PodCastle 427: Squalor and Sympathy

by Matt Dovey

read by Louise Ratcliffe

Anna concentrated on the cold, on the freezing water around her feet and the bruising sensation in her toes. So cold. So cold. So cold, she thought. A prickling warmth like pins and needles crackled inside her feet. It coursed through her body to her clenched hands and into the lead alloy handles of the cotton loom. Each thought of cold! kindled a fresh surge of heat inside and pushed the shuttle across the weave in a new burst of power. Anna’s unfocused eyes rested on the woven cotton feeding out of the back of the machine. It looks so warm.

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First published in Writers of the Future volume 32, May 2016.

Rated PG-13.

Picture of Author Matt Dovey
Author Matt Dovey

Matt Dovey is very tall and very English and is most likely drinking a cup of tea right now. He has a scar on his arm from an impoverished childhood working the looms in the Victorian cotton mills (he’s older than he looks). He now lives in a quiet market town in rural England with his wife & three children, and despite being a writer, he still hasn’t found the right words to properly express the delight and joy he finds in this wonderful arrangement.

His surname rhymes with “Dopey”, but any other similarities to the dwarf are purely coincidental. He is the Golden Pen winner for Writers of the Future volume 32 (2016) with this very story, and was shortlisted for the James White Award in 2016. He has fiction out and forthcoming all over the place; you can keep up with it at mattdovey.com, or follow along on Facebook and Twitter both as @mattdoveywriter.

Picture of Narrator Louise Ratcliffe
Narrator Louise Ratcliffe

Your narrator is Louise Ratcliffe. She says, “My name’s Louise and I am a scientist and an artist. I spent my school days either trying to blow stuff up in Chemistry, or creating angsty pieces of writing and performance art. I’m originally from England, and came to New Zealand as a souvenir from an OE, I am currently doing everything I never planned to do out in rural Waikato.”