Oak KNowers

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Cast of Wonders 404: The Oak Knowers (part 2)


The Oak Knowers

by Wesley Jenkins

Part 2 of 2

“I don’t know how to find someone like this,” says Priscilla, loudly, over the sudden swell of midnight noise.

“I do,” says Renia, strolling confidently to the edge of the pit and kneeling. Silently we join her. It’s not a message she sends, more like a scent, something more primal than emotion. We always know when she is calling us. Only Jamian, still manning the circle’s rim, remains standing. Renia looks up suddenly, straight into my eyes. I’m surprised to see fear on her face, though I know we all feel it, but there is also certainty. “The killer. I can feel him.” (Continue Reading…)

Oak KNowers

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Cast of Wonders 403: The Oak Knowers (part 1)


The Oak Knowers

by Wesley Jenkins

Part 1 of 2

When the moon sits high, and our parents have passed out for sure, we gather in the grove to do our business.

We never call it magic. Magic is something magicians do, pulling rabbits out of hats. I guess witches turn princes into toads and sorcerers cruise from kingdom to kingdom, toppling regimes and screwing everything in sight, but we have never been so outrageous. For one thing, we believe in rules.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 402: Gwisins of the New Moon’s Eve


Gwisins of the New Moon’s Eve

by Russell Hemmell

We walk out of the subway. The first train of the day has left us in a Gangnam still asleep. The last party-goers stumble back to their dormitories, in the freezing haze of the morning. The pervasive smell of yakiniku reminds me I had no dinner last night. I look around at the early morning with a deep sense of disorientation. This is something Miyumi is familiar to- not me, never me. At 5.30 AM, I’d normally be in my deepest slumber, while my roommate thrives and revels.

But not today. Today we’re together in the twilight hours before dawn, when everything is possible, and the world doesn’t watch.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 386: Encore! 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. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 359: Tiger, Tiger


Tiger, Tiger

By Drea Silvertooth

Echo had always thought that when the world ended, she’d either be running with a motley band of survivors or instantly vaporized. Not a single book, show or movie had prepared her for being apocalypse adjacent.

In the Tropical Asia building, protected by thick glass walls and a ventilation system designed to keep air warm in the winter and sticky in the summer, she hid with her animals. Warty pigs snuffled through the decorative undergrowth, a siamang family sung like sirens in the canopy overhead, and the Malayan tapir and small-clawed otters had taken residence around the cement-bottomed stream that wound through the exhibit. There was still no sign of the sloth bear or the orangutans. Echo wondered if, while she’d been lying face down in the public restroom fighting for consciousness, they might have been evacuated. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 348: Staff Picks 2018 – Radio Free Heartland

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders highlights some of our favorite episodes from the previous year. It’s a great chance for us to take a bit of a breather, and let you, our listeners, catch up on any missed back episodes with new commentary from a different member of the crew.

Our final Staff Picks 2018 episode is hosted by editor Marguerite Kenner.


Radio Free Heartland

by Corey Mallonee

When the car was just a distant cloud of dust above the corn fields I turned to Smoke and told him, “You ought to know I shot someone.” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 331: Radio Free Heartland


Radio Free Heartland

by Corey Mallonee

When the car was just a distant cloud of dust above the corn fields I turned to Smoke and told him, “You ought to know I shot someone.” (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 324: Banned Books Week – The Sound of Her Voice


The Sound of Her Voice

by Jennifer Hykes

I saw her van as I turned the corner by the convenience store.  It was exactly as I remembered it: the coat of green paint cracked and faded now, but the logo unmistakable.  It was burned into my memory like a brand.

I moved before I even realized my old instincts were kicking in, pressing myself against the brick wall and slowing my breathing so the sound would not give me away.

Every nerve in my body tingled.  I watched. I waited. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 323: Banned Books Week – “A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”


“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies”

by Alix E. Harrow

GEORGE, JC—THE RUNAWAY PRINCE—J FIC GEO 1994

You’d think it would make us happy when a kid checks out the same book a zillion times in a row, but actually it just keeps us up at night.

The Runaway Prince is one of those low-budget young adult fantasies from the mid-nineties, before J.K. Rowling arrived to tell everyone that magic was cool, printed on brittle yellow paper. It’s about a lonely boy who runs away and discovers a Magical Portal into another world where he has Medieval Adventures, but honestly there are so many typos most people give up before he even finds the portal.

Not this kid, though. He pulled it off the shelf and sat cross-legged in the juvenile fiction section with his grimy red backpack clutched to his chest. He didn’t move for hours. Other patrons were forced to double-back in the aisle, shooting suspicious, you-don’t-belong-here looks behind them as if wondering what a skinny black teenager was really up to while pretending to read a fantasy book. He ignored them.

The books above him rustled and quivered; that kind of attention flatters them. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 311: And Flights of Skuhwiggle


And Flights of Skuhwiggle

by Charles Lee McDaniel

“Hello, children. Quiet down and give me your attention. We have a super-duper treat for you this morning.”

Geez, Nurse Janina was laying it on thick. Jimmy’s hand tightened around the tall stool he held, and his stomach shrank to the size of a raisin.

Why are you worried? the familiar voice inside his head asked.

Because I’ve never done this before, Jimmy thought back.

Excuse me? The gooey green alien perched on Jimmy’s shoulder puffed out its rubbery chest and it squinted its almost-human eyes at him. Have you forgotten how we wowed the crowd at the school talent show? It was only a couple of weeks ago. I know you humans can’t compete with Astrofarians when it comes to memory, but even so…

It’s not that. Jimmy peeked past the curtain hiding him and Skuhwiggle from the rest of the ward. Twenty or so kids looked up at Nurse Janina, drinking in her tale of how Jimmy had supposedly met his alien friend.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 310: Little Wonders 18 – Transformation


A Cradle of Vines

by Jennifer Mace

There’s a plant in the hedgerow whose berries glimmer like starlight. Gyn passes it every morning on her way to school. Its leaves are waxy beneath her hands, small as the new baby’s fingernails and greener than grass stains on knees. They leave her skin smelling of peppermint.

The berries are blacker than midnight, blacker than her new father’s hair, and Gyn first notices them as her mother stops noticing her. They like to hide under hawthorn leaves or in the joints of holly bushes, but their silver shine in the winter sun gives them away. She’s smarter than the blackbirds and the robins. She understands hidden things.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 279: Random Play All and the League of Awesome


Random Play All and the League of Awesome

by Shane Halbach

Cyrus sat on the couch and crunched on a bowl of frosted wheat. Normally he would have sat at the table, but the table was currently covered with papers, folders and charts. His mom was finalizing her budget with her new business partner, Herman. There wasn’t much room in the one bedroom condo, so Cyrus was bumped to the couch.

He was sick to death of business plans and marketing and how much will it cost, so he put in his ear buds and switched his mp3 player on. He hit next to get a random song.

Can’t trust me but it’s not about trust
I make no sense, I am the walrus

Cyrus sprayed milk all over the coffee table.

He had been looking directly at Herman when that line played. He always though Herman looked like a walrus, with his droopy mustache and big belly.

(Continue Reading…)