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Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012


Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 19:11 on Dec 30, 2015


Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012


Ironic Twist posted:

Let's do this.

Bennosaurus Brawl

1000 words, write me a funny story where all the characters are either under 10 years old or over 80 years old.
Date and time?

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

Ironic Twist posted:

Let's do this.

Bennosaurus Brawl

1000 words, write me a funny story where all the characters are either under 10 years old or over 80 years old.

E: not either/or, you can use both.

Deadline is midnight EST next Sunday.

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012


Ironic Twist posted:

Deadline is midnight EST next Sunday.
Thank you

Jan 10, 2006

Gloop 938 words

A single outlet fan failed to siphon more than a little poison into the alley outside. Sammi had let out a little cough within a minute of stepping into the workshop, choking on the fumes that rose off the vats and the grainy smoke provided by the burners beneath. Each time Sammi coughed the woman next to her let out a little wheeze and the overseer who was concealed by the swirling smoke grunted in annoyance. After two hours of blistering her hands on the  broomhandle mixing the gloop contained in the large tub, and adding substances and liquids by the scoop and bucketload, the symphony of bronchitis reached its peak. Sammi doubled over coughing, spluttering for breath. Her wheezing companion looked on with a whinging series of sighs that further drove the overseer to distraction.   

As the man strode out of the cloying smog he created a current in the air, a moment of freshness before his thunder crack slap struck Sammi between the shoulder blades.

“You should go home. I do not want you to give anyone else an illness.”

Sammi looked towards the door - a faint effusement, ethereal, impossible. Her chest ached and her back smarted, but she clenched her fists under her desk.

“I just want to work, Sir. I am not sick.”

He considered her, taking stock. Then, like many had before him, he smiled, and asked.

“This is not the nicest work for a young girl like yourself. Why not try something more - suited to you?”

“I am here to work.”

The man looked at her not-quite-so-young-any-more face and chapped raw hands and bloodshot red eyes and considered.

“Then get back to work. And no more coughing.” He set his eye on the wheezing woman, who held her breath as he walked away.

The woman, only 3 years older than Sammi (whose hair had been lustrous in the way that women who buy expensive conditioner in the expensive supermarket in middle of the city only dream about) adjusted her hat and put another scoop of colouring into the gloop.

The gloop was poured, and set and made shapes, some spelling out the names of scores of cities. The shapes seemed to amuse the foreigners who visited these other cities.

In this city they walked the avenues, looking through the windows of the boutiques at shoes and such fripperies, and at the items displayed for them on blankets. They did not know, or perhaps did not care that the fripperies and companion tchotchkes were produced by similar hardship. The blankets had strings tied to their corners, so that if a policeman, or someone who looked like a policeman was thought to be nearby, the sellers could quickly gather them up, and scurry away.

Patrice had travelled here by himself. He had been young then, but now he was fourteen years old, and had his own blanket. He smiled at everyone, because he was happier now than he had been before, and if he smiled enough he might forget before all together, and that he didn’t know where his parents were. He had been told before he made the crossing that however cold he was, however frightened of the waves and noise and the rain and the thunder and the rolling clouds and the lightning that he must stay on the deck of the boat. Do not go down into the boat, do not allow anyone to put you below a hatch. He had not.

Others had, and they had washed up on the beaches of Italy for weeks.

The people who bought the things on Patrice’s blanket confused him. They would not look at him, until they had to. They would stare at the shapes, and sometimes laugh, or smile, and point.

“How much?” The man asked, without looking at Patrice. Patrice shrugged - money is a relative concept after all.


The man laughed and walked away.


The man stopped.


The man turned and reached for his pocket.

Patrice felt invisible.

Sometimes they would haggle, sometimes they would argue, and Patrice enjoyed this. The haggling acknowledged his existence. But normally they were like this.

Afterwards the strange people would stroll away and Patrice would arrange the things in the most pleasing way possible on the blanket and would watch closely for a policeman. Within an hour he and the other sellers would furl their wings and scatter.

The thing that had been bought would travel. After the journey in the suitcase they would be placed with a little fanfare with others of its kind from different conquered cities. Returning to these places would be a waste of time - we did everything in the guide book already.

The things huddled on the shelf together, forming a faint reek of their mother gloop. They certainly brightened up the place. And they were quickly forgotten, except when they are required to be a trophy of the owner’s cosmopolitan travels - and by extension the owner’s cosmopolitan nature.

Time moves on, the solidified gloop remains, worn and chipped and flaking. Finally something changes, and they are discarded. They are considered, and perhaps some reach a charity shop of some kind, resigned to a dusty shelf that no one cares about.

Finally, in exasperation, they are sent to be recycled. They cross the sea, a cargo container full or so. Sammi has been busy. They reach a city, and then a workshop, and they are crushed to rocky chunks.

Sammi takes a handful and allows her life and health to run through her fingers. She adjusts her hat and upends a bucket - full into the gloop.

Oct 30, 2003

Ancient Blades posted:

Pulling Strings
edited story.

You hosed up. 250 words by deadline on any painting by someone who failed. If it's boring or not proofread it doesn't count.

Succeed and you avoid a DQ.

Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?
Ave Maria
656 words

“In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti,” Joseph said, and laid a hand on the stranger’s still-hot forehead, the man’s body a hollow husk like something had sucked it dry from within. Joseph closed his bible. Specks of dust whirred through the air, trapped in the rays of light that snuck into the sleeping chamber through barricaded windows.

The stranger had arrived the night before, barely standing straight. He’d brought with him a burning fever, and an infant child. “A gift…” he’d said. “A gift to humanity.” That’s all he’d been able to get out before he’d collapsed on the doorstep.

Joseph closed the stranger’s eyes and turned towards the doorway. The sunlight in the chapel seemed to have a different quality – dull and bleak, like cutting through a twilight that wasn’t supposed to be there. It didn’t enlighten the room; it subtracted from its darkness.

Joseph edged towards the crib in the middle and the laughter rose up again, fouling the air with a sound that was just a bit off, just a pitch too deep and came from too far away. This child was not normal. It didn’t sleep. It refused to eat. It laughed all the time – except when he watched. Then it just lay there. Joseph looked down into the crib, and the child stared up at the ceiling with empty eyes. His stomach churned.

He’d prayed to God for guidance, but this place had been void of his presence for a long time. Only the lost came here, and they didn’t tend to stay long.

Maybe it was all in his head. He hadn’t slept much, maybe even caught that stranger’s fever. Surely, the child must have been sick too. Yes. That was it. He bowed down into the crib. He’d take the child to the village medicus. Then he’d arrange for the burial.

As his hands hovered closer to the child, it caught one of his fingers. They locked eyes. The laughter rang through Joseph’s head.

It showed him the future.

Angel wings blossomed from his back. Joseph soared through the air, gliding through the smell of incense with warm sunlight on his back and the child cradled in his arms. He dived through the orange clouds, flew over villages and towns. Angels in flowing garb accompanied him, glistening and sparkling and smiling, and each broke off and dipped down at a different town to spread the message: the messiah has arrived, all rejoice, the messiah is here!

When Joseph landed he revealed the child to the world, and all people bowed, and crossed themselves, and chanted, “God bless us, God Allmighty!” And they built a church there, and all the people came to pray, and to be thankful, and peace on earth was perfect and eternal.

The child laughed. Joseph was back inside his chapel. There were no wings on his back, not yet.

“A gift…” he said, his voice a monotone string that pulled his puppet arms. He raised the child out of its crib, turned it, inspected it from all sides. It laughed, and a smile formed on Joseph’s face.

“Maybe you are…”


The world turned all around him, wavering, smoldering. He knocked on the door, again. His legs bent under the heavy load, and he steadied himself against the wall with one arm, pulling the child closer to his chest with the other.

The door opened. She had the face of Virgin Mary herself.

“Please,” Joseph croaked. “The child… I can’t–”

His legs gave way, and as he stumbled forward, the woman caught the child in her arms. Joseph slid off the doorframe in a futile attempt to stay upright.

“It is a gift…” he said. “A gift… a gift…”

He rolled on his back. Above him, the Virgin Mary pulled the messiah close to her. He was in good hands.

The world spun out of sight, and all there was was laughter.

Dec 15, 2006

Come fight terrifying creatures in the THUNDERDOME!

curlingiron fucked around with this message at 07:13 on Dec 29, 2015

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo
287 words

They were eating each other now, or trying to. They couldn’t tear so they gnawed. Their teeth, the doctor had said, were not strong. They had been weakened by Wen because Wen took everything for itself and left them nothing.

This was simply the natural order. They belonged, he had said, to the maw, like all refuse. It would swallow them eagerly because it was nourished by the impure. They would all go, like some unholy pilgrimage. To rip out the cancer at its root, that was the way.

He was weeping, to watch it, for he remembered when he thought Wen had loved him. Hadn’t he seen its promise writ in the aurora and the beautiful tendrils? As the ignorant looked on in confusion he had felt the growth in him and was glad. When they noticed his faith they had begun to point at him, murmuring, and he could not understand why his old love was repulsed, had left him, because had not she given her vow?

Was this all there was, he wondered, empty promises and loneliness?

The pod was shaking now. Before his eyes he could see it splinter. The maw was taking them. His brothers spat each other out, looked up in fear.

“Let us join together!” he shouted suddenly. He did not know why. “Let the maw choke on us! Clutching each other we will catch in its throat!”

It was already surging out of them. He could feel it himself. The growths were twisting outwards frantically, eager to commune. Wen was singing as they met. The pod fell apart completely as light suffused through him.

There was the low noise of hunger and the darkness began to lap at him.

A Classy Ghost
Jul 21, 2003

this wine has a fantastic booquet
Cat poo poo Island
Word count: 913 – Target: 931
Painting: Dawn/Water Poem by Ralph Hotere
Muffin Flash rule: On a tropical island, wealthy men hunt the most dangerous game: housecats


After years of French nuclear testing, the irradiated atoll was now abandoned and forgotten by all. Two ships bordered its shores; gunshots and screams echoed from their decks. One of the ships caught fire and a cheer rang out. It drifted towards the shore as the other ship pulled out and left; the only survivors to crawl out of the wreckage were several cats.


Years later.

“Are you guys ready to hunt some cats?” Leo asked, looking around the chopper.

Four men looked back at him and grinned. One joker showed up in a safari outfit, but the others were wearing various shades of camouflage.

“We’ll be landing soon, so I want to remind you guys that this is the real deal. People die out here, so I want you all to be careful; don’t take any stupid risks.”

The safari clown asked, “How many cats can we expect to bring home?”

“What’s your name?”


“Well Harry, how about we focus on surviving first?”

Harry sneered. These rich folks always worried about getting their money’s worth rather than just getting out alive. Leo hadn’t lost anyone in a while, but you had to always be on your toes.

The chopper approached the atoll; life thrived unexpectedly on this island. Plants were massive, every tree baobab-sized. They found a clear spot to land on the beach; once the rotors slowed to a stop, the only sound was the rhythmic surf.

“Alright guys, just follow my lead and keep quiet.”

They fell in line and moved between the trees, leaving the pilot behind. He would be ready to lift off at a moment’s notice.

It was dark, almost no sunlight made it to the ground. Leo heard the flick of a lighter behind him and turned around. Harry was lighting a cigarette.

“You idiot, put that out! They can smell-“

A high-pitched shriek tore through the jungle. Not ten feet away, a calico cat the size of a house seemed to materialize out of thin air. Its twelve eyes focused on the group and a long purple tongue flicked from side to side, sending droplets of acid flying and burning holes through the vegetation. It lifted its tail and the bulb at its end opened up; a beam too bright to look at directly shot out and vaporized the three camouflaged men.

“Holy poo poo!” Harry yelled. The cat lifted its tail for another shot; Leo pulled Harry out of the way at the last second. They ran, using the cat’s size to their advantage and ducking between two trunks that would not let it through. Harry pointed at a fallen trunk and Leo nodded. They ducked inside a gap beneath it, crawling as far as possible.

They could hear the cat padding around the trunk and the sizzle its saliva made when it hit the ground.

Harry grabbed Leo by the collar and yelled, “This isn’t what I loving paid for!”

“Will you shut up? It’ll hear us.”

“It already knows we’re here! How the gently caress are you going to get us out of this?”

Leo furrowed his brow. How was he going to get them out of this? Things hadn’t gone this bad this quickly in a long time. He opened his pack and looked around.

“I got one catnap grenade. That might distract it long enough for us to get back to the chopper.”

“You mean catnip?”

“Sorta. Catnap is genetically modified catnip. Fucks ‘em up, but not very long.”

“What’re you waiting for then?”

Leo gave Harry a dirty look and crawled towards the edge of the trunk, grenade in hand. His heart first sank when he saw than a Turkish Angora had joined the calico, but Leo perked up when the Angora hissed at the calico using its three mouths. The calico arched its back and hissed back. Leo thought he could use this to their advantage.

Harry joined his side and they watched the two cats circling each other. Leo had his hand on the grenade’s pin, ready to release it at any moment.

The Angora reared up on its back paws and opened its belly flaps to release its tear gas; Leo chose this moment to pull the pin and throw the grenade behind the cats, as far as he could. It blew with a puff, releasing a cloud of catnap around them. The effect was immediate: the cats’ fur disintegrated and their eyes went cloudy. They wobbled on their feet before falling over into a catatonic state.

Leo ran, not even checking to see if Harry followed. They dodged and ducked between the trunks and foliage, reaching the edge of the jungle in a matter of seconds. They did not proceed further, because a third cat was hovering over the water neat the chopper, looking at it curiously.

The pilot had not noticed it, engrossed in the magazine he was reading. Leo waved his arms, catching his attention. Seeing them standing there, the pilot knew something was wrong right away and he started up the chopper. The cat darted forward at the same time the blades picked up speed, slicing half of its nose off. It fell in the water, screaming.

Leo and Harry hopped aboard the chopper, ignoring the cat thrashing in the water. It lifted off just as the calico and Angora came padding out of the jungle.

“I’m going to write your business a terrible review on Yelp,” Harry said.

“gently caress you.”

Jul 21, 2014

You shouldn't be doing anything with fluorine.

Mar 21, 2010
This is an unofficial caveat that hasn't been run through leper, but just so you know how I'm reading these:

Your story had better well be able to stand without the painting propping it up. If it's just a bizarre mess without the picture then I will have some deeply impolite words for you when this is all done. There have already been several stories like this. Do not be one of those people.

May 23, 2008

Jitterbugs by William Johnson - 1045 words

story by madpanda 1036 words

My car protests mechanically as I tear down the rural highway. Only its incomprehensible metal language, and the wind, provide a interruption to the sounds of country summer. Large creatures of the exoskeletal clad variety creating noise with their appendages. Train horns in the distance, an amateur fireworks display, livestock chatter.

Tonights weather is just chilly enough to ward off any thoughts of outside enjoyment. A final “gently caress you” before summer is gone for good. Winters early scouting party for its planned 6 month

My destination tonight is a way-station from reality. Somewhere to pass the hours in slightly less of a depressed state. I know this respite is false; that I am only engaging in escapism. For now though I don’t see a better move.

This bar didn't have a name , it didn't need one. Not quite fitting of the “watering hole” description, that implies too much of a welcoming atmosphere. Pub conjures visions of an establishment with a decorating budget. Degenerates and high seekers of all types could suss its purpose by visual investigation alone. Its exterior adorned by neon signs mostly in a state of disrepair.

Tonight’s specials are half-off drinks and live jazz. One out of two isn't bad.The entryway is a re-purposed closet door. It appears to have been cut to size with a sturdy bread knife. Off to one side is a parking area, its borders marked by rusted garbage cans. A few ancient compact cars, pickup trucks, and 1 tractor are present.

Upon entering, the smell hits me like a tire iron. Old cigarettes, spilled drinks, and regret. All deeply ingrained into the ancient green and orange carpet. Every surface is covered in a layer of dust that never seems to clean up right. Rumor is the owner won this place in a game of Russian roulette with his uncle. I think the uncle got a better deal.

I sat at the bar, why anyone would choose to delay delivery of intoxicants to their system is beyond me. The bartender is a weary old man, whose uniform is a pair of ripped jeans and a dilapidated white t-shirt. His face a leathery topographical map with many craters.

Topics of conversation tonight include a golf game playing on the geriatric tube tv and the economy. Periods of time would pass when the only sounds I hear are drink glasses hitting the counter only to rise up again, and cheap wheel cigarette lighters flicking on. Delivering a poisonous but comforting rush of chemical heaven.

Around half past too drunk to care and too sober to leave, the sound of brass instruments punctuate the relative calm. A few gin embalmed cadavers are revived, never to reach Valhalla.
Brass instruments fill the room with a melody that has no definitive rendition. One of those songs older than written history. The tune of two sad people in a grey world finding a moment of connection.

A group of blue collar workers from the local auto factory enter. They all have the same company working overalls and were all sold the same story. That their dedication to working an assembly line would lead to good things for their family. The factory is moving operations to the next state over, for a small bottom line bump. They don’t know yet that the factory is closing.

My eyes searched for the antique cigarette machine. The kind which delivers an emergency supply of stale smokes with the pull of a nob. Instead I found on an oasis of color in the gloom. This is not generally a place happy people linger, but someone didn't tell these two. Dancing and holding each other in a way that causes a bit of hope to coalesce in my mind. To them the concerns and troubles of the world were forgotten for a time.

I would need more booze for that temporary bout of amnesia. My attempts at hailing the bar tender fall on deaf ears.He stands transfixed on a distant object. Following his gaze leads to the dancing couple. Other patrons are noticing them as well.

A roomful of eyes is on the couple dancing now. Their limbs bending and moving at non euclidean angles. In my drunken haze they almost appear to be one entity. The instruments now seem to be taking tempo direction from the couple. A wild cacophony of sound that makes you want to move. Move no matter what troubles you in life.

Others were spurred to action by the music. Swaying back and forth, while holding a table or bar for support. Some even found the motivation to entice a partner. More lonely vagabonds finding comfort.

The scene quickly overwhelmed me. This much happiness was sure to be a harbinger of bad times to come. I got out into the cool early morning light and caught my breath. The decision was made to sleep myself sober, in the back seat of my car. Around these parts this was a common practice.

Commuting to work the next day, I notice details that hadn't been apparent before. My apartments lawn was a vivid shade of green. A classic muscle car painted blue like a Caribbean ocean. The industrial area I travel through to reach work doesn't smell quite as putrid today.

I pull into the gravel parking corral next to my employers rented business trailer. Turns out when you run a company which specializes in workforce reconstruction consulting, it is imperative to have a quick exit strategy. The trailer is a shade of brown similar to cheap coffee with powdered creamer.

The thought of cheap gas station coffee, aged multiple days, infused with flavored chalk hits my brain. Looking at my half full half wet pack of cigarettes; I feel ill. This hellish combination has been my breakfast for the past 5 years.

The only time I have felt something was last night. Watching that couple dance their cares away. I wasn't quite sure what it meant yet, just that the time for change had come. After a quick existential crisis and survey of funds I head west to the coast. Where I came from and never really left.

Oct 30, 2003

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

unofficial caveat

I fail to see how common sense needs to be qualified as an "unofficial caveat."

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:

This is an unofficial caveat that hasn't been run through leper, but just so you know how I'm reading these:

Your story had better well be able to stand without the painting propping it up. If it's just a bizarre mess without the picture then I will have some deeply impolite words for you when this is all done. There have already been several stories like this. Do not be one of those people.

tbh I mostly don't even read the prompt when I judge, it's a good story or its not u feel me

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's DIE!"

sebmojo posted:

tbh I mostly don't even read the prompt when I judge, it's a good story or its not u feel me


Week 135 (They Might Be Giants) Crits - Part 1

Maybe I failed to mention that these stories had to be good, comprehensible stories without the reader knowing the song.

Screaming Idiot - Machine March

Prompt: "Robot Parade" by They Might Be Giants
I do not like onomatopoeia, especially for the first words of a story. Does it add anything here? No. This story is just the description of a scene -- where are the characters? There are robots and children in the scene. A nameless voice yells at them, but I guess this little robot Rex is a character, kind of? The conflict is flat for me, an abstract David and Goliath. The prospect of all the children being callously murdered does not stir a tender feeling in my heart. The BOLD ALL CAPS YELLING seems like an attempt to use formatting over substance to make something dramatic and scary. I am not interested in anyone or anything. But I did keep reading until the end without wanting to die, so okay

Ancient Blades
Canada Haunts Me (couldnt think of a better title)

Prompt: "Canada Haunts Me" by They Might Be Giants

I know what is going on here, but at the same time, what the gently caress? I guess this is supposed to be funny. But it’s not, because what is funny about it? He has a big moustache and they do drugs in some sort of weird rear end possible parody of the Mystic Savage sterotype that may not even be an intentional parody? The conflict is that his men are dying so he begs an Indian to help him and the Indian agrees and they do drugs together and he makes some kind of devilish bargain that doesn’t matter right then? Then he calls the Indian a drugged out freak, which is maybe a joke? Assuming this was supposed to poke fun and the stupid attitudes of white people towards not-white people, then you didn’t hit the right notes. If not, this is even worse garbage than I’m giving it credit for. Garbage story.

SittingHere: Burst
So, I loved the first part of this story. Crabrock said it was probably because I have horrible itchy rashes all the time, WHICH IS TRUE. But it’s also because of the pathos of even the person closest to you not understanding your pain, and trying to hide it in front of a stranger, and being overwhelmed by something so utterly minor to everyone else. Also the grueling misery of finding housing, but again, that might just be me. The problem for me was the ending. Not quite the dissolving into ribbons of skin part -- although that awkwardly reminded me of a story that I wrote ( which then made me feel awkward about judging. But also because the very last bit about her floating on the winds was just really... out of touch with the rest? I don’t know, the last bit just didn’t work for me. Seriously though, I have not found a cream that works and more tests are being run.

Bait - SadisTech
This story was kind of the opposite of Ancient Blades’s story for me. At first I was like “what the gently caress is this trying to do--be stylistically edgy and then have gay people die as a joke?” Also it reminded me of ye olde Aboned Bunker. BUT. Turns out the voice really works. And the story comes together so neatly in the end. So inevitably without being obvious. I started to suspect when the car stank -- the best moment to start suspecting, in my opinion. Also, it wasn’t relevant to judging criteria, but I am really impressed that this came out of Boat of Car. If you want to do anything further with this story, and manage to find me in the right frame of mind on IRC someday, I will give you a line crit.

Underneath - Jagermonster
Oh man, my first and last thoughts on this one were basically “why the gently caress did this have an upskirt anecdote??” Pushing through racks of clothing -- that is a good analogy. But then out of nowhere: POKEMON. But then on second thought, the Pokemon thing actually makes some sense. I couldn’t quite buy into the kid’s thoughts of “maybe better to stay in this place where I have no parents and can fly” thing. But I kind of blame that on you, because put like that, it does sound like something a kid would think. Ditto the whole “my tumor is a Pokemon” thing. But at the end, I was just like “ehhhhhh, not enough characterization, and weird that he would decide to be dead, and also why the upskirt thing?” endnote: I can’t help thinking that the upskirt is based on some sort of personal experience that could be like...the perfect awkward anecdote in a different story. NOT THIS ONE, WHY???

The Crackhouse at the Top of the Tree - CancerCakes
gently caress me, I don’t even want to give this one a crit. This is a story about gangster mice, or maybe squirrels? I guess probably squirrels. Anyway, they are having Ye Olde Gangster Fight Of Succession, and there is Ye Olde Woman Who Is About To Get Raped. Yet Is Saved. By Better Gangster. gently caress you, that is my entire crit.

Kings - Bompacho
This is so boring I want to die. Like… ugh. It’s just so boring. The best thing I got out of it was that maybe the dude actually killed everyone and now someone else is killing him. I hope so. He deserves to die. This was just so boring. Everyone dies someday and I hope that I die soon. That’s how I felt about this story. And I don’t think you were even assigned the song “I Hope that I Get Old Before I Die” -- which I don’t think is the name of the song anyway. But on the off chance that you chose that, I still hate this story. (because it was boring. sorry you didn’t get a better crit, but gently caress it’s so boring.) Edit: slightly better crit: this story is boring because there are too many words about a character who I don’t give a poo poo about and nothing happens.

Dig Two Graves - Megazver
Plot of this could have worked. LIke the deep-seated irony of trying to avoid your fate and failing miserably no matter what. Honestly, that could probably work well in the setting of a hitman burying bodies in the desert. But it didn’t work. So why? As so often is the case, the answer is: the middle. There’s something noble about an ignoble character running head-on to confront his fate, instead of trying to run away from it. A nobility which you fail to convey because 1) your main character is unolvable in the most bland and cliche way. His rage against the fate machine is dull because that’s all there is. I feel like you tried to substitute any character development with an ill-conceived joke of an ending.

The Curious Undeath of Grumpy Old Mr. Sanders -- Entenzahn
You may have guessed that I am bored. If I had never read a story about deterring death by being a stubborn rear end in a top hat, or maybe if had never read Bartlby the Scrivener (did you know that was written by the same dude who wrote Moby Dick? I think you may have been the one to tell me that, actually. But it does you no good! Also, apologies to the other person who told me that who is now not receiving credit, whatever). Anyway, if the whole grumpily refusing death thing was new, I might not be so incredibly bored. But yes, though my head is nodding yes, I am bored. I feel like the entire thrust of your story relies on the concept of being able to resist death through mere pig-headedness, and it feels neither original or interesting-despite to me. The bit about his dead wife wanting to see the Grand Canyon was kind of touching. I SAY GRUDGINGLY.

Trash and Treasure -- LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE
As far as Frankenstein retellings go, when it comes to Frankenstein retellings I have read within one week of reading the original Frankenstein, which would be this story only, this story isn’t so bad actually. The foreshadowing is there, and hits payoff at more or less the right moment, IMO. On the other hand, I hated Dr. Frankenstien, and while your Henry isn’t deserving of the same hatred, he is deserving of an equal amount of apathy. Do not care. ALSO IT WAS THE DICK THAT WAS MISSING RIGHT? UGH.

Chess Piece Face -- Maugrim
This one reminded me of some artsy movie I saw in college when I was about to go to law school but wished I had gone to art school, I think literally called “Art School” about a guy who killed people and made paintings, and then some wannabe art student stole them to pass them off as his own (in art school!) and then got accused of the murders and got famous. Except I think I liked your story better, so yay.

On the other hand, this story didn’t move me. It reads more like a dry, intellectual experiment. And repetitive: the old man saying they are real people, real souls, slavery, real people. The protag repeating how he didn’t know the old man was so crazy. The only tension is the protagonists growing uneasiness. I guess something horrible might happen after he removes the face? I’d rather read about that, I think. This same problem occurs in Thunderdome stories all the time and it drives me up the wall. I guess the idea is to leave things implied, that the implication can remain more mysterious and terrible than actually writing it? I don’t know. Why leave out the most exciting part of the story?!

[/b]A Planet for Ana - A Picture Book -- newtestleper[/b]
Story delivers on its promise of being the text for a childrens’ picture book. Cute and with the expected “moral“ at the ending. The story feels so satisfyingly expected that I think it must have already been done -- and I mean that as a compliment, hope it makes sense. It just makes perfect sense. Le Petit Prince has some similarities, I suppose, but not the same. It’s hard to say much else about this honestly. I thought it worked as a kids story, but I’m not a kid.

The trip to Vietnam was a bit strained -- I think the part about their visit to Vietnam was awkward and strained. It was strangely impersonal and almost read like a caricature of Vietnam -- necessary in some sense because you only have a few lines, but…. I think this would have worked a lot better if you had just said she was Vietnamese when she looked at the picture of her mom, instead of just describing the skin and hair vaguely. She was able to point out Hanoi on the globe, so she clearly knew where her mom was from. A few more sentences about how she felt like she didn’t belong because of her physical differences, and making it a little more obvious about how going to Vietnam tied into that, but didn’t work. I know you didn’t have a lot of words to work with, but I would have sacrificed the fart joke and the conical-hat-doll for a few.

Anyway, now that you don’t have a word limit, polish it up and find an illustrator????

The War Is Over -- docbeard
Good. Except: I have no clue what happens at the end! Did she kill herself? And if so why? Why did she just struggle to plug the oxygen back in if she was just going to take the helmet off anyway? It basically ruins the story for me. And I liked the rest of it. It made sense and came together well. I think this suffers from the same problem I talked about in Maugrim’s, but in a slightly different variation: I don’t think we need to know whether she is rescued or not. The interesting thing is what she decides to do and why. So, deciding to leave Solmen behind, good, clear. The end, bad because I can’t tell what she decided or why. No reason for it to be so vague -- maybe you didn’t mean for it to be so vague.

Suicide seems like the best guess because she took her helmet off and there was freezing mist and her hip didn’t hurt, but if that, then why all the rest of what she did in the ship? And what was the switch she flipped before? The distress beacon? Why didn’t she flip that before she launched then? Just say she flipped on the distress beacon and took her helmet off and it all makes sense? Kind of. I still don’t get why she would kill herself.

Remorseful Loves -- Schneider Heim
REVENGE. Also law school suicide. Also not really revenge. Why on earth DID she call him back if it was just to apologize and then tell him he was a jerk? I guess sometimes you REALLY want to tell someone they are a jerk. But then why the macaroni and cheese? I can appreciate the conflicting feelings when someone you love is also a jerk and then they die, but the rest of the story seems too simple. Another cute boy comes along and now she will bring him back to be a new boyfriend. But it will be better because he is nice. Maybe it’s a sweet story, but I think she is just really stupid. If this story is really about complicated feelings and not simple feelings, there is too much plot and not enough about the emotions to carry it. If it’s about the plot, which is what I suspect, then it lacks the internal logic to hold it together. All the actions feel designed to get to the end, instead of unfolding naturally.

Access. - J.A.B.C.
Reading this, I felt like the story was always on the cusp of making sense, but then it never did. I keep trying to reread it to find something coherent to criticize, but I can’t. Every other paragraph seems to make sense, in terms of the words coming together to make a thing comprehensible to my brain, but then they don’t relate to each other. UGH. He killed someone after they got a promotion when he had complained about him? Then he was put in some sort of scrap yard? Then something burst through the ceiling and enabled him to….escape? But there was a factory accident and he did something related to that? NO CLUE.

The Truth - Kaishai
I don’t have much to say about the beginning of this because I really liked it. The boy sold instantly invokes injustice, one of the best ways to create sympathy and interest. Everyone hates injustice. Then, the ignorance of the emperor, no wonder Sochan despises him: bitterness, helplessness, and lack of respect are a potent combination. Fighting for his friends, his change of heart when the Emperor stands up for his family despite his fear and obvious disability: good. And the writing painted a solid picture, without standing out as WORDS -- which is how it should be in a story like this, IMO. It’s the picture, the moments of created time, that I want, not a turn-of-phrase.

I really liked everything about this except the fact that the sculptor made him into a penguin! I just can’t get over how strongly I dislike that. It just -- really! This one was still in my list of favorites, but a penguin just didn’t fit. The rest of the story conjured up a specific kind of world to me, and it was NOT a world with penguins. It felt too goofy and unexpected. Surely there is another not-usually-considered noble animal that would fit better in with an Emperor, portcullises, eagles, greyhounds, bears, and stags.

Hot Cha - PootieTang
I’m really glad someone took advantage of the open format to write a poem. It’s not a good poem, but that’s okay. Decent plot to it, as well, chronicling the descent into addiction and desperation. Also includes the name of the band in one line, which is….good? I don’t know.

Poem relies far too much on rhyme and has poo poo scansion. You should be able to read a poem out loud without stumbling over extra, missing, or under/over emphasized sylablles. Yours has a TON. Also severely lacking in metaphor. or subtlety.

How to Begin Again -- hotsoupdinner
I guess this guy broke up with her and then she tried to kill herself and then she’s still like “I love you” and he’s like “I don’t love you, but don’t hurt yourself again, okay?” and she’s like “Okay. That hurt, but okay.” Is that the plot here? For all that drama there sure is a lot of “I don’t give a poo poo” in my response. A lot of the smaller details in this feel right to me: friends as “appointed guardians” probably by themselves, the pretending not to see, pretending not to look, asking for drugs, the her sudden wish that she had gone home and taken a shower. Those things feel real enough. It’s the main point conversation that bugs me. It’s sparse, which could be okay if there was anything that came before it to give its sparseness weight, but their isn’t. Really all we know is that she tried to kill herself after some “phone call” nothing else about what was between them. It could just be some dumb high-school crush. It SOUNDS like a dumb high school crush. Nothing to really carry the decision to get over it into an interesting or impactful decision.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.

newtestleper posted:

I fail to see how common sense needs to be qualified as an "unofficial caveat."
Says man posting in Thunderdome.

May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch
Profane Love
Words: 1375
Opening of the 5th Seal

The Doctor had asked permission to murder my brother, and I said yes. He had breathed a sigh of relief when I finally agreed.

“You’ve made the right decision,” he had said. “This will be for the best of your brother.” James was in another room at the time. Our mother was watching him, she couldn’t bear to be part of the discussion, and I hoped he wasn’t giving her a hard time. He used to be such a good kid.

“So what is it that you are going to do to him, exactly?”

The Doctor perked up, and opened his mouth but closed it and held up a finger. He stood from his brown leather chair that glinted red in the sun and went to a shelf. When he returned he was holding a plastic replica of a skull, segmented in puzzle pieces and leering at me with vacant eyes.

“We are going to go in through here, on the side of the skull,” the Doctor had explained.

The first time I went to visit my brother, they sat me next to a stranger. I had brought from home my brother’s favorite keepsake.

“He can’t have that in here,” an orderly said. In James’ lap was a glass terrarium with a single twig, attached to the stick was a cocoon.

“James loves to grow butterflies,” I said. “Why can’t he have this?”

“It’s not on the approved safety list, he can’t have it.” The orderly pulled the terrarium from James. “You can check it out from the warrant clerk on your way out.”

“It’s okay, buddy. I’ll take good care of it, and when it hatches I’ll bring it for you. I promise. How’s that sound?”

My brother stared straight ahead, his arms slowly pulling back from the direction the orderly took his butterfly. I wrapped my arms around him, tears in my eyes. “You’ll be better soon, they promised.”

The second time I visited my brother, he sat catatonic as always in his thin sheet of a robe.

“Your butterfly is doing really good, getting bigger all the time. It has these horns, and it spirals like this, like a shell at the beach. Do you remember that time we found the conch at White Horse? And then you tried to climb that rock full of barnacles,” I said.

James said nothing.

“And you cut your knees up real bad? You remember now, right? And then you got to have popsicles for the entire vacation. Man, you had the right idea, a little scrapped knee and all the creamsicles and fudgesicles you could ask for. You remember that right?”

I put my hand on James’ shoulder, and he winced, and drew back from me. I rolled up the sleeve of his gown, and large purple bruises run down his upper arms and shoulders.

“Where did my brother get these bruises?” I shouted at the first nurse I found. When she stammered in my face I saw red.

“I said where the gently caress did my brother get these loving bruises!”

I slapped the clipboard out of her hand, and had my finger in her face, accusing her, ready for her to tell me that she did it, and I would strangle her with one hand. She instead said nothing, her face gaped in horror, and she stepped away from me, calling for help.

The third time I went to the asylum they turned me away at the door. I barked at the Doctor as he stood behind a wall of muscle in scrubs. They would barely acknowledge me, never looking me in the eye as they looked at their clipboards.

I couldn’t sleep, I could only think of my brother in the manor on the hill. Storm agitates them, they said, and they wouldn’t let us in. I looked out the window as the lightning rolled along the sky, and I shuddered. They hadn’t let us in because they couldn’t hide what they had done to my brother. They couldn’t hide the bruises and the cuts and the breaking of the last shell of my brother. They wouldn’t let me see him. The thunder cracked, and I heard the sound of papers shuffling.

The horned cocoon twitched. It shook, pulsated, and shuddered every time the thunder clapped. When the lightning came through the rain-streaked windows I saw the skeleton of the creature inside, its black outline painted on the membranous crust. I fought every instinct to tear the mesh top from the glass, and to pick the folds away by hand, my thumbs pierced by the horns, my blood nourishing the babe. A shock of lighting cracked the sky, and I saw the creature writhe, and the cocoon split on the thunder.

First came the wings, splitting the mausoleum, unfurling with quietude and grace. Unspeakable curvature outlined the appendages, with eyes dotting the chitin. Seven, seven eyes peering at me, to frighten me, to scare me away, but I could only stare back at them. Only when its bulbous body pulled itself from the cocoon did I see the hair and fur and embryonic ooze that it was truly made of. And its head emerged, slick from birth, and I truly understood where my brother had gone. James’ face stared at me, fresh as a re-Christening, unblemished and furrowed. His maw opened wide and produced a deafening cry. No matter how hard I pressed my hands to my ears, the sound pierced my skull, reverberating with immenseness and malice. When I thought I could take no more, I looked at him to plead silently for mercy.

And I awoke. Thunder rolling quietly across the sky, the rain had only began to fall. My bed was soaked in sweat and my sheets a-tangle. I looked at the terrarium, and the cocoon had indeed split, but without affair or disturbance. On the ground, under the branch, was a tiny moth, still wrapped in itself, looking as still-born an insect of this kind could. And I knew there was only one thing left to do.

By the time I rammed my Buick through the gates of the asylum the rain had turned torrential. I had kicked the windscreen free an hour ago, and I had not considered what would happen when I destroyed the gates, and only fate kept me from being skewered by wrought iron. I weaved through mud, the tail of my Special sliding dangerously on every turn. Only the steps of the sanitarium stopped my ascent, when the axles finally gave out.

Spilling into the mud, I clambered up the steps, not expecting the doors to be opening. An orderly I recognized, he must have seen the headlamps coming, came to meet me with a club. I shot him dead without hesitation.

When the second staffer fell before me I heard the chorus of wails and torment. When cacophony reached my ears I knew in my heart of hearts that I was vindicated and righteous. I found a set of keys on the corpse of the fourth nurse, or orderly, or was it a doctor? They were all wearing masks of skin, their eyes and mouths covered in pink flat flesh.

“James! James!” I shouted. The only response was howls and thrashing of metal bars against locks. No one stood in my way now, it was only a matter of finding the right gate to unlock. I finally found them all. Every single resident, nay inmate, had been packed into the maximum ‘disturbed’ quadrant, behind the security gates. They were gathered there, shaking the foundations as the thunder shook the firmament. They screamed at me, their spit flicking and spraying, their white gowns covered in urine and feces and blood. I unlocked gate, after gate, after gate, after gate, and finally I was face to face with them and they were silent.

I unlocked the gate. The howling struck up again as they flooded past me, my eyes searching the mass. I saw my brother stumbling, agitated, and wary. I embraced my brother as he came to me, and I fell to my knees sobbing, clutching his white gown by his thighs. He shook free, and left me there on the asylum floor, alone.

Wangless Wonder
May 27, 2009
Split Second - 1,160 words

Abstract Speed + Sound by Giacomo Balla - 1138 words

“Pack it up, boys.” said the first fisherman to see Jake make his way down the pier in his faded spandex. The material bulged across Jake's midsection and was a motley array of crossed-out corporate logos with only the blue and green of the International Shipping Company left unmarred. Jake tightened the strap on the satchel slung across his shoulder and ignored the grumbling of the fishermen as they pulled in their lines. He stepped over the commemorative plaque bolted to the wooden planks. A couple years back some clever hooligan had chiseled it to read “Takeoff Point of Jake Ausburn, the Fattest Man in the World” along with what looked to be one-half of an erect penis, which Jake had finished etching himself after it seemed like the original artist would not return to finish the job.

Jake looked over his shoulder at the fishermen, who had either hastily gathered their belongings and made a dash for beachfront or sat down on their tackle boxes with their hands over their ears. The next stretch of pier turned into a thing of burnished steel extending out into the horizon. The sun was rising over the ocean and the beauty of it was not lost through the blue tint of Jake's goggles. He would have made a big show of this before, back when people would mob the shoreline or get up early to take up privileged positions along the edge of the pier just to watch him work. He would stretch and huff and bounce from foot to foot and slap his own face like a prizefighter. No one was looking now, though. No one had really looked for a long time. Jake got into his sprinter’s stance at the starting line, a section of the steel pier that had dented and warped with frequent use. He exploded forward and began his run across the ocean.

Jake knew he would never be completely used to this. His ears still popped and every time he felt the cool rush of water under his bare feet he was afraid that someone on the pier would drown in the waves he kicked up. It was a dumb concern now, since it had been years since people had crowded close enough for it to matter and the few old salts left on the pier could probably do with a good drowning. Still, he had made marked improvements. The first time he had heard the air behind him explode he tumbled into the ocean, shat himself and nearly drowned. He barely did any of that now.

He checked the compass on his wrist and orientated himself north-east to London. He’d brought a map on the first trip. It disintegrated as soon as it left his bag and forced him to take a detour through Greenland and the small, mostly unchartered islands between it and the UK. He had arrived in Belfast five hours late and found his client dead from thirty-six stab wounds to the back, his suicide note citing ennui. The Company had not been happy, but Jake had thought himself irreplaceable then.

The stream of water speeding towards Jake was enormous and threatened to intercept him soon. Jake looked at his compass and adjusted his course and by the time he looked back up, Steve was there running backwards and smiling. He was saying something and pointing to the satchel on this back. The kid was too green to know Jake would have to sprint back a few miles to have a chance of hearing what he said. Instead, Jake pushed forward and fell back, ran in zigzags and around islands but the kid stuck to him like glue. Jake slowed down, skipping across the ocean like a pebble before coming to a clumsy stop on one of the few islands around with fairly level ground. The kid followed shortly after, skidding across the whole island like a meteor then suddenly appearing in front of Jake, not a speck of sand on him. He stood taller than Jake by a foot and wore a newer version of the same outfit with the corporate sponsors still in proud display. His goggles were red and his body was slim and muscular.

“Hey man, sorry to bother you like this.” Steve said. “I think I’ve got your bag.”

“gently caress you, Steve.” Jake said. “I’ve got the right bag”.

Steve ignored the slight and emptied out the contents of the satchel. Wedding invitations. The type of thing the obscenely rich would pay top dollar to deliver to the other obscenely rich in the quickest most extravagant method possible.

“I don’t run things like this.” Steve said, still smiling. “That’s more, well, your game.”

“I’ve got the right bag.”

“Jake, there is no time for your macho bullshit right now. You have no idea what’s in that bag. If you give it to me now I can still square everything away and no one will be the w-”

“I know exactly what’s in this bag.”

Steve paused at this, and licked his lips.

“If that’s the case, you know you’re going the wrong way with it. The dangerously wrong way.”


“Jesus, Jake. You’re defecting? Why? The Company gave us all this!” Steve gestured.

“Gave you all this. I’ve been poo poo on the bottom of your shoe since they made you. Do you know what I was before you came along? How I was treated? Now I’m the slowest fastest guy in the world!”

Steve’s veneer cracked. “Maybe all that poo poo happened because you’re a lazy fat drunk who rested on his laurels for too long.” Steve pointed at the yellow and orange TIDE logo that was emblazoned on his shoulder. “You seriously think TIDE wouldn’t sponsor the second fastest man in the world? They’re on every loving NASCAR, Jake! You’re bad business! Who’s going to stick with you after that statut-”

“ALLEGED!” Jake yelled as he punched Steve in the face and retreated into the thick foliage nearby.

Steve put his hand to his nose and it came back bloody. He paced back and forth and nodded the angry nods that come naturally to young men considering violence. “That was hosed up Jake, but I’m willing to not straight up donkey slam your bitch rear end if you give me that bag. I found you in an ocean, Jake. I can find you on an island.”

Jake climbed down the tree slowly, as a normal man might. In one hand he held up Steve’s satchel, and in the other his closed fist. He slowly, unblinkingly raised his middle finger at Steve.

Steve charged. It only took him a split second for most of him to reach Jake, momentum carrying his other half further into the island.

Jake left Steve’s satchel by his body. He ducked under the fishing line and carefully placed the invitations back in his bag.

He had a delivery to make.

Apr 12, 2006

newtestleper posted:

Traffic Cop Bay by Bill Hammond

Words: 650

Teyron Foley and the Thousand-Yard Stare
661 words


Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 03:17 on Jan 8, 2016

Mar 21, 2013
I'm out for this week. Sorry.

Mar 21, 2010

newtestleper posted:

I fail to see how common sense needs to be qualified as an "unofficial caveat."
You clearly haven't read any of the stories yet.

Jan 13, 2005

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

newtestleper posted:

Self Portrait by Gustave Courbet

Words: 661

His Mirror
(661 words)

Each frayed strand of bloody thread inside of the man's eyes pulsed as knocks ricocheted off of the door. He pressed his hands up against his mirror, ignoring the stains. He observed every pore of what he saw. The mineral sting of sweat coursed into his eyes, forcing them shut. The knocking echoed once more.

He held his breath and didn't break eye contact with his mirror.

He ran his fingers through his hair, dispersing the sweat and almost making it look presentable. He'd been awake all night. His clothes were chafing. He was damp. The nerves in his hands were searing through his skin. He placed them onto the cold surface of his mirror. He touched a lifeless hand as pale as his own. He heard voices outside, his name mentioned, and he heard more knocking. All sensations were drowned in the rush of heat from his hand being traded with the iciness of his mirror.

Outside, the three detectives smoked. One had a newspaper folded open to the want ads. It was early in the day. They knew someone was inside. They'd woken up neighbors on both sides of him to confirm that someone was there last night, and that he hadn't left. They wouldn't admit they'd heard sounds of arguing, or confirm they had come from Gus's apartment. It wasn't polite to tell the police these sorts of things. The three detectives were fine with working overtime. They took turns sitting at a set of rusty garden chairs and trying to hammer the door in. The breeze rustled the newspaper just enough to make reading an entire ad in one go challenging.

The man inside had run tap water on his hands and rubbed some into his face. He'd listened at the door and heard nothing. He'd had an entire minute of silence to himself and his mirror. Had they left him alone? He stared into his reflection's eyes, despairing that he could never see them blink. A burbling noise sent his spine whipping at his skull. Standing an inch taller than he would have been without the adrenalin in his blood, he turned the tap off. How long had it been running? Could they hear it outside? Were they still there? He crept slowly towards the door, his head lowering along with the rest of his posture. He put his ear to the door, his eye seeing a blood covered arm in his mirror, just poking around the corner. The sound of gavels and a firing squad leapt directly into his skull. He pulled the door open, fearing that one more blow would shatter his spine, or even the door itself.

A quiet wind jostled the paper curled around the detective's arm. The others stood up. There were empty styrofoam cups on the table. The door wavered as he supported himself on it. He was wet with perspiration and blood. His hands were layered with streaks of coagulated mineral grime. His shirt was etched with pink splotches. His eyes were clean, though shot through with blood all the same.

The three detectives put their hands to their holsters.

"This is your apartment, correct? You are Gus?" the detective with the paper asked.

His tongue was dry. He fought to keep his head from turning back to his mirror, and the story it told of the previous night.

"Alright then, well, we'd heard from your brother's wife that he did not return home last night. Not unusual in its own way, but she says that he was headed here. Your neighbors all say there was something going on here. Does that sound familiar?"

A long pause was all it usually took to draw guilty truths out.

"Do you mind if we come in? We'd like your assistance in trying to track your brother down. After all, you are twins, correct?"

The man clinging to the door looked back into the apartment, to his mirror, and fell down sobbing.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




newtestleper posted:

The Scarred Couch, the Auckland Experience by Philip Clairmont

Wordcount: 1430 (1380-1480)

You Don't Think About What's in Your Couch Until You're Desperate
1476 words

“It can’t just be this forever. It can’t be only this.” Hillary whirlwinded around her apartment, looking for something she wasn’t too chicken to break. She let her hip bump against the table in the dining nook. Candles toppled over. One of them broke in two, and the shattered segments rolled off the table and onto the floor like fallen Roman columns.

“Yeah, gently caress you buddy. You’re just a candle. You’re nothing.”

Hillary’s careless glee was short lived. The walls were covered in exhausting Ansel Adams prints hung with tacs. All the tacs were Monday-through-Friday-office primary colors, with the occasional green and orange thrown in for variety. The loveseat, from Ikea, was this insincere wannabe-mod red, the sort of red Hillary used to think she wanted in her furniture, but now it rattled her eyes and smothered her feng shui.

Hillary had this serious thought, like, how rockstar and give-no-fucks would it be if she just ripped all the art off her walls and burnt holes in the red loveseat. She stood in the middle of her furniture and fake art and dirty coffee mugs made to look like owls, ran an advanced simulation of what it would be like to totally lose control.

“Mrowr?” said Tilly. The cat was way up on top of the book shelf, beside the withering yellow pothos plant.

The whirlwind guttered out. Hillary found herself in the red sofa’s yielding and nonjudgmental arms.

Beside the loveseat was a coffee table with spindly aluminum legs. On the table were wine bottles, instant meal trays, a tablet computer, and a loosely folded piece of paper. Hillary rolled over, buried her face in the couch cushions. Only sick, broken humans could take something as innocuous as a piece of paper and weaponize it.

Even with her eyes closed and her face smothered, she could see the heartless bold typeface: PAY OR VACATE. She could see the scuffed-looking photocopy of her bounced check. She could imagine some garden-variety Karen or Jen tottering up the front stair in their pointless kitten heels, tucking the notice against her doorknob without knocking, and tottering full speed back to the main office. A series of tiny mundane evils that led up to Hillary’s total not-quite breakdown.

And now they wanted her to go all the way to the bank, get a cashier’s check, and hand-deliver it to the office. Hillary assumed her paycheck hadn’t cleared when she thought it would. But that wasn’t her fault, was it? Some rear end in a top hat working in payroll out in Hillsdale probably forgot to hit the Go button. There had to be something more than all this bullshit. More than the smell of rain and tires on a Wednesday afternoon, more than the air conditioned hum of the bank and the oppressively scented hairspray the apartment office ladies wore.

Tilly landed on Hillary without warning, with all the momentum of a fat animal hurling itself maliciously from a high shelf. The cat scrambled for purchase. Hillary flailed. Tilly bolted down the hall to the bedroom, ears flat, growling cat invectives in her throat.

“loving cat, you’re on it too aren’t you?” Hillary lifted up her shirt. Her right hip was a mess of bloody scratch and puncture marks. One of the scratches was so deep she could pull it apart with her fingers, like a little mouth. She stared into it for a few seconds, into the shallow crevice of her own meat. Hillary had never asked to be meat. She’d always wanted to be more than her meat, but there she was, meat, surrounded by unframed photo prints she’d only bought to appear tasteful.

Something glinted at the bottom of the cut, like a dime on the bottom of a riverbed. She pulled her skin open wider. There was definitely something down there. A sparkling sea, or a king’s ransom in gold coins. The wet mouth in her skin grew, like a slow smile. Fresh blood trickled down her side and pooled against the waistband of her jeans.

Hillary yanked her hands away and ran for the first aid kit in the bathroom. “Idiot,” she muttered. Cat scratches could get nasty if left untreated for too long. She dabbed the cuts with antibacterial ointment. Fresh pain brought on fresh rage.

“gently caress you, cat. gently caress you landlord, gently caress you bank, gently caress you payroll guy. gently caress everything about this stupid life.” She threw the last sanitizing wet wipe against the mirror. It stuck for a moment, then peeled away and fell into the sink.

Hillary went looking for Tilly. Usually a daredevil leap from the bookshelf meant the cat was in one of those insane feline fugues, and no upholstery or pile of laundry was safe. Hillary needed to distract her with the laser pointer, or she’d be febreezing cat pee smell out of the carpet for months.

There was a sharp ripping sound from the living room.

Tilly!” Hillary roared. She stomped down the hall as loudly as she could. The cat looked her straight in the eye and continued tearing at the arm of the loveseat, which was hemorrhaging red strings with every rrriiip of Tilly’s hooked claws. Hillary bellowed and charged. Tilly hissed and retreated under the coffee table.

Hillary inspected the damage done to the couch. There was a threadbare patch as big as her hand, and in one spot, the fabric had actually come completely apart. She reached down and pushed the opening wider with the tips of her fingers, exposing the cheap, lovely couch stuffing. But inside and behind the stuffing was something that shifted and sparkled like a mirage.

gently caress the couch, she hated the couch anyway. Hillary tore into the arm of the loveseat, ripping and clawing until her fingernails rasped against the wooden frame. The mirage was clearer. Sinuous shapes made of bright colors swirled together in suggestive, penetrative patterns; feverish, electric greens and blues and pinks and purples in an orgiastic mosaic. She had to make sense of their interplay. She could almost see it, the meaning behind the shades and movements. But there was too much goddamn couch in the way.

There had to be something easier to dig through. Hillary glanced down at the cut on her side. No. She wasn’t going to be one of those nutcases found horribly self-mutilated in their bathtub babbling psycho talk. Something crazy and possibly too good to be true was happening. She had to be scientific about it.

She walked in circles around the loveseat. Where could she dig the deepest? She retrieved a steak knife from the kitchen and plunged it two-handed into the center of one of the couch cushions. The white walls and Ansel Adams prints were instantly spackled with light like refractions from a disco ball. Hillary shielded her eyes from the brightness of it. Her pulse pounded in her throat. Something warm and soft and hopeful simmered behind her sternum.

Hillary tossed the knife aside and pulled the bright white gash open with both hands. She looked down into the light for a long time. Reflections of colors swam across the glassy curves of her eyes. Tilly slunk out from hiding, nuzzled Hillary’s elbow. Hillary looked down at the cat. Right in her evil, slitted little pupils. She got down on all fours, so they were nose to nose.

“I know what’s inside, now,” she whispered to Tilly. The cat’s ears pricked forward and her tail swished. “It’s more. More and more and more and more.”

She noogied Tilly between the ears and reached for the paper time bomb on her coffee table. PAY OR VACATE, the notice insisted. Hillary tore it to pieces. The ripped edges leaked light in threads; Hillary threw them into the air and laughed as they fluttered like fireflies to the ground.

The next morning, Hillary waited in line in an air-conditioned room filled with desks and bankers and hushed conversations. Her cheeks ached from the effort of keeping a big, stupid grin off her face. She absently scratched at the cut on her hip.

“I can help the next customer,” the teller called to her. Hillary bit her lip and went to the desk.

“I need to purchase a cashier’s check, please," she said, looking as far into the woman’s eyes as she could. A pupil is a hole, and a hole is a keyhole, and Hillary was a bonafide keyhole-peeper.

“Sure, I’ll just need...your…” the teller leaned back slightly. “Is something wrong?” She touched her face. Hillary squinted. She could almost--ah, there it was. That little glimmer of light, way, way in the back of the bank teller’s skull. And a whisper of color. Hypothesis confirmed.

She looked around to make sure no one was eavesdropping. “Have you ever asked yourself if there’s something more than all this?”

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

The Future as told by Larry Page

Djeser fucked around with this message at 05:30 on Jan 1, 2016

Comrade Question
Mar 30, 2011

"I'd say it's nothing personal, but corporations are people, too."
A Bigger Splash by David Hockney
636 words

His mother pleaded with him to stay, but Nilak took his kayak deep into the mists, until her voice could not reach him anymore.

None of the other hunters stood with him as he talked of justice, but this had to be done, alone or otherwise.

The last incident marked the third time the sea wolves had taken a gray whale the tribe had killed for themselves. Every time, the hunters had no choice but to cut the rope and watch the black fins dance like knives on the surface as three month‘s worth of food where ripped apart underwater. Now, at the end of summer, such opportunities would stop coming for Nilak‘s people.

Now he had already tracked the pack for two days when a noisy flock of sea gulls caught his attention. In the mouth of a great river, it swarmed the carcass of a humpback.

This was not the sea wolves‘ doing. These giants came here to feed until mid-summer, but this one had overstayed. At season‘s end, the tides were quick. It was caught off-guard, he thought.

Dead as it was, he still felt awe at the sight. It must have been here for days, as what was left of the fat and meat had turned brown and yellow. Wolves, eagles and bears, proud and mighty hunters, fed from its rotten carcass. Despite all their efforts, its bones would stay here for many seasons. A lesser creature would have passed on into another world by now, but the whale proudly remained. Nilak left it behind, but he carried the sight with him.

The following day, he crossed a young caribou, as it swam towards an island off the coast. Nilak wondered why it was alone and what it thought the island could provide that the mainland couldn‘t.

He quickly raised his paddle when a dark shape emerged from the chilling depths. A shark, not streamlined and sharp like his cousins, but fat and dull like a stone from the riverbed, approached the caribou. The motion as it gripped one of the buck‘s legs had no urgency to it.

Both the hunter and the caribou were caught off-guard, but only one of them was dragged into the darkness. A stream of bubbles erupted from its lungs, then it was gone. There wasn‘t even any blood. Small, erratic waves lapped against the side of Nilak‘s kayak and he resumed his course, though his hands grasped the paddle a bit closer to its tip now.

Later that day, Nilak could hear the voices of the sea wolves again. It seemed like they had entered a small cove, lined by strips of forest. He could still turn away. The dried meat he packed would be enough for the journey home. Nilak wondered why he packed so much and pressed on with a heavy heart.

At first, he thought he had chased a ghost, a trapped echo. To his frustration, he felt relief.

Then, the first black fin cut through the water near him and salty mist shot out of a blowhole. Nilak grasped his spear as the rest of the pack followed suit. The air around him grew foggy.

An enormous black head bopped straight up at the side of his boat. They never seemed so large from a distance, he thought. Nilak and the orca saw eye-to-eye. As they studied each other briefly, he assumed her to be their leader.

He could not feel any ill intent from the pack. They would not harm him. He was free to leave at any time. Nilak was absolutely certain of these things, as he raised his spear against the leader‘s eye.

The pack left his crushed body in the bay, but for as long as the scarred matriarch lived, her pack did not approach Nilak‘s tribe again.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's DIE!"
They Might Be Giants (Week 135) Crits -- Part 2

Lighthouse -- Captntastic
Words, sentences, paragraphs, all fine of their own right, but the story leaves me flat. I remember it being okay while I was judging, but I don’t want to read it again to write a crit. The whole struggle seems pointless--which, I think may have been the point, but then that made READING it also feel pointless. And the whole time I was thinking “if they had already invented the cinderblocks to build this place, wouldn’t they also have electric lighting.” I felt too much of this story was clearly about [i[the author’s intent[/i] and obvious symbolism. Maybe not a pointless struggle, but a struggle with a point unknowable, of uncertain utility. There aren’t really any questions demanding answers in this story. I’m not sure if there is really a significant change in the character, either. For all the struggling through a storm and then upstairs with a heavy burden, for all the relation of the duty to his parents duty that led to their death, for all he sees his own tiny nightlight in his own home across the gale, from within the lighthouse, I don’t see the significance of him deciding to repaint it.

Also I looked up the cinderblock/electricity thing, learned that by the time cinderblocks were common building materials, electric lighthouses had already been around for a while.; I didn’t find a good timeline about when either one became common though. So maybe there could be a cinderblock lighthouse that used kerosene lamps -- but even after nuclear power plants? I dunno about that. There are apparently a handful of kerosene lighthouses still operating today. Then I also found this article about how lighthouse keepers wouldn’t have to actually drag heavy containers of kerosene up the stairs every single day, because kerosene lamps actually don’t use all that much fuel: I did enjoy learning a little bit more about lighthouses, and I don’t think you have to get all the facts just right since this is obviously a symbolic story, but all the symbols and feelings and grief are just strewn around, and don’t really come together for me.

Stainless -- Ironic Twist
This story is...interesting. I like the layers of emotions and motivations and fears. I do not like the layer metaphor of a chipped manicure. It was too long and contrived. Should have just stopped with the rock formations metaphor. That was sufficient. It’s funny that finding out her nightmares are about murdering him makes the protagonist feel better, not worse -- at least, that is how I understand the story. But it’s believable. The decision to keep loving her even after he finds the knife is a satisfactory conclusion. I’m not quite sure what to think of the knife itself though. Presumably Ondine put it there. But it what frame of mind? Why leave it there? Did she know it was there? The conversation on the phone where she says “I just can’t. Sometimes I think I’ll wake up with the knife in my hand” confuses me more. Did she place the knife there to ward away the nightmares? Does it relate to how she can cut off a rooster head? It’s not just that these questions aren’t satisfactorily answered -- sometimes that is okay -- but that they aren’t satisfactorily tethered to the story. There is nothing there to anchor their significance.

Babylon and On -- Benny Profane
This HMed, for me, in large part because of a good joke well executed, and carried on far past when it should have ceased to be funny. Then it changed to what may have been a strange political metaphor about how we should all just get along and our disagreements will fade with time? I don’t know. Ninja Turtle part was real good though.

Julian to Come - Djeser
Good premise on this one, but needed more serious thinking about the consequences of time travel. In the first paragraph: “The villages the dragon attacked were sent a hundred years into the future. The king's men arrived to find the great-great-grandchildren of the villagers that had lived there before.” But...if the villagers were sent into the futre, their great-great-grandchildren would be born even further into the future, not in the present, right? So I’m immediately kind of confused about this Time Dragon and have lost confidence in this story to handle the pain-in-the-rear end that is time travel well. It continues to be a problem. Why was the one knight “withered” by the dragon breath instead of sent into the future? Why on earth would a young person be less susceptible to such a breath? How do we get from “breath sends people into the future” to “water will erode its skull”? Then the young knight gets sent into the future (that part was at least suitably foreshadowed), but… nothing really comes of it? He finds his name in an old book and it reminds him of home and that makes him feel better…. but so what? Is he just going to live in his memories. Nothing changed about the character, it was just a series of events and those events didn’t quite make the sense they needed to. Boo.

Fault Lines -- Grizzled Patriarch
I like a story with a good allegorical sinkhole opening up right at the beginning. Nothing to jostle the hero out of his normal life like a good old-fashioned earthquake that disturbs the shrine and calls him on a quest. Good refusal of the quest, and then the further nudge, the visit from the oracle, the decision to go, the passage into the underworld. It all feels really natural, which is impressive for the whole sink-hole, crawling into a crack in the wall after dead-daughter singing, discovery of a massive underground room thing. But then...the ending is unsatisfying. No wisdom gained, no circle closed. You leave him poised on a precipice of uncertain significance. It appears he has no choice to descend, so how does he REACT. He doesn’t, you cut us off. Not pleasant. Not “effective” or “deep” or “interesting.” Irritating and makes the rest of the story feel almost like a waste.

Someone Keeps Moving My Chair -- curlingiron
Ahhhhhh this is such a nightmare situation. They might be cliche by now, but these kind of cruelties, which feel so inescapable, always get me. It’s why I can’t really bear to read Kafka. He’s the master of it, after all. Anyway, poor Harry. And the insults, too. And the final insult, the chair on the window ledge. It’s all pretty convincing to me, in a nightmare sort of way. My own personal nightmare of being helpless and surrounded by assholes. A nightmare that kept me reading in a grim sort of sympathy to the end, but…. man that “insurance policy doesn’t cover suicide thing” is sooooooo cliche by now.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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

Upon the Shore
Opus 217. Against the Enamel of a Background Rhythmic with Beats and Angles, Tones, and Tints, Portrait of M. Félix Fénéon in 1890 by Paul Signac


See Archive

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 16:56 on Dec 30, 2015

Oct 30, 2003

Judging is underway already.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

newtestleper posted:


Judging is underway already.

fantastic news because you know what they say......

Oct 30, 2003
Week #137 - A Picture is Worth rand( ) % 1500 words

Dishonorable Mentions:
ZeBourgeoisie - Underground Anomalies: You took a boring scene in a cave where nothing happens, a boring scene in a drawing room where nothing happens, and you fixed them together with flour paste. This story had no meaning and was very lucky not to lose.
Comrade Question - A Bigger Splash by David Hockney: You took what I thought was the best prompt of all of them, threw it out the window, and competently wrote a borderline insensitive story in the tradition of the noble savage.
Capntastic - His MIrror: You win the special head judge spite DM for one of those stupid stories that pretends to be one thing and uses torturous language to protect a twist ending that even M Night Shymarmalade would be ashamed of. Also I absolutely hated your use of language. Right from the very first paragraph it was obvious you were overreaching both your own vocabulary as well as the limits of good taste. Use words you understand.

Honourable Mentions:
Djeser - The Future as told by Larry Page: For a cute, cartoonish vision of technohell with a :3 ending.
Tyrannosaurus - Teyron Foley and the Thousand-Yard Stare: For a simple and topical domestic story/vignette with honest humanity. Would have been competing for the win if it hadn't had an aggressively terrible opening paragraph.
Bompacho - She's My Mate: For an unsurprising but affecting tearjerker. There is something to be said for a simple, earnest story told well. Also (possible) judge pandering didn't hurt your chances.
Screaming Idiot - Sunset: While this wasn't at the top of anyone's list we all agreed that it was a very well written story. I particularly enjoyed the way you wove in a description of the painting in a non terrible way (unlike every other single person who tried doing this)

madpanda - an untitled story: There were two horrible things wrong with this story. There was no proofreading, but I've never actually seen that many errors in a non proofread story. It was like anti proofreading, like your word document got corrupted or something. Also nothing happened, and it was way to long to be allowed to be a vignette. It would not take a lot of effort to get out of craptown though, so keep trying. (ps that means you are currently in craptown)

Grizzled Patriarch - Upon the Shore: This had great characterization, great prose, and great weirdness. It was a very open narrative, but not frustrating- it made us want to know more about what was happening. We all agreed this is something we would love to be able to keep reading. I was glad you made that prompt work so well- it was a tricky one with a lot of potential.

Well done to our winners and honourable mentions, especially the first timers. PROOOOOOOOOOOOOMPT.

newtestleper fucked around with this message at 00:06 on Mar 24, 2015

Feb 16, 2011

I eat your face

Congrats once again GP, you're on a roll (PROOOOOMPT)

Thank you for the TMBG Week crit DocKloc.

sebmojo posted:

tbh I mostly don't even read the prompt when I judge, it's a good story or its not u feel me

For me, whether or not you hit the prompt is a major part of the scoring.

Someone should compile notes on how to pander to each of the possible judges.

Maugrim fucked around with this message at 15:15 on Mar 23, 2015

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

spectres of autism posted:

Pulling Strings
1332 words

I am doing a free crit of this story in google docs.

angel opportunity fucked around with this message at 16:25 on Mar 23, 2015

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo
thanks man

i think my internet is loving up but ill look at the comments whenever possible, i dont think you want a discussion anyway

take the moon fucked around with this message at 16:10 on Mar 23, 2015

May 23, 2008

Thanks for the feedback.

I am reading through criticism for previous weeks Thunderdome entries. As well as proofreading tutorials. The formatting got screwed when pasting from google docs to SA. I didn't notice this.

Jan 10, 2006

Ha o poo poo you guys must have sucked hard to be worse than what I put out

I hate picture rounds, it is like a Rorschach test and all I see is kloctopisses mum

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007






thanks in advance for the line crit, muffin :allears:

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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

Well that was a pleasant surprise. Alright then:

:siren: Thunderdome Week CXXXVII: Aaahh!!! Real Monsters :siren:

I'm keeping things simple this week. Your characters live in a world where monsters are real. Maybe this is unusual, maybe it's not.

What I Want:

Monsters (no, "mankind" does not count)
Characters that do things and have feelings

What I Don't Want:

Wikipedia articles / D&D Monster Manual entries
Stories where nothing happens

Sign-ups Close: Midnight EST, Friday March 27
Entries Close" Midnight EST, Sunday March 29

Wordcount: 1200
Rules: No fanfic, no erotica

This guy right here

Fantastical Beings:

A Classy Ghost
Benny Profane
Wangless Wonder
Broenheim :toxx:
spectres of autism :toxx:
Doctor Idle
Screaming Idiot
Jay O
kurona_bright :toxx:
Comrade Question
Something Else
Franco Potente :toxx:
starr :toxx:

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 02:02 on Mar 28, 2015

A Classy Ghost
Jul 21, 2003

this wine has a fantastic booquet


Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's DIE!"

Maugrim posted:

Congrats once again GP, you're on a roll (PROOOOOMPT)

Thank you for the TMBG Week crit DocKloc.

For me, whether or not you hit the prompt is a major part of the scoring.

Someone should compile notes on how to pander to each of the possible judges.

This is why the TMBG prompt said:


You can take inspiration from anything related to the song, and interpret it really broadly, but it should be kinda related somehow.
Judging is going to be based only on our enjoyment of whatever you write.

For me, the real point is that the story should stand alone without reference to the prompt material.

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