Archive for Rated R

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PC042: De La Tierra

Show Notes

Rated R. An LA thriller. With elves.


De La Tierra

by Emma Bull

She was out on the patio by the pool, stretched in a lounge chair. From there a person could see a corner of the Marmont bungalow where Belushi had overdosed. He was pretty sure she knew that; they liked things like celebrity death spots.

Some of them almost anyone could recognize–if almost anyone knew to look for them. They’re always perfect, of their kind. That’s why so many of them like L.A., where everybody gets extra credit for looking perfect. Try going unnoticed in Ames, Iowa, looking like that.

She had wavy golden hair to her shoulders, and each strand sparkled when the breeze shifted it. She wore a blue silk halter top, and little white shorts that showed how long and tan her legs were. She could’ve been one of those teen-star actresses pretending to be a Forties pin-up, except that she was too convincing. She sipped at a mojito without getting any lipstick on the glass.

For fun, he jabbed his molar with his tongue to see if Biblio could tell him anything about her–name, age, rank. Nada, y nada mas. None of them were ever in the database. Didn’t hurt to try, though.

“Your disposal record is remarkable,” she said, with no preface.

“I do my job.”

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PodCastle 40: Hell Is the Absence of God (Giant Episode)

Show Notes

Rated R. Contemplates existential issues.


Hell Is the Absence of God

by Ted Chiang

It was an unexceptional visitation, smaller in magnitude than most but no different in kind, bringing blessings to some and disaster to others. In this instance the angel was Nathanael, making an appearance in a downtown shopping district. Four miracle cures were effected: the elimination of carcinomas in two individuals, the regeneration of the spinal cord in a paraplegic, and the restoration of sight to a recently blinded person. There were also two miracles that were not cures: a delivery van, whose driver had fainted at the sight of the angel, was halted before it could overrun a busy sidewalk; another man was caught in a shaft of Heaven’s light when the angel departed, erasing his eyes but ensuring his devotion.

Neil’s wife Sarah Fisk had been one of the eight casualties. She was hit by flying glass when the angel’s billowing curtain of flame shattered the storefront window of the café in which she was eating. She bled to death within minutes, and the other customers in the café — none of whom suffered even superficial injuries — could do nothing but listen to her cries of pain and fear, and eventually witness her soul’s ascension toward Heaven.

Nathanael hadn’t delivered any specific message; the angel’s parting words, which had boomed out across the entire visitation site, were the typical Behold the power of the Lord. Of the eight casualties that day, three souls were accepted into Heaven and five were not, a closer ratio than the average for deaths by all causes. Sixty-two people received medical treatment for injuries ranging from slight concussions to ruptured eardrums to burns requiring skin grafts. Total property damage was estimated at $8.1 million, all of it excluded by private insurance companies due to the cause. Scores of people became devout worshipers in the wake of the visitation, either out of gratitude or terror.

Alas, Neil Fisk was not one of them.

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PC034: Clad In Gossamer

Show Notes

Rated R. for nudity. Contains fashion, or lack thereof.


Clad In Gossamer

by Nancy Kress

“Tell me again,” I said.

The shorter, older one said smoothly, “Garments in subtle colors like shaded sky, Your Highness. As finely spun and light to wear as spiderwebs. Yet warm, impervious to water, and impenetrable by stinging insects.”

I nodded eagerly, as if I believed this nonsense. “And the magic…”

“Ah, the magic. Tell him again, Sorrel.”

 

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PodCastle Miniature 19: Cask of Amontillado

Show Notes

Rated R. Happy Halloween.


Cask of Amontillado

by Edgar Allen Poe

I said to him –“My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking to-day. But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts.”

“How?” said he. “Amontillado, A pipe? Impossible! And in the middle of the carnival!”

“I have my doubts,” I replied; “and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain.”

“Amontillado!”

“I have my doubts.”

“Amontillado!”

“And I must satisfy them.”

“Amontillado!”

“As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchresi. If any one has a critical turn it is he. He will tell me –”

“Luchresi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry.”

“And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.

“Come, let us go.”

“Whither?”

“To your vaults.”

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PC031: Colin and Ishmael in the Dark

Show Notes

Rated R. Dark as an oubliette.

The fifth of our Halloween features, continuing through October 31.


Colin and Ishmael in the Dark

by William Shunn

In the total darkness, the incessant drip! drip! of limewater on stone was the only sound to be heard. Steady as the beating of a heart, ceaseless as the motion of the stars, that sound filled the darkness, fed the darkness, became the darkness. It stitched the seconds together loosely into minutes, the minutes into long ragged hours, and the hours into great tattered sheets that flapped like ghosts in an unseen wind, leaving behind only gray threads of time to mark their passage as they unraveled. In all of creation there was only dripping water, and beyond the reach of its echoes the world no longer existed.

This changed only twice a day, when metal ground harshly against metal and the bolt sprang back from the rusted lock with the sound of a crossbow quarrel being loosed. This particular
day began like every other–the resonant creak of the hinges, the crushing reverberation as the door slammed shut, the tread of steel-toed boots crossing the damp stone floor and then pausing. “Breakfast, Ishmael,” said a voice worn into a sing-song by the repetitiveness its daily routine.

“Just put it there on the settee, will you?” This dry voice spoke wryly and precisely.

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PodCastle Miniature 18: Scar Stories

Show Notes

Rated R. A touch of horror.

The fourth of our Halloween features, which will be continuing through October 31.


Scar Stories

by Vylar Kaftan

We’re mixing punch when he asks us about scars.

“Everyone has at least one,” our guest says. “They’re always good stories, too.”

 

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PC030: Grand Guignol


Grand Guignol

by Andy Duncan

…today he brought me a sack of eyeballs of which, before God, not one was usable. Stress? Love? Syphillis? Who can say? I am saddened beyond speculation.

The instant I hefted the sack, I knew. A director senses these things. Yet to appease Charles, I dutifully hefted each eyeball, rolled it in my fingers, inspected it, flung it to the floor. Not one bounced — not one! Smack, smack, smack, like so many eggs. They surrounded my desk, gazing up at my shame.

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PC026: Black Ribbon

Show Notes

Rated R. Contains poison and prostitutes. May not be suitable for the young or immature.

Intro Links:

Chasing the Bard by Phillipa Ballentine
Heather Welliver’s band The Shillas

Please visit the thread on this story in our forums.


Black Ribbon

by Dawn Albright

The woman measured three drops of poison into the milk and then poured the milk into the first baby’s bottle. She picked up the first baby, the twin wearing the black ribbon.

“Hush, sweetheart, hush,” she said, as she fed the baby girl the poisoned milk. The baby made a face at first, like she wanted to spit the cloth nipple out, but then she tasted the milk and drank everything in the bowl.

The woman gave the baby one of the last kisses she would ever feel and then she picked up the sister, the baby wearing the red ribbon, and fed her pure milk. The nurse wore no gloves, but in a few weeks she couldn’t touch the black-ribboned baby without protection.

 

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PodCastle Miniature 010: The Desires of Houses

Show Notes

Rated R. Contains desire.


The Desires of Houses

by Haddayr Copley-Woods

The floor is sulking. She almost always wears shoes in the basement, and the cement lies all day in agony listening to the first floor’s boards sighing loudly in ecstasy at the touch of her bare heels.

All it can hope for in its slow, cold way is that the woman will scoop the cat boxes, squatting on her heels, after she starts a load of laundry. Today oh joy oh joy she does. The floor is practically writhing at the smell of her (she always showers after the scooping, so her scent is thick)—the tangy rich odor. The cement feels (or maybe it’s just wishful thinking) just a bit of her damp warmth.

But then she is sweeping the floor, oblivious as always to the swooning house around her, ruining the floor’s pleasure with the horrible scented litter she sweeps up and tosses back in the box.

She yanks open the dryer, who feels violated and then guilty for enjoying it, dumps the hot, panting shirts and shorts into a basket, and heads back upstairs, carefully turning off the lights to avoid the lecture about electricity the man will give her later if she doesn’t. Even minutes later, the cords are still shaking in the darkness.