PseudoPod 698: Of Marrow and Abomination


Of Marrow and Abomination

by Morgan Sylvia


I am very young when I first dream of the ruined barn.

The barn is nothing more than a burnt-out husk in the northern woods. It stands alone in an overgrown meadow, a blackened shell of rotted shingles and charred, cracked timbers, its weathered grey boards standing in stark contrast to the golden hayfields around it. The northeast is peppered with such ruins. Built by hand, not machine, the old barns are silent, forgotten monuments of a lost age, one where horses, not cars, carried men through the thick, tangled woods, and where woodstoves rather than furnaces kept away the biting winter cold.

It was initially repurposed as a numbers station, a clandestine radio station that broadcasts coded messages to spies via short-wave radio transmissions. Later, it became something else. A black site, of sorts. By then, the Cold War had ended, and we had clawed our way greedily into the information age.

I wonder now if they understood what they were doing, those Cold War doctors with their shiny shoes and thick glasses and slicked-back hair. They chose this spot, no doubt, because it was both isolated and unremarkable. They wanted the space and freedom to explore their madnesses, their alchemy, far away from prying eyes, in a place where only beasts and forgotten ghosts could see. I wonder if it ever occurred to them that the abominations created here would never be contained. They saw themselves, no doubt, as pioneers, inventors. In truth, they were sorcerers as much as scientists, heirs to Crowley and Agathodaemon as much as to Newton and Einstein and Hawking.

They are dead now. The darklings gnaw on their skeletons.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and the corpses of men like them. (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 697: Five Fridays During Lent

Show Notes

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Five Fridays During Lent

by Christine Lucas


You beg your son to try just one spoonful. He doesn’t. He sits rigid, his palms on his thighs, his almost-glassy, bloodshot eyes fixed ahead. There’s nothing there, only the old armoire filled with mothball-smelling clothes from three generations back. You try passing the spoonful beneath his nose. He loved your magiritsa, your son.

Perhaps a story will do the trick, just like when he was a child? The war robbed you of husband, brothers, savings, dignity, even fairytales. So instead you tell him about your day: how the butcher gave you the stink-eye when you asked for lamb’s offal. Lent has just started, and you’re making Easter Sunday soup already? When you mention it’s for your son, the war hero, he nods and brings what you asked. His own son returned from the war damaged as well—more than yours, and this simple knowledge fills your heart with guilt and relief in equal parts.

Your boy didn’t return wearing his shroud. When he slurps a spoonful of barely-cooked lamb’s innards, you tell yourself that all will be fine. (Continue Reading…)

Anthologies and Collections and PseudoPod and You!


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. In specific, PseudoPod has penciled out space in a large portion of November and early December 2020 to support this effort.

Publishers, please send us your collections and anthologies, specifically those that have been or will be published in 2020, and identify any stories original to that publication.

Authors, ask your publisher to send us the book; if they’re not interested, we still want you to submit your story here — just include the collection or anthology title in the cover letter for your individual story. (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 696: The Fog


The Fog

by Morley Roberts


The fog had been thickening for many weeks, but now, moving like a black wall, it fell on the town. The lights that guided the world were put out—the nearest were almost as invisible as the stars; a powerful arc-lamp overhead was but a blur. Traffic ceased, for drivers could not see; screams were heard in the streets, and cries for help, where none could help themselves.

“I’m blind,” said Tom Crabb, as he leant against the pillar outside the Café Français in Regent Street. He said it with a chuckle, for he, alone of a street full of the lost, did not feel lost. “I’m blind, but know my way home!”

Day by day and night by night he patrolled the street with a placard upon his breast marked in big letters, “Blind’. People with eyes saw him. Out of a thousand one gave him a penny; out of ten thousand one gave him sixpence. The millionth, or some charitable madman, made it half a crown. The red-letter day of his blind life was when he found a sovereign in his palm, put there by a soft little hand that touched his. He heard a gentle girl’s voice say, “Poor blind man.” He had a hard life, and was a hard and lonely man, but he remembered that voice, as he did all voices. (Continue Reading…)