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Author Topic: Pseudopod 448: Laal Aandhi  (Read 2901 times)


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on: July 24, 2015, 05:13:26 PM
Pseudopod 448: Laal Aandhi

by Usman T. Malik

“Laal Aandhi” first appeared in the shared world anthology TRUTH OR DARE, edited by Max Booth III, from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. “Growing up in Pakistan, I heard stories of ‘missing people’ often showing up in gunny sacks. A friend of mine from Karachi told me how he once stumbled upon a gunny sack with a dead boy inside. I suppose this story stems from his experience and my fears.”

USMAN T. MALIK is a Pakistani vagrant camped in Florida. He reads Sufi poetry, likes long walks, and occasionally strums naats on the guitar. His work has been nominated for the Nebula award, and is forthcoming in the Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Year’s Best Weird Fiction,, and other venues. He is a graduate of Clarion West. His website is HERE.

Your narrator – Kaushik Narasimhan – is a management consultant by day, unpublished struggling writer by night. He tweets at @kazarelth.

“Saleem, Wasif, Ali Malik, and I. Always the four of us banded together against the uncertainties of a city running on trepidation. In this season of yoking and yearning, of bereavement and besetment, we started doing the thing we did, for with fear and death and sulfur in the air who would stop us? Who would point and say, Watch it, children, you must survive your age. Must get through one hell to enter another.

‘85 was the year of army generals and feudal lords touring their fiefdoms grandly while the populace died thrashing in gutters from starvation and heat and Hadood Law amputations. Of VIP villas and ruined shanties, bright-tiled facades and haunted houses, ‘police encounters’ and prison suicides, and insurgent bomb attacks.

Most of all, though, it was the summer we went to Bad Bricks during a laal andhi.”

Listen to this week's Pseudopod.

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Reply #1 on: July 27, 2015, 01:27:42 AM
This story was the first time in a long time that I had a physical reaction to a story. Most of the time I listen and am mentally present, realising this should be tense or that part is frightening. But in the basement my pulse quickened,  my breath rate increased, and I got the over all feeling of "...dear God what is that thing..." well done. I loved it.


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Reply #2 on: July 27, 2015, 04:30:50 PM
Creepy, moody, effective.  I had never heard of the bodies showing up gunny sacks but with or without that knowledge that is a freaky image--the squirming sack dripping blood.


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Reply #3 on: July 27, 2015, 07:08:14 PM
I love the way this story so effectively drives the line between the human horror, the stuff the kids live with every day, and the inhuman horror, that which cannot be explained and truly haunts them. The fact that the story makes such a good differentiation between the things humans are used to but perhaps shouldn't be and that which they cannot get used to adds such a degree of realism to the tale.


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Reply #4 on: August 03, 2015, 02:25:05 PM
Great story. The setting threw me a little to begin with, but I was soon fully engaged. The fantastic part of was that up until the very end, I felt like it was going to be the horror of real life, which I found wonderfully effective! But it made that moment when everything changed even more horrifying. The way the story was set up made it impossible to see the actual monster coming, but the great thing was the way that the monster represented much more than a ghoul in the dark. You felt it approaching, all the horrible things kept building up until Wham.


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Reply #5 on: August 06, 2015, 06:03:44 PM
I struggled with this one.  I think I was 20 minutes in or so when I sort of faded out.  It was so slow to get started, that I never really got hooked or interested in the story.  Characters felt a little flat too.

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Reply #6 on: August 09, 2015, 03:14:44 AM
I too couldnt get into it. I'm sure it was thoroughly creepy but after about three times trying to pay attention I still have no concept of anything that happened.


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Reply #7 on: August 13, 2015, 12:24:58 AM
I liked the atmosphere, but felt like the diversions at various points in the story did make it hard to stay involved in it.

Unfortunately, it seems gunny sack packed corpses are still found in Lahore to this day, though it's not as common there as in other cities in the region:
« Last Edit: August 13, 2015, 12:27:04 AM by Metalsludge »


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Reply #8 on: August 13, 2015, 01:16:23 AM
Something that really impressed me with this one is how some of the trappings are of an urban legend and some are of jhorror. It maintains the pacing of an urban legend with sweeping prose. The ghosts in the cellar had a jhorror feel. All these elements were blended together to create a transcendent something else. Great stuff.

On my next listen of this one, I will have to decide whether the one boy was throwing the rock at his father in the sack, or whether it was part of his coping with the cruelty of the criminal underground in the city.

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


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Reply #9 on: August 21, 2015, 10:38:43 PM
Amazing.  One of my favorites, period.  And a nice surprise, too; I did not recognize the term used as the title and so my expectations were nearly entirely blank for this one.  Now that I know what the word refers to, I find it deeply evocative.

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