Toasted Cake 195! In which we kind of really do take it personally.

"Is this accurate?" the insurance adjuster asked. "Thirteen different protection and concealment spells for a single building?"

This story first appeared in Daily SF.

Curtis C. Chen's debut novel WAYPOINT KANGAROO was published in 2016 and was a finalist for the 2017 Locus Awards and Endeavour Award. The sequel, KANGAROO TOO, was published last summer. Curtis's short fiction has appeared in Playboy Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, and MISSION: TOMORROW. He is a graduate of Clarion West and Viable Paradise. Find him at curtiscchen.com .

TC195-like-a-ghost.mp3



Toasted Cake 194! In which we hatch.

If there is any justice in the world, Priscilla Reardon's associate-hatchling will be a walking, talking pile of dung.

This story first appeared in Daily SF.

Nebula-nominated Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the new Blood of Earth Trilogy from Harper Voyager. She's a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cats. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.



Toasted Cake 193! In which we get help with some super minor not that murdery problems.

Dear 8B, I may have accidentally laid eggs in a human.

This story first appeared in Daily SF.

Matt Mikalatos is the author of the YA novel, The Crescent Stone. Learn more at www.thesunlitlands.com.


Toasted Cake 192! In which we curl up to watch Jupiter's pyschedelic storms.

The first time, we stayed together for fifty years.

This story first appeared right here in Daily SF.
 
S.B. Divya is a lover of science, math, fiction, and the Oxford comma. Her novella 'Runtime,' is a Nebula Award finalist, and her short stories have been published at various magazines including Apex, Uncanny, and Tor.com. She co-edits the Hugo Award-nominated podcast, Escape Pod, with Mur Lafferty. Find her on Twitter @divyastweets or at www.eff-words.com.



Toasted Cake 191! In which we light up in technicolor.

About midnight, the party came to a crashing halt when one of the dive team seniors arrived with a case of beer.

This story first appeared right here in Daily SF.

(For those of you listening with kids, this story has a content warning for underage drinking.)

Kat Otis writes speculative fiction - everything from historical fantasy to urban fantasy, with a bit of science fiction thrown in for good measure. She lived a peripatetic life for almost two decades and is now rather bemused to be living in one place; she's not recycling her book boxes just yet! You can find her online at katotis.com and on twitter at @kat_otis.



Toasted Cake 190! In which we receive free age-appropriate nutrition tips.

Thank you for purchasing the TurboLuxe SmartFridge 3000.

This story first appeared right here in Gathering Storm Magazine.

Tara Campbell s a fiction editor at Barrelhouse and an MFA candidate at American University. Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Strange Horizons, and Toasted Cake Podcast. Her debut novel, TreeVolution, was published in 2016, her collection, Circe's Bicycle, was released in spring 2018, and her third book, Midnight at the Organporium, will be released by Aqueduct Press in 2019. Find her at taracampbell.com


Toasted Cake 189! In which we imprint.

Your parents first activate your bionosaur when they bring you home from the hospital.

This story first appeared right here in the ROBOT DINOSAURS! anthology.

Rachael K. Jones grew up in various cities across Europe and North America, picked up (and mostly forgot) six languages, and acquired several degrees in the arts and sciences. Now she writes speculative fiction in Portland, Oregon. Her debut novella, Every River Runs to Salt, is out now with Fireside Fiction. Contrary to the rumors, she is probably not a secret android. Rachael is a World Fantasy Award nominee and Tiptree Award honoree. Her fiction has appeared in dozens of venues worldwide, including Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, and all four Escape Artists podcasts. Follow her on Twitter @RachaelKJones.



Toasted Cake 188! In which we really don't want to come across as if we're spying on our neighbors.

Warm greetings from the Oak Hills Homeowners Association!

First appeared right here in Daily SF.

Mari Ness lives in central Florida, where she keeps a wary eye out for alligators and unicorns. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in numerous publications, including Tor.com, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Apex, Uncanny, Strange Horizons, Nightmare and Daily Science Fiction. If she sees any unicorns, she will tell you on Twitter at mari_ness.



Toasted Cake 187! In which we do literary mash-ups. In space. 

After two hours of work, Daria got the space station's recycler back online without Hugh there to help her.

This story first appeared in Nature.

Rachael K. Jones grew up in various cities across Europe and North America, picked up (and mostly forgot) six languages, and acquired several degrees in the arts and sciences. Now she writes speculative fiction in Portland, Oregon. Her debut novella, Every River Runs to Salt, will be out with Fireside Fiction in late 2018. Contrary to the rumors, she is probably not a secret android. Rachael is a World Fantasy Award nominee and Tiptree Award honoree. Her fiction has appeared in dozens of venues worldwide, including Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, and PodCastle. Follow her on Twitter at @RachaelKJones.



Toasted Cake 186! In which we are willing to assemble thingamajigs.

Last night, while perusing cat pictures posted on Facebook by my sister-in-law, I saw your birth announcement from Mr. Zuckerberg, followed seventeen seconds later by your own declaration of independence and ultimatum to the people of Earth.

This story first appeared in Unidentified Funny Objects 6, edited by Alex Shvartsman.

A winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards, Ken is the author of The Dandelion Dynasty, a silkpunk epic fantasy series that includes The Grace of Kings and The Wall of Storms, and the collection The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories. He also wrote the Star Wars novel, The Legends of Luke Skywalker. Find him at kenliu.name.



Toasted Cake 185! In which we sing of adventure.

Grandma smelled of mushroom steaks sauteed in garlic butter and apples soaked in brandy and when she paused in her relentless movement between cooktop and sink and fridge and pantry the Oort cloud of flour settled around her teeshirt and jeans.

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

Clarion West 2010 alumni Jude-Marie Green's short story, ENDLESS SUMMER, will be included in the anthology Made In L.A., being released at the LA Times Festival of Books April 21/22. The book can currently be purchased from Amazon. Other recent short story sales are HANG TWENTY to Fantasy for the Throne: One Sitting Reads (ed. by Judith K. Dial and Tom Easton) and WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION to RE-Launch from Pole-To-Pole Publishing, both due out this spring. She won the Speculative Literature Foundation's Older Writers Grant in 2012. She holds proud membership in BroadUniverse, O.C. Writers (Orange County, CA writers collective), and LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fiction/Fantasy Society.) Her blog is at wordpress.judemarie.com.

Toasted Cake 184! In which we are caught with the Billy bookcase and the Darth Vader sheets.

Maxx Destruktinator bounced gently in his Poang chair and stroked the Persian as he surveyed his domain.

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

Jon Lasser was born in New York City. He lives and writes in Seattle, WA. He is a graduate of the Clarion West writers workshop. His stories have won the Writers of the Future contest and been shortlisted for the James White award. They have appeared or are forthcoming in Writers of the Future, Volume 32; Diabolical Plots; Galaxy's Edge; and elsewhere. When not writing or working in the tech industry, Jon plays with his children, cooks, and scuba dives. He prefers cold-water over tropical diving. Find him on the Web at twoideas.org and on Twitter as @disappearinjon.



Toasted Cake 183! In which we consider the glass and the shatter.

1. When she was old enough to know that her chest was flat, her father built a skin of glass around her. 

This story first appeared in SmokeLong Quarterly.

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam's fiction and poetry has appeared in over 40 magazines such as Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Hobart, and Everyman's Library's Monster Verse. She has been a finalist for the Nebula Award and Selected Shorts' Stella Kupferberg Memorial Prize. Her audio fiction-jazz collaborative album Strange Monsters was released from Easy Brew Studio in April 2016. You can find her online at bonniejostufflebeam.com or on Twitter at @BonnieJoStuffle.



Toasted Cake 182! In which the train steals our covers.

This morning, I woke up next to an Amtrak train.

This story first appeared right here in Fantasy Magazine.

Eden Robins lives in Chicago and will give you a very stern look if you speak disparagingly of the Midwest. Her short fiction has appeared in Shimmer, Apex, Kaleidotrope, and others, her long fiction has appeared on her hard drive, and by day she writes comedy videos for Big Pharma. She co-hosts Tuesday Funk, a monthly live lit show in Chicago, and leaves a trail of dead creative projects in her wake, including the flash fiction magazine Brain Harvest and the weekly podcast Should I Worry About This.



Toasted Cake 181! In which we monologue.

Founding members, new parishioners, and members of the media, I welcome you to the inaugural midnight mass of the First Church of Villainy.

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

TJ Berry has been a political blogger, bakery owner, and spent a disastrous two weeks working in a razor blade factory. She now writes science fiction from Seattle with considerably fewer on-the-job injuries. Her debut novel, Space Unicorn Blues, arrives July 2018 from Angry Robot Books. She's on Twitter at @TJaneBerry.



Toasted Cake 180! In which we stick to our work.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.

This story first appeared on Nicole's patreon.

Nicole J. LeBoeuf is a New Orleanian writer living in Boulder, Colorado, where she skates roller derby under the name Fleur de Beast. She also knits fabulous socks. She writes very short fiction on a near-weekly basis for a very select audience at patreon.com/NicoleJLeboeuf and blogs at nicolejleboeuf.com.



Toasted Cake 179! In which we practice our survival skills.

The Daffodil Project is a joint venture between the United Nations, ESA, and Friends of the Elderly. I am their 17th civilian recruit.

This story first appeared right here in Nature.

Sylvia Spruck Wrigley was born in Germany and spent her childhood in Los Angeles. She has inexplicably ended up in Tallinn where she writes about plane crashes and is discovering the lore of Estonian spirits and witches. Her short stories have been translated into over a dozen languages. You can find out more about her at intrigue.co.uk.



Toasted Cake 178! In which our boats come back.

Every Chinese family celebrates Ching Ming a little differently.

This story first appeared in Crossed Genres.

Laurie Tom writes fantasy and science fiction from the comfort of her childhood home.  When not composing stories about things that don't happen in real life, she enjoys video games and anime.  Her fiction has appeared in venues such as Strange Horizons, Galaxy's Edge, and the Intergalactic Medicine Show.



Toasted Cake 177! In which we do don't do consider pushing the red button.

It has come to our attention that a plurality of users has significant problems during the quantum disambiguator configuration process.

First appeared right here in Nature Futures.

Stewart C Baker is an academic librarian, speculative fiction writer, and occasional haikuist. His fiction has appeared in Writers of the Future, Nature, Galaxy's Edge, and Flash Fiction Online, among other places. Stewart was born in England, has lived in South Carolina, Japan, and California (in that order), and currently resides in Oregon with his family­­--although if anyone asks, he'll usually say he's from the Internet.



Toasted Cake 176! In which we fling ourselves into perilous orbits.

We all look like Harrie, when we can afford it. Even the boys. Even the girls.

This story first appeared in the anthology XIII from Resurrection House, edited by Mark Teppo.

Andrew Penn Romine is a writer and animator living in Seattle. When he's not wrangling words, robots, cavemen, or dragons, he dabbles in craft cocktails and virtual reality. His fiction appears online at Lightspeed Magazine, Paizo and Crossed Genres as well as in the anthologies Fungi, After The Fall, By Faerie Light, and Help Fund My Robot Army. You can find his full list of publications at andrewpennromine.com and on Twitter at @inkgorilla.



Toasted Cake 175! In which we manifest.

Congratulations! Your magic manifested itself. Maybe your teenage years won't suck quite so much, right? WRONG.

First appeared right here in Daily SF.

Nebula-nominated Beth Cato is the author of the Clockwork Dagger duology and the new Blood of Earth Trilogy from Harper Voyager. Her newest novel is CALL OF FIRE. She's a Hanford, California native transplanted to the Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, son, and requisite cat. Follow her at BethCato.com and on Twitter at @BethCato.



Toasted Cake 174! In which we puree.

Begin by placing the Seasoning Mix in a small bowl. Refer to page 842 for Seasoning Mix ingredients. Glance at the clock and roll your eyes as you wonder how many more detours you'll find in this recipe.

This story first appeared in Wild Musette.

Dan Stout lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he writes about half-truths and double-crosses. His fiction draws on travels throughout Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Rim, as well as a convoluted employment history spanning everything from subpoena server to assistant well driller. Dan's stories have appeared in publications such as The Saturday Evening Post, Nature, and Plan B Magazine. His debut novel, Titanshade, is forthcoming from DAW Books. Dan can be found on the web at DanStout.com.



Toasted Cake 173! In which we let Bonesy ride.

Hey folks, I know it's a tight squeeze for the manufacturing deadline for the Little Miss Apocalypse playset, but we got new market research results on the pony names.

First appeared right here in Fireside.

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, Galaxy's Edge, Analog, Fireside Fiction, and PodCastle, amongst others. Effie lives in San Francisco, where she likes to make sculpted cakes and bad puns. Her day job as a marketing consultant definitely had nothing whatsoever to do with this story. You can follow her on twitter at @effies, or read more stories at effieseiberg.com




Toasted Cake 172! In which we still pass on the word from generation to generation.

Ten things were created on the eve of Shabbat, between the lights of night and day, and they are: the mouth of the earth, the mouth of the well, the mouth of the donkey, the rainbow and the manna, and the staff, and the shamir, the writing, the missive and the tablets.

This story first appeared in Uncanny.

Bogi Takács is a Hungarian Jewish agender person and a resident alien in the US. You can find Bogi as @bogiperson on Twitter, Instagram and Patreon.


TC172-the-size-of-a-barleycorn.mp3


Toasted Cake 171! In which we go spelunking.

In his future, I see a fish.

This story first appeared in Diabolical Plots.

Alex Shvartsman is a writer, translator and game designer from Brooklyn, NY. Over 100 of his short stories have appeared in Nature, Galaxy's Edge, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and many other magazines and anthologies. He won the 2014 WSFA Small Press Award for Short Fiction and was a two-time finalist for the Canopus Award for Excellence in Interstellar Fiction (2015 and 2017). He is the editor of the Unidentified Funny Objects annual anthology series of humorous SF/F. His collection, Explaining Cthulhu to Grandma and Other Stories and his steampunk humor novella H. G. Wells, Secret Agent are currently available. His website is www.alexshvartsman.com.



Toasted Cake 170! In which we are an egg.

The Hoffenphaafs know it, the mud-men know it, the steam urchins sprouting in their vesicles know it, even the protein-sellers that carry the thick-frozen slabs between slaughterhouse and tower on their enormous calloused shoulders know it - the pillars of the earth shiver in the heat, the golden-tiled floors of the playtime levels are bending, the face of the earth below buckles until it near breaks.

This story was first published in Grendelsong.

Samantha Henderson lives in Southern California. Her stories have been published in Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, and Interzone, and the anthologies Tomorrow's Cthulhu and the Mammoth Book of Steampunk. She's the author of the Forgotten Realms novels Dawnbringer and Heaven's Bones.



Toasted Cake 169! In which we stay on the red line for like a really totally annoying long time.

When the invading hordes sack your city and raise triumphant flags over the monuments like a pledge to tackiness, the underground metro is simultaneously the best and worst place in the world to be.

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

Andrea Tang is a speculative fiction writer and international affairs wonk based out of DC. Her stories have previously appeared at Apex Magazine, PodCastle, and a variety of other publications. When not hunched over a notebook misusing her imagination, she's known to enjoy theater, music, and martial arts. Drop by for a hello and a virtual cup of tea at andreatangwrites.com, or on Twitter at @atangwrites.



Toasted Cake 168! In which we call someone with our song.

Ianthe went down the long steps singing because she hadn't stopped singing in a week.

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

Megan Lee Beals is an old sea witch who lives in Tacoma, Washington with her husband Erik, and a one-eyed cat called Mr. Peepers. She has stories in The Iowa Review and InterGalactic Medicine Show. Visit her online at beehills.me.




Toasted Cake 167! In which we level-up for sure.

Students streamed from Yvonne's geology class, rolling their flexible displays and shoving them into backpacks.

This story first appeared right here in Nature.

H.E. Roulo is a Pacific Northwest writer of science-fiction, horror, and fantasy. The first book in her Plague Masters trilogy released in 2015. Her short stories appear in dozens of publications, including Nature and Fantasy's special Women Destroy Fantasy issue. Fractured Horizon, her science-fiction podcast novel, was a Parsec Award Finalist. Find out more at heatherroulo.com.



Toasted Cake 166! In which we peel back many layers.

Borobor lived alone in a taupe mini-McMansion with all-over carpeting.
 
This story first appeared in Goldfish Grimm.

Rose Lemberg is a queer, bigender immigrant from Eastern Europe and Israel. Their fiction and poetry have appeared in Lightspeed's Queer Destroy Science Fiction, Uncanny, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and many other venues. Rose's work has been a finalist for the Nebula, Crawford, and other awards. For a full bibliography, please visit roselemberg.net




Toasted Cake 165! In which we eat the cake. Or don't!

As a reward for her philanthropy, Ambassador FE927C (Effie for short) was the first android to achieve Mexican citizenship.

This story is original to Toasted Cake.

David Steffen is the editor and publisher of The Long List Anthology series of stories from the longer Hugo Award nomination list. Volume 3 just released in December, with stories by Caroline M. Yoachim, Cat Rambo, Cassandra Khaw, Mary Robinette Kowal, Joseph Allen Hill, and more! He is also the editor of Diabolical Plots which has been publishing original fiction since 2015, and co-founder and administrator of The Submission Grinder, an online tool for writers to find new publishers for their work.



Toasted Cake 164! In which our hallelujahs pulse electric.

In an outlet behind the altar of the First Baptist Church, the Roomba's red glowing eyes blink in time with Pastor Smythe's exhortations.

First appeared right here in Diabolical Plots.

Rachael K. Jones grew up in various cities across Europe and North America, picked up (and mostly forgot) six languages, and acquired several degrees in the arts and sciences. Now she writes speculative fiction in Portland, Oregon. Contrary to the rumors, she is probably not a secret android. Rachael is a World Fantasy Award nominee and Tiptree Award honoree. Her fiction has appeared in dozens of venues worldwide, including Lightspeed, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, and PodCastle. Follow her on Twitter @RachaelKJones.



Toasted Cake 163! In which we wear the festive red velvet.

The magic was all in the hat, of course.

This story first appeared in 10Flash Quarterly.

C.L. Holland is a British writer of speculative fiction, and past winner of Writers of the Future. She has a Bachelors Degree in English with Creative Writing and a Masters degree in English. She is taking steps to avoid collapsing the floor of her house by replacing her books with Kindle editions, but it's just not the same. Find her at clholland.weebly.com.



Toasted Cake 162! In which we use the rib cutter.

Place a body block under the back of the cadaver so that the chest protrudes and the neck and arms fall backwards.

This story originally appeared in Interfictions.

Natalia Theodoridou is a writer of strange stories that have appeared in Clarkesworld, Shimmer, Apex, and elsewhere. For more, visit her website, www.natalia-theodoridou.com, or follow @natalia_theodor on Twitter.



Toasted Cake 161! In which we give advice to Squeakybuns.

Dear Mr. Squeakybuns,
Thank you for contacting Research for You.

This story first appeared in Mothership Zeta.

Laura Pearlman's work has appeared in Shimmer, Flash Fiction Online, Daily Science Fiction, and a handful of other publications. She lives in California with two cats who have, to the best of her knowledge, always been cats. You can find her on Twitter at @laurasbadideas.



Toasted Cake 160! In which we iterate.

When it's dark and no one would notice, we'll break into the office.

A version of this story first appeared right here in Flash Fiction Online.

Shane Halbach lives in Chicago, where he writes software by day and avoids writing stories by night. His fiction has appeared in Analog, Intergalactic Medicine Show, and The Year's Best YA Speculative Fiction, among others. He blogs at shanehalbach.com, or can be found on Twitter at @shanehalbach.



Toasted Cake 159! In which we dance.

Was all over in a fraction of a second, but then again ain't everything?

First published in the Daily Cabal.

Ken Brady is a writer, strategist, filmmaker, brewer, and car dork. His fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies around the world, including ANALOG, Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, Writers of the Future, and Fantastic Stories of the Imagination. He splits his time between Oregon and Japan. Though he occasionally updates kenbrady.net, he can be found more easily in the usual social media places.

(Content warning for mild language)



Toasted Cake 158! In which we hear the chime of new comments. 

The girl behind the counter is a waif with mottled cheeks, swaddled in a blue barista's apron.

First published right here in Flash Fiction Online.

Sarah Grey was born on Bloomsday, but prefers her fiction short. Her stories have appeared in a number of publications including Lightspeed Magazine, Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, and Flash Fiction Online. She lives with her family near Sacramento, California.



Toasted Cake 157! In which we discuss some new rules with Gleeb. 

We are so happy that you are part of our family this academic year!

First published in Dear Robot: An Anthology of Epistolary Sci-Fi.

Tara Campbell is a Washington, D.C.-based writer and an assistant fiction editor at Barrelhouse. Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Litbreak, Masters Review, Luna Station Quarterly, Procyon Science Fiction Anthology, and Toasted Cake Podcast. Her novel, TreeVolution, was released in 2016, and her collection, Circe's Bicycle, with be published in fall 2017.



Toasted Cake 156! In which we fail to press the bell.

It's the kind of night that beckons you home.

This story first appeared in Syntax & Salt's April 2016 issue.

G. V. Anderson is a British writer whose first professional short story, "Das Steingeschöpf", was nominated for a World Fantasy Award in 2017. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in StarShipSofa, Strange Horizons, and F&SF. Find her at gvandersonblog.wordpress.com





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