Posts Tagged ‘free fiction’

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.

***** (Continue Reading…)

EP421: Bright Moment


by Daniel Marcus
read by Mr. Lee

Links for this episode:

About the Author…

from the wiki about the author…

Daniel Marcus has published stories in many literary and genre venues, including Witness, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, ZYZZYVA, and Fantasy and Science Fiction. Some of these have been collected in Binding Energy (Elastic Press, 2008).   He is the author of two novels: Burn Rate (2009), and A Crack In Everything(2011).

Daniel was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.  His non-fiction has appeared in Wired, Boing-Boing, the San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere, he has taught in the creative writing program at U.C. Berkeley Extension and is currently a member of the online faculty at Gotham Writers’ Workshop. He is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers’ Workshop.

After a spectacularly unsuccessful career attempt as a saxophonist, Daniel earned a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from U.C. Berkeley, has worked as an applied mathematician at the Lawrence Livermore Lab, the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, and Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study, and has authored numerous articles in the applied mathematics and computational physics literature. Daniel then turned his attention to the private sector, where for the last 15 years, he has built and managed systems and software in a variety of problem domains and organizational settings.

About the Narrator…

Our narrator this week is Mr. Lee, who makes industrial music for fun, but not much money.  You can find his stuff by googling “love songs about hate”.

 

Bright Moment
by Daniel Marcus

Arun floated in the ammonia swells, one arm around the buoyant powersled, waiting. He’d blocked all his feeds and chats, public and private, and silenced his alerts. He felt deliciously alone. His ears were filled with the murmuring white noise of his own blood flow, intimate and oceanic, pulsing with his heartbeat. Metis was a bright diamond directly overhead. Athena hung just above the near, flat horizon, her rings a plaited bow spanning the purple sky. Persistent storms pocked her striated surface, appearing deceptively static from thirty kiloklicks out. Arun had negotiated the edgewalls of those storms more than once, setting up metahelium deep-mining rigs. A host of descriptive words came to mind, but “static” was not among them.
The sea undulated slowly in the low gee, about 0.6 Standard. The distant shape of a skyhook was traced out by a pearlstring of lights reaching up from the horizon and disappearing into distance haze, blinking in synchronization to suggest upwards motion. The skyhook was the only point of reference for scale. He shuddered involuntarily. His e-field distributed warmth to his body extremities from the tiny pack at the small of his back and maintained his blood oxygenation, but bobbing in the swell, alone in the vast sea, he felt cold and a little dizzy. He wanted to breathe and felt a fleeting instant of lizard-brain panic.
The current began to tug at his feet long before he saw the humped swell bowing the horizon upwards, a slight backward drift, accelerating slowly. His heart began beating faster as he clambered belly down onto the power sled. He drifted back towards the swell, slowly at first, then faster. He looked over his shoulder at the rising wall of liquid. It appeared solid, like moving metal, completely blocking the sky. He imagined he could feel wind tugging at his e-field.
Arun felt a vibration through the powersled, a vast low frequency murmur, the world-ocean getting ready to kick his ass. Just as he was about to be sucked beneath the monstrous swell, he activated the sled. He surged forward and stood as the sled began to accelerate up the face of the wave.
He felt the sled’s stabilizers groaning beneath his feet as he sought balance on the flat surface. The wave steepened, hurtling him forward. He could just make out the landmass upon which this immense wave would break. Brooklyn was the moon’s only continent, a million square klicks of frozen nothing. (Continue Reading…)

EP420: The Shunned Trailer


by Esther Friesner
read by Norm Sherman

Links for this episode:

About the Author…

from the wiki about the author…

Esther Mona Friesner-Stutzman, née Friesner (born July 16, 1951) is a prolific American science fiction and fantasy author. She is best known for her humorous style of writing, both in the titles and the works themselves.

Friesner attended the Hunter College High School, a public magnet high school in New York City, as well as Vassar College. She holds a Ph.D. in Spanish and was a college professor at Yale University before becoming a writer.

In addition to short stories, Friesner has published a number of novels and is a prolific editor of anthologies. Among her recent books are Nobody’s Princess, which takes the Greek legend of Helen of Sparta and gives it a new beginning, and its sequel, Nobody’s Prize. She is a frequent guest of honor at science fiction conventions, having appeared at Bubonicon, Arisia, Boskone, Baycon and Albacon in the 1990s and into the 21st century.
Friesner is credited as one of the founders of a parody movement in the 1980s called cyberprep.

Friesner was named Outstanding New Fantasy Writer by Romantic Times in 1986. She won the Skylark Award in 1994. She has been nominated a number of times for the Hugo and Nebula awards, winning the Nebula Award for Best Short Story in 1995 and 1996 for, respectively, “Death and the Librarian” and “A Birth Day”.

EP419: Expediter


by Mack Reynolds
read by Corson Bremer

Links for this episode:

About the Author…

from the wiki about the author… From 1946-49, Reynolds worked as a national organizer for the SLP. In 1946, he made his first fiction sale, “What is Courage?”, to Esquire magazine. A year later, he met a woman who shared his radical politics, Helen Jeanette Wooley. They were married in September of 1947, and Jeanette agreed to support Reynolds for two years while he pursued a career as a writer for the detective pulps. After searching for a place with a low cost of living, they moved to Taos, New Mexico, where Reynolds met science fiction writers Walt Sheldon and Fredric Brown. Brown, later one of Reynolds’ frequent collaborators, convinced Reynolds to shift from writing detective stories to writing science fiction. Reynolds’ first sale of a science fiction story, “Last Warning” (also known as “The Galactic Ghost”), sold to Planet Stories in June 1949 but was not printed until 1954. His first published science fiction story, “Isolationist” appeared in Fantastic Adventures in June of 1950.[3] His career soon took off, resulting in a sale of 18 stories in 1950 alone.[1] In 1951, he published his first novel, The Case of the Little Green Men, a mix of the murder-mystery and science fiction genres that became “an instant classic of science-fiction-fan related fiction.”

About the Narrator…

Corson loves audio drama, dramatic readings, everything BBC 4 produces, SF, fantasy, horror, and tropical beaches.  (He doesn’t like Pina Coladas, but vodka straight up, turns him on.)  Corson works as a professional voice artist in a variety of fields but (occasionally) moonlights as a techncial writer or a French-to-English technical translator.  His website is HCBVoice.com but he is astonished and proud to be also listed as an actor on the IMDB website and also proud to give his time whenever possible to Escape Artists!  Quote: “Contribute to EA guys!”

 

 

 

Expediter
by Mack Reynolds

His assignment was to get things done;
he definitely did so.
Not quite the things intended, perhaps,
but definitely done.
*       *       *       *       *

The knock at the door came in the middle of the night, as Josip Pekic had always thought it would. He had been but four years of age when the knock had come that first time and the three large men had given his father a matter of only minutes to dress and accompany them. He could barely remember his father.

The days of the police state were over, so they told you. The cult of the personality was a thing of the past. The long series of five-year plans and seven-year plans were over and all the goals had been achieved. The new constitution guaranteed personal liberties. No longer were you subject to police brutality at the merest whim. So they told you.

But fears die hard, particularly when they are largely of the subconscious. And he had always, deep within, expected the knock.

He was not mistaken. The rap came again, abrupt, impatient. Josip Pekic allowed himself but one chill of apprehension, then rolled from his bed, squared slightly stooped shoulders, and made his way to the door. He flicked on the light and opened up, even as the burly, empty faced zombi there was preparing to pound still again.

There were two of them, not three as he had always dreamed. As three had come for his father, more than two decades before.

His father had been a rightist deviationist, so the papers had said, a follower of one of whom Josip had never heard in any other context other than his father’s trial and later execution. But he had not cracked under whatever pressures had been exerted upon him, and of that his son was proud.

He had not cracked, and in later years, when the cult of personality was a thing of the past, his name had been cleared and returned to the history books. And now it was an honor, rather than a disgrace, to be the son of Ljubo Pekic, who had posthumously been awarded the title Hero of the People’s Democratic Dictatorship.

But though his father was now a hero, Josip still expected that knock. However, he was rather bewildered at the timing, having no idea of why he was to be under arrest.

The first of the zombi twins said expressionlessly, “Comrade Josip Pekic?”
(Continue Reading…)

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?

(Continue Reading…)

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. (Continue Reading…)

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. (Continue Reading…)

EP413: Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers


by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Read by Jonathon Hawkins

Links for this episode:

Lawrence Watt-Evans
Lawrence Watt-Evans

About the Author…

from Amazon.com… I’ve been writing fantasy for thirty years… no, my fantasy’s been published for thirty years. I’ve been writing it since I was eight. It’s what I always wanted to do for a living, and I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve been able to manage that. I try to write fantasy with an element of common sense to it — not so much mythic archetypes as sensible people.

Other than my job, my life’s pretty ordinary — a nice house in a quiet neighborhood, a wife, two grown kids, and an overweight cat.

About the Narrator…

Jonathon Hawkins is a public school teacher in Madison, Wisconsin, where he spent a decade or so introducing Greek and Norse myth to middle-schoolers. Now teaching computer tech, he’s reading here to keep in practice until his toddler and new infant are ready to hear all about Loki, Artemis, and Papa Cthulhu.

 

Why I Left Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers
by Lawrence Watt-Evans
Harry’s was a nice place — probably still is. I haven’t been back lately. It’s a couple of miles off I-79, a few exits north of Charleston, near a place called Sutton. Used to do a pretty fair amount of business until they finished building the Interstate out from Charleston and made it worthwhile for some fast-food joints to move in right next to the cloverleaf; nobody wanted to drive the extra miles to Harry’s after that. Folks
used to wonder how old Harry stayed in business, as a matter of fact, but he did all right even without the Interstate trade. I found that out when I worked there.

Why did I work there, instead of at one of the fast-food joints? Because my folks lived in a little house just around the corner from Harry’s, out in the middle of nowhere — not in Sutton itself, just out there on the road. Wasn’t anything around except our house and Harry’s place. He lived out back of his restaurant. That was about the only thing I could walk to in under an hour, and I didn’t have a car.

This was when I was sixteen. I needed a job, because my dad was out of work again and if I was gonna do anything I needed my own money. Mom didn’t mind my using her car — so long as it came back with a full tank of gas and I didn’t keep it too long. That was the rule. So I needed some work, and Harry’s All-Night Hamburgers was the only thing within walking distance. Harry said he had all the help he needed — two cooks and two people working the counter, besides himself. The others worked days, two to a shift, and Harry did the late night stretch all by himself. I hung out there a little, since I didn’t have anywhere else, and it looked like pretty easy work — there was hardly any business, and those guys mostly sat around telling dirty jokes. So I figured it was perfect.

Harry, though, said that he didn’t need any help. (Continue Reading…)

EP411: Loss, With Chalk Diagrams


by E. Lily Yu
Read by Eleiece Kraweic

Links for this episode:

E. Lily Yu

About the Author…

E. Lily Yu is a fiction writer, poet, playwright, and game writer whose work has appeared or forthcoming in places such as Kenyon Review OnlineBoston ReviewClarkesworld, and The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year. She is a recent graduate of Princeton University and an incoming doctoral student at Cornell.

About the Narrator…

Eleiece Krawiec lives in a suburb of New Orleans, Louisiana. She began voice acting in early 2007, discovered how much she liked it, and is still going strong. She’s voiced (and continues to voice) characters for Star Trek: Excelsior, Star Trek: Outpost and a variety of characters for Misfits Audio. – See more at: http://escapepod.org/2013/05/09/ep395-robot/#sthash.5zoFdDFK.dpuf

 

Loss, with Chalk Diagrams
by E. Lily Yu

Never before in her life had Rebekah Moss turned to the rewirers, not as a tight-mouthed girl eavesdropping by closed doors on her parents’ iceberg drift toward divorce, nor after she heard with bowed head, her body as blushingly full as a magnolia bud, the doctor describing the scars that kept her from having Dom’s child. She took few risks and accepted all outcomes with equanimity. But when her old friend Linda was found beneath a park bridge in Quebec with her wrists slit lengthwise to the bone, leaving no note, no whisper of explanation, she hesitated only a moment before linking to the rewiring center. Saturday next was the first available appointment, a silvery voice informed her, and she took it. When she ended the call she wrapped her arms around her legs and tilted back and forth, blinking hard, her own breathing a foil rustle in her ears.

She had been twelve years old when rewiring was first approved for use on a limited clinical population. The treatment involved a brew of sixteen neurotoxins finely tuned to leave normal motor, memory, and cognitive processes intact, burning out only those neural pathways associated with grief and trauma. It was recognized as a radical advancement in medicine, and the neuroscientists involved in its development had been decorated with medals, presidential visits, and a research foundation in their names.

Her family supported her choice, of course. They pressed lemon tea and tissues and bitter chocolate upon her while she stumbled through the week, her whole world gone faint and gray and narrow. The sky seemed always clouded over, though she knew there was sunlight. She could not eat by herself. Dom fed her soup by hand and patted her rather awkwardly as she sobbed, both of them embarrassed by her access of sorrow. It was the only time in their marriage that she had cried…

EP410: Nutshell


by Jeffrey Wikstrom
Read by Alasdair Stuart

Links for this episode:

About the Author…

Jeffrey Wikstrom is a writer, registered patent agent, gamer, PhD chemist, and nerdly hobbyist.  This blog consists of material written on these interests and things relating to them; lately it’s mostly King Arthur.  After growing up in Arkansas and the Gulf Coast, he went to school in Boston and now lives in Wilmington DE, in a house he shares with his wife and their dogs.

About the Narrator…

I’ve worked as a magician, a rally marshal, a secretary, the world’s politest bouncer, and the manager of a comic/game store.   I’m now a freelance journalist, editor and podcaster and write regularly for SFXBleeding Cool, How It Works, Neo and Comic Heroes. I edit  Hub magazine (www.hubfiction.com)a free weekly PDF magazine covering science fiction, fantasy and horror with 10,000 readers that’s relaunching shortly and I host  Pseudopod (www.pseudopod.org), the weekly horror ficton podcast.

 

Nutshell
by Jeffrey Wikstrom

Carpet ocean, stretching over miles; hills and valleys and ravines, all upholstered.  The green indoor-outdoor gives way to blue, as land gives way to sea, but the texture never changes.  When it rains, as it sometimes does, the drops pass through the carpet without making contact, as though they or it aren’t really there.  It’s there enough for me to walk on, at least, though spongy in some places and firm in others, as though it conceals hidden frames or foundations.  Out on the blue carpet-sea, it feels stretched, tight, as though I walk on a drumhead.  Maybe if I cracked it open I would find a vast dark expanse of water, lit by undersea jack-o-lanterns and holes that show the sky without breaking up the carpet-underside ceiling.

None of it is real, of course.  That probably goes without saying.

It’s funny; I wasn’t supposed to experience time at all.  When they loaded us into the ship, we were told that the travel would be instantaneous from our perspectives.  One minute lying down in the big white plastic tombs, the next freshly decanted and opening raw new eyes.  We would transition seamlessly from fluorescents and anesthesia to the light of some distant new sun.  Certainly I have no memory of consciousness during departure.  I wouldn’t have wanted to be aware, during that dreadful acceleration which pulped our bones, and wrecked our flesh.  By then they had already guided us from our old bodies into the safety of simulation and storage.

This curated world never bruises me or shows me sharp edges.  Trees are padded poles, slick vinyl trunks capped by rubbery green spheres fifteen, twenty feet up.  Stairsteps run up the hillsides, though even the steepest rises are shallow enough I don’t really need the footholds.  Fat plush toys, pink and green and blue, gambol across the plains and mimic living beasts grazing carpet-grass, or drinking from carpet-brooks.  They ignore me, even when I shove or punch them. (Continue Reading…)