Archive for Rated G

PodCastle Episode 287: Tiktok and the Nome King

by L. Frank Baum

Read by Bob Eccles (Check out his eBook Tiny Terrors, available at Amazon!)

Originally published in Little Wizard Stories of Oz, but you can read it at Tiger Tales!

The Nome King was unpleasantly angry. He had carelessly bitten his tongue at breakfast and it still hurt; so he roared and raved and stamped around in his underground palace in a way that rendered him very disagreeable.

It so happened that on this unfortunate day Tiktok, the Clockwork Man, visited the Nome King to ask a favor. Tiktok lived in the Land of Oz, and although he was an active and important person, he was made entirely of metal. Machinery within him, something like the works of a clock, made him move; other machinery made him talk; still other machinery made him think.

Although so cleverly constructed, the Clockwork Man was far from perfect. Three separate keys wound up his motion machinery, his speech works, and his thoughts. One or more of these contrivances was likely to run down at a critical moment, leaving poor Tiktok helpless. Also some of his parts were wearing out, through much use, and just now his thought machinery needed repair. The skillful little Wizard of Oz had tinkered with Tiktok’s thoughts without being able to get them properly regulated, so he had advised the Clockwork Man to go to the Nome King and secure a new set of springs, which would render his thoughts more elastic and responsive.

Rated G.

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PodCastle 260: Fine Flying Things

by Adele Gardner.
Originally appeared in the anthology Twisted Cat Tales, edited by Esther Schrader.
Read by Elie Hirschman.

Frankie watched, open-mouthed, as the cats soared up into the sky.

All he could think of was Dali’s photograph, that crazy one where the
cat flew across a stream of water while Dali perched on a chair. He
ran outside.

In that little space of time, yet more cats had lifted off from earth.
They floated like furry balloons, orange and gray and tiger-striped.
Some looked scared, their claws extended to full panic, like a kitten
caught in a tree; but there was nothing to grasp in the sky. The
clouds didn’t seem to slow them down.

Others looked mildly interested, their whiskers drooping in curious
contentment. Still others seemed entranced with possibilities,
stretching their claws to snag unwary birds as they soared by.

Frankie gaped at the spectacle of cats dotting the sky like a flock of
migrating birds. As the felines swarmed through the air, he glimpsed a
familiar gray leg. By instinct, he reached up to grab the striped
appendage, just as he might have done to spare the china. The skinny
leg jerked taut, and he found himself looking up into the startled
blue eyes of his Maurice.

Rated G.

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PodCastle 243: Tiger in the BSE

by E. Lily Yu

Read by TCA Lakshmi Narasimhan

Originally published in Cicada.

There was once a tiger in Mumbai, a Kshatriya and a ruthless trader of
stocks, who lived in a glossy high-rise the color of the sea. His
suits of slick poplin and seersucker were confected by two tailors in
Milan; his bath was cut from marble as rich as soap, and always drawn
warm and fragrant for him at the end of each day; and his suppers,
which threw the meat markets into an uproar, were prepared under the
hands of some of the finest cooks from Mangalore and Chengdu. He had,
in short, the kind of life that any well-bred tiger could hope to
have. But he lacked one thing, and it made him pace between the red
walls of his living room and bite the pads of his paws.

He went to the house of an old friend, where he and his trading tips
were always welcome, and said, “Brother, I have no mother or father to
help me in this matter, and no family except my friends. For the sake
of the tricks we played in school, for the beatings I took for you,
will you help me find a bride?”

Rated G.

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PodCastle 212: Squonk and the Lake Monster

by P.M. Butler.
Read by Wilson Fowlie (of the Maple Leaf Singers).
A PodCastle original!

Sometimes, you don’t realize how bad a bad idea _really_ is until your best friend is suddenly plummeting head over ringtail to his certain death.

Squonk and Slowfingers had been playing catch–well, _trying_ to play catch. You see, Squonk was a dragon, and his best friend Slowfingers was a raccoon. They were both apprentices to a wizard named Wendel. They liked hanging around each other, but there wasn’t a lot they could _do_ together. Unlike most of Squonk’s other friends, Slowfingers didn’t have wings; and unlike Slowfingers’ other friends, Squonk had to be very careful to not step on him.

But according to Wendel, being a wizard didn’t mean you ran away and hid from problems; it meant grabbing your problems and showing those problems who’s boss. So Squonk had come up with the idea of playing a nice game of catch.

It worked like this: Slowfingers would pick an acorn, and throw it as hard as he could–from the top of a tall tree, since his throws needed the head start. Squonk would try to watch the teeny tiny acorn as it bounced off leaves and branches and stick out his paw where he thought it would land. After inspecting his paw carefully to confirm he’d missed, Squonk would set another acorn in his paw and use a talon on his other paw to flick it at Slowfingers. If he was lucky, he’d get it somewhere near the tree Slowfingers was in, and Slowfingers could watch it go by.

This was every bit as frustrating and not-fun as it sounds.

Rated G.

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PodCastle Miniature 62: The Transfiguration of Maria Luisa Ortega

by E. Lily Yu

Read by Julia Rios (of the Outer Alliance Podcast)

Originally published in the Kenyon Review Online (Read it online here)

The first time María Luisa Ortega cursed, after stabbing herself with a pair of steel tweezers, she turned into a sea urchin. Two weeks passed before a peripatetic priest found her lying in the sand and uncursed her. It was a frequent occurrence, he explained, and for this reason he always carried a squirt bottle of holy water in his bag, to bless the poor souls he found in the shapes of dolphins, fish, lobsters, or, in less fortunate cases, mollusks.

Rated G.

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PodCastle Miniature 59: Rainmaker

By Benjamin Thomas

Read by Wilson Fowlie (of The Maple Leaf Singers)

A PodCastle Original!

I was eight then, which made her eleven. We lay on a grassy knoll. The earth dampened my flesh: buttocks, shoulders, elbows, and heels. It was late spring, and a light breeze chilled me in pleasant contrast to the tingling warmth of May sun on skin.

“I see a peacock,” I said. It didn’t look like a peacock, a bird, or even a fan. Clouds never really looked like anything, unless you squint just right.

“That one looks like,” Arida furrowed her brow, crinkling up her glass smooth face, “a circus.” The wind gusted.

“It does not,” I protested. “It doesn’t even look like a …” my voice caught. The panorama shifted subtly yet suddenly. I saw the circus; her circus.

The center formed an enormous tent. Crowds milled around it. They moved in less than real time, but at a steady pace. One person spit fire, another juggled. A bear balanced speckled ball in front of the main entrance. In those days, I had seen a few paintings, and none compared to this monochrome play in the clouds.

Rated G

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PodCastle 144: To Ride Beyond the Wide World’s End

by Caitlin Brennan.
Read by Steve Anderson.
Originally appeared at BookView Cafe. This story is a prequel to a novel: House of the Star (Tor, November 2010).

“Those verses of yours,” old Coel said as the fire died and the hall subsided into a sort of rollicking quiet, “they’re clever. Especially your description of that son of a swine down the valley–how did you know he’s wall-eyed and has a distinct left hook to his private member?”
“Well,” said Madog, “the eye’s easy to see when you’re singing in front of him. As to the other — let’s say it’s a trade secret.”
Old Coel’s bushy white brow arched; he laughed. “Caught him in the jakes, did you?”
Madog shrugged and smiled. Sometimes it was safer to let the patron decide how the story went.
Coel thumped him on the shoulder, and grinned when he barely swayed. Madog was light and wiry as horsemen often are, but he was strong as they often are, too. “Gofannwy won’t thank you for the things you sang of him, but I’ll be warming my evil old heart for days with the thought of them. I owe you a debt for that; I’d like to pay it, for my honor and your pleasure. You’re a horseman, you say? And yet you walked through my gate.”
Madog nodded. His throat still tightened when he thought of his beautiful mare down and gasping in the snow, so far gone with pain that she could not even will to move. He had cut her throat for mercy, and wept for hours after.
Old Coel saw the tears that brimmed in his eyes, and nodded. He was a horseman, too. “In the morning,” he said, “we’ll go out to the fields and see what’s minded to follow you on your travels.”

Rated G.

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PodCastle Miniature 58: Before the Uprising

by Katherine Sparrow

Read by Jen Rhodes (of the Anomaly Podcast)

A PodCastle Original!

We fly out into the unseen world, biking as hard as our muscles allow, and then pushing on, faster, onward, go. It’s dark and all the sisters wear black, which is the color of night, which is the color of freedom.

Everything looks better now, the little sisters whisper from the backseat of our bikes, even though they mean they see only darkness as they cling and breathe into the sweat of our necks.

Rated G: Contains Bicycles

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PodCastle 136: The Christmas Mummy

by Heather Shaw & Tim Pratt.
Read by Rish Outfield of the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine.
Originally Published in A Christmas Chapbook.

Trish led Nate from the room, into the hall — their parents’ door was
closed — and onto the stairs. She could hear someone moving down
there. Trish crept down the carpeted steps. The only light in the
living room came from the bright Christmas tree. Even the yule log in
the fireplace had burned down.

Two men, dressed in black pajamas with their faces covered, were tying
a big red ribbon around a crate that was bigger than the couch.

“Ninjas?” Trish whispered to her brother.

Christmas ninjas,” Nate said.

One of the ninjas pulled up his mask a little and ate one of the
cookies they’d left for Santa. He drank the milk, too, leaving a white
mustache on his ninja mask when he pulled it back down over his mouth.

Rated G

Happy holidays to all of you from all of us at PodCastle!

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PodCastle Miniature 57: Apex

by Lauren M. Roy

Read by Laura Denson

A PodCastle Original!

Bronze-plated dragons with snapping shrapnel teeth guarded the landings. Those who weren’t eaten faced a wind-up Sphinx that spat out ticker-tape riddles. She hated it when they answered incorrectly; the Sphinx’ broken voice-recorder played back their dying screams for hours, until she went out and gave it a kick.

Rated PG: Contains riddles

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