Archive for Rated R

PodCastle 381: The Vandalists

by Natalia Theodoridou
read by Ian Stuart

First published in Spark: A Creative Anthology Vol. IV.

It always starts the same way.

First, a tiny feeling of unease.

You breathe.

Then, the sweating. Your forehead, your palms, your back. It’s from the heat, you say, I should open a window, but the windows here are not designed to open. You turn on the air-conditioning until it’s blasting polar temperatures in your office. You breathe. You try to imagine you are inhaling fresh air. You’re choking. Your hands are trembling slightly. Then your cheekbones go numb. Your lips too. Your palms. Your field of vision is narrow, it turns into a long, dark tunnel. Through the tunnel you try to find the pills you’ve never admitted you keep in the top right drawer of your desk. You find them. You swallow two. Now the walls are shaking. A flame flares up right in the center of your chest and spreads to your entire body. You enter the tunnel and search for the door. You find it. You are looking for the escape exit. You find that one too–thank you, you say, to no-one in particular. You climb the stairs to the roof. Your breathing is quick, your head light. Like a feather, you think, because that’s the first cliché that comes to your mind and you love your clichés, treasure them. The buzz in your ears is blocking out all other sound. You open the roof door and emerge under the blinding sky. Your jacket feels tight. You take it off. Your tie is flapping around your neck like a noose. You loosen it. You walk to the edge of the roof. You bend your knee, plant it squarely on the cement. The thought crosses your mind–to jump, just so you can escape this panic. But with that thought the buzz recedes. Through the tunnel you look at the city sprawled under your feet, a forest made of concrete. The wind freezes the sweat against your skin. You think you hear the distant roar of a lion..

Rated R for adult themes, disturbing imagery.

Natalia Theodoridou is originally from Greece, but is currently based in Portsmouth, UK. She is recovering from a PhD in Media and Cultural Studies (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London). Her writing has appeared in Clarkesworld, Crossed Genres, Strange Horizons, and elsewhere. If you’d like to find out more, you can visit, or just come say hi @natalia_theodor on Twitter.

Ian Stuart is the golden-voiced father of the equally golden-voiced Alasdair Stuart.


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PodCastle 380: Spirit Forms of the Sea

by Bogi Takács

read by Setsu Uzume

First published in Sword and Mythos.

Réka steps forward from between two tents. She looks dazed and one of her braids is partly undone; the guard must’ve found her asleep.

She frowns at the stranger and her eyes narrow even further in the morning sunlight.

He smiles at her the way he would smile at one of his younger sisters, or even one of his own children. My stomach turns. Then he lets loose his spirit form and it ascends to the sky, a majestic white horse not matching his pedestrian self.

Rated R.

Bogi Takács is a neutrally gendered Hungarian Jewish person who’s recently moved to the US. Eir fiction and poetry have been published in venues like Clarkesworld, Apex and Strange Horizons, where e also won last year’s Readers’ Poll in Poetry category with an animated poem, You Are Here / Was: Blue Line to Memorial Park. Eir website is at and you can follow em on Twitter as @bogiperson, where e also tweets SFF short story and poem recommendations by diverse authors on a semi-regular basis.

Setsu Uzume spent her formative years in and out of dojos. She also trained in a monastery in rural China, studying Daoism and swordplay. She is a member of Codex and SFWA. While she has dabbled in many arts, only writing and martial arts seem to have stuck. You can find her on the web at, and on Twitter @KatanaPen.

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PodCastle 376: Ink

by Sandra M. Odell

read by Sean D. Sorrentino

A PodCastle Original!

A woman stood at the tattoo parlor’s door. Small, damp from the storm, hair disheveled and slightly askew. Comfortable in her clothes, not her skin. The sight of her made Tiger’s chest itch, and his tattoos tingle. He turned down the stereo. “Can I help you with something?”

The woman looked at the shelves stuffed with pattern books, the posters of half­-naked men and women displaying their tattoos and piercings. “Is this Stars And Stripes Ink?”

Her voice had a touch of falsetto.

“That’s what the sign says in the window.”

She brushed aside her bangs, tugging her hair back into place in a way Tiger supposed he wasn’t meant to notice. “I would like a tattoo.”

Rated R.

Sandra M. Odell lives with her husband, sons, and cats in Washington state.  Her work has appeared in such venues as Jim Baen’s UNIVERSE, Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, and Galaxy’s Edge.  A Clarion West 2010 graduate, she is currently hard at work on plotting her second novel.  Or world domination.  Whichever comes first.

THE TWELVE WAYS OF CHRISTMAS, her collection of speculative fiction holiday stories, is available from Hydra House Books.

Sean D. Sorrentino lives in the Raleigh North Carolina area with his wife and his dog.

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PodCastle 375: The Child Support of Cromdor the Condemned

by Spencer Ellsworth
read by Graeme Dunlop
A PodCastle Original!

Cromdor the Calderian, thrice-cursed, thrice-condemned, (I’ve forgotten the rest, but believe you me, there is thrice-more) had nearly finished his tale when the traveler slipped in. As he had for the last ten days and ten before that, Cromdor had a packed house. Course, “packed house” is relative—last winter a mudslide tore away half the common room, and Yargin had been rebuilding when he fell through the thatch and died on that floor. Damned if Greta, his daughter, didn’t ever try to stop his goats from getting in, or doing their business in the corners.

So’s only the old folks came. A fine summer night, and we’d have sunlight until midnight, and stories to go with it, but the young ones were mostly down at the church, praying for the holy warriors on their mission in Ursalim, worshipping the new Bleeding God. Don’t the weather matter? The crop? How’s one god gonna keep track of all that?

Point being, the traveler stuck out.

Want to read the full story? Just click here!

Rated R.

Spencer Ellsworth lives in Bellingham, WA, with his with and three children. He works as a teacher and administrator at Northwest Indian College, and his work has appeared in Fantasy & Science Fiction, Michael Moorcock’s New Worlds, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and many other places. He has been trying to get a story past Podcastle ever since Rachel Swirsky’s tenure as editor, and victory is sweet. You can read his blog, listen to his band and find links to his stories at

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