|# ? Oct 21, 2015 12:25|
|# ? Nov 29, 2021 05:52|
judgin this in 24 hours if trex don't get the lead out
|# ? Oct 22, 2015 11:50|
|# ? Oct 22, 2015 18:02|
gently caress it, in
|# ? Oct 23, 2015 08:54|
|# ? Oct 23, 2015 16:46|
I am in.
|# ? Oct 23, 2015 19:44|
WEEK 167 CRITS
I feel like you were trying to build a sense of dread and fear of the unknown. But take the first scene, when we see the mysterious spooky businessman. The actual description of him isn't out of place or remarkable. The narration straight up tells us he's out of place. I understand what you were going for, or at least I think I do. It's like how, in a dream, you can look at something mundane and feel a sense of unspeakable dread. You know on an animal level that what you're looking at is bad and wants to hurt you, or something. I felt like this story was trying to do that, but somehow the descriptions didn't really add up to the mood you were going for.
Other than the fact that the protagonist is a parent and has migraines, they don't have a lot of characterization. I think horror is more effective when the scary stuff is contrasted with the relatable needs and wants of every day people. You need to show us what kind of person this is, so we feel for them when they're thrust into the horrifying unknown. The most interesting scene is when the boss shows up and probes the protagonist's meats. What the hell was he looking for? And this is where characterization would've been helpful. You certainly don't have to tell us what these mysterious men want, but you could've given us details about the character that might've provided some clues.
Here's the thing, Scridiot. You wrote a mini horror movie. The characters had horror movie personalities and made horror movie decisions. I didn't really like that everyone died at the end; by horror movie logic, the girl probably should've survived. The problem is, your plot relies on a lot of poor decision making. Your characters make a beeline for the worst possible outcome. So there's no real suspense. The other issue is...this is pure body horror. You describe the gross stuff well enough--I did like the scene where what's-her-face finds the tooth--but it's kind of like, once upon a time, some bad gross stuff happens to three dummies, the end. I think you actually understand tropes and movie formulas pretty well, probably well enough to do something interesting or surprising with them. Try to veer off the obvious path more often.
I'm really starting to believe that flash fiction should never start with procedural dialog. Launching, docking, logistical bullshit. I understand that you were trying to set up the scenario (that your characters are looking for an artifact), and maybe this is just a personal pet peeve, but honestly, it's just fewer words you can spend on the unique parts of your story idea. You can establish they're looking for an artifact in one sentence, if you want. Short fiction is unique because you can just straight up tell your reader certain things.
I found the dragonfly thing hard to picture. It's not that important, but it was something we briefly pondered while judging. Also, if Tala later shows up in a shuttle, what was the point of sending someone out into the desert with only rations and a small flying device? There was an aimlessness to this story. Does the obelisk just hang out, waiting to eat hapless mercenaries? This story had the same problem a lot of entries did; there isn't enough characterization or context to make me care about the horror. And tsk tsk, you had plenty of words left for that stuff.
I was not a huge fan of the blasé, smarmy attitude of your narrator. But hey, at least he had an identifiable trait. You made some good choices in some respects; you tried your hand at foreshadowing, what with the gun and the superstitious sherpa. But it was sort of like...ok, he has a gun and is ignoring the mutterings of their guide. So of course he's going to use the gun to shoot a yeti, or whatever. It's like, this wasn't sure if it wanted to be a horrifying survival story or a monster horror story. I did feel like the monster showed up too late and was dispatched too quickly. And it's not much consolation because the narrator is certainly doomed. I did think you had the right instinct in terms of pacing; you kept ramping up the stakes and the danger, which was a good call.
Human nature is the real monster! This was good. It was sad and gruesome. There's context. Omar has a reason to be where he is, doing what he's doing. He's stuck in hell on Earth with people who adapted by becoming as terrible as their environment. Even Omar's relationship with the silent Baako felt multidimensional. The ending was...well, you know Omar is going to die in that pit. But not without a delirious kind of hope. It's tragic, but not pointless and grimdark. All of the judges agreed, this was powerful and stood apart from the other pieces this week.
We all know what a dull office is like. You didn't need to use so many words drawing us a road map to some guy's boring desk. You could've started with the note, then the scream. Or possibly, you could've spent some time giving Grant an actual relationship with Frank (the antagonist). As it is, it's just a bunch of stuff happening to a bunch of people with generic names. The idea of "Saw" but in an office isn't half bad, but you have to zoom in on what this story is actually about--Grant getting paired up with Frank, then overcome by some sadistic, body-hopping demon, or whatever. This reads like the opening to a story about someone other than Grant. I could picture this as the beginning to some sort of paranormal TV crime drama--some backstory on the villain before we cut to what the real heroes are up to. A good short story, IMO, is like looking into a snowglobe. It's a tiny, complete little world unto itself that does one or two things very well.
This was my "pet" story of the week. I thought it was gorgeous. At first I thought the gray was a tumor, or possibly some sort of nanobot gray goo scenario. It could also be metaphorical; an analogue for depression or the death of innocence. Maybe it's a metaphor for homogenization in an exploitative capitalist economy. I could be anything! I actually really enjoyed the ambiguity. I like stories that wash over me in a wave of imagery and emotion. What REALLY got me was the scene at the end, where the child's blue eyes were the last bit of light and color in the world. My fellow judges had a valid critique: the gray's motivation is indistinct. I thought that wanting to exist in spite of the destruction your own existence causes was an interesting motivation--maybe if they gray had a little more remorse? Something that made it question its own growth a little harder. Maybe if it had been the gray's choice to spare the boy for a while? It's not entirely clear whether the gray is choosing not to eat him. I think a more distinct sense of agency on behalf of the gray would've helped, and the conversation at the end could've been trimmed to be a little less circular. BUT, I really liked this story, and I hope to see more if this sort of weird, emotionally evocative stuff from you.
OK, I love me some goddamned fungus. I shove fungus when it's shiny and pretty and lethal. I love fungal apocalypses. You basically unfurled your terrible mycelium in my heart and i happily breathed in the spore. I like shrooms, is what I'm saying. This was a little light on the characterization, but clear in its concept. I could picture everything. This was reminiscent of Stephen King's "The Mist". My critiques mostly revolve around what you could do with even more words. I would love to see more tension between the characters. As is, they're kind of an everyfamily--nothing to set them apart from anyone else. This HMed so obviously you did something well, but this would be even better with some more characterization.
This is an interesting take on something I saw a bit of this week: HELP, INSCRUTABLE THINGS ARE HAPPENING TO MY BODY. I liked this because your character doesn't experience any pain or fear. It would've been cool if you'd paralleled her transformation with a bit more backstory--some character trait that her transformation either parallels or subverts. If that makes sense? You did the "horror" part so well with so few words, I'm kind of sad there wasn't a distinct character arc. That said, the part where she tries to pull the splinter out, but it keeps coming....... . . .. ..
Yeah. I think this flirted with an HM, but it needs more meat.
Oh Newt. Newt newt newt newt. I didn't know this was you while I was reading, but I knew you'd been really short on time. I really enjoyed the first paragraph. It was eerie and sensual, and I was sure something fuckin cool and strange was gonna happen. I'm trying to think what I might've done, if I needed to slam out an ending with no time. IDK. It's hard to crit this because it just feels like a half-realized idea. Sorry bro. I know you got all kinds of winning stories in you, so just write those instead IMO.
So I guess some scientist created some portal and got stuck in some weird purgatory. That's basically the whole story here. You do a coy nod to some backstory; this scientist is probably not as innocent as he tries to convince himself and the reader he is. But all the context for this scene is basically glossed over. It's fine to write about a hopeless purgatory, but the story shouldn't feel like one.
Okay, so the voice was pretty distinct, but I think you took a bit too long getting to the wedding. And the whole time I was thinking, uh oh, something spooky is gonna be up with this wedding. And something spooky WAS up with the wedding. And that was kind of...it. This was in our list for potential HMs because of the jaunty tone, the capable writing, and the more-or-less complete feel of it. It was good humored without being too jokey, for the most part. I'm not sure how I feel about a novice philosopher literally marrying the void, was maybe too on-the-nose? But overall, a fun read.
I get the sense Peter is...avoiding something? And waltzes into an encounter with decay itself. This was beautiful and wondrous and grotesque. Knowing more about Peter might've pushed this into HM or win territory. I liked Miss Fall better than him; she seemed livelier, more dynamic. Which is ironic, given her nature. I liked the slight ominousness when she tells him she lives in "her" neighborhood. He's wandered into a dead place. How? Why? I don't know. I wanted a glimpse of the "real" world that Peter usually experiences. I wanted more information about him, something to parallel his experience with beautiful death and decay, and give it more meaning.
|# ? Oct 23, 2015 23:45|
Let me do this
|# ? Oct 24, 2015 02:02|
|# ? Oct 24, 2015 03:33|
Trex has perished beneath a meteor induced pyroclastic flow () so here's the brawl he was supposed to judge
It Never Rains Indoors
I quite liked this story when i first read it so you're doing something right, but it's wafer thin and you waste way more words than someone of your chops should on telling and frippery when you could have delivered the modest payload much more tightly and used the rest of your words to make that payload more interesting with character, dialogue, incident, w/e
ARE YOU READY FOR SOME SPORTBRAWL?!?!?!?!?!
these were both average to bad; i'm going to give it to crabrock, mainly for being less actively annoying to read.
|# ? Oct 24, 2015 08:39|
Sign-ups? Closed (like an hour ago). Let's get loveable!
|# ? Oct 24, 2015 08:45|
Arron and the Imp
Arron pushed his paperwork aside, the screams making it hard to concentrate. He stood and gazed out his private office window at a panorama of flame. Heavy footsteps stomped towards him before a firm, familiar grip squeezed his shoulder.
“Beautiful, isn’t it son?” Lucifer asked.
“Yes father, it’s quite beautiful.”
Arron walked down a lonesome street. As he drew closer to home, he pulled a flask from his coat pocket and took a healthy swig. Numerous eyes peered at him from shadowed alleyways.
“Bug off!” Arron shouted.
The eyes retreated into the darkness. Arron grinned and placed his hands on his hips.
“That’s right, scurry! I will not be burdened by the lesser.”
Fingers wrapped themselves around Arron’s neck, and a voice whispered into his ear.
“Is that so?”
Before he could react, something pricked Arron in the neck. His vision blurred and his legs buckled. He caught himself as he collapsed to the ground, but within seconds he blacked out completely.
Arron opened his eyes to find himself sitting in what looked to be a shed. He tried to stand, but ropes fastened around his wrists, shins, and chest held him firm.
The door creaked open and a female form stepped inside. She wore a maroon shirt and skirt, with floppy ears that hung down from the sides of her head like hair braids. It took a moment for Arron to recognize her as an imp.
Arron snarled and tried to pounce. However, the ropes would not let him budge more than a few inches.
“What is this? Don’t you know who I am, lesser one?”
The imp smiled at his struggle.
“Since you asked so kindly,” she said, “I’m Christina.”
“‘Christ,’ what a dirty sound!”
“Well, you can call me Tina if you like.”
“I’ll call you dead, for that’s what you’ll be in a moment.”
Tina rolled her eyes.
“Oh please, I knocked you out easy peasy, and now you can’t even break some lousy rope.”
Arron howled and spat at Tina. She arched to the left, dodging the loogie.
“For the son of a man of wealth and taste, you’re not very civil.”
“I’m quite civil when I’m not tied up.”
The imp wrapped her fingers around Arron’s hand and gave it a soft, subtle squeeze. If the situation were different, he would’ve found it quite pleasant.
“Have you ever thought about all those spirits, those human beings, that you torment and despise?”
“Bah, humans are worth even less than imps.”
“I’ve seen you staring at those damned souls before, and in your eyes I saw a twinkle. Not too bright, but there.”
Tina sat on her knees, leaning so close to Arron that her breath touched the tip of his nose. She lowered her eyelids and smiled.
“You had some sympathy for those souls.”
Arron lunged forward, almost catching Tina in his snapping jaws.
“I’ll feast on your innards for such an insult! I’ll have you and all of your impish clan roasted over a spit!”
“Mr. Arron, please listen. We must bridge the gap we’ve formed between ourselves...”
She trailed off, as though the words refused to cooperate.
“Now you invoke his name!”
“Please, Mr. Arron, listen. He’s slated to win. You can’t hope to defeat an omnipotent power.”
“You’re a fool. We will defeat him!”
“Your father already lost to him once.”
Arron sat still for a moment. Tina started to say something, but Arron interrupted her with a roar. She recoiled from the demon as he growled and writhed in his bonds.
A legion sounded off in the distance. Arron cackled as his saviors grew closer.
“Well, Mr. Arron, it’s been nice but I gotta run.”
With that, Tina slipped out the door.
The words of the heretical imp Arron met a day ago echoed in his mind. He sighed, put away his paperwork, and stood in front of his office window. He watched the souls as they wailed in agony.
“You had some sympathy for those souls.”
The imp’s words echoed in his mind. Arron pressed his hand against the pane with his gaze averted from the damned. A firm grip clasped his shoulder.
“Horrible what happened to you, son.”
“In more ways than you imagine, father,” Arron thought.
The imp haunted Arron’s mind as he walked home. He pulled a flask from his coat pocket and downed half of it in one gulp. He spilled the rest when he saw Tina standing at the edge of the street.
Her thin, lavender fur rustled in a light zephyr. Arron’s entire body shuddered. She ran towards him, arms outstretched. Her gleaming yellow eyes became his world as they embraced.
Arron hugged Tina close, her warm body snug against his. She touched his face, gently caressing his left cheek. Arron leaned in for a kiss, but stopped when her silky fur became as coarse as sandpaper. Burning cracks erupted over her body. Her lavender form charred into a black, disfigured lump.
The smoldering remains of Tina collapsed into ashes that poured from Arron’s arms and vanished on the pavement. Arron now stood alone on an empty street. He looked down at the dropped flask before dragging himself the rest of the way home.
Stepping inside his highrise apartment, Arron saw her. He also saw his father, standing next to the restrained imp and beaming with pride.
“We found her hiding in a cabin, not too far from where she kept you.”
Lucifer handed Arron a knife.
“You do the honors of gutting her, and we’ll roast her together.”
Arron stared at the binded imp. She’d been stripped and tied in black leather straps. Arron loomed over her, keeping up a frightful appearance. Inside, however, a sea of emotions raged. .
“It’s just your libido,” one voice whispered within Arron’s head.
“She’s a heretic and one of the lesser, kill her,” another voice said.
However, dissenting voices joined in with the choir.
“We’re dooming ourselves.”
“She doesn’t deserve this, no one deserves any of this.”
Lucifer’s voice finally cut through to Arron.
“Sometime today, Arron!”
Arching the knife over his head, Arron brought the blade down upon the imp. He chopped a large portion of her ear off, which landed on the floor with a quiet thump. The blade continued downward, striking the imp in her shoulder.
Tina, flinched, but then looked up with a grin. During Arron’s hesitation, she’d clawed at her bindings. As Arron lifted the blade for another strike, the primary knot holding Tina captive snapped.
Tina sprung at Arron, claws readied. Arron screamed as her nails tore into his face. Ichor poured from his busted lower lip, its bitter taste flooding his mouth. He dropped the knife. Tina scurried to the window and leapt from the sixth story apartment.
Arron wiped the ichor dripping from his face on his collar. For a moment he was enraged, but within seconds his anger melted.
Lucifer rushed towards the window. He turned to Arron with an expression that combined both fury and determination.
“Don’t worry son, we’ll find her.”
Arron didn’t say anything as he brushed past his father.
|# ? Oct 24, 2015 12:26|
“A Sprinkle of Love”
New York 1941
Two detectives pull up in front of a building. The sign reads “Sprinkles on Top Bakery”.
The older cop puts his hand on his partner’s shoulder, as he starts to get out of the car.
“Listen, you gotta be careful with this dame. She’s a sly one.”
“I’m sure I can handle one feisty broad,” says the rookie.
They exit the car and enter the bakery. A sweet sugary smells hits them as they enter. The bakery is small; a glass display case filled with various desserts takes up most of the space. Behind the counter, a woman bent over a tray of cupcakes, carefully icing them with yellow frosting. She looks up as the bell above the door rings, announcing the detectives’ entrance.
“Detective Stark, what a pleasant surprise! I didn’t peg you as a man with a sweet tooth.” Her voice is slightly husky, but playful. She ceases icing the cupcakes, and moves out from behind the counter. She takes off her black apron that is streaked with flour. Her floral dress hugs an hourglass figure, with long shapely legs in red high heels.
“Good afternoon, Miss Belmont. This is my partner Detective Powell. We came here to ask you a few questions about a string of robberies that have occurred in the city recently,” says Stark.
“Robberies? I’m afraid you’ve got the wrong lady detective. You see, I’ve reformed my immoral tendencies,” says Miss Belmont. She tucks a loose blond curl back into the scarf that’s tied around her head.
She smiles slyly, “well, most of them anyways.”
“So you know nothing about the 12 jewelry stores that were robbed on Valentine’s Day?” says Powell, trying to sound authoritative, “Your history of stealing diamonds makes you highly suspect.”
“I’m sure you haven’t forgotten when you and your boyfriend, a Mr. Tom Hicks, stole half a million dollars worth of diamonds?” says Stark.
“Oh, I remember quite well,” says Belmont. “And you couldn’t have forgotten either, Detective, that my beloved Tom ran off with said diamonds and left me high and dry. You know they say you can’t put a price on love, but I find a half million works about right.”
“Have you heard from him recently? Word on the street was that he flew the coop to Acapulco.”
“No, he never did write to me when I was locked away in Bedford. Three long years I was in that dump, not one lousy postcard.” she said.
“Tell me then, how does a convicted felon afford to buy herself a bakery?”Powell asked.
“This was my pop’s shop. He even named it after me in a way, when I was a kid he would give me whatever I asked for, long as I’d said ‘with sprinkles on top’.” Her eyes darken sadly. “My pop died while I was in prison. He left me the bakery in his will.”
“Let’s cut to the chase Miss Belmont. Twelve different jewelry stores reported a theft of a diamond ring. All the stores were very busy that day, and in the confusion of helping multiple customers, the theft occurred. Now, a woman who fits your physical description was seen leaving several of the stores,” says Stark.
“Can you account for your whereabouts on Valentine’s Day?” asks Powell.
“Hmm let me think, that was last Thursday correct? Yes, I remember now. I was here in bakery making a cake for a friend’s wedding. Beastly thing, six layers with tons of decoration.”
“Was anyone else here to vouch for you?” asks Stark.
“No, I was by myself. Valentines doesn’t appeal to me as much anymore, you may guess why of course. First time I’ve ever not had a fella on the day actually.” She eyes Powell suggestively.
“Maybe next year my luck may change,” she says.
“Well then you won’t mind if we take a look around then?”
“Help yourself, I live in the apartment upstairs. Try not to make too big of a mess, and mind my delicates hanging to dry in the bathroom,” she winks at Powell who blushes slightly.
The two detectives head up the stairs. Belmont goes back behind the counter and continues to ice the cupcakes. A short time later Stark and Powell return and begin to search the downstairs bakery. They open drawers and cabinets in the kitchen. Belmont hums to herself as the men rummage through bags of flour and sugar.
Coming up empty handed they return to the entrance of the bakery.
“Sorry for any inconvenience miss,” says Stark “we’ll be on our way now.”
“Anytime Detective. It’s always nice to have two handsome men of the law give me a visit, under any circumstance,” says Belmont. Powell watches her place the cupcakes in a box.
“Those are some mighty good looking cupcakes ma’am. Mind if I grab one for the road?” asks Powell, watching Belmont’s face carefully.
“Of course Detective, I hope you like lemon flavor.” She opens the box of cupcakes and offers it to Powell. “I love to see a man with a healthy appetite.” She glances at Powell’s slightly paunchy stomach and smiles sweetly.
Powell looks at her for a long hard second. “On second thought, maybe some other time Miss, don’t want to spoil my dinner.”
The two men leave the bakery. Belmont lets out a long relived sigh. When the door bell rings again, she looks worriedly to the door. A lone man enters the shop.
“Oh, Burnie it’s just you,” the sound of panic leaving her voice.
The man walks up to the counter saying nothing. He’s a giant of man with a long scar slashed across half his face. He places his hands on the counter, the size of oven mitts.
“Here are your dozen cupcakes, just like you ordered. Each with a little extra sugar baked right in.” she says. She hands the box of cupcakes to the monstrous man.
“I hope you enjoy them before your trip to Acapulco.” She says.
“Any special message you want me to deliver, when I get there?” he asks
“Yes, make sure to tell him that his little cupcake sends her love.”
|# ? Oct 24, 2015 23:45|
hear ye hear ye
let it be known to all and sundry that the ignoble wretch commonly called sitting here did not even slightly deserve her last brawl win against me, by virtue of not writing a story. i thus formally request that she
calling the moderately honorable ironic twist to judge: we await your prompt.
|# ? Oct 25, 2015 02:47|
Your main character must find something, and then lose it again. Your main character must also dance at some point in the story.
Max 2000 words. Deadline: Saturday, Nov 7th, 2359 PST
|# ? Oct 25, 2015 02:49|
hear ye hear ye
|# ? Oct 25, 2015 02:57|
I will fight the winner, with the loser as judge
|# ? Oct 25, 2015 03:31|
Give Him the Finger
Prompt: Loveable rogue
The mech trundled to a stop before the bar, its hatch popping open with a pneumatic hiss. A larger woman of middling age clambered out and fell to the ground with a curse.
"Dammit Jock, you shifted on purpose!" She got to her feet and kicked the machine's leg.
"I admit nothing," the mech rumbled. The woman glared.
"I swear to god -- swear to god! -- I will part you out for beer money!"
"A pilot is nothing without her mech." Pride and resentment squeezed through in his robotic bass. Jock gestured with his rifle. "You have an admirer."
The woman found a nervous young man behind her, and her scowl became a smile more awkward than beguiling. "Care to buy a girl a drink, baby?"
The young man promptly coughed and handed her a paper. "Mr. Oldman sent me for you, ma'am. You're Rosemary Brown?"
"That's Rosie, pal," she snarled, snatching the paper away. She furrowed her brow as she read the words, muttering. "Looks like I got a job opportunity already." She saw the boy run off. She cursed.
"Another lonely night," said Jock, holstering his rivet-rifle and lowering himself to the ground with a hiss.
"Just means I gotta take care of myself again on the road. Why else would they call it a cockpit, eh?" Rosie grinned nastily at the mech, and it visibly shuddered.
"You're shameless. Check the job, and let me rest." Jock rumbled. "And see if you can get me cleaned and oiled. I have sand in my joints. It chafes."
Rosie had only just met Mr. Oldman, but she didn't like him. He had soft hands, no meat on his bones, and a haughty bearing that she wanted to wipe away with her fist.
"So," Oldman said, adjusting his glasses and smoothing back his graying hair, "you fought in the war? Which side?"
"Does it matter?" Rosie rolled herself a cigarette from the desiccated remains of dozens of others she saved in her pocket. She lit it and took a deep pull of the sour, stale tobacco and blew smoke in Oldman's direction. "Nobody won."
"Just curious," Oldman said, gesturing for his thugs to stand down; they had reached for their weapons at Rosie's disrespect. "Either way, I've heard a lot."
"Oh?" Rosie puffed her chest out with pride, a slow, easy grin rising to her lips.
"Mostly police reports for destruction of public property, public intoxication, and if I read this right," Oldman shuffled the papers before him and leaned in close, "public indecency."
"Misunderstandings!" Rosie smacked the table. "'Sides, I got nothing nobody ain't seen before."
"I believe you," Oldman smarmed with an infuriating smile. "But in addition to those... misunderstandings, I understand you're a skilled mech pilot, and that you know how to get things done."
"drat right," she said. "What's the job?"
"I'm a man of means, Ms. Brown, but I wasn't always so fortunate." Oldman sucked at his teeth. "I used to be a poor farmer outside town. I had a family whom I loved dearly. But bandits came, robbed us, and left us for dead. I survived -- my family, unfortunately, did not.
"The bandits are gone now, save the leader. A nig-," Oldman caught himself and coughed, looking and gesturing at Rosie, who glared. "A... fellow like yourself named Silas Roth. I remember clear as day his 'parting gift' as I lay bleeding outside my home."
Oldman's right hand shot up, middle digit upraised, fist shaking for emphasis. "The bastard showed me the finger as we bled -- and I want you to get it for me! Bring me that finger!"
Rosie thought for a moment. "I want hard currency. Most places won't take anything but bills and coin now."
Oldman nodded. "Fine. I'll even re-supply you."
Rosie solemnly spat into her palm and offered it to him. "You got a deal."
"You still didn't get me oiled," Jock protested as they headed to Silas's hideout. "And I need a saline-glucose reload."
Rosie smacked the pod beside her seat and rolled her eyes. "Jock, do you do anything but bitch?"
"I might have saved your life a few times."
"Sure, but what have you done for me lately?" Rosie scrounged in her pocket for more tobacco to roll another horrible cigarette.
"You're a bitch, Rosie."
"You know that ain't true, baby," Rosie crooned, then squawked as an explosion rocked the ground beneath Jock's feet. "Jesus Christ!"
"Automines," Jock said, his mechanical rumble alert. "Switching to manual. I'll scan for more."
Jock's arms readied the rivet-rifle with a hiss. Rosie piloted Jock carefully, slowing their pace.
"Think he knows we're near?" Rosie's voice was low, though the cockpit was soundproof. A soldier's habits died hard.
"Unsure. But we're near the hideout now, so if he doesn't know already, he'll know soon." Jock's entire frame jumped in alert. "Scratch that. He's here. Look ahead."
Rosie looked at the screen and saw an enormous man clad in a ragged coat and a wide-brimmed hat. He carried no weapons, but he approached with a predator's stride.
Rosie didn't bother with warnings. She and Jock worked as one, the rivet-rifle screaming its staccato death-roar as it fired streams of exploding rivet-slugs at Silas. The big man moved with unnatural speed, dodging them deftly.
"Great. He's a loving cyborg," Rosie hissed between gritted teeth. "My price just went up."
Silas tore the rivet-rifle out of Jock's fingers and clambered up the mech's frame, and tore at cockpit's seal. He strained and growled even as Jock tried to shake him loose.
"Open the cockpit." Rosie readied her sidearm.
"Rosie, he's a-"
"Open the loving cockpit! That is an order from your pilot, Jock!"
Rosie couldn't tell if the sound Jock made was the cockpit's seal opening or a sigh of resignation. She didn't care; a huge, angry cyborg had her full attention.
"When's Oldman gonna quit?" Silas punched at Rosie, who barely dodged in time. "When's that bastard gonna realize he won? He already killed my family! He already took my gear! I just wanna be left alone!"
"You drew first blood, Silas!" Rosie hurled herself at the raging cyborg and pumped bullets into his armored chassis.
"Oh, that old lie? You fell for it too?" Silas spat. "Used to be an engineer in the army, you know -- when the war ended, I had a lot of gear left over. Oldman wanted it, and what Oldman wants, Oldman gets. Who cares if he has to kill some kids in the way, right?"
"Wait," Rosie said, pistol steady. "You mean-"
"He was a bandit, lady! Robbed me, killed my family, left me for dead!" Silas sighed. "He hired you to finish the job."
Oldman might be a liar. But Oldman was definitely a paying client.
"He wants your finger," Rosie said.
Silas slowly shook his head. "It has my ID chip in it. He gets that info, he can activate the weapons he stole; he'll have undisputed control of the whole region. You can't have it."
"I need his money," she said, looking away from his eyes, though she kept her pistol ready. "My mech-"
"No," Jock boomed. "Tell him nothing!"
"Jock needs a body!" Rosie blurted, hating herself even as the words escaped her lips. "He was my husband; during the war-"
"Don't say another word, Rosie. It's no business of his!" Jock's metallic timbre again betrayed the suggestion of shame.
"I can't let him stay like this," Rosie said, eyes averted.
Silas paused. He looked at his right hand, and closed his eyes.
"Jesus, lady, what happened?" Oldman spied the damaged, bloody digit laying on the cloth before him. "It looks like you gnawed it off!"
Rosie awkwardly rolled a cigarette with her left hand, the right resting in her vest pocket, presumably on a weapon. "I did, actually. Broke my knife prying off the exoskeleton -- had to bite it off at the knuckle."
The thugs took a step back, and Rosie grinned evilly. "By the way, you never mentioned Silas was a cyborg. That'll cost you extra."
"Fine. Two thousand in old bills, twice what I originally offered." Oldman had one of his thugs toss a sack to Rosie, who caught it in her left hand. She hefted it, then nodded her approval.
"You in a hurry to move on? I could use a lady of your skills, and a good mech's always welcome. I got plans for this place -- big plans." Oldman's eyes glittered greedily, but Rosie waved her left hand with obvious disdain.
"Thanks, but no thanks. Me and Jock got an appointment up north." She got up and snatched a whiskey bottle from the bar. "Consider this part of my bonus! I gotta wash the blood taste outta my mouth."
Rosie winced as she stared at her maimed right hand, and took another pull of whiskey. She pulled Silas's finger out of Jock's cooler and looked it over in the dim light from Jock's screens.
"Silas said the boys up north'll pay good for this thing. Almost as much for information on Oldman's stolen tech," Rosie mused, the heat of the whiskey spreading from her stomach to lessen her hand's angry ache.
"You'd really get me another body?" Jock's iron voice sounded oddly subdued.
"'A pilot is nothing without her mech,'" Rosie quoted, setting the grisly prize aside and petting Jock's translucent brain-pod beside her seat, "but I'm nothing without you."
|# ? Oct 25, 2015 18:20|
wait nvm, ill do that after ignore this post
|# ? Oct 25, 2015 21:00|
Possibly relevant to some of you fucks:
|# ? Oct 25, 2015 22:14|
Possibly relevant to some of you fucks:
I'll write a gripping story of the struggle against the evil R'publi-cans, $1000 practically in my pocket.
|# ? Oct 25, 2015 22:19|
So uh I broke my glasses and staring at an electronic screen for hours to finish my story is somewhat difficult, I'm out this week. I'll dump a toxx on my head once I can see and enter again.
|# ? Oct 25, 2015 22:40|
The Tale of Shirin Who Was Not a Princess
Edit: Consigned to the archive just in case.
theblunderbuss fucked around with this message at 17:59 on Dec 29, 2015
|# ? Oct 25, 2015 23:40|
The Rake's Progress
The prison wagon rattled and juddered as it rolled through the potholed streets and for a moment I caught the scent of lilacs in bloom through the barred window. It was a reminder of the world outside, so long denied to me and soon to be forever lost. Spring, then. Perhaps May.
It had also been May, with the lilacs in bloom, the night I climbed the wall around Master Piers’ garden to meet clandestinely with Elise. Ah, such a woman! I have known women from all walks of life, and all of them I would trade, all those hearts I callously stole I would return with gladness, for but one minute more with fair Elise.
A sudden lurch of the wagon threw me against the wall, my shackled hands unable to brace me in time. “Careful there, my man!” I shouted to the driver. I received no reply. Honestly, would it have killed him to acknowledge a doomed man?
I’ve never been one much for gallant entrances, but that night in May was a low point even for me. Reaching the top of the wall, I overbalanced and fell into the garden, landing heavily in a rosebush and no doubt ruining weeks of careful cultivation. Seeing I was not badly injured, she laughed, covering her mouth with a delicate hand.
“How noble your mien, my dear Gawain.” She said, choking back a giggle. And I, though prodded by thorns, laughed too. I cannot recall feeling any pain, intoxicated as I was by her smile. The months that followed would be filled with bitter, solitary recrimination — Hopeless fool! Miserable romantic! How many times did you promise yourself to never fall victim to such stupid sentimentality? For the moment, however, a flick of her long auburn hair over her shoulder was proof enough that God was in his Heaven and all was right with the world.
The wagon shuddered to a halt at an intersection. A small pair of hands gripped the window bars and hauled a face into view. A boy of no more than twelve peered curiously into the gloom.
“Hey, what’d you do then?” He asked.
“Plotted the death of the king and all his rightful heirs.” I said, twisting my face into a gruesome snarl. The least I could do was give him a story to tell his friends.
He considered this for a time, then shook his head. “Nah, you don’t look it.”
He stuck his tongue out. “Too foppish. See you at the gallows, fop.” He dropped out of sight as the wagon heaved into motion once more.
Part of me felt insulted. I wanted to yell after him that I was perfectly capable of high treason against the crown, thank you very much. Another part of me was somewhat pleased to know that I hadn’t gone too much to seed in my long months away from sunlight and fresh air. Credit where credit was due, I suppose, to my wardens for agreeing to my final request for a mirror, basin, and razor. It would hardly do for a man to make the most important appearance of his life ill-kempt, after all.
That night in the garden must have lasted hours but it felt like mere moments, filled with simple talk of nothing in particular. Each other’s presence was all we required. My life up to that night had been measured in terse instants of fight or flight and unlovely encounters in dingy rooms. Quiet joy in the company of another was novel, refreshing even. Until, of course, Master Piers burst out back door of the mansion in a towering rage. Elise had sworn he wasn’t due home until well past dawn, drat him.
“You!” He bellowed, pointing a finger at me like a bayonet as he advanced.
“William!” Elise said, face going red.
“Do you think me a fool, Lucian?” Piers said, breath hissing between clenched teeth.
“Well, if you were, surely you wouldn’t have come home early.” I said, jocular despite everything.
He slapped me across the face. “You dare? With my sister? I demand satisfaction!”
“William, you idiot, he’ll kill you!” Elise said, trying to pull her brother back by one arm.
“Honor necessitates it, Elise.”
“Stuff your honor, this is suicide!”
I leaned in close to Piers and said to him, in a conspiratorial tone, “I’d heed your sister’s counsel, were I you. I’m quite accomplished.”
He wrenched his arm free and stared me down, contempt sleeting off him. “Name your place and weapons.”
“If you insist.” I said, shrugging. “Witmere Park, at dawn. There’s a little copse I know of that will suffice. Pistols. I do hope you’ve been fitted for a casket, Piers. I don’t miss.”
He allowed me to leave unmolested, Elise’s cry of “For God’s sake William, please!” echoing in my ears. At home, a dreary little room above a tailor’s shop rented in the short term and lit by tallow candle, I grieved at the thought of the harm I would have to cause her by defending myself.
The wagon drew close to its destination. I could hear the susurrations of the crowd and the calls of barkers hawking wares. A solid turnout, it seemed. Thank God, I thought. The only thing worse than dying is dying obscurely.
The hard snap-crack of our pistols filled the early morning air, drifting on the breeze with the acrid smell of gunpowder. Piers’ bullet creased my arm, missing by a hair’s breadth. Piers listed drunkenly, a ship taking on water, pistol falling from numb fingers as a smear of red spread across his chest. In fairness, I had warned him.
He fell, and in a heartbeat I was at his side to receive whatever wisdom or regret he chose to impart in his passing.
“For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.” I said.
“To hell with you.” He replied, face contorting in pain.
“Is your honor satisfied?”
“Not... not just yet. But momentarily.”
I didn’t have long to ponder what he meant before a great crashing came through the undergrowth surrounding the copse and a voice shouted “Halt! Throw down your weapon!”
The constabulary. Delightful.
“You petty imbecile, is this your doing?” I hissed. There was no hope of escape.
“Perhaps.” He smirked up at me with a smile fit for the devil himself, blood glistening on his teeth. He had me dead to rights. The law took a narrow view towards dueling, considering it little better than ritualized murder.
“And what if I hadn’t won?”
“As you said, you don’t miss.”
His face grew slack. “At least my honor is inviolable. Whereas you will die a criminal.” I could hardly fault his logic, though I felt it was more than a little mean-spirited.
The state, in all its generosity, had a vicar on hand to deliver my last rites as the heavy hood was slung over my head and the noose fitted around my neck. I cut him off in mid-sermon. “Forget it, father. I’m too far gone for that nonsense.”
Even through the coarse burlap of the hood the scent of lilacs was thick in the air, the late spring sun warm on my face. There were worse sensations I could be carrying into eternity.
The planks beneath my feet fell away and somewhere Elise wept alone.
|# ? Oct 25, 2015 23:51|
anime was right fucked around with this message at 06:00 on Oct 27, 2015
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 01:20|
Gloria Tuesday and The Treasure of the Brass Kaiser's Airfortress
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 23:04 on Dec 31, 2015
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 01:58|
e: nothing to see here, move along
Obliterati fucked around with this message at 09:45 on Nov 11, 2015
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 06:37|
The Tower of Cortés
Cortés in his tower. He clutches his bedrails, makes a sound like a rusted hinge. His nightshirt, dark with sweat, has slipped down over his shoulder. The physicians have tried everything—cups, leeches, reeking liniments rubbed into the soles of his feet. An attendant leans toward his pillow, relays orders shaped by his quivering lips.
The man is out of his mind, Alonso thinks. He can hear Cortés at night, his frightened braying and the raving, malarial fits. The entire tower is sinking, day by day, into the wet earth. This green hell. Even the animals have gone crazy—yesterday he sat at the window and watched a rabbit with a bloody hind leg crawling through the clearing. An eagle circled overhead, and every so often it would dive at the rabbit only to shear away at the last moment. He must have watched it for an hour.
What the hell, Alonso thinks. Orders are orders.
Alonso shines his boots, tightens his saber belt, fills his knapsack with gifts for the Indians. They have allowed him into the city under diplomatic pretenses. They trust Cortés because they do not know him.
Even the temple’s flagstones are gilded—when Cortés learned of it, his eyes came alive, two orange coals set in his pale face. Alonso sits on the floor with the old Indian priest. They smoke together from a clay pipe. They share no words in common, nor do they need them.
Afterward Alonso opens his knapsack, takes out the bottle of communion wine he has stolen from Father Gaspar’s oratory. They drink until they are red in the face. Alonso lies down on the cold stone floor and lets the wine warm his guts. The walls are full of gods, figures sculpted in stucco and painted in brilliant blues and greens. He looks at them until the faces begin to crowd in on him. When he closes his eyes, it feels like his heart has sunken through the floor, as if the stones have a pulse of their own.
When Alonso wakes from his nap, the old priest is gone. He rubs his neck and makes his way into the center of the city. A mother and child sit beside the fountain. The boy has lashed together a miniature raft out of maize husks, and he floats it out onto the water. Alonso stands there and smiles with color in his cheeks. He is happy in a way that he cannot account for. But the boy points at Alonso’s saber, and the mother’s smile goes out like a dying candle, and suddenly it feels very heavy to him, like an anchor roped around his waist. She sweeps the boy up into her arms and leaves Alonso alone to draw his maps.
The maps are the reason Cortés has sent him. He sketches out the city, every squat building, tree, and section of wall. He understands what these maps are for. His hands tremble.
In the morning, Alonso sets out again. He takes an orange with him, nestles it carefully in his knapsack so that it won’t bruise. A gift for the boy at the fountain. But of course the boy isn’t there—foolish to think that he would be. Alonso stands for a moment in the center of the golden city, burdened with his maps and his sword and his gifts.
He returns to his room in the tower. He sits at the edge of his cot and opens up the orange with his thumb. He eats in silence and lays the bits of rind out in a row on his drafting table. He smooths one of his maps out with the back of his hand. One swipe of his thumb erases the fountain. Then the temple. The market stalls, the row of red clay houses, the raised garden. One by one.
When he is finished, Alonso lies down and tries to make his heart be quiet. When he closes his eyes, his thoughts linger on home. He thinks about the tavern in Cádiz, listening to Cortés tell his tales—gold, enough to make every man there rich, so much of it that the first galleons floundered and sank in the harbors, their bellies so full of riches—and the smell of a storm drifting into port, the faint taste of copper at the back of his tongue, and it wasn’t so long ago, he thinks, when there had been nothing inside of him like doubt.
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 06:38|
Read it in the archive.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 09:46 on Jan 3, 2016
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 06:41|
Though throwing a treat into a ventilation shaft doesn’t work for Terry
crabrock fucked around with this message at 22:59 on Dec 31, 2015
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 06:48|
Chase in the Lisbon Hilton
Frankie looked down over the hotel atrium from the mezzanine, blue paint smeared across her face like braveheart. Men in black suits and sunglasses were walking up the stairs towards her, their hands sliding up the dark polished mahogany banister. The woodwork was so beautiful, it almost made her think twice about what she was about to do, but instead she let out a piercing war-cry.
She stood up on the pedals of her BMX, bobbing on her knees as she pumped hard. The man furthest up the stairs planted a foot on the step in front of him, fancying his chances to catch her on her way down the stairs. She looked tiny in the reflection of his aviators.
Instead she popped an ollie, clearing the balustrade just before it curved down the staircase. The pegs on her wheels caught the rail and grinded along it, picking up speed down the staircase. As she whizzed past she grabbed the access card from one of their belts, which stretched out on an elastic fob. It slowed her slide just enough before it snapped.
She hadn’t thought further ahead. She landed, hard, on the tiled floor, narrowly avoiding a group of dignitaries. They had their own security detachments, but they were too concerned with keeping their principals out of harm’s way to come for her. The rotating doors leading outside were locked, and there was no other obvious exit. Well, she hadn’t expected success, anyway.
That was when she heard the lift ding, and saw the dimpled metal doors started opening. She turned on a dime and blew through them, past the waiting Japanese trade minister and his translator. She let the BMX crash into the glass wall of the car as she dismounted and hit the button to close the doors behind her.
The lift car had glass walls that afforded a 180 degree view of Lisbon. She could see the protest outside, a colourful crowd dotted with the banners of every major union in Europe. She had a banner of her own, rolled up tight in her bulging rucksack. She held the stolen access card to the control panel and hit the red button for the restricted fourteenth floor, where there was access to the helicopter pad.
She removed her helmet and her red hair burst free in wild, tightly coiled ringlets, frizzy from drying sweat. She hadn’t been able to get her breath since she’d rushed the hotel with the rest of them. She’d been up and down the building, evading security and trying to get to the convention floor where the trade negotiations were taking place. Her phone rang.
She took it on speaker. She could hear the chanting from the crowd, half a second delayed from the traces making it through the glass.
“Who’s there?” she said. She’d never got the hang of phones, and shouted to compensate for distance.
“It’s Hille,” her Estonian friend’s speech was broken by sharp breaths and sniffles, “there are people here to... starting some of poo poo.”
It was strange to hear swearwords in Hille’s thickly accented english, normally so stiff and formal.
“Don’t sweat it.” Frankie replied in her thick brogue, “the embassy guards are teddy bears.”
“It’s the Russians. Agents Provocateur. They’re trying to turn the rally violent.” Hille’s voice was deadly serious. “Just don’t get caught. It will be very bad for you.”
At the same second the line cut out Frankie could see a bulbous bottle looping over the hotel gates towards the line of police. It landed on a police van, cloaking the back half in dripping flames. Quickly, more alcohol fires bloomed in the courtyard like tulips. She spun the front wheel of her bike, slowly. The plinking noise of her neon spokey-dokeys calmed her. She needed time to think. She’d figured all that would happen if she was caught was a slap on the wrist, but with hell breaking loose she’d be lucky if she wasn’t thrown in jail. Still - it made her mission more important.
As the display above the door reached thirteen she hit the button to send the lift to the penthouse, then got back on her bike and readied herself. The heli-pad was on the other side of the convention centre, a warren of auditoriums and meeting rooms brimming with diplomats, lobbyists, and bored guards looking for something to do.
She was already pedaling when the doors opened at a T-junction. To the each side more men in shades were running for her, red-faced and sweaty from taking the stairs. The only option was straight ahead, into the belly of the beast. The corridor was wide, and she leaned left and right as she wove a slalom of wandering journalists.
In the reception room the crowds had drifted into the corner where waiters were emerging regularly from the service door. They carried silver trays of prawns, chicken skewers, blinis, and other generic globalized canapes. A waiter jumped out of her way, scattering a rain of little deep fried spring rolls. She plucked one out of the air and chewed on a mouthful of insipid pastry and sickeningly sweet sauce. The food in portugal was amazing, gigantic plates piled with tender snails, pungent sticks of salt-cod, or cockles cooked in wine and garlic, all for a few euros. And here in this expensive hotel the powerful are content with the same food they got last week in Seattle, and in KL the week before that.
The crowd had realized she was there, and huddled close to the trestle table with it’s carafes of juice and samovars of weak coffee. She could hear the guards coming. The kitchens were the best route, through the service doors, but the catering was in the way.
There was nothing for it. She pedaled hard and then jammed on her breaks, skidding towards the table side on. She leaned into it, getting closer and closer to the ground until she was low enough to go clean under the table. She left twin lines of rubber as she slid under before popping back up for the service door to fly open just at the right second. She pulled a wheelie, flipped the bird, and disappeared into the back-rooms.
The concrete and stainless halls of the kitchen flashed past her, a blur of gleaming appliances, heat, and smells. The service areas lead directly to the heli-pad. She didn’t think they’d be guarding it - there was a no-fly zone for the duration of the talks - but she knew it wouldn’t take them long to get to her, and she needed a few minutes to get set up. The fabric rolled up inside her rucksack was feeling heavier by the minute - she couldn’t wait to be free of it.
She reached the doors at top speed, dodging trays of dishes and food as she went. They were beside a lone dishwasher, bent over a massive sink full of dishes. She screeched to a halt, with the access card at the ready. The door made an ominous buzz - no entry. poo poo, they must have disabled it. The dishwasher turned to her, a dreary scowl on his face. Between them was a bin full of discarded food - whole prawns, broken blinis, dozens of slices of unused gluten-free bread. Enough to feed a family for a week. They both looked down at it, then back up at each other. The dishwasher shrugged, then swiped his own card. She was out.
The heli-pad overlooked the courtyard with the pools and restaurants. It was chaos. The protesters had broken through and had set fire to some of the lounge chairs. Plumes of tear gas rose from the thicker parts of the crowd. Stones clattered against the hotel’s plate glass panels. Even from that high up she could see blood running down the faces of a few unlucky sods. The police were gone - they must have retreated inside. Frankie wondered if she’d unknowingly acted as a diversion.
When she reached the side of the building she dumped the banner on the ground. She worked quickly, fastening one end to a grate with rope. She’d practiced, but still barely had time. The doors opened just as she finished tying. She texted Hille - NOW - gave her a few seconds, and then dropped the banner from the rooftop.
There was a cheer from the crowd as it unfurled. The canvas was white, with massive letters picked out in every colour. It just said PEACE☮. Frankie looked and saw the riot calm. They started putting out the fires, and looking after the hurt. Frankie wasn’t a dissident, just a kid who wanted the fighting to stop. She used what little breath she had left to let out another cry, loud and primal. The crowd cheered again.
She got back on her bike to evade security. They looked mean, talking into their radios and grimacing, but they were slow. She kept her distance, but they’d organize themselves soon enough. She saw a patch of the asphalt roof where there was no lip, and she aimed right at it. The sound of her spokey dokeys grew to a crescendo, then stopped, pinned to the wheel-rims by centrifugal force. She ollied and soared into the air, spinning backwards. Half way through the flip time froze, and looking straight down into the crowd she could pick out the features of each and every face: the hurt, the scared, the angry, all looking straight at her. Then she splashed down into the pool, and they all jumped in to join her.
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 06:55|
New Year, new thread!
Killer-of-Lawyers fucked around with this message at 17:53 on Jan 4, 2016
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 06:56|
The Adventures of Nobeard the Pirate, Age 6 687 words
“Tommy, have you washed your hands for lunch?”
“I’m not Tommy, I’m Captain Nobeard,” he replied.
“Because I have no beard,” he explained. “I’m a fearsome pirate, and pirates don’t wash their hands.”
“Well,” said his mum, “maybe pirates don’t eat fried chicken for lunch, either.”
“Hmmmmm,” he said.
The rest of the family ate without him, but afterwards Monica found him behind the lounge with a half-eaten drumstick in each hand.
“Mum, Tommy appears to have gotten a hold of the chicken.”
“I thought I told you to wash your hands,” said his mum.
“Pirates don’t wash their hands,” said Captain Nobeard. “And they also steal things, all the time.”
Mum frowned. “Do you want to hear about what usually happened to pirates when they got caught?”
“Well,” said Monica, “I’ll just leave you to it, mum, I’m off to the mall.”
“Take your brother with you,” said mum, “before I have him hanged as a warning to all other pirates.”
“What does that mean?” asked Captain Nobeard.
“Mum’s a little stressed,” said Monica. “C’mon, get changed and get in the car.”
“This is how pirates dress,” said Captain Nobeard.
Monica looked at him. He did look kind of piratey. The eye patch was very convincing.
“Fine, whatever,” she said. “Get in the car.”
She pushed him out the door.
Once at the mall, Monica went straight to Forever 21 to try on clothes that she would not be purchasing.
“This is boring,” said Captain Nobeard.
“Why don’t you sing yourself a Sea Shanty?” she asked.
“I don’t know any.”
She shrugged and picked out a dress to try on.
“How do I look?” she asked when she returned. Captain Nobeard didn’t reply, and also wasn’t there.
She changed back as quickly as she could, and then asked the shop assistant if she’d seen a very small pirate around. The assistant gave her a funny look. “Are you trying to be funny?”
“Never mind,” she said, and hurried out to search for him.
Tommy liked animals, and there was a pet store nearby, so Monica went there first. She didn’t find him, but the aviaries were all open and the birds were flying about the store. She decided not to ask the shop assistants if they’d seen him; they looked busy and also possibly not favourably inclined towards relatives of diminutive pirates.
She decided to check the toy store next; on her way she passed by a jeweller, and noticed that instead of being neatly arrayed in the windows, all the jewellery appeared to be in one big loot pile in one of the windows. The shop assistants were trying to re-sort them back into their separate displays. Monica put her head down and hurried on towards the toy shop.
Tommy wasn’t there. There were no scenes of chaos, either, so it seemed unlikely that he’d visited.
“Attention shoppers,” said a female voice over the PA system, “we have a small child at the concierge by the name of...” the voice paused, and when it continued, sounded a little bit annoyed, “Captain Nobeard.” Another pause, and then “Because he has no beard.”
Monica asked for directions with the toy store assistant, and then rushed over as fast as she could. When she arrived, Captain Nobeard was fending off Security with a homemade sword. Security was mostly ignoring him.
“Tommy!” she called. She ran up to him, picked him up and gave him a big hug.
“Pirates don’t hug, wench,” he said.
“I think you’d be surprised about what kind of things pirates do,” she said, “but whatever. Let’s go home.”
She thanked the concierge attendant and Security, and dragged Captain Nobeard back to the car.
The drive home was silent. The silence wasn’t broken until they pulled into the driveway, and a squawk came from somewhere on Captain Nobeard’s person. “What was that?” asked Monica.
“A pirate needs a parrot,” said Captain Nobeard.
Monica shrugged. This was not her problem anymore. “Why don’t you go show your new friend to mum?” she suggested.
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 07:00|
There were worse ways to earn a living, thought Tamsin Flade as her dagger sliced the Gnomish trader’s eyeball. He gave a high pitched scream and clutched at his face. Where once she might have been sickened to see the blood and juices flow through the gaps in his tiny fingers, experience had taught her only disdain. The trader spat the few filthy names he could think of under admittedly trying circumstances. None were worse than than the word “Slaver” she had seen written as his occupation on the loan papers in his dossier.
“We appreciate your predicament, however, the Scarborough Banking Association cannot ‘just burn it and forget about it’. These are magical contracts, impervious to normal flame. This has been our final notice,” Tamsin added, as he sank to the floor. “Continued failure to pay may result in increased interest rates and grievous loss of life. Urgent repayment is recommended as the Scarborough Banking Association values your custom.” She kicked him in the stones for good measure, then returned to the shadowy streets of the Altheim.
She never ceased to be surprised at the sense of moral satisfaction she got from her job. Scarborough Bank might lend vast quantities of gold to the human traffickers, gamblers and drug dealers of the city, but the Scarborough Bank debt collection arm was thinning their numbers even more effectively than the Watch. Tamsin was almost sorry to almost have earned enough to finally leave it. Almost.
Tamsin made her way beneath Hennessy's bridge where Ax, her Reclamations Officer lurked. Three or four equally foul-smelling Trolls guarded him from his ever-increasing number of enemies.
“Miss Flade,” he said, his voice both grease and dirt. “So nice of you to come-a-callin’. ‘Ow’d you get on wit’ Hazelford? Did he leave us a “small” down-payment?” He giggled at his own joke, and his cronies laughed on cue.
She handed Ax the slaver’s dossier, now magically updated. “Final demand given. I suspect he might be able to focus on his responsibilities a little better now.”
Ax grunted in acknowledgement, and passed her a half-empty pouch. “50 percent on the tab, as usual. If we don’t see nuffing from the short-arse in two weeks, I’ll send you back to close his account.”
“I just know he’ll appreciate the continuity of customer care,” she said, smiling as her innards twisted. Roughing up the scum of the street was no problem for her, but she’d never had to close an account before. What would her father say? She turned to leave, to hide her involuntary spasm of disgust, but Ax called her back.
“One more fing, love. Mr Scarborough wants ta see ya, talk about a client. Here.” He shoved a couple of dog-eared pieces of paper at her.
“He does?” Tamsin could not conceal her surprise. Surely, she thought, Ax couldn’t have meant Mr Scarborough. The Mr Scarborough. She took the papers, shoved them in her jerkin. “Where?”
“At the Bank, poo poo-fo’-brains,” said Ax. Every one of his moronic cronies laughed in unison.
She flicked him the sign of VorHees which just made them laugh even louder. Shaking her head she left Hennessey's and headed down Pathhurst Road to Cameleye Street, where the bank’s main office was.
The Scarborough Bank was styled like a building out of a history book. In front were columns, tall like an ancient temple. Rather than common wooden signs, the words “From War, Gold - From Gold, Wealth - From Wealth, Peace” were carved across the white marble pediment.
Tamsin paused beneath a street-lantern to scan the papers Ax had handed to her. The first was a certificate of Identity that would let her into the Bank and, presumably, the forbidden areas behind the tellers’ cages. The second was a page out of a client dossier. The name at the top was Flade, Thomas: whose occupation was listed as Gambler. There were several extensions noted on his loan details, with dates corresponding to Tamsin’s recent shift work. Not knowing what to think she decided not to think at all, took a deep breath and walked into the golden depths of the Scarborough Bank.
A large ogre in a cheap suit took one look at her rough leather jerkin and stood directly in front of her. “Sorry, Miss. Customers only.”
Tamsin cast her eye over her outfit. It was torn in places and there was the bluish tinge of gnome blood down her front. Embarrassed, she fruitlessly tried to wipe it off, sighed and said, “It’s all right, I have a cert.”
Tamsin stood in a small room, feeling her feet rise to her stomach. On one wall a series of glass bulbs were arranged in a vertical column. There were twenty or so that she could see, and each one became solely illuminated in turn, from top to bottom. When the very bottom one was lit, she felt a slight shudder, and then the doors in front of her opened of their own volition.
Beyond the doors lay a cavern of glistening crystalline rock formations, glinting in the light of a thousand torches. But not even their multicoloured gleams could take her eyes off the mounds and piles of coins and jewels and precious metals.
“It is beautiful, is it not?” said a voice.
Tamsin stepped through the doors. Once outside their confines, there was even more wealth to be amazed by. “Yes,” she said, forgetting where she was and who she might be speaking to. “The colours…”
“We thought you might understand,” said the voice, and now Tamsin could locate its origin. She turned to her left, and saw, in the distance, across drifts of gold and gems as high as her shoulder, the claws and smoke and bright yellow eyes of a dragon. “It’s not the size of the hoard, but its beauty.”
Tamsin mentally slapped herself awake. “Mr...uh, Scarborough?”
“The same.” Smoke gently wreathed around Mr Scarborough’s face. “Welcome to our parlour.”
“This is the vault? Of Scarborough’s Bank?”
“Oh yes. This is it. Don’t think of it as a dragon’s den, my dear. Think of it as the nerve center of our financial operations. A dragon’s hoard isn’t just a pit full of money. It is a web with us at the center. When it moves, we know. We can feel the ebb and flow of our finance as it spreads throughout the city, throughout the world. It sows disruption and grows. It breeds complacency and grows. It chains our enemies in golden strands and grows. Sometimes strands need to be cut - as your gnomish trader will likely find - and we reap the glittering prizes. Every beautiful, magical light here that illuminates our wealth is an eye cut, a life snuffed, a threat extinguished.”
Tamsin heard the clinking of coins as the dragon moved closer. “What do you want?” she asked
“It’s not what we want,” said Mr Scarborough, snaking toward her. “It’s what you can bring us. Sometimes we trap something worthy of further enquiry. Your father. You’ve been doing good work, keeping the dragon from the door. And his debt, not growing. How very unlikely. Very soon he will have paid it all off. ”
“I know, he’s a good man. Not risk. Sure, he’s got a problem, but he’s working on it.”
“Not any more, it would appear.” From behind a mound of gold, a scaled, prehensile tail appeared and Tamsin found herself scooped up into the air and carried toward Mr Scarborough’s face. She could smell the sulphur of his breath, see the golden iris of his eyes. “We’re very interested to know how he has learned the error of his ways. We scryed and studied before accepting his application, as we do. He is weak. He should, by rights, have closed his account with by now, we should be basking in his glow, despite your good work in his name. So tell me...” Mr Scarborough’s tongue flicked in and out of his mouth, “how have you kept him so straight and so narrow when we gave him such heights to fall from?”
“I haven’t done anything,” said Tamsin. She summoned her strength and kicked out, and her toe connected with Mr Scarborough’s scaley chin. He didn’t flinch. Instead he placed her delicately down on the ground.
“No matter,” he snorted, and wisps of flame emerged. “We will understand in time. In previous eras we would have eaten you, just to prove a point, but in wealth comes peace. You may leave.”
Tamsin stood a second, then turned and fled toward to the doors from whence she had emerged. On either side of the entrance were two torches burning like flaming eyes. On a whim she took the page from her father’s dossier, and lit the edge from its naked flame. Then she scrambled into the elevator and pushed every button she could see, lit or unlit. A roar came echoing through the caverns, and she tossed out the burning page as the doors closed and a billow of intense flame failed to reach her. The lights began their ascent.
If she made it out of the bank alive, she realised, she’d have to find a new job.
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 07:00|
Room Service (1,222 words)
The hotel clerk blinked, swallowed, and knocked as instructed. “Sir?” he asked, “Miss?” but received no answer. He licked his lips and knocked again.
“Inna minute,” came the voice of salvation. It was the woman. “I’m changing.”
“Miss we’ve…had your things run through the wash. They’re here now, freshly folded. If you’d jus-“
The clerk hesitated. The cold iron barrel pressed deeper into the nape of his neck.
“Miss…miss I’m afraid hotel policy…your clothes could be-“
“If they want my dad’s hand-me-down shirts they’re either naked or blind. I’ll risk it.”
The clerk shut his eyes tightly, a prayer in his heart. He took a deep breath and held it in his lungs.
“Alright, alright already. I’m decent…-ish.”
The woman’s footsteps sounded from behind the door. The clerk opened his eyes and exhaled, relieved. His reward was the butt of a rifle to the side of his head. It was more than enough. They’d let him live.
Ecklund steadied his aim as his cohorts caught and moved the body. In his old winter officer’s coat, ashen hair swept back, he looked almost respectable. Those who knew his business called him The Surgeon. Those who feared him called him something else. He glanced down the infinite corridor to his right, then his left. They were alone, though it wouldn’t have mattered if they weren’t. Things were just easier this way.
The door began to open inwards. Ecklund kicked it in and fired.
The room was empty.
Ecklund’s eyes narrowed. He kept his gun at the ready. His two accomplices rushed to his side, knives drawn. A few doors opened along the way, but an icy cold stare was all it took to shut them.
Ecklund gestured silently into the room. The man to his right entered first. His face was scarred, a memento left by a bear cub’s mother. He checked to the left and right of the doorframe. The door he pushed flat against the wall.
The room was small and modestly furnished. Two beds lay in disarray, the contents of someone’s luggage spilled out across the one furthest from the door. A cool breeze fluttered in through the window. The drapes matched the carpet. There was also a closet and a bathroom door.
The scarred man studied the room only briefly. A small bag tucked away among the mess of belongings on the bed caught his eye. Loosely tied, it hung open. Its contents glittered with a pleasant light. He approached, his free hand extended.
“The bed.” Ecklund’s imperial intonation brought the scarred man back to Earth. “Check under the bed.”
The scarred man knelt down on the carpet, on all fours, and looked. Katja pulled the trigger the minute she saw his eyes. A gunshot fired from beneath the nearest bed. The man’s face burst. He keeled over by the closet.
“A shotgun.” Ecklund spoke as though he were almost impressed. “Compensating for unsteady hands?”
Katja’s voice rang out from the room. Her tone was tired but conversational.
“Real good canary you picked out here Ecks. It’s a wonder he could breathe without expert instruction. Probably needs a map to find his balls come time for an itch, though I guess least he has ‘em. Had ‘em. Unlike you.”
“I’ve always been a cautious sort. It’s in my nature.”
“Is all that clippin’ corpses you do your nature too? He still does that, right? Clippin’ ears and stuff? RIGHT OTHER GUY?” she called out with a certain dry self-assurance. “I know there’s least one other guy. Ecks can’t just go about unchaperoned you know. Man needs his choirboys.”
The man to Ecklund’s left was tall and wiry. He and the scarred man been picked up by Ecklund for this job at a bar. He looked down at his boss as if to speak. Ecklund silenced him with a glare.
“Just the one this time, sorry. Good help and all that.”
“Sure. Well. If we ever need room service I’ll let you boys know.”
“Where’s Byron?” Ecklund asked. “Tucked away in the closet? Keeping a low profile for once in his life?”
“Why don’t you come in and find out?”
Ecklund scanned the room. Byron was a giant of a man. Beneath the bed and inside the closet were both too compact for a man of his exceptional frame.
“Bathroom’s a possibility,” he whispered to the wiry man. “Enter after. Rush the door. Hold it shut. Unless he’s got a canon, you’ll survive.” The wiry man hesitated. Ecklund glared. His companion nodded. Ecklund reached into the confines of his coat and produced a bayonet which he affixed to his rifle. The hotel’s bedding wasn’t particularly well-known for being thick or sturdy. He stepped out of his shoes.
Softly, carefully, Ecklund put one foot ahead of the other. For all the building’s flaws, the floorboards didn’t creak.
Ecklund leapt out onto the bed, thrusting his bayonet down through the mattress. The wiry man sped in after. Passing Ecklund, he threw his full weight against the bathroom door. Ecklund continued stabbing.
A moment passed, but no violence burst forth from the bathroom. The wiry man looked to his employer who was only just now calming down.
“That okay, boss?” the wiry man asked, eying the holes in the mattress.
“As long as they can be identified, it doesn’t matter what shape they’re in.” Ecklund’s exhaustion was catching up with him. “Five grand a head. Can’t complain.”
“What, five grand? I’m worth more than that.”
Two thoroughly bandaged hands pulled the thread tight around the wiry man’s neck. It was an odd material, thin and slender; nearly invisible, but sharp when pulled tight. It was the same thread that permitted Katya to open a door which had never been locked from two beds away. The same thread which, when properly coiled and pulled, could set off a gun but only once.
The woman with bandaged hands who wore her father’s shirts held the wiry man before her like a shield as she moved. Ecklund fired once into the chest of his former colleague, and Katya struggled under the newly dead weight. Ecklund thrust with his bayonet, and Katya found herself and the lifeless puppet in her arms backed against the wall.
“That’s ten grand together.” Ecklund said. “Where’s Byron?”
“The pleasure’s yours,” came a deep and booming voice from the window. Ecklund turned, and received a throwing knife in his right eye. He dropped his rifle and dropped to the floor, howling. Byron climbed in through the window. Katya took his hands, her own disappearing in his. His fingers were sore from holding on to the side-most edges of the sill for so long.
“It appears our recent flights of fancy have attracted some unwanted attention,” Byron said. He approached Ecklund’s body and gave it a good kick.
“Popularity’s its own punishment sometimes.” Katya went about throwing her things into the suitcase. Outside rang the sound of sirens.
“Indeed,” Byron combed his hand through his wild mane of hair. “It seems we’ve a few more guests come to wish us well. Do you suppose it was the gunshots? Or perhaps someone spotting a giant hanging from a windowsill?”
“We’ll sweat the details later,” Katya answered with a mischievous grin. “Let’s make ourselves scarce.”
“Whatever you say, dear.”
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 08:03|
Why aren't submissions closed? Did someone leave the doors open?
No more submissions.
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 08:06|
Somebody like, totally brawl me or something.
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 08:37|
like omg w/e just do it
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 08:41|
like omg w/e just do it
You're just too lovable to brawl.
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 11:39|
|# ? Nov 29, 2021 05:52|
Yo I hope you're not forgetting your promises just because you got a shiny new title... You're in luck, though, they forgot to close submissions.
|# ? Oct 26, 2015 13:33|