Tag Archives: Audiofiction

FPSE32 – Sofia Esperon and Greater Things

Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode #32.

Flash PulpTonight we present Sofia Esperon and Greater Things

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Orphaned Entertainment!

 

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 Queen Sofia Esperon is summoned to a dragon-haunted corner of her kingdom.

 

Sofia Esperon, Queen of the Hundred Kingdoms, and Greater Things

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

 

There’d been an age when many corners of the Hundred Kingdoms smoked with the passage of dragons, but under royal decree, and with careful consideration, their population had been coaxed into a quiet cohabitation by Queen Sofia Esperon’s command.

It was with some surprise then that the small farming village of Tolspot, situated along the southern edge of the Sweetfield Peninsula, found itself within the shadow of a mighty wingspan early one spring morning.

A herdsman by the name of Phosmas was loitering at his meadow’s edge, feeding a stand of spruce his previous night’s wine, when the gloom fell. His head shifted skyward, expecting a persistent cloud, but instead he spotted the blue-black form of a soaring reptile.

With wet boots he’d collected his sheep and scurried to town.

Though his position, both societal and geographical, meant he was likely the first to have spotted its trajectory, Tolspot was afire with the news by the time he’d penned his beasts and achieved the square. The whispers he found there were a mix of fear and curiosity.

Mayor Slowfinger stood upon the low platform that acted as courthouse, stage, and altar, depending on the need of the day. Her arms were wide and her voice hushed.

“So it is that I’ve dispatched a rider to the capital,” she was saying. “We should have quick word, as we know the Queen takes such matters quite seriously. Still, it is three days ride, so it would be best that we remain vigilant and keep the cattle sheltered as best we can.”

Elida Weatherspout – her husband Toon at her side and their bairn, Malthus, in her hands – stepped forward and asked, “where could it have come from? Surely others have noticed the passage and the Queen’s Guard is already imminent?”

The Mayor shook her head in careful turns, but she waggled a finger at Old Man Ross, the hamlet’s living history, as an answer.

Ross cleared his throat with a papery cough and worked to have his words heard over the creak of his jaw.

“That’s Murk, as lively as I’ve ever seen him, I’d know that smudge upon the horizon even if Witch Martha hadn’t removed the canker from my eye last wintertide.”

“Murk?” replied Elida, “I thought the legends of the sky lord nothing more than spook tales told around the harvest fires to keep children from wandering too far into the wildwoods?”

Here then Phosmas found his opportunity to add to the debate.

“I believe it,” he said, “He was low over the treetops when he swept across my pasture, and I saw clearly the stump that marked the loss of his second head.”

In a previous age the Queen had demanded every such beast stand for inspection, and she had determined, with a steadier hand than any in her retinue, that though the right head seemed reasonable enough to be allowed to live, the left was not but animal and must be removed to curb the danger it posed.

Though many argued she should just slay the monster in its entirety and not risk a misstep, she had not made the decision without consideration: Many who had seen the dragon upon its raids had claimed the right argued endlessly with the left, and that the better half had even shouted warnings of its arrival to those villagers too deep in slumber or a whiskey jug to note its alighting.

Now, however, as the townsfolk stood and chattered beneath the rising sun, there was little more to do. None cared to approach Mount Tellmore, the sole peak in the area, and the storied home – and, until recently, assumed grave – of Murk.

The hunter appeared on the second evening, though none had witnessed Murk again since the surprise of the previous dawn.

He arrived upon a white horse laden with weaponry and leather. His saddle was hung with trophies – bear claws of extraordinary size, the shattered tip of a minotaur’s horn, the ears of a jackalope – and his sword was bejewelled and well-honed.

“I have come to stalk the beast!” the stranger told all who approached.

Phosmas thought he looked rather sharp atop his charger, truly a grand addition to any spring rites parade, but he could not bring his mind to lineup the glittering appearance of the man’s breeches and boots with the blood and mud he associated with local deerstalkers.

“You’ve come from the Queen?” asked Mayor Slowfinger, once the newcomer’s gathering procession had arrived at the center of town. “Where is Erwin?”

“I am Hans Grizmore, though most know me as Hans the Hunter. I met your Erwin upon his long ride, and your plea brought pity to my heart. This monster will taste my blade the same as the Lord of the Maze, a bovine beast I encountered along the northern coast -”

His tale stretched into greater theatrics from there, and by nightfall all who had remained to listen were tipsy with their own hospitality.

At dawn Grizmore rode out, his load reduced to only that which he might need for the journey to the mountain top. By dusk he had returned, and his equipment finally held some aspect of what Phosmas knew of hunting.

The outsider carried Murk’s skull strung from his stallion’s tack, and he displayed it with pride as he dismounted before the inn and accepted an offered tankard of mead. Though the Mayor frowned at his approach – just as she had when her insistence that he not ride out had been ignored – those same revellers who’d seen him off welcomed his reappearance with gusto, and an unexpected and unsanctioned celebration broke forth. At its peak Hans stood astride the square’s stage, his spoils at his feet, and the Widow Seen’s paintbrush capturing his image upon her canvas.

The revelry lasted two days, yet on the third morning milky-eyed goblins were caught in the Weatherspouts’ dooryard, and little Malthus was in their hands. Only Elida’s quick work with the farm’s wood splitting ax saved the bairn from a stewpot.

Panic worked its way through the streets and across the hedgerows, and soon more sightings were collected: The Millthorn’s goats were missing, unknown assailants had spent a terrifying night battering the buttoned windows and tightly cinched doors of the Ghorbani homestead, and the Bekele’s barn had been set afire as the cackles of the hidden men – the local name for the cursed goblins that legend claimed had once inhabited the area – could be heard over the cluck and moan of fearful livestock.

Calling all from field and hill, Mayor Slowfinger had declared an emergency upon the land, and demanded all able should stand guard at the town’s borders while those unable should sleep within the safety of its walls.

It was as the residence of Tolspot fashioned pikes and armed themselves with kitchen cutlery that the Mayor stopped Hans from making his exit.

Sofia“- and where are you off to in such a hurry?” she asked.

“My job is done, and it’s clear you’re now occupied, so it’s best I be about my way. I am, afterall, a hunter and not a soldier.”

“You’re not even that,” replied Slowfinger, “you’re a trophy collector. That said, stay and raise your sword for the barricade or it’ll be my own blade that takes YOUR head for a prize.”

Perhaps it was the strength of the woman’s words, perhaps it was the many eyes who watched the exchange – and the risk to his reputation those observers entailed – but, whatever the case, Grizmore turned back towards the inn.

What followed was a night and day of siege. Flasks of looted wine were set aflame and cast into the villagers’ midst, barns were burnt and cattle slaughtered, and knobby arrows rained from the darkness, chased by cackling laughter. Worse yet, for every casualty the beleaguered citizens inflicted it seemed five more toothy faces appeared to challenge the bulwark.

Finally, unslept and with their food supplies dwindling at their lack of access to crops and root cellars, the gathered defenders turned to formulating a plan to abandon their homes and attempt to escape the now seemingly endless tide.

With tears on their cheeks and memories of sunnier days in mind, they began to collect what they could – and that is when they heard the horns.

Queen Sofia Esperon had not come with the intention of combat, but it was rare, in this late day of her reign, that she went anywhere within her Hundred Kingdoms without her weapon at her side and her Guard close at hand.

Surprises were simply too common along the road, even in such a peaceful era.

She did not sully her blade, however. The rumble of a dozen warbears, their coats close cropped and their harnesses glittering in the sun, echoed along the valley, and the beasts fell upon those of the imps too slow in retreating.

Yet it was not the invaders who received the worst of her wrath.

“You again, Hans?” she asked, once the townsfolks’ greetings and thanks had been established.

For the first time since Grizmore’s arrival, Phasmos noted the man was quiet – he had, in fact, taken to apparently sheltering behind the dirt-laden forms of the Weatherspouts, though Elida and Toon seemed to have taken the greater brunt of the messy work of defense.

The hunter stepped forward and took to one knee before his ruler.

“Yes, your highness, I arrived to save you the work of slaying the dragon Murk, though he was clearly not the only threat that beset these lands. It seems this place is cursed. Surely this must all be the work of some foul mystic?”

“No,” replied Sofia, “it is but the work of one idiot. A true hunter – one that needs fur for heat, meat for winter jerky, and the bones for their summer stew – knows the consequences of cutting too deep, of culling too far.

“It is no coincidence that the flood followed your pulling of the plug that had held them in place. I had wrought a deal with the beast, decades ago, that he would scrounge his meals only from the tunnels at the rear of his cave, where the undermountain goblins plot endlessly and refuse all treaties.

“Now the balance has been offset. You will help correct it. No longer, however, will you be Hans the Hunter. Today you begin new duties, under a new name. We will build you a gate, and you will be sure it remains shut – as shut as your damned mouth if you know what’s good for you.”

It took only a week to close off the hole in Mount Tellmore, yet it was but the beginning of a lifetime of work for Grizmore the Doorman.

 

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

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

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.

FP431 – The Irregular Division: Hostilities, Part 2 of 3

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

Flash PulpTonight we present The Irregular Division: Hostilities, Part 2 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
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This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Elysian Springs Kickstarter!

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, we report on unpleasant and indecent acts as they unfold across Great Britain. This episode, dedicated to Captain Pigheart, is definitely not safe for children, workplaces, or your parents.

 

The Irregular Division: Hostilities, Part 2 of 3

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

 

November, Year One

Source: The Capital City Citizen

Headline: UK TERROR ATTACK

Body:

We have reports, most from what remains of the BBC, that Great Britain has been the target of a well-coordinated string of bio-weapon attacks conducted by an unknown group of aggressors.

Indications began to crop up on social media feeds around 10PM London time, and it has been confirmed that an emergency declaration was made to European Union officials, by British parliament, shortly before midnight.

Though transcripts of the conversation have yet to be released, the discussion was obviously dire: A naval task force was immediately deployed, and fighter jets scrambled.

No official tally has yet been provided, but witness reports from one Princess Cruises ship, re-routed from its Brest-to-Plymouth course by military vessels, claim that at least three fishing-class boats were sunk within view of the vacationing families watching from the liner’s balconies.

Aircraft were also targeted, as cellphone photos of wreckage, taken in the northern provinces of the French countryside, have surfaced online. Though currently unconfirmed by Citizen staff, information on the ground is that all lives on EasyJet flight U2-7142 have been lost. It is unclear if the infection had spread to the passengers and crew.

FP431 - The Irregular Division: Part 2 of 3While every death related to this incident is an unfortunate loss, it appears the hastily erected quarantine blockade is holding.

Satellite and fly-by imagery was hampered during the night hours, but dawn has found a very changed island.

Social media reports seem to indicate rioting, but no observers were prepared for the swathes of human flesh that they were presented. While the plague’s transmission mechanism has yet to be determined, it is clear that close contact is more than enough to spread the epidemic.

One man was spotted sprinting away from a crowd in a panic, along the Liverpool docks, only to stop some dozen feet ahead of his pursuers, possibly due to a shift in the wind. When he halted, so too did the twenty to thirty revelers behind him. He immediately began to strip, first removing the scarf he’d wrapped about his face and the goggles he’d been wearing but not stopping until he was completely nude. Though the crowd howled at his display, they could not join him in disrobing: Each was already in a state of undress.

It is reported that those giving chase were endlessly grabbing at each other, and themselves, in their anticipation.

Finally naked, the man apparently turned back towards his stalkers, and what can only be described as an orgy ensued.

The merchant ship that spotted the activity, its Norwegian crew having drawn up its entry at the earliest indication of trouble, cut ties from the shore and moved into open water once it was obvious that, after an hour’s brutal sexual interaction, not all members of the clench had survived the ongoing copulation.

However, as of press time, the sole government-acknowledged release has been from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, who set down a light aircraft at the Manchester airport at approximately the same hour as the incident reported by the Norwegian crew. For reasons of expedient public disclosure, the center’s visual link was provided to news sources uninterrupted and unedited.

Video from the cockpit shows two armed analysts moving from the plane only to be caught up in a tide of naked humanity flowing from the terminal in search of a target to sate their lust. Though the recording provides no audio, the pair can clearly be seen attempting to retreat from the flood until their suits are breached by groping hands. Once their barriers are violated, both members of the ECDC strip away their gear at top speed, their tongues making lewd gestures towards the infected even before they were free of their suits.

What follows is a horrifying sight: The group falls to the tarmac as a single pulsing mass of limbs and genitals, and remains there for the majority of the broadcast. In the end, just three of the dozens who entered the frame stand to depart, the rest having evidently died of dehydration, exhaustion, or simple brute injury during the act of mob fornication.

Though the survivor is not visible, a slight shake then indicates the plane’s engine was restarted, and the perspective swings to an empty runway.

The remaining lovers – two men and a woman – turn as one at the noise, running directly towards the small plane’s single prop. Though the males’ libido is clearly on display, the look of hunger in the trio’s eyes is perhaps what is most unnerving. The fervor remains unchanged even as the group move to embrace the escaping craft. While the view provides little detail, it is clear that their embrace of bone and meat is enough to damage the propeller, and the final seconds of the transmission are a quickly approaching utility hangar.

There is no confirmation as to if the pilot perished in the impact. Perhaps it would be the better option.

As of the time of this printing, millions are expected dead.

 

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

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

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.

FPSE029 – Road Into Summer

Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode Twenty-Nine.

Flash PulpTonight we present Road Into Summer

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Way of the Buffalo 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 we Kill All Vociferation as we briefly gaze through a window into a universe that wasn’t, but may still be. Join us, with a pair of old friends, for a short journey into Summer’s swelter.

 

Road Into Summer

Written by Opopanax
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

FPSE29 - Road Into Summer

 

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

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

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.

FPSE028 – Vanitas: Digging

Welcome to Flash Pulp Special Episode Twenty-Eight.

Flash PulpTonight we present Vanitas: Digging

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(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Way of the Buffalo 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 we take a detour into the woods and find ourselves at the site of an unusual burial.

 

Vanitas: Digging

Written by Opopanax
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May

 

FPSE028 - Vanitas: Digging

 

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

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

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.

FP417 – Doll

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and seventeen.

Flash PulpTonight we present Doll

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Green Light, Red Light

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight we present a tale of modern terror and psychedelic incidents, unfolding, before the astonished eyes of a mother and child, on a Capital City backstreet.

 

Doll

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

 

They were sitting in front of Fas’ Gas & Lotto, and Mom was thinking.

Cassandra knew this because Mom, as she often did, had said, “Mom’s thinking, Doll,” when she’d told her she had to pee.

The eight-year-old was aware she shouldn’t press the issue. Eventually her mother would either remember the question, or the girl would simply wait until a safer stop. She’d mapped out all the best places along the twenty block sprawl that was their nightly stroll.

It was tempting to slip away and ask Phil, the hard faced counter jockey who watched the 24-hour gas station, but Phil had a tendency to be mean to Mom, and, besides, her mother would grump if she were done thinking and didn’t have Cass at hand to soothe her.

Waiting to be dragged along by a flopping Raggedy-Ann arm was Cassandra’s best bet, and she had mastered patience in her long walks.

A blue car drove by. Mrs. Wilkerson pushed her shopping cart towards the south end. Mom thought.

After a time the woman stirred, but Cassandra’s brief prospect for relief was knocked back when her caretaker refilled her glass pipe and leaned away in an unsubtle act of subterfuge. Still, reflected the eight-year-old, at least she wasn’t burrowing in her arm with the unbent tip of a paper clip this evening.

The sight always left the girl quietly upset, however necessary her Mom insisted it was that she dig the gnits out.

Down the block and across the street, a newcomer with braids appeared. She was wearing a black suit. It looked fancy, but not quite a tuxedo. Cassandra had rarely seen anyone so dressed up.

Without thinking, she asked, “isn’t that the lady who asked to take our photo?”

“Mom’s thinking, Doll,” came the reply, and Cass was relieved it wasn’t accompanied by a sharp pinch as a reminder of the importance of silence.

Earlier in the week the stranger had stopped and held up a camera. That too had been a wondrous sight, as the girl had only ever seen people take pictures with their phones. She’d been embarrassed about her eye, though now the bruise was nothing more than a shadow of yellow and green.

“My name is Molly,” the photographer had offered, but she knew Mom had been too busy thinking to remember such a thing. When she was so lost in thought her mother rarely retained any of the conversations they had with passersby.

FP417 - DollThough Cassandra hoped she might again come and say hello, the woman disappeared into the shadows beside the Washeteria laundromat.

For ten minutes the street sat still, the buzz of distant traffic acting as the sole indication that time was passing, then the parade began.

From the Washeteria’s alley, a drummer in a suit not unlike the one she’d thought she’d seen the photographer in, came strutting at full processional pomp – yet his flailing sticks made no noise as they landed upon his snare.

Her jaw wide, Cass turned to her mother, but the woman’s focus was solely for her feet.

The girl knew better than to interrupt her thinking, but she was sorely tempted when the soundless bagpiper followed the drummer’s lead out of the laundromat’s lane way.

This second musician was dressed identically to the first, down to the same rubbery white mask, with unnecessary sunglasses and hairy black chops painted across the cheeks. She was far too young to recognize the metal band leader’s visage, but five more appeared, bumping between with the sidewalks as they held aloft the tail of a yellow and red Chinese dragon.

The hushed shifting of cloth was not enough to rouse her mother.

The beast made as if to catch and eat the mum piper, but, just as its mouth was about to close on the unnoticing performer’s puffing cheeks, a knight stepped from the alley, a mute cheering crowd of peasants behind her.

Cass knew the warrior with the braids cut through the rear of her disguise was a knight, as she wore a plastic breastplate over her suit jacket and carried a toy sword. The serfs, a group of ten distinguishable from the others in duplicate costumes by their corn sacks, flailed their arms in adulation as they trailed their defender.

For a moment Cassandra thought she spotted her own twin within the tumult of the small mob, but then the knight was upon the monster, and it was all the girl could do to not disturb her mother by cheering herself.

The dragon dived, the knight ducked. It swiped it’s tail, she swung her weapon. Plunging her blade deep, the champion slayed the beast’s fabric, and the parade disappeared beyond the corner.

Finally the street went silent, but still Mom observed her toes, thinking.

A hushed hour passed before she sobered up enough to realize her suddenly silent daughter had been replaced with a life-sized doll, accurate down to the gap toothed grin and a blackened right eye. The woman knew nothing of 3D printers, but, if she had, she would have recognized their work in Cassandra’s perfect plastic replica.

It would be dawn before she was sure she wasn’t simply high and hallucinating, and another six months before she could convince Cassandra, and The Achievers who had taken on her guardianship, that her daughter should come home, as she would now treat her like a real girl.

 

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

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

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.

FP373 – Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 2 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and seventy-three.

Flash PulpTonight we present Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 2 of 3
[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp373.mp3]Download MP3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)
(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Way of the Buffalo

 

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, our private investigator, Mulligan Smith, finds himself stretching both his limbs and the truth.

 

Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 2 of 3

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

 

Mulligan finally got lucky during his third yoga class.

The studio was a converted loft apartment overtop a vegan restaurant, with a pass-through kitchen at one end and a bay window, overlooking the pedestrian traffic below, at the other. Though Smith doubted he could afford the habit if he weren’t expensing it, a rainbow of twenty mats were already laid out on the parquet floor as he entered.

The first two sessions had been conducted by a bearded willow tree named Dakota. Dakota was a nice enough fellow, and he’d done a bit to correct Mulligan’s Dolphin pose, but the PI was quite pleased to find him absent that Sunday afternoon.

Still, as the room began to fill with the recorded sounds of flutes and chimes, the investigator again felt the guilt of wasted time. Grandmother Woodward, his client, certainly had the cash to spare – she’d made that clear as they sat through tea in her Victorian style garden – but it frustrated the PI that he couldn’t even claim to be learning anything useful.

Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 2 of 3Years of sitting in the less-than-ergonomic front seat of the Tercel while waiting out errant spouses and insurance frauds had already made Smith a well-practiced pupil. It was not uncommon, in the fifth of a probable ten hour watch, for Mulligan to simply step out of his vehicle and Downward Dog right there on the pavement.

The remorse disappeared at the sight of Victoria Woodward.

She was wearing black leggings and a spaghetti strap top that did nothing to hide the light blue stone of her belly-button piercing.

“Namaste,” she told the class as she took her position at its head.

Suddenly Mulligan’s Dolphin slipped again, and his back refused to stay straight during his Plow. Not so badly that he embarrassed himself, of course, but certainly enough to draw Victoria’s eye.

Finally, after a serene hour of stretching, the session came to a close.

Smiling, Smith walked to the ornate rack of wooden coat hangers, pulled his sweater from its resting place, then approached his newly returned teacher.

“You’ve been away?” he asked.

Briefly biting her lower lip, his client’s daughter – the mother of the supposedly missing toddler, Addison Woodward – replied, “yeah?”

It was hard to remain nervous, however, under the glare of Mulligan’s practiced grin.

“Thanks for your help today,” he continued, “I’d heard you were really good but you haven’t been around the last couple of times I’ve been in.”

“Oh! Yeah, I was at a spa – it was fantastic, just a few days in the country with the trees and the birds and nothing to worry about, you know?”

Mulligan nodded and did his best to ignore the way her tone seemed to be trying to convince him of the truth of her words, but, before he could respond, she changed the subject.

“You said someone recommended me? Who?”

Smith’s hunch had come to him the previous evening, as he’d picked apart a Denny’s club sandwich. He’d spread three photos of the yoga instructor on the booth’s tabletop, alongside a column of website printouts. The photos were from the first day of his investigation, after which Victoria had immediately disappeared.

Though they’d provided no hint as to her location, her social media profiles had made it clear that she considered her yoga class as more than a job, so he’d known where to wait for her return.

His search had also uncovered something he found considerably more troubling, however.

It had started with postings about GMO wheat crammed between videos demonstrating proper pose posture, but, the further the detective scrolled, the deeper the well grew. Items began to crop up in her feed about black site prisons, about the dangers of vaccines, about the fascism of the American state.

He’d had to back away from his keyboard when, two status updates below a photo of baby Addison, he’d stumbled across a diatribe written by Victoria that began, “The conmen that make up the scientific community…” and had continued on for twelve more paragraphs.

Was it pleasant? No, but plenty of people were a parent and unpleasant at the same time.

So where was the child? Probably with a babysitter, as the mother had always claimed.

Yet, later, as he’d drained his milkshake and buried the photos beneath his mute father’s notes from the press conference – Smith always filed his observations, just in case – his half-formed suspicion had grown into a no-you’re-just-being-paranoid hypothesis.

Now, with a conscious effort to keep his friendly smirk in place, Mulligan filled his nose with the thick smell of freshly lit incense and played his hunch.

“Posey Cotton,” he answered.

The senior Smith had called in some favours still owed to the former police sergeant, but no one in the beehive of activity surrounding the Cotton baby’s case could draw any connections between Victoria and the missing child’s mother.

Mulligan caught the hesitation in the yogi’s response, and noted the briefest tug at her left cheek.

Suddenly he was sure he wasn’t wasting Grandma’s time at all.

“Poor Posey,” replied Victoria, “that whole thing is just so sad.”

“I know, right?” answered Mulligan as he tugged at his sweater’s zipper. “Anyhow – gotta see a sorcerer about my chakras and all that.”

Smith’s feet carried him to the stairwell at such a pace that he nearly forgot to call out a “namaste” as he departed.

He had an appointment to make.

 

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

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

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.

FP372 – Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 1 of 3

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

Flash PulpTonight we present Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 1 of 3
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This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Way of the Buffalo

 

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, Mulligan Smith, PI, finds himself contemplating a possible kidnapping while standing on the warm pavement of a Walmart parking lot.

 

Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 1 of 3

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

 

Mulligan stood to the left of the scrum of reporters, his cabbie-capped father beside him and a sad imitation of coffee in his hand.

A gull wheeled overhead, riding the gentle breeze to hover above the cluster of dress-uniformed policemen on the far side of the wooden platform, and Smith wondered for the third time if this Snipe hunt was ever going to get underway.

With a look of mourning, he tossed the barely cooled cup onto an already congested trashcan.

His father already had a response scrawled out across a thin white sheet of notepad paper, “it may have been complimentary, but it’s hard to be complimentary,” but the PI replied only with a groaning chuckle and a shake of his head.

The knot of deep blue began to breakup, reforming to face the crowd and revealing a petite woman of perhaps twenty-nine. Posey Cotton’s blond curls wavered gently at the edge of her knitted beanie, and her tears ran clear to the black cloth of her dress and leggings.

Stepping onto the makeshift stage that had, until recently, been a gardening display, Commissioner Ender approached the bristling collection of extended arms.

Mulligan Smith in Taken, Part 1 of 3“Mrs. Cotton would like to make a plea directly to the public,” Ender told the mics, “but I ask that you hold your questions. Clearly it’s been a rough two hours.”

An intern from the Capital City Star shot a garbled inquiry from the back of the crowd, but the Commissioner’s stare, and the grumbling of his fellow journalists, brought him to silence.

Taking the hush as acceptance of his terms, Ender stepped away and allowed the grieving mother to come to the forefront.

Dabbing at her eyes, Posey took a deep breath and began.

“I don’t know why, two hours ago, you stole my angel from my Escalade. I turned for a second, and you snatched her. You must see how special she is, though – please, please don’t hurt her. You can still make this right. I promise I won’t be mad if you just let her go.

“Kinney, if you’re watching this, know that Mama loves you. Everything’s going to be okay.”

Having delivered her clearly rehearsed piece, Cotton unleashed a broken squeal then began to weep.

The sobbing struck Mulligan as honest enough, but there was something about the delivery that had left a whispering in the PI’s ear.

Still, he wasn’t convinced it was related to his case. He was looking for a toddler, sure, but it hadn’t been snatched as far as he knew – at least, not according to anyone but the Grandmother who’d hired him. He felt a little bad about working a case that seemed like little more than an expensive way to get some baby photos, but the bills weren’t going to pay themselves.

Mulligan’s train of thought was interrupted by the landing of another sheet of paper in his palm.

It read, “She looks dressed for the camera.”

Raising a brow at the chunky gold pendant on the end of her long chain, her coiffed hair, and her somber but well put together silhouette, the junior Smith had to give his elder’s ex-cop eye its due. It was all the push his imagination needed to understand what the whisper in his ear was trying to say.

“Yeah,” he replied, “she doesn’t look like a Walmart shopper, she’s looks like the kind of Whole Foods yuppy who thinks Walmart is where infants get grabbed.

“I see some blush, some concealer – but no mascara, huh? She’s not just dressed for the camera, she’s dressed to cry.”

No longer willing to finish the conversation, the Smiths turned from the Commissioner, now fielding questions, and returned to the PI’s rust-spotted Tercel.

The detective wasn’t convinced the two incidents were related, but he was uncomfortably sure this newest missing child wouldn’t be found alive.

 

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

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

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.

FP371 – Ruby: The Lone Gunman

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

Flash PulpTonight we present Ruby: The Lone Gunman, Part 1 of 1
[audio:http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulp371.mp3]Download MP3

(RSS / iTunes)

 

This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Way of the Buffalo

 

Flash Pulp is an experiment in broadcasting fresh pulp stories in the modern age – three to ten minutes of fiction brought to you Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Tonight, Ruby must deal with both the hungry mouths of the horde and the feverish thoughts of a rugged individual.

 

Ruby Departed: The Lone Gunman

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

 

Ruby Departed: A Zombie Fiction Podcast

 

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

Intro and outro work provided by Jay Langejans of The New Fiction Writers podcast.

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.