Archive for 13 and Up

Escape Pod 235: On the Human Plan


On the Human Plan

By Jay Lake

I am called Dog the Digger. I am not mighty, neither am I fearsome. Should you require bravos, there are muscle-boys aplenty among the rat-bars of any lowtown on this raddled world. If it is a wizard you want, follow the powder-trails of crushed silicon and wolf’s blood to their dark and winking lairs. Scholars can be found in their libraries, taikonauts in their launch bunkers and ship foundries, priests amid the tallow-gleaming depths of their bone-ribbed cathedrals.

What I do is dig. For bodies, for treasure, for the rust-pocked hulks of history, for the sheer pleasure of moving what cannot be moved and finding what rots beneath. You may hire me for an afternoon or a month or the entire turning of the year. It makes me no mind whatsoever.

As for you, I know what you want. You want a story.

Genres:

Escape Pod 208: An Almanac for the Alien Invaders


An Almanac for the Alien Invaders

By Merrie Haskell

In January, there will be an annular solar eclipse, with the path of annularity moving through the Indian Ocean and into Sumatra and Borneo. Two days later, aliens will invade Earth.

No spaceships will loom large in blue skies, nor hover over our cities. At night, though, when we see blinking dots of light near the horizon, as small and pale as any star, we’ll think they’re planes or satellites of human origin. They won’t be. These are alien ships, come for conquest.

That is all we can see. What we hear is just as faint and difficult to resolve: we hear rumors. Or rather, one persistent rumor: “the aliens want volunteers.”

Naturally, I and my junior faculty friends need to drink quantities of beer to discuss this in detail. I expound that it’s a hoax.

Escape Pod 205: Requiem in D-minor (for prions, whale and burning bush)


Requiem in D-minor (for prions, whale and burning bush)

By Ian McHugh

Kevin switched the audio over to the projector. The lecture hall was filled with outdoor noises. Wind hummed softly over the microphone, cattle lowed nearby, a truck accelerated in the distance.

A roan steer staggered around a concreted yard, its mute distress accompanied by clattering hooves and the fleshy slap of its thigh striking the ground when it fell. A new sound was introduced – incongruous, but familiar to Kevin’s audience.

Whale song.

Gradually, the cow’s shaking stilled, until it could stand securely. Its muscles continued to tremble, but not enough to upset its equilibrium while it listened.

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 181: Resistance

Show Notes

Rated PG.

Audible.com Metatropolis Promotion!
Download the first story from Metatropolis free at: http://audible.com/metapod


Resistance

by Tobias S. Buckell

The man opened the pack all the way to reveal a small arsenal of guns, grenades, explosives, and — oddly — knives. Very large knives. He looked up at Stanuel. “I am the attack. I’ve been asked to shut Pan down.”

“But you’re not a programmer…”

“I can do all things through explosives, who destroy for me.” The man began moving the contents of the pack inside the pockets and straps of the trenchcoat, clipped more to his belt and thigh, as well as to holsters under each arm, and then added pieces to his ankles.

He was now a walking arsenal.

But only half the pack had been emptied. The mysterious mercenary tossed it at Stanuel. “Besides, you’re going to help.”

Escape Pod 177: Usurpers

Show Notes

Rated R. Contains strong language, strong emotions, and moderate violence.

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Usurpers

By Derek Zumsteg

King spots a knock-off cluster, glowing sunny in the rain, too fit, perfectly proportioned. Tear off some burnished bronze, never-burning skin. Shove it under a microscope, see the designer signature, Chinese characters like tattoos on the necks of college girls.

All ten ranked cross-country runners this season took family trips to China after school let out last year. When they’d returned and established dominance, King took the Asics guy up on his offer to join the experimental training program. Found himself running by himself, following daily instructions from an email address. King knows there’s a machine on the other end, some oracle in some data center chewing on his performance data full time. Responds only to email, immediately, all hours.

Escape Pod 176: How The World Became Quiet: A Post-Human Creation Myth

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains war, invasion, exodus, mass extinction, religious revival, and a lot of mud.

Referenced Sites:
Resonance FM
Reality Break Podcast


How The World Became Quiet: A Post-Human Creation Myth

By Rachel Swirsky

Humans laid the foundation for the sixth apocalypse in much the same way they’d triggered the previous ones. Having recovered their ambition after the Apocalypse of Serotonin and rebuilt their populations after the Apocalypse of Grease, they once again embarked on their species’ long term goal to wreak as much havoc as possible on the environment through carelessness and boredom. This time, the trees protested. They devoured buildings, whipped wind into hurricanes between their branches, tangled men into their roots and devoured them as mulch. In retaliation, men chopped down trees, fire-bombed jungles, and released genetically engineered insects to devour tender shoots.

The pitched battle decimated civilians on both sides, but eventually — though infested and rootless — the trees overwhelmed their opposition. Mankind was forced to send its battered representatives to a sacred grove in the middle of the world’s oldest forest and beg for a treaty.

Escape Pod 175: Reparations

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains mass destruction and graphic descriptions of the wounded.

Audible.com Promotion!
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Reparations

By Merrie Haskell

I just swab my arm and administer the cocktail, a booster for my radiation immunization. The taste of brass fills my mouth in seconds, and I know that the cocktail has flooded my system. With this stuff burbling inside, I can stare down three sieverts without blinking, or, more importantly, losing my immune system, teeth, hair, and intestines.

When I finish with my dose, I grab the skin on the newbie’s arm, swab her and shoot her up, too. “Ow!” She jumps and rubs her arm. I watch carefully to see her smack her lips at the taste. “You could’ve warned me.”

“No time,” I say, doctoring Ken and the others just as abruptly. We’re pressed, and they know it.

We’re all nice and anodized on the inside at 8:12. We’re waiting for 8:16, or thereabouts. There aren’t any atomic clocks in 1945, so all times are approximate, internally speaking. And from here on in, there’s no point speaking any other way.

Escape Pod 146: Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk

Show Notes

Rated PG. Contains strong images of death and violence. Almost certainly not appropriate for small children.


Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk

by Ken Scholes

“Do you know what’s happened to the children?”

Edward swallowed. Suddenly, he wanted to cry. “Yes. They’re… sleeping?”

He hoped and hoped and hoped and hoped, grimacing as he did. He looked around.

Makeshift beds lined the room. Small hands gripped blankets, small eyes stared at the ceiling.

“No.” The boy frowned. “They’ve died.”

“Because of Something Very Bad?”

“Yes. And I need you to be a Very Brave Bear. Can you do that?”

Genres:

Escape Pod 143: Flaming Marshmallow and Other Deaths

Show Notes

Referenced Sites:
Metamor City Podcast


Flaming Marshmallow and Other Deaths

By Camille Alexa

I look at the calendar hanging on the wall above my bed. I reach up, lift it off its nail with one hand and snuggle back under the covers, taking the calendar with me and running a finger over all the red Xs marked over all the days leading up to this one. It’s a little cold out, and the last thing in the universe I want to do is catch an effing cold the week of my birthday, so I snuggle down into the warmth of my flannel sheets even more. I know there’s going to be parties this weekend, and I’m going to want to go.

This is what I’ve been waiting for all these months. All these years, I guess, though before my friends started getting theirs, it didn’t seem like such a big deal. We were all No-Knows then.

Tomorrow, I’m finally going to feel like I belong.

Tomorrow, I’m going to find out how I die.