This Drabblecast B-Sides episode features Judith Merril’s story “That Only A Mother”
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Margaret reached over to the other side of the bed where Hank should have been. Her hand patted the empty pillow, and then she came altogether awake, wondering that the old habit should remain after so many months. She tried to curl up, cat-style, to hoard her own warmth, found she couldn’t do it any more, and climbed out of bed with a pleased awareness of her increasingly clumsy bulkiness.
We’ve still got a few bones to pick with our dog-eat-dog micro theme. So if you enjoy last week’s tail, here’s another one to sniff you nose at (and, yes, a few more incollarable puns).
Aliya Whiteley is a writer of dark tales in science fiction and fantasy, and was the winner of the Drabblecast People’s Choice award for Jelly Park! She has also been shortlisted for the Shirley Jackson, BSFA, and British Fantasy Society Awards.
The afternoon the mayor plugged in the world’s largest air-freshener I was in a bar with Petie, drinking orbitals. An orbital is a wheat beer with a dash of blackcurrant. It’s a slow drink. It gives the world a sepia tint, like everything that’s happening actually happened long ago, back in the good old days before everything got so complicated.
This was a favorite of one of our newest team members, Jen Fisher, d(r)abbler of all things and master of none. We’ll be doing more of these with opportunities for fans to record their own introductions to their favorite stories in the future. Hit us up on Facebook and Twitter or give us a shout out in our forums to tell us your favorite stores.
In “The Last Dog,” the titular ultimate canine and his master, the last man on Earth, form a strong bond helping one another to survive on a war-ravaged planet. When they encounter an alien assassin, they are forced to make hard choices.
He was panting now, his breath coming in a never-ending series of short spurts and gasps. His sides ached, his eyes watered, and every now and then he would trip over the rubble of the decayed and ruined buildings that lined the torturously fragmented street…
They called it “Synesthesia.” It’s when the senses got mixed up and you started to hear colors or taste sounds…
Norm begins this with a warning concerning graphic violence and gore. We return to one of the Drabblecast’s favorite topics, the Zombie Apocalypse. The theme receives a fresh airing, which is just as well, as it was starting to smell. Sal Lemerond, veteran of the horror webzine “Necrotic Tissue,” posits the connection between drug addicts and zombies, in a 100-word drabble. Norm chimes in with a tasty public service announcement about the nutritional value of your brain on drugs. In the feature story, J. Alan Pierce whose work has appeared in Kaleidotrope, as well as twice on the Drabblecast (#18 “The One that Got Away” and #31 “Beekeepers”) – takes us through a zombie plague via the eyes of an early victim. The condition first manifests as Synthesesia, the scientific name for the ability to taste colors, smell sounds, and other bizarre sensory hallucinations. The story culminates in a family dispute and a choice betrayal.
I had a dog, his name was Blue Betchya five dollars he’s a good one too. Come on Blue! I’m a-comin’ too.
Glum weather in Baltimore inspires Norm to treat us all to a pair of melancholy stories. In Shane Shennen’s Drabble, “Ancient Apple Tree,” the passing of an old, faithful robot is mourned by nary an organic eye. Next, accomplished writer Mike Resnick (who appears in Drabblecast #67, “Malish,” and #102 “The Last Dog”) bases a sad tale of attrition and mourning on the traditional song “Old Blue.” Accompanied by Norm’s gentle rendition of the song, the story describes the mutual loyalty of a hermit and his canine companion in a harsh season. A grateful Norm confesses to his love of dogs after the song and story conclude. This is followed by feedback for Episodes #88 (“The Toys of Peace”) and #89 (“Starry Night”), which is generally positive.
Author Jay Lake knew about the devil and he knew about the clowns. When his story, Clown Eggs, first appeared on the Drabblecast, listeners said things like “This might be, hands-down, the weirdest story I’ve ever heard on [The Drabblecast]. I think I’m going to have nightmares forever. Can I send my therapy bills to you guys?” (Thanks, Talia)
In other words, people loved it.
Since then, the Drabblecast has produced three other outpourings from Jay’s singular vision of the world (or a world – or some worlds, but hopefully not our own). In fact, Jay’s last professional sale was “The Goat Cutter,” Drabblecast 321, the story from last April about the Devil in Texas. You remember that story- you can’t forget it, even though you’ve tried.
Jay lost his battle with cancer on Sunday, June 1, 2014. In tribute to Jay, we’re kicking off Drabbleclassics with several weeks of Jay Lake’s stories.
And now: Episode 115, Clown Eggs, first published May 25th, 2009.
The spring tide rolled across Momus Beach, tossing the flaccid corpses of clowns like so many torn balloons. Weathered to a dispirited pallor, they twisted in the foamy surf with the eternally surprised expressions of the dead..
The Drabble describes either an apocalyptic event, or a simple machine. The feature introduces us to old “bull” clown Uncle Swarmy. It’s not just another day at the beach. Learn more about the clown life cycle than you’re comfortable with!
It is July 31, your birthday, and I can’t reach you. I’ve been trying all day, but the cell networks are down, the internet is down. I even tried a pay phone–there are two left in town that I know of, and I collected all of my change and walked to the 76 in the village. It was on fire. I watched it for a while from a distance as it painted a brown, toxic streak across the sky. It was a long walk back to the house, or what’s left of it. My feet hurt, and it was too quiet.
The water fountains are low. The lockers are empty. The summer air is warm but there are people in the classrooms. People are talking, are moving. A female emerges from the nearest classroom. She is fully grown. She has dyed hair and competing odors and all of her teeth. Showing her teeth, she asks, “Are you the teacher?”
“YES. YES, I AM.”
She wants to believe those words. What she sees isn’t what she expects, but this woman believes in authority. She wants to get along with others. Showing her teeth, she says, “My son is thrilled to get into your class. He loves the outdoors and doing outdoor things . . . fishing and all that. . . .”
“You’ll do the field trip Thursday, right? To the woods?” She waits a moment and then says, “I can take some of the kids, if you need an extra car.”
“I DON’T NEED A CAR.”
“But I’d like to come along. I mean, I’ve heard such good things about you. My friend Rita . . .” She stops talking, trying to find a reason for her nervousness.
It was just a whiff, a few molecules of something familiar and therefore sweet, wafting on a late afternoon breeze that otherwise carried only the usual: formaldehyde, benzene, dioxin, chromium, and miscellaneous particulate matter both organic and non-. (Once, there had been the smell of roasting chestnuts and crackling logs and simmering spiced cider, but in recent cycles only less pleasant things burned.) There, represented by an air sample just barely statistically significant, was the scent of Sophie.
At the sack’s bottom, beneath an empty donut box, he found the beef jerky. It tasted mostly of pepper, but underneath it had a tingly, metallic flavor he tried not to think about. Who knew what it might have been made from? He doubted there were any original-form cows, the o-cows, left to slaughter…
We stared up at the sunlit peaks, each thinking our own thoughts. I thought about Dessica. We’d waited two months after landing to name it, but the decision was unanimous. Hot, dry, with dust storms that could blow for weeks at a time– if ever there was a Hell, that place had to be it. But eight of us had stayed there for two years, exploring and collecting data; the first interstellar expedition at work. And then we had packed up and come back– at an empty Earth. Not a soul left anywhere….
I have a wife and a daughter. They are visiting me today. Their names– Alice. And Anna.
I can see, sort of. Everything is blurry. I am submerged in a coffin, a clear coffin with green water. There’s a tube in my mouth so that I can breathe, machine-like.
My legs are transparent. I see veins and arteries, thin muscles that look like spiderwebs bundled together. The doctors say my memory will be fuzzy. It’s supposed to come back quickly.
The theme of this Drabblecast Trifecta is “if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.” In Faithful Servant, a long-suffering butler’s poorly timed fit of temper is nearly the end of him. In Selfless, a man with an incurable illness goes to great lengths to ensure his wife and daughter enjoy a normal, happy life. In Prophecy Negotiations, a fateful farm boy learns that if you want to rise to a new station, it pays not to accept the first offer.
This episode of the Drabblecast presents Jimmy’s RoadsideCafe by Ramsey Shehadeh. It’s a tale about running a shanty café off I-95, in a post-apocalyptic, plague-ridden America. Jimmy cobbles together the shanty between the guardrails of the highway, where he assists passersby. Scavenged goods, hard truths, or a place to rest, Jimmy’s kindness becomes an uplifting oasis in a ravaged world.
It used to be that the sun would go down and the streetlamps would come on and make pools of this wet, yellow light. No matter where you stood, you could see the lights on somewhere. You could run from streetlamp to streetlamp and you could look down the streets and you’d never drown in the dark…
I take time-lapse photographs of an orange. The result is always the same.
First I remove the previous orange from the spike in front of the black
velvet backdrop and replace it with a new orange. I set an incandescent
spotlight out of frame as a light source…
It all had a beginning in the original cosmic explosion, whatever that was, and it’ll all have an end when all the stars run down. The sun will last twenty billion years and maybe the dwarfs will last a hundred billion for all the good they are. But just give us a trillion years and everything will be dark. Entropy has to increase to maximum, that’s all…
On this special episode celebrating the Drabblecast’s 200th episode, we feature sci-fi milestone The Last Question by the ubiquitous genre giant Isaac Asimov. Norm takes listeners along for a thankful, whistful retrospective of the podcast’s history. The episode then moves in to a full cast, sweeping production of the sci-fi epic. The Last Question is an existential piece occurring over a grand timeline in the fullness of outer space, as mankind and artificial intelligence alike consider immortality, the end of all things, and what it means. The episode features chapter illustrations, and announces the 2010 People’s Choice award winners.