Archive for Rated PG

PC015: The Yeti Behind You


By Jeremiah Tolbert
Read by Elie Hirschman
First appeared in Fantasy (Prime Books)

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Michael takes frequent coffee breaks, even though the caffeine makes him jittery and he finds the taste too bitter. He doesn’t recognize many of the animals, but Google knows all, and identifying the animals is time consuming but not terribly difficult. At lunch, the employee parking lot is full of sauropods and Pleistocene mammals that are too large to squeeze inside the building. A Triceratops, his favorite dinosaur when he was a boy, mingles with a giant sloth and something resembling a nine foot tall carnivorous duck with a bill shaped like an axe. Moas, looking like shaggy-dog ostriches, roam the halls of the office. Marsupial lions and miniature horses guard the entrances to cubicles.

The observers are all members of an extinct species. At first, Michael thought that his own yeti might be an exception–being that a yeti is a mythological creature, not an extinct one—but then he discovered __Gigantopithecus blacki__ on a primatologist’s website. The males weighed twelve hundred pounds and stood ten feet tall, but the females were smaller. Michael believes that his silent observer is a female. He considers the name of __Gigantopithecus__, but ultimately discards it. Yeti is easier to remember.

He finds an interesting quote that he prints out, nervously pacing around the laser printer as it warms up and finally prints. Hibbets would pitch a fit if he found anyone using the printers for personal reasons.

Michael snatches up the printout and reads it once aloud. “An old Sherpa once observed: ‘There is a yeti in the back of everyone’s mind; only the blessed are not haunted by it.'” He stares at the paper for a few moments after speaking the words aloud, then crumples the sheet into a ball and stuffs it into his pocket before returning to his desk.

Rated PG. Contains strong feelings of ambiguity.

Featured Intro Links:
Dr. Roundbottom, at clockpunk.com.

Elie Hirschman’s podcasting links:
http://www.dregold.net
http://www.darkerprojects.com

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PC014: The Grand Cheat


By Hilary Moon Murphy
Read by Rajan Khanna
First appeared in Tales of the Unanticipated.

My finest cheat started long ago, before India was even a country. Most of us were still under British rule, one way or another. I was apprenticed to Sri Ghare, one of the greatest negotiators in the princely states. I lived with him and his wife in a fine manor. Though I was from a poor family, he always treated me like I was his own son.

When Sri Ghare’s wife was great with child, he was called to negotiate for the local rajah. Sri Ghare made me promise to take care of her while he was gone. When my master’s wife went into labor, the female servants shooed me out of the house, knowing that I would only be in the way. But I had promised my master, and I was very worried. What if something should go wrong with the birth?

So I cheated. I sneaked back into the house when the servants were too busy to check for me. At first, I only listened through the sheer, blue draperies that curtained off the women’s quarters, but all I could hear were screams, sobs, and muffled assurances. I crawled under the draperies, coming as close as I dared. The sounds were so awful, I was certain that she must be dying.

I meditated in the doorway to her rooms and prayed deeply for safety of mother and child. I prayed harder than I ever had before. I prayed so hard that I became aware of the god who was trying to slip past me into the rooms don’t ask me how I knew it was a god, I just knew – and I cried, “Hold!

“No one says ‘Hold’ to me, mortal,” the god rumbled.

Rated PG. Contains schemes, cheats, and tricksters.

Featured Intro Link: Clarion West Write-a-thon

Individual Author Pages:
Michael Swanwick
Ada Milenkovich Brown
K. Tempest Bradford
Vylar Kaftan
Cat Rambo
C. G. Furst
Gord Sellar
Kristine Dikeman
Nisi Shawl
Tina Connolly
Stephanie Burgis
Rachel Swirsky

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PC013: Spell of the Sparrow


By Jim C. Hines.
Read by Tina Connolly.
Introduction by Erin Cashier.
First appeared in Sword and Sorceress, XXI.

I was in the woods behind our cabin, trying yet again to dissuade my daughter from this wizarding business.

“I _like_ magic,” Mel protested. “And I’m good at it. Remember the spell I made up last week?”

“The spell that changed my daggers into caterpillars?” James and I were still pulling cocoons out of the laundry.

“No, the other one.”

I crossed my arms and did my best to look parental. “The one that sent my undergarments on a mad dash for freedom?”

She covered her mouth, trying to hide a gap-toothed grin. “I got it right the next time. Don’t your clothes smell nicer?”

“They do… those that aren’t hightailing it for the border.”

It was no use. After two years, I knew I couldn’t win, but I kept trying. James and I thought that if we could teach her another skill, something respectable…..

Rated PG. Contains ghost cats, precocious girls, and amorous spouse-stealers.

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PC010: Magic in a Certain Slant of Light


By Deborah Coates
Read by Cat Rambo
Introduction by Ann Leckie
First appeared in Strange Horizons (full text at link.)

“If you could wish for something magical, what would you wish for?” Jeff asks Nora as he enters the kitchen.

Jeff has been gone all day, helping a friend fix the plumbing in his basement. There’s no “Hello,” or “How was your day?” Just Jeff, in the doorway, asking about magic. “It can’t be about yourself,” he continues. “I mean, like making yourself immortal. Or about world peace. It has to be—”

“Talking dogs,” Nora says.

Jeff smiles in that way he has that seems to change his face. He’s wearing faded jeans and a sweatshirt that’s been washed so many times its cuffs are all unraveled; it’s a change from pin-striped suits and crisp white shirts. “You know, Dexter made a dog talk once and it didn’t work out like he figured it would. That dog was annoying.”

“Well, I don’t know how to tell you this”—Nora chops onions under running water, then transfers them to the frying pan on the stove—”but I don’t rely on Dexter’s Laboratory for my scientific knowledge.”

“Talking dogs are not scientific.”

“Yeah, magical.” Nora turns the heat up on the pan and looks through the cupboards for the spices that she needs. She swears that they’re never where she put them, no matter how often she returns them to their proper place. “That’s what we were talking about, right? Magic? You tell me, what would you wish for?”

“Zeppelins,” he says without hesitation.

“Uhm, zeppelins actually exist.”

He stands in the kitchen doorway, slouched against the frame, and she knows that he will leave her. There is something in the way he looks, a shadow in his eye, that wasn’t there yesterday or even this morning. And it almost kills her, like being stabbed right through the heart, because he’s the only one she ever really loved.

“Zeppelins,” he says, crossing to her and putting his arms around her waist from behind as she turns back to the stove, “are a collective figment of the imagination.”

“Zeppelins are totally possible. Plus, you can ride in one.”

He kisses the back of her neck and it feels like the soft brush of sun-warmed honey. “Bring me a zeppelin,” he says. His words murmur against her skin as he talks and she can feel his smile through the small hairs along the nape of her neck. “Then I’ll believe you.”

Rated PG. Contains zeppelins. Of a sort.

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