PodCastle 451: Or Be Forever Fallen

by A. Merc Rustad

read by Curtis C. Chen

First published in Issue 49 of InterGalactic Medicine Show in February 2016.

Rated PG-13.

The raven’s ghost follows first. It’s not a surprise, if I’m honest. I killed a raven once–intentional, cruel–some time ago. (I don’t remember why.) At first I saw it in the distance while I prowled the ruins of the once-majestic forest, hunting the men who robbed me. Yet the ghost never approached until now.
It perches on a petrified tree stump. The light from the campfire shimmers against its glossy feathers, blood etching razor-edged plumage. It should be indistinguishable in the night, banked in shadow. I only know it’s a ghost from the hollows of its missing eyes, how its shape bends in unnatural directions at the corners of my sight.

“I’ve naught for you.” I say it to the knives laid out on oiled canvas before me.
The raven’s ghost makes no sound. Its unnatural muteness tightens the muscles in my neck. Ghosts are never silent. Death is neither gentle nor kind.

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Picture of Author A. Merc RustadA. Merc Rustad is a non-binary writer who lives in the Midwest United States. Favorite things include: robots, dinosaurs, monsters, and tea. Their stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, Apex, Escape Pod, Shimmer, Cicada, with reprints included in The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2015, Wilde Stories 2016, and Transcendent 2016. Merc likes to play video games, watch movies, read comics, and wear awesome hats. You can find Merc on Twitter @Merc_Rustad or their website: amercrustad.com.

Picture of Narrator Curtis C. Chen

Once a Silicon Valley software engineer, CURTIS C. CHEN now writes speculative fiction and runs puzzle games near Portland, Oregon. His debut novel WAYPOINT KANGAROO is a science fiction spy thriller about a super-powered secret agent facing his toughest mission yet: vacation. The sequel, KANGAROO TOO, will be out in June of 2017.

Curtis’ short stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, MISSION: TOMORROW, and the 2016 YOUNG EXPLORER’S ADVENTURE GUIDE. He is a graduate of the Clarion West and Viable Paradise writers’ workshops. You can find Curtis at Puzzled Pint Portland on the second Tuesday of most every month.

You can find Curtis online at curtiscchen.com and on Twitter @curtiscchen.

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PodCastle Submissions Reopening

Travel between the worlds is again possible—our submissions portal has appeared once more! It wants your best fantasy tales, so if you have a short story you’d like us to read, please take a look at our guidelines then visit our submissions portal to submit. We accept both original fiction and reprints under 6,000 words.

We’re looking forward to reading your work.

Best,

Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali and Jen R. Albert, PodCastle Co-Editors

and the editorial team

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PodCastle 450: Bonsai

by Shaenon Garrity

read by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

A PodCastle Original!

Rated PG.

Uterine cancer, the doctor is saying, and the world ends. Stage Four. That means advanced. It means bad. Your arms and legs and throat go numb. All you can hear is his question, looping: when was your last exam? You can’t remember. Not that it matters now.

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Picture of Author Shaenon GarrityShaenon K. Garrity is a cartoonist best known for the webcomics Narbonic and Skin Horse. Her prose fiction has appeared in publications including Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Escape Pod, Drabblecast, and the Unidentified Funny Objects anthologies. She lives in Berkeley with a cat and two men of varying sizes.

You can find Shaenon online at www.shaenon.com, and on Twitter @shaenongarrity. She also has a Patreon site at patreon.com/Shaenon.

Picture of Khaalidah Muhammed-AliRead by your new PodCastle co-Editor, Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali!

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PodCastle 449: Piety, Prayer, Peacekeeper, Apocalypse

by Rati Mehrotra

read by Stephanie Morris

A PodCastle Original!

Rated PG-13.

Soru Khara had been hunting her death for many years before she arrived at the crumbling old port of Tyron. She camouflaged her skimmer and stalked up to the rusty gates as the sun set over the citadel, the fishy tang of the sea sharp in her nostrils. The smell of childhood – the smell of things best left buried. It was why she usually avoided ports. This time, though, she had no choice. She was to deliver a letter, like a common messenger. She had not questioned the inanity of her assignment. One did not question the Voice of the Star Emperor; one merely obeyed it.

“Halt!” Crossed spears barred her way into the passage under the city walls. A man with the insignia of the Umnia falcon stepped up to her. “No one enters the city between sunset and sunrise.”

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Rati Mehrotra lives and writes in lovely Toronto. Her short stories have appeared in AE—The Canadian Science Fiction Review, Apex Magazine, Urban Fantasy Magazine, and many more. Her debut novel “Markswoman” will be published in early 2018 by Harper Voyager. You can find her online at her website, ratiwrites.com and on Twitter @Rati_Mehrotra

Picture of Stephanie MorrisStephanie Morris is a professional fangirl by day and the lone library assistant staffing a college circulation desk at night. She has narrated short stories for PseudoPod, PodCastle, EscapePod, Cast of Wonders, and StarShipSofa, guest-blogged on subjects ranging from book recommendations to zombie turkeys, and performed Shakespeare in a handful of weird churches. Until she suppresses her inner perfectionist enough to create a website, you can find her on Twitter at @smaliamorris.

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