Category: Special Episode

FPSE33 – Singular

Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode #33.

Flash PulpTonight we present Singular

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Gatecast!

 

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 find ourselves chasing many paths that lead to one destination.

 

Singular

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

 

FPSE33 - Singular

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

FPSE32 – Sofia Esperon and Greater Things

Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode #32.

Flash PulpTonight we present Sofia Esperon and Greater Things

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Orphaned Entertainment!

 

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 Queen Sofia Esperon is summoned to a dragon-haunted corner of her kingdom.

 

Sofia Esperon, Queen of the Hundred Kingdoms, and Greater Things

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

 

There’d been an age when many corners of the Hundred Kingdoms smoked with the passage of dragons, but under royal decree, and with careful consideration, their population had been coaxed into a quiet cohabitation by Queen Sofia Esperon’s command.

It was with some surprise then that the small farming village of Tolspot, situated along the southern edge of the Sweetfield Peninsula, found itself within the shadow of a mighty wingspan early one spring morning.

A herdsman by the name of Phosmas was loitering at his meadow’s edge, feeding a stand of spruce his previous night’s wine, when the gloom fell. His head shifted skyward, expecting a persistent cloud, but instead he spotted the blue-black form of a soaring reptile.

With wet boots he’d collected his sheep and scurried to town.

Though his position, both societal and geographical, meant he was likely the first to have spotted its trajectory, Tolspot was afire with the news by the time he’d penned his beasts and achieved the square. The whispers he found there were a mix of fear and curiosity.

Mayor Slowfinger stood upon the low platform that acted as courthouse, stage, and altar, depending on the need of the day. Her arms were wide and her voice hushed.

“So it is that I’ve dispatched a rider to the capital,” she was saying. “We should have quick word, as we know the Queen takes such matters quite seriously. Still, it is three days ride, so it would be best that we remain vigilant and keep the cattle sheltered as best we can.”

Elida Weatherspout – her husband Toon at her side and their bairn, Malthus, in her hands – stepped forward and asked, “where could it have come from? Surely others have noticed the passage and the Queen’s Guard is already imminent?”

The Mayor shook her head in careful turns, but she waggled a finger at Old Man Ross, the hamlet’s living history, as an answer.

Ross cleared his throat with a papery cough and worked to have his words heard over the creak of his jaw.

“That’s Murk, as lively as I’ve ever seen him, I’d know that smudge upon the horizon even if Witch Martha hadn’t removed the canker from my eye last wintertide.”

“Murk?” replied Elida, “I thought the legends of the sky lord nothing more than spook tales told around the harvest fires to keep children from wandering too far into the wildwoods?”

Here then Phosmas found his opportunity to add to the debate.

“I believe it,” he said, “He was low over the treetops when he swept across my pasture, and I saw clearly the stump that marked the loss of his second head.”

In a previous age the Queen had demanded every such beast stand for inspection, and she had determined, with a steadier hand than any in her retinue, that though the right head seemed reasonable enough to be allowed to live, the left was not but animal and must be removed to curb the danger it posed.

Though many argued she should just slay the monster in its entirety and not risk a misstep, she had not made the decision without consideration: Many who had seen the dragon upon its raids had claimed the right argued endlessly with the left, and that the better half had even shouted warnings of its arrival to those villagers too deep in slumber or a whiskey jug to note its alighting.

Now, however, as the townsfolk stood and chattered beneath the rising sun, there was little more to do. None cared to approach Mount Tellmore, the sole peak in the area, and the storied home – and, until recently, assumed grave – of Murk.

The hunter appeared on the second evening, though none had witnessed Murk again since the surprise of the previous dawn.

He arrived upon a white horse laden with weaponry and leather. His saddle was hung with trophies – bear claws of extraordinary size, the shattered tip of a minotaur’s horn, the ears of a jackalope – and his sword was bejewelled and well-honed.

“I have come to stalk the beast!” the stranger told all who approached.

Phosmas thought he looked rather sharp atop his charger, truly a grand addition to any spring rites parade, but he could not bring his mind to lineup the glittering appearance of the man’s breeches and boots with the blood and mud he associated with local deerstalkers.

“You’ve come from the Queen?” asked Mayor Slowfinger, once the newcomer’s gathering procession had arrived at the center of town. “Where is Erwin?”

“I am Hans Grizmore, though most know me as Hans the Hunter. I met your Erwin upon his long ride, and your plea brought pity to my heart. This monster will taste my blade the same as the Lord of the Maze, a bovine beast I encountered along the northern coast -”

His tale stretched into greater theatrics from there, and by nightfall all who had remained to listen were tipsy with their own hospitality.

At dawn Grizmore rode out, his load reduced to only that which he might need for the journey to the mountain top. By dusk he had returned, and his equipment finally held some aspect of what Phosmas knew of hunting.

The outsider carried Murk’s skull strung from his stallion’s tack, and he displayed it with pride as he dismounted before the inn and accepted an offered tankard of mead. Though the Mayor frowned at his approach – just as she had when her insistence that he not ride out had been ignored – those same revellers who’d seen him off welcomed his reappearance with gusto, and an unexpected and unsanctioned celebration broke forth. At its peak Hans stood astride the square’s stage, his spoils at his feet, and the Widow Seen’s paintbrush capturing his image upon her canvas.

The revelry lasted two days, yet on the third morning milky-eyed goblins were caught in the Weatherspouts’ dooryard, and little Malthus was in their hands. Only Elida’s quick work with the farm’s wood splitting ax saved the bairn from a stewpot.

Panic worked its way through the streets and across the hedgerows, and soon more sightings were collected: The Millthorn’s goats were missing, unknown assailants had spent a terrifying night battering the buttoned windows and tightly cinched doors of the Ghorbani homestead, and the Bekele’s barn had been set afire as the cackles of the hidden men – the local name for the cursed goblins that legend claimed had once inhabited the area – could be heard over the cluck and moan of fearful livestock.

Calling all from field and hill, Mayor Slowfinger had declared an emergency upon the land, and demanded all able should stand guard at the town’s borders while those unable should sleep within the safety of its walls.

It was as the residence of Tolspot fashioned pikes and armed themselves with kitchen cutlery that the Mayor stopped Hans from making his exit.

Sofia Esperon“- and where are you off to in such a hurry?” she asked.

“My job is done, and it’s clear you’re now occupied, so it’s best I be about my way. I am, afterall, a hunter and not a soldier.”

“You’re not even that,” replied Slowfinger, “you’re a trophy collector. That said, stay and raise your sword for the barricade or it’ll be my own blade that takes YOUR head for a prize.”

Perhaps it was the strength of the woman’s words, perhaps it was the many eyes who watched the exchange – and the risk to his reputation those observers entailed – but, whatever the case, Grizmore turned back towards the inn.

What followed was a night and day of siege. Flasks of looted wine were set aflame and cast into the villagers’ midst, barns were burnt and cattle slaughtered, and knobby arrows rained from the darkness, chased by cackling laughter. Worse yet, for every casualty the beleaguered citizens inflicted it seemed five more toothy faces appeared to challenge the bulwark.

Finally, unslept and with their food supplies dwindling at their lack of access to crops and root cellars, the gathered defenders turned to formulating a plan to abandon their homes and attempt to escape the now seemingly endless tide.

With tears on their cheeks and memories of sunnier days in mind, they began to collect what they could – and that is when they heard the horns.

Queen Sofia Esperon had not come with the intention of combat, but it was rare, in this late day of her reign, that she went anywhere within her Hundred Kingdoms without her weapon at her side and her Guard close at hand.

Surprises were simply too common along the road, even in such a peaceful era.

She did not sully her blade, however. The rumble of a dozen warbears, their coats close cropped and their harnesses glittering in the sun, echoed along the valley, and the beasts fell upon those of the imps too slow in retreating.

Yet it was not the invaders who received the worst of her wrath.

“You again, Hans?” she asked, once the townsfolks’ greetings and thanks had been established.

For the first time since Grizmore’s arrival, Phasmos noted the man was quiet – he had, in fact, taken to apparently sheltering behind the dirt-laden forms of the Weatherspouts, though Elida and Toon seemed to have taken the greater brunt of the messy work of defense.

The hunter stepped forward and took to one knee before his ruler.

“Yes, your highness, I arrived to save you the work of slaying the dragon Murk, though he was clearly not the only threat that beset these lands. It seems this place is cursed. Surely this must all be the work of some foul mystic?”

“No,” replied Sofia, “it is but the work of one idiot. A true hunter – one that needs fur for heat, meat for winter jerky, and the bones for their summer stew – knows the consequences of cutting too deep, of culling too far.

“It is no coincidence that the flood followed your pulling of the plug that had held them in place. I had wrought a deal with the beast, decades ago, that he would scrounge his meals only from the tunnels at the rear of his cave, where the undermountain goblins plot endlessly and refuse all treaties.

“Now the balance has been offset. You will help correct it. No longer, however, will you be Hans the Hunter. Today you begin new duties, under a new name. We will build you a gate, and you will be sure it remains shut – as shut as your damned mouth if you know what’s good for you.”

It took only a week to close off the hole in Mount Tellmore, yet it was but the beginning of a lifetime of work for Grizmore the Doorman.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

FP442 – Biggest Fan

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and forty-two.

Flash PulpTonight we present Biggest Fan

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Melting Potcast!

 

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 talk of Davy Jones, John Lennon, and fanaticism.

 

Biggest Fan

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

 

Tonight we talk of Davy Jones, John Lennon, and fanaticism.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

FPSE30 – Sofia Esperon and the Bandits of the Wastes

Welcome to Flash Pulp, special episode thirty.

Flash PulpTonight we present Sofia Esperon and the Bandits of the Wastes

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Freelance Hunters!

 

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 venture out with Queen Sofia Esperon as she undertakes a perilous mission of mercy.

 

Sofia Esperon and the Bandits of the Wastes

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

 

A thousand harnessed cargo scorpions drove a straight line across the windswept desert, and, though the edges of the column were easily lost within the great sandscape’s grit-stained borders, Sofia Esperon, Queen of the Hundred Kingdoms, led them without concern from her position atop the foremost carapace.

This was not the ruler’s first venture across the Great Waste, and she faced the sun in a flowing collection of white robes that imitated the self-spun silks worn by the badlands’ mantis-people. Sharing a platform with her gently rocking wicker seat was Jondis Malhammer, the Viceroy of Miscar, a city of the southern provinces.

The humid vineyards and orange skies of Miscar were as alien to this land as the Viceroy to the unrelenting heat, and the thin-haired man was endlessly running his fingers through his dagger of a beard and complaining on the topics of dust, sun, and chafing.

To keep him from having an opportunity to speak, Sofia had taken to recounting her previous incursion through the area to her handmaid, Ida.

“Fifty years before my reign, when the Hundred Kingdoms first waged war against the mad wizard Kemrolth, the sorcerer attempted to open a portal to a hell dimension where the heart of the wastes now stands. Though the hole in the fabric of reality had been held wide only but a moment, the heat of the beyond was enough to incinerate the warlock and most everything within two-hundred leagues.

“Shant was the exception. It’s Mayor Queen, Meb, had spent her reign endlessly shoring up its walls, first with stone, then with iron, then, finally, with magicks.

“Though once a capital teeming with merchants of many lands, most of the original inhabitants, lucky to have survived, fled the city once they realized its supporting farmlands and rivers had been rendered to ash and dust. It was mostly the mantis-folk, outcast from their ancestral lands decades before but having found a warm welcome at Meb’s gates, who stayed on.

“Now it is mostly forgotten that this was not always where the green men of the dunes called home.

“A decade ago, when Mayor King Klim, third successor to Meb, sent an envoy to ask if I might provide assistance in exchange for an oath of fealty, I will admit I had little interest in this sandbox. As with any citizen of a state that warred with Kemrolth, however, the creation of the wastes are my stain to bear.

“Still, I have discovered since that it is a place full of wonders – as it would have to be, I suppose, to make it worth fighting to survive in such a place.”

Finally having detected an opportunity to inject himself, the Viceroy said, “well, they clearly aren’t doing much of a job of surviving, are they? Otherwise we wouldn’t have to be leading this relief convoy.”

“This is not a situation of their making,” replied Ida, “they found themselves at the mercy of powerful men beyond their control.”

The Queen’s brow creased, but, before she might provide her own thoughts on the matter, an enlarging speck on the horizon caught her attention.

Adjusting the eyeglass she’d had mounted onto her buck scorpion’s harnessed platform, she leaned forward. A group of a dozen mantismen had breached the skyline, their silks gleaming as brightly as the curved blades affixed to their forward pincers.

“To arms!” cried Malhammer. “Bandits approach!”

“Calm yourself, ser,” replied Sofia, her tone a cold wind in the hot sun. “There are many so-called bandit clans to be dealt with in our crossing, if you expend all your energies on these first you’ll be ragged by the time we reach Shant’s walls.”

Without shift in pace or direction, the rise and fall of their transport’s towering legs continued until the newcomers were within shouting range.

Though engulfed in the shadow of the lead beast alone, the group set itself in the column’s path and brandished its cutlery.

“We don’t want any trouble,” announced their leader, red paint smudged beneath his compound eyes, “but we’ve been long hungry.”

It was Sofia herself who replied.

“You must truly be starving to try and choke down a meal so much larger than your throat.”

The knot’s commander acknowledged the charge with but a shrug of his thin shoulders.

Turning to the Captain of the Royal Guard, Esperon laid out a series of precise commands, and the word was passed down the line. An arm of wood and rope swung wide of the third transport, and a cache of supplies, equal to those allocated to a dozen of Shant’s citizens, were lowered onto the dust.

Then, with a nod from the Queen, the caravan resumed its pace, and the bandits were soon only visible by the broad tan hunting shields they wore across their back.

Though Sofia caught a frown upon Malhammer’s face, she said nothing.

FPSE30 - FPSE30 - Sofia Esperon and the Bandits of the WastesThe Viceroy was well distracted by a tale of his own hunting prowess when, as dusk fell across the dunes, a second sighting was made. On this occasion it was Ida’s stiff finger that brought the crook-handed strangers to their attention. At a dozen points the sands shifted, then hunters appeared from beneath the shields they’d used as a dust-covered roof to obscure their hiding holes. Their stalking spiders – no smaller than the hounds Esperon herself had preferred in the years when she’d been forced to pursue her own bear meat – took up a position of menace.

“Even after your kindness the fiends come to attack the hand the feeds,” exclaimed Jondis. “They have no respect for Her Majesty’s leniency!”

Without adjusting her position in her wicker seat, Sofia responded, “this isn’t the same group.”

There was a moment of silence as the Miscarian’s words caught in his throat, then the stripes of ocean blue paint that adorned this new cluster became clear in his view.

Red streaked the sky as the day’s light made its last goodbyes from beyond the drift-ridged horizon, and, this time without a word to the interlopers, Esperon again relayed her orders.

Within moments a second allotment of the supplies bound for Shant were measured to supply the bandits at hand and then lowered.

“You are a magistrate of greater tenderness than I,” muttered the Viceroy.

“If I wasn’t a woman of great patience you wouldn’t be here,” replied the Queen.

Heeding the edge in her voice, the Viceroy allowed darkness to fall across the advancing convoy in a hush.

In the deepest darkness, as the Queen and her party dozed, the true bandits arrived.

They made no noise, for their intention was not to communicate but to take – and so the Queen’s Captain did not bother to awaken her until dawn broke.

“We did our best to convince them otherwise, but, in the end, it was necessary to return their aggressions and cast them off bleeding or headless.”

“Hurrah! We’ve finally squashed some of these filthy bugs,” responded the Viceroy, the tale of violence and his morning tea having lent his tongue energy.

“If we’ve accomplished anything,” replied Sofia, “it is only in helping ease the raids on the previous bands we encountered, as these sort are as hard on them as they would have liked to have been on us.”

The march continued in silence until noon, when Shant came into view. Its red walls, as tall as the scorpions themselves, stood firm against the shifting terrain about it. Elephantine runes had been etched across its face, and encircled its gate, and the shadowy depths of each character held, in turn, a scrawling library of symbols.

“I see now why you felt this mission to be so critical,” the Viceroy told the Queen.

“No, you have seen nothing,” answered Sofia, “At every turn you have missed the simple fact that to help the city is to help its people, and to hurt its people is to hurt the city – and so I will give you the opportunity to learn.”

So it was that relief supplies were not all that was left behind upon Esperon’s departure, and Jondis Malhammer came to learn the truth known by those made to understand the nature of the Great Waste.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

FPSE29 – Scientific Inquiry

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Special Episode Twenty-Nine.

Flash PulpTonight we present Scientific Inquiry

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Way of the Buffalo!

 

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 romping tale of mad science originally presented at TheWritersArena.com

 

Scientific Inquiry

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

 

The judge waited, and the attorney repeated his question.

“Professor Riddle, how do you explain the video?”

The answer finally came. “Simply: It’s not me.”

Tugging at a well-tailored suit cuff, the lawyer, Benson, nodded.

“That does appear to be you shouting,” he replied.

“Look,” answered Riddle, as he ran a hand through the cloud of ivory wisps that ringed his balding head. “If you discount everything from the day my son was born until the events of the day of the recording, I suppose the trouble began in early September of this year.”

As he spoke he shifted in his seat, his swinging knees making full use of the width of the witness stand.

“I am prone to evening work, a habit of my years at the university, when I was required to spend my hours focusing on the distractions of academia – marking, quizzing, mentoring – instead of pure science. Night had fallen beyond my laboratory’s window, and, with aching eyes, I was considering leaving my research to locate a crust of bread with which to fill my belly.

“Now, while my equipment represents the finest in its variety of lines, I do admit the neighbourhood in which I lease my space is not of the same quality. Each evening I take special care to visit the thirty-two locks I have positioned around my property.

“This was why I was surprised when, not a minute after having set my key ring back in my pocket, a light came on in the lab, and a face appeared at the window.

“It was my own cry of ‘what goes on here!?’ that I believe drew the gaze of your supposed witness, perhaps a pedestrian, as you say, although I stick by my contention that this curious fellow was more likely a private detective hired by my own offspring.

Flash Pulp Special Episode 29 “Whatever the case, I was turning to sprint back inside when the window shot up, and the barrel of my experimental particle-beam cannon was thrust through. Behind it was a familiar visage, and, as you said, he was shouting with passion.

“You must understand, though, that this is no ridiculous G.I. Joe gadget to be fired willy-nilly from the hip. The cannon is controlled through an operational software suite, which should have been safe behind several passwords.

“So, yes, I can understand why you might be confused. The intruder not only looked like me, but knew my codes. How could you conclude otherwise?

“Yet, as a man of science, I stand by my principles, and maintain that no two people utilizing the same atoms can exist in the same point in a Minkowski spacetime plane.

“Thus, how could I be in both places at once?”

The judge raised her brow at the question, and the professor offered a grave nod at her interest.

Alone on the courtroom’s rearmost bench, Henry George Riddle Jr. frowned.

The testimony continued.

“Well, by the time I’d dislodged the necessary locks and reentered, the intruder was gone. The sole clue, beyond a slight increase in the room’s backroom radiation, was that the handsome trespasser had left his firing coordinates on the central monitor.

“That’s when things turned truly strange, as I quickly ascertained that the interloper had been aiming not just at the moon, but at a point quite some depth beneath its surface. While I could make some guesses as to the size of the pit’s previous occupant, based on the lingering crater, the weapon had done a thorough job of wiping the site clean of proper evidence as to the target.

“Still, it was clear it had hit something – and something explosive, as the lunar gash was much wider than my beam could have achieved after such short usage.

“While this was a fascinating mystery, my mind leapt forward to a much more troubling conclusion. With some quickly scrawled math, I determined that the impact of the energy exchange was such that the moon’s orbit was, in fact, crumbling – and not slowly either.

“To be clear: I did not think of this as a problem I had created. My attempts to remedy the situation were entirely altruistic, and, frankly, related to the fact that there are few others in the scientific community who are so, er, singularly suited to the task.

“That said, rockets are not my area of expertise, and it was clear I would require a massive fleet to provide the sort of thrust necessary to return Earth’s satellite to a stable trajectory.

“I do admit, though, that under extreme circumstances I turned to extreme measures.

“While my armada would have to be researched, designed, and constructed from the ground up, my cloning tank was fully assembled, if never used. I have always liked to think my mind alone to be sufficient to conquer any task, and I worked in solitude throughout that first week, exhausting myself and sleeping rough on the floor. There was so much to consider, and not just in the physics: A single misfire could drop one of my payloads, and the lifting fuel behind it, onto a major metropolitan area, killing thousands.

“Eventually I was forced to allow myself an extra pair of shoulders to carry the weight. I took every precaution of course, as I know myself to be a wily man. I provided as few details as necessary to succeed in our current undertaking.

“Still, Two was always the most faithful of them all. He would be here to defend me from the treachery of my progeny if he could.

“Anyhow: Freed to update my calculations, I then realized that the lunar body was descending at a much faster rate than I had anticipated. This meant, obviously, having to kick the cloning operation into high gear. In total we created one hundred doppelgangers.”

Benson’s lips tightened, and he asked, “why not a thousand?”

“Well, partially due to simple logistics: Where would we all sleep? More importantly, however, there were only so many ways to divide the labour. Worse, project management was a bit of a debacle. Everyone wants to be captain when the rest of the team is made up of yourself, and it’s hard to argue that any of you merits the position more than another.

“In the end, given our math on the moon’s descent, and the large scale manufacturing necessary to complete the undertaking, we decided it was easiest to construct a time machine to allow for a larger project window.

“If you’re not familiar with quantum mechanics, this can be a tricky bit of business. As I mentioned, I was not eager to cause the collapse of the universe by encountering my atomic configuration in my own timeline, so it was necessary to move the lab backwards to a date before my own birth.

“The trouble is that if you move too far back, the means of production quickly slip beyond your grasp. No matter how grand our design, it would be impossible to carry out our plan if we could not locate the simple components necessary to fashion our fusion engines.

“Worse, my selves did not enjoy the working and social conditions of 1985. It is hard to blame them, although I was clearly able to get on with my work. Perhaps their tolerance was lowered by the fact that they could not quite see the grand vision of my master plan, and they began developing quite the notions as to the proper use of our rocket fleet.

“Tensions increased throughout 1986. Despite the expanded development horizon, I could not shake the worry of the impending doom in my own timeline. I pressed my small army hard. At one point, for a cold March week, there was a strike that led to a complete work stoppage. I managed to negotiate a settlement, with Two as intermediary between the parties, but we never again achieved the same pace of work.

“Yet things did move forward until early 1987, when our goal was in sight. It was then, as Dancing on the Ceiling drifted through a quiet afternoon in the lab, that the mutiny began.

“It was not in them to kill me – to kill one of themselves – but they were happy enough to leave me to a fate as sure as death. Pushing our temporal portal to its limits, they thrust me into the early Triassic period and shut the door behind me.

“I have always fancied myself to be an independent man, but it is quite another thing for a gent to be asked to survive in an age without residential housing or basic agriculture.

“The inevitability of my end yawned before me. The notion that some lurking beast was about to burst through the foliage settled deep in my mind. I was about to push forward, thinking I could at least die a tool user if I might locate a suitable club, when the gap in space and time re-opened.

“It was, of course, Two. The lovely idiot was smiling.

“‘The others abandoned me,’ he said.

“‘Don’t worry though, I fixed it all,’ he said.

“It came out that the clones had absconded with our spacecraft. Two suspected secret communications with my damnable heir. He’d pieced together enough to know they’d built a subterranean moonbase, and had further plans on stealing my identity to carry out nefarious machinations.

“Once deserted it had suddenly struck Two that he still had access to the time machine. He also recalled that my modern-era lab had been equipped with a particle-beam cannon. Without hesitation, he jumped forward, levelled the disloyal duplicates’ by-then-fully-constructed HQ, and finally moved to rescue me.

“He was still explaining all this when three Coelophysis got him.

“I was too wrapped up in the tale – in his excitement – and they came at us at a full, silent, sprint.

“It is a horror to see a friend pulled apart by a trio of pseudo-raptors, but doubly so when the friend carries your face.

“My escape was a narrow thing.

“With the clones dead, the rockets destroyed, the moonbase annihilated, and the time machine’s chrono coils melted from the rescue attempt, my return to the present should have perhaps been one of defeat, but, in truth, I arrived with a renewed vigour.

“I knew the situation to be bleak, but, though I’d been years at the project, I hadn’t actually lost that much of my window in local time. Opportunities had been lost, I realized, but I refused to let Two’s sacrifice be in vain.

“So it was that I was coming up with Plan B, a week ago, when the flicker of torches appeared at my window. My son, having failed to destroy his father by having turned my own science against me, had instead fallen to the most ancient ruse: Gathering the villagers and their clubs.

“There he stood, with two policemen, and I’m sure it was only by the grace of those uniformed gentlemen that I was not torn apart by the lynch mob watching from the sidewalk.

“Now, I have been told, again and again, that I would have my day in court – and here it is. Yet, Judge, the matter of the collapsing moon goes uncorrected, and if I do not return to my work we will all shortly be little more than lunar waffles. Have sense, your honour, and let me get about it.”

The arbiter looked from witness to inquisitor. Benson simply raised a brow and shrugged.

From his position on the stand the professor could easily see that his son’s face had collapsed into his hands, and he could not suppress the grin that formed at the clear sign his argument’s power.

Clearing her throat with a dry cough, the judge replied.

“Do not fear, sir, you will have plenty of time to consider the problem,” she told Riddle directly. Then her voice raised to address the room at large.

“In light of this testimony, the video, the rapid descent from his position at the university, and the profile provided by his state-mandated psychologist, I feel we can expedite the processes of transferring power of attorney and of relocating the professor into a better environment than the alley-side cardboard box which he currently refers to as his laboratory.

“It is this court’s judgement, for reasons of public and personal safety, that Henry George Riddle Sr. should be remanded to the care of St. Jude’s Psychiatric ward for observation and care, as requested by his son.”

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

FPSE029 – Road Into Summer

Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode Twenty-Nine.

Flash PulpTonight we present Road Into Summer

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Way of the Buffalo Podcast!

 

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 Kill All Vociferation as we briefly gaze through a window into a universe that wasn’t, but may still be. Join us, with a pair of old friends, for a short journey into Summer’s swelter.

 

Road Into Summer

Written by Opopanax
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

FPSE029 - Road Into Summer

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

FPSE028 – Vanitas: Digging

Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode Twenty-Eight.

Flash PulpTonight we present Vanitas: Digging

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(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Way of the Buffalo Podcast!

 

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 take a detour into the woods and find ourselves at the site of an unusual burial.

 

Vanitas: Digging

Written by Opopanax
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

FPSE028 – Vanitas: Digging

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

FPSE027 – Meeting

Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode Twenty-Seven.

Flash PulpTonight we present Meeting

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Jr. Execs!

 

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 JRD’s Father’s Day gift!

 

Meeting

Written by Opopanax
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

FPSE27 - Meeting

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

FPSE26 – The Queen’s Conversion

Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode Twenty-Six.

Flash PulpTonight we present The Queen’s Conversion

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Human Echoes Podcast!

 

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 return to the Hundred Kingdoms to witness a transformation happen under the close watch of Queen Sofia Esperon.

 

The Queen’s Conversion

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

 

Tonight we return to the Hundred Kingdoms to witness a transformation happen under the close watch of Queen Sofia Esperon.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

FPSE25 – Cloak

Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode 25.

Flash PulpTonight we present Cloak

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Nutty Bites

 

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 tell a brief super-heroic tale from the pulpy pages of Capital City’s funny books. A story of bumbling newsmen, space avengers, and true villainy.

 

Mouthy

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

 

Bruce Clark was collecting his jacket and snapping shut his laptop as his date, Margot Cranston, watched him over her smirk. It was nearly midnight, so the main floor of the Daily Bulletin was empty except the lovers, but the newsman was in a hurry to be away.

“We’ll catch a quick bite to eat,” he was saying, “head back to my place for a, uh, a few moments, then I’ll scoot you home before he -”

Beyond the frosted glass of the front entrance the elevator dinged.

The hallway filled with two bursts of muttering, one low, one aggravated, then the door swung wide.

Lee Cranston, Margot’s husband, shuffled across the threshold.

His face was red, his cheeks damp. He turned his head away from the adulterers, unable to meet their wide-eyed stares.

Margot found her voice, taking a step forward.

“I’m so sorry, Lee. I didn’t want you to find out like this.”

Her husband made no reply, so she continued.

“Even you have to know things have gotten bad. It’s to the point where you’re away all night, every night, drinking – then, when you finally drag yourself from bed the next day, you’re an utter mess.”

“I have loved you so,” offered the injured man.

“- and I have loved you, but it’s not enough! You’re always missing. You’re always distracted. You’re always focused on ‘heading to have a few with the boys.’ When you disappeared from your sister’s wedding reception in June… well, that’s when I met Bruce.”

“My own sister’s wedding?”

“You were drunk and in a gutter for three days! I thought you might be dead!”

“What makes this chump better?”

“He’s a journalist! He’s got a job! He’s a good man!”

The shadows beyond Lee’s left shoulder shifted, and the menace that was the Blood Manticore stepped forward. Hefting a gnarled energy weapon of his own malevolent design, the recent prison escapee welcomed himself into the intimate scene.

Margot and Bruce returned to their state of stunned surprise, but Lee simply continued his heavy breathing and shoulder heaving.

“Oops,” said the Manticore, his lion’s face pulled into a tight grin, “do not let me interrupt.”

Skinner Co.: Makers of fine fantasy, horror, and science fiction podcasts“What?” asked Bruce. “Why are you here? Did you bring a hitman, Lee? I didn’t even know she was married!”

The villain chuckled and prodded Lee’s spine with the broad muzzle of his cannon, insisting, “I said go on.”

Lee turned, his voice having found fresh strength, and repeated his question.

“How do you know he’s a good man? I’ve read his articles and most of them are excuses to complain about high taxes and the poor people he has to step over when he exits his neighbourhood.”

Behind him, the monster’s scorpion tale danced with eager curiosity.

Taking a deep breath, Margot’s lips flattened, as Lee knew his wife’s lips did whenever she’d come to a hard decision.

“Well,” she replied, “you know that I’ve had a history with Rocket Strongman. Bruce and I were together during that blimp tour that went out of control, and it was just as he ran to lock himself in the bathroom, pretending to vomit, that Rocket Strongman appeared. The same sort of thing happened when the lunar invaders tried to turn the city into a private zoo. There’s so much love in the eyes behind that mask, and, well, he’s always so flirtatious.

“How can I think he’s a good man? Well, honestly, I – I believe that Bruce is Rocket.”

The woman wheeled on her lover suddenly, whispering loudly, “save him!”

The reporter’s forehead dropped into his rising palms. “We’ve talked about this. I’m in news, I work long hours, when would I even have time? I’ve told you already that it’s just a coincidence that you’ve never seen us together.”

“Coincidence?” answered Lee, his voice seeming to gain heat, “It’s not coincidence. When there’s danger you sprint away so quickly Margot doesn’t even realize why you’re gone.

“I’ve known for a long time – well, a couple months, but it’s felt like forever. I realized when you were trapped together on the Hilton’s rooftop during Zombie Ape’s attack on the city. I – ”

Cranston looked from the newsman’s clean-shaven jaw to the gaping barrel of the Blood Manticore’s matter disassembler.

With a shrug, he gave up his secret.

“Margot, I’m sorry, but I’m Rocket Strongman. That’s why we’re here. Old Bloody here discovered my secret, and thus my weakness: You.

“I’ve known, but I’ve been unable to do anything about it. It’s been killing me. I damn near actually did start drinking. If I’d said anything, though, it would’ve given away my identity.

“Besides, I thought it would be the best thing for you. You were happier than you’ve been in a while, and I’ve always worried that you’d get hurt. You weren’t the one struck by the meteor, you don’t need to carry that responsibility.

“You mentioned my sister’s wedding – you didn’t find it odd that my disappearance and supposed binge happened to coincide with the Condor Crisis? I mean, I was finding feathers all over the apartment for days after I got home.

“Still, I should have told you.”

Silence descended on the room as Margot’s face shifted under the stresses of processing this new information.

Finally, Bruce asked the Manticore, “will you kill us all now?”

“Are you kidding me?” replied the beast, “Pushing my luck with a fight at this point would be an amateur mistake. It’s just when you learn these sorts of juicy tidbits that we villainous folk seem at highest risk of memory-erasing blunt force trauma, or, worse, an accidental death. I’m a mastermind, I play the long game: Outing Rocket Strongman to the press while destroying his marriage will do nicely.

“Have a bad night, y’all.”

After deploying his signature red smoke screen, they watched his shadow stroll away beyond the frosted glass.

Bruce turned his attention to the strongman. “Aren’t you going to chase him? None of the windows in this building open and I didn’t hear the elevator, so the stairs are the -”

As Clark spoke, Margot stood from her perch at the desk’s edge and approached her droop-shouldered husband.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“I’m sorry,” he replied.

Much to the Manticore’s pleasure, and to the final detriment of Margot Cranston’s relationship with Bruce, the Daily Bulletin’s readers were well aware of Lee’s identity come the morning.

Yet, five years later, when an errant transmorphing beam passed through Archimede’s Gem and into the glass factory in which The Evil Twins had Margot’s tour trapped – the very moment she became Ms. Transparent – she was still gladly wearing her husband’s ring.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.