FP149 – Bargain, Part 1 of 1
Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and forty-nine.
Tonight we present, Bargain, Part 1 of 1.
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Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
Tonight we present a short chiller tale regarding one Dr. Henry Faust.
Flash Pulp 149 – Bargain, Part 1 of 1
Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May
Dr. Henry Faust, aware of the dark humour in his name, sat waiting in his study.
He assured himself he was prepared for what was coming, and yet his stomach looped as if his still leather chair were a roller coaster.
On the morning of his thirty-eighth birthday, exactly one year previous, the signs had begun to manifest. The middle finger of his left hand had taken on scar tissue, as if a ring were growing from his flesh, and at its center, where a gem might have been inset in a metal band, a pinprick wound had opened. There seemed to be no end to the hole in his flesh – it did not bleed, although it appeared so deep that bone ought be visible. Instead, inside was naught but darkness.
A month before the day of the appointed meeting, his cellphone began to ring nightly, at the stroke of twelve. Each time he would be greeted with the same response: the sound of a child’s weeping, and then a baritone voice, numbering the days.
Finally, on the previous evening, the count had reached one – and so, having sent away young Hank with his beloved Nicole, Faust had enacted his long birthday vigil.
The demon appeared.
It made it’s entrance through a portal of flame, its horns challenging the shadows that slid across the library’s towering ceilings.
“Faust!” it bellowed from beneath the stink of sulphur, “I have come for your first child!”
Henry nodded, eying the beast over the rim of his glasses.
Martox the Castigated, lord of the twelfth realm of the underworld, raised a thorny brow at the human’s lack of reaction.
“Do you not recall that, upon your seventh birthday, you promised your child’s life in exchange for enormous knowledge, even beyond the ken of that of your fellow men?”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Henry scooped up a pen and set it traveling between the knuckles of his right hand.
“As agreed, I have come, at the time of your thirty-ninth birthday, to collect.” Spitting on the plush carpet, the fiend continued, “Gaze now upon the contract that is your ruination!”
It thrust a tattered scroll across the desk.
Henry hated fumbling for the switch, so he’d had the clapper installed. With a sharp double crack of his palms, the room was filled with illumination.
Taking up the unnaturally warm paper, he noted his crayola-signature at the bottom.
“Sure, looks right.”
As Faust continued to look over the fine calligraphy detailing the pact, Martox lifted the photo of Hank, three, which the father kept on a nearby shelf.
“I have seen none so callous about their own offspring,” said the demon. “You chill even such as I. Where is the boy? Come, do not try to hide him.”
“Doesn’t seem like there’s much I can do.” Reaching into the small fridge he kept to sustain his constant need for Mountain Dew, the doctor retrieved a small parcel and set it on the supernatural parchment. “There you go.”
“Do not play games,” replied Martox. “I have come for your first, where is he?”
“Bingo,” said Faust, pointing at the tiny package. “You’ve come for my first – Hank is my second. Maybe you need to check your paperwork.”
The furious collector ripped aside the brown wrapping which surrounded the plastic box. Through the clear sides, the contents were plainly visible.
“There is nothing within but goo!”
“Yes. The issue of my loins, mixed with the issue of a sweet volunteer who thought she was donating to a nice young couple who couldn’t have children. That was ten years ago, but the moment after the egg was fertile, I froze the whole thing. You made me, amongst other things, the world’s leading biomedical engineer – what did you expect?”
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Very nice! I especially like the near-over the top bellicosity (if that is a word) of the demon. I won’t delve into the debate of when a fertilized egg becomes a child but I fully expect the devil to get his due. Nice and neat, a tidy little tale.