Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Eighty-Five.
Tonight we present Time and Again, 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 encounter an old friend while hurtling rapidly through time.
Flash Pulp 085 – Time and Again, Part 1 of 1
The three men, a cowhand, a palaeontologist and a geologist, had been about their expedition for only a single day, and yet each knew that he hated the others. Still, there was little entertainment to be had on the journey, so turns were taken in telling stories, to which the listening pair usually paid only the most passing of heed.
On their first evening together, the trio were camped out under the open skies of the plain.
The cowboy set the tone as he interrupted a scholarly debate to tell the first tale.
“Well, fellas, you can say what you like about your fancy degrees,” spitting into the darkness, he poked at the fire with the short length of stick he’d held back from the kindling, “but when I look out at these plains, I see miles of open sky, fresh air to breath, and the ghosts of the buffalo that used to roam here. I can feel the freedom of the range and reflect on the settlers who once rode through here on their covered wagons, using nothing but their hands and gumption to build the foundation for everything we have today. I don’t think you’ll find that in a book or cramped office.”
Neither in the audience took well to being told what was best in life, and, after a few moments of silence, each excused himself to his bedroll.
On the second evening, after another day which the cowhand extensively characterized as “spent looking at old rocks”, it was the palaeontologist who first chose to speak.
“You may speak of the ghosts of the buffalo as if they were the noblest beast to have roamed these lands, but, when I look out from under this speckled night, and over these grassy reaches, the image that comes to mind is not one of empty spaces and four-legged mammals, but of a jungle menagerie of species. The hunting packs of Chirostenotes, their plumage stark against the trees as they glide towards their prey with deadly intention; the low and long mourning call of a widowed Lambeosaurus; even the stillness of the dawn air as a Chasmosaurus munches contentedly on the stock of a plant we have yet to encounter.”
The man had been cleaning his glasses as he spoke. Returning his spectacles to the bridge of his nose, he turned to his companions to observe the impact of his tale, which he was sure would be profound.
Instead of introspection, he saw only aggravation.
“How can you not even understand that all rocks are old?” the geologist said to the cowhand.
The large-hatted man did not reply, nor did he look up from the small block of wood at which he was whittling.
On the third night, the geologist finally tried his hand.
“I heard what you two had to say, but I can’t get fired up over such piddling matters. When I look out at this plain I see burning lava and the star dust that this planet was formed from. I see the top layer of a mystery that goes hundreds of miles down, like the outside of a jigsaw-puzzle’s box giving you a snapshot of the glory contained within. Buffalo? Raptors? So what? They were nothing but fleas on a million year old dog; come and gone in the blink of its eye. There’ll be a day when this area, from horizon to horizon, is burnt clean by the heat of fusion, and this night breeze is wiped away by scorching solar forces, and yet these rocks and dirt will still be doing something fascinating; still be churning and rumbling and quaking.”
For the briefest of moments a synthesis happened, the gathered finally having come to some understanding.
It was a short lived unity.
The grassy expanse began to buck beneath their feet, and each man lost their lofty ideals and knew only terror as they gazed upon the visage of a new age, the thousand-eyed stare of Kar’Wick, The Spider-God.
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