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Cast of Wonders 457: Just Like the Speeding Heart


Just Like The Speeding Heart

by Osahon Ize-Iyamu

It’s seven A.M. and you’re making akara and tea, just for yourself and not for the two of us. You ask if it’s time, and it is, but I won’t tell you that. Let you be silent and make your tea and not speak. Let you be as you are—unhearing as ever, keeping this energy as I keep this information from you. Mama—Let you be blissful in ignorance, and let’s keep the silence of the morning as a beautiful thing, a hallowed memory.

Let this be true.
(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 454: The Fairy Queen


The Fairy Queen

by Lynn Buchanan

She made the first fairy by accident, with a twig she found under a hawthorn tree. It was a stick possessing the general shape of a human, with offshoots that resembled arms and legs, and a knot she called a head. Sitting in the shade of the tree, she wrapped a bit of twine around the twig’s torso, tearing off a piece of thread from the cuff of her sleeve and decorating the “arms” in tight white lines. With a ribbon pulled from her hair she clothed the stick, folding the silk into a tunic tied at the back with a bow. For hair she picked up a strand of leaves from the grass beside her, fastening the stem down the slope of the wooden face with three pieces of her own hair, pulled with a jerk and grimace from her skull and braided into a cord the color of sunsets. Last of all she attached to the twig’s back a set of butterfly wings, collected earlier that day from a trip to the garden. (Continue Reading…)

magic butterflies

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Cast of Wonders 452: Little Wonders 29 – Flash Fiction Contest Winners


Porch Light for the Lonely

by Alyson Grauer

When the wide western sky is black, embroidered with thousands of silver stars, and crickets sing unseen in the dry grass, critters come to the porch of the old house. The rug has long since lost its color from years of harsh sun. The wrought-iron bench is rusted, enamel flaking away like tree bark. The mailbox is crooked, and the torn curtains blow gently in the wind. Though it’s the sturdiest house left on the block, it sits unlived in, untrespassed. Only the flies and spiders know how empty it truly is inside.

Many cats come: strays, abandoned pets, and feral. They drape themselves about the empty porch, meowing with quiet yearning. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 431: Little Wonders 27 – Old Ladies


The Soup Witch’s Funeral Dinner

by Nicole LeBoeuf

One morning, late March, Sammy Tailor visited the soup witch. He hadn’t planned to. He was busy wrestling with his father’s crankiest sewing machine when the good smell from the soup witch’s cauldron yanked him out the door by his nose.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 430: Where a Heart Would Fit Perfectly


Where a Heart Would Fit Perfectly

by S. Qiouyi Lu

Penny looked in the mirror and frowned. No matter which way she turned, her dress seemed too sequined, too flashy, too… ridiculous. And her makeup felt garish even in the dim light backstage. But that was how all the dancers were made up—the stage lights would wash their faces out otherwise.

Just grin and bear it, Penny told herself. At least you’re getting paid this time. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 413: Little Wonders 25 – Hearts in Boxes


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 396: Staff Picks 2019 – Bunny


Bunny

by Amy Brennan

You are crying.

Salty tears dripping into my fur and steaming off in the dry heat.

You hug me tightly, I feel your ragged breathing, your shivers as you hold in the sobs that want to be free.

I want to offer more comfort, but what am I? – Just bits of fabric with plush stuffing, a pink button nose and a pair of beaded eyes. I can do no more than be hugged, do no more than silently offer sympathy, wish to the legendary stuffed toys of the past – and to Veleveteen most of all – that I can do more.

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 393: Staff Picks 2019 – Soul Cleaver Clarence

Show Notes

Matthew told us, “This story began life as a PodCastle flash fiction contest entry. While it only made it to the semi-finals, Katherine Inskip commented that she’d love to see a longer version submitted to Cast of Wonders. Armed with this encouragement, I worked to fill out the characters, their struggles, and a plot. It took a fair amount of feedback and editing, but I was delighted that the finished story was one that Cast of Wonders was interested in publishing!”


SOUL CLEAVER Clarence

by Matthew J. Jarvis

“My dear dragon,” the princess announced as she held aloft Clarence’s topaz windflower, its gemstone petals glinting beautifully in the sun. “These are, without doubt, the finest sculptures in all the land!” Around him the humans attending the faire clapped enthusiastically. “State your name, dragon, and ask any favor in my power to grant, for you have truly won first prize.”

Clarence glowed with pride. “My name is–“

“SOUL CLEAVER!”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 363: SOUL CLEAVER Clarence

Show Notes

Matthew told us, “This story began life as a PodCastle flash fiction contest entry. While it only made it to the semi-finals, Katherine Inskip commented that she’d love to see a longer version submitted to Cast of Wonders. Armed with this encouragement, I worked to fill out the characters, their struggles, and a plot. It took a fair amount of feedback and editing, but I was delighted that the finished story was one that Cast of Wonders was interested in publishing!”


SOUL CLEAVER Clarence

by Matthew J. Jarvis

“My dear dragon,” the princess announced as she held aloft Clarence’s topaz windflower, its gemstone petals glinting beautifully in the sun. “These are, without doubt, the finest sculptures in all the land!” Around him the humans attending the faire clapped enthusiastically. “State your name, dragon, and ask any favor in my power to grant, for you have truly won first prize.”

Clarence glowed with pride. “My name is–“

“SOUL CLEAVER!”

The thunder of his father’s roar shattered the late-afternoon quiet of the forest, as well as Clarence’s reverie. He clutched the real topaz windflower in his claws and frantically cast about for somewhere to hide it. (Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 287: Wished (Staff Picks 2017)

Show Notes

Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.

This week’s episode is hosted by assistant editor Dani Daly.


Wished

by Amanda Helms

The wishing well discovered its meaning in existence only through a case of mistaken semantics. In point of fact, it started its existence not as a wishing well but as a decorative fountain. In point of another fact, it was sentient, all of which is most unusual for either a decorative fountain or a wishing well.

The way these three unusual things came to be is this:

On one summer solstice, a mother and her toddler stopped by the decorative fountain in the middle of Longview Mall, a middling shopping center located in a middling town in middling America.

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Cast of Wonders 266: The Immobile God of Secrets

Show Notes

Theme music “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


The Immobile God of Secrets

by Jamie Lackey

Jun slogged through the rice paddy, muddy water swirling around her calves.  She glanced behind her, checking again to make sure that Reiko and her cronies hadn’t chased her.  The only figure in sight was a lone scarecrow, wearing a pointed straw hat and a tattered blue yukata.

Its face, two wide eyes and a softly smiling line for its mouth, was painted onto a rough woven sack, and its wooden pole tilted slightly to the left.  It looked like it could bounce away at any second–Jun couldn’t imagine a single crow braving it.

She bowed. “Thank you for your hospitality.”

“You are welcome anytime.”

Jun started back and almost fell.  She looked around again, but saw nothing but green stalks, heavy with yellowing rice, and the occasional glint of water.  She walked around the scarecrow.  Even the water was still–the only ripples were from her own passing.  She remembered her manners and bowed again.  “Thank you.”

“If you would stay and keep me company, I will share a secret with you.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Cast of Wonders 263: A Coat For Aodh

Show Notes

Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available from Promo DJ or his Facebook page.


A Coat for Aodh

by Ika Koeck

I have always hated the cold. It makes the simplest of tasks impossible. Trying to tighten the girth around a gelding that was holding his breath on purpose was already difficult with one weak hand and one bad leg. In the cold night, my numb hands simply refused to cooperate, and I was in the midst of heaving, puffing, and cursing the horse’s ancestors when Tipsy meowed and alerted me to a visitor.

I looked over my shoulder to see a young man of maybe fifteen summers, peeking from the side of the stall.

“I beg your pardon, sir,” he said, removing his top hat. “I’m looking for Miss Callan.”

“She isn’t here,” I said, hopping on my good leg and clinging to the saddle when the gelding turned around to face the visitor. I had spent an entire day on my feet evicting a clan of swamp fairies from the city sewers; a nasty affair that necessitated some bloodshed and a very long debrief with Her Majesty’s Chief Constable. I was not in the mood to entertain anymore clients.

(Continue Reading…)