Escape Artists


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Author Topic: EP635: After Midnight at the ZapStop  (Read 3117 times)


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on: July 06, 2018, 04:58:42 PM
Escape Pod 635: After Midnight at the ZapStop

AUTHOR : Matthew Claxton
NARRATOR : Eric Luke
HOST: Tina Connolly


When the guy with the horns came in, I knew it wouldn’t be a good shift.

He scowled when the ZapStop’s doors refused to slide open for him. Ignoring the late-hours doorbell, he pounded one meaty fist on the shatterproof polycarbonate. The young woman beside him, hands tucked into the pouch of her hoodie, shifted uncomfortably.

I considered leaving them standing in the parking lot, but much as I’d like to have the ten p.m.-to-six a.m. shifts uninterrupted by customers, they were kind of the point. I hit the door release and let them in.

Under the bright store LEDs, I could see the forehead ornaments were new. Big, curling ram’s horns, straight out of a Rocky Mountain wildlife doc, joined across his forehead to give him a perpetual frown. Faint pink lines traced the graft below his hairline and just above his eyebrows where the whole mess had been slapped into place.

Typical frat boy, in other words. At least horns were less awkward than last year’s fashion for antlers. We’d lost a few ceiling tiles to those.

“Help you with anything?” I said.

Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!


  • Lochage
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Reply #1 on: July 16, 2018, 03:08:59 PM
This was a fun story with science fiction elements nicely integrated.


  • Matross
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Reply #2 on: July 16, 2018, 05:11:21 PM
Great story. I liked the characters, the futuristic tech, and the ending.


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    • Benjamin C Kinney
Reply #3 on: July 17, 2018, 09:26:31 PM
Love this story (of course) - and I used it as a springboard for some discussion of neuroscience, based on the story's offhand line about "mirror neurons!" Read and be educated, if you so desire.

Escape Pod assistant editor, SFF author, neuroscientist.


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Reply #4 on: July 18, 2018, 02:32:41 AM
I signed up specifically so I could comment on this story. It has everything I love in a good story. The science is cutting edge; the people easy to relate to; the world realistically adversarial yet the overall perspective optimistic and playful. I don't generally compare authors because each one is unique unto themselves, but I will say that elements of this story remind me of what I love about early Neil Stephenson. I am so happy to see so many wonderful science fiction writers step up to carry the torch. It's a genre that seems to constantly renew itself; that's why it's nearly all that I read. Thank you for sharing it with me.


  • Lochage
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Reply #5 on: July 24, 2018, 12:15:17 PM
I really enjoyed this story, too.
Nice to have a laugh along with the SF and the (very well integrated) science.

Jethro's belt

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Reply #6 on: July 30, 2018, 06:00:06 PM
I was going to say something, but brujaja already summed it up, I especially liked " world realistically adversarial yet the overall perspective optimistic". I will add that there is something about stories set in convenience stores that scores, even though I seldom am in one, they have a certain otherworldly feel already.


  • Hipparch
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Reply #7 on: September 11, 2018, 01:41:27 PM
Good, fun story. Exactly the kind of good and fun I expect from EP!!


  • Matross
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Reply #8 on: September 27, 2018, 02:24:28 AM
I'm always a fan of sticking it to the man, this story was very enjoyable. Ditto Jethro's Belt's comment about stories taking place in convenience stores, some of my favorite serialized fiction use that as a setting (Such as SpaceMart!)

"To understand a cat you must realize that he has his own gifts, his own viewpoint, even his own morality."


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Reply #9 on: March 02, 2019, 03:46:30 AM
The closing quote from Dante Hicks was perfect, and it's a testament to the story that it did not occur to me sooner than when Tina shared it.

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”