Pseudopod 353: FLASH ON THE BORDERLANDS XVII: Keeping Up Appearances

Things are not always as they seem…

“Down By The Sea Near The Great Big Rock” by Joe R. Lansdale

This story first appeared in MASQUES (1984). JOE R. LANSDALE, who recently appeared here with PSEUDOPOD #344: The Pit, has written over thirty books, and numerous short stories. He has won a multitude of awards, including the Edgar for his novel THE BOTTOMS, and his novella BUBBA HO-TEP was made into the popular film starring Bruce Campbell. His current books are THE THICKET and EDGE OF DARK WATER, both from Mulholland Books. Joe blogs here and you can also follow him on Facebook.

Read by Corson Bremer, who lives in France and has dual nationality, but is American by birth. Corson works as a professional voice actor, technical communicator, and French-to-English translator. He is also a life-long curmudgeon. His professional credits in voice acting include audio guides, industrial video narration, e-learning, radio and tv commercials, and video games for Ubisoft (Red Steel 2 and Petz:Horses 2) and Spiders (Mars:War Logs). He’s a big fan of dramatic readings as well as radio drama and comedy. Check out HCBVoice.com for his voice services and demos. Corson is a board member of Voice Artists United, an organization for established and up-and-coming voice actors who are looking for support, community, education, and information. If you are a voice actor, find them at the link under their name or on Facebook and LinkedIn.

“Down by the sea near the great big rock, they made their camp and toasted marshmallows over a small, fine fire. The night was pleasantly chill and the sea spray cold. Laughing, talking, eating the gooey marshmallows, they had one swell time; just them, the sand, the sea and the sky, and the great big rock. “

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“The Demon Fields” by Keith McCleary

“The Demon Fields” has been performed in San Diego, and can be found at Gchatus, but Pseudopod is its first published appearance. “It was written in California while thinking of the summers I spent at my grandmother’s house in Vermont as a child. It’s also my girlfriend’s favorite piece of mine, so she should get some credit for its submission.” KEITH McCLEARY is an MFA student at UCSD, and received his BFA in Film at NYU. His work has or is due to appear in Heavy Metal magazine, Weave, Flash, Short Fast and Deadly, the San Diego Poetry Annual, and in comic books he has written and illustrated for Terminal Press. He has also served as a copyeditor for Kill Screen Magazine. Keith maintains a semi-regular presence at his flash fiction tumblr, Gchatus and his website, Weird Things I Have Done.

Read by Kevin Hayes – Kevin is a man of many facets. Hailing from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, he is overactively involved in the Science Fiction/Fantasy and Horror Community where he has done (and continues to do) programming for the usually annual SF conference Confluence – July 25th to 27th, 2014. He is a writer, a reader, an actor, a singer, a poet, and a cartoonist/illustrator – and that’s just in his spare time. He thrives with his artistic endeavors and lives with a hugely talented woman who shares his interests and is the passion of his life (they have collaborated on a novel that defies easy description for which they still try to find a publishing home). The home they have made for themselves also contains three of her five children, artists, writers and performers all. Kevin’s website can be found here and he also one of the driving members of a writers’ critique group called Write Or Die! (aka “WorD”) who meet at a local bookshop. He has a story appearing in “TV Gods” from Fortress Publishing, available May/June 2014, and he appears in a photo-graphic comic from Tia Tormen Productions called “Zombimboz” on sale now on Amazon!

“One day, one of the farmhands mustered the courage to ask him what the barn was all about. Ben squinted at the structure in the distance, picked a reed to chew on and crossed his burly arms across his barrel chest. ‘Well boys,’ he said. ‘That barn’s gonna hold my demons. Ev’ry man’s got ’em. Gotta get ‘em stored away if I ever want to share this farm with someone. Can’t have ‘em runnin’ loose, now can I?’ and he smiled.”

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“Pawn” by Jaki Idler

A shorter version of “Pawn” was a Semifinalist in the 2010 Escape Pod flash contest, where it was titled “Queen.” Jaki Idler lives outside Philadelphia where she writes, teaches and – despite any literary evidence to the contrary – raises two wonderful boys. Her day job is bringing other’s stories to life. You can follow her writing at Idle Truths. She just narrated her own story “Terminal” for Wicked Women Writers 2012 at HorrorAddicts.net. She’s also thrilled to read Crystal Connor’s “Spores” on podiobooks.com (pending).

Your reader, Julia Rios, is a writer, editor, podcaster, and narrator. She’s one of the three fiction editors for Strange Horizons and hosts the Outer Alliance Podcast (celebrating QUILTBAG speculative fiction). Check her out at here blog here.

“The pain of pushing the larva through the very flesh of my transgression should be punishment enough. But mating was the Queen’s privilege, not the bait’s, and she’d ensure I’d rather die than overstep again. She called the lair witness, lest my lesson bear repeating. I squatted and bore down, slave to more primeval powers. My lair sisters ringed the cavern, tall and smug, every stiff spine saying they knew better. I’d known better.”

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Help Gail Carriger get CRUDRAT up and running by checking out: CRUDRAT!

Interstitial music is “Fearless Bleeder” by Chimpy, from Music Alley.

Pseudopod 340: Neighbourhood Watch

by Greg Egan

“Neighbourhood Watch” originally appeared in an Australian magazine, Aphelion, in 1986, and was reprinted in Karl Edward Wagner’s THE YEAR’S BEST HORROR STORIES XVI in 1988. The story is available to read at here

Greg Egan is an Australian author writing mainly hard science fiction, but he published a few horror stories in the 1980s. His science fiction novel THE ETERNAL FLAME, the second volume of a trilogy set in a universe with different laws of physics than our own, was published by Night Shade Books in the US in September 2012, and by Gollancz in the UK in October 2012.

Your reader this week, writer and singer Ron Jon Newton, has written and published children¹s books; scripts and screenplays for animation and live action; musical lyrics and libretti. He is a student of strange phenomena/parapsychology, horror and children¹s literature. He has created a blogsite of haunting microfiction (melding narration/music/sfx) The Spectre Collector and a blogsite of recordings regarding an ancient cannibal blood cult, The Fruits of Madness.

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“Only at night, says the contract. After eleven, to be precise. Decent people are not out after eleven, and decent people should not have to witness what I do.

Andrews is seventeen, and bored. Andrew, I understand. This suburb is a hole, you have my deepest sympathies. What do they expect you to do around here? On a warm night like this a young man can grow restless. I know; your dreams, too, shaped me slightly (my principal creators did not expect that). You need adventure. So keep your eyes open, Andrew, there are opportunities everywhere.

The sign on the chemist’s window says no money, no drugs, but you are no fool. The back window’s frame is rotting, the nails are loose, it falls apart in your hands. Like cake. Must be your lucky night, tonight.

The cash drawer’s empty (oh shit!) and you can forget about that safe, but a big, glass candy jar of valium beats a handful of Swiss health bars, doesn’t it? There are kids dumb enough to pay for those, down at the primary school.

Only those who break the law, says the contract. A list of statutes is provided, to be precise. Parking offences, breaking the speed limit and cheating on income tax are not included; decent people are only human, after all. Breaking and entering is there, though, and stealing, well, that dates right back to the old stone tablets.

No loophole, Andrew. No argument.

Andrew has a flick knife, and a death’s head tattoo. He’s great in a fight, our Andrew. Knows some karate, once did a little boxing, he has no reason to be afraid. He walks around like he owns the night. Especially when there’s nobody around.

So what’s that on the wind? Sounds like someone breathing, someone close by. Very even, slow, steady, powerful. Where is the bastard? You can see in all directions, but there’s no one in sight. What, then? Do you think it’s in your head? That doesn’t seem likely.

Andrew stands still for a moment. He wants to figure this out for himself, but I can’t help giving him hints, so the lace of his left sand-shoe comes undone. He puts down the jar and crouches to retie it.

The ground, it seems, is breathing.”

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Pseudopod 320: The Man With The Broken Soul

by Matt Wall



“The Man With the Broken Soul” has not been published elsewhere.



MATT WALL lives in the southeastern united states, likes dogs and dislikes being surprised from behind. He is known to frequent the forgotten corners of used book stores and coffee shops. You may see him in the corner, clutching an obscure tome in one hand and black coffee in the other. He is a solitary creature, prone to flight, but if you smile at him, he will smile back and mean it. If you look away, and look back again and he is not there, do not take offense. You see, the dread elder things that live in the depths of his imagination look so much like people that he is never sure which is which. He is currently transcribing and editing an epistolary journal from a Dark Lord of the Sith to his young apprentice that he found on his recent vacation to Tatooine. The Republic will probably want to suppress this information, but the truth will win out!.



Elie Hirschman – is your reader this week. Elie is a self-described “former aspiring voice actor” who has worked.with Darker Projects and Dream Realm Productions and is also involved in Cool Fool Productions, turning bad audio scripts into intentionally bad comedy gold. Look them up on Facebook. He doodles constantly but doesn’t draw enough and lives in the Eastern Hemisphere against his will and better judgment.



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“There was one Professor George Manson, a teacher of anthropology, whose company my mother would least have advised. He was an espoused atheist, well-known for his existentialist and humanist rhetoric. My mother, a devout Catholic, would have called him the devil himself, but she would have been wrong. I have met the devil, and George was at best a close cousin.

It was George who unwittingly opened the dark door into the unknown which I naïvely tromped through. He did so in a sense of irony, but for all his cleverness, he could not close it.

We would talk long into the night over games of chess and cups of coffee. Our discussions meandered through talk of ancient races, forgotten kingdoms, and dead languages. No topic was left untouched by our ramblings, save those too mundane for our eccentric sensibilities.

‘You remember me telling you about that turn of the century doomsday cult?’ he said.

‘The Order of Ancient Mysteries, was it? They worshipped some Sumerian demon-god. What was his name again? Etikku… Udummu…’

‘Idimmu,’ he said. ‘The word does not, of itself, indicate any specific demon. It is a generic term for a certain classification of evil spirit, but I doubt the good ‘Doctor’ Evangeline knew that, nor did any of his followers. The cult was quite popular among the university crowd.’

‘Didn’t they commit human sacrifice, have blood orgies and all that?’

‘That is the usual accusation for such occult orders,’ he said, ‘But I doubt their activities included anything more subversive than smoking opium and practicing group sex. Anyway, it so happens that I have come upon something of theirs that may be of interest to you. I know you go in for this sort of thing.’

‘Am I really that tawdry?’

He smiled, stood and retrieved a book from his shelf. ‘Have a look at this,’ he said as he sat down.”

Pseudopod 294: Demon Rum

by Charles M. Saplak

“Demon Rum” was first published around 1995 in the fiction magazine Pirate Writings, and was written by request of the editor, using a painting of a mouthless man holding a glass of a distilled spirit as a prompt. It is included in Charles’ fiction collection QUIET YET SOMEHOW WRONG, along with 16 other horror stories. Click the link under the title to purchase from Amazon.

Charles M. Saplak was, for a time, a sailor in the Sixth Fleet, and traveled to Naples many times. He irregularly blogs about books and writing (click his byline link above for his blog) , and also “tweets” @CMSaplak.

Your reader this week is the Dominick Rabrun. Dominick is an artist living in the DC metropolitan area. You can see his work at his websites Sketch Banquet and Count Blackula net.

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“The scene on the other side of the glass resolved itself. Spangler’s suspicions were confirmed; he made out men bent over scattered tables; behind a bar at the far wall a man handled bottles.

Spangler felt his way along the stone wall (unsteadily, for his drinking had started hours ago) to a place where an unmarked door stood slightly ajar. From inside came the sounds of glass against wood, and the smells of tobacco smoke and stale sweat.

There were no signs or outside lights. As a bar this place struck Spangler as just what he needed. No frills, no B-girls, no blaring bands or flashing lights, just a place where a seaman could get one last drink before returning aboard.

It was just what Spangler was looking for on this cloudy Mediterranean night. It was just what he had been looking for on most nights of his life, these past ten years.”