Archive for Rated PG-13

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 609: The Epic of Sakina — Part 2

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


The Epic of Sakina

By Shari Paul

[Note: This is part 2 of a two-part novelette. Visit our previous post to read Part 1.]

The ride back to her father’s house had never felt so long, doubly so under Naima’s interrogation. Sometime during the wait for Sakina’s return at the barracks, Naima had spoken to a few of the guards and decided that Leif was a djinn. It was a welcome distraction, as she teased her friend and gave her only the vaguest answers. This was not something she could share, and once Naima realised this, she changed tack anyway, instead telling Sakina about the business at her store.

Sakina went straight to the library when she was back at the house, ancestors whispering in her ear. It was time she started a record of this. As she sank into her chair though, someone knocked at the door.

She looked up and a shiver coursed her spine like lightning. It was the alim. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 608: The Epic of Sakina — Part 1

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


The Epic of Sakina

By Shari Paul

The moon was a pale, golden disc in a lavender sky. Sakina, in a brilliant blue caftan that brought out the colour in her skin and eyes, strummed her kora a few times to check the tuning. At her ear, an ancestor whispered, “He is quite brazen to be out here when the moon is full…or powerful enough to resist it.”

Sakina looked over at the tall, thin man sinking into one of the dougou-tigui’s fine silk cushions. Asif the alim looked as if a stiff breeze would knock him over, the skin stretched tight over his bones. Naima had called him a ghoul and Sakina agreed. He noticed her stare, smiled, and said, “Of all the djeli I have met in my travels, you are by far the most captivating.”

There were a few titters from the assembled guests, wealthy merchants, fellow djeli, and the imam of the Cunapo Mosque. Their host, the dougou-tigui Hussain, coughed lightly, embarrassed, and said, “My nephew, Farouk, certainly thought so. He could not have found a more beautiful wife.”

“Yes, yes,” said Asif, still smiling at Sakina. “And then he left her to go travelling with your maghan. If I had found a wife as lovely, my journeys would end.”

“They are young, they think they can do whatever they like,” said Hussain with a chuckle, jiggling two of his three jowls.

Sprawled beside Asif, surrounded by trays of fruit and starches and spiced teas, the dougou-tigui was the larger of the two but he sat considerably higher. The ancestor continued at Sakina’s ear, “See how the mass he does not show nevertheless affects the environment around him? The beast he becomes must be strong.” (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 607: TALES FROM THE VAULTS — Who in Mortal Chains

Show Notes

Rated R.


Who in Mortal Chains

by Claire Humphrey

I almost had friends in 1965.

Ryder was a brewer in those days, when brewing was a thing no one much cared to do. He was well loved among a circle of twenty or so, every one with a lost art. Mylene was a weaver; Tom worked leather; Eskil kept bees. Up on the mountain, Andy ran a print shop, with a hundred fonts of lead type, sorted by letter into a hundred wooden trays. Clifton made images with light: albumen prints, salt prints, silver negatives on glass.

I suppose I could have taught someone the art of the bayonet, or the language of signal-flags, but I was mostly just hanging around getting drunk with them. It was almost like hanging around people my own age, except that everyone my age is an asshole.

I did teach Ryder how to bake bannock over coals. We ate his first attempt with some of Eskil’s honey, and mugs of beer pulled from the cask. Clifton took a daguerreotype of all of us seated on blankets under the arbutus tree behind Ryder’s house.

He made copies for everyone, but I wrecked mine, of course.

The only thing I’ve managed to keep from that time is a rough forging from the shop of Jason the blacksmith. Steel, and therefore tempered against my temper. Jason would have made it a blade, but I told him I’d only end up cutting someone.

The rough forging sits now on the windowsill in my kitchen, half a continent away and four decades later. The window itself has been replaced by an ill-fitting piece of Plexiglas held in place with duct tape. The things I break, I cannot always fix.

To read the rest of this story, visit Strange Horizons

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 604: No Mercy to the Rest

Show Notes


No Mercy to the Rest

by Bennett North

Sadie parked in the lee of Castle Inferno, where she would be spared from the wind, and sat while the engine ticked, trying to convince herself to let go of the steering wheel.

The castle stood stark against the sky, dark stone walls leaching the saturation from the blue. One tower was burned out and soot-streaked. No sign of repair. Was Dr. Inferno hard up for cash or did fresh tarmac interfere with the mad scientist aesthetic?

Sadie grabbed the swinging St. Christopher medal from the rearview mirror and squeezed it. “Keep an eye on me, Gemma,” she said. “This is for you.”

The stairs that hugged the foundation ended at a pair of wooden doors set into a stone arch that had to be thirty feet tall. Sadie ducked into the corner of the arch, out of the wind, and pressed the plastic doorbell button.

Something heavy thunked inside, then one of the doors opened enough for a woman to lean out. She was white, with frizzy, graying hair, a Red Sox T-shirt, and jeans.

“Sadie Jones?” the woman asked, looking her up and down.

“That’s me,” said Sadie. “I’m looking for an . . . Igor?” (Continue Reading…)