Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Fifty-Three.
Tonight, we present The Glorious: The Taking Of Hill One-Five-Niner, Part 1 of 1[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp053.mp3]
This evening’s episode is brought to you by MayTunes.com
It’s like a leprechaun riding a unicorn to victory in the Kentucky derby.
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
“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.
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.