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Author Topic: PC143: Hurt Me  (Read 17268 times)
Talia
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« on: February 08, 2011, 01:01:01 PM »

PodCastle 143: Hurt Me

by M.L.N. Hanover

Read by Elizabeth Green Mussleman

Originally Published in Songs of Love and Death

“It’s a good, solid house,” he said, nodding as a trick to make her nod along with him.

“It is,” she said.  ”The price seems low.”

“Motivated seller,” he said with a wink.

“By what?”  She opened and closed the kitchen cabinets.

“Excuse me?”

“Motivated by what?” she said.

“Well, you know how it is,” he said, grinning.  ”Kids grow up, move on.  Families change.  A place maybe fits in one part of your life, and then you move on.”

She smiled as if he’d said something funny.

“I don’t know, actually,” she said.  ”The seller moved out because she got tired of the place?”

The realtor shrugged expansively, his mental gears whirring.  The question felt like a trap.  He wondered how much the woman had heard about the house.  He couldn’t afford to get caught in an outright lie.


Rated R: Contains Violence, Including Sexual Assault, Sex, Language
« Last Edit: March 01, 2011, 11:57:39 AM by Talia » Logged
jenfullmoon
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2011, 01:31:20 PM »

I have to second the feelings of "I was expecting this to go somewhere really horrible, and then it didn't, PHEW." Big time.
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Clearshades
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2011, 08:41:18 PM »

I really enjoyed this story but I thought it was going in a very different direction. With the implied BDSM possibility I was wondering if she was going to use the ghost to get over that preference, engage in a secret relationship where the ghost is essentially her Dom while she has a vanilla relationship for the rest or some other permutation of the positive side of that culture. As a result I was taken very much by surprise at the ending.

My only lingering doubt was "what if they have kids?" and that concern was not totally satisfied but maybe its a good thing that it left doubts.
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blueeyeddevil
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« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2011, 08:47:10 AM »

Hmmmmmm.
I want to like this story, but I am bothered because it feels a tetch manipulative.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
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Unblinking
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« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2011, 10:06:22 AM »

Hmm...  I listened to it all, very curious about how it would play out and how it would end.  It kept me interested throughout, but in the end it really lost me.

1.  For me the big reveal at the end made the story a complete POV failure.  Throughout the whole story I'm supposed to be relating to Cory, learning about her background, understanding her motivations.  And I thought I was, until she invited her boyfriend to stay at the house, which seemed completely out of character but I was still curious why she would do that.  And then suddenly at the very end we learn that she was the one the rumors spoke of more than 30 minutes of story prior, that she knew who the ghost was all along and was in fact his murderer, etc....  I guess it was withheld for dramatic irony, but to me this signaled complete and utter failure of Point of View, and ruined the things that I liked about the story because it turns out the apparently good characterization was just carefully crafted BS to string me along to the twist ending.  If you're going to tell a story in close perspective and let me see a character's internal thoughts and reactions, then withholding that kind of relevant backstory destroys every iota of good characterization that you've created throughout the rest of the story.  Arg.

2.  I was very confused about how this could possibly be considered a happy ending.  Dave's outro seemed to say that it was a way to allow her to heal while not denying her past.  But to me, this doesn't seem like an opportunity to heal at all.  Yes, her emotional wounds have healed badly, but this seemed akin to reopening pussy scars with a rusty knife, and then packing the wound with shards of glass before stitching it back shut again.  I can see how it's important not to just deny that the past happened, but this is way beyond that and into reveling joyously in the murder she committed, and inviting her unknowing boyfriend to live with her in this state is no better.  The neighbors say that no men have been harmed, but she's putting a lot of faith in their word on this, especially since she is a VERy special case.  She was his murderer, so it seems very likely that the previous rules of how he terrorized women may not be wholly applicable here, especially given that the ghost's jealous of her boyfriend might increase his power, at least at intervals.
I'm glad the story didn't go here, but I was expecting the final reveal to be that, even though the ghost doesn't harm men, he is capable of taking over the body of a man for a time, and he would take over the body of her boyfriend for a short while.  Like I said, I'm glad the story didn't go there, but for me the possibility is still hanging there. 
And I just don't get how her living with her boyfriend there and having sex with him in front of the ghost is going to help her at all.  She was harmed by his sadism, but I don't see how trying to make him suffer is going to make any damned difference except to satisfy her revenge fantasy.  But is her revenge fantasy going to allow her to heal?  I really doubt it.
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stePH
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« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2011, 11:37:45 AM »

Damn. I really liked this story, until I read Unblinking's post. Maybe I should just dump the forums.
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« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2011, 12:05:03 PM »

1.  For me the big reveal at the end made the story a complete POV failure.  Throughout the whole story I'm supposed to be relating to Cory, learning about her background, understanding her motivations.  And I thought I was, until she invited her boyfriend to stay at the house, which seemed completely out of character but I was still curious why she would do that.  And then suddenly at the very end we learn that she was the one the rumors spoke of more than 30 minutes of story prior, that she knew who the ghost was all along and was in fact his murderer, etc....  I guess it was withheld for dramatic irony, but to me this signaled complete and utter failure of Point of View, and ruined the things that I liked about the story because it turns out the apparently good characterization was just carefully crafted BS to string me along to the twist ending.  If you're going to tell a story in close perspective and let me see a character's internal thoughts and reactions, then withholding that kind of relevant backstory destroys every iota of good characterization that you've created throughout the rest of the story.  Arg.

I don't feel too comfortable going into #2 (not yet, at least) because that's really more of a YMMV thing, but regarding the first point: I've read/listened to this story 5-6 times now, and I'd encourage you give it another listen. It's all there, in every scene, especially with the mother/daughter conversation. The author uses a tight and limited 3rd person POV and never lies. Actually, for me on the rereads/relistens, I'm kind of shocked I didn't see it coming, because it's so well laid out.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 12:07:09 PM by DKT » Logged

Unblinking
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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2011, 12:09:16 PM »

Damn. I really liked this story, until I read Unblinking's post. Maybe I should just dump the forums.

Don't let my tendency to overanalyze ruin your enjoyment of a story, or drive you away from the forums.  Feel free to ignore me!

In case it's not obvious, I feel very strongly about POV in stories, and this one just hit all the wrong notes for me.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 12:11:31 PM by Unblinking » Logged
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« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2011, 12:23:30 PM »

I have to admit that I liked Hurt Me a little more when I thought it was a BDSM story. I'm a little kinky, myself, you see, and it always tickles me to see myself reflected in fiction. That said, I probably would have been annoyed at dysfunctional kink being the only kink portrayed, so it's probably all to the good that the story took an abrupt right turn at the end. That said, I did enjoy the ending. It was a mean, bitter, empowering little story. Lots of bite and kick and all sorts of other good things. I have to admit, though, that revenge porn isn't usually my thing; in my reading life, I'm currently having a hard time getting through the second half of The Count of Monte Cristo.

And I'm a fan of the wonky, crazy, out there fantasy. What are the long term possibilities of a BDSM relationship with a dead man? What other stories could spin out of that situation? What if she gets pregnant?

I also agree that the story's conclusion isn't really a conclusion. It isn't really over, and I wonder how long it will be before Cory gets sick of tormenting her dead husband's ghost and decides that it's time to move on. I wonder how easy it will be for her to do this when the time comes. That said, non-endings don't really bother me, as a rule. I like stories that lead to other stories.
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2011, 12:27:08 PM »

I don't feel too comfortable going into #2 (not yet, at least) because that's really more of a YMMV thing, but regarding the first point: I've read/listened to this story 5-6 times now, and I'd encourage you give it another listen. It's all there, in every scene, especially with the mother/daughter conversation. The author uses a tight and limited 3rd person POV and never lies. Actually, for me on the rereads/relistens, I'm kind of shocked I didn't see it coming, because it's so well laid out.

I have absolutely no doubt that the author was careful to avoid untruths, but this story told the truth like an Aes Sedai tells the truth, carefully giving only selective details and leaving out the most important ones  in order to give a very different impression than the actual.  That can work well in some cases, like:
1.  When the narrator believes the untruths they are telling you (i.e. in the Cask of Amontillado, there is no clear evidence that the perceived insult against the narrator ever actually occurred, but the narrator's probably insane, so he believes it).  That narrator is not intentionally lying, he's just nuts.
2.  When the narrator has an in-story reason for telling lies (i.e. The Usual Suspects)

But if the author is going for close third like this story SEEMED to be trying to do, the narrator shouldn't lie outright or through omission of important relevant details, or the reveal suddenly changes from 3rd close to 3rd selective distant with a footnote of "I fooled you, nyah nyah" from the author.  By relevant details I mean details that are relevant to the interpretations of the events occurring in the story.  For instance, I don't need to know every detail of the character's childhood, that they grew up in Detroit, that their favorite food is pizza, that they learned to play the piano when they were 4 years old.  These details included in the story may be nice window dressing but are not vital to the interpretation (except specific stories awhere those particular details are important).  However, leaving out details that are immediately relevant to interpretation of current happenings is a lie of omission that shatters the point of view.  When the neighbor tells her about the history of the house and tells about herself, and of the girlending up in an asylum, the fact that Cory is able to recognize it as her OWN history is a relevant and vital detail for her POV. Likewise when she realizes the ghost is her boyfriend prior to talking to the neighbor.  Likewise the fact that she has lived in this house before when she signs up for it way back at the beginning.
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2011, 12:35:50 PM »

I don't feel too comfortable going into #2 (not yet, at least) because that's really more of a YMMV thing, but regarding the first point: I've read/listened to this story 5-6 times now, and I'd encourage you give it another listen. It's all there, in every scene, especially with the mother/daughter conversation. The author uses a tight and limited 3rd person POV and never lies. Actually, for me on the rereads/relistens, I'm kind of shocked I didn't see it coming, because it's so well laid out.

When the neighbor tells her about the history of the house and tells about herself, and of the girlending up in an asylum, the fact that Cory is able to recognize it as her OWN history is a relevant and vital detail for her POV. Likewise when she realizes the ghost is her boyfriend prior to talking to the neighbor.  Likewise the fact that she has lived in this house before when she signs up for it way back at the beginning.


See, that's why I'm recommending you give it another listen. Because she does recognize her story from the neighbors. And in the opening scene, there's a few tells as to her history in the house. As I said, it's all in there.

I don't believe we ever get inside Cory's head in this story. We only see her actions, her reactions, and hear her words.

Edited for typos/clarity
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 12:38:36 PM by DKT » Logged

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« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2011, 12:47:13 PM »

I don't feel too comfortable going into #2 (not yet, at least) because that's really more of a YMMV thing, but regarding the first point: I've read/listened to this story 5-6 times now, and I'd encourage you give it another listen. It's all there, in every scene, especially with the mother/daughter conversation. The author uses a tight and limited 3rd person POV and never lies. Actually, for me on the rereads/relistens, I'm kind of shocked I didn't see it coming, because it's so well laid out.

When the neighbor tells her about the history of the house and tells about herself, and of the girlending up in an asylum, the fact that Cory is able to recognize it as her OWN history is a relevant and vital detail for her POV. Likewise when she realizes the ghost is her boyfriend prior to talking to the neighbor.  Likewise the fact that she has lived in this house before when she signs up for it way back at the beginning.


See, that's why I'm recommending you give it another listen. Because she does recognize her story from the neighbors. And in the opening scene, there's a few tells as to her history in the house. As I said, it's all in there.

I don't believe we ever get inside Cory's head in this story. We only see her actions, her reactions, and hear her words.

Edited for typos/clarity


The story was full of her internal reactions and that implies, to me at least, that I'm in her head.  I'm told that she tastes dirty water, told when she felt aroused, told when she felt the rush of excitement.  If I'm told when the protagonist feels aroused then I consider that being pretty solidly "in her head", and if it's somehow "in her head" for that kind of reaction, but not for vital details like knowledge of her previous residence and murder inside this house, then I'd call that an inconsistent POV.

I'm not surprised that those scenes have tells that make sense on 2nd listen, but if they're written in a way that the important meaning becomes clear in hindsight then that is a form of concealment, and still breaks the POV for me.

It's not that I'm opposed to giving it a second listen, but I believe you when you say that no untruths are told, and that the clues are there if you know what's coming.  But for me that doesn't really change my opinion.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 12:49:38 PM by Unblinking » Logged
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« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2011, 12:51:58 PM »

I was wondering how I knew the story you were talking about with it still being marked as unlistened to in my itunes until I saw where it was taken from.

Maybe it's because I read in text as opposed to listening, but for me the clues that she was the original abused woman were all there.  And I liked the story.  I liked that she took her life back.  That while she perhaps did not move on completely, she changed, she overcame, and grew stronger.  And no, I have no sympathy for the ghost of the murdered husband.  Perhaps that's because the story doesn't make me feel as if I was meant to, perhaps that is just because of who/how I am.  Feel free to take your pick.

Off to actually listen to the story now instead of just commenting on what I read. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2011, 01:15:14 PM »


The story was full of her internal reactions and that implies, to me at least, that I'm in her head.  I'm told that she tastes dirty water, told when she felt aroused, told when she felt the rush of excitement.  If I'm told when the protagonist feels aroused then I consider that being pretty solidly "in her head", and if it's somehow "in her head" for that kind of reaction, but not for vital details like knowledge of her previous residence and murder inside this house, then I'd call that an inconsistent POV.

Ah. See, I'd argue that because we know the water tastes dirty or because we see her react to something as if she'd been aroused, we're not really in her head. I meant deeper into her psyche/thought patterns, so apologies if I wasn't clear.

It's not that I'm opposed to giving it a second listen, but I believe you when you say that no untruths are told, and that the clues are there if you know what's coming.  But for me that doesn't really change my opinion.


Fair enough. I'll probably try and step back some myself now, as I don't want to overly influence the discussion.
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« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2011, 04:16:30 PM »

Well, I mistook the ending, too, but that's because I assumed from the clues dropped that the ghost was of her abusive *father* and she had to overcome her Daddy issues before she could settle down with Mr. Right.  I was slightly disappointed that it was just her abusive ex instead.  Likewise, I thought that she was going to use that ghost as an ersatz kinky lover-on-the-side in order to avoid actually betraying Mr. Right with another man, and I was slightly nonplussed when she didn't.

I enjoyed the story and would agree strongly with EP's description of it as a "mean, bitter, and empowering" story.  It's not my preferred flavor of empowerment, and I'm not sure if you can say "living well is the best revenge" when you're openly gaining pleasure from the revenge part, but it worked within the story.
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« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2011, 04:25:25 PM »

This story really worked for me, with some reservations.  And, even after reading Unblinking's analysis, I don't have a problem with the way POV was used here.  (Which is unusual for me - I'm often very much swayed by other people's opinions.)

I felt that the hide/reveal was pretty fair, in the sense of a good murder mystery, in which the author gives you just enough clues - but only just enough and no more - for you to figure out whodunnit.

Sure, the author uses misdirection and other tricks to try to make the reader misinterpret or miss the significance of the clues, but the clues are still there.  (One example from this story is the point at which Cory's mother said something about, "and in that house."  I assumed that she was referring to the rumours surrounding it, but of course, in hindsight, she was referring to the house that Cory herself lived in.)

Like a well-written mystery, I found the puzzle, and the revelation of the solution, to be quite satisfying.

My reservations about this story are similar to those of blueeyeddevil, regarding the reader's intended reaction to Cory getting away with murder (murder-plus, in fact).  However, it's not an issue with easy answers and I'm going to have to let it percolate some more.

Likewise, I thought that she was going to use that ghost as an ersatz kinky lover-on-the-side in order to avoid actually betraying Mr. Right with another man, and I was slightly nonplussed when she didn't.

Yes, exactly, except for the nonplussed part.  I was concerned about her taking the kinky lover, not because of the kink but because it was missing at least the first third, maybe two, of the "safe, sane and consensual" mantra that practitioners of kink should follow.  So for my part, I was somewhat relieved when my fears were unfounded.
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« Reply #16 on: February 10, 2011, 04:32:42 PM »

Likewise, I thought that she was going to use that ghost as an ersatz kinky lover-on-the-side in order to avoid actually betraying Mr. Right with another man, and I was slightly nonplussed when she didn't.

Yes, exactly, except for the nonplussed part.  I was concerned about her taking the kinky lover, not because of the kink but because it was missing at least the first third, maybe two, of the "safe, sane and consensual" mantra that practitioners of kink should follow.  So for my part, I was somewhat relieved when my fears were unfounded.

I dunno. She could be more Risk Aware Kink than Safe-Sane-Consensual. She certainly gathers enough information to imply an allegiance to RAK. RAK's a respectable point of view, even if you don't hold to it yourself.
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« Reply #17 on: February 10, 2011, 04:54:12 PM »

Were we told how much time has passed since she previously lived in that house? How old is she, again?
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« Reply #18 on: February 10, 2011, 05:01:37 PM »

Were we told how much time has passed since she previously lived in that house? How old is she, again?

The estate agent thought she was in her late 30s, and it was said that 20 years had passed. But the context for both those numbers made it clear that they weren't necessarily exact, so my guess is that she's in her early 40s and that she had lived there in her early 20s.

I really liked this story; my overall reaction was quite similar to Dave's in the outro. I have more to say, but no time to say it now - I'll try to post again later.
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« Reply #19 on: February 10, 2011, 11:34:41 PM »

I like this story. I'll need to re-listen to it at some point to really take it in though.

I actually partly called the fact that she was the women who was abused, although when the neighbours said that she was still in the mental asylum I dismissed it. I actually thought that the 'haunting' would actually be the neighbours fucking around (literally) with people as part of some weird kink. The way we had the anticipation of the man built up made me think they'd have a role in the reveal.

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