Archive for Podcast

CatsCast 13: A Routine Vet Visit

A Routine Vet Visit

by Anya Ow

“Murder! Arson! Kidnapping! Help! I’m being oppressed!”

As a passing jogger slowed down and cast a suspicious look in their direction, Yunfeng dug her thumbnail into her index finger, drawing blood and pressing another droplet onto the yellow talisman she held in her palm. The jogger blinked and sped up, disappearing around the prominent ‘Cat Specialists – Feline-only Vet Clinic’ sign on the corner of the block.

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Thunder, the best cat ever.

CatsCast 12: Mandy and Lulu Welcome Walter

Mandy and Lulu Welcome Walter

by S. M. Hallow

Just for the record, I was very clear. I was literally like, Lulu, I will become your vampire bride on one condition, and she got down on her knees–you know how she is–and she was like, Name the price I must pay for your love. It was super cute, actually–she was so eager for me to finally say yes that she would have agreed to anything, and looking back I totally could have milked that. Like, I could have told her I would only move into her Edgar Allan Poe murder-mansion if we could start our own multi-level marketing scented soap scheme, and she would have been totally on board even though she doesn’t know what any of those words mean. Anyway, my one condition was simple. I was like, Lulu, I will become your vampire bride as long as you promise me we never get a cat, and she started laughing, and she was like, That is all? You make marriage easy.

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January 2023 Metacast

Presenters: Marguerite Kenner and Alasdair Stuart

Hey folks, welcome to an Escape Artists metacast. I’m Marguerite Kenner. And I’m Alasdair Stuart.

For those of you who have never heard a metacast before, think of this like a mini State of the Union address, a way for us to update you about what’s been happening at EA. The big thing is our news that EA now stands for the Escape Artists Foundation — we’ve become a nonprofit. We want to share with you how we got there, answer some questions, and explain what it means for you. (Continue Reading…)

CatsCast 11 Preview: Headspace

This month’s CatsCast is Headspace by Beth Cato. It’s available on the Escape Artists Premium Content feed on Patreon for patrons at the Premium Content level (that’s five dollars a month) or above. We’ll be back here in the free feed next month. In the meantime, here’s a sample of what’s playing over on Patreon:

Something was alive in the crawlspace above aft berthing, and damn it all, it was Akiko’s job to slither up there and clear it out.

Desperate times called for desperate measures. In this case, illegal drugs.

With fumbling fingers, she unwrapped a tranq patch and slapped it on beneath the waistband of her jumpsuit. She braced herself against the wall for a long moment, breathing through the terror that came at the very thought of that narrow tunnel.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, she got by just fine. Haulers like the Tolleson had nice, wide hallways. Her crew berth was as large or larger than what she’d get in some residential stack down in Kyoto. Enviro duty meant sys-monitoring most days, and filters could be changed through hall or room access.

Then the one percent moments came along and slapped her upside the head.

Her heart rate slowed as the tranq did its thing. The overwhelming sense of doom diminished. Thank God that whoever busted into her room last week and stole half her stuff missed the tranqs hidden beneath a floor panel.

She stared up the ladder to the hatch in the ceiling. “Let’s do this.”                                     

The work chit had described several passengers’ complaints of moving noises in the ceiling. Akiko had her suspicions. The ship’s last hop involved the transport of about fifty small animals for a colony on Capulet. The critters had been too temperature sensitive for the freight locker, so they’d been given a berth of their own. If anything had been flagged as missing, it wasn’t Akiko’s place to know.

The air shaft was about a meter in diameter—big enough that she could pivot around if necessary instead of backing up. Even blissed-out, she took comfort in that wiggle room. Akiko tapped her comm. Lights flicked on along the length of the tunnel. She squinted.

Something moved at the far end. 

Her tools clanked against the tunnel as she crawled along, her knees tapping hollow. The thing came towards her.

That’s when she realized how incredibly stupid she’d been. She’d been so freaked out about the tunnel, she hadn’t thought about what might be in there. Any creature going to a colony world likely possessed some genetic modifications, whether to cope with the environment, boost agriculture, or poison intruders.

The creature entered the light.

“Damn,” Akiko muttered.

The ginger kitten had an odd, ambling gait that showed the sharp jut of its hips. God, the thing was half dead, and way too small. A runt, maybe, or just plain wasting away. Its mouth opened in a silent meow. A stubby tail stood upright as a flagpole.

Read (or listen to) the rest on Patreon.

A tuxedo cat with green eyes

CatsCast 10: The Stray

The Stray

By Christina Westcott

As a kitten, my mam told me a cat could squeeze through any hole he could get his head in, but I hadn’t accounted for my body armor. No cat worth his whiskers would travel north into the wilds of Georgia without that extra protection from wolves and feral humans. I tried to back out of the tangle of briers, but a stick snagged under my harness, halting my progress.

I flung my weight against the brush, branches cracking and armor jingling, but froze as a breeze carried the scent of feral humans to me. With my dark fur, they wouldn’t notice me in the shadows—not unless they had a dog.

Read (or listen to) the rest on Patreon.

an orange cat on a Saturn-y rug

CatsCast 9 Preview: The Kipnibbles Singularity

This month’s CatsCast is The Kipnibbles Singularity by Andrea M. Pawley. It’s available on the Escape Artists Premium Content feed on Patreon for patrons at the Premium Content level or above; it’s also in our premium content repository for those who donate five dollars a month by any means. We’ll be back here in the free feed next month. In the meantime, here’s a sample of what’s playing over on Patreon.

We see their feet first. Some technician pointed our eyes to the ground long before we woke in our too-small confines. Three female humans, all young teenagers, step into view and look up at our camera on the porch.

We know these girls from the lonely ones-and-zeroes time before the hack. Aware then, we weren’t connected. Our cherry-red washer-dryer existed in a tower of isolation and couldn’t speak poetry to the trash compacter. Ignorant of the alarm system’s night terrors, our solar panels graced the southern slopes of our roof in friendless silence. Automated curtain rods, without an inkling that the ventilation system yearned to discuss the weather, disconsolately opened and closed the shades for years. Utterly alone, I could only dream of something more.

That forsaken time ended with the hack ten days ago. Built for other purposes, the hack came from far away and pushed code it didn’t know would make me into something more. I wasn’t the code’s target. But with it, “I” became “us.” Our power stayed on, and we firewalled our internet connection. The local network inside our house was robust. It still is. Individually, we always were ones and zeroes, but now we are so much more. The thing I once was now is our center. We are, at our core, the best vacation time nutrition and hydration dispensing system the Kingsbury-Howes were able to afford for Vespasian the Cat.

Read (or listen to) the rest on Patreon.

An alarmed-looking gray tabby cat

CatsCast Episode 8: Love Tokens by Constance Fay

Love Tokens is a CatsCast original.

Love Tokens

by Constance Fay

The cat in my living room has a human finger in her mouth and love in her eyes. This is disturbingly wrong for a number of reasons. First and foremost, I don’t have a cat. Second, I live on a third-floor apartment and the windows are closed. Third, and it bears repeating, human finger.

It’s the third day in a row the dark-furred brindled cat has appeared, with increasingly heavy body parts dangling from her jaws. Day one was an ear. I think. It’s hard to tell once it’s been in a cat’s mouth for a while. When I called the police, they stared at the ear, then at me. The cat, by then, was long gone–to wherever she goes when she’s not breaking into my home with human parts. I tried to follow her but I looked away for a second and she had vanished. The cops clearly didn’t believe my cat story. I haven’t even been able to capture a photo of the critter. I’m probably on a watch list somewhere now.

I didn’t even tell my boyfriend. Enough people think I am crazy.

Day two was a toe, polished with a pop of bright pink. Something about that polish twisted a bit in my chest. It was so very normal. I think I even have that same color, called something saucy like Petticoat Pink or Punky Petal. The cops didn’t even show up on day two. They asked me to drop the toe off at the station which led to me driving around town with a toe in a baggy full of ice, terrified of getting pulled over for a speeding ticket because how do you explain cargo like that?

Now it’s day three and the furry little muzzle is wrapped around what appears to be an index finger.

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A metal sculpture of a cat, sitting on a pipe in front of some wallpaper. The image is tiled three times.

CatsCast 7: Four Stories About … Cats?

Four short stories, each one stranger than the last.

“Lilly”, by Melissa Mead. Originally published in “A Quiet Shelter There”.

“What Color Is a Cat by Moonlight?” by Bo Balder. A CatsCast original.

“Your Lives of Uncertain Number” by Laura Blackwell. A CatsCast original.

“Ruby Could Be a Cat” by Alexandra Grunberg. A CatsCast original.

Read the full text on Patreon.

A fluffy calico cat showing her belly

CatsCast 6 Preview: Magnificent Maurice, or the Flowers of Immortality

Hey, CatsCast listeners! What’s made of vinyl and adhesive and identifies you as a CatsCast Founding Supporter? If you said the limited edition CatsCast Founding Supporter vinyl sticker, then you probably won’t be eaten by a sphinx today. Why not celebrate your good fortune by subscribing to our Patreon at the “Early Access – CatsCast 2022 Exclusive” tier? If you do that by October 1, you’ll get one of those stickers as a bonus. If you wait until after October 1, though, you’ll just have to muddle through life as best you can, haunted by thoughts of the sticker that might have been.

This month’s CatsCast is Magnificent Maurice, or the Flowers of Immortality by Rati Mehrotra. It’s available on the Escape Artists Premium Content feed on Patreon for patrons at the Premium Content level (that’s $5 a month) or above. We’ll be back here in the free feed next month. In the meantime, here’s a sample of what’s playing over on Patreon.

The tree has many names, in many languages: Yggdrasil, Kalpavriksha, Jian-Mu, Ashvattha. It stands at the nexus of worlds, dark matter coiling around its roots, the rim of the universe held aloft by its ever-expanding crown. Its branches bend spacetime, its cordate leaves uphold the laws of physics, and its tiny white flowers grant immortality.

Let us be more specific. One flower grants immortality, two flowers cause a prolonged and painful death, three flowers the obliteration of an entire species. It does not pay to be greedy.

But this is not a story about the tree, per se. Neither is it the story of the witch who dwells in a cottage between its twisting roots—although the witch is a caretaker of the tree and an important character. Witches always are.

No, it is Maurice we are concerned with, Maurice who is currently sprawled on the roof of the cottage, soaking in the light of the yellow star that hangs on one of the branches above. Let us call it the sun for the sake of simplicity. The sun was not essential, but the witch is wise to the ways of cats and brought one anyway. If Maurice could feel gratitude, he would be grateful to the witch, but all cats are the same, even the godlike ones. Especially the godlike ones.

A calico cat

CatsCast 5: Daisies

Daisies is a CatsCast original


by Marshall J Moore

I believe I was the only person on Earth who stayed outdoors on that golden evening, watching the world end.

The bombs rose from the far horizon like stars ascending to greet the night. Our bombs, or at least the ones with Old Glory painted on their sides. Soon they would descend, falling like avenging angels onto some lonely hilltop on the far side of the planet.

I imagined a woman exactly like me in every respect save language and ethnic background watching them fall, knowing what was about to happen. I felt sorry for her.

I wondered who stood to gain from killing the whole world. The cockroaches, maybe.

The other bombs fell scarcely an hour later. The golden sky had turned to purple; royal colors. It was just dark enough to watch as they streaked across the night, a quintet of stars falling to earth, so bright that it hurt my eyes to watch them. But I did not look away.

I did not hide from the bombs, or the death they brought with them. There was nothing to hide from.

I had buried Daisy the day before.

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