PseudoPod logo

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…)

PseudoPod logo

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…)

Anthologies and Collections and PseudoPod and You III: Dream Warriors

There are a number of short stories in anthologies and collections that deserve to get in front of more readers. We want to shine more light across our community and widen our circle to make room for more writers and readers. We and our audience love short fiction, and we never have enough space to run everything we want in a year, so we want to get samples of entire books of short fiction in front of our audience. In specific, PseudoPod has penciled out space in a large portion of November and December 2022 to support this effort. Want to know what this might look and sound like? Check out the showcase we did in November and December 2020 starting with “The Genetic Alchemist’s Daughter” by Elaine Cuyegkeng from the anthology Black Cranes. The 2021 Showcase started off with “Sleep Hygiene” by Gemma Files from the collection In That Endlessness, Our End. (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod logo

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…)

PseudoPod logo

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…)

PseudoPod logo

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…)

PseudoPod logo

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…)

PseudoPod logo

PseudoPod 808: Food Man

Food Man

by Lisa Tuttle

Dinner was the real problem.

Mornings, it was easy to rush out of the house without eating; when it wasn’t, when her mother made an issue of it, she’d eat an orange or half a grapefruit. At lunchtime she was either at school or out so there was no one to pressure her into eating anything she didn’t want. But dinner was a problem. She had to sit there, surrounded by her family, and eat whatever her mother had prepared, and no matter how she pushed it around her plate it was obvious how little she was eating. She experimented with dropping bits on the floor and secreting other bits in her sleeves or in her pockets, but it wasn’t easy, her mother’s eyes were so sharp, and she’d rather eat than suffer a big embarrassing scene. (Continue Reading…)