Posts Tagged ‘love’

EP363: Flowing Shapes

By Rajan Khanna
Read by Josh Roseman
Discuss on our forums.
Originally appeared in Basement Stories Issue 1 (2010)
All stories by Rajan Khanna
All stories read by Josh Roseman
Rated 17 and up for sexual situations

Flowing Shapes
Rajan Khanna

Part One: Contemplation

The human came to She Shalu on the Day of Flowering Awareness. Damo met him near the Still Garden, the fumes of the exiting shuttle mixing with the sharp spice of the tall, white twizak plant. Damo wore a humanoid shape so as to minimize the stranger’s discomfort.

Damo studied the human with the practiced eyes of a Synan. Dark hair covered his head and parts of his body, and he was sleight of build, despite the solidity of his form. About 1.7 meters tall. His features were mostly smooth, bones prominent, eyes with the barest hint of a slant. A mouth surrounded by full lips.

“How may I help you?” Damo said, trying to sound gracious.

“I came to study Wan She,” the human said.

Damo felt his features flow with his astonishment. Perhaps he had not heard correctly, or his translation module was malfunctioning. “I am sorry,” he said. “Wan She is the Path of Flowing Shapes. It is a Synan practice. Humans, being incapable of shifting, cannot practice it.”

The human smiled, revealing straight, white teeth. “I know. I’m writing a book,” he said. “But isn’t it true that the first stage is concerned solely with contemplation? Surely that is not beyond a human.”

Damo stifled his urge to shift in response to his unease. Uncontrolled shifting was against the teachings of Wan She. “That is true,” he said. “But Wan She is a path. Not a series of distinct teachings. To step on that path is to begin a journey.”

“All I ask is that you let me speak to your Tanshe. Let him decide.”

Damo was all too willing to accommodate the human in this. Let the Tanshe decide. It certainly saved Damo the trouble of having to assimilate this odd request.

“Please follow me,” he said.

He led the human through the Still Garden, inhaling the heady scent of it, delighting in its exoticness. Most of the students overlooked the Still Garden, and in doing so missed out on one of the true beauties of She Shalu.

They moved through the pearlescent designs of the sanctuary’s hallways to the Tanshe’s bubbled door. “Wait here,” Damo said, then entered.

The Tanshe was in an original form, multilimbed, eyeless, lacking both ears and nose. Turning inward. Her bright amber skin was splattered with black inky spots. She looked up as Damo entered, eyes appearing from inside her face. Damo let his features droop in the customary manner. “Tanshe, there is a human to see you.”

The Tanshe’s features flowed and shifted until they were almost exactly a human’s. “Send it in,” she said. “And wait outside.”

Damo’s skin settled. He was not to be involved in this discussion. It was good. The Tanshe would deal with it and send the human away. Damo did as the Tanshe asked.

He waited outside, letting his features relax into the default Synan shape. He’d worn the humanoid one as a courtesy, and because it was polite and expected, but he disliked it. It was distasteful. Too firm. Too set.

He waited for some time, then the door bubble opened. He quickly shifted back into his humanoid form and turned to face the human, now exiting. “She told me to send you in,” the human said.

Damo looked at the human’s firm, immobile face. So alien. So disgusting. (Continue Reading…)

EP322: Chicken Noodle Gravity

By J. Daniel Sawyer
Read by Paul Haring
Discuss on our forums.
An Escape Pod original!
All stories by J. Daniel Sawyer
All stories read by Paul Haring

Rated 17 and up for language, and mild sexual situations

Chicken Noodle Gravity
by J. Daniel Sawyer

I hate to start out this way, but before we get to the reason I’m standing on this stool with a fez on my head, in the middle of the night, in front of a double-cal-king bed in a furniture store—which, yes, Officer, I swear I’ll confess I broke into illegally—before we get to any of that, there’s something I have to tell you. I know it’s awful, evil, and just plain wrong, but there’s no way around it, and you won’t understand anything else unless I say this right up front, so here goes:

Stephen was stoned.

And when I say “stoned” I mean he’d eaten enough brownies and smoked enough pot to put the economies of five or six minor countries into a severe, long-term deficit crisis.

It was okay. It helped him cope with the chemo. Mellowed him out. We didn’t have to fight over who got to hold the remote. He was better in bed too—not as neurotic.

Didn’t complain about my mustache when I kissed him. Suits me right for shacking up with a clean freak.

The weed was my revenge—well, the fact that the weed made it possible for him to eat. We had to grow our own—only way we could afford it, though I swear we probably spent as much on the electricity as we would have on the bud. Not a great climate for it, not in the winter.

So, the revenge part—that would be his appetite. When he smoked, it came back. It was the only time it came back. And there were only two things he could handle:


And chicken noodle soup. The really rancid stuff that came in a red and white can. (Continue Reading…)

EP290: Tom the Universe

By Larry Hodges
Read by: Mat Weller
An Escape Pod original!
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Larry Hodges
All stories read by Mat Weller
Rated PG-13: sexual situations

Tom the Universe
by Larry Hodges

I permeate this universe, which I’ve named Tom, and guard against its destruction. If someone had done that for the universe I came from, then Mary, my sweet Mary, would still be alive, and I wouldn’t have killed her and everyone else when I accidentally destroyed that universe.

And now I’m on the verge of destroying much more.

Read More…

(Continue Reading…)

EP272: Christmas Wedding

By: Vylar Kaftan
Read by: Mur Lafferty
First appeared in Warrior Wisewoman.
Discuss on our forums.
All stories by Vylar Kaftan
All stories read by Mur Lafferty
Rated PG: For love at the end of the world.

Show Notes:

Today was a perfect day, with three flaws.  It was snowing here in Miami, one of her brides had trouble recognizing her, and her cummerbund wouldn’t stay up.  The cummerbund was the only problem Mel could fix.  She brushed ashes off the church office’s desk and rummaged around for safety pins. She found typed notes for an old sermon, some yellow pushpins, and three tampons.  Mel took the tampons and left the rest.  Not a single safety pin, which surprised her–for a place that looters hadn’t been through, there was little here.  Underneath the desk, Mel found a paperclip.  After a moment’s thought, she opened her pocketknife and cut two holes in the cummerbund’s back.  She unbent the paperclip, wired the cummerbund together, and attached it to the belt loop on her black jeans.

Her bridesmaid poked his head in.  “How’re you doing in here?”

Paul had a fake poinsettia flower wedged behind his ear.  Mel laughed, a tense noise that hurt her throat.  “Paul, where did you get that flower?”

He grinned and walked into the office.  Paul had been a small-town Georgia fireman, in sunnier days.  He wore a plain gray shirt that exposed his well-muscled arms and new blue jeans that fit well.  Mel wondered where he’d found them.  Paul said, “I look like a hippie, don’t I?  Well, a hippie on steroids.  You look sort of James Dean meets Roy Orbison.  I like the bow tie.”

“I told you–you didn’t have to get girly.  You can be my best man.”

EP268: Advection

By: Genevieve Valentine
Read by: Mur Lafferty
First appeared in Clarkesworld
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All stories by Genevieve Valentine
All stories read by Mur Lafferty
Rated PG: For mild violence

Show Notes:

  • Feedback for Episode 260: The Speed of Dreams
  • Next week… The difficulty of watching a parent die.

By Genevieve Valentine

The first day of fifth year a boy came in with the new eyeshields, a glossy expanse of black with no iris or pupil, and looking at him was like looking into an eclipse.

All the other girls said it made them uncomfortable; they teased him to take them out, to put on some normal sunglasses like everyone else. They said they’d never forgive him for hiding eyes in such a handsome face.

“Fortuni, it’s a little much,” said someone.

That was how I learned his name.

We were all Level Two intelligence, but before the first week was over the news was out that some had managed to find the money for a sixth year. Janik Duranti, who spent the history lectures drawing stick figures screwing on his computer screen, was getting a sixth year. I’d be cleaning his office someday. Answering his phones. Updating the registration on his blue ID cuff.

Carol Clarke opened the top button on her shirt as soon as the shades went down; obvious, but it was worth it to be married to a guy who had a sixth year.

The first time Fortuni opened his mouth was two weeks after start-of-year in geohistory, when Mr. Xi was talking about the five oceans.

“After the emergency desalinization,” Mr. Xi said, “we held the first HydroSummit to determine the best use of resources.”

“I think it’s awful about the dolphins that died,” said Kay, whose water ration was unlimited because her father was a diplomat, and that was how I first noticed her.

Mr. Xi opened the rain cycle diagram on our screens; the blue advection loop from a hundred years ago had been overlaid by a three-point process from the Atmo water collectors to the thirsty ground, and the green web of the surface sweat system that preserved the little underground things that managed to survive.

My grandfather sent my mom a postcard from Niagara Cliffs when there was still a river at the bottom (RAIN! All my love, Dad), and as Mr. Xi talked about desalinization I traced the advection circle, thought about the sky filling with wet clouds, about water sliding over everything.

I looked up, and Fortuni was watching me, his lashes casting shadows over his flat black eyes.

“I’m going to engineer some rain,” he told me, and after a moment I laughed.

That was how I met him.

Read more…

(Continue Reading…)

EP243: I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno

By Vylar Kaftan
Read by Mur Lafferty
Discuss on our forums.
Simultaneously appearing in Lightspeed Magazine, Issue 1, June 1, 2010.
All stories by Vylar Kaftan
All stories read by Mur Lafferty

I knew you loved me, of course. It was written in your eyes when you looked at me, a physics problem with no clear answer. If an irresistible force meets an immovable object, what happens then?

They meet. That’s all we know. Relative to each other, they are in contact. From within the object or the force, there is no way to tell if you’re in motion.

Rated PG-13: for sexual description.

Show Notes:

  • Thanks to John Joseph Adams and Lightspeed Magazine for the opportunity to run this fantastic story at the same time as their launch. Go check out their magazine and subscribe!
  • Enter the Escape Pod Flash Contest! It runs June 1- July 4, stories must be under 500 words. More information at the link.

Next week… we begin our annual Hugo short stories rundown, with five weeks of award-nominated stories! I’m taking a 4-week break from hosting, but I’ll see you in July!

EP242: The Love Quest of Smidgen the Snack Cake

By Robert T. Jeschonek
Read by John Cmar.
Discuss on our forums.
First appeared in Space and Time Magazine, issue 108.
All stories by Robert T. Jeschonek
All stories read by John Cmar

For her entire adolescent and adult life up until three weeks ago, Lynda had been the queen of junk food. Aside from the briefest blips of non-junk spending due to occasional failed diets, she had purchased only the most fattening, high-cholesterol, chemical-soaked foods available from grocery stores, restaurants, vending machines, and mail order websites.

In short, she was the perfect woman. Though she was on a diet that day, she had eaten non-nutritious foods in great quantities all her life. Though her last purchases had been salad greens and bottled water, her 250-pound body told the true story.

I knew she was just waiting for someone like me to come along.

Rated PG: for innuendo-heavy snack cake desire.

Show Notes:

  • Mur will be at Balticon this week, along with Drabblecast’s Norm Sherman! Come by and say hi!


  • 5pm Reading


  • 3pm NaNoWriMo for Noobs
  • 8pm Autograph Session


  • 4pm Girls’ Rule Live!
  • 5pm Story Improv
  • 8pm ISBW Live!
  • Enter the Escape Pod Flash Contest! It runs June 1- July 4, stories must be under 500 words. More information at the link.

Next week… the podcast comes on a special day: June 1. And it shows us that love is relative. And so is Reno.