Rank #1: Far Fetched Fables No. 66 Mark Teppo and A. Merc Rustad
Main Story: “The One That Got Away” by Mark Teppo
A haven for raconteurs and fabulists, the Alibi Room was a velvet-lined sanctuary where suggestion and persuasion were the watchwords and truth was such a devalued coin that it couldn’t purchase a condom from the dispenser in the men’s room. Once through the unassuming door and the voluminous coat check where racks of costumes, disguise and false uniforms waited, the patrons redrafted their pasts and invented possible futures. The promise of narrow stools at the mahogany bar, the graceful and discrete staff, the liars grouped around lacquered tables or sprawled on plush brick and the old growth timber was the fantasy. The only reality that mattered was the invented one wrapped in velvet drapery and limned with orange light.
Rank #2: FarFetchedFables No 188 H L Fullerton
“Too Poor to Sin” by H.L. Fullerton
(Originally published in Mysterion.)
Grandfather squandered our family's fortune on forgiveness, forcing Father to enlist in the Legion and serve the angels. This was before he met Mother and they had me, though the angels' war still rages. Father doesn't say much about his years of service, except that it would've bankrupted us had he bought an honorable discharge. Instead he quit, kept his wages and is banking on God's leniency. He says he amassed those sins in God's name -- he only killed those the angels ordered him to -- and that should count for something, despite the angels' claim that sin belongs solely to the sinner. Father says God knows you can't climb to heaven without breaking a few bones.
H.L. Fullerton writes fiction — mostly speculative, occasionally about angels — which is sometimes published in places such as Lackington's, Daily Science Fiction, and Tales to Terrify. On Twitter as @ByHLFullerton.
About the Narrator:
Devin Martin is just starting out as a writer, editor, and narrator. He almost had a career teaching robots how to kill, but escaped at the last moment. He lives with his brilliant scientist of a spouse and they call Cardiff their home. He almost never tweets @devinxmartin.For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #3: Far Fetched Fables Anniversary Episode: Joe R. Lansdale
“The Dark Down There” by Joe R. Lansdale
(Originally published in Dead Man’s Road, October 2010.)
Reverend Jebidiah Mercer smelled them before he saw them. They came out of the brush along both sides of the trail. There were four of them. One had a pistol, one a shotgun, the other two were carrying digging tools, a shovel and a pick.
His hand went swiftly inside his coat, pulled his .36 Navy Colt. Before the fellow with the shotgun could lift it, the Reverend shot him right between the eyes, spraying blood and brains out the back of his head in a mess that looked like vomited strawberries.
A pistol shot whizzed by Reverend Mercer’s head. He shifted in the saddle and fired twice, aiming low and letting the revolver buck. The first shot caught the shootist in the balls. The second shot found a spot on the center of his chest and nestled... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #4: Far Fetched Fables No 31 Kim Westwood and Amanda Downum
“Nightship” by Kim Westwood
Here the linen smells of mice and the men of old boots. I lie beneath a slaughter of ferals, cushioned in my guilty comforts and waiting for this black-caulked hulk to sink; but it glides like death along the briny channels of a shrouded city half-submerged – a Grey Zone, neither sea nor shore.
Past my porthole other nightships slice the mist thickening on dank canals. Blunt-nosed, barnacled, they nudge from lock to lock, deals done and deliveries made under cover of perpetual fog.
Kim Westwood developed her distinctive visual prose style while working as a theatre performer and deviser. Darkly poetic, her stories have a preoccupation with humanity’s capacity for destruction and equal instinct for survival. Most are set in an alternative reality Australia. Of this she says: ‘My imagination has a chemical reaction to living on Terra Australis, and responds strongly to its particular... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #5: FarFetchedFables No 162 Michael Ezell
(Originally published in Fantasy for Good.)
-- Has the life of a righteous man been taken?
-- We find that it has, Excellency.
-- And what shall become of the killer?
-- He shall carry the bones of the righteous man until their weight does cause his death.
The setting sun reflected in a million rose-hued sparkles across the surface of the Glass Desert. The slit in Traveler’s eyeshades cut everything down to a thin panorama. A glittering expanse of heat glass, marked only by the crushed tracks of the Apostates’ road. In those tracks traveled the wagon he’d been following for days. Weeks, really. With a start, he realized it was more like months. Wasn’t it?
Through the shimmer to his right, he saw either a town, or a mirage that would lead him astray, wasting precious time.
Michael Ezell is a former US Marine who now works as a project coordinator for an Emmy-winning makeup effects shop in Southern California. Michael's story "The Good Food", from Beyond... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #6: Far Fetched Fables No. 51 Lev Grossman and Adam Browne
First Story: “Space Operetta” by Adam Browne
It’s the tenthday of March in the year of our lord 1453 and Cardinal Bessarion is lofting on rotors of gold and spun silver like some godlet in his Romanesque conch shellicopter, dazzling his way over the Alps, from upper airs to lower, purposed to drop in on Vienna, where he visits with Frederick III, Holy Emperor of Germany, Prussia and Austria.
And although Frederick’s happy to see the Cardinal, receiving him with splendours of many types and fruits artificed to exhale mists of auspicious reverie, the Cardinal, who’s not much of a merry andrew at the best of times, is in no mood for such diversions. He’s here to request German military assistance against the Turks, who took Constantinople the month before…
Inconstant Constantinople! — a city due for a name change, thinks the Emperor, who has got a trifle less hail-fellow-well-met. He’s very (shall we say) respectful of Turkey, mainly due to what he’s been... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #7: Far Fetched Fables No. 73 Laird Barron
Story: “Blood and Stardust” by Laird Barron
Three years later, as I hike my skirt to urinate in a dark alley in the slums of Kolkata, my arms are grasped from behind. The Doctor whispers, “So, we meet again.” His face was ruined in the explosion — its severe, patrician mold is melted and crudely reformed as if an idiot child had gotten his or her stubby fingers on God’s modeling clay. I can’t see it from my disadvantaged perspective, but that’s not necessary. I’ve been following him and Pelt around since our original falling out.
Speaking of the Devil… Pelt slips from the shadows and drives his favorite dirk, first through my belly, then, after he smirks at the blood splattering onto our shoes, my heart. He grins as he twists the blade like he’s winding a watch.
“— and this time the advantage is mine.” I laugh with pure malice, and die.
Laird Barron is the author of several books, including The Croning, Occultation, and... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #8: Far Fetched Fables No. 100 Michael Moorcock
“While the Gods Laugh” by Michael Moorcock
(Originally published in Science Fantasy, October 1961.)
One night, as Elric sat moodily drinking alone in a tavern, a wingless woman of Myyrrhn came gliding out of the storm and rested her lithe body against him.
Her face was thin and frail-boned, almost as white as Elric’s own albino skin, and she wore flimsy pale-green robes which contrasted well with her dark red hair.
The tavern was ablaze with candle-flame and alive with droning argument and gusty laughter, but the words of the woman of Myyrrhn came clear and liquid, carrying over the zesty din.
“I have sought you twenty days,” she said to Elric who regarded her insolently through hooded crimson eyes and lazed in a high-backed chair, a silver wine-cup in his long-fingered right hand and his left on the pommel of his sorcerous runesword Stormbringer.
“Twenty days,” murmured the Melnibonéan softly, speaking as if to... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #9: Far Fetched Fables No. 136 Paul Jessup and Effie Seiberg
(Originally published in Crossed Genres.)
I keep it clean under the bed. I go swoosh swoosh swoosh and suck the dust away. Jimmy can’t have a dusty bed. It would make him sick. I don’t want Jimmy to get sick. I love Jimmy. So I keep it clean.
Jimmy’s been gone for three nights.
Every night, we used to do our special thing. I’d slooooowly start to move. Make the whisperiest of sounds. And Jimmy would pretend to be frightened and he’d scream. His mom would come back into his room and look under the bed. “There’s nothing there, honey,” she’d say. But Jimmy and I would know different. It’s our secret, even though he can’t keep the secret even the littlest bit. But that’s OK. I always forgive him, because I love Jimmy.
Effie Seiberg is a fantasy and science fiction writer. Her stories can be found in the Women Destroy Science Fiction! special edition of Lightspeed magazine (winner of the 2015 British Fantasy Award for Best Anthology), Galaxy's Edge, Analog... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #10: FarFetchedFables No 182 Karen Traviss
“The Man Who Did Nothing” by Karen Traviss
(Originally published in The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror: Seventeenth Annual Collection.)
Hursley Rise, May 2
There was a boy – five, maybe six – sitting on half a discarded mattress by the kerb as Jeff drove down the road. At first he thought the child was trying to open a bottle of pop, but the closer he got, the better he could see that the boy was making a petrol bomb.
Jeff slowed to a crawl and then stopped. He didn't dare switch the engine off, not here. A daffodil nodded in the grass at the side of the road and the whine of a power-drill competed intermittently with music throbbing from an open window. The normality didn't reassure him; he opened the car window about six inches.
The child was trying to thread some rags into the neck of a beer bottle, pausing every so often to hold the bottle up to the light, sigh, and resume his task of working the rag into the neck of the bottle with his index finger.
For a moment Jeff thought about getting out and taking the thing from him. Then an older boy in the latest Manchester United tracksuit walked up to the kid and crouched over him, like a protective elder brother, and took the bottle gently from him. He examined the wick, pushed it further into the bottle and handed it back to the kid.
That was how you did it. Then both boys looked up at Jeff, as if moving as one.
"Antichrist! Fuckin' antichrist!" they shouted. And the bottle – unlit, mercifully – arced and crashed onto the road just short of the driver's door. Both boys ran back up the road, not looking back.
Karen Traviss is the author of a dozen New York Times bestsellers, and her critically-acclaimed Wess’har books have been finalists five times for the Campbell and Philip K. Dick awards. Her latest novels, Going Grey and Black Run, are military thrillers set in the present day. Her comics work with Batman, Gears of War, and G.I. Joe has earned her a broad range of fans, and she also writes games. A former defence correspondent, newspaper reporter, and TV journalist, she lives in Wiltshire, England. You can find information on her works at karentraviss.com.
About the Narrator:
Ron Jon is a writer, narrator, and singer. He has written and published children’s books, scripts and screenplays for animation and live action, and musical lyrics and libretti. He is a student of strange phenomena/parapsychology, horror, and children’s literature. Ron Jon writes short weird fiction under the name ‘the spectre collector’. See his disturbing videos and hear more of his work on ‘the spectre collector’ blog. Download his disturbing albums on ‘the spectre collector’ Bandcamp site. His latest recordings are 'the car in the woods' and 'the stationmaster’s cottage'.For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #11: Far Fetched Fables No. 95 Aidan Moher and Kat Otis
Flash Fiction: “An Old Warrior’s Final Countdown” by Kat Otis
(Originally published at Every Day Fiction.com.)
Ten spiraling stone steps led down to the dungeon. I dashed down them, the flames of the wall sconces wavering with the wind of my passage. Although I still held my sword at the ready, I found no one left to fight. When I reached the bottom, I sheathed my sword and drew my lock-picks instead.
Nine brave warriors had given their lives to get me this far. One by one they had fallen to our enemies’ arrows and bolts, spears and axes, swords and daggers. If the tower had been better defended, we would never have stood a chance. But if the tower had been better defended, more obviously significant, it also wouldn’t have taken us so long to find.
Eight weeks it took, for me to realize this squalid tower on the edge of the king’s... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #12: FarFetchedFables No 165 Valjeanne Jeffers and Ed Ahern
(Originally published in Griots: Sisters of the Spear.)
The Bini warriors crouched in the high grass of the savanna. They'd passed the Fula borders a mile back, and now were a hundred yards from the Adobe mud city. At the forefront they were armed with sword and shield, behind them the archers readied their bows.
General Chinua led the army. To his right was Nandi, a tall woman with braided hair, high cheekbones and full lips and her ebony-skinned husband, Sula, his head shaved in the traditional Bini custom. To Chinua's left was Nandi's older brother, Tomi.
A wide gateway led into the Fula kingdom. It was deserted.
Valjeanne Jeffers is a graduate of Spelman College, a member of the Carolina African American Writer’s Collective (CAAWC) and the author of ten books: Including her Immortal series, and her most recent Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective series. Her first novel, Immortal, is featured on the Invisible Universe Documentary time-line, and her novella, The Switch II: Clockwork, was nominated as best eBook novella of 2013 by the eFestival of words. Her writing has been published in numerous anthologies including The City: A Cyberfunk, 60 Black Women in Horror Fiction, Steamfunk!, Genesis Science Fiction Magazine, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (as Valjeanne Jeffers-Thompson), Griots: A Sword and Soul Anthology, Liberated Muse I: How I Freed My Soul, PurpleMag, Drumvoices Revue, 31 Days of Steamy Mocha, Griots II: Sisters of the Spear, Possibilities, Black Gold, and most recently Fitting In: Historical Accounts of Paranormal Subcultures and Sycorax's Daughters. Valjeanne is also one of the screen writers for the horror anthology film 7 Magpies (in production). Preview or purchase her novels at vjeffersandqveal.com. Support her on Patreon at patreon.com/ValjeanneJeffers.
“The Heartless Boy” by Ed Ahern
(Originally published in Strangely Funny II.)
Tom Willman was born experiencing no strong feelings, in fact no feelings at all. No love or affection. No hate or dislike. Certainly no fear. The closest he came to emotions were pleasing or displeasing sensations.
Tom’s parents, desperate for a smile, had him tested for a litany of diseases, but he proved to be uncaringly above average. They quit trying to show Tom affection by the time he was six, and by the time he was ten were providing only what was legally required of them.
Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He has his original wife, but advises that after 49 years they’re both out of warranty. He works the other side of writing at Bewildering Stories, where he sits on the review board and manages a posse of five review editors. Ed’s had 140 stories and poems published so far, and a series of articles on fly fishing. His collected fairy and folk tales, The Witch Made Me Do It, was published by Gypsy Shadow Press. His novella The Witches Bane was published by World Castle Publishing, and his collected fantasy and horror stories, Capricious Visions, was published by Gnome on Pig Press. Ed’s currently working on a paranormal/thriller novel tentatively titled The Rule of Chaos. Visit his website at swampgasworks.com and at Twitter as @bottomstripper.
About the Narrators:
Aminat Badara is a budding writer and aspiring on-air-personality. She loves reading and has a weird penchant for collecting hardcover notebooks and mugs. When she's not writing or trying to be superhuman, she's either looking for Xs to solve, seeing movies, or getting her heart broken by Arsenal FC. Every once in a while, she puts up posts on meenahsthoughts.wordpress.com. You can find her on Twitter as @09_Eleven.
Anthony Babington is a voice in the internet’s head, who looks almost, but not quite, exactly how you expect him to. Having escaped from the sinister forces of Texas, he has retreated to an ingeniously disguised bunker in a secure, undisclosed location in Burnsville, Minnesota. His life goal is to someday annoy Norm Sherman into letting him voice a part on Escape Pod,... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #13: Far Fetched Fables No. 105 Jon Michael Kelley and David Annandale
“Wednesday’s Child” by Jon Michael Kelley
(Originally published in Father Grim’s Storybook.)
“Good morning, Miss M.”
The voice, lecherous as a dank cellar draft, seemed to travel low to the ground, as if slithering out from beneath a rock. She instantly froze, the spoon halfway to her mouth. She’d heard that voice once before, here on this very same glade, and knew that it originated from a primal and universally shared nightmare. Her skin, pupils, every follicle of hair reacted protectively as icy adrenaline surged to oil her limbs. She dared not turn around, as she knew with all certainty that what had crept upon her was a lethal, liquid-black grotesquery unparalleled in her world.
Highly venomous, but not a snake. Not any reptile.
“Sorry to interrupt your breakfast,”... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #14: Far Fetched Fables No. 53 Robert E. Howard
Story: “The Tower of the Elephant” by Robert E. Howard
“You are no soldier,” hissed the stranger at last. “You are a thief like myself.”
“And who are you?” asked the Cimmerian in a suspicious whisper.
“Taurus of Nemedia.” The Cimmerian lowered his sword. “I’ve heard of you. Men call you a prince of thieves.” A low laugh answered him. Taurus was tall as the Cimmerian, and heavier; he was big-bellied and fat, but his every movement betokened a subtle dynamic magnetism, which was reflected in the keen eyes that glinted vitally, even in the starlight. He was barefooted and carried a coil of what looked like a thin, strong rope, knotted at regular intervals. “Who are you?” he whispered.
“Conan, a Cimmerian,” answered the other. “I came seeking a way to steal Yara’s jewel, that men call the Elephant’s Heart.”
Robert E. Howard is considered by many as the father of the sword and sorcery genre. Born to a traveling country physician in... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #15: Far Fetched Fables No. 111 Julie Frost
Featured Story: “The Cow & The Beanstalk” by Julie Frost
(Originally published in Azure Valley, April 2013)
Once upon a time, I was unfaithful to my fiancée. That went… aye, about as well as you’d expect.
“You traitorous varlet!” Mary screamed at me.
“Please, beloved! This isn’t what it looks like — ” I dodged the chamberpot she flung at my head. Fortunately, it was empty. Unfortunately, this was in fact exactly what it looked like.
“With my own sister?”
Katherine, the sister in question, waved a languid hand.
“You should be pleased with how long it took me to wear him down. Quite noble, your young man, ‘struth. I finally had to bespell him before he’d give in, and even that wasn’t easy.”
Mary growled, a noise I’d never heard her make before.
“You’ve always hated me, witch, and... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #16: FarFetchedFables No 135 Sharon Shinn
(Originally published in Elemental: The Tsunami Relief Anthology: Stories of Science Fiction and Fantasy.)
I sat at the back of the dark tavern at the table that, in the past five years, had come to be known as mine. Even on the days when I did not bother to leave my house, or leave my bed, no one sat in this booth except me. The townspeople knew better, and strangers who made the mistake of sitting in my place would be told politely by Samuel that the table was reserved. I was the only one who ever sat there, and Samuel was the only one who would approach me while I was in possession.
I idly shuffled my zafo cards and began laying out an unspecified fortune. It would be my own, of course; these days, I did not read for anyone except myself. And even then, I was rarely satisfied with the pictures I saw in the cards.
Sharon Shinn has published 26 novels, one collection, and assorted pieces of short fiction since her first book came out in 1995.... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #17: Far Fetched Fabes No. 104 John R. Fultz and C.L. Holland
First Story: “When the Harlequin Dances” by C.L. Holland
(Originally published in Bards and Sages Quarterly, January 2010.)
The bells rang out over the city. They sounded mournful, at odds with the carnival brightness in the streets below me.
I was perched on the ledge halfway up the Azielto Tower, watching as the city folk thronged through the streets to find the best spot to see the Harlequin Parade. A better view could be had from higher up the tower, but to go any closer while the bells rang was to risk deafness. And madness, so the stories said.
C.L. Holland is a British writer of fantasy and science fiction, and winner of Writers of the Future. Sometimes she writes poetry under an assumed name. She has a BA in English with Creative Writing, and MA in English, and likes to learn things for fun. She lives with her... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #18: FarFetchedFables No 187 Samuel Marzioli
“Penelope's Song” by Samuel Marzioli
(Originally published in The Third Spectral Book of Horror Stories.)
Penelope gazed through her bedroom window, mesmerized by the motion of the night. Flowers trembled, grass ruffled and trees swayed, flailing their branches. The sight of it unsettled her. In fifteen years she hadn’t learned much about the world, but she did know this: when the wind was absent like it was tonight, a garden wasn’t supposed to move an inch. It could only mean one thing; the Gnasher had returned.
Samuel Marzioli is an Italian-Filipino writer of mostly dark fiction. His work has appeared in numerous publications and podcasts, including The Best of Apex Magazine (2016), Shock Totem, Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show, and Pseudopod. For more information about his current projects, check out his blog at marzioli.blogspot.com.
About the Narrator:
Margaret Essex lives “the good life” on a small piece of rural New South Wales, Australia, with an amazing man, a couple of pets, all the usual biting and stinging critters that make great horror stories for their visitors, and several rambunctious wombats."
For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #19: FarFetchedFables No 141 Filip Wiltgren and Mark Finn
(Originally published in Grimdark #9.)
The king lies in his big bed under the crimson covers, and dreams of freedom. The bed is not his, not the way the grasses of the savanna were, but he must sleep in it. It is the king's bed, and he is the Crimson King, and he has no choice.
He had no choice when he went into the military at thirteen. He had no choice when he shot his commander and formed his own band at nineteen, and he had no choice when he led his men against the soldiers of the Witch King at twenty-six. Now he's an old man lying in a dead man's bed, dreaming of life as a young boy sleeping on the sandy ground.
Filip Wiltgren is a writer and tabletop game designer based in Sweden. He's held jobs ranging from coal loader to martial arts teacher -- which are a lot more impressive on paper than in reality -- and his publications range from Nature to Daily Science Fiction. When he isn't writing he spends time with his wife and kids. For... For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy
Rank #20: FarFetchedFables No 166 Scott Huggins
(Originally published in Sword and Sorceress 30.)
The phoenix fell.
Its sobbing death cry silenced by a coat of ravening flame, it corkscrewed to earth, bleeding dirty white fire across the dusk.
What struck the cliff face above our heads was a ball of charred meat. We ducked the searing gobbet of flesh. Only a little pile of ash and bone was left, rapidly whitening, like charcoal.
I looked at Tywin, who stood sucking his teeth and polishing his great stonebow. He dropped the remaining stones to the earth, unanointed by Trelesta’s unguent.
“Well, shit,” I said finally.
Scott Huggins grew up in the American Midwest and has lived there all his life, except for interludes in the European Midwest (Germany) and East (Russia). He is currently responsible for securing America’s future by teaching its past to high school students, many of whom learn things before going to college. His preferred method of teaching and examination is strategic warfare. He loves to read high fantasy, space opera, and parodies of the same. He wants to be a hybrid of G.K. Chesterton and Terry Pratchett when he counteracts the effects of having grown up. When he is not teaching or writing, he devotes himself to his wife, their three children, and his cat.
About the Narrator:
Andrea Richardson is a British singer and actress. With extensive stage and film performances to her name, she began narration and voiceover work in 2014 but enjoys using her existing skills in a different way. You can find Andrea at andrea-richardson.co.uk and on Facebook." For information regarding your data privacy, visit acast.com/privacy