Fantastic! My Flash Pulp stickers arrived yesterday in a delightful me-oriented envelope. Thank you 0popanax and the gang! A fantastic start to Christmas. One sticker has gone straight into my current writing book (which is where all good stickers end up) and I’m trying to figure out where best to stick the others. Be assured, the Captain loves Flash Pulp. I guess I’m going to have to record another story for the Flash Casts in a desperate bid to repay you guys.
Clive’s attention was drifting away from Alex. This was a good thing; he doubted there was much he could say that would soothe the powerful feelings of anger and shame that emanated from the embittered amoebic man. Alex hoped their earlier bonding would stand the test of time, or at least the next ten minutes.
The two mutant men’s eyes were locked on each other. The fresher second growing more and more alert, gripping his own leg and jerking them both with desperation. With every second the new clone looked smoother and cleaner – newer and stronger, while the primary, Clive seemed weaker and more tired. The palpable hatred of Clive for his identical twin meshed with the fear that sweated from Clive2. Though that fear was ebbing as he neared biological freedom.
While fascinating and horrible, it was a fine opportunity to creep away. But Alex had left it too late. With an appalling stretch of skin and tendon the men’s ankles and heels snapped free; the recoil of flesh made Alex retch. The mutants faced each other like a creepy pornographic version of the Marx Brothers’ mirror gag. They dispensed with the dancing and face-pulling, instead posturing, trying out their independent musculature. They both looked hard and dangerous. New Clive was tense, covered in a film of some bodily secretion alien to ordinarily-sexed humans. Old Clive still had a horrid fleshy rift down his side where the clone had torn himself free, and a sad murderous expression on his face.
Should he try to save the clone? Alex already had an imminent doom vibe and the thought made it vibe all the harder. But right now it looked bad for them both. Maybe if they ran for it Clive wouldn’t be able to hunt them down… in his super-fast flying car. Yeah, great plan. A deep hum rose from outside the barn. Oh… they weren’t even alone. Somehow, between being dropped on a pile of metal tubes and watching a man hatch out of another he’d managed to forget there was an even bigger jet outside. Alex didn’t know if that was good news, but the as the hum grew to a whine it made the trepanned discs of bone he wore round his neck vibrate. He fell to his knees to vomit an instant before the wall behind him dissolved in a violent shower of pulverised iron and brick, burying Alex in a pile of barn powder.
He felt, rather than heard, the massive footsteps thunder past him, but definitely heard the deep lisping of Man Ho-Tjusk.
“Vat’s enough Clive. Y’ain’t killin’ anovver one.”
Clive’s voice rose to a desperate shriek, “Fuck you elephant boy. It’s my clone. I didn’t ask for this.”
“Dad says no Clive.”
Alex excavated just enough powdered brick to see what was going on. Good view. The twin-things were dead ahead; nakedly glaring at each other. Just to Alex’ left the giant shaggy form of Man Ho-Tjusk rose up in the air, looking like a woolly mammoth on its hind legs. Next to him slouched his Beastlie Brother, Mu-Tant Ra’koon. The smaller, but brutal looking beast man was idly carving spirals into a helium can with his extended claws. On Alex’ other side the hissing beeping Boytronic Wonder toted a weapon that for its brutal compactness and branded lethality (Kills What You Want 100% of The Time) was evidently what had killed the wall.
“Just leave me alone. I just want to be alone.”
“Probably shouldn’t have started knocking off clowns then, eh Clive?” the Boytronic Wonder chimes in, ”could have just stayed at home instead of running off. You know that thing,” he pointed his gun towards the Petulance, “you do realise it’s trackable right?”
“Shut up Boy Toy.”
“I mean at least be smart about it, make some plans. Don’t just run off in Daddy’s car and go on a clown hunt. Don’t make me come and bring you back again.”
“Yeah I alwayth liked the clownth at the partieth Dad threw for uth. Remember Mithter Bimbolino? He wath a good one.”
“Oh yeah, I remember him – didn’t you two eat him or something?”
“Only his fingers.” Ra-Koon smirked at the memory.
“Come on then, let’s get the two of you back to the lab.”
“Stay the fuck away from me Wonder-Bot.”
“Hey, happy birthday new Clive! I wonder what you’ll get?”
“For pity’s sake Boyt’. What number’s this one Clive, twenty-three? Twenty-four? Where do they all go?”
Ra-Koon’s idle question visibly shook the clone, who had been watching his twin/father intently during the exchange, no doubt trying to figure out where he stood in this awkward family reunion. Alex also grasped the implications, they were definitely the same wavelength as his doom vibe.
The clone sprang into action, diving onto Clive with his arms spread and fists balled. Ra’Koon bellowed, “no!” and leaped forwards as the clone reached for his progenitor. Man-Ho Tjusk merely snickered, a curious sneezing laugh that bounced down his trunk, blowing dust off the top of Alex’ head. With swiftness that seemed incredible for a naked man with a hole down his side, Clive spun and seized from the floor a vicious bladed instrument that probably had a medical name. The blade whirled and flashed down at the clone. In a flash Alex caught the clone’s terror at the imminence of death and the miserable, hated shortness of his existence. As the gleaming edge descended towards the clone’s face a blinding bolt of violence spurted out of the Boytronic Wonder’s arms and Clive exploded in a spray of bloody wetness, evenly coating his clone and the insides of the barn.
“Fuckth sake Wonder Boy”
“What? He’s literally, exactly the same as Clive. Dad’ll never know the difference.”
“That’s really not the point. And you know that’s not true.” Ra’Koon looked seriously annoyed, teeth bared at his metallic sibling.
“Whatever. I’ve had enough of keeping an eye on that tool.” The Boytronic Wonder didn’t seem the least bit chastised. “Hey,” he called to the blood-soaked figure, “hey, Clive. Yeah, you. Think you can manage not to be a dick?”
The clone looked shocked, which was no great surprise. Still dripping with the pulp of his predecessor he took a step backwards. Alex sympathised; such casual annihilation of the clown slayer wouldn’t fill him with confidence either, but then nor would being attacked by your own mother-brother-dad-thing. Asexual relationships looked complicated.
“Mmm. Come on, Dad wants to see you.” Mu-Tant Ra’Koon retracted his claws and took the new Clive by the arm and dragged him, bloody footprints and all out of the barn. The Boytronic Wonder clicked, beeped and thunked off after him.
Alex breathed out slowly and started to dig himself out. He stopped when a gruff laugh came from right behind him, blowing the brick dust off his head. He turned slowly, into the face of Man Ho-Tjusk crouched in front of him. The man’s eponymous tusks were inches from Alex’ eyes. They looked at each other for a moment. All he felt from the mammoth man was a mild amusement. The giant man snorted and lifted a massive finger to the tip of his trunk, “Shsss. Lucky little man. Be watching you.” He snickered again and stomped off.
Alex cautiously stood up in a shower of ex-barn particles. The Vortex had vanished from outside, leaving him alone in a big room covered in blood and gas cylinders. An interesting day. He had no idea where he was and no way to get home. Unless… the Petulance… Really? Had caution entirely escaped him? Given his surprising bout of luck that night there was no reason to push it any further. Alex sighed, and started walking. After a few paces he scrabbled frantically through his pockets until he found his mobile phone. Still recording. Excellent. He turned off the sound recorder and granted himself a little hop and heel kick. Maybe he’d have something for Neil after all, as long as he could find his way back to town.
Ye bitter twists o’ winter wrenched our sails about, shakin’ shard o’ ice onto the crew below. Twas a sound akin to dogs bein’ attacked by the Christmas tree they’ve so recently abused with their gnawin’. For my part I shivered in me cabin, furling yet another layer o’ blanket about me limbs. And payin’ especial attention to me stump ends, for the cold plays a special havoc with the joints which’ve no longer a benden’ segment to whom tis married.
Aye, I’d also been tappin’ away at me special cask o’ rum. Tis the one we use to preserve the mates from whom Fate has withheld her favour. I grant, tis often their own failings which leads Miss Fortune to toss masts and toothy brutes at them. The latest miscarriage o’ justice was Ambrose De’Lentil. Yarr, we knew him as the drunk in the keel.
When I’d first seized the Good Ship Lollipop from her natural owners (though they’d never treated her right: she’d a coat o’ green and orange with sails o’ chequered puppies. I could have happily sunk her had I not found her wheel so spinny), old Ambrose had been hidden deep in the hull behind a bale o’ rotting tobacco and a stack o’ sodden rats. Twas a fortnight at sea before we noted a drop in the rum barrels, and the end o’ the moon before anyone penetrated the stinking barrier he’d become cocooned within.
He was a twitchy madman, toothless from rum sucking and black faced from chewing ye decayed tobac. It took a team of gaggin’ and retchin’ crew to drag the wretched drunk from out his moulderin’ hole. Me natural inclination was to heave him overboard as stowaway, but me pity caught up (tis a result o’ the moral growth I’ve sported as a consequence of the Isle of Letch’s nunnish sponge baths.) We’d a range o’ cages on deck for the restrainin’ o’ beasties such as we’d fancy eatin’ or tradin’, and Ambrose fitted neatly into the Asian Death Badger cage.
We watched him gibber and caper, drooling rope-like strands of black innards-grue. Twas hideous an’ yet captivating. The lads took to sittin’ about him in a ring durin’ their quiet times. They’d do little but stare, toss him the odd share of rum, and listen to his ranted drivel. On occasion a mate’d toss to Ambrose some bauble or other trinket in teasing. Though some items bounced off the vile hull tramp and lay ignored, or at least unsuckled, others he’d snatch up. His twisted black fingers with their sharply broken nails grasped at string, buttons or nails. He’d hoard ’em in his toothless face hole till he’d enough for his purpose.
Now while he was thus encumbered amusing the crew, Monty and Barry reported a sharp rise in the gnawin’ o’ holes in our barrels of provisions and the spoilin’ of foods. Tis a serious matter, and ye rats’d gotten the better of the vicious cats who’d previously pursued ’em across the ship. The beasts had grown massive and they bristled at man’s approach. We chose lengthy paths around the Lollipop to avoid their bitey trails. Twas a matter o’ much concern to all those of us who desired food and safety from the Doomrats of the Sea.
Ambrose had gathered sufficient ephemera to undertake his own unique magic. The lads were ever more likely to encircle him at night, for the rats were clearly afeard o’ the stenched fellow. His nasty claws wove the junk into tiny statues o’ mankind. With a globule o’ pitchy spit he daubed ’em each and the ship fell silent. Slowly, with minute twitches, as if seein’ a thing move from between fluttering eyelids of sleep, the miniature men came to a strange stuttering life. They picked themselves up and bared their tiny teeth. Ye crew were a mite spooked.
The little men stepped out of the firelight and scattered into the ship’s shadows. I know of not one man who slept a wink that night. Ambrose was content to chuckle to himself; a chocolatey giggle that spoke of a disease ridden body. A horrid sound, and one which we stoppered with rum. Despite our fear, alertness and definitely not sleepin’ we woke to a wall o’ rat carcasses around the Asian Death Badger cage. Aye.
The solution to our rat problem were inescapable. The insane filth-spattered raggedy man from the ship’s foulest corner had a power over them. His creepy soldiers prowled the ship by night and delivered their corpses to him. Me preference were that if ye devil’s work were to be done then it should be done belowdecks where we could forget about him. The Asian Death Badger cage we threw in the sea, infested as it was with the man’s reek – we’d no desire to infect one o’ those graceful beasts when we finally caught it. A trail of fish bobbed in its wake until we caught a fresher current.
And so we plunged on through the seas, adventurin’ and piratin’, and beneath our feet old Ambrose the Keel Drunk would be chewin’, drinking and dispatching his little golem to cleanse the vessel of rats. On rare occasions we’d roll a fresh barrel of rum down to him or a bundle of leaf. The next mornin’, or perhaps the next we’d find a neatly crocheted bonnet or scarf pinned to the mast. Twas a boon as we sailed through the seasons into ye winter.
Tis perhaps an irony that twas ye winter that took old Ambrose from us. The icy poles took his hole to a freezier cold than he’d ever before felt. As we made snowmen and battled polar bears old Ambrose was frostifying in his putrid nest. The woollen goods he made for us never warmed his drunken skin, never touched the cankerous recesses of his body. The icicles pierced him sure as deatwpid-tmp_share.jpgh, filling him with snowflakes.
We only knew it when the rats reappeared (them as had not been munched by the vicious Arctic Puffin and its blood-splashed beak – aye, a terrible foe who claimed four of me crew and a polar bear before we stuffed it with gunpowder and spread its pretty feathers over the iceberg), and the mournful troupe of golemic soldiers were found unravelling in the sun one day far south of the Arctic circle. We determined that grim though he were, he were also a man (prob’ly) who’d given much to the crew, and that perhaps we’d give him a land burial, for to our knowledge he’d never seen the sea but for his sojourn in the cage. Also he was fond of rats and they’d be able to pick his bones clean in turn in the ossuary. We were far from land, so we stuffed him into a rum cask to better preserve his rotten form.
As happens now and then to a man of the sea, the memory o’ the crazy man in the hull faded from me mind. Eclipsed perhaps by the excitement of beasts with jaws and claws reachin’ for me skull, the rum cask with Ambrose inside was pushed further back into the liquor store. One day as ye air grew fuller of ice again ye store was growin’ low and me custom was to acquire a full cask and hide it in me cabin before the cellar were drained, lest I be forced to suffer the world in sobriety.
That cask was the one containing the mortal remains of old Ambrose. I discovered this only by a curious confluence o’ sensory gifts. Ye rum held a subtle flavour – strong hints of tobacco and a mouldened scent; the barrel had an unjust weight and on uncorking the rum belly a wizened finger slipped out the hole. It gave me pause I can tell ye, for a moment. I’d doubts as to the wisdom of consumption, for such would have taken Ambrose in time. And yet I’d faith in the spiritual power of alcohol to purify the putrefying man, and no doubt of how little rum was on board.
I popped on the little ear hats that Ambrose had knitted for me and swigged away at his vital fluids. Aye, it keeps out the chill.
So, work’s been good… As evidence, I’ve only written a few new tiny poems. I like the lack of editing which the Twitter process allows (fitting it in between spreadsheet refreshes and screaming silently at the telephone). I don’t know about you but I get incredibly angry and overheat if I don’t find some vent. Apparently it’s not considered the done thing to shank your cube mates with an HB. If you want this sort of aggressive wordery immediately, follow @shankanalia on Twitter. Otherwise I’ll randomly upload a bunch here.
Warm To The Touch
Your heat makes me sweat,
Dripping on my anger coil.
Heat makes me punch you.
No, you’re wrong.
You’re almost right, and you think you’re right.
But you’re not – you’re wrong.
If you’re right then I’m wrong.
The sound of your skull
As it bounces off the steps.
Yes, I’ve detached your unused brain case
And kicked it down the stairs.
The pieces make effective shrapnel.
How Nice That You Came To See Me 2
There’s something about your smile,
That makes me shrink away;
There’s something about your laugh,
That makes me cringe inside.
I don’t want to die.
A Match Made In Heaven
My fiery passion ignites your soul.
Sweet tinder heart,
You are fuel to my fire.
Husky burned love hole.
Is it you or is it me?
A shot in the dark,
A child in a well,
The stars to a blind man,
Kisses for a troll…
We thought of using a system,
No one’s done this before,
We each created one of our own,
And rejected each others’,
Now we have twelve systems.
Ahar mates, tis ye noble Captain Ignatius Pigheart here to advise ye on matters o’ affection. Ye may address me as Captain Loveheart.
Of What We Speaks
Tis o’course that finest love which a man may feel that I speaks of today. Aye, the feelings that a mere gent of ye kind should be wracked with when ye catch that salty tang in ye nostrils (assumin’ ye’ve not sacrificed ye schnozzle to the arctic fogs, in which case I advise ye inhale deeply and roll ye scents around ye mouth). Tis the pinnacle o’ bestiary perfection, ye mermaid. Aye, for though they be the things o’ folklore and madmen rantin’ in taverns, and sometimes even a drunk’s explanation for why they were found pinned beneath a dugong, they are the most beautiful creatures in the sea. Ye might offer in contest the dolphin, the parrotfish, the deep sea angler. And yet me friends, have they bosoms? Nay, they do not. And that should suffice to explain the feelings that even now must be a-stir in ye breast and manly regions.
Bear ye compass down on a Merwench
First, how may a pirate or louche gentleman such as yerself find, and attract a fishy lass? Tis a troublesome affair if ye heartstrings be not tuned to the scaly whisper o’ her heartbeats. If they be, the very pulse of the sea’ll beat in ye skull, directin’ ye wheelspin and the tilt of ye draught. Tis a warmin’ within for the cold touch of the marvellous merlass.
Otherwise I commend to ye a lifetime o’ crawlin’ the oceans with hope in ye heart and rum in yer belly. There’ll be naught in this life to bring ye joy. Perhaps ye should nuzzle ye temple with ye pistol’s muzzle.
Should ye chance upon a merwench while stranded tis a fine opportunity to throw yeself upon her mercy. If ye piteousness and her loneliness be equal upon the great scales o’ romance tis likely ye fish lust’ll be assuaged. Drowning’s a ploy ye might advance upon with some likelihood of success. They’ve a fondness for the lack o’ swimmability in ye common man. They might steal ye last breath for bubbles, but at least ye’ll have tasted her sweet lips. With luck she’ll whisk ye off to her nethersea cave for divers pleasures. Returnin’ from ye undersea realms is a tricky matter. Tis possible ye’ll die there.
Tis a different matter indeed if ye nets once cast draw in a wench o’ piscine persuasion. Ye may find her less thrilled than yourself to be roughly dumped with a slew o’ fish upon your deck. I advise ye make yer apologies and your cabin available to the lady. Your natural charm and handsome features’ll doubtless turn her to ye. There be a certain school o’ thought recommending capture and the loves that may form through fear… Tis not to be borne me friends. Aye, for love comes to ye – she should not wish to escape ye hooked embrace.
Wooin’ at Ye Merlass
When ye encounters a mademoiselle de mer in her habitat naturelle, ye should account yourself with honesty and courage. And yet salt ye bravado with sweetness and an enticin’ manner. Ye fishwench’re a teasin’ folk and enjoy ye romantic overtures. Try a gentle croonin’, tis sure to reassure her that ye be not a shark or crocobeast. They are romantic creatures. If ye manner be the opposite of a be-toothed manatee or pond-barracuda then ye be one step ahead already.
Aaarr, beasts o’ stroking and rubbin’ they be. Ye might consider detachin’ any battle or needlework prosthetics before engagin’ in the writhin’ magics o’ love. Tis considered rude, as with ye land lasses, to pierce ’em by accident. Now ye’ll find a mermaid’s anatomy curious (though tis doubtless the incitement of ye love keening). Being a gentleman I’ll not dwell on the mernethers overmuch, save to note that once ye go fish ye’ll never seek another dish.
Here Endeth The Lesson
So that’s ye lesson for today. I hopes ye manage to cool ye ardour betwixt a mermaid’s fins, but if ye do not – fear not. Ye be but a common man with no features special enough to draw their salted mackereline amour upon ye. There’s no shame in it, and I recommend to ye a night in Lady Taschewitche’s House Of Curious and Unlikely Love. Tis located but a few moments stroll from this hall – mention Captain Loveheart and receive a night’s womanticore attention for a shilling.
Further Readin’, for the Scholars ‘Mongst Ye
The Mermaid Adventure – surely the most romantic wooery ever conducted twixt man and fishgirl.
The Exquisite Mermaid Adventure – some hint of ye consequences o’ lying with a merlass.
An Amourous Adventure – a short re-tellin’ of oceanic conquest.
Ahar, Christmas is almost upon us and so ye Christmassy yarns’re wheeled out once more for ye aural pleasure. Ye can here Captain Pigheart’s Little Christmas Tale on Flash Pulp‘s latest FlashCast FC 47 Spielbergian Whimsy alongside even more fantastic articles, pulp film and many other marvels. It’s truly illustrious company and ye captain’s honoured to be included. Plug it in ye ears.
You can listen to it here:
Flash Cast 47
A haunting jingle hung in the frosted air – the shadow of Christmas darkenin’ ye snow. I gazed up into the sky, wonderin’ if we’d seen the last o’ the malevolent elves who had demanded the return o’ their handicraft. We’d assured ‘em that owing to Santa’s confusion twixt ‘naughty’ and ‘nautical’ we’d been off the nice list for years. I stepped to me cabin and it was Sam Knacker who took the unexpected blow to his face. Gaargh, luck had guided the tumbling box, for Sam were fractionally softer than the icy deck. It flew open on impact; a sudden fountain of unravelling ribbon whipped away by the wind. The ribbon wrapped about poor Sam’s ankle and whisked him overboard. His end was near, so try not to be too concerned.
Gingerly, I booted the frozen papier-mâché mess into me cabin. I laid it upon me desk and parted the jolly fronds with me hook. A squeak of alarm issued from both our lips, though I masked mine with a manly cough. Twas a tiny person, perhaps the height of me peg leg garnished in green felt and glitter. Twere a she (I’ve experience in such discernation) and her little pointed ears twitched nervously. I gave her me reassuring croon (like so) which soothed her. With rum and a woollen mitten to englove her she defrosted and shared her words.
Gaargh, one o’ me proudest lootings this year has been getting to know the pulp wizards of Flash Pulp. Tis an especial Christmas thrill to get an episode of me own. I recorded me Accursed Christmas tale for Flash Cast – a story of zombies and festive good cheer, leprosy and pragmatism. Enjoy! I have no words to express me gratitude. I’ll plunder for ye, snare merwenches, frot with dangerous beasts and write ye poetry – name it. Merry Christmas to Flash Pulp and the Flash Mob.
You can listen to it here: [audio http://traffic.libsyn.com/skinner/FlashPulpGuest002.mp3]
In my grandfather’s attic there was a chest. A simple, wooden box banded with brass. Locked, but no match for an enquiring mind and a screwdriver. Within I found a book, bound in a curious soft leather and containing scrawls of a language I could not read and the hasty, agitated notations of my grandfather. Those I could read.
The book spoke of the Elder Gods who nestled in the dark and cold of space, cocooned in the holes between the stars. They were creatures from outside of our time. They were here before our universe and would return to claim it.
Madness. I placed the book on a shelf and forgot about it.
It didn’t forget about me though.
The dreams began weeks after I’d touched its pages. I would wake up cold with sweat, shaking at the after-images of the ancients unfurling their wings across the horizon, tentacles coiling around the Moon and drawing it to the Earth.
At work I’d collapse as my colleagues’ flesh evaporated in a roar of steam; the building crumbled; the very air howled out of the crevices humanity had hidden itself in. All sucked into the maw of the unimaginable creature drinking the life out of our atmosphere.
I could not bear to sleep, I couldn’t handle work. I returned to the book. Where grandfather’s writing had once seemed legible it paled now into foreign sigils. The formerly dark mysterious script beneath it danced before my eyes, its meaning apparent and awful.
The Gods were returning, my dreams merely a taste of things to come. Our life was an insult to their own. An insult to be repaid in pain and fear.
That night they came for me. They insinuated their way into my apartment, took my body from me and bound it to their will.
The dreams are gone now. I don’t need them anymore. I know what’s coming, and so will you. Soon.
Posted for fun in a 300 word format on: TheShortestFiction.com
Sure, Christmas is a time for good will and all that. But it’s also a time to look back on the year and consider the reasons for your present embittered state. Most of these will be work related. It’s never wise to give up on those negative emotions. Perhaps you’ve managed to package them for friends and family in the form of a disappointing gift. Well done, your curmudgeonly spirit willl inspire angry verse in them. And so a creative outlet is created. So here are some more of my poems generated by idiocy and without this Twitter stream to poetically piss in I’d explode. If you fancy you can follow @shankanalia on Twitter too, or just wait for the ‘collected works’ to turn up here.
How Nice That You Came To See Me
When I see your face,
A terrible despair
Sweeps through me.
Your visage of impending dumb
Hollows me fearful.