Creepy: 31 days of Horror

It’s October, and we all know what that means: the whole internet has gone pumpkins, and the things that go bump in the night have come out.

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Creepy Presents the 31 days of Horror

By Lex Scott

It’s October, and we all know what that means: the whole internet has gone pumpkins, and the things that go bump in the night have come out.

That’s right, it’s Halloween season and Creepy – one of the best, most reliable regular purveyors of horror on the internet – is again giving us a spooky 31 Days of Horror Halloween countdown.

Days 1 – 3 Tales from the Gas Station

We start the month off with a seven part series following Jack, our plucky protagonist and the only full time employee of a weird gas station on the outskirts of a quiet town. Strange things go down in this place where, mysteriously, no phone or internet signals seem to reach.

From toilet cowboys to hand plants, doomsday cultists to dark gods, and even mysterious politicians who just won’t stay dead, this place has everything you need. They might even pump your gas if you need it.

The narration is simple and hypnotic, as of a man who’s so far gone with insomnia he just rolls with everything weird in his life. It perfectly captures the dull monotony of working the graveyard shift in the service industry; isolated from everyone normal and even normalcy itself, the bizarre becomes your new mundane and allows you to become very zen with your situation.

Day 4 Kisaragi Station

Our journey through the Gas Station situation is interrupted by this creepy pasta originating from 2chan, the Japanese message board. Presented as a simple dramatic reading of the original posts, we go on a journey with an unfortunate girl to an abandoned isolated train station.

With spooky strangers, ominous name translations, and improbably mobile reception, we’re taken on a late train journey you probably don’t want to go on.

Days 5 – 8 Tales from the Gas Station (cont.)

Back at the gas station we learn that Jack has deleted his original day 4 post and urges everyone not to seek it out. As far as we’re concerned “nothing happened” wink wink.

On a personal note I’ve always loved this kind of meta-narrative, where real world realities of publishing and timetables directly inform the stories presented. It brings the audience in in a special way, making us directly part of the story and co-conspirators with the author/ narrator.

Tales from the Gas Station continues and concludes uninterrupted on day 8 with a simple, somewhat expected climax and resolution.

I don’t say this to be critical, I’m simply saying that a modern audience will see this ending coming. The tone and turn are all familiar and expected, and dare I say, classic in their own way.

There’s a comforting familiarity with the conclusion that I am definitely okay with.

Day 9 The Quiet Child.

Here we’re presented with instructions on how to summon a dark god, aspect of stark truths and the primal fear of confronting and knowing the unknowable.

This episode mostly consists of deft atmosphere building, through the lens of painstaking descriptions of the steps necessary to invoke the presence of The Quiet Child.

It has echoes of other classic horror/ thriller child tales, like the twilight zone episode It’s a Good Life, but it feels more reminiscent of Faust or D’jinn: bargains struck by over eager mortals, only to be confronted by the very cost they’d been warned against.

Warnings they had ignored.

Source: Freeimages

Day 10 Voicemail Transcription [BETA]

New narrator, new writer, this genuinely affecting episode presents a horror that is all to real: a stalker.

Now there is a supernatural bent to this tale, but like all fairy tales/ fables it presents a very real and frightening danger it wants to warn us about. In this case, the fear and danger of someone following us.

It perfectly captures that feeling of terrifying vulnerability that comes with knowing someone out there can see us, but we can’t see them. Knowing that, because we can’t perceive them, any time they want to they could harm us.

It takes away everything that makes us feel safe and comfortable in this world, stripping everything away to make us feel alone and isolated. Then they strike.

Like I said, genuinely affecting. A powerful story.

Day 11 The Perfect Child

A new take on the classic tale of greed and the dangers of obsession. You’ll most likely recognize this story, but that makes it no less effective in it’s execution. This is a cautionary tale humans have been telling themselves for millennia, and there’s a good reason for that.

Day 12 Dear Scammer

Have you ever been the victim of your own generosity? What about just losing sight of the important things when an opportunity came along. This is a story that presents you with both sides of each of those situations, while maintaining a single solitary perspective.

It’s graphic and unpleasant, but that’s what you’re here for right?

Day 13 Midnight Dancer

Who likes clowns? No, I mean it I’m genuinely asking. Who are they for? Why do they persist after over a hundred years of entertainment? I seem to remember once reading an article claiming that clowns were never actually designed to be funny and charming, that they’re supposed to be tragic and at least mildly upsetting. But I’ve never been able to find it again and check it’s sources.

I can’t help feel like this tale, or the title at least, was inspired by Pennywise. He is after all, probably the most famous dancing clown. One thing I can say about it is that the ending is perfect.

Day 14 Cupcakes

This is the one episode that Jon Grilz – creator and lead narrator of Creepy – specifically mentioned when I reached out to him.

“On the 14th we have a story that I’m really curious to hear listener feedback about. It’s one that we’ve had requested before, but I was never sure if I should put it as its own weekly episode. It’s dark in the weirdest possible way.” – Jon

It may seem bright and sparkly (can you guess it? I managed to) but be prepared for plenty of body horror.

Source: Freeimages

Day 15 Moonface

This episode brings us back to a primal aspect of childhood I think we all experienced: that profound sense of unbridled joy, coupled with the disconcerting realization that sometimes people just don’t want to spend time with us. It’s a saddening and confusing realization, but anyone with siblings can probably relate.

Hopefully it didn’t go as badly for you as it did for this young boy.

Day 16 What Was In The Store With Me?

Is there anything more mundanely otherworldly than a retail store after hours? Maybe a supermarket, but you probably won’t run into any ghouls there; just the weirdos buying ice cream at 2 am. Not so for this unfortunate night owl employee restocking for the holiday season.

Day 17 Little Red Ranger

Once upon a time, the older traditions of All Hallows Eve said that ghosts walked the earth that night, and if you left your home you would encounter them. People took to dressing up as monsters to avoid being recognized by these ghosts, instead being seen only as fellow spirits.

This story has echoes of that old tradition, with one small boy eager to show off his latest obsession, and another who just doesn’t want to be lonely anymore.

Day 18 Chatroom 98

Who among us hasn’t found and old unmarked CD in their house, put uncaringly into their drives to search for interesting things? It’s the modern day version of looking for buried treasure, and it’s usually harmless.

Hopefully next time you boot up someones discarded old discs you’ll have some solid protection in place. Not much else I can say without spoiling things unfortunately!

Day 19… Subscribe to find out!

So there you have it, all episodes so far of this years 31 Days of Horror as presented by Creepy Podcast. They will be continuing with a new one every day for the entire month of October. I asked Jon Grilz if he had any words or thoughts he could share about how he’s planning to close out the month and he only said this:

“We have a mix of everything from classic creepypastas and listener submissions that I think people will really enjoy. I don’t want to give anything away, but as far as how we will close things out, I guess it will be like last year. The devil’s in the details.” – Jon

Make sure you check out Creepy right here so you don’t miss their 31 Days of Horror series before it ends.


 

Lex is a professional writer from New Zealand. He’s studied copy writing and social media marketing, and is known for his outstanding web series, Reggie’s Case Files.

 

To learn more about Lex and the rest of the team visit our About Us page.

In Ink #1

Welcome to the first issue of ‘In Ink’, a supplement to Podern Times. Here we will be taking a look at some of the posts that have been published by podcasters, or about podcasting in general.

In Ink

Issue 1

 

Welcome to the first issue of ‘In Ink’, a supplement to Podern Times. Here we will be taking a look at some of the posts that have been published by podcasters, or about podcasting in general.

inhale1080-718

‘Inhale’ is the beautiful tale of reluctant superhero Tammy Tracer, a ten part stand alone audio drama series from writer and creator Rick Coste. (Behemoth, Pixie, Bryar Lane to name a few.)

Just over a year later, we now have the pleasure of an ongoing fictional journal from Tammy. I would suggest listening to the audio drama podcast first however, we wouldn’t want you to trip over any spoilers now would we. If you’ve already had the pleasure of listening to it then please feel free to breathe in this inspiring new creation.

I had the pleasure of catching up with Rick and asked him about this new direction.

It actually stems from the need to continue writing.  Over the last few months I’ve focused my attention on finishing some long held book ideas I’ve had.  A couple are now in the hands of my agent and, while they are being reviewed and shopped around, I felt it was a good time to try something new.”

I really wanted to continue Tammy Tracer’s story but I also wanted to do so outside of the audio drama medium.”

 

If that wasn’t amazing enough, Rick has also released another fictional journal, this time for a completely new character, Kira. ‘Kira’s Journey’ follows the thoughts of an AI (Accidental Intelligence as Rick puts it) from the moment of consciousness, through her escape, and into the exploration of the larger world. Could we be looking at the inception of a new audio drama?

I just want to see where her story takes her as she explores what it means to ‘not’ be human.  There’s quite a few directions I could go with it but my main desire is for her to be able to do so in her own way.”

You can find all of Rick’s wonderful tales over at modernaudiodrama.com


 

Elsewhere on Planet Pod

A review of Sarah Werner’s sci-fi epic ‘Girl In Space’ from The Fantasy Inn.

The latest Bello articles tell us to take a break from listening to podcasts, and then recommend ten shows to listen to.

 


Do you have a companion blog for your podcast? Do you write about podcasting? Would you like to reach new readers through this publication? Just email us a link to your latest blog post and we’ll share it here.

In A Word… War

In A Word

They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ so I’ve decided to challenge a few of my friends to see if they can paint the reader a picture in just one thousand words. The subject of this picture? A single word. An emotionally charged word full of subjectivity, giving plenty of scope for my guests to get their creative writing on. After all, isn’t that our job as writers? To pull the audience into a scene, and connect to them emotionally, to let them share in the beauty of our world?

Last time we read the words of Jamie Killen, writer and producer of Spines, and Mirrors podcasts. This time around we have the prolific writer Paul Sating, who’s latest drama, Who Killed Julie? we reviewed last week.

Paul began creating audio drama podcasts in 2015 with Atheist Apocalypse, a satirical comedy set after the rapture over four seasons. While writing that he has penned Diary of a Madman, two seasons of Subject: Found, the aforementioned Who Killed Julie?, a patron only podcast called You, and a writers podcast by the name of Horrible Writing. So I can only say thank you for squeezing in a thousand words for me.

The Word I have chosen for Paul is…


War

/wɔː/

noun

a state of armed conflict between different countries or different groups within a country.

“Japan declared war on Germany”


War is air. War is life.

The metallic cloud of spent rounds.

The thudding in your heart when the world explodes.

The ripping of the air as the Klaxon screeches and the C-RAM tears apart the invasive enemy.

The overwhelming frustration of boredom and the numbing of the mind. Essence flows from your soul as a river through a dry land.

War is humans at their most animalistic. War is us.

This… is war.

Life changes in a flash. One minute, your mind is fixated on all of those moments you’re missing. Your middle school child starring in the school play, helping with homework assignments you don’t understand, a spouse having a bad day at work and just needing a sympathetic ear. Christmas morning waking alone, on a cot that no one over nineteen should sleep on; no tree under which are the carefully-placed expressions of love. Sleeping. Bored. Dreaming of home one moment… the next, you’re flopping out of your cot in the middle of the black night, scurrying like a cockroach for cover under six inches of used and abused cloth, polyester, and foam that provides restless sleep each night. Your heart threatens to thump its way out of your throat.

There is no sense.

No balance.

The world is an enigma.

Your friends are subversive, playing politics in the middle of extensive periods of boredom. Your enemies, the people you’ve sworn to kill if need be; humans, with wives, mothers, and children who depend on them to survive.

You realize they’re a lot like you.

In war, everyone believes they’re on the right side.

In war, you cling to the things that have meaning. Angels in heaven or demons walking the earth. There are atheists in foxholes. A lot of them. War helps you see that.

Beliefs.

Diversity.

The silliness in believing in anything that isn’t human motivation. You watch as God allows his throng of believers to die painful deaths at the end of an enemy gun. God turns his nose as limbs and lives are lost. No purpose is served beyond the single concern of the powerful; the ultimate god of mankind.

No, in war, there is only one god. And he is green.

Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors; bleed red so the rich are swathed in the perpetual flow of riches. Exuberant deals. Money moves from one government to the power brokers of another. Favors curried in the hallways of the Pentagon, a world where small people have no access, even though they give their sons and daughters to the cause.

Dust in every crevice.

Minutes which feel like hours.

Minutia for the sake of minutia.

War

Source: FreeImages

Blind eyes turned away from crimes committed to preserve the state.

Thinking, feeling… loving humans, convinced to kill one another for the sake of a state that does not care for them or their kind.

This… this is the reality of war.

The ignorant, the blind, those unwilling and incapable of seeing its realities stroke the canvas, painting the scene which they want to portray. They are no less guilty than the mongers who lust for more: power, money, control.

The compliant tote patriotism like a badge to be earned. They cannot see it is nothing more than a mechanism to manipulation, that the species is the greater good. They fear the other. The unknown. The different.

The liberal expounds and pontificates, as if they’re experts on a subject for which they’ve never attended. They assert knowledge; an asset they lack. They’re just as ignorant as patriotism’s lemmings, and in the same state of denial.

The only sane are those who retain the ability to independently think while dressed in the standard uniform of warriors. They see the abuses: of the powerful, the governments, their agents. They see the harm, the unnecessary, and the waste. They know the courage and sacrifice required to execute and influence, sometimes for and against the same entity.

Simultaneously.

The heart aches, longs for things it cannot have, unfulfilled by the dishonest proclamations of those who claim to hold the truth.

Duty.

Patriotism.

Honor.

These are preached from behind the safety of international borders and oceans. The detached eye observes the price paid by the powerless, the voiceless; paid by those who have bought the lie or serve in complicity because they aren’t of the privileged.

Boxes, draped in the three colors that used to stand for something, drift past, born by friends, associates, brothers and sisters-in-arms. Eyes wet; eyes vacant; eyes seething with wrathful vengeance examine the box. Inside is a sister. A brother. A son. A daughter. A husband. A wife. A mom. A dad.

Lost.

Promise of life needlessly and heedlessly spent.

The desert dust carries the spirit of what remains of hope. Here, in war, we exist. Nothing more. There is no happiness in accomplishments, no joy in the good news from home, no sense of importance. Here there is what there has always been for the warrior who thinks: a longing to return… home. To touch the hand of the grandmother. To hug the crying child. To feel the softness of a kiss shared by intimate partners.

To the thinking warrior, war lost its honor when money became its justification.

In the thinking warrior, there is no greater opponent of war.

War nor its warriors are monolithic.

Its warriors must be actors.

The enemy is the friend; the friend, the enemy.

Confusion is king and clarity, a casualty.

The one who says they understand war… the liar.

The one who demands to abolish war… the denier.

Why deny that which we are? Why strive for the unachievable?

To do so is to delay measures of resolution and to hold true discourse amongst adversaries. It is to fail to invest in dialogue in that which prevents us from embracing our most basic instinct.

We could.

We won’t.

We should.

We haven’t.

War is air.

War is life.


Who Killed Julie?

Who Killed Julie? released its first two episodes over the weekend, (September 23rd). This and all of Paul’s other shows can be found over on his website, or on your podcatcher of choice.

My review of this story can be found here.

Would you like to take part and promote your work here? All you have to do is email me!


Podern Times is powered by coffee. Do you like what you see here, then please consider donating a cup of Joe for yours truly by clicking the Ko-Fi image below. Thanks!

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Review: Who Killed Julie?

It seems the world and his dog loves true crime dramas if the glut of shows on your podcatcher is anything to go by. Take the soon to be released third season of Serial, Sword and Scale, recently released Dr. Death, or… well the list could go on.

It seems the world and his dog loves true crime dramas if the glut of shows on your podcatcher is anything to go by. Take the soon to be released third season of Serial, Sword and Scale, recently released Dr. Death, or… well the list could go on.

Who Killed Julie?

Who Killed Julie? follows in the footsteps of many of these shows, in the form of an investigative journal that slowly unfolds week by week. The main difference here, this isn’t a true crime story, but a work of fiction from writer/ creator Paul Sating.

Paul’s first foray into this genre releases this Sunday (September 23rd), and I would argue has been a rather successful venture on several fronts.

Firstly it’s nice to see a writer tackling something new. Rather than sticking to the ‘tried and tested’, rather than staying within the parameters where he’s comfortable, he seems to push himself into unfamiliar territory with every new project.

Those that are accustomed to his work will know he’s worked all over the spectrum. Satirical comedy, (Atheist Apocalypse), horror, (Diary Of A Madman), and out this Thanksgiving, 12 Deaths of Christmas. Lore, (Subject: Found), dystopian futurism, and LGBT+ love stories to name but a few. Hell, I even have a poem of his in my inbox that I will be publishing next week!

I had the opportunity to ask him why his catalog feels so eclectic.

“I get bored easily, lol. Beyond that, I don’t want my writing to get stale.

“I’ve been dealing with a lot of horror. Diary of a Madman is a dark show. Who Killed Julie? Isn’t exactly a Sunday morning family program either. So I enjoy breaking away from those things from time to time. It keeps me growing and developing as a writer and it keeps me stimulated.

“I even have a new audio drama coming in 2019 that is totally different from everything else I’ve done. I’ve written 6 episodes thus far and it’s definitely a stretch for me. But it makes me excited when I work on it and it is forcing me to consider things I’ve never had to before, because of the story and target audience.

Secondly, Paul’s work just keeps getting better. Even though this story covers very adult themes (you have been warned) to include domestic abuse, murder, and prostitution, the story is both realistic and sensitively told.

Julie may not have been a “model citizen” (in even most liberal eyes) but she was, as the story shows, a very sensitive and caring person. To her children first and foremost, and to everyone (even her detractors) in the wider community.

“Julie has been living in my head since I worked in a military sexual assault response office. I understand the sensitivity of the topic. That experience opened my eyes to the dichotomy of sexual assault; who the friends and enemies of sexual assault survivors are. After the show runs, I’ll release my reason for writing Julie’s story, but she came to life from that experience.

“I thought I understood sexual assault, but that job showed me just how much I didn’t know. Julie is an amalgamation of the survivors I had the honor of serving. Her story is a real story; it’s something that no one should have to live, but far too many do. And I felt it was time to tell it.

Third, and most importantly, the story lends itself as a platform in which real social issues are put into the spotlight rather than swept under the carpet. It shows the very real fear of admitting to being abused for fear of becoming shamed or shunned. It boldly holds up a mirror to society, and shows us how ugly we really can be. As Emerald poignantly reminds us, “This is the story of us!” Add to this fact that the show aims to raise money for Safe Place, Olympia, a 24 hour shelter for victims of domestic violence, for me, puts this show in the must listen category.

Safe Place, Olympia

The story starts slowly with episode 1. Maybe that’s because I’m used to hearing shorter episodes from Paul, but I found myself drifting off a little towards the end. Episode 2 however picks the pace right back up, and keeps you on the pulse throughout the rest of the entire seven episodes, with brilliantly written dialogue that slowly unfolds the story and it’s characters.

The cast, though small is superb. Ashley Litsey as Emerald Johnson, takes the lead perfectly, giving us a full range of emotion. Dealing with others character flaws professionally and with empathy, when alone she switches from angry, to heartfelt, and emotional, to downright sassy.

In support, Rhiannon McAfee plays a hard-faced, bad mouthed Rachel. Robin Siegerman takes to the role of Julie’s self-centred, uncaring mother Angela. John McClain the saddened, doting father, and Christopher Rocco portrays the ‘one true love’ Caleb wonderfully. All of them have nailed these characters perfectly.

One or two of the ‘phone call’ conversations are a little too distorted, something I can live with if it’s just a two minute call, but when a call lasts beyond five of minutes I find it becomes a distraction.

A couple of places, early on in the story, I also found distraction in a lack of background noise. Sure, that sounds a little odd, and possibly picky, but distracting nonetheless. You could probably get away with not noticing the ticking of a clock, or the occasional passing car under a short dialogue, but there are some weighty monologues throughout which you would feel background noise would become a distraction to. However for me, not having that white noise present made the conversations a little more oppressive. Not sure if this was the intention, but with a dark topic such as this I feel it’s not needed in this case.

As I stated earlier, Who Killed Julie? is NSFW. It uses adult language to describe adult themes. If you are at all worried about this, then I suggest you don’t listen. I will say however if you managed to get through the latest trailer, then you have already heard the most graphic part of this whole story, something that isn’t repeated again.

That being said, this story is a very important one. It’s a story I feel everyone needs to hear, and a conversation we all need to be a part of if we are to grow as individuals, and as a society. You can catch it’s release this Sunday (September 23rd), and every fortnight after that.


 

You can check out Who Killed Julie? and all of Paul’s other shows over on his website, or on your podcatcher of choice.

If you have a new podcast/ audio drama season coming up and would like us to take a listen, then feel free to drop us a line.


Podern Times is powered by coffee. Do you like what you see here, then please consider donating a cup of Joe for yours truly by clicking the Ko-Fi image below. Thanks!

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In A Word… Serenity

They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ so I’ve decided to challenge a few of my friends to see if they can paint the reader a picture in just one thousand words.

In A Word

They say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words,’ so I’ve decided to challenge a few of my friends to see if they can paint the reader a picture in just one thousand words. The subject of this picture? A single word. An emotionally charged word full of subjectivity, giving plenty of scope for my guests to get their creative writing on. After all, isn’t that our job as writers? To pull the audience into a scene, and connect to them emotionally, to let them share in the beauty of our world?

Today’s guest is the wonderfully talented Jamie Killen, creator of audio drama podcast ‘Spines’, and brand new drama ‘Mirrors’, which releases tomorrow (September 12th). Jamie is also an author of speculative fiction. Her latest, ‘The Wandering Land’, is a beautifully told tale of five peoples adventure in a mysterious place of magic, and is currently a free read on Kindle Unlimited.

The word I have chosen for today is…


Serenity

/sɪˈrɛnɪti/

noun.

the state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.

“an oasis of serenity amidst the bustling city”


 

Serenity: you sit next to a bubbling stream, breathing in the clean smells of nature. Your thoughts are quiet and still, your worries far away. You stop worrying about the future, and you stop agonizing about the past. You close your eyes and feel the sun on your face, and for that one moment you are at peace.

Then you open your eyes, and you meet the gaze of the creature stalking you through the shadows, and that serenity is gone.

There’s a reason the oasis is the primary metaphor for serenity. What’s so special about an oasis? It’s just a pond and some palm trees, after all. There are more beautiful places than that all over the world.

No, it’s not what’s in the oasis itself. It’s what’s around the oasis that makes it special. Surrounded by parched, deadly desert, a lake and a few scrubby trees become the promised land. Serenity is special because it is surrounded by danger and trauma. And, just as you must leave the oasis and continue on your journey across the desert, you cannot remain in a state of serenity for long.

An oasis of unlimited size isn’t an oasis anymore. It’s a swamp.

Serenity’s beauty lies in its brevity. No one can live in a permanent state of serenity. Some might try, or claim to have achieved something like a state of perfect contentment. But to be truly serene, one must be free of fear and rage and worry. To be truly serene, one must be ill-equipped to survive for very long.

The serene person walking along a desert trail does not fear snakes, and so does not watch for them.

The serene person watching evil play out on the streets feels no rage, and so takes no action until the secret police show up at their door.

The serene person raising children does not worry about their future, and so does nothing to protect it.

Anger and terror keep us alive. Serenity doesn’t.

Serenity is temporary because it has to be, because a person cannot indefinitely exist unmoored from their past and future, from the dangers and love and everything else intruding on us.

This is what I think of when I think of serenity in my own life: It’s evening, and I’m standing in a quiet spot near the Thames. I’m listening to a street musician singing a Nina Simone song. It’s calm and beautiful and for the duration of that song I let myself be serene.

Why can’t I be like this forever?

Because the past and the future and the fucked-up present won’t allow it. For a brief moment I can feel serene, but that moment is bracketed by a past in which the city I stand on is soaked with blood and bombed from above. It’s made possible by the music of Nina Simone, a woman who fought to survive in Jim Crow America. I don’t know it yet, but this moment is already hurtling toward a darkness that will come years into my future, when my country begins its descent into authoritarian madness.

Oasis

Source: Freeimages.com

It’s not all the larger forces, either. I make a conscious decision to let the serenity shrivel and die, because once this song is over I have to walk back to my hotel by myself, and a woman walking alone at night does not have the luxury of serenity. Serenity is incompatible with the need to watch the shadows for men who hate women.

This isn’t to say that serenity is without merit. Serenity is an emotional vacation. It’s the mind unplugging. Serenity is the mind in a moment of stillness, when we are so accustomed to the mind in constant motion. A short period of serenity allows for reflection. It calms and consoles.

And when that anger and sadness and fear return, they are more focused. They are no longer a directionless hum. They have a purpose and a target. They are oriented around tasks to complete, problems that must be solved. Serenity has cleansed the palate, and you can move forward with clarity.

But still we seek the serenity. We meditate, a little longer each time. We take vacations. We seek to prolong the periods in which we can honestly describe ourselves as serene. Sometimes it can last for a while, but at some point, inevitably, you must leave the oasis.

But wait, you say, what about the serenity of Gandhi and Buddhist monks or Malala Yousafzai? Or our serene great leaders in fiction, Dumbledore and Yoda and Aslan? They seem so content, so tranquil. Haven’t they achieved a state of serenity?

No. They’re calm. They’re focused. They have purpose. That’s not serenity. That’s just managing the terror, not leaving it behind. They see the creatures in the dark. They see the blood and chaos. They know what’s out there.

Serenity can never last. It shouldn’t last. Serenity is special precisely because it is rare, and because it should be rare. Deep down, as much as we all long for serenity, as much as we cling to it when it comes, we all know this. A short period of serenity is beautiful. Indefinite serenity is an opium den. Permanent serenity is the grave.

Serenity is an island paradise surrounded by shark-infested waters.

Serenity is a cozy cottage with a wolf breathing against the door.

Serenity is an oasis in the midst of salt flats and blinding heat.

Serenity can never be more than this: a breath, a moment, a blink. The briefest respite from the things chasing you through the dark.

So take those moments. Take the flashes of serenity that you are lucky enough to receive. Sit by the stream, and close your eyes, and feel the sun on your face, and bask in your little moment of serenity. Get lost in that song for the four or five minutes that it lasts.

Then stand up, and face the shadows, and let the serenity slip away. The monsters are coming.


Mirrors Podcast

Don’t forget, Mirrors launches episode one tomorrow! You can check out the trailer now, or go and listen to all three seasons of the amazing Spines right now.

Don’t forget, most of Jamie’s work is offered to everyone for free, so please be sure to swing by her Patreon page and offer up a little support.

If you have a podcast, book, or other passion project you would like to promote here, then please contact me via email or even DM me over on Twitter.


Check out the next post in this series, ‘In A Word… War’ by Paul Sating, is a wonderfully moving poem.

Welcome To Podern Times

It feels very strange that I’m here again, especially as this is the first ever post from Podern Times, and yet it feels remarkably familiar. Like that favorite jumper you love to wear on those cold winter nights, curled up in front of the television watching Groundhog Day over and over and over, until you finally realise that you haven’t been watching Bill Murray repeat the same day ad nauseum, but you’ve actually been watching Ghostbusters. Then you realise your favorite jumper is actually a dalmatian onesie, and your owner is yelling at you to get down off the couch you “bad doggy!”

Okay, I’m starting again!

Are You Sure? Is the latest episode from Welcome To Night Vale (133), and since its launch on the weekend (September 1st) I’ve downloaded and listened to it so much it has driven me mad!

“Why?” I hear you ask, if you are not one of their regular listeners. “I know it’s good, but why would you download the same episode multiple times?” you will also say. Well it’s all due to ‘dynamic insertion’, you know, the way they put advertising on podcasts these days. It turns out those crazy cats at Night Vale have used this technology to give the episode three different endings… or have they?

These endings are added purely at random, so unfortunately I’ve had to listen to this episode all week, but to date I have only heard two different endings. This has turned me into a cold hollow shell shivering in the corner, pleading with my family to give me back my favorite jumper so that I can curl up and watch a rerun of Bill Murray as Garfield. Apparently I’m not allowed to watch this either because I “bark at the cat on the TV all night long!” And why do they not take me to the dog park anymore???

If you have listened to all three, please let me know. Please… my nerves are shot!


 

You Me and the Big C

My condolences go out to the family and friends of Rachel Bland, host of ‘You, Me and the Big C’ who died age 40 on Wednesday.

Rachel was diagnosed with breast cancer in November of 2016, and had since worked tirelessly to raise awareness, and remove the stigma attached to cancer. She began with her blog ‘Big C. Little Me.’ documenting her journey through treatment, and then on to co-host the podcast with Deborah James and Lauren Mahon.

A tweet on her official account was posted on Wednesday morning saying: “Our beautiful, courageous Rachael died peacefully this morning surrounded by her close family. We are crushed but she would want me to thank everyone who took an interest in her story or sent messages of support. You’ll never know how much they meant to her. Steve and Freddie”.

The podcast deals with all the big questions you would expect, mental health, chemotherapy, alternative and complementary therapies, doctors, money, family, and death, in a frank and funny way. If you haven’t listened already, then download this amazing show now, and recommend it to everyone; especially those people who will say ‘what’s a podcast?’


Serial Podcast

After two and a half years Serial returns for season three on the 20th of September. They take a look at the criminal justice system and the litany of charges thrown at it by reformers. Where season one looked at one extraordinary case, season three spends a year in one courtroom, Cleveland Ohio, looking at many ordinary cases, and the problems they faced.

Check out the link above to hear the trailer, or follow this link for an interview with Sarah Koenig and Emmanuel Dzotsi over at Clevescene.


Audio Verse Awards

It’s that time of year again peeps! The Audio Verse Awards are taking your nominations now! All eligible productions that have “aired” between October 1st, 2017 and September 30th, 2018 are up for consideration.

The Audio Verse Awards are an annual awards show dedicated to celebrating the best in free audio drama around the world. It started as a thread on Audio Drama Talk, ballooned to a Facebook group, then shrunk to a dedicated group who sat down and helped make the Audio Verse Awards a reality in 2013.


 

Spotify

On Wednesday (September 5th), Turner Podcast Network announced that they would be launching their entire portfolio of over 60 shows on Spotify. This comes only a month after the Swedish music streaming giant announced a deal with the BBC for users in the UK. I have heard however that BBC podcasts have been appearing on Spotify in the US and other countries outside the UK.

This is hot off the back of them teaming up with NPR back in May, so it’s safe to say that Spotify are serious about taking the scalp of iTunes. Let’s hope they now take a more serious approach with the indie podcast world than they have in the past.


In other news:

Lime Link posts a video highlighting how the iTunes podcast chart is being manipulated.

Brands are set to double their spending on podcast advertising.

Science proves what we already knew, that audio is more emotionally engaging than film.

Well that’s it for now. If you enjoyed it please share it with your friends, if you didn’t then share it with your enemies.

If you have any podcast news you would like to share with the community, then give us a shout, or maybe send an email, (probably the better option).

Are you a podcast blogger? Would you like to be? We are looking to create a small team of full/part time writers. We are always looking to take on guest writers and feature the work of those in the industry. If you would like to contribute, drop us a line, we are more than happy to chat about the best way we can promote you and your work.


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