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Author Topic: PC355: Flock  (Read 2209 times)


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on: March 18, 2015, 01:39:10 PM
PodCastle 355: Flock

by Caspian Gray

Read by Tanja Milojevic

Hosted by M.K. Hobson

Originally published in Kaleidotrope, Summer 2013. Read it here!

They met in a birdcage, in those last precious days before they became birds themselves.  They were too panicked to ask each other’s names.  The boy beat his palms against the wire bars as impotently as he had beat them against the giant’s fist; the woman brushed her fingers first against her sternum, then along the cage floor, even through the boy’s kinky hair, to prove that she was not mad or dreaming.

“Don’t touch me,” he said, making the order into a question.

The woman drew away.  “Are you hurt?” Her hands still moved restlessly, diffident as butterflies.  They were in a ramshackle attic full of cages whose inhabitants were sparrows as big as she was.  

“I didn’t know,” said the boy.  He slumped against the bars of the cage.  The woman watched the wire press indentations into his shirt.  “I didn’t know there were giants in Ohio.”

“Oh.” The woman squatted next to him, careful to keep their shoulders from brushing.  “I didn’t know there were either, until today.” She paused.  “What’s your name?  Where did the giant take you from?”

“Avery.” The boy’s eyes were as brown as tree bark.  “I was in the backyard, working.  Who are you?”


Avery blinked.  “Jack is a boy’s name.”

Her expression did not change.  “But if we’ve been kidnapped by giants,” she murmured, “the only way we’ll ever escape is if one of us is named Jack.”

Rated R. Contains Adult Themes

Listen to this week’s PodCastle!
« Last Edit: April 07, 2015, 05:19:38 PM by Talia »


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Reply #1 on: March 18, 2015, 01:55:12 PM
Ooh - Caspian Gray. Loved the two stories of theirs over on PP. Going to have to move this one up the listening queue.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


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Reply #2 on: March 18, 2015, 04:11:26 PM
The reading was great, gave the characters a lot of personality without undermining the text.  I didn't really get Jack as much.  She really must have hated her life so much to want to see the world end.  Only thing is, she so wanted so many people to suffer a world ending cataclysm, that her concern for the other birds seemed rather at odds.  I'm not surprised about her decision at the end except for what she might expect will happen.  Would she make a deal and could she ever really trust the Giant.  Not sure about it, but being a bird would be rather cool.  And is eating chicken cannibalistic?  Maybe if she were a hawk or falcon it wouldn't matter as much? :-)


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Reply #3 on: March 24, 2015, 04:25:32 AM
I have a distaste in my mouth over this story, though I think it has to do with a reoccurring dream I've had lately where I'm surrounded by birdcages and fish-tanks that have been neglected for months. Psychological trauma inflicted by my subconscious aside, I liked it. I think I'd like to hear the giant's point of view--why it had come to Cincinnati, how it selected the people it took, and what it's overall purpose is.

Of the three characters, I related to the giant the most. It clearly thought it was being kind and careful--it didn't wreak havoc on the city, it cared for the birds (if not the humans) and seemed to think it was giving Jack and Avery a gift of some sort. Perhaps that's why I want to hear from it.


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Reply #4 on: March 25, 2015, 05:36:27 PM
Once again, some pronunciation issues.  I haven't seen the text, but I'm pretty sure it didn't say "Macky's Thanksgiving Day Parade", but rather "Macy's", like Macy's department store, which sponsors the parade, and is pronounced with a long "A" sound, rhyming with racy, not macky.

Also, rook rhymes with book, so I'm pretty sure rookery is not pronounced with an "oo" sound.  Can't say for sure on that one.

Please, have the readers look up any words they're not sure of.  It really detracts from the professionalism of the podcast to have so many mispronounced words, especially such easy, common words as these.  I think the worst one I've heard (not in this episode, but others) is plague pronounced "pla-goo".  Also, in the last year I heard someone read "artesian" when it should have been "artisan".


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Reply #5 on: March 27, 2015, 03:57:52 PM
I didn't really get into this one.  I found the characters distant and not particularly interesting, and it all went pretty much where I expected early on.  I did laugh at the conversation around which she discovered her pubic hair had gone feathery.


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Reply #6 on: April 02, 2015, 03:52:11 PM
Of the three characters, I related to the giant the most. It clearly thought it was being kind and careful--it didn't wreak havoc on the city, it cared for the birds (if not the humans) and seemed to think it was giving Jack and Avery a gift of some sort. Perhaps that's why I want to hear from it.

That's an interesting point.  I think that the story was supposed to make us think of the pets and animals we cage and the morality of that.  And, in that way, we are supposed to see ourselves as the Giant.  But, as you note, the result of that new seeing is not necessarily to make us realize that we are evil, but for us to realize that the Giant may be good.  Or, at least, benign.

It was nice to see Jack turn her despair into something good--wanting to save the other caged birds--instead of going back home and continuing to drink bad coffee and wishing for the end of the world.


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Reply #7 on: April 10, 2015, 04:22:31 PM
I just couldn't get behind this story, mostly because of Jack. A soon as we learned she had forced the giant to take her with him, I lost all sympathy. Why was she so mad? And why did she decide to be Jack, as if that would somehow make her a hero? I did feel for Avery and was glad that he got away.

Crazy pronunciation issues...