PC015: The Yeti Behind You


By Jeremiah Tolbert
Read by Elie Hirschman
First appeared in Fantasy (Prime Books)

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Michael takes frequent coffee breaks, even though the caffeine makes him jittery and he finds the taste too bitter. He doesn’t recognize many of the animals, but Google knows all, and identifying the animals is time consuming but not terribly difficult. At lunch, the employee parking lot is full of sauropods and Pleistocene mammals that are too large to squeeze inside the building. A Triceratops, his favorite dinosaur when he was a boy, mingles with a giant sloth and something resembling a nine foot tall carnivorous duck with a bill shaped like an axe. Moas, looking like shaggy-dog ostriches, roam the halls of the office. Marsupial lions and miniature horses guard the entrances to cubicles.

The observers are all members of an extinct species. At first, Michael thought that his own yeti might be an exception–being that a yeti is a mythological creature, not an extinct one—but then he discovered __Gigantopithecus blacki__ on a primatologist’s website. The males weighed twelve hundred pounds and stood ten feet tall, but the females were smaller. Michael believes that his silent observer is a female. He considers the name of __Gigantopithecus__, but ultimately discards it. Yeti is easier to remember.

He finds an interesting quote that he prints out, nervously pacing around the laser printer as it warms up and finally prints. Hibbets would pitch a fit if he found anyone using the printers for personal reasons.

Michael snatches up the printout and reads it once aloud. “An old Sherpa once observed: ‘There is a yeti in the back of everyone’s mind; only the blessed are not haunted by it.'” He stares at the paper for a few moments after speaking the words aloud, then crumples the sheet into a ball and stuffs it into his pocket before returning to his desk.

Rated PG. Contains strong feelings of ambiguity.

Featured Intro Links:
Dr. Roundbottom, at clockpunk.com.

Elie Hirschman’s podcasting links:
http://www.dregold.net
http://www.darkerprojects.com

Please visit the thread on this story in our forums. 

PC014: The Grand Cheat


By Hilary Moon Murphy
Read by Rajan Khanna
First appeared in Tales of the Unanticipated.

My finest cheat started long ago, before India was even a country. Most of us were still under British rule, one way or another. I was apprenticed to Sri Ghare, one of the greatest negotiators in the princely states. I lived with him and his wife in a fine manor. Though I was from a poor family, he always treated me like I was his own son.

When Sri Ghare’s wife was great with child, he was called to negotiate for the local rajah. Sri Ghare made me promise to take care of her while he was gone. When my master’s wife went into labor, the female servants shooed me out of the house, knowing that I would only be in the way. But I had promised my master, and I was very worried. What if something should go wrong with the birth?

So I cheated. I sneaked back into the house when the servants were too busy to check for me. At first, I only listened through the sheer, blue draperies that curtained off the women’s quarters, but all I could hear were screams, sobs, and muffled assurances. I crawled under the draperies, coming as close as I dared. The sounds were so awful, I was certain that she must be dying.

I meditated in the doorway to her rooms and prayed deeply for safety of mother and child. I prayed harder than I ever had before. I prayed so hard that I became aware of the god who was trying to slip past me into the rooms don’t ask me how I knew it was a god, I just knew – and I cried, “Hold!

“No one says ‘Hold’ to me, mortal,” the god rumbled.

Rated PG. Contains schemes, cheats, and tricksters.

Featured Intro Link: Clarion West Write-a-thon

Individual Author Pages:
Michael Swanwick
Ada Milenkovich Brown
K. Tempest Bradford
Vylar Kaftan
Cat Rambo
C. G. Furst
Gord Sellar
Kristine Dikeman
Nisi Shawl
Tina Connolly
Stephanie Burgis
Rachel Swirsky

Please visit the discussion on this story in our forums.

PC013: Spell of the Sparrow


By Jim C. Hines.
Read by Tina Connolly.
Introduction by Erin Cashier.
First appeared in Sword and Sorceress, XXI.

I was in the woods behind our cabin, trying yet again to dissuade my daughter from this wizarding business.

“I _like_ magic,” Mel protested. “And I’m good at it. Remember the spell I made up last week?”

“The spell that changed my daggers into caterpillars?” James and I were still pulling cocoons out of the laundry.

“No, the other one.”

I crossed my arms and did my best to look parental. “The one that sent my undergarments on a mad dash for freedom?”

She covered her mouth, trying to hide a gap-toothed grin. “I got it right the next time. Don’t your clothes smell nicer?”

“They do… those that aren’t hightailing it for the border.”

It was no use. After two years, I knew I couldn’t win, but I kept trying. James and I thought that if we could teach her another skill, something respectable…..

Rated PG. Contains ghost cats, precocious girls, and amorous spouse-stealers.

Please visit the discussion on this story in our forums.

PodCastle Miniature 005: Directions


By Caleb Wilson
Read by Chris Furst
First appeared in Diagram (full text at link).

Some things you will need are a full tank of gas, a flashlight, an axe, a bicycle.

Heading north on Route 110, turn left onto Entwhistle. The street will be paved in dark, fresh asphalt and tree-lined. The web of shadows, light dark light, will fall through the teeth of the leaves onto the windshield. Drive through four lights and beneath an iron railroad bridge.

Rated G. Contains a journey into rampant surrealism.

Why PodCastle miniatures? According to wikipedia, the word miniature is derived from the Latin minium, red lead, and is a picture in an ancient or medieval illuminated manuscript. We thought it was a good way to describe very short stories with a fantasy theme: a word that indicates brievity, manuscripts, and a medieval atmosphere.

Please visit the thread on this story in our forums.