Archive for Rated PG

PodCastle 346: The Pilgrim and the Angel

by E. Lily Yu

Read by Rajan Khanna

Originally published in McSweeney’s Quarterly 45.

Three days before Mr. Fareed Halawi was washed and turned to face the northeast, a beatific smile on his face, he had the unusual distinction of entertaining the angel Gabriel at the coffeeshop he operated in the unfashionable district of Moqattam in Cairo. Fareed was tipped back in his monobloc chair, watching the soccer game on television. The cigarette between his lips wobbled with disapproval at the referee’s calls. Above him on the wall hung the photograph of a young man, barely eighteen, bleached to pale blue. His rolled-up prayer mat rested below. It was a quiet hour before lunch, and the coffeeshop was empty. Right as the referee held up a yellow card, a scrub-bearded man strode in.

“Peace to you, Fareed,” the stranger boomed. “Arise!”

Fareed laughed and tapped out a grub of ash. “Peace to you. New to the neighborhood?”

“Not at all. I know you, Fareed,” the stranger said. “You pray with devotion and give generously to the poor.”

“So does my neighbor,” said Fareed, “though that hasn’t helped him find a husband for his big-nosed daughter. Can I get you a glass of tea?”

“The one thing you lack to perfect your faith is the hajj.”

“Well, with business as slow as it is, and one thing and another…” Fareed coughed. “Truth is, may God forgive me, I’m saving up to visit my son. He’s an electrician in Miami. Doesn’t call home. What would you like to drink?”

“I have come to take you on hajj.”

Rated PG.

Greg Campbell, author and Navy Veteran needs your help! Click here to find out how you can help him and his children after a fire.

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PodCastle 344: Flash Fiction Extravaganza! Other Worlds Than These

“The Problem With Other Worlds,” by Nick Scorza
Read by Dave Thompson
A PodCastle Original!

At the bottom of an old boarded-up well is the world you really come from.  You were plucked from it as a child, and all the miseries of your life, all the ways the world you know does not fit you, are a consequence of this.

“Paperheart,” by Tina Connolly
Read by M.K. Hobson
Originally published in Bibliotheca Fantastica, ed Claude Lalumiere & Don Pizarro

After his wife died, the magician stayed in his library for three days with the door barred. Purple smoke poured from the chimney and something that might have been salt tears came in a trickle out of the windowsill, as the magician forbade water, even his own, anywhere near his books. When the three days passed, the magician came forth dry-eyed and forbade anyone to mention her name again.

“Portal Worlds and Your Child (A Parent’s Guide),” by Matt Mikalatos
Read by Peter Wood
Originally published in Daily Science Fiction. Read it here!

Warning Signs. One in every 250 children experiences inter-dimensional travel before the age of 18. Siblings and cousins are 40% more likely to enter another dimension than single children. If you discover your child hiding medieval items (crowns, trumpets, tapestries, chastity belts, swords, etc.), take action immediately. Likewise, if potential magical artifacts are found (uncommon rings, buttons, feathers, etc.), confiscate the item and talk to your child. Watch for imaginary friends, talking animals or strange behaviors (avoiding sidewalk cracks, fear of open closets, obsessively locking bedroom windows, etc.).

Rated PG!

For further explorations into different worlds and escapism, we highly recommend reading or listening to our own LaShawn M. Wanak’s 21 Steps to Enlightenment (Minus One). We think it’s pretty incredible.

Happy New Year!

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PodCastle 339: Help Summon the Most Holy Folded One!

by Harry Connolly

With a Special Full Cast Reading!

Wilson Fowlie as the Narrator
Dave Thompson as Chris “Exalted” Clark
Graeme Dunlop as Elder Devout
M.K. Hobson as Arlo Glick
Anna Schwind as Graciela Chan
LaShawn Wanak as Shontay Jackson
Amanda Fitzwater as True AmericanTina Connolly as Lanie Armstorng
and Ann Leckie as Justin Side

Originally published in Help Fund My Robot Army! and Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects, edited by John Joseph Adams

You’ve Heard The Experts

How many styles of taco are there? Not just fish/pork/beef/chicken, but also puffed, breakfast, even Chocotacos (if you can stand the very thought). There are disagreements over whether they should be made with corn or flour tortillas, whether they should be hard or soft, and whether they should be steamed, grilled, or fried. You’ve seen the recipes that were handed down through the generations and recipes that were created on the fly by some of the greatest chefs in the world.

Well, that’s not good enough for us.

What is the ultimate taco? What is the most perfect guacamole recipe? Perhaps more important of all: flour or corn?

Now Learn From The Greatest “Master Chef” Of All

We have acquired a small plot of land in New Mexico and have planted a special crop of heritage maize: No GMO, no pesticides, no industrial fertilizer. The land is being farmed the way it was 200 years ago, when campesinos worked the land with donkeys and hand plows.

What’s more, the seeds have been planted in a special design found only in El Libro de los Muertos. When the crop matures this fall, I will conduct a secret, sacred ritual to summon the Most Holy of Holies: The Folded One.

The God of Tacos.

Rated PG!

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PodCastle 335: The Gorgon

by Clark Ashton Smith

Read by Norm Sherman (Maybe you’ve Heard of him from Escape Pod or the Drabblecast?)

Originally published in Weird Tales, 1932 (and check out The Dark Eiodolon and Other Fantasies, edited by S.T. Joshi, out now from Penguin Books!)

I have no reason to expect that anyone will believe my story. If it were another’s tale, probably I should not feel inclined to give it credence myself. I tell it herewith. hoping that the mere act of narration, the mere shaping of this macabre day-mare adventure into words will in some slight measure serve to relieve my mind of its execrable burden. There have been times when only a hair’s-breadth has intervened betwixt myself and the seething devil-ridden world of madness; for the hideous knowledge, the horror- blackened memories which I have carried so long, were never meant to be borne by the human intellect.

A singular confession, no doubt, for one who has always been a connoisseur of horrors. The deadly, the malign, and baleful things that lurk in the labyrinth of existence have held for me a fascination no less potent than unholy. I have sought them out and looked upon them as one who sees the fatal eyes of the basilisk in a mirror; or as a savant who handles corrosive poisons in his laboratory with mask. and gloves. Never did they have for me the least hint of personal menace, since I viewed them with the most impersonal detachment. I have investigated many clues of the spectral, the ghastly, the bizarre, and many mazes of terror from which others would have recoiled with caution or trepidation… But now I could wish that there were one lure which I had not followed, one labyrinth which my curiosity had not explored…

More incredible than all else, perhaps, is the very fact that the thing occurred in Twentieth Century London. The sheer anachronism and fabulosity of the happening has made me doubt the verities of time and space; and ever since then I have been as one adrift on starless seas of confusion, or roaming through unmapped dimensions. Never have I been quite able to re-orient myself, to be altogether sure that I have not gone astray in other centuries, in other lands than those declared by the chronology and geography of the present. I have continual need of modern crowds, of glaring lights, of laughter and clangor and tumult to reassure me; and always I am afraid that such things are only an insubstantial barrier; that behind them lies the realm of ancient horror and immemorial malignity of which I have had this one abominable glimpse. And always it seems to me that the veil will dissolve at any moment, and leave me face to face with an ultimate Fear.

 Rated PG. Contains monsters.

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