PodCastle 437: The Cruelest Team Will Win

by Mike Allen

read by Setsu Uzume

First printed in the anthology CORVIDAE, edited by Rhonda Parrish (World Weaver Press, July 2015).

A spider with a leg span wider than my outstretched hand squeezed out from the space behind the light switch, and spread its wings.

I froze, my finger still on the toggle. Behind me the dust-draped ceiling fan hummed to life, the light bulb beneath it flicking on to paint the monster with my shadow.

The marks on its body formed a single staring eye above a screaming mouth. Two more false eyes glared red across its dragonfly wings. Another hideous little soul turned demonic, yearning to grow into something far worse.

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Rated PG-13.

Picture of Author Mike AllenMike Allen edits the acclaimed anthology series Clockwork Phoenix and the long-running magazine Mythic Delirium. His books include post-apocalyptic dark fantasy novel The Black Fire Concerto, steampunk western The Sky-Riders (co-written with MG novelist Paul Dellinger), career-spanning poetry collection Hungry Constellations, and short fiction collections Unseaming and The Spider Tapestries. His poetry has won the Rhysling Award three times, and his fiction has been nominated for the Nebula Award and the Shirley Jackson Award. He lives in Roanoke, Virginia, with his wife Anita and two quirky cats. You can find him online at his website http://descentintolight.com or on Twitter @mythicdelirium.

Picture of Setsu UzumeSetsu Uzume spent her formative years in and out of dojos. She also trained in a monastery in rural China, studying Daoism and swordplay. She is a member of Codex and SFWA. While she has dabbled in many arts, only writing and martial arts seem to have stuck. Find her on Twitter @KatanaPen, or her website katanapen.wordpress.com.