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Author Topic: Pseudopod 483: Jenny (A Fairytale)  (Read 3942 times)

Bdoomed

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on: March 26, 2016, 11:03:07 PM
Pseudopod 483: Jenny (A Fairytale)

by Michael Byrne.

Jenny (A Fairytale)” has only been published on my own blog (Static Culture) and fewer people than I realised (when sent out to critique) are aware of the legend of ‘Jenny Greenteeth’ . I am unsure whether giving some intro into the legend will lessen the story or accentuate it but for reference ‘Jenny Greenteeth’ is a Lancashire legend of a river hag who would eat children. The below website offer a nice brief description: Fairyist: Jenny Greenteeth.

MICHAEL BYRNE a London based Writer/ Film Maker originally from Rochdale in Lancashire. He writes for his own blog, Static Culture and is currently seeking representation. He says he never truly sets out to write dark or subversive stories but for whatever reason they usually end up that way. His previous work, ‘Gast’, received wonderful reviews from readers of Scribble Magazine, coming second in their quarterly competition. ‘Gast’ can also be found at Static Culture. His film work people can be viewed at Cracked Films.

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In the past she had had many names, each one having evolved into legend and folklore, each a variation on a theme of children keeping away from the water’s edge. For the most part the stories’ graphic content seemed to work but there were always one or two younglings that would wander too far, out of bravado or curiosity, to the edge of their known world. Over the years she had noted how the bravery and stupidity of humans skated a fine line and that children seemed inherently prone to both attributes. Waltzing jovially into her watery embrace, unknowingly of course until the last moment. Never seeing her glide under the still waters without making a ripple. Black shark eyes absorbing every movement above the water until, in an explosion of sound she would berth, clasping her leathery reed-encumbered arms around her prey and pulling them effortlessly below. Families would search, siblings would scream, mothers would weep. So it was for centuries that the children of the upper world would become unwilling food for the preternatural. It was a gruesome system but a system none the less. Then the industrial revolution conquered the minds of man and development slowly began to leak its influence into the world. The pond became a functional device for a red keep of steam and smog, the inhabitants of the town growing in number and brood, encroaching ever closer to her domain. With five or six litters per homestead, it was expected that some could not return from their labour at the mill, their unwilling sacrifice keeping her belly full. These golden days were short lived however, a century of feasting slowing down to feeds twice or so a week. But her appetite was a patient one, being able to go weeks without food like a snake or a scorpion in torpor. Still they would come, alone or in cavorting pairs; the missing posters of yesterday littering the park with saturnine confetti that they failed to take heed of. So it was that times changed and thus she changed with them. The world adapted and she in turn adapted her hunt…




Listen to this week's Pseudopod.

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Unblinking

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Reply #1 on: March 30, 2016, 01:35:29 PM
What a way to go, choking on a pedophile!  (OK, not literally, but "starving because you find the taste of pedophile unpalatable" doesn't have the same ring)

This one was generally good, I liked the classical monster perspective on reality especially in reference to the lanterns that are also reflecting pools. 

The part where it got a little shaky for me was the immediacy with which the lure worked to draw the man to her.  I hadn't thought she had even given directions on how to find her before the phone cut off, and how would one even give directions to a swamp in a way that would actually be followed by anyone?  "Hi, I'm a 1'm a 13-year old girl, I'd love to meet, follow 13th street until it dead ends, and then keep on going into the creepy swamp.  You'll know you're in the right place because a monster will try to eat you."  Any kind of meaningful directions would not only be weird and unlikely to be followed but also would be dependent on knowledge about the out-of-swamp world that Jenny doesn't seem to have.  And even that would be dependent on the man living nearby enough that visiting the swamp was a real possibility.

Maybe there were some important details that I missed that made that visit more plausible but from the cutoff of the chat conversation I was expecting it to end with a visit anticipated but not happening because of these reasons.






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Reply #2 on: April 01, 2016, 12:34:26 PM
I thought this was an interesting take on an old legend. That being said, what almost made this impossible to listen to was the high pitch note in the back ground. That was like nails on a chalk board the whole time.



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #3 on: April 02, 2016, 12:26:37 AM

The part where it got a little shaky for me was the immediacy with which the lure worked to draw the man to her.  I hadn't thought she had even given directions on how to find her before the phone cut off, and how would one even give directions to a swamp in a way that would actually be followed by anyone?  "Hi, I'm a 1'm a 13-year old girl, I'd love to meet, follow 13th street until it dead ends, and then keep on going into the creepy swamp.  You'll know you're in the right place because a monster will try to eat you."  Any kind of meaningful directions would not only be weird and unlikely to be followed but also would be dependent on knowledge about the out-of-swamp world that Jenny doesn't seem to have.  And even that would be dependent on the man living nearby enough that visiting the swamp was a real possibility.


I could be wrong, but I thought I heard her say "meet me at the millpond" (well established as a feature in the town) before the phone died, and in their conversation prior, he had volunteered that he lived in the town.


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TrishEM

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Reply #4 on: April 02, 2016, 09:59:59 AM

The part where it got a little shaky for me was the immediacy with which the lure worked to draw the man to her.  I hadn't thought she had even given directions on how to find her before the phone cut off, and how would one even give directions to a swamp in a way that would actually be followed by anyone?  "Hi, I'm a 1'm a 13-year old girl, I'd love to meet, follow 13th street until it dead ends, and then keep on going into the creepy swamp.  You'll know you're in the right place because a monster will try to eat you."  Any kind of meaningful directions would not only be weird and unlikely to be followed but also would be dependent on knowledge about the out-of-swamp world that Jenny doesn't seem to have.  And even that would be dependent on the man living nearby enough that visiting the swamp was a real possibility.


I could be wrong, but I thought I heard her say "meet me at the millpond" (well established as a feature in the town) before the phone died, and in their conversation prior, he had volunteered that he lived in the town.


I'm sure she said to meet her at the millpond, and I think what's-his-name had said he lived a couple of towns over, so he probably would have been able to find the place.

By the way, I've definitely heard of Jenny Greenteeth before now, from at least two sources. I'm pretty sure they were both urban/modern fantasy. I think one of them mentioned her as belonging to the Unseelie Court or Winter Court of Faery, but the other treated her as more of a semi-dangerous naiad/nature spirit, unaffiliated with anything else. Over here in coastal North Carolina, U.S.A., I guess I'd tend to think of Jenny as rather like an alligator: dangerous if you're ignorant enough to get close, but not really innately evil -- scary but not soul-corrupting.

Like Unblinking, I liked the monster's perception of lanterns that were reflecting pools (which turned out to be smartphones), and also her speculation that people put their souls into them and carried them around with them now, instead of having their souls inside themselves. Very interesting!

The bit where she was trying to converse with people in the chatroom, and then parroted lines back in the private messages (I'm 13 too) to try to seem more human-normal, reminded me slightly of a recent Escape Pod, "Myspace: A Ghost Story," although in that case it was an AI.

I was relieved at how the story ended, because for a while, I was afraid Jenny was going to team up with the pedophile, or at least learn more from him (before killing him) about how to use technology to lure children.

In general, I liked this story quite a lot. Beyond the clever concepts already mentioned, I liked the explanation of how Jenny had adapted patiently through time, before the changes were just too much for her; the writing let me really sink into her viewpoint. I liked the pacing and the buildup, and although the ultimate ending surprised me, it felt right.



adrianh

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Reply #5 on: April 02, 2016, 05:32:17 PM
I'm afraid this one didn't quite work for me. As soon as the "lanterns" appeared I was waiting for the phone-as-lure to arrive. As soon as the faceless-texting-teen appeared I was waiting for the pedophile to arrive. Possibly I've been reading too much flash fiction recently, but it felt like this would have kept my attention more if it had been quite a bit shorter.

Although I'm very impressed by the two month plus battery life of the phone. Especially after being immersed in water!



Tango Alpha Delta

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Reply #6 on: April 03, 2016, 07:04:59 PM

Although I'm very impressed by the two month plus battery life of the phone. Especially after being immersed in water!


That would seem to weigh on the "fantasy" side of the spectrum, as opposed to "hard SF".  8)

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Reply #7 on: April 04, 2016, 06:22:43 AM
This was very entertaining, but I'm afraid the first 10 minutes or so of the iTunes version are nearly impossible to hear...  The story is overlapped by a bunch of opening and ending dialogues.  I wasn't sure where else to mention this, forgive me if this is the wrong place.



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Reply #8 on: April 04, 2016, 11:57:32 AM
This was very entertaining, but I'm afraid the first 10 minutes or so of the iTunes version are nearly impossible to hear...  The story is overlapped by a bunch of opening and ending dialogues.  I wasn't sure where else to mention this, forgive me if this is the wrong place.

Delete the file and refresh the podcast feed to redownload. The error has been fixed and a corrected file uploaded.

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


Unblinking

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Reply #9 on: April 04, 2016, 02:24:47 PM
I could be wrong, but I thought I heard her say "meet me at the millpond" (well established as a feature in the town) before the phone died, and in their conversation prior, he had volunteered that he lived in the town.

But... how does she know what town she lives near if she never leaves the pond?  I don't think she knows what nation she lives in, nor what town she lives nearby, nor any other point of reference besides "meet me at the pond" which could be millions of locations across the globe.  When she lives only in the pond and he lives only not in the pond, it seems a stretch that they would share enough common reference to direct him to there with only the knowledge she has from living in the pond.

Anyway, I think it worked well enough, but that was my one sticking point.



Frank Evans

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Reply #10 on: April 07, 2016, 01:57:49 AM
Nice story. For some reason the phone battery life thing really bugged me. Too unbelievable. Ancient monster that lives in a pond in a town eating kids for centuries and somehow never being discovered? Sure! Smartphone that keeps a charge for more than 24 hours? I'm out, apparently.

On another note, was anyone else hoping the story would end with Jenny getting smashed in the face with an iron frying pan by Tiffany Aching? (If you haven't read Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series that will make very little sense).



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Reply #11 on: April 13, 2016, 07:17:00 AM
The battery lasts for the same reason that there's never a cell signal in horror films, I suppose? Suspension of disbelief is key, especially in this wonderfully irrational genre. Horror makes us think about what scares us and why. Up here in the US NW Jenny Greenteeth is the Basket Woman of native lore, who will sweep children away from the beach and devour them. A great contemporary spin on a universal cautionary tale. Well done. Thanks!



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Reply #12 on: September 24, 2016, 03:29:43 AM
Nice little article about the origins of Jenny Greenteeth: http://www.christopherfowler.co.uk/blog/2016/08/11/the-legend-of-jenny-green-teeth/

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Reply #13 on: December 14, 2019, 02:43:01 PM
The pilot episode of To Catch a River Hag ends in tragedy for Chris Hansen.

The ending was a little predictable, but the concept was clever and the narration was good.



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