Archive for OK for Kids

Escape Pod 204: The Fifth Zhi


The Fifth Zhi

By Mercurio D. Rivera

Zhi 4’s scream pierces the Siberian night.

My spiked metal boots crunch through the snow as I race towards him, with Zhi 6 running at my side. The nanochip in my brainstem clicks on, and I reach out with my mind, but I can’t sense even a trace of Zhi 4. A few seconds earlier his form had been outlined by the dark turquoise glow of the force field.

We stop twenty feet short of the field’s perimeter. Beyond it, the hazy silhouette of the colossal Stalk looms, its millions of cilia undulating.

My bodysuit hums as it transmits data back to Xiang Xu Base, situated behind the Rusanov ice cap half a mile away.

My pulse flutters in anticipation and I take a deep breath to try to rein in my excitement. I — like all Zhis — have been designed with an insatiable curiosity about the Stalk’s origins and vulnerabilities. Knowing I’ve been bred to feel this way doesn’t make me feel it any less. Where did the Stalk come from? Why is it here? How can it thrive in these temperatures? I see the same questions reflected in Zhi 6’s expression.

Escape Pod Flash: Tired

Show Notes

Rated PG for a worryingly low miles per gallon


Tired

By Michael Bishop

One morning, Gordon Pointer received an e-message from the left-front Goodstone tire on his old Callisto sedan. (He had bought the car used over a decade ago and retrofitted it for the intelligent interstates of the Piedmont metrosprawl.) Gordon abhorred palmflips, infraspecs, logomaniacs, microserfs, lapcops, and digital Kleenex, but he lived at the computerminal in his Callisto, journeying between office foci to talk with other human fossils like himself. He did not quail before occasional sitreps from his lead tire.

Escape Pod Flash: One Trick Dog


By Bruce Boston
Read by J.C. Hutchins

Mr. Wayne was taking his daily exercise, walking Arthur around the lake in Nevley Park, when the sky darkened and a light snow began to fall. A few flakes fluttered against his cheeks. He could feel the cold through his heavy topcoat. He enjoyed the park when it was deserted, but at his age he couldn’t afford a chill. He thumbed the control in his pocket. Arthur turned left onto a bridge that would cut their return journey by a good half mile. Mr. Wayne followed.

Rated K9 for dogs at the cutting edge.

Escape Pod Flash: Patent Infringement


Patent Infringement

By Nancy Kress

Read by Steve Anderson

Kegelman-Ballston Corporation is proud to announce the first public release of its new drug, Halitex, which cures Ulbarton’s Flu completely after one ten-pill course of treatment. Ulbarton’s Flu, as the public knows all too well, now afflicts upwards of thirty million Americans, with the number growing daily as the highly contagious flu spreads. Halitex “flu-proofs” the body by inserting genes tailored to confer immunity to this persistent and debilitating scourge, whose symptoms include coughing, muscle aches, and fatigue. Because the virus remains in the body even after symptoms disappear, Ulbarton’s Flu can recur in a given patient at any time. Halitex renders each recurrence ineffectual.

Rated PG after intensive clinical testing.

Escape Pod Flash: Taco


Taco

By Greg Van Eekhout

“Hey, tell me, this look like Jesus to you?”

I come to Tito’s Tacos for a lot of reasons. The freeway overpass ambience, the way the old men in the kitchen wrap the burritos tighter than Cuban cigars, the shiny Kennedy 50-cent pieces you always get as part of your change. A lot of reasons. But conversation isn’t among them. Nonetheless, I dutifully look up from my lunch to see what the guy at the next table over is talking about.

Escape Pod Flash: Betting the Family Farm


Betting the Family Farm

By Wenonah Lyon

It had originally thought the goal was to hit the two small creatures in the distance. They appeared to be identical to the three creatures whom he had joined in the game.

First approximation: separated by some distance, one attempts to down the group ahead of one using one of many metal-tipped sticks (called ‘clubs’) to ‘drive’ a small, hard ball. Those behind would, presumably, be attempting to hit one. So, one dodged and drove.

Escape Pod Flash: Off Base


Off Base

By Stevens R. Miller

Read by Steve Anderson

Her boyfriend put a slim hand to his forehead, as though shielding his eyes
from sunlight, even though the sun had set some minutes before. Where the
girl had pointed was a bright star, moving east.

Rated PG for frequent golf horror

Escape Pod 199: Elvis in the Attic


Elvis in the Attic

By Catherine M. Morrison

We had an Elvis in the attic.  Again.

Echoing in the ducts, his voice woke me around 2 A.M.  I hopped from bed and headed for the attic–they always it up there.  A Vegas Elvis stood by a rack of old clothes singing “Blue Christmas” to them.

As I edged in the door, he segued to “Jingle Bell Rock.”  He waved me down to the front of his meager audience, conferring a special favor.  I settled cross-legged on the floor and enjoyed his tunes.

For months there has been an Elvis infestation all over town, but this was the first Vegas Elvis we’d got.  He worked the room hard, sweat dripping down the side of his forehead.  He was dressed in his trademark white jumpsuit with the spangles and beads and the big white cape he flourished dramatically.  The acoustics up here sucked, but even a big fat Elvis could rock the house.

Escape Pod 197: From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled…


From Babel’s Fall’n Glory We Fled…

By Michael Swanwick

Imagine a cross between Byzantium and a termite mound. Imagine a jeweled mountain, slender as an icicle, rising out of the steam jungles and disappearing into the dazzling pearl-grey skies of Gehenna. Imagine that Gaudí—he of the Segrada Familia and other biomorphic architectural whimsies—had been commissioned by a nightmare race of giant black millipedes to recreate Barcelona at the height of its glory, along with touches of the Forbidden City in the eighteenth century and Tokyo in the twenty-second, all within a single miles-high structure. Hold every bit of that in your mind at once, multiply by a thousand, and you’ve got only the faintest ghost of a notion of the splendor that was Babel.

Now imagine being inside Babel when it fell.

Genres:

Escape Pod 196: Evil Robot Monkey

Show Notes

Special closing monkey music by George Hrab


Evil Robot Monkey

By Mary Robinette Kowal

Sliding his hands over the clay, Sly relished the moisture oozing around his fingers. The clay matted down the hair on the back of his hands making them look almost human. He turned the potter’s wheel with his prehensile feet as he shaped the vase. Pinching the clay between his fingers he lifted the wall of the vase, spinning it higher.

Someone banged on the window of his pen. Sly jumped and then screamed as the vase collapsed under its own weight. He spun and hurled it at the picture window like feces. The clay spattered against the Plexiglas, sliding down the window.