Pseudopod 328: The Suicide Witch

by Vylar Kaftan.

“The Suicide Witch” originally appeared in Daily Science Fiction, July 2012 and can be read here. She says “I wrote this story for the Codex Halloween contest. Codex is an online group of professional writers, and every year we trade “seeds” to spark new stories. My seed for this story was to write about a mortician who glues hair for special events. Clearly I have some funny ideas about how morticians live.”

VYLAR KAFTAN has published about 40 short stories in places such as Asimov’s, Lightspeed, and Clarkesworld. She’s the founder of a new literary-themed science fiction convention in the San Francisco Bay Area called FOGcon, which happens in March (click link under the name). She was nominated for a Nebula in 2011 and blogs at here. Her novella which will be out in Asimov’s in the February issue – it’s an alternate history in which the Incan Empire survives into the 19th century, and bargains with America for a smallpox vaccine.

Your reader this week – Rikki LaCoste – is the creator and co-host of the metaphysical and esoterically flavoured podcast, Kakophonos Internet Radio available for free from iTunes. At this time, Kakophonos is undergoing a further incarnation, so if you visit or search iTunes and cannot find it, check back again in a couple of weeks. His odd, informative, and provocative show often collapses into the silly and the absurd whenever it begins to get a little too serious. Rikki is a writer of strange articles on occult subjects, is a musician and the creator of Panthea, the co-creator of a cartoon strip about Aleister Crowley, a Hermetic Philosopher, a Ceremonial Magician, a summoner of daemons, and teaches piano to happy little children. He currently lives just East of Toronto in a dubious little house that emits strange sounds and eldrich odours all hours of the night..


“The suicide witch crushes glass in her leather gloves. Shards crumble like crackers over soup, filling her metal bucket. The witch’s fingers squeak together in the damp cellar air. Glitter escapes over the worktable’s edge, like white stars vanishing in the low torchlight. A peasant girl lies dead on a funeral board, her dress nailed to the wood in thirteen places.

The witch’s name is Yim, but none call her that. She lives under the noble house of Jiang in the province of Kung-lao, in a cellar with puddles like rice paddies. In the summer, fat flies buzz around her face until she swats them down. In the winter, her knees ache, and she coughs in the dampness as if she were an old hag. But Yim’s ragged hair is black without silver, and her face shows no lines. She can still see in the dark.”





About the Author

Vylar Kaftan

Vylar Kaftan writes speculative fiction of all genres, including science fiction, fantasy, horror, and slipstream. She won a 2013 Nebula Award for her novella “The Weight of the Sunrise”, as well as a 2013 Sidewise Award for Short-Form Alternate History. She was also nominated for a 2010 Nebula Award for her short story “I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno.”


Find more by Vylar Kaftan


About the Narrator

Rikki LaCoste

Rikki LaCoste wears a variety of hats, caps, berets, and on occasion, a bonnet or sombrero. He’s narrated for Pseudopod and Starship Sofa as well as Cast of Wonders.

He was also the creator and co-host of a quirky yet provocative podcast called Kakophonos Internet Radio – which is presently in cryogenic suspension – but you can listen to a collection of memorable clips from the show.

Panthea is his musical collection of original compositions. He is also a writer, voice artist, an environmental activist, having worked for Greenpeace Canada, the Communications Steward for Alfheim Valley Eco Resort, he’s an Elutriation Therapist, a Hermetic Magician, a piano teacher to kids, and an artist of any medium he can get his hands on, including audio engineering. Hats hats hats.

Isis LaCoste is the daughter of Rikki. Like her father, Isis is an aspiring young actress, a prolific artist and musician who also has a Pseudopod narration to her credit. In 2014 Isis won the award for Dramatic Excellence in her school.

Find more by Rikki LaCoste