Archive for Rated PG-13

PodCastle 588: Willing

Show Notes

Rated: PG-13, for the harsh demands of gods.


Bought bred, the new cow had cost three thousand dollars, and so as night fell with no sign of the calf, it was Arnold himself who trudged back and forth between the house and the barn, waving away the hired hands.

“My money,” he grunted. “My problem.”

A storm struck up, not snow but a roaring haze of fine slush that crusted his beard with ice. Far to the west, visible only by their bluish, luminous heat, the old gods of grass and grain bayed to the cloud-buried stars. Arnold ignored them. It was too early in the year for a sacrifice.

On the fifth trip, his youngest child joined him, silent as ever, silvery hair greased down from the rain, in her oldest brother’s canvas coat. She liked their ancient hand-me-downs, though she was so small that everything trailed in the muck like the train of a wedding dress. Over the splattering sleet Arnold heard her rubber boots squelching in the wallow that had been the path. He waited for her to catch up before continuing to the barn. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 586: The Masochist’s Assistant

Show Notes

Rated PG-13, incl blood, violence, and many deaths (sort of)!

Make sure to check out Broadcasts from the Wasteland, a new podcast featuring chats and interviews with a host of creatives working in the science fiction and fantasy genres.


The Masochist’s Assistant

By Auston Habershaw

Each morning at precisely seven, Georges, famulus to Magus Hugarth Madswom, stabbed his master in the heart. It was a fairly complicated affair as the linens needed to be spared staining and Georges had to make the thrust quickly, lest his master wake up and become angry with him for failing in his duties. He had suggested abjuring the sheets against such stains, but his master claimed that doing so also meant his sweat would pool about his body during the night rather than being absorbed by the sheets, and Georges’ master refused to wake up stinking and slimy. So, no abjurations.

As a result, Georges would leave his master’s home at half-past six and go to a nearby weaver where he would purchase the previous day’s linen scraps from her bleary-eyed son. Then, linen draped over one arm, he would return to the house, make his master’s tea (bitter black, no sugar), place cup and saucer on a silver bed-tray along with the teapot (still hot) and a long, slender chef’s knife, as he was not permitted to wear a sword. He would then mount the narrow spiral stairs that led up to his master’s bedchamber, carefully open the door without making a sound, and set the tray on the bedside table. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 585: Getaway

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


Getaway

By Jennifer Hudak

Ten days after her family installed themselves in their summer cottage on Greenpenny Lake, Leena separated from her body for the first time. She peeled from herself like a sticker from its backing, and hovered inches from the ceiling. Meanwhile, her body stretched out beneath her, lumpy under the threadbare blanket: the rise of her belly, the slack softness of her cheeks falling back toward the pillow, the thickness of her neck. Then she plummeted back inside her breathing, sweating flesh.

It was the lake water, the doctor said. Not the separation — she hadn’t told them about that — but the vomiting and diarrhea that had preceded it. Something about blooming algae, E. coli, something else that started either with a G or a K.

Swimming in Greenpenny Lake was unpleasant in all kinds of ways, even before Leena swallowed a stew of dangerous microorganisms. Seaweed clogged the water near the shore, and shells from the invasive zebra mussel lurked in the silt, waiting to slice open an unwary bather’s foot. Leena had read, too, about the bodies in Greenpenny Lake — rumor had it that every year someone drowned and the water was so deep that no one ever found them. Leena had protested this vacation for the first two stifling days by wilting inside the un-air-conditioned cottage, perspiring on the stained furniture and fighting to find a reliable Wi-Fi connection, before grudgingly following her father’s advice to get outside and go for a damn swim.

She wouldn’t separate until a week afterwards, but Leena knew: this was where it happened. That first swim in Greenpenny Lake. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 583: The Resurrectionist

Show Notes

Rated PG-13 for waking the dead and disturbing their dreams.


The Resurrectionist

by J.P. Sullivan

“Yes, I can bring your wife back from the dead,” I told the farmer, who had reasonable doubts about my abilities. “Just realize that it might not be what she wants.”

“She wants to see her children again,” he said. He’d told me his name, but I’d forgotten it.  Honestly, it’s better that way. He had a smith’s build, muscle on muscle, more beard than chin. I could tell at a glance he’d never had a crooked thought in his life. People like that are awfully hard to negotiate with. Thankfully, I have flat rates.

“She signed the consent form?” The local chapel smelled like soot and incense. They hadn’t cremated her. That triples the fee and gives me a dreadful headache besides.

“I know I’m asking for a miracle,” the farmer said. “You can really do it for ten crowns sovereign?”

It’s not a miracle, I might have said. It’s a clever utilization of certain natural laws, an inversion of a subtle current and a trick played on God. Miracles assume His blessing, this process having none of it. But you start throwing around a word like ‘resurrection,’ and people get all kinds of ideas. “Did you bring the form, or not?”

He produced it. And there it was, in hill-country chicken scratch, her name on the appropriate lines. There’s a correct way of doing everything. Why should reanimation be any different?

I said the words, laid the hooks and lines and rock salt circles. Not all of that’s important, but the ceremony is part of the service. Like a funeral, it’s for the living.

The church was empty of clergy. They couldn’t have run off too long ago; one of the fires was still lit. Every rider on the hill looked like a foreign raid, with the war on. For all I knew, they hid from me.

“I don’t like this,” said the farmer.

“Don’t worry,” I said, hands at the dead woman’s brow. “I don’t like it either.”

Then I was in the elsewhere. (Continue Reading…)