PodCastle 152: The Hortlak
Editors’ Note: When this story was originally posted, somehow iTunes (and possibly other podcatchers) grabbed the wrong audio file. If the file you have is under 60 minutes, try re-downloading it. The correct file should be 70 minutes.
by Kelly Link
Recently Batu had evolved past the need for more than two or three hours’ sleep, which was good in some ways and bad in others. Eric had a suspicion he might figure out how to talk to Charley if Batu were tucked away, back in the storage closet, dreaming his own sweet dreams, and not scheming schemes, doing all the flirting on Eric’s behalf, so that Eric never had to say a thing.
Eric had even rehearsed the start of a conversation. Charley would say, “Where’s Batu?” and Eric would say, “Asleep.” Or even, “Sleeping in the closet.”
Charley’s story: she worked night shifts at the animal shelter. Every night, when Charley got to work, she checked the list to see which dogs were on the schedule. She took the dogs—any that weren’t too ill, or too mean—out for one last drive around town. Then she drove them back and she put them to sleep. She did this with an injection. She sat on the floor and petted them until they weren’t breathing anymore.
When she was telling Batu this, Batu sitting far too close to her, Eric not close enough, Eric had this thought, which was what it would be like to lie down and put his head on Charley’s leg. But the longest conversation that he’d ever managed with Charley was with Charley on one side of the counter, him on the other, when he’d explained that they weren’t taking money anymore, at least not unless people wanted to give them money.
About the Author
Kelly Link is the author of the collections Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, Pretty Monsters, and Get in Trouble. Her short stories have been published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, The Best American Short Stories, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards. She has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. She and Gavin J. Grant have co-edited a number of anthologies, including multiple volumes of The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and, for young adults, Steampunk! and Monstrous Affections. She is the co-founder of Small Beer Press and co-edits the occasional zine Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.
Link was born in Miami, Florida. She currently lives with her husband and daughter in Northampton, Massachusetts.
About the Narrator
Eric Luke is the screenwriter of the Joe Dante film EXPLORERS, which is currently in development as a remake, the comic books GHOST and WONDER WOMAN, and wrote and directed the NOT QUITE HUMAN films for Disney TV. His current project INTERFERENCE, a meta horror audiobook about an audiobook… that kills, is now a Best Seller on Audible.com. His website for creative projects is Quillhammer.com.