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 332: The Good, the Bad, and the Utahraptor (Dinovember)


The Good, the Bad, and the Utahraptor

by Jennifer Lee Rossman

No one could say for sure exactly when the dinosaurs started appearing outside the little mining town of Hell Creek, nor where they’d come from. Rumors of cattle found dead with long slashes across their hides went back to the 1850s, but the raptors had been showing up more often in the last few decades, even coming into town when food got scarce.

People said they came from under the ground, down from the depths of Hell itself, and that the miners’ dynamite woke ’em up. Rosita’s abuela said they were descended from some kind of feathered lizard god.

Rosita didn’t particularly care about any of that. She just wanted to ride one.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 331: Radio Free Heartland


Radio Free Heartland

by Corey Mallonee

When the car was just a distant cloud of dust above the corn fields I turned to Smoke and told him, “You ought to know I shot someone.”

“We all do things we regret,” he said, without looking up from the circle he was drawing in the dirt. His radio sat in the middle of the circle, tuned to nothing, just a hiss of static. It was made of something he called Bakelite, which I guess is a fancy kind of old plastic. It was brown like it was supposed to look like wood.

“I didn’t say I regret it,” I said.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 329: Widow Bones Makes Her Rounds


Widow Bones Makes Her Rounds

by Gretchen Tessmer

“Brom Bones too, who shortly after his rival’s disappearance conducted the blooming Katrina to the altar, was observed to look exceedingly knowing whenever the story of Ichabod was related, and always burst into a hearty laugh at the mention of the pumpkin, which led some to suspect that he knew more about the matter than he chose to tell.”

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,
by Washington Irving

 

With everything that happened, I don’t know that I would describe myself as blooming. Willing, I suppose, and certainly compliant. But a flower doesn’t need to bloom to be plucked.

After all, pretty is as pretty does, my father used to say. He didn’t say much else and I’m not sure if he meant it as a compliment or an insult. I’ve never really understood the phrase anyway. Are we predisposed to act in certain ways? If so, it would be a relief. My actions turned midnight-moon-macabre some time ago and I’d hate to think it’s all my own failing of character.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 328: Ava Paints the Horses


Ava Paints the Horses

by Ville Meriläinen

It’s late into morning on a Friday, and Ava paints the horses. Her feet are bare despite the season, and she has buried them in a pile of leaves that rustles as she curls her toes in rhythm with her strokes. The scent of hot cocoa wafts up from the mug between her knees, mixing with the smell of summer grass that escapes her painting.

She sits on the porch of her home and sinks herself into her work, so she wouldn’t have to hear how close Mom is to tears when her parents argue about money. It’s a school day in September, but she hasn’t been to class for days. Everyone is understanding of her troubles at home, but no one asks where she would rather be.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 325: The Librarian (Banned Books Week)

Show Notes

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The Librarian

by Maria Haskins

The library hadn’t been there the day before, Ella was sure of it. That patch of dirt beside the rusting piles of spaceship debris outside the refugee camp had been bare, with nothing but weeds and rocks on it. Now, there was a library there. She knew it was a library because it said LIBRARY right on it, painted in glittery letters. The word was spelled out in the twelve most commonly spoken languages and dialects in the camp. Ella recognized them all from school, even if she could only read and understand five of them. .

The building was small and rectangular. It looked like a brightly painted version of one of the metal shipping containers Ella would see at the spaceport when she went there with her friends to scavenge for leavings. Of course, you weren’t supposed to go scavenging there, but everyone did anyway. You could find anything there – scraps of metal and junky electronics for the trader, even food, if you were lucky.

Ella squinted at the library’s sign. She was supposed to come straight home after school, but school had ended early since the power went out, and Pappa wouldn’t notice she was gone until later. And who had ever heard of anyone offering books around here? Better take the chance when it was offered.

Ella opened the door and stepped inside.
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 324: The Sound of Her Voice (Banned Books Week)


The Sound of Her Voice

by Jennifer Hykes

I saw her van as I turned the corner by the convenience store.  It was exactly as I remembered it: the coat of green paint cracked and faded now, but the logo unmistakable.  It was burned into my memory like a brand.

I moved before I even realized my old instincts were kicking in, pressing myself against the brick wall and slowing my breathing so the sound would not give me away.

Every nerve in my body tingled.  I watched. I waited.
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 322: Your Words There for the World to See (Banned Books Week)


Your Words There for the World to See

by Aimee Ogden

The school library doesn’t have the book you want. No surprise there. There are a few dozen volumes on its shelves; plenty of other books are out there in the cloud, but the part of the cloud with your book is partitioned off too. It’s in the Premium Access tier and a Title X school in Ass-Nowhere, Wisconsin is not exactly Premium Access quality. The librarian apologizes for that, but apologies don’t put the words in your hands.
(Continue Reading…)