Author Topic: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane  (Read 14076 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« on: February 23, 2007, 05:08:23 AM »
Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane


By Daniel Abraham
Read by Stephen Eley

In the picture, Flat Diane has been taped around a wide pillar, her arms and legs bending back out of sight. A long black cloth wraps across where the eyes might be, had Ian drawn them in; a blindfold.

The man who Ian doesn’t know, has never met, is caressing a drawn-in breast. His tongue protrudes from his viciously grinning mouth, its tip flickering distance from the silhouette’s thigh. He looks not like Satan, but like someone who wishes that he were, someone trying very hard to be.

The writing on the back of the photograph is block letters, written in blue felt-tip.

It reads: Flat Diane has gone astray.

A new photograph comes every week. Some might be amusing to another person; most make him want to retch.

The best trick Hell has to play against its inmates is to whisper to them that this — this now — is the bottom. Nothing can be worse than this. And then to pull the floor away.



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Thaurismunths

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2007, 02:16:29 PM »
I have a pretty short list of things that can be qualified as "Justifiable Homicide", but this story pretty well covers one of them: A parent's right to protect their child.

A damn fine story. I was tense and angry for most of it. It read like a personal account rather than a work of fiction, which just made its grotesque nature all the more vivid.
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Monty Grue

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2007, 06:40:30 PM »
A creepy story and very well done.

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2007, 11:38:09 AM »
Nice! What might have been a fantastic opportunity for Diane to grow and gain new experiences is corrupted by simple mundane people.

I did have to delay listening to this episode due to it's length.  I wanted to be able to listen to it in one sitting.  As it happens, when I did begin listening I was interrupted anyway.  Despite that, more of this length, please.
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Thaurismunths

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2007, 12:01:14 PM »
I did have to delay listening to this episode due to it's length.  I wanted to be able to listen to it in one sitting.  As it happens, when I did begin listening I was interrupted anyway.  Despite that, more of this length, please.

You know, I didn't even notice how long this story was. : )
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SFEley

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2007, 02:54:05 PM »
You know, I didn't even notice how long this story was. : )

I did.  Oh, man, did I notice during editing.  >8->

Anyway, glad you all liked it.  I read this story when it first came out in F&SF a couple of years ago, and it was one of the most disturbing stories I'd ever read -- mostly for the reasons you describe, T.  It hits that deep "a man protects his children" nerve.  I was very glad when Ben and Mur decided to buy it for Pseudopod, and when Mr. Abraham accepted our offer for it.
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Thaurismunths

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2007, 03:50:34 PM »
Anyway, glad you all liked it.  I read this story when it first came out in F&SF a couple of years ago, and it was one of the most disturbing stories I'd ever read -- mostly for the reasons you describe, T.  It hits that deep "a man protects his children" nerve.  I was very glad when Ben and Mur decided to buy it for Pseudopod, and when Mr. Abraham accepted our offer for it.

I remember you mentioning it elsewhere on the forums as such, and was excited to see it on Pseudopod. I was expecting something a little more gory, but was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoy chilling stories that prod at the less probed, and thus less calloused, portions of my psyche. I was raised on a farm, have grown up watching horror movies, cleaned up after a friend decided to take the short way out of the gene pool, and consider myself a zombie aficionado, I'm familiar with gore. As such it takes more extreme acts of human on human violence to give me a chill, and that’s a boundary I don’t often enjoy crossing (it’s no longer that ‘fun’ way). But acts against children, animals, or other defenseless creatures, makes my stomach clench and puts my hair on end every time.
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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2007, 10:59:43 PM »
I really enjoyed this story, a lot of pseudopod stories kind of have this ending which leaves a person with the sense that the horror is just then about to begin, this well... the horror is one which you went through and while it hopefully is over, the trip was the scarring nastiness which affects your dreams for many of weeks, months, and years after.

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BSWeichsel

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2007, 03:27:30 AM »
Liked the story i really enjoyed the story even though i had trouble listening to it over wrestling. Im glad how the fact of Diane being linked to the drawing wasn't explored usually I don;t like that but this time i did.

And the Length didn;t bother me just make sure you have a audio thing about it in the beginning. I know I don;t look at that when I load it up on my iPod before I go out for the day
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darusha

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2007, 11:44:42 PM »
This story was great.  For me the most horrific part was the ending - the sense of hope and the idea that all will become normal again, when in fact there's no real reason to believe it to be so.  Terrifying stuff.

wakela

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2007, 11:54:14 PM »
Great story.  It was about the people, and not some convoluted supernatural logic like many horror stories are.  Flat Diane was not made from some ancient paper recovered from the estate sale of a voodoo priestess or the Lost Scissors of Blabidyblah.

Ian basically murders a guy who didn't do anything.  There is child pornography is his apartment ("and worse", whatever that could be), but there's not a bloody matress and handcuffs.  For all we know The Beast would never actually hurt a child.   But what happens to Diane because of The Beast's actions needs to be answered for, and Ian's actions are entirely justifiable...or maybe I should say "understandable."  I'm not sure that I wouldn't have done any different.   This unclear morality really gives the story some meat.

I particularly like the complex exchange between Ian and Toshiro (?) when Ian asks him to look after Diane.  The subtle mixture of trust, mis-trust, manly protectiveness, and manly stoicism, all with the undercurrent that Ian is telling his friend that he's about to commit murder is very real and powerful. 

Good ending.  This particuar situation is resolved.  But there isn't a sequel establishing final scene with another madman opening a mailing tube, and this leaves the whole thing unresolved -- in a good way.   Flat Diane is still out there, and Ian may never be able to protect his daughter. 

I didn't mind the length, itself,  but I don't think this story needed  it.  There passages like "Flying would have been quicker, but I had taken my gun out of storage.  You can drive with a gun, but you can't fly with one.  Well, maybe you can, but it's not easy."  I know about flying with guns, it does not need to be explained.  However for every one of these passages there were others that may not have been necessary, but added mood, like the half eaten egg on The Beast's breakfast table.

I thought the first half of the story dragged.  There are so many stories of broken families and so many actual broken families, that it wasn't that interesting to me.  I might have given up had it been more poorly written.  True that the rest of the story works better because of the relationships established with Kit and Toshiro, but I don't think the Scottish Gradmother added anything.

More of this please.

fiveyearwinter

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2007, 06:20:58 PM »
This story was powerful and disturbing. I agree that avoiding convoluted supernatural logic makes this story a lot more effective - it's much more powerful, I think, when writers leave the "concepts" (such as the link between Diane and Flat Diane) to the background and focus more on the development of characters and plot.

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2007, 04:31:22 PM »
I like most of the stories that have been posted on Pseudopod but I think this one just set a new standard for the podcast.  When I first heard that this story contained sexual content involving children, I was a bit nervous and put off listening for a day.  But I'm glad I listened to it.  This is easily one of the best (if not the best) stories that's been put up on Pseudopod.  And I have to say that this is probably my favorite of Steve's readings -- you just absolutely nailed it. 

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2007, 04:45:57 PM »
I'll do you one better.  I think this is the best story I've ever heard on both Pseudopod and EP.  This one knocked the skin off the ball.  It deserves every award it got and more.

I'm stunned at how good this tale was.
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Roney

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2007, 06:27:48 PM »
Stunning stuff.  For my money, the best Pseudopod story since "Bag Man".

And I did especially like Steve's reading.  All I'd say is that he needs to work on his pronunciation of Scottish place names.  "Glasgow" rhymes with "mango", not the American pronunciation of "Moscow".  But hey, at least he didn't have to attempt "Culloden" this time.   :)

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2007, 10:47:32 AM »
My daughter will be two this summer and, just like a father should, I worry about all of the "real monsters" out there. I felt every emotion that went through Ian. This freaked me out more than any "real" horror story could.

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2007, 12:23:44 PM »
Simply my favorite Pseudopod story. And one of my favorites from both "pods." I thought it was completely beautiful and upsetting and still very true.

I also agree with almost everything wakela said.

I particularly like the complex exchange between Ian and Toshiro (?) when Ian asks him to look after Diane.  The subtle mixture of trust, mis-trust, manly protectiveness, and manly stoicism, all with the undercurrent that Ian is telling his friend that he's about to commit murder is very real and powerful.
Yes. As a dad, every aspect of that situation seemed right, especially the conflicted parts. (I sincerely believe you, but my kid won't be staying over. To do the right thing, you may have to do something terrible. Etc.)

Quote
Good ending.  This particuar situation is resolved.  But there isn't a sequel establishing final scene with another madman opening a mailing tube, and this leaves the whole thing unresolved -- in a good way.   Flat Diane is still out there, and Ian may never be able to protect his daughter.
That to me was the tear-jerker, "truth" bit. This is, unfortunately, true of being a parent whether you're worried about "Flat Diane" or your kid just going to school by themselves. Plus, I loved how the Dad was also left with being completely unsettled. Having to worry about whether he'll be caught for the murder was the same kind of externalizing metaphor for his own (and all of our) tenuous abilities as parents, just as Flat Diane was another metaphor for the kid's "soul" being sent off on its own after her home life got shattered with divorce.

I'm grateful for for the chance to hear this story. Thanks! (And maybe after I force my wife to listen to it, she'll find a bit more interesting fare in sf/fantasy/horror.)

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #17 on: April 11, 2007, 07:38:52 PM »
i've listened to almost all of the stories from Pseudopod and so far this one was the best.  i'm a new listener, but i love what i'm hearing so far.  keep up the great work!

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2009, 03:40:15 AM »
Great story.  I thought it was going to be a light fare, but boy did it pick up momentum! 

Ian's shooting of the perv, was there supernatural influence?  It was a shot he couldn't make, in his own words.

By my estimation, this story had to take place in Nebraska or possibly Minnesota.  The drive time and other details place it there.

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2009, 04:59:41 PM »
This was a high quality piece of work, no doubt about it.  But I think it could've been better with a little trimming of the word count.  No big deal, I think that about a lot of stories.  I like my short stories short.

As others noted, I liked that the author didn't spend time making up justifications of why Flat Diane was linked to Diane.  She just was, and that's how it is.  I also liked how he didn't spend the entire story denying it.

The part I particularly liked was the conversation he had with Tahero, with his friend saying he trusted him, but still not allowing Kit to stay over.  The interaction between the men felt very real.

I don't feel he did the right thing by murdering that man.  The guy was a creep, no doubt about it, and certainly deserved to have charges pressed against him for sexual harassment, possibly sexual solicitation of a minor, because of the mailed pictures.  But I don't believe he had any inkling of a connection to a real person experiencing what he was doing.  I think it would've been better to start a police raid, perhaps at the most extreme to break into his house while he was at work and try to find Flat Diane, but murder was going too far.

I will say the one part I had trouble believing was that that guy would spend so many days and weeks performing those acts.  I mean, I could see a twisted individual doing that for a day or two, but really, what's the payoff for him?  I find it hard to believe that he didn't just get bored and move on.  And he's really TSTL for sending pictures of himself with it, as that alone could easily be construed as harassment and it wouldn't be that hard to track him down.

Over on the main Pseudopod page, someone made an interesting hypothesis that there is no speculative element here, that Flat Diane is not connected to Diane.  There is a point to that.  Diane could have found her dad's hiding place for the pictures, as kids sometimes do.  And she's so disturbed by those and by the recent breakup of her parent's relationship that she experiences very real mental trauma without actually being physically abused.

While it was a good story, stories about child abuse tend to get under my skin to the point that I doubt I'll listen to this one again, but I'm glad I listened to it once.  And I will now think twice before I make a tracing of a kid to send out.

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2009, 11:39:15 AM »
"Flat Diane has gone astray."

After that line, I could not listen to the rest. I think this is the only PP story so far, that I've voluntarily opted out of. Very nasty stuff, which I suppose means it succeeded as a horror story.

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #21 on: September 23, 2009, 05:39:02 AM »
About 130 stories later and the memory of this one still freaks me out. 

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #22 on: August 18, 2010, 09:10:06 PM »
This was a good one.  I thought the concept was very interesting and well executed.  It was a little slow in the beginning, but given the seriousness and depth of the subject matter - I did not object.  Not much else to say, this one really leaves a dark cloud afterward.

This could have easily made my top 10, but I think it was just a little too heavy for my tastes.

Great reading.
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Marlboro

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Re: Pseudopod 026: Flat Diane
« Reply #23 on: November 29, 2019, 10:55:19 PM »
Man, where's Flat Liam Neeson when you need him?

Looking at the other comments it seems as though most of the things I was going to talk about have already been mentioned. A very well written episode; the scene bet the two fathers was particularly well done. I also thought the ending was perfect. A completely happy ending would have felt like a copout.


My only nitpick: the dad accepted the supernatural goings on as a matter of course. He believes that his sister is in an abusive marriage on the basis of one unsubstantiated comment by his daughter and one photo. If he really did think something spooky was going on why didn't he get Flat Diane back then?



Over on the main Pseudopod page, someone made an interesting hypothesis that there is no speculative element here, that Flat Diane is not connected to Diane.  There is a point to that.  Diane could have found her dad's hiding place for the pictures, as kids sometimes do.  And she's so disturbed by those and by the recent breakup of her parent's relationship that she experiences very real mental trauma without actually being physically abused.


This is how I thought it would end.



« Last Edit: November 29, 2019, 10:58:00 PM by Marlboro »