Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Ninety-Four.
Tonight we present Aspect, Part 1 of 1[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp094.mp3]
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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 present a suburban haunted house tale, in the classic style.
Flash Pulp 094 – Aspect, Part 1 of 1
Mike watched as a lone blackbird wheeled below the clouds, riding winds too high to cool the boys roasting in the hot and sticky sun.
For the moment the other two eldest were focused on the youngest, which was a rarity.
“Miller was whispering it to a couple of people, and I heard it while I was on the swings,” said Joe-boy, Mike’s little brother. “The house between Anne Eaton’s and the place with the camping trailer in the driveway is haunted.”
“Ain’t no such friggin’ thing,” said Tucker, Mike’s best friend.
“Hey – I was in a haunted house once, things were flying at my head, my mom got like totally lifted off the ground and stuff, it was crazy!” replied Puggs. Mike could have done without the lanky fourth-grader hanging around, but whenever he opened the door to the outside world there he seemed to be, waiting on the sidewalk.
“Yeah, right. When was that, before or after you and your uncle supposedly caught a UFO on tape?” Tucker had considerably less patience for the braggart.
“Hey, you know I’d love to show you the tape, but my stupid sister recorded over it with a bunch of iCarly episodes.”
Mike ceased listlessly spinning his bike pedal backwards.
“Have you got a better suggestion?”
Tucker shrugged. It was at least another hour before lunch.
* * *
The place on the left had opted for paving stones in the driveway and the place on the right had decided the windows overlooking the garage from the second floor would be round instead of square – otherwise, the trio of houses, as could be said about every home in the Whispering Pines suburb, were identical.
Still, the pulled curtains and dying potted flowers that fronted the reputedly haunted residence were enough to stifle Tucker’s skepticism.
“My Dad says he hasn’t seen the guy who owns the place since he moved in,” said Puggs.
“Your Dad says he killed nearly two-hundred people in the Persian Gulf,” replied Tucker.
“He’s gonna show me his ear-necklace when I’m old enough.”
Mike ducked his head back and forth to check the road for elders, then dropped his bike onto the lawn and approached the shining expanse of glass surrounding the front door. The others followed.
Except for a single chair, slightly askew, the entry hall was empty. None of the boys could identify anything further in the dimly-lit space beyond.
“Maybe the guy moved in, then got so depressed about living here that he hung himself,” offered Puggs.
“There’s no one in there. He’s probably at work,” replied Tucker. Despite his bravado, the boy was no longer peering into the darkness.
“Yeah? If you’re so sure, why don’t you go in and check?”
To the surprise of all, Mike tried the handle.
It was locked.
“Miller said he was walking by at night and saw red-glowing eyes upstairs, but when a car drove by, they disappeared.” Joe-boy retreated to the entrance’s step as he spoke.
Mike took another long moment to stare into into the shadows that crowded the lone chair.
“What if we try the magic window?”
The magic window was the name the boys had given a basement frame that had been consistently mis-installed throughout the neighbourhood; the locking mechanism rarely seated properly, and they occasionally used the defect to their advantage when they’d forgotten their home-keys.
The group rounded the side of the house.
“If I start running, its not a ghost, its ‘cause I heard an alarm beep. You run too.” The lead boy bit his lip, considering, then added: “Joe-boy, get on your bike.”
His brother required no convincing.
Standing at the edge of the small pit that was the window well, Mike had a notion, as he often did when he awoke in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, that if he let his legs descend, his ankles would be grasped by some long-nailed horror.
“Uh, I’m going to pull it open from up here, in case someone inside yells.”
Setting himself on his knees, he reached below. Using the friction of his greasy palm against the pane’s cool surface, he moved it first up, then over.
The pinky on his left hand, the hand he’d had pressed firmly against the window, disappeared in a roar surrounded by a halo of shattered glass.
Puggs wet himself.
Tucker stood in a stupor, his eyes wide, his arm extended towards the injury, uselessly.
Spotting the red running down Mike’s wrist, Joe-boy began to cry.
Bike forgotten, the injured youth began to run home, blood and tears leaving a trail behind him on the sidewalk. The others followed like a flock of starlings alighting from a tenuous perch.
* * *
Despite spending the majority of the remainder of the summer grounded and healing from his gunshot wound, Mike was greeted in the fall as a schoolyard hero: the boy who’d discovered the booby traps of the haunted grow-op.
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.