Tag: "aliens"

EP572: Nothing to See Here

AUTHOR: Arthur Doweyko

NARRATOR: Patrick Bazile

HOST: Alasdair Stuart

about the author…Picture

As a scientist, Arthur has authored over 100 publications, invented novel 3D drug design software, and shares the 2008 Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award for the discovery of Sprycel, a new anti-cancer drug. He writes hard science fiction, fantasy and horror. His debut novel, Algorithm, is a story about DNA and the purpose of humanity. It garnered a 2010 Royal Palm Literary Award (RPLA) and was published by E-Lit Books in 2014. Angela’s Apple won 1st place as best pre-published science fiction novel of 2014 (RPLA) and will be published by Red Adept Publications (July 19, 2016) as As Wings Unfurl. His short stories, P’sall Senji, The Last, and Nothing to See Here garnered Honorable Mentions in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. He lives in Florida with his wife Lidia, teaches college chemistry and happily wanders the beaches when not jousting with aliens.

about the narrator…

Patrick is an American Actor/Voice Over Talent born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. Patrick has voiced everything from PSAs to major product brands, with a deep, commanding voice often referred to as “The Voice of God.”

Nothing to See Here

By Arthur Doweyko

There is a comfort in the strength of love;
‘Twill make a thing endurable, which else
Would overset the brain, or break the heart.

William Wordsworth

I heard a squawk—kind of like the goose call that comes out of a police cruiser. Blinking red and blue lights danced on the window shade, so I figured they must have nabbed somebody. The trouble was, they were behind my house, in my cornfield.

I peeled back the shade, and what did I see but a crap-load of state police parked sort of in a big circle. The ground mist was so thick, I barely made out the cut corn stalks. The rows led to the police who looked like scarecrows poking up out of the fog—all facing in, staring at the same something. Whoever they got cornered was out-of-luck, that’s for sure.

Funny thing though—nobody was moving. They just stood at their cruisers. My eye drifted back over the rows. Something itched up the back of my mind, and then the sun peeped up over the tree line on the far side.

I threw on a pair of overalls and a flannel shirt, and jogged out to the back porch. “Hey, y’all. What’s going on?” They might’ve been about fifty yards off, but it seemed I wasn’t yelling loud enough for them to hear me. “I said, hey.”

Nothing.

My lungs weren’t all that strong and screaming was going to set me to coughing, so I stepped off the porch, and right away this trooper breaks through the fog, showing up like out of nowhere.

“Sorry, Sir. Please return to your dwelling.”

Dwelling? “What are you talking about? You know you’re on my land? What’s going on out here, anyways?”

The guy was wearing one of them black outfits, helmet to boots. When he spoke, all I could see was his chin wagging. He raised a hand and pointed back to my house. “Sir, please move back. There’s nothing to see here.”

I was close enough now to see a little better. A motorcycle lay in the field. And that’s when I saw the top of a silvery ball sticking up through the soup. It was twirling around. Reminded me of one of them mirror balls they use at dances. It dawned on me what might be going on. “Is that one of them UFOs?”

A second officer came up to me, same outfit as the first, except he was carrying what looked like a shotgun. He waved it at me. “You’re Grady Pearson, is that right?”

Damn. “How d’you know my name?”

All I got was a blank stare.

“You must return to your dwelling.” He pointed his weapon away from my face and at my house. “It’s for your own safety, Mr. Pearson.”

That was serious talk. I pretty much figured there was no way I was going to win an argument. “What the hell is that thing?”

The first one took a step closer. “There is nothing to see here.”

Like a broken record. I shrugged, threw them both my best scowl, and made a show of taking my sweet time shuffling over to the back porch. When I sat in my rocker, the two turned away and joined the others. They got right back to staring at that ball.

I sat and I watched. The sun rose over the tree tops on the far side of the field, and it wouldn’t be long before the fog lifted. Damn, they couldn’t rightly tell me to go inside my dwelling, least ways I didn’t think so. I’d just wait and see what the fuss was all about. After all, they weren’t going to stay out there all day, were they?

* * *

“Grady Pearson, you gonna sit out here all morning?”

The squeal of the screen door and Edna’s sing-song voice worked together to get my attention. I must’ve dozed off, since the sun was way clear of the trees. She was holding the door open, and my stomach flipped at the smells of bacon and freshly brewed coffee.

“Damn, woman. Can’t you see I’m busy?”

Ten years married, we knew each other real well. I admit that I was pretty much the grump and Edna, well she was an angel. She had to be.

“Sittin’ on your behind is what I see. You gonna come in for breakfast, or does your highness figure on being served out here?”

“Don’t you see what’s going on?” I pointed. The fog was gone, and that silver ball thing, some twenty foot wide I’d guess, kind of floated over the tops of the corn. It was hovering just like a UFO might. I was sure some little green folks would be climbing down out of it any second.

“That’s none of our business. Right now, your breakfast’s getting’ cold. ‘Sides, you can keep busy watchin’ the doings through the kitchen window.”

That woman was always right. ‘The morning chill was into my bones and I had to keep my mouth shut for fear of letting my teeth chatter. I followed her in.

“Pa, what’s all them police doin’ on our farm?”

Jenny’s missing front tooth always got me to smile. She was big for six and proud of the new one coming in. She told me that was part of turning into a grownup. She was a charmer. I loved that child and took in her face like I hadn’t seen it in years. It was like looking at a faded photo come alive.

“Don’t really know—some kind of police business.”

Edna slid a pair of fried eggs onto my plate and the toaster popped.

“Woman, how do you do it? It’s like you’re a kitchen magician.”

Jenny laughed and spilled some milk out of her glass. Just then I felt a tickle in the corner of my eye. I ran my finger up and came away with a tear drop.

“What’s the matter, Grady? Your eye givin’ you some problems?” Edna’s face had a shine on it, like it was glowing. Her dimpled cheeks got wider and she tilted her head, waiting on me to answer.

“Must be the grease smoke.”

She shook her head. “Ain’t no grease in my cookin’ mister. Maybe you caught yourself a cold sittin’ out there all morning long, that’s what.”

I reached out with a paper napkin and brushed off Jenny’s white moustache. “Maybe you’re right. Must be a chill.”

When Edna got to wiping down the counter, I turned away for a second and used the napkin to blow my nose. She was right. There wasn’t any smoke in the kitchen. I hadn’t felt this good in years. I was feeling damn happy and I didn’t know why.

While we ate, I kept taking peeks through the window. I figured that maybe the army might show, or maybe one of them black heliocopters’d be landing any minute now just like on TV.

* * *

“You savin’ that toast for the birds?”

Jenny was gone—probably off to her room and her dolls. The table was cleared up, and Edna had the dishes put away. I shoved the cold bread into my mouth and drowned it with the last of the coffee, the ice-cold coffee.

“Sorry. Must’ve been daydreaming.”

“You’ve been glued to the window, that’s what. Here.”

I don’t know how she did it, but she had my long coat in her hand. She helped me get it on, then handed me a fresh cup of coffee.

“You’re amazing, honey.”

“Don’t you go amazin’ honey me. You got chores, so don’t be sittin’ on your butt all day.”

I gave her a peck on the cheek, shuffled back out, and plopped down in my rocker. Even with the coat on, that chill found a way inside, down my back. It was a bit breezy. That’s probably what it was.

* * *

The door behind me squealed. “Daddy, daddy, you’re it.”

I felt my leg get poked, and when I looked down, all I saw was a streak of blonde hair running down the steps and out into the field. Edna’s voice reached me through the screen. “Grady, she’s all yours. Now don’t go gettin’ into dirt out there.”

My mouth fell open. “Hey, Jenny …”

She ran toward the corn. I felt my face get hot and my stomach turned over a few times. I got worried pretty easy. I set my cup on the railing and skipped down the steps. That 9-year old moved like a rabbit, and skittered into the stalks. Seeing the tall corn got me nervous. Something about them stalks.

A minute later I was out of breath and baby-stepping along a row, brushing back the sharp-edged leaves. Every now and then, I heard her giggle, loud and on purpose. Tag was Jenny’s favorite game, especially when I was it. That sweet little girl was a bundle.

And I really missed her.

I almost forgot about the police and that UFO thing. Fact is, I wasn’t even sure they were still out here.

I came on a patch of grass surrounded by corn as high as trees. Jenny sat in one of two chairs set up around a small table. She waved to me, holding up a tea pot and pointed to the empty chair. “Your tea is ready, daddy. Please sit here.” She still enjoyed pretend. I scooted over and sat down. She poured and nodded at an empty plate. “Would you like some? I made them fresh this morning.”

I nodded. Cranberry-orange scones were my favorite. We drank tea and ate, laughed and carried on like a couple of spoiled aristocrats. She was growing up fast.

* * *

There was a moment when we just stared at each other. Neither one of us even blinked. A funny kind of shadow passed over us. Everything got speckled, like one of them impression paintings I seen in the city. I looked up in time to catch a raindrop in the face. “Jenny, I think we’ve gotta get going.”

By the time I looked back down, she was gone. I heard the slap of corn leaves behind me, leading back to the house, so I jumped and went after her. The rain got a bit more heavy. The drumming on the corn got louder, and the wet cold stung my back. When I got to the porch, the screen door swung wide and Edna stuck her head out. “‘Bout time you got back.”

“Is Jenny here? She was ahead of me. Damn rainstorm came up all sudden like.”

“She made it fine. You’re the one that’s soaked, and you ain’t comin’ in here with them clothes.”

She handed me a bath robe. How she knew I needed it was one of them mysteries of life. I left my wet stuff on the rocker. Damn, the heat from the stove felt real good.

* * *

“Is that you, dad?”

It was Jenny’s voice coming from the living room. I poked my head through the doorway. “Be right there, Jenny.” Her long hair fell away from her face as she looked up from my favorite leather recliner.

She had a book on each knee. “I’m stuck.”

Math was as tough on me as it was on her, but I figured two heads is better than none. Besides, I enjoyed the time we had together—time that got more precious with each passing year. She was already talking about graduate school, and that meant going away. I didn’t even want to think about her boy friend.

Before I could sidle over to see what senior college math looked like, Edna announced lunch was ready. Jenny snapped her books closed and beat me into the kitchen. I was a might slower with the rheumatism.

I sat next to her and chanced a look out the kitchen window. A few flakes of snow ran along the glass. The fallow field caught my attention for a moment longer. It was like I might have forgot something out there, maybe something real important.

* * *

Edna joined me outside after lunch. The late summer afternoon was perfect for a sit down. We had matching rockers, and I tried to keep up with her. What a gas. After a minute I gave up, and she slowed the pace. For a while, we held hands and listened to the larks gliding across the meadow. A draft of warm air carried with it sweet grass and plowed earth. It reminded me of the corn we used to grow in that field.

Edna sighed and said, “I could sit out here for the rest of my life.”

That’s how I felt. Life was good. With Jenny married, having two kids of her own, she and her hubby had little time for a visit anymore. It was just us now.

I looked at Edna and I saw the girl I married—scrawny and strong, pigtails and a summer dress, and a smile that melted my heart. We sat there for what seemed like hours.

* * *

I got up and turned the porch light on. One of the grandkids was at the door. Even at twelve, Josh was still bashful.

“What’s up, pardner?”

He smiled and whispered, “Gramps, I really like it here. Can I stay?”

“I wouldn’t mind, but your mom and dad might have somethin’ to say about that.”

The door sprung open and a blur came rushing out. His sister Julie was a tornado. She reminded me of Jenny when she was a kid. Two grandkids were sure more than I could handle.

“It’s gettin’ dark, Julie. Don’t go gettin’ lost and stay close to the house!”

I don’t think she heard me. The corn was high this season, and of course that’s where she went. She loved to run in the rows.

“I’ll go find her, Gramps.”

Josh walked off into the field, and that’s when I saw it—a damn silver ball, hanging out over the highest stalks. Before I knew it, my eyes blurred. I slumped back into the rocker and cried like a little girl.

* * *

The sun rose over the tree tops on the far side of the field and it wouldn’t be long before the fog lifted. I looked to the screen door, but I knew full well there’d be nobody there. I knew there’d be no breakfast and nobody calling at me in that sing-song voice, and no sweet little child waiting for me with a toothless grin. I felt tired and a peculiar heat inside.

A sparkle caught my eye and I turned back to see the ball rising over the police. It glittered and headed straight up without even a whisper. I could see the officers follow it up, moving their heads same as me. After a while it got lost in the blue.

I climbed down the porch and walked over. Some of them troopers were moving now, moving funny, kind of staggering back to their cruisers. One of them came to me—looked like the one with the black helmet from before.

“So?” I asked.

We stood staring at each other alongside a row of corn stumps. His helmet was in his hand and it fell to his side like it was hung on a rope. He was a young man, maybe twenty, with a wide smile and wet, blood-shot eyes. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out. I was thinking about what to say, but when I locked in on his eyes, I realized he was just as put off as me. I wiped my cheeks with my arm and asked, “What just happened?”

He shook his head and turned back to his bike without saying a word.

* * *

A few minutes later all that was left were tire ruts crisscrossing the rows. A crow glided by like it was inspecting the damage and threw me a shout. I wandered over to a patch of grass near the tree line, all the while peeking over my shoulder, half-expecting someone on the porch.

The sun was just high enough to touch the top of the stone marker.

“Well, that was something weren’t it, Edna?”

I squatted and brushed away a twig and some leaves. Edna was always particular, fussy about everything being in its place. Little baby Jenny lay alongside her mom. I hated coming to see them. Gone twenty years now—it was like yesterday for me. But right this minute, something was different.

“Edna, I miss you honey, and Jenny, you sure grew up into a fine lady. Your mom and I would’ve been proud.” I caressed the stone. “Fact is, we are proud.” I stood and let go a heavy sigh. “Beautiful grandkids too.”

Somewhere, somehow, I knew we had a good life together. Maybe not here right now, but it just had to be true. I saw it myself.

When I got to the house, the newspaper boy pulled up on his bike along the driveway. He got off and looked up and down at all the tire marks. “Mornin’ Mr. Pearson. I heard there was a flying saucer here. Did you see it?”

I looked back at the field and across the tree tops. I thought maybe I should tell him about the big silver dance ball, about them troopers just standing out there, about Edna and Jenny and her kids—the amazing life that we had together. I felt my mouth turning up in a stupid smile. “Sorry, son. Nothing to see here.” My little joke.

The kid stared out past me. After a beat, he shrugged and pedaled off.

I stepped through the porch into the kitchen. Sitting on the table was a freshly brewed cup of coffee. I swore it was still steaming. I’m pretty sure I made that cup myself. Pretty sure.

End

EP564: Trusted Messenger

AUTHOR: Kevin Wabaunsee

NARRATOR: Phillip Lanos

HOST: Norm Sherman

about the author…

Kevin Wabaunsee is a speculative fiction writer living in Chicago. A former newspaper reporter on the health and medical beat, he is currently an editor and communications director for a large medical school. He is a Prairie Band Potawatomi.

 

 

 

 

about the narrator…Displaying Profile-Pic.png

Phillip Lanos is Los Angeles born, hyper-active and yet pensive. An Actor, Singer-Songwriter and currently the host and editor of the Ajax Union Digital Marketing Podcast. Television appearances include MTV’s “Copycat” & “Parental Control” and Telemundo’s “Yo Soy El Artista.
Trusted Messenger

By Kevin Wabaunsee

Dr. Thaddeus Begay had been expecting a dying child in the exam room, but no one had said anything about a woman half-dead from starvation. He stepped inside and muscled the door shut – like the rest of the clinic, it was made from metal reclaimed from the original dropship, and like everything else in the colony, it didn’t quite fit right.

“Good morning,” Thad said.

“Hello there,” the woman said. Her tone was probably meant to be cheerful, but to Thad, it sounded like it took significant effort.

Thad frowned. His nurse must have made a mistake. A woman had burst into the clinic without an appointment, the nurse had said, demanding help for her sick child.

But the woman sitting on the examination table with her child was thin to the point of starvation. Cheeks deeply sunken; the outline of her ribs and collarbone sharp through her tank top. Her hair, like her shirt, was thin and plastered against her flesh with sweat. On her lap sat a little boy of about a year and a half, had jet-black hair and deep brown eyes, and cheeks that were flushed with a painful crimson rash. Still, he looked healthier than his mother.

Thad dragged a stool over to her. It squealed across the faint outlines of the struts and tie-downs and internal dividing walls that had once honeycombed the massive storage container that now served as the colony’s clinic.

He glanced back at the chart – her name was Suzanne Buenaventura. He glanced at her vitals, and nearly gagged when he saw her records from the colony ship. She’d been more than 215 pounds when the dropships had landed. Sitting on the exam table, she didn’t look like she’d top 110. “And what seems to be the problem this morning, Mrs. Buenaventura?”

EP555: Monstrance of Sky

AUTHOR: Christopher Mark Rose

NARRATOR: Alethea Kontis

HOST: Norm Sherman

about the author…

Christopher Mark Rose is a fledgling writer of speculative fiction. His story “A Thousand Solomons” won first place in the 2015 BSFS Amateur Writing Contest. He participates in the Baltimore Science Fiction Society Critique Circle, and has finished a first draft of a novel. He hopes to write stories that are affecting, humane, and concerned with big questions. His day job is in the JHU Applied Physics Laboratory, where he designs flight firmware for NASA missions. His work is flying now in NASA’s Van Allen Probes, and will be in the soon-to-be-launched Solar Probe Plus spacecraft.

about the narrator…dcon-parade-2014

Alethea Kontis is a princess, author, fairy godmother, and geek. Author of over fifteen books and contributor to over twenty-five more, her award-winning writing has been published for multiple age groups, across all genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, humor, contemporary romance, poetry, graphic novels, Twitter serials, non-fiction…the works.

A former child actress, Alethea hosted over 55 episodes of “Princess Alethea’s Fairy Tale Rants” on YouTube, and continues to host Princess Alethea’s Traveling Sideshow every year at Dragon Con. She enjoys audiobook and podcast narration, speaking at middle schools across the country (in costume, of course), and one day hopes to make a few more movies with her friends. Alethea currently resides on the Space Coast of Florida with her teddy bear, Charlie.

 

Monstrance of Sky

By Christopher Mark Rose

Aerbello — the shape one sees in the movement of wheat, blown by wind. The shape of wind, written in sheaves.

 

I left me, without really leaving. Well, not I myself, but Eva. She told me she was leaving me, as we made love in our bedroom. It was clear she didn’t mean immediately.

 

Cova — any place a crow could be. A crow-sized void, unoccupied by an actual crow.

 

She said we weren’t good for each other, we weren’t helping each other to grow. She said my God obsession had gotten to be too much. She said her presence in my life was redundant.

 

“Please don’t go,” I said. “If you go, my heart will be a cova.”  I couldn’t understand, and it hurt me. It felt as though I had swallowed a razor blade, without realizing.

 

Monstrance — a vessel, in Catholic tradition, in which the consecrated Host is placed, to be exposed for the adoration of the faithful.

 

Without knowing why, I had started making a list of words that meant God, or related to worship, or words I thought could describe God. I found I was transcribing large portions of dictionaries, encyclopedias. I couldn’t explain it, I just felt compelled. I was probably obsessed. I wasn’t a believer but neither an unbeliever then.

EP554: Captain Drake Learns His Lines

AUTHORS: Amy Sisson & Kate Suratt

NARRATOR: Christopher Cornell

HOST: Alasdair Stuart

  • Captain Drake Learns His Lines is an Escape Pod original. It is the first story in the short story series The Misadventures of Captain Drake.
  • Discuss on our forums. 
  • For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia
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about the authors…Author photo. Copyright 2004 by Wendy Sisson

Amy is a writer, reviewer, librarian, and crazy cat lady. Her work – including the “Mr. Featherbottom” series – has appeared in numerous anthologies and publications, including Abyss & Apex, Daily Science Fiction, Toasted Cake, and Podcastle.

Kate Suratt

Kate Suratt is a flash fiction author, novelist, and NASA program analyst. Her short fiction has appeared in Splickety Prime magazine.

about the narrator…_sdc_hs

Christopher Cornell is a writer, musician (no, not that one) and software developer in Northern California. He is also the producer and co-host of the Unreliable Narrators podcast and creator of the upcoming audio drama series, E’ville. Also a film buff, foxhound wrangler and occasional editor. Skeptical of real estate shysters.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain Drake Learns His Lines

By Amy Sisson and Kate Suratt

So I was sitting there minding my own business and trying to choke down the rotgut Rick passes off as whiskey, when who should come sailing through the door but Jeanne Bixby –- yes, the Jeanne Bixby, the biggest telewave starlet this side of the galaxy. She’d covered that famous red-gold hair with a gauzy green scarf and wore sunglasses, but she had to take them off because the bar was so dim she nearly tripped over the Candalubian dozing on the floor just inside the doorway.

Candalubians can sleep anywhere.

Anyway, I knew it was her the minute she took the glasses off, but I couldn’t figure out what the hell she was doing in Rick’s Bar. She didn’t even have her contingent of red-carpet bodyguards with her, just a single H’Rak’tin wearing brass knuckles on all four hands.

On second thought, maybe that was enough. H’Raks are famous for what they can do with brass knuckles.

EP540: The Right Answer

AUTHOR: James Miller
NARRATOR: Adam Pracht
HOST: Alasdair Stuart

about the author…

During the day, James A. Miller works on Milking Robots in the Madison Wisconsin area. At night, he spends time with his family and does his best to come up with fun and creative fiction. He is a first reader for Allegory e-zine and member of the Codex writer’s group. He has two cats but will resist the urge to say anything cute about them here.

narrator Adam Pracht

narrator Adam Pracht

about the narrator…

Adam Pracht lives in Kansas, but asks that you not hold that against him. He works full-time as the public relations coordinator at McPherson College, where he also received his master’s in higher education administration in spring 2016. He’s excited to get his life back. He was the 2002 college recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy award for writing about the disadvantaged and has published a disappointingly slim volume of short stories called “Frame Story: Seven Stories of Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Horror & Humor” which is available from Amazon as an e-Book or in paperback. He’s been working on his second volume – “Schrödinger’s Zombie: Seven Weird and Wonderful Tales of the Undead” – since 2012 and successfully finished the first story. He hopes to complete it before he’s cremated and takes up permanent residence in an urn.

The Right Answer
by James Miller

While I certainly didn’t plan on an alien encounter, my life had been in such a downward spiral that I had gotten used to expecting the unexpected.

Cheryl, my wife, and Ryan, my friend and boss, had been spending some extra time together without me – nights mostly. I handled this by 1) punching Ryan in the mouth, twice, then 2) spending the rest of the day drinking lunch, and 3) picking up dinner at the liquor store. On the way home, my car expired on the freeway, by spewing steam and smoke then finally bursting into flames. I did, however, manage to rescue my bottle of dinner vodka before its fiery demise, but somehow forgot my personal laptop was in the back seat. I eventually reached home only to find Cheryl had gone. Judging by the amount of stuff she had taken with her, it was for good.

I surveyed what little remained in the house. In the living room there was carpeting with clean spots where the furniture had been, and a TV stand with no TV. In the kitchen I was left with one red plastic cup, an unopened box of flexible drinking straws, and a bag of pretzels. In the bedroom I saw a bed frame with no mattress or sheets, wire hangers, and a torn Sports Illustrated. I grabbed the pretzels from the kitchen and made my way out onto the patio to get away from the heavy absence of my material items. I was considering which lawn chair I might sleep in, when I noticed a little green creature standing in my back yard. It took a while for my senses to come into agreement; I was looking at Fonzie. Yes, Fonzie, the character played by Henry Winkler on Happy Days.

He didn’t look at all like Fonzie in the face, or even his body type. In that regard he was as stereotypically expected: green, about four feet tall, three long fingers on each hand, comically big eyes, with no nose to speak of, and a very tiny mouth. It was the leather jacket, pinch rolled jeans and perfectly greased jet black hair that gave the general appearance of the Fonz.

The creature leaned coolly against my fence, holding one finger of each hand in the air. I assumed those were the closest thing he had to thumbs.

“Aaaaaaaayyyy.”

EP534: Joolie & Irdl

by Sandy Parsons
narrated by Nicola Seaton-Clark

about the author… My fiction has been published in Nth Degree, Amazing Journeys, the anthology Unparalleled Journeys, Tabard Inn, State of Imagination, The World of Myth, and Everyday Fiction. Thank you for considering my work. I have degrees in physics, molecular biophysics and medical science and I work as anesthetist. I am a female, and have been acutely aware of that my entire professional life, including attempts at writing hard science fiction.

about the narrator… Nicola Seaton-Clark has worked professionally as an actress for over fifteen years in TV, film and radio. She started her career as a jazz singer and later a singer in a rock band. Her voice-over experience includes TV and radio advertising, singing jingles, film dubbing and synchronization, training videos, corporate films, animation, and Interactive Voice Response for telephone menus. She is also a qualified TEFL teacher and has extensive experience as a vocal coach specializing in South African, Australian and New Zealand accents. http://www.offstimme.com/

Joolie and Irdl
By Sandy Parsons

The first time Irdl heard Joolie sing his pollinators stiffened under their leathery sheath. He’d had to switch from his walking legs to his squatters to remain upright. She was oblivious as he fell in behind her. She sang a human song, logical enough, being a human. He recognized the words, even though she added extra syllables, as if she’d sucked the words down her windpipe and divided them into their component parts before sending them back on achingly sweet vibrations formed from her full lips. As she sang, she plucked dry bits of moss from the grassy wall and disappeared around a corner.

He began to look for her after that. He’d catch sight of her hair first, because it rose above her. She carried a basket and a small set of silver tools, tweezers and scissors and a scoop, and he soon realized that he was jealous of them, for they were caressed by her dark fingers. He did a little searching and discovered that her job was to maintain the moss that kept the station’s gas balance in check. He petitioned Pung to let him change his lunch hour so that he might better align his schedule with hers. She didn’t always sing as she clipped and tugged and sprayed the furry walls, but the damage had been done. Irdl was smitten.

He squeezed in behind her on a gyro-shuttle. The shuttle was full, so the usual rules about personal space could be forgiven a little. He let one of his overhanging appendages rest so that the tip floated amongst her crown of wiry ringlets. She turned around, more inquisitive than annoyed.

“Excuse me.” He intoned the words with as much human inflection as his mandibles allowed, and retracted the arm. She nodded as if mollified and started to turn back. He added, hastily, “Your dreadlocks are lovely.”

“I don’t have dreadlocks.”

“Pl- Please forgive me. What do you call them, then? I am unfamiliar.” He winced inwardly at playing the alien card, at least so soon. He usually waited until he got them back to his hammock.

“It’s just my hair.” She gave her mane a little shake, and the flesh of her arms and the swell of her breasts shook where they were not confined by her cleensoot. She must have seen something in his gaze, although he couldn’t be sure what, or even hope, but she said, “You can touch it if you want.”

EP526: The Hunter Captain

by David John Baker
narrated by Mat Weller

author David John Baker

author David John Baker

about the author… Aside from my philosophical essays, I also write short science fiction stories.  Some of these have been published in anthologies.

The Hunter Captain
by David John Baker

“The sign for the survivor’s species is ‘human,'” said Kyber, “although I am unsure of the exact pronunciation.”

Hunter Captain Sra examined the data feed, zooming in on an image of the human’s brain. “Have you discovered anything in her nervous system that might function as a seat of consciousness?” said Sra.

“There is one promising organ. An intersection here, between the two hemispheres of the brain. But we’ve found such things before, in highly developed animals. I see no particular reason for optimism.”

Although he knew it was naive, Sra was optimistic. For once his hunter’s skills might not be needed–if the human was in fact a sentient alien being. Although it meant Explorer Captain Kyber would retain command of the ship, the prospect of true first contact spoke to a dream Sra had cultivated since his infancy.

Sra was old enough to recall an earlier age, when no one believed that the Nampranth were alone. A time before their race journeyed outside the home system–before they found a galaxy infested with intelligent animals and bereft of sentient life.

Already this mission seemed different. Sra had never heard of a more auspicious contact. They’d found the alien ship alone, disabled–apparently by a freak collision with a cosmic string. Its single passenger was recovered still unconscious, its computer’s artificial animal dormant but intact. The animal’s architecture had so far resisted interface with Nampranth computers, but Kyber’s explorers had already learned much from the ship’s markings. It was a perfect opportunity for slow, cautious study before beginning the delicate process of contact.

“When do you plan to revive the human?” Sra said.

“Perhaps very soon. We can’t learn much more from noninvasive scans, especially given the number of cybernetic devices operating within her brain.”

EP520: Artemis Rising – Singing to the Stars

by Alanna McFall
narrated by Amanda Fitzwater
with guest host Amy H. Sturgis

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Artemis Rising

a celebration of women and non-binary authors
author Alanna McFall

author Alanna McFall

about the author…

Alanna is an upcoming science fiction and fantasy writer. She has worked in a variety of mediums, from short stories to novels to audio scripts, and across a range of locations, stretching the span of the country from New York to Minnesota to her current location in the Bay Area of California. She is always looking for ways to expand her repertoire and get involved in her next project.

Follow her work on Twitter at @AlannaMcFall, or on her website, alannamcfall.wordpress.com. And keep an eye out for her upcoming short stories with Mad Scientist Journal (http://madscientistjournal.org/), starting in May 2016.

narrator Amanda Fitzwater

narrator Amanda Fitzwater

about the narrator…

Amanda Fitzwater is a dragon wearing a human meat suit from Christchurch, New Zealand. A graduate of Clarion 2014, she’s had short fiction published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Crossed Genres Magazine, and other venues of repute. Look out for upcoming stories in Shimmer Magazine and The Future Fire. She has done narrations across all Escape Artist podcasts, as well as Redstone SF, Interzone, and Wily Writers. She tweets as @AJFitzwater
Singing to the Stars
by Alanna McFall

Aisha sighed and stared down the pile completely obscuring her in-tray. Maybe if she glared at it long enough, it would shrink under the full power of her frustration. She could see scraps of different alphabets scrawled across the pages, everything from the swooping curves of Arabic to the dots and jagged spikes of Ortaxaben. A small cube on the top of the pile was a form written in three-dimensional Kem script, and would take over an hour to get into English. If she had to translate it into Sssstip it could take all day, taking concepts with a million shades of grey built into the letters themselves and synthesizing it into a language with less than two hundred words.

It was days like these that she dreaded even coming into the office. Everyone had told her that she was crazy to take a job at the Extraterrestrial Community Outreach and Legal Assistance Bureau, had told her that she could get a much better job somewhere else, but had she listened? No, she had been all starry eyed, almost literally, about helping the visitors to Earth and representing her planet. Five years later, she was tempted to shove everything that wasn’t strictly confidential in a box, take it home, and do her work in her pajamas while eating cereal. She hadn’t entirely ruled out that option for the day. But for the moment she was here, and there was nothing else to it but to buckle down and get to work.

Near the top of the pile there was a notice on a Shess Global Languages refresher course being held in two weeks; Aisha rubbed her temples. She couldn’t really complain, when being even just familiar in SGLs would guarantee her bills were always paid. But the reason almost no other translators bothered with them, the reason there were such frequent refresher courses, was that the languages changed on an almost daily basis. In a sentient, advanced species with a lifespan of little more than a decade, the Shess youth learned fast and made their own indelible marks on the dialects in the few years it took them to reach adolescence. Dialects shifted and melted together and moved apart, slang came into and went out of style before it could be studied, and at best estimation, the SGL set contained at least four hundred different languages. Aisha could just barely claim fluency in the three most spoken on Earth, and it was a fight to keep up.

But she knew it was an important fight. So many of the cases she was brought in to translate for were a complete mess. Humans gouging Shess at every turn because they knew the legal proceedings could drag out over years. Why charge your Shess tenants a fair rent when they could literally grow old and die in the time it took to cut through the legal jargon of the alien amnesty laws? Anything that could make matters go faster was a godsend to the legal aids.

Aisha just did not want to think about this today: about unfair practices and abuses and the mundane worsts that any species could offer. She looked at the pile of paper and all she saw was a mess of trouble, waiting for her to start to untangle it. Even if she wasn’t the one to deal with the next steps, even if she would be handing it over to the social workers and paralegals once it was translated, it still tired her. She was so, so tired.

EP515: The Winter Festival

by Evan Berkow
narrated by Kate Baker

 

 

author Evan Berkow

author Evan Berkow

about the author… Evan Berkow lives in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife and their two enormous gray cats. He writes speculative fiction when not lawyering. “Stoop Sale” is his first published work of fiction. Find him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Evan_Berkow.

 

narrator Kate Baker

narrator Kate Baker

about the narrator… Kate Baker is the Podcast Director and Non-fiction Editor for Clarkesworld Magazine. She has been very privileged to narrate over 250 short stories/poems by some of the biggest names in Science Fiction and Fantasy.Kate has also read for various other audio venues such as StarShipSofa, Escape Pod, Nightmare Magazine, Mash Stories, The Drabblecast and Cast of Wonders.

Kate is currently situated in Northern Connecticut with her first fans; her three wonderful children. She is currently working as the Operations Manager for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

 

The Winter Festival
By Evan Berkow

The morning of the Winter Festival, I woke to the dull pounding of hammer on nail on wood. The Michigan winter made the sounds thick and sluggish, as if even noises needed to keep bundled.

My brother Joe was already up, tugging idly at his eyebrow ring and staring out the window.

“You keep pulling that, it’ll get infected.” I corrected myself. “More infected.”

Joe laughed. “Thanks for the warning, little sis.”

I swiveled out from under my covers and tested the bedroom floor. Even with footie pajamas it was frigid. I danced over icy wood to my brother and stood beside him at the window.

We lived in a February Town miles north of the Detroit ruins. Our home was just townhouse in a larger block, about twenty of them arranged in a ring facing outward against the world. The block was a closed loop, a circle of wagons defending a raggedy little park where a swing set slumped in trampled winter grass.

The park was full that morning, the block parents all working together to prepare for the evening’s festivities. I immediately made out our father. He was hunkered over a long slice of lumber in a way that seemed impossible given his chubbiness, his thick padded coat making him look like a yellow marshmallow. He was hammering a series of wooden triangles, like dragon’s teeth, into the plank. His face was flushed from exertion and the bite of the lake wind.

Other parents were equally busy. Some were painting slats, others were assembling a great iron skeleton in the middle of the park. No way to make out its shape, but it seemed so familiar, like something out of an almost-remembered nightmare. It made me shiver.

There were other faces in windows. My friends staring out at the work being done from the backs of their houses. I could see Kelly, a shy girl whose crush Joe tolerated with a cool reserve, making a tight ball of herself in a rooftop crook. She was recognizable only for the bright red hair that burst from beneath her cap. I tugged on some strands of my own mud-brown frizz, feeling just as jealous as every other time I saw her.

EP510: Them Ships

by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
read by Dani Cutler

author Silvia Moreno-Garcia; photo by Shimon, 2015

author Silvia Moreno-Garcia; photo by Shimon, 2015

about the author…

Mexican by birth, Canadian by inclination. Silvia’s debut novel, Signal to Noise, about music, magic and Mexico City, was released in 2015 by Solaris.

Silvia’s first collection, This Strange Way of Dying, was released in 2013 and was a finalist for The Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her stories have also been collected in Love & Other Poisons. She was a finalist for the Manchester Fiction Prize and a winner of the Vanderbilt/Exile Short Fiction Competition.She has edited several anthologies, including She Walks in ShadowsSword & MythosFungiDead North and Fractured.Silvia is the publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, a Canadian micro-publishing venture specializing in horror and dark speculative fiction.To contact Silvia e-mail her at silvia AT silviamoreno-garcia DOT com. You can also find her on Twitter and Google+.

Silvia is represented by Eddie Schneider at the JABberwocky Literary Agency.

 

narrator Dani Cutler

narrator Dani Cutler

about the narrator…

Dani Cutler last narrated for EP in 454: Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One. 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.

Them Ships
by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Leonardo says that the Americans are going to fire some rockets and free us from the tyranny of the aliens and I say: who gives a shit. Lemme tell you something: It wasn’t super-awesome around here before the aliens. At least we get three meals every day now.

I used to live in a cardboard house with a tin roof and collected garbage for a living. They called my home a ‘lost city’ but they should’ve called it ‘fucked city.’

Leonardo talks about regaining our freedom, ‘bout fighting and shit. What damn freedom? You think I had freedom in the slums? Leonardo can talk freedom out his ass because he had money before this thing started and he saw too many American movies where they kill the monsters with big guns.

I’m not an idiot. The cops used to do their little “operations” in our neighborhood. They’d come in and arrest everyone, take everything. They weren’t Hollywood heroes out to help people. They were fucking assholes and I don’t see why they would have changed. As for American soldiers saving the day: You think they give a rat’s ass ‘bout Mexico City? You think they’re going to fly here in their helicopters and save us?

I say fuck that shit. I never had no freedom. Leonardo can go piss himself.