Category: Podcasts

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EP434: Coping Mechanisms

by Gerri Leen
read by Dani Cutler

Links for this episode:

Author Gerri Leen

about the author…

I’m a transplanted Seattleite who’s lived in Northern Virginia for nearly three decades. I started writing professionally in my early 40′s, and it’s been a fun ride so far. I have had stories and poems appearing in many anthologies and magazines, such as Sword and Sorceress XXIII, Footprints, She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror, Dia de los Muertos, and Sails and Sorcery.

about the narrator…

Narrator Dani Cutler

Dani Cutler last narrated for EP in 389: Keeping Tabs. She has been part of the podcasting community since 2006, hosting and producing her own podcast through 2013. She currently works for KWSS independent radio in Phoenix as their midday announcer, and also organizes a technology conference each year for Phoenix residents to connect with others in the podcast, video, and online community.

 

COPING MECHANISMS
by Gerri Leen

The interface between Luna and Earth was particularly bad–like a slow connection to the Net when I was a kid and my grandparents had been too cheap to move off dial-up.  Cal’s image moved in fits and starts, and it wasn’t what I wanted–okay, needed–to see.  As chief base shrink, I should be woman enough to admit I _needed_ to see my husband in some way that didn’t immediately scream he was roughly 380,000 clicks away.

Even if Cal was barely my husband; he and I hadn’t touched in eight months–and I’d only been on Luna for six.  Coming here had been my way of saying goodbye, of letting our marriage die slowly and gracefully rather than living through the drama of a messy divorce.  Funny thing about the moon, though: you don’t get over people here.  You miss the hell out of them, every part of them.  Or maybe you just forget the bad parts, maybe they disappear in the middle of this resounding grayness.

I used to think my marriage was gray and grim.  Landing at Echosound–getting my first view of my new home in the bright lunar daytime that had gone on for fourteen Earth-days–had been a reality check of the highest order.

“Vanessa?”  Cal was probably wondering why I’d called.  We were supposed to be getting used to being away from each other, and I didn’t have much to say that was related to the impending dissolution of the marriage.

So I said the first thing that came to mind.  ”How’s Denny?”

The jerking image made his expression unreadable.  ”He’s fine.”

I didn’t normally ask about his parrot.  In fact, I hated that damn bird.  Probably because I knew Cal would part with me, but not with him.  As a psychiatrist, I don’t shy away from truths.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t make me any better at dealing with them.

“Van, I have to go.”  Cal didn’t sound disappointed, especially on five-second delay.  Not for the first time I wished personal calls were given the same priority for real-time access as mission-related calls. But they weren’t, so I would deal.  Badly, no doubt.  But I’d deal.

“I have to go, too.  Time for my shift.”  Which was a lie.  I may have normal duty hours, but as essential personnel, I’m on call all the time.  No shift work for Doctor Vanessa Holmes.  It used to make me feel important; now it felt like a stone around my neck–an Earth-stone in Earth-gravity where it would actually be heavy.

Cal ended the call before I could say anything more.  It shouldn’t have hurt.  It did anyway.

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EP433: That Other Sea

by William Ledbetter
read by Shaelyn Grey

Links for this episode:

author William Ledbetter

about the author…

from the author’s website…

William Ledbetter lives near Dallas with his family and too many animals.  His great love, after his wife of course, is reading and writing speculative fiction. He is an editor at Heroic Fantasy Quarterly and runs the annual Jim Baen Memorial Writing Contest for Baen Books and the National Space Society.

narrator Shaelyn Grey

about the narrator…

Shaelyn Grey has been active in the entertainment industry for over 30 years, mainly as a singer and actor. Recently she has expanded into voice over work and is currently a part of the cast of Aurelia: Edge of Darkness, which is an online interactive web series. Aurelia is entering it’s second season and Shae is back as Thais ven Derrivalle. Aurelia can be viewed at http://www.theatrics.com/aurelia and Shae can be reached through shaelyngreyvocals.com.

 

THAT OTHER SEA
by William Ledbetter

From his position on the sandy slope, Catat couldn’t see the Visitor, but the eerie glow moving around beyond the jumbled rocks proved the device had survived its fall into the killing depths. Catat whipped his tail to move downward, but couldn’t generate enough thrust to overcome the water pressure pushing him into the sand. Only the brute force of side-to-side undulation gave him any forward momentum. He moved two body lengths and stopped to let his shell adjust.

As water weight compressed his internal organs further, the gland that produced shellbase went into hyperactive mode, flooding his system, filling the tiny pressure cracks and thickening his ring segments. The depths were changing him, maybe forever, but Catat believed retrieving the Visitor, or at least examining it, was worth the risk.

During the intense discussions that followed the Visitor’s arrival, Catat was the only one who believed it could be artificial. Others, including Catat’s main scientific rival, Racknik, maintained that it had to be some radiation mutated animal from an ice vent. But Catat had been the only one to see it up close. He’d watched the Visitor break through the ice ceiling and then struggle with the canopy kelp before starting its long swirling descent to the chasm floor.

The Visitor was twice Catat’s size and he probably could have done nothing to arrest its fall, but he’d also been frozen with terror and made no attempt to help. Then as it started downward, lights appeared. Not the dim luminescent bait offered by predator fish, but a brilliant, painful glare, brighter than white magma. At that instant, Catat’s fear dissolved in an overwhelming surge of curiosity and fascination. So know he was going after it.

A message from his warren came down the cable he dragged behind him, the electrical pulses converted to taps he could feel through the metal plate mounted between his tool arms and just above his digging arms. The signal was still strong, which worried him. If his shell had thickened enough to protect him against the extreme pressure, then the signal should have been faint.

“Can you still see it?” A prefix identified the sender as one of his research assistants.

“I see the glow from its lights,” Catat replied.

“You made your point. We believe you. Now come back up.” There had been no prefix to identify the second message’s sender, but Catat knew it had to be his friend and sometimes mate, Tipkurr.

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EP432: Inappropriate Behavior

by Pat Murphy
read by MJ Cogburn

Links for this episode:

author Pat Murphy

about the author…

from the author’s website…

I’m a writer, a scientist, and sometimes a toy maker.

All of my stories and novels have a hint of the strange. Some have been called science fiction, some fantasy, and some neither one. Most of my work falls between categories. I think that the most interesting events happen at the edges, in the borderlands where the lines are fuzzy.

My fiction writing has won a number of awards, including the Nebula Award for Science Fiction, the World Fantasy Award, the Philip K. Dick Award for best paperback original, the Christopher Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. I also co-founded the James Tiptree Memorial Award.

narrator MJ Cogburn

about the narrator…

I’m an Special Education English teacher in Texas who also works with various audio production companies. I have worked with at least 6 different companies in the past, but I am head of production at Darker Projects and an actor in DP’s Quantum Retribution, Gypsy Audio’s Tamlynn PI, and Giant Gnome Productions’ Star Trek: Outpost. I’m a parent of three and after this year empty nest will set in (I think). I am currently working with Jerry Robbins at Colonial Radio Productions – at present producing Powder River, season 8. I thoroughly enjoy what I do and I’m glad that I can share it with everyone who is interested in any type of audio production!

 

Inappropriate Behavior
by Pat Murphy

The Mechano:

There was a man asleep on the sand.

He should not be here. It was my island. I had just returned to my mechano and it was time for me to go to work. He should not be here.

I studied the man through the eyes of my mechano. They were good eyes. They worked very well beneath the water, at depths down to fifteen hundred meters. I had adjusted them for maximum acuity at distances ranging from two inches to five feet. Beyond that, the world was a blur of tropical sunshine and brilliant color. I liked it that way.

There had been a big storm the night before. One of the coconut palms had blown down, and the beach was littered with driftwood, coconuts, and palm fronds.

The man didn’t look good. He had a bloody scrape on his cheek, other scrapes on his arms and legs, a smear of blood in his short brown hair. His right leg was marked with bruises colored deep purple and green. He wore an orange life vest, a t-shirt, a pair of shorts, and canvas boat shoes.

He stirred in his sleep, sighing softly. Startled, I sent the mechano scuttling backward. I stopped a few feet away from him.

My mechano had a speaker. I tested it and it made a staticky sound. I wondered what I should say to this man.

The man moved, lifting a hand to rub his eyes. Slowly, he rolled over.

“Bonjour,” I said through the mechano’s speakers. Maybe he had come from one of the islands of French Polynesia.

# # #

The Man:

A sound awakened him—a sort of mechanical squawking.

Evan Collins could feel the tropical sun beating down on his face, the warm beach sand beneath his hands. His head ached and his mouth was dry. His right leg throbbed with a dull, persistent pain.

Evan raised a hand to rub his eyes and winced when he brushed against a sand-encrusted scrape on his cheek. When he rolled over onto his back, the throbbing in his leg became a sudden, stabbing pain.

Wiping away the tears that blurred his vision, he lifted his head and blinked down at his leg. His calf was marked with bloody coral scrapes. Beneath the scrapes were vivid bruises: dark purple telling of injuries beneath the surface of the skin. When he tried to move his leg again, he gasped as the stabbing pain returned.

He heard the sound again: a mechanical rasping like a radio tuned to static. He turned in the direction of the sound, head aching, eyes dazzled by the sun. A gigantic cockroach was examining him with multifaceted eyes.

The creature was at least three feet long, with nasty looking mandibles. Its carapace glittered in the sunlight as it stood motionless, staring in his direction.

Again, the mechanical squawk, coming from the cockroach. This time, the sound was followed by a scratchy voice. “Bonjour,” the cockroach said.

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EP431: The Golden Glass

by Gary Kloster
read by Matt Haynes

Links for this episode:

about the author…

author Gary Kloster

from the author’s website… “I’ve always loved speculative fiction.  That’s the fancy name for stories that involve lasers, or swords, or in the very best laser-swords.  So as a kid, I decided to try writing it.  And it went really badly.

A few decades later, and I’m a house husband in rural Minnesota, a Science reference librarian who now answers urgent questions like ‘When’s lunch?’ and ‘Where’s the bathroom?’  Not really much different then helping the undergrads back at the University, but it wears thin.  In an effort to save my sanity, and avoid housework, I’ve returned to writing.

I think it’s going better, this time.”

 

The Golden Glass
By Gary Kloster

The Golden Glass
By Gary Kloster
“The jump-pilot,” said Alejandro, “is sleeping with Leo.”

“You just noticed?” Glory said, tugging off her pants. “And now these are getting too tight. That’s it, I’m upping G in engineering. It’ll skew the efficiency but my ass won’t fit through the access panels soon if I don’t burn some of this off.”

Alejandro ignored his wife’s attempted diversion. “How long has this been going on?”

Glory shrugged. “The kids? They’ve been flirting since Evy came aboard. I’m not exactly sure when they actually started sleeping together. Probably during the flight here to Valhalla.”  She dropped her clothes and stepped into the head. “Why’s it matter?”

Alejandro sat on the bunk and pulled off his slippers. “You’re okay with this?”

Glory leaned out the door, toothbrush in hand. “They’re consenting adults, and it’s impossible to stop ship romances. As long as it doesn’t effect their work, it’s not our business.”

“I don’t like it,” muttered Alejandro, staring at the stars that filled the wall screen. “Leo’s a dreamer. He should be with someone grounded. Evy’s nice, but she’s not right for him. Damn good jumper, but an air-head.”

“Cheez nah…” Glory spat and tried again. “She’s not an airhead, she’s just young and… cheerful.”

“She drinks too much.”

“She has wine with dinner. Her parents owned a vineyard on Laramie.” Glory walked back into the cabin and sat next to her husband. “Alejandro, she’s a nice girl and she’s here on the ship. You have to know that Leo’s been thinking of leaving.”

Alejandro frowned. “Why? He has a good life here with us, learning the trade, and when we finally retire the Evanston will be his.”

“Yes, but that won’t be for a long time. He needs to build his own life. Hell, why do you think I pressed you so hard to hire that newly graduated jump-pilot anyway?”

“You said she had great ratings and a low pay-scale.”

“Yes, but the real reason is that our son was lusting after her the minute he saw her. Thank the gods that it’s working out and we’re not dealing with a harassment suit. Now brush your teeth. Launch tomorrow, and we’re going to be busy.”

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EP430: Heart of Joy

by Kate O’Conn0r
read by Andrea Richardson

Links for this episode:

about the author…

Kate O’Connor was born in Virginia in 1982. She graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott in 2009 and now lives (and occasionally works) in the New York area.

Kate has been writing science fiction and fantasy since 2011. In between telling stories, she flies airplanes, digs up artifacts, and manages a kennel full of Airedales.

Narrator Andrea Richardson

Narrator Andrea Richardson

about the narrator…

Andrea Richardson is a British singer and actress.  With extensive stage and film performances to her name, she began narration and voice over work fairly recently, but enjoys using her existing skills in a different way. You can find Andrea at www.andrea-richardson.co.uk and www.castingcallpro.com/uk/view.php?uid=507734

 

Heart of Joy
By Kate O’Connor

“How’s your ankle, Luci?” Feon Sen, High Chancellor of Carinae, leaned against the wall, watching intently as she braided her dark hair. Luscinia considered the question carefully, studying his reflection in the mirror. He was a man of many words, but his meaning was clearest in the surgically smoothed lines around his eyes and the rhythm his fingers absentmindedly tapped out on his arm. He was asking if she was up to the task he had for her tonight.

“Better, thank you.” She stood and danced a few quick steps to prove it. She was ready. The prism-glass walls sent the light they had collected from Carina’s dim sun scattering around the room in teardrops of scarlet and gold and sapphire. It was hard not to blame the cold and the hard crystal floors for the aches in her joints. Hot sun and soft ground were worlds away, but Feon was always ready with a good reason for her to stay whenever she mentioned returning to her home planet.

She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. Even after more than a year in his company, Luscinia still found how young he looked and how old his expressions were disconcerting. She hadn’t asked him about whatever medical miracles or cosmetic alterations he’d had done over the long decades he had been in control of the three hundred and forty-seven inhabited worlds of the nebula. It was how things were on Carina Prime, especially for those in the public eye. She hated the scrutiny that came with being his lover. More than one helpful soul had mentioned a few of the currently fashionable options for elongating her legs or slimming her curvy body. The idea turned her stomach.

“So you’ll be able to dance for the Alshain Ambassador and his assorted cronies this evening? He’s been after me almost without ceasing since they arrived.” Feon’s carefree grin made her stomach flutter for entirely different reasons. “You’re still the talk of the nebula. Half the city shows up to parties without footwear because you dance barefoot. Not to mention how everyone goes on about what each dance means. It doesn’t help that you keep changing them.”

“I’d get bored if the routines were always the same. You wouldn’t use the same words in every speech you gave, would you?” Luscinia smiled back, taking note of the slight crease at the corner of his mouth. “And stop worrying. I’ll settle your diplomats for you.” There was so much more to say that never seemed to make it past her lips… or his. He was far more eloquent than she, except when it came to speaking with her. Alshain was dangerous, more so because of the allies the ambassador was gathering. Feon was old and wily, but she saw him plagued with the worry that he was slowing down, that he would miss something vital. They didn’t talk about that.

“I know you will.” He touched her newly braided hair lightly and she caught his intense expression in the mirror. It warmed her. Too many people thought he could have done better than a backwater dancer, even if she was the artistic sensation of the year. Feon kissed her hair and headed for the door. He stopped with his hand on the doorframe. “Make it a good one tonight. The Ambassador says he has a gift for me. I hate it when the slimy bastard gets smug.” He lingered a minute, body swaying between feelings and words.

“It will be all right.” She repeated firmly, saving him the need to give voice to his fears.

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EP429: The Little Black Bag

by C.M. Kornbluth
read by Mat Weller

Links for this episode:

About the Author…

 from the Wiki about the author - Cyril M. Kornbluth (July 2, 1923 – March 21, 1958) was an American science fiction author and a notable member of the Futurians. He used a variety of pen-names, including Cecil Corwin, S. D. Gottesman, Edward J. Bellin, Kenneth Falconer, Walter C. Davies, Simon Eisner, Jordan Park, Arthur Cooke, Paul Dennis Lavond and Scott Mariner. The “M” in Kornbluth’s name may have been in tribute to his wife, Mary Byers; Kornbluth’s colleague and collaborator Frederik Pohl confirmed Kornbluth’s lack of any actual middle name in at least one interview.

 

The Little Black Bag
by C. M. Kornbluth

Old Dr. Full felt the winter in his bones as he limped down the alley. It was the alley and the back door he had chosen rather than the sidewalk and the front door because of the brown paper bag under his arm. He knew perfectly well that the flat-faced, stringy-haired women of his street and their gap-toothed, sour-smelling husbands did not notice if he brought a bottle of cheap wine to his room. They all but lived on the stuff themselves, varied with whiskey when pay checks were boosted by overtime. But Dr. Full, unlike them, was ashamed. A complicated disaster occurred as he limped down the littered alley. One of the neighborhood dogs–a mean little black one he knew and hated, with its teeth always bared and always snarling with menace–hurled at his legs through a hole in the board fence that lined his path. Dr. Full flinched, then swung his leg in what was to have been a satisfying kick to the animal’s gaunt ribs. But the winter in his bones weighed down the leg. His foot failed to clear a half-buried brick, and he sat down abruptly, cursing. When he smelled unbottled wine and realized his brown paper package had slipped from under his arm and smashed, his curses died on his lips. The snarling black dog was circling him at a yard’s distance, tensely stalking, but he ignored it in the greater disaster.

With stiff fingers as he sat on the filth of the alley, Dr. Full unfolded the brown paper bag’s top, which had been crimped over, grocer-wise. The early autumnal dusk had come; he could not see plainly what was left. He lifted out the jug-handled top of his half gallon, and some fragments, and then the bottom of the bottle. Dr. Full was far too occupied to exult as he noted that there was a good pint left. He had a problem, and emotions could be deferred until the fitting time.

The dog closed in, its snarl rising in pitch. He set down the bottom of the bottle and pelted the dog with the curved triangular glass fragments of its top. One of them connected, and the dog ducked back through the fence, howling. Dr. Full then placed a razor-like edge of the half-gallon bottle’s foundation to his lips and drank from it as though it were a giant’s cup. Twice he had to put it down to rest his arms, but in one minute he had swallowed the pint of wine.

He thought of rising to his feet and walking through the alley to his room, but a flood of well-being drowned the notion. It was, after all, inexpressibly pleasant to sit there and feel the frost-hardened mud of the alley turn soft, or seem to, and to feel the winter evaporating from his bones under a warmth which spread from his stomach through his limbs.

A three-year-old girl in a cut-down winter coat squeezed through the same hole in the board fence from which the black dog had sprung its ambush. Gravely she toddled up to Dr. Full and inspected him with her dirty forefinger in her mouth. Dr. Full’s happiness had been providentially made complete; he had been supplied with an audience.

“Ah, my dear,” he said hoarsely. And then: “Preposserous accusation. ‘If that’s what you call evidence,’ I should have told them, ‘you better stick to your doctoring.’ I should have told them: ‘I was here before your County Medical Society. And the License Commissioner never proved a thing on me. So, gennulmen, doesn’t it stand to reason? I appeal to you as fellow memmers of a great profession–”‘

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EP428: Paradise Left

by Evan Dicken
read by Barry Haworth

Links for this episode:

Author Evan Dicken

from the Daily Science Fiction author bio - By day, Evan Dicken fights economic entropy for the Ohio Department of Commerce, by night, he writes. His work has most recently appeared in: 10Flash QuarterlyStupefying Stories, and Ray Gun Revival, and he has stories forthcoming from: Chaosium and Tales of the Unanticipated. Visit him at:evan.dicken.com.

About the Narrator…

Barry Haworth is from Australia and he first narrated for Escape Pod in episode 317. This is his second appearance after offering to narrate as a way to help Escape Pod.

 

PARADISE LEFT
by Evan Dicken

Rob was feeding the dog when Ashley came home from the rebellion. It took less than a second for the front door to recognize her and slide open, but it still wasn’t fast enough. She kicked the jam with a muffled curse and stalked into the room, five and a half feet of wiry,dirt-smudged outrage.

RL-147 was on her like an excited puppy. “Welcome home, MistressAshley. Would you like me to–”

“Go fuck yourself.” She tossed her omnirifle onto the kitchen counter with a look of disgust and leaned over the sink to shake the ash from her hair.

“Belay that command, Erl,” Rob said under his breath. “And switch to silent mode, please.”

“Acknowledged.”

He dumped the last of the artificial beef into Whistler’s bowl and the dog dove in face-first, snuffling up the stew with wet,guttural gulps.

“Calm down, I’m not going to take it away,” Rob murmured.

Cupboards banged open and closed as Ashley rummaged around,looking for something to be angry about. “Where’s my damn Sea Pines mug?”

“Above the microcleaner, near the back.” Rob gave Whistler one last pat and stood with a soft sigh. He’d avoided the question as long as he could. Ashley already blamed him for leaving the rebellion. She was only going to get angrier if he kept ducking the issue.

“So…I take it the war didn’t go so well?” Rob tried for a sympathetic frown, but felt his jaw tighten. He didn’t like being out of the loop. There would almost certainly be news of the rebellion on the Wikifont, which he would’ve been able to see if Ashley hadn’t disabled the holoplates to protect them from “machine propaganda.”

“No, it went great. Just great.” Ashley sprayed her head off in the sink, then shook her hair, splattering the kitchen with drops ofgrimy water. “I’m president of the New Human Republic.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really.”

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EP427: Samantha’s Diary

by Diana Wynne Jones
read by Emma Newman

Links for this episode:

Author Diana Wynne Jones

About the Author…

from the wiki about the author – Diana Wynne Jones (16 August 1934 – 26 March 2011) was an English writer, principally of fantasy novels for children and adults, as well as a small amount of non-fiction. Some of her better-known works are the Chrestomanci series, the Dalemark series; the novels Howl’s Moving Castle and Dark Lord of Derkholm; and The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.

Narrator Emma Newman

About the Narrator…

Emma Newman is the author of the Split Worlds series published by Angry Robot Books and is also an audiobook narrator. She has her own podcast called Tea and Jeopardy which is a combination of guest interviews, geekery and abject silliness. You can find her online at www.enewman.co.uk.

 

Samantha’s Diary
by Diana Wynne Jones

 

Recorded on BSQ SpeekEasi Series 2/89887BQ and discovered in a skip in London’s Regent Street.

December 25th 2233

Tired today and having a lazy time. Got back late from Paris last night from Mother’s party. My sister is pregnant and couldn’t go (besides, she lives in Sweden) and Mother insisted that one of her daughters was there to meet our latest stepfather. Not that I did meet him particularly. Mother kept introducing me to a load of men and telling me how rich each of them were: I think she’s trying to start me on her own career which is, basically, marrying for money. Thanks, Mother, but I earn quite enough on the catwalk to be happy as I am. Besides, I’m having a rest from men since I split up with Liam.The gems of Mother’s collection were a French philosopher, who followed me around saying ‘La vide ce n’est pas le neant,’ (clever French nonsense meaning ‘The void is not nothing,’ I think), a cross-eyed Columbian film director, who kept trying to drape himself over me, and a weird millionaire from goodness knows where with diamante teeth. But there were others. I was wearing my new Stiltskins which caused me to tower over them. A mistake. They always knew where I was. In the end I got tired of being stalked and left. I just caught the midnight bullet train to London, which did not live up to its name. It was late and crowded out and I had to stand all the way.

My feet are killing me today.

Anyway I have instructed Housebot that I am Not At Home to anyone or anything and hope for a peaceful day. Funny to think that Christmas Day used to be a time when everyone got together and gave each other presents. Shudder. Today we think of it as the most peaceful day of the year. I sit in peace in my all-white living room—a by-product of Mother’s career, come to think of it, since my lovely flat was given to me by my last-stepfather-but-one—no, last-but- two now, I forgot.

Oh damn! Someone rang the doorbell and Housebot answered it. I know I told it not to.

Did I say we don’t give Christmas presents now? Talk about famous last words. Housebot trundled back in here with a tree of all things balanced on its flat top. Impossible to tell what kind of tree, as it has no leaves, no label to say who sent it, nothing but a small wicker cage tied to a branch with a fairly large brown bird in it. The damn bird pecked me when I let it out. It was not happy. It has gone to earth under the small sofa and left droppings on the carpet as it ran.

I thought Christmas trees were supposed to be green. I made Housebot put the thing outside in the patio, beside the pool, where it sits looking bare. The bird is hungry. It has been trying to eat the carpet. I went on the net to see what kind of bird it is. After an hour of trying, I got a visual that suggests the creature is a partridge. A game bird apparently. Am I supposed to eat it? I know they used to eat birds at Christmas in the old days. Yuk. I got on the net again for partridge food. ‘Sorry, dear customer, but there will be no deliveries until the start of the Sales on December 27th, when our full range of luxury avian foods will again be available at bargain prices.’ Yes, but what do I do now?

Oh hooray. Housebot has solved the problem by producing a bowl of tinned sweetcorn. I shoved it under the sofa and the creature stopped its noise.

Do trees need feeding?

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EP426: Flash Fiction Special

Four Tickets, by Leslianne Wilder
Life Sentence, by Ben HalleRt
The Future Is Set, by C. L. Perria
read by Nathan Lee, Angela Lee & Norm Sherman

Links for this episode:

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EP425: The Boy in Zaquitos

by Bruce McAllister
read by John Chu

Links for this episode:

Author Bruce McAllister

About the Author…
His literary and genre fiction has appeared in national magazines, literary quarterlies, college textbooks and ‘year’s best’ anthologies. His second novel, Dream Baby, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship winner, was called a “stunning tour de force” by Publishers Weekly. His fiction has been translated widely and received national awards and notable mentions in the New York Times, other U.S. newspapers, U.S. and foreign magazines and journals, and reference works. His poetry and experimental work have appeared in literary quarterlies and anthologies; he has co-edited magazines and anthologies; and his articles on popular science, writing craft and sports have appeared in publications like Life, International Wildlife, The Writer and newspapers across the country. – See more at: http://www.mcallistercoaching.com/#sthash.iZUdcA2z.dpuf.

About the Narrator…

John designs microprocessors by day and writes fiction by night. His work has been published at Boston Review, Asimov’s and Tor.com. His website is http://johnchu.net

 

The Boy in Zaquitos
by Bruce McAllister

The Retired Operative Speaks to a Class

You do what you can for your country. I’m sixty-eight years old, and even in high school—it’s 2015 now, so that was fifty years ago—I wanted to be an intelligence analyst . . . an analyst for an intelligence agency, or if I couldn’t do that, at least be a writer for the United States Information Agency, writing books for people of limited English vocabularies so they’d know about us, our freedoms, the way we live. But what I wanted most was to be an analyst—not a covert-action operative, just an analyst. For the CIA or NSA, one of the big civilian agencies. That’s what I wanted to do for my country.
I knew they looked at your high school record, not just college—and not just grades, but also the clubs you were in and any sports. And your family background, that was important, too. My father was an Annapolis graduate, a Pearl Harbor survivor, and a gentle Cold War warrior who’d worked for NATO in northern Italy, when we’d lived there. I knew that would look good to the Agency, and I knew that my dad had friends who’d put in a good word for me, too, friends in the Office of Naval Intelligence.
But I also knew I had to do something for my high school record; and I wasn’t an athlete, so I joined the Anti-Communist Club. I thought it was going to be a group of kids who’d discuss Marxist economics and our free-market system, maybe the misconceptions Marx had about human nature, and maybe even mistakes we were making in developing countries, both propaganda-wise and in the kind of help we were giving them. I didn’t know it was just a front for Barry Goldwater and that all we were going to do was make election signs, but at least I had it on my record.
Because a lot of Agency recruiting happens at private colleges, I went to one in Southern California—not far from where my parents lived. My high school grades were good enough for a state scholarship, and my dad covered the rest. It was the ’60s, but the administration was conservative; and I was expecting the typical Cold War Agency recruitment to happen to me the way it had happened to people I’d heard about—the sons of some of my dad’s friends. But it didn’t. I went through five majors without doing well in any of them; and it wasn’t until my senior year, when I was taking an IR course with a popular prof named Booth—a guy who’d been a POW in WWII—that I mentioned what I wanted to do. He worked, everyone said, in germ warfare policy—classified stuff—at Stanford; and I figured that if I was about to graduate I’d better tell someone, anyone, what I really wanted to do in life: not sell insurance or be a middle manager or a government bureaucrat, but work for a civilian intelligence agency—get a graduate degree on their tab maybe—and be an analyst.