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Author Topic: Pseudopod 403: FLASH ON THE BORDERLANDS XXI: The Tyranny Of Objects  (Read 3991 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: September 15, 2014, 10:43:23 PM »

Pseudopod 403: FLASH ON THE BORDERLANDS XXI: The Tyranny Of Objects

“Nothing that surrounds us is object, all is subject.” – André Breton


“Digit” by Gabriel R. Miller.

This is the first publication of “Digit” – “I couldn’t be happier that my first publication is for the audio market, as audiobooks are what got me writing in the first place.”

GABRIEL R. MILLER lives in the Inland Northwestern United States with his alien ex-wife of 15 years and his three beautiful, half-alien children. He has a dog who loves him, a cat who needs him (her words, not his), and a guinea pig who hates him (though he says the feeling is mutual). He is the proud owner of a small collection of saws, all of which he knows how to use. He is currently working on a fantasy trilogy. He blogs and vlogs and does other things that sound like excretory functions whenever he can muster the will to do so, which isn’t often. He’s also on Facebook and Twitter, and you can find all the links to his various online personalities at Luddite With A Laser.

Your reader – Kyle Akers – has been heard on Escape Pod and previously on PP in: “Passing Grade”.

“A saw wants to cut. What else is it going to do? It’s a saw. Nobody blames the saw when a kid cuts his finger off in shop class. The kid should have payed closer attention. After all, a saw wants to cut.”



“File Under” by Lisamarie Lamb.

“File Under” has only appeared previously on Lisamarie’s blog.

LISAMARIE LAMB has short stories included in over thirty five anthologies, and has a collection of short stories published by Dark Hall Press, entitled OVER THE BRIDGE. She just had a children’s novel published with J. Ellington Ashton called THE BOOK OF MANDRAGORE and a short story collection, FAIRY LIGHTS. She lives on the Isle of Sheppey, UK, with her husband, daughter, and two cats. She blogs at THE MOONLIT DOOR.

Your reader – Mignon Fogarty – is more widely known as Grammar Girl, and her knowledge can be accessed at Quick And Dirty Tips.com.

“It started with nothing. That is, Helen Bentley looked into the yawning maw of the empty filing cabinet and felt no emotion, no pull to it. Nothing. It was a thing, a functional, ugly, grey thing that just stared, squatly squinting at her all day long.

The pointless piece of office funiture was standing with its back to the wall behind her desk, one desk in a sea of desks, its innards spilled out across the floor, a slippery cascade of buff coloured hanging folders and nearly neat inserts. She felt like running through them, kicking them high in the air like a child in Autumn when the leaves had fallen. But she didn’t. It would be a ridiculous thing to do and besides, she would only have to pick all the paper up again, put it away tidily, file it. She would only have to be grown up about it. So instead of running, laughing, remembering the youth she had never had, she filed and filled and did her job. And when the paper and forms and memos were put back together, properly alphabetised and labelled as they should be, she patted the cabinet on its cold top right corner and heard the satisfied clanging of a job well done.

She started to feel something then.”




“Good Boy” by David Stevens

“Good Boy” was David’s first published story, and he is very happy it is finding a new audience. A slightly longer version was published in “Regime 03 Magazine of New Writing” in 2014.

DAVID STEVENS (usually) lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and children. Some of his other stories have appeared in Crossed Genres and Aurealis magazines.

Your reader – Graeme Dunlop – deserves boundless praise for his endless work on behalf of PSEUDOPOD!

“A red ‘7’ glowed on the telephone on his bedside table. He could not imagine seven people who would leave messages for him. Perhaps one person had left seven messages. Maybe some other combination in between. One way to find out.

Six hang ups. Then the last call. Gentle static. The noise wavered, as though it had come a long distance over thrumming lines. Wind blowing over an open microphone. The man shuddered, despite his moth eaten jumper, despite the heater kicking in. He sat in the dark with his eyes closed, the wordless message resonating with something sympathetic within him, the effect continuing after the machine had clicked off. Hands over his eyes, he heard the window rattle with a fresh splash of rain. The building stretched on forever on either side. All of the units were empty. There was only him. The TV noise was the murmuring of a distant nebula caught by a radio telescope. If he looked out of the window now, into the night, he knew that there would be no street, no sky. Just a dim hallway, thin walls rattling with the wind tunnelling though it, rain dripping from a soggy ceiling. This is all that there is.”




Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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bounceswoosh
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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2014, 10:46:49 PM »

Digit - creepy story, creepy reading. Shiver. Loved.
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ElectricPaladin
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« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2014, 01:06:03 AM »

Digit

Nicely creepy. Nicely sinister. Perhaps not really deep, incisive, dear-God-when-will-I-sleep-again horror... but it gave me a pleasant little chill. I liked it.

File Under

This one was perfect. I loved it. I've had jobs like that, and this story really captured the way they can creep up on you, consume you, as they absorb all the frustrated passion that you are just waiting for the opportunity to pour into the things you really want to be doing with your life. Well done.

Good Boy

I liked this one right up until the end. I wasn't sufficiently clear on the main character's dramatic and uncharacteristic action for it to have any input. The rest of the story was chilling and heart-breaking, though.
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adrianh
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« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2014, 01:37:03 PM »

Digit

Nicely written. Nicely narrated. However it just felt like I'd read variants of this story a few too many times before for it to affect me.

File Under

Lovely — and perfectly read. The way that boringly normal kept tipping further and further off kilter was nicely done. The end was suitably icky. Bravo.

Good Boy

Damn. That was heartbreaking and scary as shit — and I don't have kids. I loved it that the reason story of the kid's death and the parent's split was never told directly.  You're just left in the middle of the ghastly aftermath.
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Unblinking
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2014, 08:40:48 AM »

Digit
This one seemed a little too familiar to me, didn't really scare me or convince me.

File Under
I quite liked this one, both when taken literally as a woman falling in love with a talking file cabinet that eventually consumes her, and taken metaphorically about a job of trudging dreariness that eventually makes her lose her mind and eventually consumes her (though I think the ending suggests there is something supernatural going on here, otherwise I am skeptical that a person could shove their own entire body into a file cabinet.  Someone else's body maybe, but not their own--at some point you would just lack the leverage since most of you is already crammed in, and when enough things are broken your body wouldn't function well enough to do the work.

Good Boy
I'm torn on this one.  The voice acting was very good.  The writing, I haven't been able to decide whether it's well done or whether it falls on the side of maudlin, but the thing that really threw me was the apparent change of character at the ending.  Was that him falling into old habits and trying to push the problem away?  It seemed that with this sudden reconnect after all this time, he wouldn't just push it away.
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Bartok
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« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2014, 08:30:37 AM »

A minute and forty-five seconds of this episode is dedicated to telling us why Pseudopod doesn't do content warnings. I'd rather just listen to a ten second content warning.
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Alasdair5000
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« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2014, 10:44:09 AM »

But on the plus side, at least the coffee was mostly made by the time the rest of the episode showed up.

Shorter content warnings are coming. I moved house, town and job this week so, oddly, my response times are somewhat off.
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davidthygod
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« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2014, 12:19:29 PM »

Digit
ok. 

File Under
meh - i get the metaphor, but this one did not work for me.  I kept thinking, "why the file cabinet, why not any other inanimate office object (the desk, her lamp, a stapler)." 

Good Boy
Holy Shit, so good and so terrifying.  Was driving to get my son from school while listening to it.  That probably helped this one work so well in my mind.   And I need to echo how awesome the voice acting was on this one.
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The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2014, 12:59:20 PM »

File Under
meh - i get the metaphor, but this one did not work for me.  I kept thinking, "why the file cabinet, why not any other inanimate office object (the desk, her lamp, a stapler)." 

Because other inanimate office objects don't carry the same weight of responsibility as the contents of a file cabinet.  A stapler staples--it generally works without issue, and if it has an issue you get a new stapler.  Likewise for lamp and desk.  The exact ordering of everything in that file cabinet represents countless hours of ongoing work to maintain that organization as new files come in.  She feels buried under the tedium and weight of her responsibility and ends up perversely drawn to it.  I don't think any other piece of office accessory would carry that weight.  And other choices would also have made the ending impossible.  For this story to work without making it a completely different story, I think only a filing cabinet would work for these reasons.
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davidthygod
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« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2014, 01:13:56 PM »

I think only a filing cabinet would work for these reasons.

Good reasoning, I found myself thinking that the desk would be better.  Nothing is more intimate in an office environment that ones relationship with your desk.  Constant touching, you are generally underneath it, you put your personal items in and on it all the time. 

As for the ending, well, that was probably not my favorite part of the story, though I definitely appreciate the effort, creativity, and time that goes into writing flash fiction.  Its much easier to sit here at my desk and throw the occasional stone.
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Sgarre1
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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2014, 01:44:17 PM »

If anyone is interested the theme of this FOTB was "inspired", at least in part, by Guy De Maupassant's story "Qui sait?" ("Who Knows?"), written in 1890, three years before his death.  The story itself was not part of the episode for three reasons:

1. Although he's a personal favorite, we've already done Guy de Maupassant in an earlier episode. Also, not quite a horror story...weird and goofy, really
2. The story itself is too long for a FOTB episode segment.
3. The first half of the story is superb, but the second half... eh... goes a bit off track, shall we say.  Still, those who believe that social misanthropes having an unhealthy fixation on their household accessories and furnishings (as a replacement for human interaction) is a modern phenomena should certainly check it out.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2014, 01:47:57 PM by Sgarre1 » Logged
albionmoonlight
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« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2014, 01:02:56 PM »

1. Digit.  A fun little piece of short horror.  I liked the reading a lot.  Won't stick with me, I do not think.

2. File Under.  Loved it.  Works on multiple levels.  Is it a haunted filing cabinet?  If so, how fun is that?  A haunted filing cabinet!  I think that the story also did a great job painting a picture of tedious office life.  Having been in places like that, the story really did capture the setting very well.  My favorite reading of the story is that she is trapped by an overwhelming sense of loneliness and undiagnosed mental illness working together to create her delusion.  And the real honest horror here is how everyone reacts to someone in their midst expressing those symptoms.  They laugh at her; they ignore her; they increase her isolation; and then they (or, the boss) throw her out like an annoying piece of trash.  I'm just picturing this sad, lonely, sick woman, and everyone just laughing at her.  No one lifting a finger to try and help her.  Or even to bother to try and figure out what is going on.  That's horror, made all the more horrible by how realistic it seems based on some social dynamics I've seen.

3. Good Boy.  Didn't finish it.  Can't handle horror stories about kids.  From the comments above, I am glad that I didn't finish.  Does not seem like it had a happy ending.
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Moritz
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« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2014, 12:47:33 PM »

I quite enjoyed these three.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2015, 09:57:13 AM »

I put "File Under" as honorable mention on my Best of Pseudopod 2014 list posted this morning:
http://www.diabolicalplots.com/?p=12662
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