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PseudoPod 794: The Man Who Was Saved

The Man Who Was Saved

By B. W. Sliney

‘Only I escaped.’ The man whom they had found adrift in the dory hung his head. ‘The others—’ the listeners bent nearer to catch his throatily whispered words—‘the others—it got them—that monstrous, curved thing!’ His eyes rolled back, showing bloodshot whites; his body tensed and then he shook, as with the ague. His attempt to say more resulted in stuttering failure.

‘He had better be put to bed,’ the ship’s doctor said. ‘His nerves are all gone. Heat and thirst and exposure, of course. Hallucinations. He’ll come out of it in time.’

So they put him in the hospital where he raved for three days. And the things he said caused intense interest on board the freighter Pacific Belle; and amongst the crew lurking fear whispered that some of the things he said were true.

It was a week before he came into his right mind again, and then the fevers and fears which had beset him passed. He was able to talk to the captain, and to tell a coherent story. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 793: And No Bird Sings

Show Notes

 “Birdsong & Elemental Slug” soundbed by Shawn M. Garrett, dedicated to Adi Newton & The Anti-Group (TAGC)

And No Bird Sings

by E.F. Benson

The red chimneys of the house for which I was bound were visible from just outside the station at which I had alighted, and, so the chauffeur told me, the distance was not more than a mile’s walk if I took the path across the fields. It ran straight till it came to the edge of that wood yonder, which belonged to my host, and above which his chimneys were visible. I should find a gate in the paling of this wood, and a track traversing it, which debouched close to his garden. So, in this adorable afternoon of early May, it seemed a waste of time to do other than walk through meadows and woods, and I set off on foot, while the motor carried my traps.

It was one of those golden days which every now and again leak out of Paradise and drip to earth. Spring had been late in coming, but now it was here with a burst, and the whole world was boiling with the sap of life. Never have I seen such a wealth of spring flowers, or such vividness of green, or heard such melodious business among the birds in the hedgerows; this walk through the meadows was a jubilee of festal ecstasy. And best of all, so I promised myself, would be the passage through the wood newly fledged with milky green that lay just ahead. There was the gate, just facing me, and I passed through it into the dappled lights and shadows of the grass-grown track.

Coming out of the brilliant sunshine was like entering a dim tunnel; one had the sense of being suddenly withdrawn from the brightness of the spring into some subaqueous cavern. The tree-tops formed a green roof overhead, excluding the light to a remarkable degree; I moved in a world of shifting obscurity. Presently, as the trees grew more scattered, their place was taken by a thick growth of hazels, which met over the path, and then, the ground sloping downwards, I came upon an open clearing, covered with bracken and heather, and studded with birches. But though now I walked once more beneath the luminous sky, with the sunlight pouring down, it seemed to have lost its effulgence. The brightness—was it some odd optical illusion?—was veiled as if it came through crêpe. Yet there was the sun still well above the tree-tops in an unclouded heaven, but for all that the light was that of a stormy winter’s day, without warmth or brilliance. It was oddly silent, too; I had thought that the bushes and trees would be ringing with the song of mating-birds, but listening, I could hear no note of any sort, neither the fluting of thrush or blackbird, nor the cheerful whirr of the chaffinch, nor the cooing wood-pigeon, nor the strident clamour of the jay. I paused to verify this odd silence; there was no doubt about it. It was rather eerie, rather uncanny, but I supposed the birds knew their own business best, and if they were too busy to sing it was their affair. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 792: The Rocking-Horse Winner

The Rocking-Horse Winner

by D.H. Lawrence

There was a woman who was beautiful, who started with all the advantages, yet she had no luck. She married for love, and the love turned to dust. She had bonny children, yet she felt they had been thrust upon her, and she could not love them. They looked at her coldly, as if they were finding fault with her. And hurriedly she felt she must cover up some fault in herself. Yet what it was that she must cover up she never knew. Nevertheless, when her children were present, she always felt the centre of her heart go hard. This troubled her, and in her manner she was all the more gentle and anxious for her children, as if she loved them very much. Only she herself knew that at the centre of her heart was a hard little place that could not feel love, no, not for anybody. Everybody else said of her: “She is such a good mother. She adores her children.” Only she herself, and her children themselves, knew it was not so. They read it in each other’s eyes. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 791: Flash on the Borderlands LIX: Down in the Park

“We are not lovers. We are not romantics. We are here to serve you.”

Feast for Small Pieces

by Hailey Piper

Never underestimate the seductive power of a woman who’s minding her own business.

“There’s just something about her,” they say. I see myself splashed across a pulp magazine cover, a distraught man in the background. The tagline reads, “He met a woman he Could. Not. Resist.” As if that’s my problem.

These writers don’t realize it’s me they’ve placed in their stories. I’d hoped to escape them when I left England, but their tide is unending. They scarce remember passing me on the street, only the fire I’ve lit in their minds, hearts, and other places. Later they sit with their notebooks or keyboards, tapping out the story of how a man’s peaceful life was shattered when he met me in some chance romance.

Sometimes I’m cast as a vampire. Other times I’m the half-human spawn of an elder god. I might be Eve. Never the same, but always me. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 790: The Humbug

The Humbug

By Orrin Grey

Joshua caught it in a glass jar with holes poked in the lid. He came running up to the cabin with it, shouting, “I found a bug! I found a bug!”

“There aren’t any bugs in winter,” Amanda said crossly, though no snow had fallen yet and the trees and ground outside were simply bare and gray. 

When Joshua placed the jar on the big, heavy dining table, however, there was no mistaking that a bug rested on the bottom, lying on its back with its unpleasantly segmented legs folded up toward its abdomen.

“Then it’s dead,” Amanda huffed. 

She was the middle child, and seemed to have reached a stage in her development where she felt the need to compensate for being neither youngest nor oldest by always knowing everything. 

“Or hibernating,” Alice quickly added, having only recently learned that some insects burrowed down into the ground and slept a deathlike sleep through the winter. “Cicadas do it for years and years!” she added cheerily.

But when Joshua tapped on the side of the jar, the bug inside sprang to life like a clockwork toy. Righting itself with a strangely mechanical hop, it scuttled to the edge farthest from where Joshua’s fingertip still rested against the glass.

(Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 789: NIGHTLIGHT Podcast Takeover: I Will Not Walk in Darkness + High Water Slack

I Will Not Walk In Darkness

by Jamie Grimes

It started the way most bad things in my life start. It started with a girl.

Nia. She wasn’t but nineteen, maybe twenty. Young enough, regardless, that she had too much living ahead of her to go getting in deep with the kind of people she was getting in with, the kind of people who don’t care for nobody, not in any meaningful way, not unless they can get something useful out of them. Those was the people she’d got away from when I heard her rattling round my coops in the dead of night like a fox looking for an easy meal.  (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 788: The Stories We Tell About Ghosts

The Stories We Tell About Ghosts

by A.C. Wise

Growing up in Dieu-le-Sauveur, my friends and I told stories about ghosts—the Starving Man, the Sleeping Girl, and the House at the End of the Street. The summer I was twelve, I saw my first ghost for real. That was the summer my little brother Gen disappeared.

The first official day of summer, the day after school ended for the year, we gathered in Luke and Adam’s clubhouse—me, my little brother Gen, and Holly and Heather from across the road. Luke and Adam lived next door. By the time Gen was born, Luke and I had already spent years passing through the hedge between our houses.

That didn’t change immediately when Gen was born, but it changed when he got old enough to walk and my parents insisted I take him with me any place I wanted to go. Luke didn’t mind, but he was the younger brother in his relationship, the one used to tagging along. He couldn’t understand why I could be annoyed, and yet protective of Gen at the same time, the first to rush to him if he got hurt, or stand up for him if someone else gave him trouble.

This is what I couldn’t explain to Luke: It didn’t matter that I loved Gen or not, because I did; it didn’t matter that he was actually pretty cool for a little brother. What mattered was I didn’t have a choice anymore. I used to be just me, but for the last seven years, I’d been Gen’s big brother. I would always be Gen’s big brother, with all the weight and responsibility it entailed.

“This is that game I was telling you about.” Adam pulled out his phone. All week while we waited for school to be out, he’d been talking about an app called Ghost Hunt!, where you collected virtual ghosts and stored them in a scrapbook. He already had 27 unique ghosts, including the Bloody Nun.

“I found her behind the church. There used to be a cemetery there, but they dug up all the bodies and moved them somewhere else.”

He turned his screen to show us the Bloody Nun’s picture. The clubhouse was really a cleared-out garden shed, but Luke and Adam’s mom had put in a carpet for us and a mini fridge with an extension cord running to the garage. I reached to grab a soda, popping the tab before I looked at the picture on Adam’s phone.

The colors were washed out and strange, like one of those filters had been applied to make it look like an old photograph. The grass had a peachy tone, but I recognized the lawn behind the church, but not the woman, who wore an old-fashioned habit, with a wimple and a big silver cross. Her face was jowly, making me think of a bulldog, and at first I didn’t even notice her feet until Holly pointed it out. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 787: On Seas of Blood and Salt

On Seas Of Blood And Salt

Richard Dansky

This is what Reb Palache does when he finds a ship crewed by the dead.

He does not know it is crewed by the dead, not at first. He is in his cabin, discoursing with the nameless angel who speaks in the silences of his mind. They are speaking of the Pirkei Avot and debating the words of Rabbi Chanina ben Dosa, who held that a man who was pleasing to others was pleasing to HaShem, but that a man who was displeasing to others was in turn displeasing to the Lord, when a great shout comes down from the crow’s nest.

“A ship, the lookout,” the lookout says. “Dead ahead and low in the water!”

And these words that rain down are caught and carried by the men on deck, passed along and repeated until one pounds on Palache’s door in his excitement.

It is ill tidings, the angel says. But they are ones that cannot go unheard.

“And if these tidings are pleasing to the men, are they not also pleasing to HaShem?” the rebbe jokes, gently, as he rises from where he sits cross-legged on the floor.

I asked Reb ben Dosa a question as he sat in his study, the angel replied. What of the man who is displeasing to his fellow men because he is pleasing to the Lord? And for that he had no answer.

Reb Palache does not reply; there is no time for him to do so. For again the sailor is pounding on the door, and now he is shouting, “Rebbe, Reb Palache, there is a ship!”

It has been a while since they have taken a ship, Reb Palache knows. The oceans are vast, and even the greatest galleons are small adrift in it, and the men in his pay who work in the treasure-houses of his enemies have fallen silent of late.

It would be good to take a ship. The men would find it pleasing. So says Reb Palache to himself and steps out onto the deck.

The sailor at his door is beside himself with excitement. It is one of the younger men; the older ones would know better. The first growth of his beard has just come in, sparse black hairs curling over a weak chin, and his eyes are wide and blue. Joachim, his name is—Palache remembers him now, a dock rat from Zeebrugge who had demanded at rusty dagger point to be taken aboard. He is earnest, and he is eager, and he is too young to think that death will ever find him. (Continue Reading…)