Archive for Rated PG-13

PodCastle 573: The Court Magician

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


The Court Magician

By Sarah Pinsker

The Boy Who Will Become Court Magician

The boy who will become court magician this time is not a cruel child. Not like the last one, or the one before her. He never stole money from Blind Carel’s cup, or thrashed a smaller child for sweets, or kicked a dog. This boy is a market rat, which sets him apart from the last several, all from highborn or merchant families. This isn’t about lineage, or even talent.

He watches the street magicians every day, with a hunger in his eyes that says he knows he could do what they do. He contemplates the tawdry illusions of the market square with more intensity than most, until he is marked for us by his own curiosity. Even then, even when he wanders booth to booth and corner to corner every day for a month, begging to learn, we don’t take him. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 571: The Guitar Hero

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


The first time Bella, Alice, and I exorcised a demon it was an accident: a pentagram doodled backstage, some quotes from The Exorcist, and suddenly that vocalist from the band we were opening for wasn’t quite himself anymore.

Who knew hellfire was so damn hot, anyway?

There have been other moments that altered the shape of my life: that afternoon in 1978 when I heard Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” and hit puberty in the same instant; or that Friday night at age fourteen when I switched on my first electric guitar in the garage, next to Bella’s drum kit, and heard Alice’s bass rev up beside me. But nothing beats an accidental exorcism for short-term shock value and long-term impact. The scarred fingers on my left hand (barely able to pick out even the simplest chords) and the death of Bella (who stood closer to that demon than any of us) forever twisted my life in a new direction.

I don’t play guitar anymore, but according to my spreadsheet, Alice and I have dealt with close to four hundred entities (demonic, fae, malevolent spirits, and others) on the indie music scene since Bella died, turning our pain and grief into a part-time job and eventually a career. With all that experience under my Motörhead-buckled bullet belt, I don’t usually get nervous, but tonight is different. I’m sweating, even though I’ve stripped off my leather jacket, and my hands are shaking on the laptop — every muscle in my body in flux between fight and flight. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 570: Elegy for a Slaughtered Swine

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.

The PodCastle forums flash fiction contest is on! Visit our Submittable for more details. Submissions are open until April 30.


Elegy for a Slaughtered Swine

Rafaela Ferraz

Men do not often cook, out behind these hills. It’s women’s domain, the kitchen, but they’ve shown me the ways of all that is theirs to rule. I could cook up a soup or a curse without leaving this room. The former is simple. Cabbage and potato and smoked sausage and olive oil. The latter is simpler still.

Your mother is expecting. Her womb is the first ingredient. Already you have six older brothers to race you for her love, or six older sisters. When she names you, she is careless with her choice. Later, the priest cannot untangle his prayers, his tongue slips on the edge of the baptismal font. We’re cooking, remember: stir it all with a wooden spoon and the devil will know you are unwanted. Your mother, she doesn’t care for you, for this mistake she’s made in the marriage bed, or out behind the church with her skirts hiked up, or up on the moor wearing as little shame as sin itself. Neither does your father. They have six other, older mouths to feed. They’ll let you feed yourself, may the devil bless them. You will hunt. You will run with the wolves. You will grow hackles and claws and eyes the color of burnt sugar, and you will be gone from their concerns. You will cross seven cemeteries and seven streams and seven hills and seven sins from your ledger every night before Sunday dawns. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 568: The Pull of the Herd

Show Notes

Rated: PG-13, for predators and prey.


The Pull of the Herd

By: Suzan Palumbo

My doeskin calls to me from under the woollen blankets in the cedar chest at the foot of our bed. Diya murmurs beside me, eases back to sleep. I cling to her, try to calm the panic welling in my chest by inhaling her cardamom scent. The metallic taste of a skin thief lingers in the air this morning and, though I’ve sworn never to return, every nerve and sinew inside me is screaming: get back to the herd.

I swing my feet onto the wooden floor. Human soles are weaker than keratin-covered hooves — less sure, though they suit their purpose. I undress, then pad over to the trunk. My fur stirs as I lift the lid and pull it from beneath the blankets. It twines up my forearm, grip like hardened horn sheathed in fraying velvet. (Continue Reading…)