You'll Catch Your Death
“God, I hate being dead.”
Death rolled out of bed and glared at his calendar. Today was marked with balloon stickers and a big, red circle. It was his 40th ‘birthday’.
Thunder came from outside his doorway, tumbling up the stairs and spilling into his room as the door slammed open. “SURPRISE, DEAR! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” Fate yelled as she burst in.
His Auntie Fate was the only family Death had left. His dad had died when Death became of age, and his mother had run off with a life insurance salesman when he was very young. All he and his Auntie had left now were each other.
“Oh, do look dear, and see what Auntie has for your special day!” She pinched his zygomatics. He looked to the foot of the bed, and saw a long sheet of parchment.
“Is that what I think it is?” Death, for a moment, had forgotten his hatred of being dead and birthdays.
“Go on, look!” Her eye beamed with pride.
Death took the paper; it crinkled pleasantly between his phalanges. In beautiful calligraphy were listed ten names. “Ten? Really? Oh Auntie, you shouldn’t have!” Death thought he felt something welling up in his orbits, but it turned out to just be a worm.
“You’ve been working so hard dear, you deserve it.” She leaned down to hug him, his chest cavity against her beating heart.
Death couldn’t stop looking at the list, even after his Auntie had left. Ten whole names, all for him. He decided to start from the top.
“Get ready, Darren Blick. Happy ‘birthday’ to me.”
Nine names down, and Death was having the best birthday he could recall. Not many people enjoyed their jobs, but Death truly did. It must have been amazing, he thought, back before they divided Dying into regions, when one Death got to handle the world’s passings. Now he was lucky to get one name per week. He didn’t know how his Auntie could have saved ten names for him, but he was glad she had.
It was such a rush to take a life. Each name was different. Some of them, usually the old ones, were resigned and accepting. But the younger ones, the ones who had deemed themselves invincible, immortal, they were fun. His Auntie was truly amazing; none of his names had expected a thing.
Death got to the last name on his list.
He followed his internal compass towards the name. He found himself at a public school playground, staring at a lone brunette boy in a sandbox. Alex couldn’t have been older than five, and he was small for his age to boot. He had a red plastic shovel in his hand, and was dejectedly shifting through the impure sand.
A blonde girl came running out of the classroom door towards Alex. “James, get in here! Teacher says you’re late!”
“It’s Alex.” Alex whispered, seemingly to himself.
“Whatever Jimmy, just come inside already! You’re making me miss snack!” She turned and ran back in, blonde curls streaming behind her.
Alex kept shifting the sand. It looked to Death like he was searching for something, any reason to not have to go inside. After a moment, he sighed, brushed the sand from his small legs, and made his way inside.
The playground was alive with children, running, screaming, bumping into each other and falling down. Death, however, kept his watch on Alex. He had made his way back to the sandbox, and was sitting alone, shifting through the grains again.
The bell rang and the grounds emptied, except for Alex.
Now’s my chance, thought Death, before that little blonde comes back for him.
Then Death was beside the sandbox, and he knelt.
He turned. “I’m not supposed to talk to strangers, mister.”
“Well, if I introduced myself, then we wouldn’t be strangers anymore, would we?”
“I guess not…”
“Well then, my name is…” Death searched for a name. “Call me Morty.”
“Hi Morty. I’m Alex.”
“Hello. Now we’re not strangers.”
“That’s true. Wanna help me build a castle?” He gestured with his worn red shovel.
“OK. But after that, how about we go on an adventure?”
“To where, Morty?”
“Wherever you’d like to go.”
Alex thought for a moment. “Can we go someplace with sand?”
Death knelt over the sandbox, shaping a turret from the damp granules.
“What’s your job, Morty? Why do you wear those big shadow robes?”
“Uh, well, I… I help people take trips, Alex. Wherever they want to go. Important trips.”
“And I get to go on one, too?”
“Yes, you do. Everyone gets a turn to go on these special trips. Some people get to go when they’re very young, like you. Some people have to wait until they’re old and yucky wrinkly.”
“That’s a cool job! I wanna do that when I get big, someday.”
Death stopped cold in the middle of digging his moat.
“When you get big?”
“Yeah! I wanna do your job, or maybe also be an astronaut, or a doggy doctor!”
Death had never regretted any moment, any facet of his job. He’d loved it since the day his father had passed the scythe to him and passed on. Alex was making things difficult.
“What would you do if you had my job? Where would you take people?”
“Oh, everywhere! My mom always talked about how pretty Hawai’i was, before she left with that man who sold her a real nice vacuum. Or we could go to a mountain with snow, or maybe swimming with some dolphins!”
Alex went on about the places he had seen in magazines and on TV, all the beautiful places he’d never get to experience.
A thought came to Death. He’d never married, much to his Auntie’s chagrin. He didn’t have anyone to take his place, and he had never wanted one. But Alex’s ideas of the beautiful places that the afterlife could be wheedled their way into his birthday-softened core.
“Alex, how would you like to have my job someday?”
“Really? I can take people on the cool trips too?”
“You can, but you don’t get to go on one yourself until you get old and yucky wrinkly.”
“That’s OK! Wow!”
They finished their castle, and made their way back to Death’s home. Alex had a lot to learn, as did Death.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 02:38|
|# ? May 21, 2022 09:15|
Miho listened to her friends' account of winning the lottery.
"When Haruki and I went to claim our prize, there was a snaking line leading out of the lottery office," Aya said.
"So in the end, we only won a tiny amount," Haruki said.
"How could so many people win the lottery?" Miho said. "Was there a computer error?"
"No, we really won," Aya said. "We all bet on the winning number. It's in the news. They say it's a case of extreme good luck, and more and more people are getting it."
Miho stared at their towering cups of coffee. Aya's had so much whipped cream it seemed like an oversized ice cream cone.
"If it's a disease, do you mind infecting me?" Miho said.
"You could try kissing Aya," Haruki said with a wink.
Laughing, Miho kicked him underneath the table.
* * *
"What happened to the American?" Miho asked the cashier.
"Philip? He went back to the States," said the cashier. "I don't know the specifics, but he suddenly got a huge inheritance or something."
"Wow." She repeated the word in her head as she took her seat in their usual table. The coffee shop was small and cozy enough that she practically knew everyone who frequented it. Except for the recluse at the corner with his laptop (every cafe had one).
"You look dazed," Aya said. Haruki was out of the country. He had just quit his job, too.
"More people getting charmed. P-kun got hit. Shame, he was kinda cute." Lucky Charm was the name the press gave to the phenomenon. Nobody knew how it spread, and its very nature defied science. Yet here it was, touching both of Miho's friends while snubbing her.
"Wow. It's really spreading, huh."
"So where did Haruki go exactly?" Miho asked.
"He's in Zimbabwe," Aya said, stirring her iced latte.
"Why would he go there?"
"Charity work, he said. He's been on a road trip, visiting towns and striking oil everywhere. The catch is that Zimbabwe didn't have any oil reserves until now."
"Unbelievable. Your boyfriend is a walking pot of gold. What about you?"
Aya sighed. "I'm trading stocks. I doubled my money in three days. If this keeps up, I can quit my job, too."
Miho blinked. "I guess it isn't a job worth keeping after all. Good for you."
"Between this and getting yelled at all the time, it's a no-brainer." Aya rested her elbows on the table, smiling at Miho. "So, how are you?"
"Me?" Miho shrugged. "I'm just the same old boring me."
"Oh, come on. Have you done any vocal covers lately?"
"Not in a while. I'm not into it right now." Not with you guys being so lucky and all, Miho thought.
"Shame. I wish you'd do this song that just came out." Aya placed her phone in the middle of the table and played a video.
Miho nodded to the music, listening idly. Her coffee slush collected in a puddle at the bottom of her cup. When she got home later she couldn't remember the title or tune of the song. She didn't bother to ask.
* * *
The next week, Aya and Haruki had an arm around each other.
"We're getting married," Aya whispered.
"Figure that two's better than one when it comes to saving the world," Haruki said.
"I'm happy for you," Miho said.
"Really? You don't look so nice today," Aya said. "Are you okay?"
Miho nodded. She was just okay. Not hitting it out of the park, or striking gold, or any of those stupid expressions for being charmed.
"Miho, are you crying?"
"Huh?" Miho dabbed her face with a handkerchief. "Oh, poo poo."
"You've been off lately. Why?" Haruki said.
Miho looked down in shame. "I feel like you're just going out of your way to meet up with me. To think you could be doing all sorts of awesome things with your luck, and you're wasting time with me instead."
"This is what friends do," Aya said. She reached over to pat Miho's shoulder. "You shouldn't feel--"
Miho flinched back, her chair screeching against the floor. All heads turned at her. "Sorry," she said. "I don't feel so well today."
Any longer and she was going to explode in front of her friends. They weren't at fault. She started crying again outside.
* * *
Miho lay on her futon, staring at the blank ceiling. It needed a fresh coat of paint, but she didn't have the cash for it. Aya and Haruki were practically multi-millionaires now, but she'd rather jump off a bridge than ask for handouts. She was just a friend. What was she compared to a thousand starving children in Godforsakenland?
At work, her supervisor had quit last week. They were due a presentation on Monday. He had given her a stupid speech about following your dreams and doing what you love without regard for money. Some people.
She pulled the sheets over her head. She looked at her phone, illuminating her self-made cave that she had to turn the brightness down.
We hope you feel better, Aya texted. Can we talk tomorrow?
Miho hadn't replied yet. If she did, would they still be meeting? Or would they have given up on her already?
She got up to get a glass of water and noticed that her laptop was still open, displaying her inbox. Miho opened Aya's email about the song, listened to it, finished her water, got up to pee, muttered gently caress it, and recorded a cover. That always made her feel better.
Before she went to sleep she texted a single-word reply: Sure.
* * *
They all bowed at the same time. Aya snorted a laugh.
"Good to see you again," she said.
Miho kept her eyes down. "You too."
"You first," Miho said.
"We've put off the marriage," Haruki said.
"We didn't want to get hitched without patching things up with you first," Aya said. "We feel like we've been bragging to you, and it's the reason why you've been down. And that's terrible of us."
"I'd like to apologize too," Miho said, looking up. "I was afraid you guys were ditching me. It's happening elsewhere in my life, so I can't help but feel down about myself. Sorry."
"You owe me another apology," Aya said, her face dead serious. "You posted a cover without telling me? Me, your biggest fan?"
"That was just last night," Miho said. "What about it?"
Aya showed her the video from her phone.
Miho counted the number of digits twice. "A hundred thousand hits?"
"Comments are saying it's your best yet. And we agree," Haruki said.
"I don't believe it."
"Maybe you got--" Aya began.
"Hold that thought." Miho procured a coin. She flipped it. Heads. "All heads," she proclaimed. The next one came up tails. "Nope, sorry."
"Who cares? You're our friend, Miho. We're not leaving you just because we got super-luck or something. You understand that?"
Miho smiled. "Yeah."
When she got home, she flipped the coin a few more times. It came out heads, then tails, over and over.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 03:07|
a new study bible! fucked around with this message at 02:35 on Jul 1, 2014
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 03:17|
Into Each Life
Read it in the archive.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 00:09 on Jan 2, 2015
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 03:20|
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 02:53 on Dec 11, 2014
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 03:26|
We Are All Diseased
There are rules in funeral homes, rules of respect and civility. You are taught to embrace, to present yourself appropriately to the cognizance of others. You’re taught to speak kind but not patronize, sound sincere but not candid. Lastly, you learn how to keep your distance so you may not get any on you.
Even though I rarely went to the services, Father beat these lessons into my head. He did so with a smile. I smiled too, said my whenever necessary. Then I crossed the street and never looked back. Do it enough times and it becomes natural.
But it isn’t natural. It’s a cancer that you fool yourself into accepting.
It happened one afternoon in Autumn. I was walking home from school when I saw a deer on the side of the road.
He sat on the opposite side of the road, sprawled on his side with his legs brought together as though hogtied with rope. Even in the distance, I could see his jaw hanging wide open.
If I didn’t make eye-contact with him, I would have kept walking.
It took a moment to see that he was a buck. I had trouble because his antlers snapped. I realized from the trail leading from the road that someone dragged him over and out of the street. I did not need to see the tire tracks to know they did not stay long after.
He was in shock, I told myself. Once he snapped out of it, he’d would scramble to his feet and run away.
My hopes were dashed when I crossed the street and noticed that his legs were not bound by rope but by his entrails.
It was getting late. Father would be worried.
I brought my hands up in a defensive gesture, like it would help matters. The buck stared at me.
"He-Hey there," I said. "Don't worry, I'm not going to hurt you."
It did not occur to me that he was incapable of speaking. Perhaps it was my childish ideology skewing things but I swore he understood. The glimmer in his milk dud eyes or the notion of a nod, whatever it was, I took it at face value.
I told him, "Stay there.” The deer stared.
I took hesitant steps. My legs wobbled with each one. I reached his side and got down onto my knees. I placed my hands on his torso, trying not to touch the gaping hole around his belly. Naively I thought that I could actually help him. Slap a bandaid to keep his guts from spilling out.
There was no inhale or exhale though. At the time I found it strange but nearly shrugged it off. That’s when I noticed. He had not so much as blinked in the several moments of my being there.
I snapped out of my stupor when a passing car honked. Not at the buck. At me.
I arrived back home a few minutes later. I left my schoolbag at the door and stepped into the foyer and past the glass chandelier when I noticed Father’s office was open.
Father was with a family. Middle-aged man, younger woman. A chilling silence hung over the room as all three turned to look at me.
"You’re home late, pumpkin," Father said. He called me that. Pumpkin. He smiled at the man. "John, this is my daughter, Anna.”
The man turned to look at me, his face stained with familiar black pools. That was not unusual. He said nothing. Nothing unusual either. Both twisted the knife already embedded into my chest.
“Yeah,” I said. “I-I got caught up with something.”
“Really? Did you talk to anyone in school today?”
“No.” I was having a bad year. “It’s just…”
I looked towards the woman. She had her head on the man’s shoulder, busy staring at the floor. When I turned away, I noticed a flash of read.
I stared at my palms. They were stained a dull red.
Father must have seen something in my face because he frowned at me. “What’s wrong, Anna?”
"I'm sorry," I said.
Father laughed. "Sorry? What are you sorry for?"
I hope you die, Father.
“It’s nothing. Just… not feeling good.”
He scratched his head. “You look really pale.”
That’s because you make me sick, Dad. You infect everyone that comes in here and they pay you for the privilege. I bet you wouldn’t even blink twice at that deer. Someone should break your legs and leave you to die, maybe then you’ll learn your lesson. Jesus Christ, I wished I could operate on you in order to dissect the sickness that YOU have been nursing inside of me for fifteen loving years. For gently caress’s sake stop smiling at me. Goddamn it. If mom were still alive she would have left you.
I forced the sob back into my throat. I smiled.
“It was something I ate,” I said. “I’m going to go lay down. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
He looked at me strangely, scratching the stubble under his chin. He smiled. “Okay, honey. I’ll come check up on you later.”
I turned and didn’t look back. I washed my hands and got into bed.
I had night terrors every night for a week. Same dream, always ending at the sink, scrubbing a bar of soap so hard into my palms that only bone remained, no blood. I’d always wake, sweating, staring down at my hands.
I never told Father about any of this.
The family from before held their service on a Saturday. The whole home was packed with black suits and veils. The boy must have been my age when his friend ran into a telephone pole.
I stood in the foyer, arm slung around the railing leading upstairs. I did not know him. But I recognized his mother, the older woman from before, when she placed a hand on his chest and stared into his closed eyes.
I realized only then.
This is natural.
The deer was not an isolated incident. That very same year, a senior thought it would be a good idea to mix bourbon with sleeping pills. One kid in middle school went to the beach and swam too far out into the ocean. A girl in elementary fell ill. More than one, actually.
Darwanism, survival of the fittest, death. It’s all part of the same plague. We are all diseased. Some of us die on the operating table, others are eaten away from the inside. But we are all sick and we are all going to die. You, me, everyone we love, every religion and school of thought. We just have to fool ourselves into pretending otherwise.
I did not like it. I wished it wasn't true. But I had to swallow the pill without the luxury of water. Pull my head back, shove it in, choke on it until the bitter taste dissolved. Only then could I feel better.
So that’s what I did. It has helped, somewhat. I still have the night terrors, on cold nights when I sit in bed wondering what death must feel like.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 03:33|
The Law of Contagion
“If you keep tugging at that thing, it’s like to fall off,” called a voice from Dylan’s right. Startled, Dylan dropped the end of his rope belt he had been toying with and looked over at the street vendor. The old man sitting behind the table laughed and Dylan flushed. Thankfully nobody was paying any attention to them, the vendor’s laugh merely a small part of the cacophony of calls from the other merchants who lined the street and the hubbub of the nearby market.
“You'll need a charm if you’re going to take Belini's test!” said the old man to Dylan.
“I don’t need your cheap silver,” said Dylan, even as he took a few steps towards the old man’s table. Spread out in front of the old man was a glittering assortment of charms, jewelry and other tokens. Make-believe protections for those who had more money than sense.
The old man held a hand to his chest as though wounded. “Young sir! I promise you, you need this!” he said as he scooped up a pendant. “As long as you wear it, the laws of contagion will not apply to you! A wizard could burn your hair and you would feel no more than a touch of heat! They could destroy a scraping of your skin and no drop of blood would spill from you! What better protection when dealing with wizards?”
Dylan snorted and moved away. No more delays. He had to just suck it up and get it over with.
“Maybe a talisman of luck?” the old man shouted at Dylan’s back. “You’ll need it, he hasn't taken an apprentice in a decade!”
Dylan ignored him and rapped twice on the thick oak door in front of him, a giant stylized “B” the sole decoration. A hole opened in the door and Dylan dug into his pocket, scraping up the last few coins he had. He hesitated, then dropped them into the hole. The door creaked open and revealed an empty hallway, lined with dark stones and lit by flickering torches. Dylan took a deep breath and stepped into the dark.
Fifty paces later, Dylan entered the lower floor of a brightly lit two story room, large crystals glowing with ambient green light positioned along the walls. Across from him on the second floor was a balcony with a single empty chair, a rather simple wooden thing. The drapes behind it fluttered and Belini walked in and took a seat. Belini sighed and waved a hand lazily at Dylan. “Welcome to your test, et cetera, et cetera. Move the book from the table in front of you to the table on the other side of the room.”
Dylan was taken aback. Belini was the most powerful wizard in Magikos, and every other wizard covered themselves head to toe in fine silks and jingled and jangled whenever they took a step. Belini was wearing a simple robe, held together by a single strip of leather.
“Well, get on with it,” said Belini, raising an eyebrow at Dylan.
“Yes, sir,” said Dylan, and walked to the table in front of him. An ancient text sat on the table, along with a pair of fine scissors. He examined the cover of the book, trying to make out the title, written in what looked to be Atienian, a long dead language. The books he had spent years devouring in his small country town were sadly lacking in Atienian, and he had no time to study the language upon his arrival in Magikos just a few weeks ago. He reverently opened the cover and flipped through some pages. Drawings of various types of plants seemed to dominate the book, with scribbled notes covering the borders of each page.
Dylan jerked his hands back from the book and looked sharply up at Belini. “Is this an Alvaro’s Documentation and Study of Flora?” Belini simply regarded him, saying nothing. Dylan looked down at the book, then back up at Belini. “A first edition?” he said, in wonderment. Was that a hint of a smile on Belini's face?
Dylan stared down at the table and picked up the scissors. He knew he was supposed to cut off a piece of a page and use his skills in contagion to move the book across the room. But this was a first edition of one of the most important medical books ever written. It was priceless, both in money and in historical value. How could he even consider cutting it? Maybe the test was to see how small of a sliver he could cut and use to bind himself to the book. Would the merest shaving allow him to make the necessary connection?
He shook his head and put the scissors down. He gently lifted the book up and carried it as a mother would carry a newborn over to the other table and set it down. He looked up at Belini. “I’m sorry. I know I failed.” Dylan knew he had a long road home, begging for food on the way back to his father’s farm. How they would mock him in town, the boy that thought himself better than them who failed at his dream.
“Why didn't you cut the book?” said Belini, his voice quiet but commanding.
“I had no right to destroy even part of that book. I could not cut it,” said Dylan.
“Well, you’re right about that, it’s impossible to cut,” said Belini.
“What?” said Dylan, stupidly staring up at the balcony.
“Come now, really? I’d let a bunch of idiotic applicants cut up an Alvaro? I don’t think so,” said Belini.
“So, how…” Dylan started to ask, his voice trailing off.
Belini frowned. “These new wizards, they think contagion is the answer to everything. It’s easy, and it’s powerful, to be sure, but it’s dangerous and wizards get trapped into thinking it’s the only way to do things. What happens if someone were to give you a shaving of stone and told you it was from your rival’s castle? And then when you worked your spell on it, it turned out it was from your own? You’d blow yourself to kingdom come.”
Dylan laughed at the absurdity but Belini did not. “It’s happened, more often than you think,” said Belini. Belini stood from his chair and gazed down at Dylan.
“To how many of the other wizards have you applied for apprenticeship?” said Belini.
Dylan grimaced. “All of them.”
“And why did all twelve reject you?”
“I was not as strong in contagion as they wanted.”
“Let me guess, some stupid tug-of-war over an object, whoever ended up with it moved on?” said Belini, shaking his head.
“Something like that,” said Dylan. “I haven’t had any formal training, but I know I can be just as strong as anyone, given time.”
Belini waved away Dylan’s excuses. “Power can be taught, strength can be trained. You were the first to not try to use contagion in any way. You saw there was another answer. A little thinking outside the box, a little bit of manual labor, is quite the under-appreciated thing, yet incredibly important.”
Dylan held his breath.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 03:36|
I stood in line at the bank for five minutes. When her window was free, I stepped up, stomach in knots.
“Welcome to Bank of America, how can I help you?”
“Hi, I’d like to deposit a check.”
Our hands brushed as she gave me a pen to sign with. I noticed the small tattoo on her wrist as she scanned the check. And scanned it again.
I was enjoying watching her face, how that strand of blonde hair fell over her eyebrows and ended at the corner of her mouth, but I thought it might be rude not to say something.
“Excuse me Claire, but I think you’re over-paying me.” I giggled, tried to turn it into a cough. Was reading her name tag too much? I was already worried.
She wasn’t paying attention. Her grey eyes scanned the screen, and she said, “Look at that. I could’ve sworn I’d just deposited it. Good thing you noticed the error, our system is so weird sometimes.” She hit a key and gave me a customer-service smile.
“Well, that happens when you run a check four times,” I said, trying to sound light-hearted.
Her smile dropped. “I didn’t.” She sounded so sure. I wasn’t going to make her feel awkward just to validate my observation. I smiled, and she smiled back, polite as a locked door.
“Would you like a receipt?” she asked.
Here we go Jeff, you’ve worked too hard for this. I could almost hear Derrick in my head. “Sure, and maybe you could-” She wasn’t even looking at me.“- Actually no, thank you.”
“Have a nice day. Welcome to Bank of America, how can I help you?”
She hadn’t even waited for me to walk away. Outside, I found three fliers on my car for a Thai restaurant.
“So did you talk to her?” Derrick asked.
I didn’t look up from my coffee. “Yes.”
“You don’t even believe yourself, man,” he said.
“I deposited a check with her, alright? That counts as talking. She said things, I said things back, what do you want from me?”
“Do you know her name?”
“That doesn’t count, she wears a nametag, the mailman knows her name.”
“Did you ask for her number?”
“More coffee?” The waitress was a welcome interruption.
Derrick smiled his I-might-want-you smile. “Thank you, hun, I’ll take a warm up.”
He was disgusting sometimes. She still smiled at him and poured the coffee. She didn’t pour any for me.
“Jeff, you’ve got to stop doing this.” He had every right to say that. Derrick, of the unnecessarily tight shirt, practiced smiles, and casual macho attitude that for some reason made women drool over him like a candy apple. We met at work about a year ago. “You’ve come so far in the last six months, but you can’t stay passive. At some point, you got to –“
“Oh don’t say ‘be a man’, Derrick, you’re just being an rear end in a top hat now.”
“I’m just saying-”
“I have no desire whatsoever to hear what you’re just saying.” My anger surprised me, but if he wanted to see me assert myself, he would have to deal with it. “I don’t even really like her, alright? This was your idea, I messed it up - big effing surprise.” I threw a five down on the table. “I’m going to the gym,” I said, and headed for the door.
“More coffee?” I heard the waitress say.
“Thank you, hun, I’ll-” The door closed. It wouldn’t be long until he took her home, if he hadn’t already.
Jerk. Now I was going to think about everything I did wrong with Claire. For 11am on Saturday, the weekend I’d planned to actually ask a girl out was really going to hell.
“Hey Jeff, how goes?” Shannon asked. She’d been on the list of ‘possible girls to ask out’. I gave her my card and a “Just fine, thanks”, hit the locker room and then the weight floor. Derrick had gotten me to try lifting weights to help me with my ‘confidence problems’, and about six months in I’d actually started liking it. The bench press and squat rack were occupied, so I did some barbell rows and shoulder presses while I waited.
And waited. drat, were these guys never going to finish?
I walked up to the guy in the grey t-shirt and red shorts on the bench press. “Excuse me, do you have a lot of sets left?”
“Well I just got on, so I might be awhile,” he said.
I blinked and looked around for another guy in a grey shirt and red shorts. “So… how many sets do you normally do?”
He looked a little annoyed. “About five, why? You in a hurry?”
“No, it’s fine, I just thought I saw you do a bunch already.”
“Well, I didn’t.” He leaned back and set his hands under the bar.
Done talking to the crazy, I thought.
I finished a few other lifts and headed out. “Hey Jeff, how goes?” Shannon asked as I left.
“Haha, Shannon, you’re funny. Have a good day.”
“How goes?” she said again.
“Shannon? Not funny anymore!” I walked back from the door over to the check-in desk. She hadn’t looked up from her binder the entire time. “Are you ok?” I shook her shoulder gently.
She blinked a few times. “Jeff? Hey! This inventory’s just being a real pain, I must not’ve noticed you, how goes?”
“Please stop saying that.”
“You’ve just said it about a dozen times. Did you hit your head?”
Her smile became a frown. “No, but you just walked in, that’s how I say hi to people.”
I looked at the clock. No, I’d definitely been there for more than an hour. Back on the weight floor, a guy in a grey t-shirt and red shorts was doing bench presses.
“I’ve got to go,” I said to Shannon.
“Hey Jeff, how goes?”
I ran out the door.
“Derrick, there’s something really weird going on, call me back.”
I’d tried his cell twice, and checked my call history to make sure that it’d only been twice and not an unconscious hundred more. While I sat at a red light, I saw a car pull through the Starbucks window three times. At my door, there were five plates of cookies, all with the same note from my neighbor.
My phone rang as I reached for my keys. I fumbled with the touchscreen and still missed the call.
Derrick left a message. “Hey man, I know you’re scared, but you can totally do this. Just ask for her number the same way you ask for a receipt. Coffee after for the play-by-play? Later bro, good luck!”
The bank. Claire’d deposited the check four times. I was frantic. I didn’t even really like her, I’d just picked her as “safe” for a first try. I turned around and ran back to my car.
I stood in line at the bank for five minutes. When her window was free, I stepped up, stomach in knots.
“Welcome to Bank of America, how can I help you?”
“Hi, I’d like to deposit a check.”
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 03:38|
Words That Slither (1200 werdz)
Nabah’s family property had been passed mother to daughter six times since Rahu had swallowed the light of their eyes. Their people’s sight had been taken as blessing or curse. But they were a stubborn people; they braved the dangers of their mountain home, and grew strong. They learned to move and act with thoughtfulness, which had informed on their spirits, and made them a saintly people. But now, since the renounced Sramana, Hetal, had spread through their village, things had changed.
Nabah had been in the eastern valley when she first encountered Hetal. She was wading through waist high reeds, listening for her two hiding little trouble makers. Nabah smiled, feeling the warm sun, feeling the crisp reeds. She enjoyed the weather while she could -- long days of rain were coming. Her smile faded as she felt the first wetness of the valley’s river, a loose scale of the great snake.
“Little ones,” Nabah called from her belly, birds scattering from the reeds, “stay away from the river, it belongs to the thōṛā nāga (little snakes),” her ears pricked; crying, “I’m not angry, just come quickly.”
Little feet patted down reeds as the children ran to Nabah. But there was someone else in the valley.
“Who’s there?” No reply. The footsteps went towards the village. The chakris on Nabah’s wrist felt heavy, but so did the children clinging to her legs, she took them by the hands and led them home.
Nabah returned to find a man who insisted on his birth name, Hetal, walking through her village. There was electricity in the air following this man. Visitors were rare; their village ran no trade, and only produced enough to sustain themselves. However, Hetal did not react to their blindness with the same hesitation or superstition others did.
“I don’t like him,” Nabah told the council, “he says he wants to heal our sick, but he asks for nothing.” The circle of women spoke among themselves.
“He has been a Brahmin, a Sramana -- we walk many roads -- why should we distrust him? Why not let him do some good?” Nabah’s cousin replied, and the murmurs returned, Nabah felt the tide of favour wash to the interloper’s feet.
The following week Nabah went with Hetal, and led him to the sick, with whom he listened attentively, and spoke warmly. But so much whispering. Hetal would be in a house treating an infirm man, and Nebah, returning with water from the well, would hear murmurs from the doorway. Only ever with the men.
“Nabah,” Hetal asked one day, “you charge between houses like an ox; how do you know the way?”
“You must think me simple, Hetal. I am blind, that does not mean I can not see,” Hetal was silent, not satisfied, they stood in the rain. Nabah pulled her shawl tight, and explained, “our village sits on a mountain side, if I know what is uphill and what is downhill, then I know what is left and what is right. And a bell rings every hour from the-”
“We have our own ascetic, tucked away, counting.” A single rain drop found its way under Nabah’s shawl and ran down her back, her teeth clenched.
“She?” The word dropped from Hetal’s mouth slowly like stool from a goat.
Nabah let out a slow breath, “You’ve seen we are different, Hetal. But maybe you’ll never understand. I think you should make preparations to leave.” Hetal was quiet, rain pitter-pattered on the pair.
“Nabah, I am a healer, and when my work is done, I will leave. But it isn’t done. I look around and the sickness goes on. You live like pigs, scrambling in the mud, banging against the farmer’s fence. You would be happi--”
“Pigs that know of no other life, dream of no greener field. We may not have some freedoms, but look around; we are free from greed, from arrogance, from violence. And now we should be free of you. Leave, Hetal.”
But Hetal did not leave as Nabah had told him. His whispers became a buzz in Nabah’s ear. Under the cover of rain the men’s suspicion was beaten out like mud from a shirt. Hetal’s words and ideas spread like a disease. Vision meant being able to venture out into the world, to feed your family more food, to have all the things they’d been deprived by being isolated. Hetal began working his medicine on their eyes and slowly people journeyed out from the safety of the mountain. They saw the squalor of their village and the treasures that Hetal carried of the world beyond and left. Men tried to convince their wives, who knew they would hold lower station.
In their home, Nabah’s argued with her husband, Darshan.
“Nabah, my love, it worked! I can see -- a miracle! Hetal is healing everyone: your sister and cousins have already gone to him.” He held Nabah’s hands, but she pulled away.
“We are blind for a reason, Darshan. Do we not live piously, are we not good?”
“Yes, Nabah we are, but don’t you see? Our piety is being rewarded! This curse is being lifted.” Darshan begged.
“By a man-” Nabah said dryley.
“So what if he is a man? If it was a woman-”
“By a man, not by a god.” Nabah clarified.
“A holy man. Oh Nabah, if only you could know what its like to see. Nabah, you are so beautiful, don’t you want to see my face?”
Nabah touched her husband’s cheek, and said sweetly, “Darshan, I don’t need to see your face; I can see your soul." Darshan snorted.
“I can not stay in the mud with you forever, Nabah. I will let you have until-”
“You will let me?” Quizzed Nabah. Darshan slammed his fist against the wall.
“Yes! You have my permission to go find Hetal, or I will take our children and I will leave without you.” He stormed out.
It was a lonely walk down to the valley where Hetal was foraging. The rain had eased off, and what had been brittle reeds a week ago were now a knotted mess at her feet. She could hear Hetal by his ohm, close to the river, he sang it like scales.
“Ah Nabah, did your husband bring you to your senses? I hope it wasn’t just for him -- he is a very ugly man.” Hetal laughed. Nabah could hear him tearing up plants.
“You are no Brahmin; no Sramana; no ascetic or holy man.”
“I am a healer. I am healing.”
“It’s not your decision to make.”
“If I have water and I see a man dying of thirst, for whose permission am I supposed to wait? And if I see men blind and weaving baskets-”
“Do we treat our men as poorly as you treat your women? We did not need to be healed. Now my people will wander out into the world to find themselves greed, and every other sin that this curse saved us from. You are the sickness, Hetal.”
Nabah stared at Hetal with her dead eyes, then pushed past him and walked into the river of little snakes.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 03:45|
Cold Station (1129 words)
The Yukon sky was breathtaking. The aurora danced like grand, luminescent clouds in the clear, starry sky. Here, on the north shore of Canada, one could see so many stars it staggered the mind - between every tiny blip of light there was a softer dot waiting to be found.
Cassell slid off the corrugated roof of the generator shed and down into the path below. He and the other five men here worked perpetually to carve narrow canyons in the shoulder-high snow. Lieutenant Jones said the trenches would turn to caves by winter’s end; given the snowfall here, Cassell was inclined to believe him.
There were six men stationed here at Fox Romeo, just enough to keep the tiny base running. Their eyes watched the North Pole and the Soviets beyond it, their radar dish plying the heavens for sign of missiles and aircraft from the North. It was remote, lonely work, but every man here was proud to be serving his country - even this far north of the Circle.
The bright halogen lights surrounding the station dimmed, then flickered out. Cassell knew what that meant. His specialty on the base was maintaining and repairing the giant diesel generators that provided their power - their warmth, light, and contact with the outside world.
“Cassell, you on?” squawked his radio. He pulled the transceiver from his belt.
“Affirmative, I see it,” he answered. “On my way.”
The battery needles indicated a full charge, which meant they weren’t in the woods yet. He had just under thirty minutes before the Jones would have to make a decision to shut off the radar, leaving a hole in the USAF DEW range the width of Nebraska. Cassell got to work.
“Airman Cassell, you on?” Cassell checked his watch; Jones was a few minutes early. That was odd.
“Lieutenant,” he replied, “I’m almost there, just a few minutes.”
“Airman, this isn’t the only problem I have on my plate right now.” Jones’ voice was oddly strained. Cassell could hear someone yelling in the background. “Sergeant Haggerty appears to have cracked.”
Some men couldn’t deal with the isolation, the endless night, or any number of the other stressors up here. They snapped. A few rotations ago, one of the guys at Fox Echo had written letters to his dead wife for an entire day. On the wall. In his own feces. Haggerty had been on more than one rotation, though, and he hadn’t shown the usual signs.
With a clank and a whir, the engine’s flywheel freed. He rolled it over; once it was up to RPM he slapped the breaker from OFF to BACKUP and stepped outside the generator hut. “Lieutenant Jones, you on?” he asked.
“Boggle cup to clothe hatred,” said the Lieutenant’s voice. He must have misheard it.
“Say again, Lieutenant?” asked Cassell.
“Boggle cup to clothe hatred,” answered the Lieutenant, “sky over burning wash frame!”
Cassell cursed at the radios; the aurora would get to them from time to time. He jogged through the trenches to the command center. When he threw open the door, the panicked Lieutenant was being held against the wall by two of his fellow Airmen.
“What the hell is going on here?” asked Cassell.
“Probable hatred inside ungulate bash!” screamed Lieutenant, in a voice that said he was giving orders.
“The Lieutenant cracked the same way Haggerty did,” said Obermann. “Help us get him to the infirmary?”
Cassell opened the emergency closet and pulled out a coil of rope. “For now, just lash him to the chair.” answered Cassell. “I’m going to get Lampo. We’ll need him with two men out.”
Lampo was their medic. He was on sleep shift, where Cassell was headed before this little incident. As he ran to get Lampo, what worried Cassell was that, with both of them men above him out, he was in command now. He was a mechanic, and barely an NCO. With a shout and a shove, Lampo was out of his rack and beating feet behind Cassell back to the command shed.
The Lieutenant was sitting in a chair, untied. Obermann and Smith were sitting next to him, attempting to converse. There appeared to be some difficulty.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” said Obermann. “Smith just started with the gibberish, as well.” As if to confirm him, the Lieutenant and Smith began to spit out random words. They were quite insistent.
“People don’t just start going crazy and speaking gibberish in droves,” Cassell said.
“It’s not gibberish,” said Lampo, “it sounds like aphasia.”
“Did you hit the alert?” asked Cassell.
“No,” said Obermann, “I was waiting for rough.”
“Hat grief inside yoga,” insisted Obermann. “Great yahtzee kill wanting!” Cassell hit the ALERT RETRIEVE switch on the communications panel. In six hours, a helicopter would be here to retrieve them. Standard procedure was to initiate a pickup if two people were incapacitated; they were far past that now. Cassell just hoped he could get out of this without an aggressive debriefing by his superiors.
The high-frequency radio crackled to life. “Fox Romeo, this...India Station. We received...ode...can you confirm?”
Cassell tuned the transmitter and keyed the mic. “India station, this is Fox Romeo. Confirm code blue. Repeat: confirm code blue.” They would be sending a team regardless; the transmission was just a formality. The sensitive nature of the stations meant that no details, no matter how small, could be transmitted on a frequency where the Russians could potentially overhear.
Lampo and Cassell herded the other four men away from the sensitive controls and into the barracks to await pickup. Cassell checked the battery on his radio and turned to Lampo.
“Check in every ten minutes,” said Cassell, “I need to go clear off the approach lights.”
“Got it,” said Lampo, “happy run ire.” He looked shocked. “Joy grunting park jack!”
Cassell hadn’t stopped long enough to think about what was going on here. The realization was like jumping into a pool. He had to stop them from coming, stop whatever this was from spreading. Jones watched him as he left Lampo and ran to the command center.
The words on the control panels were random, utter gibberish. He couldn’t make it out. Trusting that no one had changed the settings, Cassell keyed the transmitter.
“Aggregate for based right first,” he said. No, those weren’t the words! Struggling to focus, he tried again. “Frequent apple yes! Under grass liked!”
It wasn’t working. He couldn’t call in a quarantine if he couldn’t speak. Cassell spun around in his chair. The Lieutenant was standing there, a pistol trained on Cassell’s heart. They locked eyes, and Cassell understood. This was the only way.
“India Station, this is Fox Romeo Recovery. Report no survivors.”
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 03:48|
The Craftsman's Rage. (1090 words, the edit is there because I am on mobile and I hit the send button too early.)
The king examined the ornate dagger held in his hands for a moment, before giving the man kneeling at his feet an approving nod. “Yes, this will more than suffice. I see your reputation as a weaponsmith is well-earned.”
“Thank you, my liege.” The smith said, internally sighing in relief. It had been a surprise when the king’s men arrived on his doorstep one morning to inform him that he had been selected to have the honor of crafting a ceremonial blade for the ruler himself.
Knowing that failing to please his king would likely leave him worse off than if he had simply refused in the first place, the smith toiled for countless nights at his forge, stopping only for an occasional meal, barely even sleeping. After two grueling weeks he put the finishing touches on the dagger, before immediately collapsing in exhaustion. The king’s men were waiting to escort him to the palace when he awoke, several days later.
“Indeed, it would even be fair to call this a true masterpiece.” The king continued, before addressing the guards on either side of the smith. “Would you gentlemen kindly restrain our guest?”
The smith was pulled to his feet, arms held behind his back. “My lord, I don’t understand.” He stuttered.“Did I displease you in some way? I swear, if you give me time, I can fix-”
“Not at all, my good man!” The king cut him off, dismissively waving a hand as he rose from his throne. “I’ve been looking for someone like you for quite a while. None of the other weaponsmiths I’ve summoned have had the same passion that you do. The dagger is unimportant. All I needed was a sign that you had the blood of a true craftsman.” The smith started to struggle as the king drew closer to him, but the guards’ grasps were too strong, even for a man as accustomed to physical labor as he.
“Be still. With your death, you shall accomplish much more than you could have ever hoped to achieve in life.” Under his breath, the king muttered an incantation in a language unfamiliar to thesmith. Before the smith could plead any more or even scream, the king thrust the dagger deep into its maker’s chest, piercing his heart.
The guards released their hold on the smith’s corpse, which fell to the floor with a heavy thud. Blood slowly pooled, staining the carpet. The king stepped back. “Though one man has died, the prosperity of our kingdom has been guaranteed.” He grandly proclaimed to the servants and guards lining the hall. The king snapped his fingers, addressing the servant closest to him. “You. Clean up this mess. Dispose of the dagger."
The servant scurried over to the body of the smith, gingerly pulling the dagger out. He stared at it for a moment, confused. The steel had turned to a pure, crimson red, even after he tried wiping the blood off.
"You, and you. Come with me. I must consult the ancient texts." The king commanded to two of his advisors, before turning around to leave. Before he could leave the throne room, however, he was stopped in his tracks by a horrific scream. The king turned to see two guardsmen fall to the ground, as others rushed towards the servant, whose features were now distorted with anger, clutching the dagger tightly.
The servant let out another scream. He struck down two more guards in as many seconds, and continued his rampage even as a third ran him through, seeming to feel no pain. The king stood frozen in place, transfixed by the sight, until his advisor roughly grabbed his shoulder, quickly leading him away from the slaughter.
It didn't take long for the guards to lose all hope. As one, they broke formation. One particularly unlucky guard fled the castle entirely, sprinting out into the night. Unfortunately for him, it was he that the servant decided to pursue. Panicked, he leaped into the river the flowed past the castle, soon disappearing under the surface. The servant followed him.
The next morning, a shepherd discovered two drowned men, washed up by the clearing where he took his sheep to graze. The armored one didn't seem to have anything interesting, but the one in humbler clothing was clutching a valuable looking dagger. Though he had to break the dead man's fingers, the shepherd soon held the blade in his hands. He stared intently at it. He could almost hear something whispering to him. A nearby sheep bleated.
"We've got trouble! It's horrible, I swear, simply horrible!"
The watchman sighed, raising an eyebrow at the winded merchant. "This is, what, the third time this month you've seen some omen that surely we'll die before the day is over? What is it now, scared of a spooky looking cloud?"
The merchant paused a second to catch his breath. "Not funny. I found whole herds of sheep, just completely wiped out. Didn't look gnawed at or nothin', so it can't just be wolves. I think we've got bandits around. Lots of 'em, and bloodthirsty, too."
The watchman frowned. "Why, though? Only thing of value here is lots of livestock and lots of crops, and I don't think bandits are too fond of either."
"I don't know, but I saw what I saw!"
Unseen by both of them, a shepherd in bloodstained clothes slowly approached the village.
The king's court was empty. Rumours of demon sightings flooded the kingdom, of whole villages being mercilessly slaughtered by monsters. There were whispers that their king had upset the gods, others claiming that it was the king's intention to kill his entire people in some unholy ritual. Despite his threats and punishments, the guards and servants of the king had started to abandon his castle. Slowly, at first, but soon in droves as more and more turned up dead.
The peasant women walked down the hall unopposed. "Stop, I say!" The king yelled, but she did not falter. "I'll give you riches beyond your wildest dreams! Power, status, anything!" She did not stop. "I had nothing but my kingdom in mind!" He ranted as she ascended the steps to the throne. "Who cares about one man, when a whole country is at stake?"
The woman tilted her head. "He does." She thrust the dagger into the king's heart, collapsing immediately afterwards. As the life faded from the king, he could see the crimson blade slowly turn back to its original color, it's purpose fulfilled.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 03:56|
Nausea - 1,024 words
Barry Willis carefully loaded the body on the stretcher. It was wheeled passed the police tape and into the back of the ambulance. Every other city block, he glanced at the body thru the rear view mirror. Traffic parted from their lights and sirens as they barreled to the hospital.
“Was it just me or was the place we picked this guy up giving off bad mojo,” asked Barry?
“That depends. Do you want me to agree with you or not,” said Alex?
“Smart-rear end. I‘m just saying, I got a feeling that we just stumbled on to something that goes way down deep. We landed in it and now we got to lie low for a while,” said Barry.
“How about you take a break once we get to the hospital,” said Alex. “Maybe get some air.”
“You’re right. Just got to take things easy. Deeps breaths,” said Barry. “Speaking of that, is he still breathing?”
“Yep. But still just shallow breaths. Not moving much,” said Alex.
The rest of the trip had the ambulance filled with an uneasy silence.
The ambulance was parked, the doors were opened, and Barry and Alex rushed the body into the Emergency Room. The doctors and nurses quickly affixed bags and tubes to the patient while they wrote on clipboards. Barry and Alex, now that their patient was transferred, walked outside to unwind before the next call came in.
“Barry, why don’t you sit down and relax. I know that that curb or the bumper isn’t the most comfortable of seats, but you have to take these breaks every now and then. You’re making me nervous just pacing back and forth,” said Alex.
“Sorry Alex, but I just get the feeling I made a mistake. Something in my head is crawling around and I’m trying to grab at it. You noticed how he had no hair on him? He didn’t have eyebrows or eyelashes. He looked like he just wasted away sitting on his couch,” said Barry.
“So a guy has alopecia. What of it,” said Alex?
“What’s alopecia? It sounds familiar,” said Barry.
“Baldness. In the case of our friend that we just brought in, it’s called alopecia universalis. It’s not very common, but it does happen,” said Alex. “Feel a little bit better?”
“Not really. It’s seems we run into rare conditions every day in this city” said Barry.
The work day continued on much like a stoplight. Stop at one place, go to another, and slow down in between places so everything is in place. With it finally being over, Barry took Alex’s advice and breathed deeply when he was home. He felt like he was in a filter, everything felt unnaturally smooth. He has afraid to eat as his stomach might throw a temper tantrum. There was something he wanted to do but knew it would make things worse. He wanted to look up alopecia. The stars grew dimmer as Barry clicked each new link the web gave to him and brought him to each disease the body could contract. When he looked outside and saw that sun was beating back the night’s darkness, he sighed and made a pot of coffee. Today was going to be a long day.
Barry and Alex were sitting outside the emergency room near their ambulance. Barry was on his third cup of coffee in the morning and still made a request that Alex do most of the driving for the day.
“Everything okay Barry? You seem out of it today,” said Alex.
“I’m not sure,” said Barry, with dark circles prominently displayed under his eyes. “I feel I know more about what makes people tick, but I’m sure that makes feel any better.”
“Sounds like a rough night. Before you go home for the night, how about we stop somewhere to get a snack,” said Alex? “Looks like you got something more to say.”
“Okay,” said Barry.
Today was much like the last one. Barry’s mood improved when he was on his feet. It took his mind off of what he found last night. His stomach was still trying to stage a revolt, but it never managed an offensive that amounted to anything more than a burp. After the shift ended, the caffeine wore off. Barry needed sleep. The headaches were a nuisance. Alex drove to nearby bar. Food was ordered and despite his stomach surrendering in exchange for some food, he only nibbled at a burger.
“Did you do take some deep breaths when you got home last night,” asked Alex?
“Yeah,” Alex said. “But my curiosity got the better of me and I looked up alopecia on the web. Then I started to click on other things. Some of them I half remember, pictures of ingrown nails, hairs, and much worse. Others, I can’t recall.”
“Now why did you do that,” asked Alex, head in hands.
“I just wanted to know. I thought that I could learn something new so if we ever encounter it, I might be able to help,” said Barry.
“You do help. You transport the patients to the hospital quickly. You don’t need to diagnose someone at a scene beyond needing oxygen if they are having trouble breathing or using a defibrillator when they flat line,” said Alex. “You weren't picked to be an ambulance driver to conduct surgery out in the field. You were picked because you are calm under pressure as well as make decisions quickly. In my personal diagnosis, I think that you are suffering from a new acquired illness.”
Barry perked up with a worried look in his eye. “What is it,” he said?
“Doubt. You are suffering for doubt, an endemic condition in human society. It is marked by feelings of hopelessness in the face of new situations, failure, and the unknown” said Alex. “The only cure for doubt is the vow to keep learning, because it’s better to know something than nothing.”
Barry sat in his seat, absorbing what his partner just said. He took a bite of his burger, his stomach finally placated with food. He took a deep breath.”That makes me feel better.”
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 03:57|
By order of the CDC, submissions are now closed!
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 04:03|
gently caress. Well, here's my submission anyways. Sorry.
Let It (My Hand, I Mean) Go (801 words)
“As what has been termed ‘Texty Thumbs’ continues to spread across America, scientist are still at a complete loss as to the cause of this phenomenon. Nevertheless, its detrimental effects are becoming more apparent; as workers, students, and all other citizens unable to let go of their cellphones continue be entirely unproductive at work and at their other endea–”
As Richard tuned out the droning radio announcer, he took another bite into the hamburger, and grimaced as the taste of charcoal filled his mouth. Burnt. Since he was too busy reflecting on how the only reason he ever visited this dump of a restaurant was because of its location, he didn’t hear the automatic doors at the entrance slide open. Well, not the entering person ran up to him.
“Hey, Richard! I didn’t expect to see you here!” Carly’s cheerful expression showed no hint of dawning recognition that Richard might not be that pleased to see her.
“I visit this place everyday.” Richard’s tone was flat, and could not be remotely termed as “friendly”. Perhaps he was being a bit rude, but Richard just did not feel up to dealing with his overly cheerful classmate.
“Well, yeah, this is the first time I’ve come to this place. My friends were always talking about how the food here was really bad, and I came here to see if they were exaggerating. But you come here a lot, right? So what would you recommend?”
Richard’s gaze moved over the menu. “Most of the items here are awful. The only ones that taste halfway decent are the burgers.”
“Cool! I’ll order the veggie burger then.” Carly bounced off to join the line while Richard silently lamented the fact that for him, there was no escape. He put down the burger and wiped his face with the napkin, suddenly very aware that his left hand was immovably clenched around his cell phone.
About five minutes later, Carly sat down across Richard, whose nose wrinkled at the smell wafting from the tray Carly held.
Oblivious to all this, Carly asked, “So did you hear about that ‘Texty thumbs’ thing going around lately? I mean, it’s pretty obvious it’s all a big hoax, but even the big networks are talking about it!”
Richard’s cell phone dug harder into his left hand as he replied, “What makes you think that it’s a hoax?”
Carly laughed. “Well, don’t you think a disease that makes people’s hands stay locked in one specific position around specific electronic devices has incredibly specific and arbitrary symptoms? I mean, you’d have to be an idiot to believe that’s real!” She paused for a bit, finally seeming to realize that her conversation partner had a rather stormy face. “What’s wrong? Did I say someth– oh, come on, Richard! You can’t possibly believe that ‘Texty Thumbs’ is something that exists.”
In response, Richard drew out his left hand and placed it on the table. Carly scoffed. “Oh, c’mon. I’m not that gullible.” She reached out and tried to pry Richard’s left hand from the death grip it had on his phone. “Geez, why are your hands so strong?”
Richard flushed. When he realized that he did so, it became quite apparent to him that he really did read too many romance novels if such a innocuous comment provoked a reaction, but that just made him more irritated. So he replied quite sharply, “Could you let go of my hand?”
Carly just rolled her eyes. “As long as you let go of your phone.”
“I can’t, okay?” Richard paused for a moment, wondering if he was really going to commit to his next couple of words and the response they were sure to cause. “Could you please go away? I have somewhere to go soon and I need to finish eating this quick.”
Carly’s mouth gaped open for a brief bit before she glared. “Wow, rude. And you would finish eating that a lot sooner if you let go of your cellphone, you know!” She grabbed Richard’s hand and twisted it around, trying once again to pry his fingers from the device. “You’re not going to die if you don’t hold your phone, you know!”
Richard winced. “Hey, that hurts! Let go!” He yanked his hand back, and Carly jerked forward, toppling her drink. The top popped off, and splashed all over his side of the table.. “Look what you did!”
She snapped, “I was going to let go, anyways!” Carly snatched her hand back – but Richard’s hand went along with it. He dragged their hands back, ignoring Carly’s protests, and looked closely at the position of their hands. They were both wrapped around the phone in what the tv networks had liked to call “the prime texting position” when they were covering the ‘outbreak’.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 04:06|
edit: poo poo, deadline got called while I was trying to format this drat thing. I fall to my knees in the blood-soaked sands of the Dome, crying out for mercy until my throat is raw. I expect none.
Frequency (811 words)
Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 23:53 on Dec 9, 2014
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 04:08|
A New Puppy
*Editing for formatting*
I often wonder if I get more out of giving my children gifts than they do. After setting up the tree and laying out the presents last Christmas Eve, I ended up laying awake in bed until sunrise because I was so excited to see the looks of their faces, all the while those two slept like logs. It's not to say they don't get excited themselves – they do – but I never got as excited when I was a kid as I do now. This was why I was bouncing in my seat as I drove to pick up my kids' first puppy.
Both of them had been dropping hints for weeks that they wanted a puppy, but each time they would try to bring it up I would shake my head and say something like “I don't think so, dogs are a lot of work.” My poker face was so good that my littlest one had seemingly given up and stopped asking entirely. They had no idea I had been responding to adoption ads the entire time.
I eventually settled on a husky that I fell in love with the moment I saw the picture in the ad. He was the cutest little thing with his over-sized paws and ears and brilliant blue eyes. The little girl with a wide smile and arm slung over the puppy's shoulder made him all the more charming. It kept imagining my little girl with her own arm around the dog, beaming.
I pulled off the exit and began following the directions the owner had given me. She lived out in the boonies. GPS didn't work that far out. I had it on just in case, but hadn't left the highway far behind before I lost signal.
I turned off of a dirt road and pulled into this woman's driveway. I wasn't sure it was her's at first, but it was the only turn off I had seen in more than a mile and when I saw the house it matched the description she gave.
The place was a lot more run down than I had expected. The yard was overgrown with crab grass and looked like it hasn't been mowed in ages. The property was strewn with garbage, including a rust-eaten van that sat wheel-less on cinder blocks. The house's linoleum siding had likely once been green, but had now faded to a dull gray.
Undeterred, I parked the car and walked up towards the house. No one had bothered clearing a path between the front door and the driveway, and I ended up stubbing my toe on a old doll someone had ripped the head off of and left to be swallowed up by the grass. “What a dump,” I muttered to myself. I continued up to the front door and knocked.
The first thing I heard were screams – a little girl's screams – followed a woman's shouts. Before I could react the door flung open.
“-I don't want to hear it, Goddammit, now get to your room,” the woman who answered the door shouted at a crying little girl inside. It was the same little girl from the photo in the ad. I cringed inwardly, because I would never use that tone with my kids. She turned her attention to me, “You here about the dog?”
“Uh, yeah...” I said.
“Please, don't sell him! There's nothing wrong with him!” the little girl cried.
“Jesus help you, if you don't get back in your room right now I will tan your hide until you won't be able to sit.” The girl opened her mouth to respond, but changed her mind and went ran off crying to her room.
“Sorry about that,” the woman said, “she has too much of her father in her.”
“Ah...but, yeah I am here about the puppy,” I said. From what little of this family I had seen was enough for me to want to get out of there as quickly as I could. I just wanted to get the puppy and get out.
“Come on, then,” she said, and lead me into the house. I hesitated for a moment and considered leaving, but I thought of the kids and the joy on their faces when they set eyes on their first puppy and decided to follow her in.
Inside was in the same state of disrepair as outside. There were holes in the walls where someone had punched through them. I noticed crucifixes hung on every wall, and on every clear surface there was a votive candle currently burning.
The woman opened up the stairs to the basement and hesitated. The stench of dog piss wafted up towards us.
“Is something the matter,” I asked when she didn't move.
She turned and fixed me with an expression that seemed a mix of fear and guilt. “Everything's fine,” she said, and made her way town the stairs.
The puppy started yelping nervously as it heard us coming in the dark. When she reached the base of the stair she flicked the lights on, and I saw the cute husky from the ad, only it was trapped in a bird cage and its fur was matted with its own poo poo and piss.
“Jesus Christ,” I said, “What did you do to him?” I didn't want to start a fight, but I couldn't contain my outburst. I expected her to round on me and shout at me like she did her daughter.
The woman turned, but instead of indignation I saw tears well up in her eyes. “I am sorry, mister, but I didn't tell you the whole truth.”
“That puppy is sick.” she said, sobbing.
“I can take it to a vet.”
“No, not for what it has. I should have told you before making you come out all this way. Lord, give me strength because I can't do it. I can't.”
What have I gotten myself in to? “What's wrong?”
“That dog, that thing, is infested with the devil itself...oh, he may look innocent, but he'll infect you with terrible thoughts,” she said, “Horrible thoughts.”
I looked at the poor, whimpering puppy and back to the addled woman. I tried to come up with a response. I wanted to tell her she needed help, but all I said was “I'll still take him.” I thought she would argue the point further, but I pulled out a fifty from my wallet and she took it reluctantly. Without another word, I took the puppy from its cage and hurried up the stairs.
As I made my way towards the exit I caught the little girl out of the corner of my eyes. I stopped and looked at her. She looked back with red rimmed eyes at me, with her beloved puppy in my arms. To this day I wish I stopped said something. Instead, I turned back to the door, made my way to the car, drove back home. After I cleaned the puppy up, I introduced him to my kids. I sat in silence as I saw the joy fill their hearts and their eyes.
Lake Jucas fucked around with this message at 04:45 on Apr 28, 2014
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 04:38|
Sorry for the lateness, I ended up throwing out and rewriting the prompt a few times. Even if I am DQ'd does this still satisfy my Toxx?
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 04:40|
Sorry for the lateness, I ended up throwing out and rewriting the prompt a few times. Even if I am DQ'd does this still satisfy my Toxx?
I was going to give you another 20 minutes, so you could have taken your time.
My mercy, like my weird robotic coiffure, is ineffable.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 04:43|
gently caress, I'm late. Posting it anyways because it's better than nothing.
Our Newest Display
Overhead, the mermaids swam through the blue, languidly following a school of small grey fish. I stared in disgust at the bony emaciated forms that passed by. “Those are seriously gross,” I whispered to my friend Melissa; she giggled in response. “Angie, Melissa,” our teacher snapped at us from a few seats over where she’d been giving a lecture. I sighed and slumped down in the red plush bench, pretending like I was paying attention. I, like every other high school-age child, was on a field trip to see the mermaids at the aquarium. The teacher had said that it was so we could see the symptoms of the disease, to know what to look for—not so we could gawp at the freaks, though that’s why everybody really went there.
Two years later, I’d begun to dream of the ocean every night, of gliding though the cool water, of grabbing at the small fish which darted around me, tearing into them in a slow floating cloud of red. A few weeks later, I’d found the first few scales on my thigh: glimmering little death sentences. Now, eight months later, I’d been caught and put in a tank to float among the other sick, like a bunch of grocery store lobsters.
I swam through the tunnel that connected the aquarium tanks to the island that was closed off in the back of the building. Here, the people who could still breathe on land lived until their gills came in. I could see three of them there this morning. The first ignored me when I called, and the second was too busy sobbing to pay attention to me. The third one though was new, a teenage girl staring up at the lights in the ceiling. She was tiny, with sunk-in dull eyes and stringy blonde hair, large patches of scales glistening on her back and legs. Someone who had been caught in the early stages, it seemed. I called to her, and after a minute, she finally turned her head in my direction.
“I’m Angie,” I said. It hurt to talk nowadays, so I kept what little conversation I made short.
“Laura,” she replied quietly.
“Any news about a cure?” I asked everyone who came in about this, but there was never any good news, any hope. For all the talk of research and cures, the only thing that’d changed in the last seven years was the increasing number of aquariums being built.
“Not that I know of. My brother, Mike, got sick with it, so the doctors examined me as well. He ran away before they could take him too.” Her eyes teared up. “I’d been hiding the scales with long sleeves and pants until then. I was so scared.”
I nodded. I’d done the same with clothes and make-up until my legs had fused down to the point where I’d been unable to walk anymore without falling. Every day I’d woken up and examined every inch of skin in the mirror, feeling as though someone was wringing my stomach out with every new change I found.
I continued to visit Laura, and as time went by, we became what could be considered friends, if you consider commiserating about turning into monsters together to be a type of friendship. Laura held out hope that one day, Mike would save her. I tried to share her enthusiasm, but I figured Mike was probably dead or in a tank somewhere. I could still breathe out of water for a short time, though it made me feel faint, so I spent what time I could with her on the sand. I was trying as hard as I could to try to stay human, but at times, all I could focus on was the water and my next meal.
We were woken up one night by running and muffled voices outside. The door outside the island opened and a small group of people came in. They shone flashlights around whispering to each other as we all peered over at them anxiously. Laura perked up when she saw them.
“Mike?” she called quietly. A man in a wool hat came closer. “Oh, Darryl, hey,” she said, smiling. She turned to me and said, “He’s one of my brother’s friends.”
“Laura?” Darryl said. “poo poo, I didn’t expect to find you here.”
“Have you seen Mike recently?” Laura asked. Her webbed hands trembled slightly.
“No, I haven’t. I’m with one of the underground groups. We’ve been rescuing people who aren’t too far gone and trying to keep them alive until there’s a breakthrough. There’s no reason to keep you guys in a zoo; we’ve got some scientists who can look after you while they study this.”
“I can still walk—my legs are only fused at the top,” Laura said cheerfully. She glanced at me. “What about her?”
Darryl shook his head. “Too hard to carry, plus she’d probably die before we can get her in water again. You should be ok though.”
Laura shot a desperate look at me. I wanted to cry and scream for them to take me along, but I knew it was hopeless. Instead, I simply just said “Go.” She put her arm around Darryl’s shoulder and in a few minutes, they were gone.
I returned to the glass and thought only of fish, watching the high school kids snicker at us as they sat and enjoyed their safe, dry lives. All I could do was watch my body continue to shrink, to find myself forgetting details from my previous life. Who was it that I’d sat with at the aquarium that time? They were a complete blank to me.
One day, they hung up a bright red banner nearby. It was hard to read through the glass, but I managed to make out that it was for a new exhibit.
“Mermaid bodies on display…” I trailed off as I noticed the picture beneath it. It was of the head and shoulders of a mermaid girl with stringy blonde hair, the eyes closed and peaceful. Her face was mostly scaly now, but a patch of skin still curved around her left eye like a crescent moon.
I swam off, feeling like someone had driven a hook through my insides. Oh, to be a Siren at this moment. We were forgetting what it was like to be human, but it was clear that humanity had forgotten who we were long ago.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 04:50|
It's late and it's not very good. Sorry about that.
When you think about it, dolphins are the most spiritual animals
Larry Meyers should've worn a condom. The morning after his bathroom encounter with a trustfund crustpunk, his regrets made themselves known through an itch in his balls that had developed to a full-on rash by lunchtime. It was purple and green, with psychedelic swirls in it. Larry, being a diligent and serious accountant, knew that these things would go away if you ignored them hard enough.
Returning from lunch (a hummus and cheese sandwich and a soy vegan latte) he bought a crystal to put on his desk, to catch good vibes. By the time he returned to the office, his beard and hair had each grown nine inches, and he tried to engage the secretary in conversation about how they should totally go to Burning Man together. All the while, his hair writhed and twitched with a manic energy of its own, growing and growing until it graced the floor and swelled around the man's feet.
This did not unduly trouble him until the beard started to grow backwards, through his skin and down his throat. Little hairs twisting inwards on themselves, them driving down through the soft mess of muscle and trachea. His last strangled word was “bummer”. His nearby coworkers noted that it was indeed a bummer, but it was ok because he was going to go live in harmony with the dolphin spirits. Greg Hoskins from HR went to hit the panic button – because it might summon Pan and he might get a totally sweet wooden flute out of it - but gave up because it was all the way over there, man.
The hair, oh, the hair. A forest of it, every inch unwashed, flowing from the heads of Wigg, Hong and Associates like a totally trippy waterfall. Some of them tried to tie ribbons in it, which was like holding a drum circle in the middle of a busy interstate. It burst through the windows of the third floor, ran down the walls and tried to hug pedestrians, who stood awestruck and more than a little confused. They were caught in the hairy embrace, then came to simultaneous revelations that they were very spiritual but not like, religious, you know? Their own hair grew, adding to the ur-dread that now consumed the building and totally stuck it to the man.
It burst through their skin, through their eyes, out of their cocks and tits: years of hair in seconds. Each one died with a kumbaya on their lips, desperately jonesing for weed, consumed with the thought of how this would make a trippy album cover. Within three days, Boston was nothing less than the world's largest hairball. It spread from there: body to body, mind to mind. A nation of 300 million making tie-dye t-shirts and wearing gnarly headbands. Then, like a flash, their essence was sucked from them, through their hair like a million tiny straws into the mouth of a hungry god, a god borne from pure good vibes. Within a week, the continental United States was a wasteland from which only the sounds of the Grateful Dead could be heard. Grateful indeed: though their bodies are gone, they swim with dolphins.
The Dread-Locks come for us next. This is not a disease to be fought with medicine, nor quarantines. We have clippers, razors and spray bottles. We have boom-boxes filled with mixed tapes: punk, metal, Streisand – anything to ruin the vibes, to thaw the chill, to derail the train of cosmic love barreling down. With shaven heads and rage in our hearts, we hold our scissors high and scream:
“GET A HAIRCUT, HIPPIE!”
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 14:38|
Sitting Here v. Djinn Brawl
JUST BECAUSE I'M A WRITER DOESN'T MEAN I HAVE TO ALWAYS WRITE WORDS YOU GODDAMNED ONTOLOGICAL FASCISTS
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 20:30|
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 20:41|
What the..? How old are you? Somehow I wasn't expecting that to be what the Blood Queen of Thunderdome looks like. Hey, that gives me an idea.
UNOFFICIAL FILLER PROMPT
Write a story inspired by the phrase Blood Queen of Thunderdome. Preferably before watching Sitting Here's brawl entry so you can laugh at how wrong you are.
100 words. No signups. Submissions last until the next prompt is up.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 21:12|
Who knew the Blood Queen was such a comedic genius?
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 21:46|
Sitting Here is a true ukulele playing patriot. God bless America.
UNOFFICIAL FILLER PROMPT
PUNY MAN CRY BEFORE BLOOD QUEEN. HAMMER CRUSH PUNY MAN LIKE BUG. PEOPLE CHEER.
ME LIVE FOR PAIN AND FOR MEAT AND FOR BLOOD HAMMER. HAMMER CRUSH GOOD. ME LOVE HAMMER.
ME FEAST ON PUNY MAN. PUNY MAN WHIMPER LIKE SCARED CUB. ME LAUGH. TEETH DRIP OF NECTAR FROM PUNY THROAT.
THUNDERDOME WHERE BLOOD QUEEN BE. ME CRUSH WEAK. THUNDERDOME GIVE MEAT. ME NOTHING WITHOUT THUNDERDOME.
THUNDER FROM SKY UP ABOVE. PUNY MAN NOT SATISFY. MORE BLOOD. ME GIVE.
ME RAISE HAMMER. PEOPLE SCREAM FOR PAIN AND FOR BLOOD QUEEN.
ME SMILE. THIS THUNDERDOME. BLOOD QUEEN CHOSEN ONE.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 22:29|
A whimpering mass mewling for clemency shivers around me. My rivals have not to do but suck their thumbs and cry for their mothers. One troubled tyke stands to challenge me. I raise my feather-stuffed cudgel high and let out a fearsome shriek—he too shall know my wrath. He soils himself in fear. With one bash of my pillow I send him stumbling. He falls into a pitiful crawl and pleads for mercy. I give him none. My enemies weep plaintively. Their tears will salt my post-nap milk and graham crackers, for I am the Blood Queen of the Thunderdome.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 22:54|
"You can't submit this, Sally."
"But mom, it really happened."
"Sally, you shouldn't write about something just because it happened."
"But it's interesting! I really saw David attack our classmates with his peen. He was scary!"
"It's in bad taste! Please rewrite it. I won't let you submit something awful to class."
Sally's face darkened. "Yes, mom."
In the end, she turned in a proper, decent story about their vacation to the Grand Canyon. Her first story turned up elsewhere, in the sinister canals of the Internet. To Sally, it was the beginning of her long ascension to the Thunderdome.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 23:16|
I will crit whoever chooses one of my favourite lines of fiction. Either one, both, or I guess none. But you'd be missing out on a great line. (The best line)
I'll just be over here waiting for that crit Jeza
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 23:50|
A request for the arena:
A few stories have been posted within quote tags lately. That can complicate the archiving process, so kindly don't do it unless you have a good reason, and note that an introduction to your story is never a good reason no matter how much we all enjoy it when sebmojo yells at you.
|# ? Apr 28, 2014 23:58|
It is distracting as a reader, as well. My eyes just want to gloss over stories in quotes.
|# ? Apr 29, 2014 00:06|
Results of the 90th Thunderdome!
Well kids, this week was certainly on prompt: not only were your stories sickening, they made at least two of the judges literally ill. Seriously, I may or may not be running a fever right now. But no one cares about that, so here are your results!
Inventor of the Cure, and Winner of this round: theblunderbuss!
You wrote an interesting contagion that was on-prompt and told a compelling story. You also managed to get this song stuck in my head, so I thought I'd return the favor.
Lab Assistants to the Noble Doctor and Honorable Mentions:
Erogenous Beef - You almost won, but the contagion was a little too real. I really liked this one, though.
Kaishai - An interesting contagion with an ending that didn't quite live up to its auspicious beginnings.
Djeser - Sweet and a little predictable, but well done and enjoyable.
God Over Djinn - Hip and interesting, but you put in a little too much Bad Science to pass the crabrock mandate successfully.
The Vile Plague Rats and Dishonorable Mentions:
Griff Lee - Misuse of language, tinges of racism, and no ending? Sign me the gently caress up!
leekster - THOSE drat DIRTY KIDS ARE LIKE A DISEASE!
RunningIntoWalls - Not really a contagion and extremely rough. Also, question marks go inside the dialogue.
Paladinus - You managed to put one judge to sleep, delaying this judgement by several hours. Way to go!
And the Ultimate Disease Vector, and Loser: Narahari
You ruined not just a fruit, but our faith in humanity.
Congratulations to and/or shame on all of the entrants! I now pass this wretched torch on to theblunderbuss, and leave you to go reconsider my life choices.
curlingiron fucked around with this message at 06:10 on Apr 29, 2014
|# ? Apr 29, 2014 06:08|
I'm sick today so here is what you bunch of diseased jerks deserve:
|# ? Apr 29, 2014 06:16|
initial comments. will do full crits on everybody so don't bother asking for me to clarify, as i will in the full crit
Overall point for everybody:
If you say something happens AS something else happens, stop to think if they're actually happening at the same time. Too many people think that "As" is just a fancy way of making sentences.
"As the lights turned on, they screamed." NO.
"After the lights turned on, they screamed." Ok.
"As I fell, I worshiped Satan." YES
name / rating / Contagion Group / comments
Narahari 1 lose None boring details. Trash. possible loser
Pinball 3 Magical / Real Life missing parts. doesn't make me hate myself. seeds of something interesting. middle pile.
Cache Cab 3 Real Life interesting premise, wordy thesaurus poo poo, wolf rape. wtf. middle pile.
Griff Lee 2 dm NOS boring details. purple. pointless. possible dm
Huntersoninski 4 Magical cute concept, some sloppy writing, boring blocking, middle lags, ending so what? middle/high?
Drunk Nerds 3 Manufactured passive first scene, boring character, dubious science, melodramatic, idiotic plan. low pile
Chairchucker 3 None contageon? resolution? it's pretty much all conflict. chairchucker pile
Some Guy TT 2 dm Real Life and that person was… HER AUNT! DUN DUN DUN! Stupid story. Weird gimmick. Did not enjoy.
thebluderbuss 3 Magical did not understand on first reading. Some sort of audio transmitted disease. Explained transmission.
Erogenous Beef 4 Real Life good story, but boring contagion. A little predictable.
The News at 5 4 Magical interesting premise, but then gets too afterschool specialy. Two people talking is boring. Resolved too neatly.
Entenzahn 3 NOS not enough idea to hinge whole story on. Back and forth got boring. Still, didn't want to kill myself.
Djeser 4 Magical / None interesting premise not explored too deeply. Sappy melodramatic ending.
God Over Djinn 3 Manufactured Too explainy. Futurama fanfic? "neural antitoxin" for shame. Flagrant flouting of all rules. OK Premise, but feels crammed in disjointed
Teddybear 2 Manufactured We got Ping again! Beginner style, lots of grammar weirdness. Talking head syndrome. No real resolution. Didn't answer why do we care. No real characters.
Palidinus 1 ? ? Could not finish. So boring.
Bushido Brown 3 Magical? silly premise. Could have explored belonging/not infected/not a little better. Interrogation went on too long.
docbeard 4 Magical premise could have been used to greater effect. Random divorce subplot? Obvious ending. Still, not bad for a "people sitting around talking" flavor of the week
Thalamas 4 hm Magical interesting story, lots of good imagry and world building. First half of story is good. Island part sucks. Ending comes too fast and doesn't have enough weight. Probably word limit issues.
leekster 1 dm None the tale of the Very Important Mail. ESL? So many typos and errors. Also, checkov's letter. Wtf is that thing?
Starter Wiggin None weird premise, doesn't work for me. Predicatble feel-goodery (aka boring). No real meat. Too safe. No real contagion, just death doing his normal job.
Scheider Heim 3 Magical I feel like you let your idea down. Catching luck could have been done better. The relationship stuff was tired and boring. Ending is weird. Was hoping you'd taked the Taoist approach but just kinda whimpered all the way through.
WeLandedOnTheMoon! 3 Magical Not really sure what was up with the wound. Took too long to get started. Dunno, just didn't work for me.
Kaishai 4 Magical Liked the setup, but the ending didn't do it for me. Was a little confused on her motivations.
Tyrannosaurus 3 Real Life could have used more boobs. Too short to do anything meaninful. Didn't feel like your characters were much of people, just props.
Phobia 2 Real Life don't get your weird story. It's about death? That's not a contagion? I feel like I missed something here that would make this story be not-stupid, but can't find what it is.
Walamor 3 None Decent story, but not about a contagion at all, other than you called magic the contagion. Is it actually contagious? Story works equally well without anything contagious at all, which is why this isn't rated higher.
Kalyco 3 None Some sort of repeat thing going on. Doesn't actually seem to be contagious? Story is a bit boring at parts.
Hocus Pocus 3 Real Life ending ruins this story. If you have to point out to the reader WHAT the contagion is in explict terms, you failed. Could have been good.
Gau 3 NOS They caught autocorrect disease? No real sense of character or urgency here. Just cookie-cutter "we've failed!" story
dmboogie 3 Magical Bloodlust Don't really get what the craftsman did. Was he magic? Also making everybody go crazy and stabby just to get back at the dude who stabbed him seems like a really roundabout way. Passive story after the king stabs him, he's just waiting around to die. Why didn't the first stabbey guy go after the king, if that was the intention of the blade?
crabrock fucked around with this message at 06:24 on Apr 29, 2014
|# ? Apr 29, 2014 06:19|
Returning Produce 1163 words
UGH dude. UGH. You may think "haha, i bet he's saying 'UGH' because he's grossed out by my story." NO. I'm not. I'm saying "UGH" because your story is a pile of useless details and purple prose masquerading as a story.
You tell it past perfect, which is weird. There's no reason for it, you could/should have just stuck with past tense.
You tell it in a really colloquial/lazy style. It's just your main character (i feel like it's just mostly you) prattling on a bunch of stupid nonsense. I don't care about most of the details in your story, nor about anything. It's just a smug idiot who goes around thinking things while his stomach hurts. he is in no way redeemable, and he does nothing interesting except poop. what was the point of this story? what were you trying to say? anything? it reads like a stupid story a 12 year old would tell at a campfire. "Hur, and then the old guy like, totally spilled some on his beard! HA HA HA! And then the guy was like *fart*!"
NOTHING WAS CONTAGIOUS IN THIS STORY.
I try to usually not to be so loving negative about stories, but this one just made me angry while reading it. you should have sat on this for a few days and edited it HEAVILY. like, ugh. UGH.
this is low pile. possible loser. you better hope somebody fucks up bad.
I honestly have no idea where this story came from. It's not the sort of thing I've ever written before. shut up. don't prime me for your story, let it stand on its own.
You went with the contagion being a story, although I feel this violates the "something that isn't normally contagious" part of the prompt. Stories are definitely spread throughout the population, and scientists use epidemic modeling to track the spread of stories and memes.
The weird thing about your piece is that these kids would have heard the story all in one go, and thus the parents would have too. So everybody knows the entire short story in italics from the get go, but it's only given to us in pieces. this creates a weird disconnect between what I know and what they know.
You don't do a good enough job of parents hearing this violent story and then being parents: telling the kids to stop it right now and never speak of it again. You go as far to show that they are concerned with it, but parents in real life are crazy and bossy and overprotective. Then, when the men start wearing horns and poo poo and everything's going to hell, you just kinda of ignore what people are thinking. what do their neighbors that haven't heard the story think? what about internet rumors? the news coverage? you've set your story in a realistic world, but the story doesn't feel realistic at all.
Your story doesn't have any characters! It has people doing things, but we don't know about any of them, really. Why is this old lady telling this story? does she know what it'll do? where did she learn it? instead of just telling me about what EVERYBODY was doing, you should have created a few characters--a family-- and told the story from their point of view. For something weird and crazy like this, you have to bring us inside the head of the person doing it so that even if we disagree, we believe THEM for doing what they did.
Style-wise your writing is not bad. Overwriting is your biggest problem. You describe a few too many details and use a few too many weird wordings that make your sentences a little awkward. This is your first TD though, and we'll beat that out of you.
This is middle pile.
I am in, and submitting:
So here's the thing. I don't know wtf you're trying to do, but this is actually sort of entertaining. It's actually better than the first two, in different ways. Your writing is loving weird, and you rely too much on gimmicks. If you'd just settle down and write a normal story, I may actually enjoy it.
I don't really know what else to say about this piece, because it's a bit hard to crit. Is it a joke? Do you really write this stuff and think it's good? What is wrong with your brain? Oh well, at least it wasn't about farting and fruit.
Maybe one of the other judges will have more to offer in way of feedback?
this is low pile, but has potential if you drop the wolf sex
My first Thunderdome submission! I am trying to take my prose more seriously and am eager to forge some skills in the fiery smelt that is T-T-T-Thunderdome.
I know seb has hit for these points, but i'll reiterate some:
POV: read up on this. Usually you have one character that you tell a story through. What they feel, we see. What they think, we hear. What they do, we witness. We don't get to know what other people think, but we can see their actions because your POV character can see their actions. When your character leaves a room, we have no idea what the other characters are doing. We don't know anything for sure about their mental state or what they're thinking other than what we infer from how they're behaving. Thus, if somebody besides the POV character is panicking, you don't say you see them panic, you say "Thomas watched them claw at their throats and search frantically for an exit."
Characterization: Give your characters personality. You literally did the least you could do and just called them "a white guy" and "a black guy." if they're gonna be part of your story, then give them motivation and personality. Why did black guy work as an officer? was it to feed his family? Does he maybe take out a photo of his family and stare at it longingly while Thomas roots around in the room? Oh look, suddenly we feel bad when he dies. What about white officer? Maybe he reduces everything to a football reference, talks about how great highschool was, and towel whips black officer because he's a "nerd." Then we're glad when he dies. Who is Thomas and why is he here? Maybe he's bounty hunter after two men who have gone missing, and THE CORPORATION wants them found. He finds them at the same time the alarms go off, alerting the CORPORATION to a containment breach, and now he's succeeded but lost, and we feel bad for him. or whatever. ANYTHING. i just pulled that poo poo out of my rear end and improved your story by a billion.
Authority: Write like you mean it. Don't say some dust "must have" been in the air. It's your loving story. The room is so loving thick with dust it's hard to see more than a few feet! instead of he "must have" been immunized, instead tell me about the 500 shots he got while he was busy not paying attention to their effects because he was trying to get the hot nurse's number. You are loving god when you write, and you control the universe. If you don't know why something is happening in your story, then you're a lovely god. You should know more about the world you're creating than you even bother writing down. These people don't just live within the confines of the thousand words in your story, but lay down at night and sleep. They go out to eat and clip their toenails. Or they are insomniac and troubled, steal food from hotel breakfast setups, and wear their nails down from running barefoot over concrete. No "oh, and I guess he slept at some point, and was kinda hungry, and his toenails were kinda long." Own that poo poo.
crabrock fucked around with this message at 19:23 on Apr 30, 2014
|# ? Apr 29, 2014 06:21|
Weasels, pudding, 99 words.
|# ? Apr 29, 2014 12:07|
THUNDERDOME XCI: OUR FINEST HOUR
what the gently caress I was expecting a dishonourable mention at best what is wrong with you people
To celebrate this lofty apex I may never again attain, I want stories about a last hurrah. Going out with a bang, the joyous culmination of your life's work, or just that one great moment where everything finally comes together before a slow, inevitable slide into mediocrity and obscurity. The victory may be epic or personal or pyrrhic or whatever, but things will never again be as good as this, and you know it.
Because I am of a generous disposition and am in some weird non-US time zone I am going to give you slightly more time than usual. I trust this means that entries will be that little bit worse.
Sign-up deadline: 09:00 BST, Saturday 3rd or whenever I actually wake up, whichever is later (I sleep like poo poo; rely on those extra hours at your own risk)
Submission deadline: 09:00 BST, Monday 5th or same
Word count: 1,000 words
Starter Wiggin (Flash rule: Flower arranging, frottage.)
docbeard (Flash rule: A character in your story is non-organic.)
PootieTang (Flash rules: Your protagonist must survive their great moment but wish they hadn't; in addition, they must be holding something and not let go of it at any point during the story.)
V For Vegas
The News at 5
Some Guy TT
Thalamas (Flash rule: Your story is about two friends. One is male, one is female, and there is zero romantic interest between them.)
Sir Azrael (Flash rule: Politics, minor or inconsequential.)
lambeth (Flash rule: A quest for a divine rear end features in your story.)
Meeple (Flash rule: The end of your story must take place chronologically before its start.)
Anathema Device (Flash rule: Write, in the noir style, a story involving one or more penguins.)
theblunderbuss fucked around with this message at 09:16 on May 3, 2014
|# ? Apr 29, 2014 12:08|
|# ? Apr 29, 2014 12:14|
Aw man, just as I got used to mentally adjusting to all those American time zones... in
|# ? Apr 29, 2014 12:33|
|# ? Apr 29, 2014 12:39|
|# ? May 21, 2022 09:15|
Weasels Love Pudding (109 werdz)
A fresh pudding steamed the window, where on the other side, in the autumn rain, two weasels pressed their noses to the glass.
“Brother, I’m cooold.” Nipper, the younger, whined.
Oscar rolled his eyes. A bend in the guttering was pouring a steady stream of rainwater onto his head. He had the restraint of a monk.
“Dammit, we’ll get mold!” Oscar heard a muffled voice say from inside.
A man walked into the kitchen.
“Quick! Hide!” Oscar and Nipper scarpered off the ledge of the windowsill. They heard the window open and the unknowing saboteur walk away.
They slipped in under the cracked window and circled the pudding.
|# ? Apr 29, 2014 12:56|