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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 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…)

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Escape Pod 838: Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 4 of 4)


Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Conclusion)

By R.S.A. Garcia

Agápe

Now

 

The Parliament was a larger replica of the last building that had housed the original Kairi Parliament; before the wars and the erosion of the islands beneath rising oceans forced her people from their home. Then, as now, it was nicknamed the Red House, and the physical one on New Kairi was vast enough to hold half of the continent’s citizens at any one time in the public galleries.

This Red House was for those occasions when all citizens were required to attend a vote. Wherever Siblings were, whatever they were doing, they would find a safe space to go into upload mode and citizens would find themselves under the maroon colonnades and high ceilings of the old colonial architecture, now also outfitted with expanses of arched windows that gave gorgeous views of the large parks and silently patrolling Guardians that surrounded the Parliament.

Cousins she hadn’t seen in years hugged her as she entered the Gomez family box. Uncles and Tanties nodded hello or gave her a smile, depending on the state of their relations. Sibling-Beryl air-kissed her cheek and remarked in the Gomez family chat room how her husband must be treating her good because she was looking “healthy.” Eva rolled her eyes at the veiled insult and moved on to hugging her daughter. For a moment, she wished for Dee’s easy, charming presence, but only Primarchs whose parents were both Kairi could vote in War Parliaments. Not that cheerful moments with her family could do much to dispel the somber, dark mood that hung over the Red House today.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 837: Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 3 of 4)


Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 3 of 4)

By R.S.A. Garcia

Storge

Now

She woke when he rose from the pallet, his naked body barely visible in the faint light from the approaching dawn. The tension in his body made hers go still.

What is it?” she signed.

He held up a warning hand for her to stay where she was before he crept out the open doorway. She sat up, dragging on her shirt and following him into the main living space. He crouched next to the locked front door, unlocking it with one hand while keeping his back against the wall. His eyes widened when he saw her, and he shook his head.

An insistent vibration in her arm distracted her. She glanced down just as he got the door open and crept outside, closing it behind him.

Green lights chased each other in a circle under the skin of her wrist.

Fuck. He was trying to protect her.

She ran for the door and dragged it open.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 836: Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 2 of 4)


Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 2 of 4)

By R.S.A. Garcia

Eros

Now

For several days, she lay on Dee’s pallet while he slept somewhere in the room outside. Every few hours she would check the Kinnec, but it remained resolutely purple.

Dee brought her food, water to wash, and fresh clothes. He apologized for not having an entertainment node and shared his hololibrary instead. He spent a lot of time outside, or moving around in the kitchen, doing chores. He was an excellent cook who scaled and gutted fish out in the yard with glittering flashes of his nimble knife. He was fond of ground provisions, which she usually shunned at home but enjoyed here because he often roasted them over an open flame.

During the day, he left the front door open to let fresh air in and allow her a view. She watched as he worked in the garden, lean muscles rippling under brown, sweat-sheened skin.

Whenever he broke for a drink of water, he’d pour the last of it over his head. She would follow the trail of the water down his bare chest until it disappeared under his loose work pants. On the third day, after he wiped a hand over his face, he caught her looking. She didn’t drop her eyes to the holobook she was reading, wondering idly what he would do.

He dropped the dipper back into the barrel near the stairs, gave her a quick wink and went back to work.

She had to give up reading, having lost her place in the book and any interest in the tale.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 835: Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 1 of 4)


Philia, Eros, Storge, Agápe, Pragma (Part 1 of 4)

By R.S.A. Garcia

Brother-Adita paused at the top of the ridge and rotated one eye to take in the shells climbing the path behind them. They gestured beyond them with a limb, a habit picked up from their young, excitable sibling.

“Quarter-march, west-north-west,” came their voice through the Kinnec.

“Acknowledged,” the other two shells replied.

Metal clacked against stone as the scouting party made their way over the rocky terrain until a half-crumbled hillside came into view above them. Freshly fallen boulders lay cracked and scattered on the flats below a large irregular hole. The hole was dark, the opening blackened and fused from heat.

A recon drone unwrapped itself from the diplomat’s shell.

“Unnecessary,” Brother-Adita said. “Shell destroyed. Only core remains.”

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 833: The Heroine Kokofe


The Heroine Kokofe

By Ife J. Ibitayo

Kokofe awoke an hour before dawn, crusty-eyed and groggy. She wobbled to her feet and washed her face. Her simuclip projected her reflection before her eyes.

Already dressed, her pink all-weather blouse draped over her delicate frame. Her bird-thin cheek bones jutted out of her light brown face. The glow from the simuclip in her hair coated her skin in an unearthly off-white haze. She brushed her teeth and applied some blush. Don’t want to look like a ghost before I hunt a demon, she thought wryly. At least that was what Agba ceremonies used to be about, killing the demon without to put to death the demon lurking within.

Much to her surprise, the pleasant aroma of frying sweet potato wafted into her bedroom. She hefted her backpack and stepped out of her room.

“It’s been a long time since you cooked,” Kokofe said as she took a seat at their dining table.

Baba stood over a frying pan simmering on their portastove. “It’s time I remember how to. You won’t be in our home much longer.”

Kokofe bit her lip. “Yeah.”

Baba finished scraping the fried potato slices onto a plate and glanced at Kokofe. “None of that, Koko. Today is a glorious day for our tribe. I even trimmed my beard for the occasion.” He stroked his salt-and-pepper goatee, and Kokofe couldn’t help but laugh. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 827: The Wrong Side of the Sky


The Wrong Side of the Sky

By Raymond Roach

There’s an old woman who lives in the desert, and who has lived in the desert a very long time. So, too, have her people, but many of them have gone, while she remains. She’s old enough that she should have a child on her back, or even a grandchild, but she doesn’t. When she was a girl, her people crossed the desert back and forth in an intricate network of traveling families, constantly intersecting; so many of them are gone, now, that the old woman can spend days at a time in perfect solitude without ever seeing another traveler cross the horizon, much less her own path.

So she flies alone, the fat brown barrel of her body slung easily between wide black wings, over the desert. It isn’t an endless desert, but it’s broad enough that even from the thin cold ceiling of the sky, this woman can’t see the edges. What she’s looking for—what she finds—are the far-flung speckles of green that make constellations of the smooth and trackless sands, those points which turn a formless emptiness into meaningful space.
(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 826: This Is Our Get-Along Brainship


This Is Our Get-Along Brainship

by Kristen Koopman

The brainship Coraje spent its captain’s first walkthrough determinedly ignoring the anomalous sensor data, cold spots, plumbing breakdowns, and spots of visual noise in the hopes that if it just tried hard enough to not believe in ghosts, the ghost would go away.

The ghost did not agree. As Captain Salas and First Mate Teixeira came aboard the Coraje for the first time since the operating consciousness’s installation, the lights frantically flickered on the bridge. The Coraje took two-thirds of a second to clamp down on the behavior—just long enough to translate the flickering, in binary machine-code, into the text characters for “I’M STILL HERE.”

The Coraje hated the fucking ghost. Or would, if it believed ghosts existed.
(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 825: Fourth Nail


Fourth Nail

By Mur Lafferty

Regina Phillips’ job on the orbital station God’s Eye was that of a nighttime systems engineer. She had to warm her desk chair and make sure nothing broke. It was the highest paying, most boring job around. So she sat in shocked silence for a good minute when the red alert hit.

She didn’t even know the cloning lab had an alert system. It was hard to have an emergency involving minds that were backed up and bodies that were ultimately renewable. Still, there it was, a red glow around her monitor as the words “UNAUTHORIZED TRANSMISSION” blinked over and over again.

Around her, cloning vats filled the lab, each waiting for the command to start growing a new body for a dying clone. One clone in the far end vat was nearly done, but Regina didn’t recognize the face. She wasn’t a tech responsible for dealing with the actual vats, just the computer systems. (Continue Reading…)