Thank you Seb, it was an honor and a privilege, even if reading my story wasn't.
|# ? Apr 12, 2014 16:31|
|# ? Dec 7, 2023 16:23|
Sir Azrael posted:
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 09:47|
It is me. I am the fool.
Since it's the second time I may fail to write the story in time, the next round I enter - I enter with toxx.
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 09:55|
937 Words (Google Document count.)
My sister had a lemonade stand; a down home, hokey, little kid lemonade stand.
Once, we walked to the store to buy more lemons. I found the yellow plastic bottles of “Lemon”(TM). I put the fruit back. She whined.
Twenty years later, my secretary buzzed me to tell me my eight o’clock appointment had arrived.
I kicked my feet up onto my desk and set a cigarillo between my lips. The Sheik was tailed by a pair of men in WBD, Uzis under their jackets. He nodded respectfully, I lit up.
“They call you the Laughing Hyena, that you are a crazy person,” he started. Formalities, pah.
“Newsweek calls me that. The rest of the liberal media calls me worse. But Newsweek will be going under soon and, like them, if you continue to call me that, you’ll never work again either. What do you want Salami?”
The Sheik flushed. Keeping the meat off guard was important. He forced a smile, his goons did not. “Your government is threatening significant fines, regarding our ongoing deep water fracking …incident.”
“You’re wasting my time,” and he was. It was all over the news, even the decent news feeds wouldn’t shut up. I had already made the smart move – I short sold fish futures. But an idea had formed in my head already. The best kind of idea, one that would tear apart the whole idea that the spill was even criminal.
“I’ve also been informed that the gulf coast states will be passing new regulations.”
“You’re already running campaigns: it was over-regulation that lead to the explosion, I don’t see how this is relevant. Hell, you’re outspending both candidates put together and forty percent of your voters now believe that the spill will be a useful fertilizer for wetland restoration,” I couldn’t help but laugh. I’d already had Charlie send an Aggressive Hiring team to get that ad exec for me. “Out with it.”
The goons started sweeping the room and spoke gibberish to their boss. I cut them off, “I own the building across the street. It’s a façade; no one works there except for the security team I keep on hand. There are no bugs or laser mics pointed at this room. There is a drone, but it’s my personal traffic manager.”
The Sheik looked defeated. Good. “There was fissile material on the fracking ship. When it’s found, our campaign collapses. Maybe the whole industry with it. We’ll never be allowed in the gulf again.”
Unlikely I thought, but he had a flare for the dramatic, didn’t he. I grinned a slow, hungry grin. If I was given to frivolity, I would have kissed him. Affection – second most useless thing. “Have a public offering tomorrow.”
He scoffed, recoiled back. He didn’t get it – he was a slow old man that had long since used up any business sense he had. “You’re crazy!”
I daubed a silk handkerchief to my nose. The bleeding had stopped, but the red still stained. I threw the thing away: antiques, third most useless thing ever conceived. Suppose it’s somebody’s market.
I buzzed my secretary – I’m sorry, administrative assistant. As if the useless bint could assist in some way. I kept her on because she knew where to get momma’s nose candy, and didn’t touch it. “Charlie!”
“Yes, Ms. Eiger?”
I changed my name when I was fourteen from something less Eurocentric. It made meetings easier, clients and victims didn’t have to stumble over my old name, all consonants.
“Have my trash burned tonight.”
“There’s a shred and burn tomorrow, ma’am,” she replied.
Like I said, Charlie was useless. “Burn it tonight or find a new job.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Charlie mewled.
“The bell will ring, and I’ll scoop up your company’s ragged viscera. CNBC will do spit takes,” I said: it hadn’t dawned on the idiot yet. Or his chins. I laughed harder, “Once you’re on public offer, I’ll sue for due diligence!”
He was shaking his head. I kicked my feet off the desk and slammed down the heels of boots that cost what the parasites of the country thought a car cost. “They find the, what, uranium?”
“They could find a bag of severed baby heads for all I care. It proves our corporation is doing everything in its power to generate value. If we’re lucky, we can roll this on up the SCOTUS and get a century-and-a-half of regulations gutted. We’ll have the Wild West back!”
The Sheik nodded a slow ascent. He looked broken, fearful. In truth, he looked like he didn’t have the stomach for it. He didn’t deserve his money. He lived on top of oil. It was a crude industry; pardon the pun, extracting wealth from labor. I extracted wealth from where it really comes from: wealth. I deserved it. When his door closed, I did another line. The junk wouldn’t even be illegal after this. I could sell it to babies! I love capitalism.
As it kicked in, I opened the mini fridge under my desk and took a slug from the bottle of lemoncello. It reminded me of the first dollar I ever made (I didn’t keep the crumpled trinket; of course, I invested it. Unlike the poor – I love America.)
That bottle of Lemon-flavored juice drink made more lemonade and made it faster than juicing. My sister whined that we charged too much, she whined that I made her stay out too late. She whined until her kidneys gave out. She still refused to pay for one of mine. Family? Most useless idea ever conceived.
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 15:55|
Bugging out for this one.
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 16:53|
There once was a land,
Where honey and milk,
Flowed like water, among commonest ilk,
And a king most wise,
Ruled his land,
With a fair and even hand.
But dark days soon came to pass,
As so did the wise king,
And all the vultures circ'ling-
That's how all these ballads start, don't they? Of course, in the next verses the corrupt nobles will be fighting over the throne while some wise wizard or other takes the prince away to be raised by a loyal knight and the like. Lots of generalization and flowery rubbish, low on details because that just gets in the way. That's the way it should be, to be honest- people don't want to think, it's too hard.
I guess that's why the hardest thinking people are the fools, aren't they? You ever notice that? Kings and nobles get their heads chopped off, the common folk fight and die on the fields, even the bloody cows and chickens and cats get used up as field rations- but the fools and Punch-and-Judy lot keep going because everyone needs a good laugh. Maybe a little truth too.
I'm guessing that's what happened here. Thing is, nobles aren't stupid, else they wouldn't be nobles- no, don't laugh, it's true. Any noble who isn't sharp will soon find his line blunted. So forget that tit singing his arse off; all those songs end at the 'happily ever after', which never happens, does it? You ever wonder what happens during the 'ever after'?
It starts with a prince. Now, an advisor who's clever enough to take away and hide a prince while the other buggers are busy sharpening their knives, he's got plans for the prince. And any knight willing to risk his life raising the bastard- ha!- while the other nobles are stabbing each other, isn't going to sit by and let the prince be all independent like, is he? But even they know to let the new meat- sorry, king off the leash for a bit and mingle. Which is how the new king met the fool.
I'd assume it was quite surprising, really, the prince meeting the fool. Everywhere else, people were getting stabbed, the servants having their loyalties 'tested' in the dungeons... the old king's wiper was beheaded, you know? Title, near-unlimited access to the king- odds are, he'd never let any would-be 'Lord Minister' mess about with the new king.
But the fool, they kept. And a smart man, or one willing to take a liitle peek at records, he'd see why. It's the entertainment business, you know? It's not just about wearing bells on your hat and making puppets thrash each other- you've got courtesans and whores, alchemists with lovely concotions, herbalists with their special stock. And a wise king's not just about milk-and-honey; he needs to know who's got the milk and honey, and how to get it from them. For a good price, preferably- and you don't get that by being nice.
A tyrant rules with an iron fist, a competent tyrant with a velvet glove over- but a successful tyrant does it with a manicured hand and silk glove. It's his greaves that are iron, preferably with a little extra at the knee that, once you're shaking his hand, is at groin level.
What? No, it's not mine- something a fool said once. Fools say a lot of things, stuff you might not want to hear but have to, right? It's an art- the greatest lies are those with a little truth in them, and one of the biggest lies out there's thinking 'fools' is a personal instead of personnel description. That one's mine, by the way. You like it? Right, I'll work at it. But yeah, that's the thing about fools, they... they make you laugh. And what makes bad medicine go better, but a little sugar? So imagine this new king meeting the fool, the king not exactly being raised to be an independent thinker, yeah?
Sometimes the stories the fool tell him are funny, like how the old advisor has a thing for fresh peaches, snicker gnher-gnher. Sometimes they're scary ones, like just how many peasants there are out there. Think about it- a knight can have the shiniest armour and the biggest sword out there, but if there's one peasant in front of him and one behind, each with big pitchforks, that knight won't be there for much longer.
But most of all, once the halls are quiet and the feasting's died down, everyone's asleep, the stories make him think. Just how young are the peaches the advisor likes? Those serving girls he was laughing with and accompanied down to the cellars... and the old knight was talking about hosting more feasts at his own castle for the new king, even with the civil war having drained fields and herds? It makes a- made a king wonder, even if he somehow survived whatever was to come, would he be in charge of anything worth ruling?
The thing about power-hungriness? It makes you stupid, honestly. It was like Solstice when the new- ah, sod it, when I told the advisor and his knight that I was leaving the throne to them. Even helped me fake my death, won't tell you how. I need my secrets after all.
I'll return, soon enough. But my own way, sure as sure. Only an idiot's got a single way of doing things, and I'm no idiot. Just a fool, I guess.
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 17:18|
The orange taunted Lizzie, refusing to transmogrify under their wands. The other tables were having better luck.
Audrey shrugged. “Try again?”
“You’ve been doing it wrong,” Lizzie said. She mimicked her partner’s stance, angling her wand slightly downward. “We don’t need to perfect the form, just a close approximation. Are you sure you’re thinking of a pomelo?”
“Sure as sure!” Audrey said.
Lizzie rolled up the sleeves of her coat. “One more try.” Raise, flick, and say the words. This would have been easy with anyone else. But of course, Witch Agnes had to pair them up, “so that Audrey could learn from the top of the class.”
She doubted it was working.
“One, two, three!”
There was a flash of light, and Lizzie’s hope died in her heart as the citrus transmogrification produced an apple instead.
* * *
Lizzie kept thinking of the fool girl as she walked back to her room after class. She didn’t understand how anyone could have difficulty with the simplest spells. Some of her friends had been performing cantrips as soon as they could speak. Audrey was good enough in non-magical subjects like maths and languages, so she had some brains at least. But the real test of a witch was in, well, witching subjects.
What was most infuriating was her bright demeanor--someone without an ounce of magical talent had no right to act like that! At least act ashamed about the lack of it!
She almost bumped into the girl in front of her as the foot traffic stopped. Lizzie had forgotten it was Club Recruitment Week, and seniors crowded the main hallway to coax and hoodwink them into joining their clubs. All she wanted was to go back to her room and make up for the time wasted by Audrey’s bumbling. She pushed herself against the incoming crowd and ducked into a small corridor.
Except it wasn’t a shortcut Lizzie had been expecting. The shouts and voices had faded out after the first few turns, and the architecture of the corridor started to look different. Older. Even the air had a musty smell to it.
Lizzie whirled at the only sound louder than her beating heart.
“Lost?” Audrey said, smiling that infuriating smile.
“Why are you here?” Lizzie hissed.
“I followed you. You looked kinda lost.”
“I can handle myself fine.”
“Sure, but don’t you want to find your way back faster? I’ve experience in these kinds of things.” Audrey pulled out a crumpled-looking map from her bag. “The school doesn’t look big on the outside, but it’s like triple the size inside.”
“Huh? All witching schools are like that. What school did you come from, anyway? Bathory Girls School? Majou Gakuen?”
Audrey’s smile dropped. “I came from a regular school. You know, a secular one.”
“Secular? You mean, no magic?” Lizzie said.
“I’m one of those million-to-one girls who were born without the ability to perform magic, but are able to learn it. I’m no good at all, though.”
“Let’s just think about getting back to our rooms.” Audrey shone a penlight on the map. “We took this shortcut here, and by the actions of a certain someone, we ended up… here.” She pointed at a grayed out section. “So if we take this route, we’ll find ourselves right at the doorstep of our dorms.”
They followed the path. It led to a sliding door hidden in the wall.
“Let me check first,” Audrey said. She opened the secret door and peeked out. “Clear. Let’s go.”
Moonlight shone through the windows as they sneaked about. Wandlight shone from one corner of the hallway. Key in hand, Lizzie dashed to her room, unlocked the door and darted inside.
She heard Audrey fumble and drop her key from the next door.
“Miss Aronovitch! Do you know what time it is?” It was Witch Agnes, her voice echoing across the hall.
“Sorry, Witch Agnes. I got lost again,” Audrey said. Lizzie pictured her smiling at the hawkish woman.
“What’s so hard about following the allowed pathways for first years? Why do you insist on such foolishness? At this rate, you'll have to repeat a year!”
Lizzie leaned with her back on the door, listening.
“I need to practice my spells, Witch Agnes. I’m falling behind, as you know. Taking shortcuts would give me more time to study.”
“You’ve just earned yourself a detention, young lady. See me after your Friday classes.”
“Yes, Witch Agnes.”
For once in her life, Lizzie chose not to be the smartest girl in class. She bolted out of her room.
“Wait! Witch Agnes, wait!”
The disciplinary officer turned around. “Miss Ronah. It’s already curfew. Go back inside your room and I’ll forgive this outburst.”
Lizzie stood her ground. “I can’t. The truth is, I got lost with Audrey. In fact, I led her astray in the first place. So you'll have to punish me as well!”
* * *
“You shouldn’t have done that, Lizzie,” Audrey said. They were writing I will not wander off into forbidden passageways on the blackboard together. It would erase itself when they filled it up, until their two hours were spent.
“And leave you alone?” Lizzie said. She was trying to make her writing pretty, but Audrey’s text kept overlapping with her flourishes.
“I don’t care if I repeat a year.”
“I do. And starting today I’ll be tutoring you, so I’ll be hearing none of that.”
Audrey smiled and kept on writing.
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 18:14|
South Georgia, 1935
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 02:53 on Dec 11, 2014
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 18:36|
What the World Has to Offer 937 words
One day, Cat decided that the world would be better with more people like her, so she looked for someone she could change. She searched throughout the Man-village until she came upon Dog, a big beast clad in motley brown and black and gray waiting obediently outside a hut. Cat poked and prodded until he agreed to follow her for the day. “You don’t know what life can be, Dog. Come with me and I’ll show you what the world has to offer. Be your own dog, not some Man-slave.” The pair left the village and headed for the grassy plains.
Soon, they came upon an anthill with a double-line of ants, one group hefting tiny bits of food and the other marching into the tall grass. “Come along, Dog. We’ll follow the ants and find a tasty morsel.” Cat talked as she strutted. “See how weak they are? Only the strong should survive. Barely able to carry the tiniest crumb and, worst of all, Queen Ant will take all the food she wants. That’s what comes of being a follower instead of a leader; you do all the work and only get the scraps.”
“But Man takes care of me. I help him and he helps me,” Dog replied. The pair approached a bright hummingbird, dead and crawling with ants. He sniffed it. “Still fresh.”
“Then it’s mine!” Cat crooned in delight, swiping the bird for herself with a clawed paw. She shook the ants away and devoured it. “See Dog, if you only take and never give, you’ll always have whatever you need,” she said around a mouthful of feathers.
“Sorry Cat, I’ll try to do better,” Dog said, but while Cat was absorbed with her meal, he put his front paws up on a nearby tree trunk and took a clementine in his teeth. Tearing open the soft rind, he dropped it where the bird had been. “Here you are, tiny ants.”
Meal finished, they ventured deeper into the trees and soon they came upon a field mouse. Small and gray with its furry tail stuck under a rock, Cat licked her chops as little Mouse struggled. “Mouse is trapped. What luck! I’ll eat well today.”
“But Cat, wouldn’t it be better to help Mouse and gain a friend instead of a meal?” Dog asked. Mouse nodded vigorously at the suggestion.
“Friends? Pshaw! I don’t need any friends, I’m everything I need. You should learn, Dog, or you’ll never be happy like me. Gratitude is fleeting; just rely on yourself.”
“Sorry Cat, I’ll try to do better,” Dog said, but before Cat could eat up the fuzzy rodent, he lunged forward and snatched Mouse in a single bite.
“That was MINE!” Cat yowled.
“I thought you said it was best to take, not give. I’m just trying to learn from you,” Dog said around a mouthful of Mouse. Cat spat at him and left, walking towards the river. When she was out of sight, Dog let Mouse out of his mouth. “There you go, friend.”
Mouse sat up and bowed her head. “Thank you, Dog. I’ll never forget what you’ve done for me,” she said. Dog said his goodbyes and left in search of Cat. He found her drinking at the river and watching Beaver build a lodge.
“Beaver, why do you work so hard? The sun is warm and pleasant, you should relax instead,” Cat said.
“I’m building a better home for my family so they can be happy,” Beaver said, thumping his tail on the ground.
“Stupid beaver, a family only drags you down. Come on Dog, let’s take a nap. Working hard is a waste of time. It’s better to let the things you want come to you.” Cat climbed a large boulder, stretched out in the sunshine, and promptly fell asleep, but Dog trotted over to Beaver.
“Would you like some help, Beaver?”
“I’ll never turn down an extra set of paws.” Dog fetched sticks throughout the afternoon while Cat slept and the lodge was finished that day. Beaver’s tail thumped in excitement as he ushered his family into the new den. “You’ll always be welcome at my home, Dog.”
Dog thanked him and left to check on Cat.
Cat slept soundly throughout the afternoon, but awakened to a scaly scent. Snake had come upon Cat, who was dozing on his favorite sunning spot. He slithered over the groggy feline in a flash and wrapped himself around her. “You’ll make a fine meal,” he hissed.
Cat meowed and struggled again the constricting coils. “Dog, where are you?”
“I’m here.” He hopped onto the boulder.
“Help me, Dog. Snake is going to eat me!”
“But Cat, you said only the strong should survive. I’ve learned what you’ve taught and now I won’t let you boss me around.”
“But Dog, you’re my friend. I’ll always be grateful if you help me.”
“You said you didn’t need any friends and I think your gratitude will only last as long as you need my help. Maybe you should get yourself out of this mess.”
Cat struggled for breath. “I’ll promise you anything, just help me. This isn’t my fault, why should I suffer?”
“I’ll help you, Cat, on one condition. Follow Man with me and I’ll show you what the world has to offer.”
“Yes, I promise, just stop him!” Dog growled at the serpent, baring his teeth. Snake slinked away in search of easier prey. Cat kept her promise and joined the house of Man, but always held herself aloof, for no creature can change its nature.
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 18:53|
Bowing out for this week. That's two. Next time I enter, I will be toxxing.
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 19:16|
Here are some short crits for my judging week! More to come, and a line-by-line or two probably since these won't be very in-depth. I was having a nice day and now I'm all mad again. gently caress. Here goes for Gau, Thalamas, Tyrannosaurus and RunningIntoWalls.
Touched By A Thunderdome posted:
GAU - The Suffering Sister
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 20:03|
An Orange Like a Tiny Sun, a Million Lies Like Falling Stars (934 words)
It is forbidden to curse the King while standing on one’s head, reads the notice pasted to the door of the Youth Palace. Every day the blind madwoman stands on her head at the gates and curses the King. Today she is gone.
My students saw a meteor last night. They want to know why the star was flying. “It flew because the King willed that it be so,” I say. “May praise be upon his head.” “Amen,” they say. The tile in the classroom is the color of the baking soda I brushed with this morning. We no longer have toothpaste.
My mother said it was a sin to lie to children. I tell myself that lies are only words. Yet when I die they will cut me open and find only ashes.
On days when I have oranges I sneak one to the madwoman.
“Say something,” I whisper. Her hair is matted with ash.
She blinks milky eyes and says, “The King is a fool.”
On my way home I will see the orange peel in the gutter and remember how it once was to curse the King.
When one speaks to women they nod and look at the ground. The only women who do not are the madwoman and my mother. Where my mother is now it is cold all year. Where the madwoman is, I do not know. Her empty place at the gate is a hole in my throat.
When the sun shines I hold my mother’s letters up to the window, hoping to see through the censor bars. Because she said that it was cold I sent her coat to her. It came back to me unworn.
The madwoman was taken away because my students started standing on their heads in the playground and cursing the King. The guards saw this and took her away. I have given oranges to the madwoman since summer. I am guilty.
The children want to know where she has gone. “Perhaps she has been taken somewhere warmer,” I say, “by the grace of the King.”
As grey snow begins to fall I spin, immured in my room, frantic. My mother’s coat hangs behind the door.
I will go to the Office of Grievances. I will hide the madwoman in my garret. I will hide her in the circle of my arms. We must protect those who tell the truth. My mother once spoke the truth. I have not written to my mother for years.
Yet I do none of these things, but sit alone, eating an orange as the grey snow falls. My heart is a clenched fist. In the morning I bundle the rest of the oranges into my mother’s coat. This at least I can do.
At the Youth Palace the madwoman sits upright outside the gates.
Her face is unswollen, pristine. There is a smear of ash across the bridge of her nose. I do not know if they have beaten her. Around us the buildings stand like crooked fingers.
“It’s me,” I whisper. “The teacher. Speak to me.”
I place an orange in the palm of her hand and wrap the coat around her shoulders. She is smaller than my mother. Her curse will be a valve to let the pressure out. We will continue our small and private dissent, she and I.
“Blessings be upon the King,” the madwoman says, “for willing that these oranges grow.”
I stare. She peels the orange with her thumbnail.
“What have they done to you?” I say. The guards are already marching in the playground.
“They have done nothing,” she says.
“Please,” I say. “Have they not beaten you? Why do you speak this way?”
“They have not beaten me. Blessings be upon the head of the King,” she says, “for willing that this kind man come and give me oranges.”
I want to tear my mother’s coat from the madwoman’s back. My heart is a locked room. I snatch the orange from her hand and throw it into the gutter. It sits in the dirt like a tiny sun.
“You speak as wildly as the wind,” I say through clenched teeth. “First you cursed the King and now you bless him.”
“If it is not permitted to curse the King while standing on one’s head,” she says, “I will bless him while sitting upright. The words of a fool, after all, signify nothing.”
I leave her sitting in the snow in my mother’s coat.
My students are waiting for me in the foyer. Their shirts are antiseptic white. Last night they saw a woman raped and beaten in the streets by the guards. They want to know why she did not call out for help.
Which is not to say that they asked.
My mother told me that the Lord looks after fools.
“It happened because the King willed that it be so,” I say. “As with my mother. As with your own mothers. As with you. All because the King willed that it be so. May blessings be upon his head.”
The guards are looking at me. I am speaking more loudly than I should.
When I stop, nobody says “Amen.” Yet seeing eyes meet mine.
My mother told me that it was a sin to lie to children. My mother told me that the Lord looks after fools. If I am a fool, may I live to be a hundred. If I am sane they will drag me from my bed tonight. Yet when they cut me open they will find an orange where my heart belongs.
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 20:22|
Wungus fucked around with this message at 16:50 on Jun 30, 2014
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 21:15|
Common Ground (936 words)
The orange peel fizzed as it sank into the wet snow. Vincent carved another piece off with his penknife. He walked behind the rest of the group.
“A few grand each,” Scott explained. “Skin's worth poo poo. They're paying for the meat.”
“Eskimos.” The word whistled between Bryan's missing teeth. “Get a McDonald's for cheaper. How come they don't just hunt?”
“Can't,” Scott yawned. “Only allowed to kill so many a year. Us, on the other hand...”
“Either way, I'm not complaining,” said Lou.
“You gon' do with your cut?” Bryan asked him.
“Tuition,” said Lou, nodding his head back at Vince. “Since his mom's not around.”
Bryan blushed. Scott nudged him in the ribs. Vincent's father had sold the TV, the lawnmower, but still not the ring. It glistened on his finger in the setting sun.
They set up camp in the woods. The wind shook the bare trunks as the group sat around the fire.
“You know how we do it?” asked Scott.
“We head out early,” said Bryan. “Get 'em while they're grabbing breakfast.”
“Quick,” said Lou. “Gotta be quick. They're quick. And powerful. Straight shot to the head.”
“And don't damage the tasty bits,” Scott tapped his nose.
“You coming along, kid?” Bryan asked Vincent, sat on the ground with his knife. Bryan turned back to the group: “He safe with that thing?”
“He's not a retard,” said Lou.
“Well,” snorted Scott. Lou looked round at the comment. He shrugged.
“Ah, he's fine,” agreed Bryan. “Been fine today. Be fine tomorrow. Not like he's gonna be hollerin' and scaring them off, huh?” Vince stared up at him. With that they split into pairs and bedded down, Scott kicking up snow to put out the fire.
Lou awoke with a start, his ears ringing. He had been dreaming of her. He was the last out his tent and saw the silhouettes of the others stood around the ashes of the fire.
“Jesus loving Christ, kid!” Bryan yelled.
Scott kept asking: “Whose gun is that? Whose gun is that?”
When Lou got close, Bryan stopped pacing and nodded at him. “His.”
“What?” Lou croaked, looking back at his tent.
Bryan threw up his hands. “This little prick of yours ever fire a gun before?”
Vincent was sat on the ground, rifle in hand, smoke seeping from the barrel. He was shaking. “Go back to the tent, Vince,” Lou said. Vincent obeyed.
“Jesus,” said Bryan.
“Listen, Lou,” Scott put his hand on Lou's shoulder once his son was out of earshot. “I know about...everything. But this ain't safe. The kid...he could gently caress this for us.”
Lou didn't reply.
“You know I don't wanna...Either he goes, you both go.”
They stood for a moment, staring at each other, eyes adjusting to each other's shape in the dark.
“I need this,” Lou whispered, looking down at his feet.
“Well all do,” Scott reminded him. “We all got bills.”
Lou sighed. “Okay,” he said. “Tomorrow, you hunt. I'll...babysit Vince.”
They split off back to their tents. Before he climbed into his, Lou noticed the bullet hole in the lining. He slept with the rifle in his bag.
The next morning he and Vincent headed further into the woods. Black trees reached up across the blank landscape. Lou looked through the rifle's sights into the distance. Nothing.
Vincent walked behind him. Each time he heard the knife slicing through peel, Lou bristled.
“Stop it,” he said, quietly. Vincent was stood still behind him.
They started off again, and so did the peeling. “Stop it,” Lou repeated. “Jesus, loving stop it!” He yelled, spinning around and staring at his son. Vincent stared back. “What is wrong with you? Just stop, Vince. Stop firing bullets over my head or playing with your knife. Stop putting me off.”
Vincent, unpaused and continued to peel. Lou dropped his rifle to the ground and followed it.
“gently caress,” he hissed. “We're done. That's it.” His voice got louder. “We're done, Vince! This hunt was a complete waste of loving time! We need this money.” He held his head in his hands. “I'm glad your mother isn't here to see this,” he sighed.
The white bear was quick, breaking through the brittle branches and into the clearing before Lou could react. Steam billowed from its nose and its teeth were framed by black black flesh beneath its fur. It was bigger than Lou expected. Vince stood on the other side of it, frozen still, orange in hand.
The bear looked at Lou, who fell backwards at its growl, groping in the ashen snow for his rifle. The bear advanced on him, his mouth dry and hands numb. The bear would kill him. It would gouge him with its teeth, or else with its claws, which dug into the frost. Lou stopped. He closed his eyes and waited.
Vincent slowly, calmly, crept towards the bear, who continued towards his father. He lifted the penknife from the fruit and then, quickly, plunged it into the bear's right eye.
The creature howled. It stumbled forwards, causing Lou to scramble back further, before it took back off into the woods. Once the bear left the crunching brush of the forest, there was no noise.
Lou looked up at his son. “It took my knife,” Vincent said.
“You were wrong,” he said. “Slow. You have to be slow. Or you'll scare them. Then you can do it. In the head.” He walked over to his father and sat down beside him. “That part was right.”
Lou held his son. The hunt was over.
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 22:14|
Ignorance is Bliss
Nethilia fucked around with this message at 08:24 on Dec 4, 2014
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 22:54|
No Soup, Just Stones
John Pit walked through the village with his entire harvest slung over his shoulder in a burlap sack. It was a tenth of what he had managed to grow the year before. If John Pit had been a farmer of something desirable, this would have been a great tragedy. But he was a farmer of rock-fruit, so part of him was elated.
The other part was hungry. He had been fasting for the past two days, trying to sweat out the stench of his rock-fruit diet in time for the faire. But it wasn’t hard. He couldn’t eat any more of the lumps.
He used to sell the them to unsuspecting outsiders. The other villagers had pity on his wife and children, and no one said anything when Pit swore up and down that the lumps got better after a good boiling.
But when his family left for a man who grew turnips, the villagers had no reason to help Pit sell his toxic wares. Then, he could trade for nothing. He subsisted almost completely on rock-fruit. His body was beginning to fall apart. His hair became thin and wispy, like crab grass. His ribs showed, his face was gaunt. And he smelled. The smell was the worst.
When he reached the tavern, he stopped for a rest. Almost everyone was celebrating inside. It was tradition for farmers to bring a sample of their harvest to share. Light and laughter poured from its high windows.
John Pit’s arrival was announced by his great stench. Everyone turned to watch the poor rock-fruit farmer sidle up to the bar, dragging a burlap sack across the wooden planks of the floor.
“I wanna drink myself under the table, tonight,” Pit said to the bartender, heaving his bag onto the bar. The bag landed with a heavy thud that shook the bar, nearly overturning the other patrons’ drinks.
“If that’s what I think that is,” said the bartender, pointing a finger at Pit’s bag. “Then you won’t be drinking anything.”
“It’s not what you think it is.”
“Oh? Well, then, let’s see it.”
“Okay,” said Pit, throwing his arm around the bag like an old friend. “There ARE rock-fruits inside this bag, but--”
“Get those filthy things off the bar,” the bartender said, but he didn’t wait for John Pit to comply. He shoved the burlap sack off the bar. The bag made a loud crack as it broke through the floorboards and into the darkness below. There was a shocked silence where there had been chuckling and soft muttering. Than a huge din as every patron in the bar roared with laughter.
“That wasn’t MY fault!” Pit cried, putting distance between himself and the bartender. “You have to be careful with rock-fruit. Everyone knows that!”
“You’re going to get those things,” said bartender, spittle flying from his mouth. “I don’t want them rotting and stinking up the tavern! Or worse yet, have a TREE growing in here.”
“You should be so lucky,” said Pit, sitting on the edge of the hole, dangling his feet. “Those rock-fruit are the only edible things in this bar.”
Everyone burst into laughter.
“Is there some new definition of edible I’m unaware of?” asked a man with a large, curly mustache. His name was Angelo, and a large bunch of bananas sat next to his mug of beer on the bar.
“No, I don’t think so,” said Pit, swinging his feet. “It means you can eat them. Without turning your mucus purple. Unlike your bananas.”
“That’s ridiculous!” Angelo said, plucking one large banana from the bunch. It seemed to glow yellow in the dim torchlight of the tavern. “My bananas are phenomenal. And they don’t turn your mucus purple. Purple is the opposite of yellow!”
“Prove it,” Pit said.
“Here! Eat it, and then your words!”
Pit swallowed the thing whole. He could tell his stomach wasn’t sure what to do with it. It wasn’t grass or rock-fruit. It was real food. Pit took Angelo’s fleur de lis handkerchief, blew his nose, and showed the audience its contents.
“But my bananas are good!” Angelo said, pleading to the other patrons. “They are!”
Angelo was a relative newcomer, and his delicate reputation was ruined. Angelo left John Pit the entire banana bunch as left the tavern, head hanging. Everyone laughed at him as he left. Pit pointed to a particularly loud laugher:
“At least his bananas don’t make your hair fall out,” said Pit.
The man threw one of his oranges at Pit’s chest. John peeled the orange and did his best to eat slowly.Then he smiled and tugged at what remained of his black hair. It came off as easy as a dried up weed.
“I’ve got to get home,” said the man with the oranges, patting his hair as he left.
Now, several patrons were tugging at their own hair and blowing their noses. Pit cradled the bananas in one arm, and his oranges in the other, bouncing them like newborn children.
“But nothing’s like that has happened before!” some of the less drunk patrons observed. Was it something in the soil? the air? More farmers stepped forward, eager to test their harvest. Were they toxic? Would their toenails fall off? Would they vomit their guts out?
By the end of the night, nobody felt safe consuming their harvest. Pit was left with a heap of food.
“It seems the only thing edible in this wretched village this year are your rock-fruit,” said the bartender. “How about a deal? You leave those rock fruit below to go to seed, and I’ll give you...”
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 23:37|
Truth in Advertising
The egg rolled off the counter and splattered as the studio audience laughed.
“Wow, Bill,” Tommy said, “I don’t think I’ll ever get these eggs to stay put.”
“Then today’s your lucky day,” Bill said, flashing a smile he paid too much for. “With the Egg Wrangler, your life begins!” He pulled out a plastic tray with a smaller tray inside. The smaller tray was suspended by large rubber bands, and it had twelve indents. Bill took two eggs and placed them in the indents.
“See?” Bill said. “It’s just that easy!”
“Wow,” Tommy said, “No more wayward eggs for me!”
“That’s right, Tommy,” Bill said. “Now even someone like you can have eggs!” The audience laughed, clapped and nodded. Tommy grinned through clenched teeth.
“Why don’t we just move on?” he said, balling his hands into fists.
“Sure thing, Tommy,” Bill said. “And wait’ll you see what’s next!” Bill reached under the counter and pulled out a massive white cube with a hole on top and a chute on the side. It was the size of two microwaves stacked on top of each other. Bill struggled under its weight, and there was a noticeable thump when it was placed on the counter.
“Tommy, let me ask you a question,” he said. “How often are you able to peel your own vegetables?”
“You know, I don’t know, Bill,” Tommy said, biting his lower lip as sweat formed on his forehead. “It’s just so complicated, I’m not sure I can do it in my own home!” He smacked the counter with his open palm.
“Well no more worries, Tommy!” Bill said.
“Thank God for that, Bill!”
“Settle…settle down now, Tommy” Bill said, lowering his voice a little.
“I’m just excited to find out more about this…cube.”
“It’s not just a cube. It’s the Peel-Away Two Thousand! Pesky peels and sticky skins are a thing of the past!” Bill said, waving his hand gracefully in front of the device, the audience “ooh”-ing and “aah”-ing with every sweep.
“Simply take whatever vegetable you need peeled, drop in the hole in the top and…” The tomato rolled down the chute, perfectly peeled, and landed on the counter with a thick plop. The audience applauded.
“See Tommy? Now peeling is a breeze,” Bill said.
“Wow, Bill, I didn’t think it could any easier than it already was,” Tommy said.
“That’s the wonder of the Peel-Away Two Thousand, and it can be yours for only three easy payments of twenty-nine ninety-five!”
“If I’d known about this I wouldn’t have wasted five whole dollars on a hand peeler I could fit conveniently in my drawer. Instead I’d have this taking up my precious counter space!” Tommy said. Bill pulled Tommy towards him and whispered.
“What are you doing, man?”
“Just playing along, pal.”
“Will you stick to the script?”
“Sure will,” Tommy said. Bill turned back to the audience.
“With those three easy payments, you not only get the Peel-Away Two Thousand, you get…“ he reached back under the counter and pulled out a black case. He opened it to reveal six knives. “These ergonomically designed knives, built specifically to comfortably fit in the palm of your hand!”
“That’s great Bill, because I know my knives are always just slipping right out of my hands!” said Tommy. Bill lowered his voice again.
“Will you stick to the script?”
“It’s in the script,” said Tommy. Bill looked at the teleprompter, shrugged, and picked up one of the knives.
“Well then try this, Tommy,” Bill said. He handed the knife to Tommy, who gave his best shocked look.
“Oh my goodness! It’s like nothing I’ve ever held before!” Tommy said. The audience clapped and nodded.
“Here, Tommy, try cutting through this aluminum can. Each knife is sharpened to the highest degree, guaranteed to slice through anything,” Bill said. Tommy started sawing through the can. The knife sliced right through it. Tommy dropped his jaw open while the audience clapped and nodded.
“Wow Bill! It cuts just like a knife!” Tommy said, stabbing the knife into the counter.
“What the hell are you doing?” Bill said, not even bothering to whisper.
“Helping these fine people waste their money, Bill” Tommy said. He pointed at the audience.
“Who wants a knife?” he said. The audience clapped and nodded. “Then you all get one! Here you go!” He threw the knives into the crowd. The audience screamed and ran for the exits. Tommy grabbed the Peel-Away Two Thousand and lifted it slowly.
“And who wants the peeler?” he said, struggling to lift it.
“It also…makes…smoothies…” he said, before dropping the device onto the floor, cracking the casing and breaking off the chute.
“But wait, that’s not all,” Tommy said, kicking what was left of the peeler. “If you call within the next thirty seconds, you can have my job! All for the low price of four years of your life shilling useless, overpriced products to gullible idiots with too much money!”
“Have you gone insane?” Bill said, trying to make his voice heard over the screaming audience.
“No, Bill! I’m just trying to show you this wonderful new device called ‘I quit’! And it’s yours for only three easy payments of ‘gently caress you’!” Tommy stormed off, punching a hole in the back drop. With the merchandise smashed, the show ruined, and an audience in a panic, Bill turned to the camera.
“We’ll be right back,” he said.
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 23:51|
Crab Here Sittingrock Brawl
Crabrock, I liked yours because I immediately understand what I was reading. I didn’t like it because it didn’t feel like a real title. Like you were playing with conventions that only exist on the internet forum. It worked in this case because of the formatting that has been set up by the ‘dome. If I had received it as a magazine editor or something I don’t know.
Sitting Here-- no problems. I’m with ya. Kinda funny vugar serious-essay-like title. Aight. Let’s do this.
Crabrock: The murder themselves thing? Good hook. Good foreshadowing. But who the gently caress opens a letter to their mother like this? It doesn’t read like a letter and that’s a major problem I have with the entire piece. It doesn’t read like a letter. I very much feel you, the writer, attempting to tell your story in this format. Its not natural.
Sitting Here: It’s an opening. Its not horrible (except that last line, grammatically frustrating) but its also not very interesting. I’m not enthralled with what’s happening. I’m not anxious to read more.
Neither one of you gave me much of a story. One is a slow pontification on whale death as a metaphor for the author’s impending suicide. The other is a collections of memories of a friendship with a girl who headed going down a path of self-prophesied self-destruction. Of course, if I’m being technical, I didn’t ask for a story. I just wanted 750 words on a topic.
Now, of what I got, Sitting Here’s is slightly better written but it says less. Its less poignant. Less significant. Crabrock, I think you really bungled up the letter thing. It reads a lot like a writer pretending to write a letter. However, I like what you say more. I don’t think this was the best work either one of you could have given me.
Crabrock wins a dirty one. Don't be proud of it.
|# ? Apr 13, 2014 23:59|
Ace of Fools
“I don’t know what’s wrong, Jessica, but you need to deal with it. You’ll lose your scholarship if you don’t bring these numbers up.”
“And nobody cares but you.”
Jess glared at the fox in the corner. He laughed, bobbing his whiskers.
“I know, Dr. Vance, I’ve just had a rough week,” she said.
“Rough?” the fox said. “Try negotiating with Tower ogres, Vancey, that’s rough, and not in the fun way!”
Her professor heard none of this. “You’ve had a rough semester. The one before that wasn’t smooth either.” He finger-combed his greying hair. “Maybe you should take some time off. If it’s personal issues, or… or a boy…”
The fox rolled over laughing, paws in the air. His tail was bushy and his coat bright as a blood orange. She didn’t know how many vixens he had on the line, but no number would surprise her. She tried not to blush. “Come on Dr. Vance, it’s a small liberal arts college, there are hardly any boys here.”
“You just,” he said, looking away from her, “look like you didn’t make it home, last night.”
“Seriously?” She looked down. Dirty jeans, faded black hoodie, converse shoes. “I need to do laundry, but-“
“You smell,” the fox said.
“Better a dirty human than a dirty mutt, Sixt” she muttered.
“Jess?” Dr. Vance looked a specific kind of concerned.
“Just get it together, alright? Your father wouldn’t appreciate me terminating your scholarship, but I won’t have a choice if your grades don’t change soon. Academic probation is no joke, especially for under-funded departments like ours.” He gestured to the picture on the wall of himself and her father at one of their digs in Greece for emphasis.
“I’ll do my best, I-”
“And you need to think about the bigger picture,” he said. “You won’t qualify to have your work-study reinstated if you’re on probation for longer than a semester, and I can’t fund you privately. Books, dorm rooms, fees, food, they all cost money, and-” Jess’s stomach rumbled on queue.
“I know, Morgan,” she said, calling him by his first name like she used to when she was a kid. “I just… have a lot on my plate right-”
There was a crash outside like a ton of bricks falling five stories.
Sixt jumped and Dr. Vance didn’t, so Jess figured it for a different kind of crash. The fox nodded at her, then jumped out a window. Jess fidgeted.
“I just need you to get your act together. Every time I defend you in front of the funding committee I’m sticking my neck out, and you’re not helping by performing at such a-“
“Right! So, I’ll go work on that paper right now, ok? You’ll have it before midnight!” She was halfway out of the office before she’d finished speaking. “Thanks!” she yelled back as the door closed.
She ran out of the library, rounded a brick wall to the left and saw all she needed: a dragon was lying on the ground next to a tree, which looked like it’d been hit by lightning. Sixt was sitting next to the dragon, nodding.
Jess came over. “The Nil may speak?” Sixt asked for her.
“Yes. The Ace of fifth Priest asks arbitration.” The dragon did not move its mouth – no vocal chords. Meetings with them always made Jess’s ears ring in the silence, and they were so formal, names and ranks and so forth.
“The Nil asks, what happened?” she asked.
The next hour answered some long-standing questions about flight restrictions established between the dragons of the fifth and the eagles of the seventh. Apparently the arcana – the open meeting for all ranks of the spirit world’s houses and races – had been issued for tonight, and as arbitrator the Nil had to be present.
“There goes my promise,” Jess said, watching the dragon take off. Some students had come over to comment on the fate of the tree, but none had stayed. Probably just old and in need of cutting down, right? Humans – the Nil, of the Fool – were remarkably self-regulating.
“What, to the Empress? Or Dr. Stuffy-Face?” Sixt asked.
“He was the last Nil’s best friend,” she said.
“Friend of a Fool, still a stuffy-face.” Sixt trotted off. Jess headed back to her dorm to do what she could until the moon rose and the arcana was called. Tonight would not leave much time for paper writing.
“Don’t bother me, I’m busy,” she told him. Sixt was lying on top of her bookcase. Books were open across her desk, and she tried to remember what she’d been looking for.
He licked a paw. “Tell me to go, then.”
She didn’t answer, just turned a few pages.
“I just don’t want to disappoint Dr. Vance, dragons or not,” she said as the door opened.
“Did you say something Jess?” her roommate asked, walking in and taking her earbuds out.
Jess rubbed her face. “Nope, just talking to myself. Got a paper due.”
“Bummer. Got your mail,” she said, tossing an envelope onto Jess’s desk.
“Thanks. It’s for Dr. Vance. I’m just trying to straighten everything out, you know?”
“Wasn’t that paper due last week?”
“Yeah, but… what was the topic again?”
Sixteen, a Fox of the Tower, fell off the bookcase laughing. “Poor Fool,” Sixt said. “Too bad you can’t eat paper!”
“Too bad I can’t eat you, either.”
“Who are you talking to?” her roommate asked.
“Just me mumbling. Wait-” She had opened the envelope.
From the Office of the Dean – We regret to inform you that, effective immediately…
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 00:39|
So yeah, family reasons busy blah blah really waited way too long to start this.
Add me to the list of next time toxxers.
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 01:07|
Get What’s Coming
crabrock fucked around with this message at 06:51 on Jul 1, 2014
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 01:42|
For Royal Recognition
Donning the finest armor in the duchy, swinging a sword polished to a mirror shine down on the necks of her enemies—or wearing the plushest gown which would shimmer like morning dew as she was paraded to the Duchess’ side.
These thoughts fueled her legs as she lunged toward the irate Widow. The fiend untangled her envenomed maws and two screams split the air before she rushed to meet the insolent challenger. She roared when one sapling-sized leg was lopped off with a primitive farming tool, then again when she lost two, then three.
Nuri’s ears rang as she ducked from the dripping fangs champing down at the space she just occupied. She swung again, taking out about half the creature’s pale legs while getting spattered with bitter ichor. The monster still had surprising mobility despite old wounds and new, but now snapped at her back with one maw as the other threatened to deafen her.
She expected to get atop the creature when she was snatched out the air, hanging from the Widow’s heaving maw and choking on her fetid breath.
The voice of the ragged man that tasked her this in the first place came to mind, drowning out the fury of the fiend holding her. Even in memory, she could feel the fool’s low voice in her chest.
“So there’re mighty among the uninitiated!” The man’s spryness had defied his age when he flipped from the dusty rail with enviable deftness. “Were I thirty years younger I would be at your side, if nothing but to see the legendary trees!”
Once performing and prophesizing for the Duchess, he escaped with his head intact at Her mercy and resorted to busking in a country inn. His uncanny wisdom became obscene babble once it soured like milk, becoming unfavorable to Her rule. At Nuri’s request, he once repeated his obscenities: the Duchess’ son shall fall ill, and no healer in the duchy would cure him.
But Nuri’s no healer. She bellowed as she felt force crinkling her stolen armor. “For the Duchess! For my sword!”
She was back in the moment and drove her sickle into the Widow’s complex mandibles. The girl dropped to the ground and hooked her remaining sickle into the underbelly of the Widow, running to her behind. The scalding heat of the Widow’s insides flattened the girl’s fiery hair.
The Widow tried turning, but teetered over before she could take a final look at her slayer. Her remaining legs gave way and she dropped into the oozing pile beneath her, using her fading strength to try and pull herself together.
Nuri backed away, then moved further through the narrow valley. The fool’s faith in her was well-placed—or did he foresee her victory? Once past the cocoons and corpses, she found the means to her prizes: the alluring green of a grove the Widow must’ve used to lure victims.
No webs blocked the blessed sunlight here. Few trees basked in the warmth, their slender branches heavy with fruit with bright rinds. Nuri reached for a not-quite ripe one, taking her travel time into account. Citrus oil eked out as she tugged it from the tree, the perfume overpowering the rotten odor about her and coaxing a series of sneezes from her. She held onto the fruit with a grimy hand, set on meeting the fool back at his old home, and perhaps her new one.
Leaning against the wall was the second luxury afforded to Nuri since washing her hands moments ago. The sound of the Duchess’ son retching made her own stomach curl. She prayed he was, in fact, “purging the poison” and she didn’t push him into a violent death by making him drink the “panacea’s” juice.
Being forced to connect a face to the title made her feel for his situation, and not well. A boy about her age was on the other side of the door. His emaciated frame wilted into his sweat-soaked bed clothes, which made it impossible to know where he ended and the sheets started. He wouldn’t, or couldn’t, speak. It was Nuri’s first time seeing someone so ill, and she never wanted to see anything like it again.
Pessimism took her over. So much doubt clouded her mind, and she wanted more than anything to be proven wrong, to know that the boy will survive.
The heavy door opened, and the fool was followed by the scent of something bitterer than bile. He looked as terrible as Nuri felt, but he smiled nonetheless.
“Is he still alive?”
“I'm going to see him.”
“By all means!”
She was past him before the fool finished speaking. Rinsed bedpans and basins lined her path to the boy’s bedside. The odor made her eyes water, but she was still able to see his drenched figure when she kneeled at his side. He breathed much easier now.
The low voice came from behind her. “The Duchess will know of your deeds, I promise you.”
“I,” Nuri paused. When she spoke again, her voice did not raise higher than a murmur. “I didn’t do this for the Duchess. I just wanna know when he gets better so I can talk to him.”
“To get to know Marcus. Excellent.”
That sounded a little too confident to be a guess. His comment brought up a memory from when she first met the fool. “Did you already know that I would help the b—Marcus?”
“Perhaps.” His jovial attitude reappeared since Nuri rendezvoused with him on the outskirts of the city. “Nonetheless, I may rest easy for now.”
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 01:57|
Kingdom in the Sun - 915 words
The king was awoken with a bang. He sat up on his cot. With another snap, he strode down the steps of the apartment building, mace and shield in hand. He reached the shuttered store door, swinging open in the darkness. With his tin foil breastplate shining in the moonlight, he and his loyal followers marched into the abandoned store, ready to strike at any invaders.
His throne behind the meat counter, made up of the discarded crates pulled from the back room, was ruined. He sighed. Their symbol lay in ruin. He turned to face the crowd behind. He snapped to attention, bringing his PVC piping mace and his garbage can shield to bear.
“We will find those responsible for this atrocity,” said the king.
A chorus of shouts rang out in agreement.
“Go, my subjects, prepare for tomorrow! The sun will bless us with victory,” said the king.
With more cheers, people went back to their small apartments, waiting for the sun to grace them again.
The sun rose marking the beginning of the day. The king and his court made their way down the street to the diner. Guards armored in the best salvage they could find flanked the door inside and outside as well as the king himself. Side conversations were hushed when Lord Pete entered with King Raymond, each with their symbols of their office on.
“So begins the fourth meeting of the month of June, the most holy of months,” Pete said looking at his notes. “At the time of 1:00 AM, a vandal destroyed one of our mostly holy of monuments, the Throne of the Sun, the seat of the king. All are encouraged to speak freely of night to apprehend this most vile cretin and apply the searing gaze of justice.”
As Pete concluded his speech, he slipped into his seat, nearest to the king. King Raymond tried to work with the din of many different stories with his scribe was working as fast as she could. He started to point at individuals, getting stories more and more outlandish as he when along.
A guard leaned in to the king’s ear and whispered. A nod from the king and they signaled the other guards. The guards brought in a man that resembled what they looked like before they found King Raymond: dirty and confused. Pete stood up quickly.
“You! You are the one that defiled our sacred temple,” Pete exclaimed.
“What are you talking about? You freaks got me first,” the man shot back.
“Pete, I never saw this man before. Guard, where did you find him,” asked Raymond.
“I found outside, he badmouthed the word of the sun and tried to gain entry into the Sun Room,” the guard said.
“See, he is unwise to our traditions. He attempted to show that we are weak. I tried to stop him when he burst through the window but he was too much. I did what I could and wake you before it was too late, but he left when I ran up the stairs” said Pete.
The sky started to darken.
“Pete, why have decided to displease our sun? You didn't wake me up, the window wasn't broken, and the door to the store was open,” the king said.
“Well, I…I,” said Pete. The king and his subjects glared at him, intent on bringing out his motives. “I don’t know if this is a just game or you really believe you’re a king. I didn't see where I was going when I walked into the chair,” Pete said.
“Pete, I cast you from the glow of the sun. May your road be obscured and your days overcast with doubt,” the king said with a flourish of his mace. “This meeting is over.” The diner emptied, with the king following his guards and the traitor. The backdoor was opened and Pete was thrown out.
As the guards filed back in, the king remained, staring at his fallen friend.
“Pete, I am sorry it came to this. People look up to us and I am too far in to just pull the plug on everything. I have given these people a home, food, and water when they didn't have any. The police haven’t come by and dragged us out yet. It’s something for everyone to believe when the rest of the world gives up on them,” Raymond said.
“I guess, but didn't these people try some place else? Like a church or relatives in the area first,” Pete said.
“Maybe. Some are luckier than others. The ones that ended up here are really unlucky. Maybe they did that first and things just didn't work out. If makes them and their children sleep easier, I can’t just abandon them,” Raymond said. “Pete, listen. Go out and be safe. You still got your wits about you, maybe you can start again. Sun knows I can’t do that.”
“I see where you are coming from but you better have an escape plan. This can’t go on forever,” said Pete.
“I’ll think of something,” Raymond said. The sun peeked behind the clouds. “Hopefully the weather and your prospects start matching up. It can’t remain cloudy forever,” Raymond said. He went inside for a moment and returned with an orange. “Make it last” Raymond said with a smile.
“Thanks,” Oscar said as took the orange from Ray.
The two friends departed the diner, both with the hope of the sun greeting them tomorrow.
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 02:02|
Seagulls, Waves, and Salty Air, 821 words
"Antlers! Antlers! Antlers for sale!" The smelly bum was back again. This time he was hocking a set of old deer antlers that looked like he had stolen out of a dumpster for a taxidermy. I didn't have the energy to run him off. I waved my hand listlessly at him.
"Go bother someone else, you smelly bum," I said halfheartedly. I liked the pretend that he was running off business, but the reality was that the bar was doing badly anyways, bum with antlers or no.
The bum ignored me. "You want a pair of antlers, buddy!" He shouted at an older gentleman and his younger wife. The man ignored him, of course, but the woman gave a curiously evil look. I sighed, and waved my hands at the bum again.
He didn't ignore me this time. "Gimme a drink!" He shouted, shaking the antlers above his head. "Gimme a drink, and I'll give you a blessing."
"Would the blessing be you going away?" I asked.
"Maybe! Make it something fruity!" He waved the antlers at me. I shrugged, and poured a bit of orange juice into a glass, a splash of vodka, and my own special blend.
"Fruity for an old fruit. Now get on, you!" I handed it to him and slouched back behind the bar. The bar had been a great idea at the time - warm fresh air, the breeze over the ocean, only having to work during the tourist season. I dropped a significant but not unmanageable bit of my life savings into the place, and lived a life of blissful early retirement. Southern Florida was really quite a nice place, for a certain kind of life.
And then the chains came in. Sure, I was established enough to be local color by that point, but the tourists and the drunk college kids didn't want to try something too new and exciting. The Margaritaville to the left and the Calico Jack's to the right had dried up my business, and the last two seasons had kept me barely out of the red.
"My god! You genius! You mad genius!" The bum was shouting again. I barely mustered the energy to look up. "A thousand blessings on you, barkeep! This is the best drat drink I've ever had!"
"Oh hush," I muttered, feeling mocked.
"No, really! I'm serious!" The bum was pressed against my bar. "This really is the best drat screwdriver I've had. And I've been boozing up and down this coast since Hemingway showed up. You gotta tell me, what's in it!"
"Hush!" I said, really annoyed. "It's a secret, okay."
"A secret recipe, well I'll be! The most delicious screwdriver on the Florida coast, and the recipe is a secret! It's delicious." A small crowd was starting to gather, kept mostly at bay by the ragged man shaking a pair of antlers in one hand and an orange drink in his others. "Tell me, tell me, who gave you this heavenly recipe. Your grandfather?"
"Yeah," I said quietly, "My old papa taught me. And It's a family secret, so don't ask again!"
"Take it to your grave, you beautiful man! It's the most delicious thing I've ever tasted! Your grandfather must have been half angel! Bravo, bravo!"
I was so distracted by the show the bum was putting on, I didn't notice the beautiful woman sliding up to the bar until she tapped me on the arm. "I'll have what he's having," she said.
She was pretty. Really pretty. So pretty that I couldn't find the words to answer her, so I just nodded dumbly and made her the drink. She gulped it back in a way that was somehow plain and incredibly arousing. The bum and I both waited for her verdict.
"This is really good," she said, barely above a whisper. The result was like the dam breaking. The tourists and college students and locals streamed in, and I could barely keep up with them. In a few hours I made more money then I had all week. Despite the crowd, the woman hung around until closing time. I chatted with her when I could. Her name was Marie, and she was some sort of marketing guru. I joked about being a business wizard.
"Well, you've certainly still got the touch. This is a wonderful place you've got here," she said with a smile.
I shrugged. "Not really. It's hard to compete with the surrounding bars. Usually we're not this busy."
"That's just a matter of exposure," she replied. And then she started listing all the ways the raise the bar's presence, and how she was looking to retire early, and if maybe I was free tonight to go dancing, and if I was looking for a business partner.
I didn't even notice the smelly bum rattling his antlers behind the older man from earlier, looking for his missing wife.
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 02:24|
Against the Tide - 647
The water was churning, big breakers folding in on themselves, dark eddies tormenting the pier, opening up to swallow whatever foolish mariner who was tempting the fates that day. A dark gray tempest had consumed the sky, scaring away all with any sort of pride. The man bent heavy on his cane, his broken mind no longer being able to understand gravity. With a heavy sigh he hobbled over to the dock, feet dragging lackadaisically, his cane threatening to punch it's way through the rotted wood. Struggling, he made it to the boat, never calling it his own. He wasn't foolish enough to think he could own anything, not after all was taken from him. The man gazed at the boat, in awe of it's pitted hull, the cracked gunwales that held the water away: but just barely so, the old chipped blades of the oars, the only instrument of power he had left. The man felt a tear well up, his broken body tensing, wanting to fall. He gathered himself and climbed into the boat.
Weightless n the water, suspended from his fears: he found himself. His prison glared at him, that world grounded in gravity, where man could fall time and time again. A smile crept upon his lips. With the power that only a man freed knows he took his first stroke. Shoosh. The roll of the wheels in the track, the sound of his anger dissipating. Stroke, chuh. The click of the oarlock as it prepares for his power, a power that's limited by the chains of physics. Stroke, frush. The sound of the blade slicing through the water, a dark torpedo propelling him forward, releasing him from his prison. Stroke, hah. The sound the man makes as he laughs at his oppressor, a damning laugh that haunts Newton and all his followers.
He felt the rise of that old familiar feeling... He hated it... He welcomed it...
There was a mission now, to chase down the missing parts of him; the ethereal being of his memories, the kindness that used to fill his heart and his dead, blue eyes, but more important than all of those: his need for love to conquer his soul that was black and bitter from the hate. A hate that burnt through him like a wildfire, leaving all his joy and happiness burnt, tormented into wicked creatures that plagued him. Stroke. He pulled himself closer to his prize, driven by a reckless need to find himself. Stroke. The boat jumped forward, powered by a primordial desire burning deep in his chest. Aching, he pushed on. Stroke. A tendril of memory can be felt, a fuzzy memory of a boy with ice blue eyes flooded his mind.
Sitting there, he feels the gravity, it crushing him, stopping him from being able to breathe. A sinister wave comes and crashes over him, throwing him into the sea. Like an apple falling onto a man's head. Weighted, he starts to sink. He knows his broken mind could never overcome gravity. A searing light consumes his eyes. He screams and tries to push away from his dark angel, his past. It fills him, lifts him. He was there. Eyes like glaciers pleading with him, No they said. Hair like a horse, brown and fine, clumped at its points. Lips furrowed in a slight frown, impatient with the world and its stagnant pace. Lips that told a story, a sad story nonetheless. He remembered. The gravity overtook him, lifting him. He fought endlessly wanting to go down to his grave. He saw his boat. Broken and splintered by the waves, pieces of it starting to sag in the water. Wanting to be consumed. Out of the water he rose, forever endlessly towards the inky abyss above. The great light pulsating, filling the sky with a midnight twinkle.
Shining on forever
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 02:53|
docbeard fucked around with this message at 15:33 on Dec 25, 2014
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 02:59|
The End Is Nigh
"And how exactly did you receive this divine revelation?"
"The archangel Uriel spoke to me from a urinal at the McDonald's down the road. He told me I needed to prepare the way."
And then he pissed himself while smiling beatifically.
Work was a hell of a lot easier before the locusts. Don't get me wrong, frogs weren't pleasant and nobody enjoyed boils, but it wasn't until the locusts that they pulled us into "the Taskforce." This wasn't like a Fugitive Task Force or a drug busting operation—by the time we got pulled in everyone with a badge was a member.
This is how I spend my days now, talking to bums about messages from God—and after the locusts every bum has a story about God. You ask me, I say that we’ve had a series of unfortunate coincidences. Some frogs rain down from a hurricane, a particularly virulent strain of flu breaks out and happens to cause boils, and now we’ve got locust swarms covering half the American continent, but our entomologists say that’s cyclical. You ask me, you know, I think you get enough scared congressmen together and they’ll create a committee for anything, science be damned. Thus, “the Taskforce.” Now I’m forced to interview every haruspex practicing hobo in the county. Everything in the search of an answer.
I doubt the mouthpiece of the McDonald’s metatron is our man.
After you go through enough of these intakes they all start to blur together. You forget whether your interviewee was chosen by St. John the Divine to spread the truth that peanut butter is unholy, or whether it was St. Michael and some other sweet spread. But, marmalade, jam or jelly, you can be sure that your interviewee will be a sticky, smelly man with a message from God.
I turned to my stinking soothsayer. “So, what should we do to prepare the way?” I handed him an orange. With the locusts ravaging crop production worldwide, we’ve had an increase in visions. Turns out you’re more likely to have a religious experience if you’re starving to death. Maybe some glucose will let him snap out of it.
He stared at the orange, grinned and handed it back. “There’s nothing to do but to spread the word. You’re trying to stop the current chain of events from unfolding. You need to let go, James.”
Well, he gets points for noticing the name tag. “For the record, what’s your prediction as to what is going to come next? We’re trying to catalog responses so we can better react to what’s coming down the pipe.” Not that any of you have a loving clue as to what is going on.
The fast-food fortuneteller smiled again. “You’ve read Exodus, I hope. After locusts is darkness. You’re going to want to reach for your flashlight now, James.”
The chair-pissing prophet was entertaining at least. Normally these bums have enough sense to predict something vague to ensure that we keep them around and keep them fed. Immediate darkness takes guts, I’ll give the smug bastar—
“I told you that you should reach for your flashlight, James. Here.”
I blindly reached for my flashlight. I brushed his hand as I grabbed it.
“I…I’m sorry, what’s your name again?”
“My name is Elijah, James.”
I took Elijah by the arm and leaned in. I embraced him and I could feel him—wet, soiled and warm—I didn’t care. I hugged him, breathed deep, and I felt loved.
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 03:05|
Read it in the archive.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 00:00 on Jan 2, 2015
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 03:17|
Less than an hour remains to get your manga octopusses up and out.
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 03:20|
First Thunderdome entry! I haven't written a story in years so this was fun - looking forward to the next prompt.
Love, Adrift - 937
My father was telling me about the thatcher’s stolen cart, when through the early morning’s tired rain, there was the first throat tearing cry of ‘shipwreck’.
The beach was covered with wooden debris and bodies, like feed flicked from a farmer’s wrist. The corpses were pale and crooked. One body, one... man, looked so relaxed except for the sight of his deformed pelvis. The ocean had twisted him like a pepper mill.
The living raced around looking for some way to help. At the reef where the ship had crashed, a sail whipped in the wind, letting off a thunderous crack. The crowd on the beach all looked, but there was only one who howled and whimpered. What could have been a frightened dog was a young man facing away from the wreck.
“Are you alright? It’s not thunder, if that’s what’s frightening you-” I couldn't catch his eyes, and he said nothing.
“Talk doesn't calm him. He’s... touched.” Said a man kneeling by a body.
“Samuel, look at me.” They were brothers. He sat with Samuel, and his shivering, bandaged hand pulled a paper bag from his coat. With numb fingers, he took a piece of candied orange rind, and put it between his lips and gums. Samuel did the same and they started mirroring one another’s expressions. I watched as this childish ritual played out among the dismembered cadaver of a ship and her crew.
The brother looked back to the corpse where he had knelt and he fell to the ground, yellow saliva spluttering out as he spat the orange rind into the sand, weeping. Samuel held him. The corpse was a third brother.
The sky had cleared when the last of the bodies were carried off. I watched Samuel. He was an alien in his own body, surprised by everything. At times he’d look completely lost, vacant. Did he think? What did he dream about?
Samuel’s brother was Thomas, and the brother who had died in the wreck was Robert.
“Oh Jesus, he was going to get married! He bought a house in the city! My brother…” Thomas told me about the lost future, lifting his brother onto a stretcher, his words rattling out, his eyes pleading.
Samuel was back in the shallows, away from the scavengers and mourners. He had found himself a little treasure tangled in rope. It was a burnt wooden wheel and when I neared him, he touched it hesitantly and looked at his hand. ‘This isn't hot.’ Samuel said to me, pouting indignantly at the wheel.
The brothers left, following Robert’s body, and I went into town.
‘Does this branch have a telegraphist?’ A man popped up from behind a counter, mustard on his chin. Head office replied the trading company had already started filing their insurance claim on the ship’s cargo.
REQUIRE INITIAL REPORT TO STALL CLAIM WIRE FINDINGS ASAP
What did I know? It was early; the crew couldn't have seen much between the fog and rain. But the wind was behind them and the tide smooth. But maybe... I stepped out, and made my way to the lighthouse.
The lighthouse door was open, the keeper fetal at the foot of the spiral stairs, his grey hair stained with blood. I helped clean him up and he mistook me for police, leading me up the tower.
“We just rebuilt -- not runnin’ yet. But the ships know, comin’ down they follow the coast and wash in safe, and if there’s fog out, I’ll light a fire. It’s hard, detective, to hit that reef,” We went up the last step, onto the platform. “Somebody clobbered me. When I came to I saw a fire, through the fog. There.” His arm pointed to the point across the bay, above the jagged reef.
My shoes sank in the wet grass now where the keeper had pointed. Below, small boats braved the reef to save what bodies they could before families’ closure sank to the ocean’s floor. I could see no sign of the fire that the keeper saw from across the bay. Defeated, I slumped over, and staring at my feet I noticed two lines of pressed grass, they were tracks. They ran right off the edge of the cliff. Samuel had held the answer. There had been a lighthouse on wheels.
It didn't take long to find where the brothers lived.
“Robert’s house in the city,” I slowed down. “He wasn't going to take the two of you, was he?”
“No.” Thomas looked small in that kitchen. How many meals had they shared at this table?
“I’m guessing you pushed the wagon off alone, but Samuel must have seen your burn-”
“He wasn't going to take the two of us... Just Samuel,” Tears started to well up. “He was going to take Samuel away; he said he could look after him. How could he ever look after him?” He was gasping as spoke. “He was going to have him committed! I know it. I know it! Why do it? Why did he want to take away my family?”
I felt... embarrassed. What was I doing here? What did either of us expect me to do?
“If you wanted a loan, Thomas, I would be the one. But… if you want to know what Robert was thinking, or going to do, it’s too late, Thomas. If you want punishment, or forgiveness, there will be others. But I’m not the one.’
As I stood and turned to leave, I looked in Samuel’s eyes, and I hoped, in that moment, that he was as simple as he seemed.
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 03:21|
Truth and Beauty Bombs
It’s nighttime, and I’m placing C4 around the perimeter of the building. It’s ramshackle enough, but you can never be too sure. I’ve got explosives packed around all the major supports that I can find, and extra just for flair. I’ve also set more explosives on a 10 minute timer. That’s when I figure anyone who is going to come see what happened will have showed up, and then BOOM! The most invigorating vacation yet.
There’s a small hill a bit back from my project. I shelter behind it, away from the brunt of the first blast. It goes off without a hitch. I climb to sit on top, and the melody of far off sirens trickles through the cold night air.
The fire department is the first to arrive, their hoses aimed towards the flames that lick the sky. Behind them are police, then a lone ambulance. I crouch behind the hill again. The rescue workers stay back, but not far enough to avoid the second wave of explosions. Screams puncture the night, and the adrenaline that I crave so dearly is overflowing from my every pore. My eyes feast on the scene playing out below me. It’s slow and painful and the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.
I get excited for burning buildings. Tragedy pushes adrenaline through my fibers. Natural disasters make me feel alive. I don’t throw caution to the wind; I vivisect it and determine it to be a hazard to my health. Being reminded of the temporary nature of life is my drug. I think Joey Comeau said it best, “I’d rather die terrified than live forever.” The man makes a great point. What’s the point of being alive if you’re not actually living?
Don’t think that you’re crazy for thinking me insane or foolish; all my friends do. I can’t share this ‘hobby’, as it were, with them. They worry for me. They call my obsession dangerous. For a while, they invited me to share in their hobbies, mountain biking and karaoke, but the rush isn’t there. It’s like comparing sandpaper and citrus, if you’ll pardon the butchered and trite analogy.
They don’t know the worst of it, though. If I need a fix, and nothing sufficiently insane is happening, I make my own fun. I don’t go too terribly far, really. I stick mostly to light arson. I’ve dabbled in pipe bombs. I’m experimenting with chlorine gas. These projects fill the times when the world has gone quiet around me.
I didn’t think to count the explosions, so I didn’t realize that there were two that hadn’t gone off. They did, maybe five minutes after the second wave, and I didn’t duck or cover my face. I was too busy taking in my handiwork. The charges ignited and flared into the dark and smoky air, blinding me.
My field of vision was destroyed. Everything, everywhere I looked, was a brilliant white. I covered my eyes with my hands and blinked, hard. Nothing. I could still hear the muffled sobbing coming from the wreckage below, and I listened while going through my options.
I couldn’t walk home; it was hard enough to get out here without getting lost with my sight intact. I couldn’t go down to the paramedics; they were in no shape to help. My last and only option was to voice dial a friend and have them find me. But I had to wait until morning. If my friends came out here and found me right by this ‘crime scene’, they wouldn’t hesitate to turn me in. As far as they knew, my obsession only extended so far as things that I had no control over.
I waited until more sirens came and worked through the carnage of their friends. I waited until people that sounded important came and ruffled around with their dogs. I waited until I could feel the noon sun beating down on my upturned face, and then I called my friend.
He found me, and brought me to a hospital. He didn’t ask any questions; I think he was just resigned to not wanting to know how it happened. The doctors asked their questions and whispered in the corner.
“Don’t know that he’ll recover…”
“Psych eval for sure, maybe the third floor has room…”
I got to talk to the shrink. She sounded calm, but what reason would she have not to? A newly-blinded man is probably not that much of a threat. She asked me how I was blinded, what I was doing so close to the scene of the explosion, why did I have explosive residue on my hands. I guess I gave her the answers she wanted, because after that she only asked one more question before she left me.
“Why? What were you thinking?”
“I’d rather die terrified than live forever. Wouldn’t you?”
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 03:26|
The Changing of the Guard
This was a travesty.
DISCO DEMOLITION NIGHT
Bring any disco record to the park on the evening of July 7th, 1979 for a fifty cent admission to watch your Chicago White Sox take on the Minnesota Twins in a double header. Between games, send the 70‘s out with a bang as we blow up bad music with the help of a special guest!
Andy read the poster. It was shameless; it was blatant, and it was everything that he hated about where this organization was going. Not to mention that it was a dumb idea. Not that it would be his concern much longer, he was about to be fired. There had been rumblings from upstairs about a new, official, mascot for some time, so when Harry Veeck summoned Andy to his office at the top of Comiskey Park, he knew his time had come.
Mr. Veeck started with a bullshit formality. “Andrew,” he said, “we respect the time that you’ve spent representing the organization unofficially; it’s been what, fifteen years?”
“Twenty starting next season,” Andy answered. Never in his twenty years of clowning had he felt like more of a fool
“And we appreciate your dedication, but starting next season, the organization will be going with a new mascot. We’re going to unveil them tonight.”
“Congratulations,” Andy said in the flattest tone he could muster, careful not to invoke any humor into the moment.
“So that means Andy the Clown can’t come to games anymore. Andrew Kosloski is welcome to attend, so long as he buys a ticket and dresses normally. I’ve told the ushers that after tonight they are prohibited from letting you into the park for free. You can make tonight your curtain call if you would like, but security has been instructed to confine you to the upper decks.”
The upper decks were fine with him. The clown was a child of the upper decks, the son of a bus driver and waitress. He started in the upper decks, originally wearing the clown costume as a joke, but as he danced and tumbled in those early innings nineteen years ago, people turned from the game; he was as captivating as anything on the diamond. Andy was fine ending his career where it started.
He was twisting a balloon animal when the game ended. It was a snoozer, with the White Sox losing by five. Neither he nor the boy noticed until the sounds of the Beegees’ Stayin’ Alive filled the summer night. Large men began hauling the crates of collected records into the infield. After three songs, they had a pile larger than Andy himself.
A tinny voice echoed in the stadium. “And now, Chicago,” it began, “for the moment you’ve been waiting for. Let’s make some noise for tonight’s fireworks display and for your new mascot, Ribbie!”
From the upper deck it looked like a massive purple chicken with a long floppy trunk swinging from its face. Andy and the boy watched as Ribbie held his trunk like a baseball bat and took a few warm up swings.
“That’s nothing,” Andy said, extending his hand, “put ‘er there.”
The boy took it and shook, causing Andy’s rigid red nose to glow and pulse with the up and downs of the handshake.
The boy didn’t seem particularly amused.
“And now,” the voice interrupted, “with the help of Ribbie, let’s deal with this disco!”
The crowd began to rumble as Ribbie tumbled over to an over sized plunger detonator. Andy saw the boy follow Ribbie with his gaze.
“Hey,” Andy said to the kid, “You don’t want to watch a bunch of knuckleheads blow themselves up, do you?”
“Ummm,” the kid paused.
“Watch this,” Andy said, flashing a toothy grin. Andy took a bow, and removed his red bowler hat, revealing three lemons.
“I got these from my friend at the lemonade stand. Go over and tell him that I sent you and he’ll give you a free one, on me. Okay?”
A palpable tension overcame the crowd as they fell into a hushed quiet. Ribbie began counting on his hands, coaching the stadium to do the same. “Three,” they chanted, “two, one.” Andy began juggling when they hit one. Tossing all three lemons into the air, Andy began to toss them about with the kind of skill that only comes with years of routine.
“What’ll you say kid?” Andy said, “Why don’t you grab one and-”
Andy didn’t know what happened next, but his ears were ringing and he dropped his lemons. Where the records were piled in the infield was now a crater, blackened and dented by the force of the explosion. The boy began to cry when Andy felt a bite on his neck, and then the slow seeping of blood. A vinyl shard fell into his lap. Momentarily, he was back in the service. Instinctively, Andy covered his head.
It didn’t rain for long, but when it stopped, another calm overtook the crowd. Splinters of the records, of Donna Summer, KC and the Sunshine Band, and Kool and the Gang, littered the field. The tension grew immediately and exponentially, as the second sneeze in a series of two. Then the fans were on the field. Those in the lower deck vaulted over the guard rails and dugouts, and then each other, while those in the upper deck scrambled their way downstairs to find their own way onto the diamond. The boy was gone.
Andy fought the feeling of uneasiness as he left the park. If he hurried he would make the bus.
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 03:50|
First Thunderdome entry ever. Help.
Chris’s mind was muddled as he walked out of the examination hall, sure that his GPA was doomed, his academic future in shambles. He stopped as he reached the steps down to the sidewalk, turned around, and scanned the remnants of the crowd leaving the building. Penny caught his eye and grinning widely, waved to him. With a false smile, Chris managed a twitch of his fingertips and watched as she, along with two other classmates - he thought their names were Diana and Jacqueline, made her way up to his side.
“That was really a difficult test, wasn’t it?” Penny asked, still smiling. “Thought my brain would just die right there in the examination hall and float away, leaving my body behind.”
Chris groaned. “I think that’s exactly what happened to me, to be honest. I couldn’t answer all the questions, and -”
“Well, being late couldn’t have helped,” Diana chirped. “I mean, I thought that you of all people would show up on time.”
“Did you just forget to set the alarm?” Jacqueline asked.
“Well, not really. Erm, I stayed up to like two in the morning studying and covering some stuff, so I just slept right through it.”
“I know.” Chris almost wailed. “I probably completely bombed it and my parents are going to kill me and they’re going to take away all my games and…”
As he continued venting (in this rather theatrical fashion), Diana raised an eyebrow as she looked at Penny, who just laughed. They continued walking back, and as Diana and Jacqueline left for the dining hall, Chris asked Penny how she did. Upon hearing “Erm, I’m pretty sure I did pretty well, you know” (along with the giggles at the joke she thought she made), Chris turned on Penny and spat out:
“What? But you never get any of the questions right in discussion! I mean, it’s practically a running joke in the class! How can somebody who can’t even remember what Avogadro’s number is for possibly think that she did ‘pretty well’?”
Penny laughed again, and Chris’ face became even stormier, and she finally said, “Silly! Didn’t you notice why I always answered wrong?” Upon seeing Chris’ confused expression, she said primly, “Think about it for a while, and we’ll meet up for dinner, okay?”
Chris nodded slowly, and asked, “Same time, right?”
Chris was still gloomy when Penny walked up to him, greeted him, and dragged him into Oceano, the local dining hall. Only when they had received and paid for their meals did she ask him about the question she asked earlier.
Sitting down into the wobbly chair, Chris answered slowly, “I think I might have an answer.”
She clapped her hands together, and said, “Tell me!”
“Well, you always - always - answer the question wrong, but you’re generally the first person to answer the question. I wasn’t joking about the ‘running joke’ thing - it’s almost a comedy routine in the class at this point. Johnson asks a question, you give an outlandish answer, the whole class laughs, and we continue on.” He looked up at her, and upon seeing her nod, continued. “You used to get the really basic answers wrong, but you never answered a question twice. So I guess you were just trying out trial and error? Learning from your mistakes?”
Penny shook her head. “Think again. Why did I always answer first?”
“...nobody else raised their hands?” Chris mumbled more to himself than anything, looking down at his plate - a slice of pizza along with an orange. “Uh, I think on the first day after we finally dealt with all the stupid admin stuff, nobody really wanted to answer any of Johnson’s questions even if they knew the answer.” Like me. “So you got sick of the silence and tried to throw something out there?”
“Not really. Why did everybody keep quiet? At the very least, why did you keep quiet?”
“Well, I was afraid…” of getting the question wrong. Oh. Chris looked up. “Wait, are you seriously telling me that you were just trying to get everybody else to participate?”
Penny giggled. “It worked, didn’t it? And everybody’s happier. Johnson doesn’t have to ask a question and wait thirty seconds for a response, and people can actually learn instead of falling asleep. And most people would know the correct answer afterwords, mostly because -”
“- because your answers were always really… eccentric.” Like calling HCl the divine nectar the Greek Gods drank, and that's why it neutralized "that nasty base" to form water. “Okay. I think I get it.”
They ate, and after they finished, Penny said, hesitantly, “You know, I think you’ll do fine on the final. The curve’s always there after all, even if it doesn’t work out as well as you’d have liked, you’ll pass. And there’s always next quarter.”
“I know. And well, uh…” Chris fidgeted. Penny raised an eyebrow. “Yes?”
“Could we study together next quarter? I think it would help.”
“Ooh, the lone wolf joins the pack.” Chris flushed, and Penny continued. “Yeah, sure! It’d be fun! Well, not really fun, but helpful and educational and stuff like that. C’mon, let’s get back to the common room. I want to show this amazing new show! It’s got magic and mirrors and lots and lots of smoke and…”
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 03:50|
Long Live the King
King George was beside himself. His people were a hair away from open revolt. His wife was carrying on with an affair with his best knight. To cope, he indulged himself in his creature comforts--his liquor mixed in with fresh squeezed orange juice and entertainment from his new court jester, Marvin the Moron.
“Summon the royal jester!”
Martin bounded in, doing forward flips before tumbling and standing straight up with his arms outstretched.
“Leave us,” King George instructed his guardsmen as they left the hall. “Marvin, do you remember what happened to my last jester, Sebastian the Snarky?”
Marvin gave a nervous smile. “He always looked so much better from the neck up.”
“Indeed he did,” King George said and chuckled. “Now amuse me, or your head will end up on a pike as well!”
“If I may m'lord,” Marvin said uneasily, “I've noticed that you're pouring quite a bit of liquor in your orange juice.”
“”Why do you notice?” He asked testily and took another sip.
“Why m'lord, for liquor is the great equalizer!”
“How so?” The King asked as he raised his eyebrow.
“For it is liquor that turns us all into fools!”
The King laughed jovially. “How very, very true! Now tell me, Marvin,” the King said and took a deep drink out of his glass, “What are your thoughts on what is happening in my kingdom?”
Marvin was perplexed. “M'lord, it is often unwise for someone of your position to seek the counsel of a fool like myself.”
“Oh, I'm not seeking counsel,” he said. “I figure I can get a laugh out of it if I can get drunk enough.”
“Well, if you insist-” Marvin said uneasily.
“And I do,” the King said as he took another drink.
“Well,” Marvin began, “I would presume that you fear for your life.”
“A king always fears for his life,” King George said. “What makes now any different?”
“Because now, I'd be wary of assassination.”
“Really? Tell me then,” he said and leaned in. “Who would be most likely to try to assassinate me?”
“First rule of theater, m'lord--it's always the last person you'd expect.”
“And who would that be?”
“Why me, your humble court jester, of course!”
King George laughed so hard that he spilled his glass and almost fell out of his seat. “You? A simple jester? Assassinate me, your King?!”
“Indeed, m'lord,” Marvin said and smiled. “In fact, I switched your liquor with poison!”
King George was doubled-over in hysterics. He laughed so hard, he dropped his glass on the ground as it shattered in a million pieces. His laugh was so loud that it echoed throughout the hall before he choked, hyperventilated, and fell on the ground.
“They never listen,” Marvin said and tsked. He heard someone pounding at the door. Working fast, Marvin sliced off the King's ring finger with the ring still attached, put it in his pocket, and rushed towards the window behind the throne as the guardsmen burst in. With a snappy salute, he leapt out the window and landed in a cart full of hay below.
“So did you do it?” The driver asked. Marvin answered by showing him the severed finger and ring.
“You know, it never ceases to amaze me how they never suspect the jester,” the driver said as he started driving the wagon.
“You can tell someone just about anything as long as it's a joke,” Marvin said and gave him a sly wink.
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 03:50|
Tarok's mother and father took him to the town seer on the day of his birth, where it was revealed that Tarok was fated to be a vagabond. Back in their meager cottage, his parents swore it would never be so.
As Tarok grew, so did rumors of famine from the south. Soon, refugees slouched into the town square in hollow-eyed throngs, and made a sad little encampment around the well.
Tarok was curious. His mother saw him watching the refugees, dragged him into the house, and cut up one of her old dresses to make crude window covers. She forbade him to go outside.
The rough encampment had been in town some days when a knock sounded at the cottage door. Father went outside. Tarok heard low, angry tones through the thin walls.
That night, Father took Grandfather’s sword, never before unsheathed in Tarok’s life, and went to the town square with the other men. Though Tarok was some thirteen years old, nearly a man by all accounts, his mother held him to her bosom like a babe as shouts and then screams filled the night.
After a time, father returned. The town square was empty.
Tarok was permitted outside, so long as he didn’t follow the stampede trail of the refugees’ exodus. No one spoke of the men’s dark deed.
The refugees returned by night bearing torches. Tarok woke to smoke and screams, Father already gone with the old sword, Mother crying and dragging Tarok from his mat. He stumbled out of sleep and into a nightmare; the town was burning, neighbors attacking neighbors in the suffocating confusion of smoldering thatch and straw.
Mother pulled him around back of the cottage, whose roof was already catching flame, and shoved him into the darkness beyond the conflagration.
Tarok had never known fear, never known pain, never known anything like the raw, animal panic that compelled him to run blindly into the forest beyond the town.
When next he returned, there were only ashes and blood, and Mother and Father were nowhere to be found.
After a night and a day, Tarok turned south, and followed the path of the refugees.
Days passed, then weeks. Tarok slept in hay, drank warm milk straight from the udder when he came across cows, stole vegetables from what few intact farms he found in the refugees’ wake. The further south he went, the more the air warmed, and the plants and animals became strange and colorful.
How could there ever be famine in such a place? Tarok wondered. Perhaps the refugees had simply grown greedy, or disinterested in the abundance all around them. Perhaps he could find them and explain that they need not have overrun his village, for plenty was theirs for the taking.
Then he came across the armored men on the roads, men who jabbed with spears any time Tarok drew close to a particularly verdant patch of land. He could see tall trees behind them, heavy with colorful fruits. The ground was carpeted with sweet-smelling rot, but Tarok was sent away and told that all fruit belonged to His Majesty.
Tarok had never met a Majesty, but he found it hard to imagine one man, majestic or not, could eat all of the fruit.
It was a problem of words: His Majesty was of a group called the Hesec, while the refugees were of the Damatis. Both words were just sounds to Tarok, and most folk on the road shied away from him when he told them as much. But a few began to follow him.
“I am Tarok,” he would say to them. “Is Tarok a lesser thing than His Majesty? When his Majesty eats his fruit, does he not squeeze his mud out into the latrine afterward, as Tarok does? Do the Hesec not stink and sweat as the Damatis do?”
The braver folk laughed and nodded, raised their fists, shouted their assent.
But soon Tarok’s following became too many, and he found himself in manacles before His Majesty.
“Northerner,” boomed the king from his throne. “You tell my people that I poo poo and sweat like a commoner, and thus I have no divine right to the yield of my kingdom. For this, you must be hanged.”
“Does His Majesty deny that he squeezes stink from his bowels?” Tarok asked, emboldened by his time wandering. “Perhaps he must needs prove his divinity.”
“Silence!” His Majesty roared, but he gestured for his guards to stay their weapons. “My court grows foppish and hackneyed. Suppose I were to indulge your accusation with a small contest?”
Tarok agreed, and a table was brought into the great hall, laden with more fruit than he had ever seen in one place.
His Majesty sat on one side of the mound sweet-smelling mound, Tarok on the other. The terms were set: If Tarok could eat more fruit than the king without needing to move his bowels, the fruit trees would be the domain of Hesec and Damatis alike. If he failed, he would be hanged.
The rind was tough, and Tarok struggled to unpeel even one of the fruits. His fingers were sticky with juice by the time he succeeded.
The first bite stung, sweet and sour wrapped up in one sensation. Tarok savored, then took another.
“Dallying will get you nowhere except the gallows,” said the king through a mouthful of fruit. There was a growing mound of rinds before him.
“Ah, Majesty,” Tarok said, licking his fingers. “What I’ve tasted just now, you will never have. Send me to the gallows if you will, but know that I go with your finest treasure on my tongue.”
The king looked down at his pile of peels, realized that he hadn’t tasted a single bite. Tarok was pardoned there in the courtroom, the fruit trees declared free for all to savor.
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 04:00|
That's it, boys and girls and protoplasm. Time is up, pencils are down. Now sit quietly until the judges have read over this mountain of waffly drivel and ascertained who is the least cringe-worthy.
If you failed to submit - you are barely worthy of this notional plegm I am currently considering hoiking in your direction.
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 04:26|
fuckin' lol next time I'm not writing scifi because I spent too loving long worldbuilding. Also this is my first entry ever and I am garbage at writing dialogue but no excuses.
From this high up the skyline of the city seemed almost pretty. poo poo, it almost looked tranquil from this distance. The neon glow faded into this beautiful sea of lights, and unlike at street level, she didn't feel oppressed by the advertisements and billboards everywhere, shilling their wares. The skyscrapers seemed much less ominous from a mile above, and she could actually see the drat moon and stars for once.
And its not like she didn't have plenty of time to enjoy the view, since the drat chopper was on autopilot. She missed the feel of the joystick, and quite frankly would've just jumped in herself but "mission parameters" dictated that she run the digital side of the infiltration and let the chopper run itself.
The fact that last time she was out she crashed both the company car AND the motorcycle Chairman Lito had so graciously loaned her didn't really help much but given the uh, blatantly illegal nature of her missions, something about how she was never actually caught on any of these jobs ingratiated her to the executive board.
Tonight's mission was fairly run of the mill. Take down perimeter security, set down on the roof, bust into the datacenters, and snatch and grab and get out. Silently. Chairman Lito had been very VERY specific about exactly how quiet it had to be.
Her partner for tonight was this stoic type by the name of K-Roll. Young enough to not remember the old days. Before the self-contained company "campuses", before those companies merged, and merged, and merged again, annexing entire towns. poo poo, the kid was probably born after the fall of the US government, probably was born into one of those megaplexes that sprang up once everything went private and the US became a series of privately owned nation-states.
He didn't really say much. They had been running recon ops for the past week, and after their initial meeting, he was strictly business. She couldn't tell if he was a pro, or just really fuckin' shy, but either way it suited her just fine. Dude was either at his terminal or in his "cage" lifting weights or some other caveman poo poo. She was decked out in all kinds of augmentations. He seemed to be a lot more old-school about his approach to things.
They had been canvassing one of the habs, trying to find an in with an engineer or somebody who had access to the internal datanets, posing as Arbiters. It was one of her favorite covers because, to most people Arbiters were below rent-a-cop status and only existed to add more bureaucratic horseshit to the process of keeping the infrastructure going.
poo poo, her Arbiter uniform even had her loving proper name on the badge. "Sossa Grey, Deputy, BoostrapCorp" in nice bold black letters. K-Roll was a little harder to make convincing, but he was muscular and imposing enough that people didn't really ask many questions.
After hours of inquiries, turning up jack poo poo, one of the housewives seemed to take a liking to K-Roll, the neanderthal looking motherfucker, and pointed us in the direction of one of the penthouse residents, one of the higher ups in accounting for Bootstrap by the name of Ellis. We stepped into the elevator, and getting out of the penthouse, it was clear that the top of this hab lived a very different life than those below. There were actual real, live plants in the landing, and not a single advertisement on any of the vidscreens.
I rang the doorbell, not really looking forward to talking to yet another useless suit. I looked back at K-Roll, who had the same deadpan expression on his face. I swear to god the kid might be retarded, but the Chairman's personnel brief had nothing but glowing commendations on his hacking work, let alone his more uh, physical abilities.
The door swung open, and I was surprised to see the man behind it. A fairly slim man, almost handsome if it weren't for his drat beard, dressed about as well as any of these penthouse HENRYs were greeted us.
"Evening, arbiters. What can I do for you tonight?"
"Sir, I'm from Enterprise Division. We've had multiple latency complaints from penthouse residents and we wanted to take a look at your hub"
"Oh but of course, come right in! I've been having some bandwith problems tonight and I'm glad Enterprise is so on top of things!"
It wasn't necessarily a lie. The particular hubs Boostrap used had a nasty tendency to poo poo themselves if you prodded them a certain way, and weirdly enough K-Roll had dropped a bug on the hab's intranet to let us play with them at will. Including this dumb bastard's.
Ellis's apartment was pretty drab, even by HENRY standards. He could afford real fruit, and some of his furniture was even real wood. Something twigged me out though. A lot of these things were a little TOO nice for what was collectively a shithole.
He caught me staring a little too intently at his fruit bowl. I almost got the feeling he was sizing me up almost as much as I was sizing him up.
"Those oranges are organic you know" he said, slightly haughty "I prefer most things in my life to be organic. Even in this day and age of technology, there's something to be said for the old ways. Would you like one?"
I shot K-Roll a look as if to say "its not like I can afford this poo poo on my salary" and I went right in as he fiddled with the hub. Ellis was completely oblivious, prattling on about the history of that orange, how it was grown in some grove far to the south in another complex and how the taste reminded him of his old house, and how the plex was filling up with tourists and other unseemly types.
While he was gushing about his orange, K-Roll was working on the hub, dropping in backdoor that would let us commandeer all of Ellis's traffic, so we could shape his traffic and do all the intranet stuff we needed to break in. Once he nodded at me I broke in politely "Sir, it seems like my partner has finished up with your hub. Let us know if you have any further trouble"
He smiled, and as we were walking out, he followed us, carrying a scooter. Fuckin' HENRYs were intent on showcasing their wealth, and the latest trend was these stainless steel monstrosities. "I'm going out for a drink, would either of you care to join me?" he said as we got into the elevator
"Sorry sir, we're still on shift. Another time, perhaps" I said, coldly. "Oh of course, of course" he smiled as he unfolded his scooter and rolled off into the night. K-Roll bursted out laughing as soon as he was out of earshot. "That dude gives me a bad vibe, yo. Creep status"
That was the last full sentence he haid said to her, in the week following, and even on the chopper right now. Speaking of which, the landing chime sounded, so she got ready to move. The Chairman was right, K-Roll had done his homework because she got all the way to the datacenter without so much as a peep.
He stood guard outside as she darted in and hopped on a console. She couldn't help but glance at the data she was jacking. Highly unusual, but then again this job tended to be exactly that. This time, however she was seeing some VERY questionable financial transactions. Almost as if somebody at Bootstrap was intentionally trying to sink the ship to leverage a buyout from my company. Not her question to ask. That being said, she couldn't help but notice a massive acquisition order for some fruit flash by. Right as the transfer finished, the console went apeshit and alarms started ringing out.
K-Roll charged in. "Let me deal with security you get your rear end to the chopper and we'll deal with exfil when we get to it. GO GO GO".
I beat feet to the stairs. No way I could make it up in the elevator in time. I heard K-Roll cursing over comms as security poured into the datacenter but I was too busy sprinting up the stairs to care. I burst through the doors to the roof, only to find the fuckin' chopper was all the way on the other side.
As I ran to the chopper I heard the elevator chime, and the sound of wheels, and a foot rhythmically hitting the concrete. By the sound of it there was no way I could make it to the chopper before the scooter caught up with me.
I sighed as I drew my katana.
Casual Encountess fucked around with this message at 04:39 on Apr 14, 2014
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 04:32|
Everybody knows about the scene in Game of Thrones season 3 by now, you know which one I'm talking about : The one where they hangglide over Westeros while broing out and knocking back some beers, after doing other tons of awesome XTREME sports. But some people don't have TV, so we should do them the honor of retellling these stories.
200 word recounts of Westeros Xtreme.
It's not really fanfiction since it ACTUALLY HAPPENED ON THE SHOW.
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 05:06|
Game of Thrones S03E09: The Bros of Castamere 238 or some poo poo
“Suck my diiiick, biiitches,” Varys, the Eunuch, yelled from the top of the mountain, high above Westeros. He grabbed a fistful of cloak where he balls ought have been. “Oh, wait! Ha ha ha. gently caress all ya’ll!” He skulled the rest of his ale, smashed the pewter stein and flipped off the world.
“Hurry up you literal bellend!” Someone called from behind him.
“Shouldn’t you be off giving one to your sister, Jamie?” The group behind Varys all laughed, and he took that as his cue. He got under his hang glider, braced himself, and sprinted off the edge of the platform.
“Yeoooow!” Was his fading cry.
Back on the lookout Tywin was moping. He never liked these ‘Boy’s Weekends’. Always seemed a little… fruity. That and he sprained his ankle dirt biking and everyone called him a geriatric.
Joffrey was trying to impress The Hound with mostly bullshit stories about which maids supposedly blew him before he was crowned. The Hound was shooting ‘help me’ eyes to Tyrion.
But Tyrion was busy. “Okay, Littledick -- oops, sorry -- Littlefinger, we both fire an arrow straight up, and whoever’s arrow lands closest to him wins.”
“Oh I don’t know, what if they hit us?”
“Don’t be a pussy, Pete. Plus, you've got two feet on me: if they’re gonna land on us, I’ll get a split second to watch you die before I get brained. Totes worth it, dog.”
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 05:50|
|# ? Dec 7, 2023 16:23|
I said, as penance for not submitting last week, that I'd crit the first five entries. What a maroon I am. I'm not going to line-by-line them, but I'll go further than a one-paragraph response.
Please note: if my critique of your story makes you mad, remind yourself that I've never even got an honorable mention for Thunderdome and have hit the DM area multiple times. I'm by no means a perfect writer. Also, I feast on tears.
I'm not sure how you want me to feel about A Talentless Hack. He's a gross-looking nerd who just wants to try his best to help people? Why make him so ugly, in both hygiene and appearance? Making characters more than a one-dimensional stereotype is useful, but you've got less than a thousand words to tell a whole story; by not playing with the stereotype you physically described, it just comes across as a story about a low self esteem nobody doing very little.
"Hambeast: The Novella" - 931 words
I don't understand what the theme was in this story. Were you trying to write a piece about how ugly awkward people can care about stuff? Were you telling a story about how people use the internet to disguise who they are as a person? It felt like you were leaning that way, what with "nobody cared that I was gross" and the reveal that farmgirl17 was a guy named Kyle, but it wasn't obvious - or funny - or important - enough to come across as intentional. Ultimately, I didn't really care that much about this; it wasn't great, it wasn't horrific, it was just some words.
Also, maybe I'm missing it, but who was the wise fool? Where's the citrus fruit?
Nitpicky: Opened is spelled with one N. The name A Talentless Hack should have been capitalized in the introduction. Services like Facebook and Paypal should be capitalized. Shortening the main character's name down to ATH is ugly. The stammering over the phone paragraph is ugly.
My favorite part: The first sentence was fuckin' gross and awesome all at the same time.
My least favorite part: The last sentence doesn't feel like a coda to success, or like a satisfying punch. It's just there; a lovely-sounding line that edges the story into awkward.
Well, you've read a lot of fantasy. It shows in your writing; this is semi competent, it hits all the prompt points, it has a story, it has named characters, there's a castle or some poo poo, and it's flat as gently caress. I don't care about any of these characters; there's Theogren, the flat dude in armor, there's Dasha, the flat fool who does backflips, and there's "everyone else," the flat window dressing. I don't care about the dialog, because it all fell under the same steamroller of by-rote hit-the-notes that the characters and setting did. Next time you want to write short fiction fantasy, get weird with it. Real weird. If you're going to have flat characters, dialog, and action scenes, either Asmiov out with an exploration of a crazy concept or emulate Vandermeer or Mieville and show me a weird drat cactus dude.
The Greatest of Fools - 704 words
Short fiction is like skateboarding videos: the worst thing you can do is try and impress people by doing something that's already been done. Flat fantasy's already been done.
The prose itself doesn't have any huge issues in terms of grammar, and your pacing is a lot better than mine usually is. The action scene... eh. I'm a big fan of a well-written action scene, and this is what fantasy is good for, but it just didn't feel like there was much at stake. You can fix this by shortening your sentence length, making someone seem more intense, or just going to the extreme. "Theogren snarled and ran at someone" - there was no buildup, nothing. There was a moment to show that Theogren, the champion of King Aldus, got his reputation from being a crazy mad berzerker, or maybe he's a hyper-competent silent type, or something... instead, we just get "a guy who we know fights, does so."
Nitpicky: "Said she" is pretentious and terrible. "He dodged it, grinning" is terrible too. "But alas: " reads nicer with a semicolon instead of a colon.
My favorite part: I want to nebulously say "the pacing" but I'm going to call out specifics. I liked that the fool threw a banana peel under the foot of a big tough guy. It was a good use of an old gag. It got me excited to see maybe some more pranks.
My least favorite part: Short fiction European fantasy. Okay, I'll be specific: the last sentence is jacked up and makes no sense and doesn't feel satisfying and I hate it. I really, really hate it. I was going to call out "THEY SAY DEATH WEARS THE GARB OF A FOOL" but then I read a little further and that last sentence just makes me so so angry.
Oh buddy, you get the prize of "my least favorite of the first five." This is a confusing story about an rear end in a top hat sociopath running around and getting her way with no comeuppance. This would be totally fine if, y'know, you'd explored a concept or had well-written prose but oh buddy, that ain't happening here.
What's going on with the lemon part? And what's going on with the Sheik? Either one of those stories should be your full story. You open and close talking about the lemonade stand with the sister, which makes the entire section with the Sheik a five or six hundred word pointless interlude that can be replaced with "When I go to work, I'm a dick." You wrote about a boss who keeps a secretary around exclusively because she can get coke - where's that story? Where's their interactions about this? Why did you mention that? You say the secretary is incompetent, then instantly show her doing just fine at her job. Cut, trim, get rid of anything about her other than "I buzzed my secretary" because I don't understand what you're doing here.
You say your main character changed her name to be more Eurocentric - what was it before? Why did you mention that? That's the main problem I have with this piece. Every little thing thrown in here, I have no idea why you included it.
The ending, eurgh. This is the first of the first five stories where the final sentence isn't the worst thing of the story, but you made up for that with the third-and-second-last sentences.
I don't know who the wise fool is supposed to be.
Nitpicky: Three quarters of the commas in this should be full stops. I can't nitpick this; it needs a dramatic rewrite. Show your next piece to another TD entrant next week - showing drafts is unbelievably helpful, and people are way less mean when it comes to one-on-one critiques in private. Especially when it's a draft - as a draft, you're saying "please look at this unfinished work," but as a submission, you're saying "I think this is worthy of thrusting at people."
My favorite part: Genuinely enjoyed the "I could sell it to babies!" line, and the lines around it. That paragraph was the strongest part of this story, and could do with a little bit of editing to make it great. I seriously enjoyed the idea of this psychopath staring down at an oil tycoon and thinking "you were just born over oil, you don't deserve a bit of it." That one paragraph hinted at a much stronger, funnier, better story that I'm sure you could put together.
My least favorite part: The entire lemonade story. It serves to show that the main character gives more of a poo poo about money than people, but so does all the rest of the story. It's not even told in a fashion to show "I don't learn from my mistakes" - it's like the protagonist is fuckin' proud that they're an unrepentant rear end in a top hat.
You loving started with a goddamn fake poem I want you to burn to death in a real world fire.
It's really disappointing that the language in this is fun, modern, and fast paced, because it took me multiple paragraphs to get over the poem and start to enjoy myself. Coincidentally, it also took multiple paragraphs for your story to begin. You can tell where your story should have started - you wrote the words "It begins with..." after two hundred and fifty words of nothing. There's a maximum word count in TD to make you pare off all the pointless poo poo. Go read Tyrannosaurus's story this week; it's less than 300 words and hits everything in the prompt competently. You wrote almost as much pointless poo poo (including a goddamn fakepoem) as your introduction, in a flash fiction competition, as someone else wrote for their entire story.
The language being fun and modern saved this for me; I had to reread a couple of times before I understood what this story was actually about, and if you'd been even slightly less flippant with the text, I wouldn't have bothered. It's about a king pretending to be a fool to hide from his lovely subjects and peers, right? I'm still not entirely sure.
Speaking of not being sure, I have no idea what that joke about "once you're shaking his hand, it's at groin level" means. Maybe I'm the moron (it wouldn't be the first time) but I don't get that whole paragraph.
This has a stronger ending than the first couple, but it's still not great. It doesn't feel like a satisfying response, which makes the whole thing not really feel like a full story. This has the pacing and wordplay of an introductory monologue to a lovely TV show about a king in hiding, running around and solving medieval crimes. It's... it's there, there's all these words, but they don't feel like they mean anything. There's no sense of danger or urgency; the story starts with the protagonist totally safe and fine and ends totally safe and fine, with a plot point of "he continues being totally safe and fine." I know how fun that is to write, but it's only right now that I've realized how annoying it is to read.
You hit the fool part of the prompt right, but I'm not super sure about the wise part. And I'm definitely sure a peach is not a citrus fruit.
Nitpicky: You spelled little "liitle." Concoctions has a C in it. A space should go between words and the - after them. Ellipses are okay for a scene change, but it looks kind of like a blog entry that wants me to click to read more after the cut instead of a scene change. I like to use a simple - but hey, personal taste.
My favorite part: I want to say "the language" but again, I'm being specific. The exploration of what makes a good king (not just milk and honey, but who has it and where to get it) followed immediately by what makes a good tyrant was a great juxtaposition that showed how much this person thinks about royalty and leadership without saying "I think about royalty and leadership a lot."
My least favorite part: You opened with a goddamn fake poem and I jumped into the TD IRC and said that I hope you lose exclusively because of that. Nothing in the entire history of fiction makes me want to track down and assault an author more than a fake goddamn poem.
This is the best of the first five, it's
It's really the only major problem I can see; I liked the execution, the characters were developed, there was a plot point, there was an ending that didn't rely on a shocking twist, it was all there. It's a good story. It just doesn't excite me.
I'm not super down with your bending of the "wise fool" idea to mean "good at directions but not magic and vice versa" as the idea of a wise fool is less "dumb and a bit smart" and more "so stupid that they can see the blindingly obvious" but I mean, I bent the prompt way further than you so I'm not really one to judge.
Nitpicky: "They were writing" is stronger as "They wrote" but I am being super nitpicky here as there's nothing else I can see. I'm really trying here.
My favorite part: Catchy names, solid worldbuilding, using a polemo instead of a lemon or an orange, engaging characters, dope writing. There was lots about this I liked, I can't really single one thing out.
My least favorite part: You hinted at forbidden passages and promised forbidden passages, and all you delivered was "don't go to the hidden passages." It felt like a huge deflation; there's this cool story about two witches becoming buds even though one of them's totally NotMuggleBorn, but the lost, weird passage thing was just... there. I'm not a huge fan of mystery being added for the sake of mystery, as this was a NotHarryPotter story and we could all have coped just fine with the girls writing "I will not run away from my school group" or "I will not stay out after curfew." I dunno, that bugged me a lot more than it might bug others.
|# ? Apr 14, 2014 14:36|