Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and eleven.
This week’s episodes are brought to you by the the new 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 priorities, misunderstandings, and apocalypse.
Flash Pulp 111 – Marked, Part 1 of 1
When Emmett Mender entered the world, his grandmother, on his father’s side, was the only one in the waiting room to raise an eyebrow at the oddly shaped birthmark on the back of his right hand. Carolyn, Emmett’s mother, had suffered a long and difficult pregnancy, and so it was to both parents that the blemish seemed nothing when measured against the joy of a successful delivery.
Still, as proud father Michael paraded the freshly scrubbed newborn through the room, there had been that gray and bushy eyebrow, askew.
Emmett’s childhood brought on the occasional misadventure: he broke an arm at ten, while climbing a neighbours apple tree to pilfer some of their harvest, and he’d once been caught with an unpaid-for chocolate bar in his sweater’s front pocket while departing a 7-Eleven. Otherwise, his youth was quiet, and the pleased parents found him an affectionate boy.
Despite the happy times, Michael began to notice an increasing change in his own Mother. She’d always been a sweet woman, but Grandmother Mender’s tongue had recently become sharp, and most especially in the presence of her grandchild. She made no secret that she considered his chocolate theft a life-long stain for him to prove against. Her church attendance tripled in fervor as well, although she seemed to have little patience for the mercy that was preached there.
Two weeks after his fourteenth birthday, Emmett refused to accompany his parents to their weekly Sunday dinner at his grandparents, stating that he had no interest in spending more time re-listening to the litany of complaints that always seemed to flow from his grandmother’s mouth as soon as he breached the door.
It was only three days later that Grandma Mender collapsed, convulsing; a day after that she was diagnosed as having a terminal cancer invading her nervous system.
Emmett attempted to visit while she was in the hospital, but he did not find any closure in the trips, as the old woman was deeply unconscious throughout. He decided instead to try reconciliation with his grandfather.
“I know things haven’t always been great, but -” was as far as he’d gotten before the old man had laid his leathery palm heavily across the boy’s face.
“This is your fault,” as well as the slap, was the only reply he would get.
No one could have known it at the time, but Grandfather Mender’s breakdown had begun the moment he’d watched his wife tumble sideways to the floor. She’d been interrupted mid-sentence, and the complaint she’d been voicing regarding her hooligan grandson would never be completed.
The disease worked quickly, and within a month the family was gathered about her grave, weeping and mourning – all but Emmett, who’d been told by his father that it might be best if he were to remain home.
While Carolyn and Michael often attempted to play-down his grandfather’s implications, the burden was a heavy one for the teenager to carry, and he began to ease his load with the assistance of the varied spirits he found in his parent’s liquor cabinet.
As soon as the casket was out of sight, Grandfather Mender had taken up his wife’s pious scheduling. He spent most waking hours in the Lord’s house, tending the fires he would then unleash at the continued Sunday meals. Not a week went by in which he did not berate son and daughter-in-law regarding the significance of the mark that adorned Emmett’s hand.
It was Michael’s encouragement that brought about the final meeting; he had no way of knowing how badly his father’s psyche had shattered. To work up his courage Emmett had secretly spent the morning sipping at a flask of vodka, and, by the time he arrived at his grandfather’s table, his tongue had worked itself into belligerence.
The old man was quick in accusing him of being a work of Lucifer, and the boy’s expletive-laden reply did little to prove otherwise.
“Lord, aid me!” the old man shouted, leaping across the serving dishes with his steak knife in hand.
He would never fully clear the over-cooked roast, however. The table began to buck under him, and the beams of his aging home groaned at the birthing strain of the forgotten deity, Kar’Wick. In the end, all would know the same fate, in the shadow of the Spider-God’s gnarled carapace.
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.