Author Topic: Pseudopod 426: ARTEMIS RISING: The Devil Inside  (Read 4624 times)


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on: February 21, 2015, 07:08:16 PM
Pseudopod 426: ARTEMIS RISING Women In Horror Showcase: The Devil Inside

by Shannon Connor Winward

“The Devil Inside” first appeared in SOMEONE WICKED: A WRITTEN REMAINS ANTHOLOGY by Smart Rhino Publications. “I did actually have a baby this past summer, but she is not possessed or evil – so far as I know.”.

Words by SHANNON CONNOR WINWARD have appeared in Pedestal Magazine, Flash Fiction Online, Strange Horizons, Plasma Frequency Magazine, Star*Line, Literary Mama, and Scigentasy: Gender Stories in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and have been awarded Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future Contest and as an emerging artist in literature by the Delaware Division of the Arts. Her debut collection of poetry, UNDOING WINTER, is available through Amazon and Finishing Line Press. In between parenting and other madness, Shannon works to support local artists, and here and there has been intimate with a microphone. She lives and writes in Newark, Delaware. She has fiction forthcoming in Spinetingler Magazine and Stupefying Stories, and poetry in Scheherezade’s Bequest and Kaleidoscope. Her blog about writing and life, including upcoming features and literary events, can be found here.

Your reader – Tatiana Gomberg – is a New York City based actress of stage, screen, and of course, the audio booth. She’s also a huge fan of pseudopod and listens regularly. Learn more about her at

Your Guest Host this week is Nicole Suddeth who slaves away in the fiction mines at Pseudopod as an associate editor…

To find out more about Women In Horror month, please visit[/b]]

Also check out Dreams from the Witch House: Female Voices of Lovecraftian Horror at Indiegogo.

Tim Burke is one of the best authors we’ve ever featured. His stories of Victorian mediumship and horror have been collected and expanded into the excellent The Flesh Sutra. In fact it’s so excellent that it’s been longlisted for a Stoker Award this year. So, pop along to the The HWA website and take a look at the ballot. There’s some great stuff on there and the finalists will be announced on the 23rd. So, if you’re a member, go vote and go vote for Tim, his stuff’s great. Also if you don’t own the The Flesh Sutra, pick it up, it’s brilliant

“‘What do you mean by that, Rebecca?’ the doctor queried. ‘What did no one tell you?’

Becca studied the drops of rain on the window, little falling jewels of light.

She felt evil, just saying it. ‘I read all the books. They warn you about everything that can go wrong. Preeclampsia. Preemies. Feeding problems. But no one tells you what to do when you don’t love your baby. Like it’s … unthinkable.’

Her words hung for a time, as Dr. Marsh scribbled on his pad. ‘It’s quite common. Many women experience post-partum depression …’

‘I’m not depressed, I just don’t love him.’

‘Why is that, do you think?’

Why? Because he didn’t love her back? Because he cried? All the time, always, screeching until his little voice cracked. Because Becca couldn’t cry?

‘I just don’t feel it,’ she murmured.”

Listen to this week's Pseudopod.
« Last Edit: March 01, 2015, 06:42:27 PM by Bdoomed »

I'd like to hear my options, so I could weigh them, what do you say?
Five pounds?  Six pounds? Seven pounds?


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Reply #1 on: February 21, 2015, 09:10:43 PM
I like that the writer keep this in first person so you never know is this is happening or she is in the midst of a psychotic episode.  A nice use of the unreliable narator.


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Reply #2 on: February 23, 2015, 05:16:56 PM
Wow... this story was really hard to listen to. Harm to children is really difficult for me to listen to, especially in a genre where bad endings are kind of the norm.

For most of this story, however, it was worth it. The building horror, the growing creepiness, the narrator's increasing unreliability... it was all excellent. This story definitely had me on edge, and I enjoyed it! I also liked the nod to both postpartum depression - a condition that doesn't get enough attention - and some of the creepier aspects of psychiatric medicine. I mean, Zoloft and Wellbutrin have worked wonders for me, but it was way too easy to get both of them, despite the fact that they are chemicals that fundamentally alter the way my brain works and one of them is both addictive and abusable and the other one will freaking kill you if you take too much of it.

Back to the story. My only problem with it was that the ending kind of let me down. Maybe it's me, but I don't see how her final decision to murder her husband fits into her delusions/supernatural circumstances (depending on your point of view). I understand that the story wanted a twist ending - the story basically screamed OMG SHE'S GONNA KILL HER BABY! from the first scene, and for some readers that's a problem - but this twist seemed to come out of left field. Did I miss something?

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Reply #3 on: February 23, 2015, 08:51:14 PM
I'm with ElectricPaladin here, but before I get to my quibble with the story ("quibble" used advisedly because I want my issue to register as small--like, baby-size), I do want to cheer most of the story. I'm not someone usually bothered by horror stories. I mean, sure, I get pleasantly scared, but I'm rarely uncomfortable in a truly unsettled way. This story got to me, though, largely because of the commitment to the character's unsettled POV.

But... the ending felt a little arbitrary. Anyone want to take a stab at explaining it?


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Reply #4 on: February 24, 2015, 10:29:46 PM
Oh man I loved this story! It was wonderfully creepy, and lead the listener in the exact opposite direction then what it ended up in.

I think this story plays strongly on Tarot card meanings, and as a big fan of card readings I thought it was amazing!

My take on the ending was this: Rebecca realizes in the end that her Mother had gone through the same situation as her. She was that baby 20-something years ago. "The High Priestess" Tarot Card (Drawn for the Babysitter) can represent hidden secrets, and often can tell a reader too look more deeply into the situation to reveal the truth.

The 8 of Swords is drawn for Rebecca. That card represents someone hopeless trapped in their own thoughts, but also represents that that can also only escape that trap by trusting in themselves an looking at the situation from a different angle.Rebecca pulls back the veil behind The High Priestess at that moment, and knows that her Mother was sane (Maybe), and her son is not evil (Maybe), and that she needs to make the same choice her Mother once did.

Like with her Mother, Rebecca realizes that that it's too late for her husband. He's been corrupted by the dark forces at work and would never allow her to do what must be done. She smothers him and runs away with the child, to try and raise it in the same manor her Mother raised her.

An interesting note as well is that she pulls "The Devil" tarot for the baby. Which, to someone who doesn't read cards, would probably represent evil, Satan, etc.  However, The Devil in Tarot represents something entirely different. He usually represents strong desire, addiction, self-delusion, or self-enjoyment, even when it's at the cost of yourself.  The card usually shows a person below the throne of the Devil, with a chain around their neck. However, they can easily choose to remove the collar from their neck and move forward, but are so caught up in the moment they choose not to. Rebecca was so focused on the thought that her baby hated and feared her, that she was refusing to remove her chains and move on. The power to change the situation was in her, not the doctors, her husband, or the medications.

Really loved the story!!!! Excellent!


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Reply #5 on: February 27, 2015, 08:22:02 PM
Artemis Rising has just been especially awesome for Pseudopod.  I can't think of one story I did not find especially creepy.  This story was so tense until the very end.  It was hard to tell if she was crazy or they really were out to get her.  When her mother killed herself, that was hard to understand, especially after she had been so tough to that point.  That lead to the concept that either her mother really was dealing with mental issues that she passed to the daughter, or that the evil was terribly monstrous that she could not bear dealing with it anymore.  The ending was the only let down as it seemed like a twist that needed more foreshadowing or explanation.  Otherwise, dreadfully terrifying.


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Reply #6 on: March 01, 2015, 06:19:40 PM
I loved this story for the playful poke in the ribs it gives the horror genre, which for the most part requires us to suspend our real world norms, and accept that the "other worldly" is as unusual as a pigeon in Trafalgar Square.

This one however, had me flip-flopping delightedly between the "real world" and the "other". Was she simply psychotic, heading for the worst kind of real world tragedy, or was she truly living outside the bounds of our regular dimension. Both scenarios were equally creepy, and it was lovely. The fact that the question is never answered, reflects our own definitions of what madness might be. Who gets to decide what is real and what is imaginary?


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Reply #7 on: March 02, 2015, 04:39:37 AM
While I understand that the build up was necessary, the things going on in the story seemed so familiar (evil baby acts nice when anyone else is around, lead character with questionable mental state that nobody would believe etc.) that it was hard to listen to it seemingly go on and on for a while, though I suppose that simulated the exhaustion of the character. It didn't help that the potential affair with the very young nanny with a slim body was something you could see coming a mile away. (Though I can hardly complain about that being unrealistic as a quick perusal of celebrity news reveals that this scenario does in fact happen all the time.)

The story was more interesting when it got to the elements of the weird that were less easy to dismiss as anything else, like the birds etc., and I love a good conspiracy that justifies even the most unlikely of paranoid delusions. Fun stuff, though of course it's open to interpretation as to whether it was a delusion or not. 

As others have noted, the ending doesn't make for a very satisfying or meaningful twist. It left me with a bit of a shrug, as I didn't feel like it made much difference, in a way, which family member she decided to murder. I get how it tied back to her father and all, but it just didn't seem to add up so well for me. By contrast, the conclusion of last week's story in Works of the Art felt like it tied in with the overall events and themes of the story a bit better, even though it was just as simple and deadly, and perhaps a similarly unlikely way to resolve a problem. 


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Reply #8 on: March 02, 2015, 03:06:48 PM
This one was certainly effective horror, and managed to hit one of my elusive squick points with the dream about roasting the dead baby (which makes it hard to recommend to someone unless I know them REALLY well).

I think that the basic beginning scenario of feeling like the little crying monster just hates you is pretty common for men or women in the first few months due to extreme sleep deprivation (especially for women because of the added factor of postpartum depression).  No surprise it's even more extreme here with her having to go off psychiatric medications for the pregnancy.

I appreciated that the story kept to the ambiguity throughout--generally there was no point at which I was absolutely sure if what was happening was real or not.  Personally, thinking back on it, I'm leaning towards it all being a hallucination.  The baby crying only toward her could be schizophrenia, I think audio hallucinations are common with that condition, right?  That combined with neglect of the baby making it hard for him to draw comfort from her like he does to his caregivers.  The point that makes me think hallucination more than anything else is the "cooking the baby" dream--that doesn't seem to be rooted in any form in the "Gigi is an agent of evil" scenario, so I think that just came straight up from herself, and so I'm guessing that that point also implies that the rest of it comes from some kind of schizophrenic episode.

My interpretation of the ending was that her husband had let the devil inside his own perceptions, and thus she believed he was the one seeing everything backwards, and so he needed to be removed for the safety off the child.  I didn't expect it, but it seemed consistent with the scenario as she was coming to understand it.


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Reply #9 on: April 02, 2015, 03:51:28 PM
I'm late to the party (catching up on episodes from my maternity leave) but I had, had, had to comment on this one. This story struck a chord in me on many levels. Firstly, I should mention that Rosemary's Baby is one of my favorite movies ever and I love the echoes found in this story. Second, I have struggled with mental illness and postpartum anxiety/depression, and the mental illness-fueled second guessing that Becca does really spoke to me. The thing that hit me hardest in the story, though, is the screaming. My third and most recently born child has colic. She is getting past it now, but it's still there and there are times when the only thing that stops the screaming is when she falls asleep. I have heard the echoes of her screams in my head when I'm not even home with her. I have thought she hated me. I have asked her what she wants from me. I have looked into her blue eyes and seen something unfathomable there, but as far as I know she's not actually possessed. Listening to this story made me realize how easy it would have been in the not-so-distant past to decide that colic was a sign of demonic possession. For what it's worth, I liked the ending and I was relieved when she didn't smother the baby but instead took the less-obvious route of eliminating the outside influences.