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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 510: Forbidden Voices


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 509: Far From the Home I Love


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 508: The Book That Wasn’t


The Book That Wasn’t

by Sally Sultzman

The school library is as close to a refuge as you get, but the librarian still looks at you like she knows there’s something off about you, and you hate that she might be right.

Then one day, the day, that day, that librarian is gone, replaced by a sub that looks…familiar. But not really, she’s definitely not the kind of person you’ve ever seen in your small town before. And she puts specific books into your hands. Very specific books. The kinds of books you could never ask about out loud, certainly not of the regular librarian because then she’d know she was right about you and tell your parents, and that–you don’t think you’d survive that.

But this librarian sub–old, tall, and imposing with wild white hair and a generous smile–just knows what books other kids also want, but those books are never as…personal as yours are. She gives you kind smiles and says things like, “You’re doing so well, just hold on a little bit longer,” as she gives you another book that you’re not allowed to read, not even allowed to know exists, and it… it helps. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 502: Little Wonders 34 – Separation & Connection

Show Notes

Of Bugs, Debts and Distant Planets was originally published in Fifth Di… Magazine in June 2021


Of Bugs, Debts, and Distant Planets

by Vera Brook

The blue-green farming fields of Kenor surround me like a waist-deep sea as I sweep another fern, the bugs rattling like pebbles down the clear tube of my vacuum. One cold, alien sun hangs to my right, another to my left.

There’s nothing I’ll miss about this world when I leave tonight.

Except Jace. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 481: Factory Mother (Staff Picks 2021)


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 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…)