Rated PG: Contains a Rush of Sugary Sweetness (No Corn Syrup or Artificial Flavoring!)
by Cat Rambo
They line up before Laurana, forty baked-clay heads atop forty bodies built of metal cylinders. Every year she casts and fires new heads to replace those lost to weather, the wild, or simple erosion. She rarely replaces the metal bodies. They are scuffed and battered, over a century old.
Every morning, the island sun beating down on her pale scalp, she stands on the maison’s porch with the golems before her. Motionless. Expressionless.
She chants. The music and the words fly into the clay heads and keep them thinking. The golems are faster just after they have been charged. They move more lightly, with more precision. With more joy. Without the daily chant they could go perhaps three days at most, depending on the heaviness of their labors.
This month is cane-planting season. She delegates the squads of laborers and sets some to carrying buckets from the spring to water the new cane shoots while others dig furrows. The roof needs reshingling, but it can wait until planting season is past. As the golems shuffle off, she pauses to water the flowering bushes along the front of the house. Placing her fingertips together, she conjures a tiny rain cloud, wringing moisture from the air. Warm drops collect on the leaves, rolling down to darken pink and gray bark to red and black.
About the Author
Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches atop a hill in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She is an Endeavour, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee. Her 2018 works include Hearts of Tabat (novel, WordFire Press), Moving From Idea to Finished Draft (nonfiction, Plunkett Press) and the updated 3rd edition ofCreating an Online Presence for Writers (nonfiction, Plunkett Press). For more about her, as well as links to her fiction and her popular online school, The Rambo Academy for Wayward Writers, see her website kittywumpus.net
About the Narrator
Rachel Swirsky came onboard PodCastle as the founding editor in 2008 and was honored to run many beautiful stories by amazing authors. She would name them all, but would rather point you to the beginning of the PodCastle archive. It’s a Peter Beagle story.
Rachel graduated from the Iowa Writers Workshop, and she’s been nominated for the Hugo Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Locus Award, and several others. She’s won the Nebula Award twice, once for her novella “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers Beneath the Queen’s Window” and once for her short story “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.” She’s been published a number of times in the first three Escape Artists podcasts: EscapePod, PodCastle, and PseudoPod, and narrated a bunch of episodes, too.
Find her website at rachelswirsky.com, visit her on Twitter, and help her write more stories on Patreon where you can get an original story or poem each month for as little as a dollar.