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PodCastle 634: When I Was a Witch

Show Notes

Rated PG.


When I Was a Witch

By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

If I had understood the terms of that one-sided contract with Satan, the Time of Witching would have lasted longer — you may be sure of that. But how was I to tell? It just happened and has never happened again, though I’ve tried the same preliminaries as far as I could control them.

The thing began all of a sudden, one October midnight — the 30th, to be exact. It had been hot, really hot, all day, and was sultry and thunderous in the evening; no air stirring, and the whole house stewing
with that ill-advised activity which always seems to move the steam radiator when it isn’t wanted.

I was in a state of simmering rage — hot enough, even without the weather and the furnace — and I went up on the roof to cool off. A top-floor apartment has that advantage, among others — you can take a walk without the mediation of an elevator boy! (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 633: The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


The Night Bazaar for Women Becoming Reptiles

By Rachael K. Jones

In the desert, all the footprints lead into Oasis, and none lead out again. They come for water, and once they find it, no one returns to the endless sand. The city is a prison with bars of thirst and heat.

Outside the gates the reptiles roam: asps and cobras, great lazing skinks, tortoises who lie down to doze in the heat. Where they go as they pad and swish and claw their way through the sand, no one knows, save the women who look over the walls and feel the deep itching pressure in their bones, the weight of skin in need of sloughing. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 632: Our Chymical Séance

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


Our Chymical Séance

By Tony Pi

To thoroughly inspect the spacious Silverbirch Room before the séance would take more time than we had, but I did what I could. No clockwork cheats lay hidden between the wall of books and the arched windows, and no mystical runes had been etched onto the crystals of the chandelier or cut into the fossil calygreyhound skeleton on display on the mantelpiece. All that remained was the grand salon harmonium, also the most troublesome. Madame Skilling could have hidden a charlatan’s trick anywhere among the instrument’s countless parts, from its mahogany upper casework to the hundreds of pipes at its heart.

Cesar De Bruin rolled the key to the room between his palms as he stood watch, peering through the slightly ajar door. “Anything yet, Tremaine?” he asked. “Too many so-called spirit mediums have preyed upon my family’s grief, but they were charlatans with parlour tricks, all. I would rid myself of this one quickly as well. We haven’t got much time.”

I couldn’t fault my friend’s dander. His only son Poul had shot himself with a palmcannon last summer, a year to the day. Cesar had this lounge closed to the guests at Château Banffshyre ever since. Had his wife not insisted on the séance, he would have been content to leave the Silverbirch Room sealed. “Laroux said he’d stall her, and he will. He’s nothing if not resourceful.”

“Let’s hope. This Skilling woman’s convinced my wife that her ‘chymical’ method will not fail to contact the other side. I know too little of alchemy to prove her and her Ektoptikon device false, and Fay will not see sense. Have you nothing?”

“In all likelihood Madame Skilling hasn’t breached this room, Cesar, judging by the dust.” I gave the lion’s-head handle on my new walking stick a quarter-turn clockwise, revealing a clever compartment in the shaft beneath the collar. Freed from its cherrywood cocoon, the foxfire-in-amber within shone brightly from its silver setting. I ran the illumination along the pedal keys, but they showed no signs of tampering. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 631: TALES FROM THE VAULTS — Another End of the Empire

Show Notes

Rated PG for superseded oracles, despots past their expiration dates and probability witches.


Another End of the Empire

By Tim Pratt

“I am here,” Mogrash said. “Give me the bad news.”

“A child dwells in the village of Misery Chin, in the mountain
provinces to the east. If allowed to grow to manhood, he will take
over your empire, overthrow your ways and means, and send you from the halls of your palace forever.”

Mogrash relaxed. This was, at least, not an immediate threat‚ not like the pronouncement of metastasized bone cancer she’d given his grandfather. He sighed. “So I’m expected to send my Fell Rangers to the mountains, raze the village, leave no stone upon a stone, enslave the women, and kill all the younglings to stop this dire prophecy from coming to pass.”

“It’s what your father would have done.”

“Yes, but I’m more modern than he was. Besides, we’ve seen this happen a thousand times‚ the attempt to stop the prophecy will make it come to pass, won’t it?”


To read the rest of this story, visit Strange Horizons