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PodCastle 684: In the Dim Below

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


In the Dim Below

by Teresa Milbrodt

This had been the routine since I was born, bombs coming every few years, or every few months, whenever there was another reason for everyone on one side of the river to get mad at everyone on other other side of the river, or vice versa. The sirens blew and we had to go inside, or down below, until the blasts stopped, the smoke mostly cleared, and we could come up and see what was left of the world.

It was bad when you were a kid. Bombs had no eyes to make decisions, couldn’t tell soldiers from children. Each of us had seen at least one friend’s body carried from a pile of stone that had once been a house. Our parents told us not to worry because they were shooting bombs back across the river to keep us safe. We didn’t know how that was supposed to stop the other bombs, or why faceless enemies imagined us as soldiers instead of friends. Didn’t they have kids on the other side of the river, kids who looked something like us? But we couldn’t ask questions, we just had to find a tiny space where bombs could not find us. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 683: Three for Hers

Show Notes

Rated R.


Three For Hers

by Filip Hajdar Drnovšek Zorko

 

The second time one of Vida’s brothers came home with strips of flesh cut out of his back, she decided it was time for the Margrave’s rule to end.

‘Don’t go,’ her middle brother sobbed. His bandages had soaked through, blood clumping where it met the grimy floor. ‘I was brave and fierce, and it was not enough.’

‘Don’t go,’ her oldest brother pleaded. His back had scarred a long time ago. So had his spirit. ‘I was strong and stubborn, and it was not enough.’

‘Please don’t go.’ Her father’s face was the hardest to ignore. Vida bundled the last of her belongings. It did not take long: the Plemitschi allowed them only food and clothing.

‘We have served the rulers of this land since it was young.’ Vida looked down as she spoke. Her father remembered a time when their service had been freely given, one Yagichari to another. She did not wish to see that nostalgia on his face. ‘I will not stop now.’

‘I’ll go instead,’ her father said. ‘You cannot do this to your brothers. They rely on your good cheer. I cannot bear to see your heart harden in the Margrave’s service.’

Vida did not want to upset him. She did not say, My heart hardened the day the Plemitschi came. Or, My heart broke the day the plague broke out, and I have pretended ever since, for you and for my brothers, because I knew I was stronger. Or, There is no heart where the Plemitschi tread.

‘I will serve,’ Vida said, and left.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 682: TALES FROM THE VAULTS —Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy

Show Notes

Rated R.

This episode is a part of our Tales from the Vaults series, in which a member of PodCastle’s staff chooses a backlist episode to highlight and discuss. This week’s episode was chosen by departing co-editor, C.L. Clark. “Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy” originally aired as PodCastle 324.


Without Faith, Without Law, Without Joy

by Saladin Ahmed

I do not know how he brought us to this land of blood and iron masks. I know only that I am a real man trapped in a mad landscape of living lessons.

My brothers and I were spirited here from my home in…Damascus? Yes, praise be to God that I can remember that. The sound of the street-preachers, and the smells of the spice vendors’ stalls.

Damascus.

We were sipping tea in a room with green carpets, and I was laughing at a jest that…that someone was making. Who? The face, the voice, the name have been stolen from me. All I know is that my brothers and I suddenly found ourselves in this twisted place, each aware of the others’ fates, but unable to find one another. Unable to find any escape.

Now my eldest brother has been slain. And my next eldest brother has disappeared.

Who am I? I do not know how he changed our names. But in this world of lions and giants and the blinding shine of armor, I am called Joyless, as if it were a name.

It was not my name. It is not my name. But this is his place, and it follows his commands.

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PodCastle Miniature 102: What the Sea Reaps, We Must Provide


What the Sea Reaps, We Must Provide

by Eleanor R. Wood

The ball bounces off the tide-packed sand and Bailey leaps to catch it with lithe grace and accuracy. He returns to deposit it at my feet for another go. It’s nearly dusk; the beach is ours on this January evening. It stretches ahead, the rising tide low enough to give us ample time to reach the sea wall.

Bailey’s devotion to his ball is second only to his pack. He is never careless with it, relinquishing it only at my command or to give Bernie the occasional chase. Bernie brings up the rear, my shaggy bear, staying close but lacking Bailey’s fierce duty to his ball.

(Continue Reading…)