Once he was out of the hotel, Simms decided to make his walk a long one. The night air was pleasantly cool, and the parks in this section of the city were quite well maintained. It was nice to, for once, be able to take a stroll on a level path and without having to carry a machete as a precaution besides. The streetlights had come on and the streets were beginning to surge with people headed to supper appointments as he finally turned back toward the hotel, Chippy still eagerly bouncing ahead of him. (Continue Reading…)
“…and I’ve written it all down here,” Simms said, offering a tattered notebook to the Captain. “After a while, all the speculation got so wild I couldn’t keep track of it all. There wasn’t a single name that showed up on the list more than twice, I checked.”
Simms waggled the notebook at her, trying to draw attention away from her gently steaming coffee cup. They’d met up in one of the many coffee shops they routinely used for that purpose. Captain Ramos had entered with an exhausted, panting Chippy tucked under her arm like a purse and set him in her lap as soon as she’d sat. The little dog had proceeded to fall into boneless sleep, the Captain’s hand idly tracing figures on his pale little forehead. It was all very odd, disquieting almost. In Simms’s years of knowing her, Captain Ramos had never showed any sort of interest in animals, let alone affection—and hadn’t she been all set to shoot the poor thing before?
Though far more disturbing was the fact that she didn’t seem to be listening to him, in a real sense, rather than that studied nonchalance with which she normally took reports, indicating her mind was working furiously.
Simms had greeted his change of costume with relief, finding himself far more comfortable in the clothes of a lower-class laborer than those of a gentleman. He felt nearly buoyant after ridding himself of the hated collar and turned his energy fully to the task of finding out more about Clementine Nimowitz’s missing maid. Or as the Captain often put it, “Turning over all of the obvious and boring stones.” This was fine with Simms; boring was his loudly proclaimed preference. (Continue Reading…)
They met Elijah among the warehouses not too far from Union Station. He’d brought one of the more innocent looking railcars down from the mountains and thus was able to berth it along the public tracks. Elijah Masterson was a man of medium height and untidy habits, though today he seemed particularly untidy, perhaps because he’d been called down so abruptly. His brown hair stuck out in untamed curls and a shadow of stubble decorated his chin. He wore a rumpled brown-checked shirt, one sleeve half rolled-up, and a vest he hadn’t bothered to button, no jacket in sight.
Or, Simms thought upon a closer look at the younger man’s rather red eyes, today he wasn’t so much untidy as quite hung over. This really only served to affirm Simms’s decision to give him this task. It’d certainly keep him out of trouble.
Elijah still offered the Captain a snappy salute, after first glancing around to confirm that they were alone. “Sir, I was told you had an important task for me.”
Captain Ramos waved a hand dismissively. “Oh indeed, Mister Masterson. Simms?”
Obligingly, he held Chippy out toward Elijah. The tiny dog began to squirm, yipping excitedly at the prospect of making a new friend. “Here you go.” (Continue Reading…)
The Curious Case of Miss Clementine Nimowitz (and her Exceedingly Tiny Dog)
by Alex Acks
It was a perfectly ordinary parlor, nicely decorated, pale lace doilies sitting atop furniture done in heavy brown and gold brocade. The general color scheme was maroon and brown, with enough pink and yellow accents to keep it all from seeming too heavy or dark. While many such parlors were given to clutter as the wealthy owners attempted to display both their taste and overflow of cash with countless bits of frilly golden bric-a-brac, this one was neat and carefully tended, enough empty space around objects to draw the eye and invite inspection without being overwhelming. It was austere and quietly dignified.
The careful effect of the decorating was, quite unfortunately, spoiled by the body majestically putrefying in the center of the rich carpet, a petite pistol with a mother-of-pearl grip still sitting in its lax hand. Even more disturbing to the serenity of the parlor was the shockingly tiny dog that stood next to the body, the white fur of its muzzle rusty with old blood. The little animal growled in what was presumably a threatening manner, though it sounded more like a teakettle burbling than anything else. (Continue Reading…)
Cadence had overheard Mother Reed and Mother Piper saying so in the kitchen, last night, after they were done singing to it. She didn’t know how they could tell–it looked just like her little sisters’ eggs had. Maybe a bit bigger than theirs had been at three days old, but otherwise the same: fat as a pumpkin and ribbed like one, flushed with the faintest hint of venous blue. It looked like the dead jellyfish that would sometimes wash up on the beach, plump and gelatinous, clear near the surface and fibrous white at its heart, making you want to dig your fingers in, or maybe take a bite. (Continue Reading…)
Studies on the Impact of Homeschooling, or When Not to Wear a Tuxedo
by R. Rozakis
“Daddy, can I use the atom scramblizer?” Hilde kicked her heels against the metal cabinet she was perched on.
“No, pumpkin.” All she could see of him were his feet sticking out from underneath the giant chassis.
“How about the temporal destabilizer?”
“Can I at least graft some new wings onto Spuffy?”
Her father slid out from under the chassis, pushing his goggles up onto his forehead. Dr. Acheron von Phlogiston never went anywhere without his goggles. He’d even convinced them to let him keep them during his jail stints. Not that those ever lasted long before he’d craft an ingenious device from common cutlery and break his way free once more. “Sweet pea, we’re at a critical juncture in this plan and I need to concentrate. Can’t you find something to do in your room?” (Continue Reading…)
The Hammer-Royal Ten Step Model for Making the Superhero A List
by Jason Kimble
1. Have super powers
Mom and Dad insist I’m too young to consider a career in the hero business, but I’m seventeen and I need to prepare. I figure if I pay attention, I can put it all together. I’ve only got the one piece for the list right now, but I know I’ll add more as we go. (Continue Reading…)
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.
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. (Continue Reading…)
• Narrated by M K Hobson
• Audio production by Jeremy Carter
• Originally published in Galaxy’s Edge (July/August 2015)
• Discuss this story on our forum
• For a list of all our stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia page
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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.
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: