Archive for October, 2008

PodCastle Miniature 19: Cask of Amontillado

By Edgar Allen Poe
Read by Cheyenne Wright

I said to him –”My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking to-day. But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts.”

“How?” said he. “Amontillado, A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!”

“I have my doubts,” I replied; “and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain.”

“Amontillado!”

“I have my doubts.”

“Amontillado!”

“And I must satisfy them.”

“Amontillado!”

“As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me –”

“Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry.”

“And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.

“Come, let us go.”

“Whither?”

“To your vaults.”

Rated R. Happy Halloween.

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PC031: Colin and Ishmael in the Dark (Corrected)

By William Shunn
Read by MarBelle (of Director’s Notes)

The fifth of our Halloween features, continuing through October 31.

In the total darkness, the incessant _drip! drip!_ of limewater on stone was the only sound to be heard. Steady as the beating of a heart, ceaseless as the motion of the stars, that sound filled the darkness, fed the darkness, _became_ the darkness. It stitched the seconds together loosely into minutes, the minutes into long ragged hours, and the hours into great tattered sheets that flapped like ghosts in an unseen wind, leaving behind only gray threads of time to mark their passage as
they unraveled. In all of creation there was only dripping water, and beyond the reach of its echoes the world no longer existed.

This changed only twice a day, when metal ground harshly against metal and the bolt sprang back from the rusted lock with the sound of a crossbow quarrel being loosed. This particular
day began like every other–the resonant creak of the hinges, the crushing reverberation as the door slammed shut, the tread of steel-toed boots crossing the damp stone floor and then pausing. “Breakfast, Ishmael,” said a voice worn into a sing-song by the repetitiveness its daily routine.

“Just put it there on the settee, will you?” This dry voice spoke wryly and precisely.

Rated R. Dark as an oubliette.

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PC031: Colin and Ishmael in the Dark (Incomplete)

By William Shunn
Read by MarBelle (of Director’s Notes)

Due to an error, the file was not included with this post.

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PodCastle Miniature 18: Scar Stories

By Vylar Kaftan.
Read by Jack Mangan (of Jack Mangan’s Deadpan).

The fourth of our Halloween features, which will be continuing through October 31.

We’re mixing punch when he asks us about scars.

“Everyone has at least one,” our guest says. “They’re always good stories, too.”

Rated R. A touch of horror.

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PC030: Grand Guignol

By Andy Duncan
Read by Frank Key (of Hooting Yard).

The third of our Halloween features, which will be continuing through October 31.

…today he brought me a sack of eyeballs of which, before God, not one was usable. Stress? Love? Syphillis? Who can say? I am saddened beyond speculation.

The instant I hefted the sack, I knew. A director senses these things. Yet to appease Charles, I dutifully hefted each eyeball, rolled it in my fingers, inspected it, flung it to the floor. Not one bounced — not one! Smack, smack, smack, like so many eggs. They surrounded my desk, gazing up at my shame.

Rated R. Contains gore, gross-outs, and eyeballs.

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PodCastle Miniature 017: All Flee the Vocab. Quiz

By Kristine Dikeman
Read by Alasdair Stuart
First appearance here, in PodCastle

An Escape Pod flash fiction contest submission.

She was about 12, maybe a little younger. It’s not so easy to tell with kids, especially girls. This one looked normal enough, pink puffy coat, blond hair up in a scrunchy thing, vinyl backpack with a cartoon character — an anthropomorphic block of ice — plastered across the side. She moved down the aisle of the lurching bus with the ease of a career sailor and plopped herself down next to me.

Pulling out a pack of well-thumbed index cards, she stripped off the rubber band and held them tight in both hands, staring hard, lips moving with grim concentration. Vocab quiz. I could almost hear the electric impulses zapping through her gray matter as she tried to soak in the knowledge before she reached school. Her lips moved softly as she repeated the words to herself.

I peeked over her shoulder.

    eviscerate

Rated PG. Contains Lovecraftian references, and three dollar words.

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PC029: Dead Languages

By Merrie Haskell
Read by M. K. Hobson

“I have a confession,” Annabel said, steering the car into the snow-dusted mall parking lot. “I have involved us in a crazy scheme.

“Oh?” I asked, suddenly alert to my get-away options. Crazy schemes and Annabel had been getting me into trouble since I was six, when she convinced me to steal all the crayons from the art room to melt into a giant ball of wax.

“I’ve gotten you the lead in an independent short film.”

“What?” I shrieked. I admit: not my witty best, but I was trying to be discreet in wrapping my fingers around the door handle and calculating the car’s speed.

Annabel locked the car and smiled with a vague and friendly sort of evil. “There’s no need to thank me.”

Rated PG. Contains vampires, ass-kicking, and hijinx.

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UPDATE: Several listeners were kind enough to point out that there were errors in today’s audio file. A revised file has been uploaded, as of 11:10 pm ET, Oct 17, 2008.

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PodCastle Miniature 015: The Voices of Snakes

By Karina Sumner-Smith
Read by Rachel Swirsky

At last the viper stirred, woken by his brethrens’ twisting and whispering. Rising, he said slowly, softly, “Yes, beautiful. Let us see the sun.”

He was the oldest, the largest and the cruelest, and from the very first day the mere sound of his voice had made her feel cold. Once he had tormented her, taunted her with words far crueler than the grass snake could ever utter; her ears and the line of her jaw, the curves of her shrunken breasts, still bore the scarred marks of his teeth and the memory of his venom.

She had endured decades of his abuse — decades thinking that she deserved such treatment — and then fought back in the bloody decades that followed. He was immune from her great weapon, but she’d found he had no escape from her temper, her teeth or her claws. They had a truce now, their enmity tempered by centuries together. Beautiful, he still called her, and she allowed him the entertainment of this tired mockery.

Rated PG. Contains serpents and Greek mythology.

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PC028: The Tanuki-Kettle

By Eugie Foster
Read by Tina Connolly
Introduction by M. K. Hobson
First appeared in Cricket Magazine.

As she opened the door, Hisa was surprised to see an iron kettle sitting on her step. It had a large, round belly and four stumpy legs. The spout was wide and curved like a fox’s mouth with two round, black eyes above it. And most curious, a pair of pointed triangles jutted from the top, exactly like a pair of ears.

“What an unusual teakettle.” Hisa looked, but there was no one about.

She set aside her broken pot and brought the new, iron one inside. She poured sweet, cool water into it. Where her old kettle took eight dippers of water, this new one required a full twelve to fill.

Hisa stoked the fire high and lifted the kettle to the hook.

“Mistress, I thank you for the drink, but please don’t put me on the fire.”

Hisa spun around, sloshing water on the floor. “Who said that?”

“It was I, mistress. The teakettle.”

Hisa stared at the iron pot in her hands. “Teakettles do not talk.”

“I’m only pretending to be a teakettle.”

Rated G. Contains objects and animals that refuse to remain in their platonic categories.

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PodCastle Miniature 014: The Fable of the Octopus

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

Once, deep down under the sea, down with the starfish and the sting rays and the conger eels, there lived an octopus who wanted to see God.

Octopi are among the most intelligent creatures in the sea, and shyly thoughtful as well, and this particular octopus spent a great deal of time in profound pondering and wondering. Often, curled on the deck of the sunken ship where he laired, he would allow perfectly edible prey to swim or scuttle by, while he silently questioned the here and the now, the if and the then, and — most especially — the may and the mightwhy.  Even among his family and friends, such rumination was considered somewhat excessive, but it was his way, and it suited him. He planned eventually to write a book of some sort, employing his own ink for the purpose.  It was to be called Concerns of a Cephalopod, or possibly Mollusc Meditations.

Rated G. Contains philosophical meanderings.

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