Archive for October, 2012

PodCastle 232: Skulls in the Stars

by Robert E. Howard.
Read by Norm Sherman (of the Drabblecast).
Originally appeared in Weird Tales, January 1929.


There are two roads to Torkertown. One, the shorter and more direct route, leads across a barren upland moor, and the other, which is much longer, winds its tortuous way in and out among the hummocks and quagmires of the swamps, skirting the low hills to the east. It was a dangerous and tedious trail; so Solomon Kane halted in amazement when a breathless youth from the village he had just left, overtook him and implored him for God’s sake to take the swamp road.

“The swamp road!” Kane stared at the boy. He was a tall, gaunt man, was Solomon Kane, his darkly pallid face and deep brooding eyes, made more sombre by the drab Puritanical garb he affected.

“Yes, sir, ’tis far safer,” the youngster answered to his surprised exclamation.

“Then the moor road must be haunted by Satan himself, for your townsmen warned me against traversing the other.”

“Because of the quagmires, sir, that you might not see in the dark. You had better return to the village and continue your journey in the morning, sir.”

“Taking the swamp road?”

“Yes, sir.”

Kane shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.

“The moon rises almost as soon as twilight dies. By its light I can reach Torkertown in a few hours, across the moor.”

“Sir, you had better not. No one ever goes that way. There are no houses at all upon the moor, while in the swamp there is the house of old Ezra who lives there all alone since his maniac cousin, Gideon, wandered off and died in the swamp and was never found–and old Ezra though a miser would not refuse you lodging should you decide to stop until morning. Since you must go, you had better go the swamp road.”

Kane eyed the boy piercingly. The lad squirmed and shuffled his feet.

“Since this moor road is so dour to wayfarers,” said the Puritan, “why did not the villagers tell me the whole tale, instead of vague mouthings?”

“Men like not to talk of it, sir. We hoped that you would take the swamp road after the men advised you to, but when we watched and saw that you turned not at the forks, they sent me to run after you and beg you to reconsider.”

“Name of the Devil!” exclaimed Kane sharply, the unaccustomed oath showing his irritation; “the swamp road and the moor road–what is it that threatens me and why should I go miles out of my way and risk the bogs and mires?”

“Sir,” said the boy, dropping his voice and drawing closer, “we be simple villagers who like not to talk of such things lest foul fortune befall us, but the moor road is a way accurst and hath not been traversed by any of the countryside for a year or more. It is death to walk those moors by night, as hath been found by some score of unfortunates. Some foul horror haunts the way and claims men for his victims.”

 

Rated R for violence and MONSTERS.

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 231: Unpossible

by Daryl Gregory.
Read by PodCastle’s own audio engineer, Peter Wood.
Originally appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction, October 2007.

Two in the morning and he’s stumbling around in the attic, lost in horizontal archaeology: the further he goes, the older the artifacts become. The stuttering flashlight guides him past boxes of Christmas decorations and half-dead appliances, past garbage bags of old blankets and outgrown clothing stacked and bulging like black snowmen, over and around the twenty-year-old rubble of his son’s treasures: Tonka trucks and science fair projects, soccer trophies and summer camp pottery.

His shoulder brushes against the upright rail of a dissassembled crib, sends it sliding, and somewhere in the dark a mirror or storm window smashes. The noise doesn’t matter. There’s no one in the house below him to disturb.

Twenty feet from the far wall his way is blocked by a heap of wicker lawn furniture. He pulls apart the barricade piece by piece to make a narrow passage and scrapes through, straws tugging at his shirt. On the other side he crawls up and onto the back of a tilting oak desk immovable as a ship run aground.

The territory ahead is littered with the remains of his youth, the evidence of his life before he brought his wife and son to this house. Stacks of hardcover books, boxes of dusty-framed elementary school pictures—and toys. So many toys. Once upon a time he was the boy who didn’t like to go outside, the boy who never wanted to leave his room. The Boy Who Always Said No.

 

Rated PG.

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle Miniature 72: The Best Worst Monster

by Peter S. Beagle

Read by Wilson Fowlie (of The Maple Leaf Singers)

Originally published in Sleight of Hand.

From the tips of his twisted, spiky horns all the way down to his jagged claws, the monster was without any doubt the biggest, ugliest, most horrible creature ever made. Since his master had put him together out of spare parts lying around the house, some bits of him were power tools and old television sets, while other bits were made of plastic and wood and stone. His fiery eyes were streaked red and yellow, like the autumn moon, and even his ears and his hair had claws.

“There!” his master said proudly. “Aren’t you a fine fellow?”

“Am I?” the monster asked. He had just seen himself in a mirror, and wasn’t sure.

Rated PG.

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 230: Little Better Than a Beast

By T.A. Pratt

Read by Marguerite Croft

Originally published in Those Who Fight Monsters, edited by Justin Gustainis

Marla picked up a letter opener shaped like the grim reaper’s scythe. “So I was supposed to get this a week or ten days ago?”

“Thereabouts,” Granger said, head bobbing, happy they were in agreement.

If I could fire him, or have him committed… But Granger was a powerful magician, in his way, and even if he wasn’t much use to the city’s secret shadow government of sorcerers, he mostly stayed out of the way in the park, and his elementals had been formidable warriors in last winter’s battle against the nightmare-things. She considered reprimanding him for not bringing the letter on time, but it would be like hitting a puppy fifteen minutes after it pissed on the carpet — the poor thing wouldn’t even understand what it was being disciplined foor.

Marla used the letter opener to pry up the wax blobs and unfolded the envelope, which wasn’t an envelope at all, but just a sheet of paper folded in on itself. The message wasn’t very long, but it said everything it needed to.

She came around the desk, shouting “Rondeau! I need you!” and clutching her dagger of office. This was going to be a bloody afternoon.

Rated R: Contains Language, and Monster

Discuss on the forums.

 

PodCastle is powered by WordPress with theme Greenery

Site design by JustinBrooke Design