Author Archive

PodCastle 587: Strange Waters

Show Notes

Rated: PG, for a parent guiding herself home.


Strange Waters

By Samantha Mills

Fisherwoman Mika Sandrigal was lost at sea. She knew where she was in relation to the Candorrean coastline and how to navigate back to her home city, Maelstrom. She knew the time of day. She knew the season. She knew the phase of the moon and the pattern of the tide.

She did not know the year.

Strange waters flowed beneath the hull of her fishing boat, illuminating the midnight darkness with phosphorescent swirls of yellow and green. The thick scent of pepper and brine tickled her nose, and she knew that a juggernaut swam far below, vast and merciless and consuming shield fish by the thousands.

Mika squinted up at a familiar night sky, at the Dancing Girl, the Triplets, the Mad Horse. She had fished off this coast for nearly twenty years, eight of them lost in time. She’d seen green waters, pink waters, blue. She’d been to Candorrea when it was a loose collection of fishing villages, and she’d been to Candorrea when the buildings were so tall she could hardly look at them without shaking. No matter what century she washed up in, however, the constellations were there to guide her home.

It was a windless night. Mika pulled out her oars and set course for Maelstrom, keen to find out when she had landed. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 586: The Masochist’s Assistant

Show Notes

Rated PG-13, incl blood, violence, and many deaths (sort of)!

Make sure to check out Broadcasts from the Wasteland, a new podcast featuring chats and interviews with a host of creatives working in the science fiction and fantasy genres.


The Masochist’s Assistant

By Auston Habershaw

Each morning at precisely seven, Georges, famulus to Magus Hugarth Madswom, stabbed his master in the heart. It was a fairly complicated affair as the linens needed to be spared staining and Georges had to make the thrust quickly, lest his master wake up and become angry with him for failing in his duties. He had suggested abjuring the sheets against such stains, but his master claimed that doing so also meant his sweat would pool about his body during the night rather than being absorbed by the sheets, and Georges’ master refused to wake up stinking and slimy. So, no abjurations.

As a result, Georges would leave his master’s home at half-past six and go to a nearby weaver where he would purchase the previous day’s linen scraps from her bleary-eyed son. Then, linen draped over one arm, he would return to the house, make his master’s tea (bitter black, no sugar), place cup and saucer on a silver bed-tray along with the teapot (still hot) and a long, slender chef’s knife, as he was not permitted to wear a sword. He would then mount the narrow spiral stairs that led up to his master’s bedchamber, carefully open the door without making a sound, and set the tray on the bedside table. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 585: Getaway

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


Getaway

By Jennifer Hudak

Ten days after her family installed themselves in their summer cottage on Greenpenny Lake, Leena separated from her body for the first time. She peeled from herself like a sticker from its backing, and hovered inches from the ceiling. Meanwhile, her body stretched out beneath her, lumpy under the threadbare blanket: the rise of her belly, the slack softness of her cheeks falling back toward the pillow, the thickness of her neck. Then she plummeted back inside her breathing, sweating flesh.

It was the lake water, the doctor said. Not the separation — she hadn’t told them about that — but the vomiting and diarrhea that had preceded it. Something about blooming algae, E. coli, something else that started either with a G or a K.

Swimming in Greenpenny Lake was unpleasant in all kinds of ways, even before Leena swallowed a stew of dangerous microorganisms. Seaweed clogged the water near the shore, and shells from the invasive zebra mussel lurked in the silt, waiting to slice open an unwary bather’s foot. Leena had read, too, about the bodies in Greenpenny Lake — rumor had it that every year someone drowned and the water was so deep that no one ever found them. Leena had protested this vacation for the first two stifling days by wilting inside the un-air-conditioned cottage, perspiring on the stained furniture and fighting to find a reliable Wi-Fi connection, before grudgingly following her father’s advice to get outside and go for a damn swim.

She wouldn’t separate until a week afterwards, but Leena knew: this was where it happened. That first swim in Greenpenny Lake. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 584: TALES FROM THE VAULTS — In Metal, In Bone

Show Notes

Rated R, for reference to war and wartime atrocities.


In Metal, In Bone

by An Owomoyela

Colonel Gabriel met him in a circle of canvas-topped trucks, in an army jacket despite the heat of the sun.  he stood a head taller than Benine, with skin as dark as peat coal, with terrible scarring on one side of his jaw.  When his gloved hand shook Benine’s bare one, he closed his grip and said, “What do you see?”

Benine was startled, but the call to listen in on the memories of things was ever-present in the back of his mind.  It took very little to let his senses fuzz, obscured by the vision curling up from the gloves like smoke.

He saw a room in a cottage with a thatched roof, the breeze coming in with the smell of a cooking fire outside, roasted cassava, a woman singing, off-tune.  He had to smile.  There was too much joy in the song to mind the sharp notes.  This must have been before the war; it was hard to imagine that much joy in Mortova these days.

The singing had that rich, resonant pitch of a voice heard in the owner’s head, and his vision swung down, to delicate hands with a needle and thread, stitching together the fabric of the gloves.  Neat, even rows, and as the glove passed between the seamstress’s fingers, he could see the patterns of embroidery on the back.

Benine banished the vision and pulled his hand back.  “But these are women’s gloves!”

Colonel Gabriel gave him an appraising look.  “So you can do something,” he said.  “Not just superstition and witchcraft.”


Read the rest here!