PseudoPod 471: Flash On The Borderlands XXX: Flash Fiction Contest IV

These are the winners of the fourth round of the Pseudopod Flash Fiction Contest. All are Pseudopod Originals.

The next phase of the Flash Fiction Contest will be run by Escape Pod. Get your science fiction flash prepared.


“Cold Spots” by Lena Coakley

Lena says about this story, “To me, ‘Cold Spots’ is a very New England story. All the imagery is pinched from childhood memories of my grandmother’s summerhouse on the Connecticut shore. I see it as being about the disappointment that comes when we realize adulthood is not what we thought it would be when we were children, and the desire to get back to a self that may never have existed. This will be my first podcasted story so I’m beyond excited to hear it.”

Lena Coakley’s YA fantasy, Witchlanders, was called “one stunning teen debut” by Kirkus Reviews and won an SCBWI Crystal Kite award. Her forthcoming novel, Worlds of Ink and Shadow, is a portal fantasy about the young Brontë siblings and the imaginary countries they wrote about in childhood. It will be out January 5th from Amulet Books in the US and Harper Collins Canada in Canada. She lives in Toronto and is the current Vice President of CANSCAIP, the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers. Follow her on twitter @lenacoakley

Your reader – Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali lives in Houston, Texas with her husband of twenty-five years and three children. By day she works as a breast oncology nurse. At all other times she juggles, none too successfully, writing, reading, gaming and gardening. She has self-published one novel entitled An Unproductive Woman, has published a story at Escape Pod and has a story upcoming in the An Alphabet of Embers anthology. Khaalidah also reads slush at Escape Pod where she is on a mission to encourage more women to submit science fiction stories.

Of her alter ego, K from the planet Vega, it is rumored that she owns a time machine and knows the secret to long youth.

You can catch her posts at her website,, and you can follow her on twitter, @khaalidah.

Salt on my lips. Sun on the sea. My body slides through the water easily as if it had never aged. I have to swim farther and farther out to find you, but you are always there. In the cold spots.

On land the past is vague and distant, but something about the sudden gooseflesh, the delicious shock between my legs, brings you back, and I remember.


“Down” by Nathaniel Lee

Nathaniel Lee lives with his family in South Carolina. His work has appeared in dozens of venues online and off, including several times previously here on PseudoPod. He serves as the editor of the Drabblecast and assistant editor at Escape Pod.

Your reader – Graeme Dunlop is a tall man, mightily shouldered and deep of chest, with a massive corded neck and heavily muscled limbs. He is clad in silk and velvet, with the royal lions of Aquilonia worked in gold upon his rich jupon, and the crown of Aquilonia shines on his square-cut black mane; but the great sword at his side seems more natural to him than the regal accoutrements. His brow is low and broad, his eyes a volcanic blue that smolder as if with some inner fire. His dark, scarred, almost sinister face is that of a fighting-man, and his velvet garments cannot conceal the hard, dangerous lines of his limbs.

It started with the basement. The steps descended into darkness. The light was on, I could see the light, the light was glowing its little heart out, but about three steps from the bottom, it just stopped. The shadows thickened and there was a hint of concrete floor, then nothing. I didn’t want to go down there, even though I’d just heard the dryer buzz.

Linny went to investigate. She made it five steps down. Then she was gone, too. And the darkness was closer.


“The Mindfulness of Horror Practice” by Jon Padgett

Jon says about this story, “After my family and I returned home to a devastated New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, a friend of mine suggested I start meditating to help deal with acute depression and anxiety. I did so after finding a mindfulness of breathing practice which I favored, and it was transformative. Some time back, it struck me that the flip side of such a practice might be interesting to explore, and—thus— ‘The Mindfulness of Horror’ was born.”

Jon Padgett is a professional—though lapsed—lesser ventriloquist who lives in New Orleans with his spouse, their daughter, and two cats. Padgett has work out or forthcoming in Pseudopod, The Lovecraft eZine and Xnoybis. Padgett’s chapbook, The Infusorium, was released in spring of 2015, and his first short story collection, The Secret of Ventriloquism, is forthcoming from Dunhams Manor Press, June 2016.

Your reader – Jon Padgett is also a professional voice-over artist with a couple of books and many amateur productions under his belt. Later in 2016, Padgett–along with a team of editors and the artistic wizardry of Dave Felton–will be releasing the first issue of Vastarien, a source of critical study and creative response to the corpus of Thomas Ligotti and the authors who influenced and are influenced by him.

In this recording I’m going to be leading you through all four stages of the mindfulness of horror practice. Closing your eyes. Become aware of the air on your skin, the temperature in the room. Any noises or smells. Accept them all, good or bad and let go. Not clinging to anything or pushing anything away, but embracing every sensation.