Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

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Cast of Wonders 382: No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak


No Matter Where; Of Comfort No One Speak

by Kate Baker

Tucked behind the cracks in the plaster and the peeling, wallpaper print, we watch you draw a blade. You stand in the kitchen, holding the steel in your right hand. A finger slides down the sharp edge, testing its strength as you do calculations in your head. The slow creep of a smile indicates you are happy with your choice. Drawn away in visions to the future, everything is interrupted by a quick slip and slice as you drop the knife. We notice the dribble of blood, a bead welling at the tip, inviting a hungry mouth. You bring the cut to your lips and suck on it a moment and then examine the depth.

No stitches required. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 378: Banned Books Week – Common Grounds and Various Teas


Common Grounds & Various Teas

by Sherin Nicole

Mama’s fingernails are mesmerizing. They’re black and shiny as volcanic glass but not polished. Her skin is a deeper shade than North Carolina red clay, and her hair is pulled up high in two top knots. Long dreadlocks cascade down over both her ears. If she’s older than thirty  no one can tell. Right now, I’m giving her serious side eye. She won’t stop blabbering and babbling and telling her grifter tales.

“I told that man, you cannot sell me this bucket on wheels. It’s beneath me,” she says in an accent as brown as her skin. “He didn’t like that. Now, rather than me convincing him, he’s convincing me to lower the price. ‘Til I have mercy, I take this car from him for $45 and I let him buy the beers.”

I huff and turn away from her. “Can you stop now?” I mumble.

“I could,” Mama says, like she’s sharing secrets, “but I could also be swallowed and spit back out as something flavorless.” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 377: Banned Books Week – This Is Not A Ghost Story


This Is Not a Ghost Story

by V. Medina

In the darkness of her bedroom, after her mother has gone to bed and she’s supposed to have done the same, she tells stories to the ghosts. She would do more for them but they never ask for anything else and she doesn’t know what more to do. They listen, gentle whispers all around her, urging her to continue, begging her for a few more words, just a little more of her time. They crave the stories she has to offer them and even when she is young, she feels the pull of narrative against her bones.

The ghosts are kind in their need, not pushing or screaming but quietly pleading, and she was not raised to deny anyone. She is the quiet kid, the good girl, the sweetheart. She knows her role, and it doesn’t matter what she wants because everyone already knows who she is before she ever gets the chance to show them.

People look at her, see the way she moves, the white cane in her hand, the way she holds books so close to her face. They all think they know her story, even before she says a word. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 376: Banned Books Week – The Ways of Walls and Words


The Ways of Walls and Words

by Sabrina Vourvoulias

Solitreo

“If it were not for Thee, what would become of me?”

She’s not speaking to me when she says this. Her poetry nests behind a prison’s walls. I am an unknown noise on the other side of her door—the only spot where sound enters or exits her world—a sweep of bristle against wood, some transitory trace of life that has nothing to do with her.

She and her people are in cells lined along a corridor in the deepest reaches of the convent. On occasion the mentally disturbed have been kept here, tended to and made safe by walls so thick they are more than an arm’s length. These people, however, are all one family: a mother; an adult son; four older daughters; and this one, who has spent nearly half her life in here.

That was all the information the Dominican Brothers shared with me the day I started. Except that I must not attempt to speak to the girl or her family through their doors. The Brothers made me swear this before I swept even one stone.

In the language I share with jailer and jailed, my name is Bienvenida, though my Nahuatl name is different. By the Brothers’ reckoning, it has been 1,562 years since the death of God. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 375: Banned Books Week – Reclaiming Our Narratives


Our Skin Will Now Bear the Testimonies

by Innocent Chizaram Ilo

“Nduka, you better hurry or you’ll be late for school! Your breakfast is getting cold and you know you don’t like when curds form in your pap!” Aniele calls from the kitchen.

“Yes Mama,” Nduka answers from his bedroom.

The boy tiptoes to the door and gently bolts it before unbuttoning his school shirt. He stands in front of the mirror and looks at the string of words that snails along his belly. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 374: Take Heart (Part 2 of 2)


Take Heart (continued)

by Claire Eliza Bartlett

The break had been clean and would heal up nicely. That was the good news. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 373: Take Heart (Part 1 of 2)


Take Heart

by Claire Eliza Bartlett

Magdalena perched on the edge of a flimsy folding chair, fingers knotted. The overseer’s office reverberated with the movement of the factory: a steady, pounding rhythm that made up the heartbeat of the city of Tammin. She focused on the way the inkwell trembled, rather than on the overseer behind the desk. The woman who held Magdalena’s past—and immediate future—in her hands.

The overseer wore a severe blonde bun, a high-collared dress, and a frown. She leaned over and lit a gas lamp on the desk with a flash of spark magic from her fingers, pushed aside the little sign that said Mrs. Vorona, and held Magdalena’s papers up to the light.

“I see why Mrs. Uchenka recommended you,” Mrs. Vorona said at last. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 372: Little Wonders 22 – #FantasyWorldProblems

Show Notes

“Whatever the Price” and “The Supervisor of Accountants and the Great Grey Wolf” are original to Cast of Wonders (2019)

“An Evil Opportunity Employer” was originally published in Unidentified Funny Objects 6, edited by Alex Shvartsman (2017)


Whatever the Price

by Matthew Bailey

The road to defeating an evil Corpse Lord is long, the oracle had told me, but it always starts with proper financing.

With a deep breath, I stepped into the Rootbridge Savings and Loan praying I wouldn’t have to sully my honor. Knowing I would, if it came to it. One way or another, I was getting what I came for–whatever the price.

At least the place wasn’t as imposing as the larger, marble-hewn banks I’d already tried back in the capital. Banks that would laugh at anyone without their own personal standard and at least one hornblower. Banks that existed solely to help those who already had money make more of it. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 369 – Glass Gardens


Glass Gardens

by Y. M. Pang

I was the eldest daughter, so I knew I was doomed.

The youngest marries the prince. The youngest saves the kingdom. The youngest is immortalized in song. I told myself I didn’t mind missing those things. I didn’t want princes, or kingdoms, or songs. I was happy being the wicked one.

If only I knew a single story–just one–where the wicked sister won. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 368 – If Only a Word for All Things


If Only a Word for All Things

by Jameyanne Fuller

I hunched my shoulders and leaned closer to the automatic ticket machine. I punched in the date and time with tense fingers, chose the train I wanted, and stuffed some crumpled Euros into the slot. At any moment a carabiniere would take one look at me, know I was somewhere I shouldn’t be, and march me right onto the train back to Assisi. But I wasn’t running away, not really. I was going to Paris to find Maman and bring her home. We needed her home. Her and her magic words. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 367: The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections (Part 2 of 2)

Show Notes

Many thanks to associate editor Alexis Goble for the episode photograph!


The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections (continued)

by Tina Connolly

Rose-Pepper Shortbread of Sweetness Lost

She and Danny have been married for three years now. The bakery has picked up, now that they are offering a few unusual items right alongside the daily bread. There is still no baby, but they are happy with their bakery and their work, and they do not mind—too much. Danny bakes and she assists, Danny invents and she assists. But she does not mind that either, for she has found her own calling at the front of the shop, and it is matching people with the right pastry.

There is an art to knowing what people need. Oh, they would all take the flatbread if they could, but do they need it? (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 366: The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections (Part 1 of 2)

Show Notes

Many thanks to associate editor Alexis Goble for the episode photograph!

Benjamin C. Kinney’s Smell, Taste and Emotion #NeuroThursday


The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections

by Tina Connolly

Saffron takes her customary place at the little round table on the dais of the Traitor King. Duke Michal, Regent to the Throne is his official title, but the hand-drawn postered sheets, the words whispered in back alleys all nickname him the same. She smiles warmly at the assembled guests, standing poised and waiting by their chairs, ready for the confections and amuse-bouches that have been a mainstay of the high table for the last year.

Saffron has been Confection Taster all that time, her husband Danny Head Pastry Chef. Their warm smiles have been perfected as the Traitor King’s power grows, inch by inch, as those who object to his grasp fail and fall, as the printers are vanished, as the daughters disappear from their homes. The little prince still sleeps in his nursery—but for how long? That is the question on everyone’s mind in the last year. Not a question uttered, but a question that stays poised on the tongue, and does not fall. (Continue Reading…)