Archive for Rated PG

PodCastle 310: When the Lady Speaks

by Damien Angelica Walters
Read by LaShawn Wanak
Originally published in What Fates Impose, edited by Nayad Monroe

Marina locks the door, twists the blinds shut, and heads back through the beaded curtain, parting it with both hands so the strands don’t get tangled in her wig. Leaving the lights dimmed, she sinks down into her chair, as if her entire body holds the weight of what is yet unknown and unspoken.

The walls of what she calls the parlor are a dusky red, cluttered with
mirrors and tiny shelves with dragons and gargoyles and crystals. The table is a simple thing, but covered with several heavy tablecloths, all with tassels hanging from the corners. She found the chairs at a thrift store—the dark wood and velvet cushions from another time. A Turkish rug, another thrift store find, covers the floor completely. Every bit of fabric holds a trace of the incense she burns every morning before her clients arrive, a potent blend of frankincense and musk. But not too much; she isn’t a church and absolution doesn’t come in a deck of cards or a mouthful of evocative words.

She peels the fingerless gloves from her hands. Drops them on the
table with a weary sigh. In the center of her left palm, the tip of a
red thread pokes from the skin like a tiny drop of dried blood. When
she touches the thread, she smells the tang of oranges, tastes honey
on her tongue; both small gifts from the magic. She takes a quick
breath before she pulls the thread free. There’s a sharp bite of pain,
like the last little sting of a scab tugged from a wound. Not a gift, but a price to be paid.

Rated PG.

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PodCastle 303: The Wrong Foot

by Stephanie Burgis

Read by Renee Chambliss

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction. Read it here!

“You must know,” I began, “I’m not the girl you’re looking for.”
“Mm-hmm,” the prince murmured absently. “Very honored, yes, I understand, they all are. You needn’t tell me.”
“I didn’t,” I muttered.
The other man bit back a grin.
“Shhh!” Mama hissed. “Your Highness, may I offer you and your friend any–oh! Oh!” she squealed, raising both hands to her mouth. Her eyes misted over with tears of delight. “Oh, Sophia, it fits! It really fits!”
I stared. I blinked and stared again. But she was right. The glass molded to my foot as neatly–and as chillingly, for glass is a cold material–as if it had been made for me.
I regarded it as I would a poisonous plant that had thrown its tendrils through my bedroom window. The prince looked equally shocked, but more surprised than horrified. He stared at my foot. He wiggled the shoe. Nothing he did made any difference. The fit was absolutely perfect.

Rated PG.

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PodCastle 300: Ilse, Who Saw Clearly

by E. Lily Yu

Read by Wilson Fowlie (of the Maple Leaf Singers)

Originally published in Apex, 2013. Read it here!

Once, among the indigo mountains of Germany, there was a kingdom of blue-eyed men and women whose blood was tinged blue with cold. The citizens were skilled in clockwork, escapements, and piano manufacture, and the clocks and pianos of that country were famous throughout the world. Their children pulled on rabbit-fur gloves before they sat down to practice their etudes, for it was so cold the notes rang and clanged in the air. It was coldest of all in the town on the highest mountain, where there lived a girl called Ilse, who was neither beautiful nor ugly, neither good nor wicked. Yet she was not quite undistinguished, because she was in love.

One afternoon, when the air was glittering with the sounds of innumerable pianos, a stranger as stout as a barrel and swathed to his nosetip walked through the town, singing. Where he walked the pianos fell silent, and wheat-haired boys and girls cracked shutters into the bitter cold to peep at him. And what he sang was this:

Ice for sale, eyes for sale,
If your complexion be dark or pale
If your old eyes be sharp or frail,
Come buy, come buy, bright ice for sale!

Only his listeners could not tell whether he was selling ice or eyes, because he spoke in an odd accent and through a thick scarf.

Rated PG.

Thank you so much for being with us for 300 episodes!

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PodCastle 298: The Shadowcrafter

by Ken Liu

Read by Aki Gibbons

Originally published in Nine.

This story begins, as all of my creations do, in shadows.

No story is without its particular emphases and elisions, just as no woman goes about without her makeup.  Many women on our home island of Uchinaa (they call it _Okinawa_ here in Japan), and on the other islands that make up our Kingdom of Ruuchuu, copy the rumors of fashion in Nanjing and Beijing, in Kagoshima and Edo, and smother their faces with smooth creams and bright rouge, sweet-smelling powders and red lip wax.

But they do not understand the true secret of the art of enhancing a woman’s beauty, which now I will teach you.

A face is not a flat piece of paper.  Like the surface of our island, it has heights and depths, peaks and valleys.  That means shadows.

Rated PG. Includes war, and violence.

 

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