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Author Topic: Pseudopod 370: Mary  (Read 10402 times)

Scattercat

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Reply #25 on: February 15, 2014, 01:19:10 PM
This one I liked a lot.  Sure, it's not exactly a new or particularly shocking idea, but like Unblinking said, it portrayed a non-human perspective with unsettling accuracy.  (Well, I say "accuracy" like I know what one would sound like, but you know what I mean.)  I enjoyed the effort to spice up the reading, but like many such efforts, all it did was render me unable to hear what the bleep was being said while the SFX were going.  (I have rubbish hearing and I tend to listen while doing chores like washing the dishes, so any added background hiss or white noise is basically turning on Scattercat Mute.)  I did figure it out by the end, at least enough to appreciate the cyclical structure.

The main criticism I would have for this one is that I don't feel any more particular horror about the final Mary than about any of the others; it felt like the story just iterated its pattern a few times and then paused without really resolving much of anything.  That's not even necessarily a problem, but it made me wonder a little why she got so much more build-up than the other victims.

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Fenrix

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Reply #26 on: February 17, 2014, 03:57:42 PM

The main criticism I would have for this one is that I don't feel any more particular horror about the final Mary than about any of the others; it felt like the story just iterated its pattern a few times and then paused without really resolving much of anything.  That's not even necessarily a problem, but it made me wonder a little why she got so much more build-up than the other victims.


I got the impression that the final Mary (who is actually a Mary) may be the closure of a loop. Maybe she is a manifestation or reincarnation of the first True Mary.

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


eytanz

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Reply #27 on: February 17, 2014, 05:06:09 PM

The main criticism I would have for this one is that I don't feel any more particular horror about the final Mary than about any of the others; it felt like the story just iterated its pattern a few times and then paused without really resolving much of anything.  That's not even necessarily a problem, but it made me wonder a little why she got so much more build-up than the other victims.


I got the impression that the final Mary (who is actually a Mary) may be the closure of a loop. Maybe she is a manifestation or reincarnation of the first True Mary.

I really didn't get that sense. For me, what stood out about the final Mary was that she was the *restart* of the loop - the hospital was closed, the creature was starving, and the whole thing might be ending. But now there's a new Mary, and the cycle will continue. I do agree that it was a bit confusing that the last Mary was actually named Mary, but I ended up deciding that that's a coincidence more than anything else.



Unblinking

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Reply #28 on: February 17, 2014, 05:51:40 PM
I really didn't get that sense. For me, what stood out about the final Mary was that she was the *restart* of the loop - the hospital was closed, the creature was starving, and the whole thing might be ending. But now there's a new Mary, and the cycle will continue.

That was my take on it as well.

I do agree that it was a bit confusing that the last Mary was actually named Mary, but I ended up deciding that that's a coincidence more than anything else.

Although it's a little hard to tell what was actually intended to be fact, but my interpretation given that the last woman self-refers as Mary, that all of the previous Marys were also actually named Mary.  And that detail is the exact reason why this monster tortures them--he sees the repitition of the name as an indication of continuity of the person who is his beloved Mary.  Other people who move into that building with different names may have uneasy feelings or may hear rumors of dark happening.

This only works out because Mary is such a common name and will probably continue to be a common name wherever Christians are a significant portion of the population because of the importance of the name in the Bible.  If the original object of its affections were named Morticia or Ligeia than he'd probably just be a sad sack forever instead of being happily torturous.  I can just imagine it singing:
Quote
Oh it's a jolly holiday with Mary.
Mary makes your heart so light.
When the day is gray and ordinary,
Mary makes the sun shine bright.
...
No wonder that it's Mary that we love.

I think the monster is the ghost of Bert.  Never mind that the timelines and locations don't match up.



adrianh

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Reply #29 on: February 17, 2014, 05:56:29 PM
Quote
my interpretation given that the last woman self-refers as Mary, that all of the previous Marys were also actually named Mary

Erm... weren't several of Marys male?

(cue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1BJfDvSITY)




Unblinking

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Reply #30 on: February 17, 2014, 06:57:20 PM
Quote
my interpretation given that the last woman self-refers as Mary, that all of the previous Marys were also actually named Mary

Erm... weren't several of Marys male?

(cue http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1BJfDvSITY)



Hmmm... Maybe I'm misremembering, but I thought they were all female.  I thought that he tortured men sometimes too, but they were a poor substitute for his true love Mary and were little more than a way to pass the time until Mary returned.



Fenrix

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Reply #31 on: February 17, 2014, 07:05:04 PM
I'm pretty confident that two of the "Mary's" were male (one old one young) and we got a distinctly male name for one via discussion from other people. "Mary" was just what he called the person in the room where he was fettered.

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


Fenrix

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Reply #32 on: February 17, 2014, 07:08:09 PM
Here we go.

Quote

Mary was young again, now, even younger than time before and time before that. Short brown hair, pulled out in small patches, covered Mary’s head, and her eyes were red rimmed and small. Now he learned that Mary liked to climb into the hospital air vents at the top of chipped, stained walls, and he loved chasing her through these cramped metal corridors. The muffled screams echoed and filled the hospital to the point of maddening the other patients. Those were good days. The doctors would call into the vents, shouting, "Robert, come out of there right now, young man, you’ll get hurt!" But Mary didn’t like visiting anyone else in the hospital, not even the doctors. And no one else in the hospital was good at visiting Mary, except for him. This made Mary cry and cry every night that the vents were closed, while he stood over her and touched her hair. Sometimes Mary would kick out, and he would laugh, and Mary would cry some more, her muscles shaking under her skin.


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


Scattercat

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Reply #33 on: February 17, 2014, 09:18:10 PM

The main criticism I would have for this one is that I don't feel any more particular horror about the final Mary than about any of the others; it felt like the story just iterated its pattern a few times and then paused without really resolving much of anything.  That's not even necessarily a problem, but it made me wonder a little why she got so much more build-up than the other victims.


I got the impression that the final Mary (who is actually a Mary) may be the closure of a loop. Maybe she is a manifestation or reincarnation of the first True Mary.

Possible, but like Eytanz, I didn't hear anything that pointed me that direction other than her being named Mary.  Was there something in the text?  Not having read it, but only heard it, I might have missed a subtle detail.

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Facemouth

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Reply #34 on: February 18, 2014, 03:37:33 AM
Interesting...I could be wrong, but I took it as "Mary" could potentially be anybody.  It was almost as if the presence was choosing who "she" was. And powerless, the victim must obey.



Unblinking

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Reply #35 on: February 18, 2014, 03:32:56 PM
Here we go.

Quote

Mary was young again, now, even younger than time before and time before that. Short brown hair, pulled out in small patches, covered Mary’s head, and her eyes were red rimmed and small. Now he learned that Mary liked to climb into the hospital air vents at the top of chipped, stained walls, and he loved chasing her through these cramped metal corridors. The muffled screams echoed and filled the hospital to the point of maddening the other patients. Those were good days. The doctors would call into the vents, shouting, "Robert, come out of there right now, young man, you’ll get hurt!" But Mary didn’t like visiting anyone else in the hospital, not even the doctors. And no one else in the hospital was good at visiting Mary, except for him. This made Mary cry and cry every night that the vents were closed, while he stood over her and touched her hair. Sometimes Mary would kick out, and he would laugh, and Mary would cry some more, her muscles shaking under her skin.


I stand corrected!



Fenrix

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Reply #36 on: February 18, 2014, 04:52:03 PM

The main criticism I would have for this one is that I don't feel any more particular horror about the final Mary than about any of the others; it felt like the story just iterated its pattern a few times and then paused without really resolving much of anything.  That's not even necessarily a problem, but it made me wonder a little why she got so much more build-up than the other victims.


I got the impression that the final Mary (who is actually a Mary) may be the closure of a loop. Maybe she is a manifestation or reincarnation of the first True Mary.

Possible, but like Eytanz, I didn't hear anything that pointed me that direction other than her being named Mary.  Was there something in the text?  Not having read it, but only heard it, I might have missed a subtle detail.

I'd have to dig farther to see why I have that impression, but one of the big signposts is that she's named Mary. We have reference to the First True Mary, then the substitute "Mary's" in the middle (with very deliberate reveals that they are non-Mary Marys), and the final seemed more important. If the final Mary being Mary wasn't important, then the author wouldn't have named her Mary.

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


eytanz

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Reply #37 on: February 18, 2014, 06:22:02 PM
Maybe the fact that she was named Mary is what allowed the creature to find her in its weakened state. But honestly, I don't really believe that. If I were to guess the author's reasoning in naming her Mary, I'd say it's a meta-narrative decision trying to keep a continuity over the perspective shift.



Trelbee

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Reply #38 on: February 18, 2014, 11:40:03 PM
I'm pretty sure "non-Mary Marys" is now my favorite phrase from this discussion. :)

Please forgive my typos and grammatical errors. I'm probably using swype on my phone, or god help me, holding my iPad aloft over my head while the baby sleeps in my arms. Believe me, the errors bother me waaaay more than they bother you...


doctornemo

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Reply #39 on: May 01, 2014, 12:15:05 AM
Beautifully read.



Marlboro

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Reply #40 on: December 21, 2019, 04:10:04 PM
After all jacks are in their boxes
And the clowns have all gone to bed
You can hear happiness staggering on down the street
Footprints dressed in red

And the wind whispers... "Mary"



A very nice blend of story and narration.  Any theories on who or what the narrator was?

About the sound FX discussion:

Adding sound effects to a narrated story is kinda tricky. What works brilliantly in old time radio plays can sound gimmicky or intrusive in narrated stories.

I think background effects that add atmosphere or indicate a change in setting are often effective. Ocean noises in nautical tales are an example of the former, birds chirping or street noises for the latter. If done properly adding effects to vocals can be very effective in horror stories, but you have to make certain that the words are still intelligible.

The hardest thing, imo, is inserting individual sound effects into a story. They really have to be used judiciously. It almost feels like it's an all or nothing proposition. You need several effects throughout the story or you run the risk of a single effect jarring the reader out of the story. It's a tough call.