PodCastle 434: The Ghost Years

by Nghi Vo

read by Tatiana Gomberg

The year I turned ten, the war almost ended. The Chinese army fell back beyond the northern border of Cao Bng, leaving behind thousands of widows, wide swathes of burned ground, and their great war bells in their haste.

These bells were of the ancient kind, tongueless but elegant and struck with enormous logs swung from their own frames. They filled the battlefield with sonorous thunder, and the crews that manned them were said to be fanatical, as devoted to their bells as they never were to their commanders. They were left sinking in the black mud along the border, and the Resplendent Phoenix Army brought back news of their silence. We don’t know what happened to their crews.

There was talk of melting them down, perhaps into a war memorial, but the bells, two hundred or more scattered along Vietnam’s long northern border, were still in disputed territory. Besides, the war was not over yet. We all knew that. The bells stayed, silent and dreaming in the mire.

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A PodCastle original!

Rated PG-13.

Nghi Vo lives on the shores of Lake Michigan, and her fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Expanded Horizons, Crossed Genres and Icarus Magazine. She likes stories about things that fall through the cracks and live on the edges, and she has a deep love for tales of revolution (personal and political), transfiguration and transmutation. She’s a writer by trade, a storyteller by nature, a volunteer by inclination, and a dreamer by design.

Your narrator is Tatiana Gomberg. Tatiana Gomberg is a New York City-based actress of stage, screen, and of course, the audio booth. Follow her on Twitter @tatianamae.