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Author Topic: PC Miniature 65: Blood Willows  (Read 2596 times)
Talia
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« on: July 24, 2011, 04:33:07 PM »

PodCastle Miniature 65: Blood Willows

by Caroline M. Yoachim

Read by Vashtriel Bloodfrost (Follow him on Twitter: @Vbloodfrost)

Originally published in Flash Fiction Online. Read it here!

“Bug bite?”

“It’s been like this for three days.  I’ve been nauseous, but I thought it was the twins.”  She picked at the bump with her fingernail and winced.

“Well that’s why it hasn’t gone away.  You’re picking at it,” he scolded, laughing and grabbing her hand.

There was a dot of blood on her fingernail.  He wiped it away and opened the medicine cabinet to look for a bandage.  When he turned around, Mara was crying.

A blood willow sapling was growing from her hip.


Rated PG
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Seekerpilgrim
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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2011, 02:07:55 AM »

VERY disappointing. Since no context was given on WHY trees are growing out of people (Post-apocalyptic vegetation? Alternate world? Magic kingdom?), one can only assume this was supposed to be some kind of allegory about cancer, but with flat characters, a narrator who is sounds like he is DESPERATELY trying to add emotional depth, and a predicable, drawn out ending complete with bizarre pun ("I'll come climb you tomorrow") it fails miserably.  Sad
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olivaw
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« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2011, 04:58:51 PM »

I was prompted to remember 'the Notebook of my Favourite Skin-Trees' from Escape Pod, which could almost be set around the same condition.

In both cases, they take something that ought by all rights to be Cronenbergian body-horror, and transform it into something more real. In this case, something terrible and tragic but still beautiful.
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Anarquistador
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« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2011, 07:06:56 PM »

BWAAAAAHHHHH!

That was frigging HORRIFYING! Like something out of Clarke Ashton Smith. To be turned into a tree...gah...
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« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2011, 02:42:35 AM »

That was a pretty good reading; for a moment or two, I thought it was Rajan Khanna.
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Spindaddy
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« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2011, 10:47:03 AM »

Kind of weirdly disturbing. I'm not sure whats worse, watching his wife die or drawing the conclusion this is some sort of hereditary thing and he would probably watch his children suffer the fate. Crazy, crazy world. I think I was more affected by this mini than the paper mengarie.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2011, 12:30:10 PM »

Oh gosh, this was awful! (in the best way possible, of course) Like olivaw, I couldn't help but draw comparisons to "The Notebook of my Favourite Skin-Trees" and thought that this was a much more interesting treatment of the concept of skin-trees.
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acpracht
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« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2011, 08:32:54 AM »

"My Favorite Skin Trees" go malicious. Not a bad story, though the audio quality was iffy and I was completely lost at the children's voices...

I'm curious from the author: are the blood willows metaphors for cancer?
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Gamercow
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2011, 10:06:54 AM »

*shudder* so creepy.  As a kid, I had nightmares of trees growing out of me.  Since then, the VERY disturbing images of a 4 foot worm being pulled out of someone's leg 1/2 inch at a time, and some sort of frogs that hatch from their mother's back by breaking through the skin, hundreds at a time, have stuck with me in very negative ways.   This story gave me the heebies jeebies, big time. 
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2011, 11:15:17 AM »

Yes, I too thought of "My Favorite Skin Trees", but instead of a playful sexy reading there was dark, disturbed, ominous reading. 180 degrees in tone... as was the story. The two should be packaged together under "Pluses and Minuses of Human-Plant Symbiosis"
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danooli
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« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2011, 06:48:31 PM »

I used to like trees.   Embarrassed

Who's mother was Grandma Angie??
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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2011, 05:27:16 PM »

I don't have much to add (other than agreeing that this was disturbing on a very visceral level!) other than to say that the choice of narrator was very fitting. Vashtriel's voice was deep and set a very ominous tone, yet it carried enough warmth to convey the humanity if the piece. Of course this only made the story even creepier!
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mbrennan
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« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2011, 01:41:46 AM »

Can't say I was a fan of this one.  Since it didn't go anywhere that wasn't clear right from the start, all I got out of it was ten minutes of a woman suffering terribly.  Since I'm not a huge fan of horror to begin with, and not at all a fan of feminine body-horror, this really did nothing for me.
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eytanz
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« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2011, 02:35:20 AM »

Can't say I was a fan of this one.  Since it didn't go anywhere that wasn't clear right from the start, all I got out of it was ten minutes of a woman suffering terribly.  Since I'm not a huge fan of horror to begin with, and not at all a fan of feminine body-horror, this really did nothing for me.

That's more or less my reaction as well. Well, I think - perhaps because I am a man - I also got the anguish of the husband who has to see his wife suffer from a disease which he cannot do anything about. But neither type of suffering is exactly appealing, nor does the story seem to have much to add to the situation beyond a new metaphor. Well written, well narrated, but not particularly appealing.
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Lionman
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« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2011, 04:25:12 PM »

I don't think this one really caught my fancy.  It was well thought out, I'm certain...it just didn't grab me in a way that it may have other readers.
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FireTurtle
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« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2011, 04:31:43 PM »

FWIW: I listened to this on my way in to work at 2:30am. So, my brain was in a far different place than it normally is. THat being said, I nearly didn't get out of the car so I could hear the ending. (common sense prevailed and I got out and finished the story at 5am on the way home)

Well, that was different. I've got to say, it was a far more visceral experience than Notebook of My Favorite Skin Trees. Skin trees glossed over some of the more obvious, er...complications, of having symbiotic vegetation. I liked the subtle analogy to a fatal congenital condition or perhaps cancer. The total consumption of the wife by the trees was very moving for me. I know some people have said this seems more like watching someone suffer, or female torture or what-not, and I can see that. I, however, like to read about death on occasion. Good death, particularly. Not the "violent bloody gory" kind. The "peaceful surrender to the inevitable" kind. This likely stems from the nature of my occupation.
Some of us need to believe in glittery purple unicorns, some of us in manly barbarians that get a little rape-y (but not to much), and I need to fantasize about people dying a good death. It takes all kinds....

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« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2011, 07:54:35 PM »

I certainly have mixed feelings about this one. The story in one sense felt incomplete; the listener is only given a brief glimpse into the story and what is presented left me with a number of questions. While this is frustrating, it does place the listener in the position of "the outsider," and removes any power the listener might have to try to solve (or even truly understand) the issue, which is kind of cool. I don't know if the author intended this, but that's what I got out of it. And even though the story may have been underdeveloped, the imagery was quite moving. Very Cronenbergian, indeed.
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« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2011, 09:26:32 PM »

Another "Lost Episode".
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ItCameFromTheWest
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« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2011, 08:34:19 PM »

meh
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kibitzer
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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2011, 10:20:18 PM »

meh

Haven't heard that for a while Smiley
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LaShawn
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« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2011, 04:31:30 PM »

I've read this one too before it came here. The narrator though was positively chilling, turning what I thought was a sad story into a chilling tale. Brrrr. Tell me you'll use him again for Halloween.
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Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #21 on: August 30, 2011, 03:43:23 PM »


Because - at least in part - of this thread, which I would encourage newer participants to take a look at.
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« Reply #22 on: October 21, 2011, 07:41:27 AM »

Hey, I know this story!  This came through the slush during the time when I was slushreading for Flash Fiction Online.  Good to see one of those stories continuing to find an audience!

As others have said, this one definitely brought to mind "Skin Trees"., but this one seemed a much more honest treatment of the concept.  Having a tree growing out of me sounds excruciatingly painful, and also wearying of carrying the heavy burden of that trunk.  Tree roots tend to be pretty destructive of the things they wrap around, so I wouldn't expect them to have much benefit for one's internal organs.  So I liked that the tone and content fit more closely what I'd expect from a flesh-rooted tree story.

But really like this one overall.  Like mbrennan said, nothing really happened that wasn't already told to you from the first scene, so the only thing that happened is watching more suffering.  It seemed like the timeline jumped back and forth with reckless abandon and I couldn't discern where the section breaks were, so I found it needlessly confusing trying to follow something that didn't need the jumbled chronology.  The reading seemed a bit overdramatic, but I think that may have been more an aspect of the story to me than the reading itself--the story itself didn't really hold that much tension, so when the reading had high tension it seemed to clash to me.

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