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Cast of Wonders 466: Badass Neon Sparkle Powers


Badass Neon Sparkle Powers

by Cara DiGirolamo

There’s a fine line between getting shit done and eating it. I’d crossed that line.

I’d spotted Mr. Khaki Shorts, Mr. Popped Collar, and Little Miss Ugg Boots weaving and laughing on their way out of the Blue Moon. It looked like nothing really, undergrads joking around, but the body language felt a little off. When Khaki Shorts pressed Ugg Boots into the brick of the darkened shoe store, and she cried out, I figured I’d say hi.

I never planned my heroing gig. I didn’t roam around in a mask and spandex or anything. But I work closing at a pizzeria in the heart of Collegetown, and walking to the bus stop at three, four am, you see things.

All heroing is, is just not walking by. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 465: In Real Time


In Real Time

by Avra Margariti

The kites frozen across the sky dapple the lawn like stained glass. Human statues dot the park, caught mid-motion: picnicking, dog-walking, sun-bathing. They might have been unnerving, once. Now, the utter stillness and silence soothes me like nothing else. In Frozen Time, scents are amplified tenfold. Grass, flowers, sugar. I drop a few coins into a vendor’s tip jar, then fill a clear bag with candy worms, chewing as I stroll down the small hill.

When a shape weaves between the stationary people, I think it’s only an optical illusion. A vase, two faces, now a vase again.

I blink, and the silhouette has drawn closer. It belongs to a kid not much younger than me in appearance, although there’s really no way to tell with people like us, who know how to manipulate time. The kid nods at me, casual like we’re meeting in the street and not in a frozen world, then steals a fistful of my candy.

“Who are you?” I ask once my tongue unglues itself from my palate. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 463: Loving the Falls


Loving the Falls

by Marie Vibbert

I was in love with falling water. If I stared at a waterfall long enough, it pulled me to jump in. I could read the signs about sharp rocks and imagine the looks of disapproval that warned me against it, but I was always going to give in some day. I did, in my senior year of high school, during the spring flood. The vitality of the river was over-the-top, the surface all surge and deft scoops. I imagined it’d be like sliding on silk, or caramel, or running my body over God’s six-pack abs.

It wasn’t.

The impact hurt; rock cracked my butt like the water wasn’t there, and then I was breathing water, sputtering. I panicked and flailed, realizing I’d made a terrible mistake. My love was unrequited, leaving me nothing but a slush of pebbles and twigs and the slick-as-snot bottom. No glorious view of the edge, no anticipation, no acceptance. There was a brief moment of stomach-less-ness, and then I hit a wall of concrete and died. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 461: Factory Mother


Factory Mother

by Sid Jain

The mushroom mycelia sundering in the pale, hot fermentation medium reminded Hanifa of her apartment building melting in Old Delhi: when concrete flowed like lava and spilled her life onto the streets.

“Hani, you with me?”

Hani blinked twice. “Yes, Gary.”

She stepped away from the sightglass, away from her memories. She was here, now, contained by the blistered grey walls of Mycagen Foods, in Durham, North Carolina. Here, the air didn’t slough the skin off newborns in their crib.

Gary, her night shift supervisor, rapped on his handheld tablet with his four fingers impatiently. “We don’t have all night, Hanifa.”

Well, Gary, she thought, learn to wait as I have. I’ve been waiting to be American for years. We all have our vigils to keep. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 446: The Half-Life of a Broken Heart (Staff Picks 2020)


The Half-Life of a Broken Heart
by N. R. Lambert

We hear the nursery long before we see it. Feel it too, despite the heavily insulated walls. Deep metronomic concussions roll down the corridor and crash through us. When we reach the entry, marked simply, “Hearts,” the door slides open and a technician ushers us through. The nursery is aggressively antiseptic–shrill LED lighting, a gleaming steel tile floor, and between them, bed after bed of hearts. A chamber of chambers, bumping and pulsing in sync.

“They do that on their own.” The tech says, smiling, glasses glaring back at us.

“We’ve even tried to offset them intentionally, quite drastically, but still…they always sync up somehow. It’s rather uncanny, don’t you think?” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 419: Little Wonders 26 – Fathers’ Day


The Last PoMatic
by Amanda Helms

Rain dripped down PoMatic!365’s chassis and occluded its camera. Running its tiny wiper over the lens, it continued the Standard Enticement Protocol.

“Step right up, folks! No visit to Blue Seas Boardwalk is complete without a customized poem from PoMatic! Love poems, haiku, sonnets, sestinas, free verse, all tailored to you, from a simple scan of your identichip! No two poems are ever the same!” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 418: So Much Cooking


So Much Cooking

by Naomi Kritzer

Carole’s Roast Chicken

This is a food blog, not a disease blog, but of course the rumors all over about bird flu are making me nervous. I don’t know about you, but I deal with anxiety by cooking. So much cooking. But, I’m trying to stick to that New Year’s resolution to share four healthy recipes (entrées, salads, sides…) for every dessert recipe I post, and I just wrote about those lemon meringue bars last week. So even though I dealt with my anxiety yesterday by baking another batch of those bars, and possibly by eating half of them in one sitting, I am not going to bake that new recipe I found for pecan bars today. No! Instead, I’m going to make my friend Carole’s amazing roast chicken. Because how better to deal with fears of bird flu than by eating a bird, am I right? (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 417: Please, Stop Printing Unicorns


Please, Stop Printing Unicorns

by Fran Wilde

It shouldn’t need to be said that home bioprinters are not toys. And yet, as The New York Times reported last week, Fisher Price Waterhouse will soon offer a line of kid-friendly bioprinters in bright colors.

As a parent, I understand the temptation. There’s so much possibility here for creativity, for immersive learning through technology. But caution is necessary. The moral and environmental consequences of bioprinting extend far beyond the grasp of young minds. This is a moment for modeling moral behavior for tomorrow’s leaders, not a jumping-off point for imaginative hedonism.

Making bioprinting more accessible to the public — especially to children — will be likely to lead to even worse disasters than last Friday’s blockade of the Chicago I-899 skyways off-ramp by a herd of miniature unicorns. Sure, the unicorns (whose origins are unknown) were the size of ducklings, but their appearance caused several accidents and a moral quandary. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 408: Growing Resistance


Growing Resistance

by Juliet Kemp

The late-afternoon sun hovers above the wall as I kneel on the earth, weeding tomatoes. Beyond the wall, yellow-orange light reflects off the clean sharp lines of the apartment blocks. Boxes for safe people, people who are provided for. People who matter. People who I knew, once upon a time. People who could afford the vaccine before the gates closed. The plague’s gone now, but the wall’s still here. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 394: Staff Picks 2019 – Five Functions of Your Bionosaur


Five Functions of Your Bionosaur

by Rachael K. Jones

1.

Your parents first activate your bionosaur when they bring you home from the hospital. The bionosaur was a baby shower gift from your mom’s favorite aunt. They were nervous about its size, the stainless steel maw, the retractable razorclaws inside its stubby little arms, but the aunt had insisted. She’d programmed it herself, covered its titanium-alloy skeleton in top-grade synthskin featherscales, and pre-loaded it with educational apps.

(Continue Reading…)

Image of a robotic dinosaur

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Cast of Wonders 385: Be a Thunder, Release a Roar


Be a Thunder, Release a Roar

by Osahon Ize-Iyamu

It’s January 2028 and young Uwaila watches the TV, fixated at what’s right in front of her. The dinosaurs appear with a mighty boom, with feet that hit the earth like a rumble. They make everything look so small, all humans look so little, make everybody afraid. They hold a certain kind of power Uwaila needs, a roar and gentleness that makes them perfect to watch. (Continue Reading…)

Image of a robotic dinosaur

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Cast of Wonders 384: Sphexa, Start Dinosaur


Sphexa, Start Dinosaur

by Nibedita Sen

Asha—Ash to friends—wedges the maintenance door open wide enough to slip into the darkened interior of the abandoned ride. Inside smells like rust and stale water and plastic fused with metal.

“Sphexa,” he says. “Light.” (Continue Reading…)