It's episode 22 of Season 11, our 2018 Halloween Episode. On this week's show we have six tales celebrating the Halloween Season."Home"† written by Keith McDuffee and performed by Erika Sanderson & Addison Peacock & Peter Lewis. (Story starts around 0:09:59)"The Graveyard Shift"† written by Manen Lyset and performed by Jeff Clement & Matthew Bradford & Andy Cresswell & Penny Scott-Andrews & Jessica McEvoy. (Story starts around 0:18:21)"The Spirit of Halloween"† written by Rona Vaselaar and performed by Jessica McEvoy & Armen Taylor. (Story starts around 0:34:00)"Everyone’s Invited"† written by S.H. Cooper and performed by Corinne Sanders & Nichole Goodnight & Nikolle Doolin & Alexis Bristowe & Kyle Akers. (Story starts around 0:54:56)"I am Ghost"¤ written by Gemma Amor and performed by David Ault & Erika Sanderson & Erin Lillis. (Story starts around 1:15:09)"Hallowed Ground"† written by C.M. Scandreth and performed by Addison Peacock & Graham Rowat & Dan Zappulla & Andy Cresswell & Erika Sanderson. (Story starts around 1:5306)Please visit www.thenosleeppodcast.com for full show notes and links to learn more about our authors, voice actors, and producers.https://www.thenosleeppodcast.com/Executive Producer & Host: David CummingsMusical score composed by: Brandon BooneAudio adaptations produced by: Phil Michalski† & Jeff Clement‡ & Jesse Cornett¤Illustration courtesy of Abby HowardAudio program ©2018 - Creative Reason Media Inc. - All Rights Reserved - No reproduction or use of this content is permitted without the express written consent of Creative Reason Media Inc. The copyrights for each story are held by the respective authors.
It's our Halloween 2017 episode! We have four Halloween tales to celebrate the night of the dead."Ghost Lights"¤ written by S.H. Cooper and performed by Addison Peacock & Atticus Jackson & Nichole Goodnight & Jeff Clement. (Story starts around 00:02:50)"Jack O'Lantern Road"† written by Jacob Healy and performed by Jesse Cornett & Erika Sanderson. (Story starts around 00:23:00)"Bottom of the Barrel"‡ written by Olivia White and performed by Jessica McEvoy & Dan Zappulla & Peter Lewis & Addison Peacock & Nichole Goodnight & Atticus Jackson. (Story starts around 00:38:20)"Voices"† written by Michael Whitehouse and performed by David Cummings & David Ault & Jessica McEvoy & Peter Lewis & Nichole Goodnight & Jeff Clement & Matthew Bradford. (Story starts around 01:26:30)Please visit www.thenosleeppodcast.com for full show notes and links to learn more about our authors, voice actors, and producers.Executive Producer & Host: David CummingsMusical score composed by: Brandon BooneAudio adaptations produced by: Phil Michalski† & Jeff Clement‡ & Jesse Cornett¤Halloween 2017 illustration courtesy of SabuAudio program ©2017 - Creative Reason Media Inc. - All Rights Reserved - No reproduction or use of this content is permitted without the express written consent of Creative Reason Media Inc. The copyrights for each story are held by the respective authors.
When the authorities entered a building in Chicago’s south side in 1895, they weren’t prepared for what they found. Above and below the neighborhood pharmacy was a seemingly never-ending maze of doors and rooms. What those hallways and staircases led to, however, was beyond disturbing. * * * Lore episode 8 was sponsored by: Hover.com: Visit Hover.com to save 10% off your next domain name registration. Just use the offer code BASEMENT. SquareSpace: Go sign up for a free trial today at SquareSpace.com, and when you make your first purchase, use offer code LORE to save 10%. * * * Official Website Novels by Aaron Mahnke
We leave our loved ones there after they’ve passed. We treat the space with reverence and solemn deference. Cemeteries are meant to be a final resting place. Sometimes, though, the ones who should be gone try to come back. * * * Lore episode 17 was sponsored by: Slack: If you're looking for a modern communications tool that will help you eliminate email, give Slack a try. Visit Slack.com/Lore to get your free $100 credit to use toward a future purchase. The Great Courses: Visit TheGreatCourses.com/Lore to save up to 80% off the regular price on 8 best-selling courses, including my favorite, The Art of Storytelling. SquareSpace: Go sign up for a free trial today at SquareSpace.com, and when you make your first purchase, use offer code LORE to save 10%. * * * Official Lore Website Support Lore Novels by Aaron Mahnke
Over the centuries, all sorts of methods have been used to govern people. And while some have been just and humane — such as most modern legal systems — others have been more unusual. Social fear, religious tyranny, and military might. However, few examples stand out as much as the events that took place over a century ago on a small island off the coast of Chile. This episode of Lore was sponsored by: Slack: If you participate in team communications, you need a modern communications tool that will help you eliminate that unmanageable cocktail of email, IM, and text messages. Slack solves that problem, and you should give it a try. Visit Slack.com/lore to get your free $100 credit to use toward a future purchase. Squarespace: Go sign up for a free trial today at Squarespace.com, and when you make your first purchase, use offer code LORE to save 10%. Casper: Visit Casper.com/Lore to save $50 off a mattress of your choice with the offer code LORE. Terms and Conditions Apply. Official Lore Website Support Lore Novels by Aaron Mahnke
Humans have been obsessed with escaping the grasp of death for thousands of years. It’s impossible, of course, but we dream of it nonetheless. Which makes the events in a small Caribbean village all the more horrifying. This episode of Lore was sponsored by: Slack: If you participate in team communications, you need a modern communications tool that will help you eliminate that unmanageable cocktail of email, IM, and text messages. Slack solves that problem, and you should give it a try. Visit Slack.com/lore to get your free $100 credit to use toward a future purchase. Squarespace: Go sign up for a free trial today at Squarespace.com, and when you make your first purchase, use offer code LORE to save 10%. Audible: Choose from over 180,000 amazing audio productions today, and begin your free 30-day trial membership by visiting Audible.com/Lore. Need a book recommendation? Check out my latest novel, Grave Suspicion. Official Lore Website Support Lore Novels by Aaron Mahnke
The bigger the city, the easier it is to miss the little details. Stories of loss, tragedy, and horrifying events have a way of vanishing beneath the bustle of everyday life. And no place is better at hiding away its dark secrets than the Big Apple. * * * This episode of Lore was sponsored by: Harry’s: A great shave at a fair price. Sign up today, and get a free started kit delivered straight to your door, which includes a weighted razor handle, moisturizing shave cream, 3 precision-engineered 5-blade cartridges, and a travel cover. Visit Harrys.com/lore today to get yours. The Great Courses Plus: Hundreds of topics taught by professors and experts, all in one enormous video library. Visit TheGreatCoursesPlus.com/lore to start your free month of membership, and gain unlimited access to their entire lecture library, including my recommendation: Great Mythologies of the World. Stamps.com: Print your own postage and shipping labels from your home or office. Start your 4-week trial today, and claim your $110 bonus offer, which includes postage, a digital scale, and zero commitment. Just visit Stamps.com, click on the microphone in the top-right of the homepage, and type LORE. * * * Official Lore Website: www.lorepodcast.com Extra member episodes: www.patreon.com/lorepodcast Novels by Aaron Mahnke: www.aaronmahnke.com/novels
Every movement has a seed, that spark that sets the fire ablaze. But this spark is more than just a murder mystery, or a treasure hunt, or even a haunting unlike any other. This one is all three. Which may explain why a century and a half later, the world is still reeling from its impact. * * * This episode of Lore was sponsored by: Audible: Audible is offering our listeners a free audiobook with a 30-day trial membership. Just browse the unmatched selection of audio programs, download a free title, and start listening—it’s that easy. To get started today, just visit Audible.com/lore or text “LORE” to 500-500. Squarespace: If you're passionate about it, show it off. Build your own powerful, professional website, with free hosting, zero patches or upgrades, and 24/7 award-winning customer support Build your free trial website today at Squarespace.com/lore, and when you make your first purchase, use offer code LORE to save 10%. Stamps.com: Print your own postage and shipping labels from your home or office. Start your 4-week trial today, and claim your $110 bonus offer, which includes postage, a digital scale, and zero commitment. Just visit Stamps.com, click on the microphone in the top-right of the homepage, and type LORE. * * * The Lore book series: www.theworldoflore.com/books The Lore TV show: www.Amazon.com/Lore Latest Lore news: www.theworldoflore.com/now
Author : Thomas Ligotti Narrator : Anson Mount Host : Anson Mount Audio Producer : Chelsea Davis Discuss on Forums The Town Manager was first published in Weird Tales, September-October 2003 The Town Manager by Thomas Ligotti One gray morning not long before the onset of winter, some troubling news swiftly travelled among us: the town manager was not in his office and seemed nowhere to be found. We allowed this situation, or apparent situation, to remain tentative for as long as we could. This was simply how we had handled such developments in the past. It was Carnes, the man who operated the trolley which ran up and down Main Street, who initially recognized the possibility that the town manager was no longer with us. He was the first one who noticed, as he was walking from his house at one end of town to the trolley station at the other end, that the dim lamp which had always remained switched on inside the town manager’s office was now off. The post PseudoPod 605: The Town Manager appeared first on PseudoPod.
Author : Evan Marcroft Narrator : Kris Straub Host : Alasdair Stuart Audio Producer : Marty Perrett Discuss on Forums PseudoPod 590: Emperor All is a PseudoPod original. Emperor All By Evan Marcroft It is like X-ray vision. Like in the comic books from when he was ten. John blinks the rain out of his eyes, and suddenly he can see through the mugger, through his shellacking of wet muscle and scaffolding of bone to the chassis beneath, to the gears and flywheels that make him move and point the knife at him. John reaches through a yielding mist of sinew and makes key refurbishments, so that the knife is aimed at the mugger’s own throat. He unscrews the man’s skull and with an easy tinkering makes him the saddest he’s ever been, plugs bright blaring red thoughts into his head. A moment later he steps over the body and splashes across the parking lot, trembling giddily. He can’t remember where he left his car, and the city is dark. Instead he auditions the cars lined up on either side of him until he finds one that is better than his own, and makes it his. It is unlocked when he tries the handle, and when it snarls to life (with just his touch) his favorite song is playing on the radio. The traffic lights are all green on the drive home. The police are all at other crimes as the speedometer needle roars past sixty. That night John makes love to his wife Naomi with a ferocity he didn’t have before. She claws his back and coos that he is the best any woman could ever have. She has never said anything like that before. He can’t tell her yet what has changed. Any phrasing sounds insane. That night, John dreams dreams of concrete, wires, and riveted steel. The next morning John awakes, his mind boiling with ideas. Hair combed, tie straight, fortified with coffee, he walks into the office and sits in the company president’s big black leather chair, and when the president comes in John tells him that he is fired and grins as the fat fuck begs for his miserable job before sending him away in tears. For a long ten minutes he sits at his mile-long desk, drumming his fingers, before realizing that he is thinking small, and leaves in his new convertible, formerly the president’s. Back at home he turns on the television and stares at the news until suddenly the pretty blonde newspuppet is excitedly announcing that this just in the winner of the city lottery is him, with the numbers one two three four on a ticket he never bought. He can feel first-hand the truth swimming against time and causality, salmon-like, tweaking the screws of the universe to fit him more snugly. All the proper official lottery people abruptly agree with the news lady, and always had agreed, and are scrambling to come right now with a giant movie cheque. Now he has all the money he’ll ever need forever. John reclines in his chair to bask in the comfort of infinite wealth. But, still, that itching discontent. Same problem. Same spot itched. Then he thinks of the vehicle parked in his driveway, worth more than this house, how some clerk somewhere is now putting his name on its registration without really knowing why, and understands: He is in control now. What does he need money for? Dollars are how you ask for things. You don’t ask for what is already yours. After a week of experimentation, John concludes that he isn’t a god. There are boundaries to what he can do. The principle one is distance. John discovers quickly that everything outside city limits is beyond him. He becomes people on the highway leading out, to see how far his dominion extends, and counts the miles it takes them to go dark. Neither can he make miracles, in the biblical definition. He can’t wish diamonds into his pockets in a puff of pixie dust. His impulses actualize only as quickly as the city’s millions can manage. He can pile coincidences together like bricks and stress probability, but unless he pushes very hard, his inquisitive, innocent little wishes must still come true within the logic of the city, slowed by bureaucracy and faulty infrastructure and simple human error. Yet John is not as disappointed by all of this as he thought he would be. The city feels enough for him. More than he thought he’d get, certainly. And tripping over the coffee table one morning, he is relieved to know he can still bleed. John is doing anything he ever wanted to do. He wins tickets to every concert that tours through. He is the guest at every movie premier, sitting right up front between the tuxedo’d stars. He has that pretty barista at the Starbucks by his old office give him head behind the counter just like he’s always fantasized, but thinks of Naomi afterwards, and doesn’t have her do any more. Feeling guilty, he drives Naomi up to the hills and parks her in a mansion overlooking his city, one with a shiny new butler waiting to be switched on and more pool than they know what to do with. He fills every room with the latest everything. Every day she wonders, agog, how all of this could happen, and with a laugh, John flicks the question from her head like a gob of lint. Bewildered, but happy, she lives on his arm. There is something he has been keeping to his chest, a dinner at the most glamorous restaurant in the city. There, with gemstones winking in her ears, smiling brightly across her neck, she tells him that she loves him. And for the first time, John knows absolutely that it is true. As weeks evolve into months, and John wears a groove in his throne, he begins to question. Why? How? He spends more and more of his infinite time exploring the city that is inexplicably his, in ways only he can. Video games and automobiles have slowly lost their shine. They are things anyone can enjoy. Only he is privy to reality of reality, to the architecture fundamental to the architecture. He knows now what forces draw pigeons to shit on statues. He can see the conveyer belts that all men and women are born onto, how every step of their lives is denoted on a blueprint of galactic complexity. It is all very mathematic. Very designed. Down to the dust that crusts on a car’s windshield, everything is, under the skin, a gear biting into a quintillion more gears, a subatomic speck of one great machine. When John wants for something, he spins the right gear and the whole city revolves–clanging, swearing, hissing smoke--in kind to bring his wish to him. Each towering postmodern tooth of the skyline is a puzzle of pistons and quarkical cogwheels, and John knows what each of them does. So what is he then? A god, like he used to think? Is this heaven? Has he somehow tumbled off his own set of tracks and seen that the scenery is painted plywood, to be shuffled about as he deems best? Is he something that no words fit? Anything is possible, John is learning. He has found many impossible things in the city already. There is space folded under space by some nuance of physics as of yet unnamed. There are strange creatures living strange lives just below the human spectrum of perceptions. They scavenge on lost time and confusion, and each other. In the city’s dank cracks John uncovers cultures alien to anything on Earth, of men and not-exactly-men. He observes them perform what he is tempted to call magic, but can’t quite. They are aware of him, too, in a small way; some run from his panopticon’s gaze, or hide in futility. Others worship him through obscene displays of liturgy. They make him wonder if he has inherited these powers, this city, or if he has been elected into them through some unknowably cyphered vote. Perhaps before his reign there was another city-king, now dead. Indeed, sometimes he detects in the scaffolding of his demesne hints of artifice–lingering echoes of craftsmanship not his own. But these hypotheses only beget more unanswerable questions, ones that John does not like to dwell on for long. John leaves the strange things be. He doesn’t care to understand them. If he was not cognizant of them before, he needn’t be now. And they are still only more subjects. Every now and then John attempts–always in vain–to expand the borders of his city. But, inevitably, these sudden public works projects all collapse for various contrived reasons outside of his influence. Perhaps with sustained effort, he thinks, but can’t commit to finding out how long that would take. Or perhaps he isn’t as strong as he will be, in time. This last notion satisfies him. He sleeps with a contented smile, certain that there will be no end of things to do. But sometimes it niggles at him, that chance that there were others like him–or that there still are. A king for every city, with power where he has none. Is that why he can’t move outwards? Is someone keeping him in? John has only sparingly left the city, and his desire to do so shrivels almost overnight. He busies himself with sex and games. When Naomi pesters him to take a vacation somewhere balmy, or wintry if he likes, he snatches the idea from her and throws it away. She screams for days without knowing why, until John takes pity and makes her sunny again, the way he likes her. A whole year is behind him. John is eating at the most glamorous restaurant in the city, alone. This is the fifth time this month, and he has grown sick of it. But he has hit an extravagance ceiling, and has no other choice. Everywhere else is beneath him. The mirror of his wine glass reminds him that he has grown paunchy. His jowls rankle him. Yet he can never summon the verve to exercise anymore. The only thing swimming in his pool is frogs. There is nothing he needs done that he must do himself. His wife doesn’t care what he looks like. And neither do the other women, for that matter. Out of ennui he has taken to crawling into random beds and making a wife of whatever females he finds there for a night or two. He rationalizes this by remodeling them into a second Naomi for as long as he is inside them, but his guilt has all but run dry. He still feels affection for her, certainly, and continues to lavish her with her heart’s daily desires, but feels the need for her company less and less. She is becoming yet another used-up luxury item gathering dust in his house, and it has proven beyond his omnipotence to make her interesting. John puts his fork down, and washes his throat with wine. This last bite was the last he can stand. Perhaps tomorrow he’ll have the place burned down, in the hope that he’ll want it again by the time it’s rebuilt. But as John stands and makes to leave, something unprecedented happens: he is stopped. There is a waiter suddenly in his way, requesting politely but firmly that he pay his bill. John irritably makes himself the restaurant’s owner, effective as of ten minutes ago, with the effort it takes to scratch an itch, but still the man refuses to budge. You are not the owner of this establishment he retorts, affronted, flying in the face of fact. A respected patron, but not the owner. John’s voice is hoarse from disuse. He has little incentive to speak these days, save to Naomi, at their dwindling meals together. Everyone else is just another arm. “Then who is?” In reply the waiter glances discreetly past his shoulder; John turns to follow his gaze. The far end of the restaurant is swamped in a fug of cigar smoke. The lights are turned down low, for the ambiance. He can’t quite discern the face of the man who sits by himself near the kitchen door–the man, the lean man in an acute-angled suit, who ever so subtly nods in acknowledgement, and tips a snifter of something to his lips. There is an ice-toed centipede on John’s neck. He does not think, but simply explodes at the man, meaning to drown him in the immensity of his disembodied self. But his tentacles snap shut around nothing. If John weren’t seeing him, he would swear there was nobody there at all. John leaves stiff-leggedly, shouldering past the waiter who has gone plastic as a mannequin, already steering his chauffeur to the curb to pick him up. He riffles through every soul in a mile radius, just to know that he still can. They are there, and for a moment he is relieved, but there is nothing inside of them to take hold of and puppeteer, no cracks to worm inside of. They are all solid stone, and there is nothing he can do about it. They belong to someone else. Inside the warmth of his limousine, John falls on to his side and hugs his knees to his chest. He is no longer in control. Everything he feared has come to pass. John has a rival. There is no other option. It is already war. John does not waste time speculating how this other man may have come to be. Whether he has come from another city to seize this one for his own, or some cosmic misfire spawned two city-gods instead of one, it doesn’t matter. His existence is an open sore, intolerable; there cannot be two of him. The first order of business is to reconfigure his house into a fortress capable of withstanding whatever the other man throw against him. He requisitions citizens from their occupations to his estate in snaking lines of ants, arming them from the gun stores and personal stockpiles he empties. He concentrates until his windows are barred and bulletproof and there is a panic room of dense steel in his cellar. The neighbors are either evicted or given a psychological reshingling to make them better soldiers. Once this is done, he gathers himself into an anvilhead and sweeps down the hills into the city like a pyroclastic avalanche, seeding his will in every soul caught in his swathe. They become his eyes and ears, whole boroughs of unknowing spies. It was a cowardly mistake to flee from his rival at the restaurant. He should have laid him low him while he had the chance, with his own hands if he had to. He is out of sight now–a snake in the grass. Infinitely more dangerous. But although he knows this, for all his preparation, John is unprepared. A runaway truck T-bones a parked cop car, killing two of his agents. A sudden fever of arson immolates a score of them. More are gunned down in a workplace shooting. John experiences each death as a maiming. The pain, the shame of weakness, sharpens his mind. He learns quickly to identify by feel those that his enemy has seized; they are detritus stuck in the gears of his city, impairing the manufacture of his design. His foe must have been subtly amassing them from those blind-spots where John did not bother to exert control directly, never acting contrary to his will until the time was right to strike. John curses himself for not noticing them sooner. His complacency could very well have killed him. He bides his time, sacrificing a handful of limbs to elaborate the illusion of weakness, sneaking pieces into position, before striking back. A car dealership is pipe-bombed. A homeless man sets fire to a supermarket. The idea is denial of resources. His foe’s agents need to eat. John applauds himself for this strategy. Taking the long view, it will be far more effective than taking pot shots at his enemy in the street. He will whittle his forces down to stubs, smoke the man from whatever hole he cowers in, and crush him under heel like he would a rat. Then one morning he awakes to the staccato of approaching gunfire. There is slaughter in the sloping streets. As The Enemy hacks fingers and digs eyes from his body John sees his error in bleak clarity. In fortifying his home as thoroughly as he did, John has made himself a landmark. The Enemy has been playing him all along, allowing him an edge in the war so that he will forget there is no war if John is dead. He escapes the smoldering skeleton of his house with singed hair, a hysterical wife, and a rancid hate in his throat. John is in hiding. Wounded but alive, and stronger than before. For every time The Enemy fails to kill him he learns a lesson. The city is everywhere a battleground. Nowhere is safe. Skyscrapers have become barracks where unknowing soldiers wait to be sent out to die in the no-man’s-lands that are the streets in between. Every pedestrian is a potential assassin, and spontaneous massacres break out like acne across the city’s face. The public sees this all as an inexplicable crime wave, ignorant of their new purpose. Both sides vie for hospitals and other logistic necessities. What they cannot take, they destroy. What they lose, they destroy. It is better to let one’s field’s burn than let The Enemy have one bite from them. The strange things of the city have been enlisted, and fight underground skirmishes of a kind that would drive men mad at witnessing. When John runs low on weaponry he begins to import guns from outside the city, and so his enemy moves to intercept them, and it is not long before the city is valved off from the world by the battles of attrition consuming its roads and highways. John knows that with no supplies coming into the city the war must end soon. When there are no more bullets, no more working cars to kamikaze, one side will have to give. As their fluid armies wage their guerilla warfare, as schools are shot up week after week and police stations are bombed to lawful dust, so too do John and his nemesis take the their fight subcutaneous, down into the city’ staging. John gets into the city’s teeming universe of bacteria to make The Enemy’s food supply rot that much quicker. It is not enough, and so he goes deeper, prying and teasing and massaging physics to see what complies. He finds a way to make electricity itself more volatile, and from then on the city’s lights flicker tempestuously. He can sense his enemy’s uncertainty in the stratagems that ensue. He knows that he has irreversibly changed the rules of the game. And as the city deteriorates, as their legions thin, John is certain the end is near. In the end it did not take long for his enemy, under the duress of the war, to break into the same enlightenment that John discovered. In what he must assume to be years The Enemy has wrought terrible changes in the city. The air is thinner these days. John never deduced what The Enemy had done to cause that, but he can only dimly remember a tree that wasn’t strangled bare. And there are no seasons anymore, just a pervading gray between the horizons, as though the city has been concreted off. Time has broken free of the minute and hour hands; night is but a blushing of the sunless sky, and comes in stuttering fits. All public facilities have long since broken down, as the men and women who could maintain them were called away to fight and die. There is water when it rains, and that is not often. There are no police, and no law to need them. With no doctors left and no hospitals still standing, disease wastes almost as much of John’s forces as The Enemy does, although the inverse is also true. They have long ago extinguished electricity altogether, to deny the advantage of it to each other. No-one is making clothes, and so both armies are nude. There are no more guns, so they fight with knives and bones and jags of ruin. They make stinking tent camps among the mossy ruins of the skyscrapers that once pushed the city’s borders towards the sky. The war is a saw-blade of victories and tragedies. One disastrous misstep leaves John’s citizen-militia perilously thin, and so he breeds his populace together frenziedly to replace them while an elite force holds the front lines. No-one but they are exempt. For months his streets are cacophonic with ecstatic moans. In an eye-blink of ten-some years his forces are restored to full might. The weak, disabled, and dead are recycled to fuel those remaining, for the sake of efficiency. So it goes. John checks on his wife from time to time. She has grown frail trapped in their secret palace underground. All of the friends John gave her over the years have been conscripted to the war effort for want of real soldiers. The plastic surgeries that keep her looking twenty, then thirty, forty, when John still had time to mate with her, are unraveling. She has read all the books in the palace until they fell apart, and watched all the movies until the power went out for good. For a while he had music played for her, but there are no more musicians. So mostly Naomi sleeps, and combs her thin, white hair, and polishes the worthless little baubles in her room, and screams at the walls, and organizes her closet over and over and over again. John is satisfied with this state of being. She is both safe and comfortable. Except, now she is doing none of those things she always does. Now, it seems, she has packed a suitcase and is dragging it down many flights of candle-lit stairs to the chamber from where John directs the war. She is gulping air by the time she appears at the door-less aperture of his war room. John does not stir at her arrival. He has not felt the need to move at all in some time. Others bring him food and water, and take his shit away in pails. He glimpses the state of himself through her, feels her swallow her terror at how his body has evolved to accommodate his unbound will. His finger and toenails, the color of scab, have grown into the bare floor, and worm ever more thickly through it like roots. His neck has sprouted into a veiny trunk from which the unraveled threads of his head in turn branch into a fleshy canopy. Twigs of spiraled cartilage and brain blur into invisibility where they interface with the hardware of reality. His eyes dangle on withered stems. John hears her sanity creak beneath the weight of him. It is a shame she cannot appreciate the beauty of it. He is becoming design and designer both, a sublime, monadic will. Soon he will have no body but the city. “John,” she says. “I’m done, John. I’m leaving.” But she is not. She has threatened this before, but she knows that it is impossible. There is no way out of the city. “John, please. Let me go. I don’t care anymore.” She must be patient. They have come this far already, and lost so much. Victory is nigh, and no matter how broken the city is, it can be fixed. No matter the millions dead, they can be bred back to life, stronger than ever before. He is breaking all the old rules. He is between the atoms of the city now, and there he knows that here he will find a way to kill The Enemy once and finally. The machine can be repaired, and the wish that it will make real for them is for everything to be as it was. “John, please. Listen to yourself. Do you even know what you’re saying? Do you… do you even know you’re talking?” There are dark masses upon the distances that grow larger with every passing day. The other cities are coming. They are finally coming, as he always knew they would, skittering ravenously across the country on legs of annexation and urban renovation, leaving snail-trails of temporary causeway in their wakes. They see him weak, and think this is their moment to pounce and devour him. And maybe he is weak, but an animal is most dangerous when it has nowhere to run. Fine. Let them come. When they dig their teeth into him he will breach like a dying whale and crush them beneath him. He will become all they are, and from the rubble, from bloody silt, from radioactive smoke, will rise something greater than his city, greater than any city. Tears drip through the wrinkles in his wife’s face. “Please John. I don’t care about any of that. I’m begging you. It hurts, John. Let me go. Please. Please. Please.” John is growing distracted, so he tears away her capacity to worry any longer and devours it. He hears, faintly, an unvoiced scream petering off into the bleeding emptiness in her mind. A pity that she still could not understand. Great things are founded upon hardship and sacrifice. Happiness must be fought for, tooth and nail, bled for until you’re brittle-dry. What empire ever stood on peace? This is how I build my Rome, my love. This is how I build my Xanadu. We have walked our forty years, you and I. Give me one more day. I will make it all sunny again. Just the way you like it. The post PseudoPod 590: Emperor All appeared first on Pseudopod.
Author : James Tiptree Jr. Narrator : Amy H. Sturgis Host : Lisa Yaszek Audio Producer : Chelsea Davis Discuss on Forums Beyond the Dead Reef originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, January 1983 Beyond the Dead Reef by James Tiptree, Jr My informant was, of course, spectacularly unreliable. The only character reference I have for him comes from the intangible nuances of a small restaurant-owner’s remarks, and the only confirmation of his tale lies in the fact that an illiterate fishing-guide appears to believe it. If I were to recount all the reasons why no sane mind should take it seriously, we could never begin. So I will only report the fact that today I found myself shuddering with terror when a perfectly innocent sheet of seaworn plastic came slithering over my snorkeling-reef, as dozens have done for years—and get on with the story. I met him one evening this December at the Cozumel Buzo, on my first annual supply trip. As usual, the Buzo’s outer rooms were jammed with tourist divers and their retinues and gear. That’s standard. El Buzo means, roughly, The Diving, and the Buzo is their place. Marcial’s big sign in the window reads “DIVVERS UELCOME! BRING YR FISH WE COK WITH CAR. FIRST DRINK FREE!” The post PseudoPod 603: Beyond the Dead Reef appeared first on PseudoPod.
Author : Dirck de Lint Narrator : Rish Outfield Host : Alasdair Stuart Audio Producer : Marty Perrett Discuss on Forums PseudoPod 592: Free Balloons for All Good Children is a PseudoPod original. Blink RoadKill Desserts “This story came about because the balloon described in it drifted past my window at work. Because a balloon floating five feet off the ground on a grey day in early October is so unlikely, my first thought was naturally that it was something horrible up to no good at all. It went away… eventually, after hanging around near a bus stop for far longer than seemed quite right. I don’t know what it was actually up to, but I’d like to thank the mystery balloon for the inspiration it provided. The story was also an attempt to exorcise a vapour I developed about seven years ago– what if I become incapacitated while I’m the only parent on hand for my tender tot? I’m sorry to report that the exorcism has not really worked.” Free Balloons for All Good Children by Dirck de Lint Tom gave the stroller a little nudge to turn Danny out of the sun. Danny responded by wriggling around under the straps to put himself as much in the sun as possible. Tom smiled at this, and found that he couldn’t really blame his son. The day was a little chilly for so late in May, and if he was enjoying the warmth of the sun it stood to reason that Danny would, too. He was very close to just putting the stroller back the way it had been. There was some uncertainty in his heart, though, about how far Danny could be trusted to look out for his own safety even now that he was above a year old. When, he wondered, did they stop staring right at the sun if given a chance? Danny underlined the thought by pulling his hat off and flinging it toward the grass next to the park bench. “C’mon, kid,” Tom said, leaning over to reach for the hat. “Daddy wants to enjoy his lunch, too.” Tom had fed Danny before they left; diced carrots and chicken, and their inevitable fallout, were best dealt with at home. Now Tom could enjoy a sandwich in the open air, while Danny waved at flowers and sang in his own secret language. When the sandwich was done, Tom’s plan was that he and Danny would finish their walk to the park’s playground, where he would push The Best Son In The World on the swings until either the boy or his diaper had had enough. “Da!” Danny leaned forward in his stroller, arms outstretched, and Tom followed his line of sight to see what was so interesting. There was a balloon drifting toward them, the cool breeze urging it slowly along. “Da! Gib!” The consonant was not quite there, but Tom recognized the command. He sat a moment longer, considering the balloon while he chewed the current mouthful. It was the basic round sort of balloon, a medium blue with pale five-pointed stars on it which had probably been silver before inflation. It trailed a salmon-coloured ribbon from its stem, the curled end hanging about the height of his own waist above the park’s grass. It was an odd thing to see, Tom thought, a balloon scudding along at a constant altitude. He had never seen an untethered helium balloon which had not raced up and away. One of his own earliest memories was of a red balloon his grandmother had given him, receding upward to become a mere dot against a bright summer sky. Perhaps the coolness of the day was affecting the buoyancy of this one, or perhaps it was an old balloon near the end of its wandering, interior pressure low. “Gib! Gib me! Gib!” Tom looked at his son, the little face radiant with glee and innocent desire. The stroller was ballasted by a diaper bag crammed with toddler requisites, virtually eliminating any chance of it tipping as Danny reached out, so Tom watched and waited. It seemed that the balloon might come right to Danny’s hand as it sloped along across the grass, almost as if it were tacking on the breeze to obey the child’s summons. The moment before it was close enough for Danny to grab, there was a little gust which shoved it to the far side of the stroller. Danny strained for it so vigorously that Tom put a hand on the nearer arm-rest to steady it, while the curling ribbon rotated so that it was very nearly grazed by the questing little fingers before it was swept past. “Da! Da! Gib!” Danny was twisting in the seat, a note of desperation entering his voice. Tom rose, setting his sandwich down on its wax paper, next to the thermos. “Hang on, buddy. Daddy will get it.” He gave the stroller a little turn, so that Danny could better witness his father’s heroics. It took only a couple of steps and he could stretch out his left hand to snatch the ribbon. Smiling, he turned to hand the oddly literal windfall to his son, who clapped in delight and laughed the purely joyful laugh of his age. Tom found his turn suddenly arrested, his left arm wrenched backward. But no, not backward… upward. He looked up at the balloon, saw no apparent change in it except that its ribbon was twanging taut as it somehow lifted with enough force to make him uncertain in his footing. His feet slipping a little on the ground, he released his grip more by instinct than thought. His hand did not open. His thumb came away from the top of his index finger, but the fingers remained closed, sticking to the ribbon like a tongue on an icy pole. Almost immediately, when he was no longer actively gripping the ribbon, he felt the skin of his palm and fingers slide across the flesh underneath and he heard a tiny velvet rip from inside his unwilling fist. He screamed at the pain that ran down his arm ahead of the tiny trickle of blood. It was instinct again that sent his right hand to reach up, to try and pull himself free. Thought raced after instinct this time, stopping him just before he grabbed the ribbon, freezing him with the sudden realization that he would then have both hands stuck fast to this monstrous trap. In that moment of hesitation, with both arms upraised, he saw the end of the ribbon hanging below his bloody fist, the part that had not touched skin but only the cuff of his jacket, begin groping sideways, almost beckoning the free hand. He snatched his right arm down. He looked around the park. Toward the lot where he had left the car, there was no one. In the other direction, a hedge made all the parents in the playground indistinct. No one there would hear him calling for help over the sounds of their own children playing. He hesitated to move, fearful that he might manage to launch himself. Beside him was Danny, who was still looking up at the balloon in gleeful anticipation, his little teeth gleaming in a delighted smile, his little hands both raised to take the treat from his father. The pain in Tom’s hand and arm was all but extinguished by the thought of what would have happened but for the flirt of wind which kept those tiny, tender hands from clapping onto the drifting ribbon. Tom was a tall man and overweight with it, and the thing was almost able to lift him. That thought cutting through the pain allowed other thoughts in its wake. He remembered the Swiss army knife he carried, along with his keys, in his pocket. His right-hand pocket, a realization which brought such relief that he uttered a single sob as he fished it out. Danny began shouting “Gib! Gib!” with increasing urgency. Tom took a careful step away from the stroller, trying one-handed to open the big blade on the knife. It tumbled from his grasp, falling end-on to the walkway, leaving shards of red plastic on the pavement as it bounced into the short grass under the bench. He slowly dropped to his knees, the act of dragging the balloon down after him bringing new waves of agony to his palm and making his breath come short and quick. He scrabbled for the knife, peering through the slats of the bench, blinking away tears. He almost knocked it further back, to where he would have to bend even lower or crawl to the back of the bench to get it, but got a finger on it and pinned it where he could, with a small stretch, get his hand around it. Danny was starting to whine, working up to crying. He was struggling to get loose from the stroller again, alternately pushing against it and reaching out toward the balloon. Now that Tom was kneeling, the ribbon was at a convenient height for Danny, and he strove to reach it with all his might. Tom braced the knife against the leg of the bench, and managed to lever the blade out. He found he had cut his index finger on its second joint at some point in the process, a deep cut which bled freely and which he could hardly feel at all over the greater pain in the other hand. Gritting his teeth, he hauled down on the ribbon, bending his arm at the elbow so he could reach to cut the ribbon without the ribbon reaching him. He had a momentary thought of pulling down far enough that he could stab the balloon. That was followed by dark imaginings and flashes of awful prescience. His face would touch the ribbon. He would slip, fall sideways, and tangle Danny in it. The balloon would pop at the touch of the knife to shower him and Danny with something unspeakable. He shook off the notion, and began to slice at the rigid salmon line above his hand. The ribbon was tough, and the trailing end was definitely trying for his right hand as he worried at it with the knife. Danny was shrieking now, words forgotten, his face contorted with frustrated rage. The wheels of the stroller left the ground, left side then right, as the child jerked against the belts that held him. At last the ribbon parted, a thick dribble of something warm and looking like greenish mustard running onto the blade and the fingers of Tom’s right hand. The stub above his fist fell onto the backs of his fingers where it stuck instantly, and he held his arm out to the side as the trailing end coiled and writhed. The balloon shot upward, a dark replay of his childhood memory. Danny howled, no longer reaching up, merely watching the object of his desire escape. Tom looked at his left hand. Blood seeped from under his fingers, forming fat slow drops that fell onto the pavement or rolled to join the stain on his cuff. He could not slow his breathing. His whole arm felt raw. The quivering of pain and exhaustion still animated the remaining loose curl of ribbon, but it seemed to no longer move on its own. He lurched behind the stroller, grabbing one handle with the stained hand which still held the knife, looping his left thumb onto the other. He trotted toward the car, wanting to get into the shelter it offered, wanting to use its hands-free features to call for help; his phone was in his left hip pocket, and he could not think of any way to reach it. As he went, he glanced back at the bench. Beyond it, the air was thick with balloons, all slowly drifting toward the playground. His screams blended with Danny’s as his trot became a dash. The post PseudoPod 592: Free Balloons for All Good Children appeared first on PseudoPod.
Author : Jon Padgett Narrator : Dagny Paul Host : Alasdair Stuart Audio Producer : Marty Perrett Discuss on Forums A Little Delta of Filth was first published in Walk on the Weird Side A Little Delta of Filth by Jon Padgett to the memory of Conrad Aiken I It could make her invisible. Untouchable. The thought came back years later like the distant melody of church bells, familiar and comforting. The moment she found the thing, she knew it was indescribable. Remote from parents, lovers and friends alike. It was her own, held close from other eyes, from other fingers. Invisible. Untouchable. The impossible thing tied itself into pleasing, intricate knots within her as she sat in the conference workshop hall. She was attending a seminar on disaster response. The speaker, a Mr. Cardin, twirled his laser pointer in lazy circles upon the chandeliered ceiling. The synthetic crystals twinkled with red, refracted light above the crowd. The question and answer part of the presentation had begun. Mr. Cardin explained why hosting servers should have the capacity and power to be used by dozens if not hundreds of simultaneous users. A man with a bright green shirt and a thicket of white hair raised a hand like a small shovel. He argued that a simple disaster-related directory sufficed in a mid-scale emergency. Mr. Cardin shook his head, salt and pepper curls dancing, and his sparkling eyes squinted as if in pain. “They are a nightmare to maintain as the crisis continues, despite their creators’ best efforts. So no, no. I’m sorry. Bad idea.” The green shirted man’s neck turned crimson. An unconscious, collective wince rippled throughout the audience. She did not notice, though. She was thinking of the labyrinthine, concrete ditch that ran next to her childhood home. It wound around and underneath the entire neighborhood and beyond. Mr. Cardin brought up a raging, desert wildfire that sent millions of residents fleeing their homes. But she only half listened to him, absorbed in the memory of her secret as if easing into a hot spring. Now Mr. Cardin brought up terrible floods in the heartland. There was flooding that spring long ago too. The ditch that ran beside her parents’ white, brick ranch-style roared with rushing water. She listened, closing her eyes, huddled in the mildewed carport with the cats and the spiders. Afterwards, for days, the ditch ran with brown, clogged water. She spent the following overcast afternoons walking up and down above the length of the ditch, watching the manmade river recede, soaking by degrees into the unknown, subterranean spaces below. The next Saturday–yes, it was a Saturday, she recalled–the ditch-way was dry once again. But the recent flooding had transformed it. The light gray concrete was stained a scintillating copper as if sprinkled with glitter. A magical, high-walled highway opened to her as she slid down into it on her bare feet. (Mr. Cardin said, “Surviving the chaos of disaster related Information and Referral.” The back of the green shirted, shovel-handed man’s thicket of white hair bobbed up and down like a boat on choppy waters.) It was noon when she found it. She was resting from her ditch-exploration in front of the round O of a drainage pipe. Her father had warned those pipes might contain dangerous bugs, toxic chemicals, practically anything. She closed her eyes, breathing in the tunnel’s dankness. The cooler air trickled out to spill upon her warm face and bare legs. Then she decided to play a game with herself: exploring the nearby ditch floor with her eyes still closed. She would determine–by touch alone—what her hands found there. Almost immediately, she encountered a small triangle of muck on the ditch floor. The thing, she imagined in her mind’s eye, was small and black and red. It felt like dozens of wet, tiny rocks or shattered beads or bones–perhaps multi-colored pieces of the ditch itself. The condensed leftovers of the recent flooding. After a moment’s hesitation, she pushed her right index finger down into the muck. It slid into cold ground below it. (Mr. Cardin said, “…able to input information received from local authorities into the product.”) It wasn’t just a mound of trash and rocks on the ditch floor–it was a crack within the floor of the ditch itself! Who knew how deep the crack might reach? She giggled and pushed her finger down further, leaning over the filth. She experimented with inserting additional fingers. Then her whole hand. Then her forearm all the way down to her elbow. Her eyes clenched closed with a delicious horror as she realized she couldn’t feel her submerged limb at all. She imagined the little delta of filth and the hungry soil below it stretching out her skin, her bones, her bloody parts, drawing them into itself. To be consumed by the ditch–by the ditch beneath the ditch. But when, with a spasm of fear and delight, her eyes opened, she found that the numb limb was whole, resting against her now upright body. The triangle of muck itself was nowhere at all–the copper-colored, concrete slabs of ditch in front of her warm and solid to the touch. Had she dreamed it? Impossible. Her hand and arm up to the elbow was numb. It was as if she had fallen asleep upon it and woke up with a useless appendage, but–no–she could still move her arm. She wagged fingers in front of her astonished face. There was no panic, no worry of any kind. This was a decidedly pleasant lack of feeling. It was almost as if her arm was still submerged below the surface of the ditch floor. Like it was nothing at all. She spent the rest of that day marveling at her phantom hand. The fingers that glided back and forth in front of her face looked no different than the fingers on her left hand. But — and this was the most amusing, almost absurd aspect of the experience — the movements of her phantom arm and fingers seemed disconnected from the rest of her body, so much so that they could almost belong to any stranger… or any ghost. And when she experimented with touching her left hand and then her own face with her phantom hand, her amusement and sense of awe redoubled. The clammy fingers on her arm, on her face did not feel at all like her own. But they were hers to control at will, like a remote-control robot’s appendage. She dared herself to close her eyes again and see if she could rediscover the little delta of filth. But no–she decided to extend the game further. In the meanwhile, she would savor the magic of the day, the ditch, the crack leading to unknown depths. Tomorrow she would return. The numbness fell into a tingling sensation by nightfall. By the next morning her arm and fingers felt normal again. But the experience in the ditch was so deliciously odd. Of course, she returned the next day to the same spot in the ditch, which had deepened in color to a kind of burnt orange. Her breath catching with anticipation, she closed her eyes and reached down to the numbing spot in which she knew the crack in the ditch, in the world, would open. But she couldn’t find it. She tried again, closer to the drainage pipe this time, but had no luck. Hours passed filled with frustration, pain and–finally–panic. How wretched is the terror of misplacing something precious. A worn stuffed animal, a note from a secretly adored classmate. She left the ditch that evening, palms and knees scratched and bruised from an afternoon of crawling on concrete, eyes tightly shut. She had searched, unseeing, all along the surface of the ditch. Her gasps and sobs of frustration echoed within the concrete depths of the drainage pipes. (Mr. Cardin described how a river levee was breached and one hundred downtown city blocks were submerged. The green shirted man again held up his shovel of a hand, which had, she noticed, one too many fingers.) As the years ticked by following her remarkable ditch discovery, the details faded. They grew tinier and tinier in her memory until she dismissed them altogether as a waking daydream, a mere fancy of the girl she had been before terrestrial experience and time extracted stillness from all her days to come. But then the National Disaster Network selected her small, childhood city as their annual conference spot. The morning after her late-night flight, she drove a rental car to her old street, to her old house… to the ditch behind it. And she found the thing again. No, she rediscovered it there. And more. Afterwards, she had returned to the conference hotel in a muffled daze. She viewed the world around her as if from underwater. Ripples of sparkling glass now appeared between herself and the escalators and suitcase pushers, the social workers and dull-eyed administrators. Later, in her box of a room, she closed her eyes and heard distant bells. Bells from deep beneath the earth, perhaps under the water. The miracle she had experienced as a child again spoke through those bells. Invisible. Untouchable. The chiming resolved all at once into the ringing of her cell phone. “Deirdre,” her boss said when she finally answered, “where have you been? You know you missed the disaster committee meeting, right?” How could she explain what she had seen earlier that day and how she felt, to her boss or–for that matter–anyone? She couldn’t. She wouldn’t try. The thing was hers to keep. Deirdre apologized, feigning illness. It was a perfunctory excuse, one she was sure her boss didn’t buy, but Deirdre didn’t care. She smiled as small, cool fingers caressed her face. Her hands, her arms couldn’t feel a thing. II Earlier that day, before Mr. Cardin’s presentation, Deirdre drove to her childhood home. She noticed the greater foliage up and down the streets. Many of the parking lots in front of shabby shops were empty. She observed a light brown building, shuttered, with a “Shield of Faith” marquee near the street. So many more building fronts appeared dotting the roadway with no signs at all. And many buildings she recalled were gone now–replaced with messy flora. It was as if her hometown had devolved, as if the landscape to which it belonged was drawing the mill town back into itself. That old bar, Bronco Billy’s, passed by, one of the few establishments she recognized. It was closer to Municipal Park than she remembered it. She crossed the half-bridge where the park’s lake fed into a small trio of anemic, man-made waterfalls. Deirdre wondered if the waterway fed into the labyrinth of ditches in her neighborhood. Were all such waterways and ditch systems in all townships part of the same intricate system? It hadn’t rained for some time. The green arch of Municipal Park, smaller and shabbier than she remembered it, appeared to her left. She glanced at the thin, tall pines and the skeletal playground beyond it. Finally, she reached a landmark that was exactly as she recalled: the old black steam engine. It had red and white wheels and was enclosed in a wrought iron enclosure. The thing always looked less like a real train, though, than it did a toy somehow grown gargantuan. Rather hideous, she thought. Deirdre was in no hurry despite the looming committee meeting at the convention hotel–less so as she continued along. She was lulled by the projection of the past laid upon her present road trip. She passed a church she remembered (the last of many, almost on every corner it seemed). It was gray with a red, rectangular awning. As she passed, she read a snippet of the church marquee: “IF YOU ARE NOT WHERE YOU ONCE WERE” something something “GUESS YOU MOVED?” Now she was close–a suburban area of town, or what passed for it. She drove by tons of one story ranch-style houses. There were two story houses as well, which looked like small houses stacked on top of ranch-styles. Minor service roads ran parallel on either side of the main drag. Deirdre veered onto one of them, which was heavily wooded on each side. She had entered her old neighborhood, Alpine Hills. The streets appeared almost purple here–scored with lighter rock within the pavement. The large lawns were well mown, though dotted with brown bare patches. The houses themselves were faded, worn without the appearance of actual disrepair. Deirdre made the turn onto her old street, feeling that the past was consuming the present by degrees. Here especially the neighborhood looked like an unaltered version of the one she remembered but for the expansive overgrowth. More pines, bigger oaks and magnolias but all with a threadbare look peculiar to hurricane ravaged trees. She noticed the unusual, short, concrete street name obelisk-signs were still present. FRIBOURG STREET. And then there it was–her old house: the long, low brick ranch-style house, still painted white with dark blue shutters. She parked her rental in front of it and walked halfway down the driveway pavement, noting that there was no indication anyone was home. This stood to reason. It was a weekday–kids at school, adults working or out. Deirdre entered the backyard, noticing the open carport, still smelling of mildew after all this time. She was only interested in the ditch, though. And it was gone. The realization was startling and dismaying. More than her old house, more than the worn, purple streets that she once haunted or the obelisk street signs, the ditch embodied her childhood. So many days exploring the neighborhood from behind and below it, gathering dewberries from the ditch walls with a friend or two. Spying on rival neighborhood kids playing in other backyards. Lurking, giggling, till one or two children spotted them in the ditch. She remembered when some kids began hurling red dirt clods at Deirdre and her companions. She and her friends ran away down the runny pavement of the ditch, laughing madly. But it didn’t make sense. How and why did the city have the ditch filled in? She walked along the area in which her memory insisted the ditch lay. Everything covered with pine straw and dotted with overgrowth now, a wheelbarrow on its side near the terminal point in the back of the property. Everything gone. A sense of loss, all out of proportion, welled in Deirdre, originating from a twisting in her stomach and rising into her gorge. She could feel it squeeze through her neck into the hollow of her head. The tears began, which she fiercely wiped away, clenching her eyes shut with a desire to dam the loss, or at least divert it elsewhere. Immediately upon closing her eyes, though, Deirdre sensed a change in her surroundings. She opened her eyes again and looked around, seeing only shabby crabgrass and pine straw where the ditch once ran. She closed her eyes once more and immediately felt, and, what’s more, smelled it–the ditch that once was, specifically after a significant rainfall event. Deirdre kept her eyes shut to maintain the illusion and tested it, walking towards one of the walls she felt sure was close. Astonished, she felt the rough, mineral-rich, slanting concrete with one and then both hands. Deirdre opened her eyes again to find her arms extended into blank space, an azalea bush in front of her. She sniffed her hand. Yes, it smelled like the ditch. Her eyes closed again. Deirdre could feel the concrete wall. Now, blindly, she began walking down the drainage-way she once knew so well. The projection of the past onto the present felt stronger than it ever had been. Soon she stopped groping the side of the ditch altogether, memory giving her sight. Deirdre made the ninety degree turns when needed, feeling every invisible backyard as it came up on her left or right. And then she was there. The spot, about a block from her home near that drainage pipe. She could feel dank, cold air from it on her face. How long had it been since she felt real awe? Had she, in fact, ever felt it as she did in that moment? There was no doubt in her mind that she hadn’t. The little delta of filth was there, and–eyes closed–she could see it vividly. There was a desiccated black bean label by it, can missing. And the muck itself, she saw now, originated from the pipe in front of her–a kind of dark but glittering pile of refuse left over from the flooding the days before. A concentrated muck concealing a secret that had been waiting for her in this other-ditch for decades. Deirdre fought the impulse to open her eyes, filled with that old, delicious mixture of dread and delight. She knelt before the delta, the smell rank but fertile. Sharp. She pushed, gradually, even luxuriantly, one, two, and then all the fingers of her right hand into the cold, moist filth. And pushed. And pushed further. Eventually she worked her entire arm to the shoulder into it. A phantom arm within a phantom ditch. For, truly, she could no longer feel it. Her eyes almost opened of their own accord then, but she fought to keep them closed. Deirdre removed her numb, right arm and inserted her left into the delta. “Can I help you, ma’am? Are you hurt?” Deirdre’s eyes finally opened, and she found herself in the back part of a yard she recognized. Mrs. Lee’s yard. She must be long dead now. A grinning, middle-aged man (her son?) with a sizable belly and a rake was peeking from behind a large pile of pine straw at her. Deirdre giggled. It looked like he was playing hide and seek, and she had spotted him. “Ma’am?” The man’s voice and his dull blue eyes looked worried in spite of his grin. Then Deirdre realized he was of that rare breed of unfortunates who could not easily close their mouths. “Ma’am? What… what happened to your arms?” The absurd combination of grinning fear and that genteel, familiar south Alabama drawl, made her laugh harder. The man’s face intensified into a mask of smiling horror. She looked down at her numb arms, which were now a kind of burnt orange color and were perhaps thinner and shorter than they should be. Or maybe it was a trick of the light. She had had her eyes closed for so long. In any case, her arms, though senseless, seemed usable. When she looked back towards the grinning man, he was gone as if he had never been there in the first place. Probably had run to call 911. Time to go. Deirdre closed her eyes just once more. She couldn’t help herself. And soon she was grinning herself. The ditch was still there. And, she knew, so was the little delta of filth. Time to leave. But she would return soon to finish what she had started. III Her arms had changed. There was no doubt about it. Reduced in every way. Driving had been something of a challenge, not only because her arms were shorter but also because they lacked any feeling at all. Deirdre, though, remained unconcerned. She floated in the midst of a delicious, continual reverie. The numbness of her arms contained the cool nothingness of subterranean spaces below the grass and pine straw, below the hidden ditch itself. Below it all. Once in the hotel parking garage she draped her suit jacket over her shoulders, concealing her transformed limbs within them. She was only biding her time, though. Ensuring that any police investigating a possible trespass report was complete before she returned. After Mr. Cardin’s workshop, Deirdre’s boss asked her to stay in the hall for a talk. “You don’t look too bad off to me. What’s wrong?” “It’s my head. I think I may have a fever.” He sighed and put on his warning voice. “You know how important tomorrow’s meeting is to the agency. The funders are watching every move we make, and we’re better positioned to impress them than ever. I need you to be present. You can’t flake out on me, Deirdre.” How ridiculous. As if tomorrow’s meeting or Deirdre’s behavior or the agency itself were of any consequence at all to anyone. She stared at the projector’s blank light against the presentation screen. “Don’t let it bother you,” she said. “Excuse me?” A sharper tone. “You know better than anyone what will happen to the agency if we don’t start… I need to know where your head is, Deirdre.” “In the ditch.” “What the hell?” Deirdre looked at her boss–his thick, bald head and little round glasses shimmering–and smirked. His face darkened. “I don’t think you understand the seriousness of this matter, Deirdre. If you can’t hold it together, you might be looking for another job soon. You should be worried about your future. Consider this a wakeup call.” Deirdre felt like sneering at the little man, so concerned with budgets and impressing the right people, so obsessed with his illusions of ego and control. What could he know about depth, true depth? The man was a cartoon character–no more. A distraction from the silent spaces below this hotel, the inner substance of this town, perhaps the whole world. “But I’m not worried about my future… sir. Why should I be?” This disconcerted her boss. He changed tactics. “Deirdre, look. I didn’t mean that just now. But what’s wrong? You really haven’t been yourself today.” “I already told you,” Deirdre said with a little jump in her chair. “I’m not well.” With that, she shrugged her suit jacket off her shoulders. It fell onto the floor. Her boss took one look at Deidre’s arms and collapsed out of his chair. “Dear god,” he said, scooting like a crab away from her. Deirdre approached and stepped over the cringing man, not bothering to look over her shoulder at him on her way out of the workshop hall, not bothering to retrieve her suit jacket. “No worries. If you need me, I’ll be under the ditch,” she said. But her terrified boss only whimpered in response. IV The trip back that night to her old neighborhood, to the ditch, was timeless. Deirdre had to drive slowly, chest close to the dashboard. Her senseless arms had grown even smaller, her tiny fingers barely capable of grasping the steering wheel. It felt like she was driving with her mind. A wondrous anticipation coupled with anxiety grew within her. Would Deirdre be able to find her way back to the little delta of filth in time? Or–even worse–would the treasure of the phantom ditch reject her as it had all those years ago? But a delicious, dreadful sense of fate erased these worries by degrees as she came closer and closer to her neighborhood. She inched along the empty road towards the park and Alpine Hills beyond it. Deirdre almost pulled over on the half-bridge and jumped into the dam spillway in her eagerness. But she couldn’t be sure that the trickling trio of waterfalls and the drainage system to which it led were connected to her underworld ditch. Soon Deirdre had the impression of being driven rather than driving–her phantom limbs in control independently from her will. But, oh, she did choose this. Her cell phone was ringing, ringing as she turned onto Fribourg Street, as she pulled up to Mrs. Lee’s house. Her arms by now were half their normal size but the fingers were starting to elongate, like crooked antennae. She had to kick off her sandals and open her car door with one foot. It was late at night–quite late–and no lights were on in Mrs. Lee’s (now the grinning man’s) old ranch-style. She wondered vaguely if he was huddled up in his bedroom or living room, his grinning mouth and wide, terrified eyes pushed against a windowpane, waiting to see if the crazy lady with the little, orange arms had returned. The thought made Deirdre smile as she walked, barefoot, down his driveway and into the expansive backyard beyond it. The bells were ringing again, but not from her phone, which she had kicked with her car keys into the street sewer by the abandoned rental car. These were bells she could hear and feel, far beneath the shabby crabgrass, below the mounds of pine straw. We will make you invisible. Untouchable, the bells said. We will make you so small–drawing you down into the cool, dank spaces below everything. Deirdre closed her eyes and placed one and then two feet into the little delta of filth. And, gradually, deliciously… she began to sink. The post PseudoPod 609: A Little Delta of Filth appeared first on PseudoPod.
Coming Up Good Evening: 00:00:43 Patrick McDonough’s The Demon Chapel of Lowerham Castle as read by Ron Jon: 00:03:21 Nick Wood’s Of Hearts and Monkeys as read by Aminat Badara: 00:44:49 Pleasant Dreams: 01:25:39 Pertinent Links The District of Wonders Network Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/districtofwonders In the Mouth of Dorkness: http://inthemouthofdorkness.podbean.com/ Ron Jon @ The Spectre Collector blog: https://thespectrecollector.blogspot.com.au/ Ron Jon @ The Spectre Collector Bandcamp: https://thespectrecollector.bandcamp.com/ Ron Jon @ The Fruits of Madness blog: https://thefruitsofmadness.blogspot.com.au/ Nick Wood: http://nickwood.frogwrite.co.nz/ Nick Wood @ Twitter: https://twitter.com/nick45wood?lang=en Aminat Badara: https://meenahsthoughts.wordpress.com/ Amina Badara @ Twitter: https://twitter.com/09_Eleven
Coming Up Good Evening: 00:00:43 Diane Awerbuck’s The Keeper as read by Dan Rabarts: 00:06:52 Anna Taborska’s Bagpuss as read by Summer Brooks: 00:27:33 Peter White’s Used Cars as read by Drew Sebesteny: 01:06:21 Pleasant Dreams: 02:03:09 Pertinent Links The District of Wonders Network Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/districtofwonders Dan Rabarts: http://dan.rabarts.com/ Anna Taborska: http://annataborska.wixsite.com/horror Summer Brooks: http://www.sliceofscifi.com/ Drew Sebesteny: https://www.behance.net/drewing
Coming Up Good Evening: 00:42 Casey Cooke’s Still Hungry as read by CJ Plog: 03:00 Dan Rabart’s Children of the Tide as read by Matt Dovey: 11:56 Pleasant Dreams: 42:58 Pertinent Links The District of Wonders Network Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/districtofwonders No Sleep Podcast says hello to Tales to Terrify: https://www.thenosleeppodcast.com/episodes/s8/8x22 CJ Plog: https://librivox.org/reader/9392 Dan Rabarts: http://dan.rabarts.com/ Matt Dovey: https://mattdovey.com/ Matt Dovey @ Twitter: https://twitter.com/mattdoveywriter Matt Dovey @ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MattDoveyWriter/
In part one of our three part series on the living embodiment of nightmares, Albert Fish, we cover the psychopathology of one of the most depraved, disgusting monsters who has ever lived, his horrific childhood, and the mystery that is "Buck Buck How Many Hands Up".
The nightmare continues with Albert Fish part II as we delve into Albert's horrific family life, the beginnings of his religious mania, and how that would result in two of the most horrendous murders we've ever covered. It's Gold Star time.
In the conclusion to our series on Albert Fish, we cover the horrific murder of Grace Budd and the stupendous police work that led to the capture of America's Boogeyman.Hep Cats Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 Licensecreativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/