Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

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Cast of Wonders 398: Staff Picks 2019 – Take Heart


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.

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Cast of Wonders 393: Staff Picks 2019 – Soul Cleaver Clarence

Show Notes

Matthew told us, “This story began life as a PodCastle flash fiction contest entry. While it only made it to the semi-finals, Katherine Inskip commented that she’d love to see a longer version submitted to Cast of Wonders. Armed with this encouragement, I worked to fill out the characters, their struggles, and a plot. It took a fair amount of feedback and editing, but I was delighted that the finished story was one that Cast of Wonders was interested in publishing!”


SOUL CLEAVER Clarence

by Matthew J. Jarvis

“My dear dragon,” the princess announced as she held aloft Clarence’s topaz windflower, its gemstone petals glinting beautifully in the sun. “These are, without doubt, the finest sculptures in all the land!” Around him the humans attending the faire clapped enthusiastically. “State your name, dragon, and ask any favor in my power to grant, for you have truly won first prize.”

Clarence glowed with pride. “My name is–“

“SOUL CLEAVER!”

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Cast of Wonders 391: Staff Picks 2019 – Why I Spared the One Brave Soul Between Me and My Undead Army


Why I Spared the One Brave Soul Between Me and My Undead Army

by Setsu Uzume

I am loathe to admit that the ambush was masterful. Not only had the bounty hunters slain my contacts, but they had done so in the right order — dispatching the Ritualist before she had any corpses to animate. Had I come on horseback, they would have had me, too.

In addition to my dead allies and their hobbled wagon, I counted four hunters lumbering through the dark. Big lads, experienced and well-equipped, but given the style of their breastplates they had come from the west — tracking the cultists and not me. It made them slow and ill-prepared to face me in my glory. I whirled, my shadow splitting off to pierce kidneys and slice the backs of their knees while I led them a merry dance through dead leaves and bracken. One of them even turned, his blade slashing a wide arc, but shadows have no heads to remove. Him, I killed the quickest.

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episode art - desert snow, for Luchadora

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Cast of Wonders 389: Luchadora


Luchadora

by Melissa Mead

When Alejandra was nine, her mother died of dehydration. When she was ten, Alejandra made her father bring her to the Luchadores’ barracks. The three ancient wizards who would choose the boy who would become the next Luchador weren’t pleased. They almost sent Alejandra’s father to the hellstone mines, where men died with their limbs charred black. Then Alejandra marched up to the eldest of the Magos, the one in flame-red silk, and demanded that he make the bull-man stop waking her up at night. The other two Magos, in silk as gold as the sun and as blue as the sky, gasped. The first wizard scowled.

“What do you mean, child?”

“The bull with the man-face. He came when Mama died. He comes in the dark, and whispers to me.” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 388: The First, the Second, the Third


The First, the Second, the Third

by Katherine Kendig

In the winter, the mornings are colder inside than out. Lily sings at the window, her voice wending its way toward the barn, the willow grove, the creek, as pure as the snow it floats over. Her breath frosts as she sings, her gaze fixed on the horizon where the church is the only part of town we can see. Margot huddles in bed, her hair tousled over her face, shivering. Margot has never been able to stand the cold. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 386: Encore! Cosmetic Procedures


Cosmetic Procedures

by Desmond Warzel

When I became a private investigator, it wasn’t for excitement, or for money. The work is humdrum, and whatever noir romanticism the profession ever actually had is long gone (though I’ve got a raincoat, a fedora, and a dusty bottle of scotch in the closet, just in case they’re called for). As for money, there isn’t much–and I don’t need it anyway. I’m a dilettante, and utterly unashamed of it. (Continue Reading…)

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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…)