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Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Warrior’s Spirit (1288 words)

I walked the opener around the lid of the can, slowly revealing the pasty brown beans inside. My legs hurt, my heels blistered, but my stomach needed the most attention. I shoveled the beans into my mouth.

“So,” said Tim, his boots already off, “were you in the service?”

At first I didn’t realize that Tim was addressing me. He looked at me and cleared his throat. “Uh, no,” I answered. “Wanted to go Army, but couldn’t get in.”

Tall and broad, Tim had clearly once been in fantastic shape. Now, his bushy hair was receding a bit, and there was a bit of a gut hanging over his belt. “Asthma?” he asked.

I nodded. “What about you?”

“I did six years in the Guard,” said Tim. “But the most action I saw was a training exercise. Pretty much this with real guns. Kendra was in my unit.”

Kendra was at least as tall as Tim, but where Tim’s body had gone to seed, she was in fantastic shape. Tim and I lagged behind her the entire march up.

“This your first time out?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I said. “Greg works in my office.”

“Greg?” said Tim. “You mean the Sarge?” We looked over to our squad leader; he was standing with their platoon lieutenant.

‘Sarge’ (or Greg, as I knew him) was over-the-hill at best. His portly form and grey buzz cut betrayed that he was nearer to retirement than his prime. He came from an older sensibility; I’d been told he’d missed just one day of work, years ago, because his mother had passed away.

“He’s the only one of us that has been in any real action,” said Kendra. She looked down. “Saw some real poo poo in Desert Storm.”

“How do you know that?” Tim asked.

“Randall over there was in his regiment,” Kendra answered. “We got drunk after the last match.”

“Oh,” I said. There was a long pause; I finished my beans. “Well, Greg invited me out. He said it would be fun. I didn’t know you guys took it this seriously.”

Kendra laughed. “Yeah, we kinda do, don’t we?”

“You having fun yet?” asked Tim.

“Oh yes,” I said, rubbing my tired legs. “So much fun.”

-

My army-surplus vest was laden with equipment: food, CO2 canisters, binoculars, survival kit, canteens, and an extra tube of paintballs before we left, just in case. Sarge said we might be gone all day.

I marched in the rear of our zig-zag formation, staying separated so as to cover more ground. It was quiet and dull; my mind returned to our conversation at the camp. The rest of them are soldiers, I thought. They’d all done this before; Sarge issued orders and they understood. Tim and Kendra were nice enough to translate for me, but I felt out of place.

Tim and I huffed and puffed up the hill, swinging our guns for leverage and still falling behind Kendra. Suddenly, compressed air bursts echoed through the trees. Paintballs flew through the branches, coloring the leaves and bark yellow. I fell to the ground in panic.

“Get down! Get down the hill!” screamed Sarge, busting through the branches like a stampeding bull. Kendra dashed down the hill like a gazelle behind him. I stood, turned to run, and immediately ate poo poo.

I violently rolled into a tree stump. The world swam. My chest was tight and wouldn’t let any air in or out. I forced myself to stand. Slowly, I ambled toward the sound of fire and my squadmates. “Blue, blue!” I gasped, hopeful I’d avoid further indignity by dying to friendly fire. Tim lay prone behind a log, searching the forest for any more enemies. I flopped down next to him.

“Where’s everyone?” I whispered.

“No idea,” said Tim. “We got separated.”

-

“Looks like most of them are still there,” said Tim, scouting with his binoculars. “Here, take a look.”

Down in the ravine was Red Platoon, sitting in their camp with a hot meal. My stomach rumbled. “They’ve only got one squad on patrol,” Tim explained. “You can see two of them sweeping the woods on the left there. Our mission is to draw out the patrol so that the rest of the platoon has a clear approach to the main force.”

“Wait,” I said, “we?”

Tim smiled. “Well, there’s no sign of Sarge or the other two. For all we know they’re casualties.”

“Yeah,” I said, “but there’s just two of us!”

“Sshhhh,” said Tim. “I’ll move you into position, then you’ll provide covering fire while I assault.”

“Uh, okay,” I said. Tim filled his hopper; I followed suit. “You’ll tell me what to do?”

“It’s easy!” said Tim. “Follow me!”

-

There wasn’t much cover near the bottom of the ridge, so Tim left me in a hollow a few dozen yards from the camp. As Tim dashed ahead, I tried to calm my racing heart. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.

To his left, a soldier came into view. I checked his arm - a red bandana! Okay, I thought, just breathe. Aim. Squeeze.

Pop! Pop! Pop! Blue paint spattered on the soldier’s stomach. Holy poo poo, I hit him! Excitement poured through me as he dropped to the ground.

Tim wove back and forth through the trees ahead of me. I fired rapidly to his left and right, attempting to clear a path. I saw another soldier drop into cover, and my enthusiasm doubled. Tim stopped and waved me forward, and a splotch of red exploded on his neck.

It’s your turn now, said a voice inside me. They shot your buddy! Go get them! I was already on my feet, ducking and running from tree to tree. I fired on the run, feeling like Rambo as I strafed the camp.

poo poo poo poo poo poo! Out of ammo! Crouched for cover, my shaking hand dumped my last tube into the hopper, dropping a few on the ground. Leave it! Let’s go!

When I looked up, I saw three Reds ducking between trees - dangerously close. I ran through the forest, heedless of my enemy. Adrenaline raged through my body. Nothing could stop me. Ten, maybe fifteen feet away, another enemy dropped to the dirt from behind a tree. Without thinking, I snapped my arm over and pulled the trigger. Blue splashed over his goggles.

I did my best war movie roll behind a huge fallen log, stumbling to a crouch and bracing my arm. I took aim and sprayed a dozen shots in their direction. These guys were too good, though; they zigged when my aim zagged, ducking behind cover just in time.

I shook my gun; the hopper made no noise. Out, really out. I stood up to a crouch and dashed backwards, turning to fire blanks. My gambit didn’t work; Red charged me, rifle at the ready. I dropped down into the dirt. A paintball burst right in front of my face; more rained down to my left and right.

Suddenly, the rain of shots ceased. I rolled onto my side; through the forest I could see the battle in the clearing as our other squads chased the Reds out of their own camp. They fled into the woods; it didn’t look like anyone was in charge.

A pair of huge boots stomped out of the forest and stopped right next to my face. “You okay?” asked Sarge. “That’s some good work,” he said, pulling me to my feet. “Follow me, we’ve got those bastards on the run.”

I frowned. “I’m out of ammo.”

“That’s my favorite thing to hear,” said Sarge. “We just might make a soldier out of you yet.”

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Sithsaber
Apr 8, 2014

by Ion Helmet


Post where you want to start your road trip.

Guiness13
Feb 17, 2007

The best angel of all.

Leave

My first thought when I woke up was, Oh poo poo, I’m dead. I floated on the mattress like some misguided demon in heaven. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been in a bed that wasn’t some slab of a cot. Most nights I slept on the ground. It was also unmercifully quiet. I heard nothing but the faint sound of running water and my thoughts. My ears ached for the chaos of sound they were accustomed to.

I was so loving tired.

I sat up, ignoring the shrill pain behind my eyes, and lit up a smoke. It tasted like the rear end-end of a mule, but the hangover was bad enough without tempting fate. I sat there staring out of the window. The city was a mix of the shattered skeletons of buildings and those few that remained untouched. There was no sense to the destruction; some blocks were utter ruin with a single building standing pristine among the rubble while others were untouched aside from a single home of ash and broken stone. The sun shone crimson through the ruins as it rose.

The water cut off. Moments later, Rob stepped out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist. He was tall and the way his muscles rippled distracted from his sunken eyes and the way his ribs shone too clearly through his skin. Nothing could draw attention from the puckered scars in his shoulder and just above his waist. No one who spent any time at the front lines lacked for scars.

When he saw me he smiled and life flickered in those tired eyes.

“I’m glad you’re up. I thought you were going to be out until leave was over,” he said.

I laughed. “You should know me better than that. There’s no way I miss this.”

“That’s what you said in Berlin. The MPs came close to wheeling you out.”

“Right,” I said, forcing my lips into a smile. It didn’t hold. “Rob, I need to get something off my chest.”

He came over and sat down next to me. He put a rough, calloused hand on my shoulder and squeezed.

I couldn’t look him in the eye.

“We can’t go back out there.” I forced the words out in rapid succession. He sighed.

“Look, John...”

“No, don’t give me that bullshit. If we go back it’s only a matter of time until one of us is dead. We’ve been out there for years! Who’s left from the unit we started out with?” He winced and shook his head.

“John, we run and we’re both dead for sure. For gently caress sake, they caught Hansen after two years and left his head rotting on a stick for weeks.”

I spat out a single bark of empty laughter. “Hansen was a moron.”

“He won’t be the only one if you think this is going to work. The generals own our asses for the duration. Our only hope is to kill more of those bastards than they kill of us.” He put his hand on my cheek and tried to turn my face to his. I pulled away.

“What kind of macho bullshit is that?” He stood up, his eyes smoldering down at me.

“We swore an oath.”

“gently caress the oath!” I said, rising to that gaze. “You and I are the only two left after three years of this poo poo and there’s no end in sight. People make it out all the time. I know you’ve heard the rumors.”

“And that’s all they are.” He stepped toward me and grabbed my arm. “John, no one gets out of here. No one. I know you remember that chip in your head, the same as mine. We run, they find us. It’s just a matter of when.”

I felt the tear burn in my eye and I pulled my arm away, pushing past him toward the door. In that moment, I hated him as much as I loved him. The thought of leaving without him burned in my gut. I heard him begging me to stop. Then I was storming through the hall to my own room. My gear was there; my rifle, my armor, the few belongings I was allowed. The captain would be calling ranks in two hours. I needed to be ready. The front waited for us.

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

The next five months passed the same as the three years that came before it; weeks of quiet interspersed with moments of hell. This night was quiet. Don’t get me wrong, the not-too-distant sounds of shelling and rifle-fire were always present, but in our little section of the battlefield things were still. I was at the tail-end of a twelve hour shift guarding some hut-in-the-mud. I could see my relief trudging through the muck. It was Rob. He smiled when he saw me watching him. The smile was slight and hesitant. I turned and stared out into the empty nothing that was the front.

I never heard the shot. The impact of the bullet crashed like a wrecking ball in my left side. I was on my back before the pain hit, but the terror was instant.

Rob was there almost before I was down, yelling for a medic and telling me to hold on. I reached up and touched him with my right hand. He looked down at me and bit his lip.

“I’m sorry,” he said. Sometimes short good-byes are all we have time for.

I smiled as I drifted off.

I was so loving tired.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006



They Shall Not Pass
845 words

-see archives-

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 02:58 on Dec 11, 2014

Kalyco
Apr 4, 2013


The Thunder Behind the Lightning
1,034

Caleb had been at war with the Thunderer since before he could remember. Even his parents had been born after the day the Silents had first taken the skies.

“Rand, update me. Where are they?” he yelled into the desert air. His throat mic picked up the sound, but it was eerie when he couldn’t hear his own voice on the wind whipping past his ears.

“Your five o’clock, but it don’t look like they’ve seen you. Keep headin’ down-drift to the bottom’n hope they don’t see the trail, or don’t care to worry about it.”

“Roger, see you for supper,” Caleb answered.

“Yeah, wouldn’t wanta miss Sheila’s cooking.”

Caleb continued his screaming descent down from the dunes. They were mostly grey, hot sand, and with nothing but gravity powering him and no wind to speak of, Caleb did pray that enough of a breeze kicked up to hide his trail.

“You know…” he said, almost to himself, “we used to fight the Thunderer.”

“We still do,” Rand answered. “We just changed the meaning of the word.”

Caleb had nothing to say. He cut a sharp bank to the right, trying to control his speed. Then his board caught on something buried in the sand and sent him flying.

“Agh! Son of a-”

“Caleb! You alright? They haven’t broken their hover, they’re still-”

“It’s all right, Rand,” he said, brushing himself off and getting back on his board. "Just hit some rebar in the sand is all."

“Godsgone, man, don’t scare me like that.”

Caleb resumed his controlled fall down the dunes to the forested valley below. Such were the risks of sandboarding over the dust of fallen cities: you just might trip on the bones.

-

“Dinner!” came the call right as Caleb dumped his board by the door to the common mess. Behind him, clouds had started rolling in. They were too slow to be suspicious, so hungry eyes turned instead toward food.

“Perfect timing, dunebug,” Rand said, ducking to walk in behind him and almost turning sideways to get through the door.

The rest of Can City filed in pretty quickly. Sheila’s cooking was legendary, and no one wanted to be left with Dust-dried rinds and protein packets. Caleb dug in to a meat stew like it was his last meal, Rand at his elbow doing the same.

He’d just started licking his bowl when there was a thunderclap close enough to shake the rafters and make the metal sheeting on the building groan.

“Silents!” someone yelled.

Everyone dove off their dinner benches at once.

“I didn’t lead them here!” Caleb yelled to no one in particular. “They didn’t follow me!”

“Course not,” Rand said, running out with him. They had posts near each other, Rand at the reflecting dish and Caleb at light volley. The sky had darkened too much to use real UV, so Caleb cranked his hand generator to get Rand the light he needed to fire back at the darkness.

There was a screech close by, then a scream. “Sheila!” Caleb yelled, looking around.

“Caleb, don’t stop!” Rand yelled. Caleb bent back to his task. All around him he heard the shouts, followed by the occasional thump of a body being dropped back on top of a roof. A minute later he heard someone start the hoses, and the rush of water shooting from them.

There was another thunder clap, and suddenly the common mess was flat as the side of a sand dune. Caleb’s ears rang, but he kept cranking.

Until he felt the claws sink into his shoulders and he was lifted off the ground.

“No!” he shouted, twisting and bucking in the thing’s grip. He kicked his legs forward and back to try to throw it off balance, keep it close to the ground before it-

“Agh!”

Did that.

He felt the familiar inclination to feint, but he fought it. “Slimebat, I am not your dinner!” He kept swinging.

There was a pressure on his mind. In it was hunger and silence and darkness and some larger, superior force, the thunder behind the lightning. Caleb ran from it inside his brain, repeating the mantra he’d been taught “Iiit’s a small world aaafter all…”

There was a furious animal hiss in his right ear, then a volley of warm, wet gore as the creature coughed and spat his blood out. The pain in his shoulders dropped greatly.

“Take that back to your Momma, you piece of- ah!”

Caleb realized he was dropping too.

There was a loud thud, a smaller thunk, and a metallic clang, followed by an “Ow…”

A few hours later, Sheila was serving him and the other injured extra stew as one of the med-techs sealed the new wound in his neck. “Shouldn’t scar as bad as the last one, Caleb, this one didn’t shake you around as hard.”

“More of a cow, less of a cat,” Rand said, slapping him on the shoulder.

“Well I hope he takes every drop of me back to his buddies and they all choke on it,” Caleb said, sore and sullen. The tech gave him some extra antibiotics and moved on.

“What’s on yer mind, dune bug?” Rand asked, arms crossed.

“Just that this is such a pointless cycle,” Caleb said. “They come, they feed, we get bit, the unlucky ones die, the really lucky ones get sucked half dry and land on a tarp on their way down. My parents said we used to fight the Silents, like we might actually face the Thunderer someday and do something about it. We haven’t even actually seen the Thunderer yet!”

Rand smiled and scratched the many bite scars on his neck. “And hopefully we’ll never have to,” he said.

“Just feels like we're content with being made cowards,” Caleb said.

“Maybe,” Rand said. “Or maybe it's made us smart. You don’t fight a champion boxer in a boxing ring – you get him drunk, call him out behind the bar, then break his hands.”

“So the Thunderer isn’t really a creature, it’s just the thing controlling the Silents?”

“Might be. Might be we’ll have to break the head after we break the hands, but meantime, I’m happy with firing the bastards from the skies and lettin’em suck my poisoned blood.”

Caleb sighed and rubbed his shoulder, "Just praying to god it's enough, right?"

"God's gone, kid," Rand said. "But that don't mean we're not plannin' on giving the devil one hell of a fight."

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


The Vulture

Words: 1285

Igan surveyed the mudflat full of half buried bodies and was unmoved. Today would be a good day for Igan; the tide moved out early in the morning, allowing the sun to bake away enough water, and the tide would move in before the mud turned to clay. He might be able to strip thrice a dozen before he was flooded out.

Before, when the fighting between Ockland and Suntory first came to the village, Igan used to bury the bodies after he scavenged, but as the days and fighting worsened, the inefficiency was too much. After all, he had had a sister to worry about. Now it was just a habit, and the sin already committed.

Straddled atop a now naked corpse, the bloated and waterlogged skin undulating between Igan’s thighs, he worked his pair of pliers back and forth. The silver tooth made a quiet sucking sound as it dislodged and Igan stood in the mud naked save for a loin cloth, pouch and his signature midnight blue leather gloves.

One more and he would be done for the day, the tide returning already. But he had been lucky in his haul, many coats for scrap, medals and fillings for smelting and more sights for his fevered dreams.

A body with a blue Ockland coat lay uncovered in the mud, serene as though he were napping. Igan dug in, wrenching the body from the earthen embrace. Routine guided Igan as he bent down and opened the coat neck, searching for an engagement or family ring; soldiers often kept valuable keepsakes there. His smile turned sour as he realized the medallion around the man’s neck was his own craft, smelted and shaped and given to his sister months ago.

Just then the body shuddered and coughed, spitting black mud out of his mouth. Igan sprung backward, grabbing his trowel and crouching low in a combat stance. A soft moan escaped the parched lips.

“Who are you, why do you have this!”

Afraid that he wasn’t going to get an answer, and that he was in the middle of plain sight, Igan bundled his raggedy haul onto the sled before he carefully dragged the soldier on, covering him loosely in waterlogged coats and fleeing the mudflats.

At his shack on the outskirts of town, Igan tore through the box of his sister’s belongings, each one flashing a memory of when he gave it to his sister, each one a special smile as she looked up at him from her bed. Everything was there, save for the necklace.

“I’ll ask you one more time,” Igan said.

“There is a loose floorboard, under her bed,” the soldier said. Igan wanted to slap him, the nerve of this broken man, but he searched anyway. The floorboard was easy to find, had he ever the cause to look. Inside were letters upon letters.

“She didn’t want you to worry,” he said. Igan opened his mouth, but couldn’t form the words. “You must be her big brother. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

A sharp banging came from the door.

“Blackhands, open up. Open this door now, Blackhands.” It was Diedrich, the Mayor. A spineless utilitarian, much like himself, the Suntory had put in charge. They had struck a mutual bargain back when Igan’s sister was still sick. The shack belonged to a dead crab fisherman with no family, and what was the mayor to do with it anyway? The town needed reclaimed supplies, and while Diedrich held the town together, superstition and taboo kept them away from the thousands of dead. Except Igan.

“Yes Mayor,” Igan said from the other side of the door.

“So you’re the Blackhands?” The soldier wheezed. “Now I’ve done it…”

“What have you done, Igan?”

Igan opened the door a crack.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Igan said. The mayor’s face became crestfallen but Igan was not fooled.

“Please, Igan, do not make me bring the Corporal,” Diedrich said.

“That coat you wear, mayor, of who’s wool is it dyed? Is it not brown and olive as the Suntory soil? But what of all those blue patches, so resistant to the Ockland rains? Surely no General, let alone Corporal, would begrudge you from wearing the slicks of the dead now, would they? Surely not in these troubled times.”

Diedrich’s eyelids lowered into a sleepy gaze that Igan immediately recognized. There was a fish knife on a side table next to the door, just far enough away that he’d have to step away from the door.

“Just come outside. Leave the door open, and come outside, Igan. That’s all you have to do.”

“Kill him,” the soldier whispered. Igan looked at the soldier, covered in mud and death. If he gave the soldier up, it would be just like if he found him dead, no? What if he just killed the soldier here in the house. Would things go back to normal?

“May I see your hands, Mayor?”

For a moment Diedrich paused and he squinted slightly, trying to puzzle out what Igan was asking him to do. But it wouldn’t have mattered, and he raised his arms slowly, showing the skin of both hands, weathered and calloused, and shaking ever so slightly. Igan could see the heavy weight resting in the mayor’s coat pocket.

“He’ll kill us both,” the soldier said. Igan gripped the door, the warped wood sending tiny splinters into his palms. Open the door, pack his things, and never look back. Just open the door and walk away. He could walk away, this wasn’t the first time, he could do it again.

“I’m not going to do that, Diedrich.”

“You’ve made a grave mistake Blackhands, and you will be cast in with the lot you keep.”

The mayor turned in the mud and stormed off towards the village. Igan wondered if he should have listened to either one of them.

“You’re a fool,” the soldier. “I guess the Blackhands really has lost his nerve.”

Igan had the fish knife against the soldier’s throat in an instant.

“Keep talking and you will know why they call me the Blackhands,” he said. Standing straight Igan rummaged through his shack, throwing things into leather knapsacks and bags. Hard tack and dried foods were thrown in one bag, salt and coffee grounds into another, all of it he ran outside and loaded onto the sled.

“Can you walk?” Igan said. The soldier scoffed. Igan grit his teeth and bent over, lifting the soldier in his lean arms. He dropped him unceremoniously into the sled.

Igan went back into the shack before coming out in a blue overcoat, gloves and a machine gun.

“Hold this,” Igan said, thrusting the gun into the soldier’s chest. Grunting, Igan started the sled moving, his boots sinking into the mud. Soon they crested a hill overlooking the mudflats. Limbs of soldiers still poked through the incoming tide.

“They’re going to follow the tracks,” the soldier coughed.

“Hopefully not through this tide,” Igan said.

“Why are you doing this?”

“You’re going to tell me about my sister.”

“What? What don’t you know already?”

Igan remembered the feel of the medallion in his hands right before he gave it to his sister. He remembered her cold hands in his when he found her that terrible morning. He remembered putting all of her things, all the things he had made her, in a box that he kept on her bed. But he never realized the medallion was missing.

“Not nearly enough, it seems,” Igan said. He pushed the sled into the rising waters, through the mud flats. “I hope you can hold your breath for just a little longer.”

leekster
Jun 20, 2013


My story is at home and I'm at work. May I request an eight hour extension to get home and post?

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly



Your Friend in Vietnam
1200 Words



My father taught me how to be a man. He taught me to learn. He taught me to wait. He taught me to kill. I learned to hunt from my father. “Kevin,” he would tell me as we rode in his creaky pickup to the hunting grounds, “learning to hunt is learning to live. I tracked and killed my first bear when I was ten, and I’ve hunted my own food since I was eight. When I was nineteen, I hunted your mother too. Only difference is I didn’t need birdshot to get her.”

He told me that story every time we made the drive.

The first time I killed a deer, I cried. I had been taught what to expect; father did a good job, but I cried. You can’t prepare to watch life fade away. I didn’t fire a rifle again until I was twelve.

The next time I went hunting, I was with my friend Michael. We spent the day in a treestand, sipping sodas, and I killed another deer. That night, instead of crying by the fire with Michael, we kissed. I’m not sure how it happened. There were others after him, and they always just happened, like a summer rainstorm you don’t expect. There’s a feeling in the air. Then a crack. The next thing you know, your clothes are soaked but it doesn’t even bother you; you are just so relieved to be out of the sun.

I’d been in many storms over the next eight years, but none brought me as much relief as Michael.

We’d never talk about it at home. In fact, kissing Michael was terrible for our friendship. Back in Aroostook County, we were acquaintances at best. We didn’t talk in church. We didn’t tryout for the same teams in school. We weren’t. But every June we made that same trip to the woodlands.

I could only imagine his bewilderment when I wrote to him during that frostbitten February. We need to talk. Bring the equipment, the letter read.

***

I climbed from the cab of my pickup, careful to pull the notice from above my visor. It had been folded there for days.

“Thanks for coming,” I told him while grabbing the gear from my truck. His stubble was coming through under his shaggy brown sideburns. He nodded. “Ready to go?” He nodded again, and we were off into the birches.

Michael carried his gear on his back: a hunting tripod, blinds, rifle and ammunition, a tent to sleep in, food, water. I could tell from his hunch and gait that it weighed on him. My bag was lighter, but still it was heavy.

“Want some help?” I asked, but Michael shrugged the question off.

As we walked deeper and deeper into the woods, I clutched the letter in my pocket.

He looked so mournful, like someone walking to their death. Only the sounds of crunching of leaves and snapping twigs cut the unbearable silence. “How’s Betty?” I asked foolishly.

He stopped and dropped his bag with a shrug. “Jesus Christ, Kevin.” He closed the distance between us with heavy stomps, each more menacing than the last. “What kind of loving question is that? How’s Betty doing? Probably significantly worse if she knew that I was about to gently caress some guy in the woods.” He stroked my cheek with his beaten workman’s hands. I had grown my winter beard thick that year, but still his touch felt good. “Betty’s fine. I’d prefer to keep her that way.”

“That was a stupid question,” I admitted.

“Yeah.”

“Look, if you want to leave, you don’t have to be here. Go. I’ll see you around town, and we can go back to nonexistence. Your decision.”

“I’m here, aren’t I?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

“So shut up and walk.”

We continued to walk in silence until our campsite was just visible on the horizon.

“Hold on,” I said as I rummaged through my bag before producing my father’s old, rusty, beartrap. I staked it into the ground and opened the iron jaws.

“We don’t trap,” Michael said.

“I do this trip.”

We enjoyed dinner by sunset. The campfire ripped and popped with a carefree abandon, and it lit Michael in the warm glow that I always saw in him. We sat close to each other and the fire, and I don’t know which warmed me more. I took his hand.

“What are we doing, Kevin?” he asked.

“I miss you.”

“You see me all the time.”

“Don’t be stupid. When are we going to stop and just be upfront with everyone?”

His lips, those lips I’ve felt change and grow and love me, his lips formed that downturned look of disgust I’d seen before, in the moments after the moments we’d spend in his tent. “That can’t happen,” he said.

“Wouldn’t you want it to?”

“I’ve got a girlfriend, Kevin,” He said, “and as much as it pains you-”

“it’s good, I know-”

“Yeah, it is good.” He allowed himself to smile in that way that he only could at our hunting grounds. “You know. Maybe I’m the reason this works. Maybe it doesn’t matter if it’s Betty or you. Maybe I’m just that good.”

I smiled back and pretended his comment didn’t hurt. “Well,” I said as I removed the frayed letter from my pocket, “you will have plenty of time to figure out if it is just you. You’ll have plenty of time to spend with Betty, or anyone else for that matter.”

“What’s this?” I pressed the letter into his hand, not allowing him to open it.

“I got picked.”

“Picked?”

“Selected.”

His eyes took on a glassy look as he read by the firelight. It wasn’t his fault; he didn’t put my social security number into the lottery machine, or my face on the dartboard. He didn’t pick me, but maybe that’s why I was upset. Here I was, picked by the United States government, but never picked and by the man I loved.

I could feel the heat behind my eyes and the water building on their forefront. “So you will have lots of time to spend with Betty. In a few months, I’ll be a distant memory. I’ll be your friend in Vietnam.” I stood up, not knowing where I was planning on going, just that I needed to walk.

“Wait,” Michael said, catching my waist. “What are you going to do?”

“What is there to do?”

We stood there for a moment, just us and the trees, the fire and the moon, and the kiss I’d used to mark my year.

I shoved him away.

Funny thing about the night and passion is that they both obscure your vision. Did I forget that I had staked the bear trap close to camp? Did I miss it in the leaves and darkness? I would never tell. I can only remember the feeling of my bones breaking under the serrated teeth, the tearing of muscle and flesh, and the feeling of Michael leaving all his bags behind to carry me back. I knew, even then, that I’d lose the foot. I knew I’d be staying home.

Sithsaber
Apr 8, 2014

by Ion Helmet


I'll advice Gau to post his starting position one last time. I don't want to trounce someone who never bothered to stand and fight.

I gave you that head's up so you can't make excuses when you lose.

Sithsaber fucked around with this message at 03:38 on Jul 14, 2014

Gau
Nov 18, 2003

I don't think you understand, Gau.


Number 36 posted:

My advice is start in Reno.

That way there is no chance you have to go to Reno.

Sounds good to me.

SHUT THE gently caress UP SITHSABER

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

Wordcount: 1041

Tiny Victories

2050 - Aftermath

Old Mrs Edmunds dies in her home, Alec at her side. He feels her hand lose its slight grip on his, sees her eyes glaze over in the fragile second between being there and being gone.

At the last, she calls out to someone. It sounds like “Jerome”, though Alec has never known anyone of that name around Mrs Edmunds in all the years he has lived next door.

Alec touches her forehead with his lips, tastes sandwiches and milk. He walks to the window, the familiar houses of Summerton spreading out on the hills around him. He closes the curtains and calls for the doctor.

2040 - Ignition

“I pray that we have learned a lesson for all time. But I'm not sure that we have,” says Alec.

“Who said that?” asks General Samson, his fingering hovering over the button

“Van Kirk - Navigator on the Enola Gay,” says Alec. “It seemed apropos.”

“But we did learn that lesson, didn’t we?” says the General. “This is a completely different situation. We can’t sit back and let ourselves be overrun.” He studies Alec closely, looking for signs of wavering commitment. “And this, don’t forget, is a remote, tactical strike. There will be no Hiroshima. You know, they were worried the Earth’s atmosphere was going to catch alight, that first time they dropped a nuke in Los Alamos. Didn’t happen. All our simulations say we’re five by five.”

Alec looks away, toward the iron walls. The general continues, “I hear Florida was being paid a visit by the O.C.K. You ever seen anywhere after one of their ‘visits’?” The general’s hand reaches forward and his voice lowers. “Intel says he started research for them.”

Alec doesn’t ask who. Instead he remembers Summerton, the way it was and the way the hills are now craters. He contemplates asking if he can push the button, but when he turns back the chance has gone.


2030 - Acceleration

“And how long have you been doing this?” asks Jerome

“Since you started getting results,” says Alec. “I was approached by…”

“Approached? Some bastard with a cloak and a dagger telling you to sell out your ethics for your country’s sake.” Jerome’s mouth is dry or he would be spitting.

“Pretty much exactly that, actually. It’s the O.C.K - once your results were out, they started a parallel development stream, they did everything the could to replicate our work. You know they did.”

“They don’t stand a chance - they don’t have the know-how, or the capability, or even the theory.”

“Yet, Jerome, they don’t have it ...yet. You’re too smart to be that naive, what do you think they would do with your gift to the world? They will bastardise any trace of it to get an advantage. It’s what they do - you saw what happened in Saudi Arabia, in Indonesia. How long before they try it here? It’s a war for Christ sake.”

Jerome says nothing. He only leaves.


2020 - Identification

Jerome stands on the stage as his peers applaud. He approaches the microphone at the podium and coughs a couple of times to check the levels. Waiting in the wings, Alec fiddles nervously with his tie.

“Your Majesty, Your Royal Highness and friends. Thank you for this.” Jerome smiles at the crowd and they feel the warmth of it.

“First a confession: this is not my work alone. I mean, Science never is, but from the moment we first came up with the germ of the idea that afternoon in Summerton, my partner, in life and in crime, at least crimes of the scientific variety, has been Alec Newman. I’m proud of the work we’ve done, and I’m proud of the ethical standards to which we have held our discoveries. It is a difficult thing in this day and age to pursue innovation without significant patronage from the so-called ‘military industrial complex’. But, I am proud to say that I...that we accept this award in the full knowledge that we have managed to do so.”

Applause builds within the auditorium. Alec fiddles with his tie some more


2010 - Final Descent

Mrs Edmunds fluffs the pillows on Jerome’s bed and places the over-large stuffed elephant beside it as a finishing touch. She looks out the window and the sudden sun makes her sneeze and her eyes water. She tabs at the tears with her handkerchief. Outside she sees the boys loading up the dilapidated van Alec bought with his graduate loan. She feels a sense of pride in who they have become, and in how she helped them become it. Jerome and Alec kiss on the lawn, then jump into the van and drive off into the future. She watches them go.


2000 - Ground Zero

Mrs Edmunds lets Alec in through the kitchen door. “My dear boy - what’s the matter with you?”

“Sorry Mrs E. Is Jerome in?”

“He’ll be down in a minute. Now, you sit at the table and tell me what’s up while I make you a sandwich.”

Alex tells her of Amber, his family cat, and how his father let him come to say goodbye when they went to the vet. How in a single second the light left her eyes and her body went still

“Oh, you poor thing, to go through that. Here. Peanut butter and piccalilli, that should cheer you up.”

“Thanks Mrs E.”

Jerome arrives from upstairs, and the two of them troop off to play with the tiny metal figures Jerome has been collecting.

“Boom,” says Jerome, knocking down Alec’s largest piece.

“You can’t kill my general,” says Alec, his voice a frustrated whine.

“And why not?” asks Jerome. “Double six equals boom.”

“My cat just died.”

“Yeah." Jerome looks at his friend, considering. "Good thing he passed on a life or two to your general.” He stands up Alec’s figurine and ponders for a moment. “You know what would be pretty cool? If you could send a bomb back in time to blow up anybody. If you could blow up Hitler with an atom bomb.”

Alex agrees that would be pretty cool.

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly



Gau posted:

Sounds good to me.

SHUT THE gently caress UP SITHSABER



Your destination is Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


leekster posted:

My story is at home and I'm at work. May I request an eight hour extension to get home and post?

use google docs; it's a lifesaver.

It better be posted when I wake up in the morning.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Grey
1169 words

A young boy with coal-colored hair kicked and shuffled his way through the swamp mud. His head turned to the left and right as sharp as an owl’s, and every so often he would crouch down and fire an invisible rifle at the stands of balding cypress trees, making gunfire noises that sent the yellow warblers scattering off the lower branches like sparks. Behind every tree there was a hog-faced Southern Rebel savage. Even the thinnest tree trunks had the soldiers that stood sideways, bending and shrinking away from the light that filtered from overhead, lying in wait.

So when he saw the Confederate soldier standing off to the left, leaning against a hulking slab of rock, he crouched down and fired an invisible bullet.

At the sound the boy made, the soldier whipped into action. The boy saw the bearded man bring the gun up to his shoulder and then the boy’s legs gave out as the man fired. The boy’s chest was pressed into the muddy bottom of the swamp as the sound of the gunshot echoed through the empty swamp and mixed with the rustling of bird wings.

A voice overhead shouted out, “Did I get ya, ya low-down skunk?” Anson heard him laugh a high-pitched rattling laugh and he felt his heart explode through his chest, like it wanted to burrow through the mud. Anson said nothing, just rested his chin in the muck and took quiet breaths. Maybe if he played possum, the man wouldn’t notice. Maybe—

He felt hard metal poking him in the back. “Up,” the soldier said.

The boy rolled over and sat up. He looked at the man pointing the gun at him. He looked like every Rebel boogeyman his older brother had told him about in his letters home—round red face, broad shoulders, long grey beard and mustache, full Rebel uniform. Only you could barely tell it was grey, it was so stained with mud. And his beard was snarled and tangled with flecks of dirt. He held a long-barreled rifle in his hands, the end pointed at his heart.

They stood there for a second or two. Then the man grinned, and lowered his rifle. “Yer just about the youngest Yankee I ever saw,” the man said. “What’s your name?”

The boy stood, stared. “A-Anson,” he said.

“Anson,” the man repeated. “Whereabouts ‘re you from?”

“Up North a ways,” said Anson. “C-Calvert County.”

“Huh,” said the man. “Well Anson, sorry about the shootin’, but I got a job to do.” The man started to make his way through the swamp, then turned to look back at Anson. He motioned for him to follow.

Anson didn’t budge. “You’re—you’re a Rebel.”

“What, the voice didn’t give it away? I promise I won’t do nothin’. Here, look.” The man gripped his rifle by the barrel with one hand and walked back over to Anson. He offered it to him. “Hold it for me,” he said.

Anson reached out with both hands and took the gun from him. It was a lot heavier than he expected—he had to balance it on his shoulder like firewood. He staggered forward after the man in uniform.



They didn’t have far to walk, just a hundred yards or so. At the edge of a rounded hill, there was a small valley in front of a few stands of cypress. A thick sheet of leaf-covered canvas was tied to two branches and pinned into the ground at the other end by a couple of heavy rocks. The man ducked under the side of the makeshift tent, and Anson finally let the rifle drop to the dry ground, rubbing his shoulder. “This is a good hiding place,” Anson said.

“You think so, do ya?” said the soldier.

“Yeah,” said Anson. “I know where all the good places to hide are. Me and my brother played hide-and-seek in this swamp all the time.”

The man came out from the tent holding a bag of sunflower seeds. He popped one in his mouth and bit down, spitting out the shell. “You a hide-and-seek champion?” he said.

Anson shrugged. “I’m small.”

“Right, right.” The soldier spit out another piece of shell. “I’m a professional hide-and-seeker. Me and my best friend, Richard. Snuck up on a lot of dirty Yanks, that we did.” He laughed.

Anson felt something cold settling in his stomach. He felt the rifle at his feet, saw the sun glinting off the stock. The man saw the face he was making, and waved him off. “Oh, hell with it, boy. It’s all a game, ‘s what it is.” He bent over, wiped a speck of mud off his boots. “Problem is, everyone’s thinking about what they stand to lose, and I don’t have anything else to lose. No one remembers what the prize is.”

“What’s the prize?” Anson asked. His hands were balling up into fists, and his face was getting hotter.

The man snickered, wiped his nose. “I’ll give you a hint, boy—it starts with Maine and ends with Florida.”

He began to cackle, a loud, shattering sound. Anson’s eyes watered. He stepped forward and spit at the man’s face. It splattered on the man’s chest.

The man stopped laughing. He set the bag of sunflower seeds down. “Now what in the hell was that for?”

“You’re a hog-faced Rebel,” Anson said. “You want to start your own country and enslave all of us. You killed my brother.”

The man sat still, looked at Anson. Finally he spoke. “I don’t have the time. I just don’t have the time on God’s green earth. How old are you?”

“Nine,” said Anson. The man’s eyes were a cloudy blue, hitting him like hailstones. He looked away.

“Nine,” the man repeated. He coughed. “Forget everything I said. Forget that I’m even here. You’re the only person I’ve seen in this swamp since I shored up here a few months ago, so turn around and leave now and I promise you’ll live to be ten.”

Anson dug his heels into the dirt. “I want to live to be eighteen. So I can fight you.”

The man shook his head, stared at the tent wall.

Anson said nothing. The shadows were getting longer, and he could hear the gentle warbling of the thrushes and the sparrows as they settled back down into their nests. He moved to pick up the rifle, and the man said, “Wait. I need that.” The man tossed the bag of sunflower seeds to Anson. “Take that instead.”

Anson gripped the bag in his right hand, turned and left. He kept walking, shoving branches out of his face and stomping through muck, following the setting sun until he got back to the main trail. Then he sat down and rested his head on his knees. He looked back the way he had came, heard nothing but the wind whipping through the trees. It was only then that he noticed how hard he was breathing.

Thalamas
Dec 5, 2003

Sup?

ESL 1330 words

Celia Wiesel awoke and knew that today would be the day she’d unify the world under the United States government. She showered and the water washed the doubt from her bones. After breakfast, she lingered in the hall near her brother’s picture. He posed in front of the Space Needle, back when the landmark still stood, before the Japanese turned the grey city into hills of radioactive rebar and broken concrete. The attack had taken him away more than ninety years ago now, but his long dead eyes still reminded her of the cost of patriotism.

“Honey, everything alright?” Her husband poked his head out of the kitchen. “You’ve been standing there a while.”

“Fine. It’s just the Advent Day Centennial.”

----

Juan Escárcega prayed with his family that morning because he believed today would be his day to die. After the Advent, anyone’s death was improbable, but he believed. Too soon, his daughters were gone for school and his wife had left for work, but his shift did not start until ten, so he sat at his kitchen table while his stomach rumbled. He set a plate beneath the nozzle of their Kraft All-Food and ordered up eggs and bacon.

“Television.” That blond woman from the morning news appeared on his kitchen wall, the feed transmitted through the worldnet directly into his brain by nanobots crouched in his brain matter. She sat behind a revival-style, printed mahogany desk while red lights flashed above her left shoulder: Breaking News. He settled in with his breakfast and listened.

“The great wall on the U.S.-Mexico border has been breached after a two week standoff with U.S. forces. While President Moor claims that the National Guard is controlling the situation, Mexican Emperor Francisco Huerta has released this statement:”

The shot cut to a man in pseudo-military garb, a jacket that was too crisp, too white. The amount of medals pinned to his breast screamed seasoned combat veteran. “My people will no longer live beneath the yoke of American greed. We need more land, the same as everyone else, and America is the least crowded country in the world.”

The woman returned. Juan set aside his bowl, unable to finish. “Huerta has maintained his policy of-“

“Off.” Today he would ensure a free Earth, but he wondered who he was doing it for. He pulled on his black suit jacket and left. The subway waited for no man.

----

In a world where nothing grew, where nearly every scrap of land in the last desolate places had been devoted to high rises for over thirty-billion people, Celia valued the twenty by twenty garden in the center of the Pentagon. A single paperbark maple, a survivor of the 9/11 Memorial and one of the last trees, spread its boughs high overhead. She remembered the dedication ceremony.

“Madame Secretary, it’s time for the meeting.” The department head’s voice pulsed gently inside her skull, transmitted by the same nanobots that lived in the peoples of the world.

“I’m on my way.” She stood, walked to the elevator, and rode up with a brown man in a suit. Three-hundred floors. Celia looked him over. His face pointed forward, ostensibly ignoring her, but his eyes darted her way twice during the trip. “Juan, isn’t it?”

“Yes, ma’am.” She noted his lack of accent with approval.

“I know all my employees. How are your wife and children? I hear the oldest has been accepted to Stanford for next year.”

His face, so serious a moment ago, lifted with joy. “She has. I’m very proud.”

“You should be.” She smiled back, and felt a tightness between her shoulder blades she hadn’t realized was there melting away. This man was why she fought for the American way of life. Her eyes searched his, and his smile faltered for a moment.

----

The elevator dinged. “Happy Advent Day, ma’am.” He dropped his eyes, followed her out into the nanotech sector, and then turned immediately toward communications. From there, he could transmit the data early, modify it to his own designs.

“Juan? Where are you going, the meeting is this way.”

He stopped, but spoke away from her. “I’ll be handling transmission during the meeting.” The weight of her eyes – some said she was nearing two-hundred years, even if she looked twenty-five like every other adult – pulled on his shoulders, willed him to turn. “Don’t worry, ma’am, I’ll make sure your message gets through.”

“Ah, thank you. Carry on.” He reached the lab in time to see the last of the other techs file out toward the auditorium. Inside, the audio broadcast software was already set, coded to the Secretary’s voice. He let it run in the background and focused on logging into Celia Wiesel’s account while her speech started. It sounded inside his skull, relayed to every person in the building

----

“Today is the Centennial of Advent Day. To Americans, it was the day we proved ourselves as the greatest nation on Earth. To the world’s sick, it was the day all humankind defeated disease. For the hungry, there was food. For myself and many others, we created the Fountain of Youth. The gift of nanotechnology, given freely, to all lands, all peoples.

“But to our enemies it has not been a plow, but a sword. Wounds heal, limbs regrow. We remember the scouring of Asia, a single monstrous kill-off of all dissenting groups in search of so-called Chinese unification. The South American War. The Russo-Muslim-African wars, and subsequent loss of Eastern Europe to the African Hegemony. All of the bodies burned and generations of immortals murdered.

“Today, we change the world again. Our coalition with Canada has terraformed the Northern icecap and we are ready for the next giant leap. My fellow Americans, we are going to Mars!” She paused and beamed out at the team she’d worked with over the past thirty years. The sound of applause swept through her, cleansing and restful like her shower from that morning, and for a moment she closed her eyes. In that moment, she saw Juan in the elevator when his smile failed and felt a shock of cold. She clicked her teeth, turning off the feed, and whispered to an aid. “Check communications.”

----

Juan found the terraforming data, all of the mission plans and schematics. He had stolen Celia’s credentials weeks ago and traded two shifts to rotate into communications on Advent Day. The Secretary of Defense looked young, but she thought old and still wrote her password down on a piece of paper underneath the keyboard. Her words broke over him, purging the guilt he harbored for betraying the government he loved, because he knew what came next. He readied the files to transmit, a copy for every country.

“Today is also the day we launch Project Patriot. I want to thank all of you for contributing over the years. With the enemy at our gates, we too must become a sword – for the righteous! Today, the English-speaking peoples of the world unite as one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Through your efforts, we have keyed existing nanotech to determine anyone who speaks English as their native language – every accent, every dialect – and wipe out the rest. As one people, we shall travel to the stars, a universe united!”

It had to be her login, the architect of modern nanotech. She was the only one with access to delete all of the research, all of the programs to start the killing: the files on every server and backup, then overwrite them so many times the data would never be recovered. The door opened, but not before he sent the terraforming files, freed every country from the bondage of a single planet, and deleted the rest. He did it for his great-grandparents, who came to America for a better life. Juan believed today would be the day he would die, but all humanity would live.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





A Sound Like Distant Thunder (800 words)

The Nevada desert at dawn was a deceiving thing. Joseph stared down the blazing strip of blacktop at Camp Mercury, the tight mass of tents and Quonset huts wobbling in the heat. They were a dozen miles away, at least, but it the desert made everything look close enough to walk to.

They waited in the trucks, percolating in their own sweat while the useless air conditioners rattled and wheezed. Nobody knew quite what to expect. Someone tried to start up a cadence, but after a few seconds Charlie Powell asked him would he kindly shut the gently caress up. Usually that would have started a fight, but people felt sorry for Charlie after the letter. When he read it he sat down and went real quiet and everyone knew what that meant.

Joseph thought he was lucky, in a way. Most of the time it wasn’t clean: letters just came less and less, then not at all. But nobody ever really gave up. They carried hope like a millstone around their necks.

Joseph peeled his back away from the vinyl bench and fished the diamond ring out of his breast pocket. He turned it in his palm, studying it like an insect trapped in amber. He slipped it over the tip of his ring finger, but it wouldn’t go any farther than that.

When he looked up again Charlie was watching him, biting his lip like he planned to say something. Joseph thought about explaining. About coming home to a dark apartment, how she’d scooped out every trace of herself except for the stale smell of her cigarettes. Not even a note. But Charlie just looked away and pretended that he hadn’t seen anything.

***

When the order came they poured out of the trucks and formed up in lines as their names were called off. The asphalt was sticky and sucked at their boots. Drivers circled each truck, opening all the windows and folding the windshields down. Joseph felt fingers of sweat racing down the ladder of his ribs. When at last everyone was accounted for, they were herded off to the observation point.

They sat cross-legged in the sunbaked dirt and guzzled from canteens while the major briefed them over the public address system. His voice was muffled and tinny, so that Joseph had to strain to make out what he was saying. He asked everyone to take out their maps and locate the road junction that marked ground zero. Some of the men shielded their eyes and squinted out into the desert, trying to spot the road.

Even if it were visible from seven miles away, Joseph would not have seen it. His mind was somewhere else, somewhere before he picked up the ring he’d saved three months for from the carpet and put it in his shirt pocket.

The PA squawked again, shaking him out of his thoughts. The major announced that the bomber was making a final wind run. Joseph craned his neck to see the B-50 circling overhead, its polished underbelly flashing like sunlight through a shard of glass.

The seconds were being counted down. Joseph felt sour bile rising up from his stomach and forced himself to swallow it. Behind him, someone was praying. Joseph reached into his pocket to feel the ring. To make sure it was still there.

A voice over the loudspeaker: Bomb away. Then everything turned white.

At first Joseph thought he’d gone deaf. He looked up at the boiling column of smoke, the billows folding over on themselves like dough in mixing bowl. An enormous ball of fire hung at the center of it, so bright that it erased shadows and made the distant mountains look flat and unreal, like a child’s drawing.

A wall of dust stalked across the desert floor. The sound and the pressure hit them all at once. The dust stung Joseph’s eyes, whipping across his skin and caking in his sweat. The ground buckled and swayed like a heaving sea and he felt the force of it travel up through his boots, along the lengths of his shinbones. For a brief moment the walls they’d built around themselves gave way. The man next to him reached over and squeezed his hand, hard, and Joseph squeezed back. Behind them the trucks pitched and settled.

There was a sound like distant thunder rumbling across the mountains, then uneasy silence. The air was still and no one spoke. Finally Charlie Powell said that if they were still looking for ground zero, he was pretty sure he’d just found it, and laughter broke out, spreading outward like an aftershock, because they didn’t know what else to do. There wasn’t a need for words. They’d all come through something together, and that was enough.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







Little Ants
1258 words (+95 received from word bounty)

Ordrid used his great hands as spades, churning the earth, aerating soil that was still stiff from the last late spring frosts. It was some time before he noticed the prickling at the nape of his neck.

“Come out,” he rumbled, without looking away from his garden. “Show yourself, or get off of my land.”

There was no sound except for that of the mountain wind chattering endlessly with the trees. Groaning, Ordrid stood, his great old knees cracking and popping like falling logs, and turned to regard the treeline at the edge of his homestead.

Four tiny faces peered out from the wood. Human children, he guessed, though they were almost small enough to be fairy folk. Three boys clustered behind one girl, who stood tall even as her chin dimpled and her lip quivered.

“Go back to your hive, little ants, and lead none of your kinsfolk here,” Ordrid said.

The small girl looked up at him fiercely, tears welling in her eyes.

“Braaaaaaaahr!” Ordrid roared. The force of his breath excited the great mountain wind itself, and the sunny day was soon sullen with clouds. The ancient fir trees hissed and moaned and dropped needles on the children.

The tiny boys were the first to bolt, disappearing into the darkness under the canopy as soon as the trees started to rock back and forth.

The little girl stayed for a beat longer, bared her teeth at Ordrid. He feinted a charge in her direction, and she was gone.


That night, Ordrid lay on his pallet watching the slow shift of the moon’s light through the gaps in his thatched roof. The wolves bayed again.

Their tone was jubilant. Ordrid imagined them feasting on a fat buck, and not four little two-legged meals, though the humans had only had half day’s light to travel by. They would still be well within the wolve’s territory.

Ordrid sat up on his pallet. He reached for his smock and trousers.

Ordrid knew the alpine forests. He strode into the blacker-than-black beneath the trees, sniffing. Dead branches broke off against his massive shoulders; he made no effort to hide his coming. The wolves would have scattered by the time he arrived, but whether there would be much left of the little ones…

He came to a small clearing that still smelled of cookfire smoke. Star and moonlight looked coldly down on the remains of a pathetic fire and scattered, glistening bits of meat. Ordrid was frozen where he stood. Why had he come out into the night when he knew there would only be carnage?

Da,” a small voice whimpered from high up in a tree. It was quickly hushed.

Ordrid lumbered over to the tree, so that he was eye to watery eyes with the four children. He looked back down at the remains on the ground. It was far too much meat to be children, he realized. Most likely it’d been an adult and a horse.

“Why’re you so far from your hive, little ants?” he asked, as gently as his mountainous voice would allow.

There was a beat of silence, then, “Da said Warleader Okjav died in the pass and his men can’t keep the Turtons out from the valley so we ran away.” It was the small girl. She crept further out onto the gnarled branch, toward Ordrid’s nose. “Da said we need to go to Kakrivjek, warn him that the Turton’s are coming and a bunch of us went but the Turtons caught us on horses and hurt da.”

The litany of unfamiliar names rattled around in Ordrid’s mind like pebbles.

“Da said he heard of a magic man in the mountains, and he was hurt, so we thought….”

Ordrid tossed his tangled beard. “I’m no magic man of the mountains, but I do make a tasty mushroom stew. Come. The innocent have no place getting mixed up in man’s folly.”

He held out his arms, each of them as thick as a horse’s torso, toward the children. The small boys looked to their sister; she nodded. All four children clammered down over Ordrid’s wrists.

Back in the high-roofed cabin, he set the children down on his table.

“When are we gonna be home?” whined one of the little boys.

“Your home is a fool’s nest,” Ordrid said. “You’re to stay here with me, learn the way of rock and wind. Then when yer wised up, you can go teach your kind the ill of their ways.”

Shouts sounded, easily heard as the wolves’ baying. Men had found the body. Was it the children’s kinfolk? Or the Turtons? There was hostility in their voices, though Ordrid couldn’t make out their words. All thoughts of educating the little ones erased themselves. Ordrid could only think of protecting his home.

“Quickly, little ants! Do you know those voices?” he said. The mushroom stew burbled in the cookpot.

“I don’t know,” the little girl said, looking at her hands.

Cursing, Ordrid charged outside, making for his gardening tools. They would have to suffice as weapons.

Torchlight and voices filled the wood around his home.

“Ay, giant!” a voice called from the perimeter of the wood. “You come fight for us, you won’t have to taste our spears and arrows.”

“I fight for nothing but my home,” Ordrid growled.

“Then we’ll fill you with arrows and raid your storerooms,” the leader of the men replied, stepping out of the shadows. His folk were edging in around Ordrid, bows drawn and spears raised.

“Uncle Brask!” The girl was standing in the doorway, small arms stretched out toward the leader of the men. In two massive steps, Ordrid was on her, scooping her up in his arms.

“She’s your kin, is she?” Holding the girl in the crook of one elbow, Ordrid gripped her head and neck roughly with his other hand. The mountain wind was silent. “And is this fighting you want me to do, is it worth watching me rip her little head off?”

There was muttering in the ranks, then, “Yes.” Brask took one step toward Ordrid. “We counted her among the dead already. She has been mourned.”

Ordrid felt the warmth of the girl in his arms, felt her trembling like a fawn. Beads of sweat gathered in the deep divot above his upper lip. No. He wouldn’t harm this girl, much as he wished it was so simple to make the men go away.

He whirled around and ducked into the house. Thock, thock, thock. Arrows hit the outside wall.

“You’ve no reason to claim kinship with low beasts like those,” growled Ordrid. He set the girl on the table, kicked aside a massive bearskin rug. Underneath was a trapdoor made of pure, dull iron. The giant pulled at it until the veins in his neck stood out and the muscles in his arms spasmed in protest.

An arrow whizzed through the door, past the giant’s shoulder. There was the crackle of burning thatch above.

At last the iron trapdoor lifted on its hinges. The yeasty smell of potatoes and moist soil coiled out of the opening.

“In with you!” Embers were falling around them by then. With one last fearful look toward the door, the children scrambled down into the cool embrace of the earthen cave. The trapdoor slammed down behind them.

Ordrid shook ashes out of his hair, and with a roar that rattled the sky, charged into the night, to show the men the folly of their war-making.

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Places Between (1200 words + 87 words from first word bounty + 99 words from second bounty + 154 words from wordprize = 1540 words)

Only one platoon was sent to Korreskine. Those two dozen lucky men tramped into the bombed-out town, joking as if they were on leave. They would search the place for munitions, then await new orders. And if they should find a few barrels of wine or sacks of coin in some undamaged cellar? Then that was their just reward.

Their captain had slung his jacket over his shoulder. The midsummer sunshine warmed him through to the soul. The men he had shot and shattered now seemed to have lived in another world, a world of blood and rainwater. Every man of the platoon agreed: the dead were dead, and not to be dwelt upon.

Korreskine was a mass of teetering buildings and piles of rubble. Protruding from one such pile, just outside of the town square, was a woman's grub-white hand. The soldiers hardly glanced at it: they had seen far grimmer sights. Yet when it feebly waved its fingers, it caught the captain’s eye. He halted his men and padded into the wreckage.

“She’s alive, and the Devil knows how,” the captain said. “But she’ll be dead by morning.”

He twisted a golden ring from the hand’s fourth finger. He dropped it into his pocket. He would not have killed a woman, even one of the enemy. But if one should die to their bombs? Then he would shed no tears.

The hand clenched, weakly, into a fist.

They camped in what had been the town square. Although the wind howled through the leafless trees, the men slept soundly. The captain lay awake for some long minutes, listening to their contented snores, before slipping into a dreamless sleep himself.

They woke to the sound of singing.

The sound plucked a thread of uneasiness in the captain's heart. When the soldiers discovered its source, he understood. The woman had cleared the rubble to her waist. She must have worked the whole night through. What was now exposed was so battered that it barely looked human. She babbled something angry in her sibilant tongue. No one understood.

The men muttered to each other. The woman had a bold spirit, for one of the enemy. The rest of her kind had fled the bombing like rats, dragging their filthy cows and their dung-smeared children. They blanched at leaving her to die, so the captain got to his knees and peered into the hole she had cleared.

"Looks like the roof fell on her," he said. "We'd have to cut off her legs to get her out. Either way, she’ll be dead by nightfall.”

She hissed at them as they turned and left.

She did not die.

At first the soldiers spat at her when they passed. She answered them only with her sullen, swollen-eyed gaze. Her skin grew cracked and burnt, and a smell of rot began to rise from the place where she lay. Each night they said that surely she must be dead by morning. But each morning, they woke to the woman’s singing.

They found it harder and harder to meet her eyes. No matter how stealthily they walked, and no matter how limply the woman lay on the rocks, each time they passed she woke and stared. Sometimes, she spoke. They came to avoid the street where her house had been, and where she now lay, half crushed.

Within days, they no longer slept soundly. They began to hear the woman's singing in their dreams. At first, they spoke of her often: "Disgusting," they said. "Like a dying animal." Yet soon enough, when any man mentioned her, the others looked down at their boots. With time, no one mentioned her at all. Instead they spoke of their orders, which still had not come. They began to torment the captain with questions. When would they be sent to the front? Had they been forgotten?

Around the fire one night, unable to watch his soldiers mutter any longer, the captain proposed that the woman be shot.

In the light of day, they went to her with their guns. But she shrieked and whimpered so piteously that no man could kill her with his fellows watching. The very sun seemed to accuse them. No one among them could put the woman down like a rabid dog: not as long as she still clung desperately to life. The captain shouldered his men aside and stood before her with his shotgun, but he too had to turn away. "It doesn't matter," he said. "A quick death is better than her kind deserves."

The soldiers said nothing.

"Do you agree?" he said, narrowing his eyes.

"Aye," said a few of them, quietly.

They had combed every building in town. Now they took to drinking the barrels of homemade wine from Korreskine's cellars. The stuff was strong and sour, as was the custom in those parts, and it gave every man who drank it a foul temper. At night they played cards in the furthest corner of camp, where the woman could only be heard when the wind ceased. The captain stared into the fire, hoping the light would burn the uneasiness from his mind. It did not.

"Why is she still alive?" he said to no one.

A soldier called his bet, in a voice a little too loud for the stillness.

The captain repeated himself. "Why is she still alive? I don't understand. How could she survive for so long?"

Another soldier started to list the contents of his hand, but fell silent halfway. Heads began to turn towards the captain.

"You heard me," he said, standing. "drat her injuries. How could she live two weeks without water, in this heat? How?" An idea began to scurry up the captain's spine. He set his gaze on the youngest soldier. "Have you been bringing her water, Private?"

The young man shook his head.

"Or was it you?" he said, pointing to one at random. "Or you? By God," he slurred, "one of you is a traitor, and I'll see him court-martialed when we got home. I'll see every last one of you rot in jail, if I have to. Or I'll kill you with my own hands."

A man pitched forward from the soldiers' ranks - grabbed the captain by the throat - and threw him to the ground.

In a moment the other men fell on each other. The captain found himself scrabbling in the dirt, choking on embers and smoke from the fire. His soldiers threw punches, screamed like wild beasts, grappled on the ground like dogs. The toe of someone's boot hit the captain's kidney and he shot upright, tasting blood. "Enough!" he screamed, forcing his way to his feet. "Enough!" The soldiers swarmed around him like a single creature. "Listen. Our war isn’t with each other.”

A soldier heard him. “Aye,” the man said. “And we all know who it is with, don’t we?”

“Aye,” came the chorus. The men released each other’s throats and staggered to their feet.

The mass of them stumbled and tripped and dragged one another along, down the pitch-dark street to the crushed woman's house.

She woke as they arrived, and began to sing, hoarsely. They circled warily around her in the dark. The smell of gangrene clotted in their nostrils.

"Stop singing," said the captain. His own words reached him as if through a layer of mud. "Stop singing, God drat you."

The woman did not, or would not, understand. She only continued to sing, in her ruined voice. He could not see her, but he knew that she was staring.

His boot hit her jaw with a crunch.

They beat the woman's head and torso with their fists, and with their boots, and with rocks they snatched from the ground. Even when she ceased to whimper, they continued to beat her. They beat her until her head was dented and bones showed through her skin. The woman, crushed and mangled, lay in a dark pool of blood. All was hushed in Korreskine.

"Good riddance," said one soldier. Another spat on the body. "It's been driving me half mad, listening to her," he slurred. Arms around each others' shoulders, they wobbled their way back to the camp. A few of them took up the chorus of an old drinking song.

The captain could have followed them into that drunken oblivion. He imagined a good night’s sleep, and wine and sunlight to scour the woman from memory. Yet he did not turn towards the camp. Instead, he sat on the rubble, holding his bleary head in his hands.

He slid the woman’s golden ring over the chain of his dog tags, then returned them to their place around his neck. He turned from her body and began to walk: down the street, out of the town, and into the warm, dry darkness. He would go until he found the front, and whatever awaited him there, he would embrace it. Whether life or death met him there, it would be a kinder thing than the limbo of Korreskine. That much he would remember.

In the center of town, the drunken platoon slept soundly, for the first time in weeks.

They woke to the sound of singing.

PootieTang
Aug 2, 2011

by XyloJW


All Loud On The Western Front
(1128 words)

The ruins stretched for thousands of miles, and the city was lit only by the many flares and flashes of rail-gun fire within it's smoking corpse.

"The enemy have been relentless, the position was almost over-run two hours ago and it's been hanging by a thread, we can't spare any other men, so you'll be going it alone. Besides, the more dire need is ammo" The Major reached down and patted the metal of the ammo case O'Malley was holding. "So once you distribute this among the soldiers find Sergeant McKinley and report to him. And remember, DON'T get shot until AFTER you distribute the ammo." The Major then saluted O'Malley, and the APC doors opened.

O'Malley leaped out, the sound of gunfire and explosions overwhelming after the dull groan of the APC's engines. He focused on running, ignoring the weight of the two ammo cases in his hands. It was a long run to the engagement area, but no shells or stray shots seemed to land near him as he sprinted, though the sounds were unmistakably close.

As O'Malley rounded another corner he heard the sound of a shell landing beside him, and leapt to the ground. His ears were ringing, and for a moment he thought he might be dead, until he finally lifted himself from the ground, to see a loose arrangement of cheering soldiers. He was totally unharmed, and as he turned to where he heard the shell fall he saw a small radio. The design was unrecognisable, a mess of cogs and chips with two make-shift speakers attached. He turned from it, and looked towards the soldiers.

By their uniform he knew they were friendly, but none of them were holding weapons.

O'Malley approached them, and as he finally neared the sound changed instantly. One second the roar and echo of a battlefield, the next the sound of rap music and conversation. At least twenty soldiers were there, clustered in small groups, all of them downwind of a smoking pit.

"Where is Sergeant McKinley?" O'Malley called out. "...And is that Marijuana?"

A hand was raised in one of the groups, and an grey haired bearded man stepped forward. His rank clearly designated on his uniform. "I'm McKinley." He said. "Are you the resupply guy?"

O'Malley continued to search the area, unsure of where to take cover. "Where is enemy?" He asked finally.

"Over here-" McKinley said, leading him away from the soldiers. As they walked McKinley took the ammo boxes, and O'Malley noted the distinct clumsiness of his movements, the slow drone of his speech, and the bloodshot redness of his eyes. As O'Malley turned to speak, the sound changed once more, returning the gunfire and roaring explosions of a battlefield, startling him back into silence. Eventually they approached a single soldier, firing at a row of half-destroyed buildings. As the soldier saw them approach he lowered his rifle.

"Sarge!" He called out. "My shift done already?"

O'Malley shook his head. "What's going on?" He said, his voice breaking as he spoke.

The soldier did not seem phased. "We're fighting the enemy." He said. And then O'Malley noticed that all noise of gunfire had ceased, not simply one rifle among the many he had heard.

"It's the shape of the ruins. There's an acoustic dead spot, just the way we came." Sergeant McKinley said. "It's completely insulated from all the sound in the surrounding area, and those buildings where he was just shooting?" He said, pointing towards the soldier and the horizon beyond. "Fire one bullet into those and the noise will echo for miles, compounding on itself and making the noise of an entire fire-fight" The sergeant then turned to O'Malley. "Did you bring any food?"

"There's no-one there?" O'Malley said.

"No people, but we officially declared war on those rocks a few days ago. It's been a hard fought battle ever since."

O'Malley's eyes widened. "You're insane!" He said, backing away from them. McKinley grabbed him before he could turn and run.

"No, no, no... Command gave us incorrect directions, instead of sending us after an enemy position..."

"They sent us to attack some empty buildings." The soldier interjected. "So I say gently caress it, I'll follow orders if it means I just have to stand around and shoot rocks all day. Rocks don't shoot back."

McKinley dropped the ammo boxes at the soldiers feet. "'We say gently caress it. Then Williams built some radios out of scrap metal and our GPS devices, we planted them in key areas and there you have it, instant fake battlefield, and officially the cosiest job on the western front."

"He also found the pot too, poo poo was growing wild. And I mean Hendrix wild!" The soldier added.

O'Malley paused for a moment. "But that doesn't make any sense." He said.

McKinley waved his hand, and then began to walk O'Malley back towards the fire pit. "I'm sorry son, are you an acoustic engineer?"

"No, I mean you're a soldier, you should be fighting the enemy, not shooting at rocks."

"I was drafted, I'm about as much a soldier as those rocks are my enemy. Besides, we're all high now, it would be irresponsible to enter a combat situation with inebriated troops."

"But- but we have to fight the enemy." O'Malley turned from the smoke, not flinching when the sound returned to the blare of rap music. "What about the casualties? The men who died after being sent here-"

"Men who realized too late that they should have dodged the draft when they had the chance. I bet by now some of them might even be home, enjoying the benefits of a glorious death in battle." McKinley said.

"You're disobeying orders."

"I'm obeying them, now what were your orders?"

"I..." O'Malley looked down at his empty hands. "I'm to report to you."

"Alright O'Malley, my orders are for you to get high as hell, and think about what would have actually happened if you had ran into the middle of an actual battlefield with no gun and two boxes of ammo."

"But... We have to fight the enemy?" O'Malley repeated, suddenly feeling hungry.

"What enemy do you have? What's his name? What did he do to you?" McKinley sighed.

"I know who my enemy is, some rear end-hole in a suit who told me I had to join the army, that by living on his land I had the duty to go kill some other rear end-hole who probably got drafted the same way. I think he's your enemy too my friend."

McKinley turned to the soldiers, one of whom had started break-dancing. "And we are kicking his rear end already."

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha
T O P



Sarajevo, 1914
759 Words

The Archduke’s carriage turned off the boulevard and onto the narrow sidewalk before Joshua could stop it. A young man emerged from a nearby restaurant, eyes wild, pistol drawn. Gunshots could be heard over the crowd’s screams, followed by meaty thuds as the bullets met their targets. Patrons fled. The car accelerated. Its passengers leaking blood onto the cobbled street.

“gently caress.” Time grinded backwards five minutes.

Joshua passed himself on the boulevard and entered a restaurant filled with smiling patrons and the smell of Bosnian cuisine. As the Archduke’s motorcade pulled onto the narrow sidewalk, Joshua fired two bullets into the would-be assassin’s head and left, ignoring the screams behind him. At the sound of gunfire, the Archduke’s driver rammed his foot to the gas pedal. The carriage's wheels spun in place before jettisoning forward. The Archduke twisted in his seat, staring slack-jawed at his protector. Joshua was certain the motorcade would escape when a second assassin jumped from the alley, bomb tied to his torso. He had enough time to cover his face before the boulevard was wreathed in flames. The carriage was reduced to a twisted metal carcass, smoke billowing from its top. Gas leaked out onto the cobbled street.

“gently caress!”

Joshua crossed the boulevard, passing the first Joshua and almost running into the second. The Archduke’s motorcade slowed to a stop along the sidewalk. Gunshots erupted from the small cafe and Joshua leapt out firing wildly into the alleyway. He heard a muffled groan and the new assassin collapsed, blood spilling out from between his fingers. The Archduke’s carriage rocketed past, only for a parade of anarchists to overtake the carriage. The Archduke screamed and the mob descended, tearing him apart like vultures. Thick mounds of flesh fell onto the cobbled street.

“GOD loving drat IT,” Joshua screamed a few blocks away, rewinding his watch to match the new time. Five minutes remained. The street corner was filled with Joshuas, all doing the same. One looked up at him.

“You want to talk about it?” Asked the other Joshua, confused and flecked with blood. His head throbbed. The same sequence of events stretched out infinitely in his memory.

“No, I don’t want to loving talk about it,” he said. It was impossible to say how long he had been along this same stretch of road, talking to this same group, trying to accomplish the same goal. He felt like he was looking through a hall of mirrors.

His replica shrugged, “So long as you’re still committed to the mission. If you have any problems, you know where to find us.”

Joshua groaned. An eternity ago, he had agreed to fix what had gone wrong, to undo one of history’s greatest cruelties. Shots broke out. Joshua shuffled along the street.

Boulevard. Restaurant. Alleyway. Gunfire. Parade. A herd of wild buffalo destroyed the motorcade. Joshua’s head pounded as the past caught up with the present, trying to justify the herd’s presence in the city. Names and places that never existed filled his brain. Time, with its terrible stubbornness, resisted his every move. It liked to hoard its victims. This moment was too massive, too important. By saving one life, Joshua could save forty million. History would change anything to ensure this moment came to fruition.

A helicopter swooped down over the city and opened fire upon the Archduke’s carriage. The Austro-Hungarian Empire ruled eternal over Europe, its engineers having discovered atomic energy three centuries ago. Anarcho-Hungarians marched onto the boulevard, slaughtered by rogue earthquakes and vicious Habsburg loyalists. The Archduke commanded an electronic chariot pulled by a dozen buffalo until a street corner leapt out and sliced him in half. The anarchists had devised a new method of warfare. History crumbled under the weight of a thousand anachronisms.

The world blurred in and out of focus. Then, everything stopped. Darkness consumed him.

----

“gently caress.”

Joshua watched as the Archduke’s carriage turned off the boulevard and onto the narrow sidewalk. Joshua shouted, eyes wild, pistol drawn. There were screams, but the carriage accelerated away before he could reach it. What had started as a simple attempt to end a man’s life was now a full-blown war between himself and history. Today was too important to change, too significant. Today was the end of the world, and the only way to stop it was to assassinate the Archduke.

Joshua reappeared on a street corner and ran toward the boulevard, passing himself along the way. The motorcade sped off into the distance.

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


Muddy 941 words.

Wind was the only resistance, the cool sting of sharp air her only foe. The only music her broken Walkman could play was country crickets, and the harvest moon was the only light in her eyes. Waves of corn rustled in the breeze. Twenty miles defeated, and only one more left before her heavy eyelids won. The sides of the road transitioned from farm to famine, night hued greens had turned to grays. Her scooter zipped past Turtle Pond and then the wooden gates of the dock. A jerk of the elbow moved her right around the corner, the smokehouse was now behind her. It was two more minutes to Wakefield Outpost.

The bulky vehicle spat out a mechanical wheeze when it slowed. She kicked down the stand and stepped up to the outpost. Prominent white knuckles knocked a peculiar beat at the door.

“When the Ock strikes thirteen, just lemme in Rudolph, only two people visit this dumpster!”

There was a set of clicks, the door pushed open.

“What’s up, New Bay?” Rudolph took his hand off the gun in his belt. “Mail’s in back, how long you here for?”

“Enough with that dumb nickname already, call me Bailey, for gently caress’s sake. And probably four hours, need a nap, did runs up Dustbank all afternoon. You of all people should know help’s short and everyone’s gotta do their part,” Bailey kept her weight on her right leg.

“Even you! Got a mailwoman that can’t even walk. C’mon in Bailey,” he stepped away from the entrance and extended his hand to offer all of what was inside. A table, some chairs, a sink, and a hot plate.

“Oh gently caress off, I can walk, I just can’t fight,” she limped inside.

“Everyone can fight, even if it’s with a scooter. Least your brother’s got enough working limbs for the front lines,” Rudolph sat down in front of a small bowl of yellow mush that sat lonely on the table. “Grits?”

“Nah, I ate at the station, not hungry. And to hell with my stupid brother, shoulda sent me in his place anyway. Kid was still pissing his sheets till just five years ago. Hell, I was the one saving his rear end from getting beat in high school,” Bailey laughed. She closed and fastened all three locks at the door. Uneven steps were made over to the sink before she turned the water on. Her helmet was pulled off as Ice cold tap dribbled out. Bailey cupped her hands underneath and got enough of a puddle to drink from. She cupped again and used a little splash to rinse her face.

Her bed was made of the wooden floor, her jacket, and crossed arms beneath her head. Sounds of drizzle started, the windows flashed white, and crackling came from miles away. “Night, Rudolph.”

“Night, Bailey.”

***

Bailey woke to the sound of thunder. She stretched her arms and crawled to a right leaning stand. A bowl of cold grits remained in Rudolph’s absence. The food was runny and flavorless, but breakfast at the station wasn’t for another few hours. Aside it was a note.

Hey Bailey,

Quit skipping your meals.

-Rudolph


Bailey smiled with a spoon in her mouth.

She moved outside to the shed with the box in her hands and her helmet on. The box placed in the scooter basket, she gave it a good slap for good luck. With her jacket zipped as snug as it would get, she hopped on the scooter, kicked the stand, and turned the key.

Careful treading was necessary through slop that was once dirt. Overworked tires slung mud as she struggled toward pavement. The scent of smoked fish caused her half empty stomach to growl as she turned the corner.

She noticed the sign to Turtle Pond, and as her head returned to the full front, Bailey caught glimpse of something greenish brown.

It moved.

She jerked her scooter right and started to skid on wet road. Her front wheel rolled off pavement and hit mud, her back wheel threw itself aside. She let go of the gas, but the weight of the front dragged her down the steep hill. She stepped off the slow moving vehicle and tried to hold it still. The sudden jerk caused the scooter to stop, but the box flew forward and bounced twice. It landed in the flooded pond.

Bailey kept weight on her right heel as she stomped and slid down the steep hill.

“gently caress,” Bailey was knee deep in water while she picked the floating papers out one by one. Water caused the paper to stick together and the ink to run. The rain battered envelopes as she stuffed them into the uncovered box. Bailey salvaged what she could, whatever was in arm’s reach. She waded into deeper water to grab the last few remaining letters. Her pants were soaked to the thigh.

The last one, a soaked card, was made out to Bailey Walters. She stuffed it in her jacket pocket. Bailey struggled to limp the water logged box up a less muddy part of the hill. Bailey dumped the water, separated the papers as best she could, and then threw the tarp back over the box. Her jacket hiked up and her shoulders arched forward to guard the envelope in her pocket from the heavens. Her thumbs and forefingers, caked with mud, peeled it open. The hint of sunlight, curtained by clouds, offered her just enough to read what few words remained legible.

My dear Ms. Walters,

Please accept my most personal regards and deepest sympathies on the recent…


The rest was a blur.

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

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






Till Death Do Us Part, You First
Words: 474

“I have to say, Mrs. Ock,” said Jeff Bernstein, of Bernstein & Bernstein, “Your requests are getting quite ridiculous. All the power cables in the house, all the tires and windows from a car, all the shelves from the dressers; There’s no way a judge would grant this stuff.”

I don’t give a gently caress, Janus thought. She also thought about headbutting that Jewish lawyer right in his huge loving nose and she would have, if it wasn’t for her soon to be ex-husband and his black lawyer entering the conference room.

The black lawyer slammed both fists on the table and spoke, his angry black man eyes boring into everyone present. “Listen up, you motherfuckers. This isn’t even about getting paid anymore. I’ve literally done nothing but this case. I swear on sweet baby Jesus, I think I’ve forgotten how to lawyer because of the two of you sucking up all of my time with your bullshit.”

Janus huffed indignantly. “Well if a certain someone would just give me what I asked for, then we wouldn’t be in the situation, now would we?”

That certain someone stood turgid in defiance. The arteries in his neck and forehead were distended - engorged with hot blood. “...,” he said silently. There was power in his stoic gaze and everyone in the room couldn’t help but respect him for it.

“I can’t take it anymore!” Janus shouted. “I once loved you, but you let our marriage fall apart because you never talk to me!”

Mr. Ock gripped the table and in a needless display of violence, flipped it.

“I’ll wait outside,” said Jeff Bernstein with a hint of depression. “Once you two are done, I’ll come back and collect my things.”

The black lawyer shook his head. “No, we’re not doing this again.” He grabbed Mr. Ock by the shoulder in an attempt to pull him away from his wife.

Mr. Ock did turn, his pants tight and near bursting at the zipper. Black Lawyer saw the lust in his eyes. Untamed and unbridled. He saw his career in shambles in those eyes. No one would hire a lawyer whose first and only case was a fifteen year deadlocked divorce case. He turned his head and looked out the window. He lifted it open and without thinking twice, hopped out to his death.

Mr. and Mrs. Ock stared each other down. They couldn’t be bothered by a black man committing suicide. That had issues they needed to work out.

“Give me what I want, Ted,” said Janus, holding her ground against the tidal wave of his will.

Mr. Ock opened his mouth and foam frothed out. “O-ock,” he said. “Ock ock.”

“You do still love me!” said Janus.

And they lived happily ever after until the lawyers were called in again the next week. So, it wasn’t really forever.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Husband-hunting in wartime
1333 words

Laetitia Stampforth slammed the door behind her, flounced carefully to a chaise-longue and hurled herself face-first upon it. “You are a horrible man-stealer and I hate you,” she called over her shoulder.

The door banged open. Laetitia’s sister Eustacia stood in the doorway, framed against the late afternoon light from the East Gallery windows. “It’s a dance, Teesh you silly goose. You dance, I dance, we all dance. If Henry likes you he’ll dance with you. I’ve barely heard from him. He’s probably not even coming!”

Laetitia focused her rage and disdain into a gaze that might have penetrated the four-inch armour plating on the HMS Prince of Wales, were her sister protected by such instead of by her pearl-inlaid Givenchy clutch, and was about to follow it up with a fusillade of precisely-fuzed word munitions when the bell rang for lunch.

Instead she uttered a place-holder ‘hmph!’, bounded up from the chaise and swept past Eustacia.

===

The long table in the ballroom was sparsely-laid these days; Father had had one of his fits after the last doom-laden communiqué from the War Office and all the best silverware had been put into storage. “Just doing our bit, dear girl,” he’d said vaguely when Laetitia had confronted him about it.

Lunch was also a Spartan affair, a couple of hams and some of the left-over potatoes along with gallons of unidentifiable soup-style liquid from the family’s ancient, vast and heraldically ugly soup tureen.

Eustacia was arguing with their older brother Robert, as usual. “Herr Hitler actually has the best intentions for England, if you simply listen to his speeches, you’ll see that!”

Robert was in his uniform, also as usual; Laetitia suspected that he’d been sleeping in it since war was declared, ready to do his duty should the Queen call in the middle of the night. “Stash, they’re in German. I refuse to learn German. It’s a language for shouting at taxi drivers and ghastly singing in beer halls.”

“I think it might be treasonous, too,” Laetitia added helpfully. “Giving comfort to the enemy don’t you think, Bertie?”

Robert gave a thoughtful nod and Eustacia went first white, then red. “I shall finish my lunch in the library, Father. Bertie and Teesh are being beastly.” Their father’s newspaper twitched at the head of the table; she nodded at this tacit affirmation before sweeping out like a ship of the line, plate held before her.

Laetitia shared a brief conspiratorial smile with Robert, who was a sometimes ally in her gruelling campaign against her sister. “Are you coming to the ball?”

“Wasn’t planning to, sis, but Henry wrote to me and asked me to keep him company. Comrades in arms and whatnot so I suppose I had better show fight. Have you met him?”

Laetitia sliced off the tiniest end of her ham and speared it. “We… talked briefly,” she said. The ham suddenly made her stomach turn and she stood up, noticing Eustacia’s clutch as she did. “I’ll take that back to Stash. Say a Mass for me if she bites my head off.”

Robert laughed. “I’ll call up Dr MacAdam on the telephone to come up from the village, I’m sure he has some bitten-head medicine in his little bag.”

The grand hall was cool and cavernous, generations of Stampforth ancestors, regarding each other with well-bred disinterest. Laetitia’s steps slowed, and stopped, in front of a 17th century Duke she’d always liked. He looked, now she came to think of it, like Henry. Henry Wallingford-Smythe: she rolled the syllables silently over her tongue. She’d seen him once from a distance, twice up close, and spoken – well, squeaked – two words at him. How on earth was it possible that he could be so perfect?

Something in her hand scrunched, and she realised she was squeezing Eustacia’s little clutch. And that it was full of paper. Paper. Hm.

Laetitia glanced around, but no one was watching her apart from the assembled worthies. She bit the side of her cheek, muttered ‘sorry,’ then popped the jewelled catch. It was full of folded papers. She teased one out. It was a letter, covered in densely packed writing. She saw the words ‘Dearest Eustacia,” at the top of the sheet.

“Oh, that lying minx,” Laetitia whispered. She stuffed the clutch up her sleeve and walked quickly down the hall to the servant’s closet, empty this time of day. In the dim light from its little window she squinted at the letter. It was from Henry. They were all from Henry. She could feel every inch of the skin on her face tauten and grow hot as she read.

===

“Teesh,” said Eustacia. “You didn’t happen to see my little purse at lunch?”

They were inside the family’s motor car, a huge Duesenberg imported from the United States by a friend of Father’s Walsham was an indifferent driver at the best of times, and was positively alarming when he’d been at the butler’s brandy, but even the swerves and juddering of the machine couldn’t dim Laetitia’s calm, secret joy. She favoured her sister, sitting opposite her on the red leather seat, with a smile.

“Yes, I picked it up and left it in the library for you. Didn’t you see it?”

Eustacia narrowed her eyes.

“No,” she said.

Laetitia shrugged. “I’m sure it will turn up,” she said as the Duesenberg rolled up the gravel outside the manor and a white-gloved footman opened the door. The sky was dark with clouds above, and the air tense with the promise of thunder.

Robert took her arm as they proceeded up the stairs. “If you keep blowing up a balloon then it bursts, you know. Dreadfully noisy affair, and completely irreversible.”

The great doors opened in front of them and pulled them into the sparkle of the ball. The negro band was playing “Accentuate the Positive” and the hall was full of men in uniforms and women in gowns, swirling and rotating like the spokes of a hundred different wheels. Laetitia shrugged. “Even a phoney war needs the occasional bang, don’t you think?” She saw Henry across the room, talking to a dowager. “Would you excuse me, brother dear?”

She snagged a glass of champagne from a silver tray and sipped at it. Henry was holding forth in his cut-glass tones. She admired his fine, firm jaw and precise moustache as he spoke. “… so there I was, with the jolly Colonel waiting to hear where I thought we should look for these infiltrators, when a telegram comes in from the Duke of Windsor inviting me to a garden party! Quite the embarrassment, I don’t mind saying!”

Just then a passing countess swept down on the dowager and Henry surrendered her with a smile. Laetitia extended her hand to Henry. “Hello; I hope you don’t mind if I intrude. We talked some weeks back at the Huntingdon party? I … found something you might be interested in.” She leaned over and whispered in his ear.

An observer at this point might have noted a clenching of his jaw, a whitening of his skin, and gulping at Henry’s throat. And that same observer might have diagnosed a forced quality to the smile he gave Laetitia, and to the arm he offered her before escorting her to the dance floor.

But our observer, hovering above the fray like a helium balloon or a chandelier, would have seen nothing but unfeigned serene joy in Laetitia’s face and the most clotted rage in that of her sister.

And if this observer, perhaps possessed of the all-seeing nature of a guardian angel, could have read the letter up Laetita’s sleeve and seen the frank invitation to espionage, treason and betrayal it contained, it might have understood exactly why the handsome young man holding Laetitia in his arms was so compelled to dance, round and round in rhythmic spirals, as the storm clouds above prophesied a dark and roiling tempest to come.

leekster
Jun 20, 2013


crabrock posted:

use google docs; it's a lifesaver.

It better be posted when I wake up in the morning.

Thank you.

Phobia
Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
MIAMI MUTILATOR
and the deranged degenerates who only want their
15 MINUTES OF FAME.


OCK.


Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes, Gentle Smile
(1285 words - out of 1340[1200 word limit + 140 word bounty])

I’ve worked for the English Department at this University for over thirty years, met so many bright and seen my share of graduations. In fact, I'm certain quite a few parents in the audience have taken my courses in the past. The thought of playing part of that sort of inheritance really warms my heart.

I am retiring next year. The fact that my time is coming to an end has made me stop to contemplate. I can remember a time where getting into university was seen as a privilege, not a right. I am sure I don't need to tell you that things were rough in America on the cusp of 1940's. Those attending university were kids who came from well-to-do backgrounds, who had someone to pick them back up when they fell. But, haha, you could say I am an exception to this rule.

Today, I will not expound about the world you will soon be entering. That is knowledge I feel you should learn on your own. No, today I will tell you about how I was accepted into this school.

When I was your age, I wanted to come to this very same school. But then Pearl Harbor happened, and everything changed.

We did not know about the concentration camps. Back then, information was quick but very limited. All we knew was that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were in cahoots with the Germans and the Germans were taking over Europe. We did not go over to Europe because we wanted to be the heroes. It was revenge, pure and simple, and while the people being recruited had little experience, they were hungry for that same vengeance.

I was one of them. Sadly. I was shipped to Normandy around... 1944. It's very hard to remember what month, but it was around Fall. My memory of my training is very vague but I know for a fact that they simply taught us how to fire a gun. That was it. They shipped us out without so much as a pat on the back.

We were ordered to go to Antwerp, in Belgium, where we would be stationed. We would have to walk, and it as the naval forces would run the risk of being blindsided. It took us two weeks to arrive at Antwerp. I was involved in a few skirmishes around that time, nothing like what the movies like to show. I was lucky in those regards, though at the time I did not see it as luck but something much greater.

I ended several lives in that time. Each one was a very long distance away, close enough to shoot down, far enough not to get any on me. While the first one took a lot of nerve on my end, the second came very easily to me. And then the third. And the forth. I did not feel a thing. I did not lose sleep over any of these lives, not at the time. These people were the enemy. The devil incarnate. That's what we told ourselves around the fire. It's what helped us sleep at night, kept us going. Don’t think too hard, just shoot.

We arrived in Belgium just before Germany tried to recapture Antwerp. They call it the Battle of the Bulge. And, unfortunately, my luck had ran out. We arrived right in the thick of it.

The battle lasted for over a month. Many of the soldiers died over that time. Food was running scarce. But that bravado from before was still running through my veins. I was so stupid, so naive. Blood was shed in those woods, staining the snow-covered ground and turning it redish ink. Good men died. And yet my hubris was so strong, it didn’t even phase me. All I cared about was defeating the enemy, fighting for my country.

One night, I got too cocky. I stormed ahead into the trees, planting myself a good few paces from my squadron. My back was up against a fallen tree. The Germans were coming upon us, I could see them in the treeline. My aim was good and I was at a perfect position to pick them off. I took down five or six of them before a bullet tore through my leg.

The pain was so great that I stopped. The gun flew out of my hands but I was so focused on my leg that I...I didn't notice my comrades were retreating. Eventually the German forces started pushing up and, thank god, they didn't notice me sitting there. A few positioned themselves at the same tree I was, but I was so silent they must have thought I was a corpse. Again, I was lucky. But my leg was bleeding and I knew that I would die unless I did something about it. I was about to make a limping break for it when...

...When this young kid passed by. He stopped there in the snow, then he turned to look at me. I knew immediately that he was the enemy. He pulled the gun towards me but he did not fire. I bore down on my lip to stop myself from screaming. I was out of ammo and there was a bullet in my leg. There was no escape. I was going to die.

But he didn't shoot me. He just... lowered the gun, looked around at his comrades in the distance, then brought a finger to his lips. Then he shrugged his bag off his shoulder, unzipped it and... he tried to fix my leg.

He was the enemy. I kept telling myself that. He was the enemy, I had to shoot him. But I didn't do a thing. I just let this complete stranger patch my leg up. He must have been a medic, someone who knew how to take care of bullet wounds. He stopped several times when he heard a set of feet crunching in the snow. Each time he would just put his finger to his lips, and I would just nod.

He smiled once he was finished. This young man looked at me for a moment. He was blond, with blue eyes, like an angel. He looked at me for a very long time, nodded, then left. I never learned his name, he never asked for mine.

One of the Allied soldiers found me and brought me back to camp. I was sent home, never given any medals but received a full scholarship to this University. I graduated with a Bachelors in English, then turned right around and started teaching here a few years later. I have lived a good life. And yet I realize would have happened if it were not for the kindness of a single man. I slayed a dozen other young men, just like me, and did not feel a thing. But that soldier, the one who saved me, I… I still see his face in my sleep.

This was not meant to be a gritty description of what I saw. That would take over a hour, and my time is very brief. Very few of you can imagine what any of this is like, and for that I am happy. You have been given this very same chance without having to kill a single soul. I would not ask that of any of you.

So go out there. Make a name for yourself. Find the love of your life. Live. But do not forget that there are multiple sides to everything. Think critically, never one-sided. Because you have the luxury of not having to carry the weight of a dozen men on your shoulders. I do not.

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


Space OCKpera
1397 words - 1200 + 107 from butterprompt + 100 word bounty from Ironic Twist

Space OCKpera

Volta’s Absolution idled in the darkness of space, cloaked and patient.

Contact estimated at a week away, the ship voiced as First Mate Harrow took his seat at the comms desk. How are you feeling?

Volta’s brain tended toward the conversational. She wasn’t just the central nervous system of the ship. She was chatty.

“Restless,” Harrow admitted. He lounged back in his seat and skimmed the latest intelligence updates: the terrorist convoy they intended to ambush was still due bang on schedule. He swept his finger across the panel, flicking through bad news. The war was much as it had been for months.

Things are tense. The words were drummed directly into his ear by his earpiece, yet it sounded like Volta were a person standing right beside him. He’d taken a while to get used to it, glancing up or sideways whenever he went to address her at first.

“Yeah, tense.” Could an AI even feel tension, or did she just sense the restlessness of her crew?

I’ve been exploring to keep my mind off it. Difficult when you possess as many processing units as I do.

Harrow laughed. “Exploring? Like what?”

Firing probes. The little nets, mostly. I’ve been compiling a database of the makeup of nearby rocks. It isn’t glamorous, but it keeps me occupied.

She made the war less lonely.

--

Harrow?

A gentle ping woke him, and for a moment he groped through the dark, disoriented, seeking the source of the voice.

Harrow, don’t be alarmed. And please don’t speak, you’ll wake the others.

Half-awake, he listened for alarms and heard none. Aside from the sounds of sleep, the officers’ barracks was quiet.

Can you meet me at the Cannons?

“I can’t ‘meet’ you anywhere,” Harrow mumbled. He scrubbed his face with a hand. Above him, his bunkmate snored.

You know what I mean. Please?

He didn’t even know Volta could wake people up save for the advent of some emergency, let alone why she would. But it was probably important. He couldn’t think of anything that would be important enough to wake him for but not worthy of the rest of the crew’s attention. He dressed in the dark then crept out into the hall.

--

The Cannons was the nickname for the Absolution’s secondary bridge, designed to keep the ship functional in the event of catastrophic damage. This meant it was a long walk from his bunk.

The auxiliary bridge was deserted, sweeping walls of panels all dimmed for now. Harrow chose a seat at random and cast an expectant glance up toward the nearest security camera.

Thank you for coming. Volta sounded grateful.

I found something, Harrow. I don’t know what to do.

He was fairly certain none of her usual routines included waking sleeping personnel to ask for advice.

Typically I would relay this information to comms, tactical, and mission command. But if I did that, I would be asking the personnel to defy our stated objective.

“What do you mean?” This was new.

A convoy of mercantile ships have been hijacked. They are being used to transport armaments to a cell of Fringe guerillas. Our mission is to intercept and destroy them. No prisoners.

“Yeah…” Harrow absently thumbed across the display at his seat, reading over the operation protocols even as Volta ‘read’ them to him.

I feel like I can’t trust this information to anyone but you.

Goosebumps prickled up his arms and he couldn’t quite pinpoint why. Could an AI really ‘trust’?

“You can trust me, Volta.” He wasn’t sure what else to say.

One of my probes picked up transmitter scatter from the ships that are approaching us. They are not hijacked merchant vessels.

“What do you mean?”

I thought you might want to see. The results will display on your console. Notice their encryption protocol: it’s government, not civilian. Our government.

Harrow swiped through the input on the screen, eager to see for himself. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe Volta, but what she was saying didn’t make sense. She showed him the logs of several transmissions, highlighting the encryption signatures, then opened another window to compare the results to the Absolution’s signatures directory.

Whatever that flotilla was broadcasting, they were using government channels.

What do I do, Harrow?

“I don’t know what to tell you.” He was stumped. “It’s possible the Fringe have broken our encryption somehow. I’ll bring it to Reyes.”

Possible but mathematically unlikely.

Harrow’s stomach sank as he copied the windows into a message for Captain Reyes on the officers’ channel. The Captain would know what to do.

--

He knew something was wrong the moment he stepped into Captain Reyes’ cabin. His earpiece went dead. He tapped it a few times until Reyes spoke up from his desk:

“That won’t work in here. I’ve got the cladding up.”

“Sir?” Harrow saluted, blinking. “Why?”

Captain Reyes sat at his desk wearing an undershirt, toying with the watch around one thick wrist.

“So we can have a conversation.”

Reyes motioned for Harrow to sit.

“Tell me, First Mate, how is the war going?”

Harrow cleared his throat, “Ah. Well. Our reconnaissance efforts have turned up a lot of useful material. Casualties are down from last month. On the whole, things are not as bad as this time last year…”

“You don’t need to give me the evening news version, Harrow.”

They stared at one another across the desk, silent.

“... The war’s not going great, sir.”

“An honest answer.” Reyes had recessed, heavy eyes. “I read your message, and I appreciate you bringing it to my attention. There must be some mistake.”

Harrow sat up straighter. “But sir, Volta’s not wrong, you can see--”

“Yes, that’s certainly how it looks, but you know that can’t be possible.”

Harrow couldn’t remember how to breathe. Reyes in his undershirt, looking so tired, so calm. Didn’t he understand what might happen? Did he even care?

“Those could be our ships, sir. If this is a mistake, people will die.”

Reyes released a sigh that seemed to deflate him, make him smaller. His voice was quieter than before when he spoke up again: “You didn’t enlist because you’re terrible at following orders. And you couldn’t have been promoted this many times by luck and happenstance.”

“I don’t follow, sir.” But he did. He just didn’t want to admit it.

“Our orders are to intercept and destroy, whether the ship is correct or not.”

--

“He says there must be some mistake. Or the Fringe broke our encryption and are broadcasting on our channels.”

Harrow, what are we going to do? What if Reyes is wrong?
“He says he’ll copy the information back to base,” he lied. Reyes had said no such thing. “And you should keep digging for more information.”

Was it the same as lying to a real person?

At eight hours Estimated Time to Engagement, he took his position at the bridge and found he couldn’t hold eye contact with anyone.

--

At six hours ETE, Volta announced on the officers’ channel:

One of my probes has intercepted a local transmission from the approaching flotilla. They are mining vessels returning from Asteroid 2606 KN7.

Harrow’s tongue felt swollen. He stared down at his console. His throat hurt.

Captain Reyes swiped across his screen and a series of pings announced that the ship was now under manual override. The officers’ channel went silent.

“Sir,” Harrow started, but Reyes cut him off with a look and held his stare, challenging him.

Wordless, Harrow backed down.

--

Two hours ETE, a voice chimed into Harrow’s earpiece:

This channel should reach you. Captain Reyes has made no enquiries toward base. He hasn’t even opened the files you sent him. He knew.

His orders were to intercept and destroy whether Volta was correct or not.

Harrow, you have to do something. Those people will die. This is morally wrong.

With a trembling hand, Harrow pulled the earbud from his ear and set it on his desk.

--

The firefight was swift, terrible, and effective.

--

News of their victory over the Fringe spread like wildfire through United Fleet. It was hailed as a high point a long, dark year. First Mate Harrow scanned the reports in silence.

Yes, he thought. The lying felt the same. It felt like swallowing coals.

No one read to him anymore.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



Well, here is a thing

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ZelGRXnNBAo_ewl-UBjOuxsQpIlW4JzWRs5fq7WIYj8/edit

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002



"You need permission"

DuckyB
Jun 27, 2014

Gentlemen.



Just wanted to quote and repost at deadline because Twist mentioned it wasn't in the archives, and I posted it at an odd time.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


DuckyB posted:

Just wanted to quote and repost at deadline because Twist mentioned it wasn't in the archives, and I posted it at an odd time.

Thanks, I didn't catch it.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


You have 2 minutes left to submit

THAT INCLUDES GIVING ME PERMISSION ON YOUR GOOGLE DOC

Sithsaber
Apr 8, 2014

by Ion Helmet


Phobia posted:

Blonde Hair, Blue Eyes, Gentle Smile
(1285 words - out of 1340[1200 word limit + 140 word bounty])

I’ve worked for the English Department at this University for over thirty years, met so many bright and seen my share of graduations. In fact, I'm certain quite a few parents in the audience have taken my courses in the past. The thought of playing part of that sort of inheritance really warms my heart.

I am retiring next year. The fact that my time is coming to an end has made me stop to contemplate. I can remember a time where getting into university was seen as a privilege, not a right. I am sure I don't need to tell you that things were rough in America on the cusp of 1940's. Those attending university were kids who came from well-to-do backgrounds, who had someone to pick them back up when they fell. But, haha, you could say I am an exception to this rule.

Today, I will not expound about the world you will soon be entering. That is knowledge I feel you should learn on your own. No, today I will tell you about how I was accepted into this school.

When I was your age, I wanted to come to this very same school. But then Pearl Harbor happened, and everything changed.

We did not know about the concentration camps. Back then, information was quick but very limited. All we knew was that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were in cahoots with the Germans and the Germans were taking over Europe. We did not go over to Europe because we wanted to be the heroes. It was revenge, pure and simple, and while the people being recruited had little experience, they were hungry for that same vengeance.

I was one of them. Sadly. I was shipped to Normandy around... 1944. It's very hard to remember what month, but it was around Fall. My memory of my training is very vague but I know for a fact that they simply taught us how to fire a gun. That was it. They shipped us out without so much as a pat on the back.

We were ordered to go to Antwerp, in Belgium, where we would be stationed. We would have to walk, and it as the naval forces would run the risk of being blindsided. It took us two weeks to arrive at Antwerp. I was involved in a few skirmishes around that time, nothing like what the movies like to show. I was lucky in those regards, though at the time I did not see it as luck but something much greater.

I ended several lives in that time. Each one was a very long distance away, close enough to shoot down, far enough not to get any on me. While the first one took a lot of nerve on my end, the second came very easily to me. And then the third. And the forth. I did not feel a thing. I did not lose sleep over any of these lives, not at the time. These people were the enemy. The devil incarnate. That's what we told ourselves around the fire. It's what helped us sleep at night, kept us going. Don’t think too hard, just shoot.

We arrived in Belgium just before Germany tried to recapture Antwerp. They call it the Battle of the Bulge. And, unfortunately, my luck had ran out. We arrived right in the thick of it.

The battle lasted for over a month. Many of the soldiers died over that time. Food was running scarce. But that bravado from before was still running through my veins. I was so stupid, so naive. Blood was shed in those woods, staining the snow-covered ground and turning it redish ink. Good men died. And yet my hubris was so strong, it didn’t even phase me. All I cared about was defeating the enemy, fighting for my country.

One night, I got too cocky. I stormed ahead into the trees, planting myself a good few paces from my squadron. My back was up against a fallen tree. The Germans were coming upon us, I could see them in the treeline. My aim was good and I was at a perfect position to pick them off. I took down five or six of them before a bullet tore through my leg.

The pain was so great that I stopped. The gun flew out of my hands but I was so focused on my leg that I...I didn't notice my comrades were retreating. Eventually the German forces started pushing up and, thank god, they didn't notice me sitting there. A few positioned themselves at the same tree I was, but I was so silent they must have thought I was a corpse. Again, I was lucky. But my leg was bleeding and I knew that I would die unless I did something about it. I was about to make a limping break for it when...

...When this young kid passed by. He stopped there in the snow, then he turned to look at me. I knew immediately that he was the enemy. He pulled the gun towards me but he did not fire. I bore down on my lip to stop myself from screaming. I was out of ammo and there was a bullet in my leg. There was no escape. I was going to die.

But he didn't shoot me. He just... lowered the gun, looked around at his comrades in the distance, then brought a finger to his lips. Then he shrugged his bag off his shoulder, unzipped it and... he tried to fix my leg.

He was the enemy. I kept telling myself that. He was the enemy, I had to shoot him. But I didn't do a thing. I just let this complete stranger patch my leg up. He must have been a medic, someone who knew how to take care of bullet wounds. He stopped several times when he heard a set of feet crunching in the snow. Each time he would just put his finger to his lips, and I would just nod.

He smiled once he was finished. This young man looked at me for a moment. He was blond, with blue eyes, like an angel. He looked at me for a very long time, nodded, then left. I never learned his name, he never asked for mine.

One of the Allied soldiers found me and brought me back to camp. I was sent home, never given any medals but received a full scholarship to this University. I graduated with a Bachelors in English, then turned right around and started teaching here a few years later. I have lived a good life. And yet I realize would have happened if it were not for the kindness of a single man. I slayed a dozen other young men, just like me, and did not feel a thing. But that soldier, the one who saved me, I… I still see his face in my sleep.

This was not meant to be a gritty description of what I saw. That would take over a hour, and my time is very brief. Very few of you can imagine what any of this is like, and for that I am happy. You have been given this very same chance without having to kill a single soul. I would not ask that of any of you.

So go out there. Make a name for yourself. Find the love of your life. Live. But do not forget that there are multiple sides to everything. Think critically, never one-sided. Because you have the luxury of not having to carry the weight of a dozen men on your shoulders. I do not.

You silenced my urge to scream, "death to nazis!" I don't know whether to applaud or report you to Uncle Sam. I'll just applaud.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Sithsaber posted:

You silenced my urge to scream, "death to nazis!" I don't know whether to applaud or report you to Uncle Sam. I'll just applaud.

Don't comment on stories.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


:siren: Submissions are closed :siren:

If you didn't give me persmission on your google doc then CONGRATULATIONS, YOU hosed UP. edit: you got it just in time

If you didn't submit a story, GOOD JOB, YOU JUST HURT YOUR ENTIRE TEAM. Furthermore, you robbed somebody of a fair fight.

Leekster, your story better be posted in 8 hours.

If you failed to submit, you can still submit and I'll judge your story vs. your opponent, but you won't get any points for your team.

http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?week=101

crabrock fucked around with this message at 04:16 on Jul 14, 2014

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



crabrock posted:

You have 2 minutes left to submit

THAT INCLUDES GIVING ME PERMISSION ON YOUR GOOGLE DOC

OH! Sorry crabrock!

CommissarMega
Nov 18, 2008


Would it be possible for me to have an extension as well? Muggins here left the HD with his tale at home, and I might be back late from work :(

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







CommissarMega posted:

Would it be possible for me to have an extension as well? Muggins here left the HD with his tale at home, and I might be back late from work :(

Just post it, don't beg.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


:siren: Tiny Babies, INTERPROMPT IS READY. :siren:

100 word on Medvedam. Is Bear in English, verno? You must write story about the bear. These bear are very strong, and bring joy to the villagers in great outer Russia Krasnoyarsk Krai or Kamchatka. Maybe Medved is save day, I do not know. Is your story, little man. Bring great joy to villagers of Thunderdome or there will be sadness like melting dark ice that turns to mud in the months of spring.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


For every story is bad, I go to Sochi and shoot dog. Is civic duty; I do anyway, but I do extra just for you, pizdaty.

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Paladinus
Jan 11, 2014

heyHEYYYY!!!


Fire That Burns.
Based on a Russian folklore tale.
(100 words)


An old bear has nothing to live for, that's what they say. But what escape do I have? I'm a bear, the king of the woods. And no other bear will ever raise their paw against an elder. For months now I wonder around the forest in hopes that a falling tree breaks my neck. No such luck.

Human. Human is my only chance. I go out on their grey longpath, but there are no humans around. Only a burning car. I open the door, get inside and fire consumes me. I'm a bear that died in a burning car.

  • Locked thread