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PseudoPod 806 : Garden Empire


Garden Empire

by Chris Matson


I’d bought the house only the week before, when I was still in possession both of my teeth and of my job as the Head of Machine Learning for an Auckland-based startup. A two-story villa with a section of native bush so dense that it baffled the city noise into a murmur.

After David called to tell me I was being pushed out, I wandered in a daze out of the house and into the cool heart of the garden, where I slumped against a tree fern and watched a bumblebee clamber about a lavender bush. Its bulbous shape evoked the image of a furred twitching brain – my brain, I idly imagined, always seeking nutritious data. But where would it feed if the lavender sickened? Would it throb unhappily to a dark corner of the garden, to dine on sullen fungal growths or the entrails of a dead mouse? My mind’s eye would not hold the bee’s gentle fur in the same scope as a rodent’s cadaver, and the bee flickered into a fat black fly, and the fly multiplied into a swarm. Bees, entrails, flies … Mother had often warned me to be on guard against unhealthy mental progressions, and I realized that without a job I would need something appropriate to occupy my teeming mind.

I needed a hobby. (Continue Reading…)

PseudoPod 805: The Fifteenth Green


Another night at Saunderson’s; a chilly night in early May, cold enough for the fire that roared and flamed cheerfully on the wide hearth that had heard so many strange tales! Saunderson, with his broad red cheerful face and ready grin, had tonight more than ever the air of hiding some surprise that, given the right moment, he would spring upon us—his air of suppressed importance held mystery, his portentous nods and winks at various special cronies as he presided over the familiar Round Table, its shining mahogany laden with good things, meant a new and interesting Something in the offing—or I did not know Saunderson! The newcomer sitting on his right, however, did not look promising—not the sort of fellow, one would have said, to adventure into the strange regions of the Occult . . . a long lean brown man, shy and rather speechless, eloquent apparently on one thing only—Golf. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 804: Flash on the Borderlands LXI: Dead Man’s Party (April Fools’ Version)

Show Notes

“The Tentacle and You” was originally published in Nature Futures back in 2019.

“Backers” is a PseudoPod Original

“Your Honor, My Undead Client Opposes the Application to Probate His Estate” is a PseudoPod original.


“Backers”: “My wife and her friends are obsessed with podcasts about serial killers – something I find it hard to understand. My kids are fans of various chirpy YouTube personalities – something I find it hard to understand. This story is essentially me as an old, out-of-touch man in his mid-30s bashing the two together and seeing what falls out. I do suspect, though, that relentlessly cheerful vloggers might have some hidden dark sides to their personalities.”



“Everybody’s comin’, leave your body at the door”


The Tentacle and You

by John Wiswell


Congratulations on your new tentacle! You’re probably one of the first people in your entire civilization to get this gift, and we know how overwhelming that can feel. That’s why we’ve compiled a few tips to coach you early adopters through the first days of the rest of your lives. Welcome to the fold.

Day one

Already you should feel unprecedented vigor. Pursue whatever naturally drives you. Go body surfing. Wrestle a bear. Sky dive without a parachute. Do sex if that’s your thing. Thanks to the tentacle’s restorative properties, no injury or infection will last more than a few seconds. It’s pretty cool, right? That durability is going to help you over the next week.

The contact area of your tentacle may itch. Refrain from scratching or trying to remove it. Within the first three hours, the tentacle will have bonded with your nervous system such that agitation will cause it to override your motor control. Nobody likes walking around in public with deactivated arms. Spare yourself the embarrassment and embrace your new self. (Continue Reading…)

CatsCast 1: The Cat Lady and the Petitioner


The Cat Lady and the Petitioner

by Jennifer Hudak

Laurie stands in front of a door. It’s old but solid, as many old things are. Whatever paint once covered it has long since worn away, and the wood beneath is striped, and furred with splinters. It is her very first door, of her very first day, of her very first job.

Her ankles wobble over brand-new high heels, and her smart jacket is slightly itchy and entirely unsuited for the warm weather. She lifts one aching foot and then the other out of her stiff, uncompromising shoes. Her life stretches out before her, a long walk down an endless road hemmed in on either side by door after closed, splintery door.

Reaching out two pink-lacquered fingers and one pink-lacquered thumb, she delicately lifts up the knocker—brass, cat-shaped, with a tail curled in a circle. When Laurie raps the knocker three times against the base, the tail twitches underneath her fingers.

Read the rest on Patreon.

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PseudoPod 804: Flash on the Borderlands LXI: Dead Man’s Party

Show Notes

“Backers”: “My wife and her friends are obsessed with podcasts about serial killers – something I find it hard to understand. My kids are fans of various chirpy YouTube personalities – something I find it hard to understand. This story is essentially me as an old, out-of-touch man in his mid-30s bashing the two together and seeing what falls out. I do suspect, though, that relentlessly cheerful vloggers might have some hidden dark sides to their personalities.”



“Everybody’s comin’, leave your body at the door”


The Tentacle and You

by John Wiswell


Congratulations on your new tentacle! You’re probably one of the first people in your entire civilization to get this gift, and we know how overwhelming that can feel. That’s why we’ve compiled a few tips to coach you early adopters through the first days of the rest of your lives. Welcome to the fold.

Day one

Already you should feel unprecedented vigor. Pursue whatever naturally drives you. Go body surfing. Wrestle a bear. Sky dive without a parachute. Do sex if that’s your thing. Thanks to the tentacle’s restorative properties, no injury or infection will last more than a few seconds. It’s pretty cool, right? That durability is going to help you over the next week.

The contact area of your tentacle may itch. Refrain from scratching or trying to remove it. Within the first three hours, the tentacle will have bonded with your nervous system such that agitation will cause it to override your motor control. Nobody likes walking around in public with deactivated arms. Spare yourself the embarrassment and embrace your new self. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 803: Them At Number Seventy-Four


Them At Number Seventy-Four

by Lindz McLeod


When body number four is discovered, Mrs Patterson thinks that surely now she and her husband will be caught. Days creep past, then a week. 

Two. 

Three.

Their excitement and relief begins to fade. Once again, the desire blossoms, delicate at first, but growing bolder as the hours and days pass. Over a dinner of chips, peas, and gammon steaks, Mrs Patterson ventures a suggestion that perhaps it’s time they do another. Her husband chews for a moment, points out that there’s another James Bond marathon on this weekend they won’t want to miss. She cedes the point. Seeing her disappointment, he suggests he can’t rule out the possibility they might kill again sooner, if someone suitable pops up. Play it by ear, he says. Pass the salt, please. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 802: Laughter Among the Trees


Laughter Among the Trees

By Suzan Palumbo


The highway to the campground cuts through the granite Laurentian Plateau like a desiccated wound. It’s been twenty five years since I’ve retraced this road and, though the comfort stops along the route have been expanded and stream lined, the forest and rock remain the same; Ancient, silent and unflinching.

I was fourteen when we retreated South West on this stretch to the suburbs of Toronto – me in the back of my parents’ station wagon, the emptiness of Sab’s seat corroding our ability to speak. I couldn’t look through the rear window as we sped away. I didn’t want to acknowledge we were abandoning the search — leaving Sab behind.

 Now, as I pull into a rest stop a hundred kilometres before the park, the nauseating mix of hamburger and exhaust churning my stomach, I know going back for my sister is all I have left. (Continue Reading…)

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PseudoPod 801: The Bear Across the Way


The Bear Across the Way

by Emily Rigole


I paid no more attention to the bear than I would have any new neighbors. Despite what my husband might tell you, the fact that he was a bear played into my curiosity very little. It was his behavior that concerned me. The same behavior that would have concerned me of any new member to our community. And if people had listened to me a little earlier, instead of tiptoeing about trying not to—God forbid—offend the bear, then maybe all this could have been avoided. (Continue Reading…)