Softly into the Morning is a Pseudopod Original. The title and the story were inspired by Sarah McLachlan’s song “Answer.” The line “Cast me gently into morning, for the night has been unkind” struck her as especially powerful. Being a speculative fiction writer, it inspired thoughts of what might constitute a truly “unkind” night and what the morning might bring. From there, the story took its own twists and turns as she wrote it.
Liz Colter lives in rural Colorado and spends her time off with her husband, dogs, horses and writing. She is a winner of the Writers of the Future contest and has also had stories published in places like Galaxy’s Edge Magazine, Urban Fantasy Magazine, as well as a story “Penance” here in Pseudopod. In longer works she has three completed fantasy novels. A full list of her publications and news of her writing can be found at lizcolter.com and you can check out some of her other stories as well as ones by S. B. Divya in the free ebook Up and Coming: Stories by the 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authors.
Your narrator is Devin McLaughlin. Devin is a man from South-western Ontario who has a harder-than-normal time of writing about himself from the third-person perspective. This seemingly simple task utterly baffles him. Also, he sometimes narrates things. Devin has a few narrations upcoming on the podcast Tales to Terrify. Should you be interested, you can follow his narration work by carefully peering into his bedroom window at night. Devin just asks that you please keep it down, as people inside are trying to sleep.
The shimmering glow of Sol appeared at the edge of Mercury. Jack watched the growing crescent of fiery gold from the best seat in the house, the center console of the large forward window. The privilege had been coincidental, the consequence of a flight engineer needing less space for screens than the captain or navigator.
The window tinting wasn’t keeping pace with the increasing light and Jack’s eyes watered from the intensely focused brightness. Still, he couldn’t turn away from that life-giving light amidst all this vast darkness. Dawn had always affected Jack. Even at home in the Florida Keys he never failed to be up in time to see the sunrise. And today he was closer to the sun than any human in history.
“Time to earn our pay,” Wainwright said. The captain had been standing at Jack’s left to watch the spectacle, but tugged himself now into his chair and snapped his harness into place. A muscle twitching below one eye was the only telltale that the unflappable Edward Wainwright was as tense as his crew.
Earning their pay was the least of their worries, Jack knew; if the sails didn’t deploy, it was doubtful any of them would live to see Earth again.
The Masters originally appeared in Thrilling Wonder Stories, Summer 1954. Theodore Rose Cogswell (1918 – 1987) was an American science fiction author. During the Spanish Civil War, he served as an ambulance driver for the Republicans as part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Cogswell wrote almost 40 science fiction stories, most of them humorous. Many thanks to John Betancourt and the Cogswell estate for working with us to share this story with you.
Your narrator – John Bell who runs the Bells in the Batfry podcast at thebatfry.com. For those who want to use his services, please reach out to him at email@example.com
“So heavy!” groaned the last earth-man to himself as he laboriously pried up a heavy flagstone with the butt of an old halberd. “So very, very, heavy.”
As the flat rock finally toppled over, he bent down, with all the speed his complaining back would permit, and grabbed a centipede that was scuttling for safety. Grimacing slightly, he bit off its head and sucked out its little ration of unsatisfying juices.
While he did so, he nearsightedly scanned the moist ground the flagstone had covered, to see if there was anything else. But that section of his larder was empty. With a weary grunt he moved over to the next paving stone. When he had it halfway up, he saw a fine Wiggling underneath. Before he could do anything about it, there was a sudden shattering of the night silence, as something exploded in the high distance. Startled, he let the halberd drop—almost smashing a toe in the process—and looked up. As he watched, there came another thundering, and, with the harsh explosions, a flickering light flood. The ragged mountains that cupped his tiny signory jumped in and out of darkness. By the time he recovered his vision the sound was almost overhead. He squinted upward into the darkness as the flashes came again, less bright this time. Then he saw a strange something descending toward him on spouting pillars of emerald flame.
“Company!” he chortled happily to himself as he tottered down the winding stairs that led to his chambers. “After all these years, real live company!”
The Stainless Steel Leech originally appeared in Amazing Stories, April 1963.
Roger Zelazny (1937 – 1995) was an American poet and writer of fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels, best known for The Chronicles of Amber. He won the Nebula award three times and the Hugo award six times. He has a crustacean named after him! Many thanks to Trent Zelazny for working with us to share this story with you. While you’re in the mood for fiction, check out some of his work. We recommend starting with his excellent collection “The Day the Leash Gave Way and Other Stories“.
Speaking of crustaceans, your narrator is Norm Sherman. Norm lives on a small ship circling Phobos with his Nigerian princess Tinunbu. He landed long enough to read this story for us.
I, the unjunked, am legend. Once out of a million assemblies a defective such as I might appear and go undetected, until too late.
At will, I could cut the circuit that connected me with Central Control, and be a free ’bot, and master of my own movements. I liked to visit the cemeteries, because they were quiet and different from the maddening stamp-stamp of the presses and the clanking of the crowds; I liked to look at the green and red and yellow and blue things that grew about the graves. And I did not fear these places, for that circuit, too, was defective. So when I was discovered they removed my vite-box and threw me on the junk heap.
But the next day I was gone, and their fear was great.
Joe L. Hensley (1926 – 2007) was a lawyer, prosecuting attorney, member of the Indiana General Assembly, circuit court judge, science fiction fan, and writer of science fiction and mysteries. Many of his mystery novels were set in the fictitious Bington, a place which combined aspects of Madison and Bloomington. His first fiction sale was the short story “And Not Quite Human,” published in the September 1953 issue of Beyond Fantasy Fiction. Make sure to check out his story, Argent Blood, over on Podcastle. Many thanks to the Hensley estate and Vaughne at the Virginia Kidd Agency for working with us to bring this to you.
Your narrator is Spencer DiSparti, who is a poet, writer, and voice actor from Phoenix, Arizona. He is the host of The Green Magick Podcast and is available to read things for you at firstname.lastname@example.org
They won of course. One ship against a world, but they won easily.
The Regents would be pleased. Another planet for colonization-—even a few specimens for the labs. Earthmen, who had incredibly lived through the attack.
Forward, in a part of the great ship where the complex control panels whirred and clicked, two of the Arcturians conferred together.
“How are the Earth specimens, Doctor?” the older one asked, his voice indifferent. He touched his splendid purple pants, straightening the already precise creases.
“They stare at the walls, Captain. They do not eat what we give them. They seem to look through the guards, say very little and use their bodies feebly. I do not think that all of them will live through the trip.”
“They are weak. It only shows the laboratories are wrong. Our people are not related to them—despite the similarity in appearance. No, we are cast in a stronger mold than that.” He drummed his desk with impatient fingers. “Well—we can’t let them die. Force-feed them if necessary. Our scientists demand specimens; we are lucky that some of them lived through the attack. I don’t see how it was possible—it was such a splendid attack.”
“They have no real sickness, not even a radiation burn in the lot of them,” the doctor said. “But they are weak and morose.”
“Jenny (A Fairytale)” has only been published on my own blog (Static Culture) and fewer people than I realised (when sent out to critique) are aware of the legend of ‘Jenny Greenteeth’ . I am unsure whether giving some intro into the legend will lessen the story or accentuate it but for reference ‘Jenny Greenteeth’ is a Lancashire legend of a river hag who would eat children. The below website offer a nice brief description: Fairyist: Jenny Greenteeth.
MICHAEL BYRNE a London based Writer/ Film Maker originally from Rochdale in Lancashire. He writes for his own blog, Static Culture and is currently seeking representation. He says he never truly sets out to write dark or subversive stories but for whatever reason they usually end up that way. His previous work, ‘Gast’, received wonderful reviews from readers of Scribble Magazine, coming second in their quarterly competition. ‘Gast’ can also be found at Static Culture. His film work people can be viewed at Cracked Films.
Your narrator – Donna Scott – remains an enigma wrapped in a reader…
In the past she had had many names, each one having evolved into legend and folklore, each a variation on a theme of children keeping away from the water’s edge. For the most part the stories’ graphic content seemed to work but there were always one or two younglings that would wander too far, out of bravado or curiosity, to the edge of their known world. Over the years she had noted how the bravery and stupidity of humans skated a fine line and that children seemed inherently prone to both attributes. Waltzing jovially into her watery embrace, unknowingly of course until the last moment. Never seeing her glide under the still waters without making a ripple. Black shark eyes absorbing every movement above the water until, in an explosion of sound she would berth, clasping her leathery reed-encumbered arms around her prey and pulling them effortlessly below. Families would search, siblings would scream, mothers would weep. So it was for centuries that the children of the upper world would become unwilling food for the preternatural. It was a gruesome system but a system none the less. Then the industrial revolution conquered the minds of man and development slowly began to leak its influence into the world. The pond became a functional device for a red keep of steam and smog, the inhabitants of the town growing in number and brood, encroaching ever closer to her domain. With five or six litters per homestead, it was expected that some could not return from their labour at the mill, their unwilling sacrifice keeping her belly full. These golden days were short lived however, a century of feasting slowing down to feeds twice or so a week. But her appetite was a patient one, being able to go weeks without food like a snake or a scorpion in torpor. Still they would come, alone or in cavorting pairs; the missing posters of yesterday littering the park with saturnine confetti that they failed to take heed of. So it was that times changed and thus she changed with them. The world adapted and she in turn adapted her hunt…
Emma Osborne is a fiction writer and poet from Melbourne, Australia. Her short stories can be found in Aurealis, Bastion Science Fiction and Shock Totem. Her poetry has been featured in Star*Line and has appeared in Apex Magazine. Emma comes from a long line of dance floor starters and was once engaged in a bear hug so epic that both parties fell over. She can be found on Twitter as @redscribe and her website is A Practical Crown
Your narrator – Eve Upton – is huddled in the darkness of the cupboard…she appears to be scratching words into the floor… what does that say? “nolite the bastardes carborundorum”.
If you run your hands over me you’ll be pulling splinters from your palms for days.