Genres:

Cast of Wonders 469: What If We Remembered?


What If We Remembered?

by Amadin Ogbewe

“Osi, my boy, you’ve got it all wrong. Magic is simply physics with a soul,” Epa Osadolor said to his audience of one, gesturing dramatically, his eyes wide.

Osi’s eyes and mouth were just as wide, his little face frozen in anticipation. His breath stilled. He knew better than to interrupt Epa Osadolor in the middle of a lesson, but found he couldn’t help himself.

“What is Physics?” he asked, unable to hold back.

“Oh, yes, I suppose it’s still elementary science to you,” Epa Osadolor said, snapping abruptly out of character. He scratched his puffy beard as he looked at the boy.

“How best to explain this?” he pondered aloud. (Continue Reading…)

Genres:

Cast of Wonders 468: On the Tip of Her Tongue


On the Tip of Her Tongue

by Ember Randall

The days when new books arrived were Aquila’s favorite. Watching them rustle as she welcomed them, hearing their excitement and calming their fears. It was the best part of her job as Archivist of the Library of Gaia.

Tonight, she had almost two score new arrivals, all arrayed in a half-circle in front of the pool dominating the atrium. Their pages glowed under the light of the massive crystal light-globe resting in that pool. Mutters written in the smell of ink and the susurration of parchment rose from them, curious and nervous—Aquila, though not fluent in the language of books, could understand that much.

She ran her fingers over her communicator, a fine piece of parchment stretched inside a wooden frame. The copper backing it sparked as library magic filled it with words and symbols for her to choose from, and her fingers danced. “Welcome, all of you,” the communicator declared in a lilting voice. “I’m…”

The parchment went blank. A split second later, the light-globe in the pool flickered out, plunging the room into darkness. Moonlight poured in from the skylight above, turning the shallow pool silver, but its light couldn’t banish the shadows stretching out from the rows of bookshelves lining the walls. (Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 467: They Shall Find Home Once More


They Shall Find Home Once More

by Chelsea Obodoechina

The body is hidden beneath the yam plants. I did not see him the first couple of hours I toiled in the field, reaping the potatoes and cassava while watering the rest. I hesitated to draw near the yam plants, knowing they were slowly rotting in the ground, the once fertile soil growing black and knotted and putrid. The other farmers till the fields around this patch of land because to touch it would mean certain death. Many of us have been lost because of it.

I skim the sick land to uproot vegetables whose roots may have been poisoned. That is when I come across the boy. (Continue Reading…)

Genres: , ,

Cast of Wonders 466: Badass Neon Sparkle Powers


Badass Neon Sparkle Powers

by Cara DiGirolamo

There’s a fine line between getting shit done and eating it. I’d crossed that line.

I’d spotted Mr. Khaki Shorts, Mr. Popped Collar, and Little Miss Ugg Boots weaving and laughing on their way out of the Blue Moon. It looked like nothing really, undergrads joking around, but the body language felt a little off. When Khaki Shorts pressed Ugg Boots into the brick of the darkened shoe store, and she cried out, I figured I’d say hi.

I never planned my heroing gig. I didn’t roam around in a mask and spandex or anything. But I work closing at a pizzeria in the heart of Collegetown, and walking to the bus stop at three, four am, you see things.

All heroing is, is just not walking by. (Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 465: In Real Time


In Real Time

by Avra Margariti

The kites frozen across the sky dapple the lawn like stained glass. Human statues dot the park, caught mid-motion: picnicking, dog-walking, sun-bathing. They might have been unnerving, once. Now, the utter stillness and silence soothes me like nothing else. In Frozen Time, scents are amplified tenfold. Grass, flowers, sugar. I drop a few coins into a vendor’s tip jar, then fill a clear bag with candy worms, chewing as I stroll down the small hill.

When a shape weaves between the stationary people, I think it’s only an optical illusion. A vase, two faces, now a vase again.

I blink, and the silhouette has drawn closer. It belongs to a kid not much younger than me in appearance, although there’s really no way to tell with people like us, who know how to manipulate time. The kid nods at me, casual like we’re meeting in the street and not in a frozen world, then steals a fistful of my candy.

“Who are you?” I ask once my tongue unglues itself from my palate. (Continue Reading…)

Genres: , ,

Cast of Wonders 464: Cats of Fortune


Cats of Fortune

by Ivy Grimes

When I was a little girl, I thought Aunt Dee had everything. She had her own trailer, a video game console and six games, dozens of heavy pink-and-purple necklaces, and a yard full of cats. Ten, to be exact. They were all different colors, like the shoes in a rich woman’s closet, and they drank water from the birdbath and ate kibble from old pie tins. Best of all, Dee had a secret she shared only with me—the cats were lucky. (Continue Reading…)

Genres:

Cast of Wonders 463: Loving the Falls


Loving the Falls

by Marie Vibbert

I was in love with falling water. If I stared at a waterfall long enough, it pulled me to jump in. I could read the signs about sharp rocks and imagine the looks of disapproval that warned me against it, but I was always going to give in some day. I did, in my senior year of high school, during the spring flood. The vitality of the river was over-the-top, the surface all surge and deft scoops. I imagined it’d be like sliding on silk, or caramel, or running my body over God’s six-pack abs.

It wasn’t.

The impact hurt; rock cracked my butt like the water wasn’t there, and then I was breathing water, sputtering. I panicked and flailed, realizing I’d made a terrible mistake. My love was unrequited, leaving me nothing but a slush of pebbles and twigs and the slick-as-snot bottom. No glorious view of the edge, no anticipation, no acceptance. There was a brief moment of stomach-less-ness, and then I hit a wall of concrete and died. (Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 462: Straw-Spun


Straw Spun

by Leah Cypess

‭Alina unfolded the letter slowly and with great care:‭ ‬it was very old,‭ ‬and‭ ‬felt thin and fragile under her steady fingertips.‭ ‬Her heart was pounding in a way unfamiliar to her,‭ ‬and not just because of the whispers she had heard on the way to the throne room:‭ ‬gold to straw from two passing courtiers,‭ ‬the end of‭ ‬the peace from a duke to a lady,‭ ‬Rumpelstiltskin‭ – ‬she hadn’t turned fast enough to see who’d said that.

She had come to the‭ ‬sitting room to ask her father about the whispers,‭ ‬but‭ ‬before she could say a word,‭ ‬he had handed her the letter.‭ ‬She smoothed out the last fold and‭ ‬focused on the ornate,‭ ‬flowing script‭ ‬so similar to her own.

The king was watching her.‭ ‬She‭ ‬composed her face and read. (Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 461: Factory Mother


Factory Mother

by Sid Jain

The mushroom mycelia sundering in the pale, hot fermentation medium reminded Hanifa of her apartment building melting in Old Delhi: when concrete flowed like lava and spilled her life onto the streets.

“Hani, you with me?”

Hani blinked twice. “Yes, Gary.”

She stepped away from the sightglass, away from her memories. She was here, now, contained by the blistered grey walls of Mycagen Foods, in Durham, North Carolina. Here, the air didn’t slough the skin off newborns in their crib.

Gary, her night shift supervisor, rapped on his handheld tablet with his four fingers impatiently. “We don’t have all night, Hanifa.”

Well, Gary, she thought, learn to wait as I have. I’ve been waiting to be American for years. We all have our vigils to keep. (Continue Reading…)

Genres:

Cast of Wonders 460: More Than One Zodiac in High School


More Than One Zodiac in High School

by Eliza Chan

“You were supposed to be a boy,” Amy’s mum said, attacking the raw duck with a cleaver. “The fortune teller said it was guaranteed. Aiyah, even then you don’t listen to your parents.” She tossed one half into an oven dish with a dash of salt, star anise, and cloves. Rice wine and soy sauce were massaged into the skin. And all the while, the other half was being surreptitiously dragged off the countertop by Amy’s dragon.

Her mum pushed the huge beast out of the way. “And born in the year of the dragon! Okay for a boy, but for a girl… no husband will want you! Too much fire to bear sons and every meal will be burned.” She clucked, exactly like her chicken spirit: tutting, fussing, and happiest when she had something to worry about. (Continue Reading…)

10th birthday image

Genres: , ,

Cast of Wonders 459: Ten Years of Wonder


With so many episodes to choose from, how can we possibly decide on what to pick as our birthday encore story?

Marguerite’s favourite episode of all time is Kulturkampf by Anatoly Belilovsky, narrated by Hans Fenstermacher – we released this as an encore story, in episode 360.

Mine — at least this week — is episode 381, The Lie Misses You by John Wiswell, narrated by Athena Haq.

Jeremy, our long-suffering audio producer, would choose the marvellous Why I Spared the One Brave Soul Between Me and my Undead Army, by Summer Fletcher, narrated by Katherine Inskip – this was episode 355, and a staff pick for 2019.

However, the story we’ve chosen to highlight today is our founding editor Graeme Dunlop’s selection:

(Continue Reading…)

10th birthday image

Ten Years of Wonder – III


Continuing on from the previous post, here are our spotlight stories from the last five years of Cast of Wonders!

Year 6

Our back catalogue story for year 6 is one of my all time favourites, Mr Quacky in Space by Amanda Helms, narrated by Katherine Inskip. A sinister, demonic alien force possesses a mechanical… duck? In a space station amusement park? This story was a sheer delight to narrate, and it’s one I come back to time and time again.

Our editor’s pick is Blood and Water by Jason Kimble, narrated by Paul Cram. This is a gorgeous, gorgeous teen romance. Bring tissues for this one – it’s an absolute masterclass in grabbing the reader by “the feels”.

(Continue Reading…)