Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Ten.
Tonight’s story: Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 4
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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 Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Tonight, Thomas Blackhall gives up an explanation – as well as his only source of entertainment – while attempting to avoid inhabiting a bear lord’s gullet.
Red Mouth’s Legacy, A Blackhall Tale – Part 4
As the sun crested noon, Thomas became more daring in how long he’d allow his sword arm to become occupied. The full heat of the day was upon the land, and the small store of stimulant that had held him had run dry before the dew was off the grass.
His great coat and shirt lay beside him, his wide brimmed hat providing his only real shelter on the empty expanse of plateau. The shade of the lone pine that abutted his prison tempted him, but he dare not leave his post. As his task became more complex and his aching fatigue more palpable, he cursed at himself, at his captor, at the forest, at the reeds, at the boat that had carried him from his home, at the sun, the wind, the land and the sky.
Tilting the white shag of his head, the bear spoke.
“You’ve taken to crafting some sort of artifact of your passage? I have slept in caves adorned with your art – I usually attempt to eat something especially rotten on those occasions, so I might leave my own pungent artifice. I have noted however that in recent millennia your leavings have become increasingly complex – are you especially adpet at some form of these works? Should I expect some member of your family to come in search of this scrap, and possibly your own remains? If you come down now, I’ll promise not to eat any errant son or hardheaded daughter that might arrive.”
“I have yet to sire a child of my own, although I was shown this craft by an eight year old Iroquois girl. I don’t mind admitting hers was considerably more impressive than mine will be – or might be, as I rather expect the moment I become over interested in my work you’ll cover the distance and end my little project,” Blackhall replied.
“I have shown you already that I might be reasonable – and in truth I am interested to see what a human with fortitude enough to murder Red Mouth might leave behind to mark his last moments. I have already indicated that, once you lapse into sleep, I will suck the meat from your bones as the bees drink the honey of their hives. I can also smell the aid you’ve used to stretch that time. Fine then, a race: if you should nod off you will awaken to my maw, but until that time you have my word that I will not attempt the climb.”
Thomas considered the proposition, then grunted his assent.
He did not re-sheath his weapon however, choosing instead to lay the naked blade gently across the scrub closest at hand.
“Yes, yes, make yourself comfortable,” the bear chuckled.
On his lap, Blackhall laid out the components of the cattails he’d been so hard pressed to strip. The reed leaves had begun to dry under the baking of the sun, and he set about tearing long strokes from each.
By dusk he’d made a braided twine of admirably slender width. It had come at no small cost however, his eyes burned and his head ached.
“Have you completed your task?” the beast asked from below.
“One part, but to complete it I require another component. It would be best if I had the baggage you encouraged me to leave upon my campsite-” the bear continued to look on in disinterest, “but, failing that, I might create a reasonable facsimile from the flaking stones found along the banks of the same stream from which your thralls drew these reeds.”
“Yes, I have seen these flaking stones, I have seen their use in crafts before, but I also know them to be of equal use for the bumbling you call a hunt. Surely you do not think such a tool will somehow save you from your lofty perch? I do not recall seeing a piece upon the pool’s edge large enough topple upon me.” The ursine let out a short bark, his gummy lips rising to reveal the arsenal of his jaw.
“Master Bear, to complete my craft I require but the smallest shard of stone.”
“And why should I provide such a thing? It seems to me my favour has already become stretched.”
“If you wish to see the end of this creation, I require some of the stone.”
He paused a beat, then added: “I have not yet slept.”
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.