Posts Tagged ‘family’

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Cast of Wonders 156: The Seal King (Part 1)


The Seal King (Part 1)

by Jennifer Noelle Welch

The girl with apricot-colored hair sits on a dock the color of driftwood, her back against a stone wall retaining the land against the push and pull of the sea. Buoys bob and clang. On this small peninsula on the shoulder of the Atlantic, close-set fishermen’s cottages cluster together for comfort. When the wind rakes the swells into whitecaps, yellow foul-weather waders lift on the clotheslines.

It is early September, and the saline haze of summer still hangs ripe and full over the harbor. Louellen, or Lou, as she is called, pulls the frayed cuffs of her father’s coat farther over her hands and presses her spine against the afternoon of too-busy family and heckling high-school classmates. The splashing kids have cleared the dock platform and small swimming beach for another season, leaving her mind to dance with everything and nothing.

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Cast of Wonders 152: Captain Cleveland Grackle’s Galactic Cabaret vs. The Goblins of Vishnu 6 (Staff Pick 2014)

Show Notes

Every year in January Cast of Wonders takes a break to catch our breath, plan out the year ahead, and highlight some of our favourite episodes from the year just passed.

We hope you enjoy Barry’s favorite story from 2014, Captain Cleveland Grackle’s Galactic Cabaret vs. The Goblins of Vishnu 6 by Jamieson Ridenhour, which originally aired November 17, 2013 as Cast of Wonders 104.


Captain Cleveland Grackle’s Galactic Cabaret vs.The Goblins of Vishnu 6

By Jamieson Ridenhour

Load-in is always a bitch on a gas giant gig, but the moisture off the methane sea on Vamana really played havoc with my drum heads. The city, Upendra, was a big, domed thing with old-school terra-forming and flora-powered atmos that amounted to a human-made jungle in the midst of the rocky moon. We were playing the Municipal Amphitheatre, a screamingly Corporate name that was typically boring and grandiose all at once. That we got booked at all is probably due more to the backwater status of Vishnu 6’s fifth moon than any real thought about whether we’d be a good fit—we were a hell of a lot cheaper than the big CorpMuses who played closer to Earth.

Not that any of this mattered, mind you. A gig’s a gig, and this one was if anything a little bigger than we usually pulled. I’m just saying that for the all the “professionalism” of the local staff and the “modern ease” with which the intra-dome transfer was supposed to run, we might as well have been playing a dive bar in the Pleiades. But we did get the equipment set up, ‘cause you always do, and we did get what could technically be called a sound-check before we were hustled off the stage so the other two bands on the roster could do the same.
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Cast of Wonders 150: Little Wonders 7 – The Season of Goodwill

Show Notes

You’re listening to Little Wonders, our thematic flash fiction collections. This week we bring you our final episode for 2014, and lucky number 150 – a pair of stories for the inspired by the Season of Goodwill.


The Secret Ingredient Is

by Emmalia Harrington

Susan stirred the pot of soup, frowning. Hunger was supposed to be the best seasoning, but the jar was empty and there was no time to prepare more. Besides, Great-Aunt would hate it if they served something like that to guests.

Stepping away from the stove, she scanned the shelves yet again. There was salt, garlic, peppercorns, nutmeg, allspice…nothing spoke to her. Rocking back on her heels, she tried to think of what Great-Aunt would do.

The first order of business would be to run to the garden to pull up the biggest, freshest and most colorful vegetables, and see how many eggs she could muster from the quail. Once that was done, Great-Aunt would run to the shopping district to wrangle an excellent price for smoked tea. She would follow this victory by purchasing fish that still smelled of the water, and filling her basket with bread still steaming from the oven.

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Cast of Wonders 149: Bricks and Sunlight


Bricks and Sunlight

by M. K. Hutchins

“Should I run and tell mother now that you’re not getting married today, Ara?”

Ara groaned and rolled off her mat onto the cool, mud-brick floor.  “Good morning to you, too, Esha.”

Esha, her younger sister, stared at her with large, expectant eyes.  Despite the early hour, her black hair was already plaited in a lovely crown.  Esha always looked perfect.

“Will you help me dress?”  Ara ran her hands through her own ratty hair.  If today ended in shambles, she might as well look half-decent when it did.

Esha wrinkled her nose.  “Why bother? You’re not getting married.  I know you don’t love him — the goddess’ gift will protect you from this wedding.”

That’s what she was afraid of.  She wanted this marriage.
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Cast of Wonders 141: Reading Time / A House in the Forest


Reading Time

by Beth Cato

We began to burn the books, and Dad tried to kill himself.

Almost all of the extra furniture had been burned over the previous month, leaving the upholstery and padding from sofas and chairs heaped on the big bed in what used to be just Mom’s and Dad’s room. Me and Taylor stayed in that room all day since heat rises, and we wore so many layers of clothes that it was hard to go up and down the stairs. Anyway, with so many of the walls and rooms empty, the whole house echoed so their voices really carried from the downstairs library.

“I can’t do this, Vick, I can’t. Burning books, like Nazis?”

“We are not burning books like Nazis. We’re burning books to keep our kids warm and alive. I’ve torn apart everything else first. You know that. The books are last.”

Dad made some sort of weird moan like a whale from an old nature show. “I know, I know. But if we make it out of here, what sort of world will it be without books? What sort of civilization–”

“Tom. Listen to yourself. We’re one family. There are other survivors out there. You’ve said yourself that a nuclear winter isn’t supposed to last long. It’s a drop in temperature, nothing permanent.”

“I thought it would be over by now. The smoke and debris should have cleared the atmosphere.”
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Cast of Wonders 140: Of Pumpkin Soup and Other Demons / The Ghost of Grammy Goneril

Show Notes

It’s October, everyone. That means it’s time for our annual Halloween special. This year we’ve gone for a theme, presenting a collection of horror stories about endings, both figurative and literal. The dead and the undying. Spirits sea monsters. Apocalypses writ both large and small. Welcome to The End of the World.


Of Pumpkin Soup and Other Demons

by Natalia Theodoridou

The shutters rattled in their hinges as rainy fists banged against the wood. Katina rubbed her knuckles. They made a creaky noise. “Old bones, what did you expect?” she chuckled. “Old bodies are as good as coffins.”

She stirred the pumpkin soup boiling on the stove and tasted her wooden spoon. “Almost ready.”

The wind pounded on the door with all his might and fury. It almost sounded like knocking.

“Are you set on tearing my house down?” she asked him.

Then, another knock. And another.

Katina looked at the door, her left eyebrow raised.

“Is someone there?” she asked.

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Cast of Wonders 138: Things We Leave Behind

Show Notes

Welcome, everyone, to our Banned Book Week special. Banned Book Week is an annual event every September that aims to raise awareness about censorship and to celebrate the right to read. Many local libraries and bookshops hold events to highlight and discuss the social, political and legal issues around literature. You can find out a lot more at the Banned Book Week website, or at another of my personal favorite websites, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, where you’ll find lots of resources including free posters for holding your own event.

To celebrate, Cast of Wonders is proud to present Things We Leave Behind, written and narrated by one of our veteran authors, Alex Shvartsman. You’ve heard Alex’s work previously in The Field Trip; You Bet, and our short Christmas tale Nuclear Family. Excellent stories, each.


Things We Leave Behind

by Alex Shvartsman

Some of my earliest memories are of books. They were everywhere in our apartment back in the Soviet Union; shelves stacked as high as the ceiling in the corridor and the living room, piles of them encroaching upon every nook and available surface like some benign infestation.

Strangers came by often, sometimes several times a day, and browsed the shelves. They spoke to my father, always quietly, as though they were in a library. Cash and books exchanged hands in either direction but there was little haggling, both parties reluctant to insult the books by arguing over their price like they might with a sack of potatoes.

I learned to read at the age of three. My parents showed off this talent proudly, bribing me with candy to sound out long, complicated words like “automobile” and “refrigerator” in front of their friends. I found it more difficult to pronounce the harsh Russian R’s than to put together the words written in Cyrillic block letters on scraps of paper.

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Cast of Wonders 107: The Surfacing


The Surfacing

by Kurt Newton

Eight-year-old Ellie Fortier exited the back door of her lakeside home into a clear moonlit night.  She was careful not to let the screen door slam shut. She didn’t want to wake her grandfather, who was babysitting her for the night but had fallen asleep in his favorite chair.  Her mom was at the hospital. Her dad — well, she didn’t want to think about her dad right now. What was more important was what she had to do.

Dressed in a light windbreaker, jeans and sneakers, she tiptoed down the back porch steps and hurried along the gravel path that led to the long wooden dock that pointed like a finger toward the center of the lake.  Lake Ochabee. When she reached the end of the dock, she hesitated.

She stared out into the open water.  She could feel its coldness and depth.  But she trusted it. If there was a God, she hoped he lay at the bottom of all that cold, dark water.

To her left, moored to the dock’s side, her father’s motorboat sat.  Alongside it, like a child close to its parent’s side, rested the small skiff Ellie’s father let her paddle around in.  As her small hands worked to untie the knotted rope, Ellie’s lips moved silently, repeating a chant she had begun fifteen minutes earlier after the phone call came informing her grandpa that there was still no change in her father’s condition. Daddy will be all right… Daddy will be all right… Oaky will fix it… Oaky will make it better…

Her fingers finally loosened the damp knot and she climbed down into the small boat. Without wasting any more time, she picked up the oars and began to row.
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Cast of Wonders 104: Captain Cleveland Grackle’s Galactic Cabaret vs. The Goblins of Vishnu 6

Show Notes

As you’ll hear in the outro, Jamieson’s inspiration for this story is the episode art for this week, a fair-haired young girl piloting a large mechanical fish. This arresting image was created by the exceptional artist Jasmine Becket-Griffith. You can find her work online here. Please go check it out! It’s well worth your time, and she has our thanks for allowing us to use the piece as this week’s episode art.


Captain Cleveland Grackle’s Galactic Cabaret vs. The Goblins of Vishnu 6

By Jamieson Ridenhour

Load-in is always a bitch on a gas giant gig, but the moisture off the methane sea on Vamana really played havoc with my drum heads. The city, Upendra, was a big, domed thing with old-school terra-forming and flora-powered atmos that amounted to a human-made jungle in the midst of the rocky moon. We were playing the Municipal Amphitheatre, a screamingly Corporate name that was typically boring and grandiose all at once. That we got booked at all is probably due more to the backwater status of Vishnu 6’s fifth moon than any real thought about whether we’d be a good fit—we were a hell of a lot cheaper than the big CorpMuses who played closer to Earth.

Not that any of this mattered, mind you. A gig’s a gig, and this one was if anything a little bigger than we usually pulled. I’m just saying that for the all the “professionalism” of the local staff and the “modern ease” with which the intra-dome transfer was supposed to run, we might as well have been playing a dive bar in the Pleiades. But we did get the equipment set up, ‘cause you always do, and we did get what could technically be called a sound-check before we were hustled off the stage so the other two bands on the roster could do the same.

I’m telling the story like I’m a veteran, but truth be told that gig was only my third or fourth with Cleveland Grackle’s Galactic Cabaret, even though the Neverending Tour was a full decade old by that point. This is right after they started using the mechanical fish during “Nearer to Land,” the one Kimmy would pilot out of the wings on invisible filaments when Peter began his guitar solo.
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