Category: Chiller

Flash Pulp 021 – Character

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Twenty-One.

Tonight’s story, Character, Part 1 of 1

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This episode is brought to you by

Every time you visit, a kitten smiles.


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 present to you a thriller on the nature of backgrounds, and the lives lived in them.

Flash Pulp 021 – Character, Part 1 of 1

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

McGillicuddy had been running The General Store since his father, Pop McGillicuddy, had fallen dead at the register.

Everyone in the area had agreed, in solemn tones, that it was how he would have wanted it. Privately, the junior McGillicuddy often wondered if the old man might have had a few more years if he hadn’t been surrounded by Hershey’s bars and beef jerky.

Still, his Mother had had him up on a stool hocking smokes before Pop’s socks were cold, and he’d remained behind the counter for the majority of the fifty-seven years since.

It was now a warm May Friday, and he was passing across a green pack of menthols while attempting to place the two couples who’d entered together.

“Out of towners? You look like one of the Merkel kids though – maybe one of Mary Merkel’s?” he asked the lamp-jawed twenty-one year old who’d stepped up to pay for his girlfriend’s habit.

“Yeah, Mom, er Mary Platt after she married Dad, but I guess Mary Merkel when you knew her, she actually died five years ago. Last week though, I get this call from the attorney who handles the estate, and he says that Granny Merkel also passed, leaving me the farm.” The boy held out a twenty. “I didn’t have much better to do this weekend, so I figured we’d drive out to see if it was worth selling.”

“Huh,” the old man said.

He’d long considered the people both the best and worst part of manning the counter in such a rural area. He often found himself gumming the day away with the same friends he’d had since grade-school, but, as the only gas for thirty miles, he just as often found himself dealing with the same handful of local miscreants week-after-week.

The Merkels were largely regarded as a bunch of ruffians, but he’d never had trouble with the old woman, who’d come in weekly to buy her lotto numbers.

“Your Gran was a good lady. Don’t remember much about your Ma, though I’m sorry to hear she’s gone.” He handed back some change.

The boy nodded, his short friend stepping up to the counter and laying down a five while shaking his bag of Ringolos.

When all debts were settled, the group cleared out, lamp-jawed Platt tossing McGillicuddy a wave.

As the bell above the door rang their exit, the old man took up his paper, returning to the tale of Nelson Miller’s prize catch.

* * *

When dusk began to settle on the horizon, McGillicuddy stepped out into the heat, broom in hand. In recent years he’d found it tougher to spot the candy wrappers and soda cans that built up along the edges of the small patch of pavement, so he’d taken to heading out a might earlier than his father had, to ensure a pristine lot.

The hum of motors in the distance brought him to a halt, his hands resting atop the worn handle.

A black SUV roared by, its horn blaring – seconds later a battered white van followed, the noise of its engine nearly blotted out by the music that flooded from its open windows.

McGillicuddy recognized the van, but couldn’t place it. Guessing the hooligans were off to Fiddler’s Tavern over in Barkley, he shook his head and reflected on a time when cars were unsafe enough that those sorts of problems resolved themselves.

He lifted the broom and began wrangling a large pile of Werther’s foils that Bill Johnson had likely turned out from his truck’s cup holder. Dumping the full dustpan into the nearby trash barrel, McGillicuddy recalled that Bill was just as careless with his childhood Hubba Bubba wrappers.

“It’s always the same miscreants,” he muttered.

* * *

He was counting the till when the lamp-jawed inheritor re-entered.

McGillicuddy was startled by the arrival; he hadn’t heard an engine pull up.

The boy had pushed the entrance open with great effort, staggering down the aisle with one hand sliding along the magazine shelf for support. His legs seemed to be causing him trouble, as if they were rapidly increasing in weight.

“Cuz-,” he said, collapsing sideways.

As he fell, his flailing arm caught a wire rack full of Doritos. A red, orange and green avalanche buried him on the floor.

McGillicuddy stood a moment.

The lump of snacks remained still.

The old man’s hand went to the phone, but a second interruption came slamming through the door.

It was the mousy girl that the Platt boy had been holding by the waist earlier in the day. She had none of her boyfriend’s lack of energy as she came running at the counter.

As she attempted to speak, her throat would allow only a series of soft clicks. Her face and shirt were soaked with tears and sweat.

She swallowed hard and once again opened her mouth to speak – a spray of vomit drenched the counter’s transparent scratch-ticket display instead.

McGillicuddy did hear an engine then, the store’s glass door gleaming with the approaching headlights.

His newest paralysis broken, the old man once again reached for the phone, but as he did so, he glanced out the window to size up his latest customer.

It was Cindy Merkel’s boy, he realized, finally placing the ratty white van. He hadn’t seen that delinquent much since Gran Merkel had passed, and Sheriff Blair had been forced to set Deputies Jelly and Cameron on putting him out of the old woman’s house.

The tall youth stepped down from the running board, and pulled a goat mask over his eyes.

It was his only attire.

Reaching behind the driver’s seat, Goat-head pulled forth a red handled wood axe.

McGillicuddy was hypnotized watching the streaker stride across the lot. A high pitched tone began to drift from the girl’s throat as a greasy hand pushed open the door. She began to scramble over her own half digested Big Mac and Coke, in an attempt to find safety.

The old man dropped the phone receiver, grabbing the girl’s arm and pulling her over the sick.

Goat-head, the Merkel kid, approached with an even stride, the axe head slick with scarlet liquid.

“Always the same miscreants,” McGillicuddy said, his father’s double-barrel clearing the counter.

Flash Pulp is presented by The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Flash Pulp 019 – Eventide

Flash PulpWelcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Nineteen.

Tonight’s story, Eventide Part 1 of 1

[audio:](Click play to listen or subscribe via libsyn RSS or iTunes)
Download MP3

This episode is brought to you by

Come for the art, but stay for the… art.


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 bring you a tale of love and horror, a story about the difference between night and day.

Flash Pulp 019 – Eventide Part 1 of 1

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

May 16th

Ellis flipped off the monitor and stood, his kneecaps popping, the office chair he’d been using wandering into a trajectory dangerous to the cat.

Mittens J. Nelson dodged the furniture, and after a reproachful glare at his inattentive master, padded from the room.

Rubbing an eye, Ellis began collecting up the detritus of his day – a stack of empty soda cans, half a plate of pasta left from supper, some McDonald’s wrappers from lunch. Tossing what he could, he slid through the apartment in the dark, bouncing off the recliner and entering the kitchen to deposit his dishes. There was a note on the counter.

“Hope your reports are finally done. (If they are, why aren’t you in bed with me already?) The coffee maker is set to go for the morning, I thought you might need it. Miss & love you, XOX, Monica.”

He smiled, flipped off the light, and again walked into the darkness, this time towards the bedroom.

As he slid between the cool sheets, Monica rustled.

“Love you,” she said.

“Love you too,” Ellis whispered, settling his limbs amongst her familiar contours.

“Love you,” she repeated, and he realized her words were likely echoing from some deep dream.

“Love you too,” he repeated, once again smiling.

“Murder you,” she said.

He told himself it was just part of the dream.

Still, he didn’t reply.

After a moment the room’s silence was broken only by the couple’s rhythmic breathing.

June 5th

To celebrate the closing of The Michigan Deal, Ellis and Monica had spent a night dancing. Ellis had resisted at first, he had a long standing anti-dance policy, but Monica insisted, and the cut of her new red dress sealed the deal.

It was late by the time they’d returned home, and slightly later by the time they’d re-mastered how to use their door key. Floating past the entry closet on a cloud of daiquiris, Monica shooed away Mittens J., who’d begun to entwine himself around her leg.

Fixing Ellis with a wicked eye, she released the bonds of her dress.

An hour later Ellis was at the fridge, looking for something to help down the advil he hoped would proof him against the pain of the coming morning. Mewling his discontent, the cat slammed its head into his ankle, extravagantly massaging his calf with its neck.

Grabbing the Meow Mix from the top of the fridge, he located the feline’s dish and filled it to the brim.

Having downed the Advil with two mouthfuls of milk straight from the container, Ellis made his way along the hall to the bedroom, gently weaving, occasionally lifting a hand to the wall to straighten his course.

Finally managing a controlled crash onto the bed, he leaned over Monica, planting an awkward kiss on her temple. Her first response was to continue her whistling snoring, but after a moment a thought seemed to swim into her mouth from the depths of her slumber.

“I’ll gut you like a rotting catfish,” she said.

There was a brief stretch of silence as her gentle wheeze continued.

He decided to sleep on the couch.

June 8th

“I’m sorry, really, I don’t know why I’d say those things, but you know I love you,” she said, taking a long sip of her iced tea.

They’d ordered twenty minutes previous, but the smiling girl in the black apron had yet to return with their plates of cheese cappelletti. Still, Ellis was glad that the patio area of Bistro-nauts had remained empty for most of their discussion.

“Listen, I know, I feel like an idiot for worrying about it, but you’d be pretty freaked out if every now and then, while coming to bed, I informed you I was going to shiv you in the dark.”

“Just wake me up next time OK? I thought you were sleeping on the couch because you were mad at me for something, you really had me worried.”

The smell of baked cheese drifted to the table, their server close behind.

June 12th

Monica had spent another breakfast apologizing, departing for work with a kiss and a naughty promise for atonement.

Ellis dragged his slippered feet to the couch, lifting his phone to call Bill at the office. It was the third day in a row he’d begged off with a feeble excuse, and Bill, with a chiding tone, suggested he use up some vacation time.

Ellis agreed.

Turning off the cell entirely, he curled up on the plush couch cushions and pulled the scratchy woolen blanket over his head, hoping to blot out the bright morning.

Fifteen minutes later he snorted awake, tossing off the blanket and coming suddenly to his feet.

In his dream Monica had been standing over him in the living room, a black handled fillet knife in hand, muttering: “gut you, cut you, gut you, cut you, gut, cut, gut, cut,” – the chant that now filled the reality of his nights.

June 15th

There was nowhere within the apartment to escape to, and nowhere he wanted to be without the shining Monica of daylight.

He held her even as she murmured.

He’d tried the couch, ear plugs, falling asleep to music – the unknown had only pushed slumber further away.

In the shadowed bedroom he could see no horizon, no time before this period of endless fatigue, and certainly no end to it.

He shook her awake.

“Er, what?” she asked, her puffy face coming off her pillow.

“You were talking again,” he replied, the relief of hearing reason from her mouth nearly bringing him to tears.

“Jesus, Ellis, it’s,” she fumbled for the clock. “4 am! I’ve actually got to work in the morning you know.”

She rolled over.

June 17th

For nearly an hour, Ellis stood at the foot of the bed, Mittens J. Nelson kneading at his socked feet.

Earlier he’d spent an eternity on the mattress, Monica’s slurred words building a ball of tension in his stomach that eventually choked his lungs and brought the taste of bile to the back of his throat.

So he’d gotten up to leave – but his now regular exodus had been halted by a snort and change in the tone of Monica’s sleep muttering.

He’d waited, inwardly pleading for quiet, and, for an instant, he’d held the salvation of silence.

He squeezed his traveling pillow as a child embraces a teddy bear.

There was a grunting snore, and the spell was broken. A croaking toad’s tone drifted from the bed:

“Gonna rip you open, Ellis. Gonna mash your insides between my fingers like ripe bananas.”

It was too much for the fear and frustration rattling around in his sleep-starved brain. Seeing no escape, he’d frozen for that long hour, joined only by the cat.

Finally, a new idea took root, fertile in the muck of his brain’s fetid exhaustion.

Kicking away Mittens J., he adjusted his grip on the pillow.

He began to shuffle towards the bed.

Flash Pulp is presented by The audio and text formats of Flash Pulp are released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.