Tag Archives: Science Fiction

Flash Pulp 128 – The Absent Idol: a Collective Detective Chronicle, Part 1 of 1

10 Feb

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present The Absent Idol: a Collective Detective Chronicle, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Flash Pulp Facebook page.

Join now, and get half off the cost of your next free Flash Pulp episode.

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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, the Collective Detective finds itself investigating the loss of an Internet icon.

 

Flash Pulp 128 – The Absent Idol: a Collective Detective Chronicle, Part 1 of 1

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

 

The 2nd of January

Welcomebot: Welcome To #CD-Chat, Harrisment!

FrameScalpel: I’m not saying most of her fans were following her for the right reason, but, honestly, her ability to cut clips in a way that fit her music was fantastic. She was like a combination of Thelonious Monk’s sense of timing, and Banksy’s sense of humorous visuals with a message.

MitchSlap: – and there was also her overdeveloped rack.

Harrisment: Stick it, Welcomebot.

Frame Scalpel: Hey Harris. Just explaining to MitchSlap why IdolChan was so great.

Harrisment: I was kind of under the impression it was the amount of cleavage she showed in her video blogging.

FrameScalpel: Screw you guys.

Harrisment: Ha, kidding, kidding. Lady like that wouldn’t continue to have the following she does if she hadn’t had some talent.

MitchSlap: I’m sticking with my theory that she’s actually a fake personality Spike Jonze used, but, seriously, at this point don’t you think the only reason anyone remembers her is because of the mystique of her disappearance?

FrameScalpel: No.

Harrisment: I do think that’s part of it, but Scalps has a point. She’s still the person I start throwing out links to when I find someone who’s under the impression that the vidder-community is all crappy dance music layered over badly edited anime-clips.

FrameScalpel: WTF

Harrisment: Hah – I don’t mean YOUR badly edited anime-clips.

FrameScalpel: …

Harrisment: Joking. You know I’m a fan of your work.

MitchSlap: Whatever – how far into your search have you gotten?

FrameScalpel: Well, I’ve been through all of her email addresses, her twitter account, and her Facebook communications. She had thousands of followers, and chatted with nearly anyone who’d send her something, but everything was routed through an encrypted anonymizer service, which I have yet to break, and I can’t find a single message that I can trace back to a meat-space friend. I still have no leads as to who she really was.

Harrisment: Well, don’t take it too hard, if you did know who she was, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. I’m between tasks at the moment, I can lend you a hand, if you’d like?

FrameScalpel: Sure, I’d appreciate it.

MitchSlap: Well, if you ladies are going to spin your wheels on this, I may as well crack the case for you. Send me what you’ve got.

* * *

The 5th of January

To: framescalpel@thecollectivedetective.com
From: harrisment@thecollectivedetective.com
Subject: IdolChan Clue

Hey,

I think I may have found something. I was watching video #23 – the one in the park? – and I finally caught a break: there’s a moment where she’s busy talking about how little respect she gets from idiots on youtube, and a guy with a dog jogs by. She mentions how cute the mutt is at 2:36, then she swings her phone around to record its passing.

If you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of the city skyline over top of the trees. I know you were thinking she was from New York, because of her accent, but that’s totally the Transamerica Pyramid – she’s got to be from San Francisco!

You weren’t around in the channel, so I passed the info onto Mitch. He seemed to think he could make some use of it, although, of course, he wants to play king and keep his hunches to himself. Still, who knows, that tool might come up with the next piece. I’m going to see if I can figure out which park she was recording in – the timestamp says it was around lunch on a Tuesday, maybe it’s somewhere near where she was attending school?

I feel like we’re getting close.

Harris

* * *

The 8th of January

To: harrisment@thecollectivedetective.com; mitchslap@thecollectivedetective.com
From: framescalpel@thecollectivedetective.com
Subject: Just Got Back

Hi, sorry about taking so long to reply.

First the greyhound was late getting into San Fran, then I had to figure out the stupid local transit. Five hours on a bus had me cranky, and maybe a bit confused, and I accidentally got on the wrong trolley.

After I finally got everything figured out, I had to walk another half-hour to her house. It looks a lot like the street view, but it seemed bigger, and a little more run down, in real life.

I’d imagined a lot of possibilities before I knocked on the door – I mean, it’s been years since IdolChan’s last video, so she’d be in her late twenties now – but the old woman who answered wasn’t what I’d expected.

I knew the address was right, I’d been staring at it long enough to have it permanently burnt into my brain, but all I could come up with when the lady answered the door was “Hi, is Lara here?” and she says “Speaking.”

I nearly fell over – but the woman had IdolChan’s eyes, and it was then that I realized that she must have been named after her mom.

We talked, and I explained about the search, and how Mitch had plowed through reams of yearbooks to find her. That’s when I started cluing in to how little Mrs. Dunning knew about the level of fame her daughter had, and has, online.

Even after my story, I’m not sure that she really got it.

Actually, at first she seemed pretty weirded out by my even being there, but, once she realized I wasn’t some crazy from the Internet, she wanted to talk about things. Eventually she showed me around the house.

The last room she brought me to was Lara’s.

It’s a time capsule, really – it’s got all these stuffed kittens on the bed. I admit, we both ended up crying.

The theories are wrong. She wasn’t Spike Jonze in disguise, she wasn’t killed in a car accident, she wasn’t kidnapped, and she wasn’t hired away by MTV to do video production.

Mrs. Dunning explained to me that she’d been sad for a long time after the move from Brooklyn, that she’d never really made any friends once they’d re-located – that she was lonely.

On her 18th birthday, with her ‘net down, and leaving only a short, soggy, note for her mom, she grabbed a bus and jumped from the Golden Gate.

After a while, we both dried up, and I just kind of drifted out the door. As she said good bye, Mrs. Dunning seemed to take a little comfort in the fact that, online, IdolChan’s legend lives on.

I’m going home now, but, if it’s all the same to you guys, I’d like to leave this case open indefinitely.

FS

 

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 123 – Moving Parts: a Collective Detective Chronicle, Part 1 of 1

29 Jan

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Moving Parts: a Collective Detective Chronicle, 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, the Collective Detective attempts to pick a murderer from amongst a mob.

 

Flash Pulp 123 – Moving Parts: a Collective Detective Chronicle, Part 1 of 1

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

 

“The six month period before the last date tracked in the trio of archives that acts as the backbone of the Collective Detective is basically considered the edge of the world by most contributors.”

Mitch straightened his tie.

“A lot of members of the collective hate working edge-cases, which is probably why I love them. The way some of those guys act, you’d think the ‘net ceased to exist once the NSA stopped tapping everything in 2008, but really its just that they’d rather not do the kind of legwork necessary to track something that went over the line – you know, joining forums, following blogs, trawling news sites.

“It really means that there’s plenty of leads in that period that are actually pretty easy pickings; things that go un-looked into just because of their vintage.”

The lawyer nodded, coaxing him to continue.

“That’s how I came to open the file on Jesse Barber.

“I was looking over the stubs – the list of cold cases that could do with some poking at – and noticed something about a furry who’d been stabbed to death in a parking lot. Now, I’m no naughty mascot myself, but I’ve always had quite a bit of sympathy for those folks. I truly believe that someday we’ll do away with racism and bigotry, but I’m also fairly sure we’ll never get to a point where we’ll tolerate a man in a raccoon costume dining in a high-end restaurant.

“Anyhow, he’d been at a meet-up with other suiters, outside a comic convention, when it happened. I know they have a bit of a bad reputation, but everything we dug up said it was nothing seedy, just a networking thing for other local people with a similar interest, and an opportunity to freak out a bunch of Burger King employees when they finally got hungry.

“My first step was to open a thread regarding all of the Facebookers who’d RSVP’d, and the contributors started nibbling at the list to see if there was any previous connection between the attendees and the deceased.

“Next, I tapped Cameron Wallace and Rory Cummings – uh, BallsToTheWallace, and Kid Icarus, to give me a hand with Jesse’s personal emails. Every editor has a style of working, I prefer to keep the juicer stuff close to home, even if it means a lot of tedious shuffling and sorting. I work with Balls pretty regularly; our timezones are just off enough that he can pick things up when I pass out. I’d never interacted with Icarus before, though, I’d just seen his editorial status set to inquisitive, which means he was interested in being assigned some work. His ratings were high, and I thought the fact that he lived in Seattle, like the victim, would be handy.

“The police had already been over the posting on Craigslist announcing the anti-furry NERF-bat flash mob, and we discovered that at the time it went live, it started quite a bit of debate on a bunch of blogs. Most of the furries on site knew there might be a problem, which meant cellphone cameras were out in force. My first job for Icarus was to get a posse together to locate any clips he could find, and to start a catalogue of the faces in the crowd.

“Then I got Balls on looking for secondaries – basically other accounts a user might have been logging on with. People can connect from anywhere; home, libraries, coffee shops, work; and you’ve got to try and back track it all to get the full picture. Sometimes a guy has a wife he doesn’t want accidentally stumbling onto the Hotmail inbox he’s using for the Tranny-Love mailing list, so he only checks it on his laptop, or sometimes its simply that a person only converses with a friend while at work – which is exactly what happened in this case.

“In the mean time, I was attempting to run down those who’d replied to the original listing on Craigslist, hoping to spot somebody with enough hate to want to kill a stranger. The police investigation had decided that it was probably someone in the mob – someone not content to stop at beating the pseudo-animals with fuzzy bats, and that seemed like a pretty logical line of thinking to me.

“I got nowhere fast though – I realized pretty quickly that way more people had shown up at the event than had responded, and I couldn’t find anyone bragging about anything unusual. Icarus was having just as little luck – cell-video still sucked pretty hard in 2004. The only one making progress was Balls, who’d discovered that Mr Barber was very careful about keeping his identity as Kip Hamsterton separate from his life as Jesse the tech guy. Hamsterton had his own set of email addresses, and a pretty large establishment in a virtual world called Second Life, and Barber had a one bedroom apartment and an overprotective mom.”

Mitch licked his lips and rubbed his scruffy goatee.

“We all switched over to letter sorting, and that’s when we found it: Jesse had had a fling at work, with an accountant whose laptop he’d repaired. It had ended abruptly, but even after he’d blocked Margie Feldstead’s address and stopped replying, she’d been sending him vicious emails calling him a perverted monstrosity. It was obvious what had happened – their first emails were full of puppy love, but sometime on or around the 12th, three months into the relationship and a week before his murder, everything had changed. He’d fallen deeply for her, despite her crazy notions about the government, and he’d probably thought that, if he could accept her nuttiness, she could surely accept his.

“We opened the thread regarding Jesse’s correspondence to contributor assistance, and the three of us started plowing into everything Margie-related that we could locate.

“I can sympathize with a guy like Jesse, but Margie was nothing but a closet crazy. She spent a lot of time in the dark corners of the Internet, where anything bad that happens is somehow the result of a Jewish world order conspiracy or an act of Satan. Within twenty-four hours of finding out about Kip, she’d ordered a ballistic knife from a place in Florida. They were supposed to be against the law, but I guess it was sort of semi-legal to sell the hilt and blade as a package, and the spring that did the shooting as a separate item. For the next few days her Google searches from home were entirely obsessed with the Seattle furry community, and when she found out about the flash mob posting, she had her excuse.

“When we came across the confirmation email with the receipt for the knife, I figured that was it. Still, you get into weird legal grounds any time you pull a case out of the archives, so I did what we’re supposed to do when we think we’ve got one in the can: I tagged it for review by the council; the suits over top of the editors who run all the corporate and legal stuff. It can take hours, or even days, to get a response, and, then, it’s usually just to confirm that they’ve called the police, and to thank you for a job well done.

“I don’t know why Cummings – Icarus – didn’t wait to hear the outcome. We don’t often get to see the perp though, except in the occasional news clip, and he must have been riding the adrenaline rush of having cracked the truth. Whatever the case, it’s obvious the intervening years haven’t been too kind to Margie’s stability. Lord knows how a woman in that state manages to get a hold of a handgun.”

From the behind the defense table, the accused, hardened by the time since the death of Jesse Cummings, attempted to lay Mitch low with her glare.

“That will be all,” said the lawyer.

The judge thanked him for his testimony, and the editor vacated the stand.

 

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 120 – The Rocket Men, Part 1 of 1

21 Jan

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and twenty.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present: The Rocket Men, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This episode is brought to you by Mr Blog’s Tepid Ride.

It’s not him, it’s you.

Find it at http://www.bmj2k.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, four men engage in their singular obsession.

 

Flash Pulp 120 – The Rocket Men, Part 1 of 1

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

 

There were four of them: Chris, Paul, George, and Chuck.

Chris was good with math, Paul was a born artist, George’s Dad ran a scrap yard, and Chuck was a genius.

At the age of eight their skills mattered little, as their friendship was forged in a common goal: the destruction of all Martians. While about them their compatriots wasted their recesses imitating the cartoon ninja spectaculars of the day, the four took up the mantle of The Rocket Men, laser toting defenders of Earth. Whatever the weather, the group could be found beating back the imaginary green menace, and keeping the schoolyard safe from alien doom.

Eventually, though, the Martian threat no longer seemed so ominous.

By the age of ten, one thing remained: their combined love of rockets. Each boy had an image of their own custom space vehicle, hand-drawn by Paul, and each was sure that, given enough time and access to George’s father’s sprawling rubbish pile, the group would be able to create a ship capable of carrying them beyond the bonds of gravity, and their mundane lives.

In July of their twelfth year, Chris’ father gathered The Rocket Men into his Chevy Astro and spent two days subjecting the boys to New Country. They didn’t mind, however, as they knew where they were headed: Florida.

On a warm evening, surrounded by hundreds of other enthusiasts of all ages, the former Martian-fighters witnessed the launch of an actual NASA flight – it was a moment they would reminisce on during sleep-overs, while camping, and, one day, with their own children.

Science FictionDuring their fourteenth Earth-bound year, Chuck struck upon a plan, and presented it with a smile: they would build a rocket. It took a summer’s worth of saving, and no small number of raids upon George’s familial heap, but a week before entering ninth grade, the boys gathered. They met at dawn, and by the proposed time of launch their sneakers were soaked with the night’s condensation.

They’d created a thing of beauty.

The red cone, entirely decorated by Paul – except the sharpie signatures they’d scrawled along the side – was to be largely driven by powder salvaged from fireworks they’d purchased at a disreputable convenience store. The resulting explosion was a topic of marvel and remorse that would remain a point of contention amongst the boys for months.

At the sight of the destruction of their labour, the youths had nearly fallen into despair, and that might have been the last of The Rocket Men had it not been for an outburst from Chuck. The prodigy had always suffered through any defeat or disappointment in the same way: wild laughter. Within moments the entire group had taken his lead and tumbled to the ground, their jaws aching with mirth.

When they finally collected themselves, each one scooped up a shard of peeled metal as a reminder. As Chris and Chuck spent long hours arguing the math of the thing, Paul and George would often fill the time by staring longingly at their keepsake fragments.

All were agreed that someday they would make another attempt.

At sixteen, the group took up model rocketry. It never scratched the itch that building something entirely of their own design had infected them with, but each success was a spectacle that drew them together, even as life seemed to be pulling them apart.

They still talked of constructing a flight from scratch, but privately they could feel the chance slipping away as college loomed.

At eighteen, Chris left to become a physicist, Paul departed for art school, George joined his father amongst the garbage, and Chuck received a scholarship in aerospace engineering.

Letters, phone calls, and emails, were exchanged, but, in time, they petered to a halt. A wedding in their thirtieth year marked the last meeting of The Rocket Men for over a decade, despite the tipsy promises of renewed communication that each had made during the reception.

Eleven years later the silence between them was broken, and it was Chuck who once again brought them together.

The plans he’d prepared were complex – well beyond the model rockets they’d built in their high school days – but he’d also fitted the bill, and provided plenty of suggestions on where to locate any answers they might not have.

After six months of weekend effort, The Rocket Men once again found themselves in the dewy grass of a breaking summer morning, now accompanied by Chuck’s wife, Cynthia, who’d transmitted her cancerous husband’s designs and request.

It wasn’t a massive ship, it could really only manage to lift the dead man’s ashes, but, still, the grinning maniac of their youth had had the last laugh: he would be the first amongst them to reach orbit.

 

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 096 – The Ad Blitz, Part 1 of 1

19 Nov

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Ninety-Six.

Tonight we present The Ad Blitz, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Ella’s Words.

These are not some of them:

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
I went home.

(With apologies to Robert Frost.)

Find the poetess’ work 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 we present a tale of slightly silly visitation and confrontation.

Flash Pulp 096 – The Ad Blitz, Part 1 of 1

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

The city of Cleveland disappeared beneath a thick gray cloud the week before Christmas.

Cars, dogs, tanks – anything that entered the fog, disappeared.

Neither could radio, television, or cell signals escape the blanket. An unnerving number of military and scientific personnel were sent into the haze, only to lose contact. On the third day, the general order was given to simply wait.

After thirteen sunrises filled with silence, a trickle of pedestrians began to stumble out of the gloom, their only memory of the time being that they seemed to have watched quite a lot of television. Relieved at the apparent lack of harm, late night television hosts began to joke about the recent improvements to the Cleveland skyline.

Seventy-two hours later, the cloud was gone, and the aliens had made themselves known.

They said they meant no harm, that they’d come to trade with our genetically rich planet, but that their true forms would likely terrify our primitive minds, so they’d taken on the guises of our most beloved cultural icons.

This news was largely disseminated by having a brightly-afroed clown from Beta Pegasi on The Today Show. Along with massive ratings for the network, stocks in the McDonald’s corporation took an immediate rise.

Only the lawyers seemed off-put by the sudden animation of so many beloved corporate mascots.

In the following months it became commonplace to see the Pegasans in every major city, making no effort to hide as they walked the streets as talking bears, or giant two-legged jugs full of sloshing red drink, or geckos with British accents.

Science FictionA brief, but intense, period of cultural exchange began. The world’s militaries took on a gleam-in-their-eye when presented with energy weapons to revolutionize killing each other, scientists marvelled at the genetic materials and high-end molecules they were presented, the criminal element was soon frozen in carbonite, the new generation of children’s toys became an enticement to all ages, and law students began to pore over complex systems of intergalactic judicial consideration.

No transaction went unrecorded in contract form, in triplicate, and no new novelty was presented without some price. Within a year all that might be bartered for had been given to the aliens, and, worse still, humanity began to suspect that the invaders were laughing at them behind their backs.

Earth’s lack of coordination had lead to disaster. Each government had secretly promised swaths of land and communal protections to the Pesagans, only to discover that their rivals had made the same bargains, and that the Pegasans now owned a larger percentage of the globe than did the humans themselves.

The planet’s militiaries reacted first. To their surprise, their new weaponry was a match for those maintained by the invaders, and their tenacity brought several early successes. Despite the victorious aggression, hostilities were quickly brought to a halt when a massive starship appeared in the pacific skies. From deep within came a message from the Stellar Trade Commission: cut it out, or face embargo. Unwilling to risk the competition within their own race receiving an advantage, the world’s forces called a halt to their march.

Even as mankind was being forcibly migrated from lands their ancestors had known for thousands of years, a cabal of scientists attempted to put forward a report proving that long term co-habitation would eventually lead to mutual ruin. The Pegasans were quick to respond with their own study determining that another century of observation was necessary to prove the theory. They did, however, offer to submit the paperwork for the Stellar Trade Commission research grant that would be required.

The criminals were too well contained to even attempt to pop the Michelin Man. The children simply shrugged their shoulders and returned to their holo-gaming.

Milo P. Schwardenbach, however, was not amused.

Milo was but one of the lawyers which Nintendo Of America retained on staff, but he was the only one that had buried the sharpened end of a pencil into his ham and pickle sandwich the first time he’d seen a life-sized Italian plumber walk past his working-lunch. So he’d spent six months learning the galactic common speech, then began reading.

Where diplomacy crept with tender feet, copyright law moved with steel-toed boots.

After Schwardenbach was victorious in STC court, and Nintendo was awarded most of the British Isles, a flood of cases eventually retook the entirety of what had once been mankind’s.

There was another round of human-complaints, but, in the end, it was generally felt that at least it was their United States of Budweiser.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm. The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Flash Pulp 066 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Surfing, Part 1 of 1

10 Sep

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Sixty-Six.

Tonight, we present Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Surfing, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Flash Pulp page on Facebook.

It’s like a wild west show crashed into a Comic-Con.

To join, 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 we present a tale from the education of Joe Monk, well before he became The Emporer Of Space.

Flash Pulp 066 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Surfing, Part 1 of 1

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

Joe Monk had been traveling with his new friend, the short and hard-shelled alien who called himself Macbeth, for three weeks. He’d learned a lot in that time, all at the alien’s insistence.

They had just completed another short history lesson.

“Ugh, listen, I appreciate your help, but I don’t really – I mean, that noise, that ghastly whine, I’d just rather not,” said Joe.

“These are the customs of your people!” Macbeth replied, his pincers working the ship’s controls. The giant egg’s engines began to throb as the Sagan drive prepared for more heavy lifting. “When you left Earth, space onboard was very limited – what you had in this crates’ libraries is nothing more than a thumbnail of what your civilization got up to before it was wiped out.”

Joe didn’t look convinced.

“Look,” Macbeth continued, “history is defined by the relics left by the civilization that created them. You need to understand what your people were doing – it takes a while, sure, but that’s sort of the nature of history.”

Macbeth hummed to himself over his own joke, a habit that bothered Joe, as he rarely understood what the gag was about.

Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space“Fine,” Monk replied. Changing the subject was a trick recent to his repertoire, a trick he decided to employ. “What are you doing now?”

“Surfing,” replied Macbeth. “All of these things are moving in waves, and to catch what we need, we need to ride those waves. We speed the ship up – in this case we have to travel, uh, call it left, for seven light days – to get ahead of the waves moving through the ether, then we slow down a bit and let everything wash right over us. Well, it’s not quite that simple, really. The modifications I made to this heap are doing most of the work, but those are the basics.”

Joe lay down on his couch, preparing for the acceleration.

Not for the first time, he wished that the ship had picked a lush garden planet full of Betty Grable look-alikes to make its first landing on, instead of the toad-filled dust ball on which he’d found his companion-turned-tutor.

“Have you heard the story about the girl who eats the bad apple and meets seven short guys?” Macbeth asked, as he hobbled about – his stouter constitution allowed him free movement, even under the increased wear and tear of extreme g-forces.

Joe pretended to be asleep, indicating such with a comically-loud fake snore.

It was another something new he’d recently learned.

* * *

Hours later, they slowed, deploying software and sensor suites to suck up, filter, and reconstruct the useful bits of local radiation.

Macbeth shook Joe out of an actual nap.

“Time for another history lesson, kid.”

Monk stood, rubbing his eyes with his palms.

He could smell food in the air – Macbeth often enjoyed a snack during lesson time.

The pair took up their usual stations, and the viewing screen before them displayed the content the ship had siphoned from the deep black.

The familiar face of the screeching woman took up the entire monitor.

“Oh,” Macbeth hummed delightedly, “I’ve seen this one! Lucy goes to work at a factory, and…”

With a nod, Joe deployed another recently acquired skill: pretending to listen.

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm. The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.