PodCastle 117: The Wages of Salt

by Deborah Kalin

Read by Rashida Smith

Originally Published in Postscripts

Squatting to examine a buried shadow, I nodded. There was no academic or scientific value in salt — it would not advance my thesis, nor bring any glimmer of knowledge about the theriomorphs — but it would sell. White gold, the economic cornerstone of New Persia.

I brushed at the crust. Dirty grains clung to the sweat of my palms. The shadow underneath, too clean-edged to be a phantasm, didn’t change. “Here,” I said. “Help me.”

“It’ll just be another ammonite.” But he knelt and set to scraping beside me.

My fingers touched cloth.

I jerked back, staring at the dark linen we’d uncovered. Suspicion lifted the hairs on my nape and I dug faster, harder, in danger of damaging the specimen with haste.

An arm emerged from the salt. Beside me, Hareem had uncovered a knee. Working feverishly now, we followed the contours, salt flying from our fingers, until the entire body lay bare to the sky.

Hareem let out a low whistle. “Now this,” he said, “will fetch a fiefdom.”

Rated R
: Contains Violence and Gore