Flash Pulp 048 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-Eight.

Flash PulpTonight: Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)


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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, in this third and final chapter of our current serialization, we learn the fate of the Eleutherioses, as well as something of the history of our frontiersman hero, Thomas Blackhall.

Flash Pulp 048 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

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

Thomas Blackhall’s calloused fingers set the white teacup against his lips, and he took several short sips of the steaming orange pekoe within, pausing between each. He’d allowed himself a leisurely shave, after a late start, and the hospitality of the morning’s tea had him talkative.

“I’ve some experience with it myself, or at least the root of the thing. My own Mairi now carries a similar fate, despite the burial we gave her.”

“She passed?” Annie asked, raising her own cup. At her feet, Michael neighed about the kitchen floor with a brightly painted wooden horse.

“Yes, in birthing our daughter.”

“I’m so sorry. Did she pass as well?”

“Nay, she awaits me with her grandparents in Aberdeen. As much as it pains my heart to be parted, there are no others who I might entrust to locate and free my dead and wandering beloved.” The tea was cooling now, and he took a long draw of the dark liquid. “Anyhow – it is my belief that it was the same Marama – er, a sorceress, of sorts – who both raised my Mairi to slavery, and provided Wilfred his elixir. Her heart holds much love of mischief, and a sympathy for the darkest of man’s instincts.”

At the mention of his name, Wilfred, who’d been standing at station by the counter, came alongside the table with the teapot in hand. He gave Blackhall a questioning look.

“No, thank you, I’m still doing quite well.”

“I’d like a little more, please.” Annie said, brandishing her still half-full refreshment.

Wilfred poured with grace and precision, then returned to his position by the cutting board. As he moved, he showed care not to entangle his feet in Michael’s imagined frontier.

“Is there any way we might be of assistance?” asked Annie.

The chatter of adults had driven Michael to boredom.

“I wanna play horsey with Papa!”

Annie smiled.

“All right, go play horsey, but be careful, and no longer than a quarter-hour. You need a wash.” She looked to both man and boy as she spoke.

Wilfred scooped the child up, sliding him onto his shoulders. His walk became a cantor, and Michael began to giggle.

“Be gentle with your father,” Annie chided, as the boy took up double handfuls of hair to act as reins.

As they exited outside, the door’s closing cut short Michael’s shouts of “Faster!”

“I appreciate the sentiment, and the bed and roof and tea, but there is little more that can be done beyond my own efforts. When I pass this way again, it would be enough to know I have a friend upon whom I might call.”

“You surely do, Mr Blackhall, but – I take from your tone that you mean your departure to be shortly?”

“Yes, for every hour spent resting is another hour of chase.”

Annie nodded, blowing at the steam rising from her cup.

“As I mentioned yestereve, my crafts are limited. The compound I slipped into Wilfred’s water will leave him listening intently for a year. I know not your heart, nor what you would do after that year, but I might suggest advising your husband to a plea of adultery sometime late in the eleventh month, so that you might be granted a divorce.”

“I cannot thank you enough, even a year will be some solace, and may teach him the weight of his crime.”

“Well, would it be that I was capable of a greater period, I must admit, I would likely still not implement it – and if I did not trust you to understand the gravity of the situation, I would have left well enough alone at your release. I would not like to pass this way again to find that Wilfred had accidentally drowned himself in a pond, or plunged from the rooftop of a public house. Total imprisonment is no easy punishment, and be aware that, unlike your own sentence, his mind has not been altered, it is only his actions that are so malleable.”

Blackhall pushed away from the table, standing.

“I take my leave now, friend Annie, and hope to see you well when I return – hopefully with my Mairi on my arm. In a year, you will have hard decisions to make, but I hope that time will find you in command of your own destiny.”

From the yard came the sounds of a poorly imitated pony, and child’s laughter.

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.