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PodCastle 747: Colors of the Immortal Palette – Part 2

Show Notes

Rated R

 

“The Traveler’s Guide to the Goblin Fells is an expansion book for the 5th edition of the world’s most litigious roleplaying game, about halflings riding giant pugs fighting against goblins piloting arcanotech mechs for control of valuable farmland at the onset of a brutal winter. The harvest is lean and there’s not enough to go around, someone’s going to go hungry this winter, but it doesn’t have to be you. The Goblin Fells can be easily located in any campaign setting and use the Creative Commons Weskven setting by default, so look for it on Kickstarter now or DriveThruRPG in the future to support the open source setting and indie development.”

 


[Note: This is Part 2 of a three-part novelette. Visit our previous post to read Part 1.]

Colors of the Immortal Palette

by Caroline M. Yoachim

 

COBALT BLUE

 

I paint the English Channel at Étretat, shortly after sunrise. The sun is a fiery vermillion and the water shimmers cobalt blue. It is roughly my hundredth impression of a sunrise, spread across the year on whatever days I can gather up the energy to greet the dawn with my easel at the shore.

I have painted skies both cloudy and clear, water in a variety of hues. When the tide permits I paint from the beach and include the white cliffs, and when the tide is high —  as it is today —  I paint the vast expanse of the channel from atop them. Sometimes the dark silhouettes of ships break the line of the horizon, and sometimes there is fog, a thin white mist that gives me shivers not entirely accounted for by the crisp morning air. Monet set off a movement with his Impression, Sunrise, painted not far south of here. Monet, and before that Manet, changing the world of art forever. Or so the historians like to spin the tale, imposing order onto the chaotic jumble of the past, pulling a single narrative thread from the fabric of time. Providing a focal point, like the bright orange sun that hovers above the water. And their focal point, of course, must always be a man.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 746: Colors of the Immortal Palette – Part 1

Show Notes

Rated R

 

The music for the promotion intro is “Sneaky Snitch” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 

Hey everyone, Alasdair here – hope you’re doing okay. The summer months are upon us, which means two things – hat weather for yours truly, and the part of our year when costs are high and support tends to dip. We know things are tight everywhere at the moment, and that includes us. For those of you who support us already, thank you so much. We hope you’re enjoying the great new CatsCast episodes. If you’d like to join them, we’ve got tons of options for you at Patreon and PayPal. Even a one-off at Ko-fi makes a big difference, or check out our great new swag store – maybe like me you need a hat! It all adds up, and helps us bring you the best in free audio fiction every week. Thanks, and enjoy this week’s episode.


Colors of the Immortal Palette

by Caroline M. Yoachim

 

LEAD WHITE

 

I will always remember the view of Paris from his window. Snow, pure and untouched, softens the outline of the buildings and covers the grime of the streets. White, the color of beginnings. His canvas is primed and ready to be painted, and stark winter sunlight glows bright on his undead skin.

The studio is cramped, drafty despite the heat radiating from the stove. One corner is clean and lavishly decorated, the rest a cluttered chaos of painting supplies and personal effects. He studies me intently as I take in the room, evaluating me much as he did at the Café Guerbois when I’d first caught his eye.

I wait for him to ask how I came to be in Paris. Artists are so very predictable that way — no trouble at all accepting this pale immortal creature as one of their own, but a woman of my mixed ancestry? Utterly implausible.

“You should hear the stories they tell of you at the café,” he says. “If Émile is to be believed, you arrived here as a ukiyo-e courtesan, nothing more than paper wrapped around a porcelain bowl. A painter — he will not say which of us it was, of course — bought the bowl and the print along with it.”

“And the painter pulled me from the print with the sheer force of his imagination, I’m sure,” I reply, laughing. “Émile is a novelist and can hardly be trusted to give an accurate account. The reality of my conception is vastly more mundane, I assure you . . . though it does involve a courtesan.” (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 745: A Beautiful Memory

Show Notes

Rated PG-13

 

The music for the promotion intro is “Sneaky Snitch” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 

Hey everyone, Alasdair here – hope you’re doing okay. The summer months are upon us, which means two things – hat weather for yours truly, and the part of our year when costs are high and support tends to dip. We know things are tight everywhere at the moment, and that includes us. For those of you who support us already, thank you so much. We hope you’re enjoying the great new CatsCast episodes. If you’d like to join them, we’ve got tons of options for you at Patreon and PayPal. Even a one-off at Ko-fi makes a big difference, or check out our great new swag store – maybe like me you need a hat! It all adds up, and helps us bring you the best in free audio fiction every week. Thanks, and enjoy this week’s episode.


A Beautiful Memory

by Shannon Peavey

 

On Thursday, a windsor-knotted businessman paid Anna three times her normal asking price for a quartet of thought-birds. She normally sold two at a time, because their growth was so slow. But he insisted. A bird of each flavor: contentment, melancholy, joy, fury.

“A few of the guys at work have taken up competitive birdsong,” he told her as he wrote the check. He had sharp breath, with the whisper of a three-martini lunch. “But they’re just using finches or sparrows. This one guy’s got a bunch of pigeons. Seriously.”

“I see,” Anna said, and stroked the melancholy bird’s head with one finger. It let out a sad little trill.

“So what do these things eat, anyway?”

“Seeds,” she said. “They’re just birds.”

She gave him the same form she gave all new customers — with a list of proper birdfoods and signs of good health: the dos and do-nots of birdkeeping. She didn’t tell him that holding the melancholy bird would make him feel like his heart would break, or that listening to the joyous bird could induce midlife crises. If he’d come to her, he should already know.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 744: Double Feature! I Will You Back to Time and Space; The Ocean-Eyed Boy

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.

 

The music for the promotion intro is “Sneaky Snitch” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 

Hey everyone, Alasdair here – hope you’re doing okay. The summer months are upon us, which means two things – hat weather for yours truly, and the part of our year when costs are high and support tends to dip. We know things are tight everywhere at the moment, and that includes us. For those of you who support us already, thank you so much. We hope you’re enjoying the great new CatsCast episodes. If you’d like to join them, we’ve got tons of options for you at Patreon and PayPal. Even a one-off at Ko-fi makes a big difference, or check out our great new swag store – maybe like me you need a hat! It all adds up, and helps us bring you the best in free audio fiction every week. Thanks, and enjoy this week’s episode.


I Will You Back to Time and Space

by Dafydd McKimm

 

You are ten years unborn on the evening of the day that will soon become known as G-day. I am washing dishes in the kitchen of our newly bought terrace, cleaning the residue of dinner from our finest boot-sale porcelain. I bring two glasses of wine over to the sofa, where your mother is yawning contentedly, and touch my glass gently to hers. The clink sings through the stuffy air.

“Cheers, fellow homeowner,” I say.

Your mother grins, takes a sip of her wine. Then her eyes focus on something behind me. Her glass falls; she screams; and I turn to see them for the first time: two hulking things, arms thick as tree trunks, barrel-chested, those beetle-browed primate eyes focused so intensely on us. I shout, curse, push your mother back, my head ringing like the resounding clink of the wine glasses but an alien moment ago.

Soon enough, we find out the gorillas aren’t just there for the two of us. They’re everywhere, following every living person, and they’re here to stay.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 743: Ribbons

Show Notes

Rated R


Ribbons

by Natalia Theodoridou

 

Monday’s lover tugs at Jan’s ribbon with his teeth. Jan doesn’t yell at the lover to stop. The guy just received bad news from the front — a friend lost to a bomb, perhaps, a sibling blown to bits; Jan doesn’t ask. He tells the lover, instead, to be careful: We don’t want my head rolling off now, do we? We’ve all heard of them, after all, the stories of women taking it off and their heads falling to the ground.

Monday’s lover nods and keeps his teeth to himself. Says he’s never seen a guy with a ribbon before.

What can I say, love? Jan tells him. I’m special. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 742: The Morning House

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


The Morning House

By Kate Heartfield

 

“This B&B is frankly unacceptable,” Dad says. “I want to go home.”

Sylvia freezes, runs through all the things she shouldn’t say.

You are home, Dad.

No, don’t argue. Never argue. Rule number one. Don’t dismiss. Get into his world, because he can’t get into yours.

Don’t you remember? You bought this house before I was born. You and Mom.

Don’t mention Mom, for God’s sake. Maybe today he doesn’t know she’s dead.

I know you think it’s a bed and breakfast, but this is actually your house. We all live here, now. Me and Kayla and David and you, together. Remember, Dad? Remember? We moved in with you, in March, after the diagnosis. But this is still your house.


(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 741: Between The Island and the Deep Blue Sea

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


Between The Island and the Deep Blue Sea

By Jaxon Tempest

 

No one knew how the island floated, but everyone knew it shouldn’t.

Four thousand square miles of concrete bones and metal veins, a million people circulating daily, and yet it sat in the middle of the Atlantic like a feather on a still pond. Even those with the most rudimentary understanding of physics would cry bullshit. Everyone had their theories, of course. Some called it an act of God, others a miracle of science, and a small yet loud minority called it a 10G interface meant to hack into their minds as a part of the new world order. When the three clashed, normal family dinners and rail rides to work turned into a three-ring circus of physics, theology and conspiracy theories.

I watched their interactions with a subdued smile. They were wrong, but their commitment to their ideals was adorable.

In rare instances, the three sides of the debate came together — when outside forces got involved. They came in the form of greedy foreigners with deep pockets and silver tongues. The Bahamas was no stranger to such people, even before the sea rose over the islands. They promised investments and jobs and economic boosts, then took all their money and fled the country at the slightest inconvenience.

It wasn’t different now. Instead of exploiting the sun, sand, and sea, they exploited the island’s secret, chased it like a cryptid. They came with cameras, diving equipment, and promises to uncover the mystery. Despite the warnings from the locals, they dove into the tongue of the ocean.

I killed them all. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 740: Beck’s Pest Control and the Case of the Drag Show Downer

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


Beck’s Pest Control and the Case of the Drag Show Downer

by Abra Staffin-Wiebe

 

I was sitting at the kitchen table, eating breakfast and arguing with my daughter, when my work phone broke the silence of our discussion.

Not happening, I signed, quickly swallowing my last bite of peanut butter toast so I could talk on the phone. Bedbug infestations are a no-go.

Moooooom, she answered, holding the word for emphasis. You promised!

“Beck’s Pest Control,” I answered my phone. “This is Beck. How can we help you?”

My mind was still on my argument with my daughter. I had promised, a month ago. You can’t break promises to kids, not even when they ambush you in a moment of weakness. And I confess, I was proud of her grasp of strategy.

Annie’s a smart, observant girl. She waited until I came back from a rough call. She ran me a bubble bath. She let me soak away the last traces of puke and ectoplasm. She waited until I settled into my armchair with a cup of hot chocolate, also provided by her. Then she’d sprung her request on me.

“Yeah,” a male voice answered me. “José Hernández said you might be able to . . . fix my problem?”

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 739: ‘Til Death

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


‘Til Death

by C. J. Lavigne

 

My dear Clarinda,

They tell me that when you heard of my wedding, you shattered a goblet, fell to the floor in a swooning fit, and did not arise for three days. I hear that the entirety of the manor was wreathed in black. Really, darling, it seems a bit much. I’m fine.

I know it’s not the choice you would have made. If it’s any consolation . . . in the moment when I found myself there, caught between the noble prince and the eternal night, I did think of you. It was all very dramatic, Jordan standing there in a shaft of brilliant light, his hand outstretched, begging me to leave Gareth’s side. I was glad he’d thought to break the window boards, or that whole scene would have been significantly bloodier; I could feel Gareth, pressed against my back, and his fingers were gentle on my shoulder but his teeth were bared.

Your voice was there, I promise. I heard you say think of the sunlight and death is what gives life meaning and he has loved you since childhood and, yes, all of it was true. So please don’t feel guilty; don’t think “if I’d only been there” or “she was confused” or “I could have changed her mind.” I wasn’t confused. You didn’t change my mind. But I know you, and I knew you would have tried.

We are very different people, you and I.

I hope, though, that we can still be friends. I assure you, I retain all of our life’s affections, and I wish you only the best. I won’t visit; Gareth tells me it will take time before the bloodlust abates, and I do not wish to frighten or harm you. But write back! Just give the parchment to a spider, or a bat — leave it on the windowsill, if you like. They will know it’s for me.

 

All my heart,

D.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 738: The Bones Beneath

Show Notes

Rated PG-13


The Bones Beneath

by Vanessa Fogg

 

Four years ago, the bones began pushing up from the earth. Fay is now seventeen, and she feels the bones’ movements more strongly each year. It’s the end of winter, but not yet the beginning of spring. Snowmelt has turned the fields to mud, and the grass is dead and brown. The trees still bare, the air still chill. Mist in the morning, or her own breath white as frost.

She wakes in the darkness, dresses, and combs her hair. She puts the tea kettle on the stove, heats bread on the griddle beside it. Her father has already left for his job in the local government’s accounting office. Her mother lies abed late. Like many, Fay’s mother suffers spells of sleeplessness and dizziness at this time of year, and headaches that make her cover her eyes.

Fay leaves a bit of bread on a plate for her little brother when he wakes. She closes the front door behind her.

The bare field is on the outskirts of town, several miles away. But she can still feel it as she walks to school. She feels the movement of buried bones there, the remains of the little creatures of the earth — mice, voles, and moles. Things that once saw light, and things that stayed underground, blind and digging. Hidden things, forgotten things.

Deep underneath, the earth is frozen. But it’s thawing near the surface. Fay feels the twitch and shiver of waking bones in the dirt, like the wingbeats of new birds trying to fly. (Continue Reading…)