PodCastle 498: Chasing Flowers


Chasing Flowers

by L. Chan

Lian’s world is flat. Not just the landscape, which extends as far as the eye can see, horizon to horizon under the rolling twilight flux. Not just the houses, dotting the slate grey earth and the thunder cloud sky. Not just her folded servants, who used to pad around silently with their painted smiles and their unblinking eyes, unfurling from their hiding places to bring her the same dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a hundred years.

Lian ate regularly for fifty years before she realised that the food tasted of nothing but fire and ashes. Before she realised that she wasn’t hungry and had never been since her death. Not down here, where the sun peeks over the hills at the edge of the land and she still doesn’t know if it’s rising or setting because it’s been stuck there for the hundred years since she died.

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PodCastle 497: Six Jobs


Six Jobs

By Tim Pratt

 

1.   Exterminator’s Helper

I was eleven when a little man with watery eyes who blinked and sniffed all the time shuffled into my classroom, moving carefully, not brushing up against any desks or people. My teacher stood frozen with her hand pointed at a map of Africa, and the kids all around me were unnaturally still, too, stuck in whatever moment they’d been caught in when time stopped: note-passing, nose-picking, empty-space-gazing.

I held my breath at first, hoping this strange person in the gray suit looking at a scrap of paper in his hand wouldn’t realize I was still conscious, still capable of movement. I didn’t know what he was, or what was happening, but I’d read a lot of books and seen a lot of shows about fairies and monsters and magic, and being in the middle of a story like that was so scary I was afraid I’d wet myself.

He squinted around, peered in my direction, and bustled over. “You’re . . .” A glance at the paper. “Makayla?”

“Kayla,” I whispered.

A brisk nod. “Never saw the point of nicknames, but whatever makes you happy. I’m Sigmund. I need your help. Actually, all your friends and . . . so on . . . here at school need your help.” He rubbed at his nose and sniffled more. I wondered if he had a cold. “It’s not quite a save-the-world thing, but you can save this little part of your world. Won’t that be, um, fun?”

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PodCastle 496: When You Find Such a Thing


When You Find Such a Thing

By Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Yes, I know meeting my girlfriend’s parents wasn’t on my to-do list for the next few forevers, but it happens that Gbemi is the slyest babe I’ve dated, so I should’ve known, ba? One minute we’re off on a supposed spontaneous getaway weekend she planned for us; next thing, I’m sitting under the dining chandelier at her parents’ Lekki duplex, struggling to explain to her father what I do for a living.

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