Moved

7 May

Just a reminder that we’ve moved to http://skinner.fm

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FlashPulp.com

27 Mar

We’ve moved! Please find us over at http://flashpulp.com

FP144 – The Glorious: Key, Part 1 of 1

23 Mar

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and forty-four.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, The Glorious: Key, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Ladies Pendragon.

Find out more about their Pendragon Variety Podcast at http://pendragonvariety.com/

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight we come across an odd conversation at the edge of the Valhalla’s eternal warfare.

 

Flash Pulp 144 – The Glorious: Key, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

The stranger hadn’t noticed Leroy “Cutter” Jenkins belly-crawling through the rice paddy, and Cutter was nearly on top of him before the large man started out of the reverie he’d been engaged in while reclining against the dirt that held the shallow water.

Leroy felt some kinship for the man, as he was not unfamiliar with becoming lost in thought while staring into the unchanging blue sky that blanketed the daytime portion of the endless fight and feast cycle that was Valhalla. His opponent’s beard and moustache, made up of stringy patches, also brought old high school chums to mind.

The man fumbled for his weapon – an eighteenth century broadsword – then noted the grin on Jenkins’ face and sat down heavily.

“Hi. Name’s Moe – if you don’t shoot me, I’ll share some of the deer-flank that I saved from last night’s feast.”

“I could shoot you, then take it,” Cutter replied, making it an obvious joke by tucking away his rifle and taking a seat on the mud.

Moe smiled as he responded.

“Do it and I’ll be sure to bleed all over it before I go.”

The GloriousIt was fine meat, as always, and both men were soon speaking over greasy fingers.

“If you’ll excuse my saying so,” said Leroy, “you don’t have the face of someone who lived a life full of combat.”

“Oh – I was in the military, certainly, but I was a computer technician,” replied Moe. “I wasn’t bright enough to design systems or engineer missiles, but I could jockey a keyboard like no one else – but it is a lengthy story.”

Cutter waved towards the sounds of gunfire drifting to them from the east.

“I certainly don’t have anything better to do.”

Moe nodded, coughed, then began:

“The trouble in my country had begun when I was very young, and for much of my childhood I lived with my mother, overseas. When she came to a point where she could no longer stand to be away from the rest of her family, we moved back. Qalat was a poor area, but the things I’d learned brought attention, and I was soon ushered into our ragged army.”

He plucked at the hilt of his weapon, never lifting the blade from the muck.

“Much like this, our weapons were largely cast-offs, and acquired cheaply. Still, the world is eager to supply an angry hand, and our little tinpot eventually found his fist filled with missiles which could strike his enemies down from many miles away.

“Qalat was not a particularly nice place, as I mentioned, and there was a boy, whom we called Bulldog, who made my transition back a misery. His youth was spent punching anyone smaller than himself, and I was regularly the outlet for his frustrations. Oddly, however, once I’d been torn away from the familiar to conduct my military service, I found him to be one of the few whom I spoke with regularly – he had been assigned to the same command as myself, but, where I was a technician, he was one of what we referred to as “the doormen”, thugs who did not associate with the computer people.

“Although Bulldog and I continued to hate each other, our relationship changed. Often we would exchange quick snatches of gossip as we passed, items from home, or theories regarding future actions that the separate sections were not privy to. He would always end the talk with abuse, as if I needed reminding that I shouldn’t think him a friend. It was not cute in a comedic sort of way, it was simply mean.”

Moe licked his fingers, tossing away a stray bone.

“Before I died, we were on high alert, dealing with what seemed like an endless series of rebellions. It wasn’t the first time I’d been made to key in the commands necessary to prepare the array of missiles which lay at the far end of my computer network, but I had never actually fired one of the expensive death-dealers.

“That night I finally received an order to do just that – to flatten Qalat, no less.

“I couldn’t do it

“We’d always known the doormen weren’t on hand for our protection, but for rough encouragement, and when it was obvious I wasn’t carrying out the extensive typing that I ought to be, Bulldog approached.

“”It’s home,” I said in a whisper, trying not to raise the attention of the others.

“”So?” was his reply, and he followed it with a twisted lip which told me that whatever conversation we had exchanged was certainly not an excuse for friendship. He spoke loudly, and the situation became obvious to everyone seated in front of a glowing display, or standing at the entrance, rifle in hand.

“Bulldog was quickly ordered to inform me of my duty, and I informed him of what I thought of his obligations. He shouldered his rifle, removed a pistol from his belt, and held it against my head, saying it was my last warning.

“My response was not voluntary – it is a hard thing to allow a wasp to land on your forehead without reflexively swatting it away. With that act of defiance, I had no option but to continue on with my small rebellion, and I stood from my chair. Bulldog fired his sidearm once into the floor before I’d gotten hold of his hair, then I thrust his face into the sharp electrical mouth of my computer monitor, just as I was shot in the back. His smoking, jerking, dance, was my last earthly sight.”

There was a rare break in the constant din, as if the distant combatants wished to pay a moment of respect, which Moe punctuated with a throaty burp.

“I do not honestly know if I saved any lives in Qalat, but I do know that I’ve found myself here.”

Cutter nodded, and both men reclined, groaning at the satisfaction of their full bellies.

They were still staring into the cloudless sky as dusk began to fall.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

Future Slice

23 Mar

A miner climbs on excavated rocks after a giant drill machine broke through at the final section Sedrun-Faido, at the construction site of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel March 23, 2011.This is a quick grab from BoingBoing, but I defy anyone to look at this image and deny we live, at least partially, in the science fiction future which we were supposedly promised.

(Click the photo for the full size, it’s worth it.)

Cult Of Personality

23 Mar

Asherah Goddesses

Asherah’s connection to Yahweh, according to Stavrakopoulou, is spelled out in both the Bible and an 8th century B.C. inscription on pottery found in the Sinai desert at a site called Kuntillet Ajrud.

“The inscription is a petition for a blessing,” she shares. “Crucially, the inscription asks for a blessing from ‘Yahweh and his Asherah.’ Here was evidence that presented Yahweh and Asherah as a divine pair. And now a handful of similar inscriptions have since been found, all of which help to strengthen the case that the God of the Bible once had a wife.” – Discovery News

It’s always interesting to see these odd bits of history rise up from the dust.

I sometimes feel like humanity has left itself an array of sticky notes, hidden in books and behind pictures, and then forgotten about them; or, with items like this, the glue has gone dry, and the thing has fallen down to lay beneath a La-Z-Boy that rarely gets moved while vacuuming.

Anyhow, I mention it because my guess is that these aren’t so much massive theological discoveries, as they are the remnants of early fanboys. This, to me, reeks of a situation you’ll find common in the depths of geek-havens: “Buffy/Asherah is so strong and beautiful, but Superman/Yahweh is wicked powerful. If only we could bring the two together somehow!”

When a fanfic like that catches on, you might find entire (web/archeological) sites dedicated to it, and both the clergy, and the trufans, tend to have the same reaction – “Sacrilege!”

Flash Pulp 143 – The Murder Plague: Community, Part 3 of 3

22 Mar

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and forty-three.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, The Murder Plague: Community, Part 3 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Ladies Pendragon.

Find out more about their Pendragon Variety Podcast at http://pendragonvariety.com/

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, Harm Carter finds himself suddenly in a trust-building exercise, while attempting to avoid the homicidal urges of Hitchcock’s Disease.

 

Flash Pulp 143 – The Murder Plague: Community, Part 3 of 3

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

I drove the Escalade north, skirting the city, and pulled to a stop at Grant’s overlook. The spot was poorly maintained at the best of times, and park services had obviously been abandoned early in the ongoing cataclysm. The open, cracked, cement wore a crown of tall-grass, and the picnic table, along with its adjoining trash barrel, stood as lonely islands amongst the growth.

Jeremy, the first out, was eager to exit the vehicle and hunker down on the peeling bench. Alyssa, the blond woman, who I’d originally thought was Minnie’s mother, was the last to leave. She seemed to be lost in thought while scrutinizing my face, and it was only once she realized the teen-aged girl was already on the pavement that she also slid across the leather seats and dropped her slender legs to the ground.

I must admit, there was a temptation to simply roll up my window, wave a merry goodbye, and depart the area. We’d gotten this far without anyone making an effort to impale another with some makeshift weapon, and I was hesitant to risk breaking the streak.

The Murder PlagueStill, I let the engine die, then tucked the keys into my pocket. The doctor had attached a thin Swiss Army Knife to the chain, and I fumbled with it while I strolled to the group. I wasn’t eager to see if its tiny blade, and quite a bit of gumption, would be enough to overcome the strangers I’d found myself surrounded by.

We conducted a second round of introductions, more formally this time, then spent a moment in silence, watching the east end of the city as it was eaten by fire. I couldn’t process that the distant smoke was the cast off of the flame below – it felt as if I was watching my existence drifting high into the blue, where it was blown away in stringy-wisps.

It was Johanna who broke the silence, with a “Jeepers.”

I hadn’t had much opportunity to talk to the old girl at that point, and I didn’t know what to make of her floral print dress and utilitarian haircut. I hadn’t learned of her hidden flask yet.

“Well, we have a ride, just like you wanted,” Jeremy said, turning to Tyrone.

I wasn’t sure if it was a threat, or an assumption.

The codger harrumphed.

“You’ve been wanting to take a drive to this forgotten make-out spot?” I asked, raising an eyebrow at the odd pairing.

“What? No I mean -” It was Minnie, the teenager, who cut Jeremy short.

“Can we get a lift?” The girl used her interjection into the conversation as an excuse to get away from the slathering hugs that Alyssa had made repeated attempts to wrap her in.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure I could say no – to buy time, I mentioned that it didn’t strike me as likely that any specific corner of the apocalypse would be less exciting than the others.

“We want to head to the army roadblock at the state line,” she replied.

Now, you have to understand that the concept of a military blockade held a lot of implications in my mind. I’d spent no few hours walking the perimeters of such outposts, often while the starving folks I was on hand to protect moaned at the gate. As I stared down at the angry red patch creeping over the city, though, I was nothing but welcoming to the news that somewhere the old uniforms still held some starch.

Before I had a chance to grow misty-eyed with patriotism, Alyssa broke in.

She’d positioned herself by the now open trunk, and I couldn’t see what she might be holding in her fist.

“I don’t think we should go with him,” she spat, attempting to lock her free-hand’s fingers around Minnie’s elbow. “He just wants to take her away from us!”

Her traveling companions exchanged a glance that told me they’d come to the same conclusion that I had – the high tone she was using brought to mind the sort of squeaking self-assurance that a child gets when they think they’re in command of information unknown to anyone else.

Alyssa caught the pity in her friends’ eyes.

That’s when she beaned me with my own can of StarKist tuna.

It hurt, certainly, but I was glad that the puck-like container was what she’d come up with, and not, say, a handgun.

As I cradled my bleeding temple, Alyssa snatched up a a bottle of Ragu, raised it in a two-fisted grip, and rushed me.

It was Minnie who tripped her.

We had no rope, but the doc had left a varied collection of cellphone chargers in his glove compartment, and, as Jeremy and I used their retractable chords to create restraints, the others held her in place.

It was while watching her shrink in my rear-view mirror, writhing and screaming atop the picnic table, that I realized I was stuck with them: not because I liked them, but because I needed people around me willing to do the same if, and when, I too went over the edge.

 

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

Name Calling

22 Mar

I started this as a tweet, but the idea didn’t have the required room:

One day terms like lame, gay, retarded, etc., will be replaced with a new set of society’s perceived weaknesses and wickedness – eventually someone may be laggy, or a banker, just as they were once a beslubbering, fat-kidneyed, flax-wench.

Disappearing Act

22 Mar

Mercado de Sonora - from wikimedia: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mercado_de_Sonora_M%C3%A9xico_DF_20_04_07.jpg

Mercado de Sonora (Sonora Market) is a mercado público, or city-established traditional market, located just southeast of the historic center of Mexico City in the Colonia Merced Balbuena neighborhood. – wikipedia

There are situations, like children and the script to last night’s episode, which eventually leave your control to take on a life of their own, a life that can bring anxiety and heartbreak.

If only we lived in a world like Will Coffin’s, in which we could turn to magic for a solution – well, supposedly, the people who frequent Mercado de Sonora have just such an advantage.

Mercado de Senora - from flickr: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/4/4248588_7fd5106bc5_o.jpg

The two types of products, herbal medicines and magical/occult items, are not completely separate[…] The variety of medicinal plants sold is vast and include avocado leaves for inflammations, chiranthodendron for the heart, jacaranda flowers for the stomach and more. There is also dried rattlesnake, which is considered a medicine against cancer, dried skunk to “strengthen the blood,” and starfish. Plant items more strongly associated with magic and religion include crosses of ocote wood for good luck, chains of garlic to ward off evil and deer eyes to protect against the “evil eye.” – wikipedia

The herbs provide an interesting selection, and I’d be interested to see if there was any science behind some their usages, but none listed are quite what I’m shopping for.

The market sells occult items related to magic (white and black), pre-Hispanic religious and magical traditions, Santería, the cult of Santa Muerte, shamanism, and various others […] [i]tems for sale include amulets, horseshoes, candles in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors, with many of the colors have very specific functions, gold dust, black salt, powders of unknown ingredients, “water of Saint Ignatius” to ward off unwanted attention, aromatic lotions and soaps, many of which are related to love spells and more – wikipedia

No, still nothing to correct a nappy narrator; I suppose I’ll just have to stick to invoking the ancient rites of my people:

Welcome to Monday

21 Mar

Feeling a knot of tension in your stomach, brought on by the knowledge that you’re still standing on the welcome-mat of a long week ahead?

Worried about that outstanding item on your schedule? Annoyed by the chipper attitudes of your workmates?

Might I suggest the soothing visage of a chimp in a tux?

Chimp in a tux - life.com

From the wikipedia article on the Belle Vue Zoological Gardens:

In 1893 a chimpanzee was purchased from another of Wombwell’s Travelling Menageries in London. The four-year old chimpanzee, Consul, was dressed in a smoking jacket and cap and puffed on a cob pipe; he frequently accompanied [zoo owner] James Jennison to business meetings.

I’m sure Consul must have been a master negotiator in the boardroom, but, as often happens, his heir had a more artistic bent – from the same article:

Consul proved to be exceptionally popular, and after his death on 24 November 1894, the Jennisons immediately obtained a replacement, Consul II, who played a violin while riding a tricycle around the gardens, later graduating to a bicycle.

Consul II

Sunday Summary: The End Of Gnesbit

20 Mar
Jury Rigged

Jury Rigged

Oh Gno!

Oh Gno!

Elusive

Elusive