Archive for Cast of Wonders Originals

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Cast of Wonders 456: Armed With Such Stories, I Roamed Into The Woods


Armed With Such Stories, I Roamed Into The Woods

by Evan Marcroft

Never trust a wolf’s promise, Atticus, my mother once told me. Remember the tale of Smiling John and Baron Icepelt. They lie between fangs, and their promises will only ever lead you into their belly. She was full of such morsels of wisdom. There was a fable for every lesson I should know. Not all pertained to talking wolves, but this was most relevant to my task. Remember how Smiling John escaped. If you should find a wolf at your heels, throw meat behind you. Wolves are clever but lazy creatures. They will stop for the easier meal.

Armed with such stories, I roamed into the woods to save her life. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 454: The Fairy Queen


The Fairy Queen

by Lynn Buchanan

She made the first fairy by accident, with a twig she found under a hawthorn tree. It was a stick possessing the general shape of a human, with offshoots that resembled arms and legs, and a knot she called a head. Sitting in the shade of the tree, she wrapped a bit of twine around the twig’s torso, tearing off a piece of thread from the cuff of her sleeve and decorating the “arms” in tight white lines. With a ribbon pulled from her hair she clothed the stick, folding the silk into a tunic tied at the back with a bow. For hair she picked up a strand of leaves from the grass beside her, fastening the stem down the slope of the wooden face with three pieces of her own hair, pulled with a jerk and grimace from her skull and braided into a cord the color of sunsets. Last of all she attached to the twig’s back a set of butterfly wings, collected earlier that day from a trip to the garden. (Continue Reading…)

Barn owl at night

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Cast of Wonders 453: Langsuir


Langsuir

by Nadia Mikail

The langsuir is a woman who has died giving birth. Malay folktales have a multitude of women featured as wrathful, devious spirits: the hantu kum-kum thrives on the blood of virgin girls, desperate to maintain her youth even in death; the hantu kopek lures men to cheat on their wives, jealous that their afterlife contains no husband of their own; the pontianak goes after the people who have wronged her, tearing out their organs.

People usually shake their heads, they think: oh, well, that is the envious, terrible nature of Eve. Personally I think it is more how humans are treated in life that influences how they behave in death, and in this culture the women are angrier than most. (Continue Reading…)

magic butterflies

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Cast of Wonders 452: Little Wonders 29 – Flash Fiction Contest Winners


Porch Light for the Lonely

by Alyson Grauer

When the wide western sky is black, embroidered with thousands of silver stars, and crickets sing unseen in the dry grass, critters come to the porch of the old house. The rug has long since lost its color from years of harsh sun. The wrought-iron bench is rusted, enamel flaking away like tree bark. The mailbox is crooked, and the torn curtains blow gently in the wind. Though it’s the sturdiest house left on the block, it sits unlived in, untrespassed. Only the flies and spiders know how empty it truly is inside.

Many cats come: strays, abandoned pets, and feral. They drape themselves about the empty porch, meowing with quiet yearning. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 451: Unnamed


Unnamed

by Monte Lin

Huìhuì Gāo’s homeroom teacher squinted at his roll call. He wore a slight smile that conveyed no joy. After a few seconds, he said, “Ms…?”

Her hand hovered over her desk, hesitant, ready to catch her name. Her teacher squinted and furrowed his brow and looked about the classroom, finally settling his gaze on her. “Here,” she said, her voice cracking a little. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 246: Old Teacups and Kitchen Witches

Show Notes

Theme music “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


Old Teacups and Kitchen Witches

by Kate Baker

On the night my grandfather died, we all sat around his kitchen table and marveled at how he’d been able to raise six kids in such a tiny house. While creative with the cramped living space, one bathroom seemed to be enough despite the hustle to get to school and work in the mornings. Especially as children grew into teenagers and time preening before the mirror was at a premium.

There is chaos that comes with illness and death, yet despite piles of unopened mail and neglected dishes and floors, my eyes lingered on the subtle touches that made this house a home. Especially in this kitchen. A wooden hutch still held the “good” glass and dinnerware that my grandparents cherished and thought to protect. Pots and pans of every shape, size, and color hung from racks and peeked out from crowded cabinets. And despite a very thin layer of dust, the spice rack stood at the ready for whatever recipe came along.

My eyes scanned old photographs that hung on the wall and came to rest on a scene of a large family. In all the time I had spent visiting my grandparents, I never remembered seeing this one. Dressed in warm clothes, four kids stared ahead not quite sure what to make of the photographer. No smiles, save for the fifth little girl who looked like my grandmother. She couldn’t have been more than six, and her smile was directed at a very ugly doll that rested in her hands. Someone had written “1943” on the lower left corner which only intrigued me more. I was about to push my chair away to take a closer look when conversation erupted around me.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 243: The Tentacles Never Lie

Show Notes

Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


The Tentacles Never Lie

By J.W. Alden

In Connie’s line of work, you had to massage the truth from time to time. A stretch here, a bend there–even human clients expected a fib or two at the negotiation table. But when trading with the Hygoelus, you always lied. It just made things easier.

“My friends,” she said to the hygos across the table, who were not her friends, “you won’t regret this deal. One day, when you’re bouncing great-grandspawn on your knee-like appendages, still in perfect health in your august years, you and your people will look back on this meeting and thank me.”

Their forehead tentacles shifted to the left and became a deep shade of purple, standing out against the pink translucence of their skin. Appreciation. “We shall not wait so long, Connie of GalactiCorp,” their leader said through the tinny voice of a translator. “We thank you now. We are always honored to do business with your mighty race. We hope your government will keep our continued partnership in mind as development continues on their Baryonic Synchrotron superweapon.”

“Now, now, Dthlrap.” Connie held her hands up, palms outward. “I’ll try to put in a good word, but I can’t speak for the government. You’ll have to take it up with them. I’m merely a humble salesperson.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 242: Little Wonders 11: Flash Fiction Contest Finalists

Show Notes

All three stories are Cast of Wonders originals!


The Little Wonders theme, “Neversus” is by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


Multiple Choice

By Anica Lewis

“Welcome to the Starlight Watch,” says Flashback.

Red Diamond pops a thumbs-up. The Ocelot gives me what is probably a friendly growl. Statica pumps her fist in the air and grins, her edges blurring slightly.

I grin back. “Thanks, guys!” I’m burning up with excitement. I’m joining the Watch! My absolute favorite super-squad! I couldn’t believe it when the Superhero Registration Office assigned me to replace Quantum, may he rest in peace.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 241: Mr. Quacky in Space (Artemis Rising 3)

Show Notes

Illustration by Mat Weller. Artemis Rising logo designed by Scott Pond.


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


Mr. Quacky in Space

by Amanda Helms

At least Mr. Quacky hadn’t maimed anyone. If Olivia went by her predecessor’s logs, it was only a matter of time.

She pulled her rabbit-ear hat over her head–It helps you blend with the scenery, Vivian, the ship’s entertainment director, had told her–and waited for the guests to evacuate Mr. Quacky’s Splash Zone, the collection of three kiddie pools located on the Space Farm Deck. A few hobby-horse-sized mini-steamducks–the Quacklings–bobbed in the farthest pool. The wall screens played loops of a marsh featuring cartoonish, wide-eyed birds, rabbits, and deer that gamboled and giggled and, worst of all, joined wing to paw to hoof to sing songs about the power of friendship.

Olivia had served as the steam-tronics engineer for Space Adventure! Centripetal Space Station (proud affiliate of Pulsar Integrated Media and Entertainment) for barely ten cycles, and already she had the damn songs memorized.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 240: Cross The Street (Artemis Rising 3)

Show Notes

Illustration by Mat Weller. Artemis Rising logo designed by Scott Pond.


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


Cross the Street

by Marie Vibbert

I was on the sofa, wallowing in self-pity and blankets, when my sister answered the door.

“Sadie, honey,” old Mr. Smith said from the hallway, “I beg your pardon. So sorry for your loss, again, but are you going to cross the street soon?  It’s just that I haven’t had anything to eat since Thursday.”

Now, I was sitting in the exact same spot the day before when Sadie gave him a can of beans after he said the exact same words, but Sadie just smiled and spoke receptionist-polite to him.  “I’ll have to ask my momma, Mr. Smith, but I’m sure it’ll be soon.”

“Bless you,” he said, and I saw her take a wrinkled paper from him and tuck it in her back pocket.  Chances were it had a dozen items written on it and not enough dollars by half folded inside. We’d have to guess where to cut it off to have some money for our fee, and he’d complain like he’d paid enough for twice as much.  And then bless us.

Mr. Smith raised his wrinkled old chin and, in a voice of practiced outrage, said, “Cars should stop for people.  We made them, not the other way around.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 239: Hackers’ Faire (Artemis Rising 3)

Show Notes

Illustration by Mat Weller. Artemis Rising logo designed by Scott Pond.


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


Hackers’ Faire

by Rati Mehrotra

Some jerk in a speeding racer had wrecked Tiya’s cat. I was all for recycling its remains, but Tiya would have none of it. She wept until I gave in and promised to get it fixed at Hacker’s Faire.

I’d sworn not to go back there, not unless our lives depended on it. Everything at the Faire has a price, and I had little left to sell or barter. I had optioned my useful parts years ago, before I met Hanna and settled down – if squatting in an abandoned warehouse with eight other families can be called settling. Anyway, I had left my old life behind, and I kept quiet about my Truthtelling skills.

But Tiya’s our youngest and I couldn’t bear to see her cry. So I dusted my drum, slung it on my back and told her not to worry. “If Mama asks,” I said, “tell her I’m at the greenhouse.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 238: The Absolute Temperature of Outer Space (Artemis Rising 3)

Show Notes

Illustration by Mat Weller. Artemis Rising logo designed by Scott Pond.


Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


The Absolute Temperature of Outer Space

by Xander M. Odell

Dwanda watches her dad bound across the lunar landscape and shivers inside her jacket.  The Moon lifts him higher than anyone on Earth could jump and sets him gently down again, a kangaroo in a space suit.  Sunlight flashes bright white across his helmet.  She chooses not to notice the ragged tear down the right side of his bulky suit, or the way she can see through him to the gray, airless expanse beyond.

The shuttleport crowd paces around the clear observation dome to make room for their excitement and boredom.  They talk softly amongst themselves or watch the swarm of service bots making a final safety check on the shuttle Io.  A few browse the souvenir stands for last minute gifts or keepsakes from their lunar vacation.

Her mom settles beside Dwanda on the couch.  “Brought you some cocoa.”
(Continue Reading…)