EP172: Union Dues – Tabula Rasa

By Jeffrey R. DeRego.
Read by Stephen Eley.
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Jeffrey R. DeRego
All stories read by Stephen Eley

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I raise my hand and she stops chattering. “Just tell me who you are and where I am.”

She freezes and blinks twice. “Tell you where you are? Cap, you’re home. This is the Cleveland Pyramid. I’m Sarah Shadow. You don’t recognize me?”

“That doesn’t mean anything to me!” I stand up. Frustration washes over me like heat from a blast furnace, and worse, my stomach is rumbling. “I woke up today. The first person I saw was you, but I’ve never seen you before in my life. I figured as long as I was in the hospital, or wherever, I’d start to remember, but it’s a blank. Where am I, what is this place, what are you people?” I point at her costume. “And that, what’s that, are you part of a circus act or something?”

Rated R. Contains profanity, sexual innuendo, and a bit of soap opera.

Referenced Sites:
Playing for Keeps by Mur Lafferty

Comments (18)

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  1. The Devil's Advocate says:

    Union Dues has always been one of my favorite stories on this podcast, and this episode dosent disappoint.

    That dosent mean it is flawless, the idea of “Amnesia is the cure for Assholeism” is pretty well treaded, but it is well written enough that this is escuseable, and the idea of it happening to a superhero is also a nice path.

  2. Norm says:

    I agree with the Devil (uh, does that make me a demon or something?). There really isn’t a bad Union Dues and we were overdue for a union dues story (pun intended). The plot wasn’t terribly original, but the outcome was. I had a co-worker who’s husband fell from a telephone pole, lost his memory, and he wasn’t the same person afterwards. They actually got divorced. And Harrison Ford played a mean lawyer who lost his memory and bacame a nice guy in “Henry” not sure about title. The ending of this story though took a twist from the ordinary.

    Still, UD is always enjoyable and I’m surprised DeRego isn’t more famous than his blog suggests. Maybe in time…

    Steve, sorry to hear about your job dilemna. Hope it’s clear sailing from here out.

  3. Meercat says:

    This is the first Union Dues story I’ve heard and I really enjoyed it. The soap-opera like melodrama was a perfect fit for a super hero society and really gave the story a surreal, fun feeling. The only real issue I had with the story were the characters reactions to Collossal.

    I never really felt any genuine animosity between anyone. They say they don’t like each other, but their actions don’t back up their feelings. Shadow insinuates Cap used to treat her like garbage yet she helps him, and Mindbender seemed miffed and angry but shows up in the Cap’s room to have sex. (and not long after Cap’s release) Maybe all of this was part of Shadow’s master strategy, but that seems pretty convoluted, and no offense to the author, I don’t know if I’m ready to buy into that level of nuance.

    Further, for the story being in first person, I didn’t really get a feeling for Cap’s struggle to figure out who he is. I would think there would be more “I want to be good” vs. “these people are irritating”. Cap seems to just accept what people say about his “old” personality without question. I don’t know, but if someone said I used to be the biggest jerk in the world yet I couldn’t remember any of it, I would be more than a little conflicted. Not to mention angry and sullen and bitter and a myriad of other emotions we don’t seem to see here.

    Anyway, all that said, the story made me smile and laugh more than a couple of times – all good things.

  4. Slye says:

    I love the story, though I get the feeling that if he had stayed he would have returned to his old, unlikeable self. It sounded like it was an enviromental thing. With that kind of pressure and personel.. who wouldn’t be angry. (Well.. I’d like to think I wouldn’t… but who knows)

  5. F5iver says:

    Can we have some kind of moratorium on UD stories? There’s so much good fiction out there,and this smacks of being in a rut. Clonepod keeps running them, too. sigh

  6. V says:

    not horribly original, but interesting character interplay and reinforcement of just how corporate and evil the Union is.

    Maybe my memories are fuzzy, but I think this is my favorite Union Dues story so far. None of them are standouts, but then again, we can’t have “Friction” every week, huh?

    It might be nice if you had a separate page or something where you could listen to all the Union Dues stories you’ve run in order, because they really do seem to assemble into a coherent picture, with info from stories I heard before informing my experience of this one…

  7. Bingorage says:

    The crossover made me smile. Still waiting for the Hannibal Lecter eats superhero crossover, however.

  8. EdgeOfNite says:

    Eh, Union Dues is usually dark and depressing. This one was not that dark and not that depressing. It was bland.

    The characters were even more one-dimensional than usual. I could not relate to anyone in this story.

    One of my least favorite EscapePods

  9. ADerksen says:

    This has to be one of the least depressing endings to a “Union Dues” story. While this one may not have been one of the best, I still enjoy ’em, and hope that you keep ’em coming. Their regular appearance, and the gradual unfolding of the darker corners of Mr. DeRego’s universe do draw me onward.

    I guess at least part of what I enjoy about his stories is to compare his conclusions and his explanations and conspiracies to my own internal plottings and reimaginings of a “realistic” superhero world. It is interesting to see where our ideas intersect, and more interesting to see where they diverge.

  10. Calculating... says:

    i have always loved union dues stories, even the really depressing ones. i loved this one, i always felt that superheros let their fame go to their heads, no matter who they are.

    i vote for more union dues!

  11. Rio2k says:

    I love UD stories…except for the previous one. This is a redeemer.

  12. scatterbrain says:

    Probably the best Union Dues yet if I’m very much mistaken–all the best to DeRego in his current situation.

  13. Hannes Engelbrecht says:

    Definitely starting to become one of those die-hard Union Dues fans. I hope Mr. DeRego makes it through recovery ready to feed our hungry imaginations with more of the UD canon.

  14. […] “Union Dues—Tabula Rasa” by Jeffrey R. DeRego (read by Stephen Eley), a superhero loses his memory. As he finds out […]

  15. Blaine Boy says:

    I was here for the last Escape Pod episode and I can’t believe how amazing similar these two pieces are. (I’ve been listening for a long time now and finally decided I could say my piece just to say it.) It’s all about illusion and memory and identity. It gets scary when you don’t know who YOU are any more. Again angsty teen-ness and V for Vendetta/1984/Brave New World. We have that one inch of ourselves that we must never lose or give up for any reason. We must never give it up. What if that inch is taken from you forever? Who or what are you then? If you lose your identity, are you really the same person, or has a new person been born? Losing who and what you are should scare you to the core… If you aren’t frightened at all by that notion either you need serious counseling or you don’t know who you really are. No offense to those people who might fall under that category. Anyways, thank you for letting me rant without trying to silence me. It feels good to know I can fit in to some society. (This goes to all the ‘Scapers out there.)

  16. Raving_Lunatic says:

    I liked this story a lot, probably because I have a certain (connection? link? belief? fascination?) with the idea of being erased, destroyed as a person. That does scare me rather a lot.

  17. Aranya says:

    This is the last time I disobey General Eley.
    I had been ignoring the UD series, because I suspected that I would hate it, but I heard this one as a last resort …

    and ended up listening to the whole UD series in one go, twice.

    Oh my god, DeRego, you are awesome coated in amazing and served with a cold side of mind-blowing.

  18. Really interesting title. It seems like Cap had an amnesia. Time to listen to the story.