Archive for September, 2008

PC027: Red Riding-Hood’s Child

By N. K. Jemisin.
Read by Rajan Khanna.
Introduction by Rachel Swirsky.
First appeared in Fishnet Magazine.

Once upon a time in a tiny woodland village there lived an orphan boy. As his mother had been less than proper in her ways — she died unwed, known well to several men — the villagers were not kindly-disposed toward the tiny burden she left behind. They were not heartless, however. They reared young Anrin with as much tenderness as a child of low breeding could expect, and they taught him the value of honest labor so that he might repay their kindness before his mother’s ways took root.

By the cusp of manhood — that age when worthier lads began to consider a trade and marriage — Anrin had become a youth of fortitude and peculiar innocence. The villagers kept him at arms’ length from their homes and their hearts, so he chose instead to dwell within an eccentric world of his own making. The horses and pigs snorted greetings when he came to feed them, and he offered solemn, courtly bows in response. When the villagers sent him unarmed into the forest to fetch wood, he went eagerly. Alone amid the dappled shadows he felt less lonely than usual, and the trees’ whispers were never cruel.

Indeed, Anrin’s fascination with the forest was a source of great anxiety to the old woodcutter’s widow who boarded him at nights. She warned him of the dangers: poison mushrooms and hidden pitfalls and choking, stinging ivies. And wolves, of course; always the wolves. “Stay on the path, and stay close to the village,” she cautioned. “The smell of men keeps predators away… most of the time.”

Rated X. Contains sex and wolves.

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PodCastle Miniature 013: The Fable of the Ostrich

By Peter S. Beagle
Read by Stephen Eley (of Escape Pod)

Once upon a time, in a remote corner of Africa, there was a young ostrich who refused to put his head in the sand at the slightest sign of danger.  He strolled around unafraid, even when lions were near, cheerfully mocking his parents, his relations, and all his friends, every one of whom believed absolutely that their only safety lay in blind immobility.  “It makes you invisible, foolish boy!” his father was forever shouting at him in vain.  “You can’t see the lion — the lion can’t see you!  What part of Q.E.D. don’t you understand?”

Rated G. Hakuna matata.  (Except for ostriches.)

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PC026: Black Ribbon

By Dawn Albright.
Read by Heather Welliver.
Introduction by Rachel Swirsky.
First appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine.

The woman measured three drops of poison into the milk and then poured the milk into the first baby’s bottle. She picked up the first baby, the twin wearing the black ribbon.

“Hush, sweetheart, hush,” she said, as she fed the baby girl the poisoned milk. The baby made a face at first, like she wanted to spit the cloth nipple out, but then she tasted the milk and drank everything in the bowl.

The woman gave the baby one of the last kisses she would ever feel and then she picked up the sister, the baby wearing the red ribbon, and fed her pure milk. The nurse wore no gloves, but in a few weeks she couldn’t touch the black-ribboned baby without protection.

Rated R. Contains poison and prostitutes. May not be suitable for the young or immature.

Intro Links:

Chasing the Bard by Phillipa Ballentine
Heather Welliver’s band The Shillas

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PC025: Anywhere There’s a Game

By Greg Van Eekhout.
Read by Benjamin Manoochehri.
Introduction by Rachel Swirsky.
First appeared in Realms of Fantasy.

I got a call from Sports Illustrated yesterday. They’re doing one of those sidebar pieces where they ask guys to name their starting five, the best basketball players they ever shared a court with. “You don’t want that,” I told the kid on the phone. “I was in the NBA for seventeen years. I could tell you about guys like Lon McGee, who wore one pair of sneakers his entire career, held together with tape and glue and sheer will-power. Or Pig-Iron Von Ziegler, who smelled like machine oil and whose joints screeched like a stepped-on cat by the end of his career. The best? Who cares about the best? Why settle for the best when I can give you the most remarkable?”

The kid thanked me politely, but he told me that wasn’t what he needed for his piece. He’d talk to his editor, though, and mention my idea to him. He’d get back to me.

Well, I’m not going to live forever, and I can’t wait for his editor. I’ve got tales to tell, and I’ve got to tell them while I’m still kicking. So here it is, my starting five. Not the most talented guys I’ve ever played with, but instead, the dirt workers and edge cases and oddballs and sideshow escapees. These are the guys that I’ll never forget. These are the characters.

Rated PG. Contains locker room talk (and bouncing balls).

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