Archive for Uncategorized

EP209: On the Eyeball Floor

by Tina Connolly

read by Norm Sherman

Closing song by Andrew Richardson

We’ve got robotic arms to put the eyeballs in. Metal clamps to pulldown the eyelids. Tony, on Four, keeps the grease vats filled. Oil squirts nineteen times a minute to keep the eye sockets from squeaking. Tiny slick needles stitch on the lashes, while millions of different irises get stamped in magenta and yellow and cyan, so no two will ever be alike, just like us.

All that, and they can’t engineer anything—or anyone—to take over my job. People in Organs go home coated with grease and vinegar; people in Bones have lost fingers to the machines, and still nobody wants the job where a hundred half-live cyborgs line up in rows, twitching when your back is turned. Waiting for someone to talk to them, feel for them. Transcend them to life.

There are safety signs around the factory. “Scrub Up.” “Know Thyself.” “Don’t Blink.” That last is the best piece of advice, here on the eyeball floor.

Rated PG for for angry awakening sentience and some swearing.

EP208: An Almanac for the Alien Invaders

By Merrie Haskell

Read by Sarah Tolbert

Previously appeared in Asimov’s.

In January, there will be an annular solar eclipse, with the path of annularity moving through the Indian Ocean and into Sumatra and Borneo. Two days later, aliens will invade Earth.

No spaceships will loom large in blue skies, nor hover over our cities. At night, though, when we see blinking dots of light near the horizon, as small and pale as any star, we’ll think they’re planes or satellites of human origin. They won’t be. These are alien ships, come for conquest.

That is all we can see. What we hear is just as faint and difficult to resolve: we hear rumors. Or rather, one persistent rumor: “the aliens want volunteers.”

Naturally, I and my junior faculty friends need to drink quantities of beer to discuss this in detail. I expound that it’s a hoax.

Rated PG-13 for adult concepts and alien recruiters.

EP 205: Requiem in D-minor (for prions, whale and burning bush)

By Ian McHugh
Read by Frank Key of Hooting Yard

First appeared in Hub #24.

Kevin switched the audio over to the projector. The lecture hall was filled with outdoor noises. Wind hummed softly over the microphone, cattle lowed nearby, a truck accelerated in the distance.

A roan steer staggered around a concreted yard, its mute distress accompanied by clattering hooves and the fleshy slap of its thigh striking the ground when it fell. A new sound was introduced – incongruous, but familiar to Kevin’s audience.

Whale song.

Gradually, the cow’s shaking stilled, until it could stand securely. Its muscles continued to tremble, but not enough to upset its equilibrium while it listened.

Rated PG-13 for violence and mad cow disease.

EP 204: The Fifth Zhi

By Mercurio D. Rivera
Read by Steve Eley

First appeared in Interzone

Zhi 4’s scream pierces the Siberian night.

My spiked metal boots crunch through the snow as I race towards him, with Zhi 6 running at my side. The nanochip in my brainstem clicks on, and I reach out with my mind, but I can’t sense even a trace of Zhi 4. A few seconds earlier his form had been outlined by the dark turquoise glow of the force field.

We stop twenty feet short of the field’s perimeter. Beyond it, the hazy silhouette of the colossal Stalk looms, its millions of cilia undulating.

My bodysuit hums as it transmits data back to Xiang Xu Base, situated behind the Rusanov ice cap half a mile away.

My pulse flutters in anticipation and I take a deep breath to try to rein in my excitement. I — like all Zhis — have been designed with an insatiable curiosity about the Stalk’s origins and vulnerabilities. Knowing I’ve been bred to feel this way doesn’t make me feel it any less. Where did the Stalk come from? Why is it here? How can it thrive in these temperatures? I see the same questions reflected in Zhi 6’s expression.

Rated PG-13 for cloning and some adult themes.

EP 203: The Legend of St. Ignatz

By Samantha Henderson
Read by Ray Sizemore (of X-Ray Visions).
Intro by Norm Sherman of Drabblecast.
Closing song, Jesus Clones

First appeared in Ideomancer

“You’re a disgrace to your calling and your species.” The Cardinal’s words were at odds with the verging-on-seductive voice of the translator embedded in the Anturean’s Chlor-tank. From beneath lowered lashes Ignatz O’Reilly, D.D. Inter-Species, watched his superior’s mouth-tendrils vibrate, a gesture he knew denoted extreme lust or mounting rage.

Lust was out of the question, he supposed.

“Falling-down drunk at Mass. Passing out in Confession. And don’t think your little black-market dealings go unnoticed.” The Cardinal’s posterior spines flushed blue. Ignatz averted his eyes even further, studying the faint brown lines crisscrossing each other on a slate floor the color of dried blood. The mutant squid bastard really was mad this time.

“If I might be permitted to explain, Your Eminence…” Ignatz’s tongue tasted like last night’s liquor. “I indulge for purely medicinal reasons…a slight asthmatic condition…any allegations that I would engage in illegal…”

Rated R for religious themes, carousing, and transubstantiaton of a different sort.

Episode 202: Will You Be an Astronaut?

By Greg van Eekhout
Read by Christiana Ellis

First appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

Astronauts are people who ride rockets into space.  They must train for a very long time before they go.  Astronauts must be brave and smart.

Will you be an astronaut?

* * *

The biggest rocket ever was the Saturn V.  On the launch pad it was taller than a 30-story building.  Today’s rockets are smaller and lighter.  Today’s rockets can be launched more than once.  They have wings and can come back to earth and land like airplanes.

When a rocket launches, it’s like an earthquake. The ground is shaking! There is flame and smoke. It’s like an explosion!

Antonio is strapped into his seat.  He is about to ride to a space station.  Because there is no air in space, Antonio must wear a space suit.  In the suit, Antonio can breathe and talk over radio.  He wears a helmet with a special faceplate that protects him from the sun.  The fingers of his gloves have tiny claws that help him work with small objects.

What’s all that noise? It must be a rocket! Astronauts are traveling to space!

5-4-3-2-1!  Lift off!

Rated PG-13. Deceptively G…

Episode 201: Harry The Crow

Editors Note: As you may have noticed, episode 201 is appearing before Episode 200.  We’re still working out the kinks of an agreement with the mysterious agent forces mentioned in an earlier update, but we should have that episode for you soon, and we think it’ll be worth the wait.  Rather than keep you waiting any longer, we’re bringing you 201 out of sequence.

By John Kratman

Read by Norm Sherman

First appeared in Aeon Speculative Fiction.

“A construct is no Crow!” Tommy shouted, the ridiculous war bonnet he’d worn to my father’s funeral slipping off his head. He pushed it back with an angry swipe of his hand, glaring at the gathered members of the tribe, daring them to laugh.

“Harry can do everything a man can do,” I said. There were many people in the lodge that I recognized, but there were many more, ghosts of my past, who should have been there and were not. “He can hunt, write poetry, sing a song. He can think and he can feel. I taught him how to shoot and how to track, how to read and how to write. No matter that he sprang from my brain instead of my manhood. He is my son, the only one this old man will ever have. He is a Crow.”

“What can a machine know of tradition and honor?” Tommy asked, his lined face veiled in the shadows cast by the fire. He drew a pipe from his pocket and packed it with angry jabs of his age-spotted hand.

Rated R: contains violence, strong language, and counting coup.

Episode 198: N-words

By Ted Kosmatka
Read by Kim The Comic Book Goddess

First appeared in Seeds of Change, 2008.

They came from test tubes. They came pale as ghosts with eyes as blue-white as glacier ice. They came first out of Korea.

I try to picture David’s face in my head, but I can’t. They’ve told me this is temporary—a kind of shock that happens sometimes when you’ve seen a person die that way. Although I try to picture David’s face, it’s only his pale eyes I can see.

My sister squeezes my hand in the back of the limo. “It’s almost over,” she says. Up the road, against the long, wrought iron railing, the protestors grow excited as our procession approaches. They’re standing in the snow on both sides of the cemetery gates, men and women wearing hats and gloves and looks of righteous indignation, carrying signs I refuse to read.

Rated PG-13. Contains racism and genetic engineering.

Escape Pod Flash: Chump Change

By Pete Butler Read by Jake Squid

It’s going to be the Three of Clubs.

I know this, as certainly as I know my own name. I’m less sure about some things than my fans would think. But sometimes, the swirling laws governing what _may_ happen coalesce into what _will_ happen with astonishing clarity. The sun will rise tomorrow, the Pirates will beat the Mets tonight, and as soon as I announce my “guess,” the Three of Clubs will appear on the monitor in front of me.

“Jack of Spades,” I proclaim, full of conviction.

The monitor flickers, and is suddenly filled by a pixilated version of the Three of Clubs.

Rated PG for…welll, you already know why, don’t you?

Escape Pod Flash: It Was Death By a Bullet, But I Was Killed By a Woman

By Michael Bekemeyer
Read by Alasdair Stuart (of Pseudopod)

I have a special skill. I am a part of a small group of people on this planet that can do special things with their minds. You have your mind readers, your empaths — and you have people like me who can control things through telekinesis. I have always been able to move things, just by thinking about it. It always came in helpful when playing golf.

Rated R. Contains sex and violence.