Archive for 13 and Up

EP316: Site Fourteen


By Laura Anne Gilman
Read by Mat Weller
Discuss on our forums.
First appeared in ReVISIONS from Daw Boooks
All stories by Laura Anne Gilman
All stories read by Mat Weller

This one isn’t for the kids, because of language and heavy content.

Site Fourteen

“Nereus Shuttle Four to Gateway Station, you have control.”

Robinachec nodded confirmation as though the pilot could see him.  “Roger that.  Bringing you in.” Palming the flat-topped lever, I watched as he moved it gently back towards him, pulling the bullet-shaped transport into the shed, an external framework of metal beams just large enough to hold two minisubs, or one shuttle.

Robinechec has nightmares sometimes about something going wrong here.  Forget the fact that it’s the safest maneuver in the entire procedure; he still talks about waking up in a cold sweat because he screwed up.

You’d never know it to watch him.

When you’re six hundred feet down – well below the twilight zone, in the bathypelagic or ‘deep water’ zone– your perception shifts.  Nothing as arcane as the chemical balance in your brain changing, although there’s some of that, too.  No, it’s more the realization, slow sinking into your brain, that there’s not damn-all between you and dying but a duraplas shield and some canned oxy-blend.

You realize that, really process the concept, and you’re okay.  If you can’t, you get the screamin’ meemies and they cart you Topside where you spend the rest of your life on solid dirt, carefully looking anywhere but ocean-ward.

Not everyone’s cut out to be an aquanaut. No shame to it.  Even now, only about a third of the applicants make it into training, and more than half of them dry out before graduation.

EP311: The Faithful Soldier, Prompted


By Saladin Ahmed
Read by Rajan Khanna
Discuss on our forums.
First appeared in Apex Magazine
All stories by Saladin Ahmed
All stories read by Rajan Khanna

Special thanks to Hugo award winning Starship Sofa for allowing us to use Rajan Khanna’s narration that originally ran November 17, 2010.

Rated appropriate for 15 and older due to language.

The Faithful Soldier, Prompted
by Saladin Ahmed

If I die on this piece-of-shit road, Lubna’s chances die with me. Ali leveled his shotgun at the growling tiger. In the name of God, who needs no credit rating, let me live! Even when he’d been a soldier, Ali hadn’t been very religious. But facing death brought the old invocations to mind. The sway of culture, educated Lubna would have called it. If she were here. If she could speak.

The creature stood still on the split cement, watching Ali. Nanohanced tigers had been more or less wiped out in the great hunts before the Global Credit Crusade, or so Ali had heard. I guess this is the shit end of “more or less.” More proof, as if he needed it, that traveling the Old Cairo Road on foot was as good as asking to die.

He almost thought he could hear the creature’s targeting system whir, but of course he couldn’t any more than the tiger could read the vestigial OS prompt that flashed across Ali’s supposedly deactivated retscreens.

God willing, Faithful Soldier, you will report for uniform inspection at 0500 hours.

Ali ignored the out-of-date message, kept his gun trained on the creature.

The tiger crouched to spring.

Ali squeezed the trigger, shouted “God is greater than credit!”

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EP306: Radio Nowhere


By Douglas Smith
Read by Wilson Fowlie
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All stories by Douglas Smith
All stories read by Wilson Fowlie

Rated Inappropriate for the younger ones, due to words of a naughty nature.

Radio  Nowhere
by Douglas Smith

On the anniversary of the worst night of his life, Liam stood outside the darkened control room of the campus radio station. Over the speakers, the Tragically Hip’s “Boots and Hearts” was just winding down. Behind the glass in the studio, Ziggy’s small triangular face glowed like some night angel, lit from below by her laptop screen. She looked up, her eyes finding Liam’s in the darkness. Smiling, she wrinkled her nose at him. His own smile slid away, falling into the dark place inside him, the place that was always darker on this night.

Ziggy turned back to the mike as the song ended. “I’m closing with a request from an old friend, to an old friend. This one’s for Jackie, from Liam. A hurtin’ song, cuz he’s still hurtin’. Fifteen years ago tonight…” She looked at him through the glass.

Fifteen years. He closed his eyes. Fifteen years, and it still hurt this much.

EP301: Stone Wall Truth


By Caroline Yoachim
Read by: Heather Welliver
Originally appearing in Asimov’s
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All stories by Caroline Yoachim
All stories read by Heather Welliver
Nominated for the Hugo Nebula Award for Novelette, 2011

Rated appropriate for older teens and up for adult imagery.

Stone Wall Truth
by Caroline M. Yoachim

Njeri sewed the woman together with hairs from a zebra tail. Her deer-bone needle dipped under the woman’s skin and bobbed back out. The contrast of the white seams against her dark skin was striking.

“The center seam makes a straight line,” Njeri told her apprentice, “but the others flow with the natural curves of the body, just as the Enshai River follows the curve of the landscape.”

Odion leaned in to examine her work, his breath warm on the back of her neck. Foolish boy, wasting his attention on her. Njeri set her needle on the table and stood up to stretch. The job was nearly done — she’d repositioned the woman’s organs, reconstructed her muscles, sewn her body back together. Only the face was still open, facial muscles splayed out in all directions from the woman’s skull like an exotic flower in full bloom.

“Why sew them back together, after the wall?” Odion asked. “Why not let them die?”

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Escape Pod Special Episode- The Arthur C. Clarke Award Winner!


You heard it here first, folks, we have an exclusive interview and book excerpt from this year’s Arthur C. Clarke award winner, Lauren Beukes, author of Zoo City (Angry Robot Books)!

Zoo City explores a present day, but alternate, Johannesburg, and follows the story of Zinzi December, one of the animalled – people who are psychically bonded with animals due to crimes they have committed in the past. Zinzi has a talent for finding lost things, but when she is asked to take on a missing persons case, her life becomes increasingly more complicated and she discovers that beneath the seedy underbelly of Zoo City, things can – and do – get a lot worse.

Rated PG-13 for talk of sex workers and street violence.

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes

EP283: Grandfather Paradox


By Katherine Mankiller
Read by: Kim Gianopoulos
Originally published in Electric Velocipede
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Katherine Mankiller
All stories read by Kim Gianopoulos
Rated PG-13: This story contains violence.

I am doing the drawing for the A&E Prize pack at the end of today! There is still a couple of hours to get your email with “CONTEST” to feedback at Escapepod.org and you can win Blu Ray copies of Space 1999 and The Prisoner!

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 275
  • Next week… How far can you see on a clear day?

Grandfather Paradox
by Katherine Mankiller

JUNE 23, 1994

Ann stuffed her blood-spattered clothes into the next door apartment complex’s dumpster. He wasn’t dead, but it was harder to get a knife through someone’s chest than she’d expected. Maybe he’d bleed to death before someone found him. She didn’t care either way. She was a juvenile, so it wasn’t like she was going to fry.

She walked. The YMCA was open. She locked herself in the men’s room, curled up on the floor, and fell asleep.

The next morning, she stopped at an IHOP and told a grey-haired waitress, “I don’t have any money, but can I have a cup of coffee?” The waitress must have felt sorry for her: she bought her breakfast. Afterwards, she went to Safeway and hid a steak and a bottle of beer under her coat and walked out. And kept walking. Someone had a barbecue grill in their back yard. She took it, and the charcoal, too.

What she could really go for now was some mushrooms. She should swipe some Kool-Aid and find a cow pasture. Or maybe she could rob a veterinary clinic. Anything to get the thought of him touching her out of her head, and that beer wasn’t going to cut it.

Steak and beer. Almost luxurious.

The sign read “Open House.” Yes, that sounded about perfect. She spent the night there, on the carpet smelling faintly of shampoo.

It had happened to him, too. What her father had done to her, his father had done to him. Which, in her opinion, just made it worse. He knew what it was like.

When the police arrived and told her she was under arrest for murder, she couldn’t stop laughing.

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EP282: You’re Almost Here


By Melinda Thielbar
Read by: Mur Lafferty
Originally published in Bull Spec Magazine
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Melinda Thielbar
All stories read by Mur Lafferty
Rated PG-13: This story contains one F-bomb.

A&E are offering us a prize pack for a random drawing! So US residents, please email feedback at escapepod.org and put CONTEST in the subject line. We’ll do a drawing next week!

You could win both of the following:

Space 1999: The Complete Season 1

In the year 1999, a spectacular explosion at a lunar nuclear waste dump sends the moon out of Earth’s orbit. In this seminal sci-fi series from producer Gerry Anderson, the men and women of Moonbase Alpha are suddenly propelled on a treacherous journey across the universe in search of extraordinary new worlds.

The Prisoner
Since its CBS debut in the summer of 1968, the masterful British TV series THE PRISONER has captivated American audiences. Now A&E presents a definitive aficionado’s edition of the cult classic which is considered one of the most innovative TV series ever filmed, for the first time in breathtaking Blu-Ray.

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 274
  • Next week… The grandfather paradox rears its violent head.

You’re Almost Here
by Melinda Thielbar

“Can I share your table?”

You look up to see your dream girl. Red hair, cream-colored skin, face just a little round, breasts just a little small. Not movie-star beautiful, not perfect just–nice. She smiles, and her cheeks dimple, and you’re in love. You gesture to the empty chair across from you with a grin of your own.

“Be my guest,” you say.

“Thanks.” She takes the chair and sets her coffee cup down. You close the notebook in front of you and open your mouth to say something—anything—to impress this girl.

Without looking at you, she turns in her chair, pulls a phone out of her pocket and bends over it. You watch her face in profile as she slips a pair of earbuds into her ears. Your mouth is still open, so you close it and look away. That’s when you see that every table is occupied. Men in suits, women in suits, a few people your age in khakis or jeans. They’re all looking down at their phones, laptops, or handheld game consoles. Sunlight streams in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, and you watch people passing by on the street for a minute. They’re all looking straight ahead, faces set the way they have to be in a city this size. When it’s this crowded, the only privacy you can give a stranger is not to notice them. That idea interests you, and so you open your notebook to jot it down at the bottom of the second-to-last page. As you’re writing, a chair scrapes behind you, and a guy in a navy three-piece moves past. He flips his phone open and then closed again, checking the time, and hurries out.

The girl across from you moves almost as fast as he does. “Thanks,” she says and flashes that amazing smile again before she grabs her drink and hops to the newly-open table. You write FUCK across the top of the second-to-last page of your notebook, tuck it into your pocket, and go get another coffee.

The barristomatic (you call it this; no one else does), takes your thumbprint and opens a menu with your recent drink selections. They’re supposed to be sorted so the one you drink most is at the top. For you, it might as well be random. You do something different every time. This one’s a half-pump vanilla, half-pump strawberry, soy milk latte with a lousy espresso bean that still costs more than all the other ingredients put together because it’s fair-trade and organic. You once enumerated every combination, ranked them from most to least expensive and calculated how long it would take to try all of them. Assuming they add nothing to the line-up (unlikely), you’ll have to live to be eighty (likely) and drink four cups a day (near-certain). The machine hisses out your espresso and steamed milk. The menu pops up a new screen “People who enjoyed this drink also liked…” You hit Done and taste your drink. It’s perfect and artless.

You turn around and see someone sitting in the chair you just vacated. It’s a guy in jeans, probably another unwilling table-sharer. He’s sitting inches away from the red-haired girl. They’re practically back-to-back, both bopping to whatever’s playing through their identical earbuds, and neither one’s aware of the other. The guy’s t-shirt reads: “Steal This Shirt”. You put a lid on your coffee and head out the door.

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EP280: Endosymbiont


By: Blake Charlton
Read by: Mur Lafferty
Originally published in Seeds of Change
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Blake Charlton
All stories read by Mur Lafferty
Rated PG-13: Swearing (one f-bomb) and disturbing hospital images

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 272
  • Next week… Horticulture, dermatology, and love

“Do you know what day it is? What year?”

“It’s like mid August, 2017?” her voice squeaked. Jesus, had she really lost her mind?

“That’s right.” She smiled. “Don’t be scared. I just wanted to be sure.”

“What do you mean don’t be scared?” she blurted. “Sure about what? Jesus! How long have I been here? How many times have you seen me before?”

Jani held up her hand. “Slow down; it’s okay…I’m not an oncologist, but I’m following your case. The cancer responded well to the treatment. And our research suggests that the side effects are temporary.”

Stephanie started to protest but then stopped. A terrifying memory flashed through her mind. “Mom said they might take me to a hospital for the dead.” She didn’t know what that meant but the memory was clear. “She said you’d keep me here to fool me into thinking I’m still alive.”

Jani was holding up both hands now. “Slow down. The survival rates are scary but they’re far better—”

“You’re not listening. She said they’d take me to a hospital for people who’ve _already_ died. I have to escape before—”

Stephanie started to stand but Jani put a heavy hand on her shoulder and said “Lullaby.”

The word opened a bloom of orange light across Stephanie’s vision. A static hiss exploded into her ears, and she felt herself falling. There was a firecracker yellow flash and then…nothing.

EP276: On a Blade of Grass


By: Tim Pratt
Read by: Mat Weller
Originally published in the Subterranean Press Newsletter, 2008
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Tim Pratt
All stories read by Mat Weller
Rated PG-13: For language, two F bombs, and some parasitic details…

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 268: Advection
  • Next week… Rejiggering stuff – really, this time.

On a Blade of Grass
By Tim Pratt

“Interstellar war is about as exciting as playing chess by mail.” The guy who said that had been leaning into the bar for so long I thought his chest might fuse with the wood. I drifted over, because he wasn’t a regular, and I was bored with all my regulars and their regular bullshit.

“Who plays chess by mail anymore?” I said. “With the ‘net and all.”

“Nobody. Guys in jail maybe, I don’t know. Because it’s boring. My point. Inefficient and slow. Just like this war.” He tapped his glass meaningfully. He was rumpled and sleep-creased and middle-aged and smelly, but a better class of smelly than my usual crowd — like working-all-night-sweaty smelly, not sitting-around-all-day smelly. Long enough tending bar and you can tell the difference.

I refilled his glass. He was a pretty good drinker, but the little guys often are. “They say by the time our warships get out there, to their homeworld, the Phages might even be extinct. Like, just from natural processes, long timescales, like that. Or they might’ve evolved into something new, something that doesn’t… you know…”

“Want to eat us?”

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EP265: We are Ted Tuscadero for President


By Chris Dahlen
Read by: Cheyenne Wright
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Chris Dahlen
All stories read by Cheyenne Wright
Rated PG-13: For sexual situations and adult language.

Show Notes:

  • Election day is always better with clones!
  • Mr. Dahlen is editorial director of Kill Screen, a new print quarterly magazine about videogames.
  • Feedback for Episode 257: Union Dues: The Sum of Its Parts.
  • Next week… We travel to Japan!

We Are Ted Tuscadero For President
By Chris Dahlen

My name is Ted Tuscadero. And I want to be your President.

I say that with a humble heart. I realize that even after eight stellar years in the Senate, some of you are still getting to know me. And I’ll admit, I am not perfect. The other day, when I told a VFW in Littleton I would blast Iran to glass, and at the same exact time I swore off the war at a town hall in Concord? My bad. Or the time that three of me showed up for the big debate in Manchester, and we got in a fistfight over who was going on the air? Yeah, the chattering classes had a few laughs over that one.

And that little incident before the holidays, when I crashed, as lit as a Christmas tree, into a pole and my car exploded, killing me instantly and taking a mailbox, a transformer and a barn cat with me? It looked bad, I know. But that proxy was on the fritz. That’s not me. That’s not who I am. And the more we talk, the better you get to know me, the more you’ll see what I mean.

Keep reading…
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