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PodCastle 677: Our Roots Devour

Show Notes

Rated PG-13 for violence, including child abuse.


Our Roots Devour

by Lora Gray

Momma always told us the Tree ain’t got a taste for our family’s blood. But it’s hard to keep my heart from hammering when I lay that blackbird, swaddled like a baby in one of Momma’s old blouses, against its roots. The Tree’s face is pinched and lurksome in the afternoon light. And those roots? They crawl out the river like spider legs, knots and whorls winking at me like we got secrets between us.

Maybe we do.

But I don’t rightly know how to share them, I don’t know how to Sing to that Tree. Hannah’s the one who got Momma’s voice, not me. 

I try not to think about what that blackbird’ll look like all chewed up and wrung round the Tree’s branches like an old dish towel when I run back up the gully and through the woods. I think about my momma, even though she’s dead and gone under the earth. And I think about Hannah in the cellar where Aunt Marylou put her, tied up and gagged, all her magic silent.

I run faster.

I only stop when I reach the edge of the woods, my side stitching, my bare arms sweaty and bramble scratched. There, across the tangle of grass that used to be our tomato garden, is Aunt Marylou’s house, that shack with the old barn leaning against it, rotted planks slumped on busted gutters. The hayloft window gapes like it’s surprised to see me there, crouched in the chicory.

One of these days that barn’s gonna fall right over and smash Aunt Marylou’s shack. Maybe Aunt Marylou’ll be there when it happens, sitting like she is now on her back porch in that rocking chair of hers. There’s a half-gone jar of hooch in her hand. It’s the strong stuff she trades Pickle Nelson for, and the turpentine stink pulls tears out the corners of my eyes when the wind shifts. She takes a drink. The hooch sloshes. The jar clinks.

There’s an axe in Aunt Marylou’s lap, the handle long, the blade shining, and she touches it. She prays. “Show me what You want me to do,” she says over and over again. “Show me what You want me to do.”

Closing her eyes, she lights her cigarette.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 676: #BloodBossBabes

Show Notes

Rated R for bloody sacrifices to thirsty gods.


#BloodBossBabes

By Rachel Kolar

 

Hey Girl!

From: Amy Shearer (serpentsisteramy@sotesh.com)

To: Heather McBride (mcheather@ymail.com)

 

Hey, girlfriend! Love looking at your beautiful family on Insta. And congrats on getting into grad school—that’s HUGE!

Furthering your education while raising a family takes so much dedication, and that’s why I think you’d be AMAZING on my team. For the past six months, I’ve been offering blood libations to Sotesh, Mother of Serpents, and let me tell you, it has changed my life! I get to set my own schedule, bleeding the unbelievers when it’s convenient for me. I have the security of knowing that when Sotesh comes in Her glory, I’ll be spared the worst of Her wrath. And She gives Her faithful THE BEST gifts! Just last week, I hit Green Level and was blessed with the ability to shed my soft warm-blood skin. Check out these before and after pics—my acne is COMPLETELY gone! #CobraClear #WhiteheadsAreForWarmbloods

I’m looking to pick up some acolytes, and you’d be a natural. Let me know if you’re interested! And give my love to Jason and the kids. <3

XOXOXO,

Amy

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 675: Blush Response

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


Blush Response

by E. Catherine Tobler

No shit, there I was, behind the wet curves of the ebony Bugatti, watching Kasper cut through the rain like a knife’s sudden edge. He paced outside the automat, clothes wet like he’d been out there a few hours. His silver lighter slid between his rain-flecked hands.

It was too wet to smoke, the windows of the Bugatti streaming with rain that ran quicksilver when I slammed the trunk. It latched with an exasperated splatter and I brushed the wet from my charcoal trousers and straightened to study Kasper.

“Lola.”

Kasper was an ashen smudge amid the hues of gray that coated the world until he thrust his chin toward me in greeting. The clear light falling through the automat’s window caught the rosy colors that banded his cheeks and brow for a long-ago crime, exposing hues unnatural and alien. His left eye gleamed emerald, the other as flat and flint as Chicago around us.

I joined him under the dripping awning, rain tracing my melting jet pincurls while he rooted in his jacket for his silver cigarette case. The minute he opened it, the damp air blanketed the cigarettes and his lighter refused to catch.

“You’re late for your boys,” I said, “and looking like the gutters spat you out.” Sodden debris clung to his shoulders and his shirt was rucked out of his belt. His hair, slate parted to the right and gold to the left, was mussed like a lady’d had her fingers all up in it. But no lady would have her fingers all up in that.

“They in there?” His head jerked toward the automat window.

“You know they are.”

Kasper’s crew, the Rock Ghosts, was sour-faced and focused on the door to the powder room. I unbuttoned my jacket and shoved my hands into my pockets, the motion exposing the black leather holster at my waist. As far as Kasper knew, I was a bruno like him, someone known for keeping things right and proper and orderly. You needed a thing taken or reclaimed, we were also the people to see. Usually.

“You–” The word seemed too big in his mouth and he coughed. “I can ask you something, Lola? In confidence?”

He was going to ask me about the dame, because she wasn’t at the table where she should be. Where he should be, too, because he always saw to her, made sure she had her slice of sweet meringue.

“You can ask me something, Kasper.” I rocked back on my heels, enjoying his discomfort the way I would later enjoy stripping out of my damp suit.

“You seen Wonderly tonight?”

People didn’t much talk about Wonderly; she was a sin everyone desired but none wanted to confess. She was a creature that shouldn’t exist, not so much an angel you hear stories about, but more a creature that should not be possible at all, something no one could ever rightly make. You believe in God enough, angels seem possible. Not Wonderly.

(Continue Reading…)