Tag Archives: short fiction

Flash Pulp 084 – Ruby Departed: Shuffle, Part 1 of 1

26 Oct

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Eighty-Four.
Tonight, we present Ruby Departed: Shuffle, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

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

Now with 20% more pulp than the next leading brand!

To subscribe, click here!

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

Tonight, Ruby departs from the home of Melody Hannikainen, although not entirely empty handed.

Flash Pulp 084 – Ruby Departed: Shuffle, Part 1 of 1

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

Ruby Departed: Shuffle

Ruby Departed: Shuffle

Ruby Departed: Shuffle

Ruby Departed: Shuffle

Ruby Departed: Shuffle

Ruby Departed: Shuffle

Ruby Departed: Shuffle

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 083 – Mulligan Smith and The Mortician, Part 1 of 1

20 Oct

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Eighty-Three.
Tonight, we present Mulligan Smith and The Mortician, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

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

In no way endorsed by the Pretoria University Law Press.

To subscribe, click here!

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

Tonight, Mulligan has a brief encounter in a crematorium.

Flash Pulp 083 – Mulligan Smith and The Mortician, Part 1 of 1

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

The parlour was immaculate. The plastic flowers were pristine in arrangement and lack of dust, and the carpets still held wheel-tracks from their recent vacuuming. Each drawer of the front desk was locked, and the magazines on the hall table were arrayed in a perfect fan.

He was in search of a dead man who’d been writing cheques.

During his inspection, Mulligan had studiously ignored the sound of the poorly tuned radio emanating from behind the door labeled “Authorized Personnel Only, but, having completed his tour of the uninhabited area, he finally pushed his way inside.

The startled mortician was wearing grey jogging pants and a paint splattered sweater – Smith didn’t blame him for the informal attire, he couldn’t have been expecting many visitors given the hour.

The man had made preparations for unannounced visitors – when he caught sight of the prowling PI, a baseball bat materialized in his hands from beneath the long table on which he’d been working.

Mulligan eyed the club, keeping his hands loosely at his sides.

“Listen, I think -,”

The man rushed him.

He had the Taser in his fingers with a flick of his wrist, but Smith waited out another three of the undertaker’s long strides before firing. He considered it a courtesy to give the old guy a chance to stop, but he also knew he wouldn’t have been happy if he’d fired early and missed.

The embalmer’s hands closed hard around the bat as he fell. Mulligan let up on the trigger and provided a polite suggestion to let it go.

Once the lumber was free of the man’s fingers, Smith swallowed back a lump of tension and approached the prone figure, gently pulling the probes from his target’s neck.

He’d arrived too late in some senses – the body had already gone into the crematorium. Mulligan knew it was a waiting game at that point, so he pulled out a stool and sat.

“How long’s he been in there for?” he asked, pulling a replacement Taser cartridge from his pocket.

The silver-haired man stood, lowering himself stiffly onto a nearby bench while his eyes stayed locked on the weapon.

“He’s been baking about an hour, I guess-” The mortician’s eyes narrowed. “Be another one and a half before he’s ready to come out. Not that it’ll help, he’ll just be dust by then.”

Mulligan Smith“Maybe we should just pull him out now.”

“Have you ever seen a half-melted body? I assure you, you don’t want to mess with the process. It’s all automated anyhow, I’d have to do some fair jiggering to get it to stop, and even then (pause) he’s just going to be a roasted mess.I don’t know what you’re talking about though, there’s a body in there sure, but I’m also positive it’s not someone you’re looking for.”

“Don’t bluff me, sir.” Mulligan finished snapping the gun back into working order and tucked it away into the folds of his hoodie. “Given the impeccable tidiness of your establishment, I think you’re the kind of fellow who’d take the time to do things properly.”

The man pulled a latex glove from his hand and ran his sweaty fingers through his hair.

“Yeah,” Mulligan continued, “I’m sure there’s no room for mix-up anyhow, but a fella like you gets by on process. I’m sure you took the time to stamp him out a name tag before you cooked him.”

The man in the paint splattered sweater didn’t reply, but the PI didn’t like his flat smile.

“Still, sorry I had to shock you,” Smith added after a moment of quiet.

The room fell into silence, and the pair waited out the time by staring at the coloured lights on the panel alongside the short sliding door.

Nearly two hours later, Mulligan discovered that the tag was gibberish.

“You wrote it out in some kind of code to keep him anonymous? Well, can’t win ‘em all.” Mulligan said, still holding the metal plate.

He grabbed up the dusty skull, his palm wrapping around the jawbone so that his fingers protruded from the empty eye-sockets.

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll take this down to the station and talk to a friend of mine who happens to know a thing or two about forensic dentistry. If I’m wrong, I’ll scoot this poor fella’s noggin’ back to you in a couple of hours. If I’m right though, you’ll probably want to consider sticking around, as it’ll be less risky to explain to the police how you came into possession of a missing man’s cranium than it will be to explain to heiress Petra and,” he hefted the weight in his hand, “her psychotic boyfriend, how her father’s skull went missing. I hope you cashed her cheque already – while she’s still rich.”

Once the door had clicked shut behind him, the PI stooped to expel his late dinner into one of the fake potted plants – he was careful to not get any on his deceased client.

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 082 – The Glorious: Minerva’s Last Ride, Part 1 of 1

18 Oct

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Eighty-Two.
Tonight, we present The Glorious: Minerva’s Last Ride, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

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

It’s the only known cure for vampirism.

To subscribe, click here!

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

Tonight, we once again return to the halls of Valhalla, this time to hear the tale of a girl named Minerva Peabody.

Flash Pulp 082 – The Glorious: Minerva’s Last Ride, Part 1 of 1

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

The smoke filled halls of Valhalla were a rough location to start up a friendship, and few had it tougher than Minerva Peabody. The girl, permanently locked at the age of fourteen, was the sole warrior amongst thousands to be adorned largely in hot pink – a relic of the period in which she’d earned her place, the mid-1990s.

She’d walked the long benches many a night, finding little comfort in the rough hewn tables and legs of boar that adorned them. Few of the violent men that filled the rows had interest in a girl her age, and most who did had only the wrong intentions.

It was with great pleasure then that she dined with Leroy “Cutter” Jenkins – his own daughter had been her age when he’d died, and it felt like some small measure of home to have her sup with him. They’d met at the center of a melee in a swamp, caught between a division of Persian immortals and 300 Maori warriors. The groups had circled the tangling vines and muck drenched ground for an entire afternoon, hoping to happen upon an exposed flank, and the odd pair out, Cutter and Minerva, had used the opportunity to ignore the sniper rifles they’d been issued and instead swap stories about their respective lives.

“So -” Cutter said, one evening well after their introduction in the bog, “How’d you end up here, anyhow?”

It was usually the first question of any new encounter within the glorious halls, but somehow in the intervening weeks they’d both danced around the topic.

She took a long moment before answering. Finally, shoulders squaring slightly, she began to tell her tale.

“I was in central park with my Dad, it was fall and the air was crisp and we’d been out shopping for a few hours and were just looking for a street-meat vendor that didn’t look too sketchy so we could sit down on a bench and take a break.

“I saw the guy first, although I guess it didn’t really help any. He was tall, in his early twenties, hair cut super short and with a black trench coat on that didn’t really fit him. One minute I’m thinking “Look at that weirdo,” and then he’s suddenly got a shotgun in his hands.

“I’m pretty sure I cussed – I think it was the only time Dad ever heard me do it, he definitely looked up fast enough. He’d been talking about dinner plans and random junk; how excited Mom would be to see the stuff I’d picked out. We hadn’t been talking much lately – not on purpose or anything, he’d just been busy doing his thing and I’d been busy doing mine – anyhow, it was a pretty great day, and then this shaved DB pulls out the shotgun.

“Boom – first shot takes out the lady he’d been talking to. Boom, Boom – second and third shots take out a couple of people picnicking on the grass not far from him. Dad stands up, figuring I guess he’s going to save me somehow, and boom, the left side of his head is gone.

“I don’t really remember how I got under the bench, but I got down. This cop on a horse comes pounding up, but, boom, down he went. I’m pretty sure he was dead before he hit the ground, but his neck made an awful sound when his helmet bounced off the cement path.

“I could see the whites of his horse’s eyes as it reared up, and there was the smell – I didn’t know what it was then, but now I’m all too familiar with a good whiff of burnt gunpowder. People were running everywhere and the guy had this look on his face like he was ruler of the world.

“I couldn’t stand it – up till then I’d just been scared, but while I was staring at what was left of Dad and the cop with the funny bend in his neck, the day I’d just had flashed before my eyes – ten minutes earlier I’d been ruler of the world, and that guy, for whatever reason, had decided to take a dump on it.

“I started crying, but it didn’t stop me. I busted out from under the bench, and one handed the reins of the horse. I’d spent the previous six years worth of Tuesdays and Sundays at Appleberry Stables – I didn’t have my stupid beige breeches, or my stupid chaps, or my stupid black helmet, but I was pretty sure by then that I’d probably never need them again anyhow.

“The guy had started walking the other way, just strolling and firing at anything that moved as he passed.

The Glorious“People – I mean back there, not here – they’ve kind of forgotten what horses are, why we raised and rode them. It’s easy to flip on the TV and see how brutally fast we’ve built our cars, but people have forgotten what it is to have a couple thousand pounds of horseflesh baring down on them.

“He spun and fired at the last moment – sheered my arm right off. I don’t know how I managed not to lose control of my mount, I guess the bloodlust was upon us – I’d have given him the finger if I’d still had a free hand to do so.

“The guy fired again when we were right on top of him, and the horse reared, kicking in his skull. I fell off then, and died staring at his exposed brain.”

The girl sniffled as she sipped at her inexhaustible wine.

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 081 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Groupthink, Part 3 of 3

15 Oct

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Eighty-One.

Flash PulpTonight, we present Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Groupthink, Part 3 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

This week’s episode are dedicated to the recent marriage of Elektro and Anycheese – long may they live and love.

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, Joe learns the terrible truth about Lol, planet of the cactus people.

Flash Pulp 081 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Groupthink, Part 3 of 3

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

Joe was on the roof by himself for quite a while.

After the tower fell, his scarlet clad companion had spent ten earth-minutes berating him in a variety of buzzes and hums. As the human did nothing in response but stare at him with a slack-jawed expression on his face, the elevator operator had eventually made a crossed limb gesture, which Monk could only assume was rude, and then disappeared back into the box.

Realizing there was no other exit, Joe had kicked the downed antenna, stubbing a toe in the process, then used the toppled rod as a seat.

He still held out some small hope for a victory parade.

After a time he became convinced that the elevator operator was a spy for whatever evil puppet-master was running the planet’s zombies, and he was sure his best chance was that a resistance of newly freed cactus people would spontaneously rise up, rescue him from his perilous perch, and then praise him as their saviour.

While he savoured the daydream, two round robotic drones topped the edge of the building and began to fly in slow circles, the shining lenses at the center of their metallic bodies focusing on his movements.

An hour later the elevator re-opened, depositing Macbeth onto the rooftop.

His claws ground against each other as he approached.

“I told you to stay in your room,” he said. The severity of the situation was made obvious to Joe by the trilling notes in his friend’s voice – when Macbeth was truly angry, his English accent became increasingly worse. In this case it sounded as if he was speaking through a flute.

“I was just trying to help. These people are all zombies! Some sort of evil hive mind has control of them!” Joe stood, approaching one of the two cactus-people in blue who’d accompanied Macbeth to the roof. Miming to the cactii that it should spin in place, he tugged at the collar of its overalls, revealing the metallic disc, with its blinking green light. The light was now dark. “I saved these people!”

The grinding of Macbeth’s claws doubled, and the human could clearly see flakes of chitin falling from his pincers.

“You saved nothing, you jerk. I told you before that these people are on a very long life cycle – they sleep ten of your years at a time! Fine if you’re on a world with no other higher lifeforms and you can just nap for a decade, safe behind your spines, but these people have lives to lead and they need cold hard cash to do it – so why not work it off?”

Monk’s face clouded with confusion.

“These folks are all slumber-labour!” Macbeth continued. “They open the doors, they run the elevators, they even drive the cabs, and they’re all controlled by a central computer that you’d be shot twenty times before you could even sneeze on. That’s why the repair work is so good and cheap – it’s all computer controlled! You managed to wake up a five block radius or so, and you’re incredibly lucky that a runaway taxi, or startled nanny, didn’t accidentally kill someone.”

“I – but.. I…” Joe attempted to interject.

“No. No “buts”. You’ve not only lost these people some pay, but you’ve acted out the equivalent of running into someone’s bedroom in the middle of the night shouting “Ooga-Booga!”. You’re going to need to apologize big time to these guys, and we can only hope that they don’t sue you for their missing income. If they do, you may need to get a sleep-job yourself.” The eyes at the end of Macbeth’s dual stocks shrank to a slit. “I happen to know a place that pays well for exotic-species dancers.”

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 080 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Groupthink, Part 2 of 3

13 Oct

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Eighty.

Flash PulpTonight, we present Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Groupthink, Part 2 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

This week’s episode are dedicated to the recent marriage of Elektro and Anycheese – long may they live and love.

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, Joe finds himself attempting to save an entire planet from an unseen puppet master.

Flash Pulp 080 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Groupthink, Part 2 of 3

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

It was only once he’d found himself thoroughly lost that Joe, future emperor of space, realized he was unsure of how to proceed. He knew it was his duty to free the slaves of Lol, but it was tough to know where to start in a world largely lacking signage.

His epiphany had only been reconfirmed by the slack-limbed responses of those few cactus people he’d attempted to stop for directions. His first idea had been to pull at some of the blinking discs he now saw to be omnipresent at their collar lines, but they were well implanted.

He’d spent twenty minutes shouting at one of the passers-by to “help me help you!”, but he’d gotten little reaction. He wasn’t sure where the optical sensors were located on the cactus folk, and it bothered him that he couldn’t even meet them eye-to-eye.

It was a coincidence then that brought him to the largest building in the area, its height in no way lessening the inscrutability of the structure.

His eyes turned upwards, hoping to spot some sign from the gray-brown above, and he noticed a large antenna at the apex of the otherwise flat-topped architecture.

With his mind churning, he stepped towards the sliding entrance at the tower’s base, and was gratified as it opened of its own accord. There was a desk at the center of the room, and, behind it, six further sets of doors. At the long empty surface sat another of the cactus people, this one adorned in a teal jumpsuit.

Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space“Hello,” Monk said to the room’s apparent guardian.

The being sat, impassive.

“Er, I’d like to go to the top floor, please,” he added, slowly sidling around the far corner of the desk.

He was startled when he actually received a response, even if it was simply to have one of the receptionist’s many limbs point at the right most access.

“Thanks,” Joe replied, his stride gaining confidence as he approached the opening.

Before he reached it, the portal slid open.

Another cactus sat in the small box.

Joe stepped inside, recognizing similar devices from many of the situation comedies he’d researched with Macbeth.

“I’d, uh, I’d like to go to the top, if that’s OK?”

The tender of the transport did not respond, but instead punched a button on the panel it faced. Once the doors were shut, Monk felt the pull of gravity in his stomach as he was elevated to the upper levels of the building.

The exit opened directly onto the roof.

Joe was unused to heights, at least unless there was a thick layer of window between him and the drop, and he turned to the helpful cactus before he stepped from the box.

“I’ll, uh – I’m here to help. If you want to wait, I wouldn’t mind.”

There was no response from his companion, so Monk stepped out into the sunlight.

The antenna was of solid construction, and its destruction would have required an incredible effort on Joe’s part if it had not been for the handle. As it was, the human simply pulled a large ripcord, one of the few well marked items he’d encountered on the planet, and, after a brief squeal of protesting metal, it fell safely sideways onto the rooftop.

Turning, he saw the elevator-cactus stumble from its post, two black round portals blinking in the area above its collar. The dark globes brought themselves to a squint, as if unused to the light.

Joe could not translate the hum and squeal of its language, but he knew agitation when he heard it.

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 079 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Groupthink, Part 1 of 3

13 Oct

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Seventy-Nine.

Flash PulpTonight, we present Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Groupthink, Part 1 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

This week’s episode are dedicated to the recent marriage of Elektro and Anycheese – long may they live and love.

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, Joe makes a prickly discovery while he and his companion, Macbeth, await repairs to their ship.

Flash Pulp 079 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Groupthink, Part 1 of 3

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

Macbeth, Joe’s claw-handed friend and advisor, was providing the future emperor of space counsel.

“You need to be on your best behaviour here. These folks are going to fix the ship after that little ding you put in it…”

“I’m sorry, everything was blinking and bleeping, I didn’t…”

“- we’ve already discussed it. It was your first time driving, and I don’t blame you, but now I need you to stay calm and, well, just don’t say anything, all right?”

Their giant egg of a spaceship was bleeding off speed as it approached the Lil solar system. There destination was the only habitable planet around the dwarf sun, Lol, known for its technical prowess, work ethic, and terrible cuisine.

“I’ll be good.” Joe said, his eyes locked on the monitor which displayed a blow up of the clouded atmosphere. “Are there any ladies there? I mean – human ladies? Or, pretty human at least?”

“No – and it’s best not to ask. The people of Lol are on a long life cycle, they only mate once every 80-something Earth years, and you’ll find nothing to interest you amongst the cactus people anyhow. Still, they work fast, and at a great price. You’re lucky I have some outstanding credit they owe me.”

Joe considered pushing the point, but he’d learned to read the tight snapping of Macbeth’s pincers to mean that the subject was closed. He stared down the monitor another moment, but, unimpressed with the planet’s progress in approaching, he opted instead to spend his time reading through an ancient tome of his people, The Da Vinci Code. He understood few of the references, but their cryptic nature assured him that the book must have been of great importance to his people, and he was happy that Macbeth had managed to locate it, as well as several other artifacts, for download at what the shelled-alien called a swap-meet.

* * *

He was nearly done his chapter when the ship finally found itself in a wide orbit around their destination. There’d been a series of taps at their airlock, to which Joe had been tempted to respond, but Macbeth had spent the time simply staring at him.

Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space“Seriously. Please. Just keep your hands to yourself and don’t say anything,” he told Joe, after a long pause.

“I promise.” Joe replied, setting the book on his chair.

The airlock door slid back, revealing two multi-limbed cactus beings. They moved forward using their lowest offshoots as legs, although Monk could see little difference between the upper and lower extremities. The pair wore something he equated with overalls, with openings tailored to allow full movement to their prickly arms. At the end of each protrusion was a brown flower, which Joe realized were equivalent to fingers once half of the duo moved to Macbeth’s control panel and began to methodically punch buttons.

The remaining cactus motioned Joe and his companion back onto the shuttle it had arrived on.

The trip to the planet was short, which was just as well as Monk was disappointed to find the utilitarian craft windowless. The trio sat in near silence throughout the ride – Joe had twice attempted to ask questions only to be cut short by a shush from his friend.

The planet’s surface was bright and dry, although it seemed to the visiting earth-man that every inch had been used for construction. Gray buildings stretched into the sky, each entirely unadorned and unmarked as to its purpose. More of the cactii-inhabitants moved steadily about, maintaining prim rows, making no noise but the hiss of their needles against their coveralls. Each wore the same attire, although they seemed to be color coded – Monk noted that groups of browns clustered with groups of browns, and all of the motorized vehicles appeared to be driven by yellows.

He hadn’t attempted to ask any more questions on their way to the hotel.

“This is your room. Behave.” Macbeth said, his eye stalks extended to put his sight on level with Joe’s.

With one pincer he pushed the future emperor inside, and with the other he locked him in.

There was little to do but nap, and Joe quickly found himself snoring.

He awoke with a start when the door was suddenly opened from the exterior, and a cactus moved inside carrying a suction tube.

Joe stood, stretching from his sleep on the plush carpet, and began to question the intruding housekeeper as to its purpose. He’d seen the movie Maid In Manhattan twice, so his questions were somewhat facetious, but he longed for the company.

It was then that he saw the device implanted above what he might consider the roaming cactus’ collar line – a small metallic disc with a single green light on its left-most side. It seemed to him that whenever the maid stopped, the light would begin to blink rapidly, only ceasing once the maid was back to dusting or fluffing pillows.

Joe had spent the last several months taking in every television show that had ever been shot into space by his long dead race, and he knew now what he must do.

“Hive-mind slaves! I must save them!”

He strode from his room, left unlocked by the industrious cleaner.

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 077 – Mulligan Smith and A Matter Of A Gun, Part 1 of 1

8 Oct

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Seventy-Seven.

Flash PulpTonight, we present Mulligan Smith and A Matter Of A Gun, Part 1 of 1

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

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

Where is the love? It’s at The Flash Pulp page on Facebook.

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, Mulligan Smith becomes entwined in a private matter playing out in a public space, with his own life in the balance.

Flash Pulp 077 – Mulligan Smith and A Matter Of A Gun, Part 1 of 1

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

“Bloooargh,” The slender faced kid screamed.

While the roar of the mall continued on around the corner, the 2nd level food court fell silent.

Everyone’s eyes were on the gray metal of the revolver – including Mulligan’s.

The PI’s burger hovered at the cusp of his lower lip, a single half moon bite having been sliced from its side. The crescent cross-section of bun, patty, tomato, lettuce and secret sauce rolled from his tongue.

He’d been eying a group of tween ruffians who’d loudly conquered a square of four tables along the food court’s furthest edge when the weapon had made its arrival. The kids had made quite a display of their fortitude by pounding each other repeatedly, their unchecked shouting spreading over the surrounding area like shock waves – but even these half dozen boys had been hushed by the appearance.

Mulligan watched the gun swing over the crowd – the single mother trying to wrangle her two toddlers into silence; the double table of aging men, (likely retirees who’d come to retell their tales while running down the hours; the thirty-something couple, child in tow, who’d immediately slid to the floor at the first sign of trouble; the nun.

Mulligan sighed.

“Seriously? A nun?” he asked wordlessly.

His eyes were locked on the barrel’s black opening. From that hole his mind projected a cone, like a spotlight, which he could feel as if a solid thing moving over the crowd. He felt the cone swing wide, the tension fading as the weapon faced down the Subway and Chinese buffet, only to return once again as it re-approached. As the fatal arc rolled over him, his heart began to pound and his palms were suddenly moist – then it would pass, as if a lighthouse beacon sliding on in the night, and the tension would once again begin to slip away.

He took a sip of soda to wash down the burger he hadn’t eaten.

He stood.

Still holding the cardboard cup, he took a step towards what his father always referred to as “the business end”.

One of the thirty-somethings shout-whispered from beneath her table.

“Hey! HEY! That’s not a good idea! Don’t make him mad!”

Mulligan mentally noted that he wasn’t terribly enthused with the idea himself, but there was little opportunity to debate the woman given the circumstances.

He made a tut-tut motion with his hand, as if a parent gently assuring a child they should mind their own business.

Despite the protestations of his suddenly heavy and seemingly bloodless legs, he took another step forward, and then another. The deadly opening of the weapon settled on his direction, and yet still he forced his traitorous feet onward.

He covered his approach with conversation.

“Look, I’m sure you’ve got your reasons for, uh, this, but you’ve got to understand that we’re in a public place – whatever your personal gripe, most of these folks are just here because they’re tired from patrolling the clothing stores.”

The revolver, and its bearer, remained silent.

The PI’s feet plodded on at a steady, if lethargic, pace. He kept his shoulders slumped, his gait loose, and the cup moving steadily to re-dampen his perpetually drying mouth – behaviour even the most agitated of great apes would find disarming.

The nun had begun praying, not quite quietly. Her intonations brought a finality to the proceedings that Smith found disturbing.

“Excuse me, Sister, but could you keep it to your interior? The Lord’ll be just as happy to read your mind as your lips,” he knew he ran the risk of offending, but he also knew control of the environment was paramount.

One of the tweens laughed, not a real chuckle but instead a sudden explosion of giggle carried out by nerves.

The weapon swung from the approaching PI to the kid in the black and white t-shirt with a huge stylized eagle print.

The boy went through a smooth transition from un-bidden laughter to bitter weeping. His head pulled back on his neck, which in turn pulled at the torso pressing hard against the beige painted metal of his chair – as if the extra six inches of distance would be of help; or as if the weapon carried a terrible heat he wished to be away from.

Mulligan deeply understood the need to be as far away as possible from the barrel’s shadowed opening.

Mulligan Smith“He didn’t mean to laugh, a lot of people just react that way when they’re too tense. I think it’s related to the fact that human laughter is connected to animals barking in the wild. I read somewhere that laughter is basically just the human version of a bark – that’s why we do it at things that we find weird, or true but disturbing. It’s a defensive thing.”

The pistol turned back onto Smith – he was glad it was away from the boy, but he certainly found no humour in it.

“Maybe I can help you? You need to explain why you’re doing this. Even if you don’t plan on coming out of this alive, you need to tell someone so they can pass on what happened? Right?”

For the first time, under the distant din, Mulligan noted that the mall was actually piping in music. An instrumental version of Wind Beneath My Wings played him through the last ten feet of open ground. As he approached he continuously lowered his tone so that, as he finally reached his goal, his volume was conversational and semi-private.

“Is it them? Is it those guys over there?” Smith motioned towards the cowering pre-teens. “Did they make fun of you?”

He couldn’t guess at what condition the slender-faced boy suffered, but there was a slackness about his eyes, and a confusion in his look, that told him the child’s faculties weren’t fully functional.

“C’mon, you can tell me, I’m here to help.” The child seemed to harden at the suggestion. “- and, uh, here to remember? Right? To tell everyone what happened after its done.”

The weapon was hard against his belly; he’d walked himself directly into the danger.

The boy looked up at him, the corners of his eyes picking up a moist shine under the food court’s skylight.

“I go to school with them, and every day while I’m waiting for Mom to come home, I’m in here, and they make fun of me.”

The PI nodded, fighting to keep his eyes on the boy’s own, and not on the weapon.

“So, I’m, I’m –“ the boy’s voice cracked, and for a moment the revolver waivered, the invisible cone aimed at the skylight.

Mulligan punched him in the face.

He hated to do it, but a fat lip was a lucky conclusion when involved in a matter of a gun.

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 076 – Ruby Departed: Melody, Part 1 of 1

4 Oct

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Seventy-Six.

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

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

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

Think of it as your six-foot, three-and-one-half-inch imaginary rabbit friend, without the accompanying alcoholism.

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, Ruby shelters from the zombie apocalypse amongst the memories of a woman named Melody.

Flash Pulp 076 – Ruby Departed: Melody, Part 1 of 1

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

Ruby Departed: Melody 1Ruby Departed: Melody 2Ruby Departed: Melody 3Ruby Departed: Melody 4Ruby Departed: Melody 5Ruby Departed: Melody 6Ruby Departed: Melody 7

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 075 – Ruby Departed: Neighbours, Part 3 of 3

1 Oct

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Seventy-Five.

Flash PulpTonight, we present Ruby Departed: Neighbours, Part 3 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

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

Every story comes with a free high five.

Find the feed 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.

In this, the second chapter of our current story arc, Ruby, our heroine, encounters some unexpected company.

Flash Pulp 075 – Ruby Departed: Neighbours, Part 3 of 3

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

Ruby Departed: Neighbours 3-1Ruby Departed: Neighbours 3-2Ruby Departed: Neighbours 3-3Ruby Departed: Neighbours 3-4Ruby Departed: Neighbours 3-5Ruby Departed: Neighbours 3-6Ruby Departed: Neighbours 3-7Ruby Departed: Neighbours 3-8Ruby Departed: Neighbours 3-9Ruby Departed: Neighbours 3-10

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 074 – Ruby Departed: Neighbours, Part 2 of 3

29 Sep

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Seventy-Four.

Flash PulpTonight, we present Ruby Departed: Neighbours, Part 2 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

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

As Bob Dylan famously sang:

Now you see this one-eyed midget
Shouting the word “NOW”
And you say, “For what reason?”
And he says, “How?”

Find Flash Pulp 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.

In this, the second chapter of our current story arc, Ruby, our heroine, encounters some unexpected company.

Flash Pulp 074 – Ruby Departed: Neighbours, Part 2 of 3

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

Ruby Departed: Neighbours 2-1Ruby Departed: Neighbours 2-2Ruby Departed: Neighbours 2-3Ruby Departed: Neighbours 2-4Ruby Departed: Neighbours 2-5Ruby Departed: Neighbours 2-6

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.