Archive for Rated R

PodCastle 314: The Nameless Saint

by Willow Fagan
Read by Jen Rhodes (of the Anomaly Podcast)
Originally published by The Dark Magazine.

They all think that she is a cat lady: harmlessly crazy, smelly, alone. They have no idea that her house is full of cages, that she is a modern-day saint. They have no idea that she has sold her names for them, for the power to help them. Her names: her Christian name, her maiden name, and the name her husband gave her– these were all empty inheritances from people who left far too soon. They were a small price to pay for sainthood, for the chance to help them, the people who do not understand: the women who look away in the supermarket, the children who dare each other to climb over her fence, the men who will not stop manufacturing misery with their fists, their pants unzipped and crumpled on the wrong floors.
She collects their misery, keeps it safe from the world, the world safe from it, locked up in her house. Look, even now, when her bones pop every time she bends her knees, the nameless woman is crouched in the bushes beneath a stranger’s window.
The nameless woman holds up a glass bottle, empty save a slice of lemon anointed with her spit. (The lemon draws the misery in.) The misery in this house is subtle but lingering, like the smell of autumn leaves in the winter, like a fugue played slowly on a piano. Here, there is no man, only a woman with her silences, her long afternoons, her memories.
A waft of blue floats out of the window, like watercolor paint drifting in the air, and coalesces into the bottle. The misery appears midstream, a tiny, thin creature, dwarfed by its own delicate, intricate wings. The misery flaps its wings, struggling against the pull of the lemon. Though its wings are nearly useless, its will is not, and its movement slows. Impatient, she holds up the bottle to shorten the distance. As the misery is sucked into the bottle, and she twists the cap on triumphantly, a voice calls out, “What are you doing?”
Rated R: Contains Misery.

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PodCastle, Episode 313: This is a Ghost Story

by Keffy R.M. Kehrli
Read by Rajan Khanna
Originally published in Apex. Read it here!

Turn up the sound too late for the question.

He runs cigarette–stained fingers over the stubble on his chin and
leans on the arm of the leather couch. He crosses his legs, skinny
jeans worn and ragged. He’s still wearing old Chucks with the tread
half–gone, even though he could buy a thousand new pairs. He doesn’t wear the Mister Rogers sweaters anymore. Sometimes he still wears dresses for the fuck of it, but today he’s wearing a white t–shirt that looks like his kid doodled on it with four colors of Sharpie. A bloodied stick man holds a shotgun.

He licks his lips, and he doesn’t look at the camera, or at the floor,
or at the interviewer’s face. He’s focused on the space between, like
it’s a gulf or a fence or a wall. He says, “Yeah, it was pretty rough
for a while, you know. I kept saying things were getting better, but
really they weren’t. Eventually it was clean up or die, so…

“I started thinking about doing music for other shit, not because I
needed the money, but to fuck with people. Then I thought maybe I’d do a Disney soundtrack, but it’d probably end up like in Fight Club where the guy’s splicing porn into kid movies.”

Then the interviewer asks about _his_ kid, and he grins. “She’s
great,” he says. “I know that’s not very ‘punk rock’ of me, but
whatever.”

What are you looking at? This interview never fucking happened.

Rated R: Contains profanity, suicide, drug and sexual references, and rock n’ roll.

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PodCastle 309: Underbridge

by Peter S. Beagle

Read by John Michnya

Originally published in Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy, edited by Ellen Datlow

The legendary rain of the Pacific Northwest was not an issue; if anything, he discovered that he enjoyed it. Having studied the data on Seattle climate carefully, once he knew he was going there, he understood that many areas of both coasts get notably more rain, in terms of inches, and endure distinctly colder winters. And the year-round greenness and lack of air pollution more than made up for the mildew, as far as Richardson was concerned. Damp or not, it beat Joplin. Or Hobbs, New Mexico. Or Enterprise, Alabama.

What the greenness did not make up for was the near-perpetual overcast. Seattle’s sky was dazzlingly, exaltingly, shockingly blue when it chose to be so; but there was a reason that the city consumed more than its share of vitamin D, and was the first marketplace for various full-spectrum lightbulbs. Seattle introduced Richardson to an entirely new understanding of the word overcast, sometimes going two months and more without seeing either clear skies or an honest raindrop. He had not been prepared for this.

Many things that shrink from sunlight gain power in fog and murk. Richardson began to find himself reluctant enough to leave the atmosphere of the UW campus that he often stayed on after work, attending lectures that bored him, going to showings of films he didn’t understand — even once dropping in on a faculty meeting, though this was not required of him. The main subject under discussion was the urgent need to replace a particular TA, who for six years had been covering most of the undergraduate classes of professors far too occupied with important matters to deal with actual students. Another year would have required granting him a tenure-track assistant professorship, which was, of course, out of the question. Sitting uncomfortably in the back, saying nothing, Richardson felt he was somehow attending his own autopsy.

And when Richardson finally went home in darkness to the warm, comfortable apartment that was not his own, and the company of the sour-smelling old gray cat, he frequently went out again to walk aimlessly on steep, silent Queen Anne Hill and beyond, watching the lights go out in window after window. If rain did not fall, he might well wander until three or four in the morning, as he had never before done in his life.

But it was in daylight that Richardson first saw the Troll.

Rated R. Contains Trolls, and Adult Themes

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PodCastle 308: Gazing into the Carnauba Wax Eyes of the Future

by Keffy R.M. Kehrli

Read by John Meagher (of The Tales of the Left Hand podiobooks)

Originally published in the What Fates Impose anthology, edited by Nayad Monroe.

My legs are tired from crouching, so I slide the empty backpack under my knees. Boxes and cellophane crinkle. Even though I’ve touched the wall, I try to shove my finger down my throat, but that just gives me a gag reflex with no payoff.

“Come on,” I mutter into the toilet bowl. The “clean” water ripples from my breath. “All I need are six numbers.”

The peeps finally come back up of their own accord, a flood of sweet foam that forms swirling pastel pink-yellow-blue mounds, floating islands of partially digested sugar studded over with flecks of pep eyeballs.

And then I’m standing at a track, with a wad of worthless receipts in my hand. The races are long over. There’s some guy sweeping under the seats, not looking me in the face.

Rated R. Contains F-bombs, Eating Disorders, and Peeps.

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