Category: Special Episode

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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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.

FPSE24 – Mouthy

Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode 24.

Flash PulpTonight we present Mouthy

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Hugh J. O’Donnell’s The City

 

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 fairy tale of the oral tradition, as told in the Capital City style.

 

Mouthy

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

 

I operate in special collections. That is to say, I focus on the mystical types – these days I see a lot of shapeshifters, slendermen, and even some of the fish people out of the Pacific corridor.

Anyhow, it was late Tuesday night, or early Wednesday morning if you want to look at it that way. I was on on my last pick up before kicking off, and I was looking forward to downing a couple Blind Russians and heading in search of the underside of my sheets, but it was a tricky situation. My package was on the upper floor of the former owner’s home, while the former owner himself was wandering the lower level.

Nice place too. Vampires, man, they don’t know inconspicuous. I can blend in anywhere from Kinshasa to Portland, but you drop a vampire anywhere and it’s always the same thing: Biggest suburban castle for sale on the market, casket-moving sized car with the windows tinted like a third-world dictator’s, and no effort at all to beautify their lawn.

I’ve been around, and never have I met a vampire that cares about their lawn. They just never get to use them.

FPSE24 - MouthyAnyhow, I’m a professional, so it’s still not such a big deal. Bingo-bango – I’ve got the prize in my bag and I’m about to hit the bricks when I hear the blood-sponge moaning from the floor below.

“You sure you made the arrangements?” he’s asking, and I’m wondering how a Boston casket-sleeper gets all the way to the West Coast – I mean, did he move here before he was bit? Did he come in a dirt filled sedan trunk? – when his manservant replies, “of course, have I ever failed you?”

Seriously, who has a manservant these days?

Both of them sounded like they were gearing up for war though, which is a big no-no these days.

I heard the front door open, and I was out the window and onto the McMansion’s roof faster than Jeeves could finishing bowing subserviently to the the Lincoln Town Car’s rear passenger window and skitter to the driver seat.

There’ve been plenty of dead folks in my day-to-day, and I’ve gotten pretty used to what a walking corpse is supposed to look like. As the car’s heavy black slab was swinging shut I caught a glimpse of the nosferatu, and I’m telling you there’s pale and then there’s pale. It ain’t pretty when a vampire gets nervous enough to bite its lip.

Well, I was tired, I was exhausted even, but it was the first time I’d ever seen a bloodsucker scared, so I kicked a leg over Lucy and followed at a safe distance.

It was a pretty straightforward ride across a half-hour’s worth of the city, and it ended at a covered parking structure adjoining an unmarked office. The whole area was filled with little business plazas and industrial shops, so I figured Abbott and Costello were headed to one of them.

I waited.

And waited.

Eventually I wandered into the garage itself, and figured out that there was a glass and metal entrance leading directly inside. For privacy, I guess. It wasn’t locked, so I readied an excuse – I’m a simple courier who must have pulled the wrong door, teehee – and went in.

There was a satyr, just across the threshold, who was pulling a fedora over his horns and adjusting his trenchcoat. I followed rule number one and did my best to look like I knew where I was going. He didn’t even bother to glance down at me, so I just kept on trucking.

Ten feet ahead there was a desk, and the space to my left opened onto a dozen uncomfortable chairs and a coffee table full of long-expired National Geographics.

The receptionist, a bird-eyed woman with carefully applied makeup and a bright yellow blouse, watched my approach silently, but her face was already asking a question.

Closing the distance gave me just under three seconds to figure my next move.

I could’ve been about anywhere if the waiting room was all I had to judge by, but suddenly there was a squeal in the air, and even I know what that means.

“Could I get a booking today? Soon?” I asked.

“Funny seeing one of you here,” she replied.

I shouldn’t have been surprised at her directness, I suppose – she looked to have been the commander of that waiting area for a long while, and she must’ve seen all types in her tour of duty.

With that in mind, I played it soft.

“Yeah, well, cavities can happen to anyone, right?” I said with a smile, because part of me can’t help but demonstrate that I really do have perfect chompers, even when lying through them.

She didn’t reply, she just waved me towards a seat.

I sat and listened to the 24-hour adult contemporary station. Across from me was one of the closet cousins – a shadowy lump of an entity with bloodshot eyes floating in a pool of darkness and big mitt hands covered in rows of teeth.

I worked hard not to draw any attention to myself, and thankfully he didn’t try and start up any conversations. I was practically snoring by the time my name was called.

A short hallway led to a small room, and before I knew it I was seated and there was a blazing light cutting into my pupils.

At that point, I knew I had to come clean.

“Listen,” I said, “my raven parked outside is getting peckish so I’ll make this quick. You hold on to what you need to pull and I’ll come around to cut you in on whatever they would’ve collected if they’d thought to hold onto their molars.”

The dentist nodded. I guess he’d been waiting for one of us to make an offer.

Tough gig, tooth fairy, but some days are better than others.

 

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.

FPSE23 – The Myth of the Big Game

Welcome to Flash Pulp, special episode twenty-three.

Flash PulpTonight we present The Myth of the Big Game
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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 relate to you a most dangerous urban legend from the sick beds of Capital City and beyond.

 

The Myth of the Big Game

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

 

A Skinner Co. Network Podcast
For more on this urban legend visit the Flash Pulp wiki!

 

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.

FPSE22 – The Queen's Measure

Welcome to Flash Pulp, special episode twenty-two.

Flash PulpTonight we present The Queen’s Measure
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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 digress briefly from the universe we know so well to tell a tale of personal and universal truth in the lands of Sofia Esperon, Queen of the Hundred Kingdoms.

 

The Queen’s Measure

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

 

The signing of the final peace treaty enacted to unite the Hundred Kingdoms under the long reign of Queen Sofia Esperon took place on the tiered balconies that surrounded her castle atop the Mountain of Glass.

Though she’d chosen the location amongst the gossamer spires to limit the number of spectators, penny chiselers, and scoundrels, the tradition of an open-air signing, before any who could make their way to attend, still drew forth such throngs that many would eventually claim to have slept along the translucent roadside who had, in actuality, made no effort to even depart their front door.

However, the monk was one who did pass through the crystal gate.

The self-proclaimed holy man was a wanderer who had trekked from the country of Quabbin to preach his doctrine of honesty, austerity, and fealty.

Sofia saw him first from the shadowed depths of the humble carriage she used when it suited her purpose to move through her lands unnoticed. As the Queen and her handmaid, Ida, took the mood of the crowd and judged the rate the barley was flowing from the tent and barrel dwellings that had been erected as makeshift ale houses, they noted the monk’s thick voice cutting through the din of the multitude.

He stood on the lip of the eastern fountain, and his waving arms shook his gray ecclesiastical robes as he spoke.

“… for the cur, Mulhand the Colossus, was so brazen as to declare war against our one and true Lady, and though I would never speak against her decisions, Bargoth, God over all he surveys from his throne in the heart of the Sun, is clear that we should be honest in every way: Both in comment and action. Those of us who have always supported the Queen feel honestly that the Colossus does not deserve life, and Bargoth does not understand her mercy in allowing him to keep his head.”

Though Esperon felt no pull in his philosophies, there was something in the nature of his statements that caught her ear and left her wanting to correct his misconception. She found herself reviewing his words even as she returned to the cool depths of her stables and the unassuming passage she used for discreet entrances.

FPSE22 - The Queen's measure: A Skinner Co. Network PodcastHer first order of business upon stepping from her conveyance was to dispatch Ida to invite the monk to the feast at dusk, so that she might briefly converse with him between cups, then the regent set the matter from her mind and began to prepare for the afternoon’s ceremony.

* * *

The galleries of Queen Sofia Esperon’s castle held a thousand wonders collected from across the Hundred Kingdoms or constructed within the very walls themselves. The singing topiaries of the Blood Earth Garden were certainly well renowned; and many bawdy tales were told of the Crooked Feast Hall, whose floor would rise at its corner as the hour progressed so that even the most stubborn guest would tumble out its low-lying door by the chime of midnight.

Still, there was perhaps no greater marvel than the Forest Ballroom, whose ever-lush grasses somehow offered footing as firm as any hardwood, and whose dimensions stretched far beyond the boundaries of the chamber that contained it.

On that evening the orchestra had been instructed to climb to the glass walkways that stretched between the room’s massive sequoias, so that their instruments would reach as deep into the great woods as possible. Sofia knew that on an occasion of such size their melodies were often the sole method by which farflung partygoers might find the center of the room, and thus the exits.

It was also often true that the Queen found the attentions required by the endless stream of diplomats and nobles exhausting, but she knew too well the need for direct consultation when ruling so vast and varied a kingdom.To better endure the hours of glad handing and political jockeying she had had several nests constructed amongst the trees, each accessible only through a combination of depressible knots set in the base of their respective trunks.

It was atop one of these refuges that Ida found her ruler peering down from the edge of her leaf-cloaked perch.

Ida, unencumbered by reputation or title, was free to dance her ears over the debates and scandals that spilled from wine-loosened tongues, but the tray-toters flowing through the crowd knew to be quick about nudging her in the direction of anything worthy of note.

It was at the end of her recounting of wars probably only declared in jest and marriages probably only declared in drunkenness that the handmaid came to such an item.

“Finally, Akulina and his orchestra seem quite agitated with the monk you invited. Apparently the fellow started in on the conductor with a lecture regarding the inappropriate nature of some of the forgotten meanings behind the songs you selected for the evening, which shifted into a larger sermon on the unnecessary extravagance of the party, and how Bargoth would think us all idiots for not standing in an actual forest.”

Sofia sniffed. “Bargoth has never had to deal with rain on a high holiday, I suppose.”

Burying her smirk, Ida replied, “I think it was the monk’s apparent intoxication that annoyed Akulina most. Hard to take speechifying on austerity seriously when you’ve nearly drowned yourself in another’s vineyard.”

Nodding, Esperon moved to the couch at the rear of the platform. “I shall speak with him as soon as I rise. What hour are we?”

“The sixteenth now,” answered Ida. “The Western delegation has retired, but the central kingdoms have yet to arrive. They know to leave plenty of cushion to prevent another incident.”

The Queen hated to allow any interval to pass without her watch, but she found herself as weary as she had been after many a battle. The guests would simply assume she was at the far side of the party until she was rested enough to return.

“How much do you have left in you?” she asked her attendant.

“Oh, my excitement carries me nicely. I’ll be up till after the midday feast, at least,” replied the girl.

Finally, Sofia gave her instructions with eyes already half-closed, “wake me if you tire or when they start laying out the cutlery. I’ll need a moment to bathe and effect a wardrobe change,” then she slept.

* * *

Four hours later the smell of roasted mutton wafted between the trees, but not so deep as to reach Ida and the Monk.

They stood beside a fast moving brook, his back to the meal and his bulk surrounded by a cloud of sour grapes. With slurred insistence he alternated between demanding she do her best to make him most welcome in the absence of her lady and apologizing for his drunken state and forward behaviour. The rotation had kept Ida in retreat, but, with her spine against a drooping oak and his broad arms before her, she had no more ground to give.

With sweat on his palms, the monk placed a hand upon her shoulder.

Still, just as the revellers had been too hungry to note their absence, the pair were too fixated on their own concerns to notice the approach of their queen – and Sofia was glad she’d woken when she had: Though she appreciated Ida’s diplomacy and tact in not spilling blood on a treaty signing day, she knew the girl carried a well-honed stiletto beneath the cufflets at her delicate wrist.

Striding through the meadow across which she’d spotted them, the Queen cast aside the hushed tone of festivity and unleashed the voice that had commanded her warbears and ballistas during the western campaigns.

“You utter bile at the Colossus, and yet I can say this about the man I fought to a stand still amongst the poppies of the field they’ve since dubbed Esperon’s Boneyard: Whatever may happen between he and I in the future, Mulhand has been naught but obvious regarding his intentions at every step. I never asked for war, but he was always clear on enumerating his reasons and the consequences he foresaw.

“All in moderation, you claim, but at the first opportunity your goblet overflows and you beg forgiveness for the spill. I have seen Mulhand drink as well, during the negotiations – as might be expected in a time of defeat – and he makes no claim he would not back up while sober.

“Even when a lesser man would drown in his cups I have seen the knowledge that it is best to stumble to his pillow enter the Colossus’ eyes well before any mistaken statement has entered his mouth or errant thought has landed steel in his hand. He kept his promises of violence, and I expect he’ll keep his promises of peace.

“You, however, are something even lower than an enemy. You speak sunshine and move your hands in darkness, and always with quick justification, be it divine or fermented. No, I can have no such close – I exile you sir.”

She had closed the distance as she’d delivered her judgement, and she was now close enough to see the horror in the monk’s face.

“M’lady!” he whispered in the cloying tone of practiced repentance, “all lands are yours – there is naught beyond the Hundred Kingdoms!”

“Perhaps then Bargoth will be so kind as to provide you firmament upon which to land when we toss you from a pier and into the eastern salt,” she replied, drawing Ida to her side.

The arrival of five of her Royal Guard acted as both the Queen and Ida’s final consideration of the matter, though no longer would the regent dare slumber until the doors were barred.

 

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.

FPSE21 – Cleavage

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Special Episode Twenty-One.

Flash PulpTonight we present Cleavage, Part 1 of 1
[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FPSE021.mp3]Download MP3

(RSS / iTunes)

 

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 relay a brutal urban legend from the back alleys of Capital City.

 

Cleavage

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

 

A Skinner Co. Podcast

 

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.