Welcome 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
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.
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