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  • Locked thread
Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


Kaishai posted:

The judges won't hold you to this, Lazy Beggar, but it's a good rule. There would be a bonus point or two for you in following it.

Right-o. My idea has a character some folk might consider as someone flailing about in an unknown environment for part of the story. But it might not be enough.

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stoutfish
Oct 8, 2012

by zen death robot


Time to shine. Give me a flash rule.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


stoutfish posted:

Time to shine. Give me a flash rule.

:siren: Flash Rule: Your story must be set in a Soviet era CIS* country :siren:




*I will also accept any other suitably gritty Eastern European country. Vodka a plus, but not compulsory.

Jeza fucked around with this message at 18:04 on Nov 5, 2013

Quidthulhu
Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!



I cannot stay away, In for gambling fiction! Someone flash rule me and I'll try to follow the prompts this time~

Fraction
Mar 27, 2010

CATS RULE DOGS DROOL

FERRETS ARE ALSO PRETTY MEH, HONESTLY




Quidnose posted:

I cannot stay away, In for gambling fiction! Someone flash rule me and I'll try to follow the prompts this time~

:siren: Flash Rule: :siren: A famous person must have a significant role in your story.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart



Calling my shot 'cause Kloc goaded me into it.

:siren: Flash Self-Rule :siren: The story may not include any direct references to chance or luck and must take place primarily in/around London-Heathrow Terminal 5.

TenaCrane
Sep 14, 2010

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Won't let a little :toxx: get in the way, still In.

Ronnie_Long
Jun 7, 2003

cock of the walk

You hurt my tiny panda bear feelings on the last one, but I'm still in. I'd like a flash rule as well, please.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Ronnie_Long posted:

You hurt my tiny panda bear feelings on the last one, but I'm still in. I'd like a flash rule as well, please.

Really wanted to flashrule you a panda but I'm just too nice.

:siren: Your protagonist must have some kind of disability, mental or otherwise. :siren:

Noumena
Mar 18, 2008



I'm in, and gimme a flash rule

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Noumena posted:

I'm in, and gimme a flash rule

:siren: Flash Rule: :siren: The stakes of your gamble must be the fate of a world. Possibilities include the protagonist's inner world, all of Earth, or another planet entirely.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

I'm takin' a chance myself! In.

autism ZX spectrum
Feb 7, 2007

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

writing sucks and you're all jerks, fyi

RickVoid
Oct 21, 2010


Read through a bit of the thread to familiarize myself with how this all works, sounds like a good time. In.

If nothing else, maybe I'll finally lose the three year-old newbie av.

Sweet_Joke_Nectar
Jun 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

In. I've needed an av for years. Let's rock a flash rule too

Fraction
Mar 27, 2010

CATS RULE DOGS DROOL

FERRETS ARE ALSO PRETTY MEH, HONESTLY




Sweet_Joke_Nectar posted:

In. I've needed an av for years. Let's rock a flash rule too

:siren: Flash rule: :siren: The gamble in your story must be motivated by greed or ambition.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Sweet_Joke_Nectar posted:

In. I've needed an av for years. Let's rock a flash rule too

:siren: Flash Rule: In your gamble, the stakes must mean everything to one party and nothing to the other. :siren:



edit: Well this is awkward. Feel free to pick one or both, although they don't mesh too well.

Jeza fucked around with this message at 14:50 on Nov 6, 2013

RickVoid
Oct 21, 2010


Jeza posted:

:siren: Flash Rule: In your gamble, the stakes must mean everything to one party and nothing to the other. :siren:



edit: Well this is awkward. Feel free to pick one or both, although they don't mesh too well.

Not necessarily.

If he doesn't want 'em, I'll take 'em both.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

RickVoid posted:

Not necessarily.

If he doesn't want 'em, I'll take 'em both.

Your wish for a challenge is granted, gambler. The flash rules are yours.

That necessitates a new :siren: Flash Rule :siren: for Sweet_Joke_Nectar: Precious stones need to play a key role in your plot.

Sweet_Joke_Nectar
Jun 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Kaishai posted:

Your wish for a challenge is granted, gambler. The flash rules are yours.

That necessitates a new :siren: Flash Rule :siren: for Sweet_Joke_Nectar: Precious stones need to play a key role in your plot.

Beautiful

Sweet_Joke_Nectar
Jun 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Alright, finished, ready to upload. Is it fine if I just copy/paste it in this thread?

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.






Sweet_Joke_Nectar posted:

Alright, finished, ready to upload. Is it fine if I just copy/paste it in this thread?

I highly recommend taking these extra days to edit through your story.

Yes you do copy paste.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

I'll clarify further, since the last two rounds allowed Google Docs: I don't want to see them. Post all stories in the thread this time.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


So I almost got killed in a car crash last night and your terrible submissions were nearly the last thing I ever read. Savor that.

Roguelike - Little Drummer Girl

I like how your gut instinct when told not to write about some guy getting the band together was to write about some guy getting the band together IN THE FUTURE, see, so it's totally genre. Nice try. Or not, since I guess you also cribbed someone's class notes on the Book of Revelation but left out all the interesting bits. But we're getting too cosmic here, so let's hash out the details. You've got two young adults allegedly in Neo-China (not that anything besides your telling us would suggest that), neither of whom have names, histories, or personalities worth remembering, and a protagonist who punches out her friend to protect him from challenging the authority of the powers that be only to decide to challenge them (subtly) herself not ten minutes after. Okay. I'd also like to add I've never attended a church service that went longer than an hour and some change, nor seen a hymn book that couldn't kill a cat from the top of the stairs, but it's THE FUTURE so what do I know?

HOMEWORK: Religious missionaries on an alien world, though what religion is up to you. No caricatures, 500 words.

STONE OF MADNESS - The Bonedrum

I LIKED THIS, BUT THEN YOU SHOT YOURSELF IN THE FOOT BY TURNING IT INTO A CONAN FANFIC IN THE LAST COUPLE SENTENCES. WAY TO TRIP UP AT THE FINISH LINE. VERY PURPLE, BUT I THINK IT WORKS, THOUGH I ENJOY AN IMPLICIT NARRATIVE; MANY PEOPLE DON'T. OVERALL SOLID DESPITE YOUR RELIANCE ON MY DEEPLY HATED PRESENT TENSE.

HOMEWORK: An epic quest in ten sentences.

Fraction - The Games

You had a tough act to follow and you didn't. Your story gets lost in its own mythos, too many things alluded to without context for us to imagine what they could be, though bits and pieces can be discerned. Honestly, your protagonist strikes me as a whiner, and STONE OF MADNESS already used up all my patience for people who write in the present tense so you're out of luck. Echo Cian opted to read your story a second time to glean the most out of it, but I couldn't be bothered to care even that much, and that's coming from a guy who loves to carry water. Next.

HOMEWORK: A boy becomes a man in 500 words. No trial by blood stuff.

Tyrannosaurus - Slave

When I finished reading this I turned to Echo and said, "I hope this is a metaphor for an instrument or something." She told me it was a guitar and I breathed a sigh of relief. Music and sensuality go together well, but this is just tasteless. Rape and urination. There's also your italicized asides which don't help as much as you think they do (though they helped a little). It's not a terrible piece, but it's about some terrible stuff which detracts from your mood and tone. Dissonant serenity requires a lot of care, and you fumbled it. I feel like I need a shower.

HOMEWORK: A carpenter whittles toys in his spare time that nobody buys. Tell me about him. 500 words. Again.

Chairchucker - God from the (Tin) Machine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xAAGh-3sw0

HOMEWORK: A sequel.

Quidnose - Etude #44

Now this was a nice little piece. Unfortunately, pianos don't age as well as you seem to think they do. Also unfortunately, not genre even in the slightest.

HOMEWORK: Fae politics, as informed by the art of Brian Froud. You have 2,000 words. No humans allowed.

Erogenous Beef - Sharp Harmony

Obtuse.

HOMEWORK: A simple story about simple people whose simple lives are interrupted by something complicated. 700 words.

Inthesto - Duet

This could've been pretty spiffy with a few revisions. It also could have been about rap wizards. As it, though, it's a bit cramped and a bit stilted, and the imagery of this dude writing his compositions in his own blood loses much of its potency. Apparently this guy is supposed to be a necromancer or something, Echo told me, but I saw the whole composing for his dead father thing as figurative rather than literal since that's usually how these things go. Still, for something cobbled together, it sort of works. Get DukeRustfield to hook you up with his editor.

HOMEWORK: A woman running her family's shop refuses orthodox payment. What does she accept? 500 words minimum, 1,000 words maximum.

Fumblemouse - 'Dimension' for Strings

This made my shortlist though the other judges nixed it. Very Bradburian now that I look back on it, people and music, technology, et cetera. Your ending in particular left me with a strong impression. I didn't fully understand what you were going for, but it felt right, like it was the only way it could end. Schrodinger's submission. In another universe you would have won.

HOMEWORK: The conclusion to a murder mystery, followed by the murder. Yes. The butler must not have done it in 1,200 words.

Kaishai - Music to Draw By

Now a Lifetime Original. Actually a pretty sweet story, with a nice blend of reality with the fantastic. Magical realism if you want to call it that, and a mysterious sense of purpose that heightens the story rather than detracts from it, even when we don't have all the answers.

HOMEWORK: Two people speaking different languages misunderstand one another through their music. 300 words ought to be enough.

Mercedes - 237

"The bad news is your mother is dying. The good news is you have a great rack."

HOMEWORK: A tragedy forces two people who hate each other to come to terms. 237 words.

Ronnie_Long - Do Robots Dream of LeAnn Rimes?

Snore. Linking music with emotions can be a powerful thing, but you totally squandered it. It works simply because it works and you provide no good reason why. What you do provide is a lot of exposition for a world ripe for being one day conquered by autistic robot caretakers, which would have at least been more engaging than what you actually managed to produce. Human-robot relations have been done to death, so if you're going to make it the centerpiece of your story (as opposed to a footnote), you need to bring something new to the table.

HOMEWORK: Robot society long after the extinction of humans. 500 words.

Schneider Heim - Take Me Home

You missed a golden opportunity to call this the Nudist Lutist. But even if you had, we'd still only have a story where things happen because it says so in the script. This feels like an excerpt of something larger except it fails to make me interested in what that something is. Needless to say it barely stands on its own. Trite conclusion.

HOMEWORK: A battle of the bands ends in disaster. 1,000 words.

Docbeard - The Day the Music Died

I read this and have no idea what it's about. Not because it's confusing or complicated, though it might be, but because of how it all just washed over me like bobbing for apples in a tar pit. So dry, so dull. I'm sure if I read it again I could glean more from it, but I honestly have no desire to do so.

HOMEWORK: Two old friends reminisce between a wedding and a funeral for about 500 words. Soft limit.

Helsing - It's a Bitch Convincing People to Like You

I expected more from a Faustian bargain. And self-awareness, how post-modern of you. There are some fun ideas here but the execution is slipshod. Not sure you really did the song justice either.

HOMEWORK: Hell's Accountant walks the Earth for 600 words.

Jeza - Blood and Tequila

Welcome to the Hotel California.
Such a lovely place.
Such a lovely face.
Plenty of room at the Hotel California.
Any time of year,
You can find it here.

But yeah, good job man. I dug it. Exactly what I was hoping for.

HOMEWORK: A lone survivor shares his story, insisting it wasn't his fault. It was. 1,000 words.

DasNasty - Ballad of the Cicadas

That's some fierce mood whiplash, son. You've got cicadas and fields and forests and then the bombs dropped and you were the only survivor and oh God oh God the humanity. So a bunch of stuff happened and a bunch of people died and who knows and who cares. They've only been fighting these people for three years yet our protagonist has no idea what's going on? Not even at street level? Even if he doesn't care about the wider world around him, people tend to talk about that kind of thing, unless the point is that he's mentally deficient somehow.

HOMEWORK: An aging fighter pilot finds an excerpt from the diary he kept while flying in the war. He only has 800 words left to live.

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 06:05 on Nov 7, 2013

Teriyaki Koinku
Nov 25, 2008



Finally coming around to this thread and it looks awesome and fun as hell for getting in weekly prose practice.

That being said, I've read the OP and I'm still a little confused. Do you just wait until the next weekly topic, submit an "In", and then craft your story with a flash rule twist? Do you make the flash rule for yourself or does someone else assign it to you? What happens if you are "In" but don't submit an entry by the deadline?

And also, if I want to duel someone, I just say I'm throwing down right? Sorry if these questions are really basic.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Modern worldly poster

Yeah, generally you just say you're in before the submission deadline (usually Friday at some flavor of midnight), so you'd still be able to sign up for this week's.

Flash rules can be assigned capriciously by folks, or you can ask for one. You could probably say "as an additional challenge to myself I will adhere to this rule" but you run the risk that no one will notice or care.

Brawls happen when they happen. You will receive a blackened envelope one night. You will know what to do when it arrives.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^blarg

Yep. Say "in" by Friday, submit by usually Sunday night, results come in Monday or Tuesday. Rinse and repeat.

People who sign up but don't submit risk anything from benign neglect to full on shame and exhile at the hands of their peers.

If you wanna brawl a fucker you step up to that fucker and tell him/her to their face that that face is stupid and you want to hit it, with your fists, which are made of words. Or keep running your mouth and one of our smackdown-layers will be with you momentarily. Your call is important to us.

Only judges and really bad dudes can flashrule, and you may or may not have any say in whether or not you get one.

Teriyaki Koinku
Nov 25, 2008



Sitting Here posted:

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^blarg

Yep. Say "in" by Friday, submit by usually Sunday night, results come in Monday or Tuesday. Rinse and repeat.

People who sign up but don't submit risk anything from benign neglect to full on shame and exhile at the hands of their peers.

If you wanna brawl a fucker you step up to that fucker and tell him/her to their face that that face is stupid and you want to hit it, with your fists, which are made of words. Or keep running your mouth and one of our smackdown-layers will be with you momentarily. Your call is important to us.

Only judges and really bad dudes can flashrule, and you may or may not have any say in whether or not you get one.

Okay, so you potentially have a full week to work on something (when the weekly topic is announced) but could be as short as two days time to write if you wake up on Friday and you're like "poo poo, better write my weekly scrawl!"?

[e]: And for "homework", do you submit that here or just keep it in your personal collection?

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







TheRamblingSoul posted:

Okay, so you potentially have a full week to work on something (when the weekly topic is announced) but could be as short as two days time to write if you wake up on Friday and you're like "poo poo, better write my weekly scrawl!"?

[e]: And for "homework", do you submit that here or just keep it in your personal collection?

If in doubt put it in fiction farm.

Also: this isn't the place for chat. Read the prompt, enter, write the story.

ElphabaGreen
Oct 18, 2012


In.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Twenty-four hours remain to grab a seat at the table!

Lazy Beggar
Dec 9, 2011


First draft done. Just shy of 1600 words. Will gut it over the weekend.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning




Less writing progress-chat, more :justpost: of entries.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Nah let's open this pit up, NaNoWriMo style. Progress counts, criticism debates, general advice or just ask questions answered in the OP!



If you do any of these things I will cut your word count in half. Possibly also your loved ones.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

In

Sweet_Joke_Nectar
Jun 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER

I'm beginning to realize I'm not going to edit this any more than I already have, so here we go.

LYSANDER, THE MIGHTY AXE
1055 words


“I AM THE BLOOD OF GOD. I AM HEIR TO THE SKY.”

God, what time was it? Mark looked at the clock: 6:47 am. “Yo Lyle, shut the gently caress up already!”
“I WILL RAIN FIRE UPON YOUR HOMESTEADS! I WILL RAZE THE GROUND TO ASH! I AM LYSANDER THE MIGHTY AXE, DESCENDENT OF – “
“No, you’re Lyle the punk bitch.”

A petulant scream rang out from the gaming room, then the slam of the door, then nothing but the muffled sound of nerd rap. His little brother might have quieted down, but the damage was done. Mark was awake. He rolled out of bed and made his way to the kitchen, head pounding from the night before. He was in no shape to perform any task requiring more than the most rudimentary of motor functions. He went to the fridge, thankful he had thought to make a BLT before heading to the bar last night. There was the tomato and lettuce for vitamins, bacon to feed the brain, and bread to soak up the toxins – a heavenly trifecta of a sandwich.

Mark sauntered towards the fridge and opened the door. You could have heard the scream from halfway down the block.

“Where the gently caress is my sandwich!” The door to the game room slammed open, revealing a fat, pimple faced fifteen-year-old boy wearing an MC Chris hoodie. The floor was strewn with empty bottles of Mountain Dew Code Red, chips, and discarded packets of pop rocks. Also Lyle’s lovely little girlfriend. She barely looked up from her Nintendo DS, and seeing nothing remarkable, turned her acne scarred face back to the Gameboy.
“Gamer fuel, bro”, said Lysander the Mighty Axe. “Gotta keep these noobs in line, ya know?” He smiled, revealing teeth stained an artificial red. God, how he loved his precious pop rocks. He swiveled back to his screen and resumed his Clan chat.
“Ok, Bartleby the Wise, now all we have to do is wait for a white mage to –“ Lyle was interrupted by a smack to the back of the head. “You little poo poo!” Mark screamed. “You always do this! I am sick and tired of your freeloading bullshit! I swear to god I’m going to wring your –“
Mark gasped, feeling a sharp pain in his side. “GET OFF OF HIM!” He turned to see a flurry of poorly dyed hair and Invader Zim paraphernalia stabbing him with a Jhonen Vasquez themed hairpin. Mark had forgotten about the she-beast lurking in the corner. What was her name again? Beth? It didn’t matter. He hurled her across the room, and pulled the pin out of his ribs. The little bitch had drawn blood.

And then Mark was on the floor. His vision hazy, he saw his little brother holding an expensive replica of Gimli’s axe from the Lord of the Rings films, the hilt of which was slick with Mark’s blood. “I wonder if that’s where he got his name,” thought Mark, before descending into darkness.

---
Mark awoke on the floor of a cold white room. It was barren and clinical in aesthetic. He looked around, and saw a dim light overhead, a locked door to his left. A waste bucket with a lid on it lay in the corner of the room. From somewhere, a loudspeaker boomed.

“YOU WANT TO PLAY A GAME?”

Mark shivered. “Lyle, this isn’t loving funny! I think I have a concussion, I need to go to the hospital!”
“NO ONE STRIKES LYSANDER THE MIGHTY AXE AND GETS AWAY WITH IT! NOW – DO YOU WANT TO PLAY A GAME?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“LOLZ NO. BEHOLD THE ALTAR!”

A pedestal rose from the ground a few feet in front of Mark. On it were two items Mark recognized well: Mountain Dew Code Red and Pop Rocks, two of the staples of Lyle’s diet. Mark felt his stomach grumble.

“HERE’S THE GAME. I’VE NOTICED THAT A CERTAIN GREEN ARCHER NEEDS FOOD BADLY. I HAVE PROVIDED HIM WITH SUSTENANCE. YOU CAN EITHER STARVE OR FEAST, BUT HEED MY WARNING: DIRE CONSEQUENCES HAVE BEFALLEN THOSE WHO’VE SUBSISTED ON SUCH A DIET. HAVE FUN BROTHER. SQUEE.”

Mark had heard tales of ruptured stomachs, kids rushed to the hospital from trying to impress their peers with a mentos/pepsi cocktail. But Pop Rocks were a completely different animal. A pressure buildup of such proportions would surely result in a gastrointestinal explosion. There had to be another way. He surveyed his surroundings. “Of course! The bucket! I can blast my way out of here!” He had no idea what the magnitude of such an explosion would be, only that it was especially dangerous in such a small enclosed room. Seeing no other option, Mark realized it was a risk he’d have to take.
Head swirling, Mark dragged the poo poo bucket over to the door and removed the lid. The stench was overwhelming. “He’s done this before!” Mark realized. “Actually, come to think of it, that explains a lot.” Grabbing the volatile candy from the pedestal, Mark readied the Dew. He’d have one shot at this. It was now or never. He ripped the top of the packet off, took a deep breath, and poured the entire packet in.
A look of desperation spread across his face. The candy was already reacting to the septic acids present in the bucket! He quickly emptied the soda into the bucket, slammed on the lid, propped it by the door and scrambled to the other side of the room. He waited, terrified.
Nothing. A minute passed, and still there was nothing. Mark began to cry. The most important gamble of his life had panned out to nothing. “Maybe if I shake it”, he thought. Mark approached the bucket, and knelt down to jostle the contents. No sooner had he touched the sides of the receptacle then his entire vision became a sea of red and brown. The bucket erupted in his face, the lid spinning off and slicing the main artery in Mark’s neck, the contents of the bucket Pollock’ing the walls. The smell of saccharine and poo poo filled Mark’s nose as he bled out on the cold floor. The loud speaker crackled on to emanate the final words Mark would ever hear.

“YOUR PRINCESS IS IN ANOTHER CASTLE, NOOB.” And then, there was nothing.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Sign-ups for Week LXVI are CLOSED. Entrants have approximately 48 hours left to play their hands.

CantDecideOnAName
Jan 1, 2012

And I understand if you ask
Was this life,
was this all?


BRAWL TIME, INTHESTO
PREPARE YOUR ANUS

Body Heat (738 words)

“Goddamn it’s cold.”

Chris, wrapped in two blankets, sat as close to the fire as he could possibly get without setting anything alight. Jesse sighed and crossed his arms.

“I thought you’d like it. You liked the hiking in Arizona. And the rock climbing in Utah.”

“Arizona was warm. And I thought I was gonna die on that mountain. Skiing, you said,” Chris continued to complain. “The exercise will keep you warm, and then there’s a lodge with a big fireplace that you can curl up next to. It’ll be fantastic. You suck, Jesse.”

He glared around the small cabin, glowering at the two beds, the door to the bathroom, and the counter and fridge that were supposedly a kitchenette.

“I’m sorry it’s not what you expected, but it’s plenty warm in here. There’s not even a draft. You’d never know there’s a blizzard out there at all.”

“Do a spell,” Chris demanded. “Do some magic. You want me to stop bitching? Then be a real wizard and do something to make it less cold.”

“You know I can’t change the weather.” Chris always demanded that someone else use magic to fix his problems, and that someone was usually Jesse.

“Don’t do that. Just make me warmer.”

“Suck it up, Chris. You have to deal with life sometimes. Magic isn’t always going to bail you out.”

“Swear to God, I will punch you right in your sissy magician face. Do it.”

“No.”

If there was only one thing Chris was good at in life, it was glaring at people. He had finely tuned it, honing it into a dagger-sharp point, and it always worked on Jesse.

“I hate it when you do that,” Jesse said. “Jerk. I like you more when we’re having fun with sports.”

He hadn’t brought his full kit, just some chalk and a few different rocks. Drawing the circle on the floor was easy enough, but putting the rocks in the proper spots was a bit more difficult without knowing which way was north. His copper ring was the final touch, with a strand of hair plucked from Chris’ head wrapped around it. Chris finally left his blankets and stood shivering in the center of the circle.

Jesse knew he shouldn’t be doing magic angry. Chris always pulled this bullshit. But Jesse knew he wouldn’t hear the end of it until he did it, and he wanted to enjoy the long weekend with Chris. So he concentrated on the warmth from the fire and redirected it.

Nothing, at first. Chris gave him the finger.

“Come on, Harry Potter,” he said. “Give it a real try. Wingardium leviosa.”

Jesse felt the spell flare up and immediately cut it off, scuffing his foot through the circle and letting go of the energy.

“Hey! What are you doing?”

“It’s done,” Jesse said, continuing to scrub out the chalk. “It’s done. I’m done. Deal with it.”

“Oh come on. You—” Chris paused, then grinned and smacked Jesse on the shoulder. “Nice one, Jesse. Good job.”

Jesse collapsed on the bed and put his head in his hands.

Within an hour Chris was screaming at him again.

“What the hell did you do to me?” he howled, taking off his pants and throwing them onto the bed, where they lay next to the shirt that he had torn off ten minutes ago. “It’s too hot—take it off!”

Jesse redrew the circle, placed the stones, set his ring spinning on the floor with the hair wrapped ‘round it, concentrated on his own body heat and tried to recalibrate things. Where resentment had made the spell go out of control before, fear now made it wither out.

“Make it stop! Make it stop!” Chris was shaking, face red with fury, his voice hoarse from screaming. “I’m burning up—you killed me! I’ll kill you!”

Jesse fled to the bathroom and locked the door, listening to Chris pounding on it and watching it tremble and shake in the frame. “I’m gonna loving kill you, Jesse! I’m gonna kill you!”

There was a primal scream and the sound of running. The front door slammed. Silence.

Jesse waited a minute, then crept from the room. The door had been splintered and there was blood on it, and his heart leapt to his throat.

“Oh God. Chris.”

He grabbed a jacket and ran outside, but Chris was already gone, vanished into the blizzard.

TenaCrane
Sep 14, 2010

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Week LXVI entry.

----------------

En Route Mortality (909 words)

Resting in the deep sea, Hookjaw feels a peculiar pulsing one night. A throbbing in his body, with painful intensity. He shakes in the water, unable to rid himself of the feeling. Fully awake, he swims around a little. The pain gradually eases and he starts to relax again.

Throb. Throb.

His tail propels him through the water; the pain is more demanding than before. He notices a feeling of relief as he heads inland. His tired body no longer feels the absence of sleep, replaced with an unknown excitement. He spots other salmon moving inland as well. A cacophony of moving fish drowns out any possibility of polite chatter. Hookjaw only manages to pick up four words in the deluge of sound: The run has come.

The salmon’s final journey, a lifetime of training just for this endurance run. Thousands of salmon are moving towards a river opening, all heading to their birthplace with familiar smells to guide them. Compared to the serenity of the sea, the river’s mouth is a deafening torrent; a great beast swallowing any salmon with the courage to approach. Hookjaw stares at the unbelievable jump from sea to river, five feet of surging water. He flexes his muscles and tenses his tail as he watches other fish clear the jump. Hookjaw shuts out all the noise around him and focuses on the roaring in his head, the adrenaline rushing through his body. His tail tears the water as his head breaks through the surface. Hookjaw flies through the air and lands with a satisfying splash in the freshwater river.

As soon as his body hits the new water, it screams in response. Every scale, every muscle, every organ realizes what is happening. Freshwater is poison to adult salmon. Only Hookjaw’s instincts carry him forward through the river. His body will slowly break down and there’s nothing he can do except push on. He hears frantic screaming from the salmon in front of him. Hookjaw sees another jump ahead, much smaller than the first. The water around it is tinged with red. He squints towards the sides of the river and sees several bulky shadows in the water. Hookjaw swims to the jump and blasts upwards. One of the black shapes approach and white teeth glint in the moonlight. Hookjaw pumps all of his energy into his tail and arcs his body to the left. A horrifying abyss snaps shut behind him with a clack. The river is filled with blood and mutilated fish parts from unlucky salmon. Hookjaw speeds past the fish graveyard and the black bears without looking back.

Hookjaw’s muscles ache from exertion and the freshwater, but all he can do is swim forward. The sun crests over the trees as he spots his goal, the breeding grounds. He puts the pain away where it can’t interfere and hustles forward. Hookjaw pauses as he hears a fearsome roar ahead. A group of grizzlies have taken over the entrance to the breeding grounds, blocking it with a wall of fur and claws. The water before them is thick with scared and exhausted fish. A few brave, or desperate, ones try to make it past the grizzlies. If a hundred leap towards salvation, only one finishes their jump. The water is murky and hard to breathe in due to the fish congestion; a perfect breeding ground for deadly parasites. Hookjaw pushes past the cowering salmon around him and stops to watch the bears. The largest towers over his brethren, watching them snatch jumping salmon with their razor sharp teeth. The largest doesn’t partake in the buffet of fish around him. He chooses to throw his weight around instead, harassing other grizzlies for their kills. His titanic bulk moves quickly through the water, maiming and crushing weak fish beneath him as he races towards a skinny bear in a prime spot. His massive claws knock the bear off the ledge as his teeth grab the dead fish from the other’s mouth.

Taking note of the crushed fish near him, Hookjaw hatches a plan. The salmon around him are avoiding this behemoth, but he’s the only one that isn’t grabbing jumping fish. Hookjaw spurs his body into action and heads straight towards the alpha grizzly. He pours all of his effort into his tail fin, tapping into his last reservoir of energy. With the aim and power of a torpedo, Hookjaw flows through the air right in front of the alpha grizzly’s face. Hookjaw is satisfied when the gigantic predator’s eyes widen in shock as a potential meal outsmarts it. He adds his own flair to the performance, his tail swings through the air and lands a wet slap on the bear’s snout. Hookjaw hears a bellow behind him filled with malice. The grizzly doesn’t follow the speedy salmon; there are weaker bears around to take his rage. Hookjaw finally relaxes his muscles and arrives in the spawning grounds past all of the ravenous bears. After a little searching, Hookjaw finds a suitable place in the lake, oxygen-rich water and free from predators. He looks in the gravel and finds fresh salmon eggs waiting with a female nearby. Belligerent males approach them, but quickly leave after running into the fish that smacked a grizzly. Hookjaw will die taking the confidence with him that he’s given his offspring the best chance to survive, more than any of the other salmon will leave with.

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Quidthulhu
Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!



Hold 'Em
994 words.

I pushed open the door to the dining room and found him standing by the table with a knife pressed against my wife’s throat. I already had my piece drawn, so I pointed it at his head. He didn’t like that, and I saw his knuckles grow white around the blade. Jenny flinched for half a second, then her eyes returned to their glassy state as they bore into my face.

“Let her go, Ling.” My hand shifted from his forehead to his pupil. I hoped he didn’t know that I was shifting the weight because of how sweaty my palm was.

“gently caress you, pig.” He pressed the point of the blade into her jugular, not enough to draw blood but drat close. A vein in my forehead pulsed.

“I’m not a cop, you idiot.” I shifted the gun a second time, subtly, trying not to show my hand.

“Yeah? Explain that, then.” He nodded his head towards the canvas that hung above the table. Allan Pinkerton, my great-grandfather, glowered down at the scene in his uniform,. It was the same one I wore when I graduated from the academy, before I left to join the FBI. Ling was halfway there, but he had always been a lousy read. I figured I had maybe three minutes to work my grift.

“I won it in a blackjack hand.” I glanced around the rest of the room. Nothing to use to my advantage, and nothing was coming to me. I had brought a gun to a knife fight and I was bluffing. Until now I had been deep in the Chinese Underground for two years and I was going to lose my wife over a casual drunken remark at a poker game. Stupid.

“Funny, you two have the same nose.” Ling took a step back towards the kitchen, jerking Jenny with him. I couldn’t let him leave; if he got out the door, I had no chance. I needed a break.

Something moved in the painting. Pinkerton coughed, wiggled his nose then shifted his gaze to me. I kept my eyes locked on Ling then glanced casually at the canvas. Stay out of this, Gramps.

You’re the one communing with a painting, he seemed to say, his long beard shifting almost incomprehensibly as a small smile played on his lips. What’s the deal, Cowboy?

“Lots of guys got the same nose. It’s a painting, Ling.” I wasn’t sure who I was trying to convince here; Pinkerton seemed to be glancing between me and the foreigner in my dining room. “I swear to you, you’ve got this all wrong.”

“Stop your bullshit, rear end in a top hat.” He took a step back toward me, accompanied by another press of the blade into my wife’s neck. Her eyes widened, her pupils shifted toward pleading. “I know your tells. Your gun is soaked.” I was running out of time. He knew that no matter what move I made, if he sank the blade into her jugular, he would win the hand. This was his rainbow rag, and I was hosed.

I looked at my great grandfather. This was a tell in itself, but Ling didn’t know it. It was a tactic I hadn’t used since I broke into the organization, one I hadn’t pulled out since my days as a rookie shark on the Vegas scene. I had come to call it “desperation.” What do I do? I pleaded, hoping the cracking paint would answer me.

Pinkerton just smiled. He had his hand pressed against his chest. Had he always been in that pose? I wasn’t certain. From beneath his fingertips, an Ace of Spades peaked out from his lapel, crisp, laminated. I got it instantly.

My eyes darted back to Ling. “I’ll play you for her.”

Ling’s eyes widened a bit. “What?” His nostrils were flared, and the fingers around her arm twitched.

I let go of my gun with one hand, held it loosely in my sweaty palm as I moved to the side table and grabbed a dusty set of Bicycles that accompanied a long-neglected cribbage board. The confusion wavered on Ling’s face as I moved swiftly, spreading them cards on the table. Then I put the gun down next to the cards - a show of good faith. Jenny’s eyebrow twitched briefly; that was her tell. “One hand,” I said, holding the cards in front of me.

Ling hesitated, then smiled, slow, cold. “You’re insane, pig.” His knuckles were no longer white. I had him. “Let’s see the flop. Open hands.”

Instantly, I was shuffling the deck and dropping the cards. A two and a five for me, a jack and a seven for him. Then the flop, a three, another jack, and another three. Ling’s smile was broadening. “Check,” he said.

I ditched the first card and pulled the turn. A third jack stared at me. I looked at Ling, then up at Pinkerton. His right hand was raised in a solemn oath, captured at the moment the oil hit the canvas. I smiled. Thanks, Gramps.

The cards leapt from my hand one by one and struck Ling in the face. He cursed long enough for me to snatch up my pistol and fire two shots into his head. He fell, hard, onto the table, and Jenny fell to the ground, a scream escaping her lips. I dove to her, pulling her close to me. The knife was embedded between her neck and shoulder blade, but he hadn’t sliced her throat. Five to one she might be ok. I had my cellphone out instantly as my gun found Ling’s back, checking for signs of life even though I knew he had folded, permanently. As I punched the number for my supervisor, I chanced a look at my great grandfather, but he had returned his gaze to its myopic state, staring forward into the chandelier. I realized my hand was dry.

With the cards lying around me, I called.

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