Archive for Podcasts

PodCastle 58: Nine-Fingered Maria

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains boyhood, and witchcraft, and jars full of preserved things.


Nine-Fingered Maria

by Hilary Moon Murphy

…this girl appeared from behind a door and caught my ball.  She was probably my age: several inches taller than I am, with long straight black hair pulled back in a ponytail, plain white t-shirt, denim jacket and jeans with a hole worn in the knee.  She stared at me with intense dark eyes and said, “What are you doing here?”

“I was just getting my ball,” I said, stepping out of the way of two movers carrying a large red bureau with multi-colored wax stains all over it.

“No, you weren’t.”  She cocked her head to the side, and raised her eyebrow.  “You were spying.”

“I wasn’t!”

“That’s okay, I like spies.”  She gave me back my ball and showed me her hands.  “I have nine fingers.  I’m a witch.”

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…)