Escape Pod

Escape Pod

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!

Episodes

AUTHOR: M. Bennardo NARRATOR: Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali HOST: Norm Sherman Water Finds Its Level was originally published in Lightspeed Magazine. (May 2013) 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... Matthew Bennardo lives in Ohio. He co-edited the science-fiction anthology Machine of Death, which was a #1 bestseller on Amazon in 2010. He is a partner with Ryan North and David Malki ! in Bearstache Books, the imprint which publishes Machine of Death. A second volume in the series was published in 2013 by GCP. Matthew has also sold short fiction to markets such as Asimov's Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed Magazine, and Shimmer. about the narrator... Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali lives and works in Houston as an oncology nurse. She is married and the mother to three brilliant artistic children. She writes because she loves to and also because she has a story (or two, or three...) to tell. Water Finds Its Level By M. Bennardo "Would you still love me if I were exactly the same," he'd ask, "but was a Civil War re-enactor?" "Shut up," I'd say. "What if I were exactly the same," he'd say, "but refused to eat anywhere except McDonald's?" "Shut. Up." "Or what if I greased my hair with pomade and went tanning every week?" That's when I would give him the death-ray glare. "If you want me to stop loving you right now," I'd say, "you can keep asking those stupid questions." "You know why." "But it doesn't work like that," I'd say. "You can't do those things and still be exactly the same in every other way. If you did those things, you'd be somebody else. So just shut up because I don't want to think about it." # When people asked where I met Roger, I always told the truth. "We met in the Collision," I'd say. Then they'd give me that look that people used to give you when you told them you met somebody online. The look that said you must be reckless or naive or desperate, and that no good would come of it. It got better over time, of course, once more people understood. Once they had to understand. By the time it was all over, I was the weird one-still living a single life, still just one of a kind. And Roger-I guess they understood him better. # It started in the kitchen of my apartment, like a thin spot in the wall or an echo coming through the ventilation ducts. I didn't think anything of it at first since it was the kind of thing you hear in apartments all the time-someone else's private life bleeding through into your living space. Usually it's a murmur at most, a background drone. Sometimes it's suddenly and uncomfortably clear-a laugh or an angry shout that's hardly muffled at all. I just ignored it. It was just somebody who had moved in next door-somebody on the other side of my walls, somebody who had brought their own new sounds that would become partly my sounds too. I knew how it worked. If ever we passed in the hall, we would pretend we didn't hear each other. I wasn't the sort to complain. The walls were thin. My kitchen had an echo. That was all. # That was all, at least, until the day I was pulling a casserole out of the oven, singing some Cher to myself. Too loud, I guess, because suddenly and without warning a man's voice was at my ear. Not through the wall, not above the ceiling, but in the kitchen, at my ear. "All right," it said, in tones of exasperation. "Is somebody there?" I dropped the dish, and the casserole exploded into shards of glass and soggy macaroni. I bolted for the living room, heart poun[...]