PodCastle 576: When Leopard’s-Bane Came to the Door of Third Heaven

Show Notes

Rated: PG-13, for cursing at heaven’s door.

When Leopard’s-Bane Came to the Door of Third Heaven

By Vajra Chandrasekera

We stand at attention all day at the top of the green tower. L and I stand on either side of the door to the third nonsensual heaven. The rifle is heavy and I develop a lean as the day wears on, until L hisses at me from the far side of the door and I straighten up, my back creaking and popping. I’m a sloppy guard because I’m new, ink still fresh on the lottery ticket. When you’re always new at everything, you never get a chance to get good.

L hasn’t been a guard much longer than me, but she always says she doesn’t want to get good. She says you can’t pry the world open if you don’t have a kink in you. She says how come the lottery is supposed to be so fair but princes always win a king’s ticket when it’s time? She says a lot of things like that and if I say we haven’t been a monarchy in two hundred years or whatever, she’ll say I’m being obtuse. Then we arm-wrestle for it. She usually wins those, but only just. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 575: A Toy Princess

Show Notes

Rated G.

A Toy Princess

By Mary de Morgan (1850–1907)

More than a thousand years ago, in a country quite on the other side of the world, it fell out that the people all grew so very polite that they hardly ever spoke to each other. And they never said more than was quite necessary, as “Just so,” “Yes indeed,” “Thank you,” and “If you please.” And it was thought to be the rudest thing in the world for any one to say they liked or disliked, or loved or hated, or were happy or miserable. No one ever laughed aloud, and if any one had been seen to cry they would at once have been avoided by their friends.

The King of this country married a Princess from a neighbouring land, who was very good and beautiful, but the people in her own home were as unlike her husband’s people as it was possible to be. They laughed, and talked, and were noisy and merry when they were happy, and cried and lamented if they were sad. In fact, whatever they felt they showed at once, and the Princess was just like them. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 574: Mister Dog

Show Notes

Rated R, for sex, drugs, and haunted souls.

Mister Dog

By Alex Jennings

Trenice felt the car more than she saw it. Or she saw it without seeing it. She couldn’t be sure. Had the car’s driver meant her harm? Probably not. Here in New Orleans, sloppy driving was usually accidental.

Trenice had worked late again at Chez Lazare, and while the weather was still hot, the days faded earlier and earlier. By the time she made it to Armstrong Park, sunset had come and gone. She had seen the Jackson-Esplanade bus ready to turn onto North Rampart when the streetcar sailed across Esplanade. Streetcars were slower than buses, so if she wanted to catch the 91, she couldn’t wait until she reached Canal. Instead, she’d have to take the Armstrong Park stop and dash across North Rampart, waving her tattooed arms above her head to make sure the driver saw her. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 573: The Court Magician

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.

The Court Magician

By Sarah Pinsker

The Boy Who Will Become Court Magician

The boy who will become court magician this time is not a cruel child. Not like the last one, or the one before her. He never stole money from Blind Carel’s cup, or thrashed a smaller child for sweets, or kicked a dog. This boy is a market rat, which sets him apart from the last several, all from highborn or merchant families. This isn’t about lineage, or even talent.

He watches the street magicians every day, with a hunger in his eyes that says he knows he could do what they do. He contemplates the tawdry illusions of the market square with more intensity than most, until he is marked for us by his own curiosity. Even then, even when he wanders booth to booth and corner to corner every day for a month, begging to learn, we don’t take him. (Continue Reading…)