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PodCastle 623: Caring For Dragons and Growing a Flower

Show Notes

Rated PG-13, for found footage and lost loves.

Author’s dedication

I dedicate this story to my grandfather and father: one who I’ve never met and one I’ve known since I was born, yet both are men in my family who have my eternal respect and admiration.

Caring for Dragons and Growing a Flower

By Allison Thai

31 October, 1974

Dear Thi,

Sleep easy tonight, darling. I’m well and alive at the barracks the Party had seized in Sóc Trăng. Because I had sided with the enemy, I expected to be shot, or be assigned to clear the mines. Instead, the commander told me that medical training is like imperial jade: a precious resource and hard to come by. It would be wasted, with a bullet to my head. So I renounced the treacherous ways of the enemy, and I was given the honor of caring for the dragons of the People’s Army. They’ll be the key to winning the war and driving out the American invaders. Every day we inch closer to victory and uniting our country. Every day I thank the Party for my spared life. I will henceforth contribute my efforts to the glory and prosperity of the Party.

How are things back home in Hà Nội? Have you been taking care of the seed I gave you on our wedding day?

Sincerely, Cương (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 622: Spoken For

Show Notes

Rated PG-13.

Spoken For

by Evan Kennedy

Twenty-five years after the magic came back, Auden’s wife got turned to stone.

It was the dog’s fault. A cockatrice had been wandering Harlan County for the past few weeks, ever since some damn fool two towns over let a cock’s egg hatch instead of chucking it backwards over the roof. Auden and Ellaree had dealt with a ’trice before, though, and they knew all the new-time tricks. Usually when monsters were about, they’d lock up the goats and chickens, and then stay inside with the curtains pulled ’til the beast passed them by. But this time they couldn’t find the dog, and Ellaree went back out to look for it. Auden tried to stop her, observed she didn’t have a lick of sense, risking her life for some mutt. But she grinned, told him she loved that mutt, and he didn’t know a thing about love, then she went out anyway.

She always was hammer-headed, that woman. It was what he loved about her. (Continue Reading…)

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PodCastle 621: A Salt and Sterling Tongue

Show Notes

Rated R.

A Salt and Sterling Tongue

By Emma Osborne

I found my dying boy curled up in a pile of straw wet with his blood. Seamus rolled over as I entered the barn, and I saw then that he’d chewed his fingers down to the first knuckle.

I gasped.

“I can taste my King in my wet,” he said, rocking forward, naming his lost Merling lord. Seamus could barely keep himself up on what was left of his hands and his knees. I crouched and moved closer and he fell forward onto forearms thin as sticks.

Seamus’ teeth shone through the gore that coated him from nose to navel, and he’d bitten off a few of the scales that dotted the skin of his upper arms. One was stuck to his chin with blood.

“He’s stopped singing, but I can hear him in the waves and in my blood, my lord, my king.”

My youngest boy was the one of the unlucky few who’d heard the music of the Merling King while out collecting cockles, who came home the next morning shivering and soaked and vomiting up seawater, the salt crystalising in his scant beard, newborn silver scales peeping out of his skin. (Continue Reading…)

Cats Cast

CatsCast 289: The Thing in the Basement

The Thing in the Basement

by Gerri Leen

You can hear it, in the basement, behind the metal boxes that your human puts her outer-coverings in just when they start to smell good—when the boxes are done, she brings out her things stinking of flowers or fruit. She’s lucky you know the sound of her voice, because her scent is all over the place.

You chirp to get her attention. A cat would understand the sound. “Alert! Something to hunt!”

But no. Your human is frightfully stupid. She goes on loading the boxes and turns them on. You hear the sound of water, but you can’t see it. You’d splash in it if you could. Your kind has played in water since cats first walked the earth. You’re the original longhaired breed. Your lineage was explained to you by your mother, who heard it from her mother, who heard it from hers.

“She’s a Turkish Angora,” you’ve heard your human say when she’s complimented on your silky white fur or your bright green eyes. As if she had anything to do with them? She thanks your admirers, nonetheless.

But the water perplexes you. You’ve whiled away more than a few moments down here trying to find it, so tantalizing, but right now it’s annoying you because it’s masking the sound of whatever’s down here.

You’re a mighty hunter. That’s what your human tells you, as if you need confirmation that you’re skilled at catching vermin. Doesn’t she realize this is why you stay with her? Why any of your kind do? The first cat to move in with humans was a visionary who could recognize an all-you-can-eat buffet in the granaries. A bunch of cats followed. And the rest is history.

(Continue Reading…)