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Scott Epstein, Editor

 
The robot Robot by Rhys Griffiths

Murder Extempore

by Ken Lizzi
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Show Time” flared a hologram in meter high neon-crimson letters above the heads of the audience. The auto-vend bar from the party supply rental closed its glass security partition with a hushed whine of servo-motors and shut itself down. The house floods dimmed, and in the gloom the venue could be mistaken by the self-deceived to be a grand auditorium instead of the dingy, perpetually available-for-lease warehouse that it was. A sense of anticipation swelled as the light faded, an almost audible hum. Then an actual hum gyred up, an ambient fuzz seeming to arise from nowhere and everywhere. A tone punctured the droning. Then again. A syncopated beat clicking, popping with electronic crispness. A rhythm crept in, layering over the beat and the background hum that slipped gradually into a base line. Multicolored LED’s, strip-adhered to bare concrete walls, flickered pencil-thin beams in counter-point. The rhythm, initially simple, invested itself with increasing complexity, incorporating additional brief passages, like a portrait composed of a thousand smaller images—a masterfully blended assemblage of snippets cut from scores of distinct melodies, acrobatic guitar riffs, and sampled vocalizations. The music beckoned and adjured: contrived, coldly artificial, and at the same time organically free form.

And so it continued, swelling, rising to mock crescendos, an encompassing, multi-layered embrace of music accompanied by the tapping of a hundred feet on concrete flooring—until shredded by a strangled gasp and a curtailed wail of despair.

The music stopped. The momentary silent tension rivaled the music for ambient power. Then the house lights snapped to full glare.

The cold, antiquated industrial florescents revealed a standing audience of fifty and, sprawled in a shadowed corner, a corpse: an elderly man, stiffened claws clasped at his chest, mouth and eyes open in final horror.

 

So who was the old man, anyway?” Monica Pulver asked after her recitation.

Braun stepped to the table, leaned forward, weight braced on forearms bared beneath rolled up sleeves. “Allow me to offer my sympathy for the loss of your father.” If he was aware of the potential irony of offering that sentiment to the murderer he kept it completely masked by his deadpan delivery.

“Dammit, Braun,” said Mullins. “Ms. Pulver, were you unaware that the deceased was your father? That he was in attendance?”

“What? Are you both serious? Dead?” She had gone pale, but stone-faced.

“Dead serious,” said Braun.

“Look, I hate to have to ask you, but we’ll need you to identify the body. We’ll give you a minute, then someone will take you around to the morgue, then see you home.”


Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 |

About the Author

Ken Lizzi

Ken Lizzi is an attorney living in Portland, Oregon, USA, with his lovely wife Isa and an ever-growing collection of books and home-brewing equipment. Previous publications include “Trustworthy” in the anthology Noir (Dark Horse Books, 2009), “Breaking the Line” in the anthology Short-Story.Me! Best Genre Short Stories Anthology #1 (Short-Story.Me, 2010), “Bravo” in the anthology Pirates & Swashbucklers (Pulp Empire, 2011), and “Escapement” in the anthology Ancient New (Deep Wood Publishing, forthcoming 2012.)

Story Discussion

Stories by Ken Lizzi

Murder Extempore

Murder Extempore

“So who was the old man, anyway?” Monica Pulver asked after her recitation.

Braun stepped to the table, leaned forward, weight braced on forearms bared beneath rolled up sleeves. “Allow me to offer my sympathy for the loss of your father.” If he was aware of the potential irony of offering that sentiment to the murderer he kept it completely masked by his deadpan delivery.

“Dammit, Braun,” said Mullins. “Ms. Pulver, were you unaware that the deceased was your father? That he was in attendance?”

“What? Are you both serious? Dead?” She had gone pale, but stone-faced.

What happened to the elder Mr. Pulver? Is his daughter responsible? If, not, then, who? Find out!

Read More

Related Stories

Murder Extempore

Murder Extempore

“So who was the old man, anyway?” Monica Pulver asked after her recitation.

Braun stepped to the table, leaned forward, weight braced on forearms bared beneath rolled up sleeves. “Allow me to offer my sympathy for the loss of your father.” If he was aware of the potential irony of offering that sentiment to the murderer he kept it completely masked by his deadpan delivery.

“Dammit, Braun,” said Mullins. “Ms. Pulver, were you unaware that the deceased was your father? That he was in attendance?”

“What? Are you both serious? Dead?” She had gone pale, but stone-faced.

What happened to the elder Mr. Pulver? Is his daughter responsible? If, not, then, who? Find out!

Read More
Eye of the Beholder by Danica Green

Eye of the Beholder

“Hello Alice,” Brian said, not looking her in the eyes. She reached out a hand and tilted his chin up, opened her mouth to ask him why he was there but was silenced by a kiss before she could voice it. Brian kicked the door closed behind him as she stumbled back, carnally locked, then started to respond to his advances. When they broke apart, both were panting, hands arranged haphazardly on each other’s bodies.

“Brian,” Alice said warningly, “your wife.”

See what happens next in this new story by Danica Green

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Finger Food by Gary Ives

Finger Food

My second day outta stir had gone down so smooth, like greased tracks smooth. The Social Services lady, Mrs. Nixon, had liked me. I could sense it. Twenty-two years at Attica was equivalent to a Ph.D. in reading emotions. Yeah twenty-two years served on a life sentence. Me, I’d gone down hard for offing a shitbag Puerto Rican who’d burned me for two kilos. I played up to the near-sighted old hen.

“Yes ma’am, whatever it takes, ma’am. All I want, really… what I need… is employment. I understand that’s the key, Mrs. Nixon. You get me a jay… oh… bee, job, and I swear by the Holy Bible ain’t no way Tony Spallano is ever gonna go back to them bad old ways. No ma’am.”

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“Alitza!” someone yelled. She couldn’t have responded if she’d wanted to, and didn’t try…

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“The Launch Site is five miles downrange,” explained the officer. “You can follow the liftoff in more detail in the monitor booth to the right, but most people just prefer to look through the observation window. The glass absorbs both the launch laser and the alignment laser wavelengths, so you don’t have to worry about stray reflections. Is this your first visit to Kantrowitz, Mr. Gold?”

“Yes,” said the older man, abstractedly, as he craned his neck to look around. “I’ve been to the complexes in Colorado and Nepal several times, but I haven’t had a chance to come down here until now.”

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The lieutenant quickly manipulated the touchmonitor. “That’s going up in just over two hours. By now your payload has been encapsulated in a Cone and set on its own Frustrum. It will be moving through the Pipe, waiting for its turn on the Pad. We use ordinary water ice for the Frustra, with a special mix of alkali salts and filaments to act as initiator sites for the Laser Sustained Detonation Wave. Before we switched to water ice we used plastics and gels, and we fielded a lot of complains about upper-air pollution from the U.N. and the Ecuadoran Ministeria.”

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“I burned the papers. The stories are in my head.”

The prime minister turned to the captain of the soldiers. “You heard what he said?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And you heard what the king said. The king wants the stories and not the story teller.”

“Yes, sir.”

“The stories are in this man’s head.”

“Yes, sir.”

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Murder Extempore

by Ken Lizzi

The robot Robot by Rhys Griffiths

“So who was the old man, anyway?” Monica Pulver asked after her recitation.

Braun stepped to the table, leaned forward, weight braced on forearms bared beneath rolled up sleeves. “Allow me to offer my sympathy for the loss of your father.” If he was aware of the potential irony of offering that sentiment to the murderer he kept it completely masked by his deadpan delivery.

“Dammit, Braun,” said Mullins. “Ms. Pulver, were you unaware that the deceased was your father? That he was in attendance?”

“What? Are you both serious? Dead?” She had gone pale, but stone-faced.

What happened to the elder Mr. Pulver? Is his daughter responsible? If, not, then, who? Find out!

Read More

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The Person Who Puts Down the Keys by DeAnna Knippling

FTL pilots were a rare breed. They traveled the galaxy faster than light. Faster than it was possible to go. Strange things happened to them. They changed.

People who signed up were people with a death wish, or people with long-term ambitions. The desire to see one era disappear and be replaced by something else. At first, he’d thought he was one of the second kind.

What will Tom actually find when he returns? Find out in this new story by DeAnna Knippling.

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“I burned the papers. The stories are in my head.”

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“Yes, sir.”

“And you heard what the king said. The king wants the stories and not the story teller.”

“Yes, sir.”

“The stories are in this man’s head.”

“Yes, sir.”

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by Ken Lizzi

The robot Robot by Rhys Griffiths

“So who was the old man, anyway?” Monica Pulver asked after her recitation.

Braun stepped to the table, leaned forward, weight braced on forearms bared beneath rolled up sleeves. “Allow me to offer my sympathy for the loss of your father.” If he was aware of the potential irony of offering that sentiment to the murderer he kept it completely masked by his deadpan delivery.

“Dammit, Braun,” said Mullins. “Ms. Pulver, were you unaware that the deceased was your father? That he was in attendance?”

“What? Are you both serious? Dead?” She had gone pale, but stone-faced.

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This sparked an activation in Robot’s GuardDog protocols, and it seized Mr. Rekubak, pinning his arm behind his back. When the conflict had dissolved and Mr. Rekubak’s heart rate had dropped, Robot let go. Mr. Rekubak took this as his cue to spin around and punch Robot in the face. Normally, a human being would find it nigh on impossible to damage a robot barehanded, due to their inferior strength and general ignorance of robotic functions, so Robot allowed the blow to his him square on. There was a loud noise, which Robot assumed was the bones in Mr. Rekubak’s hand.

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FTL pilots were a rare breed. They traveled the galaxy faster than light. Faster than it was possible to go. Strange things happened to them. They changed.

People who signed up were people with a death wish, or people with long-term ambitions. The desire to see one era disappear and be replaced by something else. At first, he’d thought he was one of the second kind.

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“Hello Alice,” Brian said, not looking her in the eyes. She reached out a hand and tilted his chin up, opened her mouth to ask him why he was there but was silenced by a kiss before she could voice it. Brian kicked the door closed behind him as she stumbled back, carnally locked, then started to respond to his advances. When they broke apart, both were panting, hands arranged haphazardly on each other’s bodies.

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by Barbara E. Walton

In The Shadow of the Watch by Barbara E. Walton

Alitza scrambled backward until she hit a barrel then pulled herself up on it, trying to keep her feet on the wet and thrashing deck. The serpent caught her movement and turned its head toward her, baring its teeth. Its neck was narrow and writhing, its claws lashing at the ship.

“Alitza!” someone yelled. She couldn’t have responded if she’d wanted to, and didn’t try…

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They have their online analogues, too.

The thing about these magazines—and frankly they publish really good stuff—is that you have to buy the whole magazine. Suppose you’re flipping through one at a newsstand, and you see one story that looks interesting. Well, to get that one story, you’ve got to buy the whole magazine; and they retail for about $5. $6 for an electronic edition at FictionWise.

Why? In the digital age, on this Earth, why?

And answering that question—why—is why we’re here.

At Pulp Corner, you can buy only the stories that you want. We’ll give you about 1/3 of the story to sample for free, and if you want it, you can buy the whole story for $.25-$.75, depending on length. (And we’re sell in PDF and ePub to start with.)

And w’ll share a good percentage (details still to be worked out) of the revenues from those sales—and from display/banner/CPK ad revenue too—with our writers. We’ll pay on the back-end, on an ongoing basis (essentially royalties) rather than up-front for-hire.

This means that we don’t have limits on how many stories we can buy. We’ll publish anything we deem interesting and competent. No more, “Your story is good, but we sold the last spot in the issue to someone whose work is more popular.” And we intend to take full advantage of web technologies. We plan to eventually have a reader-rating system, and readers will be able to sort by other readers’ ratings.

Oh. And while my background is primarily in science fiction, we plan to publish in any and all genres: Mystery, horror, western, romance… Anything character-and-plot oriented.

Personally, I’m really excited about this new venture. And I want to hear from you. Our forum isn’t quite built yet (although the site does function), but in the meantime, you can email me at scott.epstein@pulpcorner.com.

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I’ve written and read science fiction and mysteries since I was 7. More recently, I have 18 years’ experience in publishing, starting as an Editorial Assistant at Oxford University Press, then moving into Marketing at Elsevier Science, and then through a few other companies. I’m currently a Senior Product Manager at Springer SBM. This means: I have extensive experience in marketing (particularly the promotion of electronic publications), promotion, editorial, production, publishing operations, electronic publishing… You name it.

What’s Different About Us

In case you haven’t read my editorial on what makes PulpCorner.com different, and what it means for you the prospective contributor, here’s the executive summary. We aren‘t selling subscriptions, and we’re not looking to give your story away for free. Rather, we want to get your story into the hands of the readers who want it, without making them pay for the stories they don’t want. So your story will be “sold” on its own, in epub and PDF, for a competitive price. And—we split the revenue with you. This is a royalty—like with a book—only at a higher percentage.

This means two main things for you as writer. First: You will never hear from us a sentence like, “You’re story is good, but we don’t have room for it.” Because I publish electronically, and because I pay you a share of the sales revenue, I have no hard limiting factors—I can accept everything I judge to be a good story. This isn’t self-publishing; we will be reviewing and judging your story, editing it, designing and distributing it (and, just to be extra clear, at no fee).

I have 18 years’ experience in promoting published work, and I have an interest in maximizing story sales. But you can also do your part in promoting your own work on the PulpCorner.com.

Our Guidelines

We’re looking for character and plot driven genre fiction.

Submit via Submishmash here

My background is primarily in Science Fiction, and that’s where we’re starting. But going forward, we’ll be rolling out sub-sites in other genres like fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, western… If you see something missing from this list, please contact me.

Length

I’m looking for short to mid-length material; anything from flash-sized to 30,000 words or so.

The Process

We‘re using a system called Submishmash, accessible here. Please let us know if you run into any problems using the system.

Details

Please submit in standard manuscript format. SFWA guidelines are here.

Please no simultaneous submissions

I am looking for first electronic publishing rights. I do’t mind if you’ve had your story up for free on your own site or blog, but not in someone else’s magazine or site.

Eventually, I would like to sell your story through the iBookstore and Google Books (sharing the net revenue with you). You may opt out of that if you wish. You may also retain copyright if you wish.

I would also like to retain the right to electronically anthologize your work. You may also opt out of that, as well.

Submissions are now live!

Submit to the Pulp Corner

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