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Cast of Wonders 93: Little Wonders 2

Show Notes

This episode marks the second time Cast of Wonders has aired poetry. Our first was the excellent Eggs Under Moon from Episode 29, where three different narrators brought you their interpretation of the one poem.


Golly

by Laura DeHaan

A girl and a boy stood at opposite ends of a clearing in the woods. As the girl’s family lived nearby, and she felt it was therefore her clearing, she spoke first. “What’s your name?”

He was a handful of years older than her, with knees and elbows and eyebrows he’d eventually grow into. “Raff,” he said. “What’s yours?”

“Goldilocks,” she said, and looked it.

“That’s a dumb name,” he announced without deliberation. “I can’t take you serious with a name like that.” Indignation made her sputter. He went on carelessly, “Want to play?”

Goldilocks’s family was one that had fled the Eastwise Kingdom after the Bad Enchantment had settled there, and she hadn’t met any other children since. “All right,” she allowed. “But I’m going to call you Ruffian.”

“I’m going to call you Golly,” he said, and Goldilocks needed no other enticement to follow his cry of, “Catch me if you can!”
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 92: Snakes and Campers (A Camp Myth Tale)


Snakes and Campers

by Chris Lewis Carter

After nearly twenty minutes of trudging through the Forgotten Forest in silence, Zerra plops down on a rotting log and says, “It’s official. We’re lost.”

“That’s impossible,” Drew says. He removes a crumpled sheet of paper from his bag and studies it intently. “I’ve mapped out this entire area. We just need to get back on course.”

Natious grunts. His steel blue eye scans their surroundings for any sign of danger. “And what does the map say, exactly?”

“It says that we’re lost,” Zerra replies.

Before Drew can respond, the trees part and two more centaurs join the group. Kaelan, lugging his overstuffed backpack, and Pointa, trying to prevent any branches from swatting his girlfriend, Kuru, a Kitsune who sits perched on his back.

“Come on, guys, arguing isn’t going to help,” she says, in her always-upbeat tone. “There’s got to be a Phoenix around here somewhere. We just need to stay positive.”

Pointa nods and brushes a stray leaf from his beard. “She’s right. Let’s just take a moment to regroup, then keep moving.”

Kaelan hobbles over to the log, his leg brace squeaking slightly with each step. “Do you think the other group we saw heading into the forest are Phoenix watching, too? I wonder if they’ve found one by now?”

“Those three?” Natious snorts. “Not a chance. They’ll be lucky if they make it back to camp at all.”
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Cast of Wonders 91: Open 28 Hours


Open 28 Hours

by Darin Ramsey

The seven-pointed star was pink and gold, and hung in the night over the dome like it heralded more than just a refueling stop and convenience store. The dome sat alone on a rocky, airless orb at the outer reaches of the system, so small and distant it didn’t have a name. From a ship on approach, the dome resembled a fallen globe on a tripod, with the three docking rings at the end of the airlock.

Tan was restocking Queen Shooga’s Sodium Sulfate Bars and thinking, “Thirteen more hours. Thirteen more hours.” The airlock chimed, then lensed open with a whine and hiss, and a Miradalina slid from it. She was young; none of the seven brood polyps behind her ears had hatched, and the shell on her back only spiraled three times. Probably on her first holiday without a chaperon.

“Greetings, daughter-of-the-sea!” Tan called out. “Welcome!” She glanced in his direction, waved her ears gently, and slid down the aisle of cold drinks. Tan was relieved to see that she trailed a slick salvager; Miradalin trails did a number on the mop. He set the box of sulfur candies down and heaved to his feet, tucking his sandy hair behind his ears as he walked to the Galactacard Omni-denominator register.

As he stepped behind the counter, the airlock chimed again. A meter-tall mass of scarlet centipedes half-writhed, half-rolled into the store, stopping at the counter, where several of them raised their heads to click at him. Tan glanced down at the Galactacard’s translator screen, then back up and said, “Gentlemen, you honor me by advancing the Hive here at Snak-E-Star. You’ll find the ecdysium down this hall on my right, after the relief stations for males, females, and drones.” He didn’t relish cleaning up the shell remains later. And it took days to get the smell out. He shrugged; at least the Hive tipped well.

The Miradalina slid up to the counter and extruded her selections

“Ah, excellent!” Tan tapped buttons on the omni-denominator. “One large greenleaf tea, two phytobars, and a tin of krill mints. Fourteen and four-sevenths, please.”

Three cubes fell onto the counter. Tan swept them into the omni-denominator, which spat out three flat squares. She absorbed her change, burbled a brief melody, and slid out.
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Cast of Wonders 90: The Void Test


The Void Test

by Therese Arkenberg

A girl climbed up the mountain path. In the early morning air, mist beaded on her dress and skin, and the blond hair in her braid became frizzy with moisture. She chose each step with care, and held her skirts so high that her bony ankles flashed as she walked. Every so often, she glanced ahead, then looked back down at the path. She stopped and stared when she rounded a bend and looked into a river valley. The path lead across the stream, where the space between the shore and the rise of foothills was just large enough to hold a long stone hall—the temple, her destination.

On a porch of the temple, a tall woman stood and watched the girl approach. Behind her, the bronze doors stood open, and a brazier smoked in the darkness of the sanctuary within. Wisps of smoke twined with the mist rising into the air.

The girl climbed the narrow stairs carefully, skirts hiked even higher than before. She tossed her braid over her shoulder with a shake of the head and looked up at the woman. Beneath the hem of her hiked skirts, her legs trembled.

“Who are you, girl?” the woman asked.

“Sadirin Tuoth Canar. I’ve come here for the test.”
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 89: The Carmel B Crazies


The Carmel B Crazies

by Rick Kennet

On the day she turned seventeen Cy De Gerch peered through a window into rusty red desert and saw her future squatting darkly in its launch cradle.

She’d been discharged from hospital an hour before and had made her quick way to Styx City Starport. Standing now at the window into Launch Cradle 3, her bag slung over the shoulder of her new Martian Star Corps tunic, she gazed through the glass like a kid outside a toy store. Utopia Plain, her new toy, smooth, black, ellipsoid, seemed to squat in its cradle amid a patch of the red desert of Mars. Recently repaired after a battle with Xenoid warships at Rigel, the starship’s liquid lines were unbroken but for the pressure tunnel extruded from her forward hatch. A thing of space, it seemed to sit impatient to lift into the pink-brown sky and the void beyond.

All her fears and excitements came flooding back – a feeling of elation at this new beginning aboard her first ship; a scary feeling too of coming adrift, separated from her family on Phobos and the surrogate family of her space cadet section, training days ended.

Inspecting herself in the window’s reflection, Cy adjusted her tunic sporting its new lieutenant’s bars and ran a hand through her short dark hair, wondering if she’d surprise her new captain with her age. She thought that she might. She was the first of her breed – a product of the Gartino genetics experiment – to qualify for active service. It all depended on what Captain Ralph Brown was like. Would he understand and appreciate her as a purpose-built person, trained and schooled seventeen years for this purpose? Or would there be suspicion and mistrust?
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 88: Dragon Art


Dragon Art

by Christopher Partin

“Wow,” said Charles as he put down his pencil and looked at the picture before him. It was the best drawing he had ever done. It was so detailed it was almost as if it was alive.

It had scales like glistening river rock, eyes like opals, a snout like some fierce alligator, wings like a horrible vampire bat, a tail like a stegosaurus. It had legs like tree trunks and claws like bald eagles.

It had taken Charles most of the day to draw the dragon, but now it was finished. And boy was it great! It was more than worth all that time spent making it just right.

Charles looked over at the clock and realized how late it was. He got up from his desk chair and got ready for bed. He was about to turn off the light when he realized that he’d better put his drawing somewhere where his cat, Mr. Hempleton, couldn’t walk all over it.

“Yeah, you,” said Charles, looking over at the brown and white tabby, which stared back at him with evil eyes that said, “I’m tired and you’re bothering me.”

Charles looked at the drawing one last time, still surprised at the detail he was able to create, opened his desk drawer, and carefully dropped it in. He closed the drawer and turned off the light and crawled into bed.
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 87: Little Wonders 1

Show Notes

Hello everyone! Surprise! Today, July 21st, is the two year anniversary of Cast of Wonders. We couldn’t be prouder, and to celebrate we’re debuting a new type of episode. You’re listening to the very first Little Wonders, a collection of flash fiction and poetry centered around a theme or genre. We’re going to start things off nice and easy with a pair of science fiction shorts.


Immersion

by Kara Hartz

Silvia stared at her Teddy, which moved laboriously into her outstretched hand.

“How did you do that?” I asked.

“Dunno,” she said, “Just thought it.”

She didn’t move objects with the grace the native beings here did, but she still moved them. Before accepting this ambassadorship I’d worried how it might affect Silvia. She got along well with the Teppim children though, and not having human playmates didn’t seem to bother her.

Moving things was natural to them, like learning to walk or talk for us.  Something picked up by being around it.

I thought about my pen putting itself away. Nothing happened.
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Cast of Wonders 86: Ieia


Ieia

by S. L. Bickley

Even after seven years living out in the country, Palfi didn’t know how to sense the seasons. But she knew the autumn equinox had not come yet, for she’d had no visitors in a week or so. People always came flocking when the seasons turned.

Autumn and its pilgrims could stay away forever, for all she cared. She didn’t need donations: she already had plenty of shelfbread, and plenty of wine, and a good store of donated silver which she had few opportunities to spend. And the only things a visitor might give her, apart from bread and wine and silver, were irritation and trouble.

She sat at her devotions nonetheless — partly because someone was sure to arrive the moment she abandoned her façade, and partly because the grove was a pleasant place, and Ieia, the goddess statue, was better company than most real people.
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 85: Patterns (Part 2)


Patterns

by Susan Oke

Kate

There’s no stopping Mikey in this mood. He grins at me, blue eyes bright in the moonlight, and a surge of excitement snatches at my breath. He always does this to me; it’s one of the things that I love about him. Blake and Hari stride ahead –– the Hulk and Spiderman –– full of restless energy. Mikey grabs my hand and together we run to catch up.

The fence is no problem; Hari flourishes his dad’s wire cutters, stolen for the occasion. Mikey holds back the heavy netting while I step through, his knuckles white against the wire. The ground is ridged with the aftershock of JCB-violation; lumpy shadows hint at equipment scattered around the excavation site. It’s cold and damp, and I can feel my hair starting to frizz.

I pick my way across what used to be the school’s sports field, and try to picture the site during the day: the thump and rumble of men-at-work, flashes of yellow, digger and men both, humped earth waiting to landslide, and that black lick of a wound in the ground, growing wider and deeper every day. But my snapshot glances taken on the way to the Science Block refuse to coalesce into a solid image. The shadows keep their secrets.
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 84: Patterns (Part 1)


Patterns

by Susan Oke

Kate

There’s no stopping Mikey in this mood. He grins at me, blue eyes bright in the moonlight, and a surge of excitement snatches at my breath. He always does this to me; it’s one of the things that I love about him. Blake and Hari stride ahead –– the Hulk and Spiderman –– full of restless energy. Mikey grabs my hand and together we run to catch up.

The fence is no problem; Hari flourishes his dad’s wire cutters, stolen for the occasion. Mikey holds back the heavy netting while I step through, his knuckles white against the wire. The ground is ridged with the aftershock of JCB-violation; lumpy shadows hint at equipment scattered around the excavation site. It’s cold and damp, and I can feel my hair starting to frizz.

I pick my way across what used to be the school’s sports field, and try to picture the site during the day: the thump and rumble of men-at-work, flashes of yellow, digger and men both, humped earth waiting to landslide, and that black lick of a wound in the ground, growing wider and deeper every day. But my snapshot glances taken on the way to the Science Block refuse to coalesce into a solid image. The shadows keep their secrets.
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 83: The Dictionary’s Apprentice

Show Notes

Theme music is “Appeal To Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.


The Dictionary’s Apprentice

by Sandra M. Odell

The narrow streets of Gretchentown echoed with barking dogs and late evening front stoop conversations as Johnny-J made his way to the rally grounds. He circled twice to be certain no one saw him before hurrying to the burn piles. The air was bitter with sulfur and char. He breathed in through his mouth.

So little remained of the day. He hadn’t been allowed to stand with the adults in the front row at the purity rally, but had seen enough of the burn selection as it was brought in to regret looking. Johnny-J salvaged what he could of the Lessonkeepers’ fervor: a woman’s startled profile; a sooty hand clutching a rifle; a bouquet of once pink roses. Tucking the pieces inside his shirt, Johnny-J hurried back the way he came, avoiding the stern bulk of the Elder Hall on his way to the tarpaper-roofed shack beyond the west cistern. Breath came easier away from the killing grounds.
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Cast of Wonders 82: Mr. Scampers’ War


Mr. Scampers’ War

by J. S. Bell

An explosion of leaves, a swirl of dust and the fierce jungle cat leaps from the verdant forest and is on the gazelle in one bound. Claws rend and jaws clamp shut. The gazelle dies with a bleat of terror.

“Aw, Scampers, you’re such a cute kitty!” A baby-talking voice rattles the jungle cat, causing him to freeze. “Killing your toy mousy like that. Izzat a fun game?”

The small Lap Servant’s speech impediment continues, thinks the mighty predator. Perhaps it’s a sign of a significant mental defect. Doesn’t she know, this is no game. Life is balanced on a razor’s edge between the ready and the dead.

Mr. Scampers cleans a paw, slightly mussed by the trek through the jungle under the sofa, and considers how best to respond to the Lap Servant. He chooses his default action: Ignore the human.
(Continue Reading…)