Archive for Episodes

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Cast of Wonders 526: La Puerta (Staff Picks 2022)


La Puerta

by Ren Braueri

La puerta siempre estaba abierta. Just in case Javier ever came back.

But let me not begin there, because…if I started there – I’d have to tell you how it was all my fault. Instead, let me start with the day Papá brought La Puerta home. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 525: And I Will Make Thy Name Great (Staff Picks 2022)


And I Will Make Thy Name Great

by Louis Evans

Abraham, the potter’s son, was sweeping out the workshop late one night, the air hot, the sweat beading on his brow, the kiln still radiating the baking heat it had absorbed over the course of the day.

This was when he heard the voice.

“Boy!”

Abraham looked around.

No source of the voice was apparent. No person had stepped into the shed, nor were the flames of a djinn visible. Four copies of the idol of Suen, god of the moon and chief among gods, were cooling on the shelf opposite the kiln, and sometimes Suen spoke to believers, but the idols were not yet consecrated and certainly could not host the presence of the god. No raven perched in the workshop’s eaves, croaking out an imitation of speech. Abraham was baffled. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 524: Forbidden Voices (Staff Picks 2022)


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…)

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Cast of Wonders 523: A Full Set of Specials (Staff Picks 2022)


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…)

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Cast of Wonders 522: Ysarin (Staff Picks 2022)


Ysarin

by Simon Pan

On days when I came home crying, my grandmother was always there with her song.

It was a tune friendly and old as the roads that crossed Mazael: the sort you shared while you watched the land roll away on horseback, or sitting at a moonlit fireside among familiar faces. I would lean against my grandmother on our rickety porch and breathe in her scent as she sang to the street.

Magic lay in that song, the notes so delicate you could tell a story about each one. As the beginning strands of music twined together, I would be transported to a place that let me forget the ache in my chest, a city of an entirely different skin than our Lenniel. A place of worn streets and thatched roofs wrapped in the smell of woodsmoke and fresh ale. A sunset, a fire, the sky on fire and the streets ablaze with torchlight.

“This is our song, dear,” she would say as she smiled down at me. “Don’t listen to the other children. We will always have our home with us…” Her fingers would press against my chest just above my heart. Somehow she knew the exact place where her spell took root. “Here.”

Even after so many years, that is how I think of home. Sitting there on that porch with the wind stealing my tears and carrying away the sound of magic. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 521: Wind Settles in the Bones (Staff Picks 2022)


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…)

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Cast of Wonders 520: Shrine to the Ink Goddess (Staff Picks 2022)


Shrine to the Ink Goddess

by Monte Lin

Dana Liu took her weekly ten-minute walk to what she called the Shrine to the Ink Goddess. Stepping through the copse of trees that separated the apartment complex and the storm channel, she arrived at a large, hollowed-out eucalyptus tree, split into three parts ages ago from a lightning bolt. She ducked down and sat in the middle, placing an empty inkstone next to her, and took out a beat-up metal food container with a warm zòngzi, the twine still tightly wrapped around the bamboo leaves. With her multi-tool, she snapped the knife through the twine, unfurling the leaves. She grimaced at the soggy bottom (microwaving never seemed to heat them right).

“Ahem. You know you shouldn’t be here, Dana.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 519: Far From the Home I Love (Staff Picks 2022)


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…)

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Cast of Wonders 518: Simons, Far and Near (Staff Picks 2022)


Simons, Far and Near

by Ana Gardner

Days after a solar hurricane fried Western Europe, nations across the world gathered their brightest grade-schoolers, and they launched us into space with promises of glory and cake.

Solar storms were worsening ahead of schedule, said government men in wrinkled suits, as they pulled us from our underground shelters and stuffed us into armored tanks. The exodus ships, forced to launch early, weren’t ready to sustain endless space travel. They’d need places to land, shelters for their thousands of passengers, far from our ever-deadlier sun.

And someone had to travel on ahead and build those shelters.

Fortunately, we learned as we marched up the launch ramp, Earth had a few shuttles ready for immediate departure. Sure, they had poor radiation shields and leaky engines, but wouldn’t you know it? Shuttle travel damaged the body worst after puberty. Kids had great odds of surviving a trip across the solar system.

‘Great odds’—those were the words they used, and they loaded us into hastily-cobbled ships and chucked us from burning Earth like spores from a coughing fungus. (Continue Reading…)

a purple door

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Cast of Wonders 517: La Puerta


La Puerta

by Ren Braueri

La puerta siempre estaba abierta. Just in case Javier ever came back.

But let me not begin there, because…if I started there – I’d have to tell you how it was all my fault. Instead, let me start with the day Papá brought La Puerta home. (Continue Reading…)

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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…)

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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…)