FP397 – Coffin: The Hunger for Change

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and ninety-seven.

Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: The Hunger for Change

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Earth Station One

 

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, and Bunny, his increasingly sober apprentice, discuss the occult danger lurking behind the counter of a wandering ice cream truck.

 

Coffin: The Hunger for Change

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

 

It was a Sunday, and Coffin and Bunny were sitting on a bus stop bench. It was still a little too early in the season to justify frozen treats, but the chiming tune of a persistent ice cream truck portaging between suburbs had summoned their empty stomachs to action.

Bunny had a wagon wheel in one hand and a napkin, to catch the drippings, in the other.

“F##k-bugger, the first of the year is always the best,” she was saying.

Will nodded his agreement, but it was clear to his roommate that his mind was elsewhere.

“Thinking about a cursed sundae from your youth?” she asked.

It was enough to extract a twitch of a smile from Coffin’s lips.

“No,” he replied, “well, not exactly. Notice that I leaned against the truck while waiting for our lunch?”

This time it was Bunny’s turn to nod. “You did appear to be sauntering at an unusually jaunty angle.”

Coffin: A Skinner Co. Fantasy Fiction PodcastCoffin said, “a few years before Sandy died, we fell into this situation down south. Some city-level newspapers had pulled together a string of kiddie murders, but the theories were all over the map.

“Cannibals were a popular editorial choice, with Satanists close behind, but those were mostly just signs of the era.

“The only consistencies seemed to be the apparent fact that the victims were all children, that their remains were found a few miles from where they’d disappeared, and that they were all stripped clean of flesh. Not – not perfectly. Not television-style bleached bone clean, but definitely “I’m done with this chicken leg” clean.”

Pausing to toss his half-eaten waffle cone through the trash hoop, Will moved to the bus schedule, then glanced at his watch.

“We weren’t quite sure what we were looking for,” he continued. “A werewolf? A wendigo? We were young and still had the patience to chase the wind.

“Three weeks in – and with no more to show for our wandering than a backseat full of North Carolina bar receipts – we finally caught a break. Parents don’t like the details of their child’s last moments published, but when a six-ten hulk by the name of Darius suffered the same fate, the press, hungry for something to fill summer headlines, exploded.

“The detail that really caught people was the speed. Darius’s wife noticed him missing just before dinner, and his picked-over carcass was found in a ditch outside Chapel Hill two hours later.

“Takes a lot of hungry, hungry cannibals to eat a guy that big that fast.

“It was no easy thing to raise the dead in those days, but he was fresh, and he’d died quite unpleasantly. We guessed at the route his corpse had taken, and, by walking between his last known location and the dump site, Sandy managed to use the Crook of Ortez to pull him into conversation.

“To be fair, he didn’t make it that far from where he’d disappeared before his finale.

“Anyhow, it was Darius who told us about the ice cream truck hermit.”

The topic had done nothing to slow Bunny’s consumption, and her cookie sandwich was now but a sliver.

“I don’t get it,” she said. “Magic is supposedly receding from the world?”

“It is.”

“- and you’ve said that most of the spooks and mooks haunting today weren’t noticeably around 70 years ago?”

“Also true, most entities were wisps moving outside our vision even just a decade ago.”

“So how the f##k does that explain an ice cream truck?

“There’s no chance some taint-gobbling medieval wizard attempted to summon a converted Ford that clangs out Turkey in the Straw, and no Victorian Hell Club dandy motherf##ker ever thought, ‘s##t son, I need a banana boat FROM SATAN,’ so what the sweet f##k?”

Taking a seat on the short bench and stretching his legs across the pavement, Coffin replied, “you know that saying, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same?’ It’s basically that.

“Every generation of humanity thinks its so advanced, but everything is just a variation on a theme. Maybe it was once an eel hawker in Victorian England, maybe it was a samosa cart in Uttar Pradesh.

“Darius’s story was probably the same as a thousand others, and none of them were particularly dependant on a time period. He was standing on the corner, it was nearly dinner and he was starving, but he wasn’t especially excited about the offerings in the oven. Along comes this happy tune and a huckster hawking treats.

“Well, hell, Darius has a ten in his pocket, and there are no witnesses around to see him murder his appetite.

“He wasn’t the only one to notice that fact, however.

“The guy in the truck has a really impressive moustache, triple curled and well tended. He’s all smiles, but his patron doesn’t really notice much about him beyond the lip hair.

“The hungry husband slaps down his ten and asks for a milkshake, so the guy behind the little window leans forward like he’s going to return his change – except he keeps leaning. He leans so far forward, in fact, his customer thinks he’s actually going to fall out – but somehow his torso seems to be stretching, his white smock distending with rippling ribs, and his hand closes around Darius’ mouth.

“Then the big man’s snapped up and in like a cod fresh from the sea.

“The mustachioed fella is nothing more than a lure of course – like the orb on an Angler fish – but the hermit is really more like the crab Sandy named it after. The phantom told us it’s like a chameleon skin that’s wrapped itself around the entirety of the truck, both inside and out. A dozen eyes watched him from the surface of the soft serve machine as he landed, and a dozen more likely watched the street for witnesses.

“Even the tiny window ledge shifted forward to consume him, as Darius put it, ‘like a bottom lip.’

“The floor looked like plastic matting, but was spongy and thick. Probably the main meat of the thing. The comfortable landing didn’t last long, though, as countless mouths opened in the leathery flesh, and the tinkling speakers kicked in to help cover the screaming.

“Thing is, while he was scoping the neighbourhood to make sure his wife wasn’t going to hear of his caloric indiscretion, the dead man had put his hand on the truck’s side, all casual like. He’d noticed that it was warm and felt strange – like dog skin, even though it looked like white-painted metal.

“He’d been too busy worrying about getting busted to think more of it than wiping his palm on his shirt and moving on.

“Anyhow, I don’t know if the hermit sniffed out that we were onto him, or maybe Darius was finally just a satisfying enough meal, but the killings seemed to stop after that; well, at least in that area. Sandy – she was getting pretty obsessive by then. She had us spinning our wheels for months.”

“Wait,” said Bunny, “that’s why you leaned? You never f##king found Johnny Monster-in-a-Box?”

“Nope,” answered Will, as he stood to wave down the approaching bus, “but everything changes eventually.”

 

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.

Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song: A New Man, by Kevin MacLeod of http://incompetech.com/

Freesound.org credits:

  • Ice cream truck2.mp3 by 8767yy
  • 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!

      FP396 – The Weeping Woman: a Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

      Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and ninety-six.

      Flash PulpTonight we present The Weeping Woman: a Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3
      (Part 1Part 2Part 3)

      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)

       

      This week’s episodes are brought to you by Earth Station One

       

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

      Tonight, Thomas Blackhall, master frontiersman and student of the occult, finds himself in an unlikely conversation, with a fairy woman and a deaf man, on the lonely banks of the Malhousen River.

       

      The Weeping Woman: a Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

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

       

      Blackhall’s limbs were heavy with memory and heartache as he pulled himself over the side of the tiny rowboat, yet the banshee’s song of tears would not relent.

      It took Wyatt’s guiding hand to keep the frontiersman on course through the fog of sentiment that pooled on his cheeks, but it was not a distant journey to the stone on which she perched, head in hands.

      A sleek limbed figure in a dress of archaic form, she looked as if a village girl lost some two-hundred years – it was only the bolt of anguish that accompanied each convulsion of her shoulders that marked her as otherwise.

      The sound of Thomas’ knees collapsing upon the wet sand drew her gaze, and the curve of her brow betrayed her surprise at their arrival.

      Still, though her eyes were red with use, the banshee’s spine braced, and chin stiffened, at the intrusion.

      “Is this what it’s come to,” she asked her damp palms, “the hayseeds have rallied to accost me like some whisky-tongued roustabout?”

      Her hushed tone broke the weight of emotion upon Blackhall’s spine, however, allowing him to push to the surface of his grief.

      BlackhallWhile he could, he said, “not at all – though they do worry over what your despair portends. If hearing the sobbing of a banshee signals death, what then, they must wonder, does it mean for one of your kind to weep so long and so deeply? No doubt they believe the entire township is on the verge of depopulation by plague.”

      “Always for you, always for you, damnable humans,” she replied, but her whisper was low enough to let him to stand without aid. “Why should I worry over their lot? The white-collar yonder has launched a multitude of prayerful curses in my direction: First wishing me away, then requesting my obliteration.

      “Where is his concern for my anxieties? Does he not consider that I too may seek succor, or at least simple understanding?”

      Desperate to be clear of the unblinking memory of Mairi’s slack face, Blackhall nodded, replying, “I’m sure the Father means well, but ‘tis an easy lesson to forget that charity means considering the flow of hard nature, and not just the metaphysical.”

      Wyatt, unsure of how to add to the conversation, removed his hat and took a seat upon a tumbled log as if welcomed into any mundane stranger’s parlour. In truth, it was this act more than any of Thomas’ words that brought the banshee’s tone some patience.

      “For five hundred years,“ she said, “I watched every birth and burial the Ó Braonáin family undertook. I wept silent tears of joy at the arrival of every bairn, and wailed a warning at the death of every drowned fisherman or tottering grandmother. I chased them from farm to salt and back again a dozen times, and never once did I fail in my craft.

      “Yet this is where it ends. I followed the last transplanted branch of the clan over sea and up river. I watched his every struggling effort, and shared his joy at the hope that comes at a new start, even if it means a sore back and tired arms. Still, his fate was nothing more than a growth in his belly, and a moaning death before he might take wife and renew the line in this fresh soil.

      “Now it is he who was planted: A year dead in the ground, buried under Father Stroud’s guidance.”

      Her tone was thick but controlled, allowing Thomas to ask, “do you feel they treated the last of the Ó Braonáins unfairly?”

      “No more than any else,” she answered, “- but what of me? Where should I go? What do I have? There is no one left to watch over, no one left to mourn. I can feel the drain of the occult from this world, yet I can not bring myself to despair any further.

      “It would have been better to wither at home, where at least I knew the stones upon which I’d rot.”

      Her gaze was locked on Thomas, as if he might have an answer, and, while her lips refused to tremble, he could see the pain of five-hundred-years of loneliness.

      However, though he could but make out half her words, it was Wyatt who replied first.

      “I spend most evenings in cloistered silence,” said the deaf man, his throat tight, “but I would be most pleased to come calling across the brook, or wherever else you might wish to meet. I have little to offer beyond lopsided conversation, but I would be happy to share my letters from beyond, and perhaps a taste of my dandelion wine, should you be so inclined. Moreover, if you have the patience to tell it to a man who needs much repeating, I would glory in the tales you’ve no doubt collected in your time on watch. There is no reason the Ó Braonáin line you knew can not live on in story.”

      His words echoed Thomas’ thoughts. It was a temporary solution at best, but Blackhall knew that any lifeline was better than none to lungs and heart drowning in depression.

      Nodding, he added, “- and I can no doubt convince the parish that the peace your company offers is worth a handsome payment, Wyatt.”

      It was only then that proper introductions were made, but a night’s worth of conversation brought them to many matters: The foibles of men and women long deceased, the idiosyncrasies of penpals from distant lands, and even the seemingly endless march to Mairi.

      By the hour at which dawn fell upon the trio, there was naught but laughter.

       

      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.

      Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song: A New Man, by Kevin MacLeod of http://incompetech.com/

      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!

        FP395 – The Weeping Woman: a Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

        Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and ninety-five.

        Flash PulpTonight we present The Weeping Woman: a Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3
        (Part 1Part 2Part 3)

        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)

         

        This week’s episodes are brought to you by The P.G. Holyfield Cancer Support Fund

         

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

        Tonight, Thomas Blackhall, master frontiersman and student of the occult, takes a relatively long trip across a relatively narrow river.

         

        The Weeping Woman: a Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

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

         

        From somewhere in the darkness beyond the river’s rushing water came the noise of sorrow and collapse.

        From somewhere in the murk came the gurgle and crack of honest tears.

        From somewhere in the gloom came death.

        The crowd stiffened as one at the noise of the woman’s weeping.

        “You look concerned, gentlemen,” said Blackhall. “Is this wail not why you stumbled from the comfort of your hearths?”

        Gathering his shoulders, the priest motioned two thick-armed cow wranglers towards a shed at the edge of the churchyard, then the red-haired man stepped into the beam of the lead wobbling lantern.

        “My name is Father Stroud, and it is indeed exactly why I’ve collected these men here. We’ll have this dilema out tonight, and we’ll have it honestly – but we need no charlatan mystic defrauding poor Wyatt and putting the rest of us at risk.”

        “You’d like to see my credentials then?” smirked Blackhall. “Wyatt is only poor in the sense that you all underpay for the services he renders. I’ve asked him for nothing more than an afternoon’s conversation.”

        “We all know what dangers lie out there,” answered Stroud, “if not money, then what is your hidden motive in interceding in the matter of the banshee?”

        Before Thomas could answer, however, the dispatched farmers returned with a small white-washed rowboat on their shoulders.

        With an inelegant splash, they dropped the craft in the shallows.

        “Huh,” said Blackhall. “Was it your plan to fit the lot of us, lap upon lap, in this Sunday paddler? Such a dinghy will hold two at best. Perhaps, though, if you all tether yourself together I might drag you across the flow?”

        “Obviously we can not all join you, but the community will have a representative at the table,” answered the priest.

        “I think -” Thomas began, but Stroud raised a finger and culled a broad man by the name of Perry from the crowd.

        With a shrug, Blackhall assured himself that his gear was still sitting on dry ground, but tugged his greatcoat over his shoulders. There was not but mundane survival amongst his bags, for he’d long relinquished his arcane tools to the care of a firmer guardian, but he would not, and could not, relinquish the braid and letter that rode within his coat’s breast pocket.

        Setting his left hand on Wyatt’s shoulders, the frontiersman held up the five digits on his right, then pointed to the ground at his feet. Finally he took his position in the boat, opting for the lover’s perch so that Perry was left the oars.

        The first rower was a strong man.

        To Thomas’ mind it was as if approaching the heat of a black sun, or attempting to scale the height of a waterfall gushing naught but sorrow. There was a temptation to wave his gondolier off, or suggest he approach from some protracting angle, but Blackhall’s occult studies had taught him that it would only delay the inevitable.

        Perry’s strong arms carried them half the distance, then the ferryman’s weeping for his eldest child, deceased some two years after a decisive kick from a startled bull, brought their trajectory about.

        His momentum did not stop even when they’d reached the shore, and he was on his mare and into the darkness before any questions could be held to him.

        Blackhall, An Occult Fantasy Skinner Co. Podcast“I think -” Blackhall began again, but Stroud again raised his finger, this time pulling a lanky parishioner by the name of Johan from the crowd.

        Johan was lanky-limbed and sharp nosed, but he smiled at the news and bowed repeatedly to the priest as he approached the boat.

        As he pushed off, he began to sing of the sunset tree.

        The second rower, then, was a pious man.

        “The twilight star to heaven,” sang Johan, “and the summer dew to flowers,” yet each splash of his paddles seemed to pick up weight.

        “And rest to us is given,” he continued, “by the cool soft evening hours,” but it was for naught.

        The emptiness of his home had struck him; his lack of child or wife. The emptiness of his late night comforts – that he he would someday find the right woman, that someday he would not sing alone – brought an ache to his lungs and a hitch to his throat.

        He’d swung around fully before realizing he’d made any turn to the boat, but he made no attempt to right his course as the sound of the banshee’s mourning chased them back to their point of departure.

        In a wavering voice, Perry excused himself to the silence of the sanctuary beyond.

        “It’s no aspersion on his faith,” said Blackhall, “it’s just a matter of applicability. Prayer is no greater defense in this matter than it would be against the current of the stream.”

        He paused then, awaiting the inevitable interruption, but Stroud made a point of holding his tongue.

        “I think,” Thomas continued, “we’ll try Wyatt at the oars. It seems your pity and your piety have made you blind to his obvious strengths.”

        The light was dim and flickering, making lip-reading a difficult undertaking, but the deaf man was quick enough to discern everything Blackhall’s nod was intended to convey, and he did not hesitate to take his place.

        Within seconds they were off again.

        Though he did his best to muffle the otherworldly sobbing as they approach, the repeated trips had also taken their toll on Thomas.

        His mind had retreated – as it did as sleep approached, or he took a few cups with a friendly face, or his feet stumbled through the endless ferns and bramble – to the thought of his dead wife, Mairi.

        At the halfway point it was only his teeth upon his lip that kept him from tears. The smell of autumn leaves came to him. The smell of a small fire in an English forest came to him, carrying memories of the lusty scrabbling reserved for lovers long parted.

        Wyatt, oblivious, but whistled.

        Christmas came next, Mairi’s fingers on his ever-shaking knee, the anxiety of their announcement welling in his throat, the warmth and love of the house they intended to fill further, the heat of her neck and the breathy scent of wine filling the darkness of a back-corridor linen closet.

        Thomas howled, and the banshee howled.

        He stood at her grave as they buried her. He stood at her grave as it was now, empty. He damned the hag who’d stolen her. He damned the woods that tore at her dancing dead feet.

        He damned himself for ever having spent his short span anywhere but at her side.

        Then the bow touched softly upon the shore.

         

        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.

        Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song: A New Man, by Kevin MacLeod of http://incompetech.com/

        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!

          FP394 – The Weeping Woman: a Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3

          Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and ninety-four.

          Flash PulpTonight we present The Weeping Woman: a Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3
          (Part 1Part 2Part 3)

          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)

           

          This week’s episodes are brought to you by The P.G. Holyfield Appreciation Dept.

           

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

          Tonight, Thomas Blackhall, master frontiersman and student of the occult, chases dark portents into a small town on the river’s edge.

           

          The Weeping Woman: a Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3

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

           

          On a morning so fierce and dry it made even the greenest timber seem at threat of flaring up from simple exposure, Thomas Blackhall stumbled into the village of Malhousen.

          He had been summoned over the mystic aspect of an apparent impending demise.

          Malhousen proper was little more than a trading post facing down a small churchyard, but the two dozen families that populated the surrounding rocky lands were on friendly enough terms to call each other neighbour, and the occasional mail delivery seemed to indicate that the government agreed on the designation.

          Still, visitors were a rare thing that far off in the bushlands, and there was no public house, nor inn, motel or tavern – as a field-tromping farmer had passed word to Thomas that any with interest enough to make the journey likely did so because they knew someone in the area well enough to board with them.

          Blackhall: A Skinner Co. Fantasy Fiction Podcast“If you need a place to stay, though,” the muck-handed man with the broad straw hat had said, “I’m sure a few coins could clean mother’s sewing parlour for the evening.”

          The offer had stood as long as it took Blackhall to explain what had brought him.

          Strolling beyond the low white fence that separated the churchyard cemetery from non-hallowed turf, Thomas came to the river that had given the town its name, then cast off his gear with the tender concern of a man who’d just spent a full two weeks cursing at its weight.

          Retrieving a small pouch from his breast pocket, he lay his great coat across his packs and sat upon the sandy bank to take in the current’s breeze. In time his fingers found a fine Spanish paper and stuffed it with tobacco, then, in more, the sun nuzzled the horizon.

          Not being the Sabbath, there seemed to be only the church’s red-faced Scottish priest to glower at the stranger loafing away the afternoon.

          At first, as his smoke had chased the water bugs downstream, Blackhall had thought that the cleric was simply the type to disapprove of all outsiders, but, by the hour at which his stomach began to call for supper, Thomas had decided the Scot likely knew why he was at hand, and that the holy man wanted nothing to do with his occult concerns.

          It was his thinking that a true busy body could not be content to maintain a distance, but the priest had spent his day at just the distance necessary to be always aware of Blackhall’s position.

          As Thomas began to consider what he was carrying that might appease his complaining appetite, a man exited from the trading post, walked the short breadth of its porch, then joined him on the riverbank via the fence-side route.

          “I apologize,” said the prematurely-graying newcomer. “I’m Wyatt, the man who requested your presence. I would’ve joined you earlier, yet – well, you may’ve noted that business is sluggish, but what customers I receive depend on the regularity of my habits.

          “I should also mention that my ears aren’t of much use. Though I could hear till my eighteenth year, they’re long gone now. It makes me poor conversation, as I talk too much about nothing and with little response. I’ve some skill at reading lips, but there are few here who will allow me to practice. They have fields to till and cows to slaughter, I suppose.”

          “You’re sole occupation is running the store?” asked Blackhall, his words slow and clear.

          The man raised his brow.

          “The store?” repeated Thomas, his fingers waving in the squat shack’s direction.

          “Oh, I act as middleman between those who grow beats and those who grow potatoes. The potato men come to me for their beats, the beat men come to me for their potatoes, and I make barely enough between them to taste either.

          “In addition, the same boatman who collects the post brings up a selection of needles and dry goods that I resell. Despite my deafness I hear complaints over even that tiny profit.”

          Blackhall nodded, and the shop keep smiled to have a friendly ear.

          “The truth,” he continued, “is that I receive a child’s treatment because of my conversational difficulties. You’ve been a kind audience, but those who care for anything beyond inquiring about carrot seed often grow loud, which is a body posture as much as a tone, and neuter their language to a level more appropriate for a mush-headed bairn.

          “It is usually those same folks who can’t scratch their own names, and thus can’t simply write out their orders and questions for prompt service.”

          “It must be a lonely life,” Blackhall repeated until the man caught his meaning.

          “It’s the postal counter that most keeps me in place,” replied Wyatt. “I’ve made a tangle of friends across the globe with those simple scraps of paper, and I collect more news than a dozen broadsheet hawkers. It was those same that gave me your name to search out when the matter of the death bringer raised itself.

          “Still, as you can perhaps tell, I do long for the simple pleasure of seeing a face react, instead of outwaiting the slow transmission and careful composition of a letter.”

          The conversation continued forward in little ways until dusk, but, due to their minor discussion, they did not note the departure of the flame-haired priest on his sagging, silent, pony.

          By the time the frogs had begun to sing and dew was forming on the grass, Wyatt and Thomas were no longer alone.

          Several men with lanterns, slurring courage and raising enough noise to find each other despite the wobbling of their illumination, began to gather about the white picket fence.

          Their filth-kneed pants marked the crowd as farmers, but Thomas could discern nothing more as they took to shouting commands and demanding answers, simultaneously and without deference for his neighbour’s bellowing.

          The priest was close behind.

          It was as the Father moved to the forefront and raised his arms for silence, however, that there came, from beyond the river, the keening sound of death – a high and jittering wail that was no more dampened by the babble of men and water than would be a bullet.

          Then the evening’s trials truly began.

           

          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.

          Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song: A New Man, by Kevin MacLeod of http://incompetech.com/

          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!

            FP393 – Mulligan Smith in Con-tingency

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

            Flash PulpTonight we present Mulligan Smith in Con-tingency

            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)

             

            This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Creative Audio Dept.’s Dog Days of Podcasting

             

            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 PI, Mulligan Smith, finds himself surrounded by cosplayers, comic hawkers, and conjugal criminals.

             

            Mulligan Smith in Con-tingency

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

             

            Twenty feet to Mulligan’s left Mitch and Mike, wearing matching blue t-shirts with SECURITY emblazoned across the chest, were hassling Godzilla.

            Smith had met the enforcers the day previous, at which point the PI had sworn he was alone at the con, whatever the closed circuit cameras might show. They’d been nice enough, if a little eager to look hard for a couple of tall accountants working to avoid entrance fees. They’d pressed hard about the massive attendee in the Stay Puft Marshmallow costume, but, in truth, after passing a few stern words to Billy regarding the concept of proportional response, the detective had cut the Canadian loose at the door so that he could get some work done.

            In retrospect it had been a solid decision, especially in light of what Winnipeg had done to the greasy fellow who’d repeatedly demanded the various costumed heroines roaming the floor, “kneel before Zod.”

            It was not the first comic convention Mulligan had haunted, but it was certainly the first he’d be receiving a paid fee for.

            The stack of Italian giallo flicks he was carrying would definitely be coming out of his take-home profit, however.

            Mulligan Smith - The Flash Pulp PodcastFive feet to his right stood Lex Luthor, Superman’s greatest nemesis, with his arm wrapped tightly about the waist of Supergirl. Smith knew the tall blonde woman was the Man of Steel’s cousin, but he still doubted Mr. Kent would be pleased to witness the scene – then again, he reflected, neither would Marcia Addison.

            Though this Lex was but one of many bald-capped Luthors in the crowd, he had the distinguishing feature of being the only pretend psychotic-billionaire married to Marcia, Smith’s client.

            As for Supergirl, she stepped away quickly, a shudder shaking her cape.

            Turning on the black-suited cosplayer, she asked, “the hell!?”

            Addison replied with a lopsided grin and a, “well I am the villain, you know.”

            With one eye searching the show floor, Mulligan broadly shook his head, leaving Lex under the impression that he was being judged. The fact that the hoodie-wearing investigator was holding his phone aloft, apparently taking pictures, simply reinforced the idea.

            Luthor didn’t care.

            “What?” he asked his apparent spectator, “look at her – tell me you weren’t tempted to lift this little skirt…”

            His white-gloved hands flicked at her hem and Smith gave up on his head shaking.

            Sure the storm was already thundering on the horizon, the PI kept his cell’s camera steady and spoke as rapidly as his tongue would allow.

            “Someone emailed Mrs. Addison about your convention schedule and your reputation. She was already considering a divorce, but – well, I doubt you’ll have much travel money once the judge is through with-” and that was all he had time for.

            Though they’d missed the harassment entirely, shortly after Mulligan had spoken the word “schedule” Mitch and Mike had begun to curse, and by the time the judge had come up they’d realized they were too far on the wrong side of the hall to stop the avalanche.

            Billy Winnipeg had had plenty of time to pick up momentum as he’d approached from the balcony overlooking the floor, and the show patrons were quick to part before a man whose black sphere of a costume might be mistaken for a moon.

            “He was the Death Star! The Death Star! Fuuuuuuu-” was all Smith could make out before wind and the sound of howling rage blocked all noise.

            The impact of the tackle was enough to shake the tower of t-shirts on sale behind Luthor, and, though he didn’t know it then, the black eye would easily last him till the opening court date.

            Mulligan could only shrug, unwilling to argue with his friend’s policy on public harassment.

            Besides, wasn’t that a Blood and Black Lace poster two booths down?

             

            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.

            Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song: A New Man, by Kevin MacLeod of http://incompetech.com/

            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!

              FPGE25 – Coffin: Wreck by Opopanax

              Welcome to Flash Pulp guestisode twenty-five.

              Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Wreck by Opopanax

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              This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Mob

               

              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, and Bunny, his constant companion, attempt to reconcile regrets with a man whose past haunts him.

               

              Coffin: Wreck

              Written, Art, and Narration by Opopanax
              and Audio produced by Jessica May

               

              A Skinner Co. Productio

               

              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!

                FPGE24 – A Summer Story by Gibraltar

                Welcome to Flash Pulp guestisode twenty-four.

                Flash PulpTonight we present A Summer Story by Gibraltar

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                Download MP3

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                This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Mob

                 

                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’s tale was penned by our very own Gibraltar of Sub-Basement Three! We deeply appreciate his efforts in these hard times of temporal wormholes and invasions from parallel dimensions. Many thanks, sir, for holding those gates shut.

                Now, join us in a tale of the Hundred Kingdoms, many years into the reign of Queen Sophia Esperon.

                 

                A Summer Story

                Written by Gibraltar
                Art and Narration by Opopanax
                and Audio produced by Jessica May

                 

                A Skinner Co. Productio

                 

                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!

                  MMN5 – Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

                  MMN5 - The Mob watches Death Bed: The Bed That Eats

                  Join The Mob in mocking a mattress with a snacking problem.

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

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                    FP392 – Underachiever

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

                    Flash PulpTonight we present Underachiever

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                    This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Beer Trail

                     

                    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 tell the tale of a wayward youth, and the gun he considers his last recourse.

                     

                    Underachiever

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

                     

                    Theodore, sixteen, had bought the revolver a month earlier from a man named Bill. Bill had also been selling questionable televisions and grandmotherly dishware from the rear of his Econoline van, but it was just the pistol that the boy had been interested in.

                    His mother loved Theo and his sister, Abbie, dearly, which is why she worked such long hours at the Piggly Wiggly to compensate for the lack of support from their deadbeat father. The job, however, was also the reason she drank so much when she got home.

                    The mother and teen’s schedules rarely intersected, but in those brief moments – often when she’d just returned from a shift and he was about to depart for a cheap action flick at the multiplex – she had come to suspect something was awry.

                    She had not seen the weapon, but anxiety over what she might discover about her son had left the bulge in his right pocket un-confronted.

                    The night before the shooting had been a hot one, and the teen had watched the sunrise crawl up his wall while contemplating facing another round of bellowed insults from Mathew Barnes.

                    Barnes, a year older and a foot taller, had spent the better part of three semesters making Theo and Abbie’s walks to school miserable, and any change in route only seemed to bring new energy to the torment.

                    A Skinner Co. PodcastDespite their efforts to fight back, or surrender, or seek help, four weeks earlier the menace had moved from verbal to physical. Sick of hearing the imitation of Abbie’s stutter that his family was too poor to do anything about, the youth had made some choice comments regarding Mathew’s mother’s hygiene, her uncritical choice in lovers, their shared lineage, and the possibility that, despite the time paradox, Theo may have in fact been his father.

                    As Barnes had been flanked by two of his better friends, venting cost the big brother several bruised ribs, a twisted knee, and a bloody nose.

                    Still, a cruising patrol car pulled aside to see what was going on, and, when silent Mr. Acevedo – who’d caught the tail end of the incident while walking home with his first coffee of the day – was asked who started it, the finger was pointed at Theo.

                    Theo, hand on pistol, again passed Mr. Acevedo in the hallway that morning. As always, the balding handyman had struck him as distant and alien. The same internal blinders that made the boy unable to see the similarities between his own life and that of the man who lived in the same building, in the same neighbourhood, in the same city, had left Theo feeling there was but a single solution – that left him feeling as if he were alone in solving the problems with Barnes.

                    Moments later, when Barnes had raised his hand high and brought his palm down across Abbie’s left cheek in response to the girl telling him to b-b-b-b-blow her, Theo found himself reacting with a full fist and a scream.

                    That might’ve been the end of Mathew Barnes, and Theo’s life as a free human, were it not for a sudden intervention.

                    The saviour was not, however, Abbie’s estranged father as summoned by his mother, it was not uniformed officers called in by Mr. Acevedo, it was not even Mathew’s crew arriving to defend their fellow goon.

                    A single white van peeled around the corner, its side-door sliding wide to reveal a figure: A besuited man with a pasty white face and thick black mutton chops. Below the stranger’s handlebar mustache projected a multi-barreled rotating canon.

                    It began to spin.

                    The first three shots fired from Theo’s pistol simply seemed to warp the space around the machine gunner, but the final trio landed across his chest, causing spiderweb cracks at the impact points.

                    Before the boy could fully comprehend that he’d slain a television screen, the flood of PVC-skinned sumos began.

                    From the building’s rear pathway, from the loading bay that lead to the trash room in the basement, from the neighbouring towers, a hundred figures, each with a face identical to that of the man in the van, erupted into view.

                    The clones, Theo realized, were just masks, their necks tucked into inflatable plastic suits that made them all equally round – then there was a rubbery impact at his shoulder that sent him stumbling towards an approaching balloon belly.

                    The sumos were giggling, and, within a dozen playful impacts, Theo could not resist but joining in. He did not notice the pistol disappear in the melee, nor would he ever wonder about where it had gone.

                    His nemesis did not have it so easily. As Matthew had buffeted others, so too was he now buffeted. Nothing more than a pinball in a deluge of bumpers, he lost all control of his direction, his self-control, and his bladder.

                    From beneath a dog pile of a half-dozen inflated Achievers, a truce was extracted from the tormentor – a truce that he would never dare break.

                    Abbie, who’d set adrift her online plea for help some four weeks earlier, could only clap.

                     

                    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.

                    Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song: A New Man, by Kevin MacLeod of http://incompetech.com/

                    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!

                      FC109 – Vampires. Man.

                      FC109 - Vampires. Man.

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                      Hello, and welcome to FlashCast 109.

                      Prepare yourself for: Warrior cops, a corpse mannequin, creepy dolls, fists full of eyeballs, and Coffin.

                      * * *

                      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:

                    • Coffin: Weakness (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6)
                    • * * *

                      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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