Archive for Rated PG

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PC013: Spell of the Sparrow

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains ghost cats, precocious girls, and amorous spouse-stealers.


Spell of the Sparrow

by Jim C. Hines

I was in the woods behind our cabin, trying yet again to dissuade my daughter from this wizarding business.

“I _like_ magic,” Mel protested. “And I’m good at it. Remember the spell I made up last week?”

“The spell that changed my daggers into caterpillars?” James and I were still pulling cocoons out of the laundry.

“No, the other one.”

I crossed my arms and did my best to look parental. “The one that sent my undergarments on a mad dash for freedom?”

She covered her mouth, trying to hide a gap-toothed grin. “I got it right the next time. Don’t your clothes smell nicer?”

“They do… those that aren’t hightailing it for the border.”

It was no use. After two years, I knew I couldn’t win, but I kept trying. James and I thought that if we could teach her another skill, something respectable…..

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PC010: Magic in a Certain Slant of Light

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains zeppelins. Of a sort.


Magic in a Certain Slant of Light

by Deborah Coates

“If you could wish for something magical, what would you wish for?” Jeff asks Nora as he enters the kitchen.

Jeff has been gone all day, helping a friend fix the plumbing in his basement. There’s no “Hello,” or “How was your day?” Just Jeff, in the doorway, asking about magic. “It can’t be about yourself,” he continues. “I mean, like making yourself immortal. Or about world peace. It has to be—”

“Talking dogs,” Nora says.

Jeff smiles in that way he has that seems to change his face. He’s wearing faded jeans and a sweatshirt that’s been washed so many times its cuffs are all unraveled; it’s a change from pin-striped suits and crisp white shirts. “You know, Dexter made a dog talk once and it didn’t work out like he figured it would. That dog was annoying.”

“Well, I don’t know how to tell you this”—Nora chops onions under running water, then transfers them to the frying pan on the stove—”but I don’t rely on Dexter’s Laboratory for my scientific knowledge.”

“Talking dogs are not scientific.”

“Yeah, magical.” Nora turns the heat up on the pan and looks through the cupboards for the spices that she needs. She swears that they’re never where she put them, no matter how often she returns them to their proper place. “That’s what we were talking about, right? Magic? You tell me, what would you wish for?”

“Zeppelins,” he says without hesitation.

“Uhm, zeppelins actually exist.”

He stands in the kitchen doorway, slouched against the frame, and she knows that he will leave her. There is something in the way he looks, a shadow in his eye, that wasn’t there yesterday or even this morning. And it almost kills her, like being stabbed right through the heart, because he’s the only one she ever really loved.

“Zeppelins,” he says, crossing to her and putting his arms around her waist from behind as she turns back to the stove, “are a collective figment of the imagination.”

“Zeppelins are totally possible. Plus, you can ride in one.”

He kisses the back of her neck and it feels like the soft brush of sun-warmed honey. “Bring me a zeppelin,” he says. His words murmur against her skin as he talks and she can feel his smile through the small hairs along the nape of her neck. “Then I’ll believe you.”

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PC007: Fear of Rain

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains drops, trickles, drizzles, torrents, downpour, and flooding.

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Fear of Rain

by Robert T. Jeschonek

“Won’t be long now,” he says, his voice a gravelly tenor. “Not long till my retirement party.”

If you didn’t know better, to look at him, you’d think he was just another little old man hobbling around downtown Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Just another Central Park bench sitting, Social Security check cashing, prescription picking up, stumbling on the curbs, taking too long to cross Main Street old timer. You’d never know the kind of power that boils inside him.

Maybe you’d see him bang his fork on the plate a second time, and you’d hear the thunder, louder than before, but you wouldn’t connect the two. You wouldn’t realize that he’d made it happen. You wouldn’t know what he was about to do next.

But I know. I know all about what’s coming.

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PC006: Hotel Astarte

Show Notes

Read by Paul Tevis of (Have Games, Will Travel).


Hotel Astarte

by M.K. Hobson

There is a loud knock on the door of the farmhouse.

The Queen of the Midwest glances at her husband; strangers at night may bode ill, foreshadowing assassination or traveling salesmen.

“Who could it be?”

The King lifts his rifle from above the fireplace; the look on his face indicates that the visit is expected, but is no more desired for being so.

The Queen tucks away her yarnwork and goes to sit close to her son. Her son does not stir, but continues to stare out the window.

“A dark man,” he murmurs to his mother, without looking at her. “A dark man from the east. Walking through the corn. He has been summoned.”

The Queen’s breath seizes. She cannot swallow. Her hands become ice. The palace shudders with her anxious dread; muffin tins and cream separators and sheaf binding machines rattle.

But when the King opens the door, there is no one there, only the miles and miles of fields all around.

“Come in,” the King speaks to the darkness, gruffly. “Come in, damn it. I have been waiting for you.”

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PodCastle Miniature 003: Pahwahke

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains spirits, violins, dusty bones, and an old man’s regret.


Pahwahke

by Gord Sellar

The smoke in my longhouse swirled thick, thicker still around their strange faces. They sat all around me on brightly-colored mats and frowned, wrinkled their big noses as they tried to speak our language. I offered them bone spoons and cedar plates loaded with salmon and seal oil and nuts and blackberries.

“We’ve brought many gifts,” they said, our words heavy like stones on their tongues. They opened the bags, and set down handfuls of colorful round beads, hard axes, pouches bursting with long-traveled pemmican, braided sweetgrass, and tobacco. They set these things down before me, and then one of them—their chief—stared across the fire at my eldest daughter.

They gave me so much that I couldn’t refuse their unsaid request. Pahwakhe wept and shivered when I offered her to them. Her sisters and mother beat their breastbones and cried, but what could I do? They could have stolen her away, or stolen all of them, if they wanted. I had no choice. So we married her to their young chief. Our women sang mourning songs as young men danced, feathers swirling in firelight as drums pounded in darkness.

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PC005: The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale

Show Notes

Also by the Author: The Ant King: and Other Stories (Paperback)


The Ant King: A California Fairy Tale

by Benjamin Rosenbaum

Sheila split open and the air was filled with gumballs. Yellow gumballs. This was awful for Stan, just awful. He had loved Sheila for a long time, fought for her heart, believed in their love until finally she had come around. They were about to kiss for the first time and then this: yellow gumballs.

Stan went to a group to try to accept that Sheila was gone. It was a group for people whose unrequited love had ended in some kind of surrealist moment. There is a group for everything in California.

 

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PC004: Goosegirl


Goosegirl

by Margaret Ronald

“You came with the Princess Alia, didn’t you?” says a tall man with an understeward’s chain. “They must have low standards up north if you’re the sort of thing she brings along.”

I shake my head; the world slides in and out of focus. “I didn’t come here for that. I’m not — help.”

He raises his eyebrows. “Oh, so you’re not with the help? You must be one of the nobility, then?” He tweaks my skirts, and a ragged hem tears. “So what did you come here for, if you’re not with the princess?”

The words sound wrong even as I think them, but I say them nonetheless. “To be married.”

He bursts out laughing. “Poor girl,” a woman at the back of the servants’ hall says. “She’s simple. Can’t tell between herself and the princess.”

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PC003: Run of the Fiery Horse

Show Notes

The Angry Black Woman – A blog on Politics, Race, Gender, Sexuality, Anger


Run of the Fiery Horse

by Hilary Moon Murphy

His tongue flickered out, sniffing the river of dreams that swirled around him. He had studied humans long enough to be a connoisseur of their flavors: those born in the year of the Wooden Ox tasted faintly of wheat and nuts, Metal Pigs had the aroma of tart berries, and Water Dragons reminded him of the salty wines of Nippon. But the taste he sought remained elusive.

Then he found it: hot, almost peppery, with an underlying sweetness. Tsi Sha closed his eyes and hissed with pleasure. A female of the Fiery Horse, the rarest of flavors. Few of the girl children born in that year had lived past their first night. Tsi Sha had found them abandoned on country hillsides and city rubbish heaps as families rid themselves of their inauspicious newborn daughters.

They had tasted delicious.

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PodCastle 2: For Fear of Dragons

Show Notes

Contains enormous webbed wings, sharp fangs, and a hide of glistening scales.


For Fear of Dragons

By Carrie Vaughn

The year came when soldiers rode to Jeanette’s family’s holding. Their captain announced that from the sea to the mountains, Jeanette was the only woman over the age of ten known to be a virgin. Only one possible name could be drawn in the lottery.

Jeanette’s mother sobbed, and the soldiers had to tie her father to keep him from doing violence. They held her three brothers off with crossbows. Her family had urged her time and again to marry someone, anyone, a young whelp, an old widower on his deathbed. They had even begged her to find a likely boy to love her for a night and give her a child. But Jeanette had refused, because she knew that this day would come, that one day she would be chosen, and she knew her destiny. Before the soldiers led her away, Jeanette held her mother’s face in her hands. “It’s all right. I have a plan, I know what to do.”

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PodCastle 1: Come Lady Death


Come Lady Death

by Peter S. Beagle

But in time her own parties began to bore her, and though she invited the most famous people in the land and hired the greatest jugglers and acrobats and dancers and magicians to entertain them, still she found her parties duller and duller. Listening to court gossip, which she had always loved, made her yawn. The most marvelous music, the most exciting feats of magic put her to sleep. Watching a beautiful young couple dance by her made her feel sad, and she hated to feel sad.

And so, one summer afternoon she called her closest friends around her and said to them, “More and more I find that my parties entertain everyone but me. The secret of my long life is that nothing has ever been dull for me. For all my life, I have been interested in everything I saw and been anxious to see more. But I cannot stand to be bored, and I will not go to parties at which I expect to be bored, especially if they are my own. Therefore, to my next ball I shall invite the one guest I am sure no one, not even myself, could possibly find boring. My friends, the guest of honor at my next party shall be Death himself!”