FP308 – The Big Bad Wolf, Part 1 of 1
Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and eight.
Tonight we present The Big Bad Wolf, Part 1 of 1
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This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Nutty Bites podcast.
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 suburban anxiety dressed in sheep’s clothing. Consider it a lesson in presumption, revenge, and carnage.
The Big Bad Wolf
Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May
Horace Hastings watched the trio of twelve-year-olds march along the sidewalk below the window of his second-floor bedroom.
He thought of his often trampled lawn, of the constant fence-jumping to retrieve rogue balls, of his strong suspicion that they’d once emptied his unlocked BMW of change.
“Three little pigs,” he said, “each slightly larger than the other.”
No reaction came from his wife, Agatha – he’d forgotten she’d already left for work.
Horace’s gaze tracked the baseball bats in the children’s hands, and his grimace deepened.
He was late for a meeting, however, and finishing his tie’s half-Windsor knot soon required his full attention.
* * *
On Friday afternoon, two days later, Hastings was staring at the expanse of ravine that made up his backyard’s rear boundary. Generally it was too overgrown to tramp through, and was thus left for the likes of the trio of swine, but, today, he’d pulled on an old pair of rarely-worn jeans in preparation for an expedition into the brush.
Miss Marple was missing and he’d be damned if he’d sit through an evening of listening to Agatha complain about the disappearance of her beloved cat.
The tabby was largely an indoor animal, but she occasionally liked to range the yard for birds and sunshine. Though Horace often ignored his wife’s advice of keeping a close eye as the creature prowled, this was the first time she’d disappeared from the fenced space. There was just one direction she was likely to have went.
He fell twice in his descent, but, once at the bottom of the broad gulch, he realized a faint path wound between the scrub and cedars. Wiping dirt and dead leaves from his knees, the suburbanite hunter began to follow the trail of broken grass while shouting after his feline. He suspected it was a fruitless undertaking, as the beast had never come in his decade of attempts to summon her, but he hoped she might at least raise a frightened mewl at the familiar sound of his irritated voice.
What he found instead was a fort of questionable construction.
A motley collection of lumber and corrugated metal had been assembled into a crude shelter. Its interior had been decorated with well-handled pictures of nude women, clearly ripped from the pages of low-grade porn mags, and the planks that formed the structure’s squat roof bristled with reasons to require a tetanus shot.
Mildly surprised that their sow-ish mothers had allowed them to range so far, Horace thought, “look at the shabby house those pigs have built.”
Sitting atop the nail-filled platform was Miss Marple. She was licking at a long-empty tin of salmon and purring contentedly.
“It’s time to go,” announced her supposed savior.
The cat couldn’t be bothered to spare him a glance.
“Ingrate,” said her owner. “I hope you cut your tongue open.”
The empty can only grew emptier.
Annoyed at the slight, the obviousness of the boys’ plot to lure away his cat, his dirty jeans, and the wasted half-hour, the reluctant rescuer kicked apart the nearest poorly constructed wall, sending a bevy of topless beauties into the mud. The violence was enough to turn Miss Marple into a gray streak heading for the safety of home.
Grunting in satisfaction at the results of his demolition, Horace followed.
* * *
The Hastings spent their Saturday morning at a flea market, but after being sure they’d thoroughly locked in their four-legged ward.
It was unexpected, then, when they returned to discover a route of escape had been forcefully created, even though Miss Marple had been too content in her position on the couch to use it.
As Agatha moved to collect a dustpan, Horace stood and cursed at the window as if his angry words might somehow reverse the flight of the rock that had shattered it.
By the end of his tirade, he knew who to blame – and how to exact his revenge.
The second trip into the gully was greased by his rage, and within moments he’d laid eyes on the freshly mended shanty.
He was huffing and puffing by the time he’d torn the shack down. No busty lady remained whole, no board held tight to another, and even the patches of metal sheeting had been bent beyond repair by a thick length of angrily-swung tree branch.
Returning home, Hastings discovered his wife had already made the necessary calls to replace the damaged pane, leaving him free to eagerly watch for the boar-ish triplets descent and subsequent discovery of their destroyed camp. They did not pass, however, and eventually thoughts of lurking behind a curtain with the portable phone in his hand, ready to call law enforcement as he caught the miscreants in another act of hooliganism, lulled the fatigued Horace into sleep.
He was awoken by Miss Marple, scratching at his face in panic.
Despite the pain, it was not his bleeding nose that he first took notice of – it was the smell of smoke.
The warning provided a narrow escape from the blaze that the Hastings’ house had become.
As the homeless couple, and their cat, stood shivering on the pavement awaiting rescue, a gaunt faced man appeared. His hair was wild and long, matching his unkempt beard. He began to bay and cackle at their dismay.
“Be it ever so humble,” he crooned, before letting out another howl.
None of Horace’s ensuing language was strong enough to drive him away. It was only once the sound of approaching sirens overcame the snap and sizzle of timber that the rousted vagrant, having completed his act of retribution for the loss of his haven, disappeared into the shadows that danced beyond the quivering flame.
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