Author Topic: Pseudopod 327: What It’s Come To  (Read 4492 times)


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on: March 31, 2013, 02:46:21 AM
Pseudopod 327: What It’s Come To

By Wolf Hartman.

“What It’s Come To” is first appearing here!

WOLF HARTMAN is twenty-two years old and lives in Orange County with his boyfriend, Matt. He is a student at Chapman University studying philosophy and English. This is his first short story. If you like what you’re hearing, be sure to become a fan of him on Facebook at WOLF HARTMAN

Your reader this week - Zhames Tremarco -has a band called Cyranoid you really should check out - HERE.

“The gas station climbs out of the dark.

Every step rattles my broken bones. A rib and my nose for sure. The ankle could just be a sprain but that doesn’t stop the mean throb from busting my stride. I limp, throwing myself forward then dragging the rest up behind. The tarmac shreds my bare feet. The night’s cold sits like new skin, thin and wet, on my naked arms and neck. The rest of me is hot with blood. Soaking my clothes. Drenching my jeans, my hair. Drying my tongue and cracking when I blink pink sweat out of my eyes.

Trees stipple the highway shoulder. Like fingers closing into a fist around me. The air is pregnant with the musk of firs, melding with the far off smell of fire and ashes. The sky is red-orange. The color of bad blood. The fires will burn the whole city. There’s no one left to put them out.

A tangle of highway behind. A ringing in my ears. But I’m here. I’m alone in the dark. On this road. In these woods. But I’m still here and the gas station fights the dark with all its lights still on. Come in. Say hello. Take a load off.

The hard pain grinds in my side and I stumble forward.

The gas station is pitted against the forest. Its pumps sit like tombstones covered in a mold of cigarette and Coke ads. Buy 2 get 1 free. The surgeon general warns. Cars sit beside them. Quiet like mourners. The gas station’s convenience store glows and hums.

I shuffle into the forecourt. The fluorescents cut sharp and my vision tilts. I squint to save myself. Hands on my knees and sick breathing until it passes.

A man hovers by one of the pumps. Dressed in a navy blue jumpsuit stained with oil at the chest and knees. He’s young. Clean-shaven with skin colored like spoiled milk. He holds a squeegee in one hand and a bucket of soap water in the other. He stares at me dumb.

‘Hey,’ I say. ‘Hey. Excuse me.’”

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Uncanny Valley

  • Palmer
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Reply #1 on: April 02, 2013, 12:14:57 AM
I liked this one a lot.  Very vivid imagery, although seemed to be trying a little too hard at times.  I like the fact that not everything was explained, as far as causes and effects (trying not to spoil anything).  It was open in a good way, at least for me.  And I liked the main character.  I wanted the story to keep going, which is probably the best praise I can give for a short story.

Also, I thought the narration fit the character very well, and he sounded like he was the same age as I imagined the character being.


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Reply #2 on: April 03, 2013, 06:04:55 PM
I enjoyed some parts of this, but it was so very over-the-top that I ended up more amused than horrified.  Like, at first I thought the prostitute was some kind of mummy or zombie, based on the description, and the whole toilet-miscarriage thing just had me shaking my head at the excess.  The language  throughout teetered on (and occasionally fell over) the edge of purple prose, which on the one hand gave everything a sort of fever-dream vividness, but on the other hand kept making me chuckle.  Add to that some threatening teenage punks right out of a boilerplate 80's 'dark future' movie (with a mohawk and a switchblade, fer pity's sake) and it just ended up feeling oddly goofy.

I like the closing image, and I dug the overall themes.  I think that it was more effective than ineffective, in total.  But I really don't think I was supposed to laugh in all the places that made me laugh.


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Reply #3 on: April 04, 2013, 09:44:18 AM
Some things could have been toned down, but hey, it's the apocalypse (maybe). Why not go big?
All in all I was very impressed, and wish Wolf continued success. 


  • Palmer
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Reply #4 on: April 17, 2013, 11:50:42 PM
I thought this was fantastically written and read - the events were a bit over the top for my taste and bordered on cartoonish at points.
Not my style but really well crafted none the less.


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Reply #5 on: April 24, 2013, 05:29:11 AM
  Add to that some threatening teenage punks right out of a boilerplate 80's 'dark future' movie (with a mohawk and a switchblade, fer pity's sake) and it just ended up feeling oddly goofy.

I liked this story...a lot! You know you're reading something good when you're honestly angry it's over and find yourself asking, no, demanding more! Very well written, nicely narrated!

Now, what I really love is the "take 2" I sometimes get when reading others thoughts on the stories. Scattercat's comments immediately had me reliving the story and suddenly I find myself laughing (both at the point made, and myself for not catching it while listening) at the sheer "stereotype" of the characters ... like the punks with mohawks! HA! But in the end I think that kinda made the whole thing work. It was warm and familiar...and it seemed to just FIT.

Ummmm, and if Wolf doesn't have anything better to do...couldya maybe write Chapter 2? Maybe? Please...look I just want to know why the heck the sky is blood red and what exactly happened to this guy before he came up on the gas station. If you could that'd be great! Thanks!

The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.
-Blaise Pascal


  • Sir Postsalot
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Reply #6 on: April 24, 2013, 02:09:04 PM
I had trouble taking a lot of this seriously for the reasons scattercat mentioned, just some strange over-the-top elements that didn't really seem to fit.  Add to that a lot of trouble at the beginning trying to get a grasp of what exactly the setting was, whether he'd been in a car accident or assaulted or what, and this story was just really hard for me to get into.