Author Topic: Pseudopod 441: Deep Deep  (Read 2734 times)

Bdoomed

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Pseudopod 441: Deep Deep
« on: June 06, 2015, 11:23:59 PM »
Pseudopod 441: Deep Deep

by Karen Munro

“Deep Deep” originally appeared in Electric Spec, May 2012. “I once worked as a summer camp counselor, and I love swimming in lakes. (You might not think so, but it’s true!)”

KAREN MUNRO lives, writes, and works as a librarian in Portland, OR. Every day in October she sends a free scary story out to a select list of scary-story-readers. Stories are an eclectic mix, all freely available on the Internet. If you’d like to be added to the list, you can email her at kmunrovian at gmail dot com. She blogs at Karen Munro where people can find the full list of stories from October 2014. (Happy reading!).

Your reader this week — Corvus — is a musician, poet, and podcast host for The Green Magick Podcast. He lives in Phoenix, AZ and you can find most of his work on Skeletopia.



“If a kid got lost in the lake, all the counselors had to dive. They were supposed to line up an arm’s length from each other, dive to the bottom, swim a few feet, then come straight up for air. If you dove close to shore it wasn’t bad. You only had to go down a few feet. But out at the end of the dock, beneath the diving board, it was twelve or fifteen or twenty feet to the bottom. That’s what we called deep-deep.

I wasn’t a counselor. I wasn’t counselor material, especially not at Wanderwell Reformatory Boys’ Camp. I wasn’t there to reform anyone, I just wanted to get out of my mom’s basement for the summer. Bagging cream of wheat and counting bowstrings in the quartermaster’s A-frame was better than listening to my mom and Shouty Phil rampage through the house. I didn’t want to be a counselor. I didn’t want to be responsible for anyone . . . but they still made me dive.”



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2015, 05:18:34 PM by Bdoomed »
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Unblinking

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Re: Pseudopod 441: Deep Deep
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2015, 08:58:45 AM »
I thought the character was very convincing.  I pictured the thing at the bottom of the lake as being something like an angler fish evolved to capture humans--using that bioluminescent glint to lure people to the bottom and then reaching up with fingerlike tentacles to try to keep you down there until you drown.

The story felt a little incomplete to me, like it didn't all wrap together, I'm not exactly sure why.  Maybe because the glinting possible-beastie felt a little removed from the rest of the events.  I can't quite put my finger on it, thematically I think it makes sense but it felt kind of incomplete somehow.  Not super useful feedback, I realize.  But I did find the characters very convincing.

And I have had a near miss with diving/drowning.  I am not a strong swimmer, and I never have been.  I never really got the knack for it when I was a kid though I've gotten to a point now where I can backfloat for quite a while and can doggy paddle and do some very basic strokes.  When i was in high school I was at the lake with some friends, and we were kind of hanging around a buoy that marked the end of the swimming area.  People were diving and seeing how far down they could go and I got it into my fool head to follow the chain of the buoy and see if I could reach the bottom.  I don't know how deep it was at that particular point, but even with the aid of the chain to follow down it was further than I could make it down, and I pushed a little bit further than was safe for me, a fact which I only really realized when I was about a quarter of the way back up and was starting to feel pretty desperate to take a breath.  I swear that chain was at least twice as long going up as it was on the way down and I think I was only a hair's breadth away from gasping in water.  Maybe the people I was with would've saved my ass, but I wouldn't count on it, so my life could very easily have ended there.  I did not make that mistake again.  That moment did come to mind as he was being held under the water.


eytanz

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Re: Pseudopod 441: Deep Deep
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2015, 09:19:04 AM »
I feel that the story was most interesting, and most effective, when it was away from the lake. The story of a teenager escaping his own screwed up family life by working as a reluctant councillor in a badly-run summer camp for "problem" teens is an interesting one. The lake as one example of how the camp's policies were ineffective is great. The lake as the focus of horror didn't connect for me. I'm not sure I can explain why, it just didn't.

I thought the reader did a great job of conveying the character.

elgatoguy

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Re: Pseudopod 441: Deep Deep
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2015, 05:45:18 AM »
Of the all the different fates that could be classified as horrific, realistically speaking this is the one I'm most likely to suffer, and thus the one of which I'm most afraid: succumb to personal apathy and live out my days as a depressed mediocrity. The contingency of self has always disturbed me. All it takes is one wrong step at the right time to make the difference between overcoming your demons and letting them drag you down into a deep dark hole forever (or a lake). The protagonist of the story had a chance to save himself by saving the depressed kid at the camp, but he turned away because the kid's problems reflected his own and he couldn't face what he saw. So the kid committed suicide, and now the protagonist will spend the rest of his life punishing himself because he knows he doesn't deserve a hand to help him out of the hole, because he didn't offer one to the kid. This dynamic reared it's ugly head time and time again as I was growing up, being bullied, trying to appease bullies, bullying others by proxy: I knew I didn't deserve better because I treated others just as poorly, in an effort to escape those doing the same to me.

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Re: Pseudopod 441: Deep Deep
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2015, 02:42:01 PM »
Of the all the different fates that could be classified as horrific, realistically speaking this is the one I'm most likely to suffer, and thus the one of which I'm most afraid: succumb to personal apathy and live out my days as a depressed mediocrity. The contingency of self has always disturbed me. All it takes is one wrong step at the right time to make the difference between overcoming your demons and letting them drag you down into a deep dark hole forever (or a lake). The protagonist of the story had a chance to save himself by saving the depressed kid at the camp, but he turned away because the kid's problems reflected his own and he couldn't face what he saw. So the kid committed suicide, and now the protagonist will spend the rest of his life punishing himself because he knows he doesn't deserve a hand to help him out of the hole, because he didn't offer one to the kid. This dynamic reared it's ugly head time and time again as I was growing up, being bullied, trying to appease bullies, bullying others by proxy: I knew I didn't deserve better because I treated others just as poorly, in an effort to escape those doing the same to me.

That's a really excellent analysis of the story. And "the contingency of self" is a great way to put it.

I loved this story. I think it's one of the best Pseudopod has published this year. It reminds me of "The Body"-era Stephen King. There may be something supernatural going on in the lake (there are hints), but the real horror is the narrator's apathy and denial. His experience at the camp is the turning point in his life. Maybe he would've ended up in the same place even if he had helped the kid, but it seems less likely. It's really frightening how the choices we make in our younger, dumber days can define who we are for the rest of our lives, even once we know better.
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Re: Pseudopod 441: Deep Deep
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2015, 12:36:21 PM »
There was another story here that reminded me of this one.  It was about four men in a pool hall reminiscing about their younger days when they wandered into a wood enclosed by a barbed wire fence.  Inside, they found a cabin filled with terrible, luminescent beings.  It was a turning point for their lives.  I made the comment then, and I think it's applicable to this story as well: the story was essentially an inversion of the natural progression to adulthood.

Anyone remember the name of that story?

As young people, we expect to grow up and for our lot to improve.  We get smarter, stronger, wiser, better financially etc.  In other words, we expect to grow as a human being.  In this story (and the other the name of which I forget) the opposite occurs.  The protagonist becomes weaker, stunted and "shrinks" rather than grows as a human being.

And it could happen to anyone.

Scary.
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Sgarre1

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Re: Pseudopod 441: Deep Deep
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2015, 01:18:53 PM »

Millenium_King

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Re: Pseudopod 441: Deep Deep
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2015, 12:30:18 PM »
Thanks!

Haha - My spotty memory will stump you one of these days!
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Re: Pseudopod 441: Deep Deep
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2015, 03:24:31 PM »
I loved this story. Perfectly captured the "Spooky story to tell around the Campfire" vibe for me. I got chills thinking about a placid calm lake out in the middle of nowhere, and what strange things may be laying in the murky depths.