Tag Archives: Flash

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.

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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 141 – The Murder Plague: Community, Part 1 of 3

16 Mar

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, The Murder Plague: Community, Part 1 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 141 – The Murder Plague: Community, Part 1 of 3

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

 

The exhaustion from my initial foray into Murder-Plague survival was overwhelming, and, when sleep finally found me, I was out like a college freshman on the opening day of spring break. The rest did me good.

When I awoke, my immediate thought was for my wayward daughter.

I knew Doc Henley, rotting away in his living room, had little use for the Escalade he had once used to putter between his home and his practice, so I stepped into the crisp morning, noted that I had no paper awaiting me on the doorstep, then crossed the street. On my way, I caught a strong whiff of smoke, and had an opportunity to get a sunlit look at the blackened plank-teeth that made up the remnants of the residence five down from my own. I didn’t realize then how lucky I’d been that the place had guttered, instead of sharing its fiery bounty with its neighbors.

I started my search of the doctor’s bungalow by ransacking every room that didn’t contain the man I’d killed, then, once I was sure that it was the only option, I entered his death chamber. His corpse lay across his white leather couch, just as I’d left it, and he put up little fuss as I rifled his personal materials – even when we were forced to become more intimate than I was comfortable with. Now, so long after, I can still tell you with confidence that his keys were in the right-hand pocket of his khaki slacks.

The Murder PlagueThe second excursion was nothing like the first. I’d learned my lesson, and didn’t allow myself to get caught up in the business of others. In truth, while passing the few pedestrians brave, or sick, enough to risk the sidewalks, I had a terrible urge to gun the engine – but I was just as worried that someone might take it as an act of war, and start tossing bullets my way in plague-fueled paranoid-reflex.

It’s also worth mentioning, however, that politeness seemed generally at an all time high, as a survival instinct. There were no tailgaters during Hitchcock’s – or, if there were, they’d been quickly eliminated via unnatural selection.

The house in which my daughter had been squatting was empty when I arrived. I loitered for a while, hoping she’d return, but it was obvious that Becky had taken everything of use and departed. I sat on her borrowed bed for a while, considering the situation.

Had Rebecca left because, somewhere in her infected brain, she knew that I would return, and she didn’t want to be responsible for my death? Or was she lurking, awaiting an opportunity to do me in?

Eventually the thoughts chased me home, where they were immediately displaced by an entirely different set of concerns.

When I’d stepped onto the roadway that morning I’d assumed the tickle at my nose was the smouldering pile down the street – as I approached, this poor reasoning was corrected by a wall of smoke marching out of the west.

I parked the Escalade on the pavement, facing east.

The issue was the wind. The smoke, and the flame, were being carried along by a stiff breeze, and, as I clambered over my rooftop with the garden hose, hoping to dampen things enough to keep my suburban castle safe, the exploding propane tanks of my neighbours’ barbecues provided a sort of “from the lightning till the clap” method of measuring the time I had till the fire was upon me. It was obvious within an hour of my return that the situation was getting out of hand.

As I stood on the soaked shingles, pondering my predicament, Mr Baldy came bursting from his home. Not his real name, of course, but I’d never introduced myself to the family on the side of the house opposite the Hernandezes’. As I raised a hand in greeting, I realized that he was alone – that is, without his wife or trio of sons. In response his own fingers went to a gun tucked into his belt, and it took no further encouragement to send me hurtling to the far side of the peak.

I was pleased when the next sound to reach me was his car starting, and not the clanking of a ladder.

Once he was well gone, I picked up my rubber spout and took stock of my corner of the apocalypse.

The air was getting thick, and dancing red was clearly visible beneath the gouts of black that blanketed the western horizon. Before I could decide it was a good time to follow Baldy’s exit, I noticed a cluster of five, prowling down the road like traumatized cats.

They moved slowly, with a motley array of weaponry in their fists, and their heads were constantly craning about to scan the surrounding doorways.

It says something about how quickly I’d become acclimatized to a terrible situation that I was surprised to see a group of people not occupied with attempting to kill each other.

With Baldy in mind, I damned my idiotic need for company, then bellowed a hello.

 

(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 140 – Bearing, Part 1 of 1

12 Mar

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and forty.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Bearing, Part 1 of 1


Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the artistic variety of the Nutty Bites Podcast.

Find out more at http://nimlas.org/blog/

 

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 enter the home of a family in transition – a family on the cusp of a life-altering move.

 

Flash Pulp 140 – Bearing, Part 1 of 1

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

 

Carlos was pulled into consciousness by the smell of cooking bacon, and the sound of Aretha Franklin. Both were drifting into the bedroom from the distant kitchen, and he took a moment to bask in their potent combination before damning his late start to the day and climbing out of bed.

He hadn’t risen that way in at least a year’s worth of Sundays – and now it was two weeks till their move to Texas, and his wife’s new job, and he considered the swelling brass and frying pork a hopeful sign.

Violet smiled as he entered the kitchen, and Carlos found himself tearing slightly as he closed the distance to hold her.

They took two brief dance steps together before she was forced to attend her preparations.

“Haven’t seen you smile like that in a while,” she said, scooping a double-helping of flapjacks onto a plate.

“I haven’t been staring down the barrel of a meal this big since Billy and I forced the Chinese buffet place, down on third, into bankruptcy.” He took in the pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, sausages, and the leaning tower of toast. “Seems like you’ve had a busy morning.”

“Just feeling good – and hungry. Yum.”

Billy dragged his heels onto the linoleum, rubbing at his eyes and tugging at the shirt-hem of his dinosaur pajamas.

“Hey, pal,” said Violet. “You look pretty pooped – have a bad sleep?”

“Yeah.” The five year old yawned. ”It was loud all night.”

The boy’s mother and father exchanged an embarrassed smirk, and Carlos began to transfer some of the bounty onto plates.

* * *

ChillerHe awoke to rough shaking.

The clock told him it was just after three in the morning.

“I heard something,” said Violet.

“Huh,” he pinched the sleep from his eyes, “Can you be more specific? Was it a murderer something? A burglar something? A Billy something?”

A month earlier, they’d discovered that their son had taken up the habit of climbing from under his covers and spreading his various collections of Lego, cars, and Batmen, across his floor. Finally sick of his denials, they’d un-boxed their baby monitor, and set it in his room so they might keep tabs on his behaviour.

“I think he’s out of bed and tossing his stuff around. It’s quiet now, but I’d swear that he tipped over his big bucket of trucks a minute ago.”

As they lay staring at the bar of red lights which would flare at any noisy provocation, he began to doze.

He started to a slamming sound, familiar to any afternoon on which Billy was too excited to carefully close his toy box.

Carlos’ brought his feet to the floor, and the annoyance of being turned out of his own bed sped his footsteps down the hall.

Grasping the door handle, he started his lecture.

“Buddy, what do you think -”, even through the night-murk, it was obvious Billy was sleeping peacefully – and yet Carlos still found his foot impaled on the rear-fin of a rogue Batmobile.

“Dad?” asked Billy, his slumber having been interrupted by the truncated chiding.

“Uh, nothing pal,” replied Carlos. “Lie back down, we’ll clean this up tomorrow.”

Violet was asleep by the time he’d finished his detour for a stolen mouthful of milk from the jug, and he thought it best to wait till morning to discuss the possibility of their son’s sleep walking.

Despite the comfort of his sheets, and the warmth of his wife’s nearby body, something sat wrong in his stomach, and it was a long two-hours, spent with his ears strained for any disturbance, before he nodded off.

* * *

Three uneventful days later, with Violet once again on her side, snoring, Carlos was watching Letterman and preparing for sleep.

“Goob, goob, goob,” said the monitor.

In a single, silent, motion, he stood from his bed and reached for a t-shirt. With a steady wrist, he noiselessly exited.

“Buh,” replied the monitor.

Under the photographic eyes of distant cousins and cherished aunts, a moment’s creeping brought him to Billy’s door, where he set his ear against the thick layer of stickers they’d allowed the boy to apply.

There was a pause, then a thud, as if something had been thrown against the nearest wall.

With a twist and a push, the dim glow of the hall’s nightlight followed him inside. The area was once again in a state of disarray, but he didn’t bother to wake Billy.

He’d finally recognized a familiar pattern in the chaos.

The next day he re-packaged the monitor. He also made a point of adjusting his cellphone’s alarm, so that he might rise early to tidy, before Violet woke.

* * *

Three days prior to their departure date, Carlos’ eyes were black with a lack of sleep. Using packing as an excuse, he’d transitioned the equally unrested Billy into the living room, setting him up on the couch for the final phase of the move. The child slept better, and it gave his father an opportunity to sort and discard action figures, as necessary.

A new concern had made itself known on the previous morning, when Billy, carrying a single, gnawed, plastic-arm, had approached Carlos.

“I can’t find the rest of this guy, and look, I think something’s been chewing on him!”

“Huh,” he’d replied, noting the watchful eye of his wife. “Must be a rodent.”

“That’s disgusting,” Violet had stated.

“Can I have it as a pet?” Billy had asked.

“I’ll get some mousetraps,” was Carlos’ reply, He’d pocketed the damaged limb, then added, “good thing we’re moving.”

The issue was that, as the hours ticked down, it wasn’t just the Bat-appendage – nearly every plastic and pliable surface within the boy’s room began to display the nicks and dents of toothy wear.

Once the job was complete, and the last of the Transformers posters, and Star Wars colouring books were sealed, Carlos used buying steaks for supper as an alibi, then deposited every box that had Billy written in thick black marker across its top at a nearby Salvation Army depot.

* * *

Twenty four hours before their scheduled takeoff time, Carlos slammed his son’s former-bedroom’s entrance, and picked a fight with Violet. It wasn’t hard – they’d both been on edge over the impending relocation, and his lack of sleep had done little to brighten his mood.

“What is your problem?” she shouted.

“You know,” he replied. He knew she didn’t.

“You’re being ridiculous. I’m taking Billy to Mom’s for the night, but you’re staying here.” The whole family had intended on embarking from Violet’s Mother’s, but he was happy to cut open the tape on a few boxes to locate bedding if it meant she was leaving immediately.

She did.

When he heard the screen door bang to a close, he let out a deep breath.

Entering the kitchen, he began to fill a bucket with soapy water. As he closed the tap, he paused, thinking he might have heard a distant crying – he was relieved to be wrong. Retrieving a rag, he carried his load to the room he’d been defending.

Carlos could live with Violet’s rage – he knew it was temporary, and he’d much rather take the blame for griping than divulge to his wife that he suspected the spirit of the girl she’d lost during birthing, fourteen months earlier, was slowly aging inside the house.

As he scrubbed at the looping and aimless marker scrawl that now adorned the walls, he began to weep for the child he felt he must abandon for the sanity of his remaining family.

 

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 139 – Coffin: Condolences, Part 1 of 1

9 Mar

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Coffin: Condolences, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the artistic variety of the Nutty Bites Podcast.

Find out more at http://nimlas.org/blog/

 

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, Will Coffin, urban shaman, takes his roommate to a bar of ill repute, to meet a man with a volatile history.

 

Flash Pulp 139 – Coffin: Condolences, Part 1 of 1

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

 

Three weeks after she’d moved in, Will Coffin boarded a city bus with his perennially drunk roommate, Bunny, and escorted her to the only bar he frequented, Dorset’s.

As the behemoth lost momentum and opened to disgorge them at their location, Will chose his words carefully.

“I need you to be very quiet,” he said.

“Huh?” she replied.

Bunny had spent most of the trip occupied with a crossword she’d dug out of some previous passenger’s discarded newspaper, and, while her eyes still roved between the clues and the playing area, Coffin suspected the majority of the available boxes were in little danger of being solved.

He tried again.

“We’re here to meet an old fella. He’s excitable, and you need to remain very still.”

“Does he #### magic like the rest of your friends?”

“He’s not a friend, he’s a client,” he replied. “A sad man – a suicidal fext. I need you to behave, please.”

The spidery tracts left by drink, which ran across Bunny’s cheeks, flushed with annoyance.

“Why did you bring me if I’m just going to be a pain in your ###?”

Will touched his thumb to his throat and scratched.

“If I had left you at the apartment, after a bit of vodka you’d accidentally rip a hole between our dimension and one of infinite terror, at which point everyone’s eyes would be eaten by giant moths, as their feet were being devoured by the burrowing of worms.”

“Holy ####, is that even possible?” Bunny asked, her puzzle forgotten.

“Maybe, maybe not.” He coughed, then added, “don’t touch my stuff.”

His lined face made it difficult to tell if he was smirking.

The short walk brought them to the red-brick facade of Dorset’s. Inside was a darkened main room, with tables scattered about its center, and booths lining three of the walls – the final wall, opposite the door, was dominated by a long run of oak. Behind the bar stood an array of cheap liquor bottles, each in a varying stage of consumption, and Dorset, the owner, as squat as his building.

Will waved to the proprietor as he entered, and the man raised a hand in reply.

Coffin had never seen the place with the lights up, and he thought it was probably to his benefit. Smoking had been banned from the interior for years, but the tavern had retained the scent of the thousands of ghostly cigarettes who’d met their end there.

He approached an already occupied booth, and urged his companion to sit before scooting onto the bench after her.

The occupant, an aging gent with short gray hair and a sharp face, nodded at Coffin’s arrival, and the two exchanged pleasantries in a tongue beyond Bunny’s comprehension.

Despite the language barrier, she could tell that whatever good-humour Will had entered with was soon forgotten.

The client swallowed a mouthful of beer, and locked eyes with Bunny.

“When I was but a boy, my mother made me carry about a portion of my afterbirth, under my left arm. Do you know what that does to a person?”

“Gives him a wicked stench? I dunno,” she replied.

Coffin“No – I am a fext, or became one, at least. A Slavic tradition.” He finished his drink, and signaled Dorset at his station. “I am immortal, well, nearly – the list of items which might kill me is short. In my youth, years ago, I fought in wars. I was a man of bravery and recognition, or so I thought. At the age of forty – although I looked twenty at the time – I charged a cannon battery, with a broken-bladed dagger, and killed all who would stay still long enough. I was drunk at the time, but I doubt any of the dead were beyond nineteen.”

The old man rolled his cup along its bottom edge, shadowing the moist circle of condensation that marked its placement.

He continued.

“What is bravery when no normal blade or bullet can cause you harm?”

Bunny blinked.

“She’s not -,” began Will, only to be interrupted.

“I apologize, my name is Colonel Andrik Korda. I was not expecting such lovely company at my funeral, but I appreciate any friend of Mr Coffin’s.”

“Kind of a ####ty location for a wake – who died?” asked Bunny, brushing back a tangled strand of hair.

“I will. The rest of the guests have yet to arrive. Your friend, he is helping me to do so.”

“Why?” she pressed.

“It pays well,” muttered Coffin.

“I have been here over four-hundred years. I am tired,” said the fext.

Dorset deposited another chilled serving, then stood waiting as the old man retrieved a five-dollar bill from his ratty suit jacket. To ease his search, Korda removed a pristine flintlock pistol from his pocket, and set it down on the table.

Bunny’s eyes moved from the weapon to the establishment’s owner, and back again, but the barkeep did nothing but wait patiently for his due.

Will used the opportunity to return to business.

“It arrived just yesterday,” he set a glass sphere, the width of a nickel, upon the table.

As Dorset returned to his position, to deal with the pressing demands of a blond man in a plaid coat, Andrik eyed the ball.

“It does not seem like much,” he said.

“I have been given every reassurance that it will survive being fired. Just don’t over-powder your pistol.” replied Coffin.

The ancient soldier picked up the bullet that would be the instrument of his destruction, and watched Bunny’s warped shape through its curved surface.

“Four-hundred years is a long ####ing time,” she said, “surely there’s something worth going on for?”

Will turned to her then. His face was impassive. but his eyes worked hard to strangle her words.

Korda also looked the woman over, but a different sort of passion seemed to enter his gaze.

“Well,” said Coffin,“Mrs. Davis’ hands are not entirely unfamiliar with killing either, her former husband can attest to that.”

The news did little to negate the embers stoking in the would-be suicide’s psyche. He smiled.

Will pushed on.

“Why don’t you tell her about what you did during the mid-‘80s.”

Whatever aspirations had awoken in the colonel were snuffed.

“It was a different war – a different place. The chemicals of South America were broad and beautiful. I do not know how many died so that I might powder my nose.” Korda shrugged. “Car bombs are quite a bit more effective when you can simply drive them into the offending party’s living room, look them in the eye, wave, and then detonate the trigger.”

There was a moment of silence.

“Anyhow,” Coffin said, standing. “The rest of your mourners will be here shortly, so we’ll pay our respects and get moving along. I have your payment, and you have my thanks – and condolences.”

Will exchanged a handshake with the dying man, then departed, with Bunny in tow.

 

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 138 – Ruby Departed: Loverboy, Part 1 of 1

7 Mar

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Ruby Departed: Loverboy, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the artistic variety of the Nutty Bites Podcast.

Find out more at http://nimlas.org/blog/

 

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, Ruby gets to know her new traveling companions as they move along a highway infested with the undead.

 

Flash Pulp 138 – Ruby Departed: Loverboy, Part 1 of 1

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

 

* * *

 

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 137 – Jabber, Part 2 of 2

5 Mar

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Jabber, Part 2 of 2
(Part 1Part 2)
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, Will Coffin must also face down the terrible maw of the Jabber.

 

Flash Pulp 137 – Jabber, Part 2 of 2

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

 

Will Coffin eyed the geese paddling about the smooth surface of Capital River, and thought hard about ignoring the conversation. The flow of water had once been too fast here for the foul to comfortably lounge, but the new construction project down stream had done much to stymie the rush. He threw some bread crust to the eager beaks.

As he sagged against the black railing that hemmed the city park along the bank, the young man who’d been speaking set his elbow on the iron and leaned in.

“So?” the youth said, his breath smelling of hot-dog-cart mustard.

“I don’t know what you want from me, I’m just here to help the neighbourhood.”

The close-talker drew back from the response and adjusted his tie.

“Please. I understand why you maintain this folksy “just helpin’ folks, hyuck-hyuck” persona, but I am a man of understanding. I know you are the keeper of thirteen of the thirty-three relics known to exist. I also know that you are a man of some power, and influence. We are requesting an alliance.”

“I’ve seen crack dealers run this same scam.” Will replied. “To them, a friend today is a customer tomorrow. Your boss isn’t interested in politics, or corporate power, or whatever aspiration you figure you have with that poorly-tailored suit – he’s interested in your gooey mouth-meat; and mine; and everyone’s. I’ve read Blackhall’s book.”

“As have I – the man was a liar and a scoundrel – but, if you have such a distaste, why did you agree to come?”

“Your telemarketer tactics of calling me every fifteen minutes.”

“Persistence is the first step to success.”

Coffin cringed at the chestnut.

Coffin“I sympathize with your situation,” he said, “but the tongue you’re wagging is eventually going to be its lunch. You may not be able to understand that, given its ability to run off with your gray-matter, but its inevitable.”

“Oh, I’m not his slave – think of me as his, uh, manager. The Jabber is likely thousands of years old, but these aren’t the dark ages, he can’t just go around gorging on peasants. Someone has to keep him from eating everybody.” Will gave the man’s grin a hard look. The would-be broker continued, “- and uh, there are uses for an indestructible killer, uses by important people. Good people.”

He wasn’t sure if he believed it, but even the hint that the agent was acting of his own free will made it easier for Coffin to attempt to break his jaw. The force of his punch wasn’t the greatest portion of the impact, however, as the shaman had wrapped his silver chain about his knuckles, and the occult links – usually reserved for interaction only with disembodied spirits – caused a brief ethereal shadow to jump from the emissary’s shoulders, as if the concussion had nearly dislodged his living ghost from his flesh.

He collapsed to the asphalt that marked the park’s paths.

Turning his back to unconscious man, and the falling dusk, Coffin started up the squat hill towards the sharp-faced figure, which appeared near fifty, who’d watched the exchange intently. As Will neared, it did not rise from its splintered seat.

Dropping its lower jaw, it began to speak through a a gray quiver of barbs.

“Jubrun talbotin dallingar ed barimu.”

It continued on, and, as the shadows grew, so did the Jabber’s volume.

Soon the form stood on his bench, towering a head’s length over Will, and flecks of reddish liquid began to take flight from the thing’s lips, under the strength of its non-sense argument.

Coffin heard nothing of the hypnotic babble; he’d donned industrial level ear protection as he’d climbed the short rise. When he was satisfied that his modern defence was strong enough to stand the ancient problem, he lit a Zippo in signal.

Concern had crept into the Jabber’s raging eyes, and it turned at the flicker of a pair of worn jeans, and a Motley Crue t-shirt, entering into its circle of influence.

“You goat ####ing ###hole! I’ve heard about you ####-o – you eating tiny little babies tongues and ####? That’s god-####ed filthy, man! What kind of ####ing walrus tugger are you? Will told me you might have even ####ing killed my great-grandmother – ####ing bull#### you #### glazing feline ####er!”

Bunny, Coffin’s roommate, raised high the rum bottle she’d spent her wait with, then continued on in her rant.

The horror staggered.

Despite it’s best efforts to respond, the beast could make no arcane purchase against the polyurethane and plastic noise-canceling ear-muffs, and its ways were too deeply ingrained by time to make any other gambit.

By midnight – with hours spent by Coffin in an effort to turn away pedestrians from the apparent drunken, and screaming, couple – the creature had collapsed.

Will threw the crumpled form over his shoulder with a grunt, and they made their way to the river’s edge.

Draining the last of her liqour, Bunny asked, “What now?”

“Eight years ago I did a favour for a guy named Jim Bondo. He was a foreman working on an office building in the downtown core, and he’d come to the conclusion that his site was on an Indian graveyard or something. It wasn’t – he just had a lot of superstitious Germans on his crew, and that had attracted gremlins to the heavy machines – but I corrected the situation anyhow.” As Coffin spoke, his companion retrieved another bottle from the interior of her over-sized purse. “He’s huge in construction now, runs one of the biggest firms in the city – big enough that they got the contract for the new dam going in down stream. I figure waking up in a few hundred tons of concrete should occupy him for quite some time.”

It was a long walk ahead, and Will was happy to wet his throat when Bunny offered.

 

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 136 – Jabber, Part 1 of 2

4 Mar

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Jabber, Part 1 of 2
(Part 1Part 2)
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 find Thomas Blackhall, student of the occult and master frontiersman, standing over a devilishly-tongued man.

 

Flash Pulp 136 – Jabber, Part 1 of 2

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

 

Blackhall held the oil lamp high, letting the dim glow drag along the moist stone walls. It had been many months since he’d last seen the abandoned mine site, and the elements had worn heavily upon the timber works which kept the meager shaft from collapse.

Before him knelt a slight man, clothed in too-large pants and a motley sweater, who would have found himself hard pressed to bluff his age as above that of twenty-one. His forearms were bound at the small of his back with a long run of twine, and a wad of stocking had been forced into his mouth and held there in place by a wide strip of rag wound several times about his head.

Thomas scraped his nails over the stubble at his chin, and gazed down at the stooped form.

Until seconds previous, the figure had lain unconscious, and, now, the portion of Blackhall’s mind ruled by curiosity was tempted to observe what might follow.

The grubby muzzle began to moisten, and the captive’s jaw drew taut as he commenced gnawing at the interior of his facial bindings.

Blackhall filled his lungs and raised a boot to the man’s brow. With a grunt and a kick, the prisoner toppled backwards, plummeting from the stone precipice at which they’d lingered, and into the darkness of the vertical shaft behind him.

The silence of the fall was broken only by the occasional brush of cloth upon the rock face.

Thomas cast a wish into the hole that he might have a stick of dynamite to aid the conclusion of his deposit, then turned to make his way towards the exit.

* * *

Two weeks earlier, he’d been amongst the pines, three-days west of the small town of Sacrime, and preparing to bed down. The evening had been warm, so he’d let the fire gutter before moving a short distance from his camp to correct the complaints of his bladder.

His travels had him trailing at the banks of White River, which ran north and south, and, having finished marking a Spruce as his own, he crouched at the water’s edge to refresh his face and arms from the crisp flow.

That was when he noted the swing of the torch over the babble of the cascade.

Blackhall could not hear the dialogue of the naked, ancient, elder, who held aloft the beacon – the distance across the rush was too great – but it was obvious that the man was expounding at length as he conducted a parade of some fifty capering bodies through the unyielding forest shadows. The leader came to a brief halt as he stepped upon the bank, then he turned northward. As his chain of dancers came to the same location, they too turned, never breaking stride.

The shape and age of all involved varied wildly – some seemed but babes, barely old enough to walk, and others seemed too old to live amongst the wildwoods, much less to maintain the spastic cavorting which currently occupied them.

Thomas remained huddled low as he moved back into the treeline, then, with reckless speed, he collected the accoutrements of his encampment. Once he’d stuffed the last of his loose items into his bag, he slung his Baker rifile at his shoulder, and belted his sword.

Despite his absence, it was a simple matter to relocate the human column as the guide strayed little from the course of the waterway – it was more difficult, however, to intersect it.

BlackhallIt was a twelve-hour chase, during which Thomas was forced into increasingly inhospitable terrain in an attempt to remain hidden, even as the sun once again took the sky. The need for expediency in his rough passage left the frontiersman’s hands bleeding from the effort, and imparted two fresh gashes in his greatcoat which would require mending, but, finally, the old man broke his orientation, and started away from the shore.

As soon as the last of the succession had turned to follow, Thomas thrust into his mouth the stone he kept upon a rawhide loop about his neck, and dived beneath the cool torrent. The breathing trinket made his passage inevitable, but the strong current carried him well away from his intended landing point, and he was forced to recover ground to match the splintered tree he’d memorized as a landmark.

His mind and limbs ached with the fatigue of the pursuit.

Having to slow to mark the signs of his quarry’s passage, he rummaged about for something that might stopper his ears, but, in the end, he could manage only ripped ends from his tattered shirt with which to fashion shoddy plugs.

There was nothing he could do to assist the former residents of Sacrime when he came to the cave that had been the old man’s destination.

Within that lost hour, the Jabber had fed extensively – corpses littered the floor, and, in the furthest corner, a broad-chested man of forty took his last gurgling breath.

The beast, now a youth, leaned low over a woman, the last of the living, whose auburn hair fanned from her head to splay haphazardly across the stone, and whose eyes remained impassive over her chubby cheeks. The boy appeared to be telling a great tale while inspecting the quality of her teeth. Her lips were spread wide, and her neck tilted, as if a child demonstrating the healthy state of her tonsils.

As he neared, Blackhall had begun to hum to cover the sound of its rambling, but, as he stepped into the rocky shelter, with his sword drawn, he was brought up short by the flash of a bristling array of thorns projecting suddenly from the glutton’s still yammering maw – then the thing’s face lost its guise of humanity entirely, and it plunged its spines into the woman’s gaping cavity.

As it fed noisily upon her tongue, Thomas wretched.

He’d never encountered such a creature himself, but he’d heard of its methods while scouring the tomes of his father’s library. It was rejuvenated by its insatiable hunger for the knotted mouth-muscle, and had, as its primary tool of enticement, the ability to drive men to madness, or enslavement, with the nonsensical discourse it maintained.

He knew too that speech was its weakness – it was recounted that the only layman to have survived the approach of such a fiend had done so by providing an impassioned plea for his wife, over which he could not hear the beast’s ravings. After a crescendo of clashing utterance, the monster had fallen unconscious, and had been then submitted to fearful inspection at the hands of the church’s specialists. Every effort was made to end the abomination, but the might of horses tugged uselessly upon its limbs, and even blessed water seemed to have no means of starving its lungs. On the following rise of the full moon, it reawoke, and began to gnaw at the steel links that held it. It was only the voice of Monseigneur Lajoie, reciting script, verse, and even childhood poems, which finally brought the thing under control – and still at the cost of the five other attending brothers.

The Monseigneur had decided that it would be buried, and twenty days of well-manned digging were followed by ten days of filling – then the Jabber was forgotten by all but Lajoie, who recorded the incident and promptly retired from the clergy.

Blackhall was unsure if this was the same as that of the legend – it was impossible to know, given the longevity imparted by its grisly consumption.

He found his lungs.

It was dusk before the rant was complete, a tirade largely filled with memories of his Mairi – and before the horror once gain succumbed.

Thomas already had in mind his next destination, the abandoned shafts which lay to the east, and that it would be days of tough hauling, with a heavy load. He also knew, however, that he would not sleep that evening – at least, certainly, not in that cave of damned souls who’d drowned in their own blood.

He began to bind his foe.

In truth it was another three dawns – three long days of dragging – until he could summon the courage to once again slumber, and, when he did, he dreamt of the visage of the auburn-haired woman, as she was kissed so deeply by the kneeling form.

 

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.