Read by Alasdair Stuart (of Pseudopod, Escape Pod, and Many Other – Possibly All – Good Things)
A PodCastle Original!
The continuation of the race is of course the first and highest priority of those privileged to be born into the ancient family of Vachash-Troer, and I, Slale Vachash-Troer, am so privileged. As a male, I am unable to perpetuate the family name, but one still likes to promote connections to other families of similarly distinguished ancestry, connections that, so I’m told, increase the wealth and influence of our noble line.
Still, I had a distinct lack of enthusiasm for it when Aunt Eone tried to marry me off.
Rated PG. Contains pigs and marriages (or at least, attempts at marriages)
Editor’s Note: Due to some technical errors, we’ve removed the original file. We’ll correct it, and repost it tonight.
Editor’s Note 2: An updated file has been posted. Enjoy Bacon!
My tangled hair does not impede desire. My excavated belly, loose sagging skin, does not make her avert her eyes. Her fingers touch the scars of birth and do not shy away. Her mouth closes over the coldness of my skin and does not spit it out.
I am a ghost, and she does not mind.
There is a thing in the cradle I rock, a lump of flesh, stained in my fluids. This is what killed me. A parasite that took all my food, stole all my breaths, until one day I woke up to find my heart stopped.
It was cold and growing colder, and the moon was rising, and Hell was nowhere to be found. Comrade Blotsky and Comrade Lvov were quarreling bitterly.
“Dunce! You’ve read the compass wrong, as always!”
“I didn’t read the compass wrong! Commander Tchernov said we mustn’t trust the map! Blockhead!”
This had been going on for quite some time. While they quarreled, the sky had faded from ice-blue to bruise-purple, and the moon had risen cold as a ball of clenched snow. Dark pooled in low hollows beneath the ink-stroke birches and shadows moved within the frosty mist. Stag-like shapes that moved like men.
Rated R: Contains Soldiers, War, Devils, and Hell.
I’m going to tell you a story about llamas. It will be like every other story you’ve ever heard about llamas: how they are covered in fine scales; how they eat their young if not raised properly; and how, at the end of their lives, they hurl themselves – lemming-like- over cliffs to drown in the surging sea. They are, at heart, sea creatures, birthed from the sea, married to it like the fishing people who make their livelihood there.
We at PodCastle are very proud to present a little piece of extra fantasy non-fiction. We don’t know how often we’ll present essays to you, but this one felt like it was worth doing something we haven’t really done before. We hope it challenges you. We hope it inspires you. We hope it makes you think. As always, thank you for listening.
(And don’t worry – We’ll have a fantasy fiction story for you in the next few days!)