Pseudopod 419: Nurse

by Thomas Kearnes.

“Nurse” first appeared in the now-defunct print magazine Wicked Hollow and was featured in the horror anthology TRUE DARK.

Thomas Kearnes is a 37-year-old author living in Houston, where he’s studying to become a licensed chemical dependency counselor. He has been published mainly in literary magazines, but writes horror on occasion. He has two collections of literary fiction available – PRETEND I’M NOT HERE from Musa Publishing and PROMISCUOUS from JMS Books.

Your reader – Christiana Ellis – appeared on Pseudopod recently reading Prince Of Flowers.

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“Helen has been in the bathroom for fifteen minutes. Her limit is ten. She knows this. I have the contract in my purse, next to her caddy of anti-depressants and stabilizers. I will show it to her once she returns and say, ‘What did we agree upon last month? I know you like this restaurant, but if I can’t trust you here, we can’t come anymore. Do you understand?’

I watch for other women to leave the restroom, to catch the clues not even an accomplished talent like Helen can hide. Older women, their faces pinched sour with disgust and the younger ones, especially in the summer, who bolt from the room with whispers and backward glances. Poor Helen. Like most unfortunates in her position, her hard, impenetrable blindness prevents her from knowing the effect she has on others. In some ways, I prefer our afternoons or mornings in public to the interminable days in which her paranoia keeps us trapped in her home. Aided by the indulgence of others, I can trace her movements and perform my duties more easily.

I check my watch. Twenty minutes. No doubt Helen would implore me in her singsong voice, pale blue eyes darting like goldfish, that time had escaped her. This is nonsense. Those afflicted with her condition, in addition to her myriad other difficulties, have few skills, but they do possess an inborn awareness of where they are in time. This knowledge they rarely apply to their own betterment, but it is a unique gift, a grain of sand’s awareness of where the tide will next fall.

Helen’s salad sits rearranged, uneaten. One of my coworkers once joked she couldn’t understand these women who regurgitated their meals yet never ate them. What were they vomiting? You can tell from this ignorance my coworker is a poor nurse. For unfortunates like Helen, eating, like most intimate activities, was something she only could do alone. Perhaps that is what was taking so long. I believe she was at the point in her illness where she took a perverse pride in the fact she could continue her behavior without anyone trying to stop her. After all, if one makes it her mission to destroy another, someone usually will step in, but if one decides to destroy herself, most will just step aside.”

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Pseudopod 328: The Suicide Witch

by Vylar Kaftan.

“The Suicide Witch” originally appeared in Daily Science Fiction, July 2012 and can be read here. She says “I wrote this story for the Codex Halloween contest. Codex is an online group of professional writers, and every year we trade “seeds” to spark new stories. My seed for this story was to write about a mortician who glues hair for special events. Clearly I have some funny ideas about how morticians live.”

VYLAR KAFTAN has published about 40 short stories in places such as Asimov’s, Lightspeed, and Clarkesworld. She’s the founder of a new literary-themed science fiction convention in the San Francisco Bay Area called FOGcon, which happens in March (click link under the name). She was nominated for a Nebula in 2011 and blogs at here. Her novella which will be out in Asimov’s in the February issue – it’s an alternate history in which the Incan Empire survives into the 19th century, and bargains with America for a smallpox vaccine.

Your reader this week – Rikki LaCoste – is the creator and co-host of the metaphysical and esoterically flavoured podcast, Kakophonos Internet Radio available for free from iTunes. At this time, Kakophonos is undergoing a further incarnation, so if you visit www.kakophonos.com or search iTunes and cannot find it, check back again in a couple of weeks. His odd, informative, and provocative show often collapses into the silly and the absurd whenever it begins to get a little too serious. Rikki is a writer of strange articles on occult subjects, is a musician and the creator of Panthea, the co-creator of a cartoon strip about Aleister Crowley, a Hermetic Philosopher, a Ceremonial Magician, a summoner of daemons, and teaches piano to happy little children. He currently lives just East of Toronto in a dubious little house that emits strange sounds and eldrich odours all hours of the night..

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“The suicide witch crushes glass in her leather gloves. Shards crumble like crackers over soup, filling her metal bucket. The witch’s fingers squeak together in the damp cellar air. Glitter escapes over the worktable’s edge, like white stars vanishing in the low torchlight. A peasant girl lies dead on a funeral board, her dress nailed to the wood in thirteen places.

The witch’s name is Yim, but none call her that. She lives under the noble house of Jiang in the province of Kung-lao, in a cellar with puddles like rice paddies. In the summer, fat flies buzz around her face until she swats them down. In the winter, her knees ache, and she coughs in the dampness as if she were an old hag. But Yim’s ragged hair is black without silver, and her face shows no lines. She can still see in the dark.”

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AS PER AL’S OUTRO NOTES – COME EXPERIENCE THE ZOMBLOGALYPSE!

ZOMBLOGALYPSE

ZOMBLOGALYPSE: THE MOVIE!

Pseudopod 306: Night Fishing

by Ray Cluley
‘Night Fishing’ first appeared in issue 3 of Shadows & Tall Trees, from Undertow Books, in 2012.



Ray Cluley is a writier from Hampshire in the UK. His work has featured in Ellen Datlow’s BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR and has also been translated into French. He has been published most recently in Black Static and Interzone from TTA Press, and in the anthology DARKER MINDS. His debut collection, PROBABLY MONSTERS, is now complete and looking for a publisher and he occasional writes about other projects at his similarly named blog, Probably Monsters, the link to which can be found at his by-line above.



Your reader this week, Eric Luke, is the screenwriter of the Joe Dante film EXPLORERS, comic books GHOST and WONDER WOMAN, and wrote and directed the NOT QUITE HUMAN films for Disney TV. Eric recently made his reading of his own “metahorror” novel, INTERFERENCE, available on I-Tunes for free (click link under name). You can find out more about it by checking out the homepage at www.Quillhammer.com .



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“’So they don’t mind that I’m just a lowly fisherman.’

‘Nah, Christ was a fisherman so they’re good with that. Your lack of religion, though…’ Bobby tut-tut-tutted.

Terrence had grinned, chewing his food. ‘Means you’re the only one going to Hell.’

Looking up at the bridge, buffeted by a chill wind and rocked in the chop of an irritable sea, Terrence hoped there was no such place, but he knew there was because he was in it most days. Those gathering at the prow only proved it. Laura, Matt, and now the shin-splintered Lee holding himself up by the gunwales; Terrence had pulled all of them from the water over the last year, pulled others out after, and none of them would leave him alone.

The three stood, as best as they could, looking out at the bridge they had jumped from.

The Golden Gate Bridge was once the world’s longest suspension bridge and was declared a modern wonder. With the exception of London’s Tower Bridge, it was the most-photographed bridge in the world. It was also the world’s most popular suicide spot. ‘From the golden gates to the pearly ones,’ Bobby had joked once, back before his own dive from its heights. ‘People come from all over to do it. A permanent solution to their temporary problems.’

Statistics varied. One jumped every two weeks or thirty jumped per year, and Terrence had read somewhere else that every month saw as many as five people drop to their deaths. The only thing that didn’t vary was the fact that from that height, three hundred feet or so, hitting the water was like hitting concrete. Some survived, but not many. And usually not for long.

Terrence only ever found the dead ones.”