PodCastle 398: Flower of Flowers, Bird of Birds

by Alicia Cole

read by Rajan Khanna

Originally appeared in Demeter’s Spicebox #3, on Delinquent’s Spice, edited by Nin Harris.

Where the ylang-ylang trees twist scented like slumber, in the village of my grandmothers, strange birds nest.  With long grey necks sinuous as river serpents, they rattle their beaks at women washing in the estuary.  To steal such a bird’s eggs, it is said,will curry the favor of Mulangu.  This lure, and the sweetness of the fowl when roasted, has led to a gradual decline of the race. Though once proud, surrounded by sharp-beaked sentinels, the king bird has grown sorrowful and lazy with his people’s deterioration andno longer snatches at thieves’ eyes.  In my grandmother’s day, only a strong ghali-ghuchi woman would harvest the eggs without fear.  After many seasons of loss, even my mother could succeed at such a task.

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Rated PG.

Alicia Cole is a working artist in Atlanta, GA. She works for Studio No. 7 and WonderRoot, and performs with the Atlanta Radio Theater Company. She’s a writer, editor, and interviewer, with work forthcoming in Torn Pages Anthology and Asimov’s, among other publications. She’s an active member of HWA and SFPA.

Alicia also runs Priestess & Hierophant Press. Their current publication is Darkly Told: An Audio Chapbook, a collection of dark/horror poetry by Alicia, with audio recordings by C.S.E. Cooney, and an original score by Memory Splice. “Rat Catcher”, a track from the audio chapbook, has been remixed by Memory Splice, Changes, and Stephane Badey, on Spain’s TFB Records, and is available here.

Rajan Khanna is an author, blogger, reviewer and narrator. His first novel, Falling Sky, a post-apocalyptic adventure with airships, was released in October 2014 followed by a sequel, Rising Tide, in October 2015. His short fiction has appeared in Lightspeed Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and several anthologies. His articles and reviews have appeared at Tor.com and LitReactor.com and his podcast narrations can be heard at Podcastle, Escape Pod, PseudoPod, Beneath Ceaseless Skies and Lightspeed Magazine. Rajan lives in New York where he’s a member of the Altered Fluid writing group. His personal website is http://www.rajankhanna.com and he tweets, @rajanyk.