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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.

Read the rest on Patreon.

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

Daisies

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.

Read the rest on Patreon

An orange tabby cat

CatsCast 4 preview: The Cat


This month’s CatsCast is The Cat by Nicole Walsh. 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 cat followed him home.

Tomas Shine spent three and a half minutes in the stairwell hyperventilating. He heard Mrs Helen Acres, the widow from Unit Two, clatter and batter her way out her door, shopping bags in hand. She spotted the cat outside the stairway and reversed soundlessly into her unit.

Tomas sucked in a ragged breath, filling his lungs to the brim, and looked up. The cat waited on the far side of the glass door. Its tail lashed back and forth. Tomas used the rail to heave himself upright, then crept down the stairs. He opened the door. The cat stood, butt shooting into the air, tail upright like a comma. It mewed.

Tomas stepped aside.

The cat led the way up the stairs. Tomas walked slowly, careful not to step on it. His hand was shaking so badly he couldn’t get the key into the lock. His work bag slid awkwardly down his arm. Sweat pooled at his armpits, licking wet trails past his ribs.

The cat pressed into his leg. A small, frightened noise slipped from his throat.

“I’m sorry,” he gasped. “I’m trying.”

Nervous sweat coated his fingertips. The keys slipped free. They landed on the tiled floor with a loud clang, startling the cat. Tomas pressed into the wall, hand raised defensively.

“Sorry!”

The cat stared, tail low and flicking. Tomas crouched slowly, extending a shaking hand for the keys. For a sickening moment he was almost eye to eye with the creature. Tomas rose. He slowly and deliberately inserted the correct key into the lock and opened his door.

A small white shape flittered past his brown work shoes.

It was done.

Tomas Shine had a cat.

Read or listen to the rest on Patreon.

A calico cat with her head and shoulders on the floor and the rest of her on a fluffy red cat bed

CatsCast 3: What Cats (and Dragons) Do


What Cats (and Dragons) Do is a CatsCast original.

What Cats (and Dragons) Do

by KT Bryski

Far away in the hill country, there lived a small black cat. Though people enough lived in a nearby town, he belonged only to himself. Sometimes he climbed the town’s old stone walls and prowled its old stone lanes, for he was very fond of sunny window ledges and fresh milk.

If he was lonely, he didn’t think much of it. A cat feeds well enough on its own company.

On this particular day, the cat was curled fast asleep on the hillside. Pale trees whispered under a bleached summer sky. Long grass drooped in the heat; morning light fell like shards of white glass.

Sudden rumbling shook the morning. Like a muddy river, a dragon surged from the hilltop. Wingless, sinuous, it scuttled on four stumped legs and nearly tripped over the cat in its haste. Righting itself, the dragon gave a slow, lipless smile. Its jaws opened wide, jagged teeth dripping —

“Where,” said the cat, “is my apology?”

Read the rest on Patreon.

A cat sitting by a vase of flowers. The cat has a bit of petal on his lip.

CatsCast 2 preview: Tin Opener

Show Notes

Tin Opener originally appeared in From A Cat’s Point of View in October, 2019


This month’s featured cat photo is “What Flower” featuring Zippy, by Bill Shields.

This month’s CatsCast is Tin Opener by Charlotte Platt. 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.

They killed my tin opener. The humans called her Margaret, but what do humans know? She was my tin opener.

More than that, she was a witch, and a good one. A crone for the village, a sharp mind, and a healer. She knew the best way to mend broken bones, and how to scratch my ears so that I purred deep and long in her lap. I liked her, and they killed her. A poor choice.

Read or listen to the rest on Patreon.

CatsCast 1: The Cat Lady and the Petitioner

Show Notes

The Cat Lady and the Petitioner originally appeared in Translunar Travelers Lounge, August 2020


The Cat Lady and the Petitioner

by Jennifer Hudak

Laurie stands in front of a door. It’s old but solid, as many old things are. Whatever paint once covered it has long since worn away, and the wood beneath is striped, and furred with splinters. It is her very first door, of her very first day, of her very first job.

Her ankles wobble over brand-new high heels, and her smart jacket is slightly itchy and entirely unsuited for the warm weather. She lifts one aching foot and then the other out of her stiff, uncompromising shoes. Her life stretches out before her, a long walk down an endless road hemmed in on either side by door after closed, splintery door.

Reaching out two pink-lacquered fingers and one pink-lacquered thumb, she delicately lifts up the knocker—brass, cat-shaped, with a tail curled in a circle. When Laurie raps the knocker three times against the base, the tail twitches underneath her fingers.

Read the rest on Patreon.