Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Sixty-Six.
Tonight, we present Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Surfing, Part 1 of 1[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp066.mp3]
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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 we present a tale from the education of Joe Monk, well before he became The Emporer Of Space.
Flash Pulp 066 – Joe Monk, Emperor Of Space: Surfing, Part 1 of 1
Joe Monk had been traveling with his new friend, the short and hard-shelled alien who called himself Macbeth, for three weeks. He’d learned a lot in that time, all at the alien’s insistence.
They had just completed another short history lesson.
“Ugh, listen, I appreciate your help, but I don’t really – I mean, that noise, that ghastly whine, I’d just rather not,” said Joe.
“These are the customs of your people!” Macbeth replied, his pincers working the ship’s controls. The giant egg’s engines began to throb as the Sagan drive prepared for more heavy lifting. “When you left Earth, space onboard was very limited – what you had in this crates’ libraries is nothing more than a thumbnail of what your civilization got up to before it was wiped out.”
Joe didn’t look convinced.
“Look,” Macbeth continued, “history is defined by the relics left by the civilization that created them. You need to understand what your people were doing – it takes a while, sure, but that’s sort of the nature of history.”
Macbeth hummed to himself over his own joke, a habit that bothered Joe, as he rarely understood what the gag was about.
“Fine,” Monk replied. Changing the subject was a trick recent to his repertoire, a trick he decided to employ. “What are you doing now?”
“Surfing,” replied Macbeth. “All of these things are moving in waves, and to catch what we need, we need to ride those waves. We speed the ship up – in this case we have to travel, uh, call it left, for seven light days – to get ahead of the waves moving through the ether, then we slow down a bit and let everything wash right over us. Well, it’s not quite that simple, really. The modifications I made to this heap are doing most of the work, but those are the basics.”
Joe lay down on his couch, preparing for the acceleration.
Not for the first time, he wished that the ship had picked a lush garden planet full of Betty Grable look-alikes to make its first landing on, instead of the toad-filled dust ball on which he’d found his companion-turned-tutor.
“Have you heard the story about the girl who eats the bad apple and meets seven short guys?” Macbeth asked, as he hobbled about – his stouter constitution allowed him free movement, even under the increased wear and tear of extreme g-forces.
Joe pretended to be asleep, indicating such with a comically-loud fake snore.
It was another something new he’d recently learned.
* * *
Hours later, they slowed, deploying software and sensor suites to suck up, filter, and reconstruct the useful bits of local radiation.
Macbeth shook Joe out of an actual nap.
“Time for another history lesson, kid.”
Monk stood, rubbing his eyes with his palms.
He could smell food in the air – Macbeth often enjoyed a snack during lesson time.
The pair took up their usual stations, and the viewing screen before them displayed the content the ship had siphoned from the deep black.
The familiar face of the screeching woman took up the entire monitor.
“Oh,” Macbeth hummed delightedly, “I’ve seen this one! Lucy goes to work at a factory, and…”
With a nod, Joe deployed another recently acquired skill: pretending to listen.
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