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Author Topic: PC307: Out of the Deep Have I Howled Unto Thee  (Read 2750 times)
Talia
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« on: April 17, 2014, 03:34:20 PM »

PodCastle 307: Out of the Deep Have I Howled Unto Thee

by Scott M. Roberts

Read by Dave Thompson

Originally published in Monsters & Mormons.

The wolf growled in his lungs, and Clark felt a bit of its frustration pass over his lips.  Fifteen minutes to dawn.  His fingers trembled as he worked the transmission into place.  

And then, he was done.

Too soon!  He realized it, and so the wolf realized it too, and he could feel it stretching within him, its claws scraping the skin beneath his fingernails.  Clark hunted for something to tighten, something to adjust, some bit of grease to wipe away.  His fingers tumbled along the skin of the motorcycle while his eyes hunted the corners of the garage.  Something to catch his mind, something to distract him…  There were the shadows scattered throughout the garage, the gleam of his tools in the overhead brights.  And the red of his toolbox, red as blood, as red as a predator’s tongue…

The wolf scrambled in his throat; his prayer came out guttural.  De profundis, Clark thought.  Out of the deep have I howled unto thee, O Lord.


Rated R. Contains violence, some of it self-inflicted. Happy Easter!

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: May 09, 2014, 07:51:50 AM by Talia » Logged
HueItzcoatl
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2014, 09:18:15 AM »

Just finished listening to this one and I have to say it left me feeling rather melancholy. I have the urge to sit down and right volumes of self indulgent emo poetry like I did back in my high school days. Dave's voice was superb on this one and it fit the gritty atmosphere of the story so well that I can't imagine anyone else taking up the role of reader on this one.

This story really got me thinking about the nature of desire. Often werewolf stories are commentaries on animal desire versus human sensibilities. That ever present war inside the minds of every person. This story is no different, but I like the way in which the struggle was presented. Here the man had choice, with enough will power he was able to keep that wolf at bay, cage it in other things. Distracting himself with the world of man so as to not give in to the wolf.

I loved the use of religion here, having been raised a Catholic, I often had to deal with the guilt of impure thoughts and actions and I loved how that added another layer to the story.

The ending was the best for me, I can't help but think he perished along with the wolf but I love how it is left up to the reader to decide. Can a man live without his wolf? Can we really surpass that darkness and grow beyond it? Or are they as much a part of us as everything else and when it dies so do we?
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DerangedMind
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« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2014, 03:08:41 PM »

Hey all.

I just finished this one, and I have to admit, I had problems getting into the story.  It was well written, well narrated.  I thought the narration style was perfect for it.  I just had problems 'zoning' into the story.  I'll have to try listening to it again in the future, maybe I'll be in a better receptive state for it.

The ending caught me off guard -- I noticed (and expected it) when the police officer was mentioned having bloody hands when they found him wandering in the desert.  I assumed that he got that way from trying to dig up the motorcycle.  At the end, when the wolf came, I was expecting it to be the officer, in wolf form, to kill him.

I really liked how the story was focusing on him trying (successfully) to control the beast and to redeem himself.  I loved the line when he found the girl 'No one is dying tonight'.  Obviously he's had lapses in the past that he is trying to make up for.

All in all a great story.  I'm just sorry it didn't totally work for me.
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« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2014, 06:16:22 PM »

I have to admit Dave really lured me in with his teaser last week when he promoted it as "an Easter story with a werewolf, a motorcycle, and a Mormon".  Since I am the resident Mormon here, and since Dave was reading the story, I just had to check it out.  Boy, am I glad I did!

The religious aspects were pretty minimal, but they packed a punch.  They added to the depth and overall sense of redemption in this story.  Though Clark doesn't kill anybody in the story, and he does save the girl despite her blood tempting him, we have to assume that before he overcame the pull of the wolf, or the resonance, he did his share of ripping and tearing and killing and eating, for which he feels intense guilt.

It was extremely cool that through sheer force of will, Clark was able to trap the wolf into the motorcycle, or should I say the werecycle.  And it still called to those who come near.  I liked how the officer returned to personally tell Clark that he was cleared, and then followed him out to the desert.  He was drawn to the bike.  I kind of wanted to see what happened when he sat on it, but that would have diverted from the story too much I suppose.

A great story!  Dark, but well-earned.

Edit:  I looked into the anthology where this story came from, Monsters and Mormons.  it does have "That Leviathon, Who Thou Hast Made" by Eric James Stone, which is another excellent story, but many of them look to be sort of silly.  Maybe I'm too close to it.
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DerangedMind
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« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2014, 12:48:56 AM »

Since I am the resident Mormon here, and since Dave was reading the story, I just had to check it out.  Boy, am I glad I did!

The religious aspects were pretty minimal, but they packed a punch.  They added to the depth and overall sense of redemption in this story.

I was curious whether the act of taking the temptation to the desert and burying it might have any special symbolism for a Mormon.  I saw parallels to the temptations of Christ.  But I'm not familiar enough with the Mormon faith to know whether it might have some special meaning for you.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2014, 09:24:18 AM »

I thought it was a pretty good story, and I couldn't have picked a better reader for it than Dave--his voice is perfect for gritty noir type stuff like this.   

I like how he was able to keep the beastie at bay by focusing on a detailed project.  I didn't really understand how the wolf got trapped in the motorcycle and I did end up wondering about that for the rest of the story.  How did he pull a motorcycle behind him?  Wouldn't it tip over and just get dragged on its side?

I don't know, though, I didn't really get that into it.  Not sure why.  Might've just been a personal mental funk I was in that day, no idea.
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« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2014, 11:16:10 AM »

Since I am the resident Mormon here, and since Dave was reading the story, I just had to check it out.  Boy, am I glad I did!

The religious aspects were pretty minimal, but they packed a punch.  They added to the depth and overall sense of redemption in this story.

I was curious whether the act of taking the temptation to the desert and burying it might have any special symbolism for a Mormon.  I saw parallels to the temptations of Christ.  But I'm not familiar enough with the Mormon faith to know whether it might have some special meaning for you.

No, not really, only as a setting.  I assume the sagebrush-filled desert was somewhere in Utah. 

Removing/avoiding the temptation is only part of the repentance process.  Restitution also plays a part, so I'd be interested to see how Clark would deal with that, if he is still alive, since there is really no way to make restitution for what you did as a werewolf.  Will he be able to get past it and forgive himself?
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DKT
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« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2014, 05:41:35 PM »

Marshal, I just want you to know I was thinking of you while recording this one. I'm really glad it worked for you Smiley
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Varda
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« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2014, 06:05:00 PM »

I'll pile on the love for Dave as narrator choice--perfect, perfect! I guess we can add "werewolf" to the list of careers that would be darn good matches for our beloved host, along with evil pirate. Tongue

I think what I loved about this episode was its portrayal of the relationship between a person's pain and faith. Being a man of faith doesn't automatically rid the guy of his werewolf, but it gives him the courage to put in the radical effort it takes to make it happen, to do the impossible. I'm at a funny place in my life with my own faith, but this story made me think of how, for me, faith pretty much boils down to a howling from the deeps at a visceral level, not for easy fixes but for the strength to live up to my highest ideals in the face of the awful things that will always be part of the fabric of life.
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bounceswoosh
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« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2014, 06:39:49 AM »

  How did he pull a motorcycle behind him?  Wouldn't it tip over and just get dragged on its side?

It did. It pained me to think about it. He wanted to bury the thing, not preserve it perfectly undamaged.
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kitsune_chan
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2014, 08:59:59 AM »

The story seemed fine, it just didn't work for me personally.  The concepts of society and faith were strange and I found it hard to relate to.  As an atheist and non-US listener, this is sometimes expected.
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Devoted135
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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2014, 12:57:07 PM »

This was an interesting portrayal of a werewolf, and I appreciated the story's treatment of the interplay between Clark's "resonance" with the wolf and his faith. And of course Dave's reading was top notch!
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« Reply #12 on: April 28, 2014, 09:07:56 AM »

  How did he pull a motorcycle behind him?  Wouldn't it tip over and just get dragged on its side?

It did. It pained me to think about it. He wanted to bury the thing, not preserve it perfectly undamaged.

Ah, the way I was hearing it, it sounded like the motorcycle was somehow being pulled upright rather than being scraped into garbage.  What if some of the pieces like the rear view mirror got left behind on the road, and those pieces still contained werewolf?
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Scott R
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« Reply #13 on: April 28, 2014, 09:11:23 AM »

Howdy, folks!  I'm Scott M. Roberts, author of 'Out of the Deep Have I Howled Unto Thee.' 

Werewolves > vampires, for the record. 

I suppose I should note that the above holds true if the "werewolves" and "vampires" we're talking about are framed in the classic mode.  I like the dilemma of the werewolf-- the struggle of the man against the beast, writ with horrible consequences if he can't (or won't) tame it.  The vampire has already ceded his or her humanity; the werewolf, supposedly, has a chance.  The exercise of that element of agency, whether it's extreme self-discipline like Clark, or a voluntary three-night stay in iron bars and a cage ala Oz from Buffy, is what excites me most about werewolf stories. 

And sure, it's all metaphorical.  Maybe.

Out of the Deep is my most-revised story.  I finished it back in 2006.  Back then, Clark was fighting against the wolf in order to be worthy of the family he'd once had.  Here's a LONG excerpt from the original draft.  This occurs just after the wolf has been pushed into the motorcycle.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I submitted the original to Shimmer.  Elise Tobler worked with me for a while to see if we could come to an agreement about how the story was supposed to go-- she felt that Clark's family was extraneous to the story.  I saw them as a motivating factor for Clark.  We wound up not being able to come to a compromise that worked for both of us, and I moved on.

After a while, Elise's advice kind of sunk in, and I came around to her way of thinking.  I rewrote the story, editing out Clark's family, and the result was a much more lean and thematically malleable piece.  Around the time that I finished the rewrite, William Morris and Theric Jepson of Motley Vision (a Mormon literature site) had put out calls for Mormon-centric speculative fiction stories.  William had read the initial version, and liked the revised version enough to recommend it to Theric.  I added some additional Christian imagery and a little more Mormon flavor, and they accepted it for their huge anthology, Monsters and Mormons.

And that's version you heard.

I am a practicing, orthodox Mormon.  I don't enjoy religious fiction-- much of it is pamphletized, you know?  "How to Gain Heaven in Four Easy Steps" or some such.  In a lot of religious fiction, God is waiting in the wings to save the day, or provide a Rube Goldberg solution to whatever melodrama is happening at the moment.  Additionally, much of religious fiction is geared toward conversion and romance.  While those are fine themes, they don't particularly interest me.  I am interested in struggle.

So of course werewolves are interesting to me. 

One other scripture, in addition to the bit in Psalms that the title is taken from is this, from 2nd Corinthians 12: vss 7-9

Quote
7 [...]there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness...

The idea that God would allow Paul to suffer rather than curing whatever was afflicting him was pretty tantalizing for me, and shows up a lot in Out of the Deep.

Onto questions and comments!

Quote
I often had to deal with the guilt of impure thoughts and actions and I loved how that added another layer to the story.

Yep.  I'm glad that in the final revisions, I focused more on Clark's present than in his past.  From the POV of the story, it doesn't matter too much what horrible things he's done as a werewolf-- the struggle to overcome the beast is what is essential.  I think that lends the reader some power to project onto Clark their own imaginings, their own interpretations, and their own emotions.  I'm totally okay with that.

Quote
I can't help but think he perished along with the wolf but I love how it is left up to the reader to decide.

I purposefully left the ending ambiguous.  Some people like it that way; some less.  Glad it worked for you.

Quote
Dave's voice was superb on this one and it fit the gritty atmosphere of the story so well that I can't imagine anyone else taking up the role of reader on this one.

I was completely floored by his performance.  Excellent work.

Quote
The religious aspects were pretty minimal, but they packed a punch.  They added to the depth and overall sense of redemption in this story.

For me, it's less about redemption and more about release. 

Quote
I looked into the anthology where this story came from, Monsters and Mormons.  it does have "That Leviathon, Who Thou Hast Made" by Eric James Stone, which is another excellent story, but many of them look to be sort of silly.  Maybe I'm too close to it.

Dan Wells's 'The Mountain of the Lord' is the best story in the volume.  It's about a Mormon boy who can turn into a giant stone creature.  He fights zombies and witches.  Sounds silly, but the execution is brilliant. 

Quote
I was curious whether the act of taking the temptation to the desert and burying it might have any special symbolism for a Mormon.  I saw parallels to the temptations of Christ.  But I'm not familiar enough with the Mormon faith to know whether it might have some special meaning for you.

The only specifically Mormon things in the story that I can think of are the mention Clark not drinking coffee, and that 'sacrament' consists of taking bread and water.

Quote
I assume the sagebrush-filled desert was somewhere in Utah. 

Arizona is where I imagine it to be.  But just about any arid land works.

Quote
Removing/avoiding the temptation is only part of the repentance process.  Restitution also plays a part, so I'd be interested to see how Clark would deal with that, if he is still alive, since there is really no way to make restitution for what you did as a werewolf.  Will he be able to get past it and forgive himself?

I'm unsure.  Sometimes, I think the 'forgiving yourself' stuff goes a bit too far.  Maybe you aren't ever meant to get over what you've done, at least not in this life.  Maybe whatever you did was so catastrophic that no amount of repentance can heal you-- maybe you learn to deal with being spiritually maimed until death. 

But again-- for me, this is about release, not redemption.  My interpretation is not authoritative, however.  I'm happy if someone finds any meaning at all in this completely made up and fictional string of consonants and vowels...

Quote
Being a man of faith doesn't automatically rid the guy of his werewolf, but it gives him the courage to put in the radical effort it takes to make it happen, to do the impossible.

:nod:

Quote
for me, faith pretty much boils down to a howling from the deeps at a visceral level, not for easy fixes but for the strength to live up to my highest ideals in the face of the awful things that will always be part of the fabric of life.

I totally get this.  Since I finished writing Out of the Deep, I've had a child be born with a life threatening heart condition (born with half a heart).  We also discovered a year and a bit ago, that my wife has a brain tumor.  I've howled a lot at God.  I feel like He's howled back.

At least there's a conversation taking place (assuming I'm not insane.  Or lycanthropic).

Maybe that's where I get my dislike of Christian fiction from...I mean, what I've read of it, it makes having faith, and living one's belief out to be so easy.  I don't think it's meant to be easy, or natural even.  I think it's meant to be the hardest thing we ever do.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #14 on: April 28, 2014, 11:37:27 AM »

Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation, Scott.  When I saw that this was a Scott M. Roberts story, one of my first thoughts was "Ooh, he's stopped by the forum after his previous stories to talk; I hope he does again."
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Scott R
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« Reply #15 on: April 28, 2014, 11:52:58 AM »

I am afflicted with intense interest when people are talking about me.

Smiley

Also, I'm avoiding conversations about the Hugo, and this is a convenient place to hide.
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Fenrix
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« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2014, 09:56:14 AM »


Quote
I can't help but think he perished along with the wolf but I love how it is left up to the reader to decide.

I purposefully left the ending ambiguous.  Some people like it that way; some less.  Glad it worked for you.


It also works if you want to interpret the ending as a Rebirth or even a Resurrection (since this is an Easter story). Do we have three days from locking the wolf in the motorcycle and the end of the story?
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JDHarper
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« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2014, 01:20:39 PM »

I'm working my way through a long backlog of Podcastle episodes and just listened to this. This one is beautiful. As someone who used to be deeply involved with a Christian church, the metaphor of the werewolf and the scriptural references are deeply resonant with the kinds of prayers I used to pray as a teenager (back when I used to think that, say, sexual attraction was a temptation from the devil to be overcome). Dave's reading was perfect too. Well done.
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