210 – Free Alaska, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and ten.

Flash PulpTonight we present, Free Alaska, Part 1 of 1.

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by the In Broad Daylight.

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

Tonight, we present a tale from Flash Pulp’s future history, a time of terror, tyranny, and automatons.

Flash Pulp 210 – Free Alaska, Part 1 of 1

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

He wasn’t a terrorist – he’d done nothing wrong, beyond being born in a place full of oil, and this wasn’t the Middle East, were Logan Clark’s thoughts as he snapped down the last of the zip ties.

They were overkill, and he knew it, as his welding job would either hold, or the device would be too imprecise to be useful, but he’d been nervously filling time before his departure.

The Alaskan sky above his two-car garage was cloudless and unending, a blue canvas stretching from horizon to horizon, marred only by the occasional flashing streak descending from altitudes beyond his ability to see naturally.

Reflecting on the fact, Clark patted the plastic telescope absentmindedly, his eyes tracing the wire connecting the Warlmart-purchase to his laptop. His absorbed state meant missing the entrance swing open.

“Dad?” asked Trinity, fourteen. Both of her hands were tucked in her blue sweater’s pouch pocket.

Giving his head a shake, Logan replied. “Yeah, baby?”

“Mom seems pretty mad.”

“Ah, hell.”

His knees popped as he stood, and his back ached as he bent to wipe the dust from his jeans.

What followed was another explanatory conversation which he knew wouldn’t end in his favour – but he also knew it didn’t matter much, as he’d made his mind up.

The argument concluded with the bedroom door slamming in his face, and his apologizing through it to no response.

As he moved towards the living room, he retrieved his battered Miller’s Trucking ball cap from its resting place on the kitchen sideboard, then, still wearing his boots, stepped onto the beige carpet and addressed Trinity, who was working the TV remote hard to find something other than news coverage.

“If she comes out, tell her I’m sorry,” he said.

“Dad – what exactly did you do? Mom hasn’t been this mad since you cussed out Aunt Kim at Gran’s wedding.”

“I’ve got some stuff I gotta take care of – just a quick trip.”

Trinity chewed her lip and muted a Pillsbury commercial.

She asked, “you aren’t messing with those idiot rebels, right?”

“Hah, as the man said, I wouldn’t join any club that’d have me as a member. Make sure your Ma eats, I’ll grab something for myself on the road.”

He didn’t wait for a reply, and he intentionally forgot his goodbyes.

“Just a quick trip,” he said aloud, as he stepped back into the garage.

* * *

The drive out of Juneau had always left him relaxed in the past, but, as the pickup cruised north, his shoulders grew increasingly rigid.

Looking to distract himself, he engaged the radio.

“Hey,” said an announcer he didn’t recognize, but who, to Logan’s ear, seemed to have a Floridian accent, “we should just be happy that the drone strikes are so surgical. There aren’t stormtroopers knocking on every door, there aren’t tanks in the streets of Anchorage, so calm down.”

The twang in his radio tone stood out strongly after the eighteen month long ban on civilian flights.

“Perhaps,” Clark replied, to the empty cab, “if there were, the folks down south who still believe in justice might raise a stink, and citizens wouldn’t be quietly murdered in their beds by flying robots.”

“They aren’t killing us,” said Florida, “they’re killing the terrorists – the pipeline saboteurs, and secessionists, have brought this justice from on high upon themselves.”

Logan punched the power knob.

“Ain’t no way a teenager staring at a tiny screen from a thousand miles away knows shit about shit regarding ‘saboteurs or secessionists’. It ain’t twenty-twenty-five anymore, they want to have some say in matters up here, they’ll have to march some actual boots our way.”

The bobble-headed husky on his dash nodded in agreement.

* * *

By the time he’d reached the tumbled hunting cabin, his neck was stiff and his wrists ached.

Once the property had belonged to his father, but the bank had taken the land not long before the cancer had taken him, and the shack had rotted to the ground in the shadows of the Yellow Cedars. He was concerned that the family connection might link him to his actions, but he knew from experience that the military were no detectives, they were missile lobbers, and no one would come looking if they somehow managed to stop him.

He’d been to the area two years previous on a hunting expedition with a few friends from work. They hadn’t managed to kill anything beyond cases of beer, but a stumbling tramp through the woods had reminded him of Platform Rock. The jumbled stone formation, named by Logan’s father for its flat crown, provided a clear view over the tree-tops, and he’d spent an evening deep in thought after making a drunken ascent.

Now he was discovering it was a long way to haul equipment, even with a handcart, but Clark was a man who’d learned patience via a storied career in the muck of the mining industry. The ore sniffing business had also introduced him to the newest advances in high-powered portable lasers.

Night had fallen, and he was huffing, by the time he had once again booted the laptop, and plugged the telescope in. With a last check of the laser’s battery slug, he tugged at the pull cord of the small gas engine intended to power the computer, then hurried down the slope.

The racket would certainly be noticeable for some distance, but he knew no one would come to investigate.

The online fellow who’d put together the rig’s simple software package had thought to apply a delay before start-up, but Logan found himself too worried that he’d somehow pooched the process to make for his truck until the show had begun.

He could see little from down below, but the ratchet of the mount’s directional motors was easy to hear, even over the chug of the generator.

The laser clicked twice, and Clark was sure something was wrong.

It clicked again, and there was a flash to the west – a drone being eaten by its own suddenly-flaming fuel supply.

The clatter of aiming recommenced, and Logan, smiling, ran for his vehicle.

By the time he reached home, it was starlight alone that glittered in the night sky.

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

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

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    3 Comments  to  210 – Free Alaska, Part 1 of 1

    1. bmj2k says:

      Innnnteresting. Very.

      • JRD Skinner says:

        Thanks! We discussed this tale a bit on FC39, which should be up shortly. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that this is background for one of the two outstanding FP threads that I’ve mentioned in the past.

        • bmj2k says:

          It is interesting in that it is so informed by current events but leaves it open enough so there is room to think and interpret. I know where I stand on Clark’s actions but I’m not sure where I stand on the broader issue of the war on terror as defined in the tale. I do know where I stand on the issue of “we should just be happy that the drone strikes are so surgical. There aren’t stormtroopers knocking on every door, there aren’t tanks in the streets of Anchorage, so calm down.” That’s a lousy p.o.v.

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