Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode three hundred and ninety-one.
This week’s episodes are brought to you by Bothersome Things!
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 roommate and apprentice, find themselves rudely rebutted by a nymph.
Coffin: Weakness, Part 6 of 6
Written by J.R.D. Skinner
Art and Narration by Opopanax
and Audio produced by Jessica May
Anger, Will reflected, is supposed to be a young man’s game. No one takes a punk band over fifty seriously, and most aren’t interested in seeing two grandfathers beat each other bloody in a boxing ring – well, more than once.
Yet, here at the edge of Lake Clark, with his boots wet and his eyes grimy from too much worry and too little sleep, Coffin was decidedly angry.
Though he’d tried to convince himself it was having to depend on the pretentious owl to locate Jenny Greenteeth that was the source of his unrest, being so far from home had brought Will to finally admit, at least to himself, that it was the notion that his homicidal dead wife might suddenly be washed away like the spirits of the four drowned cadavers that had him agitated.
The moment of truth did little to better his mood.
Neither did the nymph’s reaction to his demand to surrender.
Her tiny form had surfaced readily enough, but so distant from the shore as to be nothing more than a speck on the horizon.
Jenny’s words had traveled well, however: “Gobble a chode you bloody Tin Star!”
It was also fairly easy to guess which fingers she was waving.
Coffin started to chuckle, and he recognized it as the same dry rattle Sandy had taken on before the end.
He shrugged it off and reached into the black leather satchel slung at his side.
Within lay a jeweled baton, atop which, to his apprentice’s eye, rode a tiny blizzard. The storm seemed held in place by several bands of gold laid across the clouds and snow in thin ribbons.
A flick of the wrist brought a point to the occult tool, its base extending suddenly to the form a staff.
From over his left shoulder, Bunny asked, “what in the Go-Go-Gadget #### is that?”
“The Winter Scepter,” replied Will. “As far as artifacts go, this is actually a fairly recent ancient one. The telescoping does nothing but make it more portable, and it’s just clever metalworking, nothing mystical.
”Watch this though.”
With a firm grip he pinned the water’s edge to the sand below, and the reaction was immediate.
A wave of ice moving at a sprinting dog’s pace began to roll across the surface, and even as practiced a swimmer as Jenny could not outrun its frigid clench.
It was a ten minute walk to the spot at which the nymph waited, her left arm aloft, mid-breaststroke.
“Shoulda brought some ###damn skates,” said Bunny.
Knowing full-well that her song would do nothing against Will’s defenses, Jenny replied, “taste Tartarus, frails.”
There was the rage again, crawling up Coffin’s back and pulling his belly tight. His boot heel twisted in the snow and his fingers dug deeply into his pockets.
Instead of a roar, however, his mouth formed the words, “I’m sorry.”
Both women raised a brow in surprise, but he continued.
“Given your history, trapping you tightly like this isn’t exactly something I’m excited about. I’m not saying you’re justified, but I understand your vendetta.”
The algae upon her chin had begun to frost as Jenny replied, “are you giving a ‘this is going to hurt me more than it is you’ speech? Because it seems easy to be remorseful about how delicious the fish in your net are, and, after the last job I did for him, I’m sure the owl has no more patience for keeping me around.
“Frankly, I would’ve rathered he did it himself, but, that’s never been that dainty fop’s style, so I’ve been left to die at the hands of lice.”
“Actually,” said Coffin, as he leaned low into her vision, “what I do next is going to depend very much on how you answer this question: Were you responsible for the disposal of the phantoms on behalf of the Kar’Wickians, and, if so, how?”
It was the first time Jenny had been in proximity of a non-drowning mundane human in hundreds of years, and she found she missed the other stupid faces the mortals made.
“No, I’d love to drive you mad and claim I made them disappear, but really the spider children’s representative simply passed on that Abe and Tina would ‘clean things up.’”
Standing, Coffin began to stride towards the distant rental car, but stopped to repeat himself.
“I really am sorry.”
Wonder had made the gathered emissaries careless, and it was clear even before he reached the shore that the treeline was brimming with wildlife come to witness his actions – which is why, when Wide Eye confronted him on the beach, the avian lord whispered.
“You let her live!?” he demanded, his four wings in constant motion.
Coffin shrugged. “You were so insistent that the last one was yours to deal with, I figured I’d leave you the pleasure. You’ve got about three minutes before the ice transmutes back to water.”
To Will’s mind the owl, as much as the bird hated acting publicly, could try his luck with Jenny Greenteeth: There were no more questions of secret rituals or unknown magicks or an arcane plague – the shaman finally had names to blame for the spectral disappearances, and now the hunt could truly begin.
He found himself whistling.
Flash Pulp is presented by https://www.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.
Coffin’s theme is Quinn’s Song: A New Man, by Kevin MacLeod of http://incompetech.com/
Text and audio commentaries can be sent to email@example.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.