Escape Artists
December 10, 2018, 11:57:17 PM *
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 308: The Crawlspace  (Read 3969 times)
Bdoomed
Pseudopod Tiger
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4874


Mmm. Tiger.


« on: November 17, 2012, 09:22:55 AM »

Pseudopod 308: The Crawlspace

by Russell Bradbury-Carlin

“The Crawlspace” has not been published elsewhere. It is making its debut on Pseudopod.

Russell Bradbury-Carlin is a part-time writer living in Western Massachusetts. His short stories have appeared in Midnight Screaming, Lark’s Fiction Magazine, Weird Year, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, amongst others. You can find out more at Russellbradburycarlin.com.



Rish Outfield is your reader this week. Rish is the host of the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, which presents genre stories with a full cast, music, and sound effects. Also, for dismissing an enchantress in his youth, was transformed into a hideous beast, never to be loved or respected until Michael Bay can learn to hold a camera steady. Rish can be heard on Dunesteef, but on cold, windy nights like tonight, you can sometimes hear him feeling sorry for himself, out on the moors..



“There was a splash where there shouldn’t have been. Reed was shoving handfuls of dirty clothes into the washing machine when he stopped to listen closely. The sound seemed to have come from beneath the small wooden plank in the corner –- the one that covered the entrance to the crawlspace under the house. The splash had sounded distinctly like a weighty object –- a hand, maybe — slapping the surface of a body of water.

The laundry room was a small concrete-floored space between the main house and the garage. Reed had done everything he could to minimize his time in that room and to try and ignore the crawlspace’s entrance. This was made a bit easier due to the small wooden plank’s inherent “hiddenness”. It was covered with layers of dust the same color as the concrete. And veils of cobwebs hovered over it which held the threat of spiders, centipedes, and other creepy-crawlies. The corner seemed to exude a force of avoidance and Reed had been more than happy to comply.

The entrance was barely large enough to allow an average-sized adult to slip down into the dirt-floored space beneath the house. Reed had watched the hefty home inspector squeeze through the hole a few months earlier before he and his wife, Maisy, bought the house. Once the inspector pushed through the narrow opening, Reed saw that there was a bit more room for someone to, literally, crawl under the first floor. While watching the older man slide into the dark space, Reed’s mouth had gone dry and he suddenly had difficulty swallowing.”



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?
Swamp
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2227



WWW
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2012, 12:49:50 AM »

I really enjoyed this story.  Even though it was an open ending, we all know what was going to happen, right?  I couldn't think of a better voice for this that Rish Outfield.  I like the very personal touches in the story.  The friends were comforting to the MC, but I don't really think he should have trusted them.
Logged

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 6101



« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2012, 04:40:04 AM »

What a delightfully cheerful ending - guy and his wife now get to party forever with all their friends!

....

....

What?
Logged
Swamp
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2227



WWW
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2012, 11:21:58 AM »

**Spoilers**

But was his wife really there?  Or was she sound asleep upstairs while her schizophrenic husband committed suicide?

**End Spoilers**
Logged

Facehuggers don't have heads!

Come with me and Journey Into... another fun podcast
eytanz
Moderator
*****
Posts: 6101



« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 11:46:01 AM »

**Spoilers**

But was his wife really there?  Or was she sound asleep upstairs while her schizophrenic husband committed suicide?

**End Spoilers**

Yeah, I don't think she was there. IIRC, he said something about leaving her in bed; and her behaviour towards the end was not really in line with her character earlier. Not to mention that it would be quite unlikely that they're both managing to have secret meetings with the crawlspace people while the other is asleep, timed so that neither of them noticed anything for so long.

What I'm less clear about is whether he was crazy or whether there was anything supernatural going on.
Logged
Bdoomed
Pseudopod Tiger
Moderator
*****
Posts: 4874


Mmm. Tiger.


« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2012, 04:28:12 PM »

I like to think it really WAS festive down there. There was nothing had going on at all.
Right?


...

Right?
(So nice NOT having a crawl space right now)
Logged

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?
chemistryguy
Matross
****
Posts: 261


Serving the Detroit Metro area since 1970


WWW
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2012, 07:08:02 AM »

Two quotes came to mind

"Everything floats down here" - Pennywise the Clown

"It's a trap" - General Ackbar

You have to bite back a lot of childhood fears when venturing into the crawlspace.  It's so fine to have a real basement now. 

**Spoilers**

But was his wife really there?  Or was she sound asleep upstairs while her schizophrenic husband committed suicide?

**End Spoilers**

Yeah, I don't think she was there. IIRC, he said something about leaving her in bed; and her behaviour towards the end was not really in line with her character earlier. Not to mention that it would be quite unlikely that they're both managing to have secret meetings with the crawlspace people while the other is asleep, timed so that neither of them noticed anything for so long.

What I'm less clear about is whether he was crazy or whether there was anything supernatural going on.

I'm a fan of the open ending.  Either the guy has disappeared and his wife will begin hearing random splashing, or she's going to find her dead hubby floating under the house with a smile plastered on his bloated face. 

It is possible that happy, fun-time rainbowland exists under the crawlspace.  But not on Pseudopod.

Logged

Kaa
Hipparch
******
Posts: 614


Trusst in me, jusst in me.


WWW
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2012, 08:43:24 AM »

I liked this one. The ending could only have been what it was, given that this is PseudoPod rather than PodCastle or Escape Pod. So I was expecting that.

However, I did say, aloud in the car upon hearing the closing music begin, "Wait! What? That's IT?! You can't just . . . well, okay, I guess so."

I, too, was struck by the unavoidable Pennywise connection.

The one thing that disappointed me about the story was that the character (I forget his name at the moment) didn't do the scientific thing and check to see if his old teacher really was in a home with Alzheimers, or that his crush was a stripper in Reno, or that his childhood bully was . . . whatever he was. That should be fairly easy to check. Then he would KNOW whether he was making up the whole thing or if it was all a twisted fantasy.

That's what *I* would have done, anyway.

I mean, you know . . . right after I sat in the corner gibbering for a while. Like you do.

(Of course, then would have come the question of whether I had managed to look up this information while in some sort of fugue state and then just incorporated it into my fantasy . . .)

Oh! And YAY to Rish Outfield's reading. Awesome.
Logged

I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

About writing || About Atheism and Skepticism (mostly) || About Everything Else
Listener
Hipparch
******
Posts: 3187


I place things in locations which later elude me.


WWW
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2012, 10:40:23 AM »

I think what I liked most about this story was that, while it was horror, it didn't necessarily have a frightening ending. There were some scary moments for the MC, but overall it seemed as though the ghosts under the house (or whatever they were) would rather use honey instead of vinegar to trap their prey. I chose to see them as relatively benevolent, although I guess they might not have been. We don't know what's going to happen to the MC once he's in there... but maybe it really is a party.

I enjoyed the episode.
Logged

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42
Scattercat
Caution:
Hipparch
******
Posts: 4847


Amateur wordsmith


WWW
« Reply #9 on: November 24, 2012, 03:17:18 AM »

maybe it really is a party.

Or at least maybe he'll never have a chance to realize the difference.

I was a little taken aback by the turn of the tone when the childhood bully showed up.  Initially, I thought this was going to be one of those slow-build gaslamping stories, and when the bully initially appeared, my heart sank because it's really hard to make a scary childhood bully, and the dialogue seemed especially awkward.  When the English teacher showed up, though, everything clicked back into place, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the story.  My one real complaint might be that there was a really, really long and slow intro, and the line into madness seemed to just zip right past without enough time to savor the transition.  I think it might have gone better if he had traveled to the crawlspace that last time intending to tell them to just leave him alone and end it, and the illusion of his wife is what pushed him over the edge.  As it was, he went there fully expecting to at least stick his head in the water, so his wife's urging felt superfluous.
Logged

---
Mirrorshards: Very Short Stories
100 Words.  No more.  No fewer.  Every day.
Splinters of Silver and Glass - The Mirrorshards Book
Metalsludge
Palmer
**
Posts: 67


« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2012, 12:24:42 AM »

I can see the Pennywise connection, but this one reminded me even more of Mars is Heaven by Ray Bradbury as both stories have possibly illusory people promising a heavenly condition as a possible trap to get potential victims to let their guard down. Of course, in Bradbury's story there is a conclusion that explains things, and here we only get a possibly grim but still open ending.

I agree with those here saying that the transition into possible madness is too quick. This kind of story in which nothing is explained can be made to be more interesting, as in Le Fanu's Green Tea where nothing is explained, but the ugly description of someone driven to madness by something that may or may not be supernatural is in itself engrossing.

In this story though, it all just feels too bare bones and even a little repetitive. Once I heard the first conversation with the figures in the water, the rest just seem to be repeating the theme of "Oh, by the way, did we mention it's a great party down here? Did we imply enough times that you should join us?", and then even the next to last line of the story repeats that same message yet again. At which point I am more exasperated than intrigued, especially after having seen the protagonist merely "go with it" the whole story having barely paused before doing so. I get it that he is supposed to be succumbing to something and is therefore not thinking rationally anymore, but he sure didn't put up much of a fight.

On a more positive note, the story's very inevitability helped make it a bit creepy. The voices pointing out that one would think that it's icky in the crawlspace but that it's actually great serves to remind the reader of how grim the reality of the crawlspace probably is.
Logged
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 8660



WWW
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2012, 09:40:00 AM »

Super creepy, a great Pseudopod episode.  I liked how the tone of the story shifted in the beginning from "creepy monsters or creep-crawlies under the house" when the bully showed up.  LIke scattercat I was a bit taken aback when that happened because it seemed out of place, but I liked it again when the bully admitted that he had grown up and this wasn't the bully at all, and then his teacher showed up.

It hadn't occurred to me that that wasn't his wife at the end, since the visions only had appeared in the crawlspace itself, but I guess that makes sense, since her hiding it hadn't seemed to match all that well with her prior behavior.  In any case, I don't think it's going to end well for him.  He's gonna drown.

The comparison to Pennywise is apt, but that wasn't what I thought of.  The visions reminded me of one of my own stories, "Door in the Darkness", published in Stupefying Stories a few weeks ago (usually when this kind of thing happens it's while my story is still in circulation, nice to come across something that reminds me of it AFTER my story is published for once).  The stories aren't all that similar, but the speculative element of this story coincidentally would make perfect sense in the world that I wrote.
Logged
yaksox
Palmer
**
Posts: 70



WWW
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2012, 05:43:46 AM »

Murky (unknown) water is definitely one of those universal, timeless archetypes. I can remember having a vivid dream about a small drinking-water tank my family had outside the backdoor. There was some kind of spore or fungus in there that had white, shiny trumpet-like thing protruding from it. So I could kind of dig where the author was drawing inspiration from with this one.

Also, great  narration -- especially liked Grandpa's voice.

For a while I was trying to work out what was the pattern as to who was down there under the house -- I don;t know that there was one, but I felt like there should've been.
Also, that was a pretty quick ending. Nothing wrong with that. I wasn't expecting it.
Logged
Listener
Hipparch
******
Posts: 3187


I place things in locations which later elude me.


WWW
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2012, 08:35:52 AM »

Also, great  narration -- especially liked Grandpa's voice.

Rish has a great talent for doing "older" voices -- men and women both. I wish I was half as good at it. My older characters always sound like they have rocks in their throats.
Logged

"Farts are a hug you can smell." -Wil Wheaton

Blog || Quote Blog ||  Written and Audio Work || Twitter: @listener42
lowky
Hipparch
******
Posts: 2697


from http://lovecraftismissing.com/?page_id=3142


« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2012, 08:45:39 AM »

Also, great  narration -- especially liked Grandpa's voice.

Rish has a great talent for doing "older" voices -- men and women both. I wish I was half as good at it. My older characters always sound like they have rocks in their throats.

It worked for Marlon Brando
Logged

liminalmike
Extern
*
Posts: 4


« Reply #15 on: May 01, 2013, 08:33:30 AM »

In this story though, it all just feels too bare bones and even a little repetitive. Once I heard the first conversation with the figures in the water, the rest just seem to be repeating the theme of "Oh, by the way, did we mention it's a great party down here? Did we imply enough times that you should join us?", and then even the next to last line of the story repeats that same message yet again. At which point I am more exasperated than intrigued, especially after having seen the protagonist merely "go with it" the whole story having barely paused before doing so. I get it that he is supposed to be succumbing to something and is therefore not thinking rationally anymore, but he sure didn't put up much of a fight.
I found the repetition to be effective. It was like GlaDOS in Portal offering moist, delicious cake. I interpreted it as the malevolent force doesn't quite understand humans yet, and this was the best thing that it thought it could offer as a lure.
Logged
Kaa
Hipparch
******
Posts: 614


Trusst in me, jusst in me.


WWW
« Reply #16 on: May 01, 2013, 08:53:01 AM »

I believe Pennywise the clown in Stephen King's It also used a similar tactic to lure kids. "We all float, down here."
Logged

I invent imaginary people and make them have conversations in my head. I also write.

About writing || About Atheism and Skepticism (mostly) || About Everything Else
Unblinking
Sir Postsalot
Hipparch
******
Posts: 8660



WWW
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2014, 08:21:45 AM »

I named this my #15 favorite Pseudopod episode:
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/08/podcast-spotlight-pseudopod/
Logged
Pages: [1]
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!