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Author Topic: Pseudopod 423: The Ana Log  (Read 6420 times)

Bdoomed

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on: February 03, 2015, 12:32:08 AM
Pseudopod 423: The Ana Log

by Michael Gray Baughan

“The Ana Log” first appeared in Vol. 2 of RICHMOND MACABRE, an anthology published in 2012 and edited by Beth Brown and Phil Ford.

MICHAEL GRAY BAUGHAN hails from Philadelphia, dwells in Richmond, and writes speculative fiction from somewhere else. At the moment, that somewhere else is a rock cut tomb in the Phrygian Highlands of ancient Anatolia (modern day Turkey), where he is spending a year subsisting on nothing but coffee and köfte while whittling away at his first novel. During full moons and the occasional equinox, he emerges from his writing cave to curate a collection of nonfictional oddities and curiosities at WonderCabinet .net.

Your reader – Jonathan Danz – exists in a parallel dimension that looks suspiciously like West Virginia. When he’s not trundling over rock and root on his velocipede, he labors to hammer stories out of unruly words. With the help of his wife and daughter, he manages to keep track of his car keys, his priorities, and his mind. Should you find yourself in the dusty corners of cyberspace, you may glimpse Words and Coffee, an occasional repository of his thought-mud housed at Words & Coffee.



“Saturday, February 5, 2011

Nondescript and nearly swallowed by the general blight of Jefferson Davis Highway, Thornbill’s store gives no clue that it houses the largest extant VHS collection on the East Coast. And that’s just what’s on the shelves, available for rental to anyone willing to pay the $5 membership fee.

He locked his front door, turned his sign to closed, and escorted me down an impressive gauntlet of vintage porn, through a steel door and into a vast, climate-controlled storeroom in the back that housed a large quantity of unknowns. I was tempted to inquire about certain other rarities that had long eluded me, but in the end felt it best to focus on the task at hand.

Inside a framed and sheet-rocked subdivision of the storeroom, Thornbill had a HR-S8000U hooked up to a Sony Triniton CRT. The inner walls of this room were lined with soundproofing tiles to allow for the private screening of any manner of material. Thornbill excused himself for a moment and returned with an aluminum attaché case, which he placed on the table, unlocked, and opened. It contained eight VHS-C cassettes of the make and vintage I was expecting, plus a folder full of photos and police reports.

Thornbill powered on the VCR and the television, presented me with an adapter cassette, and then excused himself again. As he left the room I asked if he had seen the tapes. He said he had not and would like to keep it that way, but he had every confidence that they were genuine. He had acquired them directly from a retired Richmond P.D. captain. Thornbill said this in a way that made it clear from which direction my troubles would come if I was ever foolish enough to be indiscreet with this information. I asked him why his source had decided to sell them now, after all these years. Thornbill said the man had protected her for as long as he could and just needed someone else to shoulder the burden. It was a strange choice of words, overly metaphoric for a cop. I was eager to take possession of the tapes and be gone with them before Thornbill changed his mind, but I also wanted to be certain the material was genuine. I inserted the first five tapes in sequence and watched a few minutes of each. Immediately I knew that things would never be the same.”




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?


Gray

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Reply #1 on: February 03, 2015, 08:19:31 AM
One of the best releases in a long time (probably since Signalman). Brilliantly written and read, another high in a series of recent highs. Judging by the cheesyness of title of the release I was quite distrustful going in, and I was concerned by the suicide warning in the heads-up, but I was absoloutly rooted by the story itself. It starts with a massive mystery which as it's resolved ramps up into a building horror.

Walking over Exmoor, a large expanse of wilderness broken up by a handful of farms in southwest England on a snowy Febuary morning, trudging through the yellow grass, the stunted erricas and the red crunching saxifrage it's easy to see shapes and auras through the mists. By the time I finished Ana Log I was certain that if I looked too closely into the shapes in the fog I would see something of Anna looking back.

Brilliant.



Unblinking

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Reply #2 on: February 03, 2015, 03:48:17 PM
Great story.  I was wary after the trigger warning in the beginning because I've known some people who committed suicide, and the topic is touchy for me and if it's not handled with care will generate much dislike from me.  In particular I don't like a story that uses suicide as a solution, except in extreme cases where that death serves some purpose to save other lives in some otherwise unavoidable way.  This story used suicide well, it didn't soften the blow, it didn't try to make it into something that it wasn't and the echoes of that horrible half hour of despair still live on today.  I was also concerned with the tape format that it would turn into The Ring, which had a conclusion I never cared for, so I was pleased it didn't go for the chain mail explanation even though there does seem to be some compulsion to pass it on it's not such a corny chain mail format.  The copy of a copy of an analog tape was a great element for a ghost story.

I felt for Ana, and the terror she must be feeling, even though the copy of a copy of a copy versions seem to be feeling less and less of it.  I felt for the protagonist learning all this as he watched, as I watched.  I hated the original documenter from the moment that he made her watch the tape of her own glitching and then kept taping while she seizured on the floor, and even more when the suicide came. 



Dwango

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Reply #3 on: February 03, 2015, 09:17:36 PM
What a creepy and unique tale.  We don't know how or why or if his videoing is affecting her, though the copying seems most likely caused by the filming.  Is she a ghost of some sort or a creature.  Did she get created by the filming itself and then was brought into the world, if you doubt the narrator, who could be highly untrustworthy.  There are more questions than answers, but Ana is a very creepy creature who is worse than a monster since her intent is not to harm, just to find an answer.  And no one can really give her one.



Dandydevildog

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Reply #4 on: February 05, 2015, 03:46:38 AM
Such a good episode, I felt compelled to finally join the forum because I just need to talk about it. Everything builds on itself so wonderfully and all ties together perfectly. I definitely feel bad for Ana. By the time she's first introduced I feel she's already a degraded copy, that's probably why she has so many odd mannerisms. It's a very unique take on a technology/ghost(?) combination. All the unanswered questions about her and her nature was the best choice I feel, I know I keep on thinking about it.



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Reply #5 on: February 05, 2015, 02:18:15 PM
Such a good episode, I felt compelled to finally join the forum because I just need to talk about it. Everything builds on itself so wonderfully and all ties together perfectly. I definitely feel bad for Ana. By the time she's first introduced I feel she's already a degraded copy, that's probably why she has so many odd mannerisms. It's a very unique take on a technology/ghost(?) combination. All the unanswered questions about her and her nature was the best choice I feel, I know I keep on thinking about it.

Welcome!  I hope you stick around to talk about other episodes too.  It's refreshing to hear "I loved this episode so much that it compelled me to join the forum" instead of "I hated this episode so much that it compelled me to join the forum".  :D



Moon_Goddess

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Reply #6 on: February 05, 2015, 04:05:57 PM
I'm being very careful to not read any of the comments in this thread.

When I first heard there was a warning on this episode I thought to myself, I don't wanna be spoiled, but it's rather inconvenient to skip 15 seconds forward in my car so I just let it go.

I heard what the warning was, and I turned off the episode and marked it played.

I've been fighting my own dark thoughts for a while now, and any graphic depiction of it may be bad for me, might not, but not worth taking the chance.


So I want to say thank you very much for the warning and I hope it was a fantastic story that everyone enjoyed.

Was dream6601 but that's sounds awkward when Nathan reads my posts.


Unblinking

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Reply #7 on: February 05, 2015, 04:19:42 PM
I've been fighting my own dark thoughts for a while now, and any graphic depiction of it may be bad for me, might not, but not worth taking the chance.

So I want to say thank you very much for the warning and I hope it was a fantastic story that everyone enjoyed.

I'll echo that I think the trigger warning for this content was entirely appropriate, and I also like the option for the skip-ahead for those who wanted to avoid spoilers.  I think it was handled in the best way possible.



Alasdair5000

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Reply #8 on: February 05, 2015, 05:46:48 PM
I'm being very careful to not read any of the comments in this thread.

When I first heard there was a warning on this episode I thought to myself, I don't wanna be spoiled, but it's rather inconvenient to skip 15 seconds forward in my car so I just let it go.

I heard what the warning was, and I turned off the episode and marked it played.

I've been fighting my own dark thoughts for a while now, and any graphic depiction of it may be bad for me, might not, but not worth taking the chance.


So I want to say thank you very much for the warning and I hope it was a fantastic story that everyone enjoyed.

That, sincerely, has made my day.

I am so, so pleased that the warning worked and that you were able to avoid what would have been a potentially nasty surprise. Thank you so much both for listening and for getting in touch and my absolute best wishes and admiration regarding your struggle with the dark thoughts.



ElectricPaladin

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Reply #9 on: February 05, 2015, 05:47:23 PM
I really liked this one. It was dark, creepy, and very well-told. It reminded me a lot of Hunter: the Vigil's Network Zero. In fact, I might steal this concept for the next time I run Hunter... ;D.

I actually saw a bit of a feminist critique inside this story, and I wonder if it was intentional. Ana, the only female character, is stalked by a man who is luckily a harmless weirdo rather than a real psycho. Nevertheless, in his desire to possess her, he is willing to help her to destroy herself rather than do what it would take to help her live a real life (ie. for herself, on her own terms, as a self-actualized human being). I know that it might be that it's impossible for Ana to have that kind of life, as the story is pretty ambiguous about whether or not she was ever a real human, but hang in there.

So, she dies, but ends up becoming a commodity anyway. All of these underground film freaks are running around, still trying to own her - or at least the record of her death. Still trying to possess her. And she punishes anyone who tries to posses her... but she does it by just standing there, watching them.

So what do they do to get rid of her? They resort to violence, killing each iteration of her. But that only makes the problem worse, causing more and more deformed versions of her to appear, silently watching, judging, confronting them with what she's done.

I found it very interesting that Ana "kills" merely by confronting these men with the evidence of their own guilt. As vengeful spirits go, that's pretty tame.

Anyway, perhaps I'm reading too much into the story, but I thought it was interesting.

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Dandydevildog

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Reply #10 on: February 05, 2015, 06:12:17 PM
This episode really did have one of the best handled trigger warnings I've encountered in a podcast. Well done!

I like the way you think, ElectricPaladin, very interesting take on it. It does almost seem to have a bit of a commentary on obsessing over a woman to the point that she becomes an idealization so far removed from who she actually is. In this case, taking on twisted and disturbing forms.



Josh_Finney

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Reply #11 on: February 06, 2015, 07:31:49 AM
Absolutely amazing. Creepy as hell, too.

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mgb

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Reply #12 on: February 08, 2015, 09:36:48 AM
Hey folks,

Just poking in my head to express sincere thanks to Pseudopod for the nod, Jonathan Danz for his great reading, and to all of you for your substantive feedback. Please keep it coming; it's great fuel for the fire. As Alasdair alluded in the podcast's preface, this forum really is one of the saner, more civilized, and intelligent outposts in the webiverse, and it means a lot to me to be included among the writers whose work receives your thoughtful attention. (My classicist/archaeologist wife loved that bit about fora, btw.)

I'm very late and somewhat reticent to participate in the social media game, so please forgive the crass pitch, but anyone interested can join the few kind souls who follow me on Twitter @michaelgbaughan.

@ElectricPaladin: Without putting too fine a point on it, let me just say your interpretation is certainly one of the "forking paths" (to borrow from Borges) that I hoped readers might take when I originally wrote this piece.

@Moon_Goddess: Sorry to hear about your struggles, and that my story reminded you of them, but glad to know the spoiler protected you. To be honest, I would not have thought to preface the piece, so kudos to Alasdair & co. for their great foresight and empathy.

@Gray: Your description of Exmoor made me jealous I wasn't walking with you. (p.s. great name  ;))

@everyone else: Cheers and hope our paths cross one day.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2015, 03:17:32 PM by mgb »



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Reply #13 on: February 09, 2015, 03:57:15 PM
Hey folks,

Just poking in my head to express sincere thanks to Pseudopod for the nod, Jonathan Danz for his great reading, and to all of you for your substantive feedback. Please keep it coming; it's great fuel for the fire. As Alasdair alluded in the podcast's preface, this forum really is one of the saner, more civilized, and intelligent outposts in the webiverse, and it means a lot to me to be included among the writers whose work receives your thoughtful attention. (My classicist/archaeologist wife loved that bit about fora, btw.)

I'm very late and somewhat reticent to participate in the social media game, so please forgive the crass pitch, but anyone interested can join the few kind souls who follow me on Twitter @michaelgbaughan.

@ElectricPaladin: Without putting too fine a point on it, let me just say your interpretation is certainly one of the "forking paths" (to borrow from Borges) that I hoped readers might take when I originally wrote this piece.

@Moon_Goddess: Sorry to hear about your struggles, and that my story reminded you of them, but glad to know the spoiler protected you. To be honest, I would not have thought to preface the piece, so kudos to Alasdair & co. for their great foresight and empathy.

@Gray: Your description of Exmoor made me jealous I wasn't walking with you. (p.s. great name  ;))

@everyone else: Cheers and hope our paths cross one day.


Thanks for joining in, Michael.  :)  I always like to see authors stop by their story threads.



Metalsludge

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Reply #14 on: February 11, 2015, 01:32:38 AM
Michael, just wanted to note that I have been eating up your Wonder Cabinet site with a spoon. Really fun stuff there.

As for the story, I was left with mixed feelings. It ticks a lot of the boxes that one might expect from a story coming from somebody who would manage a site like the Wonder Cabinet, including found footage, unexplained events and creepy dread, all of which can be good things. But while the writing was obviously miles above the typical creepy pasta, the theme does still feel overly familiar, and the lack of definition or explanation for anything left me less mystified in a good way, and instead sometimes confused during the reading and unsatisfied at the end. The character glitches on tape, as well as in real life, and... Well? And? Oh, it's a mystery. About.. glitches. OK then. But it felt anti-climactic to me. There could have been anything odd about "Ana", but instead she just.. flickers a bit. Yes, it gets worse, which is to say it gets better, later on. But I suspect many of us saw the viral aspect and haunting reappearances of Ana thing coming, in some form or another.

I think the effort from Gemma Files and Stephen Barringer about five years ago did this suicide on tape that involves a viral plague thing better in their story on the subject - Each Thing I show you is a Piece of My Death. Some may like the added mystery in Ana Log without the longer history behind the tape that the Files story had, but I felt like that one added up better than this one.

This was an enjoyable story too though, and I feel guilty being critical of it when I had such fun listening to it. I liked how Ana continues to deform in her later iterations, leaving her burdened observers ultimately surrounded by misshapen horrors. I felt like I could have used more of Ana's perspective to better feel the horror of her predicament, but then that might have taken away from the sense of mystery around her, I suppose.



c210344

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Reply #15 on: February 16, 2015, 05:08:31 PM
As everyone else has said - great story! The thing that got me was the pile of bodies of the different iterations. Yuck. Being murdered over and over again. Would you feel it? Would you remember it?



Whaletale

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Reply #16 on: February 24, 2015, 05:05:57 PM
I really liked this one. It was dark, creepy, and very well-told. It reminded me a lot of Hunter: the Vigil's Network Zero. In fact, I might steal this concept for the next time I run Hunter... ;D.

I actually saw a bit of a feminist critique inside this story, and I wonder if it was intentional. Ana, the only female character, is stalked by a man who is luckily a harmless weirdo rather than a real psycho. Nevertheless, in his desire to possess her, he is willing to help her to destroy herself rather than do what it would take to help her live a real life (ie. for herself, on her own terms, as a self-actualized human being). I know that it might be that it's impossible for Ana to have that kind of life, as the story is pretty ambiguous about whether or not she was ever a real human, but hang in there.

So, she dies, but ends up becoming a commodity anyway. All of these underground film freaks are running around, still trying to own her - or at least the record of her death. Still trying to possess her. And she punishes anyone who tries to posses her... but she does it by just standing there, watching them.

So what do they do to get rid of her? They resort to violence, killing each iteration of her. But that only makes the problem worse, causing more and more deformed versions of her to appear, silently watching, judging, confronting them with what she's done.

I found it very interesting that Ana "kills" merely by confronting these men with the evidence of their own guilt. As vengeful spirits go, that's pretty tame.

Anyway, perhaps I'm reading too much into the story, but I thought it was interesting.

I was going to say something similar to this, but ElectricPaladin said it much better then I ever could!

I'd like to add that I felt that the men in the story were just a much deformed duplicates of the last. Each male charged deeper into the madness of the tapes, taking more extreme actions; and met their end with more a grizzly death then the last.

It makes me wonder if this story ever ends. Will one of us be the next one to come face to face with Ana Log?

Great story :)



c210344

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Reply #17 on: February 24, 2015, 05:26:14 PM
I'd like to add that I felt that the men in the story were just a much deformed duplicates of the last. Each male charged deeper into the madness of the tapes, taking more extreme actions; and met their end with more a grizzly death then the last.

It makes me wonder if this story ever ends. Will one of us be the next one to come face to face with Ana Log?

Great story :)

Mind = blown!
I wonder if that is what the author intended - I hope so.



Moritz

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Reply #18 on: March 05, 2015, 11:53:00 AM
I also really, really liked the story. I constantly had flashed of Chris Cunningham videos in my mind while listening to it.

For some weird reason, I misunderstood the trigger warning as "contains rape", so for the first half of the story, I thought it was about snuff videos and wasn't really interested in it, until I realized the story was something quite different.  :o



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Reply #19 on: March 19, 2015, 01:06:55 PM
Let me just stick my head in here long enough to say I enjoyed the hell out of this one.  I thought it was original, well thought out, and very well presented.  Kudos to the author.