Tag Archives: short fiction

Flash Pulp 126 – Ruby Departed: Local Hero, Part 3 of 3

4 Feb

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Ruby Departed: Local Hero, Part 3 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Walker Journals.

Ever been to a funeral where you’re greeted at the door by the guest of honour’s slobbering mouth?

Find all the tips you’ll need to survive the zombie apocalypse at http://youtube.com/user/WalkerZombieSurvivor

 

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 wrestles with her conscience – and the undead.

 

Flash Pulp 126 – Ruby Departed: Local Hero, Part 3 of 3

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

 

[Text to be posted Monday]

 

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 121 – Spook: a Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 1

24 Jan

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Spook: a Blackhall Tale, 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, Thomas Blackhall tells of a haunting from his youth, as he experienced it.

 

Flash Pulp 121 – Spook: a Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 1

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

 

Thomas Blackhall collapsed against an aspen at the edge of an open meadow, fatigue drawing him under, even as the noon-day sun blazed overhead. When he awoke, he found himself in the center of a half-circle comprised of a dozen children, all staring at him intently, by the light of the sagging moon.

They demanded to be entertained.

“A spook story!” the shortest shouted.

“No. Not a made up bit about ghosts,” broke in their leader, who’d obviously been nominated by his height, “a living one; a true one.”

With a shrug, Thomas rubbed at his eyes and straightened his posture.

“Listen, and I shall tell you a tale of both the living, and the dead.

“At the age of ten, my father began taking me to see his family in London, once yearly, for my birthday. Until then I’d never experienced the flurry of city streets and markets, and my eye was constantly wandering over those I thought of as greatly privileged to live amongst such wondrous sights. During my first journey, as we dismounted our carriage and walked the length of houses to my Aunt’s, we passed a pregnant beggar woman, her hands extended and her face pious. Without thought, my father produced an assortment of coins and placed them in her upturned palms. She appeared very pleased at his generosity.

“The strangeness began upon the next anniversary of my birthday, when, while retracing our route, the same beggar-ess stood at the corner. On this occasion as well, her womb bulged. Father repeated his act of kindness, seemingly oblivious to the duplication of the previous trip, but, as we moved out of the woman’s hearing, I joggled his elbow.

““She’s still pregnant, a year later!” I said, with all the naivete of a boy of eleven.

“My father, red creeping into his face at the prospect of explaining birthing intervals, changed the subject.”

Thomas BlackhallFor a moment, Thomas’ stomach interrupted his telling, responding loudly to its empty state. The children seemed to ripple and waiver before his eyes, and he ran his coat over his brow, wiping sweat from his fevered skin.

With an embarrassed grin, he continued.

“On the third year, Mother was too ill to have us depart, but, on the next, we once again made the expedition. As Pa conducted necessary business, my aunt turned me loose upon the market that held court at the northern edge of her block. With enough jingle in my pocket to keep me in jellied eels for the afternoon, I was left to roam with only the restriction that I should stay within a rigorous set of boundaries, the names of which flew from my mind as quickly as Aunt Charity could recite them.

“As I walked the streets of my approximated travel allowance, I came across a boy of my own age, his father churning away at a portable organ as the lad coaxed a small mutt through a repertoire of antics and athletics. I stood watching as long as my eel-coin held out, but, as the grinder began the third repetition of his barrel, his look was becoming one of expectancy, and my bankroll was exhausted. In truth I’d fallen in love with the white and black entertainer, and, as a boy of fourteen will, I was internally attempting to devise a method by which I might make the dog mine.

“Casting about for an excuse to linger, my mind came upon the oddity of the pregnant beggar, whom I proceeded to ask about.

““Well – there’s no shortage ‘round here of those who can’t keep their knees together, if that’s what you mean to imply, young master – but if its Pregnant Polly you’re looking for, she spends most of her time these days in The Miller’s tap room, just a ways down the lane.” He pointed in its direction.

“I hadn’t expected such a definitive response, and so, with a last longing look at the dancing canine, I felt compelled to follow the provided instructions.

“It was a short walk, and easy to spot Polly through the foggy glass – as there were no other pregnant women in the establishment with tankards of ale held in both hands.

“Funnily enough, it was the dog that held my thoughts in the days after. I didn’t think on the woman again until one night while casting lies into the fire with a gathering of my fellow countrymen. I was homesick, and they were weaving tales of the streets of their youths, stories I took in in a sentimental fashion, at least until the name of Pregnant Polly revived my long dormant memory.

“I can not remember the teller’s name, but I do recall the twisted smirk upon his face as he recounted the woman’s life.

“”She was with bairn at sixteen,” he said, “but it would never arrive, though she looked forever in her final month. At the age of eighteen, still unmarried, and perennially bulging, she was little wanted in her parent’s household, and she was set upon the streets. Unable to make a living, even as a bang-tail , she quickly turned to fleecing tourists in London markets. In truth, who would not find some coin for a beggared mother-to-be? Anyhow, her fame grew such that, when she finally drank herself into an early grave, they cut her open, and inside was a babe: one made of stone. The doctor said it had somehow mummified within her, a situation that was rare, but not unheard of, amongst the pages of his medical texts.”

“So it was that Pregnant Polly was forced to wander the streets, the living ghost of a mother that never was, with the corpse of her child haunting her every step.”

Blackhall fell silent then, awaiting a response from his audience. Without a word, each turned on their own time, and began to wander into the deep brush from whence he’d come. As the last reached the clearing’s edge, he seemed to fade into dissipating moonlight, even as dawn touched the horizon.

It was another hour before Thomas rose, and another day’s travel before he encountered civilization, where he collapsed into a month’s sick bed at his prolonged starvation. He would never be sure if the encounter had been in any way real, or nothing but the byproduct of his hasty consumption of tainted mushrooms during his desperate search for food.

 

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 119 – Mulligan Smith and The Missing Woman, Part 1 of 1

19 Jan

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and nineteen.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present Mulligan Smith and The Missing Woman, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

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

Don’t be fooled by the name, it has almost nothing to do with those long car rides to your grandma’s house when you were a kid.

Find it at http://bmj2k.wordpress.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, Mulligan Smith, PI, is tasked with the job of locating a thousand dollar thief.

 

Flash Pulp 119 – Mulligan Smith and The Missing Woman, Part 1 of 1

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

 

Mulligan finally found the woman in a highway-side greasy spoon named Trudy’s, an hour’s drive out of Capital City. She looked rough.

He took a seat in a booth, and, as she approached, he prepared to give her his order.

“Just an orange juice, please,” he stopped to read her tag, “Eileen.”

It was sloppy – she hadn’t attempted to hide her real name.

“Coming right up,” she replied, a weak smile touching her lips.

“Just a sec, Mrs. Musgrove.”

At hearing her married name, her sensible white shoes planted themselves, mid-stride. Even from behind, Smith could see that her gaunt arms had begun to shake.

“Sit down – please?” he asked.

She scooted onto the bench across the table.

Mulligan Smith“William wanted me to find you to -,” it was his turn to be stopped short, as Eileen’s tears began to soak the pink t-shirt of her work uniform.

“Hey, it’s OK. William has sent me to bring you home. He forgives you. Every thing’s going to be all right now.” She nodded, but remained silent. Even her weeping made no noise – he wouldn’t have known it was happening if it wasn’t for the moisture rolling down her face.

They sat that way for several long moments, then, with a deep sigh, Eileen finally spoke.

“I’m going to clean myself up, then we can go.”

She walked to the ladies’ room with an unsteady gait, and Mulligan guessed she was likely going to swallow or snort some of the illicit supply her husband had warned him about. It was a calculated risk, but, if it got her home and to help, he was willing to take it – besides, she couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred pounds, and he had his Tazer on hand, just in case.

It was only once he saw her hustling through the parking lot to an ancient Geo Metro, a tall fellow with bad teeth close behind, that he realized the chase wasn’t complete.

She was moving pretty quickly for a seventy-three-year-old.

He jotted the license number down, and waved over another of the waitresses.

* * *

William Musgrove, the client, was an aging gent with sharp bird claws for hands.

“One day she pulled a thousand dollars out of our account and ran. She has a drug problem. Find her, and tell her I don’t care – that I understand, and want her back, and I’ll help her in any way I can,” he’d told Mulligan.

It was only later that Smith felt like an idiot for not having realized at the time: the whiskey breath, the patronizing tone, the vague allegations; he’d seen it all before.

A week after his first encounter with Eileen, he stepped up to the deli counter of a small town grocery store, two hours away from Capital City.

She was busy working a block of cheap bologna over the slicer.

“Don’t run,” he said. He used a gentle tone, and it worked. When he saw that she wasn’t going to make another break for it, he followed it up with a quick question to keep her mind from changing. “Is it true you’re a junkie?”

“What? No! Is that what Bill is saying about me?”

“You did steal a thousand dollars from his account, though.”

“It was our account. I deserved that money.”

“How so?”

“I may not have worked his years at the plant, but I certainly kept his house and cleaned up after his drunken mess for long enough.”

He nodded.

“Tough for a lady to vacate a fifty-five year marriage. I’ve seen similar with the occasional meth-head, but, well, if I had to guess, those hands of his were a little rough after a bottle of Jameson?”

Her mouth flattened to a slit. He thought she might attempt to flee, and he knew he’d hit the truth of the matter.

Pulling out his cellphone, he began snapping pictures of the shriveled woman, bologna still in hand.

“I’ve answered enough – I think it’s your turn to do some explaining.” she said.

“Well, first, the next time a guy like me says “don’t run”, run. You trust men too easily.”

“How did you find me?”

“Well, actually, I found your friend with the Geo. A few twenties later, he was more then willing to tell me where he’d left you. As I was saying, you trust men too easily.”

“Listen, son, I’m seventy-three years old. When I married, I hadn’t even finished high school. If I don’t trust the occasional stranger, I’m going to end up homeless. I’d love to have dragged that mongrel through a proper divorce, but I had never held a job until these last two months, and I’ve yet to find a lawyer who’s willing to work for free. I’ve got little more than my pride, but I’ll be damned if I let you drag me back to that old whiskey-hound’s shack.”

“Well, frankly, this store is pretty crowded, and I don’t think I’d get far if I were forcibly hauling a lady who looks like my grandma out the front door.” Smith paused in his photography. “Could you remove your hairnet, please?”

She did.

“So, what now? I won’t come with you, but are you going to tell Bill where I am?” she asked.

“No. I’m going to strongly suggest you move a little further – at least a state away. After that, I’m going to write up an invoice for three more day’s worth of expenses, then talk to a friend of mine who knows a lot about Canada, and photo editing.” Mulligan thrust his phone back into his pocket and zipped his hoodie. “Can’t catch ‘em all.”

 

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.

Many thanks to Wood, of Highland & Wood, for the intro bumper. You can find their podcast at bothersomethings.com

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

Flash Pulp 118 – Dig: a Collective Detective Chronicle, Part 1 of 1

17 Jan

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and eighteen.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present Dig: a Collective Detective Chronicle, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This episode is brought to you by Mr Blog’s Tepid Ride – it’s sort of like Seinfeld, but angrier.

Find it at http://bmj2k.wordpress.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 delve into the case of the tragic loss of SparkleFairy, as uncovered by a legion of volunteers and obsessive geeks.

 

Flash Pulp 118 – Dig: 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

 

Fourteen year old Harris Baker was losing patience with his mother.

“Look, it’ll take, like, twenty minutes or something.”

The sight of her son with something as low tech as a shovel in his hand had set the woman on edge, and she’d refused the request for a ride outright.

“I’m not interested in helping you with your silly Internet games,” she replied.

“This isn’t a game: SparkleFairy is a missing person’s case, and we’ve been months doing the work on this. Me and, like, fifty other people have spent hundreds of hours -”

“If there are so many of your friends involved, one of them can go.”

“That’s what I’m trying to tell you, Mom. I’m the closest. I need to be the one that goes.”

“Sorry.”

“I’ll level with you – you can give me this ride, or you can expect an afternoon running through the classic repertoire of the statesman of industrial music, Trent Reznor.”

“How dare you threaten me, young man?”

“I’m not, Mom, I’m letting you down gently. A threat would involve me accessing the online storage in which I backed up last summer’s vacation pictures.”

“Not the summy of tummy.”

“Yes, Mom, the summy of tummy, all over Facebook.”

He attempted another run at an explanation as they drove.

“Well, remember how the NSA under the Bush administration was tapping the entire Internet?”

“No.”

Harris winced.

“Well, it was. AT&T stored a copy of everything that crossed over their pipes – and then they accidentally opened access to their archives for 10 months. It was basically an open secret, and although I don’t think any one person has a complete copy, there are three major repositories currently in existence that, as a whole, contain everything that went up or down the tubes for six years.”

“Huh.”

Science Fiction“So we dig through it. A few months ago, a guy named Macedonicus put together a software suite that links up chat accounts, email addresses, and anything else he can figure the protocols for, with known cold case files outstanding with law enforcement. He threw the front end on the web, under the banner of The Collective Detective, and, a few high-profile links later, he found he had a whole volunteer workforce.”

“Is that you?”

“I’m one of many – I’m doing a little better than the average noob though. I’m an editor; one of the council’s trusted worker bees, not just some flaky contributor.”

“Council?”

“Yeah, suits mostly. The project is too big now, so someone has to handle the business end – and the legal stuff.”

“Should I be concerned that you’re up to something illegal?”

“Heck no, I’m here to fight crime,” Harris replied.

He tightened his grip on the shovel.

* * *

The break had come when another of the editors – an OCD-wielding nerd named MitchSlap, who Harris considered a candidate for Asperger’s Syndrome – had found an alternate email account on one of SpakleFairy’s registrations for a forum she’d used to talk with friends while in the school library. Tracking back to the new inbox, they’d found a message from someone that hadn’t appeared anywhere else in their search.

The address had provided an IP number, and six days of obsessive digging through that destination’s traffic had lead the crew to an anonymous comment, buried under 10,431 replies to a CNN article regarding the missing girl. It said simply, “She’s under the oak tree on the west side of the Franklin train depot.”

At the time, the response had either been ignored as the raving of a troll, or simply gone unseen in the sheer volume of chatter. Whatever the case, none of the other users could have known about the cheap pot the same individual had offered to sell the missing girl in the hidden mailing.

Once The Collective had a lock on the source of his connection, however, his life was an open book that read like the work of a man who loved high powered rifles, blamed delinquents for the world’s woes, and refused to stay on his meds.

Those involved in the investigation had since wasted hours staring at his house via street view out of morbid curiosity, but they couldn’t move forward – not without proof. It had come down to Harris to find that proof, at the abandoned station, itself buried under deep layers of graffiti paint.

He’d assured his mother that he was violating no laws in trespassing, but, since leaving her on the open pavement and jumping the short fence, he was beginning to have doubts. He’d spent a long while inspecting the location via google maps, but now he was there, and it was cold.

Following his phone’s GPS to the spot the online maps indicated was likely SparkleFairy’s resting place, he located the tree, just as he’d seen it in the satellite view, and just where the original damning comment had said it would be. There was a decent sized rock nearby, so he set his phone down, with the camera set up to stream video of his work, and began digging.

He hadn’t expected how hard it would be, or how much muscle it would take. The chat that accompanied the feed began to fill – long standing members were dragging in people who’d never even heard of The Collective Detective, and word spread like brush fire through the real time social networks. The room was soon at its maximum capacity, and those bloggers who`d managed access took to writing up events as they happened.

After thirty minutes, Mrs. Baker began to lean on the horn.

With an embarrassed glance at the camera, Harris held up a finger and walked out of frame. The gathered observers broke into a chaos of mockery, uncertainty, and speculation. A moment passed, however, and the boy re-appeared, now redoubling his efforts.

He thought he’d found her at the two foot mark – but wasn’t sure.

Picking the phone up, he focused the camera on the dirty shape, and his thumbs became a blur of communication.

“What is this?” he asked. “I don’t want to call the police and discover it’s a moose bone or something.”

Hundreds of Wikipedia windows opened; specialists reached for thick tomes they hadn’t referenced since their school days; and Encyclopedia Britannica found itself with a sudden spike in user registrations.

Mrs. Baker’s shadow drifted into frame, and Harris turned to his Mom’s approach. He pointed to the bone.

She returned to her vehicle without comment.

“It’s a human humerus bone,” typed fifteen people at once.

Somehow, Harris’ brain had difficulty absorbing the information. Seconds ago SparkleFairy had been an abstract data-point to chase, but now the indictment had come down: she was human.

The loneliness of the place, and the terrible thing that had happened there, hit him hard in the stomach – but he took some comfort in knowing that, although a single person had seen her laid in the ground, a thousand pairs of eyes had witnessed her unearthing.

For the first time in his life, Harris dialed 911.

 

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 113 – The Chase: a Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

5 Jan

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and thirteen.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present The Chase: a Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This episode is brought to you by the Bothersome Things podcast.

Come for the unsettling news, stay for the disturbing banter.

Find them at BothersomeThings.com, or find them on iTunes.

 

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 ensnared in a trap formed of duty and the hungry mouths of curs.

 

Flash Pulp 113 – The Chase: a Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

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

 

Blackhall expected panic, but instead it seemed it was only he and Marco who had little idea on how to conduct themselves during the attack.

The call of the war horns had turned hundreds of dogs upon the caravan, but within moments the flood was met by the first of the defenders: a group of three youths, each on a cow moose, drove hard against the deluge, their long clubs swinging heavily. The ragged gray and brown mob made short meals of the lot – the furry-tide seemed to simply rise and overtake them – but this slowing was enough to bring another twenty riders forward at a gallop, and the strengthening line brought the horde to a brief halt. Even then – while the center of the pack held at the sight of the fresh guardians, the pooling edges began to surround the group, so that soon they too would be drowned.

Thomas moved swiftly to the ladder, to begin the long run to his Baker rifle, stored alongside his nightclothes, but he knew it would be for not – that by the time it was in his hand, his friends amongst the Elg Herra would be laying bloody and half consumed by wolfen-snouts.

His re-entry into the home was brought short, however, by spotting the spindly-limbed Mathus, clambering, gargoyle-like, to the roof of the wagon nearest the conflict. His gray hair had taken to the wind, and Thomas could see the man’s scrawny arm holding aloft a turkey, which gobbled out its panic at finding itself in such a high position.

In his off-hand the shaman held a knife, which he drew, with force, across the fowl’s gullet.

Careful to keep the blood dripping well away from the wood of the frame, Mathus spoke words lost to the din, and sprayed the red warmth across the ground below. Within seconds a trail of flame began to project from the site of the sacrifice, a wall of heat that bent at the old man’s command to shield the line of mounted responders.

Before Blackhall could continue the retrieval of his weapon, he felt the wheels of the longhouse once again take motion, carrying the Moose Lords away from the site of combat.

The flaring barrier had held back the bulk of the assault, and now, with the advantage of surprise lost – and the rooftops bristling with archers – the canines began to flow about the conflagration’s furthest edges, maintaining their distance, but pacing the north-moving fleet from the safety of the tall grasses.

* * *

Having left able-bodied scouts atop each of the houses, the Earl judged that there was time enough to call council.

He sat at the head of the gathered, his cushions elevating him above the others clustered around the blaze of the iron bowl.

“Bring me some jerky and bread!” The leader opened, directing the demand at the boy who acted as his assistant and valet.

Before the lad could scramble away, the old man, Mathus, appeared at the circle’s edge, still swinging the limp-necked turkey.

“No. We’ll eat this tonight; if we’re still here long enough to taste it. There is nothing wrong with its flesh – and there’ll be no room for hunting if they opt to maintain the chase.” He flung the former-sacrifice at the boy, who hurried off to pluck and prepare the bird.

The arrival set off a rapid-tongued exchange between the advisor and his lord, in the language of the Elg Herra. Blackhall, unable to comprehend the roll and flow of the words, used the time to question the man to his right, his friend, and the Earl’s son, Asmund.

“Whose hands control the brutes that now skulk in our wake?”

“I rather suspect that Hakon the traitor has had no small role to play, but it is the Presters who raise the beasts.”

“The Presters?”

Thomas Blackhall“Yes – it is said that once there was a man, Prester John, who lead his people across the waters from a place of great persecution, to settle here on the plains – but they are no longer men by our reckoning. In winter they live as if bears, waking only to gorge upon the mushrooms which they cultivate by the summer moon – or upon their young, should supplies run short. The dogs they also shut away when the snows come, so that in the spring only the strongest remain.”

“It does not sound a pleasant life, but why would they seek to attack you?”

“Mayhaps their crops have been blighted this year; mayhaps a new leader has risen from within their ranks on the promise of our destruction. There has long been much enmity between us, as my own father laid low one of their King’s some time ago – or at least, we believe so, as he crawled away to die, and it is hard for us to identify the differences between the Prester Lords, as their mothers are always their father’s sister.”

A sudden question drew Asmund’s attention from the conversation and into the larger discussion which had sprung from Mathus’ entrance.

Finding no toehold amongst the alien language, Blackhall stood, deciding he might be of greater use amongst the roof-bound sentinels.

As he set his footing to prepare for his climb, Disa stepped to his side. She wore a simple, but well cut, dress, as preferred by most of the younger Elg Herra women, and the growing weight within her belly pressed at its constraint.

“Have you seen my Marco?” she asked.

In truth the frontiersman had had half a mind to ask her the same – the expectant father had disappeared soon after the attack, despite the limited privacy, and Thomas worried that he’d somehow found a corner in which to collude with his most constant companion, his gin bottle.

“No, I apologize,” was the best response he could make.

“Perhaps you’d be better served with this then,” she replied, extending a handful of the spiced flat bread which was a local delicacy. “I saved it for him, but I suspect he’ll have little appetite by the time he returns.”

Blackhall made his thanks and ascended. As he set the trapdoor in place, he noted the woman still at the foot of the ladder, her eyes moving slowly over the longhouse occupants, her left-hand upon her stomach.

* * *

The rolling siege drifted well into the night hours, and it was nearly dawn by the time Thomas crept out of the chill nocturnal wind, seeking a bed. His heart was heavy as he entered, as the watch had been filled with longing for his Mairi, and with the terrible knowledge that every moment he expended facing down the blockade was a moment lost from his search.

The greatest advice to come out of the council had been to rest while still able, and the soft snoring that surrounded his descent proved that many had taken the recommendation. As he moved from the final rung, however, Blackhall was startled to see a bent but familiar form nearby, and, while he watched, to observe his friend fling a sack from the nearest window. It was then that he realized the container was affixed to the end of a length of rope, which, in turn, was wound about a wooden projection along the window’s casing.

“Marco! What work is this? It was some hours ago, but I encountered Disa earlier: she was in search of you.”

“Ahh – you’ll have to make my apologies.”

“Apologies?”

“Yes – it is time for me to go. The Prester’s owe me much for keeping a careful eye on the wandering Princess Ida, and I’d rather collect than become a hound’s breakfast.”

“Betrayal?” was all Thomas’ tired mind could manage.

“Well, to be fair, I was considering taking the Earl with me, and I’m not. I suspect he’d fetch a tidy sum, but I think you’d make your best effort to stop me, and I’d hate to kill another civilized man, even if he does come from the wrong side of la Manche. Out of respect for you, and our friendship, I choose not to. Still, I believe I have enough within my travel bag to leave me well rewarded. Au revoir.”

With that, the voyageur wrapped the line about his forearm and plunged through the opening.

 

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 109 – Ruby Departed: Jingle, Part 1 of 1

20 Dec

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and nine.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present Ruby Departed: Jingle, Part 1 of 1
Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the the new Nutty Bites Podcast

 

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 finds herself facing down depression only to discover the holiday spirit amongst the undead.

 

Flash Pulp 109 – Ruby Departed: Jingle, Part 1 of 1

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

 

Ruby Departed: Jingle

Ruby Departed: Jingle

Ruby Departed: Jingle

Ruby Departed: Jingle

Ruby Departed: Jingle

Ruby Departed: Jingle

Ruby Departed: Jingle

 

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 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

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(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 095 – Muck: a Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 1

17 Nov

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Ninety-Five.

Tonight we present Muck: a Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

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

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 brief interlude in Thomas Blackhall’s river travels.

Flash Pulp 095 – Muck: a Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 1

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

Blackhall and his companion, Marco the voyageur, had been paddling and portaging for fifteen days, and, while Thomas had enjoyed much of the Frenchman’s conversation, his patience for the corn whiskey jug that seemed perpetually on hand was growing thin.

The two had pulled the fat-bottomed canoe onto another in the series of muddy banks that demarcated their progress, and, at the emergence of his perennial annoyance, the frontiersman had offered to walk the brush that surrounded the little camp in search of meat that might be roasted.

He’d let himself range far while enjoying the familiar rustling of the wind through untouched forest, and he’d found a security in his surroundings that he’d missed afloat and fighting the fast moving river. Game was sparse, but he’d encountered a mass of huckleberries that had him regretting his lack of a larger container than his palms in which to transport them. It was as he was lost in this consideration, and as his hands pulled berries from shrub to mouth, that he noted a thick line of destruction running through the brush at the patch’s furthest end.

His first thought was that some great bear had trampled through in preparation for its hibernation, but a further consideration of the path left him with an uneasy feeling. It appeared as if some man or animal had moved through the area with little regard for what lay ahead of it: a pine which lay in its course had had its ankle-thick branches snapped at the base, and a great rut of dirt had been agitated in its wake.

Blackhall was swift in putting his Baker rifle into his grip, but it was his sabre, which he’d left at the fire’s edge, that he longed for. He made good time through the darkening woods, despite the fallen autumn leaves protesting loudly at each footfall.

Marco watched Thomas’ entrance into the camp with heavy eyelids, and welcomed the returned with a lift of his whiskey.

“I’ve some work ahead, and it might be dangerous,” said Blackhall, as he hefted his sword. “I’d like your help, but it seems you’ve done yourself under.”

The voyageur cursed the frontiersman, the bottle, the river, the campfire, and his bladder.

“I was drunker than this the night I rode a nag full tilt down the nine mile road, blindfolded.”

He staggered to his feet, his hand going to the buck knife he carried at his belt.

“Où?”

* * *

Thomas Blackhall“It seems ridiculous, but it’s the golem of Prague. It was formed of clay and animated to defend its people from the cruelties of their time – or at least, that’s my best guess, from my readings.” Blackhall now regretted having roused his companion, but there was little he could do. He continued his explanation. “They say it eventually became too aggressive, and was locked in the attic of a synagogue.”

The trail had been simple enough to follow, as the towering form made no effort to alter its course for the sake of ease.

“It just sat there quietly?”

“It is a difficult thing to always hold a loaded pistol in your hand, day in and day out, and not find some need to fire it,” Blackhall replied. “Mayhaps it originally found its way here on some errand, or, feeling the pull that brings all of the world’s phantasms to this final emptiness in their end days, it somehow stowed away. It is impossible to tell. Neither can we say how long it has wandered these rugged lands with little purpose. I would guess that it has been quite some time.”

The thing watched them as they talked, standing as near the river’s edge as it might without risking its never-fired feet. While seeming nearly impervious, it had not moved through the land unscathed, and gouts of its arms and legs had been ripped away by its ill considered path.

“I think the monster wishes to bring an end to itself,” said the voyageur, puffing zealously on one of Thomas’ hand-rolled cigarettes.

Again, Blackhall wished he’d left the man alone with his drink.

“It understands it to be a sin to suicide,” he replied.

Never pausing for thought, the Frenchman moved to the figure and pressed his hands hard upon its shoulders, sending it tumbling backwards into the water.

He’d stumbled back to his jug well before Blackhall had finished watching the remains break up and wash down stream.

 

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 090 – The Elg Herra, Part 3 of 6

5 Nov

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Ninety.

Flash PulpTonight we present The Elg Herra: A Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 6
(Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6)

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(RSS / iTunes)

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Mr Blog’s Tepid Ride

Keeping one hand on the pulse of America while the other makes off with its wallet.

Find it at http://bmj2k.wordpress.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, Blackhall finds himself surveying the scene of a death no easier to piece together than the shattered remains of the window from which it originated.

Flash Pulp 090 – The Elg Herra, Part 3 of 6

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

Blackhall was the third man in the attic – Commandant Hallson had preempted his arrival only because he’d had the advantage of it being his own home.

The upper-most room, where Ida and Aalbert Bijl had taken lodging, was steepled to follow the line of the roof, and uncomfortable to stand in at its edges. The floor was brimming with a collection of mismatched furniture that had obviously migrated from the Commandant’s private rooms as it became too worn for his own tastes, and, to Blackhall, the space felt too small to hold its appointments.

His head ached from lack of sleep and excess drink.

Somewhere at the periphery of his perception – he could not tell if it emanated from within the room, or from the ground below – came a ticking.

The window had been a single large piece of glass, abutted at its frame by a low seat, upon which Bijl was still reclined so as to look out from behind the carnage of the pane’s remnants. To Thomas’ eye, the remaining fragments about its perimeter appeared as if a collection of misshapen teeth.

“I knew something like this would happen,” Aalbert told the open air beyond, “it was her damnable sleep walking.”

“Excuse me,” said Blackhall, turning on the Commandant, “is there an especially loud clock somewhere in the home?”

“Only the grandfather standing in the front hall, I believe,” Hallson answered, his brow raised in question.

The frontiersman’s abrupt entry into the house had brought a tide of the curious behind him, and, as he focused his attentions down the stairwell, he could hear the commandant’s wife clucking and shushing those at the entrance.

Hallson, noting Thomas’ distraction, turned back to his impassive scrutiny of the widower, his considerations restrained to his own council.

“Somnambulism! Her wanderings have brought my beautiful princess to stumble into her own grave!” Aalbert lamented.

“Your tone falls flat, sir.” Blackhall replied, taking a seat in a well worn armchair and pinching the bridge of his nose in an effort to dispel the throbbing pounding that clouded his mind. The image of a pinwheel he’d had as a child floated up to him from the sleep-deprived depths of his imagination, the edge catching on its base in each revolution: click-click-click.

A heavy tread came from the flight of stairs, and for a moment all three turned to watch the entrance of the voyageur Thomas had encountered at the Pastor’s table. Marco held a kerchiefed bundle in a delicate grip, and all surmised it to be the likely reason the lady of the house had allowed him entrance.

“Bonsoir,” the new entrant said to the gathered. He seemed relieved to see Blackhall on hand, although he turned to speak with the Commandant. “No doubt, sir, you have caught wind of this man’s rantings throughout the length of his stay – his complaints regarding his wife’s nocturnal habits specifically. There may be some truth to it, I can not say, but I tell you this: while below I took a moment to inspect the glass which now wreathes the departed princess, and much of it is covered in prints, as if a confectionery window after the school day’s final bell.”

Peeling back its covering, the Frenchman held out a hooked shard to Hallson, who took it with careful fingers.

A gust blew through the gaping pane, and, to Thomas, carried with it a mental image of Ida, sprawled on the ground below, the bones of her neck pressed hard against her skin, her gaze unseeing, and yet her teeth chattering against the chill of the wind and the approaching grave.

The Commandant held the glass against the light of the single lamp which lit the room, revealing the smudged palm-marks along its surface. All gathered cast their eyes onto it, as if it were a Gypsy’s crystal which might clarify the night’s mysteries.

“She must have been at the window some time, and eventually pressed herself so hard upon the panel that it shattered,” said Hallson, rolling the shard gently as he held it nearly against his nose in inspection.

“There were few obstacles she could not conquer in her unconscious state,” replied Aalbert, “I once encountered her having scaled a writing desk and pawing at the wall behind, as if she might locate a portal to travel beyond it.”

The dance of the light as it played through the remnant only served to drive the spike of pain further into Thomas’ skull, each heartbeat now bringing on a pound which felt just shy of that of a woodsman’s axe.

As it retreated, his mind seemed to throw up every source of ticking he’d encountered as a youth – the click of his father’s pocket watch; the knock of a restless shoe upon the floor of his boyhood classroom during lessons; the tap of a branch against the window of his childhood quarters.

He stood suddenly.

Noting the silver dirk that the princess, Ida, had carried during her surprise visit to his borrowed chamber, Blackhall scooped it up from the small table upon which it had been placed with obvious care.

The rapid elevation had brought further injury to his trampled senses, and yet he forced himself to stagger towards Bijl, still seated at the ragged opening.

“Stop him!” the Commandant ordered, alarmed at the dagger in the man’s hand and the increasing resolve that filled out his strides.

Marco remained stationary.

“Allow me, sir,” Blackhall spoke over his shoulder, in response to Hallson’s alarm, “to present an alternate theory.”

Ignoring the now cowering figure of Aalbert, the frontiersman set his bare, muddy foot upon the cushions of the bench-seat, raising himself to the full height of the pane. He reached behind the drape which framed the fractured aperture and pulled away what, at first glance, appeared to be an empty sewing bobbin.

Thomas BlackhallStaring at the artifact, Thomas spent a moment chewing at his thumbnail, then stepped down to approach the Commandant. As he closed the distance, Hallson noted a glint hovering below the spool.

“A trick I’d long forgotten,” spoke Blackhall, “although common enough on a Yorkshire Mischief Night. Run the finest thread you might locate through a bobbin, then tie it off with a needle hanging at the end of the loop. The slightest draft will set the nearly invisible rig tapping for hours. In my school days we used just the same technique to drive our headmaster nearly mad.”

He was staring down Bijl as he spoke, the dagger in his free hand rising as the Dutchman tensed at his words. He continued.

“Ida spoke of hearing her father’s tapping in her dreams – it is my belief that this beast hoped his wife would follow the sound of his child’s game to her death, and yet, by the looks of the glass you’ve retrieved, she must have spent quite some time against the expanse before her fall. It seems likely that, in the end, it was his own hands which sent her into the night air, and that it was only the immediately pressing eyes of the foot patrol below which stopped him short of reaching up to remove the contraption.”

The widower eyed the door beyond the three men, then, briefly, the window. Finally, he began to weep.

“Yes, I see,” said the Commandant, placing the marred scrap upon the table from which Blackhall had retrieved the Princess’ blade.

“It is my intention to leave in the morning, for I will not sit well through this man’s trial, and it seems incumbent upon me, in her husband’s failure, to carry out the Princess’ final wishes.” He placed the dagger in a deep pocket of his greatcoat. “I ask that you will forgo a christian burial in this instance – my understanding of her people is that their custom might be to lay her body upon a soft bed, in a place of silence, under the blaze of the noon sun. I will not be on hand, however, as my duties compel me to depart post-haste.”

He did not reveal that he little relished the sting another observation of her body would bring him.

The voyageur, who had, until that point, held his tongue, nodded.

“Do you wish company?” he asked, “It was time I set paddle to river anyhow, and I would be more than happy to have another pair of arms to carry my canoe.”

It would be thirty-eight days before the travelers entered the presence of the Moose Lords – as their prisoner.

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 086 – Sgt Smith and The Dish, Part 1 of 1

29 Oct

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Eighty-Six.

Tonight we present Sgt Smith and The Dish, Part 1 of 1

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

Play them all backwards and discover the truth behind the death of Paul McCartney!

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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, Sgt Smith finds himself nervously attending a social.

Flash Pulp 086 – Sgt Smith and The Dish, Part 1 of 1

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

Mulligan,

Whenever I had reason to be nervous about my day, your Mom, probably because of her Pennsylvania Dutch upbringing, always had the same solution: pie. There’d always be a slice on hand, often blueberry, my favourite, and she’d eat with me in the stillness of the morning as we sipped our tea and pretended like nothing was wrong.

Mulligan SmithI remember having to take particular care at that breakfast, as I was wearing my Sunday best. It was the only decent set of clothes I had at the time, beyond my uniform.

Then, when I was done, she straightened my attire and told me to watch my tongue.

She was a kidder, that one. I know what she meant though – your touch for subtlety didn’t come from my side of the family.

Anyhow, it was 1956 and, after our morning ritual, I had to leave for a date. It wasn’t long before the sun was burning my prematurely balding pate and I was fussing with my tie in the noonday heat. Around me, the picnic area was awash in color. Balloons had been fixed with ribbons to the edges of all the tables; green, red and yellow streamers hung from the tree branches; and the loud dresses and Hawaiian shirts were out in full Saturday-in-the-suburbs force.

I don’t think they would have set me up with the date if they thought I was actually going to meet her, but they were stretched pretty thin which is probably why they sent a mute to a social event.

Two card tables had been hauled onto the grass, and pushed together to create a buffet area. As folks came strolling in, they’d drop off a little something for the smorgasbord, then wander into the surrounding knots of familiar faces.

It was a beautiful day, but when I think of it, I can’t help thinking about the flies – I don’t know what it was with that neighbourhood, but it seemed to be swarming with those buzzing aggravations.

I was standing at the edge of the crowd, trying not to look too interested in the red-faced old guy who’d been highballing since I’d sidled in – his drinks had gotten him into berating two hand-holding teenagers – when Beatrix arrived.

She stepped from the car, her legs extending from her well-cut baby blue dress like an invitation to sin. As she collected up her goods, the mother of one of the teens stepped up to the tipsy codger in an attempt to explain that the young couple were promised to be married. All eyes were discreetly on them, and not the blond, her hair piled high, who moved confidently from her car to the food table to lay out her covered bakeware.

She was as much a stranger to the party as I was. When we were alone together later, she told me she’d driven all morning just to be there.

As the family drama played out to my left, my eyes stayed on the veiled dish – at least, until a tall woman, her hair held back by a hankie, approached me to chat. I doubt her intentions were anything more than getting a better view of the burgeoning tussle between drunken galoot and defensive housewife, as she seemed little interested in the fact that my lack of a tongue made it impossible for me to maintain my end of the gossipy conversation she eagerly began to recite, stopping only to sip at her wine glass. I don’t recall anything of what she said, I mostly just remember the rock of tension growing in my belly, and the tickle of the occasional fly trying to seek shade under my shirt collar.

Your mother would have known how to better handle the situation; she was always the social one.

I watched the blond set down her bakeware and pull back the simple dishtowel she’d been using as a cover.

I tried to move then, but I think the gossiping woman thought I was coming in close for an especially tantalizing bit of information – she grabbed my arm to steady herself.

Two kids, I swear both of them wearing full boyscout uniforms, stepped up to the table for some grub.

The baby-blue dress stood back, her eyes bright, and I tried again to make my way around the handerchiefed woman- but she was caught up in her own story, laughing by then, and I couldn’t shake her off.

I hadn’t been at the last party to observe the aftermath, but I’d seen the photos: the blood filled vomit, the trashed cutlery spread across the lawn by the fleeing crowd, the weeping children, the glassy eyed stare of Martin Nikolaus, dead but still wearing a child’s coned party hat.

I pushed her.

All eyes moved from those gathered around the teens, to me.

I jumped over the prone woman, and a fella in a tweed jacket stepped into my path.

“Hey now,” he said, grabbing, and ripping, my white Sunday-shirt.

I couldn’t take the delay, so I pushed him over too.

My objective, still holding her dishtowel, had an epiphany regarding my intentions.

She started running.

I may have been the last resort, the bottom of the barrel only out there because we had two hundred miles worth of suburban get-togethers to cover, but there had already been three unfortunates done in by Beatrix’s Drano Casserole, and I wasn’t going to be remembered as the guy who didn’t move fast enough to save the ranks of Scout Troop 97.

On my way by, I upended the table, sending Jello and deviled eggs out over the lawn.

She’d parked across the street, and I was lucky that a dinged Ford truck had pulled up too close behind her. While she was trying to reverse out, she bumped its fender, then, panicking, she miscalculated the distance to the red Buick in front of her and slammed into it with the full force of her chugging engine.

I dragged her from the car then; blood was running down her mouth from the nose she’d broken rebounding off her steering wheel.

By the looks I was getting from the crowd, you’d of thought I was the monster. I’d likely have taken a terrible beating from the tweed jacket who was briskly approaching to defend his manhood, but by then I had my badge out. I was going to sign for someone to call the police, but I could see half-a-dozen party goers already streaking home to set the phone lines ablaze.

Beatrix Johnson – Killer Bea; she never spent a day in prison.

We didn’t have lady serial killers back then, we just had “troubled women”, so she landed in a sanitarium. Still – an asylum then makes prison now look like a resort and spa.

It was probably just as much a relief for me, as it was for her, the day they found her hanging by her bed-sheet.

I still haven’t had any casserole in over half a century though – I’ll stick to pie.

Dad

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.