Archive for Stories

PseudoPod 748: The Infinite Error

Show Notes

This is this story’s first time appearing to the public. It will be included in the forthcoming collaborative collection The Latham-Fielding Liaison.

The Infinite Error

by Jon Padgett and Matthew M. Bartlett

“Everything exists; nothing exists. Either formula affords a like serenity. The man of anxiety, to his misfortune, remains between them, trembling and perplexed, forever at the mercy of a nuance, incapable of gaining a foothold in the security of being or in the absence of being.”

—E.M. Cioran, The Trouble with Being Born

Of course, I would have preferred to defecate at home in the privacy and comfort of my own bathroom, but my bowels refuse to move for the first two hours I am awake. I suffer from insomnia and can achieve a deep sleeping state only in the very early hours of the morning. Forcing myself awake before 6am is a misery, so I simply wait to use the office facilities.

As you know, the office has only one lavatory, which is miniscule. The entrance has a swinging, louvered door that cannot be locked, and it contains a single stall. A unisex facility, there is no urinal present, so if the stall is occupied, one must wait. Each weekday for years now, I have arrived at work fifteen minutes early so I can enter and use this toilet without disturbance.

Why? I don’t like beginning my day in a negative frame of mind. It is not rage that I feel whenever I enter the lavatory to find the stall door closed, but it is a proximal feeling. Also, I cannot abide sitting on a warm toilet seat, let alone being assailed by the stench of another body’s recent evacuations. And then there are the particles that they so often leave behind in the toilet’s bowl.

You would think it a simple courtesy: a second flush. Why, I myself have been known to wait until the water recedes, and wipe at the leavings with a wad of toilet tissue sufficient to provide an unbreachable border between my hand and the porcelain. To leave behind any trace of my presence would be simply out of the question. (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 747: Keeping House

Keeping House

by Sarah Day

“Isn’t it cute?” Keishya, the realtor, spread her arms in the center of the kitchen like a starlet in center stage. “It’s a killer find.”

Lydia gingerly put her purse down on the counter. They’d seen three houses already today, all of them a bit too small or a bit too pricey or a bit too far from her work. Her feet hurt. 

This house was cute, she had to admit. It had high ceilings and buttery yellow walls, hardwood floors, lots of cabinet space, a study where Matt could work on his electronics projects, and, if the listing was to be believed, a full basement with washer and dryer for laundry. 

Keishya watched Matt poking his head into one of the bedrooms. She smiled at Lydia. “You two are a cute couple. Is this your first place together?”


“Oooh, big step!” Keishya winked conspiratorially. “You gotta be careful, moving in with a man—make sure he pulls his weight around here.”

Lydia smiled shyly. 

“There’s a downstairs, right?” Matt asked from the bedroom.

“Sure is!” The toothpaste-advertisement smile on Keishya’s face tilted a little bit. “It’s… not as polished as the rest of the house, but let’s have a look.” (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 746: Rattlesnake Song

Rattlesnake Song

by Josh Rountree

The Last Picture Show came to the movie house on the square in the fall of nineteen seventy-one.  We snuck in with warm cans of Pearl and sat on the back row so we could take quick hits off our cigarettes and snub them out before anyone noticed the smoke.  I fell in love with Cybil Sheppard and figured she could wind me up just like she did all the guys in Anarene.  I recognized that small town that had been something once but was now engaged in a battle with time. Every sandstorm, every gust of West Texas wind stripped away another layer of paint and vitality.  That dying town was our inheritance.

When the movie ended we spilled out onto Front Street with our half-full beer cans stashed in our jackets.  Dean Champion’s dad had been a big hat over at the refinery in Big Spring before he hung himself, so Dean had sprung for the beer.  We piled into his Chevelle and I made sure I was in the back seat, squashed tight against Stacy Bell’s thigh.  Once upon a time that prospect would have excited me, but that time had passed.  

(Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 745: Cleaver, Meat, and Block

Cleaver, Meat, and Block

by Maria Haskins

The first thing Hannah learned when she came to live with her grandparents after the Plague, was how to wield the meat cleaver. Grandma taught her, guiding her hands in the backroom of the old butcher shop on Main Street. Showing her how to wrap her fingers around the handle, how to put her thumb on the spine of the handle for extra power and precision, how to let her wrist pivot when she cuts.

“You don’t need to be strong,” Grandma said. “The weight of the blade, the sharpness of the edge, is enough.” (Continue Reading…)