PodCastle 325: Down

by Christopher Fowler
Read by
Paul S. Jenkins
Originally published in The End of the Line: An Anthology of Underground Horror, Edited by Jonathan Oliver

Honor Oak reservoir is underneath a golf course in Peckham, Thornhill reminds himself as he walks. That’s the biggest subterranean vault he’s ever visited, an inverted cathedral that’s the largest reservoir in Europe, with four great chambers that hold 256 million litres of water, a great heart made of orange brick that ceaselessly pumps life into the metropolis. He would have liked to work on the new Brixton extension at Honor Oak but there wasn’t a position, so he’s back here in the tube tunnels beneath King’s Cross, moving through the dead dusty air, looking for circuit faults. He comes down every night at midnight and goes up at 4:00am; that doesn’t sound hard but there are meetings before and sometimes after, and while you’re down you’re on the move the whole time.

Looking back, he can see the unmistakable silhouette of Sandwich hopping nimbly across the rails. Sandwich’s real name is Lando – he was named after a character in a Star Wars film, and hates it – his mates call him Sandwich because no-one has ever seen him eat, even though he’s the size of a bear.

Thornhill has been down for three years now, and likes the job. The perks are good, his fellow workers are a nice bunch and he gets regular health check-ups chucked in for free. They’re all outsiders, of course, men and women who work down here because they’ve joined a veritable foreign legion of employees who go below to forget.

But he doesn’t forget. He goes down in order to remember.

Rated R: Contains Violence, Disturbing Imagery, and Gore.

Discuss on the forums.

SPECIAL EDITION: PG Holyfield

Announcement: http://specficmedia.com/2014/08/17/pg-holyfield-announcement/

Music in this episode:
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Lee_Rosevere/All_These_Simple_Things/09_-_The_Idea_of_Space

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 324: Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy

by Saladin Ahmed
Read by Steve Anderson
Originally published in Rags & Bones, edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt.

I do not know how he brought us to this land of blood and iron masks. I know only that I am a real
man trapped in a mad landscape of living lessons.

My brothers and I were spirited here from my home in…Damascus? Yes, praise be to God that I can remember that. The sound of the street-preachers, and the smells of the spice vendors’ stalls.
Damascus.

We were sipping tea in a room with green carpets, and I was laughing at a jest that…that someone was making. Who? The face, the voice, the name have been stolen from me. All I know is that my brothers and I suddenly found ourselves in this twisted place, each aware of the others’ fates, but unable to find one another. Unable to find any escape.

Now my eldest brother has been slain. And my next eldest brother has disappeared.

Who am I? I do not know how he changed our names. But in this world of lions and giants and the blinding shine of armor, I am called Joyless, as if it were a name.

It was not my name. It is not my name. But this is his place, and it follows his commands.

Rated R. Contains violence, including gore.

Editors’ Note: Saladin Ahmed’s house has flooded, and they’ve accrued thousands of dollars in damage. Click here to find out how you can help him and his family out.

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 323: The Ascent of Unreason

By Marie Brennan
Read by Wilson Fowlie (of the Maple Leaf Singers)
Originally published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Read it here!

“I want to make a map of Driftwood.”

Watching Last cough up his wine at the words wasn’t the only reason for Tolyat’s declaration, but he had to admit it was part of the appeal.  The man was a guide, and had seen so much, experienced so much, gone so many places, that it was hard to crack his shell of burnt-out weariness.  One pretty much had to say something so outrageous it should never be uttered by a sane man.

Tolyat leaned back, and nearly fell out of his hammock.  They were in Kyey, where the local people had given over most of what remained of their world to the cultivation of some plant with an unpronounceable name, whose chief virtue was the production of tough fiber.  The Kyeyi ate a little of it, sold a lot, and used the rest to make practically everything around them.  Even the walls were mostly fiber, woven between the occasional piece of imported timber.

Despite coughing, Last balanced on his hammock like he’d been born Kyeyi.  He wiped his chin and set his wine horn on the table — more fiber, mixed with mud and baked hard.  Even the wine was a byproduct of that damned plant, from the liquid drained off during fiber extraction.  Tolyat thought it tasted like fermented rope, but Last, for some inexplicable reason, liked it.

Last said, “Only idiots bother trying to make maps of Driftwood.”

Rated PG. Contains Dying Worlds, Flying Monsters, and Other Fun Stuff

 

Discuss on the forums.

 

PodCastle is powered by WordPress with theme Greenery

Site design by JustinBrooke Design