ellen was one of those women. We’d heard all the stories when we first arrived in the blazing heat of July, travelling together from Boston. During those welcoming parties, when all the farming families met together and the children played around our feet, older women took us aside.

The winters are long, they whispered to us; watch out. Don’t let your imagination run away from you. Don’t let your husband see, if it does.

They whispered the name of Dr. Grace.