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Jick Magger
Dec 27, 2005
Grimey Drawer
I was told the Thunderdome is a nice little place for kind gents and lasses to share their creative writing and get positive encouragement (the "thunder" is applause, right???)

I can feel in my rear end that I'm going to immediately regret this decision, but I'd like to learn to write gooder, so here goes. I'm in.

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dmboogie
Oct 4, 2013


Good/Bad/Ugly Standoff

The Spirit of the Wastes
584 Words


The sun beamed down and the wind blew through Yukiko’s duster as she stared down the heavily-scarred man twenty paces in front of her. “Last chance to back out, kid.” He said, fingers idly drumming the revolver holstered by his hip.

Yukiko shook her head. “You killed my mentor. Ain’t just gonna let that stand, Stark.”

Stark curiously looked her in the eyes. “Wasn’t anything personal, kid. Should be gunning after my employers. I’m just the trigger man.”

Yukiko unconsciously clenched her fists as she gave Stark a glare that would have singlehandedly stopped a stampede in its tracks. “Doesn’t matter. You didn’t have to take the job, Stark. Don’t tell me that the most famous merc in the Wastes needed the cash.”

Stark shrugged. “True. Wouldn’t have been any worse off without the reward. Mostly, I just wanted to see for myself how good ol’ Kinn really was.” He smiled slightly, his eyes growing distant as he remembered the fight. “She was a tough old bird, I’ll give her that.” The smile faded as quickly as it arrived, and Stark placed one hand on his gun. “Just the way of the Wastes, kid. If you’re weak, you can’t go and complain when someone stronger walks over you. Guess you’ll be finding out soon.”

Yukiko grabbed hold of her own gun. “You’re wrong.”

-

The shot went wide, managing to do nothing but scare a nearby cow. Yukiko swore at the bottle that perched on the fencepost as she loaded another clip into her revolver. “What am I doing wrong?

“Ain’t thinkin’ right, I bet.” Yukiko turned and found herself looking straight into the wise old eyes of Virginia Kinn. It’d been a year since Virginia had caught Yukiko trying to pickpocket her in the streets of the meanest city in all the Wastes. Upon learning that Yukiko’s parents had been killed years back by outlaws, Virginia decided against throwing her to the sheriff. Instead, she had taken the young girl under her wing, putting Yukiko to work on her small ranch.

“What does thinkin’ have to do with anything?” Yukiko asked.

“Listen, hon. People’ve been living in the Wastes for over a century, now. Loving, hating, healing, killing, free of any gov’ment other than what a particular town feels like settin’ up. That sort of energy sinks into the land, over time. Gives power to those who truly know it. Close your eyes, Yukiko. Let the spirit of the Wastes flow into you.”

Yukiko complied, though she felt slightly foolish. She stood there for more than a minute, mind drawing a complete blank. However, an image gradually formed in her mind. An eagle soared across the endless sandy expanses, passing over the vast, barren canyons and the cities that seemed so small from up above, free from all burdens. A symbol of all the Wastes represented.

Yukiko’s eyes snapped open, and she fired. The bottle shattered into pieces.

-

The clock tower chimed twelve. Both cowboys drew their weapons, but it was Stark’s hand that exploded into a shower of blood. He cried out in pain, dropping his gun and collapsing to his knees. “Gonna kill me, now?” Stark gasped, looking up at Yukiko.

She slowly shook her head. “More than enough to prove you wrong. The Wastes are a harsh place, yeah. But that isn’t all they are. There’s a beauty behind them that you will never understand.” Somewhere up above, she heard an eagle cry.

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?
SURREPTITIOUS FANKY MUFFIN MALLOONS BRAWL: LET'S DO THIS, YOU PUNNY SHITLORD:

The Garden - 1,400(ish) words

The damp, black earth sighed at the bite of my shovel's edge. The air was warm but not humid, and it smelled like rain. It was a good day for digging.

We could have used machinery to dig out the plots, but the the Emmmeline Trang Memorial Graden emphasised the personal touch in its advertising materials, and that included excavating and prepping each individual Bed by hand. I always used a square-edged shovel when I dug out beds -- it was easier to keep the walls straight that way, the angles sharp. It made them seem more respectable somehow, more appropriate for their intended use. I hated the idea of someone having to spend eternity in a trench with janky walls.

Zyra planted her shovel in the dirt, sighing as she stretched and lifted her hair out of her face. "drat," She said, pulling her dark, fluffy curls back into an impossibly tiny bun, "I don't know how you do this all day."
"Practice." I said, still digging. "That, and I spend the other 16 hours of the day doing as little as possible."
"How deep do we have to go?" Zyra massaged her upper arms as she talked, and shrugged her shoulders in tiny circles, loosening her neck.
"About three feet." My shovel sliced into earth, flicked it up and over the side, sliced in again.
"How many are we at right now?"
"Not even one."
"So we're not even <i>halfway</i> done?"
"Not even." I echoed, pointing at her shovel with my own, "Guess you'd better keep digging."

Zyra usually worked in Trees. Digging stump holes was a lot less work than full-size beds, but caring for clients once they were Treed was complicated. Working in Beds was hard labour -- aside from the task of digging out full-sized plots, a Bed was cheaper than a Tree, so we had a higher client load -- but honestly, the Trees creeped me out. They were fine once they'd been in the ground for thirty years or so and the bark had fully taken hold, covered all the flesh. They almost never opened their eyes after that; you could hardly even make out their faces in the wood sometimes. I wondered what that really meant for them. If they became more Tree than human, or if they dreamed less. Or if they were even still alive at all.

-----
No-one was really clear on exactly how death went extinct. All most of us knew was that one day, a particularly observant clerk in a government records office noticed that no death certificates had been issued in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador for over a week. It would have been easy to write it off as an anomaly linked to Newfoundland's small population but closer inspection revealed that numbers were down everywhere. Province by province, territory by teritory, numbers of deaths dropped to zero until the day, 248 years ago, when not a single person in Canada died.

Nobody could explain it. Instead of wearing out and shutting down, people's cellular machinery just kept right on ticking. Telomeres shortening and then extending again in perpetual motion, slowing the process of aging down until it was almost imperceptible. Everyone just went on living and living and living.
-----

Emmeline Trang had founded the Memorial Garden programme because she didn't want to be Retired into an anonymous cryosleep pod and stored underground with the commoners until someone found the cure for immortality. The Trang Tree stood alone at the centre of the garden, our oldest and largest client-specimen. You could almost believe it was just a regular tree if you didn't look hard enough for the suggestion of a face in its trunk, or the shape of arms and hands extending up towards its canopy. Zyra swore that the Trang Tree still had a faint heartbeat, even after 210 years. I wasn't particularly interested in finding out if that was true.

The sun had burned off the early morning cloud cover by the time we were done digging the bed. I had taken off my shirt at some point, so I used it now to wipe the dirt and sweat off my face. Zyra, sitting on the edge of the hole sipping water from a hip flask asked me, "Won't you get in trouble if visitors see you working like that?"

I shrugged. "The sports bra covers everything that needs to be covered. Besides, most of them were probably born looking down their noses at the help. We're practically invisible unless they want something from us."

"I suppose that's true," said Zyra meditatively, "they ignore me anyway because of my face. I can always see them telling themselves not to stare at the freak."

Zyra was beautiful from certain angles, but on the left side of her face thick ropes of raised scars twisted down from her ear to her collarbone. I had never noticed before how pale they were against her dark skin.
"Why don't you use scar removal cream on it?" I asked, "It would probably fade a lot faster that way."

It was Zyra's turn to shrug, "I don't know. As a reminder of youthful short-sightedness, I guess."

"Pass me that sheeting and the pillow," I said. As she handed them off I asked, "What do you mean?"

"I had a sort of existential crisis in my 60's," said Zyra, "whenever I thought about the future I just saw this black hole of nothingness, stretching away from me and the thought of living in that darkness for another 150 years made me sick to my stomach. I would have volunteered to Retire if I had been old enough, but I wasn't. I knew that you can still die from catastrophic injuries, so I doused myself in gasoline and lit myself on fire, and here I still am. Stuck here like everyone else."

I winced as I laid the rubber sheet over the bottom of the bed and added the pillow, which was the client's own and monogrammed with his initials. I drove in the long stakes that would hold the IV and oxygen lines, completing the transformation of the bed into a Bed.

"So why work here if you hate the thought of old age so much?" I asked.

"Because they're beatuiful. The Trees, I mean. They make things seem less meaningless. I'd rather spend forever sleeping as a Tree or in a flower Bed than sleeping in a cryopod."

I frowned, "You make it sound so romantic."

I had no such illusions. I often wondered what happened to people's bodies once they were Bedded. If they decomposed at all, and if that hurt. How long they could live for whilst rotting away down there, feeding the flowers. Maybe once you got old enough to be Retired you stopped caring.

I was about to ask Zyra her opinion when we were interrupted by the sound of people approaching. I hopped out of the Bed and hurriedly slipped my shirt back on. Two porters carried the client between them on a stretcher, with a third walking alongside carrying his IV bag and oxygen tank. A small group of what I assumed to be his family huddled in the distance, trying to look like they weren't watching the proceedings. We worked sliently, even though the client was in an induced sleep so deep that the end of the world probably wouldn't wake him.
The old man was brittle and shriveled, like a shed snakeskin. Looking at him, I could see the dark tunnel that Zyra had spoken of. My scalp prickled with faint horror at the thought of all the time in the world stretching away from me, of living in the endlessness of cryosleep. As Tree. In a Bed.

I shuddered and picked up my shovel and closed my eyes, focusing on the whisper of metal against dirt as I refilled the Bed. My hands trembled, so I gripped the shovel harder and thought about the flowers I was going to plant once this task was complete. Forget-me-nots and peonies. Blue and pink. Lively. The sigh of my shovel against the dirt. The smell of rain in the air. It was a good day for digging, but I kept my eyes closed anyway.

Angrymantium
Jul 19, 2007
Resistant to everything
I finally remembered to get in! I'm in for the first time, expect terrible writing.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010


If you must blink, do it now.
You don't write a cowboy story and not submit it at high noon exactly.

sebmojo posted:

:siren:THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY BRAWL:siren:
Silent Joe (600 words)

That man...he was almost certainly an idiot. Yes. Without question. He was definitely an idiot. Such was the appraisal of the sharp-eyed girl.

The sound of a kettle whistle cut through the silence. The idiot sat cross-legged. He poured himself tea.

"Care for a spot? A sip of civilization's good for the soul, you know. Out here, it's easy to forget what it means to be human."

The idiot sat in the middle of the street in dusty hat and poncho. The sharp-eyed girl regarded him with a certain colorlessness. The red sash about her waist danced in the wind. His smile, yes. It was his smile she disliked. The smile of a man without worry or care. The smile of a man untroubled by circumstance.

The smile of a man worth $12,000. The smile of the man whose face adorned the poster in her pocket. Silent Joe.

"My name is Emile. I am here to kill you."

Silent Joe raised the tin cup to his lips. He hesitated, his expression grave, his eyes a natural squint. He returned the kettle to the fire.

“So you don’t want a drink then?”

Emile blinked.

“…Well, okay, maybe just a little.”

“I see, I see.” Silent Joe took a long drink. “Unfortunately, this is the last of it.”

“WHAT. Then why were you offering?”

“Conversation.” His smile returned. “Conversation is good for the soul as well. I truly believe that. Maybe if you talked about things a bit more you’d feel like killing people a bit less.”

How had such a man lived long enough to acquire such a price on his head in the first place?

“Most people aren’t worth $12,000.”

“Oh? Is that what it is now?” He punctuated his question with a second drink. “Amazing. I could use that kind of money.”

Emile snapped her fingers, a spring-loaded sleeve gun pressed into her hand. It was a tiny creation, large enough for a single bullet. She only needed one. She pulled the trigger.

The sound of the gunshot was accompanied by a ricochet. The bullet, too, had been small. So was the tin cup Silent Joe spun with lightning speed. Somewhere off in the distance an eagle fell to Earth.

Emile blinked.

“Oof, quite the shot there.” Silent Joe dusted himself off as he rose to his feet. There it was. That smile again. That smile that irritated Emile like no other.

Again the kettle whistled. From her sash, she pulled two matching pairs of silver scissors. She lunged at Silent Joe.

Silent Joe dodged the first swipe and ducked the second. His right leg swept the ground. His foot caught the handle of the kettle and kicked it up into the air. A second kick sent it flying towards Emile. Snip, snip. The scissors danced in her hands. The kettle split in half, full of steam and boiling water. Emile winced. She snapped back her hand, scalded, only to lead into an attack with the other. Snip, snip. The scissor blades opened and closed. Silent Joe countered with the old tin cup. The scissors pierced through the bottom and were stuck. Again he lashed out with his foot. Emile tripped and fell and tumbled to the ground. When she looked up, it was into Silent Joe’s gun. Click, click. That smile again. No bullets.

“You’re lucky I don’t kill amateurs.” He holstered the gun and turned to leave.

“You talk a lot for a guy called Silent Joe,” she called after him.

Silent Joe stood still.

“…That’s what they call me?”

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.




sebmojo posted:

Also, who wants a crit, i'll do like five or six.

Crit me you great big hunk of man you.

Phobia
Apr 25, 2011

I'm a suave detective with a heart of gold in hot pursuit of the malevolent, manipulative
MIAMI MUTILATOR
and the deranged degenerates who only want their
15 MINUTES OF FAME.


OCK.

sebmojo posted:

!!

I give her seven more hours until high noon pst Thurs. Also, who wants a crit, i'll do like five or six.

Me, I want a crit

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Fanky Malloons posted:

SURREPTITIOUS FANKY MUFFIN MALLOONS BRAWL: LET'S DO THIS, YOU PUNNY SHITLORD:

The Garden - 1,400(ish) words

The damp, black earth sighed langorously at the bite of my shovel's edge. The air was warm but not humid, and it smelled like rain. It was a good day for digging. nice litty opener, though verging on the purple

We could have used machinery to dig out the plots, but the the Emmmeline Trang Memorial Graden emphasised the personal touch in its advertising materials, and that included excavating and prepping each individual Bed I understand why you capitalised - I am not sold on the decision, i'd have opted for trusting the reader by hand. I always used a square-edged shovel when I dug out beds -- it was easier to keep the walls straight that way, the angles sharp. It made them seem more respectable somehow, more appropriate for their intended use. I hated the idea of someone having to spend eternity in a trench with janky walls. nice character stuff

Zyra planted her shovel in the dirt, sighing as she stretched and lifted her hair out of her face. "drat," She said, pulling her dark, fluffy curls back into an impossibly adverb check: marginal tiny bun, "I don't know how you do this all day."
"Practice." I said, still digging. "That, and I spend the other 16 hours of the day doing as little as possible."
"How deep do we have to go?" Zyra massaged her upper arms as she talked, and shrugged her shoulders in tiny circles, loosening her neck.
"About three feet." My shovel sliced into earth, flicked it up and over the side, sliced in again.
"How many are we at right now?"
"Not even one."
"So we're not even <i>halfway</i> done?"
"Not even." I echoed, pointing at her shovel with my own, "Guess you'd better keep digging."

Zyra usually worked in Trees. Digging stump holes was a lot less work than full-size beds, but caring for clients once they were Treed was complicated. Working in Beds was hard labour -- aside from the task of digging out full-sized plots, a Bed was cheaper than a Tree, so we had a higher client load -- but honestly, the Trees creeped me out. They were fine once they'd been in the ground for thirty years or so and the bark had fully taken hold, covered all the flesh. They almost never opened their eyes after that; you could hardly even make out their faces in the wood sometimes. I wondered what that really meant for them. If they became more Tree than human, or if they dreamed less. Or if they were even still alive at all. so this is the gradual creeping realisation kind of sci fi, and you're doing it well.

-----
No-one was really clear on exactly how death went extinct. All most of us knew was that one day, a particularly observant clerk in a government records office noticed that no death certificates had been issued in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador for over a week. It would have been easy to write it off as an anomaly linked to Newfoundland's small population but closer inspection revealed that numbers were down everywhere. Province by province, territory by territory, tsk numbers of deaths dropped to zero until the day, 248 years ago, when not a single person in Canada died.

Nobody could explain it. Instead of wearing out and shutting down, people's cellular machinery just kept right on ticking. Telomeres shortening and then extending again in perpetual motion, slowing the process of aging down until it was almost imperceptible. Everyone just went on living and living and living. info dump, but a cool and well-delivered one
-----

Emmeline Trang had founded the Memorial Garden programme because she didn't want to be Retired hrmmm no, still not a fan into an anonymous cryosleep pod and stored underground with the commoners until someone found the cure for immortality. The Trang Tree stood alone at the centre of the garden, our oldest and largest client-specimen. You could almost believe it was just a regular tree if you didn't look hard enough for the suggestion of a face in its trunk, or the shape of arms and hands extending up towards its canopy. Zyra swore that the Trang Tree still had a faint heartbeat, even after 210 years. I wasn't particularly interested in finding out if that was true. this misses on a more interesting character interaction she could have had with the tree

The sun had burned off the early morning cloud cover by the time we were done digging the bed. I had taken off my shirt at some point, so I used it now to wipe the dirt and sweat off my face. Zyra, sitting on the edge of the hole sipping water from a hip flask asked me, "Won't you get in trouble if visitors see you working like that?"

I shrugged. "The sports bra covers everything that needs to be covered. Besides, most of them were probably born looking down their noses at the help. We're practically invisible unless they want something from us."

"I suppose that's true," said Zyra meditatively, "they ignore me anyway because of my face. I can always see them telling themselves not to stare at the freak."

Zyra was beautiful from certain angles, but on the left side of her face thick ropes of raised scars twisted down from her ear to her collarbone. I had never noticed before how pale they were against her dark skin.
"Why don't you use scar removal cream on it?" I asked, "It would probably fade a lot faster that way."

It was Zyra's turn to shrug, "I don't know. As a reminder of youthful short-sightedness, I guess."

"Pass me that sheeting and the pillow," I said. As she handed them off I asked, "What do you mean?"

"I had a sort of existential crisis in my 60's," said Zyra, "whenever I thought about the future I just saw this black hole of nothingness, stretching away from me and the thought of living in that darkness for another 150 years made me sick to my stomach. I would have volunteered to Retire if I had been old enough, but I wasn't. I knew that you can still die from catastrophic injuries, so I doused myself in gasoline and lit myself on fire, and here I still am. Stuck here like everyone else." this 'how's things' chitchat could be called dull , but you actually make it work as a metaphorical insert, (kaishai did an immortality piece a while back that did some similar things (though rather better)

I winced as I laid the rubber sheet over the bottom of the bed and added the pillow, which was the client's own and monogrammed with his initials. nice pathos in this detail I drove in the long stakes that would hold the IV and oxygen lines, completing the transformation of the bed into a Bed. hrmmmmMMMmm you're actually winning me over here

"So why work here if you hate the thought of old age so much?" I asked.

"Because they're beatuiful. The Trees, I mean. They make things seem less meaningless. I'd rather spend forever sleeping as a Tree or in a flower Bed than sleeping in a cryopod."

I frowned, "You make it sound so romantic."

I had no such illusions. I often wondered what happened to people's bodies once they were Bedded. If they decomposed at all, and if that hurt. How long they could live for whilst rotting away down there, feeding the flowers. Maybe once you got old enough to be Retired you stopped caring.

I was about to ask Zyra her opinion when we were interrupted by the sound of people approaching. I hopped out of the Bed and hurriedly slipped these two words don't fit each other my shirt back on. nice Two porters carried the client between them on a stretcher, with a third walking alongside carrying his IV bag and oxygen tank. A small group of what I assumed to be his family huddled in the distance, trying to look like they weren't watching the proceedings. We worked sliently, even though the client was in an induced sleep so deep that the end of the world probably wouldn't wake him.
The old man was brittle and shriveled, like a shed snakeskin. Looking at him, I could see the dark tunnel that Zyra had spoken of. My scalp prickled with faint horror at the thought of all the time in the world stretching away from me, of living in the endlessness of cryosleep. As Tree. In a Bed.

I shuddered and picked up my shovel and closed my eyes, focusing on the whisper is this the best word? of metal against dirt as I refilled the Bed. My hands trembled, so I gripped the shovel harder and thought about the flowers I was going to plant once this task was complete. Forget-me-nots and peonies. Blue and pink. Lively. The sigh of my shovel against the dirt. The smell of rain in the air. It was a good day for digging, but I kept my eyes closed anyway. yeah, I like that a lot. cleanly described, faintly horrifying but not in the least bit melodramatic. Falls down on nothing realllly happening but there is a place in this strange world for the well-described sci fi vignette, yes there is

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

LET THE FANKIEST MUFFINBRAWL COMMENCE!




Ride the tiger, motherfucker

The beer had too many syllables. tight opener One of them was hoff, and the rest ran together in a Teutonic flurry. It tasted like bananas. There was a cute blonde sitting across the table from me: German, a little on the chubby side, hazel eyes filled with intelligence. i'd probably have put a name in, or made up a reason why there wasn't one? She'd taken me to the place where all the Germans in Wellington went to drink, then I'd taught her the word 'shithouse' and she'd laughed until her cheeks went red. I was trying to impress her with my alcohol tolerance. however polysllabicity of beer label doesn't quite make sense for him to think about if he's not trying to say it?

“Why,” I said. I swallowed something bitter, and the rest of the sentence along with it. That seemed like a good place to stop. The floor wanted me; it jostled and bumbled. Why. It was a good word, a solid word, so I hung to it like it was a lamp-post and the whole world was a storm. “Why,” I said, “do I look back on my life every six months, then get angry.” I like this para quite a bit more than the first one possibly you should have swapped them I dunno

Smooth.

She laughed, and her eyes twinkled. Terrible taste in men, clearly. “Me too,” she said. Clipped words, but not unkind. “You would think, after twenty-five years, I would've stopped loving poo poo up.”

Another German-ism. Every one of them I've met has cursed like it could call Christ from the grave. Swearing works differently in German, I think. “Ja, Ich auch denk zo weiter,” I said. She didn't correct me. I think she knew I was beyond helping there. She could pound back beer like it was water, but that's about as far as her magic went.

I took another quaff of the beer. Quaffing is like drinking, except less of it ends up in your mouth. Germans like quaffing, right? The rocking floor got more insistent. C'mon pussy, sleep on me. Home is far away and your legs suck. i like this floor fella he has sass I used to be able to drink more than that. At least, I think so. Memory is strange: it changes every time you check on it. The bad ones can dig into you like fish hooks, pull you into darker places than you ever truly lived. The good ones only get better, like cheese, or wine, or uh … croutons? gently caress off, I don't know food.

She thinks you're really deep bro, hit her with the big guns. is this still the floor talking? that would be kind of cool I want to read a story with a talking floor now.

The floor was sneering at me, and my own mind had joined in - two-faced loving traitor that it is. BUDDY COMEDY AHOY Sometimes I wish I were a beast in the forest, that didn't have to worry about showers or nice shoes or niggling low-level electric anxiety. It's a passing fancy though, because even then I would still remember; I would look back every six months, and get angry.

A waiter glid by, and Miss Germany threw up the V. Claudia, was that it? Claudia the German, OH YOU DID GIVE HER A NAME ok scratch that earlier bit who ordered drinks with her hand backwards. Can you handle another round, man? I needed to act fast.

“It's like,” I said, “a tiger.”

I wished I was drinking Tiger, but that's besides the point. I didn't even know you could put fruit in beer before that night, but by that point I knew it very well.

“You're riding on its back,” I said, “and you're like 'wooo I am on a tiger' but then bad things happen and you don't want to be on a tiger any more.”

She tilted her face a little to the side, narrowed only one of her beautiful clever eyes. Had she begun to suspect she was drinking with a complete rear end in a top hat? Quick, panic! Don't panic! Say something clever! You're already saying something clever so forge on ahead brave man! you could have it foil criminals by being a floor, like they're expecting it to be a ceiling then it turns out to be a floor? gently caress I don't know, you're the writer

“But you hang on to the tiger and it keeps running, and you leave the bad things behind. And then you turn around and shout 'hey, gently caress you!' because now you're onto the good things. And then maybe there's more bad things ahead, but you got through the last ones a-okay so why not keep riding?”

She was silent for a long time. Not a sad silence, but the mystified silence of drunks who think they might've just heard something interesting, but their brain is currently off doing other things and isn't quite ready to deal with it. haha even cutprice douglas adams is good in these sad post douglas adams times in which we live

“That is-” she said, then paused and took a long drink. She put the empty glass down with care, then let out a contented sigh. “That is terrible. nice action/word combo That is too many words to describe life. You have too many words, you know that? You should shut the gently caress up sometimes. and good pay off of sweary germans line Life describes itself well enough. All you must do is listen.”

My face fell. She looked baffled, then seemed to catch the sharpness of her words. That happens between languages. Something lost in translation, I guess.

“You are maybe right,” she said, “even if you are shithouse at explaining it.”

She laughed, not unkindly. I laughed too, because she was right. I'd ridden through one terrible analogy and I wasn't dead, and she didn't hate me. We'd ride through more before the night was over. As time turns, your memory gets deeper: great light and shadow painting a chiaroscuro of the soul. You can choose to dwell in the darkness: living in your mistakes until they shake your body to pieces. It's an ugly place, but we've all been there. Or, you can have faith in the future, secure in the knowledge that you will never stop loving poo poo up, but you get better at dealing with it. Hold onto the things that work, and drop the things that don't. The tiger's back is a frightening place, but it's better than dying quiet on the jungle floor.

Every six months, I look back at my life and get angry. This hasn't changed, and it probably never will. All that's different is, I've learned to turn around, shout "gently caress you!", then ride on off into the future. yeah this is pretty direct and on the nose but it's delivered with considerable pizazz and self-deprecatory charm and I like Claudia (+ the floor! this summer! the buddy comedy that'll make you laugh, make you cry a little, maybe make you puke a little! FLOOR AND MUFFIN'S BACKBRAIN HIT THE ROAD II, GERMAN SWEARWAYS!!). It has a similar flaw to fanky's in that nothing much happens, but in its favour it does take the protagomuffin from one mental state to a slightly better one so there is THAT.

:siren:JUDGMENT:siren:

I liked both of these - they were clearly and engagingly written, with solid command of detail and an interesting take on age. However I have a niggling suspicion that there's not that much more to Fanky's than the clever idea, however cleanly and thoughtfully presented - while muffin's made me feel some empathy, plus: the floor.

MUFFIN WINS

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
:getout: Djinenzahn Brawljudgment :getout:

Erogenous Beef posted:

Write me a dramatic, thrilling story whose plot is driven by information asymmetry between the involved characters. You may shift POVs and employ multiple scenes to accomplish this.

For extra challenge, at one point in the story, a major character must brush their teeth, and this must be important.

Wordcount: 1500-2500 words.
Due: 7 June @ 23:59:59 CEST (GMT+2)

Don't make me want to shoot myself, mmkay?

One of you gave me a fractured fairytale about a daddy and a daughter reconciling. One of you gave me a half-cocked sci-fantasy chase after a shapeshifting monster.

The win on this is going to God over Djinn. Though in need of edits for pacing and characterization, Djinn told a more-complete story and employed information asymmetry to drive the conflict between scenes. Entenzahn loses both for murky, oft-passive prose and for a poor use of the prompt.

Both of you could use some work on longer-form story structure, but Djinn did much better here, with tension/problems building up over the course of the scenes. EZ's story was more-or-less flat and flaccid between the first and final scenes.

Full crits and dissections on Googledocs.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

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

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
in

Cache Cab
Feb 21, 2014
When Judas saved Jesus. 939 Words.

And the Lord spoke unto me: “Judas, you shall turn Him over, yet in doing so you shall give all men a path to forgiveness. You will be remembered as a betrayer, but you shall know in your heart that you do a righteous and selfless deed.” Yet when the time came, I could not betray my friend; I could not betray my brother...my Father. I bound him and took him far away, all the while he protested, saying he must die for the sins of all men. “Not all men,” I replied, “only the righteous shall be deemed worthy of forgiveness, and you are the most righteous man I’ve ever known. You cannot sacrifice yourself for others, Jesus, I shan’t allow it.”

In saving Jesus, I damned damned humanity and became the betrayer I so feared. Perhaps this was my fate. But God, in his mercy, opened a path--a true and existing path, not just a symbolic one--in the Levant. One needed only walk the full distance of the path to reach heaven. Yet this path...it was hell itself.


-Book of Judas, 21:36

#

Saint Lukowe peered through his looking glass, across hell and onto the gates of heaven. He looked not upon the demons flaying the skin of virgins, nor upon the mountains which made the great pyramids seem as anthills. Blurry figures, barely visible even through the powerful spyglass, stood regal at Heaven’s Gate. Scholars theorized they were the archangels themselves, yet Lukowe thought them mere statues.

Lukowe was not really a Saint, but when he told his band of brigands that he intended to walk the path, the name stuck. How could a thief walk through hell untempted? Lukowe knew; however, that the saints were anything but. Who was the Pope to canonize? Had he a link to God? No. There was one path to God, through this road and beyond those statues.

“I think I’m ready, Mahdi. Are you?”

“Uhh…”

“I won’t leave you until you’re ready to lead in my stead. I won’t have my men starving in my absence.”

“Yeah boss, but you’re going to go before the big job tonight?”

“If you can do it without me, you’ll have the men forever. You won’t truly be their leader if I name you as such, you’ll only lead them once you have proven yourself.”

“I understand...I’m ready.”

“Good, now help me prepare.”

#

Lukowe took his first step into hell. He had expected the heat would scorch his skin, that he would need to walk swiftly down this road lest he burn before reaching the gates; yet the heat felt like that of a full harem of women enveloping his body. He counted backward from ten as he walked forward, letting his excitement soften. A cacophony of orgasmic and carnal moans barraged his ears as he soldiered on. In the periphery of his vision, in hell’s alleys, he saw many-phallused men pleasing scores of women, and women equally gifted housing dozens of men all at once. He tried not to look, but his steps faltered, if only slightly.

“Stop here and you can join us. It’s no trick; hell is merely the absence of God, but there’s so much pleasure to be found in the sins of flesh,” a voice echoed around him. Lukowe knew--somehow, and with full certainty--that this voice spoke true; he could truly spend eternity in perverse embrace and ecstasy. He began to consider it.

He slapped himself in the face, shook his head, and looked straight forward. With his naked eyes the statues were not visible, but he imagined their holy image and moved forward.

The next temptation was luxury: mounds of solid gold lay just beyond the corpse pyramids, and beyond those sprawling palaces with lush gardens.

“Here, every man is a king. You killed and maimed for mere scraps in your old life, here you will be given all you long for. Even now, your men die for mere breadcrumbs.”

“What?” Lukowe said. He looked back toward Earth and raised his spyglass. From here he could see all of the city, as if it were a bloated bubble of light. In the bubble’s periphery he saw Mahdi leading his men toward a caravan. It seemed unguarded, which meant it was anything but.

“Send the scouts out, Mahdi…”

But he didn’t. Two flanks of bandits pressed forward; they passed the first wagons and moved toward the heart of the caravan. Then, from the front wagons, a company of guards poured forth, lead by a man thick with sinew, his shoulders like boulders. The guards charged into Mahdi’s men--into Lukowe’s men--as their leader guffawed with raucous laughter and spun his bronze spear.

Lukowe took another step, but away from the gate, toward his men.

A new voice boomed, “Lukowe, you’ve passed the greatest of the temptations! Turn back around, enter the Lord’s embrace.” It was the statues, but through his spyglass and from this distance he now could see: They were indeed angels, voices like silk and honey.

“My men…”

“Leave that toil behind, you will ascend.”

“But they’re my men!”

“Not all men are meant for retribution. You are! Come, Lukowe!”

“No,” Lukowe growled, and he turned his back on heaven.

Untarnished and unafraid, Lukowe passed through hell once again, this time toward Earth. With heaven and hell behind him, the mean streets of the city welcomed him back. He hoped only that he could reach his men in time to make a difference. Yes...some men were meant for retribution. His men.

Meeple
Dec 28, 2009
In

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.”
:siren: About four and a half hours left to enter. :siren:

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.”
(Also judge with meeeeeeeeee)

Edit: sorted.

docbeard fucked around with this message at 23:52 on Jun 13, 2014

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.”
Quote is so edit!

dmboogie
Oct 4, 2013

Please pretend that there is a clever in message here.

Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT
Grimey Drawer
In.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.”
:black101: Slightly more than two hours remain to sign up :black101:

(I got tired of sirens)

:siren: (No I didn't) :siren:

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*
Unfortunately due to wonky internet for most of this week and not knowing my schedule for the next few days, I'm out this week. But drat this was a good prompt.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.”
One hour remains to sign up.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.”
Tick tock. Five minutes to get in under the wire.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Oh, what the heck. In.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.”
:siren: Signups are closed. :siren:

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?
:siren: LIMITED TIME OFFER :siren:

Line crit a story from week 96 and open your post with the secret codephrase

Thank you, may I have another :)

to recieve a FREE LINE CRIT from me, Entenzahn, judge of Thunderdome week 96 in all his glory.

Offer expires when I start looking through the posts some time next week. Posts can be made in the farm or here. Don’t delay!

----------

TD XCVI - Where we're going we won't need plot

Ahhh, Thunderdome. The dome you love to hate. Time to pop open a bottle of absinthe, kick back in my comfy leather chair and try to think happy thoughts as I explain in the most rational of manners why I hated almost every second of my life for an entire week. SHALL WE BEGIN?

Clarity was an issue for some writers, so here’s a rule of thumb: before you enrich the world with another one of those awesome stories of yours, think up a three-sentence synopsis. If the second or last sentence starts with “It turns out that…” you may have a problem. I know everyone in this thread is a poetic genius and the world owes you appreciation, but the average reader has a boring life and television and if they don't understand the beginning of your story they might do something really stupid like *gasp* not read it. Don’t keep us in the dark until THE BIG REVEAL (Oh God all these random words make sense now AWESOME). Twists should advance the plot, not just make sense of it.

We had a lot of reactive protagonists this week. Stories usually are about characters and their conflicts and goals, and then the plot should also be driven by the actions of these characters. It’s okay to bring external forces and natural causes into play, but unless the prompt is “500 words on your summer vacation” please stop submitting entries where people take in the scenery and then something flies by and shits on their head and ROLL CREDITS

In flash fiction you need to get to the point ASAP, but many entries failed to make me care early on (or at all). Give me an interesting scenario/setting. Make me feel sympathy for the protagonist. Make me understand the conflict and feel the struggle. Do any one of these things and I won’t check my watch between every paragraph. Show me what’s at stake and make the stakes high enough for me to want to see the result. It’s not good enough to tell me that something is important for Johnny Protagonist. You have to make me feel it. It has to be important to me.

Be clear. Advance the plot through your characters. Appeal to my curiosity and emotions. None of this is set in stone. Stories have ignored some of this stuff and won. But if you don’t know what you’re doing (you don't and neither do I lol), you probably won’t.



STORIES I LIKED

Fumblemouse - I made it out of clay.
Synopsis: A Jewish girl is locked up by her abusive grandmother. In her isolation she discovers old golems of her mothers. She uses them to free herself of the shackles of grandmotherly tyranny.

The bad stepmother (granny) trope isn’t as fresh as it used to be, but it works for me and I root for Rachel early on. Then I also want to see what’s in the chest. Your description is solid and Rachel’s realization process flows nicely. Not a lot actually happens, but you carry me through.

I didn’t buy the part where the figures suddenly grow in size. I don't know if golems actually work like that, it just seemed weird. Also I’m not sure if the conflict counts as resolved at the end. Her grandmother flees the attic, so Rachel wins the battle, but what about the war?

I liked this enough to suggest it for an HM, but everyone else was lukewarm on it.



God Over Djinn - The Sadhu of East St. Louis
Synopsis: A father goes crazy from loneliness. He does the Nazi salute until someone beats the poo poo out of him. Then he remembers that his problems can be solved by a bus ride.

This is solid, but not great. It’s about the protagonist feeling separated from his son, but most of what actually happens is about him being weird and the world reacting to it. So this feels a lot like two separate stories slapped together, and they wouldn’t survive on their own but they don’t exactly make each other whole either.

Your excuse for him being unable to leave town comes too late and is super-thin. This is the only reason there’s conflict to begin with, so that’s a huge problem.

On the bright side, you manage to evoke my sympathy early on and the pacing is brisk all the way to the end. You’re a good writer and family drama is your strong suit, so it’s no surprise that I still came away liking this despite its shortcomings.



docbeard - Permafrost
Synopsis: Action girl and robofriend get trapped during an illegal subterranean excavation. The permafrost that locks them down is actually natural, and thus a great scientific find. They use the permafrost to deep-freeze the girl and escape.

The beginning throws a lot of exposition at me, except for the part that I should know, which is that the guy is a construct. After that it’s talking heads and to be honest, I like a little more action on my plate. That said you wrote great dialogue between interesting characters, and the exposition isn’t quite as bad here since it adds characterizaton and presents information relevant to the main dilemma.

The big selling point is how much this grows at you as you read, and reread it. It’s solid. It has a consistent voice and theme. Everything ties together. The conclusion is smart and you give us a short, touching speech at the end. Just an original, good, heartfelt story that makes clever use of all its assets.

Congratulations on the victory.



Sitting Here - For Love of a Mountain
Synopsis: A mountain is in love with a woman, who is already in love with another man. When the mountain finds out that the man cheats on her beloved, she kills him in a fit of rage. This prompts the woman to commit suicide.

Out of all the stories I ever judged, this is my favorite. Though I only judged elephant week before, so it’s not like the bar is set high or anything.

Still, a great twist on the old love triangle scenario that also works well on a symbolic level. I can relate to your mountain better than to some humans in other stories, because her feelings for Teshia are pure and genuine and she suffers from a very human condition: to be in love with someone utterly out of your reach, and to be unable to express these feelings to the person that matters.

The ending gets obvious just at the right moment. I was moved. Unfortunately for you, the aggregate opinion of docbeard’s story was higher. Congratulations on the HM.




STORIES I DIDN’T HATE

Whalley - Too Soon
Synopsis: There’s a weird place where skeletons slaughter people to come to live again. Baby skeleton happens upon a shortcut, but it doesn’t turn out well. He gets detention.

The opening is strong, but a story can’t live off a good idea alone. I feel like you didn’t know what to do with this. Initially there's some rivalry between two reaper schoolmates and yadda yadda bonesouls yadda yadda kill babies to come to life. And then stuff happens and suddenly there’s a magic teleporter to the real world and then the protagonist dies, but to him it’s like getting a slap on the wrist so nobody cares.

This was brought up for an HM but I didn’t think it was very engaging so I was one of the judges who nexted you.



Anomalous Blowout - What the Young Lady Learned

Synopsis: Battlemage stoner girl doesn’t want her military brass father to draft her. She sneaks on his battlefleet and sabotages it. It turns out she was high so the prank is a fuckup.

Your first scene is a problem. It isn’t bad, the banter is authentic and funny, the characters work, the idea is neat. But you spend so many words on the stoner comedy dialogue that you completely forget about the plot. Then you run out of space and close the curtain on us with a lame retroactive twist/epilogue exposition.

Cut the opening by half, be upfront about her being stoned and show me the consequences of her actions. You can still have a twist ending, but it should be an organic part of the story.



Kaishai – The Ocean’s Daughter
Synopsis: A crazy girl is too crazy for a crazy village so they send her on a suicide mission. She takes her dog. For a while she survives off rivers, cast aways and dog killings and… the end.

This is another one of those entries where where every other paragraph could start with “Dear Diary,”. You’re a skilled writer, and this doesn’t suck, but it’s not exciting.

The protagonist is an emotional non-entity. She doesn’t do anything interesting. She just holds on while the world throws obstacles at her and then it ends somewhere in the middle with her out at sea going “I guess I can draw a parallel between the ocean and me again, like with the other two things, also my dog died ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”.

Seriously, who takes their dog on a year-long boat trip through the ocean.



Phobia - The Fall of Cedric Conrad
Synopsis: Cedric has a drug problem. Then we learn why. Then he has a drug problem, but this time again.

This isn’t as much a story as it is a portrait. I mean, I get it. It’s a commentary on the cyclical nature of drug addiction and all that. It’s not bad. We get a sense of what’s wrong early on, the pacing is fast, the dilemma is human and relatable. I enjoyed myself through most of this.

But there’s no advancement to the plot. There’s flashbacks, i.e. poo poo that’s already been done, and there’s your frame-story, in which your character stumbles around aimlessly and nothing changes. I think you could have something here if you were more upfront about Ken’s accident and showed us Cedric get himself into trouble as he tries to cope with the news.



Echo Chian - Twilight Blue
Synopsis: A bird-obsessed man finds a new bird species and nurtures the last remaining hatchling. It is almost stolen and disappears in the process. Then it reappears with a boyfriend.

Didn't feel this. I think it's because Caleb isn’t relatable. I don’t know, I just can’t bring myself to root for him. Maybe it’s because his emotion never shows through. If you could show us his love for his birds, instead of just telling us, it would make him less of a blank slate for me. Like when he saves the babies from baddie bird, that’s a good part, but it’s too little too late.

All judges agreed that clunky prose is a problem, especially during action scenes. Take a look at this part.

quote:

On the roof, a dark figure bundled flashing moon-eyes in the enclosure's mesh. The bird thrashed, but was not yet full grown; the roof was already splattered with dark.

When there’s a knife fight happening it’s time to give us the facts.

Otherwise this was a complete story and a solid entry and I didn’t want to gouge my eyes out.



Bad Seafood - All Expenses Paid
Synopsis: Two dudes are carried by an angel. One of them has flashbacks. He asks the angel to kill him.

This is another one of those entries that survive on technical skill alone. Yes, your voice is good, the humor works, the setting is original, the characters are distinct and interesting. This has all the ingredients for a good story. I wish you would have written it.




STORIES

D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N. - The Elaboration
Synopsis: An artist goes crazy. Or a crazy guy does art? I actually have no idea.

Your beginning is seriously incomprehensible. It hurts a little to see this lose, because by God we had worse stuff in the past and I think you put effort into this. But ultimately clarity is one of your key missions as a writer. You don’t have to spell everything out, but if your story hinges on nebulous weirdness, it has to be about something else than puzzling the reader until the solution. It has to find a way to make us care. Throwing random poo poo at me does not pique my interest because I don’t care about your story by default, I care about it when you make me. To do that, you need to be clear and upfront about what’s at stake, and the stakes have to justify the emotional investment.



Obliterati - From the Mouths of Babes
Synopsis: There’s a thing who sucks at sheeping. It turns out to be a pig. It is tricked it into retirement.

Jesus Christ, will you please explain to me who some of this people are? For the better part of the story I wasn’t even sure if Anna was a dog, a pig or a human baby. Don’t be such a tease.

I mean it's an okay thing, the characters are authentic and it's not badly written, it's just so confusing at first and then it's so inoffensive and bland. Ending goes out on a whimper. Excuse me while I yawn theatrically.



Nikaer Drekin - To Commune with the Moon
Synopsis: A woman wants to talk to the moon. She meets a magic Indian, named Moon, who lets her talk to the moon, who is actually many moons. They bicker and then the woman and Moon go have some pancakes.

I’m reading this all the way to the end and I think it’s probably supposed to be a story about the deception of nature's beauty? Because you straight-up tell me through the woman’s closing monologue. Otherwise there is no focus on any particular element and it reads like the theme changes ten times over. I kinda expected this to put some weight on the woman and her question to the moon, but then it wasn't even brought up.

The whole dating thing at the end only happened because you realized they look like a couple on the cover when you proofread your entry.



systran - How I learned I Was Gay
Synopsis: A douchebag lifts weights. He lifts more than he can handle. Abra Cadabra - this is now a story about homosexuality P.S. LOL BONERS

I judge TD stories through the archive and when I do, I read the author’s name only after I’m done with the story. I knew you wanted to swap this, and I read the story, and I hated it and I was really surprised to see your name on the top of the page.

So to be honest I know you’re a good writer and I don’t know what this is. If it’s a joke, I don’t think it’s funny. If it’s supposed to be a serious piece, I think it’s kind of a joke. Are you pulling my leg here, funny man? Should I even crit this? I kinda wanted to DM this, but alas, the other judges saw something in your story that I didn’t, or maybe they didn’t want to play in your hands.

You know, whatever. At least you wrote something.



dmboogie - Nathan Reeve and the Mysterious Pyramid
Synopsis: Indiana Jones has joined the SCP squad. He explores a pyramid full of dead ends. Then someone tries to kill him, but he wins and goes home.

This is technically a story, but there’s so many dumb mistakes. You give us high-octane wall-feeling-and-dead-end-exploring-action in great detail and when it comes to the AWESOME DEATH TRAPS OF DOOM you just tell us they happened at some point. Seriously?

The ending was super weak. The sudden appearance of a rival didn’t thematically tie in with anything that had happened so far and the foreshadowing with the invisible ship wasn’t enough to not make the whole thing feel out of place. Plus, your conflict is introduced at so late a stage and then immediately resolved.



Gau - A Dog is for Life
Synopsis: It’s a dog story.

Wow, this has it all! Mundane-through-the-eyes-of-a-dog moments! A stuff-happens-doggie-follow plot! Even the owner-sleepy?-:(-much-sad ending!

This has been done a thousand times over, and better. “Owner dead, doggie sad” is the McDonalds of emotional story endings, and everything else in your entry is white noise. The dog just runs around behind his owner and looks at the green stuff.

I guess technically you accomplished what you set out to do, so this isn’t a failure or anything, but aim a little higher next time.



WeLandedOnTheMoon! - Trophy Hunting in El Paso
Synopsis: There’s wild animals all over the city, and some cowboy dude shoots at them, but he also shoots at the protagonist. And the protagonist kills the cowboy. And then a lion eats the protagonist.

I made a couple of notes to each entry and all yours essentially go “What the gently caress is going on”. It wasn’t quite as bad as with the loser story; we have a clear line of action, we have suspense, but it just seems so weird and random. I still don’t know what you’re talking about in the beginning or why anything in this story happens. Why are there animals everywhere? Why are there cowboys with sniper rifles? Why is the hunter shooting at the protagonist?

I also have “TENSE SHIFT!!!!!” written down, which means you hosed up your tenses somewhere. Happy hunting.



magnificent7 - THEM CREEPY rear end TREES.
Synopsis: Some dude is carried away by people running from giants. Then he’s an old man in a wheelchair. It turns out he has alzheimers.

This is basically a shorter, more action-packed version of D.O.G.O.B.Y.N.’s story. Your constant italicizing annoyed me but I have a serious hate-boner for formatting gimmicks so feel free to ignore this.



Blade_of_tyshalle - For Every Moment of Truth, There's Confusion in Life
Synopsis: A girl skypes with her parents. She confesses to being a cannibal. Wacky hijinks ensue.

At first I was going to write "by Tim Buckley" and move on, but you're a babby, so here's my opinion on your thing: it's talking heads, no plot, reads like a joke entry and isn't funny. Not offensively bad. Just bad. Welcome to Thunderdome, enjoy your stay.



Kalyco - Yellow Arrows
Synopsis: A girl crawls down a secret hole in her house. She meets another kid who leads her to magic dreamland. She goes back home.

NOTHING HAPPENS. Jesus, I feel like a broken record at this point. It fits well with the theme of discovery but unfortunately it doesn’t fit well with the whole thing where you’re supposed to write a story.

It already goes limp during the incessant banter between the two kids in the tunnel, which isn’t just confusing and unnatural but also way too long. But the final scene, where she’s in wonderland and it’s such a stunning place because look, it’s a different timezone WOOOOO, that whole part is such a letdown. Nothing is resolved, which is only natural because there wasn’t anything to resolve to begin with.



Schneider Heim - What My Aunt Left Me

Synopsis: A young woman inherits her aunt’s old chocolate pot. But then it’s a MAGIC POT that lets you speak with the dead. The aunt asks the woman to insult her mother, which she does.

So this is another one of those stories that take place in the real world and then suddenly something stupid and ordinary is an overpowered enchanted item. Okay, you know what, whatever. Fine.

What's there is nicely paced. The flashbacks are well done and make sense and as opposed to certain other people you have something resembling a coherent story. This is still not a good entry because it relies mostly on talking heads and your dialogue is super-hamfisted and your characters are unbelievable and annoying, and that's the first and last impression I get.




:toot: D I S Q U A L I F I E D :toot:

Iambeth - The Bodies in the Dumpster

This has a cool voice, but it’s such a non-story. Too much exposition and your protagonists don’t actually do anything.



Paladinus - O Rus!


Wow this was dumb and boring and your story ends when the actual conflict begins.



Grizzled Patriarch - The Apple Tree

Same as above, except your ending was also boring.



Drunk Nerds - Drawton

Good idea, fresh setting, but horribly incomplete story and a super-boring opening. Don’t waste so much time on mundane crap.



Chairchucker - BoatBoatBoatBoatBoat

*fart*

D.O.G.O.G.B.Y.N.
Dec 31, 2011

THUNDERDOME LOSER
Not gonna make it this time. Toxxing myself next time I'm in. (Echoing TB's praise - this was a really good prompt.)

CommissarMega
Nov 18, 2008
Scapegoat (1248 words)

“Do you know what you have just confessed to?” the man asked Benoit from across the table.

“I do,” the old farmer said, picking up the drink next to the stranger's gun.

“Why? You know what it would mean for you.”

“Because justice must be done, monsieur,” Benoit said with a short, bitter laugh.


* * *

“So, how are your chickens?” Lucien asked, barely visible behind the smoke. He and Benoit were the only men left at the card table, and Benoit knew the only reason he was there was because Lucien obviously had plans for him.

He never liked the ex-actor, what with his effete Parisian ways and expensive cigarettes. Worse, everyone else knew it too, which was why Lucien had invited him to play cards in the town's sole brothel, one the dandy owned and lavishly refurnished. “They're fine, Luc,” Benoit growled as he waved the smoke away, and gestured to the pile of tokens on the table. “Now, are you going to bet or not?”

Lucien smiled, tossing in a set of keys that took everyone's breath away- even Madame Francine audibly choked off a gasp. Benoit picked them up and threw them back. “Don't be stupid,” he said. “I already have a horse and cart, I don't need a car. Besides, everyone knows the Milice would just 'confiscate it for the war effort'.”

“Now, now,” Lucien said, waggling his finger. “That sort of talk might be considered treasonous.” he sneered at Benoit. “The walls have ears, you know.”

Benoit gave a noncommittal grunt. “It doesn't matter,” he said, peering at his cards. “So, are you going to raise, or not?”

Lucien made a show of considering his options, and then sighed theatrically. “Such confidence! My bluff has been called,” he said, laying a hand back-first across his forehead. “No choice- I shall fold,” he added, to several startled exclamations from the crowd. However, when a stunning young woman emerged from behind them to embrace the pouting Lucien, surprise turned to understanding. The impatient actor could certainly afford tonight's 'losses' to Benoit.

And so it was that Benoit walked out of the brothel that night, flush with money, and more importantly, plenty of ration cards- and a map. For unbeknownst to the crowd who had watched that night, the windfall was more than just his good fortune- it was a signal.

He got on his bicycle then, and rode it all the way back to his farm. As shabby as he looked, he didn't have to worry about being robbed, even at night. It was a strange thing, but the Vichy seemed to keep a tight lid on most criminal activity.

A cynical man might have pointed out that the reason for this was that many big-time criminals had joined the Milice, the secret police. An even more cynical man would have pointed out that the Milice weren't a French institution, but the Gestapo in different suits. Events had made Benoit a very cynical man indeed- and he knew that the war wasn't done with him yet.

When he reached his house, he wasted no time in going to his room and pulling out a revolver, a keepsake from the days when a proud, cocksure young miller's son fought the Germans, as proud as as any other Frenchman, as proud as France herself.

What happened to them all?

He shook his head. Right now, he had a deal to... 'honour'.

* * *

The sun was setting, and Benoit looked bemusedly at the now-full glass. “I didn't expect that,” he said, as the stranger pulled the bottle back.

The other man just shrugged. “It keeps you talking.”

“That it does,” Benoit said quietly, downing it all. “That it does.”


* * *

“You bastard! You utter bastard!” the man screamed at Benoit as he was taken away by the men in their dark blue uniforms, barely visible against their vehicles' lights. “You will burn in hell for this!”

The men laughed as they dragged him off. “Speak for yourself, Jew,” one of them said. “If he is in hell, it's only to make sure you got there!”

“Thank you, Monsieur Benoit!” the other said over his back. “You've done a great service to all of us!”

“Exactly!” Lucien said, emerging from behind the lights. His gait was graceful, as if he was back on Paris's most prestigious stages, instead of a backwater farm's muddy road. He didn't even break stride when the captive spat on him, nor did he stop when the Milice beat the Jew down. He only halted when he reached Benoit. “Such fine poultry!” he said, his arms spread out, as if to embrace the entire farm. “Shall we dine like this another time?”

Benoit glanced behind the actor. Blinded as they were by their cars' headlights and occupied by the struggles of their prisoner, the Milice would not have taken note of how closely Lucien stood to Benoit. They would have definitely not been able to notice the stricken, questioning look on Lucien's face, in complete contrast to the jaunty tones with which he spoke.

Benoit only shrugged, and nodded curtly. He was the only witness to Lucien's sigh of relief. “Very good! Very good!” he laughed, as genuinely as Benoit ever heard. “I have known some fine men, but you are the finest of all!”

Benoit just shook his head and walked back to his farm, while Lucien kept the Milice occupied with small talk and jokes. He went up to his room and turned off the lights, but kept an eye on the front of his farm until the lights went away, before going back to the attic where the sobbing could be heard.

A mother, two children- and empty space where the father had been. Benoit had a speech for these occasions, which Lucien had written and he memorized. Even as he gave them the ration cards and map, he told them about what a brave sacrifice their father made, about how this would keep the Milice away for a while and make it safer for other escapees. He never told anyone about how-

* * *

”Nobody broke,” he said into the night air.

“Hmmm?”

“None of the Jews who were taken away spoke of our deal, or ratted me out,” Benoit said, his eyes empty. “So many good people, dead- yet their murderer still lives. It's not fair.”

“Monsieur Benoit-”

“I have heard about people like you,” Benoit said, finally looking the man in the eyes. “Hunting Nazis and their collaborators, true? Bringing them to justice?”

“Yes, but-”

“Lucien gave away his fortune after the war,” Benoit said. “His brothel extracted information from the Milice. Madame Francine stored guns for the Resistance. All I did... was have a barn. And yet the courts are looking for them!”

He placed his outstretched arms on the table. “And Aaron shall place lots upon the two goats- one for the Lord, and one for Azazael,” he said quietly. “Leveticus. Dramatic, I know- Lucien's influence, perhaps.”

“Monsieur Benoit,” the stranger asked, a moment before he put the cuffs on. “I'm not sure the courts would approve of the deal you would have me make with you.”

“They'll listen to you,” Benoit said. “I know they will. Now please, hurry- I know of at least one man waiting to see me off.”

Meeple
Dec 28, 2009
Old Ways
1,250 words


Malcolm watched the flames with a frown on his face, the orange light cutting deep shadows across his brow. Sitting cross-legged on the rooftop beside him, Shauna rubbed her hands together in glee.

“Come to momma, you bastards,” she said. An unravelling braid of optical fibres ran across the concrete rooftop from the open service cabinet to the patch panel on her lap. From there a cable ran up to the jack embedded in her left forearm. “C’mon, c’mon…”

“I don’t be liking this,” said Malcom after a while. “There were better ways.”

“Not your ‘white hat’ bitchin’ again.” Shauna’s hands clutched impatiently at the air.

“Ain’t be what that meanin’, girl, and you know it.”

“Don’t care what you call it, old man, you and your ‘better ways’ is just bein’ scared of doing what needs done for the job. Ain’t what you’re here for, so shut yerself up and let me work.”

Across the street, the flames were crawling up the walls of the office block. There was a burst of staccato pops as the windows, one by one, cracked in the heat.

“‘Sides, I got ‘em,” she said, her voice rising. “Backup alarm in the server room finally tried to call for daddy.” Her hands flexed in mid-air, the visor over her left eye painting half her face with flickering light. “Got me instead.”

Malcolm watch silently.

“There,” she said eventually, pulling the cable from her arm. The visor went dark, letting the neon green sunburst of her retinal tattoo show through. “Got it, time to scram.” She stood, the mat of cables on her lap falling to the rooftop.

Shauna walked casually off to the fire escape. Behind her Malcolm lingered, watching the fire burn with his hands buried in his pockets.

---

“What the loving gently caress d’you go and do that for, you loving idiot?” Shauna shouted. “Calling in the fire? You want you should call the cops too, tell ‘em there’s been a data breach, maybe tell ‘em to come find us too?”

“You’d gone cut off the fire alarm,” Malcolm said calmly, leaning against the concrete wall of the tiny room. “Were the right thing to be done.”

“Bullshit! Time’s changed, old man, ain’t no place for your pussyin’ out any more.”

“There always be time an’ place for decency,” said Malcolm quietly.

“Like gently caress there is. You’re spoilt, you are, grew up when this poo poo was easy and never learned better. If you’d hosed up,” she jabbed a finger towards his chest, “when you were a kid you’d’ve gotten six months on a plea bargain. You gently caress up these days and they find your body a month later.”

She threw a memory chip at Malcolm’s feet, the rubberised casing bouncing off the floor. "There's the loving data, decrypt it and get the gently caress out of here so I don't have to put up with your bullshit any more."

"Feelin' be mutual, girl," Malcolm said. The chip slotted into a port on his arm and he closed his eyes, the world vanishing in a flash of static. Data scrolled past; he fed it to another piece of software armed with a stolen cache of encryption keys and opened his eyes.

"Data look okay," he said, blinking a few times to clear the afterimages. "Five minutes passin' and we know if it were what we needed."

"Good," Shauna said. She was leaning against the back wall now, arms folded, expression stormy behind the half-visor. Malcolm watched the reflected light of the visor as it played over her cheek, lines of text in miniature wrapped across her eye socket.

The silence was broken by a chime in Malcolm's ear. He closed his eyes again. "God were no merciful today," he said. "Data ain't being what we were there for."

He opened his eyes again to Shauna glaring down at him, fists clenched. "You're making GBS threads me," she said angrily. "Check again."

Malcolm shrugged. "Be what it is, no doubting. Keys check out, data's none but decoy."

"poo poo." She turned away, started pacing angrily up and down the small room. "We're hosed. Main data-centre's toast and Fukisha-Abrahams probably locked down their backups and offlined them as soon as they heard. poo poo," she repeated.

"We needs be finding the data or Johnson no be happy, friend or no," Malcolm said. "Said I be helping with the keys alone, but Johnson no be forgivin' me if we return empty-handed."

"Yeah, no fuckin' poo poo he won't be happy. Give me a week and I could find someone on the inside to break, or if this were a bigger job we'd be all in guns blazing and crack 'em from the inside. But no, I'm stuck with an old man with a fuckin' conscience and no time for plan B. loving hell." She slumped against the wall. "Best we can do is find Johnson tomorrow, pay penalty, take our lumps and pray he's in a generous mood. poo poo. Knew this was a bad job."

"You got no other ways that don't involve wetware or guns?" Malcolm sighed. "Always be a better way, should be knowing by now."

"Well if you think you know a better way, you can be my loving guest. Me, I'm off to go practice my best loving apologies and arse-licking face." She stormed out, slamming the steel door behind her.

---

“Be no worse sin in all creation than pride,” whispered Malcolm to himself as he crouched in the dark alleyway. He felt around inside the lock with the springy metal picks. “Be no escaping it neither.” A tremor ran up the pick to his fingers and the lock turned. He cracked the door open with painstaking slowness and slipped into the narrow corridor within.

A memorised map led him through a network of identical corridors and rooms until he reached a service panel, no different in appearance from any other. He slipped a cable loose from the ordered chaos behind the panel, wrapped the splice over it and pressed down. Sharp blades pierced the plastic coating, separated the wires within and clamped into place. He dropped the data-tap hanging from the other end of the splice into the cabinet and closed it up.

---

Slumped against the wall of the street opposite, Malcolm could've been any vagrant drifting away on vodka fumes. Under the hat, his eyes twitched behind his eyelids, and his fingers stuffed deep in his coat pockets danced.

Icons flashed in his vision as the data-tap called home, a bright beacon on a grey overlay of the surrounding data-space. Hovering nearby was a pulsing swarm of red, waiting hungrily. He let the virus loose.

Worms of red light spread through a dense forest of annotated trees. One by one the trees dimmed out as the red passed them, the code probing and failing to find its target. He turned off the visualisation, watching page after page of logs scroll past instead. The repeating patterns, fractionally varying every time, drifted past in a soothing wave.

He lost track of time. Finally the flow stopped, the lines ending at a blinking cursor, a filename. A twitch of his finger and the data started flowing. Switching focus, he backed the rest of the virus out, wiping trails behind him, leaving decoys in their place.

He opened his eyes and powered off. Hat pulled down low, he slouched off into the drizzle.

"Always be a way, got you the eyes to see it," he said to air.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?
The Bottom Line
881 words

Jackie Gryle counted the remains of his herd. Ten cows. Twice as many dead. He inclined his head, shading his eyes with his hat, and sighed.

“This is a disaster,” Lizbeth said. “We can’t afford to replace them.”

“I’ll find a way,” Jackie said and turned his horse around.

“We have to close the ranch.”

“I’ll find a way.”

#

“Back in?” Carter said.

“Something came up. I need the money,” Jackie said.

“Whatever happened to honest work?” Carter smiled through his thick, crusted beard, leaned back and put his feet up on the table.

“No can do. Face plastered all over every decent city from here to Blood Valley. Kinda hard to find a gig like that.”

“Mhhh… true that. Tell you what, I may have something for you. Good old-fashioned train job. Safei in the back. You're on, for old times’ sake. Never say I didn’t do anything for you.”

#

“Don’t worry Ma’m, we just want the money. Nothing will happen to you,” Jackie said, and kept his revolver pointed towards the shaking ceiling of the wagon, away from the old woman’s face. Her eyes darted around between his grimy face and the barrel of his gun in the rapidfire rhythm of her breath.

“Just whack the bat,” Carter’s gruff voice shouted behind him.

“No killing,” Jackie said. He swept his gaze over the passengers. He put the gun back in its holster. He reached for the old lady’s handbag, waited for her to let go of it, mumbled an honest ‘Sorry.’ and rummaged through it. He took her cash.

A muffled scream and the sound of two gunshots burst through the door to the next wagon. Jackie winced. More people screamed, some in Jackie’s wagon. A little girl began to cry.

“drat right. That’s what I’m talking about,” Carter said behind him, and spat.

“Shut the hell up,” Jackie said and moved on to the next passenger. It was a woman with a wide top-hat. She whispered to the crying child.

“Ma’m, would you please--”

She raised her head and Jackie stopped when he saw the face.

“Liz…” he said.

Her face was that of someone facing an oncoming train, but with dignity. Her chin was raised, her disapproving frown defiant.

“Goddangit Jackie, you brought your wife to a train robbery.” Carter put the rifle on the ground butt first and bowed to the side, whispering to a frightened passenger: “This guy knows how to party.”

“Liz, what are you doing here?”

“We wanted to visit you at work.”

We. Jackie didn’t look at the crying girl.

“This is the only job I can do,” he said. “People are looking for me.”

“Look,” Carter said, “we’re on kind of a schedule, can you please rob your family and move the gently caress on.”

Liz just stared at him. Jackie went to the door to the next wagon. He pulled it open, but Carter slammed it shut again, pressing the rifle and his fat hand against it. Jackie could taste the booze Carter had been drinking this morning.

“The hell you think you’re doing,” Carter said.

“This is peanuts. Your said there’d be a safe in the back. We crack the thing and bail. Stop wasting time.”

“You think you can just--” Carter said and had a revolver jammed up his nostril. He raised his hands and stepped aside.

In the next wagon the other two bandits lay on the floor, bleeding out, twitching, still clutching their guns. Three men stood over them, each with a rifle in his hands. They wore cheap, dusted leather and had dynamite and bullets on their belts and markings on their rifles. The seats next to them were empty.

“You guys are headhunters,” Jackie said.

They raised their guns.

“How the gently caress did you know--”

“There is no safe,” Carter said from behind. “You’re today’s cash cow.” He walked past Jackie. “500 bucks dead. 1.000 alive. And as for peanuts…” He spat on the ground where the other two outlaws were dying. Carter stood next to the headhunters, raised a finger and gently pushed the barrel of a rifle out of the way.

It snapped back in place and blew his head off.

“200 dead or alive, this one,” the headhunter in the middle said.

“1.500 all in all,” the headhunter on the right said.

“Not bad,” the one on the left said.

“That’s 500 for each,” Jackie said. “Or 1.500 for one.”

The headhunters eyed each other for a moment. Jackie didn’t need more than that to fire a bullet into the dynamite stick on the guy on the right. The explosion tore the man to shreds, flicked the other two through the air and ripped the wagon apart. The shaking vessel derailed, toppled over, splintered into dust and rocks, dragging the other wagon behind it. Bodies flew. The ground rushed up to Jackie.

#

Jackie Gryle was blinded by the burning sun. He tried to turn, but every bone in his body was broken, or felt like it. He could still turn his head. The wreckage was a loving mess.

Jackie counted the survivors. He was still alive. One survivor. Lizbeth Gryle, dead. Annabelle Gryle, dead. Handful other people, dead.

Jackie leaned his head back and stared into the sun.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!





Word Count: 812

Small Town Justice

My hands trembled as I aimed the gun at Christian.

“You don’t have to do this man. You want money? I can give you some cash. Just, just, don’t shot, alright,” Christian said.

“I don’t want any of your money.”

“Then, what do you want?”

“I want to see you get what you deserve.” I shouted.

Christian collapsed to the floor. “Please, please don’t kill me.”

“Get up you piece of poo poo.” I said.

Christian scrambled to his feet. “So… So you’re not going to shot me.”

“I never said that. Just, have some dignity, won’t you?”

“Please, just don’t shot me. I’ll give you anything. Just don’t kill me.”

“Stop talking!”

“What the gently caress is wrong with you?” Christian whispered. “I didn’t do anything to you.”

“You ruined my sister’s life.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Caroline, you piece of poo poo.”

Christian’s eyes expanded and his body began shaking. “Dude, just, just, this isn’t right. Killing me won’t change anything.”

“Shut up!”

Christian screamed and collapsed to the floor as the door was kicked in. Footsteps pounded against the floor as I lowered the pistol.

“Place the gun down on the floor!” a voice yelled behind me.

“Officers, this kid, Christian Vermontz, raped my sister. His father, the chief of police, purposefully hid all evidence that incriminated him.” I said as calmly as I could. “I’m willing to go with you officers, if you promise me there will be a real investigation.”

“Of course, now just put down the gun and walk away.” The voice said. I looked into Christian’s eyes and gave him a grin. Christian stood there as the officers poured into the room and surrounded us.

I felt the cuffs bound my hands together while an officer walked over to Christian. The officer tied up Christian and he broke out of his daze.

“What the gently caress are you doing? You’re going to believe this lunatic! He points a gun at me, and you’re just going to listen to him! Do you even know who my dad is?” Christian shouted.

“Calm down, Christian. I’m sure this is all some kind of big misunderstanding. We’ll get this all sorted out, I promise. You’re a good kid and you’re dad’s a good cop. Just come with us down to the station.” The officer said as Christian struggled in his chains.

I was moved outside of the house to hundreds of cameras pointed at me. Reporters rushed to me with microphones in hand and surrounded us. The officer pushed me through the crowd.

#

Caroline sat behind the glass window and her eyes meet mine. I sat down and she opened her mouth as if to talk, but no words came out.

“So, how’d the trial go?” I asked.

“He…” Caroline paused, “He got off free.”

I stood up and slammed my fist on the table. “What! How the gently caress did he get off!” I shouted.

I looked behind me and saw the warden walk towards me. I sat back down and hoped the warden wouldn’t come to me. A lot of the wardens knew Alfred and didn’t like what I did to them.

“Is everything alright?” Caroline asked.

“Yeah, yeah.” I said. “Anyways, what the hell happened?”

“He’s got connections. His dad’s got a lot of money and he got a good lawyer. That’s just how these things go sometimes.”

“Of course.”

“But it’s not all bad. The news were all over it like flies on poo poo. People are calling for the chief to step down and everyone knows what Christian did. How the hell did they even know you were going to do that?”

“I put in a few calls. Happy to see that it actually led to something.” I smiled.

“You’re an idiot, you know that?” She said.

“Yeah. I know.”

Caroline smiled for the first time in a long time.

“Well, I’m sorry.” She said.

“For what? This wasn’t your fault. You can’t blame yourself for what other people did.”

“No, not, not for that. For letting you go and do something stupid. I should’ve known you’d do something rash like that”

“Even if you told me not to, I’d do it anyways.”

Caroline looked down, trying to hide her tears. “It’s just. Ten years.”

“Caroline, its ok. It’ll probably be more like seven anyways. The wardens love me.”

“Still, that’s a long time without you.”

“You’ll do fine. You’re strong.”

The warden shouted behind me. “Get up, time’s up.”

“Thanks Joey. For sticking up for me when no one else would.” Caroline said.

I put my hand on the glass. “I love you Caroline.” She put her hand on top of mine. “I’ll see you soon. I promise.”

I smiled as the warden grabbed my jumpsuit and pulled me up. I looked back at Caroline sobbing and I almost let a tear fall from my eyes.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.”
:siren: About three and a half hours remain to submit :siren:

(Assuming the forums last that long)

God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards
Sarah, Underwater (1240 words)

Caroline Frazier's got legs the color of sweet tea. She does a perfect backstroke past the water-volleyball court, hair floating around her like a cloud of ink.

Sarah sits alone on the dock, wrapped up like a shaman in a Mickey Mouse beach towel. The counselors believed her when she said her mom forgot to pack sunscreen today. She's ginger-haired and pale, and she's already had a half dozen blistering sunburns.

Caroline might remember Sarah's name, if you showed her a picture.

Sarah can doggy-paddle the whole way across the shallow end at home, but as soon as she can't touch the bottom with a toe, she starts to panic. She stayed up half the night, imagining Caroline watching her flail. Her tube of SPF 75 sunscreen sits at the bottom of her tote bag, wrapped in a spare shirt. Today is swimming-lessons day, and the only two people who aren't learning anything are Caroline and her.

Caroline backstrokes past her, eyes closed, face pointed up to the sun. Sweat and lakewater bead on her forehead.

At first, Sarah wanted to be her friend. Who wouldn't? Even the counselors let Caroline sit at their lunch table. At age nine, Caroline can skip rope a hundred times without falling.

Caroline's got half a dozen friendship bracelets that she never takes off, even while she's swimming. They're faded and ragged from sunlight. On the first day of camp, Sarah wove her another one, in purple to match the flowered headband she always wears. Sarah asked if she'd wear it and Caroline said sure. On Monday she wasn't wearing the bracelet. Sarah asked why, and Caroline said that she'd lost it.

Sarah doesn't know the words to explain this yet, but all she wants in this world is a chance to be good, and all her fears and agonies come from the fact that she can't. Once she saw three girls her age on Oprah who'd made ten thousand dollars for cancer research by selling lemonade. She asked her mom if she could start a lemonade stand, but all they had was three half-rotten oranges and a packet of Tang, and nobody ever drove through their neighborhood anyways.

On the second day of camp the power went out at Caroline's house. Sarah begged her mom to let her invite Caroline to stay over, but when she asked the next day, Caroline said No, that's okay.

I was trying to be nice, said Sarah.

Thanks. Caroline smiled, white teeth in a tanned face.

That wasn't quite enough to make her hate Caroline. She wasn't an easy person to hate: even now, sitting on the dock while everyone else bobs and splashes and shouts, Sarah isn't sure whether she wants to kill Caroline or be her.

A short list of things that Sarah would do, if only she could: teaching children to read. Starting a canned food drive. Volunteering at the animal shelter. Helping a friend in need.

On the third day of camp, Sarah went to the bathroom alone. When she opened the door she heard snuffling and gulping. There was a girl in there with the lights off, crying. Not Caroline, but someone else, with Roxy sandals and nails painted cotton-candy pink.

Sarah sometimes wishes that her mom'll get cancer and almost-but-not-quite die, so she'll get to be tough and useful and resilient and all the other things she already knows that she is. When she heard crying, she thought: I can be a shoulder for you to cry on.

So she sat down on the bathroom counter, feet swinging. She imagined Roxy Flip-Flops sharing whatever terrible secret had her sobbing like that. But when Sarah asked what was wrong, Roxy told her to go away and leave her alone. Fine, Sarah said. I was just trying to help.

Then the door swung open and the fluorescents flipped on. The bathroom looked small and dingy and much less mysterious. Sarah blinked.

How come you're sitting here with the lights off? said Caroline Frazier. Then she heard Roxy sniff. Oh, baby, she said, are you okay? Can I come in?

There was a thunk and the stall door swung open, and Caroline stepped in, and Sarah saw the other girl red-eyed and glaring, sitting on the toilet tank. There was nothing for Sarah to do but leave.

Ten minutes later Caroline came back onto the playground with the still red-eyed girl, arms wrapped around each others' waists.

Sarah couldn't tell anyone how much this made her hate Caroline. Even at nine she knew that hating someone for being kind was just about the nastiest and most unkind thing that a person could do.

Caroline passes the dock. She's starting to look strained, Sarah notices, and Sarah follows her with her eyes but not her head, tendons feeling strained to snapping. Who glances their way? Nobody. When Sarah refused to learn, she was no longer an object of interest to the ponytailed tennis-playing girl-counselors who are teaching everyone else the butterfly.

Are you okay? says Sarah quietly, but Caroline doesn't hear her.

Now Caroline begins to truly flounder.

In the sweaty darkness under Sarah's towel, something cold and nervous bubbles its way up her throat.

Twenty feet past the dock, Caroline rolls onto her belly and gives a few fumbling breaststrokes, hands slapping the water.

Sarah watches. She can't swim when she can't touch the bottom, and the lake must be ten feet deep. She could call a counselor over, could stand and wave her arms and get one of those ponytailed teenagers to swim over in a brisk efficient crawl and pull Caroline out of the water. Yet when she thinks about that, she thinks about Caroline coming into that dark bathroom and turning the lights on, and doing a good deed that she couldn't.

Hey, shouts Caroline, as she sinks in the water up to her shoulders then up to her mouth. Hey, she calls, and it's almost lost in the other campers' babble, my leg. She splashes and churns the surface, takes a big gulping breath, and goes under.

Sarah stands up, and the towel falls around her bare pale feet. She plugs her nose with one hand, and falls into the water.

Caroline bobs and sinks like a toy ahead of her.

Sarah feels the grip of the water like a fist clutching her heart. Her hands beat the surface to either side of her like frightened animals. She takes a breath that's half spray. Then, pushing forwards, she takes another that's half sunlight and half lakewater. She gags.

As one foot touches the loamy bottom, her hand finds purchase on the strap of Caroline's swimsuit. Then something grabs them both, hard, from behind.

Her chin is in the crook of someone's strong and sunburnt arm. The counselor the arm belongs to is dragging her back to shore, and strung out behind her is Caroline, who's gasping and flapping her arms. Her silky dark hair is mussed and tangled. Sarah's holding onto her swimsuit so tightly she can't feel her fingers. Like this, they're towed back to shore.

Lying in a bassinet of sand, Caroline recovers the ability to speak first. Thanks, she says.

No big deal, Sarah replies, hands shaking.

Tomorrow, Sarah thinks, spitting a mouthful of fishy water into the sand, tomorrow she'll start doing swimming lessons.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010
Oh look, I got through.

I mentioned this in Kyrena but I figure I'll flagellate myself publically about it as well

Our school has a shortage of teachers right now. We had a new girl show up last week, fumble around a bit, then suddenly stop showing up again. She hasn't called to say she doesn't want the job any more and nobody can seem to get in touch with her. This has completely hosed the system since we'd already integrated her into the timetable and now I've got SUBSTITUTE CLASS SUBSTITUTE CLASS SUBSTITUTE CLASS and my normal writing time is completely blocked out.

I'm requesting a 12-hour extension, so I can get home and knock something together after work tonight. I will take on a mandatory flash-rule if it pleases the judges.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand towards the city. “Slander those who tell it ye. Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse. And abide the end.”
:siren: Fortunately for you, and this might be a bit of an overreaction, but because of the general state of the forums at the moment, I'm extending the submission deadline until 4 PM CST tomorrow. :siren:

Muffin, for the sin of making me think of a flash rule, your flash rule is: An unavoidable schedule conflict must play an important role in your story. (Okay, so I didn't have to think very hard.)

Nethilia
Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition


Sundown Towns
(1248)

http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=2255&title=Sundown+Towns

Nethilia fucked around with this message at 08:31 on Dec 4, 2014

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly

Making the Grade
1250 Words

Maggie wasn’t one to drag her feet when given a job, but it was Prom Friday, and she was graduating on Sunday, and her counselor had just confirmed that she was to be the valedictorian. So she walked a little slower than her usual pace, calling it a victory lap. Yes, it was all as official as the note she was tasked with delivering. It was printed on goldenrod paper, which meant that it came directly from Principal Clemons herself, and if it weren’t for that fact, she could have balled that note up right there, tied it up with string, and hung it from her neck like the medal she would receive on Sunday. Every valedictorian received one. But of course, this note was far too important to destroy, as it was directed to Mrs. Wilhelm, the remedial Algebra Two teacher. Plus, Maggie took her job as an office helper quite seriously. She had her reputation to uphold.  
 
                “poo poo,” Mrs. Wilhelm muttered after opening the note. “Maggie, watch my class for a minute while I deal with this. They’re taking their final. It’ll be fine. Anything happens, just tell me when I get back, okay?” Maggie always did what her teachers asked.
 
                Maggie had never been in a class like this before. In every class that she had been in, Maggie had to fight for every bonus point and quiz score, and she had to fend off twenty others nipping at her heels in the process. If she were with her friend Olive, she’d have called this group a “dumb class,” but she wasn’t with Olive, and she’d never say something so dreadful in public. Maggie scanned the room, examining the downturned, concentrating faces. She’d seen them before, remorseless faces sitting outside of the principal’s office, but they weren’t faces she knew.
 
                “Where’d Wilhelm go?” a greasy haired child asked as the door closed with a creak and a bang. He had thick glasses and wore an oversized, hooded sweatshirt.
 
                “She’ll be back,” Maggie said. She wandered to the front of the room and hesitated, trying to decide where she belonged. Should she sit in a desk? After a moment, Maggie slid into the high-backed chair behind the teacher’s desk, wishing she had a teacher’s authority. Moments later, she saw greasy hair lean over and whisper into his neighbor’s ear.
 
                “You can’t do that,” she called. Maggie had always hated cheaters trying to steal her hard work.
 
                “Well, excuse me,” he said. “I didn’t know you were my teacher now.”
 
                “I’m not,” Maggie said.
 
                “Oh! You aren’t? So why don’t you just shut up and stay over there.”
 
                A girl with auburn hair and violet lipstick looked up from the examination. “Chill, Steve. Maggie’s cool. Right?”
 
                Maggie nodded. Out of all of the terms she had ever heard used to describe her, smart, gifted, zealous, authentic, she’d never heard that one before. Cool. Only her one true friend Olive had called her “cool” before, like when Maggie would bust out her older sister’s Backstreet Boys discography for a jam session between calculus study sessions. Even then, it was used self-effacingly; they both understood their stations, and cool was descriptor that neither of them deserved. Violet was a cool girl, Maggie could just look at her and tell, after all, that’s how cool works. Maggie knew Violet was cool without even knowing her name, and yet Violet knew hers.
 
                “Please,” the girl said when Maggie asked, “your name is called over the announcements so much that I’m surprised they don’t tell us what kind of cereal you eat for breakfast each morning.” It was true. Maggie had been honored by the principal no less than 10 times throughout the year, more than any other student. Maggie counted. Violet continued, “Someone as famous as you must be going to prom with somebody really cute, right? Who are you going with again?”
 
                In the back of the room, a tall kid walked to the open window, removed a multicolored glass pipe and a lighter, and took a hit from it.
 
                “Hey man, put that away, alright?” Maggie asked with dwindling authority.
 
                “What are you going to do?” he challenged between hits and coughs, “snitch on me?”
 
                Maggie didn’t want to get anyone in trouble, but she didn’t want to get into trouble herself. What would happen if Wilhelm came in? The kid in the back flipped his ashes out the window before starting to pack another bowl. Maggie looked at the door. She could be back any moment. Maggie turned to Violet, who hadn’t looked backwards even once during the whole encounter, but instead simply watched her.
 
                “Can you help please?”
 
                Violet looked back. “With Ed? Sure. Provided you answer my question.”
 
                Maggie could hear footsteps in the hallway. “What was the question again?” They were outside the door now.
 
                “Prom date,” Violet said.
 
                “I am going with some friends.” She said.
 
                “Some friends? I never really see you with anyone,” Violet began tapping her pencil, “just that one girl.”
 
                “Olive, yeah,” Maggie said, “We’re going together.” Violet cocked an eyebrow. “I mean, I’m going with her.” In the back, Ed was taking another hit and Steve was cheating again. Sweat rolled down the inside of Maggie’s arm. “As friends. Not like that.” The footsteps continued past the door.
 
                “Like what?” Violet asked with a wink.
 
                “You know.”
 
                Of course Violet knew. “Ed,” she shouted, “If you don’t sit the gently caress down and put that bowl away before Wilhelm gets back, I swear to god that I’ll smash your windshield in with a cinder block! Or maybe I’ll stop selling to you altogether.”
 
                “Whatever,” he said as he found his seat. “You ain’t the only person I buy from.”
 
                “So Maggie, why don’t you come to prom with my group. There’ll be a couple of guys. Couple of girls. Should be fun.”
 
                The girl sitting next to Violet looked up from the test. “Can you please be quiet? I need to pass this to graduate.”
 
                “So do I,” Violet said, “but I’m not crying about it.”
 
                “She’s right,” Maggie said, “you should focus.”
 
                “You should ditch Olive and come with us.”
 
                Throughout her high school career, Maggie had mastered every academic domain. Did she have time for one more? This was an opportunity to learn what it meant to be cool, if only for a night. Olive was her closest friend, but Maggie was willing to sacrifice in order to learn all she could. She’d done it for four years.
 
                Maggie was about to answer when the bell rang.
 
                The kids left the room one by one, placing their exams on the desk. Violet was the last one.
 
                “Think about it,” Violet said while plunking her exam on desk before leaving. She had written her phone number on a tattered and crinkled sheet of paper using purple ink. Maggie picked up the note, folding it carefully, and slid it into her pocket. Maggie looked at the test. Her name was Bridgette, and she was terrible at math.
 
                Maggie picked up a pencil, and traced around the numbers in Bridgette’s first solution. She changed a five into a six, and it was correct. Seconds later, after alternating between eraser and tip, Bridgette had passed, and after a few more strokes, with an A. As Maggie walked back to the office, she knew she’d see Bridgette again at graduation, but Maggie also had the feeling she’d be seeing her much sooner. Olive would understand.
 

BrilliantFool
Jan 23, 2007

Bravo.
The Whisperers, 688 words

He was going to see her for the last time.
"The old mute is dying," they whispered from the shadows in the lamp-lit streets.
"She's finally breathing her last, is she? About time."
Not again, he thought, fighting the urge to sigh. He would have glared at them, but the dark street's cobbles were dangerously slick with rain, threatening to trip the unwary. Instead, he scowled at the ground.

"The doctors said nothing was wrong back then, and yet..."
"Ever since the accident..."
"Psychological problems?"

"Would you lay off already?", he shouted back. The nearest ones cringed back at his remonstrance, shock stealing their voices, but he didn't notice. He was already walking past them, past still other gossipers hidden in the shadows. He noticed they'd chosen a different target to heckle, but didn't react.

He remembered the previous time he had walked these streets at night. He had already been angry at something- he forgot exactly what- and the vicious remarks of the rumormongers hadn’t helped cool his temper. At some point, he had lost all patience with the seemingly omnipresent observers. Irritation drove him to confront them directly- but the shadowy figure he dragged from the crowd had been unexpectedly difficult to vent his anger on.

A child, only as tall as his knee. She had to look up a long way to stare into his eyes and ask,
“Will she die tonight? Good riddance.”
He had still been gripping the collar of her shirt when a well-dressed woman separated herself from the shadows and possessively dragged the child back.
“Don’t touch her, you…!”

When he finally shook the memories from his mind, he found he had reached his destination. A lamp shone above the old wooden door, chasing away the darkness as he entered the aged building.

“Grandmother, I’m here,” he called, tugging off his shoes. The dining room was brightly lit despite its seeming lack of occupants, causing him to squint as he made his way through the house.

She was resting in her bed. He sat down in the chair next to her, trying to ignore how thin she had become.
“Grandmother?”
She smiled up at him weakly.
“Will you talk to me today?”
She shook her head slowly, and picked up the notepad she used to communicate.
“You still won’t talk to me?” He was pleading, he knew, but he had tried everything else. “I love the sound of your voice… or at least… I used to, back when I remembered what it sounded like.” Tears blurred his vision, making the words she had scribbled on the notepad more difficult to read from where he sat.

Grandson, I’m sorry. I simply don’t want to hurt you...

“What do you mean…?”

Child, words are not a tool, they are a weapon. Words spoken carelessly can injure someone far more deeply than knives, and even the darkest shadows cannot give shelter from the damage they may cause.

She stopped writing for a moment, clearly troubled.

Even now, perhaps I am shaping you with my words. I can only hope they shape you well. God knows I’ve thought about them enough.

I won’t ask you to follow my example- I had my reasons for keeping silence, reasons that you do not have, and I am sure there are many things that you will need to say in your lifetime.

But I will tell you this. Rash words have caused me more heartache than anything I have ever had to endure as a mute.


He grasped her free hand tightly, earning a sad smile.

Love others, child, love them with your actions and your words- perhaps you will make bad choices even as you love them, but let them be thoughtful choices. Then, only then, will you never have regrets.

“What about you, Grandmother?” She was coughing, wheezing, and he could almost hear the life draining from her.

“Do you have no regrets? About keeping silent?”

She set down her notepad and whispered her victory with the last of her breath,

“Yes.”

Jick Magger
Dec 27, 2005
Grimey Drawer
The Mirage, 1155 words


“I’m hungry, papa.”

Hector stopped walking, and turned to look to look at his young son, trailing just behind him. Neither had spoken a word since before dawn. They’d traveled fifteen miles, according to the markers, and not a single car had passed. The sun was now nearly overhead, and the road had begun to shimmer in the distance.

“Can we stop?”

They found an empty patch just off the shoulder of the road. Hector draped a blanket between two shrubs to create some shade, and, with a short wooden plank, dug away the top few inches of dirt, revealing the cool earth underneath. Miguel hastily emptied their bag onto the ground, looking for whatever bits of food may be left. There was not much to speak of: a small flashlight, a second blanket, a picture of his mother, a few bottles of water, a piece of bread, and two apples that Hector had managed to steal the night before.

“How much further to aunt Rosa’s?” Miguel absently asked, in between bites.

“We’re almost to the border,” said Hector.

“But then how far?”

“I don’t know. But once we’re at the border, they’ll help us get to aunt Rosa’s house.”

“Who?”

“The Americans.”

Miguel looked down at the photo in his hand. “Will mama be there?”

Hector placed his hand on Miguel’s back, gently pulled the photo from his hands and placed it into Miguel’s pocket. “Why don’t you lay down for bit? You must be tired.”



A truck came by, slowly pulling to the shoulder just in front of them. The high-pitched squeal of the brakes bolted Hector awake. He jerked upright, eyes wide, cursing himself for falling asleep. He glanced around their makeshift tent; their few possessions still remained, and Miguel was still fast asleep. As he stood up, he ran his hands over his pockets, feeling the pocket knife and small matchbox. Cautiously, he approached the blue pickup. The driver seemed to be alone. He was older, fat, pale, with a small dip stain down the side of his beard. He and Hector shared the same look of suspicion: is this man gonna gently caress me?

“Hablah, English?” The man yelled, slowly and patronizingly out the window.

“How far are we?” asked Hector.

The old man chuckled, “What the hell kind of accent is that? What are you, boy, Colombian or something?”

“Guatemalan.”

“Oh,” he grunted, spitting into a cup. “You’re still pretty far out, about a hundred miles or so. That’d be quite a walk. I’m headed back across the border myself, I could drop you off closer. That is, of course, if we can work something out.”

Hector’s silence prompted the man to clarify, “I ain’t no loving charity, boy. But I’m not a smuggler neither. I can get you close to the border, but you’ll have to find your own way over. And I’m not gonna do it for free.”

Hector looked back at Miguel, who was now sitting up, watching his father with curiosity. “Do you have any food?”

The man look at Miguel, then back, and nodded.

They quickly packed their bag and got into the stranger’s truck. From a small cooler beneath his seat, the old man, feigning a smile, handed Miguel a half of a sandwich. Hector started to introduce himself, but the old man stopped him, shaking his head, “It’s best if we don’t.”

A moment passed in awkward silence before Hector realized why they weren’t yet driving. Slowly, he reached into his pocket, pulled out the matchbox, and handed it to the man. He opened it slightly, revealing a thin, simple woman’s wedding band, then dropped it into his breast pocket.


Nobody spoke until they neared the border. Without warning, the truck pulled off the road and screeched to a stop. “This is it,” the man said. “It’s about three miles. Follow the road, but don’t keep too near it. I’d wait until it’s dark to try to cross.”

“Thank you,” said Hector, as he and Miguel climbed out of the truck.

“Good luck.” The man sped off.



The sun was already starting to set, as the two made their way towards the border. Their pace gradually slowed, becoming more cautious and purposeful. The sun disappeared, leaving only twilight to help guide them. The border came sooner than Hector had expected. It was just as another traveler had once described it, an ugly, corrugated steel wall, jutting from the ground about ten feet into the air. Too tall for Miguel to climb. They followed along the wall until they spotted a small opening along the bottom of the fence. Hector pulled the plank from his bag and began digging, widening the hole until it was just large enough for the two to squeeze through.

Once on the other side, Hector paused, fighting his urge to run. The moon was nothing but a small sliver hanging in the sky, he struggled to make out his surroundings. Far in the distance, he could see flashlights sweeping back and forth. Only when it looked like the lights had passed, did he allow them to move. They stayed low to the ground, moving swiftly and quietly between bushes, pausing frequently to listen. They could hear voices, carried by the wind, but couldn’t make out their direction. Hector pulled the knife from his pocket.

“Papa,” Miguel whispered, a quiver of fear in his voice. Hector strained to make out his son in the darkness. As he reached out his hand, feeling for his son’s, he was blinded by a sudden burst of flashlight. Miguel screamed, as he was pulled out from their hiding spot. Hector jumped out, still blinded by the light, yelling and swinging his pocket knife at the two silhouettes before him.

A single shot was fired, catching Hector just left of the center of his chest. Another flashlight came on, watching him as he fell to the ground.

“God dammit, put that gun away,” the first border patrolman said, holding Miguel by the wrist. Miguel fought, screaming, trying to free himself, but the patrolman pulled him away, out of sight of his father. Letting out a string of expletives, the second one crouched near Hector. He placed his hands over the wound, trying to stop the blood, but it was no use. “gently caress, man, he’s dead.”

“Check him for ID,” said the first, and then, kneeling down in front of Miguel, “What about you, little man? You got any ID? Identificación?”

Miguel just stared absently at his father’s feet, his mind still trying to process the scene in front of him.

The patrolman sighed, and checked Miguel’s pockets. He pulled out the photo of his mother and flipped it over to find an American address written neatly on the back.
“Is this where you mother lives?” he asked, squinting in the dark to read the address, “El Mirage, Arizona?”

“Mi tía... Rosa..." he muttered, almost breathlessly.

Meeple
Dec 28, 2009
Late, but not forgotten. Crits the second

docbeard - Permafrost
Mid
In brief: I didn’t get the ending until the second read-through, so I think you were being a bit too subtle with what Tess intended (nowhere do either of them mention what I’m assuming is an attempt at cryogenic stasis; my first read was “attempting to get out to the lake above before it freezes”). Otherwise, I like it.
Prose: There’s some odd clunky phrases that detract from some otherwise very solid writing (Ty’s already called you on “The tremor from the explosion below them threatened to knock them off their feet, but it was all talk.”, but I don’t like it either, or the paragraph of history/exposition about Tess’ father).
Story: Once I got what was happening, this was good - about all I might suggest is cutting a few words on worldbuilding to focus a little more on Tess’ transition from cocky tomb raider to someone facing their death.
Prompt: Good take on an awkward cover art, and nice discovery (multiple discoveries, in fact).


WeLandedOnTheMoon! - Trophy Hunting in El Paso
mid-low
In brief: I’m not really sure what was going on in your story, which is a shame as I think there’s a neat concept hiding underneath somewhere. There’s a lot of clunky writing and dialogue here, unfortunately, and so the idea is lost in it.
Prose: Pretty bad. Your dialogue lacks natural flow (try reading Daddy’s monologue out loud, it sounds horribly stilted), and your phrasing is all over the place. There’s too much for me to pick up in a brief summary, but you need to tighten up your descriptions of action and cut out a lot of extraneous cruft.
Story: The concept is neat, and there’s a bit of a story, but the way you tell it is clumsy and loses much of the impact. The ending is weird; you leave the protagonist in danger again without any resolution.
Prompt: Cover, check. Discovery, check, though not very well explained.


magnificent7 - THEM CREEPY rear end TREES
Low
In brief: Entenzan did a much better fantasy-as-delusions story last week, which doesn’t help. It’s not an exhausted trope, but you didn’t use it to tell a story in either the delusional fantasy world or the real world. There’s also a lot of awkward crowbarring to get things to fit; Annette’s out of breath, but why would they be running in the real world?
Prose: It’s not immediately obvious what you’re doing with the interspersed italics (the first ‘bound’ looks like it’s emphasis in a sentence, not an alternative interpretation), and so they really fall a bit flat until much later in the story. I think you could’ve either cut them, or made it far more obvious that your protagonist is having flashes of lucidity. The fact that later in the story there are obvious real-world descriptions that aren’t italicised adds to the confusion - if you’re going to go with this, go all-in, or you’ll just confuse the reader.
Story: What story? As I said in the beginning, there wasn’t really any story in either world. Feeling from giants maybe, only not; daughter visiting her not-with-it father. Neither of these have anything to recommend them to the reader.
Prompt: Cover, check. Discovery? It’s a bloody big stretch to get any sense of discovery from this.


Blade of Tyshalle - For Every Moment of Truth, There's Confusion in Life
Low, maybe DM.
In brief: Probably the most literal possible ‘talking heads’ story imaginable, as it really is just heads on a webcam. Also wacky monsters! And a big reveal! This reads like an immature joke entry.
Prose: Not awful, your dialogue is campy but doesn’t grate too much.
Story: There isn’t one, it’s just a slice-of-life with talking heads. I don’t have any reason to care about the protagonist, so I don’t, I just watch her have an awkward conversation and then you throw a dumb, wacky joke at me and I hate you.
Prompt: I don’t know who the people on the cover are, because they very obviously aren’t the characters in your story based on your description. Like, seriously, your opening few paras explicitly contradict the cover art (Dad’s hair colour, presumed protagonist’s hair length). There was a discovery, at least.


Phobia
Mid
In brief: Lots of slices of life on top of each other! But no actual character with an objective and a challenge to overcome, just a lot of poo poo that happens. That said, you handled the constant time jumps remarkably well - admittedly by beating the reader about the head with them - and avoided the confusing mess that often follows that sort of writing, and you wrote something genuinely interesting for all that it didn't tell much of a story.
Prose: "Sorry, I'm trying to quitting.", otherwise no obvious fuckups. Your depictions of Cedric when he was high are good, though I’d lose a few exclamation marks from when he’s got the joke towards the end. It also took me two reads to work out that the final paragraph isn’t chronologically following the penultimate one, as your blunt-hammer of a signal falls down there.
Story: There wasn’t much of one, which let it down a lot, as the writing’s pretty strong.
Prompt: I’m not sure if you were interpreting the leaves on the cover as weed, but otherwise there’s not much to say for it so you hit that. Discovery is, hmm, a bit tangential again.


Kalyco - Yellow Arrows
Mid/low
In brief: Portal fantasy, without actually even using the usual cliche of a naive real-worlder having the fantasy world explained to them in a massive infodump. Also why does Khalen/Khalin act like a fantasy world character and then say he comes from LA? Nothing much happened, there wasn't any motivation of characterisation to make me care, so I didn't.
Prose: Khalen/Khalin’s name changes, which is never a good start. The dialogue is a bit stilted, and none of the characters feel very different in voice.
Story: Yet again this week, nothing really happens that makes me care about the character. She wanders off under her house, ends up in FantasyLand, eats waffles, comes home again. The bit about the yellow arrows just feels way too cute and a bit forced in, like you’d decided you liked the concept before you wrote the rest of the story and were going to bloody well get it in there somehow.
Prompt: If you squint, the cover art might be relevant, but not much - I’m not sure who the guy in blue is supposed to be in your story, Teacher? Discovery, check.


Echo Cian - Twilight Blue
Mid
In brief: I rescued a jackdaw fledgeling the other day so this wins soft-spot points for me, which is about all you’ve got going for it at times. The prose was so loving purple I couldn’t tell what was going on in places, so lay off the metaphor and try actually showing us what’s going on rather than casting vague allusions.
Prose: Yuck. I genuinely found it hard to tell what was going on in places, which means you’re not doing a very good job of telling me a story. Stop trying to be flowery and poetic, just show us what’s happening.
Story: Behind the prose, the story wasn’t bad. Caleb was a bit too distant to be truly likable, though, so I didn’t care a huge amount about what’s happening.
Prompt: Cover, check. Discovery, check. No complaints there.


Schneider Heim - What My Aunt Left Me
Mid-high
In brief: MomSnark™ lost it for me completely, it was doing okay until then. I just can’t actually find anything much to say about this story, it’s aggressively mediocre (or suffering from being near the end of the list), sorry.
Prose: Mostly okay, but has some real low points - ‘choco’ is a weird abbreviation I’ve never heard or seen used personally, though I was prepared to write it off as a family dialect; ‘"Do you not like it?" young Aunt Cecilia said.' reads really clunky; you could stand to cut a bunch of unnecessary adjectives; stop cutting out half-way through conversations because you can’t be bothered to finish them. The dialogue at the beginning is horribly jerky in tone, it goes from “no gently caress you mum” to “oh I’m sorry, at least she made nice hot chocolate” to ‘and then we emotionally abused each other on the phone for another hour’. I just don’t find it believable.
Story: Trite and cliched, but not awful. I actually really liked the flashback way of telling the meat of the story.
Prompt: Literal retelling of the original story, which wasn’t really what was asked for. I didn’t care as much as Tyrannosaurus did about that flaw, but there it is. Discovery, check.


Bad Seafood - All Expenses Paid
Mid-low
In brief: +1, appropriate wordcount. -100, everything else. There’s no story here and it reads like a (bad) joke entry, though at least you’re doing better than Tyshalle or systran this week on that front.
Prose: First big paragraph is ugly as all hell; thirteen not thirteenth, clunky backstory, we spend a whole paragraph describing how important the watch is and then it just gets dropped like it’s hot and it’s gone. The writing’s generally not too bad, and in another story the tone of the narrator and the characters would be fun and enjoyable as you realised them very well in the limited space they had. Please do an edit pass next time, though (ps it’s “anti-materiel”).
Story: Aaand nothing happens again. I don’t care about the characters, I don’t really care what’s going on, because the writing’s focussing on a section in the middle where nothing much happens. I don’t even care that Ottoway would rather fall to his death than reach the end, because I sort of sympathise with him at this point.
Prompt: Yup, angel carrying dudes, I don’t see a book but the dude on the left looks disinterested enough to be Caiman. Discovery, sort of.


Sitting Here - For the Love of a Mountain
High
In brief: A very nice story, but the last paragraph let it down for me and thus soured it a bit. It’s a novel story and a good take on the weird cover you got given.
Prose: Last para didn’t do it for me; misspelled ‘whim’ and one huge run-on sentence bursting at the seams with commas (9, and it starts with “But” too). I get that it’s in keeping with the style you were setting, but became too hard to parse.
Story: Novel, nice, complete. I like it and there’s nothing much more to say here.
Prompt: Cover, check, good take on an awkward image. Discovery, a bit less so, unless you count discovering men are bastards. A bit weaker than some.

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V for Vegas
Aug 31, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER
Ceiling Guy 940

There’s a man trapped in my ceiling. I don’t know how he got there. I was brushing my teeth and getting ready for work when I heard a faint voice. I stopped, listening for the TV in the lounge room, but it was off. Then I heard the voice again.

“Hello down there.”

I stopped brushing. “Hello,” I said. Silence. I felt silly talking aloud to myself. I spat the toothpaste into the sink and rinsed out my mouth.

“Hey, you, look up here.”

The voice was much louder. I looked up. Staring back down at me through the air vent I could see a face in the darkness. This scared me more than I wanted to let on, so I acted a bit tough, like I dealt with people in ceilings all the time.

“gently caress you pal, hiding in my ceiling. Get the gently caress out of there.”

“Hey, don’t blame me, I don’t know how I got here. Do you think I like hanging out in ceilings watching guys brush their teeth?”

He had me there. I wouldn’t like being in a ceiling. It was probably really dusty and dark and full of mouse poo poo up there.

“What do you mean you don’t know how you go there?”

“I just don’t. Can you help me down?”

“I don’t have a ladder.”

“Oh.”

“Um, yeah,” I said. I felt bad I didn’t have a ladder. But then who has ladders in a small, one bedroom apartment? I felt angry at this ceiling guy for making me feel bad. But then I felt bad for him being stuck in the ceiling.

“I tell you what, I’m really running late for work. I’ll go by the super and tell him about you and if he has a ladder, don’t go anywhere.” I rushed out of the bathroom.

The super opened his door. “What do you want?” he said.

“Uh,” I started. I looked at him, 250 pounds of ‘I don’t want to hear any of your poo poo’ stared back at me. “There’s a guy. In my ceiling. Need a ladder,” I spluttered.

“You want a ladder, call the fire brigade.” With that, he slammed the door shut.

I looked down the hallway, it looked like the building was empty, everyone here had already gone to work. My apartment didn’t have a phone, and I had left my cellphone at the office the day before, which is kind of why I was late, I hadn’t set my alarm.

I walked out onto the street. An old lady was walking past so I walked up to her.

“Hi there, hi. How’s it going, nice day huh? Um.”

She stared at me, her hand edging into her purse. I forged on. “I was wondering if you could help me, you see there’s this guy in my ceiling.”

She brought her hand out of her purse, I was surprised it was empty, but not as surprised as I was when she slapped me across the face with it and ran down the sidewalk. For a senior citizen, she sure packed a punch.

Still in a daze and holding a hand to my cheek, I don’t see the police car pull up beside me. A young officer gets out and comes up to me.

“You alright?” he asks.

I’m staring at him. Finally, someone to help. “Yes, I’m fine thanks. Look you’re just in time. There’s this guy in my ceiling I need to help.”

The officer is staring off after the old woman. “Did I see that lady hit you?” he said.

“Oh, that? Um, yeah. Maybe. Look, the issue is my apartment. There’s this guy, he’s in the ceiling and my super is being a dick and I tried to get that woman’s phone because mine is at work, and I’m late for work and there’s this guy, you know. In my ceiling. Can you get him out for me?”

The officer is staring at me. “Look, did that punch knock you around some? I can call an ambulance if you like. Do you want to press charges?”

“No, no, I”m fine. I just, I just need a ladder is all.”

“You want a ladder, call the fire brigade.”

The siren on the car went off. The officer still behind the wheel honked the horn.

“Come down to the station this afternoon and I’ll write up a statement for you,” said the young officer. He jumped back into the car and drove off.

The bus going to the city pulls up. I take a quick look back at my building, but I have to catch this bus, or otherwise catch the long slow bus that stops at every stop. Then I’ll be really late for work. I get on and sit on a window seat. It’s a pretty long ride, and lots of people get on and off next to me. I clear my throat a couple of times and start to ask to borrow their phones, but before I can say hardly anything it’s like I’ve just thrown up over their shoes and they jump up and get off at the next stop. I realise I can’t tell anyone about the ceiling guy. It’s just too weird. Maybe he wasn’t there at all. Maybe I just imagined it because I’m stressed and I’m worried about my phone and my job and Riniko who always leaves the TV on. I keep thinking about the guy in my ceiling. I hope he’s alright up there. I’ll bring some food back for you ceiling guy. We’ll be fine.

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