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Cast of Wonders 210: Little Wonders 8 – Embracing Change


The There-It-Is Store

By Adam Gaylord

The bell over the door jingled and Claire hastily tucked her book under the counter. It was one of her favorites and she’d just gotten to the best part. She didn’t want a customer to come in and claim it.

An older man, probably twice Claire’s age, entered the store. Actually, he really more danced his way in. The man turned this way and that, his eyes trained on the ground, all the while patting his pants, alternating front pockets and then back. Claire suppressed a giggle at the sight of his search dance – as it was fittingly known in the trade. The man gave up the floor and scanned the shelves by the door, muttering to himself while patting his breast pockets. “I swear I just had ’em. I was walking out the door…” He passed over boxes of buttons, jars full of jewelry, several large sacks stuffed with socks, and a pail packed with pocket watches before stopping in front of a particularly large crate nearly overflowing with keys. He gave a low whistle, eyeing the huge box with trepidation.

“Good morning Mr. Crowhurst,” Clair interrupted his search.

“Hm? Oh, yes. Hello.” Mr. Crowhurst wandered up to the counter, still patting. “I really hope you can help me. Do you happen to know where…” He trailed off, his eyes drifting to the shelves behind her. Claire felt the tingle of the there-it-is magic and the man’s patting finally stopped, his face lighting up. “There they are!”

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Cast of Wonders 206: Planar Ghosts (Part 2)


Planar Ghosts (Part Two)

By Krystal Clayton

Pup sits up as the bolt groans in the wall and the door opens, yellow lamplight pooling in.

Alice moves the door only enough to let herself in. She’s carrying a flashlight that could double as a club and wearing thick socks that make her footsteps a whisper against the concrete floor.

“Hello, Pup.” Even though she’s whispering her voice seems too loud, too real.

Pup glances at the door without meaning to. She didn’t bolt it again. How far could he get before someone noticed?

“If I thought we could sneak out, I’d try. Nass has you locked down. That’s why it took me this long to sneak in.”

Pup angles away from her, crosses his arms over his chest.

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Cast of Wonders 204: Twenty-One

Show Notes

Happy birthday, Podcastle! Our fantasy sister show is celebrating it’s 8th anniversary. Pop on over and join the party with Graeme Dunlop, Rachael K. Jones and the rest of the castle’s inhabitants.

Supernatural Radio and Tempting Secrets by A Kevin MacLeod are licensed under a Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License


Twenty-One

by Michael Merriam

Wednesday, January 6th, 2009, dawned bright and clear for the twenty-first time.

“Are we ready?” Aaron Burnett asked the group surrounding him, all of them cold and shivering in the pre-dawn light.

“Yeah, yeah. We can do this,” Thomas Pinchly said. The short, thin teenager chewed nervously on a plastic straw.

Aaron’s older sister, Sharon, gave him a reassuring smile. “We don’t really have a choice, do we?” The smile on her plump face widened. “And if we screw it up—”

“We start over at December 23rd and take another crack at it,” Sharon’s friend Teri finished.

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Cast of Wonders 203: The Universe Dress


The Universe Dress

by Laura-Marie Steele

I’ve never been the biggest fan of weddings. Some women plan weddings from childhood. They draw pictures of the dress they’d like to wear and collect magazine cuttings of flowers or venues, but not me. I’d never even thought about it before. I’d always seen myself as the adventurous type, trekking off alone across the world. Maybe that was why I felt strange, staring at myself in the mirror, on the day of my own wedding.

“You look beautiful.” Mum wiped her eyes with the corner of her bathrobe.

“The lips,” Aunt Julia said, with a twist of her own, “can’t we make them a bit darker?”

My two cousins, Emily and Amelia, began to rummage in the suitcase of cosmetics they’d brought with them. They’d already attacked me with all sorts of colours and turned me into a doll with pink-spotted cheeks.

Aunt Julia took charge of the curling tongs, scooping and pulling up my hair. Lipsticks were passed around, tiaras were polished, hairbrushes were located, dress fit was discussed. Everyone struggled to get ready in the small space that had been my bedroom for the past nineteen years, and I sat in the middle, calm and silent, like the eye of the storm.

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Cast of Wonders 201: Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class


Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class

by Dantzel Cherry

Darcy walked up to the gilded starship door and it dissolved, revealing what had to be the gaudiest room in the galaxy. Gold, silver, bronze, and minerals that probably didn’t even exist on Earth covered the high ceiling and walls in panels, interlaced throughout with precious stones – and was that tinsel? – depicting who-knows-what. The effect was much like a wild animal had eaten all the jewelry at Tiffany’s and then vomited all over the walls.

Clearly the ability to travel through all the worlds in the galaxy and kidnap a fifty-two year old ballet teacher didn’t grant good taste in interior design.

The blue blob Overlord guard accompanying her spoke, its voice wobbling with each syllable, and Darcy jumped as a split second later her newly installed gray earslugs wriggled and translated:

“Behold, your students.”

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Cast of Wonders 195: The Tale of the White Tiger (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy editor and host Marguerite Kenner’s favorite story from 2015, The Tale of the White Tiger by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt and narrated by Tracey Yuen. The story originally aired July 5, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 168.


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


The Tale of the White Tiger

by Donald Jacob Uitvlugt

Blind Li Xiao surveyed the marketplace. The sensor net embedded in his storyteller’s robes fed signals directly to his brain. The citizenship transponders exactly matched the number of heat signatures. A world firmly loyal to the Empire, then. Or one too afraid to act otherwise.

A passive scan showed at least two peacekeepers in the market. Probably more secret police. He would have to be careful in his story selection. Something from one of the official chronicles. Something he could use for his own purposes.

He beat his staff on the ground three times. The bells at the head chimed out their message. Be still and hearken. Blind Li Xiao is about to begin his tale. He chanted the introductory poem in his clear, high voice:

“When wicked ministers subvert the good,

“The Systems lose the beautiful and true.

“On Heaven’s River vast, White Tiger sails,

“Her course set by the pirate Madam Hu.”

An audience gathered in front of Blind Li Xiao. Children pressed close, their grandparents behind them. The young women and men stood at the edge, feigning disinterest or fearing entrapment. Blind Li Xiao swept the head of his staff in a broad arc as he spoke.

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Cast of Wonders 194: Take A Good Look (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy slush reader Sally Gill’s favorite story from 2015, Take A Good Look by Holly Schofield and narrated by Stephanie Morris. The story originally aired August 16, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 174.


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


Take a Good Look

by Holly Schofield

Megan watched with dull eyes as Alan’s tendrils undulated above his head, making odd silhouettes on the garage wall. He grew more excited, his beige skin turned mauve as he finished his breakfast beer.

She rocked her lawn chair slowly back and forth in the early morning sun. She barely heard Alan as he went on and on about his most recent trip, to see the giant Easter egg statue in eastern Alberta, and the other attractions he’d visited since she’d left town last year.

“I took an, erh, hologram of the egg,” he told her gleefully, his voice thick with phlegm. “For my, erh, scrapbook.” His English was good but some things apparently didn’t translate well.

“It’s Dad,” she blurted out. “He’s dying.”

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Cast of Wonders 190: Home Isn’t (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy slush reader Katherine Inskip’s favorite story from 2015, Home Isn’t by Kelly Sandoval and narrated by Katherine Inskip. The story originally aired October 25, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 178.


Home Isn’t

by Kelly Sandoval

They tell him he’ll be happy when he gets there. It was wrong, what was done to you, they say. We’re making it right. You’re going home.

The kind ones, who call him Mark, are pleased. They have a party, with foods from his planet. He chews the edge of a gray leaf so bitter it closes his throat. He’s used to coke and animal crackers. You’re going home, they say. No more soda, no more sweets. No more rooms with white walls and bright toys. No more needles, treadmills, tests. Home.

They won’t tell him what home is, only what it isn’t. He pictures a toyless, colorless, cokeless expanse. He pictures fields of bitter gray leaves growing beside silver pools. He tries to picture others like himself, but he is the only one he knows. He populates his imaginings with mirror-reversed copies of his own face. Pale blue fur and liquid black eyes.

At night, he wraps his arms around his chest and makes low choking noises as he tries to cry. He’s never quite gotten the trick of it.
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Cast of Wonders 189: Amicae Aeternum (Staff Pick 2015)

Show Notes

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge our batteries, plan the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes. As part of joining the Escape Artists family, this year we’re pulling out all the stops. We’re running 10 staff pick episodes over the month, each one hosted by a different member of the Cast of Wonders crew.

We hope you enjoy audio producer Rikki LaCoste’s favorite story from 2015, Amicae Aeternum by Ellen Klages and narrated by Rikki LaCoste, Isis LaCoste, and Fiona “Princess Scientists” Van Verth. The story originally aired April 19, 2015 as Cast of Wonders 164.


Amicae Aeternum

by Ellen Klages

It was still dark when Corry woke, no lights on in the neighbors’ houses, just a yellow glow from the streetlight on the other side of the elm. Through her open window, the early summer breeze brushed across her coverlet like silk.

Corry dressed silently, trying not to see the empty walls, the boxes piled in a corner. She pulled on a shirt and shorts, looping the laces of her shoes around her neck and climbed from bed to sill and out the window with only a whisper of fabric against the worn wood. Then she was outside.

The grass was chill and damp beneath her bare feet. She let them rest on it for a minute, the freshly-mowed blades tickling her toes, her heels sinking into the springy-sponginess of the dirt. She breathed deep, to catch it all—the cool and the green and the stillness—holding it in for as long as she could before slipping on her shoes.

A morning to remember. Every little detail.

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Cast of Wonders 185: Marley and Cratchit

Show Notes

Thanks for listening, and from all of us we wish you the merriest of holidays and a happy new year!


Marley and Cratchit

by David Steffen

STAVE 1: THE MARVELOUS MACHINE

In those days Jacob Marley was full of life and vigor.  His smile shone so that anyone who saw him soon smiled widely in return.  A moment in his presence would make one’s worst burdens seem lighter. His optimism and generosity brought out the best in others, catching easily as a torch in dry straw.

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Cast of Wonders 180: The New Kid Is Not An Alien


The New Kid Is Not an Alien

by Bert Lowe

The new kid was skinny with big round eyes and a head like a melon. Worse, thought Sam, the kid has a goofy smile like he doesn’t even care he looks like a walking lollipop.

“Class,” said Mrs. Vogt, “This is Zack.”

“Zaxx,” corrected the boy. “I’m not an alien,” he added.

The class laughed and Mrs. Vogt smiled. “Class, this is Zaxx’s first day. I would like for someone to show him around the school.”

No way, thought Sam, just before a shove forced him out of the line he’d been standing in.

Behind him, Kelli gave him that, I didn’t do it, because I’m such an angel look.

“Thank you, Sam,” said Mrs. Vogt.

“Happy to help,” he said. Sam scowled at Kelli who stuck out her tongue.

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Cast of Wonders 178: Home Isn’t

Show Notes

Hungry for more horror flash fiction? Then head to the Pseudopod forums where this very moment yours could be the deciding vote in the “two stories enter, one story leaves” ritual that is the flash fiction contest. The three winners will be purchased and run in a special Flash on the Borderlands. For those who comment on the stories, Pseudopod will randomly select a few lucky winners to receive copies of the excellent Women Destroy Horror by Nightmare Magazine. Horror stories and the chance of even MORE horror stories and commentary by participating in a thriving horror fiction community? The only thing more sure is that somehow, some way, your trick or treat candy will contain at least one of those strange honey nougat things…

 


Home Isn’t

by Kelly Sandoval

They tell him he’ll be happy when he gets there. It was wrong, what was done to you, they say. We’re making it right. You’re going home.

The kind ones, who call him Mark, are pleased. They have a party, with foods from his planet. He chews the edge of a gray leaf so bitter it closes his throat. He’s used to coke and animal crackers. You’re going home, they say. No more soda, no more sweets. No more rooms with white walls and bright toys. No more needles, treadmills, tests. Home.

They won’t tell him what home is, only what it isn’t. He pictures a toyless, colorless, cokeless expanse. He pictures fields of bitter gray leaves growing beside silver pools. He tries to picture others like himself, but he is the only one he knows. He populates his imaginings with mirror-reversed copies of his own face. Pale blue fur and liquid black eyes.

At night, he wraps his arms around his chest and makes low choking noises as he tries to cry. He’s never quite gotten the trick of it.
(Continue Reading…)