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Author Topic: Pseudopod 319: Cell Call  (Read 13495 times)

Bdoomed

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on: February 02, 2013, 07:34:39 AM
Pseudopod 319: Cell Call

by Marc Laidlaw

Cell Call” first appeared in BY MOONLIGHT ONLY (2003), a British small press collection edited by Stephen Jones. It has been reprinted several times since then. It has been adapted twice by independent film directors - once in the U.S., under its original title, and another version currently underway in Ireland under the title NIGHTLINE. “I was one of the last people I know to get a cell phone… I wrote this story around the year 2000 and was afraid it would date very quickly as cellphones became historical artifacts. If I were writing it now, I would probably have to update it and call it something like “Text Mess.”

MARC LAIDLAW published published half a dozen novels and many short stories before becoming a writer at Valve Software, where he wrote the HALF-LIFE series of games, and for the past few years has been writing dialog and lore for the competitive online game DOTA 2.

George Cleveland - is your reader this week. George lives in Tamworth, NH where he cares for cats with Attention Deficit Disorder. He is the Executive Director of the Gibson Center for Senior Services in North Conway. For many years, George was known as The Voice of the Valley on New Hampshire radio, where he conducted over 3500 interviews with newsmakers from all parts of the world - George has spoken with most major Presidential candidates, a representative of an interplanetary confederation and many noted authors and musicians. An avid collector of tales and legends, he sniffs out new hauntings and reports of long lost treasure. He has frequently written on people and places of interest, including musicians and artists and has appeared before numerous historical and school groups in the United States and Hawai’i speaking about his grandfather, former President Grover Cleveland. He was featured on C-SPAN’s ‘American Presidents’ series when they broadcast from Cleveland’s birthplace in Caldwell, New Jersey.



“”I have to throw on some clothes. I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

“Okay.”

“Bye.”

It was an unusually protracted farewell for such a casual conversation. He realized that he was holding the phone very tightly in the dark, cradling it against his cheek and ear as if he were holding her hand to his face, feeling her skin cool and warm at the same time. And now there was no further word from her. Connection broken.

He had to fight the impulse to dial her again, instantly, just to reassure himself that the phone still worked - that she was still there. He could imagine her ridicule: he was slowing her down, she was trying to get dressed, he was causing yet another inconvenience on top of so many others.

With the conversation ended, he was forced to return his full attention to his surroundings. He listened, heard again the wind, the distant sound of still water. Still water which made sounds only when it lapped against something, or when something waded through it. He couldn’t tell one from the other right now. He wished he were still inside the car, with at least that much protection.

She was going to find him. He’d been only a few minutes, probably less than a mile, from home. She would be here any time. “



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Listener

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Reply #1 on: February 04, 2013, 01:12:59 PM
I'm not sure how I felt about this story. I figured out he was either dead or in a different dimension -- probably dead -- when it was raining while the wife was driving. But it felt more like it stopped, instead of ended -- like I needed just a LITTLE more. Maybe one or two more minutes (200-400 words?) that would give me a little more resolution rather than leaving me wondering just what happened, exactly. I realize the nature of horror is sometimes that we DON'T know -- as in my case with "What Happens When You Wake In The Night" -- but for this particular story I did need to know.

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Unblinking

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Reply #2 on: February 04, 2013, 03:23:35 PM
I don't remember the last time a story freaked-me-the-hell-out like this one did.  Perhaps because it was so mundane in many details, just one step off the beaten track. 

I totally got this guy.  I have a cell phone, but I feel pretty much about them as he does.  I am often absent-minded, and the only reason I don't regularly lock myself out of the car and other things like that is because I have learned that I can remember things if I establish a routine, and so , and checking my car keys is one of them.  I can get a bit obsessive about my routines, as a result, but most of the time, it works out well enough.  I totally get the anxiety over his wife scolding him for things--my absentmindedness can cause conflict when I go to the grocery store to pick up a few things for her, because I don't remember the brand names/flavors/other details of what I'm supposed to buy.  We've learned to work around this well enough, before I leave I write very specifically the brand and flavor and other relevant details on the list, and then there's no conflict.

And even though I've never been in that particular situation, I do sometimes worry about car breakdowns and getting lost in dangerous circumstances.  The detail of the rain did very well to show that there was just something off-kilter and wrong.  The situation would certainly be frustrating and irritating without that, but with that, it becomes something sinister.

Well done!



Unblinking

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Reply #3 on: February 04, 2013, 03:23:54 PM
Also, Half Life is awesome.  That is all.



Scumpup

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Reply #4 on: February 04, 2013, 09:26:55 PM
This was another one of those "the main character is dead but doesn't realize it" stories, wasn't it?



Sgarre1

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Reply #5 on: February 04, 2013, 11:46:10 PM
Actually, by my take... no, not at all...



Unblinking

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Reply #6 on: February 05, 2013, 03:25:19 PM
I didn't read it that way at all either. 



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Reply #7 on: February 05, 2013, 07:41:07 PM
Between this and "What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night," if I ever get lost or drop a cell call or even lose my keys, I will instantly leap to the obvious and inescapable conclusion.



Scumpup

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Reply #8 on: February 05, 2013, 09:27:14 PM
I'm open to other options than the main character being dead.  What are they and how do they fit with the information we have?
  We know he isn't good at multitasking while driving.  We know he is unfamiliar with the area other than his commuting route.  We know that, where he is, his car is malfunctioning in a very unusual way.  His wife is, at the same time, seeing his car in the "real" world.  The place he is now is pitch black and silent but for the sound of still water.  Meanwhile, it is raining in the real world.  This is all part of a horror story.
  Seems to me he died somehow on the road and his "wrong turn" he couldn't pinpoint was into yet another dark, dreary afterlife.
How are others putting these pieces together and coming up with something different?  The stuff about the car is what really sells me on him being dead.



Sgarre1

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Reply #9 on: February 06, 2013, 01:40:15 AM
displacement - temporal or dimensional.  Doesn't matter much, just playing off the displacement in time and location that cell technology gives.  In this case (unlike "What Happens") what the 'answer' is is not part of the point of the writing exercise at all (I liked to think of him as stuck in some pan-dimensional prehistoric swamp that, contrary to all logic - just like the story- has carried the road over with it - or perhaps some kind of malignant landscape).

Different than "What Happens" because, as I've said before, the 'answer' in "What Happens" is not intended as a surprise - instead, for savvy readers willing to give in and not try to out-think the piece but just feel it, the 'answer' is meant as confirmation of their worst suppositions, and the reinforcement that the truth that feeds that supposition is unavoidable.  Two very different stories, from my point of view.  I think Alasdair did a bang-up job describing the intended effect of this one in his outro - YMMV.



Scumpup

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Reply #10 on: February 06, 2013, 03:11:33 AM
In that case, why do we even need to go with something as fantastic as temporal or dimensional displacement?  He could just as easily simply be lost and his wife looking at a car of the same model and color as his while she is in a localized downpour.  If I give in and feel that, it isn't a horror story of any description.  Now it's just a mundane anecdote about a married couple on an irritating evening.



Unblinking

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Reply #11 on: February 06, 2013, 02:35:44 PM
displacement - temporal or dimensional.  Doesn't matter much, just playing off the displacement in time and location that cell technology gives.  In this case (unlike "What Happens") what the 'answer' is is not part of the point of the writing exercise at all (I liked to think of him as stuck in some pan-dimensional prehistoric swamp that, contrary to all logic - just like the story- has carried the road over with it - or perhaps some kind of malignant landscape).

We know he took a wrong turn.  The way I see this story is that he turned not only off of his route home, but slipped into a parallel world, the car being some remnant of that.  The cell connection held on for a little while inexplicably.  What freaked me out about the story is that one small mistake can leave you in a place that should be close to home but isn't.

Different than "What Happens" because, as I've said before, the 'answer' in "What Happens" is not intended as a surprise

Except for those of us, like me, who don't think that that character was dead either.  To me that one is clearly a tall tale as told by the child.  The format of it doesn't make sense any other way--the child is clearly telling the story to someone, but if he's literally stuck in the dark with only his parents, he has no one to tell it to.

In that case, why do we even need to go with something as fantastic as temporal or dimensional displacement?  He could just as easily simply be lost and his wife looking at a car of the same model and color as his while she is in a localized downpour.  If I give in and feel that, it isn't a horror story of any description.  Now it's just a mundane anecdote about a married couple on an irritating evening.

The localized downpour is what convinces me that it's NOT just an irritating evening.  Especially since the downpour on her end seems to be sustained, and on his end there is no sign, even though he's supposed to be only blocks from home.



Scumpup

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Reply #12 on: February 07, 2013, 02:47:33 PM
It was my take that the wife was emotionally upset when she told the main character she was looking at his car.  She wasn't simply peevishly demadning "I see your car...where the hell are you?"  Though we can not say with any certainty exactly why she was upset, we can presume that there must have been something immediately and obviously badly wrong for her to see it from inside her car, at night, and in a rainstorm.  I'm apparently alone in this, but that suggests to me that the car was damaged, as in a wreck.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2013, 02:59:05 PM by Scumpup »



Moon_Goddess

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Reply #13 on: February 07, 2013, 03:11:00 PM
But it felt more like it stopped, instead of ended -- like I needed just a LITTLE more. Maybe one or two more minutes (200-400 words?) that would give me a little more resolution rather than leaving me wondering just what happened, exactly.

See I can't disagree more.

I want more stories like this, the true horror of this is all the things your imagination goes wild with


Was dream6601 but that's sounds awkward when Nathan reads my posts.


Unblinking

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Reply #14 on: February 08, 2013, 02:29:09 PM
It was my take that the wife was emotionally upset when she told the main character she was looking at his car.  She wasn't simply peevishly demadning "I see your car...where the hell are you?"  Though we can not say with any certainty exactly why she was upset, we can presume that there must have been something immediately and obviously badly wrong for her to see it from inside her car, at night, and in a rainstorm.  I'm apparently alone in this, but that suggests to me that the car was damaged, as in a wreck.

I agree that she was upset, but it wasn't spelled out why.  To me, I thought she was upset because she has come upon his unattended car in the rain, where he claims he is standing by his car without rain and can't see her.  That would freak me the hell out, so it makes sense to me for it to freak her out too.



Sgarre1

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Reply #15 on: February 09, 2013, 04:24:29 AM
That was my take as well *but* I get Scumpup's point and... here's the interesting thing... I *think* (for me at least) that feeling he's describing arises out of Mr. Cleveland's reading, whereas my original take arises out of just reading the story on paper.  When I read it, years ago, I didn't imagine the wife as upset as George has made her in our reading - sounding unnerved, yes, but not as upset - and I can see where Scumpup's reading is a good interpretation relative to that reading.

So, there we go!
« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 04:36:41 PM by Sgarre1 »



FeloniusMonk

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Reply #16 on: February 11, 2013, 02:06:49 AM
I definitely got the impression that he was dead - my take was that he took the corner without looking (by his own admission, he did that) and totalled the car.
Everything after that was his journey to the afterlife/purgatory/the flying spaghetti monster's kingdom.
I can really see the point about the wife’s tone though. Without the near-hysteric voicing my take would be a bit more ambivalent.

All that aside I loved this story. It freaked me out to the point that I finished it and called my fiancée just to say “are you ok?” She already thinks I’m mad and knows my habit for letting stories scare me so that’s ok.



Sgarre1

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Reply #17 on: February 11, 2013, 02:50:35 AM
Quote
It freaked me out to the point that I finished it and called my fiancée just to say “are you ok?”

Thank you.  I could ask for no greater reaction than this!



Bdoomed

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Reply #18 on: February 11, 2013, 05:25:09 AM
This was awesome.  I friggin loved this story!  Just imagining what it would be like as his wife, to slowly realize that you are talking to some sort of remnant of your loved one... aaah! Crazy.

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


schizoTypal

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Reply #19 on: February 12, 2013, 02:37:07 AM
My first thought after listening was "Twilight Zone," except with no moral to the story. I didn't like the wife, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to! In the end, I assumed the idea was that he was a bit of a ghost, but that the phone was for some reason carrying the signal to the land of the living. The end with the repeat of what she said last seemed just a touch unnecessary, but wasn't entirely unwelcome.



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Reply #20 on: February 16, 2013, 04:30:30 PM
I don't see a whole lot of wiggle room on the "protagonist is dead" angle, honestly.  I mean, yes, you can contort things a bit, close one eye and squint and say maybe he's time traveling or something, but it's pretty clear what implication you're supposed to draw, particularly with the repeat emphasis on the line at the end of the story.  (And also the water, as passing over such a barrier is a feature of many afterlives, and the stillness, and the gradual fading of the clinging vestiges of warmth and light.  Plus, in comparison with "What Happens When You Wake Up in the Night," there is a clear and plausible mechanism by which the protagonist could have died, as well as external confirmation that what he perceives is not what everyone else is perceiving.)

However, this is a very well-done version of Dead All Along, one that keeps its cards close to its vest until the reveal, at which point it shows just enough for you to get the *click* and then ends before anyone can go, "Aw, man, that's it?"  It doesn't even reveal the twist; it reveals up to the point just before the twist and lets you take the last step, which is why it's such a powerful sensation for many of us.  (Which is another reason I don't see him not being dead, by the way; if the story is meant to be unexplained, like "What Happens..." then it should belabor the point a bit more and provide more oddities.  The only reason to end just as the main character realizes what's happening is if you want your audience to draw the obvious conclusion themselves.)

I dislike Dead All Along, but this is a good story and a fine exemplar of the genre.  I enjoyed it and appreciated the skill with which it was told, both in the sense of the words on the page and the nuance of tone in the reading.

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heyes

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Reply #21 on: February 16, 2013, 09:18:13 PM
This story nailed the emotion of dread in many ways for me.  Even though I'm sure I've seen this plot on the various lists of "Don't send us this kind of story", the author and the narrator made it very enjoyable. It had the feeling of a classic "Tales from the Darkside" episode.

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eytanz

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Reply #22 on: February 17, 2013, 01:14:01 AM
I definitely got the impression that he was dead and didn't know it. I wonder what I would have felt had I read it, rather than heard it, but for me, it was very clear that the wife saw the car after an accident. Given that the thing that triggered his getting lost was him taking his eyes off the road while driving, it seems to me rather a stretch to think it was anything but death.

I found myself rather disliking the story for the first half of it - both because I was certain he was dead and unhappy with the concept, and because I felt myself annoyed at the portrayal of his relationship with his wife. But, as the story got closer to its climax, I found myself getting more and more into it, partially because of the excellent reading.



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Reply #23 on: February 17, 2013, 02:22:47 PM
I'm sure most people remember the "Scary Stories to tell after Dark" books from when they were younger. If you remember there was one story about a man walking around, scaring people until he finally finds a pay phone. He calls his house looking for his wife only to have it answered by some he didn't know. The person on the other end says something to the effect of, "I'm sorry, she's at her husbands funeral right now."

Definately had the impression that this story could have been the first half to that one.



Unblinking

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Reply #24 on: February 18, 2013, 02:53:44 PM
it's pretty clear what implication you're supposed to draw, particularly with the repeat emphasis on the line at the end of the story. 

Apparently it's not clear, if the editor who bought it disagrees.



heyes

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Reply #25 on: February 18, 2013, 04:20:02 PM
it's pretty clear what implication you're supposed to draw, particularly with the repeat emphasis on the line at the end of the story. 

Apparently it's not clear, if the editor who bought it disagrees.

That comment above is exactly the kind of thing Alasdair implies is not a part of the forum culture here during his recent outros. A listener and an editor are both listeners and capable of meaningful interpretation. Please don't shut opinions down this way.

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eytanz

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Reply #26 on: February 18, 2013, 04:27:14 PM
it's pretty clear what implication you're supposed to draw, particularly with the repeat emphasis on the line at the end of the story. 

Apparently it's not clear, if the editor who bought it disagrees.

That comment above is exactly the kind of thing Alasdair implies is not a part of the forum culture here during his recent outros. A listener and an editor are both listeners and capable of meaningful interpretation. Please don't shut opinions down this way.

Let's not overreact, please. Unblinking wasn't shutting down Scattercat, he was saying that the situation is not as clear-cut as Scattercat thought it was. If anything, Scattercat's phrasing shut out the possibility of other opinions, and Unblinking pointed out that other opinions were valid, giving Shawn as an example.

Just as Shawn's opinion, and Scattercat's opinions, are valid, so is Unblinking, and he's entirely within his right as a listener to tell Scattercat that he thinks he is wrong. The distinction between shutting opinion down and disagreeing with opinions is an important one in these forums.



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Reply #27 on: February 18, 2013, 07:59:52 PM
Pish-posh, sir.  I was not shutting out the possibility of other opinions.  Just the possibility of other correct opinions.  :-D

Slightly more seriously, I don't think my remarks are particularly chilling toward further discussion and don't feel I, any more than poor Unblinking, should be held up as an exemplar of What Al Hates About the Forums, pugnacious and obstreperous as I freely admit I am.

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Reply #28 on: February 18, 2013, 08:01:27 PM
Yeah, when I said "if anything", I sort of meant "if you squint really hard and force yourself to see it", not that I really thought you were doing anything that actually attempted to shut up discussion.



Unblinking

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Reply #29 on: February 20, 2013, 02:57:58 PM
Let's not overreact, please. Unblinking wasn't shutting down Scattercat, he was saying that the situation is not as clear-cut as Scattercat thought it was.

My intent was to say that there is more than one interpretation possible here, using Shawn as an example.  The more interpretations the better, and we can all debate which of them makes the most sense--the more the merrier.  If everyone had the same opinion this place would be Boring.  The moderators here do a fantastic job of encouraging an environment where interesting and civil debate can flourish, while curbing discussions that get too heated.  

The forum has just the One Rule
Quote
We enjoy a good debate, but all members are expected to be respectful to each other and to the artists, narrators, hosts and editorial staff of Escape Artists
I don't think that I've broken the rule here.

I had no problem with Scattercat's comment either.  

That comment above is exactly the kind of thing Alasdair implies is not a part of the forum culture here during his recent outros. A listener and an editor are both listeners and capable of meaningful interpretation. Please don't shut opinions down this way.

If my comment offended you, feel free to PM me to explain why.  Or if you want more people to weigh in on what kinds of comments are appropriate, it might be worthwhile to start a new thread for the topic. 

In my opinion, it would be helpful if you would phrase it as why the comment bothered you, rather than saying it's the sort of thing that Alasdair wouldn't like.  I think Alasdair would've been fine with what I said, whether or not he agreed with it.  I admittedly have not asked him his opinion on the subject, so this is purely conjecture.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 03:07:52 PM by Unblinking »



heyes

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Reply #30 on: February 20, 2013, 07:56:16 PM
So I just read through everybody's response to my response.
I'm not offended by that to which I originally responded. At the time I responded I felt, as I described, that it was harsh and surprising given the recent invites by Alasdair. It seems I may have had expectations which are not the same as what I found, let's say something akin to mild culture shock, which leaves me needing to adjust.
I felt like should at least reply to acknowledge that I have read everyone's responses.

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Reply #31 on: February 20, 2013, 08:55:23 PM
Well, I still think the guy in the story was dead and just didn't realize it.  Other interpretations just don't seem to fit as neatly to me.  One important factor is that this is supposed, based on the fact that it is here at Pseudopod, to be a horror story. If it was at Escape Pod, or if I was reading a print version of it in The New Yorker, I might find some of the other interpretations more convincing,  As a kid, I read a lot of science fiction and watched sci fi movies and TV shows.  Temporal/spatial displacement strikes me as super neato cool, not spine chillingly horrifying.  If he just slipped into another dimension, it seems he. just arrived at the lake at night and vacation begins in the morning.  No horror there at all.  If he's dead, darkness and the sound of water is eternity.  That is at least a little scary.

So, what I'm asking is, did you want me to be scared or not?



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Reply #32 on: February 20, 2013, 08:59:33 PM
Oh, I don't know. Temporal/Spatial displacement may not be a scary concept, but the idea of being stuck in an alternate world, in the dark, with no one around, and no food, just wandering around in the darkness until I starve to death... Still scary enough for me (though I admit, maybe he will wake up in the morning and discover he made it to big rock candy mountain).



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Reply #33 on: February 21, 2013, 12:57:35 AM
@Scumpup

"The Langoliers"

Toodles!

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Reply #34 on: February 21, 2013, 02:52:20 PM
Oh, I don't know. Temporal/Spatial displacement may not be a scary concept, but the idea of being stuck in an alternate world, in the dark, with no one around, and no food, just wandering around in the darkness until I starve to death... Still scary enough for me (though I admit, maybe he will wake up in the morning and discover he made it to big rock candy mountain).

Yup, this.  This story scared me in ways that most more blatantly horror stories don't, and I didn't think he was dead.



Scumpup

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Reply #35 on: February 21, 2013, 06:12:14 PM
Let's consider the situation if he isn't dead.  Unless he was displaced into a cavern, I'd say it has to get light at some point soon.  It's warm enough for water to exist as a liquid and there is sufficient oxygen in the air for him to breathe. The heat to keep the water liquid and to power the photosynthesis that is the source of that oxygen, logically, must come from a sun.  He might well end up lost and starving, but I don't think he'll wander in darkness forever.  People not infrequently get lost and die in real life, which is scary, but not horror story scary.
Stephen King has touched on the idea of temporal and spatial displacement a couple times I can think of.  Temporally in The Langoliers which I have read.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to sit through the movie.  I thought the titular creatures rather silly, but other parts of the story were more successful. How "dead" everything was in the past was a neat idea.  Later, in From a Buick 8, King played with spatial displacement.  That was a much more effective story, IMO.  Our world and the other one were lethally incomprehensible and incompatible to each other.  A being from either side would die in fear, confusion, and agony on the opposite side.  That is horror story scary.



eytanz

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Reply #36 on: February 21, 2013, 06:35:49 PM
Quote
 People not infrequently get lost and die in real life, which is scary, but not horror story scary.

I don't think there's a dividing line that says what type of fear belongs in horror stories. Personally, the idea of getting lost and dying in a painful way is *far* scarier to me than anything that takes place in an afterlife. When I listened the story, I thought he was dead, but I would have probably found the story a lot more effective if had read it the way Shawn did.

What you may need to accept, scumpup, is that not all readers are identical, and what is effective horror for you is not the same as what is effective horror for everyone. Arguing that your interpretation is right because otherwise the story wouldn't be targeted at you is a pretty flimsy argument, unless you can prove that the writer had you specifically in mind when they wrote the story.



Scumpup

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Reply #37 on: February 21, 2013, 06:41:19 PM
I'm not claiming that I'm right or that anybody else is wrong.  I'm just talking about my interpretation of a story and things that do, or do not, scare me.  That was the point of why we are here, I thought.  If I am wrong, I apologize.



eytanz

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Reply #38 on: February 21, 2013, 06:49:28 PM
I'm not claiming that I'm right or that anybody else is wrong.  I'm just talking about my interpretation of a story and things that do, or do not, scare me.  That was the point of why we are here, I thought.  If I am wrong, I apologize.

You're definitely not wrong to discuss your interpretation. But when you say "scary, but not horror story scary", you're not just talking about what scares you, but you are talking about what fits in your definition of a horror story. And since in your last two posts you seem to be arguing that this is a factor in deciding how well the interpretations fit the stories, you are making an argument that is only valid for people who share your definition.

So I'm not saying that you were wrong to post what you did. I was trying to point out that you were making a weaker argument than you think you did because a lot of people here (myself included) do not accept its premises.



Scumpup

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Reply #39 on: February 21, 2013, 07:23:33 PM
What is scary is such a subjective thing that I believed it was implicit that I was speaking only for myself.  Clearly, i should have made that explicit.



Sgarre1

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Reply #40 on: February 21, 2013, 11:11:43 PM
If it's of any interest - my personal metric for horror is any fiction whose main focus is attempting to scare or disturb the reader - so I have a pretty big area to work with there (the "or disturb" is the modifier wildcard that allows some flexibility, obviously). I believe that genres have boundaries (not limits, exactly) but these are permeable boundaries and works of creativity do not have to be any *one* thing but a multiple of things as well (although they tend to work better if they have a primary focus of intent).

I honestly felt/feel that a guy being possibly eaten by some big prehistoric-y thing that's just come looming up out of the black, wet dark next to his car that he knows his wife is also standing next to - *somehow* - is pretty horrible...



Scumpup

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Reply #41 on: February 21, 2013, 11:37:21 PM
I completely agree.  That absolutely is, not just scary, but horror story scary.  What I'm running into here, depressingly, is that I'm just not as imaginative as many of you.  I need some cue from the text that there may be something awful lurking in that darkness.  On my own, I just don't spontaneously supply my own bogies.  For a reader like me, it's entirely possible for an author to be too subtle.



Scumpup

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Reply #42 on: February 21, 2013, 11:49:55 PM
Maybe I should clarify what I mean by "horror story scary."  Getting lost in the woods and dying is scary, but it is known.  It can be prepared for, coped with, and even overcome.  Horror story scary is that which is unknown, may not even be knowable, can't be prepared for, and won't be overcome.



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Reply #43 on: February 22, 2013, 07:58:46 PM
I found this story scary where I don't find most horror stories scary precisely because it is just one left turn from plausible.  I enjoy horror very often. Pseudopod is one of my favorite podcasts because of it.  But does it scare me?  Very rarely, because it's not hard to separate it from real life.  This felt very close to real life, I could imagine myself getting lost like that and my wife coming to find me--which would be nervewracking, but where it gets scary is the unexplainable shift that allows it to be pouring rain as she looks at my car while I am also standing by my car with no rain.

It's much more than getting lost in the woods.  If I were lost in the woods, I would try to rationally work my way toward something I could more easily cope with, waiting until morning and using the sun for direction, trying to find the north star if stars are visible, finding a stream to follow, follow road sounds.  Rationality is not working here.  He already IS at the most logical place to be, at his car, and with someone on the way to find him with a good idea of how he got there.  He has nothing more logical thing to try than what he has already done and it's NOT WORKING, and he doesn't know why, and he doesn't know what else to do.  It's just close enough to reality to feel totally real to me, and I can totally imagine being in his shoes, and if I were in his shoes I would be paralyzed with fear.



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Reply #44 on: March 04, 2013, 12:40:44 AM
I'm fairly new to Pseudopod and just listened to this episode while driving home in the middle of the night on back roads. Nothing like setting the perfect mood before digging into a story like this one. It was a real treat.



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Reply #45 on: March 04, 2013, 01:50:24 AM
I'm fairly new to Pseudopod and just listened to this episode while driving home in the middle of the night on back roads. Nothing like setting the perfect mood before digging into a story like this one. It was a real treat.

That's rather serendipitous! And welcome to the forums. Hope to see more of you :)


bpm85

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Reply #46 on: March 05, 2013, 02:14:52 PM
I liked the story. I think the wife will change the way she talks to the people she supposedly loves. She was so rude to him and now she won't be able to apologize.



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Reply #47 on: April 10, 2013, 08:00:20 PM
I want to second this being a great story to listen to while driving.

I'm in the displacement camp. I completely understand the dead camp, but that's not the route my car took me.

Let's consider the situation if he isn't dead.  Unless he was displaced into a cavern, I'd say it has to get light at some point soon.  It's warm enough for water to exist as a liquid and there is sufficient oxygen in the air for him to breathe. The heat to keep the water liquid and to power the photosynthesis that is the source of that oxygen, logically, must come from a sun.  He might well end up lost and starving, but I don't think he'll wander in darkness forever.  People not infrequently get lost and die in real life, which is scary, but not horror story scary.
Stephen King has touched on the idea of temporal and spatial displacement a couple times I can think of.  Temporally in The Langoliers which I have read.  I tried, unsuccessfully, to sit through the movie.  I thought the titular creatures rather silly, but other parts of the story were more successful. How "dead" everything was in the past was a neat idea.  Later, in From a Buick 8, King played with spatial displacement.  That was a much more effective story, IMO.  Our world and the other one were lethally incomprehensible and incompatible to each other.  A being from either side would die in fear, confusion, and agony on the opposite side.  That is horror story scary.

To pile on with analogous King stories, I'd like to present both "Mrs. Todd's Shortcut" and "The Jaunt". Shortcut is quite possibly King's best work, and captures a very similar feel of driving to a place where you can slip between spaces. Jaunt touches on the horror of what resides between.

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


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Reply #48 on: April 15, 2013, 05:43:49 PM
I forgot to mention before, really good use of sound editing to differentiate the phone call. I'm not sure anyone's brought it up, which indicates that it blended in as something that was just supposed to be there.

Shawn and Graeme usually take a beating on sound production, so I thought it worthwhile to give kudos when everything goes according to plan.

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


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Reply #49 on: April 17, 2013, 03:34:01 AM
I forgot to mention before, really good use of sound editing to differentiate the phone call. I'm not sure anyone's brought it up, which indicates that it blended in as something that was just supposed to be there.

Shawn and Graeme usually take a beating on sound production, so I thought it worthwhile to give kudos when everything goes according to plan.

Thanks! :)


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Reply #50 on: April 24, 2013, 04:18:59 AM
OUTSTANDING! As I read though the very interesting comments on this story, a few have given the similarities to the Twilight Zone and Tales from the Darkside and I strongly concur! Just a good old fashioned "what the heck", "ooooh that could be me", "my imagination is much more dangerous than anything presented in my face" horror story!

For the record I got the instant feeling he was dead. Perhaps his wife finding his "wrecked" car would have been more direct...but that was my initial reaction. For a short while I toyed with the "alternate dimension/time flux/a hungry evil witch in a cabin in the woods pulled him here" idea(s). But my overall reaction was that he was gone...and she was just finding out as she found his car.

Listened while driving at night, on my way back from work. Spooky as hell! Completely identified with the driver. Excellent story, fantastic read (nicely done Mr. Narrator!), LOVED IT LOVED IT LOVED IT!

Please sir my I have some more....like this one?

The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.
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Reply #51 on: December 22, 2019, 05:32:12 PM
I'm definitely in the "he's dead" camp.


With this guy's luck his wife will probably have a heart attack when she sees his corpse and he'll spend eternity listening to "Well, I never got stuck in Purgatory when I was married to my first husband!"