PseudoPod 484: Flash On The Borderlands XXXI: WEIRD SCIENCE HORROR!
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Theremin courtesy of Freesound and Thereminvox.
Unspeakable Horrors From Outer Space Paralyze The Living And Resurrect The Dead!
by Theodore Cogswell
narrated by John Bell
“So heavy!” groaned the last earth-man to himself as he laboriously pried up a heavy flagstone with the butt of an old halberd. “So very, very, heavy.”
As the flat rock finally toppled over, he bent down, with all the speed his complaining back would permit, and grabbed a centipede that was scuttling for safety. Grimacing slightly, he bit off its head and sucked out its little ration of unsatisfying juices.
While he did so, he nearsightedly scanned the moist ground the flagstone had covered, to see if there was anything else. But that section of his larder was empty. With a weary grunt he moved over to the next paving stone. When he had it halfway up, he saw a fine Wiggling underneath. Before he could do anything about it, there was a sudden shattering of the night silence, as something exploded in the high distance. Startled, he let the halberd drop—almost smashing a toe in the process—and looked up. As he watched, there came another thundering, and, with the harsh explosions, a flickering light flood. The ragged mountains that cupped his tiny signory jumped in and out of darkness. By the time he recovered his vision the sound was almost overhead. He squinted upward into the darkness as the flashes came again, less bright this time. Then he saw a strange something descending toward him on spouting pillars of emerald flame.
“Company!” he chortled happily to himself as he tottered down the winding stairs that led to his chambers. “After all these years, real live company!”
The Stainless Steel Leech
by Roger Zelazny
narrated by Norm Sherman
I, the unjunked, am legend. Once out of a million assemblies a defective such as I might appear and go undetected, until too late.
At will, I could cut the circuit that connected me with Central Control, and be a free ’bot, and master of my own movements. I liked to visit the cemeteries, because they were quiet and different from the maddening stamp-stamp of the presses and the clanking of the crowds; I liked to look at the green and red and yellow and blue things that grew about the graves. And I did not fear these places, for that circuit, too, was defective. So when I was discovered they removed my vite-box and threw me on the junk heap.
But the next day I was gone, and their fear was great.
And Not Quite Human
by Joe L. Hensley
narrated by Spencer DiSparti
They won of course. One ship against a world, but they won easily.
The Regents would be pleased. Another planet for colonization-—even a few specimens for the labs. Earthmen, who had incredibly lived through the attack.
Forward, in a part of the great ship where the complex control panels whirred and clicked, two of the Arcturians conferred together.
“How are the Earth specimens, Doctor?” the older one asked, his voice indifferent. He touched his splendid purple pants, straightening the already precise creases.
“They stare at the walls, Captain. They do not eat what we give them. They seem to look through the guards, say very little and use their bodies feebly. I do not think that all of them will live through the trip.”
“They are weak. It only shows the laboratories are wrong. Our people are not related to them—despite the similarity in appearance. No, we are cast in a stronger mold than that.” He drummed his desk with impatient fingers. “Well—we can’t let them die. Force-feed them if necessary. Our scientists demand specimens; we are lucky that some of them lived through the attack. I don’t see how it was possible—it was such a splendid attack.”
“They have no real sickness, not even a radiation burn in the lot of them,” the doctor said. “But they are weak and morose.”
“Keep them alive and well, Doctor.”
About the Authors
Theodore Rose Cogswell (1918 – 1987) was an American science fiction author. During the Spanish Civil War, he served as an ambulance driver for the Republicans as part of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Cogswell wrote almost 40 science fiction stories, most of them humorous. Many thanks to John Betancourt and the Cogswell estate for working with us to share this story with you.
Roger Zelazny (1937 – 1995) was an American poet and writer of fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels, best known for The Chronicles of Amber. He won the Nebula award three times and the Hugo award six times. He has a crustacean named after him!
Many thanks to Trent Zelazny for working with us to share The Stainless Steel Leech and other stories with you. While you’re in the mood for fiction, check out some of his work. We recommend starting with his excellent collection The Day the Leash Gave Way and Other Stories.
Joe L. Hensley
Joe L. Hensley was a lawyer, prosecuting attorney, member of the Indiana General Assembly, circuit court judge, science fiction fan, and writer of science fiction and mysteries. While working as a law student, lawyer, legislator and judge, Hensley wrote science fiction and crime fiction (and at least one auto-racing story for a pulp magazine) as Joe L. Hensley and Louis J. A. Adams. (more…)
About the Narrators
Norm Sherman is the multi-talented master of all things weird and wonderful. In addition to founding, hosting, and producing the Drabblecast, hosting and co-editing Escape Pod, and creating his own original music, he also runs a non-profit organization. Norm lives on a small ship circling Phobos with his Nigerian princess Tinunbu. He occasionally lands long enough to read stories for us.
Spencer Disparti is a poet from Phoenix, Arizona. He loves narrating and writing music. You can find all his music on soundcloud.com under the name Descendants of Nyx.
Voiced by John Bell, a former radio guy who has extensive experience in writing/voicing/producing commercials, audiobooks, video game characters, and so on. Currently, he writes/voices/produces the comedy podcast, “Bell’s in the Batfry“, available at iTunes, various other sources, and at http://thebatfry.com.