PseudoPod 598: Walk in Beauty

Walk in Beauty

by Jim Bihyeh

Tomacita Jones walked over the yellowing grass of the Carl Shepherd Memorial football stadium next to Wide Reeds Elementary School, listening to the autumn winds shake the elm trees at the edge of the gravel track circling the field. The winds were getting stronger now. The nights longer. The cold was becoming more real and the trees knew it. So they were letting their leaves die. She didn’t like that thought, as she bent over her knees and stretched her all-too-chubby legs under her all-too-puffy sweatpants. She double-knotted the laces on her scuffed running shoes. She hadn’t worn them in years, not since Rosa, her granddaughter, had been born.
She felt snot about to drip from the tip of her nose and she brushed it away with the sleeve of her sweatshirt.

But she was wearing the damn shoes today.

And they were helping her forget about those trees, hissing and letting their leaves drop away. Maybe that’s what life led you toward. You let go of the things that were supposed to die.

And they dropped to the earth, so that the rest of you (what really existed, down in the roots) could survive the winter.

The rest of the text is available in our 10th Anniversary anthology For Mortal Things Unsung. Purchase of this book helps to support Escape Artists.

PseudoPod 597: Fool’s Fire

Show Notes

“It was inspired by me thinking about how I used to get lost all the time, because I have terrible spatial sense, and now I never get lost, because my phone tells me where to go. But there have always been spirits that preyed on lost travelers, and surely they’d make accommodations to the modern age….”

Fool’s Fire

by Tim Pratt

The “going away together” part of the plan to save their marriage had gotten off to a bad start, and the probabilities of success continually ticked downward in Will’s mental calculations. Dori, who normally felt more comfortable in control, had gotten so tired of driving these tree-crowded country roads that she’d ceded the wheel to Will once night fell. Now she was navigating—“nag-ivating,” they used to jokingly call it, back when they’d joked—and displaying remarkably little patience with his requests for clarification. He tried again anyway. “But, look, I don’t even see a road coming up on the right, it’s all trees. Are you sure the map thingy on your phone is working?”

“It always has before. Looks like we’re only twenty minutes away from the cabin.” She had that tone she used more and more lately: ostensibly tolerant, but with a trivial shift in pitch, it could become nastily condescending. “No, wait, now it says twenty-two minutes. It’s adjusting to your slowness. I think I just saw a turtle on the side of the road pass us.”

Several spiteful retorts offered themselves for his use, but Will let them go, visualizing his reflexive anger away, just like his therapist had taught him: the bad feelings were water, flowing down from his head and out through his feet, disappearing into the sand, soaked up and gone. Dori had every right to snap at him, after what he’d done. The fact that she’d agreed to go on this long weekend, to try and remember what they’d once liked about each other, was already a concession worthy of beatification, if not sainthood. Being snippy on a long and confusing drive was totally understandable. Placate, don’t escalate, he thought. “Sorry, hon. It’s dark and I don’t want to drive into a tree or something. I’d rather annoy you by going slowly than annoy you by crashing into a pond.”

She made a noncommittal sound, but then said, “You heard about that woman who drove into Macon Lake last week because her GPS told her to turn there? Broad daylight, she just went into the water, like she thought there was an invisible bridge. That’s why I don’t trust this whole self-driving car idea. All these computer things work fine most of the time, but when they don’t….” (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 596: Mysterium Tremendum – Part 3

Mysterium Tremendum

by Laird Barron


During breakfast I relayed my encounter with the mystery animals, floating the idea that perhaps we should skip the hike. “Wow, a couple of bears outside? Why didn’t you get us up? I would’ve loved to see that.” Victor seemed truly disappointed while Dane and Glenn dismissed my concerns that we might run afoul of them during the day. Dane said, “We’ll just let Vicky run his yapper while we walk. Bears will hear that a mile away and beat it for the hills.”

“Gonna be hotter than the hobs of Hades,” Glenn said after shrugging on his backpack. “What the hell are hobs?” Dane said. “Hubs, farm boy,” Glenn said. “Don’t neglect your canteens, fellow campers. Put on some sunscreen. Bring extra socks.”

“How far we going? The Andes?”

“It’s a surprise. Let’s move out.”

PseudoPod 595: Mysterium Tremendum – Part 2

Show Notes

Part 2 of 3

Listen to Part 1 here:

More information on Blood Standard here:

Mysterium Tremendum

by Laird Barron


Sequim (pronounced Skwim by the locals) was lovely that summer. The town rested near the Dungeness River at the heart of a shallow basin of the Dungeness-Sequim Valley and not far from the bay. Fields of lavender and poppies and tulips dominated the countryside. There were farms and mills and old, dusty roads that wound between wooden fences and stands of oak and birch and poplar trees. Raymond Carver wrote a poem about Sequim. I’d never read that one.