Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and eight.
This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Bothersome Things Podcast
Sort of like the Dukes of Hazzard, but with more naughtiness, and less jumping cars.
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, Harm Carter attempts to make a difficult phone call, mid-apocalypse.
Flash Pulp 108 – The Murder Plague: Emergency Response, Part 1 of 1
Unsure of how to proceed – given that anyone I might encounter would be infected, and, thus, likely to make an attempt on my life – I opted to continue with my original plan of contacting the authorities. Reaching across the corpse of the doctor, I lifted his portable phone from its charging base. That’s when I heard a low rumble.
The roads had been very quiet since I’d found myself participating in the end of the world, so the sound of an approaching engine, a large one, was enough to draw me to the living room’s bay window, even before I could dial.
From around the corner of my curved suburban street came a firetruck, which roared to a halt in front of a lawn five houses down the row, on the opposite side of the pavement.
It was a two-story home, as was, frankly, every residence in the cookie-cutter neighbourhood, and, as the fire engine came to a stop, a blond woman in a nightgown appeared at a second floor window. Her body language told me she was pleading for assistance from the new arrival, but I could hear little through the distance and thick glass.
For a moment I held out hope that a squad of hazmat besuited professionals would begin piling out of the red truck, like clowns out of a car, but instead the vehicle seemed to carry only its driver, a fresh faced young fellow in a black uniform adorned with a red emblem and a name tag.
His thick arms and well-cropped hair were calender material, certainly, and I can only assume he meant well as he jogged to the front door in response to the calls.
It was unlocked, and, as he moved inside, I lost sight of him. At the same moment, though, the woman came into view, once again at her dormer. She rushed the pane open, and exited onto the roof, then, on hand and knee, she scrambled towards the peak.
Although I did not recognize the female, I could readily identify the man that followed her – he was a rotund neighbour of mine, easily recognizable from his nightly habit of standing in his garage with the door up, a beer in his hand and an eager word on his lips for any who might share in his sudsy bounty.
We’d never exchanged conversation beyond hellos, but he’d seemed friendly enough – at least until he appeared with a sizable knife in his hand.
He was nearly onto the roof when the fireman took the upper floor and began yanking bodily at the attacker’s ankles. It was an ill conceived plan, and within moments the aggression had been turned from the lady bestriding the house, and onto the would-be rescuer.
As the pursuit moved into the interior, I could not make out its particulars – I did, however, witness its conclusion: the younger of the pair either jumped, or was thrown, from the same window that the woman had earlier used in her escape.
He fell flat onto the grass, lucky to have partially landed on an Azalea bush.
Pulling himself to his feet, he picked up speed as he approached the truck and removed a fire axe from a side compartment. Still, the beer-lover was quick to return to his hunt. He was halfway onto the roof when the woman acted, slamming down the heavy window frame, and pinning her assailant in place before he could bring his weapon around.
The blade swung wildly, but the makeshift trap held.
Noting the change in fortunes, the firefighter seemed to rethink his plan. He moved back to the truck and detached a ladder, which he set at the side of the house. With one eye on the ensnared, and his axe still in hand, he pulled himself up. The woman didn’t seem to notice the approach until the climber neared, and she was only a few feet away as his head cleared the gutters.
There was a quick exchange then, words I couldn’t hear, and the axe was thrown some distance onto the roof, likely in an effort to prove good intention.
With a lightning-fast shuffle, she pressed her slippered foot hard against the top most rung, and the ladder drifted out into space, paused briefly at its apex, then toppled backwards.
The second fall was less lucky, as the arc of his platform carried him away from the grass and hedges, and instead hoisted him over the much firmer roadway.
I think that must have been when the paranoiac distrust that is the prime symptom of the plague conquered his underlying desire to help. To be fair, it’s tough to call it paranoia when you’re chased out of a second story window by a three-hundred pound man wielding a cleaver.
He was raging loudly as he rose, a fist pumping the air towards the still watching woman.
With his axe on the roof, I suppose he went with the weapon closest at hand: the truck.
The crash must have ruptured a gas pipe, as the home, with only a foot or so of the red behemoth’s tail still protruding, immediately began to smoke and flame.
I dropped the phone and made for my car.
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.