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FC129 – Shoulda Been John Waters

FC129 - Shoulda Been John Waters

FC129 - Shoulda Been John Waters

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Hello, and welcome to FlashCast #129.

Prepare yourself for: When Doves Cry, CIA film production, hair theft, Doc Azrael, and Sofia Esperon

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Huge thanks to:

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Pulp-ular Press:

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Skinner Co. Announcements:

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Mailbag:

  • Send your comments and questions to comments@flashpulp.com!
  • Thank you for our sacrifices to The Box, Rich the TT!
  • Thanks as well to Nutty for her terrifying tale!

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Audio-dacity of Hope:

  • Download Reverse Crash
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    Backroom Plots:

  • FPSE31 – Sofia Esperon and Greater Things
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    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.

    FPSE32 – Sofia Esperon and Greater Things

    Sofia Esperon

    Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode #32.

    Flash PulpTonight we present Sofia Esperon and Greater Things

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    This week’s episodes are brought to you by Orphaned Entertainment!

     

    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 Queen Sofia Esperon is summoned to a dragon-haunted corner of her kingdom.

     

    Sofia Esperon, Queen of the Hundred Kingdoms, and Greater Things

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

     

    There’d been an age when many corners of the Hundred Kingdoms smoked with the passage of dragons, but under royal decree, and with careful consideration, their population had been coaxed into a quiet cohabitation by Queen Sofia Esperon’s command.

    It was with some surprise then that the small farming village of Tolspot, situated along the southern edge of the Sweetfield Peninsula, found itself within the shadow of a mighty wingspan early one spring morning.

    A herdsman by the name of Phosmas was loitering at his meadow’s edge, feeding a stand of spruce his previous night’s wine, when the gloom fell. His head shifted skyward, expecting a persistent cloud, but instead he spotted the blue-black form of a soaring reptile.

    With wet boots he’d collected his sheep and scurried to town.

    Though his position, both societal and geographical, meant he was likely the first to have spotted its trajectory, Tolspot was afire with the news by the time he’d penned his beasts and achieved the square. The whispers he found there were a mix of fear and curiosity.

    Mayor Slowfinger stood upon the low platform that acted as courthouse, stage, and altar, depending on the need of the day. Her arms were wide and her voice hushed.

    “So it is that I’ve dispatched a rider to the capital,” she was saying. “We should have quick word, as we know the Queen takes such matters quite seriously. Still, it is three days ride, so it would be best that we remain vigilant and keep the cattle sheltered as best we can.”

    Elida Weatherspout – her husband Toon at her side and their bairn, Malthus, in her hands – stepped forward and asked, “where could it have come from? Surely others have noticed the passage and the Queen’s Guard is already imminent?”

    The Mayor shook her head in careful turns, but she waggled a finger at Old Man Ross, the hamlet’s living history, as an answer.

    Ross cleared his throat with a papery cough and worked to have his words heard over the creak of his jaw.

    “That’s Murk, as lively as I’ve ever seen him, I’d know that smudge upon the horizon even if Witch Martha hadn’t removed the canker from my eye last wintertide.”

    “Murk?” replied Elida, “I thought the legends of the sky lord nothing more than spook tales told around the harvest fires to keep children from wandering too far into the wildwoods?”

    Here then Phosmas found his opportunity to add to the debate.

    “I believe it,” he said, “He was low over the treetops when he swept across my pasture, and I saw clearly the stump that marked the loss of his second head.”

    In a previous age the Queen had demanded every such beast stand for inspection, and she had determined, with a steadier hand than any in her retinue, that though the right head seemed reasonable enough to be allowed to live, the left was not but animal and must be removed to curb the danger it posed.

    Though many argued she should just slay the monster in its entirety and not risk a misstep, she had not made the decision without consideration: Many who had seen the dragon upon its raids had claimed the right argued endlessly with the left, and that the better half had even shouted warnings of its arrival to those villagers too deep in slumber or a whiskey jug to note its alighting.

    Now, however, as the townsfolk stood and chattered beneath the rising sun, there was little more to do. None cared to approach Mount Tellmore, the sole peak in the area, and the storied home – and, until recently, assumed grave – of Murk.

    The hunter appeared on the second evening, though none had witnessed Murk again since the surprise of the previous dawn.

    He arrived upon a white horse laden with weaponry and leather. His saddle was hung with trophies – bear claws of extraordinary size, the shattered tip of a minotaur’s horn, the ears of a jackalope – and his sword was bejewelled and well-honed.

    “I have come to stalk the beast!” the stranger told all who approached.

    Phosmas thought he looked rather sharp atop his charger, truly a grand addition to any spring rites parade, but he could not bring his mind to lineup the glittering appearance of the man’s breeches and boots with the blood and mud he associated with local deerstalkers.

    “You’ve come from the Queen?” asked Mayor Slowfinger, once the newcomer’s gathering procession had arrived at the center of town. “Where is Erwin?”

    “I am Hans Grizmore, though most know me as Hans the Hunter. I met your Erwin upon his long ride, and your plea brought pity to my heart. This monster will taste my blade the same as the Lord of the Maze, a bovine beast I encountered along the northern coast -”

    His tale stretched into greater theatrics from there, and by nightfall all who had remained to listen were tipsy with their own hospitality.

    At dawn Grizmore rode out, his load reduced to only that which he might need for the journey to the mountain top. By dusk he had returned, and his equipment finally held some aspect of what Phosmas knew of hunting.

    The outsider carried Murk’s skull strung from his stallion’s tack, and he displayed it with pride as he dismounted before the inn and accepted an offered tankard of mead. Though the Mayor frowned at his approach – just as she had when her insistence that he not ride out had been ignored – those same revellers who’d seen him off welcomed his reappearance with gusto, and an unexpected and unsanctioned celebration broke forth. At its peak Hans stood astride the square’s stage, his spoils at his feet, and the Widow Seen’s paintbrush capturing his image upon her canvas.

    The revelry lasted two days, yet on the third morning milky-eyed goblins were caught in the Weatherspouts’ dooryard, and little Malthus was in their hands. Only Elida’s quick work with the farm’s wood splitting ax saved the bairn from a stewpot.

    Panic worked its way through the streets and across the hedgerows, and soon more sightings were collected: The Millthorn’s goats were missing, unknown assailants had spent a terrifying night battering the buttoned windows and tightly cinched doors of the Ghorbani homestead, and the Bekele’s barn had been set afire as the cackles of the hidden men – the local name for the cursed goblins that legend claimed had once inhabited the area – could be heard over the cluck and moan of fearful livestock.

    Calling all from field and hill, Mayor Slowfinger had declared an emergency upon the land, and demanded all able should stand guard at the town’s borders while those unable should sleep within the safety of its walls.

    It was as the residence of Tolspot fashioned pikes and armed themselves with kitchen cutlery that the Mayor stopped Hans from making his exit.

    Sofia Esperon“- and where are you off to in such a hurry?” she asked.

    “My job is done, and it’s clear you’re now occupied, so it’s best I be about my way. I am, afterall, a hunter and not a soldier.”

    “You’re not even that,” replied Slowfinger, “you’re a trophy collector. That said, stay and raise your sword for the barricade or it’ll be my own blade that takes YOUR head for a prize.”

    Perhaps it was the strength of the woman’s words, perhaps it was the many eyes who watched the exchange – and the risk to his reputation those observers entailed – but, whatever the case, Grizmore turned back towards the inn.

    What followed was a night and day of siege. Flasks of looted wine were set aflame and cast into the villagers’ midst, barns were burnt and cattle slaughtered, and knobby arrows rained from the darkness, chased by cackling laughter. Worse yet, for every casualty the beleaguered citizens inflicted it seemed five more toothy faces appeared to challenge the bulwark.

    Finally, unslept and with their food supplies dwindling at their lack of access to crops and root cellars, the gathered defenders turned to formulating a plan to abandon their homes and attempt to escape the now seemingly endless tide.

    With tears on their cheeks and memories of sunnier days in mind, they began to collect what they could – and that is when they heard the horns.

    Queen Sofia Esperon had not come with the intention of combat, but it was rare, in this late day of her reign, that she went anywhere within her Hundred Kingdoms without her weapon at her side and her Guard close at hand.

    Surprises were simply too common along the road, even in such a peaceful era.

    She did not sully her blade, however. The rumble of a dozen warbears, their coats close cropped and their harnesses glittering in the sun, echoed along the valley, and the beasts fell upon those of the imps too slow in retreating.

    Yet it was not the invaders who received the worst of her wrath.

    “You again, Hans?” she asked, once the townsfolks’ greetings and thanks had been established.

    For the first time since Grizmore’s arrival, Phasmos noted the man was quiet – he had, in fact, taken to apparently sheltering behind the dirt-laden forms of the Weatherspouts, though Elida and Toon seemed to have taken the greater brunt of the messy work of defense.

    The hunter stepped forward and took to one knee before his ruler.

    “Yes, your highness, I arrived to save you the work of slaying the dragon Murk, though he was clearly not the only threat that beset these lands. It seems this place is cursed. Surely this must all be the work of some foul mystic?”

    “No,” replied Sofia, “it is but the work of one idiot. A true hunter – one that needs fur for heat, meat for winter jerky, and the bones for their summer stew – knows the consequences of cutting too deep, of culling too far.

    “It is no coincidence that the flood followed your pulling of the plug that had held them in place. I had wrought a deal with the beast, decades ago, that he would scrounge his meals only from the tunnels at the rear of his cave, where the undermountain goblins plot endlessly and refuse all treaties.

    “Now the balance has been offset. You will help correct it. No longer, however, will you be Hans the Hunter. Today you begin new duties, under a new name. We will build you a gate, and you will be sure it remains shut – as shut as your damned mouth if you know what’s good for you.”

    It took only a week to close off the hole in Mount Tellmore, yet it was but the beginning of a lifetime of work for Grizmore the Doorman.

     

    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.

    FC128 – Disaster Ghosts

    FC128 - Disaster Ghosts

    FC128 - Disaster Ghosts

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    Hello, and welcome to FlashCast #128.

    Prepare yourself for: Fancy boats, fangirls for fangirls, monkey head transplants, new Nancy Drew, and Mulligan Smith

    * * *

    Pulp-ular Press:

    * * *

    Skinner Co. Announcements:

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    Mailbag:

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    Audio-dacity of Hope:

  • Download Reverse Crash
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    Backroom Plots:

  • Flash Pulp 353
  • * * *

    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.

    FP449 – Unlocked

    A Skinner Co. Production

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and forty-nine.

    Flash PulpTonight we present Unlocked

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    This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Freelance Hunters!

     

    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 an unexpected series of visitors.

     

    Unlocked

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

     

    The rear door of the chugging hatchback opened with a hushed click, and Tori Garza, thirty-eight, felt her Honda shift and tilt under the mountainous stranger’s settling weight. She’d known something like this visit was coming, yet the newcomer had caught her sitting in the driveway as she waited for her two children to finish filling their pockets with electronics, gum, and beloved formed-plastic figures.

    The invaders eyes’ were covered in the thick black plastic of a style that wouldn’t have been out of place on a blind man, and his brow was lost beneath the low-hung brim of his maroon flat cap.

    Across the street, in front of the Mitners’ empty house – Peggy being at work and Anthony having taken their little ones out for an afternoon of overpriced pizza and ancient videogames at the local Chuck E. Cheese – stood a second intruder. Though he too wore tinted glasses, his bald head was exposed to the sun and his dark jacket a little too tight to be buttoned without making the bulge beneath his left armpit noticeable.

    “If you’re here to murder me then get it over with before the kids come out, please,” said Tori, but, though a cold blade did come up to touch the side of her neck, she received an answer even more horrifying than that which she’d expected.

    “No, I wasn’t hired to kill you, I was hired to ruin you,” said Mr. Backseat, and he tilted his head toward the window. The man in the black nylon jacket began to shuffle towards her front door. “My associate is a fellow of especially low moral fiber, though I suppose I shouldn’t talk out of school on the matter given the questionable nature of my own shaggy philosophy. Still, when it comes to executing tykes there’s no one as excited, or as skillful, at the job.”

    “You won’t get away with this,” she replied. His brow stiffened at her tone. The fear he’d heard before placing the weapon to her neck was suddenly gone – now that the mother knew she herself was in no immediate danger, she seemed calm. Was she as cold as his client, who’d employed the pair to murder his own children?

    Mr. Backseat wouldn’t have called the chill along his spine fear – he might have laughed it off as something like professional admiration if he’d thought on it at all – but his attention was on his partner’s slow progress.

    His gloved hand tightened its grip on the knife’s handle nonetheless.

    He cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, but YOU won’t get away with this. You’re going to claim two large men did it while you were forced to sit and watch, but there will be no prints, no unsightly signs of violence. No one is going to believe you. Better yet, if you resist or attempt to stop us, I get to rough you up a little. I hold a degree in applying self-inflicted injuries and a doctorate in ensuring only those witnesses I want are on hand.

    “Remember, especially in light of the lack of spectators, that if you should attempt any heroics I will be forced to make it look like a murder/suicide. I think we can agree that such an outcome would be disappointing for all involved.”

    As the fisherman expects a tug on his line when he knows a potential meal is nibbling at his bait, the cap-wearing man instinctively expected some physical response – a twitch, knuckles whitening on the steering wheel, perhaps a slow move to unbuckle her belt – but he received no such satisfaction.

    Instead Tori simply sat and watched the front door.

    The intended murderer knocked twice, ignoring the bell entirely, and there was a pause both in the car and upon the stoop as he awaited some reaction from inside.

    It was Luther, five, who answered. He was small for his age, his brown eyes too big for his tiny face. He might be a heartbreaker someday, if he lived that long, but he currently reminded his mother of nothing so much as one of the characters from the saccharine mangas his older sister, Selina, obsessed over.

    Those within the car could not hear the transaction between child and intruder. The man in the backseat braced his arm and tightened his legs, his reflexes working to keep the situation under control should the boy’s mother attempt to run, scream, or otherwise provide some warning to the too-friendly kindergartener.

    She did not.

    The killer’s lips moved into a wide grin as he offered his hello, and Luther’s response seemed short and welcoming. Reaching out a smooth-skinned hand, he wrapped his fingers around two of the visitor’s thick digits, then, with little more than a glance at his waiting mother, showed the stranger into the house.

    “It’s fine if you want to cry,” said the blade-holder. “The officers will expect it one way or another, though they may think you’re faking it.”

    “I’m fine,” answered Tori. Her words floated out on a breeze, as if she were instead more concerned with formulating a mental grocery list or what movie to rent to fill up her newly-single evening.

    “Are you?” asked the professional, his occupational pride pushing him to press his weapon further into her flesh. A single droplet of blood drained along its stainless steel edge.

    “Are YOU?” replied the woman, her eyes finally coming to focus on the black plastic across the bridge of his nose. It seemed to him in that moment as if she could see through the tint as clearly as the windshield before her.

    That was when his plan began to fall apart.

    It began with music – familiar, yet he couldn’t place it. Behind his sunglasses, the goon stiffened.

    Every orifice of the house was forced wide. Screens were popped from their frames and doors were left swinging to the wind. Even through the Honda’s glass the thick rhythm of Casio keyboard and guitar began to overwhelm the hardened intruder.

    As human forms began to splash from the home’s now gaping mouths, the ruffian’s hand, distracted, slipped away from its tight position against his victim’s skin.

    Men, women, children – even a dog in a custom-crafted uniform – began to tumble onto the grass, their landings quickly turning into an ongoing frolick. Some took each other’s hands and formed rings, dancing to the thick percussion of the tune. The shorter among them ran circles in and out of such gatherings, and the tallest took to a hand waving dance that bordered on a war strut.

    Each one wore a small paper sign set upon a string about their neck.

    “Witness!” it said.

    Still the flood continued.

    Two dozen figures turned into a count of nearly a hundred, and finally the man in the black nylon jacket reappeared. He was held aloft, his arms and legs bound to one of Tori’s kitchen chairs, his sunglasses lost somewhere within the shadows of the darkened home.

    Luthor led the parade that carried him onto the lawn, his arm flailing with a wooden spoon counting out the music.

    A Skinner Co. ProductionThe man in the backseat was suddenly certain that he was, in fact, suffering an aneurysm and end-of-life hallucination, or that his youthful indiscretions with high-powered narcotics had finally come back to haunt him with an atomic-level flashback.

    It was neither case, but his trepidation was distraction enough to allow Tori to unbuckle and slip from her seat, joining her son in his victory march.

    Though she wore the plain jeans and pink hoodie she’d intended to sport at the mall, Selina was there as well, her own oversized disguise bouncing about on her capering head. Otherwise each shape – tall, small, round, or slender – wore the same outfit: A cheap black suit and a rubber mask displaying a pasty face sporting large black mutton chops.

    Two weeks previous the despondent mother had wept upon her keyboard as she crafted her plea: Would The Achievers help in such a mundane, yet so threatening, situation? She had read Internet whispers that the group might, but she had not even truly believed in their existence until the first of the volunteer vigilantes had arrived: A college student of twenty-three, her mask out of sight and a sleeping bag beneath her arm.

    What had been a slow moving and lonely divorce, filled with threatening late night phone calls and tears carefully hidden from her children, had then turned into an unexpected two-week sleepover. The basement floor had become a game of slumbering Tetris, the laundry room an industrial operation cheerily handled by more hands than Tori had ever housed previously, the oven a constant source of handcrafted stews and homemade breads.

    Without warning the assailant still seated in the Honda recalled where he had encountered the music before: It was the extended theme to a show his father had watched religiously, Law & Order.

    The sirens he heard soon after were not from the soundtrack, however, but by then the dancing mob had disappeared, leaving two duct-taped monsters, a memory stick containing Mr. Backseat’s unknowingly recorded blatherings, and a story the police would never believe.

     

    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.

    FP448 – The Murder Plague: Turnabout, Part 2 of 2

    FP448

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and forty-eight.

    Flash PulpTonight we present The Murder Plague: Turnabout, Part 2 of 2

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    (Part 1Part 2)
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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 return to Capital City where Harm Carter, father and former military man, has been contending with the homicidal paranoia inducing illness that is The Murder Plague.

     

    The Murder Plague: Turnabout, Part 2 of 2

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

     

    I awoke to a conversation that went something like:

    “Told you it was worth waiting.”

    “Easy for you to say, I was the one leaking fluids while lying across the road in the middle of a war zone.”

    “He came didn’t he?”

    The chatter wasn’t what struck me first, however. Of note was: 1) I was in a moving vehicle. 2) There were street lights rolling past the windows.

    It’d been weeks since I’d seen electric illumination beyond the glare of my flashlight and the occasional glow giving away some poor fool’s hiding spot. That sort of luxury was simply one of those things that had slipped away with the rest of the civilized world.

    My hands had been zip-tied together, as had my feet, and I appeared to be laying on a bench seat in the back of a Prowler car – you know, the silent little electric-buggies that Rambo used in First Blood Part 10 to sneak into the Jihadi base.

    If the female voice complaining about leakage was Jennifer Galt – Ms. Atlas – then, I assumed, the smart-mouthed guy behind the wheel must have been the fellow the press referred to as “Head.”

    Noticing that I was shifting around in search of a comfortable position, he asked, “Are you lucid enough for questions? Because I’ve been wondering: Can you really call it a “war zone”? I mean, sure, there are a lot of the elements – gunplay, occasional explosions, loose body parts floating around – but it’s really all one-on-one. Don’t you need two or more semi-organized forces to really call it a war? Isn’t it really more the case that the East Coast is one massive crime scene?”

    And that’s when I realized, strangely, that I hadn’t considered killing either of them since opening my eyes. I really was lucid.

    “I’m cured?” I said, and even before they answered “Yes.” I began to cry.

    It soon became obvious I was on the far side of the military barricade across the Lethe River, somewhere within the infamous Buffer Zone where anyone not wearing a uniform was likely to be shot on sight. We stopped at a makeshift command tent that had been set up on the lawn of an evacuated suburban McMansion. It looked to have been built from the same cookie cutter mold that created the neighbourhood I’d been hiding in: White siding and faux-brick exterior, two car garage, grass that hadn’t seen watering since the apocalypse had begun.

    FP448Long story short, they’d been looking for me since the incident with the armoured personnel carrier, some weeks previous. I’d been on the cusp of infection at that point and hadn’t thought much of the military since. Apparently they’d been thinking of me, however, as Atlas – Jennifer – explained.

    “Right now there’s only a few dozen doses of the cure, so we need to use them strategically. The problem of course, was how? Who is higher priority than who? But once the word got back that someone had spotted Harm Carter, gore soaked hero of the zombie war – likely the third most important figure in solving that whole shambling mess – command got excited; and who better to go fetch him than an old pal from his tin can days?”

    I slept then, because I knew I’d need it, and because you’re never really resting when you suspect every shadow of containing a rabid knifeman.

    It was clear by the gentle tones of the medical staff, the gurney they lowered me onto, and the way they left me mostly alone in a tent full of high-powered drugs, that they thought I was going to be an invalid for a few days. You can always tell when such undertakings are considered serious business when the practitioners strip you of your pants.

    I’ll admit to doing very little to dissuade them of that notion, though I worked hard to keep my blankets pulled up and my hospital-style robe closed.

    The next morning Atlas, Head, and the two Brits newscasters call The Lovesick Twins came through with a gruff old man whose name I didn’t recognize but whose rank was apparent despite his lack of insignia.

    They wanted to know everything I could teach about the nature of the plague; how I’d survived, the sort of resistance I’d met, and any hints I might have as to how not to be shot, stabbed, or blown-up while attempting to distribute the vaccine.

    Though cured of Hitchcock’s, I’ll admit a few of the reflexes lingered. During story time, which lasted most of the daylight hours, I managed to glean that I was not only cured, but was also now immune. I learned that the whole world hadn’t fallen – outbreaks were being fought abroad and on our own soil, but that the need for bodily fluid exchange had slowed the march enough to set up holding lines.

    My deposition remains classified, but, if I’m honest, it was essentially everything I’ve told you up till now anyhow.

    They recorded my explanation, asked questions here and there to clarify, then left my poor broken self to recoup.

    “Need anything?” Jennifer had asked as they departed, and that’s when I put in a request for pants.

    It’s funny, up until that point I hadn’t really known if I was going to carry out my plan or not. Was I being foolish? Had the disease cast some shadow across my brain they had not considered in their medical diagnosis?

    No. I was just a fellow who’d been left in a particularly valuable tent, a man who had things to accomplish, a man who had just been gifted a pair of ill-fitting slacks.

    When I was finally alone with the hushed beeping of my equipment, I stood. There was enough slack in the cords running to the various monitors that I could maneuver a bit about the room, and I was left to prod through the carrying case they’d left so carelessly on the folding table where the doctors also wrote up my reports.

    I wasn’t greedy: There were eight vials within, each labelled as one dose. I only took two, a handful of syringes, and a black plastic garbage bag in which I could wrap the whole package. I taped it all to my chest with surgical tape, then I took a peek through the flaps.

    Spotlights roamed the streets beyond the perimeter. The rattle of dinner plates and hungry conversation drifted from another temporary structure a few lawns down.

    That’s when I flipped off the switches, pulled away the sensors, and crept out to the silent prowler, parked not far from where I’d lain.

    My daughter was out there. Becky was of no strategic value to anyone, Becky had no history or connections to swoop in. Who would save her if not one of the gore soaked heroes of the zombie war?

     

    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.

    FP447 – The Murder Plague: Turnabout, Part 1 of 2

    The Murder Plague

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and forty-seven.

    Flash PulpTonight we present The Murder Plague: Turnabout, Part 1 of 2

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    Download MP3

    (RSS / iTunes)

     

    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 return to Capital City where Harm Carter, father and former military man, has been contending with the homicidal paranoia inducing illness that is The Murder Plague.

     

    The Murder Plague: Turnabout, Part 1 of 2

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

     

    Here’s the thing about Hitchcock’s. Even as an incredibly sick, sometimes feverish, death-dispensing maniac, you are absolutely convinced that you are the only person on this planet-sized carousel who truly has their situation under control.

    You’re hiding in an attic, and you’ve got scraps of paper pinned up on every surface. You spend your days with a flashlight – red filtered, as looted from the home of the dead or fled survivalist down the road – scanning the sheets of paper you’ve pinned to the insulation and roof beams. You’re using the red filter because it’s less noticeable than a white glow, despite the fact that it’s broad daylight outside and there are no windows in your attic.

    You trace and retrace the colour-coded dots and scratches you’ve drawn, with pencils stolen from an abandoned school bag, and though the mess of lines and circles has begun to blur and smudge, though the heat has you sweating like a drug mule getting ready for an intercontinental flight, though you keep chuckling to no one but yourself, you feel like the king.

    No one, you convince yourself, will ever break the code you’ve used to map out your routes, caches, and traps. No one, surely, could ever come up with such a clever system without leaving a hint or trail. No one is as smart, as careful, as PREPARED, as you are.

    At night the only thing you hold closer than the section of map you’ll need for that evening’s expedition is the handgun you plan on using to defend your secrets.

    Jokes on you, of course, because the neighbourhood you consider your kingdom is infested with plenty of other fools who also think they’re royalty.

    The Murder PlagueSometimes the attacks are straight forward, and your survival, if you could admit it to yourself, is just luck. A gunshot rings out and you tell yourself you’ve escaped unharmed because you’re too fast to hit. A large woman with a machete and silent feet does her best Queen of Hearts imitation, and you tell yourself you’ve avoided the grave by knowing to bring a gun to a knife fight. Invaders break into your sanctuary while you are away, and you convince yourself that you’ve defeated the ambush they set by having left semi-hidden rat-poisoned food about the lower floors – and never mind that they might have waited till safely home to snack.

    At some point, just before another dateless dawn, you’re almost done scratching Xs across the hand drawn chart of places you’ve cleared out for supplies, and, as you’re tugging at a garage door in search of gasoline or sharp-edged tools, you nearly get taken out by a log trap. A dozen trees, which you’ll later realized were stripped from a local schoolyard before being piled high in the quiet darkness, come rolling at you, and you damn near have your knees snapped backwards and your rib cage trampled by tumbling pines before you can leap left. Lobbing a Molotov onto the roof you wait till the attempted murderer stumbles from his haven and you end the wannabe Boy Scout with your pistol. You don’t think twice about having slain a frumpy man in a Star Wars t-shirt and thick-rimmed glasses. You don’t think twice about the pencil smudges on his fingers. You don’t think twice about the red-filtered flashlight he happens to be carrying.

    You simply collect what you can use, shrug at the death of another challenger to the crown, and move on.

    I – I simply collect what I can use. I simply shrug at the death of another challenger to the crown. I move on.

    In the end the hardest aspect of the Murder Plague is not dealing with the corpses, traps, and scenes of violence, it’s in knowing that it was not some other carrying out these actions. I was not some passive observer staring at my hands as they locked around a stranger’s neck. It’s your fingers, your palms, your squeezing and struggling against the final jerks and snorts and twitches – but you have no control.

    Maybe a week and a half after nearly being rolled flat like the Pillsbury Doughboy cornered by the Swedish Chef, I was creeping along one of the zig-zag paths I used to return to my shelter when I caught sight of something unusual: A dog barking.

    Oh, my paranoia about the feral packs roaming the neighbourhood was already long standing – Were they being trained and controlled by someone else? Would they rush me for my supplies? Could the plague itself affect them? – but generally we’d had an understanding familiar to elevator passengers in a more civilized time: I pretended they didn’t exist, and they pretended I didn’t either.

    The thing was, this mutt, a little Yorkshire Terrier that could have used a bath and a seven course meal, was yapping and yapping and yapping at the red door across the street. Now, it was a very quiet time. The sound of gunfire was increasingly distant, probably due to a decreasing population of people to shoot at, and the car engines were rare. There were no songs wafting through the air from a distant block, there were no trash talkers playing basketball on some other street, there were no couples arguing about dinner, the kids, or the bills. Any noise could get you killed, so every noise was suspect.

    Yet here was this pooch yammering his heart out.

    Given how many real humans I ended in my haze, it’s still strange that I’m struck by shame when I admit that I almost killed him. I was worried about his drawing attention, and my infected mind was so survival focused that it was already formulating the argument that I could use the extra meat.

    Never mind that I had six months worth of cans already stacked in the attic, and another couple years’ worth scattered in holes at all corners of my hand-sketched map.

    I stepped forward and reached into my right pocket for my tanto-bladed pocket knife. I raised my boot with the intention of pinning the fur ball down beneath the thick sole while I conducted my butchery.

    The red door flew open and a bloody one-person SWAT team burst through the opening. The dog sprinted away under the gate to my right and my pistol was in my grip before I even had both feet back on the ground. This wasn’t just some slovenly gun fetishist buying equipment online before the collapse, however: I knew this armour. This wasn’t some hillbilly in a gas mask, this was someone who’d been bestowed the tinted bubble helmet and face mask the military had developed to deal with improvised explosives and ravenous undead.

    I got one shot off, which landed with a flat thwack and little other effect, but the mountain of black tactical gear had breached the exit with a taser at the ready. They offered a shocking response.

    My fire had nudged their aim, at least, and the electrodes landed askew on my looted rambler jacket. The first jolt hit just as I was peeling the thing off, and fight lost the battle to flight: I was halfway to the corner before my assailant had even tossed down their weapon.

    What followed was something like a magic trick.

    In my boot wearing days I was not entirely unfamiliar with such gear. More than once I’d had to wade through unpleasant business in a similar too-hot, too-heavy, and too-constricting style of getup. Even with the extra years under my belt I should’ve easily been able to outrace that younger version of myself.

    I was aiming for the little blue house at the end of the street. I knew if I could make it that far – theoretically easy-peasy, given the clunky nature of my pursuer – that I’d probably be okay.

    Putting a curb-parked soccer mom minivan between myself and the newcomer, just in the off chance that they should decide on a more lethal means of dealing with the situation, I turned my head to see how big a lead I’d widened up. I had maybe a hundred feet of pavement and fifteen feet of dying lawn to cover till I was safely away, and that’s when the miracle happened.

    My pursuer dropped one foot at normal speed, then the second at twice that, and was suddenly up to a Corvette’s sprint. Somehow I doubled my own pace, but it damn near wasn’t enough.

    As I cleared my objective’s white picket barricade my stalker scaled the hood of the van and left a trail of divots along the roof, and as I gulped a final breath of air and turned the door handle, my hunter went directly through the fence.

    I slammed the entrance behind me and hustled to the sliding patio exit at the home’s rear.

    It’s likely that not knowing what was beyond the closed entrance, while chasing a homicidally infected maniac through a largely abandoned neighbourhood, was enough to give the incredibly nimble hulk a second of pause, and that’s the only reason I had time to get clear and draw my lighter.

    I’d been carrying that damned sparkler for weeks – just the usual sort of kids’ cake topper – but my fingers were so slick with sweat I damn near dropped the zippo.

    Then it was lit, and I could hear the door on the far side of the building being kicked open, and I tossed my tiny pyrotechnic display.

    The gas oven, unlit but otherwise fully engaged, had done its work well, and the resulting explosion was enough to finish my climb over the back fence.

    When I returned to a vague sort of sensibility I stood. If there was anything left of my foe it would be worth scavenging: Especially if I could manage to get the blood off of that armour.

    I was too clever to rush in, however. I hunkered down, listening and waiting. What if the intruder had survived somehow? What if the explosion and subsequent fire attracted an inquisitive local? If the riot squad really was dead then whatever kit they’d been carrying wasn’t going anywhere, and it was rare that such tempting bait presented itself to help flush out my neighbours.

    As dusk hit, and the house’s embers guttered in its former basements’ rec room, I crept onto the street. There seemed to be nothing but me, the crickets, and the distant barking of a triumphant mutt who’d either found an un-spilled garbage can or the fresh remains of some unfortunate Capital City citizen.

    Of course, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, one of the problems with paranoia is that it’s never the things you could possible have calculated for that will get you. A man can spend his life in a Faraday cage to prevent death by cellphone radiation, but it’ll inevitably be the spouse whose sick of his lifestyle who buries him with a butcher blade in his back.

    I mean, when I approached “the body” it was still sprawled out on the road pavement, where it had apparently landed on its back. It’s left leg was missing – well, missing isn’t the proper word perhaps, as a kevlar-wrapped chunk had clearly landed across the picket fence. I suspect the door must have sheared it off and tossed it in a different direction than the rest of the meat.

    All that to say: The limb was thoroughly unattached, which is why, I’m sure you can see, I assumed that my victim, who had apparently been lying unmoving for at least two hours, was dead.

    She let me get as far as the helmet, and then her eyes popped open.

    I said “Jennifer?” and that’s when Ms. Atlas, current member of TV’s The Irregular Division and former comrade-at-arms, hit me.

     

    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.

    FC127 – Meaty Feel Good Bits

    FC127 - Meaty Feel Good Bits

    FC127 - Meaty Feel Good Bits

    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/iTunes/RSS)

    Hello, and welcome to FlashCast #127.

    Prepare yourself for: Fancy boats, fangirls for fangirls, monkey head transplants, new Nancy Drew, and Mulligan Smith

    * * *

    Huge thanks to:

    * * *

    Pulp-ular Press:

    * * *

    Skinner Co. Announcements:

    * * *

    Mailbag:

    • Send your comments and questions to comments@flashpulp.com!
    • Thank you for our sacrifices to The Box, Rich the TT!

    * * *

    Audio-dacity of Hope:

  • Download Reverse Crash
  • * * *

    Backroom Plots:

  • Muddy York
  • * * *

    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.

    FC126 – Removing Kenny Rogers

    FC126 - Removing Kenny Rogers

    FC126 - Removing Kenny Rogers

    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/iTunes/RSS)

    Hello, and welcome to FlashCast #126.

    Prepare yourself for: Luke Skywalker’s bisexuality, Fanta, half-million dollar palm readers, dreaming of spring in 2023, and Muddy York

    * * *

    Huge thanks to:

    * * *

    Pulp-ular Press:

    * * *

    Skinner Co. Announcements:

    * * *

    Mailbag:

    • Send your comments and questions to comments@flashpulp.com!
    • Thank you for our sacrifices to The Box, Rich the TT!
    • Thanks, as well, To Hugh for the soda

    * * *

    Backroom Plots:

  • Muddy York
  • * * *

    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.

    FC125 – BETTER IF USED BY

    FC125 - BETTER IF USED BY

    FC125 - BETTER IF USED BY

    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/iTunes/RSS)

    Hello, and welcome to FlashCast #125.

    Prepare yourself for: Cheap romance, more hidden Harper Lee, iCops, Kraken Storm, and Muddy York

    * * *

    Huge thanks to:

    * * *

    Pulp-ular Press:

    * * *

    * * *

      Mailbag:

    • Send your comments and questions to comments@flashpulp.com!
    • Thank you for our sacrifices to The Box, Rich the TT!
    • Thanks, as well, To Doc Blue for wrangling the Kraken Storm taste test!

    * * *

    Backroom Plots:

  • FP446 – Hell
  • * * *

    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.

    FC124 – Grumblr

    FC124 - Grumblr

    FC124 - Grumblr

    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/iTunes/RSS)

    Hello, and welcome to FlashCast #124.

    Prepare yourself for: Rumblr, Grumblr, long distance rage, The Monkees, Pop-Tarts, the wiki, and Davy Jones’ Frankenstein.

    * * *

    Huge thanks to:

    • Jax (Twitter) for his Something Wiki’d This Way Comes!

    * * *

    Pulp-ular Press:

    * * *

    * * *

      Mailbag:

    • Send your comments and questions to comments@flashpulp.com!
    • Thank you for our sacrifices to The Box, Rich the TT!

    * * *

    Backroom Plots:

  • Biggest Fan AKA Davy Jones’ Frankenstein
  • My Brother’s Keeper on The Melting Potcast
  • * * *

    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.