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PodCastle 645: God Damn, How Real Is This?

Show Notes

Thanks to Nightwood Editions for allowing us to reprint the text of this story and to ECW Press for allowing us to run an excerpt from the collection’s audiobook; this audiobook was produced as a part of ECW Press’s Bespeak Audio Imprint. You can purchase the print version of this book here and the audiobook here.


God Damn, How Real Is This?

By Doretta Lau

My future self sends me a text message at least once a day.

The latest: Hey, tricho-slut, get your man hands out of our hair. I have a Lake Michigan–shaped bald spot forming on the back of my head. stop plucking. it’s starting to look like a penis.

Last I checked there were no Great Lakes of any sort blooming on my scalp, no Superiors or Hurons or Eries flooding my hair. Of late, these missives from the future have become increasingly more abusive. I wonder, when will I flip my bitch switch and hop on this negative self-talk train? In a week? In a year? I’d like to believe this use of misogynistic language is out of character and that maybe I’m being trolled by a bored identity thief. I file the thought as something for my present self to discuss with my now therapist.

Another message flashes on my phone: That mole on your left arm that you’ve been ignoring? Get thee to a doctor. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 644: Sea-Crowned

Show Notes

Rated R.


Sea-Crowned

By H. Pueyo

Water — there’s water everywhere, water covering my feet, my knees, my hips. Water, foam, salt, sand in my mouth, waves crashing against this iron cage, pulling both it and me towards the depths. Once, I looked at the sea for comfort, to shelter my loneliness from your anger, but you took that away from me, like you took everything else.

We have the same blood, you and I, and yet . . . And yet I am the only one here, aren’t I?


(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 643: Strange Things Done

Show Notes

Rated R.


Strange Things Done

By Tori Curtis

Audra was both proud and shy of her body, these days; she liked to be seen, but could barely stand to be looked at. She and Nicole lay in the bed that had once been Nic’s grandparents’, both of them naked, both of them staring down at her tits.

“Those are new,” Nic said, nodding at the pinfeathers scattered across her chest (inconsistently, like powdered sugar or freckles). They had come up all over her body, but especially between her neck and her navel, thick over her shoulders and chest.

Nic had no impulse control and she wasn’t used to denying her base desires; she sat on her hands to keep them to herself. The muscles flexed in her forearms and in her throat when she swallowed. “Does it hurt to touch them?” she asked.

Audra looked down, shifted her weight, spread her hair out on the pillow like a halo. The feathers were brighter than she’d expected. When she’d had hair across her chest, so long ago it wasn’t even a sense memory anymore, it had been dark and dull. The new growth was almost tropical: tiny dots of blue, violet, bright red. She looked up, making eye contact briefly, and said, “I don’t know. Why don’t you see?” Nic reached out and Audra added, suddenly panicked, “Gently!”, and they both laughed.

Nic was always gentle with her, and gentler when she realized that she was being given a gift of extraordinary trust. Her fingertips barely brushed the new feather shafts. Her nails scraped over Audra’s nipple, and Audra goosebumped all over, the feathers stood erect.

“I don’t think that’s what birds do,” Nic said.

Audra crossed her arms over her chest, careful with all the tender parts of her. “I’m not a bird,” she said. “I wouldn’t know.”

“Well,” Nic said. They were both unsure. “Didn’t used to be.”

Audra considered that and stretched, pointed her toes toward the long end of the bed. She scratched a spot on her arm where she thought a new feather was beginning to form. “It doesn’t hurt,” she said, “but I don’t think I like you touching them yet. Not while they’re still so new.”

“That’s all right,” Nic said, and spread herself on the bed next to her, languid and easy and casual to balance Audra’s nerves. “There’s plenty of other places I can touch for now.”

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 642: In a Field of Bone-Bonnets

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


In a Field of Bone-Bonnets

Aimee Picchi

The hut shuffled to face the sunrise, a habit that pleased its old witch, and kindled the fire in its hearth for her morning tea.

The witch groaned as she wobbled from her bed and picked up a ragged note from the floor. The scrap had been slipped under the hut’s door in the middle of the night while the witch had snored in her feather bed. During the note’s delivery, the hut had remained still because the witch had told it many years ago that her customers were scared enough already and might be frightened off if a giant chicken-footed hut suddenly moved.

The witch and the hut both knew what the note would say. The messages were always the same, even if the words were different.

“Another woman needs my help.” The witch wheezed as she reached for her bag of medicines.

The ever-glowing skulls strung by the hut’s doorway clattered. You need to rest.

“My dearest hut, I must continue with my work until I can no longer. Stoke your fires at dusk. That’s when I will return.”

As she reached for her walking stick, she gave the hut’s central beam a pat.

The hut watched with worry as she limped into the woods in search of the young woman who had written the note and crept to the hut’s door in the middle of the night.

As the sun arced across the sky, the hut rotated on its chicken feet to follow the warmth. It opened its shutters and aired its insides, then closed the shutters when the afternoon air grew hot and humid.

As the sun was setting, the old woman stumped back, her breathing labored. Fatigue lined her face, and she stepped inside unsteadily.

You are too old to keep doing this, the hut clattered. (Continue Reading…)