Pseudopod 398: Prince Of Flowers

by Elizabeth Hand.

“Prince of Flowers” was Hand’s first published story. It appeared in Twilight Zone Magazine in 1988, was subsequently reprinted in The Year’s Best Horror and has appeared in various anthologies since then, as well as in her story collection LAST SUMMER AT MARS HILL. “Much of the story is drawn from my own experiences working at the Smithsonian Institution in the 1970s-1980s. I was at the National Air & Space Museum, not the National History Museum, but spent as much time in the latter as I could. In those days, a Smithsonian ID badge allowed you to access all areas — not any more, alas.”

ELIZABETH HAND is the author of numerous award-winning novels and collections of short fiction, as well as a longtime reviewer and critic whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Salon, and many other publications.

Your reader – Christiana Ellis – is an award-winning writer and podcaster, currently living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her podcast novel, Nina Kimberly the Merciless was both an inaugural nominee for the 2006 Parsec Award for Best Speculative Fiction: Long Form, as well as a finalist for a 2006 Podcast Peer Award. Nina Kimberly the Merciless is available in print from Dragon Moon Press. Christiana is also the writer, producer and star of Space Casey seasons 1 and 2, an audio-drama miniseries which won the Gold Mark Time Award for Best Science Fiction Audio Production by the American Society for Science Fiction Audio and the 2008 Parsec Award for Best Science Fiction Audio Drama. In between major projects, Christiana is also the creator and talent of many other podcast productions including Talking About Survivor, Hey, Want to Watch a Movie? and Christiana’s Shallow Thoughts. Space Casey Season 2, available at spacecasey.com will have just completed by the time this posts.

As mentioned by Al, please consider throwing a few bucks to the Bobby Lombardi Fundraiser.

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“As she opened the box, dried flowers, seeds, and wood shavings cascaded into her lap. She inhaled, closing her eyes, and imagined blue water and firelight, sweet-smelling seeds exploding in the embers. She sneezed and opened her eyes to a cloud of dust wafting from the crate like smoke. Very carefully she worked her fingers into the fragrant excelsior, kneading the petals gently until she grasped something brittle and solid. She drew this out in a flurry of dead flowers.

It was a puppet: not a toy, but a gorgeously costumed figure, spindly arms clattering with glass and bone circlets, batik robes heavy with embroidery and beadwork. Long whittled pegs formed its torso and arms and the rods that swiveled it back and forth, so that its robes rippled tremulously, like a swallowtail’s wings. Held at arm’s length it gazed scornfully down at Helen, its face glinting with gilt paint. Sinuous vines twisted around each jointed arm. Flowers glowed within the rich threads of its robe, orchids blossoming in the folds of indigo cloth.

Loveliest of all was its face, the curve of cheeks and chin so gracefully arched it might have been cast in gold rather than coaxed from wood. Helen brushed it with a finger: the glossy white paint gleamed as though still wet. She touched the carmine bow that formed its mouth, traced the jet-black lashes stippled across its brow, like a regiment of ants. The smooth wood felt warm to her touch as she stroked it with her fingertips. A courtesan might have perfected its sphinx’s smile; but in the tide of petals Helen discovered a slip of paper covered with spidery characters. Beneath the straggling script another hand had shaped clumsy block letters spelling out the name PRINCE OF FLOWERS.

Once, perhaps, an imperial concubine had entertained herself with its fey posturing, and so passed the wet silences of a long green season. For the rest of the afternoon it was Helen’s toy. She posed it and sent its robes dancing in the twilit room, the frail arms and tiny wrists twitching in a marionette’s waltz.”

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Pseudopod 386: The Dogs Of Ubud

by Conda V. Douglas.

“The Dogs Of Ubud” Originally published in the anthology DREAMSPELL NIGHTMARES in 2010. This story comes from Conda’s travels in Bali, where she recognized how wonderfully and spiritually the Balinese treat their families, children and world..

CONDA V. DOUGLAS grew up in the ski resort of Sun Valley, Idaho, in her folk’s funky art gallery. She’s traveled the world and her own tiny office, writing all the while. Her first and always great love is writing horror short stories. The second in Conda’s Mall Fairies trilogy, THE MALL FAIRIES: WAR will be released spring/summer 2014. For more about Conda, visit Conda’s Creative Center, for hints, tips and secrets for creative people.

Your reader – David Cummings – is the host and producer of The NoSleep Podcast, an award-winning anthology series of original horror stories. He hails from Toronto, Canada. With a background as a professional musician, he has expanded into the realm of voice actor and narrator. He has been heard on various commercial projects and speculative fiction podcasts. One of his goals is to continue supporting the many great audio fiction podcasts that dot the online landscape.

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“Ubud, artists’ capital of Bali, teemed with tourists. Down the dirt path to the dance arena a tourist herd thundered, headed for tonight’s performance. Alongside the road, Balinese merchants sat, their wares arrayed on blankets.

Peter dodged through the crowd, through a cacophony of languages. If the Balinese could tolerate, even thrive, on this invasion, so could he. Now he hid, one among many. What he did, how he lived, was always hidden.

Not so the Balinese. Lulled by their jungle paradise, they never lost their innocence. Even the main living room in their family compounds possessed no walls, open-sided. Vulnerable.

When Peter saw the knife, the star-shaped wound etched upon his belly burned, the blood beneath his skin pulsing. The knife, a wavy-bladed kris, lay on a piece of tattered batik cloth, a store of a rag. Among the clutter of tattered straw fans and plastic “ivory,” the kris glittered, a diamond in a pot metal setting.”

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