It’s that time of year again, so here are all the award eligible original stories that Cast of Wonders published in 2019. All 34 of them! You can hear more about which ones meant the most to the team as part of our Staff Picks episodes throughout January (and there were some rather rambunctious back-stage fights over who would get to pick some of them… oh, the drama!)
Five Functions of Your Bionosaur
by Rachael K. Jones
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.
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–“
by Kate Cobey
“Just don’t treat her like anything less than a person,” Mama fretted from the front row of the cab. Never mind that this was the fourth time we’d come to see her, and we’d heard the same plea every single time. Cautiously, Mama asked the white hospital archway next to her, “May we enter?”
“Card?” responded the building.
“You don’t need to be so formal. It’s just a robot,” Nina complained from the back. “It’s aaaall robots, here.”
Why I Spared the One Brave Soul Between Me and My Undead Army
by Setsu Uzume
I am loathe to admit that the ambush was masterful. Not only had the bounty hunters slain my contacts, but they had done so in the right order — dispatching the Ritualist before she had any corpses to animate. Had I come on horseback, they would have had me, too.
In addition to my dead allies and their hobbled wagon, I counted four hunters lumbering through the dark. Big lads, experienced and well-equipped, but given the style of their breastplates they had come from the west — tracking the cultists and not me. It made them slow and ill-prepared to face me in my glory. I whirled, my shadow splitting off to pierce kidneys and slice the backs of their knees while I led them a merry dance through dead leaves and bracken. One of them even turned, his blade slashing a wide arc, but shadows have no heads to remove. Him, I killed the quickest.
Hello everyone, Marguerite here.
The new year and a new decade are around the corner, and with them comes change. Our last episode of 2019 — Effie Seiberg’s glorious The Tale of Descruptikn and the Product Launch Requirements Documentation — marks my last as Cast of Wonders’ editor. (Continue Reading…)
The Tale of Descruptikn and the Product Launch Requirements Documentation
by Effie Seiberg
Once upon a time there was an associate project manager named Jaime. She knew she was lucky to have this job – so many others in her graduating class were still juggling nanny gigs and catering gigs and tutoring gigs and so many side hustles they could’ve been a dodecahedron.
It was at a small company that ostensibly helped foreign students find scholarships for American colleges, but actually if you looked closely you could see that the company didn’t do much and was just a vanity project so the founder could say he was innovating and disrupting and other such nonsense buzzwords. Considering how little the company actually accomplished, Jamie was astonished that she was the one hundredth person to join the team. (Continue Reading…)
by Melissa Mead
When Alejandra was nine, her mother died of dehydration. When she was ten, Alejandra made her father bring her to the Luchadores’ barracks. The three ancient wizards who would choose the boy who would become the next Luchador weren’t pleased. They almost sent Alejandra’s father to the hellstone mines, where men died with their limbs charred black. Then Alejandra marched up to the eldest of the Magos, the one in flame-red silk, and demanded that he make the bull-man stop waking her up at night. The other two Magos, in silk as gold as the sun and as blue as the sky, gasped. The first wizard scowled.
“What do you mean, child?”
“The bull with the man-face. He came when Mama died. He comes in the dark, and whispers to me.” (Continue Reading…)
The First, the Second, the Third
by Katherine Kendig
In the winter, the mornings are colder inside than out. Lily sings at the window, her voice wending its way toward the barn, the willow grove, the creek, as pure as the snow it floats over. Her breath frosts as she sings, her gaze fixed on the horizon where the church is the only part of town we can see. Margot huddles in bed, her hair tousled over her face, shivering. Margot has never been able to stand the cold. (Continue Reading…)
The Rose Sisterhood
by Susan Taitel
My Sisters and I await the next girl. She will be beautiful. We always are. We hope she’ll be the one to break the curse, that she will have the wherewithal to see our master as he truly is. To succeed where we all failed. (Continue Reading…)
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…)
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…)