Tales of Old
Summary: Audio magazine for historical fiction and alternate history. Each week we feature a historical fiction short story. Historians and literature fans will enjoy these great stories that span history from Ancient Greece to World War II.
By Ivan Sun Read by P.D.R. Lindsay After the Emperor learned of my refuge at the Diamond Silence Cloister, he dispatched a different son each year to seek my hand in marriage. Three Manchurian princes and their cavalry had come and gone. They would arrive not long after the full moon on the tenth month, bearing lavish provisions to bribe the Abbess into giving me up, but they would be gone before the first flurries of snow settled on our cloister's rooftop.
By Nancy Cole Silverman Read by Shawn Robertson For generations my people lived in Mesa Verde inside the deep caves beneath sedimentary rock overhangs, thousands of feet above the canyon floor, where we farmed the land, hunted only what we needed to eat, and survived the others. Down the red stone canyon, in more caves another flute softly echoes. A medley gently floats between our villages as we sit huddled together, the women, so close, I can feel their skin next to mine, and their warm breath upon my shoulders. Behind us, the men stand bare-chested with their long, black hair pulled away from their flat, chiseled faces, and together we watch as one of the elders points to stars in the sky. He tells us our people arrived from the heavens, many light years ago, then outlines the image of Kokopelli, the humpbacked flute player, our god of fertility and life-giving water, and we listen as he tells us the story of our exodus. Of how we followed the sounds of Kokopelli’s harmonic flute, escaping the marauding, bloodthirsty assassins, the others, who we fear have followed us from Chaco Canyon to our home here beneath the mesa. Tonight we pray that Kokopelli will come again and guide us to safety.
By Gary Ives Read by Shawn Robertson Setting: Vietnam War The essence of combat was for Robert nearly impossible to convey. He’d tried to keep a journal from his first patrol but after his second fire fight had abandoned trying to clarify. He could write the necessary military logs and action reports required, that was simple enough. “At 0130, 12 June -- at the mouth of the Ba Sac River (coordinates) encountered and sunk two sampans attempting to place submerged mines. Four enemy dead. Mines detonated by 50 cal. fire.” Or “18 June -- came under RPG fire from high rock formation on beach, four meters, Tinh Vah Village. Returned fire with twin .50’s and two HE 40mm grenades. 2 dead VC . Russian 7.39 mm. rifle destroyed.” No, he had not the will nor the ability to clearly capture those impingements on human limits.
by Russell James read by Christian James Setting: 650 A.D. Central Britain. After years of victory, King Cenwalh now knew defeat. Two dozen of his personal guards, the finest warriors the kingdom of Wessex had to offer, lay scattered and exhausted in the woods around him, survivors of the Mercian onslaught. Several wounded stifled stoic moans as they tightened bandages to staunch the bleeding. The occasional clink of armor sounded as the soldiers shifted to find comfort among the tree roots. The king’s horse, weak from the day’s combat, sipped water from a shallow pond. The men stank of the copper of blood and the panicked sweat of defeat. Pictures of the found treasure
By Philip Leibfried Read by Shawn Robertson Setting: England, early 1900's "If" by Rudyard Kipling read by Martin Clifton, courtesy of Librivox.org Inspiration comes in many forms and great authors take it whenever they can get it. It was the spring of 1903, at the dawn of the brief Edwardian Era, and eleven-year-old Oliver Finch was in dire need of an adjective. He had been laboring over his latest short story for three days and was about to complete it, but he lacked a modifier for “populace” in a stirring tale of the Boer War which he called “The Relief of Mafeking.” He was thinking of something along the lines of “courageous,” only more so.
by Edward Ahern read by Shawn Robertson The Cold War produced bitter enemies, but also friends. But who can a spy ever really trust? This would be the last time Harald met with Walter Peake , a cover name backstopped by a passport, driver’s license, business cards, family pictures, credit cards, a couple of memberships and a social security card. The identity would hold up under thirty minutes of casual questioning, but probably less than two hours of interrogation and back checking.
by C.J. Lines read by Kevin Harty In the foggy streets of Victorian London, Patrick O'Hare has set up his latest Freak Show , a veritable promenade of wonders and horrors. Are they real, and where does he aquire them? Closing music by Panda Transport, courtesy of Music Alley
by Danny Adams read by Shawn Robertson Period: American Civil War (and others) What could be worse than a gruesome death by Minie ball in a bloody civil war? Maybe having to do it more than once. “Your name is Private Absalom T. Zirkle,” the nurse told him. “My name is Charlotte. You’re in a field hospital just south of—” “What day is this?” “Saturday.” “No, what day?” “July the Fourth,” she finally told him. “The saddest we have ever seen.” “Pickett,” he whispered. “1863. Little Round Top...Absalom T. Zirkle.” He looked into the nurse’s—Charlotte’s—eyes, and the fog in his mind cleared a little. He tried looking around but couldn’t move his head from the folded towel where it lay.
Short fiction: To Those Who Wait by Rachel Bundock Setting: England, 1820 Main fiction: The Crusader from Cross Plains by Teel. James Glenn Setting: Egypt, 1938
Short fiction: "Strangers Well Met" - by Andrew MacRae, 1800's USA Main fiction: Period: 1938s, Setting: Egypt By Teel. James Glenn Read by Shawn Robertson In some of the infinite worlds of the multiverse some men live that might die in others. This story takes place in one of those parallel worlds where a bullet was not fired in Texas in 1936, an Englishman survives a motorcycle accident and a jail term was served in full in Germany. And so the world was changed. I saw the cowboy start to rise but three other armed and burnoosed figures poured through the door. Bob’s body was tense, his great muscles coiled like springs like a panther waiting patiently to for the right moment to pounce. A thug with a wild red beard stepped into the doorway. “You will listen and hear me, infidel dogs,” he proclaimed. “You are in the presence of Abdul Azim who serves the great and magnificent Abu al Kayar. You will give no resistance or you will die.”
By Edward McDermott Read by Shawn Robertson Period: World War II Setting: London The city of London was bombed for 76 consecutive nights in 1940 and 1941 in a strategy called "The Blitz" from the German word for lightning. More than 40,000 English civilians died during this time. She stood by the canteen, waiting as we reported for duty, a grim hard duty, but the only one open to us. The sun was setting and in a few hours German planes with German bombs would find the city and blow streets, houses, homes and people into small pieces. During those hours Will Tanner’s volunteers drove the ambulances.
by Robert J. Santa read by Shawn Robertson It's not a crime to search for the truth. Wait a minute, to the Inquisition it most certainly is. "Giulio Vanini," said the Archbishop, "do you know why you are here?" The prisoner barked a laugh that abruptly ended as though it had been strangled. "The reason I am here," he said as he fixed the Archbishop with a hard stare, "is the reason I'm here."
by Ken Liu read by Shawn Robertson In 1590, the daimyo Toyotomi Hideyoshi completed the dream of his dead liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, and unified Japan by conquest. As kampaku to the figurehead Japanese Emperor Go-Yozei, Toyotomi was ruler of all Japan. Seeking to engrave his name eternally in history, he turned his eyes west to the glory of Joseon Korea and the beauty of Ming China. In 1591, Toyotomi demanded Korea's surrender and aid in the conquest of China. King Seonjo refused, as Korea was a close ally of China. Toyotomi raised an army of 160,000 veterans hardened by decades of battle in Oda's and Toyotomi's domestic campaigns, and invaded Korea in 1592. It was the largest army ever deployed until then in Northeast Asia.
by D. Purcell read by Melissa Hartzel Excerpt from Instructions for American Servicemen in Britain 1942: "You will be Britain's guest.... Don't refer to the First World War by saying America came over and won it.... Don't play into Hitler's hands by mentioning war debts. You will naturally be interested in getting to know your opposite number, the British soldier, the 'Tommy' you have heard and read about. You can understand that two actions on your part will slow up this friendship - swiping his girl and not appreciating what his army has been up against." Source used for the introduction
Period: 5th Century Setting: Post Roman Britain By Christian Carter-Stephenson Read by Shawn Robertson As the city loomed in the distance, Perth considered what he knew about the place, hoping to guard against the horrors within. Its real name was Londinium, but this had passed out of usage with the departure of the Romans. In the years since its abandonment, it had been the subject of many unnerving tales. Some spoke of the ghosts of former inhabitants, others of a mischievous family of fairies.