Rated R: Contains Language, Violence, and Disturbing Imagery circa Hurricane Katrina.
Editors’ note: This episode originally aired as PodCastle 154. We are reissuing it to celebrate PodCastle’s 10th anniversary. This story was in third place in a listener vote that was held to determine PodCastle’s most-loved episodes over the past decade.
Sinners, Saints, Dragons, and Haints, in the City Beneath the Still Waters
By N.K. Jemisin
Tookie sat on the porch of his shotgun house, watching the rain fall sideways. A lizard strolled by on the worn dirt-strip that passed for a sidewalk, easy as you please, as if there wasn’t an inch of water already collected around its paws. It noticed him and stopped.
“Hey,” it said, inclining its head to him in a neighborly fashion.
“‘Sup,” Tookie replied, jerking his chin up in return.
“You gon’ stay put?” it asked. “Storm comin’.”
“Yeah,” said Tookie. “I got food from the grocery.”
“Ain’ gon’ need no food if you drown, man.”
The lizard sat down on the sidewalk, oblivious to the driving wind, and joined Tookie in watching the rain fall. Tookie idly reflected that the lizard might be an alligator, in which case he should maybe go get his gun. He decided against it, though, because the creature had wide batlike wings and he was fairly certain gators didn’t have those. These wings were the color of rusty, jaundiced clouds, like those he’d seen approaching from the southeast just before the rain began.