Tag: tale

FP270 – Coffin: Infrastructure, Part 3 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and seventy.

Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Infrastructure, Part 3 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp270.mp3]Download MP3
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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Haywire.

 

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, Will Coffin, urban shaman, and Bunny, his tipsy companion, encounter a twelve-hundred pound canary.

 

Coffin: Infrastructure, Part 3 of 3

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

 

A half hour of walking had left Bunny wondering if Oregon was an incredibly uneven state, or if she’d perhaps had a bit too much whiskey along the trip.

Finally, however, the path’s intruding branches had thinned, and the brush had given way to a broad lawn.

The grass was ankle deep, and dotted with weeds and wild plants, but the trees were meticulously shaved, creating a field of ornate posts holding aloft a thick canopy of green. Cropped maples, bare of foliage for the lowest twenty feet, stood as support to the thick-trunked sequoias that dominated the view. Faces, scenes, and ornate patterns, had been carved into the surface of the lumber, lending the space the feeling of a naturally grown temple.

At the center, made tiny by the timber pillars that rose around it, was a cabin made of generously applied mortar and rough stone.

There was a large man at the door, in jeans and a plaid flannel shirt.

He was smiling.

“That’s Pa Keeper,” said Coffin. “He’s nice enough, but watch it with the colour commentary. He’s an old fashioned family man.”

“####, do I refer to him as Pa; or Mr. Keeper; or THE Keeper; or the right honourable Keeper, LLC; or what?”

“Just call him Levi.

“Keeper’s not a title, though, it’s his surname. Blackhall picked it. I guess the Victorians were really into that sort of thing.”

“This guy knew Blackhall?” To Bunny’s fuzzy vision, the nearing man looked about fifty.

“No, but his great-great-great-great grandfather did, give or take a great. He was the first Keeper – and the first Axe-Holder, which IS a title, of sorts, held by the eldest living Keeper. Actually, a few decades ago this clearing had three other huts in it – two sets of aunts and uncles, and an Axe-Holder’s widower, but there was an, uh, incident, and now Levi’s branch of the clan is all that remains.”

They were nearly within conversational range with the stranger, but Bunny couldn’t help but make her opinion clear.

“Understanding the history doesn’t make it sound any less ####ing weird,” she said.

“You’ve never had trouble calling me Coffin,” Will replied.

Now that they were within a reasonable distance, he raised his voice.

“Hello there, it’s been too long.”

“Too long by half,” replied Keeper.

* * *

Before moving into the shelter of the stony walls, Bunny thought she heard something like a bull bellowing in dismay, but, instead of inquiring after the noise, she decided it was a low priority on her list of mysteries to solve for the day.

The home’s main chamber was a combination of living room, kitchen, and great hall, with a massive fireplace commanding the majority of the northwest corner, and an upper loft which presented a row of bedroom doors behind a mahogany balcony.

Every wooden surface – the railings, the roof beams, the wall planks – had been adorned with a mix of monstrosities and nature. To her right, on a windowsill overlooking the direction from which they’d come, Bunny noticed a set of detailed trunks that she guessed to be a representation of the forest scene outside. To her eye, the carved bark of the etched trees was worn and faded, but the demons that crept about the image’s edges appeared freshly hewn.

Despite the ornamentation, however, the focus of the lodging was undeniably the double headed axe which rested above the mantelpiece. Cast from a single piece of silver, the gleam of the wide haft was broken only by the leather bindings that formed its grip.

At the room’s center was a banquet table, upon which lay a selection of steaming meats and roasted vegetables, hemmed by a double row of place settings. A collection of carafes and decanters were distributed across the planks, the contents of which greatly intrigued Bunny.

Though there were dozens of chairs set out, none were occupied.

Still, Coffin found a seat at the furthest end.

The conversation was largely filled with the personal details of an aging family: The recent departure of his youngest daughter to be married; a particularly successful hunting trip with his son, Mathias; the stubborn nature of his oldest, Malinda. Before long Bunny found she had a greater interest in the gargoyles decorating the walls, and the spiced rum warming her throat.

Her attention returned, however, when Keeper, with his chair creaking from the stresses of his languid stretch, said “An hour till dark, now.”

“Time to see the canary?” she asked.

Will gave her a straight answer, for once, by rising and shrugging his leather-jacketed shoulders.

* * *

Due to the increasing gloom, the rougher terrain, and her own drunkenness, Bunny found the second leg of the hike considerably more difficult.

It did not help that the further they progressed, the nearer they seemed to come to a raging Incredible Hulk imitator with a megaphone. The shouting was sporadic, however, and fell to silence when they arrived.

They found Malinda, the eldest, sitting upon the cusp of a pit whose edge was as crisply cut as any of the cabin’s engravings.

She stood and hugged her father, then gave her report.

“He managed to shatter one of the struts to use as a throwing weapon,” she said, pointing to the projectile, a rectangle of timber which Bunny thought was likely stout enough to act as a police force’s battering ram. “We’ll have to get a replacement in once Bax is napping, but getting that one broken down took a lot out of him, so I don’t think he’ll have much interest in disturbing the backups.”

The gathered four were clustered at the lip of the drop, and Bunny’s gaze worked busily at the darkness below.

She’d seen a few quarries in her youth – usually through the windows of a boyfriend’s parked car – and she was somewhat disappointed to discover she’d come all this way just to see another.

“Wait,” she said, “is this one of them ####ing invisible beasties? I hate that ####.”

That’s when she realized that what she’d assumed was a shadow on the rocks was actually a tunnel opening at the pit’s bottom.

From somewhere within came the sound of running.

“Let’s step back,” said Levi.

He had the silver axe with him, wrapped in his hands’ bulging knuckles, and Bunny was quick to listen.

The distant slapping of sprinting feet became the rumble of an approaching train, and the fury was soon followed by an echoing howl.

Bunny could not see the runner’s attempt to leap the height of the wall, but her shoes trembled with both impacts; its landing midway up the sheer slope, and the heavy fall to the earth after rebounding.

Coffin had grown preoccupied with the contents of his jacket’s pockets, but the Keepers took a moment to peer over the rim.

When she dared follow suit, Bunny discovered the naked form of a gargantuan man sprawled across the rocks. Oddly, though he was nearly twenty feet tall, and his limbs and face were of bulbous proportions, his belly was tight, and the skin on his ribs taut.

“Who are you?” shouted Bax the Maggot Eater. He’d fallen backwards, and now rested on his spine, huffing. “You’re no Keeper, but I’ll happily wrap my tongue around the candy meats at the top of your spine nonetheless.”

“Maybe he’d be less pissed off if he wasn’t ####ing starving,” Bunny told her fellow spectators.

“Oh, we push a goat in when it’s needed,” replied Levi, “but you don’t want to overfeed an ogre, I assure you.”

“Ogre? You’ve got a pet ogre?”

“The last ogre, no less,” said Malinda, “but he’s not a pet. He killed Mother, and many generations before us. Someday he’ll probably kill Pa, and then, when the axe is mine, me too.”

“What does the axe do exactly?” asked Bunny.

The behemoth had begun to right himself, and was punctuating his ascent with a stream of bassy grunts.

“It’s to kill him, if and when we need to,” responded Levi.

Coffin cleared his throat, and the trio gathered to turn towards him.

Having lost their attention, and once again upright, the Maggot Eater let fly with more verbal abuse.

“When I’m strong again,” he shouted, “I’ll punch a ladder into your prison wall and smash your cabin and piss on your broken bodies. I’ll -”

The beast’s tirade was cut short as Will stepped into his view. The Maggot Eater’s brow wrinkled then, and panic took his legs.

Bax’s babbling was incoherent as he bolted through the entrance to his manmade cave.

Under the last light of the day, the Keepers said goodbye, leaving Coffin and his roommate at the chasm’s brink.

After sipping at some of the rum supply Will had suggested she carry along, Bunny found herself with a question on her lips.

“If they’ve got that cleaver to kill the thing, what the #### do they need you for?” she asked.

“It’s complicated,” replied Will. “I told you there were two rituals. Well, every October, a pair of the Keepers go down and beat the ogre with sticks till he wakes up – The Waking.

“The Maggot Eater is highly aggressive, but he’s not bright, and by the time he’s on his feet, he’s angry enough to blindly chase them back through the labyrinth of mine shafts that Blackhall had built. The goal for his zoo keepers, at that point, is to make it back to their ropes without being eaten – although I’ve been lead to understand that dangling morsels can look especially delicious.

“Normally, if he slept a decade, he might be able to muster enough energy to rampage for a week. By interrupting his slumber though, the Keepers can exhaust him early, and, by dawn, he’s usually comatose enough that they can drag him back into his shelter and clean any mess he’s made.

“The problem, of course, is that he hasn’t gone back to sleep yet, and they woke him weeks ago.

“It isn’t a good sign, but it’s exactly why he’s kept. He’s like a mystical whale, resting near the top of the occult food chain, pulling energy from the very sea around him. We’re in Oregon because it’s about as far a place as Blackhall could manage from the hotspots to the east, but it isn’t enough anymore.

“Our canary is restless.”

Bunny nodded and sipped again from the whiskey bottle she’d refilled from a ceramic pitcher on the banquet table.

“Fine,” she said, “but that’s The Waking, and you said we were here for The Feast.”

“Yes,” said Coffin, giving some spin to the silver links in his hands. The wind seemed to find speed with each rotation of the ornate hook at their end.

“It’s a terrible thing to have to babysit the murderer of your brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and grandparents, but two hundred years of tradition and family is all these people have. Worse, the ogre isn’t the only thing that’s restless – the dead who got lost in the dark, or didn’t quite make it up the rope, or who simply weren’t fast enough, are also eager to stretch their legs.

“There’s one thing that can bring them closure, and that’s the death of the Maggot Eater. He’s too important to kill until there’s no other option – until he can no longer be controlled – so they settle for the infrequent opportunity to attend the feast held in their honour, and the living receive the bonus of having an evening of not staring at the hole.”

He forced his arm into a wider arc, and conversation ceased under the force of the growing storm.

The Maggot Eater’s screams were lost in the rain as the first translucent figure cleared the brim and made for home.

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

 

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.

FPSE10 – The Exchange Student's Short Stay

Skinner Co.Welcome to Flash Pulp, special episode ten.

Tonight we present, The Exchange Student’s Short Stay.

[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulpSE10.mp3]Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

Tonight’s episode is brought to you by the Bear Crawling odcast.

 

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, as Skinner Co’s lead narrator has found her throat infected with a terrible burning, we briefly interrupt our current Thomas Blackhall tale to bring you a short urban legend concerning the culture barrier.

To learn more about this urban myth of questionable origin, visit http://wiki.flashpulp.com

 

Flash Pulp SE10 – The Exchange Student’s Short Stay

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

 

Read more about it at the Flash Pulp Wiki

 

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

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

FP248 – Mulligan Smith and The Endangered Granny, Part 3 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and forty-eight.

Flash PulpTonight we present, Mulligan Smith and The Endangered Granny, Part 3 of 3.
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
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(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Roundtable 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, Mulligan Smith must make clear some unpleasant truths regarding an aging lover.

 

Mulligan Smith and The Endangered Granny, Part 3 of 3

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

 

Mulligan SmithMulligan leaned forward on the bloated white leather chair, and set a manilla envelope on the row of slightly dusty Popular Mechanics issues that covered the center of the glass coffee table.

On the opposite side of the small living room, the trio on the matching ivory couch raised their brows.

Horton Cobb, dressed in a sleek-lined, charcoal gray, three-piece suit, and positioned on the center cushion, was the first to speak.

“You’re a courier of some sort?”

“Well,” replied Smith, “today I’m playing the Shakespearean messenger with bad news, but you’d normally find me in the phone book under private investigation and general loitering.”

“I knew it,” said Granny Cobb, from the left side of the sofa. “I met this skirt chaser down at the Lutheran and he was doing his best to wrap his fingers in my girdle – but he’s really come from Sasha Burnett.”

“Who?” asked the round-faced woman on the right, something of a stranger to Mulligan. From a quick phone conversation, he’d gathered that Carrie Salgado was forty-three, and had spent the majority of her adult life in the cab of her long haul transport truck. She owned the condo at which the group was gathered, though the Cobbs had moved in just the previous Saturday.

“Sasha’s simply a dentist I used to date,” answered Horton. His voice was calm, but his hands fussed at loosening his tie.

Mulligan tilted, then shook, his head. “I’d intended on having this conversation with you privately, Hort, but things have gotten rather complicated. You’re – Mrs. Cobb was quite eager to give me her number, and it was easy enough to discover it was Ms. Salgado’s credit card covering the bill. Things got worse from there, but – well, that can wait a moment. I should make clear that I’m actually here on behalf of Donna Houser. ”

“OK, then who’s Donna?” asked Carrie. She was equally interested in an explanation from either Smith or the Cobbs.

“Another of HoHo’s former paramours,” said Jacqueline, laying a palm on Hort’s knee, “but it makes no difference which is reaching for our wallet, we have nothing to give.”

Her voice had grown harsh, and her comments were delivered directly to Smith.

The PI scanned the room before responding. The walls were eggshell white, and barren; the ceilings were high and echoing. The room’s focus seemed to be upon the massive television, which sat gaping like a window opened onto the blackness of space.

Mulligan blew a raspberry.

He had not been looking forward to the conversation.

“To start, I’m not here about the money,” he said. “but, yeah, my client is going to hear about it – eventually. As it is, I don’t need you two trying to hustle me out with a flipped table and a bunch of indignation, so shut up and listen until I’m done. You’ll have plenty of time to run before I call the cops.”

Jacqueline Cobb’s mouth wore a frown of scorn, but Horton had turned his attention to tugging at his jacket cuffs.

“Ms. Salgado,” continued the detective, “I know this is going to be a lot to hear, but it’s important that you sit through the whole uncomfortable roller coaster ride.”

Smith tried on a sad grin, but irritation crept into his voice as he addressed Hort. “You’re a couple of grifters living off of the guilty kindness of comfortably emotionally-distant, but well off, women. Easy enough, I suppose, given your penchant for older ladies.

“You know, Doc Burnett was under the impression you were beating the poor woman? Not to be crude, but I hope you at least had the decency to maintain your level of vigour while with the rest of your lovers.”

“What?” asked Carrie Salgado, but Smith pushed on.

As I mentioned,” he said, “I was hired by Donna Houser. When we first met, Hort, she told me a very touching story about the two of you at a local park.

“There was a cloud burst, but you were snug beneath a broad sycamore. It was dark, and she had a clear view of the street as she straddled you at the edge of an empty public beach – a rare display of free-spiritedness, on your part, she thought – but, then, they all seem impressed with your sudden moves of daring. Frankly, it’s amazing what you’ll find beneath a buttoned-sweater.

“Anyhow, to cut to the chase, she recalled the only mar on the day being the broken condom.

“Donna’s choice in cardigans lead me to believe that she might not find such romance terribly common, so I believe her when she says she was pretty anxious that something more might come of the situation. I’m sure you were both very relieved when her next period came.

“It was months later, when her routine doctor’s visit turned up some unusual results, that she realized the truth of the matter.

“Well before any of that, though, on the morning following your beach party, you escorted Mrs. Cobb during two supposed weeks of out-of-state hip-replacement surgery. I don’t know what kind of surgeon operates in a Vegas Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

“Without realizing what was actually going on, my client covered the expense of the entire – uh – operation. I know you ended the relationship soon after, but you should be more careful about not leaving your banking receipts at your next ex-girlfriend’s place – our mutual dentist friend certainly didn’t want them.”

“Not the kissing sycamore at Nuttiteq Beach?” asked the wronged trucker, as she surfaced briefly from her stunned reverie.

Not willing to lose his momentum, Mulligan didn’t allow time for an answer.

“Donna Houser doesn’t realize you conned her – she just wants you to know she tested HIV positive not long ago. It was a pain tracking you through your chain of broken hearts, but, so far, Donna is the only sick one. Worse than an empty bank account, you’ve given her a life threatening illness.”

“- but that’s impossible,” sputtered Horton, “I always – I’m always extremely careful; well, except for that one accident.”

“Yeah, so I’ve heard,” replied Smith. “I’m really hoping, for Ms. Salgado’s sake, that your streak of luck has continued.

“If I had to guess, though, you’re not so worried while with your wife, given her, uh, maturity, and the unlikelihood of any unwanted results. I have to say, I came across a lot of surprises while doing my homework on you, Hort, but finding your marriage certificate to Jackie was probably the biggest one. You were smart to break it off before any of your marks hustled you up the aisle, bigamy cases can get ugly.

“I do see your point, however, regarding your reputation for consistently wearing protection – perhaps, Mrs. Cobb, there are some gents at the local bingo halls that you should give a call?”

The woman’s false teeth shut with a clack.

 

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

 

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 skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

FP245 – Mulligan Smith in Release, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and forty-five.

Flash PulpTonight we present, Mulligan Smith in Release, Part 1 of 1.

[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp245.mp3]Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Gatecast.

 

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 unexpectedly returns to a client’s home to complete some paperwork.

 

Mulligan Smith in Release, Part 1 of 1

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

 

Mulligan SmithMulligan couldn’t hear the crying, or the shouting, or the COPS narrator babbling endlessly from the forgotten television in the next room.

The kitchen had grown small – smaller than any he’d ever been in, he thought – and his ears were filled with the pounding ocean; the blow of a hurricane; the hammering of some medieval blacksmith.

His ears were filled with the sound of his heart, and the roar of his blood.

“Oh boy, ain’t this embarrassing,” he said, pushing the words out to give his stomach some release from the urge to vomit.

The man he was addressing, Christopher Gaskins, turned towards the private investigator. The former client’s eyes were wide.

“Smith?” he asked in a tight voice. Gaskins wore a brown robe, its open front splitting the two halves of an ancient coffee stain. His only other attire was a simple pair of pinstriped pajama bottoms. His belly hung well over the draw string, and his chest hair was peppered with gray. There was a knife, a Ginsu, as ordered from an infomercial, tucked into the hip of his flimsy pants.

“Yeah,” replied Mulligan, “you – you, uh, forgot to give me the code on the back of your credit card. I need it to process my fees, you know. I’m always forgetting to collect it.”

The more he talked, the further the furious rumble receded, so that he was able to identify a new sound entering the room.

Christopher’s lips were trembling, and his throat took on a hitching rhythm. A sharp-pitched wail rattled over the grout-and-tile counter tops, and echoed between the pans suspended above the cluttered island.

The sight of a weeping middle-aged man was always disheartening to the detective, but the .308 hunting rifle Gaskins was holding would have been enough alone to dissuade him from attempting to comfort the armed man.

As it was, Smith reminded himself not to let his gaze wander towards the stove, and took a step forward.

“Might I guess that you’ve intentions on eventually swallowing that gun?” he asked. “I’ve delivered bad news before, I know how it is – it can feel like the world is ending, but there’s help to be had.”

“Bad news?” replied Christopher. “This ain’t exactly learning you haven’t been promoted, or that dear Uncle Bill has died.”

Mulligan was pleased to see the firearm’s barrel sag, despite the retort. His fingers dipped into his hoodie’s pockets.

“No, it’s infidelity,” he said, as he attempted to adopt a psychiatrist’s smooth tone. ”I’m not saying it’s an easy thing to deal with, but it happens all the time. Your wife knew the guy had cancer – she, uh, went to that hotel with full knowledge that it was a one time thing.”

“If it’s so common, why does it hurt so bad?”

When Gaskins had first hired Mulligan, he’d seemed starstruck by the popular notion of what being a P.I. meant. Now, with no alternative, Smith decided to bluff with his profession’s worldly reputation. “It was obvious from our initial meeting that you’re a bit tightly wound. I mean, you thought it worth hiring me to see if Joan was a meth addict, and it was really only a coincidence that I stumbled onto her dead-guy fling.

“It’s like that old Groucho line: “If I hold you any closer I’ll be in back of you.” Anything held too tight is bound to break. I’ve seen it all before, though, as I mentioned. Had a client try to jump off his apartment building’s roof one time. Poor bugger was thinking so unclearly that he didn’t even notice he’d lept towards the outdoor pool. He survived, but his half-bounce on the water’s edge was enough to leave him without the use of his legs. On the upside, he married his physiotherapist.

“Now, my point is – and I don’t mean to be rude – you need a doctor, not a gun.”

Christopher’s moist cheeks now carried rivers, and his ribs compressed between sobs.

“Listen,” said Smith,”you’re hurt, anyone can see that – and anyone would want to assist you. Chris, you are sick, in a way you can’t deal with. Let me help. I’m going to walk over there and hug you. Shoot me or don’t.”

Mulligan closed the distance and wrapped his arms around Gaskins, who was still holding the rifle across his chest.

The barrel of the weapon, which was propped awkwardly between their shoulders, discharged as Smith touched Christopher’s neck with the stun gun he’d hidden in his hoodie’s wide sleeve.

Gaskins’ body listed, and he dropped to the ground. Lowering himself onto one knee, Mulligan punched 911, nudged the .308 to a safe distance, and then flatly stated the street and house number. As Christopher began to mutter, he again pressed the crackling electrodes to the cuckold’s skin.

The desire to gag had returned, and now there was less reason not to. He knew, however, that he had no choice but to address the pair of weeping children who’d huddled within the island’s cupboards for shelter.

Beckoning them from their hiding spot, he moved to block the view of the stove.

“You said Dad was sick?” asked the boy, who looked seven, and was only wearing billowing Chicago Bulls shorts. “Will he get better?”

“Hopefully,” replied Smith, “but sometimes it takes a big pill, or a large needle, or a high-voltage electric shock, to start getting better.”

“What about Mom?” asked the girl, a five-year-old in Toy Story pajamas.

“Head out to my car, it’s the blue one in the driveway, and I’ll be right there to talk,” suggested Mulligan.

As the blood flowing from Joan’s body continued to flood the linoleum’s ruts and grooves, the neighbourhood began to fill with sirens.

Turning his head, Smith dialed down the oven’s burner, and, finally, the sizzling heart ceased cooking.

 

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 skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

FP244 – That Which Remains: a Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

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

Flash PulpTonight we present, That Which Remains: a Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3.
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp244.mp3]Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Gatecast.

 

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 ensnared.

 

That Which Remains: a Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

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

 

BlackhallAt the edge of a copse of spruce, Thomas Blackhall and Wesley Shea were hunkered beneath the weight of a shared bearskin. The watch had left the brown fur covered in a thick layer of snow, so that they seemed little more than a bump in the terrain, but Thomas knew too well that their scent alone was enough for the huntress.

Across the barren sweep of frozen river upon which they faced, a woman stepped from the treeline.

She slid from the branches, unmindful of their pull on her naked flesh, and began to close the distance on exposed feet. It struck Thomas that her body could be that of any hardworking mother in her thirties – neither beautiful, nor unsightly. If it were not for her empty face, and leaden skin, he might be coaxed to come to her aid with a proffered coat.

As it was, he raised his Baker rifle, making the necessary motions in slow turns, in the hope that he might avoid unsettling his frosty blanket.

The far embankment dropped sharply before touching the water, and her calves threw up glittering clouds as she mechanically descended the slope, and stepped onto the ice.

Blackhall could clearly see the madness smoldering behind her eyes then, though it did not seem to touch the rest of her form. His hesitation dissipated even as he shook off his mitt and set his finger against the biting metal of the rifle’s trigger.

As instinct settled his sights, his mind blanked, and his breathing slowed.

Despite his request, however, his hands refused to fire.

* * *

Three nights previous, after their conference with the ailing Ethan Wright, Blackhall and his lone-thumbed acquaintance had held an urgent discussion beneath the stars. They paid little heed to the silent boy who tended their rented sleigh as they probed the questions their recent visit had raised.

“It’s a abhorrent thing,” said Shea, as his palms moved to wick away the tears which appeared on his cheeks.

Thomas had not expected the man’s depth of reaction, but he did not press regarding the change.

Instead, he said, “you heard tales in your youth, no doubt, of the succubus who comes by night to excite and entice. Undeterred by their plundering nature, the tellings are often sensual, and I’ve no doubt that many boys of a certain age secretly hope to summon such a visitation – I know, for one, that I foolishly did.

“The reality of a thing is often much different than the daydream. Worse, I suspect a madness has descended upon that which we might but faintly call “her.” It is a plague of fury endemic to the occult kind in these closing days of mysticism.”

“I can not pretend to understand half of what you say,” replied the gently weeping Shea. “Is there further risk to Ethan? Is there some solution to his sickness?”

Before answering, Blackhall breathed foggily into his collar, and considered his words. “Your friends’ physical escape was luck, and I can not be sure that any action on our part will be of aid to his collapsing mentality, but, yes, there is work we must carry out.”

“We?” asked his companion, his voice hardening, “It is not I who rides with rifle or saber. It is not I who has experience with the hidden world. What use will I be? Shall I wiggle my stumps to distract the fiend? Shall I dance a jig on my toe-less hooves?”

“I apologize if I have been evasive on the subject, thus far,” said Thomas. “It was in an attempt to avoid embarrassment. I have heard rumours, amongst the shop patrons and brew-slingers of Perth, that perhaps your poor penmanship was not the sole result of your extended wander through the cold.”

Shea could only nod.

* * *

Days of hunting, such as the injured man had not undertaken in years, had then begun. Beyond the shack which had been Wright’s base camp, Thomas’ practiced gaze quickly caught the undisguised trail of broken pine-limbs, and disturbed snow, which the succubus had left in her wake.

The real issue was in estimating her course – no easy task when dealing with a madwoman – and finding a proper location at which to head her off.

They’d chosen their site carefully, and laid their plans well.

It was a hard thing for Shea to remember, though, as the uncovered woman made her way through the white gusts and drifting banks. She seemed so disconnected from her surroundings, that, fleetingly, she appeared to him almost as if a ghost, passing over the landscape, but never of it.

The illusion was shattered as she plunged through the treacherous surface of the river.

Despite Blackhall’s reassurances, Shea had been sure the gap they’d worked from the ice would freeze well before the woman appeared – or that, worse, that she would somehow circumnavigate their planning and appear behind them. Thomas would only say that the weight of their prey was not fully demonstrated by her frame, and that he had utmost confidence in the cloth tarp they’d stretched onto a wooden frame, and laid across the open water.

“The madness will blind her,” was the last he’d spoke of it, and he’d been right.

Leaping from his position beneath the bearskin, Shea made a quick approach towards the flailing defiler. As the imp attempted to pull herself clear of the frigid stream, he stepped as near as he might dare, and set a boot upon her fingers.

Hers were the thrashings of a rabid animal, without logic, and yet it was a difficult task, for a man of such gentle nature, to carry out. In those seconds of incertitude, Thomas’ words came to him: That escape would surely mean a suffocating death at her grasping fingers. By focusing on the dragging indentations her nails were marking up on the ice, Shea found the lesson easier to recall.

It helped, as well, to turn in his hammering jig and see his traveling companion staring blankly at the altercation.

“Oh, it’s a nasty bit of business all right,” the dancing man said, only to himself, “but I do know the bitterness of having the briefest event weigh on every moment of the future – of having something stolen from you which you can not recover. Ethan may not feel the rest of a full night for many a year, and, perhaps in stomping you under, I’ll be robbing myself of a few winks, but I suspect, eventually, we’ll both slumber better for it.

“Rest now in the chill and I will make the end quick.”

It was an earnest promise, but the struggle continued for hours, nonetheless.

Without the assistance of the sun, the raper’s increasingly fatigued writhing was not enough to stem the re-encroaching ice from enclosing about her stony belly, so that the fingerless man, with fumbling palms and exhausted posture, was able to work the silver saber through her flesh, and free the shallow-breathing Blackhall.

Days later, the pair rode together, with their silent driver, back into Perth. Even as the team of horses came to a halt upon the slushie street, Thomas spied the loitering private who awaited his return. The lookout had lapsed at his post, and was currently distracted with a young nursemaid, but the frontiersman no longer felt the need to avoid whatever summons the lad might bring.

He was ready to move on.

 

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

 

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 skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

FP243 – That Which Remains: a Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and forty-three.

Flash PulpTonight we present, That Which Remains: a Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3.
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp243.mp3]Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Gatecast.

 

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 at the bedside of an ailing man with a vulgar tale to tell.

 

That Which Remains: a Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

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

 

Thomas BlackhallThey’d hired a quiet driver from the edge of town, and the lad’s thick-furred mutt paced the sleigh as the trio slid beyond the settlements. As the sun crept through the sky, the trees grew close to the path, so that their their heavy branches sometimes left a snowy residue on the blanket which Wesley Shea was using as a refuge from the cold.

The fingerless man was quick to accept the generous figure Blackhall had suggested as payment for the service of his company, and guidance in locating Ethan Wright, but Shea knew well enough that he would have taken on the work simply for the opportunity to once again travel beyond the town limits.

Since the exchange, Thomas had sat largely mute, unable to break the pathfinder’s habit of contemplating the terrain against the chance of a future navigation.

At noon, however, Blackhall produced a small pot pie from his sack, and, upon determining that the boy with the reigns was uninterested in a share, split it in two. Acting carefully, so as not to lose any of the spiced beef within, he handed a chilled half across Shea, who pinched it in his palms.

“I collected this at dawn, as the baker pulled its steaming form from the Bucking Pony’s oven,” said Thomas, “I suspect we were well away before Fitzhugh’s hound had even risen from his bunk.”

Shea nodded as he chewed, then swallowed, so that he might reply.

“Are we on a lark then, as an excuse to avoid the Captain’s summons?” he asked. “It appears, to me, to be a costly method of shirking labour, but I once knew a fellow who sold his prolific orchard to escape the work of picking it.”

“No, as I have said, it’s a serious enough matter,” said Blackhall, ”you implied yourself that your friend was ailing.”

“Then, I must ask, to what end am I truly here?

“I am no physician, and my directions will be no different than those I presented at our departure. If Ethan should not be at hand at our arrival, I’ve certainly no sway with Mrs. Wright to lend you credence. In truth, my crass humoured company will keep the woman at a respectable orbit, as she has conclusively stated in the past. Finally, I have heard tell of your reputation, and I certainly do not have the fortitude to fend off the spirits of the deceased, nor men who stalk the moonlight as wolves.”

“You are here for protection,” replied Thomas.

Shea’s brow grew tight. “Given the saber at your side, and the Baker rifle amongst your luggage, I can only assume you meant your comment as a jape at myself. Do you mean my own protection? What might befall me back in town? It is my perception, sir, that I am more at risk in this moving crib, or in reach of Mother Wright’s rolling pin, than I was while toasting in the lodgings of my friends and family.”

Blackhall retrieved a small flask from his gear, and, after a quick nip, passed it across.

His companion’s disposition improved dramatically at the smell of whiskey.

For a moment, the sounds of the world were reduced to the snorting of the mares, and the scrape of the sleigh’s runners over the snow, then Thomas made his response.

“Perhaps – but, as an aside, what is your issue with the woman of the house? I understand the loneliness of separation, be it due to illness or geography, but I find it hard to condone the tale, as you told it, of her husband’s tryst among the pines. He may have had many mouths to feed, but it was she who was tending them while he supposedly took his pleasure.”

“It’s not for a gentleman to speak of cleanly buried history,” said Shea, “but mayhaps there was a time, well before the loss of my fingers, when two gents of a certain look could cut quite a swath across this ample frontier of farmers’ lamb-eyed daughters.”

With their appetites for both discussion and lunch sated, they fell into a silence which remained until they halted at the shoulder-wide lane that marked their destination.

Their welcome was a cold one, as had been expected, and Mrs. Wright offered no pleasantries as she led the pair beyond the sheeting which she’d erected to screen her husband’s degrading condition. Blackhall reckoned it a flimsy defense against the gaggle of children who otherwise filled out the cabin with flailing limbs and shouted demands, but it was obvious she was making the best of limited resources.

“You look like you fell from a horse’s ass,” Shea told his friend, once introductions were conveyed, and they’d been left in relative privacy.

Ethan Wright’s pale face was the only flesh visible above the envelope of knitted wool in which he rested. His hair hung in greasy black strings about his face, and it seemed as if he had made little effort to shave since his encounter in the swamp.

“She let you in as a punishment, you know,” he replied, “I was adamant that no visitors be admitted, however much coin they might owe me.”

Shea smiled at the retort, but Blackhall thought he heard a spine of annoyance in the comment. The ill man’s delivery was too hushed to be sure of either interpretation.

Ducking close to the invalid’s ear, Thomas began a whispered conversation.

“Your wife likely thinks you’ve finally dipped your wick in a poisoned pot, but I suspect it’s actually your mind that has taken on a rotting illness. Is it not so?”

From so near a vantage point, the stains of un-dried tears were plainly visible on the unkempt pillow.

Wright nodded.

“I’ve heard a version of the tale,” Blackhall continued, “but I do not put much faith in the chatter of your comrades. If I am to help, I must hear the truth of the thing, but I am sure that neither your friends’ jovial position, nor your wife’s accusatory stance, are the reality of the situation. I have read of cases similar to yours – and of the trauma associated with such a visitation. Though I am but a stranger, I ask that you accept mine as a sympathetic ear, and that you provide me with the genuine details, so that I might assist you in finding some respite.”

Ethan wept as he spoke, but, though he maintained a concerned expression, Shea made no effort to better hear the muffled explanation.

“I’ve a small cabin in the swamp, at which I maintain some stores to ease my toil on the hunt. I’d intended on a short excursion, but the game were in a skittish mood, and I’d managed no result at the close of the first day. It’s a quiet place – I’d never encountered another person amongst the weeping willows and cattails. It’s usually only brother bear whose company I must keep watch for.

“Under such lonely circumstances I can hardly be blamed for supping on a bit of scotch.

“There was a woman in the room when I awoke, and I was still beneath my bed of tanned furs as she approached. It was apparent, from her lack of clothing, that the entirety of her body was gray as stone, but she otherwise held the appearance of humanity.

“There was a time, as you may have heard, when I behaved as a scoundrel. I’ll gladly swear on anything you’d like to stack beneath my hand, however, that there was naught in my mind, at that immodest discovery, but my own beloved wife and the scamps we’ve raised together.

“Despite my considerations, I could feel a great helplessness within myself. While my thoughts increasingly screamed, my jaw remained stiff. While my chest increasingly ached with repulsion, there was nothing I could do but spectate her approach. It was as if I were a mewing babe, pinned in place by a smothering pillow.

“She purred to herself as she pulled away my coverings, and sighed happily when she – once she was done removing my shroud.

“There was no lust in my heart – there was no desire in my body – and yet I could not prevent the reaction I presented.

“Her weight, and warmth, was on me then. Though I struggled with every muscle, I could summon no resistance but whimpering. As I sobbed endlessly, she only giggled; giggled and surged.

“So began my week of hell.”

 

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

 

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 skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

SE4 – The Final Broadcast, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, special episode four.

Flash PulpTonight we present, SE4 – The Final Broadcast, Part 1 of 1.

[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulpSE4.mp3]Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Geek Out with Mainframe.

 

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 lieu of our usual fiction, we present The Final Broadcast, a modern myth of improbable pedigree. To find out more on this terrible transmission, visit http://wiki.flashpulp.com

 

Flash Pulp SE4 – The Final Broadcast, Part 1 of 1

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

 

Read more about it at the Flash Pulp Wiki

 

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

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

SE2 – The Ragman, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, special episode two.

The RagmanTonight we present, The Ragman, Part 1 of 1.

[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulpSE2.mp3]Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Geek Out with Mainframe.

 

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 place of our usual tales, we present The Ragman, an urban legend of dubious origin. To find out more regarding the lurking shade, visit wiki.flashpulp.com

 

Flash Pulp SE2 – The Ragman, Part 1 of 1

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

 

Read more about it at the Flash Pulp Wiki

 

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

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to skinner@skinner.fm, or the voicemail line at (206) 338-2792 – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

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

FlashCast 28 – Death of the Weebinax

FC28 - Death of the Weebinax[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashCast028.mp3](Download/iTunes)

Hello, and welcome to FlashCast episode twenty-eight – prepare yourself for Blaxploitation, Harry Potter, lizard men, fedoras and Character.

General Pulp

* * *

Fresh Fish, with Threedayfish/@Mc_Laughing

This week’s Fresh Fish: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
[youtube_sc url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5w6AiLBkSSc]

* * *

A Spot of Bother:

Find Jeff at @PleaseLynchMe or at the Spot of Bother Blog
SC Lizard Man Facts

* * *

Curious Tales of Vienna:

Find Ingrid at Dancing Ella’s WordsViennese Legends

The Three Little Devils
The Three Little Devils

* * *

Mailbag:

* * *

Backroom Plots:

* * *

Art of Narration:

The Flash Pulp Wiki has seen some major updates!

* * *

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

* * *

Freesound.org credits:

* * *

If you have comments, questions or suggestions, you can find us at http://flashpulp.com, call our voicemail line at (206) 338-2792, or email us text or mp3s to skinner@skinner.fm.

FlashCast is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.