Tag: magic

Disappearing Act

Mercado de Sonora - from wikimedia: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mercado_de_Sonora_M%C3%A9xico_DF_20_04_07.jpg

Mercado de Sonora (Sonora Market) is a mercado público, or city-established traditional market, located just southeast of the historic center of Mexico City in the Colonia Merced Balbuena neighborhood. – wikipedia

There are situations, like children and the script to last night’s episode, which eventually leave your control to take on a life of their own, a life that can bring anxiety and heartbreak.

If only we lived in a world like Will Coffin’s, in which we could turn to magic for a solution – well, supposedly, the people who frequent Mercado de Sonora have just such an advantage.

Mercado de Senora - from flickr: http://farm1.static.flickr.com/4/4248588_7fd5106bc5_o.jpg

The two types of products, herbal medicines and magical/occult items, are not completely separate[…] The variety of medicinal plants sold is vast and include avocado leaves for inflammations, chiranthodendron for the heart, jacaranda flowers for the stomach and more. There is also dried rattlesnake, which is considered a medicine against cancer, dried skunk to “strengthen the blood,” and starfish. Plant items more strongly associated with magic and religion include crosses of ocote wood for good luck, chains of garlic to ward off evil and deer eyes to protect against the “evil eye.” – wikipedia

The herbs provide an interesting selection, and I’d be interested to see if there was any science behind some their usages, but none listed are quite what I’m shopping for.

The market sells occult items related to magic (white and black), pre-Hispanic religious and magical traditions, Santería, the cult of Santa Muerte, shamanism, and various others […] [i]tems for sale include amulets, horseshoes, candles in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors, with many of the colors have very specific functions, gold dust, black salt, powders of unknown ingredients, “water of Saint Ignatius” to ward off unwanted attention, aromatic lotions and soaps, many of which are related to love spells and more – wikipedia

No, still nothing to correct a nappy narrator; I suppose I’ll just have to stick to invoking the ancient rites of my people:


Flash Pulp 139 – Coffin: Condolences, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and thirty-nine.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Coffin: Condolences, Part 1 of 1

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by the artistic variety of the Nutty Bites Podcast.

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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, Will Coffin, urban shaman, takes his roommate to a bar of ill repute, to meet a man with a volatile history.


Flash Pulp 139 – Coffin: Condolences, Part 1 of 1

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


Three weeks after she’d moved in, Will Coffin boarded a city bus with his perennially drunk roommate, Bunny, and escorted her to the only bar he frequented, Dorset’s.

As the behemoth lost momentum and opened to disgorge them at their location, Will chose his words carefully.

“I need you to be very quiet,” he said.

“Huh?” she replied.

Bunny had spent most of the trip occupied with a crossword she’d dug out of some previous passenger’s discarded newspaper, and, while her eyes still roved between the clues and the playing area, Coffin suspected the majority of the available boxes were in little danger of being solved.

He tried again.

“We’re here to meet an old fella. He’s excitable, and you need to remain very still.”

“Does he #### magic like the rest of your friends?”

“He’s not a friend, he’s a client,” he replied. “A sad man – a suicidal fext. I need you to behave, please.”

The spidery tracts left by drink, which ran across Bunny’s cheeks, flushed with annoyance.

“Why did you bring me if I’m just going to be a pain in your ###?”

Will touched his thumb to his throat and scratched.

“If I had left you at the apartment, after a bit of vodka you’d accidentally rip a hole between our dimension and one of infinite terror, at which point everyone’s eyes would be eaten by giant moths, as their feet were being devoured by the burrowing of worms.”

“Holy ####, is that even possible?” Bunny asked, her puzzle forgotten.

“Maybe, maybe not.” He coughed, then added, “don’t touch my stuff.”

His lined face made it difficult to tell if he was smirking.

The short walk brought them to the red-brick facade of Dorset’s. Inside was a darkened main room, with tables scattered about its center, and booths lining three of the walls – the final wall, opposite the door, was dominated by a long run of oak. Behind the bar stood an array of cheap liquor bottles, each in a varying stage of consumption, and Dorset, the owner, as squat as his building.

Will waved to the proprietor as he entered, and the man raised a hand in reply.

Coffin had never seen the place with the lights up, and he thought it was probably to his benefit. Smoking had been banned from the interior for years, but the tavern had retained the scent of the thousands of ghostly cigarettes who’d met their end there.

He approached an already occupied booth, and urged his companion to sit before scooting onto the bench after her.

The occupant, an aging gent with short gray hair and a sharp face, nodded at Coffin’s arrival, and the two exchanged pleasantries in a tongue beyond Bunny’s comprehension.

Despite the language barrier, she could tell that whatever good-humour Will had entered with was soon forgotten.

The client swallowed a mouthful of beer, and locked eyes with Bunny.

“When I was but a boy, my mother made me carry about a portion of my afterbirth, under my left arm. Do you know what that does to a person?”

“Gives him a wicked stench? I dunno,” she replied.

Coffin“No – I am a fext, or became one, at least. A Slavic tradition.” He finished his drink, and signaled Dorset at his station. “I am immortal, well, nearly – the list of items which might kill me is short. In my youth, years ago, I fought in wars. I was a man of bravery and recognition, or so I thought. At the age of forty – although I looked twenty at the time – I charged a cannon battery, with a broken-bladed dagger, and killed all who would stay still long enough. I was drunk at the time, but I doubt any of the dead were beyond nineteen.”

The old man rolled his cup along its bottom edge, shadowing the moist circle of condensation that marked its placement.

He continued.

“What is bravery when no normal blade or bullet can cause you harm?”

Bunny blinked.

“She’s not -,” began Will, only to be interrupted.

“I apologize, my name is Colonel Andrik Korda. I was not expecting such lovely company at my funeral, but I appreciate any friend of Mr Coffin’s.”

“Kind of a ####ty location for a wake – who died?” asked Bunny, brushing back a tangled strand of hair.

“I will. The rest of the guests have yet to arrive. Your friend, he is helping me to do so.”

“Why?” she pressed.

“It pays well,” muttered Coffin.

“I have been here over four-hundred years. I am tired,” said the fext.

Dorset deposited another chilled serving, then stood waiting as the old man retrieved a five-dollar bill from his ratty suit jacket. To ease his search, Korda removed a pristine flintlock pistol from his pocket, and set it down on the table.

Bunny’s eyes moved from the weapon to the establishment’s owner, and back again, but the barkeep did nothing but wait patiently for his due.

Will used the opportunity to return to business.

“It arrived just yesterday,” he set a glass sphere, the width of a nickel, upon the table.

As Dorset returned to his position, to deal with the pressing demands of a blond man in a plaid coat, Andrik eyed the ball.

“It does not seem like much,” he said.

“I have been given every reassurance that it will survive being fired. Just don’t over-powder your pistol.” replied Coffin.

The ancient soldier picked up the bullet that would be the instrument of his destruction, and watched Bunny’s warped shape through its curved surface.

“Four-hundred years is a long ####ing time,” she said, “surely there’s something worth going on for?”

Will turned to her then. His face was impassive. but his eyes worked hard to strangle her words.

Korda also looked the woman over, but a different sort of passion seemed to enter his gaze.

“Well,” said Coffin,“Mrs. Davis’ hands are not entirely unfamiliar with killing either, her former husband can attest to that.”

The news did little to negate the embers stoking in the would-be suicide’s psyche. He smiled.

Will pushed on.

“Why don’t you tell her about what you did during the mid-‘80s.”

Whatever aspirations had awoken in the colonel were snuffed.

“It was a different war – a different place. The chemicals of South America were broad and beautiful. I do not know how many died so that I might powder my nose.” Korda shrugged. “Car bombs are quite a bit more effective when you can simply drive them into the offending party’s living room, look them in the eye, wave, and then detonate the trigger.”

There was a moment of silence.

“Anyhow,” Coffin said, standing. “The rest of your mourners will be here shortly, so we’ll pay our respects and get moving along. I have your payment, and you have my thanks – and condolences.”

Will exchanged a handshake with the dying man, then departed, with Bunny in tow.


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.

Flash Pulp 112 – The Chase: a Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and twelve.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present The Chase: a Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
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(RSS / iTunes)


This episode is brought to you by the Bothersome Things podcast.

Come for the fresh news, stay for the disturbing aftertaste.

Find them at BothersomeThings.com, or find them on iTunes.


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, we find Blackhall once again amongst the Elg Herra, The Moose Lords Of The Northern Reaches, as he prepares to continue his search for his long dead wife, Mairi.


Flash Pulp 112 – The Chase: a Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3

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


Blackhall was dreaming.

It was snowing, but he couldn’t feel the cold. There was a crowd standing on the iced path, encircling something at their feet, beyond his vision. Dread filled his limbs as his mind’s eye pulled him closer, against his protestations. Somehow the clustered people did not part, and yet his view of the scene changed so that it was as if he was looking down at it from above. It became clear what had drawn the gathered.

Laying askew on the path was a body. He knew it somehow to be in part that of Ida, the Princess he’d recently seen murdered, and yet it bore the face of his wife, Mairi.

He awoke with a start, biting his lip hard to cut short his shout. Shaking the image from his vision, he was glad to note that he had not actually cried aloud, as the other sleepers about him continued their gentle weezings.

Crawling from the shadows that blanketed the furthest edges of the long house, Thomas moved towards the vast iron bowl that was maintained at every hour and provided the heat throughout the massive rolling home.

Sitting at its edge was the old man, Mathus. While Blackhall had enjoyed his time with the Moose Lords, there were few he’d met who he’d prefer to find tending the flames. As council to the Earl, Mathus had little time for conversation by day, but the frontiersman had come to learn that the gray hair and frail limbs concealed knowledge beyond the vagaries of how best to distribute bread, when to plant, and odd-making on calving.

“You’ve come to ask me again, have you?”

Thomas smiled at the lack of pretense.

“Well, in truth I awoke from an ill dream but surely there would be no better time to demonstrate some of your techniques.”

“I have yet to see you men of the east present anything but fast handed deceit, so why should I flaunt anything of the fantastic? Surely you are happy to place a trio of cups over-top a walnut, and claim it has disappeared?” It was Mathus’ turn to smile.

Thomas had been back and forth with the man since slaying the Lamia – a daemon which came by night to consume the children of the Elg Herra. It had not taken long for Blackhall to realize that the man carried deeply the shame of being unable to assist his people in their time of need, as his first attempts at learning from Mathus had been met with angry spittle flying from the old man’s toothless gums, dislodged by a language Blackhall still could not reckon. Persistence and humility were the frontiersman’s weapons of choice, however, and it did not take long for the joy of victory, mixed with the flattery of the new hero’s esteem, to begin to wear down the old man’s ire.

“No, sir, I can surely show you more than that.”

Thomas had awaited this moment, and he was prepared. Retreating to the bed which constituted his domain as guest, he reached into his battered travel baggage and pulled out a glass bottle, still a quarter-full of whiskey, as well as a rag.

He returned to the fire’s edge.

Taking a seat near the old man, he played the fire’s light through the glass and amber liquid, displaying his handiwork.

“Inside I’ve set a slip of daisy paper with the necessary markings, as well as two drops of my own blood, a small bundle of spruce twigs, two strands of dead man’s hair and a pine beetle.”

Mathus nodded, watching intently. Blackhall was glad to see his wrinkled eyes seeming to now take his entreaty more seriously. The whiskey spirit was a simple conjuration, the second occult working he’d learned, but Thomas knew better than to take lightly any such undertaking.

“I buried this bottle by the light of the moon – it may be dug up any time after the first day has past, but it is best if done at night, when the stars are blotted by cloud.”

Covering the container in the rag, he rapped the vessel hard upon the iron ledge, shattering it within the cloth confines. Standing above the enwrapped wreckage, a handspan tall, was a vaporous figure, which seemed to have the form of a cat, but stood upon two legs. It hissed silently at the pair of onlookers and swung its misty fore-claws in aggravation.

“It will cause mischief if left unattended, but will naturally disperse if the whiskey is left to dry. It will take commands from whomever summoned it, but keep a close eye, as it would be just as glad to twist your needs to an unpleasant end. The man who taught me this was a jovial Prussian named Fredrich. He would often demonstrate his power after over-indulging, and his usual goal was to demand the little beast provide him further lager. I was not on hand for his death, but I may guess its details, as he was found early one Saturday, poisoned.”

Blackhall pushed the bundle into the flames, and, as he did so, the feline wisps of steam seemed to be lost to the night’s air.

Mathus had remained silent, but attentive, throughout.

“Do you have the inscription’s at hand?” he asked finally.

Thomas retrieved from his pocket a separate slip of daisy paper, upon which he’d written the runes.

With a gummy smile, the old shaman thrust the sheet deep into a sack at his belt.

“Yes. I believe there are things I might show you – and mayhaps more that you might show me.”

* * *

The convoy of massive wheeled houses, and the buffalo that drove them, had been called to a halt at the edges of a small, unnamed lake. The black beasts, as well as the Moose Lord’s long-limbed mounts, were being driven along the shore to be given an opportunity to quench their thirst during the final journey before the coming of snow.

“I heard they saw Hakon skulking at the furthest rim of the herd, yesterday,” said Marco, the voyageur who’d traveled westward with Blackhall. Despite it being well into the noon hour, the Frenchman creased his brow against the strength of the sun and the weight of his previous night’s drinking.

“With the majority of suspicion regarding the child-eater now on his shoulders, I have my doubts that he’d openly return to camp, even if he does occasionally attempt contact with friends and family.”

The men were atop the roof of the flagship of the wagons, the massive wooden construct referred to as “The Earl’s House”, watching the endless rows march past the water.

“In truth,” Thomas continued, “I did not ask you up here to discuss the local politics – I’m leaving.”

“So, the old man has shown you what you need?”

“No. He had many interesting talents to exhibit, but a method to bring my wandering Mairi home was not one of them – so it comes time to move further west. I’d be glad to have you with me, but I realize you must stay to tend to Disa, now that she is with child.”

Even as he spoke, from somewhere to the south came the long, low, note of a war horn. Within a beat, it was accompanied by another, then another – only to be drowned out, finally, by a thundering roll of barking.

Dog flesh began to pour from the tall brown grass that surrounded the stalled caravan.


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.