Rated R: Contains Robots and F-Bombs
Far as You Can Go
by Greg van Eekhout
I didn’t go to school because I was allergic to the neuroboosters, but that didn’t mean I was stupid. It just meant I had a lot of time on my hands. Mostly, I hung out with Beeman, scrap-combing all over Ex-Town and trading metal and electronic bits and whatever for food and goods and services. We were good businessmen.
Beeman was a robot, only it didn’t matter so much to me because all the skin on his face was torn away so you could see his plastic cheeks and hear the whiz-whirr of his eyes when they moved. This made him okay, because he wasn’t pretending to be a person or anything else he wasn’t. He wasn’t trying to be fake.
We were going over our day’s take the afternoon that I first smelled the Far-away. The grey outlines of the downtown towers faded into the sky like sick ghosts, and over our heads, police stingers whined, invisible in the haze. Beeman and I sat with our backs against a crumbled section of concrete wall. At my feet was a can of split-pea soup, not too far out of date, a couple of nine volt batteries, a coil of O-net cable, and two stainless steel rods that were maybe chopsticks.
“Good trade,” Beeman said, his words beginning and ending with a little click that I wished would go away. The click hadn’t always been there in his speech, but I figured his voicebox was a little broken.
“Except for the soup,” I said. “I’ll bring that home to my mom.”
“Your mom is fat and eats too much.”
“Shut your grill.” I banged the soup can against his head, but not hard enough to dent either. Beeman wasn’t trying to be mean. He just had some bad lines of code.
About the Author
Greg van Eekhout is the author of stories and novels for adults and middle-grade audiences. His work has been nominated for the Nebula, Andre Norton, and Locus Awards.
His most recent work is the Daniel Blackland trilogy from Tor Books — California Bones, Pacific Fire, and Dragon Coast — about wizards who get their powers from eating the bones of extinct magical creatures. “The Authenticator” and “The Osteomancer’s Son” (previously featured on PodCastle) take place in the Daniel Blackland universe.
About the Narrator
Dave Thompson (also known as the Easter Werewolf) has written stories featured or forthcoming at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Apex Magazine, Bull Spec, Drabblecast, Pseudopod, and Escape Pod, and has lost NaNoWriMo twice. Once upon a time, he edited and hosted PodCastle with Anna Schwind, and stepped down to focus on his own writing in 2015. His collection of stories And Welcome Back released in 2016. He lives in Southern California with his wife and three children. Learn more about him on his website, or follow him on Twitter @krylyr.