by Diana Wynne Jones
read by Emma Newman
Links for this episode:
- Our Drone Future – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgLkWT246qU
- Andrew Reid – http://mygoditsraining.co.uk/
- Joan De La Haye – http://joandelahaye.com/
- Liz De Jager – http://www.lizdejager.co.uk/
- Jennifer Williams – http://sennydreadful.co.uk/
- Mhairi Simpson – https://twitter.com/AMhairiSimpson
- Adele Wearing – http://www.foxspirit.co.uk/
- Tom Pollock – http://www.skyscraperthrone.com/
- Vincent Holland-Keen – https://twitter.com/fiskerton
- The End of Science Fiction the poem quoted at the end http://www.poetryfoundation.
- This story has appeared in Stories: All-New Tales Edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio
- Discuss on our forums.
- For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our sortable Wikipedia page
About the Author…
from the wiki about the author – Diana Wynne Jones (16 August 1934 – 26 March 2011) was an English writer, principally of fantasy novels for children and adults, as well as a small amount of non-fiction. Some of her better-known works are the Chrestomanci series, the Dalemark series; the novels Howl’s Moving Castle and Dark Lord of Derkholm; and The Tough Guide to Fantasyland.
About the Narrator…
Emma Newman is the author of the Split Worlds series published by Angry Robot Books and is also an audiobook narrator. She has her own podcast called Tea and Jeopardy which is a combination of guest interviews, geekery and abject silliness. You can find her online at www.enewman.co.uk.
by Diana Wynne Jones
Recorded on BSQ SpeekEasi Series 2/89887BQ and discovered in a skip in London’s Regent Street.
December 25th 2233
Tired today and having a lazy time. Got back late from Paris last night from Mother’s party. My sister is pregnant and couldn’t go (besides, she lives in Sweden) and Mother insisted that one of her daughters was there to meet our latest stepfather. Not that I did meet him particularly. Mother kept introducing me to a load of men and telling me how rich each of them were: I think she’s trying to start me on her own career which is, basically, marrying for money. Thanks, Mother, but I earn quite enough on the catwalk to be happy as I am. Besides, I’m having a rest from men since I split up with Liam.The gems of Mother’s collection were a French philosopher, who followed me around saying ‘La vide ce n’est pas le neant,’ (clever French nonsense meaning ‘The void is not nothing,’ I think), a cross-eyed Columbian film director, who kept trying to drape himself over me, and a weird millionaire from goodness knows where with diamante teeth. But there were others. I was wearing my new Stiltskins which caused me to tower over them. A mistake. They always knew where I was. In the end I got tired of being stalked and left. I just caught the midnight bullet train to London, which did not live up to its name. It was late and crowded out and I had to stand all the way.
My feet are killing me today.
Anyway I have instructed Housebot that I am Not At Home to anyone or anything and hope for a peaceful day. Funny to think that Christmas Day used to be a time when everyone got together and gave each other presents. Shudder. Today we think of it as the most peaceful day of the year. I sit in peace in my all-white living room—a by-product of Mother’s career, come to think of it, since my lovely flat was given to me by my last-stepfather-but-one—no, last-but- two now, I forgot.
Oh damn! Someone rang the doorbell and Housebot answered it. I know I told it not to.
Did I say we don’t give Christmas presents now? Talk about famous last words. Housebot trundled back in here with a tree of all things balanced on its flat top. Impossible to tell what kind of tree, as it has no leaves, no label to say who sent it, nothing but a small wicker cage tied to a branch with a fairly large brown bird in it. The damn bird pecked me when I let it out. It was not happy. It has gone to earth under the small sofa and left droppings on the carpet as it ran.
I thought Christmas trees were supposed to be green. I made Housebot put the thing outside in the patio, beside the pool, where it sits looking bare. The bird is hungry. It has been trying to eat the carpet. I went on the net to see what kind of bird it is. After an hour of trying, I got a visual that suggests the creature is a partridge. A game bird apparently. Am I supposed to eat it? I know they used to eat birds at Christmas in the old days. Yuk. I got on the net again for partridge food. ‘Sorry, dear customer, but there will be no deliveries until the start of the Sales on December 27th, when our full range of luxury avian foods will again be available at bargain prices.’ Yes, but what do I do now?
Oh hooray. Housebot has solved the problem by producing a bowl of tinned sweetcorn. I shoved it under the sofa and the creature stopped its noise.
Do trees need feeding?