August 1974, Richard Nixon resigned the Presidency of the United States of America. The first of a new generation of Independent Operators becomes active to deal with possible fall-out from the unprecedented situation. A few years later one of these Independent Operators breaks up an assassination plot against James Earl Carter. The public never hears of this, but the Secret Service, and others, take note.
Soon after this Independent Operator comes into my life. Back into my life, actually. For this deadly Agent of Justice saved my life not only here in my home town, but in Saigon as well. What does he look like? Nobody knows. Anybody who has knowingly met him calls him the Voice. His extremely rare public speech sounds like nothing else in the annals of history.
I don’t know much more than that. And I am what passes for his biographer. Plus, maybe a bit of a therapist, too. Most of his work involves gathering information on people who make life worse. Criminals, bad or incompetent politicians, and public servants, societal bullies, it doesn’t matter. He finds the dirt and turns it over to the police, prosecutors, or the media.
My name is Erwin K. Roberts. I worked in Saigon for Havens International Media. Stateside I became editor of the local paper in the Clarion newspaper chain. When the Voice popped up in my life in recent decades it was usually to relate a story. A case that hasn’t gone as expected. Or gotten too big. For when lives are on the line he becomes about the most deadly man in the world. I help him get it off his chest. He truly hates to kill. Letting me write up his exploits seems to help him.
The Voice stayed active from 1974 until at least December of 1999. I last heard from him after a very tragic case. He may have moved his operations elsewhere. He may have retired. And if he did retire, the woman he let into his life in this 1989 case probably helped make it happen.
“All of which, I suppose, makes me a sort of optimist.”
Vionna smiled like a goofy little kid and said, “Then I am too. I’ll be what you are. I always did really admire you.”
“You have good instincts, Vionna.”
“Um. Well, it’s so nice to see you and talk to you. I’ve been… I’ve been really lonely for… There’s nobody to… Say, if I tell you something, will you promise you won’t laugh at me?”
“I can’t promise that if I don’t know what it is. I promise you I’ll try not to.”
“Okay. Well, when I was a kid, back in those days, I used to kind of daydream about you and imagine that you were my big brother. Don’t laugh! I never had any brothers or sisters, and you were always nice to me, and I just really wished that I was your little sister.”
Well. I certainly wasn’t laughing. I hadn't expected anything like that. It confused me. I felt as though an indecent liberty had been taken. Then it made me feel something odd. It had been so long since I was actually touched by something someone said to me, it took me a second to recognize what it was. When I did, it felt like a branding iron. It was unpleasant. I resented it.
The taco joint had calmed since the failed attack on the counter, but Paul Sr.’s body would not soon forget the mistake. He sat next to his granddaughter and across from his daughter and grandson. Including his son, they were all he had left in this world. He sat and tried to find a way to save them.
The Indian was always here. He was always in this damn place; it was his job. Where the hell was that son of a bitch. Surely, he made it out of Blue Man’s Gorge. He had to have made it out. His head didn’t get hit that hard.
Look at her. Carolyn’s frazzled. I wonder what’s wrong with her. She’s probably upset were out someplace. I’ve probably made a scene, or just been hard to carry. I hate being such a burden. I wish she’d just take me out into the country and leave me. I’d wonder out into the woods and freeze to death. Damn it’s cold in this place. I wonder where we are? Why the hell does my head hurt so much? Where’s my wallet?
Alex Stanton clicked the shutter on his camera, knowing that the shot was a good one. Zalia wanted proof that her husband was cheating on her, and he had just gotten it on film: pure light projected onto pure celluloid. Nothing manipulated, nothing artificial. He would develop the film in his darkroom while she watched. Alex turned off all of his other recording equipment, one by one. He knew from experience that the actual photos straight from the camera were the most visceral, but the data he had collected were extensive.
Alex waited until Jon St. Tago finished with the girl, making sure to get enough face shots for a digital signature confirmation, in case this ever went to court. But Alex didn’t think it would. Zalia was never going to leave Jon. That’s what Marseille kept telling him and the sooner he accepted it, the better of he was going to be. Alex packed up his equipment and checked the time. Two hours until he was to meet her in his apartment darkroom. He killed the time with muddy coffee and cancer-free cigarettes -- the pull-tab kind.
She was waiting for him outside his apartment, standing in the cold drizzle, coatless because she had never been practical when it came to weather. Night had settled in and deepened. The moon was hidden or new. There was no way to tell these days. Stars were all blocked by smog.
Under cover of darkness, Evil grows, festering like an infected wound on the underbelly of the city. From the shadows comes an instrument of Justice, a weapon forged in the crucible of his own execution at the hands of the mob. Now he returns to stalk the night as an avenger of Justice... THE GRAY GHOST!
A foghorn called mournfully in the distance, a low plaintive sound that carried across the bay. John Stover heard the distinctive warning song as he exited his coupe and with it, the tempestuous percussion of the Atlantic surf crashing against the rocks far below. It was his third night on the job at the Biscayne Lighthouse—the graveyard shift, maintaining the beacon and listening to the chatter between ships over the shortwave radio— and he still found it exciting. But tonight, the fog rolling in off the sea was already so thick it had made the drive out from town almost as perilous as piloting a freighter along the treacherous coast.
Glancing up, he could see the bright beam cutting through the fog and darkness to alert ships that they were getting close to the shore, a welcomed and comforting sight. He grabbed his lunch pail and copy of the local newspaper from the seat beside him.
Stover had only recently moved to the area, so the ocean was an awe-inspiring sight to the former Iowa farm boy. Tending a lighthouse was lonely work, but growing up in the cornfields, insulated from the outside world, had been lonely in its own way and certainly prepared him for this sort of life. Of course it didn’t hurt that since arriving in Biscayne Bay, he had met a girl that caught his eye in a big way. He smiled at the thought of her, and started to whistle a cheerful tune to counterpoint the foghorn’s dirge as he headed for the door of the lighthouse.
My life, when I was very young, turned bad. It was bad for a while, then it turned good. And it stayed very, very good for a few years. Then it went down the toilet. But during the good part, I was something rare and fine. I did things few other people ever do. I was part of something strange and glorious and ultimately unsustainable. And after that, as I say, came the toilet. I bobbed around in there for twelve years, and then something happened. A dead hand reached out to me from the past. I was so bombed-out and jaded that I might have ignored even that, if the hand hadn’t been clutching money.
I’ve got a story of sorts to tell.
Life being what it is—and what it isn’t—stories don’t really begin or end anywhere. There are things that seem to be more important than other things, and you can focus on those and slice off everything that happened before and after. Then the whole thing seems to teach a lesson or make a point or offer some kind of closure for one thing or another.
Well, a lot of unusual things happened to me recently, but nothing was really resolved, and I can’t say for sure that I learned any lessons. But I made a bunch of interesting new friends and found, for the first time in many years, something resembling a purpose. Maybe that’s the lesson, then. If so, it’s ongoing, and I am a long way from the jackpot.
Not long ago, I was sitting in a little bar on a side street in the city of Zenith, the place where I was born and where I died. My life had ended twelve years earlier, on a street not far from where I sat.
I was at a table by myself with a drink in front of me. It was one of a very long series. I don’t recall the first, and cannot envision the last.
I'm a horrible drunkard. That isn't the most important thing about me, but it's one of the most obvious. You need to know it, because it is a part of the context in which everything took place. But it's not the whole thing. It isn’t even the most important.
Fuyuhira Minami exited his favorite Karaoke bar well on the road to complete drunkenness and happier than he had been in weeks. Even the near torrential rain coming down didn’t bother him, despite the fact that he had left his umbrella at the office or maybe back in the bar. It didn’t matter, nothing did. He had closed the biggest deal of his life today with a rival genetic research corporation. The fact that the company he worked for was going to be losing five years of breakthrough stem cell research didn’t phase him. They would learn not to pass over worthy researchers for promotion after all is said and done, most definitely.
The money he carried in his briefcase would buy him many nights of pleasure in the arms of which ever lady he chose at his massage parlor. His wife thought he was still at work and she would remain thinking that.
I worked for this.
I deserve this. All she does is whine and cook poor tasting food.
Standing in the downpour he stared out into the traffic, searching for a cab to take him to the pleasure palace. Fuyuhira was having trouble keeping his snake in its cage as he thought of the night that lay ahead. He was about to flag down an oncoming cab when he saw her.
A woman walked toward him under a jade colored umbrella. She wore her hair down and her skirt just above the knee revealing shapely legs. She wasn’t doing anything but trying to navigate the sidewalk amidst other pedestrians, but her body language suggested virginity and innocence. Fuyuhira didn’t know how he could detect such a thing from body language alone, then decided it must be the alcohol speaking.
I go by the name Hugh Monn. Since the end of the so-called ‘great’ war known as U. W. 1, I try to earn an honest living as a private detective on the planet I now call home.
Things had been mixed for me of late. On one hand, it had been a couple of cycles since my last case. But although I tried to be a gentleman and return what I felt I didn’t fully deserve, I wasn’t feeling the pinch from a lack of paying customers just yet, thanks to the generous payment from Dineena Vergas for the brief work I did discovering the fate of her Aunt.
Thankfully I wouldn’t have to push my luck much longer, as a new client walked into my office. He introduced himself as Phillip Thorndyke, a Human like me. Not that it was a rare event to see another Human on the planet Frontera; but like most of the other races in the universe, our species tended to be very spread out amongst the stars.
I stood behind my desk to greet him. He had sun bleached blonde hair, cut short; blue eyes, and was a bit on the buff side with quite a tan. I shook his hand over my desktop, noting immediately the firm grip and rough calluses on his palm. Between that and the average style work clothes he wore, I figured he must do a lot of physical labor somewhere outdoors for a living.
“Good to meet you, Mister Monn. If you’re available, I would like to hire you,” he announced, getting right to business as he sat down in the guest chair in front of my desk.
Candace DeMarco parked her car at the farthest end of the parking lot and got out. She never parked close to the store; as the manager, she had a firm policy of all employees leaving the best spots for the use of the customers. It was still dark, only five in the morning. The air was chilly and so was she, except her left hand, which held the Styrofoam cup filled with hot coffee that she had just picked up via drive-thru on her way to open the store. She reached the front doors, which were locked as the store had been closed overnight. She took out her mass of keys, containing the means by which she could open any of the many doors and safes within the large Q & V Supermarket. She selected the appropriate key and inserted it into the lock. The doors opened as she forced them to slide on their tracks. When the store was open for business, the automatic doors would be turned on and part when motion was detected, but for the time being she had to use physical force to open the way.
She stepped inside, simultaneously putting her keys back into her pocket and taking a generous swig of coffee, sugarless with just a touch of cream. The store was lit only by the dim night lighting. The night crew of seven men who worked most nights packing out groceries had been given the night off to allow room for the floor waxing crew to come in and do their thrice yearly task of making the linoleum floors shine, which contributed greatly, in the opinion of Candace DeMarco, to keeping the place looking new and appealing to the public.
There are stupid people in this world and there are stuuuupid people in this world. I knew I belonged in at least one of those two categories. Don’t believe me? Then why was I hanging a good forty-something feet off the ground by my fingertips?
I had a new plan for this life. It seemed like a good plan. Well, an okay plan… alright, I didn’t think it entirely through. See, I ran a recreation center for youths on the outskirts of The Core and my biggest financial contributor had pulled out.
I had some ad money saved up from my short stint as an Olympic gymnast, but that was mostly for my mortgage. After trying but not succeeding in acquiring some other backers, I had to accept that I needed to find another income. Because I solved a “case” earlier in the month, I figured why not start up a part-time detective agency and run it out of my rec center. The start-up money was nearly a grand. And what’s my net income over the last three weeks? Yep, minus a thousand dollars. I had to start making some money soon. Knowing that was my number one priority, I decided to take on a pro bono case. Oh, I’d figured it out: definitely stuuuupid.
This whole thing began about four-thirty p.m. on a Tuesday. I was in my office going over my budget for the next month. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the headline of a newspaper half hidden under some other papers. ‘Star Teresa Keefe Comes Home.’ I looked at the accompanying photo of The Core’s own Hollywood success story—with her airbrushed skin, red, pixie-style hair, and puckered lips—then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My sweaty, tangled red-brown hair plastered against my light mocha skin and my formerly-white tank top said ‘Glamorous? Not so much’.
Paul took a giant first step towards the enemy. And then another. He dodged right. Then left. His foot turned to straighten his body. He vision of a doctor with an x-ray of his spine flew threw his head, and he lost feeling in his right knee. And then his leg. Over compensating, he attempted to push off of his left leg, and it crumbled underneath him. His body began to fall and the tile turned into a powerful magnet pulling only parts of his body. If not for the momentum that he had created, Paul Sr. would have landed within feet from the counter, instead it threw him head first into the fake paneling, and he blacked out.
Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal column that causes pressure on the spinal cord, or narrowing of the openings where spinal nerves leave the spinal column. Depending on which nerves are affected, spinal stenosis can cause pain or numbness in your legs, back, neck, shoulders or arms; limb weakness and incoordination; loss of sensation in your extremities; and problems with bladder or bowel function. In severe cases of spinal stenosis, surgery is usually recommended to create additional space for the spinal cord or nerves, and if you weren’t so old Mr. McConnell, I would recommend surgery. But really surgery at this point may be too hard on your body.
Are you saying I can’t take it?
I’m not saying that. I know your will is strong enough. But, Mr. McConnell, your body can’t take it.
You have no idea what my body can take.
Maybe, I don’t, but I’m not wasting valuable time and resources where they’re not needed.
You mean you don't want to put a bowtie on a turd.
The splintered stake fell from the sky like lightning from Thor’s fingers.Everything in the world slowed and Cole’s vision reached a point of righteous clarity. The beast’s stench was alive and his rage was confined in an unmovable corpus. Islands of the beast’s hide momentarily became visible as the shadowy cloud that orbited its master dissipated and surged. Blood and sweat fell from Cole’s body in equal proportions, as his muscular hands knotted convulsively when the ebony point passed into the shadow. The beast’s lids flared as Cole’s red-dripping hands lowered behind its apex that quickly reached the beast’s skin. The stake went true into the beast’s side behind his colossal front arm.
Slowed for only a moment, the piercing of the stake began to shred the flesh of the creature and sink deeper into the dark cavernous carcass. Harder and harder Cole pushed and further and further the stick burrowed into the beast, until at last, the point of the stake shattered into a million pieces against the iron like green spine of the beast.The beast did not move, nor did it make a sound.
Announcing the newest place for Pulp Writers, Artists and Fans to come together!
MAIN STREET, BATESVILLE, ARKANSAS!!!
Pro Se Productions, LLC (http://www.proseproductions.com/) in conjunction with Main Street Batesville of Batesville, AR announces PULP ARK 2011!! Pro Se Productions, a company specializing in pulp storytelling in various mediums, primarily magazines and comics, made its debut in March, 2010! Pro Se also seeks to bring all the over the top, grandiose, slam-bang impact of pulp to the South! PULP ARK, scheduled for May 13-15, 2011 will be a convention dedicated to the Pulp Genre as well as a conference made up of panels, workshops, and activities to appeal to the Pulp writer, the Pulp fan, and that most unique creature, The Pulp Writer/Fan!
PULP ARK will be held in the historical town of Batesville, AR. Nestled in the scenic Ozark foothills, Batesville provides most definitely a small town charm, but has facilities of all sorts, including hotels, major and local restaurants, and several venues for hosting panels, conferences, and vendors. Batesville also affords a relaxed setting, different from most large cities where conventions are held, but also conducive to creativity, relaxation, and a furthering of Pulp fandom!
PUBLISHERS AND VENDORS WELCOME-REASONABLE TABLE RATES
LEADING NAMES IN PULP TODAY AS GUESTS
LEE HOUSTON, JR.
KEN JANSSENS WAYNE REINAGEL FULLER BUMPERS
ERWIN K. ROBERTS
PANELS LED BY WRITERS, ARTISTS AND PUBLISHING COMPANIES
WRITERS AND ARTISTS WORKSHOPS BY LEADING NAMES IN PULP TODAY
A PULP STYLE INTERACTIVE ADVENTURE THROUGHOUT PULP ARK
EVENTS FOR SPOUSES AND FAMILY MEMBERS
DISCOUNTS AT LOCAL HOTELS, RESTAURANTS, AND OTHER BUSINESSES
MAY 13-15, 2011-Prepare for the Flood of All that is Pulp-Get your place on the PULP ARK today!
PULP ARK WEEKEND-LOCATION AND SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED AND DETAILED!
PULP ARK, the Pulp Convention/Creators’ Conference debuting May 13-15, 2011 in Batesville, AR, is proud to announce that the event will be held in a location that is a primary part of local history in the historic Arkansas town. Built in 1880, the three story building that will be the home of the first PULP ARK enjoyed life as Batesville’s Opera House for eight years. It was renovated and made into a mercantile store after that and then later was home to various other enterprises. It currently houses THE CINNAMON STICK, a coffee and sandwich restaurant. The over 6,000 square feet of space provides not only ample places for tables, displays and guests, but access to the lower level provides an onsite location for panels and classrooms. The lower level, largely untouched since the building’s construction, except for electricity being added, served as the dressing area for the various opera stars and performers in the building’s original incarnation.
A hotspot of activity, The Cinnamon Stick plays host to musicians, artists, and performers on a weekly basis as well as to customers ranging in age from high school kids to senior citizens. The location, 151 W. Main Street in Downtown Batesville, is surrounded by various amenities. Currently there are three restaurants on the street; The Cinnamon Stick, Elizabeth’s, and The Greasy Spoon. These three offer a variety of food and if that were not enough, various other restaurants are within a 1-5 mile radius of the location. Various antique stores, an used book store, a gym, and various other types of businesses line Batesville’s historic downtown area.
SCHEDULE FOR PULP ARK NOTE-This is the schedule as of today. Changes may occur. If a timeslot has 'PANELS/CLASSROOM' in it, that means it is an open spot for a panel or classroom. If these are not filled, then there will be no set aside panel or classroom at that time. The activity in the Main Hall will be available.
An Adventure Starring
Written by Barry Reese
Birds of a Feather
Maurice Chapman opened a small white container and pushed a rubber-gloved finger into the white material it contained. He then smeared the grease under his nose, wincing slightly. He offered the container to the two people who were in the autopsy room with him: the dainty, beautiful Samantha Grace and her employer, the tall and thin Lazarus Gray.“You’ll want some of this,” Maurice said when neither of his guests took the container.
“We’ll be fine,” Gray answered, his mismatched eyes focused on the body that was hidden beneath a white sheet. The corpse’s feet extended past the sheet and he could see that her toes had been painted red, probably a week or so before the murder. The paint was chipped in places and in need of a touch-up. The scent of medicinal products and cleansers was almost overwhelming but it didn’t come close to matching the odor of putrification that arose from the dead body.
Chapman resisted the urge to press the matter. He was sixty-two years old, born and raised in the cesspool that was Sovereign City. He’d seen burly cops enter his lab and turn away vomiting at the things he showed them. He knew false bravado when he saw it – and neither of these two were displaying it. Lazarus Gray looked like a man who had seen enough death to no longer be disturbed by it. Chapman studied him for a moment, having read about the man in the newspapers but never having met before. The head of Assistance Unlimited hair was more gray than brown, making him look older than he was, though a close examination of his features revealed that he was in his late twenties. He was tall and slender, though with a rangy musculature that indicated he could more than hold himself in a fight.
The girl was another matter entirely and it was only because Chapman had known the girl during her youth that he knew she was more than she appeared. A stunning blonde whose parents were wealthy philanthropists, Samantha had grown up with every opportunity possible. She could speak five languages fluently, was a champion swimmer and was a veritable encyclopedia on topics as varied as fashion, European history and the socio-political climate of the Orient. Chapman would normally have balked at having a female in his lab, especially when he was about to show off a corpse in this state – but Samantha Grace was no mere slip of a girl, despite how she might look at first glance.
Chapman set the container aside and pulled the sheet away, revealing a body that had been horribly mutilated. The nude form was neatly bisected at the waist and the face had been slashed from the corners of the mouth to the ears, giving her a macabre parody of a smile. The dead woman’s black hair was matted and still bore traces of leaves and insect casings. Her body was that of a fit young woman and was admirably formed but the unhealthy condition of the body was consistent with being exposed to the elements for several days before discovery.
“The victim was 24 years of age,” Chapman began. “Her body was found in a vacant lot on the west side of South Page Avenue midway between West 42nd Street and Robeson Avenue.”
NOTED PULP AUTHOR BRINGS BEST KNOWN CHARACTER TO NEW HOME!
Pro Se Productions, LLC. announces today that noted award winning Pulp author Barry Reese has entered into a contract licensing his character, THE ROOK, and all related concepts to Pro Se Productions for a period of two years!
THE ROOK, Reese's excellent take on the classic pulp hero and one of the penultimate characters leading the current Pulp Renaissance, has built up an extensive following and fan base, thanks to Reese and WILD CAT BOOKS and publisher Ron Hanna. The agreement is that the fine work that has been done on the first five volumes will remain with WILD CAT and this arrangement is for new print material as well as development of other product featuring THE ROOK.
Reese provided the following statement-
"I'm really excited about the new relationship with Pro Se. It's a tremendous opportunity that will hopefully introduce The Rook to new audiences and new media. In a relatively short period of time, Pro Se has established itself as one of the leaders in the pulp field and I consider it an honor to bring The Rook to their publishing platform. I still consider all the folks at Wild Cat Books to be great friends and will continue to work with them on future projects."
STAY TUNED TO THE PULP MACHINE FOR A FULL LENGTH INTERVIEW WITH REESE AS WELL AS STATEMENTS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM PRO SE PRODUCTIONS CONCERNING PLANS FOR BARRY REESE'S THE ROOK!