Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and eighty eight.
Tonight we present, Coffin: The Appearance, 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, Coffin encounters something unusual amongst Dorset’s occult patrons.
Flash Pulp 188 – Coffin: The Appearance, Part 1 of 1
It was Saturday night, and Will, with his roommate on hand for company, was sitting in a corner booth at Dorset’s. Bunny was vigorously moving a glass of vodka and coke from the table top to her mouth.
“So I can’t have x-ray vision, then?” she replied between gulps.
“Well,” said Coffin, “I’m not saying it’s an impossibility, I’m saying you may not like what you find. A few years ago, I met a big time nature lover. A rich widower, he’d traveled the world looking for someone who could grant him his deepest wish: He wanted a Doolittle, you know, the ability to speak with animals.”
“Oh hell yeah,” answered Bunny, “that’s what I’m talking about. Adopt me a pooch I can order to get beer out of the fridge, maybe a budgie that can fly ahead and let me know if there’s a line up at the Pita-torium. I’d be all “who’s a good boy,” and they’d be all “Me!” – I could even tell them to clean up their own ####!”
“Listen, because you can communicate with someone doesn’t mean you can convince them to do anything. The guy I knew got his way eventually, and, within twelve months, he despised wildlife – pets too. He said engaging them was like trying to have a conversation with a brain damaged toddler in need of massive doses of Ritalin.” As he spoke, Will noted the glass entrance swinging open. “I saw him rush a Siamese cat once. I guess Doolittle had spent the better part of his morning having to listen to the feline declare its lust to the neighbourhood.”
“Poor horny pussy,” replied Bunny with a smirk.
“To be fair, he was also that impatient with people – probably why he hankered for the company of beasts, though he didn’t realize it was the mystery of the lack of understanding that he loved.”
Will had dropped his tone as he completed his story. Just inside the doorway, a tall blond scratched at his unshaven stubble as he took in his surroundings. After a moment’s consideration of the outlying booths, and the round tables at the center of the space, the newcomer approached the bar.
At the sight of the man, the three Steves, who’d been sipping at their Coors while chatting up the establishment’s owner, pulled their caps down low, and spread out. One headed towards the washroom, another chose a distant seat, and the third readjusted his focus to the cable news channel playing endlessly to the left of the liquor shelves which stood behind the long run of oak.
“What you got on tap?” asked the stranger as he settled on a stool.
“Yeah, yeah, in a minute,” replied Dorset, whose eyes were fixed intently on the television. The murmuring box was unwinding a commercial for Chicken McNuggets.
Five minutes later, the patron’s second call for service finally pulled the bartender’s attention to his job.
Pointing at the remaining Steve’s beer, the blond asked for a helping of the same.
The Englishman selected an ill kept mug and pulled a draught from the taps, which seemed mostly foam – worse still, the ale further suffered when, in placing it before the customer, an apparent accidental tweak of the wrist sent a portion of the lager onto the purchaser’s jeans.
Without apology, Dorset returned his focus to the silver-haired news anchor.
Bunny noted that the smattering of regulars around the room had fallen silent, and that all were intent on sipping at their beverages with down-turned faces.
“Fella doesn’t appear very welcome,” she said to Coffin, her voice a whisper.
“Nope,” he replied.
“If he’s some sorta Megadeth kiddie-chewin’ demon mother####er, aren’t you supposed to be this dive’s bouncer?” she asked.
Will leaned forward.
“He’s not a demon, and he hasn’t caused any trouble – yet.”
A scrawny twitching man burst into the quiet from outside.
The visitor, who Bunny thought of as The Insomniac, gave Coffin a wave, then headed towards the proprietor to place an order – which was quickly filled.
“Can I get a second?” asked the damp-panted tippler.
“Yeah, yeah, in a minute,” replied the server.
With raised brows, the rebuked turned on the recent arrival, and they briefly locked gazes.
“Stare at something-####ing-else,” said the spastic drinker.
His pupils shivered with his decades of sleeplessness – a condition often confused, by local law enforcement, with a raging methamphetamine addiction.
Abandoning the dregs of his mug, the insulted, and thirsty, man stood.
“This dump is balls,” he muttered, slamming down a five dollar bill and not bothering to wait for change.
As the latch clicked shut, there were multiple audible exhalations across the tavern.
The barkeep tossed Will a smile.
“Jeez, you’ve totally gotta tell me that guy’s story – was he, like, angry drunken Thor or something?” asked Bunny. “Reincarnation of Jack the Ripper? A ###damn inter-dimensional, tentacle-pervert, Nazi experiment?”
Coffin cleared his throat.
“Who knows. Some civilian. Just a schmuck off the street who’s better off being along his way,” he said.
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