Archive for Rated R

PodCastle 316, Giant Episode: The Meaning of Love

by Daniel Abraham.
Read by M.K. Hobson.
Originally appeared in Rogues edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.


The name Sovereign North Bank referred to a strip of land along the river Taunis within the great city of Nevripal, but not of it. It existed first as an accident of politics. When, centuries before, the wizards of the Hanish Empire sued for peace after the War of Ten Emperors, the lands surrounding the slow, dark river were ceded to the Council of Nestripon, but an exception was made for the Hanish winter palace and its grounds which were the favorites of the Empress. In a sentimental gesture of good faith that often follows wars between monarchs who are also family, the land remained technically within the Hanish Empire, though no official or citizen remained there. The mayor and burgers of Nevripal, not sharing the familial fondness for their defeated enemies, declared that the Sovereign North Bank was, in essence, its own problem. With no Hanish to oversee it and no Nestripon willing to take responsibility, it became that rarest of all places: an autonomous zone where the law protected and enforced lawlessness.
Over the ages since, the north bank had become a curiosity. The detritus of a dozen cultures found their way there, or were forced to it when there was no other refuge. The sluggish, dark waters of the Taunis carried barges and rafts to the muddy shores. Criminals and debtors fled to it, refugees of wars national and domestic, the addicted and the poverty-lost. And like the vast and mindless organism that it was, the Sovereign North Bank grew.
That there were no magistrates did not mean there were no planners, no architects, no geniuses or madmen. Rather it meant there was no restraint to those who lived there and invented.

Rated R for violence, strong language and sex.

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PodCastle 315: Stranger vs. the Malevolent Malignancy

by Jim C. Hines
Originally published in Unidentified Funny Objects 2, edited by Alex Shvartsman.

Read by a full cast!
Rish Outfield as the Narrator
Dave Thompson as Stranger
Big Anklevich as the Tumor
M.K. Hobson as Scaramouche
Wilson Fowlie as Jarhead
Marguerite Kenner as Kelly Kane
LaShawn Wanak as Dr. April Alexander
Nathaniel Lee as Officer Conroy
and Tina Connolly as The Halloween Princess
C.S.E. Cooney, Steve Anderson, Rish Outfield, and Peter Wood as various inanimate objects, reporters, fans, etc.

Stranger shifted in the armchair and forced himself to make eye contact with his therapist: a decapitated head floating in an oversized jar of blue-tinged nutrient fluid. Long gray-blond hair drifted like tentacles. The base of the jar was decorated in a red and yellow floral pattern, reminiscent of the Hawaiian shirts Jarhead wore back in his full-bodied superhero days.

“In all my time on this planet, I’ve never killed anyone,” said Stranger.
“I’ve never _wanted_ to before.”

Jarhead’s voice emerged, slightly mechanical, from a speaker below his chin. “Given your history with Scaramouche, it’s no surprise she knows how to press your buttons.”

Jarhead was a former speedster, a superhero from the seventies whose career on the east coast had come to an abrupt end when his nemesis strung a high-tensile wire across the road at neck height. Only the hyperquick actions of Jarhead’s sidekick Robogirl had allowed him to survive . . . if you could call it survival.

“When do I get to talk? I’ve got traumas of my own, you know!”

Stranger did his best to ignore the taunts, which was difficult, considering they came from within his own bowel.

“It’s talking to you again, isn’t it?” asked Jarhead.

Rated R. Contains F-bombs, potty jokes, superheroes, and cancer.

Please consider donating to the Clayton Memorial Medical Fund, Cancer Research Institute, CureSearch for Children’s Cancer, or The American Cancer Society.

Thanks for the stories, and for bearing witness, Jay.

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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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