PodCastle Miniature 82: Lord Darq, Regis and the Orb of Power

by John Nickerson
Read by Graeme Dunlop
A PodCastle Original!

“What’s wrong?”

“I just … wasn’t expecting that. Usually it goes ‘Join me and together we can rule the world’, then you heroes say ‘Never!’, and we fight. Nobody’s ever just said ‘Okay’ like that.”

“So what now?”

“Don’t know. I had a great battle planned for us, through the ice caves, over the lava lake, into the mud plains, it would have been spectacular. Now, I guess … do you want to see the inner lair?”

“Yeah, sounds good.”

Rated PG.

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PodCastle 355: Flock

by Caspian Gray
Read by Tanja Milojevic
Hosted by M.K. Hobson
Originally published in Kaleidotrope, Summer 2013. Read it here!

They met in a birdcage, in those last precious days before they became birds themselves.  They were too panicked to ask each other’s names.  The boy beat his palms against the wire bars as impotently as he had beat them against the giant’s fist; the woman brushed her fingers first against her sternum, then along the cage floor, even through the boy’s kinky hair, to prove that she was not mad or dreaming.

“Don’t touch me,” he said, making the order into a question.

The woman drew away.  “Are you hurt?” Her hands still moved restlessly, diffident as butterflies.  They were in a ramshackle attic full of cages whose inhabitants were sparrows as big as she was.  

“I didn’t know,” said the boy.  He slumped against the bars of the cage.  The woman watched the wire press indentations into his shirt.  “I didn’t know there were giants in Ohio.”

“Oh.” The woman squatted next to him, careful to keep their shoulders from brushing.  “I didn’t know there were either, until today.” She paused.  “What’s your name?  Where did the giant take you from?”

“Avery.” The boy’s eyes were as brown as tree bark.  “I was in the backyard, working.  Who are you?”

“Jack.”

Avery blinked.  “Jack is a boy’s name.”

Her expression did not change.  “But if we’ve been kidnapped by giants,” she murmured, “the only way we’ll ever escape is if one of us is named Jack.”

Rated R. Contains Adult Themes

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PodCastle 354: The Sea of Wives

by Nathaniel Lee
Read by Graeme Dunlop
Hosted by Kitty Niclaian
A PodCastle Original!

The seas are full of wives, and our nets strain to hold them.  The Greyling is the largest of the fleet, and our catch the greatest.  The wives are the source of our great wealth.

When the wives are pulled up in the steely silver nets, they are poured in a shimmering stream onto the deck.  Vikos and Broun work the crane, and they sit up high in the control booths, rocking and swaying with the motion of the ship.  I couldn’t do that job.  I’m a knife man; I cut the skins away and put them in the holding tanks, wives in one and skins in the other.  It’s very important that the skins be kept separate.  It’s a simple rhythm, once the catch is coming in.  The wives are disoriented, confused, sometimes dead.  It’s a long haul up from the deeps, and some of them drown or smother on the way in.  I throw the dead ones overboard, skin and all.  The skins are no good once they’re dead.

The ones that stay alive, I slit open.  One stroke along the belly.  Two strokes at the forelimbs, two strokes at the rear.  There’s a trick to shucking the skin then, and more than once I’ve seen a new knife-man get it wrong in the unfamiliar wet and the noise of a ship at sea.  There’s squalling and crying, then, and the whole mess has to go to feed the sharks.  I try to slit their throats first, to be merciful.  You can tell right away who’s not fit to be a knife-man by the way they handle a ruined skin.

Rated R. Contains graphic violence.

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PodCastle 353: Irregular Verbs

by Matthew Johnson
Read by Chistopher Reynaga
Featuring Special Guest Host Peter Wood!
Originally published in Fantasy Magazine.

apilar: to let a fire burn out

gelas: to treat something with care

pikanau: to cut oneself with a fishhook

It is a well-known fact that there are no people more gifted at language than those of the Salutean Isles. Saluteans live in small villages on a thousand densely populated islands; isolated but never alone, their languages change constantly, and new ones are born all the time. A Salutean’s family has a language unintelligible to their neighbours, his old friends a jargon impenetrable to anyone outside their circle. Two Saluteans sharing shelter from the rain will, by the time it lets up, have developed a new dialect with its own vocabulary and grammar, with tenses such as “when the ground is dry enough to walk on” and before I was entirely wet.”

It was in just such circumstances that Sendiri Ang had met his wife, Kesepi, and in such circumstances that he lost her. An afternoon spent in a palm-tree shadow is enough time for two people to fall in love, a few moments enough to die when at sea. Eighteen monsoons had passed in between, enough time for the two of them to develop a language of such depth and complexity that no third person could ever learn it, so utterly their own that it was itself an island, without ties to any of its neighbours.

Rated PG.

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