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Author Topic: Pseudopod 80: Votary  (Read 8864 times)

Bdoomed

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on: March 07, 2008, 08:42:01 PM
Pseudopod 80: Votary

By MK Hobson

Read by Dani Cutler

One day Mom came home from work early. Votary found her sitting on the porch talking with Mr. Dubeck, the postman. He had his bag next to him, full of mail. He was bald and skinny, with neck muscles that stuck out and jumped around when he laughed. He had strong muscular legs, rippling and hard, and they had fine golden hairs on them that shone in the sun. He was sitting on the stairs below my mother, in the late afternoon sunshine.

She was sitting in the cool shadow, speaking quietly, her hands clasped together. The thumb of one hand was stroking the palm of the other. She was sitting back under the overhang of the roof; her face was darkened by the heavy shadow. Mr. Dubeck had his head inclined sympathetically toward her.

They weren’t talking about mail.



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bolddeceiver

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Reply #1 on: March 07, 2008, 09:04:20 PM
Wow, that was great.

Little kids have great horror potential, in part, because they can believably exist in an entirely horrific situation without understanding that it's horrific, if it's all they've ever known.  This one hit home espescially.  I work with kids, and I've known children who despise one parent for taking them away from the other; they don't understand that Daddy was an abusive asshole, only that he was Daddy, and the only Daddy they ever had.  This story felt so familiar, albiet replacing with "abusive asshole" with "demonic monstrous personification of gluttony."
« Last Edit: March 08, 2008, 02:01:13 AM by bolddeceiver »



Anarkey

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Reply #2 on: March 07, 2008, 10:04:10 PM
Oh Huzzah!  Well done! 

I particularly liked the interchange between Votary and the mailman where the mailman tells her she has a name, and it's Katie, and her wtf reaction.  Very nice.

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eytanz

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Reply #3 on: March 07, 2008, 10:15:57 PM
Oooh, great one.

Another story that showed how the human element is a lot more terrifying than the supernatural - the mother's despair, which clearly was going to be repeated in the girl's future, was a lot more terrifying to me than the father's magical mailman-eating superpowers.



DarkKnightJRK

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Reply #4 on: March 09, 2008, 07:02:29 AM
Oooh, great one.

Another story that showed how the human element is a lot more terrifying than the supernatural - the mother's despair, which clearly was going to be repeated in the girl's future, was a lot more terrifying to me than the father's magical mailman-eating superpowers.

I throughly agree--the evil that is inside the human condition, to me, is way more horrifying then any beast or gore a horror writer can throw at you.



sirana

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Reply #5 on: March 09, 2008, 08:10:04 AM
Ewwwwwwwwww.

And .... more please  ;D



DarkKnightJRK

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Reply #6 on: March 09, 2008, 08:53:03 PM
Ewwwwwwwwww.

And .... more please  ;D

Yeah, the description of "Father" at the beginning did make me nearly hurl in the sink I was cleaning dishes with as I was listening.



sirana

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Reply #7 on: March 10, 2008, 09:30:25 AM
I was eating my dinner while listening to it. Good thing I worked in an ICU as a conscientious objector or I might have gotten sick.



Listener

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Reply #8 on: March 10, 2008, 01:47:22 PM
I agree with bolddeceiver's comments.

Is it just me, or does Dani Cutler always sound like she has a cold, or at least a bad case of sinus congestion?  She plays young characters well, but it's kind of weird to listen to her.  I don't think I could listen to her political podcasts.

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Reply #9 on: March 10, 2008, 06:17:08 PM
Nice one. I always seemed a pity to me that there are less and less unexplored places on Earth where 'elder daemons' - yes, I'm a Lovecraft fan- could hide unseen. But this story filled that in very nicely. I imaged the ' Father' living in that house for centuries, being waited upon by generation after generation of votaries. And in a way, placing this -admittedly somewhat worn-out topos- in a urban setting, gave a fresh new feel. Original and scary too, what more could you ask for?



gelee

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Reply #10 on: March 11, 2008, 12:35:15 PM
Ah, great story!  Great characters, great narration.  PP really seems to be hitting it's stride these days.



Kevin David Anderson

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Reply #11 on: March 12, 2008, 08:16:36 PM
Makes me think... my family is not that bad after all. 


DKT

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Reply #12 on: March 12, 2008, 08:23:07 PM
It is always nice to see the father/daughter relationship portrayed positively for a change. 

Actually, I guess it's my turn to be the odd man out on this one.  I liked it okay but didn't love it the way everyone else did.  I couldn't figure out how the postman knew Votary's name and she did not.  Also, I didn't get how Votary's "father" blobbed out so quickly that the postman couldn't outrun him/it yet Votary didn't seem to even move.

Still, I thought there was some great, visceral writing here, and the last image it left of Votary covered by her father is a hell of a way to end a story.


Anarkey

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Reply #13 on: March 12, 2008, 08:38:21 PM
Actually, I guess it's my turn to be the odd man out on this one.  I liked it okay but didn't love it the way everyone else did.  I couldn't figure out how the postman knew Votary's name and she did not.  Also, I didn't get how Votary's "father" blobbed out so quickly that the postman couldn't outrun him/it yet Votary didn't seem to even move.

Still, I thought there was some great, visceral writing here, and the last image it left of Votary covered by her father is a hell of a way to end a story.

Not that you don't have every right to feel 'meh' about a story, because hey, we all do, but as to how the postman to know Votary's real name: he's banging her mom, and she's told Dubeck both her own real name (Anna, was it?) and her daughter's (Katie).  It's a little shy of explicit on this, but it's a pretty direct trail.

As to the rapid blobbing, I didn't have an issue with it, but I'm not surprised someone did.  It was kind of sketchy and the postman's inability to defend himself was weak.

And yes, yes to visceral and the great ending.

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Reply #14 on: March 12, 2008, 08:47:54 PM
Actually, I guess it's my turn to be the odd man out on this one.  I liked it okay but didn't love it the way everyone else did.  I couldn't figure out how the postman knew Votary's name and she did not.  Also, I didn't get how Votary's "father" blobbed out so quickly that the postman couldn't outrun him/it yet Votary didn't seem to even move.

Still, I thought there was some great, visceral writing here, and the last image it left of Votary covered by her father is a hell of a way to end a story.

Not that you don't have every right to feel 'meh' about a story, because hey, we all do, but as to how the postman to know Votary's real name: he's banging her mom, and she's told Dubeck both her own real name (Anna, was it?) and her daughter's (Katie).  It's a little shy of explicit on this, but it's a pretty direct trail.

As to the rapid blobbing, I didn't have an issue with it, but I'm not surprised someone did.  It was kind of sketchy and the postman's inability to defend himself was weak.

And yes, yes to visceral and the great ending.

Ah, that makes a bit more sense, I suppose.  I remembered the affair being explicitly mentioned, I just wasn't sure why he would have her name and she wouldn't.  Why her mom would tell Dubeck but not her.  Still, it works out, I guess.  Thanks.  Maybe my lack of sleep was catching up to me. 


DarkKnightJRK

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Reply #15 on: March 16, 2008, 07:13:57 AM
It is always nice to see the father/daughter relationship portrayed positively for a change. 

Actually, I guess it's my turn to be the odd man out on this one.  I liked it okay but didn't love it the way everyone else did.  I couldn't figure out how the postman knew Votary's name and she did not.  Also, I didn't get how Votary's "father" blobbed out so quickly that the postman couldn't outrun him/it yet Votary didn't seem to even move.

Still, I thought there was some great, visceral writing here, and the last image it left of Votary covered by her father is a hell of a way to end a story.

Anarkey already mentioned the name thing, but as for the "blob" thing, my interpetation was that the postman was freaked out/scared to the point of almost complete immobilization. I would have ran like Forest out of there, but I can't really blame him. As for Votary, either he blobbed around her (he's a demon/elder god, after all) or she didn't have a problem with it because he's Daddy.

Listening to it again, I couldn't help but wonder how the elder demon got all these "Voteries" in the first place. A better question, if I may be so blunt, is who in the bloody hell would bone such a lard-demon? Or better yet--How? Like Austin Powers said best, "the physics of it is just mind-boggling!"



eytanz

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Reply #16 on: March 16, 2008, 01:50:11 PM

Listening to it again, I couldn't help but wonder how the elder demon got all these "Voteries" in the first place. A better question, if I may be so blunt, is who in the bloody hell would bone such a lard-demon? Or better yet--How? Like Austin Powers said best, "the physics of it is just mind-boggling!"

I wonder if they did. There's no clear indication that the girl is his biological daughter - maybe when his votaries reach a certain age, he has them find someone to act as a sperm donor. I think all the father needs is that the girl thinks he is her father.

As for the name, by the way, I also don't think it's necessary that the girl never heard her name. Even if she had gone by Katie when she was too young to serve her father, she would have probably forgotten about that by now. One mustn'y underestimate the power of the human mind to supress memories.



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Reply #17 on: March 17, 2008, 05:13:08 PM
Anarkey already mentioned the name thing, but as for the "blob" thing, my interpetation was that the postman was freaked out/scared to the point of almost complete immobilization. I would have ran like Forest out of there, but I can't really blame him. As for Votary, either he blobbed around her (he's a demon/elder god, after all) or she didn't have a problem with it because he's Daddy.

I don't know.  I'm pretty sure he was running across the room.  That's what triggered my reaction because Votary, OTOH, wasn't moving. 


Listening to it again, I couldn't help but wonder how the elder demon got all these "Voteries" in the first place. A better question, if I may be so blunt, is who in the bloody hell would bone such a lard-demon? Or better yet--How? Like Austin Powers said best, "the physics of it is just mind-boggling!"

I wonder if they did. There's no clear indication that the girl is his biological daughter - maybe when his votaries reach a certain age, he has them find someone to act as a sperm donor. I think all the father needs is that the girl thinks he is her father.

As for the name, by the way, I also don't think it's necessary that the girl never heard her name. Even if she had gone by Katie when she was too young to serve her father, she would have probably forgotten about that by now. One mustn'y underestimate the power of the human mind to supress memories.

I'm not sure what the author was going for, but it definitely made me think about religious indoctrination, and some of the Mormon extremists who use polygamy as an excuse to marry very young girls.  Also, now that I've written it in that context, I'm also fascinated by the name choice of Katie, which definitely makes me think of Katie Holmes.  Probably just a coincidence, but a very interesting one.


JoeFitz

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Reply #18 on: April 05, 2008, 08:12:23 PM

Listening to it again, I couldn't help but wonder how the elder demon got all these "Voteries" in the first place. A better question, if I may be so blunt, is who in the bloody hell would bone such a lard-demon? Or better yet--How? Like Austin Powers said best, "the physics of it is just mind-boggling!"

I wonder if they did. There's no clear indication that the girl is his biological daughter - maybe when his votaries reach a certain age, he has them find someone to act as a sperm donor. I think all the father needs is that the girl thinks he is her father.

As in, a votary gets pregnant from a mailman?



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Reply #19 on: April 05, 2008, 08:48:22 PM
Yeah, there were a few points that don't bear up to logical scrutiny, but Dani's reading really brought out the story's strengths for me.  The blurry bits seem to lie where a child raised in such an environment would lie; unreliable narrators can cover a multitude of omissions.  ;)

"who in the bloody hell would bone such a lard-demon?"  - I asked that about a co-worker once.  She wasn't a supernatural being, though; just a country lass with an unfortunate combination of genes... who had apparently enjoyed an entire unit while deployed in Kosovo in the mid-1990s.  My point? 

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Reply #20 on: October 15, 2009, 06:43:56 PM
This was a decent story all, and I'm always a fan of a good unreliable narrator story.

But, I couldn't help thinking, throughout the story, of the people in real life that grow up to 1200 pounds in their home and are trapped there.  I'm sure many of them are very nice folks that just have an unfortunate combination of mental and/or physical disorders that have left them that way.  So it kind of made me feel bad for them--I'm reasonably sure that most of those folks don't eat people.

But nobody else seems to have been bothered by this, so I guess it's just me.



Millenium_King

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Reply #21 on: July 23, 2010, 11:23:10 PM
Plot-wise, I was not too impressed by this one.  It was fairly predictable and pretty thin on drama or tension (the minute the mailman talked to the father, we all knew he was going to be devoured).

The language also was not impressive - although some good description of the adulterous mailman getting devoured.  That was nice.

The only thing that raises this up above a lukewarm response from me is the fact that I am a total sucker for grotesques (cf. "Acceptable Losses").  This guy was one of my favorites: the corpulent, monstrous lord upon his throne attended by servitors.  Awesome.

Still, while cretive and a good example of magical realism, this story just plodded along.  It, again, lacked that "rocket fuel" to launch it above the "mediocre" pile.

EDIT: Just my thoughts on what people have mentioned:  I saw no reason that the dad was not her biological father.  He may have once been human then become a monster, you know.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2010, 11:27:34 PM by Millenium_King »

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