Archive for Giants

PodCastle 292, Giant Episode: Scry

by Anne Ivy

Read by Elizabeth Green Musselman

Originally published at Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Read it here!

By dawn, the house of Eyr Eth Lun had fallen. Dead soldiers and laser-cauterized pieces of soldiers littered the stairs and bridges into the palace. The sun rose slowly over the spires, flushing the sky pink and pale blue, gleaming off broken glass, bringing color to the gore. Anubises, wading into the midst of the detritus, carried the bodies away. The dead, victorious and defeated alike, all went to the crematorium together.

The metal gates into the house hung warped and melted on their hinges. The inside echoed, empty, threatening. The first to set foot on the foyer’s metal floor had been electrocuted.

Eyr Eth Lun and his liege, the fugitive prince Ben Tur Ibren, were long gone. Some of Karnon Nameless Dae’s followers hoped their quarry—Lun and Ibren—was hiding somewhere in the house, sure to be flushed out. Most knew better. Lun’s soldiers had fought with the desperate furor of those who knew themselves dead. They’d been fighting to buy their masters time to escape, not to save their own lives. They’d succeeded, and their ranks—brave, loyal, and dead—lay in unflinching testament to the cost of Lun’s contingency plan.

Rated R: Contains some violence and sex.

Dramatis Personae:

Eyre Isri Esth: The finest scryer on the planet, and the wife, or former wife, of Lun.

Eyr eth Lun: Esth’s former husband, head of a royal house, and protector of the fugitive prince Ibren.

Ben Tur Ibren: The fugitive prince, who is being hunted down by Karnun Dae.

Karnun Nameless Dae: An alien bent on revolution, and overthrowing the prince and his supporters.


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PodCastle 266, Giant Episode: The House of Aunts

by Zen Cho.
Read by Nina Shaharuddin, part of the Bright Club, whom you can see at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Originally appeared in Giganotosaurus on December 1, 2011. Read the text there.

To the women of my family.

The house stood back from the road in an orchard. In the orchard, monitor lizards the length of a man’s arm stalked the branches of rambutan trees like tigers on the hunt. Behind the house was an abandoned rubber tree plantation, so proliferant with monkeys and leeches and spirits that it might as well have been a forest.

Inside the house lived the dead.

The first time she saw the boy across the classroom, Ah Lee knew she was in love because she tasted durian on her tongue. That was what happened–no poetry about it. She looked at a human boy one day and the creamy rank richness of durian filled her mouth. For a moment the ghost of its stench staggered on the edge of her teeth, and then it vanished.

She had not tasted fruit since before the baby came. Since before she was dead.

After school she went home and asked the aunts about it.

“Ah Ma,” she said, “can you taste anything besides people?”

It was evening–Ah Lee had had to stay late at school for marching drills–and the aunts were already cooking dinner. The scent of fried liver came from the wok wielded by Aunty Girl. It smelt exquisite, but where before the smell of fried garlic would have filled her mouth with saliva, now it was the liver that made Ah Lee’s post-death nose sit up and take interest. It would have smelt even better raw.

“Har?” said Ah Ma, who was busy chopping ginger.

“I mean,” said Ah Lee. “When you eat the ginger, can you taste it? Because I can’t. I can only taste people. Everything else got no taste. Like drinking water only.”

Disapproval rose from the aunts and floated just above their heads like a mist. The aunts avoided discussing their undeceased state. It was felt to be an indelicate subject. It was like talking about your bowel movements, or other people’s adultery.

“Why do you ask this kind of question?” said Ah Ma.

“Better focus on your homework,” said Tua Kim.

“I finished it already,” said Ah Lee. “But why do you put in all the spices when you cook, then? If it doesn’t make any difference?”

“It makes a difference,” said Aunty Girl.

“Why do you even cook the people?” said Ah Lee. “They’re nicest when they’re raw.”

“Ah girl,” said Ah Ma, “you don’t talk like that, please. We are not animals. Even if we are not alive, we are still human. As long as we are human we will eat like civilised people, not dogs in the forest. If you want to know why, that is why.”

Rated R for vampires, and their extended families.

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PodCastle 242, Giant Episode: A Memory of Wind

by Rachel Swirsky

Read by Ann Leckie

Originally Published at Read it here!

I began turning into wind the moment that you promised me to Artemis.

Before I woke, I lost the flavor of rancid oil and the shade of green that flushes new leaves. They slipped from me, and became gentle breezes that would later weave themselves into the strength of my gale. Between the first and second beats of my lashes, I also lost the grunt of goats being led to slaughter, and the roughness of wool against calloused fingertips, and the scent of figs simmering in honey wine.

Around me, the other palace girls slept fitfully, tossing and grumbling through the dry summer heat. I stumbled to my feet and fled down the corridor, my footsteps falling smooth against the cool, painted clay. As I walked, the sensation of the floor blew away from me, too. It was as if I stood on nothing.

I forgot the way to my mother’s rooms. I decided to visit Orestes instead. I also forgot how to find him. I paced bright corridors, searching. A male servant saw me, and woke a male slave, who woke a female slave, who roused herself and approached me, bleary-eyed, mumbling. “What’s wrong, Lady Iphigenia? What do you require?”

I had no answers.

Rated R: Contains Violence.

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PodCastle 215, Giant Episode: Ours is the Prettiest

by Nalo Hopkinson.
Read by Nalo Hopkinson.
Originally appeared in Welcome to Bordertown edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner. You can find out more about Bordertown here.

The camel bus had a black banner draped around it. The lettering on it was made to look ike bones, and read “We Dead Awaken.” Through the windows we could see the musicians, all of them wearing funereal black suits, including top hats tricked out with black lace veils. Even the musicians were playin’ mas’. It was a brass band, instruments shouting out the melody to a song I almost recognized.

Today was Jou’vert; the daylong free-for-all we were pleased to call a “parade” ushered in the week of bacchanalia that was Bordertown’s more or less annual Jamboree. Word had gone around town that thi year’s theme was “jazz funeral.” I was dressed as a Catrina from the Dia de los Muertos — a gorgeous femme skeleton in sultry widow’s weeds, complete with a massive picture hat.

I suppressed a sneeze; my sinuses were tingling. Juju breeze for true, blowing a withcy front of magic from the Realm into Bordertown. Juju weather always made things in Bordertown especially…interesting.

Rated R for language, sex.

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PodCastle 207, Giant Episode: Hope Chest

by Garth Nix

Read by Mur Lafferty (the Mighty, Mighty)

Originally Published in Firebirds, edited by Sharyn November.

One dusty, slow morning in the summer of 1922, a passenger was left crying on the platform when the milk train pulled out of Denilburg after its five minute stop. No one noticed at first, what with the whistle from the train and the billowing steam and smoke and the labouring of the steel wheels upon the rails. The milk carter was busy with the cans, the station master with the mail. No one else was about, not when the full dawn was still half a cup of coffee away.

When the train had rounded the corner, taking its noise with it, the crying could be clearly heard. Milk carter and station master both looked up from their work and saw the source of the noise.

A baby, tightly swaddled in a pink blanket, was precariously balanced on a large steamer trunk on the very edge of the platform. With every cry and wriggle, the baby was moving closer to the side of the trunk. If she fell, she’d fall not only from the trunk, but from the platform, down to the rails four feet below.

Rated R: Contains violence.

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PodCastle 178, Giant Episode: Braiding the Ghosts

By C.S.E. Cooney

Read by Kara Grace

Originally published in Clockwork Phoenix 3.

That first year, when Nin was eight, she wanted her mother so desperately. But Noir was dead, she was dead, and would always be dead, thanks to Reshka.

Reshka liked to say, “I’m not above keeping ghosts in the house for handmaids and men-of-all-work. There must be ghosts for sweeping, for scrubbing, ghosts for plunging the toilets or repairing the roof, ghosts to fix the swamp cooler and to wash and dry the dishes. But,” said Reshka, “but I will be damned—I will be damned and in hell and dancing for the Devil—before I summon any daughter of mine from the grave.”

So Reshka had Noir cremated three days after her death. Afterward, she prepared the funeral feast in Noir and Nin’s small apartment kitchen.

Rated R: Contains Some Disturbing Imagery and Sex.

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PodCastle 175, Giant Episode: El Regalo

by Peter S. Beagle.
Read by Emily Smith.
Originally appeared in The Line Between.

“You can’t kill him,” Mr. Luke said. “Your mother wouldn’t like it.” After some consideration, he added, “I’d be rather annoyed myself.”
“But wait,” Angie said, in the dramatic tones of a television commercial for some miraculous mop. “There’s more. I didn’t tell you about the brandied cupcakes—”
“Yes, you did.”
“And about him telling Jennifer Williams what I got her for her birthday, and she pitched a fit, because she had two of them already—”
“He meant well,” her father said cautiously. “I’m pretty sure.”
“And then when he finked to Mom about me and Orlando Cruz, and we weren’t doing anything—”
“Nevertheless. No killing.”
Angie brushed sweaty mouse-brown hair off her forehead and regrouped. “Can I at least maim him a little? Trust me, he’s earned it.”
“I don’t doubt you,” Mr. Luke agreed. “But you’re fifteen, and Marvyn’s eight. Eight and a half. You’re bigger than he is, so beating him up isn’t fair. When you’re . . . oh, say, twenty-three, and he’s sixteen and a half—okay, you can try it then. Not until.”
Angie’s wordless grunt might or might not have been assent. She started out of the room, but her father called her back, holding out his right hand. “Pinky- swear, kid.” Angie eyed him warily, but hooked her little finger around his without hesitation, which was a mistake. “You did that much too easily,” her father said, frowning. “Swear by Buffy.”

Rated PG.

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PodCastle 146, Giant Episode: The Surgeon’s Tale

by Cat Rambo and Jeff VanderMeer.
Read by Graeme Dunlop.
Originally appeared in Subterranean Press. Read the text here!

Down by the docks, you can smell the tide going out–surging from rotted fish, filth, and the briny sargassum that turns the pilings a mixture of purple and green. I don’t mind the smell; it reminds me of my youth. From the bungalow on the bay’s edge, I emerge most days to go beach-combing in the sands beneath the rotted piers. Soft crab skeletons and ghostly sausage wrappers mostly, but a coin or two as well.

Sometimes I see an old man when I’m hunting, a gangly fellow whose clothes hang loose. As though his limbs were sticks of chalk, wired together with ulnar ligaments of seaweed, pillowing bursae formed from the sacs of decaying anemones that clutter on the underside of the pier’s planking.

I worry that the sticks will snap if he steps too far too fast, and he will become past repair, past preservation, right in front of me. I draw diagrams in the sand flats to show him how he can safeguard himself with casings over his fragile limbs, the glyphs he should draw on his cuffs to strengthen his wrists. A thousand things I’ve learned here and at sea. But I don’t talk to him–he will have to figure it out from my scrawls when he comes upon them. If the sea doesn’t touch them first.

He seems haunted, like a mirror or a window that shows some landscape it’s never known. I’m as old as he is. I wonder if I look like him. If he too has trouble sleeping at night. And why he chose this patch of sand to pace and wander.

I will not talk to him. That would be like talking to myself: the surest path to madness.

Rated R.

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