Thunderdome LXXV: He's Not Quite Dead
I'm in. First submission, I yield myself to the arena. LETS DO IT.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 01:25|
|# ? Oct 4, 2022 19:39|
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 01:26|
THAT'S RIGHT MOTHERFUCKERS! CHRISTMAS CRITS ARE HERE!!! kill me
The Battle of Cathexis & Jean
This is a pretty weak opening paragraph. Doesn't really grab my attention. Even by the third paragraph, nothing really happens to grab my attention. In fact, I got nearly through your story before I got to the interesting part. You don't have this luxury drat you.
I'm not sure I like this story that much. Don't get me wrong, you made what is basically an all dialogue story work -- I just don't jive too much with it. The writing itself is solid so I don't really have much to critique.
The Year Hapful Turned Utah Blue
At first glance, your opening paragraph is an eyebrow raiser cause it doesn't make much sense. The second and third sentence obviously. I spent far to much time rereading those sentences and I'm just going to give up and blame it on lovely writing. This is the summary of your story: I know person, she got into a staring contest, won, and then became president of the united states. Does that sound stupid to anyone else but me?
Will the Time Worm be Unbroken
Good opening, I love how you describe Beard-man. On a whole, the story is great, the plot is well done with the time worm time loop that happening; my only wibble is the part when Kyle eats the worm, your writing loses clarity. Maybe it's because a ton of poo poo happens at once and poo poo's moving a million miles per hour, who knows! I just had to reread it to make sure I didn't miss anything. Strong work.
Strong opening. "Hooked" me right in. I absolutely loved what you did with your story too. If a week were to have multiple winners, yours would be right up there. Definately at the top of my list for this week's entries.
Goddamn you. I was riding the high from reading Kaishai's story and you give me a weak expositiony opening. And it's so boring, I struggled to get through this. Lucky for you boredom was the worst of your transgressions. Nothing jumped out at me as "wtf, idiot" so I guess you did an okay job. If you wanted to put someone to sleep. zing.
God Over Djinn
For a Young Supervisor
The only thing that saved your piece from being a snoozefest was the way you manipulated time in your story. I'm a huge fan of stories that are told backward. The plot was good, the way you wrote it was too try and the ending was weak. Good try though.
I'm not a fan at all of this story, and I'll tell you why (obviously, because I'm doing a critique on this); it feels like an excuse to write out a long fight scene. It's hardly a tall tale. All the characters are simply too human, and the only thing of note is that the main character is a murderer and no one cares.
V for Vegas
Wait, this was an actual submission? Holy poo poo Vegas. Your entry made me laugh out loud in a few places. It was genuinely funny. But next time, write a story drat you.
The opening did a great job of hooking me in. Of course I want to hear about the time you met yourself you crazy person! Then you build up the story with ridiculousness until the duo has the ultimate battle and the future him sacrifices himself to save the world. What I like about this one far more than the other stories that involves fighting, is that this one’s plot is so much more prominent and better.
No Longer Flaky
Johnny B- Dealer Extraordinaire
Another “I’m gonna cover up the lack of plot with lots of fighting and action, woooo” You’re not Micheal Bay, and this ain’t a movie. Also, you don’t need to do the all caps thingy. We know the guy is screaming by context and by the fact that you tagged it as such.
My Excuse For Not Writing A Story This Week
Great job. Your title was a great opener and I was immediately hooked into reading. I don’t really have too much to say about this. The tone you set was great, my cup of tea. You started out tame and went into crazy at a nice pace and I chuckled often. Near the top of the pile that week. Strong work.
Submitted But Not Published… Big Ben
*slow clap* You’ve come a long way Big-T. A great premise, an awesome curse and wrapped it up nicely. This was in the running for HM, but you edged out by other stories that had more of an emotional impact and used the loving around with time rule. I think in future TDs, you should try your hand on more tall tale-like stories or fairy tales, you might have a knack for them. Keep writing, I liked what I read.
The Legend of Earl Hammerton
You killed it this week. You made Earl seem every bit as much the legend, flawless and efficient, the kind of man people would make a legend about. My favorite part was how you conveyed how strong of a typer Earl was that smashed the lower floors to pieces with the power of his fingers. I laughed, I coughed (I was getting over being sick when I first read this) and I shared it with my wife. Great job, you deserved the win.
oof. I forgot this was a stream of consciousness piece. I don’t know what to tell ya other than “Yay? You did it?” It’s lost on me, and I don’t know how I would critique this. Sorry buddy!
I’m not gonna lie to you. This was a rough read. The rhythm of your words are all sorts of hosed up, you’re struggling with grammar in some places too. Having actual dialogue would have probably helped. It’s a hot mess. Perhaps drop it in the Fiction thread and have someone do a line by line for you.
Partial transcription of Stone Tablet
Haha, gently caress you. You’ll get a crit when you decide to show up again, record fucker.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 02:12|
With 48 motherfucking entrants.
gently caress you guys, gently caress you all
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 09:08|
I got loving pressganged into this, but I'm the big bad scarred-up seaman on this crew and I'mma crack some heads.
From this point onwards, for every ten stories entered, the word count gets 250 words lower. There's stories posted already, which are exempt. From this point onwards:
Stories 1-10: 1250 words
Stories 1-20: 1000 words
Stories 21-30: 750 words
Stories 31-40: 500 words
Stories 41+: 250 words
Repeat, this is not retroactive: it does NOT include stories posted already for this week.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 09:14|
Hahaha, drat. There goes my entire story, then. Time to go at it with a butcher's knife.
What are we at, right now? How many submitted?
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 09:37|
Magical Heroine Miyuki
Miyuki was painting her nails in her office when the ninja crashed through the window. She hurled her chair backwards; the ninja’s razor-sharp sword bisected the pot of nail polish a moment later, leaving a contrail of crimson. Miyuki grabbed the upturned chair and hurled it. The ninja dodged, but she saw an opening.
There was a knock at her door.
“Yes?” called Miyuki, vaulting over her desk and slamming the side of her foot into the ninja’s side.
The door opened and she gasped. It was Jun! What a terrible time for him to visit!
“Hello Miyuki-san, I was wondering--” Jun said as she ducked under the ninja’s lightning-fast hammer strike. Jun’s face fell. “I am so sorry; you are busy.”
“No, Jun, wait—“ her words were cut off as the ninja dropped his ninja-to and grabbed her neck. The click of the closing door was muffled by the pounding of blood in her ears. With a choked squeal she flicked the ninja’s sword up into the air with her toe, grabbed it out of the air then decapitated him. A gushing fountain of deep red blood spattered the quarterly reports for the Hokuriku region and her shoulders slumped.
“That’s terrible luck!” said her best friend, eyes wide. “Did you get the reports in on time?”
Miyuki’s jaw dropped. “Fuyu! Who cares about the reports?! That was my one chance with Jun and now he will never go out with me!”
They were hunched over the bomb Miyuki had recently discovered in the janitor’s closet. The blinking LED showed five minutes to go. “It’s just,” said Miyuki, despairingly, “I’m always in the middle of something when he comes to talk to me but then I go to talk to him and I get all tongue-tied.” She cut one of the wires with her nail scissors.
Fuyu patted her shoulder. “Be brave. Pretend that you’re, I don’t know, a hero from one of those cartoons you like. Then you could talk to him, maybe?” Miyuki cut another wire; the bomb started beeping and the timer flicked down to ten seconds remaining.
Just then the door to the closet opened. Jun stood there, mouth agape. “Huh? M-Miyuki-san?”
Fuyu gasped, then pushed Miyuki out of the closet onto Jun. “ Run!”
Miyuki grabbed Jun’s hand and they sprinted down the corridor with Fuyu close behind. As they grabbed the fire hose from out of the reel a fireball lifted them up and hurled them out the window. They landed with a crash against the side of the building, Miyuki clutching the hose, and Jun, with equal fervour.
There was an awkward silence as they bumped gently against the glass. Fuyu, swinging below them, poked Miyuki’s foot.
Miyuki set her jaw. Fuyu was right. It was now, or never. “Jun, w-would you go out with me on Saturday night?”
Jun blushed, then nodded, as flaming wreckage spiralled down to the Tokyo streets far below.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 09:38|
Hahaha, drat. There goes my entire story, then. Time to go at it with a butcher's knife.
Zero. There have been zero stories posted since Muffin posted that flash rule. There are zero stories that count towards that flash rule.
Oh wait, now there's been one.
Oh wait, that's a brawl entry. Still zero.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 09:41|
Hahaha, drat. There goes my entire story, then. Time to go at it with a butcher's knife.
You know what, I'm getting grumpier as time goes by so you get a nice big flash rule, for not being able to read.
FLASH RULE (ONLY APPLICABLE TO LEPER COLON V)
A key plot of your story involves germs/bacteria/viruses not being able to die.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 09:44|
Zero, Ah ah ah. What zings do you know zat zere are zero of?
Zero. There have been zero stories posted since Muffin posted that flash rule. There are zero stories that count towards that flash rule.
Entries past ze flash rule! Zero, ah ah ah!
Leper's Reading Comprehension Zkore! Zero, ah ah ah!
Fucks given by ze Muffin! Zero, ah ah ah!
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 09:45|
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 09:51|
Also for christ's sake people search 'The Edges of Ideas' in this document. Nobody cares about your janky hard sci-fi exposition. It's a waste of valuable words.
In fact, read the whole thing if you haven't already.
SurreptitiousMuffin fucked around with this message at 10:15 on Jan 11, 2014
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 10:11|
Well, that's what I get for drunkposting, I suppose. Still, I can make this work.
You know what, I'm getting grumpier as time goes by so you get a nice big flash rule, for not being able to read.
"What's the damage?" Already, the clipboard was being shoved into my hand, and I flipped through it, taking in the necessary information. My throat went dry as I caught some of the lines on the page, reading the answer before I heard it. This wasn't going to be a pretty sight.
"Heavy lacerations to the face and neck via barbed wire fence. Similar injuries exist on the hands and wrists, as well." The nurse, some pretty thing whose name I couldn't remember, replied with practiced precision and clarity. She lived this just as much as I had, and if anything shook her any more, she made no sign of it. "We believe he was dead for approximately five minutes before the paramedics were able to activate the stasis implant, so there's likely to be some brain damage from the oxygen deprivation as well."
"Time left on his sentence?" I could see it right in front of me, but it didn't make any sense. Her answer, in so many words, confirmed it. This man had attempted to escape prison with only six months left before release. Now, I never could conceive of an outcome where an escape attempt had a positive ending, but even if there was one, to try with so little time left was completely inconceivable. "Any pre-existing conditions?"
The nurse hesitated, and my stride broke. "...Necrotizing Fasciitis, Doctor," She finally replied. The words were grim and wretched, and they hung in the air for several moments after she spoke them. "Very advanced. Were it not for the implant, he would most likely have died some time in the summer of last year. You may wish to brace yourself before you go in."
I thanked her for her concern, and waved her off. Now, I have been a doctor for over two centuries, I'm one of the best in my field, and I am proud of my accomplishments. I thought myself ready when I entered the patient's room, but even with all my experience, I have no shame admitting that I wretched when I saw him. If I hadn't skipped lunch that day, I might well have done more than that.
"Hope I didn't scare ya, Doc." The patient laughed, a raspy, choked sound. Some of the flesh in his cheeks had rotted through, and I could see his jagged yellow teeth and blackened tongue. Phlegm, or perhaps some sort of pus, dribbled from the corner of his lip as he spoke, dripping onto his chest and staining the gown a diseased green. "Wouldn't wanna give you nightmares."
"I appreciate that, but there's no need to worry. Let's talk about you instead, shall we?" Somehow, I managed to keep a professional tone in my voice as I spoke to him, despite the churning in my stomach. "It says in the paperwork here that due to the nature of your... condition, the judge has ruled not to extend your sentence. On the condition that you do not make any more escape attempts while you are receiving medical treatment."
"Oh, I don't think you need to worry about that, Doc." Fixing me with his gaze, the patient gave that crooked, bloody grin again. He raised his hand and wiggled his fingers at me, while darkened, half-clotted blood seeped from the gashes on his wrists. They were vertical, self-inflicted. And then I finally understood. "Can't exactly escape from immortality, can we?"
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 10:34|
Joufyl Sypheus. 1239 words.
Jerimiah was glad to be alone on his Island. The little drones following him around always kept a respectful distance, about 30 yards or so. Why he was so interesting to watch he could not fathom. Each to their own he told himself long ago. He hardly noticed them anymore. Supposedly, the Island`s name was Corsica; at least he seemed to recall that name being used when he first arrived. Now his art covered almost every part of the Island. He-Jerimiah made free use of every part of it.
Why the locals had left and if they had done so voluntarily or not he had no idea. Certainly, he had not asked them to leave. However, he was grateful to them for letting him cover this little rock with his buildings. His copy of Krak des Chevaliers was almost complete; it had only taken him a thousand years to get it done. As he stood on the tallest spire in the castle, he looked down on some of the things that he had made. The beach he had bedecked in the eroded leftovers from his Sphinx-period. He must have built like a 100 of those things. Higher up in the hillside the few tourist allowed to visit could enjoy his 1:1 replica of the Hagia Sophia. Probably his most complex work so far. Just preparing the ground had taken him 500 years of digging. Getting the dome right had been even harder. However, he knew that he would never run out of time, so he did not mind having to redo things. That`s why he never bothered about the mathematics behind what he built. Trial and error was how he had learned everything. He knew how to make a gothic arch, and where to put the load bearing columns and roughly how much they could carry. However, he could not explain the principles behind it. He had just done it. Besides, if things fell apart it he did not mind. Rebuilding it would kill time, and as he well knew the heat death of the universe was still a long way off.
Jerimiah rarely reflected upon the past. For all he cared people could do what they wanted with his works. Just as long as he was left alone whilst building them. He opened at can for beans and poured the contents into his mouth. It was nice to have a little meal every century or so, even if he did not need it. Thinking about this Jeremiah felt a great deal of gratitude for his benefactors. It was nice to receive so many gifts of food, equipment and materials throughout the eons. Since it was summertime, he was sure his benefactors had made their androids provide him with a new delivery. Building the summer palace of the Qing-emperors would require enormous quantities of everything from timber, rock, specialized tools to the right clay from which to make Tiles. He feared they might have given him finished Tiles to work with instead; he would have to throw those away. Making his own would be so much more fun, he could barely wait.
Jerimiah liked to draw up what he wanted to do next when he was a few decades shy of finishing a project. Somehow, a drone would take a picture of it, and his benefactors would take educated guesses at what he required. He refused all modern tools. Sadly, he had allowed himself to use motorized drills one time. They still had not completely grasped that he wanted to it all by hand.
He was rarely disturbed. Every millennium his brother would visit for a little chat. Jacob or “Jaycup” as his brother preferred to write it always invited him to new places. The moon, Mars, Venus, and what was the last suggestion?…Andromeda…Something. Probably far away. Jerimiah always refused, he preferred working. In addition “Jaycup” freaked him out with his constantly changing avatars. Always appearing as a floating squid, a raven or some other bizarre creature. Jerimiah felt sad for his brother, “Jaycup” seemed incapable of being content with what he had. Jerimiah on the other hand preferred his Adam’s suit. Winter, spring or summer, he never covered himself.
Whilst resting after his meal Jeremiah started thinking about his past. Countless eons ago, he remembered being bored all the time. He had been very sick and his hair had fallen off because of the awful medicine they had given him. Mother and Father was so sad all the time. Probably because they stayed with him all the time in that strange white room. All the time men and women in white coats would give him new pills to swallow and inject ever-more poison into him. He had dreamt of being big and strong, of being left alone to build something just for himself. Then one day he was healed, no one knew why. In fact, everyone in that strange place suddenly looked a lot healthier. He had gone home to his family. Thankfully, he never saw those white coated people again. Granddad was soon after sent back from a “home”, and everyone was happy. Suddenly Grandad looked like a young man again. He said he was tired of being inside all day and that he did not want to be a professor anymore. Jeremiah often wondered if Grandad`s ”home” had been a bad place to live.
Lost in his thoughts ten winters had passed by the time he got up again. It was probably for the best that no one visited. He was lousy company. One time a man had come to him babbling all the time and following him around. He babbled constantly and would often get down on his knees to babble some more in a pleading voice. What that was about he could not tell. It sounded vaguely like English, but the language had changed a lot over the years .The man`s speech was just meaningless gibberish to him. The only words he thought he recognized was something about «Buddha” and something about «Wisdom” and constant referrals to some kind of “Master”. Jeremiah eventually brained him with a stone pickaxe to shut him up. When the strange man recovered from his wound, he quietly went away. Jerimiah had not been disturbed since then.
Jeremiah walked down the stairs of his castle to look upon it from the outside. When he got down, he quickly realized that something was very wrong. The whole building swayed far too much to the left. It would collapse by its own in a few hundred years. It was not that he cared what happened to it. However, he hated doing things half-ways. He could not tolerate the castle in its present state. He had a limitless supply of time, so why not redo the whole thing he thought to himself. As he had no need for efficiency, he chose his smallest pickaxe and walked over the nearest piece of the wall. He brought with him a basket to carry the broken stones down to the beach. Each trip would probably take two days.
Chip, chip ,chip . Jerimiah was soon lost in his labors once again. As he fell into a good rhythm, a song appeared on his lips. His Grandpa had taught it to him long ago, when he was still an old man.
«Push it along
Work work work to make it work
Push it along»
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 14:56|
I'm out of the flashdomebrawl and this week's dome as well.
Let the hateshaming begin.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 16:13|
I think I speak for a lot of people that this is disappointing of you, but ultimately, predictable.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 16:29|
Come mag, it's time to sack up! You have 35 hours to do a brawl. If you need help, jump on IRC and we'll help you along. Leave no domer behind!
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 16:35|
Never have I been so grateful to be a morning person.
What we had never done before (1249 words)
As we did every century, Bear and I scrambled up to Lack's cave, ready for the storytelling to begin. But where he had always greeted us at the entrance, today there was only silence.
"Has he gone to the ocean?" I asked. But Bear had sharper eyes than I, and was already calling out. "Lack?" she said. "Why are you sleeping?"
His dark form lay motionless in a jumble of blankets. I shook him firmly by the shoulders, but he did not draw breath. "A strange sleep," I said.
We splashed his face with cold water, and shouted at him, and poked his feet with sharp sticks. Yet he did not stir; not even a heartbeat fluttered beneath his bony sternum. He smelled unwashed.
Bear's face was placid, but I could tell, after millennia of easy friendship, that she was concerned. "I once heard of a woman who slept for forty thousand years," she said. But we knew there could be no truth to such a story. Who can hold so many years in their head?
"Whatever the cause of this, someone must tend him," I said. "Otherwise his limbs will grow weak, and his fingernails will grow into claws, as Serai the idiot's do if they go untrimmed. I will bring him to the shore and watch over him there. Will you read his papers, to determine the nature of this sleep?"
"I will," said Bear, settling on the packed-dirt floor.
Lack's limbs were stiff and he would not hold on. I was forced to carry him down like a bundle of washing. At the shore a dozen men and women played in the surf. They had just rotated away from the fields or the schools, and were preparing for a few centuries of leisure. They prodded at Lack as I laid him out on a blanket.
"He sleeps," said a long-limbed woman, "but does not breathe. He does not look ill, yet his heart does not beat. Why?"
Another woman took a breath and held it, eyes crossing, until her lips went purple and she toppled into the water. She reemerged with everyone hooting. "Yes, a man can hold his breath," she said, "but if nothing prevents it, he will breathe again when he sleeps. Also," she added, pinching her nose, "this man has a great stench on him."
Lack often stank or worse, thanks to the medicines that he brewed. But he was the only man I had met in ten thousand years who could tell a story I had never heard before. Bear and I were his sincerest devotees, and we had spent as much time recreating his stories for each other as he had in the telling.
Turning my back on the crowd, I set about washing him. People stared and ate fruit, juice dripping down their bare chests. As the sun set I piled blankets on Lack and built a fire.
His limbs grew pliable under my massaging fingers, then spongy. My ministrations had done nothing for the strange stench. A throbbing cloud of flies and beetles surrounded us.
People came to sit with me, sometimes allowing me a few minutes of sleep, although more of them preferred to poke at him, to chatter. One woman touched him with a stick and yelped. "What is it?" I said, half-awake. "Has he stirred?"
"Look!" she said. I rubbed my eyes. Tiny, eyeless worms squirmed over Lack's skin. I brushed at them, but more simply crawled from under the blankets. I did not have enough hands to bat them away.
Some men could lure snakes from their pits, could gather lizards to them as an audience to a storyteller. But these creatures were liquefying Lack's skin, slithering into his ears and nostrils. If this was some conjury, Lack no longer controlled it.
"Come, help me," I called. But no person would approach past the edge of the firelight. Steady-handed Bear would help me clear away these worms. But she still sat studying Lack's papers by lamplight. So at moonset I curled up hopelessly in the sand beside Lack, too exhausted to continue plucking at the worms but unable to sleep for horror.
I awakened in the pre-dawn chill to a thunder of wings. Feathers scraped me as I tried to pry my eyes open. A tornado of long-necked birds danced in the smoke from the extinguished fire. They darted at Lack.
"Go!" I shouted feverishly, flapping my arms at them. "Leave him to sleep!" The birds plucked at him, tearing the blankets and his exposed limbs. As if in a dream I struck at them, colliding with one feathery beast only to have it replaced with a dozen more.
The blankets were ripped away and the birds dug into his flesh, exposing bone. Healing such injuries comes only with terrible pain. I imagined Lack torn to pieces, limbs slithering over a bed of bloody sand. "Go!" I shrieked. "Go! Go!" And finally the birds decamped, leaving me retching.
Those watchers who had not fled from the worms had been frightened away by this storm. I wrapped Lack in the tatters of blankets. "Will you wake?" I said quietly. But he did not answer. My eyes felt abraded.
That night, Bear came to squat beside the fire. My relief at her heavy footsteps, at the quiet swish of her skirts, was a warmth in my stomach. She did not recoil at the purple-green of Lack's ragged limbs.
"I have read the papers," she said, spreading them out before me. She outlined the words with a broad finger.
For millennia, I have sought an experience that no man has had before, Lack had written.
I have finally discovered such a thing, through long practice of the alchemical arts. Now I depart, and when I return, I shall weave a tale such as no man has ever heard.
My body may become strange to you. I will explain how to care for it.
"His body?" I asked. His words denoted an old building, an abandoned place of residence.
"What is left after he has gone away," said Bear, gesturing to the heap by the fire. "It is not him, he says. He has instructed us to burn this body in a great fire. It will cause him no pain."
To relieve myself of this horror, of a beloved thing broken that cannot be mended, I would even throw a storyteller into a great fire. Thus. We built the fire so hot that our sweat spattered on the sand, and as Lack burned we told his stories to each other, to the uncaring earth.
When the body was ash we looked up at the stars. "They are a comfort," I said.
"They frighten me," said Bear, "because I know I can never touch them." She was weeping.
How would the stars feel? I thought. Like marbles in a velvet cloth? Like eyes? Then I shivered, realizing that Lack would never tell me the story of the stars.
Bear's soft hand snuck into mine, like a crab seeking a shell. And that night, in the light of the funeral pyre, we did another thing that nobody had ever done before.
Men will spin tales of Lack's departure for centuries, I thought, but nobody will know the truth of it. But Bear and I, at least, know the truth of this strange story we tell each other with our bodies. Lack has gone away, but our story is about coming home.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 16:53|
Forever (563 words)
Death may be gone from the world, but I still wound up in hell. I've seen nothing but a slide-show of faces against a drop-tile ceiling for centuries; the faces as interchangeable as the tiles.
The world rejoiced when death stopped, but never considered the implications. Death was gone, but pain is as eternal as life.
I’d left to pick up a gallon of milk. I never saw the car that hit me. One minute I was starting through Green and Allen Drive, the next the world spun and there were shards of glass flying everywhere. Pain roared through my body and fell silent.
When I woke, my daughter’s face hovered over mine. A drop-tile ceiling framed her head. She was six then. Her eyes were red and wet, and her golden hair hung over me like a canopy.
“Daddy? Daddy, are you awake?” I tried to form the word, Yes, but my mouth refused to cooperate. My chest clamped tight around my heart. Her eyes were wide and a slight smile born of hope was forming on her mouth. All I had to do was move, acknowledge her in some way, and that smile would blossom. I threw my mind into the fight of moving, straining until my brain throbbed.
Her smile faded, and her mother came and collected her.
For countless days this experience would repeat itself. Her face hovering over mine against the drop-tile backing. The hope burning in her eyes diminishing slightly each time. The throb of my head and the stabbing pain in my chest as I failed to move dead hands and a silent jaw. Her tears falling as her mother pulled her away.
One day I woke to nothing.
As years stretched on my only companions were my thoughts and the parade of faces that marched across the ceiling. Nurses and doctors, they would pass in and out of my vision and life. No face repeated for long.
I lingered through centuries. The faces flashed like strobes. I wanted to scream, to force some sound from my body. I struggled against the restraints in my mind. I could almost feel my arms moving as they lay limp and useless beside me.
I woke one morning to find the face of a nurse hovering over mine. A faint smile touched her lips, but she had the blank gaze of a widow remembering her lost love. A strand of blond hair curled down from under her cap. Her face stirred lost memories.
She stayed with me for most of that morning. Finally, she stood up and started toward the door. Her footsteps echoed in my soul. They stopped. I felt the passing of each second. Slow footsteps approached my bed and the nurse’s face reappeared. Her eyes were aflame and her gaze seared into me.
“Please,” she said. “Give me some sign you’re still in there.”
My body lay still, but I thrashed under those eyes. I was certain she would stay if I could move. My mind flailed, imploring my eyes, my fingers, my toes, something the just move. The moment stretched, growing thinner as each second slipped through my dead fingers.
She stood up, the blaze in her eyes extinguished. She nodded to herself and wiped at her eye. She turned and walked out of the room. Her footsteps never faltered. I howled inside.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 18:39|
I'm out of the flashdomebrawl and this week's dome as well.
Leper Colon got two flash rules in the space of 8 hours and still managed an entry. Don't you dare not submit this week.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 19:16|
Leper Colon got two flash rules in the space of 8 hours and still managed an entry. Don't you dare not submit this week.
Mag, I sent you a pm and specific instructions. Do it. Write. What's the worse that can happen? You lose? So what? Learn from it, write again. You don't get better by not practicing. Get out of your head and show us what you have drat you.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 19:24|
docbeard fucked around with this message at 15:21 on Dec 25, 2014
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 19:40|
sebmojo fucked around with this message at 12:47 on Dec 24, 2014
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 19:54|
To Beard or Not To Beard
The giant beard, scuffled into a laboratory cluttered with all sorts of unused machinery and discarded beakers. The hairs on his body bristled everywhere as if he were victim of static electricity. How dare they accuse him, the world’s greatest scientist of having no vision, no drive?
The beard froze and giant letters blazed out in front of him to spell out his name. Dr. Baron Springbottom. The words flew away with a whoosh and Baron regained his speed.
He’d show those pompous fops a what for.
Another beard wearing a top hat and an absurdly large wing-shaped mustache shuffled in behind him. He got Baron’s attention with a quick rap on the table. Using his bountiful hair, he spelled out words for Baron to read.
“Yo, yo, they ain’t seem too impressed
even though you the best.
You discovered this portable
plant holder and it’s adorable!”
The dapper rapper froze as large letters zipped in front of him, spelling his name: Dr. Seamus von Wingtips. Again, when the words flew away, time returned back to normal. A small human boot then spat out from beneath his thick hair and landed on the counter.
"Seamus," he signed angrily. "We are going to cut me open and figure out what makes us tick.”
"Are you mad?" Seamus signed incredulously. “This ain’t even rad.”
"For science, my good beard!" Baron laid down on a table and pointed at his associate. “Do it… for science.”
Seamus’ beard animated tears falling from where the eyes would be if they were a humanoid. “For science!” Thousands of beard arms sprung out from Seamus, each holding a pair a scissors. His body glimmered in the florescent light of the laboratory, blinding Baron with his brilliance. With a flurry of movement of a dervish he threw himself into his work.
Clumps of beard flew willy-nilly as the expert beard-hands of Seamus culled away the hundreds of centuries of growth. Colonies of animals, all manner of machinery and even other beards fell away from the unrelenting snips of the world’s best barber.
The scene froze and among the floating mass of hair, words shot right in: Dr. Seamus von Wingtips, Master Barber and Beautician. The words slid out of view and Seamus continued with renewed vigor.
With the last vestiges of beard, Dr. Baron Springbottom signed, “SCIENCE!”
In the aftermath, Seamus cringed and held a mirror in his shaky grasp. In it, Baron saw himself for what he truly was.
Seamus shook his head in disbelief. “You’re a human woman!” he signed, too stupefied to create a fresh rhyme. His beard adapted the shape of eyebrows for the sake of raising them.
The words zoomed in again. Baron wasn’t a beard after all.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 20:00|
We Conquered Death So That We Could Exult In Murder
The small house quivered and groaned in the freezing ash filled winds. Inside, Cormac lifted his pen from the hollow groove he had carved in the flesh of his bedside table. He gently placed the nib against the soft skin of the blank journal page. He paused and placed the end of the pen in his mouth. The bedpost was weeping gently. Although the head was aligned to stare away, Cormac had slightly pulled and then frozen the eyes so that it was walleyed, and he could see the slow tear falling down from his vantage point at the head of the bed.
He sighed irritably and walked to the dresser. Its joints creaked as he opened the top drawer. While Cormac had once liked the character of the dresser, he now reflected that perhaps a younger one would be better. More supple tendon and bone that could move quietly. He remembered when he was a boy, slipping into the kitchen and watching his mother exultantly demonstrating her new kitchen cabinets to a neighbour.
“See how they shut? They’re called ‘soft closers.’ “The cabinet door had gracefully and silently slowed itself a few centimeters shy of flush, and then closed with a soft whisper. Mother had just missed The Great Step Forward, but she had left him with an appreciation for fine things.
Of course, such things did require care and maintenance. He took a box out and shut the drawer. It creaked and moaned again. He removed the syringe from the box and bent to inject the bedpost. He thought he saw its pupil dilate as the needle passed through its field of view. This was a special nerve toxin—a paralytic that guaranteed full consciousness with next to no bodily response. He was proud to have helped develop it. One of the problems after The Shortages and The Grand Reordering was that flesh and bone, while plentiful, remained messy. He imagined that early man must have had the same problems when they wore animal skins—one was warm, but how to solve the problem of the smell? The paralytic slowed all bodily responses to a crawl, keeping blood, sweat, tears and other excrements to a minimum. Yet the matter it affected retained its consciousness so that the Murderer (and his or her guests) could gauge the full aesthetic response.
He returned to the bed and took up his journal again. He had an important speech to give tomorrow.
We conquered death, he wrote, so that we could exult in Murder. Of course you are all familiar with my famous aphorism. However, you might be surprised of the origin of the word Murder. It is worth remembering the childish delusions of the time before The Great Step, so that we can better understand The Reordering. To Murder, in that time, caused ‘death’. Can you imagine the end of consciousness? That was ‘death.’ I can hardly fault you now if you cannot imagine it. Can you imagine your body, or a piece of matter, slowly decomposing and turning to nothing? That was what followed death. Of course, in those times, our ancestors had not divided themselves into Murderers and matter. At that time there was a great distinction between what they called ‘persons’ and ‘things.’ A person was like a Murderer is now—someone who had control over matter—which was what they called ‘things.’ And moreover, they had a great variety of matter, or ‘things.’ Millions of animals and plants for example, like those whose likenesses you are familiar with. I am sure you all admired the tattoo work in the halls on the way in. There is a simply amazing picture of a dog—and I am old enough to have actually owned a dog...
Cormac sighed and chewed on the pen. What a digression. His mother and cabinets, and now his dog. What insanity was this that he would recall those long ago times on this evening? The Prince-Provost Murderer himself, engaging in foolish sentimentality on the eve of a grand address.
“Lost in thought?” Cormac’s head snapped up. A dark hulk of a man filled the doorway. Cormac knew him from Council—Ivan. Cormac tried to leap to his feet, but his responses were weak and feeble. He scrabbled against the skin and hair of his bedsheets. Poisoned! But how? He looked with dread at his pen as it rolled from his grasp and onto the floor. Ivan followed his eyes.
“Yes, the pen—clever, no? I think you’ll find that your ability to speak will remain a short while should you wish to congratulate me.”
“Antidote me! What is the meaning of this? I am a Murderer, not matter!”
“Well Cormac, that’s not the distinction it used to be. Imagine the prestige when I have the Prince-Provost himself adorning my wall! People have done it already you know, mounted Murderers on their matter—the rage in their eyes is simply sublime against the cowering of the matter. But I’ll be the first to have a Murderer of note.”
Cormac’s mouth was seizing up. Ivan picked up the journal and scanned it. He snorted.
“Another pointless history lesson—I am doing us all a favour.” Cormac was entirely paralyzed now. Ivan made the traditional gestures over him and repeated the Catechism:
“‘Life is eternal and unstoppable/to control life is to be holy/to be holy is to be a Murderer.”
Ivan took Cormac up and carried him from the house.
Alone, the house shivered in the cold night air.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 20:13|
Life’s a Rat-Race
Wordcount: 1012 including title.
“Race ya to the car?” David asked. “Winner buys the first round at the bar?”
“Sure,” Sam replied. “Start on three?”
“Yeah, sounds good.” David said.
“3. . . 2. . . 1. . . GO!!” Sam said. Then jumped out the window. David followed a second later. Fuckin’ cheater. David knew he shouldn’t have let him count. The air whizzed past his face and the pressure on his eyes made them water. In a few seconds he’d impact with the ground. He made his body as compact as possible against the air-resistance to gain speed, but he still didn’t catch up with Sam. Stupid fat-rear end Sam. Sam smashed into the pavement, his fat belly splitting up the middle like a paper bag giving way after being over-stuffed with oranges. The two arms he had used to shield his face snapped, his wrist bones ripping through the skin in his arms. Then David hit the pavement himself and blacked out.
A few minutes later David came to, his body slowly pulling itself back together, the bones in his arm fusing back together. He looked over at Sam, whose fat was worming it’s way back into his belly. He hadn’t regained consciousness yet, so victory was still possible. He rolled to his back, and took a couple deep breaths, his car was only a few feet away. His arms, legs, ribs, ankles, and collarbones burned as the shattered bones fused back together.
“I’m gonna beat you Sam, you better hurry upppppp!” David called mockingly.
Sam groaned, a low guttural sound, his head rolled back and forth as he squirmed on the ground. The muscles in his neck had lost all semblance of strength from whiplash. “Uhnnnnnnnnn,” gurgled out his lips through gritted cracked teeth.
David stood up, he stumbled into the hood of the car. “I win!” He yelled, then he did a jig.
Sam groaned again and slowly stood up. “How do you recover so quickly?” Sam grumbled, “You got some drat good genetics.”
The tracks were down the street from office building, they got there for the beginning of happy hour. They made their way down the long opening concourse then found their regular seats at the bar, overlooking the tracks.
“Mac Green racing today Eddie?” David asked.
“Nope, his bike is still being repaired. He should be good to go tomorrow or the next day they’re thinking,” Eddie said. “The usual for you boys?”
“Yep,” David replied.
“Two pitchers coming up,” Eddie said.
A low gumble came rolled through the stadium, the ten racers had entered the track. Only a few minutes left until the race started, betting was about to close.
“Any tips on these guys Eddie?”
“I heard this new guy Rodriguez has been tearing up the pro tracks in Mexico. He’s going places, he wont be racing in this league for too long. Can’t see these guys touching him,” Eddie said.
“Good enough for me,” David said. He placed a small bet on Rodriguez, using the computer terminal on the bar. “You guys hear they passed down the verdict for the ponzi scheme fucker. What was his name,”
“Broeger?” Sam asked, “that trial is still going on?”
“Yeah- Broeger. They passed down the sentence, he’s getting a month in the vats. Can you imagine that? A whole month in the vats, acid burning away at your skin. Constant pain,” David shuddered, “remind me to never steal.”
“Shiiiiit,” Sam said, and finished off his beer and signaled for another. “Serves him right ruining all those people’s lives. Wonder how many people are homeless cause of that poo poo.”
“Still, a month? That’s a long loving time.” David asked.
The last few seconds ticked off the clock on the monitor then betting was closed. The monitor switched to a top down view of the racers as they lined up. Rodriguez was riding a ruby red cycle, and was in the furthest lane on the outside. With a shot from a starters pistol the race was commenced.
Rodriguez got off to a bad start, he fell to the back of the pack. Rounding the first turn one of the home town favorites, Big Deke, smashed his front wheel into the back-wheel of the racer in front of him, causing him to lose control and smash into the wall. His cycle smashing into two pieces he rolled four times ending sprawled on the track. Rodriguez ran over one of the downed riders arms, his back wheel swinging wide from the bump, but with a jerk he regained control. gently caress, that was a close one. loving Deke. Come on Rod, lets go.
Rodriguez closed the distance, then took a hand off the handlebar and began fumbling with something in his pants leg. Driving one handed at these types of speeds was dangerous. What the gently caress is he doing? He’s loving around with my money, not taking this poo poo seriously. Rodriguez brought his second hand back to the steering wheel, but it looked like something long was in his hand.
Coming to the final straightaway Rodriguez closed the distance fast, he had taken second place and only Deke was in front of him. gently caress, Deke’s letting him catch up, he’s gonna try and take him out. Deke, you loving poo poo. Rodriguez pulled alongside Deke. Deke attempted to ram him, but Rodriguez responded quickly, and then smashed him in the face with a metal rod. Deke tumbled off his bike, which rolled riderless into the grass in the center of the track. Rodriguez crossed the finish line in first, his hand with the rod clenched in it raised in victory.
“Fuckin’ told ya didn’t I Davey?” Eddie said with a grin.
“That you did. Next rounds on me Sammy,” David said. The clean-up crews were making quick work of the carnage on the track. A retired fire truck trundled along the track to wash away the pools of blood left on the track.
“This next race is going to be slippery, O’Connor was always good with water on the track.”
“O’Connor it is then,” David said.
No Longer Flaky fucked around with this message at 20:53 on Jan 11, 2014
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 20:51|
By my count this is the 10th story submitted after the new word count rule was implemented.
The Lingering Wounds
Word Count: 1250
There was glass on the floor.
Marv didn’t expect to hear a crunch under his frayed boot when he walked through the door. Looking down, he noticed mars black paving stones pressed into the hardwood, the remnants of what appeared to be a knight, queen, and king from a glass chess set. Marv was always black, because that was the only way that his wife Charlie would play with him; he always won, except when he didn’t.
Charlie had been drinking. Stepping over a toppled floor lamp, Marv looked into the bathroom. There was vomit in the sink, and the water was running. Turning to the kitchen, Marv found Charlie leaning against the counter, her hand resting in a pool of Malbec as she picked through the remnants of a barren dishwasher.
“Don’t you think it’s irresponsible to get drunk around all this glass?” Marv asked. “You could cut yourself.”
Charlie looked up at Marv. “You threw my dog out of a loving window, so guess what? I don’t give a poo poo if you think I’m irresponsible, because I could have twenty drinks and I’d still make better decisions than you, rear end in a top hat” She pulled an old casserole dish from the rack and hurled it into the living room, nearly hitting him if he hadn’t dipped his shoulder. He winced as the dish exploded against the coffee table.
“Jesus, Charlie” Marv shouted, “give it a rest. That was almost two years ago. You know it was an accident, and I don’t feel like I need to explain myself to my pregnant wife when she is shitfaced. What is it, the third time this week? You need help.”
Charlie reached into the utensil separator, removing a serrated bread knife. As she stepped into the living room, Marv noticed how the redness in her face made the green in Charlie’s eyes particularly vivid. Her knuckles turned wan as she gripped the wooden handle with an intensity she only found at the bottom of a vodka bottle. “How the hell do you accidentally throw my dog out of the window, Marvin?” she asked while approaching him in the hallway.
Coincidentally, the last recorded birth and death occurred simultaneously on January 21st, 2015, at 7:51 pm in the West End Hospital of Kumasi, Ghana. The story has that the hospital was overcrowded that day, turning the hallways into makeshift care centers. It was there where, shoulder to shoulder, life and death met with synchronicity.
Nobody could explain the events that followed, but it appeared as if humanity itself was put on pause. Human cells stopped their natural decay, and they recovered from any damage within seconds. Oddly enough, this was not the saving grace of every injured and sick person, no, quite the opposite actually. Although their bodies recovered from any new damage nearly instantaneously with only a short-lived pain, any ailment that they were suffering from when the immunity caused their body to reset became the new norm. One could put a bullet through the brain of a cancer patient and he would recover before his body hit the ground; however, try cutting out one of his tumors and it would grow back before the incision was sutured. So although death was put on hold, the pain and side effects of the lingering wounds that were afflicting the poor souls of immunity were as permanent as the eternal life we were cursed with.
After the immunity hit, humanity seemed to stagnate. It appeared as if people lost the capacity to learn new concepts and ideas. Most scientists gave up looking for a cure. Universities closed, while schools remained open as babysitters for the working population. Even learning small things, like names and addresses, became more difficult. Still, the world soldiered on through the brain stasis and the immunity; it had to.
Marv recoiled at his wife’s advance, slumping his wide shoulders and grimacing. He didn’t want to get stabbed today. “You know what I mean,” he said. “I didn’t know it would kill him. Todd had just thrown himself from the window and said that the fall into the alley was fun. He said I’d bounce off the pavement like a super ball. When I jumped off with Brutus, I didn’t know that I’d-” Marv stopped as he noticed Charlie raising her knife hand. She wiped the tears from her eyes. Marv stepped towards her, brushing a strand of rosewood hair from her face before holding her free hand in his.
“I can’t believe you” Charlie said with a sniffle.
Something about her tone of voice struck an indignant nerve with Marv. “You know, you’ve hurt me before too.” Marv barked with a lowered brow.
“You heard me. You hurt me all the time. You say the most hurtful things to me and don’t care. You call me immature, you call me retarded, you tell me that I’ve ruined your life. You hurt me and never even acknowledge it.”
“You want me to hurt you, Marvin?” Charlie asked. With that, two flashes of silver against his forest green shirt, a heavy gasp, and a holler. Marv collapsed, blood spurting from his chest with every shallow beat. Lying on his back, the blood shot higher as his heart beat harder, until the blood stopped completely. Cutting the shirt from his chest, Charlie watched his wounds clot, and moments later, heal. “I loved Brutus more than anything in this world.” She said as she cleaned Marv with the sections of his dry shirt.
“I know.” He said with a sputter. “I’m sorry.”
Charlie noticed the purpled bruise on Marv’s shoulder, as familiar to her as a birthmark. Charlie was at the basketball game when Marv took that hard fall. Her heart raced even thinking about him slamming into that hard wood with a thud. “I know” she said.
Holding the crimson blade parallel against her distended stomach, Charlie was at her breaking point. “I’m sorry” she said, “I know you think this is the hormones talking, but I can’t handle it anymore. It’s been 30 months; the sickness, the moodiness, the alien inside me, it’s all too much. I can’t handle this pregnancy anymore.”
“What can we do?” Marv asked while sitting up, “Isn’t this just how things are now? The doctors said if we wait you might go into labor someday; they’re not sure.”
“Marv,” Charlie started, “I just stabbed you in the chest, and you are sitting and speaking like you just woke up from a nap. What makes you think that my body will ever let me go into labor?”
“What makes you think that you can do something about the baby?”
Charlie wiped the blade against her shirt. She rotated it, readjusting her grip in the process before wiping the other side. “I have to try.”
Marv looked into Charlie’s eyes and, for a moment, they were back at Flannery’s on Mission Street that first night when she beat him back and forth across the pool table. “I’ll play you as many times as you want tonight and I guarantee you won’t win a game.” She told him. Over and over he tried for what must have been three hours, buying her a drink for each game she took. At first he tried to win, but his resolve melted with each halfcocked smile that she’d flash, until he was just happy to be in that moment.
“What do you want me to do?” He asked.
She kissed him.
“Get the towels.”
a new study bible! fucked around with this message at 20:53 on Jan 11, 2014
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 20:51|
Roman stared at Isobel Martin, transfixed by how she dangled thousands of feet above the forest by her fingers. His hands hurt just watching her. Somehow she trusted the steel I-beam jutting out from the tower to hold, to not be rusted through or cracked, or at least thought that this odd, white-knuckle Zen state she craved was worth that risk. True, the risk wasn't life-or-death anymore, but a broken neck would still mean a few painful weeks at the cellular replenishment clinic.
"Roman! Pull me up!" Finally she'd had enough. He grabbed her by the forearm and hauled her up and over the beam until she sat on it, legs still dangling over the side. She turned around and sat cross-legged, facing him.
"Thanks," she said. "That was a rush, but my fingers can only take so much, you know?" She grinned at him. "Well, Mr. Ramirez, do you have an answer for me?"
Roman groaned. "I told you I'd think about it, and I'm still thinking. Besides, are you sure this is the best place to have this conversation?"
"Sure it is! Up here, if you tell me no, I can shove you off."
"God, please, don't even joke about that! I don't know how you keep convincing me to come up here with you, I feel sick unless I keep my eyes straight ahead." He sighed and clenched his eyes shut, trying to reel in a sense of calm. When he opened them again she was sticking her tongue out at him. He couldn't help cracking a smile. "Look, Isobel, I'd love to be able to take a running leap into this with you, but there's too much to consider. Hell, after a few hundred years, we'd probably get sick of looking at each other."
"That's no problem. Every century or so, we could get some major plastic surgery, keep things fresh."
"Come on, be serious. Name anyone you know that's made it work for more than a couple hundred years."
Her face scrunched up in thought, and then she shrugged as if to say no I can't think of any, and that doesn't prove anything, and also shut up.
Roman sighed and said, "Y'know, I sort of envy the people that lived before cell replenishment, the people who lived and died. Yeah, they only got a short stretch of time on Earth, but maybe that's all people were meant to have, you know? Now you've got to think ahead, I mean way ahead, because every bad step you take is going to haunt you."
"Oh, quit being morbid," Isobel snapped. "Yeah, people didn't have to deal with the consequences of their actions, at least not forever. But they also had to cram a lifetime into an insultingly short space." She stood up and began to tiptoe along the I-beam, hands outstretched like it was a tightrope. "Besides, we're not teenagers talking about eloping because our parents will never approve. Mom and Dad love you, they love the work you've been doing for the firm. You're practically family already. Why not make it official?"
Roman scooted away from Isobel, to give her room to pace. He was quiet for a moment, listening to the whistle of the wind and Isobel's gentle, steady footsteps on steel. She held herself so confidently, so bold and fierce and light. It was hard not to fall in love with her every second. He thought of another man looking at her like he did, his own face growing stale in her mind at the same time. Living forever, the probability for any one thing happening, no matter how small, turned into a certainty. Give it enough spins and the roulette wheel has to hit double zero.
Roman said, "I can't."
Isobel stopped mid-step. "What?" She leaned forward, took another step, but her tennis shoe slipped on the edge of the beam. Her whole body wavered, center of gravity wobbling until it went too far, her outstretched arms not enough to keep her from toppling.
As she started to fall, Roman leapt up without a sliver of caution, dashed along the beam and lunged forward as gravity began to take her. Both hands thrust out, he caught her by the waist, at the same time trying desperately to hook his feet onto the lip of the beam. They caught and he locked his legs, arm muscles protesting but holding tight. He began to breathe again, realized he had been looking down for several seconds, but the realization didn't faze him. He knew what he was really afraid of.
Roman hoisted Isobel up, her face stark white, and almost had to brace himself again as she threw her arms around his neck. He felt her breathing slow and heavy on his shoulder.
Roman said, "I can't... I can't risk living without you. Five years or five million, I can't imagine anyone better to spend 'em with."
She leaned back and looked at him, eyes brimming with hope. "Are you sure?"
He laughed, not knowing why but just did it. "Not remotely, no. Maybe that's not the point. But we're lucky, we've got plenty of time to figure it all out." He held her close, and she held back. He felt somewhat lightheaded, but couldn't tell if it was from the thin air, a burst of adrenaline wearing off, or maybe even the intoxication that came with plunging ahead into the future.
Isobel smiled and dug her head into his shoulder. "Fine by me. So where do you think the wedding should be?"
"Anywhere you want. Just one condition, though."
"Let's have it on solid ground, huh?"
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 22:47|
Man to Machine
Word Count: 1228
Charlie sat back on the bench, relishing the bitter taste of burnt tar on her tongue. She took another drag from her cigarette and eyed her new partner. A young one, newly inoculated.
“You nervous?” she tried to say it lightly, teasing without shaming; she’d probably been fidgeting and darting glances out the windows that way on her first time up, too. For a moment she wondered if he’d heard her over the noise of the engine.
“Some,” he admitted. He licked his lips in a way that seemed like habit. Lucky for him chapped lips were a thing of the past.
Charlie blew out a long line of smoke. “You know who I am, huh?”
He blinked. As though the familiar mix of fear and worship in his gaze hadn’t been obvious from the start. His tongue flicked out over his lips, again. “Charlie Sanders,” he said. He left off the ‘professor.’ Good. “Name’s Mason.”
“Mason,” she acknowledged, holding out a hand in professional invitation. He took it and they shook once. He wore gloves. Charlie chuckled. His expression darkened, but she waved him off and shook her head, rubbing out the nub of her expired cigarette in a benchside ashtray that liked to spill its contents everywhere at the first sign of turbulence. “Not laughing at you,” she assured him, kicking at the ashes scattered by her feet. “How old are you, Mason?”
“Twenty-four,” he answered. The thought came intrusive and unwanted: one day people might say that, twenty-four, and while this young man meant it at face value, twenty-four, two-and-four, four and god damned twenty, one day it might mean twenty-four hundred, twenty-four thousand, up and up until people forgot the concept of age and stopped asking the question entirely. Charlie lit up another cigarette.
“You’re not really cold, are you?” she pressed on, punctuating the question with a short puff, brows raised.
“No,” Mason admitted. “Not since…” a brief pause, then a shrug. “Not cold, not hot. I’m just sort of here, aren’t I?” His eyes locked onto hers and Charlie heard the unsaid accusation. And it’s all your fault. Well, of course it was. It meant the synthetics were doing their job.
Immortality had been her gift to mankind. The price was one little shot and a couple weeks of puking your guts out, among other inconveniences. She’d warned them back then, her young, fresh-faced, genetically approved little specimens, you’ll wish you could die before it’s over. It had been a joke, then. A quick little clip delivered with a smirk that said but it’ll be worth it, and you know it.
A few more puffs, a long jet of exhaled smoke. She’d spent five years of her life quitting the drat things, back when years meant anything. “Did you know you’d find me here?”
But he said it too quickly. Charlie sighed. Word was getting out, and she was running out of new wastelands to explore. Around them, the plane stopped its climb and leveled out, coasting some thirty thousand feet above empty, flat fields. With luck they’d be full of artifacts, remnants of cultures long extinguished. Charlie liked to collect them. She liked to think someone would remember that once people had been different, varied, mortal.
“They made it an opt-in, you know,” Mason interrupted her thoughts.
“I heard that.”
After most of the adult population had already been inoculated. The miracle synthetics. You couldn’t shoot kids up with the stuff, but right between twenty-three and twenty-eight, that was the sweet spot. Weeks of messy hell as the body shed all its meat-based circuitry, and then the young stayed young and the elderly aged backwards, and you thought your wife looked like her mother before!
Charlie hypothesized that that’s when the unease really began -- no one much liked finding out they were flirting with grandma. The atrocities that followed, the rationing and purging and world-conquering glory… that all came later, and there was a lot less complaining by then. Immortality hadn’t exactly done wonders for the collective moral conscience. She took another drag. Puff, blow, kick at the ashes on the ground. Someone else would clean it up later.
“I’m an opt-in,” he clarified, unnecessarily. “Most people still are. And I didn’t come here to meet you specifically.”
“An interest in cataloguing history, then?”
“Adventure,” he corrected her. “Who would have thought I’d actually meet the great Mother herself hiding all the way out here? Most people think you signed up to get shot off into space.”
Well, they had to put their criminals somewhere.
“I’ve thought about it.”
“Already? You’re only, what … a hundred and fifty? Sixty?”
“I’ve lost count.” That was a lie, but if age was soon to be irrelevant, why cling to it? “They give you all the warnings?”
“The whole long list,” he said. “On my way from man to machine, and all that. But who the hell wants to die just because they’re afraid of getting bored?” He shook his head. “Maybe one day I’ll head off into space, too -- just to see what I can find. You really want to die?”
“Not yet,” Charlie admitted, but the more accurate statement was not anymore. Eventually the synthetics had dulled the guilt, and now though she could understand that it was sad, what they had done, she felt only an academic sort of interest in the history and the persistent desire to light up a third cigarette. She wondered when the synthetics would take that from her, too.
The overhead speaker crackled to life. “THIRTY THOUSAND, C,” the pilot informed them.
“Time to go,” Charlie announced. Mason was grinning. Opt-ins. Maybe they believed in the vision, the perfect utopia, a society of peaceful immortals prepared to spend eternity searching for new places to exist. Maybe that’s how they would eventually find their progress: no longer in generational handoffs, but in the exploration of new frontiers.
Or maybe they would just stagnate forever. Hope was for the young.
The speaker popped. “YOU GOING, OR WHAT?”
“Well, Mason,” Charlie stood -- crouched, really, in the tight cabin. “I think I might have misjudged you, this morning.” She worked the doors open with a grunt, and metal gave way to empty sky, with the white calm wasteland far below. Mason shuffled up behind her, zipping up a windbreaker he didn’t need.
“READY?” she shouted, gripping the bar and bellowing over the wind. Her eyes watered. It must have been freezing, but she felt it only as a mild tingle, like tiny bubbles in a perfect bath. She loved the way her heart sped up as she stood there and stared down, adrenaline -- or something like it -- working even when there was nothing to fear. It felt so loving human.
He nodded and she flung herself into the open air. Mason leapt after her, tumbling in a clumsy tangle for a few breaths before righting himself in the updraft. They fell together, hair tangling, clothes flapping, limbs splayed out to catch the wind. He caught her hand and clutched it tight, and she knew he was delighting in this experience, in the knowledge that what he was doing was completely insane and consequence free. She heard his infectious whoop of exhilarated glee even over the roaring wind in her ears, and for just a blink, she forgot to feel old.
|# ? Jan 11, 2014 23:21|
It Is Really Only God Who Kills
I am the only one alive who remembers dying. The only one with memories like when the old man's head stopped shaking negative. Or her resting of her chin on her chest. She wasn't napping anymore. I won, you see, chosen. We had found immortality, at least according to their theorems and the rats that kept on running and running and running. Didn't even need food. They tried starving one. It just stopped moving after a while, but its eyes, they said, its eyes would still dart. They waited months, and the eyes were still darting, so tried to feed it. It couldn't even move, but whatever they did to it, whatever they did to me, kept it going. From rats to rabbits. Rabbits to pigs. Pigs to apes. Animal rights went ape-poo poo, making GBS threads out all kinds of uproar. Didn't matter. We're not talking about research here. This was it, the ultimate ceiling. We could do anything, we always thought, if we just had more time. More time, we always need more time. Time isn't even real anymore, not really. Not when no one dies. From apes, to me and some others, a group of probably fifty or more. I never counted. I didn't care either way if it worked. If I lived forever a lot of time would pass and I could forget or at least get numb after a while. If I died, nothing new. We were close enough to apes anyways, might as well give it a go. There was ceremony and ritual, turned it all in to some kind of religion. The world watched as we were paraded in front of masses, frothing ecstasy over immortality. I wondered if any of the billions realized they weren't ever receiving the treatment. They'd all be dead and dust before just anyone could live forever. Didn't matter. The people behind these things aren't really people.
Some of the others, after all the parading, after all of the glory, were wondering if it would hurt. I didn't care. I knew what it was to hurt. Have you ever hurt? None of the others did, they were all soft, pampered by the age. Pampered so that we finally had to crack Alaska's sternum. We needed at his heart, see. We were desperate. Someone had to do the cracking. I went north. I was promised pay, housing, food, they said. Turns out, we were more desperate than anyone like me knew. We were worked into the frozen ground, and there was enough money in oil to keep things like that hushed up. We laugh at oil now. I talked to a guy with a camera once, but he was gone soon enough. A video made the rounds. It was the man with the camera, only bad things were happening to him. None of the workers knew anything about it. We understood. We had no choice.
They fed us slop. I mean that word, slop. I only know now they were testing on us even then. Some future food source. I never had any issues with it. Put some guys in the hospital with bloody poo poo. Guess I'm lucky. If you could stomach it, slop was a miracle. Muscle gains animal strength anyways working with machinery like what we had. But slop turned my muscles into machines. We were all machines. I thought I understood strength, I didn't know I would ever think anything hurt after having fingers crushed mechanically in twisting chains and shredded in drill bits. Frostbite was just as bad. Didn't know my boot had a hole till my toes started thawing in the shower. Doctor was too far away. They didn't let us have knives. All our tools are on site. I took a hammer home though, the day before. Some nails were coming loose in the Alaskan extremes. Did what I had to do with the claws. Once you get past those first few maimings adrenaline takes care of you. Did it real quick after I felt my heart pick up. Stopped the bleeding with an iron. I hooked the iron up to a spare truck battery I kept just in case I woke up, and the one in my vehicle was frozen. Made the thing red hot, worked right well. You could do the same if you were pressed hard enough. Have you ever done the same? We all have it there, somehow. It's one thing to do it yourself. It's another to have something done to you. But I figured if I won the contest, they could fix my toe too.
I thought I understood myself, thought I could handle blood and bone and doing things to my body the mind can't figure. But what they did was different. It went to the bottom of me. They told the world they were just working on DNA, and that they had researched. But they didn't tell me about how it would hurt. About how we need death and to remove it, they didn't just change my DNA, but no one believes me when I say this part. I had that iron because there was a church in our camp and a man can't go to church in a wrinkled suit. That's how I was brought up. Hard and righteous. I've always known there was a God and that just because you can't see something doesn't mean it's not real. Well I know for sure there is a God now and I talk to Him and I ask Him, "Please, please, please, don't let it be that they took my soul away" because they didn't just operate on me. They said the soul is willing and has to let go and that is how we die. I figured, when they said that, it made sense because my grandfather, the one who stopped shaking his head, he just decided to stop shaking. I know it. He held on until he was ready to let go and they said now that my body was immortal, my soul would get tired sometime and want to get out and then I would go mad. All of the others went mad and they had to reverse things. There are videos of that too. I know there is at least one, because I have seen it and it too stole something from me and I will never have it back. So they made my soul never let go somehow. I couldn't and still don't understand how they could acknowledge my soul and not God, so I asked them about it and they just laughed. They said that God wouldn't save me. I asked why I needed saving if what I was getting was the good thing everyone said it was. We're not saving you, they said, the scientists I tell you, they said this. They said we're not saving you. We're going to kill everyone, we aren’t sure if it works but we'll know after you all, they said. If you can't die, Walton Herschel, how will you ever see God? I will not tell you what they did then, only that Satan himself was there and I have seen hell and I don't know how, but they killed me and then everyone else on this planet and no one dies anymore or believes me and I am still waiting asking praying for Jesus to come back.
|# ? Jan 12, 2014 00:22|
Business - 994 words
My spine itched. Of course it itched, this job just wouldn't have been quite perfect without that as well - only the best for me and Jones, as always. Still, better to have it than to get dumped at sea by some rear end in a top hat with two brain cells to rub together. They never said how many had been stashed with Davey Jones before they put the system in place, and I was probably happier not knowing.
“Homicide?” That same tone of voice everyone used when they saw the badge, somewhere between surprise and amusement. Wait for it...
“Can't imagine you get much work these days?”
I muttered my way through the usual banter, shut her down when the questions cut too close to the bone. No need to let on that we just as big a joke to Them Upstairs. Maybe I pissed the lady off, or maybe Toombs was just that big of a prick, but it was near half an hour before I got to see the big man. I passed the time using a glossy pamphlet to pick dog poo poo out of my shoe.
Toombs' 'office' turned out to be the whole top floor, a hell of a long way up, and it was fitted out just as nicely as you'd expect, though possibly with a bit less elegance. The man himself was taller than he looked on TV, thinner, and the suit just made him look like a crow. Old, but who isn't? Once people hit their late 80s it was hard to tell. He didn't get up from his seat.
“Officer. What can I do for you today? Interested in dying, perhaps?”
“Sure. Who isn't?” He caught the sarcasm, seemed to take it as criticism of his work.
“Well, true, it's not death per se, but it's the finest substitute human minds can create, and improving by the year. I should know, I spend most of my time dead. I... Well, I was dead until your appointment, but Sharon thought I'd want to talk to a colleague in person. Both in the death business, you see?”
It was the same logic that'd got me put on the investigation. Didn't see it myself, but I let him prattle on. Never know when something important might slip into his sales pitch, and it gave me a chance to check the place out in more detail. Seems people would pay pretty well to not exist, and Toombs (“It's actually from the Aramaic for 'twin'”) just happened to have the right death wish and the cash to make it happen. Years of scientific research, near-total suppression of brain activity, yada yada.
“So, does it work?” I hadn't really meant to interrupt him, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't curious.
“Or your money back.” He grinned at that one. Practised, I could tell. “We offer the option of coming back after a set time, so you can decide whether to continue. You'd be surprised how few people take that option.”
No, I wouldn't. I'd done my homework, spent far too long digging through excruciatingly tasteful black-bordered leaflets looking for hard facts. It had surprised me the first time, though. He carries on with his spiel, and eventually offers to show me around. More like it.
As the elevatore doors peel open, first thing I notice is the cold - nothing too bad, but enough to be noticable. It's from the cryogenics, he says, shows me the long row of heavy doors like you see on meat fridges. I yank one open, mostly because he wasn't going to, and there's a slight pull to the action, like on your freezer.
Inside, it's the size of a shipping container. Three rows of 'corpses' about twenty deep each, hung like suits on a rack. Tubes and wires stick out of them, nothing I can make much sense of beyond 'medical'. It's real cold in here, somewhere about freezing. Toombs confirms it, reeling off figures about how cold slows the regeneration, nothing that'd be news to a school-kid. I poke at a few tubes, but my heart's not in it: I wouldn't be able to spot anything unusual here, and the cold was getting into my old bones. Still, it confirms one thing – pricey. But the cost of dying... Well, I could afford it. I question him on it.
“Economies of scale”, he claims, and goes off into science again. Smart move if he's hiding something, I'm too out of my depth to tell if he's bullshitting me. We go back to his planned tour, but he's too smooth to let anything slip. It's an hour after I arrived before we go back to his office. I pretend to be satisfied, and see myself out.
Well, that's I tell him. I don't buy any of this poo poo, and I'm prickled by the way he treated me more like a potential customer than the law. I kill the elevator somewhere in the mid-teens, step into another corridor full of heavy doors.
Huh. Could be this floor's not in use, but it's more than just 'not cold', it's actively hot in here. I pull open one of the doors, and the temperature hits me like a blast furnace. Not just that, the smell too.
They don't hear me over the sound of their powertools, so I get a good long look at the real 'death' Toombs is selling. The rows of bodies are the same, hanging from rails, but there's bags over their heads. The rest of them, it's fresh raw meat, being stripped off the bones by the workers.
I stumble retching back into the corridor, throw up on Toombs' shoes. Two goons grab me, hold me as he brags how easy I've made this for him.
Later, as the needles go in, he plays me the footage:
“Interested in dying, perhaps?”
“Sure. Who isn't?”
|# ? Jan 12, 2014 00:52|
eh idk how many words we're at now, hopefully not less than 1000
Linne and Desera celebrated their two-thousandth anniversary silently, over a rare cup of coffee at the breakfast table. The window to Linne's left cycled through various soothing pastoral scenes.
After a time, Desera shoved away from the table and went to the small kitchen's ambience terminal; she waved a hand over the screen, and the idyllic meadow in the window dissolved. Beyond was dark, starless truth. The no-space. The metacosmic Bermuda triangle.
Linne raised an eyebrow, but didn't comment. After so long, what use was it hashing out the same old argument? They'd gone over its every permutation in the first five hundred years.
As if on cue, the ship's com system chimed. It was reedy and off-key after so many years, but like everything else aboard the Nomad, it had outlasted its intended lifespan by a millennium, would last a thousand thousands of years into the black and motionless future.
Desera made a sound. Linne waited.
"They're still out there," Desera said. Her speech was halting, unsure.
They're all lunatics, Linne replied over their private thinkcom channel.
Desera shook her head. "No. Talk to me. Like this."
The ship's com chimed again.
Linne cleared her throat, made a few low, gurgling sounds. "Nothing changed," was all she could manage.
Desera seemed to understand her meaning none the less. "What if someone found a way back to time-space?"
"They didn't. Who could? Navs are dead. Science crew, dead." She frowned at Desera. Tell me you aren't losing it on me now, too.
"I said talk to me," Desera snapped.
Linne felt the subtle presence of their mind-to-mind channel evaporate, leaving her alone in her head for the first time in centuries. "It got to you," she said.
"Of course it did." Desera was breathing heavy, her eyes bright and feverish with something alien, something fatal.
Linne recoiled from it. She should have known, should have felt this madness over their shared connection. But it was only then, totally severed from her once-lover's mind, that she realized madness had been festering for a long time, slowly insinuating itself into Desera's thoughts like fungal mycelia taking hold in the quiet dark beneath the forest floor.
A vent pushed recycled air into the kitchen. It smelled of ozone and plastic. Linne was on her feet and walking out of the kitchen before she could think.
The scent of loam and bark and healthy rot hit her as soon as the conservatory doors slid open. They'd planned well, long ago when it became necessary to seal themselves into this corner of the ship. To escape madness. The decision to shut out the rest of the crew, who'd been cabin-fevered and increasingly violent after that first hundred years, had brought its own kind of guilty insanity, but she'd had Desera.
Mind to mind, heart to heart, they had kept each other sane through contradiction and intimacy, argument and play. But after centuries, they'd become so much one mind and one heart that the balance had given way. Linne had become complacent, Desera had found a disease called hope.
The com system was chiming at regular intervals by then. Someone was alive on another deck, wanted their attention.
The conservatory was a whole micro ecosystem unto itself. Linne lay down on the bare dirt and looked up into the ancient canopy. The trees had grown to the absolute limit of the great domed room, and when there was no more sky to fill they turned in on each other, so that the ceiling was obscured by a twisted, web-like amalgam of wood. In another thousand years, the conservatory would be nigh unpassable.
The chiming stopped. Linne was flat on her back still, and in the abrupt silence the pounding of her heart filled her ears. Perhaps the caller had given up. Or...
Desera, she called. But without the thinkcom, it was just a name echoing in the solitude of her skull.
Linne could still do the unthinkable, if it came down to it. She could seal herself into a further corner of the ship, leave Desera to her hope and the madness beyond their barricades.
A klaxon went off outside the conservatory. Desera had deactivated the security fields. Even if their crewmates had found a way back to cosmic space, what was to keep them from tossing Linne and Desera out of the nearest airlock on principle?
Linne wanted to grow roots and join the mindless dream of the trees, before fear or hope or guilt could grow roots in her mind. She stayed on her back, willing Desera to come back on the thinkcom and make it all right, willing herself to get up and go to the barricades and face the unknown by Desera's side. But the moments passed and nothing changed in the conservatory, even as everything was changing beyond its doors.
Absolution came to Linne, found her still flat on her back. The doors swished open and there was Desera, along with five wild-haired, mostly naked women who had the lean, ropey look of people who'd lived outside all their lives. Linne closed her eyes against the hope and anger and fear and anticipation she saw on their faces.
They chattered to each other about the trees, too fast and too musical for Linne to parse, having gone so long without speech.
There was no way out, she realized. Some of the women had fallen to their knees and were raising their arms toward the knotted clot of branches high above. There was no one left to fly the ship, no one with the wherewithal to do anything but hope. She could sense that they thought her the diseased one, prone on the floor with the dead weight of truth pressing her into the ground.
She opened her eyes and looked up at Desera, who was haloed by the entangled canopy, and wondered when, if ever, hope and resignation had been anything more than different ways to lose the same game.
|# ? Jan 12, 2014 01:29|
I think yours was #15, so yeah, a thou.
|# ? Jan 12, 2014 01:34|
Considering a few of the first ten posts were less than 1000 words, I'm gonna pray my 1250 is still OK. gently caress it! *Prays for the best*
Thunderous applause erupted throughout the square. I look up to see my face plastered on the jumbotron from where I sit, where small text scrolls across the bottom of screen in boldface: 2040 ANNUAL CULLING: THE BRODY FAMILY. My mind begins to go numb as I realize the implications of the selection.
“No, please!” Someone next to me is clutching me in a death grip, drilling into my arm with their nails. The pain brings me to my senses and I look over to see tears streaming down her beautiful, rosy cheeks. Elisa, my wife. I feel as if my heart is breaking in two, but I fight the impulse show it. I want to tell her how much I love her, how much I think the World Federation has it all wrong, prioritizing groups for colonization by the paternal family rather than the spousal family. I want tell her we can run away together and become nomads in wilds of what’s left of Earth. Despite mankind ravaging the planet’s resources since the Genesis—a period of religious anarchy and rampant world population growth following the discovery of medical immortality—there may still be pockets of life out there to survive on.
Acutely aware that this interaction is being broadcast live around the world, I turn to her as steadfast and confident as my unsteady heart allowed and only manage to utter “I love you”. I feel my voice crack slightly, but am pleased to find that it’s overlooked in the deafening applause that greet my mother, father and sister who had just climbed the stage.
It wasn’t likely that I would ever see Elisa again. Applications for colonization to Xerus, an Earth-like paradise discovered just outside Earth’s solar system, went through the roof as the world economy collapsed. With the gross overuse of its resources since the Genesis 200 years ago, Earth had become a barren wasteland of what it once was. Hundreds thousands of families are selected each year to colonize, but since Elisa just met the minimum age, it wasn’t likely she’d ever be chosen.
As I make my way to the center of the square, the aisle ahead of me fades into a gray mist and is replaced by a hulking steel ramp leading up to the Revelation, the World Federation’s colossal flagship designed for travel to Xerus. The excited thrum of thousands around me pulse as I make my way to the flagship’s entrance bay. Runan playfully nudges me on the shoulder.
“What’s your seat number big brother?” I look down at my selection packet and find my ID: BTB, 25210, 2040.
“I guess 25210. And we’re near the front. There must be thousands more behind us.” I look back to find an endless sea of colonists making their way up the ramp behind me.
“Looks like I’m gonna beat you to Xerus big bro! I’m number 8!” Yeah, maybe by about one minute I think to myself, smiling.
I’m met by a beautiful woman who greets me excitedly and asks me to lift my shirtsleeve. I oblige, and she swabs my upper arm with alcohol before being passed a syringe by her equally beautiful partner.
“To make the three year voyage feel like a good night’s rest!” She comments to me animatedly as she flicks the syringe. Somehow, I’m not convinced. Medications never seem to work right for me.
“This won’t hurt a bit, don’t worry!”
Searing pain shoots through my arm. Wide eyed, I peer to the attendants and barely manage to see them exchange concerned expressions before the ground rushes up to meet me.
I sit bolt upright, sweat streaming off my body. Where am I? The world morphs and transforms around me in an array of curving lines and colors. I close my eyes for a moment which helps my head stop spinning, but I still feel weak. I notice a dozen empty syringes on a platform across from the long steel table I find myself on. Overall, the entire room gives off an air of disorder and dinginess, much unlike the extravagant entrance bay and on ramp of the flagship Revelation. The Revelation. Where am I?
The deafening but distantly muted noise makes me jump, and I find myself standing, heart racing now. The pressure required to lift myself off the table into a standing position must have pulled something in my arm. I look down towards the pain to find multiple bruising points where nearly a dozen needles had been inserted in my elbow. I shouldn’t be awake.
Following the sound of the noise, I stumble out through the doorway of the long room to find myself in a massive warehouse the size of an underground chasm. Lining the walls leading up to the skyscraper height ceiling are what appear to be thousands of steel freight boxes adorned with a brilliantly glowing green rectangle on the front face.
As I walk, the long rooms end and are replaced by elongated windows revealing an expanse of twinkling green stars in the distance. I must be in space. But the stars look stationary; we must not be moving.
As I pass, I notice a series of letters and numbers on the containers. Moving towards the constant booming which I now can make out is a large conveyor belt system; I glance over every few moments to read the inscription on the containers.
JKR, 400849, 2040
RTV, 340304, 2040
These must be capsules for us to remain in while traveling to Xerus. That’s much better than the table I woke up on.
Out of the corner of my eye I catch a glimpse of something moving fast out of the next window. I look over to find one of the capsules jetting out of the side of the flagship. I follow it as it rapidly shrinks, and then my heart stops. What I thought were green stars are actually millions of capsules scattered across the expanse of dead space beyond the ship.
Millions. They aren’t taking us to Xerus. This is a tomb.
“Runan!” I scream as I begin to panic, counting the amount of jarring booms I’ve heard since I awoke. I’m number 8! rings through my heads with Runan’s voice as I sprint beside the conveyor belt now.
RJD, 49, 2040
DFR, 14, 2040
REB, 8, 2040
Runan’s capsule is a mere 50 feet from the steel airlock, which looms threateningly ahead. I claw my way onto the conveyor system and flail wildly at the container, but can’t seem to apply significant force to push or open the seamless capsule. I slam my fist on the glowing rectangle in a hopeless attempt to break it, but instead the green light dims to reveal Runan staring back at me, wide eyed and fear stricken.
The hexagonal airlock door opens just feet away from the capsule and me with a metallic noise resounding of gnashing teeth. I desperately force my body against the capsule to push it off the conveyor belt, screaming Runan’s name through tears in a hopeless attempt to save her.
As the steel teeth begin to close with Runan’s capsule in the airlock beyond, I’m jarred off the conveyor belt as the next capsule slams into me.
I suddenly don’t feel alone as the shadows beneath me dance, and once again I feel a searing pain shoot through my side as the world goes dark.
|# ? Jan 12, 2014 01:38|
Thoughts on a Cold Winter's Day
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 02:47 on Dec 11, 2014
|# ? Jan 12, 2014 01:42|
Tyrannosaurus is #16. We're currently at 1000 words.
|# ? Jan 12, 2014 01:43|
An Obvious Reference to Hamlet, or Maybe Nietzsche, Man (965 words)
“I kill God, and you’ll smuggle me off to eternal rest. Final offer.” Roy Boss sipped his mug of flesh-preserving tea. Beyond a tall hedge, the decrepit heads of the decaying masses milled in the street. Nothing halted decay like stiff black tea — or coffee, but no true Englishman would be caught dead swilling that. The Abolition Rot had leapt from undead to living, and the prices of both beverages had shot heavenward.
“On behalf of the allied morticians’, necromancers’ and ranchers’ guild, agreed.” Sir Grimston Scythe of Reapersbury offered a skeletal hand. “And as owner of Styx Steamships, I guarantee you passage myself.”
“Ranchers, too? Moving up in the world, Grimmy. Throw in a steak?”
“Have you had meat since the Abolition, Roy? ‘Still mooing’ has never been so literal.” The Abolition Statute, enacted some six months prior on command of the Lord God, outlawed all forms of expiration. There’d been some side effects. “Before you march in there and shoot him - God is more idea than man. You’ll need this.” He slid a box across the table.
Roy opened it. A metallic gray tablet, wrapped in paper.
“Slip that pill into His drink, job’s done,” said Sir Grimston. “Do be careful: while it’s quite a lot of fun - all the rage with the kids, I hear - it’s terribly addictive. Friend of mine got hooked and now he spends half his day trimming his goatee.”
Roy tucked the Iron-E tablet into his coat, hailed the queen and pushed out into the street.
Sooty stone buildings leaned over the street, casting long shadows. Old, decaying men slouched shoulder-to-shoulder in the humid midday heat. The more-vital ones claimed the shade, pushing the badly-decayed onto hot cobblestones. The Abolition had included a grandfather clause, and more undead graybeards were exhumed daily to crowd the streets and brood.
Roy plugged his nose and pressed through. The undead men parted and watched him with jealous, rheum-clouded eyes. The men on the streets rose and crowded up to Roy, snarling. Rotting shoulders closed ranks behind him and a black bag erased the world.
Zombie Saladin tore the bag off Roy’s head. “If you run, I’ll wear your face.”
They were in a small, dirty room. Undead were stacked like rotting firewood, and their oozing secretions slicked the floor. A small window admitted a fresh, free breeze. Roy was on a stool, hands tied behind his back.
Saladin held up the pill-box. “You’re a blasphemer, Roy. I should burn you. I should burn your house and everything in it. But I won’t, for one thing.” He grinned. A lump of necrotic flesh sloughed off his chin and landed in Roy’s lap. “All the tea in China.”
“I mostly trade with the Boers.”
“You’ve ten tons of Oolong in your warehouse. Let’s start there.”
Soon, Roy was back on the street, squished between two shambling mounds of maggoty muscle. Both had long black ponytails. They must’ve been Boxers, in a former life.
At Roy’s warehouse, the big dead men loaded tea onto a handcart. On the way back, Roy’s stomach rumbled. His favorite curry shop was just ahead. “Hold up.” He grabbed a vindaloo, extra spices, extra hot and wolfed it down. Curry slimed his hands and the shop was out of napkins. He groaned and wiped his fingers on his new friends’ shoulders. “Onwards, lads.”
The zombies sniffed their spicy shoulders. Their eyes rolled back in their heads and they toppled over, still. Roy knelt. They weren’t breathing. He ordered another curry, took the cart’s handles and rushed to Saladin’s, cradling the weapon beneath his jacket.
On his return, the undead general cracked open a crate, sniffed the leaves and grinned. “A good start, Roy. Keep it up, and we’ll both bathe in immortali-tea.”
Roy nodded, waved him close and cupped hand over mouth. When Saladin’s nose was beside his own, Roy smushed habanero hell on the man’s face.
Saladin collapsed. Flunkies drew knives. Roy pulled his box from the general’s pocket and galloped for the harbor.
God’s yacht was an enormous, illuminated ivory bathtub, anchored far out in the harbor. As Roy’s dinghy approached, a ladder fell overboard. Roy grabbed it and clambered onto the broad, white, empty deck.
A tall Man in flowing white robes rose from the floor and brushed back tangled hair. He had a dirty one-week beard and bloodshot eyes. “Finally, man. You got my pill, dude?”
“Whoa, man. Like, no one’s called me that in years. It’s ‘the Lord’, man. Or maybe ‘your Lordness,’ or ‘el Lorderino’ if you’re into stealing someone else’s jokes.” God wiped His nose.
Roy opened the pill-box. “It’s yours if you put the dead back in the ground.”
“Sure, no problem.”
“What?” Roy took a step back. It was too easy, and too-easy made him un-easy.
“Look, man. There was another edging on my turf. What’d everyone pray for at 6 AM, what’s the best part of waking up — salvation? My love? Nope. Folger’s crystals.
“How do you think that makes a dude feel? So I got baked and I’m all, like, What if there was no death? Boom, mind blown. Everyone'll love the Jesus again, right? So I did it.”
Roy leaned on the rail. “But you just made everyone depend even more on—“
“You ever try to do something when totally greened out, dude? Cut me some slack here.”
Roy glanced overboard. Angry zombies swam towards them. Saladin’s men. He tossed the pill to Jesus. “Hurry up and save us, or else I’m going to be living sausage.”
“Chili out, dude.” The Lord winked. From the sky came a rain of red peppers. The jalapeño tide buried them. Two men died for our capsaicins.
|# ? Jan 12, 2014 02:25|
Marian planted the morning glories around her brother's body herself. She arranged their tendrils to drape across his chest, cloaking the sunken cavity there. She twined thin vines around his shattered fingers. And as his eyes opened, pinprick pupils asking her all the unanswerable questions, she laid a band of green across his brow.
A tap sounded against a tree behind her.
Marian turned; Suriya stood on the edge of the clearing where Niall would possibly, improbably recover. The short, narrow woman met Marian's eyes and bent her neck to precisely the proper degree. Marian mirrored the nod automatically. "Come see him if you wish," she said, rising.
Suriya walked forward three steps. She stopped ten feet from Marian and Niall, the respectful distance. Surely she couldn't see him well from there. Marian nearly said it aloud. But she settled for inviting Suriya closer with a gesture that was, perhaps, more curt than politeness demanded.
"I mean no offense," Suriya said.
"No. I know you don't."
Niall's mouth twitched under their joined regards. Marian looked away, to Suriya, and considered the scars twisting her friend's visage: the thin, pale worm of tissue on her jaw, the cleft in her nostril that never had healed. Under her jacket would be worse. How many pins kept her arms together now? How many rods did she have in place of bone?
Meanwhile Suriya studied her too. Neither of them could bear to watch Niall breathe, it seemed. The other woman reached out, almost touching; Marian gave a tiny nod, and Suriya gripped her shoulder. Suriya said, "It could end here. Paul doesn't have a grudge against you--no one does."
Marian ran a hand down her face, forehead to chin, all of it as smooth as on the day of her birth. She kept her answer to herself. Suriya could guess it anyway.
What had happened to her brother was no proper ending.
Paul greeted her appearance at his door with claims of pleasure. He led her to an outside table, where they drank chilled cider without speaking until their cups were empty. "I don't want bad blood between us," Paul said then. "My conflict with Niall doesn't need to go any further."
"That's why I thought we should talk," Marian said.
"You're the most reasonable person I know."
At least he wasn't smiling. She breathed in the humid summer air and listened to the wind. "Why did you do that to him?"
Paul clasped his hands tightly enough to pale his knuckles, so the healing cuts across them stood out in lurid red; stitches tracked a black line along the one thumb he had left; his left arm was shorter than its partner by several inches. "Liss. Mostly Liss."
Marian remembered Paul's former lover, remembered the lesser fights over her; but Niall's relationship with Liss had ended two hundred years before.
"I've hated him since she left me for him. Year after year since, centuries of hearing him hum to himself when he's happy and seeing his smug loving smile when he looks at me. Protocol didn't help. I went too far." Paul poured himself more cider and took a long drink. "It happens. But I'm sorry I hurt you. What do you want from me to make things even?"
Marian settled for a lesser truth. "I could use help with his healing."
"His heart could beat again, someday," she said. "Maybe. He could be in less pain. Will you pay for that? I would bear you no ill will." She'd try to forget. She would try very hard.
She thought Paul might consent. He spread out his mangled hands and turned them over to look at whatever damage his angers had done to the palms. He looked at her, and his eyes were old.
But they narrowed. His lips thinned. Only for a moment; a moment was enough. "No ill will," he agreed, and she heard a polite lie.
Marian stood and seized her chair and smashed it into his head.
Paul thudded onto the grass. She brought the chair down again with the strength in her still-whole body, and the arm he raised to ward it off gave way. She bashed his hip, his ribs. All fragile. All mended too many times after fights. The chair broke eventually and drove splinters deep into her skin.
When he had paid in true kind for her brother, she stopped.
Suriya came to help her get Paul's body to the clearing, where they made a bed for him ten feet away from Niall--a respectful distance. Marian pulled the fragments of wood from her hands before she gathered new morning glories. Dots of her blood stained a few of the stems. There would, she supposed, be scars.
"He has family of his own," Suriya told her. "This won't be the end either."
Marian framed Paul's wild eyes with flowers. "Nothing ever is."
|# ? Jan 12, 2014 02:54|
Slowly, slowly, I am working my way through these crits. I'm just going to pretend that it's because I wanted to do sentientcarbon et al. a favour by not entering this week (lol 40+ participants), and not because I'm hopelessly lazy and went out partying last night:
I’m guessing from your comment before you posted the story that you know that this is kind of lame, rushed, and not well thought out. Nothing really happens in the first two-thirds of this story except for some rather uninteresting conversation, and then all of a sudden the one guy gets a bite and then his brother randomly stabs him to death. Your prose is super clumsy, I’m assuming because you didn’t have time to edit – the glaring thing being that he tries not to look his brother in the face while stabbing him in the back. Um, duh? Anyway, you didn’t actually seem to care about what you posted this round, therefore, neither do I.
Why. Why would you do this to my heart? Reading this is like being stabbed with SHARDS OF SADNESS GLASS.
Seriously though, it’s really well written – it’s a brilliant story about an awful situation, and I think you conveyed the dirty grimness of it all without being too melodramatic or overwrought, which can be really difficult. The only thing that stood out to me as being a little bit too much is Ma’s line about slapping Jimmy around. Even if you just leave it as “All five years since I brought him into this world I been trying to get him to act right,” I think it would work better, because her admitting to “slapping him around” seems almost like an admission of guilt, which doesn’t fit with her character at this point in the story. That’s literally my only criticism though, because drat.
Okay, seriously people what is the obsession with having nameless characters? I’m so tired of endless “she”, “he”, “the genderless, asexual being”, and trying to figure out who is speaking to whom, and why should I even care about these characters who are either too hip or too unimportant to have names? JFC. Someone remind me next time I’m a judge, that I want anyone who doesn’t name any of their main characters to be immediately disqualified.
Now, Black Griffon. I think your story may be suffering from a lack of space to fully explain things – you definitely should have used the extra 400 words you had leftover (as well as giving your characters names ) because I really only have the vaguest idea of what’s going on, even after re-reading it a number of times. Who are these individuals, and why do we care about them? You literally drop us into a conversation between two people who may or may not have been lovers, and may or may not be on opposing sides and then leave us to try and figure out what they’re talking about, until the guy falls over….and dies? Or not? I feel like I’ve flipped to a random page in the middle of a really long book, and I’m missing a huge amount of contextual information that seems pretty vital to understanding what’s actually happening here.
I enjoyed this one a lot, I thought it was a pretty neat way to illustrate the theme. I liked the way you manage to illustrate that the narrator is totally batshit, but thinks that his interpretation of the world is totally rational and sane – it can be difficult to do that without being outlandish or comedic (or both), and you did a pretty admirable job. I would have liked to have seen more of the reactions of the posse from the protagonist’s perspective, as he focuses mainly on the gun (and other inanimate objects). In one sense it’s kind of cool that he personifies these inanimate things more than actual people, but on the other hand it would have been interesting if you had made more of his interactions with the actual people in the story – I wanted to see more how they reacted to the fact that he’s completely bonkers ( I mean, he killed a bunch of people for basically no reason, right), and how he interpreted those reactions considering he seems to operate on a whole other plane of understanding.
|# ? Jan 12, 2014 05:53|
|# ? Oct 4, 2022 19:39|
Assuming Erogenous Beef is correct, I'm still #19. But I stuck with 750 anyway.
Man After Man (749 words)
Djeser fucked around with this message at 19:43 on Dec 31, 2014
|# ? Jan 12, 2014 06:26|