I'll this time.
|# ? Nov 11, 2015 10:51|
|# ? Feb 9, 2023 06:16|
I'll this time.
"A woman, who has 38 pets, pays a man to build her a place for her tortoises, but claims she spent $5,000 and he didn't even do the job; an older man says the full grown Pekinese he purchased at a dog show is wild when it's home."
|# ? Nov 11, 2015 15:02|
|# ? Nov 11, 2015 15:15|
"A woman plans a wedding for thousands of dollars, but finds out that her fiancee has a ton of debt and then he dumps her over a text message; a man claims that the drawings his children drew on his sister's walls should be prized."
|# ? Nov 11, 2015 15:42|
In. for my shameful failure last time.
|# ? Nov 11, 2015 16:54|
In. for my shameful failure last time.
"A hairdresser claims a woman, who is accusing him of causing her hair to fall out after a treatment, ruined her own hair due to her attempts at dying it herself; a woman returns her friend's dog after three years and demands payment."
|# ? Nov 11, 2015 17:17|
|# ? Nov 11, 2015 18:31|
I in a box
I in my socks
|# ? Nov 11, 2015 19:52|
"A woman takes over a family-owned bouncy house business only to have to sue her cousin’s husband for the value of a bouncy house he failed to return. "
|# ? Nov 11, 2015 20:00|
Taking up to three crits for Kaiju week. Any takers?
|# ? Nov 11, 2015 22:46|
Taking up to three crits for Kaiju week. Any takers?
I'll take one. I'll critique something of yours in return if you want.
|# ? Nov 11, 2015 23:01|
I'll take one. I'll critique something of yours in return if you want.
I'll take one and with the same offer for a counter crit.
|# ? Nov 11, 2015 23:19|
Taking up to three crits for Kaiju week. Any takers?
I'd love one please, and I'll pass one on to someone else of my choice
|# ? Nov 12, 2015 00:08|
I'll take a critting
|# ? Nov 12, 2015 03:33|
BROBLITERATTING OVER DJINN BRAWL RESULTS
First, the meme brawl.
Broenheim, your story was a fairly straightforward vignette. It hit the prompt, but in a fairly letter-of-the-law type of way. It felt like there was room for a lot of depth or originality in the story you chose, and there wasn’t a lot of it there. Who are the main characters supposed to be? Why are they so protective of Jimmy? Any sort of character strengths and foibles are left mostly implicit, and it’s sort of a forced conflict that this ref wouldn’t go after the fat kid knocking people down or at least keep a closer watch on him after a few complaints. Really, the biggest weakness was that there was no real plot—there was incidence, but nothing in the characters really changed. Maybe part of that was due to the fact that it breaks Muffin’s “85% dialogue” rule.
Obliterati, you hit the prompt as well, but in a fairly original way, and your meme seemed much more relevant to the story. RoboRef went through more of a personal journey, and it was a captivating and interesting one. The choice he had to make at the end was clever as well. I wish that there could have been another character that was more of a counterpart to his POV than Shields, and I felt like there could have been more of a steady build-up to the wetware going into effect, but otherwise, good work.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4nSZ79fXO8 goes to Obliterati.
This other brawl was a much closer race.
God Over Djinn, you build atmosphere that I can backstroke in. This was a gorgeous story, and the pacing was completely on-point. I felt like it took me a little bit to find my bearings within the narrative, but once I did, I enjoyed it very much. I felt like your use of the prompt was novel and seamless as well. One issue I had, though, was that it almost seemed too removed from any sort of action. There was growth, and the character did have to make a choice at the end, the dilemma of which was set up perfectly—but, I dunno, it felt a lot like the aftermath of a much longer story. Whenever I had to follow the progression of him chasing and killing Orion, it seemed a bit hazy.
Sitting Here, you know I love slice-of-life stuff, and this story used that particular flavor to great effect—it felt like it had a personal warmth that the other story lacked. Granted, it was a bit corny at points—the moment where she catches him mentioning her mother felt like it was out of a romantic comedy—but for the most part I believed the relationship between the two main characters. On another note, if it were me I would have started the story at the pawn shop, and used the extra words to better integrate the prompt into the story. Also, “The thought filled made her cheeks flush red and her stomach flip.” :/ Nevertheless, this was a solid story, and I enjoyed the characters the most.
This was a tough decision, and it really comes down to a bit more originality, a smidge tighter plot, and one more crossed t and dotted i.
Djinn for the win.
|# ? Nov 12, 2015 04:23|
|# ? Nov 12, 2015 04:32|
i need a couple weeks for this one too though, i still have a stupid uncooperative left hand
|# ? Nov 12, 2015 04:34|
This prompt is simple. When you sign up, I am going to give you the synopsis of a single episode of Judge Judy. This is now the synopsis for your story. These synopses are fairly focused, although you are certainly welcome to take some liberties for the sake of storytelling. However, if you stray too far, you will be held in contempt of Thunderdome, and dealt with accordingly when judgment comes.
Didn't complete last time, so I'm ing this time.
|# ? Nov 12, 2015 05:35|
to the pain
i guess you might already be there what with beign run over etc
|# ? Nov 12, 2015 07:55|
Didn't complete last time, so I'm ing this time.
"While an artist-for-hire claims he is trying to get out of paying for a job, the diamond importer says he damaged his expensive chandelier; a woman claims a man conned her into buying a car without a title and presses charges against him for fraud."
|# ? Nov 12, 2015 10:53|
GOD OVER MOJO BRAWL
You are both clever, brilliant motherfuckers. I want you to write about clever, brilliant motherfuckers. Is your protag a taxonomist? A taxidermist? A toxicologist? That's up to you. Your protags MUST be a skilled professional, and that profession MUST be pertinent to the conflict in your stories. I want to feel the passion and the frustration of genius. Other than that, go nuts.
DEADLINE: Saturday, November 28th at 11:59:59 PST
|# ? Nov 13, 2015 03:32|
Something like 4 hours remain to signup
|# ? Nov 14, 2015 04:31|
Critiques for Week CLXIII: An Exhibit of Regrettable Literature
Remember Museum Week? What a fantastic prompt. I can't put my finger on why it didn't lead to better stories. Few of the entries were bad, some were pretty okay, and the winner was an easy choice, but significant flaws crippled most of what was on offer--and for many of the objects I'd wager their true history was richer and stranger than the fiction.
There wasn't a single problem that connected the lot, though. Each story had its own issues. I've tried to pinpoint them, so read on to take a docent's tour.
jon joe, "How Jinwei Xu Became Immortal"
The style in which this was written made me think of a children's fable, and the execution wasn't strong enough for it to stand up against stories aimed at adults. It delivered a very simple "be careful what you wish for" moral. The path it took to get there was rocky at times. When Vulture appeared, Jinwei Xu seemed to forget the whole idea of binding the spirit to his service; nothing about their interactions suggested that Jinwei Xu was ever the master, and for Jinwei Xu to trust an evil spirit to teach him out of benevolence was almost too stupid to be true!
The way you presented Xian Yao made me wonder whether he was an established mythological figure I was supposed to recognize. If so, I'm afraid I didn't and still don't, as neither Google nor a friend with knowledge of Chinese culture was able to enlighten me. He could have stood some explanation or background--just a sentence or two.
The prose was quite basic, but it was basically competent aside from some missteps in dialogue punctuation. You used "into" when you wanted "in to" in the phrase "give into his wounds"; this link explains why the latter is wrong.
Thranguy, "The Elephant in the Room"
Although I appreciated the way you incorporated certain creatures carved on the Borradaile Oliphant, nothing else about your use of the object impressed. The monster-summoning business was so random--like nearly everything else about the story. You didn't make it seem logical or natural; I imagine the carvings on the horn inspired the idea, but you needed to do something to establish a reasonable link between a Byzantine sounding horn and a monster call. Make up some history for it, maybe. The professor's vague reference to a theory didn't cut it.
Continuing the trend of stuff pulled from the posterior vortex, we had the monster with the not-particularly-Byzantine name of Grex, the creeper professor in drag, the professor's ability to detect traces of spirit (because narrative convenience, am I right?), the professor's persistence in the face of the oliphant bands glowing red with heat, and whatever you call that abominable ending. Oh, and the sentence you ended with a comma. I have to guess you meant for some of this to be funny, but none of it was, the creeper professor dressing as a woman least of all... wait, no. That was actually less anti-fun than the banter between Grex and Mel. Will wonders never cease? Seriously, making the prof a letch was a cheap, cheap way to give the story an "antagonist," and I use the scare quotes because he wasn't much of one: he had almost no personality and provided zero conflict. Mel wasn't much of a protagonist, either. Other than blowing a horn, what exactly did she do?
I can't let this crit end without underlining how dumb the solution to the museum-access problem was. Worse, that problem only existed to provide an excuse to put Lachlan in a dress. Sitcoms did that gag better forty years ago.
Mons Hubris, "The Strategist"
A king exposits about a war, using chess men as strategic tokens. That's it. Nearly! The first time I read this, I didn't get that Prince Harald had caused the mix-ups in war strategy by messing about with the board, so there didn't appear to be any story to speak of. Would you believe I liked it better that way? If you removed that part of the premise, the "story" would be dull and lacking in pretty much everything but decent sentences (and the language in those would err on the side of cheesy, what with the "fearsome berserkers" and "cowardly attackers"), but it wouldn't be a limp joke. The ending would be a little sweet, even--a suggestion that the play and innocence of children persists even in war. Instead I'm left wondering whether this entry was meant to be funny, a question that seldom bodes well.
The premise isn't easy to swallow, all that aside: for the king to make all of those mistakes, he would need to have never talked to his generals. Ever.
You're still handling exposition better than you did in your first entry, but long stretches of characters reminding each other about things they've said in the past aren't fun to read. You could possibly improve this by putting it in the king's perspective and showing his decisions and their results as they happened, rather than delivering it all as backstory. I doubt the core idea is worth the time it would take to fix it when you could be writing something new.
worlds_best_author, "By the Sword"
I sympathize with the difficulty of keeping flash-length historical fiction faithful to the truth without delivering a weak story. If you're worried about misrepresenting the people you're writing about, it's only too easy to err on the side of fact and fail to give the reader anything new. What was puzzling here was that concern for accuracy couldn't have been what led you to rewrite the Wikipedia article about Amakusa Shiro with the faintest fictional gilding, given that you killed off Yamada Uemonsaku (in reality the lone survivor of the siege) for what seemed like no reason except to include an over-the-top beheading. My familiarity with this culture and time period was enough that I suspected "Don't-you-dare-question-my-faith-you-heretic-pagan-scum!" wasn't authentic speech, but just in case, I asked resident history scholar Bad Seafood. He confirmed that it was not. He also suggested you'd been playing too much Skyrim.
A sixteen-year-old picking up the body of a grown warrior, presumably in armor, with one arm wasn't credible either; nor were the veterans looking away from Shiro's butchery. You spelled Shiro's name two different ways, and that didn't help convince me you knew what you were talking about.
However, the places you veered from history were less an issue than how dull the result ultimately was. It lacked interest as a standalone anecdote outside the wider context of the Shimabara Rebellion. The characters were tepid. Stuff happened, but I didn't care. The Wikipedia article was a better read, brief as it was, probably because it didn't paint Shiro as a frothing nutter.
Entenzahn, "Way of the Croc"
Not bad. Mildly disappointing, though. I didn't want Jotel and Siria to get together! That she felt badly enough about seducing Jotel into stealing the statue to try and fix things didn't mean she loved him; I never believed she did, which made Jotel a fool and Rico not that much less of one. Rico gave up the chance to avert long-term conflict between the two tribes so that one boy could marry a girl who'd wanted him for his statue. That wasn't wisdom. The story failed to sell me on its main idea, which I think must have been that love is more important than pride or status. True enough--if love had been a factor.
Rico did love his brother enough to sacrifice something for his welfare; there was that. The fly in that ointment was that what he sacrificed wasn't obviously going to cost him much, but it could have ended up costing other people a lot.
None of the above stopped this from being the best story for the short time before Morning Bell's came along. Things happened! Rico was enjoyable! The use of the object was excellent! The post-apocalyptic setting was cool, but underutilized and kind of pointless. The unconvincing love story between dull characters weighed it down too much, more's the pity, for a good protagonist to save.
Morning Bell, "Roadside Dinner"
Weak points: the grammar error in the first sentence, the mishandled pronouns--"baby-face" and "pug-nose" should have been capitalized, the way you were using them--and the line "A murder of crows, tattered and mean-looking, watched from the dead branches of a lone tree." (Murder + dead + lone over-egged the bleakness pudding.) The nameless main character was passive. What resolution this story had came about through Svetlana's actions, not his. Your object was one of the least interesting of those chosen and one of the easiest with which to work.
Strong points: this story did a great job of capturing a bleak emotional landscape that felt appropriate to the physical time and place. Though the finale fell a little flat, I appreciated the nuances of the main character turning the radio off, his not knowing where to look, and the silence. He and Svetlana had a pleasingly complex relationship, and she was almost certainly using him--and surely he knew it. Yet there they were. I disliked Svetlana for how easily she killed Pug-Nose, lied about it, and then didn't care. I suspect the protagonist shared my sentiment to some degree.
Although this had its share of minor flaws, the combination of setting, character relationships, prose, and emotional punch put it comfortably above the rest of the round. You did a fine job with the prompt--I know what I said about the rouble note being an easy object, and I stand by that, but a simple choice is also a smart one when a writer spins a strong story out of it. You painted the political complications of life in post-Soviet Russia for us with your words.
Fumblemouse, "The Huntsman"
Shouldn't Mel and Daniel have had to spin the Huntsman in front of some lawyers or notaries? It wouldn't have mattered as long as they were both willing to abide by whatever happened, I guess. That was a heck of a clause their grandmother wrote, though, and the question of whether it could be legally binding wasn't the only one you left unanswered. I saw symbolism in the circular, repetitive motion of the Huntsman. He acted out the circular, repetitive history of alcohol in Mel's family, with no end in sight in the final sentence. But was that worth denying the reader any resolution? I wanted to know who would be chosen and get a hint of the result would do to the siblings' relationship. The end let me down: "a brother finds out his sister is a drunk" wasn't much of a story without some kind of consequence.
The banter between the siblings was fun, even if it hammered the alcohol drinking drinking alcohol point home a shade too hard.
22 Eargensplitten, "The Cutters and the Hook"
Although this took a while to get going, and although it was ultimately a pretty standard cursed-item story, it had some punch. Michael's vision was horrifying--though slightly out of step with the rest of the piece, maybe. Up until that point most of the text had been mildly interesting dialogue between Peter and Michael, and then we got a meaty slab of druids and elder gods. Possibly less talking and more introspection--there was some, and it helped--would have improved the flow.
It was probably the similarity to many other tales of cursed objects that held you back. This entry was decent, readable, a nice bit of horror that delivered a chill with the ever-swaying branch, but the path it took was predictable. It would have had to distinguish itself from other stories of its kind to reach the limelight.
Grizzled Patriarch, "Uncle Under the Mountain"
Argh, Grizzled Patriarch! Your talent doesn't excuse goofy formatting. Stop forgetting blank lines between paragraphs!
Otherwise, I appreciated that this had an arc of sorts and a conclusion of sorts. It was a story and not a vignette, but there were at least two problems: one, Toco had little character development. He was a prop used to illustrate the truth behind the wolves around the mountain. Two, wolves. Why the wolves? Why would a godling under a mountain need or want a wolf pack? That Toco became a human sacrifice to Uncle made grim sense, except for the entire wolf business; the two mythological elements didn't fit together. If Uncle and his pack were drawn from real-world mythology (I couldn't find anything on a casual Google search, but that doesn't say much), they needed more context.
The rest of the story didn't make up for the lack of cohesion between Uncle-as-mountain-tyrant and Uncle-as-Lord-of-the-Hunt, so you fell short of honors despite writing a more enjoyable entry than most.
Ironic Twist, "Requiescat"
This was the only entry this week to make me irate. Some things about it were strong, very strong, such as the broken relationship between Kirk and Ash. Neither was entirely innocent or entirely at fault. Kirk wanted and tried to shift his rages away from destruction and toward preservation; Ash didn't, maybe couldn't understand him. The emotions between them hummed throughout their sections, and the symbolism in things like the smashed A was gorgeous--although "another loving prehistoric caveman joke" sailed right overhead and "trilled" was a terrible verb for anger. (I figure now the idea was that Kirk had been likened to a caveman before, maybe by Ash, maybe by the world, but it was a confusing line that added no value.) I doubted their story could have a happy ending, but the perhaps-temporary reconciliation they achieved was enough. For love's sake, they would try again.
Everything connected to the bird pendant ruined the rest. From the bad, bad metaphor that introduced it--a pendant the size of a human heart would be very large (and it didn't work as a layered metaphor either; human hearts may be metaphorically small, but that didn't matter when the phrase immediately evoked the physical)--to the ending that delivered the moral that the only peace Kirk could hope for was death, that bird wreaked havoc on an otherwise moving character arc. Instead of your object inspiring your story, it was more like your object destroyed your story.
Here's what I got: at some point in his life, Kirk ran beside a car going 40mph on the freeway, writing obscenities on the rear window as he went. I'm almost sure that can't be right, but no amount of rereading offers up another interpretation of what you wrote. The driver had a silver bird hanging from his rearview mirror. Somehow he found out Kirk's name, and when he died, he instructed his wife to give Kirk the bird. She found him on the Internet despite not knowing where he lived. That seemed unlikely. The bird helped Kirk calm down when he clenched it in his fist. He found toward the end that it contained grey hair; I presume it belonged to Eduardo or his wife, and the sight of that hair "somehow" made him know he would find peace in death.
Twist, that doesn't make any goddamn sense. Any. At all. I can imagine that Eduardo was prone to the same rages and kept the bird with him for its pacifying effects, and that when he died he passed it on to someone else who clearly needed it, but how Kirk and Eduardo knew each other, how Eduardo could have gotten Kirk's name, all the rest--so much information was missing. So much of the information present was nonsense.
Chop the bird and this story would improve fivefold. It was so frustrating to see very fine elements mixed with stunningly bad elements that I felt more intensely about this entry than any other, but not in a way that did you any good.
Killer-of-Lawyers, "Nihil Sub Sole Novum"
Small problems: the comma splice in your third sentence was an ugly one. Referring to the Traveler as "the small Cro-Magnon" told me a lot about the setting in a simple way, but your point-of-view character would never have known that word, so it gave me pause. "Neanderthal" did likewise, for the same reason. If you'd found a way to clue the reader in that these were prehistoric people without betraying your character's perspective, it would have made for a slightly smoother read, though there's something to be said for calling a spade a spade and moving on with the story.
A larger problem: issues plagued the point of view throughout. The phrasings of the rules of the hunt were too formal to evoke Neanderthals. Words like "diminutive" and "aromatic" worked against the setting. I wouldn't have wanted stereotypical grunting, but Rhino's thoughts were too much like a modern human woman's if she lived in a similar culture. I didn't buy a female Neanderthal chieftain, either.
Problems that fell somewhere in between: both of the attempted sexual fake-outs were more dumb than cute. They gave Rhino this weird molester vibe she would have been better off without. Rhino's game with the Traveler had no witnesses, so it struck me funny that her chieftain recognized her strut as post-game basking; I'd just about buy that the chieftain was used to Rhino prancing about in the nude at the drop of a chess game, though.
If I ignored that Rhino and the rest were supposed to be cavemen, she was a fun character with a human conflict--wanting to change the way she was seen by others--that she solved in a way that made sense within the culture you'd sketched. Having to ignore a major component of the premise to enjoy a story is a crippling issue, however. This one wasn't good enough to overcome it.
I sort of wish this could have won, even though I voted for Morning Bell's and would again. You left me with too many questions to which I'm not convinced you knew the answers. The king had time to tell people stories on the steps of his house. The king had no guards but his lammasu. The king was popular, yet an assassin still came, and the assassin waltzed into the palace without anyone trying to stop him--and without the lammasu shouting any warning. The assassin-king did nothing to increase security despite surely knowing how easily a king could be killed. None of these things added up; the story being limited to the statue's perspective--which I appreciated very much--didn't excuse them.
Yet you made a stone bull-man my favorite character of the week. He was a person, but not a human, and his life wasn't the same as a mortal life. He remained steadfast centuries after the king's death. With no body left to guard, he guarded a legacy and continued to stand against ambitious men. (That was my interpretation of the bloodshot eyes.) I loved him. His story had more heart than many others. If there just hadn't been so many holes!
There were, and the story's potential wasn't fully realized, but it was a pleasure to read regardless.
Tyrannosaurus, "symbola divina et humana"
This entry was nice for what it was, and it made good use of the clock, but it leaned far too heavily on outside knowledge of the Holocaust; it was so light and empty of substance of its own that the title (which related to the object, a good touch) felt too heavy. The main character stood in for Jewish survivors as a vague, nebulous group instead of being an individual. You left the specifics of his experiences between his departure and return a complete blank, so I didn't know who he was, I couldn't connect to him through what he'd endured, and his hollow eggshell of a story held a hint of melancholy and nothing more.
I did like his old neighbors lying about his parents' possessions while they were in plain sight, a breathtaking and bleakly human callousness.
crabrock, "Grumpy and the Witch"
You could drive a double-wide through the holes in this. I never figured out why Shay and the other girls were in prison, whether they were witches, potential brides for the king's son, or both. Why would the prince marry a witch? Why would the king imprison brides? Why was Carlo such a festering sore of a man? His excessive dickery made him a cartoon. Why were a bunch of malnourished, mistreated prisoners his daughter's rivals, and whose idea had it been to poison them, and why do that rather than executing them outright? I don't know. Nor do I know how a contact poison could ever work so quickly, or why Shay would expect a poison meant to be ingested to kill through touch. You don't die from handling a cyanide capsule.
I enjoyed this as much as I did because of Shay, its bright point--and that wasn't saying tons since her sassy high spirits verged on the twee. She had a personality, at least, so her story was difficult to dislike.
SlipUp, "Slave Dreams"
The one bright note I can offer you is that most of your many, many errors were symptoms of inexperience. As you practice and read (as all writers should), you'll hopefully learn to punctuate dialogue. You'll get a sense for when characters should be cut; you had six here, and that was at least two too many. What did Marcus and Spurious--which you probably should have spelled like the Roman name, rather than like the adjective--do other than die? You'll more likely stick to one point-of-view character within a scene, since to do otherwise is often more confusion than it's worth. In a story this brief, swapping the perspective around also made it difficult to connect with any one character and hard to tell who the protagonist was supposed to be.
The majority of what you wrote was a fight sequence between paper-doll characters who were nearly interchangeable. That the fight ended with a kick to the balls didn't improve it. (Though I don't think you intended that to be humorous, to your credit.) Worse yet, the ending made the entire thing pointless! Gladii fell and everyone died. You told us through your story that Roman emperors were decadent, arrogant, and bloodthirsty, but that wasn't news. I wanted at least one character to care about so the events and their culimination would be meaningful. What I got was an action scene, not a particularly good one, and nothing more.
Schneider Heim, "It's not just a phase, dad"
Odd word choices reared their unsightly heads. The proper phrases in these contexts would have been "at the party" and "on your own terms," not "in the party" or "in your own terms"; "the agape mouth" clunked hard--"gaping mouth" would have been loads better. "Complement" and "compliment" aren't the same word. I'm inclined to overlook the rough grammar, though, since you pulled off the second-person point of view. This story probably didn't need to be in second person, but that choice added some interest and immediacy to it all. Nice!
You made great use of your object. However, I wasn't as crazy about the second mask turning up when the person wearing it was revealed, ever so conveniently, as a boy of the protagonist's own age that her father wanted her to meet. (I'd hoped he was a real Aztec god, up to mysterious hijinks.) My interest dropped sharply when they turned out to be idealistic teens who were totally going to save the world, man. The mood the piece seemed to be trying for was almost cloyingly sweet. It strayed close to the territory of a poor-little-rich-girl Hallmark romance. The second-person PoV and the masks might have worked against the story in that regard, because I expected something rich and strange from them instead of what was delivered--my disappointment with which was largely a matter of preference, to be sure.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 19:58 on Dec 8, 2015
|# ? Nov 14, 2015 09:22|
Thanks for the crit, Kaishai!
As for my requests, I'll do them throughout the weekend.
|# ? Nov 14, 2015 10:35|
In case you cant tell time, signups are closed.
|# ? Nov 14, 2015 13:48|
Thanks for the crit!
|# ? Nov 14, 2015 18:32|
Some of you may remember a couple months ago, when we were doing those nifty TD recaps. We've lapsed quite a bit, but apparently some people actually like hearing goons talk about Thunderdome, so myself, Kaishai, Ironic Twist, and Djeser decided to pick up where we left off, on week 161.
The [unrehearsed, unedited] recap:
you can also find all the other TD recap-related recordings there!
In this recording, we cover Sebmojo and Oxxidation and their close battle for the win, as well as DMs SadisTech, Kurona_Bright, and God Over Djinn, plus the loser, GlyphGryph. GryphGlyph? That guy. To finish things off, Djeser was nice enough to read Sebmojo's hilarious winning story, "Dave:".
Also thank you, whoever got me a new av
|# ? Nov 15, 2015 06:56|
I made these notes while drafting the document for the Week 161 recap, and I'm posting them in case they could be interesting or useful to anyone.
I'll play the advocate for this story. It's cheeky in regards to the prompt because the whole thing is one person talking to another, never mind that there aren't quotation marks involved. However, the narrative voice is what makes this, a dry, sardonic tone that keeps Dave's adventures on the right side of absurdity. It's not deep, but it's fun, and it's a clever response to the challenge.
Oxxidation, "Keep Warm"
There's a beauty here that sebmojo's piece doesn't have, along with a very different kind of elegance. It packs a lot more emotional weight. In some ways this is more of a writer's story. For me, the ending stumbles--the lover turning to fire does not actually make any sense--and I taste the faintest tang of disappointment, but that this piece has more dimension is probably beyond reasonable debate. Coulda, woulda been a worthy winner.
GlyphGryph, "Death on the Doorstep"
Not the worst story to ever lose Thunderdome, but along with too many noir cliches, it has a last-minute twist ending that makes the whole thing meaningless. Is it a long joke? The reveal is a bit cute if you can ignore how long he's wasted your time--in a different week he might have gotten away with it.
SadisTech, "Upon the Waters"
First off, the rainbow is supposed to be God's promise that there will never be another flood on the Biblical scale. It shows up too early here. Second, this goes on too long and involves too little doing anything. It isn't clear why "Eve" is "the right one" but the ape-man who first thought of striking the tree was not. Both came up with plans using tools. I probably wouldn't have DMed it given the strength of the prose, but the story is predictable shading toward trite.
God Over Djinn, "The Hand That Stills My Wings"
If I had to choose three DMs from this week or be shot in the head, I might choose this one, though I'd be tempted to hit Benny Profane first. Thranguy's complaint that it reads like multiple stories jammed together is one with which I agree. The girl's malady is a muddle, especially toward the end. It's not Djinn's best. My quibble with its DM is that there didn't have to be three DMs at all, and this is far closer to flawed than bad.
Benny Profane, "Timber"
(This wasn't written for the recap, but my comment above calls for explanation.)
I hate this formatting. I despise it. I want to shiv it and throw it down on a parking lot and run my car over it a few times. I wouldn't come back to pick it up, I tell you what. The second-person PoV is used well, but the giant block paragraphs repel my eyes and my interest--and why? What's gained by arranging the sentences this way? This is a vignette, too, of course. Not a bad one, abhorrent structure aside; the main character's breakdown is drawn with skill and emphasized by quiet metaphors like the dying car, the air conditioning of which is failing. Just enough information is given that I can infer that the man has lost his job. The title is perfect. But the formatting is a rotten choice that does the work significant harm: I bounced off the paragraphs multiple times before I finally latched onto the story they told.
kurona_bright, "Builds Character"
The premise is so ridiculous that the story never had a chance. The kid could certainly have gotten into some college; my own alma mater accepted depressingly low GPAs, and I doubt a single D would drop his high school average below 2.5. The MC's angst is overblown and impossible to swallow. The mother's reaction is the worst part since it rules out that this guy is a melodramatic perfectionist.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 10:28 on Nov 15, 2015
|# ? Nov 15, 2015 09:05|
Some Week 170 crits
docbeard - You Are Alive
So the alien was inscrutable and legitimately scary when I think of it. Irina's life sucked but she did something about it. Or did she?? The ambiguous ending didn't really add to anything. It's one thing to feel responsible for the death of an entire city, but the presentation was a little too basic, and Irina came off as a little too whiny when the alien explained itself to her. Overall not bad, but not good, either.
sebmojo - Black Yolk
Some good turns of phrase here but this was a forgettable yarn. It has my all-time favorite plot of: bad things happen to the protagonist, the end. I mean, why? You had a lot of words left! My mind blanked during the destruction of the city part. I just got really bored.
Lazy Beggar - Umbra Vesuvii
This story had flavor. I'm no Roman scholar but it felt authentic, save for the names of the gods--you mixed up the Greek/Roman names. However, that's about the best thing I can say about it. Giant god fights monster as the protagonist looks on wasn't terribly exciting, and the tell-y narrative voice further distanced me from holding significant interest. Please make your protagonist do something on their own next time.
|# ? Nov 15, 2015 17:01|
Here are some abandoned judge-thoughts from Pokeweek. This week's crits will come in a timely manner.
Just Business- Meinberg
There are some really nice lines in this. The problem with this story is that it doesn’t actually get moving until it is about 60 percent complete. There’s nothing in that first 60 percent that is absolutely essential. I don’t mind the conflict one bit, even if Meyers is a bit stereotypical as a character. The problem is, again, since everything is occurring so late because of how everything is paced, the introduction of the conflict and Isa’s response both seem unfulfilling. I’d like to see the story that was written if this started with Isa being discovered.
And Edward Would, Too.- Tyrannosaurus
I don’t really need to say much about this. Ty knows how to plot/pace a story. All of my concerns with regard to this story have to do entirely with miniscule stylistic decisions which would be unfair to hold against you. The only legitimate complaint the judges had was one that you’ve heard before, the accents made your story tough to comprehend occasionally. Still, this would have probably won if we weren’t so delighted with Seb’s story.
Charged- Ironic Twist
I love the setting in this story. In a week filled with interesting set pieces, this story was the one that sat in the forefront of my mind at the thought of revisiting this week and finishing the crits that I had shamelessly abandoned. Harmonized perfectly with your chosen topic, the biggest problem with your story was one of verisimilitude, namely that the decision that Zain makes to walk into the energy field is baffling and seemed nonsensical to the judges. The reversal at the end of the story also seems to come out of nowhere, and as a result I remember feeling confused about where you were trying to go with the story. There are some really cool things here, however.
“Olaf Berger saw his new boss for the first time at 8.15 AM Monday morning. By two o’clock that afternoon he wanted to eat him.” I love it. This is also incredibly smart, because you won this week by writing the most simple character out of every story submitted. I know exactly what Olaf wants, and over the next 600 words you explain why he can’t have it. This was a a bit of a risk; in the hands of a lesser skilled writer, the setup might have seemed too ridiculous, but you pulled it off with style. The change of pace really helped you as well, as your entire story reflected the punchiness of your opening line.
The Desert's Milk- Jonked
“Recruited?” Roy shrieked, incensed. “Into WHAT? Your barbarian death cult?” This is the line that lost me. I really enjoyed the setup of this story, but, like many other during the week, it took far too long to get moving. Then, once it does start to pay off, you have this line, which is a bit too on the nose. The rest of the story feels unmotivated. It’s hard to be entirely constructive here because the plot would be difficult to revise, but you should try to give your characters at least one point in each story where he or she has at least two viable courses of action. Reading about a prolonged death march isn’t the most engaging, even if there is cool stuff sprinkled on the edges.
Give Me a Home- Bompacho
The judges had an agreement that if your story lacked conflict, we would call it out, which is why you DMed. Again, there is a neat setting at the core here, but this story was perhaps the most forgettable of the entire week. You burn half of your word count describing a chase that has no stakes. When the protag loses his ear there are no stakes either because he immediately passes out and wakes up in utopia. It’s hard to care when there is no gravity in the story.
Signor Ugolino Sings the Blues- GP
This story definitely has your mark on it. That’s a good thing. I really did enjoy this story, and personally I had it rated pretty highly, but there were two main problems with it. First, there was a lack of urgency to anything, which I think resulted from a lack of any clear and immediate conflict. There are other conflicts on the fringes of the story certainly, the relationship conflict, the conflict of Man v. Nature, but there was nothing that had a clear priority. I also struggled with understanding the connection to your chosen pokemon. Ultimately this left me with more questions than I started with, but I would 100 percent read a longer story set in this world.
This is a cool story, and I appreciate many of the things that you do. Ultimately, it feels as if your conflict is lacking, even though you do have some resolution. I’ve learned that it is really hard to just have an emotional conflict payoff and feel rewarding with these super short stories. I would have liked to read a version where there is more physicality to the conflict, because some of your images in this are really cool. “One day, she thought, there will be a world where everyone pays attention. I’ll be a part of it. My eyes will be black like everyone else’s. My head will be a hole and I’ll fill it with everything around me. With everyone.” love that line.
Bone and Stone- Killer of Lawyers
I think the primary issue with this story is one of pacing. You start off with a little character interaction, which is good. What follows is exactly 662 words of action written in summary. This tells me two different things. First, a lot of time is passing. Secondly, none of it is that important.
The winning story for the week was comprised of fewer words than this section. That much summary and description, without any real dialogue, robs your story of any momentum.
A Flour-Type Bug- KB
You have characters and a conflict, which is good. The problem here is that everything in this world, the characters, the conflict, lack weight. Everyone is just sort of floating. Characters get angry and yell at each other, but there is no force to their punches. This isn’t to say that a character has to be in mortal danger or anything like that, but it is difficult to care when everything seems so carefree. Maybe a little more attention to the conflict would have served you better. It’s hard to say for sure.
The rest of life- TheAnomaly
I think I made my thoughts on this clear in the judgment post. You can simply look at the shape of the story and see that there are fundamental issues with the story. Lack of dialogue, giant blocks of text. This needs major revisions to be workable.
Sealskinned- Blood Queen
This is a story that is trying to do too much for how it is focused. I love the opening line, but it informs the reader as to the seemingly epic scope of the story, and I’m not sure such epic-ness was afforded by the wordcount. There is a fable like quality to this, which I don’t mind, but I think the more interesting story in this case would involve just focusing on one little encounter during Meera’s journey. Some of this writing is straight gorgeous though.
Ink Clouds- Kaishai
I love the premise of this and really wish that you would have used the full word count. There’s a whimsey to the message in a bottle aspect that, while still being fantastic, has the potential for real weight and consequence. And it does have real weight and consequence. The problem for me was just that I wanted to know more. I would have loved to get more on Hughes’ father and his relationship with Lucia. Only having some hazy bits of information regarding the initial conflict that lead to Lucia’s escape made it difficult to connect fully with the conflict in the present of the story.
I’m not sure if you are still lurking in thread, but you should come back to TD if you are. There isn’t anything terribly wrong with this story, but like many others it lacked weight. What does your protag actually do in the story? He hides. It’s hard to make that compelling. The writing here is solid, and I would like to see you write some more on different topics.
|# ? Nov 15, 2015 20:08|
Thanks for the notes/crits, Kaishai and wlotm.
|# ? Nov 15, 2015 21:55|
Thanks for the crit. Want me to crit something? If not, I'll crit someone else''s story from any TD week. In fact, I'll just do that anyway.
|# ? Nov 15, 2015 23:33|
Some Week 170 crits
|# ? Nov 15, 2015 23:39|
A Sealed Fate
I avoided quick movements when it was that cold. I feared my limbs would snap off. Ice surrounded my breaker, the horizon blurred into the icy blue sky. I hated this season, but money was to be had from the little hunting we were permitted to do. And money wasn’t to be had often these days.
“Look, captain!” one of my men shouted. “There’s a full herd of ‘em.”
And it was full. We would have reached our daily quota by noon, if we got them all. At least fifty seals, I guessed, so I sent out all of my men to collect their pelts. I told them not to bring back the un-molted coats. I couldn’t be bothered with the hassle of shifting them; now that they had been banned for so long, most avenues had been closed. Perhaps that was right.
I stayed on the ship, watching my men traverse the ice with their sacks and hakapiks, grim tools for cracking the seals’ skulls. I didn’t have the stomach for the noises it made, so I tended to stay on the vessel. And just as well I did! In this distance I saw the silhouette of a cluster of people in the distance. They advanced in a straight line towards my crew. I suspected another ship had spotted the gang of seals and planned on sharing our haul, or rather forcing us to share it. I wasn’t for it.
The men from my ship were unaware of this ambush so I grabbed my rifle, moving faster than I’d have preferred, and jumped on to the ice. As I made my way towards them, I noticed they weren’t moving. No tell-tale sign of a long stick rising over their heads and the resulting distinct colouring of the perfect white ice. I looked through the rifle's scope at them. They were each of them looking around the surrounding area, searching for something. Had they somehow seen the impending danger? I moved faster still, wincing at each crack my weary body made.
As I grew closer, I could make out the horrid sound of seals. Why weren’t they clubbing them? These hardened men hadn’t gone soft, had they? I could still see the approaching crew making their way towards them. Hadn’t they seen the danger? I called out. It wasn’t until my third cry that they all turned towards me. I reached them and then I saw why they were puzzled. They were surrounded by seal pelts. No blood marred the ice. No carrion remained for the birds. “What is this?” I muttered to myself. The barking was growing louder. If there were no seals here, where was the noise coming from? It couldn’t be! The gang I thought were men! Then I looked up and they were almost upon us. Seals! The sunlight reflected off their deep, dark eyes. They had stopped about ten yards from us, about fifty of them. Their innards were exposed as if they had shed their pelts and blubber. The barking was deafening. And then they charged at us. Some shouted things like “Run!” or “God help us!”, but we all ran towards the ship. It took us a few minutes to realise we were no longer being chased; it wasn’t until we stopped because of the sight of our ship. We could see it, in the distance, set alight. “What is this?” I asked again, this time more loudly in hope of answers. My men offered none. And I had none myself.
We spent hours there. We had tried to reach the ship, but it had proven too dangerous. When we had gotten closer we were all stricken with the desire to vomit. The burning smell was disgusting; one of the hunters pointed out that the boat, the parts not yet engulfed in flames, were gleaming. It looked like they had been rubbed with fat. Or blubber, one of them suggested. And throughout, always the yelping persisted. The pile of pelts saved us from freezing out there. Plenty of other hunters came this way, so we waited for them on their return leg. Eventually another breaker came. We gave them the pelts as a way of thanks. But really they just worried us, and so we wanted shot of them.
I’ve not seen any of that crew since that day. And I haven’t told anyone about it. I returned to St John’s the next day. I don’t know what my crew did, but I suspect they left too. Every night I went to bed and I heard those seals cackling. Whenever I managed to actually sleep, I would always dream of that century of black, gleaming eyes. Then the clamour of their mirthful yapping would ring out through my head, and I would awake.
One night I awoke in just those circumstances. But when I came to, the laughter didn’t die. I sat up on my bed. Where was it coming from? Was it in my head? Light danced outside of my window chaotically. My nostrils filled with that horrid smell from that day on the ice. I jumped out of my bed and ran towards my window. My car was upturned and burning. Smeared across it were profanities. Disgusting words written in blood. Curiously this calmed me in a sense; anger had replaced fear. It was typical animal activist stuff. I called the services. The fire brigade were on their way, along with the police. It was going to be a long night. As I was about to sit down, I saw movements in the shadows cast by my burning car. I had a mind to go out and lecture those naive activists. I would ask them what difference there was to me and a butcher on the high street! I ran out of the house. I hoped to catch them and detain them for the police.
As soon as I left the house, the barking intensified. I had forgotten about it in my haste to catch these violent protesters. I ran down the steps from my house into the garden and stopped. The noise was coming from behind me; it sounded similar to a swarm of bees but with more guttural and whiny sounds mingled in with the buzz. I slowly turned around, but I already knew what I would see. The glimmer in the black circles. The deep, sad eyes of the peltless seals. My anger dissipated, but my fear didn’t return. Seeing them, I felt a release. I could accept vengeance from them, it made sense to me. They advanced slowly. They beat with their flippers until I crumbled to the floor. They then scrambled on top of me, some slapped, others stamped. I didn’t fight back.
Then I heard the sounds of sirens. I didn’t feel relief knowing help was on its way; I felt cheated. The bloody seals fled the scene so by the time the police arrived, I was sat on the floor on my own. I could still hear the faint sound of seals’ laughing when the officer asked, “More problems with activists, eh?”
“It was the seals!”
“The what... are you okay? You look pretty bad.”
“It was the seals. Can’t you hear them?” I asked.
The officer shared a worried look with her partner. “What are you talking about?”
“You don’t hear it?” I whispered my question this time. And still they barked.
|# ? Nov 16, 2015 00:19|
"A woman plans a wedding for thousands of dollars, but finds out that her fiancee has a ton of debt and then he dumps her over a text message."
(In the archive)
docbeard fucked around with this message at 15:48 on Dec 28, 2015
|# ? Nov 16, 2015 02:12|
A woman claims a man conned her into buying a car without a title and presses charges against him for fraud.
“You give me the title,” Satan offered, “and I’ll give you back your soul.”
“That simple? A title is worth my soul?” I asked. As a used car salesman, I knew there was a catch.
It had started three weeks ago. A woman named Jasmine had come to my dealership, said she was on a tight budget, but wouldn’t buy a piece of junk. I knew her type, willing to spend more than she said if you got her frustrated enough. I had her on the ropes, exhausted and dead-eyed. In the end, she spent fourteen thousand on a car that wasn’t worth ten. Better yet, that was before the interest-accruing payment plan for the half of the money she didn’t have.
Two days later, she came back. “Hey, rear end in a top hat Steve, where’s the title?” Lovely.
I gave her a wide smile. “It’s in the glovebox, Jasmine.”
“No it ain’t. I checked and double-checked. You’re cheating me.”
“Not a problem. For only eleven dollars, I can go down to the DMV and get a new one. Just come back in two weeks and it’ll be here for you.” I continued smiling.
“Oh no! You ain’t getting more of money. Get me the title by tomorrow, or my boyfriend will teach you a lesson.”
I stopped smiling. Couldn’t say I was surprised, though. “Threats are not okay. Leave immediately, or I’m calling the police.”
“I should be the one calling the police on you!” she yelled as she stomped off.
Before closing that night, I checked through paperwork in case I really hadn’t given her the title. A bottle of scotch kept me company. The title wasn’t there, meaning she definitely got it, probably trying to scam me in some way. I briefly considered various revenge fantasies as I drained another glass. The life of a used car salesman was boring.
“A title is a soul. The distilled existence of the car. It’s a nice enough car, as it’s not every day someone comes down here clutching a title,” Satan explained while I tried not to think too hard of the metaphysical implications. “I’d like to drive it.”
I slowly nodded. “Do I get to go back? You know, to living?”
Satan laughed. I expected it to be accompanied by a thousand screaming souls of the damned, or punctuated with a surge of hellfire. Instead, it was just a nasally. The death of a used car salesman was boring, too. “Yes, don’t worry about that. Same body, except alive. Don’t expect miraculous healing though, you’re going to be in the hospital for a little while.”
The bitch really had brought her boyfriend. Big guy, looked like Thor hosed a bear, and called himself Daddy in the third person. The fight went out of him real quick when I pointed to the security cameras, so at least he wasn’t stupid.
I wished he was stupid.
The last two weeks of my life were hell, except for the part where hell isn’t all that bad. ’Daddy’ didn’t hurt me, but he did hurt things I cared about. Security cameras smashed. Used car tires slashed. Wasn’t sure if he was the one who took a dump in the coffee pot, might’ve been the new janitor who didn’t look right in the head. The police wouldn’t help without proof, something about selling the chief’s son a piece of junk. For the record, the vehicle I had sold him was very nice. For a six time salvage.
The more days passed, the worse the harassment got, until the day of my death. On that day, I found the title “Yes, yes!” I gripped it tighter than I’d grip a winning lottery ticket. It had been in the janitor’s closet, covered in indescribable stains. I was so excited by my discovery that I hadn’t bothered washing my hands before dialing Jasmine.
It was ‘Daddy’ who answered to respond to my good news, “Yeah, that’s right, nobody fucks with Daddy’s girl.”
Thirty minutes later and he was here, Jasmine with him. As I was going to hand him the title, he shoved me. I think he was just trying to teach me one last lesson, show off more, but the shove caused me to step back into a pool of motor oil. I fell backwards and, before my head split open on the pavement, my last thought was ‘I need to fire my janitor.’
“I wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for this stupid thing,” I said, waving the title closer to Satan. “Fine. Deal. If you’re tricking me, I don’t even care anymore.”
“Everyone always thinks that. I don’t know why.” Satan took the title from my hands and snapped his fingers. Everything started to go blurry.
“I just hope I can do something, legally speaking,” I said during my last moments of death.
He waved me off with a smile. “Well, if you ever need a lawyer, I know a few.”
Jon Joe fucked around with this message at 02:23 on Nov 16, 2015
|# ? Nov 16, 2015 02:16|
S19E129: Parking lot frustration results in assault and a dental bill. A man sues his ex for false arrest, stealing and damaging his property.
It wasn’t love or lust or fun. It was boredom. It was a warm body next to mine on the couch while we scrolled through Netflix shows, sometimes stopping, sometimes watching, but always passing through and through for hours. We scoured the minor genres until there was nothing left.
There was always something better. We were determined to find it.
When we finally watched, we sat and stared for hours, never talking, hardly touching, but that was the most comfortable I had ever felt. He was the perfect presence, the absolute body, the correct cadence of breath in and out but nothing more. He was lack, and that was what I wanted.
Later, he stole my bird.
Things sour, like they always do, even when you try to gut it out and deal with it. One day, I came home, saw his dirty shirts still sticking out from the laundry basket and thought to myself, yes. I packed and moved in with my friend Gwen.
“Roger stays with me,” he said, weeks later.
“You barely took care of him. Why would you get to keep him?”
“Roger stays with me.”
I looked over my coffee at our agreed-upon public place and wanted to strangle him for his calmness.
“I named him. I fed him. He’s my bird.”
He stood up, looking at me with that strange mix of pity and boredom he always had. “Roger stays with me.”
I watched him walk out and thought, this is the most attracted to him I’ve ever been.
“He’s keeping the bird?” Gwen asked, running a razor over her legs.
I watched while she pruned and the water turned cold.
“He’s keeping the bird,” I said.
“But Roger is yours.”
I nodded gravely. “I know.”
I could remember the day we bought him. Lonely suburbs, light rain. Its face was huge and I thought it looked like Mr. Rogers. Eventually, he looked over at me and croaked.
Back then I worked from home. Every morning I made coffee, fed Roger, and talked. Roger never talked back, but that was fine. The apartment was comfortable that way, with a man that hardly existed, and a bird that only wanted food.
“Get it back,” Gwen said. Her smooth skin sunk lines into the soapy water.
She looked up at me like I was an idiot. “You know how.”
Two days later, I watched him walk into the grocery store. We hunkered down, keeping out of sight. Following a person was a lot easier than I thought it would be.
“Okay,” Gwen said from the passenger seat, “this is your chance.”
“For the bird. We’re going to free him.”
“I thought we were just playing detective.”
She lit up a cigarette. I didn’t know she smoked. “We’re doing that, too.”
I rolled down the windows, but Gwen did things. “Fine, but what if he changed the locks?”
“Then we’ll think of something else.”
“Fine.” I put the car into gear and backed out of the spot. As I crossed the lot, closer toward the store, he stepped out. I saw him stare as we passed. Gwen flicked her cigarette toward him and he made that face, that passive stare.
I felt a thump and a scrape.
“gently caress!” Gwen yelled. I slammed on the brakes.
A shopping cart careened away from our front bumper, spinning wildly. It lost momentum as it hopped the curb.
I watched as it knocked into an older man, sending him sprawling.
“poo poo!” Gwen screamed.
I was out of the car and standing over the man. He was grey and sweatered. He looked up at me. “Did you loving do this?”
I felt my body start to vibrate. The old man’s voice sounded gummy, slurry. He began searching around frantically. After a second, I realized that his dentures were lying on the concrete, the fake teeth chipped. He must have spit them out as he fell.
“I’m so sorry! It was the cart! Are you okay?”
He found his teeth and stared at them. “You’re paying for these loving things.”
Gwen stood nearby, shaking her head.
He walked by but didn’t say a word.
I remembered feeding Roger seeds from my palm. His slimy tongue lolled out.
It was horrifying. Its eyes were nearly life-like, nearly understanding. Like it somehow knew that it could send the spiking jeebies through my stomach by taking its sweet time licking up the leftovers from my hand.
Roger was more like a decoration than a pet.
“We’re doing this right,” Gwen said as we crept up the sidewalk toward his apartment two weeks after the grocery store incident.
I was still hurting from that dental bill. But the old man was fine otherwise.
“I just want to finish this,” I whispered.
It was late. The yellow lights buzzed along the street as we moved up through the parking lot. I still had the key, and everything hinged on it working.
I slid it into the lock and turned. “Success,” Gwen whispered as we walked into the building
It didn’t feel like success. We moved down the carpeted hall toward his door. Toward Roger and liberation.
“Last chance,” Gwen said in a way that meant we’re doing it.
“The loving bird,” I said, and slipped the key into the lock.
For a second, I felt nostalgia for something I didn’t want anymore. We walked into the living room and toward the kitchen. It felt like I belonged, except I didn’t.
Roger was in his cage. He began to move as soon as I touched him. “Hurry up,” Gwen whispered.
I went to take Roger and his cage down from the pedestal. As soon as it began to swing free, Roger started screaming.
“gently caress! Shut it up!” Gwen screeched.
It was like slow motion, but it wasn’t. The kitchen light switched on and he stood there, staring at us, his face completely blank.
“Roger stays here,” he said.
“The bird is mine, rear end in a top hat.” I pushed past him and Gwen was right behind me.
The cops came faster than I expected. We were trying to get Roger situated in the bathroom, Gwen running the tub’s water, when they pounded on her door.
“It’s my bird,” I said as soon as I saw them.
But what did they care? All they knew was someone had broken into an apartment and abducted an animal.
I gave up. I put out my hands, ready to be cuffed.
But just as I began to leave with them, Gwen started talking. Her eyes bugged out, on the verge of tears, as she explained all about him. She said, Roger was our bird and we were afraid for it. She said, he abused Roger, never fed him. Please, Gwen begged, you’re taking the wrong person. He’s a monster. He’s starving Roger to death.
Well, that seemed to work. One of them must have been an animal lover.
They left, and ten minutes later I was watching Gwen shave while Roger ate grapes from my hand. She cackled, the bird squawked, and I wondered if he even noticed the cops hauling him off to jail.
|# ? Nov 16, 2015 02:23|
Something something five hours something something submissions due
|# ? Nov 16, 2015 03:04|
Sleepover and Out
"Ex-friends feud over a video-game console."
Edit- 1124 words.
Mr. Marina smiled as he helped his son into the colorful EVA suit. The boy sang to himself as his helmet pressurized.
Zen's cargo cube was packed with essentials: blanket, toothbrush, beloved dinosaur. He had pressurized the container all by himself the "night" before. It had been a year since the last time his best friend orbited so close. Virtual playdates were fun, but he thought there was something exciting about going to visit somewhere for a whole weekend. His parents enthusiastically agreed.
At the stop of the airlock klaxons Mr. Marina swung the hatch open, leading his tethered son out into Low Earth Orbit. He aligned his HUD and fired thrusters. "Wheee!" crackled Zen over the intercom. As their home shrank behind them in the endless black, Mr. Marina launched into his usual hiking lecture on orbital mechanics involved in space stations. He pointed out thunderstorms over Australia 250 miles below, pontificating on mankind's triumphant un-nesting, his escape from terrestrial life. Zen played with the holographic goldfish interface in his visor.
Their home shrank to a pinpoint behind them, while the speck in Mr. Marina's target graphics grew. "Is that it!?" Zen broadcast eagerly, flagging the point on his father's HUD with a question mark. "Yup!" Mr. Marina replied. "We're almost there!"
Gradually details came into view. Their new neighbors' solar panels were much cleaner than the Marinas', and their windows were bigger too. A huge dome through which Zebulon and his mother waved to them made Mr. Marina whistle. "The Arecibos must be doing pretty well for themselves" he said, turning the hatch handle. "Your mother wants a dome like that one".
Zen unclipped his cargo cube, fidgeting impatiently as atmosphere hissed back into the room. Zebulon, a blur of pajamas, shot through the hatch the moment the lights turned green. "Hey Zen! Wanna play Mind Machine? We're having cheesy broccoli for dinner! Did you do Miss Sciamachy's assignment yet? Wanna play Mind Machine? Hey Mr. Marinas!" he crammed into a single breath.
Zen's cargo cube collapsed neatly in the corner of the rumpus room, where the pajama-clad boy stood gripping his silver tyrannosaurus. "Roar" it reassured when squeezed.
"Just wait 'till you see it!" Zebulon chattered. "Mind Machine can do anything! When I got Mind Machine, my head almost exploded! I was like, PHBHSHSHBHSHSHBSHBSHBSH". Zebulon flourished with a sound effect that required a cloud of spit to pronounce. The cloud dissipated, revealing the device clutched in the boy's hands. It was unassuming, a metallic rectangle with a line of blue spheres running down one side.
"Well, it sure is getting late!" Mr. Arecibo yawned theatrically as he floated out of his chair, and made a playful show of activating the rumpus room's control panel. "Your mother and I will be in our quarters if you boys need anything. And I just might have forgotten to set the power curfew until 0:00. Clumsy me!" He took another drag from his vape-pipe and swam down the hall in a silly backstroke that elicited a giggle from Zen and a scoff from Zebulon. "G'night boys!"
"My dad's goofy. Wanna fight devils with swords!?"
The blinking black rectangle sluggishly aligned itself as gyroscopes came to speed. The blue spheres at its side released and drifted across the room towards the boys, glowing. Zen batted away the two aimed at him, but they wafted back every time. "No, let them line up, dummy" chastised Zebulon. "You wanna go fishing? We should kill angels. You'd like the dinosaur game. Or maybe not. This is gonna be so great!!!"
Zen floated a moment in hesitance, but finally allowed the spheres to light upon his temples as they so adamantly desired to do. "Okay, first I..." he said, then lost consciousness.
Zen felt metal against his skin. He was bobbing up and down. Total darkness gave way to a sliver of light for a second at the peak of a bump, but it clanged down shut again. Panicked, he grasped for his face, but found only a hardened shell.
Zen lifted the visor of his helmet. He was in an enormous boulder-strewn valley, riding on a horse. His other hand held the reins, a buckler and sword at his side. The wind seeped through the cracks of his armor, and he could smell his horse. He no longer needed to pee.
"Help! I'm from space I don't belong here!" whimpered the grizzled knight, and began to cry. A cloaked figure approached him, as if from nowhere. "Shut up!" he said.
"Okay so you're the good guys and I'm the bad guys. You have a horse and a sword and I have an evil book. We get more power using our stuff and fight, okay? Go!"
The knight continued crying as the cloaked figure traced glowing runes in a black tome. It emitted triumphant sounds of accomplishment, glowing numbers and plus signs in cascading torrents. The knight's horse circled, as he dropped the reins and buckler, weeping. The only glowing symbols that appeared before him were the words "do sword tricks to level up".
"All right!" yelled the cloaked figure as he burst into purple flames with a trill. Giggling, he emerged from the inferno wearing nicer clothes. Two devils oozed out of his hands, and immediately ran towards the knight, screeching.
"Mine's broken!" sobbed the knight as the devils knocked him from the saddle. The animal died fast, and each item the devils looted from the corpse filled the air with triumphant musical stings. The knight swatted at warnings that buzzed his face, negative numbers in red pouring out of the back of his helmet like a plume.
"I got you now, sucka!" taunted the elaborately cloaked figure with arms akimbo. He selected something in his spell-book with a weighty sound effect, and the skies began to churn. In an instant a hurricane was raging, and from its center a hundred-foot-tall demon thrust its arms and emerged. It picked up the knight, and began throttling him in mid-air.
Something primal in Zen snapped. He struck out at his own temples with the toy dinosaur he knew was still in his hands. Everything shimmered.
Mr. Marina looked tired as he depressurized in the Arecibo family's airlock for the second time that "night". Hurtful words flew, alliances dissolved, pants were delivered. Fathers shrugged and apologized, eager to crawl back to bed. There would be time to talk about the cost of a pair of Mind Machine neurocontrollers later, now it was time to go home.
Zen slept in his EVA suit as his father towed him home, cheeks red and nose boogery, exhausted by terror and a screaming fistfight. Mr. Marina sighed to his wife over his communicator.
"Boys." He explained to her.
BoldFrankensteinMir fucked around with this message at 05:39 on Nov 16, 2015
|# ? Nov 16, 2015 05:34|
|# ? Feb 9, 2023 06:16|
Current Playlist: All The Worst Songs, Ever
"A miscarriage days before a wedding leads to a dispute between the grieving newlyweds and a disgruntled DJ"
I bang on the side of the sound booth while the Deejay frantically flips switches and presses buttons with no result. Below, the crooning tones of Paul Anka's voice stoke the crowd into greater and greater heights of sorrow, anger, and embarrassment. It won't be long before a mob gathers to storm up here and beat him bloody. If they find me here they'll be more than happy to change their target. I keep on banging at the door.
Ten Hours Ago
I wake up as the plane begins its final descent. I'm hung-over, confused, and have very little memory of the last day. When it lands and we come within range of the airport cell towers, my phone fills with texts from Cheryl, my sister and the only one of Jan's friends who's still speaking to me. I read them mostly to turn off the flashing light, trying to find the magic distance from phone to eye that lets the letters settle into focus.
'Terrible news. Jan in hospital all day yesterday, lost the baby.'
'Just so you know, Jan and Dave still going through with ceremony tomorrow, against doc's advice.'
'Where are you, anyway?'
'Just what did you do last night?'
A very good question, that last one. As I start to piece together the answer I realize that I have to fly right back across the country, immediately.
Three Hours Ago
I am very much not on the invitation list, and all of the ushers know my face. I'm not going to get into the church with the guests, but the flip side is that I know all of the names and details. I go to a side entrance, and tell the church employee there that I'm with the photographer's crew. I tell them that Traeger wants me to get one more angle to break up the long scenes for the DVD. I'm able to answer his questions, and he lets me in. I get up to a side balcony and find a good place, hidden behind the column to watch the love of my life marry another man.
Four Days Ago
“This doesn't change anything, you know,” says Jan.
“Really?” I say, sitting up in her bed. “You cheat on your fiancee with me, right after telling me that the last time you cheated on your fiancee with me I knocked you up and you say it doesn't change anything?”
“Well,” she says, sitting up and revealing her best qualities, “It doesn't.”
“I'm still going to marry David. And this has to be the last time.” She pulls up her sheet to cover her breasts.
“I could tell him,” I say.
“He'd beat the hell out of you,” she says. “And then he'd forgive me in a second.”
I could tell where the conversation is heading, and make a quick survey of the room to locate my shirt, pants, and shoes, for future reference. “But why?”
She looks away. “Well, you have to know that he's...”
“Better than me?” I interject.
She smiles an evil little smile. “Well, you said it, not me.”
“But you think it.”
“What I think is that you should leave, now.” I'm already pulling my pants on.
Three Hours Ago
“Should anyone here present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony,” says the Reverend. This is the time; this has to work. I hold the microphone plug directly in front of the hole. “speak now, or forever,” I plug in the microphone and get a squeal of feedback. I pull it back out again and the noise stops as he finishes “hold your peace.” I hold my breath and wait. Nothing happens. I let out my breath, then walk quickly toward the stairs and exit. One down. I still don't quite remember everything else I did, but I do recall going to the reception hall next. If I leave now I'll have a bit of a lead on the wedding party.
Eighteen Hours Ago
I congratulate myself on my world-class prankery. Voice-activated speakers hidden in the sound system. As soon as the preacher hits the end of the 'speak now' line, the whole church will be filled with the sound of a loud, screaming baby. Not completely certain to work, but only the first part in the plan. If somebody sneezes or something in the middle of the line and he doesn't repeat himself, it won't trigger. The other parts are foolproof, and the best thing about it is that I'll be thousands of miles away when it happens.
I take a brief glance at the centerpiece in the passenger seat beside me. It's almost perfect; an eight-month-pregnant bride and a groom with a literal stick up his butt. Maybe give him a black eye or a missing tooth before swapping it on the cake, if there's time? That would make it even better.
One Hour Ago
Swapping the centerpieces in the dead of night had been easy, almost trivial. Now I have to undo the damage from the middle of a crowded kitchen. Also, I have no idea what I might have done with the original, so best case, we're talking about a cake that has a giant bare patch on top, not unlike David in five years or so.
The catering is being done by Cheryl's company. I know the uniform well enough to fake it, especially with the temps handling things backstage. The cake is where I'd last seen it, in a small pantry off the main kitchen. I go in, lift the giant veil and admire my handiwork one last time. I try to take it off and the entire top layer comes with it. I must have used something stronger than fondant to keep it in place. I try to put it back, but only make things worse as the pillars start to fall and tear through the layers below.
I look at the ruined cake. No saving it, only thing left is to draw attention away from the centerpiece. I snap the figures off. They break just below the ankles and I pocket them. Then I take out a matchbook and climb up the shelves, then light one and let it burn right under the sprinkler. The alarm goes off and I let the sprinkler system go MacArthur Park on the thing for a good minute. There's still the groom's cake, after all.
The alarm has cleared the kitchen, but the caterers will be back in a few minutes now that it's stopped. I know I'm there's something I'm still not remembering, so I decide to hide out in the reception hall, hoping that I can figure out what it is before it's too late. I don't.
The last lines of “She's Having My Baby” wash over the mortified crowd as I continue to pound on the booth. The Deejay has no hope of overriding the playlist I programmed in the night before, but he's trying too hard at it to notice me at the door. David and his four burly brothers are heading this way, and I have a choice: stay and take the beating I so thoroughly deserve, or flee and let the blameless Deejay catch their wrath.
I bolt for the back door as Diana Ross and the Supremes' “Love Child” starts to play, and I don't look back.
|# ? Nov 16, 2015 06:03|