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  • Locked thread
Jan 13, 2005

A dog begins eating a dusty old coil of rope but there's a nail in it.

Quidnose posted:

What the gently caress is happening to this thread.

I came back.


Aug 2, 2002

Quidnose posted:

Crabrock, I like your anger, please hit me with an angry flash rule


Aug 2, 2002

Nubile Hillock posted:

Mr. Crabrock? Umm...Mr. Crabrock? I know I didn't raise my hand b...but can my spaceship also be a bong??


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




Quidnose posted:

What the gently caress is happening to this thread.

Everyone screamed THERE'S TOO MANY RULES when I asked them what they didn't like about the last thread. So now I get to spend the rest of the year hearing THERE AREN'T ENOUGH RULES HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO POST IN THIS THREAD WITHOUT A LITERAL HAND UP MY rear end CONTROLLING ME LIKE A RETARDED MEAT PUPPET

I will murder the poo poo out of this thread I swear

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 00:53 on Jan 21, 2015

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




seriously im having a meltdown about how loving unfunny most of you are

I wish I could brawl you all at once im so mad

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Before I get into it, thanks to everyone who helped out by filling out the survey! Also, when I say 'good' or 'bad' prompt, I'm really saying 'a prompt that leads to successful weeks' or 'a prompt that leads to unsuccessful weeks', but that's a lot to type out.

The Reason
I thought about it, and while we've racked up over one hundred weeks of Thunderdome, we haven't honed our prompt-craft all that much beyond Man Agonizes Over Potatoes, the first Thunderdome prompt. Thunderdome superstar Stuporstar wrote a post about the first TD prompt, and why it worked so well compared to other writing prompts. I wanted to see whether or not the Thunderdome experience bears out what she said about prompts, and whether there's any more to be learned about what makes a good prompt versus a bad prompt.

The Theory
I wrote this down before I started the survey, so I could see how my expectations compared to the results. "Prompts that do well contain inherent conflict or conundrums. Prompts that require research also do well. Prompts that do poorly are assigned or general topics that don't encourage the construction of a story."

The Way
So, I set up that survey. Which weeks were particularly good, and which weeks were particularly bad. I got twelve responses. Since we didn't have a poo-poo week or a pee-pee week, I ended up with nine responses we could actually use. I tallied up each week, and marked down which ones came up more than once. We had enough overlap between different judges that everyone's tastes seemed similar, except for one disagreement on Week 124 (Fanfic).

(Not pictured: Crabrock grinding his teeth over how poor a sample size this is.)

This gave me a good idea of what prompts worked and didn't work, but I wanted to make some sort of category system so that I could compare similar prompts. I came up with six broad categories that most prompts had:
  • Assignment - Any time a prompt has a judge passing out something person by person.
  • Given Theme - "Write a story inspired by [concept]."
  • Given Plot Point - "Write a story where [event] happens."
  • Given Feature - "Write a story that incorporates [a specific item]."
  • Pick Your Own - Any time a prompt has people picking, either from a list or out of the blue.
  • Research - A catch-all for effort required beyond reading the prompt and selecting something from a list.
With these categories in mind, I created this diagram of which prompts hit on which categories:

The 'Sults
Using that table, we can see the sort of prompts that work well for each type.

Assignments are the most wishy-washy, since the quality of the assigned topics affects things just as much as the theme. What doesn't seem to work is saying "use only what I give you and don't do research", because that's what the judges said for Folk and Cocktail weeks.

A given theme works more often than not. When it doesn't work, none of the elements help inspire a story. (Genre fic about music, for example.) Some of these work because they suggest conflict (like Southern Gothic) or because they're ideas you have to put work into (fantasy without violence.)

A given plot point doesn't work when it's the only thing, because there's only one plot beat to work off of. The good weeks incorporated either pick your own and research, or a given theme to play off the plot point. The bad weeks used plot points that, taken on their own, might lead to most of the interesting story happening outside of the actual written story. (While this could have happened with the calamity week, I believe that one raised enough interesting questions to be good in the end.)

A given feature works more often than I thought it would have. Just having a given feature on its own ("write a story with a pumpkin") is clearly a bad idea because there's no story to build off of. When it works, it's either because the feature complements the theme (supernatural horror in a small town), or because pick your own/research forces enough effort in to picking a concept that it counteracts the effect of a given feature.

Pick your own and research are close enough that I can talk about them together. The phobias prompt could have done poorly due to not properly inspiring stories, or due to the relative lack of personal thought that had to go into the choice. A number of the good prompts required people to come up with some detail from their own life (a song they knew, a country they've never been to). The cat gifs/Craiglist missed connections prompt was the only one that needed significant work beyond reading the prompt but was also bad, and my assumption is that it had too many moving pieces and trying to tie it all together led to poorer responses.

Not included since it didn't fit into my categories: Said bookisms week. I think it's pretty obvious why that went poorly. "Hey, Thunderdome. Write bad on purpose." "WOOOW THIS IS A LOT OF BAD STORIES" who would have guessed

The Conclusions
In that post from Stuporstar, she said that a good prompt inspires conflict and makes someone ask "why?" The prompt "man agonizes over potatoes" does both. Someone is agonizing over potatoes, so there's got to be conflict, and when you hear that someone's agonizing over potatoes, immediately you start wondering why someone is agonizing over potatoes. It's not a common source of grief.

Stuporstar pointed to inherent conflict and wondering "why?" as part of a good prompt. These are totally true. From the results, I can pick out two more things that lead toward good prompts: encouraging consideration of the prompt (pick your own/research) and unexpected ideas. A huge portion of the good weeks had prompts that encouraged creative thought (fantasy without violence, adding or removing a sense, a competition in a country you've never been to).

At the same time, I got to get a closer look at prompts that made for bad weeks. They're usually well-intentioned, but they don't end up hitting any of the elements that lead to good prompts. It's better to have some specifics, it seems, whether that's a specific phrase to be inspired by or a specific element to include, since a couple of the bad weeks had prompts that suggested a plot structure, but little else. (Compare aftermath of a calamity, which was a good week, with something important happens at the eleventh hour, a bad week.)

One of the things I didn't expect to see was that just about every kind of prompt can work. The only ones that outright don't are the "include a pumpkin in your story" ones. The weeks that had that as an element were good despite that being in there, not because of that being in there. Most of my hypotheses were accurate, but I was wrong in thinking assignment prompts were bad. In fact, assignment prompts were one of the more even splits and seem to come down to the ease/quality of the prompt and its assignments themselves.

Djeser's Very Scientific Guide To Good Prompts:
Include one or more of the following:
  • An inherent motivation or conflict in the prompt. ("Man agonizes over potatoes.")
  • Raising questions to be answered. ("Fantasy without violence.")
  • Encouraging consideration or personalization. ("Pick an SA thread and write a story inspired by it, without twists.")
  • Unfamiliar or unexpected ideas. ("Fantasy without violence.")

Can you make a prompt that doesn't follow any of these? Yeah, you could--there were good weeks in the survey that were just good, like sci-fi with assigned vices or virtues. On the other hand, when it comes to not being bad, that's a bit easier.

Djeser's Very More Scientific Guide To Avoiding Bad Prompts:
  • Be specific.
  • Think about how you'd construct a story from your prompt.
  • Don't tell people to write poorly.
  • Don't tell people "write a story that must include x."

So, in the end, the results aren't far from what I expected, but it was still interesting to see in detail what can go into the prompt to encourage good writing. Sometimes, a week could just have a glut of good writers, or get flooded by a cabal of people trying to gently caress with the judges by writing stories all about the same character, but the prompt is where it all starts. A good prompt can get a good story out of unskilled writers, while a bad prompt can leave them struggling.

ed: This isn't intended to be like "don't do this" or "do this" or whatever, it's all just my own observations, and it's the judge's choice to pick any prompt at all, of course. I just wanted to look at prompts a little more closely and see what assumptions you can make about prompts that encourage successful weeks versus prompts that don't. :)

Djeser fucked around with this message at 01:18 on Jan 21, 2015

Aug 2, 2002

ok, any more stupid spaceship jokes and you get your word count cut by 250 words from this point forward.

If it gets any worse, i'm calling in the TD sheriff.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Where did the astronaut park his spaceship? Next to a parking meteor!

Why is there a cow in a spaceship? It wants to go to the moooon!

How do you keep warm on a spaceship? Use a space heater!

Why did the aliens land their spaceship in a vegetable garden? Because they come in peas!

What do you call a sad alien spaceship? A crying saucer!

If an athlete gets athlete's foot, what does a spaceship pilot get? Missile toe!

What do you get if you cross Santa Claus and a spaceship? A UFO-ho-ho!

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

also i'm in

May 1, 2007

My submission for the monkey-hitman brawl (be gentle with me, its my first):

1217 Words
A Night on the Cripple

Making my way to the lower habitat decks I was again struck by the irony of this bizarre existence. Here I am, a third-generation medical technician picking up blood-money for murder. The people I dealt with these days, thieves and killers, were supposed to be the shining beacon of humanity; grandchildren of the hand-picked crew of colonists sent, to spread mankind to the stars. How little it takes I marveled: A little overheating in the secondary power-plant, the loss of a few agri-hubs, and a model society turns into a living nightmare.

People were still relatively calm after the announcement of three-quarter rations, but as the remaining agri-hubs started failing under the extra pressure, more drastic measures were needed to preserve the mission. There were of course no human volunteers for the cryo-chambers, everyone knew the abysmal odds of coming out of those alive. Consequently, command ordered all engineered-organisms frozen to preserve the food supply. The engos might not have had full human intelligence, but they understood fifty-fifty, and didn't fancy those odds any more than the human crew. Even after hunting down and freezing most of the engos, the rations were cut again to half. That was the end of our little civilization. The experience of hunting and dragging their screaming engo friends and workmates into the freeze-chambers broke something inside most of the crew. Combined with the new starvation-rations, that pushed people over the edge. Those with extra mouths to feed would do anything to get more rations: theft, violence, you name it. In a little over an Earth-year, we went from a model society to one as ridden with crime as the old mega-cities of Earth we read about in disbelief.

Nowadays, the ship we once proudly called the Phoenix is referred to only as the Cripple. As order broke down, fewer and fewer components of the ships could still be maintained properly. My own diagnostic lab was destroyed over two years ago, and nobody needed a medical technician when the equipment he worked on was a pile of charred scrap. A casualty of yet another food-riot. After that, there wasn't much else for me to do than turn to the expanding criminal world in order to feed myself and Tommy. I've been hiding Tommy since the engo hunts because we were work buddies, I guess I have a soft-spot. I dont even remember quite how me and Tommy got into the murder-for-hire business, one thing just let to another. We were quite good at it as it turns out. I was the face, the guy who set up the jobs, picked up the payment, and carried Tommy to the necessary places in a large cargo-bag. Of course, my knowledge also helped in mixing the toxins Tommy used on his darts and needles to take out our targets. The agility and compact size which served Tommy's ancestors so well in Earth's rain-forests, combined with intelligence-augmentation created the perfect starship maintenance worker. Those same traits now let Tommy get close to virtually anyone, using the ship's web of vents and conduits. If we weren't partners I would probably be terrified of the little bastard.

I was finally at the agreed rendezvous, and leaned against a pipe to await the arrival of our client. This job was rotten even by our standards, and I regretted ever agreeing to it. Unfortunately, our boss Francis knew about Tommy, and we didn't want to risk pissing him off by refusing to take a job for one of his associates. This guy Alphonse was a real piece of work, a sadistic rear end in a top hat hated and feared in equal parts by everyone on his three hab-decks. If it weren't for Francis, I would prefer to have Tommy poison the rear end in a top hat rather than lift a finger for him. Still, Francis did order us to take the job, and some poor bastard I've never heard of before died last night, thanks to mine and Tommy's diligent efforts. A man's gotta eat.

At last, I heard approaching footsteps and Alphonse's greasy bulk appeared from around the corner with two of his goons in tow.

'He's dead', I started

'We know'

'Where's my cash then?'

'Lets just say you can start a tab for me' replied Alphonse with a disgusting grin 'I'm gonna need you to do a few more hits for me, and then we can talk about cash'

'That wasn't the deal we made, and it wasn't what Francis agreed to'

'gently caress you, and gently caress Francis. I'm telling you how it is now, because now I've got you by the balls'

'How's that?' I asked, already fearing the answer.

'Oh yeah, everyone thinks you're so scary, dropping people without being anywhere near. But my boys followed you, and we know your little monkey friend. You do these jobs for me and it stays a secret. You dont...' Alphonse paused for dramatic effect 'Well, lets just say that if I let slip you've been harboring an engo, they'll turn you both into popsicles'

'Is that how it is?' I knew that my choices were becoming more limited by the second.

'Thats right'

'Well how about you shove those jobs up your rear end, we work for Francis, not you' I hoped desperately that Alphonse would be smart enough to back down from the prospect of going up against my deck-boss.

'Looks like we got ourselves a feisty one boys' Alphonse inclined his head toward the goon on his left. 'Why dont we do the security-militia a favor and hand over this criminal. Its our civic duty after all!' Alphone laughed as his goons started towards me.

'If thats how you want it' I said as I frantically pulled my filter mask from a jacket-pocket and pulled it over my nose and mouth. The morons in front of me looked puzzled for a few seconds before collapsing on the floor and starting to convulse.

Half a minute later, long enough for the binary poison to decompose back into harmless constituents, I pulled off my mask and looked at the small vent covering on the wall across from me. The covering popped out and clattered to the floor. Tommy climbed out, pulling off his own mask and putting away the aerosol mixer. He jumped down next to the now dead Alphonse, and tilted his head slightly to the side.

'That went well' He said, his strange child-like voice conveying more than a hint of sarcasm.

'He didn't give us much choice' I answered. 'We cant have an rear end in a top hat like him holding a sword over our heads.'

'Whats a sword?'

'Its an old weapon from Earth. Like a long metal needle'

'Oh, so you can inject people with poison from farther away?'

'Something like that. Lets get out of here and try to explain this mess to Francis. Hope he's in an understanding mood'

'If not, the cans are still half full' Tommy remarked cheerfully, pointing to his bag containing the aerosols.

'Lets hope it doesn't come to that. I think we have enough enemies as it is. Come on, lets go' I said.

Tommy clambered back up into the vent to take his own route back to our deck. I turned my back on the three vomit-covered bodies and hurried off too. Just another night on the Cripple.

Oct 30, 2003

newtestleper posted:

Thunderbrawl CXXVII: Homage to Bleriot
Hammer Bro. vs Benny the Snake

17.5 hours left, fellas.

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007



Fun Shoe

Sam Wolfe: Monkey Hitman

Prompt: Hitman monkey finds no joy in his job

Words: 1,498

I waited outside the high school, cigarette hanging from my bottom lip. Bad enough I had to babysit my boss's kid -- even worse I gotta pick her up from school.

A knock at the heavily tinted window. "Sam? Sam Wolfe?"

"That's me, Rebecca. Get in -- make it quick, we got a long drive ahead." Longer because I have to put up with you.

The passenger door opened and in slipped a young woman. She gently placed her heavy bag in the backseat with a clank and smiled at me. "The name's Becky, Sam. Boom-Boom Becky."

Christ. "Whatever. Buckle your seatbelt."

She looked at me strangely, then at the complicated series of straps and levers that allowed me to drive. "So... what's it like to be a monkey?"

I turned and glared at her. "Gee, what's it like to be a nosy kid?"

"Not a kid," she said with a matter-of-factness that made my fur stand on end with annoyance. "I turned eighteen last week -- remember?"

Oh, I remembered all right.


A week ago.

"Francisco, I refuse to do this."

I'd said those words with as much authority I could. However, anything said by a Rhesus macaque -- professional hitman or no -- will certainly lack authority. But Francisco was a good guy; I knew him for years, even before my "accident." Surely he'd see the error of his ways.

"Look, Wolfe, her heart is set. She wants this -- she wants to get her hands dirty. And if she's gonna learn from anybody, I want her to learn from the best -- from you." Francisco gestured as I sat on his desk, my tail twitching uncontrollably. "Monkey or not, you're the best I got. You got control -- you keep cool. Rebecca wants to learn the trade, I'm not going to pair her with some sociopath that'd put a bullet in her head at the first sign of trouble."

"How do you know I wouldn't?" I hated taking such an antagonizing tone with Francisco, but I had to talk him out of it somehow.

"Because I trust you. That, and you don't use bullets." He gestured to my little jacket where I hid my tools.

I adjusted my hat and scowled. "You're a smartass, Frank."

There was a knock at the office door. It opened before Francisco could say anything, and she walked in. Rebecca's lips pursed into an O of surprise.

"You bought me a monkey for my birthday! Thank you, Daddy! Thank you!"

I bit my hat to hold back the torrent of verbal abuse. Goddammit.


"Are you still upset about that?" Rebecca looked at me, lips pursed, eyes downcast. "About what I said?"

"No." Yes.

"Look, Da-er, Francisco didn't tell me that you were a Transplant. He told me he had a surprise; he didn't tell me he approved my application to join the organization, nor did he say anything about pairing me with-."

"A monkey," I muttered, keeping my eyes straight ahead as we drove.

"His best," she corrected. "I grew up listening to stories about you and your hits. Other girls watched cartoons and played with dolls -- I watched spy movies and learned about the tools of the trade. He just never mentioned you were a monkey."

"I wasn't, up until two years ago." I let my mind drift as I talked, only paying the scarcest attention to my driving. "I was in jail for a botched job. Not for murder -- I had my assassin's license up to date, Francisco made sure of that -- but for robbery, a crime I didn't commit. The target had known some important folks, and they didn't take well to me doing my job, and all it took was a little greasing the police to 'find' evidence of a crime that didn't take place.

"As long as you go through the proper channels, assassination is legal. But if the hitman in question does something he shouldn't -- like rob his victim -- he gets the full sentence."

"So what does this have to do with you being a monkey?" She tilted her head like a stupid puppy pissing the rug.

"Everything." My tiny fingers gripped the wheel, and again I heard the droning voices of the lawyers, the screaming of the other inmates, my wife's quiet sobs over the phone. "I was gonna be in jail for life, and I got sued for everything -- and then some -- by both my client and my victim's estate. My family was destitute and I was desperate; when they approached me with an offer of parole in exchange for some medical experiments, I asked no questions."

I trailed off, remembering my voice screaming in my ears -- but it wasn't me screaming, no, it was a mindless beast whose body I now inhabited. I could see my body -- no, the monkey's -- naked, covered in electrodes, foaming at the mouth as it tore from its restraints and strangled one of the technicians. There was a shot, a scream. The body went still.

"Sam? You with me Sam? You're swerving." Rebecca eyed me strangely.

"Yeah." I took a deep breath. "Long story short, I'm stuck paying for the procedure as well as supporting my family, though they think I'm dead -- they think the money's coming from the organization's insurance."

Rebecca was quiet for while. Her talking grated my nerves, but her silence was somehow worse.

I tried to sound deadpan. "Still wanna join the organization? Maybe you'll become a parakeet, or a giraffe."

"Well, Transplants aren't so rare anymore," she said after a while. "You're not alone."

No, I'm pretty loving alone, I thought. "Whatever. Our target is Tyrus King, drug baron, human trafficker, all-around scumbgag. You dig up anything else on him, or did you skip your homework?"

Rebecca threw her nose in the air. "Who do you think got Daddy his address to give to you? I found out plenty about him, including his hobbies -- he's really big into Asian culture and Mexican wrestling. Lives in a pagoda, never leaves his home without his mask. He's crazy, but dangerous enough that nobody questions him."

"Great, I'm hunting a loving luchador," I muttered. "I need a cigarette."

"Not while you're driving," she said.



We arrived, and I parked a few away from Ty's pagoda in the country. I made Rebecca stay in the car. My small size made it easy for me to infiltrate, but the last thing I needed was a kid to get in my way.

I clambered up the side, sneaking into one of the open windows. I reached into my jacket and readied my signature weapon -- a specially designed air-gun loaded with paralytic venom-darts. A good shot would put a full-grown man under near-instantly, and if no antidote was administered within thirty seconds, death followed. Painless and clean. Effective.

I crept about, noting the hodgepodge of Mexican and Japanese decorations cluttering the joint, carefully staying hidden. So far, so good -- no guards, no security systems. Once I took the scumbag out I could get back to Francisco with his brat in tow and-

"Well, if it ain't Sam the Monkey Hitman! Boy, you shoulda rethunk this journey to the west!" An inhuman voice boomed as the lights flicked on. I looked upward, and my gun fell from my nerveless grip.

Flanked by a pair of burly men dressed as geishas was what appeared to be a tyrannosaurus rex in full wrestling regalia, complete with a custom-made mask over its massive head. A low chuckle rumbled from its throat.

"Thought you was gonna get one over on ol' Tyrus King, eh? Well, you're wrong, son!" The dinosaur threw its head back and roared, and the geisha pointed their rifles at me threateningly. "Tyrus King don't exist no more! I'm something better now -- something greater! I'm the meanest monster of the squared circle you ever met: Luchasaurus Mex!"

The dinosaur luchador gestured to transvestite geisha-guards with his stubby forearms. "Take him out, boys."

I was faster, more agile than they thought; I leapt from place to place, swinging to and fro while they shredded the room with gunfire, the colorful t-rex roaring and puffing his feathers in anger.

I didn't know t-rexes had feathers.

"Shoot the monkey! Shoot the loving monkey!" he roared one last time before a series of explosions rocked the building. When the dust and smoke cleared, I pulled myself to all fours and over the corpse of Luchasaurus and his guards I saw Rebeccea with a smoking rocket launcher in her hands.

"I heard gunfire," she explained. "I would have been here earlier, but this thing's heavy."

"What the hell, Rebecca?" I stared at her, still in shock.

She just smirked. "The name's Boom-Boom Becky, Sam. Don't forget it."

I hate my job.

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007



Fun Shoe

Not gonna lie, I loving love the idea of Luchasaurus Mex and I'm going to snag this story for future works.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Screaming Idiot posted:

Not gonna lie, I loving love the idea of Luchasaurus Mex and I'm going to snag this story for future works.

That's simply splendid, do go on.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




sebmojo posted:

That's simply splendid, do go on.

NOOOOOOOO sheriff you're only making the blather stronger

you evil traitorous bastard

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007


newtestleper posted:

17.5 hours left, fellas.

Math is clearly not one of my strong suits. This is gonna be awesome.

Also I only had time for this many drive-by crits:

chthonic bell posted:

Present tense, eh?
Your special emphasis on the mundane word "wrongness" doesn't read well. The first time I read it I felt like it was emphasized because you couldn't find a better word. I also tripped up at the "sharpest scalpel". If they need to pick the sharpest scalpel, it means some of the duller ones are unfit for cutting. Why would they keep dull scalpels around? I also don't buy that a partially decapitated goat that's been in a sack for a while wouldn't've bled out so much that some mere spasming would fling fluids.
I did like most of the dialogue, and the last couple of paragraphs of prose conveyed the intensity. The idea of casual, bantering, vaguely-british quasi-necromancers is a refreshing one. Normally the masters of the underworld are so darned serious. I also liked seeing their apprenticeship -- usually the necromancer is a well-established chap.

SadisTech posted:

Too many consecutive hyphens. Sea-spray ice-coated (the) Thane-hold. In fact, too many hyphenations in general. I can't quite get comfortable with the narrative tone you're trying to set. Also, proofread. At this point I'm actively uncomfortable with the prose. Gimmicks don't tend to work over extended periods.
Highlight: the concept of a madness that makes people autistic savants. And not much else.
Lowlight: the complete sentence: "Screaming, the creature."

Benny Profane posted:

So far, I'm impressed. I haven't read your story yet, but I also didn't read a preface, so you've got me on the right foot.
You say Maga had been dreaming when she heard words, which makes me think she was no longer dreaming at the time. "Was" has more immediacy. Also, I get that you want to have even Maga be surprised by the amount of time she's been down there, but "what felt like a very, very long time" is weak. If she had been down there so long that time had lost all meaning and everything had ceased to exist save hatred, that I would've dug.
I do like the Dying Earth trappings, but I'm always a sucker for such settings. I feel like you made a perfunctory nod to the age with its lack of trees but could've done better to make it feel natural -- the fact that the witches know there used to be trees there a thousand years ago is unrealistically convenient.
I could also tell that Maga wasn't going to do right by her dwindled-witches, but you didn't overstress that. You used the flash rule well enough, but sometimes people put such things at the end of the story in spoiler tags. In this case I was a bit spoiled on the ending since I knew about the flash rule a priori, and that's not fair to your twist.

hotsoupdinner posted:

First paragraph: it's cliched, but it's supposed to be, and I liked it. Unfortunately some pleasant black metal setting can't save you from the problem of the entirely predictable plot. There are a few nice supporting details, but no meat behind them. The conversations between the brothers feel a little stilted, and I don't know why the protagonist would be the only person to both not be overwhelmed with love for the ritual but also object to it. The class system was nice, though, and there were no fumbles. Just... nothing to engage the reader.

Megazver posted:

I'm just going to go on a hunch and get this out of the way before reading the second sentence, but: Proofread and think about your word choices. "die out from hunger" -> "starve", that sort of thing. Specific is better, shorter is more impactful. (For some reason I read "Corpsecunt" with the stress on the middle 'e'.) 7/4 is a perfectly acceptable time signature!
Most of it didn't work for me, but I wasn't put-off because there were a few pieces that did. Definitely the most Metal of the pieces so far, and I kind of hope in total. I did chuckle inwardly at the last laugh.

ZeBourgeoisie posted:

Nice throat line. I feel like the smell would assault Max before the casual visual pondering. Is Max not wearing shoes? Oh, ankles. Uh. I suppose there was a brief conflict and resolution with regard to accepting the job, but that didn't feel like a complete story, even if it read reasonably well.

WeLandedOnTheMoon! posted:

As opposed to that ogre? I don't know if I was supposed to, but I chuckled at the phrase "a handful of rear end". For inspecific reasons, I am genuinely interested in what will happen to Nils by the point at which he's recalling the market stall. Perhaps it's because, as we all know, it sucks to serve ogres. Not overfond of the word "demonesses", but I do find the image of succubi making aimless love appropriate. I don't dislike the choice of leaving the price to be paid to the devilman as the cliffhanger, but I'd say this piece's biggest weakness is that abrupt stop.

JcDent posted:

Magi! "let tiredness in" is clunky. Way too many random details in the second paragraph -- it doesn't so much build the world as numb my mind with Metal Adjective Proper Nouns. Ugh, I'm fighting so hard not to glaze over. I didn't read most of the prompts, but are you trying to sneak all the phrases into your tale? Well, I hope it amused you, but it was not a pleasure to read. Appreciable on a conceptual level, but I would've been just as amused (and not as brain-drained) if somebody had told me "this guy used all the prompts".

Schneider Heim posted:

I'm mostly with you and down with the spacefaring future, except the part where the needles still hurt and are needles. Jovian, nice. Interesting dream/hallucination. Well done in a small amount of words. I've empathy for the protagonist, was left guessing only briefly, and believe and am rooting for her vengance.

Benny the Snake posted:

Two "now"s too close together. The father seems mostly nice, then calls it a "damned" goat. Seems out of place at present. "fed into the bucket full of feed"? Ate from? Just a kid, eh? Molly's response to the second Neeeehh is cute. Your switch to the second person to describe the goat scream is jarring, and it's telling. A miniscule flock makes me think of tiny sheep; a diminished flock would be lesser in quantity. The rapture is abrupt, even if suggested, but it's not really obvious that the father was bad enough to warrant the villainizing he received. He's angry at a goat that almost killed his daughter and did kill his sheep -- I think that's kosher with the Old Testament, at least.

Nubile Hillock posted:

I like the telekittenic opening, but I stumbled a little on "Time creeped slowly here". Not sure why, but creeping doesn't feel like one of time's permitted activities. I'm a little confused, but that may be from having read too many stories. I do wonder where the guards or attendants of the freshly dead dude are. There's some decent imagery here and I like the exposition toward the end, but in my current state I can't tell if the piece is inherently confusing or if I'm just confused.

Oct 30, 2003

Hammer Bro. posted:

drive-by crits:

You're a hero.

Unless you fail me, then :byewhore: :10bux:

Aug 2, 2002

Djeser posted:

also i'm in

You have a 1750 word limit for your jokes.

May 1, 2007

Looking at my monkey-hitman story with a rested set of eyes, I noticed that I left out a word which changes the meaning of a pretty important sentence. Can I edit it in, since there is still time until the submission deadline?

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

Mr.48 posted:

Can I edit

Bad Seafood fucked around with this message at 09:57 on Jan 21, 2015

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Sitting Here posted:

All story posts are final. No edits, no take-backsies. Once you’ve submitted, your rear end is riding the train full speed to Fistville. We MIGHT use lube, assuming you don’t try to sneak back in and edit your entry.

I understand why reading the OP might be tough.

Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!

That Doof post, that's some irony right there :v

May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!

Ms. Crabrock, can I get a flash rule too?

May 1, 2007

Djeser posted:

I understand why reading the OP might be tough.

I asked because I read it. I wasn't sure how strictly that particular rule was enforced. I understand why not being a douchebag might be tough for you though. :)

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Mr.48 posted:

imma shut up now

good point

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


In. In in in in in in.

Gimme a flash rule

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007


newtestleper posted:

17.5 hours left, fellas.

Arg I'm so confused. 17.5 hours from when you posted that would be ~2.5 hours from now. Right now it's ~7AM NZDT. Yet:

newtestleper posted:

Deadline: 22 January 9:30pm NZST

The only way I can make sense of it is if you wrote PM when you meant AM, and NZST when you meant NZDT.

But my brain is frazzled and you're calling the shots, so I'm following your most recent decree to the 'T'. Two hours left to polish, polish, polish!

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007


Thunderbrawl CXXVII: Homage to Bleriot

Shades of Normal (1492 words)

It was another predictable day in Greyton. The adults were not hard, but medium at work, and all on track to meet their quotas. The overachievers showed up precisely five minutes early; the underachievers were exactly five minutes late. Lazy grey clouds kept the temperature a comfortable 75 degrees. All the children were at school, all the animals were in their yards, and all the mothers were with their babes. The population of Greyton was adequately content.

Suzie walked home from the fifth grade: down Straight Street, left on Linear Lane, and to her house on Rectangular Square. She placed her backpack in her closet, changed out of her uniform, and began her homework.

At 5:00 PM Suzie went downstairs for dinner. Her father had stopped working five minutes early; her mother arrived five minutes late. After a perfunctory dinner, they gathered in the den for familiar stories. At 10:00 PM, they went to bed.

Blue fades to green fades to peach fades to plum. A schizophrenic stone skips across a liquid rainbow, leaving explosions of concentric colors. A Parisian looks skyward as a boxy skeleton wrapped with rigid fabric strives to reach the eagle. Finely warped wood preens on its axle, confident of its place in history. The balloons deflate, knowing that never again will they achieve yesterday's renown.

Suzie awoke with a dizzy head. She remembered that something strange had happened, but couldn't recall the specifics. Her mother had left for work, but her father was still in the kitchen, sipping the last of his black coffee.

"Da~ad. I had a bad dream last night."

"It's all right, buttermint. What was it about?"

"Everything was all, umm... Well... The shades! The shades weren't black but they weren't white!"

"Now now, there are many shades in-between."

"No," Suzie stamped her feet. "They weren't shaped right! Not squares or cubes or triangles."

"Suzie, dear, there are more complicated shapes than cubes. Why, one of my current paintings, The Hexatriangle, is a fantastic construction composed of six adjoining triangles, each the same shade. I'll show you, but not right now. You don't want to be late for class."

Suzie puffed out her cheeks but her father returned to his newspaper. Frustrated, she finished her morning routine and traipsed off toward school. She tried to explain it to her classmates, but couldn't find the words. Eventually she grew tired of trying, and the comfortability of routine washed the memory from her consciousness. The rest of the week passed pleasantly and without remark. Then it happened again.

First I take a rainbow, you'll like those, and I add the shades of your world. Then I wrap it around a circle, the most perfect of shapes. I do this a second time, then a third, each with different colors. Then I lay them on top of each other and cut sections out of each one, so that you can see the relationship between realities. Listen to the lines and you will find the circles.

This time Suzie was excited. She showed up for class five minutes early, eliciting a surprised remark from her teacher. She was bubbly and eager. When she wasn't writing in her workbook, she deliberately left it at an angle neither parallel nor perpendicular to the edges of her desk. When she finished her whiteboard arithmetic, instead of boxing her answer, she drew lines of uneven lengths, connecting at irregular angles. The teacher gasped; her classmates giggled.

After dinner, instead of the usual stories, Suzie's father retreated to his studio while her mother escorted her to the den.

"Susan, sugar. How are you feeling?" her mother asked.

"I feel fine," Suzie said with some hesitation.

"That's good. Listen, your teacher called me today and told me something unusual. I talked to your father about it, and he said you'd been having strange dreams."

"Just the one," Suzie lied.

"Well tomorrow, instead of going to school, we're going to see a nice lady who'll love to hear about it."

Suzie bit her lip but didn't object. She knew better than to try to argue with her mother. The next morning they got on the maglev and went to the psychiatrist's office.

"Suzie, I'd like you to meet Mrs. Andreasen. Mrs. Andreasen here helps little girls when they're being bothered by things."

"I'm not being bothered," Suzie protested.

"I'm glad to hear it," the psychiatrist said. "Now why don't you tell me exactly what you remember, and we'll try to make things better, hmm?"

Dutifully, Suzie did her best to describe the images she'd seen in the first dream. It was very difficult for her to relate concepts that she didn't understand, but eventually she got her point across.

"That's very interesting, Suzie," Mrs. Andreasen said. "Your mother and I are going to step into the next room for a few minutes, but we'll have a treat for you when we come back."

Suzie fidgeted in her chair, trying to figure out why the psychiatrist's words didn't reassure her. A few minutes later the door slid open, and the two women walked back in.

"Here's a little candy from Mrs. Andreasen," Suzie's mother said. "She gave me a bunch, so you can have one every day."

Suzie popped it into her mouth and chewed on it. "It doesn't taste very good."

"You'll learn to like it," her mother replied.

The two of them returned home, since Suzie was excused from school for the day, but her mother then departed for work, muttering about overtime. Suzie still had the taste of sugar and chalk in her mouth. Without the day's assignments, she didn't know what to do, so she decided to look at that painting her father had mentioned.

She knocked on the door to his studio and waited to be admitted. When her father opened the door, he seemed surprised, but not displeased, at the interruption.

"What's up?" he asked.

"Can you show me that painting? The Hicksatriangle?"

"Sure." Her father smiled and dug through a pile of papers. "Here's a draft."

She looked at the print; six little triangles shaded and arranged to appear as a single shape. That's not right, a familiar voice whispered.

"That's not right," Suzie said. Her stomach wobbled and her head felt funny.

"What do you mean?" her father asked.

"The triangles-shape isn't centered. And the angles aren't even."

"Oh! I didn't think you'd notice. Yes, that old draft was a little clumsy, but I've fixed it up since then. You really have an eye for art."

Satisfied, Suzie went up to her room and began arranging her things. The bedsheets were ever so slightly off, and one of her shoes didn't quite line up with the other. How had she not noticed such imperfections before? She'd just have to be more deliberate.

When her mother arrived late that night, the entire house had been organized. All the furniture (except that blasted refigerator!) had been positioned equidistant from the walls, and was symmetrically opposed by something across the room. Suzie had laid all her father's prints across the floor of his studio, with active paintings positioned just so. Her father hadn't been able to withstand the determination of a ten-year-old, and had withdrawn to the tavern while Suzie's newfound energy played itself out.

Her mother stared with an open mouth.

"Did you do this?" she asked.

"Had to do it," Suzie said. "Things weren't organized."

"We'll have to tell Mrs. Andreasen about this tomorrow."

"'kay. I'm going to my room."

And with that, Suzie marched up to her room and shut the door, leaving her mother to admire her handiwork.

Suzie centered herself beneath her blankets, but could not remain asleep. After exactly four hours, without knowing why, she rose from bed.

Six steps to the doorway, turn right, five steps down the hall. On top of the toilet, open the medicine cabinet. That box there -- the chalky sugar. One, two, three, four. Don't gag. Wash it down with sink water. There, you've done it.

All of a sudden Suzie didn't feel so good. She ran down the hallway and pounded on her parents' door.

"Mom! Dad!" she cried. She continued pounding but the door quickly slid open.

"What's wrong, boxtart?" her dad asked.

"My tummy. My head. The new candy."

Her mom gasped. "Pablo, get the ipecac!"

Her father dashed off and quickly returned with a small vial. "Quick, Suzie, drink this."

She did, and for a moment she felt better. Then she felt worse.

After emptying her stomach, Suzie rolled on her back and slid to the side. She stared at the ceiling and the worried faces of her parents while the room spun circles around her.

"Suzie. Are you all right?" her father asked.

The blinding yellow of the ceiling lights intensified her headache.

"Suzie, answer us," her mother pleaded.

Circles. Colors. Suzie broke into an exhausted smile. "Yeah, yeah. I'm okay."

Oct 30, 2003

Hammer Bro. posted:

Arg I'm so confused. 17.5 hours from when you posted that would be ~2.5 hours from now. Right now it's ~7AM NZDT. Yet:

looks like I done hosed up. 12 hours 10 minutes from now. It seems I am no master of time. I am working out what to do to rectify the situation.

Fanky Malloons
Aug 21, 2010

Is your social worker inside that horse?

Mr.48 posted:

I understand why not being a douchebag might be tough for you though. :)


:siren: Mercedes Monkeybrawl:siren:

Not My Circus 1588 words (sorrynotsorry)


“Oh my God,” sighed Miranda, “If it’s that goddamned Brazilian again, I will lose my poo poo.”


“Charlie!” she called, “Phone!”


“Charlie get the goddamned phone!” she shrieked, baring her teeth.

“I’m coming, I’m coming,” Charlie slid out of the ring where she had been practicing elbow drops from the top rope, and waddled across the gym towards Miranda’s table.

BZZ- Charlie flipped open the phone, hit the answer button, and held it out.

Put it on speaker,” hissed Miranda, “how many times do I have to tell you?” She shook her head and scooted closer to the phone,
“Reni, I wasn’t kidding when I said I would add $50,000 to your bill every time you call me.”

Reni ignored her, yammering away in Portuguese. Miranda covered her eyes with her palms, taking deep, calming breaths while she waited for Reni to stop talking.

“”Allo?” he said, finally “Miranda, are you there?”

“Reni,” Miranda said levelly, “I am a professional, I know what I’m doing. Stop. loving. Calling me.”

She punched the disconnect button and stuck both middle fingers up at the phone.

“This one’s jumpy, eh?” said Charlie.

Miranda grimaced, “He thinks we can’t pull it off in Ciudad Jaurez. Says it’s too risky. I swear he only thinks that because I’m a woman.”

“Well, he has a point,” Charlie shrugged, tugging at her mask, “I mean, killing a pretty dangerous guy at a public event, where he’ll be surrounded by other pretty dangerous guys?”

“Don’t you dare take that off,” snapped Miranda, “and don’t you dare agree with that idiot. Everything’s going to go exactly according to the plan - we’ll do the hit, and I’ll get that sonofabitch who turned me into a loving monkey.”


That sonofabitch was Ramón Alvarez, a man who looked and acted like a backyard bred chihuahua on stilts. He was short, skinny, whined a lot, and had tried to buy Miranda a drink in a bar in Guadalajara, which she refused.

“Don’t you know who I am?” he pouted.

“Yes, actually,” said Miranda, “it’s why I don’t want to drink with you. Besides,” she smoothed her hair, checking her disguise in the bar mirror, “I’m working.”

Ramón sucked his teeth, spat, and turned away “Whore,” he muttered at her reflection.

“You wish.”

Unfortunately, who Ramón was was actually a pretty big deal. His infinitely more attractive and charming older brother, Hector, was a local crime lord with lofty ambitions, a man who dreamed of expanding his Guadalajaran drug- and human smuggling-based fiefdom to the rest of Mexico, and maybe even all of South America. He wanted to be the biggest of the big -- numero uno -- and Ramón was his numero dos. Though he lacked the gifts of beauty, charm, and the ability to see women as people, Ramon apparently possessed a large amount of skill as a witch doctor.

That skill, combined with Ramón’s evidently fragile ego, led to Miranda waking up the next morning in the body of a capuchin monkey, with a barely-legible note slipped under her hotel room door congratulating her on being “a peic of garbaj vermine”, because Ramón wasn’t blessed with skill of literacy either.

“Oh my gosh!” shrieked Charlie, “You’re so cute! I can carry you in my purse!”

“No, you can not.” said Miranda, staring in horror at her tiny, horny fingernails. “God, this is so embarrassing. It’s a good thing we finished that contract last night. Jesus Christ. A loving monkey. Who does that?”


“Did we cross yet?” asked Miranda from the depths of Charlie’s oversized purse.

“No, shut up,” Charlie whispered back.

“You don’t have to whisper. This is the Mexican border, they don’t care if you’re crazy.”


Miranda huffed and curled up in a corner of the purse, “Telling me to shut up, you shut up,” she muttered, plucking at her tail. She could hear Charlie talking to a border guard now. He was very excited to meet La Niña, the world’s only midget luchadora and wanted to know if he could have her autograph, and maybe a picture? Miranda rolled her eyes. Being a monkey wasn’t the worst thing that had ever happened to her, but it
was pretty high up on the list.


“Can I take the mask off, I’m sweating like a pig.”

“No, a luchadora never show her face.”

Charlie sighed, “As a Canadian, I want you to know that this level of heat exposure is literally torture.”

“At least you don’t have fur! Help me with my backpack. Do we have everything in place?”

They were backstage at the Reye del Ciudad tournament, getting ready. Charlie tightened the straps of Miranda’s tiny backpack, and scratched her ear.

“You good to go?” she asked.

“Yeah. You all warmed up?”

“Getting there” Charlie shadow-boxed, hopping from foot to foot, “I’ve still got time.”

“Okay. But don’t overdo it. You’ve gotta get back and deal with security fast ASAP after your match.”

“I know,” Charlie rolled her head from side to side, “I got this.” She held out her fist and Miranda bumped it.

“I’ll see you later then.”


The floor was sticky with what Miranda really hoped was just beer. She grabbed a discarded scarf as she worked her way towards the Alvarez brothers and spread it beneath her as she waited to make her move, watching Hector work his way up and down the rows in his section, talking business with his fellow lowlifes. His face lit up with delight when they announced the next match, featuring La Niña, and he hurried to his seat.

Miranda sighed as she prepared the tiny syringe of poison. She would never admit it, but she had the biggest schoolgirl crush on Hector. But a contract was a contract, and here he was in shorts and sandals as if the universe itself couldn’t wait for Miranda to jab a deadly neurotoxin into his lovely, exposed ankle.

“Sorry dude,” she whispered as she pushed the plunger home. The needle was so fine, Hector didn’t even notice.

Discarding her backpack, Miranda leapt up to the back of Ramón’s seat and then onto his shoulder.

“Hey fuckface,” she whispered in his ear, “Your brother’s gonna die if you don’t change me back in the next 15 minutes.”

“I don’t believe you,” said Ramón, not taking his eyes off the match. La Niña was dominating. Hector roared his approval, wobbled, and fell back into his seat. Miranda dropped the spent syringe into Ramón’s lap.

“You’ve heard of anatoxin-a? AKA the Very Fast Death Factor?”

Ramón paled, watching Hector wave his hands drunkenly in front of his eyes.

“I just shot him up with enough to drop a cow. You’d better come with me if you want the antidote.” Miranda hopped down to the floor and looked up at Ramón, “It’s not called the Very Fast Death Factor for no reason.”

The crowd jumped to their feet, screaming and cheering as La Niña pinned her opponent and won the match.


Back in the locker room, two of Hector’s goons draped him gently on a bench then stood gaping at Miranda.

“Get the gently caress out,” she snapped, “this is between me and little brother.”

The goons stared.

“Go,” said Ramón, “guard the door.”

“Alright,” said Miranda as soon as the door closed, “You probably have about 5 minutes, so I hope your little curse doesn’t take long to reverse.”

“Bitch,” Ramón hissed, “I should have turned you into a cockroach and then stepped on you.”

“Is right now really the time for regret? The antidote is in that locker up there, and I can’t open it with these tiny monkey hands.”

Ramón growled and grabbed an amulet that was hanging around his neck. Something thumped outside, and a high pitched wail was abruptly cut off. Ramon was muttering in a language that Miranda wasn’t familiar with, his eyes rolled back in his head. He dropped the amulet and crushed it beneath his heel, and the floor was suddenly much further away from Miranda’s face. She looked down and saw pink, human feet, then
she looked up and saw Ramón staring at her naked body.

“Ugh, are you honestly that much of a creep?”

She shoved past Ramón, grabbing a towel off the wall and wrapping it around her chest as she strode to the locker and spun the combination lock. She put together a new syringe, and pressed it into Ramón’s hand.

“Inject him in the neck. It’ll take about 5 minutes to start working. Maybe you can think about how to handle rejection better while you wait.”

“gently caress you,” Ramón whined, kneeling next to his stricken brother.

“gently caress you more,” said Miranda over her shoulder as she closed the door behind her.


Outside, Charlie was crouched, panting, in the midst of a pile of groaning security goons.

“Wow,” said Miranda, “How tired are you on a scale of one to ten?”

Charlie stood up and pulled off her mask, “What did you do?”

“I told Ramón I was giving him an antidote.”

“There is no antidote for anatoxin-a.”

“I know,” Miranda picked her way through the maze of splayed limbs on the floor, “It was potassium cyanide. God, Ramón is stupid.”

Charlie grunted in agreement, “You know people say he can turn himself into a jaguar though?”

“Yeah, about that,” said Miranda. There was a crash and a deep growl from inside the locker room, “I hope you’re not too tired to run.”

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007


newtestleper posted:

I am working out what to do to rectify the situation.

You let Benny have the ~12 hours, and you let me have a beer. Then, or maybe in the morning, you judge.

Oct 30, 2003

Hammer Bro. posted:

You let Benny have the ~12 hours, and you let me have a beer. Then, or maybe in the morning, you judge.

Seems reasonable!

Morning Bell
Feb 23, 2006

Illegal Hen

Mercedes Monkeybrawl

Exit lion, enter dragon 1455 words

When I was a kid back in London, Dad would read me the Jungle Book before bed. Kipling, he’d say, was not a socialist shill like other writers. Kipling was somebody who knew the responsibility that comes with power (father, a colonialist to the core), and he taught us how to wield it in an unforgiving world. The third tale - Mowlgi’s abduction by the monkeys - I hated most of all. Dad would finish reading, give me a whiskey-breath hug and stumble off to keep drinking, and I would lie sweating and awake - thinking of the gibbering Bandar-Log, too afraid to sleep and face them in nightmare. He named me Rudyard. Mum died in childbirth so she couldn’t stop him.

Years pass. Now: Hong Kong, docks. Exterior. Night. The Beretta is heavy in my hand, and there is only one monkey but he’s out here, in the darkness, and he's real. I’m thinking of Fox and Mouse and the extraction team, who didn’t make it. I’m thinking of Mei-Wu, who has died twice, now. I’m not going to make it through the night.

It all started a week before the Handover.


My ex-girlfriend's ghost had a royal flush. “Bahng seui”, she said, “motherfucker”, and took the rest of my chips.

The Pale Parlour was a blanket of smoke and the smell of something sickly-sweet. Bad techno pounded from a crackling speaker. The clientele were constantly smoking, lighting one cigarette from the dying embers of another. Ghosts, clad in silks, sat with them playing cards. Above us all, perched on a swing on the ceiling, a filthy monkey watched the proceedings with hungry eyes. Made my skin crawl.

A night's worth of whiskey made my head heavy. Fox had forbidden me to drink on the job, but Fox was dead now. Mouse and I found him outside our safehouse that morning, a red cord around his throat, half-full cup of coffee in his hand.

“You’re not here to play cards with ghosts, Rudy.” Mei-Wu said. We dated briefly in the eighties when she was still alive. Didn’t know what she’d done after to deserve after-life work here. Didn’t dare ask. “And you’re not here for old time’s sake.”

The Handover was days away and the town was a boil ready to burst. Exit lion, enter dragon. The former wasn’t leaving empty-handed if I could help it.

“Fox.” I said. “Who killed him?”

“You should not have come here” Mei-Wu said, and the eyes under those long lashes were so sad.

A gong struck. I checked my watch - midnight. When I looked up, the ghosts were gone. Closing time.

A scrape of chairs as the crowd rose to leave. An orderly - obese, foul-smelling, a concrete slab of a man - came escort me out the door. I dry-heaved in an alley, but nothing came up. When I slept, I dreamt of the monkey.


The Pale Parlour, where ghosts play cards and and stare, sadly, at the living. You came there for two things: to hire the best contract killer in town, who was rumoured to run the place, or to play cards with the ghosts. They weren't sentient being, exactly, more like recordings - the memory of a life scratched on vinyl, needle hiss smothering the beat. Hong Kong is pregnant with secrets, and these ghosts know too many.

Mission's straightforward. Somewhere inside were the ghost-stones, cradling the memory of each spirit, like computer diskettes. Turn a stone on, get a ghost for an hour or so. Wait a while, a day, maybe, and you can turn it on again and Casper's back with no memory of the night before. Great way to get some free workers who won't unionise. We were to get those stones out, and the boys in London get a bag full of Hong Kong's undead memories to chat with.

We broke into the Parlour the next morning. I was hungover, and Mouse was still upset about Fox - but she was young still, urchin turned thief turned agent, not enough kills under the belt. The place was disgusting in daylight, a bad sketch of a crack den, an old whore without make-up. Light reluctantly soaked through dirty windows. The noise of the city rose up - Hong Kong was anxious, a soundtrack of car horns and angry Cantonese. My head throbbed, and I needed a drink.

It went smooth at first. Mouse took out the guards with three well-placed shorts from her dartgun, and I disabled the security with the codes from Intelligence. We crept through, across, and downstairs, to the ghost-stones.

The basement was moisture and dust, no lights. Our torch beams danced through viscous darkness. That’s when I saw it: a cage, massive, and the obese orderly inside it. The monkey perched on top. Both were asleep, the fat man snoring loudly.

I turned to Mouse, nodded. We cut our torches and waited for our eyes to adjust in the dark, my heart playing jackhammer.

Mouse could see in the dark just fine. She crept past the cage, felt around the walls for what felt like eternity. Finally, I heard the click-clack of a safe tumbler. A minute passed, and she was next to me, duffel bag stuffed with the stones.

We crept to the exit, and it struck.

Mouse screamed, changed to a gurgle, went silent. I swore, flicked on my torchlight, went for my gun. The orderly was awake, screaming in Cantonese, banging on the bars.

The monkey? I backed up, back to the wall. I counted to three, flicked the light off, dove for the bag by Mouse's still form.

I felt claws rake my face, lashed out with the butt of my pistol, connected, and it was off me. The Parlour’s famous contract killer - a primate?

I grabbed the bag and the monkey struck again, biting my gun hand. I dropped the pistol, stumbled back. The ghost-stones tumbled out of the bag - heavy gems, the size of a cow's heart. I grabbed one, saw a shape speeding towards me, threw it.

It struck the monkey and shattered. It was Mei-Wu's.

A burst of green light. Flashes, fireworks. Mei-Wu's body, transclucent, hung in the air in front of me. Inside the cage, the orderly started bawling.

The monkey hissed. Mei-Wu's ghost turned into a hurricane of blue smoke, flew towards the monkey, sending it flying against the wall. Ghost-stone broken, Mei-Wu vanishing, forever, but not without a final storm.

I ran.


I contacted the extraction team, grabbed Fox's old gun from the safehouse, hot-wired a car and sped to the docks on outskirts of town. There was to be a boat waiting for me.

Docklands, night, blood smeared on the concrete dock, burgundy slick under a dim streetlight. Bullet holes in the jetty. Empty speedboat drifting in the distance, smoke coming from the engine, real slow. Not a soul in sight. I stopped to smoke a cigarette, watch darkness swallow the boat.

Went back to the car. Tyres were slashed. A polite cough came from behind. The obese servant from the parlour stood upright under the piss-yellow street lamp. The monkey wasn't there, but I could feel him was watching.

"It's over, Rudy" he said, voice hoarse and high-pitched. "Give me the stones."

I drew my pistol. He didn't flinch - probably figured he had me cornered - so I shot him through the neck and he dropped with a high-pitched wheeze.

I lit another cigarette, thought of The Jungle Book, and waited for the monkey.


He's out there. I can hear him chattering, hear his claws rake against corrugated iron. I stand with by back to the water, scan the docks with my pistol, knowing I don't have any hope. I've thrown the ghost-stones in the water - gently caress 'em. I'm dying for a whiskey.

Movement to my left, and something is racing towards me. I get one shot off, but it’s wide. The Beretta flies out of my hand, and there's a flash of red silk and he's on my shoulder, claws drawing blood.

I cover my throat with my hands just in time - a red cord appears around them, digs in hard enough to draw blood from my wrists. I roll forward to shake it off but my foot slips on something, blood probably, and I tumble into the water.

Freezing, cold. Splash. Panic. I gasp for air, but he's on my head, I can smell the wet fur, and he's pushing my face down, somehow, how could he? - and I try to breathe but I drink instead, and it's all salt.

I think of Mei-Wu, and then all strength leaves me - am I floating? - and I suspect my visage will be dealing cards at the Parlour tomorrow. Everything goes dark.

Feb 16, 2011

I eat your face

In-depth line crit for chthonic bell. Don't be intimidated by all the bold, this really wasn't a bad piece.

chthonic bell posted:

Defiling The Dark Corpses
998 words
I'm sure you could have come up with a better title for this story

Anzu Menelik lies on a table under a paraffin lamp, his head resting on a textbook of spirit-binding. OK, present tense. Seems to be a common choice in Thunderdome, but it's not standard and I'm not a huge fan of it as a default choice - I'm fine with it if it clearly works with your story, but this one doesn't seem to demand it. Ehh, just a personal preference anyway. At least you don't screw it up by constantly slipping into the past tense like most of the other entrants who tried it. He's a page's thickness away from a doze good phrase and link to the context, but clunky to read - deleting "away" helps when the basement door slams open, the patter of his twin's tread almost lost in the heavy beat of his master's. awkward - everything after the comma should be in a sentence of its own A pungent, unfamiliar smell you don't need 'pungent' here, of course it's pungent if it's reached him already. Better to convey the nature of the smell, e.g. 'putrid' reaches his nostrils and he gags, his face twisting. He's smelled a great many corpses in the past few years, but nothing like this. Your frequent use of italics in this piece is probably its most glaring issue. As a rule, avoid them outside of dialogue unless it's unclear to the reader which word should be stressed - i.e. very rarely. It surpasses even the revenants his master raises. He hops off the table, the high heels of his boots clacking on the floor.

"Darlings," he says. "What the blazes italics not needed have you dug up this time?"

Siris, his twin, grins and winks at him. Master Raimut remains impassive. Slung across his atlassian nice word, so he's huge and musclebound? Should be capitalised though - Atlassian shoulders is a sack too small to contain the human body Anzu had expected. This here is my biggest gripe with the present tense - it's hard to put bits in the past tense without sounding awkward. In this case "Anzu expected" (simple past) is the correct phrasing, but now it sounds a bit like you're slipping into default writing tense by accident. Anzu stares.

"No, ah, really," these italics are kind of OK Anzu says. "What--"

"You'll see," says Siris. Her grin broadens. "It's bloody amazing." Raimut gives her a sharp look and tosses the sack down onto the table. It splits, revealing a slimy, black-furred flank. The corpse smells worse than wet gangrene, with an undertone that bypasses Anzu's nose and twists his stomach. He gags again and turns away to dry-heave. Raimut snorts. This last sentence is blocking (basically stage directions, thanks sebmojo) for the following line. It belongs down there with it, not here.

"Really, Anja?" he drawls. Is Anja a pet name or..? Why is it italicised? This confused me. "Man up."

Anzu shudders and looks back at the corpse, not touching it. Whatever it had been has been, see what I mean about tense trickiness? "Has been" or "was" are correct, but sound weird. "Whatever it once was" might be your best bet it's mangled, missing half its head. Anzu can only tell for sure that it once had four cloven-hoofed legs. does it not anymore? There's an air of wrongness about it cliché that's not quite a real aura but not quite his imagination.

"What is italics not needed it?" he says, weakly. Siris shrugs. Blocking again, belongs at start of next paragraph

"We think it was a goat," she says. "Not the important bit. This was momentarily confusing - not the important bit of a goat? It's, er. A former vessel." italics not needed

"Vessel," Anzu repeats, with numb lips. Odd phrase He steps away from the table and tears off his fur stole and suit jacket, tossing them back over his shoulder. I can't interpret Anzu's action here, is he horrified? Preparing for action? "Vessel! Why didn't you say italics OK here if you're emphasising his campness so, dearest?"

Raimut crosses his arms, watching the twins with hooded eyes. This is blocking for the line spoken below - don't split them up

"I wanted you to figure it out for yourself," he says. "A little ... challenge, as it were."

Anzu barely hears him - he's rolling up his sleeves and hunting for the sharpest scalpel in the metal tray, I noted the same as Hammer Bro. here - what would be the point of a blunt scalpel? hands trembling with excitement. Aha, it's excitement - OK then He's never been so close to a formerly-possessed animal that was so marvellously intact. He's never even caught a glimpse italics not needed of one that wasn't a mess of bloody chunks and scraps of fur. The low spirits ride their victims hard. I like this line

He pulls the torn sack off the corpse and drops it under the table. Irrelevant detail and slightly unnatural - wouldn't he have to bend down/reach under to drop it under the table? Why not just throw it into a corner? Beside him, Siris leans on the table. Her grin has faded, but there's a sharp, hungry look in her eyes.

"All right, dearest," Anzu breathes, turning the goat onto its back. "I've got italics not needed this, so you just, ah, bear witness italics not needed, would you? I'll ... I'll examine it and-- and-- see where the spirit dwelt and--" He pauses to compose himself, resting a hand on the goat's chest. Through the whirlwind of excitement, he realises there might be a paper in this and laughs aloud. Let's see the Academy dismiss him as a profane butcher then! italics not needed. Apart from all the random italics this is a good paragraph

A faint, almost imperceptible pulse shudders under his fingers. Anzu glances down, frowning, and the goat strikes out at his nose with a hoof. He yelps and jerks backwards, almost falling over. He grabs the edge of the table, head craned away from the goat. The goat's legs spasm, kicking at the air. The remains of its head toss, sending blood and flecks of brain flying. A chunk smacks wetly into Anzu's cheek. The goat's body convulses, thumping against the table.

Either the spirit has not entirely fled the vessel or the goat isn't dead yet. You said earlier that half its head is missing. The latter doesn't seem like a realistic option in that case. Anzu's not sure which is worse.

He reaches out, hand trembling, and clamps down on the goat's neck, squeezing until he can feel its trachea crack. The goat arches its back, jaw grinding, ears flicking. Again, if half its head is missing, how does it have both a complete jaw and both ears? It rocks its torso back and forth, until it wrenches its neck free from Anzu's hand and falls to the stone floor.

It lands at Raimut's feet, the skin of its belly splitting open. Viscera, blackened and putrefying, spill over his shoes. Raimut wrinkles his nose and takes a step back. The goat shudders and rocks. The stubs of its hooves scrabble for purchase on the floor. As Anzu stands rooted to the ground in shock, the goat hauls itself toward him, jaw chewing. This is my favourite part of the piece - you nailed the descriptions and it's pretty horrifying

Anzu shrieks and throws his scalpel at it. The blade nicks its sole eye, bursting it. Vitreous humour sprays everywhere I get the feeling this can't be right, but I can't bring myself to google "sliced-open decaying eyeballs" but the goat is unimpeded. Anzu reaches for the heaviest thing nearby - an amputation knife, curved like a farmer's sickle. He brandishes the knife at the goat, preparing to throw it, too. Raimut chuckles.

"What do you think that's italics not particularly needed, here but you can get away with them going to do?" he says.

Anzu keens in terror. The goat crawls on, its intestines dragging on the floor, leaving a slug's trail of bile. The skin and muscle slough off its side. One of its back legs gently parts ways with its pelvis. The goat stretches its neck, jaw chomping, tongue reaching for Anzu's boot. This is awesomely graphic

"loving bind italics not needed it or something!" Siris yells, her voice hoarse. "Before it rides you!" These italics, on the other hand, are warranted as the stress would otherwise be on "rides"

Anzu kicks the goat, sending it skidding across the floor, under the table. He drops to his knees and pushes his thumb against the tip of the amputation knife. The pain shakes him, empties his mind. Teeth grit gritted, he smears a sloppy rune of binding on the floor with his blood. It comes out crooked, but the goat gives one last twitch and falls still. Anzu sticks his injured thumb into his mouth, shaking from adrenaline. The vessel is ruined, he thinks, blankly. There goes the paper.

Raimut grunts and shoves him aside. He picks up what's left of the goat and deposits it onto the table.

"How much," he says, "do you think the Academy will pay for a bound low spirit?"

You hit the prompt nicely, as expected, and achieved emotional range. My gripe is it's lacking in context, feeling more like an extract from a larger work. It's pretty good though and left me wanting to know more. Great descriptions during the action part - I felt suitably disgusted by the goat. The ending doesn't really work as an ending for me because, lacking a larger context, I can't guess the answer to Raimut's question.

Apr 29, 2012

by XyloJW

Mercedes posted:

:siren::siren:MERC-BRAWL 8: HITMAN MONKEY:siren::siren:

Papio Sapiens

1493 words













awareness new - awareness different - everything together - everything thoughts - aware

ursinus=name - ursinus=name keepers call - ursinus=me




I am

I am Ursinus


I hunt the human-thing. Not a human, this thing. Dead. Not alive, though like an alive thing. Moves like a human, looks like a human. Not smell. Smells machine. Smelled nasty. Rubber, the smell, like tires in my play-gym. Rubber smell. Others, too. Metal, glass. Nasty.

Man-thing walks through park - they call it that, it’s jungle made by men - like men do. Looking forward, around a little, never up. I can move up. I like moving down, on ground, but up is good too. In branches. The trees.

Cam said I kill human-thing. Test, he said. I get treats. Cam is always saying things, inside. There’s no Cam outside. Outside me. My head. Outside Ursinus, there’s no Cam. Katrina, she says Cam is a construct, thing that helps me. Not a human, but talks like a man in my head. I tell Katrina, okay, I got it. But I don’t. Cam is either human or not-human, but he’s in my head. It’s hard to think of, Cam. I let him talk to me, makes me feel not-alone.

I grabbed a branch, swung across to next, like so. I’m in front of human-thing now. Still doesn’t look up. Now, Cam tells me, now it’s time. Cam, maybe he’s not human and maybe he’s in my head, but he’s right. I drop from the branch, right on human-thing. On his shoulders. Human-thing falls, hard. Me on top. Heavy, Katrina explained before, sometime. Heavier than I was before. Before...awareness. Before I was Ursinus. As I hit human-thing, I feel rage. Red rage, bloody rage, defending my troop, my mate, my YOUNG. RAGE! RAGE!

My hands drip. The claw-things, long, sharp, black, come back into my hands. They were out. Did I put them out? Did Cam? I don’t know. The human-thing is at my feet, the head cut off. Liquid - not blood, smells different - spilled on ground.

Good job, says Cam. I did it. I did it right this time. The RAGE was good. The RAGE made me do right. But I don’t know. The human-thing - it’s not alive, but it looked alive, felt alive - it didn’t threaten me. It threatened nothing.

Katrina says I did right too. I look at her. Her white clothes - not fur, not skin, I learn this - her smiles, her talking. I feel the rage again, building. I want to tear her throat out with my teeth, not the claw-things in my hands, my big sharp hard teeth. I want to feel the heat of her blood on my mouth, taste it on my tongue. My muscles are tight, they won’t move. No, Cam tells me. No attacking Katrina. I can’t grab her, can’t bite her. She still shows her teeth at me, what Cam says is happy good thing for men. Not for us. For us it’s a threat.

I lower my head, then raise it. The way they taught me - the way Cam taught me. It’s a yes, a yes-gesture. Katrina holds out my treat. I take it in my hands. What she always gives me: a piece of dried meat and vegetable and fruit, all mashed together. And also a cigarette. I like them. But I don’t like the game anymore. Killing a thing that doesn’t threaten, for something that does. Katrina. And the others in white.

I light my cigarette with the fire I carry in my vest pocket. I smoke it, and I think. Other baboons - regular baboons - they don’t smoke cigarettes. They don’t wear vests, or have blades in arms, or teeth that cut thin metal. They don’t think. At least, not like me. But they also don’t do things for the humans. They don’t kill things for them. I was one of them, once. I don’t remember it so good. Cam says I’m better now.

Maybe I am. I don’t know.


Cam tells me it’s the male only, not his females. Just kill the male. He’s the threat. To me. To my troop. Cam says the humans in white are my troop. I don’t know if that’s right. But he says it.

I move in shadows, like a shadow. A camera waits to see me, to call for enemies. Hungry, threatening enemies. I watch it move, I stay out of view. Cam shows me the camera’s view - a wide red cone in my vision. I slip around it, and go up the hard concrete wall. With my hands and feet, I grip bumps and dents. Regular baboons couldn’t do this. They can climb good, but not like me. Cam said I have little spikes in my fingers and toes, that come out and help me grip. I can’t feel them, but I think he’s right. I get to the top, and see a park. Like my jungle place, around my gym. Around my cage.

This park is smaller. The trees are little, there are places for men to sit. Stones on the ground, making shapes. Water, a big stone bowl of water. Inside, a woman stands, no clothes, and she pours water out of something like my water bottle in my cage.

This park is nice. To look at. To smell. Cam reminds me of my task. My mission. I jump down, land in soft grass. I move across the little park, making no sound. There are more cameras out here. I dodge their cones, get to the big house. It’s like the building where my cage is. But nicer to look at it. It smells nice, too. I smell food. The house has many windows, all big. Some dark, some glow. Cam shows me the right window, he makes it green for me. It’s three levels up, I count. I can count now. I couldn’t before. Before awareness. But also after. Now I can. Cam says my brain is changing.

Cam says he’s changing too. I don’t get that.

I get to the green window. It’s not locked. I slide it open, sideways. Not up-and-down, like some of my practice windows in my gym. I go inside. It’s dark in here, but I can see. Everything’s green, different kinds of green. But the male, the target, he’s orange. Bright, hot. Full of hot blood. He’s in a big tub of water, bigger than my tub in my cage. He’s with two females.

I’m supposed to use my arm blades. They used to come out when I felt rage, but now I can put them in and out myself. With my thoughts. Cam said that’s not right, but I still do it. Katrina doesn’t know.

I don’t want to use my blades. They aren’t right. Cam is wrong. My teeth are right. I run across the floor, hands and feet on the hard smooth floor. I jump up on the back of the tub. The two females see me. They scream, so loud. They don’t stop screaming. I grab the male’s head, and he screams too. I bite, hard. I feel his throat open under my teeth, I feel his breath-tube shatter. His blood rushes into my mouth. It’s hot, and salty. Like the treats I get from Katrina. I shake my head, side to side, fast. The man stops screaming.

I’m done. The male is dead. But I want to kill the females. Stop them screaming, looking at me. But why? They didn’t threaten me. Not my mate, my young, my troop. I don’t have those things. Maybe never do. Cam won’t tell me. I ask, and he says other things. I ask and ask and ask. He never tells. Katrina doesn’t, either. She doesn’t let me ask after once.

I don’t kill them. I wash my face in the tub and leave. I dodge all camera cones and go back over the wall. I go home.


I did really good again, Katrina tells me in the morning. I’m a very good baboon. She gives me another treat, and more cigarettes. A whole pack, this time. She bares her teeth again. The good thing, the happy thing.


Rage. RAGE! She’s not good! Not happy! Threat! THREAT!

Katrina keeps me from my troop. My mate. My young. She makes me kill! Kill things that aren't a threat.

Cam says no, don’t. I don’t listen. My muscles don’t go tight this time. Something changed. I’m on Katrina, biting hard. I hear yelling voices, male humans. I taste Katrina’s blood. Then I hear loud pops.

Pain in my back, little hard things hit me so fast. Voices yelling my name. Yelling Ursinus.

The pain goes away. I see dark.

I'm Ursinus, papio sapiens. I’m free.

Aug 2, 2002

JcDent posted:

Ms. Crabrock, can I get a flash rule too?

i don't know why you asked my wife for a flash rule but she said "make them make up a space animal that doesn't exist and it has to be cat based but it can't be a real cat. just cat inspired."

Aug 2, 2002

Fuschia tude posted:

In. In in in in in in.

Gimme a flash rule

flash rule:

Apr 12, 2006

Mercedes posted:

:siren::siren:MERC-BRAWL 8: HITMAN MONKEY:siren::siren:

If You've Got the Monkey I've Got the Time
702 words


Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 03:15 on Jan 8, 2016

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012


Thanks for sticking up for me, Hammer Bro :tipshat: Make no mistake though--your rear end is mine, skippy :black101:

Thunderbrawl CXXVII: Homage to Bleriot

The Artist, in Madness

(816 words)

The worst possible thing that can happen to an artist is if their muse becomes silent--just as Prometheus bestowed illumination to man from the heavens, a muse whispers inspiration to her artist. One such poor soul hadn't heard from his in weeks. His studio, once filled with the most evocative and ephemeral paintings, was now completely filled with the failed attempts of his artistic vision. He was furiously stabbing his palette and slashing at the canvas with his brush, but it was all for naught. Cursing his muse, the artist continued to violently disembowel the canvas with color until he couldn’t take it any more. Enraged, he grabbed the canvass, snapped it in two against his knee, and ran towards his fireplace. After failing several times to strike a match, he finally lit a fire and threw his painting into it. He watched with sadistic glee as his latest abomination was consumed in the flames. He was so absorbed that he didn't notice how he was breathing in the fumes. Eventually, everything grew black and he fell, falling and falling faster and faster into the void.

When he opened his eyes, he found himself completely naked and floating in a sea of color. Not a sea of paint or pigment, for his eyes weren’t burning and his body was strangely buoyant. It was as if someone had melted a kaleidoscope and was stirring its contents around him. He was swimming in the most vivid and translucent colors he had ever seen, each one separate from the other and yet being carried by the gentle ebb and flow of the current. It would’ve been the most wondrous of experiences if his lungs weren’t burning from the lack of air. Propelling himself forward, he swam as fast as he could towards the surface where the sun was shining through. His movements became more desperate as he flailed his arms as fast as he could, for his body was getting heavy and his vision was becoming more blurred by the moment.

With a sharp thwack, he finally broke the surface and breathed in as much air as he could. Looking up, the sky was the deepest blue he had ever seen. It was completely cloudless, except for a single cloud almost directly over him. The artist could faintly hear music and singing as a ladder descended from the cloud and touched down right in front of him. Taking a moment to tread water and catch his breath, the artist grabbed onto the ladder and started climbing.

As the artist climbed, the singing and music became clearer. It was the the most illuminating music he ever heard. Higher and higher he climbed, his bare hands and feet getting weary and stinging in pain. He wept, for he knew that it was his muse singing to him, inviting him to ascend towards inspiration. He was so transfixed that he didn’t notice how the ladder was swaying.

Right as he was about to touch the clouds, he heard a loud crack. He looked down and, to his absolute horror, he discovered that the ladder couldn’t support his weight any longer. He screamed as the ladder finally collapsed from underneath him. He fell down to earth, faster and faster, the wind streaking in his air and blinding his eyes. Before he reached the bottom, he closed his eyes. He didn’t want to see the end.

Everything stopped. The artist opened his eyes. He was surrounded by wheels. Wheels of color. Wheels of color within wheels. Turning and turning, faster and faster, staying in place, going absolutely nowhere. The whirling became louder and louder to where until it overwhelmed him. He covered his ears as tightly as he could, but the internal machine kept moving, its dissonant noise now deafening. The artist collapsed, drawing his knees close to his chest, naked and vulnerable on the ground. He wept. This was his curse. The wheels were turning, but he wasn't going anywhere.

The artist laughed. What started as a soft giggle grew into a manic, deranged cackle. He laughed and wept, for this was his creative capabilities manifested--constantly moving but going nowhere. He looked up and saw his easel, complete with a canvas, paints, and palette. Mustering up his will, the artist got up and painted.

When the artist came to, he found himself on the floor of his studio, still wearing his smock, his face and hands covered in paint. It was all a lucid nightmare, he thought to himself and sighed in relief. That was until he gazed upon the canvas and easel. It was an abstract painting of colored wheels within wheels. The artist got down on his knees in prayer to thank his muse. Now more than ever, he realized that she was a cruel mistress and resolved to never besmirch her name ever again, lest he witness the madness again.


Aug 2, 2002

Benny the Snake posted:

your rear end is mine, skippy


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