Archive for March, 2011

PodCastle 150: Mister Hadj’s Sunset Ride

by Saladin Ahmed.
Read by Cheyenne Wright.
Originally appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Issue # 43.

The toughest man I ever met? That’s an easy answer to give, but a tricky tale to tell.

Mister Hadj was from the same place as my rattlesnake of a Pa. Araby, or someplace like, though I don’t rightly know the name since neither him nor my Pa ever said a blasted word about the Old Country. You’d ask and ask, and all you’d get back was a look as hard as rocks. No use digging after that.

I’ve ridden with good men and bad men, but I never rode with a man like Mister Hadj. That wasn’t his proper name. Just a way of calling the old man respectful-like. My Pa taught me that, if I ever met a man from the Old Country, to call him ‘Hadj.’ Damn near the only thing that sonuvabitch ever taught me.

Rated PG.

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 149: Honing Sebastian

by Elizabeth Engstrom

Read by Kane Lynch

Originally Published in Outsiders

Sebastian found the paper sack at 0217 hours on Monday, the sixteenth of Aout, the day of our Lord Hammersmith 12. He saw it in the corner of the doorway of an old apothecary, and made note of all the details in his journal before he approached it.

He expected it to be empty, something blown there from the other world, but when he touched it, he could tell it had weight. He made note of that in his journal, along with the words that were printed in green on its side. The words made no sense to him, but he copied them as exactly as he was able.

Then he looked inside the sack, and the terror seized him. He cringed, hunkered down over the sack, expecting to hear sirens. He expected the great hands to grab him, rough fingers bruising him, lifting his bony body off its feet and carried by burly, faceless, hairy creatures in blue to throw them into a caddy and land him on concrete with four walls.

Rated R: Contains Adult Themes and Some Strong Language

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle Miniature 60: Cranberry Honey

by Amal El-Mohtar

Read by Marguerite Croft

Originally Published in The Honey Month

There is fire in his wrists, fire in his walk, fire beneath his fingernails. He is red, redder than rowan berries, for rowan doesn’t bleed as cranberries do, and it is cranberries that he gathers and stews and crushes, cranberries in which he steeps his skin.

It is not white, he says, that is pure. It is not black. It is red, because it moves, it changes, and it keeps itself always. It is not static as fossilized wood, not delicate as new-fallen snow. When red seeks to be its truest self, it is in motion. It fears no change.

He has shrugged at Paracelsus, at Tarot cards, at accusations of devilry. Red is his religion. He squeezes berry juice onto his eyelids, swallows it nine times a day. He wants the redness to spill from him like a scent, that sleeping creatures might dream in garnet tones.

Rated R: Contains Adult Themes. And Lots of Red

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 148: State Change

by Ken Liu.
Narrated by Heather Welliver.
Originally appeared in Polyphony 4.

When Rina’s soul finally materialized, the nurse in charge of watching the afterbirth almost missed it. All of a sudden, there, in the stainless steel pan, was an ice cube, the sort you would find clinking around in glasses at cocktail parties. A pool of water was already forming around it. The edges of the ice cube were becoming rounded, indistinct.

An emergency refrigeration unit was rushed in, and the ice cube was packed away.

“I’m sorry,” the doctor said to Rina’s mother, who looked into the serene face of her baby daughter. No matter how careful they were, how long could they keep the ice cube from melting? It wasn’t as if they could just keep it in a freezer somewhere and forget about it. The soul had to be pretty close to the body; otherwise the body would die.

Nobody in the room said anything. The air around the baby was awkward, still, silent. Words froze in their throats.

Rated PG.

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 147: Card Sharp

by Rajan Khanna.
Narrated by Wilson Fowlie of the Maple Leaf Singers.
Originally appeared in the anthology Way of the Wizard edited by John Joseph Adams.

He reached into his pocket and withdrew the Seven of Diamonds. The card flared like phosphorous in his hand, then disappeared in a wisp of smoke. He felt an ephemeral film coat his body. He moved from his hiding place behind some trees and moved down the walkway and to the ramp leading up to the riverboat.

He could feel the stares of the riverboat guards on him, even though he knew they could not see him. Using the Seven of Diamonds might have been overkill, but better safe than sorry. Still, his neck hair prickled at the idea that at the moment, their rifles could be trained on him, preparing to fire.

He made for a small washroom near the center of the main deck. As he approached it, the riverboat’s great paddlewheel began to move, churning the water in a great roar. With a lurch, the riverboat began to move, taking Roland Ketterly and his men down the Mississippi.

Quentin slipped through the washroom door, taking care to close it quietly and minimize his noise. Whatever concealment the first card had provided was visual alone.

Rated PG.

Discuss on the forums.

Narrator Drive Update

Hey all – Dave Thompson here again.

First, I wanted to say a very Big THANK YOU to everyone who Signal Boosted our call for narrators. We’ve had a pretty decent amount of narrators send in their auditions, and I’ve listened to just about all of them.

To those of you who have sent in an audition: THANK YOU. I’m kind of astounded by how good you all sound, and I’ll be with you shortly – hopefully in the next few days, if not sooner.

If you are still planning on sending in a narration: awesome. We can’t wait to hear you!

Finally, we’re still looking for African American readers, and specifically for a guy who can do a passable Lousiana/Creole accent. (Although that’s not a dealbreaker.) So if you’re up for the challenge, please email us at

Thanks again!

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 146, Giant Episode: The Surgeon’s Tale

by Cat Rambo and Jeff VanderMeer.
Read by Graeme Dunlop.
Originally appeared in Subterranean Press. Read the text here!

Down by the docks, you can smell the tide going out–surging from rotted fish, filth, and the briny sargassum that turns the pilings a mixture of purple and green. I don’t mind the smell; it reminds me of my youth. From the bungalow on the bay’s edge, I emerge most days to go beach-combing in the sands beneath the rotted piers. Soft crab skeletons and ghostly sausage wrappers mostly, but a coin or two as well.

Sometimes I see an old man when I’m hunting, a gangly fellow whose clothes hang loose. As though his limbs were sticks of chalk, wired together with ulnar ligaments of seaweed, pillowing bursae formed from the sacs of decaying anemones that clutter on the underside of the pier’s planking.

I worry that the sticks will snap if he steps too far too fast, and he will become past repair, past preservation, right in front of me. I draw diagrams in the sand flats to show him how he can safeguard himself with casings over his fragile limbs, the glyphs he should draw on his cuffs to strengthen his wrists. A thousand things I’ve learned here and at sea. But I don’t talk to him–he will have to figure it out from my scrawls when he comes upon them. If the sea doesn’t touch them first.

He seems haunted, like a mirror or a window that shows some landscape it’s never known. I’m as old as he is. I wonder if I look like him. If he too has trouble sleeping at night. And why he chose this patch of sand to pace and wander.

I will not talk to him. That would be like talking to myself: the surest path to madness.

Rated R.

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle is powered by WordPress with theme Greenery / XHTML · CSS

Site design by JustinBrooke Design