Pseudopod 371: The Unfinished Room

by Joshua Rex.

This is the first publication of “The Unfinished Room” in any form. Joshua says “I got the idea for this story after noticing an area along a wall in my rented house where there had once been a door or window. Inevitably, I began to think about sealed doorways – both physical and mental – and what we might see if we were to reopen them.”

JOSHUA REX is a horror writer, painter, and musician who works as a luthier of stringed instruments in Boston, Massachusetts, where he also lives with his girlfriend – the poet Mary Robles – and three fat and generally bored cats. He is currently revising his first novel, INAMORTA; a supernatural story about a virtuoso and his haunted viola, as well as a collection of eleven horror short stories titled NEW MONSTERS. He will be looking to publish both later this year. Keep up with him at his website here.

Your reader this week – Bob Eccles – is a radio news reporter who enjoys writing short stories, mainly horror and sci-fi. He’s a member of the Horror Writers Association, the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers and The Fictioneers. He has a collection of short horror stories – TINY TERRORS – available in the Kindle Store at the link under title.

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“‘Do you hear that?’ Adele cut in.

‘What?’

‘That ticking sound.’

James glanced back at the bathroom. ‘Probably the tub dripping.’

‘No, it’s coming from in there…’ Adele stepped through the hole, zigzagged around the maze of unfinished walls and then stopped at one of the cross studs and picked something up. She stood there for a long time, staring down at the object in her palm, then slowly covered her mouth with her free hand.

‘Adele?’

No response. James stepped in, walked to one of the perimeter walls and looked through. The room seemed to float above the lawn without any visible support. Absently he brought the cigarette to his lips, took a pull but got no smoke. He looked at the lit end. The cherry now resembled fossilized bone. He tossed it through the wall and walked over to Adele, who was still staring at the thing in her hand. As he got closer he saw it was a pocket watch.

‘Where did you find that?’

‘Sitting on the wall.’

‘Looks antique. I bet it’s gold. Probably worth a nice chunk of change.’

Adele gave him a horrified look, then carefully set the watch back on the ledge. James went to grab it, but was distracted by something in his periphery. He turned and saw a beach ball, white with yellow stars, drift across the floor and settle gently into a far corner. Seeing it nearly brought him to his knees in terror. Without thinking, he took Adele’s hand and began leading her out of the room.

‘Jimmy -‘

‘Let’s get the fuck out of here.’

Adele hesitated, looking back at the watch, then relented. James nailed a sheet of particle board over the hole and they didn’t speak of the room again for a month.”

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Pseudopod 314: What Happens When You Wake Up In The Night

by Michael Marshall Smith.



First published as a chapbook from Nightjar Press, September 2009, this story won the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Story in 2011 and appeared in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR for that year. The fee for this story has been generously donated to Cats Protection League – please click the link and consider making some cat’s life a little easier.



MICHAEL MARSHALL SMITH is a novelist and screenwriter. Under this name he has published over seventy short stories, and three novels — ONLY FORWARD, SPARES and ONE OF US — winning the Philip K. Dick, International Horror Guild, and August Derleth awards, along with the Prix Bob Morane in France. He has been awarded the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction four times, more than any other author. Writing as MICHAEL MARSHALL, he has published six internationally-bestselling thrillers including THE STRAW MEN, THE INTRUDERS and KILLER MOVE. His next novel, THE FORGOTTEN, will be published in 2013. He is currently involved in screenwriting projects including a television pilot and an animated movie for children. He lives in Santa Cruz with his wife and son. Check out his website at the link under his byline above.



Your reader this week is Donna Scott – Donna Scott is a short fiction writer, editor, performance poet, storyteller and comedian as well as Awards Administrator for the British Science Fiction Association. She has recently worked with Northampton Museum and Art Gallery to produce an exhibition on the 1612 Northampton Witch Trials and a number of spin-off projects in the region. To find out about her latest projects and appearances check out her website here



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“The first thing I was unhappy about was the dark. I do not like the dark very very much. It is not the worst thing in the world but it is also not the best thing in the world, either. When I was very smaller I used to wake up sometimes in the middle of the night and be scared when I woke up, because it was so dark. I would go to bed with my light on, the one light that turns round and round, on the drawers by the side of my bed. It has animals on it and it turns around and it makes shapes and patterns on the ceiling and it is pretty and my mummy’s friend Jeanette gave it to me. It is not very too bright but it is bright enough and you can see what is what. But then it started that when I woke up in the middle of the night, the light would not be on any more and it would be completely dark instead and it would make me sad. I didn’t understand this but one night when I’d woken up and cried a lot my mummy told me that she came in every night and turned off the light every night after I was asleep, so it didn’t wake me up. But I said that wasn’t any good, because if I did wake up in the night and the light wasn’t on, then I might be scared, and cry. She said it seemed that I was waking every night, and the she and daddy had worked out that it might be the light that kept me awake, and after a while I was awake I’d get up and go into their room and see what was up with them, which meant she got no sleep any night ever and it was driving her completely nuts.

So we made a deal, where and the deal said I could have the light on all night but I promised that I would not go into their room in the night unless it was really important, and it is a good deal and so I’m allowed to have my light on again now, which is why the first thing I noticed when I woke up was that is it was dark.

Mummy had broken the deal.

I was cross about this but I was also very sleepy and so wasn’t sure if I was going to shout about it or not.

Then I noticed it was cold.

Before I go to bed, mummy puts a heater on while I am having my bath, and also I have two blankets on top of my duvet, and so I am a warm little bunny and it is fine. Sometimes if I wake in the middle of the night it feels a bit cold but if I snuggle down again it’s okay.

But this felt really cold.

My light was not on and I was cold.”