Posts Tagged ‘vylar kaftan’

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Escape Pod 643: Disarm (Flashback Friday)


Disarm

By Vylar Kaftan

Excerpt

We kept in touch through the war, when he messaged me about marching through upstate New York. He always started the same way: “Dear Ryan, Please come kick my commanding officer in the balls.” Then he’d tell me about the latest mess–cracks in their radiation suits, or toxic waterholes that were supposed to be clear. He never got in trouble for the messages; they needed him too badly. My epilepsy disqualified me from the draft, which probably saved my life. Pretty boys like me weren’t exactly Army material. By the time things were bad enough that they needed any warm body, there wasn’t enough human government left to organize a draft.

The ruins at Binghamton were where Trey got sick. By the time I got across the country to him, he’d recovered–well, as much as possible. I remember the doctor’s face as he says Trey will live, but he’ll be in pain.

Escape Pod 367: Lion Dance

Show Notes

Rated 17 and up for language and adult situations


Lion Dance

by Vylar Kaftan

I knew Wing’s idea was stupid.  But we were all so goddamn sick of quarantine that it sounded great anyway.

“Chinese New Year on Halloween night, huh?” I asked him.  We sat on his broken futon and some folding chairs, passing a bottle of Captain Jack among the eight of us.  Someone leaned on a car horn outside our apartment.  When they didn’t stop, my buddy Matt leaned out the window and swore at them in Mandarin.  Matt was loud–even a flu mask didn’t muffle his bellowing.  I swear, even though every restaurant in San Francisco Chinatown had been closed since February, tourists still cruised the streets.  Even a pandemic couldn’t stop them completely.

“Dude.  Someone will shoot us,” said the guy from 4B, who I think was named Jimmy Li.  We all lived in the same nasty building on Grant Street above a dim sum place owned by our slumlord.  I knew Matt, who’d invited me, and my little brother Jian of course.  Wing lived here in 3A.  I’d just met the Chao twins who had different haircuts, and then Jimmy and some dude Xiang.  At twenty-three, I was pretty sure I was the oldest guy here.

“That’s the point,” said Wing heavily, as if he’d explained this a hundred times when he actually hadn’t.  “We’ll be in costume.  First off, all the riots will be in the Mission, so that’s where the cops will be.  Second, no one’s going to shoot a New Year’s lion.  Dude.  It’s Chinatown.  All the old cops here are superstitious.  Can you imagine how much bad luck it would bring?  Even if some cop got itchy on the trigger, he’ll think about it long enough for us to run away.”

“No one’s shooting anyone,” said Matt.  “For God’s sake, this isn’t Montana.”  He pushed his mask aside, swigged the Jack, and passed it to Jian.  I snagged the bottle out of his hands.  No freaking way would I let my little brother drink from that bottle.  Who knew where the other guys had been?  They might pull off their masks and drink, but damned if I let my little brother do it.  Jian glared at me, but didn’t fight back.

I passed the bottle to Wing.  “They might shoot if things get out of hand,” I said.  “It’s Halloween.  Everyone’s twitchy.  But you’re right, I heard a bunch of people are gonna swarm the Mission.  That’s where the cops will go.”

Wing took another swig.  He wasn’t wearing a mask; that was only Matt and Jian and me.  Wing went to the kitchen and reappeared with a stack of well-used disposable cups and washed straws.  He swiped an unopened bottle of Jose Cuervo off a shelf and handed it to me.

I thanked him and poured myself way too much tequila.  I knew I wasn’t supposed to peel the mask off, even for a minute, but it’d been a bad week.  My parents were getting evicted and Jian’s antivirals were out of stock everywhere.  Pissed me off–HIV drugs did crap against the flu, but people were desperate and they got prescriptions from quacks.  So my little brother might develop full-blown AIDS thanks to those selfish jackholes.
(Continue Reading…)

Genres:

Escape Pod 308: Kill Me

Show Notes

Note- we do not have the ebook rights, but you can read it at Transcriptase!


Kill Me

by Vylar Kaftan

I’m sitting cross-legged on a rock in west Texas, somewhere north of El Paso, bleeding into the dirt. The pose feels like a meditation. I’m fascinated with the knife mark on my left thigh, a shallow slash from hip to knee. It’s surrounded by bruise clusters that look like flowers of broken skin. In the silent desert, I hear only the soft clicking of the car cooling down. Then his urine splashes against the rock behind me, and I hear his zipper when he’s done. The night breeze is icy on my back, drying the blood into clots. He did me well, I admit, glancing up at the full desert moon. If my body survived–which it wouldn’t–I would be scarred, possibly disfigured. The welts on my back throb like electricity, and everything–the moon, the desert, the wind–is alive with me.

He walks in front of me. I look up at the man who brought me all the way from Denver. He looks like a black dog, matted and angry, and growls like one too. My eyes travel to the cluster of thick hair springing from his shirt neck. He folds his arms over his chest.

“The night’s almost over,” I remind him.

He scowls. “Get in the trunk.”

I hesitate–he paid me to do the shy-girl act, a popular one–and he grabs my arm. He hauls me over the rear bumper into the trunk of his ’33 Axis. He slaps me once across the face–not as hard as I expected–and crumples me into the tight compartment. He slams the trunk closed, catching my hair in the door. I try to pull free, but it’s no use. I don’t think he meant that part, but he doesn’t seem to notice the long trail of hair hanging out of the trunk. The car door opens and the ignition starts. I tug on my hair once more and then relax, concentrating on where I hurt, where my body throbs with pain.

As many times as I’ve done this, I still try to experience it all. Because it’s not every day you experience death. Only every three months.

Genres:

Escape Pod 295: Disarm


Disarm

By Vylar Kaftan

We kept in touch through the war, when he messaged me about marching through upstate New York. He always started the same way: “Dear Ryan, Please come kick my commanding officer in the balls.” Then he’d tell me about the latest mess–cracks in their radiation suits, or toxic waterholes that were supposed to be clear. He never got in trouble for the messages; they needed him too badly. My epilepsy disqualified me from the draft, which probably saved my life. Pretty boys like me weren’t exactly Army material. By the time things were bad enough that they needed any warm body, there wasn’t enough human government left to organize a draft.

The ruins at Binghamton were where Trey got sick. By the time I got across the country to him, he’d recovered–well, as much as possible. I remember the doctor’s face as he says Trey will live, but he’ll be in pain.

Escape Pod 243: I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno

Show Notes

Show Notes:

  • Thanks to John Joseph Adams and Lightspeed Magazine for the opportunity to run this fantastic story at the same time as their launch. Go check out their magazine and subscribe!
  • Enter the Escape Pod Flash Contest! It runs June 1- July 4, stories must be under 500 words. More information at the link.

Next week… we begin our annual Hugo short stories rundown, with five weeks of award-nominated stories! I’m taking a 4-week break from hosting, but I’ll see you in July!


I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno

By Vylar Kaftan

I knew you loved me, of course. It was written in your eyes when you looked at me, a physics problem with no clear answer. If an irresistible force meets an immovable object, what happens then?

They meet. That’s all we know. Relative to each other, they are in contact. From within the object or the force, there is no way to tell if you’re in motion.