Tag: Valhalla

FP200 – The Death of Ruby, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred.

Flash PulpTonight we present The Death of Ruby, Part 1 of 1

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Tonight’s episode is brought to you by The Mob.


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, Ruby meets her end.


The Death of Ruby, Part 1 of 1

Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Narration by Peter Church
with Additional voices by Opopanax, and Dancing Ella
Art by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May


RubyThe party was a quiet affair, just her son, his new fiancee, her parents, and a few friends from town. They’d all parked along the double-rutted lane before entering the yard of her home – one of the last to be able to claim to be truly rural in New York state – and were now seated in the plastic white lawn-chairs she’d scattered around the fire pit.

Her knee had ached as she mounted the trio of steps that led to her patio, and pushed aside the sliding screen door she used to enter the kitchen. She’d been seeking the double stack of red plastic cups that she’d picked up for the occasion, in preparation for dispensing the rummy punch Maggie had constructed.

Turning back to the party, with cups in hand, she had paused at the exit, watching Maggie The Server stiffly trundling around the group with the cheese and cracker plate.

It was while tearing open the transparent wrapper that Ruby spotted the intruder moving into the half-circle of chatting well-wishers.

“No,” she said, “no, damn you, no.”

She’d heard the story only two nights before – a former lover of her son’s chosen, unrelenting in his refusal to accept her spurning. The girl had told the tale with tears in her eyes.

The newcomer ratcheted the shotgun in his hands, and all talk ceased.

Dropping the cups, the aging woman sprinted to her living room.

Outside the home, the gate-crasher made his intentions clear. Without breaking for explanation, he leveled his weapon at Mr. McReardon and fired. The proud father’s lawn chair toppled backwards, and the dying man’s brown trouser legs twitched briefly before halting all movement.

“Angie,” said the gunman, turning on the freshly engaged woman. “This is all your -”

Barefoot, Ruby made no effort to check her momentum as she plunged through the screen door.

For a moment she almost seemed to shift in time: There was no more bad knee, there was no sleeping in on high thread-count sheets, there was no escape – there was only Bethany, snatched down from her place on the mantle, and a threat – always a threat – with no answer but the blade.

Somewhere, she thought she might have heard the old General howl.

It was only as the mad woman cleared the end of the deck in a single bound, and came pounding the turf in his direction, that the intruder managed to convince himself of the reality of the situation.

He pulled the trigger, finally, sending burning buckshot into her ribcage, but she briefly shrugged off the effect.

Then she did what she’d always done, and cleaved his skull.

Ruby’s last living sight was of the wind ruffling the elms she’d planted thirty-five years earlier.

* * *

She woke with Bethany in her hands.

There was a thin faced woman leaning over her, whose eyes moved continuously between her own and the door of the small thatched hut in which they were seated.

To Ruby, it seemed not as if she’d woken from a dream, but more as if she’d been distracted during a conversation, and could no longer remember what the topic had been before a sudden interruption.

“What?” she asked.

Her custodian smiled.

“Valhalla – where those who’ve died gloriously are taken.”

“I – huh.”

Ruby was surprised to see she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt she’d lost in the early days of the zombie plague, and she wondered briefly what her reflection would reveal should she encounter a mirror.

There were more pressing questions, however.

“Who are you?”

“Most call me Katharina Pfiati, although I was once known simply as The Butcher,” replied her thin-faced companion.”

“The Butcher?”

“Yes, there was a night upon which I laid to rest twenty men.”

“Twenty? How?”

“Very quietly.”

The conversation’s lull allowed Ruby to note the gunfire in the distance.

“I’ve seen Jacob’s Ladder,” she said. “Is this just some crazy last-hurrah rollercoaster ride my brain is giving me while I bleed out on the lawn? Am I about to die hallucinating? Is this world just built on adrenaline and shock? ”

Before her companion could answer, the cloth blocking her view to the exterior shifted aside, and a man in a slightly vintage US Marine uniform stepped into the room.

“Nah, the world’s real enough,” he replied. “It’s a bit like a quilt, stitched out of all the notable battlefields. It loops, though – or maybe it’s just round. I once convinced a guy to give me a ride in his sabre jet, and we spent the day doing laps. It took about eight hours to fly across, if my watch is to be trusted. On the other hand, the landscape tends to move every now and then, so don’t get too comfortable with any mental maps you might build.

“As to the rest, well, you’re already dead, so you ain’t likely to get much deader. You’re also late, which is sort of weird, but sometimes the valkyries like to take the long way home.

”Name’s Jenkins, by the way – Cutter or Leroy, whichever you prefer.”

Despite her ghostly status, Ruby found his handshake reassuringly solid.

“Time to go meet the boss,” said Cutter.

“Boss?” she asked. She’d never been a fan of being told what to do.

Jenkins caught the tone in her voice. “Oh, he’s nice enough. Some of the old timers have a problem with him – apparently he’s only been in management of the place for the last couple hundred years – but Blackhall’s a solid guy.”

The words made little sense to Ruby, but, as the trio strolled through the smoking remains of a formerly grassy field, it seemed that there would be plenty of time for explanations.


Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

Freesound.org credits:

Text and audio commentaries can be sent to comments@flashpulp.com – but be aware that it may appear in the FlashCast.

– and thanks to you, for reading. If you enjoyed the story, tell your friends.

FP144 – The Glorious: Key, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode one hundred and forty-four.

Flash Pulp

Tonight we present, The Glorious: Key, Part 1 of 1

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Ladies Pendragon.

Find out more about their Pendragon Variety Podcast at http://pendragonvariety.com/


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 come across an odd conversation at the edge of the Valhalla’s eternal warfare.


Flash Pulp 144 – The Glorious: Key, Part 1 of 1

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


The stranger hadn’t noticed Leroy “Cutter” Jenkins belly-crawling through the rice paddy, and Cutter was nearly on top of him before the large man started out of the reverie he’d been engaged in while reclining against the dirt that held the shallow water.

Leroy felt some kinship for the man, as he was not unfamiliar with becoming lost in thought while staring into the unchanging blue sky that blanketed the daytime portion of the endless fight and feast cycle that was Valhalla. His opponent’s beard and moustache, made up of stringy patches, also brought old high school chums to mind.

The man fumbled for his weapon – an eighteenth century broadsword – then noted the grin on Jenkins’ face and sat down heavily.

“Hi. Name’s Moe – if you don’t shoot me, I’ll share some of the deer-flank that I saved from last night’s feast.”

“I could shoot you, then take it,” Cutter replied, making it an obvious joke by tucking away his rifle and taking a seat on the mud.

Moe smiled as he responded.

“Do it and I’ll be sure to bleed all over it before I go.”

The GloriousIt was fine meat, as always, and both men were soon speaking over greasy fingers.

“If you’ll excuse my saying so,” said Leroy, “you don’t have the face of someone who lived a life full of combat.”

“Oh – I was in the military, certainly, but I was a computer technician,” replied Moe. “I wasn’t bright enough to design systems or engineer missiles, but I could jockey a keyboard like no one else – but it is a lengthy story.”

Cutter waved towards the sounds of gunfire drifting to them from the east.

“I certainly don’t have anything better to do.”

Moe nodded, coughed, then began:

“The trouble in my country had begun when I was very young, and for much of my childhood I lived with my mother, overseas. When she came to a point where she could no longer stand to be away from the rest of her family, we moved back. Qalat was a poor area, but the things I’d learned brought attention, and I was soon ushered into our ragged army.”

He plucked at the hilt of his weapon, never lifting the blade from the muck.

“Much like this, our weapons were largely cast-offs, and acquired cheaply. Still, the world is eager to supply an angry hand, and our little tinpot eventually found his fist filled with missiles which could strike his enemies down from many miles away.

“Qalat was not a particularly nice place, as I mentioned, and there was a boy, whom we called Bulldog, who made my transition back a misery. His youth was spent punching anyone smaller than himself, and I was regularly the outlet for his frustrations. Oddly, however, once I’d been torn away from the familiar to conduct my military service, I found him to be one of the few whom I spoke with regularly – he had been assigned to the same command as myself, but, where I was a technician, he was one of what we referred to as “the doormen”, thugs who did not associate with the computer people.

“Although Bulldog and I continued to hate each other, our relationship changed. Often we would exchange quick snatches of gossip as we passed, items from home, or theories regarding future actions that the separate sections were not privy to. He would always end the talk with abuse, as if I needed reminding that I shouldn’t think him a friend. It was not cute in a comedic sort of way, it was simply mean.”

Moe licked his fingers, tossing away a stray bone.

“Before I died, we were on high alert, dealing with what seemed like an endless series of rebellions. It wasn’t the first time I’d been made to key in the commands necessary to prepare the array of missiles which lay at the far end of my computer network, but I had never actually fired one of the expensive death-dealers.

“That night I finally received an order to do just that – to flatten Qalat, no less.

“I couldn’t do it

“We’d always known the doormen weren’t on hand for our protection, but for rough encouragement, and when it was obvious I wasn’t carrying out the extensive typing that I ought to be, Bulldog approached.

“”It’s home,” I said in a whisper, trying not to raise the attention of the others.

“”So?” was his reply, and he followed it with a twisted lip which told me that whatever conversation we had exchanged was certainly not an excuse for friendship. He spoke loudly, and the situation became obvious to everyone seated in front of a glowing display, or standing at the entrance, rifle in hand.

“Bulldog was quickly ordered to inform me of my duty, and I informed him of what I thought of his obligations. He shouldered his rifle, removed a pistol from his belt, and held it against my head, saying it was my last warning.

“My response was not voluntary – it is a hard thing to allow a wasp to land on your forehead without reflexively swatting it away. With that act of defiance, I had no option but to continue on with my small rebellion, and I stood from my chair. Bulldog fired his sidearm once into the floor before I’d gotten hold of his hair, then I thrust his face into the sharp electrical mouth of my computer monitor, just as I was shot in the back. His smoking, jerking, dance, was my last earthly sight.”

There was a rare break in the constant din, as if the distant combatants wished to pay a moment of respect, which Moe punctuated with a throaty burp.

“I do not honestly know if I saved any lives in Qalat, but I do know that I’ve found myself here.”

Cutter nodded, and both men reclined, groaning at the satisfaction of their full bellies.

They were still staring into the cloudless sky as dusk began to fall.


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.