PodCastle 97: Smokestacks Like the Arms of Gods

Show Notes

Rated R because those unionbusters don’t play around, and they might just be genuine bloodsuckers.


Smokestacks Like the Arms of Gods

by Ben Burgis

At the time, it was pretty exciting stuff. The flaming torches on the tunnel walls as me and half a dozen of my fellow inductees rushed to the ceremony. The older guys who’d known my Da all standing around and beaming down at me as I pricked the drop of blood from my fingertip and pledged eternal loyalty to my fellow workers. Then the singing of the Anthem of the Red Flag and my first taste of whiskey.

Raise the scarlet standard high,

Beneath its folds we’ll live and die…

I knew Guilds weren’t exactly legal, but everyone still seemed to be in one. I’d heard some talk of Guilds sabotaging machinery when conditions got really bad, even walking off the job. In the excitement of the induction ceremony, I didn’t realize just yet that Guilds didn’t do that sort of thing any more.

In our grandfathers’ era, they might have gone on strike. Now that the companies have smartened up and started using drinkers instead of regular humans for plant security, we pretty much drink whiskey and hold induction ceremonies and sing. Good jaunty song, though, real nice beat to it.

Let cowards flinch and traitors sneer,

We’ll keep the red flag flying here…

About the Author

Ben Burgis

Ben Burgis is a graduate of Clarion West, and he has an MFA in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast program in Maine. He writes speculative fiction and realist fiction and grocery lists and Facebook status updates and academic papers. (He has a PhD from the University of Miami, and currently holds a post-doctoral fellowship at Yonsei University in South Korea.) His work has appeared in places like Podcastle and GigaNotoSaurus and Youngstown State University’s literary review Jenny. His story “Dark Coffee, Bright Light and the Paradoxes of Omnipotence” appeared in Prime Books’ anthology People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy.

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About the Narrator

Ben Phillips

Ben Phillips is a programmer and musician living in New Orleans. He was a chief editor of Pseudopod from 2006-2010.

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