Episode Art: Bo KaierRead by: Norm, Sean Sorrentino, Nathan Lee
Strange Stories, By Strange Authors, for Strange Listeners
Thomas takes his lunch outside the shelter, on one of the park benches that look out over the interstate and down all the way to the containment pond. He has wondered whether a passerby seeing him from the highway would know whether he worked at the shelter or was one of its clients. He has had this thought most days that he has sat here. Today, though, his attention has been arrested by a small patch of gooselike objects floating out on the containment pond. If they are geese, it will be the first time he has seen a living thing on that pond.
I spent last summer crawling through The Big Thicket with cameras and tape recorder, photographing and taping two of the last ivory-billed woodpeckers on the earth. You can see the films at your local Audubon Society showroom. This year I wanted something just as flashy but a little less taxing.
Perhaps a population study on the Bermuda cahow, or the New Zealand takahe. A month or so in the warm (not hot) sun would do me a world of good. To say nothing of the advance of science. I was idly leafing through Greenway’s Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World. The city bus was winding its way through the ritzy neighborhoods of Austin, stopping to let off the chicanas, black women, and Vietnamese who tended the kitchens and gardens of the rich.
Father Leggett stood on the sidewalk and looked up at the three narrow stories of gray brick that was 207 East Charlton Street. Compared to the other edifices on Lafayette Square—the Colonial Dames fountain, the Low house, the Turner mansion, the cathedral of course—this house was decidedly ordinary, a reminder that even Savannah had buildings that did only what they needed to do, and nothing more.
He looked again at the note the secretary at St. John the Baptist had left on his desk. This note read:
Samuel sat on the balcony, enjoying the fading light of day. When the ventilator pushed air into his lungs, he savored the salt brine from the sea. He pretended that he had control over breath, but it was much a fantasy as adjusting his wheelchair….
Old Tom was a very tall man. He was so tall he didn’t even have a nickname for it. Ned Black, who was at least a head shorter, had been ‘Tower Block’ since the sixth grade, and Jack, the owner of the Hog’s Head Bar, had a sign up over the door saying ‘Mind Your Head, Ned’. But Tom was just Tom. It was like he was so tall it didn’t bear mentioning even for a joke: be a bit like ragging someone for breathing…
“Hostile movement! Well inside the perimeter! Well inside!” I stripped off my Immersive Response goggles as adrenaline surged through me. The virtual cityscape I’d been about to raze disappeared, replaced by our monitoring room’s many views of SesCo’s mining operations. On one screen, the red phosphorescent tracery of an intruder skated across a terrain map, a hot blip like blood spattering its way toward Pit 8.
"A powerful reading and good example of how a story can be transformed when told out loud and told out loud well.
The Drabblecast is an award-winning, illustrated, listener-supported audio fiction magazine, released as a free to download, weekly podcast. It features short stories at the far side of weird, including science fiction, horror, fantasy, and everything in between. It is hosted and produced by Norm Sherman. The Drabblecast is open to submissions and is a paying market.
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