PC003: Run of the Fiery Horse


By Hilary Moon Murphy
Read by Rachel Swirsky.
Introduction by K. Tempest Bradford.
First appeared in Realms of Fantasy, 2002.

His tongue flickered out, sniffing the river of dreams that swirled around him. He had studied humans long enough to be a connoisseur of their flavors: those born in the year of the Wooden Ox tasted faintly of wheat and nuts, Metal Pigs had the aroma of tart berries, and Water Dragons reminded him of the salty wines of Nippon. But the taste he sought remained elusive.

Then he found it: hot, almost peppery, with an underlying sweetness. Tsi Sha closed his eyes and hissed with pleasure. A female of the Fiery Horse, the rarest of flavors. Few of the girl children born in that year had lived past their first night. Tsi Sha had found them abandoned on country hillsides and city rubbish heaps as families rid themselves of their inauspicious newborn daughters.

They had tasted delicious.

Rated PG. Contains sensuality, serpentine twists, and a darting tongue that can taste your dreams.

Links:

The Angry Black Woman – A blog on Politics, Race, Gender, Sexuality, Anger

PC002: For Fear of Dragons


By Carrie Vaughn
Read by Cunning Minx (of Polyamory Weekly).
Introduction by Summer Brooks.
First appeared in Weird Tales, 2006.

The year came when soldiers rode to Jeanette’s family’s holding. Their
captain announced that from the sea to the mountains, Jeanette was the only
woman over the age of ten known to be a virgin. Only one possible name
could be drawn in the lottery.

Jeanette’s mother sobbed, and the soldiers had to tie her father to keep
him from doing violence. They held her three brothers off with crossbows.
Her family had urged her time and again to marry someone, anyone, a young
whelp, an old widower on his deathbed. They had even begged her to find a
likely boy to love her for a night and give her a child. But Jeanette had
refused, because she knew that this day would come, that one day she would
be chosen, and she knew her destiny.
 Before the soldiers led her away, Jeanette held her mother’s face in her
hands. “It’s all right. I have a plan, I know what to do.”
Rated G. Contains enormous webbed wings, sharp fangs, and a hide of glistening scales.

 

PodCastle Miniature 001: Stone Born


By Loreen Heneghan
Read by Sam Ferree
Introduction by Rachel Swirsky
First appearance here, in PodCastle
Today marks the debut of our first PodCastle Miniature*, “Stone Born” by Loreen Heneghan.
They weren’t friends — she being a girl. Plus she had a crooked smile, a  snorting laugh, and a face like some stone-age ax. Even so, he and Brenda were the last kids on the bus route out past those cliffs. Mark let her sit with him when all the other boys were gone. He’d heard her parents were fighting over her, too. Fighting mean. 

They never talked about that. As they rumbled along, Brenda taught him to look forward, never turning, even when the faces were like a crowd at the edge of the road. It was cool, like seeing into a strange, goblin world.

Rated G. Contains children, school buses, and elves.

An Escape Pod flash fiction contest submission.

*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.

PC001: Come Lady Death


By Peter S. Beagle.
Read by Paul S. Jenkins (of The Rev Up Review).
Introduction by Ann Leckie.
First appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, 1963.

But in time her own parties began to bore her, and though she invited the most famous people in the land and hired the greatest jugglers and acrobats and dancers and magicians to entertain them, still she found her parties duller and duller. Listening to court gossip, which she had always loved, made her yawn. The most marvelous music, the most exciting feats of magic put her to sleep. Watching a beautiful young couple dance by her made her feel sad, and she hated to feel sad.

And so, one summer afternoon she called her closest friends around her and said to them, “More and more I find that my parties entertain everyone but me. The secret of my long life is that nothing has ever been dull for me. For all my life, I have been interested in everything I saw and been anxious to see more. But I cannot stand to be bored, and I will not go to parties at which I expect to be bored, especially if they are my own. Therefore, to my next ball I shall invite the one guest I am sure no one, not even myself, could possibly find boring. My friends, the guest of honor at my next party shall be Death himself!”

Rated PG. Contains…well, Death.