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PodCastle 663: Our Mortal Undressing

Show Notes

Rated R.


Our Mortal Undressing

by Hamilton Perez

I. Discovery

I suppose I’m chasing the wildflowers.

I first found them while digging for worms. It’s not very often an earthworm dies of old age, but this one called to me, bloated and weary, with its body caked in pollen and a belly full of decay. The soil was soft and moist to my mouth, rich with nutrients I had no need for, yet there was something familiar about it also. Like I’d loved and tasted this earth. Like it was a part of me, and I was a part of it. Slinking through the soil, something called to me, and not just the worm.

Over mineral and plant debris, rib bones and stones, I chewed my path downward. The others wriggled desperately away from me, until I found my heart’s desire curled up in the soft, fleshy remains of a lifeform already passed.

That’s when I remembered: No . . . she’d said upon meeting me, and nothing more ever again. As far as recognition goes, it’s not the worst I’ve encountered. She was a stubborn one though, suffering constantly yet refusing to leave. A deep gash sank through her belly, coated with red. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 662: La Camaraderie du Cirque

Show Notes

Rated R.


La Camaraderie du Cirque

By dave ring

Gather round, and let me tell you the story of Veronica’s Oiseau de Feu.

They were dark times, for me.  Every bloody day, Chuckles, Magda and Felix tried to trip me when I walked by, ugly faces snickering underneath their greasepaint.  My everything, Michel, ignored them, even when they pull that shit right in front of him.  It infuriated me.  He said it was to preserve “the camaraderie du cirque.”  I loved Michel.  But when Michel stood by doing nothing while those painted-mouth idiots tormented me, my love was lost in a rage that could turn a forest into cinders.

On those days, I screamed into my pillow: “Fuck the camaraderie du cirque!”  Though my pillow did just as little as Michel to salve my wounds.

Before my banishment from the tent, I used to lurk behind the cheap velvet curtains and watch Michel and Lars from backstage after all the tickets had been sold and the punters put in their seats.  Dear Michel and sweet, foolish Lars.  Our main act.  Under the lights, they gleamed.  They wore tiny silver posing pouches and white cords criss-crossed around their muscled limbs, like they’d been the pawns of bondage-minded sailors.  As if you could pull at a loose string and the two of them would fall apart into a sloppy pile of oiled pectorals, triceps and thighs. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 661: The Engineer of the Undersea Railways

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


The Engineer of the Undersea Railway

By Varsha Dinesh

The undersea engineer Persis Makhanwala cut a solitary figure to all those who knew her. The gossip rags reeled in the wake of her spangled saris and perpetually bruised eyes, scrambling to dredge up old dark-eyed paramours and sad, sparkling scandals. They called her such epithets as Queen of the Undersea and Siren of the Rails, crowding to get a glimpse as she emerged from a pincered little car at Bombay’s Marine Drive. Cameras clicked; lights flashed. Chai vendors, journalists and spectators jostled.

As Persis glowered, a train’s whistle sounded. The underwater tunnel lit up. The arc of it glimmered like a diamond necklace, stretching as far as the eye could see, into the mists of the Arabian Sea. A roar went through the crowd. Persis stepped off the promenade and into the waves, disappearing into a carefully concealed elevator.

It was a historic moment. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 660: TALES FROM THE VAULTS — The Husband Stitch

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 associate editor Kaitlyn Zivanovich. “The Husband Stitch” originally aired as PodCastle 409.


The Husband Stitch

By Carmen Maria Machado

(If you read this story out loud, please use the following voices:

Me: as a child, high-pitched, forgettable; as a woman, the same.

The boy who will grow into a man, and be my spouse: robust with his own good fortune.

My father: Like your father, or the man you wish was your father.

My son: as a small child, gentle, rounded with the faintest of lisps; as a man, like my husband.

All other women: interchangeable with my own.) (Continue Reading…)