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Author Topic: Pseudopod 252: The Cord  (Read 12908 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: October 22, 2011, 02:00:44 AM »

Pseudopod 252: The Cord

By Chris Lewis Carter

More work by Chris can be found in 3AM Magazine, Word Riot, Murky Depths, and Nelson Literacy 8.

Read by David Michel .

“It’s just after midnight when her screams wake me. Loud, panicked shrieks that slice through my sleep-fogged brain like shards of glass.

“Carl! Get down here right now! Oh my God, Carl!”

I roll out of bed and stumble over to the window. Across the cul-de-sac, I see my neighbour, Mrs. Richardson, bathed in the dull glow of a street light. She’s wearing a flower-print nightgown and has a head full of curling rollers.

“What is wrong with you? Get down!”

Nearly half-way up the light pole she’s standing beside is her husband, Carl, his arms and legs locked tightly around the wood. He’s naked, except for a bright red bathrobe, which is untied and flapping in the breeze like a terrycloth flag.

“Help! Carl! Please, someone, help!””




Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2011, 06:08:36 AM »

I loved this. Absolutely loved it. I think it may be my new favorite Pseudopod ever.
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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2011, 07:50:17 AM »

Ehh, not so much for me.  I appreciate that it didn't lay it out baldly in the end, but it felt like it waited a little too long regardless.  As soon as he lied to his wife about what he saw outside, I started to wonder what on Earth motivated his actions.  As soon as he started to climb without calling the cops first, I figured it out.  There was a little bit too much attempt to make it "horrific" with the goofy leg-tearing thing; I was mentally tapping my foot, wondering how long he'd drag it out.

Still, it was cute.  If I'd read it, I'd have liked it a lot more; I'd have been able to speed up my reading and not have had to wait so "long" for it to finish up where it was clearly going.  I like the image of ants striving boldly to save their entire hill by climbing to the tops of grass stalks and vines, hallucinating some terrible ant-threat.  (Though I spent a fair amount of time thinking that, really, you'd probably just have most higher functions shut down and be kind of clumsily lurching around on pure lizard-brain with a need for height.  Cordyceps is creepy, but fungi aren't known for their predilection toward ironic twists.)
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2011, 08:26:37 AM »

Not a bad story.  Like scattercat, I knew something funny was going on the moment he didn't tell his wife.  There were numerous clues that all was not as it seemed, with the neighborhood not waking up for the yelling match, him putting on his climbing boots before he leaves the house, etc.  So it didn't really surprise me in the end, but not every story has to.  I enjoyed it well enough.

I think this is about the 5th story I've read that derives its plot from that parasite that makes ants cling to the top of blades of grass so that it will be eaten by sheep, the sheep poo will be eaten by slugs, and ants will eat the slug trail.  It was a very interesting science discovery, but I'm kind of ready to stop hearing stories inspired by it now.
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2011, 08:35:16 AM »

Not a bad story.  Like scattercat, I knew something funny was going on the moment he didn't tell his wife.  There were numerous clues that all was not as it seemed, with the neighborhood not waking up for the yelling match, him putting on his climbing boots before he leaves the house, etc.  So it didn't really surprise me in the end, but not every story has to.  I enjoyed it well enough.

I think this is about the 5th story I've read that derives its plot from that parasite that makes ants cling to the top of blades of grass so that it will be eaten by sheep, the sheep poo will be eaten by slugs, and ants will eat the slug trail.  It was a very interesting science discovery, but I'm kind of ready to stop hearing stories inspired by it now.

I wish, but this story was actually inspired by cordyceps, which is an actual thing distinct from sheep-slug-ant parasites, and actually works exactly as described in this story (though without the ant-farms-in-peril-hallucinations). Complete with the fungal stalk breaking out the back of the creature's heads. There are YouTube videos.
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« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2011, 08:47:37 AM »

Relevant>
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« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2011, 11:09:58 AM »

Not a bad story.  Like scattercat, I knew something funny was going on the moment he didn't tell his wife.  There were numerous clues that all was not as it seemed, with the neighborhood not waking up for the yelling match, him putting on his climbing boots before he leaves the house, etc.  So it didn't really surprise me in the end, but not every story has to.  I enjoyed it well enough.

I think this is about the 5th story I've read that derives its plot from that parasite that makes ants cling to the top of blades of grass so that it will be eaten by sheep, the sheep poo will be eaten by slugs, and ants will eat the slug trail.  It was a very interesting science discovery, but I'm kind of ready to stop hearing stories inspired by it now.

I wish, but this story was actually inspired by cordyceps, which is an actual thing distinct from sheep-slug-ant parasites, and actually works exactly as described in this story (though without the ant-farms-in-peril-hallucinations). Complete with the fungal stalk breaking out the back of the creature's heads. There are YouTube videos.

Ah, I did not realize that.  The climbing thing put me in mind of the ants climbing blades of grass to be eaten by sheep.  Never mind then!
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« Reply #7 on: October 24, 2011, 11:22:03 AM »

That is one of the most horrific videos ever. *shudder*
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« Reply #8 on: October 24, 2011, 11:30:23 AM »

That is one of the most horrific videos ever. *shudder*

I have never watched one of those videos and I never will. I know better.
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« Reply #9 on: October 24, 2011, 04:13:36 PM »

I didn't mind how long it took to get where it was going, because it was so short that I wasn't worried I'd never get there. The leg-removal was pretty gross; I have GOT to stop listening to PP while eating breakfast on the way to work.

The reader sounded a lot like Ben Phillips.
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2011, 06:38:19 PM »

I had a good time with this one.  I knew where it was going when he noticed that no one else was bothering to check their windows, and was even more convinced when people started noticing only when he began to shout.  Nonetheless, it was fun, the descriptions of the old man's leg and the sprout exploding from his head were awesome. 
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« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2011, 09:31:50 AM »

Creepy and wonderful, I loved this story. I didn't "get it" until much later, but that's part of the reason I love horror; I KNOW I'm naive and I generally understand "the reveal" when the author intends.
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« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2011, 12:08:36 AM »

I thought this one was creepy, but even more so after that YouTube video SC directed us to. Geez. I'll be having nightmares, but whether from PP or YT, i'm not sure.

Seriously, I did enjoy this one. I thought the leg being ripped from the socket was needlessly gratuitous and unrealistic (even if he was hallucinating).
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« Reply #13 on: October 29, 2011, 08:39:50 PM »

I really liked this one too. Third fungus/spore story I can think of that's been chosen this year.
I didn't catch on that there was no old man until rather late in the piece - I suppose I'm more into the journey than anticipating the destination.

I liked the detail of the leg dangling and tearing off. Nothing wrong with a bit of gross-out when it's done through writing. In fact, that's kind of what I'm hoping for with these fungus/spore/mould stories -- it's hard to replicate that revulsion and sensation that's similar to cluster-phobia through writing (compared to even just a photo) but I don't think it's impossible.
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evelet
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« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2011, 02:33:09 PM »

Yay for the fungi stories. Anything that lives and is not plant or animal is in the world of wrong. There is something uniquely disturbing about parasite horror ideas, which probably comes from the unwitting nature of the host (as illustrated here).

Yes, I saw it coming, but I loved it anyway.
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Umbrageofsnow
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« Reply #15 on: November 01, 2011, 03:54:18 PM »

The central twist wasn't that hard to see coming, but it did take me a bit. What I liked most was that the infected man couldn't figure out what was going on, even when it should have been obvious. This was definitely creepy, and a great SF conceit for a horror story. I do have a weakness for fungus though...

That said, it isn't as good as William Hope Hodgson's Voice in the Night. Maybe an unfair comparison but it's hard not to make it.

And my inner biologist got a bit annoyed with the philosophizing about nature regarding us as a big enough threat to give us a parasitic fungus. A) we have all sorts of fungal diseases already, including mind-altering ones, B) nature/evolution is not an intelligent force. And these just take away from my enjoyment without adding any elements of horror. Maybe it's my Lovecraftian predilections, but an uncaring universe seems scarier than an intelligent one.  Stop putting specious philosophy/concepts of evolution in my horror!

I did enjoy the story though, just not as much as Hodgson's.
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Balu
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« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2011, 07:29:04 PM »

I think this is about the 5th story I've read that derives its plot from that parasite that makes ants cling to the top of blades of grass so that it will be eaten by sheep, the sheep poo will be eaten by slugs, and ants will eat the slug trail.  It was a very interesting science discovery, but I'm kind of ready to stop hearing stories inspired by it now.

 Grin

It is cool though, isn't it?

It reminds me of that whole sigourney weaver/ichneumon wasp thing. Insects are just sooo fucking alien.
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« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2011, 03:24:30 PM »

It reminds me of that whole sigourney weaver/ichneumon wasp thing. Insects are just sooo fucking alien.

What was the Sigourney Weaver / ichneumon wasp thing?
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Jesse Livingston
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« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2011, 03:31:23 PM »

It reminds me of that whole sigourney weaver/ichneumon wasp thing. Insects are just sooo fucking alien.

What was the Sigourney Weaver / ichneumon wasp thing?

Alien(s)
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« Reply #19 on: November 06, 2011, 07:33:22 PM »

Haha, of course.
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