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FP383 – Coffin: Time to Consider

Flash Pulp 383 - Coffin: Time to Consider - A Skinner Co. Network Podcast

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

Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Time to Consider

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Glow in the Dark Radio

 

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 Bunny Davis, roommate and apprentice to urban shaman Will Coffin, finds herself in conversation with his murderous dead wife.

 

Coffin: Time to Consider

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

 

Bunny found her newly obtained sobriety often made the apartment she shared with the Coffin a stuffy one. Rarely, however, did she step onto the balcony for air.

That Thursday there just wasn’t anything bad enough on TV to keep her attention, and her legs kept pulling her up from the couch before she realized she had nowhere to go. Books were stared at, but the words held no meaning in spite of multiple attempts. Worse, her appetite had abandoned her entirely, and she knew more alternating between opening cupboards and the fridge door would only give her mouth the satisfaction of expelling another long string of obscenities.

So she went outside.

Eighteen stories below, the shattered form of her roommate’s dead wife began the ascent that marked the sole objective the apparition ever held in mind when she moved from the cracked cement upon which she’d died.

Even without Will on hand to attempt to murder, still Sandy made the climb.

Despite the distance between them, Bunny had no issues hearing the phantasm’s broken-windpipe whisper.

“Is he sleeping?” asked Sandy.

“Yeah.”

“It’s almost 4pm.”

“I can take a message if you like.”

“It doesn’t make you uncomfortable to live in the apartment in which his wife died?”

“Like, when there’s a dead lady rotting on the balcony, or just generally?”

At that point the conversation had gone as far as it ever had, and Bunny was tempted to again head back inside. Instead she finally gave in to her curiosity – or perhaps she’d simply grown accustomed enough to the climber’s trail of broken nails and mashed finger meat to stay.

Whatever the case, she asked “why do you bother?”

Pausing beside a frost-covered window on the seventh floor, Sandy gave her taut shoulders an oddly familiar shrug.

She said, “let me tell you a story.

“Will and I, back in the early days, stumbled across a couple of star-crossed idiot teens, Vincent and Rosa. I guess it happens in every generation, but we’re talking about the sort of kids who would read too much into Romeo and Juliet while listening to Don’t Fear the Reaper on loop.

“They died in ‘71 in a Georgia backwater. He was scheduled to head to the Navy at the end of the summer, as his birthday was in September and his parents thought it would better if he picked a boat job rather than involuntarily backpack through the Vietnamese interior. Her parents couldn’t have been happier, and were really just hoping she wouldn’t get pregnant before the garbage man’s son was safely overseas.

“The problem started one humid August evening while they were making out and telling each other deep thoughts in the upper branches of the oak tree they considered “their spot.” I guess it was overlooking an old rail bridge, and they caught a brief flash of a transparent jumper. Back then that was the most you could ever hope to see of a haunt, but I guess they found something romantic in the way the pilgrim-looking girl had apparently gone over without hesitation.

“News from the war was pretty rough, so Vinnie was sure he wasn’t coming back if they shipped him – and, frankly, Rosa was sure she’d die simply from being apart from him.

“They talked until it was dark and they were exhausted, then they settled on the age old tradition of a lovers’ suicide pact.

“Saying good night with endless dedications to each other, they went home. It was then that Rosa stole the cyanide bottle from her mom’s amateur photo development kit.

“Once their households were asleep, however, they both crept from their beds, put on their most impressive band t-shirts, and snuck to a meadow on the southside of town.

“Her hands were shaking too bad, so she asked for help with the spoon. They kissed and cried and swallowed the powder.

“It was Vincent, though, who couldn’t stay still. Cyanide is no easy way to go. Even as she’s collapsing he’s stumbling off with the notion that he’s got to puke away the pain and he doesn’t want to do it into his beloved’s lap.

“Twenty feet over he collapses. They were found the next morning.

“They thought they’d always be together in the afterlife, but twenty feet means a lot.

“The meadow didn’t stay a meadow. A developer bought it and threw up a suburb which immediately went into decline. Rosa found herself half-beneath someone’s kitchen sink and half projecting into their front room, while Vincent was stuck on the floor of the garage next door.

Flash Pulp 383 - Coffin: Time to Consider - A Skinner Co. Network Podcast“They could visit, but it took a huge effort and no matter how tightly they clung to each other the pull of death was – and is – ceaseless.”

As if to demonstrate, Sandy grunted and shifted her bloodied finger tips between the building’s brickwork.

She continued her story, but made no effort to scale any further.

“Worse, by the time Will and I found them the neighbourhood had basically been abandoned, so they were left to weep in the ruins while being unable to see or talk to each other without great difficulty.

“Actually, heh, we helped them by burning it all down. That was my – fortieth birthday? I remember Will turning to me while we watched it catch and telling me to make a wish before blowing out my candles.

“Once they were free to yell at each other it took less than a year until things ran their course and they moved on just to get some space.”

“Uh?” asked Bunny, her eyes unsure.

“Never let twenty feet get between you, you never know what it’ll mean in the long run.”

“Huh.”

There was a pause then, and neither woman moved as they inspected the gray sky and silent horizon.

Finally, Bunny asked, “I always got the impression you wanted him dead? I mean, that’s why you climb, right? Isn’t that why you spend the occasional afternoon rubbing your deadness against the locked balcony door and ####ing up my Saturday viewings of Captain Kaiju’s Monster Madness?”

The phantom again gave that same shrug, and Bunny realized why it seemed so familiar: She’d seen it on her roommate’s shoulders a thousand times.

“Look at me and tell me what exactly death means these days,” answered the specter. “If I was careful enough to keep him close, would it be so bad?”

Yet, before Sandy might receive an answer, she allowed her form to drop to the pavement below and return to the position in which she’d expired. With the speed of a blink, her trail of gore followed.

Suddenly Bunny was desperate for toast and the last of the peanut butter she’d seen hiding at the rear of the cupboard.

She went inside.

 

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.

FPSE22 – The Queen’s Measure

FPSE22 - The Queen's measure: A Skinner Co. Network Podcast

Welcome to Flash Pulp, special episode twenty-two.

Flash PulpTonight we present The Queen’s Measure

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Nutty Bites

 

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 digress briefly from the universe we know so well to tell a tale of personal and universal truth in the lands of Sofia Esperon, Queen of the Hundred Kingdoms.

 

The Queen’s Measure

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

 

The signing of the final peace treaty enacted to unite the Hundred Kingdoms under the long reign of Queen Sofia Esperon took place on the tiered balconies that surrounded her castle atop the Mountain of Glass.

Though she’d chosen the location amongst the gossamer spires to limit the number of spectators, penny chiselers, and scoundrels, the tradition of an open-air signing, before any who could make their way to attend, still drew forth such throngs that many would eventually claim to have slept along the translucent roadside who had, in actuality, made no effort to even depart their front door.

However, the monk was one who did pass through the crystal gate.

The self-proclaimed holy man was a wanderer who had trekked from the country of Quabbin to preach his doctrine of honesty, austerity, and fealty.

Sofia saw him first from the shadowed depths of the humble carriage she used when it suited her purpose to move through her lands unnoticed. As the Queen and her handmaid, Ida, took the mood of the crowd and judged the rate the barley was flowing from the tent and barrel dwellings that had been erected as makeshift ale houses, they noted the monk’s thick voice cutting through the din of the multitude.

He stood on the lip of the eastern fountain, and his waving arms shook his gray ecclesiastical robes as he spoke.

“… for the cur, Mulhand the Colossus, was so brazen as to declare war against our one and true Lady, and though I would never speak against her decisions, Bargoth, God over all he surveys from his throne in the heart of the Sun, is clear that we should be honest in every way: Both in comment and action. Those of us who have always supported the Queen feel honestly that the Colossus does not deserve life, and Bargoth does not understand her mercy in allowing him to keep his head.”

Though Esperon felt no pull in his philosophies, there was something in the nature of his statements that caught her ear and left her wanting to correct his misconception. She found herself reviewing his words even as she returned to the cool depths of her stables and the unassuming passage she used for discreet entrances.

FPSE22 - The Queen's measure: A Skinner Co. Network PodcastHer first order of business upon stepping from her conveyance was to dispatch Ida to invite the monk to the feast at dusk, so that she might briefly converse with him between cups, then the regent set the matter from her mind and began to prepare for the afternoon’s ceremony.

* * *

The galleries of Queen Sofia Esperon’s castle held a thousand wonders collected from across the Hundred Kingdoms or constructed within the very walls themselves. The singing topiaries of the Blood Earth Garden were certainly well renowned; and many bawdy tales were told of the Crooked Feast Hall, whose floor would rise at its corner as the hour progressed so that even the most stubborn guest would tumble out its low-lying door by the chime of midnight.

Still, there was perhaps no greater marvel than the Forest Ballroom, whose ever-lush grasses somehow offered footing as firm as any hardwood, and whose dimensions stretched far beyond the boundaries of the chamber that contained it.

On that evening the orchestra had been instructed to climb to the glass walkways that stretched between the room’s massive sequoias, so that their instruments would reach as deep into the great woods as possible. Sofia knew that on an occasion of such size their melodies were often the sole method by which farflung partygoers might find the center of the room, and thus the exits.

It was also often true that the Queen found the attentions required by the endless stream of diplomats and nobles exhausting, but she knew too well the need for direct consultation when ruling so vast and varied a kingdom.To better endure the hours of glad handing and political jockeying she had had several nests constructed amongst the trees, each accessible only through a combination of depressible knots set in the base of their respective trunks.

It was atop one of these refuges that Ida found her ruler peering down from the edge of her leaf-cloaked perch.

Ida, unencumbered by reputation or title, was free to dance her ears over the debates and scandals that spilled from wine-loosened tongues, but the tray-toters flowing through the crowd knew to be quick about nudging her in the direction of anything worthy of note.

It was at the end of her recounting of wars probably only declared in jest and marriages probably only declared in drunkenness that the handmaid came to such an item.

“Finally, Akulina and his orchestra seem quite agitated with the monk you invited. Apparently the fellow started in on the conductor with a lecture regarding the inappropriate nature of some of the forgotten meanings behind the songs you selected for the evening, which shifted into a larger sermon on the unnecessary extravagance of the party, and how Bargoth would think us all idiots for not standing in an actual forest.”

Sofia sniffed. “Bargoth has never had to deal with rain on a high holiday, I suppose.”

Burying her smirk, Ida replied, “I think it was the monk’s apparent intoxication that annoyed Akulina most. Hard to take speechifying on austerity seriously when you’ve nearly drowned yourself in another’s vineyard.”

Nodding, Esperon moved to the couch at the rear of the platform. “I shall speak with him as soon as I rise. What hour are we?”

“The sixteenth now,” answered Ida. “The Western delegation has retired, but the central kingdoms have yet to arrive. They know to leave plenty of cushion to prevent another incident.”

The Queen hated to allow any interval to pass without her watch, but she found herself as weary as she had been after many a battle. The guests would simply assume she was at the far side of the party until she was rested enough to return.

“How much do you have left in you?” she asked her attendant.

“Oh, my excitement carries me nicely. I’ll be up till after the midday feast, at least,” replied the girl.

Finally, Sofia gave her instructions with eyes already half-closed, “wake me if you tire or when they start laying out the cutlery. I’ll need a moment to bathe and effect a wardrobe change,” then she slept.

* * *

Four hours later the smell of roasted mutton wafted between the trees, but not so deep as to reach Ida and the Monk.

They stood beside a fast moving brook, his back to the meal and his bulk surrounded by a cloud of sour grapes. With slurred insistence he alternated between demanding she do her best to make him most welcome in the absence of her lady and apologizing for his drunken state and forward behaviour. The rotation had kept Ida in retreat, but, with her spine against a drooping oak and his broad arms before her, she had no more ground to give.

With sweat on his palms, the monk placed a hand upon her shoulder.

Still, just as the revellers had been too hungry to note their absence, the pair were too fixated on their own concerns to notice the approach of their queen – and Sofia was glad she’d woken when she had: Though she appreciated Ida’s diplomacy and tact in not spilling blood on a treaty signing day, she knew the girl carried a well-honed stiletto beneath the cufflets at her delicate wrist.

Striding through the meadow across which she’d spotted them, the Queen cast aside the hushed tone of festivity and unleashed the voice that had commanded her warbears and ballistas during the western campaigns.

“You utter bile at the Colossus, and yet I can say this about the man I fought to a stand still amongst the poppies of the field they’ve since dubbed Esperon’s Boneyard: Whatever may happen between he and I in the future, Mulhand has been naught but obvious regarding his intentions at every step. I never asked for war, but he was always clear on enumerating his reasons and the consequences he foresaw.

“All in moderation, you claim, but at the first opportunity your goblet overflows and you beg forgiveness for the spill. I have seen Mulhand drink as well, during the negotiations – as might be expected in a time of defeat – and he makes no claim he would not back up while sober.

“Even when a lesser man would drown in his cups I have seen the knowledge that it is best to stumble to his pillow enter the Colossus’ eyes well before any mistaken statement has entered his mouth or errant thought has landed steel in his hand. He kept his promises of violence, and I expect he’ll keep his promises of peace.

“You, however, are something even lower than an enemy. You speak sunshine and move your hands in darkness, and always with quick justification, be it divine or fermented. No, I can have no such close – I exile you sir.”

She had closed the distance as she’d delivered her judgement, and she was now close enough to see the horror in the monk’s face.

“M’lady!” he whispered in the cloying tone of practiced repentance, “all lands are yours – there is naught beyond the Hundred Kingdoms!”

“Perhaps then Bargoth will be so kind as to provide you firmament upon which to land when we toss you from a pier and into the eastern salt,” she replied, drawing Ida to her side.

The arrival of five of her Royal Guard acted as both the Queen and Ida’s final consideration of the matter, though no longer would the regent dare slumber until the doors were barred.

 

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.

FP382 – Joe Monk, Emperor of Space: Preservation

Joe Monk, Emperor of Space

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

Flash PulpTonight we present Joe Monk, Emperor of Space: Preservation

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Nutty Bites

 

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 encounter the youth who will one day be ruler of the cosmos as he seeks privacy above an apparently barren rock.

 

Joe Monk, Emperor of Space: Preservation

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

 

Joe Monk, the last of Earth’s heirs, had spent the majority of his youth in the empty rooms and silent hallways of the ship that had birthed and nurtured him, but, in recent days, the spread of his reputation had called down followers like flies. He could no longer make out the gentle hum of the engine that had mothered him, much less bask in it.

That was why, on an evening deep into his Council of Ten Stars educational tour, he found himself alone in a shuttle at the edge of his unexpected fleet.

Not even Macbeth, his chief counsel, knew of his location – the craboid had been increasingly tight pincered about the human’s doings, and it was not in Joe’s psyche to listen to another hour of his mentor’s nagging.

The armada, such as it was, was spread from the rings of the inner planet, Straws I, through to the very surface of the system’s sun. The halt had been announced to accommodate those ships requiring a hydrogen-rich source to refuel, but, as those crews conducted their gassing runs, the remaining vessels took the opportunity to jettison garbage and run basic maintenance.

It was a backwater of the loneliest sort. Macbeth had complained that nobody would ever linger there unless they needed a pit stop – but the notion of that sort of solitude had been too alluring to the man who would eventually be emperor of all space.

He could not have expected the distress call that would interrupt his isolation.

At first he assumed the source was amongst the heaps that made up his caravan, as it would not be the first time an engine fire had spontaneously broken out on one of the third-hand craft that had been so deeply jury-rigged that their manufacturers would have been hard pressed to recognize their work, but his onboard computer tracked the weak signal to a source on the third moon of the nearby world.

That put him closest by quite a distance; even with the shuttle’s underpowered thrusters he knew he’d be at the site well before the Egg could get itself turned around.

Opening the throttle he dropped the fusion power plant into gear and grinned his way through the g-forces pinning him to his seat.

He was flush with adrenaline as he set down and pulled on his suit, but somehow the subtle tendrils of prudence that had begun to infect the human’s maturing brain managed to fire off a quick “I’ve got this” message before he stepped through his refuge’s tiny airlock.

The moon was little more than a barren ball of carbon dust, and that fact could not have made Joe happier. From horizon to horizon there was only a single visible stirring, and that was simply the slow red blink of a light some two hundred feet away.

Joe Monk, Emperor of Space, a Science Fiction PodcastThere was room to run, and the forgiving gravity allowed Monk to turn a trip into a series of belly-laughing cartwheels.

Still, he had presence of mind to strike a stoic pose as he pushed the large crimson button that the winking illumination acted to indicate.

He could not read the signage scrawled across the tube that broke the surface, but he’d experienced enough alien skyscrapers and shipboard transportation to identify an elevator. As such, he stepped inside.

The descent was rapid, but outside his stop all was blackness. He did not remove his helmet – he’d learned the hard way that an atmosphere does not always mean oxygen – yet even through the muffling layers he could hear a forlorn gurgling.

Steeling himself he stepped into the dark, which immediately evaporated. Ceiling-mounted bundles of automated lights began to spread from his position, bringing into view a set of hallways stretching off on either side and a great window directly in front of him.

The room beyond the glass also came alive, and within sat a massive being of stone and purple. It was hunkered low on its haunches, and the area on its chest that seemed to act as its face was buried in the broad rocky planes of its upper hands.

Though Joe did not recognize its physiology, he could only interpret the crackling whimper that emanated from within the stranger’s round chest as the sound of tears.

From behind the third door to Monk’s left, a large droid with a body like a vending machine rolled into the hall. It’s left side held a trio of arms, each with sharp implement at its end, and the right was dominated by a single thick limb toting a circular saw.

It began to advance on him, its speakers grinding out a tongue the earthman could not comprehend, but which had certain unpleasant characteristics in common with his homeworld’s German.

“I’m coming, big guy,” Joe told the window, but there was little at hand with which to defend himself.

A second robot appeared then, this one tall and no thicker than a broom, though also on triangular treads. It approached the human with both arms extended, its grasping fingers raised.

The monkey-cousin was too quick, however, and the pull of gravity too faint.

Avoiding its probing pinches, Joe snatched the stick-bot and swung it hard over his head, shattering the bulbs above and plunging its base directly through the plastic panel that made up the box-droid’s chest.

The sounds of combat brought the massive captive to a howl behind its barrier, even as those lights that were yet undamaged took on an erratic blink and sirens began to bleat throughout the complex.

At the center of the chaos, Monk stood, legs planted, awaiting a second charge.

Instead, beyond the carnage, the elevator delivered a calm bing.

Before its passenger had even fully disembarked, Monk knew he was in trouble.

“What are you doooooing!?” asked Macbeth in a tone that seemed to realize just all too well what it was he was doing.

“I’m, uh, saving that guy,” answered Joe with a finger crooked towards the window.

“That’s a Brindax, fecal-neurons! They go insane during the third portion of their life cycle and need to be saved FROM THEMSELVES. You haven’t almost rescued some pathetic prisoner, you’ve nearly freed a self-incarcerated madman!”

Joe shrugged.

“It – it was so dark, and he was, you know, crying, and these robots started coming at me…”

“Yes, you’ve successfully managed to destroy thousands of credits worth of antique medical droids. Now get back to your shuttle or I swear I’ll make you repair them yourself.”

Seconds later they were again on the surface, but little could either know that within months Monk would receive his first honourary doctorate. The spread of his tale was only the beginning of a galaxy-wide expose on the neglects of the Brindaxian health care system, though it would be but one more jewel in Monk’s crown.

 

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.

FC105 – Balticon Breakdown

FC105

FC105 - Balticon Breakdown

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Hello, and welcome to FlashCast 105.

Prepare yourself for: Mobicon, Bastian Bux, Cards Against Skinner Co., Tom Swift, time war, and missing the hell out of the Mob.

* * *

Huge thanks to:

  • All of the mobsters who came out for Mobicon. We love you all.

* * *

* * *

* * *

* * *

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:

  • FP381 – Of Two Minds
  • * * *

    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.

    FCM018 – Oreoganza

    FCM018
    Welcome to Flash Pulp Minisode 018 – Oreoganza.

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    Download MP3
    (RSS / iTunes)

     

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

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

    Freesound.org credits:

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

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

    FP381 – Of Two Minds

    KarWick

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

    Flash PulpTonight we present Of Two Minds

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

     

    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 enter a terrifying future with a full head of steam.

     

    Of Two Minds

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

     

    Despite his two-month stay being the longest they’d been separated, Leanne Frost had refused to enter the hospital to visit her only son, Andrew.

    Until that spring she’d never felt regrets about not birthing another. Now, while waiting for the slam of a car door in the silence of the kitchen with a mug of coffee in her hand and her eyes on the oven’s clock, she wondered briefly if she should have ever had any at all.

    The fight had begun with Andrew’s announcement. Leanne had always considered herself an open minded woman, and as such she’d refused to acknowledge what made her uncomfortable about his news.

    Court cases and news network coverage had often repeated that speaking ill of the displaced was an act of intolerance, but Leanne had long had suspicions that it was those same people who could afford to pay lawyers and anchors that were most likely to undertake the procedure.

    Instead, she’d latched onto the fact that it would mean taking a year or two before continuing his education. High school had been an easy affair for Andrew, but that had had more to do with his football skills than his academics. Leanne knew her son’s distaste for the written word, and she worried that the loss of focus would make it difficult for him to move on to college.

    They’d been sitting in the living room watching ancient mystery movies that Sunday morning, as had been their tradition since Leanne had divorced Andrew’s father, when, during a McCloud horse chase, he’d dropped his bomb

    She almost said, “I won’t allow any monsters in my home,” but fumbled to the more politically correct, “you are going to university! No son of mine is going to laze around leeching off some rusting embezzler!”

    “It’s murder not to!” he’d answered.

    Leanne had heard the idea argued before on hospital dramas, and she’d never thought herself a bigot, but in that moment she shook with a revulsion she hadn’t suspected of herself.

    She’d listened to the line echoed a hundred times since – if lives can be saved, shouldn’t they? Even if it was only those lives that could afford it?

    “How could anyone afford not to?” she asked her empty coffee mug.

    Two minutes later the screen door gave out its usual warning complaint, followed by the familiar closet shuffle and shoe kicking that marked Andrew’s entrance.

    The sound of his socked feet on the hardwood was enough to wring her stomach twice. She missed her baby.

    “Mom?” he asked.

    “In here,” she replied, but she could not bring herself to move away from the support of the kitchen counter.

    Leanne had known Andrew would not be alone when he entered, but the change in her child left her thankful for the strength of her perch.

    Jules Wilson had a vulture’s eyes, and the angle of his insertion had left the transplanted head with a constant look of hard scrutiny. The old man’s balding pate and wrinkled jowls did nothing to dispel the carrion eater association.

    Kar'Wick“Not in my house,” thought Leanne, but her mouth said nothing.

    Still, her face was readable even by the stranger.

    “I told you there’d be issues, Andy,” said the croaking attachment. “I understand what the contract says, but I still think everyone would be happier if we just went back to my place. There’s plenty of scotch handy and I’m sure we can find you some cute friends to invite over for the weekend.”

    Before Andrew’s mother could find her tongue to respond, however, the drawers flew wide and the cupboards took to flapping like shattered bird wings.

    Leanne would no longer have cause to worry about the path of her son’s life, and Wilson would be denied his immortality, for it was then, through the window above the sink, that the trio witnessed the rise of the black and gnarled carapace of Kar’Wick the Spider-God.

     

    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.

    FC104 – Chicken Livers

    FC104 - chicken Livers

    FC104 - Chicken Livers

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    Hello, and welcome to FlashCast 104.

    Prepare yourself for: Drunk food, fan fic, solar powered cars, bronzed corpses, and Coffin.

    * * *

    Huge thanks to:

    * * *

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    Audio-dacity of Hope:

  • Check out the new items on the store!
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  • Email Opop about Skinner Co. Ink at opopanax at skinner dot fm!
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    Backroom Plots:

  • Coffin: Looking Down
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    Also, many thanks, as always, Retro Jim, of RelicRadio.com for hosting FlashPulp.com and the wiki!

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

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

    FP380 – Coffin: The Drop of the Shoe, Part 4 of 4

    The Drop of the Shoe

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and eighty.

    Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: The Drop of the Shoe, Part 4 of 4

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    This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Skinner Co. Store

     

    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 apprentice, find their lives threatened outside a downtown eatery.

     

    Coffin: The Drop of the Shoe, Part 4 of 4

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

     

    Bunny had been left with the ambulance.

    “Wait in the ####ing car?” she was saying to keep herself company, “like I’m a ###damn brat sitting in the back of a wood-paneled station wagon or some ####.”

    Unreadable behind his surgical mask, her toothy chauffeur said nothing.

    * * *

    Coffin hadn’t stood upon his balcony in some time.

    “I’ve been busy,” he was explaining to his wife, but it did little to slow the dead woman’s ascent, finger hold by finger hold, up the side of the building.

    She was already at the fifth floor, and he was left wondering if she’d been so fast the last time.

    No, definitely not.

    “Yeah, I heard,” she replied, “busy running around the country while everything fell apart.”

    Realizing small talk was only going to get him murdered, Will cut to the chase, saying, “They killed Pisky.”

    It was enough to stop her left hand in the middle of its ascent.

    “Shit,” replied Sandy.

    Such a pause was rare, and he relished the seconds. It was as close to mercy as she ever gave him.

    “So far it’s us and them that know,” he said. “Won’t be long before the succession talk starts though, then the news’ll be out.”

    Even a dozen floors down, he could see the twitch of her bloody palms. Every moment the apparition was away from her place of shattered resting was a struggle, and he knew she’d always found it easier to move forward than stay still. His hunger to make the occasion linger drew more honesty from his mouth than he’d intended.

    Coffin: The Drop of the Show, an occult fiction podcast from Skinner Co.“Listen,” said Will, “there are also some spooks missing. I don’t think they’ve moved on, they seem to be just – gone.”

    “Gone?”

    He’d been watching Sandy’s eyes as he’d told her, and he could see her brain working through the equation.

    The squint that meant she realized she was in danger.

    The lift of her brow as she realized the consequences.

    The frown she wore when she thought he was about to do something stupid.

    Suddenly she was climbing again, her ethereal fingers leaving behind flesh and nail at every handhold.

    “Don’t go in there,” she told him, and that was it, he knew the conversation was over.

    Stepping back, he slid the glass door shut, flicked the lock, then blocked out his view of the balcony by pulling the rarely used thick brown curtains across the usual gauze of white.

    Moving to the kitchen he opened the poorly masked fuse box and eyed the breakers within, then his practiced thumb sent the apartment into darkness.

    In truth it was the only way to turn off the hallway light, though Bunny had never noticed there was no switch.

    * * *

    Coffin thought the word needed to get around and there was no one with more time for conversation than The Insomniac.

    A single text had pushed the unsleeping man to return to Spinerette’s. He’d had twenty floating on a game of Shooter, but he hadn’t waited around to learn how things shook out. Obligations were obligations.

    Still, he knew better than to stand in the open.

    A dumpster and some fumbling had given him access to the roof of the florist’s shop across the road, and he’d watched their approach from the space between the painted yellow flowers that identified the store on its sign.

    In the fifteen minutes he’d been waiting just a single car had passed, and even that had stopped and disgorged a trio of passengers into the still-closed restaurant.

    The group had all been dressed alike, in bulky white hoods and white painter’s masks over their mouths.

    Their clothing had made it difficult to identify any of them, but their heavy arms and broad shoulders made it clear they weren’t there to apply for wait staff positions.

    Bunny and Coffin drifted in from the west, probably from a bus stop blocks away.

    With no attempt at stealth, Will walked the exterior of the brick structure. As he moved he seemed to be leaving a finger trailing along the structure’s mortar and winter-barren trestles.

    The city existed somewhere in the distance, but to The Insomniac nothing seemed alive on that street but the three shadows dancing across the interior windows and the pair of mystics facing them from the sidewalk.

    Inches from where he started, and thus from completing his circuit, Coffin shouted, “it’s a requirement of my office to give you an opportunity to surrender. Will you renounce Kar’Wick and his web or can I get on with making you an example?”

    It was then that the rooftop witness realized that it was not the shaman’s finger marking the route but a small stone that left a faint but glowing red line along its path.

    “Come on inside so we don’t have to kill you in the street,” came the reply from a second floor window.

    Will’s hand twitched, closing his loop.

    For a second there was naught but the arcane in the space which had once held Spinerette’s. The cutlery abandoned in its sinks were no more, the tables were no longer covered in unblemished white plates and carefully folded napkins, there was not even any longer a trio of wide necked twenty-somethings with pistols in the bands of their crisp white jogging pants.

    There was only blood, thick and red, holding the shape where chairs and potted plants and floor boards and bricks had once stood, then physics took its brutal hold and the sidewalk gutters ran red.

    The declaration of war did not entirely satisfy the Coffin’s taste for justice, but he considered it a good start.

     

    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.

    FP379 – Coffin: The Drop of the Shoe, Part 3 of 4

    Coffin

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

    Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: The Drop of the Shoe, Part 3 of 4

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    Download MP3
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    This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Skinner Co. Store

     

    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 apprentice, discuss old dead friends with the Lady of the Northern Reaches.

     

    Coffin: The Drop of the Shoe, Part 3 of 4

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

     

    They’d sent no word, as Will had known it to be unnecessary. Those who remained of the Lords and Ladies which once held domain over the primeval lands were a reclusive lot, but news of a death amongst their ranks would carry on the song of every mourning sparrow and in the howling of every lamenting family hound.

    “I’ll wait here,” was the extent of their driver’s statement upon their second stop, but Bunny suspected that the shark-faced man would rather sit in silence than encounter the likely wrath of the occult nobility awaiting them in the abandoned motel’s husk.

    Still, it was in the arcane ambulance’s nature to be forgotten as soon as it had passed, and no one questioned its right of way or meteoric pace. She did not relish the thought of having had to try to explain a dead raccoon in the back seat to a highway patrolman, nor having the blood on the upholstery to the rental people.

    Stepping across rusting mattress springs and the scattered remains of a shattered television, Bunny and Coffin entered the collapsing shoreside resort. They found Sour Thistle not in her usual place, but at a window overlooking the snowy calm of the frozen lake.

    “How many times have I gazed upon this pond? Have I mentioned before that Blackhall and I used to meet at this same spot? There was no construction then – those few who walked these shores knew enough to move through my realm on tender feet. Now I’m lucky not to be run down by an eighteen wheeled rig while chasing my breakfast.”

    Her attendee, the Dead Faced Man, stood in the corner and said little. His rotting mask was beyond expression, but Coffin suspected the former swindler could not be terribly pleased to see the man who he deemed responsible for ending his career as a lawyer and the life he had made for himself in Capital City.

    Fortunately, Will didn’t especially care.

    “I’m sorry for the loss of your associate,” he told the wolverine.

    Dropping her mystically over-sized fore paws to the rotting carpet, the Lady of the Northern Reaches gave a welcoming nod to both Bunny and Coffin, then set her rump beside a recently erected card table at the room’s center.

    Without comment, her lackey stepped into the hall.

    Once the trio were alone a snarl entered Sour Thistle’s voice.

    “Do not hand me your cool condolences, reaper, you forget that I have seen you in tragedy before. You must have quite liked the sticky-fingered bandit to work so hard at calm.

    ”I had known Pisky some seven centuries. I can not say I liked him, but that does not mean we were not friends. Perhaps you can not understand, given the short spans afforded to you temporary bags of meat, but I assure you that two beings do not need to find moments of laughter or shared interest when faced with the commonality of a slow starvation.

    “A death of a hundred years can forge a bond deeper than any correspondence or childhood memory.”

    For the first time since they’d discovered the murder, Will struck Bunny as agitated.

    “It wasn’t just Rocky Raccoon you know,” replied Coffin. “There were several spirits in the area that seem to have been – erased. There’s nothing more than a stain where they once rested.”

    A series of slowing clicks came from deep within Sour Thistle’s throat, and Bunny briefly wondered if perhaps she was about to witness an occult throw down.

    Instead the forest queen lowered her head and nodded, saying, “there is murder, and then there is murder. I apologize, Coffin, and appreciate your concerns.

    “Do the records of your office include the account of how that idiot and I survived those desperate days when the energies were at their lowest and there was little to sustain beings of our nature? There were many emergencies of course, but it was truly Pisky who made what most consider the bleakest decades livable.

    “For a generation I survived solely by having my scouts on constant alert for brain-poisoned fairies and feral-eyed gnomes. Half-dead themselves, they were tidbits that provided only enough to hold me to the next meager meal.

    “Then Pisky arrived.

    “He’d tracked one of the foolish lake monster myths to a pool in the northwest. The territory’s tenant was ill with the red plague, though we did not know it – we knew simply that he was absent, which was all the justification for poaching that we required.

    “Until then Pisky had been clever enough to get the better end of every deal between us, so I thought him likely onto something when he came to me for help.

    “His mind was sharp, but his teeth were no match for my claws.

    “In those days you’d barely infected these lands, and there were still pockets, even starving as it also was, that a titan such as the hydra could hide its bulk.

    “We cornered it in a muddy bay, really little more than a lakeside swamp, and the contest lasted three days.

    “Two heads in place of every one, as legend says, and it had already sixteen at its command. Its neck meat was glorious, and my appetite was boundless.

    “When it was finally so top-weighted that it’s shattered legs could no longer think of escape, we collected our first harvest – some six hundred heads – and ate them between deep gulps of the cold clean water. In time our agents actually purchased the dirt and lay a barn overtop its form, but there was a certain sort of revelry to those early open-air picnics.

    “We slept with full bellies that winter, and I swear I have never tasted blood so sweet since.”

    With the tale told, all eyes fell to the tabletop.

    It was the queen who broke the silence, and Bunny couldn’t help but notice how chatty the old dame was being. It left her wondering if perhaps she was stalling the process of having to see the body.

    “Do you know who to hold accountable?” asked Sour Thistle.

    Coffin replied, “I’ve a discreet private investigator looking into the ownership of the place, but I think it’s pretty obvious.”

    “The festering disciples of the arachnid? Do they not understand their ultimate reward is oblivion?”

    “You can still have a lot of fun with unlimited power between now and the end of the world.”

    “It’s true then that they consumed him?”

    “Partially. There’s still plenty left to gnaw on.”

    “The dead queen will wish to hold the feast in her northern castle, will you attend and taste of his flesh?”

    “Nope.”

    Sour Thistle gave a sound that was half sniff and half snort.

    Somewhere a crow aired its grievances to the winter air, then the room was filled only with the misty wisps that marked the trio’s breathing.

    Finally, Will’s shoulders fell.

    “I meant no disrespect,” he answered, “I’d go, but I don’t think I could choke down my portion.”

    “It is not your refusal that worries me,” said the ancient beast, “it is your mood. Do not overreact in this, William.”

    Coffin’s posture stiffened and his battered leather jacket rose at his neck like the fur of a confronted cat.

    Despite his demeanour, however, his voice was still and empty.

    “Hey, if you wanted self control you should’ve talked to the Mute.”

    With that their palaver ended, and Bunny and Will exited to discover the casket already transferred into the RV that would carry Pisky to his ultimate destination.

    It was a long and silent ride home.

     

    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.

    FP378 – Coffin: The Drop of the Shoe, Part 2 of 4

    The Drop of the Shoe

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

    Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: The Drop of the Shoe, Part 2 of 4

    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
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    This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Skinner Co. Store

     

    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 return to our tale of arcane murder and questionable dinner parties as Will Coffin, urban shaman, and Bunny, his apprentice, travel northward.

     

    Coffin: The Drop of the Shoe, Part 2 of 4

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

     

    Perhaps the proximity to death reminded their driver, the last crew member of the Phantom Ambulance, of his own recently lost companion, or perhaps the phantasm kept to himself to prevent exposing the strings of saliva entwining amongst the spiraling teeth beneath his paramedic’s face mask. He could not help the desire, even if the carrion that might be his meal was forbidden.

    Whatever the case, Bunny was happy the ring-mouthed chauffeur wasn’t feeling conversational.

    The procession’s first stop was a short one, but, as Will explained it, still a diplomatic necessity. Wide Eye, the animal lord who held sway over the lands to the north of Capital City, was a ruler in decline, with his presence barely felt in his realm even in those days of growing power – yet, after a moment of silence over the corpse, the massive golden-pupiled owl had extended the smaller set of its four gray wings to summon a brown mass of rats bearing upon their backs a proper casket in which to lay the visiting dignitary’s remains.

    The box was made of simple wood bound together with tree-bark twine, but the lumber – a collection of driftwood, ancient and splintered downed maple, and fragrant fresh pine – had been etched and shaped by a multitude of beaks and claws. A single shard no bigger than Coffin’s thumb might hold a magpie’s pattern intricate enough to be mistaken for Victorian wallpaper, while other slabs held delicate spirals dug by chittering and weeping squirrels. The only gap in the construction looked upon Pisky’s shadowed face, and in that poor light it now almost appeared as if the raccoon had found some peace.

    The Drop of the ShoeCoffin had spent his brief time outside the surrogate hearse making insistent phone calls that otherwise would have felt inappropriate in the sanctified hush of their catafalque, but, two hours later, he finally broke the rattling quiet of the ambulance’s steady highway pace.

    “I remember one time – in the mid-’80s I guess – when this woman came to us for help. Francine. She was a nice lady; big hair, heart, and hips. She was having issues with her husband, who she was sure was possessed.

    “She was the sort to keep to herself, but he was the type that liked to roam downtown with the boys while wearing the too-tight pants of the era. On three or four occasions he’d woken her in the middle of the night. Once he was jabbering in a language she couldn’t understand, the next he was going through some sort of naked ritual dance in the living room.

    “Sandy asked around, but none of the dead folks had heard anything. We were starting to wonder if another magic peddler was moving in on our territory, so we began taking turns following him in the evening.

    “She figured what was going on on his second outing and set the trap.

    “It was a fairly simple thing – he was heading into Mierau Park, off of Fifth, and it was as shady then as it is now. He must have just done another bump of coke, or whatever he’d bought, when he came down the last stretch of sidewalk to the subway.

    “He was be-bopping to himself, his shoulders swaggering, and suddenly there was a five-foot-tall talking raccoon in a full tuxedo – Pisky insisted on the tux – demanding everything in his pockets.

    “You’ve got to picture it, the guy was deep in Don Johnson territory: sport coat, pastel shirt, white guy Jheri curl, the whole thing. He pulled out a big baggy of suspicious powder, a wallet fat with the bills he planned on blowing that night, and a ring of keys, but Pisky didn’t even blink, he simply tossed it all in the air and ate the whole collection.

    “Well, Francine’s fella wet his pleated teal trousers and ran. Far as I know he gave up his weekend ways.

    “Pisky, though, spent the next two days raving about ants.”

    Bunny shifted on the bench opposite and did her best to chuckle, but her mind was weighing the murder of a being that had lived hundreds of years.

     

    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.