Escape Artists



ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details:

Author Topic: Pseudopod 134: Bait  (Read 7810 times)


  • Pseudopod Tiger
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5311
  • Mmm. Tiger.
on: March 20, 2009, 05:40:49 AM
Pseudopod 134: Bait

By Joel Arnold whose first-ever short story collection was just released from Sam’s Dot Publishing: Bedtime Stories for the Apocalypse

Read by Hugo-nominated graphic artist Cheyenne Wright (for his work on Girl Genius, Volume 8)

It was a cold January when Paul Robinson parked his flatbed pick-up on the edge of Shady Lake. The ice was ten inches thick. Plenty thick, yet it still didn’t compare to the rind of ice that had settled around his heart.

He let the tail-gate drop, hauled out his wooden fishing shanty and slid it over the ice to a spot a good fifty yards from the other fishermen. It was dusk, and many were already leaving, their perch, walleye, and trout packed in coolers to take home to their families.

He began to arrange the inside of the shanty, a homemade thing of clapboard and two by fours. He lit a pile of pre-soaked coals in an old coffee can for extra warmth, the flame swirling for a moment like a dervish, then settling to a comfortable glow. As he slid his Styrofoam bait bucket across the shanty’s floor, steam seeping from beneath the lid, he heard the crunch of cleated boots behind him. He turned.

Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2009, 04:26:19 PM by Bdoomed »

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


  • Giddy
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 648
  • I can resist anything except temptation
    • undercaffinated
Reply #1 on: March 21, 2009, 02:39:36 PM
Good creepy story. The reading was pretty good, somehow capturing the madness and angst in one sweeping blow. My overall gut reaction to the "chum" and many other plot elements was knowing what they had to be, but really really wanting them to be something else. I was pleasantly surprised at the ending, more unsure then I thought it would be, I was sure we'd see the full monster son, or the father pulled under, etc. The being caught and not caring, just continuing in the spiral of madness- that was good.

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.


  • Guest
Reply #2 on: March 22, 2009, 03:53:20 PM
Cheyenne Wright had me hooked from the word Bait.  More reading from him, please.

There wasn't a lot of surprise to this story, I liked it though.  It was like being slowly reeled in to a place that you really didn't want to be.  I thought it would have ended with the father joining the son, and it still may. 

There were nice, subtle touches in here, too.  The Twins cap was a good example.  I didn't feel like I was bashed over the head with anything here.  All the signs and hints of what was to come were put on the boil and allowed to slowly brew, but, unlike the coffee in the story, the mix was just right.  If I had anything to pick at in this one, it would be the dog's reaction when his owner was killed.

Ok, enough puns for now.


  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #3 on: March 22, 2009, 09:13:45 PM
outstanding.  my first post, had to comment on this.  wonderful atmosphere and description.  genuinely touching when he says 'i love you' to his son.  genuinely shocking with the twist (i didn't see it coming.)  and an AMAZING reading.  goes with 'bottle babies' and 'periods' as my favorites of the past few months.   


  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #4 on: March 23, 2009, 05:32:50 PM
Yeah, I really liked this one, too. Terrific story by Joel Arnold and a great reading by Cheyenne Wright. I had a feeling that Paul had killed his wife, but for some reason I hadn't put together what the chum was. The way Arnold pulled it together with the line about "a son's love for his mother" really struck me.

I know the editors at all the different EA podcasts don't really plan what stories they're going to post together during a given week, but between this one and the EP episode, there's lots of depressing material about losing a child.


  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 618
  • Trusst in me, jusst in me.
    • WriteWright
Reply #5 on: March 25, 2009, 04:40:32 PM
Another vote in favor of Cheyenne Wright. I could listen to him read a Gilligan's Island script and probably get a chill if he did that creepy deep-voice thing.

As far as the story goes, it was creepy, horrible, and gruesome.  I loved it. :)

I'm only sorry to say I didn't figure out what was the bait bucket until he just came out and SAID it.  I thought the POV character was going to end up being the bait.

Good story, nice twist, well read.

I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

About writing || About Atheism and Skepticism (mostly) || About Everything Else


  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 128
Reply #6 on: March 25, 2009, 06:33:50 PM
Another good old fashioned horror tale. I got the bit about the bait early on but it didn't stop the enjoyment. Brilliant narration that really set the atmosphere right. I rather liked the fact that the story didn't end with a cliche too

Man - despite his artistic pretensions, his sophistication, and his many accomplishments - owes his existence to a six inch layer of topsoil and the fact that it rains.


  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 3187
  • I place things in locations which later elude me.
    • Various and Sundry Items of Interest
Reply #7 on: March 25, 2009, 11:39:36 PM
While I usually like Arnold and Wright, together or separately, this story fell apart for me about 2/3 through.

Story: it was waaaaaaaay too slow and too much detail (which is possible to have) was spent on the setup. I did not appreciate the twist, and I totally didn't get the "son's love for his mother" -- that is, when it was said, I understood what was going to happen, but there wasn't enough leading up to it for me to have a hint at what the twist might be. It just didn't work.

Reading: Cheyenne Wright, while possessing one of the best male voices in podcasting, sometimes takes time to get a hold of his characters. I felt as though the narration and the voices meandered a bit in the first ten minutes. Also, if this is Minnesota, why are they sometimes speaking in Irish-sounding accents? His voicing of Peg (the wife) was quite good, but I didn't really buy Paul. Because I've heard Wright's character/voice choices meander in the past, I was keyed in for it this time, and heard them again.

Better luck next time...

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42


  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
Reply #8 on: March 26, 2009, 09:23:06 PM
Let me give a dissenting opinion - I really didn't find much to enjoy in this story. In fact, I found it really predictable (seriously, I can't see how Listener said the twist didn't have enough leading to it. The story basically shouted it out loud in the first two minutes), and worse, boring. And the ending made very little sense to me - how is it that crazed murderers always get the upper hand on people who suspect them? Seriously, the Skandinavian guy didn't pose any resistence to a chisel attack from the front?

This was my least favorite pseudopod in a long while.


  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Yndina=oon-DEE-nah. Yeah, it's hard to pronounce.
Reply #9 on: March 29, 2009, 02:49:57 AM
I'll be honest - I had several reasons to want to enjoy this story.  It takes place in a setting I'm intimately familiar with, having been born and raised among the Scandinavian ice fishermen of northern Minnesota, and did a good job of capturing that unique atmosphere.  It was gruesome and creepy, and really quite a good storyline over all.  However, three very non-trivial things just kept surfacing (no pun intended) to keep me from enjoying this. 

First, it was incredibly predictable.  Not cliche, necessarily, but horrendously predictable.  I think this same storyline could have been written in a way that doesn't make the ending so obvious and it would have had a much stronger effect.  Second, I found a lot of Arnold's language to grate on my nerves in a borderline-cliche way.  For instance:  "The ice was ten inches thick. Plenty thick, yet it still didn’t compare to the rind of ice that had settled around his heart."  Somehow lines like this came out as both over-the-top and expected, not in a good way.  And thirdly, while I knew immediately that the mother was the bait, I don't feel like we got enough of a glimpse at the mother's character to actually feel pity for her, let alone believe that the son would resurface from death to her.  We never got so much as a hint at the mother-son relationship; it makes it hard to buy.

That said, I have to admit that Wright really has a voice meant for horror podcasts.  I enjoyed his narration quite a lot, despite the Scottish brogue Sven the Scandinavian seemed to speak and the occassional too-long pauses that cast a melodramatic air on the story.  His voice seems to echo creepily in a listener's head long after he's done speaking.


  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 27
Reply #10 on: March 30, 2009, 10:25:33 PM
I couldn't focus on this story, it just moved too slow and it didn't help that it was very predictable and the language oh so contrived.  I also don't see what the buzz is about the narration, very low and mostly monotone yes, but that doesn't make my Biochem teacher interesting.


  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 370
    • Blah Flowers
Reply #11 on: April 05, 2009, 06:38:50 PM
Can you imagine what would happen if there was a horror story that needed two narrators, and Ben and Cheyenne did it? That would ROCK!

Otherwise, the story was okay but Cheyenne really sold me on it.


  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Reply #12 on: April 06, 2009, 02:50:51 AM
This one left me cold. It may have floated as a flash piece, but the length bogged it down. The 'twist' at the end was a little too 'Tales From the Crypt' for me. Great narration, though.


  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 258
Reply #13 on: May 16, 2009, 12:43:53 AM
A creepy story, a wonderful reading and some gruesome details. Not everything lined up perfectly for me. The nosy dog was a little obvious a device for my taste and "why is there a wedding band in your bait?" seems an improbably statement even if the line was very memorable.

The description of fish-boy brought to mind the Fluke Man from X-files.


  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 779
    • Mr. Wake
Reply #14 on: May 20, 2009, 02:40:01 AM
Liked it.  I figured out the twist just before it was revealed.  Good creepy atmosphere.  The sting of the chum freezing on his fingers was an outstanding detail.  Cheyenne doesn't always do it for me, but I thought he was a match with the main character and mood.  The detractors above make some good points, though and I can't refute them.  Maybe there should have been something showing how the boy was particularly close to his mother.  Also we were expected to assume that the son would come back as a Romero Zombie, when he could have just as easily come back as his old self.  I was considering how horrific it would be if you were trapped at the bottom of a frozen lake for a year still in possession of all your faculties. 

That we don't actually know if Paul saw his son in the lake adds a layer of complexity.


  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 139
Reply #15 on: July 17, 2009, 04:12:20 PM
As you can probably guess, I've been slowly going through the older stuff that I've missed over the past few months. After listening to this, I checked the date, which showed me it aired a few days before Father's Day. This is probably the greatest and worst Father's Day story ever--best for the love of the man towards his son, and worst for EVERYTHING ELSE. Seriously. *shudder*


  • Purveyor of Unsolicited Opinions
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2228
  • Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice
Reply #16 on: July 27, 2009, 04:09:54 AM
This is, hands-down, the best one I've so heard so far (I think I'm right up-to-date now). Yes, the ending was telegraphed but the atmosphere caught me so, I completely missed it coming. Excellent reading too.

It's high-quality stuff like this that keeps me coming back to PP.


  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #17 on: August 27, 2009, 04:48:33 PM
I figured out what the chum was just before the reveal, though in retrospect there were plenty of clues earlier on.  But I thought it was an interesting link to mix zombies and ice fishing, very cool setup, and the concept of using bait to lure a particular living dead was really good.

Agree with Zathras about the dog's reaction to his owner being killed.

Also, I like the ending with the boy grabbing the flashlight and using it as a lure, I definitely hadn't seen that coming. 

Good one!


  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 385
    • Ankor Sabat
Reply #18 on: June 22, 2010, 09:58:17 PM
Sorry, this was one of the rare few where I just couldn't sit through it all.  I had to try three seperate times to finally plough through.  The plot was very, very slooooow...  The story was obvious, there wasn't much tension, and the language was sometimes imbued with enough melodrama to make it unintentionally humorous ("...but it just couldn't compare to the ice on his heart.").  Furthermore the "It was..." construction is used something like 5 times in the first 5 minutes.  It's something of a personal peeve of mine, I admit, but starting that many sentences with "It was..." just feels like laziness more at home in Paul Clifford than here at PP.

Visit my blog atop the black ziggurat of Ankor Sabat, including my list of Top 10 Pseudopod episodes.