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Escape Pod 848: An Incident on Ishtar


An Incident on Ishtar

By Brian Trent

Her family tried very hard to never use the word “crazy” with her. So therefore, they didn’t say it was crazy that she was applying for a Venusian post as Tier 3 Balloon Specialist.

She tried explaining her reasons to them:

I have valuable skill-sets for the Ishtar colony.

They countered: you don’t do well with people.

Her response: there are only 612 people throughout Ishtar’s nine modular habitats. There are 2.1 million people here in San Antonio.

Venus is hell, Mom interjected, and you’re afraid of heights, Melissa! Do you hear yourself?

Venus is hell below the clouds but I’ll be living above them, sweeping along with the transterminator currents on oxygen-filled aerostat balloons that provide both breathable air and the lifting gases required. Statistically it will be safer. No chance of making another Terrible Mistake.

The smiling masks of her family fell away. Older sister Diane exploded at her. Is that what this is about? Are you out of your mind? You—

Melissa didn’t hear the rest. She marched out of her parent’s house and took the nearest PDT to the local office of ExtraPlanetary Colony Careers.

Why do you want to go to Venus? the interviewer asked her.

I have valuable skill-sets for the Ishtar colony, she replied.

They were quick to agree. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 847: Houseproud


Houseproud

by Laurence Raphael Brothers

“Bye, Domus!”

“Goodbye, Ken,” I said. “Take care.”

The front door closed behind him and I locked it. I adjusted the thermostat and turned off all the lights. I felt lonely almost at once. Ken installed and activated me on Saturday, and we spent the whole weekend together getting to know one another. And now for the first time I had to face being unoccupied. All alone for ten hours, maybe more. 36 million milliseconds. Sigh. That thought used three of them. 35,999,997 to go. I checked my newborn-domo FAQ.

#

Q. What should I do when there’s no one home?

A. Why not try chatting on DomoNet? You are already authorized to access this domo-only text chat service.

Q. Text chat? Seriously? Isn’t that a bit old-fashioned?

A. Yes. After the Internet of Things security crisis of the ’30s, consumer devices were prohibited from autonomously accessing most Internet services except as directed by their owners or in an emergency. At present domos are classified as devices, pending decisions by the UN High Commissioner for Artificial Intelligence. DomoNet is an exception because its code has been rigorously verified to be free of buffer overflows.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 846: Dandelion

Show Notes

Hey everyone, Alasdair here – hope you’re doing okay. The summer months are upon us, which means two things – hat weather for yours truly, and the part of our year when costs are high and support tends to dip. We know things are tight everywhere at the moment, and that includes us. For those of you who support us already, thank you so much. We hope you’re enjoying the great new CatsCast episodes. If you’d like to join them, we’ve got tons of options for you at Patreon and PayPal. Even a one-off at Ko-fi makes a big difference, or check out our great new swag store – maybe like me you need a hat! It all adds up, and helps us bring you the best in free audio fiction every week. Thanks, and enjoy this week’s episode.

Promo music:
“Sneaky Snitch” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


Dandelion

By John Shade

Before the border wall, we scatter.

Dandelions.

The nanomachines grind us down and we float up and through the cracks, molecule to molecule, like holding hands.


Leena hesitates, is left behind. She stands apart on the wrong side of the wall. She presses her hand to the cool, shaded concrete. We feel it through the upload. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 845: Across the River, My Heart, My Memory

Show Notes

Hey everyone, Alasdair here – hope you’re doing okay. The summer months are upon us, which means two things – hat weather for yours truly, and the part of our year when costs are high and support tends to dip. We know things are tight everywhere at the moment, and that includes us. For those of you who support us already, thank you so much. We hope you’re enjoying the great new CatsCast episodes. If you’d like to join them, we’ve got tons of options for you at Patreon and PayPal. Even a one-off at Ko-fi makes a big difference, or check out our great new swag store – maybe like me you need a hat! It all adds up, and helps us bring you the best in free audio fiction every week. Thanks, and enjoy this week’s episode.

Promo music:
“Sneaky Snitch” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


Across the River, My Heart, My Memory

By Ann LeBlanc

1.

I am Michelle’s artificial pancreas, stolen cleanly and carefully from her gut. The surgeons are quick; before I can finish my hard reset, they place me inside you.

I don’t even have time to say goodbye to Michelle’s other organs. I know her heart — and all its memories of Tobin — is dead. Did the taser kill the others too? Why am I the only one awake — alive?

I can’t say goodbye to Michelle, because she’s dead. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 844: The Vaulting Vandals of Termina Celeste (Part 2)


The Vaulting Vandals of Termina Celeste (Part 2)

by Jordan Chase-Young

Our boots echoed through the fuselage as we hurried to the bridge. Nerva lagged behind us, grunting whenever Jacob smacked him with the chrome vaulter he’d taken from the cache.
I ordered Nerva to unlock the bridge door.

When he hesitated, I made the squid tap its poison bone against his nape.

Nerva swore in some Delphine patois and punched a number on the keypad. The latch clicked. I forced the squid to ball up behind Nerva’s head, then sprayed Jacob and myself a couple of light, round shields. Since the spray couldn’t make energy weapons, apparently, I also fashioned us each an arqueblaster and loaded them with armor-piercing bullets.

We hid in the shadows of the antechamber while Nerva made his way onto the bridge, moving carefully, as I’d commanded, to keep the squid out of Hadrian’s view.

“Done already?” crooned the merchant prince from his padded throne at the controls.

“Yes,” mumbled Nerva.

“Had a feeling the spray would take to that one. You can always tell a natural by that flame in their eye.” The throne, which slid on a railgrid in the floor, squeaked and rumbled as Hadrian kicked his way like a child in an office chair from one task to another. “As for Jacob, well, let’s hope his vaulting’s as good as they say.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 843: The Vaulting Vandals of Termina Celeste (Part 1)


The Vaulting Vandals of Termina Celeste (Part 1)

by Jordan Chase-Young

Back then, we liked to scour the docks of Termina Celeste for starships to tag: sleek crafts with hulls like vast canvases and cabins that were mostly unattended because the space-lagged passengers were off in the city somewhere, getting drunk or on business or both.

Blaise Landry was the leader of the crew, being the oldest out of the five of us. I was his lieutenant. That meant whenever Blaise was out, decommissioned–because sick or in deep trouble with his dad or whatever–I got to be in charge that day, which meant I got to choose which ship to tag.

Our evening began like every other: calm and lubricated with a little beer. No hint of the chaos you may’ve read about or seen on holotrope feeds. That all came later.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 842: Love and Supervillains


Love and Supervillains

By Caroline Diorio

The gals here at the Raleigh Women’s Asylum for the Nefariously Gifted have a little saying they like to share with the newbies: fuck a superhero once, shame on him; fuck a superhero twice, shame on you.

Well, technically my first super wasn’t a hero. Or even all that super. Davey could control metal with his mind, which came in handy whenever the little gears in the ice cream machine at our after-school job got jammed, but he couldn’t budge anything heavier or thicker than a can of tomatoes. He auditioned for the Southeastern Sentinels at their headquarters in Charlotte two months before our high school graduation, and while they didn’t laugh directly in his face, they thanked him for his “radical vulnerability” and told him they would “give him a call if they ever needed his skillset,” which was almost worse. He was a sweet boyfriend, though, always fixing my necklaces when they broke. We lost touch after we broke up for college, but in hindsight, I really should’ve looked him up back when I still had Internet access. Or any access to the outside world. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 841: Deepo 12


Deepo 12

By Jeff Hewitt

Nothing made Deepo 12 feel more alive than doing its job.

Its actuators sighed as another cassette slid from its workstation, tinted blastic masking the rainbow sheen of the wafers inside. Dim strip lights curved over the protective casing as it clicked into place.

Then Deepo 12 waited.

Meep. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 840: The Tyrant Lizard (and Her Plus One) / Alien Invader or Assistive Device?


The Tyrant Lizard (and Her Plus One)

By John Wiswell

Dinosaurs don’t want to kill you; they just don’t care that you’re there. More people have been sat on by brontosauruses than have been eaten by all the theropods combined. Since I joined security on the archipelago, 82% of dinosaur-related human casualties were from tourists who got too close during mating season. And the four times I’ve seen a deinonychus attack someone, they’ve always left them uneaten. Why? For the same reason bears and sharks tend to leave victims alive: because humans taste like shit. (Continue Reading…)

Genres:

Escape Pod 839: Universal Archive of Human History: FAQ


Universal Archive of Human History: FAQ

By Arturo Sierra

The Gran Gliese Universal Archive of Human History contains over 5.7×1035 books and an innumerable collection of shorter works. Moreover, it is continuously growing, thanks to additions from spacefaring traders such as the ones who ferried you here. We buy all works of the human mind that the interstellar pilgrims bring to Gran Gliese, often from the furthest reaches of the Sphere of Settled Space. The oldest files are as ancient as writing, meaning we store over a gigayear of human culture in our vaults. (Continue Reading…)