Category: Flash Pulp

Flash Pulp 030 – Missing, A Mother Gran Story, Part 3 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Thirty.

Flash PulpTonight’s tale: Missing, A Mother Gran Story, Part 3 of 3

(Part 1 – Part 2Part 3)

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This evening’s episode is brought to you by Mexican Wrestling.

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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 another chapter of our current Mother Gran serial. In this final installment, we are provided a glimpse into the motivations of our elderly, baby-snatching heroine.

Flash Pulp 030 – Missing, A Mother Gran Story, Part 3 of 3

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

The sun was slipping behind the hills to the west, when an excited Mickey Spokes pulled his buggy up short at the gate. Joren had seen the boy’s dusty plume approaching, and had altered his path back from the fields while fishing in his pocket for a handful of loose oats. As the farmhand stepped onto the lowest of the gate’s rungs, Thunder snuffled up the offered grains with flapping lips.

“I haven’t seen you this excited since your Ma found Old Man Pilfer and Dame Madison in the middle of misusing her outhouse.”

Mickey smiled.

“Nor since your senile Gran was found standing naked in the Humphrey’s kitchen, smiling and mumbling after crumb cakes.”

“Neither senility or hunger were at fault when it was your Father standing-”

“One of the Turner girls has gone missing.” Mickey said, his sudden interjection bringing a laugh out of Joren before the seriousness of the matter had settled into his ears. “Three-Leg Turner says a coyote must have come and snatched her in the night, right from her bed – but, Jeanie told the gathered women on The Loyalists’s veranda that she thought it more likely the babe awoke in the night, and wandered off on its own.”

“A picky coyote to have selected from such a menu, but aye, babes will walk,” Joren said, his fingers once again digging into his pocket.

“Ma says a woman ought to at least cry while telling such a tale, but given the unseasonably warm days and the long sleeves Jeanie has been seen to wear, Ma also thinks it may be the case that she’s already had reason enough to cry herself dry.”

“What of a search?”

“Constable Wills has gathered as many upright citizens as he might, and they pound the thickets as we speak – I myself am part of the effort, having ranged ahead with Thunder here, to see if the child might not be walking some back lane.”

“More like you’ve been wandering up and down the roads telling tales. At least if any you leave in your wake should see the girl, they’ll know not to take it for a forest-ling,” Jory told the truth with a smile, a trait Mickey had always found hard to anger at.

“I should be about my business,” the boy said, taking hold of the reins.

He stopped short, placing a hand above his brow with exaggeration. “Hark, could yonder form be the missing girl? Nay, wait, it seems to me to be the lovely form of your cousin Ella.”

Joren threw the remaining oats at Mickey as the boy cracked the leads with a laugh.

* * *

Amongst the silent hay, the two women sat on either side of the serving tray, their legs crossed.

Gran had waited until the Spokes boy had roared from the gate before making her way down the long cow path to the barn. Balancing the platter with teapot, a bowl of honey, and two cups, she’d used her free hand to climb the steep rungs to the loft, all with such silence that her guest was startled to see the steaming service rising up from the ladder’s gap.

The tray itself was a finely crafted slab of maple, its edges flourished with a motif on each side: Dragon, Fish, Monkey and Goat.

Mother Gran served as the mousy woman fussed at the sleeping child in her arms.

“The same hands that coaxed her into that bed will eventually knock her out of it, mark my words. It may not be long afore its Jeanie herself lying up in this hayloft.” The old woman dipped a spoonful of honey into the steaming cup, stirring slowly. “Still, his fourth wife, and yet you’re the first I’ve heard to ask of her babe – and lucky in your case that it was but one. Return now to your dentist in the north, and speak not of this unless the need be true.”

The women talked a while longer, until, as night settled, Joren left the gate, turning his mules northward. From amongst his load of hay came the sigh and hush of a mother’s love reclaimed.

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 029 – Missing, A Mother Gran Story, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Twenty-Nine.

Flash PulpTonight’s tale: Missing, A Mother Gran Story, Part 2 of 3

(Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3)

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This episode is brought to you by Maytunes.com.

Come and join Jessica May on her musical expedition to tame the primal c-chord, and master the mystic arts of the digital audio workstation.

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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 the second entry in our current Mother Gran serial. In this chapter, we learn how it is Gran came to her canine predicament.

Flash Pulp 029 – Missing, A Mother Gran Story, Part 2 of 3

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

The night before the long run from Turner’s hounds, Mother Gran had slowly come awake, a well timed pint of apple cider, and her aging bladder, ensuring her the early alarm.

She dressed by the moonlight that filtered through the window, bent low to kiss Henry, and slipped from their room.

Gran had spent the better part of sunset collecting fireflies from the wheat fields and ditches, entrapping them in a glass bottle, the exterior of which was rounded, to emulate the form of a raspberry. Tipping up the edge of the cheesecloth she’d laid across the container’s opening, she cast her breath into the jar, the breeze stirring the gathered bugs within. Amongst the loose grasses she’d sprinkled inside, a multitude of pinpoint stars began to pulse and glow.

With a quick hand she exchanged the cloth for a lid, atop which, a worn wooden rod projected. After tightening down the cover, she gave the bottle a gentle turn, righting it so that she now held a torch with a berry-bulb in place of flame.

The walk was a slow one, as Gran reckoned it better to risk only when necessary, and never before. She held to the animal tracks and hunt trails, occasionally leaving the broken paths entirely, her sixty-eight years of memory calling up routes long overgrown.

It was no small distance, and her shadow had drifted through the tall grasses of many meadows before she reached her goal.

When she’d finally intersected Puddle Lane, she took her bearings and began to tread south – time was becoming short and she knew there was little chance of encountering even the most drag-heeled of Sarah Melbain’s tavern patrons.

She came to a gap in the windbreak of trees, and spent a time observing the shuttered cabin nestled within.

Shucking her muck covered dress, she hung it upon a branch at the head of the cart-path marking the homestead’s entrance. Eying the dipping moon, she separated her torch’s halves, the captives within eagerly taking wing into the night air.

Gran was no longer as muscled as she’d been at forty, but even at sixty-eight she could give her youngest grandchild, Joren, a tough arm-wrestling – no small feat given that the lad was sixteen, and a dervish during the harvest.

Without the rustle of her hems to betray her, she crept through the shadowed dooryard, her passage as silent as a sparrow’s wings.

With a damp finger she’d taken the breeze, ensuring she would stay downwind of the pair of mountainous wolf hounds that slept noisily by the shack, yet still her flesh prickled with each dream twitch and wheezing yowl.

With an eye on the snoring guards, she pushed gently upon the wooden planks of the shanty’s entry, steeling herself against any encounter.

Luck was with her, and the door swung silently under the hum of nocturnal insects.

What she found within was a darkened interior, not unlike many such of the area. A large central room housed a dozen sleepers. In a far corner stood a rough hewn table, and opposite, a wood stove whose fuel had run empty for the evening.

She’d carried ten babes of her own, an even count of five of each, and in her final days of pregnancy, she’d been old enough that no schoolboy would mistake to call her anything but Ma’am. She doubted that the slight frame of Mrs. Jeanie Turner could have lied her age up to ten-and-eight, yet there the girl slept at the center of the room, in the marriage bed of William Turner, a sea of mattresses and makeshift cots snoring about her.

Gran’s feet had trained at the cradles of her own brood, and without noise they carried her through a closer inspection of the room – a blond baby who snorted with each breath; a brown-haired girl in pigtails, her arms wrapped about a doll carrying the scars of many a hasty mending; the sunburned face of the eldest, Burton, who she knew to scrap with any Sunday School classmate that dared to speak against his family.

With patience and a steady nerve, the old woman’s search led her to her prize. She lifted the toddler from the dresser drawer that acted as his crib, her bird-hands tightening his gray blanket against the cold.

There was an anxious moment as she opened the door to a steadily brightening horizon, but she found the dogs still prone at their station.

Her feet were wet with dew by the time she re-took the road. Locating a plush mat of grass, she set the infant down and quickly re-dressed.

She’d covered a country mile before the bundle stirred, its eyes fluttering open to meet her own.

“No?” the boy asked.

“Shush now,” Gran replied, smiling down at him.

“No!” the boy said, his eyes filling with panic.

He began to wail.

Reflex told her free hand to take up her hem, even as her head turned to scrutinize the road behind.

In the dawn light, two dirty-gray points came streaking from amongst the trees, turning to trace her route without slowing.

Lowering the child’s blanket across its face, she brought the sobbing infant to her chest and began to run.

As she gathered speed, the bawling ceased, and her feet were lightened to hear her burden begin to coo.

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 028 – Missing, A Mother Gran Story, Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Twenty-Eight.

Flash PulpTonight’s tale: Missing, A Mother Gran Story, Part 1 of 3

(Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3)

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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.

This evening we introduce a new recurring character, Mother Gran, who, in this opening chapter, we find mid-stride.

Flash Pulp 028 – Missing, A Mother Gran Story, Part 1 of 3

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

Puddle Lane was more than a wagon path, but less than a road. At it’s southern end, it came to a loose three-way corner: Puddle Lane, Soggy Bend and Gallagher. At its northern tip, the lane merged into Strawberry Road, a moniker Mother Gran had always appreciated for the attempt to maintain some of its neighbour’s whimsy.

“Old Man Gallagher never did have much of a sense of humour,” she thought, her knobby knees pumping.

She took the corner at full speed, tilting from Puddle onto Soggy.

She’d had a good head start, but the bundle in her arms was getting heavy, and she could hear the gallop of Turner’s wolf hounds as they closed the distance.

It was another half-mile to the blossoming white flowers of the crab apple tree, but, even in her dusk, her legs were well muscled from a lifetime of papoose toting and field work.

Still, she knew it would be a race.

The slapping paws of the dogs rounded the corner – she could hear the dampness in their hot breath.

A quarter mile, and she could feel the tightness in her lungs.

She began to sing:

“O where are ye gaun?
Says the false knight upon the road.”

A laugh caught in her throat, cutting the song short. She hadn’t run this hard in many a year.

She adjusted her grip on the gray rag.

“O where are ye gaun?
Says the false knight upon the road.

I am gaun to the schule,
Says the wee boy, and still he stood”

Reaching the tree, she broke from the roadway, grinning. The deer path was narrow and grass covered, but she’d known the route since childhood, and her feet were sure.

“What’s augh the sheep on yonder hill?
Says the false knight upon the road.”

She could see the mound now, its northern face piled high with John MacMillan’s transplanted field stones.

“They are my pap’s and mine.
Says the wee boy, and still he stood””

Her heart’s pounding, and the approach of the dogs, merged into thunder in her ears.

“How many of them’s mine?
Says the false knight upon the road.”

Finally, she could hear expectant chittering, and the familiar sound gave her legs new wind.

“A’ them that has blue tails.
Says the wee boy, and still he stood”

It had been the same song since winter’s first thaw – although she usually came with bucket in hand, not such a frail load.

The entire brood had gathered to meet her approach, and at their sight, she knew she would make it.

“I wish you were in yonder well.
Says the false knight upon the road.”

The lead hound recognized its error in the final moment, but its companion wasn’t prepared for the sudden loss of speed.

The old woman had breezed passed the malodorous family without slowing. Her passage, however, had set the matriarch skunk, plump from Gran’s table scraps, on edge.

The collision was cause enough to outrage the nervous mother.

“And you were down in hell
Says the wee boy, and still he stood.”

The dogs reversed course, beginning the long run home to carry the stink to their master.

Gran slowed to a stop, resting against the white trunk of a downed spruce.

As she adjusted her skirt, her palm came away sticky with froth from the hounds’ jaws.

She wiped her hand clean, and with spider-fingers, plucked the wrappings away, revealing the contents of her parcel.

She smiled to see the toothless grin of the babe within.

The lyrical portions of tonight’s story were derived from Child ballad #3, as collected by Francis James Child.

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 027 – Mulligan Smith and The Pregnant Pause, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Twenty-Seven.

Flash PulpTonight’s story: Mulligan Smith and The Pregnant Pause, Part 1 of 1

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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.

This evening we bring you another glimpse into the case files of Mulligan Smith, as he relates a late evening incident at a local greasy spoon.

Flash Pulp 027 – Mulligan Smith and The Pregnant Pause, Part 1 of 1

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

Mulligan and the old man were sharing a park bench and a bag of sunflower seeds.

“There’s a short hallway at the top of O’Doyle’s stairs, and the walls are filled with framed newspaper clippings – all starring the same starchy old lady, Mrs. O’Doyle. In the majority of them she’s holding the diner’s pride, a burger larger than your head.”

Pausing, the PI spat seed husks into the bench’s adjoining trash barrel.

“Really, the frames are all bolted to the walls, and the clippings are just there to act as landing lights for the drunks trying to find the washroom. As one of the few 24-hour eateries in a college-town’s sea of bars, it’s a popular place around closing time.

“It was supposed to have been just another stop, but I’d had to use the facilities. I’d been in and out of meat market dance clubs all night looking for a guy last seen in the company of a client’s missing party-boy son, and I’d had my share of virgin Bloody Marys. I knew two things about the jabberwocky I was chasing: he seemed to have quite a few friends hanging out downtown, and he had a head like a rubber ball, round and bald.

“I’d found out about his spherical noggin from the missing’s last confirmed contact, his hysterical girlfriend. Given her level of conversation, I was glad to get that much out of her.

“On the other hand, his plentiful friends were actually more of a suspicion – I was fairly sure I’d spotted more than one of the people I’d been talking to snapping cellphone pictures as I was walking away.

“Not a great situation: not only was I not getting any info, but he probably knew what I looked like.

“Anyhow, the problem with the hallway is that it has a blind turn onto the staircase at the end of its run, and we’re talking a hall that’s already barely wide enough to steer down once you’ve had a couple of wobbly pops.

“I hadn’t been drinking, but I can only assume collisions like mine are pretty common, at least at that hour.”

Mulligan cleared his throat.

“So I knocked a pregnant lady down a staircase. What was she doing out that late anyhow?”

He scooped another handful of seeds.

“In the end we were both lucky.

“Before she’d finished her backbone-slide down the stairs, I’d noticed something funny: a man with a hat and a very round face was watching me instead of the expectant tumbler. I mean, the conversation and cutlery rattling had ceased entirely, and from the top of the banister I could see everyone taking in the lady wobbling and going over, their heads slowly turning like it was a lopsided tennis serve.

“That is, everyone except that single face, seated beneath a drink cola sign, staring at me.

“Well, Mom-to-be hadn’t even touched down at the bottom, and I knew. Not only that, he knew I knew.

“After apparently watching me toss a pregnant woman down a flight of stairs to get at him, I guess he was pretty scared – when I finally tackled him half a block later, he started babbling everything I could ever ask of him.

“Oh, the lady was fine, actually pretty happy to have the story to tell once I’d talked her husband out of a round of fisticuffs and a lawsuit.”

Smith shook his hand, emptying his palm of husks.

“Found the party-boy in a dumpster though. Too bad about that.”

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 026 – Known Unknowns: A Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Twenty-Six.

Tonight’s story: Known Unknowns: A Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 1

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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.

This evening we open upon one of the many passing incidents in the history of Thomas Blackhall’s westward journey across the wild lands of North America.

Flash Pulp 026 – Known Unknowns: A Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 1

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

The trio faced each other, the creek puddling at their knees.

The eldest, Michael Vos, stood near the west most bank, a hatchet in his fist. The youngest, Renee Girard, stood ahead of the grassy overhang of the east bank, his right hand white-knuckled around a hunting knife.

Further up the flow stood Thomas Blackhall, his Baker rifle maintaining the space between the two.

“Renee, I cannot believe you’d cheat me – four months, with our backs aching while we built the dam and chute, it was always fifty-fifty. Our first strike and you’re holding out on me – I was to introduce you to my sister!”

“You’re a fine one to talk, you spent more than half that time sleeping off your drunk while I was moving rocks and sawing timbers.” Renee, red faced, kept his knife low, as if preparing for his partner to leap the distance between them.

“How is it you already know the value of your gold?” Thomas asked Michael. “I rode hard from town when I saw Renee at the saloon, and you were still napping off your celebratory spirits when I arrived. I’ve met the little assayer, with his neat collars and sharp cuffs, and he doesn’t strike me as the kind of fellow to maintain a brace of pigeons to exchange notes with whiskey-eyed prospectors. Unless you conferred with Beebe Plain’s silver and gold man in a dream, you should not yet know the value of the nugget I saw Renee flashing about.”

“Master Blackhall, why exactly are you here? I believe you startled us both when you suddenly appeared upstream.” The iron head of Michael’s hatchet dipped as he talked.

“I’m here for the same reason I’ve been here twice before, that monstrous junk pile you call a dam. Now, answer the question.”

The older man’s eyes swiveled between his red faced partner and the lowered Baker rifle.

His hatchet fell fully to his side.

“I planted the nugget.”

He shrugged.

Renee took a step back, his face filling with confusion.

“Why would you do such a thing?”

“All those nights you told me about that rich old gal you’ve got eating out of your hand back home…”

“I also told you that my cousin was bitten by the loup-garou , a, uh, werewolf, and that my Mother is regularly visited by the spirit of St. George – yet, I do not see you riding into town on Sundays, nor loading silver shot. Idiote, I could not have bought the mine out from you if you’d lent me the money. What you do not know is, if I ever show my face back in Gros Apanee, they’ll cut me up and sell the meat to the farmers on Jean Baptiste Day, just to get some of their coin back.”

“Fine, well, now you have the truth of the matter, so give me back my money.”

“Give you back your money? You just tried to fool me into buying this barren trickle!” Renee sucked in his lower lip, letting it go with a pop.

“Well, what you don’t know is, I don’t have a sister,” Vos muttered.

Renee exhaled and continued.

“Besides, I already gave you your share.”

Blackhall once again interjected, this time speaking quickly:

“As I’ve said, I met Beebe Plain’s assayer in passing while I was in the mayor’s office, he struck me as a knowledgeable man of his field, with a fair hand.” His eyes were still leveled at Michael, an eyebrow raised.

“It wasn’t cheap to buy a nugget that size. I, uh, told Jans the German that I’d pay him the second half when I got my share back.” Michael tapped his hatchet against his leg as he explained his predicament.

Renee groaned.

“I know what you think, Michael, but, I – I gave you all that was left. Jans took the rest over cards at Melbeau’s tavern.”

Both men were now eying the waters of the creek, rather than face each other.

Thomas did not let the pause last more than a few seconds.

“There’s nothing left here for either of you, and what neither of you know is, I’m on my way back from having lit a ten minute fuse at your dam. As I have told you both repeatedly, the inhabitants of Beebe Plain on la Petite Riviere are not particularly pleased with finding themselves suddenly at Beebe Plain on la Petite Crique. Now the Mayor has insisted. My suggestion is that you both stand aside, or prepare to swim.”

With that Blackhall strode from the stream, disappearing into the trees.

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 025 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Close Encounters

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Twenty-Five.

Tonight’s story is another chapter in The Ongoing Adventures Of Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space entitled Close Encounters, Part 1 of 1

(Previously On Joe Monk: 1 – The Music Room)

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This episode is brought to you by MayTunes.com

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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.

This evening we return to chronicling the adventures of Joe Monk, in a time before his ascension to the galactic throne, as he makes his first descent onto a strange and alien planet.

Flash Pulp 025 – The Ongoing Adventures Of Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space – Close Encounters, Part 1 of 1

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

Joe Monk stepped from the long silver tongue that had descended from his ship’s landing module. He was nude, which was fine: the ship wouldn’t have let him accidentally suffocate himself by opening the door onto a planet that wouldn’t support him, and the welcoming party simply didn’t know any better.

Having to descend from such a height had given Joe the sense of a great occasion, and by the time he’d finally reached the red dirt at the foot of the slope, his shoulders were set and his stride full of purpose.

“Hello!” he said, raising a hand in greeting.

He took a moment to inspect the gathering. They seemed to be divided into two categories: four legged beings that looked much like Earth frogs, and buxom blondes that looked much like Earth buxom blondes. The frogs were adorned with swatches of a purple, red and green latex-like material, while the majority of the blondes wore light cloth gowns of a dazzling white.

The nearest frog shuffled to Monk’s feet, spitting out three unidentifiable plants as an offering. Keeping its face low to the ground, it retreated.

One of the white gowned locals stepped forward, welcoming Joe with a noise he wouldn’t be able to reproduce without belching.

The blonde approached, arms sliding under his own, pulling him close in a tight hug.

“Tha, Thank, Thank you?” he said.

They parted, the expectant eyes of the crowd upon him.

In the hush, Joe’s attention was drawn to a ground effect vehicle that was fast approaching from the east, a rust coloured cloud rising behind it.

As Joe turned to face its approach, so did the crowd.

The machine came to a stop in a sweeping fishtail, the momentum of its wake carrying dust over the white gowns and spherical eyes of the gathered.

A being just taller than Monk’s knees swung itself over the side of the vehicle, landing with gusto.

“Boy howdy, am I ever glad to see you, you pudgy little monkey spawn!”

The crowd parted to allow the newcomer through.

“Look at that antique! You a hot rodder or something? You got this thing mounted to some sort of super-jacked freighter out by the primary star? You must be a man with an eye, even in the back-end of the cluster you don’t see much vintage Earth work. Oh yeah, surprised I know it’s not a replica, huh? I’m a hot rodder too, man! I misspent my youth crusing through that end of the universe – this is all before the restrictions kicked in of course – it was like the wild west out there.”

Monk, who’d seen a movie called Hot Rod in the ship’s library, a B-piece about people smashing large land vehicles into each other, had only the vaguest idea of what the imp was talking about.

The helmet shaped gnome cast its two black-goggled eyes over the landing module’s markings.

“Wait. A. Minute. Hey-zeus, you’re that kid, aren’t you? I remember you! You’re that bottle baby they fired into the black reaches as the last hope for his hideously self-destructive planet, yadda, yadda, yadda. Man, all races are so angsty in their teen-phases, but listen: All that was going on while I was there! There was a lot of talk amongst the guys that your leaky sieve would be toast before you made it past Pluto – me and a buddy even spent a few weeks trying to track you down a couple of years after your ejection from the solar system, figuring your tub would be great to chop and drop. Didn’t honestly think you’d still be alive at that point. You know, I probably have a betting pool stub on that somewhere – I wonder if I went for or against? Uh, anyhow.”

It was a lot for Joe to take in. He sat down on the cold ramp.

“Hey – I’m sorry, kid. You look rough. Is this your first landing? I don’t mean to run you down, it’s been a while since I’ve had someone I can talk to without my lungs aching afterward.”

“I’ve never had anyone I can talk to at all.” Joe said, cupping his face in his hands.

“Nuts. Listen, let’s try this again. There’s a guy from your planet named Shakespeare, are you familiar with his works at all?”

Joe shook his head. The microfilms were in the library, but he’d always found the language nonsensical.

“Great, then call me Macbeth.”

The goggled-gnome extended a four-pincered hand, and Joe took it up in a shake, finally encountering a familiar ritual from his hours of film watching.

“Joe Monk,” he replied. “Uh, Macbeth, what is this place?”

“Its like Honolulu kid. They think you’re a tourist. These poor jerks have been waiting for some schmuck to land on this backwater for something like 3 days – er, maybe like ten earth years – and they figure you’ve come here with a bag full of buffalo nickels to spread around. When they find out you’re just a cultural relic from a forgotten age, they’re going to be pretty upset. We should leave.”

“We?”

“Yeah, listen, hah, funny story, I wasn’t even planning on stopping here, but my one-seater was getting low on juice so I figured I’d swing by and give the local meat a try. Suddenly, blam, couple of hooligans steal my ride right off the fueling pad.”

“I… if you know how to operate the controls, I guess we could go back to the ship later. I’d like… er, what do you think the local customs are here – between species I mean.

“Oh, Grud, You really are a tourist.”

“No! I just, I’ve never…”

“Listen, I’m sure there’d be plenty of takers here, but really, we should leave. I’ll personally take you on a Pervert Safari if you’ll lift me off this planet, but lets go all right? Wait, you don’t know how to operate this dingy? Seriously? You NEED me to come along, kid. Let’s roll.”

“Computer, that’s the computer that runs the ship, I think it was supposed to teach me how to fly the module, but we haven’t been speaking much lately.” Joe’s eyes were resting on a blonde endlessly entwining its golden hair around its fingers.

“Kid, you don’t understand the coincidences of the universe, you don’t want -”

“Bring me a female. Now.” Monk stated, hoping he sounded as convincing as Tarzan.

Macbeth brought his claws together with a rattle, then spent a moment hopping between his two legs. Finally he turned to the crowd, presenting a series of gestures that would have been lewd on any planet. Pulling in as much air as he could swallow, he followed the motions up with some verbal commands.

Some of the crowd entered discussion, but its largest part broke away, popping open hatches in the dusty plain and disappearing inside.

“All right, they’ll probably take an hour to decide who gets you, lets have a look at the controls while we’re waiting.” Macbeth hobbled up the ramp, Joe close behind.

By the time a frog and blonde pair appeared at the doorway, Macbeth was deep into a pre-launch checklist.

Joe followed them eagerly back down the ramp.

* * *

Ten minutes later the trio had returned.

“What’d’ya mean? You asked for a female. You’ve gotta be kidding me! What do you think this is all up here?” the imp said, waving a claw across Monk’s chest and then hooking the appendage in the direction of the blonde. “That’s where, you know, their business is at. The males uncoil and then they just bend over the lady frogs and -”

The contortions on Joe’s face cut the story short.

“Anyhow, kid, them’s the Kilmargon facts o’ life.”

Monk dropped heavily into a beige chair as the gnome shooed the locals down the ramp.

Without further discussion, Macbeth returned to the command console, his pincers dancing across the dials and sliders.

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 024 – The Charivari: A Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Twenty-Four.

Tonight’s story, The Charivari: A Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

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This episode is brought to you by Little Wing Children’s Things.

Cuz babies poop. A lot.

For product and ordering information search for Little Wing Children’s Things on facebook or email littlewingchildrensthings@yahoo.ca

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.

This evening we bring you the finale of our current Thomas Blackhall serial. In this chapter, we open with gun fire.

Flash Pulp 024 – The Charivari: A Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

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

The snap and flare of the Brown Bess brought Thomas to one knee, his ams preparing his Baker rifle with mechanical reflex.

His finger lay on the trigger, his heart sure he would once again have to end a man. It would be the first time since the sun drenched porticoes of Ciudad Rodrigo, and the war against the little dictator.

As the musket’s echo rolled from the clearing, a momentary stillness settled.

Mitchum Melbain broke the silence.

The naked youth had moved from the trees, his skinny legs fish-belly white in the moon’s glow, sobbing as he ran.

At this series of shocks, some amongst the hooded mob stepped back, seeking the safety of the forest’s shadow.

As the boy approached, the man who’d spent the evening berating the house began to issue commands. Another white satchel appeared in the musketeer’s grasp.

Thomas’ grip steadied.

The entrance to the cabin swung open.

The door had been built wide and tall, and yet the widow Bigelow was forced to stoop as she stepped from her home.

Squinting, she spoke:

“Is that you under there, Sam Allen – with your missing pinky, and one leg to too long – firing upon my cottage? It has been many a year since I’ve taken you over my knee, but by the grace of the Lord and the thousand chariots of his hoary host, I’ll send you to Nancy in such a condition she’ll be spoon-feeding you the baby’s millet for the next month.”

All force seemed to have left the gunman’s hands, weapon and satchel hung uselessly at his sides.

“You’ve shot and shattered the china platter given to me by Arthur’s Mother, on the morning of our marriage: Is your anxiety over my reputation lessened by the destruction of my service dish?”

The woman moved forward, her riot of gray hair a trailing cloud.

“If not, I believe I still have a half-dozen plates in good enough condition to meet your tastes.”

She stopped, placing her hands upon her hips, squaring her stance no more than an arms length from the mob’s leader. Her cotton gown rustled with the breeze. The man had flipped the bottle of gin he carried, and was now twisting at the neck of his makeshift club.

“It’s terrible enough,” she continued, “that you’ve come skulking onto my homestead after the witching hour, but must you all play at ghosts as well? In my day it was the reproached who felt a need to cover their shame during a charivari, not the gathered.”

Mitchum, muddied from his stumbling approach, finally reached the woman, falling to his knees and clinging at the hem of her nightclothes.

She extended a hand to stroke his head, lifting his face to look upon her own.

“It will be all right, my love. A quick spanking and these naughty boys will be soon off to their beds.”

“How dare you, harlot! How dare you corrupt one so young, how dare you speak to us as you would errant children!” The ragmen’s voice had once again found his throat.

“Ha! Without my walls to muffle your rantings, it all comes clear!” In her tone, Blackhall could hear the satisfaction of a puzzle solved. She began to point at the gathered masks. “Edward Smith? Willy Templer? Is that Sanderson the younger or elder under there? Arthur would not be pleased to see you behaving so.”

Their leader stepped forward, attempting to regain lost ground. His new position forced him to crane back his neck to meet the widow’s eyes.

“How dare the name of an honourable man such as Arthur Bigelow touch upon the lips of such a strumpet as would set up in his very house, unmarried, with a boy some four decades her junior!”

Despite his bluster, when the leader of the ragmen turned for affirmation, he found his small army huddled amongst the shadows of the treeline.

“Mitchum is a full two years older than you were when you married Chelsea Thompson and threw away your dowry on that fool’s errand you call an Inn. Yet lie not to me, Morton Van Rijn, this has little do with with whom I bed – it is my still you’ve come to smash, and like as not, you’ve carried that gin bottle as false evidence to place this ruckus at the feet of Constable Melbain’s ruffians.”

Thomas watched the remains of the mob disperse as if smoke on the wind, leaving only the rooted gunman and the visibly sharking Van Rijn to stand against the woman and her weeping beau.

“I! You! Arthur!” With his free hand, Van Rijn ripped at the confines of his mask, his breath coming in ragged gasps once his red face was exposed to the night’s air.

“Bring not my departed husband into this conversation again. I care not if you’ve sainted the wagon rut he attempted to run from the river to this field, ardent spirits would not be my business if your society had not taken it upon itself to whisper so about my time with Mitchum. Despite my service, no longer will the town entrust me with the suckling bottles for their babes – fine, then I shall supply the suckling bottles for their public houses. It is not easy to live as a marked woman of age, but I will not stand to be accosted by busy-bodies.”

The inn-owner howled, raising his glass club in a vicious arc.

For the first time that evening, Blackhall saw a look of fear cross the widow’s face.

The crack of shot once again filled the hollow amongst the trees.

A damp stain began to spread along the trouser-legs of the nearly forgotten musketeer. Dropping his weapon, he ran from the clearing.

With care, Van Rijn lowered the remains of his club, the shattered neck having opened a gash upon his palm.

A hundred yards away, Blackhall’s arms had once again found their training, and were busy slamming home a fresh load. Even as he worked the Baker rifle, his eyes remained fixed upon the moonlit trio.

The widow, her composure regained, leveled a finger of exile at the nearest pines, her gaze locked upon Van Rijn.

Slowly the man turned, the ruined pillowcase dropping from his grasp and onto the field below.

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.

Functional Friday

Flash Pulp
Tonight’s episode will cap our second month of putting out Flash Pulp, so I thought I’d throw out some stats:

Episodes: 23

Script Word Count Total: 20,946-ish (¼ of a short novel)
Total Run Time: 2h 37m 10s (4 minutes over Apocalypse Now.)
Shortest Episode: #5 – 03:45 – The Neighbourly Farmers*
Longest Episode: #22 – 12:48 – The Charivari: A Blackhall Tale, Part 1of3

Episode Breakdown:

Mulligan Smith Stories: 9
Thomas Blackhall Stories:  8
Kar’Wick: 2
Chiller: 2
Joe Monk & SF: 1 each

(*The last time I did this, I claimed the shortest was Red Mouth’s Legacy Pt 6 – I was wrong.)

Flash Pulp 023 – The Charivari: A Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Twenty-Three.

Tonight’s story, The Charivari: A Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Flash Pulp[audio:http://media.libsyn.com/media/skinner/FlashPulp023.mp3](Click play to listen or subscribe via libsyn RSS or iTunes)

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This episode is brought to you by OpopanaxFeathers.wordpress.com

Now with 20% more pixels!

That’s OpopanaxFeathers.wordpress.com

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.

In the second chapter of our current tale of Thomas Blackhall, we open upon our hero, unsure of his course, as he hunts hooded bandits through the timberlands of Lower Canada.

Flash Pulp 023 – The Charivari: A Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

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

The moon’s efforts made little difference amongst the brush at the base of the tall pines, and Blackhall’s greatcoat felt the pluck of many hidden briars as he pushed west.

He knew the men he followed were somewhere ahead, but dense forest and the desire for stealth had left him lagging. Still he crept on, experience having taught him patience.

As he moved he listened for a snatch of conversation on the wind and watched for the dancing shadows of a fire.

What little breeze stirred the stillness between the trees, ceased. Through the darkness came a noise – the rattle and clash of metal upon metal.

Blackhall, dropping all pretense of concealment, began to make his way north as rapidly as the entangling wilderness would allow.

His plunge was brought up short at a clearing, the moonlight finally reaching him unchecked. To the east was a house, small but well kept, and, at Blackhall’s estimate, some forty acres of plowed field beyond.

He had come upon the circular expanse at the southern most tip, but from his vantage point he could easily make out the white hoods of those he’d been hounding. Although he’d only noted two from his window, a dozen had gathered amongst the trees nearest the house. Most held pots and pans, and busied themselves rattling them together. At their center, their boldest member stepped forward, waving his gin bottle and shouting at the shuttered windows. The distance and ruckus prevented Blackhall from making out his words, but his agitation seemed genuine enough. What concerned him most, however, was the linen faced member who moved naught, but kept his musket close across his chest.

Frowning, Blackhall began to tread along the clearing’s edge, taking care not to reveal himself.

Two hundred yards from the gathering, he paused.

From amongst the clamor came something new – buried beneath the crickets and the mob, the sound of crying reached his ears. Pushing back his broad brimmed hat, he cocked his head, breathing in the humid air.

After a moment he crept forward in a duck walk, releasing his sabre from its scabbard.

With a slow hand he slid the point between the gnarled branches of a dense thicket, halting his advance as his hilt offered resistance.

He spoke:

“I apologize for interrupting in your time of distress, but I suspect you may be able to clarify a few things. If you’ll please join me amongst these shadows, I would have words with you.”

To Blackhall it seemed as if the bush were birthing, a boy crawling from its shadowed womb, the work of the scratching hands of the forest visible along his back, arms and legs. As the youth looked up, Thomas recognized the sandy hair, wide brow and small nose. He removed his coat, draping it about his companion’s bare shoulders. At closer range he could tell the boy was older than he’d first thought, yet still no more than one-and-twenty, with a child’s face and gawky limbs.

“Ah, you must be Constable Melbain’s errant brother?”

“Yes.”

“Your name then?”

“Mitchum.”

“Mitchum – we’ll briefly gloss the matter of your nude disposition, as expediency is likely best. Do you know why those men accost yonder house?”

“You are not with them then? It is a Charivari, sir. A warning to Mrs. Bigelow.”

In the distance the pot banging had moved from random chaos to a marching beat. The entire party was easily visible, now standing plainly away from the trees after finding courage in coordination.

Their center-man still led the slow advance, his rant unabated. Even at his distance, Thomas could see the damp circle of froth and spittle that had begun to form upon his linen guise.

“Your situation begins to explain itself. I have seen a few such rituals before, mostly amongst the French vineyards – I do not recall weapons or masks however. In fact, what I do recall is a lot of bawdy, out of tune singing, and copious local wine, all at the base of some red-faced couple’s window. It was often because an unpopular widow or widower had re-married before the end of mourning – has Arthur Bigelow been dead so short a time?”

“Arthur’s been in his grave nearly a decade. Patricia has been on this land for nigh fourty years, she practically raised this town, what right do they have to come slithering from the night to terrorize her?”

Thomas cleared his throat.

“Mitchum, I might guess by the daring of your attire, especially amongst so high a tide of mosquitoes, that they may have some dispute with your, uh, relationship with the widow Bigelow.”

The boy’s eyes hardened.

“Our business is ours, not my brother’s, nor the town’s.” He exhaled. “I must add, there is more than one motivation that might send an armed mob up from the village after Patty. Still, I am surprised that anyone would dare.”

“If you are here at the wildwood’s edge, where is Mrs. Bigelow precisely?”

“Well, we were taking a dip in the pond round back of the house when we heard the approach – she told me to git, and so I did. There’s a voice she has which’ll send you running to the trees without your clothes, and I was about where you found me when I could finally hear my brain over my pounding heart. My first thought was to run on for town and find Gareth, but it was my second that it was just as likely my brother was one of the intruders.”

As the boy talked, Blackhall’s eyes stayed upon the gathered throng.

The voice of the Ragmen ceased his raving, turning to the musket-bearer.

He pointed.

The man with the Brown Bess brought forth a white roll the size of a thumb, ripping at the end with his teeth.

Thomas stood, setting his sabre back at his belt and making a quick check of his Baker rifle’s breach.

“Come. Now.”

Making best efforts to stoop amongst the cover of the brush, he once again began to run.

He’d yet to cover half the distance before the gunman had primed and readied his weapon.

The thug lifted the long barrel, sighting the house through his hood’s ragged slits.

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 022 – The Charivari: A Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Twenty-Two.

Tonight’s story, The Charivari: A Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Flash Pulp[audio:http://media.libsyn.com/media/skinner/FlashPulp022.mp3](Click play to listen or subscribe via libsyn RSS or iTunes)

Download MP3

This episode is brought to you by the Flash Pulp fan page on Facebook.

Maybe it’ll draw people’s attention away from all those drinking pictures your friends just tagged you in.

Find it at here.

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.

This evening we bring you the first chapter in a new serial featuring Thomas Blackhall. In this episode, he encounters the town of Bigelow, a small settlement at the edge of civilization.

Flash Pulp 022 – The Charivari: A Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3

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

At the point where the Kakibonga dripped into the Winipekw, Thomas Blackhall stumbled across the town of Bigelow.

The hamlet was little more than a line of houses scratched into the riverbank, its center point marked by a single spoke thrust into the woods.

After weeks of scrambling through dense brush, eating only deer jerky and hand-caught fish, Thomas was startled to find himself at the end of that spoke, the mouth of an immaculate roadway open before him.

He ran his fingers along the weeks of growth at his chin, eying the scene.

The road itself rolled gently away towards the shore. Along the water’s edge ran another road, and at this corner stood a house that had grown beyond its seams, boxy additions thrusting out in every direction, some of the extensions connecting onto extensions of their own. The walls of the rambling structure were a solid white, but the doors and window frames had been marked in the brightest of the rainbow’s palette.

From a green door in the rear, a mustached man exited, an axe cocked over his shoulder.

He began to walk towards Blackhall, humming.

“Come to raise a glass?” shouted the man, when he finally spotted Thomas. There was scorn in his voice.

“In truth, I didn’t know there was a glass nearby to be held, but if yonder sprawling castle is an Inn, I could certainly find my thirst.”

Blackhall had moved to close the distance, and now offered a more formal greeting.

“Thomas Blackhall,” he said.

“Morton Van Rijn,” the man replied, taking the offered hand. “Welcome to Bigelow. I apologize, I mistook you for Lefevre, one of the local farmers. He often aims to walk the road before drinking himself into blindness, he claims it keeps him from getting lost on his way home. His beard is nearly as wild as your own, I dare say. Anyhow, whatever the foul excuse, the more whom use the road, the happier I am.”

Blackhall noted the man’s discreet attempt at wiping his hand clean as he talked.

“Well, if I might find a basin and a scrap of mirror, I’d be happy to do away with the confusion,” he replied, tugging at his whiskers. “I’ve come from the Western District, and it’s been some time since I’ve had to worry on polite company.”

Van Rijn’s face brightened.

“You’re more than welcome to board at The Loyalist. If you’ll honour me with news from the South over dinner, I’ll be happy to give you a room free for the night. Your thirst is your own affair however – while I run the finest Inn in two hundred miles, I do not sell ardent spirits. My wife and I are the founders of the Bigelow Temperance Society, whose ranks include the majority of the members of Bigelow worth acquainting. The town itself houses three hundred, with the same number again of farmers who’ve settled the clearings in the surrounding area – of those some twenty-five are members of the Temperance Society, no small feat for a place largely made up of woodsmen and mosquito-bitten field tenders.”

Thomas nodded.

“Whiskey must be no small problem if it was deemed necessary to organize against it.”

“Yes, well, what I meant was, outside the ranks of The Society, in Bigelow polite company is as scarce a commodity as sobriety. Despite the population there are no less than three public houses – well, two proper public houses and Ginny Melbain’s parlour. There is no proper law however, as Constable Melbain has little interest in enforcing against his sister’s enterprise, and the drunks would not stand to have the law applied inequitably.”

“What of this road then? This doesn’t seem like the work of lackadaisical liqour hounds,” Blackhall asked, glancing in the direction of his promised bed and basin.

Van Rijn’s hands swung wide, the axe still firmly in his grip, his broad face breaking into a grin.

“This road was founded by Arthur Bigelow, who also gave his name to the town, as its first inhabitant. I have taken up his worthy task, knowing full well that the legislature will not step in to regulate the principality without ease of access, access I intend to provide with this highway. Each summer I have pushed the forest back further than Bigelow’s original cut, and each spring I salt the ground to prevent the brush from retaking my progress. I regret that my duties at The Loyalist have prevented me from making it my full time occupation, but it is my hope to one day bring the full might of The Society to bear on the problem.”

In Thomas’ minds-eye, a vision of twenty-five of Bigelow’s most upstanding citizens zoomed out to encompass the distance required to interlink with the nearest settlement of size. His legs ached. He eyed Van Rijn’s single axe.

“A worthy task, and if you’ll pardon my currently grizzled appearance, I’ll gladly take you up on that offer of dinner. Who might I speak to at the Inn about a room?”

* * *

The accommodations were cramped but comfortable. After bathing and scraping clean his face, Blackhall found himself suddenly coming awake to a sharp rapping at his door, scarcely aware that he’d set his head upon his pillow.

“Yes, coming,” he muttered, running his fingers through his mussed hair.

To Thomas, supper seemed a long time in arriving, although the gathered members of The Bigelow Temperance Society filled the period with much talk. In the end, every aspect of the meal was too dry for his liking, but he found himself pleasantly surprised at how quickly the plates were cleared and the gathering dispersed.

As he stepped onto the veranda that faced out upon the river, Blackhall began his ritual of pinching Virginian tobacco into one of the fine Spanish papers he carried. As he completed his task, a passerby who’d been strolling the water’s edge set a booted foot upon the entryway’s lowest step.

“Well, this is certainly the first gentleman I’ve ever come to encounter as a stranger on this porch, might I ask your name?”

“Thomas Blackhall.”

“Ah, then the name’s not been twisted amongst the gossip. I am Constable Gareth Melbain. Do you have business in town?” The lawman called up a wad of phlegm and deposited it on the wood planks at his feet.

“I thought I might wet my throat, little more,” replied Thomas.

“I wasn’t sure of your character, given your meal company. Still, it seems to me you’ve come a long way to nowhere for a drink. Mayhaps it is because you’ve heard of Ginny’s parlour, found in the blue-washed house at the end of this same street. She’ll likely give you a sample if you mention my referral.”

With that, the constable moved off the stairs.

“One last thing: do not take Van Rijn’s word on Bigelow as gospel. I knew Arthur, and he was a good man, whatever his wife may have become.” The man walked a step, and turned back to face the still silent Blackhall. “- and yes, I fully admit my younger brother ought know better.”

He strolled on.

By the time Blackhall had burned his fingers upon the smoldering stub of his cigarette, the weight of the food and the song of the river had lulled him to a rest. Deciding to forgo town politics, he instead retreated to the interior of the inn, and took to chasing after his interrupted slumber.

* * *

He was brought awake hours later by the sound of two mares whinnying outside his window.

Cracking the thin white curtains, he took in the scene.

Some twenty drunks had gathered at the edges of the town’s sole crossroads – some along his window, some across the way, along the graying timbers that he’d been told were the outer wall of Pullman’s General Store. Many of the bystanders held lanterns high as five men stumbled about in the center of the gathering.

Two of the men were busy harnessing blinders upon the spooked horses, while another pair fended off the increasingly animated protests of the muddy shirted fifth.

Through the pane of glass, Thomas’ ears could make out the back and forth of betting amongst those arrayed along his vantage point.

Satisfied with their results, the two men who’d been working the lashings stepped back, one of them giving the guardsmen instructions to clear the way – as the man shouted Blackhall recognized the face as that of Constable Melbain.

With no little force the brutes emptied the road of the pleading man, and without delay Melbain began a countdown from three, which ended with both animals receiving a sharp whip blow. The sudden pain sent the beasts hurtling up the salted path and into the darkness between the pines.

Laughing, the crowd began to stream along behind, leaving the corner once again silent.

His sleep disturbed, Thomas dressed and shuffled into the common room.

Pulling a book from the shelf adjacent the fireplace, he settled into a nearby rocking chair.

* * *

As the embers sank into ash, a chapter’s worth of the history of Canterbury had been enough to once again put him on a path to sleep.

He slipped into his room, taking a moment to peek between the lace to ensure a lack of further disruption.

Motion amongst the shadows of the store caught his eye.

Creeping from the darkness came the shape of a man, the moon illuminating the white pillowcase that was taut about his face. The mask was held fast with a thin rope at the neck, and to allow vision, two ragged black holes had been cut from the linen.

The man moved away down the forest road, but before Thomas might stray from the window, the meager light gave away a second ragman, the gin bottle in his hand catching the night sky’s reflection.

His stupor forgotten, Blackhall strode quickly about the room, collecting together his satchel. Pulling his greatcoat over the sabre he’d strapped to his hip, he snatched up his Baker rifle and shouldered the pack that once again contained the entirety of his possessions.

With a last look into the lane way – now empty – he exited his room and stepped from the green door at the rear of the building, the night insects roaring their greeting.

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.