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PseudoPod 842: Palette

Show Notes

All of the ingredients for the woman’s makeup recipes are accurate for medieval Austria.


Palette

By J.L. Kiefer


The line etched across her forehead, deep as a vein, as if a string had been stretched against the skin. She rubbed it, but it would not erase; her young elastic skin would not uncrease.

It remained the next morning, deeper, darker. Fraying at the edges with little bird’s claws. She examined it in her miniature hand mirror. It stretched the length of her index finger. She scratched her nail across it, in the groove, the only mar of her beauty. But she could fix it. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 841: Corporation


Corporation

by Tyler Jones


Sunlight blooms in the sky, rising up from behind all those glass and steel buildings. It burns away the dark blue. The Windows are still tinted from yesterday when I dimmed them. I touch the tablet to wake it up, then press the office icon. A new menu opens, I push the square with curtains. A control panel appears and I drag the fader down.

The glass grows clearer, lets in more light.

A shudder moves through the building. Framed awards, signed photographs of CEOs and politicians rattle against the walls. A golden apple paperweight shivers across the surface of the desk. The window vibrates, warps my reflection in the glass.

Work here long enough you get used to this, this shivering building.

I’m always the first to arrive because I still have some thing to prove. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 821 Special Anniversary Episode: THE DIRECTOR’S CUT!


Featuring the story Celestial Shores

by Sarah Day and Tim Pratt


Towards the end of July 2022 we released a special episode to mark Alasdair Stuart’s 15 years as the voice of PseudoPod. It included the story Celestial Shores, written by Sarah Day and Tim Pratt and narrated by Alasdair and his partner, Marguerite Kenner, as well as special tributes to Al and other bits of voice goodness.

But it turned out there were things we hadn’t, quite, managed to squeeze into that release. So now, as a special early holiday gift, we present… THE DIRECTOR’S CUT! There’s some extra introductory chat, there are new, previously unheard tributes, there’s a beautiful selection of samples from the very best of Al’s outro work from across the years, there are even more hilarious out-takes, and the story itself, Celestial Shores, has a fabulous new sound bed.

We hope you enjoy it. And we promise you, it’s all true.


Britt drove silently while Ray gazed past her at the beauty of the rock-strewn ocean, beyond the sheer drop-offs and flimsy guardrails that separated the coast road from the end of the continent. They were farther north than he’d ever been in California, heading for Celestial Shores, a stretch of property that began life in the ‘70s as an intentional community and was now full of wealthy retirees with strong opinions about quiet hours and the evils of artificial light… and a few vacation rentals, one of which he’d snapped up at a reduced price on short notice as a way of apologizing for certain things without having to actually say he was sorry. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 840: No Hungry Generations


No Hungry Generations

By Johnny Compton


The bird looked like the last descendent of a prehistoric mishap. Fatter than a turkey and wild-eyed even after death, it had small feet and a golden beard on its chest that may as well have been a neon sign reading ‘SHOOT HERE.’ Mother Nature must’ve been nursing a hangover when she made it and rushed the job, just wanting to get the day over with.

Mabel had never felt compassion for any animal the men of the family brought home after a hunt—circle of life and so on—but she felt a twinge of guilt looking at the plump carcass of this unfortunate thing. Hunting it would have been like playing dodge ball against a toddler.

She picked it up by its thick thighs. It was even heavier than it looked. Largest bird she’d ever cooked was a twenty-pounder. This one felt like it was north of thirty pounds. The neck was as fat as the end of a baseball bat, the body so round it was comical. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 839: The Only Thing Different Will Be the Body


The Only Thing Different Will Be The Body

by J.A.W. McCarthy


My great-grandfather was an angel.

When I told men that, they laughed. When I made it clear I was serious, they looked at me like I was crazy. For some, their eyes took on a blood-flushed sheen as they calculated the kind of fuck I’d be. Those men were the typical ones, the wrong ones. The best ones—the almost, maybe, please be right ones—dared me to prove it.

Tonight’s man—Aaron, as he introduced himself upon pouring my third drink—grinned, lips parted on the edge of a laugh, when I told him. His smile twitched then flattened as I let the silence hang in the air between us. Prosecco sat uncorked, warming in the tepid swirl of bodies all around us. Marshmallowy perfume and patchouli-heavy body spray muddied the rich spice of the bourbon in front of me. Aaron’s eyes wandered somewhere beyond my head, perhaps assessing who might’ve heard my declaration and if they would judge his response. Still, I said nothing. Aaron cleared his throat.

“Define angel,” he said, a hint of a grin still hanging on.

“A celestial being, fallen from heaven.” (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 838: Old Haunts


Old Haunts

By Orrin Grey


Kim Parks considered himself something of a connoisseur of the haunted attractions that sprang up every year around Halloween. While he was getting his masters, he had been to haunted attractions all over the country—New Orleans, St. Louis, New York.

He worked as a systems analyst for a major telephone company, a job that required him to travel all over but that kept him occupied only during the daylight hours. At night, he was left to his own devices, and during the month of October those devices took him unfailingly to the doorsteps of the haunted houses.

Every city had one or two, most had more. Some were professionally run, put on by people who attended the HauntWorld trade show in St. Louis every year, but Kim was particularly fond of the more amateur affairs—the haunted equivalent of putting on a show in the barn.

He was not, in any of his other habits, a morbid individual. At work he wore suits in colors with names like “charcoal” and “fawn.” ‘There was nothing to mark Kim out as a habitue of haunts, yet some exploratory urge drove him to them, time and again.

After a while, they became so uniform—dark rooms and strobe lights and men in masks wielding chainsaws with the chains re- moved—that every deviation was like a precious stone unearthed unexpectedly in his driveway. These deviations became what he lived for. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 837: Offerings


Offerings

By Joe Koch


Blaine’s head hurts at the sight of Amelia shuffling up the block. Hot from raking leaves, Blaine stretches as she admires her new house in her new neighborhood. The cold pinch of October air and brisk setting sun anticipate kids pouring in tomorrow at dusk. This is prime candy territory, nothing like the streets where Blaine grew up. Children don’t trick or treat in Blaine’s old neighborhood, not with the fires and gunshots. Down there, they call it Devil’s Night. Blaine’s worked her way up and out, from dishwasher to sous chef to culinary manager. She’s hosting her nieces and nephews at the new house tomorrow, and she expects to show them the flawless picture of safety and charm she’s paying for. Being a member of this community doesn’t come cheap. Looking down the block, it’s a perfect Norman Rockwell until Amelia enters the frame.

Amelia is the neighborhood chimera. Big moist eyes, throbbing temple bones and a perpetual brood in tow mark her as an anomaly. Maybe she runs some sort of daycare. Low cost, out of her home. The couple across from Blaine points her out as Amelia Something—do you think she even has a license? They raise their eyebrows in knowing distaste. Fiftyish and dressed for golf no matter the day of the week, they interrogate Blaine. By the time they spot Amelia, Blaine’s relieved to shift the critique to the other woman’s childcare credentials. She feels wrong about it later when Amelia shambles by. Nervous and harried, Amelia wanders the upscale streets like a restless spirit locked in a magic circle of misbehaving mongrel children. (Continue Reading…)

The Halloween Parade

PseudoPod 836: The Halloween Parade


The 2022 Halloween Parade

by Alasdair Stuart


The parade this year feels brittle. At least at first. It reminds you of that first step into a swimming pool, wondering if it will be too hot or too cold. You brace yourself for sharp contrast, face the suck, breathe through it. And then you’re there.

There’s an opening act waiting for you — the horror of wondering how many participants and attendees will be masked. No float. Just you, your too-conscious breath, and too many visible faces for complete comfort.

Nonetheless, you settle in a good spot. With churros in hand and your own mask nearby, you wait for the parade to begin.

The Controller walks the road as she always does, masked as she always is now, and then turns. Spreading her hands wide, the street fills with smoke… (Continue Reading…)