Pseudopod 364: The Yellow Sign

by Robert W. Chambers.

“The Yellow Sign” was first published in the collection THE KING IN YELLOW in 1895.

ROBERT W. CHAMBERS (1865 – 1933) was an American artist and writer. He studied art in Paris and sold illustrations to “Life”, “Truth”, and “Vogue” magazine. His first novel, IN THE QUARTER (1887) was influenced by the Decadent writers and in 1895 he published THE KING IN YELLOW, a collection of Art Nouveau short stories. This included several famous weird short stories which are connected by the theme of a fictitious drama, “The King in Yellow”, which drives those who read it insane. E. F. Bleiler described THE KING IN YELLOW as one of the most important works of American supernatural fiction and it was also strongly admired by H.P. Lovecraft and his circle. A later story, “The Maker of Moons” from 1896, features a U.S. Government department dedicated to battling the titular supernatural menace and presages much of the action and Yellow Peril threats of the later pulp magazines. Chambers eventually moved into a successful – and more remunerative – career writing romance fiction.

Your reader this week – B.J. Harrison – is the redoubtable narrator of THE CLASSIC TALES podcast. Check out his superior readings here and here and like THE CLASSIC TALES on Facebook here, while you’re at it.


“When I first saw the watchman his back was toward me. I looked at him indifferently until he went into the church. I paid no more attention to him than I had to any other man who lounged through Washington Square that morning, and when I shut my window and turned back into my studio I had forgotten him. Late in the afternoon, the day being warm, I raised the window again and leaned out to get a sniff of air. A man was standing in the courtyard of the church, and I noticed him again with as little interest as I had that morning. I looked across the square to where the fountain was playing and then, with my mind filled with vague impressions of trees, asphalt drives, and the moving groups of nursemaids and holiday-makers, I started to walk back to my easel. As I turned, my listless glance included the man below in the churchyard. His face was toward me now, and with a perfectly involuntary movement I bent to see it. At the same moment he raised his head and looked at me. Instantly I thought of a coffin-worm. Whatever it was about the man that repelled me I did not know, but the impression of a plump white grave-worm was so intense and nauseating that I must have shown it in my expression, for he turned his puffy face away with a movement which made me think of a disturbed grub in a chestnut.”


Pseudopod 352: Enough With The Crazy

by Emile Dayne

“Enough With The Crazy” was originally published in TALES OF THE ZOMBIE WARS, July 5th 2012.

EMILE DAYNE started writing in 2010, started getting published with indie presses in 2011. His two pen-names from that period are Harry Kane and Edward Keller. The books are SOUND OF THE DISTANT OCEANS, BRAIN STORM, SHUDDER, PLANETFALL ON ALBAID, and AUTUMN MAGIC PLAYGROUND SKY. His short fiction has been published by the likes of Phantasmacore, Gothic City Press and Encounters Magazine.

Your reader this week – Joe Scalora – is a marketing manager at Del Rey books and aspiring voice over actor. Follow him on twitter –@JoeScalora – and also check out the Clarke Ashton Smith podcast “The Double Shadow”, he’ll be reading on an upcoming episode there.


“Everything was fine until he saw the fire hydrant across the café. Something about it caught his attention, as if it was some important object from his past, perhaps even from childhood.

Which was absurd, since he had grown up two thousand miles away in a small town with very few fire hydrants, of which not one had played any important part in his life. He hadn’t even danced in its spurting water during the hottest summer days.

Yet the very sight of this one made his heart lose its rhythm. His legs shook as he approached the hydrant. In one corner of his mind a watchful voice was warning him to not act too weirdly out on the street in full view of everyone and he did try his best. But then the world around him turned into blurry fluid that wobbled thunderously and terribly.

All outlines lost their sharpness, pedestrians became contorted like ghosts. The fire hydrant was real, stable, and firm. But although a center of solidity in a world which had suddenly turned to oppressive jelly, it did not inspire safety in any way. Rather, its stability seemed as evidence that it was the evil source of everything that was wrong now, and which had gone wrong with Sam in the past months.

Two distorted figures with male voices stopped for a second by the hydrant. One of them raised an object to his head and appeared to bite into it. The smell of warm hotdog reached Sam’s nose and then a few drops of ketchup fell on the pavement.

Sam lost his balance and swooned, but even as the ground tilted up, images flashed through his head, very similar to the ones from his nightmares, maybe even the same ones, but this time not jumbled and obscure, but clear and in sequence.

People – men and women and children – faces twisted into grimaces, attacking an elderly couple from all sides, bringing them down, tearing at their clothes and at their flesh. By this exact hydrant. Blood falling where the ketchup was now.

Him, shouting for everyone to stop, then running into the melee, pushing people away, trying to get to the victims and save then, and then suddenly already holding an arm and biting at the puffy hand with whines of impatience…unbearable urgency and a sense of utmost wrongness rolled into a shattering–

Blackness. Far off sounds.”