Tag: Mother Gran

181 – Which: a Mother Gran Story, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and eighty one.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, Which: a Mother Gran Story, Part 1 of 1.

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Garaaga’s Children.


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, Mother Gran relates a warning, via a parable of her youth.


Flash Pulp 181 – Which: a Mother Gran Story, Part 1 of 1

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


Mother GranWhen Mother Gran had discovered Briana, one of the youngest of her children’s children’s children, the girl had been busy creating a makeshift ladder so she might throw her legs over one of the farm’s plow horses. Her Pa had warned her away from the barn on several occasions, but, as she was of Gran’s stock, she had no instinct for heeding danger – besides, she argued, she’d ridden the nags many times before, with little harm.

Rather than take the lass over her knobby knee and lay plain the lesson, the ancient woman sat the youngling upon a hay bale, and told this tale:

“One grey May morning, many decades ago, just as the hens had begun to cluck, and the cows to lament their burden, two brothers, and their little sister, moved across the grain fields, and through the cart-paths, with mischief on their minds and bawdy songs on their lips.

“Their hands were heavy with warm plunder – speckled eggs plucked from beneath the nesting chickens of their father’s coop – and they chose their route with care, so as to preserve their bounty till it had reached its intended destination. It was only once they had come to their place of turning, an overgrown lane differentiated from a dozen others along the line by a tear-drop-shaped boulder, the majority of whose surface was etched with white runes, that they broke off their tune.

““‘Tis the road of the witch,” said the eldest.

““A long and shady patch, indeed,” replied the middle brother.

““Naught is accomplished with still feet and open mouths,” noted the youngest sister.

“Paying no heed to the warding stone, they tiptoed into the shadows of the spruce stands that oversaw their passage.

“Beyond the constant drone of insects, all was hushed.

“A quarter-mile’s further creep brought them to the splintered shanty that was their objective.

“They let fly their shelled payloads, painting the listing-shed’s single window in yoke.

““Witch!” cried the eldest.

““Witch!” shouted the middle brother.

““Witch!” repeated the youngest sister.

“With a howl from the interior, the chase began.

“The three bodies knew that the hound, a short-cropped tawny brute with slobbering jowls and paws the size of horse’s hooves, was on a leash of sorts – if they might outrun it to the marked stone at the hovel’s entrance, the beast would bark and bray, but not pass onto the road beyond.

“The eldest brother had discovered the fact one night while lurking beneath the moon, with a lad of his acquaintance, the blacksmith’s boy from town. In an effort to impress the exotic hooligan, he’d crept upon the house, whose reputation as a witch’s burrow was a well whispered tale, and loudly declared that the woods were aflame. As a light had flickered to life behind the poorly glazed pane, the pair of boys had gone laughing down the trail – only to have their merriment cut short by the hammering gallop of the behemoth. The thing ought to have had their throats, as they’d both lost their feet at the change of turf onto the larger path, but it had stopped up short. Pleased at their escape, they’d been uninterested in examining the nature of the restraint, but it was then, after the first authentic terror of his young life, that the eldest had begun his petty vendetta. After a half-dozen further successful outings, he’d enlisted his siblings.

“It was the inaugural excursion for the youngest, and even as the mongrel bore down on her, she found herself giggling at her nervous state. The thing hung perennially at her heels, its breath warming the exposed calves below the hem of her cotton dress. Fear was in her heart, and savagery at her back, and yet she found herself laughing throatily, sure she would die.

“Just as it seemed there could be no further reprieve, the trees gave way, and she tumbled into the muck, upended in the same fashion as her brother’s initial venture. Close behind, with it’s jaws snapping, the dog halted. It snorted once at the heaving-lunged children, then turned its hind-legs to the runners and trotted into the leafy shadows.

““Close!” said the eldest.

““A near thing,” replied the middle brother.

““No more than a Sunday stroll” chided the youngest sister.

“T’was the second last time they tried such a thing.

“At their return home, they discovered their father sitting upon the kitchen stool where he so often spent his evenings drawing at his pipe. He’d heard, while transacting an exchange of sheep, that a number of his offspring were making their way down the lane with faces full of ill intent, and he was not pleased. He had no trouble extracting full truths from the delinquents, and it was a sound thrashing in store for each.

“Their final attempt was made the spring following, not long after the thaw, when the winds are still wild and the air full of damp chill – when freedom from the snows makes a stripling restless to stop telling the same schoolhouse tales, and start creating some new ones.

“The pain of their lesson having long healed, and the memories of the earlier, more successful endeavors, having grown large with verbal repetition, the trio chose to slip out on the first warm eve. Once their exhausted custodians were safely snoring, and well after they might encounter any respectable fellow travelers, they took to the night, collecting up from beneath the ferns the selection of eggs they’d set aside that morning. They’d been hopeful that a day in the sun would do much for the condition of their aroma.

“Elation at their nocturnal liberty set their feet flying over the still brown grasses, and seemed mere instants before they were once again in a strong-throw’s range of the leaning cabin.

““A breakfast for you, witch!” cried the eldest.

““A lunch for you, witch!” shouted the middle brother.

““A dinner as well, witch!” squawked the youngest sister.

“Again came the bellow, and again the chase. They’d nearly made half the distance when they encountered calamity – an old woman upon the path, and, behind her, a hundred cavorting dead, all in various states of decomposition.

“As the siblings halted, the hag spoke.

“”You look not like the opposition I expected, but, whatever the case, the cure is the same.”

“With that, she extracted a dagger from within her billowing sleeves, and bared its blade.

“Sure they’d encountered the witch of the hut upon some late errand, the youths thought their fate’s certain – and, with the column of animated corpses at her heels, it was as if every tale they’d heard of her occult powers must be true.

“Heard, but unseen by the youngest, the hound lept then, hurdling the vandals – but it was a dusky moose that stood under the light of the moon when the girl uncovered her eyes. Without pause, the beast ran its racks into the column of shuddering cadavers.

“It was clear then, to the aghast onlookers, that they had become caught betwixt magics beyond their comprehension.

“She with the dagger also joined the fray, and for a moment the three siblings were held fast. As the tide of the battle appeared to turn, however, a second old woman was suddenly amongst the combatants, even as the spectral antlers vanished. The newcomer’s hair was tawny, and her face haggard – fitting perfectly the murmured accounts of the sorceress.

“”Run!” she shouted to the children from beneath the press of rotting flesh.

““Run!” cried the eldest.

““Run!” shouted the middle brother.

““Run!” repeated the youngest sister.

“The speed, and panic, of their return home, was such that they had no notice of the scratches each accumulated from unregarded obstructing branches. It was these telltales that led to a further thrashing from their father – but it was no longer necessary, their lesson had already been kenned.”

Gran’s audience nodded her head, seeming to take the meaning of the tale.

After a span of consideration, she raised a question.

“I take your meaning, certainly, but what of the witches?”

“So far as I know, the defense of the vandals was the last story to be told of the woman and her cottage,” replied Gran. “No night thereafter was the hound heard, nor seen to roam.”


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.

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Flash Pulp 105 – The Murder Of Eustace Norton, and his wife, Matilda: A Mother Gran Story, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and five.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present The Murder Of Eustace Norton, and his wife, Matilda: A Mother Gran Story, Part 1 of 1
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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Flash Pulp on iTunes.

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Find a link it here.


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 discover the truth of a murder in the small town of Hearse.


Flash Pulp 105 – The Murder Of Eustace Norton, and his wife, Matilda: A Mother Gran Story, Part 1 of 1

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


On a damp Saturday morning, the majority of the population of Bigelow county found itself at the gravesides of Eustace and Matilda Norton.

“It’s a shame to see such an upstanding man come to such an untimely end. A murderer in our midst? It seems unthinkable,” whispered Mrs. Tupper to Mrs. Wills, hoping, as always, that some tantalizing nugget of information might drop from the Constable’s wife’s lips.

“Mayhaps it was Matilda herself who killed him?” was the best reply Mrs. Wills could make.

“Slip him a poisoned drink then turned his musket on her own person? It seems improbable. Why wouldn’t she have simply saved some of the elixir for herself? More plausible is that she discovered his body and, overwhelmed with her grief, she did herself in,” interjected Mrs. Pilfer.

“Who knows what a mental defective might do? It is well known she was a bedlamite. I certainly do not believe it beyond her to have done exactly that. Likely she poisoned the man in a fit of passion, then, realizing there was no other who might take the blame, brought her crazed hand to his weapon and ended her life.” As often happened when defending her gossip-strung theories, Buppy Tupper’s voice had crept into a volume unsuitable for a solemn event, such as a funeral.

Father Burke stifled the conversation with a targeted gaze, his practiced lips never stumbling on the conjoined eulogy.

At the furthest edge of the crowd, from beneath the rough blanket she held aloft to guard against the drizzle, Mother Gran made her single statement of the service, heard only by her grandchild, Ella.

“I cannot abide a murderer.”

* * *

Mother GranGran had been summoned to an emergency at the Norton homestead on more than one occasion, and, at times, Matilda had made her own way to the large spread of land that three generations of Gran’s family worked and shared, so it was not without familiarity of subject that Ella eavesdropped upon the conversation of the chatterers who’d gathered on The Loyalist’s veranda the following Monday.

“The Lord has no love for a suicide,” continued Buppy, the solemnity of the burial having worn away. “That woman was never right. Do you recall the afternoon, perhaps three months ago, in which she stumbled through town weeping and screeching? Covered in mud and screaming – she was a madwoman, like as not.”

The prattler nodded as Ella motioned the tea-spout towards her emptied cup.

“- and her poor husband, attempting to make what he could of her. It’s only luck that she never bore children,” replied Mrs. Madison, eager as always to support her friend’s position. “It’s a surprise he was not driven to turn the weapon on himself.”

“Oh, come now,” replied Mrs. Pilfer, “I understand it does not reflect well to speak ill of the righteous dead, but you’ll have sainted that booze-hound before long. It seems to me you were not so enthused at his character little more than two-weeks ago, when he saw fit to lay his foot to your little Putser.”

Putser, the Tupper’s beloved terrier, had had the misfortune to stray within range of Eustace’s boots as the man was exiting Hearse’s general store. He’d let out three sharp yaps, then a whining squeal.

“Every man has his moments,” said Mrs. Madison.

Buppy was quick to find a new topic upon which to expound.

* * *

Later, as her duties at the Loyalist ended and she walked home with her brother Alvin, also returning from his position of apprentice to the town’s cobbler, Mr. Tupper, Ella began to carry with her a nagging concern. She made her best effort to remain merry, and even as they supped some hours later, she took pains to hold her smile.

She could not help but notice, however, how silently Mother Gran maintained her position at the head of the table, un-joking even as little Rory was caught with his fingers amongst the biscuits for his fourth serving. It had never entered her mind to doubt her grandmother, or to ask after what business the old woman chose to engage in during the late hours, but her cryptic comment at the burial had left a rattling guilt in the girl’s mind.

As the time ticked away and the first round of good-nights were said, Ella slipped into the little backroom which her grandparents shared.

Gran sat upon the edge of her bed, and for the first time that evening, a smirk came to her face.

“You seemed too quiet at dinner,” she said.

“I was of a mind to say the same thing to you,” Ella replied. She repeated some of what she had heard earlier in the day, then, as she completed her recitation, she paused, eager for some explanation that might absolve her increasingly heavy conscience regarding the death of Mr. Norton.

Gran smiled once again, but there was no happiness in it.

“You stop short of asking the question I can hear silently echoing from your words, and I wish I could provide some answer which would lighten your heart, but, in truth, I suspect one day you may take up my role, and it is important you understand the balance of things.

“Matilda had come to me on a baker’s dozen of occasions, seven times to seek my council on birthing, and six times to seek my council on burying. I know not the number before the pair found themselves at the edges of our county, but it is telling that it was me to whom Matilda came, and not the physician, Boyle.

“On the third conception I asked her what might be occasioning her miscarriages, as if the bruising bout her torso did not make it clear enough. The monster’s hands seemed to double in fury at the sight of her rounding, she said, but nothing more. She worked hard when the sixth was imminent, strapping down her belly and servicing her drunken lout only in the dark. She overslept one morning and he saw the evidence pushing at her stomach. By the time she woke he’d drank through what gin remained in the house, and it was only my hard night’s labour with needle and herbs that kept her in our world. The babe, at a seven month count, was not so lucky. It’s departure was bloody work, and a pitiful interment.”

Gran, who Ella had never seen as anything less than stalwart, now seemed to grey and shrink with her age. She continued.

“On the seventh she ran crying when I confirmed her condition, and it nagged at me so that I felt compelled to visit her upon the following day. I knew that even Eustace would have found his way to his labour in the mine by noon, so I expected little trouble. I found the door ajar, a gin bottle open on the table, and the majority of her cranium spread along the back-wall.

“How many more lives would he end? If not Matilda, then some such as the Lindsay girl, who’ll bend for any kindly murmur. I spent the rest of the daylight picking what I needed from amongst the surrounding foliage.

“By the time of Eustace’s return, I’d laid out the tableau. The door was fully open, despite the chill, and a single of Matilda’s shoes was laid askance on the lip of the porch. Upon a rock, along, but some ways away from, his path to the door, I set the remainder of the gin, having topped it up with my own concoction. I myself awaited behind a tree near the spirits.

“If his concern had outweighed his thirst, he might still be alive.”

Ella nodded, and, after a moment, set herself down on the bed, wrapping her arms around the old woman.


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.