Brawl Results: CantDecideOnAName versus inthesto
Slow judgement, sorry, but the winner is CantDecideOnAName. They were two completely disparate entries: stylistically, tonally, and plotwise, which made them hard to compare to one another. Nevertheless, both were mostly good, though I have semi-significant gripes with both. I will try and post up some crits when I get the chance. Been super busy recently, tomorrow until Monday looks like the same. I'm sure I'll find an hour or two somewhere.
|# ? Nov 14, 2013 23:32|
|# ? Dec 1, 2021 12:31|
Half the Battle (586 words)
(translated from Burmese)
500 Thai Baht is what people pay to see me go about my daily business. Some say that it is dehumanizing. It is looked down upon in any context for humans to gawk at other humans. I say it’s good money.
I hear the whisper of the word “neck” as a little American girl points to the gleaming gold bands that encompass mine. Her eyes linger on these rings that have elongated my neck since childhood, but her glance soon strays to my embellished clothing. Wisps of turquoise and opal hug my curves and wrap themselves around my figure. She seems to decide that I am a thing of beauty, even if I still remain a “thing” rather than a human to her.
“Hello” she says to me, her eyes now focusing on my face rather than the satiny fabric that I and my nineteen fellow captives must wash tonight.
“Hi, small one” I answer in broken English.
The ones who stop to talk to me are usually the most annoying - always speaking too loud, thinking that greater volume equals greater comprehension. They all ask the same thing: “does that hurt?” which is one English phrase I have come to know well. They point their finger at their own neck and mime choking. Most of the time, I just laugh and shake my head. That usually ends the conversation.
She shyly edges a bit closer to me and asks a question I don’t understand. I look at her and smile, but this does not satisfy her. With more gusto, she repeats the question one word at a time, dramatically acting out each separate thought. I get it now: “Why do you stay here?” As her voice carries to the other tourists, her mother quickly grabs her hand and ushers her away.
Of course, I know why I stay here. I stay for the money. I stay for the easy living. I would stay even if I wasn’t forced to. But one look at my older companions who remember what home was like and I know they don’t share my feelings. Their glassy eyes reveal a past where they were not freaks of nature to be ogled at like monkeys in a zoo. Once upon a time, they were free to live out their dreams, unhindered by the chains of society. They could find love. They could travel. Their future had not yet been decided by greedy money-makers who sought to keep the flow of tourists steady. Their lives are pretty much over now. This is how they live and this is how they will die.
Once, unaware of my plight, I mistook it for a blessing. But a caged animal, regardless of how much food he is given, is still caged. Now I see with clear eyes. My vision is so sharp that it stings me and causes tears to stream down my flaming red cheeks. The idea of our lives being wasted for the sake of money floods my mind as I let out a primal roar.
The little girl stops in her tracks. She turns to me with knowing eyes.
“I’m sorry” she says.
As if that is enough to calm my troubled mind.
A seed of regret and knowledge is planted in all who hear her apology, but none have the courage to rectify the wrong. I simply laugh and call it a day as I walk back to my hut.
For 500 Thai Baht, you can see the ignorance of society.
sicklysweet45 fucked around with this message at 00:59 on Nov 15, 2013
|# ? Nov 15, 2013 00:00|
Is anyone going to offer to judge these with me or am I picking names out of a hat?
|# ? Nov 15, 2013 00:01|
I'll judge if you're willing to tolerate a bunch of obtuse basketball jokes.
|# ? Nov 15, 2013 00:22|
Is anyone going to offer to judge these with me or am I picking names out of a hat?
As a rhino I actually have been waiting for you to make the obvious, elephant-in-the-room choice, to determine that I will be judging.
|# ? Nov 15, 2013 02:53|
I'll judge if you're willing to tolerate a bunch of obtuse basketball jokes.
Inthesto and Rhino are now onboard.
|# ? Nov 15, 2013 04:02|
|# ? Nov 15, 2013 05:03|
|# ? Nov 15, 2013 05:17|
HOMEWORK: Two people speaking different languages misunderstand one another through their music. 300 words ought to be enough.
The flautist left the famous market and its babble of a thousand tongues, none of them his. He stumped down to the docks to hear the ocean speak. A man sat on a hummock there, old to the flautist though his hair had as much black as grey; his palms pounded thunder out of a deep-bellied drum, such a wild beat that the flautist forgot the ocean and danced.
The old man surged up, drum tumbling away, and punched the flautist so hard in the jaw that he crashed into the sand. The old man was on him then, hitting his shoulders, shouting nonsense through a red face wet and crazed with tears. The flautist yelled words that the old man couldn't know. But the beating ended, and his attacker rolled away to sit with his knuckles shoved into his eyes.
The flautist felt in his sack for his flute, brought it out, and untied a handkerchief wrapped around it. He offered this to the old man.
Instead of taking it, the drummer pointed first at the flute, then at the flautist in clear request--or demand. The flautist grimaced at the soreness in his arms and jaw as he brought the wood to his lips. He blew a sharp song; the notes had once followed his sister into her crypt, not far from a different sea. They tasted of salt.
Before he'd finished, the old drummer laughed.
His shoulders shook with humor now; he clapped the sand and grinned, though another tear streaked down his cheek. Whatever he saw in the flautist's face killed his smile. The song died, too, and the flautist gripped his flute as he would a weapon... then made himself let go.
Two men sat on the beach for a time, companions in silence.
|# ? Nov 15, 2013 05:49|
|# ? Nov 15, 2013 22:06|
Just a reminder that signups are closing TONIGHT and posts are due TOMORROW NIGHT.
This is different than normal so don't be caught unawares!
|# ? Nov 16, 2013 01:19|
Farewell to Woodland Park
“I can’t believe I flew back from New Orleans for this,” Sam said, grabbing the bolt cutters out of the trunk. “I still think it’s a horrible idea.” Sam and his brother walked briskly towards the park fence two blocks away. It was a stereotypical Seattle night, the stars obscured by the cloud cover he had known from his youth. He had hated the gloom back then; now it made him nostalgic.
“Yeah, I know,” said Brian. “I was going to go on my own, but it just didn’t seem right. I’m glad you came back.” The brothers had not spoken in over a year. Sam had moved away from Washington to start up his own company, and the rent in New Orleans was still cheap enough to make things work. He had flourished while Brian remained at home with their parents. Resentments had bred like bacteria between the siblings, but there was one place where they had always had common ground.
They stopped walking as they reached the back gate. They took a moment, taking in the sign they had passed underneath every summer in an infinite adolescence. The colors were faded, but the message was still clear: “Welcome to Woodland Park Zoo!” Even after years in disrepair, the entrance maintained the majesty they remembered from their youth.
The young men approached the fence. Sam began to cut the metal lattice; Brian lit up a cigarette and watched. Sam stopped and looked at his brother. “You smoke now?” he asked. Brian shrugged his shoulders. “A lot changed since you migrated south.” Sam said nothing, moments later tossing the cutters aside. “Hey look, a new gate,” he said. “You ready?” Neither doubted it was a stupid thing to do, but their mutual need for closure took precedence over the fear of getting caught. One after another, they slipped inside the fence.
The pair walked the grounds of the park in silence. Dried leaves crackled underneath awkward feet, a natural static playing background to the two soloists. No words were necessary, collected memories played out quietly among them. The pains of puberty, drinking up the be-a-man rhetoric of their father while blocking out the yelling that came from their parents bedroom. The inability to iterate the loneliness brought on through involuntary competition. That type of “get out of my room, I hate you” vitriol that exists only between two boys desperately vying for individuality under the same roof. It was easier to stay quiet and listen to the static.
They came to a halt outside a building they both knew. “This is where it all began to fall apart,” Brian said. “They closed the Dark House first.” The Dark House, also known as the Nocturnal Center, was one of the most beloved features of the zoo. It was also the first thing to close when the economy shifted.
“Yeah, I remember,” Sam said. “You loved this place so much. The fruit bats were always your thing.”
Brian laughed. “First French kiss I ever had was in that building. You remember Melissa? Yeah, right in there, next to that big tank with all those night fish.” He sighed. “Condos. I can’t believe it. They’re trading our childhood for some loving condos.”
They walked down past the monkey house towards the large animal enclosures. “You remember that time we saw that elephant take a piss and poo poo for like ten minutes?” asked Sam.
“Oh God, yeah,” Brian laughed. “And then those kids asked their mom what he was doing? I could have died right then.” The brothers burst out laughing. “God, it’s been a while,” said Sam. “You want to sit down a sec?”
They sat on opposite ends of a bench looking out over an empty field where the giraffes and zebras used to graze. The wind picked up slightly, and Sam fastened a button on his peacoat. Brian dug his hands into the pockets of his hoodie. Minutes passed, gazing at lifeless landscape. Sam sensed his brother’s tension at words unsaid. “Look, just say it.”
“You left,” Brian said. “You loving left. You’re the big man now, huh? Just leave your family and move to some loving town where nobody knows you?”
“I knew it was going to be this,” Sam thought. “I left because I had to, ok? That house was toxic. I don’t know how you’re still able to live under that roof. It’s suffocating.“
“Whatever, I don’t care. You’re my big brother; you were supposed to be there and you weren’t, and it’s bullshit. That’s all.” Brian pulled out his cigarettes. “Look, I get it, I’m happy for you. It’s just hard.”
“I get that.” Sam paused. “I wish you had come with me. You’d like it down there. You should visit.”
“Yeah, maybe,” said Brian, exhaling cigarette smoke. “I want to, I just haven’t. Mom told me you got a dog.”
Sam smiled. “You’d like him. He’s cuddly.” Sam looked down at his feet. “You mind if I bum one of those?”
“I’m out,” said Brian. “Here,” he said, passing Sam his half finished cigarette. Sam took a drag for the first time since high school. They sat together, smoke drifting upwards into Seattle skies. When the ember died out, their breath took the place of smoke in the cold air. They looked out on the empty field from their childhood; a place once full of wild animals, so vivid and alive in their captivity.
EDIT: the italics from word did not transfer in the copy/paste
Sweet_Joke_Nectar fucked around with this message at 05:05 on Nov 16, 2013
|# ? Nov 16, 2013 02:25|
I need to renege this week, and bring shame upon my family. Some other time.
|# ? Nov 16, 2013 03:00|
|# ? Nov 16, 2013 04:09|
Quick and Dirty Crits for Canty and Inthesto:
Funnily enough, the part of this that I like most about this may well be unintentional. The repartee going on between Chris and Jesse at the start about magic is very easily just interpreted as a kind of joke, Chris poking fun and being a prick by asking the impossible. Then the expectation gets subverted by the fact that, oh, he really is a magician. Well how 'bout that. I reckon you didn't mean it to read like that, though if you did - props. Just goes to show how strange it can seem to read a piece as an author and as a reader.
The conclusion is suitably prompt hitting and horrifying. The weaknesses of the piece lie in two places: firstly, the character of Chris is just too unlikeable. I see no good reason for it. You would do far better to have it as good-natured jibing. This would increase the emotional impact of what was happening to Chris in the second-half of the story. That leads us neatly onto the second problem, which is that the situation going from fine to hosed up is too abrupt. You lose the opportunity to build up the suspense and discomfit. You have the scenario that is perfect for that kind of psychological horror, but the story become imbalanced because of how it all pans out.
Again, Chris' reaction being anger rather than fear just reinforces the negative reader perception of the character and makes us sympathise less. I just don't see in a situation like that somebody reacting in that way. So yeah: two things to watch out for are characterisation and the weighting of your story. You have fluff in the first half that would be better used in building the climax of your story in the second half.
As different a story it would be pretty hard to imagine. I liked the idea and some of the execution, but in my opinion you didn't take it far enough. Since the aim of the story is nothing like excitement, you've got to be aiming at something else. Heart-warming? Amusing? Perhaps some from column A and a little from column B. I think you only brush the surface of the potential with what you've submitted.
Most of your story is just factual description of a cat getting onto a windowsill. The real strength, and the thing you should have stressed, was the perspective of the cat. What does this situation look like from a cat's POV? What does a cat think about this? We only really get this at the beginning and end of your story. The whole middle is just mind-numbing step by step account of a cat climbing. It actually serves very little purpose. Even the dramatic moment, the shredding of the draft paper, has no point.
|# ? Nov 16, 2013 20:38|
A bird story (1000 words)
“Are you really sure we should be doing this?” Sophia asked, already climbing the fence.
“Probably. Yeah. It’s totally worth it.” Actually, he had no idea. The zoo was closed for the season, but some of the birds were still out. He hated being broke.
It beat another night of sitting on the fire escape, chucking beer bottles into burned out dumpsters. He’d spent most of his cash on a bottle of bourbon. If he couldn’t treat her to dinner, he’d at least take her to the loving zoo.
“There! Who’s that!” she half spoke-half whispered. Cal glimpsed a white Stetson and sequins from the corner of his eye. He ducked, pulling Sophia down with him.
“What are you-“
“quiet! He’ll hear us!”
“so what? I think I know that guy,” she said.
“Know him? Are you loving serious?” He peaked out over the shrub. A cowboy stood there, hands in the back pockets of his Levis. He was staring at an enclosure.
“I think those are the owls,” Sophia said.
“Who the gently caress comes to a zoo at night?” Cal asked.
“Well, we’re here, aren’t we?” She said.
She continued, “my friend said she knew a girl that went out with him. His parents are rich but he wears that same outfit every day. She said his dad hated the Opry and that the only thing he took with him when he left was a banjo. Ran away on his birthday, his parents had bought him a brand new Corvette.”
He woke up alone in sweaty bedsheets; her bike and bass guitar were missing. The alarm clock hadn’t gone off yet. He remembered her talking before falling asleep.
“I don’t know about this job thing. Remember before? I guess you don’t but all I had was my guitar and a ticket to the next place I was goin’. Never needed a bank account or none of these letters’n poo poo they keep sending...I feel like I’m livin’ for somebody else” She’d said more, but it was gone in a haze of colour and warmth.
He didn’t smoke but he lit up the last of her Pall Malls. The nicotine rush cleared the morning crust off his brain. The closet was ransacked, she’d taken all her good stuff, the stuff she’d had before they’d met. All those earth-tone things he’d never seen her wear. She’d taken his Converse, too.
“Maybe it’s not too late to stop ‘er,” he said, flinging himself out of bed.
His phone was there, still in his jeans. There was a new message. His heart raced as he mashed his fingers into the screen.
“Sorry,” it read, timestamped four hours ago. He called her number. Her phone was in the other room.
“gently caress!” Noon hadn’t rolled around yet, it’d be too early to call her friends. He still had a few bucks in his wallet, and the Pony Low would be open already. It was time to regroup. He shot Stevie a text and went to put on his shoes. His Vans were ruined from last night, his workboots were filthy, and his high tops were gone. All he had left was a pair of cowboy boots.
He strutted into the bar, feet already blistering.
“Triple shot of whiskey, maybe some ice,” he said.
The bartender poured him a half tumbler and slid it over, “rough night?” he asked.
“Yeah maybe,” Cal answered.
Sunlight burst in, riding on squeaking hinges.
“Check what I found in the dumpster!” Stevie tossed a rough-looking Stetson at Cal.
Cal waved the barkeep over. The hours slipped by in a frenzy of cigarettes, cheap beer and ATM screens. The sun had set before Cal’s credit tanked.
“Man, you know what you need? You need a fuckin’ show. The boys are playin’ at the New Times tonight, we’d have to hoof it but it’d do you good,” Stevie said.
Cal nodded and muttered sounds that might have been words.
He sobered up enough to slip by the door man, Stevie slipped some notes from his pocket and disappeared. Someone handed Cal a beer. The opening band was playing, so he stumbled to the dance floor.
“These guys suck!” he said, mostly yelling, to the girl in the tight fitting dress beside him.
“What’s that, hun?” she asked.
“These guys! They suck!”
“Uh, sure.” She disappeared.
Beers came and went, the band stopped playing. He couldn’t read the clock anymore. Someone asked him if wanted to go smoke.
Someone else shoved him out the door, he tripped and landed hard.
“So you been sayin’ we suck, eh?” A bearded man stood over him. The banjo player.
Cal stood up and steadied himself on a wall, suddenly nauseous.
“I ain’t said nothin’,” he said.
“So now you’re sayin’ Claire’s a liar?”
Cal didn’t see the man’s fist connect with his gut, but the look of disgust on his face let Cal know he was throwing up. Projectile vomit everywhere. Another punch, this time to the face. The warmth told him he was bleeding. Instincts told him to run.
“You’re gonna be late for work,” Stevie said, shaking him awake.
“Where am I? Where’s my shirt?” he asked.
“My place. It’s Monday, you look like poo poo and smell like a dumpster and you’ve got an hour before work,” Stevie said, handing him a coffee.
He showed up at the job site fourty-five minutes late, headache just starting to set in.
“What on God’s green earth are you wearing, son?” the foreman asked.
He tried to explain what happened, that it was laundry day at Stevie’s and all he had was his dad’s old Easy Rider jacket, but all he managed to do was dry-heave.
“Go home. Yer done, here’s your last cheque. Jesus Christ, clean up, son,” the foreman threw crumpled twenties at him.
He sat at the bus station, bloodied hat in his lap and one foot on his guitar case. He was going to wherever the next bus was headed.
|# ? Nov 16, 2013 21:07|
It's All Happening
Mr. Bonidoo’s Discount Zoo always had new animals, or more accurately, had trouble keeping the old ones alive. It was Tommy’s birthday, and he was not overburdened with imagination. Each year he jumped up and down and ran in circles shouting “Zoo! Zoo! Zoo!” until he exhausted his chubby legs, and slumped over in a pre-birthday power coma.
Even though he was ten, Tommy had to ride in the oversized car seat his doctor had prescribed. His arms flailed in all directions indiscriminately, forcing his little sister flat against the other door. He hit the window, the ceiling, the back of his dad’s seat, and occasionally, his own stomach, which would cause him to let out a tiny “eep” and slump forward every few minutes.
“Here at last. The best and only zoo in all of Hastings, Nebraska” said his dad. “What do you say we start off the day with a dozen DooDogs?”
Tommy squealed and shook in his seat so violently it rattled one of the screws loose.
Tommy’s mother reached into her purse and handed Tommy two pills. He stopped screaming long enough to pop them into his mouth and chew them with his mouth open. His face scrunched up and he raked his tongue along the top of his teeth and smacked his lips.
“You know you’re not supposed to chew them,” said his dad.
“I know!” said Tommy, chomping away.
The family piled out of the car, and hooked Tommy up to his leash. Waiting in line, Tommy ran around his dad until the leash pulled taut, and then ran back the other way.
“What’s wrong with that kid?” somebody said.
“I’m orbiting! Like a planet!”
The family picked out a rusty picnic table in the shade, and devoured a dozen hot dogs between the four of them.
“I want to see the peacocks,” said his sister.
“No! I want to see Kaiser!”
His sister tried to object, but Tommy interrupted her with a roar each time.
“How about I take Tommy to see the lion, and you bring Lily to the other animals,” said his dad. “It’ll be better to talk to them alone anyway.”
His mom simply nodded, her eyes holding back tears.
“It’s ok, Mom, you can see Kaiser next year! Let’s go!”
Tommy tugged at the leash, and when he couldn’t go forward anymore, swayed from one side to the other, like a human metronome.
The lion cage was located at the back of the park, past the souvenir stalls with faded stuff animals and dusty toys, behind the overflowed restrooms. “Kaiser” was painted on the top of the exhibit in big, red, crossed-out letters. Underneath, a small wooden sign had been sloppily nailed to the wall. Several nails were bent to the side, and it said “Frank” in chalk.
Tommy made the face he always made when he was thinking hard: a look that had gotten him sent to the school nurse twice this year. “That’s not Kaiser.”
The lion was shaved and wearing a plastic cone. It did not roar, but sat staring at the concrete.
“His eyes look like your eyes, dad.”
“That’s because we’re both kings.”
Tommy looked at his dad and back to the lion again. “Oh, maybe. He doesn’t seem very kingly though. I don’t like this lion. Bear! Bear! Bear!”
Rosy the bear had three fused vertebrae from her former life in a Russian circus. The information board outside her cage had several faded pictures of her standing on her hind legs, her head thrown back in a fearsome growl.
"She eats her dinner like you, dad." Tommy giggled at the beast slumped on the urine covered concrete. Rosy slurped her dinner from her bowl without lifting her head.
"She's probably tired from working hard all her life with nothing to show for it."
But Tommy had lost interest, and was chanting "Eagle! Eagle! Eagle!" as he tugged the leash toward the aviary.
The sign said Pete the Eagle was named after a president, but which one Tommy was not sure.
“Dad, is that bird naked?”
Pete was pink and bumpy, a side-effect of his nervous plucking habit. He shivered on his perch and looked longingly at the sky.
Tommy’s dad knelt down and looked the boy in the eye. “Son, we need to talk.”
“The timing is all wrong, but I hoped that the fun day would help make what I’m about to tell you hurt a little less.”
“Are you going to die?”
“What? No. Your mother and I are getting a divorce. It’s not your fault; it’s mine. I’m like this Eagle here: I need to be free. I have too much spirit in me. I’m one twenty-fourth Native American, you know.”
Tommy stared blankly ahead, like he hadn’t heard anything. His small hands moved up to his stomach, and he puffed out his cheeks.
“I don’t feel so good.” He pushed through a crowd of people gawking and laughing at the bald eagle, and made sick in a trash can.
“You shouldn’t have eaten those five DooDogs.”
Tommy shuffled back to his dad and buried his face in the man’s flannel.
“I want to go home.”
Father and son walked in silence back to the entrance. Tommy clutched his stomach in one hand and his dad’s shirt in the other. He didn’t tug at the leash anymore.
At the front gate Tommy’s mom and sister waited. His sister had puffy red eyes and watched the ground.
Tommy ran to his mom and threw his arms around her legs and cried.
She patted his head. “I know it isn’t the best birthday, but at least it’s better than the time we forgot.”
|# ? Nov 16, 2013 21:18|
Just reminding everyone your submissions are due TONIGHT, not tomorrow!
|# ? Nov 17, 2013 00:03|
The Worth of What We Love
She always loses the remote. That canary of hers never shuts up. Inconveniences rattled through Neil's mind as he drove to work in the pre-dawn. The Golden Oldies station started up with Sonny and Cher, and he mashed the power button. No sense putting up with that when Ashley wasn't there to smile and bop around in the passenger seat.
She doesn't like Italian food, he thought, pulling in to the zoo's employee lot.
The apartment's too small for two, his mind whispered as he walked the dim, empty path to the barn enclosure.
But that concern tightened his chest, unlike the petty differences that were so easy to dwell on. He'd felt the same way at the jewelry store the night before: the tension hadn't gone away, and he'd left without a ring, and if he had any sense he'd call Ashley right now and tell her they would never work and he was sorry.
The Shetland pony in the barn whinnied for her breakfast. Neil shoveled feed into a bucket for her, then saw to the goat, the sheep, the pig, the chickens, and the rabbits. He gathered their night's leavings into a wheelbarrow while they grunted and clucked over their meals; the sky had brightened by the time he came back from adding their contributions to the compost, and a squeal of bus brakes cut the air from the direction of visitor parking.
Senior citizens, school classes, and families with strollers trickled through the gates. Only the youngest and most-citified children forgot about lions and camels long enough to get excited by creatures from a farmyard. Neil held the pig still so little hands could slap his fat sides. "Boaris doesn't mind at all," he told the kids. A toddler boy looked up at him with eyes just like Ash's and grinned.
Neil looked over his shoulder. The cry had come from a girl of twelve or thirteen, and he laughed to himself because he knew what had put that rapt look on her face. He let Boaris go and took hold of the Shetland pony's halter. Leading the animal to the girl earned him a sunrise smile, and she offered the pony her hand. The Shetland knew the score. She shoved her nose into the girl's palm and won a lifelong friend.
"Want to walk her around a bit?" Neil snagged a lead rope and snapped it to the halter. He handed its end to the girl without needing a verbal reply. Her expression said everything.
"What's her name?" the girl asked, stroking the pony's dusty neck; her hand came away grey and she didn't seem to care.
"Dolly. I call her Dolly Madison for long, 'cause she's sweet."
Neil watched them at first, but as they walked together in slow circles within the enclosure, the girl murmuring things to the animal that he didn't try to hear, his attention turned more to the children who wanted to hug a chicken or feed trash to the goat. It eventually registered with him that an hour had passed and the girl hadn't left the pony's side. "You're going to miss seeing the fancy animals," he half joked with her. "There are penguins, you know. Gorillas! A Komodo dragon!"
She said, "None of those are ponies."
And she seemed perfectly blissful to go around and around a tiny paddock while all her schoolmates were off elsewhere. Neil let her use a brush and currycomb on Dolly's rough sides, let her tell the younger children trivia about ponies. Ashley could and would rattle on that way about the penguins, given the chance; all he ever had to do to make her light up was talk about the birds in his Morgan Freeman voice. He'd come to love them a bit himself.
The girl surrendered Dolly's lead at a quarter past three. Neil hadn't looked closely at her in hours. Now he saw the red hives all over her face, on every exposed bit of skin. "We've got to get you to the infirmary, hon," he said, keeping his voice calm, low. No use panicking the others.
"No, no, no! I'm fine!" She held up her grimy hands. "I'm just allergic, it's not contagious, it doesn't hurt or anything. It'll be gone in about a day."
"You know horses do this to you?" Neil stared at the vivid rash. "What are you doing here?"
"It's no big deal. It's worth it." The defiance in her tone denied argument. "I wouldn't have missed Dolly for anything." She wrapped her arms around Dolly's neck, hugging the pony and getting more hair, sweat, and dander on herself for the sake of the moment. Then the girl was gone, running down the path to meet up with her class before they came out in search.
She always loses the remote, Neil thought while he swept up, hours later, his shift nearly ended. She loves those stupid songs. I'll have to watch Happy Feet every year of my life. He set the broom aside and fished his cell from his pocket.
"Hey, love," he said when Ash answered his call. "I've got a stop to make first, but will you have dinner with me tonight? Somewhere nice, maybe?" He scratched Dolly behind her jaw as he listened for the answer, smiling a sunrise smile.
|# ? Nov 17, 2013 02:18|
Untamed (996 words)
It was a beautiful afternoon for death, and zookeeper Bear was guiding an executioner across the false savannah to George’s home. The zoo’s most famous lion had bitten a stupid teenager, and the county court had ordered him dead. When the verdict had arrived, the curator had weathered Bear’s tantrum and given him a choice: either he or one of the clean-shaven city vets would escort the sheriff’s deputy to murder the lion.
Bear wouldn’t let his best friend die among strangers.
He rode beside the deputy in a steel prison. His head slammed the ceiling whenever they hit one of the safari road’s potholes. A dozen more cars followed behind.
“Almost there, right?” asked the deputy.
“You know the way?”
“Sure. Been an annual member forever. George’s my family’s favorite. My boy can’t sleep at night without his little plush George.”
“And you’re going to shoot him.”
The deputy said nothing.
Bear stuck his head out the window and pretended he was running free through the grass back in real Africa. Tonight, after closing time, Bear would burn George. His friend deserved a nobler end than as a flyblown carcass.
They stopped on a gated bridge over a concrete-bottomed moat. Bear opened the gate and glared as the cars drove past and parked.
He disliked the deputy; he hated the caravan of newspaper chimps. They hadn’t been mentioned to Bear until this morning. The Miami Herald’s monkey had asked why Bear was nicknamed Bear if he looked after lions. Bear had answered with a raised fist and the questions had ceased.
The deputy sauntered over. “Wish you guys hadn’t put that ditch in. Kinda ruins the landscape.”
Five years back, some tourists had ignored warnings and gotten out of their car, then panicked when a lion had stalked them. It was harmless, but they’d received an apology and the lions had been jailed inside a trench. “People are stupid beasts.”
“No argument here.” The deputy spat. “Let’s get this done.”
Bear got his pack and waded into waist-high grass. He opened his hands and rustled the stalks. Don’t startle lions; his parents, and growing up on a game reserve, had taught him that.
They stopped under an acacia and the pen-monkeys begged a break to smoke. Bear stood in the sun rather than endure their stink. The deputy joined him.
“We’re going to be out past dark if we drag them along,” said Bear.
“Well, everyone wants to hear about the Miami Man-eater.”
The zookeeper snorted. “George ate nobody. The kid threw rocks! He got off too easy.”
“Lions don’t have lawyers. If I had my choice, I wouldn’t be out here.”
“That makes two of us.”
“Look, my boy loves George but the Miami Man-eater terrifies him. This way, George stays George forever.”
Bear walked away. The hike resumed and, every so often, a baboon jogged up and burped questions, and Bear glared until he retreated. They arrived at the base of the hill where Bear fed the pride.
“Last break.” Bear went uphill until the savannah swallowed the reporters’ babble.
Soon, the deputy came up. “They’re saying you sleep up here.”
“Every night for ten years, since George was born.” The lion’s mother had died. Bear had bottle-fed him around the clock. “Can you send them home?” Bear nodded downhill.
“You let the cameramen in to see baby George, right? When the park stayed open late for Lion Nights, you put meat down by the visitors’ road, didn’t you? Every time I brought my boy here, there was George, perched on that same rock.”
The deputy sat down. “Bear, why’s the zoo here? Listen, ten years ago I was a park ranger out west. One spring a puma came down from the mountains. Beautiful cat, walked like a symphony. Some guy with a great camera got photos into National Geographic. Suddenly every campsite and cabin was booked half a year in advance.
“I remember one young couple - they were maybe nineteen. First time we met, I handed them a hundred-dollar ticket. Littering.”
“Pigs,” said Bear.
“Hold on. By year’s end, they’re running our Junior Ranger program, bussing in thirty teens every weekend. Kids who’d never stood outside on anything but concrete, and they all wanted to see the cat.”
“He killed one of them?”
“He went into the hills over the winter, never came back. But the kids did. Last week, the county announced they were gonna annex twenty acres for a Wal-Mart. Public hearing was yesterday. A hundred folks showed up. Junior Ranger veterans. The county killed the plan on the spot.” The deputy drank from his canteen. “How long’s this safari going to last if people are scared of your lions?”
Bear stared at the savannah’s distant edge. Years ago, only Florida swampland fenced him in; now there were power lines beyond the trees. He sniffed. George!
The lion crept towards them, ears twitching. His fur was the same tawny gold as the land, and his eyes were narrowed, hunting.
The deputy stood and drew his gun.
Bear stopped him. “Let me… let him die with dignity. Quietly.”
The deputy nodded and went downhill.
Bear whistled. George lumbered over and licked Bear’s hands. He wanted food. Bear scratched the lion’s shoulder and George sat. Bear took a hunk of plastic-wrapped liver from his pack and fed him.
While the lion chewed, Bear filled a syringe. He knelt, whispered apologies in George’s ear and pushed the needle into his friend’s neck.
George nuzzled his keeper, laid down and went to sleep forever.
The deputy returned. “I told the reporters to leave.” He patted George’s silent head and laid a hand on Bear’s shoulder. “Should I go?”
“You can stay if you want.”
“All right.” The deputy offered his hand. “Name’s Lukas.”
Bear shook it and smiled.
The sun bled dusk onto the treeline, and two men watched the day die.
|# ? Nov 17, 2013 02:58|
It started back when my Nan took me to see Flipper. I remember thinking how awful it was to sit there, with maybe fifty other people around me, and still feel so alone. It all changed when the screen lit up and I saw that beautiful creature swimming around, so full of boundless joy and energy. Its little chattering squeaks were like perfect love letters express-mailed to my soul. I could feel myself beaming, it was just this moment of beautiful kinship. Of belonging.
I watched all sorts of films after that, National Geographic ones as well as the fictional stuff. Read everything I could find, too. After a while I wanted to spend every weekend at the big-city zoo or the aquarium, whichever had the biggest tanks. I’d sit cross-legged on the cold tile, probably for an hour or more, just watching them swim and play. Sometimes they looked my way and let out this knowing, mischievous chitter. And I beamed right back.
Of course my parents, being pretty logical-minded, wanted to put a stop to this oblique behavior. They sent me across the ocean to a prep school, and they must have done their homework because, try as I might, I couldn’t find an aquarium or a zoo within a hundred miles of the place. Probably even two hundred. So I studied and got pretty decent marks, made friends with some of the boys, you know. Became average, or tried to at least.
After that I went home and got a pretty decent job, and then I met Magda. She was sweet. We got married, mostly due to the begging of our respective parents, and honestly I felt pretty good about it. But when we picked out our first house I made sure it was by the biggest and best aquarium I knew, because there was no chance I was going to live another day as lonely as I’d been at prep school.
Magda and I were hardly ever... intimate, looking back. I suspect she had some secret life, some irregularity her parents were eager to hide under a wholesome veneer of marriage, but I never held that against her. Every night after dinner I snuck off to the zoo and sat in front of the dolphin tanks, cross-legged, just like I had when I was a boy. But I was better than a boy now. I held the reins, and I guess Magda held hers. That’s probably why the divorce was so amicable; to some degree, we both knew.
For a while things got lonely. I delved back into old obsessions, which felt liberating but took a toll on everything else. My work slipped and soon I lost the job, and then the severance pay started to seep away into nature videos and bus passes to surrounding cities so I could see their aquariums. The extent of my human interaction was the grocery clerks asking if I wanted paper or plastic.One day, after answering that question, I grabbed a newspaper almost on impulse and flipped to the ad on page 4B:
“COME TO THE GRAND TRAVELING DOLPHIN STUNT SHOW!”
“TRICKS BEYOND YOUR WILDEST IMAGININGS!”
“FUN FOR ALL AGES!”
I thanked whatever higher power happened to be smiling on me, paid as quick as I could, and rushed home to get ready.
A week later I got in line at the zoo for the big opening show. I couldn’t help but be disappointed by the turnout, at least a little. Schlubby middle-aged guys with their wives and squabbling kids. Looking for something interesting to do on a lazy Saturday that wasn’t sitting around watching reruns, but where was the passion, the excitement? I know they don’t share my perspective, but it’s like if someone walked into a cathedral in a wife-beater, sunblock smeared all over their face. It’s just respect.
When I saw them I knew I had to go through with it. So when everybody was getting into their seats for the big show, I snuck backstage with my blue jumpsuit on. I milled around and tried to look busy, like I belonged there. Then everyone scattered and the trainer, a twenty-something girl in khaki shorts, strode through the curtain and up to the lip of the big tank.
I could hear her onstage, voice riddled with enthusiasm, playing to the crowd, but I wasn’t listening to the words. I closed my eyes, waiting, concentrating. The trainer’s voice reached a crescendo and I heard it, the mechanical click of the trapdoor and the rush of water as dolphins blasted out and into the show-tank.
I was overcome with the beauty of it. I pulled the cord on my jumpsuit and it fell away, leaving me entirely au naturel. Ignoring the shouts of startled interns, I bounded up the steps and onto the stage. I sprinted, shoving past the trainer and still going, reaching the edge and leaping outward before splashing down in the wide glass tank.
Then I drifted. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion. I hung there in the water for a moment, then swam forward. I could see three gorgeous bottlenose dolphins circling around me, the very picture of acceptance. One dove down in front of me and chattered a cheeky greeting. He nuzzled his nose against my forehead. Me. A five-foot ten naked Homo sapiens, a stranger one second and then practically part of the pod. I couldn’t stop beaming.
Of course, security hauled me out and I got thirty days for indecent exposure. Talk about a comedown. However, the day I re-entered society, I got a call from a little documentary crew. They read my story in the paper and (presumably after laughing their asses off) decided they’d like to do a film on me, and about dolphins in general.
I said yes, with one stipulation. I’ll show them to the dolphins if they’ll bring me to the ocean.
|# ? Nov 17, 2013 03:47|
You wouldn’t blame me for making a mistake, would you?
I was only sixteen. We were supposed to celebrate the beginning of my first year of high school. If only I did… Something more.
Well, it wouldn’t really make sense starting from the end right?
“Shane!” my friend called for me ahead, “Come look at this!”
Nicolas waved me over, a grin spread on his face. The sign overhead read: “TIGERS”
“These tigers are really loving stupid. Come on, I’ll show you!”
I followed my friend Nicolas over to the exhibit. “TATIANA,” the panel read, “SIBERIAN TIGER”
Nicolas and I had met at the beginning of summer while I was visiting my new high school in San Francisco. He thought himself an alpha male senior-to-be at the school, being the junior varsity captain of the men’s soccer team and all. I was a recent transplant from the Midwest and he showed me around. I trusted him, and respected him.
Nicolas leaned on the panel. “Shane, what if we got Tatiana to roar? You’d probably poo poo yourself!”
He smiled again. He liked to mess with me, sometimes too much. Others just happened to be unfortunate bystanders.
“Nick, I don’t think we should be back here so late,” I protested, “The zoo is starting to close. Plus, It’s getting dark already. The guards are probably out here looking for people like us and I’d rather not show up home in the back of a police car.
“I’ve had enough issues with my Mom getting on my case for taking a few shots on my birthday because of you. It was fun, sure, but that’s not the point! I would just rather not gently caress up things any more at home before school starts up again. I’d like to party still during the school year, you know!”
Nicolas and I peered through the rails.
A steel wall 12.5 feet tall and a dry moat 33 feet wide separated us and the 242-pound animal. Tatiana lay curled on her nesting place, one paw out stretched. Her eyes met Nicolas’, then glanced away lazily.
She ignored me.
“See? I don’t think she even knows we’re here!” Nick gave his usual high-pitched haa sound whenever he got excited about something. “Shane, grab me a stick.”
“Trust me, it’ll be funny. Just grab me a stick and give it to me.”
With some hesitation, I did as he told me. I walked across the way to a nearby bush, grabbed a branch then snapped off a piece. I handed the stick to Nicolas.
“Whatever it is you’re doing, just do it quick, okay?” I looked at Nicolas, then the ground.
When I looked back at Nicolas, I saw him reaching through the guard rail. Obviously he was trying to provoke the tiger into doing something.
I stepped to his side and looked through the rails.
Tatiana’s dark eyes were locked on the leafy branch Nicolas now taunted her with. Her tufted ears, once fluttering absent-mindedly, were now cocked back sharply. Her black lips parted to reveal yellowed teeth, faintly bending into a scowl. A low, guttural growl rumbled slowly through her opened mouth.
This was so incredibly stupid, I thought. Why was I letting my friend piss off this gently caress-off huge tiger from Siberia and not doing anything about it? Why?
“Seriously? What are you doing man? We shouldn’t be out here.” I nudged Nicolas on the shoulder, “Come on, let’s go.”
“Hold on, dude. Just, let me get this lion to roar at us and we’ll leave, I promise we’ll go then. Hold on.”
Nicolas pulled his arm back out from the rails. He tossed the branch to the side and grabbed the rails with both hands. Before I realized what was happening, he started making his way up.
“Whoa. Dude, dude! No, what are you doing?” I tried hard to restrain myself to avoid attracting any unwanted attention.
I just stared up at him. One, two, not even three seconds — and he was straddling the fence, one leg over the edge already.
“Relax. I’ve got this.” He looked down at me hard in the eyes, “You’ve always freaked out about poo poo like this, and then what? Nothing bad happens - at least not for the long run, right? Let me have this, okay?”
Nicolas turned to face the animal. He waved. The low growl grew nearer, and louder.
“Okay, I think she’s going to roar now! Come on, Shane, go up to the bars already and check this out with me! She’s probably going to roar any second now!”
Thoughts raced in my head. I could only look at the ground. poo poo, this is bad. We need to go, now! Didn’t this tiger attack a zookeeper last December? Oh poo poo, we have to leave…
What should I do? I paused.
I noticed my heart was pounding. I was suddenly searching for my breath.
“Dude, this isn’t funny. If you don’t leave with me right now, I’m going to have to leave without you.”
I heard a shriek.
I looked up.
No sooner had the words left my mouth did my breath stop in my throat.
My friend was struggling desperately, shrieking, on the top of the wall. His torso, unseen, dangled in the tiger’s domain. I heard horrible squelching noises and snarling from the other side of the wall.
Nicolas’s eyes were fixed on mine. In them was a mixture of panic, pain, and sadness. They burned through, into me.
And just like that.
He was gone.
Teriyaki Koinku fucked around with this message at 04:35 on Nov 17, 2013
|# ? Nov 17, 2013 04:24|
Nests (551 words)
Grandfather. Grandfather. Tell me about the birds.
Yuri peeled his weathered eyes. Again Sasha traced the request into his hand.
Grandfather. Grandfather. Tell me about the birds.
They were sitting at a bench, the boy in his lap. They'd brought a bag of peanuts which lay scattered among the leaves. The leaves, Yuri smiled. Sasha had been fascinated by them for a time. Turning them, inspecting them, rubbing them between his fingers. Now he wanted to know about the birds. A reasonable request. They had after all come down to the zoo.
Again Sasha signed, and Yuri closed his hand around the boy's. Sasha smiled and looked up at him, eyes wide and unseeing. Yuri smiled back and ruffled his grandson's hair.
"So you want to know about the birds?" he said as he signed. He spoke for himself. It helped him to focus. Sasha paid close attention to the shape and form of his grandfather's fingers. At last he understood, and nodded to confirm.
Yuri looked from his grandson to the cage. It was a black and wretched thing. The iron bars were coarse and decaying and weak, the bricks at the base each faded and loose. Yuri didn't feel the need to communicate these things to his grandson. He whet his lips with his tongue and told him what he wanted to hear.
He told him about the birds.
"A good dozen of them, this one. Fair few more than the other. All different colors this time, blue and some gold. There's a few of them there, flittering around the cage like madmen. Trying to escape. The rest save their strength, gathered among the branches. Older and wiser. They know they know best."
What kind of tree is it?
The tree was bent and sickly, its branches gnarled and reaching, clawing for something it would never have again. The interior of the cage had been cleared of leaves. Yuri briefly wondered whether it had any to begin with.
"It's a fine old tree. Strong and proud. It's lost the last of its leaves, but looks no leaner for the loss. Looks to be older than me even, older than grandma. I think if it could think, it would be happy where it is."
Sasha laughed. It was a painful sound that echoed in Yuri's ears and in his heart. The boy closed his eyes and leaned into his grandfather's beard. Yuri was to continue.
"Two birds in particular I see. Very handsome. The male bobs his head to the female, puffs his chest. She seems taken with him. Now they've started to circle the cage. I think perhaps we should leave them be. Allow them some privacy."
Sasha slid off his grandfather's lap and turned expectantly, staring at nothing. Slowly, Yuri stood and stretched, his old bones aching, his heart a bit lighter. Sasha extended his hand and Yuri took it, gesturing for the boy to lead him where he would. It did not matter. The bench behind them, Yuri allowed himself one last glance to the cage. The far side had burst open long ago, and the management had never gotten around to fixing it. But still he remembered it, back in its prime. It brought him some warmth that Sasha would too.
|# ? Nov 17, 2013 08:00|
Outside the Walls
The wolf howled, again, and Eloise shivered.
It wasn’t loud; a soft lament, like a cold wind playing over an organ pipe. But she didn’t like it. The wolf had padded out from the bush and pressed its dry black nose against the inner chain link fence. Its eyes were pale and luminous.
“Come on sweetheart,” said Eloise to her daughter, who was climbing up the outer fence. “Let’s go see the giraffes.”
Sarah-Louise was happy to comply, clambering down and chattering away about the big white doggie. Eloise didn’t correct her. She had just seen Hank walking up the path ahead of her. Fifty feet away, give or take; he must have passed them as they were looking at the wolf.
“Hank,” she said. He didn’t stop. “HANK.”
He stopped, turned. Despite the distance she could see his expression as though he was standing in front of her; closed off, walled up. Sarah-Louise screamed “Daddy!” and bolted towards him. He kneeled down, took the impact as she catapulted herself into his arms.
There was a weight in Eloise’s stomach as she walked up the hill towards the two, riffled through all the things they always said, each a railway track leading towards a fight, discarded them one after the other. Keep it simple, she thought. Pleasantries. Don’t make your daughter cry again.
Then she was close enough to talk. He said “I didn’t think you came here anymore.”
The gall of that statement suddenly overwhelmed her and she was shouting before she knew it. “I’m supposed to stay away? I’m supposed to stay away so you can visit your, your slut of a girlfriend?”
His face reddened and he stood up. “Don’t call her that. Don’t you dare. You were the one who left me, don’t make it about--” And, so, it went.
A part of Eloise’s mind was cataloguing the accusations and matching each one with an injustices, arraying the shafts and laying them ready for flinging. She could feel the dreary inevitability of the fight, another among so many, and guessed that he could too. Sarah-Louise had taken a few steps back when they started, bottom lip quivering, then turned and scuttled up the path away from them both. Looking for something to climb, Eloise thought.
They were face to face now, gasping for breath. The first rush of blow and counterblow had passed and traditionally were ready to start the grinding trench warfare part. Hank opened his mouth to begin, then stopped, at something in her eyes. “Oh,” she said. “Oh no.” There was a crack, a thump of impact.
Sarah Louise had climbed an old Pohutukawa tree, over hanging the path. The branch had broken. She lay on the concrete, unmoving and silent amid a tangle of rough bark and crimson petals.
They ran, together. Her face was grey, eyes open. An erratic trickle of blood was coming from the base of her skull.
Eloise had a sudden vision of her old life behind a double layer of chain link fence, looking at her with pale and luminous eyes.
|# ? Nov 17, 2013 08:02|
Trying to Be a Father
“It smells like poop.”
“It’s called dung, Dad. Its different when it aminals. Aminals.”
“Animals. And it still smells like poop,” he said, waving his hand dramatically in front of his nose, “Pee-yew!”
She grabbed a tiny fistful of popcorn and tried to be helpful by putting some up his nose. It mostly got stuck in his moustache. She laughed and he made a silly face. She laughed harder and it made him laugh, too. A loud, booming sound that echoed off the walls. Women with nice clothes and designer carriages couldn’t mask the horror on their faces.
His leather cut stood out amongst the light pastels of the soccer moms and the house wives. His hair was longer than theirs. His beard was almost as big as their children. Bikerus Dangarious, his plaque might read. There might be a cartoon of him next to it with arrows pointing at and describing his tattoos.
“Daddy like popcorn,” he yelled in a monster voice, “Nom nom nom! Feed daddy popcorn!”
She squealed as he picked her up and squeezed her against his chest. Her little fingers weaved through his facial hair and popped the pieces into his mouth. He smacked his lips loudly as he chewed. She grabbed his lips with her hands and giggled.
“You done with the elephants, baby?” he asked as he kissed away her fingers.
“What’s next, baby?”
She pointed without looking. She knew this zoo better than anyone. As they walked, she gleefully rattled off facts she knew. Did he know that red pandas weren’t actually pandas? Did he know that panda’s were actually bears? Did he know that polar bears have black skin? Did he know that boy seahorses had the babies? Did he know that hippos were faster than humans?
He did know that gorillas could learn sign language but he let her tell him all the same.
Neither of them noticed strollers pulling to the other side of the sidewalk as they approached. A pair of pale faced parents pulled their children away from the glass and she she eagerly took their place.
“Orangutan,” she repeated, “I knew that.”
The animal in question was chewing its food only a few feet away. His daughter pressed her face against the glass. He rested his arms over hers.
“An adult male has an average arm span of over eight feet,” she said, “Is that bigger than yours?”
“Just barely,” he said.
The ape in the front made eye contact with him. Looked at his hands. Stared at his forearm like it could read his tattoo. No Cages. It was a sentiment with which it seemed to agree.
But it didn’t agree because it was an orangutan and couldn’t read.
“That’s a fat monkey,” he said and played the drums on his belly, "Fat like daddy."
“Its an ape!” she said, wrapping her arms around his knee, “Its called an ape. They is different.”
He felt her press against his ankle monitor. He smiled at his daughter.
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 08:09 on Nov 17, 2013
|# ? Nov 17, 2013 08:06|
Home a little late. Submissions now closed.
|# ? Nov 17, 2013 08:25|
Aw, gently caress. In an attempt to ward off my self-inflicted banishment for not submitting, this post will shortly turn into my story. A late submission is still a submission, right?
|# ? Nov 17, 2013 08:30|
Late submissions are fine.
Edit: It's more than 8 hours now and I'm harbouring concerns about your usage of the word "shortly".
The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 16:46 on Nov 17, 2013
|# ? Nov 17, 2013 08:35|
Yeah, falling asleep while finishing the story wasn't that great of an idea in these circumstances.
Lionheart (661 words)
Daniel leaned against the fence above the clearing containing the fuckin' badass samurai of the savannah. More commonly known as "lions", for those unused to dealing with the numerous colorful phrases Michael had loved to spread throughout his everyday speech. He'd always liked comparing himself to a lion, saying "They're deadly, powerful predators with kickass blonde manes, right?" He'd said, flexing his almost non-existent muscles. "Totally me."
Michael had chosen to ignore Daniel when he pointed out that it was the female lions that did the work. He had never liked it when reality conflicted with the images he had already formed in his head, a trait that Daniel always found quite infuriating and endearing in equal measure, depending on how much he felt like arguing that day.
However fond Daniel had been of Michael, he'd always felt as if their friendship had been forced upon him. An only child with parents that were often too busy with work to pay him any mind had to find some way to entertain himself, and when Michael discovered that his neighbors had a son the same age as himself, he had shown up at Daniel's doorstep, saying "Yo! I'm your neighbor, Michael! Let's go do stuff!" After a quick introduction and explanation to Daniel's mother, Michael raced out the door, dragging Daniel along in his wake.
Despite the rather rude nature of the boy's initial meeting with Daniel, he eventually grew to consider Michael a close friend, and invited him along to his family's yearly voyage to the local zoo. Michael, having never been to a zoo in his life, had accepted with explosive enthusiasm.
The family had gone through all the usual attractions (Daniel had been rather fond of the penguins, himself. He'd felt that they had a sort of ridiculous dignity,), but none of them had caught Michael's attention as much as the lion's enclosure. "Dude, they're all like 'I see you, puny human! I slumber for now, but I can destroy you with a single swipe of my claws!' So cool!" He'd said, staring down at the animals peacefully sunning themselves.
Ten years later, now, Daniel tilted his head, studying the lions. He'd never been able to see what had fascinated Michael so much about them. Not that it was anything special or new, he'd never really been able to understand any of Michael's other quirks, either.
Michael soon became a fixture at the annual trips, always taking special care to view the lions. Time passed, Michael and Daniel soon parted ways and headed off to separate colleges, but they still made sure to get together once a year for their traditional trip to the zoo.
This was the first year that Daniel went alone, feeling empty inside. Michael had been almost a larger-than-life figure to him, standing invincible and uncaring against all that life had to throw at him. The car accident shattered both Daniel's illusions and Michael's life.
So, there Daniel stood, lost and alone and desperately clinging to the past in an attempt to give himself some shred of comfort. He absently stared at the lion cubs, keeping an eye on one especially energetic cub in particular, play fighting with its siblings. Michael had, on one occasion, rambled on about how he'd like to become an animal when be died. "Being human is cool and all, but do you know how frickin' awesome it'd be to like, have tails and claws and teeth, poo poo like that? All would bow below the fearsome Michael, ruler of animal kind!"
It was a dumb thing to think, Daniel knew. Still, a small part of him wanted it to be true. Couldn't hurt to pretend, at least for a little bit. "Later, Michael." He whispered, smiling and turning away from the cub. Daniel left the zoo and the ghost of his friend behind, but they would still be waiting for him next year, when their next traditional visit was scheduled.
|# ? Nov 17, 2013 22:22|
Thunderdome Week LXVII: Lions and Tigers and Bears M-M-M-M-M-MEGA RESULTS!!
This week's prompt was inspired by Haruki Murakami's New York Mining Disaster, which starts out thusly:
Haruki Murakami posted:
A friend of mine has a habit of going to the zoo whenever there's a typhoon. He's been doing this for ten years. At a time when most people are closing their shutters, running out to stock up on mineral water, or checking to see if their radios and flashlights are working, my friend wraps himself in a Vietnam-era army surplus poncho, stuffs a couple of cans of beer into his pockets, and sets off. He lives about a fifteen-minute walk away.
That's about as much zoo centric story as we get in that story. I've learned this week that if you actually want stories about a zoo that are NOT set in a zoo, maybe you should say that. I've also learned that it's very hard to make the mundane interesting in a way where things actually happen. Not all of us can be Haruki Murakami, I suppose.
The winner this week is Erogenous Beef for a story that managed to not only be a slice in time, but to have actual character development where people changed and poo poo. Congrats, Beef Man. Close calls and honorable mentions go to Kaishai, who had a fantastic through-line, and crabrock for hilarious dysfunction turned poignant family. But seriously, why do all of you associate the zoo with divorce? Freud would have a field day with this thread.
Our loser this week is Nubile Hillock for a piece that is not so much about a zoo but features a zoo in it. I like your conceit, Nubile, but I can't make heads or tails of what is supposed to be going on, and we shift scenes faster than a Tarkovsky film. Ultimately, you lost because the prompt was totally tacked on.
Dishonorable mention goes to TheRamblingSoul for recounting a story I literally saw featured several nights in a row on KRON-4 in the Bay Area two years ago. Booooooo.
Sitting Here wins the "what the gently caress am I reading" story award for the week for her lovely portrayal of paraplegic boners. Congrats, I guess.
No shows of shame for the week: Pantology at least told us he wasn't going to be here. Bitchtits McGee, Jagermonster, and TenaCrane all went to the zoo or something. dmboogie posted a story I haven't even read yet but will crit.
I'll have my crits up in about an hour or so. Beef, take us to next week when you wake up, friendo!
Quidthulhu fucked around with this message at 05:33 on Nov 18, 2013
|# ? Nov 18, 2013 05:27|
Sitting Here - A Portrait of the Endless Scatalogical Cycle of Life and Death
I don’t know much about progressive degenerative diseases and the psychological affects having one brings, but your protag is incredibly cynical. It fits with your story as it progresses – the contrast of the caged animals fornicating and the cage of your protag’s own body – but it is a tad disconcerting to read as it starts out, mostly because I have no sense of your protag’s age. He’s presented as both wise and naïve, which I guess is further “older person trapped in his degenerating body” territory, but he’s almost TOO young and old at the same time – being treated like a child and being annoyed by that and yet having sexually stunted language like “texting a girl” and “porno-type thoughts.” I think I’d like to see it fall one way or the other – either he’s old minded and physically sexually stunted but well versed in the language of loving since he’s sexually fixated, or he’s emotionally young all the way through. Other things that throw off this sense of his age are how clinical he is in describing himself – is he memorizing the speeches of the doctors? Why does he have such precise knowledge of the way his face looks? Again, I don’t have doctors pouring over me on a monthly basis, so maybe this is par for the course, but it strikes me as a bit odd.
That said, my problems with your story are very very nitpicky. Reading it again, I can see a solid through-line, and I like that you’ve worked in parallels with the zoo and his condition. I love the ending. I also love the title. There are a few sentence structure typos, and I dislike those. Overall, nice submission.
Fraction – The Eye of the Tiger
Calvin and Hobbes clone where the little girl kills her emotional issues by seeing a lazy tiger. Your omnipresent narrator feels too old for the childish behavior Lily is exhibiting, and I feel that works against your story – we get things in the beginning the make us feel Lily is older than her years (the exact date of the divorce, her cognizant analysis of her mother’s understanding re: Tia being different than hers, her analytical nature), but from a narrative standpoint we should see the things happening at the end, when she loses her desire to be a child. As such, the portrayals of her childish antics and the big problem – not dealing with her emotions because she’s pushing them on the tiger – just doesn’t work for me. This story might do better if you changed it to first-person, or if you kept the narrative’s voice for after the tiger experience and took on a more story-like, fantastical tone in the beginning.
Compare your story to this: http://i.imgur.com/WCwcMTP.jpg This makes me sad because I have a background of their relationship and their fantastical adventures. If I were drawn in to Tia’s world in the beginning, I might care more about her loss of youth; as it is now, I don’t really care that this little girl is leaving her stuffed tiger behind.
Your story is well written and fits my prompt well. Examine how you wrote it, I guess!
Lazy Beggar – Nim
“Nim jumped down from his tree. He sauntered towards the hard, shiny trees to see who was there today.” The tree he was in and the new trees and tree tree a story about people in trees. You almost lost me right here. And then you said “tree” four more times in your first paragraph and I really wanted to stop reading.
I really have no idea what is going on in your story. I get the conceit – we’re looking at a monkey in a zoo – but I can make neither heads or tales of who the people in your story are or what Nim is feeling, and why I should care about what is happening (which is also unclear). Again, I think this is a narrator issue – we’ve got an omnipresent narrator who seems as clueless as Nim, and as such, your narrative is far too “I, the writer, know what I am saying but I refuse to tell you for ~monkey secrets~.” And yet, for Nim not being able to recognize people, he sure as hell has a ton of introspection about the sadness that comes with being a caged animal. And so your story attempts to be secretly deep, but in the end we’re left confused and unsure of what we just read.
Choose one: the monkey is a animal that is unable to distinguish people and moves on animal instinct. If so, put it in first person, and cut the introspection – make it about feelings and flashes of fear or whatever. OR – the monkey is an incredibly introspective being that we can empathize with on a humanistic level. In that case, let us know who the other people are in the story, at least by like “the one with the red hair” or something.
Who is calling his name in this story? Are these people his keepers or random people at the zoo? Is there another monkey they’re adding to his enclosure, is that the small thing, because it could also be a child looking through the bars with his or her mother. I just don’t get it. I think if you made the choice I’ve talked about here, it would make a lot more sense. Please don’t hide your meaning from the reader, we won’t think you’re awesome at creating the mystery of how animals think, we’ll say “what did I just read,” as I have.
Zack_Gochuck - Polar Bears
“John is an immature douche who left his wife and his son hates him for it.” There, I just told your whole story in one sentence.
I was really worried that nothing was going to happen in your story until the end, which actually salvaged it a little. Too much time is spent on seeing why their relationship doesn’t work and not enough time on why we should be sad about that. We get it, John is a lout – he likes fart jokes and he eats poo poo regardless of it being edible and he is loud and obnoxious. We get that this is not his son’s personality and that his son doesn’t want to spend time there. But your ending would work a lot better if there was a reason for us to care about that – right now we just walk away with “welp, John is and continues to be a tool.” I do like the way you showed us that in the final part – that John is going to attempt to fix his marriage via a text message and can’t even do that – and we do get to see that he cares about his son enough to potentially not be selfish, but one paragraph in 510 words is not enough for me to care. Especially since you’ve made Owen a mopey non-entity.
This could work very well; right now, it doesn’t.
Sicklysweet45 – Half the Battle
I love your take on the zoo theme. You managed to put people on display without having aliens or supernatural forces at play, which is absolutely fantastic. Your writing is very strong and engaging while managing to be very simple, and everything up until the ending works for me. But I don’t buy that one little girl can break this person’s commitment to her lifestyle being acceptable to the point that she immediately cries and howls. I think I’d rather see it plant that seed of doubt and nothing more – to me, having a small child create the crack rather than shatter the façade is much more powerful. And honestly, while I like the comparison to an animal when she roars, I feel like you made your story take a right turn to “I need the human to roar like an animal” rather than letting it naturally get there.
Furthering this point: Why does she laugh it off at the end? This thought of “human zoos are actually bad” that apparently she had never seriously entertained before (and now which has shattered her worldview) is quickly dismissed and dropped in a heartbeat. The message of your story doesn’t line up – either leave her destroyed or have her doubting or have her not care. All three don’t work for me.
Final nitpick point: “Hi, small one” is not broken English, that is a perfectly formed English sentence. Just because you say it to make this person sound foreign doesn’t mean it is so.
I’m being incredibly nitpicky overall, though, 2/3rds of your story worked for me. It was a very enjoyable read and I was engaged. Nice work there.
Sweet_Joke_Nectar – Farewell To Woodland Park
First and foremost: STOP. WRITING. ABOUT. GODDAMNED. FECES.
I like the intro to your story a lot. I like your writing in the beginning; it’s simple, descriptive, let’s us read between the lines a little bit. We get to see the difference between the two brothers, that Sam is still protective. “This is where it all began to fall apart” is where it began to fall apart for me, too – it’s a very hamfisted statement. And then the nostalgia conversation just doesn’t really do it for me, nor their conversation afterwards. Since Sam is the focus of your narrator, I think I’d rather just see his thoughts and how he deals with things and have him come to his own conclusions about their relationship based on their conversation. Yes, I understand this could be the place to have this kind of conversation, with everything all around them falling apart, but it still feels a bit stilted – these don’t seem like the kinds of brothers who would be having this kind of open, honest conversation about their feelings, and I don’t know why Sam knew this was the direction he was going to go.
You pull it back where I want it at the end – them not saying what’s really going on and Sam observing. That is what is more interesting to me. I think your story would be stronger without the overt telling of how they feel.
Still, it’s well written, it engaged me, and I liked it. A few tweaks from telling to showing and I think this could be a very strong piece. Some of your language is also very nice although on the border of purple – but then, that’s how I write, so I might be biased in thinking it fits ok.
Solid effort, scat man.
|# ? Nov 18, 2013 06:03|
Critique post, part deux.
Nubile Hillock – A bird story
This is not a story about a zoo. This is a story about a drunken man who lives a drunken life and apparently passes in and out of consciousness, because that’s the only way I can parse your disjointed prose as making any semblance of sense with the timeshifts that happen randomly. I would have had less problems with the hamfisted way you stuck the zoo into the story if you had mentioned a few times “they had been to the zoo last week.” I actually wanted to see some stories that had the zoo play a part and that weren’t SET in the zoo, but not like this. The zoo plays zero part in your story. This does not meet the prompt.
Moving along from the prompt drop: I like stream of consciousness, but not like this. Give me some page breaks or something. Like I said, I can sort of understand “drunken stupor” but it doesn’t work me, I don’t want to be in a zoo and then suddenly without any sort of transitional warning be in bed. I don’t know which parts of your story are real and which parts are imagined, and not in a good way. I don’t know who your protagonist is and why I should care because I don’t really understand what’s going on. Your hook is good, really: two people breaking into a zoo and they see a cowboy. That’s weird. I never get it explained, because all of a sudden they’re both rockstars. The only hint we get of this is “opry” and with a cowboy standing in front of them I thought we were maybe in a zoo in the 1850s or something, but then there were cellphones. Everything is disjointed, I can’t follow it, and I don’t like it. I wanted the story to be about the random mystical cowboy in the zoo with the two people breaking in. You should have stuck with that.
Other nitpicks: Capitalize the beginnings of your sentences, even if it’s dialogue. It looks like YOU were drunk when you wrote this because of how it flows and how sloppy it is. Pagebreaks would help a lot, I would have less of a problem if I knew that you were shifting mid-conversation because there were a bunch of dashes (although I still might not like that you shifted.) I have a problem with one of your two main characters vanishing after three lines, and suddenly there being a cast of 8 or so nameless folks for 1000 words. Everything about this confuses me.
You are also 1 word over the word limit.
Crabrock – It’s All Happening
I love the idea of a dysfunctional, self-indulgent zoo serving as the backdrop of a day for a totally dysfunctional, self-indulgent family. The narrative is hilarious and your capture the ADHD infused, self-centered ten year old perfectly. You also do a great job of painting a picture of the father as a self-centered prick as well. Then reality comes crashing in and suddenly we get to see that Tommy actually is a child, and that the mother is also just as dysfunctional as the father. Clearly, there is a reason this family is not working at all. The only normal person seems to be the sister. I was going to say I wish I had seen more of her, but the fact that the lynchpin of normalcy in the family is completely ignored by your narrator is actually pretty awesome.
Everything about this works for me. Excellent effort.
Kaishai – The Worth of What We Love
This captured the “make the mundane interesting” aspect of the prompt perfectly for me, and managed to feel like a moment in time even if it took all day in actuality. It’s poignant without being hamfisted, even though it is sugary-sweet at the end of the day. I can’t really find much to say about this other than I really liked it – your writing is good, the through-line is natural and engaging, the parallel of his repeated thought-process is near perfection without feeling overdone. Very, very good.
Erogenous Beef – Untamed
Another interesting take on “zoo,” which I dig. I like the character shift of Bear from lumping the deputy in with the hypocrits and then coming around to sharing in the sadness with him. I like the message, and how it is presented; it’s classic, but not done in an overtly vomit inducing way. I like the zoo references to almost everyone involved, including Bear’s name and the monkey-circus. I like the turn, and the ending. Really, I like everything about this piece. It is well done.
Minor nitpicks: It’s only a beautiful afternoon to die if you are enjoying the killing – no one in their right mind going to murder what is essentially a family member is going to go “LOOK AT HOW BEAUTIFUL TODAY IS” unless they are purposefully spitting the irony, which your narrator isn’t really doing here because we haven’t gotten into the story from the first line. I also don’t buy that this dude is out sleeping with the lions every day, but I get what you were going for.
Nikaer Drekin – Homo Delphinidae
Is this a Seapunk Fantasy or borderline Dolphin Erotica? Or maybe it’s Lisa Frank fanfiction. Anyway. I don’t mind your concept, but the problem I have is it gets too weird, and it feels like just for the sake of getting weird. I would have had less of a problem with this story if it had just been about a sad guy who goes to see a dolphin show and is disappointed and compares their captivity to his own sad life, or he goes there and is invigorated by their beauty, or he goes there and literally does anything other than get naked and swim with dolphins. It feels like this is a story where you said “I will write a story where at the end, the guy swims naked with dolphins” and the rest of the narrative is constructed around that.
So that leaves the rest of the narrative, and I’m not sure why it’s there. It sets up that he likes dolphins ~a lot~ but it does so for too long. The thing with not being able to connect with his wife is…I’m not sure why it’s in the story. We know he likes dolphins ~a lot~, do we really need to see that his marriage doesn’t work? If dolphin love and his inability to connect with things Not Dolphin is the point of your story, I think you set that up decently in the first two paragraphs. Basically, everything that happens up until the dolphin nudity is fluff that doesn’t set up the dolphin nudity well. The setup in itself is not a bad setup, but it is an ineffective setup for the right turn you give us.
TheRamblingSoul – The Tyger
Ok, aside from the fact that this story is stolen directly from an incident that occurred at the San Francisco Zoo, this is again a story that can be summed up in one sentence: “My friend got killed by a tiger at the zoo.” Let’s go into why this doesn’t work for me as a “slice in time”piece.
First, let’s look at this intro. Why is this intro here. It’s not bad for the first page of a Manga, but it’s totally unnecessary when words are a precious commodity. I think you’re trying to set up some moral connection with the end of the story – you directly state that the ending is important – but you never follow through. Your story just ends, with no tie-in to the intro. This is even more wasted space, and leaves us with questions – why does he feel it’s his fault? We see nothing in the story that tells us he feels bad about this, just that his friend is a tool. Either follow through, or don’t. Don’t set it up and then leave us hanging.
This story is honestly just one big cliché. All the dialogue is stilted characterization of stereotypes – the bad dude and the way you describe him initially, the hesitant newcomer, and the alcohol usage. And then his torn in half torso talks to his friend? I don’t get to know either of these characters beyond snap judgements I could pass on them just by watching them walk around the zoo for five minutes.
I also might be more forgiving if you hadn’t referenced William Blake in your title. You, sir, are no William Blake.
Bad Seafood – Nests
This story feels like a metaphor for the old country of Yuri’s youth, and I don’t know if that’s because of the two people’s names or if that’s what you were going for, but unfortunately approaching this in that mindset makes everything in the piece seem biased toward that idea. With that in my mind, everything feels a little too overt for me – the strength of the gnarled tree in spite of its flaws, the prison of the cage, etc. If you were trying to hit the Soviet Era undercurrent, I guess you succeeded ok, but I am not totally convinced this is what you were going for and it leaves me a little confused.
The main point of your story is that this kid is blind and the grandfather is telling him things he thinks he wants to know about birds, but I didn’t know he was blind until I was told so. I thought it was baby sign language at first or something. Ultimately, the whole thing just falls flat for me, first without knowing the kid was blind and then even after. It’s another case of “why do I want to be watching these people interacting.” It’s interesting, and well written, but not a slice of life I feel I need to observe.
Sebmojo – Outside The Walls
This was a better picture of a moment in time I wanted to see, and one of the best of the “divorce is the theme of the week” stories we had. You managed to capture a solid sense of the characters and who they were in a very short word count, which I was impressed with. I felt the story unfolded very naturally, and although the ending is a bit clichéd, I didn’t have a huge problem with it. Really, this story is not bad by any means; I enjoyed your writing and I enjoyed the story. At the end of the day, though, something doesn’t QUITE work for me, although I can’t put my finger on it and don’t know if I could tell you exactly what it is. It’s a solid showing, though.
Tyrannosaurus – Trying To Be A Father
I like your writing, T-rex. I like this story, actually. But I have two problems with it: first, legitimately nothing happens. If I’m going to read a story about nothing, I want to see at least a moment or two in it where it makes me think beyond “oh hey he’s like a monkey too.” Secondly, I don’t like how much he acts like a big oaf, pandering to his daughter as if she were a baby. He seems to recognize she’s intelligent, enough to have taken her to a zoo and to be placating her when she tells him information she already knows. So why is he baby talking her? Doesn’t make sense and plays against their relationship. I like the contrast of his own incarceration with the incarceration of the orangutan, although it is a bit “well that’s obvious.” Ultimately, I think this story has a lot of potential, I just want to see more of a change from beginning to end, rather than it simply being “man act like monkey.”
|# ? Nov 18, 2013 06:05|
Thunderdome LXVIII: Once Upon A Crime
Hello, Divorced Dome of Depression! This week, you're going to write a (terrible) story and I will glower from the blood throne, so let's make this more fun.
It's time to play a little game called "Thunderdome Hold 'Em". Here's how it works.
You can choose any genre you want, anything at all.
Now, in everyone's story, a crime has taken place prior to the story's opening line. Ten seconds, ten hours, ten years, I don't particularly care when, just don't open with long slabs of the pluperfect telling me what happened.
Next, you will select two things from THE LIST and declare which two you are using in your signup post. They must be included in your story somehow. Very close substitions for setting/genre fit are allowed - for example, if you were to pick the icebreaking ship, but were writing sci-fi, you could make it an icebreaking spaceship.
THE LIST, PICK TWO:
* A jaunty, yet disturbing, ditty which reveals something about the character(s) who like it - think Psycho Dad
* A beard that does not stop growing. Ever.
* A sumptuous buffet of hideous delicacies.
* A game of pinfinger. Your story may not be set in a bar, tavern or other normal venue for this game.
* Big game hunting. For chickens.
* Chlorine Trifluoride. (Video!)
* Pie fights. Plural.
* Pirate radio changes (or has changed) the life of someone.
* At least one character is a human cannonball.
* Phlogiston. It’s real!
* An icebreaking ship is crucial to your story’s plot. May not be set aboard the ship.
You're getting lots of words. Make them count. I'm expecting interesting characters and an interesting plot. Good opening paragraphs will buy you goodwill.
Wordcount: 1200 words. There will be ways to earn more words during the week. Keep an eye out.
Sign-Up Deadline: 23:59:59 Friday Night, Pacific time (GMT-8)
Submission Deadline: 23:59:59 Sunday Night, Pacific time (GMT-8)
Judgment Roll Call: Erogenous Beef, Sebmojo, and a magical mystery judge
Nubile Hillock: Space Kitchen 2315(Assigned: Pie fights, plural & human cannonball.) No circuses or clowns.
God Over Djinn: Enemies (Big game hunting/chickens & icebreaker)
TheRamblingSoul: Baptism by Blood (sumptuous buffet/hideous delicacies & Big game hunting/chickens)
Jeza: Jaunty, disturbing ditty & pirate radio
docbeard: Phlogiston & ever-growing beard
Tyrannosaurus: Big game hunting/chickens & ever-growing beard.
McSlaughter: Chlorine trifluoride & pinfinger
Fraction: Big game hunting/chickens & sumptuous buffet/hideous delicacies.
ThirdEmperor: Big game hunting/chickens & ever-growing beard
Quidnose: Jaunty, disturbing ditty & human cannonball
Full Fathoms Five: Icebreaker & pinfinger
The Saddest Rhino: Sumptuous buffet/hideous delicacies & ever-growing beard
Kaishai: Sumptuous buffet/hideous delicacies & ever-growing beard
Fumblemouse: Phlogiston & jaunty, disturbing ditty
Bad Seafood: Jaunty, disturbing ditty & pirate radio
Docbeard: +150 words (1350 total)
Tyrannosaurus: +50 words (1250 total)
Fraction: +50 words (1250 total)
Kaishai: +50 words (1250 total)
Fumblemouse: +100 words (1300 total)
The Saddest Rhino: +50 words (1250 total)
Bad Seafood: +100 words (1300 total)
Lazy Beggar: Phlogiston & icebreaker
Sweet_Joke_Nectar: Jaunty, disturbing ditty & pirate radio. No feces.
My Secret Admirers:
Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at 11:09 on Nov 24, 2013
|# ? Nov 18, 2013 10:21|
I will judge. Prepare my judgethrone.
|# ? Nov 18, 2013 10:50|
Jaunty, disturbing ditty and Pirate Radio.
|# ? Nov 18, 2013 13:31|
drat, didn't expect to get such a beating. And Dishonorable Mention? Cliches? Stealing? Ouch, I know I can do better than that.
To redeem myself, In:
Prompt: A crime has taken place prior to the story's opening line.
Select two things from THE LIST and declare which two you are using in your signup post. They must be included in your story somehow. Very close substitions for setting/genre fit are allowed.
THE LIST, PICK TWO:
* A sumptuous buffet of hideous delicacies.
* Big game hunting. For chickens.
Wordcount: 1200 words.
Here's to at least Honorable Mention.
Teriyaki Koinku fucked around with this message at 13:57 on Nov 18, 2013
|# ? Nov 18, 2013 13:50|
I will probably regret this come Saturday, but I am in with the Curious Adventure Of The Realities Of Phlogiston and the Mysterious Ever-Growing Beard.
|# ? Nov 18, 2013 14:04|
Creepy ditty, pirate radio
First and foremost: STOP. WRITING. ABOUT. GODDAMNED. FECES.
|# ? Nov 18, 2013 14:11|
* Big game hunting. For chickens.
* A beard that does not stop growing. Ever.
|# ? Nov 18, 2013 14:15|
|# ? Dec 1, 2021 12:31|
Dear Mister Cerato Sirium:
Hi I dunno if you remember me, my name is Johnny Beemer! Thank you for comin to my birthday party. You were really AWESOME and COOL as an iron man! Daddy says no way a 1000-year-old rhino can be one but you sure proofed them incorect! I wished so wish you had put a horn up Bobby’s bottom but Momma saved him so he is a big Momma’s boy and I wont let him forget that for maybe 1000 years!
Anyway it was GREAT to see you in the zoo two day! You are so much better as a zoo keeper and not a tour guide under mrs Finch the Big Bee! Your xzibits were very AMAZE BALLS , Daddy said it was a front to the valoo of soul cities but Momma told him he needs to clam down sum times (I agree with Momma (because Momma is more clever than Daddy) (daddy stop reading behind me I am genie at work).
Momma says if I right you a report on the xzibithions you would be happy! So here I go!
Sitting Here - A Portrait of the Endless Scatalogical Cycle of Life and Death
This xzibhit is a boy in a wheel chair! He is older than me and I think he is angry. Very angry! He also has a brother who like Bobby is also a BIG JERK! He was a really BIG ONE when the wheel chair boy has a tent in his pants and Momma made me close my I’s. It felt like a joke that was an inside one which was actually quite confusing to the other two judges based on my conversation with them, and although the writing was sound and competent, the story itself suffered slightly due to its being written around the “Ock! Ock!” joke – though incredibly funny, just causes mistrust and fear among the others. So over the all even if it is a ginuwine horror story I liked it! Then Bobby said a bad word that Daddy says dis page rage gay people and we had to go.
Fraction – The Eye of the Tiger
After that we got to see this tiger! But the tiger is a doll and a girl is holding it and she made tiger sound and faces at me. Bobby says she is like Katy Perry in the Roar mtv where Katy shouted at a tiger and the tiger lie down! Her name is Lily. I hope I dun get cooties. I was quite taken by the whole story of Lily taking emotional refuge with a stuffed animal, and I thought the reactions of the parents to her acting like a tiger was very genuine like how young parents react to a confusing child. I had some issues, however, with the abruptness of the ending where she suddenly decided she doesn’t need Tia – the solution is sound, but I feel more description and inner thoughts could be dedicated to Lily’s transcending beyond Tia-dependency. Otherwise that tiger girl is pretty amazing although I am still scared of her cooties.
Lazy Beggar – Nim
Daddy tells me Nim is a monkey but nothing in the xzhibit told me it was one. Then the exzhibit jump around and hug things. Bobby says he is a tree hugger I dun get it. But seriously though I have not a single clue what is going on in this story and nobody I spoke to seem to understand what is going on beyond “Nim may be a monkey” and “the trees may actually be people”, and everyone is confused why Nim needed to be close to them to be less hollow. It is very unclear and Daddy then said who ever did this xzhibit is an orb tools idiot and Momma says honey please recall your angel management lesions.
Zack_Gochuck – Polar Bear
This is our first pooping animal! Animal poop is silly! Bobby says so too and we high 5s. Momma put her hand in her face. Then we saw this other daddy who also high 5 us but his kid is like, omg he is so depression. I immediately caught that the father was trying his hardest to be cheery and laugh at everything (the fries-eating was a good touch) to try to make his child happy, yet couldn’t because it was obvious he left his mom and this was a weekend visit or something similar. It was a bit clichéd, but I really liked that last bit where the father deletes the text message letter by letter. His son even got the polar doll that I wanted. What a mean jerk. MEAN JERK. I was mad so we went.
sicklysweet45 – Half the Battle
We saw these girls with long LONG LONG necks like girafffes! They were pretty but Daddy scream some thing like hooman ant slavemen and Momma had to clam him down. Again. Daddy should not ration his pills. I wasn’t completely enamoured with this story, mostly because I found the ending a little contrived – why would this girl (who is also THE WISEST LITTLE GIRL who to my surprise/slight annoyance even does that TURNS AROUND AT THE END TO LOOK WITH WISDOM IN HER EYES) be able to affect her so much that she is suddenly enlightened by the dreariness of her circumstances? It would be better if a mere doubt was planted in her, rather than a dramatic “MY LIFE IS ALL PAIN” which just feels a little comical. I hope their cooties are not long as their necks.
Sweet_Joke_Nectar – Farewell to Woodland Park
Momma made Daddy sit at a park bench so me and Bobby go buy ice creams. Then we watch an elephant poop and piss for ten minutes! It was fasinating. There were two adults who were totes depression ville looking at the elephants. Why do people come to the zoo to be sad? So I was actually quite happy your story this week was pretty solid, much unlike last week’s… effort. The dialogue feels real and the brothers act like real people who rarely talk about their FEELINGS. So please keep this up instead of the strange “lol nerds” thing last week. Then one of the adults put a smoking ziggurat in Bobby’s ice cream and he cried so we had to go again.
Nubile Hillock – A bird story
We saw a cowboy in the zoo. Cowboys are DUMB. Bobby said “Clint East wood is great” so I call his face dumb. Then he put ice cream (with the ziggurat) in my face and it was too cold and hot and then Daddy yelled a little. I can’t really grasp what your story is about, I want to think it’s a guy who turns into what he dislikes (a cowboy) (which incidentally is not very well portrayed, that hatred) after his girl leaves him, but the change seems superficial and the scene changes a little too abrupt. I can see this being all right illustrated but right now it’s just off key and although the dialogue is sound the pacing is off like a kid playing guitar hero on a real guitar. Daddy said keeping cowboys in zoos is cool tea. I don’t get Daddy sometimes.
crabrock – It’s All Happening
So this xzhibit is a family! Momma says it’s horrriffic that we put up for show disc funk channel families for the amoosement of gaping people and cried a little. Daddy laughed though, then he said I feel like a terrrible person and cried with Momma. Bobby and I are very confused. This was the broken family story I genuinely enjoyed because of how ridiculous everything is – you piled one insane thing (the Doobie’s Dog) on another (screaming child on leash), and then just refused to stop (the horrible exhibits) until the father tells him he’s having a divorce. The story became a little heartfelt and sad, and then you hit us with the mother’s line about birthdays and I couldn’t stop laughing. It’s twists upon twists and I really enjoyed it. It was super awkward for Bobby and me so Thank you for excorting us out then Mr Sirium!
Kaishai – The Worth of What We Love
WE SAW THIS PONY
IT WAS LIKE A TOY PONY
THIS GIRL KEPT HUGGING THE TOY PONY SHE IS GIVING THE PONY COOTIES
STOP THE GIRL
I really enjoyed this story, where a small action (the girl being with the pony the whole day) speaks a great message for the person affected by it the most (the protagonist who wonders about his relationship). I like the message and how you approached it, with the girl not minding her allergies, and I like the girl going “none of those are ponies” which is such a little girl thing to say. Your ending was a little too close to being too sweet but after a week of everyone being a depressed broken family member I can use a bucketload of that.
THE GIRL GOT COOTIES FROM THE TOY PONY
STAY AWAY FROM ME PONY
Erogenous Beef – Untamed
Momma said the lion xzibit was closed so we cant go. Bobby says may be we need some lion in this lion so we can lion the lion. I don’t get Bobby I think he needs your horn up his bottom. I enjoyed this a lot, despite the dreary subject of having to put down a lion. The dynamics between the two guy had a great character arc, and the wisdom displayed in how killing the lion, though wrong, is still the correct and best thing to do, is really refreshing. You were really close to being overwrought but just cut down enough, so well done and congrats on the win. Bobby says he is a lion I think he is a doodyhead who should be in a zoo.
Nikaer Drekin – Homo Delphinidae
Oh my! We got to the ocean park and it was great! I mean there were dolphin shows but I can’t remember! A big man jump into the pool and swam with the dolphins. I could see his wee wee! Then the smiling police men came and used tazers on him. And honestly, this fell into the “write story around a single joke” concept a little worse than Sitting Here, because the rest of the story doesn’t quite stand up to the whole “he wants to be naked with dolphins” bit and felt a bit like filler right until he stole himself away to the aquarium. Just requires some focus and this would be a better story, although it’s still about a guy with a dolphin fetish. Then a killer orka ate the naked man and there was lots of blood, Momma went to sleep on the floor and Daddy took us away. We fed Momma melted ice cream to wake her up.
TheRamblingSoul – The Tyger
Then we saw Katy Perry doing her mtv with a tiger but it had to stop because the tiger ate a boy. Momma went to sleep this time on a bench. Then the tiger turned into a lion for one minute ( “Hold on, dude. Just, let me get this lion to roar at us and we’ll leave, I promise we’ll go then. Hold on.”) and Daddy said we are actually seeing a history even re pits after 2007 when a tiger also ate a boy. He said California is a land futile with magic realism as history re pits itself and tigers become lions for one minutes. Also your story is not really a story, it’s mostly filler of two idiots being idiots against a tiger and then one of them gets eaten? I think if you have started your story with one of the kids being eaten, it would be much more dramatic and interesting, and it seems a misfire on your part to just retell the original Tatiana story. Then the tiger and the boy vanish becamse MAGIC and Momma wakes up and says she wants to see nothing.
Bad Seafood – Nests
So we saw nothing. There was a empty cage in the middle of the zoo. Daddy says it is a symbol of people being vests holding empty dreams that do not mount to any thing and we are all horror inside. Momma said Daddy is full of it and stop teaching me and Bobby exit ten cry sees. Unlike my esteemed colleagues I actually thought your story had the subtlety of a wrecking ball in telling us the kid was blind and deaf, especially when you told us he had “unseeing eyes”. However, you had the child “look up” to grandpa and it became very awkward and threw the reader off as to whether the child was really blind. It is very melancholy – and I know you do melancholy very well – and other than those few gaffes, I thought it was quite all right. We got bored looking at the nothing and left the people looking at the nothing.
Sebmojo – Outside the Walls
Momma cried again because it was another disk funk channel family xzhibit. Daddy told her quietly we will always be a family together because ohana means family. Everyone says I am looking too hard into things, but I thought your naming the mother and child “Louise” and “Eloise” was a clever subtle touch to show that the mother was a single parent (because surely Hard Luck Hank wouldn’t give the kid a name so close to mum’s). Your story suffered from being a part of the great Depressing Broken Family theme this week, but objectively speaking I wasn’t happy that the child got killed/hurt at the end as it felt a little contrived and cheap way to appeal to the reader’s emotion and end the story. It was really good right until after the argument though. Then Daddy and Momma kissed and ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Ewwwwwwww. Ohana.
Tyrannosaurus – Trying To Be A Father
One of the last xzibits was a Santa Claus with tattoos and a leather vest! He is like Grampa Jack except not old and super cool beans! However his story suffered from not really being a story other than “a large biker dad brings his child to the zoo, and shows that even a blue collar unconventional guy like him can be just as good (or better) than the normal suburbs mum with their little strollers and designer bags.” I felt the contrast/allegory you wanted to do with the orangutan could be a bit better, because it was just a bit too sparse and subtle and I in fact missed it in my first read. Daddy said this zoo is all about poverty tourist and Momma said stop looking at tumblers.
dmboogie – Lionheart
So our zoo visit ended! Thank you for your rhino-shaped balloons. They were SUPER AWESOME and I want a pet rhino everyday. But before we left the lion xzibit came! There was one in a truck coming to the zoo and it was what Bobby says a bad rear end sam ray of the savvy. It was so late but luckily we saw a lion! I didn’t really like your story mostly because of the pacing. Your point was Daniel being upset he lost a lifelong friend to some freak accident, and going to the zoo to look at lions (which are not tigers) is his way of mourning. Is it important, then, for us to read a blow-by-blow account of Michael’s story and then tell us he died? I feel that it should be a story of Daniel mourning and then remembering Michael, which would be a stronger piece and actually a bit more heartbreaking then “rock fall Mike die”.
SO THAT WAS OUR ZOO TRIP! Mommy and Daddy said the zoo visit was a test of their relation ships and they came out not wanting to di vorce was an ACHIEVEMENT UNLOCKED! Then they kiss eww eww eww ohana. I was happy you are happy at your job and you have rhino balloons!
I hope to see you sooon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 16:04 on Nov 18, 2013
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