Pseudopod Christmas 2014 Bonus Flash: Tradition

by L.M. Ball.

“Tradition” is original to Pseudopod! “It was at WriterHouse in Charlottesville, Virginia that I founded a member group for sci fi, fantasy and horror writers to meet and support each other. It’s a fantastic group and they helped motivate me to write, edit and submit this piece. Winter holidays are usually such a happy time, I wanted to try and do something seasonal that was a lot darker. I’ve always liked the pagan tradition of bringing in evergreens to give nature spirits a place to live during the cold weather and this story really came out of that idea- manifesting the rituals into something a lot more sinister and corporeal. I find the loss of control and fear that comes with this setting quite unsettling”

L.M. BALL is a British expat living in the East Coast of America as a full time Microbiologist. She started writing Star Trek fan fiction as a child and eventually evolved into creating my own stories.

Your reader – Isis LaCoste – is the pre-teen daughter of Rikki LaCoste, a regular narrator for Pseudopod. Isis is an aspiring young actress, a prolific artist and musician, a chip off the old block, really, and a lover of scary stories and movies. Isis and her father live in Toronto Canada.


“It always starts when the leaves change colour. At first they’re yellow, then golden before fading to a russet brown. I like the red ones the best, even though you could say they are the most obvious sign of what’s to come. They give you a rake and they tell you to make piles of the leaves. Your parents I mean, not the leaves. Though that wouldn’t be all that strange, considering. Sometimes when they aren’t watching we play in them, making big piles and knocking them over. It should be fun and it is, when you can forget that winter’s coming.

I think they started it all off, with the weird traditions, cutting down trees and bringing them indoors. Decorating everything in red and green, something about berries. Didn’t they notice that blood’s red too? Mamma says she remembers a time when winter was exciting, decorating a tree with glitter and ornaments to make it pretty. We don’t decorate our tree. Before, people believed that bringing foliage indoors was to provide a home for nature spirits, now that’s its purpose. I guess if you believe in something strongly enough, you can make it manifest. When the ornaments started to fall off by themselves and shatter on the floor, when it happened more than once, people started to notice. That’s what Mamma says. She said it was hard not to feel nervous that something else was going on when your entire tree had thrown off its decorations like an unwanted layer of skin.”


Bonus Christmas Flash 2013 – Helpers

by David Steffen.

“Helpers” was first published in One Buck Horror Volume 3 – you can order it here.

DAVID STEFFEN lives in Minnesota with his wife, kid, and dogs, where he writes computer vision software. Dozens of his stories have been published at venues like Escape Pod, Drabblecast, and Daily Science Fiction. He is the founder of Diabolical Plots, and he is the co-founder of the Submissions Grinder an always-free fiction market listing site.

Your reader this week – Rikki LaCoste – is a musician, magician, and Hermetic physician. He has been involved in such musickal projects as his very own Panthea, Wychwood Children, the medieval and renaissance ensemble called Moresca, and currently, a hand-drum based four-part harmony quartet called IO. Samples of most of these projects can be heard here. He is a musician, an artist, a regular narrator for Pseudopod (“Responsible Parties”, “The Suicide Witch”), a voice actor, a writer on occult subjects, a summoner of daemons, and teaches piano to sweet little children. But he is mostly known in this neck of the woods as the creator and co-host of Kakophonos Internet Radio: an esoteric and metaphysically flavoured podcast, with stuff – which is currently on hiatus while Rikki goes back to school for audio engineering. There is, however, an episode from the Kak archives, ported to YouTube for your audio – and visual – pleasure, here.


“The boy crept out of the front door, distant streetlamps bouncing dim reflections off his smooth cheeks, breath misting in the chill air. Pete couldn’t help but smile. The boy was just the right size, old enough to have grown some real muscle but still well short of being a man. He was downright plump compared to the half-starved urchins Pete was used to. Strange for a boy with a family to be out at this time. Hadn’t his parents told him the night was populated by thieves and killers? Their loss.

“Ripe for the plucking, yes,” Pete whispered. “How tough, strong, how healthy.””