Author Topic: PseudoPod 816: The Goatkeeper’s Harvest  (Read 983 times)


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on: July 17, 2022, 05:13:03 AM
PseudoPod 816: The Goatkeeper’s Harvest

Author: Tobi Ogundiran
Narrator: Opie Ogundiran
Host: Alasdair Stuart
Audio Producer: Chelsea Davis

“The Goatkeeper’s Harvest” was originally published in The Dark. Special thanks to the author for helping us find a reader.

Show Notes
From the author: “When I was seven, I spent the summer on my aunt’s goat farm, and it was quite the experience. Anyone who’s dealt with goats knows that they’re stubborn creatures. They get everywhere. They jump fences, knock down gates. And they look at you in a way that feels too human, like they know exactly what they’re doing. There’s also that way their jaws move when they masticate—side to side. It can feel disturbing—sinister, if you really pay attention to it. When I recently read about Shub-Niggurath, the Lovecraftian god who sometimes appears as a many-legged goat, I remembered my experience and thought, “of course goats aren’t really goats, it’s why they act like that!” and I knew I had a story. For the longest time I’d wanted to engage with the Lovecraftian mythos in a Nigerian setting. This presented the perfect opportunity. In drafting the story I wanted to stress one of the hallmarks of cosmic horror: that nothing is just and we are at the mercy of an indifferent universe. If reader reactions are any indication, I was successful.”

The wind shrieks its displeasure as it rattles the house, rattles it like a child in the throes of a tantrum, and we, little gnats in this container of brick and mud, tumble from our huddle by the table. The awful shriek reaches a peak of fury, and within it I hear the abominable voices of Eleran’s children.

Ebun buries her face in my breasts, breath hot and moist against my skin. “I’m scared, Mama.”

I’m scared too. I’m scared of the wind and what it means, the dark and what it brings. I’m scared for the last bit of wood in the oven and how quickly it burns, the smoke thick in the air like an oppressive blanket, smothering us and smelling strangely of goat.

We all hear the sound: the frantic scratching of nails  on wood. Ebun stiffens against me; Teju’s eyes grow wide in his skull, and as one we swivel towards the door.

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Cormack Baldwin

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Reply #1 on: September 17, 2022, 09:01:47 PM
Am I two months late? Maybe. Unfortunately, I don't listen to episodes in a normal, discernible order, so I never feel fit to comment because I'm inevitably behind the times. But this story drove me BONKERS (in a good way) so I wanted to put my thoughts into words.

The opening. You can always get me with storms raging on dark nights, and someone (or is it something?) begging to be let in is such a classic, and it really works here. You know something is very, very wrong without immediately giving it away. Why can't we trust the knocking at the door? What else could it be? It cracks the reader (or, well, me) wide open. Suddenly you want nothing more than to figure out what else could be behind that door.

The fact that the fear is not necessarily rooted in fear itself, but love. The Pact was made to save the patriarch's family. Eleran loves her goats. If it had ended there, the story would fall into the general Lovecraft vein of "scary community (separate from MC) does weird things out of 'love' that is SECRETLY devotion to an ELDER GOD". Which, I don't know, it can be fun, but not necessarily interesting. Having the MC grapple with the fact that she cannot stop loving something the audience expects to fear adds so many more dimensions.

The fact that there really aren't any "right answers". The things the MC does "wrong" (not leaving out the tubers, shooing the goats out of the barn) are perfectly rational given the information she had. Later on, is she supposed to open the door? How is she supposed to react to what happens to Ebun? There's so many paths to explore here, so many 'what if's to follow. This is a story that can be pulled apart, picked through, and reassembled without losing any of its impact.

Also, yeah, goats are just kind of like that. Love those funky lil ungulates.