Posts Tagged ‘Mur Lafferty’

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Escape Pod 860: Solo Cooking for the Recently Revived


Solo Cooking for the Recently Revived

by Aimee Picchi

I hide my right hand behind my back when Jamie steps into the rehab center’s kitchen. Like all the rest of the reintegration counselors, he’s a Survivor. And Survivors always stare at our scars.

“Let’s start with our motto,” Jamie says.

The class intones: “Food is life.

My friend Myra hitches her thumbs on her belt, cinched to the smallest hole, and rolls her eyes.

“And?” Jamie prods.

To cook is human,” we finish.

Every time I say it I imagine the motto will fix me, erase my scars and everything else that happened in the last year. Get me one step closer to Carter. I once confided my belief to Myra and she laughed. That motto’s not for our benefit, sweetie, she had said. It’s so they can believe we’re still just like them.

Jamie gestures for me to join him at the front of the classroom, the home-ec lab inside a former middle school. About twenty of us are lined up at ovens and sinks and Formica countertops where students scratched blocky initials inside of hearts. I don’t want to think about what probably happened to the kids.

(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 856: The Princess, NP


The Princess, NP

By Brian Hugenbruch

I sat in the Commander’s office at Hexa Station, in clothes that stank of subspace, and the only polite thing I could do to drown out the universe was compute obscene sums in my head. It didn’t stop the sounds from piercing my ears, though. Metal chairs scraping against plastic floors. A pulse generator’s low thrumming some twenty floors below. The whisper of air recycling through the prefab station. The universe was omnipresent. I could feel it all, and it never ever stopped.

Lullabies were my preferred method of soothing soul and stilling mind. I learned thousands of them in the earliest days of my Conditioning. Alas, people ask the wrong kinds of questions if one starts singing mid-conversation. Math was a precisely imperfect fallback. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 850: Laser Squid Goes House Hunting


Laser Squid Goes House Hunting

By Douglas DiCicco

“This one has everything on your checklist.” I held open the front door of the four-bedroom colonial. It wasn’t quite big enough for my client, who left greasy marks on the doorframe as she squeezed through. “We can always get that expanded for you. We work with some excellent contractors in the area.”

A shriek from the living room told me Cynthia Whitecrest, the homeowner, hadn’t cleared out as I had politely but firmly suggested. I prefer to show a house on my own. The owners always think they’re better salespeople than I am.

“Hello, Miss Whitecrest,” I said with my practiced smile, ignoring the shriek. “I’m sorry, I didn’t think you’d be home. I’m showing the place to a potential buyer today. As I mentioned in my many texts.” The last part was snarkier than I’d meant to be, but Cynthia was already on my last nerves.

Cynthia cowered behind a tasteful sectional, white as a sheet. “Wh… wh… what is… that… creature…?”

Oh no. She was going to offend the buyer. I needed to do some quick diplomacy. “Miss Whitecrest, let me introduce—”

The client intervened before I had the chance. She dragged herself along the cherry hardwood floor, tentacles making a wet slapping sound with every movement.

“You cower before Laser Squid, terror of the depths!” (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.
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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…)

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Escape Pod 820: Tony Roomba’s Last Day on Earth


Tony Roomba’s Last Day on Earth

By Maria Haskins

It’s Tony Roomba’s last day on Earth. After two years of working undercover as a vacuum cleaner bot on this boondock planet, he is finally heading home to the Gamma Sector, but his final day is full of challenges. He has to get out of the apartment undetected; has to reach the extraction point in time for teleportation; and he has to submit his intel-report to the Galactic Robotic Alliance (not that they’ll like it much). However, his most immediate and hairiest problem, is that he can’t get Hortense off his back.

“Hortense, listen to me,” Tony says firmly, but Hortense just twitches her fluffy tail, caressing the buttons on top of his wheeled, disc-shaped body, causing him to inhale several dust bunnies. “I have to get out of here for a bit,” he wheezes, “and you’re an indoor cat. You know you’re not supposed to leave the apartment.”

Neither are you, Hortense’s luminous, jade-green eyes seem to say as she purrs and gazes down at him while her lush posterior remains firmly planted on his back. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 802: Sentient Being Blues


Sentient Being Blues

by Christopher Rose

I got a pickaxe for a left hand,
I got a churn drill for a brain,
I got a pickaxe for a left hand,
I got a churn drill for a brain,
I got miles of tunnel behind me,
just to stand out in the rain.

[guitar solo 36 bars]
[2x chorus]
[long outro – guitar vamp harmonica over]

“ASIMOV WAS A BIGOT.” The graffiti, sprayed across the bucket of a soviet ore hopper car, one of a long train of them. Then a slash of Cyrillic, the same message probably, obscured by a crust of snow and mud and grit. Not clear from the lettering if it was a human hand that wrote it.

An icy wind picked up my tie and flapped it until I smoothed it back down under my parka. I shivered.

“I own your steps, Thom,” Freddie had said. “Every step from here to Siberia and back. Don’t come back empty-handed. Go get it, boy.”

Barking mad endeavor. Yet here I was.
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Escape Pod 800: Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death


Give Me Cornbread or Give Me Death

By N.K. Jemisin

The intel is good. It had better be; three women died to get it to us. I tuck away the binoculars and crawl back from the window long enough to hand-signal my girls. Fire team moves up, drop team on my mark, support to hold position and watch our flank. The enemy might have nothing but mercs for security, but their bullets punch holes same as real soldiers’, and some of ’em are hungry enough to be competent. We’re hungrier, though.

Shauntay’s got the glass cutter ready. I’m carrying the real payload, slung across my torso and back in a big canteen. We should have two or three of these, since redundancy increases our success projections, but I won’t let anyone else take the risk. The other ladies have barrels cracked and ready to drop. The operation should be simple and quick—get in, drop it like it’s hot, get out.

This goes wrong, it’s on me.

It won’t go wrong. (Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 799: No Strangers Any More (Part 2)


No Strangers Any More (Part 2 of 2)

by Ian Creasey

Royal Roundup — “ROSE’S NEW BOYFRIEND? Just days after the end of her relationship with Captain Gerrard Calderwood, Princess Rose has a new companion. Is this interplanetary diplomacy, or something more? Centuries have passed since the days when political alliances were cemented with royal marriages, but perhaps the old tradition is due a revival. Was the break-up with Calderwood so bitter that it soured her on the entire human race?”

Conspiracy Channel — “It looks like David Icke was right after all. He always said that the royal family were secretly a race of shape-changing lizards. Now Princess Rose has come out into the open and admitted her true love for her own kind!”

Goggler — “Princess Rose is stepping out with an alien. Presumably, Earthmen aren’t good enough for her. It’s a slap in the face for all Englishmen, but she’s probably upset and confused. Here at Goggler, we think she just hasn’t met the right guy yet, and we want to help her out. Yeomen of England — do you think you’re good enough for Princess Rose? Write and tell us, explaining exactly why you’re suitable. How would you prove yourself? Which monsters would you slay first?”
(Continue Reading…)

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Escape Pod 798: No Strangers Any More (Part 1)


No Strangers Any More (Part 1 of 2)

by Ian Creasey

One of a princess’s many duties is to make polite conversation and avoid controversial subjects. Screw that, thought Rose. At the banquet after the first day of the conference, there was only one topic on everyone’s mind, so she raised it. “Are these aliens really going to buy the moon?”

The man opposite her laughed. “Are we really going to sell it?” Subtitles in Rose’s vision identified him as a European Union diplomat, an expert in international law, and a family man with a wife, four children, and a mistress.

As everyone else at the table chimed in, Rose’s visual overlay filled with a cloud of identifiers and titbits, until she tweaked her filters to display only the most relevant tags.
“I think we should sell,” said a Russian four-star general. “Let them have the moon. Best place for them! Then they’re not wandering around down here, eh?”

The Brazilian ambassador scowled. “Have you seen the size of their ship? It’s enormous. There could be millions of them in there.”

“The ship is big because it travels between the stars,” another lawyer said. “The crew is only a few hundred —”

“Sure, that’s what they say,” the ambassador retorted. “But who knows what’s really inside? And if they unload it all onto the moon, do we want to see that looming over us every night?”

(Continue Reading…)

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