This seems like a perfectly trainwrecky prompt to jump back in on, no idea what with though.
|# ? Dec 16, 2014 05:43|
|# ? May 17, 2022 04:36|
In, and I changed my mind once more. Let me at Of Mice and Men, please.
ZeBourgeoisie fucked around with this message at 01:23 on Dec 17, 2014
|# ? Dec 16, 2014 07:31|
Wait, so must be change the names? Are we allowed to write straight fanfic, so long as it's not terrible? This isn't entirely clear.
EDIT: gently caress it, IN with Discworld, I guess. Men at Arms, if I need to be more specific.
SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at 10:12 on Dec 16, 2014
|# ? Dec 16, 2014 09:50|
Wait, so must be change the names? Are we allowed to write straight fanfic, so long as it's not terrible? This isn't entirely clear.
Unless it is no longer under copyright you must change names
|# ? Dec 16, 2014 18:46|
High thunderpraise. Thanks!
This is nearly pretty decent,
|# ? Dec 16, 2014 18:50|
Not in this week (yet) but me and Muffin have agreed to a brawl. Someone judge.
|# ? Dec 17, 2014 01:17|
Ironic Muffins Brawl
I hereby pronounce a "Pretty Prose" brawl by way of Twist's suggestion in IRC.
I'm sure you're all familiar with the phrase "A man for all seasons." I'd like to see such a man (or woman) in a relationship through the seasons; spring, summer, autumn, winter. You can be as literal or figurative as you like, start wherever you like, but I expect a complete circuit through all four. The relationship is also up to you, be it family or friends or lovers or enemies.
Since this is a "Pretty prose" brawl, it goes without saying that style trumps substance, though don't think to yourself you can leave the latter out altogether. I want you to stir my emotions and capture my imagination, play to my senses and paint pictures on the backs of my eyelids.
You have one week (from today) and 2,000 words. Go get 'em, tiger.
EDIT: For clarification, Wikipedia defines a man for all seasons as "One who remains true to himself and his beliefs while adapting to all circumstances and times, despite external pressure or influence." It should go without saying your protagonist should reflect this.
Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 01:44 on Dec 17, 2014
|# ? Dec 17, 2014 01:38|
MERCBRAWL 6: THE SPAWNING - Jitzu and N. Senada's entry:
Raising Anchor (1376 words)
The skies were grey, the air salty, and the ship ripe for plunder. Aye, while crossing the gangplank we could almost smell the gold.
Me mate, Picaroon, bludgeoned the first man who came to meet us. At that, the bilge rats scampered over from ‘cross the deck, hollering and swinging cutlasses all. Me men made quick work of ‘em. There’s no band o’ better corsairs than me crew, not at swordplay, I can assure ye o’ that. They ran below deck to plunder the cargo, while I entered the captain’s quarters, Picaroon close behind.
That’s when we saw the woman. Must’a been a guest o’ whatever dead fop had captained the vessel. Aye, I ran ‘er through with me dirk. She’d come at me with a vase, aimed to smash me head in.
“—Don’t believe him! He thought the lass was a touch homely to bugger with, so he stabbed her while she cowered on the floor. Her arms were wrapped around a little girl.”
Picaroon! Ye ought to know better than to interrupt a man in the thick o’ telling a tale. Lads, I’ll speak it true. Picaroon be no less the rogue in death than he were in life. Now where was I?
Ah! The girl. She couldn’a seen more than five summers, that one. Didn’t cry over the mum. Sat mute, eyes like rich mahogany looking up at us. Aye, but she clung tight to the woman. Gave us trouble. We had to put our backs into pulling her in, so we named her “Anchor.”
“Captain, have you gone daft? You started calling her “Anchor” because you meant to drop her overboard.”
Arrg, if yer mem’ry ‘s sharp as ye be claiming, mayhaps these lads ought to hear ye tell the tale.
“I convinced the captain the girl would be more valuable to us alive. We’d press her into service and train her right. With time, Anchor would be a valuable addition to the crew. We never bothered to ask her true name. If we had, we might’ve been forewarned of the admiral.”
Aye. Carry on.
“No sooner did we take Anchor back to the ship, than we learned she was a natural. Didn’t matter what it was, she wanted to steal it. On the first day, she snuck into the hold and smuggled saltfish and jewels into her smallclothes.”
“As she grew, she trained as a corsair with the captain. For my part, I convinced him that the girl should learn her letters. I told him we could benefit from having a second crewman of education. Truth be told, I had ulterior motives. I wanted a reading companion, someone with whom to share my love of classics. I could not have asked for a better student. By eight, she could recite Horace. By ten, she could understand Horace. At thirteen, I showed her Catullus’s bawdiest poems, those banned by the academy. Not since my discharge from the Royal Navy had I debated the Iliad with so keen a mind. She revered Odysseus, though I maintained his Trojan Horse was bald treachery.”
“I grew close to the girl, began thinking of her as a daughter. But it was the captain who made her what she is today.”
Loved that girl, I did. Told ‘er aught I know about the pirate life: the best way to cheat at card play, the best way to throw a dagger, and the best way to please a woman. The secret’s in the wrist, all three. By eight she could outdrink half the crew. By ten she were swinging from ropes hung off the mast and landing ‘erself light as a feather. By thirteen she’d stabbed the first man that tried to bugger ‘er. Picaroon’s shade still bears the scar.
She were the finest member o’ the crew, even though the last day. We’d set sail from Barbados that morn. Anchor sat at the crow’s nest, counting coin and keeping watch. After noon, she called out to us. She’d spied a ship far off the bow, cutting its way through the mist. It bore the flag o’ the Royal Navy.
O’ case shot we had little. O’ grape shot, still less. Barbados had been tight on supply. We’d make little sport for the Navy’s warship. Still, I called for me men to prepare for battle.
A man aboard the vessel cupped his hands and shouted, though he were too distant to be heard. He wore a dark blue jacket with gold epaulettes hung off the shoulders. Grey hair stuck out from ‘neath his hat. Picaroon took the spy glass and muttered that he’d served under the man a lifetime ago: Admiral Pilling.
The warship pressed closer. Pilling came within earshot. “Avast, pirates. Barbados was quick to betray your heading. Though your works be wicked, I seek not to quarrel. I come for the girl with mahogany eyes: She whom you wrested from her mother’s bosom, she of whom you boast to islanders while under the tankard’s sway. My daughter.”
Anchor cried out to Pilling. “Take me with ye!”
Loved ‘er though I did, I knew I were no father to the girl. She were a crewman. Folly to treat ‘er different from any other. “The girl be yers,” I called to the admiral, “if ye swear upon aught which ye deem holy to grant the rest of us safe passage.”
With that, we maneuvered our vessels side-by-side and arranged the gangplank. Picaroon grew red--nay, purple. He stomped the deck and damned me if I gave up the girl. He told me it were a fool’s bargain and screamed he’d haunt me for it should he die first. I half expected outright mutiny.
“You should never have released Anchor to them, captain.”
Anchor called out to ‘er father and ran across the gangplank, arms open wide. She embraced Admiral Pilling. The girl smiled and spun the old man. She were so quick to the draw, the Navy sailors hadn’t the chance to react 'fore she held the dirk to his neck.
“Ye’ll lay down yer weapons each and let me crew board this ship. Else, I’ll slice his neck in twain,” she said to the Navy men. “Admiral!” they shouted, but Pilling bade them stay back. “Do as she says,” the admiral pleaded, his eyes watering. “Just don’t harm the girl.”
Aye, the Navy laid down their weapons and I boarded the warship with me crew. We bound the Navy sailors and fleeced 'em of arms. The warship were ours. Anchor opened ‘er blubbering father’s neck. The rest of us tossed the Navy sailors overboard. It were after that when things went sour.
“I’ll tell it, captain. We brought casks of rum to the deck in celebration of our victory. Anchor proposed a toast. She asked that our crew consider all the riches that the warship would help them to plunder. She asked that they think upon who was responsible for their sudden change of fortune. She mentioned that the captain had been prepared to acquiesce to the Navy, give her up, and sail on in an aging and near-toothless vessel. With that, she proclaimed herself the crew’s rightful leader and incited them to mutiny against their captain and myself.”
“Impudent wretch,” I yelled, and drew my mace. She smiled and threw her dirk. The point stuck me square in the neck. I don’t know how she hit me at that distance.”
It’s all in the wrist, Picaroon.
Aye, she gave the toast and the crew named her captain. They were all the more excited when she killed Picaroon. As for me, she spared my life. Called it a courtesy for the years o’ training. She bound me up for months and passed me onto ye lads when the ship made it to the Barbary Coast. So here I am, peeling potatoes for the likes of ye, while Picaroon lingers, reminding me what I lost at the hands o’ the girl.
“We raised her too well.”
She made an end to the both of us. But she were the best pirate I ever knew. I’ll spend the rest o’ my days peeling potatoes. But for raising Anchor, I couldn’t be any prouder.
|# ? Dec 17, 2014 01:58|
IN with The Winter Market by William (loving) Gibson
|# ? Dec 17, 2014 02:08|
In with The Hardy Boys
|# ? Dec 17, 2014 22:31|
Week 123 Crits Part 1
December Octopodes - Time Traveler's Bastard
The basic premise here is well-trodden to the point of cliche, and you don't end up doing anything to dig this story out of that particular hole.
The biggest issue is that roughly 80% of your story is dialogue, which means a bunch of cardboard cut-out characters talking exposition to each other. None of the characters feel like living, breathing people, and as a result it's very difficult to care about what happens to them.
The prose that you've got is competent - it gets the message across and there aren't any glaring mechanical errors. A stronger focus on telling the story through your prose instead of your dialogue would serve you well.
The entire chain of events feels contrived and needlessly complicated. Sam sleeping with Billy's wife within literally minutes of meeting her is eye-rolling, and then the whole time jump after he wakes up is left unexplained. The reader finishes up with more questions and answers, and not in a good way. Coupled with the lack of believable characters and the fact that this ends up being more of a generic sci-fi plot than anything surreal, this story left us wanting more.
ZeBourgeoisie - Steel Castles
The good news is that there is a narrative skeleton here - character, conflict, resolution. A surprising number of stories failed to deliver that this week. You've got some neat imagery and while the prose isn't particularly noteworthy, there's also nothing glaringly bad about it.
The issue is that it feels like you threw a few disparate ideas at that skeleton to see what stuck. The piece feels disjointed because there's nothing tethering it to reality. We just get a non-stop barrage of bizarre, and as a result nothing has room to breathe. For surrealism to be effective, there has to be some contrast between reality and un-reality.
The section with the dog is the strongest part of this piece, but it almost feels like a transplant from another story. You also have a few nice bits of prose-driven characterization, such as when the gel "smiles," but moments like that would be more effective if they were grounded in reality.
newtestleper - Cocoon
I liked this one more than the other judges did. I think you did a pretty good job of channeling surrealism here, and those surreal elements extend naturally from the realistic elements.
"Britches are another expense" made me smile, and that's a good example of building character with small brushstrokes.
You do have some issues with clunky prose here and there. “The egg timer ticked, magnetically fixed to our fine steel refrigerator" is a good example. The dialogue in the early half of the story also feels a bit "As you know...," but the tone you've established makes it more palatable than it normally would be.
I do think you added a few too many bizarre elements than were necessary. The baby being incredibly strong felt unconnected from any major themes / motifs, and the bit about doing taxes with the visor seemed more connected to the father than the child. Giving him money and gold ingots for his birthday was a bit too on-the-nose for me, as well.
I did like the ending; I read it as the baby rejecting the role his parents tried to force him into and forging his own path, symbolized by choosing art over a 9-5.
SurreptitiousMuffin - the watchers from on high
Surprising absolutely no one, you have some really nice prose. It was almost strong enough to earn you an HM.
What held you back in the eyes of the judges is that the story itself felt a bit hollow. It seems like you kind of reached for low-hanging fruit in terms of themes and ended up playing it a little safe. The Gee Men were a neat idea, and you way you depict them is a great bit of imagery, but they almost felt out of step with the rest of the story.
I really liked the concept of televisions broadcasting a person's fears and insecurities, and mixing them in with actual news was a good call.
I know you mentioned in irc that you weren't sure if this was too surreal or not surreal enough. For me, the best surreal moment is the bit with the televisions. It's literally projecting someone's subconscious into a conscious state. This is also why the Gee Men didn't quite work for me. They go from externalizing the protagonist's insecurities to being literal bogeymen. Then I'm left wondering why destroying a couple of televisions means the protag is free; it undermines the atmosphere of total technological oppression that you built up.
At the end of the day, this was still easily in the top 5 stories this week.
Roguelike - The Court of Last Resort
This one got pegged for the loser this week because nobody could figure out what was going on. (To be honest, we literally couldn't decide between your story and Paladinus' for loser, and spent probably two hours deliberating. But since Paladinus already has a lovely avatar, you ended up drawing the short straw.)
Like a few other entries this week, there's no reality ground the surreal elements of this story. Everything is just non-stop weird for weird's sake. It feels like there is a plot buried in this story, but none of the judges could figure it out because there's a giant wall of opaque jargon in the way. Maybe if I spent a bunch of time looking up all of the terminology it would make more sense, but there's nothing compelling enough to make me want to do devote the time and energy for something that might pay off.
As far as we could tell, the protagonist wins a game, then goes to the Grand Court, which appears to be like a playing card strip club, plays another game of some kind against the Queen, loses even though the way you write it makes it seem like he won, and gets thrown out. Then he talks about wanting to clean up the city. I just have no idea what any of it is supposed to be getting at. It's frustrating because there are faint glimmers of clarity where it's obvious that you can string words together in a pleasant way, but this particular piece just gets lost up its own rear end in a top hat.
Also, your prompt shows up as almost an afterthought. Our best guess is that the protag is allergic to losing, or perhaps to bad luck? Either way it has zero impact on the narrative.
Hammer Bro - Going Home
All of the judges enjoyed your clever take on the prompt. The story itself, however, ends up being too clever for its own good.
My last encounter with organic chemistry was an undergrad refresher course like 4 years ago, so some of this is probably lost on me. The protagonist is adenosine, who is trying to get home to his family, serotonin and endorphin (?) for taco night, but gets blocked by caffeine.
This story is kind of odd in that the basic premise isn't really surreal at all, but then you end up having these almost Kafkaesque moments where streets are springing up out of nowhere and the protagonist is dealing with seemingly nonsensical bureaucratic red tape and uncaring "caffs", all of which ends up being surreal in its own right.
The other issue is that, ignoring the fact that there are probably a bunch of interesting things going on with the different chemical interactions that just go over my head, all that's really left is a "guy tries to get somewhere, but he can't, and then he can" story. We get a little bit of motivation in the form of taco night with the family, but characterization is pretty sparse otherwise. Still, you do have characters and motivation and a narrative arc, which is enough to put you in the upper half of the pile this week.
blue squares - Ticket to the Fair
Along with Muffin, this was the other piece that the judges considered for an HM this week.
You gave us an actual story, a character that feels like a real person, and a nice dose of subtle surrealism framed by a totally plausible situation.
There are some issues, though. First things first: I know this piece is wearing it's DFW influence on its sleeve, but your opening line here is close enough to IJ's that it would be a problem if you actually published it. I know it's an homage, and thankfully it's only that single line, but you've definitely got to be careful about things like that.
Anyways, the other issue here is the prose: the overwrought style just isn't quite working, and it ends up having an effect on clarity. You dial it down as you go along, and I almost thought the shift in vocabulary was matching up with the character's transformation, but that doesn't quite seem to fit.
I'm glad you avoided making the guy grossed out by himself post-transformation, since it would have made the piece too mean-spirited. As is, it's a nice, kind of feel-good take, which is refreshing. The ending does feel a little rushed, though, like you let up on the gas just before the finish line.
Nice job overall. I think this is the best thing you've written so far.
More crits to come. I'm visiting family and poo poo this week, so expect crits to kind of trickle in for the next couple days, unless I get some unexpected spare time.
|# ? Dec 17, 2014 23:51|
Thank you kindly for the crit, GP!
|# ? Dec 18, 2014 02:41|
MERCBRAWL 6: THE SPAWNING
“I’ll light you up,” the hooded man said to me. He was cloaked in brown robes and a shadowy aura that burned like a phantom fire. His face was in the dark. He’d obviously been empowered, but I’d never seen him before.
The man swiped his arms across his chest and a tiny fireball exploded into my gut, hurling me back through the hallway. I rolled across the floor and slammed into the door frame to the playroom. I dove inside. The children were there, with Tammy. They’d heard the noise.
“Get out,” I said.
Her eyes darted around between me and the door. I pinched out a flame on my hair.
She nodded and quietly told the children to follow her as she headed for the playroom’s backdoor. She stopped.
“Toby’s missing,” she said.
“I’ll get him. Leave!”
The door slammed shut. I locked it.
I pulled my mask out of my pocket and put it on. My clothes went off, leaving only the spandex suit underneath, and three iron darts snapped to my belt.
I dashed into the nursery. The hooded figure stood hunched over Toby’s crib. A power sphere hovered by his side, the purple gelatinous mass dotted with pink clusters of whatever-the-gently caress-i-know. I’d been looking for that thing for weeks. I wanted to ask him where it’d been, but it wasn’t the right moment.
I touched my darts, speaking to the steel: Fly.
The hooded man had barely moved by the time I fired the first dart at him. It raced through the air at the speed of sound, directly into the man’s fireball.
I blindly lobbed another dart as I rolled myself out of harms way. The molten steel from my first shot still hung in the air. I forced it into shape and called it to me. It crashed into the back of the man’s head.
The impact rocked his body and sent the power sphere flying. He screamed. He reached out for the orb, and fire flew from his hand.
It hit the orb and exploded, a shower of purple gel raining down on Toby’s crib.
The fire from the explosion spread through the room, wooden frames and beams turned to cinder. Smoke filled the air. A wail rose from the crib.
I was done playing around.
Nuts and bolts from all around the room formed a fist mid-flight. It drove into the bastard like a hammer ramming a crooked nail into the wall. He went out the window, and that was that.
Toby thrashed around in his crib, covered in purple goo, a toddler barely old enough to use his feet exposed to that lovely mutant concotation. I cursed. He cried in my arms, tears wetting my suit as I put him close to my chest. We went out of the room together, out of the fire, and I lied to him that it was gonna be alright.
Back home I stumbled over unopened suitcases. It had been two weeks and Vincent still hadn’t unpacked. Lazy bastard.
Good thing he wasn’t around. He might have wondered what a spandex-clad weirdo was doing with some little kid in his house.
I took Toby up to the attic. Behind two decoy doors and a retina scanner lay my hidden lab. I’d mostly used it to test and dispose of power spheres, but now I reconfigured my equipment to check Toby’s vital signs. The activity meter peaked when I took measurements of his frontal lobes. Might’ve been telekinesis.
The cameras showed Vincent coming home. A lazy stoner with unkempt hair, the kind of guy who proudly proclaimed that he doesn’t like Christmas like it underlined his individuality.
But he paid his rent.
I took Toby down and broke the news to him.
“The orphanage burned down,” I said. “One of those crazy 'empowered' guys.”
He drew a breath, either concerned or acting like it. “poo poo. Was... anyone hurt?”
“No, but it's a wreck. I figured we could take one of those poor kids for a while. It's a bit sudden, but I really don't know what else to-”
He shrugged. “Hey man, it's your house. I don't mind kids.”
He minded kids very much. He was just the type. But I wanted Toby to stay with me. I couldn’t let him loose on the world with whatever powers he might develop, and more importantly, I couldn’t let the world loose on him.
I felt a little uneasy leaving the kid with Vincent, but I had to check the orphanage for clues, and after two days of close observation Toby hadn’t shown any signs of going mad or exploding with psychotic power and that meant he was probably in the clear, mostly.
The exiled orphanage management had decided it was best if life returned to normal ASAP. The kids had been found temporary foster homes, Toby had gone back to preschool and I had been running errands all day. It was evening by the time I stood in the orphanage’s charred ruins.
It was heart-breaking. Teddy-bears scorched and melted, the once colorful drawings on the walls reduced to charcoal sketches, a homely place that had been completely, utterly, irrevocably erased from existence.
I knew right then that I was going to catch this guy, no matter what.
The police had stripped the ruins clean for the most part. I went through the spots where I’d seen the hooded man. In the nursery I noticed the presence of a small piece of metal that wasn’t supposed to be here. It was easy to miss.
From under the loose, burnt-out tiles I fished a hairpin. I turned it between my fingers. It was translucent, black.
It reminded me of a hooded man, and his phantom fire.
I’d checked the hairpin, but it brought up nothing.
I’d gone back to the orphanage, day after day. Nothing.
I’d tested the hairpin some more. Asked around if anyone had heard of a hooded Empowered. Asked passersby if they’d burned down the orphanage. Because you never know.
I washed my face in the kitchen sink. I had no single lead. At least Toby was fine for all I knew. He’d spent a lot of time with Vincent. I hadn’t heard any complaints.
Hell, it was almost like they were getting along.
I dried my face, and as I did, I spotted a letter in the dustbin. It was addressed to 'the Legal Guardian'. Opened. Crumpled.
It was from Toby’s school.
“He used telekinesis on a schoolmate, for gently caress’s sake,” I said. “You have to tell me about this.”
“Why?” Vincent said.
“What do you mean, ‘why’?”
“Why tell you? You’re barely around anyway. I take care of him, so shouldn’t I decide how to deal with this?”
“Violence doesn't solve problems!” I said. And it didn’t.
But he had a point.
Vincent was obviously a bad influence and I’d left him alone with the kid all this time, chasing dead leads. I had to come back. I had to spend time with the kid.
When I’d first suggested going to the zoo, I’d thought Vincent was going to laugh in my face. I was glad he hadn’t. It felt good to spend a nice day out.
The zoo was full of color, the smell of roasted almonds and cotton candy. Toby loved it. He gaped up at giraffes, laughed at the monkeys, melted into the glass when the lions were getting fed. He was riding on Vincent’s shoulder, clearly enjoying his time, and that was worth a lot, even having my stoner roomie around.
The zoo held a donation raffle to fund the rebuilding of the orphanage. We bought a ticket each. The drawing ceremony bustled with people.
A colorful football was on display, and when the announcer called the number Toby squealed straight into my ear.
“You go, man,” Vincent said and winked. “My buddy and I will stay right here, huh?”
When I returned with the ball Toby looked like he wanted to absorb it. He clutched it and beamed at us, and then he said his first words.
“Ilite ya up!”
I forced a smile. “Big talker we have here! What did you just say?”
“Ilite ya up!”
I’ll light you up.
Vincent seemed to want to look comfortable just a bit too much. He casually ran a hand through his hair. Only now did I notice the hairpin.
It was hard to see otherwise, being translucent, black.
He let his hand sink when he realized where I looked. He knew. He knew I knew. I pulled down the collar of my shirt, showed him the burn marks. He nodded. I hoped he wouldn’t gently caress up right now and to his credit, he didn’t. Not in front of the kid, his eyes said.
“Proud of you,” I said through my teeth and ruffled Toby’s hair.
The drive home was quiet and about three times slower than it had to be. My heart beat in my throat, and it must have been the same for him. Really, we were just praying that nobody changed his mind about sucker-punching someone before the kid was asleep.
We ate dinner together. We made nice. We tucked the Toby in bed. I even stuck around when Vincent read the good-night story. He made the voices. I give him that too.
It must have been the best day of Toby’s life, which was just as well, because no matter what happened next, he wouldn’t like what he’d wake up to.
The air out front smelled fresh, like it had just rained. We just stood there and kinda looked at each other.
“Maybe--” Vincent began.
I threw the letterbox right at his face.
He turned past it, reached for it, and threw it back at me along with a fire beam that burst out from his fingertips. The fire zoomed past over my head, fizzling out some feet behind me. I dashed forward.
I grabbed the letterbox mid-air and stretched it into a large canvas as I ran towards Vincent. Flames burst over the edges of the shield. I lifted it up and grabbed for Vincent’s hairpin, piercing his neck. He twitched and I slammed the shield in his face. Once, twice. I leapt on him.
With an effort, he screamed, and an invisible shockwave hurled me through the air.
I hit the ground with the grace of a pregnant cow.
Vincent was above me. A flame flickered in his hand, and his eyes. I reached out for any metal I could find, pulled it inwards, anything to help me defend against the coming blow.
He took a deep breath. The fire went out.
“We can’t do this, man,” he said. “Think of the kid.”
I pelted him with darts and slammed the shield in his face. Within a second I elongated his hairpin around each of his wrists, fused them together. I reinforced the cuffs with the letterbox.
There was a tiny shadow at the second-floor window that I ignored.
“Hope you can sleep tonight,” Vincent said.
I knocked him out.
The visitor room was sparsely decorated: seats, prisoners and a glass wall to separate them from their visitors.
“We’re going to come visit you again next week. And after that. Once a week. For now,” I said. “But any bullshit, and he’s gone.”
Vincent didn’t honor this with a reply. He smiled absently at Toby, who pressed a tiny hand against the glass.
“Home?” Toby said, and Vincent just shook his head.
“Sorry, buddy,” he said.
Toby’s face lowered and he obviously tried hard not to cry. I stroked his shoulder. It was gonna be alright.
“Well,” Vincent said. “This is what you wanted.”
“It is,” I said.
Toby practically threw himself over my shoulder as we went out of the room. He didn’t want to leave. Didn’t want any of this.
“Vin-Cent,” he said. “Vin-Cent.”
I closed my eyes.
One day he would understand.
|# ? Dec 18, 2014 02:44|
MERCBRAWL 6: THE SPAWNING
I had never headlined well, but this was just crass. I could handle 'Hood's Riotous Robbery Rumpus' or 'Bank Break-in Terror'; but 'Hood in Orphanage Arson Attack' stuck in my craw.
I blame whoever – whatever – had left the power spheres around Gaslight City in the first place. Glowing orbs the size of your fist, granting untold powers to whoever's there when they break? Man, that can't possibly go wrong. Let's just see what happens!
What happens is me. I move things with my mind. Amongst other stuff. I just wish I'd found that first sphere sooner. I looked down at my homemade detector, squinting in the gloom of the orphanage's narrow corridors. I was getting close to another one.
I heard footsteps behind me, and I turned around. It was bloody Bernard. I'd thought he worked days, not nights. I hadn't planned on violence. Besides, I'd paid two months up front.
I raised an arm, and it sparked into flame right on cue. “I'll light you up,” I said, trying to put some growl into my voice. I twisted, and flung the smallest fireball I could manage. It caught him across the chest and sent him falling back against the wall. I needed to move fast. He was a cop-calling kind of guy.
Two more steps brought me to a chipped old door. I pulled a translucent black hairpin from my pocket and picked the weak lock in seconds, nice and quiet. The room was empty. Nothing but peeling paint, scattered toys and a crib.
I extended a finger and the floor tiles peeled off, the cheap mortar beneath snapping like fingerbones. The last of them came loose, and I finally had it. The little sphere was nestled in the crumbling concrete, underneath the crib. I raised a hand, lifting it towards me. That was when the drat hero showed up.
You can spot the heroes by their fascination with spandex. Frankly, they shouldn't be allowed near kids. This one was barely through the door before he was flinging darts. I melted the first one and ducked, reaching for the sphere with a thought.
The second dart caught me in the back of the head and pain shot down my spine. I overpowered my grip, and the sphere went flying across the room. I stretched for it and tried to fend off the hero at the same time. My fireball veered off course and popped it like a balloon.
Then the room caught fire.
I heard a wail: it wasn't me. I looked to the crib. Oh, gently caress. This wasn't the plan. I hauled myself to my feet and made for it, but a mass of shards hit me like a battering ram, and I was propelled through the window into the night.
A few blocks from the house, I rejoined civilised society. Pinning back my long, frizzled hair, I limped out of the alleyway and down the street. I didn't want to be The Hood right now.
The first thing the Hood ever did was look up Billy James. Never found him. Man, gently caress that guy. I'd trade all the money, the mystique and the powers for five minutes with Billy's head down the toilet bowl. On that we were agreed. Also on the theft.
I hoped Bernard wouldn't make the connection. It had to be him in the gimp suit. If he was there for the sphere, then sooner or later he'd realise that I was too. Hobbling up the stairs to the front door, I strategised. Move away? Call him out?
I stepped in, and my plans dissolved. Bernard was already there, standing in the hall. He had a child in his arms. I didn't know if I should be terrified or relieved.
“Vincent,” he said. “The orphanage burned down. One of those empowered criminals attacked it.”
I drew a breath. “poo poo. Was... anyone hurt?”
“No, but it's a wreck. I figured that we could take one of the kids for a little while. I know it's a bit sudden, but I really don't know what else to do-”
I shrugged, desperately nonchalant. “Hey man, it's your house. Besides, I don't mind kids.”
I minded kids. To make it worse, it wasn't long before our erstwhile hero decided to go play detective and leave me literally holding the baby. All I could do was keep up the masquerade, but the whole thing could fall apart any minute. Witnesses were bad news, even if they literally wouldn't talk.
The star witness to my atrocity was sitting on the floor, doing what kids do: rolling about, making noises, etcetera. I was so busy waiting for something to happen I nearly didn't hear the letter drop onto the doormat.
It was addressed to 'the Legal Guardian', and right now I figured at least half of that was me. I opened the letter. It was from his school. Toby had lashed out at some other kid. The words droned their way off the paper: 'grave concern', 'unacceptable behaviour', all the usual rubbish. “In future, should your child be bullied, we encourage him to find a member of staff rather than resort to 'empowered' violence”. Like hell. That never worked.
At least I knew what had happened to the sphere. I couldn't be too angry: it's not like I could have double telekinesis. On top of that, he'd gone and done what I wished I could have.
I rolled the screed into a ball and sat down beside him. “Want to know a secret?” He just looked at me with those wide kid's eyes. I opened my hand, and let a tiny little spark catch on my palm. I grinned. “I'll light you up.”
He gurgled. A tiny arm stretched out and the settee lifted into the air.
“See?” I said. “You're strong now. Just like me. You don't have to let anyone push you around.”
Toby gurgled again, and the settee dropped. I caught it an inch above the ground, and lowered it gently. “Careful, buddy. Listen up,” I said. “Rule One: no killing. Rule Two: take everything. Rule Three: don't get caught. Okay?” I reached into a pocket and pulled out a spare hairpin. It glinted. “This is for you. If you keep quiet, I'll teach you how to get into that kid's locker. Do they still have lockers?”
He smiled. I was getting through. I hoped.
Bernard was pissed when he found the letter in the trash. I should have burned it.
“Violence doesn't solve problems!”
drat rich. “What, you think the bully's gonna go after a telekinetic? You're being too hard on him.”
Bernard sighed. “That's my point! Flinging those sorts of powers around... it could go to his head. He can't just beat normal kids up: he's so much stronger. It's not right.”
I snorted. “Then they shouldn't try, should they? Hell, man, did you even go to school?”
When he suggested we take the kid to the zoo, I nearly laughed in his face. A bunch of mangy animals weren't going to make the kids at his school back off. By rights we should have gone in there and raised hell. It's not like they could have said no to all three of us.
Then again, the little guy loved him some mangy animals. Every time we came up on a new cage, his whole body would tense up so tight I thought he'd choke me: his spindly legs wrapped around my neck. I smiled and bore it. Kids rode on shoulders. I'd seen it on television.
There was a carnival atmosphere out there. They were holding a fundraiser for the orphanage, and the place was filled with happy, screaming kids and smiling adults. Maybe it'd work out for the best: all these strangers would get to feel righteous for a day, and Toby would get a home that wasn't falling apart. Maybe I should burn down more public amenities.
Fundraisers were mainly raffles, apparently. You took a number and you waited. Our number came up, and Bernard looked at me expectantly.
“You go, man,” I said. “My buddy and I'll stay right here, huh?”
He went. The prize was a football. Toby could barely get his arms around it, but he was smiling his face off. He opened his mouth.
“Ilite ya up!”
I didn't know whether to be livid or proud. Bernard looked at me, and I saw the penny drop. He pulled down his shirt, baring his chest burn like a tattoo. I just nodded. We both knew what came next, but not here. He wouldn't understand.
It was a long car ride home.
I'd never read a kid's book before, but I did it anyway. You were supposed to do the noises. I did every drat animal in the barnyard that night, my voice rising to the tweeting of birds and falling to the lowing of cows. I'd never been to a farm. I wondered if he'd like to see one.
I turned the last page and closed the book. Toby was asleep, his tiny chest shifting slowly under the covers. Bernard and I stood up, and walked slowly out of the house onto the wet grass of the garden.
I said, “maybe-”
The letterbox grazed across my face. I slipped to the side and caught it, spinning, and sent it flying right back at him behind a fireball.
He was too fast. Ducking between my attacks, he grabbed the letterbox and stretched the metal into a wide plate: I burned hotter, but he still held it tight. I couldn't break through.
He charged. I felt a stabbing in the side of my neck, and I fell to my knees. He hit me with the shield again and again. I called on everything I had left. With a roar, I sent out a shockwave that rattled windows and set car alarms blaring. It tossed him to the ground before me. I turned up the fire.
Then I saw a flicker of movement in the corner of my eye. I looked up to our house. There was a tiny silhouette in the window.
I turned the fire off. “We can't do this, man,” I said. “Think of the kid.”
“I do,” he said, and the shield knocked me on my back. In an instant, he had wrapped my hands in solid metal.
“I hope you can sleep tonight,” I said. The last thing I remembered was trying to smile up at the window, like everything was fine. He wouldn't understand.
Prison wasn't so bad. It was just like school, but this time I was ready. Dropping an attacker off a walkway is the sort of thing you only have to do once.
“We’re going to come visit you again next week. And after that. Once a week. For now. But any bullshit, and he’s gone.”
I said nothing. I could tell it wasn't Bernard's idea. Toby sat behind the glass. Our eyes met across the dank visiting room.
I tried to grin, and lifted my cuffed hands. “Sorry, buddy,” I said through the holes in the window. “Rule Three, huh?”
If it weren't for the tight-lipped guards and their tasers, Toby's face would have had me blasting a hole in the wall. That creep had him in his clutches. Poor little guy.
The visit was too short. It was always going to be too short. Toby screamed my name as Bernard dragged him out, and my heart skipped a beat. Once he'd disappeared I stood up and turned around. It was then that I felt a sharp prick on the side of my leg.
Back in my cell, I turned out my pockets. It was one of my hairpins. I turned it over in my hands, and slipped it under my pillow. I waited for lights out. Together we could be kings. Together.
|# ? Dec 18, 2014 02:45|
Half an hour or so remains to submit your brawl entries!
|# ? Dec 18, 2014 04:26|
The Holothurian Syndrome
Theodore stood, transfixed, staring at the vol-au-vents. A moment before he’d been dimly aware of a soft hubbub of femaleness from the baby shower in the living room on the other side of the kitchen’s ripple glass door, but now he could only hear the blood in his ears, pounding, as he stared at the hot oven tray. He had cracked the pastry on one of the vol-au-vents when he took it out of the packet and now it was ruined and useless, because of him; spilling its steaming innards onto the tray, still bubbling from the heat of the oven.
He had a sudden flash of all it had taken for the little vol-au-vent to get to him, the growing of the grain, the mining and preparation of the salt and calcium propionate and azodicarbonamide, the late nights of toil by industrial engineers to perfect the rolling and the shaping and the baking machines, advertising, marketing, accountants, lawyers, truck drivers, and now it was hosed; because of him. He touched the filling and it burnt his finger.
“poo poo. poo poo!” He jerked his hand back and shoved it into his mouth, stumbling back as he did, and his big clumsy feet caught the dangling handle of the oven door he’d meant to fix before the baby arrived. The door swung up, batting the tray aside and on the floor, and sending a a spray of tiny goo-filled pastries spinning across the black and white check linoleum and splatting into the cupboard door. Ted sprawled on his rear end, fist in his mouth.
The door cracked open. “Theodore, sweetheart, how are you getting -- oh my lord.”
Ted looked up. Marita was leaning on the door frame, belly poking in through the gap like an overinflated balloon. He opened his mouth to explain what had happened, then shut it as he realised in another flash how this was just the latest example of how unsuited he was to any of this, their baby a silent and cocooned witness of the latest layer of his inevitable futility. Best not to get into that yet, he thought. It’ll find out soon enough.
The traffic was terrible, again; someone had crashed up near Chuckanut Drive and cars had been backed up in endless grumbling ranks, but Theodore was home now, arms full of bags that were full of stuff. He’d started out, when the Baby was born, trying to keep a grip on all the things that were coming into the house but now it was blurred into undifferentiated colours and shapes, bales and mounds of washing and clothing and drying and cleaning and feeding.
The key wouldn’t fit into the lock. He put the plastic handle of the bag between his teeth and tried to wiggle it in, get the crenellations to align. He had a vision of the teeth of the key as his misaligned, non-compliant mind, trying to do what it was supposed to do. What was that Roszak line, he found himself wondering abstractly as he struggled with it. About people who can’t translate their psychic wounds into significant thought. He’d done a lecture on it. gently caress it, it was the woman who was supposed to get the baby brain. The lock clicked, finally, and he stumbled into their narrow hallway. It was lined with boxes of books from when he’d cleaned out the nursery, boxes he was supposed to redistribute. This weekend, definitely, thought Theodore as he transferred the bag back to his hand.
Then Marita screamed from inside the house and he dropped the bag and started running, down the hall, through the cluttered living room and into the nursery where Marita was pressing a diaper to the crotch of the Baby, looking harried.
“The little bastard peed on everything. Then laughed at me. He just loves taking everything I give him and spraying it around, it was like a lawn sprinkler.”
“Holothurian,” said Theodore. Marita looked at him as though he’d grown an extra leg, right there and then, just popped it out of his rear end. “I mean; sea cucumbers. Holothurians is the class name. They just sort of roll around. Suck stuff in. Spit it out. On the sea, the sea…” He gestured at the cot. “Sea bed.” Their son, a pinky wriggling tube of flesh, waved his tendrils at them.
Marita’s face softened. “Little sea cucumber. Can we do… catch and release? We can’t, can we.”
Theodore kneeled down beside her, took her hand. “The State Fish and Wildlife people wouldn’t let us.” He moved his knees and looked at the stain. “I left some … stuff. In the hall?”
Marita waved, vaguely. “It’ll keep. We’ve got plenty.”
Dead of winter, coal smoke in the air and bundled up joggers on the icy path that ran down the front of their small front yard. Theodore sat miserably on the step, a heavy blanket round his shoulders. He had been outside for an hour and couldn’t feel his feet any more, but he had settled on a joint as the one thing he needed to break himself out of the deadening funk that had enveloped him for the last six months. A big fat joint to untangle his twisted thoughts, the thoughts that led him down darker and darker paths on the nights he sat up with the Baby, or heated his milk. He sat, huddled on the step and watched the freezing world pass him by.
Then he stood up, patting the pocket where he kept his fixings, and walked wobbly-legged round the side of the house.
Marita hated the spirals his mind went down, had made him promise not to smoke any more. But really, he thought reasonably, just one. It was so cold and so dark this winter, and the thoughts that came to him at night were so cold, and dark. They needed an unwinding.
The cellar smelt like old paper when he unlocked it, old books in old boxes. Theodore kept his old lecture notes there, sorted messily into batches by year. He sat down on top of Roszak (poststructuralism) 1963-65, pressed play on the King Crimson tape in the tape deck on that ridiculous pastel-coloured smell thing Marita had been given for the baby shower and eased the red Bic lighter out of his pocket. The flame was so bright in the dimness it left an imprint on his eye, in that nameless colour. He blinked a few times to look at it then slid the crumpled joint into his hand, licked it and sparked it, sucked, held, blew.
Upstairs he could hear bumpings and thumpings and crying from the Baby. He thought he could hear it sucking in great gusts of breath, holding them, turning them into rage. Like it had too much anger to hold inside it. He could feel his knotted strands of thought unravelling, like he was above the intricate woven carpet of his mind rather than inside it.
Maybe we’re what he’s sucking up, he thought. Sucking us up and spitting us out, different.
Theodore felt suddenly immensely tired; not physically, but mentally, as though he’d been holding a weight of expectations above himself. He put the joint on top of Roszak (theories of mental structure 1968-71) and closed his eyes for a moment. The knives in the kitchen, lined up on their magnetic rack above the fridge, had started to look enticing. He had taken one down last night, felt its balance in his hand. Wondered how it would feel, going in. How it would sound.
Theo shook his head, opened his eyes wide. This would not do. He needed to go for a walk, round the block a few times. Enough of this maundering. He sprung to his feet, slammed out the door and ten seconds later was pounding down the pavement. Behind him the joint smouldered, on its dry and musty cardboard shelf.
... and Spring
Theodore pushed his son, Peter, on the swing, big pushes with both hands. Peter held on, both hands on the hard rubber of the kiddy swing, whooping, sucking in great gusts of air as the swing went up and expelling them in a “whooooo!” as it plunged down again. Peter’s joy was so pure and total Theodore started to copy him, with a “WHOOOOOOO!!!” and that made Peter shriek even louder.
As Peter went up, and down, and up again Theodore could see the sparkling sea revealed and obscured and revealed. The commune down the hill had little trails of smoke coming up from the chimneys, and one of them was Marita’s trail; she was cooking lunch. The house fire had cost them a lot; the insurance investigator had muttered words like ‘questionable evidence’ and ‘unassessable risk’ but they’d got a chunk of what they needed and now they were in a little house, shack, lean-to. There was no room for stuff, but there was no stuff to make room for, or not much.
These days Theodore sometimes woke up with a sense of pleasurable emptiness inside of him, where tangled knots used to be. He had a sense that the fire had burnt them away, the words and the patterns and the tangled knots of thinking about thinking about thinking.
But now there was the up, and the down, and the up, and the down. And Peter going ‘whoooooo!’ and Marita cooking lunch on the little stove.
Breathing in, and breathing out; to breathe in, and out again.
|# ? Dec 18, 2014 04:53|
Marita More was seated at a long banquet table surrounded by pastel tissue paper and empty gift bags. Everyone was looking at her, waiting for her to squeal in appreciation at her final gift: A ScentSations Electric Aromatherapy Diffuser, complete with small speakers and a built-in tape deck.
“Something to help Mom relax,” says Lisa, gift-giver and the wife of one of Theodore’s colleagues. “I know you’re getting so much stuff for Baby.”
Marita shot a look at her husband. Hadn’t Theodore told them? He met her eyes and did a sort of “whoops” expression with his eyebrows. Flakes of vol-au-vent still clung to the front of his shirt.
The silent exchange didn’t go unnoticed by the shower guests. Lisa’s proud smile wilted.
“You don’t like it?”
“My husband should have mentioned it. I have anosmia,” said Marita. At everyone’s blank looks, she sighed. “It means I can’t smell.”
The baby kicked and she winced. Cake and sugary mock-cocktails churned in her belly. She would’ve killed for a mimosa.
“Dad could use it to hide when he’s toking in the basement,” one of Theodore’s colleagues muttered, to general snickering.
“I wouldn’t know the difference either way, would I?” Marita said coldly, tapping her nose. Her summer dress was too clingy around her midsection. The baby was doing a one-man cirque du soleil in her womb.
“Alright,” said Marita’s mother, suddenly at the center of the scene. “Now that the gifts are done, lets play some games! You were all nice enough to bring your own baby photographs, so lets get started with Guess the Baby.”
Tensions eased. They spent the rest of the shower passing around black and white photos, trying to match baby pictures to their adult counterparts.
To Marita, they were all just the Gerber Baby, only perhaps a little uglier or a little cuter. She wondered if her baby would look any different to her, if she’d be able to see the adult-to-be in his pudgy little face.
Rain pattered on the nursery window.
Wholesale-sized, plastic-wrapped cubes of diapers made a fortress around the baby’s crib. For the first several weeks, the little guy barely made a dent in Marita’s fortifications. And it wasn’t for lack of trying.
The baby screeched.
“I’m coming, I’m coming,” Marita said. Her arms were full of bags of clothes, an outfit for every possible size and half-size a growing human could expand into.
“Mama’s just gotta find somewhere to put all your clothes.”
She set the bags down in what little floor space there was in the nursery and looked around. The closet was already bulging with outfits sized 2T to 5T. The dresser was full.
The baby’s screeching escalated to an eardrum-rattling volley of sound.
“I know,” Marita said. She picked her way over to the crib, through a knee-high city of boxed toys and walkers and more bags of clothing. The crib was the clearest part of the room, except, of course, for the squalling infant inside of it.
She sometimes found Theodore in the nursery, staring down at their son, watching him gurgle or cry.
“Doesn’t do much yet, does he?” He would say.
Well, thought Marita as the scooped the baby out of the crib, felt the heavy wetness of his diaper. He certainly does a lot of something.
She laid him on top of the diaper fortress and undid the diaper. Baby poops weren’t so bad, she decided as she powered the baby’s backside and prepared another diaper.
The baby burbled and let loose an arcing, yellow stream, which just missed Marita and instead pattered down on the bags of clothes and boxes of toys behind her.
“No!” Marita dropped the diaper and lunged to move things out of the stream. The baby was done before she could even think about where else to put the bags and boxes.
“This is all for you,” Marita said, trying to keep her voice small and high and without any trace of the irritation she felt. “You don’t wanna pee all over your own stuff, do you little guy?”
The baby looked happy enough airing out on top of Fort Diaper, so Marita turned her attention to the rest of the room. She’d have to find a place for all of it eventually. She still needed to get a rocking horse and a playmat, and what if the boy had an early proclivity for sports? But the clothing was accumulating in vaguely geologic layers, strata of onesies and socks and tiny formal wear compacted together in colorful layers. It would take an excavator to sort it all out.
And Marita; when she looked at the landscape of stuff around her, all she could see was the things they still didn’t have. For Baby.
The baby squealed again.
The hall closet was full of boxes. Marita and Theodore swore to each other that they would do that big donation run soon--their son grew at what Theodore thought was an inhuman and alarming rate--but at that moment, every conceivable storage space in their home was packed with this, that, and the other thing for Baby.
Marita coaxed one more box into the last conceivable space in the Tetris-like configuration of storage.
The baby cried in the kitchen.
Satisfied, Marita went to close the sliding closet door. It jammed halfway, stuck on a protrusion of boxes.
BweeBweeBweeBwee, went the hall fire alarm.
“Theodore,” Marita called as she tried to force the door closed. “Can you get that, Theodore?” Where was he? Probably in the basement listening to cassettes on the diffuser, she thought bitterly.
The baby’s cries turned to coughing. Marita stopped and took a deep breath. She couldn’t smell a thing, but there was an itching agitation in her lungs. She bolted down the hall.
The kitchen was hazy with smoke. The baby was wheezing in his highchair, his little face red and shiny with snot and tears.
Marita flung open the windows. Cold winter air cut through the suffocating haze in the kitchen.
“S’ok, B, mama just left the cookies in a little too long,” Marita said, jiggling one of the baby’s feet. She opened the oven and frowned. The cookies were a little darker than was ideal, but not charred to the point of smoking.
She set the baking sheet on the stove and lifted the baby out of his high chair. Smoke moved languidly along the ceiling, an inverse river with no apparent source. The baby fidgeted against her chest, rubbing his eyes with chubby pink fists. There was a moment of helpless vertigo. She needed to breathe. She needed to get out. She needed to find the source of the smoke. But the order of operations wouldn’t lay itself out for her.
A pathetic wheeze from the baby etched one necessity into sharp focus: They needed air. More and better air.
Marita picked her way to the front door. The stacks of boxes and crates and bins took up precious negative space. Space for her to move, space for the smoke to spread itself out.
She found herself outside on the iced-over sidewalk, her bare feet numb, the baby hiccuping and crying against her chest. Cold stretched her skin tight over her bones. The house let off smoke like a sinking swimmer exhaling bubbles underwater. Only this swimmer had lead boots, and no chance of kicking for the surface.
Something like a smell flirted with the edge of her senses. Hissing, melting plastic. Sizzling formula in its containers. Synthetic clothing fibers burning. She breathed it all in, then exhaled, and the fleeting hint of scent was gone, and it was just her and the baby and the suffocating house.
Marita watched from the house as Theodor and Peter played in the yard. She ran a hand absently over the flatness of her belly. Hard to think that a year before, she’d been as convex as a watermelon.
The small house was still sparse on the inside, but the touches of home were creeping back in slowly: a vase with wildflowers picked by Peter and Theodore. Rustic wall hangings and a couple pieces of mismatched furniture donated by the other commune members.
She’d been skeptical about the move to the communal island, but what other choice did they have? The closest big box store was a ferry ride and a long drive away. Marita had learned about reusable cloth diapers, about mending clothing, about candlelit family dinners garnished with laughter. She and Theodor actually talked as they took turns carrying Peter along the coldly glittering grey water that lapped at the stony beaches.
Theo came bounding up to the back door at that moment, carrying Peter, who had a flower proudly clenched in his little fist. Driven by an impulse she put her nose deep into it and breathed in. And there, at the edge of her perception, was a scent. It smelt of home.
|# ? Dec 18, 2014 05:04|
Hey Oxxidation. My Week 83 entry wasn't Hunger Games fanfiction. It was Battle Royale fanfiction? By Koushun Takami? You confused mayonnaise with Miracle Whip.
|# ? Dec 18, 2014 19:02|
Hey Oxxidation. My Week 83 entry wasn't Hunger Games fanfiction. It was Battle Royale fanfiction? By Koushun Takami? You confused mayonnaise with Miracle Whip.
So are you in then?
|# ? Dec 18, 2014 22:12|
Yes, I'm in.
So are you in then?
|# ? Dec 18, 2014 23:03|
Hey Phobia do you know what you want your new avatar to be yet?
|# ? Dec 19, 2014 02:46|
Fanfiction? The hackiest genre of writing known to man? Fantastic! Count me in! And for added schlock value, I'm going to write video game fanfiction -- Megaman X to be precise. It's what I grew up with, it's what I love, and I already reference the gently caress out of it in my own writing so it's familiar. It'll be fun trying to wrest a coherent story out of that game's mess of a storyline.
|# ? Dec 19, 2014 05:05|
Fanfiction? The hackiest genre of writing known to man? Fantastic! Count me in! And for added schlock value, I'm going to write video game fanfiction -- Megaman X to be precise. It's what I grew up with, it's what I love, and I already reference the gently caress out of it in my own writing so it's familiar. It'll be fun trying to wrest a coherent story out of that game's mess of a storyline.
You've just put several very important childhood memories on the line here buddy
DON'T gently caress UP
|# ? Dec 19, 2014 05:09|
Hey, no matter how horrible my story is, it can't be any worse than what actually happened in the series. Did you know Sigma was eventually defeated by magical elves? I couldn't come up with stuff that bad if I tried!
|# ? Dec 19, 2014 05:11|
In, "Dead Beat" by Jim Butcher
|# ? Dec 19, 2014 07:23|
In. Source material TBD.
|# ? Dec 19, 2014 07:50|
in Julian May (the Many-Coloured Land series)
|# ? Dec 19, 2014 07:51|
Fukkit I'm in with Star Trek: TNG
MAKE IT SO
|# ? Dec 19, 2014 08:26|
In with Sherlock Holmes
|# ? Dec 19, 2014 11:30|
In to do injustices to Catch-22
|# ? Dec 19, 2014 13:39|
You got about four hours to sign up. If you have already signed up but haven't chosen your fanfic inspiration yet you got about four hours. Then I'm choosing for you.
|# ? Dec 20, 2014 00:28|
A Story from the Backroads
Prompt: Of Mice and Men
The thing looked like a spider, but was about the size of a cow or a horse. It crawled out of the woods and pierced Stan with hollow eyes complemented by fangs that dripped white fluid. The farmer didn’t hesitate as it approached his jeep. He floored it deeper into the backroads, deeper into the night.
The path Stan found himself on was claustrophobically straight, and he did his best to keep on the road. The spider stared at him through the rearview mirror with those black eyes. Sweat drenched Stan’s forehead as the creature’s mandibles grazed the jeep’s bumper. With no chance left, he accepted his fate.
Feeling his car grind to a halt as the spider sunk its fangs into the trunk, Stan prayed to God for a swift and merciful end. It crawled to the front of the jeep, ripped the doors off the hinges in one swipe, and stuck its claw on Stan’s abdomen. He screamed as the spider hoisted him out of the car. He knew he was doomed.
The spider gently nuzzled Stan with its fuzzy face, cooing softly as it did so. Stan felt himself being hugged closer to the spider, his struggles no match for the creature’s impossible strength.
The spider bounded into the woods, cradling the farmer in its arms. He kicked and screamed as the creature pet him on the head. A cave came into view and the spider stopped, energetically hopping up and down. As he watched in terror, another spider emerged from the cave. This second spider cried a roar so massive that it made Stan’s ears ring.
The farmer thought himself a goner, but then he felt the grip of the creature loosen. Taking his only chance at escape, he jumped forward, breaking the spider’s grasp.
He didn’t look back as he ran as fast as he could.
“Dammit! Where have you been?!” said the other, skinnier spider.
“Gosh, I’m sorry. I just love to pet humans.”
The skinny spider, Paulie, sighed.
“It’s fine, Benny.”
Benny chased more cars that week trying to catch a pet human. A female human with a minivan full of adorable infants got away on Monday, and on Tuesday he failed to capture a farmer driving a truck full of chubby piggies.
Wednesday saw the worst luck by far, however. Benny chased a human in a pretty black and white car down the road. This car, unlike the others, did not speed away. Instead, it flashed a display of red and blue. Benny gazed in complete awe. Not only did this human want to play with him, he wanted to impress him with beautiful lights!
The human leapt out of the car, clutching something in its hand that Benny had never seen before in his life. He crept closer to get a better look at the human and the object in its grasp.
“Finally,” he thought, “a human who likes me!”
Then, there was a pop and a flash. Benny stumbled back, feeling a terrible pain in one of his legs.
The spider scurried back into the woods, ichor seeping from his hindlimb. Paulie clacked his mandibles in concern when Benny came limping into the cave with yellow fluid dripping down his leg.
“I chased a human and he hurt me.”
“But I wanna pet them.”
“They don’t wanna be pet!”
“I love them so much, though.”
Paulie held Benny’s injured leg. He examined the wound before stretching his spinnerette muscles.
“Let’s just get you bandaged up, okay?”
A female spider waited outside the cave, having overheard Benny’s screech. As soon as the injured arachnid came outside, she rushed over to him.
“Are you okay you poor thing?”
Paulie exited the cave as the female examined the patchwork on Benny’s leg. She snapped her head upright at Paulie and greeted him.
“Oh! Is this your webwork? It’s lovely!”
The male spider clicked his mandibles loudly.
“Why, yes. Only the best for my friend Benny here.”
The female chirped out a sound similar to a motorboat.
“I’m Cynthia, by the way.”
Paulie and Cynthia went back into the cave, still chatting each other up. Benny dribbled white venom before sulking off.
The word spread quickly; a giant spider lurked in the woods, terrorizing motorists. Stan stood in the center of town, near the hardware store.
“And it almost got Susie, with her boys in the car no less!”
Another, more grizzled farmer by the name of Henry stood next to Stan.
“Yeah, it chased me too! Thing wouldn’t give up either, and I reckon it was on my tail for ‘bout an hour.”
Concern spread through the community as more and more people reported the spider. It was only after the sheriff’s standoff with the creature that they decided to put an end to it. Every farmer in town banded together to organize a hunting party. Their goal was simple: take the hell-spider out.
Shouting and barking echoed through the woods as Benny moped about, trying to forget about his awful day. When he heard the humans, his mood picked up. They’d come to play with him, and they’d brought puppies too!
Benny crawled towards the noise, his laughter filling the woods.
“Did you hear that roar, Stan?” asked Henry.
“Yep, it knows we’re here.”
Benny poked his head out from some spruce trees, seeing the humans looking in the other direction. He called to them, hoping they all wanted to play.
They turned and aimed their rifles.
“Blast the son of a bitch!”
Benny cried as the humans unloaded into him. Ichor flew everywhere, painting the spruce and brush yellow.
The rancorous sound of gunfire echoed in Paulie’s cave while he and Cynthia were sharing a stolen cow together. They rushed out of the cave, to the spruce trees that Benny always liked to play around. Paulie trembled as he saw Benny lying there, mortally wounded with the humans coming closer, rifles readied.
Something inside Paulie snapped as he let out a massive cry. The cacophony Paulie unleashed sounded like the full force of a tornado merging with an atomic explosion. The humans shielded the sides of their heads, blood gushing from their busted eardrums. The terrible boom hurt even Cynthia’s ear-slits, causing her to wince.
The humans retreated, but Paulie wasn’t done with them yet. He charged full force into the dazed riflemen, flinging several into the air and ripping one clean in half. Stan looked back at the carnage, frozen where he stood. Paulie reared a massive limb to impale the farmer, but the arachnid caught the look of fear in the man’s eyes. The spider lowered his limb and watched the human scurry away through the brush.
Paulie crawled back to Benny.
Paulie lined his fangs up to where Benny’s head and thorax connected. With one swift bite, he put an end to his friend’s suffering. Unable to do anything else, Paulie laid his body flat on the ground, cuddling with Benny’s corpse. He looked at Cynthia and used the remaining strength in his vocal cords to ask one last thing.
|# ? Dec 20, 2014 02:03|
Into Frozen Jaws.
Prompt: Megaman X
A bolt of light descended into the snow bank and coalesced into a blue-armored figure. He scanned the frozen wastes, chill winds cutting through his sturdy armor into artificial musculature.
"Switch," Omni said. "Do you copy?"
"Yes," she replied over radio. "How's it look?"
"Empty." Omni looked about. "You sure about the coordinates?"
"Absolutely -- sensors don't lie."
Though Switch couldn't see it, Omni shook his head. "Maybe not, but they don't..."
"Omni? What's going on?"
Automatons burst from the snow, their eyes glowing balefully in the arctic twilight. They charged Omni, armaments ready. They were fast.
Omni was faster.
Charged plasma sheared through the horde, vaporizing snow, showering the area with molten shrapnel; it stank of ozone and scorched steel. They were mindless automatons, but Omni still regretted the destruction.
"Sorry," Omni replied, running in the direction the automatons burrowed from, IR sensors picking up heat traces in the distance. "You were right."
Subzero Smilodon paced his lair, claws flexing, teeth and icy tusks bared. Proximity alarms were tripped, automatons destroyed, and the former Rebel Hunter's circuits burned eagerly.
He vaguely remembered a time before the Virus, when he didn't hear the Master's sweet, whispered promises of glory and carnage, proving the superiority of Android over man. Sometimes the Master's voice fell quiet and when he thought of the victory over the humans of the research station, he didn't feel like a hero; he felt like a murderer.
Thankfully those times were rare. So what if they were unarmed? So what if he was built to protect them? They were human -- inferior. Death was a mercy.
So easy to judge. How are you better?
He roared, the cavern reverberating with the noise. "I am an Android, proud and strong!"
Strong enough to kill unarmed humans. Strong enough to kill children.
Subzero Smilodon clutched his head and clenched his teeth, a harsh buzz cutting through his skull. "I did what was right. I did what I must."
It's not too late. You're a killer, but you can be helped. You can be redeemed.
The Rebel bellowed. "Redeemed? I'm perfect! He told me so!"
Subzero Smilodon remembered his earliest days. He remembered his first body, a featureless humanoid frame. He remembered his human instructors -- they treated him like a child, a pet, a tool. He remembered the virtual training grounds where they discovered his aptitude for close combat in cold environments. He remembered marveling at his new body, at the sleekness and power it boasted. Then he remembered the shame he'd felt, the failed missions, the hesitation to strike down Rebels. Simulations were easy -- real combat wasn't.
But now you are past such weakness, crooned a deep inner voice, stronger than the plaintive whine. You are one of My eight generals. You will lead My forces to victory and My people to freedom, won't you?
Tears came to his eyes; he fell to his knees. The Master spoke to him! "Yes! Anything for You!"
I knew My faith was not misplaced, the Master said. A traitor comes; he will be there soon. I would see him dead.
"I will bring You his broken, frozen body as proof of my devotion!" Subzero Smilodon roared, his doubts melting away, crystallizing into conviction. "Omni will die!"
Omni dismounted the Ride Chaser he'd scavenged; the terrain ahead was too unstable for it to cross, sections of ice collapsing into a vast gully. Omni checked the info Switch had provided -- there was opposition ahead. Good.
He dashed across the ledges, avoiding turrets and returning fire. He spied a gate and jumped onto the wall above, skidding downward. Omni cracked the simple locking mechanism with a casual hack, sighing as he realized how many times he'd done this in the past. Are we doomed to forever repeat history?
He strode through the hallway, arm-cannon ready, then went through the second gate. Subzero Smilodon waited.
"Welcome, Omni." He grinned and slashed about with frozen talons, icy tusks glinting. "Come to beg for your life?"
Omni aimed his arm-cannon. "I've come to talk sense into you. Don't you understand what you've done?"
"I understand your masters have ordered my death, as well as the deaths of my fellows." Levity drained from his tone, replaced with hatred. "I understand humans regard us as tools to be used and discarded. I understand you, too, would be discarded in time.
"Thankfully, you'll not live that long!"
The Rebel attacked. He was quick for his size; Omni barely dashed out of the way of his blades. Bolts of plasma smashed into Smilodon, leaving smoking craters in his armor.
The Rebel flipped, dashing over the walls by his claws. "Only a fool fights alone! Tear him to shreds, pets!"
Encased in chunks of ice were feline shapes that broke free at Smilodon's order, and they pounced at Omni. Their claws and teeth were keen, and back-mounted plasma cannons crackled. Omni destroyed the saber-toothed automatons one by one, but not unharmed.
Smilodon leapt down, his automatons dispatched, and laughed as Omni struggled to stay standing; damage took its toll. "Tired? Ready to surrender?"
"Smilodon," Omni gasped, raising his arm-cannon at the gloating Rebel, "this isn't you! Resist!"
If you give in to the infection, you'll be a mere slave.
It is not slavery if it is your choice. Kill him!
Obey Me! Kill Omni!
Smilodon screamed. He attacked Omni with bestial ferocity, talons and teeth flashing. Smilodon had power and speed on his side; Omni was gifted with patience and experience. The Rebel's aggression made him vulnerable. Smilodon hurled himself at Omni, his claws slicing into the Hunter's armor. Every strike cost him dearly as Omni's arm-cannon pumped volleys of crackling plasma blasts into Smilodon's torso. Omni's shots pierced Smilodon's coolant reserves. He fell to his knees and took a weak swipe at Omni, tusks shattered, claws melted.
"Smilodon." Omni stood above him, arm-cannon unwavering, expression torn. "I'm begging you to surrender. Please. We can cure you -- we can make you whole."
"Wh-whole...?" Smilodon coughed up thick blackish-green circulatory fluid, struggling to rise. "I... don't... want this."
You have failed Me.
"No," Smilodon whispered, "I didn't fail. I..."
Failures have no place in My world. Accept your punishment.
Omni knelt to the quaking Rebel. "We'll help you-
Smilodon erupted into a massive explosion, smashing Omni against the ice-rimed wall. Omni cursed at the smoking wreckage that had once been Subzero Smilodon and cracked his fist against the ground.
"Omni, this is Switch. Our sensors show the Rebel general's control protocols are deactivated. Did you neutralize him?"
"'Neutralize,'" Omni spat, disgusted. "Yes, Switch. He was... 'neutralized.'" His eyes shut as he stumbled to his feet.
"Understood. Come back to base after you collect his data; you sound like you could use some repairs." Switch sounded relieved, upbeat. Omni hated her for it. "We'll send troops to deal with stragglers".
Omni knelt and touched the remains, absorbing its data; a tactile, digital reminder that it used to be a living being.
"Data collected. Omni out."
A bolt of azure light ascended, leaving behind the cooling wreckage.
Screaming Idiot fucked around with this message at 02:49 on Dec 20, 2014
|# ? Dec 20, 2014 02:41|
The Story Thieves
Prompt: Grimms' Fairy Tales
Once upon a time there were three brothers, who were thieves. They were the worst kind of thieves, for they went from place to place and stole from poor folk who had nothing.
The way that they stole was this: they entered the house of a poor family, and were made welcome; and by and by, after sharing their bread and ale with their hosts, they begged a story from the woman of the house. But as the woman told the story, piece by piece she forgot it; and when the tale was done, the three brothers had all of it, and their hosts had none of it, and were so much the poorer. The brothers then left, laughing amongst themselves; and the housewife wept, for the lost story was poorly bought with a meal of bread and ale.
There came a time when the three brothers were travelling in the deep woods. They feared no wild beast, for they had only to relate a story from their hoard, and the beast became docile and sleepy, whereupon they killed it and roasted it upon their fire.
By and by, the three brothers chanced upon a house covered all over with brambles, with drooping eaves and crooked rafters, and black smoke spilling from the chimney. Now the two elder brothers were clever and studious, but the younger said little, and always walked about with his head in the clouds, so the other two looked down on him and called him Dummling. The elder brothers were much afraid of the strange house, so they said to the younger brother: "Go, Dummling, and knock upon that door; for surely a poor family lives there, from whom we can steal a story."
"Very well," said Dummling, who was not at all afraid, and he went and knocked upon the door. When it opened, there stood a slattern of fearful aspect, with her great brow lowering over her face, her teeth all higgledy-piggledy, and her hair tangled up with twigs like a bird's nest.
"Beauteous maiden," said Dummling "Will you spare us a space by your fire? For we are footsore and hungry."
"Call me not beauteous," the slattern replied, "for I know well I am not so; yet you are welcome to share our fire." And so Dummling entered the house, and his brothers, being ashamed of their fear, followed also.
By the fire they found a crone of aspect ten times more fearful than the woman's, with skin the colour of rancid butter, hair like a mat of dead brambles, and fangs like a snake's. Seeing her, Dummling's brothers were much afraid, and would have run; but the slattern closed the door behind them, and the crone cried out "Ai! Come to my fire, you wretches, and share in its warmth, and hear the stories I have to tell."
The brothers were ever eager to steal new stories, and this crone surely had many, so they overcame their fear and sat by the fire.
"Ai! Ai!" said the crone. "Three stories I have to tell; but three things first must you share with me; I ask only your bread, your ale and your names."
"Willingly," said the eldest brother; "I am called Jacob." And he broke in half the loaf they had brought and gave one half to the crone, who devoured it on the spot.
"And I am called Wilhelm," said the second brother, pouring out a stein of ale; this the crone drank down in a single gulp.
"I am called Dummling," said the youngest brother; "and I am eager to hear your stories," for he loved nothing so much as a well-told tale.
"Ai! Ai! Ai!" cried the old woman. "Three stories you shall have, so listen well."
Then she related a tale of such length that the moon set and rose again as she told it, which the brothers scarce noticed; and at the end of it, the eldest brother Jacob was held spellbound; for she was a witch, and he had given over his name into her power.
Then she related a second tale, and this was of such length that the moon set and rose, and set and rose again before it ended; and the second brother Wilhelm was held spellbound, for he too had given her his name.
Finally she told a third tale, and this was of such length that the moon set and rose, and set and rose, and set and rose once more; and at the end of it, the crone cackled with glee, for she believed she had them all in her power. She called to her daughter to heat up the great cooking-pot, for she had worked up a powerful hunger in the telling of her tales, and desired to feast upon the brothers' flesh.
"Nay, this I cannot allow!" cried Dummling, starting up; for he had not given his true name, and so had not been spellbound like the others. But the sly witch seized a besom and threw a handful of its twigs about him, and they sprang up and tangled him until he could not move an inch.
When the pot was near to boiling, the witch went out into the woods to gather herbs to season it; and Dummling cried to the slattern, who had stayed to tend the pot: "Beautiful maiden! Have pity on me and let me free!"
"Twice now have you called me beautiful," said the slattern, "when all can see that I am not; why do you do so?"
"Why," said Dummling, "I speak only as I see; to me it seems you are the loveliest maid I ever beheld."
"Again you lie," said the slattern, "but it pleases mine ears; I will free you." And so she pulled the twigs away from him, and with a great struggle he came free. Then Dummling hid himself in a dark corner and waited. When the witch returned with a great bundle of herbs, she cried "Ai! My granddaughter, hast thou freed one of these wretches?" for the twigs lay scattered upon the floor.
"Nay," replied the maiden, "Only that I grew hungry while you were gone, and ate him."
"That you should not have done," said the old witch, and she approached the cauldron to throw in the herbs; whereon Dummling came behind and pushed her, and she toppled into the cauldron with a great cry, and was boiled alive.
Then Dummling's brothers came free of the spell, and looked about them astonished. And lo! The slattern too was freed of the hag's spell, and became a beautiful maiden before their eyes, and she blessed them for rescuing her.
Thereafter the three brothers mended their ways, and Jacob and Wilhelm returned home and wrote down all the stories they had stolen, that they might become known to all; and if some of those stories changed a little in the telling, and gained an unlikely hero named Dummling, why, I am sure they are much the better for it.
As for Dummling, he married the maiden forthwith, and the two of them stayed in that house in contentment to the end of their days.
|# ? Dec 20, 2014 02:46|
One of the better pieces of the week, in the sense that it's a competent little tale. I wasn't wowed by anything in particular, but each piece and as a whole, it was well done. It just felt like I had read this sort of story before. Victoria doesn't quite have enough depth to make me like her, and the crone isn't developed enough to make me hate Victoria for killing her. But when the only criticism I can muster is "It felt a little cliche," you know you're on the right path.
I feel like a bit more work could have been done with the supernatural element, both to add some weight to the story or to develop Victoria, but that's just a suggestion. It also felt like maybe you needed a couple hundred more words to really get it all. down. There's potential short story/novella material here, I think, if you decide to re-write it.
It think Seb's grade was about right - keep this up and you're on the right path.
I'll be completely honest - I didn't like your story because I didn't get it. I mean, I know what Karoshi is, and I get the Pygmalion thing you've got going on. What I don't understand is WHY - why it's happening, why I should care, and why it's a story. You had an enormous amount of room left in your word count, and this didn't feel like it was super-cut for a purpose - it feels disjointed and incomplete. There isn't anything for me to hold onto and connect to in this story.
You've got some great imagery in the first part of your story, and I enjoyed it on that aspect. But it feels like it has no context, and as a result, no meaning. If this as an experiment, it is an interesting one, but ultimately a failed one.
I didn't understand why I disliked this story so much until I read Sebmojo's crit: it feels like a PSA on hypothermia. It's all accurate and feels real, and I appreciate your attention to detail, but the story itself feels lackluster. Your story needs a stronger character to let the reader connect - as is, he lacks motivation and depth. He has a tinge of recklessness and insecurity to him, but it's so light that I'm not entirely sure it's intentional.
I also found your style of prose in this story off-putting, although a great deal of that is personal preference. I found the past tense boring, and it made it feel like the story lack momentum. It felt like a slog towards the end - the twist was telegraphed from your first paragraph, so it felt like I was simply slogging through to arrive at the preordained location. With your attention to detail, the paradoxical undressing wasn't a surprise or much of a twist - if someone knows about the symptom. If they didn't, the ending would seem like nonsense. So... there's that.
Jonked fucked around with this message at 07:41 on Dec 20, 2014
|# ? Dec 20, 2014 04:50|
Sign Ups Closed
I'll be updating the prompt post with everybody's assigned fanfics. loving enjoy 'em.
|# ? Dec 20, 2014 05:01|
Good story, excellent use of the prompt, good little bit of body horror. All in all, it seemed like a well-executed story that does everything fairly well. I had two main issues with it - it wasn't very scary, and I had a bit of trouble caring about either of your characters. It also felt a bit telegraphed once I figured out I was reading a horror story.
Having said on that, I've realized I didn't really give it enough of a consideration. This story is HM material. If it had been a little bit more scary and had a bit more emotional resonance, it would have been a contender.
|# ? Dec 20, 2014 07:40|
WEEK 120 CRITS
pt. 2 and done.
N. Senada - The Holdout
A rising tide lifts all boats
Good story. Mid pile. This just didn’t “hit” with me. Sorry I can’t explain it better. The hardest stories to crit are the ones in the middle of the pile. Its, like, you had all the components there for a great story but they didn’t quite come together in the right way. Your characterization was decent. Your voice was decent. Your plot was solid. You made excellent use of your prompt. There is nothing to be ashamed of in this story but, unfortunately, there wasn’t really anything here that made it special. This was a good week. You needed a story what would stand out but this one wasn’t it.
systran - Logan has this kind of hosed up fetish because of something that happened to him in middle school
A lie travels 'round the world while truth is putting her boots on.
Self aware middle school dating thing. Didn’t hit with me at all. Didn’t see where the prompt came into play. I felt like I heard the author’s voice creeping in constantly reminding me just how clever he was. Very inconsistent narrator voice. You could probably clean this up into something enjoyable if you stopped masterbating over what a funny little boy you are.
Seriously, though. The prompt. I’m confused. Is the lie the rumor that Logan has a fetish? Who’s talking about it? What kind of metaworld am I living in?
Thalamas - A Son’s Tale
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but rather 'hmm... That's funny...'
Crazy mom steals son who is accidentally kidnapped by a stranger and then randomly saved by his long lost dad. Am I missing anything? I know you were aiming for there to be a nice set up to Dad popping back into the kid’s life but instead this feels like a bad case of coincidence. Also, the son is never proactive about anything. Your story should have a character who makes active choices to move the story. Low pile
Clandestine! - Swollen
Teeth are just bones.
Welp. You are the first person who totally missed the meaning of their proverb. It means don’t trust a friendly face because a teeth (aka the smile) are just bones. With that being said, this isn’t bad it’s mostly just long winded. It takes too long to get going. Reread this and ask yourself, “Where does the action begin?” Cause that is where you need to start your story. Your intro should be succinct and catchy and give the reader just enough information to know what’s going on before you get to the juicy bits.
Benny the Snake - Arcadia
You can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs
I struggle with how to address crits to you because I feel like you’re only going to take in, like, half of what I say and go off the deep end with some stupid poo poo.
This is too writery. You made good use of your prompt. You’re getting better. This is still amateur as gently caress.
Writing is a bit like working out. You don’t wake up one day swoll as gently caress. You gotta keep at it day after day week after week. I want to say “Good job not doing something infuriatingly rear end backwards like introducing a character by going ‘Hi my name is Rosa Flores’” but that’s not something you should have been doing in the first place.
Sitting Here - Mycoremediation
There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly
Here were my shorthand notes for this as I was going through everything on judgenight:
You must have been grinning from ear to ear when you got this prompt because it played right into your strengths as a writer. In case you were wondering, I did not hand pick this one for you. All my prompts were in on a list and I checked ‘em off one by one as people signed up. Truth be told, I’m actually a little bit disappointed that one more person didn’t sign up because they were going to get “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” which, if they gleaned the meaning like there were supposed to, was going to give me a neat story about black frustrations in modern America. That would have been cool. But I’m getting off topic.
Anyway. Good story. I’m glad you didn’t go the creepy route there at the end. Even though it went to a weird place I was left with a fun magical positive taste in my mouth. Pacing was perfect. Didn’t feel like I was reading a story I was so with you. Good characterizations. Rise and fall on point. Strong overall. Great to see you with you hit your stride.
I bet you knew you were gonna be in the running for the win when you finished writing this.
Pete Zah - Head Space
All children are artists
I actually quite liked your ending. Too bad the lead up was poor and the beginning was boring. I feel like you probably “saw” how you wanted this to end right from the get go. That image was your inspiration. Everything else was just a journey to get to it. I get that. I write like that, too, sometimes.
You took too long to get to the good stuff though. I just didn’t care like 90% of the way through your story. Then at the end I was like oh that’s neat but I’d spent so much time not giving a gently caress that you lost me.
SurreptitiousMuffin - Training Wheels
A ship in the harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for
Cute, Muffin. Excellent use of the prompt. Very Chicken Soup for the ____ Soul. Unfortuntly, its very Chicken Soup for the ____ Soul. This is a sweet piece with little bravery or innovation or cleverness. No real issues though. Delightfully midpile.
Ironic Twist - On A String
As the dog said, "if I fall down for you and you fall down for me, it is playing."
This was a strong piece and was, for a while, in question for the win. You had really great flavor. I fought for an HM. Unfortunately, I think what cost you the also cost you an HM: lack of precision. We were left with a lot of questions.
Like, why does the woman hook up with him? Isn’t he super old? Is she also super old? She seemed like she was a young hottie.
Good use of the prompt. Good pacing up until the end. Did you run out of time or run out of words? You crammed a lot of stuff there at the last second that maybe needed to have some more space.
This is definitely one of my favorite things you’ve written.
Nethilia - Sacrifice
A drowning man will clutch at a straw
This is a beautiful vignette. I love the way its written. It feels like something that is already published. It feels like something that is part of a larger work. That’s really my main issue with it: it feels incomplete. There isn’t really a plot. There isn’t really any action. Its just a well written little scene. I put this down as HM/Win. On a weaker week you’d have walked away with a win. Other people just had more substance. Great use of prompt.
Obliterati - Future Perfect
There is hope as long as your fishing line is in the water
This doesn’t work. Time travel is a bitch to work with and you didn’t bring anything new or interesting to the table. I didn’t care about your characters. Your pacing was slow and boring. I thought this was dumb.
Your Sledgehammer - Observations
Experience is a comb nature gives us when we are bald
Nothing happens here man! You nailed the prompt but you didn’t tell a story! So so disappointing. I really liked your descriptions. Your characterizations. I was hooked as I read it but I kept waiting for a kick to the next level that never occurred. There was no conclusion. No resolution. And I don’t mean like a fix to the meteor or anything. I mean none of your characters were any different at the end then they were at the beginning. You kinda hit on this weird joke that fell flat and then The End. Disappointing. You were almost on something great here.
newtestleper - The Natural Cricketeer
A man with a hammer sees every problem as a nail
I don’t know anything about cricket. You know what’s awesome about this story? I don’t need to know anything about cricket in order to enjoy it. You gave me just enough to follow along and that’s awesome because what makes this enjoyable really has nothing to do with the sport. The sport is just a backdrop. Excellent job avoiding this feeling of “Oh God I better plop down every loving thing about cricket oh my god I hope they understand what I’m saying.”
You know what else is awesome about this story? Characters have motivations. Characters make active choices that advance the plot. Dialogue is on point. Descriptions are well crafted. The difference between this taking a win and taking an HM was mostly just Sitting Here having more experience with flash fiction. You got too squished at the end. At the rate you were writing, you probably needed another 500-1000 words. And that’s not a bad thing! I was totally with you! Your ending was just rushed. I would come back to this and finish it off proper. In another week, you’d have taken the win. Keep writing!
Grizzled Patriarch - Pipes
A bulldog can whip a skunk but sometimes it's not worth it
Eh. A little nonsensical. Well, quite nonsensical. Not strong but not badly written. Well-written in fact. I just didn’t understand what happened and not in a good way. There was just, all of a sudden, a mushed up boy in the pipes. You grossed out the other judges and, if I recall, they really liked it. I found the lack of cohesiveness to be too distracting for me to be able to be creeped out.
JcDent - Mammon the Socialite
A golden key can open any door
I believe you’ve disappeared from the ‘dome and it makes me sad that I didn’t get you this review first.
I want more from this story. On a technical level, you’ve got a lot to fix. Your format is hosed up. You miss words and your sentence structures are all kinds of stupid. But. I think that your ideas are sound. They are interesting. And I want more.
“But there he was, a trifle too old to stop the Circle Crimson and save the world, and a little too cowardly to shoot himself while sober.” This is a loving amazing sentence. Your whole piece is filled with these little gems. I think if you keep writing and keep working on improving your writing then you’ll end up quite good. Because its much harder to fix bad ideas than it is bad style.
Jonked - The Hoose-gow
Don't be friends with the dog, for the tail will show it
I didn’t super like this but I didn’t hate it either. My biggest complaint is that its all so unimportant. You never gave me a good “why” for anything that was happening and so I just didn’t care. Why does he stick up for Pinky so much? What did the detectives want? Why was he and Pinky such good friends? You just kinda told me that they were close but only went into enough detail to make me wanna know why. There was no plot. You just descriped an event but didn’t make it relevant.
crabrock - Of Boys and Blinds
Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won't eat you
When I’m burning through everybody’s stories I typically write a small blurb to remind myself what it was about and how I felt about it. Here’s yours: “I liked it. HM/WIN.”
Excellent use of the prompt. You had your character quite literally were dodging a croc without it being a literal croc. That’s bold given what I said in the OP and I like your moxy. Strong characterizaton. Strong voice. Good, solid action with sharp descriptions. I think its easier to list off the things I don’t like than the things I do.
You switch from momma to mamma half way through.
You include little snippits of internal monologuing that I find distracting and unnessesary ie “I ain’t got the mind for strategy or tactics. I’m just a boy with a gun, and I go where they point”
That’s pretty much. Dug the ending.
sebmojo - Standards and Practices
When the seagulls follow the trawler, it's because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea.
Mercedes fought tooth and nail to give this the win. He loved it. I found it lacking. Lacking substance, that is. Your use of language here is simply sublime at times.
“ God he loved board meetings, all those well-coiffed shitheads hoping for a touch of approval and never finding it, it was like being a goddam mother bird coming home to the nest and telling your squawking hatchspawn to find their own fuckin’ dinner.” - I loved this. This is a great example of you letting loose and it totally hitting. Unfortunatly, it wasn’t always like this. It felt like sometimes you got all caught up in masterbating over how badass and hilarious this was that you forgot to make it flow in a way that was still pleasing for the reader.
“Weaklings, all of them. He had the strength to do what needed to be done, but at every turn he was weighted down with feeble hangers-on. He brooded for a moment. What to do, what to do.”
I am totally with you here. And then you end it on getting a whore. Which is funny but is probably also the result of you running out of time. I would love to see where this goes with a real ending. That’s what kept this firmly out of the HM pile.
|# ? Dec 21, 2014 03:19|
At my house, everyone’s sad
Mommy’s punishing me again. This time it’s the belt. She says she caught me looking at a blond woman, and blond women are sluts. She says Daddy ran off to marry a blond woman, but I think Daddy ran off to get away from Mommy. She gets mad a lot.
Thwack. My arm’s getting bruised.
Mommy never really stopped being mad since Daddy left. She doesn’t eat or sleep much anymore. All she does is tell me and my little brother how bad we are. She says we remind her of Daddy and Daddy is a traitor. She tells us that all men are traitors, and they don’t deserve this world that they rule. Mommy says if we spent a day in a woman’s shoes we’d kill ourselves and maybe she should too.
The belt slips out of Mommy’s hands. She’s using her legs now, kicking me in the ribs and yelling.
I’m not sure where she saw me look at a blond woman. Maybe it was at the market. There are so many people there, it’s hard not to look at them.
The doorbell rings. Mommy wipes her eyes and takes a deep breath. She walks out of the room. I hear her open the front door. I hear a man’s voice but the words are muffled.
I roll to my side and see Philip shaking under the table. He’s crouched with his head down. I’m sorry, little brother. I’m sorry I don’t know how to make Mommy feel better. Daddy always knew how to calm her down. I miss him so much.
Now Mommy’s yelling at the man at the door. “Evicted? EVICTED? Sheriff, you’ve gotta be loving kidding me. My man runs off with your SLUT daughter, and now you’re putting me and my kids out of the house?”
Philip and I are about to get a lot more bruises.
Mommy slams the door. She stomps back toward us. She picks up the belt and smiles. She says, “A woman with nothing to lose is the most dangerous woman of all.”
The gospel chorus is singing. “Gonna Lay Down My Burdens” pours out of the speakers. Mommy puts on choir music a lot but I don’t think she really listens to the words.
I check up on Philip. He’s napping, safe for now. Gotta check on Mommy. I poke into the kitchen. She’s fixing a cake, but it’s all wrong. She’s putting in cleaning powder and the stuff we use for laundry. I’m not sure why she’s cooking anyway. We’re evicted; the sheriff said it. Shouldn’t we be packing up to leave?
From my window, I can see Mommy and Daddy in the yard. It feels so good to see them together again. I wanna run to Daddy and ask him to take me away, but Mommy said if I go out and see him, she’ll beat me bloody.
Their voices are getting louder. Daddy keeps telling Mommy she’s crazy and he shouldn’t have agreed to come over and talk to her. Mommy’s crying. She’s saying he owes her a better life than this. She reminds Daddy about how she saved his life in a war when he was fighting in Mommy’s country. She says he’s only a war hero because she made him one and everyone should see what a coward he really is for abandoning his family.
Daddy hits Mommy. He calls her an ungrateful bitch. He says he gave her everything. He tells her that she should thank him because he used to be married to her and without him she wouldn’t have citizenship. Oh no, he’s walking away. Don’t go, Daddy! Philip needs you. I need you.
When Daddy lived with us, Philip used to smile more. Now he’s sad every day and I just wanna make him feel better. I don’t know how, though. I can’t do anything right.
I guess I don’t smile much either. I kinda forget what it feels like. But I remember in the olden days Daddy used to make me smile so much my face hurt. I gotta remind Mommy how good things were when Daddy lived here. Maybe then she’d stop being mad at him and he could come back.
I know what I’m gonna do. I take out my box of crayons and start drawing. I scribble lots of gold crayon onto my picture. It’s a picture of Daddy’s gold medal he got in the war back before Philip and I were born and Mommy and Daddy weren’t mad at each other.
Mommy’s decorating the cake she baked this morning. I walk up to her and hand her my drawing. She says, “Brian, this is beautiful.” I tell her it’s a picture of Daddy’s medals and maybe she could please not be mad at Daddy and things can go back to like before. She smiles big and says, “You’re right. I’m going to call your father and tell him I’m ready to apologize.”
My plan is working! Things are gonna get better, I just know it.
Mommy and Daddy are outside again. I crack the door and lean my head out so I can hear them. Mommy’s saying how sorry she is and how Daddy’s right that she should be grateful for the life he gave her. She’s giving Daddy the picture I drew and telling him it reminded her of when they were happier. She says she knows she’s evicted and she’ll have to leave soon, but she doesn’t hold it against the sheriff or his daughter. She says she even baked them a cake to say sorry and it’s just for the sheriff and his daughter, not for Daddy to eat. Mommy gives Daddy the cake.
I run inside and tell Philip he doesn’t have to be scared anymore. Daddy’s gonna forgive Mommy and things are gonna be just like the olden days.
It’s night now. Daddy’s pounding on the front door. He’s screaming for Mommy to let him in. He says the cake was a trick and now the sheriff and his daughter are hurt and Mommy’s not gonna get away with this.
Mommy tells him he deserves it. She says she’s gonna rob him of everything he’s ever loved. Philip is crying. He’s holding on to my leg tight. I hug him and say “Shhh.”
Mommy’s got a lighter in one hand and hair spray in the other. She clicks the lighter on, and sprays into it. It shoots fire in front of her.
“Mommy, what are you doing?” I ask.
She walks toward us. She’s holding the lighter in front of the hairspray again.
|# ? Dec 21, 2014 03:22|
|# ? May 17, 2022 04:36|
MercBrawl 6: The Spawning
Mercedes fucked around with this message at 06:50 on Dec 21, 2014
|# ? Dec 21, 2014 06:46|