Archive for Podcasts

PodCastle 554: Hosting the Solstice

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.

Sound effects used in the host spot are in the public domain and can be found here.

Hosting the Solstice

By Tim Pratt

for Heather

The first note came a week before Halloween. I glanced at an empty parking lot while I was out walking Bradbury and the leaves blew around to form the words “IT’S YOUR TURN TO HOST.”

I put my head down and tugged Bradbury’s leash to hurry him up and pretended I hadn’t seen anything at all.

The second note came a week later, when my son Rye was working the haunted house fundraiser at the high school — he was only a freshman, but his obsession with monster makeup tutorials from the internet meant his “bloody-face-wound zombie” was good enough to join the seniors-only “scare crew” for the big terror finale just before the exit. My husband, Corey, was handing out candy to trick-or-treaters in the living room. I went into the bathroom and saw the words “IT’S YOUR TURN TO HOST” dripping in blood down the shower wall. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 553: Grounded Women Never Fly

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.

Sound effects used in the host spot are in the public domain and can be found here.

Grounded Women Never Fly

by Stefani Cox

It is the women of the community who can run, but don’t.

The women are the ones who can place a foot just so, another precisely calculated in front of it and leap across yards of empty space. If the women did move in this way, there would be a rhythm. The settling of muscles. A steeling of the mind for the goal of the further rooftop. And the moment when the visualizations and intention explode into movement.

For a short time, such a woman would experience flight. There would be a spreading of arms accompanied by weightlessness; the thrill of a body propelled over nothingness. She could bridge impossible distances this way. She could crisscross from building to building among the packed houses. She could scale walls.

This magic is not a substitute for wings, for this woman would still be humbled by gravity. It’s just that that such a force would seem a mere afterthought. An inconvenience to be shrugged off.

In the end, however, none of what they could do really matters, does it? Because the women do not run. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 552: The Watchers

Show Notes

Rated PG.

The Watchers

by Shelly Jones

He did not know why he had agreed to marry her. For a long time he thought it was because she would hum at everything she did. She hummed while cooking. She hummed while cleaning and sewing. She hummed when she raked leaves and shoveled dirt and chopped firewood. She even hummed, or so he thought he heard over his own grunting, on the few occasions when they had consummated their union. Her humming was an intoxicating low rumble, a contralto line that lingered in the room even after she had left it. He remembered the first time he had heard her. They had been to a funeral service for the local baker, he with his mother and she alone, for all of her relatives had died when she was young. He had known this, of course, but it never really struck him until he saw her alone at the wake. How many other services had she attended as a girl for her family? She wore a grey smock and a thick wool coat, the color of new potatoes. While the other mourners stood silent with their heads bowed, clutching handkerchiefs or wordlessly mouthing prayers, she rocked gently, pushing her weight from one foot to the other and hummed a low, idle tune. But no one minded. No one thought her rude or obscene, though, for some reason, he feared they might. He could imagine an old, dour woman spitting on her, the thick mucus sticking to the wool, and calling her names for dancing and singing at the funerary rites. But no one seemed to even notice her. She was as much a part of the scene as a catbird in the tree or a period at the end of a sentence. Why, then, had he noticed her? (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 551: The Blue Widow

Show Notes

Rated PG-13, for betrayal and vengeance.

A word from host Setsu Uzume: In the host outro for “The Blue Widow,” I talked about how being a professional means you can get away with stuff. I meant that in terms of modeling more liberating and inclusive behaviors; not using your power to oppress other people. It’s an important distinction.

The Blue Widow

By J. P. Sullivan

It was good tea, all things considered, and I really did admire his efforts at being a good host — but the fact was, I was there to kill him. This was, unfortunately, something of a trend in the profession.

He spoke with the confidence of his kind. “You’ve made a terrible mistake.”

“You’ve poisoned me,” I agreed.

That gave him pause. “You knew?”

“It was a necessary professional consideration,” I told him.

He didn’t have much to say to that. A clock ticked somewhere in the back of the parlor. A very fashionable parlor, full of the most fashionable things. Flock wallpaper, teakwood furniture, a sideboard from somewhere in the unpronounceable east. Beyond the damask curtains I heard carts and voices echo over widening streets. Master Zaleski was a well-heeled fellow.

He was also a monster. (Continue Reading…)