Will Coffin

now browsing by category

 

FP415 – Coffin: Moving, Part 3 of 3

Coffin: A Occult Serial Fiction Podcast

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and fifteen.

Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Moving, Part 3 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download MP3

(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Earth Station One 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, Will Coffin, urban shaman, and Bunny, his increasingly sober apprentice, eat pancakes and aid a man haunted by his past.

 

Coffin: Moving, Part 3 of 3

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

 

The Denny’s stood at the low tide between breakfasting retirees and office workers on a panickedly short lunch break. Only three other booths were occupied, beyond the trio of customers clustered in the corner, and one of those appeared to be the store’s manager entertaining himself with online trivia instead of instructing the waiter in heavy eyeliner to clear the last of the Grand Slamwich wreckage.

Bunny gave the kid a nod, and the kid nodded back.

“Napkins?” he asked.

“Nah, I’ll take some of the s##t water you folks call coffee, and maybe a two buck pancake stack?”

“We’re only supposed to sell the cheap plates as a side.”

Bunny raised a her brow and shrugged. Coffin waved off the topping-up of his mug, and their interviewee, one Douglas Holloway, continued to gently weep into the collar of his polo shirt.

When they were once again alone, the crying man worked at clearing his throat, then asked, “how did you find me?”

“How badly do you want to be free of -” began Coffin, but Bunny overrode the statement.

“His ex put us in touch with yours,” she said to Holloway, “but don’t worry about that. We’ll get to the haggling and details, just give us the rundown on your wife and girlfriend.”

To Bunny there was something familiar in Holloway’s stunned yet exhausted face that left her with the impression that he’d simply been waiting for this particular dam to break.

“Arlene died five years ago,” replied the widower. “It was eighteen months after we were married, and we were infatuated with each other till the end. We’d known she had a fight in front of her when we went down the aisle – her chemo meant all of her wedding photos were hairless – but she was the sort of person who was strong enough not to wear a wig.

“We were the classic goofballs-in-love couple, content just to be close to each other; to hold each other. She seemed magical, and I always assumed somehow that that would win us the war.

Coffin: A Occult Serial Fiction Podcast “It didn’t.

“She died at home. I did my damndest to make it as comfortable and peaceful as possible, but by the end there was a miniature hospital set up in our living room. It was like a pocket universe in there, an eternity of listening to her ragged breathing over constant Law & Order reruns. I still change the channel as soon as I hear that damned theme. When she let go I was at the bed’s edge, holding her hand, and she was surrounded by her sisters. I thought it was the hardest moment I’d ever have to survive through, but that I’d done the right thing.

“My first notion was to move away from the memories, but two years later I was in the same bungalow, alone with our mortgage and our corgi, Sycamore. Every time I stepped onto the living room carpet I could feel the anxiety of those last days creep in, but I hadn’t finished paying the bills for high powered narcotics and medical staff.

“Even if I couldn’t escape, things changed around me. I spent a lot of hours at the kitchen table with work I’d taken home, just to avoid the rest of the house. If I wasn’t working, Sycamore and I patrolled the block. Despite my evasions, or more likely because of it, I got promoted. I made new acquaintances around the neighbourhood.

“The second January after Arlene’s death I met Selena. I wasn’t looking to. I’d spent so long focused on the next set of reports, and the next patch of sidewalk ahead of me, I hadn’t realized how far I’d gone with my head down.

“I was re-tying a shoelace outside the local Starbucks when she exited with a white chocolate mocha. One of the tallest ladies I’d ever seen, and with a smile as friendly as a children’s television show host.

“She said ‘excuse me,’ because she walked near me while I was hogging the sidewalk and she’s the sort of person who’d rather be polite than annoyed.

“As she’s adjusting course though, she reaches into her pocket and retrieves a dog treat shaped like a bone. Sycamore sits, which is a trick that I’d forgotten Arlene had taught him, and she tosses him the mini-femur.

“That dog was all the family I’d had for two years, and I loved it like a child, but for whatever reason it’d never struck me to carry treats with me. It sounds kind of stupid, but it was just different than anything I’d known until then. Somehow that brought my chin up.”

The tale paused as the narrator was distracted by his audience straightening in their seats. Before he could turn to identify what had roused them, however, the waiter strolled by at a near trot, a plate tucked tight to his side, out of sight of his trivia master manager.

With a twist of his wrist the low mountain of pancakes slid across the largely empty table, stopping just short of Bunny’s coffee.

There was no opportunity for a thank you before he was beyond hearing range.

“Don’t stop now, Dougie,” said Bunny, while twirling her syrupy fork encouragingly, “we haven’t even gotten to the spooky s##t.”

“We dated for six months,” answered Holloway. “A lot of movie theaters, diner dinners, and dog parks with Sycamore. When we started spending the night together it was always at her apartment. Eventually I moved the dog dishes and I almost sort of forgot that I had another home.

“Then I got a funny letter: I’d accidentally paid off my mortgage while I wasn’t paying attention.

“Now, it’s not like I’d ever forgotten Arlene, but I’d had some time away. Selena loves renovation shows, and we kind of jointly arrived at the idea that we should do some repair work before putting the shack on the market and maybe looking for a fresh place together. Thing is, the more effort we sunk into projects, the more it began to feel like a new house – our house.

“One night we were both exhausted from a day of basement drywalling, and we decided to just sleep in my, uh, our, uh, the old bed – the bed that was there – instead of heading back to Selena’s.

“I woke around three in the morning thinking I heard someone talking in the dark. I pulled on pants and went down the hall to the living room, and for a second I thought I saw Arlene’s face.

“Now, I should be clear, it wasn’t a huge ‘Arlene, is that you!?’ moment, it was more like thinking you see a person standing in a corner, then realizing it’s actually that robe you draped over a chair with the shadow of a lamp behind it that looks like a head.

“The only thing out of place was that Sycamore was sitting perfectly upright in the middle of the carpet, but I was so tired I assumed that I’d heard him growling at dreams and went back to bed.

“With the seal off, so to speak, we spent more and more nights there. We were already investing the majority of our evenings tag teaming plumbing, or hoisting hammers, so why leave?

“When we first, uh, made love in the old house, I later awoke thinking I heard Selena crying. I actually prodded her until she responded with a clearly still sleeping “no.”

“It happened again the next night, then everything went smoothly for about a week.”

“The calm before the s##t storm,” said Bunny, through a mouthful of fluffy batter.

“Yeah, then the screaming started. I couldn’t see where it was coming from, it just chased me from the sheets, then around the house. I kind of stopped when I was rampaging along the hallway for a second loop, because – well, it’s incredibly terrifying, but after a bit you lose steam when you can’t see the source of your panic.

“Selena, wearing only my stained work t-shirt, comes running, and suddenly she’s slapped across the face, hard. It kept going, like someone clapping to count time, and then gained momentum into a hail storm.

“I’d never seen her cry before.

“I followed her through the door, but she was in her car and on the street before I could catch up. Her place was close enough to walk, but it was cold, so I decided to risk going back inside to pull something on. Besides, I needed to get Sycamore.

“Everything was silent when I re-entered. I whistled for the dog, but he didn’t come. I found him in the living room again, sitting at attention.

“The call came before I was done packing. Everything had changed for me in the moment I’d seen Selena with that dog treat, and everything had changed for her in the moment she’d been chased from the house by an invisible hurricane. She was clearly having difficulty making sense of what had happened, but it seemed to her that it was my fault.

“While I was sitting there at the edge of the bed, crying, I heard laughter. I knew that giggle. Without even realizing I’d fully accepted all of the implications, I started a screaming match with a ghost.

“‘How could you do this?’

“‘How could you? I’m dead!’ she shrieks back.

“‘You had it easy, I was the one who had to keep living” – and on and on.

“At some point the door slammed shut, and I somehow fury’d myself to sleep.

“The alarm clock woke me for work, and I went in on automatic. Tried texting Selena, but she ignored it. I ignored the ignoring by staring at reports. I went home.

“While I was watching Sycamore sniff around the backyard I heard Arlene say, ‘I’m sorry.’

“That was – I dunno, three months ago? Since then it’s just been crying, every night. Sometimes it’s me, sometimes it’s her. I’d like to try and reach out to Selena again. I miss her – but at the same time, the woman I loved, whatever is left of her, is somewhere in that house. I swear, some nights the bed shifts with her weight.

“I want to move on. I want her to move on. I just feel so guilty.”

Washing away the pancake crumbs with a deep pull of coffee, Bunny said, “in a situation like this, it’s really nobody’s fault. You can’t blame Selena for running off after getting in a one-sided slap fight with Sue Richards, and you can’t blame Arlene for being pissed she’s been trapped in your empty living room until you started f##king another lady in her bed – but you also can’t blame yourself. You didn’t know she was lingering around until she was furious enough to get all Amityville about s##t.

“We think your ex-wife needs to date and we know just the fellow. He’s also into Law & Order and cuddling. He currently has a thing for a lady named Laila, but all you sentimental motherf##kers have the same problem: You need to learn to move on.

“Actually, Laila’ll probably be looking for a new place soon, you should meet her. You might make a nice couple.”

In unveiling her solution, Bunny did not delve into the complicated game of telephone that was communication between the dead. Adding to Dougie’s sense of guilt would not get him any closer to moving, which was clearly the opening step.

In the end, Holloway agreed acting as dating coach to his dead wife was worth at least a nicely pawnable ratchet set, and Coffin had to nod in agreement.

Matchmaking was not his usual sort of work, but rent was due.

 

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.

FP414 – Coffin: Moving, Part 2 of 3

FP414 - Coffin: Moving, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and fourteen.

Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Moving, Part 2 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download MP3

(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Earth Station One 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, Will Coffin, urban shaman, has a brief conversation with the remnants of the woman he married.

 

Coffin: Moving, Part 2 of 3

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

 

It was chill as Coffin stepped onto his balcony, and the leaf husks of the philodendron that Bunny had attempted to grow, a month earlier, rattled in the wind.

Had he been neglectful in not making more appearances? No, he told himself, he’d simply been busy – but, then, Sandy had also been busy once.

His dead wife, on the pavement eighteen floors below, grunted.

Rolling his shoulders, Will asked, “how’s the afterlife?”

There was a long pause before Sandy’s shattered jaw murmured, “you always were terrible at small talk,” into the unyielding cement.

“Must be going well if you’re not even trying to murder me,” he replied.

Silence, then, “you’re not worth the effort,”

“Huh,” said Will, but he couldn’t help but crack a smile. There were many reasons to fear Sandy’s apparition, but her skill at delivering the cold shoulder was not one of them.

Coffin leaned over the railing. She could have heard him whisper, even at that height, and the slab walls and platform of the balcony echoed with her every crush-lunged breath. Nonetheless, he squinted through the bitter wind to make out her twisted form.

He counted a dozen skipping inhalations, and a dozen moist and whistling exhalations, before she gave up her hush.

“Any news?”

At another time he probably would have just invented something. The matters he conveyed were trivial at best: He could easily fake calls on the two birthdays he’d missed and stitch those falsehoods with the same old arguments Sandy’s family were constantly re-chewing – but he didn’t.

Things were changing. She’d always been so sure when she’d worn the jacket and held the chain, and he envied it.

He knew, however, that her certainty had also been her downfall.

FP414 - Coffin: Moving, Part 2 of 3“I’ve been too busy to call around. I’m sorry,” he said. It was a vague sort of statement, and intentionally so.

With the dragging effort of a winded marathoner, Sandy’s left arm, the bones at her wrist projecting through her torn skin, rose, and her palm set its heel firmly on the pavement. She began to drag her motionless legs towards the apartment block’s foundation.

“Too occupied with your new sidekick?” she asked.

“The ogre’s amok out west, the city seems to be overrun with Kar’Wickians, and someone’s dispatching ghosts without my assistance.”

“Which one am I supposed to be able to help with?” she asked, as the fingernails of her right hand came loose on a particularly jagged ridge of mason work. Yet still she climbed.

“None,” he answered, and, as she scaled the second through fifth floor, he recapped his encounter with Laila Hamilton.

When he’d completed his recitation, she asked, “didn’t you say there were Kar’Wickians in the city?”

“Yeah.”

“Didn’t you say the ogre was up and the dead were going missing?”

“Yeah.”

“Why are you working this thing then?”

It was his turn to fall quiet.

At the twelfth floor he changed the subject.

“You understand what I need then?”

“Yeah,” replied Sandy, not stopping in her attempt to scale the building and murder her former husband.

“Sandy, I’m sorry,” he said.

“So you’ve said,” she replied.

“It was for your own good,” he said.

“So you’ve said,” she repeated.

With a gap where her front teeth should have been, she bit her lip, then continued. “Don’t get weak kneed now, you put that jacket on yourself. If you were going to start second guessing I would’ve appreciated if it happened before I landed.

“Will, if you can’t handle this business pass it on and join me at the bottom.”

There was a pause then, and suddenly her ascent stopped. Her decades-old plunge played itself back at triple speed, and she once again returned to her place of rest.

“Go buy some belated birthday cards and I’ll ask around,” she concluded.

He turned, eagerly pawing at the sliding screen with chilled fingers.

 

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.

FP413 – Coffin: Moving, Part 1 of 3

Coffin: A fantasy fiction Flash Pulp podcast from Skinner Co.

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and thirteen.

Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Moving, Part 1 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download MP3

(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Earth Station One 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, Will Coffin, urban shaman, and Bunny, his vodka-dependent apprentice, encounter the strange tale of Laila Hamilton, wife and secret nuzzler.

 

Coffin: Moving, Part 1 of 3

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

 

Laila Hamilton was maybe thirty. Black hair clipped down to a stout Afro, but otherwise left to its own means. She was nearly in tears, but she kept her chin tight and the tension mostly in her hands.

It wasn’t the sort of job Will Coffin would normally take on, but rent was due even if the mystical seams of the city seemed to be coming undone around him.

Bunny, his currently sober roommate and apprentice, had also insisted.

“I’d hate-ta ####in’ see you have to offer up the tight jeans treatment to the guy at the front office,” she’d explained while offering no financial support of her own.

The bored looking kid in too-much eyeliner poured their coffees and pulled a notepad from his Denny’s apron.

“Can I get you something to eat?” he asked.

“More ####ing napkins,” answered Bunny, her eyes on the wrung and torn serviette the client was working over with both clenched hands.

Snapping his pad shut in a way that conveyed as much obscenity as anything that drifted out of Bunny’s mouth, the waiter departed.

“What do you want to know? Can’t you just go over and fix it?” the woman asked the shredded tissue before her.

“There’s a process,” said Coffin. “For example, what exactly do you plan on using to pay for -”

Bunny cleared her throat, blotting out the statement, and replaced it with, “start barfing from the beginning and tell us everything that happened.”

Nodding, Laila took a breath, held it, exhaled. “I like to watch old Law and Order episodes as I’m falling asleep. They’re constantly running on one of the deep cable channels, and there’s something homey to them. I know they were old even then, but my Dad always had them on when I was a kid dozing on the couch.

Coffin: A fantasy fiction Flash Pulp podcast from Skinner Co.“Anyhow, my husband, Orlando, he’s not such a fan. He’s not much of a fan of anything these days, really. I keep it way down, and I set a timer so the TV isn’t blathering uselessly into the dark, but Orlando still moved the set over to my side of the bed so I could turn it down a couple more notches.

“It’s a queen-sized mattress, but he only uses the lip of the distant edge.

“If I thought he’d bother coming closer if I kept the thing off I’d go to bed in silence, but he was sleeping way over there well before I started allowing myself a little murder in the evenings.”

Will was surprised to see the server return with a stack of fresh napkins, and the trio paused as he laid them on the table.

He did not hover, he simply laid the stack at Laila’s fingertips and said, “let me know if you need me.”

To Coffin’s eye it appeared this small act of kindness pushed Laila as much towards tears as anything she’d related so far in her story.

The tale continued.

“There have been a few nights in the last couple years when Orlando drifts across the bed. I get my hopes up that it’s the sparking of something new, but usually he’s just looking for a bit of pokin’ and proddin’, then he’s back to snoring on the opposite end of the continent.

“Maybe a month ago, the Law is done and the Order has arrived. They’re trying to figure how they can bust a murderous grandmother despite having their best evidence thrown out, and I’m fighting to stay awake for the conclusion. You know how it is: You’re so tired you don’t even realize you should simply give in and be unconscious. I’ve got half my face buried in the pillow and I’m spending more time focused on keeping my eyelids cracked than the jury’s reactions to closing arguments.

“I was sort of drifting in and out of it, missing snippets and then catching myself dozing, and I remember thinking it was really nice that Orlando had come to hold me. When we were kids that’s how we curled-up, his arm on my belly and his leg over mine.

“That’s when I realized there was no one there: I could feel the weight on my stomach and thigh over the blanket, but I could hear Orlando wheezing at his usual distance.

“You’re dreaming, I told myself, then I fell asleep.”

There was a pause as a fresh napkin began to suffer.

“It happened again maybe a week and a half later, but – well, I’d been thinking about it a bit, but I couldn’t make up my mind as to if I’d been imagining the whole thing.

“That second time, I kept my eyes closed, but I let my palm drift over the blanket to where I could feel the heft – and there was something there. Not a hand, only a chill spot. I lay like that for maybe a half hour, no longer near sleep but not sure what to do next. Then the weight disappeared, and the cold too.

“It happened again the next night, and the next. If I snuggled into the feeling, it would shift against me, but moving my arm would leave me with nothing more than frosty goosebumps. Every now and then I’d brush up against something though – my guest seemed to get more solid as the visits went on.

“A week later I awoke holding no one, and it was nice.”

“Slow workin’ Casanova of a #### monster?” asked Bunny.

The question was aimed at Coffin, but it was Laila who replied.

“I – I Googled some things before Martin gave me your names. If it’s a sexy demon type it’s not really showing it. I couldn’t find any good cuddle beasts, online, that matched the profile though.

“That’s why I’m here.”

Coffin nodded. It wasn’t the sort of job he’d normally take on, but rent was due.

 

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.

FP401 – Coffin: What’s Eating You?

Coffin

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and one.

Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: What’s Eating You?

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download MP3

(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Melting Potcast

 

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 begin our slow approach towards Halloween with a tale of Capital City tricks and treats.

 

Coffin: What’s Eating You?

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

 

Coffin, urban shaman, and Bunny, his sobering apprentice, sat on the faux-wood plastic bench of a Capital City bus stop.

It was the sort of chill spring afternoon that, to Will, always felt more like fall.

His roommate’s thoughts were moving in a different direction.

“Hey-zeus,” she said, “it’s cold as Kris Kringle’s nuts out here.”

“I dunno,” answered Will, “perhaps it’s last year’s lazy raking job by the city workers, but I’d say it’d make for a solid evening in October.”

Some days were better than others for the recovering alcoholic. Some were worse.

Today was definitely worse.

“Maybe it’s always been this dog-molestingly f#cking miserable outside and I didn’t notice it under the fermented potatoes’ heat,” she replied, her neck craning above her fully-buttoned denim jacket.

Spotting a jaywalking woman wearing several layers of filth-blackened sweaters while pushing a shopping cart brimming with empty cans, Bunny reminded herself that she was supposed to be working on her perspective.

“I guess if it wasn’t for my ass freezing to the seat this’d be some decent Michael Myers weather,” she added.

“Who?” asked Coffin.

“You know, the crazy Halloween f#cker with the knife and the mask.”

“Sorry, you’ll have to be more specific, I’ve known a few Halloween crazies with knives and masks.”

It was a rare thing, in those days, for Coffin to crack a joke – and rarer still for Bunny not to be able to tell if his comment was serious or not.

“Halloween as in the movies, not as in the kiddie candy orgy,” she answered.

“Oh, yeah,” said Will.

The silence returned, and the bus did not arrive.

“Have you read up on the candy man?” the Coffin finally asked his student.

“Like, that crazy b#stard with a hook for a hand that appears if you say his name three times?”

Will turned, his eyebrow raised.

“Huh?” he asked.

“Another movie – but, in that case, the answer is no.”

Shifting to his left and seeing no approaching chariot, Coffin leaned back against the cold plastic, placed his hands in his pockets, and said, “this’d be a few decades back – a simpler era, if you believe the nostalgia. You know, back when the outfit options were mostly Dracula, Mummy, or Ghost.

“Jarvis Beauford was the sort of old man who cared for nothing more than network news broadcasts, and, even then, simply as proof that the world was going to hell just as he kept telling those who’d listen.

“Honestly, I can’t imagine there were many of those left by then.

“He’d spent thirty years working for the city before I ran into him, and his major preoccupation was road kill.

“Raccoon didn’t quite make it across the street while some van-wielding mother of seven was distracted by a screaming baby? Someone poison a stray dog because it wouldn’t stop wandering into their yard with thin ribs and an empty belly? Sixteen wheeler plow through, over, and around a fawn too fresh from the forest to realize it shouldn’t be wandering across the western highway?

“Jarvis was the guy you called.

“Best thing to wash away the stink of the day, he’d claim for the fifteen years he managed to keep his first wife, was a good dose of cheap beer. Hard to say if it was his liquid habits or his amateur taxidermy that finally pushed her away, but I’m guessing it was a little of both.

“The western end of town was still in the middle of collapsing then, and it was mostly a jumble of cheap World War II housing filled with the usual mix of hollow-pocketed young families, bone-broke students, and those so old they talked about the place in terms of ‘back when it was nice.’”

Bunny coughed and said, “so far the most unbelievable part of your story is that that neighbourhood was ever not full of craft beer drinking ###holes and greed-eyed yuppies.”

Coffin leaned forward. “As I was saying, it was Halloween night in an age before grubby-fingered looters weren’t allowed to trick-or-treat after dark.

“Jarvis had his light on, but it was grimy enough that he didn’t notice me standing in the gnarled mess of his rioting bushes when he shoved open the screen door for the kid in an unusually realistic E.T. costume.

“”Trick or treat,” says the kid, as he catches some tossed confections.

“”Little of both, maybe,” replies Jarvis, while grinning like he’s been gifted a tanker full of Milwaukee’s Best.

“Beauford seems reluctant to let the moment end, but the lingering gets weird so finally he starts retreating – then the kid does something that takes us both by surprise: He unzipped his neck and chin to reveal a soft round face and a glowing mop of brown hair.

“”I can’t wait!” says the delinquent, and he digs into his bag with both rubber-gloved hands.

“Jarvis’ face is fighting with itself; he can’t seem to decide if he wants to stop the gluttony or if it’s the greatest thing ever. The grown man giggles, pans his view up and down the sidewalk, giggles again, does nothing.

“I’m maybe ten feet away, but I can clearly hear the smacking of the boy’s teeth as he chews.

Coffin“The candy man’s face drops. He can’t look away, but his giddy glee has become total confusion.

“E.T. turns a little as he ducks down for a second sweet, and I can see the blood running down the front of his costume. I can see the gap where his lip has split to the gum line. I think he knew I was there and it was for my benefit. He even flashed a smile that pulled the slice wide, revealing the pearly whites beneath.

“Then he stands up and in goes the next mouthful.

“Now, you gotta understand that I was new to working alone at that point, and – well, before this recent explosion there was very little occult business to be undertaken beyond the occasional haunting. The season has its rep for a reason, though, even if it hadn’t meant much for two centuries.

“Still, it’s the thinnest the veil gets, as they used to say on In Search Of…, and I’d read up on this wee bugger in a Blackhall tome.

“Kids’d apparently summon the thing back when the world was brimming with mystic juice and people were willing to sacrifice a cat or two for a harvest festival urban legend. A shapeshifting imp – really just a trouble maker raised to play into the sick sense of humour they had when everyone was dropping dead of plague.”

“- and people these days talk sh#t about violent video games,” said Bunny.

Will snorted.

“As it turned out,” he continued, “between the booze and the blood, that was about all old Jarvis could take. Poor bugger went over like a carp landing on deck.

“I had to do something. I mean, it’s one thing to set a minor demon free to roam the streets out of curiosity, but it’s quite another to watch a guy in a dingy white undershirt flop to death on his porch.

“No cell service back then, of course, so there I was, running around his wood paneled living room, knocking over empty Busch cans and tossing aside stacks of TV Guide in search of a phone.

“You could read those walls as easily as the dog-eared copies of Penthouse Letters spread across the living room table. Here was a miserable man, wallowing in his mire.

“How miserable? The kind that frames his divorce papers and hangs them on the wall.

“The kind that has stuffed heads on plaques as the only type of other decoration in the space he most uses.

“There were three long rows of decapitated animals. It looked like he’d placed them side-by-side, in the order he found them, starting at the door. When he’d completed the loop he’d simply nailed the next stapled-together fawn skull a level down and begun again. Raccoons, a variety of breeds of cats and dogs, deer of various sizes: I’m no expert in the field, but there seemed to be very little care for the condition in which he scraped them off the road. Some skin was so rotten you could see the foam padding beneath.

“Then I toured the kitchen. Stacks of dishes, rinsed but left haphazardly on the counter – and a pot, the bottom of which smelled sugary sweet.

“There wasn’t a phone near the table either, where I found the hammer and a shopping list.

“Well, I didn’t know, as Beauford tossed a wad of hand-wrapped candy into the tyke’s pillowcase, that he’d spent hours crafting the soft taffy, nor that he’d been just as careful in inserting the shards of a number of shattered razors into the cooling goo. I didn’t, but the imp must’ve caught on somehow.

“I don’t think it knew what would happen, but at that point I don’t think either of us were sweating Jarvis’ heart attack as I crept away to find a too-late payphone.”

Bunny snorted and said, “perspective is a greasy f#cker like that.”

The bus arrived.

 

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.

FP397 – Coffin: The Hunger for Change

Coffin: A Skinner Co. Fantasy Fiction Podcast

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

Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: The Hunger for Change

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download MP3

(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Earth Station One

 

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 increasingly sober apprentice, discuss the occult danger lurking behind the counter of a wandering ice cream truck.

 

Coffin: The Hunger for Change

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

 

It was a Sunday, and Coffin and Bunny were sitting on a bus stop bench. It was still a little too early in the season to justify frozen treats, but the chiming tune of a persistent ice cream truck portaging between suburbs had summoned their empty stomachs to action.

Bunny had a wagon wheel in one hand and a napkin, to catch the drippings, in the other.

“F##k-bugger, the first of the year is always the best,” she was saying.

Will nodded his agreement, but it was clear to his roommate that his mind was elsewhere.

“Thinking about a cursed sundae from your youth?” she asked.

It was enough to extract a twitch of a smile from Coffin’s lips.

“No,” he replied, “well, not exactly. Notice that I leaned against the truck while waiting for our lunch?”

This time it was Bunny’s turn to nod. “You did appear to be sauntering at an unusually jaunty angle.”

Coffin: A Skinner Co. Fantasy Fiction PodcastCoffin said, “a few years before Sandy died, we fell into this situation down south. Some city-level newspapers had pulled together a string of kiddie murders, but the theories were all over the map.

“Cannibals were a popular editorial choice, with Satanists close behind, but those were mostly just signs of the era.

“The only consistencies seemed to be the apparent fact that the victims were all children, that their remains were found a few miles from where they’d disappeared, and that they were all stripped clean of flesh. Not – not perfectly. Not television-style bleached bone clean, but definitely “I’m done with this chicken leg” clean.”

Pausing to toss his half-eaten waffle cone through the trash hoop, Will moved to the bus schedule, then glanced at his watch.

“We weren’t quite sure what we were looking for,” he continued. “A werewolf? A wendigo? We were young and still had the patience to chase the wind.

“Three weeks in – and with no more to show for our wandering than a backseat full of North Carolina bar receipts – we finally caught a break. Parents don’t like the details of their child’s last moments published, but when a six-ten hulk by the name of Darius suffered the same fate, the press, hungry for something to fill summer headlines, exploded.

“The detail that really caught people was the speed. Darius’s wife noticed him missing just before dinner, and his picked-over carcass was found in a ditch outside Chapel Hill two hours later.

“Takes a lot of hungry, hungry cannibals to eat a guy that big that fast.

“It was no easy thing to raise the dead in those days, but he was fresh, and he’d died quite unpleasantly. We guessed at the route his corpse had taken, and, by walking between his last known location and the dump site, Sandy managed to use the Crook of Ortez to pull him into conversation.

“To be fair, he didn’t make it that far from where he’d disappeared before his finale.

“Anyhow, it was Darius who told us about the ice cream truck hermit.”

The topic had done nothing to slow Bunny’s consumption, and her cookie sandwich was now but a sliver.

“I don’t get it,” she said. “Magic is supposedly receding from the world?”

“It is.”

“- and you’ve said that most of the spooks and mooks haunting today weren’t noticeably around 70 years ago?”

“Also true, most entities were wisps moving outside our vision even just a decade ago.”

“So how the f##k does that explain an ice cream truck?

“There’s no chance some taint-gobbling medieval wizard attempted to summon a converted Ford that clangs out Turkey in the Straw, and no Victorian Hell Club dandy motherf##ker ever thought, ‘s##t son, I need a banana boat FROM SATAN,’ so what the sweet f##k?”

Taking a seat on the short bench and stretching his legs across the pavement, Coffin replied, “you know that saying, ‘the more things change, the more they stay the same?’ It’s basically that.

“Every generation of humanity thinks its so advanced, but everything is just a variation on a theme. Maybe it was once an eel hawker in Victorian England, maybe it was a samosa cart in Uttar Pradesh.

“Darius’s story was probably the same as a thousand others, and none of them were particularly dependant on a time period. He was standing on the corner, it was nearly dinner and he was starving, but he wasn’t especially excited about the offerings in the oven. Along comes this happy tune and a huckster hawking treats.

“Well, hell, Darius has a ten in his pocket, and there are no witnesses around to see him murder his appetite.

“He wasn’t the only one to notice that fact, however.

“The guy in the truck has a really impressive moustache, triple curled and well tended. He’s all smiles, but his patron doesn’t really notice much about him beyond the lip hair.

“The hungry husband slaps down his ten and asks for a milkshake, so the guy behind the little window leans forward like he’s going to return his change – except he keeps leaning. He leans so far forward, in fact, his customer thinks he’s actually going to fall out – but somehow his torso seems to be stretching, his white smock distending with rippling ribs, and his hand closes around Darius’ mouth.

“Then the big man’s snapped up and in like a cod fresh from the sea.

“The mustachioed fella is nothing more than a lure of course – like the orb on an Angler fish – but the hermit is really more like the crab Sandy named it after. The phantom told us it’s like a chameleon skin that’s wrapped itself around the entirety of the truck, both inside and out. A dozen eyes watched him from the surface of the soft serve machine as he landed, and a dozen more likely watched the street for witnesses.

“Even the tiny window ledge shifted forward to consume him, as Darius put it, ‘like a bottom lip.’

“The floor looked like plastic matting, but was spongy and thick. Probably the main meat of the thing. The comfortable landing didn’t last long, though, as countless mouths opened in the leathery flesh, and the tinkling speakers kicked in to help cover the screaming.

“Thing is, while he was scoping the neighbourhood to make sure his wife wasn’t going to hear of his caloric indiscretion, the dead man had put his hand on the truck’s side, all casual like. He’d noticed that it was warm and felt strange – like dog skin, even though it looked like white-painted metal.

“He’d been too busy worrying about getting busted to think more of it than wiping his palm on his shirt and moving on.

“Anyhow, I don’t know if the hermit sniffed out that we were onto him, or maybe Darius was finally just a satisfying enough meal, but the killings seemed to stop after that; well, at least in that area. Sandy – she was getting pretty obsessive by then. She had us spinning our wheels for months.”

“Wait,” said Bunny, “that’s why you leaned? You never f##king found Johnny Monster-in-a-Box?”

“Nope,” answered Will, as he stood to wave down the approaching bus, “but everything changes eventually.”

 

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

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

Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song: A New Man, by Kevin MacLeod of http://incompetech.com/

Freesound.org credits:

  • Ice cream truck2.mp3 by 8767yy
  • 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.

    FP391 – Coffin: Weakness, 6 of 6

    Menu

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

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

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

    Download MP3

    (RSS / iTunes)

     

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

     

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

    Tonight Will Coffin, urban shaman, and Bunny, his roommate and apprentice, find themselves rudely rebutted by a nymph.

     

    Coffin: Weakness, Part 6 of 6

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

     

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

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

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

    The moment of truth did little to better his mood.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ”Watch this though.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “I really am sorry.”

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

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

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

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

    He found himself whistling.

     

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

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

    Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song: A New Man, by Kevin MacLeod of http://incompetech.com/

    Freesound.org credits:

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

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

    FP390 – Coffin: Weakness, 5 of 6

    Coffin-WarPaint-iPad

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and ninety.

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

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

    Download MP3

    (RSS / iTunes)

     

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

     

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

    Tonight Will Coffin, urban shaman, and Bunny, his roommate and apprentice, discuss the unfortunate history of nymphs.

     

    Coffin: Weakness, Part 5 of 6

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Me too, me too,” answered Bunny.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “In the end they all starved to death.

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

    “She started trying to avenge herself.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Basically.”

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

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

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

    Noting her gaze, they began to wail.

    It was time to go.

     

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

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

    Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song: A New Man, by Kevin MacLeod of http://incompetech.com/

    Freesound.org credits:

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

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

    FP389 – Coffin: Weakness, 4 of 6

    Coffin

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

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

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

    Download MP3

    (RSS / iTunes)

     

    This week’s episodes are brought to you by 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 Will Coffin, urban shaman, and Bunny, have an unpleasant discussion with an ancient owl.

     

    Coffin: Weakness, Part 4 of 6

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

     

    “He was not yours to punish,” said Wide Eye, his double set of wing joints ruffling in agitation.

    Bunny, Coffin, and the owl were standing on the chill pavement of a highway rest area while the Phantom Ambulance’s bulk provided little protection from the prying spring wind.

    It’d been a long night, even before receiving the summons from the gray and white avian noble, and Will had no patience for watching the freshly appointed monarch preen and legislate while there were tasks at hand to be accomplished.

    “If not mine, whose?” asked the shaman.

    “Mine,” answered the animal lord.

    Dawn was breaking all around them, but Will could only think that a new day simply meant a new set of problems.

    He grunted, saying, “Blackhall was very clear about the nature of my office. Something Pisky and I had in common was a lack of interest in politics, and I think it helped us get along just fine. Don’t test the pacts and I won’t.”

    “Is it the nature of your office to let one beast go free while removing the sole purpose for another’s existence?” asked Wide Eye, his neck rotating to indicate the ambulance and its arcane driver while never taking his gaze from Will’s. “Your process strikes at me as – slipshod.”

    “My process will strike you, full stop, if you don’t quit wasting breath and get every chatty sea gull and nosey turtle under your command churning the waters for Jenny GreenTeeth.”

    The bird’s disagreement came in slow gusts of wind, but his words held the weight of a being who’d wielded legions of bestial spies and warriors over thousands of years.

    “He was not yours to punish.”

    Bunny, though eager to be home and in her bed, felt a need to add, “it was kinda ####in’ harsh.”

    Will turned to the trees, his fingers playing across the links of the silver chain that allowed his communication with the dead.

    Things had been simpler when he’d been left to talk with his corpses.

    Finally, he cleared his throat.

    “Harsh?” he asked. “Harsh is an immortal rapist who manipulates his victims, using powers literally beyond human comprehension, to convince them they really are interested in spontaneous unprotected sex with a stranger who has suddenly appeared in their bedroom – and nevermind the four bloated cadavers waving their hands in the air like they’re tied to weighted chairs at the bottom of a river.”

    There was a long pause as the trio watched the sun flood the horizon in red and yellow light.

    Coffin“These are indeed dangerous times,” replied Wide Eye. “Our every subject has its attention on the water’s edge. I will find Jenny GreenTeeth, and, when I do, it is likely best that I let the sort who castrates one monster, while begging rides from another, deal with the matter in your own barbaric way.

    “Still, you do not know where the missing spirits of the dead have gone, do you? As a courtesy I have posted watch at your wife’s resting place – just in case, you understand.”

    Even to Bunny’s achingly tired ears the words sounded vaguely of a honeyed threat. The matter of the missing remnants was as close to a raw nerve as Bunny had ever seen Coffin display, and she braced herself for fireworks.

    She could not have anticipated his reaction, however.

    “Before you question my judgement you’d do best to remember who put her there and why,” Will replied.

    The ride back to town was a silent one.

     

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

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

    Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song: A New Man, by Kevin MacLeod of http://incompetech.com/

    Freesound.org credits:

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

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

    FP388 – Coffin: Weakness, Part 3 of 6

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

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

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

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

    Download MP3

    (RSS / iTunes)

     

    This week’s episodes are brought to you by 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 Will Coffin, urban shaman, and Bunny, his recently sober apprentice, find themselves unexpectedly asking questions in a seedy boutique.

     

    Coffin: Weakness, Part 3 of 6

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

     

    “Well,” said Bunny, “you know what they say: ‘third porn shop’s the charm.’”

    The paramedic to her left grunted, but beneath its surgical-mask disguise its spiraling rows of teeth flexed and salivated. His eyes were fixed to a rental ad featuring a woman kneeling before a broad pair of hairy legs.

    Catching his gaze, Bunny winced.

    “It’s not what you think,” she said, “no one actually gets eaten in Flesh Eaters V.”

    Though perhaps it was indeed what had first drawn its attention, the truth was that the driver of The Phantom Ambulance had been caught wondering how it was that it had come an unknowable distance into this horrible dimension of delicious temptation only to find itself acting as chaffeur, between lewd dens that smelled of sweat and meat, for the very entity that denied it a meal.

    On the far side of the counter’s clouded glass, a woman with thick plugs in her earlobes and a look of boredom on her face shrugged at Coffin for a second time.

    “I’m not really supposed to discuss the customers,” she repeated.

    “I understand,” replied Will, “but I’m asking on behalf of the elderly woman who recently woke up to discover him at the foot of her bed. This guy would probably be browsing a lot of sleep fetish material.”

    Dragging her focus across his battered leather jacket, then his companions, the clerk bit her lip.

    Coffin pushed. “He’d be pretty though – too pretty, you’d think, to be lurking in a place like this. No offense.”

    She sighed.

    “Yeah, I know him. Valentine Giovanni. I actually figured it was a fake, and I respect a little flair – most people just stick to John Smith around here – but it’s how he introduces himself when you call his voicemail, and I’ve always just gotten his voicemail. He’s always quick to show though. Kind of, uh, disturbingly quick.

    “He definitely started on the sleep fetish thing but, well, the guys big on variety. I thought I’d seen it all till he started asking us to import foreign films that’d make my pupils bleed. In the end we weren’t even sure how legal they were, so we had to tell him we weren’t going to anymore. He still constantly comes in looking for something new though.”

    Her arm moved across her stomach as she spoke, and the ring-heavy fingers of her right hand wrapped themselves around the nautical scene depicted on her left forearm.

    After a moment’s pause she uncoiled and scrawled a phone number.

    “You didn’t get any of this from me. The owner would be pissed if they knew I was giving out details about such a big spending customer.”

    * * *

    It was Bunny who left the message.

    “Hi, this is, uh, Marilyn, on behalf of Ms. Flores. She’d like to extend a, er, financial opportunity. In exchange for certain, you know, services, that she feels you can provide.”

    Seconds after making his appearance in the 7-Eleven parking lot she’d suggested as their midnight meeting place, however, Valentine Giovanni was on to the fact that something was amiss.

    Perhaps it was the strange man in the surgical mask who wouldn’t stop staring at him from behind the wheel of his parked ambulance, perhaps it was the fact that the Marilyn, waiting at the center of the pool of light, was clad entirely in denim.

    CoffinWhatever the case, he first turned to leave, then, at the approach of running boots, began to fade entirely from existence – a maneuver he usually undertook only under the cover of darkness and in the privacy of an unexpectedly invaded bedroom.

    His crisp blue irises and finely lined cheekbones were nearly translucent when the Crook of Ortez, Coffin’s most constant tool, swung wide and planted its intricate hook deeply into his left eye.

    “Gah!,” he said, jerking forward and becoming again whole.

    “Get in the ####ing ambulance or I’ll poke the other,” suggested Bunny.

    Two blocks later, with the incubus clutching his wound and Will still clutching the attached chain, the story began to come out.”.

    “I needed money,” the night visitor was saying while trying to breathe through his pain, “I – the world has gotten strange in the last two hundred years, and I do not just mean the flux of mystic energies. You must understand that I am driven to see these things, I can not help myself. When the internet arrived, there was so much to see, to order, to hire and, eventually, to pay for.”

    “Uh,” said Bunny, “can a guy like you even get a credit card?”

    Giovanni sighed. “There are ways. There are people who will help those like me procure things not easily had. It is much more dangerous, however, to run up debts with those same sorts of people.”

    “Let’s see,” replied Coffin, “the news anchor wouldn’t want her career ruined by a sex tape, the trophy wife wouldn’t want her marriage interrupted, and I guess being outted as a gay Catholic school principal is a tough gig. How much were you asking for the blackmail?”

    “They – I do enjoy variety, but I was told – made – to record every victim. How much? As much as I owed, plus interest. Too much, I guess, since that scammer Pendleton got wind of the situation.”

    “What did that matter?” asked Bunny.

    “Pendleton had information, or he thought did. About the, uh, people I was working for.”

    She frowned. “So you killed him. Them.”

    “They – the people – did, yes.”

    It was Coffin’s turn to pose a question.

    “Who are they?”

    Even with one eye, Valentine’s gaze made it clear he thought it ridiculous for Will to even inquire.

    Standing, Coffin brought up his left hand, pulling Giovanni along with him. As the daemon grasped at the chain above, Will’s right deftly undid the button on the man’s well cut slacks and dropped them to the floor.

    Suddenly the shaman’s right hand was full of a new instrument Bunny had not yet seen. A bone handled pocket knife, with a blade of silver and a sharp series of serrated edges at its base.

    Placing the cold edge beneath Valentine’s rapidly retreating scrotum, Will repeated himself.

    “Who are they?”

    “The – merda – the damnable spider children, alright? They were the ones who hired Jenny GreenTeeth, they were the ones who hired the cleaners, and they were the ones who made me pay for it.”

    “I used to know a girl in high school we called Jenny GreenTeeth,” muttered Bunny, “she’s probably Jenny NoTeeth now though.”

    With the information out, and the joke made, the apprentice had expected an end to the ugly scene playing out on the bench opposite.

    Instead, Coffin brought up his knife and, with a sure flick of his wrist, removed the only tool the incubus had ever known.

    A meal or a morsel, the paramedic did not discriminate.

     

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

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

    Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song: A New Man, by Kevin MacLeod of http://incompetech.com/

    Freesound.org credits:

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

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

    FP387 – Coffin: Weakness, Part 2 of 6

    Coffin: A Skinner Co. Fantasy Podcast

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

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

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

    Download MP3

    (RSS / iTunes)

     

    This week’s episodes are brought to you by Every Photo Tells…

     

    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 recently sober apprentice, discuss a midnight encounter with a gasket baroness.

     

    Coffin: Weakness, Part 2 of 6

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

     

    The labyrinthine house smelled of potpourri and pine, and the deeper into its architecture that Bunny ventured, the surer she became that the smileless man who’d answered the door was, in fact, undertaking an elaborate prank.

    “We off to see Barnum’s Egress?” she asked, but Will was too distracted to bother faking a chuckle and the doorman didn’t slow in his navigation of the hardwood sea.

    Dining set islands gave way to shorelines of couch, then the couches themselves were crowded by towering library cliffs. Finally, they came to a stop in a land of Persian rugs.

    The gray-haired woman at the room’s center wore her wingback chair like a throne, but her only subjects seemed to be the multitude of oil paintings that covered the walls. No image was larger than six inches wide, and there was no buffer greater than a thumb’s width between them. Thousands of tiny faces stretched in uneven rows to the vaulted ceiling.

    As if playing his entrance in reverse, their guide disappeared backwards through the doorway, leaving his retreating heel taps and the tick of an out-of-sight grandfather clock to fill the void.

    “Ms. Flores?” asked Coffin, but Bunny was already busy inspecting the surroundings.

    “Rosanna, please,” she replied, her slender fingers dropping from a steeple to brush away the nonsense of formality.

    “Okay, Rosanna,” nodded Will. “Our mutual friend, the talking owl, has informed us you have a story to tell?”

    Coffin: A Skinner Co. Fantasy PodcastTheir hostess’ deeply lined face pulled into a soft chuckle, and Bunny couldn’t help but think that there’d likely been a time when droves of men had swooned over her smile.

    “It happened a month ago,” began Rosanna, with a warm but firm tone. “I sleep lightly these days, and steps at the foot of my bed is enough to bring me awake like a rooster’s song.

    “I was expecting it to be Curtis, but, oh, how I was wrong.

    “There was a man – a baby face at forty, or a rugged gent at thirty-five. Either way, I’ve always been a sucker for a strong jaw and needy lips. I told myself I was likely dreaming, but somehow knew I wasn’t.

    “Still, there was a burning between us from the moment I opened my eyes and I had no interest in denying it.

    “I’m eighty-four, but a lifetime of hard work and harder play has left me strong. I’m in no danger of falling and breaking a hip or cracking a rib, and I knew exactly what his eyes had in mind. I’m not ashamed to say I invited him beneath the sheets, nor to divulge that I treated him like a rodeo bull.

    “We were both sweating by the time dawn broke, but it was only because I had an early art gallery opening to attend to that I sent him away.”

    Rosanna paused in her telling, and Will could read by the set of her knees, and the heat in her gaze, that she was briefly lost in memory – then she shrugged.

    Clearing her throat, Ms. Flores finished her tale.

    “He didn’t use the door when he departed. He climbed out my bedroom window, but I doubt he even required that much effort – there’s a twenty foot wall around the estate, as you no doubt saw when you entered – and he was gone by the time I pulled back the curtains.

    ”A couple of weeks later I received the note, and the photos. He must have had a tiny camera hidden in his crumpled heap of bedside clothing.

    “The letter indicated a drop off point and warned me of what it would mean to my business and reputation if such images were leaked to the press. It wasn’t signed, but it smelled like him.”

    “How did you respond?” asked Coffin, but Bunny already had the answer.

    “She told him to go #### himself,” she replied.

    As Will had listened, his apprentice had been exploring the paintings and their inhabitants. Where he’d seen just canvas, she’d found a multitude of tiny lusting figures, each in a position that might have left the creator of the Kama Sutra blushing.

    “That’s about right,” said Rosanna with a smirk. “I did not build an empire on rubber gaskets by lacking an understanding of rough business. It wasn’t the amount though, it was the notion. I’ll plow a thousand miles for a carrot, but I won’t budge an inch for the stick, and that’s the way it’s always been.

    “I sent a note implying that my dating life could use the exposure. I kept the pictures though – I looked good in them, and so did he.

    “That was the last I heard of the matter until a few nights ago when a ragamuffin named Pendleton came by and asked that I join together with a few of his other clients in turning the tables on my visitor. I refused his offer too.”

    Coffin did not mention the corpses he had recently swam with – instead he simply gave a second nod, tucked his fingers into his pockets, and said, “thank you for your honesty. It seems we have an incubus with a money problem to locate.”

    As his feet chased his racing thoughts towards the exit, it was his accomplice who thought to turn and shake hands.

    In that lingering moment, Rosanna asked, “if you do find him, will you pass on that I would consider negotiating? I won’t pay his blackmail, but I’d gladly hire him to the house staff at twice the price.”

    Bunny’s mind struggled under the weight of four damp cadavers, but she’d come to like Rosanna.

    She said, “sure,” then left before the lie could linger.

     

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

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

    Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song: A New Man, by Kevin MacLeod of http://incompetech.com/

    Freesound.org credits:

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

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