NEW PULP REVIVAL (Story) by Richard F. Yates

Started 12 May 2018 – A Serialized Story


CHAPTER 001 – “Ambush”

Contagious Jake stood on the corner alleyway between Hemlock and Thunderwood. He occasionally turned his head from side to side, shifting his line of sight, but otherwise he remained motionless. He was watching the back of The Angora Snake—a night spot in Henpeck with a less than wholesome reputation. Jake had been standing there since early afternoon. It was nearing 3:30 A.M., and though the wind put not just a chill but a BITE to the night, Jake didn’t move. Didn’t even fidget.

A siren sounded in the distance. There were screams from time to time as well—but Jake was used to these. He always heard screaming. Always. He wasn’t even sure anymore if it was coming from inside his own head or from countless unseen victims. He’d even toyed with the idea that he was somehow hearing the torments of Hell—as if his brain was just naturally tuned to that station…

Eventually, a large white car with impenetrably dark windows entered the alley at the other end of the block from where Jake was stationed and rolled up to the backdoor of The Angora Snake. It stopped, but the headlights were kept on and the engine remained running. The screaming in Jake’s head began to fade, and the loud, electronic THUMP THUMP THUMP of dance music suddenly filled the alley, along with flashing lights and a bit of artificial smoke, as the door to the night club opened wide.

Several figures casually stepped out into the alleyway. The first was a slightly hunched individual with bluish skin, dark blue hair, and eyes that where large and round with no whites. He had a long, slender nose and a thin slash of a mouth that reached across his face almost from ear to ear. He was followed by two women in furs and silver-white pant-suits, both laughing as the shuffled down the ramp leading from the doorway to the alley. One woman had long, black hair the fell straight down her back, bangs cut across her eye-line, and eyes like the first individual’s. The other woman had blonde hair, teased and hair-sprayed into a gigantic 1960’s space hairdo. She appeared visibly intoxicated, and she stumbled and laughed as she followed the other woman down the ramp.

The last figure to come through the door was a tall, rail thin androgyne with pearly white skin, a bald head, and black wrap-around shades on his/her face. The figure was a full head taller than the others, and that included the blonde’s space hair. Just inside the door was what appeared to be a brown bear, standing on two legs, arms folded across his chest, wearing a leather biker’s cap. The bear growled as the tall, bald individual caressed his furry cheek with thin, slender fingers as he walked by.

Jake pulled a gun from his jacket and aimed it at the tall figure wearing the wrap-around glasses. Blue skin reached the car and opened the driver’s side rear door. Jake pulled the trigger.

Instantly, the tall, bald figure grabbed the blonde woman under her arms, pulling her backwards and lifting her off the ground. This put her skull directly into the path of Jake’s bullet, which entered her forehead and tore through her memories, motor-skills, and life functions. The tall figure howled, an insane, high-pitched cackle, and tossed the lifeless woman to the ground.

As Jake shifted his aim to fire again, the tall figure made a kissing noise, touched his fingers to his lips, and waved at Jake. The blue skinned figure, who had been holding the back door of the car open, smiled from his slash of a mouth, showing far too many pointy teeth, then flashed towards the front of the car, then diagonally across the alley next to a dumpster, then to the doorway of an adjacent building. Jake tried to track him as he moved, but it was impossible.

Then Jake felt a pressure in his chest, and ice gripped his lungs. He closed his eyes—tried to scream but couldn’t find his breath and opened his eyes to find that he was looking directly into the dark blue and black circles of blue skin’s monstrous, grinning face. Jake dropped his gun and looked down at the knife hilt sticking out of his chest. The blue figure pulled the knife, slowly, from Jake’s chest and pushed him backwards. He fell to the ground, eyes still open, but no longer seeing anything.

The grinning blue figure brought his crimson stained knife to his mouth and licked the blade—then spat the blood onto the ground.

“This one was rotten,” he yelled over his shoulder at the tall figure, who was clapping a little golf clap, his fingertips up just under his pointed chin. As the dark-haired woman slid into the car, the back door of The Angora Snake closed, and heavy bolts could be heard slamming into place. The tall androgyne folded awkwardly and climbed into the car as well. Meanwhile, the blue man had flashed from the corner where Jake fell to the front of the car. He spotted the blonde on the ground and reached down and grabbed the woman by the arm and drug her to the trunk, opened it, and tossed her, none too delicately, inside. He closed the trunk, flashed to the front passenger door, and climbed in. The car drove off, leaving the remains of Contagious Jake on the street corner. (He wasn’t edible, apparently.)

In the distance, a siren wailed, and a scream answered from a block or two away—but Jake didn’t hear it.

CHAPTER 002 – “Gumshoe or Two”

Caroline pushed her way into the office and slammed the door. She had her eyes on the desk, expecting to see the gray-haired Ollie Smithson sitting in his usual chair. He wasn’t.

“What is it? Caroline?” Ollie’s rough voice came at her from the side. He’d been napping on the worn out love-seat but sat up; rubbed his eyes.

“Jake’s dead.”

“What? Who’s Jake?”

“Jake! Jake Chapman! Reporter. Worked for the Henpeck Observer… Disappeared about a year ago. His wife hired us to find him… Come on!” She slammed her hands to her hips, then realized what she was being cliché and dropped them.

“Right, right… Chapman,” Ollie got up and stretched his back. “So what happened to him? Where was he?” He walked over to an end table, grabbed a semi-clean mug, and poured himself half-a-cup of black.

“I don’t know where he’s been,” Caroline said. She sat down on the vacated love-seat. Ollie put his coffee in a tiny nuker and hit ‘30 seconds.’ Caroline brushed her hand across her face, then pulled her shoulder length, auburn hair into a ponytail, fished a hair-tie out of her jacket pocket, and secured the bundle of hair behind her head.

“All I know,” she said, “is they found his body this morning somewhere around Thunderwood Avenue. Harold called me from the station—said he remembered that we’d been looking for the guy, but not to mention where we’d heard the news.”

“Thunderwood? Was he at The Angora?” Ollie’s coffee dinged. He grabbed it and bent carefully into the creaky chair behind his desk. He pushed a pile of papers out of the way and set his cup down, then he opened a drawer and pulled out a massive bottle of ibuprofen. He dumped a handful onto his palm and swallowed it with a gulp of coffee.

“I don’t know,” she said. He was stabbed in an alley, and he had a gun on him that Harold said had recently been fired…”

“Shit…” Ollie threw the pill bottle back in the drawer. “So he’s missing for almost a year—then finally shows up, DEAD, after taking a shot at someone in an alley near The Angora Snake…” He shook his head.

“He was a reporter,” Caroline said, “a GOOD one, so he had to know that place’s reputation. Mostly non-humans. Why would he go there? And, Jesus, Ollie—what are we supposed to tell Mrs. Chapman?” Ollie shrugged.

“I think she’d given him up for dead a few months ago,” Caroline said, “but to find out he’d been alive until LAST NIGHT? And then he gets killed behind an N.H. bar…”

“Has the death been announced yet? Officially?” Ollie asked.

“No. Harold said they’re keeping it hush until they know more,” she said.

“That’s Newman? Maybe I should go talk to him. See what else they’ve found out. Let’s not go barking to Mrs. Chapman until we get the whole story.”

“Okay.” Caroline took a deep breath and stood up. “You head to the station—I’ll go check out the alley.”

“Now hold on…” Ollie started to protest.

“Jeeezus, Ollie. Is this 1950? I can ‘DETECT’ as well as you can!”

“I know, I know—I’m just saying… That’s a rough neighborhood.”

“I am aware of that, Mr. Macho Smithson. That’s why I’m not going alone…” She flashed her first smile since storming into the office, then headed for the door.

“Goddam it… Not HIM…” Ollie swigged the last of his coffee. “I’m gonna need something stronger if I’ve got to deal with THAT bastard for the next few days.” He opened the BOTTOM drawer of his desk…