Pseudopod 392: The Dog’s Paw

by Derek Kunsken.

“The Dog’s Paw” is Derek’s first horror story and was written on a balcony overlooking Port-au-Prince six weeks after the earthquake of 2010. It first appeared in the Canadian horror anthology CHILLING TALES: IN WORDS, ALAS, DROWN I and was also selected for inclusion in Ellen Datlow’s YEAR’S BEST HORROR VOLUME SIX.

DEREK KUNSKEN has built genetically-engineered viruses, worked with street kids in Central America, served as a Canadian diplomat, and writes science fiction and fantasy in Ottawa, Canada. His work has previously appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, Podcastle and several times in Asimov’s Science Fiction. His work has been short-listed for the Aurora Award and has won the Asimov’s Reader’s Award. His website is Derek Kunsken and he blogs at Blackgate.

Your reader – Lewis Davies – is an ex-actor turned history teacher and you can follow him @lewiskernow on twitter. He is always looking for opportunities to read aloud.

Please donate what you can to help Talliston House survive!

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“A cloud of gray smoke expanded around them. Tears leaked from Mr. Abdullah’s eyes and Lewis put his arm around him. He took Mr. Abdullah’s cigarette to tap off the ash and left both cigarettes in the ashtray.

“You are a great man,” Lewis said in Arabic.

Abdullah shook his head.

“You have a big heart,” Lewis said, “and I’ve come to help you.”

A choking sob burst from Mr. Abdullah.

“Tell me why you cut off your arm,” Lewis whispered.

Abdullah’s browned lips pressed into a damp line.

Lewis sighed. “Show me your arm.”

Abdullah turned his head sharply away.

“These marks are a sign,” Lewis said, “nothing more. Show me.”

Abdullah shook his head, but Lewis held him and lowered the blanket slowly. Mr. Abdullah’s wife squeaked and turned away. The edge of the blanket revealed a dog’s paw, furred in brown, with black pads under the foot, hugged close to Mr. Abdullah’s chest. Lewis gently pulled at the paw. He stroked the fur.

“We can fix all this,” Lewis said.”

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Pseudopod 391: Jack The Ripper’s Bedroom

by John Paul Davies.

“Jack The Ripper’s Bedroom” is original to PSEUDOPOD. This story is inspired by the very real painting by Walter Sickert, the artist who is suspected by many to actually be The Ripper himself.

JOHN PAUL DAVIES is originally from Liverpool, and is a member of the Poised Pen Writers (see link under the name for further samples of their work). He has had stories published by Interstellar Fiction, Third Flatiron Publishing’s ORIGINS anthology, Big Pulp and Liquid Imagination, and was longlisted for the Penguin Ireland Short Story Contest 2013.

Your reader – Simon Meddings – is a writer of comedy and science fiction and writer & Director at Martian Creative, is currently working on his first novel and finishing a full length script for a satire television series. He also produced and co-presented a podcast called Waffle On and he’s a co-host on the Mash4077 podcast.

Info on “End Is Nigh” can be found at the Amazon link (music under the promo is “Meet me at the place” by Glass Boy, available at: Free Music Archive).

Please donate what you can to help Talliston House survive!

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““Come through,” the landlady said. “This will be your room.”

The lodger stood in the doorway, afraid that stepping into the room might shatter its illusion for good. For after months of searching, he had finally found the inspiration behind Walter Sickert’s masterpiece, *Jack The Ripper’s Bedroom.*

Longer and narrower than the others he had been shown, its floor slanted uneasily to the window. The same anaemic light that Sickert had bathed his room in, seen through a flexing eye recently shorn of its cataract.

The landlady gestured for him to admire the view, to look at the further world beyond the glass: a lofted city within a city, consisting of streets of rooftops, of other windows. Smoke curled from clusters of chimney pots; to the lodger, each weary fume represented a soul in ascension. Further, the serene blue of the river was captured in the channels between dark maritime warehouses, as twelve chimes rose deep and clear from an unseen chapel.

Drawing his attention away from the window, a macaw, or some other exotic breed, now stirred within its dulled bronze cage. The raw pink spindles of its feet gripped the perch as it shifted awkwardly, keeping in its blue, green and yellow feathers. He noticed a jagged hole in the drip of its beak, imagining a nail had been driven through; while eyes bruised as cobbles seemed to swell and throw back only a cold, blanked universe.

Had Sickert portrayed such a bird, hidden in some dark corner of his painting? Pecking at its small, chained mirror, he wondered if it had been changed entirely when first confronted by its own image. What the bird had imagined itself to be before.

“I can remove him if you would prefer? Though he’s been here longer than any tenant. I’d hate to issue the eviction notice at his age.””

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Pseudopod 390: Party Games

by Richard Farren Barber.

“Party Games” has never previously been published. “I am fascinated by the black/white viewpoint children often have upon life. Something is either wrong or it is right – with children there are no mitigating circumstances. This makes it so much more shocking when a child discovers that not everyone plays by the rules. Life really is unfair.”

RICHARD FARREN Barber was born in Nottingham in July 1970. After studying in London he returned to the East Midlands. He lives with his wife and son and works as a Development Services Manager for a local university. He has had stories published in Alt-Dead, Alt Zombie, Blood Oranges, The British Fantasy Society Journal, Fever Dreams, The Horror Zine, Murky Depths, Midnight Echo, Midnight Street, Morpheus Tales, Night Terrors II, The House of Horror, Siblings, The 13 Ghosts of Christmas, Trembles, Terror Scribes and many others. His work has been broadcast on BBC Radio Derby and Erewash Sound. His first novella “The Power of Nothing” was published by Damnation Books in September 2013. His second novella “The Sleeping Dead” will be published by DarkFuse in August 2014. His website is Richard Farren Barber.

Your reader – Tina Connolly – lives with her family in Portland, Oregon. Her stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Her first fantasy novel, IRONSKIN (Tor 2012), was nominated for a Nebula, and the sequel COPPERHEAD is now out from Tor – the final book in the series, SILVERBLIND, comes out this October. Her fiction and narration has appeared on all three Escape Artists casts. She has also contributed voicework to many other projects, including the recent anthology from John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey, THE END IS NIGH. She runs the Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake, and her website is Tina Connolly.com.

Info on “End Is Nigh” can be found at the Amazon link (music under the promo is “Meet me at the place” by Glass Boy, available at: Free Music Archive).

Please donate what you can to help Talliston House survive!

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“As Helen walked to the front of the hall she could hear them whispering behind her back. The sound of their voices crashed on her shoulders like a wave. She couldn’t make out anything they said – a couple of times she thought she heard her name within the tidal brush of noise, but she ignored it.

‘I’m ready,’ she called.

‘Put on the blindfold.’

The voice came from so close to her ear she thought the woman was standing directly beside her. Helen was tempted to open her eyes and look, but she wasn’t a cheat.

She shook her head. ‘No.’

‘You have to put on the blindfold.’”

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Pseudopod 389: The House, The Garden And The Occupants

by Amanda C. Davis.

“The House, The Garden And The Occupants” first appeared in the anthology TRIANGULATION:MORNING AFTER, from Parsec Ink, in July 2012. “I like the concept of ghosts as personalities locked in a never-ending ‘now’. Also, when it comes to haunted houses, one ghost is never enough.”

AMANDA C. DAVIS Amanda C. Davis is a combustion engineer who loves baking, gardening, and low-budget horror films. Her work has appeared or is upcoming in Goblin Fruit, Shock Totem, and Cemetery Dance, among others. She tweets enthusiastically as @davisac1. You can find out more about her and read more of her work at her blog. WOLVES AND WITCHES is a book of dark fairytale retellings by Amanda and her sister, Megan Engelhardt, released from World Weaver Press in 2013.

Your reader – Pamila Payne – is a narrator and writer of noir horror. She’s the creator of The Bella Vista Motel series. Originally from Los Angeles, she’s currently writing in Yucatan, Mexico. She can be found on twitter, @mspamila and on her website, Vintage Vice. Her short story, “Agent Ramiel Gets The Call” will be included in EXILES, an international anthology exploring the theme of the outsider, edited by Paul Brazil and benefitting The Marfan Trust.

Links for Jason Arnopp and Mr. B, The Gentleman Rhymer can be found… well, at the links right under their names!

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“This is Anne, with shreds of her gown wisping away like the edges of clouds, at the elbow of the grand staircase where the iron-framed window overlooks a patch of garden entombed in briars. She casts a glow onto the wall that reflects faintly but bestows her no shadow. She is riveted to the window; her face is watery, difficult to make out, but her posture reveals her inner workings. A clock chimes midnight. Slowly, she lowers her head. Slowly, she turns from the window. She takes a single step upstairs before she dissipates like fog under the sun.

The first time she took this path she followed it to her bedroom, to a letter-opener strewn on her writing desk, to her bath, to her grave. Now she exists only in a narrow series of moments. She only completed this path once.

Anne comes with the first stroke of midnight and leaves with the last; she knows nothing but midnight, and the word that falls from her ghostly lips, unheard, and those things have composed the full of her existence for over one hundred years.

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This is the column of light that flares in the garden, as tall as a tree and bright as an angel, just after the last chime of midnight. It burns bright for a single blink of an eye before it collapses to the earth, leaving the night empty and dead. A pool of light lingers at its base. The garden shifts. Its shadows follow no rules.

The column of light, in its youngest years, answered to Boy, and then to Groom, and a host of careless and vicious names in between, but the only name it will answer to now is the last one it knew, the one that Anne called it. If the light speaks, it has never been heard; if it knows anything at all, it is the single moment of flaring and falling, too quick to grasp. Its existence is an eternal cycle of light and dark. It moves so fast that life from its perspective might be a single blur of light. But it will never tell.

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This is the roil of malice that dwells in the crack above the lintel of the front door, a seething coil tight as a Gordian knot, black as blindness, in a place no light can reach.

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This is Jacob Winterbeam, twenty-five, who has sunk the savings of his brief life into an estate that has by disrepair or disrepute been spared the indignity of subdivisions and commercial zoning.”

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