Escape Artists



ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details:

Author Topic: Pseudopod 034: Bliss  (Read 10605 times)


  • Pseudopod Tiger
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5312
  • Mmm. Tiger.
on: April 20, 2007, 09:01:09 PM
Pseudopod 034: Bliss

By James Michael White
Read by Mur Lafferty

He evaluated her for two months. Came from a well-to-do family. High marks in school. Brief modeling career that seemed destined never to rise above pinup calendars, low-circulation fashion magazines and catalogues. A history of self mutilation that went back to nineteen. Then, it had been called attempted suicide, but Dr. Mandrake was widely read and well educated. He knew about razors and cutting without intention to kill. Some did it for attention. Some did it for kicks. Some did it for ritual scarification significant only to themselves.

Bliss did it because she felt restricted in her skin. There was someone inside who was not the skin that everyone saw. There was someone inside who was not human, or perhaps more than human.

Schizophrenic, yes.

Paranoid, maybe.

Suicidal? No.

Listen to this week's Pseudopod.

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


  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 16
    • Sarah Wagner
Reply #1 on: April 21, 2007, 01:21:04 AM
Very creepy. Beautifully written but absolutely skin crawling creepy. I imagine that's the point. I like this kind of horror, especially when listened to - the gore takes on a whole different level of 'eeewww'. the slick slurp sounds of skin being ripped off. I could almost hear it. This is one of those that I'll be thinking about for a while - makes me not so uncomfortable in my own skin.


New Site:

Most Recent Publication: Amphitrite in Beyond Centauri


  • Pseudopod Tiger
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5312
  • Mmm. Tiger.
Reply #2 on: April 21, 2007, 02:51:15 AM
I feel exactly the same.  Its bringin out the squeemish in me.  I'm listening to it now, but it has already sufficiently creeped me out.  I'm feeling very uncomfortable... and its gooood!

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


  • HP Lovecraft's 275,892nd biggest fan.
  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 191
Reply #3 on: April 21, 2007, 12:37:17 PM
I was driving to work this morning listening to the story and I almost had to pull over for a couple of minutes to stop the screaming heebie-jeebies from making me accidentally crash my freakin' car.

Honestly, I had to pause my iPod for a minute and just take a deep breath and remind itself it's just a goddamned story, f'chrissakes.

This one was the creepiest, the grossest, the nastiest of the lot so far.

It reminds me of a quote from Stephen King I read years ago where he said that his first goal was to terrify, and, failing that, he'd horrify, and, if that doesn't work, he'll just go for the gross-out.

Again, extremely nasty. My nerves a little shattered at this point. I hope after a week I'll be strong enough to take on another one like this if need be.

My imaginary omnipotent friend is more real that your imaginary omnipotent friend.


  • Pseudopod Tiger
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5312
  • Mmm. Tiger.
Reply #4 on: April 21, 2007, 06:46:06 PM
At the end of this story i was both extremely happy for the doctor yet incredibly squeemish at the thought of salt on raw muscle...... *shudders* this is by far the creepiest story on Pseudopod.  I'm surprised Mur could read this without commenting in the middle of it!

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


  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 5
    • View from the Quad
Reply #5 on: April 23, 2007, 08:30:20 PM
I had to turn the iPod off multiple times for this story, Most notably the first few mins. eugh....
I love it!
Keep it coming! - The View from the Quad podcast. Sci-Fi and technology from a teenage perspective.


  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 147
Reply #6 on: April 24, 2007, 02:56:12 AM
Third best story on Pseudopod ever! A delightful tale of elightenment, physical pain, spiritual discovery, blood, chicanery, and revenge.

More, please!


  • High Priest of TCoRN
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1421
  • Praise N-sh, for it is right and good!
Reply #7 on: April 24, 2007, 11:09:56 AM
Woo Hoo!
I listened to this on my ride to work this morning. Early drive thru dark Detroit, listening to graphic descriptions of flaying that culminated in salted wounds just as I sat down at my desk: my own skin was trying to crawl away while I listened to this.
Great pick, good reading, beautiful imagery! This is one of my top 3 Pseudopod, right up there with Counting from Ten and Regis St. George.
Thanks  Ben! Thanks Mur!

How do you fight a bully that can un-make history?


  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2717
  • from
Reply #8 on: April 24, 2007, 04:46:15 PM
Definitely one of my Favorites.  I had to keep myself from screaming out when the salt was put on her raw muscles and nerves. 

Kenny Park

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Reply #9 on: April 26, 2007, 01:02:06 PM
Blown away.  I'm always slightly disappointed when I see the running time over 40 minutes, as I know I'll have to split the story up into several car journeys during the day.  It worked well for this one, though: I got to live with it for a while.  By the time the salt came out, I was driving on dark, deserted Glasgow streets, tired and ready to be scared.


  • Friendly Neighborhood
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 4980
  • PodCastle is my Co-Pilot
    • Psalms & Hymns & Spiritual Noir
Reply #10 on: April 27, 2007, 04:40:29 PM
Wow, that was scary.  I can definitely understand comparisons to "Counting Down From Ten" but this one might actually stay with me longer.  Really brutal and horrific.  Just an all around great pick.

Jonathan C. Gillespie

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 262
  • Writer of Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror
    • Jonathan C. Gillespie, Author
Reply #11 on: May 01, 2007, 02:32:28 AM
Agreed.  It's not necessarily my kind of fiction, but it sucked me in anyway.  The author is damn good at it.  There were times I honestly felt sick to my stomach.  If you're going to go the gore route, then this is how its done.

Published genre fiction author with stories in print and upcoming.

Official site: | Twitter: JCGAuthor | Facebook


  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 10
Reply #12 on: May 02, 2007, 08:28:25 PM
This was an exceptional episode for me -- not just because it was gory, creepy and unwholesome in all sorts of fun ways, but because, unlike many of the shorter yarns, the plot here wasn't just a shoddy foundation cobbled together to support a spooky or surprise ending. I was reminded of when Clive Barker's Books of Blood first found their way to the US; even after hearing all the advanced hype about them, I truly was shocked, repulsed and immediately addicted to his stories, which were extremely gruesome while at the same time very human. Bliss was like that. Thanks, congratulations, and more, please.

PS: And I think the story would also make a wonderful horror feature film.   


  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 779
    • Mr. Wake
Reply #13 on: May 08, 2007, 11:58:36 PM
What jdw said.

The plot and characters were actually interesting and evolving in this one (I almost said "fleshed out," but it seemed inappropriate  ;D).

I think gross and creepy are pretty easy to achieve, but good, solid interesting stories are hard. 

Nicely done.


  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 28
Reply #14 on: June 14, 2007, 04:01:13 PM
I consider myself pretty thick-skinned, but the stories about removing faces and skin give me the gibby-gibbies!

Russell Nash

  • Guest
Reply #15 on: June 15, 2007, 07:58:55 AM
Finally got around to this one.

The gore was cool, but it was the story that did it.  Pointless gore just makes for wasted time.  The story would have kept me interested even if the skin pulling wasn't fleshed out* so well.  As it was, it's kept me with the story and grossed me out with the details.

*unlike other posters I was not man enough to leave this pun alone.


  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 75
    • The Blog for Rob
Reply #16 on: June 19, 2007, 12:21:49 PM
I made the mistake of listening to this on my iPod while in the dentist's chair.

*shuddering still*

I started sweating. I felt myself begin to panic. My stomach began churning. Somehow my fingers found their way to the pause button.

Sweet relief swept over me! I lay back and relaxed to the sound and vibrations of the dentist's drill grinding out the decay in my teeth. I rejoiced at listening to the drone of a dentist who doesn't seem to understand or care whether you can answer their inane questions. It felt so good to be back in a place where the only worry I had was whether the anesthetic was good enough...

Such... bliss...


  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 772
  • Fun will now commence.
Reply #17 on: July 16, 2007, 01:58:45 AM
I found myself rooting for Bliss, a little bit. Just a lonely (if somewhat kinky) girl, looking for more of her kind.
Her first victim seemed a willing participant. The guard was apparently about to do her harm anyway, so she did society a service. It was like the end of King Kong, except that Kong didn't do really painful stuff to undeserving victims.

Somehow I kept seeing Isabelle Adjani acting the part of Bliss, which can only make me even more sympathetic to her. Bear in mind that Adjani was born in 1955. Hmmm, I wonder how she keeps her skin so youthful-looking.

I feed The Pod.
("planish" rhymes with "vanish")

Russell Nash

  • Guest
Reply #18 on: July 16, 2007, 10:57:45 AM
Somehow I kept seeing Isabelle Adjani acting the part of Bliss, which can only make me even more sympathetic to her. Bear in mind that Adjani was born in 1955. Hmmm, I wonder how she keeps her skin so youthful-looking.

Good choice.  I hadn't thought of any particular actress in the role, but Adjani is perfect.  I saw her in Diabolique in 1996.  I thought she was maybe twenty.  I couldn't believe I was talking about the same actress when I found out she was 40+.


  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #19 on: September 18, 2009, 03:07:51 AM
*shudder*  heeby jeebies!  This story was really good, both on the writing and the story level, and I particularly liked the beginning section before she became a serial killer.

But uh... I don't think I'll be listening to it again any time soon, the skin-flaying was a bit much for me.  At least the gore supported the story!


  • Purveyor of Unsolicited Opinions
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 2228
  • Kibitzer: A meddler who offers unwanted advice
Reply #20 on: October 01, 2009, 12:12:38 PM
Hmm, I guess once again I didn't get it. I often think I'm too literal to miss the subtle cues or hidden meanings put in their stories.

Anyway, for me this story felt simply like an excuse to describe ripping off your skin. There seemed to be little reason for the murders, or for the fact the she "felt" the world better without skin.


  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 385
    • Ankor Sabat
Reply #21 on: August 13, 2010, 05:05:39 PM
I'm gonna trot out that hoary, old chestunut for this one: "Do it again, but half as long."  This was definately a good concept, well told, and with enough squick to fill a stadium - but the problem was that the initial 50% giving Bliss' background felt superfluous.  As long as it was, I felt I knew very little about her as a person.  This story also used a wobbly perspective that was wholly unecessary.  The switch over to Wilma served only to generate pathos so that the reader (listener) felt bad when she died - not make her a person.  I would have liked this story more if it remained fixed on our unfortunate doctor and his dealings with Bliss - her murders, trauma and powers could have been backfilled.  The long, utterly linear nature of this story made the narrative structure appear immature.  It basically tells Bliss' biography, rather than focussing on a smaller portion of her life in order to generate a more powerful effect.

Visit my blog atop the black ziggurat of Ankor Sabat, including my list of Top 10 Pseudopod episodes.


  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 5
Reply #22 on: May 19, 2014, 04:28:12 PM
Impressive. First one so far that I had to actually pause for a second cause I was squirming so much. OOoooooo *shudder* so delightfully horrible!


  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3922
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Reply #23 on: May 19, 2014, 07:02:56 PM
There was some recent discussion about the frequency of cutter stories. This is the one I kept going back to, as it has eclipsed all others in my mind. Great body horror in this.

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