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Author Topic: Psuedopod 046: The Hanging at Christmas Bridge  (Read 6651 times)

Bdoomed

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on: July 13, 2007, 04:26:25 PM
Psuedopod 046: The Hanging at Christmas Bridge

By David E. Hilton

Read by Ben Phillips

A mosquito bit him promptly on the neck behind his left ear and upon giving it a good smack, George Steckholm realized with utter terror that he simply was not dreaming. He was in his car, in the heart of the night, and he was idling motionless in the middle of the dew-streaked road, idling, idling, in front of Christmas Bridge.

In the cream-colored passenger seat laid an object. One that made him turn away immediately, still half hoping that he’d see Catherine, lying beside him in their bed. The confusion was the worst part, the grogginess, the spinning motion in his head and in his stomach that made him want to both pass out and be sick at the same time.

“No. No . . . I never purchased that. Never bought such a thing. Not at all. Did I?” He whispered everything to himself in a manner that suggested sharp denial. Yet the large bundle of rope remained, sitting there so innocently, but something deep inside George knew better than to believe there was anything innocent about it.



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?


eytanz

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Reply #1 on: July 13, 2007, 06:42:06 PM
This was a good story. It was a fairly "classic" horror story in both structure and execution - but it was very well done.

I especially liked the fact that, until the very end, I couldn't figure out who it was that was going to die - I knew it had to be one of the three characters but all of them were at risk until the end. That kept me interested and genuinely afraid for them, even though the hanging itself was entirely predictable.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2007, 03:42:53 PM by eytanz »



600south

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Reply #2 on: July 14, 2007, 04:02:39 AM
i agree, that was a good one. i always prefer a creepy ghost story (even when there's no ghost) over straight-up gore. this story put a slight shiver up my spine. not a huge shiver, but a few hairs on the back of my head stood up and that's enough.



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Reply #3 on: July 15, 2007, 03:34:31 PM
Great story. I love classic ghost stories like this.



Dex

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Reply #4 on: July 15, 2007, 04:24:22 PM
Good story; well read.  Two hooks would have reeled me in more 1. something showing a stronger bond between the two male characters.  It would have made the ending more powerful.  2. Something kind of motive for the bridge to want to kill people - a backstory - a spurned lover or something.
I hope I didn't miss these points - I was listening as I was in bed.



BSWeichsel

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Reply #5 on: July 17, 2007, 02:28:48 AM
well I like it just being a evil bridge

Since it began, who have you killed? You wouldn't be alive now if you hadn't killed somebody.


eytanz

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Reply #6 on: July 17, 2007, 02:33:59 AM
Yeah, I think this is one of those cases where less is more. I can't see how adding a motive to the bridge would do anything but weaken the story.



Bdoomed

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Reply #7 on: July 17, 2007, 06:28:53 AM
This bridge was built on the bones of 10,000 dead baby native american graves, and its past is also coupled with the terrible murders of 20 mental patients, whos spirits now wreak their crazed vengence upon innocent passerbys.  It is also said that 10 mass murderers held a battle royal on this bridge, yep, and their horrible deeds were imprinted on the very foundation as their spilt blood soaked into the ground.

(dont ask, i was bored)

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


Dex

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Reply #8 on: July 17, 2007, 03:09:09 PM
This bridge was built on the bones of 10,000 dead baby native american graves, and its past is also coupled with the terrible murders of 20 mental patients, whos spirits now wreak their crazed vengence upon innocent passerbys.  It is also said that 10 mass murderers held a battle royal on this bridge, yep, and their horrible deeds were imprinted on the very foundation as their spilt blood soaked into the ground.

(dont ask, i was bored)

I was thinking more along the lines of a young woman marries an 88 year old billionaire and her boyfriend hangs himself from the bridge. 



Thaurismunths

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Reply #9 on: July 25, 2007, 12:12:58 AM
Great story!
I really didn't know how it was going to end, even though I read the first half of the story back during the Flash Fic contest several months ago. I'm glad you guys were able to get it for Pseudopod.

I agree with Dex that I would have liked a little more meat on the relationship between the George and Stanley, and more human interaction between George and his wife. However, I'd have to disagree about the back story on the bridge.
I felt the same way while I was listening to the story. I wanted to know why and how the bridged did what it did, but in the end it's not knowing that makes it scary. Once you know, you can understand, and once you understand something you can deal with it. In this case, you can't deal with this menace, you can only hope you aren't the one it picks.

How do you fight a bully that can un-make history?


Russell Nash

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Reply #10 on: August 11, 2007, 09:09:36 AM
Good ole scary horror.  I liked it.  I spent most of it figuring it had to be the wife who got it.

I wanted to know why and how the bridged did what it did, but in the end it's not knowing that makes it scary. Once you know, you can understand, and once you understand something you can deal with it. In this case, you can't deal with this menace, you can only hope you aren't the one it picks.

Same here.  I wanted to know why, but the why would have killed it.  In a short story like this, and also in most of the long ones, an explanation just would have added a lame factor.  It was much better as a classic McGuffin, just like the case in Ronin or the reason why Jason Bourne has amnesia.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2007, 06:58:54 PM by Russell Nash »



Planish

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Reply #11 on: August 20, 2007, 02:47:22 AM
I think I might be onto something here.
Quote

BEDEVERE: Quiet, quiet. Quiet! There are ways of telling whether she is a witch.
CROWD: Are there? What are they?
BEDEVERE: Tell me, what do you do with witches?
VILLAGER #2: Burn!
CROWD: Burn, burn them up!
BEDEVERE: And what do you burn apart from witches?
VILLAGER #1: More witches!
VILLAGER #2: Wood!
BEDEVERE: So, why do witches burn? [pause]
VILLAGER #3: B--... 'cause they're made of wood...?
BEDEVERE: Good!
CROWD: Oh yeah, yeah...
BEDEVERE: So, how do we tell whether she is made of wood?
VILLAGER #1: Build a bridge out of her.

I'm with Russel in not needing to know the why. That's for longer works.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2007, 02:59:12 AM by Planish »

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wakela

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Reply #12 on: August 22, 2007, 11:37:56 PM
Didn't do it for me.  I think the story in general could have been tighter.  "He fought to banish the thoughts from his conscious mind to the dark recesses of his brain from where thoughts never return."  Or you could say "forget."  I know it's nice to say mundane things in an interesting way, but replacing one word with a dozen seems a bit much.  Also, when an old country boy is telling me about the evil ghost bridge, I would rather not flashback to a guy's wife laughing at him for buying a riding cap.

This got me thinking about the use of details in fiction.  We are always told to put in as much detail as possible.  But it seemed like this story had too much.  I didn't need to hear so much about the type of alcohol they were drinking or what a meticulous man the main character was and how he liked driving.  A few key word choices could have conveyed the same info without needing entire sentences.  On the other hand, the details of the spooky stuff were great and really put me there.

The following is not a criticism of this story, but something I've been thinking about with horror in general.  I don't believe in ghosts at all.  Even people who believe in ghosts acknowledge that many ghost stories are not true and take them with a grain of salt.  But often in horror fiction someone is put in the position of believing or not believing, and the reader always knows that the "right" choice is to believe.  In real life choosing to believe in a ghost story is almost always the wrong choice.  In Christmas Bridge the writer uses the phrase "resists temptation" to refer to the main character not driving down that awesome road, and as a listener I'm supposed to root for the character and hope that he can be strong.  But why should he?  If someone told me about a new horror podcast, but then told me not to listen to it because it's haunted and someone who listened to it killed themselves, that podcast would be the next one I downloaded.  You guys would download it too.  If we were all horror fiction characters, that would be a stupid thing to do, but in real life it's not.  So I feel weird hoping that the main character in Christmas Bridge does the dumb thing and believe in this crazy old guy's ghost story.   Again, this observation happens in a lot of horror stories.  I'm not trying to pick on this one.



robertmarkbram

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Reply #13 on: August 28, 2007, 12:55:55 PM
This is a suitably disturbing and entertaining story. I like the technical points wakela makes about the story. "What are you doing man?? DON'T CROSS THAT BRIDGE! Well.. maybe once, just to see what happens."

Nobody likes to pick at sores, but lots of people do it. This story builds upon that horrid sense of fascination that dares you to peek out from underneath the covers, check behind the door one last time, turn the light out.. drive over that bridge. You know what's coming and relish the anticipation of that scary d'enouement. I greatly enjoyed the story for that sensation.

The end surprised me; I really thought it would be the wife swinging in the breeze and I kept thinking of The Shining all the while listening to Ben Phillips. The twist was poignant, sorrowful; a debt that will never be repaid, just passed on to the next poor soul who commits the sin of morbid curiosity.


DKT

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Reply #14 on: August 28, 2007, 03:37:08 PM
The following is not a criticism of this story, but something I've been thinking about with horror in general.  I don't believe in ghosts at all.  Even people who believe in ghosts acknowledge that many ghost stories are not true and take them with a grain of salt.  But often in horror fiction someone is put in the position of believing or not believing, and the reader always knows that the "right" choice is to believe.  In real life choosing to believe in a ghost story is almost always the wrong choice.  In Christmas Bridge the writer uses the phrase "resists temptation" to refer to the main character not driving down that awesome road, and as a listener I'm supposed to root for the character and hope that he can be strong.  But why should he?  If someone told me about a new horror podcast, but then told me not to listen to it because it's haunted and someone who listened to it killed themselves, that podcast would be the next one I downloaded.  You guys would download it too.  If we were all horror fiction characters, that would be a stupid thing to do, but in real life it's not.  So I feel weird hoping that the main character in Christmas Bridge does the dumb thing and believe in this crazy old guy's ghost story.   Again, this observation happens in a lot of horror stories.  I'm not trying to pick on this one.

I'm not 100% sure because I haven't read it (yet) but I get the idea that Joe Hill's Heart-Shaped Box plays with this some.  I could be totally wrong, though.


Unblinking

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Reply #15 on: October 16, 2009, 08:14:59 PM
I really enjoyed this one, a classic horror tale.  I like that the bridge had no backstory.  It just is.  It's a part of the landscape now, immovable and inevitable. 

I also thought the wife would be the one to hang, and I liked the way it did end.  The best part is that bridge allowing the saving of the protagonist only prolongs it's eternal nature.  With the old dude dead, there's a new young dude to tell everyone about the bridge and what it does to people.  And in the end, I'm certain he'll end by the rope also, it's only a matter of time, at which point he'll pass the torch to his next young predecessor, ad infinitum.



Millenium_King

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Reply #16 on: August 11, 2010, 10:18:41 PM
A pretty good story.  I liked it, but didn't love it.  It was overwritten in some places and, for the most part was fairly predictable.  A good story, worth the listen - but not one of the top ones here.

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