Cast of Wonders 70: A Song for the Season

A Song for the Season

by Eliza Hirsch

The sun came out today, and for the first time in five months our song returned. It changes once every three years. This time, the melody sounds slower, a little bit sad. Long, low notes shake my chest when I stand too close to the forest’s edge. The last song was a bright, energetic tune; before that it was like water tumbling over rocks in a wild river. Each song was as unique as the girl who gave their life for them.

I worked in the garden, stringing twine for a pea trellis, listening to the song and basking in the warmth of the sun. Louder than the wistful tune was the sound of my younger brother, Allard, chopping wood along the side of the house. Our parents were in town, mother checking on the winter’s newborns while father delivered bread to neighbors. Spring had come at last, and we were happy to be outside.

We were not the only ones. Allard’s axe stopped swinging and fell to the ground with a thunk. I looked up from my knot work as he shouted out a greeting. A familiar voice answered him and I dropped my twine, eager to see the face I had missed so much during the cold months.
(Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 69: Cosmetic Procedures

Cosmetic Procedures

by Desmond Warzel

When I became a private investigator, it wasn’t for excitement, or for money. The work is humdrum, and whatever noir romanticism the profession ever actually had is long gone (though I’ve got a raincoat, a fedora, and a dusty bottle of scotch in the closet, just in case they’re called for). As for money, there isn’t much–and I don’t need it anyway. I’m a dilettante, and utterly unashamed of it.

It was an ego boost, pure and simple. I suppose I just enjoyed the idea that, when some poor desperate soul was in dire straits, stretched to the breaking point, with nowhere to turn, I would be the one he’d call.

Well, now I’m sitting at my desk, unable to take my mind off the lower right-hand drawer, and the unique item therein, and I have no idea who I should call.

I am, however, extremely open to suggestions.
(Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 68: Mercurial Skin

Mercurial Skin

by Raechel Henderson

Jodi kneels on the floor taking inventory of musty, used books when she feels someone approach and tower over her.  She doesn’t mind the interruption because the books are starting to whisper to her again. When she looks up she bares her neck to the customer.  “Your Lucy complex is showing again,” Victor, the shop owner and her boss, says from where he’s building new shelves into the ceiling. Jodi pays him as much attention as the books.

For an instant Jodi and the customer, a boy of sixteen or seventeen, take stock of each other, looking for indicators they might be people who share common interests.

The boy wears standard neo-goth attire–lots of black and dripping in chains–but his costume can’t hide his white-bread good looks.  He’d be better suited to a band or school or fast food uniform. Like her, he is an imposter. She imagines the two of them riding a train through the Carpathians under a full moon.  He mumbles something to her, more of a long sigh than communication.
(Continue Reading…)


Cast of Wonders 65: The Great Game, Part 7 – The Mustard Wyrm

Show Notes

The Mustard Wyrm is final installment of a series of stories called The Great Game by James Vachowski and narrated by Barry J Northern. To find other episodes in the series search for the tag The Great Game.

The Great Game, Part 7–The Mustard Wyrm

By James Vachowski

What is that infernal screeching?  In God’s Holy Name, child, leave that poor cat alone!

Eh?  Music?  So you say.  To these ears it sounded more like a banshee being skinned alive.  Do yourself a favor and quit now, while you still have your youth. Your talents clearly lie beyond the world of music, and I dare say you will need all available time to discover your true skill.  By virtue of your heinous display of what I can only assume was intended to be a strain from Schubert, it is safe for us to rule out the violin as your life’s calling.

Besides, any devotee knows there is but a single instrument worthy of mastery.  Which one, you say? Do you jest? Surely your music professor has taught you the wonder of the bagpipes?  No? Child, the pipes are the birthright of the Highlanders, the instrument of ancient Scottish kings! Here now, be a good lad and wrap that quilt round my knees.  Close the window as well. The night grows cold, and I fear we have tormented the neighbors enough for one evening, what with your attempts at harmony.
(Continue Reading…)


Cast of Wonders 64: The Gloaming (Part 2)

Show Notes

Today we present Part 2 of The Gloaming by M E Garber. Be sure to check out Part 1, first, if you haven’t already.

The Gloaming

by M E Garber

At this time I knew the Rules One through Five. They were easy, almost ridiculously so. Except for the “Asking” part, which I found hard.

Rule One: What you truly believe will become real. What you truly disbelieve will fade.

Rule Two: Pride brings unwelcome notice, and testing by the true fey. Guard well against Pride.

Rule Three: The Question must be asked. A lore-tender may only divulge rules once his or her charge has asked after each of them. Some leading is permissible, but pure telling is not possible.

Rule Four: Names prove important in strange, unpredictable ways. Always be careful when Naming if you have the power of fey.

Rule Five: Protect your purity. Loss of that innocence, of purity in your thoughts and deeds, will result in loss of your fey abilities.

My own corollary to Rule Five: It’s well-known that unicorns only associate with pure fey innocents. So, to stay with Azim al-Liajli, I stayed as far from human boys as possible. Easy.
(Continue Reading…)


Cast of Wonders 63: The Gloaming (Part 1)

The Gloaming, Part 1

by M E Garber

I forgot Rule Number 1.

I imagined the evil hordes, and they became real.

I did it. I believed in them, gave them their power and forms. They merely fed my fear and my inattention, directed my fertile imagination into the darkness of isolation. I followed, as blind as I could be.
(Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 62: The Quarrel of the Monkey and the Crab

The Quarrel of the Monkey and the Crab

by Yei Theodora Ozaki

Long, long ago, one bright autumn day in Japan, it happened that a pink-faced monkey and a yellow crab were playing together along the bank of a river. As they were running about, the crab found a rice-dumpling and the monkey a persimmon-seed.

The crab picked up the rice-dumpling and showed it to the monkey, saying:

“Look what a nice thing I have found!”

Then the monkey held up his persimmon-seed and said:

“I also have found something good! Look!”
(Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 60: The Swineherd

The Swineherd

by Hans Christian Anderson

There was once a poor Prince, who had a kingdom. His kingdom was very small, but still quite large enough to marry upon; and he wished to marry.

It was certainly rather cool of him to say to the Emperor’s daughter, “Will you have me?” But so he did; for his name was renowned far and wide; and there were a hundred princesses who would have answered, “Yes!” and “Thank you kindly.” We shall see what this princess said.
(Continue Reading…)


Cast of Wonders 59: Once There Was A Hero…

Once There Was A Hero…

by Jenny Moore

*Text to Come*


Cast of Wonders 58: The Great Game, Part 5 – The Dark Continent

Show Notes

The Dark Continent is part 5 of a series of stories called The Great Game by James Vachowski and narrated by Barry J Northern. To find other episodes in the series search for the tag The Great Game.

The Great Game, Part 5 — The Dark Continent

by James Vachowski

Light a lamp, child, and be quick about it. The day is fading, and my eyes are not what they once were. Ah, that’s the rub. This room closes in when night falls. Oftimes I find myself back in the dense brush of the Kalahari. Were you to speak a smattering of Bantu, odds are fair I would mark you by size as a pygmy Bushman.

What?  A Bushman, child!  Do you mean to tell me you have no knowledge of the fiercest warriors on this Earth?  The scourge of the Dark Continent? Those diminutive spearmen have dispatched tens of thousands of Her Majesty’s riflemen to their end, and it is no embellishment to say that I was nearly one of that number.
(Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 57: Empty Pockets (Part 2)

Show Notes

Today’s episode is Part 2 of “Empty Pockets” by James Issac. Be sure to listen to Part 1  if you haven’t yet.

Empty Pockets, Part 2

by James Isaac

Fresh, clean and ready for his first day of work, Dee Jay made sure to wake way before nine o’clock. No rain today, a good sign, he thinks as he walks leisurely to the shop-with-no-name. MCG is sitting on her stool, this time whistling as she paints purple polish on her nails. She nods to Dee Jay as he crosses the street, shouting loudly because of the noise of the headphones “Good morning.”

As soon as he pushes past the bead-curtain Granny Guffin is there, throwing an orange apron at him. “Here is your ‘Apron of Customer Service,” she says. Lacking kangaroo pouch, Dee Jay considers it ‘rated underling.’

“Don’t you ever close?” he questions, as Mrs Guffin seems to be wearing the same gear as yesterday.

“Don’t be silly. Now clever young man, off to work you go. I want you to put the contents of those boxes on the shelves” she says pointing over to several large cardboard boxes between the aisles. “Do it anyway and anyhow you want. And remember, in case of a customer, we are what we are in the eye of the beholder.”
(Continue Reading…)

Genres: ,

Cast of Wonders 56: Empty Pockets (Part 1)

Show Notes

Today we present Part 1 of Empty Pockets by James Isaac. James has three stories (non-YA) placed in three different anthologies that should be out before the year’s end:

Anabiosis, editors John G. Hartness & Emily Leverett, The Big Bad – An Anthology of Evil (publication and other details pending)

The Edge Between, Soul Reflections, Wicked East Press, 2012 (not yet appeared) e Publications, 2012

Waste Not Want Not, Tales for the Toilet, Crowded Quarantine Publications, 2012

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

Empty Pockets, Part 1

by James Isaac

MCG doesn’t notice the young man, clutching a wad of freshly printed CVs, walk past and enter Pound Palace next door. Oblivious to the pattering of rain on the blank shop-awning above, she nods her head to the noises emitting from the over-sized, Monster Soundzzz, studio-quality headphones clutching her ears and scalp. A panoply of charms spreads randomly on the stall display-table in front of her; vacuum packed rabbits feet, horseshoes, an array of styled sevens and twelves. Leaning back on a wooden stool, with her fat-laced trainers up on the table, she maintains a precarious equilibrium. Her stall’s alleged purpose is to entice customers into the shop directly behind. But the last thing MCG expects is to be disturbed by customers. No-one ever enters from the front door.
(Continue Reading…)