Tag: Will Coffin

FP256 – Coffin: Dealing, Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and fifty-six.

Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Dealing, Part 1 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp256.mp3]Download MP3
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This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Strangely Literal 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, Will Coffin, urban shaman, and Bunny Davis, mouthy drunk, find themselves considering a case of arson.


Coffin: Dealing, Part 1 of 3

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


CoffinBeneath the unyielding white glow of a streetlight, Will Coffin surveyed the charred remains of his favoured Eats’N’Treats. He wore a scowl on his face.

“This is getting to be a bit frustrating,” he said. Bunny pulled her coat tight against the chill air and snorted, but he continued. “This is the second store I’ve had burnt to the ground.”

“Yeah, I’m sure Lornie, the shop-keep, thinks its a ####ing tragedy that you’ve gotta find a new bench,” his companion replied. “Now let’s get going, It’s cold as penguin ####, and I’m out of booze.”

It was Coffin’s opinion that it wasn’t just the lack of liquor that had made her surly. She’d seemed aggravated since the previous evening, when he’d pressured a reluctant informant with an afterlife of eternal drowning. The fire sirens which had broken their daytime slumbers had done little to better her mood, although neither had realized the reason for the clamour until they’d awoken to the evening news.

The discovery had spurred him to the phone, and, before he had finished making his calls, Bunny’s vodka had run dry.

Will cleared his throat. “You can head on to Dorset’s, and get a drink, if you like. I have an appointment.”

“Ain’t you threatened enough folks this week?”

“Do I look like I’m about to start a fight?” he replied, as he returned his hands to the crossbar of the empty baby carriage. The creaking buggy, which he’d finally managed to borrow from a woman three floors below their own, was at least two-decades old. “It’s not that kind of meeting.”

His tipsy friend couldn’t help but smile. “Oh yeah? Hope you also brought some scissors, if you’ve got a hot date with the ####in’ mummy.”

Coffin was still considering his response when a round bundle, nearly the size of a great dane, came trundling from the shadows beyond the now single-walled portion of alley. Its gray fur was mangy and unkempt, and its white muzzle was stained with muck and dirty water. At first glance, it was only the double tail, and immense size, which set the raccoon apart from its mundane brethren.

“Ho, Will-o, how’s tricks?” it asked.

“Same as always,” replied Coffin.

“Sorry to hear ‘bout your inferno,” said the animal, “this whole place has taken a dive in the last three hundred years.”

“Wasn’t #### all here, three-hundred years ago,” interrupted Will’s roommate.

“Exactly my point, madam,” nodded the beast. His black-eyes sparkled in the streetlight, and his rodent-like hands worked excitedly at his whiskers. “I don’t believe we’ve been introduced, my name is Pisky.”

“Great,” said Bunny. She began picking at her teeth with her tongue.

The four-legged bandit gave the woman’s unbrushed hair, and fry-grease stained jeans, another long look, then asked, “you want to leave your fella behind and tip a bottle or three? I’ve a mountainous stash, in a culvert on the far side of town. Nice soft mattress too. Maybe you won’t wanna come back, though.”

“I ain’t gettin’ any closer to his bed than I am to yours,” replied the drunk, “but at least he’s human.”

“Exactly,” said the former forest lord, as he stretched out his size and let a trill roll into his voice. “Look at me – I assure you, it’s ALL magic.”

“Get any nearer and you’ll think you were talking to Bob-####ing-Barker.”

“Anyhow, my man,” said the masked entity, as he redirected his attention to Coffin, “you got a little something extra you could spare? I’m pretty hungry these days.”

“What happened to Korda’s body?” asked Will. “He was saturated with mystic juices. He should have lasted you at least a year.”

“Temptation is a rowdy mistress – I was a bit greedy.”

There was a silence, which Coffin broke by muttering, “junky.”

The unnatural creature reared. “Don’t talk down to me, lunchmeat. I know your wife.”

Will’s jaw tightened, and his right hand slipped into his jacket’s pocket.

At the sight, Pisky raised his paws, and retreated a step. “Hey, hey, I’m cranky, and I apologize. It was a long trip here. I spent part of the afternoon napping on a Walmart, but the maintenance guy happened to come around to bugger with the heating equipment. Now I’ve got an empty belly and a kink in my neck.

”Forgive my crusty prattle, and let’s get down to business.”

Coffin shrugged. “It’s a tense time, all around. I originally called you here because I needed a favour – I have an address that requires looking into.”

“Why not just chat up your ghosts?”

“It’s government property, and they try to keep the murders off the grounds. Besides, you still owe me for Korba, and I need it kept quiet.”

“Quieter than dead folk? Interesting.”

“First, though, we have a new priority: You’re going to lead me to whoever trashed my place of business.”

“C’mon now, that’s a long walk out in the open.”

With a smile, Coffin gave the ancient pram a squeaking shove.

“You bastard,” said Pisky, with a lick of his lips.

The shaman knew he’d comply to the indignity, however. They’d both inhaled the stink of the occult that the arsonist had left behind – and the raccoon was hungry.

(Part 1Part 2Part 3)


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 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.

FP235 – Coffin: After the Jump, Part 1 of 1

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and thirty-five.

Flash PulpTonight we present, Coffin: After the Jump, Part 1 of 1.

[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp235.mp3]Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)


This week’s episodes are brought to you by Geek Radio Daily.


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, urban shaman, Will Coffin, and his tipsy roommate, Bunny, find themselves seeking answers from the living, while contemplating the dead.


Coffin: After the Jump, Part 1 of 1

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


CoffinDaytime traffic had long drained away, and the Konitzer Bridge, a span over Capital City’s Lethe River, stood empty but for the trio of late night pedestrians beneath its gray iron-struts.

Will Coffin, who was in the lead, was providing some historical background to his companions.

In the December cold, his words were steam.

“Like a lot of the grand expansion projects from the ’50s, the thing was falling apart by the mid-’70s. The second construction crew lost three more guys in a sudden collapse, bringing the toll to five. Word got around that the whole stretch of road was cursed – which isn’t actually true – but it provides a certain mystique to the rock-bottom addicts, depressed teens, and betrayed lovers, who come to jump.

“Doesn’t hurt that the other two bridges actually lead somewhere people want to go, leaving this a lonely place to stew awhile.”

The second in line raised his brow, and tugged at his lavender shirt-cuffs.

“I know large gentlemen who will make you familiarly intimate with the workings of your lower intestines if you do not let me go.

“Listen, be smart. I always get what I want in the end, so just deal now and we’ll get it sorted before we freeze where we stand.

“What are you even looking for – money? I can hand you plenty of cash, but there’s no ATM out here, genius.”

Bunny, whose arm was extended beyond the rail, released her now-empty bottle of Silent Sam vodka, and mumbled a count of the seconds until it impacted.

“Well, Don,” she said, “you’re a bit of a ####ing dabbler, aren’t’cha?”

“Wait, you’re hear to scare me away from Judy? She – I haven’t seen her since she got the divorce papers.”

Coffin cleared his throat.

“Don’t you mean since you tried to end her marriage by murdering her baby? Whatever the case, it’s not the woman, but the poisonous dog you gave her, that we’re here to discuss.”

Don’s eyes widened.

“Uh,” he said.

“Yeah,” replied Bunny.

Before continuing his tour narration, Will raised himself onto the lowest rung of the safety barrier, and craned his neck and shoulders over the ledge.

“It feels a bit precarious, but if you really lean out, you can see the pylons that hold the bridge up. They built them seamless, to avoid giving the Lethe something to wear at, but their greasy cement is often the last solid thing the suicides touch.

“It’s not quite as far a fall as they think, but the water moves quickly, and generally finishes the job.” Having completed his survey, Will stepped down, and turned to his captive audience. “Who created the hex that was tattooed on the mutt? I’ll repeat the question as many times as necessary, but, I warn you, each asking is going be considerably less pleasant.”

“You can threaten to kill me,” said Don, “but he can do things to me that make death look like a kindergarten nap-time by comparison.”

“Coffin ain’t here to give you a hug, either,” replied Bunny. “Frankly, the way you treated that little girl, I’m about ready to jab you myself.”

Her unsteady hand held an angle-bladed knife, with a golden spine.

“Wait, did you say Coffin?” asked the once homicidal suitor.

By way of answer, Will produced a silver chain from his pocket. Holding high the hook that was affixed at its end, he gave Don a clear view of the meat plug speared within the barb’s intricate loops – then the shaman gave the talisman a pendulum’s swing, which built in speed to full revolutions.

Don stepped back, as if to run, but found Bunny at his shoulder, and an unpleasant pressure on his spine.

“####,” she said, ”I’ve never held anyone hostage before, this is kind of fun.”

The dusting of snow which had settled in the pavement’s cracks, and upon the chill girders, took to the air, and, below, waves began to form on the black expanse of water.

The charm gained momentum.

Don, now gripping the railing with one hand, and holding closed his suit jacket with the other, thought he caught sight of a swimmer. As he squinted against the wind, he became sure it was a woman in a tank top, her arms beating uselessly against the flow.

He spotted another, a thick-armed man wearing overalls, and another, a boy of fifteen, with hair past his shoulders and a bare back.

They did not glow, but teemed with luminescence, as if the afterimage of a snuffed candle.

“Holy ####ing nightmare-LSD trip, Batman,” said Bunny, “look at ‘em all.”

A dozen forms were now visible, and pained faces continued to break the surface.

“I – I can’t,” pleaded Don, his chin trembling.

As the hum of the spinning trinket intensified, he realized the swimmers were making progress. The tank-topped woman was now out of sight, beneath the cusp of the ledge, and he was unwilling to lean forward to make out her progress in ascending the supports.

He wondered how many were below, scaling the slick columns.

As four translucent fingers curled over the concrete-lip at his feet, Don began to weep.

Before the phantasm could make further progress, however, a turning taxi’s headlights danced across the trio.

In response, Will lowered his arm, letting the silver links coil about his wrist.

With little sputter, the gale ceased.

All was still.

“You will tell me where you purchased the hex,” said Coffin, “and you will open a trust fund for little Victoria, which you will deposit a thousand dollars into, monthly, for as long as I allow you to live. You will never sleep with a married woman again, unless her husband’s in the bed with you. Finally, If I ever smell your name associated with the occult, I will be sure that you are right here, and available to provide me with a profuse daily apology.

“Do you understand?”

Don did.


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 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.

FP233 – Coffin: Hidden, Part 3 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and thirty-three.

Flash PulpTonight we present, Coffin: Hidden, Part 3 of 3.
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp233.mp3]Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)


This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Radio’s Revenge 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, Coffin and Bunny complete the breaking of a once happy home, as they attempt to save the life of an infant.


Coffin: Hidden, Part 3 of 3

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


CoffinVictoria had been awoken by the conversation in her sleeping chamber, and was now on her tip toes at the edge of the portable crib. Her stubby-fingered fist gripped the bars tightly as she watched Coffin finish his discussion with the dead man.

Will looked from the apparition to the collie which sat patiently by the closed door, then released his occult chain.

“Go get Mother Landreau,” Coffin told his companion. “Don’t let the tail-wagger out as you go.”

With an unsteady lurch, and a flailing leg intended to keep the canine at bay, Bunny squeezed herself through the exit and made for her destination.

Her weaving trip to the kitchen was twice as long as necessary, but, on the return, she utilized Judy as a pace vehicle, and managed a relatively steady course.

Her focus on travel, however, meant that Sweetie’s apparent need for captivity had slipped her mind.

As Judy turned the handle and pushed at the entrance, a stream of crimson emanated from the mouth of the wide-eyed babe, and impacted on Will’s leather-jacket. Coffin’s back had been to the child, as he’d turned to provide a second warning regarding the dog, who, spying an escape route, and upset by the stream of blood, bolted through the women’s legs.

As the flow ceased, Victoria began to weep.

“Step inside,” said the moist shaman.

Judy frowned, and moved to her infant’s bedside.

When the latch had clicked shut behind Bunny, Will began his questioning.

“How long have you been having the affair?” he asked.

Mrs. Landreau’s brow furrowed as she reached into the playpen.

“This isn’t the time for secrets,” Will added, as he shook his still dripping sleeve.

“On and off for a year,” she said, staring at the wet carpet.

“What’s his name?”

“Donald. Don.” As she spoke, Judy wiggled Victoria in an effort to bring her to silence.

“You’re gonna ####in’ shake that thing to death,” said Bunny. “Give’er here.”

With a shrug, the mother handed across the screeching bundle.

“Just one more -” the drunk sang, “No, wait – Gimme a shot – no hold on.”

Despite her broken lyrics, the lush’s consternation seemed enough to sooth the child.

As the pair wandered, Coffin moved closer to the subject of his interrogation.

“Has Don given you any gifts recently?” he asked.

The errant wife nodded. “A few weeks ago, as a Christmas present, he gave me Sweetie. He said I could give it to the family as a present, and they’d never know better.

“Sweetie is what he calls me. He liked that I’d always be thinking of him, even when we were apart.”

Her voice remained steady, but she moved the palm of her left hand to her eye and wiped away a tear.

“Well, ####,” whistled Bunny, “I guess the guy with the axe-wound in his chest isn’t the most ####ed up person in this room.”

After giving Judy a lopsided squint, she went back to humming.

“I’m pretty sure Don planned to empty your schedule,” said Coffin, “though usually these things move along quite a bit quicker. Wait in the kitchen and send your victi- sorry, your husband – back in.”

Bunny was no closer to completing her song as Gene entered, but Victoria had taken to cooing encouragingly at her attempts.

“OK, Pa,” said Will, “Time to trade dance partners. You hold the kid while my friend here goes to find the mutt.”

It took some convincing to drag Sweetie towards the damp flooring, but, once she’d been forced across the threshold, she was quick to nestle on the guest-bed’s barren mattress.

The daughter watched her father as her father watched his pet, and a silence descended.

Coffin pinched the bridge of his nose, and rubbed at his eyes.

“Great,” he said, “Now all Landreaus get out, because we need to conduct some light surgery on the family dog. Do you have some scissors on hand?”

Though Sweetie was young, her fur had thickened to fight the cold of winter. Still, the kitchen shears made quick work of the longer hairs, and a package of disposable razors, scavenged from the bathroom, did the rest.

Within an hour, the collie was nearly nude, but for a network of spiraling red emblems tattooed onto her flesh.

As Coffin washed away the last of the fluff with water he’d collected in a large basin, Bunny broke off from the absentminded singing she’d been using to calm the beast.

“Holy ####,” she said, “this pooch oughta get a ####ing Harley and a biker name. Killer Kibble, or something. Lassie Lowrider.

“You know, that actually reminds me, I used to know a stripper named Purina…”

Will didn’t have the patience to mention that, though she hadn’t noticed it, she’d somehow perfectly regurgitated the words to I’ll See You In The Morning.

Instead, he said, “quiet, I need to read.”

As his fingers flattened and stretched the shivering skin, his trained eyes began to understand the patterns.

“I thought so,” he said. “It’s a curse. Usually these things work very quickly, but this one’s a bit off the mark.

“Get a blanket and wrap the bowwow, so that the Landreaus don’t spot what we’ve found, then take her out of here, and wait for me on the stoop.”

With that, he made for the kitchen.

Gene was leaning against the stove and rocking Victoria, while Judy sat at the table and blew at her steaming teacup.

“Not an easy situation to resolve,” he said. “First, I should say that I need to kill your dog, and conduct the ritual of the thousand cleansings upon her carcass.

“Ma’am, you need to make your husband aware of who you’ve been sleeping with, for how long, and why your new boyfriend was trying to dispatch your baby. Sir, it’s worth mentioning, though, that she didn’t know about the hocus pocus anymore than you did. You need to get a divorce.

“Finally, to, uh, keep the sorcery at bay, you need to setup a television in that room which plays constantly. The volume needs to be loud enough that you can hear it, but not unreasonably so. Keep the programming interesting, at least until legal proceedings force you to sell the house. You can move the little one back to her own bed though.

“By the looks of things, Judy, you may not want to fight too hard for custody, but that’s above even my paygrade.

”Speaking of which, cut me a cheque for my fee so I can get out of here, and you can both start with the accusatory arguing you shouldn’t have had to go through a near-death experience to arrive at.”

* * *

While they made their way to the cross-street, and the nearest bus stop, Coffin provided Bunny with a summation of his final conversation with their clients.

“At least we got paid decently, before the lawyers absorb all of their cash,” he concluded.

“So we’re gonna murder their puppy?” she asked, after a moment’s consideration.

“No, of course not,” replied Will, “but people take you more seriously when they think something has to die. A young purebred like this rarely has trouble being adopted. Once she’s got her coat back, I’ll drop her off with some hippies I know who run a shelter.

“The hex is so specific that it’s not a danger to anyone else. It’s usually used as a marriage-ender. I mean, who could stay together after witnessing that? That’s the whole idea though: To turn on the hose she had to be in the same room with the baby and one of her biological parents – that is to say, Lassie here, Victoria, and Judy or her new boyfriend.

”Don’t think Don knew he was trying to kill his own kid though.”


(Part 1Part 2Part 3)


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 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.

FP232 – Coffin: Hidden, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and thirty-two.

Flash PulpTonight we present, Coffin: Hidden, Part 2 of 3.
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp232.mp3]Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)


This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Radio’s Revenge 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, Will Coffin, urban shaman, and Bunny, his tipsy companion, find themselves taking complaints from a dead man.


Coffin: Hidden, Part 2 of 3

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


CoffinIt was an unpleasant experience, but the Landreaus had been convinced that simply waiting was the best option for cleaning up the arcane shower of blood that had coated every surface of their dishevelled guest room, and Will had to agree.

Gene had spent the time cooing through young Victoria’s keening, in an attempt to bring her some calm, while his wife, Judy, had paced the carpet, alternately staring down her strange visitors and her ailing infant. After a quarter hour, the pools which had gathered amongst the crumpled towels, and in the anxious parents’ discarded coffee mugs, began to drain. Soon the air became thick, as if with dust, and the smell of moist copper was replaced with the stink of burning meat – then that too was gone, and the chamber had apparently returned to its mundane state.

“It’s almost tempting to consider the whole thing an illusion,” said Will, to himself.

“Yeah, but look at that poor ####ing baby,” replied Bunny. The scene had done nothing to stop her thirst, and she was having difficulty remaining entirely upright as she spoke. “She loses anymore weight, and she’ll qualify as the world’s youngest supermodel.”

“I said almost.”

Victoria had ceased her wail, and, as her forehead slackened, her swollen lids fought to remain open. Before long, and despite the child’s efforts to engage in a second round of complaints, Gene’s steady bobbing and hushing was too much to fight. She weezed gently as her head dipped onto her father’s shoulder, and her balled fists relaxed into sleep.

Coffin gently cleared his throat.

“You two should wait in the kitchen,” he told the Landreaus. Gene’s gaze held only concern as he departed, but Will thought he caught a hint of suspicion in Judy’s own.

As he closed the door behind them, the family’s collie puppy, Sweetie, returned from the hallway closet in which she’d sheltered when the disturbance had first begun, and scratched at the barrier.

Once he’d allowed her entrance(I thought the dog was already in the room?), Will turned the flimsy lock and began chewing at his thumbnail.

“It’s a hex of some sort,” he said, “It’s not a simple curse; it’s obviously just as much about the visual impact as about the health effects.”

Bunny nodded. “I ain’t seen that kind of showmanship since the last time I sat through a ‘70s-era Italian slasher-flick. A hella gory one, where a dude gets stabbed in the eye with another dude’s eye. I love that ####.”

She sniffed, then added, “this, though, I’m not such a fan of.”

“Yeah, well, speaking of crazed men with axes,” replied Coffin, “I suppose we should chat with the old man in the corner.”

As his fingers returned to his pocket, and touched the ornate silver charm it contained, the apparition reappeared.

“You sir, are mistaken,” said the translucent phantom. “I am no sort of lunatic, I simply carry the instrument of my demise, and it is more comfortable without than within. That said, however, decades ago, I became especially enthralled with a nearby maiden, and managed to roam quite some distance from my place of resting before my willpower could take no more. I’d left my villainous hatchet some distance behind, and its impact upon returning to my chest was unpleasant in a way that I am unable to fully explain to a living body.”

Coffin lowered his head in apology. “Fair enough, I should know better than to make assumptions. I’m Will, and this is my, uh, friend, Bunny.”

His roommate threw up a hand at the mention of her name, and the shaman finally noticed that she’d taken to rifling the dresser’s drawers.

“I’m lookin’ for clues and ####,” she said, as a reply to his raised brow.

“By the looks of your now empty pocket, I’d guess it’s whiskey you seek, but you’ll find only swaddling cloths,” interjected the ghost. “As the years go on, it’s all too often the same few scenes. At a time, this was all trees. I was happier when it was quiet – I was not forced to watch others’ dramas play out.

“My voicelessness leaves me the worst sort of peanut gallery.”

“By that thinking, what kind of show are the Landreaus, a tragedy or a comedy?” asked Coffin.

“It’s a poor analogy,” answered the shade. “as without beginnings and ends you can’t know how to judge the pageant, but, to my mind, it’s likely that the current troup were approaching their curtain call, even before this monstrosity beset them.

”I know your line of business, William. What was once a large swamp has become a small city. It’s the people that make it so close. It’s such that, these days, a dead-gentleman can’t whisper in the dark without receiving a reply croaked out by some freshly overdosed housewife or rifle-swallowing husband. It is they who have told me of your occupation.”

With a strained step, the spectre moved towards the dozing tot.

“I can not speak to the occult aspect of your dilemma,” he continued, “but I am no stranger to jealousy. I was attacked by Jacob Hertzinger for the love of my wife, and it’s the image of his hatchet which I’m tasked to carry.”

“Christ, your wife buggered off with the guy who hacked you up?” asked Bunny. Her sleuthing had left her empty-handed.

“No, Edna did not fancy his aggressive approaches. His ghost still weeps about the rebuttal, and his cracked skull, where my dooryard formerly stood, some two miles yonder. All in all, I am of the mind that open communication is always best. Tears are painful, but not so much as a life-ending chest wound left to fester at the edge of a shady stand of spruce.

“As I have since learned, if Jacob had spoken of his yearning, despite his shame at the sinful urge, to even a close friend, perhaps his secret desire might not have burned so feverishly, nor ended us both.

“All of the betrayals seem so mundane now; so similar. I sometimes confuse this newest father with the man who lodged here when coal was still heaped over my resting place. He was the transgressor then, but the reasons appeared the same. I find myself having forever repeating conversations with the deaf, explaining what small detail of their partner’s sadness has exacerbated their situation to such breaking.

“I do not confuse Judy, however. Not since witnessing her roughhousing with a stranger upon the dining room table, one sunlit afternoon. I should say, strange to myself – she was obviously well acquainted with the fellow, as she expounded his name at length, and in a variety of exalting tones.”


(Part 1Part 2Part 3)


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 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.

FC45 – Just the Tip

FC45 - Just the Tip

Hello, and welcome to FlashCast episode forty-five – prepare yourself for dogs, Martians, sleep texting, Goodfellas, a monk powered airship, and Mulligan Smith.

Pulp-ular Press

  • Ferdinandia
  • Sticker contests for The Mob
  • JRD’s Movember Page
  • Loyal Dog Won’t Leave Owner’s Grave
  • Hungry Dogs Eat Owner
  • Moore & Lloyd talk about the V for Vendetta Guy Fawkes mask
  • Westeros Heraldry
  • Game of Thrones Blu-ray info
  • Some John Carter photos have begun to show up
  • The Prometheus trailer has been yanked at every source.

    * * *

    A Spot of Bother:

    Find Jeff at @PleaseLynchMe or at the Spot of Bother Blog

    Read more at his site.
    Sleep Texting

    * * *

    Fresh Fish, with Threedayfish

    Contact Fish at his Facebook Page or on Twitter.

    This week’s review, The Room

    [youtube_sc url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCj8sPCWfUw]

    * * *

    New York Minute:

    Find Barry at http://bmj2k.com or on twitter

    * * *

    Curious Tales of Vienna:

    Find Ingrid at Dancing Ella’s WordsViennese Legends

    The Flying Ship

    The Flying Ship

    * * *


  • Mobster David “Doc Blue” Wendt was mentioning his work on an RPG, Empire State, which looks like a lot of fun.
  • Colorado Joe mentioned
  • * * *

    Art of Narration:

  • Opop mentioned Skinner Co. Ink!
  • * * *

    Backroom Plots:

  • FP222 – Coffin: Food for Thought, Part 1 of 1
  • Mulligan Smith in The Master of the Wild Kingdom (Part 1Part 2)
  • * * *

    Also, many thanks, as always, Retro Jim, of RelicRadio.com for hosting FlashPulp.com and the wiki!

    * * *

    If you have comments, questions or suggestions, you can find us at https://flashpulp.com, call our voicemail line at (206) 338-2792, or email us text or mp3s to skinner@skinner.fm.

    FlashCast is released under the Canadian Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.

    FP222 – Coffin: Food for Thought, Part 1 of 1

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and twenty two.

    Flash PulpTonight we present, Coffin: Food for Thought.

    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp222.mp3]Download MP3
    (RSS / iTunes)


    This week’s episodes are brought to you by Jimmy and the Black Wind.


    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, urban shaman, Will Coffin, and his soggy roommate, Bunny, encounter an arcane predator.


    Coffin: Food for Thought, Part 1 of 1

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


    Will CoffinBy the age of fifteen, Mila Da Silva’s learning impediment had left her in a classroom surrounded by children half her age. The rural school she’d been attending had no budget to allocate to her special needs, and her parents had little money to invest in giving her a better education.

    On Mila’s sixteenth birthday, Rosalia Da Silva, her mother, decided the embarrassment was enough, and that her wide-eyed child could be taught nothing more.

    The trouble began three months later, while the pair were on a day trip to the nearby ruin of a former church. Decades previous, well after being decommissioned, the building had burned to the ground. The stone walls still stood, however, and the open air of the interior made for an agreeable picnic spot.

    As Mother Da Silva searched a battered paperback for her dog-eared page, Mila walked the stone pathway which marked the main aisle of the former holy site. n

    Drifting through a door-less arch, the girl began counting off the weathered graves which lay at the rear of the building. She wandered the rows for some time, but consistently lost her tally at twelve.

    The occult parasite did not care about the significance of the location; it knew only what it required to survive. Instinct and necessity had informed its decision to spring from its long slumber, but, eve as it settled into the innocent’s flesh, it knew it had made a fortunate leap.

    As her fingers traced the cold name of a dead man, Mila paid no notice to the itch above her left ear.

    Shortly after, Rosalia completed her chapter, and rose with a satisfied burp.

    * * *

    Headaches became a regular complaint for the girl, and Oscar Da Silva’s patience quickly wore thin. He’d long wished for a second child, but had never tried, for fear of receiving another like his first, and his animosity found focus in his daughter’s sobbing moans.

    Mila increasingly spent her days in her room, and she passed the the hours watching Sesame Street or crying.

    Her dreams became unpleasant. In her youth she’d been a sound sleeper, but weekly, then nightly, she would raise the Da Silva household with her wailing.

    In the beginning, the nightmares took the form of memories from her schooldays. Most often it was the intrusion of the mocking laughter of young children into an otherwise benign scenario: She would be sitting at the kitchen table, counting how many cards made up one of Rosalina’s solitaire pyramids, when a whispered taunt would seem to come from behind her. Turning, a horde of children stood, pointing. As she made eye contact, the snickers would begin, and the slumberer would find herself surrounded. She might push through the crowds which lined kitchen, or which lounged, with dangling feet, on the brown counters, but she would locate no respite until she awoke.

    When the grace of consciousness was finally granted, it came with an unstoppable lungful of air escaping her throat like a steam-whistle.

    * * *

    Mila’s understanding of her independence was limited, but, at the stroke of midnight on her eighteenth birthday, she crept from the house. Her hitchhiking was endorsed by a well meaning, but misguided, farm hand, and, before sundown, she was in Capital City.

    She’d once visited the metropolis in her youth, and she’d been confident that she’d retained enough to allow her to move easily between the glittering mall and the building full of rooms at which they’d stayed on her expedition with Mom and Pop.

    It was a hard lesson for her that the beds weren’t free, and her confused questions went un-tolerated by the hotel security staff.

    By dawn her feet were tired and her eyelids heavy. Sitting on a bench, she nodded off. When she awoke, her luggage was gone.

    Twelve months of street dirt formed a caked nest over the wriggling protrusion that projected from above her ear, and the fattening parasite grew to the size of a yellow thumb-tip.

    The new friends Mila made paid little attention to her cycle of shrieking and weeping – many of them were engaged in their own personal battles, and felt ill suited to judge. Like most of her new comrades, she medicated herself heavily with cheap vodka, but it was she alone who witnessed the hallucinations which began to assault her waking hours – soon she found herself at constant war with insects that went otherwise unseen by her fellow indigents.

    One December evening, as she loitered outside the Salvation Army outpost on Seventh Street, she was approached by a rail-thin man. She’d seen him around previously, but they’d never spoken directly.

    “Rug-bone was telling me you were having some funny dreams,” he said.

    “Yeah,” she said. Her head was aching at the time, and it made it difficult to focus.

    “Think you could repeat ‘em to a guy I know? I heard you were a tough case, but I think he might be able to help. He’ll still pay for a decent dinner, even if he can’t.”

    She didn’t bother raising her hopes beyond a burger, but that seemed reward enough.

    * * *

    They met in a Wendy’s. She’d always liked the pigtailed mascot a lot more than Ronald McDonald, and they’d left the choice up to her.

    Mila had been displeased to learn what a dirty talker the woman who joined them was, but the man in the leather jacket, which her companion had introduced as Coffin, was polite, if quiet. Oddly, when the pair had entered, the illusionary beetles, whose chittering had become her constant soundtrack, and whose unrelenting approach had often made it impossible for her to eat, disappeared.

    This had left the girl feeling especially sad. The pain in her skull was becoming overwhelming, and she was sure she’d begin howling shortly, as it was her only release, but she knew, from Long experience, that such a shriek would push away her well-wishers.

    “Tell me about your dreams,” said Coffin.

    “They’ve gotten badder and badder,” she replied, focusing hard on the words, and away from the misery that inhabited her skull. “The ones that are nice are when I get a rope, and put it around my neck and jump from the edge of the parking structure on third street. Thinking about it makes me scared, but it’s always so peaceful in my dreams. The bad ones – sometimes I’m sliding down the staircase at my grandma’s house, and I get near the bottom and someone’s put a bunch of razorblades in the banister, and I can’t stop, and I can feel my legs and belly all cut up, but there’s nothing I can do, ‘cause the blood just makes me slide faster.

    ”Sometimes its Papa hitting me – he punches me over and over in the same place, and it aches so much, and Mama is always at the door telling me I’m a bad person. He stops if I cry loud enough. He tells me he’s sorry, and asks if I wanna come home. Then, when I say yes, he slaps me again, and Mom laughs.

    “Most of the time I’m lying in the alley though, and the dogs are eating me, and it hurts, but I don’t care anymore, I just want to be dead.”

    Across he booth, Coffin nodded, and his partner nodded.

    “Do you remember when it started? Was there a pain on your scalp somewhere?” he asked.

    It was too far back, and she couldn’t recall. She shrugged. Her burger was done, and Mila began to wonder when the strangers would finally tell her they couldn’t help, so that she could leave behind the stares of the four-member family on the far side of the dinning area.

    Coffin tried a different question. “Can I have a quick look at your head?”

    Although Mila felt some consternation at the idea, as she’d been wearing, for some time, a beanie to hide her lack of a bath, she consented.

    “It’s called a Suicide Maggot. Part of a larger hive, but the rest are probably centuries dead. Who knows how this one managed to turn up. If you don’t catch it early, it’ll burrow down and start feeding on your cerebrospinal fluid. Puts little hooks into your gray-meat and pulls your strings until you off yourself – usually in a manner of its suggestion, which means no damage to your noggin. It’s basically a parasite that makes your brain try to reject your body like its a shoddy organ transplant.

    “They aren’t strong enough to win out while you’re alive, but if you’d tied off to that car park and jumped, it would’ve stolen your cranium as soon as you were cold and alone. They’re the size of a flea when they start, but, after adequate feeding, they’ll make off with your skull, like a hermit crab.”

    None of the explanation made sense to Mila, and she wasn’t sure if this meant she was now free to go. The pain was becoming tremendous, and she didn’t want to upset these people, who obviously meant well.

    Coffin continued.

    “The solution’s pretty simple, you can either dunk your head in a bathtub for a couple hours, or try some Chinese cupping – either way, its oxygen will run short, and the bugger will extract itself in search of air. Back in the day, they used to just grab em with tongs and yank, but that wouldn’t do your thought processes much good.

    “In an odd sense, it’s almost best that you were so neglected, although I’m sure that’s little comfort when you’re sleeping on a bench. If they’d pulled it, you’d have been a vegetable. On the other hand, had someone cared sufficiently, they might have found me years ago – this thing must be the size of a fat man’s thumb.”

    “What?” asked the lost Da Silva.

    The woman with the whisky breath leaned forward and placed a hand on the girl’s own.

    “He can kill the grubby mind-####er,” said the drunk, “then, when the screaming’s over for good, we’ll see about getting you some new chums, and a warm bed. Your gonna be okay.”

    For the first time in years, Mila’s tears stemmed from joy, and not agony.


    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 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.

    216 – Coffin: Communication, Part 1 of 1

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and sixteen.

    Flash PulpTonight we present, Coffin: Communication, Part 1 of 1.

    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp216.mp3]Download MP3
    (RSS / iTunes)


    This week’s episodes are brought to you by Jimmy and the Black Wind.


    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, and his tipsy roommate, Bunny, find themselves in the company of an estranged family, and an abomination.


    Coffin: Communication, Part 1 of 1

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


    An hour earlier, the beast had lost its friends.

    It had some inkling that they’d provided good advice; they had plenty to say about the taste of cow, which it loved; and the tending of land, which it cared little for.

    There’d been seven of them, and it had been wonderful to feel so snug and close.

    They’d been cozy, until the interruption – until the pain.

    Its memory had departed with its companions, but it knew the deep lined face that had brought its agony, and it would not forget the screech-mouthed berating it had received from the attacker’s ally.

    As it stumbled from the trees, it spotted an isolated home at the cusp of a barren field of muck, and the warm glow behind drawn curtains summoned it like a beacon.

    It looked forward to talking.

    * * *

    CoffinThe McKean’s lived in a two story house at the furthest edge of Massawa Acres, a planned suburb still in the beginning throes of construction. Doug, the father, had bought early, with the thought that land prices would only rise as development continued. When he’d announced his plan, his family had done little more than nod their agreement before returning to their individual pursuits.

    Now, a month after the move, the children – Tanya, seventeen, Jasper, fourteen, and Tracy, ten – were spread about the upper floor, as Melinda, their mother, sat upon a stool at the kitchen’s island, and sipped a glass of pinot noir while awaiting her delivery of Thai food.

    She paid no attention to the clamour outside, as she assumed either her husband had returned from work, or the spring rolls had arrived early.

    In truth, the noise was their garage door being lifted open against the will of its lock, and dropped behind the intruder. Doug was, however, the next to approach. The man was eager to be out of his Benz, and into a bottle of Stella Artois, so his confusion soon lead to aggravation as he punched uselessly at the flat black button of the automatic opener.

    Stepping from his vehicle, he walked to the entrance and stooped, but, as he prepared to give the handle a twist, the rolling shutter suddenly opened of its own accord.

    The feeler moved with such speed that the elder McKean had no opportunity to take in breath for a final scream.

    Six minutes later, Jasper received a text message.

    “Got your movie, come help me unpack the car,” it said.

    If his mother had stopped to inquire as to his destination, or if he’d simply mentioned the oddity of the message, his course would have likely been altered, but the boy had been bopping away in his ear-buds when it arrived, and felt no need to stop the music as he made for the stairs. It was a surprise that Dad had decided to buy the concert film after all, but an interest in The Doors was one of the few things they shared, and perhaps he’d thought of it as a peace offering for his surly attitude earlier that morning.

    As the house-alarm pinged to acknowledge his exit, Jasper realized how wrong he was.

    Within moments the trespasser knew that “Your sister told me about your stash. We’re going for a ride, young lady”, was all that was needed to summon Tanya, but it took two attempts to raise a response from the teen.

    Even after a reply of “B right there,” it was a quarter hour till The Mediator ended its wait.

    “Got something shiny for you in the car,” was enough to lure Melinda, then Tracy was alone.

    The fresh quiet in her home unsettled the girl, and she soon found her focus wandering from the colourful explosion of Lego spread across her bedroom floor.

    She roamed briefly, checking the basement and ground level before swinging aside the long blinds that blocked the backyard’s view of the woods. Finally, she began shouting, but was left unanswered.

    It was only luck that sent her to the road, and not the garage, where the thing was finishing its most recent conversation.

    * * *

    Will and Bunny were moving as quickly as their feet would allow, but the size of their search area had Coffin’s stomach feeling increasingly heavy. He’d gambled that it would head north, and, although he’d had found some reassurance in its trail of leaking fluids, it had been too long since he’d seen any sign.

    It was getting dark, and the woods felt especially unfriendly in the growing chill.

    “Jesus, the parts,” said his roommate, as she drained a small plastic bottle – she didn’t allow her vodka tipping to slow her pace.

    “Yeah, you’ve mentioned them already,” he replied.

    Bunny tossed the empty container, and retrieved a follow-up from the depths of her thin jacket.

    “No,” she said, “I mean, the ####ing PARTS man, it was like you hit a goddamn cannibal pinata. Why the hell is it called The Mediator?”

    “Hell if I know,” replied Coffin, “The Victorians had a weird sense of humour, and the books are full of equally unhelpful names. Frankly, I prefer it to a string of random consonants held together with a slathering of vowels. Diplomacy with anything called Rixxargilax is a pain.”

    “You call slamming the rental car into a shambling ####ing monster diplomacy?”

    “Hey, it wasn’t under our name, and I wasn’t expecting it to come at us for a chat.”

    “That don’t mean much when my ass is forced to chase the thing through the set of Sleepy Hollow.”

    From ahead, Will noted artificial light creeping along the naked branches.

    “Shut it, we’re close,” he said. He hoped he was right.

    Another moment’s travel, and they were on the road.

    “Do you recognize this neighbourhood?” Coffin asked.

    “No, this ain’t my end of town at all,” was Bunny’s reply, but he’d already begun striding towards the shape of a girl standing in the nearest driveway.

    “I can’t find anyone!” shouted Tracy, with moist eyes.

    “Is this your house?” asked Will, but the question was moot. As if his voice had activated it, the garage door slid upwards, protesting its misuse with a metallic grinding.

    The beast, hobbled forward, slowed by its new-found weight and its injured cluster of left-legs.

    It wore Doug across what Bunny thought of as its chest – the man’s ribcage had been driven onto the upward-angled skewers that covered the entirety of The Mediator’s body. Like fishhooks, the large pins also held Jasper and Tanya in place, upon two of its limbs; it had forced its thick tendrils into their mouths, and the grasping spines projected from their overstuffed throats like blowfish needles.

    “You seem short a vehicle this time,” said the creature.

    Bunny turned to Will, and whispered, “ugly isn’t talking like it was before.”

    “It lost its little hive mind when we knocked off the farmers with the Corolla,” replied Coffin, “now it’s built a new one – apparently a smart ass one.”

    “Mr Flesh-tux has their memories – their thoughts?” asked the drunk.

    “This is no place to delve into its metaphysics and implications, we need to -”

    Jasper swept left, sending a pair of green trashcans sideways, and the interloper stumbled forward.

    Will found it difficult to consider his options while the arms of the former McKeans gave jerking twitches every time the horror moved within its suit of corpses. It was no help that, as the thing lumbered towards him, he noted another member of the parlay: Melinda was affixed across its spine, and the dead woman’s eyes joggled endlessly as it wrapped a free limb around a set of hedge clippers, hung neatly within a marker outline on the wall.

    “We’re not interesting in speaking with you anymore,” it said.

    Setting aside her disbelief, Tracy began to weep.

    Coffin was quickly at the girl’s side, and withdrew a silver chain from his pocket, at the end of which was a hook of intricate craftsmanship. With a twist, he gave the talisman a sweeping momentum, and was soon swinging it about his head.

    He knew hope was slim, and that if his trinket should land upon a McKean, and not the brute’s own spiked mass, that he’d likely perish without getting a second chance.

    Gulping in air, Coffin held his breath and waited.

    Panrit Daoruang was always a man in a rush, and, as such, he hadn’t noticed the oddity of the street-side gathering until he’d already reached his destination. His realization brought the Ford Focus to an abrupt halt, which sent the Pad Thai sliding from its position on the passenger seat, and splayed it across the rubber floor mat.

    He rubbed at his eyes as a prickly hybrid of octopus and beetle, covered in bloodied cadavers, seemed to close on the forms of a man and girl.

    Daoruang’s hand moved to the gear shift, but, before he could reverse away, his door swung wide, and the stench of liquor filled his nostrils.

    “Listen, you poor sum#####, not only am I stealing your car, I plan on turning it into a goddamn meat grinder. Unless you’re looking for some cheap human-beef, get the #### outta here,” said Bunny.

    Uninterested in waiting for a reply, she dumped him on the pavement.

    Twenty yards away, Will missed his swing, and, rather than wasting time in another attempt, instead grabbed up the child to run.

    Though it was injured, The Mediator’s chittering limbs easily outpaced the pair. It raised high its weapon, and hooted its victory – only to have the world lurch suddenly sideways.

    Panicked, it realized it could no longer hear the eldest McKeans, though the confused voices of the still impaled youngest babbled at the edge of its consciousness.

    From within the Focus, a slurred voice shouted, “that’s three hundred points, dog-####er!”

    It would be years before Bunny and Coffin ceased to discuss the gory results of the second impact, and many more before Tracy’s letters of thanks trickled to a halt.


    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 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.

    212 – Coffin: Cast Off, Part 2 of 2

    Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode two hundred and twelve.

    Flash PulpTonight we present, Coffin: Cast Off, Part 2 of 2.
    (Part 1Part 2)
    [audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp212.mp3]Download MP3
    (RSS / iTunes)


    This week’s episodes are brought to you by the Pendragon Variety 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, Will Coffin, urban shaman, and his drunken roommate, Bunny, undertake a journey at the side of a carrion-masked attorney.


    Flash Pulp 211 – Cast Off: a Blackhall Tale, Part 2 of 2

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


    Will CoffinThe riddle of the dead-face box had paid for the rental car, a hotel room with dirty carpets, and gas, but Coffin had little confidence he’d see any further payment for his efforts – he, in fact, believed that things would end rather abruptly.

    He’d spent fourteen hours the day previous, and three since dawn, avoiding the rear-view mirror. Despite the fact that Burt Steward, his client, was largely covered by a hat and upturned jacket collar, there was no getting used to the decaying muscle-work exposed at his cheeks, nor the milky puss he constantly wiped away from his nostrils.

    While Will had been quiet regarding the situation, Bunny, his soggy roommate, was less so.

    “Zombies are big money these days, maybe you can get a movie role or something,” she said from the passenger seat, as she sipped from a Gatorade bottle filled with a bright red liquid of questionable composition. “Hell, you can be the Lon Chaney of our age – but, instead of the man of a thousand faces, I guess you’d just be the man of one really ####ing ugly face.”

    “She’s not serious, right?” replied Steward, his gaze never leaving his furiously-thumbed phone. He’d busied himself for the majority of the ride with prodding the piece of electronics, but was now becoming increasingly distracted by Bunny’s endless prattle.

    “I was straight with you when I took on the work,” said Coffin, “I know someone who might be able to help, but this is a matter I personally don’t have a fix for. Perhaps she will, but I’m just playing driver and advisor on this expedition.”

    It wasn’t the first time he’d carried out work for Steward. On a previous occasion the lawyer had asked for assistance after being assaulted, on a chill October evening, by dime-sized ice spiders. The beasts had formed upon the surface of his above-ground pool, as he lounged in his nearby hot-tub and enjoyed one last weekend dip before covering the pair for the cold season. It was Will’s opinion that he had was largely saved by the steaming froth of the Jacuzzi – otherwise, he’d likely have been found dead the next morning, with his body covered in a red and black rash of frostbite.

    Coffin was at hand to watch the attack repeat itself the following night, and his solution – draining the pool entirely of its cursed contents – had prevented recurrence. It was only once he’d tracked down the grandmother who’d issued the curse that Will had began to understand his client’s day job, but he’d manage to talk the woman into cessation of hostilities over tea. She’d insisted, however, that it was for him, and not because she had any forgiveness for the shyster lawyer she saw as having stolen her life via litigation.

    As he’d departed, Will had ensured the promise by removing the small offering bowl she’d used to conduct the ritual – it was a family heirloom, and he rather suspected she’d never seriously considered that the legend attached to it could be true.

    It had been Coffin’s theory that holding off on some portion of his questioning, till they’d become better acquainted as traveling companions, might make the rotting man more open to honesty, but it was increasingly obvious that Bunny’s humour was doing little to bring on a sense of camaraderie, and they were running out of highway.

    Clearing his throat, Will asked, “Burt, if we’re going to get this thing resolved, you’ve got to be honest with me. How did you get hold of the box in the first place?”

    “I told you already, another client-”

    “Bull####,” said Bunny. “I’ve seen that god damn thing in the trunk. It’s heavy, it smells, and there’s crazy writing on the side that looks like something out of Indiana Jones versus the Cannibals of Mars. I ####ing hate lawyers, but I never met one stupid enough to shove their face in something like that. ”

    “I bought it, from a, uh, private dealer. After the spiders – after watching those sharp little crystal legs melt into droplets while crawling over the side of the tub, I realized there was a lot more to the world than helping part debtors from their bungalows. I started looking, but everything on the Internet seemed a sham, and you, Will, weren’t willing to help me out. One day, this guy in a tweed suit shows up at my door. Bald with a broad smile. He had the cube in tow, and said he’d heard about my search and thought it might be of interest.

    “You can feel it when you touch it, your belly gets tight and your palms tingle. I knew it was genuine. I paid less than I’d expected for the piece but finding someone who could translate the writing cost me nearly twice as much. It took me a few months – I had other things going on, you know how it is – but finally I found a professor in Calcutta who could manage it.”

    “‘He who places his visage within the box will witness the true face of eternity.’

    “That was enough for me – I thought I might see God if I looked inside.”

    Coffin bit at the inside of his cheek as he mulled over this new story, then nodded.

    “Fine,” he said, “but the artifact isn’t without some history – didn’t you do some research to try and find it’s intent?”

    “I tried the local library and online, but came up empty.”

    “Oh ####, don’t even,” slurred Bunny. “I ####in’ know a dabbler when I see one. You’re that guy with a broken down mustang he talks a lot about, but never spends any time trying to get running. You’re the guy who buys a piano and never learns to play. You had a toy handed to you, took the first opinion you got on the thing, then immediately shoved your head into the meat grinder. Your a ####in’ dabbler.”

    The car was silent until they reached the abandoned hotel. The Scandinavia Inn had once existed as a twenty-room establishment, but now stood in ruin, its interior having been thrashed by the constant wear of nature and squatters. Both floors of the structure looked out over a small lake, but its allure – its promise of isolation – had also caused its financial downfall.

    “You sure she’s going to be here?” asked Bunny, as the trio stretched alongside their rented Ford.

    “No,” replied Coffin, “unfortunately ancient ladies of the great woods don’t carry cells. That said, she holds all of her meetings here, on the day of the full moon. Frankly, I’m pleased we’re the only ones who appear to have shown up this time around. I say we probably have greater than even odds that she hasn’t found something better to do.”

    Shuffling his still-stiff legs over the disintegrating pavement, Will ignored the stoutly locked front entrance, and instead directed the group towards the slope that lead to the shore.

    “Stop answering work emails and pay attention,” Bunny told Steward, “or you’ll trip and get a used needle in the eye.”

    Burt tucked the device away.

    The rear revealed easy access, as a dirt path littered with discarded beer cans and condom wrappers ran directly into the darkened patio of the nearest room.

    Stepping through the jagged-edged frame of a sliding door, they entered.

    Threading her way past upturned televisions and splintered nightstands, Bunny was forced to remove a lighter from her pocket to fight the gloom.

    “Just gotta remember which hand holds the fire, and which one holds my drink,” she muttered to herself.

    As he mounted the stairs to the second floor hallway, Coffin announced his presence.

    “Hello, madam, we’ve come to enjoy your sparkling conversation.”

    He was unsure if he would receive a reply, but, after a moment, a nappy voice called from the third opening on the right.

    “A hello to you then, charmer Coffin, and to your delicious smelling friends as well. Come, come.”

    The lady of the woods had skewed the window coverings to allow some light to be shed upon her gathered nest of molding pillows, and the den had been carefully tidied, so that the constant trash underfoot ceased abruptly at the threshold.

    “Not to shabby,” remarked Bunny, pushing the now unsure Steward onward.

    “You’ve done well,” Coffin said, bowing slightly to the hulking wolverine who rested amongst the cushions.

    “Bah,” said Sour Thistle, “I haven’t done well since the great collapse. Hooligans run amok in this shelter on those days when I am not on hand – or worse, they stumble across my conferences, and call in brutes who attempt to shove me in a cage. People had more respect before the magic went out of the world.”

    Despite her complaints, her snout had turned up a toothy grin at the compliment.

    “Perhaps,” responded Will, “that has something to do with the fact that, at the time, you could easily command a furred army to consume their village.”

    “They don’t refer to them as ‘the good old days’ without reason,” said the beast, allowing a pleased rumble to enter her voice. “If you’ve come to venerate me, however, you seem to have brought excellent sacrifices. I know not what you carry in yonder sack, but, even fleshless, I can smell the occult upon it, and would gladly consume its potency – and this man, what a gift, he seems to satisfy both my need for power AND my taste for meat. You certainly know how to spoil me.”

    The scene was too much for Steward’s frayed nerves, and he collapsed to the ground, tears in his atrophying eyes.

    “Please, I’ve come a very long way, I want simply to be fixed – I want my face back.”

    “Oooh,” responded Sour Thistle, who was now taking a closer look at the man’s ripe condition. “So it’s the dead-face box I can taste on the air. Well enough, give it here.”

    Despite the extreme rarity of such a piece, Coffin was relieved to have the responsibility handed off.

    “You’ve read the inscription?” the wolverine asked the shaking man, who nodded. “Blackhall had some trouble in translating, and it was actually in while having it decoded that the curio was lost – although he did find some history, and the phrasings meaning. You took it as a riddle – an invitation. It is not.

    “‘He who places his visage within the box will witness the true face of eternity.’

    “When it was built, it was as a punishment, and its creators never thought that a day might come when the nature of the relic might be forgotten. I’ve noticed that human empires are rarely capable of acknowledging their own horizons. It was intended as an ultimate exile – to be cast out of human society as an abomination, and usually to die amongst the din of the jungle insects. It’s simply an illusion, however, his own flesh remains unchanged.”

    “So,” said Steward, “it must be reversible then?”

    “No.” Sour Thistle replied, “You do not invest the effort to create an item such as this with the intention of providing an easy remedy. This was a penalty only for the most irredeemable.”

    “I’d rather die than go on like this.”

    “Then perhaps I could eat your head? Once exposed to the occult, it is like a glue – the energy remains with you, and emanates until it is dissipated or consumed. All too often, in the olden days, human graves were disturbed to feed the belly of some wandering glutton – and such pilfering often lead to a hunt for the perpetrator, and unnecessary violence. I am hungry, and it is not our way to waste good flesh, any more than you would let a pig rot after slaughter, so come, Sir Suicide, and place your seemingly rotten flesh within my maw. We will correct your lament, and my empty stomach, with a single motion.”

    “There aren’t too many who personally slaughter their pigs anymore,” said Coffin, “but, to be fair, I’ve had plenty of roommates leave overripe deli in the fridge. I’m thinking, though, that perhaps it isn’t a meal you need, but a regular partner for conversation? Your tongue seems rough.”

    “Ahh, a roommate. A companion,” said Sour Thistle, chuckling at the admonishment. “Perhaps you are right. Whatever the case, Burt Steward dies today – consider this the birth of a homely child. What shall I call you, my grotesque babe?”

    “Dabbler,” interjected Bunny, from the corner of a mouthful of liquor.

    The beast nodded her agreement. “Sit, Dabbler, and we’ll parlay as to why I should not eat such an ugly babe.”

    She then removed the antiquity from its carrying bag, and began gnawing at its corners, rolling the shape over in her nimble paws. Soon freshly exposed metal caught the sun at every seam.

    Seeing his opportunity, Will made his move, and plucked the phone from the stunned lawyer’s pocket. It was only then that the man who’d hired him realized that he’d been evicted from his former life.

    “You wanted into the magic kingdom,” said Bunny, as she stumbled through the exit, “well, welcome to Disney Land.”

    As he exited, Coffin shivered at the scraping sound of unyielding tooth on metal, and the pitiful weeping beneath it.


    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.

    188 – Coffin: The Appearance, Part 1 of 1

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

    Flash PulpTonight we present, Coffin: The Appearance, Part 1 of 1.

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    This week’s episodes are brought to you by Absolution

    They say it’s free, but what will the real price be?

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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, Coffin encounters something unusual amongst Dorset’s occult patrons.


    Flash Pulp 188 – Coffin: The Appearance, Part 1 of 1

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


    CoffinIt was Saturday night, and Will, with his roommate on hand for company, was sitting in a corner booth at Dorset’s. Bunny was vigorously moving a glass of vodka and coke from the table top to her mouth.

    “So I can’t have x-ray vision, then?” she replied between gulps.

    “Well,” said Coffin, “I’m not saying it’s an impossibility, I’m saying you may not like what you find. A few years ago, I met a big time nature lover. A rich widower, he’d traveled the world looking for someone who could grant him his deepest wish: He wanted a Doolittle, you know, the ability to speak with animals.”

    “Oh hell yeah,” answered Bunny, “that’s what I’m talking about. Adopt me a pooch I can order to get beer out of the fridge, maybe a budgie that can fly ahead and let me know if there’s a line up at the Pita-torium. I’d be all “who’s a good boy,” and they’d be all “Me!” – I could even tell them to clean up their own ####!”

    “Listen, because you can communicate with someone doesn’t mean you can convince them to do anything. The guy I knew got his way eventually, and, within twelve months, he despised wildlife – pets too. He said engaging them was like trying to have a conversation with a brain damaged toddler in need of massive doses of Ritalin.” As he spoke, Will noted the glass entrance swinging open. “I saw him rush a Siamese cat once. I guess Doolittle had spent the better part of his morning having to listen to the feline declare its lust to the neighbourhood.”

    “Poor horny pussy,” replied Bunny with a smirk.

    “To be fair, he was also that impatient with people – probably why he hankered for the company of beasts, though he didn’t realize it was the mystery of the lack of understanding that he loved.”

    Will had dropped his tone as he completed his story. Just inside the doorway, a tall blond scratched at his unshaven stubble as he took in his surroundings. After a moment’s consideration of the outlying booths, and the round tables at the center of the space, the newcomer approached the bar.

    At the sight of the man, the three Steves, who’d been sipping at their Coors while chatting up the establishment’s owner, pulled their caps down low, and spread out. One headed towards the washroom, another chose a distant seat, and the third readjusted his focus to the cable news channel playing endlessly to the left of the liquor shelves which stood behind the long run of oak.

    “What you got on tap?” asked the stranger as he settled on a stool.

    “Yeah, yeah, in a minute,” replied Dorset, whose eyes were fixed intently on the television. The murmuring box was unwinding a commercial for Chicken McNuggets.

    Five minutes later, the patron’s second call for service finally pulled the bartender’s attention to his job.

    Pointing at the remaining Steve’s beer, the blond asked for a helping of the same.

    The Englishman selected an ill kept mug and pulled a draught from the taps, which seemed mostly foam – worse still, the ale further suffered when, in placing it before the customer, an apparent accidental tweak of the wrist sent a portion of the lager onto the purchaser’s jeans.

    Without apology, Dorset returned his focus to the silver-haired news anchor.

    Bunny noted that the smattering of regulars around the room had fallen silent, and that all were intent on sipping at their beverages with down-turned faces.

    “Fella doesn’t appear very welcome,” she said to Coffin, her voice a whisper.

    “Nope,” he replied.

    “If he’s some sorta Megadeth kiddie-chewin’ demon mother####er, aren’t you supposed to be this dive’s bouncer?” she asked.

    Will leaned forward.

    “He’s not a demon, and he hasn’t caused any trouble – yet.”

    A scrawny twitching man burst into the quiet from outside.

    The visitor, who Bunny thought of as The Insomniac, gave Coffin a wave, then headed towards the proprietor to place an order – which was quickly filled.

    “Can I get a second?” asked the damp-panted tippler.

    “Yeah, yeah, in a minute,” replied the server.

    With raised brows, the rebuked turned on the recent arrival, and they briefly locked gazes.

    “Stare at something-####ing-else,” said the spastic drinker.

    His pupils shivered with his decades of sleeplessness – a condition often confused, by local law enforcement, with a raging methamphetamine addiction.

    Abandoning the dregs of his mug, the insulted, and thirsty, man stood.

    “This dump is balls,” he muttered, slamming down a five dollar bill and not bothering to wait for change.

    As the latch clicked shut, there were multiple audible exhalations across the tavern.

    The barkeep tossed Will a smile.

    “Jeez, you’ve totally gotta tell me that guy’s story – was he, like, angry drunken Thor or something?” asked Bunny. “Reincarnation of Jack the Ripper? A ###damn inter-dimensional, tentacle-pervert, Nazi experiment?”

    Coffin cleared his throat.

    “Who knows. Some civilian. Just a schmuck off the street who’s better off being along his way,” he said.


    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.

    179 – Coffin: Nurture, Part 2 of 3

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

    Flash Pulp

    Tonight we present, Coffin: Nurture, Part 2 of 3.
    (Part 1Part 2Part 3)
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    This week’s episodes are brought to you by Words with Walter.


    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, and his roommate, Bunny, find themselves involved in an unusual deathwatch.


    Flash Pulp 179 – Coffin: Nurture, Part 2 of 3

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


    CoffinThe man which Will had mentally nicknamed “The Hustler” had wasted an hour of his time that afternoon, and Coffin’s patience was running short.

    “Look, you’ve hassled me every day for the last week. I’ve got your card, but you’ve got my answer. I am not now, nor will I likely ever be, interested in letting you make bank on some poor bastard who’s stuck waiting around for the afterlife, I’d no more put you in touch with anything serious than I’d entrust you with atomic weaponry, or, for that matter, my non-existent sister.”

    Bunny, who felt odd about drinking around aggravating strangers, leaned forward on the bench that acted as Coffin’s ad hoc office, and tossed a Mr Big wrapper into the Eats’N’Treats’ trash barrel.

    She indelicately licked the last of the chocolate from her teeth, then addressed the tie-wearing interloper.

    “Listen, I don’t mean to stick my #### in your eye, but you ain’t been welcome since the first time I laid my beady ####ing peepers on your skeevy ###, back when you were still hanging out with that hypno-chatty cannibal ##### – why don’t you go searchin’ under another mushroom for yer ####in’ cookie makin’ elves?”

    Before the rejoined could pull on a smirk and attempt to parlay his lemons into some sort of unwanted lemon-aid, a red Grand Cherokee bounced roughly over the curb. It’s tires held a brief shouting match with the pavement, then the vehicle came to a full stop, directly in front of the trio.

    The nearest window slid down.

    “I’m late, I’m sorry!” said the reckless driver, a man who appeared to be in his mid-forties, “Mom didn’t call me till just now, but he’s been dead since this morning!”

    “Who died?” asked Bunny.

    “His twin,” replied Will, standing.

    As they piled in and pulled onto the roadway, Coffin caught sight of The Hustler jotting down the SUV’s license plate numbers.

    He knew he had no time to do anything about it.

    * * *

    The house that was their destination stood along a shady lane on the west side of the city.

    Rory MacGillivray’s body – boxed and besuited – was set up on display in the dapper front-parlour.

    “It’s my mom’s place,” explained Alister, the surviving brother.

    The man was having difficulty moving his gaze away from the dead face that was his mirror image, but a shove from Will coaxed him to comforting his keening mother.

    “So,” Bunny said, once the client was out of earshot. “What’re we doing?”

    “Well,” replied Coffin, digging the plastic container he’d demanded they stop to purchase out of its plastic bag. “Rory over there – and Alister too, actually – have death insurance. A few years ago I was paid handsomely to deal with their superstitions. Frankly, I have my doubts, but they’ve got a family tradition – from when they were still roaming the Scottish highlands – that, well, when they die this big cat comes around to try and steal their soul, unless it’s distracted.”

    “Jesus, I ain’t ever had a cat that I’ve been able to tell to do ####.”

    As she spoke, the duo retreated back into the entrance-hall.

    “Me either, that’s why I’ve got a fist full of catnip.”

    With consistent generosity, Will began to spread plant matter over the carpet.

    “You’re just gonna chuck that everywhere?”

    “Cleaning up afterwards isn’t part of the service. Once this is done, we’re going to hang around telling each other riddles – the thing loves ‘em, and it’ll try to answer one if it’s presented. If nothing happens by midnight, we go home while brother Al takes over. Then we’re here in the morning, to let him finish the meet and greet stuff, and the process ends when they bury Rory, tomorrow.”

    During their self-guided tour they’d managed to thoroughly dust the well appointed ground-floor, so Coffin turned his attentions to the staircase that lead upwards.

    The extra distance from the mourning matriarch’s wailing gave the small cluster of bedrooms a feeling of tranquility that was absent on the lower level.

    Will was tossing the last third of his supply about the hardwood when he noticed a woman sitting behind a partially closed door, on a crisply made bed. There was a child nursing at her breast. He gave an embarrassed smile, and began to turn away, but was met with no reaction. His companion, who’d taken the opportunity to open a fresh mini-bottle of Bacardi, also noticed the vacant countenance.

    “The dead guy’s wife, I guess,” said Bunny, “I’d have likely gotten that stoned too, if I’d actually given a #### about Tim when I killed him.”

    Approaching from yet another chamber, a stooped man with steel gray hair entered the corridor.

    “She’s been saddened by recent events – but so have we all. Worry about my boy, not his bint, and I’ll take care for wee Johnny when we’ve got Rory in the ground.”

    Saying nothing more, the old man hobbled to the steps and disappeared.

    Coffin cast another glance in the widow’s direction, but still met no response.

    He sprinkled the last of his herbs in front of her entry, then, shrugging, left.

    Their first task complete, the shaman and the drunk took up seats at the rear of the viewing area, and began to pose questions to which neither were allowed to answer.

    Bunny found it a very long ten hours.

    * * *

    Coffin was awake and standing at the kitchen counter when the call came. Closing a leather-covered, and yellow-paged, notebook, noting the caller ID, he finished his milk and answered the phone.

    “Yeah? Did you see the kitty? You didn’t fall asleep, did you?”

    “No, it’s not that – you need to come right away. Someone needs to stand vigil. I’ll be at the store in ten.” Without waiting for a reply, Alister hung up.

    Snatching up the remote, Will increased the television’s volume until Bunny snorted awake and lobbed a couch cushion at him.

    “What’s yer problem?” she asked.

    “Trouble back at the wake,” he replied, zipping his leather jacket in preparation for meeting the night’s cold.

    * * *

    Once given a brief explanation, the police that wandered the house largely ignored the tired pair of hired mourners stationed again on their folding seats.

    They were at the end of their client’s briefing.

    “The guy, who you say took the infant” said Coffin, “was he wearing a cheap gray suit, two sizes too big? Did he smell like Hai Karate?”

    “I was a kinda too focused on the shotgun to think about smelling him,” replied Alister, “but, yeah, I guess.”

    “How’s your sister-in-law doing?” asked Bunny.

    “I can’t be here,” said the grieving twin, “I need to help look for John Robert.”

    Dodging past a woman in uniform, he exited the house.

    Rubbing at the side of her nose, Bunny broke the ensuing silence.

    “Who steals a widow’s kid when the dad’s body isn’t even planted? That’s ####ed up.”

    “That moron hustler – but it’s not human. I’ve done some reading, and I’m fairly sure it’s a suckling.”

    “More voodoo? Mama was raising a demon baby?”

    Coffin cleared his throat.

    “Not intentionally. These folks all seem to believe the little one is genuine, so there was probably a real pregnancy. The thing must have murdered the real son pretty early on, and replaced it – maybe even while they were still at the hospital. Hard to tell the difference when they’re so fresh, especially when it’s constantly feeding. I wonder if it had anything to do with Rory’s accident? Pops might have realized he was raising a cuckoo-child.”

    For a while, Will chewed at his thumbnail and listened to the chatter of the passing cops.

    “What do we do?” Bunny asked, after rattling off five open-ended puzzlers into the empty air.

    “Once the idiotic fast-talker is found, I know of a nunnery of sorts, up north, and they can handle junior. Since Alister has buggered off, we need to stay here and ensure Rory makes it through to the other side. I ain’t giving these people their money back, and my strengths are mostly in dealing with the dead – I do, however, know of a guy who specializes in handling the living.”


    (Part 1Part 2Part 3)


    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.