Author Topic: Pseudopod 415: Night’s Foul Bird  (Read 4768 times)


  • Pseudopod Tiger
  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 5891
  • Mmm. Tiger.
on: December 10, 2014, 01:36:37 AM
Pseudopod 415: Night’s Foul Bird

by Orrin Grey

“Night’s Foul Bird” was originally printed in the 14th issue of Innsmouth Magazine which was themed around “wings.” “I’m obviously a fan of the aesthetics of early horror films, and this story was all about that, especially the portrayal of vampire lore in early films, especially silent films, though saying that in the opening might be giving the game away a bit. It’s also one of a pair of stories I wrote back-to-back dealing with early portrayals of vampires in media–its companion is a very short piece called “The White Prince” that’s in Steve Berman’s anthology of incubi stories Handsome Devil out now from Prime books, which deals more with early vampire novels and specifically Dracula, instead of film.

ORRIN GREY is a writer, editor, amateur film scholar, and monster expert who was born on the night before Halloween. He mostly writes short, spooky stories of the macabre and supernatural, and he watches a lot of movies about the same, and sometimes gets to write about them. He has a regular column on vintage horror cinema for Innsmouth Free Press and has had a couple of previous stories at Pseudopod, and some other recent or forthcoming publications include a story in Tales of Jack the Ripper and Children of Old Leech, both from Word Horde. His first collection, Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings, came out in 2012, and his newest collection, Painted Monsters will come out from Word Horde in October, 2015. It includes this story and previous pseudopod episode “The Worm That Gnaws”, as well as 11 other stories, including 3 that are original to the collection. Updates for his writing happen regularly on his website at Who killed Orrin Grey?

Your reader – Cunning Minx – is the sultry-voiced producer and host of the Polyamory Weekly podcast, now with over 400 episodes in production. The podcast shares tales from the front of responsible non-monogamy from a pansexual, kink-friendly point of view. A kinky boobiesexual, Minx founded the show as a resource for the poly and poly-curious to form a community, share experiences and help guide each other on their journeys of poly and kinky exploration. A marketer by day, Minx spends most of her vacation days teaching about polyamory throughout the US but leaves a few for snorkeling about the Caribbean with her poly family. Her New ebook is, Eight Things I Wish I’d Known About Polyamory.

“Last week, a man moved into the building. He lives in the same rooms as us but on the fourth floor rather than the sixth. On the floor between is a plump-cheeked lady whose two sons both died in the War. I call her the “Widow Flowers,” because she is always drying flowers in the kitchen above her sink. She gives them out to everyone as gifts at every relevant occasion. I wonder if she loves them because they’re beautiful but already dead, unchanging, like a photograph, but Mother says I mustn’t ask people such questions.

The new man is strange, pallid and sunken, and his head seems to taper from top to bottom, as though his chin is forming like a stalactite from his face. His eyes are very pale and he has an odd way of staring at you as if he’s actually looking at whatever’s just behind you, instead. Mother says that he’s sweet and that I mustn’t judge. That many of the young men who came back from the War came back just like him. I don’t think he seems young, but Mother says that he’s not much older than me. She blames the War for that, too.

He says his name is ‘Milton,’ but in my mind, I’m already calling him “Mr. Chaney,” because there’s something about him that reminds me of Lon Chaney’s faux-vampire in London After Midnight, which I loved up ‘til the end. Maybe it’s his long coat, which he wears always draped over his shoulders, his arms not through the sleeves. Maybe it’s his shadow, which seems to cling too close to him, to hunch at his back when he stands near walls, as though it’s whispering secrets in his ears.

Mother says that I’m sensitive, but that I should keep it to myself, and that I mustn’t judge people until they’ve given me a reason to, as it says in the Bible. I don’t think that is what it says in the Bible, but I don’t contradict her.”

Listen to this week's Pseudopod.

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


  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #1 on: December 12, 2014, 03:08:31 PM
I was hoping someone else would've commented on the story before me.  I didn't really get into it, but I'm curious what I missed.

The Far Stairs

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 127
    • A Thousand Lifetimes in an Hour
Reply #2 on: December 15, 2014, 07:23:15 AM
I didn't get into it either. It just didn't grab me. I listened to it last week, and none of it stuck in my memory.

Jesse Livingston
Head of Historical Archives
The Far Stairs


  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 213
Reply #3 on: December 15, 2014, 02:45:13 PM
I liked it.  It seemed to tap into a core childhood fear.  That you know that there is something evil out there coming for you, but the adult world does not react to it.  They don't take you seriously or otherwise acknowledge your fear as legitimate.  Generally, the adults are right (there are no actual monsters under your bed).  This story asks the question, what if they are wrong?  What if your life was in danger.  And there was still nothing you could do about it?



  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3996
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Reply #4 on: December 15, 2014, 10:03:23 PM
I really dig Orrin Grey. I also love Nosferatu. This story really evoked the mood of that film for me. So much great use of creeping dread and shadows.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 752
    • quietstars
Reply #5 on: December 16, 2014, 09:42:23 AM
I wanted to like this. It ticked a lot of my boxes. Callbacks to classic horror cinema. The ambiguity over whether what was happening was supernatural or mundane. The evocation of the location and the use of the building as a character in the tale.

Yet, for whatever reason, it just left me cold. Can't really put my finger on why. I can admire it technically, but it just didn't hit me emotionally.


  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 8
Reply #6 on: December 19, 2014, 04:05:48 PM
The uncertainty of whether Mr. Cheney was a vampire or serial killer was spectacular. As I listened to the story, I had to take the narrator's story with a small grain of salt. Primarily because of her influences and outlook. She's a got a true passion for old German movies, some about vampires. Of course, if a serial killer was on the loose and leaving a bloody trail behind, she'll gravitate towards seeing the new, creepy neighbor as a blood-hungry vampire. Overall, the evocative nature of the classic vampire lore and myth made me tingle with fright. Thanks guys for another great story

The worst excesses of mankind springs from the all-too-human traits of cruelty, apathy and arrogant misapplication of our own talents. The heroes who triumph in my stories are those who demonstrate the most kindness, common sense and ingenuity.


  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 27
    • Who Killed Orrin Grey?
Reply #7 on: September 23, 2015, 01:13:49 AM
Just wanted to drop a line that, in addition to being mentioned on Entertainment Weekly, "Night's Foul Bird" is also being collected in Painted Monsters & Other Strange Beasts, my second fiction collection which is currently available for pre-order from Word Horde! Besides "Night's Foul Bird," Painted Monsters will also feature Pseudopod favorite "The Worm That Gnaws," in print for the first time, as well as three new stories entirely original to the collection, authors notes, and an introduction by John Langan. Plus a really great Nick Gucker cover!

Orrin Grey


  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 27
    • Who Killed Orrin Grey?
Reply #8 on: August 15, 2016, 09:52:43 PM
Just wanted to let everyone here know that Strix Publishing has just launched a Kickstarter to put out a brand new, hardcover deluxe edition of my debut collection Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings, which sadly doesn't include this story, but does include ten of my other tales, including Pseudopod favorite "Black Hill," as well as two new stories not featured in the previous printing. This new edition will be cloth-bound and fully illustrated by M.S. Corley, and will feature a brand-new introduction by Nathan Ballingrud.

Orrin Grey