PodCastle 223: Five Bullets on the Banks of the Sadji

by Keffy R.M. Kehrli.
read by Rajan Khanna.
Originally appeared in the anthology River, edited by Alma Alexander.

My city is at the fork of two rivers, where the Sadji, river of my people, flows into the Koretl, a river that brings the rest of the world to us, brings empire to us, brings new spices and fabrics and magics to us, and flows away with our old selves, shed like snakeskin on the banks.

Sadji water runs thick with silt; it is the same red-brown as clay and the four unripe cocoa beans that my younger brother, Naje, brought to us from the north. Naje is dead now, dead of five bullets, one for each of the Northern Houses, the past-due payment earned by traitors.

The Koretl is a deep and sodden green, the color of glaciers tempered by the additions of a hundred southern rivers, each devoured by the hungry waters until they run as one. My older brother, Esha, said the color of it was more beautiful than the Sadji. He is also dead now, having caught a fever from the sick men he tended.

And now I am the last surviving brother, too violent to heal and too soft to fight, fishing from Sadji’s waters with my hands gone calloused from the nets.

Rated R for violence.