Tag: Flash Pulp 160

168 – Mulligan Smith and The Crumble, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and sixty-eight.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Mulligan Smith and The Crumble, Part 2 of 3.
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
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This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Nutty Bites 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 and his mountainous friend, Billy Winnipeg, pay an expected visit to a local giant.


Flash Pulp 168 – Mulligan Smith and The Crumble, Part 2 of 3

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


MulliganThree hours after the awkward discussion with his client, Mulligan Smith was standing in the building lobby of his only real lead, a behemoth of a fellow known locally as Ortez.

Before the agreed upon time, the PI had taken the opportunity to speak with some of his appointment’s neighbours, and the story given was consistent. Easily recognizable by his stature, the man suffered from a genetic condition which left him in generally ill health, and towering above those around him. He’d apparently claimed his place in the years preceding gentrification, and, despite rising rent costs, had managed to hold onto his first-floor apartment by subletting the extra space, and by accepting the occasional odd job to supplement his disability cheque.

Although an aging woman in a pink jacket, out walking her Tibetan Spaniel, had occupied Mulligan with a half-hour speech expounding on how Ortez was the last dregs of the old filth who’d lived there – and was also the herald of the area’s re-descent into depravity – the arrival of the police to wheel away his deceased roommate, only a few days earlier, was apparently the first serious legal trouble anyone could recall the colossus having been involved in.

Billy Winnipeg, Smith’s friend, and massive in his own right, seemed, to the private detective, excessively eager to meet the man.

Winnipeg’s thumb gave the call button a third push, and, finally, a tinny welcome drifted from the entrance’s speaker-box.

“Yeah, yeah, come in,” said the distant voice.

With a buzz, the lock popped open.

The hallway carpet and white stucco walls had seen little of the upgrades that had swept the surrounding city blocks, and, as he rapped at the gray apartment door, Mulligan guessed it hadn’t enjoyed a fresh coat of paint since before its renter had moved in.

“Hi,” said Smith, cheerily, as the opening swung wide. He hoped the upbeat tone might help sway the coming conversation in his favour.

Ortez nodded in response, and as his head bobbed, his vision was obstructed by the wall above the entry. Then he wheeled around, disappearing into the darkened interior.

Turning to direct Billy inward, Mulligan realized the Canadian’s face had taken on an odd glow, as if a mountaineer having just discovered a new, unfathomably large, peak in need of conquering.

“We aren’t here for a fight,” Smith told him. Winnipeg’s grin widened.

“Sure,” was his only response.

The windows had been covered with sheets and an international array of ratty flags, but the largest of the makeshift curtains was skewed by a foot, allowing a breeze to enter the living room.

In the corner, a television whispered secrets to itself.

“Thanks for giving me a chance to chat,” said Mulligan, wondering if he should risk sitting on the exposed stuffing of the couch.

“Yeah,” replied the hulk, continuing to stand.

Although Billy’s size often left Smith feeling short, Ortez gave him some idea of the life of a little person. He could already feel his neck stiffening.

“You’ve lived here ten years or so, right?” he asked.


“How long were you and your pal sharing the place?”

“Seven months.”

“Anything out of the ordinary the night he died?”

“No.” The examined scratched his ear.

“Did you know a Mrs. Brewer? Graciela?”


“Well, you’ve heard about her in the papers or something though, right?”

“I think you should probably go,” Ortez replied.

“I think we should probably stay,” said Billy.

Mulligan tried to wave him off.

Like two snapping dogs, the pair approached each other, bumping chests before Smith could put himself between them – then, suddenly, he was glad he hadn’t.

It was a short fight.

Billy opened with a punch to the stomach which seemed to do little, then received a cuff to the ear in exchange. The northerner staggered under the weight of the meaty hand, but managed to lash out a boot at the giant’s protruding knee. The attached leg wobbled, and Ortez fell to the dark blue carpet.

“That’s my bad knee, dick!” said the toppled man.

“Sorry – but, really, you shouldn’t be so bloody ignorant,” Winnipeg replied.

The still-standing combatant wore an embarrassed grin at the sudden discovery of his opponent’s weakness.

“Dammit, man,” muttered Smith, pulling his companion away from the home’s rightful occupant.

Rubbing at his appendage, the collapsed resident appeared winded, but otherwise unhurt.

“I apologize for the idiot,” said Mulligan. “He has a different set of manners than most.”

“Nah, listen, I’m sorry, I was the one being rude. I’ve been getting a lot of attention over what happened, and I already land plenty of guff from people thinking I’m some sort of monster. Still, I’d like to see Allen’s death figured out – and there ain’t anyone who’s picked a fight with me in quite a while. You two obviously ain’t cops.”

He smiled as he said it.

Mulligan nodded. He considered attempting to assist Ortez to the couch, but he knew his efforts would be laughable against the man’s girth.

Instead, he told Billy to do it.

“Get over there and help, punchy.”

One goliath supported the other to the deflated cushions.

“Ha, well, now,” said the seated man “I’ll tell you what you want to hear, just don’t have your boy here rough me up again.”

He chuckled.

“You’re cool, right?” Ortez asked. Before they could respond, he reached into his pocket, retrieving a film canister which appeared the size of a thimble in his palm. Also pulling forth a twist of wooden tubing, he tapped the black container’s contents into the pipe’s bowl.

Within seconds, the room smelled of burnt cannabis.

“Uh, sorry,” repeated Winnipeg. “I mean, about your knee, and, uh, your dead buddy.”

“Not to sound harsh,” said Mulligan, pointedly ignoring his host’s indiscretion, “but do you have anyone lined up for his spot?”

“Nah, I’m doin’ OK for now.” replied the lounger. “Found a job behind the counter down at the coffee shop, or bakery, or whatever, two blocks over. I get to sit the whole shift, and they get to play circus a bit. I try not to do too much though – don’t want the cheques to stop flowing, you know. Still, I’m gettin’ plenty of hours since the couple who run it got pregnant.”

“Funny, now that you mention it,” said Smith, “a guy I know was telling me just earlier that the place wasn’t as reliable as it once was.”

“Ah, the customers are always complainin’. The boss usually, uh, stays busy, but, yeah, he’s a little flaky lately. I keep my mouth shut, don’t criticize, and, like I said, I ain’t had a lack of time on the clock – there’re also some side benefits to being a trusted employee.”

Ortez’s smirk widened as he took in another puff of smoke.


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.

FP160 – The Murder Plague: Barriers, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and sixty.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, The Murder Plague: Barriers, Part 1 of 1.

[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp160.mp3]Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Walker Journals

It’s vaguely like the Diary Of Anne Frank, but with zombies instead of Nazis.

Find them all at youtube.com/walkerzombiesurvivor

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, Harm Carter and his travel-mates must make a hard decision before suddenly finding themselves with few options.

Flash Pulp 160 – The Murder Plague: Barriers, Part 1 of 1

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

The Murder PlagueWe were shooting down the road like a greased eel amongst the groping hands of country-fair attendees, when we spotted a goliath by the roadside.

He had his thumb popped to the east, and a bored expression on his face, as if it weren’t likely that any passers-by would just as soon run him down as pick him up. I suppose if I had the physique of a well constructed Victorian-era strongman, I too might have had a little more confidence while loitering amongst the homicidal infected.

Another problem with a virus which turns everyone around you into a paranoid maniac is that you spend a lot of time second guessing your decisions. We spent ten minutes in silence, as we attempted to reassure ourselves of our own logic.

“We should try and talk to him,” said Minnie. I’d brought the Escalade to a halt at the crest of a hill, well away from the stationary traveler, and I was fairly confident that he hadn’t noticed us.

“Balls to that,” replied Jeremy. “Were you not paying attention back at the gas station? Why would we ever want to risk further exposure to those friggin’ nutters?”

Despite his callous tones, I was inclined to agree with him. Even if the wayfarer wasn’t sick, I was too out of patience for another seismic change in the world. A fatigue sets in after your second murder scene of the day.

“Maybe we’ll just wave,” I said. “I hate to ignore a fellow survivor, but I’m sure he’ll understand, given the circumstances.”

When he did spot our approach, he started flailing both arms, vigorously.

If he saw our return greeting, it was as a blur. I had us up to top speed by that point, as I thought he might impart a few bullet holes in our bumper as a parting gift for spurning him.

The countryside was a smear of farmhouses, fields, and fencing – the rustic beauty seemed unmarred, except as we passed a single abandoned Greyhound bus, with its tall tinted windows broken out, and its silvery husk left in a field to fend against the insistent sun.

We hadn’t slowed when we hit the ambush, almost a mile further down the road.

As we passed over the spike-strip, I veered left, sending the behemoth Escalade sliding sideways, over a ditch and into some homesteader’s forgotten harvest. As the vehicle became perpendicular, our seat-belts encouraged us to do likewise. I don’t remember much about the crash itself, but I was certainly pleasantly surprised to discover we had come to a stop in the farmer’s field with only our faithful steed as a casualty.

There we sat, waiting for the universe to settle. To my left was a patch of soybeans, pressed flat by the unexpectedly un-shattered glass. To my right was the sky. Once I was fairly convinced of both, I unbuckled, and my companions did the same.

Adrenaline – and the elation that comes when your brain realizes that it has somehow survived the latest mess you’ve put it through – made us thick and unthinking.

As we climbed onto the upturned passenger door, I caught a sudden plunk over the wibble-wobble of the still-spinning tires. I don’t know how to describe it in any better way than as a plunk.

Now, listen: this wasn’t a plonk, or a plop, or a thud; this plunk was no random result of our impact, and the plunk and I were no strangers passing each other by under odd circumstances.

Nay. I knew this plunk.

“Uh, did you hear that?” asked Minnie, testing her balance to see if she might stand for a better view.

I shoved her over backwards, sending her into the greenery and muck below, then, as Jeremy opened his mouth in question, I nudged him too.

He’d barely had time to accuse my mother of an unorthodoxed style of animal husbandry when my suspicions were confirmed. While I was in the middle of my own descent, the familiar plunk repeated itself.

“Someone is shooting at us,” I noted, brushing the muddy results of my landing from my knees.

I recognized the sound all too well, as I was on hand when similar noises had sent a favourite chess partner home from our extended overseas engagement with Uncle Sam’s traveling mud-huggers.

After a few long moments of silent continued-existence, my comrades had taken on the numb look that’s common to amateur targets – I must admit, nevertheless, that I was quite pleased with myself for having picked the right side to land on.

“Our mad-person,” I said, “has set up their kill zone quite well. We would have been ducks in a row, if we’d remained on the road. It’s quite lucky that we flipped the beast, really.”

“We’re dead,” replied Minnie.

“No, no,” I assured her, “when night falls, we’ll make for the treeline. I’m sure we’re not far from some formerly-occupied farmhouse where we might help ourselves to a pickup truck with a wide-range of amusing bumper stickers.”

“What if Assassination Jones over there has night vision?” asked Jeremy.

I must say, I hadn’t thought of that. It had been my first assumption that the perpetrator was a local deer hunter gone amok, but the setup’s precision and planning gave the new consideration a lot of weight.

There was something else as well: if it were a greenhorn murderer, I would have expected them to waste more ammunition. They were professional enough to hold off for a meatier bulls-eye.

Lacking options, we tried to find a comfortable seating arrangement. Unfortunately, soybeans offer up very little cushioning.

As the sun dipped out of sight, Minnie became assertive about her interest in departing. I don’t blame the poor girl for getting restless, as even a wall the size of an Escalade can begin to feel tiny when it’s all that stands between you and the afterlife. That said, I maintained my opinion that we’d have better odds with as much dark as possible, and she begrudgingly agreed.

Even at its blackest, though, I wasn’t willing to start running about, willy-nilly. That said, night vision isn’t perfect, and especially not the sort that you might pick up at a Wal-Mart. Taking off my jacket, I draped a few billowing-taunts beyond the engine’s border.

“Plunk,” replied our nameless assailant.

At least, on that occasion, I managed to hear the crack of the invisible stalker’s weapon, rolling towards us from somewhere to the west.

That settled, we once again took up our seating.

Not long after, Jeremy began to cry.

It was after midnight when, wiping away a thick string of snot, he spotted our salvation. The abandoned bus was headed our way. Well, moving, yes, but ever so slowly – so much so, in fact, that I thought at first the whole thing was an optical illusion.

As it neared, however, we made out why: the strongman was the only thing motivating the Greyhound along. He’d flipped open the underside baggage doors, and was using them as a handle to push against, leaving the bulk of the bus as a shield. We were fortunate to be on the far-side of the raised asphalt.

His cycle was thus: push, push, push, adjust the steering wheel, rest, repeat.

He came into conversation-range well ahead of being in safe-to-do-anything-about-it-range.

“You people are jerks,” he said. “I’ve got blisters on my hands from the first time I had to push this stupid thing across this stupid field.”

“Why didn’t you just drive it?” asked Jeremy.

“If this thing’s engine was working, do you think I’d’ve been trying to hitch over the hill from Lee Harvey Oswald?”

“Well, to be fair,” I said, maybe feeling a little defensive about my deciding vote, “thumbing a ride doesn’t really seem the most brilliant idea either.”

“This whole area is full of friggin’ nutbar recluse survivalists and farmers. Every one of these houses is a landmine on top of a bear trap that’s been rubbed down with poison. Trust me, I know – a dozen of us originally stepped off this thing. The road was the only place we WEREN’T slaughtered.”

At that point he started pushing again, and it didn’t seem polite to interrupt him with further chatter.

Once he’d finally eclipsed the shooter’s view of our little fort, we sprinted the ten yards between us. Minnie took up position at his open door, and Jeremy and I leaned into the one that was now at the rear.

Although we made much better time than he had alone, it was still dawn before we’d moved into safety, and nearly noon when we’d finished heaping high apologies – and thanks.

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.