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PodCastle 453: A Spirited Education


A Spirited Education

by Toni Pi

Incense smoke drifted through the air in the apothecary like ribbons of kelp. The good doctor was brooding over an anatomy manual at his desk, reading by the light of his oil lamp. I summoned my courage, entered uninvited, and bowed deep.

“Teacher, I’ve come to resume my lessons.”

Doctor Zhao closed his book with a sigh. “Against your father’s wishes, Liren?”

“He didn’t forbid me from learning healing lore,” I corrected. As county magistrate, Father lauded the scholarly study of acupuncture and moxibustion. “He only disapproves of me practicing medicine.”

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PodCastle 451: Or Be Forever Fallen


Or Be Forever Fallen

by A. Merc Rustad

The raven’s ghost follows first. It’s not a surprise, if I’m honest. I killed a raven once —intentional, cruelsome time ago. (I don’t remember why.) At first I saw it in the distance while I prowled the ruins of the once-majestic forest, hunting the men who robbed me. Yet the ghost never approached until now.

It perches on a petrified tree stump. The light from the campfire shimmers against its glossy feathers, blood etching razor-edged plumage. It should be indistinguishable in the night, banked in shadow. I only know it’s a ghost from the hollows of its missing eyes, how its shape bends in unnatural directions at the corners of my sight.

“I’ve naught for you.” I say it to the knives laid out on oiled canvas before me.

The raven’s ghost makes no sound. Its unnatural muteness tightens the muscles in my neck. Ghosts are never silent. Death is neither gentle nor kind.

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PodCastle 450: Bonsai

Show Notes

Rated PG


Bonsai

by Shaenon K. Garrity

Uterine cancer, the doctor is saying, and the world ends. Stage Four. That means advanced. It means bad. Your arms and legs and throat go numb. All you can hear is his question, looping: when was your last exam? You can’t remember. Not that it matters now.

In cases like yours we require inpatient treatment. It may take anywhere from several months to. Static. To when? To forever. To death. You’ve never left the U.S. or finished Ulysses. You haven’t done enough of anything, really. You shove back the thoughts.

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PodCastle 445: In Mixcoatl’s Net


In Mixcoatl’s Net

by Charlie Allison

Sunny abandoned her house the day after she buried Anna and struck out for the western metropolis of Palotl. She gathered up all her practical effects in no time at all: a sharp knife, matches, a map, and a pair of good blankets—one from her childhood, one from Anna’s.

Anna’s blanket was a mess of Evenki winter scenes: the Old Witch’s Comb, a strutting rooster and the gaping grey jaws of wolves.

Sunny sniffed. It still smelled like her.

Her own blanket was decorated with Quetzal mosaics in bright reds and greens: the Flower Goddess bringing life to the desert, Mixcoatl the Hunter casting his net through the stars, headless Night Axe terrorizing travelers.

Sunny rolled up the blankets along with a bedroll and stuffed them into her backpack.

She packed a sensible amount of food (turkey and dog sausages, tortillas, a few ears of corn and as much water as she could fit), strapped on her boots, and stomped to her front door for the last time.

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