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Author Topic: Pseudopod 048: The Disciple  (Read 25358 times)

Bdoomed

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on: July 27, 2007, 08:21:24 PM
Pseudopod 048: The Disciple


By David Barr Kirtley
Read by Matthew Wayne Selznick

Professor Carlton Brose was evil, and I adored him as only a freshman can. I spent the first miserable semester at college watching him, studying the way he would flick away a cigarette butt, or how he would arch his eyebrow when he made a point. I mimicked these small things compulsively. I don’t know why, because it wasn’t the small things that drew me to him at all. It was the big things, the stories people told as far away as dear old Carolina.

You heard the name Brose if you ran with any cults, and I ran with a few. Society rejected us, so we rejected them. The more things you give up, the less there is to bind your will. There’s power there. We were sure of it. But that power was damned elusive.



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 28, 2007, 10:57:52 PM
This was a good story. I liked the premise - of the course being a trap for the power-hungry - a lot.

I'm not entirely sure how effective it would be, though. I mean, I can see what the appeal was for the narrator, and for anyone else like him who is really attention-seeking. And once someone is in the course, I can see how they can be talked into the binding. But for someone who wants power in order to dominate others, why would they even agree to join a course where none of the students were ever heard of again? If I was going to evil wizard school, I'd want to go to the one which has the most alumni that are still talked about only in scared whispers.

But then, I would never drown a mouse, so maybe I just don't understand.



goatkeeper

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Reply #2 on: July 29, 2007, 04:13:46 AM
Generally, in the cthulhu mythos stories I've read, you arn't really supposed to know exactly what happens to the people in the cult when they vanish or apotheosize or whatever- just like you arn't supposed to really be able to wrap your head around the hugeness of the massive evil involved. 
I thought the story was very effective in the Lovecraftian sense until he said the students were dying...and I was like, "what?  we don't know that for sure!"



oddpod

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Reply #3 on: July 29, 2007, 08:46:17 AM
tiz a  potter/lovecraft mashup!
i like it


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eytanz

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Reply #4 on: July 29, 2007, 10:13:01 AM

I thought the story was very effective in the Lovecraftian sense until he said the students were dying...and I was like, "what?  we don't know that for sure!"

True, but I'm not sure we need to accept him at face value here - this is not a guy with particularly great insight, he's just a guy with better-than-average self-preservation instincts for a cult member. He might be jumping to conclusions here.



Grape Old One

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Reply #5 on: July 29, 2007, 10:29:16 PM
I liked that in New England, evil cultists are just something that needs to be kept in check.  I love modern takes on the mythos, this and Akropolis are two of my favorites on pseudopod. 



goatkeeper

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Reply #6 on: July 29, 2007, 11:39:46 PM
I liked that in New England, evil cultists are just something that needs to be kept in check.  I love modern takes on the mythos, this and Akropolis are two of my favorites on pseudopod. 

Haha ya, I liked that too.



Leon Kensington

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Reply #7 on: July 30, 2007, 02:58:39 PM
That was the greatest PP yet.  Lovecraftian and twisted.  Perfect.



Listener

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Reply #8 on: July 31, 2007, 12:57:05 PM
I didn't really care for this story.  Technically I found it sound, and the acting was good, but I have some picks about the story.

First of all, I didn't feel like I got a good enough window into the main character to establish why I should care about him.  So he knows about cults and idolizes this Brose guy.  So what?  What makes him special enough for me to care about his existence?  Toward the end he redeemed himself, and I liked how he became Brose's replacement, but I never really felt strongly enough about him as a character.

Secondly, while I know cruelty to animals is an easy way to establish someone as being evil, I don't really like reading it, not on a personal level.  It just turns me off.  Some people hate certain words, some people won't read a story if it deals with certain topics.  If I had known there would be a crucified cat, I might not have listened to the story at all.

Thirdly, Adrian was a useful character, but the fact that he fell to the floor, whimpering, when the monster entered his dreams, and yet the main character only was slightly disturbed... I don't think I felt the true horror of it.  It's like the main character had too easy a time of things because he wasn't as good at this stuff as he wanted to be.

So, in short, I didn't really like it that much.  Maybe it's because I don't have a good-enough grounding in Cthulhu lore to really grok the story.

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goatkeeper

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Reply #9 on: July 31, 2007, 04:36:28 PM
I agree with you absolutely on the crucified cat- I know we are supposed to expect gritty things from Pseudo, but it might be nice to throw up more pre-episode warnings like escapepod does. 

As for the story,- since the main character was in first person it felt less like the strategy was to make us care about him, but more to make us feel like him.  He's insecure about something that he wants to excell at,  he's surrounded by and intimidated by other people who are better at that thing, etc.  There's not that much character development true- but I didn't personally feel like there needed to be.
The author spends most of the time building up Brose's character as one creepy mofo.

I don't think you have to be grounded in the Lovecraftian stuff- I tend to get frustrated by some of the things in this style too.  This story was good but far from the greatest PP yet.  Bagman still has that title in my opinion. ;-)



Leon Kensington

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Reply #10 on: July 31, 2007, 05:15:05 PM
On the crucified cat:

I think it shows the darkness of what they were doing.  Yes, it was disturbing but that is what it and PP as whole is supposed to be.  Is it worse than a serial killer that can rip off her skin?  Visually, I think not.  But, we have an emotional connection to animals and that is what is shown.  I am far from a cat lover, but I still found myself disturbed as much if not more than the author wanted me to be.  Do I think it needed a warning?  No, this is PP we should expect stuff like that.  Does Infection give a warning about burning genitalia or chicken scissors?  No, because it is explicit and that is something that is there.  If you don't like it fine, fast forward a little.  That doesn't make it a bad story, just good character developement.



goatkeeper

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Reply #11 on: July 31, 2007, 07:41:50 PM
Well, I agree with you mostly.  My first response to your comment was going to be something like "Putting up a warning isn't a big deal, you might as well- what can it hurt?"
Then I realized I might not have listened to the story if it said "Warning, this story has instances of severe and graphic animal brutality"- and then I would have missed what was overall a great story. 
So now I'm not sure how I feel about it.
I don't think anyone has stated that it made it a bad story- certainly it added to the darkness of the piece as you say- but I think most people have a line that they don't really want crossed.  Obviously that line differs between people and that's what makes it difficult.  Pseudopod has warned listeners in the past when instances of rape or molestation are involved if I remember correctly.  I think many would argue that animal mutilation should be content that at least deserves consideration for a little warning blurb.  It's nice to at least be given the option of not being profoundly disturbed if you like only being moderately disturbed every week by PP. 

As for Infection- Sigler knows he's a sick bastard- I feel like he does a great job of letting people know exactly what they are getting themselves into every episode.  I would almost be disapointed if he didn't have an occasional genital flambeau.



Jim

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Reply #12 on: August 01, 2007, 01:19:44 AM
This story kept my interest throughout.

Well-paced and intriguing, with the kind of nod to Lovecraft that is bound to dig under my skin and stay there.

Stephen King once wrote that contemporary horror authors ought to forget Poe and forget Lovecraft. Well, maybe they should if they're writing novels about crazed versions of their own fans smashing their feet up with sledgehammers, but I'll take this kind updated take on unearthly supernatural horror any day, especially in short form.

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DKT

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Reply #13 on: August 01, 2007, 03:16:23 PM
I thought this story worked very well.  The pacing was excellent and it didn't go on to long.  Good twist at the end, too. 

The cat crucifixion was sick but it served its purpose.  I don't think it was any sicker than some of the other stuff I've heard on Pseudopod.


eytanz

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Reply #14 on: August 01, 2007, 04:16:39 PM
I was not particularly bothered by the cat crucifixion - well, the concept bothered me, but the description was not graphic enough to really disturb me. For one, the actul crucifixion is not described, only its aftermath, though that was quite unpleasant as well.



sirana

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Reply #15 on: August 01, 2007, 04:30:47 PM
First of all, I didn't feel like I got a good enough window into the main character to establish why I should care about him.  So he knows about cults and idolizes this Brose guy.  So what?  What makes him special enough for me to care about his existence?  Toward the end he redeemed himself, and I liked how he became Brose's replacement, but I never really felt strongly enough about him as a character.

I share Listeners sentiment on the main character. It's not the fact that he is not a nice hero, I like having evil heroes. But this one left me pretty cold. A little more motivation than "I want to be the best disciple" would have done the story a lot of good.
And I think it's a bit of a stretch to say he redeemed himself. He didn't recognize the evilness of his actions or of Brose, he just didn't want to be "another fly".
The fact that he accepted Brose's position afterwards isn't explained satisfactory, it looks like he just took the path of least resistance after he killed Brose.

All in all it was still an entertaining story and I loved the Lovecraft of it.

Hehe... get it?... loved the Lovecraft.... loved the... hehe... get it?...
...
Ok. I'll stop doing that now.


Anyways it was a fun story, but without a hero you can relate to it fell pretty flat for me.



mwsmedia

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Reply #16 on: August 02, 2007, 04:16:56 PM
Funny... folks got upset about the crucifixion of the cat, but no one blinked an eye that two mice were drowned -- one very graphically.

That says something about people... what if the mouse had been crucified?  What if it had been a cockroach?  A human baby?

Interesting.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun reading this one!

Matthew Wayne Selznick
Creator


oddpod

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Reply #17 on: August 04, 2007, 06:47:11 AM
i have to say i am a bit puzzled buy the fuss about the cat.
we have had equally nasty thing happen to human, some times  children in the past and know one bated an eye.

it reminds me of something that hapend to a buddy of mine lately. he works as a ligting/sound engineer and DJ at a local student uni venue. so the guy has bean putting all sorts on the big video wall, clips from clockwork orange and itchi the killer feature Farly regularly he is always looking for something nasty to stick up there just to see what he can get away with, a question he soon has anserd

 one night he ads a vid clip from youtube to the mix,the clip in question is a bare falling out of a tree on to a trampoline  which flips the creature back in to the air and on to the road, its the kind of daft clip you get on "worlds stupidest people who rescue bares from trees"

for this clip he had a disciplinary hearing and almost lost his job.

its just a bit weird


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goatkeeper

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Reply #18 on: August 04, 2007, 11:28:32 PM
No fuss, just two people commenting that they personally don't like reading about it.



Listener

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Reply #19 on: August 06, 2007, 04:43:12 PM
i have to say i am a bit puzzled buy the fuss about the cat.
we have had equally nasty thing happen to human, some times  children in the past and know one bated an eye.

it reminds me of something that hapend to a buddy of mine lately. he works as a ligting/sound engineer and DJ at a local student uni venue. so the guy has bean putting all sorts on the big video wall, clips from clockwork orange and itchi the killer feature Farly regularly he is always looking for something nasty to stick up there just to see what he can get away with, a question he soon has anserd

 one night he ads a vid clip from youtube to the mix,the clip in question is a bare falling out of a tree on to a trampoline  which flips the creature back in to the air and on to the road, its the kind of daft clip you get on "worlds stupidest people who rescue bares from trees"

for this clip he had a disciplinary hearing and almost lost his job.

its just a bit weird




(This is offtopic so if it's deleted or moved I understand.)

As you probably know, the Mike Vick thing with dogfighting is still going on, and it is HUGE in Atlanta.  On my station's d-boards, there's an insane amount of outcry.  People are always asking "well, what if this was a person/child who'd been forced to fight?" and everyone responds "yeah but it's not, but if it was we'd be just as outraged".

But our d-boards about stuff happening to kids are never as well-traveled as the ones about animals.

I don't know what it is.  People just love animals and get more vehement about them.  My guess is that it's because animals can't speak, while humans can (in most cases).

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Russell Nash

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Reply #20 on: August 12, 2007, 03:48:49 PM
(This is offtopic so if it's deleted or moved I understand.)

As you probably know, the Mike Vick thing with dogfighting is still going on, and it is HUGE in Atlanta.  On my station's d-boards, there's an insane amount of outcry.  People are always asking "well, what if this was a person/child who'd been forced to fight?" and everyone responds "yeah but it's not, but if it was we'd be just as outraged".

But our d-boards about stuff happening to kids are never as well-traveled as the ones about animals.

I don't know what it is.  People just love animals and get more vehement about them.  My guess is that it's because animals can't speak, while humans can (in most cases).

(further off topic)

I think if Vick was raising children to battle to their deaths in Gladiator rings, people would flip even worse.

As far as a warning goes, it exists already.

Quote from: pseudopod homepage
WARNING: This is a podcast of horror fiction. The stories presented here are intended to disturb you. They are likely to contain death, graphic violence, explicit sex (including sexual violence), hate crimes, blasphemy, or other themes and images that hook deep into your psyche. We do not provide ratings or content warnings for specific stories. We assume by your listening that you wish to be disturbed for your entertainment. If there are any themes that you cannot deal with in fiction, that are too strongly personal to you, please do not listen.

Pseudopod is for mature audiences only. Hardly any story on Pseudopod is suitable for children. We mean this very seriously.

If Pseudopod isn't making you feel disturbed one week, I call the story a failure or at least not completely successful.



Leon Kensington

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Reply #21 on: August 14, 2007, 04:39:25 AM
I gotta agree with Nash on that.



Russell Nash

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Reply #22 on: August 14, 2007, 10:28:10 AM
I gotta agree with Nash on that.

I love it when people agree with me.  Do you agree with everything I wrote. ;D  Or just one of the things I wrote.  Please be specific, so I know what to gloat over. ;D



wakela

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Reply #23 on: September 05, 2007, 01:43:38 AM
I got thinking about the animal cruelty issue from another direction.  I found it telling that we live in an age when killing a mouse is a test of evilness.  I've put rat poison down in my apartment, can I become an evil sorcerer?



robertmarkbram

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Reply #24 on: September 06, 2007, 01:03:02 AM
We had that course at my university, Monash. I couldn't get in because my ENTER score was too low. Lately it has been filling up with emo kids, so maybe I could try again. Do you know if it is offered as a distance education subject?

I wanted to know, what was Brose? When he got his head caved in, it seemed like he was just a shell. Is the same thing going to happen to our protagonist?

I enjoyed the Cthulu horror in this story, but I found it a little far-fetched that it was so relatively open. Personally, if I was a university administrator, I would think twice about letting a subject continue when the final exam results in every student disappearing.