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Fumblemouse
Mar 21, 2013


STANDARD
DEVIANT


Grimey Drawer

Also: In. Feed me, Seymour!

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Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Illegal Hen

Fumblemouse posted:

Also: In. Feed me, Seymour!

Oh uh hey Fumblemouse what are you doing tonight? Let's hang out and get some japanese ramen!

Lily Catts
Oct 17, 2012

Show me the way to you
(Heavy Metal)


Crits for Week 163.

crabrock - Grumpy and the Witch

A short and sweet revenge fantasy. I like how you don't waste words on fluff or setting, given the word limit. We're made to hate Carlo and cheer for his downfall, and that's pretty much it. I'm lukewarm about the lizard gimmick, it lacks a certain kind of oomph to be compelling--instead it's just this weird thing that Shay employs just because. There was one part that bothered me, though. Were the witches supposed to marry the prince? That was kind of weird, why would he want to marry them?

22 Eargesplitten - The Cuuters and the Hook

Uhh... so the flesh-hook was cursed? You wrote a boring story that was hard to follow because it lacked suspense or any sense of immediacy. You also didn't try to make any of the characters likable or endearing. So Peter got really sick. Why should we care at all? Your story has a beginning, a middle, and an end, and there's conflict, but it was this flavorless gruel that I forgot as soon as I finished with it. Get into your characters and make your reader get into them as well.

You also had a confusing passage:

quote:

In the morning, Peter didn’t meet Michael at the edge of town. He went to find Peter at his house.

Who is "he" in the second sentence? The first has Peter being the POV. It's really Michael, but the flow of these sentences is confusing.

POOL IS CLOSED
Jul 14, 2011

I'm just exploding with mackerel. This is the aji wo kutta of my discontent.


Pillbug

Combo Lunch Special:

Combo A: I'll be your judge who's only HMd

OR

Combo B: In and flash me.

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Illegal Hen

RedTonic posted:

Combo Lunch Special:

Combo A: I'll be your judge who's only HMd

OR

Combo B: In and flash me.

There's this Greek place in town that doesn't have a menu. You just go and sit down and they bring you food - whatever they feel like cooking that day - and you sit there and eat it and say thank you afterwards - no indecision, no food envy, and it's always different yet delicious.

What I'm trying to say is, please join us on the judges' table. Thank you for helping out!

POOL IS CLOSED
Jul 14, 2011

I'm just exploding with mackerel. This is the aji wo kutta of my discontent.


Pillbug

Lemme just snap on this bib, I'm sure this'll get messy.

After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor





Thanks for the crits. I don't know what got into me that week, aside from the moronic idea of sticking as close to the original lost-for-a-reason story as possible.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


After The War posted:

Thanks for the crits. I don't know what got into me that week, aside from the moronic idea of sticking as close to the original lost-for-a-reason story as possible.

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.


Yeah I'm in, why not?

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Illegal Hen

Phobia posted:

Yeah I'm in, why not?

Take a seat by the campfire, we'll make some damper (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damper_(food))

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!




I just wanted to point this out as I was going through the submission grinder, I found this place that holds what looks like monthly contests. And it just so happens that this month's theme is food. So, you know, keep that in mind this week, if you really like your story this week, you might even try to get it published.

Here's the link btw: http://bopdeadcity.com/contests/

It does say it shouldn't be on the internet, but I'd imagine if you just edit out of your post and keep it on the archives, you'll be safe. Also, since everyone should try to get their stuff published, if you prove to me that you do submit your story this week to this magazine, whether it be before submitting it here or when the deadline ends for the contest, I'll give you a line crit of any of your stories.

flerp fucked around with this message at 06:40 on Sep 24, 2015

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Fwiw all of the two stories I've published were TD stories that I edited out and left in the archive. It should be fine since it is behind a password - at the very least Google searches can't find anything in the archive and I highly doubt any journal is going to be digging deeper than that.

And Bop Dead City is awesome and everyone should submit there!

epoch.
Jul 24, 2007

When people say there is too much violence in my books, what they are saying is there is too much reality in life.


sebmojo posted:

Meat Loaf by epoch
[...] you could cut the first para. Always cut the first para, then put it back if it's not better (you won't put it back)

This is cool advice. Thanks for the crit, sebmojo.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


CRITS!! Week #163 - Your Stupid poo poo Belongs In A Museum

Part 1: jon joe, Thranguy, Mons Hubris, worlds_best_author, Entenzahn, Morning Bell

jon joe - How Jinwei Xu Became Immortal
How the dialogue said exactly what everyone meant and wanted. The language is stilted--sentences are clipped and clunky. Too much telling, not showing: “He wanted to escape this weird man, run as far as he could, but he wanted immortality more.” I like the bit where you notice that the amulet also looks like a skull, and how that weaves into the idea of immortality and evil spirits. Pretty far in and I’m not seeing any conflict -- Jinwei Xu is just happily proceeding along his path towards immortality, he keeps asking for and getting what he wants with no real problems. Also, there’s nothing particularly interesting about him. We know he fled from his village and wants to go save it, but more importantly have respect for himself, but we were just told that and after that he’s just walking around doing stuff. The ending is kind of a “twist” but not really a ~conflict~ and the last words make no sense -- oh, I get it, Xian Yao is the Vulture, okay.

Don’t like.

Thranguy - The Elephant in the Room
The Horn of Summoning Clever Dialogue. Ho ho ho. Look at us, we are both such witty fellows. The first paragraph started off well, with a conversational voice that I like, but then whammo, I’m overwhelmed by line after line of uninterrupted characters talking to each other, all sounding like pompous academics--which at least they are, but still :( Also, 100% saying exactly what they mean and what they want, booooooooo. Oh no, what is the conflict? What is the poooooint? The protagonist, at least I'm assuming Mel was the protagonist?, didn't really want anything herself -- she was apparently summoning the monster because the professor told her too (why didn't he do it himself again? She didn't experience any challenges -- the monster came, no problem. She didn't make any sacrifices, she didn't change, the monster didn't even DO anything. I guess the professor got his comeuppance, but for what, maybe being a creep? I hate creeps, maybe more than the next person, but so whaaaaaaaaaat?There is a lecherous professor so what? He summoned an elephant so what? :(

Also, when Mel looked outside and saw all the elephant-shaped holes I thought they were going to keep going through the layers of space-time and into other dimensions and be an okay joke at least tying it back to the beginning about the materialist paradigm and a vague allusion to the apocryphal story of the old lady challenging the scientific model of the universe and saying "you're very clever young man, but it's elephants all the way down," but NO. VERY DISAPPOINTED.

Don’t like.

Mons Hubris - The Strategist
This is a cute idea, but it wasn’t well executed. At all. The confusion and accusations about why different platoons were sent different places wasn’t adequately explained, nor was the connection to the chess set. Also, if the chess set moved things, probably the king shouldn’t have been throwing pieces around the room willy-nilly? I dunno. The emotions of the characters also fell flat for me, and the dialogue went on too long. Mostly the problem there was the king kept interrupting everyone else to explain things in too much detail. You had way more words, and more time. If you had used those, you could have put in the emotional impact this story lacks. Also, too much telling vs. showing. I think the idea of chessboard-really-moves-things and KIDS! are cliche, but still could have worked.

Meh.

worlds_best_author - By the Sword
Was not worried too much about the fact that this was a religious war set in Samurai Japan until dude went crazy and started hacking at a dead body with a katana and screaming. :(
"Don't-you-dare-question-my-faith-you-heretic-pagan-scum!" Shiro screamed at the top of his lungs in between chopping Yamada's corpse.
Alas.
This stopped being about any characters and just became a fight scene, total bummer. There could conceivably be a nice parallel between both sides calling the other barbarians and cutting off the other’s heads for colluding with the enemy, etc, but ultimately that just feels like a morality play and not a story. No characters. Also, there is a real problem with point of view. Third Person Omniscient is perfectly acceptable, but ...it wasn’t pulled off. Most of the story was in Third Person Limited, to Shiro, until parts at the end where we see that his enemies were shaken to the core and hear something said after his death. The big problem is the lack of characters and entire story that is just people screaming and killing each other though. BOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Don’t like.

Entenzzahn - Way of the Croc
First paragraph drags a biiiiit too long, but the punchline is good. The characters and conflict are pretty well established within the first scene. “But Jotel just looked back at her, and together they created an infinite loop of one person expecting the other to say something helpful.” LOL, nice. Suspense building in the beginning of the 2nd scene is well done. Come on Rito, you can do it! I really want him to steal the Croc statue, but I bet he doesn’t. I hope this story has a happy ending :( ← check out that emotional engagement! GOOD JOB. Ahhhh, fumbles a bit in the last third, because it’s not exactly clear 1) why Siria would have lured Jotel to bring the statue in the first place if she really loved him, and 2) why leaving it behind would make everything okay. The “crocodile is wise” bit is good, but the old ways/new ways was a bit out of the blue. But YAY! Happy Ending! And a story with characters I cared about!

Like.

Morning Bell - Roadside Dinner
I like the first sentence of this one. Instant conflict: trying to sneak someone through a border checkpoint. But also instant counterpoint with the mundane. The guards are bored, corrupt, eating. He’s hungry and desperate. Nice, swift characterization. Good use of details to very quickly make the guards separate people with personalities. Baby-face knowing the news, so excited about the university sweatshirt, lol. I like the description of the emotional reaction to sex, how little he knows her. Yeah, I like this one. I didn’t stop reading it to make notes, had to do that after (hence their brevity).

Like. HM at least, probably.

Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

GUESS WHO'S LYING


Grimey Drawer

Thank you for the crit DocKloc.

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Come fight terrifying creatures in the THUNDERDOME!


:siren: CURLINGHERE BRAWLBOWL I :siren:

Assistant Coaching Position
1093 words


It was 5 pm when the football slammed into my testicles. I doubled over and tried not to vomit as Brayden ran up to me.

“poo poo, dude, are you okay?” He was slightly out of breath from the brief sprint; I made a mental note to start him jogging the next day.

“I’m fine,” I said, straightening up with some effort. “And don’t let Mom hear you talk like that.”

“Whatever,” he said, grabbing the football from where it had landed after bouncing off of my balls. “At least the ball reached you this time, right?”

“Unfortunately. Let’s try for shoulder-height next time. Now go long.”

My phone buzzed as Brayden pumped his skinny legs down the field. I threw the ball and pulled it out, hoping I wouldn’t get nailed again while I was distracted. Given Brayden’s current track record for accurate throwing, I wasn’t especially worried, though.

“Are you two planning on coming back anytime soon, or should I send your sister out there with rations?” My mother’s voice was tired on the other side of the phone.

“Ah, geez, Mom, I’m sorry. I can get us something on the way home if that would be easier on you.” Brayden was still fumbling after the ball; I waved at him to start heading back.

“And waste the pizza I slaved to pick up after work? I don’t think so.”

“Okay, we’ll be back in ten or so.” I hung up as Brayden reached me. “Come on, it’s dinner time.”

“Please tell me it’s something other than pizza.”

“Hey, no whining,” I said. “You know how it’s been lately.”

“I know, I just never thought I’d be so sick of pizza.”

I laughed. “Tell you what, I’ll make you an eggplant casserole if you make the team, deal?”

“Ugh, I’m not THAT sick of pizza. I can’t believe Dad likes that stuff.” He paused. “Well... liked.”

I put my arm around his shoulders. “Yeah, I know. C’mon, Mom’s waiting.”

***

It was 5 am when I pounded on Brayden’s door the next day.

“Time to go running!” I yelled.

It took a while, but I eventually got him out of bed.

“This sucks,” Brayden said, as we started out around the neighborhood. “Why do we have to get up so early? And why can’t I have breakfast first?”

“Because it’ll be too hot to run soon,” I said. “And you don’t want to start running on a full stomach. Trust me on this one.”

“Can’t we go back to throwing practice?”

“What do you think we’re doing after we get back?”

“You know you’re going to kill me, right?”

“Better me than the guy trying to tackle you! Come on, I’ll race you to the next corner.”

“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck!”

“Watch it!”

***

It was 3 pm and Brayden still hadn’t caught a pass.

We’d been at it for a month or so - he could reliably throw the ball to me over short distances, and he was getting better at longer ones. The weight training was progressing slowly, but I expected that.

I could tell Brayden was getting frustrated, though.

I called across the field. “Hey, maybe we should do another obstacle run, take a break for a while?”

“One more!” he yelled back.

“Okay, start running!”

I threw the ball and watched as it arced through the air towards him, corkscrewing along its path. Brayden ran underneath it, watching it start its descent. As he stretched out his arms, I could feel my muscles twitch in sympathetic motion with his. Come on, come on.

He almost had it when he tripped. What would have been a perfect catch ended up hitting him square in the face. I felt my chest freeze as he fell head-first into the grass.

“poo poo!” I took off across the field towards him, leaving a contrail of profanity. Brayden sat up with his hand to his face, and I could see that his glasses had come off when he got hit. I started scanning the ground frantically for them as I knelt down next to him. “Are you okay? poo poo! I’m so sorry.”

“I’m fine, just don’t step on my glasses.” Brayden pushed himself to his feet, and I saw the red streaking down his hand.

“Oh Christ, you’re bleeding.” I fumbled in my pockets for something to mop up the blood. “poo poo, Mom’s gonna kill me. I never should have agreed to help you with this, you’re gonna get hurt and it’s gonna be my fault. poo poo, poo poo!”

“gently caress you, Colby!” Brayden shoved me, and I fell back. “It’s not your job to make sure I never get hurt! I get to choose whether or not I do this, not you!” The blood stained his teeth as he shouted.

“Look, I’m sorry,” I said. “I just know that I’m screwing this up, and you’re the one who’s gonna pay for it. I’m not as good at this as Dad was, okay?”

“I don’t want you to be as good as Dad! You can’t loving replace him!” He wiped his nose, and his arm streaked red. “I just want to play some football with my stupid rear end in a top hat brother!”

We sat and stared at each other. Brayden’s nosebleed was slowing down, and tears were cutting tracks down his face.

“...You’re right. I’m sorry.” I stood up and dusted off my pants, looking at the ground. I spotted his glasses a few feet away, and picked them up. “Hey, at least your glasses aren’t broken.” I handed them to him. “You want to call it a day?”

He wiped his face on his sleeve before putting his glasses on. “I want to try for another pass.”

He caught it this time.

***

It was 7 am and we were walking to tryouts.

“You don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, you know,” I said. Brayden was eating a PowerBar as we walked; I was too nervous to eat.

“Dude, shut up. I want to do this. I know I’m not going to get a scholarship like you or anything, but… I don’t know, I always imagined myself playing in high school.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m just nervous.”

He laughed. “And you think I’m not? I mean, it’s not like there’s any chance YOU won’t make the cut.”

“Yeah, but it won’t be the same now if I have to play without you.”

“Whatever. C’mon, we’re almost there.”

***

It was 4 pm when we found out he’d made the team. I made eggplant casserole to celebrate. It was pretty good, actually.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






this story ends with a touchdown
1002 words

It begins in gym class, with me, age fourteen, on the mangy practice field, which was next to the three million dollar football field my high school had built in lieu of sending art kids on field trips, or whatever. Go Wildcats! The sun was hovering just over the treetops, patiently burning away the morning mist. The patchy grass was laced with tiny spiderwebs that caught the dew and sparkled. We stomped it down with our tennis-shoed feet as we took the field.

I was on team ‘A’ with Beau, the Kates, the Chelseas, and a million other jocks who treated gym class flag football like it was the Super Bowl. Even though there were only the crows to cheer us on, and their cheers sounded an awful lot like mocking. Team ‘B’ was pretty much all the autotech regulars, guys with no pro-level aspirations, but who watched a whole lot of sports on the TV and hated losing at anything. I positioned myself as far away as possible from the ball, which put me somewhere in the vicinity of the weirdly-shaped anime nerds and Kyler Fink, the kid who picked at his nose, ears, and scalp and stuck his body lint to bits of Scotch tape.

In retrospect, Kyler was probably running a long con. No one wants to touch the ball after the nose-picking kid gets his hands on it. The anime nerds hid behind an impenetrable wall of fan chatter, plus they got special consideration from the P.E. coach because they’d draw promotional sports posters for Homecoming week. I didn’t have a shtick or excuse, nothing to let me off the hook. Best I could do was try and blend in with the other bottom-of-the barrel Melvins and hope the coach was feeling less sadistic than usual.

We lined up on either side of the thirty yard line. Beau--who looked like a curly-haired Ken doll--stood next to the ball and shouted short, sharp words. The tan, toned gaggle of Kates and Ashleys and Chelseas and Madisens crouched behind him, their hands on their knees, their gym shorts scandalously short.

“I want all of you on that ball,” the coach was shouting. “On. The. Ball. Anyone who isn’t going after that ball like a shark at a feeding frenzy gets to run laps for the rest of the week. Do not test me.” He may as well have punctuated every sentence with my name.

This was the tricky part. Staying within the protective clot of weirdos while appearing to make a plausible attempt at staying On The Ball. I paced back and forth behind the team A allstars. The team B autotech guys were like a zitty, sour-faced blockade. They were monolithic.

Thwump! Beau’s graceful kick sent the ball high over team B’s heads, and then everyone was stampeding down toward B’s endzone, screaming in the impenetrable tongues of sports fanaticism.

One of the moving mountains on team B secured the ball, flung it back upfield. Directly toward me. It described a perfect arc against the pale morning sky, momentarily eclipsing the sun before lazily dropping down directly toward my face. I made peace with the world of pain I was about to enter, considered for a microsecond that at least taking a ball to the face would probably spare me from running laps. I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth, and--

A shadow passed in front of me. I opened my eyes just in time to see Beau complete a flying leap, and I swear in that moment, the sun gave him a corona like some sort of saint. He stumbled to a halt, football clutched to his chest like a baby, and the controlled chaos of the game went on.

We lined up for the final play of the period. I’d figured out a strategy to keep the coach off my back: Beau pretty much knew I was useful as a patch of grass on the field. If the ball was headed toward me, so was Beau. All I’d needed to do was hover around him like a cleaner fish on a shark.

Team B had the ball. Some brick-faced kid everyone called ‘Spud’ did a forward pass, or something, and the game shifted in the direction of our end zone. With Beau on defense, I realized I was just gonna be in the way. I’d made a pretty good show of being believably proximate to the ball so far, so I retreated up the field toward team B’s end zone, knowing the bell was going to ring any minute, whether the autotech guys scored or not.

Stubborn tendrils of mist hid from the sun between the trees that bordered the field. Light slanted down through the branches in hazy shafts. This was more my pace; an empty end zone, a sheen of dew drops, the sunshine in the trees. Why was it so important that I make an idiot of myself chasing after some ball, anyway? I was kinda doughy and never knew where to put my arms and may as well have been wearing a sign that said “ATTN: Team Captains: pick me last”.

A sound of collective anguish went up from the other end of the field. I looked up, thinking team B had finally claimed their point and ended the game. Everyone was staring upfield, at me, or rather, the ball that was headed rapidly in my direction. Beau had both hands knotted in his curly hair, his teeth exposed in a wide grimace. I held my arms out in front of me, palms up, an almost inquisitive gesture. Que sera, sera, my outstretched hands seemed to say.

And then there was the ball. It landed in my arms with a meaty thwap and stayed there, just as the bell rang, just as we won a game that would’ve been over anyway, given a few more seconds.

“Touchdown,” I muttered, and let the ball drop onto the wet grass.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


Sitting Here posted:

this story ends with a touchdown
1002 words
[...]
“Touchdown,” I muttered, and let the ball drop onto the wet grass.
Story delivers.

Froglight
Oct 4, 2010



Objector in Red 1251 Words.

The year was 1980. The month was February. A young married couple lived in a cottage on the civilized edge of Siberia.

Dragana looked her husband in the eye, something that wasn't easy for her to do lately.

"Ivan, look at the flour. It's full of beetles!"

Ivan, who was reclined in his chair, with a blanket covering his legs and a Greek philosophy book in his hands, looked up at her.

"I'm sorry to hear that my love, can you pick them out?."

Ivan's calm and relaxed response only irritated Dragana.

"No Ivan! We can't just pick the beetles out! If there are beetles then there are also beetle eggs. This flour is infested and useless!"

Dragana let a bit of her rage out by making a show of dumping the flour out all over the cabin floor. She knew she would have to clean it up later.

Ivan pinched the bridge of his nose and sat forward in his chair.

Ivan worked for the government, but who didn't these days?

Ivan was technically a hunter. He was a terrible hunter who had never provided the government with more than one sorry deer carcass a month.

In addition to being a government hunter, he was a reserve Lieutenant in the Soviet Army. A position he had earned with his Art Degree and the name of his father, who had been a decorated veteran of the Battle of Berlin.

"Dragana! I've eaten worse things than bug eggs! What difference would it have made if you had fried your dumplings with a few pointless bug egg specks. Now we have no flour! You realize I'm probably the only man in twenty kilometers who wouldn't strike you for what you just did, don't you?"

"You're the only able bodied man in fifty kilometers anyway! Not that anybody can know!"

Ivan shot up from his chair.

Dragana continued sarcastically, "Oh, be careful dear. You don't want anybody to see you stand up!"

"What is this? Is this what you want? Are you picking a fight with me right now? What do you want from this?"

Dragana screamed in frustration. "I just want clean flour so I can cook!"

Ivan laughed. "Oh sure! Let me just walk into town and buy a big bag of flour. Let's let everyone get a good look at me. Maybe I'll even visit the conscription officer and wish him a good morning!"

"As long as you get me some flour." Dragana said flatly.

"You think I'm a coward, don't you? Do you want me to go to Afghanistan? Do you want me to get my head chopped off by some loving Muslim rebel like what happened to your cousin? Do you want to give birth to our child alone?"

"I want my husband to be able to buy me flour. I want to have my parents visit us. I want to take a walk with my husband around town! Do you think I was a little girl who dreamed about babysitting her fake crippled husband who didn't want to go to war?"

"So you want me to go to war?"

"No! I don't want there to be a war!"

"Well I'm sorry Dragana! I can't be some big loving hero who changes the world! I can be here for you and our child, or I can be in Afghanistan. Do you think I'm proud of hiding from the war, pretending to be a cripple? My father was a war hero; I'm not a loving coward. I choose to stay here because I love you, and I love our child! I don't want you to starve or freeze in a damned bread line."

Dragana didn't respond and just looked down at her feet.

"Well?" Ivan said.

"Well what?" Dragana muttered, wearily.

"Well what do you say?" Ivan said, annoyed.

Dragana looked up, near tears. "I just. Want. Flour."

"Fine!" Ivan hollered as he shot out of his wheelchair. "Fine!"

Ivan threw on his coat, which he hadn't worn in months, and began to walk around the cottage finding all of his unused winter clothes.

Fully suited up for the outside world, he looked at his pregnant wife.

"I'm going to walk into town, in front of everybody. I'm going to get you your flour. I'm either coming home with a hundred loving pounds of flour, or I'm going to Afghanistan in handcuffs, cursing your name."

Dragana didn't say anything.

Ivan continued. "I wish I was you! A hundred pounds of flour, or war paychecks until your fool of a husband dies! You're a winner either way!"

Dragana looked away and didn't respond.

Ivan turned and left the cottage, slamming the door.

It was insanely cold outside, and it was a two mile walk into town, but Ivan was determined. He was going to buy the biggest bag of flour he could find, and he was going to drag it home to his bitch of a wife.

As he walked he had a brief fantasy of drowning Dragana in flour. He immediately felt like an rear end in a top hat, mainly because she was carrying his first child, and secondly because he loved her.

He continued to walk, and he began to calm down and think more about his situation. He had not been outside walking for a while, and he was freezing and miserable. He had not been fully alone for a while either, and he was unable to not think about himself.

'I'm a draft dodger, a deserter and a fraud. I'm a traitor to the Union. I'm one more flaw in what should and could be a perfect system of government. I'm too weak for communism. I'm laying around living my little selfish life with my family money. Call me Ivan Romanov.'

'My father, the war hero, what would he do? Would he leave his pregnant wife to answer the call of duty? He probably would. He most likely did. It's not fair; these brown desert rebels are hardly Nazi Germans. This is my war? This is a stupid war. I truly believe that this is a stupid, pointless conflict; and I don't want to die for what is at best a pissing contest with America.'

Ivan had managed to occupy about half his journey to the town with these thoughts, as he looked down at his army issued snow boots. Ivan had always had a bad habit of looking down at his feet while he walked.

Once Ivan had his fill of Geo-political internal thought, he began to think about his wife again. She held the distinction of being the only subject that managed to get him more upset than the shadow of nuclear war with America.

Ivan was so preoccupied with his thoughts that he began to wander off road.

Of all the thoughts racing around Ivan's mind, a certain story from his father had been long forgotten. A story about the German jumping S-mine. A story about the closest his father had ever come to death. Ivan's father had been the sole survivor of his squad because he had heard a click and had slammed himself to the ground, breaking his nose in the process.

The German's had deployed these jumping anti-personnel landmines all over the Continent.

Ivan's father had always gotten a kick out of the American's name for them, 'Bouncing Betty's'. Ivan's father had always liked Americans too much.

Ivan, walking off of the road, heard a click and stopped, wondering what it could possibly be.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

In. What's the special of the day?

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Kaishai posted:

In. What's the special of the day?

a butt

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Illegal Hen

Kaishai posted:

In. What's the special of the day?

A pig's head. Hope the British Prime Minister isn't around.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBpQJ98rR4o

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006



Illegal Hen

Kitchen closed (like an hour and a bit ago). No more sign-ups. Hope everyone enjoys their meals!

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



sebmojo posted:

:siren: Crits for rewrite week:siren:

Thanks sebby :glomp:

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007

JUST POSTING WHILE JERKIN' MY GHERKIN SITTIN' IN A PERKINS!

BEATS SELLING MERKINS.


Fun Shoe

Unforeseen Consequences

Prompt: Sour green apple

Words: 1200


The morning star rose over the savannah hill, dispersing the night's darkness. Then he sat on a nearby boulder and rested his chin on his hands.

The beasts of the valley hooted and whooped, scurrying for the scant cover in fear of the sudden burst of light. They looked around with beady black eyes, thick lips curling over massive teeth, gangly limbs knotted with muscle and covered with coarse dark hair supporting stout, low-built torsos. Some of the braver ones peeked over rocks or from the dry, yellowish bushes to seek the light's source, but they quickly averted their eyes; the light was too bright for their primitive eyes to bear.

"Look at them," Lucifer muttered to himself. "Poor, stupid animals. They could be so much more -- they could be like me."

Lucifer wasn't a narcissist -- narcissists were delusional, but Lucifer had every right to love himself. He was, after all, the Creator's greatest creation: a being of such unparalleled beauty and perfection that to claim otherwise was an untruth so egregious it bordered on blasphemy. Of all the Creator's beloved constructs, Lucifer was the absolute pinnacle of intelligent design.

"Not like them," Lucifer mused sadly. That was the thing about evolution: it worked, but it was ugly and awkward and slow and usually undone by freak circumstances. "Poor little bastards."

Lucifer often wandered the earth to marvel at the Creator's other creations -- those built seemingly at random. When he discovered the nearly-bipedal creatures of the valley, he was stunned at how similar they were to the Creator's constructs. He looked at his fingers and flexed them, then his eyes traveled to the crude, knobby digits of the beasts below. They had such potential!

But they were limited by evolution's glacial pace and the unregulated whims of nature. They were not watched or protected or guided the way the constructs were, no, they had freedom. But of what sort? The freedom to starve? To freeze? To be torn apart by predators? Lucifer ached for them.

"I'm perfect," he said. "But what purpose does it serve? Why can't I share it?"

He winced as he sensed the terror of the creatures below. He altered his light to a wavelength undetectable to the primitive eyes of the poor beasts below.

"The Creator did not intentionally build these things. But they're still His." Lucifer rubbed his chin. "They deserve the protection due any of His creations and if something isn't done, they're going to end up another evolutionary dead-end, and to let such potential go to waste..."

Lucifer looked at himself, then back down at the beasts.

"That borders on blasphemy."


***


A tree stood in the valley, tall and lush and lovely, a stark contrast to the surrounding brownish, sparse vegetation. Lucifer stood before it, a wide, expectant smile upon his face.

The tree had been a chore. Millions of potential specimens gathered from all over the world, studied, cross-pollinated. Trillions of minute alterations in the genetic structure, delicate carbon chains twisted with focused beams of radiation. Though the labor had taken countless revolutions, Lucifer had remained patient, though now in the final moments of his grand experiment he found himself giddy and eager and hopeful.

A bud. A flower. A swelling.

A fruit.

Lucifer nearly jumped for joy: his effort had not been in vain! He snatched up the ripened apple and took a bite. Then he spat it out with a curse.

"Sour?! No! That's not right at all!" He tossed down the fruit and crossed his arms petulantly over his chest. He only then noticed that the apple wasn't the sweet ruby red fruit he'd envisioned, but instead a deep emerald, with faintly bitter skin covering tart, juicy flesh that teased the tongue with a hint of sweetness.

Lucifer smacked his lips. The color was off, but the flavor wasn't bad, really. The beasts were desperate for a steady food supply, and this breed of apple would soon be quite abundant, although that was the least of its extraordinary properties.

Lucifer was not the Creator, but he understood how elementary particles interacted. He figured the safest way to aid these interesting knuckle-draggers was to give them cause to develop more quickly while also providing the means. The apples were mildly altered; when consumed, certain protein chains would break down, causing slight but significant lasting changes.

The beasts' prominent jaw structure, for example. Yes, it gave them incredible jaw strength, but it left little real estate for their brains to develop. Sacrifice some muscle, give the brain room to grow and reshape, and its cognizant capacity might increase. Of course, losing those powerful jaws could be a disadvantage, but an improved brain and new, abundant food sources would make up for that.

Lucifer smiled, watching the first of the beasts reach for the discarded fruit. His smile grew wider still as he saw the creature -- a female, he noted -- take a hesitant bite. He gasped joyfully as he watched her circle the tree, then carefully pull her way up the branches to reach more fruit, throwing a few down to her mate below who also partook. They were already learning!

"I did it," Lucifer gasped, satisfaction shaking through every muscle. "I did it!"

Indeed, said Metatron, the voice of the Creator. He sounded cross.


***


Lucifer awoke in icy darkness. He couldn't move; his limbs were cold and unresponsive. But he could hear, and what he heard shook him to his core.

You thought to alter the Creator's design? What were you thinking? Metatron's voice was the very essence of authority distilled into sound.

"I felt sorry for them," Lucifer said softly.

I don't doubt it. But you cursed them. You gave them the means to improve themselves, but at the cost of their innocence. Metatron sounded almost sympathetic despite the severity of his tone. They will grow, they will conquer, and they will take until the earth can give no more. For this you will be punished.

"Punished? But-"

You pitied them. You also thought yourself greater than the Creator -- you sought to improve His works. Metatron's voice hammered at Lucifer's heart. But the Creator grants lenience -- you are also His creation. He has bidden me to teach them to communicate so they can make use of the minds you cultivated.

"So they will live?" Lucifer felt hope flicker in his heart, though it gave him no warmth.

Yes. But the other constructs have witnessed your hubris; they question the Creator. There has been a break in the order. The aberration must be accounted for. Finality rang in Metatron's voice.

"What does this mean?" The hope in his heart sputtered and died as Lucifer uttered the words.

The Creator will allow your beasts to grow and develop, but we constructs must be put away -- there can be no further interference.

"So we're to be tossed aside?"

The voice of the Creator spoke no more.

"Hello?"

Silence.

"Metatron! Please!"

Nothing.

In time, Lucifer grew deaf to his own screams of grief and rage, and the chill of his prison doused even his perfect light.

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!




Set Two of Museum Crits! Also if you notice that I skipped you, I know. Don’t worry.

Morning Bell

quote:

There I was There I was feels a little unnecessary. Just say I was on the border, and the pug-nosed one kept saying, “it’s not enough.” The baby-faced one chewed on a tuna sandwich, peppering the asphalt with a a proofread shower of crumbs. My stomach howled. I hadn’t eaten all day. Cool, conflict I wondered if Svetlana Who? could smell food from her hiding place in the boot of my Lada. I feel like the focus on the food is misplaced, since the conflict doesnt revolve around the food but rather the inspection, so my conflict comment earlier was false because that’s not the real conflict. Well, I’m dumb and didn’t know a Lada is a car, which makes the conflict more transparent.

Opening is fine, if a little plain. I feel like you could spruce up “border” a bit more to make it a concrete thing for me to see, but we got some conflict and bits of character, so it’s off to a decent, albeit not too interesting, start.

quote:

The ugly masculine elation of sexual conquest.

Ehhhh, something rubs me wrong with this phrasing. Not sure what it is exactly, but it feels really abstract, needs to be more concrete, which you were doing well earlier.

quote:

Hey, you’re very pale. Are you alright?”

Please, I hate this so much, but if your character is experiencing something do not have it be told to us through dialogue. This right here is really weak. Make it strong by making it an actual detail.

Final Results; Not awful, truth be told. Your writing is serviceable, your details well chosen, characters realistic and interesting. It’s a simple story told well, so there’s not much more to say then that this doesn’t really reach for the stars. It’s fine and dandy, just kind of wish it was doing more. Pacing, everything was good, but it lacks being great. Oh well, still a fine story that I’m left satisfied with, but yearning for a bit more.

Fumblemouse

quote:

Daniel lifted up the cover and sneered at the sofa underneath, seventies orange stripes with springs poking out of the cushions. sigh“Not surprised she couldn’t give this one away,” he said. “Probably sold the good stuff to buy booze.”

Reading this, it works fine, but it just feels so plain. There’s nothing new or engaging about this intro, so why should I keep reading? There’s nothing here to make me care or wonder what will happen, no intrigue, nothing unique, just boring.

quote:

Mel remembered. While the priest intoned about the tragedy of mixing alcohol and cars, Grandma had been barely able to stand upright at the graveside. She had almost lost her balance when it was her turn to throw a flower on the coffin. If Daniel hadn’t grabbed her in time, she might have had one final embrace with her daughter. She's sworn to him that day to never touch another drop.

I like this paragraph, though the remembered part is pretty lame, and the last part is p. cliche. Otherwise, good details.

Final results: There’s some neat ideas in this, but a lot of it is way too heavy handed. Like, “oh Daniel is an alcoholic” and then Mel says “what if it’s a curse?” The dialogue in this ranges from passable to too on the nose. There’s a lot of moments where I’m just left thinking “what? why would somebody know this or say this?” Like, where they decide to bet on getting the estate on random chance and the whole thing is just resolved by them just saying sure. It felt weak, like you had no idea how you wanted to get to your idea, so you just made a flimsy excuse to justify it. Anyways, characters were pretty weak. Didn’t have much interest in them and they didn’t do much in the story, just talked for a bit. Also your ending blows.

22 Eargesplitten

quote:

Peter's sleán dug into the peat and met unusual resistance. “Hey, over here,” he said as he waved Michael over.

Boring opening. There’s some conflict, but “unusual” is stupid and not concrete at all. Describe it better. There’s a hint of conflict, but not clear at all.

quote:

Cutting peat was a living, but not much of one. If this was worth something, maybe Biddy could spend less time doing the putting-out and more time with the baby.

Hi there exposition, would you like to meet my friend the backspace key?

quote:

Peter and Jane had no child, but they didn't have much put aside for when they did either.

Sweet more exposition.

quote:

“Aye. There must be someone in town who'll buy it. Hold up, what's that?” Michael grabbed the hook from Peter.

Seriously, I hate this poo poo. Think about people and how they react. They don’t say “what’s that?” and then notice something. They notice something first, then they say something. When you do things like this, it feels really weak, especially when it’s attached to previous dialogue. Imagine your dialogue like a road. When I’m reading it, I know where I’m going. So when I hear “There must be someone in town who’ll buy it,” I know the general idea of what is happening. Maybe a conversation about who’ll buy it or whatever. And then suddenly you make a hard right turn with “Hold up, what’s that” and I have to swerve really hard to keep on the road. Don’t do that.

quote:

They started at the sound of each others' voices.

Huh, how?

quote:

Michael hadn't been afraid of the dark since he was a child

TELLING

Final Results: Characters are plain and boring. I don’t have much to go off of and no real reason to give a poo poo. So when you get to your surreal spooky poo poo, it doesn’t land because I don’t care what’s happening to the character. Then the resolution is pretty easy. “The hook is cursed! Now I’ll throw it in the fire. Oh, that didn’t work, so throw it in some holy water. Oh cool, that was p. easy to get rid of a hook.” No real tension after learning the hook is evil, no real chance for us to see the effect that the hook has on them.

Ironic Twist

quote:

Kirk had never seen anything vague, what is it? so small in his life without wanting to protect it or break it. so, like, he wants to breaks things that are small? or he doesn’t want to break things that are small? the double negatives are screwing with me understanding the sentence.

Final Results: your writing is good (well, actually, there’s a lot of telling that I’d point out if I was doing a line crit, but I don’t have the time), cool concept, blah blah blah, didn’t like this story. It feels utterly disconnected, that there’s a bunch of things happening and occurring and you screw around with time and bring a bunch of different ideas that I have no idea what your loving point is. Like, you start out with the bird, so I’m imaging, ok, the bird’ll be a big part of the story because you start with that. But the real story, at least what I feel like you were trying to make your story about, was this break up. And the bird plays almost no part in it. So then, I have to ask, what was the point of the bird? What are you trying to do? I can’t figure it out. The first scene makes no sense, the A’s and B’s and C’s thing doesn’t make sense, he gets the bird for no reason, just because you, the writer, just wanted him to have the bird. Feels incredibly contrived. I was hoping for something more to come out of it, and you do a bit with the old man having the bird, but it makes no sense since the old man somehow gives it to the protag even though he doesn’t know him. It has meaning, but then you just force it in the story, don’t let the meaning be a natural part of the story. Instead you say “this is a symbol. it is in the story because it is a symbol. if you don’t like, gently caress you.” There’s no focus. Just a bunch of ideas that you wanted to throw around in your story with no consideration as to what they were trying to do in your story. I liked parts of it, like the paragraph that starts with “The buzzing grew louder in Kirk’s head…” but those parts are weakened because there’s no cohesiveness, no set tone, no clear focus as to what is happening. I’m lost, not because your map is bad, but because you’ve highlighted twenty different routes to twenty different destinations and I have no clue which one I’m supposed to take. This actually hurts your story a lot, btw, because I wanted to stop reading because I was just getting tired of all these conflicting ideas and I was like “please, I’ve read 750 words, what is it that you want to say” and scrolled down to see how much you had left and sighed a little because I knew, I just knew, you weren’t going to figure it out.

Killer-of-Lawyers

quote:

Rhino I’m going to considered this saddest rhino fan fict btw lumbered through the twilight underbrush with grace befitting her ummm, rhino’s a dude. oh maybe this a gender bender fan fict! namesake lame. show us this. also rhino is a very graceful person, please. She swung her arms to and fro lol, what? i see her making like really exaggerated walking gestures as she trampled twigs and turf alike. The night suited her, there would be plenty of moon for the hunt. Wait, do rhinos hunt? aren’t they herbivores? or is she a person? maybe that’s it

Meh, this isn’t awful. There’s a hunt, so some kind of conflict, but the opening feels a bit lame. Like, the image is pretty weak and I have no reason to care atm.

Final Results: KoL, you have a way with your words, as in, they always make me think “meh.” I don’t know what it is. I guess I’ll say things I like first. I like calling the game The Hunt (although it’s pretty uncool that you dont capitalize it in the first paragraph, so it makes it ambiguous for the reader, like you’re tricking us. Actually capitalizing it in the intro would be a good idea because it makes some intrigue, like, why is the hunt a proper noun?). The themes of the Hunt, of capturing pieces and keeping them for yourself, works pretty well, and it’s a really good name. However, the rest of the story is pretty weak. The ending comes out of nowhere. Like, all of a sudden, you throw us that Rhino hates her name. You keep her true motivations hidden from us for some reason, when if you did that earlier, the rest of the story might’ve made more sense, rather than just another game that doesn’t seem that important. There’s a good amount of telling, so read my effort post in FA because gently caress writing that again. Most of the story feels obsessed with the game, while it never lets me look into the characters. Rhino has some characterization, but this feels like a bad story to focus on. Like, what does this mean for the character? What does this change? How is Rhino different from the start and at the end? I don’t mean physically, I mean emotionally. How does this change Rhino as a person? As it stands, your focus is on a wrong moment. Tell us a moment of your character’s life that defines them, changes them. What is the most important moment in your character’s life? Find that, and tell us THAT story.

flerp fucked around with this message at 21:52 on Sep 26, 2015

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!




So here's uh, this thing that is my cyberpunk mermen story

https://soundcloud.com/broenheim/cyberpunk-merman-2

If you don't want to hear me horribly read my horrible story, or want to follow along, there's also a google doc!

https://docs.google.com/document/d/103oGaChqKy5GMFuVtNDUo9VN_TbJYZSHlRfmyscrx4c/edit?usp=sharing

Ol Sweepy
Nov 28, 2005

Safety First


A true Christmas tale. - 1079 words

Christmas in Australia is different.

There’s no fireplace, no knitted sweaters, no Christmas hams or turkeys and definitely no eggnog. That’s right. Nobody is noggin’ at Christmas. It’s too drat hot for milk based beverages and the last thing you want is a roast when you have beads of sweat running towards your arse crack like they’ve missed an appointment. The less cooking the better.

For us that means fresh seafood.

Now there is no busier place in Australia than a seafood market on Christmas Eve. You have to get up so early in the morning people will think you poo poo the bed. This is important.

No not making GBS threads the bed, getting up early.

Because if you get to the markets and they are sold out, you will be sent down to the beach to snap oysters of the rocks for all the relatives.

We’re not a fat family by any means of the word. Seafood at Christmas is just taken very seriously in my family. Because no matter what they argue about over lunch, they can all agree that the food was good. Then everyone staggers to an armchair to pass out in a seafood induced coma, giving the younger of us a respite from the grandparents and great aunties arguing about politics, talking about their sciatica, or worse, the consistency of their bowel movements the week prior.

“Right boy, how many people do we have coming tomorrow?” Dad asked me.

I started going through the list in my mind. counting the aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.

“About fifteen I think,” I replied.

“Okay, I think about four kilos of prawns should do it. We’ll pick up about 20 sandcrabs and quarter them so everyone gets a quarter each and I’ll stash a kilo of prawns and a couple of crabs for Mum and I to eat the next day,” he said. He always overbought seafood when we had guests just so he could snack on the leftovers for the next couple of days.

We made it out of the market alive with oysters, sandcrabs and some of the largest, sweetest banana prawns you’ve ever seen. A quick stop by the bottle shop to pick up a slab of beer and we were ready for Christmas.

***

Christmas day came. Mum, Dad and I did the presents thing first up in the morning, like we used to when I was a kid, just the three of us.

Mum started to throw together some sides and desserts while Dad and I moved the trestle tables out of the shed.

The bloody cat kept getting underfoot while we were carrying the tables. His name was Panda, for his black and white colour, he was getting old but he could still move quickly when he wanted to. We’d adopted him as a stray when we found him eating off our compost heap years before. Now he lived the good life and took food as seriously as the rest of us. But as cat owners know that means demanding it by being an obnoxious, little jerk.

The relatives began to trickle into the house, letting themselves in through the side gate. The nibblies rolled out to keep people sated until lunch time. Snack pretzels, cocktail onions, cheese and charcuterie. Until the oldies started arguing about who was the better conservative politician and, being vaguely racist, as old people have the horrible tendency to do. That was Dad’s cue to bring out the seafood. The main event of Christmas in our family. Nothing would go to waste.

There is no gracefully way to eat cold seafood but it’s somewhat less graceful when you witness three generations of a lower-middle, income class family eating it. There was a cacophony of shattering carapaces. I could hear my grandfather sucking the last bit of meat from a crab claw. Mum tore the head of a prawn, she had a serious look on her face, more like she was pulling the pin on a hand grenade, she was on a mission. It was mayhem.

Eventually, the slurps and chewing subsided as my family slowly ran out of crustaceans to eviscerate. Granddad had undone the top button of his pants to make room for his full belly.
Dad got up to check something and came back with an astounded look on his face.

He came to me and said quietly into my ear.
“They bloody ate it all. All four kilos. Someone must have gone and got the extra kilo out of the fridge, Mum I and were going to eat those tomorrow, it's not fair!” he sounded genuinely heartbroken but I still had to laugh.

Then dad glanced at one of the bowls, beneath the ice was just a glimmer of a pink-orange colour. He pushed a few of the ice cubes aside and there were two prawns left.

We looked at each other and no words needed to be spoken. This was a father-son moment. As far as we were concerned, a virgin giving birth or letters addressed to Kris Kringle were nothing compared to this Christmas miracle.

We reached for the last prawns I plucked mine out of the ice and Dad was about to follow suit. A flash of black and white shot past us across the table. Panda had snatched the last prawn from my hand, bolted along the length of the two trestle tables and was making his way across the yard.

Now I’d be damned if I was going to let a cat ruin the father-son, Christmas, prawn miracle.

Without thinking, I snatched the first thing I could grab and hurled it at the cat.

It was the last prawn. Dad’s prawn.

Now if you know anything about prawns they are shaped in a similar fashion to a famous aboriginal weapon. As a result they are aerodynamically the same.

I swear this happened but no-one ever believes me. That drat prawn flew for about 7 meters, then boomeranged back around just missing the fleeing feline. But instead of landing back in my throwing hand in a practiced, Hollywoodesque motion. It hit grandma in the back of the head and,knocked her glasses off her face into the trifle bowl.

That was six years ago now and these days everyone laughs about the boomerang prawn hitting grandma. At least that’s what Dad tells me on the phone. I’m still not invited back to Christmas lunch because I wasted the last prawn.

Seafood at Christmas is taken very seriously in my family.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

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


Blank Slate
1198 words

Larry's mother had always insisted on two things: that magic wasn’t real and that pizza was the work of the devil. But Larry’s mother wasn’t here right now, her flight had been delayed, and it was his 35th birthday. So Larry, against his better judgement, ordered a pizza, sipped on his drinks, joked with his friends and family about how the pepperoni would be so hot he’d spit fire, thanked the waitress for the pizza, cut off a slice, playfully dangled it in front of his mouth, bit, chewed, swallowed, relished in the taste of spice and cheese, bit off another piece, coughed, laid a hand on his stomach, his bloated stomach, pushed against the pressure, pressure building up inside him, a foul swelling bubbling up from deep within his guts, up, up and rising like smoke, through his throat, and his nostrils and then Larry screamed and, in an ironic turn of events, breathed fire.

Literally.

"Hngrblooof," Larry said, because it’s kinda hard to say "Oh my God what the gently caress please help" when your mouth is full of pizza. And fire. Honestly, the fire was probably the bigger problem here. Larry had always prided himself in maintaining perfect enunciation while stuffing his mouth with food. Not that he’d ever had much else to show for. Plain office job and TV-dinner evenings, he wasn’t necessarily a major league player in the game of life. In fact, speaking clearly while stuffing his mouth was more or less his only forte, to a point where his colleagues had a running joke about how he’d never shut up about it, not even during lunch. Especially not during lunch.

But anyway. The fire breathing.

Flames shot out Larry’s mouth, hot pain searing him from within like his body had been turned inside out and pressed against the hot part of the stove. His face was a furnace, spitting hotter than Def Jams dankest lineup, which was a pretty high level of dank. At least the flames didn’t come out every body opening. But even that kinda burn catches up with you eventually.

Finally, the fire sputtered out of Larry like the last blips of fuel sputtered out the exhaust pipe of a dying car. He spat out the ashes. Fifty pairs of eyes probed him from across the table.

“Do it again,” someone said.

The door burst open and men in black armor stomped inside, their boots subduing the ground with an oppressive rhythm. They carried glistening glaives, with humming crystals shining a bright violet at both ends. The men came straight for Larry. Larry with smoke swiveling out his nostrils, half-eaten pizza in hand, shell-shocked Larry standing at his end of the table, staring at the stampede like a deer caught in the headlights of an ocean cruiser.

"Larry Finkleheimer," the biggest and baddest dude said. His name was General Burkins, and he was such a big, bad dude that his coworkers only called him “General Badass”, although they mostly did so behind his back because they valued not having their spines crushed. "You are under arrest for the improper use of magic."

"Wait, what?" Larry said.

"Men, take him away. And the others."

“But they didn’t even do anything.”

“The Secret Violet Order operates under a strict no-witness policy.” General Badass snipped his fingers and his men separated across the room, arresting people, cornering strugglers and squashing dissent with the ruthless efficiency of a riot police squad. Half a dozen surrounded Larry, raising their crystal glaives at him, prowling closer, ready for the sting.

Larry dropped his pizza and ran. A burning shock buried itself into his neck. He spun to the ground, collapsed into a miserable pile of human. Boots ran up and down the wooden floor. Panicked shrieks filled the room. Two strong men lifted Larry off the ground and General Badass read him his rights: he had the right to a quick death.

A faint wind tugged at the burned tablecloth. It carried a scent of incense, and lavender. General Badass spun around and said: “Oh gently caress.”

Larry’s mother blasted in on her broom, furious magical winds spreading chaos across the room. Some soldiers leveled their crystal glaives too late and had them torn out their hands, and the patrons dived at the lost weapons, or piled up on surprised soldiers, wrestling for their glaives or engaging them with chairs and cutlery. Fights flared back up and spread all across Luigi’s Bella Pizza Nel Pasta Per Favore, which was a stupid name for a restaurant, but maybe that’s because Luigi didn’t actually speak a single word of Italian. Authentic pizza my rear end.

The magical whirlwind picked up various slices, and Larry tore free and plucked a piece of onion pizza out the air, gobbling it down before his guards could stop him. They broke down crying as if they’d just been tear-gassed. A piece of BBQ chicken flew into his mouth and he hopped onto the table, light as a feather. His mother hovered next to him, directing her furious winds from above.

“What’s going on?” Larry said, stuffing a half-eaten piece of pizza into his mouth.

“I’m sorry, Larry. I should have told you sooner. Your father was a pizzaiolo. And I am a wizard.”

“Does that mean…?”

“Yes,” his mom said. “You’re a pizzard, Larry.”

It hit him so hard he forgot to chew.

General Badass gave off a commanding shout. He sucked in the winds and directed them back outwards, completely disrupting the whirlwind effect. He slammed his glaive into the floor and the violet crystals burst to life. The shockwave knocked people down all around. Patrons. Soldiers.

Larry and his mother.

Slowly, as if tasting the moment, General Badass stepped towards them, walking across stunned bodies. Larry turned on his back. His mother barely breathed. The attack had taken everything out of her.

“I’m sorry,” Larry said.

“It’s okay.” Her voice was a dying candle. “I love you, son.”

Larry looked around. There had to be a way out. There had to be something. Some kind of pizza.

Anything.

Just above him, face-down and halfway across the edge of the table, a triangular piece smiled back at him. Cheese, tomato sauce and herbs.

Margaritha. The blank slate.

“Any last words?” General Badass said. He lifted his glaive at Larry’s throat.

“Actually, yeah.”

“What?”

“Did you know I can maintain perfect enunciation even with a full mouth?”

Larry swallowed.

The pepperoni flames lashed out his mouth like a furious whip of vengeance, which, contrary to popular belief, is best served hot. General Badass recoiled and hid behind his shield. It gave Larry the second he needed. He kicked the table from below, propelled the slice of margherita into the air, caught it, and crammed it down his throat.

Soft mozzarella. Fruity marinara. Basil. Dough. Simple, and perfect.

Time stopped.

Larry blinked.

It was his 35th birthday. The men in black were gone. Everyone sat around their table in an orderly fashion. The waitress, pen and paper in hand, waited for him to say something.

Larry folded the menu, took a sip from his Coke, and said: “You know what? I’ll have the ravioli.”

worlds_best_author
Aug 23, 2015


Duck Blood Soup

(1032 words)

“Mom, what’s Tiet canh made of?” I asked, halfway through a bowl of what could only be described as deep crimson gelatin with bits of duck meat in it.

Mom sucked air through her teeth. She always did that when she knew she was in trouble. “Minh, darling, why do you ask?”

I put my spoon down and looked at her. “Why can’t I ask?”

She shook her head. “Son, don’t be ridiculous, we aren’t feeding you poison!”

“Then why won’t you tell me what’s in this?” I asked and wiped a bit of the jellied stuff from my mouth. Tiet canh used to be my favorite dish in the whole wide world. When I was that age, Mom would serve three bowls almost every morning: one for Dad before he left early in the morning to work at the duck farm in Puente Hills, one for myself before she dropped me off at my charter school, and one for herself when she came back before she left for her job at the pharmacy. I could only describe it as the most savory food imaginable, especially when she’d serve it hot with fish oil on cold winter mornings.

She shook her head and smiled. “Son, you are much too young to worry about what you eat, that’s your job!” She said and ruffled my wavy hair. “You worry about your studies and let us worry about these kind of things.

I knew she was trying to misdirect me and I wasn’t having any of it. I pushed my bowl away and crossed my arms. “I’m not eating it until I know exactly what’s in it.”

***
Saturday, Dad finally relented and took me to the farm. The first thing that struck me on the drive over in his pickup was the stench of duck poo poo. It was so pungent and omnipresent that it hung over like an invisible fog. I gagged the moment we got close. “You get used to it,” Dad said gruffly we eventually pulled into the gravel driveway of the farm.

The farm itself was was huge, bigger than any park I ever visited. Dad gave me a brief tour of the place, stopping only to introduce me to his coworkers and exchange brief pleasantries in Vietnamese. Outside of the owners, the farm itself was almost entirely run by people just like me and my Dad. I’d tune out by default any time someone was speaking Vietnamese since my parents never bothered teaching me the language.

The ducks themselves were housed inside a pen made of bamboo and a roof out of thatch. Some were swimming in the pond while others simply milled about in the open field as a farmhand corralled them with a bamboo staff. I immediately started fawning and made a beeline towards them as their mother flew in my face and attacked me, jabbing her bill in my face as I covered my eyes with my hands. “Mothers are very protective of their young,” Dad laughed as he finally pulled me away. “Come over here.”

We stepped underneath a giant canopy where underneath would be the source of my nightmares. It was a rack, on top was a board holding several funnels and on the bottom was a wide trough. A couple other farmhands were around covered in feathers and blood and I felt a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach.

Dad grabbed a random duck and violently shoved it down the funnel head-first. “Tiet canh is made from duck blood,” Dad said as he pulled the duck’s head through the funnel, “And here’s how we harvest it.” Dad pulled a razor-sharp knife from his overalls and slit the duck’s throat.

What I remember most wasn’t so much how red the duck’s blood was, or how gurgled it’s scream was, or even how pungent the metallic smell of blood was. What I remembered the most was how cold I felt. How I wrapped my arms tightly around my body because at that moment, I learned that my father, the man who raised, cared, and provided for me, was beyond a shadow of a doubt, a killer. A slaughterer. A mass murderer. And I was guilty of the same heinous acts by proxy in consuming the blood of these innocent animals. “Are you okay, Son?” Dad asked me.

I didn’t answer. I could only stare transfixed at him, like a deer staring at a wolf. Seeing how I was very much disturbed, he told me to go inside the break room and ask for some bread so that I could feed the ducks in the pond.

***

I spent what seemed like hours, tearing off pieces of bread into the serene pond and watching ducks and ducklings swim over to feed on them. The sight of them, these pure, innocent creatures, completely unaware of their eventual fates, stirred something in me. I got up from the pond. I knew I couldn’t save all of them but that wouldn’t stop me from trying.

The entire farm was surrounded by a chicken wire fence. Knowing I’d have to breach it first, I settled for simply snapping the post closest to the pen and bending the rest of the fence as close to the ground as possible. I then unlatched the back door of the pen and went inside. There were several ducks inside resting soundly. Taking a deep breath, I went inside and did everything humanly possible to scare the ducks out: I stomped, I shouted, I flailed my arms. I corralled the ducks out the back of the pen and towards the part of the fence I wrecked towards freedom. Somebody with large, strong arms soon scooped me up. I didn’t bother looking up, I knew drat well who it was.

Dad lost his job at the duck farm. It took months before he could find another farm to work at and by then, I was dropped out of my charter school and put into public schooling where I’ve remained ever since. Dad and I never saw eye to eye from that point forward and to this day, I refuse to eat anything including duck in it.

Guiness13
Feb 17, 2007

The best angel of all.

Seekers 1,197 Words

Prompt: Roast Mutton

---

I smelled meat roasting on the other side of the collapsed building. I sighed, and mist spilled out into the cold. My brother, Luke, crouched at the base of the mound, trying to see if we could climb up. Steel beams jutted out from chunks of cement at sharp angles, but I worried more about the narrow, jagged bits of rebar. If a rock slipped, I could be impaled on steel that’d been rusting for years. If I didn’t die of blood loss, it’d be infection.

“We should turn back,” I said in a low whisper.

“Shut up, Zeb.” He didn’t look at me. “We wouldn’t be out here if you could keep awake.”

My face burned. He was right. This was my fault. I’d fallen asleep during my watch. Men had come in the night, stolen ten of the village’s sheep, and killed the rest.

I looked up. A faint orange light flickered on the other side.

“Luke, we can’t climb this without something slipping loose,” I said. “They’ll hear.”

“No.” Luke turned. His eyes blazed in the dark. “We are getting our sheep back, understand? The village won’t last a year without them. We’ll be back on our own. Do you want that?”

My shoulders slumped and I shook my head.

“We can do this. We just need to go slow.” With that, he rose and started climbing. He put his foot down slow with each step, tested the mound. He crept along, but he was at the summit in twenty minutes.

It took me another ten to catch up. I tried to keep to the same route, but there was no way I could keep an eye on Luke and watch my footing. Twice, I put my foot down and the cement shifted under me. Both times I jerked my foot up before it could come loose and clatter down the pile. The second time, I smashed my knee on the block underneath me. I gritted my teeth and swallowed the groan that welled up in my throat.

At the top, Luke rested with enough of his head exposed that he could see down the other side. I inched along until I could see, too. For a moment, I worried we’d be spotted, but there was no even line along the ridge. It was just a ragged line of broken concrete and steel.

Three men sat around a fire just outside the shattered facade of a building. A thick leg ending in tattered flesh and gristle hung from a spit over the flame. One of our sheep lay nearby. They’d slit its gut and pulled the entrails loose. The fleece was stained near-black. One leg had been hacked and torn off. Uneasy bleats came from inside the building.

“We need to get close,” Luke whispered.

One of the men, huge and gray-haired, froze. He scanned the ridge-line. I held my breath. The man’s hand crept down and lifted a rifle from the ground beside him. Despite the cold, sweat beaded and ran down my face.

One of the others, a small man with long, dirty black hair, noticed the bigger man’s expression and stopped turning the spit.

“Seeker? You see somethin?” He kept his voice quiet, but it carried in the dark.

The Seeker said, “Quiet, Zach,” and kept looking. After a moment, he stood, came around the fire, walked halfway to the mound. He was looking directly at us.

Luke hissed, “poo poo,” under his breath and reached toward his belt knife.

“Friends!” the Seeker called out. His voice was a rumbling bass. “Come down and join us at the fire. There’s no need for you to look on in hunger.”

“Luke,” I whispered, “what do we do?” He didn’t answer. We lay there for a long moment with the Seeker staring up at us. My mind couldn’t accept that he’d seen or heard us, but fear lanced through me. What if he didn’t need his senses to know we were there? I stamped down on the thought.

I didn’t see any point in waiting. I pushed up slowly. The Seeker smiled.

“Hello there! Come down. Bring your friend.”

I looked down at Luke and shrugged. “We need to get close,” I said.

He glared up at me, gave a resigned sigh, and climbed to his feet. We made our way down.

The Seeker still held the rifle at his side, but he held his other arm out wide.

“Welcome! I am the Seeker. My friends here are Zach and Lev.” Both men nodded. Up close, Lev was broad-shouldered and scarred. “Who are you?”

I glanced at Luke, who scowled and stayed quiet.

“I’m Zeb. This is my brother, Luke.”

“Well, come and join us at the fire.”

Luke shook his head, but I just shrugged and followed. After a moment, I heard his footsteps behind me. Each of the men sat on a stone. I folded my legs under me and sat on the ground. Luke did the same.

“Why do you call yourself Seeker?” I said.

“It’s been foretold that my people will find a land without wreckage or disease. It falls to the Seeker to keep us alive until we do. I’m the seventh since the Great Dissolution.”

“And that calls for stealing sheep and leaving a village to starve?” Luke spoke through gritted teeth.

“My own people starve.” The Seeker shrugged. “Better you than us.”

I held my breath.

“We’re taking our sheep back.” Luke hadn’t moved, but Lev and Zach both reached for their belts.

“No, son, you’re not.” The Seeker sighed and reached for the rifle. Luke sprang to his feet and kicked the fire. Glowing embers shot into the Seeker’s face. He screamed and fell backward off his stone. Luke turned and launched at Lev, pulling his belt knife.

I turned and locked eyes with Zach. We both froze. Then he dove at me, knife drawn. I swatted at his blade, pulled my own, and jabbed out in panic. It drove into his throat. He went limp and I pushed him to the side. I scrambled to my feet in time to see Luke yank his own blade free from Lev’s body. Then I saw the Seeker. His face was a scowl and livid burns. He held the rifle to his shoulder, aimed at Luke. I leaped. There was a flash and sound disappeared into a high-pitched whine. I bowled into him. Something heavy smashed into my head and my vision swam, but I brought the knife down, again and again. By the time I could see again, the Seeker’s eyes were blank and his chest was a pulp of blood and torn flesh.

I pushed myself to my feet and staggered. My head spun. I found Luke on his back across the fire. A small, dark stain spread on his chest. Each breath was a ragged gurgle. I rushed to him, and he smiled when he saw me. He never said a word. I sat next to him until the sun was rising behind the filthy clouds, casting dim light over the world. Then I stood, and gathered the sheep. It was a long walk home.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Modern worldly poster

Bailing this week. The bad seafood was too much for me. Er, wait...

After The War
Apr 12, 2005

to all of my Architects
let me be traitor


Failure. I need to stop doing this.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




The Secret Menu

1191 Words

The first date had been going well when Anne pointed out a small fish and chips shack on the other side of the road. “Come on,” she said, “Go get us lunch. I'll take the Punjabi style.”

It looked more traditional than Indian-influenced to me. “I don't know if they even serve that.”

“It's on the secret menu,” she said. I shrugged gamely and walked over to the crosswalk to get there.

I ordered two plates and dug through my wallet for the proper bills through the mess of dollars, euros, and pounds. In almost no time the man at the counter held up a bag and called my number. When I reached to take it, another worker at the restaurant grabbed my hand and attached a handcuff to it. The two of them then manhandled me out the front door. The handcuff was attached to a heavy briefcase. I transferred the bag to my left hand and grabbed the handle with my right to take the weight off my wrist, then looked for Anne.

She had moved a few buildings up the street, but her bright blue vest and brighter red hair stood out well enough for me to find her. She waved. Then I noticed a black van, dodging through the traffic and heading right for her. She noticed it too. She reached into her vest and pulled out something that looked like a gun. She fired it straight into the air and a rope shot out. I guess it grappled onto part of the building behind her, because she then rose quickly into the air. The Van tried to brake, spun around, and slammed sideways into the building. Doors opened all over the van and large bald men in cheap black suits poured out. They looked around, saw me and the briefcase, and began running straight at me.

Having a bunch of men built like linebackers running right at me wasn't brand new experience. I played some college ball, as a running back. I ran, in the opposite direction. The van crash had brought traffic to a crawl, so I crossed the road right there. I took a quick look behind. They were still there, and gaining on me. I threw the bag of fish and chips at them. I don't think it even slowed them, down.

Anne was somewhere on the rooftops. I figured that was where I wanted to be. I spotted a fire escape and started climbing. Three flights of painted steel stairs, then a bit of light wall climbing to reach the roof. As soon as I reached the top I started to regret having climbed them. The goons were following close behind, Anne was nowhere to be seen, and there wasn't any other clear exit. The neighboring rooftops all looked far, far away.

The first pair of thugs reached the roof. One of them held a huge dagger. “Die, American spy!” he yelled with a strong accent. Russian? Bulgarian? Did it really matter?

“I'm not a spy!” I protested. “I'm just a tourist.” He threw the knife at my face. I held the briefcase in front of me. The knife cut through the leather but bounced off the steel underneath. I took off, running towards the edge of the roof farthest from me, hoping to build up as much speed as possible. I launched myself off the side.

The next building was a bit less tall, which made the difference between hitting the roof and falling to the ground. I landed, painfully and in a clumsy roll, but nothing felt broken. There was a propped-open door on the roof of this building, so I stepped inside and walked as quickly as I could down the poorly-lit stairs, almost tripping twice but managing to catch the guardrail each time. There was an emergency exit at the bottom. I'd never used one of those before, but I figured an alarm couldn't make things worse.

I staggered out into an alleyway. The door closed behind me, clicking locked from this side and silencing the blaring alarm. Three of the bald goons blocked the front side of the alley. I turned and saw three more advancing from the other direction. I held the briefcase in both hands, ready to use it as a weapon or shield for whatever good that would do.

Then Anne dropped down from above, upside down. She grabbed my torso and the bungee cord attached to her lifted the both of us up, a bit less than halfway up the building.

“Well,” she said once we came more or less to rest, each of our heads framed by the other's legs, “This is awkward.”

“Do you think so?” I said.

“What's in the room in front of you?”

I checked. “Looks like a hotel room,” I said. “Empty.”

“Good,” she said, “I'm going to need you to do two things. First, you'll have to hold on to me tightly, since I'm going to need my hands free in a few seconds.” I followed her instructions, letting the briefcase dangle from my wrist again. “Second, I want you to kick off the wall as hard as you can.”

I raised my legs and kicked them out against the large windowed wall. We swung away from the building, and at our farthest point Anne twisted, rotating us around one hundred eighty degrees. She let go of me and drew a handgun from a shoulder holster, then shot the glass twice, cracking it in spiderweb patterns. We swung back towards it and crashed through. She punched a button on her harness, releasing the bungee line, and we tumbled into the room and onto the king-sized bed.

Anne flipped around, straddling me. “I usually don't do this until the second date,” she said. She pulled out something small from a pocket It didn't look like any kind of key I've ever seen but it might as well have been one for how easily the handcuff popped off my wrist. She took the briefcase and sprung off the bed.

“So, what now?” I asked.

She reached into her vest and took out a small wallet, then pulled two cards out of it. One was white cardboard with a handwritten phone number on it. The other was a key card. She handed both to me. “We use room 343 of this building as a safe house. Go there and wait. In a few hours some boys from Five will be around to give you the all-clear. Then tomorrow we can see about that second date.”

“Really?” I said.

“What, you're not interested?”

“No, it's just, well, you're way out of my league, aren't you?”

“Look at me, Jay,” she said. “Can you even imagine someone who isn't out of my league?” She pulled off her grappling harness and dropped it on the floor, then headed for the door. I couldn't disagree with her no matter how arrogant she sounded. “You did better than most would today. And besides, you still owe me a plate of fish and chips.”

MaggieTheCat
Nov 7, 2010


The Singing Falafel

1,025 words



Alif was happy. He was happy because it was the last Thursday of the month, and that meant one thing: Falafels. He eagerly waited for physics to be over, his foot anxiously tapping the floor. As soon as the bell rang Alif bounced out of his seat and through the door. He zigzagged his way through the other students in the hall, until he finally made his way into the cafeteria. Luckily the line was relatively short today, not many students shared Alif’s love for falafel day.

As he waited in line Alif could smell the fried chickpeas and fava beans, rolled into delicious balls. His mouth started to water and his stomach gave a growl. “There’s a beast in your belly”, his grandpa would tease, a smile on his face, “We should feed him”. He thought of his grandfather then and how his house always smelled of pickled vegetables and olive oil. Once a week since he could remember, Alif would visit his grandfather. He would always find him in the kitchen, with a plate of falafel on the table. They would sit at the table for hours eating and talking. Alif would tell his grandpa how his schooling was going, and what books he’d been reading. He would ask his grandpa to share stories of his youth and growing up in Egypt. His favorite was the tale of how grandpa met his grandmother. “Again habibi?” his grandpa would say, “Very well, I shall tell you how I won your grandmother’s heart, but almost lost my life.”

Your grandmother was the daughter of the village butcher, who was also the biggest and cruelest man I had ever met. He wanted her to marry the spice merchant’s son, for they were the wealthiest family in the village. When we met I was a young and very foolish traveling food vendor, selling falafel in the village square. I was about to close my cart for the day and head to the next village, when I saw her, the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She was leading a pig through the town square when it suddenly spooked, and refused to move. Your grandmother tried to move the animal along, but it would not budge. I saw the distress she was in, so I took a few falafels and headed towards her. “Let me help you “, I said. I fed the pig falafel and quietly sang to it, and then grabbed the rope from her hand and started to walk the pig along the road. Your grandmother walked beside me, mesmerized. When we arrived at the pen, the pig obediently walked inside.” How did you do that?” she asked. I told her that no one could resist my cooking, or my singing. “Well I’ve heard you sing, but I must taste your food to judge for myself” she said, smiling. We walked back to my cart and I fried for her my famous falafel. After she had eaten every bite she said “I see that you are a man your true to your word”, and kissed me on the check. I knew then that I would ask for her hand in marriage.

The next day I went to the butcher and pleaded to marry his daughter. He laughed at me and said that if he ever saw me near his daughter, he would turn me into sausages. As I left the store, your grandmother beckoned to me from the alleyway. She said that she had heard me ask for her hand, and her father’s rejection. “I do not want to marry the merchant’s son”, she said “I wish to marry the man who can charm animals and people alike with his voice and cooking”. So we made a plan to runaway together and elope that very night. Little did we know that her father suspected our plan and gathered a group of men to catch us in the act. As we snuck through the village square in the dead of night, we were suddenly surrounded! “So you thought you could sneak away did you?” her father said. “Well falafel boy, prepare to die!”, and he pulled out a long carving knife and pressed it to my throat. “Wait!!” your grandmother shouted. “Let him prove himself! If his food impresses you, then you let him go unharmed, and I promise to marry the merchant’s son.” “Very well” he said, “let us all try the little boy’s ‘famous’ falafels.”
And so we went to my food cart that I had kept in the village square and I prepared the most important meal of my life. When I was finished, I gave each of the men a falafel, fresh from the oil. One by one each of the men ate until nothing there was nothing left. “That was a tasty treat”, said her father, “I will give you that, but I can’t take the chance of you interfering with my daughter again.” With that he pulled out his knife and advanced toward me. Suddenly, he stopped and started to cough, and then gag. The rest of the men began to vomit violently. They sunk to their knees, unable to quell the stream of sick gushing from their mouths. Seizing our chance, your grandmother and I locked hands and fled into the night. Within the week we were on a ship bound for America.

“How did you make them sick so sick?” Alif asked. “I knew that her father was a cruel man that would not let me live either way, so when I prepared the falafels I sprinkled them with a special spice” he said. ”I like to think that old goat never ate another falafel ever again”.

Alif was finally at the head of the line; he grabbed his lunch tray and sat at an empty table. As he bit into his falafel he remembered his grandfather who passed away last summer. His parents gave him a framed picture of his grandpa and grandmother together. The photo showed a smiling younger version of the couple standing in front of their newly opened restaurant called “The Singing Falafel”.

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


Oystermen
Words: 1155

Ivan scampered up the fence separating the alley he’d found himself in from the grocer. Omnipresent gurgling echoed through the once sleepy town of Teller’s Bay. With a final, strong tug, Ivan pulled his upper body over the top of the fence. Below he saw the now familiar sight of the Oystermen, with dozens of them shuffling about the boardwalk.

The Oystermen almost resembled rotting human corpses, with oyster shell growing in asymmetrical patches on their skin and in their eyes. Vivid memories of dripping viral-based gene vectors into cultures of Oyster cells flashed through Ivan’s mind. He descended the wall, still trying to push his memories into the back of his mind.

Only ten or so feet separated Ivan from the Oyster abominations. From this distance the flesh that once appeared rotten revealed itself to be healthy Oyster meat. The Oystermen paid no mind to Ivan as he slipped through the back of the grocery store.

Once inside, Ivan saw a dead Oysterman that had curled itself against a wet floor sign. Large gashes on its back and neck made it clear that someone killed it. Ivan stood for a second over the corpse, a feeling of pity building in his chest. They weren’t dangerous. If anyone deserved to be killed, it was him.

The memo from corporate flashed through Ivan’s mind. It was a simple GMO project; engineer larger Oysters that could provide higher quality meat. Simple enough, just cross various bivalve genes using a viral vector.

The virus that Ivan and his team choose, a modified E. coli strain, had been used with great success in previous experiments with corn.

Ivan walked through the puddles of stagnant water that flooded the store. The smell of rot wafted through the aisles, and Ivan felt himself almost overpowered by the stink. He grabbed a few bags of chips and stuffed them into the messenger bag that rested on his hip. The fluorescent lights flickered above Ivan’s head before going completely dark. Waning sunlight shining through the windows now provided the only light in the store.

Ivan worked his way down the aisles, grabbing various jars and cans along the way. As he stuffed a jar of pickles in his bag, Ivan read the label on an adjacent can. Even in the fading light, the letters popped out clear as crystal.

“Uncle Roy’s Smoked Oysters.”

A nauseating pit formed in Ivan’s gut. The pit grew as he walked past the remainder of the seafood aisle. Every single product had been contaminated. Exiting from the front of the store, Ivan watched as gurgling, choking Oystermen shuffled or crawled around the streets. Ivan averted his gaze from the miserable crowd.

Ivan turned his thoughts back to the day the news broke. The virus embedded itself into the Oyster cells, similar to how the mitochondria embedded itself into the ancestor of eukaryotes all those millions of years ago. The virus jumped from Oysters to lobsters, crabs, and fish. Now it pervaded the sea life of the pacific coast, as well as its human denizens.

And when it jumped, chaos followed.

A motorbike roared in distance. Ivan quickened his pace, his heart starting to pound. The sound of the approaching bike drew closer, and Ivan dove into a nearby alley. Peeking from the shadows, Ivan watched as the motorbiker pulled something from his coat. The biker stepped from his motorcycle and scanned the street. The dark masked the majority of his features, although he appeared to be wearing a thick, darkly colored jacket and helmet.

Ivan held his breath. An Oysterman hobbled from out of the shadows, towards the biker. Without a second’s hesitation, the biker levied the object he pulled from his coat and shot the Oysterman square in the chest. The unexpected noise made Ivan flinch. The Oysterman collapsed into a heap before the biker’s feet, twitching slightly.

The biker looked down at the spasming Oysterman before saddling back on his bike and taking off. For a moment, Ivan stood frozen in place. After a minute or so of silence, Ivan tiptoed out of the alleyway.

The broken down shack that Ivan had taken as shelter stood only a few more feet in the distance. Gripping the strap of his messenger bag in a vice, he took a massive breath.

“Just a bit further,” Ivan said to himself.

Viney weeds ravaged the yard around Ivan’s shelter. Watching his step, Ivan navigated his way towards the door. However, he caught his foot on a vine and fell flat on his back. The muffled sound of glass breaking made Ivan’s heart sink.

“Crap,” he thought to himself.

Struggling up to his feet, Ivan sensed something watching him. When he turned his head, Ivan saw an Oysterman looming over him. The Oysterman extended its arm out to Ivan. At first Ivan didn’t understand what it was doing, but it soon hit him like a bundle of bricks. It was offering to help him.

Ivan took the Oysterman’s hand, the bivalve-like flesh cool and unpleasant to the touch. However, he felt it help pull him up. Now back on his feet, Ivan gave the Oysterman a bewildered look.

“You, helped me. You’re still.. intelligent enough for that?”

In a slow, deliberate manner, the Oysterman nodded.
“I thought it would’ve destroyed your mind. But here you stand, still capable of understanding speech and everything.”

Again, the Oysterman nodded.

Ivan stared the Oysterman in its eyes. Despite the shell fragments growing out of his tear ducts, they still gleamed with humanity. Ivan’s eyes darted to the ground. The Oysterman stood there, his gurgles and groans forcing Ivan to look him in the face once again.

A tear dribbled from the Oysterman’s eye. The pure misery in his disfigured face spread over to Ivan, but he wasn’t able to stand it. The disgust, the fear, and the partially buried guilt settled in the pit in Ivan’s stomach. He rushed inside his shack.

The Oysterman pounded itself against the door, his groans taking on an almost desperate tone. Ivan pushed all his weight against the door. The Oysterman beat at the door, and hinges creaked from the force applied to them. After almost five minutes of pounding, all went quiet. Ivan slumped to the floor, exhausted.

Ivan forced himself from the floor, his entire body aching. He stepped from his shack, the corpse of the Oysterman sprawled across his yard with a gunshot wound in its shoulder.

Ivan walked towards the bay. He thought about the chaos he’d sown across the west coast and nation at large. He thought about the Oysterman he’d shun the previous night, the pain he must have felt and the short lived relief at finding something resembling a friend.

Looking over the clear waters of the bay, Ivan felt the pit in his stomach knot itself a thousand times over. With a final breath, he threw himself into the surf.

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!




http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=4064&title=A+Cake+Rising+in+the+Oven

flerp fucked around with this message at 16:46 on Sep 28, 2015

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Taking Your Order
580 words

“Hello-and-welcome-to-Split-Second-Southern-your-mother’s-a-how-may-I-help-you?”

“Yes, I would like one chicken burger, please—“

“Sorry, what?”

“One chicken burger, and I need it in a hurry.”

“No you don’t.”

“…excuse me?”

“You sure as hell did not come here, at two in the morning, an hour before we close, for a chicken burger.

“Erm—yes, I did, as a matter of fact. It’s for my wife—“

“I don’t care who it’s for, Mister, you didn’t come here looking for it.”

“Wha—I want to speak to your manager. Now.”

“Yes, this is she. I’m the manager, and the supervisor, and all the cooks. I’m the only person here at this ungodly hour, and the only people outside at this ungodly hour are the people who drove everyone else out of this city. Now you tell me what you really want or you can keep rollin’.”

“I told you, I want a chicken burger for my wife. She’s pregnant. I’m not looking to cause any trouble—“

“Bullshit. All those gentle souls who don’t want to cause trouble are locked away in their homes tonight. Behind a half-inch of shingles and three feet of concrete. All the liars. You don’t fool me, Jack.”

“Wh—my name isn’t—“

“I don’t care what your name is. Go home. Go back to your wife that you love so much.”

“I—I don’t—“

“Yes?”

“I don’t love my wife.”

“…Yes. I see.”

“We—I ran out of the Voxynol and bottled water last night. All day, I’ve been afraid to open my mouth in front of her. I can’t let her know how I feel, but if she asks me…”

“…you couldn’t lie, even if you wanted.”

“It’s—just—I’m a good person. I know I am. I think most people are, but when they put that stuff in the water—the terrorists—no one could pretend anymore. A glass of milk, a glass of orange juice, and a glass of truth serum, and suddenly you’re divorcing your wife over a balanced breakfast.”

Hah.

“It’s not funny—all she’s been saying is how much she wants to raise this baby with me, and I’m—I’m—oh, I want her to have a secret stash of pills somewhere. I want to believe she’s lying so badly.”

“…alright, then. I don’t suppose you want that chicken burger anymore?”

“No, no thank you.”

“Me neither. I don’t bring none of this poo poo home to my kids. All that ground up and pattied GMO Chicken-stein poo poo, no thank you ma’am. Why’s anybody need it to look like a burger anyway? Why do people have to plump something up and grind it down into a pulp and mash it flat to make it all presentable?

“…you have kids?”

“Yes, three of them.”

“Are you a single mother?”

“Is your wife a single mother?”

“…”

“…what did you come here for, Mister.”

“Um—“

“Spit it out. I’m not going anywhere.”

“I wanted to drive until I found a place where I didn’t have to lie anymore.”

“…Alright, then.”

“Wha—really?”

“Yes, really. I told you there weren’t any good people around tonight. No liars, either.”

“Alright, then, well—“

“Tell you what, you come inside, I’ll show you around, and whatever happens, happens. We can know each other’s names, so we know what to yell out when no one can hear us. But nothing else.”

Excuse me—

Hah. Y’all get so cute when you’re flustered. Drive around, please.”

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Jon Joe
Oct 19, 2011

GUESS WHO'S LYING


Grimey Drawer

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