Category: Joe Monk

Flash Pulp 079 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Groupthink, Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Seventy-Nine.

Flash PulpTonight, we present Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Groupthink, Part 1 of 3
[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp079.mp3](Part 1Part 2Part 3)

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This week’s episode are dedicated to the recent marriage of Elektro and Anycheese – long may they live and love.

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

Tonight, Joe makes a prickly discovery while he and his companion, Macbeth, await repairs to their ship.

Flash Pulp 079 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Groupthink, Part 1 of 3

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

Macbeth, Joe’s claw-handed friend and advisor, was providing the future emperor of space counsel.

“You need to be on your best behaviour here. These folks are going to fix the ship after that little ding you put in it…”

“I’m sorry, everything was blinking and bleeping, I didn’t…”

“- we’ve already discussed it. It was your first time driving, and I don’t blame you, but now I need you to stay calm and, well, just don’t say anything, all right?”

Their giant egg of a spaceship was bleeding off speed as it approached the Lil solar system. There destination was the only habitable planet around the dwarf sun, Lol, known for its technical prowess, work ethic, and terrible cuisine.

“I’ll be good.” Joe said, his eyes locked on the monitor which displayed a blow up of the clouded atmosphere. “Are there any ladies there? I mean – human ladies? Or, pretty human at least?”

“No – and it’s best not to ask. The people of Lol are on a long life cycle, they only mate once every 80-something Earth years, and you’ll find nothing to interest you amongst the cactus people anyhow. Still, they work fast, and at a great price. You’re lucky I have some outstanding credit they owe me.”

Joe considered pushing the point, but he’d learned to read the tight snapping of Macbeth’s pincers to mean that the subject was closed. He stared down the monitor another moment, but, unimpressed with the planet’s progress in approaching, he opted instead to spend his time reading through an ancient tome of his people, The Da Vinci Code. He understood few of the references, but their cryptic nature assured him that the book must have been of great importance to his people, and he was happy that Macbeth had managed to locate it, as well as several other artifacts, for download at what the shelled-alien called a swap-meet.

* * *

He was nearly done his chapter when the ship finally found itself in a wide orbit around their destination. There’d been a series of taps at their airlock, to which Joe had been tempted to respond, but Macbeth had spent the time simply staring at him.

“Seriously. Please. Just keep your hands to yourself and don’t say anything,” he told Joe, after a long pause.

“I promise.” Joe replied, setting the book on his chair.

The airlock door slid back, revealing two multi-limbed cactus beings. They moved forward using their lowest offshoots as legs, although Monk could see little difference between the upper and lower extremities. The pair wore something he equated with overalls, with openings tailored to allow full movement to their prickly arms. At the end of each protrusion was a brown flower, which Joe realized were equivalent to fingers once half of the duo moved to Macbeth’s control panel and began to methodically punch buttons.

The remaining cactus motioned Joe and his companion back onto the shuttle it had arrived on.

The trip to the planet was short, which was just as well as Monk was disappointed to find the utilitarian craft windowless. The trio sat in near silence throughout the ride – Joe had twice attempted to ask questions only to be cut short by a shush from his friend.

The planet’s surface was bright and dry, although it seemed to the visiting earth-man that every inch had been used for construction. Gray buildings stretched into the sky, each entirely unadorned and unmarked as to its purpose. More of the cactii-inhabitants moved steadily about, maintaining prim rows, making no noise but the hiss of their needles against their coveralls. Each wore the same attire, although they seemed to be color coded – Monk noted that groups of browns clustered with groups of browns, and all of the motorized vehicles appeared to be driven by yellows.

He hadn’t attempted to ask any more questions on their way to the hotel.

“This is your room. Behave.” Macbeth said, his eye stalks extended to put his sight on level with Joe’s.

With one pincer he pushed the future emperor inside, and with the other he locked him in.

There was little to do but nap, and Joe quickly found himself snoring.

He awoke with a start when the door was suddenly opened from the exterior, and a cactus moved inside carrying a suction tube.

Joe stood, stretching from his sleep on the plush carpet, and began to question the intruding housekeeper as to its purpose. He’d seen the movie Maid In Manhattan twice, so his questions were somewhat facetious, but he longed for the company.

It was then that he saw the device implanted above what he might consider the roaming cactus’ collar line – a small metallic disc with a single green light on its left-most side. It seemed to him that whenever the maid stopped, the light would begin to blink rapidly, only ceasing once the maid was back to dusting or fluffing pillows.

Joe had spent the last several months taking in every television show that had ever been shot into space by his long dead race, and he knew now what he must do.

“Hive-mind slaves! I must save them!”

He strode from his room, left unlocked by the industrious cleaner.

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 066 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Surfing, Part 1 of 1

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Sixty-Six.

Tonight, we present Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Surfing, Part 1 of 1

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Flash Pulp page on Facebook.

It’s like a wild west show crashed into a Comic-Con.

To join, click here.

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

Tonight we present a tale from the education of Joe Monk, well before he became The Emporer Of Space.

Flash Pulp 066 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Surfing, Part 1 of 1

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

Joe Monk had been traveling with his new friend, the short and hard-shelled alien who called himself Macbeth, for three weeks. He’d learned a lot in that time, all at the alien’s insistence.

They had just completed another short history lesson.

“Ugh, listen, I appreciate your help, but I don’t really – I mean, that noise, that ghastly whine, I’d just rather not,” said Joe.

“These are the customs of your people!” Macbeth replied, his pincers working the ship’s controls. The giant egg’s engines began to throb as the Sagan drive prepared for more heavy lifting. “When you left Earth, space onboard was very limited – what you had in this crates’ libraries is nothing more than a thumbnail of what your civilization got up to before it was wiped out.”

Joe didn’t look convinced.

“Look,” Macbeth continued, “history is defined by the relics left by the civilization that created them. You need to understand what your people were doing – it takes a while, sure, but that’s sort of the nature of history.”

Macbeth hummed to himself over his own joke, a habit that bothered Joe, as he rarely understood what the gag was about.

“Fine,” Monk replied. Changing the subject was a trick recent to his repertoire, a trick he decided to employ. “What are you doing now?”

“Surfing,” replied Macbeth. “All of these things are moving in waves, and to catch what we need, we need to ride those waves. We speed the ship up – in this case we have to travel, uh, call it left, for seven light days – to get ahead of the waves moving through the ether, then we slow down a bit and let everything wash right over us. Well, it’s not quite that simple, really. The modifications I made to this heap are doing most of the work, but those are the basics.”

Joe lay down on his couch, preparing for the acceleration.

Not for the first time, he wished that the ship had picked a lush garden planet full of Betty Grable look-alikes to make its first landing on, instead of the toad-filled dust ball on which he’d found his companion-turned-tutor.

“Have you heard the story about the girl who eats the bad apple and meets seven short guys?” Macbeth asked, as he hobbled about – his stouter constitution allowed him free movement, even under the increased wear and tear of extreme g-forces.

Joe pretended to be asleep, indicating such with a comically-loud fake snore.

It was another something new he’d recently learned.

* * *

Hours later, they slowed, deploying software and sensor suites to suck up, filter, and reconstruct the useful bits of local radiation.

Macbeth shook Joe out of an actual nap.

“Time for another history lesson, kid.”

Monk stood, rubbing his eyes with his palms.

He could smell food in the air – Macbeth often enjoyed a snack during lesson time.

The pair took up their usual stations, and the viewing screen before them displayed the content the ship had siphoned from the deep black.

The familiar face of the screeching woman took up the entire monitor.

“Oh,” Macbeth hummed delightedly, “I’ve seen this one! Lucy goes to work at a factory, and…”

With a nod, Joe deployed another recently acquired skill: pretending to listen.

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

You should’ve listened to the audio version for the gag.

That’s MayTunes.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.

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 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.