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PseudoPod 816: The Goatkeeper’s Harvest

Show Notes

From the author: “When I was seven, I spent the summer on my aunt’s goat farm, and it was quite the experience. Anyone who’s dealt with goats knows that they’re stubborn creatures. They get everywhere. They jump fences, knock down gates. And they look at you in a way that feels too human, like they know exactly what they’re doing. There’s also that way their jaws move when they masticate—side to side. It can feel disturbing—sinister, if you really pay attention to it. When I recently read about Shub-Niggurath, the Lovecraftian god who sometimes appears as a many-legged goat, I remembered my experience and thought, “of course goats aren’t really goats, it’s why they act like that!” and I knew I had a story. For the longest time I’d wanted to engage with the Lovecraftian mythos in a Nigerian setting. This presented the perfect opportunity. In drafting the story I wanted to stress one of the hallmarks of cosmic horror: that nothing is just and we are at the mercy of an indifferent universe. If reader reactions are any indication, I was successful.”

The Goatkeeper’s Harvest

By Tobi Ogundiran

The wind shrieks its displeasure as it rattles the house, rattles it like a child in the throes of a tantrum, and we, little gnats in this container of brick and mud, tumble from our huddle by the table. The awful shriek reaches a peak of fury, and within it I hear the abominable voices of Eleran’s children.

Ebun buries her face in my breasts, breath hot and moist against my skin. “I’m scared, Mama.”

I’m scared too. I’m scared of the wind and what it means, the dark and what it brings. I’m scared for the last bit of wood in the oven and how quickly it burns, the smoke thick in the air like an oppressive blanket, smothering us and smelling strangely of goat.

We all hear the sound: the frantic scratching of nails (or hooves?) on wood. Ebun stiffens against me; Teju’s eyes grow wide in his skull, and as one we swivel towards the door. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 815: Stinkpit


by Liam Hogan

John Arnold’s traps were full; too many rabbits for one man’s needs. He could try selling a few down The Lamb for a fiver or maybe just a pint, though if he did he’d have to suffer the taunts of “gamekeeper turned poacher”.

It wasn’t accurate. It had been his dad, Bob Arnold, who had been the gamekeeper, for the estate that was now lorded over by a know-nothing Yank. Technically, Jack wasn’t poaching either, because Jack was a landowner himself. Only the gamekeeper’s cottage and its postage-stamp kitchen garden, passed down from father to son, having been unexpectedly bequeathed in the previous estate owner’s will. Unexpected, because who knew Old Man Farrington had a heart, let alone a soft spot for a long serving employee?

The local wags said Bob must have known where the bodies were buried, the Old Man’s second wife in particular. But she’d been thirty years her husband’s junior, so maybe she’d grown tired of waiting for him to die, something he always seemed on the cusp of doing, some ghastly wasting disease with an impossible to remember name. Little wonder the Old Man had become obsessed with the occult, or so the rumours said, when more practical remedies eluded him. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 814: The Green Scarf

The Green Scarf

By A.M. Burrage

When the Wellingford family became extinct the days of Wellingford Hall as one of the great country homes of England were already numbered. The estate passed into the hands of commercial-minded people who had no reverence for the history of a great house. The acres around the old Hall became too valuable as building sites to be allowed to remain as a park surrounding a country mansion. So the fat Wellingford sheep were driven elsewhere to pasture, and surveyors and architects heralded the coming of navvies and builders.

All this happened many years ago. The old park became crossed and criss-crossed by new roads, and perky little villas with names like ‘Ivyleigh’ and ‘Dulce Domum’ sprang up like monstrous red fungi. Even these have since mellowed, and grown their own ivy and Virginia creeper, and put on airs of respectable maturity. The Hall itself, forlorn and abandoned, like some poor human wretch deserted in his old age, began slowly to crumble and decay. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 813: A Belly Full of Spiders

A Belly Full of Spiders

by Mário Coelho

Alone in a dark basement, Davey’s learned to do much without his eyes. He can hear the groaning of a house that never settles. He can taste different flavours of humidity: rust, cloth, mould, sweat. When he sniffs, he knows what Mom and Dad are cooking upstairs. Baked potatoes, drizzled in olive oil and peppered with garlic. Sirloin steak, charred on the outside, bloody within.

Sirloin. Sir Loin, Lord Gone whispers in his mind, his voice like scratches. Sir Loin, knight of the rotund table. You don’t need a knight, Davey. You just follow what I say.

Davey looks up at the ceiling he can’t see. He misses the old dark, the one that preluded lucid dreaming. He doesn’t dream anymore. Lord Gone doesn’t let him. Davey just moves between a darkness that is still, and a darkness that is stirring. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 812: The Old Switcheroo

The Old Switcheroo

By Christi Nogle

Calvin and I have been happy here, all told. With both of us orphaned early on, we were lucky to find each other, lucky to get out of the city and find this valley. We were luckier still to find this house well stocked with board games and books, space to spread out, a good woodshop and pantry, a fine roof, and a well-stocked gun cabinet. We had the orchard out back and the tools to tend it, even some supplies of fertilizers and sprays. A late-model truck in the garage, insurance in case we needed to leave in a hurry sometime. 

In twenty years, we’ve never needed the truck. I can’t remember how many years ago it quit starting. That’s all right. 

 Our happiness could have been more perfect in only one way: we could have finally gotten together. We could have made a family. It seemed like it was going there once or twice, so why didn’t we follow through? (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 811: No One Really Lives Alone

No One Really Lives Alone

by Lesley Hart Gunn

When the priest comes to your house to vanquish your demons, draped in ancient symbols with pockets of holy water oozing from her like sap, don’t ask who sent her. She’ll mark your doorstep with a small crucifix that she draws in the air with a careful and deliberate flourish, and you won’t be able to stop yourself from staring at the indiscernible thing hanging above your door long after she steps over the place where you used to keep a welcome mat. 

She won’t worry herself with introductions or niceties but will take a deep breath as she takes in the state of your living conditions and begins knocking on the floors, walls, and ceilings, calling out to the lesser imps that stay between the rot in your baseboards and sagging drywall. You can tell her not to bother, not to worry about the little things. It’s just the gnawing of rodents or insect damage. Nothing an exterminator can’t handle. She’ll knock and whisper her way down the hall, stopping to lick the walls, to taste the residue of the burnt offering you served up on the floor. She’ll find the leftover ashes since you didn’t bother sweeping them. She’ll ask you if you live alone, which is a trick question, because no one really lives alone, and she knows that. She knows what hides in cupboards and closets, watching and waiting. That’s why she comes.  (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 810: Her Face All Teeth

Her Face, All Teeth

by Greg Stolze

Denny did not want to spy on the confessional, but at the same time, he did. He wanted what he did not want, or he did not want to want what he wanted. As a Catholic, he should have been well-equipped to deal with this.

Unfortunately, he was also well-equipped to spy on the confessional.

Denny had a quiet body. He could sit very still for a long time. He’d gone hunting as a child, and impressed his dad by watching, over the rifle barrel, until a deer revealed itself. Denny’s little brother Bart always got excited when a deer appeared. Bart shot too soon, scaring the prey away. 

In the war, Denny’s still body had let him set up somewhere and wait, and watch. He was mistaken for part of the landscape until someone or something came into view, and became a good shot, and caught a bullet. When he took those shots, his face didn’t change but he felt it. He really didn’t like seeing people die, even enemies. But, as his father had said when Bart got upset about his bad shots, there was no point being a big baby about it. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 809 : A Pearl as Red as Sin

A Pearl as Red as Sin

by R. A. Busby

 The baby bit hard into my flesh and held there.

It dug into the left side of my womb with a pinprick pinch, sharp and determined. Lying in bed, cheek hot against the old pillowcase redolent of hair and bleach, I imagined the embryo floating through a warm-wet universe, a creature small as a salmon’s egg with tiny biting jaws that tore into the dark walls of my flesh and ate itself a cave to grow inside.

It nestled there, a pearl as red as sin.

But whose? (Continue Reading…)