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Cast of Wonders 329: Widow Bones Makes Her Rounds


Widow Bones Makes Her Rounds

by Gretchen Tessmer

“Brom Bones too, who shortly after his rival’s disappearance conducted the blooming Katrina to the altar, was observed to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin, which led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he chose to tell.”

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,
by Washington Irving

 

With everything that happened, I don’t know that I would describe myself as blooming. Willing, I suppose, and certainly compliant. But a flower doesn’t need to bloom to be plucked. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 328: Ava Paints the Horses


Ava Paints the Horses

by Ville Meriläinen

It’s late into morning on a Friday, and Ava paints the horses. Her feet are bare despite the season, and she has buried them in a pile of leaves that rustles as she curls her toes in rhythm with her strokes. The scent of hot cocoa wafts up from the mug between her knees, mixing with the smell of summer grass that escapes her painting. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 327: Memories of Mirrored Worlds

Show Notes

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Memories of Mirrored Worlds

by Barbara A. Barnett

At midnight on her ninth birthday, Alison Marie was crowned Queen of the Nightlands; she decreed that flowers should glow in the dark and that bats should dine with her at supper. At midnight on her tenth birthday, she was named Keeper of the Secret Word, which she whispered to her trusted steed, a giant frog who galloped through the moors. On her eleventh birthday, Alison Marie was worshipped as Goddess of the Sky. She spread her dragon wings each night and breathed the stars to life with fire. But at midnight on her twelfth birthday, Alison Marie became the daughter of a widowed man, and she made no more visits to her other lives. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 324: Banned Books Week – The Sound of Her Voice


The Sound of Her Voice

by Jennifer Hykes

I saw her van as I turned the corner by the convenience store.  It was exactly as I remembered it: the coat of green paint cracked and faded now, but the logo unmistakable.  It was burned into my memory like a brand.

I moved before I even realized my old instincts were kicking in, pressing myself against the brick wall and slowing my breathing so the sound would not give me away.

Every nerve in my body tingled.  I watched. I waited. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 323: Banned Books Week – “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”


“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”

by Alix E. Harrow

GEORGE, JC—THE RUNAWAY PRINCE—J FIC GEO 1994

You’d think it would make us happy when a kid checks out the same book a zillion times in a row, but actually it just keeps us up at night.

The Runaway Prince is one of those low-budget young adult fantasies from the mid-nineties, before J.K. Rowling arrived to tell everyone that magic was cool, printed on brittle yellow paper. It’s about a lonely boy who runs away and discovers a Magical Portal into another world where he has Medieval Adventures, but honestly there are so many typos most people give up before he even finds the portal.

Not this kid, though. He pulled it off the shelf and sat cross-legged in the juvenile fiction section with his grimy red backpack clutched to his chest. He didn’t move for hours. Other patrons were forced to double-back in the aisle, shooting suspicious, you-don’t-belong-here looks behind them as if wondering what a skinny black teenager was really up to while pretending to read a fantasy book. He ignored them.

The books above him rustled and quivered; that kind of attention flatters them. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 321: The Penelope Qingdom


The Penelope Qingdom

by Aidan Moher

It was during the particularly frozen-solid Prince George winter of ’91, a few days after the new neighbours had arrived, that I first stumbled into the Penelope Qingdom. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 313: Desert Dogs


Desert Dogs

by Drea Silvertooth and Lian Rose

The vast desert sprawled before Kei, burnt sienna beneath the rising sun. In the distance, derelict buildings of the Old Cities defined the horizon, their dark and splintered silhouettes pointing like daggers at the sky.

Behind her, the city gate clanged shut with a heavy sense of finality. The outer sentries ignored her as she shouldered her supplies—food, water, and the exact number of bullets allowed for intercity travel—and walked toward the stables. Her red cloak dragged in the sand, leaving a path in her wake like a winding snake.

A half-mile out stood a small, hunched figure waiting for her. The faded blue fabric of his robes was drawn up over his face to protect from the stinging wind.

“My driving student,” he said warmly, extending his hand as she approached. “Mister Zhang?”

“Miss,” Kei corrected, taking his hand. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 312: Ten Things Sunil and I Forgot to Prepare for, When Preparing for the Apocalypse


Ten Things Sunil and I Forgot to Prepare for, When Preparing for the Apocalypse

by Shane Halbach

1. We didn’t prepare multiple contingencies

When Sunil and I made our plan, we always thought it would be zombies. I mean, we literally imagined nothing else. It just made sense.

Now that I think about it, there are tons of other ways the world could end: aliens from space, nuclear war, some kind of non-zombie disease, maybe nanobots or something. But even then, I wouldn’t have thought of portals to other worlds. I mean, I literally could not have imagined it. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 311: And Flights of Skuhwiggle


And Flights of Skuhwiggle

by Charles Lee McDaniel

“Hello, children. Quiet down and give me your attention. We have a super-duper treat for you this morning.”

Geez, Nurse Janina was laying it on thick. Jimmy’s hand tightened around the tall stool he held, and his stomach shrank to the size of a raisin.

Why are you worried? the familiar voice inside his head asked.

Because I’ve never done this before, Jimmy thought back.

Excuse me? The gooey green alien perched on Jimmy’s shoulder puffed out its rubbery chest and it squinted its almost-human eyes at him. Have you forgotten how we wowed the crowd at the school talent show? It was only a couple of weeks ago. I know you humans can’t compete with Astrofarians when it comes to memory, but even so…

It’s not that. Jimmy peeked past the curtain hiding him and Skuhwiggle from the rest of the ward. Twenty or so kids looked up at Nurse Janina, drinking in her tale of how Jimmy had supposedly met his alien friend.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 310: Little Wonders 18 – Transformation


A Cradle of Vines

by Jennifer Mace

There’s a plant in the hedgerow whose berries glimmer like starlight. Gyn passes it every morning on her way to school. Its leaves are waxy beneath her hands, small as the new baby’s fingernails and greener than grass stains on knees. They leave her skin smelling of peppermint.

The berries are blacker than midnight, blacker than her new father’s hair, and Gyn first notices them as her mother stops noticing her. They like to hide under hawthorn leaves or in the joints of holly bushes, but their silver shine in the winter sun gives them away. She’s smarter than the blackbirds and the robins. She understands hidden things.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 309: The Moon, the Sun and the Truth

Show Notes

From the author: In January 2017, Dan Rather “tipped his journalist Stetson” to Anderson Cooper. I had a brief fangirl moment in which I imagined them meeting on some desolate hill and nodding stoically at each other. And then I just kept asking myself questions about what that world would look like. Eventually, I found this story, in a very different time and place than its inspiration, with different faces that echoed very similar fears.


The Moon, the Sun, and the Truth

by Victoria Sandbrook

Dust rising over the next scrub-covered hill gave away the rider’s position even before the incoming trash-guzzler’s growl settled around Andy’s ears. She waited as patiently as you could on a jittery horse that didn’t know you well, in sun that’d singe any hint of bare skin.

They’d been waiting an hour. Time enough in the desert to dream up how many ways this data drop could go. Could be this rider had the data chip and she’d be drowning her sorrows at the tavern by sunset. Could be he was a Directorship plant and there would be a gun for her.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 308: Every Drop of Light


Every Drop of Light

by Rachel Delaney Craft

No one ever said no to Grace, because she almost died when she was a baby. That’s why we always did what she wanted to do, even though I was the older sister. That’s why, when we were kids, I followed her into the woods behind the old factory.

We had no business being there. But Grace just giggled as she skipped down the path alongside the eroded creek bank. “Anna, come on!”

I trailed behind her, imagining the knots in the tree trunks melding into stern eyes and puckered mouths. I felt I was in a giant, slow-moving lung: each rustling breeze was a deep breath in, each creaking branch a collective sigh. I felt the place might inhale me and never let me out. (Continue Reading…)