I’m a podcast freak. News, fiction, lectures, whatever. The constant info-feed into my ears at all hours has obliterated my music habits and left me with no space for my own thoughts. Stories from Escape Pod, Starship Sofa and Variant Frequencies can get into your brain like nothing you read on the printed page.

One that did was an episode from Pseudopod (horror podcast) called Linda’s Appointment. Written by Mike Norris, it’s an utterly horrific story of a man whose wife is tormented in a disturbing series of experiments by unseen ghouls or aliens, and he is powerless to do anything to stop it. It made my hair stand on end as I listened to it on my way through the subway station.

[Here’s a link to the audio, though get ready to squirm if you dare. It does have some laughs though, a reference to Melbourne as the farthest-flung place in the world, and the ending is a kicker.]

Norris said he wrote the story after watching his wife go through pregnancy and feeling the same helplessness at being a bystander to her ordeals. It didn’t surprise me, even though at the time I had no idea what that would be like. In the years since, however, I’ve watched my wife go through pregnancy, the death of her father, chemotherapy, surgery and more. Unlike the couple in Linda’s Appointment we came out of it OK, but I couldn’t get that story out of my head the whole time. This is my thanks to Mike Norris for truly creeping me out, not once but several times over. Not many writers can claim such a lingering effect.