from Wikipedia: Constance Elaine Trimmer Willis (born December 31, 1945) is an American science fiction writer. She has won eleven Hugo Awards and seven Nebula Awards for particular works —more “major awards” than any other writer — most recently the year’s “Best Novel” Hugo and Nebula Awards for Blackout/All Clear (2010). She was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Science Fiction Writers of America named her its 28th SFWA Grand Master in 2011.
Several of her works feature time travel by history students at a faculty of the future University of Oxford—sometimes called the Time Travel series. They are the short story “Fire Watch” (1982, also in several anthologies and the 1985 collection of the same name), the novels Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog (1992 and 1998), as well as the two-part novel Blackout/All Clear (2010). All four won the annual Hugo Award and all but To Say Nothing of the Dog won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards.
Seth Gordon, a mild-mannered programmer for a great metropolitan software company, lives in Boston with his wife and three sons. For the past two and a half years, he has belonged to B-Spec, the Boston Speculative Fiction Writing Group, which has given him valuable advice and support. His personal Web site is at http://imaginaryfamilyvalues.com. This is his first professional fiction sale.
about the narrator…
Melissa is the proud mom of a nine-year-old boy and seven-year-old girl. She is a special educator in her sixteenth year of teaching. Mel has taught all grade levels from preschool to grade five in both general and special education. This past year, however, she left the world of elementary school to teach Special Education in a High School Conceptual Physics and Chemistry class. She survived her first year of being the shortest person in the classroom and was enthusiastic to get back to teaching velocity, gravity and atoms for the 2014-2015 school year. In her “free time,” she co-produces a children’s story podcast with her techie husband called Night Light Stories and writes a blog about the silly antics of her family called According To Mags.
by Seth Gordon
When Cassie Levine was nine years old, her family lived in the center of Boston, Lyndon B. Johnson was President, and Cassie learned that her mother was a criminal.
The two of them sat in a parked car on Blue Hill Avenue, outside Ethel Glick’s grocery store. While Cassie ate an ice-cream sandwich, her mother smoked a cigarette. The sandwich, the cigarettes, and three bags of groceries had come from Mrs. Glick’s store. When the ice cream sandwich was half gone, Cassie asked, “Why did you change Dad’s money at Mrs. Glick’s? Why not go to the bank?”
Cassie’s mother had passed Mrs. Glick a twenty-dollar bill; the older woman had tucked the bill under the counter and handed back a stack of coupons; then, her mother had used some of those coupons to pay Mrs. Glick. Each twenty-coupon note showed a picture of Margaret Mitchell, holding a copy of _Gone With the Wind_. Cassie’s little brother called coupons “cootie money,” because only women and girls could use them.
“The exchange rate at the banks is twenty-seven coupons for a dollar,” Cassie’s mother said, “and Mrs. Glick is paying thirty-one.”
“Why don’t the banks pay thirty-one?”
“The government won’t let them.”
“Does the government let Mrs. Glick?”
Cassie’s mother drew on her cigarette and exhaled out the half-open window into the drizzle. Cassie licked vanilla ice cream all around the edge of her sandwich, feeling smug and virtuous and full of sugar. “You’re doing something il-le-gal,” she said, stretching out the last word.
“Don’t tell your father about this.”
Cassie raised her eyebrows. Her mother’s expression was solemn. Through the blur of rain over the windshield, Cassie could see the delicatessen on the opposite corner; the G&G sign was suspended over the sidewalk, round and vertical like a ketchup bottle. Some nights, Cassie’s father would take the family out to dinner there.
“He’s an idealist, and I love him for that, but… he doesn’t understand how much things cost.”
“Is it really illegal, changing money at Mrs. Glick’s? Could you get arrested for it?”
Her mother shook her head. “It’s like jaywalking, honey. It doesn’t hurt anyone, and the police have better things to do than go after it.”
Rachael K. Jones is a science fiction and fantasy author, and the Submissions Editor of Escape Pod. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Strange Horizons,PodCastle, the Drabblecast, Intergalactic Medicine Show,Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, and Penumbra. She has a degree in English and is currently pursuing a second degree in Speech-Language Pathology. She lives in Athens, GA with her husband and perpetual alpha reader, Jason.
You can follow her on Twitter @RachaelKJones.
about the narrator…
Dave Thompson is the California King and the Easter Werewolf, and is the host and co-editor of PodCastle. He has narrated audiobooks (by Tim Pratt, Greg van Eekhout, and James Maxey), written short stories (published in or forthcoming from Apex, Drabblecast, Pseudopod, and Escape Pod), and lost NaNoWriMo twice. He lives outside Los Angeles with his wife and three children.
The Mercy of Theseus
by Rachael K. Jones
Greta and Jamal have three arms, two legs, and one working kidney between the two of them. The kidney belongs to Greta. Its twin went to her little sister three years back, and now she has a laparoscopic keyhole scar over her belly button to remember it by. She can feel it pull tight when she rolls her creeper beneath the chassis of the next project in the shop. Thanks to the war, Jamal has lost the arm, the legs, and the other two kidneys.
All his parts have since been replaced.
When Greta picked up Jamal in Washington, D.C. three days back, the first thing she did was insult him.
“You look like shit,” she said. His left hand–the good one–flew up to his right cheek where the surgical scars stood out like red cords. His bionics were top notch–the Army had to put you together again before they could legally discharge you–but you could still see where the silicone skin ended and his real face began.
Greta snorted. “Not your face, you moron. Your sweatshirt. You look like a psycho killer.”
Jamal wore an oversize gray Army sweatshirt with the hoodie cinched tight beneath his chin. He dropped his hand and sidestepped when she tried to hug him. “Where did you park? Let’s get out of here.”
She ignored the slight and led the way to the parking lot. She felt secretly gratified when Jamal’s jaw dropped at the sight of the ancient Mercedes. “Jesus fucking Christ, Greta! You found Mercy!”
Greta sidled up behind him and eased the duffel bag from his hand–the bionic one. It looked like a real hand up close. Just not like Jamal’s hand. “Get in. We’re going on a road trip.” She slung the duffel bag on a stack of Heinleins in the back and took the driver’s seat.
Anaea Lay lives in Seattle, Washington where she sells Real Estate under a different name, writes, cooks, plays board games, takes gratuitous walks, runs the Strange Horizonspodcast, and plots to take over the world. The rumors that she never sleeps are not true. The rumors that you’re a figment of her imagination are compelling.
You can send her an email at email@example.com
She’s on google+ as Anaea Lay and posts most everything publicly
She struggles valiantly against Twitter’s oppressive character limit as @anaealay
Yes, she stole her first name from a dead Amazon. No, she has nothing to do with the butterfly.
about the narrator…
A Kovacs is the tireless, relentless right hand of your Future Dark Overlord.
By Anaea Lay
Dora’s favorite thing about Justin was that he liked to talk during sex. A good conversation turned him on, and he’d keep it up until the breathless, incoherent stage right before the end. They weren’t at that stage quite yet. Soon. At the moment she was nibbling the flesh at the very top of his thigh.
What’s the spot for the sexbot to spot the spot of the plot damn spot
You’ll never get it out
The music fell from the speakers in a manic rush and Dora shifted her pace to match it. Her skin tingled in response to his arousal, her body automatically configuring itself to comply with the program they’d designed together before starting.
“Ugh, I hate this song,” Justin said.
Dora tightened her hand around him as she let go with her teeth. The conversation kept her mind engaged, prevented her from slipping completely into brain-dead-Bot mode. “Really? I like it. It’s catchy.”
“It’s awful,” Justin said. “Haven’t you seen the video?”
She had, and he was right, it was awful. A Sex Bot got jealous of her primary client’s human lover and attacked her. As if the heart-break of watching the client defend the lover weren’t enough, the video went on to lovingly depict the brutal punishment and dismantling of the offending bot. Dora’s skin went clammy-cold when she’d watched it.
“Yeah, but the nastiness isn’t in the actual lyrics, and it is really catchy.” (Continue Reading…)
Sarah Pinsker is the author of the novelette “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,” Sturgeon Award winner 2014 and Nebula finalist 2013. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Lightspeed, Daily Science Fiction, the Journal of Unlikely Cartography, Fireside, Stupefying Stories, and PULP Literature, and in anthologies including Long Hidden, Fierce Family, and The Future Embodied.
She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels (the third with her rock band, the Stalking Horses) and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland and can be found online at sarahpinsker.com and twitter.com/sarahpinsker.
about the narrator…
Amy’s voice over training began by taking a short workshop at the Alliance Theatre, instructed by industry veteran, Paul Armbruster. Having whetted her appetite for the craft, she sought out further voiceover training with experts and agents alike, and finally landed at yourAct studios in Atlanta, GA. Under the expert instruction of Della Cole, a seasoned voice actress with over 30 years experience as both an actress and an agent, Amy grew as an actress and a voice over talent. She continues to sharpen her skills and is constantly working hard to provide the best possible voiceovers in the business. She is now proudly represented by People Store, and Umberger Agency, and works both in local studios and out of her home studio.
The Transdimensional Horsemaster Rabbis of Mpumalanga Province
by Sarah Pinsker
I. Options for an Imagined Pictorial Eulogy of Oliver Haifetz-Perec
IMAGE 1: The photograph depicts an unmade bed covered in gear and clothing. A military-style duffel, half filled, dominates the shot. A camera bag sits next to it, cameras and lenses and lens cleaners laid out neatly alongside.
IMAGE 2: Shot from the center of the bed. A shirtless man reaches for something high in the closet. He has the too-thin build of an endurance runner, his bare back lanky and muscled. There is a permanent notch in his left shoulder, from where his camera bag rests. A furrow across his back tells of a bullet graze in Afghanistan. The contrast of his skin and his faded jeans plays well in black and white. A mirror on the dresser catches Yona Haifetz-Perec in the act of snapping the picture, her face obscured but her inclusion clearly deliberate. Multiple subjects, multiple stories.
IMAGE 3: This photograph does not actually exist. A third person in the room might have taken an intimate portrait of the two alone in their Tel Aviv apartment, photographers once again becoming subjects. A third person might have depicted the way her freckled arms wrapped around his torso, tender but not possessive. It might have shown the serious looks on both of their faces, the way each tried to mask anxiety, showing concern to the room, but not each other. They have the same career. They accept the inherent risks. They don’t look into each other’s faces, but merely press closer. It would have been the last photograph of the two together. Eleven days later, he is beaten to death in Uganda. His press credentials, his passport, his cameras, his memory cards, and cash are all found with his body; it isn’t a robbery. Since the third option doesn’t exist, the last picture of Yona and Oliver is the one that she took from the bed: his strong back, her camera’s eye.
IMAGE 4: A Ugandan journalist sent Yona a clipping about Oliver’s death. A photo accompanies the article. It shows a body, Oliver’s body, lying in the street. Yona doesn’t know why anyone would think she would want to see that photograph. She does; she doesn’t. She could include it, make people face his death head on.
Instead she opts for
IMAGE 5: in which Oliver plays football with some children in Kampala, his dreadlocks flying, his smile unguarded (photographer unknown), and IMAGE 6.
Credits: The Australian science fiction magazine Cosmos: The Science of Everything published my hard sci fi story “Echoes” and “Inspiration” was printed in the first Antipodean SF Anthology. Other credits include the comparative mythology fantasy “Realms of Gold” and Jupiter mining sci fi “Bright Cloud of Music,” both at Neverworlds The Unique Fiction Webzine. I was short-listed for the Random House/Transworld Australia George Turner Prize for my manuscript “Hashakana”.
about the narrator…
Pamela Quevillon is a writer and narrator who lives in the St Louis area and gives voice to everything from planetarium shows to documentary movies from her not necessarily well heated attic. You can find more of her narration as part of the Space Stories series on 365 Days of Astronomy and on past episodes of Escape Pod.
by Liz Heldmann
The disruptor net hit the ocean with an eruption of steam. Obscuring billows gouted up in columns of gray and white and the target was close enough that the aft hull immediately registered a thermic spike. The temperature shot from swampy greenhouse to hot-as-fucking-Hades. Technically speaking.
Around the quadrant, warships were deploying nets as weaponry. Best not to think about that. Science was the new war, according to Delia.
The weave generated out of the arse end of the ship was coarse, each node tuned two-dimensionally to its neighbors in a honeycomb lattice that formed a curved plane. A great big seine made of plasma, dragging a world ocean underneath a sun that filled the forward viewscreen as if trying to muscle out of the frame.
Both density and chemistry dials had been spun and today’s net split the surly bonds between hydrogen and oxygen wherever it encountered them in a medium of approximately one gram per cubic centimeter. Which meant that the net sliced through alien waters like gamma rays through goose shit and didn’t so much as muss the hair of any entities it scooped up in the process.
Forget ‘Take me to your leader’. We quit asking nicely a few planetary systems in.
Just about the day we got our first sentient ‘Thanks, but no thanks, and by the way, eat plasma’.
Hence the warships.
The thought of slammin’ and jammin’ in the spaces between worlds raised a bit of nostalgia in a girl.
“All right, Shar, bring her up!” Delia’s shout interrupted before I got all weepy.
The science vehicle, romantically named ScV-341, burped inertial brakes out of its titanium skin and gimbaled 45°. The net raveled in. A telltale with the image of a stepped-on snail floating above it went green, the deck vibrated and the ship pinged a saccharine little public service announcement. “Aft hold, secure.”
“Thank you, ship.” We’d been excessively polite to each other ever since Delia had told me it was beneath me to argue with a ship over operational procedure. What she’d told it, I don’t know.
Sam Ferree grew up in what Neal Stephenson called a Midwestern American College Town (MACT) and has never really left. That, and being surrounded by lawyers for most of his life, has made him somewhat obsessive-compulsive about supporting his comments with citations and factual evidence.
In 2010, Sam graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in English after spending a year abroad in Freiburg, Germany. He spent most of his college career haunting the Mill and Java House, producing short plays with Free Association Student Theatre, agonizing through writing workshops, and pestering the college and English department into making a undergraduate creative writing program.
After graduating, he did that cliche post-English-BA-thing and worked in a coffee shop and bookstore before signing up for AmeriCorps. He moved to New Orleans and wrote grants and copy for a housing rehabilitation nonprofit. In June, he moved to St. Paul and now works as a communications associate at another small nonprofit.
In the summer of 2011, Sam published his first short story with the great Sybil’s Garage, and his work has since appeared in Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magainze, Deimos eZine, and Daily Science Fiction. His play, “The News is Next,” won the Nicholas Meyer Scholarship for Dramatic Writing and he is a alumnus from Young Playwrights’ Incorporated from 2006. Mostly he writes speculative fiction, personal essays, and plays and takes a perverse pleasure in copy and grant writing.
Also, Sam reads a lot, and drinks too much coffee. He wears sports coats for the pockets and has a habit of ending his sentences with “so…” He is estranged from reality and divorced from practicality. Driving instructors have said he is a master at parallel parking.
about the narrator…
As an undergraduate at Georgia Tech, I was very involved with the campus radio station, WREK 91.1 FM. I’m back doing some things for them now, including an airshift (that I no longer do but I’m leaving the page up.) That page has some of my play lists from when I was doing the shift – jazz, baby! WREK is a very good and very different station, so follow the links and learn more about it. I rebuilt their automation system, revamped their database and did the CGI scripts that show you (limited) playlists, recent additions to programming and the music database search.
I now have online a project that I did in some AI courses in grad school. It is a digit recognition neural network and if I say so myself, I think it is pretty cool. It was one of the first things I did in Java, so it isn’t as elegant in design and execution as it could have been, but it does the trick.
The Law of Gravity
by Sam Ferree
That sunrise was the best they had made yet. The air was cool, not cold, and the Termination was just the right shade of pomegranate red around the sun. The light breeze smelled like oranges. It reminded me of candy, not real fruit, just that imitation flavor that somehow tastes better than the real thing.
“I think Lauren’s dead,” Lukas repeated, his avatar’s young face contorted in disgust. Lukas had chosen a runner’s physique, because, out there, he’d been a track star in college; why that mattered to him was beyond me.
“What do you mean you think she’s dead?” I asked. We were sitting at Reel Café — a not-so clever pun, I thought — at the edge of the patio. We had met there every Monday morning for years.
My coffee was cold and my cigarette spent. Lukas had ordered his usual Earl Grey and a grapefruit, but he hadn’t touched either one.
Lukas shook his head. “Her avatar is in Smith Field. Just standing there, staring off at nothing. It’s been doing that for weeks. I spoke with a friend of mine, an administrator. They’re shutting down her account because her fees are overdue. She hasn’t been away from the Flat for more than two days in decades. She’s dead, Noah.”
“So she’s been away for a few weeks. That doesn’t mean anything.”
“But it’s a pretty good sign she isn’t coming back.”
The orange scent was fading and Lukas was silent. I said, “Well, what do we do?”
“What?” Lukas looked up. Eventually, he shrugged. “I suppose we arrange a funeral.”
I nodded, but said, “I don’t actually think she’s dead.”
“She is,” Lukas muttered. His twenty-something avatar wore an old man’s bitterness.
I picked up my coffee. The mug looked like it had been made by a five year old. Everything about the Reel Café had that hokey-imperfection. When you sat in the chairs, you half-expected a distinguished looking gentleman to walk up and ask you to please not sit on the dadist art.
I dropped the mug. It shattered with a disappointing crack. A nearby waiter started toward me, glowering and brandishing a towel like a gladiatorial weapon.
“Why did you do that?” Lukas asked.
“Just testing,” I said, knowing that Lauren would have been less than amused. (Continue Reading…)
I live with my husband Brian, 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.
I’m a member of the Cajun Sushi Hamsters from Hell – a science fiction writer’s group. I sold a story to an online magazine (now defunct) in 2009 that garnered a Nebula nomination (probably from my friend Mary), and in 2013 I attended the Clarion Science Fiction Workshop in San Diego, CA. In 2014, I became a member of SFWA, the Science Fiction Writers of America professional organization. You can find links to my stories and more about my writing at my author’s website: http://marievibbert.com
I’m also a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, squired to Sir Ephraim ben Shlomo.
Since 2010 I’ve been playing football for the Cleveland Fusion, a women’s tackle football team. I’m a lineman.
about the narrator…
Tatiana fell in love with New York City when she took a school trip to the city at 16 years old. Six months later she had her feet and a suitcase on the New York City asphalt as a new student accepted into New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts which began her New York career. She adores traveling and counts her lucky stars that acting and dancing have taken her all over the United States, to Montreal, Vancouver, Ireland, and Holland… but she loves coming home to New York where it all started.
Equally at home speaking heightened language in a corset, in a leather jacket spouting obscenities, and as a dancer she has been compared to such dark, vivacious heroines as Helena Bonham Carter, a young Winona Ryder and Ellen Page. This depth and facility with multiple genres garnered her a New York Innovative Theatre Award Best Featured Actress nomination for her work in The Night of Nosferatu. Her facility with accents has landed her quite a few audiobooks and numerous on- camera roles including the role of Evgenya in the award winning I am A Fat Cat. Tatiana is a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association.
by Marie Vibbert
Nanlee was a woman with the sort of past that necessitated moving to a non-extradition treaty country, but that didn’t mean she hadn’t planned on enjoying her “retirement” on Luna Colony. She was Facilities Manager – a polite term for the boss of all janitors. Her staff jumped anxiously at her every glance, and waste was down nine percent since she had taken office. She was still important; the life of the colony depended on her work. No one bothered her. Which was fortunate, given how she used to deal with people who bothered her.
Luna Colony concerned itself with maintaining the Ungodly Huge Array on the dark side of the moon and serving as a weigh station between Earth’s inconvenient atmosphere and the rest of the universe. Nanlee concerned herself with minding her own business.
She was at her desk when the alarms started. A male voice recorded long ago grunted “Evacuate. Imminent danger of decompression. Evacuate.” No doubt he had thought he sounded important and tough. Nanlee sighed and locked her workstation.
Vince, her assistant, fell to a halt against the door as she was picking up her cane. “Boss! The station—”
“Yes, I heard. I do have two working ears. Probably a drill, but gather everyone to the garage.”
Vince’s hazel eyes just about vibrated, so wide open she could see the white all the way around the iris. “It isn’t a drill! This is ‘we could all die tonight’ bad news.”
Nanlee paused, half on her cane, half on the edge of the desk, pulling herself out of her chair. She fell back into the seat. She could feel her hot-tub calling to her. “Metaphorical death or literal?”
“Literal. Two tons of titanium on a crash-course with our dome.” He tapped her desk surface, hurriedly typing in his password and pulling a document, which he rotated with a flick of his hand to point at her.
It was an orbit decay projection. They always looked the same. “And this is too big for the dome to handle?”
“It’ll crack us like an egg!”
Vince sounded excited, almost gleeful, at the prospect. He was young.
“What the hell is it?”
“The last stage of a Saturn V rocket. Sucker’s been orbiting Luna for a hundred years. Maybe it got hit by some other debris, maybe it’s just decided now’s the time to land.”
Nanlee stopped herself from asking “Saturn what?” because Vince was looking at her like he’d just won the lottery. “Does Trey know about this?”
Trey was the mayor of the colony, Nanlee’s boss.
Vince rolled his eyes. “Of course Trey knows.” Like that was any less valid a question than asking her if she had heard the evacuation announcement. Nanlee wasn’t going to waste breath pointing it out. “He sent me to tell you we’ve got a little less than a day.”
“Well pack shit up!” She poked her cane against the wall behind her to get a little boost forward. “Get Percy and take the organic filters off-line. They won’t survive decompression. Also—“
“No. We’ve got a day to try and save the colony.”
Nanlee arched an eyebrow. “We?”
“Trey has put waste management on this. Everyone else is booking it.”
“Why the hell is this my jurisdiction?”
“Because,” he smiled ruefully, “it’s trash.”
With surprising strength, Nanlee pushed Vince out of her way and started down the corridor. She didn’t bother playing up her limp like she usually did – it never hurts to be underestimated. “Where is he? Where is Trey?”
“Uh… he’s gone. Central administration relocated before the alarm.”
“Damn.” Nanlee bounced upward as she struck the floor with her cane. Vince ducked as she whirled in place and started toward the equipment bays. “If we’re staying, our gear is staying. Don’t tell me that coward commandeered a single maintenance vehicle.”
I am a novelist, screenwriter, producer, poet, actor, and freethinker who supports both imagination and rationalism. I am an advocate for film and the written word and possibility.
I am a recent (2013) winner in the Writers of the Future contest and have since had work accepted in Escape Pod (“The Nightmare Lights of Mars”), Daily Science Fiction, Apex (winning the 2013 Story of the Year Reader’s Poll), Clarkesworld, COSMOS, Strange Horizons, Galaxy’s Edge, Penumbra, and Electric Velocipede.
about the narrator…
Mat reads stuff. Sometimes he voice acts too. Oh, and he just beat Metroid II for the first time since 1991.
by Brian Trent
The black steamrotor chugged noisily beneath the maze of damp brick arches, cutting a frothy wake in the underground canal. Edward Oakshott stood rigidly at the bow, leaning against his silver cane. The dank stink of London’s forgotten netherworld perspirated over the vessel’s wood, the humidity visibly beading like a spate of glassy insect eyes on the many green lamplights they passed. Edward drummed his fingers against one clammy hand. His sense of direction, precise as his fashionable gold pocketwatch, reckoned they must be passing directly below the evening crowd at Charing Cross’ Hungerford Market.
Yet he wondered at their boatman’s skill in navigating these dark, labyrinthine channels. How often were customers ferried to Thoth’s subterranean bazaar? Edward grinned in nervous anticipation and peered from beneath the rim of his hat at the constellation of green lamps marking the canal’s many twists and turns.
“We shall be late if this continues,” Sophia Westbury said behind him. Her folded parasol looked like a pale sword against her shoulder. “Really, Edward, was there no earlier date you could meet him? It had to wait until the very eve of war?”
“The party shall wait for me.”
“It will be a scandal,” Sophia said, though her bell-like voice belied the smile on her lips. Edward was already the scandal of the decade. Chessmen were synonymous with shadowy, secret shufflings in the night; living legends who could be your banker, teacher, butcher, parent, or carriage driver during times of peace. Edward’s public antics had shocked Europe into a buzzing hive.
Sophia sighed and looped her arm round his. “What do you know about this Thoth? Any man who dwells like a spider beneath London, spinning mechanical webs beyond the Ministry’s sight…” She shivered. “I feel like Faustus!”
“Henry sent a Bishop here last autumn, darling, the one who defended Cornwall. If Henry says Thoth is trustworthy, that is good enough for me.”
At these words, the boat banked sharply through a new arch, throwing up a huge wake. Edward steadied himself with pressure to his cane, but cast a ghastly glare at their boatman in the ship’s small cabin.
Edward Ashton is the author of more than a dozen short stories, as well as numerous technical articles and medical texts. His fiction has appeared in InterText, Louisiana Literature, and The Lowell Review, among other places. His first novel, Three Days in April, is currently in search of a good home. You can find his work online at smart-as-a-bee.tumblr.com.
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 – See more at: http://escapepod.org/2014/01/11/ep430-heart-joy/#sthash.zWMVsntv.dpuf
The Sky is Blue, and Bright, and Filled with Stars
by Edward Ashton
Dot reaches the summit of Mary’s Rock just after six, maybe an hour before sunset. It’s a clear, cool September day, with a scattering of tiny white clouds in a royal blue sky, and a soft, steady breeze from the west that brings the faint smell of burning things up from the ruins of Luray. She drops her pack at the top of the trail, pulls out a water bottle, and scrambles up the last thirty meters of broken granite to the high point. The trees on the north side of Thornton Gap a half-kilometer below are just showing the first hints of color, tiny flecks of red and gold mixed into a sea of dark green. Off to the west she can see the smoke now, rising from what looks like a brush fire far down the valley. She sits down, leans back against a waist-high block of stone, and drains half of her water in one long, lukewarm pull.
She’s been here once before, when she was years younger and there were still a few people raising goats and vegetables down in the valley. It was winter then, and she spent a crystal-clear, bitterly cold night out on the overlook, bundled into her mummy bag, sleeping in hour-long snatches, waking each time to a different dazzling pattern of stars and station-lights. The beauty was almost overwhelming, and she vowed then to come back some day, to see what it was like to spend a night on the summit when she didn’t have to worry about hypothermia.
As the sun begins to redden and dip toward the horizon, Dot climbs to her feet and makes her way back down to the overlook, a flat half-circle of stone maybe forty meters across, hanging out over four hundred meters of empty space. A hawk rides the breeze, floating almost stationary out over the drop. It looks at her, dips one wing, and falls like a stone, chasing something down below. Dot retrieves her pack, pulls out her food sack and her alcohol stove. She’s low on fuel. Four more days, maybe five, and she’ll be cooking over an open fire until she can find some more. As she measures out her supper, she realizes that she only has a few days worth of beans and noodles left. No point in cooking when you’ve got nothing to cook, and she’s at least a week’s walk from the nearest resupply. She sighs, and pours a third of what she’d taken back into the sack.