Archive for October, 2011

PodCastle 180: We Were Wonder Scouts

Show Notes

Rated PG

We Were Wonder Scouts

by Will Ludwigsen

My parents, Father especially, had little interest in the imagination. “Why would you read things that someone else made up?” he always wanted to know. We had no books of fiction in the house or a radio, and I didn’t have many toys.

What I had was Thuria, and it was better. In the shadowy crawlspace beneath my house where only I could fit, I built a kingdom out of discarded sardine tins, thread spools, and cereal boxes. A wide boulevard wound between four hills to a colander capitol dome. There, King Wemnon and his twenty wise councilors benevolently discussed and executed their national affairs. Sometimes they called the men to arms to repel giant invading animals, usually the neighbor’s cats. Often, they built elaborate fortifications along the frontier to defend against the evil Count Pappen and his massing armies. At least once, they sent lone heroes across the dusty wasteland to rescue poor Princess Annabella from the Tower of Eternal Woe.

A strange sensation of stretched time would overtake me when I visited Thuria, started by a sort of whispering trance, and I could perform whole epochs of its development in just a few stolen moments before dinner. Have you ever felt that way? It’s a feeling of total absorption, the kind that seems to hum and fizz against the edges of your brain.

PodCastle Miniature 66: The Witch’s Second Daughter

Show Notes

Rated PG

The Witch’s Second Daughter

by Marissa K. Lingen

The flowers of the forest outside the witch’s cottage bloomed black, with little shiny purple leaves.  The villagers tried to say the blossoms themselves were deep purple, not a true black, but Garren was the second daughter of a witch, schooled from birth that she must never, never call things what she knew they were not.

Telven, Garren’s older sister, had the other half of the witch’s training, and that was to always, always call things what she knew they were not.  Telven called an carven oak a man and made of him a husband, who was solid and dependable though not, perhaps, as swift as some.  She called a cave a home, and made it cozy and neat, though she could not keep cheese in it more than two days for the mold.  She called their mother wise and listened to her council.

The way of the second daughter was harder.

PodCastle 179: The Gateway of the Monster (Featuring Carnacki)

Show Notes

Rated R

The Gateway of the Monster (Featuring Carnacki)

by William Hope Hodgson

“Two days later, I drove to the house, late in the afternoon. I found it a very old place, standing quite alone in its own grounds. Anderson had left a letter with the butler, I found, pleading excuses for his absence, and leaving the whole house at my disposal for my investigations. The butler evidently knew the object of my visit, and I questioned him pretty thoroughly during dinner, which I had in rather lonely state. He is an old and privileged servant, and had the history of the Grey Room exact in detail. From him I learned more particulars regarding two things that Anderson had mentioned in but a casual manner. The first was that the door of the Grey Room would be heard in the dead of night to open, and slam heavily, and this even though the butler knew it was locked, and the key on the bunch in his pantry. The second was that the bedclothes would always be found torn off the bed, and hurled in a heap into a corner.

“But it was the door slamming that chiefly bothered the old butler. Many and many a time, he told me, had he lain awake and just got shivering with fright, listening; for sometimes the door would be slammed time after time – thud! thud! thud! – so that sleep was impossible.

“From Anderson, I knew already that the room had a history extending back over a hundred and fifty years. Three people had been strangled in it – an ancestor of his and his wife and child. This is authentic, as I had taken very great pains to discover, so that you can imagine it was with a feeling that I had a striking case to investigate, that I went upstairs after dinner to have a look at the Grey Room.

“Peter, the old butler, was in rather a state about my going, and assured me with much solemnity that in all the twenty years of his service, no one had ever entered that room after nightfall. He begged me, in quite a fatherly way, to wait till the morning, when there would be no danger, and then he could accompany me himself.

“Of course, I smiled a little at him, and told him not to bother. I explained that I should do no more than look around a bit, and perhaps affix a few seals. He need not fear; I was used to that sort of thing. But he shook his head, when I said that.

“‘There isn’t many ghosts like ours, sir,’ he assured me, with mournful pride. And, by Jove! he was right, as you will see. “

PodCastle 178, Giant Episode: Braiding the Ghosts

Braiding the Ghosts

by C.S.E. Cooney

That first year, when Nin was eight, she wanted her mother so desperately. But Noir was dead, she was dead, and would always be dead, thanks to Reshka.

Reshka liked to say, “I’m not above keeping ghosts in the house for handmaids and men-of-all-work. There must be ghosts for sweeping, for scrubbing, ghosts for plunging the toilets or repairing the roof, ghosts to fix the swamp cooler and to wash and dry the dishes. But,” said Reshka, “but I will be damned—I will be damned and in hell and dancing for the Devil—before I summon any daughter of mine from the grave.”

So Reshka had Noir cremated three days after her death. Afterward, she prepared the funeral feast in Noir and Nin’s small apartment kitchen.