Pseudopod 365: Whispers In The Dark

by Andrew Marinus.

“Whispers In The Dark” is unpublished, but won a writing contest on the Cracked/PWOT forums and can be read here.

ANDREW MARINUS is a freelance contributor to Cracked.com, has been published at Black Petals, and has had a story published in an anthology by The Horror Zine.

Your reader this week – Graeme Dunlop – is Pseudopod’s Audio Producer and one of the brilliant people behind CAST OF WONDERS.

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“So the guy we found under the stairs starts screaming and when Roger shakes him it doesn’t help, and when Roger slaps him it doesn’t help, and when Roger beats the shit out of him he *still* doesn’t quiet down, so we leave him there on the floor. Maybe he’s Seen, maybe he hasn’t, it comes down to the same — don’t wanna be truckin’ with someone who can’t keep their mind from spilling out of their mouth.

It’s getting to be around three-thirty, near enough to twilight that this’ll be our last street-cross for the night. It’s been an unproductive five hours; the part of the city we’re in’s got mostly just office buildings and parking garages — not much food to be found. Still, Allen found a few bags of chips left behind by a raided vending machine, so that’s something. As we get ready to head outside, we split up the chips equally between us, so that if only one of us makes it, their fair share will be with them, and not with a gibbering lunatic or a fleshless corpse. Just before Roger opens the door, Allen puts on his facemask. I leave my eyes uncovered, figuring the darkness’ll be enough. Maybe this makes me less crazy than him.

Maybe.

The blackness outside is mercifully total; clouds have smothered whatever light the moon might be able to provide. We head out, turn East, and get into formation: me on the left; Allen on the right; Roger in the middle; about a metre between each of us. We start walking. Between each step we freeze for about five seconds, listening. It rarely helps, listening, but each of us can remember at least one time when it’s saved someone, so we keep doing it. Mostly what we hear is the low night breeze and, every few minutes or so, screams or laughter off in the distance. When it’s laughter, it goes on for quite awhile before stopping.

When it’s screams, it cuts off pretty quick.

It’s been less than a month since… *since*, leave it at that… and I’ve already started to forget what it looked like outside during the day. Right now, the three of us are walking across a four-lane street between two office buildings, I guess, but it’s hard to imagine the open streets and the twenty-storey towers like you used to be able to *see* them. Nowadays, “the streets” are just the blackness around you, the clapping of your shoes on the road, and the smell of cold pavement.

Twenty steps across the void between buildings, I actually *hear* something, a kind of low rasp, like a dying asthmatic, and I whisper:

‘Stop.'”

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Pseudopod 362: Go, Go, Go, Said The Bird

by Sonya Dorman.
Copyright (c) 1967, 1995 by the Literary Estate of Sonya Dorman; first appeared in DANGEROUS VISIONS edited by Harlan Ellison; used by permission of the Estate and the Virginia Kidd Agency, Inc.

“Go, Go, Go, Said The Bird” was originally published in 1967 in the Harlan Ellison edited, groundbreaking anthology DANGEROUS VISIONS. She said of this story “Perhaps I wrote (it) because sometimes that’s the way the world seems, or perhaps I hope that when my daughter’s generation grows up it won’t need or want to run for its life, or perhaps because, in the seventeenth century, Jeremy Taylor wrote: ‘…when it is enquired whether such a person be a good man or no, the meaning is not what does he believe, or what does he hope, but what he loves.’ Amen..”

SONYA DORMAN (1924- 2005) was the working name of Sonya Dorman Hess. She is perhaps best known outside of the world of science fiction as a poet, with some of her collections in this form being STRETCHING FENCE and A PAPER RAINCOAT. One of her poems, however, “Corruption of Metals”, received honors within science fiction circles by winning the Rhysling Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Her best-known work of science fiction is the story “When I Was Miss Dow”, which has been reprinted numerous times and received a James Tiptree, Jr. retrospective award nomination. She also wrote four books in the YA series ROXY RIMIDON OF THE PLANET PATROL. She said of herself “I have been a cook, receptionist, riding instructor, flamenco dancer and married. I like speculative fiction because I believe art and science should be lovers, not enemies or adversaries.”.

Your reader this week – Heather Welliver – recently read “Dancing” for Pseudopod, one section of Pseudopod 293: Flash On The Borderlands XII – (Black) Arts & (Dead) Letters. Her website can be found here and those needing her professionally for voice-work may examine her profile here.

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“Think of it, she conversed in great gasps with herself, leaping over a crevasse where a southbound lane had split off from the main runway. Think of it, she insisted, scarcely having breath left but unable to control her mind, which was galloping faster than her weary legs.

I’m only thirty, I’m unique, there’s no one in this world, this universe, who is me, with my memories:”

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Pseudopod 351: The Blues

by Cameron Suey

“The Blues” appears for the first time here. “The Blues” was my attempt at confronting and ruminating on the limits of our adaptability, something not often addressed in apocalyptic literature.”

CAMERON SUEY is a California native living in San Francisco with his wife (who can occasionally be convinced to edit his work, as long as it’s not too gross) and infant daughter. He works as a writer and producer in the games industry, and along with several other talented writers, won the WGA Award for Videogame Writing in 2009 for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. He can be found on the web at The Josef K Stories, where he writes about writing, horror, and other influences (and maintains a repository of early drafts and finished pieces), and on twitter as @josefkstories where he promises not to bore you with tales of what he had for breakfast. He is currently working on the first draft of a novel about derelict haunted spaceships, music, and madness, as well a half dozen short stories at any given time.

Your reader this week – Gabriel Diani – wrote and starred in the award-winning supernatural comedy feature film THE SELLING and created THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN [Robotic Edition]. He is currently prepping a Kickstarter campaign for his second feature film called DIANI & DEVINE MEET THE APOCALYPSE. You can follow the movie on twitter @DD_Apocalypse or at DIANI & DEVINE MEET THE APOCALYPSE.

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“The brick edifices lean over me, red canyons of abandoned history. Despite the lingering warmth of the late valley summer, dried leaves are already piling in the gutters. Without a human hand to clean them I imagine them heaping up, year after year, burying the small town in an endless leaf pile, patiently waiting in vain for a child to leap into them.

Spun off on this chain of images and ideas, I drift away from Alex and lean against the boarded windows of a storefront. The leaves are swirling now with the blues in my mind, the cool colors crackling through the warm autumn refuse. Somewhere in the middle of the conceptual whirlwind, I get sick, the bile rising from the back of my throat bringing an unpleasant fungal taste. I spit as my mouth floods with thin and bitter saliva.

‘Tell me if I can help, man.’

Alex is across the street, leaning against a bike rack, watching me. I try to shake my head, to raise an arm, but I am trapped inside the whirlwind, not sure of its boundaries and borders, not sure if I am enjoying this anymore. Leif and King’s distant, muffled voices blend into the spinning vortex.

‘Nope,’ I manage with great effort. Alex nods and looks away.”

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Slusher music is “Green Olives” by Barbacoa from Music Alley

Pseudopod 298: The Long Road To The Sea

by James L. Sutter

“The Long Road To The Sea” first appeared in CATASTROPHIA, edited by Allen Ashley, published by PS Publishing in September 2010.

James L. Sutter‘s short fiction has appeared in such venues as Escape Pod (“Overclocking”) and Podcastle (“Ties of Silver”) – woo, triple crown! – Starship Sofa, Apex Magazine, and the #1 Amazon bestseller MACHINE OF DEATH. His first novel, DEATH’S HERETIC (it’s a dimension-hopping Middle Eastern fantasy story about an atheist forced to work as a problem-solver for the goddess of death) was ranked #3 on Barnes & Noble’s Best Fantasy Releases of 2011, and is currently a finalist for the Compton Crook Award for Best First Novel. His anthology BEFORE THEY WERE GIANTS pairs the first published short stories of speculative fiction greats with new advice and instructional critiques by the authors themselves. He’s also a co-creator of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Fiction Editor for Paizo Publishing, and has published dozens of roleplaying game products. He lives in Seattle with 4 roommates and a fully functional death ray. Visit his website by clicking the link under his byline credit above! Quick! Now!

Your reader this week is the Bill Ruhsam, who you may know from Podcastle #42: De La Tierra.

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“After enough time had passed for everyone to get unloaded and settled, Mischa gave the order, and the real work began. Throwing open the back doors of the largest truck, he quickly prepped the surgery, then let Colville’s mayor know he was ready.

The first corpse was a young man, maybe twenty or twenty-one, who’d fallen beneath a thresher and bled out before the other field hands could even send for help. One arm was a mangled mess from the crushed collarbone down, but the convoy had been expected and the family had the sense to keep him cold in the cellar.

Mischa accepted the corpse with respect and ceremony, then firmly ushered the hard-faced locals back outside and shut the truck doors, limiting the people in his workshop to himself, his protégé Andrew, and Jimmy to help with the lifting.

Beneath the harsh battery-powered lights, they began. Able to tell at a glance that nothing in the tangle of bone and fiber was worth saving, Mischa and Andrew broke out scalpels and began the process of removing the tattered arm, tying off what veins they could and cauterizing the rest with a hot iron. Taking one handle each, they used a set of bolt cutters to shear through the protruding bone with a sound like a tree being limbed.”