Journal of the Fighting Phantasm

fphlog

Another One on the Pile in Harm City #3

by Shaunn Grulkowski

with Nate Ragolia

 

This week’s feature was produced in conjunction with Mole Hole Radio. Listen to the story with your ears by using the player below, or by venturing here.

NARRATOR:
Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we present–for the first
time on any wave-length–thrilling adventures in the
life of Bradford Bhuta, the Fighting Phantasm!…by
day, the mild-mannered scion of a digital gossip
empire; but at night, he dons the mystical Cloak of
Charon and sends the evildoers of Baltimore’s
underworld into the afterlife. Along with his British
butler and confidant, Alistair Angloman, he wages his
never ending war against scores of criminal
masterminds, the most deadly of which, Herb Taylor:
Warlord of the Orient, continues to escape his grasp.
Tonight’s entry in The Journal of The Fighting
Phantasm finds our hero on the scene of an insidious
explosion, his faithful servant in tow. We’ll join
them, after a brief word from our sponsor.

COMMERCIAL VO:
Your local Snort n’ Blow dealer presents The Fighting
Phantasm. These radio dramatizations are designed to
forcibly demonstrate to old and young alike that crime
does not pay. Before the Phantasm’s thrilling adventure
begins, here’s a money saving suggestion for every
social substance aficionado. When you go to your local
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Unlike many other party powders, Snort n’ Blow is a
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Snort n’ Blow chops better, gives you longer euphoric
period, and requires less suction. So order your supply
tomorrow, insist on Snort n’ Blow for better results at
less cost this summer!

FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Well, my faithful servant: it appears that the
perpetrator, or perpetrators of this heinous act have
long since absconded, as have any Law Enforcement.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Hmm. Yes, quite.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Perhaps a thorough investigation of the immediate area
will reveal some insight as to who might have
perpetrated such a dastardly deed as this!

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Hmm.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
That’s the spirit, my virtuous valet! Come, let us
make our approach.

FX:
two sets of footsteps, normal pace; then stop

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
There appears to be some type of residue here. And
something else, something like…glass? But it
seems…different somehow. Alistair, do you see it?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Hmm, yes. Perhaps you should place some of it into the
analyzer.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Bah! Your reliance on technology is your greatest
weakness, my friend! The Cloak of Charon provides me
with twelve-dimensional sight! That will reveal the
nature of the substances to us.

FX:
stock mystical sounds

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Er, so…

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Well, ah, it would appear that there is a, um, quantum
conflagration in the ninth dimension that is obscuring
my spectral vision. I could solve the issue, of
course, but for expediency’s sake, maybe we should use
the analyzer.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
For expediency.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Yes, Alistair. For expediency. This one time. Next
time, twelve-dimensional sight.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Yes, of course.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
So stop faffing about, and give me the analyzer.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Yes, sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Thank you. Seriously, though, just this one time.
After this, until our crusade against crime is
complete, we’re using the cloak. I mean it.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Understood, sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
If you’ll hand me the evidence tweezers…thank you,
I’ll insert a sample of the glass-substance into the-

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
It just goes in the bottom there, sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Yes, clearly I know where it goes, thank you. It’s
just, oh, damn it. Here, you do it.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Of course, sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
It’s just that the Gloves of Gration make tasks like
this a bit fiddly. Plus, you need to serve some kind
of purpose being out here. No sense in you just
standing around lollygagging.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Agreed, sir. Hmm, there we are. Just need to set the
analyzer for solid matter, and

FX:
old-timey computer sounds

ANALYZER:
ANALYZING! ANALYZING! ANALYZING! ANALY- SUBSTANCE
IDENTIFIED.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Well?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
According to the analyzer, this is a piece of
trinitite.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Trinitite! Of course! That’s what I thought it may be.
Excellent work, my faithful friend.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
What is that?

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
What is what?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Trinitite. What is it?

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
It’s…doesn’t it say on the analyzer?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
No, you have to press a separate key. Just give me the
gist.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Well, it’s a glass-like substance that comes from…is
it volcanoes? I think it’s…no, not volcanoes. I
can’t…You know, it’s been a while since geology
class, old friend. Perhaps you should key the
analyzer.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Yes, of course. Just as a refresher.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
I would have expected that to go without saying, but
yes. Obviously.

ANALYZER:
Trinitite, also known as atomsite, is the glassy
residue left on the desert floor after a
plutonium-based nuclear bomb detonation.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Nuclear explosion, yes. See, that’s why I thought
volcano, because of the explosion. Explosion, eruption,
they’re basically the same thing. I mean, really.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Damn identical, sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Completely. So…nuclear, eh? Looking around, it seems
highly unlikely that there was a large enough nuclear
explosion on this street to result in trinitite
formation. Certainly the locals would have noticed
something like that, right?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
A nuclear bomb detonating? One would assume, sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Exactly! So, one would also assume that this
particular artifact did not originate, but was most
like transported here, somehow, wouldn’t you say?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
I’d say that was quite an astute observation, sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Thank you, Alistair. Now: equally important, but not
quite as obvious questions: how was it transported? And
from where?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Transferred from a shoe, perhaps?

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Hahaha, my dim friend. This fragment is far too large
to have been stuck in a shoe. Unless…is it
possible,however unlikely, that this piece of trinitite
was carried here on the boot of a nuclearly-altered,
gigantic super mutant?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Beg pardon?

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Think about it, my dim disciple! Could not the awesome,
unbridled power of the split atom turn ordinary people
into colossal monsters of the Nuclear Age?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Er,

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
And then, wouldn’t it follow that said monsters could
loose themselves upon an unsuspecting world? Living
only to wreak havoc?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Well,uh,yes? I suppose?

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
You damn well better suppose. In fact, record that on
the theories journal.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Of course, sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Like, towards the top. No, not at the top; I said
close to the top. Very distinct difference. We can’t
put it at the very top, not yet. We still have
investigating to do. It wouldn’t be very detectively to
just run willy-nilly with the first theory you have.
No matter how compelling that theory may be.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Very good, sir. Shall I place it in the third position
from the top?

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Well now we’re just getting into semantics, Alistair.
Put it wherever you like.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Yes sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
But not at the top. Or second from the top.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
So, third from the top then, sir?

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Alistair! I trust you to make mundane administrative
decisions. It lightens the load from my already
overtaxed crime-fighting cranium. Must I take over your
duties as well, and overburden myself further?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Of course not, sir. Forgive my incompetence.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Hahaha, think nothing of it. Now, as for alternate
theories: we need to research places where there have
been humongous nuclear explosions. Recently. Ask the
analyzer where the trinitite may have originated.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Well, ehm, the only recent atomic-

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Alistair?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Yes, sir?

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
I believe I said to ask the machine.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
But, sir

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
There’s a reason we spent so much money on the
analyzer.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Alistair, the Analyzer is a highly-technical device
meant to, uh, analyze things. You’re just a valet.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Of course, sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
A damn good valet, though. Like if they had an
olympics for valets, I’m sure you’d medal. Well, at
least top 5, depending on which nations are sending
competitors.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Mmm, thank you, sir. And I’d be positively thrilled to
ask the analyzer. However, That’s not a function that
this particular machine possesses.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
How do you mean?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Well, It’s just that the analyzer can only determine
what an object is, not speculate on its origin.
However, I can tell-

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
How do you know?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Know what?

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
That it can’t tell you where it may have come from.
The Cloak of Charon could. Usually. Well, not usually.
It always can, when there isn’t some kind of issue
with…you know what I mean.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Yes, of course. But I did use these analyzers quite a
bit in Her Royal-

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
I still feel like you should try to use the analyzer.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Sir, I

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Alistair…

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
(sighs) Very well, sir. (imitates computer noises and
voice) ANALYZING…ANALYZING…ANALYZING Ah!

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Yes?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Well, eh, according to the analyzer, there is a, uh,
98% probability that the trinitite came from either
Syria or Jordan. Of course! See, I told you the
analyzer would be able to process a simple request,
Alistair.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Correct as usual, sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Don’t feel so badly, chum. I’m sure the inferior
equipment in the sissy Royal Intelligence Service
wouldn’t have done it, but here, in America, we don’t
tolerate that kind of slipshod craftsmanship. Now, one
more piece of the puzzle: the white residue. Why don’t
you take a small amount of it from the Gloves of
Gration and put it in the analyzer as well? Or do you
think it won’t process that either?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Oh, I wouldn’t dream of thinking, sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Now, that’s the spirit!

FX:
stock computer noises

ANALYZER:
ANALYZING…ANALYZING…ANALYZING…ANAL

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Hmm, interesting.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
What’s interesting? Spit it out, man!

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
According to the device, the substance is most likely
white-phosphorus.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Yes, that is interesting. But, why?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Mmm, just a supposition, but judging from the little we
know about what transpired here, it is possible, if not
likely that the white phosphorus is from some type of
explosive; a bomb, or grenade, or the like.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Well, obviously that. But interesting how else?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Well, those types weapons come from very few sources
these days.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Go on.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Sources like multi-national corporations,

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Yes.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Sources like evil multi-national corporations.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Right. Evil multi-national corporations who-

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Evil, muti-national corporations that start with Tay-

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
TAYLORCORP! Of course! And Syria and Jordan are IN
THE ORIENT!

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Well, technically they’re in Asia, so…yes?

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Ha! Turns out I didn’t need the Cloak of Charon, or the
analyzer after all! It’s clear that my fiendish
arch-nemesis, Herb Taylor, Warlord of the Orient is
behind this perfidious profanity!

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Certainly worth a look, sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
You’re damn right it is, Angloman. Hell, it’s likely
that Taylorcorp is manufacturing Super Mutants as we
speak!

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
It’s a damned certainty, sir.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
What are you waiting for? To the Phantasmobile! Who
knows what sickening scheme he-wait. Did you hear
that?

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
Hmm, there appears to be an interloper approaching.

THE FIGHTING PHANTASM:
Probably one of Taylor’s assassins coming to clean up
the mess. Ha! Well the Pistols of Perseus will make
short work of them!

FX:
Pistol Shots

LOUISE LLOYD:
(from distance) MotherFUCKER!

NARRATOR:
Will The Fighting Phantasm finally capture his nemesis,
Herb Taylor: Warlord of the Orient? Will The mystery of
the Unhinged, Agendaless Nuclear Super Mutant be
solved? Will Lieutenant Lloyd recover from a second
gunshot wound in as many days? Find out in the next
episode of THE JOURNAL OF THE FIGHTING PHANTASM,
brought to you by Nate’s Rags to Rinses
Laudromat-Automat. Get down to Nate’s and wash your
rags and grab a hot meal, you filthy, starving
bastards.

 

 

Shaunn Grulkowski is the creator of Retcontinuum, several published short stories, and a perpetually annoyed wife.

Nate Ragolia is the author of There You Feel Free; a novella. Creator of the Illiterate Badger and Lark & Robin web comics, and occasional chatterer on music, film, &c.

 

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