Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and thirty-five.
Tonight we present, Coffin: After the Jump, 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, urban shaman, Will Coffin, and his tipsy roommate, Bunny, find themselves seeking answers from the living, while contemplating the dead.
Coffin: After the Jump, Part 1 of 1
Daytime traffic had long drained away, and the Konitzer Bridge, a span over Capital City’s Lethe River, stood empty but for the trio of late night pedestrians beneath its gray iron-struts.
Will Coffin, who was in the lead, was providing some historical background to his companions.
In the December cold, his words were steam.
“Like a lot of the grand expansion projects from the ’50s, the thing was falling apart by the mid-’70s. The second construction crew lost three more guys in a sudden collapse, bringing the toll to five. Word got around that the whole stretch of road was cursed – which isn’t actually true – but it provides a certain mystique to the rock-bottom addicts, depressed teens, and betrayed lovers, who come to jump.
“Doesn’t hurt that the other two bridges actually lead somewhere people want to go, leaving this a lonely place to stew awhile.”
The second in line raised his brow, and tugged at his lavender shirt-cuffs.
“I know large gentlemen who will make you familiarly intimate with the workings of your lower intestines if you do not let me go.
“Listen, be smart. I always get what I want in the end, so just deal now and we’ll get it sorted before we freeze where we stand.
“What are you even looking for – money? I can hand you plenty of cash, but there’s no ATM out here, genius.”
Bunny, whose arm was extended beyond the rail, released her now-empty bottle of Silent Sam vodka, and mumbled a count of the seconds until it impacted.
“Well, Don,” she said, “you’re a bit of a ####ing dabbler, aren’t’cha?”
“Wait, you’re hear to scare me away from Judy? She – I haven’t seen her since she got the divorce papers.”
Coffin cleared his throat.
“Don’t you mean since you tried to end her marriage by murdering her baby? Whatever the case, it’s not the woman, but the poisonous dog you gave her, that we’re here to discuss.”
Don’s eyes widened.
“Uh,” he said.
“Yeah,” replied Bunny.
Before continuing his tour narration, Will raised himself onto the lowest rung of the safety barrier, and craned his neck and shoulders over the ledge.
“It feels a bit precarious, but if you really lean out, you can see the pylons that hold the bridge up. They built them seamless, to avoid giving the Lethe something to wear at, but their greasy cement is often the last solid thing the suicides touch.
“It’s not quite as far a fall as they think, but the water moves quickly, and generally finishes the job.” Having completed his survey, Will stepped down, and turned to his captive audience. “Who created the hex that was tattooed on the mutt? I’ll repeat the question as many times as necessary, but, I warn you, each asking is going be considerably less pleasant.”
“You can threaten to kill me,” said Don, “but he can do things to me that make death look like a kindergarten nap-time by comparison.”
“Coffin ain’t here to give you a hug, either,” replied Bunny. “Frankly, the way you treated that little girl, I’m about ready to jab you myself.”
Her unsteady hand held an angle-bladed knife, with a golden spine.
“Wait, did you say Coffin?” asked the once homicidal suitor.
By way of answer, Will produced a silver chain from his pocket. Holding high the hook that was affixed at its end, he gave Don a clear view of the meat plug speared within the barb’s intricate loops – then the shaman gave the talisman a pendulum’s swing, which built in speed to full revolutions.
Don stepped back, as if to run, but found Bunny at his shoulder, and an unpleasant pressure on his spine.
“####,” she said, ”I’ve never held anyone hostage before, this is kind of fun.”
The dusting of snow which had settled in the pavement’s cracks, and upon the chill girders, took to the air, and, below, waves began to form on the black expanse of water.
The charm gained momentum.
Don, now gripping the railing with one hand, and holding closed his suit jacket with the other, thought he caught sight of a swimmer. As he squinted against the wind, he became sure it was a woman in a tank top, her arms beating uselessly against the flow.
He spotted another, a thick-armed man wearing overalls, and another, a boy of fifteen, with hair past his shoulders and a bare back.
They did not glow, but teemed with luminescence, as if the afterimage of a snuffed candle.
“Holy ####ing nightmare-LSD trip, Batman,” said Bunny, “look at ‘em all.”
A dozen forms were now visible, and pained faces continued to break the surface.
“I – I can’t,” pleaded Don, his chin trembling.
As the hum of the spinning trinket intensified, he realized the swimmers were making progress. The tank-topped woman was now out of sight, beneath the cusp of the ledge, and he was unwilling to lean forward to make out her progress in ascending the supports.
He wondered how many were below, scaling the slick columns.
As four translucent fingers curled over the concrete-lip at his feet, Don began to weep.
Before the phantasm could make further progress, however, a turning taxi’s headlights danced across the trio.
In response, Will lowered his arm, letting the silver links coil about his wrist.
With little sputter, the gale ceased.
All was still.
“You will tell me where you purchased the hex,” said Coffin, “and you will open a trust fund for little Victoria, which you will deposit a thousand dollars into, monthly, for as long as I allow you to live. You will never sleep with a married woman again, unless her husband’s in the bed with you. Finally, If I ever smell your name associated with the occult, I will be sure that you are right here, and available to provide me with a profuse daily apology.
“Do you understand?”
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