Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 516: The Cat of Lin Villa


The Cat of Lin Villa

by Megan Chee

I did not care for Mr. Lin, the man who claimed to own the villa that I lived in. But when his new wife moved in, I found her much more agreeable. She came out to the courtyard every evening to give me treats: handfuls of coconut-scented rice, slices of stewed pork, fish steamed with ginger.

In return for the delicacies, I honoured her with my company. When she made nonsensical meowing noises at me, an offensive imitation of cat language, I made the same silly noises back at her. I even permitted her to stroke my fur. I really did spoil her.

She never realized how well I understood human speech, so she told me her secrets unreservedly. Soon I knew everything there was to know about her. I knew she was thought to be very beautiful by human standards. I knew her marriage to Mr. Lin had been a great fortune for her penniless family.

I knew he hit her when he was angry, and he was often angry. (Continue Reading…)

Genres: , ,

Cast of Wonders 515: Little Wonders 36 – Halloween


Interlude

by Christopher Hawkins

“It’s probably just a rash,” my wife said, though I could tell, even then, that she knew it wasn’t true. I could hear it in her voice, the subtle rise at the end that almost made it a question. Her eyes had gone wide, just a little, but the boy never saw it. He was looking up at me with wide eyes of his own, eyes that wanted reassurance. Below them, the tip of his nose burned an angry red, like a pale shoulder left too long in the sun, like a lobster left to boil.

“Probably, yeah,” I told him. “Just don’t scratch at it or you’ll make it worse, okay?” (Continue Reading…)

suffering cyborg

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 514: The Whipping Bot


The Whipping Bot

by Jasinta Jim Langer

The bot lay on the floor, quivering. Occasionally it made an attempt to lift its upper body, a first step to getting up, but before it could get very far, someone would kick it again. A shoe would connect with its shell with a thud and its head would hit the floor with a clunk. The kids didn’t hurt their feet, kicking it. All the metal and hard plastic was covered in rubbery resin so no toes were stubbed and no knuckles bruised. Even the skull was only a little bit harder.

Eventually, most of the children got bored and the group began to disperse down the corridor in twos and threes, some still laughing and joking about the robot’s reactions, some forgetting about it entirely as soon as their backs were turned, chatting about sports and grades and their unbearable homework loads instead. Beren and Cindy stayed back and hurled insults at it some more while it curled up into a fetal position. “Useless chunk of metal”, “weirdo”, “reject”, “victim”, the usual. Finally, the bell rang, Cindy spat at the robot’s back one last time, and they, too, hurried to get to class. The robot whimpered and banged its head against the floor in what looked like frustration. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. Then it went about getting up in its gangly and inelegant way.

It would have been very, very easy to push it over again. Instead, Alej, who had been leaning against the wall, wordlessly watching the whole sorry spectacle, walked next to it as it made its way towards the room where it would sit among the people for whose mistreatment it was made for another two hours. (Continue Reading…)

Genres: , ,

Cast of Wonders 513: Gone Red


Gone Red

by Beverly Aarons

South Seattle — Sunday, August 4, 2080 — 3:00pm
Glimmer Robinson

We done gone Red and I don’t give a fuck. I mean, I give a fuck that me and Moms and Papa, and Lil’Bo is out here on the road to the “you’re for sure fucked zone” but I don’t give a fuck about going Red. Going Red means you still got a beating heart and you ain’t scared to let Zuk know that you’re pissed off, that you’re angry and sad and disappointed and feeling whatever feels they say you ain’t supposed to have under Zuk’s grey-ass skies. And so here we are—Red. Melting our soles on this hot ass concrete for a whole day already. Me and Moms and Papa and Lil’Bo and my neighbors, TJ, Kalli, Ms. Zena, Ray, and all of them I never did get a chance to know too much about, they on this road too. The whole district out here, about two hundred folks, gone Red and walking south on old Highway 5. (Continue Reading…)

Genres: , ,

Cast of Wonders 512: A Full Set of Specials


A Full Set of Specials

by Marguerite Sheffer

I’m not used to holding strangers’ hands, the way Miss Tina is. I don’t like how they go all soft and strange in mine, all vulnerable. Like anyone can walk in the door, their hands in any state, and they just let you touch them. The sharp tang of the remover is everywhere, not covered by the fake floral-smelling lotions at all, just blown around by the hum of the little drying fans. (Continue Reading…)

space athlete

Genres:

Cast of Wonders 511: Wind Settles in the Bones


Wind Settles in the Bones

by Stephen Granade

Syn hated pre-race press conferences. Instead of mentally preparing for competition, she had to smile and answer every media outlet’s repetitive questions. Timm Yancy with One AU especially frustrated her. He unfailingly asked inane human-interest questions like “what did you have for breakfast this morning?” (a magnetocarbonate shake so she could sense magnetic fields, followed by protein-rich cricket bars for the nausea, same as every race day) and “is that a new haircut?” (as if it would be seen under her spacesuit helmet). But Syn hadn’t become the third-ranked solar wind racer by putting off unpleasant tasks, so she called on him first. And that was how Syn learned that her dad had died.

Syn’s teeth ached and her ears hummed from the cameras floating in front of her. Their magnetic fields were a hundred times stronger than the solar wind’s, and the magnetocarbonate made her bones thrum like bass strings plucked too hard. Then Syn realized how long she’d been silent, gaping at Timm. Her media training took over. She offered a sad smile calibrated just so. “It’s hard, but I know he’d want me to focus on the race.” (Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 510: Forbidden Voices


Forbidden Voices

by E.J. Delaney

The package isn’t for me.

Perfectly wrapped, it sits there in its velvet carry box–like a war medal or engagement ring–even its protective layers cushioned against damage. Inside, there lies the holy grail: gold leaf copyright.

And it’s for someone else.

Klent and I are parked in the Primăverii quarter, humble servants to the Haves of this world. Have-Not Couriers, they should call us. Minions to the Upper Crust. None of this Prompt and Personal business.

The rest of Bucharest seems a world away. (Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 509: Far From the Home I Love


Far From The Home I Love

by Y.M. Resnik

“Let me get this straight. You were born on Earth, but your passport is Venusian?”

The condescension seeps through the plexiglass barrier separating me from the visa agent. It blankets me in icy disdain. Chides me for having the chutzpah to think that returning home could be easy.

I nod in the affirmative, trying to still my shaking hands as I retrieve the required documents out of my bag. I’ve followed the instructions meticulously, right down to bringing everything in triplicate. Ari helped me prepare the application. They’ve always been more detail oriented than I am.

The electronic Siddur in my bag grazes my fingers, reminding me why I am here. I pull it out and clutch the worn synthetic leather carrying-case to my chest as the agent shuffles through the paperwork. I am half tempted to recite one of the prayers found inside, but decide against it. What if the visa agent flags it as suspicious behavior? There aren’t many religious Jews on Venus. Ari and I probably make up a quarter of that population.

“Do you at least have your expired passport?” The agent is fumbling now, casting her eyes about frantically as if searching for the lost passport. Well, she can search until the Messiah comes. She won’t find anything. I didn’t have a passport when I fled. (Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 508: The Book That Wasn’t


The Book That Wasn’t

by Sally Sultzman

The school library is as close to a refuge as you get, but the librarian still looks at you like she knows there’s something off about you, and you hate that she might be right.

Then one day, the day, that day, that librarian is gone, replaced by a sub that looks…familiar. But not really, she’s definitely not the kind of person you’ve ever seen in your small town before. And she puts specific books into your hands. Very specific books. The kinds of books you could never ask about out loud, certainly not of the regular librarian because then she’d know she was right about you and tell your parents, and that–you don’t think you’d survive that.

But this librarian sub–old, tall, and imposing with wild white hair and a generous smile–just knows what books other kids also want, but those books are never as…personal as yours are. She gives you kind smiles and says things like, “You’re doing so well, just hold on a little bit longer,” as she gives you another book that you’re not allowed to read, not even allowed to know exists, and it… it helps. (Continue Reading…)

drowning island

Genres: , , ,

Cast of Wonders 507: The Last Auction

Show Notes

Additional Editor’s note: At the time of this episode’s release, the people of Pakistan are struggling with the aftermath of devastating floods. The climate crisis affects all of us, but the brunt of the suffering is often borne by those with limited resources, and those who have contributed least to human-induced climate change.  There are many charities running appeals to provide aid for Pakistan: these are just a few: https://www.dec.org.uk/appeal/pakistan-floods-appeal, https://donate.unhcr.org/int/en/pakistan-floods-emergencyhttps://give2asia.org/pakistan-flood-relief-2022/


The Last Auction

by Abhilash Jayachandra

When the last piece of land that was destined for the ocean was about ready to be swallowed by the waters, the last great auction was held.

The auction was handled by the Land Ho! Auction House (since defunct) and, as such, they were obligated to inform any and all interested parties who might want to participate. It was rumored that they had even dispatched an invite to the underwater town of New Atlantis, where the oldest of the old, those who still remembered the planet before the “Melt” and the “Submerge” still lived with their descendants. But whether the Grand Old Matriarch or any of her sisters would make an appearance or send a representative was not known. (Continue Reading…)

Genres:

Cast of Wonders 506: Little Wonders 35 – Memories of Home


The Past Laid Out On The Table

by Matt Tighe

The sky above his mother’s house is the bright orange and pink of a frozen dawn when David stops by after work.

‘Mum!’ he yells as he slings the grocery bags at the kitchen bench. They slow to a stop in mid-air. A yellow lemon drops out of one bag and spins lazily, nowhere to go. No when to go.

‘Yes, dear?’

“Have you looked out the window?” David says, trying to keep the edge from his voice. He wishes she would just leave the past alone.

“Oh, I’ll put it all back,” she says, and of course she will. She was always good like that. Always the ordered one. Always the careful one.

“Do you have time for a cup of tea?” she asks. (Continue Reading…)

abstract mountain

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 505: And the rain will come from the mountain


And the rain will come from the mountain

by Innocent Chizaram Ilo

For my father and all the stories he told me.

I

This is how Papa paints.

In the evenings, when air collects at people’s feet in chilly, invisible spools, he gathers his painting things to the balcony and sits in front of a rotting canvas. The numb fingers of his right hand grip the paintbrush, and the aluminium paint tray sways on his quivering left palm. Papa starts by making a whorl at the top left edge of the canvas. He twirls and twirls the paintbrush, concocting a riotous mesh of colours. It does not make sense. It does not make sense at all. Mama has always warned me never to disturb Papa when he is painting but I still linger, hiding behind the torn brocade curtain in the parlour. (Continue Reading…)