FP342 – Coffin: Shifter, Part 3 of 3

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

Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Shifter, Part 3 of 3

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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(Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Dead Ends

 

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 unusually sober roommate, discover the truth regarding the werewolf factory.

 

Coffin: Shifter, Part 3 of 3

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

 

The teenage werewolf had used the term ‘factory,’ but Bunny hadn’t understood the implications until they were idling alongside the brick and glass exterior of a hundred-year-old warehouse on the west side of Capital City.

To ease the anxiety of the drive she’d taken to free associating a list of every type of alcohol she’d ever consumed, starting with her earliest stolen sips of Popov. She’d been amazed at both the size of the catalog and her ability to recall any of it, but the red brick shadows had stolen any amusement she’d provided herself.

She said, “you realize this is the ####hole every ‘70s movie mob boss used to kill the flunkies who’d failed them, right? I mean, hell, I’m for busting some ghosts and all that ####, but these sorts of places are usually union.

“I’m as happy to kick Slimer’s ass as the next person, but I don’t #### with union guys.”

Outside, two men in white hooded sweaters pushed open a side door and scurried to the gate that held the ambulance at the road. Once they’d unfurled the lock and chain, the pair paced the front wheels to the yawning maw of a loading dock.

Bunny did not enjoy watching the building swallow the vehicle whole, nor was she encouraged to see the rusting metal shutter roll down behind them.

“Now what?” Coffin asked the nearest of his paramedic captives. “Do they usually come to you, you to them?”

“They will arrive for the gurney,” answered the demonic mimic from behind his bloodied mask. His face had paled beyond the simple pastiness Bunny had noted at their first meeting.

Even as he spoke, another ivory clad duo appeared from within a grimy-windowed office in the rear of the warehouse, but the newcomers’ patient tread gave Will and Bunny a moment to survey their situation.

The structure could have been any poorly maintained factory from the era before electronics. Its cement floor was stained with ancient grease, and the massive chamber’s paint had peeled to such an extent that there was more bare stone showing than lizard green. The roof was held aloft by visibly splitting timber, and in places the tiling had given up under the weather’s pressure.

Despite the conditions, Coffin counted at least twenty frost-uniformed figures labouring among the shipping containers, industrial equipment, and work benches that lined the walls.

Beside the lopsided office leaning in the corner stood a series of twelve thick cubes, each four feet high by seven feet deep and faced with a porthole hatch. Over each entry was a panel of glass that, at least for the moment, seemed to look only into darkness.

Jeffrey, the boy they’d saved, had called the array “the kennels.”

The center of the space was dominated by a long assembly line. Bunny - though tempted to point out she’d often seen the same sort of chrome rollers used to shuffle off beer cases full of empties - had been cut short by the discovery of something unexpected. At the line’s head, posed in such a variety of states of distress that it reminded her of an art college student’s tableau commenting on the nature of beast and man, stood at least six dozen translucent werewolves.

“###damn,” she said, “it’s the DTs. I knew this was gonna ####in’ happen. I’m too ####ing sober and I’m seeing ####.”

As she spoke the ambulance’s doors swung wide, and the smell of rotting meat flooded the sterile pocket of medical equipment.

CoffinInspecting the greeters, another snatch of teen-wolf’s description returned to Bunny: “The cultists all dress alike. Bulky white hooded sweatshirts, oversized white or light grey track pants with elastics at the ankle, and the sort of semi-disposable sneakers you can buy at Walmart for less than the cost of a Big Mac meal. Their hoods are usually pulled low over their eyes, and their mouths are covered by a filter mask - the kind of thing people on TV wear while dry walling. The mask has a plastic white grill on its front, and it projects from their faces, almost like an animal snout.”

Coffin’s reaction, however, was to drop his right hand into the pocket that held the Crook of Ortez - the occult talisman whose very purpose was to raise the dead - while his left came up to scratch his chin.

“So,” he said, “this is what you Kar’Wick worshiping spider-fondlers are wearing these days? Not exactly the cloaks and robes of yesteryear, is it?”

“Fuck,” answered the baritone voice on the left, “it’s the Coffin.”

“Call Barger,” replied the soft soprano on the right.

“Who?” asked Will.

The pair spun and began to sprint away without further discussion.

“That’s right you run, you ####in’ Island of Dr. Moreau rejects,” shouted Bunny - then, to Will, she added, “I see they’ve heard of us. Maybe this won’t be such a pain in the ass after all.”

In reality the news of their arrival landed amongst the cultists in one of two ways: Approximately half of the group summoned a sudden trajectory towards the opposite emergency exit, while those who remained produced a glistening throng of identical six-inch stilettos.

Their daggers’ thin blades were silver, and their hilts were wrapped in rough red cloth.

It took seconds for the attackers to close the distance, but it was a wide enough gap to introduce another surprise: The captive paramedics stepped from their vehicle and placed themselves at Coffin’s side.

They’d removed their cloth surgeons masks, and their jaws flared with the freedom. Their gaping twelve inch mouths revealed descending rings of teeth, both with a blue worm-like tongue thrashing at the spirals’ center.

If it were not for the cracked canines across the cheek of the rightmost, Bunny would not have been able to tell the thin-limbed men apart. Still, she was happy that they were facing the approaching mob and not herself.

After a quick search for a weapon, she came up empty, so, sidling slightly behind the nearest EMT, she did her best to look mad. In light of her sobriety, it took little effort.

The violence was brief.

The carnivore in need of dental work was able to shatter the knife-arm of the lead man, but the white-clad Kar’Wickian at his side found purchase in the monster’s belly with his blade.

At the sight of his injured comrade, the silent shark-faced driver howled. The noise, a warbling shriek that echoed with the frustration of a thousand years spent stranded and starving on a plane of existence it had never asked to visit, was enough to slow the advancing wall of thugs - then the werewolves were on them.

Coffin had taken up position astride the rear of the ambulance, and the Crook of Ortez cut a steady arc through the air about his head. The tools influence, with the strength lent to it by the moist plug of flesh caught at the center of its complex hook, was enough to raise the spirit of each of the sixty-eight wolfen victims.

The motley collection of former street sleepers and abandoned teens could not have explained how it was that their corporeal existence had been suddenly restored to them, they knew simply that it was an opportunity for revenge, and they took it.

Then, for a time, there was only ripping flesh and the screams of the dying.

Before the ethereal beings of ragged fur and yellow claws could fully dismember their prey, however, Coffin lowered his talisman, ensnaring the Crook’s velocity in his palm.

Those who would soon be corpses fell instantly, and the smell of freshly spilt blood, mingling with the laboured final breaths of those unfortunate enough to still be living, was all that marked the passage of the apparitions.

Will could not tell if their quickly fading howls reflected frustration or joy, but the answer would have to come later - there were more important matters at hand.

He levelled a finger at the remaining paramedic, who was now rocking the form of his fallen companion in his arms. “I’ll decide if your friends’ sacrifice is enough to keep you from joining him later. You’ve got ten minutes to help yourself to the buffet, then we’re going to need a ride home.”

Bunny was already two steps ahead as he began to move towards the kennels.

She had no interest in waiting around to watch the snacking.

The tiny cells that had been used to hold those the factory workers had infected with lycanthropy were, unfortunately, empty.

Still peering into one of the dark viewing ports, Coffin said, “the same full moon that made Jeffrey change must have marked the harvest time for their last batch.”

“####,” replied Bunny. A dozen “hairy situation” jokes came to mind, but none of them seemed appropriate.

The silence from biting her tongue, though, only meant having to listen to the vigorous wet snapping that was emanating from behind her.

She suggested they check the office, but, before she’d finished rifling the desk, the rolling shutter at the far end of the floor let out a groaning complaint and retracted.

She expected a SWAT team, or at least six minivans full of cultists, but instead a single black BMW pulled confidently onto the cement and parked adjacent to the emergency vehicle. Three passengers exited. Each wore a suit, one carried a pistol.

“Stay here,” said Coffin, so, even as he moved to meet the newcomers, the drunk returned to her search.

“Even cultists gotta have a stash of J-####ing-D, right?” she asked the stacks of paperwork and rotting technical manuals that littered the space. As if by request, the next drawer revealed, beneath a perfectly arranged set of white sweats, an unopened bottle of Wild Turkey.

She sighed.

The gray-haired woman wearing the most expensively cut of the suits did all the talking.

“Will Coffin?” she asked.

“The Coffin is fine,” he replied.

Her fingernails were a natural pink, but gleamed with expert care.

His hands remained deeply planted in the worn pockets of his leather jacket.

“I was wondering when you’d stumble across this little operation,” she said. “I’ve heard you’re a man who can be reasoned with. A man who understands that his title comes with some discretion - and some benefits.

“Now, I am not blind to the history of animosity between our organizations, but we are no longer a mere cult - I mean, really, what is a cult? A bunch of people gathered together to work towards a shared purpose? The concept certainly sounds like a business to me - and that’s what we are now: A business. In the last year this operation alone took in over three million dollars.”

Will raised a brow, but said nothing. The woman continued.

“You doubt me? The hides are the big ticket item, of course, but they are also the easiest to ship. Fur is murder, but it’s not illegal. You would be hard pressed to convince any customs people that the dog-faced skins we ship to Chinese medicine men are anything more than rabbit-based knockoffs.

“We waste no part of the were-buffalo, though. The whole process is carried out on a tray so that even the blood can be collected for use in sacred texts - at a thousand dollars a vial.

“You should see the line in action: From the sound of the enchanted bolt gun down to a skeleton at the end of the conveyor belt in under ten minutes.

“Anyhow, my point is that I understand the nature of death and taxes.

“As I said, this is a profitable venture, but profit is meant to be shared. I recognize that you have some claim to this market, and I’d much rather pay taxes than wage death.

“If you will accept a yearly sum of one hundred-fifty thousand surely there is no reason for us to continue this passé war against you and your slovenly sidekick?

“Take the money and leave that slum you live in, Mr. Coffin.”

“The Coffin,” he insisted. His right hand was again wrapped round with the Crook of Ortez, and his left now moved to a deep pocket in the interior of his jacket.

She snorted. “You will be IN a Coffin if you don’t - is that smoke?”

Even from across the broad floor, Bunny recognized her cue. “####ing suits! Kill three of you sons of dog ####ers and five more’ll come around in your place suing for damages. Burn your ####ing #### down though - well, that’s a ####ing matter for the cops, and just the ####tiest sort of industry regulation, ain’t it? And what you think they’ll make of these bits of dead albino-dressing mother####ers on the ground?

“I’m pretty sure that ####’s gonna require a #### ton of paperwork. You may have to work the weekend.

”Still wasn’t worth a bottle of Turkey to set, but desperate times and all that ####.”

“What are two more bodies if we’ve already got to explain this many?” replied the woman.

Bunny frowned.

“Forget it, just shoot them,” the suit told her underlings. She then turned.

The pistol raised, and the Phantom Ambulance roared to life with its sirens in full effect. Jackknifing backwards, the full force of its thick engine - meant for high speed response and emergency reaction - pinned the gunman to the BMW’s passenger-side wheel.

There was a brief grinding of gears, but, before the vehicle could align itself for a second hit, the two remaining Kar’Wickians abandoned their gurgling associate and dove for their car.

If they had not left the gate wide they would not have made it.

“Did you just burn everything that might tell me where to look for these jackasses?” asked Coffin, as he gave a nod to the idling, and re-masked, paramedic.

“Nope,” replied Bunny, who retrieved a thick sheaf of paper from the waistline of her jeans.

For a moment the pair stood, side by side, watching the flames gather along the office’s makeshift ceiling.

When it began to climb into the splintered rafters, Coffin asked, “Dorsets?”

Bunny shrugged. “Nah. Maybe later, maybe not. At the moment I feel like James Brown after a twelve-hour angel dust concert. I need a ####ing nap.”

Seconds later they were back on the road and headed home - but, she reflected, at least they didn’t have to stop for traffic lights.

(Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3)

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported 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.

FP341 – Coffin: Shifter, Part 2 of 3

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

Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Shifter, Part 2 of 3

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)
(Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Skinner Co.

 

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 unusually sober roommate, find themselves transported from the mundane to the occult after encountering a grim accident scene.

 

Coffin: Shifter, Part 2 of 3

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

 

CoffinHe’d rung the bell, but Will Coffin wasn’t interested in getting off at the glass and steel shelter at the end of the block.

He wanted out immediately.

With his eyes still on the blinking lights of the ambulance that was sliding by the bus’ right side, and in a tone too low to be heard by all but the closest passengers, he said, “c’mon, c’mon, c’mon.”

Bunny on the other hand, despite being fully prepared to give up her sobriety for a good four hours, had been dry for the previous seventy-six.

Her thirsty preoccupation had kept her mind busy, and she simply hadn’t noticed the unusual amount of muttering from Will. Her distraction meant missing that he was perhaps as agitated as she’d ever seen him, as his irritation was magnified, through her interminable sobriety, into a mental fire that she was convinced would only be quenched by a river of hard liquor.

Her eyes were locked on the neon bar sign opposite the ambulance. Even a place named De Basement, with its doorway crowded by college students and its all-female wait staff in
short-shorts, seemed inviting.

Coffin began tapping at the chrome bar beside the exit.

It was all the encouragement she needed.

“Oh, ####,” she said in a grinding screech uniquely manageable by addicts in withdrawal, “stop the bus: I’m going to #### myself.”

Thirty seconds later they were on the pavement, and there was nothing, to Bunny’s thinking, that could keep her from beelining directly towards one of the hot-pantsed blondes beyond the faux-graffitied window - at least until Will began running, full tilt.

Even Captain Morgan’s call couldn’t keep her from pausing to watch his unexpected trajectory.

It was the snap and crunch of the paramedic’s nose that finally, temporarily, pushed her need from her mind.

She was nearly as surprised by Coffin’s tight fisted haymaker as the masked EMT seemed to be.

Will had landed three more blows by the time she caught up.

As Coffin again pulled back his fist, which she could now see was wrapped in the silver links of the Crook of Ortez, a second figure emerged from the emergency vehicle’s driver-side door.

Behind his thin frame Bunny could see - shunted against the curb as if it had intended to park in the left-hand turning lane - a shattered Passat. Its side panels had collapsed like cancer-shrunken cheeks, and the traffic edging past was forced to tread over the shattered safety glass of its windshield and the slow bleeding-out of its transmission fluid.

The truck that the wannabe drunk assumed had caused the damage was stationed in a 7-11’s parking lot on the opposite corner. The delivery vehicle’s chrome grill was slightly tarnished, but the majority of the damage seemed to have been done to the driver’s psyche. The twenty-something was pacing the sidewalk and brushing blond strands from his face while interrogating his cell.

The Passat’s driver had been less lucky.

The woman, whose coiled black hair had partially slipped loose of the tie that had held it back, was lying on a stretcher in the open back of the ambulance. Despite the surrounding burr of motors, gawkers, and pedestrians, she could hear the accident victim’s ragged breathing and intermittent mumbles.

Motioning at the newcomer, Coffin shook his captive’s neck and said, “get her down from there. Now.”

The gathered rubberneckers were beginning to produce phone cameras with which to record the bout, and Bunny noted a thick-jawed man of forty taking Will’s measure.

Before the good Samaritan could consider rushing the shaman, however, Bunny raised her voice.

“This guy is a crazy magician,” she said, “you best #### off before he turns your #### into a toad or something.”

As she’d intended, it sounded just insane enough to cause the crowd to take a step back.

In another thirty seconds she was riding in the rear of the ambulance as sirens chased them from the crash scene.

Turning from the rear window, and the injured woman who’d been left on her rolling cot at the street’s center, Coffin shrugged. “That’ll be the actual paramedics.”

“So who the #### are these St. Elsewhere ###holes then?” asked Bunny.

Will examined his hostage’s blue EMT uniform and now-bloody surgical mask, then gave the man a look that seemed to dare him to answer.

The stranger only broke his gaze to stare at the floor, and his second, behind the wheel, offered nothing more than a gentle right turn as he aimlessly drove on.

“Consider this rig,” said Coffin. “Capital City hasn’t seen a working meat wagon like this in over a decade. This is the Phantom Ambulance, and these idiots are too focused on cruising to keep their equipment current.

“Normally they drift around, hunting accidents. They find you and they pick you off the pavement and they whisper to you that you’re almost to the hospital. They drive you in circles - out of town and back again. If they get ahold of your license they’ll deliberately sail through your neighbourhood, simply to take a peek.

“They drive, and maybe you occasionally catch them sniffing the dressings they’re using to clean off your blood, and maybe sometimes you wonder if one of them just licked your arm.”

He paused as the silver links of the chain wound about his right palm gave a grinding complaint, and the bird chest of the fake emergency worker appeared to dwindle a further two inches.

Will continued.

“Then, when there’s no more misery to whet their appetite with, they unhinge their jaw and place your hand inside. They’ve got five circular rows of teeth behind those masks, and with enough effort they can work their way through bone.

“They sort of flap their heads back and forth as they do it. It reminded me of watching a dog with a chew toy.”

Bunny’s own fists had become knotted. She wanted to ask how many more murderers she’d have to face before someone would just give her a bottle, but, instead, she said, “####ing around with their lunch for hours sounds more like a cat.

“I ####ing hate cats.”

“The real question,” continued Will, “is what has caused these parasites to break a decades-old pact? A treaty I only signed as a favour to my now dead wife?”

His focus was now entirely on the monster wearing white latex gloves.

“I am the Coffin. The Coffin. I have done my best to be reasonable, but clearly the members of this district need a reminder that I am not in the business of coddling otherworldly flesh eaters.

“To quote the words: ‘they will know my business is death and they will see my passage as oblivion.’”

“We heard you’d fled the city,” stammered the bleeding accused. “I mean, she - it was an accident. We’re sorry, we just slipped.”

Bunny could see his partner’s vigorous agreement through the gap separating the cab from the array of plastic-wrapped medical equipment.

She snorted and asked, “what are the runaways and day labourers you’ve been hired to haul out to the west side of town? Every single one of those a ####ing mistake too?”

She hadn’t been paying much attention to teen-wolf’s explanation, but it was coming back to her now in snatches, and if she had to be miserable so did everyone else - and, really, if #### had to roll downhill, who better to be at the bottom than some shark-faced serial killers?

The blue eyes widened beyond human comfort, and a single red tear slid along the carnivore’s cheek.

“Oh,” she said, “we know all about your goddamn dog pound. You’re gonna need a real ####in’ ambulance by the time this is over.”

Coffin nodded. “You will take us to the lycanthrope factory if you have any interest in not suffering for the entirety of whatever little existence I leave you.”

The silent impersonator at the wheel did not need the instructions repeated.

(Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3)

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported 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.

FP340 – Coffin: Shifter, Part 1 of 3

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Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and forty.

Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Shifter, Part 1 of 3

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Download MP3
(RSS / iTunes)
(Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by Libr8: A Continuum 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 unusually sober roommate, must contend with a distraught mother, unquenched thirst, and a teenage boy going through unexpected changes.

 

Coffin: Shifter, Part 1 of 3

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

 

Bunny was ten feet from being an ex-ex-drunk. She was feeling like she was getting the hang of giving things up, and she had just the whiskey in mind to quit quitting.

The problem was that there was a woman waiting with one arm on Dorset’s oak-plank bar. Her neatly ironed purple-cloth raincoat and sleek black handbag did not belong under the establishment’s dim lights.

Flash Pulp: CoffinThe stranger would have been nothing more than a curiosity to Bunny if she hadn’t looked into her eyes, then directly over her shoulder to Coffin’s face. It was obvious she recognized them.

Not just Coffin - them.

“What?” asked Bunny, only to wince at her own abruptness. If she was getting a reputation as something other than a liquor-head she’d have to ease a little more into the patter. “I mean - what can we do for you?”

Brushing chunky blond highlights from her eyes, the woman began, “I, uh, Jeffrey, my son - he’s fourteen - went missing -”

Bunny’s patience was instantly lost, and she said, “we don’t do missing people cases.”

She’d almost simply said, “we don’t do living people cases,” but she knew, from experience gained while sitting on the now-nothing-but-ash bench in front of the Eats’N’Treats, that Coffin had a specific aversion to teenage runaway cases.

“Even when there’s some mystic reason to bother,” he’d said, “it takes forever. Worse, you almost always end up locating some weeping long-haired ghost in a highway side ditch, and their problems are so entangled it takes another forever just to pry them out.”

The thirsty drunk was five feet from being able to order from Dorset in a tone reasonable for the place’s hush, and the blocking interloper looked like enough of an iced-green-tea sipping yoga addict to topple over backwards if she were to simply football-straight arm into her.

Bunny took a step forward.

“No,” said the woman she was now thinking of as Downward Dog, “he’s back now. The problem is that he’s - uh -”

The forward motion had carried Bunny within range for the woman to lay a french manicured hand on the frayed collar of her denim jacket, and the pleading mother set her glossed lips close to Bunny’s long-unshowered ear.

“He’s a werewolf,” she finished. “Not, like, always, but the moon, you know - he’s locked in the bathroom right now. He won’t stop howling.”

Dozens of late night viewings of The Howling flashed through Bunny’s mind, as well as every bruise from Tim she’d ignored with a viewing An American Werewolf in London.

Finally her mind landed on the vaguest of memories, one of her oldest, when her grandfather had taken her out for a rare treat: A midday matinee rerun of Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolf Man. Afterwards the shadow of every tree lining the heat-baked road, even in the afternoon sun, had seemed to conceal a hairy faced gent with vicious fingernails.

“Well, ####, that’s different,” she said. “Lead on to this wannabe Michael J. Fox.”

* * *

Bunny commandeered the passenger seat of the Subaru, but it was Coffin who mentioned that they’d need to make a quick stop at their apartment - and that he’d need some cash upfront to cover expenses.

The conversation turned to fees from there, and Bunny could tell from her roommate’s tone that the shaman thought the outing was easy money. By the time he’d extracted the necessary background information, and they’d settled on a price, the Outback was sitting in a Whole Foods parking lot.

“Wait here,” he’d told Stephanie, the fretting mother, as he pocketed a twenty and stepped from the SUV.

Bunny’s sneakers beat his feet to the pavement.

“You hardly bothered haggling her past the signed Banksy print she says she has in her living room,” she said once they’d crossed through the automatic glass doors, “and you barely sounded surly while doing it. I swear, if I were to raise my hand in a high five right now you might even ####in’ do it - which must mean you think this job is easy-peasy, and that you know some skeezy-#### pawnbroker who pays big for art.”

“Sort of like the term ‘the common cold’, ‘werewolf’ is really a catchall name for a whole slew of curses and other types of mystical transmittable diseases. I haven’t encountered many, but the most common is definitely what’s referred to as European Lycanthropy.

“If that’s what li’l Jeffrey has then there are a few options. There are some weird ones, like hitting him on the head with a knife or shoving nails through his hands.

“You can use silver, of course, but that’ll cure them right into a grave.

“Actually, most of the old ways were only survivable about half the time. Blackhall came up with a decent technique though, later in life, that uses wolfsbane.

“I’ve had some success using it before.”

They quieted as they passed a father wrangling a cart and three braid-pulling daughters, then Bunny asked, “so how do we do it? Throw him a squeaky toy and rub his tummy with wolfsbane while he’s distracted?”

Coffin stopped to reach for a package of lean ground beef. Instead of replying, however, he said, “I noticed that you left Dorset’s without wetting your throat.”.

Bunny raised a brow. “Oh, you going to start schooling me on that too?”

“I try not to influence your drinking one way or another.”

“Well, I believed you till you said that, but that’s some quantum physics #### right there, isn’t it? I mean, by saying that you’ve admitted that you’re observing, and if you’re observing it’s because you’ve got a pony in the race.

“I can’t see why you’d be worried that I get enough vodka down my throat, so clearly it’s the other option, that you’d rather I didn’t do it at all.

“Hell, my brain ain’t entirely ####-addled, it’s been obvious for a while that under your detached cool-guy jacket you’ve been of the ‘she’s got to figure it out for herself school.’

“Well, to be clear - and you should definitely be observing this part - I prefer that school to the alternative.

“Mostly because it means you’re going to leave me the #### alone about it.

“Right?”

Coffin allowed himself a smirk. “Quantum physics, huh? You been reading some of the books from the hallway shelf?”

“I ain’t just a hot piece of ### and a head full of brilliant ####ing ideas.“

They’d reached the checkout, and, spotting a crust of relish on her Deep Purple t-shirt, Bunny spit on her forefinger and began rubbing at the stain.

* * *

Stephanie’s bathroom was no more than a foot shorter than the guest room Bunny had overtaken in Coffin’s apartment. It was easily equally as wide.

Despite being the sole owner of the townhouse, Downward Dog had handed across a thick cluster of keys and plastic charms, then opted to wait in the Subaru.

If it wasn’t for the smell, Bunny might have thought her claim that the boy was in the bathroom was mistaken - or that he’d escaped.

The leftmost pale green wall was covered in thick-framed photos, most featuring, in some way, Stephanie herself, that had been arranged to mimic the form of a windswept leaf. A fence of brightly coloured hair care products were neatly arranged behind the chrome gooseneck faucet, but otherwise the granite counter was bare.

“Holy ####,” said Bunny, “this place smells like - uh - ####.”

On the far side of the room, partially obscured by a wraparound silk shower curtain, stood a bulky claw tub.

After Bunny’s declaration something within had begun to snarl.

Holding his breath, Coffin strode into the space and pulled back the shower curtain.

It was not a pretty sight within.

With a hand over her nose, Bunny said, “Ma had a dog once that did that. Little yappy thing that was ignored on the couch when she was around, but if she even just went to the store for a pack of smokes it’d start shitting everywhere. Separation anxiety or whatever.”

“Prison inmates do the same thing,” answered Coffin. “The feeling of being trapped and away from their loved ones pushes them to it just for any sort of attention.”

The opening at the tub’s top had been covered with clear packing tape, and the gum beneath each strip webbed with silver chains, earrings, and bangles.

Perhaps it was pain of pressing against this no-longer-decorative barrier, or perhaps it was simply an inescapable reaction to being left too long without other options, but, for whatever reason, the beast’s bowels had let loose - and so he had been left within the iron kennel to howl and roll in his own filth.

Worse, in ways the form of the wolf still held echoes of the boy. Beneath the mat of excrement its arms, though wiry with muscle, were thin, and the texture of its coarse sandy-brown hair reminded Bunny of a teenager’s too-soon attempt at a moustache.

Uninterested in remaining any longer than necessary in the windowless chamber, Coffin retrieved the newspaper-wrapped nugget of ground meat that he’d portioned from the larger slab, and rolled it in the powdered contents of a small paper envelope that he produced from the depths of his jacket.

Moving quickly - so as to keep all of his fingers - he dropped the fatty ball through a breathing slit near the boy’s head, produced a dark-handled pocket knife, then, with stiff arms, positioned himself above the stink.

He did not have long to wait. Despite the defilement of its prison, the long wolf muzzle sought out the flesh with an eager tongue.

The reaction was not immediate, but it was rapid when it came. A sound that put Bunny in mind of teeth being ground together began to emanate from his hips and elbows and knees. The pointed snout retracted, and the receding hairs moved with such rapidity that each follicle was left with a pinprick of blood in its place.

The keening of a kicked dog turned guttural, then edged into the weeping of a teenage boy.

“Holy ####, eat that Rick Baker,” said Bunny.

Coffin brought down his knife.

The keen blade passed through the tape in one long sweep, and he dropped the tool, forgotten, into the muck as he grabbed at the base of the naked boy’s neck.

Again risking his digits, Will plunged the first and middle fingers of his free hand down the boy’s throat.

The raw beef and poisonous wolfsbane were ejected across the pictorial leaf before Jeffrey could be guided to the toilet, but a steady stream of brightly coloured Cheeto goo soon followed.

Once the youth ceased his vomiting, and had offered teary-eyed thank yous, Coffin asked, “how’d it happen? Your mom, honestly, says you generally get dramatic then run away. Did you meet something in an alley, or what?”

Wiping a fleck of orange from his sharp chin, Jeffrey replied, “fuck that. Mom just wants everything to be cool - that’s all she ever wants.

“I saw those kids, though... those... cultists or whatever... the ambulance... oh fuck, the ambulance...”

The former wolf bent over, and a second round of liquid Cheetos flooded the porcelain bowl.

Coffin’s rusted-gate voice no longer carried the pleased echo of an easy job as he said, “tell me everything.”

(Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3)

 

Flash Pulp is presented by http://skinner.fm, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

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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.

FCM009 – Buffalo Mob Meat-up

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FCM009 - Buffalo Mob Meat-up

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Hello, and welcome to FlashCast Minisode 009: Buffalo Mob Meat-up

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

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If you have comments, questions or suggestions, you can find us at http://flashpulp.com, or email us text/mp3s to comments@flashpulp.com.

FlashCast is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

Sing a Song on Sunday: Stay Cover

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Recording Stay

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So I picked some Rihanna. Cuz you know that's how I roll. Well, generally not I guess. But a song's flava can always be varied. The words have no personal significance to me, I just liked the way it sounded musically. I always wish I had more time but it's Sunday and time is up.

Next week will include some Johnny Cash for Jrd!

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FC92 – You’re a Vegetable

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FC92 - You're a Vegetable

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Hello, and welcome to FlashCast 92.

Prepare yourself for: Ghost crimes, the end of vegperiment, Rosemary's other baby, Rad, mole machine windshields, and Blind.

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Huge thanks to:

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