Archive for Rated PG

PodCastle 594: The Deliverers of Their Country

Show Notes

Rated PG.


The Deliverers of Their Country

By E. Nesbit

It all began with Effie’s getting something in her eye. It hurt very much indeed, and it felt something like a red-hot spark — only it seemed to have legs as well, and wings like a fly. Effie rubbed and cried— not real crying, but the kind your eye does all by itself without your being miserable inside your mind — and then she went to her father to have the thing in her eye taken out. Effie’s father was a doctor, so of course he knew how to take things out of eyes — he did it very cleverly with a soft paintbrush dipped in castor oil.

When he had gotten the thing out, he said: “This is very curious.” Effie had often got things in her eye before, and her father had always seemed to think it was natural — rather tiresome and naughty perhaps, but still natural. He had never before thought it curious.

Effie stood holding her handkerchief to her eye, and said: “I don’t believe it’s out.” People always say this when they have had something in their eyes.

“Oh, yes — it’s out,” said the doctor. “Here it is, on the brush. This is very interesting.”

Effie had never heard her father say that about anything that she had any share in. She said: “What?” (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 593: Balloon Man

Show Notes

Rated PG.


Balloon Man

By Shiv Ramdas

If it hadn’t been for the camel, Mithun might never have noticed the old balloon seller at all. He almost didn’t notice the camel either. If he’d been looking for it, he probably wouldn’t have.

Like so many other parts of Northern India, Qaisarbagh Bazaar wasn’t so much a place that time forgot as much as it was a place that had forgotten time, or at the very least, had pointedly refused to acknowledge its existence. To Mithun’s left, men in pathani kurtas herded goats past cellphone towers, never looking up. To his right, vendors pushed carts piled high with sweet-smelling fruit, bright clothes and trinkets under dangling electricity lines, ignoring the half-buried cables underfoot as they called out to passers-by as a steady stream of cars, bicycles and cycle-rickshaws swerved and cursed their way down the narrow cobbled streets. All in all, it was an explosion of sights, sounds and smells, a patchwork of colour and chaos of the sort that is so much more appealing on Exotic India postcards than when experienced in the flesh. Partly because it makes a lot of things rather difficult, such as the mundane yet surprisingly useful exercise that is finding things just by looking for them.

As Mithun stood there, he found the camel staring back at him, unblinking. Then slowly, deliberately, it jerked its head sideways, at the old man with the bent back and straggly grey beard, standing there between the paan-seller with bad teeth and the cigarette-vendor shouting discounts at schoolchildren, half-hidden in the shadow of the crumbling clock-tower. And that was when Mithun noticed the balloons.

Indeed, he couldn’t help but notice them, for these were no ordinary balloons. No, they were massive, lustrous, the most wondrous balloons you ever saw. Above the spotless white Gandhi topi on the old man’s head, a beautiful blue-green globe, the earth itself, or perhaps not quite, floating right there. Beside it, much larger, the fiery citrus glow of the reluctant red of the setting sun giving way to a soothing orange. Next to that, a small one, half translucent, half black, the moon being eaten by Rahu, just like in the myths the teacher read out every Friday.

Mithun looked at his mother, but she failed to notice him, being still engrossed in the vital task of securing an extra half kilo of lentils at no additional cost. An additional half kilo that he already knew it would be his destiny to spend the evening carrying around the bazaar. He looked back at the balloons, and as he watched, one of them, an impossibly radiant five pointed star, floated heavenwards, and then exploded in a shower of iridescence, each fragment now a star in its own right. This was the first thing Mithun noticed.

The second was that he seemed to be the only person who had noticed it.

“Come here, boy.” (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 587: Strange Waters

Show Notes

Rated: PG, for a parent guiding herself home.


Strange Waters

By Samantha Mills

Fisherwoman Mika Sandrigal was lost at sea. She knew where she was in relation to the Candorrean coastline and how to navigate back to her home city, Maelstrom. She knew the time of day. She knew the season. She knew the phase of the moon and the pattern of the tide.

She did not know the year.

Strange waters flowed beneath the hull of her fishing boat, illuminating the midnight darkness with phosphorescent swirls of yellow and green. The thick scent of pepper and brine tickled her nose, and she knew that a juggernaut swam far below, vast and merciless and consuming shield fish by the thousands.

Mika squinted up at a familiar night sky, at the Dancing Girl, the Triplets, the Mad Horse. She had fished off this coast for nearly twenty years, eight of them lost in time. She’d seen green waters, pink waters, blue. She’d been to Candorrea when it was a loose collection of fishing villages, and she’d been to Candorrea when the buildings were so tall she could hardly look at them without shaking. No matter what century she washed up in, however, the constellations were there to guide her home.

It was a windless night. Mika pulled out her oars and set course for Maelstrom, keen to find out when she had landed. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 578: The Bone Poet and God

Show Notes

Rated PG.


The Bone Poet and God

by Matt Dovey

Ursula lifted her snout to look at the mountain. The meadowed foothills she stood in were dotted with poppy and primrose and cranesbill and cowslip, an explosion of color and scent in the late spring sun, the long grass tickling her paws and her hind legs; above that the forested slopes, birch and rowan and willow and alder rising into needle-pines and gray firs; above that the snowline, ice and rock and brutal winds.

And above that, at the top, God; and with God, the answer Ursula had traveled so far for: what kind of bear am I meant to be?

She shouldered her bonesack and walked on. (Continue Reading…)