PodCastle 407: The Cellar Dweller

by Maria Dahvana Headley

read by Tina Connolly

First appeared in Nightmare Magazine.

Buildings were built, in the beginning, everyone knows, to hold the dead down. Every cellar floor was built over the ceiling of something else. Now cellars are used for all sorts of purposes. Roots. Paint cans. Pantries. Workshops. Other.

There’s a rhyme someone invented for children. It’s chanted in nurseries in the Banisher’s town. The nurseries are upholstered in chintz, and the walls are padded, as though they’re asylums and the babies inmates.

There is an awful thing that lives beneath the cellar floor, little darlings. There is an awful thing that comes up from beneath the cellar floor, up and through the cellar door.

The rhyme’s sometimes sung as a lullaby to pretty little ones, who curl in pretty little chairs, and play with pretty little rolling horses and pretty little rocking dogs. When they nod off to sleep, all’s well and right, but beneath their houses, things are fell and wrong. Things press their noses up through the dirt.

If you wake at night and hear a roar, perhaps you’ve heard the awful thing that roars behind the cellar door.

Rated PG

Maria Dahvana Headley is the New York Times-bestselling author and editor of Magonia, Queen of KingsThe Year of Yes, and with Kat Howard, The End of the Sentence. With Neil Gaiman, she is the editor of the anthology Unnatural Creatures. Aerie, the sequel to Magonia, is upcoming in September from HarperCollins, and in 2017 her Beowulf adaptation, The Mere Wife will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Her Nebula and Shirley Jackson Award-nominated short fiction has been anthologized in many year’s bests. Her work has been supported by The MacDowell Colony, and Arte Studio Ginestrelle, among others.

Tina Connolly is the author of the Ironskin trilogy from Tor Books, and the Seriously Wicked series, from Tor Teen. Ironskin, her first fantasy novel, was a Nebula finalist. Her stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Tor.com, Analog, and more, and her first collection is forthcoming from Fairwood Press in August. Her narrations have appeared all over, including Podcastle, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and her Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake. She lives with her family in Portland, Oregon, and her website is tinaconnolly.com.

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 406: The Little Dog Ohori

by Anatoly Belilovsky

read by Tatiana Gomberg

Originally published in the Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk.

Cold.

Lying on the riverbank in a puddle of blood and melting snow, she listens for the sounds of gunfire, the roar of engines, the clatter of tank tracks, anything to say she is not alone. She no longer feels her hands, though she can see her right hand on the trigger of her Tokarev-40, the index finger frozen into a hook. She no longer feels pain where the shell splinter tore into her belly, only cold. Cold comfort, too, in the bodies scattered on the ice beyond the riverbank, eleven black specks against relentless white, eleven fewer Waffen SS, eleven plus two hundred and three already in the killbook makes two hundred and three fewer who could threaten —

Her mind’s eye projects a glimpse of Selim’s face against the night, then all is dark again.

She listens, and hears a friendly sound.

The little dog Ohori is barking.

Rated PG

Anatoly Belilovsky is a Russian-American author and translator of speculative fiction. He was born in a city that went through six or seven owners in the last century, all of whom used it to do a lot more than drive to church on Sundays; he is old enough to remember tanks rolling through it on their way to Czechoslovakia in 1968. After being traded to the US for a shipload of grain and a defector to be named later (see Wikipedia, Jackson-Vanik amendment), he learned English from Star Trek reruns and went on to become a paediatrician in an area of New York where English is only the fourth most commonly used language. His original work appeared or will appear in the Unidentified Funny Objects anthology, Ideomancer, Nature Futures, Stupefying Stories, Immersion Book of Steampunk, Daily SF, Mammoth Book of Dieselpunk, and Genius Loci anthology, and has been podcast by Cast of Wonders, Tales of Old, and Toasted Cake; his translations from Russian have sold to F&SF, Year’s Best SF #32 (edited by Gardner Dozois,) Grimdark, and Kasma. He blogs about writing at loldoc.net.

Tatiana Gomberg is a New York City based actress of stage, screen, and of course, the audio booth. Learn more about her at tatianagomberg.com.

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 405, ARTEMIS RISING: Beat Softly, My Wings of Steel

by Beth Cato

read by Elizabeth Green

Hosted by M.K. Hobson

A PodCastle Original!

My horse was beautiful, yet still undeniably the raw work of a mere squire. Visible seams crisscrossed its body like  stitches in a quilt. The mismatched metal patches were proof I had pieced it together from a hundred different carcasses. Likewise, the completed wings against the nearby wall contained hundreds of feathers in a warm metallic array that stood in bold contrast to the steel bones. The full equine form had some sinuous grace–a cupped chin, tapered ears–but overall, like any Cavalry mount, it was built for strength and endurance.

I picked up the metal heart, stroking it. I would soon know this soul with intimacy unlike any I had known. I crouched to place the heart in the chest cavity, and sang to Atanta all the while. I made the final connections within the body and stood, my hand on the halter. The enchantments I had pounded into metal and pressed into rubber thrummed to life like a swarm of bees. Onward I sang.

Rated PG-13.

Beth Cato is from Hanford, California, and resides near Phoenix, Arizona. She’s the author of The Clockwork Dagger and The Clockwork Crown steampunk fantasy novels from Harper Voyager. Her brand new alt-history steampunk series starts with Breath of Earth this August. Her novella, “Wings of Sorrow and Bone,” is a Nebula Award finalist. For book news and bountiful cookie recipes, please visit BethCato.com.

Elizabeth Green as been reading stories for Podcastle through each of her different life changes: including teaching history of science at a liberal arts college, designing knitting patterns, doing freelance graphic design, and now working as the graphic designer for Girl Scouts of Central Texas. On weekends you can find her and her son playing samurai in the Legend of the Five Rings RPG. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Discuss on the forums.

PodCastle 404, ARTEMIS RISING: Territory

by Julie Steinbacher

read by Maura McHugh and Kim Rogers

Hosted by Amal El-Mohtar

A PodCastle Original!

Where are you and I in those moments before the flawed magic works? Hovering somewhere, inside ourselves or above our bodies? Placidly dreaming, like we did so many times last summer as we listened to cassettes of The Clash and Eurythmics in the woods by your house? Or screaming silently, saying, “We didn’t know it would be like this when we gathered the raven’s feather and the fox’s clote. We were afraid to cut the words in our palms, didn’t know that pricking our fingers wasn’t enough blood to preserve our bodies.

“This is not what we wanted, not what we meant to do. Take us back to our letters and our mums and dads. Take us back, even if they beat us and tear us apart and send us away.

“Take us back, even though life will not cure us of this love for one another.”

But the flawed magic is working, and as the rain slows, the questing worms place their soft mouths against us. The beetles tick across our hands and legs, beneath our clothes. We feel little parts of ourselves lost in them, and remember the spell words we uttered.

Rated R for some disturbing imagery.

Julie Steinbacher lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she (or they) is an MFA candidate at North Carolina State University. She is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop, and her fiction appears in Terraform and Escape Pod. Learn more about her on her website julie-steinbacher.com.

Maura McHugh is a prose and comic book writer living in Ireland. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the USA and Europe, and she’s had two collections published in the USA:Twisted Fairy Tales and Twisted Myths. Her web site is http://splinister.com and her Twitter handle is @splinister

Kim Rogers is an EMC actress living in Brooklyn, NY. She has recently appeared in such productions as Cthethal Weapon and the musical Slaw Slingers. She has also done voice work for The Kaleidocast and currently works for Music Theatre International.

Discuss on the forums.

 

PodCastle is powered by WordPress with theme Greenery

Site design by JustinBrooke Design