Category: Fictional Science

Flash Pulp 038 – The Dance, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Thirty-Eight.

Flash PulpThis evening: The Dance, Part 1 of 1

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Tonight’s episode is brought to you by the Facebook Flash Pulp fan page.

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Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – 400 to 600 words brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight we present a rumination on the future of effort.

Flash Pulp 038 – The Dance, Part 1 of 1

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


“I’m surprised she has any students at all. She started swinging that cane and I swear, I near started crying. One to the calf: “not extending high enough”, one to the thigh: “not taut enough.” I mean, come on, I’d just finished showing her a Martinique beguine to a jitterbug that led out with an Irish stepdance! What more does she want?”

Fiona had been eating lunch when Marty had stepped up to the opening of her cubicle, and as he finished, she rubbed bread crumbs from her fingers.

“What it sounds like is that she wants it done right.”

Marty glared down at her.

“Well, I say it IS right.”

“Well, I say you hovering over me while I’m eating my lunch is ruining my twinkies. Either sit down, get back to work, or go be the guy that complains that the consultant is wrong – and risk revealing that you’re a lazy whiner.”


Marty and Fiona had encountered each other in the parking lot, and Marty was taking the opportunity to finalize a day’s worth of complaining.

“She’s like my fifth grade teacher, no matter what, she’s never satisfied. At least back in math class I could show my work – the woman has no interest in listening, she just tells me to do it better.”

Overhead, an irritated flying security camera circled their animated discussion.

“She was dancing professionally at an age when you were still sleeping off Jagermeister and cheeto benders in your Mom’s basement: I think she knows what she’s talking about. I don’t blame her for being a bit ornery considering she spends her day in a wheel chair teaching tomorrow’s ballet queens.”

“Who hires a cripple to instruct dance anyhow?”

Fiona, shaking her head, hit the starter on her car.

She climbed in.

As she reversed from the lot, Marty could see through her windshield that she was still looking at him, shaking her head.


Marty and the woman were in the studio again. It had been their longest session yet.

He’d spent most of the time sweating, and wishing the woman, in her crisp black leotard, would call the proceedings to an end.

“Yes – now hold it, hold it.” The woman wheeled her chair about his ballerina posture. “You’re getting closer.”

Still striking a perfect second position arabesque, Marty protested.

“What? What more is there?”

“Your transitions are sluggish. When caught by a sudden tempo change it looks as if the dance is being conducted via satellite from Baghdad.”

“Listen, I thought you might say that, and I’ve compared tape with amateurs – we’re talking well within error constraints, shouldn’t that be good enough?”

“No. If it isn’t worth doing perfectly, why bother doing it?”

“What do you know about it? You don’t understand the work.”

“I understand that if you were as good at your job as I am at mine, you wouldn’t be receiving complaints.”

She stared up at him, her pointer across her lap.

He left.


He was surprised to find her seated on the floor as he entered. Her wheelchair rested against the wall, and he guessed that she’d used the barre to lower herself before crawling to the center of the room.

He suddenly felt guilty about his fifteen minutes of pre-planned tardiness.

She skipped the traditional introductory beratement.

“I will dance today,” she said.

There was a hitch to her voice that he thought might be the edge of tears. Setting down the big blue duffel, he began to remove the exoskeleton.

As he helped the dead weight of her legs into the suit, he realized he’d never been this close to the woman before.

Somehow, at this range, she seemed younger than he’d previously thought.

He placed the sensors at the base of her neck and helped her upright.

They’d had music at every session, but it had always been held low enough to allow chatter. She wobbled at first, but her opening baby-steps within the suit were to move to the stereo. By the time she’d crossed the room, each stride was firm and sure.

Her thumb spent a long moment against the volume button.

The clack and whir of the rig was lost beneath the thrum of the beat that filled the space.

She began to dance.

After an hour the battery began to wear low, and she was forced to return the volume to a conversational level.

With the last of the juice, she grabbed a white towel and gently settled to the floor.

It was only then that she allowed the concentration she’d shown to be broken.

Finally, she spoke.

“Yes, now it is right.”

She smiled.

Flash Pulp is presented by The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Flash Pulp 013 – Say It Ain't So, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Thirteen.

Tonight’s story: Say It Ain’t So

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This evening’s episode, and every episode of Flash Pulp, is partially inspired by Marvelous Bob.

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Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – 400 to 600 words brought to you Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Tonight we present a tale of science fiction, originally published on It’s a story of high level corporate maneuvering in a not so terribly distant future, a story which opens with a simple question of identity.

Say It Ain’t So – Part 1 of 1

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

“So, are ya?” He’s maybe twelve, wearing blue shorts and a Mexico City Raptors t-shirt, a leg up on the wrought iron patio fence. My lobster is getting cold.

“What?” I ask.

I realize he’s holding up a thin rectangle the size of a credit card, alternating his squints to get the thing’s picture to match my face.

“CEO Benjamin “Crush ‘Em” Hinton?”

I remember signing off on licensing my likeness to FlatMedia last May, but I hadn’t seen the cards in the wild.

I ignore him.

That might have been the end of it, but a serving girl swings by my table.

“Your bill, Mr. Hin – Ben.” She says, smiling uncomfortably.

That’s what I get for flirting with the wait staff.

“It IS you! Could ya sign my card?”

He thrusts a red stylus and the card at me. I accept, mostly just interested in checking out the cheap display on the back. There’s a rundown of my resume; schooling, management experience, time spent on corporate boards.

I tap on New Youth Limited. Not much my rookie year, but the second I was apparently one of “The Resurrection Seven”, a voting bloc that saved N.Y.L. by moving from chemical processes to genetic engineering. I remember the vote, but I don’t recall anyone using the snazzy nickname.

Sliding through the listings, I notice some of them have been marked up in a child’s block script, often with arrows pointing to individual entries, things like: “Bob may have had seniority, but not the votes!”

“Anywhere?” I ask.

“Sure!” He says with a sloppy grin.

I tap the pen icon.

“Is it true that you punched Director Jules Wilson?”

“Heh, yeah. I mean, Wilson always came in drunk, but he messed up my presentation of that quarter’s preliminary financials – by the time he started pawing at Kathy Reed, I was just looking for an excuse.”

I look up, wondering if I’ve said too much for a kid his age, but he seems to be eating it up with moon eyes.

“You ever gonna work somewhere huge like Kalstock again?” he asks, face imploring. I give a quick scribble with the stylus and hand him back his card.


His saucer eyes begin to droop.

“Hey,” I quickly add, “I mean, there’s talk that Kalstock may revisit their policy and have me back for another term, but it’s hush hush.”

He brightens. I imagine him lording the harmless secret over his friends for a week.

“Tedward says you got lucky with the Talibi Merger because CEO Norma Donald was kicked by Talibi’s oversight expert system. I think he’s a craphead. You’re so smart you must have done something.”

I smile, mentally re-living my best maneuvers.

“I bought shares in a number of Talibi subsidiaries using various fake names and then put out a lot of crosstalk showing a lack of stockholder confidence. The system got nervous. I paid good money to insert low numbers into that week’s financial reports, and the system went to red alert. Things would have been fixed as soon as they saw the next round of numbers, but I used the whistleblower hotline to point out a lie on Norma’s resume involving her university rowing team. With so much bad happening so suddenly, the computer thought the world was ending and booted Norma – the only one who understood Kalstock’s real intentions.”

The kid’s smiling the whole time I’m talking, but as I finish he turns and waves to someone. That’s when I see the New Youth product watermark on the back of his neck.

Without looking at me he says:

“Mr. Hinton – Carl Nochek, special agent for the Securities and Exchange Commission. Benjamin Hinton, it is my duty to inform you that you are under arrest.”

Flash Pulp is presented by The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.