FP373 – Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and seventy-three.

Flash PulpTonight we present Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 2 of 3

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Way of the Buffalo

 

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, our private investigator, Mulligan Smith, finds himself stretching both his limbs and the truth.

 

Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 2 of 3

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

 

Mulligan finally got lucky during his third yoga class.

The studio was a converted loft apartment overtop a vegan restaurant, with a pass-through kitchen at one end and a bay window, overlooking the pedestrian traffic below, at the other. Though Smith doubted he could afford the habit if he weren’t expensing it, a rainbow of twenty mats were already laid out on the parquet floor as he entered.

The first two sessions had been conducted by a bearded willow tree named Dakota. Dakota was a nice enough fellow, and he’d done a bit to correct Mulligan’s Dolphin pose, but the PI was quite pleased to find him absent that Sunday afternoon.

Still, as the room began to fill with the recorded sounds of flutes and chimes, the investigator again felt the guilt of wasted time. Grandmother Woodward, his client, certainly had the cash to spare – she’d made that clear as they sat through tea in her Victorian style garden – but it frustrated the PI that he couldn’t even claim to be learning anything useful.

Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 2 of 3Years of sitting in the less-than-ergonomic front seat of the Tercel while waiting out errant spouses and insurance frauds had already made Smith a well-practiced pupil. It was not uncommon, in the fifth of a probable ten hour watch, for Mulligan to simply step out of his vehicle and Downward Dog right there on the pavement.

The remorse disappeared at the sight of Victoria Woodward.

She was wearing black leggings and a spaghetti strap top that did nothing to hide the light blue stone of her belly-button piercing.

“Namaste,” she told the class as she took her position at its head.

Suddenly Mulligan’s Dolphin slipped again, and his back refused to stay straight during his Plow. Not so badly that he embarrassed himself, of course, but certainly enough to draw Victoria’s eye.

Finally, after a serene hour of stretching, the session came to a close.

Smiling, Smith walked to the ornate rack of wooden coat hangers, pulled his sweater from its resting place, then approached his newly returned teacher.

“You’ve been away?” he asked.

Briefly biting her lower lip, his client’s daughter – the mother of the supposedly missing toddler, Addison Woodward – replied, “yeah?”

It was hard to remain nervous, however, under the glare of Mulligan’s practiced grin.

“Thanks for your help today,” he continued, “I’d heard you were really good but you haven’t been around the last couple of times I’ve been in.”

“Oh! Yeah, I was at a spa – it was fantastic, just a few days in the country with the trees and the birds and nothing to worry about, you know?”

Mulligan nodded and did his best to ignore the way her tone seemed to be trying to convince him of the truth of her words, but, before he could respond, she changed the subject.

“You said someone recommended me? Who?”

Smith’s hunch had come to him the previous evening, as he’d picked apart a Denny’s club sandwich. He’d spread three photos of the yoga instructor on the booth’s tabletop, alongside a column of website printouts. The photos were from the first day of his investigation, after which Victoria had immediately disappeared.

Though they’d provided no hint as to her location, her social media profiles had made it clear that she considered her yoga class as more than a job, so he’d known where to wait for her return.

His search had also uncovered something he found considerably more troubling, however.

It had started with postings about GMO wheat crammed between videos demonstrating proper pose posture, but, the further the detective scrolled, the deeper the well grew. Items began to crop up in her feed about black site prisons, about the dangers of vaccines, about the fascism of the American state.

He’d had to back away from his keyboard when, two status updates below a photo of baby Addison, he’d stumbled across a diatribe written by Victoria that began, “The conmen that make up the scientific community…” and had continued on for twelve more paragraphs.

Was it pleasant? No, but plenty of people were a parent and unpleasant at the same time.

So where was the child? Probably with a babysitter, as the mother had always claimed.

Yet, later, as he’d drained his milkshake and buried the photos beneath his mute father’s notes from the press conference – Smith always filed his observations, just in case – his half-formed suspicion had grown into a no-you’re-just-being-paranoid hypothesis.

Now, with a conscious effort to keep his friendly smirk in place, Mulligan filled his nose with the thick smell of freshly lit incense and played his hunch.

“Posey Cotton,” he answered.

The senior Smith had called in some favours still owed to the former police sergeant, but no one in the beehive of activity surrounding the Cotton baby’s case could draw any connections between Victoria and the missing child’s mother.

Mulligan caught the hesitation in the yogi’s response, and noted the briefest tug at her left cheek.

Suddenly he was sure he wasn’t wasting Grandma’s time at all.

“Poor Posey,” replied Victoria, “that whole thing is just so sad.”

“I know, right?” answered Mulligan as he tugged at his sweater’s zipper. “Anyhow – gotta see a sorcerer about my chakras and all that.”

Smith’s feet carried him to the stairwell at such a pace that he nearly forgot to call out a “namaste” as he departed.

He had an appointment to make.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – 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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    FP372 – Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 1 of 3

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and seventy-two.

    Flash PulpTonight we present Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 1 of 3

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    This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Way of the Buffalo

     

    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, finds himself contemplating a possible kidnapping while standing on the warm pavement of a Walmart parking lot.

     

    Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 1 of 3

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

     

    Mulligan stood to the left of the scrum of reporters, his cabbie-capped father beside him and a sad imitation of coffee in his hand.

    A gull wheeled overhead, riding the gentle breeze to hover above the cluster of dress-uniformed policemen on the far side of the wooden platform, and Smith wondered for the third time if this Snipe hunt was ever going to get underway.

    With a look of mourning, he tossed the barely cooled cup onto an already congested trashcan.

    His father already had a response scrawled out across a thin white sheet of notepad paper, “it may have been complimentary, but it’s hard to be complimentary,” but the PI replied only with a groaning chuckle and a shake of his head.

    The knot of deep blue began to breakup, reforming to face the crowd and revealing a petite woman of perhaps twenty-nine. Posey Cotton’s blond curls wavered gently at the edge of her knitted beanie, and her tears ran clear to the black cloth of her dress and leggings.

    Stepping onto the makeshift stage that had, until recently, been a gardening display, Commissioner Ender approached the bristling collection of extended arms.

    Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 1 of 3“Mrs. Cotton would like to make a plea directly to the public,” Ender told the mics, “but I ask that you hold your questions. Clearly it’s been a rough two hours.”

    An intern from the Capital City Star shot a garbled inquiry from the back of the crowd, but the Commissioner’s stare, and the grumbling of his fellow journalists, brought him to silence.

    Taking the hush as acceptance of his terms, Ender stepped away and allowed the grieving mother to come to the forefront.

    Dabbing at her eyes, Posey took a deep breath and began.

    “I don’t know why, two hours ago, you stole my angel from my Escalade. I turned for a second, and you snatched her. You must see how special she is, though – please, please don’t hurt her. You can still make this right. I promise I won’t be mad if you just let her go.

    “Kinney, if you’re watching this, know that Mama loves you. Everything’s going to be okay.”

    Having delivered her clearly rehearsed piece, Cotton unleashed a broken squeal then began to weep.

    The sobbing struck Mulligan as honest enough, but there was something about the delivery that had left a whispering in the PI’s ear.

    Still, he wasn’t convinced it was related to his case. He was looking for a toddler, sure, but it hadn’t been snatched as far as he knew – at least, not according to anyone but the Grandmother who’d hired him. He felt a little bad about working a case that seemed like little more than an expensive way to get some baby photos, but the bills weren’t going to pay themselves.

    Mulligan’s train of thought was interrupted by the landing of another sheet of paper in his palm.

    It read, “She looks dressed for the camera.”

    Raising a brow at the chunky gold pendant on the end of her long chain, her coiffed hair, and her somber but well put together silhouette, the junior Smith had to give his elder’s ex-cop eye its due. It was all the push his imagination needed to understand what the whisper in his ear was trying to say.

    “Yeah,” he replied, “she doesn’t look like a Walmart shopper, she’s looks like the kind of Whole Foods yuppy who thinks Walmart is where infants get grabbed.

    “I see some blush, some concealer – but no mascara, huh? She’s not just dressed for the camera, she’s dressed to cry.”

    No longer willing to finish the conversation, the Smiths turned from the Commissioner, now fielding questions, and returned to the PI’s rust-spotted Tercel.

    The detective wasn’t convinced the two incidents were related, but he was uncomfortably sure this newest missing child wouldn’t be found alive.

     

    Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

    Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

    Freesound.org credits:

    Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

    Spread the word!

      FP371 – Ruby: The Lone Gunman

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

      Flash PulpTonight we present Ruby: The Lone Gunman, Part 1 of 1

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      This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Way of the Buffalo

       

      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 must deal with both the hungry mouths of the horde and the feverish thoughts of a rugged individual.

       

      Ruby Departed: The Lone Gunman

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

       

      Ruby Departed: A Zombie Fiction Podcast

       

      Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

      Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

      Freesound.org credits:

      Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

      Spread the word!

        MMN3 – 3 Ninjas

        MMN3 - 3 Ninjas

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        Join JMay and The Mob for a viewing of the 1992 “classic” 3 Ninjas!

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        If you have comments, questions or suggestions, you can find us at http://skinner.fm, or email us text/mp3s to comments@flashpulp.com.

        This commentary is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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          FP370 – Coffin: Looking Down

          Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and seventy.

          Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Looking Down, Part 1 of 1

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          This week’s episodes are brought to you by We Are Not Here To Please You

           

          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, tells a tiny tale of woe to his unusually miserable apprentice, Bunny.

           

          Coffin: Looking Down

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

           

          Bunny was furious with her nose and everything around it.

          She was sure pancakes, fry grease, and the cologne of the guy two booths over, were giving her a migraine.

          “F##k Denny’s,” she said.

          Will looked up from the club sandwich pictured on his menu and shrugged.

          “It’s cold. You’d prefer to hang around on a bench with snow in your shoes and no feeling in your fingers?”

          “How is anyone supposed to know we’re here?”

          “Consistency.”

          For a moment the bar she normally would have been sitting in came to mind, and Bunny nearly opened her mouth to follow up on the conversation – the problem, of course, was that the bar reminded her of good stories and dancing with the three Steves and every other excuse she’d ever used to get drunk.

          She might have complained about how hard she was finding sobriety. She might have told Will about the monstrous figures that sometimes seemed to shimmer at the edge of her vision. She might have launched into the actually rather eloquent argument for permanent drunkenness that she’d written and re-written in her head while shaking and sweating beneath her sheets.

          Soon, she reckoned, but not yet. Instead, she repeated herself.

          “F##k Denny’s.”

          Coffin took in the way she was picking at the skin beside her thumbnail, the bobbing of her leg, and the utter lack of focus she was showing the menu.

          He asked, “have you found the Morrow diary?”

          Beneath the table the tap-tap-tap of her bouncing boot heel ceased.

          “Nope,” she replied, “I’m still gnawing my way through the clusterf##k littering the hallway bookshelves.”

          Will scanned the post-lunch stragglers for anyone close enough to overhear, then started to read the details listed beside the Philly Melt.

          Nodding, he said, “it opens in July, 1972, and it starts pretty boring.

          “Conrad, its author, talks about buying a second car, the scores of his kid’s little league games, and enjoying the occasional cigar. That’s about as exotic as his tastes get. He loves his wife, his son, and his train set – in that order.

          “The set was one of those old-school affairs setup on multiple tables. H.O. scale countryside and green felt as far as the eye can see. He called it Macropolis. Based on what he describes I assume the thing absorbed most of his basement. Twice he mentions knocking out walls to make room – once before the death of Agnes, his wife, and once after.

          “His description of how it started put me in mind of Victorian London, but with more steam trains plodding through rows of fake trees.

          “Agnes seemed nice, although I only have what he wrote to go on. She must have been a patient woman to have put up with that level of nerdery. There are a few scattered reviews of drive-in movies they saw with Dean, their kid, snoozing in the back, and they tended to spend their Saturday nights drinking gin and tonics together while playing cards with friends in the kitchen.

          “She got sick in early August, and she was dead by mid-October. ”

          Coffin paused there, as a server had arrived. Her name tag declared the pixie-cut wearing teen’s name to be “Carrie.”

          “Ah, f##kin’ Denny’s,” muttered Bunny, her eyes quickly dropping back to her menu.

          “What can I get you today?” asked Carrie, but Will caught the twitch in her smile.

          Decisions were outside of her current capability, so Bunny turned on the girl. “What’s the least s##tty thing you sell? Actually, gimme the second least s##ttiest as well, I need options.”

          With a grace that Coffin thought spoke well of her, Carrie ducked forward and jabbed a finger at the photo of a towering burger.

          “That’s definitely not shitty,” she said.

          “Fine,” answered Bunny, “I’ll take three.”

          Frowning, Will considered her order, then his wallet.

          “Just coffee,” he told the teen.

          Bunny’s mind was already elsewhere. She’d taken to listing every individual item in the restaurant and internally telling it to f##k off.

          The lights were too bright and the cutlery was too loud and sobriety was just too goddamn hard.

          Once Carrie was beyond earshot, Coffin asked, “you covering lunch today?”

          Coffin: Urban Shaman, A Skinner Co. PodcastThough her roommate was still well down the list, the obvious implication that her ass was broke was enough to convince Bunny to jump ahead.

          Her face puckered, and Will prepared his ears for an extended auditory assault.

          An in-breath was as far as her retort went, however. She hadn’t paid for a meal in months, and she knew it. She had one friend left, and she was about to compare him to the worst sort of cattle rapist.

          She felt her eyes grow wet. She was suddenly only mad at herself.

          Her chin sagged, her shoulders collapsed, and she asked, “the f##k’s the point of anything anyway?”

          Coffin cleared his throat.

          “The diary restarts in February ’74,” he said. “Conrad was still mourning, and there’s no more mention of little league games. I think he started writing again for the same reasons he re-focused Macropolis: He was seeking direction.

          “His project, he’d decided, would mirror the town he and Agnes grew up in. Sometime in 1973 he tore down pseudo-London entirely and started laying out the massive black-iron train engines of the 1940s.

          “The notes become obsessive: Plans for how to approach what wasn’t built, ways he could modify hobby shop figures to fill in for people he once knew, scrawled listings for upcoming swap meets that seemed likely to yield useful architecture.

          “It gets so bad that I was almost surprised when Dean is mentioned a few months in. Until then it was as if he’d died too, or at least like he’d been sent to live with a distant relative.

          “He only received one line of notice – that they’d stopped at a farm, on the way back from a rummage sale where Conrad had scored some bungalows, and the kid had convinced him to let him have a dog.

          “The mutt, which Dean named Beagle Bailey, actually gets a few more footnotes after that, but once he’s housebroken both he and the boy fade into the background again.

          “Late in the summer, while buying a stack of teeny bicycles from the trunk of a station wagon parked at the edge of a farmers’ market, a toothless grandmother looks over at him from her lawn chair and pegs him instantly.

          “‘What is it?’ she asks, ‘dead child?’

          “He didn’t wonder how she knew till later, but he answers, ‘wife.’

          “The page following that is ripped out, but the results are obvious.

          “The next entry is two days later, and he’s talking about ‘the process.’ Macropolis has a new Mayor, he reports, Mr. Madigan. Mr. Madigan is a short man – well, shorter even than his tiny friends – who wears a top hat and sports a thick white painted beard.

          “Mr. Madigan is named after the real Mr. Madigan, and his appearance is as close as Conrad can recall from his childhood. More impressively, the new Maddigan has quickly taken to helping with the construction of his town.

          “Upon being provided with sewing scissors, for example, the miniature mayor takes to trimming the cloth and felt shrubberies. A police force of three quickly follows, then the Morrow family doctor, the teen who Conrad envied for working the soda fountain counter, and as many of the man’s classmates as he can remember.

          “The classmates, children really, need teachers, and the teachers need a principal, and the principle needs a maintenance crew – and the cycle continues until one morning Conrad wakes to discover a train has hit Glen Herbert from third grade.

          “Now, the impact itself wouldn’t have been so bad, but the Macropolans’ hand motions make it clear that Glen had been sent flying from the edge of the table. I can only assume Beagle Bailey figured it was a bug he was chewing.

          “Conrad erects a plexiglass wall around the outside of his fiefdom, zones and develops a graveyard, then organizes a funeral so the people of Macropolis can gather to say goodbye.

          “A week later, though, he gives in to temptation and builds a new Glen. Still, by the way it reads, he was plenty angry with Dean for having let the dog into the basement in the first place.

          “With a bit of work he gets a fountain setup at the center of town. He builds a post office, then organizes a theoretically functional postal system. There’s really very little the mailmen can do, given that none of the town’s inhabitants have functional fingers or writing implements, but everyone in Macropolis seems pleased to have something to do.

          “The incident with Glen Herbert kept him from ever animating any dogs, but the memories of a big black Tom that used to howl outside his window brings him to create a few cats to prowl the thumb-wide alleys.

          “Making them speak was beyond him – probably beyond me too, if I’d ever been able to track down the ritual he’d obviously ripped out.

          “Anyhow, he couldn’t help himself. Like a train barreling down the tracks he ran his memory right to the end of the line. The second last figure he painted and brought to life was Agnes at sixteen.

          “He couldn’t talk to her, like I said, but she seemed to understand his lopsided conversations all right, and he would often find himself passing the hours simply watching her.

          “It still wasn’t enough though. He placed a perfect replica of his own boyhood home, then he began painting a mini him.

          “The last few entries are rough. Conrad grapples with the fact that he built a perfect simulation of everything he wanted that he’ll never be able to enter. Less than a week after his project was complete, Morrow put a gun in his mouth while standing at the cusp of this creation. I guess it says something that the papers reported that Dean found the corpse two days later.”

          Three burgers and a coffee arrived, and there was a beat of silence as Carrie did her best to politely toss the food onto the table and sprint away.

          Finally, once she’d collected her bread and beef in a row, Bunny asked, “what happened to the little b#####ds? Is there a pint-sized Stepford sitting forgotten in some basement?”

          “No,” answered Will. He blew on his coffee. “They must have crawled down the corpse and scattered. Maybe they’re living in the walls of the house, maybe they spread out across the neighbourhood, or maybe the dog got ‘em.

          “It was actually Dean who gave me the book, and it was the last of Macropolis he had.

          “He was in his mid-twenties when I visited, but he’d started a family of his own in the same house: Him, his wife, their own young son, and old man Beagle Bailey, who was asleep by the door. Dean had sold or given away everything that hadn’t run off, and said I was the only person who’d ever come around asking – till then he’d just believed his dad was a nutter. I think my showing up made Dean hate him slightly less, at least”

          “Sweet weeping dog balls,” said Bunny, “what the f##k was the point of that story? Which are you telling me, to stick a gun in my mouth or that I’ll never achieve my dreams? F##king f##k, man.”

          “No, I’m saying instead of building a fantasy in your mind that you can never achieve you should buy a goddamn dog and start moving on.”

          For a moment the air was filled with the noisy entry of a trio of college boys in too-tight t-shirts, then, with a sigh, Bunny pushed one of her pearl-white plates across the table.

           

          Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

          Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

          Freesound.org credits:

          Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

          Spread the word!

            FC102 – The

            FC102 - The

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            Hello, and welcome to FlashCast 102.

            Prepare yourself for: Four Loko apocalypse, the bionic Olympics, fake Ukranian diplomats, the age of consent, and Mulligan Smith.

            * * *

            Huge thanks to:

            * * *

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            Audio-dacity of Hope:

          • Check out the new items on the store!
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            Art of Narration:

          • Email Opop about Skinner Co. Ink at opopanax at skinner dot fm!
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            Backroom Plots:

          • Proud Mary
          • Park Right
          • Mulligan Smith in Life in the Fast Lane
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            Also, many thanks, as always, Retro Jim, of RelicRadio.com for hosting FlashPulp.com and the wiki!

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            If you have comments, questions or suggestions, you can find us at http://skinner.fm, or email us text/mp3s to comments@flashpulp.com.

            FlashCast is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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              FP369 – Mulligan Smith in Life in the Fast Lane

              Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and sixty-nine.

              Flash PulpTonight we present Mulligan Smith in Life in the Fast Lane, Part 1 of 1

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              This week’s episodes are brought to you by We Are Not Here To Please You

               

              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, finds himself doing some fast driving.

               

              Mulligan Smith in Life in the Fast Lane

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

               

              The sedan, rarely driven over fifty, was still moving nimbly at eighty.

              Mulligan, behind the wheel, had banked onto the freeway while the redheaded woman to his right was distracted with her phone, and, as such, the sudden acceleration had come to her as a surprise.

              Rita Perkins was fifty-two, wore her hair in a bushy loose ponytail, and was holding a clipboard emblazoned with a Learning Curves logo over her short green skirt.

              “Where – why are we on this road?” she asked.

              Though there was a brake at her foot the dense pack of high-speed traffic meant she could only use it with careful consideration.

              Pulling smoothly left, Smith answered, “I thought I’d work on my lane changes?”

              Rather than answer, his passenger took a moment to gather her thoughts as he weaved between a transport truck and a harried commuter shouting at his earpiece.

              Watching the man’s bobbing tie as he argued into the air, she bit her lip and snuggled her seat, but, a mile later, with open road ahead, she made a second attempt to approach the conversation.

              “You seem exceptionally comfortable behind the wheel.”

              This was true. While waiting out a philandering husband in the parking lot of a Sheraton, the private investigator had recently calculated that he’d spent more hours that week in his Tercel’s driver’s seat than he had sleeping. Better yet, the little Nissan he was currently piloting handled quite like his rolling office.

              Still, he had inquiries to make.

              Mulligan Smith, PI, - A Skinner Co. Network Podcast“Sure,” he said, “watch this.”

              With a flourish of heel-toe work the car shifted two lanes, ducked in front of a merging minivan, then dropped onto the exit ramp.

              There was another moment of silence as they reentered downtown’s molasses flow, but, once she’d regained her breath, Rita almost posed a question.

              “You clearly don’t need any training time…”

              “You come highly recommended,” Mulligan replied, as if it were an answer. He then retrieved one of the most useful weapons he carried as a PI: The goofy smile he’d practiced in the mirror as a teen.

              It was a grin that could be forgiven anything. It had left most of his childhood punishments without teeth, and he hoped it might now bring he and his instructor closer now that she’d been reminded of her own mortality.

              Grabbing the lip of her V-necked blouse, Ms. Perkins adjusted her cleavage with two indelicate yanks. From the corner of his vision, however, Mulligan judged that there was no change between the before and after – beyond having drawn his gaze.

              He turned, his mask carefully in place, and she smirked back. Smith knew better than to move the conversation along, though – instead he set his left hand high on the wheel and his right across the thigh of his jeans.

              Finally, after a half block, she came to the question he awaited.

              “Who referred you?”

              “Cory Winkler, poor kid.”

              Rita asked, “Cory Winkler?” but he knew she meant, “Poor kid?”

              “Yeah, I mean, clearly he suggested it before everything fell apart…”

              The car had slowed, but Smith could tell it was now Perkins’ mind that was racing – he simply needed to keep it on track.

              “It’s really too bad,” he continued, “such a handsome bugger and doing so well at school. I mean – sixteen is just too young, you know?”

              Turning to give her his, “are you ok?” look, Mulligan took the opportunity to cast a reassuring pat to the knuckles kneading Rita’s clipboard.

              She gobbled up this offered comfort with pinching fingers.

              “What happened?” she asked.

              To add to the gravitas, he waited for a red light before answering.

              “It was one of those crazy new untreatable but hyper-aggressive strains of syphilis. One minute I’m watching him shoot three pointers in the driveway while talking stock options with his dad, the next I’m standing beside an open casket and trying to explain to the old man how sorry I am.”

              “Syphilis?” asked Rita.

              Single word responses were a nice sign of strain, and Smith thought he might just have the race in the bag.

              “The doctors said he probably had it for maybe a year, but it was dormant. Then, a couple Friday’s back, bam, he got hauled into the ER by some hooligan friends who thought he’d drunk himself into a case alcohol poisoning.

              “By Monday he was gone.”

              “Oh my God,” said the woman. Her face was transparent beneath her blush, her lips blue behind her lipstick. She began to sob.

              “You knew him well?”

              “No – yes – sort of.”

              His speed now a steady thirty, Mulligan gave a gentle squeeze from within his hand’s bony cocoon and asked, “you – you slept with him?”

              “Yeah,” she said, then, with a hiccup in her voice, she repeated it. “Yeah.”

              “It’ll be ok,” answered Smith, “but you’ll have to find a new job.”

              “New job? I need to find a doctor, not a job.”

              “Nah, I’m just messing with you. It was his Dad who put me onto you. Little Cory crashed the family Beemer on his test day. He was wondering if Learning Curves was maybe running a straight scam – you know, I’ll pay you a C and you give me an A – but it didn’t take much reading into the hormonal online reviews, written by pleasantly surprised teenage boys, to figure out what it was he learned in his time with you.”

              The storm upon Rita’s face broke into a gale of relieved laughter, and Mulligan retrieved his hand.

              There was something in her giggle that jabbed at the space just behind his right eye.

              Pulling alongside his Tercel, he popped the memory stick from the driver-facing camera Learning Curves had installed as an educational aid. His client didn’t pay him for opinions, but he couldn’t help himself.

              “Laugh all you like, Ms. Robinson, but if you were a fifty-year-old man macking on a sixteen-year-old student the judicial system would run you through a meat grinder.

              “If there’s enough money in a civil suit Winkler Senior’s lawyer still might.”

              Killing the engine, he stood.

               

              Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

              Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

              Freesound.org credits:

              Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

              Spread the word!

                FC101 – Tumblr

                FC101 - Tumblr

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                Hello, and welcome to FlashCast 101.

                Prepare yourself for: Game of Thrones: The Movie, South African Robot Police, Book-Free Prisoners, Belly Dancers, and Park Right

                * * *

                Huge thanks to:

                * * *

                * * *

                * * *

                * * *

                Audio-dacity of Hope:

              • Check out the new items on the store!
              • * * *

                Art of Narration:

              • Email Opop about Skinner Co. Ink at opopanax at skinner dot fm!
              • * * *

                Backroom Plots:

              • Proud Mary
              • Park Right
              • * * *

                Also, many thanks, as always, Retro Jim, of RelicRadio.com for hosting FlashPulp.com and the wiki!

                * * *

                If you have comments, questions or suggestions, you can find us at http://skinner.fm, or email us text/mp3s to comments@flashpulp.com.

                FlashCast is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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                  FP368 – Park Right

                  Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and sixty-eight.

                  Flash PulpTonight we present Park Right, Part 1 of 1

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                  This week’s episodes are brought to you by Every Photo Tells…

                   

                  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 superheroism and traffic, as seen from the dash of a slightly beaten Honda Accord.

                   

                  Park Right

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

                   

                  Mort sat behind the wheel and idly finger-drummed to the Rush song whispering from the radio. He’d turn it up, but he knew Tillie would object.

                  Instead, he did some complaining of his own.

                  “I read a theory on the internet that it’s a modified combat vehicle. If I parked a modified combat vehicle in the middle of the street you can believe someone would do something about it.”

                  Tillie looked over from her Twitter post.

                  “Like what?” she asked. “Tow it? You think there’s a wrecker in this town brave enough to get that close?”

                  Glancing at her furious thumbs, Mort risked edging Geddy Lee up a little louder.

                  “The cops should get involved,” he muttered to his window. “It ain’t like he’s got a license for the thing.”

                  “If the cops in this city could do anything about guys like him then he wouldn’t need to be here in the first place. Besides, having him around makes me feel safe.”

                  Mort frowned. “What’re we even waiting for? Another bank robbery? There’s no goddamn bank on -”

                  His rambling was interrupted by the arrival of a dozen figures, in leather pants, who appeared from the alley running between a shop whose sign simply read “CONVENIENCE” and a bar that had yet to open for the day.

                  The thick-armed men, all wearing buzzard masks, surrounded the low black car that was the source of Mort’s ire.

                  * * *

                  “Listen, all I’m saying is that my cousin can get us a gun that’ll knock down a small house. Why don’t we just climb onto a building and -”

                  A Skinner Co. Science Fiction PodcastThe squat scavenger was cut short by the leader of the flock.

                  “If your ideas were worth anything, Orlando, you’d be picking the head gear. Shut the hell up and get in line.”

                  The thugs moved shoulder-to-shoulder, blocking the road machine from Mort and Tillie’s view, as well as that of the three block snarl behind them.

                  “Orlando sort of has a point,” said Tallahassee, as he rearranged his flopping beak. “We could just wait till he gets back and -”

                  “Nope,” answered Daytona, one of the few birdmen who’d previously encountered their foe. “I ain’t paid enough. You want me to put on this goofy canary face? Fine, I would’ve worn a mask anyway – but you want me to fist fight some crazy sumbitch with access to an arsenal of technologies that probably violates international weapons laws? Fuck that, I’ll go back to pantyhose and liquor stores.”

                  The wing leader stood from his stooped position and ran a double check on his remote detonator.

                  His face lit green.

                  Lifting his arms and flapping his imagined feathers threateningly at the still-staring Mort, he told his companions, “quit talkin’ and get walkin’. Any second now our employer is going to make his bioengineered exit, and we do not want to be standing here when the chase starts.”

                  * * *

                  Tillie watched the vultures melt into the alley.

                  “We’ve got to tell him!” she said.

                  “I could leave a note?” replied Mort.

                  “This isn’t a ‘I dinged your bumper but had to run, here’s my number,’ kind of situation. What if he thinks it’s just a flyer?”

                  “Surely he’s been bombed before, I mean, he’s always parking this beast around town, he’s got to know what’s going to happen?”

                  Mort turned to Tillie and was disheartened to realize she was doing the eyebrow thing.

                  Knowing if he didn’t move first she’d likely climb up on the hood and wave the lamp jawed hero down as he came sprinting, Mort fished a yellow sticky pad from the glove box.

                  Pushing open his door, he said, “I’ll be right back.”

                  It was twenty feet to the carbon-black machine, but every step left Mort feeling as if the air was growing denser.

                  Fifteen feet and he wanted to puke.

                  Ten and he noted that his hands were shaking.

                  Five and he couldn’t find any spit in his mouth.

                  Finally he was close enough to peer unsuccessfully into the murky tint of the thick windows.

                  Lifting pen to paper, he wrote: BOMB BENEATH and applied it to the dim glass, then, considering the angle of approach, he wrote it again and circled to the opposite side.

                  His bases covered, he paused for a moment as Tillie raised her cellphone through to his Honda Accord’s dirty windshield and captured his deed for posterity. When he was sure she had it, he took five rapid steps forward.

                  It was a bird’s scream that stopped him. A block away, a massive condor took to the sky, its wings two planes of night against the gray sky. The eastward bound shadow passed briefly over the car, over Mort, over the snarl, and disappeared behind the sky-rise horizon.

                  Even before Mort could again take up walking, however, a new spot formed amongst the clouds, dropped to a hundred feet, then cruised on a cushion of flame to the spot where the monstrous bird had originated.

                  The jet, like the car, seemed made of edges and darkness.

                  “Probably doesn’t even have a goddamn pilot’s license,” muttered the note dropper.

                  Within seconds the summoned aircraft rose and gave chase.

                  Mort offered a “lot of good that does traffic,” but Tillie’s attention was already elsewhere. He guessed she was probably tweeting these newest photos.

                  So much for his moment of triumph.

                  As he lifted his left foot, an engine roared to life behind him.

                  He’d identified the cause before he realized the consequences: Autopilot to drive it home of course. Didn’t that mean the dick could’ve moved the thing at any point? Or at least left it roaming in circles?

                  It was as he thought, “oh yeah, what about the bomb?” that the explosion happened.

                  * * *

                  Seconds later, the car was silent except for the fading baseline of Tom Sawyer. Still, Tille could not yet convince herself to open her eyes. The thought that she’d just somehow killed her husband weighed too heavily on her lashes, and so long as she did not look the possibility was not a reality.

                  She was startled, then, by the slam of a door.

                  “A hover jet?” said Mort, “Do you know what kind of shit I’d get from the FAA?”

                  Maybe it was the adrenaline, maybe it was the fact that he’d nearly died while trying to save her hero, or maybe she’d actually come around to seeing his point of view – whatever the case, Tillie leaned in close and shut him up with a hero’s reward.

                   

                  Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

                  Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

                  Freesound.org credits:

                  Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

                  Spread the word!

                    FCM017 – Operation Monkee Meet

                    A Skinner Co. Production
                    Welcome to Flash Pulp Minisode 017 – Operation Monkee Meet.

                    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

                    Download MP3
                    (RSS / iTunes)

                     

                    Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

                    Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

                    Freesound.org credits:

                    Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

                    Spread the word!