Olive touched the tiny carbon fiber legs. They folded under her fingertip. The drone was dead. Its accumulator nodes held enough copper to get Olive through the next three days. Papa had always provided Olive with the inorganics she needed, but Papa hadn’t been home much since Mama stopped going to work and the second grandma arrived five days ago. (Continue Reading…)
• Narrated by M K Hobson
• Audio production by Jeremy Carter
• Originally published in Galaxy’s Edge (July/August 2015)
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Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favourite episodes. A different member of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2016 each week in January.
We hope you enjoy associate editor Alexis Goble’s favorite story from 2016, Miss Darcy’s First Intergalactic Ballet Class by Dantzel Cherry, narrated by M K Hobson. The story originally aired March 13, 2016 as Episode 201.
By day, Dantzel Cherry teaches pilates and raises her daughter, and by night/naptime she writes. Her baking hours follow no rhyme or reason. She is prone to dance as the need arises, and it often does. Her stories have appeared in Fireside, Galaxy’s Edge, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and other magazines and anthologies. She lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband, daughter, and requisite cat. Follow her online or on Twitter.
For your narrator we welcome back the fantastic M K Hobson, who has decided to follow a time-honored authorial tradition and become a bitter recluse. She swore off social media and left her website to go to seed. At the moment, she exists only as a voice on short fiction podcasts such as Podcastle and here at Cast of Wonders. She leavens the tedium of her vastly expanded free time with misanthropy, paranoia, and weight lifting. Detailing all of M K’s work in the Escape Artists arena might take longer than the story itself, so we’ve linked to her EA wikia page above, along with her socialmedia links.
Theme music is “Appeal to Heavens” by Alexye Nov, available at MusicAlley.com.
A special thank you to our audio producer Jeremy Carter for the excellent photo in this week’s episode artwork. Check out his Etsy shop, On The Edge Photos.
The Jungle Between
by Holly Schofield
I look over at my wife Anahita, where she squints at yesterday’s video of the theropod. She pushes her hair back from her sweaty forehead, the very picture of a field biologist. We have extended a canopy over our work area in front of the shuttle yet the temperature is still 34C and heat radiates up from the ground under my boots. I close my eyes for a second and roll my shoulders. In our ten days on Munroe Two, we have only collected minimal data on the tool-using parthenogenic dinosaurs, not enough to publish. Any conclusions will be iffy at best. Our allotted time ends tomorrow.
Unlike similar species back on Terra or on the fifteen other colonized planets, Munroe’s theropods balance on that evolutionary cutting edge. Anahita mutters in her sleep each night about reduced micro-aggressions and low degrees of intragroup conflict.
Our six-year-old daughter, Kelty, is equally enamored with the planet and with the theros–one dino in particular.
Walter Ocherman rolled along the two-lane highway at five miles an hour under the speed limit, scanning the road’s left-hand side for the turn-off to his uncle’s old pumpkin farm. Marked by nothing more than a dilapidated sign-post that might once have been green, the overgrown dirt road hidden between two poplars was easy to miss on a good day. The fog that rolled in off the river made finding the place harder, but nothing was going to wipe the grin off Walter’s lips. Today was Halloween and his ex, Minnie, had agreed to let their son come out to the farm with him for the night. Their first boys’ night in almost a year.
He glanced at Jason, who had spread his twelve-year old self over the back seat an hour ago, his straw-blond head pillowed on a stuffed pumpkin Walter had picked up at a yard sale to help set the holiday mood. His steady zzz-snerk snore could have been annoying, but Walter got so few chances to hear it that he turned off the radio. The news was depressing anyway, trying to settle a fog over more than just the river valley.
Walter looked back at the road just in time to glimpse the turn-off. He slammed on the brakes and torqued the wheel, holding his instinctive curse-word behind his teeth. His 1984 Civic’s gears squealed a skull-piercing protest and the right front bumper just missed colliding with a poplar. A sudden pressure in the back of his seat told him Jason was awake and braced.
Walter brought the car to a dead stop, his heart thudding.
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:
My grandmother would have disapproved of a Tinker in a Father Christmas suit, my customary dress in the children’s hospital each December. She believed no good could come of frivolity in our profession, when a routine procedure could end in tragedy. I saw her point when I found myself delivering bad news in costume to a 7-year-old and her sick friend on Christmas Eve.
Maria wasn’t supposed to be in Lia’s hospital room to begin with. She should have been in the Puppet Ward with her little brother Enzo, who was infected with puppetism. Instead, the two young girls curled up cross-legged on the hospital bed, divvying up sweets I knew Lia shouldn’t eat in her condition. Congenital heart failure didn’t require abstention from sugar, but with her transfer imminent, the Coromancers advised against heavy food, as it could interfere with medical magic.