Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Ninety-Nine.
Have you ever wanted to stare longingly across the table at a beautiful re-creation of yourself?
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, Private Investigator Mulligan Smith must plumb the depths of the The Temple Of Ortru, in search of truth for a desperate client.
Flash Pulp 099 – Mulligan Smith and The Temple Of Ortru, Part 1 of 1
Mulligan entered the room just in time to watch the huddled men moan over their companion’s death.
Three weeks earlier he’d met with the victim’s wife over a cup of mid-afternoon coffee. She’d worn a simple blue dress, with quite a bit of gold tucked about her neck, and she’d obviously taken care in arranging her graying hair into a simple, but prim, bun.
“I don’t want to bring it up to him, just… just in case.”
“I think it’s a pretty extreme thing to imply your husband is in a cult, if you don’t mind me saying so.” Mulligan had taken a long sip from his cup after his response, paying as much attention to her body language as he’d paid to her story. Once, a few years earlier, he’d spent six days chasing ghosts for a man who’d claimed he was being threatened. It had taken his third visit to the client to realize the problem: that the only thing harassing him was a head full of bad wiring.
He’d only charged the man half his usual fees.
Still, the housewife didn’t seem crazy, just a little neurotic.
“I’ve heard him talking on his phone about.. things,” Mrs. Tuttle had replied.
“What kinds of things?” He’d taken up his phone, his thumb prepared to enter notes on anything that might be of use.
“Something about demon lords? Something about the Temple Of Ortru?” Her hand had shook as she’d picked up her mug. “He laughed a lot, and it sounded so vicious, so unlike him.”
“Has he been away from the home more often recently?”
“Well – he’s always spent Thursday night at O’Neil’s, downtown, but a few months ago things changed. He never told me he altered his plans or anything, and sometimes he’d still mention a story he’d heard from his drinking buddies, but his breath didn’t smell as beery as usual, and if I asked anything more about what happened, he’d just sort of change the subject. Now he just never mentions it at all.”
Mulligan had accepted the case, but he’d assumed that the truth of the matter was much more likely to involve the husband having an affair, while his wife utilized her overactive imagination to maintain her denial.
With that idea in mind, it was with some surprise that he’d noted Tuttle’s behaviour as the man was leaving his home on the following Thursday.
As the wayfaring husband, still wearing the suit he’d returned from work in, said his goodbyes, and exited the front door, he’d taken a moment to ensure his wife hadn’t decided to approach a window to see him off, then ducked into the house’s garage.
A moment later, he’d exited with a knapsack appearing thoroughly out of place strapped across his jacketed shoulders, and gotten into his cream coloured Cadillac.
Mulligan’s first attempt at tailing Tuttle had been a bust; he’d gotten hung up at a red light and was forced to watch his quarry turn a corner in the distance and disappear.
The second week had been much more successful, however, and the PI had happily jotted down the banquet of information represented by the license plates gathered in the driveway of the bungalow at which the chase had ended. What is kept private in the real world is often embraced online, and, via some favours and Google, Smith was quickly able to come to solid conclusions regarding his client’s husband’s evasiveness.
On the third week, after the caddy was safely empty an hour, and the entire cast of Mulligan’s previous visit had long entered the house, the detective had scooped his blue slurpee from the Tercel’s driver-side cup-holder and approached the door.
After a brief explanation, the squat, black-haired woman who’d answered his knock had shown him down a short hall at the rear of the house.
They’d found the men gathered there, their eyes afire with intensity and sweat on their brow.
“I was murdered! Bloody warlock.” said Tuttle, muttering from the far corner.
Mulligan noisily sucked at the remnants of his cup’s offerings, drawing the attention of the crowd.
He tipped his straw towards his prey.
“I’m not the kind of fellow to judge a grown man for playing Dungeons and Dragons, but, I think your wife has a right to know.”
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.