PodCastle 197: Destiny, With a Blackberry Sauce

by David J. Schwartz

Read by Daniel Foley

Originally published in Strange Horizons. Read the story here.

During my brother Mel’s final test to become a guard, he performed a flourish with his halberd and cut off his left foot. You wouldn’t think it was possible to slice your own foot clean off while you’re standing on it, but he managed. He says that he didn’t really feel any pain at first, but he did feel the tendon in his leg rolling up like a window shade.

My parents were mortified. My dad just set his jaw like he does when he can’t yell at us right exactly then, and my mom covered her eyes. Me, I watched the whole thing. There was a lot of blood, and of course Mel was screaming—they say you’re not supposed to, that it makes a bad impression on the test officers, but I’m pretty sure I would have, too. Then the healer came over and made an incision in the back of my brother’s leg. He reached in and found the tendon where it had gone into hiding and pulled it down to where it belonged, chanting the entire time. Mel was screaming a lot louder by then. Five minutes later the foot was reattached. It’s pretty much as good as it ever was, but Mel still has nightmares about the pain.

Not that I’m the least bit sympathetic. If you ask me, he did it on purpose.

Rated R: Contains violence and prophecies

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