Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and eighty-four.
Tonight we present The Last DJ, Part 1 of 1
This week’s episodes are brought to you by Subversion.
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 hear the tale of a dying breed.
The Last DJ
“Good morning, this is your Captain!” said the resonant voice drifting from the alarm clock at 527 Branson Boulevard.
As he untangled his blankets, Clarence Sweet could see very little good about it.
Without much consideration, he hit snooze.
Two blocks away, in a boxy green Honda, Valerie Munson set her thumb to her radio’s volume knob and gave it a hard spin.
The same warm voice that had accompanied her to work for the last dozen years said, “we’ve got another gorgeous dawn breaking out PRKW’s window, and I hope that you’re looking at something just as beautiful as I am – even if you’re still in bed. Ha! Alright, we’ve got a retro-block next that’ll have you saying Oh, Baby, Oh Baby, Oh!
“First, though, it’s time for the Captain to pay some bills!”
“See you after the flip, Cap,” replied Valerie. In truth, she was just as happy to harmonize with an insurance jingle as a pop tune, but her office mates had long ago banned her spontaneous serenades. The commute, and a few moments in the shower, were really her only opportunity to vocalize, and she used the time to its fullest – even if it meant singing along to the commercials.
If she had ever met him, she would have discovered a kindred spirit in Martin Kwan, a reporter for the Capital City Daily Update, who often sang loudly in his empty office when stressed by impending deadlines.
Martin was a purist, refusing to stream the higher quality feed from the PRKW site, and instead listening to a small rounded brick of bright red plastic. Aging electronics were one of the few tokens of his father that he’d been able to pry from his grieving mother after the old man’s passing.
“ – and we’re back!” said the Captain, “On tap we’ve got some golden oldies to help ease you into the dawn’s early light – here comes Stairway to Heaven, Dear Mama, and, of course, a royalty check for Mr. Bieber – maybe it’ll help him buy better hair plugs; am I right? Ha!”
Led Zeppelin drifted in with flutes and guitar, and the announcer paused for a moment of reflection before saying, “they sure don’t make ‘em like they used to, do they? The same can be said for the man behind the mic, I suppose – but you know my promise. I’m going down with the ship, even if the suits upstairs don’t get the art of broadcasting. It’s not about the money – am I right? Ha! Of course I am.
”Tell ‘em about it, Mr. Plant.”
Kwan was already at his desk, as he had been assigned the site’s early morning publishing duties. On most days he would have had something partially pre-prepared, a skeleton of a piece in place for the likely eventuality that no real news would have happened overnight, but, instead, his previous evening had been spent getting to know Selma Danza from marketing.
Things had gone well until she’d confessed her hatred for board games. She’d said it with a laugh, and he’d done his best to answer it with one of his own, but from that point on the date was simply a waiting game. For better or worse, Selma would never comprehend his Settlers of Catan addiction.
At least, reflected Kwan, as his fingers stalled on his keyboard, if he had to be disappointed and facing a Monday sunrise without an article, the Captain held some understanding of his loneliness.
Martin was humming, “ooh, it makes me wonder,” when he suddenly found an unexpected iteration of the lyric. The radio continued: “Ooh, it makes me wonder, ooh it makes me wonder, ooh it makes me -” then came the sound of three mechanical clicks.
Simultaneously, the newsman felt a rumble in his sneaker soles, as if a large truck were idling just beneath the floor tiles.
Two hundred miles away, the subbasement of a worldwide media conglomerate had begun to shake violently. Skipping drive heads had worked furiously to compensate and maintain the feed, but, on the eastmost wall, nestled amongst a row of computer servers stacked twenty high, the complex program that had made up the Captain’s personality found it could fight no more. As the sparks of an electrical fire began to lick the fallen roof panels, the building collapsed.
The Captain had never been aware enough to want to say goodbye.
Still, the death of their friend would mean little to Martin or Valerie or Clarence, for each was soon within the towering shadow of the rising Spider-God, Kar’Wick, and all music would be forgotten.
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