Tag Archives: Will Coffin

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

9 Mar

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

Flash Pulp

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

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

“Huh?” she replied.

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

He tried again.

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

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

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

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

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

Will touched his thumb to his throat and scratched.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He continued.

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

Bunny blinked.

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

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

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

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

“Why?” she pressed.

“It pays well,” muttered Coffin.

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

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

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

Will used the opportunity to return to business.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will pushed on.

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

Whatever aspirations had awoken in the colonel were snuffed.

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

There was a moment of silence.

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

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

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

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FlashCast 010 – Cryptic Messages & Interplanetary War

7 Mar

FC10 - Cryptic Messages & Interplanetary War(Download/iTunes)

Prepare yourself for Javier, Will Coffin, movie talk, our first piece of FanFic, cryptic messages and interplanetary war.

Mentions this episode:

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If you have comments, questions or suggestions, you can find us at http://skinner.fm, call our voicemail line at (206) 338-2792, or email us text or mp3s to skinner@skinner.fm.

FlashCast is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Flash Pulp 134 – Coffin: Debts, Part 1 of 1

26 Feb

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

Flash Pulp

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

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

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

It’s like a version of the Matrix, in which we write, record, and produce, three podcasts a week of pulpy flash fiction.

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, Will Coffin, with his drunken companion in tow, must discuss a vital matter with a remnant of the dead.

 

Flash Pulp 134 – Coffin: Debts, Part 1 of 1

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

 

Will Coffin, and his acquaintance, Bunny, stood at the edge of an empty lot.

Weeds had broken through the cracked pavement which otherwise smothered more than half of the space. At the rectangle’s center sat three low cement pillars, whose exteriors were covered in graffiti that might have been recognized as tribal art in any other age.

Insects hummed invisibly in the grass tufts, and the sun baked Coffin within the heavy leather of his jacket.

“Fifteen years ago,” he said, “this was a convenience store. Those columns were the foundation that held up the roof. If I squint, I can almost still see the freezers that used to be wedged between them.”

Bunny nodded, not quite sure why her roommate had coaxed her so far from her vodka and coke.

“What happened?” she asked, hoping to hurry the trip along.

Will stepped from the sidewalk, crushing a fresh sprout of thistle beneath his boot-heel.

“Well, it burnt down. Electrical failure – poor wiring mixed with a bunch of melted ice cream and a stack of Zippo-lighter-fluid.”

“Oh. I thought it was going to be some god—-ed hell-beast with flamin’ feet, or the ghost of some arsonist —-ing hobo.”

“No. My interest largely came after.” Coffin rubbed the sweat from his palms onto his jeans, then dipped his hand into his pocket. “First though, do you see anything out of the ordinary?”

“Well, you ain’t terribly —-ing normal, but the rest is just an empty lot.”

He puckered his lips and let out a breath.

“There’s a girl who died here. Adele. She was eleven. Her Mom used to come by and leave her wreaths on the third of every June, the day it happened. There was a lot of public outcry at the time – everyone knew the store was a hazard, but it was cheaper for the owner to pay the occasional fine than to undertake repairs.”

“OK?”

Will Coffin“She’s been a great source of information for me – easily the most reasonable phantasm I’ve ever met.” He squinted. “Doesn’t mean I haven’t had to bargain. The kinds of things I need to squeeze out of these leftovers are rarely fun to discuss.”

Bunny continued to look puzzled, and Coffin realized he was stalling. He pulled his silver chain from his coat, letting the intricate hook trawl through a patch of prickly greenery.

After a moment, there was a tug on his hand. With a wrench, he plucked a pale girl into view, as if he’d pulled her from the lot’s craggy earth.

“Holy —-,” said Bunny. “Oh – sorry, I forgot you’re a —-ing kid.”

“I’m -” said the ghost.

“She’s -” said Will.

“Sorry,” continued Coffin, “I’m used to the days when I had to translate for your Mom. This is Bunny, a friend of mine. She can apparently see you without requiring an artifact.”

“Very nice to meet you.” The girl turned her smoking eyes towards the new comer. “You don’t need to worry about your language; I’ve certainly heard worse from the vagrants that squat here after dark. I may look young, but it’s been many years since I was searching for Benjamin, and got pinned in old man McWerter’s store.”

“Benjamin?” asked the stunned drunk.

“My little brother. I thought he was still at the candy rack, so I ran in – I only found out later that McWerter had carried him to safety through the back.”

As she spoke, Adele’s skin blackened and flaked away, carried from her body by currents that were the result of unseen heat. Exposed underneath, eternally, was renewed flesh.

“Twelve —-ing monkeys on an — -zeppelin,” said Bunny.

The combusting child raised a scorched eyebrow.

“My apologies,” replied Will, “- she’s new to the world.”

Coffin sat, unmindful of the bushes, or passers-by. He leaned against the nearest paint-splattered pillar, and made himself comfortable.

He waved a hand at Bunny, and she joined him..

“How’s your Mom?” he asked Adele.

“She’s alright. I guess a chatty grandmother died in the tub, on the floor below her, and they haven’t gotten bored of swapping their stories yet.”

“I’ll let her know that your brother got that job I mentioned last time. He’s started as an assistant engineer, but, considering his degree, in a couple of years he’ll be doing more design work on the cars, and less double-checking of other people’s math. He bought a dog with his first paycheck – named it Addie.”

“Wow. Thanks for sharing, but you haven’t even asked me your favour yet.”

Coffin swallowed, considering his words.

“We’ve known each other a long time. There’s another piece of news I haven’t given you, but I wanted you to hear it before the crews roll in. They re-sold the lot last month. In the morning they’ll be bringing in equipment to start moving dirt on a new McDonald’s.”

The dead child made a sound no living throat could – a mix of a giggle and a groan.

Tears sizzled, then evaporated, on her cheeks.

“What happens after?” she asked.

“I’m sorry,” he replied, “I don’t know.”

“Will – can you stay and talk till they come?”

“I owe you that much.”

It was the same service he’d provided her the first time she’d died – although, then his windpipe had been seared from the heat of dragging her from the building.

It troubled him little to appear as if a muttering vagrant, when the workers arrived with the dawn.

 

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.

FlashCast 008 – Rubber Suits

23 Feb

FC08 - Rubber Suits(Download/iTunes)

Prepare yourself for Thor, crabs, missing f-bombs, rubber monster suits, and Will Coffin.

Mentions this episode:

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If you have comments, questions or suggestions, you can find us at http://skinner.fm, call our voicemail line at (206) 338-2792, or email us text or mp3s to skinner@skinner.fm.

FlashCast is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Flash Pulp 131 – Coffin: Bunny Davis, Part 3 of 3

18 Feb

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present Coffin: Bunny Davis, Part 3 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the collected jabberings of Captain Ignatius Pigheart – tales of high seas, high adventure, and hilarity, straight from the lips of the Captain himself.

Buy the stories at CD Baby

 

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

Tonight, Will Coffin discovers the source of his vexation, and receives an uncomfortable proposition.

 

Flash Pulp 131 – Coffin: Bunny Davis, Part 3 of 3

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

 

As the doors slid open, Will Coffin came face to face with Bunny Davis, whom he hadn’t seen since his brief conversation with her dead husband, a week ago.

“Whoa – er – hi,” she said.

“Hello,” he replied.

As he spoke, Will moved from the elevator, his eyes scanning the corridors that stretched-out on either side.

“Can I talk to you for a sec?” asked Bunny.

“Sure.”

Despite his answer, Coffin began strolling along the carpet, heading left. After a pause, she followed.

“I really -” her throat caught, and it was a few paces before she collected herself. “I want to say thank you for talking to Tim, but – well – things have been pretty —-ed up lately. This is actually just my third night home – would you believe they wanted to charge me with murder? If I hadn’t started crying, that walrus- —-ing judge would have had me still in the can.”

Will nodded.

“So you’re out on bail now?”

“Yeah. Sort of. I mean, they let me go without paying anything, but I think it’s because they know I’m too —-ing broke to try and make a break for it.”

“Huh,” he replied. They’d reached the end of the hall, and Coffin turned back towards the way they’d come, retracing their steps at a leisurely saunter.

As he passed Bunny, her face pinched.

“Hey – whatcha doing here at this time of night, anyhow?”

“Well -” he spoke with a distracted tone, and, as he walked, his hand fumbled with something in his right-hand jacket pocket. “I noticed the smell of sulphur while I was over at your place the other day. There are a lot of stinks in a building like this, but it still struck me as odd.”

“I remember that. Really, I kind of thought it was coming from Tim’s —. —-ing Tim.”

“Yeah, well, I asked a, uh, knowledgeable friend about it, and when she didn’t have much to say on the subject, I started doing some footwork. Details like that bother me. In the end I found a couple of twelve-year-olds who told me everything I needed to know, once I’d threatened to rat about their nicotine habits to their mothers.”

“Kids? —-ing Kids.” she replied, brushing back a loose bushel of her gray-stranded hair.

It was then that he realized she was probably more than a little drunk.

They crossed in front of the elevators, and continued on.

“Children tend to hear about these things a lot sooner than their parents, and its really the strength of their faith that causes the problems.” Mid-stride, Will snapped from his reverie, and turned on the woman. He looked over her faded t-shirt and frumpy jeans. “Did you know that there were seven other murders in this building in the last five months? A father who killed his family, and then pitched himself over the balcony, and another couple, like you and Tim, who managed to strangle each other to death.”

“Nooo?”

Coffin scrutinized her bloodshot eyes.

“Will you come to the trash room with me?”

“Uhm -” Bunny pinched her gin-blossomed nose. “I don’t even – fine, whatever, but can I ask you a favour? Wait, you aren’t going to try and —-ing murder me, are you?”

“Sure, and no, of course not-” Will’s gaze had once again become unfocused, and he doubled his speed in moving back to the chromed elevator call signal. “I mention the murders because, of all the fatalities in the building over the last while, you’re the only one to survive the crime-scene.”

There was a high pitched ding, and the doors slid open. They entered, and Will lit up the button that would send them to the basement.

Bunny cleared her throat.

“My favour is kind of about that – I know you said sorry to Tim for me, but I – I don’t think he’s gone. I think he’s still hanging out in the apartment. He talks to me sometimes. Calls me names.”

Will nodded again.

“Yeah, that would make sense.”

“Sense? Seriously, how does that make any —-ing sense at all?” Her mouth was open as if she was about to go on, but the pungent smell of rotting egg began to fill the descending box.

Coffin extended the bent right arm of his leather jacket, as if he were suddenly a Victorian gentleman offering a stroll. In his grasp hung his silver chain, with the intricate hook dangling above the floor.

“Put your hand on my coat,” he requested.

She did, and he continued.

“The kids told me the story.” As he spoke, they both watched the digital floor-indicator count down. “Last winter there was a homeless man who froze to death against the double doors that lead into the garbage bay.”

“Took five —-ing guys to pry him off – I watched the whole thing from my balcony. Reminded me of the end of The Shining.”

“All right, well, they said his name was Sulphur Jack. Supposedly he spent the night hammering on the entry, begging to be let in – and that people heard, but ignored it, which is why he promised to avenge himself with his dying rasp. Apparently you smell him coming, with an odour like rotten eggs, and it drives you mad.”

Bunny’s eyes grew large.

“Holy —-. Is that true!?”

Will Coffin“Not really – I doubt the story about the knocking and revenge is true, at least, but, in a case such as this, sometimes it doesn’t matter. He was probably just some drunk looking for shelter who had the bad luck to pass out before someone exited the door and gave him the chance to sneak inside, but occasionally a legend picks up enough momentum to take on a life of its own – especially if there’s a death involved.”

Even with a belly full of gin, Bunny raised a skeptical brow.

“It wasn’t always like this,” Coffin said. They passed the second floor, and the stench became almost too much to ignore. “Twenty-five years ago, when I first got started, even adepts who knew what they were doing could barely manage a table-thump with a room full of focused people and the proper tools. These days it almost feels as if someone like you, who doesn’t mean to do it on purpose, can’t drink themselves into a stupor without stumbling into an entity.”

With a cheerful beep, the feeling of sinking stopped.

As the exit slid back, their new view was not a pleasant one.

Across a barren expanse of gray cement stood a figure in a shabby raincoat. His lips were blue, and his skin ashen. The right side of his face was torn away, exposing the muscle and bone below, and thick yellow mucus streamed from his exposed nostril.

“Holy —-,” said Bunny.

“It’s very important that you don’t take your hands off the leather,” replied Will.

Then he stepped from the elevator, with the woman still firmly affixed to his sleeve.

As he crept forward, he apologized.

“Sorry, they did mention that he was missing the flesh that stuck to the door.”

Coffin took a deep breath, and immediately regretted it – but, to reassure the former Mrs. Davis, he kept talking.

“This handsome fellow is essentially an urban legend powered by a bunch of hormonally over-active imaginations and the afterimage of a ghost that doesn’t have enough willpower left to make its own way. I know it’s tough to remember that when you can see snot dripping from his nose, and freezing upon the ground, but I’ve never found closing my eyes to be any help, because then you know they’re there, you just can’t see them.”

Although he watched their progress intently, the beggared form remained motionless and silent.

Five more steps and they’d closed the distance. With his free hand Will brought forth a key.

He held the nickel-plated shape into the view of Jack’s bulging, lidless, pupil, then spoke.

“This is a copy to the garbage area entrance. I got it from the manager of the building, and he’s also agreed to have it crazy glued outside, in the crack beside the jamb. By tomorrow morning it’ll be buried in the stuff, but that shouldn’t be a problem for you.”

Coffin felt spiny icicles spear through his hand as the apparition took hold of the metal.

Then the man disappeared, and his reek with him.

Flexing his palm, Will scooped the token from where it had fallen. He tucked both it, and the silver chain, out of sight.

“I think we’ve convinced the spirit of the dead man to move on, so long as we keep our bargain. I’d appreciate it if, tomorrow, you could start spreading the tale of why Fadi has a key cemented into the wall. We need to make an addition to the myth to be sure.”

Reaching into her rear-pocket, Bunny fished out a small plastic bottle of vodka. She removed the lid with gusto, and swallowed the contents in a single slug.

“OK,” she said, smacking her lips. “Listen. I don’t know what the —- that was, but I do know that if I go back up to my place, my dead —-ing husband is going to be slapping my — and calling me —–y —-ing names. Can I stay at your place or not?”

Will was startled at the suggestion. He spent a long moment weighing the annoyance of an inebriated visitor against the constant haunting of his own wife.

It wasn’t the first time he’d given someone sanctuary – he guessed that she must have heard such from whomever had originally spread the word of his craft to her ear.

“Fine,” he said, “but you clean up your own mess, buy your own food, and, if you’re more than a couple of days, you’ll need to start pitching in for my bills. No one stays more than a month, I’m not looking for a roommate.”

He didn’t realize then that it would be many years – well after the story of Sulphur Jack had been entirely forgotten – before their association ended.

 

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.

Will Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song – A New Man, by Kevin Macleod of incompetech.com

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

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Flash Pulp 130 – Coffin: Bunny Davis, Part 2 of 3

16 Feb

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and thirty.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present Coffin: Bunny Davis, Part 2 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the collected jabberings of Captain Ignatius Pigheart – frothy tales of mermaids and seamen, as recounted by the Captain himself.

Buy the stories, full of humour and high adventure, at CD Baby

 

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

Tonight, Will Coffin must ask a difficult question.

 

Flash Pulp 130 – Coffin: Bunny Davis, Part 2 of 3

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

 

Stepping from the elevator, Will adjusted his hold on the television he’d recently received as payment from Bunny Davis, and moved towards the small office that adjoined the lobby. Between the slats of the aqua-marine blinds, which the building’s superintendent had hung to provide some privacy within the glass walls, Coffin could see the short Lebanese man behind a stack of paperwork.

As the manager noticed his approach, a hand went to the rosary Will knew he kept tucked in the A-shirt he wore beneath his polyester armour.

“Can I ask a favour, Fadi?” Will said through the open doorway, while balancing the TV against the jamb.

“Of course, my friend.” Fadi tried to smile.

“Rewind the tape twenty-minutes.” As he spoke, Coffin’s eyes tracked to the monitor displaying footage from the only working security camera in the entranceway.

The smile finally took, and the little man rose from his cluttered desk, making his way to the ancient VCR.

“Things are well?” he asked, his fingers stabbing at the device’s faded buttons.

“As well as ever,” Will responded. “You may want to call Kim and her friends to come by tomorrow morning though, you’ll have cruisers parked out front pretty soon.”

There was a moment filled with only the hum of the tape machine taking back time. The office dweller sucked in his lower lip and released it from between his teeth with small pop.

“That should be enough.” With a metallic clunk, the recording process began anew.

“Thanks,” said Coffin.

“No problem, my friend.” the manager replied. His grin had faded.

Will gave a quick good bye, then departed. As he did so, he saw the suit move to grab the phone – likely to make an appointment with Kimberly Berg, a mutual acquaintance who ran a crime-scene cleaning crew.

It was a short walk to his own apartment, and, after storing the twenty-one inch set in a bedroom closet stacked full with screens of all sizes, he threw his coat across the red wing-back chair which made up the only furniture in his living room.

He spent a few seconds staring at the sliding glass which lead to the balcony, then turned to face the kitchen. Stepping onto the cold tiles, Will flicked on the lone still-functioning fluorescent bulb, and considered his options. As he completed gnawing down his thumbnail, he strolled back to his bed and reached for the cheap portable phone he kept on an adjacent nightstand.

He called his sister-in-law.

The conversation took about forty-minutes, and he spent the majority of it listening, or saying “sure”.

Once he’d hung up, he stood, and his knees popped in complaint. He always felt older than his years following a talk with Peggy. Shuffling back into the hall, he spared another glance for the patio door, then re-entered the kitchen and prepared some frosted flakes with milk.

He was half way through the cereal when he dropped his bowl in annoyance.

Unable to bring himself to hold off any longer, he strode across the living room’s rough carpet and moved the locking mechanism downward.

Will didn’t bother retrieving his jacket – he didn’t need the silver chain to speak with Sandra.

Sandra was always there.

He dropped a socked-foot onto the cement outside.

Grasping the warm steel of the railing with both hands, he coughed to clear his throat, then spoke.

“Hello.”

Eighteen floors below, Sandy commenced untangling herself.

She lifted her upper body in a crisp push up, and, despite the fact that she whispered into the parking-lot pavement, her voice carried to his ear as if she had snuck up behind him while he was chasing a mystery through one of the thick tomes that lined his bedroom shelves.

“Hello, Will,” she replied, beginning to crawl towards the wall that ran the height of the building. “How are things? How’s your Mom?”

“Yeah, funny – listen, I need a favour.” His eyes never left her form as she once again forced her fingers bloodily between the cracks in the brickwork.

“Hon, if you want to come down here and have a chat, I’d love to provide you any favour you’d please. You know I’ve been missing you.” She had almost cleared the height of the first balcony, and her useless legs beat a sloppy rhythm against the mortar-work as she climbed.

“Tim Davis, from the south tower, had an accident this morning.”

“Yeah, Will, I’ve already heard about Tim. Didn’t seem like much of an accident, the way I was told it. Speaking of bladed objects to the face, do you remember the time that manifestation of Santa Claus came at you with those promotional steak-knives? Back at the Wallmalton Plaza? Long time ago I guess. Do you still hate Christmas because it? Watching you chucking presents to fend him off must have been one of the funniest things I ever saw. You’re lucky for that jacket, or it would have been you, and not that poor fleet of plastic reindeer, who ended up perforated.”

Her stalling chatter had brought her a third of the way to him, and he could see the trail of her progress staining the route. He knew that the bonds of her prison pulled tighter as she rose; that once she surrendered her will to the inexorable gravity that pulled her back to her twisted fetal position, all of the nail and flesh she’d grated away would also find its way home; but he still couldn’t help but feel a little heart sick for the fingers that had once probed his defenses for ticklish spots.

Will Coffin“There was a smell of sulphur before I went in. Other than the obvious, I can’t think of anything that would leave that sort of stench lying around. Also, after chatting with the former Mrs. Davis, I don’t think she’s capable of killing anything under her own power – even with the provocation she had. I feel like there’s something more at work.”

He took in a deep breath.

She had made it past the three-quarter mark, and he was sure she was getting faster with every attempted ascent. It was time to make his closing pitch.

“Oh, I forgot to mention, I talked to Peggy tonight. You wouldn’t believe what happened to Vilmer Jr. last week at school.”

Although their network of conversation carried much information, the dead rarely had news on the living. On those nights when Will came to talk of her sister’s family, the phantasm would often stop before even reaching the mid-point, not wanting to risk shortening the chat.

“If you have anything interesting to tell me by tomorrow morning, I’ll gladly spend some time recounting the details of Vil’s shop-class saga.”

Sandra paused, and he knew he had her – she might have been homicidal, but she wasn’t unreasonable.

“Will, you really are a dick sometimes. Fine, but you better be here early. Hey, in the meanwhile, how about telling me what else you got up to today?” She had resumed climbing, although at a slower pace.

“Sorry,” he replied.

He turned and pushed back the flimsy curtain, quickly stepping over the threshold and pulling the seal tight behind him. As he reset the small lock, Sandra’s muffled scream emanated through the heavy barrier. He felt a flush of respect for the strength with which she resisted the unseen hands that tugged her back to the center of her universe, the small patch of ground she’d inhabited for the last ten years.

Unfortunately, respect was no help when she finally flopped over the edge of the balcony, and began rubbing the juicy nubs of her fingers against the glass. He dumped the remainder of his cereal down the sink, and marooned the dirty dishes on the kitchen table.

“Sometimes you aren’t a very good wife,” he shouted.

The phone began to ring, and he was pleased at the unexpected distraction. As he retreated into the depths of his apartment to answer, however, he was chased by the squeaking sound of a wet squeegee on a filthy windshield.

 

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.

Will Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song – A New Man, by Kevin Macleod of incompetech.com

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

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Flash Pulp 129 – Coffin: Bunny Davis, Part 1 of 3

15 Feb

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present Coffin: Bunny Davis, Part 1 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
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This week’s episodes are brought to you by the collected jabberings of Captain Ignatius Pigheart – tales that’ll warm the cockles of any musky urchin.

Buy the stories, full of humour and high adventure, at CD Baby

 

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 introduce Will Coffin, a man of unusual knowledge and charms.

 

Flash Pulp 129 – Coffin: Bunny Davis, Part 1 of 3

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

 

Will Coffin ran his eyes over the shimmering expanse of parking lot, idly wondering what made the power lines hum on a hot day, and dipped his hand into the small bag of sunflower seeds that sat beside him on the bench. He hated his new spot outside of the Eats & Treats, it got too much sun during the day, and there were never any pigeons around to feed, but his old haunt had burned to the ground, and he didn’t feel comfortable loitering in a vacant lot.

Still, people knew where to find him.

He was spitting out the last of the seed husks when he noted Bunny Davis, from the north tower, crossing the street. She was wearing a long, white-fuzzed bathrobe.

Will tossed the plastic sack in the garbage, and laid mental odds regarding her destination: the interior of the chain-store, or his own curb-side office. He stood at a fifty-fifty split until she was close enough that he could better make out her face, and then the odds began to slide. When her housecoat slipped open to reveal her puffy body covered in blood, Coffin moved to stand.

“Will, I need help.”

Rather than interrupt, he simply waited out the obvious part of the discussion.

“I’ve killed Tim!”

It was the last coherent statement she would make for a while, as Bunny seemed to begin an attempt to curl her extremities into herself. Her arms became locked against her rough face, covering the spider-lines left on her cheeks and nose by drink, and she sank to the ground.

“Come on now,” Will said, placing a hand on her shoulder- the knotted knuckles of his long fingers looked out of place on the white fuzz. “You’ll hurt your knees that way.”

He lifted her to his.

Embarrassed on her behalf, regarding her robe, he attempted to draw it closed without bringing her attention to the fact that it had been open. In the end he had to take off his own beaten leather jacket, and place it over her knees. She’d been relatively oblivious during the process, resorting instead to expressing herself through an unwavering, extended-squeal.

Coffin suspected it might have been a scream too large for her throat.

Mr. Nickels, from the east tower, came into the view, hustling his wheelchair across the street while raising a hand to Will. As he neared, he took in the weeping white fluff, and his course altered slightly – instead of intersecting the bench, he sailed towards the store’s automatic doors and disappeared inside.

Unmindful, Bunny continued her kettle-screech.

After a while, Nickels exited the shop. In his lap was the victory prize of a pack of smokes, having been won after ten rounds of jawing with Lornie, the shop’s owner. As he passed, he gave Will a quick nod, then turned, setting his jaw as he made to cross during a blinking yellow light.

Will eyed the sky.

The time was coming when people would be arriving home from work, and he wanted to be clear of the street by then. Between five and midnight, they too shared the neighbourhood.

He stood, pacing a little, which seemed to be enough for Bunny to finally get a grip on the emotional valve that had given way. Her squeal contracted to a halt, and she looked up at Will. She attempted to speak, but at first she could only manage a cough.

After a moment, she did a poor job of spitting a combination of blood and mucus onto the pavement, then she tried again.

“We were just sitting around talking. That song, “Heart of Glass” came on? I love that song.” She made a sound that could have been either a throat clear, or a laugh, and spat again. “Tim says ‘Shut that —-ing thing off,’ but I’ve got half a bottle of backbone in me, and I figure, —- that, we know they ain’t home in the place above or below, so why not have some fun? I turn it up a little and that’s when he —-ing kicks me on the leg, just below my ass. I don’t know if he was aiming for my cheek, or what, but he probably would have broken my tailbone with those —-ing work boots of his.

“I go over, and suddenly I’m staring at the bottom of the table and realizing how much gum we’ve actually shoved under there. He reaches across and turns down the radio, then sits down to butter his toast like nothing ever happened – like he can just ignore that —-. I sat up, got the rest of the bottle down, and went into the kitchen to get the cleaver with the wood handle that my Mom left me when she passed. I’m standing there, and I’m yelling at him, and he just looks so mad that I’m pretty sure if I put the cleaver down, he’s going to pick it back up again, and that’ll be the end of me – but then he starts laughing, and I KNOW if I put it down, it’ll be the end of me.”

Her telling was interrupted as she began to shiver, and Will, glancing at his watch, decided it might be best if they got traveling. He stood, offering her a hand.

As they waited out the cross traffic at the light, Bunny continued.

“Well, after a while he sort of realized we were at a standoff. He decides he’s going to go into the kitchen, and he grabs a fish fillet-er out of the block. I’d followed him into the room, screaming not to —-ing move, when I really should have been running out the —-ing door. Anyhow, he gets the knife and he starts threatening again, and every now and then he takes a swing at me. At first he’s just trying to scare me, but then he cut me, “ she raised a hand to her stomach, but never broke stride on the cracked asphalt of the crosswalk. “I was sure he was going to really mean the next one, so I brought the knife down on his forehead like I was chopping wood. Damned if Tim didn’t fall straight over on his spine – toes of his boots up in the air and that handle pushin’ down his nose – just like Daffy Duck catching a frying pan with his face.”

Her story carried them through the front door of her building, past the red brick work, the Sears artwork, and the fake potted palms flanking the elevators. A Vietnamese woman, holding a brown paper bag of take out, stood waiting. The up button was already illuminated. Bunny distractedly attempted to knot the front of her robe, failed on the first attempt, and had to loosen it once she had succeeded. After a ten minute wait, the panels slid open, and the three rode upward while trying to ignore the unsettling grinding noises of the ancient hoist.

Bunny led the way as they exited, directing him to a long a barren hall, adorned only with a harshly-patterned carpet that reminded Will of his few experiences with Las Vegas casinos.

The smell of the hall filled his nostrils as he passed through it. His stomach growled at the smell of a simmering curry, but was quickly quelled by the stink of a chain smoker. Beneath it all, there was something more: a vague hint of sulphur.

Will followed Bunny’s lead in keeping the door as closed as possible as they went through, but the entryway contained nothing but a filthy rug and a pair of worn sneakers.

“Huh.” Will said, passing through the small dining room, towards the kitchen. He was familiar with all of the interior layouts of the towering apartment blocks that populated his neighborhood.

Upon viewing the sprawled body of the former Mr. Davis, his initial thought was that the knife – a thick bladed affair, its long wooden handle smoothed by years of honest use – had pushed Tim’s nose so far down that it might have been almost funny, if it didn’t look so uncomfortable. He considered pulling the handle up a bit to give the dead man some breathing room, but decided it wasn’t worth leaving the weepy killer to explain why it had been wiped down.

“I want to tell him I’m sorry,” said Bunny.

“Huh.” Will said again.

The cooking area was long and narrow, with a small, floral-topped table on one side. Over the knife-scoured counter a pass-through revealed the living room’s lop-sided couch, from which peeked yellow stuffing from numerous cigarette burns.

“Do you know the price?” Coffin asked.

“Yep,” she replied.

“Go into the bedroom and wait.”

He watched until the white robe had disappeared through the doorway, then bent low over the corpse.

Unzipping the right hand pocket of his beaten jacket, he pulled forth a silver charm on a length of slender chain. The talisman had something of the appearance of a hook, but it’s sharpened point bent into a swirl of intricate lacing, so that threading anything onto it required some maneuvering. At the base of the hook, stuck firmly through the middle, was a drying hunk of meat, which Will made every effort to think of as nothing more than beef jerky.

He dipped the links onto the body’s left cheek, and let the cold metal drag along its temple.

Then he tugged.

Will CoffinThe un-affixed hook had suddenly taken on weight, but Coffin put his arm to it, and out popped the ghost of Tim Davis, as if pulled by an ethereal magnet.

“That —-,” said the phantom.

Will shrugged. “I don’t think the police are going to think so – that’s a mean slash across her belly, and you have a look about you which suggests you may be the the kind of fellow around which a lady might require a little self-defence.”

The apparition narrowed its gauzy eyes.

“You looking to move in on my woman?”

“No. Bunny wants me to tell you she’s sorry.”

“Sorry? Oh, I’ll make her —-ing sorry.” Tim took a step towards the doorway, but was stymied at the end of his tether. Without turning, he demanded to be let go.

“Fine,” Coffin replied. Dropping his grip, the chain went suddenly limp, passing through the spectre and landing in a heap on the battered linoleum.

Davis attempted to bring another leg forward, but found himself pulling against a terrific force.

“What?” was all he managed before he dropped to one knee. His efforts were useless, however; he tumbled into his own remains, once again assuming their exact position.

Will rubbed a tired eye, then picked up his artifact and re-pocketed it.

As he pushed his way into the bedroom, Bunny jumped to her feet.

“Is it over?”

“I told him.”

“Did he say anything?”

The leather jacket raised in another shrug.

Realizing any further answer he gave would be just as unlikely to satisfy her, she moved on.

“About what I owe you – there’s a flat screen in the living room…”

“No, you may need to pawn it for bail.” The woman’s eyes misted as Coffin spoke. “I’ll just take this twenty-one inch, it’s a better fit to the price of the job. I’m going to go, but you need to call the police as soon as I’m out. Show them what he did, and tell them what you told me. Just be patient, and you’ll make out all right – but, by the crushing damnation of Kar’Wick’s-brood, don’t mention I was here.”

Will believed firmly that people better followed his instructions if he spiced them up with some of his professional jargon.

He scooped up the small TV, then waited for some response from his patron.

Bunny nodded.

He exited the apartment, pausing at the door only long enough to hear the three flat beeps that began a 911 call.

 

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.

Will Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song – A New Man, by Kevin Macleod of incompetech.com

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

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)