Cats Cast

CatsCast 341: Bargain


Bargain

by Sarah Gailey

Malachai loved his work. He loved wandering among the trappings of enormous wealth and influence, seeing the baubles that humans excreted to express their status. He especially loved watching those wealthy, influential mortals tremble before the might of his inescapable superiority.

Malachai worked exclusively with those humans who had found themselves at the limit of how much power they could possess. They called him to bend the rules of time and space around their whims, so that they might be even more feared and loved by the other mortals. Their desires were predictable—money, knowledge, talent, authority. These were the kinds of people who hunted down ancient parchments with the Words of Invocation inscribed upon them. These were the kinds of people who did not concern their consciences with the compensation Malachai required for his services.

They appreciated a bit of theatrical flair.
(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 672: Rewind

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


Rewind

By Josh Rountree

MONDAY

The dust biker comes into the video store that afternoon looking for slasher flicks. He heads straight to the horror section, not bothering to remove his breathing apparatus, and pulls a couple of classics from the shelf. Friday the 13th Part III and the original Halloween.

“You like this kind of stuff?” I ask when he hands the tapes to me for checkout.

“Yeah, so?” His voice is a mechanical whine and the desert winds have rendered his gray body suit smooth and practically transparent. I can’t see his eyes through the scored surface of his goggles, but I can feel the edge in the way he’s staring at me.

“I like them too,” I say. “I’ve seen hundreds of them. Slasher flicks, I mean.”

“Yeah, so what’s the best one?”

I don’t even have to think about it. “You ever seen Sleepaway Camp?”

His neck makes a stretching, leathery sound as he shakes his head side to side. “No.”

I sprint to the back of the store, pull the sun faded VHS box from the shelf, and add it to his pile. “On the house. Just let me know what you think when you drop it off.”

“You aren’t charging me?”

“No, just a favor from one fan to another.”

He might be smiling but I can’t see through the grill of his mask. He looms there like Jason Voorhees, silent and unreadable. Dust rides the creases of his suit and he reeks of illegal petroleum. He’s s seven-foot shadow come to life, an abstract artist’s rendering of torn metal and melted rubber pooling along an endless broken highway. He exhales heavily and it sounds like the rattle of failing pistons.

“Do you have a bag?”

I bag up his tapes and he grunts his thanks on the way out the door. The front wall of the store is made of glass and I watch as he starts his bike and speeds away toward the shimmering red horizon.

I hope he likes the movie. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 671: TRIPLE FEATURE! A Mindreader’s Guide to Surviving Your First Year at the All-Girls Superhero Academy; Chameleon; The First Stop Is Always the Last

Show Notes

Rated PG.


A Mindreader’s Guide to Surviving Your First Year at the All-Girls Superhero Academy

by Jenn Reese

The day you arrive at the academy, you spend just three minutes outside the car before begging your mom to drive you back home. There are too many girls. They’re too loud. They’re laughing. Some of them are flying. Even if you weren’t a mindreader, you’d be overwhelmed.

Your mother, who took a day off work and has driven eleven hours straight to get you here, refuses. She is the worst mother ever.

A girl approaches, her eyes so sharp you expect her codename to be DAZZLE or CHARISMA or SINGULARITY. You can’t stop yourself from reading her mind: she calls herself Meg.

You refuse to shake Meg’s hand and demand that she leave you alone. You tell her your superpower and that nothing she thinks is safe from you. You tell her you don’t want or need friends.

You’re grateful she’s not a mindreader, too.

Meg shrugs and tells you she can blow things up with a thought. She offers to show you to your dorm. Bewildered, you hug your mother goodbye, grab your duffel, and follow Meg, whose hair is brown and whose eyes are lighter brown and whose codename should be TEMPEST or HURRICANE or AVALANCHE based on how she’s making you feel.

For the next three weeks, the days are a blur of headaches and other girls’ anxieties.

I’m not strong enough to stop a train.

I’m too slow to defuse the bomb.

My witty rejoinders are not actually witty.

That creepy mindreader is probably reading my mind.

(Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 670: An Empty Cup

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.


An Empty Cup

by J.T. Greathouse

1
Eshi the Boy

As for every child of the Islands, when Eshi was born a zephyr descended from the Upper Air to alight on his shoulder. Grandmother Sul burned precious driftwood, inhaled its cinnamon scent, and begged the zephyr to give her grandson the gifts of a healer. There were never enough healers on Eastwind Island, and healers were well regarded and well positioned in life. Eshi’s father, a less ambitious and more realistic man, burned driftwood of his own, but asked only that his son’s zephyr grant a talent for fishing or for hunting, or even for whipping the wind. Practical talents, but more common. Talents the community could use.

Eshi’s mother, too, burned driftwood. Her prayer was the simplest. She asked only for her son’s happiness, and that his zephyr would give him a talent to match his soul.

If not for that prayer, perhaps Eshi would have lived an easier life.

(Continue Reading…)