Pseudopod 406: Breath Stirs In The Husk

by Eileen Wiedbrauk

“Breath Stirs In The Husk” first appeared in the URBAN GREEN MAN anthology edited by Adria Laycraft and Janice Blaine (Edge Publishing, August 2013). “This story is set in a part of the world where my parents grew up; I’d often visited family in the area but never lived there myself — never even thought of living there. But in a strange turn of events, I moved to the town of Alpena the same month this story was first published. I sincerely hope the two aren’t linked in some inextricable, cosmic fashion as the next project I’m working on is set in outer space.”

EILEEN WIEDBRAUK is Editor-in-Chief of World Weaver Press as well as a writer, blogger, book reviewer, coffee addict, cat herder, MFA graduate, fantasist-turned-fabulist-turned-urban-fantasy-junkie, Odyssey Workshop alumna, designer, tech geek, entrepreneur, avid reader, and a somewhat decent cook. She wears many hats, as the saying goes. Which is an odd saying in this case, as she rarely looks good in hats. Her creative work has appeared in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, North American Review, Swink, Enchanted Conversation, and others. Find her at EileenWiedbrauk.com or @EileenWiedbrauk on Twitter. She’s working on a collection of Doctor Who inspired essays, more dark short fiction and a light space opera while her alter-ego tackles sci-fi romance. She’s editing two forthcoming anthologies: SPECTER SPECTACULAR II: 13 DEATHLY TALES and WEIRD & WONDROUS WORK: SPECULATIVE FICTION PRESENTS THE ODDEST OF ODD JOBS (we spend most of our waking hours at work, why shouldn’t our characters?) featuring stories by Alex Bledsoe, Ellen Kushner, Deliah Sherman, Douglas Cohen, Ryan Britt, and others. Both anthologies are forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press.

Your reader this week is Abra Staffin-Wiebe can be found at Abra Staffin-Wiebe.com and is currently bringing forth Circus of Brass and Bone, a post-apocalyptic steampunk story about a circus traveling through the collapse of civilization. People come together . . . or die. Join the Circus of Brass and Bone on its travels and witness the grand finale, coming to you this Halloween.

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“The corn stood shoulder high on Carla as she cut through her father’s fields. At the edge of the field she stopped, took a deep breath, and forced her fists to unclench. She stared at the wooded land in front of her but didn’t set foot in it. Instead she dug the toe of her slip-on into the dry dirt, catching crumbled earth-bits in the crease between plastic and canvas, then fidgeted with the band of her bra, trying to get air to the sweat pooling beneath it. She blew out a breath. “Stop being stupid, Carla,” she muttered. It was enough of a prod for her to manage five steps out of the field and into the bordering woodland before panic seized her and she sprinted back to the sheltering rows of corn. Carla swallowed a sob. She hadn’t been able to make herself go inside the wood for three months. But she had to now. She had to. She needed to get back to the clearing–the place where she’d seen the Green Man the one and only time she’d ever seen him. If she got there, she would find him again. She was certain of it.

She scrubbed at her face and tried again. She got as far as the first pine; its thick branches reached out toward her with the rustle of the wind. Carla whimpered. She took another step. Something brushed against her forearm. She squeaked and jumped. Every muscle in her body strained. She felt her lip tremble. She couldn’t do it. Couldn’t go farther into the wood.

‘Green Man,’ she whispered to the trees. Tears and frustration choked her voice. ‘Green Man, help me.’

He’d helped her out once before, maybe he would again.”

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Interested in an internship with Escape Pod? Email the editor!

The Eloquent Page: http://www.theeloquentpage.co.uk/

The Journey Into kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/763571195/edgar-allan-poe-meets-ken-scholes-a-journey-into-e/posts

Pseudopod 405: A Fine Sacrifice

by Steve Vernon

“A Fine Sacrifice” was originally published in chapbook format and is VERY hard to find. It was reprinted in the collection DO-OVERS AND DETOURS, published in 2010 by Dark Regions Press. You can pick up a copy of the collection on Kindle for a mere 99 cents here. As for the story: “I would like you to think about the sound of a baseball bat swinging for home. That hard clocking sound that a well-swung piece of Northern white ash makes as it impacts upon horsehide – or something else.”

STEVE VERNON has had stories appear in The Horror Show, Cemetery Dance, Flesh and Blood, Chthulhu Sex, Karl Edward Wagner’s YEAR’S BEST HORROR, HOT BLOOD XIII and many other anthologies, magazines and the occasional men’s room wall. Keep up with Steve Vernon’s writing at his blog YOURS IN STORYTELLING.

Your reader this week is James Silverstein was born and grew up just outside of Chicago and has been writing fiction since the age of 9, the day he was given his first typewriter (and ‘Dragonman’, the draconic superhero was born!). He has been involved in theater from the same age, including some professional Shakespeare in the 90’s and now does community theater). He has written for various role playing games, including 7th Sea, Stargate, and, most recently, Cairn. He is working with Dave Robison on his SHATTERED WORLDS project, and Antimatter Press on his own novel; NECROPOLIS, a hard-boiled private eye tale with the undead..

Philip Roberts THE FORTIS HASTATUS Kickstarter project can be accessed here.

M.F. Wahl’s DISEASE can be pre-ordered here.

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“‘That the best you can do?’ He asked gamely.

Will took a swallow of beer, his eyes never leaving Sam’s.

‘Best he can do,’ Will said, nodding derisively towards Artie.

Artie just shrugged. He was technically the better pitcher, but it was an honest fact that he couldn’t match Will for sheer power.

Will stared up at the sun as if it were a clock.

‘You’re late,’ He said in Sam’s direction.

Sam looked up at the sun. It just looked like a ball of burning gas to him. He wondered if Will could really tell the time by the sun, or if it were all for show. With Will you never quite knew for sure. That was part of his magic.

Will grinned, and it made him look mean. He had a face like a ring seasoned boxer. His eyes looked like hard narrow gun sights. He always reminded Sam of a surly Robert Mitchum. He claimed to have been a Navy Seal as a young man, and although both Sam and Artie couldn’t swim a stroke, neither dared to say differently.

You just never could tell with Will.”

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Pseudopod 404: Unforgotten

by Chris Fowler

“Unforgotten” originally appeared in the LETHAL KISSES anthology edited by Elaine Datlow in 1996. Chris says: “I used to work opposite an 18th century building with an odd little window in its back. As I knew the owners, I asked about it, and they weren’t aware that there was even a window – the room had been bricked up many years before and forgotten about. As I wondered what might be in the room, the story came to me.”

CHRIS FOWLER is the award-winning author of over thirty novels and twelve short story collections. A new thriller in the Bryant & May series is out now and his latest novel, a haunted house chiller titled NYCTOPHOBIA is out Oct 2014. More details can be found on his website: Chris Fowler.com

Your reader this week is Joel Nisbet, with support from Ian Stuart and Eve Upton.

Please consider helping out P.G. Holyfield’s family here.

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“‘I don’t know why they had to turn the fucking lights off,’ moaned Marrick as he and Jonathan passed beneath the cracked AIKO sign and entered the ground floor of the building. ‘Look at it out there, ten in the morning and you’d think it was fucking midnight. Did you bring a torch?’

‘Yes. The main staircase is to the rear of this room.’ Jonathan clicked on the flashlight and raised its beam. The showroom had been stripped to a few piles of mildewed carpet tiles and some battered old shelf units. It smelled bad – damp and sickly. From far above them came the drone of heavy rain and the warble of sheltering pigeons. They reached the foot of the stairs and started up.

‘I wanna make sure they cleared everything out. Barney couldn’t get here this morning, his wife’s sick or something.’ Barney was an ex-bouncer and former prison warden whose aggressive temperament perfectly qualified him for his position as Marrick’s site manager. Unpleasant things happened in Marrick’s company that Jonathan did not know about, that he could not allow himself to discover. Not if he wanted to keep his job and his sanity.

Although Marrick was young, he was considerably overweight; the stairs were already defeating him. He reached the second-floor landing and looked up through the centre of the stairwell, catching his breath. ‘You can check out the top two floors, Jon, make sure we ain’t got any squatters in. Fucking hell, it stinks in here.’

Jonathan stopped on the staircase and stared out of the rain-streaked window into the centre of the block, where the backs of the buildings met.

Rooms. Something odd about the rooms. He studied the brick walls of the courtyard formed by the other properties. He felt as if he had a cold coming on. Getting his jacket so wet hadn’t helped matters. He should have bought himself a new umbrella. He sneezed hard, wiped his nose on a tissue. Spots of dark blood, a crimson constellation. He looked from the window again. The bricks. That’s what it was. The bricks to the right of the window. They were in the wrong place. There should have been an empty space there. It was marked on the map, but not there from the window.

There was one room too many.”

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Get Matt Wallace’s Slingers books for FREE! Direct links to Book 1, Book 2, Book 3 and Book 4. Book 5, “Slingers: Savage Weapons” is out October 8.

Pilot for Last Girl Standinggo check it out!

Pseudopod 403: FLASH ON THE BORDERLANDS XXI: The Tyranny Of Objects

“Nothing that surrounds us is object, all is subject.” – André Breton

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“Digit” by Gabriel R. Miller.

This is the first publication of “Digit” – “I couldn’t be happier that my first publication is for the audio market, as audiobooks are what got me writing in the first place.”

GABRIEL R. MILLER lives in the Inland Northwestern United States with his alien ex-wife of 15 years and his three beautiful, half-alien children. He has a dog who loves him, a cat who needs him (her words, not his), and a guinea pig who hates him (though he says the feeling is mutual). He is the proud owner of a small collection of saws, all of which he knows how to use. He is currently working on a fantasy trilogy. He blogs and vlogs and does other things that sound like excretory functions whenever he can muster the will to do so, which isn’t often. He’s also on Facebook and Twitter, and you can find all the links to his various online personalities at Luddite With A Laser.

Your reader – Kyle Akers – has been heard on Escape Pod and previously on PP in: “Passing Grade”.
“A saw wants to cut. What else is it going to do? It’s a saw. Nobody blames the saw when a kid cuts his finger off in shop class. The kid should have payed closer attention. After all, a saw wants to cut.”

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“File Under” by Lisamarie Lamb.

“File Under” has only appeared previously on Lisamarie’s blog.

LISAMARIE LAMB has short stories included in over thirty five anthologies, and has a collection of short stories published by Dark Hall Press, entitled OVER THE BRIDGE. She just had a children’s novel published with J. Ellington Ashton called THE BOOK OF MANDRAGORE and a short story collection, FAIRY LIGHTS. She lives on the Isle of Sheppey, UK, with her husband, daughter, and two cats. She blogs at THE MOONLIT DOOR.

Your reader – Mignon Fogarty – is more widely known as Grammar Girl, and her knowledge can be accessed at Quick And Dirty Tips.com.
“It started with nothing. That is, Helen Bentley looked into the yawning maw of the empty filing cabinet and felt no emotion, no pull to it. Nothing. It was a thing, a functional, ugly, grey thing that just stared, squatly squinting at her all day long.

The pointless piece of office funiture was standing with its back to the wall behind her desk, one desk in a sea of desks, its innards spilled out across the floor, a slippery cascade of buff coloured hanging folders and nearly neat inserts. She felt like running through them, kicking them high in the air like a child in Autumn when the leaves had fallen. But she didn’t. It would be a ridiculous thing to do and besides, she would only have to pick all the paper up again, put it away tidily, file it. She would only have to be grown up about it. So instead of running, laughing, remembering the youth she had never had, she filed and filled and did her job. And when the paper and forms and memos were put back together, properly alphabetised and labelled as they should be, she patted the cabinet on its cold top right corner and heard the satisfied clanging of a job well done.

She started to feel something then.”

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“Good Boy” by David Stevens
“Good Boy” was David’s first published story, and he is very happy it is finding a new audience. A slightly longer version was published in “Regime 03 Magazine of New Writing” in 2014.

DAVID STEVENS (usually) lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and children. Some of his other stories have appeared in Crossed Genres and Aurealis magazines.

Your reader – Graeme Dunlop – deserves boundless praise for his endless work on behalf of PSEUDOPOD!
“A red ‘7’ glowed on the telephone on his bedside table. He could not imagine seven people who would leave messages for him. Perhaps one person had left seven messages. Maybe some other combination in between. One way to find out.

Six hang ups. Then the last call. Gentle static. The noise wavered, as though it had come a long distance over thrumming lines. Wind blowing over an open microphone. The man shuddered, despite his moth eaten jumper, despite the heater kicking in. He sat in the dark with his eyes closed, the wordless message resonating with something sympathetic within him, the effect continuing after the machine had clicked off. Hands over his eyes, he heard the window rattle with a fresh splash of rain. The building stretched on forever on either side. All of the units were empty. There was only him. The TV noise was the murmuring of a distant nebula caught by a radio telescope. If he looked out of the window now, into the night, he knew that there would be no street, no sky. Just a dim hallway, thin walls rattling with the wind tunnelling though it, rain dripping from a soggy ceiling. This is all that there is.”

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