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Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Blade_of_tyshalle posted:

Have you ever thought "how can I make my stories more hopeless and cynical? Why am I always writing things which have happy endings, and how can I change this?" Well, allow me to denigrate you as a person crit a story of yours and find out!

I'll cast aspersions upon the legitimate parentage of a mere three lucky Road Warriors. Sign up below, and let me know which story of yours you'd like sold into slavery.

you should also pick a movie, or --

you know what? gently caress it. Take Dirty Harry and make me proud, Tyshalle.


Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

I'm in with a :toxx:, as per custom. For the record I did write a story. I just didn't post it because (reasons nobody cares about). My film is Any Which Way You Can.

newtestleper posted:

Is this limited to thunderdome stories? I'd love a crit of this:

It's a bit longer than a thunderdome story though, so no worries if not.

I'll handle this. I hate doing line-by-lines and most Thunderdome stories are too short to warrant a full review in the style I'm used to.

Oct 30, 2003

Some Guy TT posted:

I'll handle this.


Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)

In with Kelly's Heroes.

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?

Since sebmojo went to all the effort of hunting me down and telling me to enter this week, and since I no longer have the excuse of being trapped on a tiny Japanese island with a poo poo internet connection, I'm in with Gran Torino.

Amused Frog
Sep 8, 2006
Waah no fair my thread!

Fanky Malloons posted:

Since sebmojo went to all the effort of hunting me down and telling me to enter this week, and since I no longer have the excuse of being trapped on a tiny Japanese island with a poo poo internet connection, I'm in with Gran Torino.

I nearly didn't. I nearly stopped myself. But then you come in and claim my film.

I'm going to regret this because I've got better things to do, but it's a showdown.

In with Gran Torino.

Dec 31, 2006

Fork 'em Devils!

Tired of being a little bitch and hiding from writing. In with Mystic River

Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW

submitted somewhere

Martello fucked around with this message at 16:55 on Sep 18, 2014

Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.

sebmojo posted:

you should also pick a movie, or --

you know what? gently caress it. Take Dirty Harry and make me proud, Tyshalle.

I've never actually seen Dirty Harry!

But uh, if you insist?

Aug 2, 2002

In with Hang 'Em High, which I just watched and was pretty ok. Clint scowls a lot in it, so that is good. He doesn't take "No" for an answer though, which is less good. Seriously Mr. Eastwood, right after a tragic rape story is not the best time to try again.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Blade_of_tyshalle posted:

I've never actually seen Dirty Harry!

But uh, if you insist?

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

entries close in five hours, give or take.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




:marc: Crits for Schneider Heim and Grizzled Patriarch :marc:
(to satisfy the prompt requirement)

Schneider Heim
Week 100 - Just Instincts

This was one of my favorites from week 100. Brahms and Sophia are very strong, endearing characters. The master/student dynamic is a well-worn and dog-eared trope, but you do it very well here. The highest compliment I can give a piece of flash fiction is generally that I wish that story wouldn't end, and that's what I felt when I finished reading this.

You could be a little more precise with your descriptions, sometimes. You're never so far off that I have no idea what you mean, but the first line is a great example:


The black attache case shone under the light of the moon, shadowing the trail of blood that went deeper into the alley

There are a lot of good things here. You establish the setting, and do a pretty good job of setting up a bit of intrigue around the briefcase in one sentence. What I have an issue with is the black case "shadowing the trail of blood...." Generally, when you use the verb form of shadow (to shadow, shadowed, shadowing), it refers to following someone, or watching them. I think what you mean is the briefcase was casting a shadow onto the blood. It's a very small, picky thing, but it's right there in the first sentence. All sentences should be precise, of course, but your first sentence needs to be like an exacto knife.

My other issue was with Bill and Quentin. Sophia mentally gives them nicknames, but then Bill refers to Quentin as, well, Quentin, and I thought that was a little confusing. They were also pretty much just stereotypical thugs, but you only had so much space to work with.

All in all, a fun piece. You have a good ear for what makes likeable characters.

Grizzled Patriarch
Week 104 - Jumpers

I picked this story because it lost in its week. It wasn't because of the writing itself, I'm guessing. While the prose wasn't perfect, it was clear enough. I was even intrigued when the titular jumpers started to jump! The description of the first lady jumping was, I thought, quite good.

But it seems like you tried to do something that doesn't work very well in flash fiction. You paint this very realistic, very detailed picture of a day in the life of a bridge maintenance technician, and then drop something unsettling smack into the middle of it. But you don't give any context. There's not even a hint as to why these people jumped. There's nothing to connect the narrator to the situation, other than the fact that he is watching it happen.

It's funny because as I started reading this, I was indignant that it lost in its week. It's really not bad writing, by Thunderdome standards. By the time it was over, I was like, "That's IT???"

You had 1200 words, and you used 678 of them. IDK if there was a reason you only used half your wordcount, but it hurt the story a lot. I really liked the atmosphere with the icy bridge shrouded in fog. You even created a little bit of drama when your protagonist fell and was dangling from his safety line.

But then you basically sweep your whole story under a very ugly rug in the last paragraph. This is almost an anti-story. The police come, no one knows why the jumpers jumped, the end.

Like I said, I was confused why this lost at first. I think you have a pretty good grasp of atmosphere. But FFS end the story next time :v:

Oct 30, 2003


Week 76 - Bottom of the Barrel

I picked a week with a low crit ratio, then saw that this story was alone in not having a single crit.

crabrock posted:

Frankie let each pretzel soak up the spit in his mouth before chewing, so Ms. Jepson wouldn’t hear the crunching. They tasted terrible this way, but he reached into his bag to grab another. His hand brushed against something unexpected--rough and cold--which he hoped was a snake or tarantula or mole rat. He made a weird gurgle not far removed from the myriad strange noises he generated at the back of the classroom, and nobody paid him any attention.
I think this is a fantastic opening paragraph, though there are some minor flow issues with one sentence (italicized). The opening sentence in particular is great, such a singular little detail that sums up what a grot he is.[/i]

He grabbed hold and wrestled out a note tied to a fun-size Twix.

"Oh balls."
I like the phrase, but I don't understand why it's being used here. Is he disappointed to get a twix? Also the expression confuses me as to the age of this class- I never really get a good idea of that.[/b]

Ms. Jepson always had two chopsticks in her hair, and Frankie told people she hid another up her butt. "That's your second warning this morning,” she said. “One more and I'm sending you to the principal’s again."

"But somebody left me a note."

One of the snobby girls scoffed. "Like anybody would give you a valentine, Stanky Frankie."

A valentine? He had forgotten. needs a bit more explanation.

The rest of the class laughed and Ms. Jepson gave Stefynee a warning too. Love the name Stefynee, funny.

He was probably the only boy in the whole world who didn’t already have a date to the Valentine’s dance that evening.

Stefynee was out, obviously. She has hated him since that field trip they had to sit together and he couldn't stop farting. this is fine but isn't up to the standard of the other details you use. Disappointingly obvious given the quality otherwise.

Hannah wouldn't have given him a Twix; he had told her his favorite candy was Necco too, so she would like him. She didn't, and Necco still tasted like chalk. hilarious

Frankie took quick stock of each girl in his class, making sprinkler sounds in his head, and then out loud.

Tst tst tst tst tst chtttttttttttttttttttt tst tst tst-- [/b]I LOVE how this is written, I know exactly the kind of sprinkler he means, but I would like to understand why he's making those sounds a bit. It seems a little too random[/b]

“Frankie!” said Ms. Jepson.

“I have to figure out who gave this to me before the end of school so I can ask her to the dance.”

“Are you even following along with the lesson?”


Ms. Jepson put a third check next to his name and pointed to the door. Frankie closed his binder of mostly doodles and trudged down to Mr. Milligan’s office.

I think you take a little too much time before moving the story on from the class to the principal, considering the world count. I think that hurried the actual mystery solving part of the story.

Mr. Milligan described himself as “jolly,” and now Frankie knew better than to tell people that was just another word for fat. Did he get in trouble for this in the past? This is a great detail but I think it needs to be laid out more clearly

“Hi Frankie. Noises again?”


“Ayup.” Mr. Milligan motioned to a chair, and Frankie jumped into it.

“It wasn’t my fault though.” Frankie told him about the note and Twix, and his fears of going to high school without ever having danced with a girl.

“I’m sure we can figure it out. Do you have any leads?”

Frankie shrugged. “Definitely not Stefynee or Hannah.”

“That’s a start. Let’s see if we can whittle the list down a bit more.”

“Well, Alison once told me Star Wars was for morons and then hit me in the head with my Star Wars thermos.”

Mr. Milligan sat up in his chair. “That’s promising. You know sometimes at this age girls don’t know how to properly show their affection.”

“She didn’t stop until it broke.This cracked me up. I snorted. Then she threw it at me and I had to wear a steak on my eye." don't think the rest of the joke is necessary, though I like the idea of the steak on the eye, it fits with his grottyness

Mr. Milligan slumped back in his seat. “What about Cheryl?”

“She has a crush on a boy at her church, and plus everybody knows she isn’t allowed to date until she is 16.” Still confused about the age group. Some of the stuff the kids are doing is very childish but they seem to have a more mature conception of dating and dances

Frankie and the principal sat in silence; both stared at the ceiling.

“What about Jenny?” asked Mr. Milligan.

“She carries around that teddy bear from her boyfriend, and he’s on the school basketball team.”

“Yeah, she’s probably not looking for a downngr--er, replacem--er, somebody else.”
There was a soft knock on the door. Frankie thought it sounded sweet, and imagined his dream girl standing on the other side. She had probably come down to rescue him, to profess her love, and make plans for him to have his mom pick her up for the dance.

“Come in!” Mr. Milligan said.

Frankie’s heart skipped a beat, and he turned around.

Doris glared at him as she peeked her head inside. “I got caught smoking in the bathroom again,” she said.

Mr. Milligan sighed. “Wait outside, we’re almost finished.”

Before she closed the door, Doris cracked her knuckles into her palm, and then hit it with a close fist. Frankie jumped and cowered in his seat. No, not Doris. Frankie reckoned she was more interested in pounding kids into the dirt than dating boys.

“That rules out all the cute girls,” Frankie said after the door closed.

“What does the note say, exactly?”

Frankie blushed. “I haven’t read it.” He fished it out of his backpack.

To a special boy

“It isn’t Hayley or Amanda,” said Frankie. “They both write like they’re riding a skateboard over asphalt, and this is perfect.”

“Open it up.”

Dogs love to sniff butts,
And flies love poo,
But nobody loves Frankie
As much as I do.

XOXOXO this rhyme is so sweet

Mr. Milligan opened his mouth and then closed it again.

“This girl gets me,” said Frankie. lovely

“Maybe we need to think about this differently, Frankie. How about you retrace your steps this morning. If we can find out when they stuck it in there, we’ll have a good lock odd turn of phrase here, doesn't work. on who it could have been.”

Frankie let out a squeal. “Yes! I’ve had it with me all day in my backpack. It must have been somebody super sneaky, probably with some ninja training.”

“Start at the beginning.”

“My mom handed me my lunch on the way out the door and gave me a kiss on my cheek. The note was at the bottom of my lunch bag, so it must have been sometime after that.”
This just ends WAY too suddenly, out of nowhere.

I am sorry you didn't get any crits at the time, because I really enjoyed this story. The little details that made up Frankie, who was gross and weird but also sweet and hopeful, were extremely well chosen and consistently surprising, to the point where it made some of the more workmanlike writing seem more jarring.

There were some clarity issues in the writing, but they were more technical than really bad- I was always able to understand what you meant to say.

I didn't like the way the resolution was arrived at. It very much felt like you rushed the way they came to the conclusion, and that the natural end of the story probably extended on a few sentences after the point you stopped. I think that how evocative your description was in the first half meant you could potentially lose some of it, or shorten it, and move on to the next part of the story more quickly.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

entries closed

don't gently caress it up

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 02:58 on Sep 15, 2014

Aug 2, 2002

sebmojo posted:

submissions closed

Mar 21, 2013


Grimey Drawer

Crit for Thalamus - what the world has to offer 5/10

A good fable type story is quite hard to write, but this comes close and I think it was a noble effort.

The dog isn’t so much a wise fool, though, so you lost a point or two there - the dog is more like an alternative outlook, the belief that kindness is rewarded. The Cat considers him a fool, but that’s the cat’s own foolishness, rather than the dogs, as is relatively obvious from the outset. The dog is constantly outwitting the cat - with the mouse, etc, so it never really comes across as a fool of any sort, just someone playing along with one.

The dog’s actions with the other creatures never really pay any real dividends, though. By helping the cat, all the cat really sees is that power (the dog’s) is rewarded by servitude (the cat’s). If the dog’s earlier actions could somehow have been the difference in their fates that might have helped the message. The dog, instead, uses the cat’s arguments against him, which isn’t a bad way to go and is cleverly handled, but it emphasises that the cat is wrong, rather than the dog is right.

Overall the writing is clear and concise so plus marks for that. The ending seems a bit contrived though. This cat has just spent the entire afternoon trying to prove that it has the right outlook to another creature, and then you say cats are always aloof? Cliche cats maybe, but not the cat you just spent the entire story writing about. This lessens the impact considerably.

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)

Crit for Sitting Here - (Liar liar)Girl On Fire

Where should I start? I thought the story was riveting from start to finish. You did well in cultivating a regretful tone for Nicolette. The story was dark, but it didn't dwell on the awfulness of what had happened to Nicolette and Nadine, and I think it worked better than if it had actually been played out. You also danced around the specifics without being a tease, and that's an admirable usage of words.

I think Nicolette was characterized pretty well, despite the reader being thrust directly into her story. The phone conversation with the man could have used some more filling out, though. I felt like I was listening to people speaking in a foreign language--I got the gist of what they were talking about, but not the little details? That she owed drug money? So she was a dealer? Uhh...

Maybe it's just me, but Nicolette's last lines were a bit too... cheesy?


But I fought, she wanted to say. Now everything I said is true...


I fought for you.

I could buy that she really got to see who Nadine was during her stay at Megan's place, but I think you went overboard here.

But I'm just nitpicking, really. This was a well-edited piece that really maximized the word count and got the spirit of the prompt down pat.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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

Crit for Tyrannosaurus - Disconnect


My grandchildren don’t remember it but there was a time before people lived in six by eight cells. There was a time before megatowers. A life before feedtubes and nonstop neural interfacing. There was a time when you had to remove part of your spine and replace it with wires and all sorts of technology in order to connect to NuNet. Now, infants have a biochip inserted into their brain. Children are connected as toddlers.

My grandson lives in the room next to mine. I haven’t seen him in fifteen years. Not with my real eyes. This is a snappy, attention-grabbing couple of lines and I almost think you should just start the story here. I think there's enough context that the intro paragraph is unnecessary

Yesterday, ten thousand people died when Megatower B211’s fire safety system failed. They were forcibly disconnected from NuNet and they would have been fine but they didn’t evacuate. They got lost. Disoriented in the sterilized rooms and hallways. Confused by a reality they couldn’t change.

A world you can’t control is terrifying.

I read that some of them didn’t even try. They just sat back into their chairs and reconnected.Nice, bleak line.

I twirl my fingers and create a sunset in the sky. I twirl them again and give myself a landscape of rolling, grassy hills from which to watch it. The air is warm. Another twirl and there is a cool breeze rolling over me. I inhale and it smells just like nature. I run my hands through the grass. It’s green and soft and slightly damp.

I grew up during a drought so I never saw green like this as a kid. Memories of my childhood are all dry and sepia-toned. All gray rocks and brown dirt and yellow grass that just crunched under your feet when you walked over it. I always thought that there was something very ominous about that sound. It resonated within you a sense of hopelessness in the world. Even if, like me, you didn’t remember a life any different. This verges on an exposition dump, but it's short and to-the-point enough that it still works. I feel like it makes for a slight pacing hiccup, though.

My mother had us all pray for rain. Real rain. Not the pitiful showers that every so often graced us but real life-giving water. We added the request to our blessings before meals. We included it before bed. In the dusty, hot, non-air conditioned wooden shack we called a church my mom would say “Amen!” with the preacher and then yell, “And, please, Lord, give us some rain!” That would always get a couple “Amens,” too. This is a good line, in a :unsmith: kind of way.

But God seemed content keeping it all to himself.

One day I went up to my father and asked him, “What can we do to make it rain?”

“I don’t know,” he said, “Do a rain dance or something, I guess.”

“What’s a rain dance, Daddy?”

I understand that what we did would be considered fantastically racist nowadays. But back then, to a little girl, it was just playtime. My dad painted my face and I painted his and we put feathers in our hair and we danced out in the dry fields.

“You gotta put your hand over your mouth,” he told me, “And go ‘Ooh-wa-wa-wa! Ooh-wa-wa-wa!”

We kicked up clouds of dust as we flung our bodies around. Sometimes hopping on one foot. Sometimes windmilling both arms. Sometimes just racing back and forth between two imaginary objectives.

We danced together like that for a long time, my daddy and me. And then, when we were tired, he scooped me up in his arms and and we laughed and headed back to the house. But I looked up. I tugged on his shirt.

“Daddy, wait,” I said, “Look!”

And then he saw what I saw: black clouds.

“Do you think that was us?” I whispered.

“I don’t know,” he said, “Do you think we should keep dancing?”

“We gotta!”

My father put me down and I beat my feet into the hard ground. I twirled in crazed circles and flung my arms with wild abandon. I looked over and my father was leaping from side to side with his hands stretched out to the skies. Skies which grew darker and darker.

“Ooh-wa-wa-wa!” we sang together, “Ooh-wa-wa-wa!”

All of a sudden there was a flash of lighting and a peal of thunder and all that water God had been saving up came rushing down to meet us. I’ve never felt so triumphant. My father grabbed my hands and spun me around him. I kicked off my shoes and dug my toes into the soft, giving dirt. I heard my mother as she ran out the house towards us. She was laughing and screaming, too. We danced and sang and my mother made mud angels in her Sunday’s best. I really like this whole rain dance passage. I can see the scene playing out in my head as I read, and you really did a good job of taking the father from playing a silly game with his kid to having a sort of desperate, childlike hope of his own.

I feel my body rumble. My real body. In the real world.Last line might be superfluous here. At least, the repetition of "real" reads a bit awkwardly.

I twirl my fingers. The sunrise disappears behind a window and the hill I was on becomes a magnificent bed. I wrap the covers around me and snuggle into the soft pillows. They feel real. My fingers twirl and rain drops splatter on the windowpane. Nice detail

I feel something touch my real body but I ignore it.

A world you can’t control is terrifying. Bringing this line back for the very end was a great choice.

Not a whole lot of criticism here. You do a great job of building character in small strokes and evoking the right moods. The only thing I could really point out is that you have a slight tendency in this story to over-explain the settings, but even then it's not egregious and I know a lot people prefer directly established settings anyway, so it might just be my personal preference. I do think the story would have a better hook if you cut the first paragraph, though.

Aug 2, 2002

requisite critique boutique:

Benny the Snake posted:

The Gambler
955 words

My name is Todd Templeton, age 43. You unless this is mind-blowingly strange, don't start a story with it. Unless your next sentence is "I'm in third grade" it's just boring. My profession is professional gambler Dude. Stop starting stories with "my profession is" you've done that like 8 times and it's dumb as shiiiiiiiiiiit--which is just a euphemism for “Compulsive gambler with enough skill to keep himself out of bankruptcy”. Bankruptcy doesn't sound so bad now that the dealer has a soft 20. that doesn't make sense

I'm so absorbed with the cards in front of me that I don't notice anybody else but the dealer. this is a weird thing to say in first person. people "so absorbed" don't have the mental wherewithal to describe how absorbed they are. Pick a better example. He's a short, wrinkled man with a head so bald and polished that it's reflecting the florescent lighting. I'm 5'11'' myself--under different circumstances, I'd use the gnome bastard for punting practice.

I get a nine and a seven--sixteen is the kiss of death in blackjack. Against my better judgment, I tap my finger against the green felt and I get a suicide king for my troubles. Sticking a blade in my temple looks appealing now that I'm down to my last few chips. melodramatic much? I rub a couple of them between my fingers as the rear end in a top hat deals me another 16.

“You keep rubbing those chips like they’re going to multiply,” a female voice says next to me. I grit my teeth so hard, I feel and taste my enamel turning into a coarse powder. I whip my face towards her ridiculous imagery to say something nasty and instead I find myself speechless. She’s a head shorter than me this dude is obsessed with height, and i don't see how it matters, thematically, with the story. with platinum hair--definitely a wig. Every part of her gymnast physique lol this is bad, from her face to her shoulders to her gorgeous long legs, are in perfect symmetry. omg stop describing women, you're horrible at it Sure, it’s uncanny how she has no apparent imperfection--I didn’t mind because she exudes this aura of pure, unapologetic seduction. you're like steve careell in 40 year old virgin. "you know how when you grab a boob and it feels like a bag of sand?" My common sense says stay. My inner gambler screams hit. these are good lines

Yo. crabrock here. Stop using "so" as a modifier. expand your vocabulary.

"sound so bad"
"I'm so absorbed"
"head so bald"
"teeth so hard"
"wasn’t so much"


“I presume you’re lady luck?”

She let out a girlish giggle that was all wrong for her. “Good guess,” she says as she’s dealt a hard 21. She takes her chips and puts them into a second case she's already filling. “My name's Goldie.”

“That’s a pretty name,” I say while my eyes jump up and down. It wasn’t so much because her red dress perfectly compliments the contours of her body or how the hemline reaches up to her waist. But it was more because ofI typo. proofread. her eyes. They’re an off-yellow, most likely contacts. They make her look inhuman, like a predatory animal ready to strike.

“My name’s Todd,” I introduce myself.

“Well Todd,” she says and picks up her chips, “I'm done for today. But I have faith that yours is just beginning.”

She gives me a knowing wink and leaves. Just like the laugh, the word “faith” is all wrong for her. After staring at her rear end for a bit, haha what I check my watch and notice something. It's a black suitcase right next to my foot. I look up to where she was and she's disappeared. I'm about to bend down to grab it but what stops me are the two sweetest words in the English language--“21 blackjack!”

I look down and gape. There it is, a perfect blackjack--an ace of spades and his jack brother looking me straight in the eye. I immediately double my bet and he deals me a pair of aces. I split them and I get an eight and nine as the dealer stands on a soft 17. boring details of a blackjack game

Caught in an adrenaline rush, I keep playing hands and I keep winning. It's too good to be true and is a little boring and what snaps me out of it is when I notice that the pit boss is giving the death glare. Putting two and two together, I figure out that the briefcase is a lucky charm. GEE REALLY!? It's why Goldie was on her winning streak. Now she’s passed it to me and the worst person possible sees it too. Luckily enough, GEE HOW CONVENIENT AND PASSIVE I'm able to cash my chips in right before a pair of security guards zero in on me. The one on the left has a cleft chin and the other has a widow's peak.

“Sir, we'd like to speak with you,” Clefty says. not a fan of this naming convention

“What's this about?” I ask.

Clefty responds by whipping out a baton and swinging it towards my face. I block with the briefcase and follow up by smashing it down on his head. He's not getting up. jesus what’s in that briefcase? Peaky swings at me with a wild haymaker. I block again with the case and with an underhand swing I connect with his jaw. Pretty sure I dislodged it. um. there has been no hint that this guy is good at fighting. where did this come from? it seems like this guy can do whatever you need him to at the moment.

“gently caress!” I shout in pain as my shoulder pops out. I see a whole wolf pack of rent-a-cops bearing down on me. Luckily enough, omg. i know you’re doing this theme of “luck” but stop saying “luckily.” it really ruins your whole story. things just happen to him. What you want him to do is have him capitalizing on his “lucky” situations. You do that a bit, but that’s really what you should be focused on. I'm standing next to a table with a dealer setting up. don’t care. Thinking fast, telling I grab a case of chips and throw it in the air, staring typo a stampede which blocks the wolf pack off. weird sentence construction I run as fast as I can, ramming the doorman with the case before popping my shoulder back in and taking off. no big deal, just pop my shoulder back in after taking out some dudes.

Inside my hotel room, I sit on the bed and stare at the briefcase for about an hour lol how boring and simple while my head pounds away like a snare drum. Whatever's in that case it's heavy and it's too much trouble for what it's worth. oh yeah, a magical case that gives you awesome luck is TOTALLY too much trouble because it’s a little heavy. this is a lovely conclusion Either I find out what's inside or I pass it on. I hear a knock at the door and the air escapes from my lungs. As quietly as possible, I grab my pistol from my nightstand lol what and sneak into the bathroom. As the toilet flushes, did he just drop a duece in the middle of a fight? I load my pistol and pull back the slide. gun porn is pretty much unnecessary. I look through the keyhole and my eyes gape lol as I realize poop words who's on the other side. thanks for not sharing with us. totally a cool mystery! NOT With my gun in my right hand, oh good, he’s not left handed I put my back against the wall, wait, how small is this room? turn the knob, and let the door swing open.

This story is bad. I see why it lost.

Lets start with characterization: who is this guy? You don’t give us any background other than he gambles. Gamblers aren’t usually endowed with natural fighting abilities. Why does he have a gun? How does he know how to set a dislocated shoulder? All of this could have been solved with a line about being ex military or something. Don’t let these details slip.

What does this guy gamble for? what does he want money for? does he hope to buy a house? go on a vacation? you never say. he’s just a guy trying to get money for…. reasons. this makes it really hard to care at all about it. furthermore, you’ve written an unsympathetic character. This guy’s an rear end in a top hat and a scumbag. there’s absolutely no reason for us to want him to succeed. i don’t care what happens to him at the end. he kills the dude in the hallway? meh, more michael bayesque ACTION for the sake of ACTION. he gets killed? no big deal, didn’t like him anyway.

Please don’t ever write about a woman again until you’ve touched one. It’s embarrassing. This is one of those “write what you know” issues. You just can’t write a surly macho sexy man. No offense intended, but I’ll understand if you take that personally.

You still tell too much. You have a dude saying “i’m too absorbed!” “i think fast!” show that stuff by his actions and actual thought process. think about when you’re stressed and rushed. do you stop to congratulate yourself on how awesome you are? if so, you might be a bit of a narcissist.

This story is a little old, but I still think a lot of these things are a problem for you. You keep trying to write BIG stories with lots of ACTION and SUSPENSE like you’re aiming for a summer blockbuster, but you never include any of the details that make your stories more than the equivalent of a 4%-fresh-on-rotten-tomatoes dud. Slow down and think about your characters. Think about them as real people, who have a long past and hopes and dreams, and find themselves in a situation. then describe how they get out of it (or don’t), but bring us along on their journey.

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.

I apparently can't use what time I have wisely and I have to drop out. Next time I sign up, it will be with a toxx included. Sorry sebmojo.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




:siren: Sitting Here v Benny Brawl Brawl :siren:

My actual TD entry will be along later. Probably.

The Left-Hooker

You could always find Mags in the SinThetic, down at the end of the bar. Men and women came to Mags, Mags took them upstairs, and an hour later those same men and women sauntered on back down to the bar, bow-legged and as smug as well-fed felines.

It wasn’t that Mags was the prettiest working girl in the district--handsome is how Miggy the barkeep described her to prospective patrons--but there was something about how she perched on the stool and surveyed the barflies with that little half grin. Like she’d taken stock of all the folk in the bar, and knew there wasn’t one of them she couldn’t handle with judicious application of lips and thighs.

The knock at her dressing room door came while Mags was using a hand laser on the stubborn hairs of her big toes.

“I’m decent, Miggy, you can come in.”

The barkeep opened the door just wide enough to slip inside, then closed and locked it behind him.

“You said you wouldn’t do any side jobs in the bar,” he said. “You knew I wanted to keep everything legal and such.”

Mags sighed and shut the little laser off. “It wasn’t a side job, it was a favor. One of my customers had a briefcase he wanted to give to another one of my customers. I told him to leave it on the nightstand. Other guy came, took it off the nightstand--stop that, it’s not like I even took money for it.”

Miggy was pinching the bridge of his nose, his eyes shut tight.

“What is it Miggy? Who’s down there?”

“You know Maricela Lopez?”

Mags shrugged. “She’s a madame over in District Centro. I ain't ever worked over in Centro. Heard she’s got some luscious guys and girls in her menagerie, though.”

“Apparently she dabbles in moving weight. The powdery, fun kind of weight. The kind of weight that people send samples of in locked briefcases. The kind of weight that--”

Mags waved her hands in the air like she was trying to fan away smoke. “Right. She’s in the game, and I got mixed up in it. Mea culpa. I’ll go fix things.”

She slipped on her knee-high boots, noogied Miggy on his balding head, and went to have a chat with miss Maricela Lopez.

Mags felt the tension in the bar as soon as she came down the stairs. The regulars were all sitting with their backs to the wall. Some of them shot worried glances her way. More than a few had their hands below their respective tables.

Maricela had chemical blond hair, so glossy it looked like liquid. Her face had the eerie, doll-like symmetry of too many expensive micrografts. She’d taken a table in the middle of the room, was surrounded by five bored-looking hired goons.

Mags pulled a chair up in front of Maricela, sat down. “Madame Lopez,” she said. “What can I help you with?”

“I’m looking into franchising,” Maricela said. “And seeing as you’ve already moved some of my product through this place, I don’t see why I oughtn’t start here.”

“Well, but, this is my boudoir. Me and Miggy’s. We got licenses.” Mags' little half smile got a little bit broader.

Maricela leaned forward and said, “I’ve got the minister of District Affairs eating out of my snatch. You think I can’t make a little paperwork go away?”

“I think I can make you go away,” Mags said, smiling even wider. There was the creak of folk shifting in their chairs around the room. The goons stood a little straighter.

“You’re misunderstanding the situation, bitch. What’s going to happen is you’re going to tell me who took that briefcase, then maybe I’ll--”

Mags’ right hook was sudden and meaty. Maricela was on the ground before anyone registered the thwack. The tension in the room snapped like a rubberband. As if on cue, the SinThetic regulars fell on the goons, using knives and bottles and lethal, jailbroken stunners.

Mags shook her right hand and winced. There’s been more than just bone under Maricela’s pretty face. Titanian grafts, no doubt.

The madame got to her feet, sneering, and dove onto Mags. Both women crashed to the floor, taking a table down with them. Maricela was on top, was pressing on Mags’ windpipe with her thumbs, pinning Mags’ forearms to the floor with her knees.

Mags wrenched herself sideways with a grunt, just enough to throw Maricela off balance and free her pinned right arm. Again, she cuffed Maricela in the face, right in her pouty mouth. The madame’s grip on Mags’ throat loosened, just enough for Mags to suck in a painful gulp of air.

She threw another punch that connected weakly with Maricela’s chin. Her right hand was on fire from hitting with whatever was under Maricela’s skin, but if she could just free her left hand--

Maricela yanked Mags’ head up by her neck, then slammed it back down into the bare concrete floor. And again. And again. And Mags could only think of black spots in her eyes, and her left hand, which was still pinned to the floor by Maricela’s knee.

Old Miggy appeared like an angel behind Maricela, his balding head haloed by the yellow lights of the bar. He brought a serving tray down onto the back of the madame’s neck. She twisted in surprise, let up pressure just long enough for Mags to yank her left arm free.

Miggy backed away from Maricela, straight into one of her hired goons, who took the old man down with one chop to the shoulder.

And Maricela turned back around to finish Mags, just in time to collide with Mags’ left hook.

There was the clang of metal striking metal, the squish of burst flesh. Maricela rolled off Mags, clutching her face in her little doll hands, blood running between her fingers.

The bar fell silent. Mags sat up and looked around. Her folk hadn’t done too poorly; three of the five goons were down. The one who’d hit Miggy was surrounded, and the remaining guy was halfway to the front door.

What the gently caress did you do to my face, you stupid whore,” Maricela yowled.

Mags got to her feet, looked down at her left hand, clenched and unclenched her fist. “Turns out, I did sell your product. Or at least, I sold a briefcase full of something that the buyer thought was product. None of my business, really. But the musculo-skeletal enhancement I bought with the proceeds sure did come in handy--and before you yell at me, Miggy, I paid off the bar, too. You’re a land owner, friend.”

Miggy had regained his feet, was opening and closing his mouth like a fish out of water.

Maricela looked like she wanted to lunge at Mags again, but she hadn’t become the top madame in District Centro by being stupid.

“You’re loving dead,” she said over her shoulder as she followed her last conscious goon out the front door.

“On a long enough timeline, we’re all dead,” Mags said cheerfully. She looked around at the bar and its patrons. Every man and woman was beaming at her with fierce pride.

She grinned, wide and toothy. “Good job, boys and girls. Next round's on me!”

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012


:siren:Sitting Here vs Benny Brawl:siren:

The Rodeo Bar and Grill
925 words

“Once you’re done closing their tab, you count out their change and put it on the table. Got it?”

I nod. My name is Alice , and I’m the new bartender in-training here at the Rodeo Bar and Grill. It’s located in the middle of a sleepy bedroom community outside of LA, and so far I’m liking it, mostly. I’m shadowing under Jessie today--yesterday it was under the bosslady Stacy. Stacy seems nice, but I have a feeling that she’s only being patient with me because I’m the new girl here. All the bartenders here at the Rodeo are women, including the bosslady herself.

“Good,” Jessie says. “Okay, it’s Monday night, so it should be quiet. Just take it one order at a time and you’ll be fine. I’ll be in the back just in case you need help.”

Jessie’s a five-foot-even Filipina chick with immaculately drawn eyebrows and a perfectly toned and tanned body. I’m a head taller than her and straight-up ginger with freckles all over my body and dirty red hair. I look like Mary-Jane Watson, except with even paler skin and less pretty. Yeah, I’m a bit jealous of her. It really doesn’t help that the uniform is a tank top with the bar name and logo and a pair of short-shorts. Kinda goes without saying that I’m feeling a little bit exposed.

“She giving you the once-over?” I hear a voice ask behind me. I turn around and I see a middle-aged guy with a friendly face. His hair is graying and he’s wearing a Green Bay hat.

“It’s fine,” I tell him. “I’m the new girl, so I expect it anyway.

He smiles. “Don’t let her bother you. She’s good people, really.”

I nod. “I’m Amber,” I tell him and extend my hand.

“George,” he says and shakes it. “Nice to meet you.”

“Same here,” I say and notice his pint glass is almost empty. “Another round, honey?”

“I like you already,” he says and nods as I fetch a fresh, cold pint glass and pour him another beer. I hand it to him as a middle-aged couple step inside and make their way to the bar. The husband’s wearing glasses and his hair is short and spiky. His wife is pretty. She has a round face and her hair is long and black with gray streaks. They sit down next to George.

“Hey, are you new?” The husband asks.

“Yep,” I say. “What can I get the two of you?”

“I’ll have a Shocktop,” he says.

“Tall or short?”

“Short, with an orange slice.”

“And I’ll have a Vodka soda with a lime,” she says.

A couple of hours go by and I’m actually getting into the swing of things. All things considering, I think I’m good at this job. “Another round?” I ask the couple.

“Please,” the husband says while her wife nods and smiles.

“My name’s Amber, by the way,” I introduce myself.

“My name’s Mark. I teach history over at the high school near here,” he slurs as I shake his hand. “I’m Petra,” his wife says and I shake her hand as well.

George picks his head up when he hears her name. “Your name’s Petra?”

Petra nods and laughs nervously. “Hey! It’s George remember? From the Corner?”

“Ummmm…” Petra says looking understandably embarrassed.

“Hey buddy, lay off of her,” Mark says, visibly drunk.

“Hey, it’s not my fault that your wife has a very active social life. Or,” George says with a poo poo-eating grin, “maybe it is.”

“Take that back,” Mark says menacingly.

“gently caress you.”

Mark grabs his glass and smashes his glass against George’s head. The two get up and grapple, knocking over tables and smashing glasses. Petra stays as far as possible from the two as they keep fighting. Everybody else does the same, forming a wide circle around the two.

“Holy poo poo,” I say and run into the back. “Jessie!”

She pokes her head from the office. “What’s going on?”

“Y-you’d better see this.”

She comes out and sees the fight. “Stay here,” she says and grabs an aluminum baseball bat from behind the counter. She climbs over the counter, all five feet 120 pounds of her, and rushes towards them.

She brings the bat down on like a hammer on Mark’s back, who breaks from his grapple and spins around. Jessie hip-checks him with the bat as he falls to the ground. She swings the bat and hits George in the gut. He falls to the ground, doubled-over in pain.

Jessie props the bat against the wall and pulls out her phone to take pictures of the both of them. “Now get the gently caress out,” she says and throws them out. Everybody cheers while Petra leaves as quickly as she can.

“Alright everyone,” Chris says with a huge smile on her face. “Give us like five minutes to clean up, okay?”

* * *

“I’m sorry Chris,” I tell her as we’re closing.

“Sorry about what?” She asks while sweeping.

“How I didn’t stop the fight.”

She walks over to me and puts her hand on my shoulder. “Honey, don’t feel bad. This is your first time bartending, right?”

I nod. “Look this is all part of the learning process. Just remember that if you can handle it yourself, don’t call the cops. Not unless it turns into a goddamn brawl. You understand?”

I nod. “That was loving awesome what you did back there,” I tell her.

She smiles. “Let me know when you have time and I’ll show you how to regulate.”

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool

Noah posted:

Nettle Man

Words: 1202

Joey expired profusely, praying for a swift end to Mandatory Daylight. Soon the Oblong Rotational Blocker would move across the sky, covering his dusty East Los Angeles neighborhood in Mandatory Night Time, but the reality was that the streets would stay lit from ambient and direct reflection from all the neon tube lights anyway. Decent setting up here, though I think a bit more subtlety could have been in order.

A billboard’s auto-lights engaged, showing a gyrating man completely oblivious in his paper world to the hundred degree heat Joey endured. Even still, Joey wondered, was why advertise leather. He had even been to an Ice Lounge, when he could save a month’s wage, and he felt his leather jacket and pants just kept all the dirty sweat against his skin, which rapidly cooled him beyond the point of comfort. This paragraph, whatever the intent was, didn’t come across clearly. I’m unsure what the underlying idea here is. Obviously, it’s hot, but are you saying something about Joey being dumb for wearing leather in the heat? Or that he tried it once and that leather is a bad idea because of the heat? Regardless, expensive ice lounges seem neat in the super-hot super-future.

A man shoved past, pushing Joey with the bulk of several dirty rags and sweatshirts all piled on top of each other. Joey opened his mouth but thought better after surveying the man’s horrible visage.

Brown streaks of dirt and grime lined the linens and cloths, Joey not sure the man wore the clothes or just tied them around his extremities. And Joey could still see skin in gashes and spaces in the attire, red and irritated, he realized the yellow discoloration the clothes had against the bare skin was from pus and discharge. This is a good paragraph. Good detail, subtle enough, really strong on making my imagination about this dude go wild.

And the man stopped, as though sensing Joey’s ill thoughts. One turn and Joey ran from the transient’s gaze, that of yellow, polluted whites and scabrous brow. Thankfully Joey had turned a run long before the sinister man pulled down the hankerchief covering his face. This sentence felt a little crude, too many forced details, not subtle.

Ducking into his favorite watering hole for a cold-enough cerveza, which he was on his way to in the first place, he plopped down in front of his bartender Mort. Words tumbled from Joey’s mouth like what used to be called streams.Personally don’t like the last sentence here, felt a little forced, but that’s hella subjective imo.

“Oh you mean the Nettle Man.”

“The Nettle Man?”

“This must have been a couple of decades ago, before you were a gleam in your—“

“Yes, yes. I’m young, I get it, you say that every time you start a story,” Joey said.

“Right, so must have been early 60s, maybe even late 50s, before all the oceans started drying up and the wind stopped and back when you could get coconut bar for a buck. A god drat buck!”

“Yeah okay, back when everything was great.”

“His name was Otto, and he was a researcher at the University. Some aquatic ven-o-mo-logical thing, but anyway, he was working on venom and how it could be good for treating diseases.”

“Huh,” Joey said. “Heard stranger, I guess.”

“So Otto has to start collecting these jellyfish, sea nettles they were called, and keeps them in this huge tank. And what he does is he gets these samples from their tentacles, but you gotta scrape them, and make the nettle sting. And they’re wearing protective clothes, but even that’s not enough. And the crazy bastard Otto doesn’t even mind it, he says it’s nothing like what the test subjects go through.”

“Test subjects?”

“Oh yeah, because he’s doing this trial study, and he really thinks he’s on to something, tested it on mice, everything, and he finally gets to test it on humans. Picture this, first you’re dying from the inside, wasting away, and this German tells you he might be able to help. But everyday, he stabs you with this giant needle, and puts liquid fire into you. One by one, his patients were quitting or dying, one way or another they couldn’t take the pain. Except one. This one little girl named Sarah, tougher than anyone else.

“So she was the last one, and everyday Otto would come get samples from her in the morning, and then at night he’d come back with a new mixture. Supposed to just poison a little bit of her. But that’s not how I heard it.”

“How do you know all this?”

“Back then this place used to be a lot more popular before the Uni closed. Some lab techs, kids your age, were there the entire time, helping Otto. You’d get some kid in here with a white glaze over his eyes, lab coat still on, looking like he’d seen the devil, and you would know he had been with Otto that evening.”

“Okay, keep going,” Joey said.

“Well, her family wouldn’t let him anymore, thought he was killing her, and hell, I can’t say I disagree. But he had to make more samples to test on, so what does he do? He infects himself, with the same thing in Sarah, just, jabs that big syringe into him, shoomp!”

Mort made a wet squishing noise as he pretended to push down the plunger.

“And you know how he had to get right into them, to get the samples, before he put that stuff in himself, he was careful, his assistants said. But after, he was bewitched, just jumping into the tank without putting on any gloves or anything. He would get right up to them, and wouldn’t even flinch as they wound those tentacles around his arms.”

“An assistant told me once, he was doing a collection and slipped, one of those vile things, twisted itself around his arm and he said it was like someone got a wet piece of twine and looped it as tight as they could around your arm, and then they’d saw back and forth, tearing your skin apart each time it moved.”

Joey shuddered, feeling the weight of the imaginary twine, sawing back and forth until the bright red blood pushed out and turned deep brown against his dirty forearms.

“But it wasn’t for nothing. It finally worked, you see, Otto figured it out, but after all that time he was in his lab—Days on days, weeks, and by then he was so swollen and sore and monstrous that he got tackled by security as soon as he went into the hospital. They had no idea, you get this bloated, pus monster running into ER holding this gently caress-off needle? I’m surprised they didn’t shoot him!”

“So wait, did he get her the medicine?”

Mort’s shook his head expressionless. “You hear it different ways, the syringe gets stepped on, Otto throws it, or it just plain breaks, but whatever happened, it gets broken. It’s another day, at least, before they can get another batch ready.”i think this sentence really makes the whole folk tale part of it come alive. It makes you question the narrator, and gives it an age.

“And Sarah?”

“She doesn’t make it.”

Joey exhaled like he had been holding his breath for eons.

“Wait, if it worked, why’s he still got all those stings?”

“That’s the damndest part, Otto, he, just can’t stop anymore. He gets in the tank with those loving things and lets them sting him all over again and again.”
Nothing until here because the whole block was pretty good. I actually thought you had used a different part of the bingo card until I checked back to your post, you could have actually done two lines for fun, because it fit closer with the 1st column than the actual part you did. Otto was set up pretty good as a dude who tells weird stories, so I felt more engaged with it. I would have appreciated a good dramatic pause with a break to one of the characters acting out something. The shoomp sound effect felt as if it should have been pushed into same sentence as the plunger action Mort did.

Joey spun his stool and stared out into the street. Neon lights flickered and popped down the line of taquerias and liquor marts, the sky was a strange, deep electric purple, and the hologram of the moon sat unchanging against the backdrop of the ORB. He envisioned Otto peeling away clothes in strips, each one taking another portion of dead and irritated skin away with it, before finally descending into a tank where the tentacles would embrace him once again.

The ending here feels the weakest. I felt like the story within the story was pretty good, but just context around it didn’t draw me in. Would have appreciated a side effect of the story on Joey, even just a gag at the thought of a boil, or anything along those lines, would have been good. Overall pretty good story considering the space you had to work with.

102 bingo, for noah, since that week was weak.

Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?

Oh poo poo we were supposed to crit something weren't we

crabrock posted:

The Midway Solution
1003 words

My dad sat down on the edge of my bed and nervously fiddled with his iron cross.

“It’s time we had the talk.”

I groaned. I’d been through sex ed three times already. Hell, after the last one Maria Silva let a group of us look at her private parts through her unzipped jeans during recess. Just pulled it open like it was nothing. I didn’t see much because it was dark, but I think that moves me past needing a talk. This is like one of those opening scenes in a cheesy movie where the kid is inviting someone to a date or confessing something but because he camera always stays on his face you know he's just rehearsing and you just wait for the twist to get it over with

“Now son, hear me out. This is important, and it’s better if you hear it from me.”

I flopped back on my bed. My dad turned toward me; his medals clanked against each other.

“There’s no easy way to say this, so I’m just going to say it. You’re half Nazi.” DAS IST EIN BINGO

I sat back up. “Wait, what?”

My father buried his chin into his chest. “You know how last year we made that family tree, and we traced back your heritage on your mother’s side? Her father is full-blooded Native, and she is half?”

I nodded, but don’t know if I understood.

He continued: “Well, that makes you a quarter Native on your mom’s side, and half Nazi from my side.” By the way I'm Austrian so I think I'm supposed to be offended by this entry.

My father hadn’t told me about his family. Said they all died before he moved to Brazil. I looked at the family tree I’d tacked to the wall. Above my mother’s head I had crude drawings of my abuelos in crayon. Above my dad’s head were just a few stylized question marks. Whenever I tried to press the issue, he would start shouting at me in German, and I quickly dropped it.

“But I don’t want to be a Nazi,” I said.

My dad put his hand on my shoulder. “It will take some getting used to, son. You’ll understand when you’re older, but I thought it was better to tell you now, so you could prepare.”

There had been whispers of Nazis moving to Brazil after the war, but I had never suspected that it was me all along. I mean, as far as I knew I hadn’t participated in any genocides. Heck, I even thought some of the Brazilian girls were cute.

“What if I….”

He took off his hat and polished the parteiadler with his thumb. “It’s not your fault, kid. I knew if I ever had kids, this would be a problem, but well, a night of schnapps and here you are.”

“I hate you!” I screamed, and ran out the door. Wow, where did that come from.

I made my way down to the beach where my dad used to make me practice crushing amphibious landings as a child. I stood staring out at the water with my hands in my pockets. The breeze roughed up my hair. I tried to sweep it out of my eyes, but it blew right back.

I made my way along the beach, kicking seashells passed over by beachcombers. A lone seagull followed me. When I stopped, he stopped. When I walked, he followed.

“I don’t have any food!” I screamed at it.

He looked at me, confused.

“I don’t have anything, and I never will. I don’t deserve anything. Not as a half Nazi. I should go find a cave and crawl into it and die.” I don't really understand what being a Nazi relative means in your world, because on one hand you play it off as super-wacky but then it also makes the kid want to kill itself? What time are we even in?

The seagull didn’t leave.

“Go, go fly up into the sky!” I realized I was standing with my arm stretched out, pointed at the clouds in a perfect Nazi salute. “No! It’s already happening!” Okay, this was kinda funny.

I ran back to the house and locked myself in my room.

Over the next few years, I struggled to keep my wretched urges secrets from everybody around me. I’d lock myself in my room and ignore anybody who tried to rouse me. “Go away!” I’d shout through the painful spasms. “I’m busy!”

At night, I’d sneak out and go to the beach. I’d goose step in the dark until my legs were sore, and I’d fall into a heap and cry my half-Nazi tears.

Then one day, it all went away as suddenly as it’d come. I finished high school, started dating Mary, and move away. My father was moved into an old-folks home, and I never visited. Then I got a call: “Your father is dying.”

We made the trip to the coast to see him and say our goodbyes. Mary, Me, and our son.

My father lay propped up on a pillow, his face sallow, his wispy white hair peaked out from his Nazi hat. In his eyes still burned that passion I’d known as a boy, and I could tell that if he still had the energy he’d give me a lecture about the sin of race mixing.

Instead, he just grumbled and looked out the window. I told Mary to take the boy to get ice cream, and sat down by my father’s side.

“I’m glad you’re dying,” I said.

He couldn’t talk back, on account of the tubes.

“I was always afraid I’d grow up to be like you: A Nazi. But I beat you. I’m better than you.”

My father didn’t say a word.

“I’ll never try to annex any nation. I’ll never be the son you wanted me to be.”

My father turned to me, smiled, and whispered: “He’s a quarter Nazi you know.”

He closed his eyes and slipped away.

I met Mary and my son in the cafeteria, and we all went out to the beach. A seagull landed near us and looked at me as if it wanted something.

I thought back to that seagull I met on the day I learned about my tainted blood.

Maybe seagulls prefer the ocean because they are attracted to doom. They hover on the breeze, waiting for a shipwreck. Not because they get anything from it; they just like to see others suffer. I fume thinking about how seagulls are sullying the reputation of birds with their constant begging and stealing. Somebody should do something about that.

If I had my way, I’d kill every seagull.

Not sure if I should have picked this since it reads like a throwaway joke entry.

The basic conflict is that the son learns to be Nazi, which is a race, and which genetically compels him to do Nazi-stuff, only it doesn't really, but it does, and he doesn't want to be a Nazi. And the solution is that he does nothing about it and it goes away on its own and in the end he still hates Nazis and his father, who dies. And what ties this all together is that there's a seagull somewhere.

Basically this whole story is a cheap vehicle to tell throwaway Nazi jokes. I think maybe you tried to parody dumb family drama entries but really you wrote an even dumber family drama entry, with Nazis. I'll grant you that your take on the Nazi humor angle is somewhat original, as you try to fuse it with family drama stuff, but then you also parody family drama while telling Nazi jokes and it just doesn't gel.

I think my biggest problem is that the narrative flips back and forth between being grounded in reality and being out there in parody-space, in the same way that the kid goes back and forth between being The Straight Guy and loving bonkers. It's inconsistent. I don't know if the kid is just imagining things or if there's actually some genetic stuff about being a Nazi in your universe, or if the father is just crazy. I need something normal, some kind of standard, as reference for what is over-the-top dumb crazy humor and what isn't and I feel like that's missing.

Basically: want to tell a wacky, over-the-top comedy story about being a Nazi relative? Drop the family drama cliches. Want to tell a family drama parody? Drop the over-the-top Nazi jokes.

Also, write an actual story.

Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?

877 words no title goodnight

Date: September 12th, 2014
Suspect: Cole, Jimmy
Detectives: Harrison, Norbert; Frank, Richard

[recording starts]

[sobbing, presumably Cole]

FRANK: Now what’s with the crying, boy? Tough guy like you.

COLE: I’m no tough guy.



FRANK: Yeah, you’re a loving pacifist, alright. [shuffle, papers being slid on the table] Like, see how peaceful and quiet that lady looks? You’re such a peacemaker, boy.

COLE: [inhales] Oh God. Take them away.

FRANK: Just admiring your body count here.

COLE: That wasn’t me.

FRANK: [snorts]

HARRISON: Who was it then? We have you on the last crime scene.

COLE: Yeah, but th-- that wasn’t me.

HARRISON: Just someone who looked like you.

COLE: Maybe.

HARRISON: With your prints and all.

FRANK: So somebody entirely and totally like you, but not you.

COLE: I guess?

[somebody, probably Frank, slams his hands onto the table]

FRANK: Stop jerking us around you little rat. We know you were there.

COLE: I didn’t do nothing.

FRANK: Look at those women.

COLE: I-- I can’t.

FRANK: Look at them you gently caress! You did this. At least owe up to it you--



COLE: [sobs]

[rushed whispering, probably Det. Harrison and Det. Frank]

[the sobbing stops]

COLE: [calm] I was there.

FRANK: …oh really now?

HARRISON: Mr. Cole, is that your confession?

COLE: I am not Jimmy Cole.

FRANK: Oh Jesus Christ. You serious?

COLE: My name is Daniel Lafette.

FRANK: You serious. Norm, I think this guy is serious.


FRANK: Now listen here, psycho. I don’t give a poo poo about your loving acting skills. You killed these women and you’re not going to weasel your way out of this.

COLE: You have nothing on me, or I wouldn’t be sitting here talking with you.

FRANK: You think that, huh.

COLE: I think you’re arrogant enough to think you can goad me into a confession. You don’t deceive me. I’m just getting a pretty good look on you from over here.

FRANK: Oh, all of a sudden our dainty little flower is a master manipulator.

COLE: You’re wasting your time with me. I have standards. Look at these girls, cheap whores, wearing poo poo like that out in the open, at night, in this city. What did they think was going to happen?

FRANK: What are you saying they asked for it?


COLE: You seem to be taking this a little personal, Detective.

FRANK: [snorts]

COLE: Maybe someone close to you went to the same hell that these cheap, butchered skanks were sent to?

[sounds of a scuffle, a chair is pushed back]

HARRISON: Calm the gently caress down, Jesus!

[fight stops, heavy breathing]

COLE: [laughs] Careful detectives. You don’t want to see my ugly side.

[there is silence, then footsteps]

FRANK: gently caress this poo poo.

[the door opens and slams shut]

HARRISON: Now then, Daniel. You were at the scene when it happened?

COLE: Yes.

HARRISON: And who do you say did it?

COLE: This kind of information isn’t free.



HARRISON: So. We can put you on the scene of one of the murders. You have a history of violence. We found the murder weapon not far from the house, and given time, I imagine we’ll link it to you. We don’t need your mystery suspect.

COLE: What do you need from me then, smartass?

HARRISON: A confession would save us time. And you the trouble.

COLE: I didn't do it though. Cross my heart.

[door opens and closes]

FRANK: Miss me?

[something slaps on the table]

COLE: What’s this?

FRANK: February 11th, 1990.

COLE: [sucks in air]

FRANK: Man goes nuts and kills his entire family. That sound familiar, boy?

HARRISON: You were there.

FRANK: Murderer’s name is Joseph Cole. Kills himself after he takes care of his kids, and wife. Lots of blood, messy case. I still have the nightmares.

COLE: You don’t--

FRANK: Only one of the kids doesn’t die. Carves him up, but somehow, he survives. See that?

HARRISON: That remind you of something?

COLE: Put these away.

HARRISON: [clears this throat]

FRANK: Who told that mystery murder where you’d been cut, and how?

COLE: He knew.

FRANK: Of course he did.

HARRISON: Anything you want to tell us, Dan?

COLE: Yeah. Take those loving pictures away from me, now.

FRANK: You don’t make demands you loving sicko.

COLE: I’m serious.

FRANK: You killed these women. You hosed them, and you killed them.

COLE: He’s going to--

FRANK: Some sick sense of nostalgia, maybe.

[gargling noises, likely Cole]

HARRISON: What the gently caress is going on with him?

FRANK: Hell, you ask me, the way you went off with these women it’s almost like you enjoyed being--

[a loud bang, objects scatter across the floor]

HARRISON: Watch out!

[metal hits something solid, makes a cracking noise; something heavy falls to the floor]

HARRISON: What the gently caress, Jesus Christ, what did you--

[a pistol is cocked, there is another hitting noise accompanied by a crunching sound; Det. Harrison yells]

COLE: [growling voice] I told you, Detective…

HARRISON: Wait, don’t!

[speech punctuated by metal hitting something solid, crunching noises]

COLE: …you don’t! Want! To see!

[the door slams open, footsteps and unintelligible yelling]

COLE: My! Ugly! Side!

[The hitting stops, Cole roars]

[recording ends]

Amused Frog
Sep 8, 2006
Waah no fair my thread!

My crit for this week.

Thalamas posted:

The Passion of St. Elmo 1000 words

The briefcase was exactly the type of thing for which he’d juice a man with two-hundred-thousand volts in the back this level of specificity seems like you're trying to get exposition in just because and James “Papa” Biaggio had just handcuffed it to his wrist. “You guard this with your life, Elmo,” the mob lawyer said again, "the mob lawyer". come on you can get the point across better than this.

“Sure, Papa.” His cell whistled the theme from Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo. “I need to take this – for the party.”

Balloons. “Yeah, everything was as promised,” Elmo said. They should be downstairs with Molly anyway. He’d picked them out a couple of weeks ago: silver and pink. And now this switch of tone seems like you're trying to add mystery after throwing exposition down our throats.

Goldie’s voice smoldered, even over the phone. “Good. One more thing. There’s someone looking for you, name of Coyotaje.” She paused, then whispered huskily, “He knows your last name. Keep your eyes open.” Elmo tongued his front-left tooth, a silver remnant of his luchador days after leaving seminary. What they wouldn’t have given for his first name back then. okay a set up. This actually works with the above bit but I'm annoyed about the initial exposition

“Thank you, ma’am. Goodbye.”

“Problems, Elmo?”

“Just the balloon company. Calling to thank us for our business, wish a happy thirteenth to the birthday girl.” Okay that's fine


The balloons actually made her feel a little better about the black eye. She tied a couple onto her backpack; the colors matched the streaks in her hair. Elmo must have picked them. Beside her, the new driver shifted from foot to foot. “Papa ain’t gonna be happy about that shiner, kid.”

She never had a chance to retort. When the elevator dinged, Elmo and Papa stepped out. She walked forward. Papa reached out toward her, but Elmo sprinted, a non-descript briefcase cuffed to one hand. “Molly!” they shouted. Gunshots cracked behind her and the driver’s blood fountained past, covering her father in gore.

Elmo slammed into her, wrapped his right arm around her waist, and pivoted his whole frame. As she whirled around, she glimpsed men in black, SWAT on the front of their vests, and then she was sliding across the waxed floor of the lobby on her rear end into the adjacent hallway. The echoing thunder of gunfire never stopped.

She ran her hands everywhere, checked for blood. The balloons orbited lazily above her head in the recirculating air.

Action, yeah!


While the barrage took Papa in the throat, he struggled to rebalance after the throw, then launched forward, tucking his shoulder into a roll and coming up next to Molly. clunky, make the action more obvious or fluid The kid’s face was ghostly pale, except for the purple and green surrounding her left eye, which matched a few of the colors in her hair.I get that this is supposed to be a different perspective (at least I think it is) but the repetition is annoying

“Molly.” Her eyes were locked onto the blood pooling around her father’s corpse. “You got my balloons.”


“Molly, we have to go. Now.” He reached out his hand and stared at the flattened mesas of his knuckles, unable to meet her eyes. The brush of her fingertips on his palm loosed him and they ran for the fire exit. I see what you're trying to do, make the shock affect him, but he was clearly in control a second ago. Why not have her fingers brush his palm and then he tells her they have to go?


She tried to keep up, but Elmo towered over her, and her feet barely touched the ground. He kicked open the fire door. Three SWAT members stood so close she saw the surprised looks on their faces when Elmo grabbed the nearest by the throat and crotch, that briefcase still dangling, and raised him overhead. “Hraahhhh!” It seemed ridiculous, a showman’s yell, but he slammed the full grown man and all his gear into the others. You're right. This does seem ridiculous. Why were they just hanging there ready for him to pick one of them up when they'd just shot a guy? He flicked his arm to the side and, when he laid into the pile of bodies with his right fist, the crackle of electricity filled the air.

She’d heard rumors about why they called him St. Elmo’s Fire. Okay well that happened. Maybe it's something in the prompt. Anyway, it wasn't too bad.


He never saw the fourth officer coming.

The impact of the bullets smashed him into the building. He slid to the ground and willed Molly to stay hidden, but the kid stuck her face out and narrowed her eyes as the man passed by. Then, she tiptoed behind him and filled his mask full of pepper spray. Okay, so she isn't helpless, presumably that's what the black eye indicated

He scissored the legs out from under the bastard and gave him a good dose of shock therapy with the stun gun.

“Elmo, you’re alive!”

He let the kid help him up to a sitting position against the wall. “Bullet proof vest.”

She threw her arms around him. “You’re the only one I have left.” So first she's alarmingly competent and now dealing with mass death around her with careful analysis of the situation. Or something

They walked and jogged choose one through the alleys of Los Grano D’oro, inside the maze of concrete and steel in the center of the city. He talked to keep Molly distracted from the bloody footprints he left behind. right blood doesn't leave footprints that long, okay

“How’d you get the shiner?”

Instead of answering, she asked, “Why would they kill my dad?”

“Hell, Molly. Did you get that fighting about your dad’s job?” She nodded. “Well, it’s true. He worked for the Syndicate.” I hope the prompt was for hackneyed stories


She practically dragged him out of the alley, knocking over some smelly garbage man smelly garbage men? Brilliant adjectives there. in the process when Elmo overbalanced. They hurried away, ignoring the noises from behind. A bullet had torn through his upper hip and his back was a mess of bruises.

“What’s in the briefcase?”

“Something valuable. And when I deliver it, we’ll live someplace quiet. Together.” Weathered oaken doors fronted the Fourteen Holy Helpers Cathedral. She pulled one open and they staggered inside. There's very little sense of movement across the city or that they're even heading for a destination. I'm sure you could have done better with more words but you didn't have them.

A bombshell in a long jacket sashayed out of the north tower. “Who’s this with you?”

“It’s the kid, Goldie. His kid. Her name’s Molly. You’ll need to keep her safe until I come for her.”

“What?” They both spoke at the same time.

“Molly, it’s dangerous where I’m headed. Will you trust me?”

“Yes.” There was nothing else to say. hahahaha. No.

She gritted her teeth as Goldie drew her eyes along every inch of Elmo, taking in the bruises and blood. “Can you still deliver, Domingo Silver?” Elmo Domingo nodded fiercely. Light from the stained glass window of St. Erasmus glinted off the silver tooth in his grin. Goldie threw Elmo a set of keys. “The El Camino out back.” They left, trailing a lone, pink balloon. Don't like this either. Awkward and clunky

The last time she ever saw Elmo, he was walking away, briefcase in hand. You already had what felt like a final line and now you have another

Having read the prompt, I don't think the things I don't like about this story are because of it. There's some stuff I do like but the bits commented on I didn't and they dragged it down. There's some corny dialogue, some clunky sentences, but a decent idea that doesn't quite get delivered with the words you have available. Maybe without a word count, a couple of run overs and crits you could have a pretty entertaining short story here.

Not dreadful but not good, could be enjoyable with work.

Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW

Mercedes posted:

To the Heavens
Words: 1989

Flash Rule: Character gives up something they care about

Okay, so I wanted to like this. I didn't hate it, but I didn't like it. You have a nice setting here even if it's pretty similar to Reign of Fire. But you have some major problems with execution.

For one, the dialogue can drag at times. Here's an example:


“I know, I just…” Babar searched for the best way put what he thought into words. “There’s still plenty of food. We won’t run out in our lifetimes. Let someone else go see if people can live on the surface.”

“I can’t stay cooped up in here. If everyone waits for the next person to do something, nothing would be done.”

This is dangerously close to expo-speak. Aren't they just about to launch this expedition? They probably would have had this conversation earlier. And if they have to talk about it here, make it matter more. Talk about how all they eat now is canned dogshit, something about rationing, etc. Eureka just not wanting to be "cooped up" isn't a very strong motivation. And they're both communicating in very generic, obvious terms. Make it pop.

"So maybe you don't like eating dogfood and reclaimed pisswater every day. At least we're still alive."

Eureka shook her head. "Can't do it. Gotta breath the air, man. Follow my Grandpa's footsteps. There's more up there. More to live for."

Just spitballing here, but you should get the picture. The next few lines are even worse, so definitely fix those. Again, they're having a conversation that they should have had before, and it should feel like it's a rehash, or it should be something different altogether. Really sell me on their motivation. Besides air or her Grandpa or whatever, why is Eureka so loving compelled to brave the wyverns to go the surface? What are the stakes? Why are Babar and the other dudes willing to follow her despite their clear misgivings?

This bit needs work too.


Eureka stood at the front of the train car. She wore a leather coat and she breathed into her gas mask, ignoring the fog on the scratched lenses.“What do we want?” She shouted at her men.

“To see the sky!”

“When do we want it?”

“We want it now!”

Eureka scrunched her lips upward in an approving frown and nodded her head in response to her team’s fighting spirit. The only thing that felt right was to pump her fist in the air, screaming like an incoherent drunk distraught to reach the bottom of the last bottle of alcohol in the world.

Since when do you scrunch your lips up to frown? Do you live in Kiwi-land where everything's upside down? The pep rally comes off as corny, too. I see what you're trying to do, and it might work a tad better in a movie or something, but on the page it makes them look silly. Maybe something quieter, more serious, that still has passion and impact. It would also not make a ton of sense to start screaming right before going up into wyvern-land.

And then it continues with some other stuff about shooting the ceiling and so on. Is this supposed to be a comedy? Because you're kind of flip-flopping the mood and it's not working for me. I know that's kind of your poo poo, and I've seen it work before, but here it really doesn't. You need to figure out what mood you want to set, what theme you want here. Right now it's a mix of "intrepid explorers flying in the teeth of danger (literally)" and "goofball fuckups trying to climb the abandoned factory building and falling off and getting crippled." The comedy relief doesn't really work because there's not enough real tension to need relief from.

That brings me to my biggest issue with this story. The whole deal with Eureka getting crippled is very implausible and totally kills my suspension of disbelief. When you break your spine or sever the cord or whatever, you don't just wake up twenty minutes later and get carried around like the dead guy in "Hellboy: The Corpse." Paralysis fucks you up majorly, it doesn't just paralyze you, if you see what I mean. And the worst part is that her becoming a paralytic doesn't really do anything for the story. She immediately gets carried, and even when she's dropped there's no real tension. It just seems a really odd choice. Why does the fearless leader need to be crippled? Why not have Babar pull her up when she's hanging off the edge of the train car or a tower or something?

This story has great potential. The setting is intriguing, and the characters have the potential to be engaging, but because the humor attempts fall flat, they kind of come off as a bunch of twats. You establish some tension, but the choppy or overly-long descriptions mostly kill it, along with the humor attempts. And the whole device of Eureka being paralyzed just plain doesn't work. Come up with a different way for her to need help (physical or otherwise) from her compadres. And motivation, again. Work the motivation.

Finally, I'm not sure how you even fulfilled the flash rule. Who gave up what thing they cared about?

I'd be interested to see a reworked version of this at some point.

Amused Frog
Sep 8, 2006
Waah no fair my thread!

And the story for this week!

And I Just Want
921 words

The bin blossoms. Flames mushroom out of it when a bottle of lighter fluid explodes inside. The punks dance around it like savages. They should know better. There’s nobody else in the park, just me and them. We stay out of each other’s way for an easy life.

Come morning, the melted plastic carcass of the bin gives off a foul stench until it’s taken away by the council workers. They unscrew its base and haul it off in the back of a van. Before they leave one comes up to me and says I need to head off too or they’ll call the cops. I’m doing nothing wrong but it’s easier not to argue. Another compromise.

Leaving, I pass May. I see her every day. Long dark hair, brown eyes. She’s beautiful. Reminds me of an old girlfriend. May comes to the park each day, walks through on her way to work I guess. Sometimes she’s here at lunch. I don’t know if she’s ever noticed me. Why would she? I look a mess. Torn coat. Matted beard. I don’t know how dirty my face has gotten and I haven’t been able to smell myself for years. That means it must be bad.

The park in the day is beautiful. Kids run and play, people smile in the sunshine, there’s something good and wholesome in the air. No wonder they don’t want me around. I get kicked out most days. I come back to spend the night.

Today I go downtown instead, try and scrape together money for a drink. I don’t get it. Somebody spits at me when I ask if he can spare a buck. I yell that I was in the army but I never was. Somebody else gives me ten dollars and says nobody has respect for veterans anymore. I ask him for twenty and he walks away, shaking his head.

Back at the park it’s me and the punks. They’re just drinking tonight. Drink and drugs. Smoking and drinking God knows what. I don’t know where they get the money. Hold up liquor stores, and mug and steal and shoplift. Probably. Scum that should know better. Bring back the draft for people like them.

Every night they stay until the sun’s up. I’ve seen them fight each other and hold up people. They’ve got knives. I shouldn’t stay here but the only other place is under the bridge. I won’t mingle with those people. I’m not like them.

A group of the punks head towards me so I get off my bench and start walking. They yell after me but I don’t respond. I round a corner and head into the bushes, crouching down and hoping they don’t see me. It’s humiliating.

The next day is a good day. Nobody tells me to leave. I sit on the grass and watch people all day. I doze. On a day like this I don’t even want a drink. Somebody’s kid walks over and starts talking to me. I start telling him war stories but his mum drags him away. Don’t talk to people like him. That’s what she’s saying. I look at my overcoat, the stained clothes, the plastic bags in my pockets.

But it’s still a good day because May arrives at lunch. I watch from across the grass. She’s laughing and tossing her hair back. She’s a good kid, May. She’s done well to get where she is.

That keeps me going through the afternoon and into the evening. The punks don’t even come to the same part of the park as me. It’s a blissful night until I hear the scream.

I want to leave it alone and look the other way. Stay where I am and not worry. Keep my easy life. Except the scream has a familiar tone to it. One I’ve heard laughing before.

I know that May works nearby. I started following her once. Twice. And I know she works late sometimes. I’ve seen her cut through the park. But she wouldn’t be so stupid. She couldn’t be. She’s better than that. I run through the bushes and trees until I see the punks by the light of a lamppost.

It is her. I’m sure. But she’s talking with them. She’s not screaming anymore, if she ever did, and she’s not running. I don’t understand. Is she with them? Is she one of them? She should know better.

Then one of them takes a swing. Hits her right on the side of the head and she goes down like a felled tree. And that’s when I charge. I can’t have an easy life. Look at me. I’m done. I run across the grass as they’re leaning down to look at their handiwork. I jump on the back of the one that took the swing and bite into his neck, sinking my teeth in as deep as I can.

It takes a second for them to react and when they do it’s like lions when a steaks thrown in their cage. I’m pulled off the first punk and take a ribbon of skin with me. There’s a blow to my head and the world spins. I can’t see out of one eye. Blood is dripping down my mouth. Something collides with my leg and there’s a crack. I scream. I cry out. I can feel tears.

And through them, I see May running. Nobody’s chasing. They’re all on me. And the park fades away.

Jul 22, 2007

:siren:Oxxidation vs. sebmojo Brawl:siren:

Sounding (2,488)

You can lose yourself on a calm night in the Pacific. When the wind dies and the water is flat, the world around your boat turns into black gloss, so if it weren’t for the moonlight glinting off that darkness you would think you’re floating on air. And up above, the stars – not sad pale pinpricks like I’d see, rarely, in Los Angeles, but fat and pulsing and scattered across the sky like junk jewelry. You look up and feel your body pulling itself apart as it struggles to see them all. I could stand on the deck of this rusting cabin-cruiser all night and fade like a ghost. But Becca and I have work to do. It’s only the second night.

We wake up when the sun sets and spend the night at the helm, working the sonar. A speaker shaped like a hockey puck and a long thin microphone cling to the hull like barnacles, one sending out the pings, the other listening to whatever may talk back. The sonar’s supposed to show me the sea floor but the picture is crazed and muddled, sometimes breaking up into a discolored black mirror, thanks to whatever Becca’s done to the machines. I sit in front of that screen for hours at a stretch with headphones on, monitoring the pings and adjusting their tempo like Becca showed me, an ocean of noise pouring into my head while she marks our course every ten minutes, on the minute. Her notebook’s pages are so choked with coordinates that in the boat’s murk they look solid black.

Star-gazing would be no less productive than this, but I know she wouldn’t agree. I glance to the side sometimes, and her eyes are always wide. They glow in these monitors’ sickly light.

She’d turned up at my door a week ago. Don’t know how she found me. She said she’d tried to call ahead but I keep my phone unplugged (it’s never good news). The last time I saw her she was cross-legged on the floor with a bowl of potato chips on her knees, staring into the TV with the same focus she’s giving these monitors now. I’d muttered a goodbye and stepped out the door – I think I’d meant to go to New York, but I got bogged down somewhere around Wyoming and in three years I’d boomeranged back to where I started. Tried to call home once and the number was disconnected; I took it as a sign and forgot them. Now it was five years after I’d crawled back into Los Angeles and here was Becca, tall and too thin, her hair spilling around her shoulders, and here was me, in my shorts, crowding the crack in the door so she couldn’t see the bare mattress, the roaches eating each other in the corner.

“It’s easy,” she told me the next day. We were in the docked boat, in front of the monitors. I stared at them as though they’d asked me a question. “This,” she tapped the sonar, “scans the ocean floor. Lets you see fish, the sea floor, reefs, whatever. These options on the side, they’re mostly for changing the display. Don’t worry about them. I just want you to listen. And adjust the power, from time to time. Change the sound.”

Once you got past the initial confusion, the machine was simple as a toy. I asked why she couldn’t do it herself. Her face grew taut and she brought out her maps, multicolored lines crazed across the entire Pacific.

“I need to chart our course,” she said, and ran her finger across a Halloween-orange line running from California up to Alaska. “We’ll be following this. The margin of error is so small.”

In the ocean, she explained, there was a single whale with a singular voice. While other whales drifted through the murk, singing to one another – Becca had to remind me of whalesong, I hadn’t heard of it since grade school – this one’s voice was a little too high for some, a little too low for others. No other creature recognized it as one of their own. So it searched year after year, tracing the same paths, crying out for an answer that would never come. Becca delivered all this like a lecture, but her finger shook as she traced the maps of its passage.

“We’re going to talk to it,” she said. “With the sonar. The lowest possible sound these machines can make is about a thousand times higher than any whale song. But I opened up the transducer and put some padding on the outside. It’s useless for finding fish now, but I lowered the tone.” Low enough to match the whale’s? “Not even close. But I’m hopeful.”

When your sister shows up on your doorstep after nearly a decade with the body of a stranger and a strange hunger in her familiar eyes, when she asks your help in speaking to a single fish in the Pacific with a broken machine that can barely broadcast its noise for fifty feet, what questions do you ask? And what questions can you expect her to ask in return? I stayed quiet, and that’s how we ended up here, huddled under the jewelbox night.

We’re weighed down with supplies, fuel, a wetsuit that hangs from a peg like a discarded skin. But these whales can, in a single night, swim further than three whole cans of gas could take us – I know this because Becca says so, she sometimes mutters “three whole cans, three whole cans” like a nursery rhyme as she marks down our coordinates – and we need enough fuel to return home.

The third night. I slip off the headphones and keep them on my neck so I can still hear the transceiver’s noise, like a necklace of static. I ask her if the boat’s stolen. The question’s preyed on me.

Becca’s in her underclothes, scribbling in her notebook. She doesn’t look up. “No,” she says. “It belonged to a friend of mine. From the university.”

She studied Marine Biology in UCLA but her friend was just a fisherman. “I didn’t know him that well. I thought I did, but. You know.” Weren’t there more people at her school more qualified than me to handle this?

She puts her pencil down and leans forward, fingers curled under her chin. I’ve noticed she starts doing that when she’s stressed. She didn’t do it when she was young.

“This isn’t a research project,” she says. “No one would accept this as research. It’s impossible. We’re trawling the whole ocean and hoping that she – it, I meant it – that it just swims right into our sonar. My maps aren’t up-to-date and the machines are tampered with. We’re threading a needle from three thousand miles away.” She glances at me. “I’m wasting your time, aren’t I?”

I shrug and slip the headphones back on.

Fourth night. I’m getting better at manipulating the sonar. I can make out the pings, barely, on the edges of my hearing, and I adjust the speed minute to minute like Morse code. Becca tells me that whalesong often stays the same pitch but different lengths, their tones drawing out or cutting short depending on what they want to say. I’m not just sending a signal, I’m trying to begin a conversation.

“You’re good at this,” Becca says. We’re both getting greasy, despite trying our best to clean off in the ocean; the ragged curtain of her hair obscures her face. “What are you doing these days, anyway?”

This and that.

“You go to school anywhere? I mean, you were still in high school when you. When that happened.”

I didn’t.

“Are you in some kind of trouble?” The words sound like they’re coming from a long distance away. I face forward, I can feel the eyes burning into the side of my head.

I owe money, that’s all. I’m handling it.

“Mom and dad,” she starts to say, but I put the headphones on and wade back into the noise.

It’s the fifth night and it’s pouring rain. The storm drums against the sea and ruins our instruments, I can’t even hear the sonar over that percussion. Becca hunches over the machinery like a mantis, her scribbling in the notebook grows more frenzied, until she hurls it against the glass and goes to bed. Inside that alcove I can hear her crying, hear the bed rustle as her whole body shakes with the force of that grief. I step out into the deck and squat beneath the overhang, listening to the rain, the starless night turning everything invisible.

When Becca was seven she’d wandered into a neighborhood ballgame and gotten cracked in the face with a bat. It had been an accident. I remember her sitting in the dirt with blood pouring from her mouth, two teeth in her lap, and she was crying, yes, of course, but it hadn’t been the pain, I don’t think, she just couldn’t work out what had happened to her. I told her, and took her home, and beat the boy who hurt her so badly he couldn’t come to school for two weeks. But Becca, things are different now. You’re the only one with the maps.

The sixth night.

We’re nearly out of fuel and the air is heavy with resignation. I adjust the pings every thirty seconds, marking off time with the sound. Every time Becca opens her notebook it feels like we’re closer to the end. And then.

“What?” Becca glances over. “Did the feed cut out?”

I motion her over and lift one ear of the headphones. She leans in close. I can smell the salt crusted on her skin.

There, buried in the static. An unfamiliar tone, so low it’s more remembered than heard. Like some decayed, alien violin. I think it’s just a hallucination, we’re both desperate and tired enough for that to be the case, but when I see the look in Becca’s eyes I swear I can hear it again, and again.

The two of us are frozen. Without looking away from Becca, I move my hand and adjust the sonar’s pings. The cries seem to change in response.

“Keep playing,” Becca tells me.

I hunch over the console so close I can see my eyes reflected in the black. I’m calling and answering in a language I don’t understand but there’s something there, some common ground between the twisted machine at my fingertips and the creature making this noise below, some question, some argument. The whale, if it is the whale, doesn’t fade. It hasn’t moved. I keep the pings steady and go outside.

Becca’s there, in the starlight, the wetsuit spread out beside her. She’s standing on the rail of the boat – on the rail, the arches of her feet curled into the steel. Her balance is impossible. The boat rocks with the waves and her legs don’t even buckle. She looks like a mirage.

“We’re not that far out from land,” she says. Her feet bare feet smack against the deck as she jumps from the rail. “If you took the first and last set of coordinates in my notes and plotted your course, we’d be maybe half a day’s travel out. Got to work the engine in spurts, save as much fuel as possible.” She picks up the wetsuit, puts it down again. She doesn’t meet my eyes.

She says, “I’m glad that I could see you again.”

She runs up and hugs me, so suddenly I’m almost knocked off my feet. Her embrace is tight enough to hurt. She pulls away before I can return it.

“I’m going down,” she says. “Have to see for myself.”

I watch her pull on the wetsuit, each piece of equipment making her less familiar. The goggles fill her eyes with fog, so I can’t tell if she looks at me before she goes over the rail, and disappears into the water.

The sun rises before I give up hope.

She told me how to return home. That’s why I think it was deliberate, and not an accident, or a malfunction – not Becca thrashing in the purple depths of the ocean with her foot trapped in a rock or Becca bloody and chewed up by the whale, if there was a whale, that she’d come to visit, if she had come to visit it. Just my sister, swimming as far down as she could, past the range of any sonar.

It’s been a year since then. I followed the instructions she left me and docked just long enough to steal some fuel and bring the boat up north to Oregon; the air is freezing but no one in LA looks for me here. I found enough work and made money to keep the boat sea-worthy; I live out of it, sleeping in the captain’s chair (I had always given her the bed). The sonar still works. The maps are still fresh. I read her notebook daily, for when I go back out to sea.

I try not to think of those days but there’s nothing else to think. Before she’d found me again my life had been surrounded by murk. The hiss of the radiator and the whine of the TV and that heart-stopping dread every time I heard footsteps outside my door. I couldn’t tell her about any of it but I wonder now if there was anything else she wanted to tell me. If that was the favor she’d really come to ask. I made some calls from public phones and learned that the boat might not have been stolen but the sonar equipment was; it had disappeared shortly before Becca had dropped out and vanished from everyone’s lives. All that time, she’d had the pinched face of a fugitive, desperate to confess, but I had kept to the sonar, sounding my own conversations instead of listening to hers - oh, Becca, if only I’d realized sooner that I missed you.

I haven’t been well lately. I cough hard enough to rattle my bones and my spittle comes up red. But my ears still work fine, and this time I don’t have to worry about a return trip. Becca’s whale is out there, waiting for an answer, and I think I know the sonar well enough now to tell it everything. About the sister I’d left behind, and who’d come to find me again; how I’d helped her, and how I’d let her down. Most of all, I want to describe what I saw on that last night, the way she balanced on that railing, tall and straight and pale as a ray of light, the woman I never knew she’d become. I’ll turn it all to sound and cast it into the darkness, where someday, I promise it will be heard.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

see archvies

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 22:17 on Jan 1, 2015

Jul 12, 2009

If you think that, along the way, you're not going to fail... you're blind.

There's no one I've ever met, no matter how successful they are, who hasn't said they had their failures along the way.

Phobia posted:

Pick Door A or Door B, all aboard the crit train.

YES. :thumbsup:

Phobia posted:

The Last Tea Party
1190 words

“I say, old chap, I think Ariel is the prettiest princess of them all. Wouldn’t you agree, Duchess Izzy.”

“I much prefer Snow White, old bean. She’s much more regal and presentable. Don’t you agree, Princess Mirabella?”


“Princess Mirabella?”

Mirabella shook herself out of her stupor. “Sorry, Izzy, I’m just…”

Izzy’s living room went silent, the kind of quiet that makes you want to go back to your bedroom and curl up in a corner. Izzy must have noticed something off because she spoke up real quick.

“Hey.” Izzy adjusted her glasses. “Mira. Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Mira lied. She tugged at the necklace made of grass. Lauren taught her to daisy chain when they first met at Camp.

“You don’t look fine!” Lauren chirped “Even Sir Fuzzles can tell you that!”

Lauren turned and looked at the stuffed rabbit in the seat opposite her, with the top hat and fake monocle. When the bunny didn’t speak, Lauren turned to look at Izzy expectantly.

“Sir Fuzzles has taken a vow of silence”, Izzy explained. Was it supposed to be Lauren saying Sir Fuzzles "could tell [Mira] that"? Because it seems weird for Lauren to speak up for, I guess, Izzy's stuffed bunny. This part reads a little weird because of this. Maybe it's because Lauren is their Down's-afflicted pity-friend?

“Oh.” Lauren broke character. “You look really sick though, Mira.” she laughed. “Is it because we played Hooky? Are the nerves getting to ya’?” I cannot help but imagine Lauren is now a Brooklyn bruiser coaching his bud before a fight.

“That’s it.” Mira gave a nod. “I’m just nervous. My dad gets mad, y’know?”

Izzy still didn’t buy it. She was smart like that. Lauren, on the other hand, bought into it, and she gave a nod and a smile. The pink room they were in, with the frilly table cloth, the china cabinets and the multitude of those creepy German figurines, felt especially suffocating to Mirabella. How come? Is it because of the frilly pinkness, or because of her own inner turmoil?

“We need more tea,” Lauren moved on quickly, holding up the teapot

“I’ll do it.” Mira said.

“Are you ever so sure, Princess?” Lauren said with a coy snicker. I think Lauren's a bitch.

Mira didn’t answer. She just took the teapot and walked out of the room.

She poured water into the teakettle and placed it on the burner. The itching around her neck was getting annoying, so Mira pulled. You know, I had originally forgotten she was wearing a necklace made of daisies and thought she'd pulled at her own flesh. It wasn't til the end of the paragraph that I remembered the necklace, and then I had to scroll back up to find out what kind of necklace it was that it burst into flames. Unfortunately she made the mistake of chucking it on the side of the counter. The necklace lit on fire almost immediately.

The fire alarm went off and Mira screamed. In hindsight, she overreacted. It's very nice to have hindsight. But this doesn't feel like Mira relating her story to me, so it feels out of place to say. She ran out of the house and buried herself on the lawn.

Izzy and Lauren came out. Mira was pulling the grass out of the lawn, ripping each individual blade to shreds. Why? This just seems so random a thing to do!

“Good thing we found you!” Izzy said. “We thought you disappeared.”

Mira didn’t say anything. Didn’t even look up.

“Uhm.” Lauren hesitated. “Everything’s okay. Nothing to be upset over, but…“ She smiled nervously. “Was it your necklace that – “

Her necklace. Her stupid necklace. Hers. That was when Mira broke down. She brought her hand up and hit herself over the head.

“I’m stupid, I’m stupid, I’m so stupid!”

Her friends just stood there. Lauren stared looking around aimlessly. Izzy braced her hands over her head, teeth clenched. Izzy spoke, telling Mira not to hurt herself. It wasn’t just Mira though. It was everything. Whenever she sneezed and it left a mark; Joey Williams, who had a crush on Izzy and always stole the seat next to her on the bus; her dog allergies; her father stomping. Everything she hated, every little inkling, she took and blamed it all on her, and she transferred that hate from her mind to her palm and brought it cracking against the side of her head. And she kept hitting herself, until she felt whoozy, until she learned her lesson, until Lauren grabbed her wrist and held her back. There's some definite issues in this whole paragraph with attribution. On a second read, I guess it's Mira's head Izzy puts her hands over, to keep Mira from hurting herself? It doesn't read that clearly enough, so I originally thought Izzy was guarding her own head for some reason. And then I thought that we were now in Izzy's POV, where she for some reason is blaming Mira. By the end, again, it becomes clear what's happening, but up to that point it feels very muddled.

“You’re scaring me, Mira.”

Mira wanted to slap Lauren but when all of the stars went away she notice that Lauren was crying. She felt bad because she didn’t want to make Lauren cry. It was Mira’s fault she was crying because everything was Mira’s fault. She stared down at the floor like an idiot, the kind of idiot who sets fire to someone’s house while making tea. This is some pretty blunt, unsubtle writing. I'm talking "Robot Devil yelling at Fry" kind of blunt unsubtlety, and it's making me angry.

“I’m sorry.”

“About what?” asked Izzy.

“Almost set your house on fire. Ruined your necklace. I’m sorry.” I got the impression that Mira had made the necklace, from the earlier passage on how Lauren had taught her how to make them. So did Izzy do it? Or Lauren? Or was it actually Mira? Who made this necklace, because at this point I am beginning to suspect Sir Fuzzles out of desperation.

“It was just a silly bunch of grass. Everything’s fine!”

“I walked away.” Mira’s voice turned hollow. “I shouldn’t have walked away. I’m sorry.” "I walked away" just seems so weird. Like, she actually ran away and threw a tantrum on the lawn, but let that go. It doesn't feel genuine to me, her saying this. It feels like an adult putting words in a kid's mouth, which is what's actually going on in a meta way.

Izzy stopped talking, and she looked at Lauren. Lauren clasped her hands like a squirrel hoarding nuts. Izzy’s hands were on her hips. They both looked unsure. Mira could smell the smoke from outside, metal, cinder and regret and it made Mira want to throw up. Jesus, metal and cinder? What the gently caress, was this daisy chain soaked in jet fuel? Throw in the smell of smouldering timber, while you're at it. Burn that house to the ground!

Mira stood there, staring at the floor. Every once in awhile she would look up, just to make sure they were still looking at her. Lauren was ready to ask, but Mira cut her off at the pass.
“My mom left.”

Lauren blinked. Izzy seemed to understand but Lauren was always slow. “She left? Did she go on vacation or something?”

“No,” Mira said. “I – I dunno! Last week I woke up and she was gone. Dad told me she left.”

Izzy frowned. “Jeez Mira, I’m so so -“

“I’m not finished.” Mira said. Mira's kind of a bitch here.

Izzy closed her mouth. Noth she and Lauren nodded. They didn’t see anything else. Mira sighed.

“Mom and Dad were yelling last weekend. They’ve been doing that a lot. I didn’t tell you guys because I wasn’t…” She breathed. “Dad came into my room and he asked me if I wanted to come live with him. He just stared at me, waiting, and I didn’t answer,” snot billowed out of her nose and into her mouth, Oh, she's suddenly crying so hard that she's snotting everywhere. This came suddenly out of the blue, because she actually seemed pretty composed up to this point. “and mom told him to leave me alone,” she remembered how she curled up into a ball in the corner, her parents looming over her like trees, ”I wanted them to stop but they wouldn’t listen, and,” she shut her eyes and choked on air “he asked me if I loved him more and I said yes and I,” it was all her fault, all her fault, all her fault, “and my mom, she – “ Way too many pauses in Mira's monologue. I get you're trying to cut her emotions into this, to show where her thoughts are as she's talking, but it becomes too much and overwhelms the pure message here. I think this would be more effective if you just vomitted the whole burst out in one single block of unbroken monologue.

Lauren hugged Mira so tight it pushed out what little air was in her lungs. Izzy joined in, and they held Mira in one big hug pile that crushed the burning in her chest. Mira stopped talking after that, because the hug pile has strangled her, I guess, pressing her nose against Izzy’s shoulder despite the snot. Lauren kept telling that she loved her, Izzy kept telling her everything was going to be okay. Mira believed them.

It couldn’t have been longer than a half hour but to Mira it felt like centuries before she spoke.

“I love you guys.”

“We know.” Lauren said.

Izzy patted her shoulder. “You the best, Mira. Anyone who tells you otherwise is a jerk.” Who at any point in this story said Mira's a jerk or a lovely person? I know she thinks that of herself, but she doesn't express that to her friends, so why would they think that?

“Yeah!” Lauren grinned. “Your dad’s a jerk too!”

Izzy shot Lauren a mean look. Mira didn’t mind. In fact, it made Mira smile. She even laughed. She laughed so hard that it hurt! It was the funniest thing she’d heard in her entire life! Lauren started laughing, and soon enough Izzy joined in! hahaha catharsis for some reason, perhaps Spock called something logical, hahaha And there they were, three sixth graders giggling up a storm in somebody’s backyard at noon on a school day. I wish you'd said how old they were earlier, I kept flip-flopping my estimation of their ages as the story went on. Were they college girls playing Disney Princess Pretend in a weird ironic fashion? Were they high schoolers? I couldn't tell. Maybe I'm not familiar enough with eleven-year-old girls. Despite the tears, it was one of the best days of Mira’s life.

My biggest issue was these characters didn't necessarily read to me as eleven-year-olds. They seemed too mature in their understandings and grasps of concepts, while also being simultaneously thick as lead about it. Lauren's the worst one, because she's just stupid as poo poo the whole time, like a braying donkey hee-hawing off to the side. Izzy's the brain, Lauren's the black hole of anti-intelligence, and Mira is our self-harming central focus. But what were their throughlines? I would have preferred if Izzy, the smart one, didn't get the seperation and it was Lauren who understood first, because she's been through it herself. That would at least give each character something to shine by.

Your action descriptions are muddled and vague. Several times I didn't know who was doing what, and more than once it felt like you didn't even know, like with the necklace.

Conversely, you can be overly blunt and obvious with things. "Mira wanted to slap Lauren but when all of the stars went away she notice that Lauren was crying. She felt bad because she didn’t want to make Lauren cry. It was Mira’s fault she was crying because everything was Mira’s fault." is slapping me in the face like I am a dumbass who does not comprehend emotions. This is some Dick And Jane level prose, Phobia. You're better than this.

Ultimately, you told a story which took too long to get to the meat of Mira's turmoil, at which point the emotions of the characters were too dimly explored to be very interesting to me. Mira felt like a pinball, her emotions being at certain places not out of a logical progression but because you wanted her to be there purely by fiat. Yeah, her mom's R-U-N-O-F-T, but other than my own personal sympathy of "yeah, being from a broken home sure can suck", I don't know why this is really a problem for her. Maybe mommy's a broke-down alchie, maybe she was a really awesome mom who made spicy turkey meatballs on Thursdays. We don't know. My point is that Mira's mom is an important character to this story, and her new absence from Mira's life lacks any definition beyond "parents splitting up est mal." Consider Luke Skywalker in Star Wars; who he thinks his supposedly dead father is informs who he is and the actions he takes. Though we never meet Anakin himself until much later, we feel we "know" who Anakin must have been.

There's still one cabin left in the 7:30 Blade_of_criticism express, wastelanders. Please have your tickets ready and proceed to your assigned seating.

Some Guy TT
Aug 30, 2011

My crit is in the relevant thread (Samara).

A Gift For Mother (1160 words)

Larry's mother had gone on and on about how he had to be careful traveling to the mountains between Iran and Afghanistan, and wouldn't it be better if he just came home for Thanksgiving instead of doing dangerous stuff like that. Well, Larry had told her this was the only extended vacation period he was getting this year, and he had to go out and do exotic adventures while he was still young.

Besides, it was several years ago that Americans had been captured by Iran in this area, and that was just a bad trail. Larry had done meticulous research and would be traveling only in a zone with an excellent reputation for cooperation with American forces, mostly because it was so isolated. They had had little to no contact with Al-Qaeda, Iran, or even the Russians way back when. They were a blank slate, empty of all the cultural problems that characterized the region, with a strong emphasis and understanding of American freedom. There was no possible way he could get captured by any hostile element. Slowly but surely, the American reputation in this region was improving.

Well, he didn’t actually say the last part. If he was ditching his family for Thanksgiving getting into a political argument first would sort of defeat the purpose.

All of this took on a very different context in the present. Larry had been tasered, blindfolded, and locked in a dark interrogation room by forces unknown. He wasn’t even sure how it had happened. What’s worse, Larry had realized with some trepidation that he'd been bound with adhesive tape, both on his head and his hands behind the chair. When Larry's sight had been violently restored, he screamed from the loss of skin.

"loving Yankee huh what you talking bout?"

Larry had trouble adjusting to the bright light of the room. What would his mother say…I told you so, most likely. Larry took one look at the dark mean face of his interrogator, sitting in the opposite chair with a bad attitude, and realized this was serious.

"I don't know anything," Larry said quickly. "I'm just a civilian, on vacation-"

Larry felt another violent shock as the interrogator smacked him hard with a backhand, knocking both Larry and his chair to the hard ground. Larry gave out a violent cough and winced as the interrogator drew near. Then with an almost gingerly touch, the uniformed man carefully picked Larry up and set him back in place, almost sounding friendly.

"No trouble, Yankee. Just question. Cowboy actor political guy, you know?"

Larry's first reaction would have been "what", but he was still smarting from the last backhand. He carefully considered his answer.

"...Ronald Reagan?"

And then another violent attack, this time a kick to the seat of the chair, knocking Larry straight upward and falling right on his head. Larry suddenly realized he was wearing a helmet. A reasonable precaution, given that this probably could have killed him. The interrogator stepped forward and put his foot on Larry's neck.

"Don't say loving name Yankee poo poo! I dumb sand friend of the family? Reagan shithead! Gotcha!?"

Once again the interrogator's attitude underwent a sudden reversal as he picked Larry's chair up, dusted him off, and put Larry back in the original position, all with a friendly smile on his face. This quickly disappeared. Larry wondered why he hadn’t listened to his mother.

"Not dead white man!" the interrogator screamed. "Live white man! Like this!"

The interrogator picked up his own chair and set it down in front of him. He stared intensely at the chair, as if there was a person in it.

"You bad President Obama! You shameful President Obama! I am America, gently caress you!"

Larry squinted, perplexed. That had to be have been some sort of hallucination. Then the interrogator turned back and Larry quickly fell in to line.

"Clint Eastwood! His name's Clint Eastwood!"

The interrogator snapped his fingers and smiled.

"Dumb name! Like all Americans! I know good now!"

Then it turned into another grimace as the interrogator got straight up into Larry's face. He was practically spitting.

"Clint Eastwood movie with monkey. He fight lot of guy. Very funny!"

Larry wracked his brain. Oddly enough that wasn't very helpful. He winced, expecting another strike, but the interrogator himself had apparently reached the same conclusion.

"Weird name. My English not good. But this name not real English. Except American make it good English? I no understand. Why I no remember. Why I need beat up loving Yankee to find name."

The interrogator turned around and sighed. He then turned back again.

"Like, Every What Win She Can't? Any Where Wall You Won't? Only Why Wax He Don't? Slowly Whichever Way Dad Pants? Likely Wherefore Wall I Rant?"

Larry understood that this was, in fact, total gibberish. He also realized that even though it was gibberish he now understood what the interrogator was looking for.

"It's Any Which Way You Can. That's the movie's name," he said, hoping he wasn't confusing it with Every Which Way But Where.

The interrogator snapped his fingers and gave out a loud holler. Larry looked hopefully at his still tied up hands, and dared to speak. His mother always said, press the advantage…

"...Can I go now?"

And just like that the interrogator's attitude took another sharp turn. He karate chopped Larry in the stomach. The chair didn't fall down initially, but Larry was swaying so much in pain that it happened anyway.

"Oh! Sorry Yankee," the interrogator said, hurriedly untying Larry's hand, slowly removing the adhesive so it didn't hurt that much. "That time you no fall down. I am bad cop."

Larry stood up slowly as the interrogator walked him to the door. Once outside, Larry realized that far from a military complex, this just looked like a random closed off shack in the middle of nowhere, with maybe the weakest outlines of a nearby town.

"You're really just letting me go?" said Larry. "You're not turning me in to the Revolutionary Guard?"

"What you talking bout?" said the interrogator. "This Afghanistan."

"Huh?" said Larry. "Then why did you beat me up?"

"I had question," said the interrogator. "loving Yankees never come out here. I never practice good English! Mommy want to see old movie. Not know name good. Sad. So I make new American friend today!"

"Friend!?" cried Larry. "I thought you were going to kill me!"

"What?" said the interrogator, aghast. "No! This what American do. American have question they do this! We think strange, but, we respect America. Is this no American way?"

Larry looked the interrogator up and down. He looked genuinely hurt. Larry sighed. Of all the dumb guilt trips. Larry thought he could at least get a good story out of this, but there was no way his bleeding heart mother would ever let him live it down.

"Is there a phone I can use?"

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

sebmojo posted:

you must crit a previous thunderdome story and post it in the thread before submissions close on sunday

Some Guy TT posted:

My crit is in the relevant thread (Samara).

Aug 2, 2002

newtestleper posted:

this story was really "bottom of the barrell" ha ha ha

Yeah why was my story the only one to not get a crit :mad: thank you for bringing my attention to this great injustice.

Entenzahn posted:

wrong opinions on Nazi Family Dramas

Thank you, kind sir. I guess you won't be wanting to read my novel "Dr. Mengele's Family Practice"


A Thunder in the Canyon
1200 words

crabrock fucked around with this message at 06:33 on Oct 28, 2014

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014

Space Cowboys 1003 Words.

In a classroom beneath the shadow of Olympus Mons, nine-year-old Jannik Persson gave his end of the semester presentation. His throat was dry--and his voice as coarse--as the rusted soil outside the hab-dome.

“Hello, Everyone.” Jannik read from a tablet which he clutched in his sweaty hands. He spoke to the floor. “My name is Jannik Persson. My student number is eight-four-six-four-eight-nine. Today I am going to tell you some int-er, some facts about space cowboys. Did you, know, that space cowboys are named after...after...cowboys from Earth? Yes, cowboys on Earth herded cows in Spain and in the western parts of America and Mezzz--mezz-meksss--MEXICO. Why did they herd cows? Because before milk and cheese could be synth-i-ssss, could be synth-ee-sssiiz…synth-i-ssizzz…” Jannik bobbed his head back and forth, buzzing ‘s’ and ‘z’ like a snake and a bee respectively.

Jeter chuckled from the back of the classroom, but Mr. Tebaldi, the coolest teacher on Mars, pulled out his force-pulse laser and popped off a shot at Jeter’s desk. The shockwave hit the desk just hard enough to tip it ever so slightly, and Jeter’s significant bulk was justtttt enough for him to topple over.

“I couldn’t do that back on Earth,” Mr. Tebaldi quipped, “Earth’s gravity is more than twice that of Mars. Also the laws regarding corporal punishment are quite restrictive.” Tebaldi said as he slung his feet up onto his desk. “Jannik, let me see your tablet.”

Jannik, face red, shuffled toward Tebaldi’s desk and handed him the tablet. Tebaldi threw the tablet against the wall, and it shattered into pieces. “Now that works on Mars, as even in reduced gravity mass never changes, and remember that force equals mass times acceleration.” He faced Jannik, “Now, Jannik, I didn’t just smash your tablet to show how cavalier I can be or to teach the class about Newton’s Laws.”

“My tablet…why?” Jannik whispered. He didn’t dare look up.

“Do you love space cowboys?” Tebaldi asked Jannik?

“Yeah...they are so cool. I wish I could be one,” Jannik said, voice slightly louder.

Tebaldi pulled his legs off his desk and slid his chair across the floor until it was right in front of Yannik. He spun it around, then sat down in it backward. This was getting serious.

“So tell me--and speak up--why do you want to be a space cowboy?”

Yannik thought for a moment, still afraid to raise his eyes.

“Because,” he started, “because they,”
“Don’t just tell me! Tell the class!” Tebaldi pointed toward Yannik’s classmates. Jeter didn’t make a sound.

“I want to be a space cowboy because they are so cool. My grandpa was one, and even though he died before I was born, my mom talks about him all the time and I feel like I know him.”

Tebaldi smirked and nodded. “What kind of rig did your grandpa use?”

“It was really big and awesome and it had four arms. The arms used hydro-leak pisters to get really strong and bend big giant pieces of nanocarbs. My grandpa even got my great-uncle to paint a naked lady onto the side of the ship.”

Everyone laughed, and since Mr. Tebaldi was so cool, he laughed too instead of making Jannik get in trouble.

“My Grandpa helped build the Montana hab, so they called him Montana Peter. Space cowboys don’t like to have bosses, I never want to have a boss cause I don’t like being all bossed around,” Jannik’s eyes flashed toward Jeter, “but my Grandpa was kind of like a bossa the other cowboys ‘cause he was so good at getting the asteroids near the hab without wrecking it that he’d help all the other ones out and they just listened to him ‘cause of that. He wasn’t mean or bossy though. Everyone looked up to him, just like I do.”

“Ha!” Jeter yelled, “Your daddy, Poor Per Petersson, he ain’t even got a job! No wonder you gotta look up to your gramps!”

Everyone froze, waiting.

Tebaldi handed Jannik his force-pulse laser. “You show a bully you won’t take it, and they’ll leave you alone.”

Jannik raised the force-pulse laser to Jeter’s fat face.

“Or,” Mr. Tebaldi said, just before Jannik pulled the trigger, “If it were your Grandpa, do you think he would find another way?”

Jannik lowered the laser. Mr. Tebaldi never wanted him to shoot Jannik, and it’s the last thing his Grandpa, a real space cowboy, would have done.

“Ha!” Jeter continued laughing. “I knew you didn’t have it in you. Can’t even work a laser, you’ll never be a space cowboy!”

Jannik walked across the room to face Jeter. Man-to-man. With each step his legs turned to jello, but he thought of his grandpa--tough as nails--to keep himself moving forward. Time slowed to nothing: twelve seconds felt like twelve parsecs, but Jannik didn’t stop until he was face to face with Jeter.

“You gonna punch me?”

“No,” Jannik said, “I’m going to be your friend.” Jannik held out his hand, and though Jeter didn’t react right away, soon enough they shook hands.


Jannik and Jeter stood solemnly as Mr. Tebaldi’s younger brother read his eulogy. As the coffin was lowered into the Martian soil on the foothills of Olympus Mons, a young boy tapped Jannik on the leg.

“Mister? Are you two space cowboys?”

“We sure are, how did you know?”

“Well, I saw you had the triangle hat that space cowboys always wear, and also you have so many cool patches all over your jackets.”

Jannik looked down at his patches, they all signified different habs he had helped construct. He and Jeter had all the same patches, as they always worked together.

“Very observant of you,” Jannik said.

“Yes,” Jeter nodded. “A sharp young man.”

“What are space cowboys doing at my grandpa’s funeral?” The boy asked. “Did you know my grandpa?”

“Let me tell you a story about your gramps,” Jannik said, “It all started when I was about your age…”

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)

A Private Operation
1183 words

I was in the jeep, poring over the map, when Jimmy came running.

"You gotta see this, Sarge."

"Did we find the treasure?" I said.

Jimmy shrugged. "You might want to see it for yourself."

We've been toiling away in this abandoned mine for hours. A Japanese prisoner back at base sketched the map for me, after I had given him the last of my bourbon. I had asked why he would help the enemy, and he answered:

"All I want is revenge on Yamashita. He is taking his treasure back, but not his men."

Yamashita's treasure was the biggest rumor in the Pacific front. The general had stashed a bunch of gold in the Philippines, but ran back to the homeland when their campaign turned south. He had been ferrying the treasure back until American naval superiority kept the rest inland.

We were winning our war of liberation. Why pass the chance to live like kings? We weren't paid enough to fight and die for someone else's country. That night I got my squad together and rode out in four jeeps for a "reconnaissance mission", bringing pickaxes and shovels along. Nobody asked too many questions. It was only a matter of time until Japanese presence would be stamped out.

Jimmy led me down the shaft where the rest of the boys were working on. At the end was a frightened young Filipino man in rags, his bare arms covered in lashes.

"We found him hiding in here," Jimmy said, derision plainly marking his face.

"You speak English?" I asked the local. We practically ran the country until the Japanese bombed us out, but it didn't hurt to calm the man down.

"Please," the man squeaked. "They'll kill me."

"Slow down," I said. "Who's going to kill you?"

"The Japanese! They're forcing us to work in the mines to retrieve the treasure. Most of it's gone now, but they wouldn't stop!"

"So Yamashita's treasure must still be here," I said. A hush fell among my squad.

I took a piece of paper from my breast pocket and showed it to the man. "Does this look familiar?"

"It's a map of the mine, but..."


"Most of the treasure's been found. We're down to the last few ones. I heard there's a map in the officer's tent drawn by Yamashita himself, and they've been circling the places that are still supposed to contain something."

Jimmy drew close. "What about the Golden Buddha? Has it been dug up yet?"

"I've never seen it, so it's probably still here," the Filipino said. "Please help us. More are being abducted to work here."

I didn't really care for the plight of the locals, but I put on a sympathetic face. Left to our own devices, it would take us days to scour every section, and we didn't bring supplies.

"Where is the Japanese camp?" I asked.


The camp turned out to be on the other side of the mine. The Japanese weren't expecting an attack coming from inside the tunnel--our four jeeps burst through without any resistance. We whooped and yelled and made as much noise as we could to make our paltry squad seem bigger than it was. Many enemy soldiers were dazed to see us; we gunned them down before they had the chance to grab their weapons. Most fled--Yamashita's greed had shot the vaunted Japanese fanaticism to hell. None of them wanted to be here.

Owen blew up the supply cache, which created a sky-high torch of flame, blinding in the night.

"Hit their transports!" I yelled. We drove by the parked half-tracks and lobbed grenades at them, crippling their tracks and destroying some outright. I gave the order to scatter and distract the enemy while I searched for the officers' tent.

I didn't have to look hard. It was the largest tent, bearing the flag of the Imperial Japanese Army. The tent flap fluttered like a ghost. I jumped down with my Thompson, letting Stan keep the enemy at bay with controlled bursts from the mounted .30 cal. I looked for the map of the mine, and it was pinned to a board, bearing a gold crest. Important sections were circled, while some were blacked out. I put it in my breast pocket.

I jumped back in the jeep. "I got the map! Withdraw!" I radioed.

We doubled back to the mine in single file. Most of the enemy soldiers had gone, the last pockets of resistance vainly firing their rifles.

I heard the rumble of a tank engine to our left.

Flattening a tent, the tank smashed against the jeep, plowing it like a toy. The front-mounted machine gun burped for a good measure, and the jeep exploded.

Blocking our path, the tank swiveled its turret towards us.

"The bazooka!" I called to Stan. He passed me the rocket launcher. I hefted it on my shoulder, stood up, and sighted. We were too close. "Back! Back!"

Jimmy reversed the jeep. The tank fired too soon, the shell missing us by a good yard. Mud splashed on my entire right side. Jimmy slammed on the brake, and I fired after correcting my aim. The rocket-propelled grenade penetrated the armor plating and took out the tank with such force that the hatch blew out like a cork.

"Nice shot, Sarge!" Stan said.

"Tanks don't work alone--" I began, when another one rolled in front of us, bulldozing the wreckage away. The difference was that it already had its cannon trained at us, and I didn't have a reload.

There was a thump, and I found myself on the ground, the heavens spinning above me. My ears rang and my head pounded. I saw a severed hand right beside my face. At first I thought it was my own, until I noted the few golden hairs on it. It was Jimmy's.

I didn't want to think about Stan. I lifted my head and stared at the tank's machine gun barrel leering at me.

The turret staggered. The whole tank staggered. There was a shell embedded at its side, like a boxer whose head had caved in from a crushing left hook.

Then it exploded.


Stan didn't make it. They found him in three pieces, I was told. Only three out of my squad survived: Owen, Barry, and John. They filled me in on the details after--while we were conducting our private operation, Captain Wilson had already deployed a force to raid the Japanese camp. The commotion in the camp prompted him to send his Shermans forward, which easily took out the rest of the Japanese tanks. The Filipinos were rescued and sent back to their villages.

Back in my bunk, I carefully put the medal away. It felt like a millstone around my neck. I took a piece of paper out of my breast pocket.

Yamashita's map had survived the ordeal without a scratch. I unfolded it, and tried to etch its contents into my brain. But I couldn't. So I took my lighter and burned it, until my own fingers burned, too.

Mar 21, 2013


Grimey Drawer


The Worm

He called himself The Worm because he had no arms or legs, but everyone agreed he had a handsome face. He made the most of it. His hair was fashionably swept across his forehead, curling around his ears and tickling his collar. His teeth were brushed each day to an unusual brilliance by a clever and expensive machine. His nose was wiped and drying solutions squirted up it to prevent snot encrusting his nostrils as the day progressed. He even had tailored clothes that flattered his face, designed to lead the casual observer away from what remained of his body and up into his shining blue eyes.

Jenna liked to think that she was his friend. Sometimes he would call her up on his special phone and coax her into going to the park with him. Jenna, who flattered herself that she was a pretty girl, who had once modelled t-shirts for a Woolworths catalogue, believed he enjoyed being seen with her, perhaps even more than he enjoyed getting out of his apartment. She’d park his wheelchair near a park bench and they would discussed the fashion shortcomings of their fellow park-goers.

“Look at them,” he said once, just out of earshot of a couple going for an afternoon walk hand in hand. “He’s way too good-looking to be going with a guttersnipe like her. But check out her shoes, her bag! Not knock-offs. She must be rolling in it.”

Jenna’s friends called him The Worm, because he could be a sensitive listener, but one who who kept no secrets. His beatific face would be rapt with attention for as long an audience was needed. If the tale was particularly fraught, or sad, or involved animals, his eyes might soften and mist as you talked. But once your heart was unburdened, once you’d awkwardly embraced him in thanks for his time and his compassion, once you’d turned away from him and back towards your life, then he would consider the information free to do with as he chose.

Jenna liked to think that she had forgiven him those acts. Once he somehow discovered the phone number of a short-lived boyfriend of hers. The Worm had rung the boy up out of the blue, and told him all about her tears, and her misgivings and her self-hatred. She’d found out the next morning via a confused email from the boyfriend, asking if she had some psycho ex that perhaps she might have mentioned earlier, and that, all things considered, it would be better if she lost his email address.

“I just wanted him to know what he’d done to you,” he said, blue eyes sparkling when she confronted him. “He shouldn’t be able to stuff around with you like that. Maybe he’ll learn from it, not be such a douche to the next girl. But you’re well shot of the bastard.”

People living in the same council estate called him The Worm because of his terrible addiction to prostitutes, and his delight in regaling anyone who would listen about the things they would do to his eternally flaccid penis. He’d rent them, two or three at a time, and keep them waiting for ages as he made his way to unlock the door, to maximise the chance of everyone else in the building seeing them. Once inside they’d drink champagne and snort cocaine and then explore endless varieties of frottage.

Jenna liked to think he’d grow out of it, eventually. More than once she’d answered a call from him at a late hour, his visitors gone, his voice slurred and afraid. More than once she’d let herself in to his flat, picked him up off the floor and put him to bed, his head lolling and near unconsciousness, in a room smelling of puke and cheap perfume.

“I love you, Jenna,” he said one night, his bright blue eyes half-closed, trying to focus on her by squinting. “You’re a complete loving mess, but I love you. We should totally gently caress. C’mon. I’ll pay you a million bucks.”

Jenna called him The Worm because she’d always lived in the apartment next door, and had named him herself before he was a baby. She had been seven, still struggling with the birds and the bees and hadn’t quite got the concept of sperm right. The nickname had stuck to him as a wriggly baby, then a wriggly toddler, and then a wriggly small boy. He had climbed things, too, in those days, as much and as often as he was able.

Jenna liked to think that he’d grown accustomed to his situation, that he was making the best of it. It couldn’t be easy, she thought, being a young man with no arms or legs, who remembered what it was to be whole. She would picture him, years ago, climbing on the balcony across from hers while she and her friends were lying in the brief summer sun. “Come on, Worm,” she’d said once, taking another drink from the beer she’d stolen from her folks. “Bet you can’t jump across.”

The Worm hadn’t said anything. He’d just smiled and leapt and slipped and fallen four stories onto a pile of scrap metal, all edges and points. The ambulance men believed he was lucky to be alive but no-one who saw him land was ever quite convinced that was true. His parents had sued the council that owned the estate and won a couple of million. By the time The Worm came into his majority, his parents were recently dead at the hands of a drunk driver, but they had carefully grown what was left into several million more .

The nameplate beside his apartment door called the occupant “The Worm”. He’d stayed in the same apartment he was born in, and claimed the thought of shifting had never even entered his mind. He loved the estate, the familiar faces, the sense of community.

Jenna liked to think he’d leave one day, that he’d break his old habits and move on to do more with his life than hookers and blow. When he did, she thought, she’d move too, maybe take a course at some college somewhere, travel off the estate. She’d finally cash the cheque she kept in the locked box in her dresser.

“1,000,000 dollars 00 cents,” it read in the squiggle of a pen held by mouth. It was signed, almost legibly, “James Arden,” and beneath it, between writhing parentheses, “The Worm.”

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Bowing out, my apologies.

Would rather not submit than submit slapdash or halfassed.

also I watched the movie and it was shite


anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool

Cops and Robbers - 1189 words

Dust crackled at the windshield, the motor hummed a tune I didn’t know the lyrics to. David was in the back seat covered in an old blanket with a duffel for a pillow. My fingers slipped through some ash as they found the lighter. I pulled it up and lit my cigarette at the stop sign. My lungs filled with the richest feeling I’d had in decades, what was once worth two cases of Top Ramen. The bottom of my heel pressed the gas, gently, I didn’t want to wake the kid after all.

We made it through the fine town of wherever we were between Mexico. We slipped into a city of husks and stalks along the way. More corn than cows, and more cows than folk. The new signs pointed to places I had never heard of. Fernston, Aaronpoint. The tedium of the scenery gave me an itchy finger. I flipped the radio on.

-7 days ago. White male, 40, 6’2”, no visible scars or tattoos. If you see any suspicious behavior, please call the-


And so I said goodbye, the roadside waved, I kissed the sky, my new road paved.

An old folk tune with the same four chords they all seemed to have these days. It made me miss the good music from when I was a kid.

The orange of sky started to bleed into purple. My shoulders pushed back against the seat, and I put both hands on the wheel.

“Hey, Butch?” David said from the back seat, a yawn followed. “It’s been two days since you promised. Can you get me a comic at the next gas station?”

“Sure thing, I need some cigarettes anyway,” I kept my eyes firmly on the road.

“It smells like smoke back here. Mrs. Jackson told me smoking is bad,” David sat up and rubbed his eyes.

“Well, so is driving without a seatbelt. C’mon kid, put it on,” I rolled down the window.

“Are you sure you know where you’re going?” the buckle snapped.



The smell of poo poo and cut grass made me forget about the crickets. Sometimes the wood of the barn would creak in breeze. David was reading a comic in a thin beam of moonlight. I leaned up against the wall with the jacket I found in the trunk. It didn’t fit me, and made for bad pillow, and a worse blanket.

David had been chatting every so often. I would just nod and agree. He went on about the comic he was reading. The cover had a policeman chasing a man in a black mask. He kept repeating the plot, and would interrupt himself with an “are you listening?” I nodded and ignored him. I thought about what I was going to do with him; leave him someplace safe if I made it to Mexico? He was probably my last line of defense if I got caught. He would be a hostage. I hoped it would never come to that, enough went wrong already.

Simon was never good news from the get go. 12 years for some real hosed up poo poo, not even the pastor would look him in the eye. Didn’t know what kind of hosed up until we found David in the back of the car and we tried to get some rest in a parking lot. Now he’s got horseflies, mud, and an old tire for bunkmates instead.

“Hey Butch…” the boy turned a page with a shaking hand. “I’ve been afraid to ask, but why did you shoot the other man you were with?”

“He was a bad man, he tried to hurt you. I wouldn’t do that,” I turned my shoulder away from David, trying to get some sleep.

“You hurt him though, with that gun. He’s dead, isn’t he?”

“Sometimes you’ve got to hurt one person to save others.”

“That doesn’t seem very fair.”

“It isn’t. When I did it to Simon, well, it wasn’t going to be fair to you, or it wasn’t going to be fair to him. Only difference is you weren’t the one who was bad.”

David clutched his blanket and tried to read the comic for the fifth time tonight. He fell asleep instead.

I turned and looked up at the ceiling, my eyes fell.


When people talk about the severity of pain, after an accident or after surgery, I hadn’t believed them until now. That wasn’t the part that woke me up though, as the sound had left me rather deaf. I didn’t even hear my stolen gun hit dirt. I could lip read the sorry from David, though. He ran off and, despite the metal in my gut, I followed him. My torso wanted to move slower than the rest of me, on account of kidney feeling like it had been ripped out.

Sirens replaced the ring of my ear. A couple miles off or so, I reckoned.

David darted out of the barn and moved through the ocean of stalks. I pushed through the tall fields before a cob corned me in the face. My toe caught a rock and I fell. When you scratch your knee and twist your ankle, you tend not to notice it; at least not when you’ve got a gut ache worse than the kind you get from eating meatloaf made by the fine folk of cell 41F. In retrospect, I don’t know why I did it, why I chased after the boy like he had an answer of some sort. Maybe he would reason with me, help me get away. Or maybe I’d get some medical help from the police, join 41F, and make sure the meatloaf wasn’t so sickening.

Finally, after I shambled a bit further, I looked up. David was trembling in a tree. The leaves sounded like rattlesnakes when he moved a little forward, the branch shook beneath him.

“That’s dangerous, you know, that isn’t gonna hold if you move forward,” the words fell out of me like the vomit that wanted to.

“I’m not allowed to be near you.”

“You’re a smart kid, you know that? So I gotta ask, why’d you shoot me?” I patted the front of my pocket for the pack of cigarettes. I must have dropped it.

Sirens became louder, then stopped. The flash of red and blue flickered up on the far hill still, about twenty or so minutes away at a guess.

“You’re a bad man. Like in the comic.”

Every step forward hurts, really hurts. Oh well, just a couple more. There we go. Just a little turn on the good ankle, a little lower, and I’m sitting. My fingers are red, my shirt is stained. I look up, and the kid is there. He’s not smiling, but he doesn’t look sad either, just giving me a blank stare. Honestly, I can’t tell if he’s terrified or curious. Well, I figure I’m not going anywhere for at least a little while.

“Hey David, do me a favor,” I’m coughing and laughing in the same breath now. “Tell me how that comic ends again?”

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