Archive for Podcasts

PodCastle 57: In Ashes

Show Notes

Rated R. Contains potentially disturbing imagery and unkindness toward children.


In Ashes

by Helen Keeble

From the time my twin brother and I were four, our mother only gave us raw food. Before then I can remember sometimes eating cold, cooked things—porridge congealed onto the bottom of my bowl, soups with a white floating scum of fats—but that stopped after our fourth birthday, when my brother laughed and said “Hot!” as he tasted the cake that my mother had spent an hour baking and three days cooling. She whipped him for that, while I howled and hung onto her arm, and sent us both to our beds in the cowshed. Later she came out with two handfuls of dried apricots and hugged us in the dark, her great rough hands pressing our faces against her chest—but the next day there was only raw food for dinner, withered apples and sliced turnip, and the day after that, and the day after that.

The next time our birthday came round, I whined for a cake, but she said we could only have one if my brother would blow out a candle. For me, he tried, drawing in huge breath after huge breath while I gripped his crippled hand under the table, squeezing encouragement; but each lungful of air trickled out unused as he stared rapt at the flickering light. My mother sat opposite us, expressionless and still, the flame reflected in her eyes. The candle burned down to a melted pool of wax and went out. My mother never made another cake. I never saw her cook anything ever again.

PodCastle Miniature 33: The Sad tale of the Tearless Onion

Show Notes

Rated G. — but don’t listen while chopping onions.

This story was one of the honorable mentions named and purchased by Stephen Eley after the Escape Pod Flash Fiction contest for short fiction under 300 words.


The Sad tale of the Tearless Onion

by Ann Leckie

Matthias Fenstermacher loved onions, but hated slicing them, and so he labored to produce a tearless variety. His first attempt was indeed tearless–instead of weeping, the slicer was overcome by fits of uncontrollable giggles. The potential hazard was obvious.

PodCastle 56: Shard of Glass

Show Notes

Rated R. for violent and possibly disturbing images.


Shard of Glass

by Alaya Dawn Johnson

“Get in the car, Leah,” my mother said. Her already husky voice was pitched low, as though she’d been crying. That made me nervous. Why was she here?

“Ma, Chloe was going to show me her dad’s new camera. Can’t I go home on the bus?”

My mom pulled on the cigarette until it burned the filter, and then ground it into the car ashtray—already filled with forty or so butts. She always emptied out the ashtray each evening.

“Get in the car, Leah.” My mom’s voice was even huskier as she lit another cigarette and tossed the match out of the window. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 55: Bottom Feeding

Show Notes

Rated R. for fish-related hijinks.


Bottom Feeding

By Tim Pratt

The salmon of knowledge lived a long time ago, in the Well of Segais, where the waters ran deep and clear as rippling air. He swam there, thinking his deep thoughts, coming to the surface occasionally to eat the magical hazel-nuts that fell into the water from the trees on the bank. Every nut contained revelations, but the salmon was not a mere living compendium of knowledge — he was a wise fish, too, and so chose to live quietly, waiting for the inevitable day when he would be caught and devoured. The salmon dimly remembered past (and perhaps future) lives, experiences inside and outside of time, from the whole history of the land: being blinded by a hawk on a cold winter night, hiding in a cave after a flood, running from a woman who might have been a goddess, or who might have been a witch.

The salmon did not look forward to being caught, and cooked, and eaten, but knowing what the consequences would be for the one who caught him, he had to laugh, insofar as fish (even very wise ones) are able to laugh.