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Escape Pod 865: Spider (Part 2 of 2)

Show Notes

Don’t miss Spider, Part One


Spider (Part 2)

by Patrice Sarath

Nguyen

“Attention. Attention. Stay in your quarters. Attention. Attention. Stay in your quarters.”

The bloody pink light of the station alarm washed over Shane and Ray as they pushed at top speed toward the residential arm. Despite the warning, most of the station population was watching from their doorways, in various stages of ragged middle of the night un-dress, hair floating around fluid-bloated faces.

They encountered the first drifting blood drops as they rounded the corner of the miners’ section. Adrift in the corridor was the body of one of the brothers, barely conscious. Shane reached him first, wrestling the body around so she could run a diagnostic. His face was battered, as if the other brother had tied him to a rail and then kept ramming an oxygen canister at his nose. She fished for his I.D. Rose.

“Where’s Carter, Rose?” She said. His eyes fluttered, but he made no response.

“Where’s medic?” Ray yelled into his mic. “What is taking you guys so long?”

“On our way,” came a voice over the radio.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 864: Spider (Part 1 of 2)


Spider

by Patrice Sarath

Bifrost Mining Station, June 2063
The plan

I knew the two miners were trouble as soon as they pulled themselves into the bar. They looked around and one, I think it was Carter but you try telling the brothers apart, nudged Rose and nodded his chin at me. They came over and slid next to me, one on either side. We floated there, me pulling at my bulb of cheap station whiskey, trying not to show my unease.

“Hawkes,” said Carter. “Good to see you.” He was close enough now to see the scar under his eye, a reminder of when Rose had tried to gouge his eye out. Family.

“Hmmm,” I said.

Carter was unfazed and leaned closer. “We have a proposition.”

My heart sank lower.

Carter said, “It’s your share of five hundred million dollars and a way off Bifrost.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 863: A Shoreline of Oil and Infinity


A Shoreline of Oil and Infinity

by Renan Bernardo

Conchinha
Charging… 87%
Energy source: light
Message:
Good morning, Vitória. The water is cold today. Brrr.

 

Vitória switches off the feed from her lenses and pats the tatuí’s shell, kneeling before it.

“Hey, Conchinha.” She brushes off the excess of crusted oil from the bot, scanning her fingerprint to open its main compartment. A wave breaks on the shore, sprinkling on her face and the bot. “Let’s see what you have here.”

The tatuí whirs—almost purrs. She plucks out the cylindrical cell from its rounded back. More darkened water. She doesn’t read the full report, but she can guess what it contains pretty well. Heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, hydrocarbons… All there is to know in Barra Nova’s waters these days. Layers of oil expand across both sides of the straight shoreline, coating the once gilded sand, patches of darkness suffusing the air with the stink of hydrogen sulfide that in the past made the kids call that beach The Coast of Broken Eggs. André’s kids—Vitória always thinks of them as her stepbrother’s children, though not one of them was his by birth.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 862: The Pill (Part 2 of 2)


The Pill (Part 2 of 2)

By Meg Elison

(Continued from Part 1)

The Pill sold like nothing had ever sold before. The original, the generic, the knockoffs, the different versions approved in Europe and Asia that met their standards and got rammed through their testing. There was at last a cure for the obesity epidemic. Fat people really were an endangered species. And everybody was so, so glad.

One in ten kept dying. The average never improved, not in any corner of the globe. There were memorials for the famous and semi-famous folks who took the gamble and lost. A congressman here and a comedian there. But everyone was so proud of them that they had died trying to better themselves that all the obituaries and eulogies had this weird, wistful tone to them. As if it was the next best thing to being thin. At least they didn’t have to live that fat life any more.

And every time it was on the news, we sat in silence and didn’t talk about Dad. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 861: The Pill (Part 1 of 2)


The Pill (Part 1 of 2)

By Meg Elison

My mother took the Pill before anybody even knew about it. She was always signing up for those studies at the university, saying she was doing it because she was bored. I think she did it because they would ask her questions about herself and listen carefully when she answered. Nobody else did that.

She had done it for lots of trials; sleep studies and allergy meds. She tried signing up when they tested the first 3D printed IUDs, but they told her she was too old. I remember her raging about that for days, and later when everybody in that study got fibroids she was really smug about it. She never suggested I do it instead; she knew I wasn’t fucking anybody. How embarrassing that my own mother didn’t even believe I was cute enough to get a date at sixteen. I tried not to care. And I’m glad now I didn’t get fibroids. I never wanted to be a lab rat, anyway. Especially when the most popular studies (and the ones Mom really went all-out for) were the diet ones. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 860: Solo Cooking for the Recently Revived


Solo Cooking for the Recently Revived

by Aimee Picchi

I hide my right hand behind my back when Jamie steps into the rehab center’s kitchen. Like all the rest of the reintegration counselors, he’s a Survivor. And Survivors always stare at our scars.

“Let’s start with our motto,” Jamie says.

The class intones: “Food is life.

My friend Myra hitches her thumbs on her belt, cinched to the smallest hole, and rolls her eyes.

“And?” Jamie prods.

To cook is human,” we finish.

Every time I say it I imagine the motto will fix me, erase my scars and everything else that happened in the last year. Get me one step closer to Carter. I once confided my belief to Myra and she laughed. That motto’s not for our benefit, sweetie, she had said. It’s so they can believe we’re still just like them.

Jamie gestures for me to join him at the front of the classroom, the home-ec lab inside a former middle school. About twenty of us are lined up at ovens and sinks and Formica countertops where students scratched blocky initials inside of hearts. I don’t want to think about what probably happened to the kids.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 859: Pen Pal (Part 2 of 2)


(Continued from Part 1)

Pen Pal

By Grant Canterbury

 

August 8, 2005

Meliari Thulissia

General Delivery

Tharsis Station

 

Dear Thu,

 

Well I officially graduated from high school! And I have been itching to get out into the world for a long time but right now honestly I am not liking the look of it. We had been planning to go to Disneyworld after graduation but we did Disneyland again instead. That was fine actually. Mom and Dad decided Florida was not such a great idea because gulguthroi. And I had to agree with them. It has gotten really bad. They have chameleon skin and they hide in shallow water which is everywhere down there, and they are basically eating up all of the wildlife in the Everglades. And also people. And especially folks who used to own skipperjacks, it seems. Apparently the deep soulful looks that made them popular at pet stores were more like, um, imprinting on future prey. And their big raspy tentacles also work okay at opening doors in the middle of the night. There are like thousands of people who have disappeared. Oh yeah, they made it illegal to own skipperjacks, of course. And so a bunch of pet stores, crooked or dumb, went and dumped theirs in the nearest creek. Christ. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 858: Pen Pal (Part 1 of 2)


Pen Pal

By Grant Canterbury

December Third, 1996

 

Meliari Thulissia

General Delivery

Tharsis Station

 

Dear Meliari,

Hello!!  My name is Mary and I am nine years old.  I got your name for a pen pal and they said you were the first pen pal on Mars.  This is the first time I have written a letter to Mars to.   So I will tell you about me and how things are here in Oregon.  And if you can tell me about yourself and what Mars is like that would be great!  I am interested in mars but I have never been there yet.  There is a book in the library that has pictures, I like the one with the little boats and orange trees on the grand canal.  I mean the trees are orange not that they have oragnes.  Here our trees are green except in fall.  Right now they have lost their leaves. (Continue Reading…)

Escape Pod 857: Salvaged


Salvaged

by Adriana Kantcheva

I have her body. If I’d also had her life, would I have lived it in the same way?

I make the mistake of voicing my thoughts to Seven, who promptly activates what I call his melancholy setting. I can tell from how the blue signal lights in his communication subunit start blinking in a slow, hypnotic rhythm.

“Why are you thinking about her again?” he says. “You’ll never encounter her circumstances.”

I walk over to my porthole. The Salvagers’ wing of the space station blocks part of the view, but I see enough of Earth—all brown and beige and rust. “I also won’t encounter any answers if I can’t get around the firewall in your memory.” I wave at the wires I have so carefully rearranged in his data storage subunit, which is splayed open on my cabin table. But I’ve stepped back from my work, my ribcage tight with unease.

Humanity killed Earth. The Salvagers revealed to me that bit of history, at least. How and why, my alien benefactors won’t tell. I’m allowed to delve into Terran science and technology, but they’ve put a digital gag on Seven about history, culture, politics, or society. For my protection, they say. For the sake of a clean slate.
(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 856: The Princess, NP


The Princess, NP

By Brian Hugenbruch

I sat in the Commander’s office at Hexa Station, in clothes that stank of subspace, and the only polite thing I could do to drown out the universe was compute obscene sums in my head. It didn’t stop the sounds from piercing my ears, though. Metal chairs scraping against plastic floors. A pulse generator’s low thrumming some twenty floors below. The whisper of air recycling through the prefab station. The universe was omnipresent. I could feel it all, and it never ever stopped.

Lullabies were my preferred method of soothing soul and stilling mind. I learned thousands of them in the earliest days of my Conditioning. Alas, people ask the wrong kinds of questions if one starts singing mid-conversation. Math was a precisely imperfect fallback. (Continue Reading…)