Archive for Rated G

PodCastle 368: Dinkley’s Ice Cream

by Effie Seiberg

read by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

Originally appeared in “Fierce Family”, a Crossed Genres anthology showing positive representations of QUILTBAG families, in January of 2014.

Shanti squirmed with anticipation, trying to wriggle away from my hairbrush but caught by the knots in her curls. “A fair!” she said. “With monkeys and elephants and a magic man!”

“Yes, a fair!” I agreed, not wanting to confirm the rest – not wanting to set up any disappointment as I set down the brush on her bedside table. She beamed up at me with her sunshine smile and I looped a thin elastic around a pigtail. Four years old, and I’d never been able to take her before. Too expensive.

Fairs don’t come to the city. It’s too crowded, and where would they set up the tents? To even get to the fair it was a five dollar bus ride (two dollars for kids), plus a dollar eighty five for the shuttle if you didn’t walk. We walked.

Rated G.

Effie Seiberg is a science fiction and fantasy author living in San Francisco. A graduate of Taos Toolbox, her short fiction can be found or is upcoming in Lightspeed Magazine’s “Women Destroy Science Fiction”, Crossed Genres Magazine, and Stupefying Stories, among others. She lives near the former and upcoming (but not present) sculpture of a 4-ft-tall pink bunny head holding a skull in its mouth. You can follow Effie on her website,, or on Twitter, at @effies.

Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali lives in Houston, Texas with her husband of twenty-five years and three children. By day she works as a breast oncology nurse. At all other times she juggles, none too successfully, writing, reading, gaming and gardening. She has self-published one novel entitled An Unproductive Woman, has published a story at Escape Pod and has a story upcoming in the An Alphabet of Embers anthology. Khaalidah also reads slush at Escape Pod where she is on a mission to encourage more women to submit science fiction stories.

Of her alter ego, K from the planet Vega, it is rumored that she owns a time machine and knows the secret to long youth.
You can catch her posts at her website,, and you can follow her on twitter, @khaalidah.

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PodCastle 343: Elf Employment

by Heather Shaw and Tim Pratt

Read by Wilson Fowlie (of the Maple Leaf Singers)

A PodCastle Original!

Alex was seven when he ran away to join Santa’s elves.

If anyone had asked why he wanted to leave home, he would have said “I hate it
here!” (Actually, he would have said, “I’m not telling you!”, then raced into his room and slammed the door, which is one way to say “I hate it here!” in the language of seven-year-olds.)

Alex had his reasons. Even after he started second grade, his parents made him go to bed at 7:30, even though all his friends stayed up until eight, and Fletcher didn’t go to bed until 9:00 p.m., an unmatched hour in his little boy crew. For Halloween, Alex wasn’t allowed to be Darth Vader, because his parents didn’t like him “idolizing villains,” and they made him be a Jedi knight instead. Alex made the best of it by telling everyone he was young Anakin Skywalker (a detail he kept from his parents so they wouldn’t change his costume into something stupid, like old Obi-Wan). He wasn’t allowed play dates with the two kids he liked the most, just because they got in trouble for chasing some kindergarteners and putting dirt in their hair. What was the big deal? Alex had gotten dirt rubbed in his hair when he was new, too!

Rated G

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PodCastle Miniature 80: Days of Rain

by Rachael K. Jones

Read by Cat Rambo

A PodCastle Original!

When the wind smelled savory and the clouds looked like burnished
gold, Mom would round up all the pots, pans, buckets, and basins in
the house and send us outside to tuck them beneath the rain gutters
ahead of the chicken soup rain. The summer draft only fell once a
year, and you had to know how to read the signs, but with Mom on the
watch, we never missed a storm.

If we were extra quick about it, Mom would open the special freezer
where she kept the remains of the winter draught and scoop out a
cupful of peppermint snow for each of us: one for me, and one for
Marie. We’d sit side by side in the heavy summer’s heat while the
clouds piled up and up, layer upon layer of gold with pulsing light in
their dark hearts. Marie liked to lick at the mound of snow in her mug
as if it were ice cream, while I preferred to let the heat melt it to
a shimmering slush before I sipped, sending a peppermint-sweet
coolness running through my whole body, the essence of winter to
banish summer’s weight.

We’d barely sleep from anticipation, the rumbles above echoed in our
tummies. In the middle of the night, Marie shook me awake to watch
faerie fire skip between the thunderheads. Then the downpour
started–first just a drop or two tapping the glass, and then quicker,
faster, a rising tempo, a thundering heartbeat, a deluge of chicken
soup, the essence of summer raining from the sky.

At dawn, if school was out, Mom would let us play in the soup as it
poured down in warm sheets. Marie and I would put on red galoshes and
raincoats and charge out the door, with a shouted promise to be back
by dinner.

For hours we’d splash in fragrant puddles swirling with noodles like
earthworms. Or we would throw back our hoods and stand with our mouths
wide open, taking summer into every fiber of our being. It made you
feel warm through and through, like a heavy blanket, or a sister’s

Once, an old beater of a blue truck rumbled by too quickly and kicked
up a wave of soup from a pothole, soaking Marie’s leggings above her
galoshes. Her eyes filled up, and I thought she might cry, so I
stripped off my own raincoat and let the storm soak me until she
laughed and didn’t mind anymore.

We decided to go home a little early to change into dry clothes. When
we rounded the corner into our cul-de-sac, we were surprised to find
Mom in the street barefoot and coatless, stomping in a puddle, her
skirt hitched to her knees, shrieking like a child. For the first
time, it occurred to me she might have been a little girl once, too.

“Mom, you look silly!” said Marie, giggling. “What are you doing?” Mom
dropped her arms, looking a bit sheepish as she shooed us inside for
some lemonade and a shower. “Every year goes by faster,” she said.
“Sometimes you have to make it stand still.” And that was all the
explanation we got. I watched Mom closely the rest of that day, but I
couldn’t detect anything else strange about her. I thought she
lingered at the window, but I could be misremembering that.

Once Dad got home, we’d circle the house together collecting the
buckets and bowls of summer draught, which Mom and Dad would pour into
red jugs. These got packed in the freezer to be reopened at the right

Mom said you shouldn’t open a draught too soon, or in the wrong
season. “That ruins the magic,” she warned. “The potency grows with
time.” So we’d wait until the snow fell, and the sun shrank, and the
darkness grew. There would come a day when I’d come down with a cold,
or Marie caught the flu, and only then would Mom fish out the first
red jug from the freezer and set it on the kitchen counter. It thawed
almost instantly from its own radiance. I swear there was no better
cure for a cough or a runny nose, and no better tonic against the
gloom. All winter, we’d sip mugs of rain and feel warm again.

Now many seasons stand between me and those days of rain.  I have
become the one who thaws the soup rather than the one who collects it,
first for my daughters and nieces, and later, for their children.
Marie and I buried our mother, and eventually, I buried Marie.

Life is a rain of many small joys punctuated by sudden, rending
losses. But joy adds up with time. It has always been about the joy.

And so when the wind smells savory, I take off my shoes and step
barefoot into a puddle and turn my face upward just like my mother did
and wait for the summer draught. When you are as old as I am, you’ll
feel drunk when you taste it, all the memories of bygone years
sweeping down in a torrent so bracing you will shriek like the child
you once were when you dance in the rain of chicken soup, your mother
and sister and all you’ve lost returned to you in living memory. And
when you feel old and hungry and dry inside, like cracked earth, that
is when you will see clouds of burnished gold, and know the time is

When I miss my sister the most, that’s when I know the rain is coming.

Rated G.

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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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