The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine. Each week Escape Pod delivers science fiction short stories from today's best authors. Listen today, and hear the new sound of science fiction!
AUTHOR: Holly Schofield NARRATOR: Adam Pracht HOST: Norm Sherman Two Steps Forward first appeared in the anthology Scarecrows edited by Rhonda Parrish Extra music is "Stack O' Lee Blues" performed by Ma Rainey and Fats Waller and His Orchestra (both in the public domain) Discuss on our forums. For a list of all Escape Pod stories, authors and narrators, visit our Wikia Thank you for visiting us on Facebook and Twitter about the author... Holly Schofield travels through time at the rate of one second per second, oscillating between the alternate realities of city and country life. Her fiction has appeared in Lightspeed's "Women Destroy Science Fiction", AE, Unlikely Story, Tesseracts, and many other publications throughout the world. For more of her work, see hollyschofield.wordpress.com. about the narrator... Adam Pracht lives in Kansas, but asks that you not hold that against him. He works full-time as the public relations coordinator at McPherson College, where he also received his master's in higher education administration in spring 2016. He's excited to get his life back. He was the 2002 college recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy award for writing about the disadvantaged and has published a disappointingly slim volume of short stories called Frame Story: Seven Stories of Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Horror & Humor which is available from Amazon as an e-Book or in paperback. He's been working on his second volume - Schrodinger's Zombie: Seven Weird and Wonderful Tales of the Undead - since 2012 and successfully finished the first story. He hopes to complete it before he's cremated and takes up permanent residence in an urn. Two Steps Forward By Holly Schofield I eased myself down off the running board of the '28 Hudson sedan then laid a hand on the hood in mute sympathy for its overheated pistons. A quick buttoning-up of my topcoat and a tug on my fedora and I felt ready to approach the farmhouse. The old woman on the veranda watched me as I drew close. Fly-away gray hair surrounded a narrow, clever face, faded housedress atop rubber boots, she was as much of a hodgepodge as I used to be. The late model Stewart Warner radio perched on the windowsill shimmied with "The Spell of the Blues". I hummed along as the saxophones swooped and soared. The old woman fingered the jumble of items on her lap as if looking for a weapon and I stopped a few feet from the bottom step of the porch. "Afternoon, ma'am." I tipped my hat, not too far, and put my hands in my pockets. "I won't take up much of your time. Your husband built that famous automated scarecrow, am I right?" At her tightening mouth, I quickly added, "I'm not a reporter, just an admirer. I saw that scarecrow ace the dance marathon at the Playland Pavilion in Montreal last winter. Truly hep to the jive." The ballroom's mirrored walls reflecting the graceful moves of the dark-suited figure, hands as clever as Frisco twirling a chiffon-clad partner-a sight worth seeing, all right. The old woman grunted and picked up a dirty rag. She poured something golden and syrupy over it from a pickle jar, and began rubbing a coaster-sized metal disc--a flywheel? a gear?--with more vigor than necessary. The sun beat down on my hat and heavy coat. Manitoba in August could cook a person's innards. Common courtesy would be to invite me onto the porch. She said nothing. I did as she'd expect and walked over to the shade of the big maple that crowded against the railing. When she finally spoke, her voice grated like sand in a pocketwatch. "Yup, he built that thing." The words hung on the dust-filled air. She put down the disc and squinted into the shade where I stood. "He's dead and gone. I think you mebbe know that." She'd lied with ease. Getting her to do what I needed would be harder than mastering the Lindy Hop[...]