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PodCastle 604: No Mercy to the Rest

Show Notes


No Mercy to the Rest

by Bennett North

Sadie parked in the lee of Castle Inferno, where she would be spared from the wind, and sat while the engine ticked, trying to convince herself to let go of the steering wheel.

The castle stood stark against the sky, dark stone walls leaching the saturation from the blue. One tower was burned out and soot-streaked. No sign of repair. Was Dr. Inferno hard up for cash or did fresh tarmac interfere with the mad scientist aesthetic?

Sadie grabbed the swinging St. Christopher medal from the rearview mirror and squeezed it. “Keep an eye on me, Gemma,” she said. “This is for you.”

The stairs that hugged the foundation ended at a pair of wooden doors set into a stone arch that had to be thirty feet tall. Sadie ducked into the corner of the arch, out of the wind, and pressed the plastic doorbell button.

Something heavy thunked inside, then one of the doors opened enough for a woman to lean out. She was white, with frizzy, graying hair, a Red Sox T-shirt, and jeans.

“Sadie Jones?” the woman asked, looking her up and down.

“That’s me,” said Sadie. “I’m looking for an . . . Igor?” (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 603: Copy Cat

Show Notes

Rated PG-13 for cunning felines and strong language.


Copy Cat

 K. A. Teryna and Alex Shvartsman

Imagine a Russian cat. Not just any Russian cat, but a cat from Leningrad.

Those who claim passing familiarity with Russian literature might imagine a cat straight off the pages of Pushkin or Bulgakov. An eloquent cat, dispensing folk wisdom while chained under an oak tree, or schmoozing the Moscow intelligentsia at parties, probably in a soothing baritone. But those are fictions, lofty lullabies from literary luminaries. In real life, cats don’t recite fairy tales or ride the tram. In real life, cats don’t talk.  (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 602: Franken-Puppy

Show Notes

Rated PG-13, for revivified urges and the joys of transgression.


Franken-Puppy

By Derek Künsken

In the third yard, the puppy darted a suspicious look back at its tail. Then, as if remembering what he’d been doing, he swung his head forward, panted, and sat in the grass. Beyond the ratty picket fence, patched skyscrapers stood in the hazy blue distance like uneven teeth. The puppy delighted himself with a high bark. The red bricks of the house behind him were re-mortared, but straight. The puppy’s tail thumped the ground. He lay down, rolled onto his back, then looked at her, barking as his tail resumed thumping. Child fingers — some bright pink, others brown, sewn with tiny stitches to a strong dark hand — brushed wonderingly at the soft fur before wriggling and tickling.

“Who’s a good boy?” Francesca said.

The puppy stretched, then playfully wrapped his paws over her wrist and nipped at the tough skin with teething canines. Francesca giggled and yanked her hand away. The puppy yipped and followed her fingers, his swinging tail swaying his whole body. Two skinny arms, scarred and mismatched, lifted and hugged him. Her brown hair brushed the top of the puppy’s head. The puppy wriggled a bit, his tail stilling. One arm was across his belly and one was under his snout. He struggled uncertainly, his mouth opening wide.

“I love you sooooo much!” Francesca said, eyes closed, cheek against the softness of his head as she hugged him with all the love in her revivified heart. A snap sounded and the puppy stopped struggling. She loosened her grip. The puppy was limp.

“Mommy!” Francesca wailed.

“Oh no!” her mother said from the kitchen doorway. “Francie, I told you to be careful with real puppies! Dennis! It happened again!” (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 601: A Thousand Tongues of Silver

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


A Thousand Tongues of Silver

By Kate Heartfield

I am a book. My pages are purple.

This is how they made me. First, they flayed the calves, stretched and scraped their wet skins. Then they mixed lichen and leaves, rotted in human urine, to mimic the purple that comes of torturing sea snails to force the desperate spew of sedative. Soaked my pages in all that stink until they turned the colour of violence.

Then I was ready to receive the quill. Letters of suspended silver ink, with plenty of copper to prevent tarnish.

Why silver, you may ask?

Well, look how beautifully it shines against the purple. Isn’t that reason enough? It was reason enough for Amalasuintha. She didn’t question it. (Continue Reading…)