Archive for April, 2009

PC050: Komodo

by Tim Pratt.
Read by Cat Rambo.

I hadn’t cultivated a new lover in many months — the last one had fulfilled all my wishes and, as he’d requested, was now living happily at the bottom of a local river, slowly decaying into the bottom-mud and learning the languages of fish and pollution. In another hundred years or so, if the river didn’t dry up entirely, he might become a minor river god. Kasan had appeared just in time. I had certain things to accomplish over the course of the next month, and the energy that came with a new lover could serve well to fuel those endeavors.

“Want to come upstairs for a while, Kasan?” I asked. I’m beautiful. I’m desirable. I know how to sense when a potential partner is interested. I can say these things with no particular pride, because such powers require relatively small magics to achieve. People seldom say no to me. I never compel anyone to make love to me — such mental domination is possible, but it’s also essentially rape, and cannot be condoned. I entice my lovers with beauty, and bring them back again and again by giving them the best sex they’ve ever had. There’s no magic to that, just years of experience and sensitivity to the needs of my lovers. I am good at what I do. Sex is my vocation and my devotion.

Rated R. Contains sexy sorceresses (explicit).

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PC049: Return of the Warrior

By Laird Long.
Read by Alasdair Stuart (of Pseudopod).

In the Province of Sull, in the Kingdom of Ronn, all seemed right with the world – the potters potted, the sculptors sculpted, the painters painted, and the scriveners did whatever their name implies. For Sull was home to the kingdom’s artisans, a colorful colony of creative cranks who used well their artistic endowments, for satisfaction of the soul, and sale. And they toiled truly and profitably.

But beneath the placid, pleasant exterior of the province and the people, lay a seething resentment bubbled to near-surface boil by the erratic, practicality-impaired nature of the creative personality, and the indolence of a King who listened not to ill-formed complaints some two hundred leagues removed. A prickly current of unrest sparked and shocked the citizenry, for many held the opinion that the provincial governor, the Wizard Kadil, was in no uncertain terms fudging the books, collecting taxes beyond what the law allowed. And though the people of Sull claimed to be moved primarily by muse, so, too, were they moved by a love of the good, old, gold stuff.

Rated PG. Contains the inevitability that all we Americans had to deal with scant days ago.

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PodCastle Miniature 30: Rotations and Consequences

by Katherine Sparrow.
Read by Rachel Swirsky.

Dear people of the world,

Here is something that happened that you should really know about. That you need to know about. I know because I saw it. There was a woman who walked into her backyard. The grass beneath her bare feet was wet and cold, but she knelt and lay down upon it with her palms pressed into the ground and her legs spread wide. She touched as much of it as her finite body was able to. In her fenced- in yard, in the subdivision of her suburb, underneath the faint stars, she closed her eyes. I saw her.

Rated PG. Contains flight.

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PC048: “I’ll Gnaw Your Bones,” the Manticore Said

by Cat Rambo.
Read by Elizabeth Green Musselman.

There is a tacit understanding between a beast trainer and her charges, whether it be great cats, cunning dragons, or apes and other man-like creatures. They know, and the trainer knows, that as long as certain lines aren’t crossed, that if certain expectations are met, everything will be fine and no one will get hurt.

That’s not to say I didn’t keep an eye on Bupus, watching for a twitch to his tail, the way one bulbous eye would go askew when anger was brewing. A beast’s a beast, after all, and not responsible for what they do when circumstances push them too far. Beasts still, no matter how they speak or smile or woo.

At any rate, Bupus felt obliged to maintain his reputation whenever another wagon or traveler was in earshot.

“Gnaw your bones,” he rumbled, rolling a vast oversized eyeball back at me. The woman he was trying to impress shrieked and dropped her chickens, which vanished in a white flutter among the blackberry vines and ferns that began where the road’s ground stone gave way to forest. A blue-headed jay screamed in alarm from a pine.

Rated PG. Contains some violence, and a number of circus creatures.

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PC047 Giant Episode: Bright Waters

by John Brown.
Read by Wilson Fowlie.

He looked at their leg tattoos. Mohawk. One of the Iroquois tribes. Well, he couldn’t kill them then.

Not that he’d want to. They were, after all, just boys. Still, Indian boys weren’t like the lads back in Rotterdam. It had been small Abenaki lads, just like these, that tried to take his scalp the first year as a trapper. He’d killed them all with the blood flowing down the side of his face and a chunk of his scalp flapping about like a wig.

And so he’d need to be ready. Hunting knives hung from the belts at their waists. But none carried a war club. Only one held a bow.

Jan sneaked back the way he had come and then up and around in front of them so that the boys would walk right up the trail into him. The path bent around a hill where the river willow grew thick. He waited for them there.

He withdrew rope and a knife from his pack. He couldn’t kill them, but he could tie them up and scare them into good Christian men.

Rated R. Contains some violence, some “adult situations,” and some fun battle scenes.

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PodCastle Miniature 29: Birthday Wish

By Tina Connolly.
Read by Grammar Girl.

Mrs. Lemons stroked her son’s hair. “Joshua is very mature,” she said. “He’s not like those other ten-year-old boys.”

“Of course,” said Mrs. Dumpling. “My Benji is an angel, too. Benji, stop kicking their cat. Isn’t Joshua’s cake lovely?”

“Yes,” agreed Mrs. Lemons. “We’re so excited for his wish. We’ve talked of nothing else for months. Joshua, stop eating those candles. It will be perfect.”

Rated PG. Contains ten-year-old boys, and thusly some gross-out humor.

This piece won an honorable mention in the Escape Pod flash fiction contest for stories under 300 words.

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PC046: Secret Life

by Jeff VanderMeer.
Read by Paul Tevis.

A vision of the building from on high: five glittering floors surrounded by a dull concrete parking lot. To the west lay a forest. To the east, the glint of a shopping mall, substantial as a mirage. To the north, highways and fast food restaurants. To the south, a perpetual gloom through which could be seen only more shadow.

The building housed hundreds of people. They worked day and night, as relentless and constant as the seasons. The first four stories lay open to all, but no one could visit the fifth floor without a special key. Few had ever seen the roof.

The stairs were used for emergencies only. Some of the elevators clanked and groaned. Some of the elevators, quiet and smooth as ghosts, rose and fell with limitless grace.

Most inhabitants of the building, even the janitors in the basement, it was rumored, preferred the noisy elevators. When the quiet elevators reached the first floor, a scream could sometimes be heard, as of an animal trapped and then crushed beneath their feet. The screams might continue for several minutes. No one knew what kind of animal it was, or how it came to be trapped there.

Rated R. Contains an office which in turn contains despair which in turn contains hope.

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