Pseudopod 475: The Toad Witch

by Jessica Amanda Salmonson.

The Toad Witch originally appeared in Tales of Witchcraft in 1991.

Jessica Amanda Salmonson is a recipient of the World Fantasy Award, ReaderCon Certificate, and Lambda Award, author of THE DISFAVORED HERO and other novels, THE DEATH SONNETS and other poetry collections, and THE DEEP MUSEUM and other short story collections. Forthcoming – a giant omnibus of her works will appear from the extravagantly cool Centipede Press consisting of her Dell Books novel ANTHONY SHRIEK, a number of poems, and her Ace Books collection A SILVER THREAD OF MADNESS plus enough new and uncollected material to equal a third book in one huge volume. Her next poetry collection PETS GIVEN IN EVIDENCE OF OLD ENGLISH WITCHCRAFT AND OTHER BEWITCHED BEINGS will be issued this coming year by The Sidecar Preservation Society to coincide with Diversicon where she will be Guest of Honor. She’s presently working on a small collection THE BLIND AVIATRIX: Dream Life and Real Life, too odd for commercial publishers but she can’t help it she has to write it.

Your narrator – Sandra Espinoza is a voice actress and video/sound editor in New York with a background in publicity, research and writing. She’s provided voice over for games like Apotheon, Primordia, Combat Core, Norse Noir and Supreme League of Patriots. Sandra’s upcoming roles include Freida in Kreative Spill’s newest point-and-click adventure Norse Noir; and Ember in Combat Core. To find out more visit dustyoldroses.com or like DustyOldRoses on Facebook.

Your guest host – Kat Rocha is Associate Editor at PseudoPod, Guest Editor for the Artemis Rising Event, and Editor-in-Chief of 01Publishing. They released Whispers from the Abyss 2 in ebook in 2015 and will release it in trade paperback in early 2016. She is a longtime fan of horror and good horror stories and has made the promotion and publishing of them her career.

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I began life in 1950. Until then, everything was darkness. Afterward was suffering and beauty. How could 1 not become a masochist? By the age of four I had learned to mistrust everyone, a good philosophy. If one expects something terrible to develop out of even pleasant events, one may also expect consolations at moments of travail; and even I must delude myself from time to time, succumbing to the disease of sentiment.

People who are essentially cheerful annoy me. When they are finally bent and deaf, they are suddenly surprised. They find out their lives were pointless falsehoods; that it’s all nearly over, and for what? When in the end they are completely disillusioned they seek forgiveness from everyone, for they had always been oblivious to the obvious things, to the suffering around them. They are sorry for having insisted nothing was ever all that bad. Destined as they are to so much disappointment, they merit our sadness more than our disdain.

As for those of us daily anguished, we need not be pitied. The world constantly reinforces our perspective. We may nod our heads like true sages. We are impervious to disillusion, knowing as we do that worse is yet to come.

Pseudopod 380: Abigail

by Hunter Gray.

“Abigail” has been performed at various readings in northern New Jersey and New York but is published now here.

Hunter Gray is a poet/short-storyist living in northern New Jersey where she teaches literature and creative writing. She is a graduate of Seton Hall University with a degree in English Literature and her publication credits include Chavez magazine. She is currently working on a collection of short stories and has recently completed her first book of poems, AMERICAN GROTESQUE.

Your reader – Alethea Kontis – is the co-author of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s DARK-HUNTER COMPANION, and penned the ALPHAOOPS series of picture books. Her short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in a myriad of anthologies and magazines. She has done multiple collaborations with Eisner winning artist J.K. Lee, including THE WONDERLAND ALPHABET and DIARY OF A MAD SCIENTIST GARDEN GNOME. Her YA fairy tale novel, ENCHANTED, won the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award in 2012, was nominated for the Audie Award in 2013, and was selected for World Book Night in 2014. Both ENCHANTED and its sequel, HERO, were nominated for the Andre Norton Award. Born in Burlington, Vermont, Alethea makes the best baklava you’ve ever tasted and sleeps with a teddy bear named Charlie. You can find Princess Alethea online at aletheakontis.com. If you’re a fan of Grimm and Andersen, be sure to watch Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants – there is a new episode on Alethea’s YouTube channel every Monday.

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“The sun was dipping now, and I feared for myself. My hands grew cold, like ice. And then, I felt the popcorn pop in my belly. The jelly-baby was kicking. My jelly-baby was awake and real and moving. And then I feared for her too.

The pin-prickle of fear brushed itself against the small of my back even more when I saw what lay in the street ahead of me. A perfect mountain of frosting…a cake delicately decorated in pink icing. Maraschino cherries floated around the edges and crystal sugar sprinkles peppered the top. It was beautiful, but terrifying. Why was this in the middle of the road? Who left such a thing? Instinctually, I looked around me. And behind me. For the first time, in a long time, I felt like the prey, not the predator.

But there was no one, nothing. No cars or birds or tiny children or good Samaritans trying to feed some hungry knocked-up college kid.

And then, I saw it. The most beautiful house I had ever seen.”

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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 304: The Last Reel

by Lynda E. Rucker

“The Last Reel” originally appeared in Supernatural Tales #10, in 2006 and was reprinted in THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR #18 (2007).

Lynda E. Rucker’s fiction has appeared in such places as Black Static, THE MAMMOTH BOOK OF BEST NEW HORROR, and THE YEAR’S BEST DARK FANTASY AND HORROR, among others, and is forthcoming in Postscripts. When not writing, she works as a composition instructor, writing tutor, and copy editor. She was born and raised in the South, has lived on three continents and both coasts, and currently calls Athens, Georgia home. Check out her blog at the link under her byline!

Your reader this week, Mark E. Phair, is an engineer and a storyteller. Find him online at MarkEPhair.com, Logibate.com, and @MarkEPhair on Twitter.

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“Working in a kitchen had left her inured to minor cuts and burns. ‘Let’s see what’s in the box.’

Let’s not, he wanted to say, but what came out when he followed her back to the bed was, ‘Three movies featuring a head-in-a-box. Name them.’

‘God,’ she said, ‘do you have to be so morbid? _Seven_.’ She lifted the lid.

‘That’s one,’ he said, so he wouldn’t shout something stupid and hysterical like _Don’t look inside_!

‘It’s filled with photographs,’ she said. ‘_Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia_.’

‘That’s head-in-a-bag, not head-in-a-box,’ he said desperately.

‘Oh, for God’s sake. Picky, aren’t we?’ Her voice changed. ‘That’s weird.’

‘What?’

‘I don’t know how she got hold of these. It’s all pictures of me.’ “