Archive for Rated R

PodCastle 57: In Ashes

Show Notes

Rated R. Contains potentially disturbing imagery and unkindness toward children.


In Ashes

by Helen Keeble

From the time my twin brother and I were four, our mother only gave us raw food. Before then I can remember sometimes eating cold, cooked things—porridge congealed onto the bottom of my bowl, soups with a white floating scum of fats—but that stopped after our fourth birthday, when my brother laughed and said “Hot!” as he tasted the cake that my mother had spent an hour baking and three days cooling. She whipped him for that, while I howled and hung onto her arm, and sent us both to our beds in the cowshed. Later she came out with two handfuls of dried apricots and hugged us in the dark, her great rough hands pressing our faces against her chest—but the next day there was only raw food for dinner, withered apples and sliced turnip, and the day after that, and the day after that.

The next time our birthday came round, I whined for a cake, but she said we could only have one if my brother would blow out a candle. For me, he tried, drawing in huge breath after huge breath while I gripped his crippled hand under the table, squeezing encouragement; but each lungful of air trickled out unused as he stared rapt at the flickering light. My mother sat opposite us, expressionless and still, the flame reflected in her eyes. The candle burned down to a melted pool of wax and went out. My mother never made another cake. I never saw her cook anything ever again.

PodCastle 56: Shard of Glass

Show Notes

Rated R. for violent and possibly disturbing images.


Shard of Glass

by Alaya Dawn Johnson

“Get in the car, Leah,” my mother said. Her already husky voice was pitched low, as though she’d been crying. That made me nervous. Why was she here?

“Ma, Chloe was going to show me her dad’s new camera. Can’t I go home on the bus?”

My mom pulled on the cigarette until it burned the filter, and then ground it into the car ashtray—already filled with forty or so butts. She always emptied out the ashtray each evening.

“Get in the car, Leah.” My mom’s voice was even huskier as she lit another cigarette and tossed the match out of the window. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 55: Bottom Feeding

Show Notes

Rated R. for fish-related hijinks.


Bottom Feeding

By Tim Pratt

The salmon of knowledge lived a long time ago, in the Well of Segais, where the waters ran deep and clear as rippling air. He swam there, thinking his deep thoughts, coming to the surface occasionally to eat the magical hazel-nuts that fell into the water from the trees on the bank. Every nut contained revelations, but the salmon was not a mere living compendium of knowledge — he was a wise fish, too, and so chose to live quietly, waiting for the inevitable day when he would be caught and devoured. The salmon dimly remembered past (and perhaps future) lives, experiences inside and outside of time, from the whole history of the land: being blinded by a hawk on a cold winter night, hiding in a cave after a flood, running from a woman who might have been a goddess, or who might have been a witch.

The salmon did not look forward to being caught, and cooked, and eaten, but knowing what the consequences would be for the one who caught him, he had to laugh, insofar as fish (even very wise ones) are able to laugh.

PodCastle Episode 54: The Dreaming Wind

Show Notes

Rated R. Contains some imagery that might disturb the unprepared. Also, some readers may wish to protect their children from prevailing surrealism.

Due to a mix-up at PodCastle, two narrations were acquired from this story from two of our favorite narrators — Paul Tevis and Rajan Khanna. Readers are invited to listen to either, or to listen to both and compare. Enjoy!


The Dreaming Wind

by Jeffrey Ford

Its name, The Dreaming Wind, was more indicative than you might at first believe. What is a dream, but a state founded enough upon the every day to be believable to the sleeping mind and yet also a place wherein anything at all might and often does happen. Tomes of wonders, testaments of melancholic horrors, wrought by the gale had been recorded, but I’ll merely recount some of the things I, myself, had been privy to in the years I’d witnessed the phenomenon.

The human body seemed its favorite play thing, and in reaction to its weird catalyst I’d seen flesh turn every color in the rainbow, melt and reform into different shapes so that a head swelled to the size of a pumpkin or legs stretched to lift their owner above the house tops. Tongues split or turned to knives and eyes shot flame, swirled like pin wheels, popped, or became mirrors to reflect the thing that I’d become – once a salamander man with Ibis head, once a bronze statue of the moon . In my wedding year, my wife Lyda’s long hair took on a mind and life of its own, tresses grabbing cups from a cupboard and smashing them upon the floor. Mayor Meersch ran down Gossin Street the year I was ten with his rear end upon his shoulders and muffled shouts issuing from the back of his trousers.