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PseudoPod 797: New to It All

New To It All

by Seán Padraic Birnie

My first girlfriend, Niamh, was a scratcher. Saoirse wasn’t like that. The first time Niamh asked me to stay the night, she was testing me out. I can see that now, in retrospect. Nothing too scratchy to begin with. “I didn’t want to scare you away,” she said to me once, with a laugh. “Oh, you couldn’t have,” I replied, laughing too. At this Niamh tilted her head. “I think we both know that that’s not the case,” she replied, lowering her voice, which was already an implausibly low and husky voice. “I had to ease you in.” I smiled. I didn’t argue; I never did argue with Niamh. In retrospect I can see that I was always afraid of losing her, but what good did retrospect ever do for anyone? In retrospect, there’s nothing left to do. Understanding always comes too late. In retrospect, I can hear Niamh repeating herself: “Yep, I had to ease you in. You were so… new to it all.” Perhaps she wasn’t wrong. The morning after that first night together, I noticed the scratches in the bathroom mirror as I brushed my teeth with my index finger. I had forgotten my toothbrush. The scratches were livid. Once, she had made me yell out in pain, a long fingernail catching in the large mole in the middle of my back. I only remembered that then, standing in the bathroom with an index finger smeared with spit and toothpaste. One thing I hadn’t told her at that point was that I was, until that night at least, at the antique age of twenty-four, still a virgin. In retrospect, it’s obvious that she knew, but she was too kind to say anything about it.  (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 796: The Horse Leech Has Two Maws

Show Notes

This story has an academic frame and that the text on the website has a number of scholarly footnotes that provide additional context. The first footnote is “In Hebrew, alukah means “horseleech”—a type of leech with many teeth that feeds on the throats of cattle. According to the Biblical scholars I have spoken to, alukah can also mean “blood-lusting monster.” Historically, the alukah have been closely associated with Lilith or are thought to be her direct descendants. Some describe them as a “Hebrew succubus,” some horrific variety of vampire. Others describe the alukah as simply demons appearing mainly in rabbinic literature. The only Biblical reference I have found to this creature is paraphrased at the start of this journal.” 

The Horse Leech Has Two Maws

written by Michael Picco

Excerpted from the journal of Micha Slauss, Theresienstadt Holocaust Memorial Museum

They have teeth like swords and fangs like knives.

They devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among humanity.

The alukah have two maws—one that bites, and another that suckles at the wound.

Always they cry out: “More! Give us more!

-The Words of Agur, Proverbs 30:14–16

They came with us.

They came with us, moving from body to body in the fetid twilight of the cattle cars—shifting, changing, feeding, masquerading first as children, as misshapen dwarves, as shrunken old women. They came with us as we huddled and cried and grieved, crawling over our bodies like so much vermin as the death trains plodded toward our extinction.

They came with us. Those…things. Those terrible, dreadful things. The Daughters of Lilith. Alukah. Striya. Penanggalan. Wampyr. (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 795: The Last Seance

The Last Séance

by Agatha Christie

Raoul Daubreuil crossed the Seine humming a little tune to himself. He was a good-looking young Frenchman of about thirty-two, with a fresh-coloured face and a little black moustache. By profession he was an engineer. In due course he reached the Cardonet and turned in at the door of No. 17. The concierge looked out from her lair and gave him a grudging ‘Good morning,’ to which he replied cheerfully. Then he mounted the stairs to the apartment on the third floor. As he stood there waiting for his ring at the bell to be answered he hummed once more his little tune. Raoul Daubreuil was feeling particularly cheerful this morning. The door was opened by an elderly Frenchwoman whose wrinkled face broke into smiles when she saw who the visitor was.

‘Good morning, Monsieur.’

‘Good morning, Elise,’ said Raoul.

He passed into the vestibule, pulling off his gloves as he did so.

‘Madame expects me, does she not?’ he asked over his shoulder.

‘Ah, yes, indeed, Monsieur.’

Elise shut the front door and turned towards him.

‘If Monsieur will pass into the little salon Madame will be with him in a few minutes. At the moment she reposes herself.’

Raoul looked up sharply.

‘Is she not well?’


Elise gave a snort. She passed in front of Raoul and opened the door of the little salon for him. He went in and she followed him.

Well!’ she continued. ‘How could she be well, poor lamb? Séances, séances, and always séances! It is not right—not natural, not what the good God intended for us. For me, I say straight out, it is trafficking with the devil.’ (Continue Reading…)

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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…)