Category: The Glorious

FP436 – The Glorious: Dancing Dust

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and thirty-six.

Flash PulpTonight we present The Glorious: Dancing Dust

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by 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 hear a tale of music and murder from the halls of Valhalla.

 

The Glorious: Dancing Dust

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

 

Though there was no true end to Valhalla’s horizon, Leroy “Cutter” Jenkins had found himself at the western border of the day’s battle. The walls were cement and stripped bare by some ancient fire, and Cutter thought it likely he was hiding in a snippet of battlefront from some crumbling Eastern European warzone.

Though the rooftops were alive with snipers, these lower middle floors, offering no view and little tactical advantage, had been left to gather dust in the lingering afternoon light.

As he shuffled through the cupboards in search of any hidden discovery that might bring some novelty to his never-ending cycle of war and death, he became certain of an unfamiliar rhythm throbbing at the edge of hearing.

This was not the rolling explosion of tank fire or landing artillery, nor the staccato of a heavy machine gun pinning down one of the day’s defeated. It was not the drum and fife of the marching, and it was not the chop of helicopter blades overhead.

His ears had been so long drowned in the sounds of combat that it took his mind a full minute to comprehend the noise, and in so doing he was so surprised at its source that he spoke aloud to no one.

“I’ll be damned if that isn’t rock and roll,” he told a box of cereal whose thick-charactered label he could not read.

In seconds he’d entered the hallway with the look of a starving man stumbling towards a supermarket. There, however, he righted himself. The crack of a high powered rifle rolled through the shattered windows, and a half century of undying conflict sent his limbs into well-practiced maneuvers.

At this more cautious pace, he pushed on.

It took him ten minutes to find the door – one floor up, one apartment over. If he had been in any other position he might not have heard it, and now, as he considered the dark peep hole centered in the blank wooden face of the entry, the volume dipped noticeably.

Was the entrance booby trapped? Was the whole thing a clever ploy to lure wanderers into an improvised explosive? Perhaps pushing through would set off a chain of detonations that would slide the whole building onto its nearby companion.

Yet, with a sigh, Leroy settled on the notion that it was not his first death, and that he could not reasonably hope that it would be his last.

He knocked – though after he moved to the leftmost side of the opening.

It was Jenkins’ expectation that he would receive gunfire as a response, and, judging by the music’s sudden stoppage and the whispering that followed, it was a long moment before he could be sure it wouldn’t be the answer those inside chose. Finally, however, the entrance cracked enough to allow the barrel of an AK-47 to make an appearance in the otherwise silent hallway.

“Name’s Leroy,” he said. “Sorry to interrupt, but I noticed your music while raiding the cupboards upstairs. First song I’ve heard in years that wasn’t pushing me to march somewhere or attack something. I – in my time we had something called Saturday night Rock ‘n’ Roll, you know?”

He was running out of words to speak into the weapon’s mouth, and the suspicion that he had made a regrettable choice had begun to climb his spine, when the barrier swung wide.

There were two women inside, their hair black and their eyes brown.

“I am Leylo, and this is my wife, Feynuus,” said the nearest, the assault rifle in her hands steady and unerringly aimed at his chest. She wore a loose collection of flowing cloths whose mix of dark purples and deep blacks stood in sharp contrast to her companion’s bright yellows and scarlet reds.

They seemed intent on reading his reaction to the welcome, and it was then that Jenkins deployed perhaps the reflex he had found most essential to survival in the endless churn of Valhalla: He smiled.

Though Leylo hesitated, Feynuus was quick to return the gesture, and, before her defender might say otherwise, the woman turned and lifted a circular slab of plastic to an electronic mouth open and waiting between a pair of speakers.

While the compact disc was something slightly ahead of his time of death, the unaging marine knew Saturday Night Rock ‘n’ Roll when he heard it.

FP436 - The Glorious: Dancing DustThe waning afternoon light broke across the balcony and landed on the ugly green rug that dominated the living room. The legless couch and a pair of worn high-backed chairs had been pushed aside, to provide plenty of dance floor, and the sun seemed to luxuriate at having the full run of the space.

Leroy had known such ugly carpets in his time – had dug his socked feet into a few with the woman who would become his wife – and so it was that everything foreign felt somehow familiar.

Closing the door, Leylo lowered her weapon and moved to Feynuus’ side. Her finger danced across the volume knob, and the music dipped low enough to allow for conversation.

Cutter, however, knew that his best chance came at leading that discussion.

“None of the units I’ve been through had electricity,” he said.

“When we first arrived we spent months hunting for working batteries,” replied Feynuus. “These actually come from a slice of Kuwait an hours walk to the east.”

“It was clearly worth your efforts,’ replied Jenkins, his head bobbing to the beat, and they again exchanged smiles. “Did you know each other before your deaths? I mean, were you married before you arrived?”

“Yes,” said Leylo, but nothing more.

Decades of experience had left Leroy with the knowledge that his next question could go as badly as ending his day of living, being asked to leave, or being frowned at for being rude. It had also often been, however, the key to a understanding a new friend.

In a place where no victory mattered, no wound lasted, and no loot followed you into the great dining halls once the crows cawed, such bonds were all he had found that might last.

“I’ve heard the stories of many of the dead here, but it’s rare for a married couple to arrive together. How did it happen?”

Leylo frowned, and her knuckles found a tighter grip on her rifle, but it was Feynuus who spoke.

“I – I was married once before. Asad was a fisherman, and we carved an unhappy existence by the sea. He had little interest in me, and I had none in him, but it was what was expected and I was raised to keep my head covered and my eyes down.

“When I was but eighteen, Asad gave his life to the waves. A storm took him, and his brothers, and I was abandoned with nothing more than a hut and a hungry belly. Praise all the powers that I did not also have a child to starve at my side.

“Though I felt little love for my dead husband, there were few positions worse for a woman, in the town in which I was raised, than that of a widow. Those who were married wanted no reminder of tragedy, and those who were not had no interest in what they considered a failed and tainted bride.

“There were few who might visit, and, once the condolences ceased, fewer still who might consider me friend.

“I was left to fade away in an empty home, with an ancient CD player and a ragtag collection of discs that only served to remind me of a dead man. My days were spent in search of food, and my nights were spent in silent loneliness – that is, until my cousin, distantly departed to South Africa, sent on a small package. She’d heard of my position, and recalled my love of dance, and so had sent on some music she thought I might enjoy.

“Drums and flute and guitar all achieved something exciting of a sort I had not heard before, but I knew too that such music would not land on friendly ears in such a proper place, so it was that I listened only alone and after dark, with all doors and windows buttoned tight.”

Finally Leylo let slip a reluctant smile.

“That is how I found her,” she said, “sweating from the heat of dance and a shut up house. I had never married, and was never afraid to speak my opinion, and this was too much weighing against me to be considered a member of the community – and yet I persisted.

“By day I fished alone while laughing at the idea that it was a man’s work, and by night I sought the one who might join me in sharing my small, but earned, life.

“It was a coincidence of having grounded my boat further down the surf than normal, and having to walk through the shadows cast by her forlorn cage. I have long loved afrobeat, but thought myself the only soul in town with the ears for it. Perhaps it was the solitary hours upon the waves, knowing I would go unmourned if I were to follow the likes of Asad beneath the waves, but that leak of rhythm I heard escaping from her enclosed balloon was enough to draw me to knock on a stranger’s home.”

Feynuus giggled and set a hand on her lover’s arm.

“I was not a stranger, we had grown up on the beach together, but never, I admit, as more than acquaintances.”

“Whatever the case,” answered Leylo, her fingers settling over those of her wife, “I knocked. I knocked, and we danced, and I went home at dawn thinking I had very rarely had so much fun.

“I worked hard not to think of her shimmies and shakes while exhaustedly casting my nets the next day, but my fatigue was no resistance to the float and fluff of her bright gliding fabrics. I returned the following day, and danced until I literally asked for but a moment to sit down, and fell asleep, shabbily, in the corner.”

The fingers entwined.

“That was the first night you slept over.”

“It would not be the last. Yet – well, a love such as ours was greatly frowned upon. I spent a month resisting her lips, and it was as I departed one dawn, in search of my own bed and then to cast out my tiny craft, that she pushed the door shut as I opened it.”

“To our minds,” said Feynuus, her attention on Leroy’s face as he leaned into the dusty apartment’s warming sun, “we were married from that day on.”

Cutter only nodded. He’d heard of a thousand rituals meaning the same thing since his arrival in Valhalla, and held no rites as lesser than his own.

“I moved in then, relocating the meager inheritance of useless hunting weapons and harvest tools left me by my father,” continued Leylo, “and we were happy for a time – yet soon the complaints began. First the whispers about our music, and then the whispers about our ways, and then the stones hurled through our windows.”

Feynuus nodded. “The warmth and passion that had always been missing with Asad burst forth from my heart, and I found it truly difficult to keep hidden. Yet, even my small joys seemed a hook to their eyes.

“To their minds, worse than a widow was a happy widow, and even more contemptible than a happy widow was a woman who realized she was no widow at all.

“On a Tuesday I attempted to purchase eggs from a neighbour, and found my meal lobbed at me with much cursing. On a Thursday the same man, a childhood friend of Asad’s, caught me out in the market and took to replacing his chicken’s spawn with rocks from under foot.

“I was quick to retreat, but my eye was greatly swollen from a glancing blow. Leylo was little impressed when she returned. She worked hard to better my mood, but my feet had no strength that eve, and I spent a tearful night in her arms.

“The next morning she rose before I did, and sought out Asad’s chum to have words. I’m sure she taught him some new ones, then she headed again to sea.

“Likely her barbs sat ill with the fool all day, as, when evening fell, he knocked upon our door – and he was not alone. The crowd, no longer content to whisper, pulled me from the home they had previously coaxed me into, and dragged me through the dirt I had once shared with the corpse I could not love.

“There were speeches, and proclamations, and threats – all, I can see now, intended not as a warning or lesson to myself, but simply as a righteous intoxicant to work themselves up to what they saw as the traditional solution – the only solution – for errant women such as myself.

“With the sun setting at my back, and the dust before me dancing in reds and yellows under the churn of the mob’s feet, the first stone flew.

“Then the music began.

“It seemed strange, then, to hear it so loud. It had always been a secret shared between us, meant to be kept low and in the dark, and yet here the drums rolled forth across the yard, and, as if under the influence of the keyboard and guitar’s fury, the door peeled wide.

“There was my love, Leylo, holding her father’s otherwise useless inheritance.

“The weapon had not been fired in years, but she knew its working – and the gathered murderers shortly did as well.

“She was not the only one who had come armed, however, and within seconds the air filled with gravel and metal flying from hands and weapons on both sides. I did my best to return as much of the earth as found me, but it was no good.”

Cutter had experience enough to know that even awakening in the Halls of the Glorious could not soften the memory of a traveller’s death, and he took a moment to inspect the balcony as the pair moved into an embrace.

“A tough situation,” he said, his words bouncing from the closed door.

“Aren’t they all,” Feynuus finally answered, her weapon forgotten at her side, “but I take some small comfort in having to spend an eternity with my wife,”

“- and without a single one of those bastards in sight,” finished Leylo with a chuckle.

Outside, the eternal staccato of combat continued, but inside, sweating from exertion and warmth, the trio heard only the thrum of their shared dance until the ravens called them to feast.

 

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.

FP144 – The Glorious: Key, Part 1 of 1

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

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, The Glorious: Key, Part 1 of 1

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Ladies Pendragon.

Find out more about their Pendragon Variety Podcast at http://pendragonvariety.com/

 

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 come across an odd conversation at the edge of the Valhalla’s eternal warfare.

 

Flash Pulp 144 – The Glorious: Key, Part 1 of 1

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

 

The stranger hadn’t noticed Leroy “Cutter” Jenkins belly-crawling through the rice paddy, and Cutter was nearly on top of him before the large man started out of the reverie he’d been engaged in while reclining against the dirt that held the shallow water.

Leroy felt some kinship for the man, as he was not unfamiliar with becoming lost in thought while staring into the unchanging blue sky that blanketed the daytime portion of the endless fight and feast cycle that was Valhalla. His opponent’s beard and moustache, made up of stringy patches, also brought old high school chums to mind.

The man fumbled for his weapon – an eighteenth century broadsword – then noted the grin on Jenkins’ face and sat down heavily.

“Hi. Name’s Moe – if you don’t shoot me, I’ll share some of the deer-flank that I saved from last night’s feast.”

“I could shoot you, then take it,” Cutter replied, making it an obvious joke by tucking away his rifle and taking a seat on the mud.

Moe smiled as he responded.

“Do it and I’ll be sure to bleed all over it before I go.”

The GloriousIt was fine meat, as always, and both men were soon speaking over greasy fingers.

“If you’ll excuse my saying so,” said Leroy, “you don’t have the face of someone who lived a life full of combat.”

“Oh – I was in the military, certainly, but I was a computer technician,” replied Moe. “I wasn’t bright enough to design systems or engineer missiles, but I could jockey a keyboard like no one else – but it is a lengthy story.”

Cutter waved towards the sounds of gunfire drifting to them from the east.

“I certainly don’t have anything better to do.”

Moe nodded, coughed, then began:

“The trouble in my country had begun when I was very young, and for much of my childhood I lived with my mother, overseas. When she came to a point where she could no longer stand to be away from the rest of her family, we moved back. Qalat was a poor area, but the things I’d learned brought attention, and I was soon ushered into our ragged army.”

He plucked at the hilt of his weapon, never lifting the blade from the muck.

“Much like this, our weapons were largely cast-offs, and acquired cheaply. Still, the world is eager to supply an angry hand, and our little tinpot eventually found his fist filled with missiles which could strike his enemies down from many miles away.

“Qalat was not a particularly nice place, as I mentioned, and there was a boy, whom we called Bulldog, who made my transition back a misery. His youth was spent punching anyone smaller than himself, and I was regularly the outlet for his frustrations. Oddly, however, once I’d been torn away from the familiar to conduct my military service, I found him to be one of the few whom I spoke with regularly – he had been assigned to the same command as myself, but, where I was a technician, he was one of what we referred to as “the doormen”, thugs who did not associate with the computer people.

“Although Bulldog and I continued to hate each other, our relationship changed. Often we would exchange quick snatches of gossip as we passed, items from home, or theories regarding future actions that the separate sections were not privy to. He would always end the talk with abuse, as if I needed reminding that I shouldn’t think him a friend. It was not cute in a comedic sort of way, it was simply mean.”

Moe licked his fingers, tossing away a stray bone.

“Before I died, we were on high alert, dealing with what seemed like an endless series of rebellions. It wasn’t the first time I’d been made to key in the commands necessary to prepare the array of missiles which lay at the far end of my computer network, but I had never actually fired one of the expensive death-dealers.

“That night I finally received an order to do just that – to flatten Qalat, no less.

“I couldn’t do it

“We’d always known the doormen weren’t on hand for our protection, but for rough encouragement, and when it was obvious I wasn’t carrying out the extensive typing that I ought to be, Bulldog approached.

“”It’s home,” I said in a whisper, trying not to raise the attention of the others.

“”So?” was his reply, and he followed it with a twisted lip which told me that whatever conversation we had exchanged was certainly not an excuse for friendship. He spoke loudly, and the situation became obvious to everyone seated in front of a glowing display, or standing at the entrance, rifle in hand.

“Bulldog was quickly ordered to inform me of my duty, and I informed him of what I thought of his obligations. He shouldered his rifle, removed a pistol from his belt, and held it against my head, saying it was my last warning.

“My response was not voluntary – it is a hard thing to allow a wasp to land on your forehead without reflexively swatting it away. With that act of defiance, I had no option but to continue on with my small rebellion, and I stood from my chair. Bulldog fired his sidearm once into the floor before I’d gotten hold of his hair, then I thrust his face into the sharp electrical mouth of my computer monitor, just as I was shot in the back. His smoking, jerking, dance, was my last earthly sight.”

There was a rare break in the constant din, as if the distant combatants wished to pay a moment of respect, which Moe punctuated with a throaty burp.

“I do not honestly know if I saved any lives in Qalat, but I do know that I’ve found myself here.”

Cutter nodded, and both men reclined, groaning at the satisfaction of their full bellies.

They were still staring into the cloudless sky as dusk began to fall.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

Flash Pulp 082 – The Glorious: Minerva's Last Ride, Part 1 of 1

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Eighty-Two.
Tonight, we present The Glorious: Minerva’s Last Ride, Part 1 of 1
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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 once again return to the halls of Valhalla, this time to hear the tale of a girl named Minerva Peabody.

Flash Pulp 082 – The Glorious: Minerva’s Last Ride, Part 1 of 1

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

The smoke filled halls of Valhalla were a rough location to start up a friendship, and few had it tougher than Minerva Peabody. The girl, permanently locked at the age of fourteen, was the sole warrior amongst thousands to be adorned largely in hot pink – a relic of the period in which she’d earned her place, the mid-1990s.

She’d walked the long benches many a night, finding little comfort in the rough hewn tables and legs of boar that adorned them. Few of the violent men that filled the rows had interest in a girl her age, and most who did had only the wrong intentions.

It was with great pleasure then that she dined with Leroy “Cutter” Jenkins – his own daughter had been her age when he’d died, and it felt like some small measure of home to have her sup with him. They’d met at the center of a melee in a swamp, caught between a division of Persian immortals and 300 Maori warriors. The groups had circled the tangling vines and muck drenched ground for an entire afternoon, hoping to happen upon an exposed flank, and the odd pair out, Cutter and Minerva, had used the opportunity to ignore the sniper rifles they’d been issued and instead swap stories about their respective lives.

“So -” Cutter said, one evening well after their introduction in the bog, “How’d you end up here, anyhow?”

It was usually the first question of any new encounter within the glorious halls, but somehow in the intervening weeks they’d both danced around the topic.

She took a long moment before answering. Finally, shoulders squaring slightly, she began to tell her tale.

“I was in central park with my Dad, it was fall and the air was crisp and we’d been out shopping for a few hours and were just looking for a street-meat vendor that didn’t look too sketchy so we could sit down on a bench and take a break.

“I saw the guy first, although I guess it didn’t really help any. He was tall, in his early twenties, hair cut super short and with a black trench coat on that didn’t really fit him. One minute I’m thinking “Look at that weirdo,” and then he’s suddenly got a shotgun in his hands.

“I’m pretty sure I cussed – I think it was the only time Dad ever heard me do it, he definitely looked up fast enough. He’d been talking about dinner plans and random junk; how excited Mom would be to see the stuff I’d picked out. We hadn’t been talking much lately – not on purpose or anything, he’d just been busy doing his thing and I’d been busy doing mine – anyhow, it was a pretty great day, and then this shaved DB pulls out the shotgun.

“Boom – first shot takes out the lady he’d been talking to. Boom, Boom – second and third shots take out a couple of people picnicking on the grass not far from him. Dad stands up, figuring I guess he’s going to save me somehow, and boom, the left side of his head is gone.

“I don’t really remember how I got under the bench, but I got down. This cop on a horse comes pounding up, but, boom, down he went. I’m pretty sure he was dead before he hit the ground, but his neck made an awful sound when his helmet bounced off the cement path.

“I could see the whites of his horse’s eyes as it reared up, and there was the smell – I didn’t know what it was then, but now I’m all too familiar with a good whiff of burnt gunpowder. People were running everywhere and the guy had this look on his face like he was ruler of the world.

“I couldn’t stand it – up till then I’d just been scared, but while I was staring at what was left of Dad and the cop with the funny bend in his neck, the day I’d just had flashed before my eyes – ten minutes earlier I’d been ruler of the world, and that guy, for whatever reason, had decided to take a dump on it.

“I started crying, but it didn’t stop me. I busted out from under the bench, and one handed the reins of the horse. I’d spent the previous six years worth of Tuesdays and Sundays at Appleberry Stables – I didn’t have my stupid beige breeches, or my stupid chaps, or my stupid black helmet, but I was pretty sure by then that I’d probably never need them again anyhow.

“The guy had started walking the other way, just strolling and firing at anything that moved as he passed.

“People – I mean back there, not here – they’ve kind of forgotten what horses are, why we raised and rode them. It’s easy to flip on the TV and see how brutally fast we’ve built our cars, but people have forgotten what it is to have a couple thousand pounds of horseflesh baring down on them.

“He spun and fired at the last moment – sheered my arm right off. I don’t know how I managed not to lose control of my mount, I guess the bloodlust was upon us – I’d have given him the finger if I’d still had a free hand to do so.

“The guy fired again when we were right on top of him, and the horse reared, kicking in his skull. I fell off then, and died staring at his exposed brain.”

The girl sniffled as she sipped at her inexhaustible wine.

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm. The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Flash Pulp 053 – The Glorious: The Taking Of Hill One-Five-Niner, Part 1 of 1

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Fifty-Three.

Tonight, we present The Glorious: The Taking Of Hill One-Five-Niner, Part 1 of 1

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This evening’s episode is brought to you by MayTunes.com

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

Tonight we present a tale of combat and glory; of objectives and intentions.

Flash Pulp 053 – The Glorious: The Taking Of Hill One-Five-Niner, Part 1 of 1

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

“I’m just saying that it feels a little weird, is all,” Cutter said.

“I ain’t ever flown a mission and not felt the pins and needles, boy,” responded the gunner position’s tiny speaker.

As Captain Jack Ignatius’ words crawled through the bomber’s guts to find their way to Lt. Leroy “Cutter” Jenkins, hunkered behind a dual-barrelled machine gun, they picked up a mushy crackling that had Jenkins wishing for better equipment.

“Sure, Cap’n,” he replied. He flicked the chromed switch, closing the circuit.

The Captain’s flare for drama had brought them in low, and as he waited for the objective, Leroy turned his attention to the shadow of the plane, now sliding over a city blackened by flame and scarred with the wreckage of smashed housing.

None of it looked much like Michigan, and his heart longed to be able to cast an eye over even the bombed out wreckage of a double-wide.

The creak of the airframe did little to comfort Cutter, and he decided this was likely the last time he’d accept an invitation to fly.

“Two minutes, tops,” came the Captain’s voice over the speaker, throaty with the scent of the kill. The cityscape gave way to thick jungle.

Jörgen The Bold’s broken english came crackling over the speaker.

“Two fly,” he said, his thick accent flattened by the technology.

“What’s that?” The Captain asked, annoyance in his tone.

Leroy flicked the microphone switch.

“Jörgen says we got a couple of… I see them now sir, two, uh, zeros, maybe?”

From the rear of the plane, Leroy heard Jörgen roar a war cry, then open fire.

The approaching aircraft split away briefly, only to readjust to a tighter angle of attack. It was an impressive sight – like watching bees dance – and for a moment Cutter sat mesmerized, not bothering to fire, even as the angry insects waltzed between his gun barrels.

However, as One-Five-Niner drew into sight, a dotted line of sunlight opened along the plane’s flank, nearly intersecting his Plexiglas bubble. It was enough to derail his train of thought, and he rattled off a spray of metal in return.

There came a scream that even the rotors and gun fire couldn’t blot out, and the bomber shook.

“No! Not Timothy! Not now!” his speaker whined. Leroy felt the plane ramp into a climb.

Jenkins debated making a run for a parachute, but decided instead to ride it out in his dome.

He’d stopped firing.

Timothy Martin brought the nose of his jet into a tight upward loop, at a level of force that would have ripped the shuddering flying fortress to pieces, and, on his downward return, let fly with a taste of his payload.

Uranium shells pinned the bomber like a beetle on cork board.

After a moment, Cutter was aware that he and Jörgen had been detached from the front-end of the plane, and through the small hatch above, he could see spinning, ragged sky.

He considered his situation and sighed.

At least he was away from the Captain.

There was no time for parachutes now, so he waited out his descent by attempting to locate the ground.

Hill One-Five-Niner spun in and out of view.

The first impact knocked the wind from his lungs, and sent a spray of wreckage through the entwined leaves. After a moment of recovery, Jenkins was surprised to find himself amongst the upper limbs of the jungle’s canopy, the rest of the tail having continued on without him.

Uncertain of where the fuel tanks were on the old plane, he risked a high speed descent along a palm trunk, afraid that Jörgen might be caught up in a fire.

His worries were unfounded, however, as the he discovered the man pulling himself away from the wreckage with his singular remaining arm.

Upon spotting his compatriot, Jörgen rolled himself upright against a broad tree.

“One-Five-Niner!” The Bold said, his face stretching into a bloody smile.

Leroy reached into a pocket, pulling forth his daily ration of smokes. He offered one to the bloody viking.

The one-armed man shook his hand to indicate a pass, so Cutter followed up with a looping motion around his forearm, to suggest a tourniquet. Again, Jörgen shook him off.

Jenkins shrugged.

Jörgen drew a sharp line across his throat.

Leroy’s shoulders sagged as he stood, drawing his sidearm.

He offered it to the man, who refused, levelling a trembling finger at Cutter.

Raising his arm, Jenkins fired once into his compatriot’s bushy hair.

Without pausing, he started up the hill.

As he gained height, the jungle thinned, giving way to a bald slope. He could not spot a place on which One-Five-Niner was not filled with humanity: the east seemed covered in shifting battle lines, while the west was a gale of slaughter and horses.

It was hours before he reached the outskirts of the combat, and the Grecians he encountered could only point further up the peak when he mimed them a question regarding a radio.

There were far more bodies than sets, but after a stumbling search, Jenkins came across a band of Mongols nestled in a ravine. Over the crest, Cutter could hear double rows of French musketeers shouting and firing, but at the center of the Mongols sat a serene man from Bristol, Avery Snott, and Leroy was relieved to spot a familiar face.

The leader of the horsemen was red from his extensive denunciation of the English radioman’s lineage, and at Leroy’s approach, the audaciously moustachioed man threw up his shoulders as if to say: “you do something about this guy”.

Leroy said “Hi.”

Avery raised a hand.

The entire encampment was flattened by artillery.

* * *

Cutter’s next moment of clarity found him at the edge of a smoking crater, horse limbs and half-cooked meat spread around him.

His leg was missing, and the pain was enormous.

Through the shock, his hands fell into the familiar routine of extracting his medical kit from his gear and preparing the morphine injection.

Twenty minutes later, he was still short a limb, but he was much less likely to notice. He lay on his back, bleeding into the muck, watching a trio of Vietnam War-era helicopters circle overhead.

As the edges of his vision grew dark, the sun finally touched the far horizon, and the air was filled with the caw of the Valkyries’ ravens.

Leroy smiled at the thought of returning to the comfort of his bench in Valhalla.

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm. The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.