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