Posts Tagged ‘family’

Genres:

Escape Pod 546: Recollection


Recollection

by Nancy Fulda

The dream is always the same. You are a tangled mass of neurons, tumbling through meteors. Flaming impacts pierce your fragile surface, leaving ragged gouges. You writhe, deforming under bombardment, until nothing is left except a translucent tatter, crumbling as it descends. Comets pelt the desiccated fibers. You fall, and keep falling, and cannot escape the feeling that, despite your lack of hands, you are scrabbling desperately at the rim of a shrouded tunnel, unable to halt your descent. Glimmers crawl along the faint remaining strands, blurring as you tumble…

You awaken to warmth and stillness. Gone are the soulless tiled floors of the seniors’ home. Sterile window drapes have been replaced by sandalwood blinds. Fresh air blows through the vents, overlaying faint sounds from the bathroom and from morning traffic on nearby canyon roads. You clutch the quilted blankets, stomach plummeting. This cozy bedroom, with its sturdy hardwood furnishings, should be familiar to you; but it isn’t. Two days, and still nothing makes sense. You feel as though you’re suffocating. Tumbling…

Your wife has heard you gasping for air. She comes running, nightgown flapping behind her. Her face is creased in overlapping furrows. Your mirror tells you that the two of you are a match: the same fading hair, the same shrunken hollows along the eyes. Laugh lines, she calls them, but you cannot manage to see them as anything except deformities, in your face and hers both.

“Elliott?” She grabs your hand and kneels at the bedside to look in your eyes. “It’s me, Elliott. Everything’s fine. Everything’s going to be ok.”

Her name, you recall, is Grace. She told it to you two days ago, and is irrationally elated that you are able to repeat it to her upon demand, any time she asks. You feel like a trained puppy, yapping for treats, except there aren’t any treats.

There’s just Grace, and this room. And before that, the seniors’ home. And before that…? You’re not sure. You flail at the bedside for your notebook, thinking it might offer continuity. But there are only a few shaky scribbles, beginning the day before yesterday.

Grace pulls you upright, propping pillows against your spine. She fusses over you, adjusting your hair, prattling off questions. She seems to think you’re in pain, but you’re not. Not any more than you’d expect of a man with joints and bones as old as yours. She tries to kiss your forehead, and you recoil.

It’s a cruel gesture, pulling away like that, but you can’t help it. She’s a stranger, and despite the anguish in her eyes, it feels wrong to pretend otherwise. You can’t feign love. You won’t. Not to please her, not to please anyone.

(Continue Reading…)

EP387: Perspective


Perspective

by Jake Kerr

The worst part about picking my son up from the police station was the walk to get there. I hadn’t been outside in years, but it was still the same–the drab gray of the smog-stained overcast sky, the decaying concrete, the stench of gasoline, urine, and who knew what else. But thanks to Jeffrey there was a new assault to my senses–black molecular paint permanently defacing an already wretched city.With every step I could see his work–his “tags” as the police called them. They were all different, and there was no rhyme or reason as to what he would vandalize–the sides of buildings, street surfaces, retailer kiosks, even windows. The randomness made catching my son a difficult task for the police, but catch him they did, and now I had to walk these vile streets to bring him home.

I paid the bail, followed the directions to processing, and waited for my son. The policewoman there was polite and offered me a seat, but I stood. I wasn’t in the mood to relax, and Jeffrey needed to see how angry I was. So I waited, arms behind my back, staring at the door that led inside.

His head hung low as he walked out. He glanced up at me and then lowered his head again. “Hi, Pop,” he mumbled. I didn’t move. He walked over and added in a whisper, “I’m really sorry.”

“You lied to me.” I grabbed his right hand and pulled it up between us. “These black stains aren’t paint, Jeffrey. That is your skin. It was the price to pay for your job, you said. I’m painting ships with a new kind of paint, you said. You made the stains sound like a worthy sacrifice.” I tossed his hand down.

“Pop, please. Let’s talk about this at home.” He looked around the room, shifting from one foot to the other.

“Yes, we will discuss this at home.” I turned and walked out the door. He followed. I walked the streets again, Jeffrey shuffling behind me. I focused on the concrete at my feet, unable to bear looking at his work. My hands were clenched tight enough to turn my knuckles white, so I shoved them in my pockets.
(Continue Reading…)

Genres:

Escape Pod 239: A Programmatic Approach to Perfect Happiness


A Programmatic Approach to Perfect Happiness

By Tim Pratt

My step-daughter Wynter, who is regrettably prejudiced against robots and those who love us, comes floating through the door in a metaphorical cloud of glitter instead of her customary figurative cloud of gloom. She enters the kitchen, rises up on the toes of her black spike-heeled boots, wraps her leather-braceleted arms around my neck, and places a kiss on my cheek, leaving behind a smear of black lipstick on my artificial skin and a whiff of white make-up in my artificial nose.

“Hi Kirby,” she says, voice all bubbles and light, when normally she would never deign to utter my personal designation.

“Is Moms around? Haven’t talked to her in a million.”

I know right away that Wynter has been infected.

Escape Pod 230: Candy Art

Show Notes

Special Closing Music: “Podsafe Christmas Song” by Jonathan Coulton.


Candy Art

By James Patrick Kelly

“They’re uploads, Jennifer.” When I first met Mel, I thought the sleepy voice was sexy. “How can they move in with us when they’re not anywhere?”

“They bought a puppet to live in,” I say. “Life-sized, nuskin, real speak – top of the line. It’s supposed to be my Christmas present. Bring the family back together for the holidays and live unhappily ever after.”

“A puppet.” A puzzlement glyph pops up at the bottom of my screen. “As in one puppet?”

“It’s a timeshare – you know. They live it serially. Ten hours of him, fourteen of her.”

“Not fifty-fifty?”

“He’s giving her the difference so he can take extra time off for his bass tournament in June.”

Genres:

Escape Pod 108: Kin


Kin

by Bruce McAllister

The alien and the boy, who was twelve, sat in the windowless room high above the city that afternoon. The boy talked and the alien listened.

The boy was ordinary — the genes of three continents in his features, his clothes cut in the style of all boys in the vast housing project called LAX. The alien was something else, awful to behold; and though the boy knew it was rude, he did not look up as he talked.

He wanted the alien to kill a man, he said. It was that simple.

Escape Pod 102: The Angle of My Dreams

Show Notes

Rated PG for corporal punishment and death of family members.


The Angle of My Dreams

By Jay Lake

That spring in math class, after we’d all kind of got back to normal about the Challenger blowing up, we were studying angles. Because I do good in class, Mrs. Doornie gave me a protractor to work with, and I used it to measure the angle of my dreams. That’s when I figured exactly how steep a hill needed to be for me to fly in real life.

Escape Pod 12: Clean Up Your Room!

Show Notes

Rated G. Contains intense maternal nagging and disturbing chorework. May not be suitable for some adults.


Clean Up Your Room!

By Laura Anne Gilman

“Jessy, put that away and come eat breakfast. You won’t get anything useful done on an empty stomach.” The voice was the usual gender-neutral computer-generated drone, and yet it sounded different to her this morning. Obviously, the tone modifiers Gregory had suggested were working, too. That was going to be a selling point for everyone yelping about the dehumanization of home life. In a few generations, they’d be able to personalize the voice, maybe even to customer order.