Episode Art: Bo Kaier
In the back of the shop I scrubbed three large cauldrons clean, stripping the seasoning from them because Master Aloz insisted on it once the trade caravans stopped coming at the end of summer. Tallow, he called me, on account of my paleness. I used a brush made of iron bristles instead of horse hair, scraping away the brown muck inside, various plant and animal parts rendered into sludge like droppings from a sick bull. My book lay on the floor beside the cauldrons. Sir Tannis and the Hydra. It seemed I wouldn’t get to read much of it today…
Over the years, Tikka’s job as a Minor Propagandist for the planet Porcelain’s Bureau of Tourism had shaped her way of thinking. She dealt primarily in quintets of attractions, lists of five distributed by the Bureau: Five Major China Factories Where the Population of Porcelain Can Be Seen Being Created; Five Views of Porcelain’s Clay Fields; Five Restaurants Serving Native Cuisine at Its Most Natural.
Tim already had his bag and overcoat on and his keys in his hand and was about to leave when Diane stopped him at the door.
“I just got this thing working. You have to come and see it.”
“I have a bus to catch.”
“You can get the next one.”
“They’re every half an hour,” he objected. “This had better be good…”
1. A poisonous snake could bite you, and you could die.
2. You could prick your finger on a previously undiscovered poisonous cactus.
3. The cactus isn’t poisonous, and neither is the snake, but the snake’s venom is a powerful anti-coagulant. You could bleed to death from the place you were bitten and/or pricked.
The air conditioning only worked when the speedometer crept past 70 MPH which the lumbering GMC van (on loan from a friend of a friend who took pity on the family and their situation) rarely did. November in the South is hardly hot, but thirteen hours in any vehicle with nearly a half dozen relatives and mismatched belongings, each one trying to both curl and crowd themselves into their claimed seats had left the air warm and slick and smelling faintly of musk.
The bar is plenty kitschy: goofy statues made from coconuts everywhere and strings of shell beads hanging from the ceiling. I smile when I see a coconut sporting a pair of mouse ears made from scallop shells.
Tourists from all over the world are sitting around, ordering drinks non-stop because the sun is so hot at this time in Indonesia that you’ll wilt if you go outside and also because the drinks are so watered down. But that’s all right with me. I’m here to blend in, not to get drunk.
"A powerful reading and good example of how a story can be transformed when told out loud and told out loud well.
The Drabblecast is an award-winning, illustrated, listener-supported audio fiction magazine, released as a free to download, weekly podcast. It features short stories at the far side of weird, including science fiction, horror, fantasy, and everything in between. It is hosted and produced by Norm Sherman. The Drabblecast is open to submissions and is a paying market.
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