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Cast of Wonders 167: Setting My Spider Free by Caroline M. Yoachim


Setting My Spider Free

by Caroline M. Yoachim

Cool air swirled in through the window and carried with it the faint tapping of claws scratching against stone.  A spiderling was climbing my tower.

Lilymiya stirred.  She’d spent the daylight hours in her corner with all her legs fanned out across the floor, trying to ward off the summer heat.  My poor spider. Her fur, so thick and comforting in the winter, was patchy and ragged. Clumps of it gathered along the base of the walls, and thick strands clung to the grimy sweat on my skin.

The spiderling appeared on my windowsill.  It was medium-sized — bigger than a loaf of bread, but a hundredth the size of Lilymiya.  I didn’t want it to disturb the webs that decorated my walls, so I reached up and grabbed it with both hands.  The spiderling twirled its legs in the empty air as it tried to cool itself.

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Cast of Wonders 165: Into The Forever Place by Luke Thomas

Show Notes

Our story this week is a special re-broadcast of Into the Forever Place by Luke Thomas. This story originally ran in July of last year, but the recording suffered from a technical failure that meant we took it down almost as soon as it went up, so we’ve decided to re-release it for your listening pleasure.


Into the Forever Place

by Luke Thomas

I fasten the last braid about Jad’s shoulder and step back. My belly flutters as I look him over, which isn’t normal. Jad’s my best friend. I’m never more comfortable with anyone than with him. Today, though, he is to be venerated, and he looks the part. I knew the dyes used for this sash were precious, but only now do I understand what that means.

We both examine his reflection in the slab of mirrored glass leaning against the wall. The mirror’s old tain yellows everything—the wood and mortar walls, my pale skin and Jad’s dark—it’s all yellowed except the braids of the sash. They wind around Jad’s lanky torso in blues and greens more vivid than life. I know a veneration ceremony is about the clan, not about Jad, but we can both see he looks splendid. His chest swells. I can’t help but laugh. “Jad…you’re preening.”

He blinks, realizes how puffed up he is, and laughs. This doesn’t last long though; Jad recovers himself more quickly than I can manage. He’s a trained storykeeper, after all, and can isolate the rhythm of his breathing and trim the laughter right out of it. I’ve no such control.

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Episode 163: Speaking to Skull Kings by Emily B. Cataneo


Speaking to Skull Kings

by Emily B. Cataneo

When Bird with his crown of black roses disappears from the clearing, Genevieve knows she and Joseph won’t be safe anymore. At night, while Joseph sleeps, she sorts the walnuts and lingonberries that Bird gathered for them to eat, counting fewer each time. Her stomach aches and she flinches at the rustle of the skull kings in the ghost forest beyond the clearing.

Sometimes, she clambers up trees, her boots slipping on bark, straining to hear the rustle of Bird’s wings, the growl of his caw.

Night after night, Bird doesn’t return.

Night after night, the skull kings crunch through the undergrowth, closer and closer.

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Cast of Wonders 162: Sister Winter by Jenni Moody


Sister Winter

by Jenni Moody

We were just going to bed when the townfolk came, led by Mrs. Hutch with her know-all voice.

I climbed up the cabin ladder to the loft, careful to curl my toes over the rough beams of wood. Ma had fallen off the stairs just a week ago, and now she slept downstairs on the sofa. The cabin was just one big room, so she could still yell up at me and Minn to make us quiet down.

Minnie had the covers pulled up over her head. I could see her eyes shining out from a little hole, like a cat in her cave.

“Move over, Minn.” I swung my legs under the covers. She scooted back, and I pressed my feet against her thighs.

Minnie wrapped her hands around my feet. Their warmth prickled. “So cold!”

The underside of the covers twinkled with little points of light. Minnie touched her finger to the sheet. When she pulled it back there was a warm, red star there. She made two rectangles, a star in each corner of the boxes. An arc of stars lead from the bottom of one rectangle to the center of the other. My feet in Minnie’s hands.

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Cast of Wonders 160: The Haunted Jalopy Races by M. Bennardo


The Haunted Jalopy Races

by M. Bennardo

It all started when gallant Joe Jones and shiftless Sylvester Sneep agreed to race each other for the hand of pretty Sadie Merriweather. Except that’s not really how it started at all, not the first year anyway, not back in 1938.

Back then, that first year, Joe Jones wasn’t thought especially gallant and Sylvester Sneep wasn’t thought especially shiftless. Sadie Merriweather was indeed thought especially pretty–at least by most of the boys in Rock Falls–but Joe and Sylvester weren’t racing for her hand.

Not even in Rock Falls, not even in 1938, did anybody think that the outcome of a jalopy race could decide the affections of a teenaged girl. Instead, it was purely a matter of honor. Sylvester had felt his pride pricked when Sadie chose Joe over him, and so the challenge for the race had been given. The challenge was well-known among the upper classes at Rock Falls High School, but the rest of the town only got their first inkling of what was happening when the boys revved up their modified flatties at the top of the square pointing out to Falls Bridge down on Five Falls Road, and by then it was too late.

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Cast of Wonders 159: There Are No Marshmallows in Camelot by Christian McKay Heidicker

Show Notes

Learn more about the new LGBTQ podcast Glittership!


There Are No Marshmallows in Camelot

by Christian McKay Heidicker

Leticia Andrews saw the wizard hat on a Monday morning at 7:06 a.m. She was eating Lucky Charms in the kitchen nook. The hat was gray and tattered and sat in the window of her plastic princess house, which was in the backyard.

MOM!” she screamed down the hallway. “DO I HAVE A WIZARD HAT?”

“Don’t think so! Unless Uncle Lewis . . .”

“DOES JAKEY?”

“Honey, I don’t know! I’m working?”

Jake, Teece’s baby brother, did not have a wizard hat. She was 96.2% sure. At least not one so pointy and floppy and not covered in glitter like the ones from Toys ‘R’ Us. Even though Teece had never seen one before, she knew the hat that currently sat in her princess house was a real wizard hat. And that meant things.

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Cast of Wonders 158: This Is Your Problem Right Here by David Steffen


This Is Your Problem, Right Here

by David Steffen

“This is your problem, right here.”  The plumber’s deep voice resounded from beneath the maintenance hatch by the main pool at Cascade Reef water park.  “You’ve only got one troll left. For a pool this big, you need fifty minimum, seventy-five if you want everything to run smoothly.”

“Pardon?” shouted Anita Westegard, the owner.  “I only have one of what left?”

The plumber appeared beneath her.  His arms were covered to the elbows with green slime.  “Trolls. See?” He held one grimy hand up toward her holding a tiny skull.  It was almost human in shape, with two thick tusks and curved ram’s horns. “Poor things must have been starved to turn on each other like that.”

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Cast of Wonders 157: The Seal King (Part 2) by Jennifer Noelle Welch


The Seal King (Part 2)

by Jennifer Noelle Welch

Rattle rattle rattle rattle rattle…

Lou’s forehead hurts where it rests, mashed against the keel, and tracing the source of the sound, her brain awakens with a pinch. The coat is wrapped around her shoulders, and somewhere a steel cleat is vibrating. Raising her head, she remembers. The skiff, the size of a tiny teacup, spinning lazily towards the horizon. Are those really the first stars? had been her last thought, before her eyes swam and the darkness swallowed all.

In the stern, the seal king hugs his curled legs, shuddering uncontrollably, his eyes locked on her face.

“You did it,” she whispers. “How did you…”

Forming the words, he seizes, his voice fluttering into her head instead. S-swam. I had t-trouble pulling you back in. I’m s-sorry. He nods at her side, and Lou finds a bleeding scrape above her hip.

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Cast of Wonders 156: The Seal King (Part 1) by Jennifer Noelle Welch


The Seal King (Part 1)

by Jennifer Noelle Welch

The girl with apricot-colored hair sits on a dock the color of driftwood, her back against a stone wall retaining the land against the push and pull of the sea. Buoys bob and clang. On this small peninsula on the shoulder of the Atlantic, close-set fishermen’s cottages cluster together for comfort. When the wind rakes the swells into whitecaps, yellow foul-weather waders lift on the clotheslines.

It is early September, and the saline haze of summer still hangs ripe and full over the harbor. Louellen, or Lou, as she is called, pulls the frayed cuffs of her father’s coat farther over her hands and presses her spine against the afternoon of too-busy family and heckling high-school classmates. The splashing kids have cleared the dock platform and small swimming beach for another season, leaving her mind to dance with everything and nothing.

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Cast of Wonders 155: Aisha Bets Her Life on Magic by Jarod K. Anderson


Aisha Bets Her Life on Magic

by Jarod K. Anderson

Aisha Gonzalez was half asleep when the ceiling pressed against her nose.  She made an unconscious move to brush away whatever was touching her and smacked the textured surface of the ceiling hard with the back of her hand. She started awake, scraping her forehead. She barked out a scream and shoved hard at whatever was hovering over her.

Aisha’s mattress receded from the ceiling, bumped against her box springs, then slowly floated upwards. She watched the ceiling move closer with wide eyes, then raised her foot and pushed off back toward the floor. She rolled onto her stomach and looked over the edge of the mattress. She was still in her little studio apartment. Her work clothes from the day before were scattered on the floor next to her humming box fan. Outside the French doors that led to her rickety little balcony she could see the lights from the Speedway gas station next door. The mattress rose and gently pressed her back against the ceiling.

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Cast of Wonders 154: Staff Pick 2014 – Sundae by Matt Wallace

Show Notes

Every year in January Cast of Wonders takes a break to catch our breath, plan out the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes from the year just passed.

We hope you enjoy Allen’s favorite story from 2014, Sundae by Matt Wallace, which originally aired April 27, 2014 as Episode 122.


Sundae

by Matt Wallace

The old woman in the wheelchair has a brutal face and hands as soft as the mother of all children.

“You will be more than a warrior, little one,” she whispers in German, her delicate and wrinkled fingertips sewing a pressed metal button into his left ear. “You will be a guardian. You will protect more than tender flesh and frail bodies. You will be the sentinel that stands between the darkness and innocence itself.”

With eyes made of glass and wood he sees her thin, withered lips form the words. He cannot hear her; his ears, even the one with the signature button, were not made to hear, just as his mouth was not made to speak. However the small stuffed bear finds he understands her; the meaning of her words, if not the words themselves.

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Cast of Wonders 151: Staff Pick 2014 – Master Madrigal’s Mechanical Man by Scott C. Mikula

Show Notes

Every year in January Cast of Wonders takes a break to catch our breath, plan out the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes from the year just passed.

We hope you enjoy Marguerite’s favorite story from 2014, Master Madrigal’s Mechanical Man by Scott C. Mikula, which originally aired March 23, 2014 as Episode 120.


Master Madrigal’s Mechanical Man

by Scott C. Mikula

I tried to shut out the crowd’s roar, but the thunder of a thousand feet pounding above us in the arena stands rose until I could feel the breastplate of the mechanical swordsman vibrate beneath my touch.  Master Madrigal gestured with his palsied hand for me to replace the automaton’s helmet, but I hesitated to examine the delicate inner workings. Just one small adjustment

A cuff to the back of my head arrested my motion.  “We have spoken of this, Cetta,” said Madrigal. “There is no problem with the balance.”  He crossed his arms, tucking his useless right hand out of sight beneath his sleeve.

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