Pseudopod 195: The Engine of Desire

The Engine of Desire

by Livia Llewellyn

All the signs of life are here, but this neighborhood has long been dead. They’re the only family left, and even they’ve fallen apart, like rotting meat from the suburban bone. She walks down the driveway, her low pumps clacking against the blacktop. As she steps into the street, her heart races; and now she catches the faint whine, a sonorous metallic song calling out in reply. After all these lonely years, it’s returned.

From the far end of the cul-de-sac, a sixteen-year-old girl emerges from the tangled overhang of rhododendrons framing a long-abandoned house. She saunters into the street, tanned hips curving back and forth in waves as she moves. Though autumn hovers in the air, she brings perpetual summer, shimmering all around her in rippling waves. One hand touches a lock of black hair, then tugs at her striped tube-top — for a single sublime moment, a caramel-colored areola peers into the rising dark. Megan feels the decades burn away like ash in the girl’s heat.

“Hey, spaz,” Kelly says. “Got a light?”

“You didn’t change,” Megan murmurs. “Thirty years, and you’re just the same.”

“Yeah, I never change.”

“But I have changed. Can’t you hear?” Megan presses her hand against her heart. “It’s like it’s inside me now, like I’m the engine, too.”

“Oh really? You’re the engine?” Kelly slips a cigarette into her mouth. “Are you sure?”

“You’re not taking her. It’s my turn.”

Kelly runs a long tongue over wet lips. “She’s already taken — it’s what you made her for, right?”

About the Author

Livia Llewellyn 

Livia Llewellyn is a writer of dark fantasy, horror and erotica. Her fiction has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Subterranean, Nightmare Magazine, and Postscripts; and her short story collection Engines of Desire: Tales of Love & Other Horrors was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Collection. Her second collection Furnace won the THIS IS HORROR Award the same year as PseudoPod picked up fiction podcast of the year. Her website is at, where she lists all her current works-in-progress and upcoming publications.

Find more by Livia Llewellyn 


About the Narrator

Philippa Ballantine

Born in Wellington, New Zealand, Philippa (Pip) Ballantine has always had her head in a book. For this she blames her father who thought Lord of the Rings was suitable bedtime reading for an eight year old. At the age of thirteen she began writing fantasy stories for herself.

She first earned a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Political Science and then a Bachelor of Applied Science in Library and Information Science. So soon enough she found herself working in the magical world of libraries where she stayed for over a decade.

Her first professional sale was in 1997, and since then she has gone on to produce mostly novel length fiction. In 2006 she became New Zealand’s first podcast novelist, and her podcasts have won both a Parsec Award and a Sir Julius Vogel award.

Find more by Philippa Ballantine