Zack’s Pulp Novel

Recently I found a CD-ROM I’d burned a bunch of old pulp novels onto years back for research for a thing I stopped writing once I got a real job. Anyway, this inspired me to read a few, which in turn inspired me to write a bit from a novel-within-a-novel for the aforementioned thing on Facebook.  Here is what I wrote, preserved for posterity.


“We’re going to break into that building. The Potassium Airstone will be ours.”

“You’re crazy!”

“Crazy like a PELICAN.”

“Don’t you know who lives in that building?”

“I dunno. Some dork with a tan?”

“Haven’t you heard of Dr. Dire? His story is legend.”

“Legends are stupid, and wrong also.”

“They say his parents sent him away at birth and had him trained to be the world’s
greatest scientist by an ancient order of monks.”

“Those sound like really terrible parents. And how can monks make you a doctor?”

“NO ONE KNOWS. But worse than that, he’s got this team, the Superfly Runnin’ Crew. There’s a pilot and an explosives expert and a telegraph specialist and a cab driver and also an accountant. They’ve all got black belts in tae kwon do and they’re pretty bad, ‘bad’ meaning ‘good.'”

“Reputations are like snowballs — stupid.”

“I don’t want no part of this, man. I would rather drink paint than risk going up against him. I would rather eat a cheese sandwich that had been lying in the sun for an indeterminate period of time. I would rather a large dump truck, drive to the neighboring counties, gather up all the fire ants I could find, create a giant pit full of fire ants — I suppose I’d also need a steam shovel, to scoop up the ants, and to dig the pit — then cover myself in barbecue sauce and dive in screaming, ‘come and get it!’ than face Dr. Dire.”

“You cannot believe everything you read in the newspapers. One day they will be dead, and people will get accurate news from safe, reliable electronic sources.”

“Well, this headline is pretty clear: THING HAPPENING. And when Dr. Dire does a thing, let me tell you: It’s a thing.”

“Let me assure YOU: This thing will be a thing that Dr. Dire will wish was a thing that he had never had. The thing. I mean.”

“Okay, I’m in. But just to warn you: We get caught, he’s mad into delicate brain operations. They make you not evil, and also stare at walls singing showtunes.”

“We’re only going to be singing one showtune tonight, my friend. The showtune of DEATH!”



“Superfly Runnin’ Crew roll call! State your name, your specialty, and your code name.”

“Pinkerton Schlafly, professional aeronaut. Code name: Propeller.”

“Aloysius Bartram Clydesdale Dunkirk Eustace Farrington-Gomez, renowned explosives connoisseur. Code name: Al.”

“Rodney Q. Pants, expert at Morse Code, telegraph service and speed-typing. Code name: Word-Sling.”

“Dangelo Lorenzo DeFilippis-Bologna, undercover checker cab driver and ear for street chat/underworld gossip, along with actual checker cab driver. Code name: Checks.”

“Melvin Peebles, accountant. Code name: Other Dude.”

“And I, of course, am Dr. Archimedes H. Dire, E.O.A.E. Code name: Dr. Archimedes H. Dire, E.O.A.E., or ‘Dr. Dire’ for short. Now – “

“Um. Question.”

“Yes, Other Dude?”

“What’s an E.O.A.E.?”

“Expert on Almost Everything. Now –“

“Do you have to have the doctor part and the title part in your name?”

“Yes, Other Dude.”

“Um, okay. Hey, sorry. One more question.”

“All right.”

“What AREN’T you an expert on?”

“Women. Also pancakes.”


“Moving on. It is my deepest regret to inform you that the criminal mastermind Colonel Dexter Poindexter, aka ‘The Stereotype,’ has set his sights on Dire Dynamics’ latest experiment. Poindexter, as you all know, can do bad imitations of anyone from any country, a M.O. that’s proven surprisingly effective with rookie policemen and several areas in the South. Checks, your report?”

“Yes, sir. Word out of the bingo parlors is that he’s capable of doing a French accent, a German accent, and even a Bronx accent, within the same conversation. He’s even developed an utterly baffling secret code. I gotta go now, I’m picking up a fare at the airport.”

“Very good, Checks. I understand we’ve intercepted one of these notes, which was cunningly concealed inside a hollow cookie at a restaurant. Word-Sling, report your findings.”

“Thank you, Doctor. Now, we haven’t figured out the encryption key, but so far, what we have reads: ‘Ancient proverb say: He who pats himself on back too hard may fall flat on his face. Lucky numbers: 16 8 23 42.’”

“Diabolical. Well, keep working to crack that.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Finally, some bad news: My unicorn-breeding plans have had yet another setback, with subjects exhibiting extreme aggression, along with a curious tendency to breathe fire and grow bat wings. Results are currently being analyzed as we move forward. On a positive note, all senior Dire Dynamics employees will receive a special bonus this month consisting of five pounds of unicorn steaks.”

“And good news, sir! They’ll be completely tax-deductible!”

“Splendid, Other Dude! Now if you’ll excuse me, I must work on my trilling. I’m this close to perfecting my imitation of a South Pacific Purple Crumb-Snatcher. Any other business?”

“Propeller here, sir – it looks like there’s an army of zombie catfish attacking the Dire Building.”

“NOT AGAIN! Everyone! To the gyro-copter!”

“Uh, I still have to pick up my fare.”

“Everyone except Checks! To the gryo-copter!”



“Arise, Large-Eyeball-With-Many-Tentacles…arise as I speak the words of power…Doan-War-E-Bee-Hah-Pee….Doan-War-E-Bee-Hah-Pee…”


“Dr. Dire! The Man with the Tan™!”

“You’re surrounded, Poindexter! Two dirigibles and umpteen airplanes are buzzing this
building as we speak! My crew is all situated with air rifles and steampunk goggles!”

“You cannot put the kibosh on the resurrection, Dire! The followers of Yoggoth-Soggoth shall open the gateway to the higher realms, by chanting and wearing robes and stuff!”

“Your mamma they will!”

“Your arrogance astounds me, Dire! Just because you successfully removed your own gall bladder and claim to have invented waffles –“

“Time travel was involved.”

“—doesn’t mean that you are, as you proclaim, ‘The Sterling Fist of Justice!™’ There are forces beyond your control, beyond the veil of whatever, that will bring about the utter subjugation of humanity by the giant eyeballs! And men like me who helped them out will get cool cars and jazz!”

“You sadden me, Poindexter. You’ll never know the joy of doing right with a smile, being considerate of your neighborhood, or constantly striving to make yourself better through performing delicate brain operations and practicing tropical bird calls!”

“Spanking Solomon! You’re like white rice with plain yogurt – disgusting! No wonder you never get any chicks!”

“That’s merely an unfortunate consequence of being trained to be the greatest scientist on Earth by an ancient order of monks! Even their limitless knowledge has limits. But I believe one day I’ll find a lady who understands she can only be a mistress to my first loves – science and bird calls – and accompany me for a cartoon double feature and a refreshing strawberry phosphate.”

“Your words are as stupid as your haircut! Behold! The ritual is nearly complete! Soon, the demon/alien/whatever shall dominate the nightmares of the general populace!”

“Bushwah! Your plan is as illogical as fluoridated drinking water! I’ll prove you as wrong as when I proved the Thousand-Winged Dragon of Arkansas was just a combination of Swiss cheese, copper plumbing and floodlights!”

“Really! Ah-ha-ha-ha! See now what arises from the pit!”


“You like that, Dire?!”

“…Bother. I’m going to need some serious bird-calls for this.”



THE FINAL INSTALLMENT (because I gots stuff to do):


“Madame Sauvage – an Archimedies Dire is here to see you.”

“Archie! Hey! How are ya?”

“Greetings, Meg. Sorry I’ve been out of touch.”

“Oh, it’s okay. Hey, saw you defeated that giant eyeball. Cool beans.”

“Thank you. And I assure you it’s completely reformed. Performing a delicate brain operation on an eye wasn’t easy, but I’ll have a research paper ready in a few weeks.”

“…I can’t wait. So, what brings you to Tacarembo La Tumbe Del Fuego Santa Malipas Zacatecas La Junta Del Sol Y Cruz?”

“I got the blues.”

“Aw! What’s the buzz?”

“You’re the closest I’ve got to an equal, Meg. And I don’t just mean because Father
intended for us to marry until it was determined we were actually first cousins instead of

“Yeah, Uncle Abednego was kind of messed up.”

“Parents try so hard. I don’t know if I could ever have children myself – that knowledge that you’ve created something that you kind of have to make not die.”

“That’s why I stick to plastic houseplants.”

“I understand things in ways others cannot. I’ve seen beauty, chaos, underground troll-civilizations with buildings carved entirely from rare fungus.”

“Sorry I missed that.”

“Yet somehow…the sum total of my experience feels less like knowledge than…a bunch of weird stuff that no one cares about.”

“Look Archie, you have a lot going for you. You’re smart, financially stable, and you look pretty good for a guy your age –“

“Sleeping in a vacuum-bag chamber will do that. I have an extra if you need one.”

“Thanks but no. You have a job you love, and you do cool stuff all the time, but sometimes you have to understand why people like stuff that’s not your stuff.”

“I’m confused.”

“I mean like – look, every time you finish an adventure, where do you go?”

“To the Alone-Dome in the Arctic to work on my inventions and bird-trilling.”

“Right, see – you can’t just sit around trilling with yourself all the time.”

“Hmm. Perhaps I should pursue this line of reasoning. I could pretend to be a hobo, or attend a class on how to pick up chicks.”

“Baby steps, cuz. Maybe just throw a cookout or something.”

“I do have a surplus of unicorn steaks.”

“You won’t see the results you want right away, but life isn’t science. It’s like Uncle Abednego always said – ‘Save the world, and it’ll pay you back, by still being around and junk.’”

“I feel infinitely better, Meg. I’m glad our family’s forced-eugenics program produced you.”

“Back atcha. Look, you need a break from this emotion biz. You wanna go hunt some manticores with wet noodles?”

“I’ll go get the chloroform!”


Published by Zack

Zack Smith is a writer and journalist. He has written for such web sites and publications as, the Independent Weekly of Durham NC, Triangle Business Journal, Comic Book Resources and the Lynchburg News and Advance. He has a Master's in Journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and a degree in English with minors in Film Studies and Creative Writing from NC State University. He also writes children's books.

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