Flash Pulp 028 – Missing, A Mother Gran Story, Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Twenty-Eight.

Flash PulpTonight’s tale: Missing, A Mother Gran Story, Part 1 of 3

(Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3)

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Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – 400 to 600 words brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

This evening we introduce a new recurring character, Mother Gran, who, in this opening chapter, we find mid-stride.

Flash Pulp 028 – Missing, A Mother Gran Story, Part 1 of 3

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

Puddle Lane was more than a wagon path, but less than a road. At it’s southern end, it came to a loose three-way corner: Puddle Lane, Soggy Bend and Gallagher. At its northern tip, the lane merged into Strawberry Road, a moniker Mother Gran had always appreciated for the attempt to maintain some of its neighbour’s whimsy.

“Old Man Gallagher never did have much of a sense of humour,” she thought, her knobby knees pumping.

She took the corner at full speed, tilting from Puddle onto Soggy.

She’d had a good head start, but the bundle in her arms was getting heavy, and she could hear the gallop of Turner’s wolf hounds as they closed the distance.

It was another half-mile to the blossoming white flowers of the crab apple tree, but, even in her dusk, her legs were well muscled from a lifetime of papoose toting and field work.

Still, she knew it would be a race.

The slapping paws of the dogs rounded the corner – she could hear the dampness in their hot breath.

A quarter mile, and she could feel the tightness in her lungs.

She began to sing:

“O where are ye gaun?
Says the false knight upon the road.”

A laugh caught in her throat, cutting the song short. She hadn’t run this hard in many a year.

She adjusted her grip on the gray rag.

“O where are ye gaun?
Says the false knight upon the road.

I am gaun to the schule,
Says the wee boy, and still he stood”

Reaching the tree, she broke from the roadway, grinning. The deer path was narrow and grass covered, but she’d known the route since childhood, and her feet were sure.

“What’s augh the sheep on yonder hill?
Says the false knight upon the road.”

She could see the mound now, its northern face piled high with John MacMillan’s transplanted field stones.

“They are my pap’s and mine.
Says the wee boy, and still he stood””

Her heart’s pounding, and the approach of the dogs, merged into thunder in her ears.

“How many of them’s mine?
Says the false knight upon the road.”

Finally, she could hear expectant chittering, and the familiar sound gave her legs new wind.

“A’ them that has blue tails.
Says the wee boy, and still he stood”

It had been the same song since winter’s first thaw – although she usually came with bucket in hand, not such a frail load.

The entire brood had gathered to meet her approach, and at their sight, she knew she would make it.

“I wish you were in yonder well.
Says the false knight upon the road.”

The lead hound recognized its error in the final moment, but its companion wasn’t prepared for the sudden loss of speed.

The old woman had breezed passed the malodorous family without slowing. Her passage, however, had set the matriarch skunk, plump from Gran’s table scraps, on edge.

The collision was cause enough to outrage the nervous mother.

“And you were down in hell
Says the wee boy, and still he stood.”

The dogs reversed course, beginning the long run home to carry the stink to their master.

Gran slowed to a stop, resting against the white trunk of a downed spruce.

As she adjusted her skirt, her palm came away sticky with froth from the hounds’ jaws.

She wiped her hand clean, and with spider-fingers, plucked the wrappings away, revealing the contents of her parcel.

She smiled to see the toothless grin of the babe within.

The lyrical portions of tonight’s story were derived from Child ballad #3, as collected by Francis James Child.

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.