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Author Topic: PC152: The Hortlak  (Read 19338 times)
Talia
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« on: April 12, 2011, 05:34:39 AM »

PodCastle 152: The Hortlak

by Kelly Link.

Read by Eric Luke (of the Extruding America podcast).

Originally appeared in Ellen Datlow’s ghost story anthology The Dark.


Read the text here, or hear Kelly herself read this story.

Recently Batu had evolved past the need for more than two or three hours’ sleep, which was good in some ways and bad in others. Eric had a suspicion he might figure out how to talk to Charley if Batu were tucked away, back in the storage closet, dreaming his own sweet dreams, and not scheming schemes, doing all the flirting on Eric’s behalf, so that Eric never had to say a thing.

Eric had even rehearsed the start of a conversation. Charley would say, “Where’s Batu?” and Eric would say, “Asleep.” Or even, “Sleeping in the closet.”

Charley’s story: she worked night shifts at the animal shelter. Every night, when Charley got to work, she checked the list to see which dogs were on the schedule. She took the dogs—any that weren’t too ill, or too mean—out for one last drive around town. Then she drove them back and she put them to sleep. She did this with an injection. She sat on the floor and petted them until they weren’t breathing anymore.

When she was telling Batu this, Batu sitting far too close to her, Eric not close enough, Eric had this thought, which was what it would be like to lie down and put his head on Charley’s leg. But the longest conversation that he’d ever managed with Charley was with Charley on one side of the counter, him on the other, when he’d explained that they weren’t taking money anymore, at least not unless people wanted to give them money.


Rated R.

Editors’ Note: When this story was originally posted, somehow iTunes (and possibly other podcatchers) grabbed the wrong audio file. If the file you have is under 60 minutes, try re-downloading it. The correct file should be 70 minutes.

« Last Edit: April 14, 2011, 12:41:15 AM by Ocicat » Logged
Void Munashii
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2011, 10:01:15 AM »

Still listening, but there have been two lines I've really liked so far. One is:

"The customers is not always right, sometimes the customer is an asshole"

And the other inspired me to whip this up:

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DKT
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2011, 10:54:03 AM »

So, apparently whenever iTunes gets around a Kelly Link story at a PodCastle party, iTunes starts acting like a shy but sweet-spirited editor, tripping all over itself in excitement and awe. It can't even get the right words out of its mouth because: ZOMG KELLY LINK. And who wouldn't bumble about at that point, right?

So, when this episode was first posted, there was a link to Kelly Link reading this story (as Talia posted above). For some odd reason, iTunes grabbed that reading instead of the reading we posted. So if you downloaded a file that's under an hour long? Redownload this episode. It should be 70 minutes-ish in length.

Enjoy!
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2011, 11:00:57 AM »

So, when this episode was first posted, there was a link to Kelly Link reading this story (as Talia posted above). For some odd reason, iTunes grabbed that reading instead of the reading we posted. So if you downloaded a file that's under an hour long? Redownload this episode. It should be 70 minutes-ish in length.

Enjoy!

It wasn't just iTunes, actually. I use Juice, which doesn't use iTunes at all, and it picked up the extra file, too. Something about the way it was linked from the blog post must have made it look like an attachment to podcatchers.

Thanks for clearing that up - I was a little Huh about the extra file. Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2011, 11:10:23 AM »

I wondered if it might be other podcatchers too. Thanks for the confirmation. I just updated the blog post (and the OP in this thread) with a note.
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danooli
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2011, 12:29:09 PM »

whew! i was all confused this morning when i started listening. i really missed Dave's intro! and the reading was...uninspired.

that plus the ad that ran...

ok, a re-download is called for.
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2011, 12:50:57 PM »

I should clarify: Juice picked up both files.
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"People commonly use the word 'procrastination' to describe what they do on the Internet. It seems to me too mild to describe what's happening as merely not-doing-work. We don't call it procrastination when someone gets drunk instead of working." - Paul Graham
kibitzer
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« Reply #7 on: April 13, 2011, 03:26:15 AM »

I'm halfway through the Kelly Link reading. I was very confused when there was no Dave or theme but at least I understand that.

The story itself: I have no idea what it's about or where it's going.
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Rain
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2011, 07:35:59 AM »

It's been a while since we have had a really weird story on Podcastle. It was really strange, very odd and the ending made no sense. So basicly i loved it, it reminded me of The Ant King which is another of my favorite Podcastle stories.
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2011, 10:13:15 AM »

I listened about halfway through, and I didn't really get it.  I liked the macabre novelty pajamas with guillotines and bear-sized cats carrying children, but other than that nothing really seemed to happen.  Two guys never leaving a convenience store is an interesting idea, but by itself it doesn't keep me interested for more than 20 minutes, apparently.  There were mentions of zombies, but they didn't actually seem to be different than the other people so it was never clear what actually defined them as zombies. 

I must be missing some interesting subtext or something...

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Spindaddy
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2011, 03:40:15 PM »

I liked the reading of the story, but the story itself... well it just wasn't for me. I forced myself to listen to the whole thing but in the end, I really just didn't like the story.

What bothers me most is I don't know specifically why I didn't like the story. I suspect it was due to the characters and the setting just not sparking any interest in me. I felt like I was trapped on a bus or in an elevator with the MC and he's rambling on and on about how he ended up here. In the end, I was only listening to find out whether Charley became a zombie or Charley killed the MC after driving to the local makeout spot and convinced the kid to put his head in her lap. The actual ending didn't wrap anything up for me and just confused me more. In the end, the story left me convinced whatever message was imbedded in it I just didn't get--like it was some sort of inside joke I'm not privy too.

There were parts of the story I did like. I liked the line about the customer's not being right, sometimes being an asshole--that made me laugh. I also liked how the zombies weren't evil monsters out to destroy the world, just some natural part of the cycle of life and death. Call the zombies hobos or crazy homeless people and you have roughly the same effect. The descriptions of the displays inside the allnighter also made me smile.

Overall, the story reminded me of the numerous personal anecdotes I've heard from random people which then all end with "and that's when I swore I'd never do acid again!"
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2011, 04:30:16 PM »

I'm beginning to think that I don't really like Kelly Link's work - Some Zombie Contingency Plans didn't do it for me, either. There's a style of fantasy - possibly just a style of fiction - of which Kelly Link feels like a prime example. These are the stories where the plot is a weird, dreamlike series of events that always seems just about to resolve into sense, but ultimately fails to connect, right at the end. These stories are usually beautifully written, and almost never do it for me. It takes a lot of beauty to supersede my attachment to sensical narrative.

I'm afraid I've got to give this one zero Zeppelins. I didn't like it at all. Better luck next time!
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« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2011, 09:07:28 PM »

Long time listener, first time poster. I recently (finally ) caught up to the present, listening through all the archives. Been current for about two weeks now.

So I apologize up front for my first post being negative. I have to agree with Spindaddy's assessment... It was just too rambling and non-linear for my tastes. There were definite elements and ideas within the story that piqued my interest, but at the end I felt unsatisfied.

I remember the last story by this author, and I think I liked it a little better, but still seem to recall thinking at the end something along the same lines. "What was that even about?"
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Scattercat
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« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2011, 09:22:20 PM »

I think Kelly Link and audio are two great tastes that do not taste great together.  I love her books, but if I hadn't read the stories beforehand, I would have no way to follow the story at all.
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kibitzer
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« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2011, 09:31:45 PM »

Listened all the way through now. I'm afraid I still don't get it and that bothers me. I must have missed something somewhere.
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Scattercat
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« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2011, 09:33:42 PM »

Listened all the way through now. I'm afraid I still don't get it and that bothers me. I must have missed something somewhere.

That's normal with a Kelly Link story.  Don't worry about it.
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Rain
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« Reply #16 on: April 14, 2011, 12:33:08 AM »

This reminds me of the comments to the Escape Pod story 'The ’76 Goldwater Dime' which a lot of people dont like because it doesnt feel like a real story. For me its kinda like art, there doesnt nessecarily have to be something "to get"

Or maybe another way of explaining it is like a dream, dreams often make no sense when you wake up and can think back on them, but they can still be interesting.
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Ocicat
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« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2011, 12:47:35 AM »

Personally, I didn't like it, didn't dislike it. After awhile I stopped trying to make sense of it, and just let it roll over me.  I don't think I got the central metaphor, if there was one - but then again I've never really worked retail. But some of the images were quite good. Many of the pajamas, certainly.  But I think my favorite bit was this:

Quote
The zombies were like Canadians, in that they looked enough like real people at first, to fool you. But when you looked closer, you saw they were from some other place, where things were different: where even the same things, the things that went on everywhere, were just a little bit different.
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« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2011, 08:14:39 AM »

This reminds me of the comments to the Escape Pod story 'The ’76 Goldwater Dime' which a lot of people dont like because it doesnt feel like a real story. For me its kinda like art, there doesnt nessecarily have to be something "to get"

Or maybe another way of explaining it is like a dream, dreams often make no sense when you wake up and can think back on them, but they can still be interesting.


For me the two were very different.  In "76 Goldwater Dime" I was never confused about what was supposed to be happening. It was a little slow, but the premise, the character, and the details were very clear in my mind.  Very different from this one where after 20 minutes all I've gathered is that two guys live in an all night convenience store, and one of them has macabre pajamas.  There was some mention of zombies, but they didn't seem to be dead nor flesh eating, so were actually indistinguishable from other customers.

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bamugo
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« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2011, 08:30:56 AM »

So - did ANYONE really GET this story? I like stories that make you think - but I don't like post-modernist mumbo-jumbo that sets out to confuse you.

I didn't like this one for the same reason I didn't like Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse.
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