Deaths Come In Threes, 840 words
"I tell you, we're next," Robert said, glancing meaningfully at the empty chair. "Death always comes in threes."
"That's an old wives' tale," Mark replied, ignoring the glance. "John smoked a pack a day since he was eighteen, and he got lung cancer. It doesn't mean anything. Besides, that's only famous people. Nobody gives a poo poo about three old vets."
"Says you. I'm not going to make it easy. Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
"Oh, cram it! No more of your bad lines. You don't even know the rest."
Robert wracked his brain while trying to keep a straight face. "Do not go quietly into the night."
"Goddamnit! See, you don't even know the actual words!"
"Whatever," Robert replied. He raised the shot glass into the air. "To John, and all his great adventures we can’t mention in polite company!"
"Cheers!" Mark replied, slamming back his own drink. "Finny! Three more!"
"How's Dad taking it?" Sarah asked her sister. "You know, the whole thing with Mark."
"Not good," Lindsey replied. "The funeral hit him hard. And…I think his age is catching up with him. He's started acting strange. Insisted on making the house death-proof, like he's going to be assassinated or something. I’m worried we might have to put him in a home soon."
Sarah just sighed, and watched her father out the window. The old man was still spry, and was chasing around her daughter with a rubber snake. The little girl knew the snake was a fake, and Robert knew she knew, but still they played. Two generations, so care free, while the middle one had to do all the worrying. She watched them for a while, than sighed again.
"Call up Ruth, see if she can get away from work. We'll discuss it then."
Robert paced the room, muttering to himself. The nursing home wasn't as secure, but it had medical staff on site. Maybe it would be the better location. It would put his daughters’ minds at ease, at least. Still, he paced, gently pulling at his ears. He wasn't sure how he knew, but it didn't matter. Things were coming to a head, and somehow he could feel it. His time was coming.
The door was barred, to prevent anybody from breaking in. The walls were reinforced, as was the ceiling, to prevent any chance of a collapse. He turned off the electricity every night, to reduce the risk of fires. The floor was absolutely bare - no carpets to snag his feet, and send him for a hip-breaking fall. He had made his surroundings as safe, secure, and harmless as possible. Still, somehow, he knew. His time was coming.
The room was pure darkness without the lights. He had told the handyman it was to help him sleep, when they covered up the windows. Now he regretted it. What time was it? It was going to be tonight, he decided. October 27th, almost Halloween. Something told him he would be fine if he could make it to November; buy himself another year, maybe more. It had to be almost midnight, but he couldn't be sure. He knew it deep in his bones. His time was coming.
He looked at his watch, and realized he couldn't read the numbers anyway. Still, the faint ticking was reassuring. Time kept moving forward, and so did he. If he could reach midnight, he would be safe. Was it after 11, at least? He wanted to light a match to see, but didn't dare. There could be a gas leak, maybe. It wasn't worth the risk. Instead, he listened to the faint ticking.
His legs were getting tired from all the pacing. In fact, his whole body suddenly felt exhausted, like a wave passing over him. Well, there wasn't much for it anyway. If he could sleep, he should. Pacing wouldn't make the faint ticking go any quicker. His eyes felt like they were made of lead. It had to be after eleven, at least. He'd wake up tomorrow, mostly safe from danger.
He lay down in the bed, and closed his eyes. The sound of his watch faded away.
"I found you," the melodic voice said. Bobby kept his eyes closed, but sneaked a peek with his third. She was standing above him, thin and pale and beautiful - Skuld.
"Come along, child," the Norn said quietly, gathering him up in her arms. "The time to play is over."
"Okay," Bobby said quietly, nestling up closer to her. "I tried to hide so well, but I fell asleep. I got so tired."
"I know," Skuld replied, "I know. I have a place for you to rest."
"I wanted to play some more. It was so much fun," Bobby said sleepily, his eyes almost completely closed. "I knew you were looking for me after you found Jack and Markey."
"I know," she replied. "They're sleeping now as well. But you will get a chance to play some more."
"Good," Bobby replied, already asleep.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 02:07|
|# ? Dec 5, 2021 13:45|
Flash rule was someone has to feel or know something they can't keep to themselves. A wedding makes a cameo, all my ideas featuring a wedding were terrible. (In one of them the president married a three-eyed alien)
Three shots in and Sam wants to hit up the next bar. He really wants to hit up the next bar, and is belligerent.
"This place is balls. This place is ballser than balls." This has been his refrain for the past five minutes. "Hey Everett, you already got my keys. The other place is just like over there. Just drive, it'll be fine." The staff is unsubtly clearing our table. I decide that staying is worse than going.
Which is how I end up driving Sam's lovely Toyota down the crowded city streets, him bitching in the passenger's seat.
It's 3 PM and the heat and the alcohol have turned my mind to drivel. The girls on the sidewalk in their pretty summer dresses are like a hedge of wildflowers on either side of the street. We roll to a stop at an intersection and a wedding party crosses in front of us, laughing as the groom staggers theatrically under the weight of the giggling bride. The bridesmaids are all tan and glistening with sweat, sauntering in their eveningwear.
One of them pauses before crossing and kneels to trade out painful-looking three-inch heels for flip-flops. She's got long red hair that catches in her lip gloss when she stands, and she gives a model-like toss of her head to get it free. And the heat, the heat and the booze have loosened up my inhibitions enough that I need to tell this girl, I need her to know that she's perfect.
"You're hot," is what I shout as she crosses in front of Sam's car. Nothing about it is right, not the words, not the way my voice sounds, sluggish and sloppy. Had I finished my last beer or not?
But she takes it good-naturedly, makes a demure oh, stop it gesture, and continues walking.
"Ask for her number," Sam hisses. I start to protest, but he leans over me and shouts at her anyway.
This time she just gives us an exaggerated eyeroll and finishes crossing the street, where the wedding party is now waiting for her, curious looks on their faces. One of the other bridesmaids looks our direction and asks the girl something; the redhead shakes her head in reply, then wraps her arms around herself like she's cold, even though it's disgustingly hot in the midday sun.
The light is still red. I want it to be green, so I can stop feeling embarrassed and Sam can't get up to anymore bullshit. But it stays red, and Sam is drunk, and the heat is making everything feel crushing and confusing.
"Hey show us your tits," Sam yells, and now he's leaning far enough over that I can smell the liquor and cigarettes. The whole bridal party is staring at us, and some of the groomsmen take couple steps in our direction.
"I'll make all y'all brides if you want. Hey redhead, show us your tits!" On and on, these terrible, stupid things are falling out of Sam's mouth, and I can feel myself smiling and laughing even though I really just want to get to the next goddamn bar, one with AC so I can get out of this loving heat.
And the redhead is stepping off the sidewalk, out onto the shoulder. One step. Two steps. She's at the line, and I can see her eyes clearly, the genuine anger there, some exposed nerve deep down inside of her. I can see Sam's stupid, drunken jeers stabbing at it, salt in a wound. In the time it takes her to take those two steps I see this, and I also know a hundred reasons why Sam is a dick.
I know his dad hit his mom, I know his older sister did drugs and abused him when she came home to babysit. I know he's poor and stupid and means well enough when he's not drunk, but all this girl knows is this moment, and the thousand why's woven into her own story.
Two steps. The other stoplight is yellow, just turning red. And I need to tell her, want to shout at her, don't take that third step. I want to shut Sam's stupid mouth with my fist, but the heat has turned my blood to sludge and my brain is running at half speed.
She's lifting her foot, swinging it out across the line, and I know that the oncoming station wagon can't see her because there's a van pulled too far forward out of a parking lot, trying to make a left.
I hear the flop as her sandal touches the ground, as she takes the third step, as the car behind me starts to honk because the light's green.
Then there is a much larger sound, a wrong sound. The words are still falling out of Sam's mouth when it happens. I still have that stupid, embarrassed grin on my face. She rolls up and over the station wagon, her red hair flashing like gold or fire in the sun. Breaks squeal. People scream.
There's a moment where everything within twenty feet of us is still. Even Sam has nothing to say. A block down the road, people are walking and talking and driving, beyond the effect of this terrible intersection of why's.
Then redhead screams. She's not dead, no. She's writhing around on her back, on the fresh black pavement that's been sitting in the hot sun all day. Traffic is stopped in all directions. The bridal party runs into the street and surrounds the redhead, then, and I can see her anymore.
"That's loving balls," Sam slurs after a long minute.
I take a deep breath, silently count to three, and then punch Sam hard in his mouth. He recoils against the passenger side door and clutches his face. His eyes are a little boy's eyes in that moment, defiant and scared and confused, and I realize that he doesn't and will never know why.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 02:07|
To Reach a Sun's Rays 946 Words.
Queen Ara, first wife of Den-Ser, son of Ra and first of his name, followed her husband and his three youngest wives across the desert sand and into the cool shadow of the pyramid. Sun-baked slaves scurried atop wooden-plank scaffolding, polishing the newly-applied layer of limestone until it reflected Ra’s light to the horizon. Den-Ser’s guards lit torches as they approached the western passageway and led the party into the dark shaft that snaked down to the pyramid’s main chamber.
The light from the entryway shrank as they descended. Sansep, the youngest of Den-Ser’s wives, asked Ara, “Your majesty’s eyes surely need more time than ours to adjust to the darkness, shall we slow down?”
Ara shoved in front of Sansep to walk beside Den-Ser. “I can see well enough. Let us move quickly to the Queen’s chamber. I wish to see where I shall rest.”
Ara turned a corner and saw a small flicker of light deep down the shaft. After several minutes they reached the light, which revealed a square chamber with three doors. Slaves, priests, and a handful of embalmers were already waiting in the chamber.
Den-Ser spoke, “This is the pharaoh's chamber, from which I will travel into the next life. Two of these doors lead into chambers at the pyramid’s northeast and southeast corners. The third leads to a chamber directly in the center of the pyramid’s western face. These three rooms anchor the transition into the next life.”
The guards escorted each of the young wives to one of the doors: Sansep was taken to the door on the western face, the other two wives to the eastern corners. The guards ignored Ara. Den-Ser shouted from the center of the space so that his voice and its echo filled the chamber, “After one year of marriage I have decided that all three of you have something unique to offer me in the next life.”
Den-Ser turned to Trephen’at, twenty years younger than Ara but still the oldest of his new wives. “Trephen’at, I treasure your wit and your passion, you will keep me in good humor and focused once we pass over.”
Den-Ser said to Dreipet, just one year younger than Trephen’at, “Dreipet, I need your conscience to help me rule with a just hand.”
Finally Den-Ser faced Sansep, barely more than a child, “You, Sansep, above all have made me realize the necessity of today’s actions. You are the greatest of many fine things I will take with me. If I do not do this, unlike the diamonds, jars of honey, and gold that will fill this chamber; you will soon lose that which makes you valuable.”
Den-Ser gestured to his guards, “I will see you three on the other side. Guards, take them down.”
The guards opened the doors and led the three out of the torchlight and down to their tombs.
With the women taken away and their doors sealed, Den-Ser and his guards moved to the exit.
Den-Ser reached the passageway, but Ara glared at him from the center of the chamber. Den-Ser spoke with his back to Ara, “They will drink hemlock and soon be embalmed. The lines of the pyramid represent the sun’s rays; with a pharaoh's wife in each anchoring chamber, young and bright like the sun, I will stand the best chance of entering the afterlife without any complications.”
Ara walked to the doorway and took a torch from the nearest guard. “Guards, seal the door and wait for us in the passageway.”
The stone door ground across the floor and rumbled shut, leaving Ara and Den-Ser alone in the pharaoh’s chamber. Ara held the torch between them. “And what of your faded and wilting queen? Will I hinder your entry into the heavens? Will I be too dull and decrepit to serve you in the afterlife?”
“I do not expect to be here much longer. You are many years younger than me and our last surviving son is not yet thirteen. I need you to stay here and rule until he comes of age.”
“And when I finally pass, I will be put in the queen’s chamber to accompany you?” asked Ara. She shifted the torch to her other hand and waited for Den-Ser to respond.
“There is no queen’s chamber. The pyramid will be sealed upon my death and the priests will send me on my way. Once sealed, the tomb may never again be opened.”
Ara sucked in a breath of stale air through her clenched teeth. She swung, raking her nails across Den-Ser's cheek. Blood caked underneath her fingernails and dripped onto the dank stone floor. Ara and the pharaoh stared at each other in the silence of the sealed chamber. They stared until the gash on Den-Ser’s face no longer bled. Ara finally said, “I will do as you wish.”
On her son’s thirteenth birthday, Ara watched her guards throw the bodies of Trephen’at, Dreipet, and Sansep onto the sun-scorched sand. While her guards sliced open the chest cavities and stuffed rotting meat inside, Ara scattered their carefully-preserved organs across the sand. “You have enough food and water for several days, do not leave your post until the stench is gone.”
Ara once again entered the pyramid. She placed Den-Ser’s organs in one corner tomb, his body in the other, and his heart in the tomb that faced Ra’s descent. She entered the pharaoh's chamber, drank the hemlock, and laid down in her sarcophagus. Ara knew Den-Ser was born of the gods, but as the poison collapsed her lungs, she questioned whether her husband’s heart was strong enough to take her through.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 02:37|
Birth, Curse, and Choice
Flash Rule: Fearsome creatures must find a kind of happiness in the story.
Word Count: 985
He knew sorrow. His grandfather tangled in barbed wire, the blood drained from his torn scales. He lapped up the blood with his father, trying to find nourishment in a senseless death.
He knew fear. Gun shots thundered through the darkness as he scrambled through the desert scrub, abandoning the goat carcass. His father never made it back to the burrow.
He knew hatred. A metal jaw with razor teeth, set for predators and trespassers, them, clamped on his mother’s leg. After she died he sucked the blood she had trailed through their tunnels, caked in the dirt.
The ranchers and villagers had never set traps or fired their guns so wildly in the dark. Everything had changed when the dangerous men came. They guarded strange crops. They patrolled trails that swelled with people and trucks hauling the crop, people, or bodies. The surrounding towns were now full of the dangerous men, men who killed other men, women, and children.
The men with guns did not drink the blood. They burned or buried the bodies. He came across men in a truck, bodies piled high in their payload. They hung them from a power line outside of a town. The blood dripped down and dried on the concrete. Such a waste.
He knew he would die soon. The ranchers had all fled, taking their livestock with them. Or they were killed by the dangerous men, their goats and cows and pigs butchered as well. He could not feed. He curled up in his burrow. He would die as he lived most of his life: alone in the dark.
A whistle. Six notes. Rising, then falling. Slow. Close. He picked himself up.
Delirious and feeble, he crawled from one of his tunnel entrances. Nothing but the hot night air greeted him. He heard the whistle call to him again. He plodded off in its direction.
When the whistling stopped, gunshots briefly replaced it. He followed the sound to a crumbling building. Two men lay on the ground, their stomachs torn open. Their guns rested harmlessly in limp hands.
A sack lay crumpled in the brush. It smelled of death. He tugged at it. Inside he found bones.
He turned back to the men. He had never drank human blood. He slurped it up, still fresh, oozing from their abdomens.
“Chupito,” something said with a voice of scraping gravel. “I thought you a myth.”
A pale man loomed over him. Not a man. He could catch no scent of blood. A walking corpse, with rotting grey skin. Bloody entrails dangled from its clenched fists. A black sombrero covered its face.
“Little one,” it said, “I am called El Silbon.”
He bared his fangs and growled.
“Such efficient tools,” El Silbon said. “You can put them to use tonight. There are wicked men in there.” The thing’s lip quivered. It looked hungry. “Men like my father who prey on women. Fiends like my grandfather who take pleasure in others’ suffering. Men I must collect. Nobody will miss them.” He extended his hands to the Chupacabra.
The Chupacabra did not understand El Silbon’s words, but he licked its hands clean. He wagged his tail.
El Silbon hefted the sack over its slumped shoulder and muttered to it, “Come, father.”
The Chupacrabra followed the shambling dead man.
The companions entered the hacienda. Raucous music reverberated from behind closed double doors.
El Silbon pursed its cracked lips and whistled. Six shorts notes. Rising then falling. He repeated it. And again.
A man poked his head out. He squinted at El Silbon in the dim light. “You a Sinola?”
El Silbon dropped his bag and shuffled forward.
“Zeta?” He raised his gun. “Michoacana?”
El Silbon grabbed the man’s head and twisted.
The man screamed and fired a shot before El Silbon silenced him.
The music stopped. Footsteps fell like a sudden rain shower.
El Silbon passed through the threshold. His body shook as bullets flew threw him. Small pieces of him fell to the floor, but he showed no pain. El Silbon looked back at the cowering Chupacabra.
The Chupacabra rushed forth. It had never attacked a human before. He panicked, unleashing all of his natural defenses. He released sulfurous smoke that choked the attackers. The men stumbled and lost all sense of balance and direction after looking into his glowing red eyes. He bit at ankles, calves, anything his three fangs could reach, as he scrambled around the room.
El Silbon advanced. As the men lurched and fired wildly, El Silbon snapped necks and dismembered those he passed.
When one man remained, cowering under a table, El Silbon surveyed the room. A pile of decomposing bodies lay in the corner. Children. Women. A bride. It grabbed the cowering man.
“Who were those people?”
He convulsed, too scared to speak.
El Silbon dug his jagged fingernails into the man’s arm.
“I don’t know! They were here!” He winced. “Please, don’t!”
“What were you doing here?”
“We were celebrating.” He closed his eyes. “The union of the Zeta and the Sinola cartels.”
“You slaughtered those people in their home. Then you mocked them.”
The man answered with screams as El Silbon tore his arm off. It stripped the flesh, and then put it in the sack.
“These groups,” El Silbon said to the Chupacabra, “they spread so much suffering.” It looked tired. “I am pulled in so many directions. They are everywhere.” It stroked a tuft of fur jutting from the chupacabra’s scaly head. “You are welcome to accompany me as long as you like.”
When El Silbon’s bag bulged with bones and the Chupacabra sated his thirst, they wandered back out into the night.
He knew joy, feeding on wicked men, feeling purpose for the first time.
He knew security, despite their dangerous quarry, traveling with El Silbon.
He knew love, helping his companion bear its curse.
Monsters hunting monsters.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 03:08|
Stockbrokers never threw themselves from windows during the Great Crash: that's a myth, like elves, pixies and stylish indoor headwear. Most of them just sat in dumb silence, coming to profound new realisations about the pattern of the carpet. Doesn't mean they're not a superstition lot. At 3pm on the third Friday of March, June, September and December, three things happen: index options, index futures and stock options all expire at the exact same time. Triple Witching Hour. Boom. Hold onto your hair boys, the floor is about to go mad. Hope you weren't planning on leaving early today.
Having survived one 3 O'Clock, Craig Daniels was now snagged on the second. 3:14am-ish precisely. He'd never had to the heart to switch to digital and now his red-and-yellow Micky Mouse wall clock had turned into a demon, his three arms snapping pieces off of the brute night. 3am: hour of the wolf. Hour of the dead. It's a metaphor, since most of the wolves are dead. Most of the witches and demons too, come to think of it. 3pm is when the world goes mad and 3am is when you do. When you can't sleep, so your mind starts twisting inwards: Escher's Rubix Cube and doorway to the One True Hell.
“Hey Craigy, remember that girl you wanted to gently caress but you didn't? She doesn't remember you.”
“Of course lots of people say you're handsome. Lots of people jump in front of trains, too. Lots of people kill for the voices in their head. Lots of people drive a Prius.”
“Psst. Psst. Craig. You had a fight with your mom and after that she went and died. Do you think you can hate a person to death? You should ask her too but- you know.”
The doctors said cancer but Craig Daniels knew the truth: he'd hated her a little more in the quiet hours of each night, letting the hate build up like a poison until it burst out of her and remade her with rough hands, shrinking and twisting her. By the time it was all done, she looked like a potato from a serial killer's garden. “She passed peacefully, in a state of grace,” the Minister had said. “We should be so lucky.”
If Maria Daniels ever found a state of grace, she probably spat it out and demanded a refund. When her husband died in a car accident, she told all her friends he'd 'gone off to buy cigarettes' and never come back. Poor twisted Craig had bravely chosen to reject her messages and become a Stock Broker- a paragon of integrity and good grace. A man of wealth and taste, even in this economy. That's why he had an apartment with a big clock in it and she had negative six feet of cold dirt. Ding dong, the Witch is dead. Not that it matters at 3am. The threefold hour is when the dead dance, cavort and dubstep. Maria Daniels came back to life every night at 3:14am-ish precisely, to leer and shriek at her failure of a son. Metaphorically, of course. The witches and wolves are all dead. We killed them.
Craig, being a sober, practical man, knew that you couldn't really hate somebody to death. He knew it very hard, until it turned back around on him and asked him why he was sweating on such a cold night. If you could hate someone to death, that would make him a murderer. Murderers are bad people. He, Craig Daniels, was a good person. Ipso Facto, you couldn't hate someone to death. Makes perfect sense, until you look at it sideways and catch it at the wrong angle. 3am is the hour of wrong angles, among other things. An angle is a metaphor for what happens when two things meet while going different directions, and their interactions at that point. It can be obtuse, reflex and occasionally even right.
"Why does it-" he said aloud. Why does it matter? She was dead and that meant three things:
1) she wasn't coming back
2) her opinions no longer matter
3) in the hour of the wolf, disregard the above
Simple and neat. Easy on the eyes. If only things were ever easy at 3am. The hour of wolves, of witches and of demons. Metaphors all, though no less real for it. The hour of the wolf is when metaphors and memories grow teeth. In and in and in. Escher's Rubix Cube and can-you-hate-a-woman-to-death. There's a Greek with a big rock somewhere, but he's a metaphor too. gently caress him. Sometimes, you just need to sleep.
The wolves will be gone by morning.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 03:31|
Anyone still writing had better hurry up: thirty minutes remain!
Your little sister is staring at you, terrified. You can't take chances with her safety. It's the hardest thing you've ever done, but you turn your back on Ms. Gannet and Grace and sprint as fast as you can up the mountain trail. You're screaming inside: it's all pointless anyway; there is no Shangri-La; if there were, you'd never, ever find it! Tears freeze solid on your face.
But soon they melt again, and you're sweating inside your anorak. You stop your shambling run, gasping, and register the fact that the air has gotten warm and smells both sweet and green. You follow the scents and the heat, unzipping your jacket with trembling fingers... and you reach the edge of a broad, sunlit valley.
Men spot you there and lead you through orchards as thick with musicians as with fruit, until you stand on the steps of an exquisite palace, and in front of you sits another man in a yellow robe. His beard is white, but his face is ageless. "Welcome to Shangri-La, my child," he says in the warmest voice you've ever heard. "We sensed your coming and prepared the way."
"Please, I need the Zopper Toothpaste treasure," you say. "My sister's life is at stake."
He tilts his head. "But there is no such treasure here."
"No! It has to be!" You spill out your story to him.
He is insistent, however: Mr. Zopper never found Shangri-La. The wealth of the place is its harmony, not gold. Nevertheless, the men and women of the valley assemble what material riches they have for you, and two of the tallest and strongest escort you to the place you left Grace.
Only tire tracks remain in the mountain snow. Without a car or any means of communication with the outside world, you never find out what happened to your sister or speak to your mother again. You live in eternal peace in Shangri-La, but your heart remains hollowed by loss, and nightmares haunt you for the rest of your very, very long life.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 03:20 on Jul 15, 2013
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 03:34|
Wadi Halifa 517
I had two days in Wadi Halifa until the next packet steamer.
The R.R Hotel, the Raffles of the sands,
had rooms and ghosts to spare. Many to be found
recounting past glories under the portrait of George V.
There we were lads, blackamoors to left of me,
hottentots to the right. MacDonald’s light regiment
was still a mile away. Well, we formed up the square
and (the door opens and a gust of sand blows in. Hands
go to cover drinks automatically, like they’re about to
tip them over and perform a magic trick). Varicose
necks chortle at the punch line. The stories all prattle
off the same chorus line of names - Wadi Halifa,
The Wells of Abu Klea, Atbara, Shendi, Omdurman,
Khartoum, Fashoda. Kitchener’s entire army camped
in one room. Everyone of them a Lancer in the 21st.
Everyone of them Churchill’s batman.
The air outside is just as hot, but dry. Drier than the
vermouth inside. One old soul blown in over the dunes
lies supine in a crack of shade. Staring back out from
where he came.
You may die from the sun, but only after the silence
drives you mad. That’s what I will always remember
from the desert. Jeddson couldn’t deal with it. Nor could
Burnaby. What could we three know, we were railway
surveyors from Cardiff. Drawing a straight line across
a land that was always moving, always changing. Pegs
you lay down the day before across sold rock now led
down to a bed of quicksand. Walking straight for a whole
day to come back across your footprints from the morning.
Silent voices on the wind. Mirages, visions. Day after
day, mile after mile. Three years we spent in that desert.
Burnaby went mad of course. Not all at once mind you.
But slowly, it crept into his eyes. I would catch him tearing
up my pegs. He wouldn’t even admit it was him who did it.
Jeddson went mad of course. All at once it was like some-
thing snapped inside. He jumped up from the camp one
night and ran straight off into the desert with no shoes or
water. Never saw him again. Never saw him again. I
tried to go back, but Burnaby had torn out the
pegs, destroyed the compass, torn out my eyes.
He left me out there, in the silence.
The stink of the bar. Bolshieness. Pure
Bolshieness. If the Sirdah had heard of it,
well... Did I tell you of the time I met His Lordship?
Kitchener I mean. It was back in ninety-eight
when I was still with the 96th light foot.
Aye, and no doubt the last time the words ‘light foot’
were ever used to describe you, Burnaby.
Ignore these drivellers dear boy. Pride of the corps
we were. Off to Omdurman to kill the Mahdi and
full of piss and vinegar. Revenge for Gordon and
all of that. Set out in the vangaurd with Jeddson
and Davids, the three of us into the desert like a
triumvirate of dervishes. Oh, the adventures we had.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 03:58|
“Fire the megalasers!” Captain Strongsley barked.
“But sir, those are unarmed civilians,” a gunsman spoke up.
The Captain slid his pistol from its holster and shot the man dead; another took his place. The fusion coils charged and the megalasers whined to life. With each quiet hiss an invisible beam mowed down another row of protestors. The smell of burning flesh soon filled the air, but the marines smelled nothing but synthpolymer gas mask filter.
Jason checked his watch. Quarter after. The protests never lasted more than fifteen minutes, but the cleanup took all night. It was the third shift in a row he’d got, even though they were only supposed to give you two. Someone got hurt, or killed, they’d told him. He wondered how, but not for very long. They weren’t supposed to watch the news or read the data feeds, so the thoughts were pointless.
The squad piled out of the transporter and waited for the cyber skidsteer to catch up and clear a path through the rubble. A few of the buildings had collapsed from miscalibrated laser barrages, but it was nothing out of the usual. Jason really craved a cigarette as the scent of death and burnt flesh started to claw its way through the microfilters.
A thing happened, a hero was introduced and poo poo exploded. A Gorilla banker was behind it all. Presumably happy endings were had. Also imagine a totes hot babe with a gun being all coy or something and important to the plot. But she’s got like a mysterious past and a soul that can’t be tamed or some poo poo. It’ll sell millions. I promise.
autism ZX spectrum fucked around with this message at 04:02 on Jul 1, 2013
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 04:00|
“I’m going up the mountain today,” I said to Lisa as we lay in a post-coital embrace. “Should be some good volcanics for the doco.”
“Love is a volcano,” she told me. Sex always made her wax eloquent. “All fire and eruption and uncontainable, until one day you look at yourself and see only a shadow on a wall, your identity consumed so fast you never even saw it go.”
“Nope,” I said, responding in kind. “it sits and waits until it’s just part of the scenery -- and then it blows its top, and you wonder how you could ever have neglected it.”
She moved beneath the sheets, her unfathomable warmth pressing hard against me. “No,” she whispered, “its molten currents are the blood of the earth, forming everything you see. You fool yourself it’s forever and then, in an instant, the world changes shape.”
“Okay, Miss Plath, you win, you win. I give up.” I got out of bed and shuffled into a pair of trousers. She curled beneath the duvet until only her eyes were peering out from underneath. I put on a shirt.
“Your penis is a volcano, sometimes,” she said, muffled.
“So’s everybody’s,” I replied.
We hosed against the aluminium wall of the station hut, the light metal bending and ringing as we did so. When we were done, we put on our fire retardant suits and made our way to the observation site. The lava flows were steady, but the heat they put out made it almost impossible to get close. I pulled my video camera from my belt and started it up, turning in a circle to get a panoramic shot. Shelley acted up, doing a kicking can-can against the backdrop of grey smoke and black and red molten rock, her body entirely hidden by her bulky suit and helmet.
When we’d finished for the day, we got into our separate vehicles and drove down the mountain, maintaining radio silence for no good reason.
I got a call from Tina on the way home. She sounded desperate, in her clinging yet sultry way.
“Can you come over?” she asked.
“I really don’t think I can. Lisa’s expecting me back for dinner.”
“But I miisssss you,” she whined.
I considered it for a moment. “Not tonight,” I said. “Tomorrow. You can come over. Lisa’s off at her conference and we’ll have the place to ourselves.”
“But I want you nowwwww!”
“You can’t always get what you want, babe.”
“Hmmph!” she said, “You always seem to. Perhaps I should tell Lisa about us - then you wouldn’t be able to use her as an excuse all the drat time. She’ll kick your cheating rear end to the kerb so fast you’ll have to catch a bus to catch up. What do you think of that, Lavaman?”
“Something tells me Shelley won’t mind a houseguest,” I said quietly, leaning over to change the tune on my MP3 player..
Silence, then ‘My loving SISTER? You oval office!”. I didn’t reply. The line went dead.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 04:04|
Submissions for Week XLVII: The Rule of Three are CLOSED!
As per usual, a bunch of you have brought shame on your families, nations of origin, and possibly all humanity. sebmojo,
Seventeen people managed to turn in something on time, and my co-judges and I will soon convene to discuss the merits of your work, such as they are.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 06:49 on Jul 1, 2013
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 04:20|
My lymph is weak and watery. In penance I will crit anyone who asks for it.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 04:25|
Noo! I'm almost done!! I can finish before 1 am EST!
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 04:35|
My lymph is weak and watery. In penance I will crit anyone who asks for it.
Crit me baby one more time
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 04:40|
Noo! I'm almost done!! I can finish before 1 am EST!
Hmm. All right. You and everyone else may have eighteen minutes more. If you submit past that time, no chance at a win for you, but I'll still crit anything entered within three hours of the original, midnight EST deadline.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 04:43|
Critiques are always welcome. I feel out of shape from not writing, so harsher is better.
My lymph is weak and watery. In penance I will crit anyone who asks for it.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 04:45|
Oh yeah and I will be crit buddies with another person who submitted if you wanna have some mutual consensual crit-on-crit action.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 04:49|
Mother of all fucks. My computer would crash as I'm about to transfer my story from my thumb drive.
I understand if I automatically lose, but I still want to submit my story
edit: To add insult to injury, the loving word processor won't even open the drat file.
Mercedes fucked around with this message at 05:07 on Jul 1, 2013
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 05:05|
You won't automatically lose, but you won't win. You can submit for critique, though, and I'll give you an idea of where you would have fallen in my voting.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 05:15|
The Iron King
Word Count: 765
Flash Rule: Write a character who technically fits a common stereotype (a drunk frat boy, an arrogant chef, a smarmy politician; the possibilities are endless), but who is still three-dimensional.
"King Iro! King Iro!"
You looked up from the maps you were studying with your council. Your frown lines were deep as you had an idea what the news might be. "Come in." You called out to the voice beyond the doors. As your haggard servant with a soldier in tow walked briskly across the room, your eyes returned to the maps.
"King Iro! I have news from the prison." The young soldier inclined his head as he addressed you. "The rebels somehow infiltrated the prison and massacred most of the guards. They spared no one. My brothers held the line long enough for only three of us to escape with the news. I am the only one left."
Your hands clenched, your fingernails dug painfully into your palms.
The soldier knelt, his eyes still towards the floor. "I will accept any punishment you deem necessary for escaping with my life while my brother's laid theirs down."
"Stand up soldier." You ordered and he complied. "These freedom fighters; did you catch a look at who their leader might have been?"
"I did your Majesty." The soldier kept his eyes averted from your gaze. He wore his shame plainly on his face. "It was Red the Runner. He wore the blood of the the prison warden when he cut his throat open."
"What is your name soldier?"
"Your humble servant's name is Avi."
"Avi, I want you to look at me when you answer this next question." As you gazed at him, you saw his body stiffen. "You've been around the people I rule. You've been to the prisons and around inmates. What do my people think of me? What do they call me? Be honest."
Avi hesitated. His skin flushed and beads of sweat appeared over his brow.
"Avi, fear no punishment for your truth. We need to know what we are dealing with."
He looked at your face, yet still avoided your eyes. "Y-yes my Lord. Ever since news that the chosen one - Red the Runner appeared, I've heard titles such as 'Iron Shackles', 'Iron Wheel' and 'Iro the Terrible'." Avi swallowed like he was dying of thirst. "The offenders were swiftly punished." He added.
The room hummed with fretful conversation.
"Be at ease Avi... I am none of these things." Your posture straightened as you walked around the table towards the soldier. "What of the rumor that Red can conjure portals at will?"
"The rumors are true your Excellency. His army was lying in wait, but he warped in with a few disguised rebels." Avi flinched as your hand rested on his shoulder.
"You've done well soldier." You removed your hand from his shoulder as you addressed your servant. "Please show Avi to one of our best guest rooms so that he may rest. Make sure that his every request is met with haste."
"As you wish." Your servant bowed and led Avi out of the room.
"How did it ever come to this?" You said as you rubbed the bridge of your nose.
"There has been peace for far too long King Iro. The people are becoming restless - they're making trouble where there wasn't before."
"If I push back and try to keep the peace, I'm just reaffirming the spreading belief that I am a tyrant." You jabbed your index finger against the table as a punctuation to your statement. "I love this country, councilor. I love my people. I would give anything to stop this needless bloodshed. Even my own life if it had to come to it."
One of the advisers on your right shot up from his chair. "King Iro! Please don't talk like that!"
"Easy Cal, I'm not ready to throw the towel in just yet." As you took your seat, shouts and sounds of battle erupted down the hall. "It seems the Gods have a sense of humor."
You walked to the door and paused behind each member of your council; your hand brushed against their backs. "It's been an honor ruling with you gentlemen. When I leave this room, you two," The two soldiers at the doors stood at attention as you pointed at them, "You bar this room and let no one enter under penalty of death, do you understand me?"
As you stepped out of the room, the smell of blood caused you to reel back. Red the Runner looked at you with hungry eyes. Your last thought as you hung on his sword was that you wish your people didn't have to suffer for their ignorance.
Mercedes fucked around with this message at 05:37 on Jul 1, 2013
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 05:21|
yeah i'm just gonna blame the concept of time zones
Marriage and a Consensual Affair
“Alligator facts. Now.”
“Their sex is determined by temperature when they’re eggs. Their lung system is similar to birds. They belong to the Alligatoridae ord-“
Clarice blew her whistle. “Alligatoridae is a class, not order. Your turn, Martie.”
Martha looked at her. “Fine. I don’t actually listen to you when you talk about alligators.”
“Big mistake. Martie minus two, Abbie minus one.”
“Minus one? I got two correct,” Abraham said, almost standing up from the floor. “I would be fine with zero points.”
“Why are you arguing that?” Martha asked. “Clarice, this is a ridiculous contest. Nobody cared about alligators as much as you do. I bet anything we say sounds ignorant to you.”
“Ignorant and beautiful, Martie. At least you stopped saying ‘crocodiles’ when you mean ‘alligators’,” Clarice said. She walked to the whiteboard glued to the wall, erased ‘round 1’ and wrote ‘round 2’, under ‘Who’s Gonna be the Legal Spouse? Clarice Stage 3’. “Alright, round 2!”
Abraham slapped his forehead. “Should’ve gone with weak mouth muscles!”
Clarice stared at Abraham and added ‘-1’ under ‘Abraham’s score’. “Only the muscles that open their mouth, Abbie. In round 2, you will have to properly write the correct scientific nomenclature of the American alligator.”
Abraham swore under his breath.
“That’s the one with the ‘penis’ in it, isn’t it?” Martha asked. “Miss-“
Clarice clapped. “You gonna have to write it down, Martie.”
Martha groaned and picked out a notepad from her pocket. She ripped one page and gave it to Abraham. She noticed that Abraham was biting his lower lip. “Do you really not remember? I thought you’ll ace this round.”
“I don’t remember names that well, Martha. Kind of not my thing.”
Clarice clapped again. “Stop discussing and start writing. Hand it to me when you’re finished.” As she let the two write their answer, she wrote ‘round 3’ on the whiteboard and began doodling. She was halfway through the body when Martha stood up and handed her answer. Minutes later, when she resorted to drawing crocodiles, Abraham did the same.
She read both pages and chuckled. “Seriously, Abbie? Mississippenis?”
“Just deduct the points and get on round 3,” Abraham said. “I’m not winning anyway.”
“Martie’s wrong, too!”
“Eh? Mississippiensis, right?” Martha said.
“You misspelled Mississippi,” Clarice said. Martha swore. “Nice to see you finally invested in this competition, Martie. Plus 1.”
“She got it wrong!” Abraham said.
“Bonus points for participation,” Clarice said.
“You really just want to marry Martha,” Abraham said. “And leave me to be the mistres-no, wrong, master? No, master sounds wrong in this context. What’s the word?”
“I don’t think there’s an actual male version of ‘mistress’ in that context. Closest I can think of is…oh god, I can’t even think of a male equivalent,” Martha said, scratching her head. She tapped on notepad with her pencil. “Come on, Martha Louise, think,” she said. She pinched few strands of her hair and put it between her lips.
“Focus, the two of you,” Clarice said. “Round 3 will be about-“
Martha raised her hand and mumbled.
“Hair still in your lips,” Abraham said.
Martha spat out the hair and said, “Give me a minute.”
“No,” Clarice said. “Round 3 will start no-“
“I can’t call myself a literate Englishwoman if I can’t answer that, Clarice. It’s a simple question, it’s a concept that’s not at all rare, but I can’t think of any word that fits!”
Abraham put his hands on Martha’s shoulders. “No, no, it’s okay, Martha, you don’t have to answer, I’ll go look it up later.”
“Wouldn’t ‘adulterer’ work?” Clarice asked.
“That’s gender-neutral,” Martha said. “Wait, no, was it? Was there an ‘adulteress’? Hang on, I’ll be back.” She stood up and tried to walk away, but Clarice stopped her, walking in front of her.
“We haven’t finished Round 3, Martie. I mean, come on! You’re winning and this is the last round! Just stay for five minutes so we can finally decide which marriage is formalized. Come on, it’ll be an easy round.”
“You really want to marry Martha, do you?” Abraham said. Martha went around Clarice.
“Gay marriage’s legal now, Abraham, I think we should appreciate it,” Clarice said. “Anyway, round 3 is not even about alligators.”
“Really?” Martha asked, turning around.
“Well, not real life alligators. LEGO alligators. It’s actually crocodiles, but then ‘Allego-ators’ won’t work as the round name,” Clarice said. “Also, round now have names. It’s a set of five trivia questions about the LEGO crocodile!”
“That sounds like the worst thing anyone could make,” Abraham said.
“Minus three.” Clarice said.
“I’ve already won, then,” Martha said. She went into her room.
“Pretty much,” Abraham said. “Alright, I’m going to put this data into the power rankings. Let’s see if once again I fell into third rank due to unfair rules.” He picked up the laptop on the carpet next to him, opened it and began typing down results.
“Come on, Martie, Abbie, I haven’t even asked a single question,” Clarice said. “I mean, I’ve got interesting trivia here! Like, ‘what colour was the crocodile unit after the four year hiatus from 2004?’ You can see from the wording that the colour changed, all you have to do is find out from green to what.”
“Yup, I’m in third rank,” Abraham said while rubbing his forehead. “I’ve got Martha’s visa scanned. I’m going to need your ID card, Clarice.”
“Abbie, can’t you even attempt to answer the question?”
Martha limped out of her room, an eBook reader in her left hand. “From Madame Bovary ‘mistress’ can be used.”
Clarice turned around, “Wait, really?”
“No, not really. Unless Abraham’s fine with ‘gigolo’.”
“I’ll be Clarice’s gigolo, yeah,” Abraham said. “And Clarice, no, I’m not even going to attempt. I’m three points behind and my answer’s very likely wrong. Let me sulk at my stats.”
Clarice tore her card of LEGO alligator trivia question in two. “You are the lousiest gigolo,” Clarice said.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 06:08|
All those research into adultery laws and lego sets for nothing. I'll try to comment on works, just to salvage whatever left of me.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 06:11|
You forgot to include my name in the list of failures.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 11:23|
You forgot to include my name in the list of failures.
I left off everyone who had already confessed their shame. You know what you did.
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 14:14|
Sorry, I'm nursing my best friend off of Oxy dependency. It's been a lot more fun than writing.
Wow sure got awful quiet in here yo.
magnificent7 fucked around with this message at 23:48 on Jul 1, 2013
|# ? Jul 1, 2013 15:42|
Seriously. Post your judgments so we don't have to examine our own personal addictions already. Three drinks a night isn't too much...
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 03:47|
Week XLVII Results: The Rule of Three
The Triumvirate has met and decided your fates. Gather 'round, ye worthy and unworthy, and hear your threefold doom:
THE WINNER: Sitting Here, take your place atop the judges' throne! Your quest to regain your mojo was successful, enough so that you're once again only one crown away from your not-so-secret nemesis. We found your story to be well-rounded, meaningful, and satisfying. It met the prompt and your given flash rule. Reign again with pride.
HONORABLE MENTION: Erogenous Beef, you wrote the most clever entry of the lot by leaps and bounds. As a puzzle, it had no equal! As a story, it just wasn't as strong as the victorious piece. Each judge deemed your work second to only one, and you, too, should hold your head high.
THE LOSER: Ceighk. Your formatting choices crippled the story you were trying to tell and were ungodly unpleasant to read to boot.
DISHONORABLE MENTION: Steriletom, you should do something nice for Ceighk if you get the chance. This was close. Your brevity may have saved you. Your story may not have been exciting, but it didn't bore us for long.
Crits are on the way; mine should be up within a couple of hours.
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 04:55|
Critiques for Week XLVII: Everybody ^ 3
This prompt was meant to offer a lot of freedom: I was curious about what Thunderdome competitors would do without much in the way of restraint. For half of you, the answer was 'Ask for more restrictions!' Huh. It worked out, since the roster of stories this week was strong enough that not one of the judges could settle on a top three; we each had multiple people in the third slot, with incomplete overlap.
Schneider Heim, "Three Useless Wishes"
This is a pleasingly creative interpretation of your flash rule. In a way, both of your characters are struggling for FREEDOM, with Harold bound by the laws of a genie and Hana bound by the limits she's placed on herself without realizing it. Harold doesn't fight his restrictions overtly, but he steps outside them a bit to counsel Hana and keep an eye on her. I say that counts. Nice job. Genies and wishes hit the prompt square, of course.
Your writing has some rough edges. You confused me mildly from the get-go with an unspecified 'she' in the first line. It was clear soon enough who 'she' was and that she wasn't, as I'd first thought, the main character, but it would be better to say 'the woman' there and avoid the issue altogether. The clause 'her hands shaking for something to defend herself' is awkward. I'd probably cut everything after 'shaking'; how could Harold know why they shook, anyway? The period after 'genie' in your second sentence should be a comma. You split Harold's dialogue across two paragraphs (the fifth and sixth) for no reason: merge those. When Hana says she worked 'until recently,' I thought that meant she'd been fired, so Harold's advice to quit later made me stop reading and backtrack. The traditional plural of 'genie' is 'genies.' Etc. Lots of little things, none awful by itself, but they do add up. This needs more editing and polish to shine.
Overall, this is a good starter for the week. Your story is a pleasant read, on par with your piece for crabrock's death prompt; I liked that one, and I like this too.
CantDecideOnAName, "Holy Fire"
Short and scorchingly sweet. It's a vignette, not a story, and that's its greatest weakness; odds are that something with a plot will come along and bump this out of contention, but I enjoyed it all the same. Your main character is committing his third act of arson, giving himself his third brand. He touches fire to his construction three times. The pattern is clear but unobtrusive. You turn a forest into a convincing church to Our Lord of Pyromania, and much of your description is elegant: the trees as stained glass is my favorite detail, but 'I smoke incense of my own to add to the air, a little white censor filled with potential' is probably the strongest descriptive line. The only place where you almost go too far is the point at which you detail the precise composition and arrangement of his campfire. I thought about this and decided the precision feeds into the feel of reverence and ritual, so even that works.
One small note that was off for me: 'One blob of gold is the same as silver is the same as aluminum.' Aluminum is common, but it's too useful to be dross. If you were going for a 'gold means no more than <something worthless>' sentiment, I'd prefer another material in aluminum's place, maybe copper or bronze despite neither of those being useless either; they're more commonly associated with gold and silver in terms of comparative value. This is probably a matter of personal preference, so take or leave it as you will.
Also, 'intertwine our lives to it' should be 'intertwine our lives with it.' That's the only grammatical error I noticed. Good show: I really enjoyed this.
Not terrible, but predictable: as soon as a gargle broke the husband's snoring I had a hunch where your plot was going, although Mary slipping off a brand-new wedding ring to admire her nails was the first clue that something was amiss. It's not that your foreshadowing is too heavy--I think you do a decent job with that, in fact, and the reason I twigged to the conclusion so early has more to do with this plot being rather familiar. It's a cliche. It doesn't help you that Mary is a stereotypical, heartless, vain Black Widow. Side note: My palm hit my forehead when you tied her attractiveness exclusively to her breasts in her perspective.
I don't buy her actions, either--her husband dies (poisoned, I presume) the very day of the wedding, the same hour she called in to ask about the insurance policies? That's sure to work out well for her! An experienced murderess should know better! I can't believe the insurance company wouldn't scrutinize everything about her case in an attempt to get out of paying it, and surely she'd expect that too. The phone call is a bit heavy on exposition, but passable.
The last line of your first paragraph is messy, tense-wise, and I suggest 'His family had boycotted the ceremony, and hers hadn't known her whereabouts for at least ten years.' 'Never-ending' needs a hyphen. You don't have many technical errors, on the whole. The three weddings in Mary's past meet the prompt.
It's good to have your arterial spray decorating the walls of the 'Dome again, but I still want to see you come up with stuff that's less overdone.
crabrock, "The Hunger"
If you had trouble with the flash rules, I couldn't tell. The ghostly element is present and accounted for, as are the real person and the third-world-country setting. Since I know little about Uganda I had to do a bit of research to be sure of the relevance of its culture/society to the piece, which is cool in a way because it means I learned things. It seems there was a recent case of a man cutting his wife's hand off for adultery, and until 2007, women and only women were punished by law for cheating. Elizabeth's task force fits right in with this. You get full points for the prompt (three wives, three files, three questions), full points for meeting your rules, and three bonus points for having the cojones to ask for them in the first place.
Now, the story itself: I dig it. It's weird, creative, unexpected, and not exactly fun, but there's macabre humor in Amin's solution for every marital problem. His fate is satisfying, and I only sort of wish he'd started to sizzle in there like a burger on a grill since I'm picturing the red light as a heat lamp anyway. The string of questions in the middle is a bit flat. I don't care much about your characters, especially John. I wonder whether you couldn't get rid of him and have the interview be entirely between Elizabeth and Amin? Her past gives her some built-in sympathy and interest that John doesn't have.
The piece does call on a reader to either know or look up Idi Amin to make full sense of it, but I didn't have to go much further than Wikipedia. That's not much to ask. You know what else isn't much to ask? That you close your quotation marks in dialog, dammit. You missed a comma after 'Hell Jar,' too. And either 'steaks' shouldn't be capitalized or the comma after 'Elizabeth said' should be a period. Ugh. You'd probably have caught this stuff with another proofing round.
Minor and completely avoidable errors aside, this is an impressive piece of work.
Erogenous Beef, "Find Them And You Can Resist"
This, by contrast, asks a reader to know or find a lot of information to unpack it all. When I looked at it with only my own knowledge for reference (plus one quick check of Wiki to confirm what happened on April 30, 1945), I saw a story of Adolph Hitler being controlled by an undefined conspiracy of men or by divine powers--the latter was actually my first guess, but I think it's wrong now. Is your shadow group the Illuminati? It may be, or maybe you've created an entirely new secret society obsessed with factors of three. The piece ends up being about how much of history could be shaped by outside control rather than the free will of individuals, and it's sound, but--it's not satisfying on its own. After my first read I had a strong hunch that the references to dates, places, and people would be Meaningful if I recognized them. You gave us something that's as much a puzzle as a story. You made it interesting enough, curious enough that I wanted to solve it: that's good. But before I'd done so (more or less), I felt like I was missing a significant part: that's not so good.
I have to admire your clever, clever boots, though. I mean, look at this:
Orson Welles on the Riesenrad -- This scene happens during a play called The Third Man. The lines Welles speaks as he rides the giant Ferris wheel are potentially relevant to Hitler's Germany: "Don't be so gloomy. In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed but they produced Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had five hundred years of peace, democracy and brotherly love - and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock!" I can't help but notice several sets of three in that there speech.
Herr Dreizig -- Mr. Thirty, I presume?
September 27 -- The Tripartite Pact! Oh, that's clever. I should have known about this, too. I'm not going to blame you for the more ridiculous gaps in my history education. A treaty signed on 9/27, between three countries, with six provisions. Your shadows behind the thrones are very into factors of three, aren't they?
Twenty-seven years prior -- See above. For that matter, 'in nine hours I would forge its strongest alliance' takes on new significance once you start noticing the numbers.
A Viennese cafe in Landstrasse near Richard Lionheart's folly -- Apparently Landstrasse is the third district of Vienna, and Richard the Lionheart was captured in a neighborhood there after the unsuccessful Third Crusade.
My pistol is a six-chambered revolver -- More sixes. This line gets the credit for letting me catch on to the pattern in the numbers, finally.
Do I have to say you hit the prompt? I clapped like a delighted child as I uncovered all those threes. One formatting note, rather minor: I would have liked some sort of separator between the letter and the body of the story. I'm okay with an extra blank line as your separator elsewhere, because it does the job, but it feels like the letter ought to stand more apart and be emphasized. (Later note: Scrap that, I'm dense. The letter is the body of the piece. In that case, I'd like a blank line between 'A bloodied letter' and what follows, so that those words would look more like a header for the entire document.)
You're probably going to get top marks for cleverness. Whether that leads to a win or not, imagine me applauding slowly like the man in the movie theater .gif. Bravo, E. Beef, you magnificent bastard.
Auraboks, "One end"
I love me some dragons. You have given me an apocalyptic dragonbro, along with a vulturebro and a worldbro. If you strip away the epic language, what's left is a tad light: three ridiculously powerful bros get together for some reason and end the world just because, but the absurd meaninglessness of this Armageddon is what makes it funny, so the lack of substance is okay by me. The combination of casual cluelessness from Bir & Co. and lines like '[...] and the ground trembled as he spoke, and Man in his caves knew his ordeals were not over' creates the magic--the contrast in tone is great, but the contrast in thought and action is better yet.
I want some reason for Bir, Iki, and Ukr to decide to meet, however. It can't happen all that often, or Ukr would have split himself off from the World before. But they talk to each other like they know each other and as if they hang out every day. Is a billion years like a day for them? I suspect that's it. I wouldn't have minded whatever reason being explicit in the story.
'"Man, look at this mess!",' is worse than any of Bir or Iki's fish-poisoning, Man-shattering sentiments. Exclamation point, quotation mark, comma. I think I'm going to cry. You made me laugh too, though, so I won't hold it against you. Much.
Ceighk, "Black Lyne"
Goodness gracious. You've formatted your story like a multi-tier outline and broken it into lettered and numbered sections. Why? A gimmick needs to have a reason to exist, and I don't see how this format adds anything to the work. Instead it takes away a good deal, since I'm so distracted by hating it that I can barely follow the storyline. I get that 3a, 3b, and 3c are all set at the funeral of a man named Jack; ∞. x. (for God's sake) explains his death; 1b, 1c, and 1a are set during the nameless main character's childhood and are out of chronological order for heaven knows what reason. I want to scream every time I look at 2. The lack of line breaks there accomplishes nothing for you. That section takes place between the suicide and the funeral, I guess. So I gather this is the story of Jack's drug overdose and his brother's reaction to it, which should be poignant, but it isn't.
Section 2 is the worst thing. It's massively unpleasant to read as a never-ending block paragraph. The dialog and action are both difficult to follow without any goddamn breaks. The language reads like you're trying way, way too hard to make these men sound hardcore, what with 50% of the paragraph being variations on 'gently caress' and a kick to the balls for bonus funsies.
That ranted, your base idea has potential. You could take this piece and pull out all the gimmickry so that you'd have a multi-scene story opening at Jack's funeral, then flashing back to scenes from the childhood Jack and his brother (who needs a name) shared with Toby. You might want to tinker with 1b; I see its purpose, to underline the brother's protectiveness and feeling of failure after Jack's death, but its all-dialogue composition makes it a poor fit with the other two. Section 2 could be much shorter, should be formatted in a manner that doesn't make one wish to vomit, and should lose some of its irrelevant details, like Toby's sexuality. The gay slurs are another 'look how GRITTY and HARDCORE this is!' element that doesn't work. Then, if I were you, I would flash forward to the funeral again--perhaps have the brother walk away from Toby in the present, for the last time.
I do like the way the flashback scene with the roundabout echoes/presages how the three boys' relationships will eventually end. That's neat. Keep that scene in any new version if you can.
Such a restructuring might give Jack's brother's emotions their rightful power and make it easier for the reader to feel for him. Whatever else you do, ditch the inconsistent styles and the outline format. They're each a thorough bust as experiments go.
Voliun, "A Gate's Graceful Descendent"
This week on Kaishai Attempts to Translate the Voliunovich Manuscript, we're looking at a story in which a piece of jewelry plays a critical role, so the flash rule is met--a promising start! I'm not as confident about the prompt since while there are at least three sets of three and one sum of three trillion, none of them are truly crucial. You're squeaking by in that regard. Now, let's make a study of the plot.
As I see it: A young queen named Adularia lives in a tower as a figure of power whose hand is widely sought by suitors. She doesn't wish to marry, but a council of some kind that oversees her is bound to pressure her to give them a king. Her handmaid, Olga, opens communications between Adularia and a mysterious man. He too wishes her hand and refuses every bribe she offers to seek another. She has met this man before. On that occasion, presumably, she gave him a ring, believing it to be a trinket of no importance--but in fact it was a wedding band according to the laws of her culture, and the man is already king. Adularia is Most Displeased, but her unwanted husband may become an excellent co-ruler for her land.
That makes sense, Voliun.
Can it be true? Can it? Yes! Long have I dreamed this day would come!
Well, but let's not get too excited. You've gone back to barely having an ending; the story doesn't just stop, but it's not obvious to me why the king being a Cohen is significant or what role engineers play in Adularia's society, so the final beat is empty. There are errors--oh, there are errors--and plenty still that I don't understand. Why does Adularia have to bribe a suitor to seek another wife instead of just refusing him? How does she not know anything about the secret king, when she must have met him to give him her ring? What's the significance of the tower? I assume it fulfills some sort of cultural, religious, or military purpose, but I'd like to know more: the lines in which Adularia offers to give the king the tower and he says he'll allow the motherland to take it(?) back don't work very well without a greater understanding.
In all the places you write 'my grace,' you want (I believe) 'your grace,' as that would be the traditional manner of addressing nobility. Think of Queen Elizabeth II: she's 'Your Majesty.' Your grammar has improved, but you still do things like this: '"You'd gave away my gift?" she whispered, "When did you give this?"' 'You'd' should be 'You,' and the comma after 'whispered' should be a period. 'Silence immaculate the room.' What? 'Silence filled the room' would be logical there. Several of your phrases are awkward or off. Such as here: '"Not to offend you my grace, but your kin had centuries worth of that power you speak of and did nothing with it as they look down upon it with indifference."' I suggest '"Not to offend your grace, but your kin had that power you speak of for centuries and did nothing with it, as they viewed it with indifference."' 'Great-great-grandmother' needs hyphens. You say 'akin to' where you probably mean 'kin to': if X is kin to Y, they're family, but if X is akin to Y, they're alike. Lots of errors. But the story hangs together, mostly.
You've still got a long, long way to go before you contend for a win, but this time I'm sure the improvement I see isn't just in my head. You won't have my vote for the loss.
Bachelard rear end, "Full Count"
You know, I should have expected someone would write a story about a guy with three balls. Now that it's here, I can see it was always inevitable. I laughed. Steven and Jenny have such good chemistry that it's a damned shame she can't accept the impracticality of hand-me-down testes. For having written a tale that ends with three-ply Kleenex, you've done well.
'Alright' aside, of course. Not counting that travesty, your grammar and writing are pretty solid; I did think on my first read that Steven had three dicks instead, but I'm not sure that's a problem you need to fix as opposed to me being a lazy reader since he mentions his dick, singular, shortly after Jenny asks.
I don't have much else to say. Something so lightweight isn't likely to be in the running this round, but it's fun and a good turnaround from last week's loss.
Jonked, "Death Comes In Threes"
Up until the end, you have a solid if somewhat predictable piece with a good protagonist in Robert, whose personality is just developed enough that I care about him; details like his trying to keep a straight face as he misquotes Dylan and his play with his granddaughter make him a real character. Your first two sections give exposition through dialogue, and the second section does it successfully. The line 'John smoked a pack a day since he was eighteen, and he got lung cancer' clunks a tad for me in the first--I think it's the 'since he was eighteen' that feels out of place, like it's not something old friends would be pointing out about each other if it weren't for your desire to inform the reader. Your third section builds the mild suspense about how Robert will die, if not whether. I'd ditch 'He wasn't sure how he knew, but it didn't matter. Things were coming to a head, and somehow he could feel it. His time was coming' from the first paragraph there. You repeat the idea in the next paragraph, almost word-for-word.
On my first read, the fourth section hit me like a fish across the face. Suddenly Norse mythology was involved and I had no idea why. Robert regressing to childhood was odd too, and I'm still not sure of the reasoning behind that choice. Given Skuld's role, I'd prefer if he regressed to a young soldier, because now I believe I see where you were going with her: she's a valkyrie, and the three friends were all veterans. Perhaps once upon a time Skuld spared them, but now she's gathering them at last. Skuld being one of the three Norns as well is a nice touch. You have several touches like it: three sisters, three generations, three friends, and three deaths, with the last one being the critical triad that fulfills the prompt.
The ending would have been more effective with some hint of Norse mythology before the fourth section. If there is one now, I can't see it. Maybe you should make Robert's family of Scandinavian descent, or perhaps he could ask Mark whether he ever imagined a beautiful woman riding past him on the battlefield? Something to keep Skuld from coming out of nowhere.
I'm more fond of this story now that the ending has clicked for me. Straighten out the kinks there and you'll have something to keep.
Sitting Here, "Because"
Do you know what part of this story sticks with me above all? 'On and on, these terrible, stupid things are falling out of Sam's mouth, and I can feel myself smiling and laughing even though I really just want to get to the next goddamn bar, one with AC so I can get out of this loving heat.' This is the most interesting application of your flash rule. Sam is a drunken idiot, and whatever his whys, I can't sympathize with him from outside of his head. Everett is a drunken idiot too, and the booze is smiling and laughing for him. He can't hold it back. With him I do sympathize, because his perspective tells me he knows that none of it is funny. The redhead will never realize that about him. The bridal party won't. No one will. It's a more emotionally effective moment than anything else I've read so far this week. You cover the prompt with the redhead's three steps toward the car, the third being disastrous.
Another thing I admire is the running thread of why. Those form a triad too: Sam's whys, the redhead's whys, and Everett's why for hitting Sam (another emotion he can't hold back). The last line is a perfect closer. Apart from these standout points, the story is competent, vivid, and well written, populated by energetic personalities. It's not as clever as Erogenous Beef's piece and doesn't deliver the same intellectual delights, but it's a more well-rounded package. That's why it received my vote to win.
systran, "To Reach a Sun's Rays"
Your setting, premise, and application of the prompt are all sound: three younger wives, three chambers, three portions of the pharaoh divided among them. You deliver a lot of exposition through dialog, but that only rankles when Den-Ser is explaining the layout of the pyramid. It actually makes sense for him to explain this to his wives, but he sounds like a businessman explaining synergy at a meeting. In fact, I couldn't stop picturing him as a stodgy executive in King Tut's headdress. It was weird. Ara has enough life in her to make up for him, somewhat; that scene where she claws him sums up how their characters came across to me. She has the passion to draw blood, but Den-Ser stands and does nothing.
Actually, 'our last surviving son is not yet thirteen' is awkward too. 'Our son is not yet thirteen' would be just enough, IMO, to get the facts across. You'd lose the implication that these two had other sons who died, but is that relevant?
I'm not sure what I make of your ending. Ara has the spirit to throw out her rivals and cut up her husband if that's what it takes to get to her equivalent of Heaven. That's good stuff. But how did she get away with it? I assume Den-Ser was already dead, so she was the regent for her son, but would she have had the power to desecrate a pharaoh or unseal his tomb? Den-Ser certainly didn't anticipate that. Was her son on her side in this? I want more information, mostly, I think, because of the contradiction between Den-Ser stating his tomb would never be unsealed and Ara quite casually cracking it open.
Minor (very minor) points: you don't capitalize 'queen's chamber' consistently. One exception to the rules governing compound modifiers is that if the first word is an adverb ending in -ly, you don't need a hyphen, so 'newly applied' shouldn't have one.
I would have liked more color in Den-Ser along with further embroidering on your finale, but this story is either in my top three or near it nonetheless.
Jagermonster, "Birth, Curse, and Choice"
In terms of your flash rule, I like this a lot. It introduced me to a piece of mythology I didn't know: El Silbon. The teaming up of these two creatures makes perfect sense, and since they're hunting terrible people, there's something satisfying about it. The Chupacabra in particular is a sympathetic character and a man-devouring nightmare--he never gives up one role for the other.
The prompt is... present, sort of. There are three gangs. The Chupacabra feels three emotions before meeting El Silbon, three different emotions after. You refer to a triad with your title. It's more of a stretch than most, but the mirrored sets of emotions tip you into the safe zone.
Your prose is generally competent. Two things stood out to me, the first being that you switch between 'it' and 'him' for both El Silbon and the Chupacabra, although the latter is usually 'him' and the former 'it.' I advise picking a pronoun in each case and sticking to it. Personally I'd prefer they both be 'him,' and I don't think this would be difficult since you already refer to both characters by name often enough for a reader to keep them straight. 'It' would work, though, as long as you were consistent about it. The second thing is that your earliest paragraphs are murky for me. I wonder whether you need to keep the nature of the Chupacabra a secret for so long. I couldn't picture the creature until after it met El Silbon.
'He knew sorrow. His grandfather tangled in barbed wire, the blood drained from his torn scales' tripped me up on my first pass, as I wasn't sure whose scales were torn. In the sentence 'His body shook as bullets flew threw him,' you want 'through.'
Final verdict: While there's some room for improvement, this is a very nice use of your flash rule and South/Central/North American myths.
SurreptitiousMuffin, "3 O'Clock"
A vignette, lacking in plot or character arcs, and not as sleek and polished as I've come to expect from you. I am shocked and appalled by your errors in verb tense, sir! The first paragraph has little to do with the rest of the piece. I like all those stock-market triads, but they set expectations on which the story doesn't follow through. Different focus, different tone. If I were you I'd see about cutting the paragraph--or possibly cutting just the first three lines; those are the ones that really don't fit.
Apart from that, you've still produced a small jewel. Call it a flawed moonstone this time. The wolf hour is powerful. Craig didn't kill his mother. Would I, in his bones, at 3am, believe that he did? Probably. Your use of metaphor, your ever-elegant sentences catch at the feeling of being awake and alone against your will when the world is dark. Lines I particularly liked: 'Metaphorically, of course. The witches and wolves are all dead. We killed them.' 'He knew it very hard, until it turned back around on him and asked him why he was sweating on such a cold night.' 'There's a Greek with a big rock somewhere, but he's a metaphor too. gently caress him. Sometimes, you just need to sleep.' I enjoyed the reference to "Sympathy for the Devil."
You mix past and present tense a good deal; usually it looks like artistic choice, but not always. 'If Maria Daniels ever found a state of grace, she probably spat it out and demanded a refund' needed to be past perfect, full stop--the same goes for other sentences about his mother, so keep an eye on that if/when you proof again. On the other hand, the shifting tense in 'If you could hate someone to death, that would make him a murderer. Murderers are bad people. He, Craig Daniels, was a good person' is probably intentional, but I'm not sure I like it. The present tense works when it seems to be coming from the narrator and/or the voice of Craig's fears, but 'Murderers are bad people' is a thing Craig himself is thinking, and I want it in the past tense, personally. Small details: it's Mickey Mouse and Rubik's Cube.
I don't mind your brief diversion into list format the way I minded Ceighk's outlining, because it is brief, it has a purpose--you explicitly contrast the simplicity of the list with the maze of Craig's 3am thoughts--and those lines work better within the structure of a list than they otherwise would. The format works and enhances your telling, so it's okay.
Other contenders had more complete stories, but your interpretation of the prompt is one of my favorites.
V for Vegas, "Wadi Halifa"
Write a prose story involving the tripartite integer.
There is some hardship found in judging those
Who when presented with a plain request
For stories written in straightforward prose
Submit a poem. Was this meant as jest?
But it is nearly prose, and lovely fare,
And to the main thrust of the prompt adheres:
Three men, each gone insane in desert air
Across the span of three deserted years.
You've stirred my curiosity, and I
Have looked for facts about that long-past war,
And when my time of critting has gone by,
I will read further, and perhaps learn more.
I can't give you the win, you know; and yet
Your verses, Vegas, I cannot regret.
Nubile Hillock, "Fuk U"
There once was a biking Canuck
Who ran out of time, but not luck:
There were worse fish to fry,
So he skated right by
Despite his misspelling of 'gently caress.'
Three! Three vignettes! Ah-ah-ah! Yours is the most lightweight. CantDecideOnAName's story had something to say about faith; Muffin took us into the dark night of the soul; you've got a photographer/volcanologist with three girlfriends. He doesn't do that much in the story beyond have three girlfriends and screw one of them. It's sort of disappointing, as your first section has ideas about love and suggests some depth in the protagonist. The second section ends with a strong line. The third has no point, as far as I can tell, beyond to toss the third girlfriend on the pile, and the conclusion is as hollow as it is grammatically flawed. I suspect you were rushed. You're too good a writer to submit 'Silence, then ‘My loving SISTER? You oval office!”.' for public viewing otherwise.
(Incorrect capitalization, CAPSLOCK OF RAGE, and a period after a goddamned quotation mark all in one line. It has to be the worst sentence of the week, and I haven't forgotten 'Silence immaculate the room.')
So I'm not that impressed overall. Glints of promise exist, but your finale let you down with a graceless squawk. You hit the prompt and the flash rule, however, and your well-written first section kept you out of contention for my losing vote.
Mercedes, "The Iron King"
Definitely better than your Wilde-week story. You went with a second-person perspective again, but you were consistent about it and about your tenses. (Mostly; 'you wish your people didn't have to suffer' should have been in past tense.) For this piece, I'm not convinced past tense was the best choice--when and where am I-as-Iro being told this story? In Heaven after I'm dead? That's a plausible answer, but present tense might still have worked better given the lethal ending. Your grammar has some issues yet. Take this sentence: '"Come in." You called out to the voice beyond the doors.' The period after 'in' should be a comma, and 'you' shouldn't be capitalized. I saw that error a few times, so watch out for it. You pluralize brother as 'brother's' at one point--eeesh, no, never never never no never eek bad!
I don't see the prompt in here at all, which could have caused you trouble if you were eligible to lose. Your approach to the flash rule is kind of wibbly. I believe I see what you were going for: King Iro is viewed as a tyrant king; he's actually a caring monarch maligned by restless people who have nothing better to do in peacetime than cause trouble for themselves. I like that idea, but I don't get to see much of Iro being a caring monarch. His nature is only evident toward the end, when he says he loves his country. His attributes--good and bad--are more informed than shown or developed. So I'm not sure you hit three dimensions. He's still interesting, and I'm sorry he's dead, which is a big step up.
You would have been in my lower tier and possibly bottom three, mostly because of the missed-the-prompt thing. If it weren't for that, you'd have been in the middle. Either way you wouldn't have gotten my vote to lose.
toanoradian, "Marriage and a Consensual Affair"
If Fumblemouse had the worst line of the week, you might have the best with 'Clarice tore her card of LEGO alligator trivia question in two. “You are the lousiest gigolo,” Clarice said.' Maybe that's my love of LEGO talking. Maybe it's that I now want to accuse people of being lousy gigolos given the slightest opportunity.
It's utter fluff, this piece, all character study of three quirky children, and it's awfully enjoyable despite absolutely nothing of significance happening in it. Plot, pshh. Who needs that when you can find an excuse to put Mississippenis in a story? And like some of my favorites this week, you taught me stuff. The infodumps and random facts are worked in quite plausibly. You could use a proofreader, but the errors I spotted are small. Except 'alright.' 'Alright' is never a small problem.
One thing: what's Abraham doing with Clarice's ID and Martha's visa to determine his ranking in an alligator quiz? Is it part of the game or is all of this set in the future? What a strange future that would be.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 08:40 on Jul 10, 2013
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 05:51|
Thanks for the critique. My aim was for the final section to really come out of left field, both in content and theme. The idea was to build up Death as this cosmic horror like Final Destination, and then yank it back at the last second to reveal it as something natural and humane - something we should perhaps look forward to, when the time comes. That said, my test reader had a pretty similar reaction to yours, so either I need to foreshadow the reveal, or provide some sort of context surrounding the ending to make it more manageable. I'm leaning towards the second option, if I could pull it off - complete surprises seem to be a rare thing these days.
And I agree the third section probably needs a complete rewrite. I was trying to capture this sense of obsession and anxiety where the same things keep running through your mind, not really going anywhere... but I guess it just comes off as repetitive.
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 06:53|
You're too good a writer to submit 'Silence, then ‘My loving SISTER? You oval office!”.' for public viewing otherwise.
I had been working eleven days straight during crunch-time and wrote the bits you liked at 2:30am Monday morning after mild drinking. Then, post-daylight, after accidentally deleting an entire government website on the first day of its legally mandated existence, I wrote the last couple of paragraphs. In retrospect, I have done wiser things in my life than click Submit Reply that day but dammit, if you say you're gonna fight then you stand and you fight and you take the loving beating. Or, despite it all, you win and you're a legend, but mostly you take the beating.
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 07:12|
See, if I can read clocks and I've gone with my original idea, there would be a story about LEGO brick composition posted on time and I would've stolen your tiny vestigial heart with it! Curses.
Abraham needs Martha's visa and Clarice's ID so they could start registering for a marriage license in Delaware. Upon further research, turns out they need to apply in person, so that part's wrong but well, I can't just have him playing Minesweeper to avoid feeling sad, so the incorrect document-holding stays.
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 07:26|
Erogenous Beef, "Find Them And You Can Resist"
Actually, making you feel like you were missing something and wanted to go back to figure it out was the intent. I wanted the story to make you feel like a character in a conspiracy novel, like the Illuminatus! trilogy, where you spot patterns which unfold into other patterns. The thrill of discovery and solving a riddle, with a sense that there's always something bigger going on that you can't quite comprehend, but only feel.
Regardless, thanks for the crit and for rising to the challenge of Literary Where's Waldo.
However, you got maybe half the threes. I've explained them all in the farm.
You're probably going to get top marks for cleverness. Whether that leads to a win or not, imagine me applauding slowly like the man in the movie theater .gif. Bravo, E. Beef, you magnificent bastard.
The man in that gif? Orson Welles. It's from Citizen Kane.
Erogenous Beef fucked around with this message at 11:23 on Jul 2, 2013
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 10:47|
Thanks for the crit, Kaishai! There's a long climb ahead, but I'm pleased to have made it off the bottom.
I don't have time this week to type feedback for everyone, but if someone wants to pair off, gimme a holla.
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 14:01|
Wedding was a loving blast. Everyone, old folks and teenagers included, got wasted and gorged on homemade Italian food. Only one fight, a stun-gun to a beatdown. The winner was from my side, obviously.
(I'm not even making that up, it actually happened)
Brock Lasercock could hardly believe it. He; a cy-borg soldier whose bulky figure had been permanently warped by years of gene grafts and delta-cord surgeries, had finally met the woman of his dreams. They'd met in a dingy Shanghai club: both had been given the same contract by different employers- a Triad runner called Yung Long. As each moved through the throbbing crowd, their eyes met. She entered his genejack via wireless transmission.
That, right there, is how you satire my writing. loving awesome. Muff, if you want a new av or whatever just let me know. 10 bones Amazon is also still on the table.
My ring is tungsten with a meteorite inlay, though, not gold.
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 15:21|
I'm liking the sound of that. Anybody know any good cyberpunk novels for $10 or less on Kindle? It feels like a good way to spend the prize money. I'd just finished reading Neuromancer when I wrote the story, and it's the first actual cyberpunk novel I've finished.
10 bones Amazon is also still on the table.
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 15:38|
Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams is 5 bones American, Kindle Edition. Voice of the Whirlwind, a pseudo-sequel, is the same price. I'm sure there are other cyberpunk novels out there for 5 bucks or less. I'll send you an email shortly.
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 15:43|
Okay, here are my first 3x3 crits:
Scheider Heim: Well, I did enjoy the dynamic between Hana and the genie—her deadpan reaction to him showing up was nice, as was his initial frustration and how he eventually broke protocol to try to help her out. The writing was solid if nothing spectacular, though using “genie” as a plural led to some awkwardness in my head (I couldn’t resist hearing “Genie do not eat” in a caveman voice). Also, I can’t imagine that even someone as broken and depressed as Hana would be able to benefit from some magic genie wishes. What was her problem that couldn’t be solved with a wish? Was she just depressed? I feel like revealing what exactly was wrong might add some more strength to her motivation, though I can see the risk in outright giving an explanation that has to be convincing as well.
CantDecideOnAName: An intriguing piece about a character if not truly a great story. I feel like it would be interesting to see how this man’s beliefs clash with the rest of the world, but what we have here is more of a day-in-the-life piece. There isn’t really any conflict; as bizarre as this worship is, it seems ordinary from the narrator’s perspective. Also, I liked the idea of the “brand” as a mark of religious devotion, as well as the “incense” smoking—the latter brings to mind sweat-lodge religious experiences.
Steriletom: Not terribly written, but not believable in the slightest. I’m pretty sure insurance companies would get wise to a woman killing her husband on their wedding day, especially if she’d done so two times before. They’d investigate something like this and have it solved in five seconds. Also Mary doesn’t really have personality traits of her own beyond NEFARIOUS MURDERER.
Crabrock: Nothing too special in its use of language, but I do give you a lot of credit for blending the three flash rules and ending up with an entertaining story! I’d never heard of the person you picked, but I’m glad you ran with the rumors of his cannibalism, as that made for an interesting twist. The detectives are a bit flat as characters, but I liked the use of the spirit medium—her line at the end, how the dead see their contact with her as a phone call, etc. Well done.
Erogenous Beef: I feel much the same way Kaishai does about this one—it’s a seriously impressive puzzle, while not being quite as outstanding on the narrative side of things. That said, the story itself isn’t bad by any means. I was glad you only gave us a peek at the shadow government behind the Third (heh) Reich, it made them feel very elusive and menacing. If you sort of beef (heh) up the story until it is as compelling as the secret codes and mysteries, this has the potential to be something really awesome.
Auraboks: I definitely enjoyed the joke of the world-crushing titans talking in casual “bro”-speak, but something about the piece just felt a little off to me. Maybe it’s because the tone is a little stiff, or that the readers didn’t have anyone to latch on to; the humans are just a mass of cowering casualties, and while we get to hear the monsters speak, we don’t really ever get inside their heads. So, without that, all we really have to go on here is the core “joke,” which is certainly amusing, but not enough to carry a whole story.
Ceighk: Bleeeeehhhhhh. It’s a shame, because a lot of the writing for this is actually quite good; the opening funeral scene sets the tone well, for instance. However, the numbering/shuffling of scenes gets obnoxious, and the last long paragraph drags the whole thing off the “terrible” cliff. I’m a film student, and I believe you’re suffering here from an awful disease known as “Trying-to-write-like-Quentin-Tarantino Syndrome.” It’s not the first time I’ve seen it.
You try to ramp up the drama of the situation by throwing as much profanity and DRUG TALKIN’ at the wall. Nothing against curse words, but used without precision they just turn your piece into a mess, not to mention lines like “You loving gayboy” which I found more silly than anything else. Still, there was certainly some not-awful stuff in here, so keep at it.
Voliun: I know you have a… reputation around here, but I don’t think I’ve been around for a lot of your stories. Still, my fellow judges say that this one’s quite good by your standards, and there’s definitely a workable narrative here. However, when you look into the details things start to unravel.
Okay, so I’m assuming three trillion credits is a lot in this world, unless there’s some crazy inflation. Why would the princess offer so much for the guy to move on? I’d assume just sending him away would have the same effect, and bankrupting your treasury to make a point isn’t really the best idea. Also, why go through showing the princess the suitors if someone had already been given the ring? Did the Cohen know that it signified a contract or whatever?
Anyway, the characters are well-defined if a little stereotypical, so at least that part was solid. Still not sure why you wanted to end with that line, since I have no idea why being a Cohen is significant, but you lucked out on account of Ceighk’s expletive diarrhea. Go and thank him.
Bachelard rear end: This was a fun little piece. I liked your characterization, as well as the little hints we got beforehand that something was not quite normal about Steven. However, Jenny’s complete change of heart regarding Steven’s… abnormality seemed somewhat abrupt and false. Other than the somewhat forced aspects, I don’t have a whole lot else to say. Good piece, though three dicks would have been better than three balls
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 16:15|
Thunderdome needs a combination of and
I'll have the prompt up shortly. If anyone's got a notion to be a judge let me know, otherwise I'll begavel a couple people at random.
BTW I was able to get an artist's rendering of Martello's nuptials. Picture is to scale.
edit: Sebmojo im comin 4 u. Also thanks judges.
Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 16:34 on Jul 2, 2013
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 16:30|
Hah, you gave me $15 instead of $10. Sucker.
Hardwired by Walter Jon Williams is 5 bones American, Kindle Edition. Voice of the Whirlwind, a pseudo-sequel, is the same price. I'm sure there are other cyberpunk novels out there for 5 bucks or less. I'll send you an email shortly.
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 16:30|
Thanks for the crit Kaishai! I ended up scrapping a story and restart with the Iron King and I kind of glad I did.
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 16:38|
|# ? Dec 5, 2021 13:45|
Hah, you gave me $15 instead of $10. Sucker.
That was on purpose you ungrateful oval office
|# ? Jul 2, 2013 16:43|