Archive for December, 2008

PodCastle Miniature 25: Through the Cooking Glass

by Vylar Kaftan
Read by Julie Davis (of Forgotten Classics)

The smell of gingerbread wafted through the small kitchen, across the pictures of her grandkids and the newly-hung pine wreath. Mrs. Wallace tried to remember if she’d added anything different to the dough. Butter, flour, molasses–the usual. With curiosity, she peered through the window again. The gingerbread man had woken the girl cookie next to him. “Oh, how sweet,” Mrs. Wallace said out loud. “They’re playing Garden of Eden.” It was easy to imagine the soft cookies as innocent lovers. She watched as the cookies kissed. Then the boy cookie stood behind the girl cookie in an extremely non-Baptist manner. “Oh, my!” exclaimed Mrs. Wallace. She blushed and went to tidy up the sink.

When she returned, the rest of the gingerbread people had woken. They were hunting a gingerbread mammoth across the cookie sheet. Some of them had primitive buttons at their waists. Their flesh had firmed into a pale golden brown. “Oh!” exclaimed Mrs. Wallace, delighted by the sight.

A glance at the clock reminded her that Call to Prayer would come on the television shortly. She switched it on, but continued to watch the gingerbread people. They were wonderful entertainment. They had just started to build shelters, which pleased Mrs. Wallace because they took their private relations indoors. She was quite glad she’d made both boy and girl cookies. She didn’t like the idea of a cookie Sodom.

Rated PG. Contains the wafting smell of gingerbread.

Happy holidays!

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PC037: Gordon, the Self-Made Cat

by Peter Beagle
Read by Barry Deutsch.

One evening, when Gordon was only a few weeks old, his next-to-eldest sister was sent out to see if anything interesting had been left open in the pantry. She never returned. Gordon’s father shrugged sadly and spread his front paws, and said, “The cat.”

“What’s a cat?” Gordon asked.

His mother and father looked at one another and sighed. “They have to know sometime,” his father said. “Better he learns it at home than on the streets.”

His mother sniffled a little and said, “But he’s so young,” and his father answered, “Cats don’t care.” So they told Gordon about cats right then, expecting him to start crying and saying that there weren’t any such things. It’s a hard idea to get used to. But Gordon only asked, “Why do cats eat mice?”

“I guess we taste very good,” his father said.

Gordon said, “But cats don’t have to eat mice. They get plenty of other food that probably tastes as good. Why should anybody eat anybody if he doesn’t have to?”

Rated G. Contains talking animals.

Please visit the thread on this story in our forums.

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PodCastle Miniature 24: Intelligent Design

by Ellen Klages
read by M. K. Hobson

God cocked his thumb and aimed his index finger at the firmament.

Ka-pow! Pow! Pow! A line of three perfect glowing pinpoints of light appeared in the black void. He squeezed his eyes almost shut and let off a single shot. Ping! The pinprick of light at the far edge of the firmament, just where it touched the rim of the earth, glowed faintly red.

Rated G. Contains whimsy.

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PC036: Ancestor Money

by Maureen McHugh
read by Diane Severson

Rachel put off opening it, turning the envelope over a couple of times. The red paper had a watermark in it of twisting Chinese dragons, barely visible. It was an altogether beautiful object.

She opened it with reluctance.

Inside it read:
 

Honorable Ancestress of Amelia Shaugnessy: an offering of death money and goods has been made to you at Tin Hau Temple in Yau Ma Tei, in Hong Kong. If you would like to claim it, please contact us either by letter or phone. HK8-555-4444.

There were more Chinese letters, probably saying the same thing.

“What is it?” Speed asked.

She showed it to him.

“Ah,” he said.

“You know about this?” she asked.

“No,” he said, “except that the Chinese do that ancestor worship. Are you going to call?”

Rated PG. Contains versions of the afterlife.

Related Links:

Listen to or buy Diane Severson’s CD Silence

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PC035: Winter Solstice

By Mike Resnick.
Read by Chris Furst.

Once I knew all the secrets of the universe. With no more than a thought I could bring Time to a stop, reverse it in its course, twist it around my finger like a piece of string. By force of will alone I could pass among the stars and the galaxies. I could create life out of nothingness, and turn living, breathing worlds into dust.

Time passed—though not the way it passes for you—and I could no longer do these things. But I could isolate a DNA molecule and perform microsurgery on it, and I could produce the equations that allowed us to traverse the wormholes in space, and I could plot the orbit of an electron.

Still more time slipped away, and although these gifts deserted me, I could create penicillin out of bread mold, and comprehend both the General and Special Theories of Relativity, and I could fly between the continents.

But all that has gone, and I remember it as one remembers a dream, on those occasions I can remember it at all. There was—there someday will be, there may come to you—a disease of the aged, in which you lose portions of your mind, pieces of your past, thoughts you’ve thought and feelings you’ve felt, until all that’s left is the primal id, screaming silently for warmth and nourishment. You see parts of yourself vanishing, you try to pull them back from oblivion, you fail, and all the while you realize what is happening to you until even that perception, that realization, is lost. I will weep for you in another millennia, but now your lost faces fade from my memory, your desperation recedes from the stage of my mind, and soon I will remember nothing of you. Everything is drifting away on the wind, eluding my frantic efforts to clutch it and bring it back to me.

Rated PG. for possibly disturbing content. Contains winter, loss, and fading images of the present.

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