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Author Topic: Pseudopod 049: Big Boy  (Read 11090 times)
Bdoomed
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« on: August 04, 2007, 01:27:04 PM »

Pseudopod 049: Big Boy


By Ron McGillvray
Read by David Moore

Peter finally came across a channel which had a video of the smoke he’d seen, rising in the air. He looked at the TV screen in wonder as flames shot out from within the smoke. Must be a doozy, he thought as he stood mesmerized in front of the TV.

A young woman appeared on the screen with the smoke as her backdrop. She held a microphone and seemed about to speak but instead looked back at the fire as if it might be sneaking up on her. Peter thought to himself what a cool job that must be. He thought that maybe it might be something he’d like to do when he got older. He looked over his shoulder to see if any of the kids had decided to follow him in but the coast was clear.

“From where I’m standing, I can easily feel the heat of the fire,” a woman’s voice said.



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2007, 12:07:25 AM »

ZOMBIES!
The only real thing that bothered me with this story is that the 9 year old kid seemed a bit too grown up.  Sure the story is called Big Boy, but he handles the situation more maturely than most of the adults.  A 9 year old kid would be absolutely terrified and crying and not thinking clearly, etc.

That aside, the story DID have a great point of view.  The situation was revealed very well from the kid's point of view.  The lack of awareness and understanding, especially about his mother cheating on his father, was great.  I feel bad for the guy, 9 years old and already seen more gore than most people see in their entire lives.
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eytanz
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« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2007, 07:21:26 AM »

ZOMBIES!
The only real thing that bothered me with this story is that the 9 year old kid seemed a bit too grown up.  Sure the story is called Big Boy, but he handles the situation more maturely than most of the adults.  A 9 year old kid would be absolutely terrified and crying and not thinking clearly, etc.

I think there's a lot of variation among 9-year olds in the level of maturity - the childishness of the stereotypical kid of that age is a privelage of affluent Western societies, not a fact of human nature. There are parts of the world where 9-year olds are working 14 hour days. Now, the protagonist is clearly from somewhere where that's not true, but at the same time, it's pretty clear he had a rough home life and got little daily attention from his parents. He may well have matured faster than most of his surroundings. Of course, that doesn't fit in very well with being put in day care, but it was clear that was just his mother's method of getting him out of her way.

Quote
That aside, the story DID have a great point of view.  The situation was revealed very well from the kid's point of view.  The lack of awareness and understanding, especially about his mother cheating on his father, was great.  I feel bad for the guy, 9 years old and already seen more gore than most people see in their entire lives.

I really liked these aspects of the story as well. It was very well done.

My only problem is that I think I'm past my saturation point for zombie-style stories at this point. This story found a great way to put a new face on an old tale... But it was still the same old tale.
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Leon Kensington
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« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2007, 11:37:00 AM »

I found it very reminiscent of Stephen King's Cell.  Good story with a great open end to it, and there are zombies.  How can you go wrong with zombies?
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Thaurismunths
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« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2007, 12:25:42 PM »

YEAY ZOMBIES!!!!

What a great way to run a story: From a child's point of view!

Cool story, nicely read.
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« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2007, 08:06:46 PM »

With a handful of minor changes this could be a chapter out of 28 Days Later.

Not that I mind, though, I enjoy that sort of thing.

I was railing against the author for leaving the ending up in the air like that, but after a few moments I realized that was as good a place to end it as any. I can't imagine the story portraying any kind of safe, friendly ending without resorting to sappiness. Let the listener decide how the story goes.

"Must... destroy... mankind..." BEEP BEEP "Ooh, lunchtime!"
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« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2007, 11:18:39 PM »

This was easily one of my favorite stories. If anything, because of how well the tension built throughout. By the end I was almost looking over my shoulder for the "crazy people".
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« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2007, 08:29:52 AM »

I think this story was quite well-done.  As in the phone call scene in "Rosemary's Baby", so too the Mrs Carmichael on the phone scene in this story.  With the title, I wasn't expecting zombies, but hey, there they were!

The parental infidelity in this story was handled MUCH better than the abusive father in "The House Beyond Your Sky" -- that's the first thing I thought of when I heard that part.

The reader's best voice was Mrs Carmichael, who sounded a hell of a lot like Rick Moranis in "Ghostbusters II".

If there was anything I didn't like, it was this:

1.  Where did the zombies come from?  Why?
2.  The lady-or-the-tiger ending... what happens?  I felt that, in this story, the fact that there was no closure -- did Dad and Aunt Sarah become zombies or didn't they? -- weakened it a bit.  I kept looking at my iPod, at the time-remaining indicator, and wondering how it was going to be wrapped up.

Otherwise, a good PP.  I approve.
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Bdoomed
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« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2007, 10:40:32 AM »

1.  Where did the zombies come from?  Why?
2.  The lady-or-the-tiger ending... what happens?  I felt that, in this story, the fact that there was no closure -- did Dad and Aunt Sarah become zombies or didn't they? -- weakened it a bit.  I kept looking at my iPod, at the time-remaining indicator, and wondering how it was going to be wrapped up.
1. this story doesnt ask "where did the zombies come from and why" because its told from a child's pov.  The kid just thinks that people are crazy, he doesnt think "zombies"
but i think the zombie outbreak might have something to do with the science facility that exploded in the beginning. could have sent out a virus/poison substance that they were working on.
2.  not giving closure adds more suspense/thrill to the story.  Did the dad shoot the zombie old guy in the house? did he see his wife like that and shoot her dead body? did he kill himself out of grief?  we'll never know, but thats the scary part!
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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2007, 11:26:27 AM »

I kept looking at my iPod, at the time-remaining indicator, and wondering how it was going to be wrapped up.

Ha, me too!

I'm glad to read that I'm not the only one who does stuff like that!
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eytanz
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« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2007, 02:53:55 PM »

1.  Where did the zombies come from?  Why?
2.  The lady-or-the-tiger ending... what happens?  I felt that, in this story, the fact that there was no closure -- did Dad and Aunt Sarah become zombies or didn't they? -- weakened it a bit.  I kept looking at my iPod, at the time-remaining indicator, and wondering how it was going to be wrapped up.
1. this story doesnt ask "where did the zombies come from and why" because its told from a child's pov.  The kid just thinks that people are crazy, he doesnt think "zombies"
but i think the zombie outbreak might have something to do with the science facility that exploded in the beginning. could have sent out a virus/poison substance that they were working on.

I think it was heavily implied by the scene on TV where the firefighters who had rushed into the facility returned as zombies - there seemed to be a definite correlation, at least in the beginning, between being in/near the facility and being a zombie. It didn't seem to be a "the dead are rising" thing, but rather a "the living are going mad".

Quote
2.  not giving closure adds more suspense/thrill to the story.  Did the dad shoot the zombie old guy in the house? did he see his wife like that and shoot her dead body? did he kill himself out of grief?  we'll never know, but thats the scary part!

I liked the open ending too - for me, the choices were - did the zombie get dad/aunt before they shot it, or not? I sort of figured it's an unhappy ending, but I like the fact that there's a chance that the dad and aunt are ok and that they can get away.
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DKT
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« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2007, 02:57:51 PM »

I was a bit worried about this one, mostly because I felt like I've heard a lot about zombies here.  But I was pleasantly surprised -- it was an excellent story and hearing it from the kid's POV was an interesting take.  I also really liked the ending.  I was hoping the dad would show up to run the zombies down, I couldn't see any other way out of that.  For me, the way the story finished with them waiting in the car, had the perfect sense of uneasiness and tension for this story's end.
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goatkeeper
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« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2007, 03:57:45 PM »

There's nothing scarier than having to wait around some place while unexplained scary crap is happening all around.  Whether you're having to wait at daycare, under the porch, in the car- the uneasy helplessness that comes from not being able to do anything- I thought the author did a great job of bringing that out.
The beginning reminded me of watching TV during 9/11-the explosions, the smoke, not being able to do anything and not knowing details... I was very gripped during this entire episode.

One of my fav PP's
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« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2007, 06:10:20 PM »

At first I was unsure about this story.  I'm generally not fond of stories told from a kid's POV, but this kid reminded me a bit of myself as a kid, so I got into it pretty early on.  The horror comes on nice and slow, slow enough that for a while I was wondering how this story ended up on Pseudopod.  And the ending - I loved the ending.  I get to decide how horrible I really want it to end up.  *shiver*
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« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2007, 12:44:15 PM »

At the risk of sound a bit like one of those "Me too!" people, I have to say, "Me, too!" Smiley

I thoroughly enjoyed this one. I was a bit taken aback by the abrupt ending, but that made it more chilling.  This is one of the few PseudoPod has done that have actually kind of given me the creeps.  The POV, as so many others have already said, is a fresh one from which to tell the same-ol' zombie story.  I thought this story was going a whole other different place and it tricked me, which is a good thing from my perspective.

I could easily see this as an episode of Twilight Zone or The Night Gallery or something along those lines, with the final shot being those kids in the SUV, huddled together, scared out of their wits, and then gunshots, their startled reactions...and then fade to black with a slow zoom on their faces, never showing the house or what might or might not be coming out the door.

Yes. *shudder* Yes, indeed.
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« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2007, 04:59:41 AM »

At the risk of sound a bit like one of those "Me too!" people, I have to say, "Me, too!" Smiley

umm…yeah… Me too.

I liked the kid and didn't really see him as acting unlike a kid.  I saw him with a bit of a thousand yard stare, but still functional.  I could see the little girl needed him as a support to help keep him going.

The creation of the zombies was a MacGruffin. Yay, I got to use MacGuffin in two Episode comments this week.  It isn't important why, just that it happened.

I wanted a little more closure on the boy's ending.  Maybe driving away in the SUV with him thinking everything was great now, but his dad and all of us knowing the terror has just begone.

This ending was just his parents leaving him, yet again, while they went about their own way.
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eytanz
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« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2007, 05:35:31 AM »

I wanted a little more closure on the boy's ending.  Maybe driving away in the SUV with him thinking everything was great now, but his dad and all of us knowing the terror has just begone.

This ending was just his parents leaving him, yet again, while they went about their own way.

True, but I think that was actually pretty effective. I liked that the story left a true happy resolution as a real possibility - there was no obvious sense that the number of zombies was increasing - it doesn't seem to spread to zombie victims - these end up truly dead, it appears - so it is more a question of whether the zombifying agent itself is spreading, which is unknown. It could be an airborne virus and humanity is doomed, or it could be that it's a vat of green liquid somewhere that needs to be touched to be infected, and that this is just a tragedy of one small town. I think closure at the end would have undermined the story a bit by forcing it down one path or other, making it more of a zombie story qua boy than a boy story qua zombies, and thus more commonplace and less interesting, if that makes any sense.
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Russell Nash
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« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2007, 05:44:34 AM »

I wanted a little more closure on the boy's ending.  Maybe driving away in the SUV with him thinking everything was great now, but his dad and all of us knowing the terror has just begone.

This ending was just his parents leaving him, yet again, while they went about their own way.

True, but I think that was actually pretty effective. I liked that the story left a true happy resolution as a real possibility - there was no obvious sense that the number of zombies was increasing - it doesn't seem to spread to zombie victims - these end up truly dead, it appears - so it is more a question of whether the zombifying agent itself is spreading, which is unknown. It could be an airborne virus and humanity is doomed, or it could be that it's a vat of green liquid somewhere that needs to be touched to be infected, and that this is just a tragedy of one small town. I think closure at the end would have undermined the story a bit by forcing it down one path or other, making it more of a zombie story qua boy than a boy story qua zombies, and thus more commonplace and less interesting, if that makes any sense.

Everything you say is true.  My comment was just a personal thing.  I don't mind open endings, but I like the opening to be not so in your face.  I also felt sorry for the boy, because of the way his parents treated him.  I believe that if you have the kid, you raise him as much as you can yourself.  As the father in this story, I would have been pissed at the mother to start with.  She had the day off, but the kid was spending a full day in daycare.  That's why, eventhough the ending was good, I wanted the boy to think everything was OK again.  We're still feel to wonder if it's just this town or if it's spreading, etc..
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« Reply #18 on: August 15, 2007, 04:50:48 AM »

Oh good, another Zombie story, just what we need here on ZombiePod. I'm clearly in a minority here but, not being particularly interested in the shuffling dead I find a lot of these stories dull and the what-seems-like-bi-episode need to have a zombie story irritating. That said it was a competent story, although I have to vote with those who thought the central character to be a strangely advanced nine year old.
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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2007, 08:17:19 AM »

Jim already said most of what I wanted to say, but golly gee and smeg I just want to say it anyway!

This is a thoroughly gripping horror story. From the first moment of revelation with the fire-fighters I was thinking "28 Days Later" and I loved it! Just like The Animatrix builds on The Matrix and interprets it in different ways, "Big Boy" and "28 Days Later" will forever reside together in my memory, whether Ron McGillvray meant it or not.

I understand completely Bdoomed's point that not giving closure adds more suspense/thrill to the story, but I bitterly cursed Mr McGillvray for leaving me hanging on that particular hook.. I want to know what happened!!
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