Archive for EP Original

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Escape Pod 817: A Dragon in Two Parts

Show Notes

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A Dragon in Two Parts

By Kiya Nicoll

“‘Shed your skin and spread your wings to fly’,” I read off the sign. The letters were done in a sort of swooshy font and punctuated by yellow and blue yin-yangy things at either end. “I’m not sure I’m comfortable getting a biorefurbishment from someplace that mixes their metaphors quite that hard.”

“C’mon, they’re a bit woowoo, but from everything I’ve read, they’re hands down the best.” Alice tugged at my hand. “At least go to an info session or something.”

“‘A bit woowoo’ isn’t promising either.”

Nonetheless I let her drag me through the doors and around to the brochures and past several rounds of smiling people who left me with the impression that I was dealing with something more like a cult than a medical practice. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 816: Merely Players


Merely Players

by Erik Grove

Jester stopped his bicycle in front of the thrift store window and looked through the glass at the plastic fat man with a jaunty red hat and an army surplus gas mask. He’d been Santa Claus once, a long time ago before the world ended and everyone died. He could still do a Santa Claus laugh. Like a bowl full of jelly.

“Holly jolly,” he said and engaged the kickstand with his foot. He took a crowbar from his backpack and smashed the glass. He tossed the gas mask aside and went for the white beard on the mannequin underneath. He pulled it on and leaned back. The trick to a perfect Santa Claus laugh is leaning.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 815: Mathematical Revelations


Mathematical Revelations

By Helen De Cruz

I have never had a Mathematical Revelation in my life. I am presently thirty-eight years and three months old; the first strands of gray have made their hesitant debut in my dark brown hair. I have been a Priestess for about half that time, and yet the Supreme Mathematician has never uttered a word to me.

There is no shame in this, unusual as it is. I remind myself that the Supreme One has many ways to let us know Her intentions, direct Revelation being only one among many.

I am on the shore, kneeling on the fine sand; the azure combers with their white crests dance and dart ever closer, so I must make haste to trace my Sand Graphs, before they are swept away by the ocean. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 814: Oddments, Pasha’s Autodiary of 07 MAR 2032


Oddments, Pasha’s Autodiary of 07 MAR 2032

By Christopher Noessel

I woke you up two hours before, so you would have time to get into face. You sat in the rattling shoebox lavatory of an interstate bus with a handheld mirror and terrible lighting, sang false apologies to anyone who knocked, and finished your work with a band of programmable glitter on your lips and in a wide stripe from temple to temple, right across your eyes like some kind of brigand. You decided, “Indigo,” and in a cascade, it changed. You reached into a bag and pulled out a giant blue wig with antlers sticking out. You pulled it on, bobby-pinned it into place, and primped.

Admiring your handiwork in the mirror, you accidentally elbowed the little glass jar of glitter into the sink, and without a strainer, the jar vanished right down. It was a costly mistake. You didn’t get worked up though. You just looked down the dark drain and said, “Do svidaniya, little sun.”

>> Inserted 10 MAR: A few days later, a maintenance technician would recover the lost jar in a bus parking lot, and, curious, open it. The stuff would spill everywhere. The next evening satellite images showed curly loaves of sparkling-indigo javelina turds in the neighboring fields. I expect you will find this hilarious. Perhaps even metaphorical.

>>End Insert (Continue Reading…)

Black Future Month

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Escape Pod 808: Win Again


Win Again

by Lina Munroe

“I want a do-over!” Zira crumpled her opponent’s collar in her fist and twisted it tight around his neck. Glasses shattered against the hardwood floor, spilling drinks at their feet.

Arkady Fabian just laughed. It was a harsh rasp of a sound, mean as sin, that didn’t quite match the sparkle in his left eye. His right eye was bisected by a long scar that ended somewhere beneath his thick brown beard. When he blinked, slow and mocking, the aperture of his right eye spiraled closed over the red glow shining from somewhere deep in his skull.

Zira scowled at the cards. She knew he’d stuck some up his sleeve, but she thought she was good enough to win anyway. She hadn’t accounted for the extras he’d stashed while she was focused on his sleeve. She couldn’t believe she’d fallen for the classic misdirection cheat like some amateur. Now he got to keep that glorious ship of his that she would’ve pushed out to the far end of the galaxy and back just because she could, and she was forced to pick her way through the mess below deck where she’d docked her hoopty starhopper. The old thing had nearly rattled itself to pieces getting her here and then had the nerve to start leaking fuel again when they docked. It was probably still overheated.

He laughed in her face again, the sound scratchy from years of smoking. “Deal’s a deal, Zira. Pay up.”

(Continue Reading…)

Black Future Month

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Escape Pod 806: Bright Lights Flying Beneath the Ocean


Bright Lights Flying Beneath the Ocean

by Anjali Patel

[Draft] (no subject) – 2:23 AM

My dearest Tasha, Moon bug, favorite sister…

How are you? I know it’s been a minute. I’m sure you’ve been busy. Probably doing all sorts of smart, lawyer things I don’t understand — litigating and adjourning. Protecting people. Being good. I believe in you, always have. You are the better sister. Things in Accra are good, by the way. I’m finishing my PhD, finally. I’ve made friends. It would be better, of course, if you were here.

I know you are still alive.

I am haunted by the fact that I am fine and you might not be. You are the last face I see before I fall asleep, the first person I imagine when I lie in a half-dream state where we still share a room, twin beds on opposite sides, separated by a few feet and the sticky, glowing stars we plastered across the ceiling. I think of those girls and I envy them for being able to fight and scratch and pull at each other’s hair and hug and scream as if they would not one day be separated by an ocean.

Wait for me. I am coming.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 796: One Hundred Seconds to Midnight


One Hundred Seconds to Midnight

By Lauren Ring

I wake before the plane lands. It’s static-dark, the kind of hazy late night where the air itself seems full of shadows and my eyes refuse to focus. For a moment I feel as though I am stuck in my dream of great heights, dangling weightless above the earth in a kaiju’s monstrous claw, but the steady thrum of the engine grounds me in reality. I’m still high above ground, but the only kaiju on this flight are the profiles tucked in my folder from this afternoon’s insurance pitch. Next to my travel receipts are dozens of photos of those hulking beasts. Their files are neatly sorted, alphabetized by incident location and color-coded by average damage severity. That folder is as close as I have ever gotten to a kaiju.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 788: Broken (Flashback Friday)


Broken

by Jaxton Kimble

My favorite part about skimming is that I’m not broken when I do it. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have levels, that I’m on or off, because that’s how everything’s supposed to be when you’re in the hypernet. Even if I’m not supposed to be in the hypernet.

I’m only able to skim because Kaipo left my interface node on. That was the day he told me I could call him Kaipo instead of Dr. Singh. His eyes are different than mine, but that’s not because of the Skew, and even if it is I wouldn’t care, because they’re pretty and dark and they twinkle a little bit when he smiles. We’d had sex twice when he told me I could call him Kaipo if we’re alone. Sex is almost as good as skimming, only it doesn’t last as long, and sometimes I’m stinky afterwards, which I’m not a fan of. Sometimes Kaipo smells like pumpkin, which I’m totally a fan of.

“Overshare.”

“Hi, Heady,” I say, rolling onto my side on the bed to look at her. I frown, which I know because the muscles at my jawbone ache a little when I frown. “Did you hear all that?”

Heady raises an eyebrow and purses her lips. Heady’s my big sister. Like, really big. Eight and a half feet big. That’s what the Skew did to her, blew her up bigger than life, but I think it suits her. She’s not as tough as she looks to most people, though. She’s totally as tough as she looks to me right now.

“Sorry,” I say, sitting up. “Sometimes I get confused about outside and inside my head.” That’s what the Skew did to me: broke my head. You can see that when I cut my hair or trim my beard, because the hairs change colors each time. Other people tell me it’s silly, but I like it. I can never decide if I like red or blue or green or purple or yellow more, and this way I get to have them all, and all’s better than some.

Heady sighs.

“Don’t worry, Sy,” she says, because Sy’s my name. “You never have to apologize to me.”

She smiles, and the muscles in my cheeks tense up so I know I’m smiling, too. She’s a good big sister, Heady. Even if she’s not real.
(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 787: Ascend, Exalt, Love, Propagate, Rise!


Ascend, Exalt, Love, Propagate, Rise!

By Sarah Kumari

The Glory smolders through Jehanne’s bloodstream, pulsing its encouragement.

The rivals who have survived along with him–officially ‘Fellow Eminents’ now that selection is over–twitch and moan as their addiction is quenched. Within minutes they are preening, flexing their muscles, stomping, or singing to Mother Elethra.

Jehanne’s training allows him to douse the call, to batter it down with a deliberate shifting of delta waves. He visualizes his metabolism disassembling the compound at industrial speed. This works for the moment.

In the crowd that fills the EverReach company spaceship, Indrine, the rebel woman pretending to be Jehanne’s mother, clutches the hand of the girl playing his sister. They are mixed in with the family and friends of the other Eminents along with villagers and unrelated Fervents that have made the pilgrimage.

The crowd prays collectively, feverish in their good fortune, for the EverReach company will reward the kin of Eminents for two generations.

If Jehanne succeeds in his true mission, his family will be slaughtered. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 786: The Steel Magnolia Metaphor


The Steel Magnolia Metaphor

by Jennifer Lee Rossman

Each petal was carefully shaped from the finest iron-carbon alloy, curved delicately while still hot and meticulously positioned to overlap with its neighbors just so to form a blossom. Astrid gazed lovingly at the way each petal’s razor-sharp edge glinted in the light of the setting sun, at the way her creation cast a shadow indistinguishable from the other ornamental trees in Mama’s garden.

Mama didn’t look too pleased, though.

She had her fake smile on, the one she used when she knew she had to be proud of Astrid but couldn’t quite figure out how. Astrid was used to adults using that smile around her machines. And around her in general.

“It’s very pretty,” Mama said finally, swatting at a mosquito that had flown near her face. “But I’m not sure I understand what it is.”

“It’s a steel magnolia,” Astrid said, devastated. How could Mama not recognize the main character of her favorite movie?

A sadness came over Mama’s face, which was entirely the wrong emotion. There’d been too much sadness around the house already. “Oh, honey.” She made to put her arm around Astrid, like she’d do with the boys, but stopped herself. “Honey, Steel Magnolias isn’t about a magnolia made of steel. It’s about friendship and strong Southern women.”

Astrid frowned. That didn’t sound right.
(Continue Reading…)