Mother Horror and “The Smell of Night in the Basement”


Do you ever drive by a dark alley and catch a glimpse of something that makes your breath catch in your throat? Maybe as you drive away, you’re already telling yourself you didn’t see what you thought you saw.

Have you ever passed in front of a dilapidated house with its dark, ratty curtains and old mail spilling out of the door’s mail slot and wondered about what goes on inside a house like that?

What kind of horrors takes place in secret, abandoned, dirty spaces?

In the short story, THE SMELL OF NIGHT IN THE BASEMENT, author Wendy N. Wagner pulls back the curtain and allows readers to observe the goings-on in a very dark place. A basement.

Our narrator is young and vulnerable. A runaway. A street urchin abandoned to fend for herself. Her home is a filthy, foul place unnoticed by anyone who could rescue her.

She has resigned her dignity in exchange for drugs and basic necessities being met.

She crawls around on all fours and makes herself available for anything. They call her “pet.”

Those in control over her seem like children themselves but are hardened by years on the street and given over to depravity, experimenting with all manner of things, sex, drugs, blood lust, and power. A microcosm of life, complete with its own food chain, existing in a basement somewhere.

Kill or be killed.

Hunt or be hunted.

Rule or be ruled.

During the course of one night, the teens have gone out “hunting” and have returned with a bounty and a new pet for grooming.

This is a pitch-black tale.

This Pseudopod episode will take up a little over 30 minutes of your time but it will linger long after you’ve finished listening. I closed my eyes and fell under the magical spell of Kara Grace’s theatrical narration. She gave life to every, single character. Wagner’s colorful dialog was given the full range of emotions: Apathy, cruelty, sarcasm, sensuality, pleading, anger, fear…

…the ending crushed me. Equal parts Kara Grace’s dramatic reading and Wendy Wagner’s pitch-perfect storytelling.

I’m becoming a huge fan of both Pseudopod and Wendy N. Wagner.

-Sadie Hartmann “Mother Horror”

About the Authors

Sadie Hartmann

Sadie Hartmann is known as Mother Horror on social media. She writes horror fiction reviews and other content for Cemetery Dance and SCREAM Magazine as well as GoodreadsAmazonInstagram and other social media platforms & publications.

Sadie is a horror fiction advocate and an Active, voting member of the Horror Writers Association and the co-owner of a curated, horror fiction, monthly subscription package called Night Worms.

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Wendy N. Wagner

Wendy N. Wagner is the author of the forthcoming horror novel The Deer Kings (due August from Journalstone), as well as the SF novel An Oath of Dogs, and two Pathfinder tie-in novels. Her short fiction has appeared in nearly fifty publications. She is the incoming (2021) editor-in-chief of Nightmare Magazine and also serves as Managing/Senior Editor at both Nightmare and Lightspeed. She lives, works, and makes mischief in Portland, Oregon. You can keep up with her at winniewoohoo.com.

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