The Pod Bay Door: Christmas Special!

He came from Outer Space in his flying washing machine with one goal – to learn about Earth, it’s people and cultures via the medium of Podcasts. His never-ending search continues where this week he discovers a curious Festive custom. Be careful Pod Cat! You know what they say about “Curiosity”…

Greetings Human People! Last time one of your kind introduced me to the unusual holiday of Halloween – a time of year when you celebrate being frightened, which I found most curious because 500 of your Earth years worth of intergalactic travel has taught me to run away from things that frighten me. But, if it unravels your ball of string, I thought, I’ll give it a try. And my, what fun it was!

Since then I’ve been investigating your custom of Christmas, learning about the baby Jesus and the three wise Human People, Mr Santa with his flying reindeer (I didn’t know they’d made it here from Altair IV yet, but they can fly so that makes sense), putting a large outdoor shrub in your homes for four weeks, keeping pigs warm by wrapping them in blankets, and collective attempts to avoid a popular song from the 1980s about Christmas Last Year lest it bring on the end of the world, or something (that one’s a bit odd, I have to admit).

So it was with some surprise that I discovered you strange Human People also like to tell scary stories during this time of celebration and cold weather. Most curious, but since I enjoyed your Halloween, I decided to follow this up and have chosen a spooky new podcast as my introduction to this fascinating tradition:

Shadows At The Door: The Podcast

What I have learned is that while a broad mix of horror is celebrated at Halloween, it’s specifically Ghost Stories which are enjoyed during the festive season. So that led me to Shadows At The Door, a podcast which celebrates this grand tradition by launching with its first episode in the Christmas week.

It’s made by a couple of splendid Human People named Mark Nixon and David Ault. Mr Mark is the writer/creator and Mr David the narrator. I recognise these names from other horror story podcasts called The Lift and The Wicked Library.

Shadows At The Door’s is based on Mr Mark’s website, which I shall list below, and accompanying book – an anthology of ghost stories written by people Mr Mark hand-picked from around the world – and which I would urge you to spend your Earth Money on. The motivation for this podcast is Mr Mark’s love for a well written, well told ghost story which, rather than relying on jumps and gore for its scares, instead focuses on atmosphere and foreboding – not unlike the feeling I experienced when exploring the Dread Swamp of Zarton III.

One of Mr Mark’s main influence is a Human Person called Montague Rhodes James (who Mark refers to as Monty in the post-story chat – he must know him) and the inaugural episode, Leave A Light On For Me, a brand new, original story by Mr Mark is a tribute to Mr Monty. It features all the hallmarks of his best works: a remote seaside location, a snooty academic type, an unearthed treasure, a warning to leave it alone and a resulting curse. I looked up this Mr Monty and read some of his stories and it’s reminiscent of Oh, Whistle And I’ll Come To You My Lad and A Warning To The Curious – the title of which made my ears prick up and sent a shiver down my back.

Mr Paul of World Geekly News also tells me it reminded him a bit of a movie called The Fog. I have not seen it. I don’t like fog. I prefer the sunshine. Specifically, sleeping in it.

Mr David is known for many things including leading a Ghost Walk in Ripon, Yorkshire (I wonder if they take space cats) and his voice work on another horror podcast called No Sleep. As a cat, I don’t really understand what No Sleep means, but the stories are good and Mr Ault reads them very well. After the story Mr David and Mr Mark have a chat about, among other things, their friend Mr Monty and whether or not ghosts exist (obviously they do, but maybe the Space Ghosts of Trantor VI don’t visit Earth very often).

Overall, this was a wonderful introduction to your Earth Custom of the Christmas Ghost Story and I look forward to hearing future episodes.

For now, though all it remains for me to say is I hope you have a Miaowy Christmas!

You can listen to Shadows At The Door at the following places below:

CastboxShadows At The Door‘s WebsiteiTunes (At the time of writing the first episode is not yet on iTunes but it should be appearing soon).

Mark’s book is available to buy in a lovely hardback edition from the Shadows At The Door website, in audiobook format on Audible for Kindle on Amazon.

Paul Childs

As well as writing for Den of Geek and Your Truth, Paul also runs Badgers Crossing, a site for ghost stories. He loves the 1980s and thanks to a keen interest in Public Information Films he has never been electrocuted or set himself on fire.

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