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.

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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

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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

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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.

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