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Author Topic: Pseudopod 363: Footsteps Invisible  (Read 4224 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: December 06, 2013, 09:37:31 AM »

Pseudopod 363: Footsteps Invisible

by Robert A. Arthur, Jr.

“Footsteps Invisible” was originally published in Argosy Weekly, January 20, 1940.

ROBERT A. ARTHUR, JR. (1909-1969) was born in 1909 at Fort Mills, Corregidor Island, Phillipines and passed away in 1969 in Philadelphia, PA. During his very productive life he was offered scholarships to both West Point and Annapolis, but turned them down to become a writer, his first works appearing in almost all of the pulp magazines being published at the time including “Black Mask” and “The Shadow”. He then moved on to radio scripting with David Kogan and wrote over 500 shows, including creating the program THE MYSTERIOUS TRAVELER, all while continuing to write short fiction. He wrote for THE TWILIGHT ZONE and was script editor for ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS, later becoming the editor of the Alfred Hitchcock paperback series (both the adult and children’s lines). From 1964-1968 he wrote the first ten of the ALFRED HITCHCOCK & THE THREE INVESTIGATORS books about the adventures of a trio of intrepid mystery solvers – a series still popular worldwide. THE THREE INVESTIGATORS series was one of the seminal youthful reading experiences of your editor, Shawn Garrett, who will eternally thank Mr. Arthur for the creation of Jupiter Jones, Pete Crenshaw, Bob Andrews and all the residents of Rocky Beach, California and who is extremely proud to be able to present this story to you through the auspices of Mr. Arthur’s daughter, Elizabeth Arthur, who followed in the footsteps of her father and is an author herself.

Your reader this week – Kevin Hayes – is a man of many facets. Hailing from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, he is overactively involved in the Science Fiction/Fantasy and Horror Community where he has done (and continues to do) programming for the usually annual SF conference Confluence – July 25th to 27th, 2014. He is a writer, a reader, an actor, a singer, a poet, and a cartoonist/illustrator – and that’s just in his spare time. He thrives with his artistic endeavors and lives with a hugely talented woman who shares his interests and is the passion of his life (they have collaborated on a novel that defies easy description for which they still try to find a publishing home). The home they have made for themselves also contains three of her five children, artists, writers and performers all. Kevin’s website can be found here and he is also one of the driving members of a writers’ critique group called Write Or Die! (aka “WorD”) who meet at a local bookshop. He has a story appearing in “TV Gods” from Fortress Publishing, available May/June 2014, and he appears in a photo-graphic comic from Tia Tormen Productions called “Zombimboz” on sale now on Amazon!.



“‘Good morning, Sir Andrew,’ Jorman said pleasantly as the steps came up to his stand. ‘Times?’

‘Thanks.’ It was a typically British voice that answered. ‘Know me, do you?’

‘Oh, yes.’ Jorman grinned. It was usually a source of mystification to his customers that he knew their names. But names were not too hard to learn, if the owners of them lived or worked nearby. ‘A bellboy from your hotel was buying a paper last time you stopped. When you’d gone on, he told me who you were.’

‘That easy, eh?’ Sir Andrew Carraden exclaimed. ‘Don’t know as I like it so much, though, being kept track of. Prefer to lose myself these days. Had enough of notoriety in the past.’

‘Had plenty of it four years ago, I suppose,’ Jorman suggested. ‘I followed the newspaper accounts of your tomb-hunting expedition. Interesting work, archaeology. Always wished I could poke around in the past that way, sometime.’

‘Don’t!’ The word was sharp. ‘Take my advice and stay snug and cozy in the present. The past is an uncomfortable place. Sometimes you peer into it and then spend the rest of your life trying to get away
from it.’”



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2013, 05:34:46 PM by Sgarre1 » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2013, 10:46:05 AM »

I like it and I can see why it's one of Shawn's favorites.  The setup was such that as he was describing the invisible pursuer, I thought it obvious that the strange gait of the individual unseen by the policeman was the selfsame pursuer, but thought it reasonable enough that the protagonist didn't think that as it went, especially when he is wondering about Sir Andrew's sanity.

It was clever to make the character blind, as that gives him an unusual advantage with his focus on listening to people's steps.  It gave, too, a specific reason why the other person should use this man as a confidant, because he has shown his own aptitude in that area.

Cool idea, well executed, and it has aged remarkably well.
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« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2013, 10:47:21 AM »

ROBERT A. ARTHUR, JR. (1924- 2005) was born in 1909 at Fort Mills, Corregidor Island, Phillipines and passed away in 1969 in Philadelphia, PA.

Doesn't the parenthetical year range after a name generally imply the years lived?  But if that's the case, it's contradicted by the rest of the sentence. 
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2013, 02:21:27 PM »

fixed - leftover text fragment!
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« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2013, 02:55:17 PM »

fixed - leftover text fragment!


It's fixed on the main site, still in the initial post of this thread (if that matters).  Smiley
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2013, 03:40:59 PM »

done!
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2013, 05:27:30 PM »

done!

Now I'm feeling like pest, but it looks like the birth year parenthetical is incorrect--1924 rather than 1909.  (feel free to delete all these posts after the fact, as they don't need to be preserved for future generations)
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2013, 05:36:51 PM »

Done and done out on the wordpress page!  And no apologies necessary - I'm so busy that I;m sloppier than I should be.
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2013, 11:25:04 AM »

Just started the story, but am here to say WOOT WOOT THREE INVESTIGATORS JUPITER JONES REPRESENT!  Fat nerdy kid wins all the time because he is smart!  Nuts to you, Hardy boys!
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2013, 03:52:28 PM »

I love this one despite being way ahead of the protagonist in what's happening. The last few months all my pseudopod listening has been while working alone in the wee hours of the morning in an old build with, shall we say, history. Despite my surroundings, this is the first story to give me the creeps, and that's as much kudos to the reader as the writer.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #10 on: December 13, 2013, 05:03:46 PM »

3 Investigators is brilliant fiction, and listening to this story it's the author's ability to develop suspense that makes those work as well.

I started thinking this would be something of a riddle story, but the steady building dread was gripping and I gave myself up to the narrative. I was pleasantly surprised that the monster was not explicitly shown or defined, making the story all the Weirder. A jolly good yarn!
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2013, 05:10:57 PM »

Quote
gave myself up to the narrative

My favorite 6 words to see posted in comments!
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Jen
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« Reply #12 on: December 16, 2013, 10:24:17 AM »

I liked this a lot for an oldie. Most of the plot was obvious to me from the moment the blind guy heard the funny steps, but I enjoyed the journey nevertheless.
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« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2013, 12:44:28 PM »

At first, what I thought was a framing story distracted me, but as soon as it got going, I forgot that and enjoyed it thoroughly. Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2013, 08:27:49 PM »

I feel awful, guys. I was super into this story, utterly involved and supremely creeped out. I thought the two characters were interesting, the dialogue believable even with the unbelievable story behind the words, and the suspense was just itching up my neck the whole time. But then, when the English gentleman said he put slippers on his hands and feet to imitate the sound of the man who follows him, the most unterrifying image popped in my head and never left.

Evil mummy camel.

I just kept cracking up through the rest of the story, because I kept seeing a camel all wrapped up in bandages trying to get through a door, making camel faces.

I enjoyed myself, but I'm almost certain that it was not in the way the author intended.
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« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2013, 09:38:43 PM »

Camels are completely evil, though, so that would follow quite logically.
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« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2013, 12:02:42 PM »

I love it!  And I ask anyone else to prove that the invisible evil monster was NOT a camel!
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« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2013, 04:43:36 PM »

The pursuit continuing even after Sir Andrew's death was a fantastic touch; really ramped up the level of horror.
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« Reply #18 on: December 19, 2013, 04:38:32 AM »

I liked this a lot for an oldie. Most of the plot was obvious to me from the moment the blind guy heard the funny steps, but I enjoyed the journey nevertheless.

That's part of the appeal of these stories, for me. Looking in from the outside (and with another 50+ years of horror literature, films and cultural commentary informing us of the probable plotlines) we can catch the twist pretty early on -- and then the rest is just waiting for the protagonist to catch on. To me that's the fun - anticipating their reaction to the big reveal, moreso than the big reveal itself. I'm more forgiving of historical stories where the twist is fairly clearly signposted - if this story was set in the present day, and the narrator had a comparable set of pop-culture trivia available to him as I do (which seems like as our backgrounds would be similar enough), him failing to catch on would be less understandable. It's more realistic as well - it's pretty unlikely that a shuffling mummified vengeance-god would be your first thought.

My partner has just discovered HP Lovecraft, and is constantly annoyed at how the protagonists fail to catch the twist. I've had to say "well yes it's OBVIOUS that Wilbur Whateley's some sort of ungodly hellspawn but look, isn't it elegant how the whippoorwills respond to the different levels of human-ness in each person who dies?". ((Speaking of which, can anyone recommend some audiobooks of The Colour Out Of Space and The Rats in the Walls? (He's not a fan of the 19 Nocturne Boulevard releases.) ))
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Fenrix
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« Reply #19 on: December 19, 2013, 10:15:23 AM »

My partner has just discovered HP Lovecraft, and is constantly annoyed at how the protagonists fail to catch the twist. I've had to say "well yes it's OBVIOUS that Wilbur Whateley's some sort of ungodly hellspawn but look, isn't it elegant how the whippoorwills respond to the different levels of human-ness in each person who dies?". ((Speaking of which, can anyone recommend some audiobooks of The Colour Out Of Space and The Rats in the Walls? (He's not a fan of the 19 Nocturne Boulevard releases.) ))

Tales to Terrify did The Colour out of Space. While I generally don't care for the TTT format, the readings are good. http://talestoterrify.com/tales-to-terrify-no-19-h-p-lovecraft/

The Black Mass did a good radio dramatization of The Rats in the Walls. However, finding a straight unbowlderized reading may be a challenge due to the cat's name. Let me know if you find one.  https://archive.org/details/TheRatsInTheWalls

Also, the readings on The H. P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast are top notch (left side of front page). I really like the podcast, too. http://hppodcraft.com/
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