PodCastle 330: DRINK ME (A Flash Fiction Extravaganza)

Presenting an Intoxicating and Delicious Flight of Fantasy Fiction for Listeners with Discerning Palettes! Please indulge in the following tastes:

“The Wine,” by M.C. Wagner
read by C.S.E. Cooney
A PodCastle Original!

It’s always the wine.  A glass at my elbow, or a servant tottering after, stoppered flask in hand.  Marvelous…  rich and dark or light and fruity by the season.  I could subsist on it alone, although I am always in place at the royal banquets, sneaking ladylike bites… and there’s the fruit of the orchard, clipped with slivered shears as I wander those primrose paths.

“I Wrung it in a Weary Land,” by Kenneth Schneyer
read by Dave Thompson
A PodCastle Original!

The tiny interior was cool, smelling of earth and the first hint of mildew.   Bottles lined the walls floor to ceiling; a few I recognized — a 55-year-old Macallan or a 2009 Chateau Margaux — but most were strange and whimsical, garnet or cobalt glass with labels that might have been Icelandic or Tibetan.  A single lamp on the far counter granted just enough light for me to read them if I got close.

“The Forgetting Shiraz,” by E. Lily Yu
read by John Chu
Originally published in the Boston Review. Read it here!

I had always found it strange that in a world as advanced as ours, in an age when we shot men to the moon and mapped the planets around alien suns, we still lacked a true anodyne. Alcohol’s soft fog burns off by morning, at best, and at worst holds a magnifying glass to what we try to forget: her name, her voice, her face, her smell. Nor do we have surgeries precise enough to slice off specific memories. Whatever form it took, chemical, neurological, or psychological, the inventor of the anodyne would be rich in a blink, and the journalist who broke the story would never want for assignments again.

“The Rag Man Mulls Down the Day,” by Amal El-Mohtar
Read by Marguerite Croft
A PodCastle Original!

At the edge of the world is a rag-man, a thin man, a man wisped in grey, with a great iron pot and an even greater stick. Morningtimes he leans on his stick and watches the light change, watches it flood your sky with fire and heat. But before it can get too hot, before it can burn your cheeks to a ruddy cinder, he raises his stick, tilts the sky-pan just so, and coaxes the great slow pour of it all into his iron pot.
 
While it gathers there, he mulls it.

“Behemoth Brewing and Distribution Company,” by Tim Pratt
read by Dave Thompson, Roberto Suarez, Mur Lafferty, Graeme Dunlop, M.K. Hobson, and Cheyenne Wright
Originally published in the Fortean Bureau

Brewery tours available by appointment only.

Rated PG. Contains alcohol. Lots of alcohol. But no hangovers.

Music for “Sasquatch’s Old Hairy Bastard Stout,” “Aztec Nectar Ale,” & “Giant Whale Ale” provided by DocWood, music available at  CD Baby  and Amazon.
Music for Angelic Effluvia Lager, Lo! Calorie Light Beer, and Deathly Pale Ale composed and recorded by Peter Wood, more music at  http://soundcloud.com/livingtheliminal

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PodCastle 329: Araminta, or, the Wreck of the Amphidrake

by Naomi Novik

Read by C.S.E. Cooney

Originally published in Fast Ships, Black Sails, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Lady Araminta was seen off from the docks at Chenstowe-on-Sea with great ceremony if not much affection by her assembled family. She departed in the company of not one but two maids, a hired eunuch swordsman, and an experienced professional chaperone with the Eye of Horus branded upon her forehead, to keep watch at night while the other two were closed.

Sad to say these precautions were not entirely unnecessary. Lady Araminta—the possessor of several other, more notable names besides, here omitted for discretion—had been caught twice trying to climb out her window, and once in her father’s library, reading a spellbook. On this last occasion she had fortunately been discovered by the butler, a reliable servant of fifteen years, so the matter was hushed up; but it had decided her fate.

Her father’s senior wife informed her husband she refused to pay for the formal presentation to the Court necessary for Araminta to make her debut. “I have five girls to see established besides her,” Lady D— said, “and I cannot have them ruined by the antics which are certain to follow.”

(Lest this be imagined the fruits of an unfair preference, it will be as well to note here that Araminta was in fact the natural daughter of her Ladyship, and the others in question her daughters-in-marriage, rather than the reverse.)

“It has been too long,” Lady D continued, severely, “and she is spoilt beyond redemption.”

Rated PG. Contains Pirates.

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PodCastle 328: The Old Woman With No Teeth

by Patricia Russo
Read by Wilson Fowlie and M.K. Hobson (PodCastle’s Sons of Buttery Thunder)
Originally published in Clockwork Phoenix 4, Edited by Mike Allen.

When The Old Woman With No Teeth decided to have children, she didn’t go about it in the usual way.  Well, really, what else could you expect from The Old Woman With No Teeth?   If she ever did anything the usual way, even boiling a pot of water, the world might start spinning widdershins on its axis.
 
“Now you just stop that.  I can read perfectly well, you impudent ragger.  Set down what I told you, and don’t believe all the stories you’ve heard about me.”
 
There are many stories about The Old Woman With No Teeth, but people should not believe all of them.  The most popular one is that she wore away her teeth by chewing a tunnel to the six-sided world.  Nobody knows if this story is true.  Many people have looked for the passageway she is supposed to have gnawed through reality, but none of the venturers have managed to pinpoint it.
 
“None of the ones who’ve come back, you mean.  Silly bastards.”
Rated PG.

 

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PodCastle 327: The Telling

by Gregory Norman Bossert

Read by Cian MacMahon

Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue #109, November 2012. Read it here.

Mel peered around Cook’s hip as the butler stepped out of the master bedroom and carefully shut the door. Pearse stood for a minute, one pale hand still on the glass knob, the other unconsciously stroking his neckcloth smooth. Mel thought the hallway seemed lighter, as if the butler had closed all the darkness in the house behind the heavy oak door. The entire staff of the House was there, lining the two long walls of the hall, even Ralph the gardener and Neff who turned the roast and would on any other occasion be beaten if found upstairs. Pearse looked up then, eyes worn to a pale sharpness under heavy white brows, and Mel leaned back into the cover of Cook’s wide flank, safety from the butler’s gaze, from the strangeness of the moment.

“Lord Dellus has passed,” Pearse said; the staff gasped and sighed, as if they had not known already from the cries that had haunted the house since evening last and had stopped so suddenly this morning. “Stopped without an echo,” Cook had said with heavy significance, and added, “That’s that, then,” as she did when a loaf went flat or a bird slipped from the spit to the ashes.

There had been no sighs then; the staff had exchanged weary nods and worried glances in the silence of a House without a head. And there had been a few curious glances toward Mel’s spot on the corner stool that had left Mel wondering what one was meant to feel, and if that dizzy burst of relief and fear was evident, was evil.

Rated R. Contains Disturbing Imagery, some of it sexual.

About the Author: Gregory Norman Bossert is an author, filmmaker, and musician, currently based just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.

He spent twenty years doing sound design and music at night, while his career in the software industry took him from his native Cambridge, MA to Minnesota, Manhattan, New Jersey, Silicon Valley, and Berlin.

A decade ago, his passions overwhelmed his day job.  Since then, he’s done research, design, and layout for feature films including the Neil Gaiman/Roger Avary adaptation of Beowulf, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and Luc Besson’s Lucy, built experimental musical instruments, and worked on creating visuals and sounds for independent films.  He currently works as a layout artist for Industrial Light & Magic, wrangling spaceships and monsters.

Greg started writing in 2009, on a dare from film designer Iain McCaig.  His first published story came out Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine in 2010, and he attended the legendary Clarion Writers’ Workshop that same year.  Since then he has published a dozen stories, branched out to fantasy and horror, won the World Fantasy Award, and been a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.  Look for upcoming stories from Asimov’s, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Kaleidotrope.

Samples of his writing, videos, and music can be found on his websites:  www.suddensound.com and www.gregorynormanbossert.com.

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