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 2 – Part 3)

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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 2 – Part 3)

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    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

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      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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          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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              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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                  FP391 – Coffin: Weakness, 6 of 6

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

                  Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Weakness, Part 6 of 6
                  (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6)

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                  This week’s episodes are brought to you by Bothersome Things!

                   

                  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 roommate and apprentice, find themselves rudely rebutted by a nymph.

                   

                  Coffin: Weakness, Part 6 of 6

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

                   

                  Anger, Will reflected, is supposed to be a young man’s game. No one takes a punk band over fifty seriously, and most aren’t interested in seeing two grandfathers beat each other bloody in a boxing ring – well, more than once.

                  Yet, here at the edge of Lake Clark, with his boots wet and his eyes grimy from too much worry and too little sleep, Coffin was decidedly angry.

                  Though he’d tried to convince himself it was having to depend on the pretentious owl to locate Jenny Greenteeth that was the source of his unrest, being so far from home had brought Will to finally admit, at least to himself, that it was the notion that his homicidal dead wife might suddenly be washed away like the spirits of the four drowned cadavers that had him agitated.

                  The moment of truth did little to better his mood.

                  CoffinNeither did the nymph’s reaction to his demand to surrender.

                  Her tiny form had surfaced readily enough, but so distant from the shore as to be nothing more than a speck on the horizon.

                  Jenny’s words had traveled well, however: “Gobble a chode you bloody Tin Star!”

                  It was also fairly easy to guess which fingers she was waving.

                  Coffin started to chuckle, and he recognized it as the same dry rattle Sandy had taken on before the end.

                  He shrugged it off and reached into the black leather satchel slung at his side.

                  Within lay a jeweled baton, atop which, to his apprentice’s eye, rode a tiny blizzard. The storm seemed held in place by several bands of gold laid across the clouds and snow in thin ribbons.

                  A flick of the wrist brought a point to the occult tool, its base extending suddenly to the form a staff.

                  From over his left shoulder, Bunny asked, “what in the Go-Go-Gadget #### is that?”

                  “The Winter Scepter,” replied Will. “As far as artifacts go, this is actually a fairly recent ancient one. The telescoping does nothing but make it more portable, and it’s just clever metalworking, nothing mystical.

                  ”Watch this though.”

                  With a firm grip he pinned the water’s edge to the sand below, and the reaction was immediate.

                  A wave of ice moving at a sprinting dog’s pace began to roll across the surface, and even as practiced a swimmer as Jenny could not outrun its frigid clench.

                  It was a ten minute walk to the spot at which the nymph waited, her left arm aloft, mid-breaststroke.

                  “Shoulda brought some ###damn skates,” said Bunny.

                  Knowing full-well that her song would do nothing against Will’s defenses, Jenny replied, “taste Tartarus, frails.”

                  There was the rage again, crawling up Coffin’s back and pulling his belly tight. His boot heel twisted in the snow and his fingers dug deeply into his pockets.

                  Instead of a roar, however, his mouth formed the words, “I’m sorry.”

                  Both women raised a brow in surprise, but he continued.

                  “Given your history, trapping you tightly like this isn’t exactly something I’m excited about. I’m not saying you’re justified, but I understand your vendetta.”

                  The algae upon her chin had begun to frost as Jenny replied, “are you giving a ‘this is going to hurt me more than it is you’ speech? Because it seems easy to be remorseful about how delicious the fish in your net are, and, after the last job I did for him, I’m sure the owl has no more patience for keeping me around.

                  “Frankly, I would’ve rathered he did it himself, but, that’s never been that dainty fop’s style, so I’ve been left to die at the hands of lice.”

                  “Actually,” said Coffin, as he leaned low into her vision, “what I do next is going to depend very much on how you answer this question: Were you responsible for the disposal of the phantoms on behalf of the Kar’Wickians, and, if so, how?”

                  It was the first time Jenny had been in proximity of a non-drowning mundane human in hundreds of years, and she found she missed the other stupid faces the mortals made.

                  “No, I’d love to drive you mad and claim I made them disappear, but really the spider children’s representative simply passed on that Abe and Tina would ‘clean things up.’”

                  Standing, Coffin began to stride towards the distant rental car, but stopped to repeat himself.

                  “I really am sorry.”

                  Wonder had made the gathered emissaries careless, and it was clear even before he reached the shore that the treeline was brimming with wildlife come to witness his actions – which is why, when Wide Eye confronted him on the beach, the avian lord whispered.

                  “You let her live!?” he demanded, his four wings in constant motion.

                  Coffin shrugged. “You were so insistent that the last one was yours to deal with, I figured I’d leave you the pleasure. You’ve got about three minutes before the ice transmutes back to water.”

                  To Will’s mind the owl, as much as the bird hated acting publicly, could try his luck with Jenny Greenteeth: There were no more questions of secret rituals or unknown magicks or an arcane plague – the shaman finally had names to blame for the spectral disappearances, and now the hunt could truly begin.

                  He found himself whistling.

                   

                  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!

                    FP390 – Coffin: Weakness, 5 of 6

                    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and ninety.

                    Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Weakness, Part 5 of 6
                    (Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6)

                    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 Bothersome Things!

                     

                    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 roommate and apprentice, discuss the unfortunate history of nymphs.

                     

                    Coffin: Weakness, Part 5 of 6

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

                     

                    It was noon, and they were at Denny’s.

                    “####,” Bunny was saying, around a mouthful of pancake, “so she couldn’t stop doing it? The incubus thing kinda makes sense then, I guess.”

                    Turning from the window, Coffin winced. “Not a nymphomaniac, a nymph. Way back in the toga days they were a sort of nature spirit who’d live in rivers, streams, tributaries, fjords – basically every wet place you figure’d be worth taking a vacation photo at would have one.

                    “Generally they manifested as shapely naked ladies, in their early twenties, who’d come ashore to sing and dance when visitors or worshipers arrived, but otherwise they maintained a dwelling within the depths of their swimming pool for privacy.”

                    Lifting another wad of syrup and batter to her mouth, Bunny asked, “sounds like they’d be pretty popular, so where’d they go?”

                    “Well, see, the nymphs were pretty into free love. They didn’t need it, like Valentine, but they were, uh, very welcoming to friendly shore-side visitors. The more civilized folks got, though, the less their spouses appreciated it.

                    “Nymph culture was slow to change, mostly because they were so localized, and their reputation went from something akin to a regional deity to the mess dumped on sex workers.

                    “I should be clear though: Their interest was really only in natural beauty. They danced because of the elegance of grass swaying in the wind, they rutted on the shore because that’s the way of the wild, and they sang because it called beasts and birds of all shape to their banks and kept them there in peace.

                    “Still, as things got worse some of them tried to go clean – the lady who supposedly lobbed the sword at Arthur was probably a nymph – but I think they hoped pants and religion were fads.”

                    “Me too, me too,” answered Bunny.

                    Will shrugged, taking advantage of the interruption to sip at his coffee. Despite his best efforts to be patient, his eyes wandered to the window.

                    There was nothing of note in the tightly stuffed parking lot.

                    Frowning, he continued. “You’re familiar with the old ‘I read it for the articles line’? In those days sneaky husbands and unsatisfied wives would claim they were just ‘going to hear the nymphs sing.’ Maybe that’s what started the trade – whatever the case, there was no Top 40 back then, and the medieval nobles, sick of having their trophy spouses sneak off, began to improvise jukeboxes.

                    “The real problem was that the nymph’s mystic song couldn’t help but bring a sense of soothing, even if weepily sung after having had their limbs clipped and being entrapped in tiny caskets.

                    “Now, this isn’t something just anybody would know about, this is the sort of secret treat rich people like to save for their most special guests. You’d be lead into a well sealed room by a deaf servant and your host. and there’d be a decorated box with what looked like a fairly heavy trashcan upside down on top.

                    “Your host would invite you to lie down on a lounge chair, priming you the whole time about what a wonderful surprise you were about to have, and the servant would lift the iron lampshade to reveal a young woman who’d lay out a tune so lovely it was like taking a mouthful of rave pills.

                    “When the allotted period was up, the servant would drop the shade. The attendants were also in charge of punishment for lack of performance, but we don’t need to get into the abuses you can inflict on a head in a cabinet.

                    “Immortality can be a rough gig like that, but even occult beings need to eat.

                    “In the end they all starved to death.

                    “Jenny though – Jenny was a fighter. Jenny gave up her home, the hardest thing for her kind, and set herself loose in the wilds; Let her hair grow long and tangled, let the muck of the river bottoms cover her skin, let decay and fish guts cling to her teeth. She hid like that for years, until even the memory of the slaughter of her people was forgotten, and her rage simmered.

                    “She started trying to avenge herself.”

                    “#### yeah,” said Bunny, “I’d go Rambo over that #### too.”

                    Will nodded, but replied, “consider the flip side though: You’re strolling by the river and you hear a whisper. You stop and there’s a woman – or is it a woman? She almost looks like nothing more than a collection of lily pads and stones – a face hovering at the still surface. Maybe you don’t listen at first. Maybe you’ve got a strong aversion to getting wet, maybe you’re smart enough not to talk to entities speaking from ponds, maybe you just have no sense of curiosity.

                    “Whatever the case, it doesn’t matter, because that slight, cheerless face begins singing, and suddenly everything is beautiful and calm. Suddenly you have no interest but in relaxing in the cool damp. Suddenly you’re drowning.

                    “Beloved family pets taking a drink, children roaming alone, lovers skinny dipping – anyone that would make others share some of the pain.

                    ”Eventually she gained a new reputation: As a killer. Even the mystical and the immortal need the occasional human disappeared.”

                    Leaning back to bask in her victory over the forces of dough, Bunny asked, “so she’s some kinda supernatural hitman now?”

                    “Basically.”

                    In truth, however, Bunny already knew all this – she’d read the same texts Coffin was reciting from – but, even with his neck-cramping turns to peer out the window, it was the calmest she’d seen him in days.

                    She did not mention that the tale explained nothing of the missing phantoms.

                    The real question she wanted answered involved what exactly was in the worn leather messenger bag he’d taken to carrying. Before she might ask, though, a blur of movement to her left caught her attention. Beyond the dusty cream shades six dozen cats sat atop the sea of sun-baked cars.

                    Noting her gaze, they began to wail.

                    It was time to go.

                     

                    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!