Archive for February, 2009

PodCastle 41: Dragon Hunt

By Sarah Prineas
Read by Wilson Fowlie

The king shrugged. “What news do you bring us from West Cornhold?”

The peasant fell to his knees on the rush-covered floor before the high table. “Your Majesty, it is a dragon!” He dropped his hat to gesture widely with his hands. “We-we’ve seen it, My Lord! Huge it is, breathing great gobs of fire, shining in the sun, flying over our fields and houses, sharp c-claws, teeth, and–“

“Silence!” Prickett shouted. In a sharp voice, he continued. “To talk of dragons, sirrah, living ones, in the court of King Kenneret Death-of-Dragons, is to talk treason. It cannot be a dragon.”

The peasant stared. “It bloody well is a dragon,” he shouted, climbing to his feet, spittle flying from his lips. “Claws! Wings, great wide wings, like sails! Stealing sheep, and–“

“That’s enough,” ordered the counselor.

“–And goats!” the headman added.

Well. There was going to be trouble. The court held its breath and stared at his Royal Majesty. Someone was for the headsman’s axe.

Rated G. Contains dragons, knights, and deputy archivists.

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PC040: Hell Is the Absence of God – PodCastle Giant

By Ted Chiang
Read by James Trimarco

It was an unexceptional visitation, smaller in magnitude than most but no different in kind, bringing blessings to some and disaster to others. In this instance the angel was Nathanael, making an appearance in a downtown shopping district. Four miracle cures were effected: the elimination of carcinomas in two individuals, the regeneration of the spinal cord in a paraplegic, and the restoration of sight to a recently blinded person. There were also two miracles that were not cures: a delivery van, whose driver had fainted at the sight of the angel, was halted before it could overrun a busy sidewalk; another man was caught in a shaft of Heaven’s light when the angel departed, erasing his eyes but ensuring his devotion.

Neil’s wife Sarah Fisk had been one of the eight casualties. She was hit by flying glass when the angel’s billowing curtain of flame shattered the storefront window of the café in which she was eating. She bled to death within minutes, and the other customers in the café — none of whom suffered even superficial injuries — could do nothing but listen to her cries of pain and fear, and eventually witness her soul’s ascension toward Heaven.

Nathanael hadn’t delivered any specific message; the angel’s parting words, which had boomed out across the entire visitation site, were the typical Behold the power of the Lord. Of the eight casualties that day, three souls were accepted into Heaven and five were not, a closer ratio than the average for deaths by all causes. Sixty-two people received medical treatment for injuries ranging from slight concussions to ruptured eardrums to burns requiring skin grafts. Total property damage was estimated at $8.1 million, all of it excluded by private insurance companies due to the cause. Scores of people became devout worshipers in the wake of the visitation, either out of gratitude or terror.

Alas, Neil Fisk was not one of them.

Rated R. Contemplates existential issues.

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