PodCastle 518: Iron Aria

Show Notes

Rated PG for vengeful mountains and the accursed dead.


Iron Aria

Merc Rustad

The mountain dreams pain. Cold iron vibrates purple-blue deep in the stone, while tongues made from rot and rust bite and gnaw and hunger ever deeper.

The dam, buried like a tooth in the mountain’s narrow gums, holds back the great burgundy ocean. Otherwise it would pour into the Agate Pass Valley and swallow up the mining town at the mountain’s toes.

From an owl’s eye, the dam is almost as big as the mountain, built five hundred human-years ago. The infesting tongues burrow in from the sea, sent by angry water-memories. The sea cannot see its children in the lakes far beyond the dam. So it sends corrosion into the mountain, into the infinitesimal pores of the dam.

The mountain is being devoured from the inside and it screams. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 517: A Fine Balance

Show Notes

Rated PG-13 for honorable duelists and some less honorable warfare.


A Fine Balance

By Charlotte Ashley

My mistress, Shoanna Yildirim, was the greatest shot in the city.

Each morning, according to her wishes, I cleaned and loaded her revolving pistol. I oiled the clip on her holster and checked the stitches in the leatherwork. I strung a fresh sash of weighted bullets and laid it by the vanity over her scarves.

“Your pistol, Mistress,” I would say to her as she rose from the mirror, her wide, brown lips and dark, sly eyes painted to perfection.

“Thank you, Emin,” she always replied. “But I will not need it today.”

Each morning, she left the gun where it lay. Mistress Yildirim was the greatest shot in the city, but she hunted Kara Ramadami with a blade. That was just one of the many rules of sahidi. (Continue Reading…)

PodCastle 516e: 10th Anniversary Special, The Best of PodCastle #1 – The Paper Menagerie

Show Notes

Rated PG.

Editors’ note: This episode originally aired as PodCastle 165. We are reissuing it to celebrate PodCastle’s 10th anniversary. This story was in first position in a listener vote that was held to determine PodCastle’s most-loved episodes over the past decade.

 


The Paper Menagerie

by Ken Liu

A little paper tiger stood on the table, the size of two fists placed together. The skin of the tiger was the pattern on the wrapping paper, white background with red candy canes and green Christmas trees.

I reached out to Mom’s creation. Its tail twitched, and it pounced playfully at my finger. “Rawrr-sa,” it growled, the sound somewhere between a cat and rustling newspapers.

I laughed, startled, and stroked its back with an index finger. The paper tiger vibrated under my finger, purring.

Zhe jiao zhezhi,” Mom said. This is called origami.

I didn’t know this at the time, but Mom’s kind was special. She breathed into them so that they shared her breath, and thus moved with her life. This was her magic.

PodCastle 516d: 10th Anniversary Special, The Best of PodCastle #2 – Makeisha In Time

Show Notes

Rated R: Contains violence.

Editors’ note: This episode originally aired as PodCastle 345. We are reissuing it to celebrate PodCastle’s 10th anniversary. This story was in second position in a listener vote that was held to determine PodCastle’s most-loved episodes over the past decade.


Makeisha In Time

by Rachael K. Jones

Makeisha has always been able to bend the fourth dimension, though no one believes her. She has been a soldier, a sheriff, a pilot, a prophet, a poet, a ninja, a nun, a conductor (of trains and symphonies), a cordwainer, a comedian, a carpetbagger, a troubadour, a queen, and a receptionist. She has shot arrows, guns, and cannons. She speaks an extinct Ethiopian dialect with a perfect accent. She knows a recipe for mead that is measured in aurochs horns, and with a katana, she is deadly.

Her jumps happen intermittently. She will be yanked from the present without warning, and live a whole lifetime in the past. When she dies, she returns right back to where she left, restored to a younger age. It usually happens when she is deep in conversation with her boss, or arguing with her mother-in-law, or during a book club meeting just when it is her turn to speak. One moment, Makeisha is firmly grounded in the timeline of her birth, and the next, she is elsewhere. Elsewhen.

Makeisha has seen the sun rise over prehistoric shores, where the ocean writhed with soft, slimy things that bore the promise of dung beetles, Archeopteryx, and Edgar Allan Poe. She has seen the sun set upon long-forgotten empires. When Makeisha skims a map of the continents, she sees a fractured Pangaea. She never knows where she will jump next, or how long she will stay, but she is never afraid. Makeisha has been doing this all her life.