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FP435 – Coffin: Wrong Tree

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

Flash PulpTonight we present Coffin: Wrong Tree

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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, Will Coffin, urban shaman, and Bunny, his recovering-alcoholic apprentice, must pay a call to a hairy situation in a suburban home.

 

Coffin: Wrong Tree

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

 

It was dusk as they arrived at the faux chateau surrounded by its moat of perfectly squared hedges.

“You know, it’s in these Leave it to Beaver houses that poor motherf#ckers such as ourselves get themselves murdered,” said Bunny.

“Maybe, but they offered cash and rent will soon be due,” replied Will. He gave the doorbell a second stab, but this time he left his finger on the button.

The entrance swung wide, and a tall man with a head full of tight black curls stared down at them from across the threshold.

“Yes?”

His gaze shifted from Bunny’s ragged jeans and denim coat to the Coffin’s thick leather jacket.

“We’re here about your son,” replied Will.

“I -” started the man, but he seemed to think better of it. His eyes had fallen upon a button pinned to the apprentice’s chest that read, “Make tacos, not war – unless someone tries to take your tacos.”

She was not unfamiliar with the conclusions such suburbanites might likely jump to, however.

“Yeah, yeah,” she said, “my friend looks like one of the kids from Grease fell into a bad horse habit and I look like I was rejected from a Whitesnake video twenty years ago and just couldn’t f#ckin’ let it go – but, what, did you expect a couple ###holes in velvet-robes? You figure that hobbit-fondler Gandalf is gonna tap at the door and blow you some goddamn smoke rings?

“Open up and let us in before your kid starts making the local sheep wranglers and burgermeisters nervous.”

Will winced at the delivery, but it seemed to be an alien enough reaction to convince the man that they were the mystics in question.

He stepped aside, saying, “I’m Martin.”

The front hall contained a tasteful selection of vases, filled with dried plants, and large nature photos, whose frames spoke of false age and a love of Pottery Barn.

They found the boy at a broad mahogany dining room table. His mother sat to his left, her lips tight, and, assuming no one sits that close otherwise, Bunny guessed the pushed-back chair to his right meant they’d interrupted a tense family conversation.

“Jackson,” said the father, “this is Will and Bunny. They clai- uh, they’re here to help you.”

Before the eighteen-year-old might reply, his mother extended a dry hand across the vast polished surface.

“Anita,” she said.

The coaxing kick she delivered to her son’s ankle, though well below the depths of the table’s surface, was hardly subtle, and the teen rose to repeat the round of palm grabbing.

“Thank you for coming, but I don’t-” began Jackson, until a second, firmer, kick landed.

As Martin retook his position flanking his son, Anita dug into the matter.

“We realized a month ago. I’ve been to every library and spent hours on Google, yet – well, there’s a lot of superstition and junk science, but no answers.”

Though Martin motioned towards a chair, neither the shaman nor his companion chose to sit.

“You say you realized a month ago, how long has it been going on?” Will asked Jackson.

“Apparently it’s happened six times,” replied Anita.

Bunny frowned.

Coffin raised a brow at the youth.

“Half a year? That’s quite a while to wait before seeking help?”

“So far he’s -” began Martin, and Bunny laughed.

“Stop interrupting like he’s f#cking Taylor Swift,” she said. “No wonder you had no clue until recently, kid probably didn’t want to open his mouth in case he caught some of the bullsh#t flyin’ through the air in his teeth.”

Anita and Martin sat, bolt upright, but Coffin could only shrug. He wanted to get paid, but also wanted to do it in a timely fashion.

It was Jackson who broke the silence.

“I need to show you something in my room,” he said, and, without making eye contact, or awaiting parental approval, he headed up the stairs. Anita and Martin moved to also stand, but Coffin shook his head twice and retrieved a long silver chain from his pocket. An intricate hook that looped and wound in on itself hung from its tail, and trapped upon the intricate curve was a plug of glistening meat.

FP435 - Coffin: Wrong TreeThough Will had no intention of using the arcane artifact, its off-putting appearance was enough to convince the parents to remain in place while Coffin and Bunny followed the slouching ascent.

At the top of the flight they took a left and entered a dustless room filled with evenly-hung posters.

The Coffin was formulating an attempt at a fresh start to the conversation when his eyes took in the chamber’s true nature.

Here was a poster of a fuzzy blue hedgehog hugging a rather well-muscled anthropomorphic lion, and next to it a hand-sketched image of a reclining bipedal fox.

Before either the mystic or his student could comment, the room’s owner’s voice landed as a mix of plea and anger.

“I don’t see what the problem is, I feed myself every time – I even learned to bake my own honeyed ham! – and I’ve never hurt anyone, why can’t they – why don’t you just leave me alone?”

Will’s eyes narrowed. “You’re pretty lucid under the influence? You’re sure you’ve got yourself under control?”

“Yeah.”

“Must be the Grecian strain.” replied the Coffin, his voice distant.

“Have you told them why it happened?” asked his apprentice.

“No,” answered Jackson. “They don’t want to hear it anyway. They just want the problem to go away.”

Bunny snorted. “Even if we yank your tail off the truth is you don’t need a f#ckin’ exorcist, kid, you need a family counselor.”

“You know,” said the shaman, his jacket creaking as he settled onto the nearest corner of the firmly-made bed, “folks with, uh, your sorts of interests are really the vestigial remnants of an ancient age. There was a time when the gods themselves, bunch of sex maniacs that they were, would come down in the form of goats or swans or bulls just to rut – and no one thought twice. Now they call you a furry, but back then they’d have signed you up for an obscure, but respected, holy order.

“I’ll make you a deal: Give me the name of whoever infected you with your lycanthropy and I’ll come around every full moon to ‘bring you to a safe place.’ Just don’t tell your parents that I’m dropping you off at a private club across town called The Fur Ball, and be sure to wear proper protection – oh, and that my monthly bill gets paid on time.”

 

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.

CCR13 – Creature from the Haunted Sea

CCR13 - Creature from the Haunted Sea

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Your hosts, Hugh of Way of the Buffalo, Rich the Time Traveler, Opopanax, and Jurd, have gathered this evening to consider 1961’s Creature from the Haunted Sea!

Haven’t seen the flick yet? Here you go!



Chrononaut Cinema Reviews is presented by http://skinner.fm and Way of the Buffalo, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

NtS007 – The Temple

NtS007 - The Temple

Some disordered thoughts on the recent “theater incidents”

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FP430 – The Irregular Division: Hostilities, Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and thirty.

Flash PulpTonight we present The Irregular Division: Hostilities, Part 1 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, the Irregular Division find themselves landing in a very changed British forest.

 

The Irregular Division: Hostilities, Part 1 of 3

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

 

February, Year One
Source: Presentation to Working Group Alpha
Presenter: Head

[…]

Ever been at 35,000 feet and have someone punch out your pilot?

Fine, smartass spec ops guy at the back of the room, ever been at 35,000 feet and have someone punch your pilot completely out of your transport?

It was the old “I leave you now – TO YOUR DOOM” scenario, and Ms. Atlas was having about -10% of that bullshit.

In fact, I believe the fellow in question, apparently a Kar’Wickian turncoat, was about halfway through his dialogue when she said “You announced you were leaving, so fucking LEAVE,” and then she hit him.

Now, listen, I’ve been in situations where an unexpected punch is thrown. I’ve been in locations where “and then he hit him” was not an out of place option. You’re sitting in a bar, the guy five stools down is mouthing off, the fella whose wife he’s making fun of turns around, boom.

There’s usually some blood, maybe a broken pint glass, maybe some apologies to the barkeep if you’ve made a mess.

When I say “and then she hit him,” I don’t mean he fell to the floor and groped for his missing teeth, I mean it was like watching a Dodge Ram with a novelty fist strapped to its fender slam into someone. His body passed cleanly through the skin of our admittedly fragile high-altitude insertion vehicle, and I doubt he was in any condition to pull his ripcord on the way down.

In instances like that I like to remain cool and calm, I like to deliver a witty one-liner and perhaps sip on an extremely dry martini.

There was no booze service on the flight, but I do believe I managed to utter the line, “holy fuckity fucking fuck.”

The Irregular Division: Hostilities, a futuristic podcast with a certain heroic flavourNow, have you ever seen a largely cybernetic She-Hulk gracefully touch down an injured craft as if a sparrow alighting on a willow branch while dawn’s gentle tendrils crest the horizon?

Me either, because she grabbed the controls and dropped us to five hundred feet at such a high rate of acceleration I thought the tail section was still a good half-mile above us.

I remember her laughing and laughing while the wind howled through the Wile E. Coyote hole in the wall.

Betrayal, as it turns out, is extremely low on Atlas’ list of preferred daily events, and I could tell she wasn’t in the greatest mood as the wingtips grew closer to the grasping trees of Sherwood Forest. We’d picked up a lot of speed from our sudden descent and the titanium skeleton was shivering in the clutches of that much g-force.

Then as quickly as our pilot had gone truly airborne, we came across the target site. Abruptly the windshield was full of stars, and I swore I could feel the frame giving out under the pressure, which was kind of okay with me as we were just as abruptly staring at the ground – then we were on it, skidding through frozen dirt and tufts of snow.

Atlas didn’t bother to use the door – hell, she didn’t even bother opening the tub full of expensive firearms we’d been supplied.

Some poor murderous schmuck came up to the hole, AK-47 poking in like a curious dog’s nose, and then there was no more schmuck, there was only Atlas, and, like a magic trick, it was suddenly HER AK-47.

Yes, I’d say that’s when the shit really hit the fan.

 

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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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.

CCR008 – Bloodlust!

CCR8 - Bloodlust!

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[CCR Feed: RSS/iTunes | Skinner Co.: RSS/iTunes]

Your hosts, Hugh of Way of the Buffalo, Rich the Time Traveler, Opopanax, and Jurd, have gathered this evening to consider 1959’s Bloodlust!

Haven’t seen the flick yet? Here you go!



Chrononaut Cinema Reviews is presented by http://skinner.fm and Way of the Buffalo, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

CCR007 – Black Dragons

CCR7 - Black Dragons

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Your hosts, Hugh of Way of the Buffalo, Rich the Time Traveler, Opopanax, and Jurd, have gathered this evening to consider 1942’s Black Dragons, starring Bela Lugosi

Haven’t seen the flick yet? Here you go!



Chrononaut Cinema Reviews is presented by http://skinner.fm and Way of the Buffalo, and is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 Unported License.

FP420 – Mulligan Smith in Inheritance, Part 3 of 3

Welcome to Flash Pulp, episode four hundred and twenty.

Flash PulpTonight we present Mulligan Smith in Inheritance, Part 3 of 3
(Part 1Part 2Part 3)

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

 

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 watch a torch pass as we honour our fallen dead.

 

Sgt. Smith and Son in Inheritance, Part 3 of 3

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

 

Mulligan Smith sat, in the clean-floored apartment he’d rented since moving from his parent’s home nearly twenty years previous, thinking about his dead father and the word ‘Pentel.’

He was shaking.

It had been twelve hours since he’d learned of the murder, and no more than fifteen since the knife had found the old man’s belly. A hush-toned phone call from a friend on the force, who’d been summoned to the scene, had delivered the news.

Smith had seen his father just that morning – had, in fact, lent him his cellphone after a sudden appearance in the Denny’s at which the private investigator had been conducting a meeting with a suspicious husband.

Mulligan was no stranger to loss, but the weight of not knowing who was responsible – not even having a loose end onto which to grab and unravel the mystery – clutched at his lungs and spine like a stone gargoyle.

Twelve hours and he was no closer to an answer. “Pentel” was all he had.

Sitting on the loveseat that acted as his living room’s only furniture, Mulligan again scanned the rows of filing cabinets aligned against the walls. Over half of the boxy metal shelves contained his father’s notes, assembled by date across a lifetime together. The others overflowed with archives kept from previous jobs, and receipts filed away for tax purposes.

Despite Mulligan’s searching gaze, none seemed to hold any answers.

He knew too well that the city was full of blades eager to trade a petty death for a wallet, but the only thing that had been missing at the scene was Mulligan’s own phone. The uniforms on duty hadn’t even known to look for it until he’d mentioned the device.

The PI had immediately set about running down the short list of former acquaintances and enemies who might bear a grudge at an old arrest, but the sergeant had retired so long ago that most had either died, given up on vengeance, or were never likely to cease rotting in jail.

He had held a brief interview with Bobby Sweet, the most recent to be released from prison.

Mulligan had ambushed him while Sweet was hassling his roommates for cigarettes on his halfway house’s stoop.

“The ornery mute who put you under all three times is dead,” Smith had opened.

The Sweets had a legendary history of felonies and public offenses – many unknown, some nothing more than myth – and the sergeant was as mixed into it as any who’d survived the Capital City police force for decades.

“Oh yeah, that’s a goddamn shame,” said Sweet, and Mulligan had nearly lept the trio of steps between them before his brain took the time to process the comment and realized the aging con actually meant it.

Mulligan SmithAnnoyance at his own lack of control had been enough to push the detective back into his Tercel, where he’d sat gripping the wheel for a good five minutes, not sure if he would scream or tear up.

He’d done a little of both on the drive to his father’s home.

There’d been nothing at the square kitchen table but silence, yet Mulligan had remained, absorbing the emptiness of the place.

It had come to him then in small pieces – something slightly askew: His mother’s always dusted and replaced collection of salt and pepper shakers appeared turned slightly inward; the cupboard drawers not quite as flush as the old sergeant had been sure to close them; even the worn rugs seemed out of line with the pattern on the linoleum he’d once enacted his toy car chases upon.

Maybe it was just his imagination, Mulligan had thought, or maybe someone had come to search the house while trying to make it appear as if they hadn’t.

Smith’s own ensuing three-hour-long hunt turned up nothing but frustration. He’d been on his way to the door, exhausted and pulling his black hoodie over his collapsed shoulders, when he’d reached for the ancient family photo that had eternally adorned the wall next to the entrance. Here was the last time Ma, Pa, and child had smiled together on film.

A slip of paper had fallen from behind the frame, the handwriting immediately obvious as his father’s own.

“Pentel” was all it said.

As he’d done with every other scrap his father’s pen had touched, Mulligan had carried it home for filing. He’d never considered where he’d picked up the habit.

Now, staring at the photograph he’d relocated to the top of his gray steel filing cabinets – it’s placement marking it as one of the few ornaments to adorn the white walled apartment – Mulligan despaired at what he’d lost, and what he would never learn.

The old man had been his best friend in many ways, but there was so little he’d truly known about the figure who’d raised him. He’d read the work tales, sure, but who had he been before the uniform? Where had his tongue gone?

He was sure he would never know.

Pentel?

“The Pentel method,” he suddenly said aloud, his mouth tripping on a recollection his mind had forgotten.

Pleased to have some reason to keep busy, his hands and eyes were soon digging through his collection of parchment. Reading through the stacks of notepad and stationary pages felt almost as if exhuming a grave – here was the memory of every conversation he’d ever had with the codger, here was every argument, every Sunday invitation to Eggs Benedict, (as if they couldn’t just assume it would happen, as it always did,) and every recollection of the former cop’s cases gone by.

Trivialities, questions, and reviews of television shows – but also Pentel.

Pentel repeated a surprising number of times – once a year, slipped sideways into some other conversation, but often there.

Though the elder Smith was a mute, he’d never been short on discussion. The method had been lost in a landslide of such facts and novelties.

“That pencil on notepad trick reminds me of the Pentel Method MI6 used,” the letter said, in response to a cheating husband case from a half-decade previous, “get a Roller Writer with which to scribble your text, press it hard against the clean side of a sheet of paper, and bam – you have a perfect invisible duplicate until someone sketches over top in ink in that same way. Then you just need to burn the original.”

The conversation had looped back from there, returning to a joke about the husband losing his shirt in the divorce just as he’d lost his pants in Mulligan’s photo.

It was a short sprint to the junk drawer, and a ballpoint pen.

There was no response when he shaded the empty portion below the message.

Flipping it flat on its face, however, brought up a full page, dense with text – the problem was that it started mid-sentence.

Mulligan returned to the previous day’s papers, but the story, something about a boy named Ezra that the Sergeant had apparently known in his youth, still was not at its beginning.

Grabbing up a sheet from just the week previous, and one from the days just after the junior Smith had hung his shingle as a private detective, the son’s hands became calm and steady, even if his tears said otherwise.

Somewhere in the hard steel shelves was the killer’s name, Mulligan was sure. Why else had the house been searched? Where else would the old man have hidden an answer?

He would find it – and the monster who’d ended the last of his family. Then he’d show the bastard some of the other tricks the old man had taught him.

First, however, he had a lifetime with his father to explore.

 

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.