Archive for December, 2011

PodCastle 189: Limits

Show Notes

Rated PG


by Donna Glee Williams

When did Len first see how far the path would take her son? No Far Walker had been born in Home Village for many years. But everyone knew Shreve Far Walker, from Third Village Down, who often passed through as she carried loads between High and Low. When nightfall caught her near Home Village, she would stay over, taking dinner and giving back news. She wasn’t by nature a talkative person, but she understood the duties of a guest. Len would crowd with the others to hear Shreve’s account of the Far Villages.

So Len had some notion of the life of a Far Walker, though her own range was a modest seven villages. When Cam began to show unusual aptitude for climbing high and descending very low, she wondered. Like all parents, Len had observed Cam closely from his earliest tottering steps as he followed her to First Village Up. She had shared discreet smiles with the other parents as their young ones tried on the new costume of adulthood to see how it would fit them, daring each other to range ever farther from Home Village on spurious errands

There would be a jaunt proposed, a clamor of assent, and a rush like a group of startled goats when Cam and his friends hurried off. No packing or planning was needed as they carried no real loads and it was understood that they would stay in whatever village they were closest to when night fell. Families who housed a youth from another village tonight knew that their own children would find food and a pallet where they needed it tomorrow, and the balance would be kept.

PodCastle 188: The Ghost of Christmas Possible

Show Notes

Rated PG

The Ghost of Christmas Possible

by Tim Pratt and Heather Shaw

I was asleep: to begin with.

The hour was just before midnight on Christmas Eve when a ferocious knocking woke me from my slumber. My first muddled thought, or rather hope, was that some specter or spirit stirred beneath the cramped rafters of my newly rented accommodations. Such a prospect aroused in me no little excitement — for though I am well versed with the actions and habits of apparitions, ghosts, and hauntings of all sorts, I have always had to seek out such extraordinary creatures in situ, as it were, and their attentions had never been initially directed toward me. I thought immediately of the incident of the Knocking Well, when I helped lay to rest the unquiet spirit of a lost child in Somerset, and so I leapt to my feet and pulled on my dressing gown to begin my investigation. I followed the sound of knocking, now ever more ferocious, through the corridor and down the narrow stairs.

Alas, it soon became clear the knocking was of an entirely ordinary sort, attributable to some visitor pounding upon my front door — though the lateness of the hour did suggest some manner of emergency or alarm. When I opened the door, a wild-eyed creature, with a ghostly white aura about his head and loose robes that flapped wildly in the wintry winds, forced his way inside, and I reconsidered my assumption that he was a mortal man. I had certainly never encountered an apparition polite enough to knock — however vigorously — before entering, and when he spoke, I was crushed by the mundane quality of his voice, which possessed none of the eerie harmonics I associated with those few spectral beings who deigned to speak.

“Mr. Hodgson, I presume? I have immediate need of your services, man!”

He was a frightened old man, and I was acquainted with such; I had met the terrified, the dread-filled, and the desperate over and over during my researches into the occult.

PodCastle 187: Ties of Silver

Show Notes

Rated R for some strong language and violence.

Ties of Silver

by James L. Sutter

Harris always found me when I was at my worst. Not that it was particularly difficult — the way I figured it, I’d been at my worst for going on three years, and if there was reason to expect a change, nobody had clued me in.

In this case, I was sleeping off an evening of hard drinking and harder words, the latter contributing to the egg-sized knot on the back of my head. Turned out folks in the skin bars didn’t take kindly to a fur running his mouth, blueskin or otherwise. There was no way to tell how much of my headache had come from the bruise, and how much had been the brew.

Still, I was at my desk when Harris arrived. I may have been half-drunk, worked over, and counting each heartbeat as it lanced through the back of my skull, but I was no deadbeat.

“Jesus, Terry,” he said. “You look like hell.”

“At least I have an excuse,” I replied. “What’s yours? And don’t call me that.”

Harris sighed and seated himself in the only other chair. He was middle-aged and balding, with the soft cheeks of a man who’d never lost his baby fat, just converted it. His uniform was drab brown save for the full moon insignia on the shoulder, and his gut hung over his gun belt as if trying to hide it.

“Jackson, then,” he said. “But the observation stands. I heard you got thrown out of O’Meara’s last night.”

“It’s still a free city. I can get thrown out of any bar I want.”