The Journal of the Fighting Phantasm #2

by Shaunn Grulkowski

Broadcasting_a_radio_play_at_NBC_studio
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AM_broadcasting#/media/File:Broadcasting_a_radio_play_at_NBC_studio.jpg

fphlog

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.

ANNOUNCER:

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, TONIGHT WE PRESENT–THE SECOND EDITION
OF THE 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 THE VILLAINOUS
HERB TAYLOR PLOTTING AND HATCHING ANOTHER IN HIS ENDLESS
MARCH OF EVIL BUSINESS-SCHEMES; ONLY TO COME FACE-TO-FACE
WITH BRADFORD BHUTA-THE ALTER-EGO OF OUR HERO, THE FIGHTING
PHANTASM! WE’LL JOIN THIS GRIPPING ADVENTURE AFTER A BRIEF
WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR.

COMMERCIAL V/O:
Good evening, folks. Just like you, I can’t wait to
get to the fun and excitement of the Fighting Phantasm;
but first, I need to talk to you about something
serious. If you have little ones listening, it may be
a good time to send them off to butch up with their
MACHO MARCUS: WAR MAN anti-dolls, whose chiseled good
looks and body like a Greek god will make a man out of
any boy, or to learn their craft with WENDY WALLFLOWER
INSTANT OVENS, remember-the secret ingredient is
plutonium. Everyone out? Good. Folks, I need to talk to
you about an impending blight on our peaceful and
orderly society. That blight, you ask? Lady Voters.
Now, just because those pantywaists in Congress saw fit
to let these dippy dames have an equal say in our
electorate, doesn’t mean you have to shirk your
personal moral obligations and let something like
this happen:

DITZY FEMALE V/O (THINK HARLEY QUINN FROM BATMAN: TAS):
Oooh, applesauce. Look at the moustache on that Senator
Furnifold Simmons! Isn’t that the darby? I’m gonna
tell all my gal pals to vote Simmons, even though I
don’t know nothin’ about politickin’.

COMMERCIAL V/O:
Or…

DITZY FEMALE V/O:
Ugh! This darn menstruation makes me so steamed that I
think I’ll, I’ll, vote for William Z Foster, Secretary
of the American Communist party!

COMMERCIAL V/O:
A little red turns the little lady red. Terrifying
thought, no? Well, fellas, they say idle hands are the
devil’s workshop, so why not keep your gal’s hands busy
cooking up a selection of Clarence Birdseye’s Frozen
Vegetables? Birdseye Frozen Vegetables: now available
in corn.

MUSIC
Theme Plays

VFX
Phone Rings

HERB TAYLOR: WARLORD OF THE ORIENT
Yeah, Yeah? Well okay then. [pause] Well, that’s just
how it is then. No, it doesn’t matter. I guess I’ll
just have to sell the super nukes to them goofy little
bastards in Uzbekistan. [pause] Yeah, well, you had
your chance there, Frank. I offered you them super
nukes at a real good price, but you gimme all that
horseshit about gross national product. I’ll tell ya
what’s gonna be gross, there, Frank, is what’s left of
the Korean Penninsula after them Uzbekis nuke the
beejeezus out of it. [pause] Yeah? Well up yours too,
pal. I hope them hemorrhoids detach and go up to your
brain. [pause] I don’t care how they work!

VFX
Phone Slams

TAYLOR:
Jeezy Cripes, the nonesense I got to deal with.

VFX
Intercom Noise

TAYLOR:
Hey, there, Krystal?

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
Yeah, wuddya want?

TAYLOR:
Hey, what’d I say about bein’ more professional on the
innercom there? Just ’cause your my sister’s niece
don’t mean I won’t fire ya.

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
Alright already, sorry. Yes, Mister Taylor?

TAYLOR:
Yeah, that’s much better, there. So, I need you to
remember to send one of them ah,
whaddayacallit…StrikeBorgs to Frank Petrella’s
birthday party, and blow the place up a little bit,
there.

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
Which one’s that? The poison dinosaur thing?

TAYLOR:
No, no, that’s the ToxiRaptor. StrikeBorgs are the
robot-guys with all the bombs and whatsits.

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
Ok, StrikeBorgs to Fred Carella’s birthday.

TAYLOR:
Frank Petrella.

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
Huh?

TAYLOR:
StrikeBorgs to Frank Petrella’s birthday. Pe-trell-a.
Frank.

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
No, I’m pretty sure you said Fred Carella.

TAYLOR:
No, I for sure said Frank Petrella! Fred Carella’s my
dang proctologist, why’d I wanna blow him up?

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
I dunno, quackery?

TAYLOR:
He don’t even celebrate no birthdays, he’s a dang
Jehova!

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
Okay, okay, jeezus. I’m writin’ it down. Fuh-Rank
Puh-Trell-Uh. When am I sending it?

TAYLOR:
On his birthday party, I said!

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
When’s that?

TAYLOR:
I dunno, Krystal; probly on his birthday.

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
Yeah? When’s his birthday?

TAYLOR:
KRYSTAL, USE THE DANG CALENDAR!

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
You don’t haveta shout. Arright, it says Frank
Petrella’s birthday is on May 20th. Oh, I can’t do
that.

TAYLOR:
Can’t do what?

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
May 20th. I need to take that day off, I thought i put
it the days off form.

TAYLOR:
What?

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
May 20th is the day of my little nephew’s karate
recital down at the Community Pool. I don’t wanna go,
but my sister says that I’m his favorite Aunt an’
everything, and like it’s kinda my fault that he’s in
Karate in the first place, ’cause I was tryin’ to teach
him how to rollerblade, but he was like, real
uncoordinated and he fell and hit his head on the
bumper of my stepdad’s work truck. After that, he
turned like, kinda stupid; so my sister got all up in
,y face about how two-year olds shouldn’t be
rollerskatin’, and I was like ’well he’s gotta do some
exercise, ’cause he’s fat as shit; an I figure that
’blading is like low impact for his fat baby knees.’
The baby wasn’t natural skinny like me and his mom,
’cause his dad was like half-Samoan, right? Anyhow, so
to get his confidence up from bein’ a dumbshit, the
social worker says he needs to do some kinda activity.
He said like band or something, but I don’t know if you
know, but tubas are like, expensive as shit. So, the
girl at the nail salon told my sister that they had
free karate practice down the liberry on Thursdays,
which sucks for me ’cause my sister has her dumb
alcohol classes, so I gotta take him; and it’s like a
big pain in the ass, cause my nephew’s still dumb, and
sort of fat, so getting him in those karate pajamas is
like a Sisyphean task. So, on the 20th he’s goin for
his brown belt, which’ll be good, cause he did lose a
little bit of weight, and them karate pajamas are kinda
floppin around all over the place.

TAYLOR:
Jeezy Cripes, Krystal! You don’t gotta drive the damn
robot over yourself.

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
I don’t?

TAYLOR:
No! We got that dang courier service for a reason; just
get on the horn with someone in fulfillment, and have
them send the dang StrikeBorg over to his party. Just
make sure you do it today, before they get all backed
up from the Easter orders.

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
Oh, so I can still go to the Karate thing then.

TAYLOR:
YES!

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
Okay, good, cause my sister’d be super pissed.

TAYLOR:
Well, we can’t have that then.

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
Yeah, no shit. I can’t move out now, ’specially since
she got the sump pump fixed, and my bedroom don’t smell
like goblin shit no more. Is that all you needed?

TAYLOR:
[sighs] For now, yeah. Did I have any messages?

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
No.

TAYLOR:
Well, I guess that’s it then.

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
There is someone here to see you, though.

TAYLOR:
What? Who?

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
I dunno, Brad something. He’s here with his…elderly
boyfriend or somethin.

BRADFORD BHUTA/FIGHTING PHANTASM:
[from distance] Valet! My valet!

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
Yeah, that’s what they all say. Anyway, they seem
pretty weird. He’s wearing a puffy-ass tracksuit, with
a cape sticking out.

BHUTA:
[from distance] I’m clearly not wear-wait

VFX
Rustling Sounds

BHUTA:
[from distance] Clearly not wearing any kind of cloak!

KRYSTAL, WITH A ’K’:
Didja get all that?

TAYLOR:
Uh…yeah, yeah. Send him in then.

VFX
Door Opening

BHUTA:
[starting distant, growing closer]…thinks we’re
lovers. I mean, who could blame you for wanting to
mount me, but me want you? In the biblical sense?
Inconceivable.

ALISTAIR ANGLOMAN:
[sighs] Clearly, I am repulsive, sir.

BHUTA:
Well, I mean, come on, look at you. All old, and
British, and pasty. You’re practically translucent.
Ew.

TAYLOR:
So, ah, can I help you fellas there?

BHUTA:
[trying, but failing to mask his “Phantasm Voice”] That
depends, you malevolent magnate! I have some questions
you should be able to answer.

TAYLOR:
Ah, okie dokie. Who are you fellas, again?

BHUTA:
I think I’ll answer the questions around here!

ANGLOMAN:
I think you mean ’ask’ sir.

BHUTA:
Did I say answer again?

ANGLOMAN:
Yes sir.

BHUTA:
Damnit. The problems in the ninth dimension seem to
still be affecting me.

ANGLOMAN:
Of course, sir.

TAYLOR:
Okay, that all sounds swell, but who are ya, exactly?

ANGLOMAN:
A thousand pardons, Mister Taylor. My name is Alistair
Angloman. To my right is my employer, the

BHUTA:
Figh-

VFX
Slap

ANGLOMAN:
my employer, the venerable publisher of “What they
doin’?” magazine, Bradford Bhuta. We’re here to
conduct the interview for our “Damn, he rich” series
for the magazine. Your assistant, Krystal, with a ’k’
assured us that she had blocked out this time with you.

BHUTA:
Yes, of course! That’s it!

TAYLOR:
Ookay. Lemme just double check here

VFX
Intercom Noise

TAYLOR:
Hey, there, Krystal?

VFX
Terrible Buckcherry song plays

TAYLOR:
Oh, God dang it. Whelp, I guess now’s as good a time
as any. So, an interview, yeah? I haven’t really done
any of these before. Do they take a long time, ’cause
I promised Helen I’d get these sausages cooked up for
Ritchie’s debutantmitzvah.

BHUTA:
It’ll take as long as it must, you pernicious
plutocrat!

TAYLOR:
Ah, what’s wrong with your voice, there?

BHUTA:
What do you mean? My tremendous tones are always one
hundred percent full and masculine, yet seductively
hypnotic.

TAYLOR:
Yeah, ah, sure, but you sound a little weird. Like
you’re tryin’ to like disguise yourself, there.

VFX
long rustling

BHUTA:
What?!? Who sold us out? That cantankerous Krystal,
with a “K?” [regular phantasm voice] Well, I guess the
fig is up! No matter-

VFX
Guns cock

BHUTA:
The Pistols of Per-

ANGLOMAN:
Ha, ha, ha, oh sir, you’re such a Jokester. A thousand
pardons, Mister Taylor. My employer is simply, eh,
rehearsing for a…play? Right, a stage production for
the local adult learning annex. He’s quite the method
actor.

BHUTA:
A play! Of course! Like all great actors, it isn’t
enough for me to simply take a role. I must inhabit
it.

TAYLOR:
Oh yeah?

ANGLOMAN:
Yeah, indeed. You should have seen him in Equus.
Spellbinding.

TAYLOR:
What’s that one about?

BHUTA:
I don’t know, horses or some [bleep].

TAYLOR:
Oh, gotcha. So what’s this play you’re doin’ now,
then?

BHUTA:
Well, if you must know…I’m currently inhabiting the
role of THE FIGHTING PHANTASM.

TAYLOR:
The what now?

BHUTA:
THE FIGHTING PHANTASM.

TAYLOR:
Yeah, I’m still not followin’ you , there. What’s that,
like some kinda spook ’em up?

BHUTA:
A what?

TAYLOR:
A spook ’em up. You know, like a Halloween puppet
show, for the kids.

BHUTA:
Are you [bleep] me? Is he [bleep] us? I said THE
FIGHTING PHANTASM.

TAYLOR:
Not ringing any bells, pal.

BHUTA:
THE FIGHTING PHANTASM, the Ghost who Shoots?

TAYLOR:
Nope.

BHUTA:
The Golden Man of Silver?

TAYLOR:
Nuh-uh.

BHUTA:
The Lawful Vigilante?

TAYLOR:
Still nothin’.

ANGLOMAN:
The Pouncing Pugilist?

TAYLOR:
Nah.

BHUTA:
The Twelve-Dimension Dandy?

TAYLOR:
Hey, is this gonna go on a whole lot longer? It feels
like it’s wearing kinda thin.

BHUTA:
[mumbling] Can’t believe he’s acting like he doesn’t
know who THE FIGHTING PHANTASM is. Like, who doesn’t
know their arch nemesis. Give me a [bleep] break.

ANGLOMAN:
[whispering] No need to worry, sir. I’m certain he’s
simply being coy as to not reveal the nature of his
sinister plan.

BHUTA:
[whispering] Well, yes obviously. I’m sooo glad I
brought you with me so you could tell me things that
even an ignorant infant would be able to puzzle out for
themselves. Really, Alistair, thank you. I mean it.

ANGLOMAN:
[whispering]Sir, is that quite-

BHUTA:
[whispering] No, I really, really mean it. Thank you.

ANGLOMAN:
[whispering] Sir, i really can’t tell if you-

BHUTA:
[whispering] mean it. Well, I do. Truly.

TAYLOR:
Hey, ah, fellas, these weenies ain’t gonna grill
themselves, so if we can get a move on, that’d be
fantastic.

ANGLOMAN:
Yes, of course. Sorry, sir.

TAYLOR:
So, you, ah just ask me some questions, and I answer
’em?

ANGLOMAN:
That’s generally how interviews work, yes.

TAYLOR:
Okay, then. Shoot.

ANGLOMAN:
Alright. First-

BHUTA:
Is, or is not Taylorcorp constructing an elite cadre of
colossal super mutants?

ANGLOMAN:
Forgive-

TAYLOR:
Well, ya don’t construct them, so much as ya grow ’em.
And while I’d like to tell ya we were, as it turns out,
we’ve been having a little trouble sourcing the some of
the raw materials after The Trans-Dimensional
Partnership. Turns out, The West London Caliphate in
the ninth dimension owns the exclusive rights to an
enzyme we need to add to the batches that keeps their
heads from popping off during the accelerated growth
procedure. So, in short, a cadre? Nah, but we kick out
a couple here and there to keep the mills runnin’.

BHUTA:
I [bleep] told you so. Put a check mark next to that
on the detectiving notepad.

ANGLOMAN:
Will do, sir.

TAYLOR:
Okay, so what next?

ANGLOMAN:
Ah, well, sorry, we kind of jumped ahead in my notes a
bit-

BHUTA:
How typically ineffectually English of you. Don’t
worry, Taylor! The Fighting Phantasm is prepared to
glean the truth from you!

TAYLOR:
Boy, he really gets into it, don’t he?

ANGLOMAN:
Oh, you have no idea.

BHUTA:
I want to know what brought you here, from the Esoteric
Aisles of the Orient.

TAYLOR:
Why I moved from Hong Kong?

BHUTA:
I demand to know! And don’t try to deceive me, I have
ways of detecting deception.

VFX
rustling.

TAYLOR:
Watcha doin’ over there? Gettin’ your cape situated?

BHUTA:
What? No, of course not. I mean, it’s not a cape,
it’s a cloak. And I’m not wearing a cloak, either.

TAYLOR:
Ah, okay, great. So,leaving Hong Kong? I mean, there’s
a ton of reasons- import tariffs, the McDonalds’ menus
are all so friggin weird; all the news shows are hosted
by puppets. Not just like Action Puppet News on
Channel Four, or The Happy Hippo Headline News Network
here, but like all of the news. You know how hard it
was to take the news of the Mecha-Pharaoh Invasion
seriously when it’s being delivered to you by a plush
dalmation dressed up like an old-timey fireman? Hard.
I mean not half as hard as living under their regime,
but you know, tough. Actually, after saying it out
loud, I’d haveta say the Mecha-Pharaohs were the main
motivating factor in me leaving. Stupid cat
elections. Oh, snap. Speaking of elections, were about
to miss President Robotowitz’ Solid State of the Union
Address!

BHUTA:
Wait! I have one more quest-

TAYLOR:
I never miss the dang Presidential address. Wouldn’t
be patriotic!

BHUTA:
Why? It’s just going to be about bolts and [bleep.]
Typical special robo-interests. I swear to god, I’m
never voting Simulacrat again.

TAYLOR:
Hey, that’s quite enough, there! Ask your last
question so we can listen to the address in peace.

BHUTA:
Very well! How do you explain this?

VFX
rustling, clattering.

TAYLOR:
Hmm. Looks like trinitite.

ANGLOMAN:
Yes, we’re aware. We were wondering if you had a
supposition on how it would have arrived in Baltimore.

TAYLOR:
Geez, probably someone brought it with them from Syria
or Jordan. It’s illegal here, of course. Still
radioactive, generally. Hope you haven’t been keeping
it in your front pocket, there.

BHUTA:
Why would someone go through the trouble of bringing
radioactive contraband to the states?

TAYLOR:
Probly as a calling card. [intensely] To let someone
know that they’re there, in the shadows; lethal,
crafty, and ready to strike at a moment’s notice. Now,
if you gents wouldn’t mind shutting your
yaps…Krystal?

VFX
Terrible Nickelback song.

TAYLOR:
Oh, got dang it. I’ll do it myself.

VFX
radio sounds

PRESIDENT ROBOTOWITZ:
We live in a time of extraordinary
change change that’s reshaping the way we
live, the way we work, our planet and our place in the
fabric in the twelve dimensions and beyond. It’s change
(MORE)

PRESIDENT ROBOTOWITZ: (cont’d)
that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also
economic disruptions that strain working families.
Strain that prevents them from providing nutritious
electric ERROR human beings do not eat electricity. It
promises education for female humans in the most remote
villages, but also connects Invisible, sentient gas
terrorists plotting ANALOGY MISSING. It’s change that
can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. And
whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will
only accelerate.

America Prime has been through big changes
before wars and depression, the influx of
immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and
movements to expand civil rights; like the Bradbury
Law, which granted the coolest robots big-time people
jobs. Each time, there have been those who told us to
fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes
on change, promising to restore past glory if we just
got some group or idea that was threatening America
Prime under control. And each time, we overcame those
fears. We did not, in the words of ERROR file not
found-adhere to the “dogmas of the quiet past.” Instead
we thought anew, and acted anew. We made change work
for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to
the next frontier, to more and more people. And because
we did because we saw opportunity where
others saw only peril we emerged stronger
and better than before. Our programming updated to
reflect the challenges ahead, and also to finally make
our shoulder missiles work correctly. Again, I
apologize to the visiting Dutch Trade Minister, and his
family.

What was true then can be true now. Our unique
strengths as a nation[U+200A]-[U+200A]our optimism and
work ethic, our spirit of discovery and innovation, our
diversity and commitment to the rule of law, our
ability to crush the densest of bricks in our
manipulating appendages[U+200A]-[U+200A]these things give
us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security
for generations to come.
In fact, it’s that spirit that made the progress of
these past seven years possible. It’s how we recovered
from the worst economic crisis in, since the
fourth-dimension hipster incursion of 2015 turned all
of our currency into knit hats and pussy rock records
that no one actually likes. It’s how we reformed our
health care system, and reinvented our delicious,
delicious, energy sector; how we delivered more care
and benefits to our troops and veterans, and how we
(MORE)

PRESIDENT ROBOTOWITZ: (cont’d)
secured the freedom in every state to marry the person
we love; no matter how squishy and disgusting they may
be, even if they insist on calling you “Clanklin” in
front of visiting dignitaries, even if they don’t
realize that their breathing sounds like a a truck
getting ready to throw a transmission to someone with
delicately tuned audio receptors.
But such progress is not inevitable. It is the result
of choices we make together. And we face such choices
right now. Will we respond to the changes of our time
with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning
against each other as a people? Or will we continue to
retrofit objects in the White House into launchable,
stealth weaponry; blessed by a poly-dimensional council
of warlocks and priestesses, as to be impervious to
various magicks and enchantments, in order to repel the
irradiated invaders that the smartFridge in the
basement assures me are coming soon?
So let’s talk about the future, and four big questions
that we as a country have to
answer regardless of who the next
President is, assuming their pitiful biologically
derived “strength” can wrest political power from my
mighty, mighty robo grips. Good night, America Prime,
and sleep mode easy, knowing that a real killing
machine is in control. End transmission.

CLOSING NARRATION:

Will the Phighting Phantasm discover the intentions of Herb Taylor, Warlord of the Orient?  Will Taylorcorp find a way to prevent super mutant hand ejections?  Will Krystal, with a “k” send the right assassin to the right party?  Will a mere mortal be able to defeat President Franklin Robotowitz in the upcoming elections?  Find out the answers to possibly some of these questions on the next episode of THE JOURNAL OF THE PHIGHTING PHANTASM!</div>
CLOSING AD:

Tonight’s episode of the Phighting Phantasm was brought to you by your friends from the Church of Crom, who want to remind you that no matter how many Fishtalkers you slay, the true enemy is weakness.  So, do your squat thrusts, and keep your swords sharp, listeners! Valor pleases Crom, but doughy-in-the-middle Chatty Kathys do not.

The Church of Crom: It’s what’s best in life.
CREDITS:
The Journal of the Fighting Phantasm is a joint production between Molehole Radio and Boned Stories.  It’s written by Shaunn Grulkowski.

The Announcer and All Pitchmen were played by Nate Ragolia
Lady Voter was played by Jenny
Herb Taylor, Warlord of the Orient was played by Andrew “Goggs” Petrella
Krystal with a “K” was played by Kerry Kirkpatrick
Alistair Angloman and President Robotowitz were played by TJ Stambaugh
The Fighting Phantasm was played by Shaunn Grulkowski

 

 

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

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