Tag: Flash Pulp

FP447 – The Murder Plague: Turnabout, Part 1 of 2

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and forty-seven.

Flash PulpTonight we present The Murder Plague: Turnabout, Part 1 of 2

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Nutty Bites!

 

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 return to Capital City where Harm Carter, father and former military man, has been contending with the homicidal paranoia inducing illness that is The Murder Plague.

 

The Murder Plague: Turnabout, Part 1 of 2

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

Here’s the thing about Hitchcock’s. Even as an incredibly sick, sometimes feverish, death-dispensing maniac, you are absolutely convinced that you are the only person on this planet-sized carousel who truly has their situation under control.

You’re hiding in an attic, and you’ve got scraps of paper pinned up on every surface. You spend your days with a flashlight – red filtered, as looted from the home of the dead or fled survivalist down the road – scanning the sheets of paper you’ve pinned to the insulation and roof beams. You’re using the red filter because it’s less noticeable than a white glow, despite the fact that it’s broad daylight outside and there are no windows in your attic.

You trace and retrace the colour-coded dots and scratches you’ve drawn, with pencils stolen from an abandoned school bag, and though the mess of lines and circles has begun to blur and smudge, though the heat has you sweating like a drug mule getting ready for an intercontinental flight, though you keep chuckling to no one but yourself, you feel like the king.

No one, you convince yourself, will ever break the code you’ve used to map out your routes, caches, and traps. No one, surely, could ever come up with such a clever system without leaving a hint or trail. No one is as smart, as careful, as PREPARED, as you are.

At night the only thing you hold closer than the section of map you’ll need for that evening’s expedition is the handgun you plan on using to defend your secrets.

Jokes on you, of course, because the neighbourhood you consider your kingdom is infested with plenty of other fools who also think they’re royalty.

The Murder PlagueSometimes the attacks are straight forward, and your survival, if you could admit it to yourself, is just luck. A gunshot rings out and you tell yourself you’ve escaped unharmed because you’re too fast to hit. A large woman with a machete and silent feet does her best Queen of Hearts imitation, and you tell yourself you’ve avoided the grave by knowing to bring a gun to a knife fight. Invaders break into your sanctuary while you are away, and you convince yourself that you’ve defeated the ambush they set by having left semi-hidden rat-poisoned food about the lower floors – and never mind that they might have waited till safely home to snack.

At some point, just before another dateless dawn, you’re almost done scratching Xs across the hand drawn chart of places you’ve cleared out for supplies, and, as you’re tugging at a garage door in search of gasoline or sharp-edged tools, you nearly get taken out by a log trap. A dozen trees, which you’ll later realized were stripped from a local schoolyard before being piled high in the quiet darkness, come rolling at you, and you damn near have your knees snapped backwards and your rib cage trampled by tumbling pines before you can leap left. Lobbing a Molotov onto the roof you wait till the attempted murderer stumbles from his haven and you end the wannabe Boy Scout with your pistol. You don’t think twice about having slain a frumpy man in a Star Wars t-shirt and thick-rimmed glasses. You don’t think twice about the pencil smudges on his fingers. You don’t think twice about the red-filtered flashlight he happens to be carrying.

You simply collect what you can use, shrug at the death of another challenger to the crown, and move on.

I – I simply collect what I can use. I simply shrug at the death of another challenger to the crown. I move on.

In the end the hardest aspect of the Murder Plague is not dealing with the corpses, traps, and scenes of violence, it’s in knowing that it was not some other carrying out these actions. I was not some passive observer staring at my hands as they locked around a stranger’s neck. It’s your fingers, your palms, your squeezing and struggling against the final jerks and snorts and twitches – but you have no control.

Maybe a week and a half after nearly being rolled flat like the Pillsbury Doughboy cornered by the Swedish Chef, I was creeping along one of the zig-zag paths I used to return to my shelter when I caught sight of something unusual: A dog barking.

Oh, my paranoia about the feral packs roaming the neighbourhood was already long standing – Were they being trained and controlled by someone else? Would they rush me for my supplies? Could the plague itself affect them? – but generally we’d had an understanding familiar to elevator passengers in a more civilized time: I pretended they didn’t exist, and they pretended I didn’t either.

The thing was, this mutt, a little Yorkshire Terrier that could have used a bath and a seven course meal, was yapping and yapping and yapping at the red door across the street. Now, it was a very quiet time. The sound of gunfire was increasingly distant, probably due to a decreasing population of people to shoot at, and the car engines were rare. There were no songs wafting through the air from a distant block, there were no trash talkers playing basketball on some other street, there were no couples arguing about dinner, the kids, or the bills. Any noise could get you killed, so every noise was suspect.

Yet here was this pooch yammering his heart out.

Given how many real humans I ended in my haze, it’s still strange that I’m struck by shame when I admit that I almost killed him. I was worried about his drawing attention, and my infected mind was so survival focused that it was already formulating the argument that I could use the extra meat.

Never mind that I had six months worth of cans already stacked in the attic, and another couple years’ worth scattered in holes at all corners of my hand-sketched map.

I stepped forward and reached into my right pocket for my tanto-bladed pocket knife. I raised my boot with the intention of pinning the fur ball down beneath the thick sole while I conducted my butchery.

The red door flew open and a bloody one-person SWAT team burst through the opening. The dog sprinted away under the gate to my right and my pistol was in my grip before I even had both feet back on the ground. This wasn’t just some slovenly gun fetishist buying equipment online before the collapse, however: I knew this armour. This wasn’t some hillbilly in a gas mask, this was someone who’d been bestowed the tinted bubble helmet and face mask the military had developed to deal with improvised explosives and ravenous undead.

I got one shot off, which landed with a flat thwack and little other effect, but the mountain of black tactical gear had breached the exit with a taser at the ready. They offered a shocking response.

My fire had nudged their aim, at least, and the electrodes landed askew on my looted rambler jacket. The first jolt hit just as I was peeling the thing off, and fight lost the battle to flight: I was halfway to the corner before my assailant had even tossed down their weapon.

What followed was something like a magic trick.

In my boot wearing days I was not entirely unfamiliar with such gear. More than once I’d had to wade through unpleasant business in a similar too-hot, too-heavy, and too-constricting style of getup. Even with the extra years under my belt I should’ve easily been able to outrace that younger version of myself.

I was aiming for the little blue house at the end of the street. I knew if I could make it that far – theoretically easy-peasy, given the clunky nature of my pursuer – that I’d probably be okay.

Putting a curb-parked soccer mom minivan between myself and the newcomer, just in the off chance that they should decide on a more lethal means of dealing with the situation, I turned my head to see how big a lead I’d widened up. I had maybe a hundred feet of pavement and fifteen feet of dying lawn to cover till I was safely away, and that’s when the miracle happened.

My pursuer dropped one foot at normal speed, then the second at twice that, and was suddenly up to a Corvette’s sprint. Somehow I doubled my own pace, but it damn near wasn’t enough.

As I cleared my objective’s white picket barricade my stalker scaled the hood of the van and left a trail of divots along the roof, and as I gulped a final breath of air and turned the door handle, my hunter went directly through the fence.

I slammed the entrance behind me and hustled to the sliding patio exit at the home’s rear.

It’s likely that not knowing what was beyond the closed entrance, while chasing a homicidally infected maniac through a largely abandoned neighbourhood, was enough to give the incredibly nimble hulk a second of pause, and that’s the only reason I had time to get clear and draw my lighter.

I’d been carrying that damned sparkler for weeks – just the usual sort of kids’ cake topper – but my fingers were so slick with sweat I damn near dropped the zippo.

Then it was lit, and I could hear the door on the far side of the building being kicked open, and I tossed my tiny pyrotechnic display.

The gas oven, unlit but otherwise fully engaged, had done its work well, and the resulting explosion was enough to finish my climb over the back fence.

When I returned to a vague sort of sensibility I stood. If there was anything left of my foe it would be worth scavenging: Especially if I could manage to get the blood off of that armour.

I was too clever to rush in, however. I hunkered down, listening and waiting. What if the intruder had survived somehow? What if the explosion and subsequent fire attracted an inquisitive local? If the riot squad really was dead then whatever kit they’d been carrying wasn’t going anywhere, and it was rare that such tempting bait presented itself to help flush out my neighbours.

As dusk hit, and the house’s embers guttered in its former basements’ rec room, I crept onto the street. There seemed to be nothing but me, the crickets, and the distant barking of a triumphant mutt who’d either found an un-spilled garbage can or the fresh remains of some unfortunate Capital City citizen.

Of course, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned, one of the problems with paranoia is that it’s never the things you could possible have calculated for that will get you. A man can spend his life in a Faraday cage to prevent death by cellphone radiation, but it’ll inevitably be the spouse whose sick of his lifestyle who buries him with a butcher blade in his back.

I mean, when I approached “the body” it was still sprawled out on the road pavement, where it had apparently landed on its back. It’s left leg was missing – well, missing isn’t the proper word perhaps, as a kevlar-wrapped chunk had clearly landed across the picket fence. I suspect the door must have sheared it off and tossed it in a different direction than the rest of the meat.

All that to say: The limb was thoroughly unattached, which is why, I’m sure you can see, I assumed that my victim, who had apparently been lying unmoving for at least two hours, was dead.

She let me get as far as the helmet, and then her eyes popped open.

I said “Jennifer?” and that’s when Ms. Atlas, current member of TV’s The Irregular Division and former comrade-at-arms, hit me.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

FP328 – Fastest Gun in the West

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and twenty-eight.

Flash PulpTonight we present Fastest Gun in the West, Part 1 of 1
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This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Final Shot Saloon

 

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, in an unexpected turn even to us, we take a trip to the dusty plains of the Old West to meet a lad of some renown.

 

Fastest Gun in the West

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

William “Brazos” Barden held a reputation for speed that few could match, but he’d worked for it.

It had started when he was eight. His father had stepped down from their wobble-wheeled cart with a pistol on his belt – a J.H Dance & Brothers black powder Navy revolver – and the younger Barden had fallen in love with the thing before he’d even finished helping unpack the supplies that crowded the wagon’s bed.

It had taken a month of asking, but Barden Senior had eventually been convinced to allow the boy to inspect the weapon unattended. On a warm Saturday morning in June his father had handed across the gun, after a careful inspection to ensure it was unloaded, and the lad had immediately bundled up the leather sling to scurry into the shadows of the barn.

William’s hours were spent drawing and firing, and every spray of imagined bullets knocked down a line of invisible road agents. It was nearly supper when he was finally ordered away to complete a day’s worth of chores in an hour’s time.

Skinner Co.In the following months his Pa found it increasingly convenient to allow the boy access to his fascination instead of laying aside pennies as compensation for the youth’s efforts on the homestead. It was soon the case that, despite dusty wind, or sweltering heat, or even impending storm clouds, William could be found in the shooting gallery of his mind.

Draw, holster, draw, holster, draw – the muscles of his arm became attenuated to little more, and his finger danced upon the trigger to the beat of empty-chambered clicks.

At the age of fourteen William had been wearing the weapon – now loaded and often used to scramble unwanted reptiles – when he’d stumbled across one of the Elmore brothers raising his voice to Father Barden while keeping his hand on his belt knife. It was late, and by the smell of whiskey on their breath Brazos knew they’d likely been at cards previous to his appearance. It seemed to be coming to a head as the lad approached, but, even as the irate guest began to flex his wrist to retrieve his blade, the younger Barden had drawn and planted his barrel against the man’s left nostril.

Wordlessly the pair had marched – one forward, one backwards – to the distant gate that marked the edge of their spread. By the time they’d arrived the drunken Elmore had swung from anger to melancholy, but William barred the entrance behind him nonetheless.

It was in recounting the story that the elder Barden gave his son his nickname, for each telling would conclude on the same statement that the lad had “damn near backed the bastard into the Rio Brazos.”

Still, it wasn’t gumption that made William proud, it was his speed.

At seventeen he collected three Comanches apparently fleeing, long distance, from the cavalry columns that rode the territory in search of their deaths or their surrender.

The trio were armed with weapons that would have been familiar to Grandfather Barden, but if it was good enough for the army, it was good enough for Brazos. Before they could raise their lap-bound flintlocks to scare off what they thought to be a hungry coyote, William’s ego had him standing beside their fire. He did so with his palms empty and his thumbs in his belt. When the youngest of the group, likely a year Will’s junior, moved to stand, the old cap-and-ball revolver found itself the quicker to rise. The single round it fired passed cleanly through the boy’s left shoulder.

Later William would tell himself, and those who’d listen, that it had been his intended target.

In the end it was a lucky result for the Comanches, perhaps, as the elder two captives were able to staunch the bleeding, and a life on the reservation was a small step up from a lonely death in the dusty stretches.

The story of their capture did much to bolster William’s name.

Two years later, when he was largely known simply as Brazos, and he’d traded his father’s seemingly-ancient pistol for a Colt, William encountered Chauncey Miller, another man with a reputation.

Chauncey was well known as a drunk, and a washed up Pinkerton, and it was said around most railyard card games that he might have once held the title of fastest draw in the Republic. He still wore a weapon at his hip, but he often spoke loudly about how rarely he’d used it since his supposed retirement. On such occasions his closest friends would raise a questioning brow, though they declined to argue the point.

Miller hadn’t been considering his notoriety as man of pacifism or war when he’d demanded payment from Brazos, he’d been solely interested in the whiskey the victory would afford him. His firm-chinned step towards William was meant as intimidation, not invitation, but Barden had become proficient with just one solution.

He’d fired twice before Chauncey had even cleared his leather, and the Virginian’s quadruply pierced hat was tumbling to the ground with a well-ventilated peak by the time the older man’s carefully oiled Peacemaker was brought level.

Brazos didn’t have the chance to make a third shot.

For three-tenths of a glorious second he’d been the fastest gun in the West – it was only through misfortune that he’d happened, that very day, to run into the man who remained the most accurate in that same territory.

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

FP312 – The Long Haul: a Blackhall Chronicle, Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and twelve.

Flash PulpTonight we present The Long Haul: a Blackhall Chronicle, Part 1 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp312.mp3]Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Glow-in-the-Dark Radio

 

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, Thomas Blackhall, master frontiersman and student of the occult, finds himself transporting a pair bound for a new life – if they can stay warm long enough to see it.

 

The Long Haul: a Blackhall Chronicle, Part 1 of 3

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

Leaving behind many troubles, Thomas had been forced into a long journey with two companions who were unprepared for the wintery undertaking. The warm air brought in by a passing blizzard had abandoned them, and the temperature had begun a treacherous descent. To pause even briefly under the snow-heavy pines would likely mean their end, but Blackhall was a man of no ordinary means. With some effort of coordination he’d been able to seat his charges within the confines of the Green Ship, an arcane relic whose driving engine was a drum empowered to form the barren branches above into a rolling sea of greenery, and a vessel to carry them.

Thomas Blackhall, Master Frontiersman and Student of the OccultThe longship’s soaring transit offered little shelter from the wind and drifting precipitation, however, and the Bells had just each other and a set of blankets to fight the encroaching chill.

Thomas knew that if the couple were to avoid the loss of fingers, toes, or worse, it would be by spotting a smokey column on the horizon.

Conversation was their last ward against shivering, but thanks and amazement only carried the Bell’s discussion so far. Soon, despite the fantastic events they had left behind, talk sank to the mundane. Still, James and Clara, their tongues greased from their narrow escape, seemed to chatter endlessly as Blackhall worried himself with the rhythm.

He’d been fatigued well before their sudden departure, and his shoulders still ached with his inbound voyage, but the frontiersman, understanding all too well the perils of such an underprepared excursion, considered that the alternative was likely silent fear, and, as such, did his best to encourage the waste of energy while providing as scant input as possible of his own.

After ranging over likely sources of assistance once civilization was re-achieved, the conference lapsed into a broader debate regarding the status, both marital and financial, of various friends and cousins. The topic of relations was much on Clara’s tongue, and it was with that hook which she attempted to more-fully draw out Thomas.

“- and what of you, sir? Have you a wife awaiting your return?”

Blackhall’s mind drifted to his capering Mairi and her own trek. He was forced to remind himself that even this damnably slow passage was yet another aspect of his chase, then he banished the image of his dead wife from his thoughts.

His drumming slowed, and the swell and sway of the limbs that carried the ship grew calm.

At a speed better suited to a summer afternoon’s fishing expedition, he said, “my arms tire, but disembarking is a trick I’d rather only attempt once. Let me tell you a tale of marriage and fidelity, while I briefly savor a slackened pace.

“Not but two years ago, in the fall, I met an old man named Erikson, a scrawny necked plow-wrangler living at the edge of a place barely known as Clifford, some miles east. The community consisted of perhaps four dozen souls, at maximum, and the timing of my appearance found them all in great sadness over the death of Mrs. Erikson.

“There was not a fireside in the place that was not made dimmer by her passing, and, though most were quick enough to ladle me a spoon of broth or share an end of bread, there was no joy to be had in the lake-hugging village.

“It wasn’t an easy thing to behold, those leaning huts and moping children, and nature itself, in its autumnal glory, seemed to feel the same: The leaves fell from the maples as if fiery tears.

“Now, I’d come not for its hospitality, mind you. I’d set out on word that a pair of huntsmen, fellows by the unlikely names of Hargo and Muse, had intention to ply their trade in the area.

“You see, I’d just arrived from the nearest town of Mikleson, which too had had a recent death. There they’d seen to the final rest of a boy of eighteen, and, once paid, they’d quickly struck out for fresh soil to churn. So survive vampire hunters and their ilk – even in these enlightened days.

“Clifford’s plans to improve their meager cemetery were often on the lips of the locals, but death is an inconsistent, and unfortunate, reminder, and I suspect they wanted as little to do with the patch as necessary when they might forget its presence.

“There were no more than twenty plots laid out in that strange garden, but all without stone markings, so that the engraved wood that had been used gave better indication of the age of the burial, by its rotting nature, than the hardly legible carvings indicating names and dates.

“With the populace in mourning black, their heads covered and their faces long, I’ve no doubt that Hargo and Muse thought their luck bright. Their profession is not one conducted any longer in open air, but instead relegated to secret dealings with grieving family or concerned community members.

“It was not long before rumour of midnight returns and mysterious illnesses had shot through every keyhole and passed over every supping table.

“Hargo and Muse required three days of haggling to convince Erikson to pay over their fee, and at no small tithe to his whiskey.

“The first time I’d met with the old man his eyes had been dewey and his fingers prone to trembling at the mention of his wife’s name.

“By the time negotiations were complete his gaze was clear and his hands steady.”

Thomas’ own fingers had grown numb from the unceasing blast from the north, but the lessened pace, and remembered anger, had eased the knots that had gathered about his neck and spine.

His palms fell with renewed purpose as he continued.

“It’s an easy enough trade, if you’ve the stomach to lie to the recently bereaved and mutilate the dead – beyond that it requires little more skill than ditch digging.

“I can but imagine that Mrs. Erikson – the only surviving image of which portrayed a woman of sharp nose and boney countenance – provided something of the perfect archetype of their profession.

“On the final night of the business, when every home’s lamps had been extinguished and the bairns lay deep in their dreams, the entrepreneurs lifted high the shaved spruce that acted as gate arm to the small cemetery and carried in their tools.

“The moon, unwilling to pay witness to the sight, had pulled a swath of cloud across its gaze, and the meager lantern’s work was made all the more difficult in their liquored grasp. How many sanctuaries had they crept into under such pretence? I can not say, but certainly enough that the thought of cutting out the heart of a grandmother did not cap their levity.

“Hargo was a blond man of medium stature. I believe he intended his suede coat to provide something of the air of a gentleman, but its poor patchwork and mismatched thread colourings did nothing to sell the notion. Muse stood taller by a head, a thin-faced man whose lips were far too close to the termination of his chin. It was he who spoke loudly of a fair-limbed daughter of the village, a girl who would one day certainly be beautiful, but who was, in truth, too young to be mentioned in such a tawdry dialogue.

“Still, they quieted when it came to squinting at the poorly-chiseled placards, and, by the time Hargo was preparing to raise high his shovel and begin the process of disturbing the bed of decaying foliage that lay across Mrs. Erikson’s slumbers, dread had clearly descended.

“The spade’s plunge was halted by the whispers and moans.

“Again, I can not say how often the pair had carried out their commissions, but I can assure you it was the first occasion in which the leaves upon each mound began to writhe and leap.

“Then there was no reason for the men to dig, for it seemed that the dead had saved them the effort by rising from their graves to meet them.

“I doubt either will ever return to their craft, but I had little chance to quiz them on the topic as that was the last I, or any of the people of Clifford – most of whom were by then wiping the mud from their pants and the mirth-filled tears from their eyes – saw of the scoundrels.

“It was the widower himself laughing loudest.

“They had underestimated Mrs. Erikson’s playful nature, but I had sat and listened to the tales. When her love of mischief was plainly clear I drew up the plan and proposed it to her husband, who thought it would be exactly the sort of tomfoolery that would have left his beloved cackling – and exactly the sort of tomfoolery that had drawn the woman so close to the hearts of the townspeople.

“Though the pair of charlatans had failed to settle any lingering dead, or even collect their supposed reward, it was their efforts that inadvertently slew the keening air that had lain so heavily over the hamlet.”

The reminiscence had left Blackhall craving the taste of tobacco and Spanish paper, but he knew he’d rested too long in the telling. The grins upon his passenger’s lips carried him some warmth, but it was the frosty prodding at the collar of his great coat, and the unnatural whitening about the edges of his passenger’s ears, that brought up his cadence.

The craft began to rock and buck under the renewed beat, leaping ever towards the crisp, empty, horizon.

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Freesound.org credits:

  • NATIVE DRUM LOOP B 16BARS 100BPM.wav by sandyrb
  • Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

    – and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

    FC80 – Canadian Hobo Pennies

    FC80 - Canadian Hobo Pennies
    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashCast080.mp3](Download/iTunes/RSS)

    Hello, and welcome to FlashCast 80.

    Prepare yourself for: Sexy Anne of Green Gables, space marines, suspecting Agatha Christie, a real life superhero gunfight, and Mulligan.

    * * *

    Huge thanks to:

    * * *

    * * *

    * * *

    Backroom Plots:

  • FP310 – Mulligan Smith in White Hot Rage
  • * * *

    Also, many thanks, as always, Retro Jim, of RelicRadio.com for hosting FlashPulp.com and the wiki!

    * * *

    If you have comments, questions or suggestions, you can find us at http://flashpulp.com, or email us text/mp3s to comments@flashpulp.com.

    FlashCast is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

    FP310 – Mulligan Smith in White Hot Rage, Part 1 of 1

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and ten.

    Flash PulpTonight we present Mulligan Smith in White Hot Rage, Part 1 of 1

    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp310.mp3]Download MP3
    (RSS / iTunes)

     

    This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Flash Mob – join us on Ning and Facebook!

     

    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, due to the pressing business of a Skinner Co. Saturday Night Board Meeting, we are preempting our expected Ruby tale to present this scene of anger and advice starring everyone’s favourite private investigator, Mulligan Smith.

     

    Mulligan Smith in White Hot Rage

    Written by J.R.D. Skinner
    Art and Narration by Opopanax
    and Audio produced by Jessica May

     

    “Listen,” said Mulligan, “anger is an important natural response. I know there’s a lot of talk about how it’s a negative emotion – that it leads to the dark side of the force and all that – but sometimes white hot fury is all you have.

    “You, out of anyone, should know that.”

    Beneath a stuffed and mounted Northern Pike, Billy Winnipeg’s cliff-like shoulders heaved in indifference.

    “It’s like my hoodie,” continued the detective, “it represents a direct line back to the kid-sized sweater Mom gave me when I was twelve. You can’t just let someone steal that kind of heritage from you!”

    MulliganWinnipeg looked away from the dimming embers in the cast iron stove. At the best of moments the shack would have still been too small for the mammoth man’s comfort – but, now, as the last of their heat drained away, it only seemed to shrink.

    “I was with you when you bought that thing,” he said. “You got it like, two years ago.”

    “Yeah, but I was wearing the hoodie from a generation back at the time – and I was wearing it’s granddad the time previous.”

    “Huh.”

    The pair fell into silence as the private investigator gathered his thoughts.

    “The fire’s out,” he finally said, “If you don’t get angry, you’re going to get dead. Understand?”

    Billy squinted, as if he were attempting to, but he still had to reply with a “no.”

    “What I’m saying is, your Mom’s lasagna tastes like a cat vomited into its litter box and she smothered the whole thing in cheese before popping it in the oven.”

    Winnipeg’s brow creased, but he persisted in refusing to look at his animated friend. “C’mon, isn’t this bad enough?”

    As he spoke, his hand remained firmly on the copy of Rod and Reel Monthly that acted as his lone protection against the rapidly cooling air.

    Mulligan replied, “bad enough? You know what, I’m willing to bet that Collins didn’t just steal our clothes at gunpoint. This is a story he’ll want to tell, but it’s not worth bragging about yet.

    “Yeah – I bet he’s turned back to your place.

    “It’s only a few hours: Hell, another fifteen or twenty minutes and he’ll be sweet talking your mom. Won’t be midnight before he has her tied to the bed posts and moaning his name. By tomorrow she’ll be so shattered by your death he’ll likely end up your posthumous father-in-law.

    “Oh, and, meathead, posthumous means after you’re dead.”

    The giant bellowed at this verbal slap, his modesty and melancholy forgotten, and Smith barely made it to the fishing hut’s splintered door before the mountain rose and gave chase.

    The lakeshore was a mile off, but they covered the distance in eight minutes.

    It was witnessed by just one man, Gregory Thompson, and he would speak of the pair of screaming naked men on every rare occasion that he drank till the day he died.

    Three hours later, Mulligan pulled on his black sweater. Zipping its familiar lines felt as if he were stepping into a warm home.

    Then it was Collins’ turn to run.

     

    Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

    Freesound.org credits:

    Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

    – and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

    FP309 – Mulligan Smith in Blood, Part 1 of 1

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and nine.

    Flash PulpTonight we present Mulligan Smith in Blood, Part 1 of 1

    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp309.mp3]Download MP3
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    This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Flash Mob – join us on Ning and Facebook!

     

    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 open on a family in turmoil, the Dukes. What has driven the son, Tory, to sickness and silence? What has driven the father, Rufus, to near madness? Only one private investigator, Mulligan Smith, truly knows.

     

    Mulligan Smith in Blood

    Written by J.R.D. Skinner
    Art and Narration by Opopanax
    and Audio produced by Jessica May

     

    With his Uncle Greg leaning against the doorframe that lead to the kitchen, his mother pacing in and out of the front hall, and his father positioned directly in front of him on the living room’s mahogany and glass coffee table, Tory Dukes knew he had nowhere to run.

    Mulligan Smith“Say something dammit,” Rufus repeated for the third time. It was rare for his dad to be sitting so close, and the sixteen-year-old could easily smell the coffee he’d had for breakfast.

    “Where is he?” asked Samantha, her eyes looping constantly from the hall to her son’s silent face.

    Tory could offer only shrugs.

    “I’m not sure needling him is going to help,” offered Greg. As he spoke, he shifted from a cross-armed pose to stand with one thumb in his jeans’ pocket.

    Rufus’ lips curled. “Of course you would say that.”

    It was an unexpected statement to no one but Greg, who replied, “whoa, what?”

    “Boys – boys like him just don’t get AIDS,” suggested Samantha. Her gaze was locked on the thick beige carpet at her feet.

    Greg’s hand dropped away from the denim. “You – it sucks that you’d even think that.”

    Not bothering to turn towards his in-law, Rufus cleared his throat. “Look at the situation! Here’s this lonely teen with barely a friend in the world, and in sweeps gay Uncle Greg after years of being nowhere in his sister’s life. You want to have Sunday dinner here; get to know us; take Tory, and his nerdy pal Guthrie, out to the city; give us advice on how to dress, eat, and raise our kid.

    “Yeah, It’s all seeming pretty clear now.”

    “I just wanted to be a brother and uncle,” replied the accused.

    The boy’s face raised briefly, casting a nod and a tear at Greg. Rufus caught the look and his grip on the mahogany grew tighter.

    He said, “except suddenly Tory has AIDS – just like you.”

    “Yeah, and where the fuck have you been? He’s got a disease I’ve been dealing with for years, on my own, without you – my only family in the world – caring enough to visit. I’m here with hot soup if you so much as complain of a sniffle, but I spent three weeks in the hospital last year with the flu and the best you could do was a card with flowers. You have no idea how I hated that damn plastic plant. It was a fake flower representing the fake relationship I had with Sam.”

    “So this is your sick idea of revenge?”

    “I understand that you’re upset over Tory, and I can only imagine what it’s like to be such a dick that my own son won’t talk to me about where he got a life threatening disease, but you need to relax until your hired snoop shows up. I mean, Jesus, you don’t even know the difference between HIV and AIDS.”

    Rufus’ forearms, still locked on the table’s surface, began to tremble.

    He returned to the interrogation of his son.

    “Did he give you drugs?”

    Tory shook his head.

    “Did he force you to do something you didn’t want to?”

    Tory responded with another negative.

    “Are you – are you gay?”

    Tory rolled his eyes, but finally spoke. “I’m dead anyway, why should I tell you anything?”

    “Whoa, whoa, there,” said Greg, “that’s exactly why I came: I’ve been fighting the same thing for a long while, and I don’t plan on dying of it any time soon. I’m not saying it’s always going to be a dance party, but you’ll probably outlive us all.”

    There was a knock at the door. Samantha was quick to answer.

    Beyond the peep hole stood a man in a black hoodie, his mussed hair wet from the rain and a lanky boy standing beside him. The woman recognized the lad as Guthrie, Tory’s constant companion throughout tenth grade, and still likely his best friend despite having moved from the state at the summer’s end.

    Behind the drizzle-blurred windows of the Tercel parked at the curb, Samantha could make out the outline of a woman. Her mind raced at the unexpected tableau, and her assumptions became nothing more than fertilizer for new questions.

    When the private investigator raised his fist to knock a second time, she flipped the deadbolt.

    The pair’s arrival in the living room immediately set off a cannonade from Rufus’ mouth.

    “Guthrie? What’s wrong with you? You look like bloody vampire,” then, with only the briefest of pause, he wheeled on his son, “you are gay!”

    For his part, Tory, ignoring the stream of questions and commentary, simply raised an unenthusiastic hand to greet his friend.

    Smith took in the sullen teen and his narrow-faced father, then raised a brow at Samantha. Finally, he focused on Greg.

    “Your tip was exactly what I needed,” he said.

    “I knew it,” sighed Rufus.

    “What, that your semi-estranged relative understands your kid better than you do? Congratulations,” answered Mulligan, as he tugged at his sweater’s zipper. The room reeked of sweat and shouting, and the PI wasn’t much of a fan of either. He turned to Samantha. “He gave me the info necessary to get ahold of Tory’s bestie. Honestly, from there it was just a matter of looking into the Guthrie’s eyes and asking some gentle questions.

    “Hell, as soon as I came anywhere near a guess at what was going on he broke down in tears. His family doesn’t realize how sick he is – they’re the type that doesn’t ask much as long as he makes it to church on Sundays.

    “Your son isn’t gay, but Guthrie is. The boys are just unluckily timed blood brothers, and Tory is the kind of stand up guy who wouldn’t out his friend before he’d managed to raise the courage to tell his family.”

    The quieter of the newcomers nodded in agreement.

    “Now, I hate to cut this short,” continued Smith, “but Guthrie’s Ma is waiting in the car because Pa couldn’t pull himself together after hearing the recent news. That said, it’s worth mentioning that, while both of these urchins have a rough go ahead, at least one of them has someone solid they can depend on.

    “You folks, and Tory especially, are lucky to have knowledgeable Uncle Greg around to support him – you know, like an actual loving family member.”

    With his assignment complete, Mulligan re-zipped his hoodie and turned to leave.

     

    Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

    Freesound.org credits:

    Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

    – and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

    FPSE15 – The Legend of the Wolfe Family’s Vacation, Part 1 of 1

    Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode 15.

    Flash PulpTonight we present The Legend of the Wolfe Family’s Vacation, part 1 of 1

    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulpSE015.mp3]Download MP3
    (RSS / iTunes)

     

    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 snowy terror and survival, as told from Capital City to the slopes of Aspen.

     

    The Legend of the Wolfe Family’s Vacation

    Written by J.R.D. Skinner
    Art and Narration by Opopanax
    and Audio produced by Jessica May

     

    Urban Legend
    For more information on this questionable legend visit the wiki.

     

    Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

    Freesound.org credits:

  • Little fire by Glaneur de sons
  • Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

    – and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

    FP308 – The Big Bad Wolf, Part 1 of 1

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and eight.

    Flash PulpTonight we present The Big Bad Wolf, Part 1 of 1

    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp308.mp3]Download MP3
    (RSS / iTunes)

     

    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.

    He frowned.

    “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.

     

    Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

    Freesound.org credits:

    Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

    – and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

    FC78 – Chewing Invisible Meat

    FC78 - Chewing Invisible Meat
    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashCast078.mp3](Download/iTunes/RSS)

    Hello, and welcome to FlashCast 78.

    Prepare yourself for: Mini Kiss, respecting the ’70s, human library books, peanut butter gore, Frankenberries, and Mulligan Smith.

    * * *

    Huge thanks to:

    * * *

    FP307 – Mulligan Smith in The Patient, Part 1 of 1

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and seven.

    Flash PulpTonight we present Mulligan Smith in The Patient, Part 1 of 1

    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp307.mp3]Download MP3
    (RSS / iTunes)

     

    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, our private investigator, Mulligan Smith, is confronted by raised voices, and fists, while loitering in a nursing home.

     

    Mulligan Smith in The Patient

    Written by J.R.D. Skinner
    Art and Narration by Opopanax
    and Audio produced by Jessica May

     

    The first, the cousin, came at lunch, six hours into Mulligan’s vigil.

    He was unexpected, but Smith simply assumed that he wasn’t the only one with a friend at the front desk, and that a nurse coming onto shift had called in the tip-off.

    Mulligan SmithThe PI’s back ached – he’d been sitting, unmoving, in the uncomfortable green chair since his arrival – and any good mood he might’ve begun the undertaking with was lost somewhere in the fourth still hour.

    The building was too cold, especially given the adjustable hospital bed’s frail occupant. The old woman, her gaze locked on the ceiling, weighed no more than a hundred pounds, and that, the detective reflected, was with the generous inclusion of the single thin sheet she’d been assigned.

    Mulligan had wrangled some extra bedding from Bubba, the friendly nurse, but he’d also made a note to tack the cost of a thick blanket onto his expenses – he knew his client wouldn’t mind.

    Despite the act of kindness, the cousin’s lips had curled back from his stout face, and his perfect teeth were bared.

    After receiving no reaction, the newcomer forced a conclusion through his locked jaw.

    “You don’t belong in here,” he said.

    “Well, frankly,” answered Smith, “no one belongs in here.”

    “I mean in this room specifically, smartass.”

    “Huh.”

    The silence that had been threatening to lull Mulligan into a nap again descended. He considered pulling up his sweater’s hood as a final act of dismissal, but decided that causing further trouble would only be a hinderance.

    Besides, the annoyance was already easy enough to read on the cousin’s face.

    The stranger took a step over the threshold, and the PI perked a brow. The interest was for naught, however, as the man turned back to the hall, clearly determined to find security, or at least a strong-voiced caretaker, to turn Smith out.

    Mulligan knew he wouldn’t find anyone willing to do it.

    He continued to sit, his phone in hand and his spine at an awkward angle.

    * * *

    The next to arrive was the daughter.

    He knew she was coming well before setting eyes on her: The gurgled weeping that had echoed along the cream linoleum and yellowing dropped ceiling had announced her entrance as thoroughly as any trumpet.

    Once her wailing had fully entered the small chamber, she asked, “why are you bothering my mother?”

    The daughter was sharp-chinned, and her fingernails were encrusted in bejeweled polish in such a way as is only maintainable by the dedicated and those who never use their hands for anything more difficult than lifting a glass of Pinot.

    She did not strike Mulligan as particularly dedicated.

    With a sigh, Smith replied, “I’m not bothering her, but, to answer your actual question – why am I here – I’m being paid to be.”

    “Did Dad send you? I want nothing to do with him, and neither does she.”

    “Nope.”

    “Why are you doing this to us? To me? Don’t you think it’s hard enough to watch the most important person in your life slip away like this?”

    Each question was accompanied by a wavering sob, and the full phrasing was punctuated by stuttered series of gasping inhalations.

    Mulligan cleared his throat. “I think you mean the richest person in your life – do you find it cold in here?”

    “What?”

    “You know, chilly. Frosty.”

    “I guess?” asked the newest intruder.

    Smith’s shoulders rose and fell.

    “Seems like a lady who worked that hard is entitled to some warmth,” he said, then he returned to staring at the corner across the room from his unyielding armchair.

    “Oh, yes, yes, she deserves so much better,” came the answer. “She had so much left to teach me, there are so many places we should have had the chance to go to together.”

    “So why don’t you use some of that bank account she’s dying on top of to move her out of this dump? I happen to know there’s a decent place less than three blocks from your house, Amanda. You made good time getting here though.”

    Daughter Amanda’s voice changed gears into half-whispered accusation. “Who’s paying you? Why?”

    Her cheeks were suddenly dry.

    “Elnora Solomon, MD,” replied Mulligan, though he didn’t bother to shift his view.

    “The doctor who diagnosed Mother? We haven’t seen her in two years! What could she possibly want?”

    Smith offered up a second shrug, and the drone of the home’s occupants shuffling outside the door became the only noise.

    When it was obvious Mulligan was content to simply sit in silence, Amanda announced that she was calling the police, then she departed.

    With a roll of her eyes, the long-inert mother shouted “seventy-two,” then returned to silence.

    * * *

    Three hours later, the son appeared.

    His collar was loose, his jacket low on his neck, and his breath was sharp with the stink of hops.

    “Hello, Allen,” Smith said as welcome.

    Allen’s reputation was shaky at best amongst the patrons of the sports bar he frequented, and Mulligan knew to expect raised fists.

    The tall man did not disappoint.

    “You’re going to start a fight in a nursing home? In front of your mother?” asked Mulligan. “Listen, I’m guessing you just got off work, so you stopped by some place on the way and had a bit out of the tap to help straighten your back before kicking my ass, right? You start a punch-up, though, and the cops will come. They’ll smell the Miller time, and I’ll tell them whatever I damn well please, because they’ll believe my word over a drunk’s.”

    It was enough to bring Allen’s approach to a stop, but it did not stall his fury.

    “What kind of shit is Dad pulling? Is he making a play for my share of the will? What’s his angle? Whatever it is, how can he be thinking about money at a time like this?

    “Hell, you can go back to him and tell him he won’t be getting crap all more. I’ve got lawyers on it.”

    “Lawyers? Sounds like you’ve been thinking about money at a time like this,” replied Mulligan.

    “Six thousand, four hundred and ninety-six,” gasped the bedridden woman.

    Smith nodded.

    “When Doctor Solomon moved,” he said, “you sure were quick to get Ma into low-rent old folk storage. I understand that it only took you two doctors to come up with a declaration that she was nothing but a husk waiting for death, which must have eased your conscience a bit.

    “Thing is, Parkinsons takes a long time to kill a person, and it doesn’t do it in a terribly fun way.

    “I was in here yesterday, talking to the nurses, and a big guy named Bubba tells me he sometimes thinks she’s more with-it than she appears, because he’s seen her say things that seem related to what’s going on around her, only way after the events have happened.

    “That got me thinking. This morning I came in early – I knew I might need a lot of time – and I asked her what her name was.

    “Took her thirty-six minutes to reply, and then I realized that I’d forgotten to turn on my phone’s recording app.

    “I apologized and asked if she could repeat it. Forty-two minutes later she said, ‘it’s ok, I’m Deb.'”

    Allen looked to his mother, then back to Smith.

    With his fists tight, he asked, “what are you getting at?”

    “I was hired because the Doc felt your mother’s descent was too quick. Maybe you’re a bad son, and maybe you shopped around for the shortest route between here and her tombstone for the money – I couldn’t tell from how far I’d poked around.

    “What I did unexpectedly discover, however, is that she’s still in there, she just can’t get it out. She knows her name, age, the current president, and she just answered a math question I had to use a calculator to verify.

    “I’m no doctor, but it seems I’ve made something of a breakthrough in her treatment. I’m no lawyer, either, but I suspect today proves she’s cognizant enough to make her own decisions on what to do with her money – be that her will, or getting transferred out of here, or having the stream of high-powered drugs she’s being fed re-examined.

    “I was just trying to prove a theory, but you and your family really provided the icing – all that weeping and threatening and lawyer talk isn’t going to play well with a judge, I suspect.

    “It’d play even worse if anything happened to your beloved matriarch between now and her day in court.”

    Smith stood. His legs were stiff but he forced himself towards the door, saying, “hey Bubba!”

    Before Allen realized there was no one in the hall beyond, and that he truly did want to hit the hoodie-wearing man, the detective was gone.

    Twenty-seven minutes later, the mother said, “finally.”

     

    Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

    Freesound.org credits:

    Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

    – and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.