“A World of Bones” is a Pseudopod original. “It seems to me that so many ghost stories are minor variations on the same theme. With ‘A World of Bones,’ I wanted to try something different.”
BRIAN TRENT‘s science-fiction and dark fantasy has appeared in Escape Pod, ANALOG, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Nature, COSMOS, Daily Science Fiction, Galaxy’s Edge, and much more. He blogs at www.briantrent.com. His new dark fantasy series, “Rahotep,” is available for Kindle.
This week’s reader – Setsu Uzume – spent their formative years in and out of dojos. They also trained in a monastery in rural China, studying Daoism and swordplay. They are a member of Codex and SFWA, and the assistant editor at PodCastle. While they have dabbled in many arts, only writing and martial arts seem to have stuck. Find Setsu on Twitter @KatanaPen.
Info on Anders Manga’s album (they do our theme music!) can be found here.
“She awoke in the blackness thinking she was still alive, fumbling for the lipstick she’d never found. Angela Chen jerked to her feet, confused at discovering herself in this place of shadows. She had been dreaming—if dreaming was the word now—of the wet corpses along Quinyun Road. Pawing at their pockets, feeling guilty as she did. Seeking only a little tube of lipstick on that rainy night as Shanghai fell.”
JULIA WATSON is a freelance writer and editor, and a graduate of UCR’s Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA program in Creative Writing, where she studied screenwriting and fiction. She lives near San Diego, CA and is currently at work on a TV pilot script and a YA fantasy novel. She also has an indie short film, FOREVER HOLLYWOOD (a 16-minute zombie movie she co-wrote and assistant produced). For more info and updates about the film, see its Facebook Page. And you can find her on Twitter at @wordnerditis.
Your reader – Kaitie Radel – is a music education student and aspiring voice actress, has been voice acting as a hobby for two years. In addition to this project, she has participated as both a VA and administrator in several fan projects such as The Homestuck Musical Project and Ava’s Melodies. She can be contacted at kaitlynradel at mail.usf.edu.
Bottom of the breath, I aim and squeeze. CRACK. Mr. Johnson, our next-door neighbor, falls. Goes still. His noisy mutt, the one you hated, used to welcome me at the end of his chain with rough fur and a wet tongue to wash my salt away. I’m glad that dog’s not here.
Another. A woman—hard to tell who. I fire. As her ruined face explodes into mist, I whisper my thanks to the fool who built a gazebo on this ugly spit of land overlooking Rustridge Canyon—named for the five generations’ worth of scrap refuse the town tossed into it. You’d say I was crazy, boxing myself in, but alone, it’s the only way to get this done.
“Monster” first appeared in Nameless Magazine, Issue 3, Spring 2014. “I got the idea while watching a documentary on the origins of fractals.”
MIKE ALLEN is the editor of the anthology series Clockwork Phoenix and the digital journal Mythic Delirium. His first novel, THE BLACK FIRE CONCERTO, a post-apocalyptic tale of music, magic and flesh-eating ghouls, was published last year by Haunted Stars Press, and he’s written a sequel, THE GHOULMAKER’S ARIA. His website is Descent Into Light and his publisher website is Mythic Delirium.com. His first collection of horror stories, UNSEAMING (with a gracious introduction by Laird Barron, Thomas Ligotti called it “seriously unnerving fun”) was released by Antimatter Press in 2014. (Unseaming contains all four stories that have appeared on Pseudopod – “The Button Bin,”, “The Blessed Days”, “Let There Be Darkness” & “Monster”) and also contains the 19k sequel to Button Bin, “The Quiltmaker.”
Your reader – Ben Kohanski is new to Pseudopod and Escape Artists!
“Since I grew tall enough to sit at a classroom desk, I’ve longed to be a monster. There is no reason for this that you or your friends in the department will ever be able to find, should you have an opportunity to delve into my history. My mother and father loved each other. They were neither too lenient nor too strict. The bullies in my school, the ones who introduced my fellow gifted students to cycles of humiliation and pain, paid no attention to me at all. My teachers never singled me out for praise or discipline.”
“Stillborn” originally appeared in the first BORDERLANDS anthology from 1990 edited by Thomas F. Monteleone
In the past thirty-plus years NINA KIRIKI HOFFMAN has sold around ten novels and more than three hundred short stories. Her work has been on final ballots for the World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, Endeavour, and other awards, and she has won a Nebula and a Stoker Award. She works on production for the MAGAZINE OF FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION, teaches a short stories writing class for her local community college, and picks up other odd jobs..
Your Reader, Brian Rollins is a voice actor and writer living in Highlands Ranch, Colorado where he lives with his wife and two kids. When not talking to himself in his sound booth, he’s at his day job as a web developer or on stage with a href=”http://magicmomentsinc.org/”>Magic Moments, a theatre company that works with people with special needs and creates a new musical every March. You can find out what he’s up to on his website, VOICES IN MY HEAD.
Hugh found it in the shallow grave his mother had dug behind the house. He kept it wrapped in cotton above a heat register in the attic, where the dry warmth would preserve it without rotting it. Once it had mummified, he locked his bedroom door and took it out to look at, nights after his mother had gone to bed. When lie shook it, its brain rattled inside its tiny skull like a pea in a gourd. “Little brother,” he would whisper, staring into its sunken leathery face. “Little brother.”
This story has not been published elsewhere. Paul says, “This is the middle of the story. I have only a vague idea what happens before or after.”
PAUL DesCOMBAZ lives in Saint Paul, MN. “Passing Grade” is his second sale..
Read by Kyle Akers, the frontman of Antennas Up, an electro-pop rock band from Kansas City. A budding voice talent, he continues to expand his reading roles across several podcasts. Antennas Up’s new album “The Awkward Phase” is available on Spotify, iTunes and from antennasupmusic.com.
“This wasn’t cutesy time. You don’t get personal with the bad things coming for you. You don’t make sweet talk to nightmares. Just make it through to the other end. That’s your only job. Or something along those lines.”
This story has never been formally published before, but an edited version was presented at the 2nd Open Reading for Beijing Writers, which is a small quarterly event open to anyone in the Beijing area who writes creatively, in any form. “When we are guilty of evil, do we deserve empathy? When we are victims of evil, are we capable of feeling empathy for those who have harmed us? Just how much punishment is too much? Where exactly do we draw the line between justice and cruelty?”
KAREN RUNGE is a South African who has been living in China since 2008. She was first formally published in the South African Science Fiction and Horror magazine, ‘Something Wicked’ in 2007, twice in the South African ezine ‘iBhuku’ and she is a huge fan of the horror genre in all the forms it takes. Another short story of hers, ‘When Layla Wakes’, recently appeared in issue 17 (May-June) of Horrorbound. When she has trouble writing, she usually tries to paint.
Wake. The day is clean, white and waiting. Don’t look back on the things that happened yesterday, don’t think about what will happen later. Think for a moment about the life you lived before. Say your prayer of repentance before you get out of bed. Allow yourself to feel your guilt, savour it inside of you. It is yours, now. It belongs to you.
This story was bought by the Horror World web site. “People can claim a religious faith but use it strictly as a cover for their own cruelty (that has nothing to do with their religion).”
MAURICE BROADDUS’ dark fiction has been published in numerous magazines, anthologies, and web sites, and he’s the author of the urban fantasy series, THE KNIGHTS OF BRETON COURT. He has been a teaching artist for over five years, teaching creative writing to elementary, middle, and high school students as well as adults. You can visit his site at MauriceBroaddus.com. His anthology, DARK FAITH: INVOCATIONS, has just been released from Apex Books. His KNIGHTS OF BRETON COURT trilogy has been released as an omnibus from Angry Robot books.
Read by Laurice White
“Serving was her religious duty, he told her, though she was too impure to read the Qur’an for herself. She knew his kind. For him religion was a tool he re-shaped into his own image to vent his cruelty and hate. He probably knew less of the Qu’ran than she did. His dagger sliced her Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl XLIII 2009 Champions shirt, still stiff with dried blood. Wearing only her Nike running shoes, one size too small, she lowered her head, not allowed to cover herself. He touched her in a familiar way, but she would not taste shame no matter how he tried to force feed it to her. She never hid her scars. They told the story of who she was, a map to her soul.”