Tag Archives: plague

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.

FP410 – The Murder Plague: Recoil

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and ten.

Flash PulpTonight we present The Murder Plague: Recoil

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by The Forum

 

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 attempt to survive another encounter on the streets of Capital City alongside our hero, Harm Carter, a victim of the homicidal paranoia that infects the city’s inhabitants.

 

The Murder Plague: Recoil

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

 

Let’s talk, for a moment, about gunfights – and, more specifically, about gunfights at a time when a solid portion of the population has been infected in such a way as to think they’re the new Gary Cooper in town.

In my more adventurous years, as a young man on foreign soil, I’d occasionally found myself firing the rifles Uncle Sam kept handing me. I have never been a master shot, but, honestly, the technique we employed in dispensing ammunition across the countryside was often more a matter of statistics than precision.

All that to say: Even before Hitchcock’s disease convinced every grandmother to hide a revolver in her purse and every Saturday hunter that he should find a bell tower to climb, I’d already survived the lottery that is the high-velocity exchange of projectiles on more than one occasion.

Even then, I recall, a week or two into my own madness, encountering a darkened baseball diamond. Nothing overwrought, just a neighourhood lot with a chain-link backstop, two benches, a plywood concession stand, and a playground set off to the side to keep the local softball team’s kids entertained while they were swinging bats.

A cargo truck had been stationed in the outfield, and a tall-legged canvas tent had collapsed onto second base. Bottles of water waited on open palettes, and a stack of folding chairs sat, un-deployed, not far from the vehicle.

The scene rang of an aborted attempt at a governmental emergency response. Perhaps they’d tried setting up an evacuation point – I couldn’t tell what had happened to disappear all involved, but there was definitely a feeling as if the hulking rig had been vacated with haste, like a landlocked Mary Celeste.

Flash Pulp's The Murder Plague: A Science Fiction Fantasy PodcastIn search of supplies, I’d been crawling along the garden path between a two-car garage and a bungalow that’d had every one of its windows thoroughly shattered. I remember thinking the fluttering of the lace curtains blown through the living room’s missing bay window quite beautiful as I sat watching for any movement in, or across from, the park.

Feeding yourself when all is paranoia is a tricky matter. I’d spent the previous weeks stepping into booby traps, and there was no greater bait than the rations I suspected were abandoned to the feral grass.

Still, my stomach’s rumbling was a persuasive counter-argument, so the debate lasted a surprising while.

An hour into my vigil a cloud bank fought the moon for dominance of the sky, and my brain chemistry shifted from wait to run. Stooping low, I sprinted, full-tilt, from my location to the shelter of the metal bumpers lining the diamond’s car-less gravel lot, then along the wooden outfield fence and into the relief camp’s shadow.

From that distance I could see more signs of sudden passage – papers spread around the disordered turf and medical paraphernalia toppled near the thick rubber tires – but I could also make out the flat brown packaging that indicated a stack of MREs in the rear of the flatbed.

Things were going really well until I stepped onto the back of the truck.

The two-story houses on the far side of home plate all looked to have been picked from the same catalogue. Most were undamaged, and each one sported equally dark windows and closed garages at the end of paved driveways.

From the second floor of the third home from the right, however, a blinking light of death took to looking for me. Someone was waving a silenced automatic weapon in my direction.

Muzzle flash wasn’t my only sign of danger, though: The exploding bottles of water to my right were also a pretty good indication. I went over the truck’s side backwards, like a Navy diver enters the drink, but I landed like a drunken albatross in high wind.

Yet there was no chance to complain about my injured spine, as the winking flare was already busy conducting heavy duty body-work on the Army’s chariot.

Now, I wasn’t without my own means, but I was as well off chucking rocks at that distance as I was using a pistol. That did not stop me, however, from pulling my automatic from its pocket and making the first noises of the night.

At the least, I figured some excitement in the shooter’s direction would do little to steady their aim.

While throwing away my bullets, I ran. I hustled past the guest team’s bench, the surface splintering under the flicker, and made a dive for the concession stand.

There was definitely a proper door to the shack, but it was around back and I didn’t have the time. Instead, I plunged head long into the large hinged flap that would normally be pinned up to indicate the stand was open for business, hoping all the while that it wasn’t locked.

It was definitely locked.

The panic in my feet was such, though, that it didn’t really matter. The spinning slats of wood they rotated into place to hold the sheet down snapped under my impact, and the hatch gave way far enough to deposit me firmly on the cement slab that made up the floor.

There were two people already sheltering inside.

The man was maybe twenty-five. His hair had been close-cropped at some point, but it’d been quite a while since he’d seen a razor. He was dressed in jeans and a dark blue t-shirt, but I could have easily pictured him in a uniform before the collapse set in. She was maybe eighteen, wearing black stretch pants, a thick gray sweater, and a ponytail that seemed to bounce in defiance of the misery around her.

When I think on that moment I’m always slightly relieved I didn’t kill them, but, honestly, if I hadn’t emptied my weapon ahead of my arrival I’d likely have done exactly what the disease insisted.

They ran then, out the door I hadn’t used. There was a half eaten sandwich on the ground, a small guttering candle, and a harness with three grenades strung across it.

I didn’t wonder, then, how the pair had managed to stick together without murdering each other. I did wonder how anyone could possibly forget such useful equipment when departing, but I was too far distant from ordinary human perspective to understand that sort of surprise anymore.

Whatever the case, I stopped consideration of the matter twenty feet into their escape, when the fellow’s head blossomed three red stitches.

The woman did not pause, but she did scream as she doubled her speed and disappeared between a white Escalade and a maroon Mini Cooper across the way.

There must have been more twinkling from the second floor rifleman, as the SUV’s rear window shattered, but the block settled into silence once the runner was safely in the shadows.

I was left to wait and consider.

It’s hard to know where my will to survive stopped and the disease began. I obsessed about the grenades – how I might use them to defeat the deadly light blinking in the distance – but, the truth was, there was no hope I could cover the ground and remain free of some copper and lead marbling. My logical mind won that argument at least.

My brain worked every corner, rattling every scrap of material I had at hand, but there’s the reality of combat in a nutshell: It’s good to be fast, and it’s good to be accurate, but it’s not always enough.

In the end the madness decided on making a run for the truck. I can see now that I would have been just as dead as the t-shirted lad no further than ten yards from my shelter, but there was a strange commonality between the Murder Plague and being a contestant on Jeopardy. Tension makes the solution harder to see, and there is a constant need to do something. Sometimes that meant anything.

Loading another clip into my marble thrower, I did my best to steady my hand, and stood.

As I’ve said, there’s too much randomness in a firefight for my liking, but there are some rules that seem to hold. One is that chucking bullets will lead to bullets being chucked back at you. This scales all the way from a small bank robbery to the invasion of a Middle Eastern nation. If you’re going to do unto others you either have to massacre them all or accept the same kindness.

Even as I pulled back the hatch and let fly with my peashooter, the blinking became a brief nova, then portions of shredded flower-print curtain and beige house-siding began to rain across the lawn.

Deciding that was the perfect time to shop, I beelined to the brown bags, grabbed a double armful, and made for the same garden path that’d brought me there.

I’m glad I never came across the girl again. I suspect – no, I believe – that she acted out of revenge, meaning she wasn’t sick but a simple, angry, innocent. I’m also not sure I would have survived a second encounter: Even sane she’d thought to do what her lover hadn’t, bring some grenades.

 

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.

FP406 – The Blue Mask

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and six.

Flash PulpTonight we present The Blue Mask

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This week’s episodes are brought to you by Pop Mockers

 

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 find ourselves visitors to the shores of the Island of Corosia, and walk among the contagions that rage across it.

 

The Blue Mask

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

 

The island nation of Corosia supported two cities of size and a dozen hamlets yet unconsumed by the urban march. To its many passers-through there was a familiarity about the nation that had been carried to its shores in the suitcases of beach-bound tourists and over the satellite signals pirated by its inhabitants. It was in the cut of the military uniforms worn at checkpoints and by billboard-displayed leaders; it was in the brightly coloured t-shirts worn by the nation’s teenagers; it was in the chords and rhythms of the music leaking from open-windowed vehicles and kitchen radios.

The beauty of the spot, mixed with its location along the tradewinds, had left it a thick history of exposure to the shifting tide of inquisitive outsiders. Many gods had once swept ashore, then many prophets, then, finally, those mock deities broadcast to the heavens from studios abroad.

Yet, in spite of this familiarity, or perhaps because of it, there was also a deeply ingrained skepticism to Corosian society.

There were few who would not lend a traveller a ride along the isle’s dusty roads, but all would be sure to later joke that they’d checked afterwards that the stranger hadn’t stolen the seat.

Still, the Corosians were as upset as the rest of the world at the televised collapse of the town of Harthomas, Pennsylvania.

Every Western news network shifted its unsleeping gaze to the events in Harthomas, and legends regarding the misinformation in those transmissions would spring up almost as quickly as the arrival of commercial breaks. For forty-eight hours the world observed the quarantined population of ten thousand collapse into madness even as their government raced for a cure.

The footage of weeping faces and inexplicable undertakings was only interrupted by the occasional newsdesk rebuttal to federal suggestions to discontinue broadcasting. Whatever say in the matter the powers in question held, answered the blazer wearing anchors, they had lost it when they’d allowed the virus to escape a research laboratory just south of Pittsburgh.

So viewers watched while packs of wailing children swept through the streets of Harthomas, their arms raised in trembling need of a hug, and as a suddenly famous hard-faced bank teller led them on an extended, if eventually futile, chase. They watched as lovers held each other tightly for hours, their tears staining each other’s shoulder, until, without warning to the patrolling news drones above, they cast themselves down from rooftops and balconies. They watched as crowds of fifteen and twenty would wrap their arms about each other in solace-seeking knots, their chests heaving with their tears, until dehydration and exposure would take them, though their corpses were held in place until the weight of the decaying human web simply became too much for those few fatigued mourners who remained.

The Blue MaskThe Melancholy, as it came to be called, was thus well known to the Corosians – although, as the coverage spread into rumours that cases of infection had carried beyond the perimeter of the quarantine, the isle’s inhabitants took some comfort, in the thankful moments of their kitchen table prayers, that there was an ocean between their families and the troubles.

As the threat crept, on aircraft wings and on the decks of fishing boats, ever closer along the chain of islands that flanked their home, deception also slipped into their ears.

Their leaders began to appear before crowds and microphones to declare the illness a conspiracy, a tactic of the greed-stricken developers who had long lusted for their pristine coasts and unending sunshine. Just that week, they declared, they had turned back offers to have the men and women in their thick rubber suits arrive and lay out their needles and tents supposedly intended to heal. With great confidence the khaki-garbed rulers scoffed, pointing out that it was only upon such invasions that their neighbours had even begun to grow sick.

Truly, they said, such ministrations carried sickness, not the cure.

This version of reality gave succor to many, but there were some who doubted.

One such, a physician of some renown who had gathered knowledge from many lands before settling in the place of her birth, was known to publicly ask, “what of the terrible images they’d seen from the heart of the persecutors’ own lands?”

“It is said their black arts can tailor plagues to any need. Obviously a controlled release is simply a tactic to make them appear free of guilt as they steal what they could not buy,” came the response. “If they were willing to do such things to their own people, what mercy would they have for those they wished to unseat?”

The physician was told to hold her tongue.

Divine appeals continued. Rites were planned. Breath was held.

It was not long before any who might be considered tainted by distant infection, visitor or resident alike, were expelled or sent into hiding; be they at hand to help the impoverished at the island’s core, or simply to enjoy the sands along its edges.

Faith became central. In some quarters forgotten gods were resurrected and invoked. Offerings were left upon shop stoops and in the entranceways of homes. Smiling faces in costly suits declared a cure had arrived, but the images from but a few shores away made salvation seem no closer than the newscasters themselves.

Soon the Corosians turned to the traditions that had been handed to them from grandparent to parent.

A night of ceremonies was planned – masquerades of a sort, a culturally ingrained ritual of prayer and pleas for celestial amnesty.

Little could they have known that the infection had been carried into their midst – even as they donned garb in every shade and moved through the customs of dance and religious observance – by fisher folk who’d secreted cousins from the nearby danger, and by smugglers too destitute to give up the opportunity of providing much needed supplies to their beleaguered neighbours.

Nor did the Corosians realize that they themselves then spread the contagion through their sacramental sweat, consoling embraces, and profured handshakes.

On the soft beaches of a half-dozen villages countenances of red, yellow, and green hoped for safety, their exhortations aimed to move a power they thought greater than their own, but, as masked faces, both angelic and demonic, mingled in the shadow of the mountain that marked Corosia’s heart, the most important fact among their missing knowledge was the identity behind the soft-smirk of a sole blue mask roaming the islands eastern edge.

Years later it would be realized that it was their own daughter behind the cerulean visage – the very physician who had warned against isolation. Yet, she was twice as infectious as any other. With every flung droplet of sweat, with every passing brush of exposed flesh, she spread a sickness of her own design, her advanced craft having allowed her to engineer a curative epidemic so furious it would eventually wipe clean the plague of irrationality already incubating in the population.

For that evening, however, the mask simply grinned.

 

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.