Author Topic: Pseudopod 234: I.C.U.  (Read 7085 times)


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on: June 18, 2011, 05:17:39 AM
Pseudopod 234: I.C.U.

By Tim Burke

Read by Cayenne Chris Conroy

“Sometimes Keith would wander into the visitors’ waiting room, just so he could see time passing. The window faced south and the room was filled with autumn dusk the color of dried egg yolk.

The monitors beeped and the machine fixed to his father’s throat rasped. The one tube that ran to a plastic jug of amber urine, its tube disappearing under the sheets. Keith imagined the tube sliding up his penis, the pain of the urethra being forced open.

His father did not want to end up an old man tied down in a bed. When he threw a bowling ball down a lane and had to spend five minutes catching his breath, he glared if you even looked at him struggling.”

Listen to this week's Pseudopod.


  • Hipparch
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Reply #1 on: June 18, 2011, 05:23:24 AM
I am King Under the Mountain, and this is the first post on this thread!

I don't really blame I.C.U. - today I was really much more in the mood for blood and guts and monsters. Unfortunately, it's been a subtle week here at the Escape Artists. That's no one's fault, and I'm sure there are lots of listeners out there whose moods ran more in this direction today.

That said, I thought this was an absolutely beautiful story, incredibly well written. The characters really came to life, and I found myself engaged, even though it wasn't the kind of story I was looking for. I really do hope everything works out for this guy. Worked out. Death sucks.

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Reply #2 on: June 18, 2011, 08:56:39 PM
Well written but not really horror... horrible, haunting, touching, but in a manner that most people, unfortunately, have to face in one way or another (not this exact scenario, but variations on this theme). Also, and I in no way want to diminish the suffering of real-life abuse victims, but I am tired of the fictional trope where the big reveal is child abuse. I feel that got all played out a decade or two ago.

I'm not saying that people shouldn't write about it but I'm bored of it being the 'twist'. It reminds me of the stories I wrote as a kid which always climaxed in the protagonist killing themselves. As I was listening to it, I was just thinking "Please, don't let his secret be that he's gay or he was abused... give me something new"... then Uncle Mick was mentioned and the game was up. This could have been a great opportunity to add a more horror-y twist .. like, Uncle Mick killed someone and the protagonist helped him chop up the body (e.g). So, good story, but didn't give me anything new.


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Reply #3 on: June 20, 2011, 01:40:40 PM
Well written but not really horror... horrible, haunting, touching, but in a manner that most people, unfortunately, have to face in one way or another (not this exact scenario, but variations on this theme).

For me that makes it more horror than less, to know that this could happen and does happen.

The story was very well written.  The characters felt very real, and I could really believe that this happened.  It covered a heck of a lot of ground for a story that must be only a couple thousand words.  I've met  people with similar stories, and heard that kind of story on the news, so for me it doesn't really strike me as entertainment at this point, more as a depressing but true story.


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Reply #4 on: June 20, 2011, 07:52:56 PM
Having written a couple of stories where the horror isn't monsters or ghosts but actual humans doing unpleasant human things, I always like to see others' takes on it. However, this take didn't really do it for me; it felt very indulgent, and I really don't like stories where an emo narrator indulges himself via third-person internal monologues. I wanted something to happen. (Something did -- he said he was molested -- but I wanted more than that.)

Also, CCC's recording seemed a little too... compressed? Clipped? Overprocessed? Anyway, not as clean as usual.

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Reply #5 on: June 21, 2011, 07:46:37 PM
I like the story. I concur with a previous comment that the best horror is when seemingly normal people do horrible things.


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Reply #6 on: June 22, 2011, 04:31:54 AM
AGGggeee !! I feel like an idiot. it wasn't until 2 minutes ago that I realized the title of this story was I.C.U as in intensive care unit, and not I.C.U as in I see you.
other then that it was ok, I kept waiting for the horror twist (maybe they are robots! or, his parents are clones, but have no emotional attachment to him), not that abuse isn't horror, but it seems a bit mundane compared to my theories is all.


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Reply #7 on: June 27, 2011, 12:55:39 PM
I definitely think it was horror. It was all internal though. A solid story that treated the subject of having a terrible secret and unspoken shame in a decent an un-salacious way. It made me glum, but that's not a shortcoming. I probably won't listen to it again though.

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Reply #8 on: July 20, 2011, 05:44:13 PM
This was another great one -- I for one am glad to be seeing more non-supernatural horror on the pod lately.  Don't get me wrong, I like monsters and mush as much as the next guy, but nothing is quite as scary as humans (partly because, whatever my late-night reptile brain might tell me, I'm not likely to run in to the former around any corners, while I deal with the latter on a daily basis -- god, I'm sounding like some kind of horrible misanthrope, sorry).  Definitely in the "this counts as horror" camp.


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Reply #9 on: August 18, 2011, 10:29:16 PM
I would say there is no doubt this is horror, there are scary things in everyday life that are just as horrible as any monster the mind can concieve. Though I can't say I enjoyed this story too much, while the writing was impeccable and the reading felt true, I get the feeling of horrible but not exactly the  type of horrific I prefer.


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Reply #10 on: January 08, 2012, 05:10:22 AM
This is such a hard story, purely because it is so fucking human. But it's that deep down pain and grit that we never like to look at. Surving is hard enough, claiming your a serviver to the people that should have protected you is ten times harder. Some might say he was selfish in this story but I think he was truly couragous. Most would have given up at that point, he got it out, even if it haunted him for the rest of his life. It does drag a little but it is needed to truly get across the monotony of his life and to truly make the ending so horrific.


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Reply #11 on: May 27, 2012, 09:10:02 PM
Hi everyone: Author here
Thanks for your comments.
I was being silly and shy in not commenting sooner.
"Glum" is a good description of what this story can do to a person.
I do feel it falls within horror, but more of the later Mattheson slice-of-live tone prose kind of horror than an action-y kind of horror.
The readers here are the most insightful I've seen anywhere.
Thanks for your comments!