300 episodes

PodCastle is the world’s first audio fantasy magazine. Weekly, we broadcast the best in fantasy short stories, running the gammut from heart-pounding sword and sorcery, to strange surrealist tales, to gritty urban fantasy, to the psychological depth of magical realism. Our podcast features authors including N.K. Jemisin, Peter S. Beagle, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Jim C. Hines, and Cat Rambo, among others.



Terry Pratchett once wrote, “Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.” Tune in to PodCastle each Tuesday for our weekly tale, and spend the length of a morning commute giving your imagination a work out.

PodCastle Escape Artists, Inc

    • Fiction
    • 4.6 • 452 Ratings

PodCastle is the world’s first audio fantasy magazine. Weekly, we broadcast the best in fantasy short stories, running the gammut from heart-pounding sword and sorcery, to strange surrealist tales, to gritty urban fantasy, to the psychological depth of magical realism. Our podcast features authors including N.K. Jemisin, Peter S. Beagle, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Jim C. Hines, and Cat Rambo, among others.



Terry Pratchett once wrote, “Fantasy is an exercise bicycle for the mind. It might not take you anywhere, but it tones up the muscles that can.” Tune in to PodCastle each Tuesday for our weekly tale, and spend the length of a morning commute giving your imagination a work out.

    PodCastle 678: Once and Future

    PodCastle 678: Once and Future

    * Author : Dan Micklethwaite

    * Narrator : Matt Dovey

    * Host : Setsu Uzume

    * Audio Producer : Peter Behravesh

    *

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    Previously published by NewMyths.





    Rated PG-13.

    Once and Future

    Dan Micklethwaite

     

    Early mornings, before the tourists show up, Gordon Barrow likes to lean against the hotel roof and watch the trains. There are two of them, each carriage as big as his size seven shoes, and they circle the village at a leisurely pace, with a gap of about nine or ten feet in between them. Today, nearing winter, steam wreathes the whole track, and the engines race onwards through each other’s ghost.

    He takes out his hip-flask — with ‘Teesside’ engraved on it — and has a quick swig of the whisky it carries, telling himself it’s to keep out the chill.

    He thinks of his father; looks at the church.

    It’s one of many reminders of his childhood around here, in the stone of this village. Actual sandstone, dressed by actual masons, set down by school kids from his time and after. He’d personally laid many of the blocks in the hotel — formerly the manor house — which is why he often stands beside it. He feels sure that it will not collapse with his weight.

    Some of the cars as well, they had been his. The older, tin-chassis ones. A Rolls Royce Silver Phantom that was the pride of his collection now rests by the door of the old village hall. A pair of Mini Coopers, one red and one blue, are parked half on the kerb a short way down the road. A rust-freckled E-type on a cul-de-sac driveway, with a figurine placed by the passenger door, to cover the void where it should have a wheel. An old cream and brown bus by the solitary stop; never driving its appointed route, but then never late either.

    Timing is important.

    Gordon keeps track of everything, due-dates for bills, for bank statements, electricity readings, in a series of pads on the desk by his bed.

    Routine is important.



    Every day, before the tourists arrive, he parades along each street in turn. He stops at each house and peers down at the gardens, their hedgerows and fences; savours the crystalline shimmer of dew. Bends to reach and rectify any resident or lawnmower that might have been felled by the wind overnight; brushes cobwebs from the bonsai that are set in each lawn. Little beeches and birches, a few Japanese maples. There’s even a laburnum, bare at the minute, but which in summer trails flowers like miniature corn.

    He checks nothing’s missing. Checks all the delicate windows for cracks; paying particular attention to those in the hotel, and the stained-glass arches that cap three of the four sides of the church. But this is more out of habit than because he suspects there’ll be anything wrong.

    The village proper has always been of the type that one might call idyllic. Traditional. Full of old and well-established families and businesses; not a chain-store or a supermarket anywhere in sight. Of course, it had not been without a small criminal element, though whatever minor misdemeanours have occurred there through the years, none have ever been copied out here. Not on his watch. And at least this version isn’t afflicted by the roadworks he hears, banging on in the distance. At least nothing gets nicked or besmirched with graffiti. Not really.

    People, even tourists, seem to respect the things they’re bigger than; albeit in a different way than they resp...

    • 36 min
    PodCastle 677: Our Roots Devour

    PodCastle 677: Our Roots Devour

    * Author : Lora Gray

    * Narrator : Alethea Kontis

    * Host : Setsu Uzume

    * Audio Producer : Peter Behravesh

    *

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    Previously published by Apparition Literary Magazine.





    Violence, including child abuse.





    Rated PG-13 for violence, including child abuse.

    Our Roots Devour

    by Lora Gray

    Momma always told us the Tree ain’t got a taste for our family’s blood. But it’s hard to keep my heart from hammering when I lay that blackbird, swaddled like a baby in one of Momma’s old blouses, against its roots. The Tree’s face is pinched and lurksome in the afternoon light. And those roots? They crawl out the river like spider legs, knots and whorls winking at me like we got secrets between us.

    Maybe we do.

    But I don’t rightly know how to share them, I don’t know how to Sing to that Tree. Hannah’s the one who got Momma’s voice, not me. 

    I try not to think about what that blackbird’ll look like all chewed up and wrung round the Tree’s branches like an old dish towel when I run back up the gully and through the woods. I think about my momma, even though she’s dead and gone under the earth. And I think about Hannah in the cellar where Aunt Marylou put her, tied up and gagged, all her magic silent.

    I run faster.

    I only stop when I reach the edge of the woods, my side stitching, my bare arms sweaty and bramble scratched. There, across the tangle of grass that used to be our tomato garden, is Aunt Marylou’s house, that shack with the old barn leaning against it, rotted planks slumped on busted gutters. The hayloft window gapes like it’s surprised to see me there, crouched in the chicory.

    One of these days that barn’s gonna fall right over and smash Aunt Marylou’s shack. Maybe Aunt Marylou’ll be there when it happens, sitting like she is now on her back porch in that rocking chair of hers. There’s a half-gone jar of hooch in her hand. It’s the strong stuff she trades Pickle Nelson for, and the turpentine stink pulls tears out the corners of my eyes when the wind shifts. She takes a drink. The hooch sloshes. The jar clinks.

    There’s an axe in Aunt Marylou’s lap, the handle long, the blade shining, and she touches it. She prays. “Show me what You want me to do,” she says over and over again. “Show me what You want me to do.”

    Closing her eyes, she lights her cigarette.



    I take my chance, gnats swarming all ‘round me, as I crawl into the tall grass, past her, across the lawn to that dark space between the shack and the barn where the cellar sets. 

    The paint on the cellar door is flakey. The hinges are rusty.

    The padlock is new.

    “Hannah?” I whisper, leaning down to try to see between the cracked planks. 

    It’s dark as tar down there, but I hear shuffling, bare feet on packed dirt and I imagine Hannah between all them cobwebs and last year’s canned tomatoes, her mouth stuffed with a dirty handkerchief, her hands tied up and clenched like she’s fixing to pound the whole world flat. She kicks a mason jar, and I wonder how many she broke since Aunt Marylou locked her down there last night.

    “I done it,” I say. “I killed one of them birds that’s always on the Nelson’s fence. You know, the black ones? I don’t think Aunt Marylou saw.”

    Hannah makes a frustrated sound. A scared sound. ‘Cause she’s been down there all day and time’s running out. I’m afraid to tell her about Aunt Marylou’s axe and how it looked fit for chopping ...

    • 31 min
    PodCastle 676: #BloodBossBabes

    PodCastle 676: #BloodBossBabes

    * Author : Rachel Kolar

    * Narrator : Jen R. Albert

    * Host : Setsu Uzume

    * Audio Producer : Peter Behravesh

    *

    Discuss on Forums







    PodCastle 676: #BloodBossBabes is a PodCastle original.





    Warnings for blood and violence





    Rated R for bloody sacrifices to thirsty gods.

    #BloodBossBabes

    By Rachel Kolar

     

    Hey Girl!

    From: Amy Shearer (serpentsisteramy@sotesh.com)

    To: Heather McBride (mcheather@ymail.com)

     

    Hey, girlfriend! Love looking at your beautiful family on Insta. And congrats on getting into grad school—that’s HUGE!

    Furthering your education while raising a family takes so much dedication, and that’s why I think you’d be AMAZING on my team. For the past six months, I’ve been offering blood libations to Sotesh, Mother of Serpents, and let me tell you, it has changed my life! I get to set my own schedule, bleeding the unbelievers when it’s convenient for me. I have the security of knowing that when Sotesh comes in Her glory, I’ll be spared the worst of Her wrath. And She gives Her faithful THE BEST gifts! Just last week, I hit Green Level and was blessed with the ability to shed my soft warm-blood skin. Check out these before and after pics—my acne is COMPLETELY gone! #CobraClear #WhiteheadsAreForWarmbloods

    I’m looking to pick up some acolytes, and you’d be a natural. Let me know if you’re interested! And give my love to Jason and the kids. 3

    XOXOXO,

    Amy



    Re: Re: Hey Girl!

    From: Amy Shearer (serpentsisteramy@sotesh.com)

    To: Heather McBride (mcheather@ymail.com)

     

    LOLOL! No no nooooooo, the Sisterhood of Sotesh is NOT a demonic murder cult. Murder is ILLEGAL and I would never be part of something like that. I don’t know where Jason gets those ideas! He must have heard about groups like the Order of the Bleeding Maw. They’re a demonic murder cult, and they make legitimate religions like the Sisterhood look bad. We’re just a badass network of women empowering women to empower the Devourer of All Flesh.

    Jason should be all for this, though, because joining the Sisterhood will help your whole family! I know how lonely the mom thing can be, and it’s been SUCH a support for me to have all these awesome blood boss babes on my side. You can’t take care of the fam if you can’t take care of yourself, right mama? Plus, your blood libations can earn all sorts of treats and blessings for the kiddos! My little Paisleigh just started tasting the air, and baking cookies with her has never been so fun.

    Let me know when you’re ready to make your first sacrifice!

    XOXOXO,

    Amy

     

    Re: Just a few questions

    From: Amy Shearer (serpentsisteramy@sotesh.com)

    To: Heather McBride (mcheather@ymail.com)

     

    Hey girl! You are SO SMART to ask all these questions—this is why I’ve always admired you. 3

    I had a lot of questions at first, too, but joining was SO worth it. I remember what my Sunday mornings used to look like—running around, putting the kids in clothes that they hated, and ignoring them for an hour, right? And they couldn’t play soccer because of all the Sunday morning games.

    • 18 min
    PodCastle 675: Blush Response

    PodCastle 675: Blush Response

    * Author : E. Catherine Tobler

    * Narrator : Tatiana Grey

    * Host : Setsu Uzume

    * Audio Producer : Peter Behravesh

    *

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    Previously published in No Shit, There I Was (2017), an anthology edited by Alex Acks





    Rated PG-13.

    Blush Response

    by E. Catherine Tobler

    No shit, there I was, behind the wet curves of the ebony Bugatti, watching Kasper cut through the rain like a knife’s sudden edge. He paced outside the automat, clothes wet like he’d been out there a few hours. His silver lighter slid between his rain-flecked hands.

    It was too wet to smoke, the windows of the Bugatti streaming with rain that ran quicksilver when I slammed the trunk. It latched with an exasperated splatter and I brushed the wet from my charcoal trousers and straightened to study Kasper.

    “Lola.”

    Kasper was an ashen smudge amid the hues of gray that coated the world until he thrust his chin toward me in greeting. The clear light falling through the automat’s window caught the rosy colors that banded his cheeks and brow for a long-ago crime, exposing hues unnatural and alien. His left eye gleamed emerald, the other as flat and flint as Chicago around us.

    I joined him under the dripping awning, rain tracing my melting jet pincurls while he rooted in his jacket for his silver cigarette case. The minute he opened it, the damp air blanketed the cigarettes and his lighter refused to catch.

    “You’re late for your boys,” I said, “and looking like the gutters spat you out.” Sodden debris clung to his shoulders and his shirt was rucked out of his belt. His hair, slate parted to the right and gold to the left, was mussed like a lady’d had her fingers all up in it. But no lady would have her fingers all up in that.

    “They in there?” His head jerked toward the automat window.

    “You know they are.”

    Kasper’s crew, the Rock Ghosts, was sour-faced and focused on the door to the powder room. I unbuttoned my jacket and shoved my hands into my pockets, the motion exposing the black leather holster at my waist. As far as Kasper knew, I was a bruno like him, someone known for keeping things right and proper and orderly. You needed a thing taken or reclaimed, we were also the people to see. Usually.

    “You–” The word seemed too big in his mouth and he coughed. “I can ask you something, Lola? In confidence?”

    He was going to ask me about the dame, because she wasn’t at the table where she should be. Where he should be, too, because he always saw to her, made sure she had her slice of sweet meringue.

    “You can ask me something, Kasper.” I rocked back on my heels, enjoying his discomfort the way I would later enjoy stripping out of my damp suit.

    “You seen Wonderly tonight?”

    People didn’t much talk about Wonderly; she was a sin everyone desired but none wanted to confess. She was a creature that shouldn’t exist, not so much an angel you hear stories about, but more a creature that should not be possible at all, something no one could ever rightly make. You believe in God enough, angels seem possible. Not Wonderly.



    “You lose track of her, Kasper?”

    Kasper’s flint and emerald eyes flicked back to the automat. One of his boys–Miles–got up from his seat and headed toward the powde...

    • 34 min
    PodCastle 674: Pulling Secrets from Stones

    PodCastle 674: Pulling Secrets from Stones

    * Author : Beth Goder

    * Narrator : Kat Kourbeti

    * Host : Setsu Uzume

    * Audio Producer : Peter Behravesh

    *

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    Previously published by MYTHIC in June 2017.





    Rated PG-13.

    Pulling Secrets from Stones

    by Beth Goder

    In the lakebed by the mountains slept stones full of secrets. Waiting memories. Dissipating memories. Rachel could feel the hum of them, their longing for closeness, pressing against her as the sun pressed down.

    She slid down to the lakebed. Dust rose around her, obscuring her truck by the side of the road. The air stagnated, heavy and dry, baking itself into the earth.

    Her memories were dying–the secret ones, the memories that let her touch the sky, the memories of how to cast a branch to find missing things, or summon a flower in her hand. All of her most important memories. Gone.

    She pulled a geological survey map from her pack, jostling her water bottle and a squished peanut butter sandwich. Unfolded, the map stretched farther than her arms. Red marks showed where she had searched. Not much of the map was marked–perhaps half an inch.

    Rachel hiked until she reached the edge of her last red mark.

    She turned over a stone–memory shaped–then cupped it in her hands. Ordinary. The next stone was the same, and the next. The lakebed stretched for miles, with huge cracks like fractals in the dust. Endless.

    Stones, stones, stones. None of them memories.

    Wind brushed past, and for a moment, Rachel feared that the woman in the mountains had found her. This close to the mountains, the woman could feel the land as if it were her body–the sweep of wind along mountain backs, the plants that thrust themselves through soil, the intrusion of sun into shaded spaces. The woman in the mountains had described this connection to Rachel, back when she had described everything to Rachel. Before the anger. Before the woman had discovered Rachel putting memories into stones. Before the rift that separated them as no mountain could ever do.

    When Rachel looked up, only the sun was above her. Her relief was empty. Dry.  As much as she feared the woman in the mountains, she wished to see her again.

    And Rachel did fear her. The woman was like a crash of rain, an avalanche, soaking everything in her path. Unaware. But Rachel had come to love her wild kindness, her fierceness. The woman would mix the colors of the sunset beautiful and bright. She would send goats to look after the elderly, those who had no children. With a splash of soil and a whisper, she could cure sickness in trees, but never death.

    The memory of the woman hung above Rachel like a dark sky, full and treacherous. Waiting.



    Waiting as stones waited. Rachel grabbed another stone, rough and rounded. Ordinary.

    She pulled the sandwich from her bag, wishing she had packed a more substantial lunch. Somewhere in the lakebed, locked in a stone, sat the secret of spontaneous berry pie. She remembered holding out her hands in the garden, a steaming boysenberry pie appearing among the flowers. But she couldn’t remember how she’d done it, only that once she’d known the secret of it, when the lake was full, when water ran over the stones.

    A crow circled overhead, dove, and landed on a boulder. “You’ll never get anywhere that way,” it said.

    “No one asked your advice.”

    Of course,

    • 32 min
    PodCastle 673: Jenny Come Up the Well

    PodCastle 673: Jenny Come Up the Well

    * Author : A.C. Wise

    * Narrator : Amy H. Sturgis

    * Host : Setsu Uzume

    * Audio Producer : Peter Behravesh

    *

    Discuss on Forums







    PodCastle 673: Jenny Come Up the Well is a PodCastle original.





    Rated PG-13.

    Jenny Come Up the Well

    by A.C. Wise

    Jenny come up th’ water

    Jenny come up th’ well

    Ne’er let Jenny touch you

    Or she’ll drag you down to Hell

     

    The car had always been there, a 1981 Oldsmobile Cutlass sitting on rotting tires in the woods behind the cul-de-sac where I lived. Even though its manufacture date meant it could only have been there since I was born, it felt older — like it predated the trees, like the woods had grown up around it. No one knew where it had come from, who’d left it there, or why.

    It was called the Beater, not just because it was junked-up, tires dry to crumbling, stubborn, whip-thin trees growing up through the frame, but because kids went there to beat off.

    A perpetually refreshed stash of porn could always be found in the glove box, which, like the car, no one ever admitted to leaving there.

    It was one of the Beater’s many unspoken rules — the magazines were shoplifted, or stolen from underneath older siblings’ beds, but never bought. You never talked about the Beater directly. You never brought anyone to the Beater with you. Nobody went there under the age of twelve or over eighteen. If you took something away, you had to leave something behind. And that kept the Beater’s magic working.

    Even though I was an only child and didn’t have to share a bedroom, I still went to the Beater. It was a rite of passage — sitting in the stuffy front seat, light coming through the cracked windshield, leaf shadows throwing patterns on the dash.

    I gathered up images there and played them back later in the dark, spinning elaborate stories with the sheets pulled over my head and my fingers between my legs. The Beater existed outside time, outside normal rules. There, I could pretend the women displaying themselves for men were displaying themselves for me, and it felt like it could be okay.





    The summer I was fifteen, I worked as an assistant at the local library, which mostly meant cleaning up after careless patrons. It was quiet enough most days that I could keep a book in one hand and read while re-shelving with the other.

    The porn in the Beater had helped me figure out I liked girls instead of boys, but knowing what I wanted was miles away from knowing how to get it. All my friends either had boyfriends or at least crushes on guys. If there was anyone else like me, they kept it as secret as I did. As far as I knew, I was the only girl who liked girls in my town.

    As I devoured books from the library shelves, I kept hoping I would come across a story with someone like me in it. A story of two girls meeting and falling in love, just to know it was possible. But every story I encountered was just like every movie and TV show and other piece of media I came across — boy meets girl, falling in love and living happily ever after.

    The more I read, the more it felt like the whole world was telling me that I should be alone, or worse, that I was a mistake and shouldn’t exist at all.

    “Emily? Could you come here for a moment, please?” Ms. Hartman, the librarian at the circulation desk, called to me, breaking into my reverie.

    I jumped, guilty, tucking away the time-travel romance I’d been skimming while I worked.

    • 46 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
452 Ratings

452 Ratings

Twistingly Fun ,

Super!

Late to this Pod, but am loving it as I binge stories - creative and curious with twists Really enjoyed the story White as Soap!

whatsaMaxwelltodo ,

Love to hear it!

I love listening to Podcastle. Fantastic diversity of authors and readers. Always find a new voice I’m excited about!

NewHampster ,

Love the fantasy love story “Spoken for”

This PodCastle original, is a perfect story for our times. It’s a magical yet bleak future where love grows on you and definitely grew on me. Well written in a surprisingly fresh fashion and the narrator is like one with the story. ds

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