“The best busker in the world never plays in the same place twice. He is too busy searching. But maybe, just maybe, you will hear him once. If you hear him, you will have to see him, even if the first notes of his music drift to you from streets away, completely opposite from wherever you intended to go. Once you hear a single note, it will draw you along like an invisible string, tugging at the knot in the center of your chest where you keep your secret fears and disappointments. Wherever you find him— a dusty back street in a sleepy town, a bustling avenue in the rush-hour of a big city, a lonely campground haunted by only a few brave souls and stubborn wanderers— the sight will burn itself into your memory almost as deeply as the music.”
The love of my life died on July third, 1983, at the respectable age of one hundred and nineteen. Oldest man on Earth, according to the good Doctor Hippen.
I can’t say his death came as a shock; when a man reaches that advanced an age, only the absolutely delusional would suggest he buy denture paste in bulk. Still, I hadn’t expected it to happen so suddenly.
We had just begun a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle (always the optimist, my Edgar). One moment, he was looking for a piece of the sky, and the next, he found a piece of his very own. How convenient that his death would coincide with Lasagna Sunday, the bane of his existence.
Once upon a time, in a valley in Lower Saxony just south of Meppen town, there lived an old woman and her two grandchildren.
Helene had been a weaver in her younger days, but over the years the damp of the fens had stolen into her joints, twisting her fingers until they grew as gnarled and useless as the roots of the scrubby trees that crowded the river bank.
Katarin and Klaus had come north with the Spring floods, refugees from the labor pains that accompanied the birth of French democracy. Their father had gone off to fight Napoleon, and their mother, always sickly and lovelorn, wasted away for want of him.
“Welcome to the Starlight Watch,” says Flashback. Red Diamond pops a thumbs-up. The Ocelot gives me what is probably a friendly growl. Statica pumps her fist in the air and grins, her edges blurring slightly. I grin back. “Thanks, guys!” I’m burning up with excitement. I’m joining the Watch! My absolute favorite super-squad! I couldn’t believe it when the Superhero Registration Office assigned me to replace Quantum, may he rest in peace. (Continue Reading…)
I’ll tell it like it never happened, Patrick. Like we were childhood besties swapping knock-knock jokes from the tip-top branches of our favorite climbing tree. That we donned towel capes and played at superheroes, that we took turns being sidekicks so nobody had to play the villain. That it went on like that forever. That we never entered the science fair, and my experiment with exothermic reaction never beat out your atomic clock. That you didn’t resent losing to a girl, because I was your best friend, and it shouldn’t have mattered.
And when The Agency recruited me young on the strength of my scientific promise, and I really got the cape and powers and sidekick, you withdrew into a mechanical exile of your own choosing, all wires and servos and circuit boards.
• Authors: D K Thompson and Shane Halbach
• Narrators: Tina Connolly and M K Hobson
• Audio production by Jeremy Carter
• The Four Stewpots is forthcoming in And Welcome Back, D K Thompson’s first collection.
• Her Path Lay Forward is a Cast of Wonders original!
• Discuss this story on our forum
• For a list of all our stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia page
• Come visit us on Facebook and Twitter
Dave Thompson is a good name to know if you spend any time around Escape Artists. (So is “California King,” or “Easter Werewolf”…) He’s a pretty awesome guy, even if he disparages pumpkin beer. He lives outside Los Angeles with his wife and three terribly photogenic children. While he can tweet up to 175 characters, he refrains from using this power for chaos. Together with co-editor Anna Schwind, he ran PodCastle for five years before stepping down to focus on his own writing in 2015. This story is forthcoming in Dave’s first collection And Welcome Back, which he successfully Kickstarted last year. You can find two of his audio book narrations on Amazon: Norse Code by Greg Van Eekhout and Briarpatch by Tim Pratt. Follow him online or on Twitter.
Tina Connolly is the author of the Ironskin trilogy from Tor Books, and the Seriously Wicked series, from Tor Teen. Ironskin, her first fantasy novel, was a Nebula finalist. Her stories have appeared in Lightspeed, Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and many more. Her narrations have appeared in audiobooks and podcasts including Podcastle, Pseudopod, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and her Parsec-winning flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake.
Shane Halbach lives in Chicago with his wife and three kids, where he writes software by day and avoids writing stories by night. His story Downsizing Pluto appeared in Cast of Wonders Episode 106, all the way back in December of 2013. Additionally, his fiction has appeared in Analog, EscapePod, The Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction, and elsewhere. He blogs regularly, or can be found on Twitter.
M K Hobson has switched things up recently. While she continues to write, she has been dallying with a newfound love of photography. She’s also been traveling quite a bit, and as a matter of fact today’s story was recorded at Timberhouse in Ottowa, an urban castle and creative paradise. You can find her online and on Twitter.
The Little Wonders theme “Neversus” is by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.
You’re listening to Little Wonders, our thematic flash fiction collections. This week we bring you our final episode for 2014, and lucky number 150 – a pair of stories for the inspired by the Season of Goodwill.
Our first offering is The Secret Ingredient Is by Emmalia Harrington. Emmalia is a writer and librarian who is making her first forays into publishing fiction. She adores fantasy, science fiction and other speculative works, as well as historical fiction and non-fiction. When she isn’t writing, she’s sewing, knitting, cooking or otherwise trying to keep her hands busy.
The story is served up for you by Anne-Louise Fortune, an actor and performer from Manchester. She also finds time to write scripts and the occasional audio drama, and yes, fanfic, as well as taking photographs at ‘geek events’ for Starburst Magazine. On Sundays Anne can be found being the eternally exasperated ‘Producer Al’ for The Bookworm podcast, a part of Fab Radio International. You can also find her on Twitter and follow her adventures as she conquers her fear of heights by learning aerial acrobatics!
Speaking of cozy, our second story is Jamie Lackey’sChristmas Lights. Jamie lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and cat. Her fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and the Stoker Award-winning After Death… She’s a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Her short story collection, One Revolution, is available on Amazon. She’s currently editing the anthology Triangulation: Lost Voices, which is open for submissions through the end of February.
You’re listening to Little Wonders, our thematic flash fiction collections. This episode we bring you A Little Laughter.
To start things off, we bring you Continue? by Cast of Wonders alumnus James Vachowski. You may remember James from The Great Game, a multi-part story we ran in 2012. He works as a quality assurance technician for an independent traveling circus, where he strives to ensure that your next ride on the Cyclone is in full compliance with most, if not all, applicable state safety regulations. When he’s not living his dream of seeing the world from the parking lots of local shopping malls and Moose lodges, he writes fiction. You can find James surfing all sorts of corners of the social media space, including Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon, as well as his website.
To narrate this story, we welcome back the dulcet tones of podcasting’s favorite infectious diseases doctor, John Cmar. John splits his time between treating horrors such as syphilis, and molding the next generation of doctors, while repeatedly washing his hands in between. When not herding his five cats or going fanboy over the space endeavors of his wife Moon Ranger Laura, John infectious various podcast and radio projects with his voice. He is the Chief Medical Officer and Bad Doctor in Residence at his personal blog, where he consults and ruminates over all manner of things.
Our next story is The Girl With The Piccolo by Charity Tahmaseb. Charity was a part of our last Little Wonders collection, Trope Twists, with her story Sleeping Beauty. She also has one of my favorite bios.
Charity Tahmaseb has slung corn on the cob for Green Giant and jumped out of airplanes (but not at the same time). She’s worn both Girl Scout and Army green. These days, she writes fiction (long and short) and works as a technical writer. You can find her on Twitter at @geekgirlX2, and at her Writing Wrongs blog.
Your narrator for this story is a new friend I made at LonCon this year, Princess Scientist. She has a new blog you can check out at Creeper Gazette. And I’m hoping she does her video advent calendar again this year, so check out her site around December. While you’re there, ask her about her Gordon Ramsey theory…
Finally this episode, we’ve saved what may be the best for last with Some Assembly Required by Terry L. Mirll. Award-winning author Terry L. Mirll has written three novels, a novelette, and numerous short stories as well as non-fiction articles. Most recently, his short story Astrafugia took first place in science fiction for Writer’s Digest magazine’s Ninth Annual Popular Fiction Awards. A native Texan, he currently lives in Oklahoma with his wife and three daughters. “Some Assembly Required” is his first publication with us, and we hope to read many more. You can find Tim on Facebook.
Why do I say we saved the best for last? Because we asked Dave Robison to narrate the story for you, and he did so very much more than that. I won’t ruin the surprise, but you’re in for a real treat. Dave hardly needs an introduction in the wide world of podcasting, or to Cast of Wonders fans. In fact, Dave was involved in our very first Little Wonders collection, with Influx Capacitor. When he’s not busy with Writer’s Roundtable, he’s forwarding his life’s goal of being an Agent of Awesomeness armed only with a theater degree. Since arriving on the scene of audio fiction, he’s had the privilege of lending his voice to numerous dramatic readings for such notables as StarshipSofa, The Drabblecast, Tales to Terrify, and the trifecta of Escapepod, Pseudopod, and Podcastle. Say hello to him on Twitter when you get a chance.
This is Little Wonders, our collection episodes featuring flash fiction and poetry centered around a theme. This episode we bring you the conclusion of our flash fiction month: Trope Twists!
Our first twisted trope — and the story which inspired this Little Wonders collection — is The Hero by Jessica Holscher. Jessica is a freelance writer in Oregon who loves to write fun fantasy stories. She has two novels published by ASJ Publishing: Legend of the Phoenix and Kenneth Randall: Grower. She’s on Twitter as @jessholscher, and you can find out more about her on her Facebook page.
The Hero is narrated by the extremely talented John Cmar. John is an infectious diseases physician in Baltimore who splits his time between treating horrors such as syphilis, and molding the next generation of doctors, while repeatedly washing his hands in between. When not herding his five cats or going fanboy over the space endeavors of his wife Moon Ranger Laura, John infectious various podcast and radio projects with his voice. He is the Chief Medical Officer and Bad Doctor in Residence at his personal blog, where he consults and ruminates over all manner of things at Saint Nickanuck.
Next we have The Secret Life of Sleeping Beauty by Charity Tahmaseb. Charity has slung corn on the cob for Green Giant and jumped out of airplanes (but not at the same time). She’s worn both Girl Scout and Army green. These days, she writes fiction (long and short) and works as a technical writer. Her novel, The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading (written with co-author Darcy Vance), was a YALSA 2012 Popular Paperback pick. Her short speculative fiction has appeared in the Unidentified Funny Objects and Coffee anthologies, Flash Fiction Online, and elsewhere.
Next month, her YA novelette Just a Matter of Time will appear in Volume 3 of Sucker Literary Magazine. She’s on Twitter as @geekgirlx2, and her blog is Writing Wrongs.
Your narrator is Chloë Yates. Chloë has written several pieces for the excellent Fox Spirit Books, and her latest story, ‘Well Our Feeble Frame He Knows’, closes out Guardians in their Fox Pocket series. More of her work will be included in several upcoming anthologies, including ‘Tits Up in Wonderland’, which will round off the Missing Monarchs Fox Pocket and can also be heard in Episode 16 of Dark Fiction Magazine.
As well as ‘All Things Fall’ in the upcoming anthology Girl At The End of the World, Vol 1.
She writes humorous, if somewhat macabre, poetry. You can contact her through her website, while she wanders through Twitter under the sobriquet @shloobee.
She’s currently working on a collection of short stories for Fox Spirit and on her first novel. English born, she lives in the middle of Switzerland with her bearded paramour, Mr Y, and their disapproving dog, Miss Maudie.
Michael Strickland’sBigfeet is next. Michael has published a handful of other short stories in small indie outlets. In addition to Bigfeet, his story Pale Green Pants — inspired by What Was I Scared Of? in Dr. Seuss’ Sneetches and Other Stories — recently appeared in the anthology Green Eggs and Horror. By day, Michael wrangles words as a professional copywriter, and you can find him online here.
Michael says this story was created when a friend challenged him to reduce a screenplay idea into a flash story under 300 words.
Regular listeners of Cast of Wonders will recognize our next two narrators, the podcasting duo of Big Anklevich and Rish Outfield from the Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine. Dunesteef features genre stories brought to you as fullcast audio productions created by some of the most talented producers in the podisphere. After each story, Big and Rish treat you to scintillating, thought provoking, and often mind-numbing conversation…oh, sorry, I meant mind-opening…opening?…mind-expanding maybe…conversation related to the day’s story and other geek-centric topics. Check it out!
To bring our twisted tropes to a close we present Alexandra Grunberg’sJack and the Griffin Eggs.
Alexandra is a New York City based author and actress. Her work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Perihelion Science Fiction, and here at Cast of Wonders in episode 106, our Little Wonders collection “The Journey” with Treasure Hunter.
Her story Any Ending won third place in Fiction Vortex’s August Monthly Contest and her story Finale in Blue won third place in their October Horror Contest. She is currently writing a web series, HOUSED, in which she will also be appearing as a lead character. You can find links to her stories at her website.
Rish Outfield’s prior narrations for Cast of Wonders include episode 91, “Open 28 Hours” and the chilling “Cosmetic Procedures” from episode 69. We’re thrilled to have him back.
Theme music is “Neversus” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.
This is Little Wonders, our collection episodes featuring flash fiction and poetry centered around a theme. This episode we bring you a trio of stories where enjoying the way you get somewhere is more important than your ultimate destination. Welcome to “The Journey”.
Our first story is Treasure Hunter by Alexandra Grunberg. Alexandra is a New York City-based author and actress, soon-to-be graduate from New York University”s Tisch School of the Arts. Her stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Plasma Frequency Magazine, and the Toasted Cake Podcast run by Cast of Wonders” good friend Tina Connolly. Alexandra won third place in Fiction Vortex”s August 2013 Monthly Contest. You can find links to her stories at alexandragrunberg.wordpress.com.
Your narrator is Elie Hirschman. Elie has been dabbling in voice acting for the past ten years, with several online production companies including Darker Projects, Dream Realm Enterprises and BrokenSea Productions. He has all his life failed to live by rule 3 of Mike Damone”s Five-Point plan – “Act like wherever you are – that”s the place to be.” He lives in the Eastern Hemisphere against his will and better judgment and occasionally turns bad drama scripts into intentionally bad comedy at Cool Fool Productions. You can find them on Facebook.
Elie is proud to have read for Podcastle, Escape Pod and Pseudopod, and is delighted to read his first piece for Cast of Wonders.
Our second story is The Eye of Reason by S. R. Algernon. You may remember him from Episode 66, “The Egg Game”. S. R. Algernon has been an avid reader of science fiction for many years and is a member of critters.org. He studied fiction writing in North Carolina, U.S.A., and currently lives in Singapore.
Your narrator is the legendaryDave Thompson. By day, Dave battles through reams of red tape writing corporate documentation. But his real job is co-editing and hosting the fantasy podcast PodCastle where you”ll find fantasy stories of all stripes. He is a published author and a respected and frequent narrator for many venues. You can find two of his audio book narrations on Amazon: Norse Code by Greg Van Eekhout and Briarpatch by Tim Pratt.
Our final story is Downsizing Pluto by Shane Halbach. Shane is a software engineer, happily married and living in Chicago with his wife, two kids, and one nuisance cat. He has been accused of being obsessed with pirates, bacon, zombies, and his kids (not necessarily in that order). He”s a knitter, guitar player, and budding accordionista, and his fiction has appeared in Escape Pod, Redstone SF, Daily Science Fiction, and elsewhere. He can be found online at shanehalbach.com. Shane”s work can most recently be found in “Oomph: A Little Super Goes a Long Way”, an anthology of the tremendous potential of trivial superpowers. Details are available at crossedgenres.com/titles/oomph/.
You’re listening to Little Wonders, our collection episodes featuring flash fiction and poetry centered around a theme. And since it’s Halloween, that means it’s time for scaaaaaary stories!
Our first story is Come To Me, by Beth Hull. Beth lives in Northern California with her artist/scientist husband, their two children, and a cat who thinks she’s a dog. Beth writes young adult novels and the occasional short story. To learn more about Beth, her work, and the things that annoy her (windy days, ticking clocks), and scare her (black widow spiders lurking in the mailbox), you can visit her website or find her on Twitter.
Come to Me is narrated for you by podcasting’s Dark Overlord, Alasdair Stuart. Alasdair is the host of Pseudopod, the weekly horror fiction podcast by Escape Artists. He also co-hosts Escape Pod, their weekly science fiction show. He blogs about lots of things for lots of people, including himself, his website. You can listen to him talk about cooking things, reading things, watching things or training in things like martial arts and baking on Twitter.
When most people thing of young adult fiction, they think of fantasy with a heavy sprinkling of science fiction. Horror doesn’t seem to be a popular genre, and I can understand why: thinking about younger people in frightening or dangerous situations isn’t very comforting. When you think of Harry Potter, you probably think of the fun times Harry, Ron and Herminoe have, and you glaze over the very real danger they were in.
But growing up can be scary, with or without the presence of the supernatural. And unlike a book, you can’t put your life down and come back to it later. Learning how to deal with an ugly reality is an important skill.
Which brings us to our second story, Piper by Ian Rose. Ian is a web developer and former field biologist living in Portland, Oregon. He loves oceans and mountains and rain, and is very pleased to have found a place that offers him all of these, though he does have to visit his native east coast every year to fill up on bagels, pizza, and other bread products that Oregon just can’t seem to get quite right. He blogs here and can be found on Twitter. Ian also has a story about to be published by New Myths.
Your narrator is our very own Barry J. Northern. Barry is a game developer based in Bournemouth, England making freemium games for clients such LEGO and the BBC. His latest game is breaking all records on iOS, not surprising with a title like “LEGO Star Wars Yoda Chronicles”. It’s for younger kids, but if you fancy blasting alien brains check out LEGO Hero Factory Brain Attack. All this game developing has meant Barry hasn’t been as active in the podcasting and fiction world as he used to be, but he still works behind the scenes at Cast of Wonders. He also guest narrates on occasion at The Drabblecast and StarShip Sofa.
Ian told us the inspiration for Piper was, that in of all the fables and fairy tales I was read as a child, the pied piper was the only one that ever really scared him. Not only the power that the Piper, over both the rats and the children, but the willingness to use it was terrifying. He was a sort of avatar for all the threats and dangers in the world that Ian didn’t yet understand but still knew to be afraid of.
And speaking of things you should be afraid of, how about cowled figures rowing tiny boats on dark rivers late at night? Should you ever find yourself in need of such, maybe you shouldn’t pick the one with the skeletal face…
For our final scary short, we bring you The Boatman by JA Ironside. Jules Anne Ironside started writing as a child. She grew up in Dorset in a house full of books, fed on a diet of myths, legends and spooky tales. She particularly likes to take well known myths and turn them on their heads. Jules is a keen martial artist having taught karate for fifteen years now. In her free time she likes to read and add to her collection of dead or little use languages. She has had several other short stories published in the anthologies Reading is Magic and Stories for Homes both available from Amazon. Her next published story will appear in the A Chimerical world; Unseelie anthology. You can follow her on Twitter.
To complete our trio of narrators, The Boatman is read for you by the very talented Ian Stuart. Ian Stuart is a writer, poet and performer living and working in York. In the past he has worked for BBC local radio in Manchester and the Isle of Man, where he taught English. As well as providing voice tracks for hotels, businesses and foreign language courses, he is a tourist guide for The Ghost Trail of York. (I’ve been on his tour, you don’t want to miss it!) And Ian has been a resident voice artist for Pseudopod for some years. You can read more about his poetry and his dog, Digby, on his blog, The Top Banana, or follow him on Twitter.
The Little Wonders theme, “Neversus” is by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.
This episode we bring you a trio of fantasy offerings – one flash story and two poems – about things that aren’t quite what they appear to be…
Our first story is Golly, by Laura DeHaan. Laura is a healthcare practitioner in her hometown of Toronto, Ontario. She pays her bills by helping people relax and feel better, but when she writes she likes making people feel just a little awful. She has a couple stories coming out in autumn, one in Postscripts to Darkness 4 about a new kind of danger posed by an invasive species, and one in Andromeda Spaceways In-Flight Magazine involving a zombie cowboy and a talking snake. Something for everyone! Find her on Twitter and follow the bizarre travelogues of the much put-upon tourist Topher Topher.
Golly is narrated for you by Melissa Bugaj. Melissa is a proud mom of an eight-year-old boy and five-year-old girl. She is a special educator in her fourteenth year of teaching. Melissa has taught all grade levels from preschool to grade five in both general and special education. This year, however, she is taking a leap in her teaching as she enters the high school level as a Conceptual Physics teacher . She co-writes and co-produces an original children’s story podcast with her husband, Chris, called Night Light Stories. She also writes a personal blog called According to Mags, about her children’s silly antics that keep her and her readers entertained. Melissa enjoys presenting with her husband at different state conferences on the subjects of audio stories and podcasting.
Speaking of elements, our next entry is the poem An Alchemist’s Limit, by Brian Griggs. You may remember Brian and his alchemist from Episode 22, Rust. This poem was written as a result of your positive feedback to the story. Brian says he loves how the character is trying to simultaneously make sense of electron shells and organized crime.
Brian has been an educator for twelve years and has been encouraged to write fiction and poetry by his students and co-workers. He hopes his stories inspire curiosity and wonder in students of all ages. You can learn more about the Alchemist’s Guild at his website. And he’s also avid on Twitter. He’d love to hear your thoughts on the poem.
Your narrator for this poem is our very own, very hard working and very talented Graeme Dunlop. Graeme’s been busy on the narration front lately, with his latest appearance reading Tim Maughan’s Limited Edition for Starship Sofa.
This episode marks the second time Cast of Wonders has aired poetry. Our first was the excellent Eggs Under Moon from Episode 29, where three different narrators brought you their interpretation of the one poem.
This time, we decided to try something a little different. I asked the narrators of the poems to read the poem for you three different times in different interpretive styles. I agree with Barry that understanding and appreciation of poetry improves with repetition, and I’m curious to hear what you think about our new approach. Let us know on our forum!
Finally this week, Cast of Wonders is pleased to present Empires of the Red Dawn by Jack Murphy. Jack just turned 18, and this piece is his first professional sale. Congratulations, Jack! We hope to see more submissions from him in the future.
Jack says he’s not very good at biographies, so instead he gave us three individual words: “Transient, Pantheon, Objuration”. Ooo, good choices – I love it when I have to look up a new word!
Your narrator for Empires is my good friend Adam Black. Adam is a recovering neuroscience student, although he’s working hard to relapse again. He enjoys reading, bicycling, and shouting into microphones, the last of which he sometimes records. He doesn’t have a public web presence yet, which makes him sad, so he will probably change that soon.
The Little Wonders theme, “Neversus”, is by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.