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Author Topic: Pseudopod 114: The Cellar  (Read 7421 times)

Bdoomed

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on: November 03, 2008, 01:05:19 AM
Pseudopod 114: The Cellar

By Stephen Owen

Read by Ian Stuart

“I’m Mr. Sinclair.” The smiling old man introduced himself. “Not too early, am I?”

“Whatever you’re selling, I ain’t interested,” said the man, ignoring Sinclair’s offer of a handshake. He was taller than Sinclair by a couple of inches, probably in his mid-forties, with cropped blond-grey hair and a permanent frown etched between tired-looking eyes.

“Didn’t they tell you?” said Sinclair, studying a piece of paper in his hand, then checking the brass door number. “I’ve come to look round your house.”

“No-one said nothing.”

“It is still for sale, isn’t it?”

“Oh sure, just wasn’t expecting…”

“Of course, I can always come back another time,” said the old man. He frowned and scratched his chin. “That would be rather inconvenient, though. I’ve come all the way from Oxford. Traffic was an absolute nightmare.”



Happy Halloween!


Listen to this week's Pseudopod.


(and sorry for the delay guys, my bad.)

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Zathras

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Reply #1 on: November 03, 2008, 01:07:56 AM
This one didn't do a lot for me.  It had a lot of potential and the reading was great.  It just missed the mark somehow.



DKT

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Reply #2 on: November 03, 2008, 05:09:29 PM
I really, really liked this one.  I figured I had it figured out halfway through -- that Sinclair was the pudgy kid and that the seller was Russ, and that they were both going to come into some kind of conflict with each other to atone for what their past sins.  Then the skinny kid and Russ turned out to both be Sinclair, which really surprised me, but also worked very well, storywise.

I do kinda wish the pudgy kid had showed up again in some form, but I was so surprised by the twist, so his absence didn't bother me.  I guess I was partially under the impression it was his story, and when I realized it wasn't, well, that was cool. 

Fantastic reading, too.  I'd love to hear more from both Stephen Owen and Ian Stuart.


Listener

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Reply #3 on: November 04, 2008, 07:27:13 PM
The story was vivid, but I could've done without the dual ruptured testicles. The house descriptions were great, though.

I just felt like the payoff was weak. There wasn't enough given to me to make me care about Sinclair coming back to the house all those times.

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gelee

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Reply #4 on: November 05, 2008, 07:45:43 PM
Excellent!  I liked this one a lot.  Like DKT, I was rather expecting to see Pudgy Kid turn up again.  Also, great outro.  Really got me thinking about what kind of history I might be leaving in my own wake...



tazo

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Reply #5 on: November 07, 2008, 12:01:04 AM
The story was vivid, but I could've done without the dual ruptured testicles.

Nothing like vivid descriptions of ruptured testicles to ruin your drive home from a wedding party, I always say. 

That being said, I did quite enjoy this story, although it felt a bit mundane for Halloween.  The twist at the end was surprisingly effective, playing off our expectations of story structure.  We've read so many stories that we expect the story to work just so, and are kind of wonderfully thrown for a loop when it turns out otherwise.



Schreiber

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Reply #6 on: November 07, 2008, 04:52:57 PM
I have to throw in my lot with Listener on this one.  My biggest issue was that Sinclair's voice was inconsistent.  The pudgy boy was flexible enough to become either the young man or the elderly version of himself, but old and young Sinclair just seem incongruous with one another.



eytanz

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Reply #7 on: November 08, 2008, 12:47:18 AM
First of all, the twist really took me by surprise. Cool.

But really, I think that by focusing on ruptured testicles and spousal murder everyone is overlooking the one truly horrific thing that plays a part in this story: the English housing market.

*shudder*

*shudder*

*silent weeping*



Sgarre1

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Reply #8 on: November 09, 2008, 06:48:32 AM
Good story, well written, well-read.  The writer has a solid grasp of realistic dialogue.

Oddly, I think the kinda-twist is almost unneeded.  It doesn't really add anything to the story and diminishes it somewhat by making it seem that the kinda-twist was the point and we've all learned a lesson about a book and its cover.  Stories that just jerk you around should be shorter and more streamlined (see vintage Dahl).

But I really enjoyed the trip on this one.  Adult characters written in a realistic setting.  Hard to come by in Horror nowadays.

As for the breaks in stories, it's an ongoing problem.  A slightly longer pause is the best option but sound editing seems to get in the way of the ability to do that, strangely, instead of making it achievable.  LIGHTS OUT used to use a gong to great effect.

Thanks for listening

“We ask only to be reassured
About the noises in the cellar
And the window that should not have been open.”

T.S. Eliot, THE FAMILY REUNION



JoeFitz

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Reply #9 on: November 09, 2008, 09:48:46 PM
Sort of drew me in, and the reader/reading was simply excellent.

That being said, several things didn't quick work for me. The childhood flashback story in particular was distracting. I couldn't help thinking that the sterility would have been just as convincing without the injury.

Wither the Pudgy Boy? He was introduced and then dropped. Wouldn't it have made a neat structural turn for the skinny kid to kill him in the cellar?



Dwango

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Reply #10 on: November 17, 2008, 08:32:34 PM
Unfair!  You changed voiced on the characters depending on the time.  You tricked me you rascally narrator. :-)

Actually a good story.  I liked its twists, and though confusing, I appreciated the way the time periods were interwoven.  It must have been hard to do the story without giving it all away.  I had to listen twice, but it was well worth it.  I do wonder what ever happened to that fat kid.  Also, during the kid section, did anyone hear a twisted version of the Wonder Years in their head?  Probably just me.




MacArthurBug

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Reply #11 on: November 17, 2008, 11:02:20 PM
s'ok. Didn't really hit my fear button, or even my suspence button. Well put together and well read though.

Oh, great and mighty Alasdair, Orator Maleficent, He of the Silvered Tongue, guide this humble fangirl past jumping up and down and squeeing upon hearing the greatness of Thy voice.
Oh mighty Mur the Magnificent. I am not worthy.


zZzacha

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Reply #12 on: November 18, 2008, 01:27:10 PM
Wow, very nice!

Listening along, I thought I was a very smart girl by linking the stories together and understanding 'who is who' in the different stories. And then, to my surprise, everything linked together in a totally different way! Yes! I love stories that try to make me feel smart and then tell me "haha, you're NOT, really, all that smart". Gives me some perspective and makes me laugh about my smugness.

It is never too late to be what you might have been.


oddpod

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Reply #13 on: November 19, 2008, 08:46:13 AM
ok , any one else hear listen to starship sofa?
if you liked the naraton on this go chekout

http://www.podcastdirectory.com/podshows/2806074

tiz the starship sofa story "the likely lad" and is not oanly bloody ace but i think narated by the same bloke

card carying dislexic and  gramatical revolushonery


Loz

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Reply #14 on: November 19, 2008, 11:14:20 AM
I vaguely enjoyed the story though didn't find it particularly scary or horrific.

I had two problems that affected my enjoying the story:
1) The middle section with the attack and killing of the wife was the weak link for me, the lack of fleshing out of any of the characters meant it just went by as noise rather than story. Good horror, for me, works by making you think that even in a story where zombies have killed everyone but you, the planets about to spiral into the sun and you've just got a really nasty paper cut, it could happen to you. Bad horror, makes even a paper cut seem like a completely alien experience that you will never know.
2) A much more minor point, lacking any kind of outside view, I thought this story was happening simultaneously in three seperate and nearby houses. Maybe this is what the author intended, but I got no sense of 'wow, it's the same people!' at the end. Maybe putting those markers in might have signposted this more to listeners/readers, but was it supposed to be a shocking end-of-story twist?



umamei

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Reply #15 on: December 23, 2008, 01:58:05 PM
Just now catching up on some slightly older stories.

I enjoyed this one.  It wasn't particularly suspenseful or horrifying, but it was enjoyable anyways.  I liked the sort-of-twist at the end as well.  I'd spent the whole time thinking that the visitor was the chubby kid, but I was wrong and that's okay.  I also expected the wife-murderer to be the old guy selling the house.  I don't know why.  I think I was probably more focused on doing the dishes at the time.  But this was definitely a good housecleaning story.  Far from scary, however.

The reading was good, but I'd like to echo the sentiment about the section breaks--they're difficult to discern when they're so short and that's distracting.



Unblinking

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Reply #16 on: October 29, 2009, 08:43:10 PM
I gave this one 10 minutes and it bored me to tears. 

1.  The old man visits the house--nothing of interest happens
2.  The man finds out wife is pregnant, accuses her of cheating--conflict, that's good at least, but nothing I couldn't find on Maury.
3.  Two completely unnamed kids go into house--nothing of interest happens.

The telling was much too distant.  When the two kids are only describes by their relative weights, but no names, it strikes me as either lazy, or intentionally hiding details just so you can say "Ha, twist!"  It sounds like it was the latter, but basing a twist only on withholding information that would've been obvious to anyone actually experiencing the story is a weak story element, IMO.  At the very least it distances me extremely from the characters, and if I don't care about them, then what's the point?




Unblinking

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Reply #17 on: October 30, 2009, 01:49:59 AM
Then again, it's probably just as well that I didn't finish this one, judging by the comments.  Hearing about genital mutilation is not my idea of entertainment.



Fenrix

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Reply #18 on: March 19, 2010, 01:00:16 PM
Catching up on a big chunk of 2008. Yay road trips.

I think the reading was really good. The narrator has a wonderful voice. I was also taken in by the twist, and enjoyed the trip. The Lord of the Flies moment with the pudgy kid throwing sticky blood soaked dirt into the trench yelling "I'm chief now!" was really good. Kids do pretty evil stuff to each other.

I didn't find the genital mutilation too vivid. I'm not a big body horror fan, and I cringed, but wasn't tempted to find the skip button. The kid's feet slip off a ceiling or floor joist and he hits it with a "ball breaking thump" or something very similar.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Millenium_King

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Reply #19 on: June 29, 2010, 09:23:58 PM
This one had a very slow start.  It started to take my attention later, but the absolutely IRRITATING way everyone's damn name was withheld from the reader completely killed it for me.  I absolutely despise this sort of manufactured tension and this story had it in spades.

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Marlboro

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Reply #20 on: December 12, 2019, 05:11:09 PM
I gave this one 10 minutes and it bored me to tears. 

1.  The old man visits the house--nothing of interest happens
2.  The man finds out wife is pregnant, accuses her of cheating--conflict, that's good at least, but nothing I couldn't find on Maury.
3.  Two completely unnamed kids go into house--nothing of interest happens.

The telling was much too distant.  When the two kids are only describes by their relative weights, but no names, it strikes me as either lazy, or intentionally hiding details just so you can say "Ha, twist!"  It sounds like it was the latter, but basing a twist only on withholding information that would've been obvious to anyone actually experiencing the story is a weak story element, IMO.  At the very least it distances me extremely from the characters, and if I don't care about them, then what's the point?


It all ties together in the end.


Not one of my very favorite episodes but it's pretty solid. Ian Stuart's performance was top-notch as always.