Author Topic: Pseudopod 176: The Blessed Days  (Read 14673 times)

Bdoomed

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on: January 08, 2010, 05:59:07 AM
Pseudopod 176: The Blessed Days


By Mike Allen
Read by Ben Phillips

What finally saved him at the not-so-tender age of fourteen was a book about lucid dreams he found at the community college library. He followed the recommended exercise out of desperation, repeating until he fell asleep: “I will know when I am dreaming. I will remember what I dream.”

Just as his first encounters with the morbid plunged him into nightmare, his first attempt at lucid dreaming introduced him to unlimited power. He again found himself in the City of Mazes, pursued by a crowd pulled on fleshy strings. You are all inside my head, he thought, and knew they were. He commanded, Stop, and they did, collapsing to the ground as their severed strings thrashed like loose hoses.




Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2010, 06:01:46 AM by Bdoomed »

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speck

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Reply #1 on: January 08, 2010, 06:35:40 AM
The Blessed Days are coming in 2012.



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Reply #2 on: January 08, 2010, 06:02:21 PM
I thought this story was pretty cool. What kept my interest up was the cause of the phenomena. A strange and interesting idea. Unfortunately, the end didn’t entirely convince me. Having dreams or nightmare come through into reality seemed a tad…trite? Anyway I was hoping for something more but maybe I’m just sick of the whole Myan. That said, I still would have like to see more of the aftermath. What does this guy do under the hydras power? How does society react? I think it would have been better if there were just a few “select” people who were “Blessed.” Maybe 500,000 or so. Enough that the world takes notice. Enough so that when or if a few of them break through the veil of dreams they bring a couple of these Myan monster hydra things back with them!

Also a great outro by Alasdair. Only, to me “early Pink Floyd” is Syd’s Floyd. When referring to "Dark Side of the Moon" I prefer to refer to them as Classic Floyd….



Kaa

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Reply #3 on: January 08, 2010, 07:20:25 PM
I really liked this one, too. Something about the way it opened just grabbed me and didn't let go. Sometimes with Pseudo-/Escape Pod[Castle], I have to rewind and listen to the beginning again if the first bit didn't grab me enough.  This one required no rewind.

It reminded me quite a bit of "Got Milk?" (http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=2882.0) with the guy who grew a third nipple from which black milk began to flow....

In fact, it reminds me of that story a LOT.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2010, 07:49:45 PM by Kaa »

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Scattercat

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Reply #4 on: January 11, 2010, 05:23:37 AM
Excellent work.  There were a couple of word choices that pulled me out of the story, even just while listening.  (He used "devilish" twice in short order, for instance; stuff like that.)  However, on the whole the writing was evocative and quite gruesome.  I find it interesting to see how other people deal with similar ideas and thoughts; I've been tinkering with a story concept that has some similarity to this, but my story wouldn't end up looking anything like this one.  Strange how that sort of thing works.

The last line is a killer.  Love it.



cdugger

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Reply #5 on: January 12, 2010, 02:40:59 AM
While I don't put this one in my list of favorites, I have to say that it's about damned time that Pseudopod actually put out something that qualifies as horror!

The reading was good, and I did really like the outro, too.

I read, therefore I am...happy.


bestarbo

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Reply #6 on: January 12, 2010, 04:17:44 AM
Impressive.  And thoroughly worked out.



deflective

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Reply #7 on: January 12, 2010, 10:05:55 AM
world science focus,
the obvious omitted:
gore analysis



cdugger

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Reply #8 on: January 12, 2010, 12:39:17 PM
world science focus,
the obvious omitted:
gore analysis

OOoo! Is that one of those, um, what are they, Achoo things? You know, Japanese poems?

Heh.

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Unblinking

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Reply #9 on: January 12, 2010, 03:16:59 PM
Great horror story!  Even though I like the vast majority of Pseudopod's offerings, not many actually have the intended "horror" effect.  This one did it, giving me the willies right down the bone.  Ewwwww and creepy!  If I were writing the Best of Pseudopod list today, this would be a strong contender.

That being said, the only belief hurdle I had was the fact that NO ONE mentioned anemia.  If these people are bleeding out of their pores every time they sleep they should all be extremely anemic and dehydrated.  At the very least it should mention the beef shortage because everyone is eating red meat, and people guzzle gallons of water every day just to break even.  Some of the religious groups claimed that it was the blood of the dead, so perhaps it's not the person's own blood, and so they don't get anemic.  This would explain why the homeless man is still alive without any sort of proper nutrition or medical care.  But even if that were the case, why wouldn't the topic of anemia at least get brought up?  As in "At first, the attorney general recommended iron pills.  But then after an extensive study, they realized that no one was actually experiencing any blood loss."  Maybe they skipped this info so that for most of the story it could be ambiguous whether this was magic or a bizarre medical condition, but to me it was a plot hole.



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Reply #10 on: January 12, 2010, 04:15:03 PM
Also a great outro by Alasdair. Only, to me “early Pink Floyd” is Syd’s Floyd. When referring to "Dark Side of the Moon" I prefer to refer to them as Classic Floyd….

Yeah, The Dark Side of the Moon to me is the beginning of the late Floyd period, when Waters took over most of the writing; "early" would be pre-1970.

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Reply #11 on: January 12, 2010, 10:48:34 PM
That being said, the only belief hurdle I had was the fact that NO ONE mentioned anemia.

I seem to recall a line about "No one knew where the blood came from."  The impression I got was that everyone was as mystified by you were by the provenance of the blood, since while obviously actual blood it didn't seem to come from inside anyone, or was somehow all produced as excess.  Still, it was addressed in the story, if only tangentially.



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Reply #12 on: January 13, 2010, 02:59:41 PM
That being said, the only belief hurdle I had was the fact that NO ONE mentioned anemia.

I seem to recall a line about "No one knew where the blood came from."  The impression I got was that everyone was as mystified by you were by the provenance of the blood, since while obviously actual blood it didn't seem to come from inside anyone, or was somehow all produced as excess.  Still, it was addressed in the story, if only tangentially.

But that tangential line makes it sound like no one really tried to investigate where the blood came from.  I would assume that medical research would surge trying to figure out what the hell is going on.



stePH

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Reply #13 on: January 13, 2010, 03:23:03 PM
I seem to recall a line about "No one knew where the blood came from."  The impression I got was that everyone was as mystified by you were by the provenance of the blood, since while obviously actual blood it didn't seem to come from inside anyone, or was somehow all produced as excess.  Still, it was addressed in the story, if only tangentially.

But that tangential line makes it sound like no one really tried to investigate where the blood came from.  I would assume that medical research would surge trying to figure out what the hell is going on.

I think we can safely assume that medical research did make such a surge, but how much story space do you really want spent on that tangent, describing all the avenues of possibility that were explored?  Just hearing "nobody knew where the blood came from" was enough for me.

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Kaa

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Reply #14 on: January 13, 2010, 03:27:55 PM
how much story space do you really want spent on that tangent, describing all the avenues of possibility that were explored?  Just hearing "nobody knew where the blood came from" was enough for me.

I agree. I think if the story had spent paragraph after paragraph going on about all the stuff that had been tested, it would have been monumentally boring.

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Scattercat

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Reply #15 on: January 13, 2010, 06:50:19 PM
I think we can safely assume that medical research did make such a surge, but how much story space do you really want spent on that tangent, describing all the avenues of possibility that were explored?  Just hearing "nobody knew where the blood came from" was enough for me.

This.

As long as it's clear that the characters in the story reacted like real people - "Where did all this COME from!?" - then I don't need to hear any more about the actual details of their investigation.  I'd only be as concerned as Unblinking if the story had just had everyone accept the blood unquestioningly.  I think it's pretty clear that there's a LOT of questions happening (enough to spark at least one new religion, for instance.)



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Reply #16 on: January 14, 2010, 01:45:50 AM
I think we can safely assume that medical research did make such a surge, but how much story space do you really want spent on that tangent, describing all the avenues of possibility that were explored?  Just hearing "nobody knew where the blood came from" was enough for me.

This.

As long as it's clear that the characters in the story reacted like real people - "Where did all this COME from!?" - then I don't need to hear any more about the actual details of their investigation.  I'd only be as concerned as Unblinking if the story had just had everyone accept the blood unquestioningly.  I think it's pretty clear that there's a LOT of questions happening (enough to spark at least one new religion, for instance.)

I'm with Scattercat on this one.  I kept waiting for someone to at least bring up a scientific explanation.  In fact, since I spent the whole story assuming this was a medical condition and it didn't seem all that horrific.  Everyone gets a disease that causes blood to leak from the pores, but it doesn't seem to otherwise do any harm.  Weird and gross, but not scary.  IIRC, the "nobody knew where the blood came from" line comes late in the story, and when I heard it I took it to mean "nobody knew why this was happening" since it is obvious that the blood is coming from inside the people who are doing the bleeding.  Apparently, this actually isn't where the blood was coming from, but I wasn't clear enough on that.  If the blood was that of someone else then doctors would have noticed that the blood types/DNA didn't match. 

Also, I'm weary of stories about nature or spirits or whatever getting tired of man's lust for killing and deciding to kill everyone.  A) clearly humanity is making or saving more people that it is killing.  B) there are periods of history with greater butchery than now.  C) the cruelty of nature/spirits/aliens is always greater than that of humanity.  nature/spirits/aliens: "You've murdered millions of you're own kind.  So we are now going to murder billions."  humans: "Despite our obvious tendency to kill all who are different from us, this is the one time we will accept our fate with quiet resignation." 

Inaccurate accents don't usually bother me, but I think Ben would have been better off not doing the Indian accent.  It came and went and sometimes sounded like he was making fun of how Indians talk (which I'm sure he wasn't). 



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Reply #17 on: January 14, 2010, 03:33:01 PM

I agree. I think if the story had spent paragraph after paragraph going on about all the stuff that had been tested, it would have been monumentally boring.

Paragraph after paragraph would definitely be boring.  But a sentence along the lines of "medical science was baffled; nobody was experiencing blood loss" would've made the whole thing entirely clear, and wouldn't have slowed anything down to any great degree.  Like I said, I liked the story, but the lack of mention of medical science was a plot hole to my eyes.



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Reply #18 on: January 17, 2010, 06:13:25 PM

I agree. I think if the story had spent paragraph after paragraph going on about all the stuff that had been tested, it would have been monumentally boring.

Paragraph after paragraph would definitely be boring.  But a sentence along the lines of "medical science was baffled; nobody was experiencing blood loss" would've made the whole thing entirely clear, and wouldn't have slowed anything down to any great degree.  Like I said, I liked the story, but the lack of mention of medical science was a plot hole to my eyes.

I was pretty sure that there was a line like that, somewhere - I don't know if the word "medical" was used, but it was explicitly said that after a few days, it was clear that people were not bleeding their own blood.

Overall, the story didn't really work all that well for me. I thought the first half was thrilling - the reaction of a world when suddenly the rules change in a horrifying (though apparently benign) way. But, well, the latter half was treading far more familiar territory, and just wasn't as interesting. Man plays with things he doesn't understand and ends up as a servent of a more powerful entity is just not as interesting as a world adjusting to the fact that every time someone goes to sleep they wake up covered in blood.




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Reply #19 on: January 22, 2010, 05:12:16 PM
A lot of times excessive gore can be a turn off for me - not because it disturbs me but just because it seems...ridiculous. But here I was hooked into the characters from the beginning and seriously disturbed at the twists that overcame them. Well done, Mike Allen.


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Reply #20 on: January 30, 2010, 02:51:40 AM
That was some fucked up shit right there.

Great story.



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Reply #21 on: June 01, 2010, 10:38:58 PM
I just listened to this one.

I found myself chuckling to myself at the end: I found the whole concept really stupid.

Consider: the entirety of the tension in this story is based upon the fact that the reader (listener?) does not know the source of the blood.  Thus, the ending revelation carries upon it the entire burden of breaking the tension and leaving us in awe.  I really felt this one fell utterly flat.

The worms (or whatever) fed upon violence.  Specifically, human violence.  They urged it on, they encouraged it etc.  This is to imply 2 things:

(1) Humans are somehow special.  Violence on colossal scale occurs every single second of every single day in every single place amongst every single organism.  Even in your own body, as you read this, untold legions of microscopic organisms wage wars of mind-boggling scale.  Humans are just organisms like anything else - why should their violence be unique?

(2) Human violence is unnatural.  The worms, it seems to imply, provided the impetus for slaughters untold.  This is to somehow imply that the human organism is not violent by nature, but is compelled somehow from the outside.  This is a deistic, moralistic point of view that is incompatable with Nature.  To assume humans are peaceful by nature, unlike other organisms, and only some bizarre deity with an unexplainable interest in our insignificant existence can compel us to be violent is so ignorant of the Natural World that it made me laugh.  All organisms fight.  All organisms compete.  Observe the brutality in gorillas or other of our closest relatives if you don't believe me.

Anyway, the horror of Lovecraft was that the universe was a vast, uncaring place where your greatest hopes and dreams were less than dust in the grand scheme of eternity.  This story validated them, made them look valuable.  The worms were essentially Satan - the evil entity that provokes evil in mankind, that cares about the actions of every soul.  That's stupid - but almost funny.

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Reply #22 on: June 09, 2010, 05:14:34 PM
See separate thread about humans being special.



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Reply #23 on: July 14, 2010, 06:03:10 PM
This story effectively used gore. It wasn't just gore for the gross-out value.

I thought this story was pretty cool. What kept my interest up was the cause of the phenomena. A strange and interesting idea. Unfortunately, the end didn’t entirely convince me. Having dreams or nightmare come through into reality seemed a tad…trite? Anyway I was hoping for something more but maybe I’m just sick of the whole Myan. That said, I still would have like to see more of the aftermath.

I played a lot of Shadowrun, who used the Mayan calendar premise of 2012 and the shift to a new world, so I've had more than average exposure to Mayan apocalyptic concepts. Outside of the apocalypse-porn film 2012 and the History Channel shows moved to prime time to coattail off that movie, where has the overexposure of the Mayans come from?

Anyway, the horror of Lovecraft was that the universe was a vast, uncaring place where your greatest hopes and dreams were less than dust in the grand scheme of eternity.  This story validated them, made them look valuable.

Dreams are powerful locations in the Lovecraft mythos. In the hands of the proper practicioner, dreams can be used to travel between dimensions or through space. Are you meaning "humanity" instead of "dreams"? I think the clarity is important, as the protagonist is someone who would have been one of those dream travellers in Lovecraft's world.

The worms were essentially Satan - the evil entity that provokes evil in mankind, that cares about the actions of every soul. That's stupid - but almost funny.

See, I took this entirely differently. I found the blood realm to be easily a place out of space and time full of things that want to eat us. The protagonist applied his perspective of why everything was happening. I jumped again to Shadowrun, where the blood magic finally allowed the gap to close between our world and that of the horrors. Now they can come through and run rampant. I felt the ending was nice and open. Maybe there will be the establishment of a new religion to worship and serve and feed the new masters outside time and space. Maybe others will rise up to oppose them.

Any story that inspires other stories in my head is a winner in my book.

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