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Escape Pod 436: Into the Breach


Into the Breach

by Malon Edwards

I’m off my bunk and into my jodhpurs, knee-high leather boots and flight jacket the moment the long range air attack klaxons seep into my nightly dream about Caracara.

Muscle memory and Secret Service training kick in; I’m on auto-pilot (no pun intended) and a good ways down the hall buttoning up both sides of my leather jacket to the shoulder a full thirty seconds before I’m awake.

And just so you know, the ever so slight tremble in my hands and fingers is not fear. It’s adrenaline. I’m cranked and ready to put my foot all up in it.

A door to the right opens and Pierre-Alexandre falls in on my right flank, his steps brisk like mine. Our boots echo down the long hallway as we make our way from the underground bunker at Soldier Field to the bunker at Meigs Field.

What you think we got? he asks.

My reptile mind—that wonderful, hedonistic thing of mine—notices how lovely his make-me-jump-up-and-dance-like-I-just-caught-the-Holy-Ghost-in-church dark skin looks in the red emergency scramble lighting.

And yeah, I know. I’m going to hell for that.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 424: Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince

Show Notes

Sound effects for this story supplied by the following Freesound.org contributors: driet, lonemonkLittlebootklankbeeldstevelalondeblouhondalexmolbulbastreCorsica_S, and gmarchisio.

Mentioned in the episode: narrators Bill Hollweg & Mat Weller are also appearing together in Brokensea Audio’s adaptation of the Planet of the Apes UK Stage Show and would love if you would give it a listen here: http://brokensea.com/potauk/.


Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince

by Jake Kerr

In the early twenty-first century, author Lesley Hauge wrote an essay entitled “we are what we leave behind” to little fanfare. In the wake of the Meyer Impact in 2023, amidst the coming to terms with the shock and loss, the essay was rediscovered and rose to prominence with a new understanding that all we may know about half the planet is what they left behind.

Literary giant Julian Prince examined what–and more importantly–who we left behind. So it is entirely appropriate to examine his own life the way he examined those of the millions that died on that fateful day in 2023, by what he left behind–the interviews, the articles, his own words, and the words of others.

These are the fragments that make up the whole.  For most of us that is all we have, and Prince knew that more than anyone.

So… Julian Prince…  Julian Samuel Prince.

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Escape Pod 418: The Dala Horse


The Dala Horse

by Michael Swanwick

Something terrible had happened. Linnea did not know what it was. But her father had looked pale and worried, and her mother had told her, very fiercely, “Be brave!” and now she had to leave, and it was all the result of that terrible thing.

The three of them lived in a red wooden house with steep black roofs by the edge of the forest. From the window of her attic room, Linnea could see a small lake silver with ice very far away. The design of the house was unchanged from all the way back in the days of the Coffin People, who buried their kind in beautiful polished boxes with metal fittings like nothing anyone made anymore. Uncle Olaf made a living hunting down their coffin-sites and salvaging the metal from them. He wore a necklace of gold rings he had found, tied together with silver wire.

“Don’t go near any roads,” her father had said. “Especially the old ones.” He’d given her a map. “This will help you find your grandmother’s house.”

“Mor-Mor?”

“No, Far-Mor. My mother. In Godastor.”

Godastor was a small settlement on the other side of the mountain. Linnea had no idea how to get there. But the map would tell her.

Her mother gave her a little knapsack stuffed with food, and a quick hug. She shoved something deep in the pocket of Linnea’s coat and said, “Now go! Before it comes!”

“Good-bye, Mor and Far,” Linnea had said formally, and bowed.

Then she’d left.
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Escape Pod 414: Knowing


Knowing

by Matt Wallace

A grey pallor hung heavy over the landscape. Heaven’s fire had long gone out, leaving the sky a cold hearth. The ashen soot that covered it might once have been the burning ember of eons, but now its livid color irradiated the early dawn. It soaked every molecule of air like a pale leaden necrosis, existing independently of the season, fostering neither cold nor heat.

A caravan of old cars rambled through the grey morning, balding tires rolling over the broken disrepair of State Highway 24. Chrysler Imperials and winged hatchback Newports, Chevy Chevelles and Novas and flatbed El Caminos, Dodge Darts and Coronets, Ford Fairlanes and Falcons, Lincoln Comets and Continentals, Olds Eighty-Eights and Cutlass Supremes; early 1960’s vintages, all. They traveled toward Oneonta, the Northern New York town whose name was taken from the Iroquois word for a place of meeting.

The Earth’s reclamation of its wilderness in post-nuclear North America continued. Lush foliage blurred as the cars headed deep into the rural upstate, creating rich green wraiths in their murky windows that danced and swooped and curved. The lead car, a Dodge Charger that outshined the rest by miles, would reach Gilboa around breakfast time.

There the wind blew warm through the world’s oldest forest. There they’d been called.

There they’d find the Answer.
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Escape Pod 400: Rescue Party

Show Notes

All sound effects used in this episode were found at FreeSound.org on the pages of the following users: hdesboisswiftoidjobroSyphon64doubletriggercognito perceptuFreqManReadeOnlycsengeri

Performed by Graeme Dunlop as Alveron; Steve Eley as Rugon; Nathaniel Lee as Orostron; Mur Lafferty as Hansur; Paul Haring as Klarten; Alasdair Stewart as Alarkane; Dave Thompson as The Paladorian; Ben Philips as T’sinadree; Jeremiah Tolbert as Tork-a-lee


Rescue Party

by Arthur C. Clarke

Who was to blame? For three days Alveron’s thoughts had come back to that question, and still he had found no answer. A creature of a less civilized or a less sensitive race would never have let it torture his mind, and would have satisfied himself with the assurance that no one could be responsible for the working of fate. But Alveron and his kind had been lords of the Universe since the dawn of history, since that far distant age when the Time Barrier  had been folded round the cosmos by the unknown powers that lay beyond the Beginning. To them had been given all knowledge–and with infinite knowledge went infinite responsibility. If there were mistakes and errors in the administration of the galaxy, the fault lay on the heads of Alveron and his people. And this was no mere mistake: it was one of the greatest tragedies in history.

The crew still knew nothing. Even Rugon, his closest friend and the ship’s deputy captain, had been told only part of the truth. But now the doomed worlds lay less than a billion miles ahead. In a few hours, they would be landing on the third planet.

Once again Alveron read the message from Base; then, with a flick of a tentacle that no human eye could have followed, he pressed the “General Attention” button. Throughout the mile-long cylinder that was the Galactic Survey Ship S9000, creatures of many races laid down their work to listen to the words of their captain.

“I know you have all been wondering,” began Alveron, “why we were ordered to abandon our survey and to proceed at such an acceleration to this region of space. Some of you may realize what this acceleration means. Our ship is on its last voyage: the generators have already been running for sixty hours at Ultimate Overload. We will be very lucky if we return to Base under our own power.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 384: The Tamarisk Hunter


The Tamarisk Hunter

by Paolo Bacigalupi

A big tamarisk can suck 73,000 gallons of river water a year. For $2.88 a day, plus water bounty, Lolo rips tamarisk all winter long.

Ten years ago, it was a good living. Back then, tamarisk shouldered up against every riverbank in the Colorado River Basin, along with cottonwoods, Russian olives, and elms. Ten years ago, towns like Grand Junction and Moab thought they could still squeeze life from a river.

Lolo stands on the edge of a canyon, Maggie the camel his only companion. He stares down into the deeps. It’s an hour’s scramble to the bottom. He ties Maggie to a juniper and starts down, boot-skiing a gully. A few blades of green grass sprout neon around him, piercing juniper-tagged snow clods. In the late winter, there is just a beginning surge of water down in the deeps; the ice is off the river edges. Up high, the mountains still wear their ragged snow mantles. Lolo smears through mud and hits a channel of scree, sliding and scattering rocks. His jugs of tamarisk poison gurgle and slosh on his back. His shovel and rockbar snag on occasional junipers as he skids by. It will be a long hike out. But then, that’s what makes this patch so perfect. It’s a long way down, and the riverbanks are largely hidden.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 319: Driving X


Driving X

By Gwendolyn Clare

Carmela wouldn’t have stopped if she had known that the kid was still alive.

She spotted the body lying under a creosote bush, maybe ten yards from the road, and she hit the brakes.  She grabbed the roll cage of the old dune buggy and pulled herself up, standing on the driver’s seat to scan in both directions along the unpaved road.  A dust devil twirled a silent ballet off to the southeast, but hers was the only man-made dust trail in evidence for miles.  She raised her hand to cover the sun and squinted into the bleached, cloudless sky–no vultures yet, which was good, since vultures attract attention.  Minimal risk, she decided.

The dune buggy itself wasn’t that valuable, but the newer-model solar panels powering it would be enough to tempt any sane person, and the carboys of potable water were worth a small fortune out here.

Carmela swung out of the dune buggy and jogged over to check out the body.  It was tall but skinny, with the not-yet-filled-out look of a teenager.  Pale skin, a tint of sunburn, brown hair cropped at chin-length.  The girl was lying face down in the dust, so Carmela rolled the body over and checked her front pockets for anything of interest.  A month ago, she would have felt ashamed, but scavenging was the norm down here; after all, dead people don’t miss what you take from them.
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Escape Pod 310: Flash Extravaganza


Jenna’s Clocks

By T. F. Davenport

Narrated by Jean Hilde-Fulghum

Wetware Woes

By J. J. DeBenedictis

Narrated by Mur Lafferty

End of the World or Not, I Still Have Feelings

By Daniel Morris

Narrated by Barry Haworth

The Best Cover Band in the Universe

By Andrew Fazzari

Narrated by John Anealio

Honorable Mention for the Escape Pod 2010 Flash Contest!

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EP Flash: Wetting the Bed

Show Notes

Rated G. It’s apocalyptic fantasy — for kids!


Wetting the Bed

By Heather Shaw

When the floods came, all us kids climbed into bed and pulled the covers up over our heads while our parents rushed about trying to do something to stop it. As the water level rose we could feel the beds lift off the floor, floating through our houses, bumping down our hallways and out our front doors.

We sat up in bed waved to one another as our beds merged onto the canal that now flowed between our houses. We shrieked and giggled as our beds spun and bumped along with the swirling water. Waves lapped at our boxsprings, but our covers were still warm and dry.