Escape Artists
October 24, 2014, 09:40:09 AM *
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
News:
 
   Home   Help Search Login Register  
Pages: [1]
  Print  
Author Topic: Pseudopod 277: The Orchard of Hanging Trees  (Read 1922 times)
Bdoomed
Pseudopod Tiger
Moderator
*****
Posts: 3893


Mmm. Tiger.


WWW
« on: April 13, 2012, 11:39:54 PM »

Pseudopod 277: The Orchard of Hanging Trees

By Nicole Cushing.
This story is previously unpublished. The story is also available to read online at The Repository forum of Thomas Ligotti Online.

The anthology Werewolves & Shapeshifters: Encounters With The Beast Within includes Nicole’s short fiction (alongside stories by Neil Gaiman and George R.R. Martin). Her work also appears in the Cemetery Dance Richard Laymon tribute anthology In Laymon’s Terms.


Your reader this week is Jonathan Sullivan, who regularly reads for ESCAPE POD.


“It’s another cool April morning in Hell, and the hanging trees (just saplings, really) are starting to sprout fleshy, strangled buds that look like choking fetuses caught up in tiny, umbilical nooses.

Their embryonic faces haven’t yet developed features, but I know as the days get longer their lips will grow into a grimace; their eyes will ooze agony. I have already been warned that their first cries (when they can utter them) will be those of breathless suffering. Their first words, pleas for help. The curses will follow shortly thereafter.

But right now, as fetus-flowers, they only emit shrill, staccato mews. But even this meager vocalization makes me shudder. I lower my glance from the entire orchard, feeling disgust for the day ahead. I whistle a tune to distract myself from the noise of thousands of semi-sentients who exist in a state of more-or-less continuous suffocation; those to whom full-sentience will bring only misery.

I am not, after all, a monster – even if I am in the employ of Hell. Even if (as my fellow laborers predict) some of the fruit will grow up to call me “Demon”, this is an absurd epithet. I do not want to be in this position. But my cares, my wants, my sense of being an individual with free will – these are things of the past. Shams more easily harbored during a lifetime marinated in the sweet sauce of ignorance.”




Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
Logged

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?
Musings and Ramblings
AliceNred
Palmer
**
Posts: 79



« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2012, 10:44:06 PM »

Greetings Pod People,

I felt the story was descriptive, with touches of poetry.

I really liked the reading by Jonathan Sullavan, especially the snake.

The setting was great, unpleasant, and not your typical take on hell.

I like that the story seemed to be have a dash of The Divine Comedy, with a Bible myth that many will know. This time a man was driven to pick from the tree. He rejects all efforts to grow, to increase his knowledge. His believes it was better to stay with demon you know, even if you don't recognize it him especially in yourself.

Most of us would say we are good guys. We aren't bad, or fools, or demons. Part of who we are is how we see ourselves but part of who are is how others see us as well. And who we really are is our actions. Be bold.

I wonder... do you think when the snake ate the fruit and went into the darkness was he delivering them to a new place?  

May the fruit of your labors be sweet.

Mari
http://alicenread.tumblr.com/
« Last Edit: April 15, 2012, 12:07:38 AM by AliceNred » Logged

Stop throwing gnomes at me. They hurt.
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 860


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2012, 02:49:26 PM »

This was possibly my favorite Pseudopod story of all time. I barely know where to start.

Ok, first of all, the reading. I loved the working class evil of the foreman. The matter-of-fact, friendly, almost fatherly abomination of that character really helped to sell the story for me. The snake, the narrator, and the hanging fruit were all similarly well-read and well-acted.

Secondly, the pacing. The story had a perfect progression, telling the story of how someone decides that the suffering of their fellow humans is not their fault. I love how the nameless narrator had plenty of opportunities to change his ways, but never did. His damnation was almost Greek in its progression, and his fatal flaw - selfishness, blindness, passive sadism - fully explored. This story was the epitome of "getting what they deserve" horror, in way that charmed and horrified me.

Really, this story had it all. Five sad zeppelins out of five.
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
dragonsbreath
Palmer
**
Posts: 41


« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2012, 09:22:11 AM »

This was a great story. A wonderful telling of how passivity in the face of evil-doing can be nearly as damning as actually perpetrating the evil. How much better would the world be; how much less bloody our history would be; if all the good people stood up to those that would do evil, sooner rather than later.
Logged
yaksox
Palmer
**
Posts: 70



WWW
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2012, 09:28:28 PM »

I also quite liked this one. My regular listening time has changed to a thurs nite on the bus on the way home from work -- as a consequence I'm a bit more easily distracted, and I was a bit with this one until it got to the erotic bit.
I guess that says something about where I am on the long road that's alluded to in this story.

I also liked the foreman's accent but couldn't decide if it was New York(?) or Russian. All up the narration was great.
And in general it was nice to hear a contemporarily-written, horror-horror story rather than SF-horror.
Logged
Jeff C. Carter
Extern
*
Posts: 14



WWW
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2012, 12:33:29 AM »

Hey Poddy people,

I thought this story was incredibly good.  The imagination on display here was horrifying! 

This is one of the most disturbing visions of Hell I've ever encountered, and I get the feeling that this was just a tiny corner of a well run, sadistic, nightmare world.  As dark as this story was, I would be interested in other stories in this setting.

bonus points for the shout out to 'Tiamat'!
Logged

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

http://jeffccarter.wordpress.com/
Scattercat
Caution:
Editor
*****
Posts: 4400


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2012, 07:53:47 AM »

My favorite part of this story was the demon's vaguely New-York-flavored accent, which I really doubt was in the original text.  (If it was, brava.)  The story itself didn't quite thrill me; I'm rarely a fan of this sort of just-desserts afterlife story.
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
AliceNred
Palmer
**
Posts: 79



« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2012, 05:31:29 PM »

Interview with the writer Nicole Cushing the author of The Orchard of Hanging Trees.

http://alicenread.tumblr.com/

I hope you will give it a read.  Grin
Logged

Stop throwing gnomes at me. They hurt.
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 860


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2012, 05:43:22 PM »

My favorite part of this story was the demon's vaguely New-York-flavored accent...

There's some actor he sounded like. Can anyone place it?
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
H. Bergeron
Palmer
**
Posts: 55


COACH! Check this out!


« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2012, 03:36:42 AM »

My favorite part of this story was the demon's vaguely New-York-flavored accent...

There's some actor he sounded like. Can anyone place it?

I was getting a pretty strong Christopher Walken vibe, personally.


Definitely enjoyed this story.
Logged

Formerly Ignoranus - now too big for my britches, literally and figuratively.
ElectricPaladin
Hipparch
******
Posts: 860


Holy Robot


WWW
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2012, 08:06:02 AM »

My favorite part of this story was the demon's vaguely New-York-flavored accent...

There's some actor he sounded like. Can anyone place it?

I was getting a pretty strong Christopher Walken vibe, personally.

Yeah, that's who it was!
Logged

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.
rotheche
Palmer
**
Posts: 31


« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2012, 02:39:13 AM »

Yeah, I had an "OMG, Christopher Walken is Hell's foreman!" moment in there too.

I loved this one.  Really, truly disturbing.
Logged
countblackula
Palmer
**
Posts: 24



WWW
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2012, 10:16:06 AM »

I'm surprised this thread isn't flooded with praise. This was one of the best stories I've heard all year. The set-up was great, the ambience was great, and the finale topped it all off very well. I look forward to hearing more from her.
Logged

eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4685



« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2012, 12:28:25 PM »

Like Scattercat, I'm not a big fan of afterlife punishment stories. This one had some good imagery and a pretty well-written main character, but it sort of felt like the stakes were very low - everything worth losing was already lost pretty early into the story (since it was clear the guy wouldn't actually get the point of his punishment until it's too late).
Logged
zoanon
Peltast
***
Posts: 98



« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2012, 03:39:51 PM »

this was awesome! loved the callousness when he broke the rules for lust but not for sympathy, excellent picture of a personality type I thought. 
Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 6447



WWW
« Reply #15 on: May 15, 2012, 08:40:12 AM »

I love afterlife stories!  This probably wasn't my favorite of that type, since it is a "just desserts" type story, and the ending is inevitable from very early on, but I still like to see alternatives to traditional tellings of the afterlife.  There were a lot of interesting ideas here, particularly the reversal of the Garden of Eden story.

The main thing that I though could've done better is that it seemed to be that his options were a real no-brainer even to someone who isn't empathetic.  You can A.  Spend eternity tending morbid disgusting corpse trees.  or B.  End everything by freeing one.  I'm generally not a fan of suicide as a solution, but here nothingness seems so obviously better than the alternative, AND you can benefit someone else in the process.

The reason I thought it could've been better is that it sounded like this was a special hell for a passive sort of sin, where one stands aside while a crime is being committed rather than stepping forward.  But their "2nd chance" is so much more clean-cut a choice than their first failure.  In real life, stepping into a situation like that can have real and terrifying consequences, while here the decision seemed like it was much more obvious than it ought to have been.
Logged

--David Steffen
The Submissions Grinder:  Fiction market listings, submissions tracker, always free, poetry and nonfiction markets coming soon!
Fenrix
Curmudgeon
EA Staff
*****
Posts: 2480


Have you found the Yellow Sign?


« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2012, 07:17:57 PM »

I really dig the use of the perfect word in a proper manner. This story and its use of "antediluvian" pushed that button.
Logged

I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Umbrageofsnow
Hipparch
******
Posts: 752


Commenting by the seat of my pants.


« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2012, 11:44:14 AM »

Hate Afterlife stories in general, with the possible exception of ...

!!!!!TWO YEAR OLD PODCASTLE SPOILERS!!!!!

the ending of "Smokestacks Like the Arms of Gods."

The imagery was great and it had a nice Dante feel.  Loved the Foreman, but I was still not as excited about the story as I should have been, given the imagery and good characterization.  Partly "gets what he deserves" isn't a favorite form of horror for me, but I think it's also the fact that I don't believe in an afterlife, and (serious) stories with that conceit have a higher suspension of disbelief threshold to overcome for some reason, as well as the lack of stakes mentioned above.

One exception: there was a Pseudopod story from a long time ago about a group of students/researchers trying to figure out what happens after death and being mentally scarred by whatever it was they saw.  Does anyone know what story that was?
Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 6447



WWW
« Reply #18 on: July 11, 2012, 08:49:16 AM »

One exception: there was a Pseudopod story from a long time ago about a group of students/researchers trying to figure out what happens after death and being mentally scarred by whatever it was they saw.  Does anyone know what story that was?

I believe that would be The Greatest Adventure of All by Ian McHugh, Pseudopod 130:
http://pseudopod.org/2009/02/20/pseudopod-130-the-greatest-adventure-of-all/

Logged

--David Steffen
The Submissions Grinder:  Fiction market listings, submissions tracker, always free, poetry and nonfiction markets coming soon!
Pages: [1]
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.20 | SMF © 2013, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!