Pseudopod 373: The Metal And Its Mold

by Tim W. Burke.

This is the worldwide premiere of this story. The audience should contemplate their loved ones, what makes their relationship work, and whether power is an aphrodisiac or a bondage dungeon. The complete collected saga of Alecsandri and Olivia will be available soon from NobleFusion Press in The Flesh Sutra.

Previously: In Fin de siècle Boston, The Guru Keresh – whose pursuit of arcane knowledge had led to his death and resurrection into a dwarfish, homunculus form – has joined with lover Olivia Spaulding in a commitment to advance humanity make the world over into their vision. But they themselves are still only human. Previous installments in the saga have appeared in Pseudopod 127: The Garden and the Mirror, Pseudopod 198: The Mother and the Worm and the available-by-donation-only TRIO OF TERROR: Nourished By Chaff, We Believe The Glamor (which will soon be made available again in the upcoming months). Now, listen on…

TIM W. BURKE was raised within a mile of several US Federal Penitentiaries, was once a black belt in Aikido, and has a dark, satiric movie available worldwide called THE KIBBLES AND BITS OF HELLORAMA which FilmThreat.com called “Pee Wee’s Playhouse meets Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood on crack.” His fiction currently appears in the latest “Space And Time” magazine and an upcoming issue of “Stupendous Stories.” Look for him on his blog To Smother In Order To Sell The Body To Science.

Your reader this week – Paul Jenkins – has narrated for Escape Pod, Pseudopod and PodCastle a number of times (he was honoured to be asked to narrate the very first PodCastle episode!). His science fiction podcast novel THE PLITONE REVISIONIST is available for free at Podiobooks.com. His skeptical blog NOTES FROM AN EVIL BURNEE, and his skeptical podcast SKEPTICULE (aka “The Three Pauls Podcast“) can be found at the links.

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“The men backed out the side entrance quietly. Tomorrow, they would tell their political party cadre that Olivia’s guidance was purely theatrical, and remain ignorant of the truth.

The hall was empty except for Olivia and Bostic, and a caretaker snoring in the front office. I stepped from under the table.

The smell of beef and cigars still clouded my nostrils. Before I had been murdered, before I created this body from a man’s tumor, I did not indulge in beef or tobacco. But I did miss having long, complete limbs. I missed wearing a man’s suits, instead of hand-stitched doll’s clothes. I missed lungs that did not ache so.

But then I would be dead, and away from Olivia, and our chance to change the world with a few enlightened leaders, and our chance to be together always.

I considered that Love has many emotions. I was becoming too familiar with Love’s ambivalence.”

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Pseudopod 372: Silver And Copper, Iron And Ash

by Nathaniel Lee.

This story originally appeared in the COINS OF CHAOS anthology from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing, edited by Jennifer Brozek. The book came out in late 2013 and can be purchased from the publisher directly or from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. “It’s not what you’re buying; it’s what you’re willing to pay and how badly you want it. How hungry are you, really?”

Nathan is a writer and editor living in North Carolina with his wife and son. His fiction has appeared in a variety of places around the internet, including Intergalactic Medicine Show, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and previously here on Pseudopod. His microfiction blog (and links to his other published stories) can be found at www.mirrorshards.org. He is delicious with paprika and a cream sauce.

Dominick Rabrun is an artist living in the United States. Dominick is the creator of Dom’s Sketch Cast, a show that runs on YouTube. DSC features interviews with creative individuals, animations, and other experimental art videos: youtube.com/generaldom

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Something was following him. He had enough woodcraft to know that, although he hadn’t been able to catch sight of it. A rogue wolf, perhaps, or a mountain lion; something solitary and hungry, cautious but lured by the smell of blood on him. He’d have to sit up with the rifle for a night or two and make sure the goats didn’t come to harm.

With a final glance at the darkened woods, James hefted his gunnysack and began the final climb down to the fragile safety of walls.

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Pseudopod 371: The Unfinished Room

by Joshua Rex.

This is the first publication of “The Unfinished Room” in any form. Joshua says “I got the idea for this story after noticing an area along a wall in my rented house where there had once been a door or window. Inevitably, I began to think about sealed doorways – both physical and mental – and what we might see if we were to reopen them.”

JOSHUA REX is a horror writer, painter, and musician who works as a luthier of stringed instruments in Boston, Massachusetts, where he also lives with his girlfriend – the poet Mary Robles – and three fat and generally bored cats. He is currently revising his first novel, INAMORTA; a supernatural story about a virtuoso and his haunted viola, as well as a collection of eleven horror short stories titled NEW MONSTERS. He will be looking to publish both later this year. Keep up with him at his website here.

Your reader this week – Bob Eccles – is a radio news reporter who enjoys writing short stories, mainly horror and sci-fi. He’s a member of the Horror Writers Association, the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and The Fictioneers. He has a collection of short horror stories – TINY TERRORS – available in the Kindle Store at the link under title.

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“‘Do you hear that?’ Adele cut in.

‘What?’

‘That ticking sound.’

James glanced back at the bathroom. ‘Probably the tub dripping.’

‘No, it’s coming from in there…’ Adele stepped through the hole, zigzagged around the maze of unfinished walls and then stopped at one of the cross studs and picked something up. She stood there for a long time, staring down at the object in her palm, then slowly covered her mouth with her free hand.

‘Adele?’

No response. James stepped in, walked to one of the perimeter walls and looked through. The room seemed to float above the lawn without any visible support. Absently he brought the cigarette to his lips, took a pull but got no smoke. He looked at the lit end. The cherry now resembled fossilized bone. He tossed it through the wall and walked over to Adele, who was still staring at the thing in her hand. As he got closer he saw it was a pocket watch.

‘Where did you find that?’

‘Sitting on the wall.’

‘Looks antique. I bet it’s gold. Probably worth a nice chunk of change.’

Adele gave him a horrified look, then carefully set the watch back on the ledge. James went to grab it, but was distracted by something in his periphery. He turned and saw a beach ball, white with yellow stars, drift across the floor and settle gently into a far corner. Seeing it nearly brought him to his knees in terror. Without thinking, he took Adele’s hand and began leading her out of the room.

‘Jimmy -’

‘Let’s get the fuck out of here.’

Adele hesitated, looking back at the watch, then relented. James nailed a sheet of particle board over the hole and they didn’t speak of the room again for a month.”

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Pseudopod 370: Mary

by Krista Soli Foster.

“Mary” makes its debut on PSEUDOPOD. Says Krista “I wrote this story during my first visit to the Salem/Danvers area, trying to sneak one last peek at the great Danver’s Asylum before it was torn down and made into condos. After hearing that the original location of the old witch hanging spot of Gallow’s Hill was lost to history and known only as ‘the highest hill in the town’ I decided for myself that the highest hill I could see was the one upon which the asylum stood, and wouldn’t that make it an extra nasty place to build anything.”

KRISTA SOLI FOSTER is a very well rounded geek who lives in Chicago with her slightly less geeky husband, pre-geeky baby girl, and a perfectly geriatric cat who’s been with her longer than the other two combined. She is a horror, Lovecraft, movie, comics, gamer buff. She is also a licensed massage therapist. She frequently wonders how people keep up with things like writing, or bathing, once they have kids. She can be found on Facebook as Krista Soli Foster, and there’s a link to her blog there as well. She will have a short radio play published by Wildclaw Theatre’s Blood Radio podcast sometime next year. Wildclaw can be found at here and the podcast can be found at here.

Your reader this week – Joe Calarco is an actor, sound designer, and Associate Artistic Director for the Coeurage Theatre Company in Los Angeles. Check them out here.

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“He could scarcely remember a time before there was Mary. His adoration for her grew with every visit, like a well-tended fruit tree. She was his one and only; there had never been anyone before Mary. Time itself was endless while he was gazing into her eyes. At night he would caress her face and she would gasp and moan, and he would thrill with delight at the warmth of her breath and the tears in her eyes. It was her sweet voice alone that controlled the beat of his heart, and it always had been. One day he snuck into her room and she cried out so gleefully that he was driven to dance across the very floor, spinning and spinning late into the night as the angry old man in the next room pounded on the wall, shouting curses to no one that cared.

Mary made him happy.

One day, he found Mary to be swollen and red, her skin stretched over her body like a thin sheet of wax. She cried only a little when he came to see her, because her mouth was held shut by the weight of bloated, cracking ruby lips. She was lovelier then than ever before. He delighted in pressing his cheek against her leg and watching the imprint slowly fade away. When the doctor came, he heard the man tell Mary that they were going to change her medication soon, but wouldn’t be able to for another week until they knew if the swelling would go away on its own. Mary cried a little more. The sound of her voice was like bells.

Mary was the essence of joy.”

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Special Message About Pseudopod 369

Just a quick note – this episode of Pseudopod was released with a technical snafu. It has now been corrected but we ask you to please redownload it, as part of the story was missing. Thanks!

Pseudopod 369: Four Views Of The Big Cigar In Winter

by Charlie Bookout.

“Four Views Of The Big Cigar In Winter” placed in a contest held by a publisher called Zharmae and it was to be printed in an anthology due out in the spring of 2014. Zharmae’s editor, Travis Grundy, contacted me saying that he’d scrapped the anthology. A link to the Kindle edition of the story can be found at www.maxavalon.com.

CHARLIE BOOKOUT lives with his family in Gentry, Arkansas — a creepy little town that’s a stone’s throw from the hillbilly infested Ozark Mountains. He belongs to a group of rural artists who, years ago, converted our home town’s old mortuary into a funky project studio for music, film, and strange art that defies description. They did their nineteenth annual haunted house this past Halloween, and it was a scream. (It is a mortuary after all.) – check out Mortuary Studios and Facebook. His music can be purchased here. His science fiction short “One Sixth Gravity of The Heart” is scheduled to appear on the podcast Wily Writers this coming April. It will be edited by Guild Wars 2 designer Angel Leigh McCoy and Ghost Hand author Ripley Patton.

Your readers this week include: Emily Smith (who works as a physician in central California to keep her cats and dogs in kibble and afford her excessive reading habits), Matt Franklin (who is a narrative developer and vocal talent working in the game design industry. He tweets through @angusonair, and would like to thank his director, Pauline Lu, for continued support) and Laura Hobbs (who works in infosec by day and is a random crafter by night. Twitter is her social media of choice, and she despises the word “cyber”. When asked nicely, she sometimes reads things for people on the internet. You can find her online at soapturtle.net.

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“She watched him tromp away and quickly disappear into the blizzard. Had he survived a little longer, she would have given him the big news he was dreading. But a madman with a hammer would find him that afternoon and mercifully spare him the trouble.

Her tears were starting to freeze on her cheeks. She yawned and looked to the east. Snowflakes swirled against the fragile glow like volcanic ash.

No one would see her. Everyone else was indoors: listening to the weather guy for closings, checking the cocoa supply, planning snow forts. She had observed that Arkansans, as a rule, did not prepare for snow—not like their neighbors to the north—and that the residents of Cedar Hill were particularly myopic. They would weave along slick streets like drunkards. They would entrust their children to the talents of school bus drivers who had established records of vehicular homicide. They would neither chain their tires nor salt their bridges. They would pretend that nothing had changed. But only to a point. When a storm like this one came around, even Cedar Hill gave up and stayed home. Bone-aching winter had assailed the Ozark Plateau like a nocturnal predator, and all the other rabbits were snug in their warrens. No one would see her.

No one but the crow on the branch above her.”

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Nick Winnick – Pseudopod Assistant Editor and all around great guy – is available for editing at Pixel Ink Editing.

Pseudopod 368: Short & Nasty

by Darrell Schweitzer.

“Short and Nasty” was first published in OBSESSIONS edited by Gary Raisor in 1991. It is in his collection TRANSIENTS AND OTHER DISQUIETING STORIES (1993) and was also reprinted in 100 CREEPY LITTLE CREATURE STORIES (ed. Stefan Dziemianowicz, Robert Weinberg, and Martin H. Greenberg (1994)). “While the characters bear no resemblance to persons living or dead, the settings are quite real. The Philadelphia transit system is pretty creepy at night. My friend Lee Weinstein used to live in the house described in the story. But he has moved up in the world and out of that neighborhood long since.”

DARRELL SCHWEITZER is a 4-time World Fantasy Award nominee and one-time winner, as co-editor of WEIRD TALES, a position he held for 19 years. He has also edited anthologies, including CTHULHU’S REIGN (2010), THE SECRET HISTORY OF VAMPIRES (2007), FULL MOON CITY (with Martin Greenberg, 2010), and THAT IS NOT DEAD (PS Publishing, forthcoming). He is the author of about 300 published stories, which have been collected in many volumes, two of the most recent of which are THE EMPEROR OF THE ANCIENT WORD and ECHOES OF THE GODDESS (both from Wildside Press) and the novels THE WHITE ISLE, THE SHATTERED GODDESS, and THE MASK OF THE SORCERER. He has also written much non-fiction, including books about H.P. Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany. Upcoming books include, SPEAKING OF HORROR II (a collection of interviews) from Wildside, THE DARRELL SCHWEITZER MEGAPACK (e-book collection, from Wildside), a revised version of LORD DUNSANY: A BIBLIOGRAPHY (with ST Joshi) from Scarecrow Press, and, in 2014 or 2015, PS Publishing is to publish a two-volume retrospective collection of his short fiction.

Your reader this week – George Hrab would like you all to check out The Geologic Podcast and George Hrab.com

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“That was the old way, Henry, when we were young. Remember?

When we two were in college together, when everybody else was reading Hermann Hesse, we were heavily “into” Gothic novels – Monk Lewis, Mrs. Radcliffe, and the ever prolific Anonymous – the early Romantics, De Quincey, Byron, Keats, Mary Shelley – in short anybody who seemed suitably exquisite, melancholy, and doomed for Art’s sake.

Remember how we used to try to top each other’s affectations, just for the fun of it, the outrageous, frilly clothes, the sweeping gestures, the dialogue never heard outside of a bad costume flick: ‘I say, old chap, I think I shall take up opium. It’s so frightfully decadent.

‘I much prefer laudanum, old bean. The visions of Hell are much more vivid that way.’

Neither of us could have fooled a real Briton for a minute, by the way. Our accents were pure college theater. I suppose most of our classmates just thought we were gay.

Ah, with a sweeping sigh. We had joy; we had fun; we had seasons in the crypt.”

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Pseudopod 367: Flash On The Borderlands XVIII: Pseudopod Forum 2013 Flash Contest Winners

PSEUDOPOD PRESENTS THE WINNERS OF THE ESCAPE ARTISTS FORUM’S FLASH FICTION CONTEST 2013

THIRD PLACE

Whispers From The Trench
by Robert McKinney

Robert McKinney thinks about spaceships, dragons, and whatever falls in between. When not writing or rewriting, he fills his free time with TV marathons and hobbyist paints.
Read for you by Joel Nisbet

“That’s when I saw them. Three shapes dressed in enemy kit, slogging from their lines in the pockmarked soil to allied trenches to the southwest. Each had air tanks strapped onto their backs and had faces blocked by masks and gas bottle tubing.”

SECOND PLACE

The Violin Family
by James Douglas

James Douglas is quite happy to remain mysterious, although will confess to being ‘rather English’.
Read for you by Donna Scott
Donna Scott is a Comedian, editor, poet, blogger and Chair of the BSFA. She’s next appearing at Eastercon, where I will be hanging around the BSFA desk, and she should also be part of an anthology launch for Newcon Press. Check out www.donna-scott.co.uk for details of upcoming publications and appearances.

Music: Brice Catherin “Number 3: Version for violin and chamber orchestra” available at The Free Music Archive.

“There are four members of the violin family: the violin, the viola, the cello and the double bass.”

FIRST PLACE

Mr. Flyspeck
by R.K. Kombrinck
can be read HERE.
R.K. Kombrinck is a writer and artist who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife and two sons. He is a founding cast-member of the popular horror podcast “Night of the Living Podcast.” He enjoys iced-tea (unsweet) and genuinely believes in Sasquatch. His collection, THESE LONELY PLACES is available HERE. You can hear him talk horror on the weekly Night Of The Living Podcast, and read more of my fiction HERE.
Read for you by Dani Cutler.

“She hadn’t been afraid, only curious and surprised. Something was sitting on the desk. It looked like a rat, or mouse. Three feet tall with orange fur and wild eyes. She remembered how it smiled at her. How it spoke.”

Pseudopod 366: To Build A Fire

by Jack London.

“To Build A Fire” originally published in The Century Magazine in August, 1908. It is an oft-cited example of the Naturalist movement that portrays the conflict of man vs. nature. It is also reflects what London learned in the Yukon Territory. It can be read here

JACK LONDON (1876-1916) was an American writer best known for outdoor adventures like THE CALL OF THE WILD, many of them permeated with a sense of terror and the sublime. As a young man, London dropped out of the University of California to tramp the country, sail the seas, and brave the hardships of Alaska’s Klondike gold rush. Much of his fiction celebrates a brawny life force; his heroes triumph over the extremes of physical adversity through raw strength and will, or else they succumb, in the end, to the pitiless forces of nature. London eventually became a convert to socialism and, in THE IRON HEEL (1907), depicted a 1930s America ruled by a fascist dictatorship. Yet unquestionably his most fiendish villains are the shadowy revolutionary cult in THE MINIONS OF MIDAS (1901), who, preaching an extreme form of Social Darwinism, attempt to extort millions of dollars from the nation’s industrialists by the random murder of scores of ordinary citizens. Mankind, in London’s fiction, can be every bit as pitiless as nature..

Your reader this week – Wilson Fowlie – has been getting more and more into voice work ever since 2008, when he read his first story for Podcastle. He recently lost his full-time job, so he’s actively looking for paid voice work. If you like the way Wilson tells a story, snap him up quick! And if you’re in the Vancouver, Canada area – or even if you just love a good show chorus – check out The Maple Leaf Singers, the group he directs. You can find them at their own website or their Facebook page.

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“At twelve o’clock the day was at its brightest. Yet the sun was too far south on its winter journey to clear the horizon. The bulge of the earth intervened between it and Henderson Creek, where the man walked under a clear sky at noon and cast no shadow. At half-past twelve, to the minute, he arrived at the forks of the creek. He was pleased at the speed he had made. If he kept it up, he would certainly be with the boys by six. He unbuttoned his jacket and shirt and drew forth his lunch. The action consumed no more than a quarter of a minute, yet in that brief moment the numbness laid hold of the exposed fingers. He did not put the mitten on, but, instead, struck the fingers a dozen sharp smashes against his leg. Then he sat down on a snow-covered log to eat. The sting that followed upon the striking of his fingers against his leg ceased so quickly that he was startled. He had had no chance to take a bite of biscuit. He struck the fingers repeatedly and returned them to the mitten, baring the other hand for the purpose of eating. He tried to take a mouthful, but the ice-muzzle prevented. He had forgotten to build a fire and thaw out. He chuckled at his foolishness, and as he chuckled he noted the numbness creeping into the exposed fingers. Also, he noted that the stinging which had first come to his toes when he sat down was already passing away. He wondered whether the toes were warm or numb. He moved them inside the moccasins and decided that they were numb.

He pulled the mitten on hurriedly and stood up. He was a bit frightened. He stamped up and down until the stinging returned into the feet. It certainly was cold, was his thought. That man from Sulphur Creek had spoken the truth when telling how cold it sometimes got in the country. And he had laughed at him at the time! That showed one must not be too sure of things. There was no mistake about it, it was cold. He strode up and down, stamping his feet and threshing his arms, until reassured by the returning warmth.”

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Bonus Christmas Flash 2013 – Helpers

by David Steffen.

“Helpers” was first published in One Buck Horror Volume 3 – you can order it here.

DAVID STEFFEN lives in Minnesota with his wife, kid, and dogs, where he writes computer vision software. Dozens of his stories have been published at venues like Escape Pod, Drabblecast, and Daily Science Fiction. He is the founder of Diabolical Plots, and he is the co-founder of the Submissions Grinder an always-free fiction market listing site.

Your reader this week – Rikki LaCoste – is a musician, magician, and Hermetic physician. He has been involved in such musickal projects as his very own Panthea, Wychwood Children, the medieval and renaissance ensemble called Moresca, and currently, a hand-drum based four-part harmony quartet called IO. Samples of most of these projects can be heard here. He is a musician, an artist, a regular narrator for Pseudopod (“Responsible Parties”, “The Suicide Witch”), a voice actor, a writer on occult subjects, a summoner of daemons, and teaches piano to sweet little children. But he is mostly known in this neck of the woods as the creator and co-host of Kakophonos Internet Radio: an esoteric and metaphysically flavoured podcast, with stuff – which is currently on hiatus while Rikki goes back to school for audio engineering. There is, however, an episode from the Kak archives, ported to YouTube for your audio – and visual – pleasure, here.

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“The boy crept out of the front door, distant streetlamps bouncing dim reflections off his smooth cheeks, breath misting in the chill air. Pete couldn’t help but smile. The boy was just the right size, old enough to have grown some real muscle but still well short of being a man. He was downright plump compared to the half-starved urchins Pete was used to. Strange for a boy with a family to be out at this time. Hadn’t his parents told him the night was populated by thieves and killers? Their loss.

“Ripe for the plucking, yes,” Pete whispered. “How tough, strong, how healthy.”"

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