PodCastle 572: Into the Wind

Show Notes

Rated PG.

Into the Wind

by Marie Brennan

The tenements presented a blank face to the border: an unbroken expanse of wall, windowless, gapless, resolutely blind to the place that used to be Oneua. Only at the edges of the tenements could one pass through, entering the quiet and sunlit strip of weeds that separated the buildings from the world their inhabitants had once called home.

Eyo stood in the weeds, an arm’s length from the border. The howling sands formed a wall in front of her, close enough to touch. They clouded the light of Oneua’s suns, until she could barely make out the nearest structure, the smooth lines of its walls eroded and broken by the incessant rasp of the sands. And yet where she stood, with her feet on the soil of Gevsilon, the air was quiet and still and damp. The line between the two was as sharp as if it had been sliced with a razor.

“I wouldn’t recommend it, kid.” (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 571: The Guitar Hero

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.

The first time Bella, Alice, and I exorcised a demon it was an accident: a pentagram doodled backstage, some quotes from The Exorcist, and suddenly that vocalist from the band we were opening for wasn’t quite himself anymore.

Who knew hellfire was so damn hot, anyway?

There have been other moments that altered the shape of my life: that afternoon in 1978 when I heard Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” and hit puberty in the same instant; or that Friday night at age fourteen when I switched on my first electric guitar in the garage, next to Bella’s drum kit, and heard Alice’s bass rev up beside me. But nothing beats an accidental exorcism for short-term shock value and long-term impact. The scarred fingers on my left hand (barely able to pick out even the simplest chords) and the death of Bella (who stood closer to that demon than any of us) forever twisted my life in a new direction.

I don’t play guitar anymore, but according to my spreadsheet, Alice and I have dealt with close to four hundred entities (demonic, fae, malevolent spirits, and others) on the indie music scene since Bella died, turning our pain and grief into a part-time job and eventually a career. With all that experience under my Motörhead-buckled bullet belt, I don’t usually get nervous, but tonight is different. I’m sweating, even though I’ve stripped off my leather jacket, and my hands are shaking on the laptop — every muscle in my body in flux between fight and flight. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 570: Elegy for a Slaughtered Swine

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.

The PodCastle forums flash fiction contest is on! Visit our Submittable for more details. Submissions are open until April 30.

Elegy for a Slaughtered Swine

Rafaela Ferraz

Men do not often cook, out behind these hills. It’s women’s domain, the kitchen, but they’ve shown me the ways of all that is theirs to rule. I could cook up a soup or a curse without leaving this room. The former is simple. Cabbage and potato and smoked sausage and olive oil. The latter is simpler still.

Your mother is expecting. Her womb is the first ingredient. Already you have six older brothers to race you for her love, or six older sisters. When she names you, she is careless with her choice. Later, the priest cannot untangle his prayers, his tongue slips on the edge of the baptismal font. We’re cooking, remember: stir it all with a wooden spoon and the devil will know you are unwanted. Your mother, she doesn’t care for you, for this mistake she’s made in the marriage bed, or out behind the church with her skirts hiked up, or up on the moor wearing as little shame as sin itself. Neither does your father. They have six other, older mouths to feed. They’ll let you feed yourself, may the devil bless them. You will hunt. You will run with the wolves. You will grow hackles and claws and eyes the color of burnt sugar, and you will be gone from their concerns. You will cross seven cemeteries and seven streams and seven hills and seven sins from your ledger every night before Sunday dawns. (Continue Reading…)

Flash Fiction Contest V Opens Today!

The Escape Artists Flash Fiction Contest opens today! The contest will be taking submissions from today, April 15, 2019, and ending on April 30, 2019, at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Remember, each author may submit one original fantasy story of 500 words or less. Stories will then be sorted into categories, anonymized, and posted by an administrator on our forums for all to read and vote on in a tournament-style contest!

The three winning stories will be purchased for USD $30 each and run together as a single episode of PodCastle. Note that stories will be published on a members-only section of the forums, so first publication rights will not be expended by participating in the contest. To become a member first, go to the forums and start there. All the pertinent details and rules are posted under “The Arcade” section of the forums; voting will commence May 15, 2019!

Here’s the Submittable link for your submissions!

Good luck!