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PodCastle 371: The Fairy Ring

by Joe Pitkin

read by Steve Anderson

A PodCastle original!

I noticed another person in the room, the only other person, peering at me through a monocle. That was when lots of people in the city were wearing monocles—this wasn’t the first monocle I had seen today. The barista with the neck tattoos and the barbershop quartet moustache had a monocle when he served my tea. But this new person looked a little old for a hipster: short, slender, angular, wearing a three-piece cream colored suit, a fedora just taken off to reveal close-cropped thick black hair, barely graymy first impression (which is everybody’s) was that the antiquarian was a person of great power. In fact, for a moment I thought Leonard Cohen was standing in front of me.

The antiquarian gestured at the chair opposite me to inquire whether it was free. With a sinking feeling I offered it: I foresaw small talk with a lonely old person. Not that I was especially interested in reading, but I was sitting there with a book—shouldn’t that have signaled something?

The antiquarian, I learned, was not much for small talk. “You are looking for a job, I see.” The voice was high and cracked, but still quite beautiful. “I am in need of a factotum.”

Rated PG.

Joe Pitkin has lived, taught, and studied in England, Hungary, Mexico, and most recently at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. He has done biological field work on the slopes of Mount St. Helens, and he lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and daughters. You can follow his work at his blog, The Subway Test: thesubwaytest.wordpress.com.

Steve Anderson has narrated stories for all three Escape Artists podcasts (including a Parsec Award-winning story for PseudoPod).  He narrates audiobooks and produces online videos out of a home studio at SGAcreative.com, and he writes and performs live history programs on tour at GreatTalesLive.com. Steve says, “If that sounds like an odd patchwork of things to piece together to do for a living… well, it is.  But thanks to this story, I finally have a succinct and impressive way of describing it: I’m a freelance factotum.”

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PodCastle 370: Congratulations On Your Apotheosis

by Michelle Ann King
read by Christiana Ellis

First published in the anthology Unidentified Funny Objects 2, from UFO Publishing

As a life coach, Abby Fowler strongly discouraged magical thinking. It was better for people to take responsibility for improving their lives, rather than wait and hope for supernatural assistance. Better, and a lot more reliable.

So Abby would never advise anyone to use a spell, even one that came with impeccable provenance and the crackle of real power in every square inch of the ancient parchment it was inscribed on. Even one that was purely for divination, nothing more than a harmless bit of information-gathering that might, say, help someone with preparing a five-year business plan for their coaching practice in order to apply for a bank loan. She would never advise it because she knew that kind of thing never ended well.

Rated PG.

Michelle Ann King writes science fiction, fantasy and horror from her kitchen table in Essex, England. She loves Las Vegas, zombie films and good Scotch whisky, not necessarily in that order. Her short stories are being collected in the Transient Tales ebook series, and she is currently at work on a paranormal crime novel. Find more details at www.transientcactus.co.uk.

Christiana Ellis is a Writer and podcaster living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is the author of Nina Kimberly the Merciless as well as Space Casey. She also produces several non-fiction podcasts and videos, all of which can be found at www.christianaellis.com. You can also find her on Twitter @christianaellis.

She’s just begun Space Casey Season 2, so it’s a great time to go visit Christiana’s site and subscribe! This season, Casey, the fast-talking con-artist, continues her thrilling tale of adventure, fraud, and time travel!

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PodCastle 369: The Chimney-Borer and the Tanner

by Thoraiya Dyer

read by Pamila Payne

A PodCastle Original!

Hoping I’d steal their souls instead of hers, my birth mother hid me in a chimney-borer’s home.

I never did harm any of that happy family. They are peacefully dead of old age, by now. That’s something, at least, to be proud of. Even if I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to skin a god.

It took a decade – far too long – for me to learn that Orfro wasn’t really my father. If golden jaguars could sometimes throw black cubs in a litter, I reasoned, why couldn’t yellow-haired people make black-haired babies? I hoped I’d get to look more like Orfroas I grew older. I was mesmerised by the white-blond curls, not just on his head, but across his shoulders and down his back. When he bent over to bore chimneys, the curls could be seen continuing on, disappearing between his buttocks into the loose, woven trousers he wore.

Rated R.

Thoraiya Dyer is an Aurealis and Ditmar Award-winning, Sydney-based science fiction and fantasy writer. Her short story collection, ‘Asymmetry’, and time-travel pirate novella ‘The Company Articles of Edward Teach’ are available from Twelfth Planet Press, while the first book in her ‘Titan’s Forest’ fantasy trilogy is forthcoming from Tor. Thoraiya is an archer and a lapsed veterinarian. Follow @ThoraiyaDyer or peruse thoraiyadyer.com.

Pamila Payne is a Los Angeles writer and voice actor. Her noir horror, vintage crime and drama can be found at vintagevice.com. Her most recent work was included in Exiles: An Outsider Anthology. She is available to hire for Audiobook narrating and all things spoken word.

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PodCastle 368: Dinkley’s Ice Cream

by Effie Seiberg

read by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

Originally appeared in “Fierce Family”, a Crossed Genres anthology showing positive representations of QUILTBAG families, in January of 2014.

Shanti squirmed with anticipation, trying to wriggle away from my hairbrush but caught by the knots in her curls. “A fair!” she said. “With monkeys and elephants and a magic man!”

“Yes, a fair!” I agreed, not wanting to confirm the rest – not wanting to set up any disappointment as I set down the brush on her bedside table. She beamed up at me with her sunshine smile and I looped a thin elastic around a pigtail. Four years old, and I’d never been able to take her before. Too expensive.

Fairs don’t come to the city. It’s too crowded, and where would they set up the tents? To even get to the fair it was a five dollar bus ride (two dollars for kids), plus a dollar eighty five for the shuttle if you didn’t walk. We walked.

Rated G.

Effie Seiberg is a science fiction and fantasy author living in San Francisco. A graduate of Taos Toolbox, her short fiction can be found or is upcoming in Lightspeed Magazine’s “Women Destroy Science Fiction”, Crossed Genres Magazine, and Stupefying Stories, among others. She lives near the former and upcoming (but not present) sculpture of a 4-ft-tall pink bunny head holding a skull in its mouth. You can follow Effie on her website, effieseiberg.com, or on Twitter, at @effies.

Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali lives in Houston, Texas with her husband of twenty-five years and three children. By day she works as a breast oncology nurse. At all other times she juggles, none too successfully, writing, reading, gaming and gardening. She has self-published one novel entitled An Unproductive Woman, has published a story at Escape Pod and has a story upcoming in the An Alphabet of Embers anthology. Khaalidah also reads slush at Escape Pod where she is on a mission to encourage more women to submit science fiction stories.

Of her alter ego, K from the planet Vega, it is rumored that she owns a time machine and knows the secret to long youth.
You can catch her posts at her website, www.khaalidah.com, and you can follow her on twitter, @khaalidah.

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