Archive for December, 2010

PodCastle 137: The Beautiful Coalwoman

Show Notes

Rated PG

The Beautiful Coalwoman

by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud. Translated by Edward Gauvin

“Sire, if it pleases you to take your rest here, this house is yours.”

“Thank you, old man. Heaven will be grateful for your hospitality toward its humble servant, for I am a Christian knight.”

The old man crossed himself at once. In school, Maxence had been taught the how to pay his way in the coin of word. The oldest of the children reappeared, ewer in hand.

“My thanks, boy. Tell me, would you know how to look after my steed?”

The boy gazed at his grandfather without answering.

“Of course he does, sire!” said the old man. “Off you go—you know where fodder can be found, and make sure you give the horse a good rubdown!”

The boy walked toward the horse. Maxence told him he could ride it instead of leading it to fodder. The boy smiled at last. Maxence plunged the ewer into the spring’s fresh water.

“It’s good water, it is, sire,” the old man said. “It’s kept me in good health for seventy years, it has!”

“Upon my word, seventy years! It must be good indeed—you seem quite sprightly still!”

On hearing these words, the old man couldn’t keep from contorting his face in a grin. Maxence saw he would have food and shelter tonight for a trifle.

PodCastle 136: The Christmas Mummy

Show Notes

Rated G

Happy holidays to all of you from all of us at PodCastle!

The Christmas Mummy

by Heather Shaw & Tim Pratt

Trish led Nate from the room, into the hall — their parents’ door was closed — and onto the stairs. She could hear someone moving down there. Trish crept down the carpeted steps. The only light in the living room came from the bright Christmas tree. Even the yule log in the fireplace had burned down.

Two men, dressed in black pajamas with their faces covered, were tying a big red ribbon around a crate that was bigger than the couch.

“Ninjas?” Trish whispered to her brother.

Christmas ninjas,” Nate said.

One of the ninjas pulled up his mask a little and ate one of the cookies they’d left for Santa. He drank the milk, too, leaving a white mustache on his ninja mask when he pulled it back down over his mouth.

PodCastle 135: California King

Show Notes

Rated R: Contains violence, language, drug use, and Dave Thompson singing.

California King

by Michael J. Jasper and Greg van Eekhout

Our hero, a scrawny, bristle-haired man, softly sings a song he wrote when he was fifteen as he gives himself a new tattoo. He no longer remembers the verses, but the chorus goes something like: “Nyah-nyah, fuck-fuck, I’m the king, nyah-nyah, fuck-fuck.” Even after all these years, he finds the hook sort of catchy. His raspy tenor smoothes and deepens as he embeds dozens of carefully-spaced puncture wounds into his skinny right arm with his long, sharp knife, stealing the voice of the unconscious man upon whom he sits.

This will not be a big tattoo, we realize, for the real estate on our hero’s right arm has become quite crowded. Someday soon he’ll have to move on to his unmarked left. As he rubs a hanky soaked with berry dye and coal dust into the bloody dots, we watch a thin line of red trickle from the mouth of the motionless, waxy-skinned man beneath him. We see the scuffs and the ruined soles of our hero’s black boots, so recently applied against the skull of the man under him. But what we cannot see is what his tattoo will be. At least not yet.

We call this man, our hero, the California King.

PodCastle Miniature 57: Apex

Show Notes

Rated PG: Contains riddles


by Lauren M. Roy

Bronze-plated dragons with snapping shrapnel teeth guarded the landings. Those who weren’t eaten faced a wind-up Sphinx that spat out ticker-tape riddles. She hated it when they answered incorrectly; the Sphinx’ broken voice-recorder played back their dying screams for hours, until she went out and gave it a kick.