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Author Topic: Pseudopod 299: White As A Bedroom Door  (Read 7311 times)


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on: September 14, 2012, 06:40:13 AM
Pseudopod 299: White As A Bedroom Door

By Nathaniel Lee.

“White As A Bedroom Door” is original to Pseudopod.

Nathaniel Lee is a writer living in North Carolina with his wife, child, and obligatory cats. He puts words in order, and sometimes people give him money for them. His work, including a full bibliography, can be found at his daily writing blog, Mirrorshards (see link under his byline above) where he publishes a 100-word story every day. “Gastrophidia” is currently available at Ideomancer. The Mirrorshards book, SPLINTERS OF SILVER AND GLASS has 100 of his drabbles, one flash fiction story (”The Lady of Tilmarine”) and one full-length short story (”Old Growth.”) It’s at Amazon (Kindle only, I’m afraid) here.

Your reader this week is the David Moore, who runs a gaming podcast called THE GAME MASTER SHOW, about sharpening your GM skills.

“The story she tells most often is not about any one person. In the story, Amber is a little girl, maybe five years old. She is sitting on her bed, in a darkened bedroom. The covers are thin, sometimes damp where she wet them. She smells sour sweat and urine, old cigarette smoke, spilled alcohol. The smells of home, as she thinks of them. They are almost comforting.

What isn’t comforting is the door.”

Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: September 15, 2012, 09:26:53 PM by Scattercat »

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


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Reply #1 on: September 15, 2012, 11:54:28 PM
My wife has battled depression off and on for years. At one point early in our dating career, she had a major depressive episode - and by major, I mean majorly scary. She was never suicidal - as she puts it "it's not that I wanted to die, it's just that I didn't care if I lived" - but she was anxious, scared, and overall, numb. I was her life line. I still remember those long, horrible conversations where I tried to convince her that there were good things in the world, that people didn't hate her, battling against the steamroller of her depression, all set in a long, dark, cold Ohio winter...

It was a bad scene.

Eventually, I also had to come to grips with my own salvation complex. The evil mouths were not being fair to the narrator, but it's still a quality that must be grappled with.

All in all, I really loved this story. It was creepy, atmospheric, and true enough to be horrible.

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Reply #2 on: September 18, 2012, 03:55:16 AM
I appreciate this story the more I think about it. The opening scene in particular provides a different kind of horror. Jesus, this kind of thing is truly the stuff of nightmares for me. I often experience unwanted thoughts as a symptom of my depression, and my brain coming up with the absolute worst things to do or say in any given situation is an every day occurrence for me. Being somehow unable to keep this stuff to myself would be truly horrifying.

I also recognised some of the thoughts and feelings that you can experience when looking after a depressed person (my wife also suffers from the illness), and though of course our situation is less extreme I am able to see and appreciate both sides of the coin. I care for my wife when she suffers a bout, and she does the same for me. What's funny is we're rarely depressed at the same time. Whichever one of us is struggling, the other one becomes incredibly strong, positive and supportive more often than not. Better than the alternative, I suppose, but the fact that someone else's suffering can make you forget your own and bring out the best in you is a good one and a bad one. As ElectricPaladin notes, some of the "salvation" emotions surrounding provision of this kind of support hit quite close to home. I try to be mindful of the down sides of two sufferers of depression living together as well as the positives. This story explored the experience in a new way, added a mortifying twist and really got me thinking. Good stuff!

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Reply #3 on: September 19, 2012, 05:12:02 PM
Wrote this ages ago in the Dead Journal era because I read one to many stories of this sort of activity. As someone familiar with abuse and it repercussions, this isn't meant to trivialize.

5 reasons it's better to cut other people rather than yourself

1. It's easier to do. Trust me when it doesn't hurt you personally, you can cut a whole lot longer.

2. It's therapeutic. If your own running blood makes you feel better, wait until you feel the blood of those who have wronged you running over your flesh washing away pain and cleansing the skin.

3. Cutting yourself makes you weak and you become easy prey. Cutting other people makes you strong. Sure it will be hard the first time, but no harder than it was the first time you cut yourself. Soon no one will be able to stand in your way.

4. It will boost your self-esteem. Soon you will realize there is no reason to punish youself for pain inflicted upon you by other people. Once you take the blame off your own head and place it squarly on the head of the ones who deserve it, you will understand your own self worth.

5. It can help by actually solving something. If you cut the people causing your problems as opposed to yourself, your problems might actually go away. Crying to yourself in your room won't solve anything. All of you little girls who think your lives are so terrible that the only release is through your blood, guess what? Your life is going to get progressively worse until you die. It is your choice and you have to make it now. Victor or victim, the decision is yours to make. Each cut you make brightens the life of those who would hurt you. So if you want to help your enemies destroy you, fine. Just remember, no matter how much stronger you think your demons are, if it bleeds you can kill it.


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Reply #4 on: September 19, 2012, 09:32:33 PM
Haunting, disturbing, and horrifying. It also reminded me a little bit of Charles Burns's Black Hole comic book, which is not a bad thing by any stretch.

Well done, Scattercat!


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Reply #5 on: September 20, 2012, 05:50:44 AM
It also reminded me a little bit of Charles Burns's Black Hole comic book, which is not a bad thing by any stretch.
That comic was messed up, for reals.  Didn't help that I was reading it at work, as it was in our Big Bag o' Library Books that we refill every week or so.  Not Work Safe!  :-D  I don't think it was in my mind at all as I wrote, but I'm flattered by the comparison. 

(I was actually thinking of a sixty-year-old ghost story in a collection I'd read which featured what at first I'd thought was a brilliant bit in which the characters were talking about how utterly terrifying the window - just the window - in the haunted room was and I said, "That is a totally sweet way to frighten by implication."  Then the evil ghost actually crawled through and was super boring and bland and basically the story was rubbish but I was like, "Dammit, at some point I'm going to write a story where there's something awful lurking just out of sight and it bloody well stays there."  Not the only source for this story, but definitely helped shape the structure by aiming the theme toward the unspoken and unseen.)

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Reply #6 on: September 27, 2012, 12:43:59 AM
Quite enjoyed this one. It was creepy, yet internally consistent. The pacing was good, leaving before the final scene is resolved so we don't know what finally happens.

Just what I want to find inside my future nightmares.


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Reply #7 on: October 02, 2012, 05:32:30 AM
I don't think I can give higher praise than to say tthis story left me quietly devastated and almost crying.
Sure it stirred up some very personal stuff but it was also well paced, immersive and reached deep inside me.


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Reply #8 on: October 02, 2012, 08:56:01 AM
This was an truly excellent story, and one that hit hard. I don't often like horror stories which start out as purely psychological then are revealed to have a supernatural element late in the story - almost always that revelation takes me out of it, and makes me find the whole thing ridiculous - but in this case, it worked really, really well.


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Reply #9 on: October 08, 2012, 02:11:30 PM
This has got to be one of my favorite Pseudopods of the year. Managed to hit very close to home for me, even though I've never cut myself or known anyone (to my knowledge) who has. That kind of insightful horror with very realized metaphors (letting out the pressure of unspoken thoughts) really works for me.


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Reply #10 on: October 12, 2012, 02:44:18 PM
I really enjoyed this story, although I feel that it needed one more "beat". As I saw it, the three beats were the grocery store, the couch, and then the bed scene which eventually became the horrific climax. I felt like I needed just a tiny something to bridge from the couch to the bed, something that gave me a little more foreshadowing that it was Amber's cut that was speaking.

But otherwise, great, great stuff.

It also inspired me to write a 5500-word story about endorphins, which I dashed off in just under three hours, and to me one of the biggest compliments I can give a writer is that his/her story made me want to write one of my own. So, I present that compliment to you. With my... um... compliments. Yeah. Those.

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Reply #11 on: October 18, 2012, 02:09:42 PM
The characters and events in this story felt very authentic.  They felt like real people, and this felt like a real telling of events.

But I hated it.

A great deal of that reaction is probably due to personal history.  When I was in my early teens, someone who was close to me told me they wanted to show me something cool.  What that something turned out to be was cuts that she had given herself.  Not attempted suicide cuts, but cutting flesh.  Freaked me the hell out.  I didn't know what to do, and I didn't end up doing anything (There are not many choices I regret in my life, but my inaction there was one of those few), but luckily her boyfriend took action (I'm eternally grateful for that), and helped her get the help she needed.   So the basis of this story hit a little too close to home.  

At the same time, although I felt that the characters and events were very true to life, I didn't really feel like the story really ADDED anything to the theme it was centered around.  They end in the same place that they started, with him trying to cope with his feelings that he might be helping her to be a savior more than for her sake.  I didn't feel like there was actually anything supernatural going on here, I don't think the mouths were anything but a metaphor for the voices inside his psyche that are trying to tear him down.  So in the end, to me, it was just an internal monologue of a man worried that he is doing good things for bad reasons.  I wanted something to happen, something to change.

« Last Edit: October 18, 2012, 02:11:59 PM by Unblinking »


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Reply #12 on: October 18, 2012, 09:46:22 PM
Good stuff. Made me wonder about the color of the wallpaper beyond the white door. I feel that it is probably Yellow.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”