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PC028: The Tanuki-Kettle

Show Notes

Rated G. Contains objects and animals that refuse to remain in their platonic categories.


The Tanuki-Kettle

by Eugie Foster

As she opened the door, Hisa was surprised to see an iron kettle sitting on her step. It had a large, round belly and four stumpy legs. The spout was wide and curved like a fox’s mouth with two round, black eyes above it. And most curious, a pair of pointed triangles jutted from the top, exactly like a pair of ears.

“What an unusual teakettle.” Hisa looked, but there was no one about.

She set aside her broken pot and brought the new, iron one inside. She poured sweet, cool water into it. Where her old kettle took eight dippers of water, this new one required a full twelve to fill.

Hisa stoked the fire high and lifted the kettle to the hook.

“Mistress, I thank you for the drink, but please don’t put me on the fire.”

Hisa spun around, sloshing water on the floor. “Who said that?”

“It was I, mistress. The teakettle.”

Hisa stared at the iron pot in her hands. “Teakettles do not talk.”

“I’m only pretending to be a teakettle.”

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PodCastle Miniature 014: The Fable of the Octopus

Show Notes

Rated G. Contains philosophical meanderings.


The Fable of the Octopus

by Peter S. Beagle

Once, deep down under the sea, down with the starfish and the sting rays and the conger eels, there lived an octopus who wanted to see God.

Octopi are among the most intelligent creatures in the sea, and shyly thoughtful as well, and this particular octopus spent a great deal of time in profound pondering and wondering. Often, curled on the deck of the sunken ship where he laired, he would allow perfectly edible prey to swim or scuttle by, while he silently questioned the here and the now, the if and the then, and — most especially — the may and the mightwhy.  Even among his family and friends, such rumination was considered somewhat excessive, but it was his way, and it suited him. He planned eventually to write a book of some sort, employing his own ink for the purpose.  It was to be called Concerns of a Cephalopod, or possibly Mollusc Meditations.

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PC027: Red Riding-Hood’s Child


Red Riding-Hood’s Child

by N.K. Jemisin

Once upon a time in a tiny woodland village there lived an orphan boy. As his mother had been less than proper in her ways — she died unwed, known well to several men — the villagers were not kindly-disposed toward the tiny burden she left behind. They were not heartless, however. They reared young Anrin with as much tenderness as a child of low breeding could expect, and they taught him the value of honest labor so that he might repay their kindness before his mother’s ways took root.

By the cusp of manhood — that age when worthier lads began to consider a trade and marriage — Anrin had become a youth of fortitude and peculiar innocence. The villagers kept him at arms’ length from their homes and their hearts, so he chose instead to dwell within an eccentric world of his own making. The horses and pigs snorted greetings when he came to feed them, and he offered solemn, courtly bows in response. When the villagers sent him unarmed into the forest to fetch wood, he went eagerly. Alone amid the dappled shadows he felt less lonely than usual, and the trees’ whispers were never cruel.

Indeed, Anrin’s fascination with the forest was a source of great anxiety to the old woodcutter’s widow who boarded him at nights. She warned him of the dangers: poison mushrooms and hidden pitfalls and choking, stinging ivies. And wolves, of course; always the wolves. “Stay on the path, and stay close to the village,” she cautioned. “The smell of men keeps predators away… most of the time.”

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PodCastle Miniature 13: The Fable of the Ostrich

Show Notes

Rated G. Hakuna matata.  (Except for ostriches.)


The Fable of the Ostrich

by Peter S. Beagle

Once upon a time, in a remote corner of Africa, there was a young ostrich who refused to put his head in the sand at the slightest sign of danger.  He strolled around unafraid, even when lions were near, cheerfully mocking his parents, his relations, and all his friends, every one of whom believed absolutely that their only safety lay in blind immobility.  “It makes you invisible, foolish boy!” his father was forever shouting at him in vain.  “You can’t see the lion — the lion can’t see you!  What part of Q.E.D. don’t you understand?”

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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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PC025: Anywhere There’s a Game

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains locker room talk (and bouncing balls).


Anywhere There’s a Game

by Greg Van Eekhout

I got a call from Sports Illustrated yesterday. They’re doing one of those sidebar pieces where they ask guys to name their starting five, the best basketball players they ever shared a court with. “You don’t want that,” I told the kid on the phone. “I was in the NBA for seventeen years. I could tell you about guys like Lon McGee, who wore one pair of sneakers his entire career, held together with tape and glue and sheer will-power. Or Pig-Iron Von Ziegler, who smelled like machine oil and whose joints screeched like a stepped-on cat by the end of his career. The best? Who cares about the best? Why settle for the best when I can give you the most remarkable?”

The kid thanked me politely, but he told me that wasn’t what he needed for his piece. He’d talk to his editor, though, and mention my idea to him. He’d get back to me.

Well, I’m not going to live forever, and I can’t wait for his editor. I’ve got tales to tell, and I’ve got to tell them while I’m still kicking. So here it is, my starting five. Not the most talented guys I’ve ever played with, but instead, the dirt workers and edge cases and oddballs and sideshow escapees. These are the guys that I’ll never forget. These are the characters.

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PodCastle Miniature 011: The Fable of the Moth

Show Notes

Rated G. Contains philosophical meanderings.


The Fable of the Moth

by Peter S. Beagle

Once there was a young moth who did not believe that the proper end for all mothkind was a zish and a frizzle. Whenever he saw a friend or a cousin or a total stranger rushing to a rendezvous with a menorah or a Coleman stove, he could feel a bit of his heart blacken and crumble. One evening, he called all the moths of the world together and preached to them. “Consider the sweetness of the world,” he cried passionately. “Consider the moon, consider wet grass, consider company. Consider glove linings, camel’s hair coats, fur stoles, feather boas, consider the heartbreaking, lost-innocence flavor of cashmere. Life is good, and love is all that matters. Why will we seek death, why do we truly hunger for nothing but the hateful hug of the candle, the bitter kiss of the filament? Accidents of the universe we may be, but we are beautiful accidents and we must not live as though we were ugly. The flame is a cheat, and love is the only.”

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PC024: It Takes a Town

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains impossible science and a skyward thrust.


It Takes a Town

by Stephen V. Ramey

“They ain’t really going through with this,” Tom said. “Are they?” The pig smell intensified, driving off more pleasant fumes of paint and honest sweat. “First the casino. Then the amusement park. Now a rocket?” He chuckled. “Won’t you crazy townies never learn?”

“This is different. This will really put Thornhope on the map.” Anthony turned back to his work. “The whole town is pitching in.” He finished outlining the final T and selected a sash brush from his tool belt. The brush’s upper portion was crusted but the tips were flexible enough. He dipped it into black paint.

“What about materials?”

“Folks are donating–”

“And what about the rocket? Where you gonna get that?”

Anthony licked his lips, trying not to lose concentration. “There’s talk about that old silo on your property–”

“My silo!” Tom laughed hard and slapped his thigh. “What in hellfire makes you think a bunch of morons and a queerball crossdresser can launch a silo to Mars?”

Anthony rolled his eyes. This was exactly the attitude he hoped to escape. “Who’s to say we can’t?”

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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.

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PodCastle 23: Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge (Giant Episode)

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains adventuring.

Note: This PodCastle Giant is longer than a normal episode. PodCastle Giants will air once every three months. Other episodes will remain our customary length.

For those listeners looking for a good point to pause the episode, Steve Anderson recommends minute 48 as a good time for an intermission.


Moon Viewing at Shijo Bridge

by Richard Parks

The full moon cast the man’s shadow across the thin screen that was my doorway. It wasn’t a mistake; he wanted me to know he was there. I pulled the screen aside, but I was pretty sure I knew who would be waiting.

He kneeled on the veranda, the hilt of his sword clearly visible. “Lord Yamada? My name is Kanemore.”

“Lord” was technically correct but a little jarring to hear applied to me again. Especially coming from a man who was the son of an emperor. I finally realized who he was. “Prince Kanemore. You were named after the poet, Taira no Kanemore, weren’t you?” I asked.

He smiled then, or perhaps it was a trick of the moonlight. “My mother thought that having a famous poet for a namesake might gentle my nature. In that I fear she was mistaken. So, you remember me.”

“I do. Even when you were not at Court, your sister Princess Teiko always spoke highly of you.”

He smiled faintly. “And so back to the matter at hand: Lord Yamada, I am charged to bring you safely to the Imperial compound.”