Tag: Sap

Flash Pulp 048 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-Eight.

Flash PulpTonight: Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)


Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

This evening’s story is brought to you by Flash Pulp on iTunes

Leave a review and you could win a new car!

– but probably not.

Click here for the iTunes Flash Pulp page.

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, in this third and final chapter of our current serialization, we learn the fate of the Eleutherioses, as well as something of the history of our frontiersman hero, Thomas Blackhall.

Flash Pulp 048 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 3 of 3

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

Thomas Blackhall’s calloused fingers set the white teacup against his lips, and he took several short sips of the steaming orange pekoe within, pausing between each. He’d allowed himself a leisurely shave, after a late start, and the hospitality of the morning’s tea had him talkative.

“I’ve some experience with it myself, or at least the root of the thing. My own Mairi now carries a similar fate, despite the burial we gave her.”

“She passed?” Annie asked, raising her own cup. At her feet, Michael neighed about the kitchen floor with a brightly painted wooden horse.

“Yes, in birthing our daughter.”

“I’m so sorry. Did she pass as well?”

“Nay, she awaits me with her grandparents in Aberdeen. As much as it pains my heart to be parted, there are no others who I might entrust to locate and free my dead and wandering beloved.” The tea was cooling now, and he took a long draw of the dark liquid. “Anyhow – it is my belief that it was the same Marama – er, a sorceress, of sorts – who both raised my Mairi to slavery, and provided Wilfred his elixir. Her heart holds much love of mischief, and a sympathy for the darkest of man’s instincts.”

At the mention of his name, Wilfred, who’d been standing at station by the counter, came alongside the table with the teapot in hand. He gave Blackhall a questioning look.

“No, thank you, I’m still doing quite well.”

“I’d like a little more, please.” Annie said, brandishing her still half-full refreshment.

Wilfred poured with grace and precision, then returned to his position by the cutting board. As he moved, he showed care not to entangle his feet in Michael’s imagined frontier.

“Is there any way we might be of assistance?” asked Annie.

The chatter of adults had driven Michael to boredom.

“I wanna play horsey with Papa!”

Annie smiled.

“All right, go play horsey, but be careful, and no longer than a quarter-hour. You need a wash.” She looked to both man and boy as she spoke.

Wilfred scooped the child up, sliding him onto his shoulders. His walk became a cantor, and Michael began to giggle.

“Be gentle with your father,” Annie chided, as the boy took up double handfuls of hair to act as reins.

As they exited outside, the door’s closing cut short Michael’s shouts of “Faster!”

“I appreciate the sentiment, and the bed and roof and tea, but there is little more that can be done beyond my own efforts. When I pass this way again, it would be enough to know I have a friend upon whom I might call.”

“You surely do, Mr Blackhall, but – I take from your tone that you mean your departure to be shortly?”

“Yes, for every hour spent resting is another hour of chase.”

Annie nodded, blowing at the steam rising from her cup.

“As I mentioned yestereve, my crafts are limited. The compound I slipped into Wilfred’s water will leave him listening intently for a year. I know not your heart, nor what you would do after that year, but I might suggest advising your husband to a plea of adultery sometime late in the eleventh month, so that you might be granted a divorce.”

“I cannot thank you enough, even a year will be some solace, and may teach him the weight of his crime.”

“Well, would it be that I was capable of a greater period, I must admit, I would likely still not implement it – and if I did not trust you to understand the gravity of the situation, I would have left well enough alone at your release. I would not like to pass this way again to find that Wilfred had accidentally drowned himself in a pond, or plunged from the rooftop of a public house. Total imprisonment is no easy punishment, and be aware that, unlike your own sentence, his mind has not been altered, it is only his actions that are so malleable.”

Blackhall pushed away from the table, standing.

“I take my leave now, friend Annie, and hope to see you well when I return – hopefully with my Mairi on my arm. In a year, you will have hard decisions to make, but I hope that time will find you in command of your own destiny.”

From the yard came the sounds of a poorly imitated pony, and child’s laughter.

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.

Flash Pulp 047 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-Seven.

Flash PulpTonight: Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)


Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

This evening’s story is brought to you by the Flash Pulp Facebook page.

People who’ve joined already may be discussing your haircut.

I’m just sayin’.

To join, click 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.

In this, the middle chapter of our current serial, a rash of violence breaks out between a man in love and the woman he once charmed.

Flash Pulp 047 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 3

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

There was a moment in which the only movement on the small porch came from the dancing flame of the dimmed oil lamp that Annie Eleutherios, once Annie Henley, had carried into the sharp breeze.

“I beg your pardon, ma’am, I know you’ve a lot on your mind just at the moment, but I think we would all be best served if you’d allow me to take the light from your hands,” Blackhall said, reaching out to the woman’s white knuckles.

“I appear to owe you many favours, sir, but it will take more than the removal of this torch to spare Wilfred my anger.” She spat out each phrase like cannon shot. Her brow was furrowed over the dark blue of her eyes, and a vein upon her forehead began to visibly twitch.

“While I agree that your husband’s fate is a matter of discussion, it’s your digestion for which my concern currently extends.”

She released the lamp into his grasp.

“My fate?” Wilfred’s eyes moved from his wife to the man he had thought, until recently, would assist him in retaining his marital status.

Annie began to retch noisily. With a look of surprise, she stumbled to the railing and emptied her stomach.

“I apologize. A man of greater knowledge might have made the transition easier for you, but I’ve only the crafts I know.” Blackhall turned to Wilfred, whose face was still puffy from his evening’s ale. “Get her some water.”

Eleutherios moved sluggishly inside.

As he waited, Thomas removed his coat, placing it about the woman’s shoulders, even as she continued to expel her supper into the darkness beyond.

The illness had passed by the time of Wilfred’s return, and Annie was wiping at the last of the spittle on her chin as he once again stepped onto the porch.

Her movements were of such a speed that he had barely time enough to stumble back – as she pounced, her hands locked into raven’s claws. It was only Thomas’ swift left arm snatching her bodily from the air that kept Wilfred’s eyes in place.

“Be calm.” He told her, and yet her limbs flailed wildly, as if she were a cat caught about the belly.

“Do you not recognize me, Annie? Do you not know your love?” Wilfred asked, his back hard against the door.

The woman discontinued her thrashing.

“Know you? KNOW you? Am I not the woman who’s scrubbed your well-marked drawers for these last nine years? Am I not the woman you drunkenly shake to consciousness when the fancy takes you? Have I not made your meals, cut your hair, raised your child – what of little Michael?” The point of her finger was the only source of her attack now, and she used it vigorously.

Setting the woman gently down, Thomas saved the cup, still in Wilfred’s hand, from an untimely end.

“What of Michael? Is he not the light of both our eyes, the fruit of both our seeds?” Even as he spoke, Annie seemed to strain her finger in preparation to plunge it into his chest.

“No – you’ve no idea of what the role of a father is. You’ve spent these years gallivanting. If it were not for my father’s money-sense we’d long have been driven into despair. You spend no time with him, you make no effort to raise him up – the sadness in his eyes is instilled there by the lack of your attentions.”

“Whenever I speak with the boy, his tone is always one of adulation. He was under the power of no elixir, and yet I hear no such brutality.”

“How could you, as I’ve done nothing but fill the boy’s ear with fool’s tales while you’ve been napping off your drunk and living on the dowry you stole. You’ve stolen my family’s land! My innocence! You’ve stolen nine years from my life! You’ve made me a mother while I was forced to drift through your sick dream!”

“I loved you! I love you! I’d do anything!”

In taking off his coat, Blackhall had laid his rifle against the porch’s white-stained rail. Before either man could move to stop her, Annie had lifted it to her shoulder, aimed at Wilfred’s chest.

She set the lock.

Wilfred threw up his arms.


She pulled hard at the trigger.

Blackhall allowed no pause after the woman’s discovery that the weapon was unloaded – a motion which saved Wilfred some injury, as she immediately set about turning the firearm into a club.

Using his forearm as a shield against the blows, Thomas stepped between the two, wrestling the rifle from the maltreated wife. Disarmed, Annie backed to the far side of the porch – breathing heavily – and Wilfred sat down directly where he’d stood, fear still creasing his brow.

Thomas offered him the cup he’d previously rescued.

Huffing from his panic, the assaulted man drank greedily.

“Further violence will not be necessary,” Blackhall said, turning to Annie, “I have already taken care of the matter.”

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.

Flash Pulp 046 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, Episode Forty-Six.

Flash PulpTonight: Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)


Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)

This evening’s story is brought to you by Flash Pulp on iTunes.

Every five star rating wins the subscriber a free episode!

Click here for more information.

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 begin a three part serial featuring master frontiersman, and student of the occult, Thomas Blackhall. In this opening chapter, we find our hero already in the process of being accosted with troubles not of his making.

Flash Pulp 046 – Sap: A Blackhall Tale, Part 1 of 3

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

“Nine-years past, I fell in love with a girl named Annie Henley. I was little more than one-and-twenty, and, frankly, I’d barely been off my Da’s parcel. She was like a wisp of silk when she moved, all limbs and grace.” As the speaker paused to re-light his pipe, Thomas Blackhall shifted in his chair, taking the measure of his patience against the volume of ale remaining in his glass.

“I -” Blackhall began, but the man’s victory-cough cut him short.

“As I was saying: in those days, I spent many of my hours in reflection on her composure and complexion. There was little chance for us to interact however, as the only times at which we might congegrate were at Sunday services. I did make many an attempt to woo her in that stifling environment, but her father had little love for me, and he soon hardened her against my approaches.”

The man, who’d briskly introduced himself as Wilfred Eleutherios before landing heavily upon the chair opposite Blackhall, paused to trade positions between pipe and drink.

“One mid-summer night, I had taken as much as my fevered-imagination could bare. Slipping into the still hours, I made my way from the porch, across the field, and into the darkness. As I walked the ditches and cart paths, I gathered wild flowers by moonlight – when I reached her home, my hands were bursting with the evidence of my love.

“After much creeping and peeking, I came upon the window I believed to be her own, and gave a gentle rap. My care in selection proved through, it was indeed her chamber, and after a moment her face swam into view behind the darkened glass. Her beauty was untempered by the shadows. I extended my offering, whispering her name, but I must have startled her, as she immediately took to shrieking.

“With no small amount of panic in my veins, I turned back towards the fields – and just in time, as I heard the stuffing of her Father’s muzzle-loader at my heels. My bouquet left scattered across the lawn, I reached the wheat just as Old Man Sutherland let forth with his musket. I was unscathed, bodily, but my britches did not weather the encounter well.”

Blackhall, who’d nearly found himself at slumber’s door, now gave a thin lipped smirk at the idea of the intruder being threatened with gunfire.

“With my heart broken and my trousers moist, I took the slow route home. Breaking from the road to stumble down to the bank of Granary Creek, I rinsed my laundry in the clear waters. Selecting a wide rock upon which to enumerate my laments, I set about waiting for my pants to dry in the night breeze.”

Wilfred attempted a straighter attitude against his chair.

“I have told few of what followed, it’s my understanding that you’ve some experience with the weird. The barkeep, Sam, is one of the few who’s heard my tale in full, and he’s also the one who suggested I might talk to you – and well he should, considering how much of my drinking coin has built this place.”

He emptied his mug.

“I was not long in my wailing when the old woman and her strange parade happened upon me. They walked in single file, some three or four dozen, but it’s my memory that she was the only one to speak, and as she went, they went behind her: a perfect shadow of her movement through the brush and timber.

“I had not heard her approach, my awareness was lost in tears. I must have appeared quite a portrait, with only the long hems of my shirt to hide my shame and my nose thick with snot.

“She said to me: “What then of you?” and her accent was at first so thick that I could hardly understand the words. Something in the silence that followed drove me to tell my tale, and, as I finished, I once again found myself weeping.”

Blackhall’s heavy eyelids grew taut, his hands pressed flat upon the rough wood of the tavern’s table. His change in attitude went unnoticed by the inebriated storyteller.

“Did you happen to notice a woman of thirty, brown haired, with a scar across her right eye that prevents her eyebrow from fully regrowing?” asked Thomas.

“I must admit, it was dark, and long ago. I have little recollection of any face but the old hag’s, which shall not escape my memory,” the drunk replied. “I waited many evenings by the creek, but I have never again looked upon her.”

With a nod, Blackhall bid the man continue his story.

“As I completed my tale of woe, the woman turned, and without word, a man stepped forward, offering up the bundle he’d been carrying upon his back. From deep within a packing of sawdust that must have made up half the fellow’s burden, she pulled forth a slim vial of red liquid.

“”An elixir of love that will ensure your woman’s affections for ten years – three-thousand, six hundred and fifty-two days of joy,” she said, a dry giggle slipping into her voice. With that, she moved on, her throng trailing behind in their strange mirror-pantomime. It was an encounter of such singular peculiarity that there was no doubt in my mind that the concoction would work in my favour, and I had little time to worry on it, as it was not but three days till the arrival of one of the Church’s summer picnics.

“I was concerned that my presence would bring remembrances of our nocturnal confrontation, but there was no recognition in the eyes of any of the Sutherlands. It was a simple enough matter to happen by her briefly unattended glass at the height of the festivities. Concerned about the rules governing the elixir’s use, I was sure to be the first she spotted upon taking a drink – as they say is a necessary step in the bite of Cupid’s arrow, you understand – whatever the case, after she finished that cider, her heart was mine.”

Wilfred grinned, his eyes clouding with memory.

“Her father was not pleased, but there was little he could do given the strength of her convictions. By harvest we were married, and as a gift, he allowed us a plot at the corner of his land. Her Mother had passed many years previous, and when the old codger finally joined her, we moved into the main house. It’s there that we’ve spent these last seven years in bliss.

“It is nearly a decade now though, and I fear for the life I have built with her.”

Silence settled upon the table, as both men were momentarily distracted by thoughts of loss.

Wilfred gave his throat a long clearing, spitting upon the pinewood floor.

“I ask you now, will you help?”

Blackhall stood, and with a motion to Eleutherios to remain seated, he disappeared up the stairs at the rear of the great room. After a moment he returned, now wearing his heavy coat and carrying his Baker rifle over his shoulder. His attentions seemed to be focused on the leather satchel that hung low under his arm.

“Will that be necessary?” Wilfred asked, eying the weapon.

“Likely no more than this,” he replied, pulling back his coat to reveal his worn cavalry sabre. “I have little in life to call my own however, and what I do have is worth the effort of keeping close at hand.”

Thomas hoped the man might have a cart to carry them to his home, but was happy enough to let his feet lead him along in silence. The lack of conversation was a necessity, as his companion required the full strength of his perception to maintain his balance under the unsure weight of his drink. As their tread shook the morning dew from the grass, Blackhall rummaged about in his satchel, combining powders and slick waxes.

As they entered the Eleutherios’ dooryard, Wilfred finally broke the silence.

“There’s not much there-in that might harm her?” he asked, considering the flecked amber lump that had been formed of pinches from the frontiersman’s unlabeled envelopes.

“The strongest item used is a shaving of mermaid scale, but in truth, the majority of the construct is pine gum.”

The drunkard’s eyes went briefly agog, but Thomas refused to allow himself a smile.

Before they’d topped the porch’s steps, the door swung wide, a dimmed oil lamp revealing the form of the former Miss Henley.

“I was worried,” she said, stepping into the crisp night air, and Wilfred’s arms.

Before proper introductions might be made, Blackhall moved directly into business.

“I have something for you,” he said, extending the wad of sap and exotic reagents.

The woman turned her face from the offering to her husband.

“Make her eat it,” Thomas told the man.

“Chew it up,” the drunk eagerly insisted.

She did.

“Have you restored her condition? Do I have yet another decade of beatitude?”

“Nay,” responded Blackhall, his focus stuck upon the woman. “I’ve shortened her sentence by a year.”

The restive quality that had long dominated Annie’s eyes now evaporated, replaced with something sharper.

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.