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PodCastle 667: Clouds in a Clear Blue Sky

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


Clouds in a Clear Blue Sky

By Matt Dovey

It were a clear blue day, what with the factory shut for the funeral and wake.

Colin was slumped in the pub garden’s swing, his straw hair sticking out every which way despite his mam’s best efforts with the Brylcreem. Me and Trev were stood by quiet, our hands lost in the oversized pockets of our borrowed suits. Trev’s cheeks had gone red and purple in the heat, his top button still done up and straining against his neck.

Mark came back out the pub with a plate of sausage rolls that he offered round.

“What’s it like in there?” I asked.

“Grim,” said Mark. “Your Uncle Gareth’s lost his jacket, and then he says it doesn’t matter compared to losing Colin’s dad, and then he starts crying again. Seen it happen three times while I were at the buffet.”

“Yeah, well,” I said. “Best mates, weren’t they?”

Colin grunted, swung himself a bit harder, but said nowt.

“Here, Colin,” said Mark, holding the plate out. “Fancy a sausage roll?”

Colin shrugged, carried on almost as if he hadn’t heard. Then he got up and stomped to the picnic bench and drank his Coke back in one go, then slammed the glass down so hard we all flinched thinking it’d smash.

“This is shit,” Colin said. “Really shit. Shit shit shit.” (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 666: Reading Dead Lips — Part 2

Show Notes

Rated R.


[Note: This is Part 2 of a two-part novelette. Visit our previous post to read Part 1.]

Reading Dead Lips — Part 2

By Dustin Steinacker

They must have razed the entire village, Alex said carefully, rather than admit that ordinary people had killed the officers living here. Better for the city to appear a battle casualty.

“Why does it matter?” she managed. “Whether it was military or rebels?”

“Czir military all captured or killed. Nobody there left, but still guerrillas fighting. No need to inspire them.”

“But you know it was rebels.”

“Everybody knows. Propaganda.”

“Then why?” she pled. For understanding, for any way to put order to this. Questions of politics seemed so distant and sanitary to this charnel town before her. “Why the coverup?”

“We pretend not to. Same thing. Propaganda still works.”

These streets of death brought names back to her memory. Her friend, little Tibor, he of the harelip scar. The Valentins, who both shouted and struck their children and made Noe glad for her gentle mother. Petr Mátyás, an oddly well-to-do peddler who’d had the misfortune of settling in Óste just before the end. A nice man with a hard-to-place accent who loved a foolish pun.

All dead or enslaved or worse. This was a graveyard, as much as any she’d visited coming here.

Snap. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 665: Reading Dead Lips — Part 1

Show Notes

Rated R.


Reading Dead Lips

By Dustin Steinacker

Nouelle had always thought that she’d feel a sense of homecoming when she returned to the country that had birthed her. But after eight years, it was already a foreign land. Her first day back she risked a hostel, near the border, and the shower water was wrong; it stung her flesh with its force but never seemed to rinse off the lather. The loudest voices in the common room all spoke the occupiers’ dialects and she stayed silent rather than mark herself as a Czir. The cooking smells too were unfamiliar.

After that she slept out of doors.

She was wiser than she’d been when last she breathed Czir air (this she told herself, and sometimes she believed it too). She now knew occult sciences, after all, and had acquainted herself with the many stages of corpse-stink. So yes, she was standing on ground that she’d had to sell herself to escape, occupied ground. But she was also prepared. She’d lost everything she ever had in this country and now, dammit, she had the chance to take just one thing back.

Somewhere within these borders was her sister. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 664: Wytchen Wood


Wytchen Wood

by Lori J. Torone

A decade of shavings covered the floor of Lewys’s carpentry shop. He didn’t bother sweeping any more, although he probably should — wood without magic produces a drab dust that desiccates the throat, shrivels the lungs. He coughed and gulped from his flask, stepping back from his work. Carving the finishing scrollwork on yet another hope chest for the latest bride-to-be in town did nothing to fill his own hollowness.

“Wait for me,” she had whispered in the wytchen grove so many years ago, her berry-scented breath caressing his cheek, “I will come back to you.” She’d taken magic with her, in the wytchen dust glinting in her sunlit hair as she waved goodbye from the newly-carved wagon. She took his heart as well, but left hope in its place. (Continue Reading…)