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Flash Fiction Contest 4: Bloodlines

The original paraphernalia for the Flash Fiction Contest had been lost long ago, and the black box now resting on the stool had been put into use even before Old Man Stuart, the oldest man in town, was born. Mr. Lieberman spoke frequently to the forum members about making a new box, but no one liked to upset even as little tradition as was represented by the black box. There was a story that the present box had been made with some pieces of the box that had preceded it, the one that had been constructed when the first people settled down to make a village here.

Mr. Garrett and his oldest son, Nick, hold the black box securely on the stool until Mr. Lieberman can stir the papers thoroughly with his hand. Because so much of the ritual had been forgotten or discarded, Mr. Lieberman had been successful in having slips of paper substituted for the chips of wood that had been used for generations. Chips of wood, Mr. Lieberman had argued, had been all very well when the village was tiny, but now that the population was more than three hundred and likely to keep on growing, it was necessary to use something that would fit more easily into the black box.

The fourth incarnation of the Escape Artists Flash Fiction Contest is coming. Pseudopod is leading the charge this time. Every author may submit up to two original stories of 500 words or less for consideration. Submissions are open now until September 15. Head to Pseudopod’s special Submittable portal to exercise your civic duty in the lottery.

The competition will begin in October 2015. The three winning stories will be purchased and run as an episode of Pseudopod. Payment will be $30 so this will be considered a pro sale. Stories will be published on a members-only section of the forums, so first publication rights will not be expended by participating in the contest. It’s easy to be become a member. Sign up for a forum account and make a single post so we know you’re not a bot. This is a good thread to start with. From there, all the pertinent details will be posted under “The Arcade”. Visit forum.escapeartists.net for rules and details.

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PodCastle 378: Flash Fiction Extravaganza! Strange Destinies

“Yaga Dreams of Growing Up,” by Eileen Wiedbrauk
Read by Elizabeth Tennant
Originally published in Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. No. 29

When Yaga grows up, she wants to have a house on chicken legs so it can walk away from solicitors, would-be-thieves, nosy strangers, village raiders, tax collectors, Anya the cartwright’s daughter, and all of Anya’s friends.

“Mrs. Stiltskin,” by Bonnie Joe Stufflebeam
Read by Alasdair Stuart and Marguerite Kenner!
Originally published in Lakeside Circus, March 2014.

Q: You say you knew nothing of the stolen babies?
A: I knew nothing.
Q: And you didn’t suspect anything?
A: Not one little thing. Officer, my husband’s always been an eccentric little man. He’s always been peculiar. I knew nothing, you see.

“Marking Time,” by Stephanie Burgis
Read by Kim Mintz
Originally published in Daily Science Fiction in February 2015.

The next bead marks graduation. Your parents were there, in the background, at least, smiling tightly and watching you with big, worried eyes, while you held yourself rigid: waiting, just waiting to leap to Tom’s defense the moment that they made a single wrong move. They never understood how special he was, and he was right, he really was–they always tried to ruin everything.

Rated PG!

 

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PodCastle 377: Ray

by Mario Milosevic

read by Joe Scalora

First published in Space and Time Magazine, Spring 2013

You know that episode of M*A*S*H, the one where they have to pick up stakes, pack everything up and move to another location? Me neither. I never watched that show, but Liz, who works the booth where people throw darts at balloons on a cork wall, and who is thirty years older than me, has seen every episode of that show at least three times. She said every time we break down the rides and get ready to move on, she thinks about that episode.

“It’s like Colonel Potter said they had to bug out because they were about to be in a shooting zone, and we bug out for the exact same reason.“

“The same reason?“ I said to Liz. No one was going to be shooting at us, I was pretty sure.

“Yeah” she said, “because now that the carney’s over, they don’t want us in town, you know? They make it a hostile environment so we’ll leave them alone. They’re scared is what it is. They’re scared of us and they’d just as soon kill us as look at us.”

I wasn’t quite seeing it, but I thought it best not to challenge her on the issue. When she told me this, I had been on the job only a couple of weeks, and we’d been to two fairs. We were packing up to move on to the next one, somewhere in the Columbia River Gorge. “You got Ray all packed away yet?” I asked.

She patted the side of the trailer, folded up like a wrapped birthday present. “Ray’s always right here with me,” she said.

Rated PG-13.

Mario Milosevic is a prolific author of novels, short stories, and poetry. Find out more about him and his storytelling at mariowrites.com.

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PodCastle 376: Ink

by Sandra M. Odell

read by Sean D. Sorrentino

A PodCastle Original!

A woman stood at the tattoo parlor’s door. Small, damp from the storm, hair disheveled and slightly askew. Comfortable in her clothes, not her skin. The sight of her made Tiger’s chest itch, and his tattoos tingle. He turned down the stereo. “Can I help you with something?”

The woman looked at the shelves stuffed with pattern books, the posters of half­-naked men and women displaying their tattoos and piercings. “Is this Stars And Stripes Ink?”

Her voice had a touch of falsetto.

“That’s what the sign says in the window.”

She brushed aside her bangs, tugging her hair back into place in a way Tiger supposed he wasn’t meant to notice. “I would like a tattoo.”

Rated R.

Sandra M. Odell lives with her husband, sons, and cats in Washington state.  Her work has appeared in such venues as Jim Baen’s UNIVERSE, Crossed Genres, Daily Science Fiction, and Galaxy’s Edge.  A Clarion West 2010 graduate, she is currently hard at work on plotting her second novel.  Or world domination.  Whichever comes first.

THE TWELVE WAYS OF CHRISTMAS, her collection of speculative fiction holiday stories, is available from Hydra House Books.

Sean D. Sorrentino lives in the Raleigh North Carolina area with his wife and his dog.

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