Tag Archives: crime

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.

Flash Pulp 142 – The Murder Plague: Community, Part 2 of 3

19 Mar

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, The Murder Plague: Community, Part 2 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 encounters a new obstacle to remaining alive in a world dominated by a homicidal epidemic.

 

Flash Pulp 142 – The Murder Plague: Community, Part 2 of 3

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

 

The wall of heat that was following the five strangers down the road was oppressive, and yet, bless their foolish hearts, they stopped to help me. There was little time for discussion, but, for whatever it was worth, Jeremy took up the hose attached to the Hernandezes, and started spraying the closest wall, while Johanna grabbed Baldy’s, and did the same for the other side.

I was grinning, I must admit. Human kindness can be quite touching when the majority of your interactions with other people lead to a murder attempt.

The remaining three looked up questioningly, having run out of reasonable water sources.

“There’s some food inside, it would probably be a good idea to grab as much as you think is suitable to travel, and relocate it to the trunk of the Escalade.”

To be fair, I wasn’t entirely swept away by their good will – I knew the keys were safely in my pocket.

The Murder PlagueTwo of the group, Minnie, no older than fourteen, and Alyssa, a blond woman just old enough to be mistaken as Minnie’s mother, began to transfer canned goods from my pantry to our escape method.

Through the process of elimination this left the laziest of the bunch, the old man, Tyrone, to make the introductions. After he provided a quick explanation of names, my throat was growing agitated from the heat and smoke, so I invited him up.

Once he’d topped the ladder, I asked the obvious.

“This may sound like an odd question, but aren’t you concerned I’m going to murder you?”

“Well, you had time and opportunity for a better set up than getting us up on your slick roof in hopes of an accident, and, really, no one locked in that whole murder or be murdered mindset shouts hello.” He had a point, but he pushed on with a grisly detail. “I was trying to save my place before it went up as well – you’ll see, as the fire gets closer a lot of these garage doors will burst open and the last of the rats that have been hiding inside, instead of helping you, will abandon ship.”

It wasn’t something I’d considered – frankly, I’d thought Baldy to be amongst the last.

I nodded, sloshing tepid water across the tiles.

“Where do those kind of paranoids lodge? The Bates Motel, I suppose,” continued Tyrone.

He went on, but I don’t really recall the dialogue. Despite the approaching crackle, and the marching pop of backyard barbecues, he’d immediately fallen into a posture that I can only imagine was familiar to his normal life: idle conversation while watching others work.

He talked, and we scurried about, and it all amounted to about the same anyhow: it was obvious well before any flames touched my house that it was a lost cause.

Minnie and Alyssa had joined us by then, helping share some of the brunt of Tyrone’s unceasing prattling, and Alyssa specifically struck me as having a solid handle on how to direct his energies.

“Shut up and do something useful,” she’d said while clearing the final rung onto the roof.

It wasn’t an easy decision – it felt as if I was abandoning the memory of my wife to smolder with the rest of my possessions, and it stung to think that Rebecca, should she ever come looking, would find no home to return to. There was no real option, however, and I could almost hear Kate’s voice, as it had been just before her death, calling me an ornery mule for having waited so long.

It was the grinding of an automatic garage door, followed by the swift departure of a white, bloody-windowed, Lexus, that finally sold me. If even the crazies knew it was time to go, I reasoned, so should I.

“I believe we ought to be rambling on.” I announced, making sure my volume would carry the words to the two still on the ground.

We descended, and began to take up our places within the stolen vehicle I’d so quickly fallen into the mindset of calling my own.

Jeremy was the last straggler, and his reply reminded me oddly of my daughter.

“Screw that man, we can totally do this.”

A small explosion two doors down rained flaming debris across my back-deck, and there was no need for further argument – though he did find reason to complain when he finally arrived at the SUV, as all of the plush leather seats had been occupied.

He’d opened the rear door where Minnie and Alyssa sat, side-by-side, and there was something in his weighing gaze that I did not enjoy.

“You can sit on the old man’s lap,” I said, reaching across Tyrone – who’d presumptively taken the front-passenger seat – and opening the door. I began rolling slowly away from the curb in encouragement.

He hopped in, yanking the handle shut.

As the pair exchanged awkward glances in their new-found intimacy, I peeled away from my doomed lawn, eager to be gone before I could consider what I was leaving behind.

 

(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.

Flash Pulp 135 – Influence, Part 1 of 1

1 Mar

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and thirty-five.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Influence, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the free audio-novella, Boiling Point.

Find out more at http://neilcolquhoun.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 tell a chiller tale, regarding Clifton Wade – a man who finds himself in a tenuous situation.

 

Flash Pulp 135 – Influence, Part 1 of 1

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

 

Clifton Wade leaned against the exit, his eyes locked on the ground, and the sliver of light that was the only illumination in the tiny room.

His breathing seemed to bounce from the ceramic tiles and close walls, in perfect time with the metronome tapping of the dripping sink. He whimpered in the darkness of the bathroom, his left hand solidly locked on the brass knob, and his right on the white, plastic, light switch.

Flooding the room with fluorescence was tempting – so much so that his fingers were sweating. He knew, however, that he couldn’t; if he flicked on the glowing tubes, he would be unable to tell if a shadow passed over the far side of his meager barricade.

Fearful tears stung his eyes.

There was little he agreed with his Mother-in-law on, but now, as he wished himself invisible, her words rose to taunt him.

“Cliffers, you should have that doody-mouth washed out with soap.”

In the apartment beyond, a latch rasped, and the sharp click of a suddenly-released handle brought his lungs to a halt. He brushed aside the pink bathrobe, hanging down the back of the door from a white hook, and pressed his cheek to the cheap plywood.

At first there was nothing, but, after a moment, a dragging tread began to shuffle across the carpet, approaching his hidden position.

The glimmering thread, at his feet, dimmed – grunting snuffling filled its place, and he clenched against the urges of his bladder. Long seconds were measured by the ever-leaking faucet.

With a final snort, the sounds moved further along the hall, and the faint sheen returned to the tiles.

He knew it was only a brief respite.

* * *

ChillerIt had started an hour earlier, while he’d been sharing a breakfast of bran flakes with his wife of twenty years, Vanessa.

“Maybe we could consider looking into a nice place for your mom to go to? I don’t mean like a home with meanie nurses and rude neighbours – I could get a second job and swing one of those fancy golf villas in Florida? Like that pamphlet we got in the mail?” he’d said.

“Oh dear, sweetie! How in the heck can you even start talking like that? Mama doesn’t know any place but ours!”

“Honey-bunches, when you first asked if she could move in, you said it was just going to be for a bit.”

“Darnit: “The keys to patience are acceptance and faith. Accept things as they are, and look realistically at the world around you. Have faith in yourself and in the direction you have chosen.” Mama sent me that quote – I don’t remember who it was by, but it’s on Facebook – and she’s absolutely gosh darned right.”

“I have shown patience – but she… she always tells us what to do. I don’t like spending my evenings watching The Bold and The Beautiful. I don’t want to learn to knit! I don’t like that she picks out what we wear! I don’t think it’s appropriate that she makes me a packed lunch every day for work, and that it always includes stuff I repeatedly ask not to have! I don’t like bananas, however much potassium she may think I’m deficient of!”

“She’s just trying to do what’s good for you.”

“Honestly, honey, I love you, but – she kind of scares me.”

“Jeepers! You’re impossible when you’re like this. Let’s wait till Mama’s here, she always knows best, she can talk some sense into you.”

“Oh, #### off,” he’d replied.

It had just slipped.

Vanessa wasn’t a child – she didn’t say “I’m telling” – but he knew she’d thought it. He could read it on her cockamamie face.

* * *

There was a knock

“Mamas gotta number two. Please don’t be in there much longer, Cliffers. Poopy, or get off the pot, as they say.”

Clifton decided he had no choice but to face his fear.

Picking the knife up from the counter, he blew a kiss towards his wife’s punctured corpse. Her body was smeared in a mixture of Mr Bubble and blood, and lay awkwardly on top of the rubber-ducky patterned bath-curtain which she’d ripped down as he’d chased her into the tub – but he could see none of it in the dark.

He turned the door handle.

 

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.

Flash Pulp 133 – Sgt. Smith and The Rescue, Part 1 of 1

23 Feb

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present: Sgt. Smith and The Rescue, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Flash Pulp on iTunes.

It’s where the magic happens.

To subscribe, click here.

 

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, Mulligan’s father relates the tale of a sudden promotion during his early days in law enforcement.

 

Flash Pulp 133 – Sgt. Smith and The Rescue, Part 1 of 1

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

 

Mulligan,

Let me tell you how I became Sheriff of Mill County.

It was 1956. Things were different back then.

Mill County was a tiny office up north, but they needed the help – there was the sheriff, a good and reliable man, his wife, Ellie, who covered dispatch, Neddy Thompson, Whisky Taylor, and myself.

Ellie was six months pregnant, Neddy was too young to know the difference between his sidearm and his brain, and I was a mute. Worst off, though, was Whisky. Back then you didn’t think of drunks like you do now. People drank, and Taylor was one of those guys who rode out on the macho routine. We didn’t treat him as we should of – that is, with treatment – but he knew all the local riff-raff by their first name, and his hard drinking and stiff breath left everyone looking at him like he was John Wayne. In general it didn’t do to question his slurring too much.

One Sunday morning, though, Whisky and I were out staring at the pavement passing under our wheels, when we received an excited shout from the radio.

“Shots fired at 884 Maple.”

Until then the closest I’d ever gotten to a shots fired call in Mill County was the occasional complaint about someone poaching pheasant in the off-season. Those, at least, we could pass onto the game warden.

On went the lights, and down went the pedal.

Saturday was always a busy night, down on the drag – that’s when the farmers and factory boys would slosh between the two bars that hunkered across from each other at the town’s major crossroads. The Sheriff and Neddy were sleeping off a hard night’s drunk-wrangling, and the nearest alternate back-up was an hour away.

We made a hard stop in front of a one-story bungalow, and Whisky says “I’ll go round back”.

Then I was alone on the dusty cloth seats of the Chevy Bel Air.

Well, hell, my lack of a tongue meant I couldn’t yell a warning as I was approaching the house, but they knew plenty well we were there, as my wobbly partner had felt no need to spare the siren. Stupidity in the line of duty was my bread and butter at that age, so I strolled up the walk like I owned the place. I hadn’t even drawn my gun when I got the warning.

“Hey, you. Yeah, you, broke-mouth – you stay back, or Lady Fillmore will have plenty to complain about.”

I’d gotten to know Dina Fillmore via previous disturbance reports, and Lady wasn’t the term I’d have used to describe her. The wife of Bobby Fillmore – who ran one of the gin joints I mentioned previously – she was known as a stickler, and her ability to find fault in every person, and situation, she encountered, was the stuff of beauty-salon legend.

It was well understood, however, that she was largely passing on the bile fed to her by her own husband, who often left her in such a condition as to require the steady hands of the beauticians to cover her injuries.

I backed up to the road, figuring I’d put the car between myself and the revolver that the voice was waving from behind a curtain.

While I was still taking cover, there came the sound of a scuffle, then a shot. My weapon was definitely in my hands by then, but there wasn’t much I could do. If I kicked in the door, I’d likely just catch a bullet in the belly, and the drawn shades made it impossible to know what was going on inside.

I started tapping out a Morse code update for Ellie, as quick as I could, trying to tell her to wake the Sheriff. It was so painfully slow.

Before I was done, Whisky came stumbling over the fender.

“Bobby shot me!”

He showed me his arm – it was bleeding, but barely, and his tone was one of indignation, not massive internal injury. I wondered then, and I wonder now, if he maybe just cut himself in his panic to get out of the line of fire.

“Either of you jerks comes waltzing up here again and I’ll start aimin’ straight,” came the voice from the house.

We didn’t have many options – we couldn’t even lean on the local firemen, as they were just an all volunteer squad of chicken-pluckers from the packing plant. We kept the rubberneckers in their houses, and waited for someone with a higher pay-grade to arrive at the scene and make a decision.

Whisky tried screaming a bit of a dialogue back and forth, but the gunman would have none of it. The sound of Dina’s complaints came shredding through the window screen, but, at that distance, her voice was nothing but a string of pleading shrieks.

Despite his complaints, Whisky refused to leave the scene. I suspect he was mostly concerned about his long-term reputation. It didn’t shut him up any.

The Sheriff was pretty blurry eyed when he pulled-up, with Neddy in tow, and when I beeped to let Ellie know, she told me, very seriously, to take care of him.

“Galdang, galdang,” he said.

“C’mon out, Bobby,” said the Sherrif.

“Screw you,” replied Fillmore.

The Sheriff raised his aviators, and gave his eyes a good rub. That’s when the waiting began.

The day grew warmer, then colder. We sat in the car to rest our legs; we stood up and paced. We put on jackets, and took turns refilling our two thermoses of coffee from the Chinese place on Elm. Eventually some highway guys, from Walmont, came to help out – they brought donuts, and joined us in our vigil.

The boys kept trying to talk to him, but the later it got, the more we became worried about his intention to end the situation with a bullet. Neddy was sure it was going to be in Dina, but I’d suspected for a while that the whisky-dispensor’s shack was soon to be the odd-man-out – that the town had one bar too many for the size of the market – and it seemed to me that he was working himself up to ending his problems at his own hand.

I passed about a few notes saying as much, and, despite a round of jibber-jabber from Neddy, which included a suggestion he go home and retrieve his own hunting rifle, the Sheriff decided he was going to sweet talk his way into the house.

After a long hour of creeping and gentle conversation, he was in.

Nothing more happened till dawn.

There were no cellphones then, and, as stupid as it was, we didn’t really think to leave many messages with dispatch. It was just a case of nothing going on, and not thinking it through.

Both patrol cars were off the lot, so Ellie came in the family sedan that they’d invested in for after the baby’s arrival. She didn’t stop for the mail box, or the neighbour’s picket fence – she barely even stopped for the porch. We should have been at hand to prevent her from such a stupid thing, but she was so fast, even for being so pregnant.

I’d never thought of her as a big woman, but she’d been born into raising a cow herd on her parent’s plot, and she swung her belly like a wrecking ball as she bounded up the steps.

Lack of sleep, and the kind of high-powered chemicals that make a woman’s body fit to house a child, gave her voice a level of command usually reserved for ranking celestial beings and four star generals.

“Bobby Fillmore, you step out onto this porch immediately.”

If I were him, I’d have swung the door wide while begging for redemption.

Ellie was a woman ahead of her time – she’d always insisted on uniform slacks to work in, and wore a pair of Doc Marten boots, just like those of us who rode around in the cruisers.

The still unborn Avery, who would eventually come out weighing eight pounds and ten ounces, gave her the extra momentum necessary to kick through the locked door, revealing the captor within.

He may have been a suicidal nutter, but he’d been raised at a time when it was impolite to point a loaded gun at a pregnant woman – or maybe he just didn’t think a woman of her size, and state, would be a problem – whatever the case, he held the weapon across his chest as he addressed her.

“What?” he said.

She didn’t bother responding, she just laid him low with a swift kick.

As Bobby writhed on the floor, she snatched up his pistol. She disappeared further into the house for a moment, then we saw her coming back, directing her husband like an errant child, and pulling Dina along behind her.

Whisky was yelling from where he’d stationed himself as a lookout, but, by then, he’d decided his wound was probably fatal, and had taken to openly drinking away the pain of his already healing scab.

Neddy and I rushed in, but the fight was basically over. We handcuffed Bobby and hauled him away.

In the end, the fallout was that the Sheriff quit. He told me he couldn’t risk doing his job if it put Ellie in the danger of someday attempting another rescue. Whisky was offered pension if he retired early on his supposed gunshot wound, and Neddy was deemed too young – and eager to retrieve his rifle – to take on the mantel. That left me.

For for three weeks, I was the new interim sheriff in town. Before proper elections could be held, however, the powers-that-be juggled things, and the highway patrol out of Walmont were extended to cover the area.

With half of the town’s major problem centers closed while Fillmore was serving time, I couldn’t blame them.

My brief term made a great resume point, though – and I’d had enough of backwaters – so your mom and I were soon on our way to Capital City.

Anyhow, enough of one old man’s prattling, Jeopardy isn’t going to watch itself.

Love,
Dad

 

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.