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Lockdown Around the Christmas Tree

by Heather Shaw & Tim Pratt

What a colossal crapstorm of a year, the third year of infinite garbage in a row, ever since the lockdowns started. The walls came down around Mischa in March 2020, and here they were, still standing, tall and impenetrable, for Christmas 2022.

Then the man in red showed up, and made his offer, and everything changed.

Fantasy, 41 minutes; PodCastle #766, 20th December 2022


The Cat

by Nicole Walsh

The cat followed him home.

Tomas Shine spent three and a half minutes in the stairwell hyperventilating. He heard Mrs Helen Acres, the widow from Unit Two, clatter and batter her way out her door, shopping bags in hand. She spotted the cat outside the stairway and reversed soundlessly into her unit.

Tomas sucked in a ragged breath, filling his lungs to the brim, and looked up. The cat waited on the far side of the glass door.

Fantasy, 32 minutes; CatsCast #4, 1st July 2022


Secret Keepers

by Dafydd McKimm

That night, I bring home buckets of rocks plucked from the shore and spread them across the driftwood table in our dining room.

"Earth bones," I say, when Jo, my partner, asks what they are. "Secret keepers."

Fantasy, 6 minutes; PodCastle #733, 3rd May 2022


Once and Future

by 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.

Fantasy, 36 minutes; PodCastle #678, 12th May 2021


Vincent's Penny

by Chris Barnham

May 1941

I'm a child this time. Five or six years old.

Fully clothed under a bed, on a wooden floor. I touch a hand to my throat, but there is nothing there. I examine my hands and arms, astonished by the smoothness of the skin. At last, I crawl out from beneath the bed and leave the room.

Fantasy, 52 minutes; PodCastle #628, 26th May 2020


Twilight of the Electric Shadows

by Paul R. Hardy

Douglas Mortimer strode in from the blizzard like a snowblown angel of death, dressed all in black from his cowboy boots to his gaucho hat. The snow gusted in around him until the mechanism slammed the glass door shut, cutting off the squall. But even with the snow gone, there was still a seething dance of particles all over his face and body. The film grain made him seem as rough as sandpaper against a backdrop of pool tables and beer signs in a dimly-lit bar that was rendered in deep, smooth shades.

Fantasy, 40 minutes; Gallery of Curiosities, 28th March 2020


Yo, Rapunzel!

by Kyle Kirrin

And lo, the Princess said: "Motherfucker, I am content."

"But Princess!" said the Knight, from the base of the Princess' tower. His armor-clad ass was parked atop a huge black stallion, which the Princess found not only pompous, but entirely predictable. "You misunderstand; I'm here to save you from--"

"Hold up," said the Princess. "Exactly what part of girl-lives-in-her-own-goddamned-tower implies a need for rescue?"

Fantasy, 35 minutes; PodCastle #611, 28th January 2020


The Supervisor of Accountants and the Great Grey Wolf

by Donald S. Crankshaw

Ah, you recognize me. I wasn't sure that you would. There are hundreds of officials in your court, and I have noticed that your eyes tend to glaze over when they're introduced to you. No, no offense meant or taken. Just because the likes of me has to remember every country squire and his bastard son that passes through, that's no reason to expect someone of your importance to remember the Supervisor of the Accountants to the Second Under-Treasurer.

Fantasy, 48 minutes; Cast of Wonders #372, 11th September 2019


The Masochist's Assistant

by Auston Habershaw

Each morning at precisely seven, Georges, famulus to Magus Hugarth Madswom, stabbed his master in the heart. It was a fairly complicated affair as the linens needed to be spared staining and Georges had to make the thrust quickly, lest his master wake up and become angry with him for failing in his duties. He had suggested abjuring the sheets against such stains, but his master claimed that doing so also meant his sweat would pool about his body during the night rather than being absorbed by the sheets, and Georges' master refused to wake up stinking and slimy. So, no abjurations.

Fantasy, 59 minutes; PodCastle #586, 6th August 2019


To the Moon

by Ken Liu

Summer nights in Beijing were brutal: hot, muggy, the air thick as the puddles left on the road after a shower, covered in iridescent patches of gasoline. We felt like dumplings being steamed, slowly, inside the room we were renting.

Fantasy, 34 minutes; PodCastle #537, 28th August 2018


Psychopomps

by Judith Field

Mark's next door neighbour and business partner Pat kept telling him that power flowed through his veins. He took a breath and closed his eyes, trying to will the power back out again and into the ash wand in his outstretched hand. He pointed it at Pat's door. A narrow beam of blue light squeezed out of the end and hit the lock. Nothing happened. Sighing, he folded the wand and put it in his pocket. He took out his key and let himself into her house.

Fantasy, 33 minutes; Far Fetched Fables #181, 24th October 2017


All of the Cuddles With None of the Pain

by J. J. Roth

What is a Reborn?

A Reborn is an artist-enhanced baby doll that looks and feels lifelike. Artists create Reborns as one-of-a-kind collectibles, often from ordinary play dolls transformed into art suitable for hands-off display--or hands-on cuddling.

While reasonably durable, Reborns are not children's toys. Rough play may damage them.

Fantasy, 30 minutes; PodCastle #480, 25th July 2017


A Moral Little Tale

by Lord Dunsany

There was once an earnest Puritan who held it wrong to dance. And for his principles he labored hard, his was a zealous life. And there loved him all of those who hated the dance; and those that loved the dance respected him too; they said "He is a pure, good man and acts according to his lights."

Fantasy, 40 minutes; PodCastle #463, 2nd April 2017


The Blind Queen's Daughter

by Scott Huggins

The heavy mauls swung inward, the only thunder in the soft morning rain. The priests watched, trembling. The small man from Arabia stared hungrily at the widening hole.

The bricks sealing the cell shivered, and Amren watched his father's jaw tremble under the blow. Tremble as it never had in two desperate battles. Not even when the men of his auxilia fell about him in desperate retreat had Amren seen Sir Bedwyr's face show fear. Until now. And the Roman Legate looked on, sneering.

Fantasy, 36 minutes; Far Fetched Fables #151, 28th March 2017


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Matt Dovey is a writer of short speculative fiction. He is very tall, very British, and probably drinking a cup of tea right now. His surname rhymes with “Dopey”, but any other similarities to the dwarf are purely coincidental. More →

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Narrations

The heavy mauls swung inward, the only thunder in the soft morning rain. The priests watched, trembling. The small man from Arabia stared hungrily at the widening hole.

The bricks sealing the cell shivered, and Amren watched his father's jaw tremble under the blow. Tremble as it never had in two desperate battles. Not even when the men of his auxilia fell about him in desperate retreat had Amren seen Sir Bedwyr's face show fear. Until now. And the Roman Legate looked on, sneering.

The Blind Queen's Daughter by Scott Huggins
Far Fetched Fables #151

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