PseudoPod 580: The Comet


The Comet

By W.E.B. DuBois


He stood a moment on the steps of the bank, watching the human river that swirled down Broadway. Few noticed him. Few ever noticed him save in a way that stung. He was outside the world—”nothing!” as he said bitterly. Bits of the words of the walkers came to him.

“The comet?”

“The comet——”

Everybody was talking of it. Even the president, as he entered, smiled patronizingly at him, and asked:

“Well, Jim, are you scared?”

“No,” said the messenger shortly.

“I thought we’d journeyed through the comet’s tail once,” broke in the junior clerk affably.

“Oh, that was Halley’s,” said the president; “this is a new comet, quite a stranger, they say—wonderful, wonderful! I saw it last night. Oh, by the way, Jim,” turning again to the messenger, “I want you to go down into the lower vaults today.”

The messenger followed the president silently. Of course, they wanted him to go down to the lower vaults. It was too dangerous for more valuable men. He smiled grimly and listened.

“Everything of value has been moved out since the water began to seep in,” said the president; “but we miss two volumes of old records. Suppose you nose around down there,—it isn’t very pleasant, I suppose.”

“Not very,” said the messenger, as he walked out.

(Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 579: All My Nightmares Are Named Heather

Show Notes

One night I woke up talking to myself, whispering the title of this story. That was the embryo, and now you’re reading the full creature. This is for those who know insomnia and what it is to never have a dreamless night.

Dedicated to Marcos. Sleep well, my friend.


All My Nightmares Are Named Heather

by Mário Coelho


She’s always this close when I wake up, less than a palm’s distance bridging our noses. Big eyes, darker than this penumbra. Pupils lightly flickering, like the TV static behind us. In these roadside motel rooms, everything rustles and murmurs. The carpet is pregnant with aborted cigarette butts and dead smells—sweat and barely washed bedding.

“You were dreaming,” she says.

“I was.” My voice, hoarse. Blind fingers reach out for the bedside table, grab the glass. A bit of water left overnight. Tastes like dust.

I was. Running along a creek. Bare feet cut. Biting my cheeks. Breath heaving. Dry tongue lapping out her name. Heather.

“Who’s Heather?” she asks.

“I told you.” These post-nightmare conversations of ours, dirty laundry beating against the washing machine. Cycling. Hushed, like the drowned out buzzing of the late-night driving outside. “She’s no one. Nothing. A bad dream I don’t know.”

“We only dream of things we know.” (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 578: Alarm Will Sound

Show Notes

As mentioned by Alasdair:

Art Bell-The Frantic Caller


The Peoria Plague


Uncanny County-The Boy Who Cried Martian


The Hugo Awards have these things they call nominations tallys but they are commonly referred to as The Long Lists. These include the top fifteen nominees, and show who just missed making the finals. For example, Escape Pod, PodCastle, and Mothership Zeta all made the long list last year for Semiprozine.

One of the great values of these long lists is that it allows readers even more excellent works to add to their “to read” pile. David Steffen has worked to make mining those lists significantly more convenient for you. For the third year in a row, David has published a volume of The Long List Anthology. In this most recent version are included works from names familiar to fans of Escape Artists. Lavie Tidhar, Ursula Vernon, Caroline M. Yoachim, and Ken Liu, among a host of amazing others.

Want to know what sort of story makes it to this anthology? Go listen to episode 607 of Escape Pod and catch Red in Tooth and Cog by Cat Rambo. Been procrastinating picking up Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw or Run Time by Escape Pod’s S.B. Divya? This anthology will assuage your guilt. You can find The Long List Anthology Volume 3 at all the usual purveyors of books. If you’re already the proud owner of this book, become a subscribing supporter of Diabolical Plots which is also edited by David Steffen. Subscribing there puts you in line early for not only the ebooks of the original stories published in Diabolical Plots, but also gets you in line early for The Long List Anthology Volume 4. Go support this fantastically creative human being.


Alarm Will Sound

by Christopher Shultz


And we’re back. This is hour two of Talk it Out. I’m your host, Gabrielle Esposito. If you’re just tuning in, in our first hour on the air we talked at length with Mary from Poughkeepsie, New York, who has been having suicidal thoughts. She was able to talk through a lot of what’s been bothering her, and I think overall we left things in a good place.

Now of course, if this is your first time listening to the show, I want to reiterate that I am not a licensed therapist, nor do I behave like one. What we provide on this show is an avenue for people just to talk. I listen, and the rest of you, the audience, listen too, and we share messages of positivity and encouragement from you listeners, which you can send via email or post to our Facebook page. I always recommend that anyone experiencing things like suicidal thoughts, like Mary, or any other psychological issue, to seek out counseling. Now, Mary definitely wanted help, and we gave her several numbers of therapists in her area to call. My producer Michelle just told me that Mary was okay with a callback live on the air next week, so for those of you concerned for her well-being, be sure to listen in. (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 577: From the Fertile Dark

Show Notes

“I started writing five years ago by participating in a weekly flash fiction challenge, and this story began as a 250 word sketch based on a photo of an empty swing.”


The Hugo Awards have these things they call nominations tallys but they are commonly referred to as The Long Lists. These include the top fifteen nominees, and show who just missed making the finals. For example, Escape Pod, PodCastle, and Mothership Zeta all made the long list last year for Semiprozine.

One of the great values of these long lists is that it allows readers even more excellent works to add to their “to read” pile. David Steffen has worked to make mining those lists significantly more convenient for you. For the third year in a row, David has published a volume of The Long List Anthology. In this most recent version are included works from names familiar to fans of Escape Artists. Lavie Tidhar, Ursula Vernon, Caroline M. Yoachim, and Ken Liu, among a host of amazing others.

Want to know what sort of story makes it to this anthology? Go listen to episode 607 of Escape Pod and catch Red in Tooth and Cog by Cat Rambo. Been procrastinating picking up Hammers on Bone by Cassandra Khaw or Run Time by Escape Pod’s S.B. Divya? This anthology will assuage your guilt. You can find The Long List Anthology Volume 3 at all the usual purveyors of books. If you’re already the proud owner of this book, become a subscribing supporter of Diabolical Plots which is also edited by David Steffen. Subscribing there puts you in line early for not only the ebooks of the original stories published in Diabolical Plots, but also gets you in line early for The Long List Anthology Volume 4. Go support this fantastically creative human being.


From the Fertile Dark

by Rebecca J. Allred


As tendrils of spilled ink mingle with the pool of blood expanding around her knees, Charlotte paints the shadow child on a wall the shade of wilted daffodils. Upstairs, her husband packs his things, slipping quietly from her life even as the last of their children slips from her womb. There will be no call for the midwife who, with the blessings of the town elders, declared her pregnancy an abomination from the start. Neither will she seek the aid of the doctors from away. There is nothing either the ancient woman or the practitioners responsible for its inception can do to stay the flow of despair and failure seeping from Charlotte’s sex, and she is already intimately familiar with the details of post-miscarriage self-care.

Hands trembling, she outlines the shape of a girl, four years old, with soft curls that fall to her shoulders—an imitation of invented memory. With each stroke, Charlotte replaces the foul taste of Black Haw extract and Chaste Tree berry with the flavors of vanilla ice cream and birthday cake; the acrid scent of antiseptic and bleached linens with the fragrance of baby powder and warm milk; and the repeated pricks of needles that promised a miracle at the price of her friends and family with the soft ticklish flutter of butterfly kisses. In her mind, the short, hurried footsteps traversing the hallway are not the clatter of a runaway spouse, but an echo of a toddler fleeing bath time. Charlotte chases the phantom memory into darkness.

(Continue Reading…)