Archive for November, 2011

PodCastle 185: This Strange Way of Dying

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia.
read by Marguerite Croft.
Originally appeared in GigaNotoSaurus. Read it here!

Georgina met Death when she was ten. The first time she saw him she was reading by her grandmother’s bedside. As Georgina tried to pronounce a difficult word, she heard her grandmother groan and looked up. There was a bearded man in a top hat standing by the bed. He wore an orange flower in his buttonhole, the kind Georgina put on the altars on the Day of the Dead.

The man smiled at Georgina with eyes made of coal.

Her grandmother had warned Georgina about Death and asked her to stand guard and chase it away with a pair of scissors. But Georgina had lost the scissors the day before when she made paper animals with her brother Nuncio.

“Please, please don’t take my grandmother,” she said. “She’ll be so angry at me if I let her die.”

“We all die,” Death said and smiled. “Do not be sad.”

He leaned down, his long fingers close to grandmother’s face.

“Wait! What can I do? What should I do?”

“There’s not much you can do.”

“But I don’t want grandmother do die yet.”

“Mmmm,” said Death tapping his foot and taking out a tiny black notebook. “Very well. I’ll spare your grandmother. Seven years in exchange of a promise.”

“What kind of promise?”

“Any promise. Promises are like cats. A cat may have stripes, or it may be white and have blue eyes and then it is a deaf cat, or it could be a Siamese cat, but it’ll always be a cat.”

Georgina looked at Death and Death looked back at her, unblinking.

Rated PG.

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PodCastle 184: Black Swan, White Swan

by Eugie Foster
Read by Abra Staffin-Wiebe.
Originally Appeared in End of an Aeon.


Concentric circles lap beneath the dock’s wooden planks. A swan floats out, its shining plumage driving the water’s void back.

“There’s a man across the way.” The swan fixes Delia with polished onyx eyes. “Sometimes he’s a lighthouse and sometimes he’s a train, but silence doesn’t scare him.”

Delia stares at the luminous bird. “I don’t want a lighthouse or a train,” she says.

“Sometimes he’s a shelter in the rain.”

Delia studies the ripples that pass through the water’s surface in the swan’s wake.

“Don’t shut the door, it puts walls around you.” The swan dips its beak. “Call me the ocean, and I’ll change with the moon. You look right through me, but I can see the end of the storm.”

“Stop it.”

“Across the way there’s a man who holds questions without asking. A little peace of heart to guard with a stone wall,” the swan says. “Or a piece of heart guarded by stone walls. Let me in, and we can sing for nights.”

“Go away.”

The swan warbles, a musical wow-wo-ou. The wild cry startles Delia, and she takes a step back. Her foot catches on a knot jutting from the weathered planks; she unbalances, arms pinwheeling. As she tips into the icy lake, the swan takes wing, arrowing into the sky with a sweep of white feathers.

Black arms fold her to a black breast; the cold locks her lungs shut as water weights her limbs. Delia fights the embrace, even as she acknowledges her relief.

Rated R for language, sex.

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PodCastle 183: The God-Death of Halla

by Tina Connolly

Read by Jen Rhodes (of the Anomaly Podcast)*

Originally Published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Read it here!

Halla got halfway out the window, stolen brooch in hand, and then the dizzies hit.

She swore as the world rocked around her. She kicked off the sandstone wall by instinct and thumped to the ground. The gold plate stuffed down her shift knocked her ribs and all her breath whooshed out. She gasped like a fish in the humid air.

Voices.

Halla stumbled over the cut stone and clover of the landowner’s garden. Her breath rushed back with loud wheezes and she flung herself into the ubiquitous bamboo groves dividing one house from the next. A bamboo leaf sucked into her mouth and she spat.

Once her family had been guests at this very house. Her father, one of the elite liaisons between the landowners and the holy, had been deeply honored…and feared. Halla had sat on that very bit of stone in a starched white shift, praying that she wouldn’t disgrace herself. But that was ten years ago and several classes above. That memory wouldn’t save her fingers if she were caught this morning.

The landowner was a heavy woman, whose flesh swung through the gaps in her chiton as she thudded around the side of the house. Two maids trailed her. “I heard someone!” she panted. “Search the house!”

Rated PG. Contains violence and God-Deaths.

*Jen Rhodes is one of the hosts of Anomaly, an award winning sci-fi and fantasy podcast. Jen and her co-host Angela, have two goals for every episode they produce; to have fun and to offer a feminine perspective on all things geek. Recently, Anomaly has evolved into a community comprising two shows (Anomaly and Anomaly Supplemental), a successful blog, and a growing forum. You can find them online at anomalypodcast.com.

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PodCastle 182: 起狮,行礼 (Rising Lion — The Lion Bows)

by Zen Cho.
Read by Tracey Yuen.
Originally appeared in Strange Horizons.

Coco had been with the troupe for six years. She had never been their official president because she preferred not to deal with technicalities; it gave her more time to actually lead the troupe.

“Are Mr. and Mrs. Yu around?” she said.

It was Mr. Yu who had emailed them to ask if they would perform at a Christmas party that was being held at his hotel. It was a new hotel and this was the first big event they were hosting, so he was willing to pay them a generous fee. They had agreed that the troupe would perform before and after dinner. There were also going to be fireworks, and a disco.

Sensibly, Mr. Yu and Mrs. Yu had stayed indoors, but they were very hospitable when the cold dishevelled troupe poured into the lobby.

“We’ve got Chinese food, Chinese decorations, lanterns, fireworks,” said Nick. “It’s all been done up to theme. The company does a lot of business out in China, so they were very keen when we suggested a China night. When we heard about you we thought, well, that’s ideal! We’re so pleased you could make it all the way out here.”

“Very pleased,” said Mr. Yu in English. In Cantonese, he said: “_The ghost is in the upstairs cupboard._”

“Thank you, we’re looking forward to it,” said Coco to Nick. To Mr. Yu: “_What kind of ghost is it?_”

Mr. Yu hesitated.

Rated PG.

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