PodCastle 296: Ill Met in Ulthar (Featuring Marla Mason)

by T.A. Pratt (Find out more about Marla Mason here!)

Read by M.K. Hobson

Originally published in Witches: Wicked, Wild, and Wonderful, edited by Paula Guran.

Dr. Husch slid the panel over the window shut as the beast continued battering against the door. “Don’t worry, it can’t get out. The interior of the room is lined with rubber, reinforced by magic. We used to keep a paranoid electrothaumaturge locked up there. There are no electrical outlets or light fixtures, either—when we found the creature in Barrow’s room, it had smashed the light bulbs, and was suckling at the outlets like a hamster at a water bottle.”

Marla took off the glasses and rubbed her eyes. “What is that thing?”

“Barrow calls it an arc-drake. The live in the haunted mountains called the Lightning Peaks, north of the Sea of Surcease, a vast lake of liquid suffering.”

“You sound like the trailer for a bad fantasy movie,” Marla said.

“Appropriate, as Barrow was a fantasy writer. Though he wasn’t a particularly bad one, especially by the standards of his time. He was a pulp writer, mostly, published alongside the likes of Clifford Simak, Doc Smith, Sprague de Camp, Marsham Craswell—did you ever read much science fiction and fantasy, Marla?”

“Not really. I was too busy smoking and having sex with boys. I was always more interested in this world than in imaginary ones.”

Husch sniffed. “As a sorcerer, you should be ashamed. Magic is the act of imposing your will on reality. But without imagination, what good is even the strongest will? So what if you can do anything, if you can’t think of anything interesting to do?”

Rated R. Contains, well, Marla Mason. Also violence and profanity.

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