FP463 – The Irregular Division: Violations, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and sixty-three.

Flash PulpTonight we present The Irregular Division: Violations, Part 2 of 3
(Part 1Part 2 – Part 3)
[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp463.mp3]Download MP3

(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Six Stories Told at Night!

 

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 near future, where the founding members of the Irregular Division – Milo Smith, AKA Head, the corporate thief with his brain hooked into a prototype computer interface, and Jennifer Glat, AKA Ms. Atlas, a military lifer whose body was augmented by science after massive combat injuries – find themselves in an increasingly upsetting meeting.

 

The Irregular Division: Violations, Part 2 of 3

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

 

[Atlas, excerpts from Operation Pay the Pied Piper debrief, continued]

Departing the initial meeting we were furnished a vehicle in which Colonel Wily drove us to the airfield. While enroute I raised a minor concern regarding the integrity of the chain of command. I was quickly straightened out.

[Head, excerpts from the WIRED interview article “Like A Hole In the Him”, continued]

Now, I’m not saying I’m a complainer. Atlas would, but I’m not. I like to think of myself as a vocal realist: An activist on the behalf of reality, if you will. That said, as we exited Atlas surprised me by, for the first time I could ever recall, immediately questioning Wily’s judgement.

The vehicle Dame Judy Dench had driven us in was still sitting along the mighty U that marked where the drive encountered the house, but she was lost somewhere else in Vlad Tepis’ summer villa. As such we were provided with – and by we I mean Wily – the keys to a Benz from, and I quote, “the motor pool.”

That’s what I’m talking about when I try to differentiate the level of wealth. Some folks have garages, some people even have car collections – Theodore Turtledove had a motor pool.

Anyhow, like I was saying, Atlas had questions. Sometimes it seems like her high-powered cyber vision only sees things in black and white, so having her wonder about matters beyond “how many people will be attempting to murder us” and “how many people will I be attempting to murder” struck me as unusual.

I’m not sure Wily noticed though. He hadn’t spent my hours locked in cushionless vehicles with her, nervously trying to kill time before it came time for something to try and kill you.

It’s funny – the Irregulars are sort of like family in that sense. Atlas isn’t the kind of person I would have picked up as a friend on my own, yet she’d become my wrongheaded sister. I might argue with her over how we conducted business, but, even then, I knew biting at her thumbnail was the only sign she’d ever allow of nerves, knew that the reason she preferred being busy was because the alternative was still sitting in an empty room mourning her dead daughter, knew that at some level she sort of wished they’d left her ragged body to bleed out in the field instead of turning her into a patchwork mix of woman and Terminator – and knew, especially, that asking even small questions meant she was carrying some large doubts.

Doubts like:

“How does a civilian find himself giving orders to military personnel?”

“What exactly is the nature of Mr. Turtledove’s business?”

“Will local law enforcement be involved in this operation? It seems, to me, to be more appropriately under their jurisdiction.”

Now, I had a lot of thoughts I wanted to share coming out of that meeting as well, but mine were mostly about the dead-eyed torso I’d spotted behind Theodore’s shower curtain.

Maybe her questions carried my own curiosity, or maybe I wanted to stoke that tiny spark of rebelliousness I thought I’d spotted in her tone – whatever the case I decided my questions would wait and instead backed my partner.

“No, seriously though, what is Turtledove’s involvement in this?” I asked.

“He knows people. We wouldn’t be on top of this thing without him,” replied Wily.

“So you’re saying he’s deeply connected in the world of pedophiles?”

“No, that’s not what I’m saying at all, and you know it.”

I was a lot more willing to chase the point than she was – I’m sure she felt even her minor questions were already a step to close to a court martial or some nonsense – but I didn’t get anywhere either. Wily’s a man so vague he refers to his mother as “a woman I knew once.”

The dodging annoyed me. Maybe it’s a hereditary thing, but it just made me want to dig harder.

It was a bit of a drive, and I got nowhere.

Finally I decided to drop my secret weapon: “What’s with the torso Turtledove has a straw stuck in?”

It was too big – too weird – a question to avoid entirely, but I suspect the reality is that Wily gave me a bit of an answer both to shut me up in the moment and because he knew that whatever I’d seen had been recorded in my monitoring software.

To paraphrase: Turtledove wasn’t just an elderly man, he was an ancient man. He’d aged along the cusp of technology for decades – limb transplants, nutrients baths, and hormone replacements had kept him alive and vigorous for over a hundred and thirty years. Now he was onto the newest development, parabiosis.

You should Google it, but the basics are all well understood lab techniques. Connect an old meat bag to a young meat bag and you can sort of turn them into one mega meat bag. Cycle the senior’s fluids into the junior and watch the miraculous results: A return of physical strength, rejuvenated mental prowess, and, most importantly, extended lifespan.

Turtledove’s pruned sidekick was a brain dead car crash victim whose family had rented him out to pay off his medical debt. The tubes, Wily pointed out helpfully, were so that he could be replaced once his meter ran out.

His approach wasn’t illegal. Though it might shorten his human battery’s life, so would have a career in the coal mines. Was it Turtledove’s fault that he was rich enough to use an obscure, and yes, perhaps distasteful, method to extend his life? His contacts and breadth of knowledge were exactly what made him such a valuable asset.

Or such was the argument the Colonel laid out the rest of the way to our plane.

I remember Atlas was quiet for that part of the conversation, simply nodding.

[Atlas]

The flight into Capital City was short and conducted on a light jet. We landed at the commercial airport and were met in the parking lot by a man wearing civilian clothes and military regulation haircut. The decision was made that I would drive, as I often suspect Smith gets distracted with online nonsense while operating vehicles. I didn’t need the operation compromised by his crashing the car while watching the new Queen Sofia Esperon trailer.

[Head]

While we were flying in I skimmed the video from the meeting to see if I’d missed anything, and it was only then that the name of our target fully connected: Timothy Mustard.

Oddly, I’d met him. He’d been something of a boogey man when I was a kid. Not long after we moved to Capital City he appeared one day at my Dad and I’s door. It was rare to get an unexpected knock like that, as we lived in an apartment and visitors usually had to call up first to be rung in, and I remember his thin face staring down at me over a huge brown-toothed grin when I answered.

He’d seemed very friendly. He’d seemed, in fact, like a kid at Christmas.

Then Dad put his hand on my shoulder and shuffled me out of the way. Ten minutes later I heard the deadbolt flipped shut and I was told not to speak to the man again – to, in fact, keep watch for his greedy eyes and be sure I was never caught out alone with him.

I was still thinking on that when Atlas pulled our gray sedan up along the curb.

I’d barely noticed that I’d arrived home.

[Atlas]

While I will fight to the death to defend it, I do truly hate Capital City. I hate how close everyone is, how exposed you feel on its streets, and, most of all, the traffic.

It was then especially annoying that our assignment devolved, at that point, into aimless driving.

[Head]

Our little plan was conspicuously missing a deadline. Usually these things are laid out with a bunch of specifics to be handled at oh-eight-hundred hours, or whatever the hell, but here we simply had a task with an address: Go to 403 Pine, retrieve a white audio cassette from one Timothy Mustard, convicted pedophile. The cassette would likely be unlabelled but a yellow smiley face sticker would be visible in the upper left corner of the B side.

We were not, under any circumstances, to listen to the recording.

About that last part: As far as I was concerned we might as well have been retrieving wax cylinders for one of Edison’s phonographs. I had no idea where I’d even be able to find a machine ancient enough to play such a thing.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I had to agree with Atlas. What the hell were we doing on this gig? There was no PR angle here, there was no mass panic to quell or patriotic points to be scored. If you stripped it right back it was like we’d been flown in to steal an ex-convict’s mixtape.

We’d been given a credit card against which we were supposed to pile up receipts for gas, food, and lodging as necessary. I was all for checking into the Capital Hilton when we arrived at Mustard’s and found he wasn’t there, but Atlas was, as far as she was concerned, on duty until we were back on a plane. I think the city was also getting to her. She just white knuckled the steering wheel and kept pushing us down side streets in an expanding figure 8 that brought us regularly past Timothy’s shabby little bungalow.

It wasn’t the greatest neighbourhood – it was flanked on one side by the last dregs of a slowly emptying commercial block, and on the other by an ever-expanding industrial park.

We batted theories as to why we’d been sent back and forth while we conducted our tour: Mustard’s house, past an empty building whose paint was still whiter where the KFC signage had once been, past Mustard’s again, then by a sprawl of chain-link fences, rusting barrels, and the sort of warehouses that are so large they don’t bother fixing the windows if a few up top get shattered.

Dusk settled in and so did boredom. If Atlas wanted to pace I’d let her, but I was increasingly sure we were better off getting a decent night’s sleep and knocking on his door the following day.

I’ll be honest, I was poking around on social media to see if any of my friends were still in the city when I spotted him.

We’d been given a picture – his mug shot – for reference, but it was my memory of that day at the door that hit me when we crossed his path. Jailhouse photography couldn’t have captured that filthy grin.

Here was Timothy Mustard, ancient and yellowing, out after dark with a boombox in one hand and a child of maybe eight holding the other.

Atlas had been making a left and I’d glanced out the window to the right. I’d had the pair in my sight for no more than three seconds total, but seeing him opening a maintenance entrance into one of the great brickwork buildings was enough to cause me to yell, “stop” and then leap from my seat.

I guess he just looked so old – so fragile – and the kid so young. I wasn’t really thinking I was in any danger.

[Atlas]

Flash Pulp 463Smith’s sudden evacuation of the vehicle was, in some senses, a positive development, but again I was left in an awkward position due to a lack of clear operational boundaries. Was I in a position to violate local traffic laws? Could I have justified the legal or financial risk of simply exiting the car in the middle of the street in a high-risk Capital City neighbourhood?

I was forced to find some middle ground by reversing onto the street we’d just departed and then pulling to a stop at the curb. Head had, by then, disappeared into the factory, and knew I was several critical seconds behind.

[Head]

Despite my shouting to stop, he didn’t hear me. He was wearing a pair of those construction-site industrial ear protectors – they were ridiculously oversized on his shriveled old man head. I didn’t know why he was wearing them, and, frankly, I was more caught up in the mystery of why the little mop-headed brat wasn’t even turning to acknowledge me.

His steps were strangely docile for someone of any age being led into the darkness of a black factory. You might see one on TV every now and then, but you can’t understand just how spooky those totally automated shops are until you’re walking the floor after dark.

There’s no glow from displays – there are no displays at all, no one would ever see them – and there are no lights unless you know where the switch is. I didn’t and Mustard didn’t seem to care. He was headed towards a rectangle of light on the far side of the floor – the door into the next area, where he’d apparently already prepared a nest.

So the bony-elbowed predator and his young prey drifted forward ahead of me, the roar of mechanical systems operating in the blackness to our right and that stupid boombox lost in their hum.

The problem with having a computer in your brain is that you stop carrying a phone. I really could have used a flashlight at that point. Trying not to think about what kind of thrashing metal pistons might be pumping beyond my vision, I made a dash for the silhouettes receding towards the exit.

I still don’t understand the technology behind it, but the moment my ear distinguished the music’s rhythm from the thumping of the machinery my brain kicked into autopilot.

It wasn’t that I blacked out – I knew where I was, who I was. I just – I wanted to stroll along to that tempo forever. I suddenly had all the affection in the world for that song. My heart lifted, my steps lightened. I’d have followed Mustard anywhere even though he still wasn’t aware I was a dozen steps behind him.

“No reason to be scared, I helped build this place. I kept a key,” he was telling the child, who, honestly, didn’t look like he was minding much at all.

For a moment we danced there in the dark, both terrifyingly out of control and blissfully unaware of the blood that was about to flow.

 

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.

FP462 – The Irregular Division: Violations, Part 1 of 3

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

Flash PulpTonight we present The Irregular Division: Violations, Part 1 of 3

[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp462.mp3]Download MP3

(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Six Stories Told at Night!

 

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 near future, where the founding members of the Irregular Division – Milo Smith, AKA Head, the corporate thief with his brain hooked into a prototype computer interface, and Jennifer Glat, AKA Ms. Atlas, a military lifer whose body was augmented by science after massive combat injuries – find themselves in an increasingly upsetting meeting.

 

The Irregular Division: Violations, Part 1 of 3

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

 

[Head: Excerpted from the WIRED interview article “Like A Hole In the Him”]

I should have realized we were a submarine in an outhouse the first time we were taken to meet Theodore Turtledove. This was back when it was just Atlas and I – the Lovesick Twins had survived the fall of Britain but were still having their brains descrambled by people with notepads and soothing voices.

Well, as descrambled as they were going to get, but that’s a story for another time.

Turtledove wasn’t the first vaguely sinister government-type we’d met, but Atlas’ background meant she was always “yes sir, nice to meet you sir,” and that seemed to satisfy them. My criminal record meant most of the ribbon carriers felt a need to take a poke at me.

Still, there are worse fates than being fed a nice lunch and shaking hands with old white guys – at least when the alternative is being sent into a combat zone. Thing is, we didn’t meet Turtledove in some nondescript weapon’s manufacturer’s strip-mall satellite office, nor any aerospace industry skyscraper filled with sensible shoes and salon haircuts. Both had happened a few times, mostly for the benefit of men in well-pressed business suits who maintained long friendships with men in well-pressed uniforms. More commonly we’d simply have some gray-haired starch-collar toured by us on one of the various bases at which we were housed.

You’ve got to remember, we were basically nomads at that point. The Irregular Division was barely even a thing.

A Skinner Co. ProductionTurtledove, though – Atlas and I were escorted to a black Escalade late one afternoon and told to get inside. Our own Major Nelson Wily was already in the passenger seat, but the driver wasn’t military. Her hair was short, but the crisp cut of her black suit and white silk blouse was decidedly private sector. The easiest shorthand is that she looked like a mean Dame Judy Dench, and she was obviously making too much money to be a government employee.

It was also clear she hadn’t achieved her position by playing chauffeur, but – well, she had the air of someone who’d gotten where they were by approaching matters with their own two hands. It wasn’t erratic, but she drove fast and with the confidence of that jerk who feels their business is more important than that of anyone else on the road.

[Atlas, excerpted from debrief of Operation Pay the Pied Piper]

We were picked up at oh-nine hundred and, despite repeated complaints by Smith regarding the hour, were promptly greeted by Major Wily and [REDACTED], a civilian with whom I was not otherwise familiar.

It was a two hour drive, and, despite repeated attempts by Smith to engage in complaints regarding the distance, I took the opportunity to power down and catch up on shut eye – as is my habit during any period of travel.

[Head]

It’s odd, I find it hard to read a paper book in a moving vehicle, but I have no problem using my implant to browse the web for hours. I guess it’s a different sort of visualization.

I remember our arrival well because I thought it was funny that I was skimming an article about the latest Dracula reboot as we pulled up to that huge black gate.

Now, the rest of the place didn’t look like a vampiric lair. Frankly, it looked a lot more like a golf course – all rolling hills, strategically placed stands of trees, and a terracotta-coloured manor looming at the head of the driveway – but there was definitely something ominous, even while drenched in sunlight, about the slow opening of the black mass of spirals and dragons that regulated access to the grounds.

I suppose my concern should have been more for the guys with buzz cuts and assault rifles standing in the shadows behind the stone pillars on either side, but, weirdly, I’d gotten to a point where large men with guns were just another part of the scenery.

[Atlas]

The perimeter was well defended, but the contractors were clearly civilian. Walmart-style camouflage patterns and sneakers under their makeshift uniforms led me to believe they were either private security or possibly even imported mercenaries. They were a little too casual in their stance for my liking, but it’s not my castle.

[Head]

Dame Dench didn’t get out with us. She nodded to Wily, he nodded back, and when the Major stepped from the SUV we followed suit. There were three long white steps leading to a wraparound porch, atop of which were two more beef arms with bullet chuckers on black nylon straps. The main doors were double-wide, and the entrance hall did nothing to dispel the idea that I was strolling into the clubhouse of a highly paranoid golf course. Glass cases displayed random objects: Ancient daggers, shards of pottery with writing on them that probably meant something to someone but definitely not me, long tables with books carefully distributed across their surface to appear casually strewn, and a ceiling high enough to consume both floors of the condo I used to sublet back in Capital City.

There are levels to having money. I’ve had moments where I thought I had it made, back when I was borrowing sums from corporate accounts, but wealth on that scale – well, it requires a certain sort of attitude. You don’t come by it accidentally, and you have to wonder what exactly those who possess it did to find themselves atop such a hoard. In my experience there are three routes to that kind of income: Killing a lot of people, selling something that kills a lot of people, or inheriting it when one of the first two dies.

[Atlas]

The front hall further deepened my conviction that we were not dealing with any sort of military personnel. There is no position at any tier of the armed forces, that I am aware of, that would allow for such extravagant decorating.

[Head]

Our destination was a mostly-white room flooded in light by a half-dozen windows and two glass doors that exited onto a garden that looked liked a huge pain in the ass to weed.

Before us sat an ancient man on what I guess was a couch. I mean, it was a long piece of furniture with cushions, but when there’s that much hand carving and custom sewing involved I’m sure the salesperson refers to it as something with a loftier title. A settee maybe? I don’t know.

Anyhow, this was when we were introduced to Mr. Turtledove – or, really, Mr. Turtledove and his curtains.

[Atlas]

The study was also well appointed, and it was there that we were introduced to an aging Mr. Turtledove. He provided the intelligence briefing.

[Head]

Theodore himself was bald and thin-faced, but one of those people who survive into a phase of undecipherable age. I couldn’t have guessed if he was a slightly ragged sixty or a healthy ninety.

Those curtains though. They were hung from the ceiling with bronze chains that matched the earthtone highlights dotted around the rest of the room. I’m not talking screw-in Home Depot hooks, these things had been properly mounted. It reminded me of when I had my tonsils out as a kid. I had to share a room with this brat who’d broken both his legs and the only privacy I could get was by pulling at that green drape that was on a U track surrounding my bed.

His curtains formed a perfect little white box of mystery sitting directly beside Mr. Turtledove. Maybe the width and depth of a cat carrier, yet tall. It was clear this was not erected just for this visit, this was so necessary to the old man’s existence that they’d marred the ceiling’s paneling to hang it in place. I tried to convince myself it was his dialysis machine.

He didn’t refer to us by our names, he used our PR titles.

“Ms. Atlas and Head, welcome, welcome. It is good to see you escaped the English nastiness unscathed.”

Was the attack on Britain an act of war? A crime against humanity? A possible sign of the apocalypse? I might describe it as any of those things. “Nastiness” though?

We weren’t offered seats.

As Wily passed along his hellos from other folks in their shared circle of acquaintances I did my best to pry from a standing position. When Turtledove raised his right arm it became apparent that the curtain he was sitting beside had been tailored to be raised without bunching.

I’m a known pryer, from a long line of pryers. You ever poke around a bit at a funeral? The old man’s suit reminded me of undertaker tailoring; You know, how they cut the backs out of the suits or whatever to make dressing easier. The edges on Theodore’s otherwise finely crafted formalwear had been cut to allow access – or a connection – to something beyond the curtain.

If you’ve seen the media photos you know what I mean about Turtledove’s age, but they could never convey the sheen that always on the man’s skin, nor how his smile in motion looked like a skull unzipping.

I’d checked out of the conversation until his jaw pulled that awful trick and he said, “clever bunch, those spider cultists.”

To my mind, at that point, the Kar’Wickians were almost cartoonishly evil monsters, but before my brain could stitch together a clever rebuttal regarding the things I’d seen in the UK, Wily replied, “Yep.” and Theodore changed the topic.

“This thing in Capital City is also a ball of nastiness.”

Ever tried not to laugh in a library? I guess it’s the same thing when you need to pee in the middle of a service station desert. You just get so focused on that one thing it amplifies the problem and the whole situation starts spinning out of your control.

The longer it went unaddressed, the more I found I was getting that way about the curtain.

Was he worried we were going to covet his prized fish tank? Did he have a dozen hooded arachnid worshipers stacked in there like 1950s college kids piled into a phone booth? Was it a tumah? An attached twin?

Still, the mention of my home town set me back a bit. Exactly two years previous I would’ve likely been in Capital City crashed out on what we would mostly definitely have only called a couch, but instead there I was, loafing in daytime-Dracula’s million dollar living room while wondering what kind of medical condition was lurking behind door number one.

How had my life sunk so low?

It was about to get lower, however, as I checked into the conversation just long enough to hear Turtledove say:

“You will go to Capital City; you will find this pervert, Timothy Mustard; and you will take away his toy.”

All of his sentences were delivered in slow drips, like cold syrup, and I’ve got to admit, I’d planned on reviewing the whole thing via my implant’s recording when I could do so at double speed on the way home, or on the plane to whatever godawful place they were about to send us – but Capital City? That had been home once – and I’d heard that name somewhere, though I couldn’t quite place it.

Timothy Mustard – how could I have forgotten it?

All of that was just wind whistling through my empty skull as we exited though. We were standing, and it was the first time we’d really gotten close to Turtledove. He was old school and clearly expecting a handshake even if he wasn’t going to rise to do so.

It was then that I finally caught a glimpse through a crack in his curtains, and then only because I was watching the window behind him and trying not to think about how leathery his fingers felt.

Through that little slit I spotted a face. His eyes were open but engaged with nothing, his mouth was slightly askew but unmoving, and he was naked except for a large diaper that was that shade of blue indicating Serious Medical Business.

That wasn’t the odd thing to me though. If a body was going to fit in that tight little curtain box beside Turtledove it would have to be just a torso. There was no room for arms, no overhang that would allow for legs. He was strapped into some sort of rig – it reminded me of a kid’s car seat – and I don’t believe he could have remained upright without it.

There was also a bundle of tubes that seemed to loop around his chest from somewhere behind him. I thought at first that they were red, but it became clear when the colour started drifting that I was really looking at a crimson fluid moving through clear conduits.

I shook, the human bonsai stared at me over Turtledove’s shoulder, and we left.

Then things got weird.

 

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.

FCM29 – Truffle Snuffles

FCM29 – Truffle Snuffles
Welcome to Flashcast Minisode 029 – Truffle Snuffles
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(RSS / iTunes)

* * *

  • DNA detection
  • The anti-Fahrenheit 451 story
  • Mars
  • Mushrooms
  • * * *

    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.

    FPSE35 – Agent 021

    Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode #35.

    Flash PulpTonight we present Agent 021

    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FPSE35.mp3]Download MP3

    (RSS / iTunes)

     

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

     

    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 awakening alongside an international man of mystery with a tragic secret.

     

    Agent 021

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

     

    FPSE35 - Agent 021

     

    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.

    FP461 – The Tooth Fairy, Part 3 of 3

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

    Flash PulpTonight we present The Tooth Fairy, Part 3 of 3
    (Part 1Part 2Part 3)
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    (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 hear the truth behind the nocturnal defanging that has been plaguing one Capital City neighbourhood.

     

    The Tooth Fairy, Part 3 of 3

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

     

    Capital City wasn’t what it used to be. There’d been a time when Lethe Park had been family sitcom set material, but Mulligan knew he was likely sitting on the exact same bench he’d occupied thirty years back. He shifted in an attempt to find some comfort on the rotting boards, and as he spoke his sneakered toes pushed the husk of a long-emptied dime bag in slow circles.

    “- so I asked, ‘Did you call the police?’ and they replied, ‘- to say what? Officer, someone’s stolen my teef?’ – I mean, I let it lie, but, honestly, yeah, that’s exactly what I’d say.”

    Dr. Ruth Hill, her brown hair in a short ponytail and her hands knit together on a simple black skirt, made no effort to interject. Her posture was as rigid as the lines of her thick-rimmed glasses, and her eyes were focused on the teens smoking on the nearby play structure.

    “It was the mention of stitches – well, the stitches and Sarah’s daughter’s perfect smile,” continued Smith. “Gave me a suspicion, you know. I’d talked to a few people who’d had their pearly-whites purloined, but there was something about the alignment of similarities with Jimmie Hobbs and his family; a strange lack of memory.

    “Looking for a clearer view on things I tracked down Jimmie’s wife. Jenny is an interesting woman. She looks a bit like she stepped out of a depression-era photo, which makes it surprising when you find out she laughs at the drop of a pun. I haven’t felt funnier in years.

    “You can see her braces when she howls. She works a factory job, but I guess they’ve got a good union. Excellent health benefits and all that, right?”

    Mulligan leaned forward, kicking the tiny plastic sack into the yellow grass, then he buried his fingers in his shaggy salt-and-pepper beard.

    “You know, at first I thought it was a sort of magic trick; some terrifying Germanic fairy tale come to life. Maybe a horrific forest imp come to snatch from the jaws of the living to build themselves some sort of, I dunno, tooth golem, or maybe a molar mansion.

    “Still, even when I realized there was nothing more than the mundane going on, there’s something to be said for the eerie image of a silent woman appearing after midnight. Of her having to be invited into the home by a loved one – very vampiric – and her hands pulling on snapping latex gloves as she hovers over the sleeping form of her intended victim.

    “Guess they don’t need to count backwards from ten if they’re already unconscious.

    FP461 – The Tooth Fairy, Part 3 of 3“I kind of get it though: How many hours do you spend in the chair with those folks? Maybe some of them you feel like you get to know. You see them in for their own suddenly missing teeth, or they’ve got a black eye, or a broken arm, and you ask what’s up.

    “Not a lot of places left these days that tend to serve a community, but most folks are happy enough to go to the closest dentist. They just want to get in and out. Yet it’s a very intimate situation, really, to be in someone’s mouth – to lie them back and prod some of their most sensitive areas with metal instruments.

    “Was that how you figured out Sarah was an addict?”

    Her gaze unmoving, Ruth Hill nodded. “Megan came in. She looked exhausted and she was wearing a sweater despite the summer swelter. I was going to keep my mouth shut, as teens tend to get into all sorts of scrapes, but when Sarah arrived to pay the bill she was clearly out of it. One of those users who sticks to weekends and off hours so it doesn’t interfere with her work. The kind that can justify occasionally beating their kid if they can still cover the bills and hold down a job.”

    “Why didn’t you just call the cops?”

    “Megan specifically begged me – so did Jenny. See, Megan would do anything for her mother. She worships the woman, considers her violence just a part of the disease. Jimmie, on the other hand, always treats Jenny great – it’s her kid who gets the brunt of it.

    “Neither wanted to see their loved ones doing jail time on drug or assault charges.”

    Mulligan nodded. “Sure, and maybe waking up toothless after an apparently particularly bad jag would set them straight, right?”

    Dr. Hill made no reply.

    “This isn’t the sort of trouble that I’m looking for,” continued Smith, “but if I figured it out someone else will as well.”

    In the old days, in the better days, the fear of discovery would have been enough.

    “I’ll have to be more careful,” said Hill,

    “You’ll have to stop entirely,” replied Smith.

    She shrugged, but made no further answer. Mulligan felt tired. There was no paycheck at the end of this search, not even the satisfaction of having come closer to his goal – no, here was just another human mess, awful at all angles.

    Hill cleared her throat. “I’ll deny everything if necessary, but I highly doubt Jenny, or Megan, or any of the rest will turn witness against me – even if they were willing to implicate themselves. Imagine the trust lost between husband and wife, mother and daughter?”

    These were hard days indeed, reflected Smith, then the man some called The Mute spoke three words in a language that hadn’t been heard aloud in two hundred years. The tattoos that criss-crossed his body like a cage took on a brief heat, and a look of confusion entered Hill’s eyes.

    Though Dr. Ruth Hill would maintain her practice till her hands could no longer hold her drill, it was the last Capital City would see of its Tooth Fairy.

    Exhausted, Smith began the long walk home.

     

    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.

    FC134 – Nazi Underpants

    FC134 - Nazi Underpants
    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashCast134.mp3](Download/iTunes/RSS)

    Hello, and welcome to FlashCast #134.

    Prepare yourself for: Positive uses for Snapchat, dinosaur purses, replica fingertips, Pony Island, and Old Man Mulligan

    * * *

    Pulp-ular Press:

    * * *

    Skinner Co. Announcements:

    * * *

    Mailbag:

    Also, many thanks, as always, Retro Jim, of RelicRadio.com for hosting FlashPulp.com and the wiki!

    * * *

    If you have comments, questions or suggestions, you can find us at http://skinner.fm, or email us text/mp3s to comments@flashpulp.com.

    FlashCast is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

    FP460 – The Tooth Fairy, Part 2 of 3

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and sixty.

    Flash PulpTonight we present The Tooth Fairy, Part 2 of 3
    (Part 1Part 2 – Part 3)
    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp460.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 find ourselves creeping through security to scale a tower – a tower atop which awaits a tale of horror, and perhaps some answers for an aging detective.

     

    The Tooth Fairy, Part 2 of 3

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

     

    The condo building was in the same neighbourhood the old man had been rambling about for a week, but its rows of pristine balconies, hanging from steel and glass construction, were so beyond the area’s gnaw-cornered wood and peeling paint that the entire structure left Smith with the impression the tower might have touched down whole, as if a landing rocket from some distant future.

    There was no doorman, but there were five separate cameras covering the lobby from all angles – just in case someone should slip past the call-and-buzz system bolted within the locked vestibule through which all visitors were forced to pass.

    Once the blaring ceased, and he was allowed entrance, he noted a well-equipped gym to his left and a sharply dressed woman in a suit sitting in the building management office to his right.

    Her stare tracked him as he shuffled to the elevator bank and pressed the button, and it stayed with him until the silver panels slid open and he disappeared inside.

    He didn’t blame her: His hooded jacket was a patchwork of cloth and leather, his salt-and-pepper beard was in terrible need of trimming, and his graying hair was as untended as he’d found it that morning when he’d awoken. He was quite sure if she’d been able to see the tattooed patterns that covered his body, whose inky lines seemed to occasionally shift under the gaze of the observer, she would certainly have barred his entry. He was the invader in this brightly-lit alien world.

    FP460 - The Tooth FairyAs the panel above the door counted off the floors of his ascent he worked hard not to raise a questioning brow at the camera. He was equally convinced that the woman in the front office was watching him carefully as he climbed, noting his departure on the twentieth – and topmost – floor, just in case she should be forced to give suddenly-summoned police officers directions on where the likely vagrant had gone.

    When he knocked at the door he was welcomed, but only once he’d waited out the scrape and turn of six individual locks. It struck him as overkill, even for so pretentious a building.

    “Hi, I’m Mulligan,” he said.

    “Sarah,” she answered with an executive’s smile, and the sometimes PI noted the sculpted perfection of her ivory teeth.

    “You have these locks before too?” asked Smith.

    “Yeah. I get – er – anxious at night. Doubly so now, of course.”

    She directed him to the living room, a neat collection of white leather furniture set against white walls. Scattered across the glass-topped table that acted as the room’s focus, however, were a spread of dog-eared comics.

    As she entered Sarah bent low and stacked the books.

    “My daughter’s,” she explained. “Megan loves to draw, and she spends hours staring at these old pages she buys at the local junk stores.”

    To Mulligan’s eye it did not appear the woman, dressed in a black blazer and slacks even on a Saturday, was interested in any hobby that didn’t involve a yacht or collecting travellers points for her air fare, but perhaps there was hope for the child yet.

    Whatever the reality he knew better than to judge his host by the size of her flatscreen or the fastidiousness of her pinned back and professionally dyed hair.

    They sat.

    “Can you tell me about what happened that evening?” opened the detective.

    “No, I don’t remember.”

    “Do you mean you don’t remember anything unusual that happened that evening?”

    “No, I have no recollection of the night at all.”

    Could this be the sign he’d been looking for? Had the arcane clouded her vision, stolen her memory? It was a tempting thought, but Smith spent too long being amazed at the oddities of mundane life to let himself jump to the conclusion – or lead his witness.

    “What DO you recall?” he asked.

    “Pain,” she said. “I knew something was wrong with my jaw as soon as I awoke in bed, but it was – it was hard to fully rise. My tongue felt huge, felt swollen, but when I used it to explore the rest of my mouth -”

    There was a tremor beneath the crisply applied makeup, and for a moment the exhaustion about her eyes was too much for her concealer – yet she fought it back, and finished her explanation with a carefully cool tone.

    “My mouth was filled with nothing but gums and stitches. Molars, fangs, fillings – all gone.”

    Her lips parted wide, revealing the ivory planks within, and with half a cough her dentures landed upon her outstretched hand. From behind her white leather recliner the sound of shuffling feet came from the hallway, and, with the speed of a conjurer’s trick, the false jaws disappeared from her palm and returned to their resting place.

    The weight of the telling remained on Sarah’s wilting shoulders, however.

    “Megan, I’m glad you’re here. Please show Mr. Smith out – I need to go to my room,” she said, then she stood and exited without a further goodbye.

    “She gets anxious,” explained the daughter, offering a smile that was all politeness and perfect – but natural – teeth.

    It was in that moment that the truth of the situation landed fully upon Mulligan, and he realized there was no arcane act – no mystic ritual – to be found along this toothless trail.

    With a final question, which Megan answered with but a hint of tremor in her voice, he exited, and as he passed under the watchful gaze of the rental agent he moved as if a man certain of his next destination.

     

    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.

    FP459 – The Tooth Fairy, Part 1 of 3

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and fifty-nine.

    Flash PulpTonight we present The Tooth Fairy, Part 1 of 3

    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp459.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 hear a strange tale of missing teeth as told to an oddly familiar old man.

     

    The Tooth Fairy, Part 1 of 3

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

     

    Federico’s was a strip mall bar, the sort that served easily fried foods so they could justify adding an “and grill” to their signage. In the lull between those who drank their lunch departing and those who drank their dinner arriving the place had fallen to near silence. A television bolted in a dark blue corner was muttering something about London, but its low volume meant only the bartender, washing cups at a hidden sink, could hear. It mattered little to the establishment’s two patrons, however, as they were locked in their own hushed conversation at a distant table.

    “So you heard about my telling it last night?” asked the balding man, his knobby fingers kneading the bill of his Cleveland Spiders ball cap.

    “Yeah – hell of a yarn, but you don’t sound as bad as I thought you would.”

    A series of browning lumps trailed the left side of the Spiders fan’s jaw, and the right had swollen to such an extent that his companion had initially held up a hand, between his view of the two halves, and wondered aloud that it looked like a before and after weight-loss ad – except, perhaps, that the physical trauma would likely scare off more customers than it would attract.

    “Fanks,” replied the injured man.

    “The way I heard it, you were saying it was the Tooth Fairy?”

    FP459 - The Tooth Fairy, Part 1 of 3“Yeah, well, listen, Johnnie Walker was helping me unspool the story, and sometimes, you know, when I’ve had a few, I get some weird notions.”

    The gray-haired listener ran his thumb over a wrinkled cheek and signaled for refills.

    “Same?” asked the woman at the sink, her eyes never breaking from London’s troubles.

    “Yep,” replied the buyer, then, lowering his voice and addressing his conversation partner, he asked, “you’re saying you don’t think there was anything out of the ordinary involved?”

    “Out of the ordinary?”

    “Yeah, you know, uh, inexplicable-mysteries-of-the-universe type stuff?”

    “Aw, man, I don’t know nuffin about that,” replied the non-swollen half of the face across the table, but, as he watched the drinks arrive, the questioner caught a sheen in his companion’s eyes and a twitch in his cheek.

    “Why don’t you just tell me what happened?”

    After a sip of his whiskey and ginger ale that only highlighted his missing front teeth, the drinker said, “well, as best as I can remember it started yesterday morning. I woke up thinking I had a hell of a hangover – probably the worst I’d had all month, and I’m no stranger. It was one of those mornings where you gotta pull yourself up outta the pillow hole, you know? As my feet touched the floor I had one hand scrubbing what felt like a sandstorm from my eyes and the other trying to wipe all the drool from my chin.

    “I was like a sail ship in a high wind though – top heavy and swaying between pieces of furniture in the hope that I was making some kind of forward motion.

    “Now, I’m not unfamiliar with waking up jagged, but I was beginning to understand I’d wandered into a new realm of pain. I didn’t remember getting in any fights the night before, but, well, that didn’t rule the possibility out.

    “After a while I made it to the hallway, and my goddamn stepson, late for school, came running through. I shouted the best ass kicking my tongue would allow, but that’s when he said, ‘Holy shit, you’re bleeding all over,’ and I really knew I wasn’t simply crudo.

    “Adrenaline got me to the mirror in the bathroom then, and it looked like my reflection had wandered into a slasher flick. Dried blood on my cheeks and fresh blood still running down my chin. Everything hadn’t puffed up yet, but as I did my best to scrub myself clean I could feel the lumps where the bruises would form – and then my teeth. My front goddamn teeth.

    “The evening before was coming back to me, but there was nothing interesting to remember. Early to bed after drinking my way through Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, but certainly not enough to wake up feeling like I did. I remembered locking the door before I crashed, as I usually do, and the windows were all still shut when I woke up. Jenny was already gone to work by then – but she always is, and she’d put the deadbolt in place behind her.

    “It’s hard to explain. Someone – someone had been in my mouth without my knowing, and not gently. I mean, look at this mess, this is the kind of thing that requires tools and some vigorous elbow work. Yet no one had heard a thing, seen a thing – no one had broken a window to get in, no one had forced the door.

    “Paranoia began to set in. I grabbed the kid and demanded answers, but it was clear from the look in his eyes that he had no idea what the hell had happened either.

    “By the time I was done disinfecting my mouth with Walker Red I guess I’d gotten myself worked up. I realize how nuts it sounds, but the shock of it, and perhaps the booze, left me feeling like it was either the goddamn Tooth Fairy or some dentist’s vengeful ghost.

    “Most of the bleeding seemed to have stopped, and I’d managed to get myself sort of clean, so I stumbled down here to tell the story.

    “Maybe, after all that I just needed to be around people, I dunno.”

    The tale ended with a hopeful look at his now empty glass. His audience ordered a refill, though the listener’s own can of unadulterated cola remained largely untouched.

    “Sorry,” said the drinker, as he tipped his newly-filled glass in thanks, “I guess, despite how much it hurts, the not-knowing still has me talking. Name’s Jimmie Hobbs, by the way.”

    “So I’d heard,” answered the stranger as his wrinkled hands dropped his wallet into the depths his hooded jacket’s inside pocket.

    Hobbs took another long sip and raised a brow at his gaunt benefactor. “- and you’re…?”

    “I’m just an old man with too much curiosity, but call me Mulligan – Mulligan Smith.”

     

    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.

    FC133 – Dead Things and Secrets

    FC133 - Dead Things and Secrets
    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashCast133.mp3](Download/iTunes/RSS)

    Hello, and welcome to FlashCast #133.

    Prepare yourself for: Ravine murder mania, body disposal, the actual Man in the Iron Mask, the Mob Book Club, and The Irregular Division

    * * *

    Also, many thanks, as always, Retro Jim, of RelicRadio.com for hosting FlashPulp.com and the wiki!

    * * *

    If you have comments, questions or suggestions, you can find us at http://skinner.fm, or email us text/mp3s to comments@flashpulp.com.

    FlashCast is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

    FP458 – The Flying Dutchman

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and fifty-eight.

    Flash PulpTonight we present The Flying Dutchman

    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp458.mp3]Download MP3

    (RSS / iTunes)

     

    This week’s episodes are brought to you by Glow-in-the-Dark Radio!

     

    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 witness to dead men wandering the highways.

     

    The Flying Dutchman

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

     

    McGillicuddy’s General Store had stood on its roadside lot for nearly a hundred years. Marty McGillicuddy, thirty, was now its manager, but, before him, Pa McGillicuddy had worked the counter as a child under the supervision of its founder, Pops.

    In truth, Pa could not quite allow himself to retire. Though he should have been having dinner with Ma by that dusk hour, he’d stayed on past his voluntary shift to finish telling his son of a twenty-year-past fishing trip – the old man rarely took vacations, so those few he’d allowed himself stood in vivid memory – but the recollection was put on hold as the store’s ancient bell rang twice.

    Someone was at the pumps. Decades after it was fashionable, the station had continued to offer full service – it was tradition, and, even in these days of fully electric cars and automated recharging, the human touch remained important to both McGillicuddy men.

    FP458Most of their traffic was local: Decades back the highway had been so efficiently straightened the town was no longer needed, but there was still a large enough dead spot between Capital City and Riverside, for those unthinking enough to have forgotten to fuel up, that the shop had managed to stagger on.

    Stepping into the evening heat, Marty pushed the vehicle’s “manual fill” button, hefted the connector, and flicked open the fueling panel. His eyes were on the horizon to his right, the sun having just set and the sky streaked with a thick red, yet he couldn’t remember if that meant sailors delight or take fright. Finally, when the magnets snapped into place to hold the transmission nozzle, there was little to do but loaf.

    He turned left, intending to identify which local was out so late, and everything he’d eaten that day was suddenly working to escape his stomach.

    At first he’d thought it was convertible – not a nice one, perhaps, but the sort of boxy job one of the townsfolk sometimes picked up to let the the wind run through their hair without leaving them bankrupt.

    His mistake was quickly corrected when he spotted the face staring at him from the rear seat.

    The stranger’s countenance had been withered and browned by exposure to sun and rain. His lips were pulled back hard against his teeth, as if locked in a madman’s grin, but it was apparent to Marty that the decapitated head’s skin had simply shrunk and pulled taut with time, revealing the smiling skull beneath.

    Looking to the front seat Marty caught a flash of orange, and then the manual fill button beeped.

    His mind largely focused on not vomiting, the attendant’s hand went to the connector, as it had dozens of times a day for years, and he pulled the lock free.

    Without pause the engine began to whine. The boxy Volvo pulled forward, signaled a left-hand turn as it paused beside the empty roadway, then it fled over the horizon.

    In the distance the Melkin’s dog began to bark, an echo of the normalcy that seemed to have otherwise abandoned the younger McGillicuddy. It was a full minute before Marty righted himself and returned to the interior of the store, but even as he moved his mind worked to sort the details of what he’d just witnessed.

    Noting his pallor, Pa asked, “Grandmother Templeford make another pass at you?”

    “I just – there was a headless dead man in that car.”

    “Ah, so you’ve seen the Dutchman then.”

    “Who?”

    “The Dutchman, as I’ve heard it, was a soccer fan. That’s why he’s wearing the orange jersey. Maybe he was coming back from celebrating a game, maybe he was just heading home after a long night at the office – whatever the case, his car was on autopilot and coming down an off-ramp when – well, you know those cheese slicers with the little wire on the end? The bolts on a guide line around the highway signage had fallen and locked itself between the branches of a thick oak. Just the right height to take the top, and the Dutchman’s head, clean off.

    “The GPS that ran the navigation was wired into an antenna on the roof, so the thing was immediately confused about where it was. Still thinking it was trying to get home, it got back on the highway and never stopped.

    “I guess they pieced together what had happened after discovering his roof, but the head apparently managed to land in the backseat.”

    Marty nodded, but did not interrupt.

    “The long-haul truckers’ll tell you that it operates on instinct. Keeps it on the road, keeps it away from other vehicles, and fuels up as needed.

    “Police cruisers have attempted to trail him a while, but every time they try to get close the collision sensors push up the car’s speed. By the time they get near they’re going so fast it’s not worth risking a second life to stop the damned thing, and I suspect its nomadic nature makes it easy for troopers to simply turn a head till its drifted into the next county and someone else’s area of responsibility.”

    Collecting his push broom to keep his trembling hands busy, Marty asked, “Who’s paying for the juice?”

    “Supposedly his wife. The way I heard it, he’s driving an all-too-sensible car, and it can go a mighty distance between having to touch a station. She only knows where he is when he checks in with a new gas up, but she’s always a step behind in her chase.

    “In the meantime the Dutchman is out there, drifting along the night highways and crawling country roads as the flies seed his rotting flesh.”

    The store fell to silence, the rows of soup cans and bagged chips finding nothing more interesting in the conversation than they had in any other across the previous century.

    “So,” said Marty, “what were you saying about that pike?”

     

    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.