Category: Flash Pulp

Flash Pulp 016 – Mulligan Smith and The Digital Digit Part 1 of 3: The Busy Husband

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Sixteen.

Tonight’s story, Mulligan Smith and The Digital Digit Pt. 1 of 3: The Busy Husband

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

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This episode is brought to you by the Flash Pulp facebook page.

Find farmington-ville-town lacks a little something?
Does fake fish trading leave you cold?
Tired of people demanding your pseudo-fruit & treasure?

Then come join the Flash Pulp fan page: a convenient excuse to not harvest virtual grapes for that Uncle you never talk to in real life.

Your compliance is appreciated.

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.

Tonight’s episode marks the beginning of a week’s worth of adventure with the hooded PI, Mulligan Smith.

In this opening chapter, Mulligan awaits the necessary components for a proper coffee, as well as the facts of his case.

Flash Pulp 016 – Mulligan Smith and The Digital Digit Pt. 1 of 3: The Busy Husband

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

It was quarter after nine in the morning, and Mulligan was seated at the deep end of an expansive maple dining table.

As he’d staggered up the walk he’d passed two uniformed school children, and once inside he’d found himself sitting across from the remains of their breakfast – rogue mini-wheats and toast crumbs littered the hardwood.

Over the wreckage, a bald toddler glared at him, its round face leaning forward, its eyes tightened into accusatory slits. The stark white walls were windowless and unadorned, making it difficult for the PI to do anything but return his stare.

The woman who’d met him at the door frequently popped in and out of the room, occasionally taking a single dish and dropping a comment from her scattered internal dialogue.

She re-materialized, placing a mug of coffee at Mulligan’s hand.

“He should be down any moment,” she said.

The woman took a long look at the cup.

When the drink had been offered, about twenty minutes previous, Smith had responded to her questioning by letting her know that he generally enjoyed two tips of milk and a pinch of sugar. Now he waited out the pause, opting not to mention his currently uncut beverage.

“Oh.” The woman said, lifting a coaster from the decorative-heap atop the nearby sideboard, and sliding it under his mug.

Nodding, she turned back to the kitchen.

Mulligan cleared his throat.

“Sorry, could I trouble you for a bit of milk and sugar?” he asked.

“Oh. Certainly.”

As she once again began to disappear through the adjoining arch, a series of clicks and thuds drifted down the staircase.

She glanced at the landing, then scuttled from the room.

Perfectly coiffed, Peter Richards, the client, descended the stairs.

Nudging aside the toddler – who seemed no happier to see his father than he’d been to see the PI – Richards pulled out the chair across from Mulligan. There was an awkward moment as the new arrival attempted to find an undampened surface on which to rest his cuffed wrists.

“Good morning,” the businessman in the well cut suit said.

“Good morning,” the investigator in the black hoodie replied.

Reappearing at the doorway, the woman now balanced an overflowing bowl of Cheerios in her right hand, and another cup of black coffee in her left. Taking the measure of the room, she dropped the Cheerios at Smith’s end, the coffee at the other.

“You’ve met my wife?” Peter asked.

The woman fled the room.

“Yes, she seems – well intentioned,” Smith replied, eying his spoon-less cereal.

“Indeed, indeed.” Richards inspected his coffee briefly, then pushed it away.

“Listen,” Mulligan said, leaning over his bowl. “You look like the kind of fella who packs a lot into a day, and I don’t think my hanging around is doing your wife much good. I got your fax with the contract, let’s just get to the basics of what I’m looking at and we can fill in the details as I need them.”

“Fine.” The suited man set aside the blackberry he’d begun to thumb at.

“It began two weeks ago,” As his client spoke, the PI looked about for something to use in place of his missing cutlery. Amongst the sideboard’s decorative plumage he located an over-sized bit of silver, a gravy ladle, that he found quite effective. “I was involved in an email exchange with a woman who -”

The child across the table had received a revelation: no one was paying him any attention.

“HOOOOOOOO,” he shouted in retaliation.

Casting about the maple, his father located one of the escaped mini-wheats and thrust it into the boy’s mouth.

“As I was saying,” Richards began.

“HOOOOOOOO,” the boy interrupted, wheat mush running down his chin.

Mulligan, having tunneled his way through a patch of the Cheerios, scooped some of the sweet cereal run-off into his mug. Standing, he handed both bowl and ladle to the toddler, who cracked a smile in exchange.

With the room once again silent, the client cleared his throat.

“I had the situation in hand…,” his explanation was interrupted this time by his wife, whom neither man had noticed once again at the doorway. She began to cry hysterically, her birdlike body shaking with the sobs.

“No, I mean…,” he started, but she had already pulled the child free of its prison and run up the mahogany staircase.

The well dressed man stood.

“Look, I need to deal with this. The woman blackmailing us is ‘Baroness Ludmilla Anastasia’, just google it.”

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

Flash Pulp 015 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space – The Music Library

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Fifteen.

Tonight’s story: Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space – The Music Library

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This evening’s episode is inspired in part by Shunn.net.

Ever wondered how a relatively mild-mannered writer might be compelled to join an international group of religious zealots, only to be expelled from a foreign nation after threatening to bomb a major airline?

Find William Shunn’s memoir, ‘The Accidental Terrorist’, and much more, at Shunn.net.

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 introduce a new character to the line up, Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space. In this episode we see some of Joe’s humble beginnings, in a time before his ascension to the throne.

Flash Pulp 015 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space – The Music Library (Part 1 of 1)

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

Joe Monk was laying tracks across the great big black, and at the heart of his U.S. steel nest, he was rocking out.

Given that his speed approximated that of light, it was difficult to see him coming. Still, before take off many had remarked that the ship looked like nothing so much as an egg balanced atop a Lego brick.

Monk himself was unaware of this – he’d been but an infant at the time of lift off.

His ride was powered by a thousand mile wide force net maintained by computers capable of hundreds of calculations a second. The ship utilized the Sagan effect to cause thrust, dropping tiny universal nuclei in its wake – seeds that immediately burst into Small Bangs. The leading edges of these universes were caught up in the ship’s net, forcing the craft through the emptiness like a rising tide, before they collapsed under the crushing counter pressure of the energy absorbent mesh.

By the age of nineteen he’d grown quite bored with the ship’s catalogue of music – he’d spent too many long evenings crawling the tape library from end to end, even the two hundred hours that must have seemed endless to ground researchers could not sate him.

Still, with no alternative, he often found himself listlessly shuffling the spools just for background noise, until even his beloved Edwinn Starr was wearing thin.

At the age of twenty-two he forced an embargo on himself and re-programmed the music library’s door to lock for six months.

It was two weeks before his twenty-fourth birthday when he finally spotted the typo in the punch card source code, a bug that would leave the door locked not six months, but six years.

So he waited.

Time passed, slowly. He spent more time in the movie room, re-watching Astaire and Rogers’ flicks. He liked them well enough, but he wished the music librarian had talked more with the film librarian, as the two seemed universes apart.

By the time he was twenty-eight he’d fallen heavily into what had been originally intended as the bulk of the ship’s entertainment, the microfilm library. He was wandering the halls, the telescopic end of a portable reader held to one eye, when he heard a thick metallic click.

Setting aside the tale about a lippy detective, he cocked an ear.

He knew the rhythmic hum of the engine, the gentle fuzz of the life support and air conditioners, the tick-tack of the automated help and repair drones that occasionally took a shortcut through his area on their way to the functional portion of the ship – but this sound was wholly new to him.

It did not repeat.

It took him the better part of the afternoon poking around the hallway, in and around the vents, tapping on walls, entering and exiting supply closets and half forgotten spaces – usually full of children’s toys – before he unthinkingly tried the door to the music library.

It popped open at his touch.

The tears of a religious experience began to roll down his cheeks.

He stepped into the room and sank into the leather rolling chair. He hefted the headphones, re-adjusted their size, then pulled the thickly padded ‘O’s over his ears.

His fingers worked from muscle memory, cracking the cannister and lacing up the dual reels.

At a high, brassy volume, Edwinn Starr opined on war, and its worth.

Joe began to rock out.

Unheard over the roar, the computer spoke allowed for the first time in four years, delivering the words its occupant had been waiting to hear for nearly thirty.

“Touch down in t-minus three days, six hours, twelve minutes, forty-one seconds, and counting.”

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

Flash Pulp 014 – Mulligan Smith and The Retired Man

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Fourteen.

Tonight’s story: Mulligan Smith and The Retired Man

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This evening’s episode is brought to you by VintageHorror.com

Like Horror? Sure, we all do – but modern horror contains up to 75% more iso-Roth-inol than equivalent horror did even a decade ago. It’s well known that iso-Roth-inol is a dangerous neurotoxin that may lead to health risks such as watching Hostel, but what are we to do?

Fortunately, as a free medical service VintageHorror.com provides horrific video, audio and stories – visit today!

That’s VintageHorror.com

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.

In this episode, we present another tale of Mulligan Smith. Tonight, the PI searches for a certain Mr. Johnson, at a busy eatery.

Mulligan Smith and The Retired Man – Part 1 of 1

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

It was a public place, but a private booth. The old man had visited this McDonald’s every day for nearly three years. His heart was bad, so he rarely ate any of the grease that came over the counter, but he’d mostly acclimatised himself to the coffee, and he enjoyed the occasional muffin.

Well – in truth he hated the cheap food, the cheap coffee and the cheap seating, but in the mornings it was relatively quiet and he missed being around people.

The newspaper lay dead on the table, split open and abandoned, a few rogue caffeine drops causing inky blots amongst the paragraphs.

The day’s news had been forgotten when the lanky man in the black hoodie dropped himself onto the booth’s opposite bench, interrupting the old man’s two-sugar-two-milk dessert.

“Mr Johnson?” the interloper said, unzipping his sweater.

“Who are you?” Johnson replied, giving his thick gray moustache a quick rub to shake loose any bran crumbs that might remain.

“It’s funny, if you ask enough people if they are who they are, you start to notice patterns. People only respond with a question of their own if they are in fact the party being inquired about – so – it’s nice to meet you Mr. Johnson, my name is Mulligan Smith.”

“Mulligan?” The old man panned his eyes around the room while he talked. “Is that your actual name? Isn’t a mulligan a do-over in golf?”

“My Dad’s name was John Smith, and he hated the generic sound of it. He also happened to love the PGA tour.”

“I see, I see.” The old man’s search came up empty, and he sank into the vinyl cushion. “How can I help you?”

“Well, first you can stop looking for a guy to hit me with a wrench. Most of the folks look like they’re in here just trying to grab Saturday breakfast, not to watch a man being beaten bloody. Second – I thought you were supposed to be a clean man since your stroke?”

The old man coughed.

“Yes… well, I’ve heard many stories of the man I was supposed to be before my episode – usually from people who drop in on me unexpectedly, without invitation, and without the best of intentions.”

“Ahh, well, there’s where you’ve got me wrong. It’s my job to show up unexpectedly and without invitation, but I never have anything but the best of intentions.” Mulligan reached into his sweater, pulled a thick envelope from an interior pocket.

“Just what is your job?”

“Private investigator mostly, although at the moment I’m moonlighting as a pediatrician.”

He slid the package across the table.

“Congratulations! It’s a boy! Hope you can remember the number for a decent lawyer.”

“What?”

Mulligan stood, re-zipping his hoodie.

“Your memory of the last couple of decades may be shot, but there’s a lady in Miami named Candy Millions who sure recalls your time together.”

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm. 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.

Google it.

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 365Tomorrows.com. 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.

“Maybe.”

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 http://skinner.fm. The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Flash Pulp 012 – Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 6 of 6

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Twelve.

Tonight’s story: Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 6

(Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6)

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This evening’s episode is brought to you by Old Time Radio Extra, available at oldtimeradioextra.weebly.com

Looking for old time radio, kid? Sure ya are!

OTR Extra has all the sources of jim jams and flim flams indexed, so you don’t need to go crawling up and down google like some kinda mook.

That’s Old Time Radio Extra, available at oldtimeradioextra.weebly.com

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 the finale to our first Blackhall tale, as Thomas makes his final stand against his ursine captor.

Next week we return with a trinity of solo pieces, including another entry in the case files of Mulligan Smith.

Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part Five of Six

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

A new type of waiting had begun, as man and beast watched the flames move voraciously amongst the brittle wood.

“What treachery is this? You would roast us both!” the bear roared.

“I will give you some advice – and what I give you will be free, not a spite heavy trade.” Thomas smiled, his smokey vice bobbing between his cracked lips. “If you head down to the river we have twice now conversed upon, your strength will surely knock back the great elms which hang over that water. If you were to then rut the dirt clean, you could create a break and stop this contagion – at least so long as the wind stays easterly. T’will not be easy, nor quick, but it’ll keep this blasted hillock from balding entirely, and from letting the blaze spread to the lands beyond.”

“Pray do not think to inform me of how to fight such an enemy.” The bear snarled, stepping forward. The rending hooks of its front paws caught the light of the flames.

It reared and bellowed then, its rage flooding the hilltop and valley below.

Thomas raised the tip of his sword.

“Until now I’ve not thought it likely that I might see my Mairi again, but if pressed I will gladly remove your head to save the time. I’m sick of your god awful shouting and groaning – if you wish to taste the poison of my silver, then come, and quickly, as I have a date to keep.”

He had taken his full height as he talked, and despite the mighty bulk of the beast below, upon his perch his frame now towered over even that of the lord of this primordial forest.

Without response the bear sank upon its haunches, once again resting in the position it had so long held.

Lowering his weapon, Thomas once again spoke:

“Do not rest long, it will be a short time before even yonder valley begins to crackle.”

The albino moaned then, the forlorn cry of a being who has lost a child and must make do with what remains. Rolling forward it took to its legs and began to push its way along the corridor of flames, picking up speed as it moved down the hill and out of sight.

Blackhall stood against the roasting heat as long as he dare, then slipped down the rocky scape and into the trees to the north, limping towards the smell of ocean salt.

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

Flash Pulp 011 – Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 5 of 6

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Eleven.

Tonight’s story: Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 5

(Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6)

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This evening’s episode is brought to by TomMerritt.com, because we love him.

We love you, Tom.

That’s Tom Merritt.com.

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 the penultimate episode in our current serial, in which Thomas Blackhall, tired, injured and having gone for days without sleep, begins to see an end to his labours.

Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part Five of Six

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

Thomas once again fell silent.

Moments passed, then the great albino emptied his lungs, once again beginning his mumbling chant. A raven flew down from an unseen perch, landing at the feet of its lord. The bear’s instructions took longer this time, but as his words trailed off amongst the growing chorus of crickets, the black bird croaked and rose into the air, its definition lost against the darkening woods.

Thomas attempted a small meal of his remaining jerky, but his stomach had soured and he found it difficult to keep even his meager portion down.

He used the remaining time until the bird’s return to gamble with his life.

Until then he’d dared not move from the head of the slope that kept the fury of his jailer in balance with his blade, but now he limped to the single white pine that overhung his meager prison, and, with one eye still on the beast who sat waiting at the bottom of his roost, reached deeply into the center mass of the standing giant and cut loose a single broad branch.

As he retreated to his precipice he stooped regularly, enjoying the stretch and tug of the motion upon his limbs, and pulled forth some of the dry bunches of scrub that had had the misfortune to root upon the desolate plateau.

Sitting once again upon the flat rock he’d come to use as a stool, he freed his knife from his belt and began to trim the offshoots from the trunk of his branch.

From above came the flutter of wings, and then, to his left, the shattering crack of stone on stone.

“You claimed you only required the smallest of portions,” came the throaty voice from below, its breath pregnant with a snicker.

After a time he finished worrying the branch with his knife and then slid on hands and knees to where the crash had emanated. A long search turned up three larger portions and a dozen smaller shards, and from this selection Thomas kept the largest, a piece not quite the length and width of his thumb.

Returning to his post, he set down the fragment and took up the reed braid and barren branch. He began to talk as he worked.

Thomas Blackhall“Old King James may have said it was a “custome loathsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the black stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomlesse”, but if I’m to draw my final breaths on this empty rock, I’d rather some of them be filled with Virginian tobacco.”

With that he set down his design, and rummaging within the interior of his great coat, retrieved a small water tight flask. He opened it to reveal a pouch with a small quantity of shredded brown leaves, from which he took a hearty pinch, as well as a carefully folded packet of thin Spanish papers. The remaining volume of the container was largely taken up by the yellowing slip that was Mairi’s final letter.

“Oh, Bessie Bell and Mary Gray, they were twa bonnie lassies,” Thomas began to sing under his breath. He licked shut his work and tucked it between his lips.

Blackhall moved quickly then, his sabre close at hand.

He made a bushel of the driest of the scrub he’d gathered, and silently wished that the excess pine needles had been crisp enough to add as well. Once again his fingers closed about his knife, and with a sharp series of glancing blows to the flint stone, sparks and then flame lept amongst the ragged twigs.

With his right foot he tipped the cattails, stripped of their reeds to become simple shafts capped in brown fuzz, into the flame. With his left hand he lit his cigarette.

“It has grown dark, Master Bear, but my work is done,” Thomas said, lifting two of the bullrushes to his crude archer’s bow.

“What’s this now?” The clouded tone told Blackhall the beast had likely drowsed at its shadowed station.

The question hung in the air as twin arcs cast forth from the flat above, licking flame tumbling through tangles of branches before sprawling on the dry forest floor to the east.

“My work is complete – see now the child’s toy that shall mark my passage upon this hill.”

His cigarette dangling such that the stubble that had grown upon his face was at no small risk, he continued to speak as he let fly.

“A child’s toy indeed, and the child who taught me to build it would laugh to see my own shoddy work, but it is enough to allow me to reach yonder trees.”

He’d spent his ammunition before his jailer could fully rise from stupor. The seeds of the cattails took air as they burned, drifting downhill upon the breeze. Wherever they set down, the dry brush drank greedily of the flame.

Thomas stood upon the edge of the stony flat then – bow cast aside and sabre occupying his right hand – letting his work truly settle in as his lungs filled with his addiction.

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

Flash Pulp 010 – Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 4 of 6

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Ten.

Tonight’s story: Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 4

(Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6)

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This evening’s episode is brought to you by RelicRadio.com. Bringing back the radio of yesteryear with the technology of today, visit to hear the cream of the radio age, right in your podcatcher.

RelicRadio.com

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, Thomas Blackhall gives up an explanation – as well as his only source of entertainment – while attempting to avoid inhabiting a bear lord’s gullet.

Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 4

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

As the sun crested noon, Thomas became more daring in how long he’d allow his sword arm to become occupied. The full heat of the day was upon the land, and the small store of stimulant that had held him had run dry before the dew was off the grass.

His great coat and shirt lay beside him, his wide brimmed hat providing his only real shelter on the empty expanse of plateau. The shade of the lone pine that abutted his prison tempted him, but he dare not leave his post. As his task became more complex and his aching fatigue more palpable, he cursed at himself, at his captor, at the forest, at the reeds, at the boat that had carried him from his home, at the sun, the wind, the land and the sky.

Tilting the white shag of his head, the bear spoke.

“You’ve taken to crafting some sort of artifact of your passage? I have slept in caves adorned with your art – I usually attempt to eat something especially rotten on those occasions, so I might leave my own pungent artifice. I have noted however that in recent millennia your leavings have become increasingly complex – are you especially adpet at some form of these works? Should I expect some member of your family to come in search of this scrap, and possibly your own remains? If you come down now, I’ll promise not to eat any errant son or hardheaded daughter that might arrive.”

“I have yet to sire a child of my own, although I was shown this craft by an eight year old Iroquois girl. I don’t mind admitting hers was considerably more impressive than mine will be – or might be, as I rather expect the moment I become over interested in my work you’ll cover the distance and end my little project,” Blackhall replied.

“I have shown you already that I might be reasonable – and in truth I am interested to see what a human with fortitude enough to murder Red Mouth might leave behind to mark his last moments. I have already indicated that, once you lapse into sleep, I will suck the meat from your bones as the bees drink the honey of their hives. I can also smell the aid you’ve used to stretch that time. Fine then, a race: if you should nod off you will awaken to my maw, but until that time you have my word that I will not attempt the climb.”

Thomas considered the proposition, then grunted his assent.

He did not re-sheath his weapon however, choosing instead to lay the naked blade gently across the scrub closest at hand.

“Yes, yes, make yourself comfortable,” the bear chuckled.

On his lap, Blackhall laid out the components of the cattails he’d been so hard pressed to strip. The reed leaves had begun to dry under the baking of the sun, and he set about tearing long strokes from each.

By dusk he’d made a braided twine of admirably slender width. It had come at no small cost however, his eyes burned and his head ached.

“Have you completed your task?” the beast asked from below.

“One part, but to complete it I require another component. It would be best if I had the baggage you encouraged me to leave upon my campsite-” the bear continued to look on in disinterest, “but, failing that, I might create a reasonable facsimile from the flaking stones found along the banks of the same stream from which your thralls drew these reeds.”

“Yes, I have seen these flaking stones, I have seen their use in crafts before, but I also know them to be of equal use for the bumbling you call a hunt. Surely you do not think such a tool will somehow save you from your lofty perch? I do not recall seeing a piece upon the pool’s edge large enough topple upon me.” The ursine let out a short bark, his gummy lips rising to reveal the arsenal of his jaw.

“Master Bear, to complete my craft I require but the smallest shard of stone.”

“And why should I provide such a thing? It seems to me my favour has already become stretched.”

“If you wish to see the end of this creation, I require some of the stone.”

He paused a beat, then added: “I have not yet slept.”

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

Flash Pulp 009 – Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Nine.

(Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6)

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This evening’s episode is brought to you by TwoGayGuys.com.

Chef Buck handles the meat while Louis-Michel mans the camera – visit to watch them prepare and present a variety of enticing dishes.

That’s TwoGayGuys.com.

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, Thomas Blackhall gives up an explanation – as well as his only source of entertainment – while attempting to avoid inhabiting a bear lord’s gullet.

Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 3

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

“John Elliot, to demonstrate his courage, ventured into your grotto and despoiled your drinking stream with the passing of his whiskey. I do not claim it was a civil act, but, at the grievance of a single drunk, your eldest son spent a hellish week devouring every man, woman and child in the hamlet of Marie Amable. Even then, he was not sated: the landscape for fifty miles in every direction, fish-eater and pig-eater alike, has been hewn of human activity.”

Blackhall observed the dark line of trees a moment, then continued.

“Unlike most of my fellow pig-eaters, I do not have the comfort of illusion regarding the true hierarchy of man and the occult, especially in this final bastion of deep woods and deeper waters. Still – they say to the west the rivers teem with salmon so that a man might walk the breadth without wetting his feet. No man would empty those rivers for a single bite of each, to do so would be insanity by any measure, mortal or immortal.”

The animal grunted.

“Oh, there is more Master Bear. I have seen the mania take your brethren before, and I do not think even you will escape it. As the pig-eaters crawl further over the face of this land, you will either have to retreat – an idea that I’m not sure your heart may hold – or you will suffer the rage and froth that befell Red Mouth. Truly, Milord, even now might you not be under the veil of madness? How long will you, Lord and Ruler of this place, rage against the single bee you’ve ensnared in a knothole?”

“Many a flattened bee might gladly testify to my patience – if they could,” the beast replied.

Thomas nodded with resignation.

“Mayhaps those that remain shall build their hive about you in the wait.”

Silence descended until the two black-eyed labourers returned with their burdens. Thomas watched with a steady arm as the pair climbed the barren slope that meant stalemate. His eyes could detect no ruse – he knew many of the Lords of the unknown stretches were bound by a personal code of honour, but he was also keenly aware that he knew little of what honour might mean to a bear. He could see no trickery in the approaching beady eyes however, nor any of the keen intellect that might indicate that all was not as it might seem.

The bandits dropped their bundles at his feet, crouching on their hind quarters, forepaws twittering with anticipation.

From below his captor presented instructions:

“You have your reeds, now send them away with your child’s toy.”

Thomas eyed the reeds – intact as promised – then eyed the night sky, his breath exiting in a thin lipped sputter. Reaching into a pocket he drew forth the jaw harp and tossed it amongst the stones at the feet of his jailer’s vassals. A brief, chittering scuffle ensued before the furry victor scurried down the jagged slope, the loser close at hand.

The noise of their argument carried into silence as they moved down the hill.

His entertainment stripped of him, the passage of time seemed to slow for Blackhall. He felt loathe to complain however: after a brief struggle with a cloud bank, the moon had presented its fullest portion and now flooded the clearing with its light.

An uncountable period passed and the music of the night insects began to weigh heavily on his eyelids.

With a sudden snort he brought himself awake.

Standing, Thomas began to rummage about in his interior pockets, pulling forth a small pungent satchel. After a brief whiff to ensure it had not yet turned, he selected a healthy pinch of the browning herbal concoction within and began to grind it between his molars.

Within moments his eyes were large with moonlight, his limbs reinvigorated.

He knew this crutch would not carry him from the hilltop, but it was some small assurance that he would at least remain awake to see the dawn.

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

Flash Pulp 008 – Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 2

Welcome to Flash Pulp episode eight.

Tonight’s story: Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 2

(Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4 – Part 5 – Part 6)

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Tonight’s episode is brought to you by MayTunes.com. Watch and listen to the highs and lows of one woman attempting to write fifty-two weekly songs over the course of a year.

Maytunes.com.

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.

This evening we re-join Thomas Blackhall, who’s been buttonholed atop Talbot’s Plateau, deep in the primeval forests of 19th century North America.

Please note that this is the second episode in our current serialization, and should you not have heard or read the first entry, you do yourself a disservice to continue.

Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 2

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

The sun rolled heavily in the sky and began to dip beyond the horizon.

Blackhall sat, his sabre across his knees, waiting. His injured leg throbbed, and the fatigue of the long chase had begun to settle into his bones.

He did however hold some small solace in the bear’s alabaster fur – there was little chance it might unexpectedly creep upon him in the night.

Patience was the greatest lesson he’d learned from his Jesuit teachers, and it had often served him well.

Digging amongst the patched lining of his great coat, Thomas brought forth a mouth harp, and even as the beast grunted in his direction, he began to play. The song was an old Italian one, taught to him by a trio of bright young American patriots he’d had the pleasure of standing garrison over as they awaited escort from his Majesty’s Upper Canada.

Attempting a tone of contempt, he let the tune carry him against the chill that now filled the air in retort to the day’s baking sun. He played on for nearly twenty minutes before the rumblings of his captor were enough to interrupt his melody.

“I would rather my morsels cure in silence. Your life may no longer be your own to barter, but is there something I might have brought to you in exchange for this siege to last in silence? Perhaps a final meal of the freshest venison?” the bear asked, a towering white ghost sitting upon the edge of the forest.

“I might prefer silence if you were to bring me a half dozen bullrushes, still with reeds, from the edge of the creek we passed in our ascent,” Thomas replied.

“A strange request. It seems to me a stupid ploy if you asked it to send me from my post. I remind you that I have been lord of this forest for ten times the span you might ever wish to live,” the bear’s maw widened in a yawn. “You will have your cattails however.”

Without rising from his seat the bear began to turn out a complex guttural muttering, a throaty sound that seemed to cast stillness into the evening air and down the hillock.

Moments passed in this new silence, then the rustling of dry leaves announced the entrance of a pair of raccoons ambling forth from the underbrush to sit at the feet of their liege. A brief series of low snuffles set the pair of ringtails back into the shadows and down the darkened slope.

As they waited, the bear spoke.

“Come now, shivering crumb, come down to me and I will let you drink deeply of that same flowing water. When it comes time for me to kill you, I shall devour your entire skull in a single mouthful, so that your pain is brief and your end short.”

“Master Bear, despite the true enormity of your head, I must decline. I did not expect my request to send you away yonder – as you seem to think. I must also add that the death of Red Mouth brings me no small sadness. I know these churning days rest heavily upon the lords of all lands, but there must be some law. I am sure you must have breathed deep the slaughter on Red Mouth’s breath, seen the madness that had taken his eyes.”

The bear’s teeth shone against the night.

“There is law! I am that law. Who are you, pig-eater, to come here and tell me of law. The pig-eaters have run rampant in the south and west, killing the fish-eaters and the land-shapers since the moment of their arrival! What was it to you if Red Mouth sated himself on an inconsequential herd? It has been many moons since the fish-eaters of the valley have come to stand against me, and yet you, a grubby pig-eater, came creeping, creeping in the darkness and slew my eldest son!”

Blackhall stood then, his jaw set.

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