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PodCastle 647: The South China Sea

Show Notes

Rated R.


The South China Sea

By Z.M. Quỳnh

They are in the fragmentation of raindrops during monsoon season and the quivering of evaporating dew in the dawn of sea salt mornings. I am intimately familiar with them for I have always been surrounded by spirits. Our village was built around a cemetery abandoned during the war. That was where we migrated to when our hamlet was massacred and over a thousand lives lost. Ghosts were seen as regularly as any villager, wandering through the tombstones in our gardens, passing the evening dinner table, and swirling in the incense in our temples. I often caught a glimpse of them in the air as if in shards of broken glass. With them always lingered a scent.

It was this same scent that permeated the air when we drifted into the crests of the South China Sea. It was intermingled with the smell of misery and remorse and the taste of sweetened rust, as if you plunged an abandoned nail into sugar cane and then sucked on it for days on end. I knew then that we had ventured into that ghostly stretch of sea in which the souls of people still lingered aimlessly, struggling against the powerful waves, gagging at the descent of salt water into their lungs, playing out their deaths over and over again as their hope for life somehow continued long after their demise.

As soon as her swells began to coil around the boat, I felt the mood on board shift. Elders grouped together above us on the deck to set up a small altar. Damp joss sticks were lit and inserted into nicks in the wood and muffled invocations whispered.

“Let us pass in peace dear sister, dear brother, dear mother, father.”

From the darkness of the cabin below, I felt them pass through me, the victims of the sea, friends and family and strangers. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 646: TALES FROM THE VAULTS — The Medicine Woman of Talking Rock

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 rerun and discuss. This week’s episode was chosen by associate editor Emmalia Harrington. “The Medicine Woman of Talking Rock” originally aired as PodCastle 255.


The Medicine Woman of Talking Rock

by Pamela Rentz

Violet Spinks checked her to-do list for the ceremony: canoe, plants, medicine cap, trails. List-making might not be traditional, but no one would blame her for needing a brain prompt. She set the list in her medicine book and picked up the TV remote. She clicked through the channels and stopped when she spotted a young man with a torso like polished bronze. He shook out a bundle of black rubber cables and attached them to a shiny disk. The camera zoomed in on his brawny arms and legs as they worked the cables with the disk spinning in the middle. He looked like he wrestled a spider. A notice on the screen said three easy payments of $14.99 plus tax and shipping.


Find the rest of this story in the Red Tape anthology. You can find it here.

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PodCastle 645: God Damn, How Real Is This?

Show Notes

Thanks to Nightwood Editions for allowing us to reprint the text of this story and to ECW Press for allowing us to run an excerpt from the collection’s audiobook; this audiobook was produced as a part of ECW Press’s Bespeak Audio Imprint. You can purchase the print version of this book here and the audiobook here.


God Damn, How Real Is This?

By Doretta Lau

My future self sends me a text message at least once a day.

The latest: Hey, tricho-slut, get your man hands out of our hair. I have a Lake Michigan–shaped bald spot forming on the back of my head. stop plucking. it’s starting to look like a penis.

Last I checked there were no Great Lakes of any sort blooming on my scalp, no Superiors or Hurons or Eries flooding my hair. Of late, these missives from the future have become increasingly more abusive. I wonder, when will I flip my bitch switch and hop on this negative self-talk train? In a week? In a year? I’d like to believe this use of misogynistic language is out of character and that maybe I’m being trolled by a bored identity thief. I file the thought as something for my present self to discuss with my now therapist.

Another message flashes on my phone: That mole on your left arm that you’ve been ignoring? Get thee to a doctor. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 644: Sea-Crowned

Show Notes

Rated R.


Sea-Crowned

By H. Pueyo

Water — there’s water everywhere, water covering my feet, my knees, my hips. Water, foam, salt, sand in my mouth, waves crashing against this iron cage, pulling both it and me towards the depths. Once, I looked at the sea for comfort, to shelter my loneliness from your anger, but you took that away from me, like you took everything else.

We have the same blood, you and I, and yet . . . And yet I am the only one here, aren’t I?


(Continue Reading…)