Archive for Podcasts

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 718: Memoirs of a Magic Mirror

Show Notes

Rated PG-13

Memoirs of a Magic Mirror

by Julia Knowles

It started when three magicians, two fairies, a couple of wizards, a witch, and one very drunken sage decided it was a good idea to give consciousness to a mirror that had to answer any question truthfully. Personally, I blame the alcohol.

The sage ended up keeping me. Maybe the others had worked out that something that can only speak the truth and is compelled to answer every question it hears might not be the best house guest. All things considered, the sage coped with my presence admirably. Perhaps he liked having someone who could also ramble about the metaphysical considerations inherent in being an insignificant speck in a vast and uncaring world from time to time.

It wasn’t so bad. Even if it was only one person, with the sage I always had company. After he died I was forgotten in storage for a few decades before one of his descendants sold me off. From there I was passed between the wealthy and privileged — who had varying levels of interest in the knowledge I offered — for generations.

But I suppose the long lineage of my possession isn’t terribly relevant to this tale. Suffice to say that eventually an ageing duke saw fit to pass me on to his great-niece as a wedding present. Which, with the benefit of hindsight, was a stellar example of the old saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

(Continue Reading…)

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 717: The Stiffening

Show Notes

Rated PG-13

The Stiffening

by Nicole D. Sconiers

I was eight years old when I realized that I never saw my mother sitting. Ever. Or lying in bed or immersed beneath a blanket of suds in our old clawfoot bathtub. She was always upright. Afternoons would find her in the kitchen, tending something on the stove or wiping down counters with a dish rag. This is how I remember her: thick black hair spilling over broad shoulders and sturdy legs clad in a print skirt and drugstore stockings. She loved to cook, to bring a steaming and pungent plate of collard greens to the table, to serve my sister Trina and me a slice of her famous orange pound cake. Even though she was on her feet all day mixing batter at Xavier’s Donuts, the sound of a metal spoon clanking against a pot usually met me and Trina when we came home from school.

(Continue Reading…)

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 716: Tadpole Prophecy

Show Notes

Rated PG-13

Tadpole Prophecy

Avi Burton

It is cold, twilight on the cusp of true night, and they have sent you down to kill a monster. The uncut gems of frost crunch underneath your feet.

The dark lord’s castle is onyx and steel, and it is beautiful. It is a fortress that lurches out over the cliff face like a three-fingered hand jutting into the sky. It resonates and sings to you, drawing you forward. The windows are frosted glass and obscure what lurks behind.

There are guards by the jagged portcullis, but they step aside as we pass. They know the duty we have been sent here to do. They cannot change the prophecy. You grip my handle tighter and wonder what the guards fear more — you, or your destiny. I, linked to your thoughts by the bond we share, suggest that they are one and the same.

If I wasn’t me, you ask silently, do you think the guards would try and fight for their monster? Do you think that they would die for him?

People always die for dark lords, willingly or not, I say. That is their purpose. We have ours.

Purpose. Destiny. You shake your head and stride in to meet yours.

(Continue Reading…)

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 715: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – Why I Bought Satan Two Cokes on the Day I Graduated High School

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, our final episode of the year, was chosen by our departing assistant editor and host, Summer Fletcher. “Why I Bought Satan Two Cokes on the Day I Graduated High School” originally aired as PodCastle 336.

Why I Bought Satan Two Cokes on the Day I Graduated High School

by Nathaniel Lee

When I came out of the coffee shop with my latte and my fresh walnut
brownie, the Archangel Michael was beating the ever-loving shit out of
Satan down on the corner.  I could see the impact crater, right in the
middle of the intersection, and one of the poles holding up the
traffic lights was cut right in two so the wires had all fallen in the
street and also it was on fire on account of the flaming sword, so it
was a real mess.  All higgledy-piggledy.  Michael was holding Satan up
by the neck with one hand and just slapping him across the face with
the other.  Which also by the way was still holding the sword, so it
wasn’t so much like slapping as it was punching with brass knuckles.
Also it was still on fire.

People were honking, but only the ones far enough back that they
couldn’t see what was going on.  Everyone else was kind of looking the
other way.  Fiddling with their cell phones.  Avoiding eye contact.
You know, like you do around angels.

I figured it was time.

“Hey,” I said.  Michael turned.  I lifted the hand with the coffee in
it and pointed at Satan, who was pretty beat up by then.  Missing some
teeth and all bruises and stuff.  “Not cool,” I told Michael.

The angel looked down at me with his bronze wings all clanging in the
wind.  Then he snorted and tossed Satan to the ground and just took
off.  I stumbled a little and nearly spilled my coffee.  Angels got
wicked backwash.

By then Satan was staggering upright.  “You okay, dude?” I asked him.

“Could’ve taken him,” Satan said.  He spat out a tooth and flared his
nostrils.  “Didn’t need your help.”

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 714: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – Nightfall in the Scent Garden

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 Srikripa Krishna Prasad. “Nightfall in the Scent Garden” originally aired as PodCastle 271.

Nightfall in the Scent Garden

by Claire Humphrey

If you read this, you’ll tell me what grew over the arbor was ivy, not wisteria. If you are in a forgiving mood, you’ll open the envelope, and you’ll remind me how your father’s van broke down and we were late back. How we sat drinking iced tea while the radiator steamed.

You might dig out that picture, the one with the two of us sitting on the willow stump, and point out how small we were, how pudgy, how like any other pair of schoolgirls. How our ill-cut hair straggled over the shoulders of our flannel shirts.

You’ll remind me of the stories we used to tell each other. We spent hours embroidering them, improving on each other’s inventions. We built palaces and peopled them with dynasties, you’ll say, and we made ourselves emperors in every one, and every one was false.

If you read this, you’ll call your mother, or mine. They’ll confirm what you recall.

By then, though, you will begin to disbelieve it yourself.

If you think on it long enough, you’ll recall the kiss. I left it there untouched, the single thread you could pull to unravel this whole tapestry.

You’ll start to understand none of these things happened the way you remember. If you read this, you’ll learn how I betrayed you.

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 713: Candy Canes, Comics, and Christmas

Show Notes

Rated PG

Candy Canes, Comics, and Christmas

by Gary McKay

I met Marlene atop Lily Hill on December 17th 1983, two weeks after my tenth birthday. The news of the Harrods bombing — the IRA’s crime against Christmas — was all the talk in Ballykey that afternoon, but I was too young to understand. I’d popped out to get some sweets and on a whim, decided to climb Lily Hill while the weather wasn’t awful. This was one of my favourite places to read superhero comics in peace — at home, Ma told me I was filling my head with nonsense and at school, both the boys and girls teased me. It’s grown in popularity in recent years as a tourist destination, but back then, not many people came to Lily Hill, which suited me just fine.

I didn’t realise someone was already there until I rounded the final bend of the hill. It was a girl with short, blonde hair, dressed in a jumper and skirt. A necklace with a series of stars on it hung from her neck. I paused and considered retreating, but she’d seen me. The girl waved and skipped over before I could move.

(Continue Reading…)

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 712: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – Thorns

Show Notes

Rated PG

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. Today’s bonus episode was chosen by associate editor Kaitlyn Zivanovich. “Thorns” originally aired as PodCastle 279.


by Martha Wells

We reached the landing above the Hall.  Below, Electra’s husband, Mr. John Dearing, was personally receiving a guest, a young man in the act of handing his greatcoat to the butler.

There were no guests expected, and just before the dinner hour is not considered an appropriate time for casual calls, yet Dearing was greeting this presumptuous fellow as a prodigal son.

He was a striking figure. (The guest, I mean.  Dearing is a stout bewhiskered muskrat of a man, a fit mate for Electra.)  Blond curls, broad shoulders, a chiseled profile.  I felt a feather of unease travel down my spine; old instincts rousing, perhaps.  His garments, though somewhat the worse for travel at this rainy time of year, were of fashionable cut and fine cloth.

Frowning, Electra caught the attention of one of the footmen stationed at the bottom of the stairs, and called him up to her to ask, “Why, William, whoever is that?”

“Madame, they say it’s a foreign Duke, the son of the King of Armantia.”

“I see,” Electra dismissed the man and looked to me, her mild dove eyes vaguely troubled.  “Oh, dear.  A prince.”

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 711: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – The Red Priest’s Vigil

Show Notes

This episode was previously unrated by PodCastle staff.

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 our tech barbarian, Graeme Dunlop. “The Red Priest’s Vigil” originally aired as PodCastle 256.

The Red Priest’s Vigil

by Dirk Flinthart

Your Grace:
I believe you are correct. Tomaso Dellaforte is the most dangerous man I have ever met.
I followed your instructions to the letter. Your information as to the whereabouts of the condottiere de Mortibus was accurate. It was with very little difficulty that I purchased the inn, and as a matter of goodwill, I was careful to retain all of the long-term tenants. De Mortibus lived in a room on the upper floor, and made a poor living as a teacher of weapons. I had expected more from the man who led the sack of Mallorze.
I allowed the passage of a month, in order to allay suspicion, before I began to administer the draft. Once again, I congratulate you on the accuracy of your information. Administered in wine, in precisely the proportions ordered, the poison produced in the man every symptom of a most terrible, wasting illness.

Though he had little money, to my alarm de Mortibus was afforded a chirurge by a patron: an old friend, I believe. I did not manage to ascertain who it may have been. In any case the chirurge professed himself puzzled, and bled the man profusely, to no avail. Indeed, I suspect his ministrations were responsible for a sharp decline in de Mortibus’ condition, and I was forced to reduce the proportion of the draft in the wine for a time. De Mortibus continued to fail.

Perhaps two months after I began this work upon him, de Mortibus confronted me in the kitchens. By this time he was much weakened, and could get about only with great effort. He had not been able to pursue his livelihood for some time, and had come to depend upon my charity, as I had planned. Therefore, something of trust and familiarity had grown between us, and I was not surprised when he sought me out alone.

“Take this, good Marotti,” he said to me, and pressed a sealed packet into my hand. “I beg you see it delivered to the hand of Konrad Heisenck, whose Free Company you will find in the city square this month. There is no other I may entrust with it, and I swear to you that it means more than my very life.” He forced the packet upon me, and even produced a gold coin which I made much play of refusing. I promised his letter would be delivered, and sent him to his bed with a stoup of hot wine.

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 710: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – A Hollow Play

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 Devin Martin. “A Hollow Play” originally aired as PodCastle 277.

A Hollow Play

by Amal El-Mohtar

Dear Paige,

So, I’m here, but Anna’s not, and I awesomely left Memoirs of a Space Woman at home in spite of knowing I’d have two hours to kill, so I figure I’ll just keep writing to you.

Cabaret! I have no idea what to expect. Have you ever been to a cabaret show? I wasn’t sure how to dress for it either — when I asked Anna she just laughed and told me to use my imagination — so I’m wearing the red top you gave me, the button-down one with the sleeves that flare out and curl from the elbows. I can’t believe I still have it — it’s been, what, ten years, three moves? It’s not fitting so great now — since I started taking derby more seriously (I’m EMILY THE SLAYER now! Strong like Buffy!) my arms have gotten huge, and you should see the butt on me — but it’s still pretty and I love it, and it still matches my favourite earrings best.

I should probably tell you more about Anna, since obviously there’s more to her than being trans and my co-worker. She’s really great, and really cute — she just cut her hair short last week and dyed it bright orange-red, so she looks kind of like Leeloo from The Fifth Element. She’s vegan (sometimes I swear she likes the fact that I’m not, because it gives her an excuse to play “Meat is Murder” on loop in the cafe for the duration of my lunch break, which no one notices, because it sounds like every other Smiths song except the good ones, which she refuses to accept no matter how many times I explain it), an amazing cosplayer, and getting into burlesque. She hasn’t performed in public yet, just for friends in her living room, but she’s been developing this number that involves a chef’s hat, mixed greens, and oversized serving implements.

We’re not dating or anything. I’ve only known her for about a month, though it feels like way longer — and I refuse to entertain a crush, because she’s been in a closed poly triad for a while and they’re kind of going through a rough patch that she hasn’t told me much about. So I’ll tell you more about this cabaret thing instead.

PodCastle logo

PodCastle 709: TALES FROM THE VAULTS – America Thief

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 Hamilton Perez. “America Thief” originally aired as PodCastle 319.

America Thief

by Alter S. Reiss

I looked around the table. Most of the people there weren’t paying much attention. Lansky looked a little embarrassed, and Siegel shook his head. “You want me to find out if Chaim Goldberg can turn lead into gold, or if he’s running some sort of scam,” I said.

“Of course he’s running a scam,” said Lansky. “I want to know how he’s doing it.”

“My friend Meyer is unfortunately narrow-minded,” said Rothstein. “I am willing to entertain the possibility that he’s getting his gold through means that are not generally considered possible. Which is why I have entrusted this task to your care.”

“So you want me to find out where Goldbug is getting his gold from,” I said. “And?”

“No and,” said Rothstein. “Just that. It’s a simple job, and I’ll give you a thousand dollars for doing it.”

“A thousand dollars is a lot of money, Benny,” said Legs, putting his oar in. “Live things up a little, show your girl a good time.”