Category: 13 and Up

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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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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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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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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.

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EP422: Deshaun Stevens’ Ship Log

by Marie Vibbert
read by Alasdair Stuart

Links for this episode:

About the Author…

from the author’s livejournal…

I live with my husband Brian (married nine whole years and counting!), his brother John and two adorable cats, in a 1930s neo-colonial that we unworthy slobs do not keep up.

I’m currently employed as the webmaster for the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University.

My hobbies include writing, I’m a member of the Cajun Sushi Hamsters from Hell – a science fiction writer’s group. Officially ‘turned pro’ last year and got a Nebula provisional ballot nomination to boot!

I’m also an avid member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

I recently started playing football for the Cleveland Fusion, a women’s tackle football team.

 

Deshaun Stevens’ Ship Log
By Marie Vibbert

 

Personal Log — January 1

Crunches–one and a very near half.

Push-ups–none unless counting getting off floor

Calories–lost count, but all from alcohol, so okay

One year ago today I vowed I would not spend another year working on this stupid cruise ship.  One year ago my life was exactly as it is now, with exception of having a girlfriend.

Trying to have a good sulk about lack of gf, but general suckatude of life winning.  Have spent all adult years–five of them–treading the same tract of “unexplored” space with end trip to rings of Neptune tacked on by tourist company as apology for boringness of unexplored space.  Have also set lighting and sound cues for thousand ungrateful musicians with combined talent of medium-sized shrub.

(Is supposedly new tract of space each time, but how can anyone–especially easily-duped passengers who think cruise ship bands are good–tell the difference?)

Current misery doubled by working with now-ex gf.  Attempts to avoid said ex at New Year’s party largely consisted of going back to punch bowl repeatedly.  May have sung love ballad composed in throes of self-pity at end of night. Memory foggy.  Hope everyone else’s is, too.

Suspecting ship regulation against alcohol v. wise after all.  Hope they don’t read our logs.

Resolutions:

1. Get New Job

2. Avoid romantic complications with Lido Deck Staff, especially boss, xgf, and cocktail waitresses with unfairly attractive hair.

3. Somehow, bearing number 2 in mind, get a new gf.

4. Exercise and update personal log every day

****

January 15

Crunches–45

Push-ups–10

Humiliation of “Love Ballad” finally wearing down due to co-workers not having infinite time to devote to re-watching video clip recorded by jerk supervisor.  Wish someone else would hurry up and do something embarrassing to capture Lido Deck attention.

New band contains certified hottie named Cyndee R.  Has body like type usually molded in plastic. Is utterly unlikely to notice mildly fit, intellectual, sadly single lighting and sound engineer, but hope springs eternal.

Have decided to shave beard and do 400 crunches every day.

****

January 16

Fifty is an acceptable number of crunches to do in one day.  Anything higher uncivilized and leads to back injury which prevents both successful completion of job and ability to impress Cyndee.

*****

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EP417: Southpaw

by Bruce McAllister
read by bdoomed

Links for this episode:

Author Bruce McAllister

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.

Narrator and half-committed nudist, bdoomed

Narrator and half-committed nudist, bdoomed

About the Narrator…

Brian Lieberman is a Tralfamadorian disguised as a human, and other times disguised as one of the many horrors over at Pseudopod.  He lives in Florida with his girlfriend and gerbil.  One day he’ll be rich and take over the world … or donate a large sum of money to Escape Artists and other great projects, whichever is easier.

 

Southpaw
by Bruce McAllister

Eventually New York Giants’ scout Alex Pompez got the authorization from their front office to offer Castro a contact. After several days of deliberation with friends, family, and some of his professors, Castro turned down the offer. The Giants’ officials were stunned. “No one had ever turned us down from Latin America before,” recalled Pompez. “Castro said no, but in his very polite way. He was really a very nice kid. . . .”—J. David Truby, Sports History, November 1988

 

Fidel stands on the pitcher’s mound, dazed. For an instant he doesn’t know where he is. It is a pitcher’s mound. It is a baseball diamond, and there is a woman—the woman he loves—out there in the stands with her beautiful blonde hair and her very American name waving to him, because she loves him, too. It is July. He is sure of this. It is ’51 or ’52. He cannot remember which. But the crowd is as big as ever and he can smell the leather of his glove, and he knows he is playing baseball—the way, as a child in the sugarcane fields of Oriente Province, he always dreamed he might.

 

His fastball is a problem, but he throws one anyway, it breaks wide and the ump calls the ball. He throws a curve this time, a fine one, and it’s a strike—the third. He grins at Westrum, his catcher, his friend. The next batter’s up. Fidel feels an itching on his face and reaches up to scratch it. It feels like the beginning of a beard, but that can’t be. You keep a clean face in baseball. He tried to tell his father that, in Oriente, the last time he went home, but the old man, as always, had just argued.
He delivers another curve—with great control—and smiles when the ball drops off the table and Sterling swings like an idiot. He muscles up on the pitch, blows the batter down with a heater, but Williams gets a double off the next slider, Miller clears the bases with a triple, and they bring Wilhelm in to relieve him at last. The final score is 9 to 4, just like the oddsmakers predicted, and that great centerfielder Mays still won’t look at him in the lockers.

 

Nancy—her name is Nancy—is waiting for him at the back entrance when he’s in his street clothes again, the flowered shirt and the white ducks he likes best, and she looks wonderful. She’s chewing gum, which drives him crazy, but her skin is like a dream—like moonlight on the Mulano—and he kisses her hard, feeling her tongue between his lips. When they pull away she says: “I really like the way you walked that Negro in the fifth.”
He smiles at her. He loves her so much it hurts. She doesn’t know a damn thing about the game and nothing about Cuba, but she’s doing her best and she loves him, too. “I do it for you, chica,” he tells her. “I always do it for you.”
That night he dreams he’s in the mountains of the Sierra Maestra, at a place called La Playa. He has no idea why he’s here. He’s never dreamt this dream before. He’s lying on the ground with a rifle in his hand. He’s wearing the fatigues a soldier wears, and doesn’t understand why—who the two men lying beside him are, what it means. The clothes he’s wearing are rough. His face itches like hell.
When he wakes, she is beside him. The sheet has fallen away from her back, which is to him, and her ass—which is so beautiful, which any man would find beautiful—is there for him and him alone to see. How can anything be more real than this? How can I be dreaming of such things? He can hear a song fading but does not know it. There is a bay—a bay with Naval ships—and the song is fading away.
Guantanamera . . . the voice was singing.
Yo soy un hombre sincero, it sang.
I am a truthful man.
Why, Fidel wonders, was it singing this?

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EP416: On the Big Fisted Circuit

by Cat Rambo
read by Shaelyn Grey

Links for this episode:

Author Cat Rambo

Author Cat Rambo

About the Author…

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and Tor.com. Her short story, “Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain,” from her story collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction and information about her popular online writing classes, see http://www.kittywumpus.net.

Narrator Shaelyn Grey

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.  Shaelyn plays the part of Thais ven Derrivalle, a self centered member of the aristocracy who is more concerned about her tea than her city’s loss of power.  Aurelia can be viewed at http://www.theatrics.com/aurelia and Shaelyn can be reached through shaelyngreyvocals.com.

 

On the Big Fisted Circuit
by Cat Rambo
Jane counted them again to make sure: twelve.

Twelve signatures on the back panel, most jerky with haste, a couple deliberate and firm, one with a little flower above the i, for god’s sake. The pen in her hand ready to add the thirteenth.

How blatant were they going to be?

This was the biggest suit she’d ever crawled into. It meant money: money dripping through the wires around her, money in the gleaming metal struts, money being made by every step it took, money her family needed, every step a week’s rent and food if they were careful with it.

She’d never hit a thirteenth signature before. Most rigs, even the monster ones like this, got destroyed long before a thirteenth fight. It wasn’t just the bad luck, it was dealing with machinery that had been damaged and repaired, damaged and repaired, until you didn’t know what was original body and what was filler.

The sound of the crowd filtered into the suit. Most were screaming, “Coke! Coke! Coke!” as though they meant blood instead, shouts thrumming through the five railroad cars’ worth of metal surrounding her.

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EP415: The Nightmare Lights of Mars

by Brian Trent
read by Veronica Giguere

Links for this episode:

author Brian Trent

Brian Trent

About the Author…

Brian Trent is a 2013 winner in the L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Competition for his story “War Hero,” and has sold work to Apex, Daily Science Fiction, COSMOS, Galaxy’s Edge, Strange Horizons, and Clarkesworld. Trent resides in Connecticut where, in addition to writing science-fiction novels, he works in film. His website is briantrent.com.

narrator Veronica Giguere

Veronica Giguere

About the Narrator…

from her own website… Veronica is a voiceover artist whose foray into podcasting and audiobooks began with the heroic science fiction series, The Secret World Chronicle in mid-2006. While she continues to work with The Secret World Chronicle series, she is also the voice of Jill Woodbine for the new series from the Parsec-winning HG World,’The Diary of Jill Woodbine.’

 

The Nightmare Lights of Mars
by Brian Trent

Before discovering the moths, Clarissa Lang stumbled blind in the Martian sandstorm and admitted she was about to die because of a painting.

Granules of sand flew past her head at 90 kph and crunched between her teeth. The storm hissed around her ears, a terrible insistence that she hush forever. There was no excuse for this death, Clarissa thought. Weather advisories had been in place for an hour. Her death would become a digital footnote, filed under foolishness, for all time.

She staggered blind and tacked through the needle-spray. Red sand piled around her neck and shoulders, grew around her mouth like exaggerated lipstick.
“Overlay!” she shouted — tried to shout — but her mouth instantly filled with gritty particulate. She panicked then, the first moment of true mindless panic. But the Martian Positioning Satellite had heard her cry: Maureen’s property map sprang up in her left eye, drawn scarlet against each blink.

The house was thirty meters northwest. Upwind.

Clarissa tucked herself into a protective ball and scuttled sideways, like a crab. The sand struck her exposed hands and face in a shifting, relentless wave.

_I’ll never make it._

Clarissa could no longer breathe. A recent story from the Japanese colony in Cydonia leapt to her mind, in which a grandmother had been caught outside in a sandstorm, wandered around in circles for ten minutes in the hissing tempest, and finally suffocated _an arm’s length from her front door._ When they found her, her stomach, throat, and mouth were bulging with sand.

The toolshed! I can make the tool shed!

Clarissa turned away from her house and the full brunt of the sandstorm slammed into her back, tearing the jacket, spraying around her body in silhouette. For a fleeting instant, she was able to suck clean air into her lungs. Then the sand closed around her again.

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EP414: Knowing

by Matt Wallace
Read by Mat Weller

Links for this episode:

Matt Wallace

Author Matt Wallace

About the Author…

from Amazon.com… A screenwriter, novelist, and the award-winning author of over one hundred short stories, Matt spent a decade traveling the western hemisphere as a professional wrestler and combat instructor before retiring to write full-time. He now resides in Los Angeles and bleeds exclusively on the blank page.

He has no actual knowledge of the answer to life, the universe, and everything. But he makes sure to ask every demon he meets, just in case.

 

Knowing 
by Matt Wallace

A grey pallor hung heavy over the landscape. Heaven’s fire had long gone out, leaving the sky a cold hearth. The ashen soot that covered it might once have been the burning ember of eons, but now its livid color irradiated the early dawn. It soaked every molecule of air like a pale leaden necrosis, existing independently of the season, fostering neither cold nor heat.
A caravan of old cars rambled through the grey morning, balding tires rolling over the broken disrepair of State Highway 24. Chrysler Imperials and winged hatchback Newports, Chevy Chevelles and Novas and flatbed El Caminos, Dodge Darts and Coronets, Ford Fairlanes and Falcons, Lincoln Comets and Continentals, Olds Eighty-Eights and Cutlass Supremes; early 1960’s vintages, all. They traveled toward Oneonta, the Northern New York town whose name was taken from the Iroquois word for a place of meeting.
The Earth’s reclamation of its wilderness in post-nuclear North America continued. Lush foliage blurred as the cars headed deep into the rural upstate, creating rich green wraiths in their murky windows that danced and swooped and curved. The lead car, a Dodge Charger that outshined the rest by miles, would reach Gilboa around breakfast time.
There the wind blew warm through the world’s oldest forest. There they’d been called.
There they’d find the Answer.