|# ? Mar 25, 2015 20:35|
|# ? Feb 2, 2023 01:25|
just skip critting my tmbg thing, dont waste your internet breath. it was basically a joke i wrote out in a couple hours and didnt give any thought to. in retrospect i have no idea how i didnt lose.
im not amazing but i think im a bit better than that story
ah frig this is prolly the wrong thread for this
|# ? Mar 25, 2015 20:39|
ah frig this is prolly the wrong thread for this
This is the right thread. Basically you should go to FA if you want further opinions on your story, or to discuss aspects of your crit. This rule is there so people who feel like arguing with whoever gave them a crit instead of just saying thanks can go there to be ignored.
on that note thanks for the crit curlingiron!
|# ? Mar 25, 2015 21:09|
since i failed to submit (again) i once again offer 3 line-by-line crits, with a being placed that I will finish them by next sunday. this is for any week, just link me to your story and ill be happy to crit 'em.
I'll take the last one.
I recognize some obvious problems, but I think I could use some down 'n dirty help. Thanks!
Thanks to curlingiron for the crit as well
|# ? Mar 25, 2015 21:21|
And now I am also in.
|# ? Mar 25, 2015 21:22|
Relatedly I still owe crits for tmbg, so here's a to have them done (judgeburps and a smattering of line by lines) by subs close this week.
Let me piggyback on this and say that I will have my week 134 crits done by the same time.
|# ? Mar 25, 2015 21:29|
Crit of spectres of autism's redemption.
So the writing in this was pretty cool and the opening paragraph in particular really hooked me. I was interested in who or what Wen was, and also what the hell the things were that were eating each other. Also dental ickiness is always a nice creepy thing. This alone was enough to staisfy my criteria of it being interesting.
However you never actually described what was happening and at the end I had no idea at all what happened. This was extremely annoying when the start made m think I was going to read something good. I thought maybe it just didn't stand on its own? Nope- I had to make a guess that it was based on Raft of the Medusa.
If you care to I think you should start with the same opening paragraph and rewrite this with emphasis on clarity.
|# ? Mar 25, 2015 21:30|
And now I am also in.
|# ? Mar 25, 2015 21:39|
Let me piggyback on this and say that I will have my week 134 crits done by the same time.
Week 136 crits by subs close
|# ? Mar 25, 2015 22:36|
|# ? Mar 25, 2015 22:51|
Edited out linecrit for thread closure
Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 19:12 on Dec 30, 2015
|# ? Mar 25, 2015 23:07|
After lurking this thread for a while, I have decided that I am In with a
|# ? Mar 26, 2015 00:41|
After lurking this thread for a while, I have decided that I am In with a
i like your style
|# ? Mar 26, 2015 07:55|
In this week because I finally blah blah blah personal stuff that doesn't matter JUST WRITE.
|# ? Mar 26, 2015 19:56|
In this week because I finally blah blah blah personal stuff that doesn't matter JUST WRITE.
please keep your drama out of the thread UGH
|# ? Mar 26, 2015 22:06|
Painting Crits part II
Benny Profane - The Reduction
I like this a lot, especially the crispness of the language. I’m also a sucker for colonial stories. I like the empathy he has for the other tribe, that really gives him some depth.
The question for me is if it uses the words well- 850 is a lot for a vignette. I think it does.
HOWEVER the ending was bum. This was the other vignette that tacked on an unneeded epiphany ending.
Cancercakes - Gloop
The first paragraph is trying for something it doesn;t reach eg “Her wheezing companion looked on with a whinging series of sighs that further drove the overseer to distraction.”
This whole piece has a really cool and noble idea, but the execution lets it down massively. A noble failure imo. it was a good use of the prompt, too, kind of outside the painting looking in.
Beautiful last line. I like how circular it is. This is mainly let down by clunky prose throughout.
Enten - Ave Maria
This is a cool creepy story. It uses a small word count really really well to tell an actual story. It reminded me of the ring, with the curse that gets passed on from person to person. The punchline isn’t telegraphed too much, and that allows the ending to have impact. Good writing too.
Curlingiron - Deep Blue
This is quite cool. I thought it was ghosts at the start, and then the explanation was surprising but made sense.
the main problem I had was that the first part felt really disconnected from the rest. I feel like his daughter should have been in it somehow. I did get the point of it by the end but it really made the piece a lot clunkier.
A Classy Ghost - Cat poo poo Island
Okay so this was a pretty tightly written action thingy. You got a sombre, moving painting and then pissed all over it with your crazy storyline about mutant cats, but HEY! it worked pretty well. Well done marrying a prompt and a flash rule that are completely at odds with each other. Funny punchline too, though you should have skipped the last line.
You should also have worked the murUroa atoll thing into the story more seamlessly- the prologue is annoying. This had a little bit of the feeling of Tyrannosaurus’ opening paragraph- a bit of debatably neccessay exposition that doesn’t fit in.
madpanda - Jitterbug
First paragraph is trying a little too hard for my tastes. We’ll see if the overwrought, weird vibe is actually used for any good purpose.
Okay so the quality of proofreading is absolutely TERRIBLE and 1000 words of vignette is awful too. You can’t just randomly smash the keyboard with your forehead and expect something readable. For example the second paragraph just trails off at the end?
Also the last paragraph was the sorriest excuse for an ending I have ever heard. If you’re going to write a vignette write a bloody vignette! Don’t write a vignette then tack on a contrived epiphany and pretend it’s an ending. There was another story this week that did the same thing.
The main reason this deserved the loss was because of the lack of proofreading. I don’t expect and TD story to have perfect flow and punctuation, but at least have some respect for the judges and put in more time proofreading than they’ll take finding errors. You have a linecrit coming.
Noah - Profane Love.
The pace of this is quite exhilarating. I enjoyed the rollercoaster ride a lot. This was the most controversial story, with judges rating it in their top 3, bottom 3, and smack bang in the middle.
While I don’t completely understand this story I connected very strongly with it emotionally, because of the pace as well as the writing. It was chilling. The chrysalis seemed to represent everything that the brother had lost.
I think a big problem with it was that the action escalated much too suddenly. As much as we want fast pacing in flash fiction that doesn’t mean you can lurch so suddenly from a sensitive family thing to a bloodbath.
The ending is so hopeless too, where the brother shakes him off. It was a little confusing, and there was some disagreement on what actually happened.
wangless wonder - split second
This idea is cool- real world DBZ style superhero employed by corporates as a mascot. It is also written better than I thought on my first read through. I think you tried to bring a few too many elements in- the stuff about the criminal aspect of their work- the suicide and the criminal contents of the satchel at the end are a bit much. I think you should have chosen one or the other - either criminal or corporate, and focused on that. The action at the end was nice. I had this in the middle.
|# ? Mar 26, 2015 23:37|
anime was right fucked around with this message at 05:52 on Oct 27, 2015
|# ? Mar 27, 2015 03:15|
In with a
|# ? Mar 27, 2015 04:13|
|# ? Mar 27, 2015 20:45|
Perfect Action Hero 2: Ho's Revenge 497 words
Jack Magnum rattled the ice in his sloe gin and considered his position. He crossed his legs.
“What makes you think I do want to sleep with you, Mrs Vanderhilt?”
She raised a perfect eyebrow.
“You mean you don’t?”
He looked at the legs. At mid-thigh he hit the towel that covered the curves. Up past the bare shoulders his eyes continued, past the slightly wet auburn hair, the delicate chin, the pouting lips, to the green irises - and then they ran for the cover of the gin glass.
Suddenly she gasped louder than the sexual tension merited. Two giant boots demolished the window as Jack’s instinctive dive connected and they slid across the floor on his leather-clad rear end, halting behind the tatty high-backed red leather sofa. She had somehow ended up on top.
Jack Magnum reached for his trusty Sig Sauer P226. Not there – back in his Shelby GT500 Classic. The Vicuna coat hung by the door, too far away. He felt naked without it. He wished he was naked, that Leah was naked too, and that he wasn’t being shot at. And that she wasn’t married to most ruthless gangster in Auckland.
“I was looking for one woman, but here are two! Come out, Mr Magnum, I expected a test.”
It should have been easy, a favour for a mutual friend. Leah was leaving Jimmy Holt and planned to give everything to the NZP. Jack was just here to keep it off-book. Now Jimmy’s hitman had them pinned down, and Jack hadn’t even nailed the gangster’s wife.
“I will give you a chance, Jack. Here –“
A huge knife embedded itself into the wall, it sang as it vibrated.
A slow minute passed.
“Such a shame.”
The barrage ripped through leather, splinters filled the air the wooden back began to give way -
Jack in a single motion threw Leah off, yanked the knife from the wall, threw it, and dove towards the door.
The huge knife plunged into the huge leg, and the assassin shouted with delight.
“That’s more like it!”
The Hyena examined the great Jack Magnum sprawled on the floor, holding up the treasured Vicuna by its pockets.
“What are you going to do, shoot me with a coat?”
Jack Magnum pulled the triggers of his twin Desert Eagles and sprayed the brains of the most brutal hitman in Australasia across the ceiling. The expensive new holes in the coat smoked as the body thundered to the floor.
Jack tried to remember when he had last taken a breath.
“This is for Brad Thorn!”
Leah flew at him, knife coming straight at his heart, too fast to stop. Her face went from beautiful angry, to beautiful surprised in the same instant that her gorgeous chest turned into a fine red mist.
“That’s two you owe me now, Jacky boy.” Harry Ho pointed the shotgun at the skeletal sofa, “and what the hell have you done to my apartment?!”
|# ? Mar 27, 2015 22:27|
Bit less than six hours left to sign up for this week!
|# ? Mar 27, 2015 22:28|
|# ? Mar 28, 2015 00:03|
Entries are closed.
|# ? Mar 28, 2015 04:05|
Entries are closed.
|# ? Mar 28, 2015 04:11|
don't sign ur posts
|# ? Mar 28, 2015 04:12|
To the entrants this week:
For a penalty of 200 words off your count, I'll give you a monster and a conflict. This is in case you're boring and can't come up with a good story on your own.
|# ? Mar 28, 2015 04:54|
Max filled his dropper with nutrient solution. The hatchlings cooed and chirped as he squeezed a few droplets each into their eager mouths. His serious, stern expression softened whenever he worked with the newborns.
A female hatchling hummed softly, licking her lips of leftover solution. Her rotund body, no bigger than a plum, resembled a marshmallow with human-like eyes. Max remembered tending to her embryo, which had been put under critical care for most of its incubation.
The conveyer belt sprang to life. The hatchlings made high pitched, panicky chirps as they were led to overnight storage. Without thinking, Max snatched the female hatchling from the belt and stuffed her into the pocket of his labcoat.
For the rest of his shift, Max drifted from his computer to his co-workers, filing paperwork and chatting about the weather. It was too late to put the hatchling back, at least not without informing his superiors.
“Whatever,” Max thought to himself, “she should be easy enough to sneak out and take care of.”
As Max began to pack his suitcase, the intercom crackled to life. The voice sounded more bored than anything, but Max’s heart constricted with every word.
“Alert, the building is on temporary lockdown. A Theta-32 Prototype has been reported missing. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
Max speed walked to the lobby, the tiny creature still rustling in his coat pocket. Fortunately, her movements were unnoticed by the rather irate staff.
“I bet one of the janitors, I mean, ‘sanitation engineers’ took it as a pet for his kid,” said a passing researcher.
The lobby was mostly deserted when Max reached it. He saw a few stray security officers gathered around the frontdesk. Needing some form of escape, Max darted into the only place he could think to hide: the restrooms.
Max could still hear the security staff from the lobby, and he knew they’d check the restrooms. If he had to give the guards one thing, they followed their protocols well.
Slinking into a stall, Max felt hopeless. He was going to lose his job, his prestige, and the little creature he spent the better part of four years rearing. He thought about what they did to Theta-32 Prototypes after they reached maturity, and shuddered.
He could still see it. Tubes stuck all throughout its body, fluids pumped in and fluids siphoned out. A piece of fleshy machinery, that’s all they were to corporate. Hell, that’s all they were to the majority of the researchers. Even the livestock of the old world had better existences.
Max fished the hatchling from his pocket, holding her tiny body in his palm. She looked up at him with eyes as trusting as a child’s. He saw within them a spark of intelligence, and, more importantly, a sense of love. Love not only for him, but love for living, for licking nutrient solution off her lips, for her short exercise time, and for snuggling inside his labcoat.
She wasn’t just a project he’d been working on for years. She was his daughter.
He dug deeper into his pockets, hoping to find something that would help, anything. He pulled up a crumpled handkerchief, and an idea began to form.
Max took the hatchling and, like a baby delivered from the stork, tied her into a bundle with the handkerchief. As carefully as he could, Max lifted the lid from the tank of the toilet and fastened the bundle to the plunger. He hastily replaced the lid and sat back down.
Then, Max unfastened his pants and did his business. He needed to look legitimate, and he wasn’t sure piss would do the job.
“Hey, anybody in here?” called a voice from outside the stall.
“Yeah, what do you want?” replied Max.
Footsteps marched over. Max put on his best poker face and opened the door.
“Can’t a guy do his business in private?” he asked.
“Oh, sorry. Could you, like, wipe? Policy says we gotta frisk everyone here.”
“Gimme a minute.”
It only took a few moments for Max to finish his business. He walked out of the stall, the guard doing his best to avoid eye contact. Max feigned annoyance as he let the officer pat him down. The young guard stared down at the floor before leaving, his face bright red.
As carefully as before, Max removed the lid and retrieved the hatchling. He stuffed her back into his pocket and strolled out into the lobby.
A second, much older guard clasped Max on the shoulder. The younger guard stood to the side, still red in the face but trying to act casual.
“He told me what happened. You can go now. Thanks for your patience.”
Max walked out to his car, escorted by the older security guard.
“Sorry about what happened,” said the guard.
“Forget about it.”
Max turned the ignition and made it home within minutes. He pulled the hatchling from his coat when he walked into the living room. For a few moments they just smiled at eachother before Max broke the silence.
“Sorry, I don’t have any nutrient solution. Would you settle for a dollop of peanut butter instead?”
|# ? Mar 28, 2015 06:40|
One was out there, circling. Hungry.
I dunno what gives them away but I can always pick it. Something my subconscious does, putting together hints of sound and smell and shadow into a gut-deep certainty: you put a foot out that door and you aren't coming back in, 'cept maybe some bits.
The scrawny kid was pacing between the two living room windows, peering out like he could see jack poo poo. Shaz had already snapped at him to sit down twice and I could see her getting pissed again, but she rolled her eyes and went upstairs to bed instead.
Soon as she left the room the kid came over and started trying to hit me up for a feel. What are you, eighteen, I said and laughed in his face. Be lying if I said I didn't think about letting him get a gently caress on me, it'd been a long time between, but this kid had all the marks of someone gonna get his face chewed off soon and I really didn't want it like that again. Maybe in a couple months I would've lowered my standards.
You haven't even asked what my name is yet, he whined, and I told him to go the hell to sleep, we're gonna try to find a working car tomorrow, make the city.
Woke up a few hours later feeling cold. Door was open so I bolted upright, went for the shotgun, sat there aiming it into the dark outside. Least the lanterns inside were both still lit, plenty of oil left.
Kid, I called quietly. Kid, you round? No answer.
I got up and edged round to the front wall. Slid along to behind the door, shotgun rigid in front of me. Slowly used my toe to nudge the door closed, every second expecting to hear something tear across the porch, smash it back towards me.
Door closed with a click. I backed over to the couch, collapsed onto it, let my body start shaking. Eventually slept again, sitting up with the gun cradled across my chest.
They don't like lights. They won't come near them unless they can grab you and get out of there in a heartbeat, and even then they'll think twice. You get a bright light, you're almost safe. You get a bright light and walls around you and you have a guaranteed night's sleep.
Don't let the lights go out. Don't go outside.
Next morning Shaz and me went through the kid's stuff. He hadn't taken anything with him, but there was nothing worth taking, really. He hosed off then, Shaz said, and I nodded, and we didn't mention him again.
We didn't find a car that would start so it was another day of humping packs. The upside was that they were getting pretty light. The downside was that this was because there was no loving food left. I took a couple shots at a big fat white bird but didn't hit it and Shaz got real sharp about wasting cartridges, which I had to admit was a fair point, although she wouldn't even have tried 'cause her aim is terrible since her glasses got broke.
Favours an axe and getting close up, Shaz does, and she's got the bulk to use it and the vicious attitude to use it well. Guy jumped us a month or so back, thought a couple women were an easy target. Regretted it till he bled out from his stumps.
We followed the highway for most of the day. Rounded a curve after midday and the city was there in front of us. Still distant though, and we weren't making a great pace. Too tired, too hungry.
Don't think we'll get there in time to get settled in, I told Shaz, and she squinted at the towers and spat on the ground by way of agreement. We took the next off-ramp down.
We were lucky enough to run across a group down there living in an old supermarket and we offered to trade a pistol for food. They had a lot to eat but it was starting to go stale so they jumped at the trade for a working gun with bullets.
They had a couple of kids with them and seeing them hit me real hard and I had to not remember some poo poo that night when I was going to sleep. Shaz parked her mattress next to mine and kept one hand on her axe but I didn't think these people were any threat. Also why I didn't think they were going to last much longer. You need to be a threat.
We left early and the guy in charge suggested that we didn't go. Nothing in the city except danger, he said. It's been stripped.
We got nothing better to do, said Shaz, might as well stick with our plan.
You could stay here, he said, we really can use experienced people like you, and he looked at Shaz' axe, but he looked at my face, and I turned to Shaz and was gonna suggest a change of plan when she said No, and her eyes were narrowed right down. So we gave him his pistol and his ammo and we left.
We got back up on the highway and we walked for about an hour and we didn't say anything the whole time. We got into the business district and there was nothing there. Our footsteps made metallic sounds that echoed back to us and except for the wind and the birds they were the only noise.
By the time we got to a plaza with a dry fountain in it Shaz' face was blotchy and red and big tears were sliding down it. She sat down hard on the edge of the fountain and she squinted up at me 'cause she couldn't see for poo poo and she said OK this was fuckin' stupid, let's go back to the supermarket then.
I put down my pack and the gun and took a step towards her to say something, but then she made a huffing sound and a big pink flap opened up in her head, and she slowly fell backwards into the dusty fountain bed and a crack of sound bounced all around the buildings.
Then I was lying in the fountain because my body worked it out before my brain caught up, and I was staring at Shaz and the eye she had left wasn't squinting any more. It was open wide and relaxed and staring up into the cloudless sky.
Twice during the afternoon I tried to jump up and run and twice a big chunk of the fountain exploded into concrete dust. The second round passed so close between my shoulder and my neck that I felt the air sting them. Had to give the shooter credit.
Now it's getting too dark to keep writing this, and I've thought some. If I get up and run for it the shooter might not be able to hit me but I won't make it to safety before the sunset's gone.
Left it too late anyway because I can feel that there's one circling around out there again. Good old subconscious doing its thing to keep me alive, doesn't get that sometimes poo poo is just hopeless.
Almost full dark. It's showing itself to me in the shadows, on purpose I think, and I recognise who it used to be. That scrawny kid. Guess he really did have a thing for me. Wish I'd asked his na
|# ? Mar 28, 2015 09:02|
On a balmy spring afternoon at Shady Oaks Retirement Home, one resident was looking wistfully out of his window when he heard a knock at his doorpost. He turned and saw a boy standing outside of his open doorway. "Grandpa Joe?"
The boy sighed. "Don't do that..."
"Kid, I don't know who you think I am, but I sure as hell ain't your grandpa."
"I'm just messing with you Nathan," Grampa Joe said to his great-grandson and laughed. Nathan ambled over and sat down on the full-sized bed next to his grandpa. "So how are things? And don't you dare say 'okay' when you don't mean it."
Nathan nodded. "Mom and Dad caught me looking at 'inappropriate pictures' online and now I'm grounded."
Grandpa Joe stared at his great-grandson for a moment before smiling and chuckling. Nathan blushed redder than a baboon's butt before he got off the bed to leave.
"S-s-son," Grandpa Joe said and grabbed Nathan's arm, "I'm not laughing at you," he explained and got him back on the bed next to him. "I went through the same thing you did!"
"Of course," he said. "I was about your age when it happened, actually..."
"Hey Mac, take a look at this," Joe said and passed him a pocket-sized comic book.
"Joe, what is this?"
"Dunno, I think it's called a Tijuana Bible, it's got Blondie and Dagwood on the cover, though."
"Why are they taking their clothes off?"
"What are they-"
"Eeeeewwwww!" Both boys shouted as Mac threw the book down. "Why did you show me this?"
"I just found this thing," Joe said. "Snuck it out from my big brother's things."
"They read this kind of stuff?" Mac asked in disbelief and shook his head while picking it back up with his thumb and forefinger like a spider by its leg.
"They do," Joe said as his eyes suddenly grew wide. "Hey Mac..."
"Ooooohhhh no," Mac said and threw the booklet back down
"Come on," Joe pleaded with him.
"I know good and well that whatever it is, it's nothing but trouble," Mac said as he got up to leave.
"We could sell these for a nickel apiece!"
Mac stopped. "How much?"
"Are you sure about this, Joe?"
Joe and Mac hid behind a bush in the backyard of a ramshackle house, right behind a sad-looking shack with white smoke puffing out of the smokestack.
"Positive," Joe nodded. "Old Man Gower keeps a trunk full of those Bibles in his shack."
"He also has a mean ol' junkyard dog too," Mac whispered, "and a scattergun full a' rocksalt."
"Come on," Joe whispered back, "what, are you a girl?"
Mac grunted. "Let's get it over with."
The two boys snuck into the shack as quietly as they could. Inside it was cramped, filled with several jugs and a wood stove with a giant tank. The smell of wood burning and rotten corn made the two of them cover their noses. "What the hell is that?" Mac asked.
"It's moonshine," Joe said matter-of-factly.
Mac gave him a look. "Stepdad gets drunk off that stuff all the time. Now help me find them funnybooks."
After rummaging around, they finally found a false board where underneath it was a trunk, filled to the brim with the salacious pocket-sized books. "Jackpot," Joe breathed and took his backpack off.
A dog started barking in the distance. Joe and Mac stood stock-still as the dog's barking became louder and more agitated. "Dammit, Rusty!" A raspy, old voice shouted. "What the hell is it this time?"
"Oh, poo poo-" Mac swore.
"Shh!" Joe said as he slowly inched forward and opened the door as quietly as he could. Old Man Gower was there, wearing nothing but jeans and an undershirt, his dog Rusty in front of him as he loaded shells into his scattergun. "Better not be squirrels again," Gower grumbled as he stumbled closer towards his shack.
"Hide!" Joe said as the two crouched behind some jugs. Gower opened the door, gun first, and scanned the inside. Neither boys dared so much as breathing, not while Rusty was crouching down, baring his fangs and growling.
"Dammit, Rusty," Gower said, kicking his dog in the the side before hobbling back home in a huff. The boys waited until they were sure they were safe before poking their heads behind the jugs. "Alright, let's get out of here," Mac said.
"Get out of here nothing," Joe said.
Mac stared at him. "I ain't leaving 'till my backpack's full," Joe said and went back to the trunk.
"We almost got caught!"
"Now he thinks there's nobody here, you jack-rear end!"
"I'm not staying here Joe," Mac said and turned around to leave. As he did, he knocked over one of the jugs, spilling moonshine all over the remaining Bibles, ruining them. "You son of a bitch!" Joe snarled and grabbed his friend, slamming him against the wall of the shack. As the two of them struggled, they knocked the stove open, scattering ashes all over the ground, igniting everything soaked in the spilled moonshine.
"Oh, poo poo," Joe swore.
"Cheese it!" Mac shouted as the two of them burst out of the shack, now bursting into flames. "You mother-fuckers!" Gower screamed behind him. Rusty was right behind the two, nipping at their feet. Gower pulled the hammers back on his scattergun and fired, spraying rocksalt shot towards the boys, missing them by inches and shredding the branches in the bush above them. Sirens filled the air as the two boys ran home as fast as they possibly could.
"Grandpa Joe?" Nathan asked. "You're not just bullshitting me again, are you?"
Grandpa Joe gave him the eye. "I'm feeling generous, so get the hell out before I smack you upside the head."
Nathan grumbled and left, closing the door behind him. Grandpa Joe chuckled to himself contentedly and resumed his window watching.
Benny the Snake fucked around with this message at 22:06 on Mar 28, 2015
|# ? Mar 28, 2015 22:03|
Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 19:13 on Dec 30, 2015
|# ? Mar 29, 2015 00:15|
Don't Touch That Dial - 1197 words
James was never alone; at least, it never felt that way. His days, yawning every morning before him like grey expanses, each one undifferentiated and congealed into some sickening mass, were combatted by his application of words. Wherever he went, he made sure to ensconce himself with the protection of language. The news and weather, audiobooks, music playlists accompanied him throughout the day, interrupted only for the necessities of lectures and tutorials, the barest of pleasantries exchanged at fast food counters. James himself strove to say as little as possible in these encounters—talk in real-life was always far more disappointing to him than the hyper-realized stories told to him in his long sojourns from one room to another.
He looked forward to the night-time the most. It was, growing up, the place he felt most vulnerable and exposed. It had nothing to do with fear, he told himself. After all, the night-light his parents purchased for him as a child didn’t ameliorate things anything: it just made the shadows in his room sharper, more angular. What bothered James about the dark was the complete absence of language. It was as though with dusk humanity retreated into itself, hiding its aspect from the outside world. Sound gave way to noise in the night, the meaningless rattle of pipes and the wind’s seething. As a boy he would yearn for the discordant holler of a drunk along his street to reassure him that the world was still there. Now, living by himself, he revelled in his nightly ritual of the radio, letting its mutterings lull him into unguarded sleep. When inevitably he awoke in the dead hours of the morning (his alarm clock always displaying some inexplicable ratio—3:08 or 4:29) with the urge to pee, he awoke to a world maintained by language.
The immediate feeling that came over him as he jolted into consciousness was embarrassment, as though he had nodded off in the middle of a conversation. But that emotion was just as quickly replaced by the warmth of knowing that he was wholly tertiary to whatever was being spoken or sung. The flow of words continued on even when he wasn’t there to understand them. The world went on, the forecasts and traffic reports and earworm jingles accumulated and spread over his spartan room, galvanizing his existence with this poetic echolalia.
He launched himself from sleep one night, the clock reading 2:22—looking to his bleary eyes like some kind of glitch in the digital display—he was greeted by a song softly humming through the speakers. An old song—a golden oldie, his uncle used to call them, always sounding momentarily enraptured by the internal rhyme, as though the phrase transmuted the repetition of “old” into something powerful and virile. The voice on the radio was female, nasally and insistent, demanding adamantly the arrival of mail, the fulfillment only a letter could provide. He had always wondered about this song: if the letter never came, would she sate her desire by swiping her neighbours’ missives, living vicariously through the promises of payments and credits, salutations and family trivia?
He rose to his task of pissing, hand-washing, and refilling his emptied cup of water. He would then return to wring a few more hours’ sleep from his pillows.
On the way back from his washroom, the song reaching its emotional climax, he felt the that his room was fuller than it had been. His eyes roved the featureless room, landing on his reading chair in the corner. Occupied. A mass piled into the chair, concentrated blackness within the black. James felt cold, and far away. He felt as though he were watching himself fixate on a featureless point in the room. The mass remained in the chair, which creaked obligingly, noise betraying existence. Seconds passed, the woman’s negotiations with the mail replaced by a horn blare from a song he didn’t recognize.
“Shhhh,” the mass hissed.
James turned around with a calmness that surprised him, and re-entered the washroom. He locked the door, allowed his body to crumple to the floor, and forced his eyes shut, pushed his face as hard into the cold tile as it would go.
James hadn’t called the police. He hadn’t seen the point. Night operates on a different logic, one that is exploded in the light of day. He shrugged it off, he put it behind him—contorting himself away from the nightmare.
He continued his word-smothered days, enchanted to sleep by promises of traffic every hour on the hour, and the promise of another empty day to be filled. This particular night, his dreams failed him: he walked corridors, bumping into vague, undefined faces he felt he knew. He would smile at them, and they back, and then their eyes would get wider and wider, their jaws begin to work as though on the precipice of making some announcement, but forming no words, just opening wider and wider. The halls began to stretch and the roof to rise until everything felt so wide and vast and he spilled forward into his warm room and its canopy of language.
It took a moment for his ears to register the commercial’s choked, desperate assurances of low, LOW prices, his brain refusing to translate the words into meaning. The radio babbled on, guaran-TEE-ing James that this offer would not last. Involuntarily, his head rolled to the right, to the chair. The mass sat.
James’s hand reached furtively for the lamp on his night stand.
“Don’t…” the mass gurgled.
James obeyed the raspy command. He froze.
“Don’t…wait…” the words spilled from it, thick and unfamiliar, “c…call for yours…today.”
So it went. It didn`t come every night, which was less of a relief than James had anticipated. The intervals of appearance were random, a code that James couldn’t possibly crack. He would wake in the night to find it in its usual seating, occasionally humming along to a song.
Then James, wrenched from a sleep that was a dream of the pure void, found the mass standing at the edge of his bed. The radio offered nothing now but the persistence of static.
“James,” the mass, undefinable as ever, darkness-in-the-dark, spoke. Its voice was unsteady, thin and insistent as wind. It dispersed into the static rushing out of the radio, melting into pure white noise.
“It’s nice to finally…speak to you, James.”
There was a pause. The static pulsed and the room sounded like it was filling with water.
“Spent so long under your bed, in your closet, James. So…stuffy, in there.”
The boy’s fingers pulled themselves toward the nightstand. He could feel the base of the lamp.
“I’ve been with you…for a long time, James. Watched you grow up.”
He could feel the metal cord of the lamp’s pull coiled in his hands.
“I’m always here. And the words at night, they’re…comforting. I’m learning them, myself. I don’t feel so…scared, anymore.”
The hand faltered. Moved away. It hung in the air for the moment, and then fell forward, landing softly beside the radio’s plastic and switching it off. The static vanished, and the room was robbed of any noise.
“Hello,” James said.
|# ? Mar 29, 2015 01:09|
G-d Was Missing Us
The horizon was bruised purple in the west, where the sun hadn't yet rescued it from the silhouette of the mountains. The great, wheeling shapes in the sky blotted it out, like a pair of hands cupped around a candle.
Layla drew back the bowstring, letting it brush against the spot of blood on her lips. For luck. Her arrow drifted up in an arc, and as it reached its zenith, it was torn from the sky. It looked like a little spindle in the Roc's talons, and then it snapped into two halves.
"Why do you play with them?" Ammsa asked. "They're not like Horut."
"No, but there is a common ancestry."
Horut shifted his weight on Layla's shoulder, claws gripping at her through her leather jerkin. She had raised him from an egg, but she enjoyed a practical degree of separation. Those claws were sharp.
He was fixed on a black dot in the distance. A crow, trying to crack a palm nut and not having much luck in the soft sand. It hopped and shuffled, tapping, looking for a rock.
The sun came out and Layla saluted it. She rolled her other shoulder and heard the bones click together, then her left thigh, where a Felsi spear had found its way in the last campaign and smeared it with thick, white-pink scar tissue. Now she walked with an attractive limp.
"Why do you suppose they play with each other? Wheeling, snatching, carrying those big boulders and dropping them on all of civilisation?"
Ammsa shrugged her smooth, dark shoulders. The war had left her no less pretty and no more thoughtful. She said, with her usual wisdom, "The same reason magpies swoop and toss rocks at your head. Spite."
"The same reason you do anything, then?"
They shared a smile. It was the nature of their friendship that they could say so to each other.
"Well, we'll soon cease being playful. The Shahanshah wants that one," and Layla pointed up with an arrow.
"Ka? Of all of them, that ugly bastard?"
Ammsa was right. Each Roc was as big as a small house, with a wingspan that dwarfed the sails of a ship, but Ka was the biggest and the ugliest. The oldest too, if scars told the story. They ripped through his feathers, balding him in places, seeming to stitch him together in others. He was leucistic, which meant he lacked the glossy chestnut plumage and was white instead. He was yellow of eye, pink of beak and claw.
The same thing could be seen in some hawks. They always looked like devils, or overgrown doves.
"The Shah fancies white feathers will improve his image."
"Of course he does. You can win a war against the Felsi, but their dogma of white-winged angels sticks with you, doesn't it? It sticks like an arrow." Ammsa shook her head, and the black wing of her hair shimmered with it. "Even if you martyr them, they talk long of their God after they're dead. Right up until their tongues rot."
It was black magic, that. Or white magic. They had lost the distinction between the advent of alphabet and now, when the only god was Shahanshah, King of Kings.
Some kingdom of dust and sand. Dust was a constant. It stung their eyes and cheeks. Layla spat a mouthful of it into the sand. "gently caress it. gently caress my brother."
"I will. The Shah asks and he shall receive. And so here we are, his Royal Falconer and his Royal Whore, thus attired and waiting for what, exactly?"
"They must come from somewhere. Nests. Eyries. Horut will know. He could find a gnat in the desert."
"Yes, and the Shah could spread the sun like butter."
They waited, for the shadows to lengthen, for the Rocs and Ammsa to lose their patience. She dusted off her slit skirts, cursing. Layla's thigh was tight, hot, the scars itching like new. She counted the remaining shapes in the sky, and finally saw the white Roc leaving. She threw Horut up off her arm.
The falcon wheeled once. His yellow eyes met with Ka's, a hundred times bigger. Then he went for the crow.
There was no cry of warning. Only the sharp of his claws in the black-feathered body, the fatally hard impact. He wrung it round and round, like an oil rag. When they got to him, he had mimicked the crow and cracked its head open on a half-buried rock, unburied by Horut's strong wings. The palm nut lay nearby, unopened.
"I told you!" Ammsa laughed. "Spite."
Ammsa stayed with the crow, saying she preferred the company of the dead to being dead herself. Already flies were buzzing at the edges of its milky eyes.
So Layla went with Horut.
Rocs nested higher in stories. She had thought of something soaring, a place anchored in the sun and wreathed in clouds, where giant eagles lived and fed gazelles to their young. A place too high for her to reach, the news of which she could relay to her brother.
This was just a mouth in the rock, where the dust had drained away into a little doorway. There must've been a Roc-entrance. This was not it. Layla had to wedge herself in, flattening one shoulder after another, twisting like a cat, grunting when the rock scraped her arm bloody.
It was dark. An uncountable way ahead of her, light touched the edges of a much larger doorway.
She thought of Ammsa's kohl eyes widening in the gloom, and was glad she had stayed behind. She made towards the light, with her bow and an arrow between her knuckles.
The second doorway opened into an antechamber that would have fit the Shah's bedroom many times over. Sunlight poured from a great gulf in the ceiling. The Rocs were all gathered in a circle, suffused in light, the sheen of their blue-brown feathers glittering like the Shah's treasure room.
In the centre of the congregation was Ka.
He held a hammer and chisel in his claws. Several of his architects held the same tools, and with them, they chiselled a segment of rock into an approximation of the divine. They chipped and rustled, breathing life into a hundred-foot statue.
It had the head of an eagle, and craftsmanship unlike Layla had seen. Each eye was picked out in careful detail, as if to watch her from the still face.
Horut croaked in her ear. She sat heavily on the ground, the arrow slack in her fingers.
It had the body of a woman. This was clumsier, rougher, one breast missing entirely, the feet an undecided mix of toes and talons. There was special attention paid to the statue's left thigh, where a mess of rock was tangled and knotted together, like scar tissue.
Horut was screaming.
One by one, the Rocs turned their heads and regarded her, and she saw the fire of avian intelligence lit in their yellow eyes. She saw Ka spread his arms, as the Shah's preacher did every morning on the temple steps.
Goddess, they said.
She was folded into huge white wings.
|# ? Mar 29, 2015 02:34|
Flash rule: http://i.imgur.com/Tw7LHMi.gif
Lydia waved a piece of cheese in front of the space under her bed. She lay on her stomach, her arms dangling over the edge. After a moment, a long limb unfurled from beneath, its soft white fur tickling her fingers. It grabbed the cheese but did not retreat; instead, the rest of the creature followed. A tangle of arms – or legs? – rose and stood in front of Lydia, looking at her from two piercing violet eyes hidden within the mass.
Lydia grinned and said, “Hi Tangly.”
One of the limbs waved while the one holding the cheese made the piece disappear somewhere in the fur under the eyes. She reached out and scratched the creature.
The bedroom door crashed open and Lydia’s father staggered in, holding an empty bottle and speaking: “Lydia, I need you to go to town, I’m all out of-“
He saw Tangly, roared and stepped towards it. The monster tried to retreat under the bed but it was thrown against the wall, where it fell and cowered in the corner.
Lydia’s father turned to her, “You said that thing left!”
She sat up on the bed and protested, “It was! It really was!”
“Shut up, you liar, or I’ll give you another thrashing.” He took a look at Tangly and then said to Lydia, “Stay here.”
He picked up the monster, which started flailing and shrieking, and left the room. Lydia started crying in silence. A few minutes later her father called her from the hall. She wiped her tears and left her room.
He had fastened an iron collar around Tangly’s midsection and tied a rope to it.
“I hear these things’ fur sell well,” he said. “You’re going to take it into town and trade it for a few bottles of the good stuff.”
“No! Please, it’s my friend!”
“Do I have to remind you what happens to disobedient girls?” said Lydia’s father, hooking his thumbs in his belt.
“I- no, I’ll go,” she replied, looking down. She watched two tears fall and scatter the dust on the floor.
Lydia put on her coat, boots, gloves and hat; the snow outside made covering up necessary. Her father held the rope out and she took it. He opened the door and Lydia walked out, pulling Tangly along.
They trudged through the thick layer of snow that had fallen overnight, towards town. Lydia had to wipe away frost from under her eyes more than once. The house no longer visible behind them, she stopped and looked towards the horizon.
“No,” she said, “we’re not going to town, Tangly.”
She turned to the monster, removed the collar. The creature’s eyes widened and it stretched its limbs, standing taller now. Lydia’s eyes sparkled in the sunlight and she smiled at Tangly.
“Come on, we’re going to have some fun.”
Tangly followed her off the road and into even thicker snow. The going was rough and it had to help her up a few times when she tripped, but they were still moving faster than they had been when heading to town.
They reached a frozen pond and snow started falling in big, slow flakes.
“Here we are,” said Lydia. “One second!”
She moved to the hollowed out stump of a tree and reached in with one arm. After a moment she retracted it, holding a pair of scuffed ice skates.
“Ta-dah!” she said, holding them up high.
She sat down on the edge of the pond and put the skates on, Tangly standing by and staring. Once she started gliding around the pond’s surface, the look of confusion in its eyes turned to joy and it joined Lydia on the ice.
They skated in the snow the entire day. Tangly was agile and graceful, its many limbs giving it fantastic balance. It spun around Lydia then curled its limbs around her and tossed her up high. She laughed as she twirled through the snow. Tangly caught her on the way down and put her back on the ice in one smooth movement, sending her sliding backwards. She skated back towards it and gave it a tight hug, still laughing.
“Excuse me,” said a new voice.
Lydia and Tangly stopped and turned. A man covered in various furs was standing by the edge of the pond, watching them.
“How much for the beast?”
Lydia frowned and stuck her chin out, “He’s not for sale!”
“I’ll give you twice what they’ll give you in town. 100 gold crowns.”
The man sized her up and asked, “Where’s your father?”
Lydia had skated to the edge of the pond and was now taking off her skates.
“I don’t have a father. I’m an orphan and this is my guardian monster so go away or it’ll eat you!”
“Girl, you better…” he cocked his head and grunted. “This isn’t over,” he said, and left.
A laughing couple came to the pond, carrying their own skates. They smiled and waved at Lydia, not noticing Tangly, its white fur a perfect camouflage against the snow.
Lydia and Tangly hurried away, leaving her skates behind. The sun was coming down and she had to be home before dark, or face her father’s wrath.
Once the house was in sight, Lydia turned to Tangly and said, “Wait until I’m inside then come under my window, I’ll let you back in.”
She hugged it tight and started towards the house, thinking of the lie she’d tell her father. She opted to tell him Tangly ran away and only received a spanking.
She walked into her room and closed the door, then opened the window. Tangly slipped inside, limb over limb. She hugged it and it hugged her back.
There was a loud knocking at the front door. Tangly disappeared under the bed in a flash. Lydia pressed her ear against the bedroom door, listening.
“I saw it come in through a window.” The man from the pond.
“That little… she’s in for it now.” Her father.
Loud footsteps heading towards the door. The clink of her father’s belt buckle. Lydia stepped away from the door and the back of her knees hit her bed.
The door slammed open and there stood the man from the pond and her father, looking furious. He had looped his belt in his hands.
“You worthless, lying runt! I’m going to make you regret lying to me!”
He took a step towards Lydia, raising the arm holding the belt. Two furry limbs whipped out from under the bed and took hold of Lydia’s ankles and pulled. She fell forward and another limb broke her fall, then pulled her back under the bed.
Lydia’s father screamed in rage and flipped the bed over. There was nothing under it.
Laughter echoed around an immense icy cave. Ghostly green and purple lights floated around near its roof, illuminating a girl spiraling on skates made of ice and her strange friend. There was distant, angry shouting, but they ignored it. They were safe for now, and happy.
|# ? Mar 29, 2015 06:19|
Estelle was flipping through some interstellar show-biz gossip on the ansible pad when her keep-safe bonged in a throat-clearing sort of way and began muttering “Life sign detected, human female, distance 29.8 meters and closing at slow walk, heading—“ Estelle cut the details off with a wave.
Disguise, she subvocalised and the cluttered room shimmered and transformed. The arched ceiling of the ship’s launch she’d commandeered off the Valse Triste, before its AI so regrettably lost its poo poo and plunged the ship into the sun, writhed. She tucked her pad behind her fat seat cushion as the roof sprouted bundles of dried herbs, animal bones and a dyspeptic-looking stuffed cat and the walls bulged, sagged, and turned brown.
Estelle could hear footsteps in the thick bracken outside. She smiled. gently caress the ethics board, lily-livered bastards. Those ground gobblers back at the Academy were going to see what real field work looked like when the rescue ship finally got here.
The thick hemp curtain twitched, then was pulled aside slowly by a female hand. A slender figure, shrouded in dark robes.
Estelle kicked in the subsonic generators with a subvoxed command, and waited for the barely audible whispers to start before she spoke, keeping her voice all harsh and scratchy for maximum crone-cred: “Whooo comes to this abode of mystery, wherein all questions are answered and all questions answered?”
The girl started at the voice, which echoed round the little hut as though in a much larger room, and Estelle gestured with a gaunt hand. “Sit, child. What do you seek?”
Hunching over and trembling, as though cold, the girl sunk into a crouch on the simulated mud floor. “I… there was a, a boy. We were close, and he … promised things to me. Told me things that weren’t true. He hurt me. Hurt me so badly. I want to make him pay.” This last was hissed out with enough asperity to make the fake candle on the fake skull on Estelle’s table kick in its ‘gutter/smoulder’ subroutine.
Estelle nodded gravely. “Men are animals, my dear. Filthy, rotten animals. I am sorry that you had to learn this the hard way. Use them, discard them, and forget them is the only way. And because they are stronger than we, it is permissible to help the process along a little. Sprinkle a few grains of this on your young man’s pillow, and he will lose all of his ability to hurt you, or your sisters, ever again. The process will not be painless.” Estelle allowed her lips to curl up, faintly, as she reached into the muzzle of her cornucopia and extracted a small vial.
Outside, the girl clutched the vial tight in her fist, and scurried through the bracken. When she was out of sight she flexed her neck just so, and shuddered as her body writhed itself back into a male shape. Breathing heavily, Marcus pulled out the tri-d recorder and hesitantly tapped the glowing button. “Ansible communication with Supreme Proctor of Disciplinary Faculty of Proxima Academy established,” it said. “Transmitting sense data recording.”
|# ? Mar 29, 2015 07:00|
I'm out. Entering with a toxx next time.
|# ? Mar 29, 2015 20:16|
Howling - 1163 words
The howling began after midnight, just when Holden had dealt me my worst hand of the night. It echoed through the cabin and vibrated up the heavy beams of the cabin’s spine. I returned the ace I had palmed to the deck. The game was certainly over.
Esther came in as pale as her frozen breath. She allowed her face to wear the fear I tried so hard to bury.
“It’s so soon,” Esther said. “We just fed it the last goat two days ago and the next shipment is still three days off.”
We didn’t need to be told. The next shipment was on all our minds every time we passed the empty meat locker. Two feedings in a week. When might it reach a feeding a day?
“I’ll check the locker. Maybe there’s something we missed,” Holden said. Every step he took made the ancient floorboards creak and I swear the howling answered each step.
“Don’t just stand there,” I said to Esther. “Help me check the locks.” We went to the cellar door. The chains were secure. I double-checked that the heavy wooden beam was in its berth.
“There’s nothing in the meat locker,” Holden said. He had sneaked up behind us. I was already on edge with adrenaline, but that put me over.
“I could’ve told you that,” I said, not afraid to let some steel slip into my voice. I saw the look Esther gave Holden. I hated her for it.
“I’ll radio for instructions,” Esther said before locking herself in the radio room. I wondered if she could even hear anything over the hungry howling. I heard scratching as it tested its claws. I tried not to think about those claws. Or the teeth. Or its eyes, those gaping pools of blackness that compelled men to their graves.
There was nothing to do while we waited for instructions but be cold. I made my rounds in the cabin. The generator ran smoothly. Fuel would hold out for now. The roof held despite the heavy snowfall. We were out of powdered milk and eggs, but we had enough canned goods to last until the next shipment. The only thing that worried me were the rows of empty meat hooks.
Esther emerged an hour later with orders. “We’re to hunt enough meat for a feeding.”
“There’s nothing out there in this weather,” I said.
“We don’t even have a gun,” Holden said.
“Those are our orders.”
“Maybe I can set some traps. Catch some rabbits or rodents,” I said.
“Will it be enough?” Holden asked. Nobody answered. It would have to be enough.
At that point I would’ve done anything to get away from the howling. Walking through the snow wasn’t easy. It took less than a minute for the cold to penetrate my boots and mittens. The wind carried a forlorn sound.
I had to take my mittens off to set the traps. The cold bit straight to the bone. My knots were clumsy and loose. I knew the futility of my actions as I spread some feed as bait. The sky and ground melded into the same gray color. I knew there was no way any animal would find these traps in the blinding snow.
I contemplated leaving. I could take my chances in the snow. Maybe I could find shelter before I froze to death. The wind shifted in that moment, carrying the creature’s howls. I knew there was no escape. There was no place where I would be safe. I turned back towards the cabin, a coward.
The thing howled through the night and sent chills through my already freezing bones. None of us slept. I heard Esther and Holden whisper in the dark. Whenever I paced by they grew quiet.
I sat at the table, still covered in the remains of the card game. I gathered the cards together and shuffled them. Then laid them out and shuffled again. I kept shuffling until I heard scratches at the door. It was hungry. It had never before waited this long to eat. The chains on the door rattled. Then two hard slams that shook the cabin and a scream that pierced my skull and threatened to pop my eardrums.
The door held for now, but for how long I couldn’t be sure.
At first light I dragged my boots and mittens on to check the traps. Empty. I trudged through the snow and tried not to think about the thing beneath me. I wasn’t sure how big the cellar truly was. I had never explored it, even during the safe times when the monster slept. For all I knew, the cellar stretched out beneath the whole world.
When I returned to the cabin, Esther and Holden were huddled around the heater whispering.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
Finally Esther spoke. “We received a call on the radio while you were out. There’s not going to be a shipment. Not for a while at least. The snow is simply too deep.”
I felt bile rise in my throat. “Don’t they know what we have to do out here?” All our eyes shot to the cellar door. Now the thumping had joined the howling as incessant. Chains rattled -- adding a percussive element to the shrieking.
“They told us a feeding must occur,” Holden said.
“With what? Traps were empty,” I said.
Neither of them could make eye contact with me. “Our orders are that one of us must make a sacrifice for the good of us all.”
“No. They can’t ask that of us.” I knew they could.
“We’re supposed to cast lots.” The door shuddered again and again with each impact. It wasn’t long now.
It was unthinkable, but we had to do something. I grabbed the deck of cards from the table. “Low card goes in.”
They both nodded. I shuffled the most careful, most deliberate, and most elaborate shuffle of my life. I placed the deck back onto the table.
Holden drew first: a jack. He sighed in relief. Odds were he was safe.
Esther drew a five. Her expression clouded over. Holden placed a comforting hand on her shoulder.
I put my hand over the deck and pretended to draw. I flipped over the ace I had palmed during my shuffle. Holden gasped and Esther sobbed. I knew they both hoped I would be the one to draw the low card.
I allowed them a moment to themselves. The howling had reached a fever pitch. It knew a feeding was close. I prayed for this all to be over quickly. I couldn’t stand another moment of the noise.
I unlocked the chains. It took our combined strength to lift the wooden beam and open the heavy door.
There were the eyes. Esther didn’t spare us a last look. Just stepped inside. We slammed the door behind her. There was howling. There were screams. And then there was silence, if only for now.
|# ? Mar 29, 2015 21:27|
Monster in your head 744 words
The eyeball flapped its vestigial legs in rhythmic distress while Johnnie examined the iris.
“It looks a little - worn,” Johnnie said. The eye squelched and wiggled its optic nerve, tickling Johnnies wrist.
“Only one previous owner, only used for a few weeks.” Mr Wong smiled in a way that he thought was reassuring. “And it’s semi-sent, only six thousand.”
“I could get a bespoke job for six thousand.”
“Not with these features, Sir! Infrared mode and zoom to up to 30 times - and being semi-sentient it can help you focus and track items of interest. It has a very high efficiency as well, it only needs 10 ml of nutrifeed -”
At the mention of nutrifeed the dingy back room was engulfed in chaotic noise. Disembodied limbs flailed against cage doors, uncased vocal chords screamed and strange mouths that had not been fully subsumed into other body parts chittered in expectation.
After they had got the hang of growing body parts on the back of mice the science people had realised - why cut them off the mice at all? Why not program the organism to be subsumed into the new limb or body part after a growing cycle?
Thus The Monsters had been born.
All the biggest celebrities had Monsters. Guitarists in bands had hand replacement Monsters with ten fingers and two thumbs. Sportsmen had Monster lungs that doubled their oxygen intake and businessmen had Monsters that fired out notes of everything they said, in triplicate (and secreted single malt scotch from the thumb).
Pornstars had Monsters you wouldn’t believe.
These people had chosen to have whole body parts removed, changed, enhanced. They said it was just like getting a tattoo, or a piercing. Some people had so many Monsters that they didn’t even have to think for themselves anymore. Johnnie squirmed at the thought.
“Does it hurt?”
“Yes, but it’s worth it. Tell you what, take the eyeball and i’ll give you an extra finger, on the house.”
“Just the eye, thanks.”
Johnnie walked through the city and marvelled at the colours and shapes that he had never imagined before. The world was a beautiful place, and he was one with it - up high a bird wheeled on the sky, he blinked and he could see the worm in its beak. Another blink and he could see the fine detail of a single feather.
A bump sent him tumbling to the ground, smacking his shoulder and bruising his hip.
"Hey man, watch where you're going!"
Hands pulled him up and Johnnie blinked rapidly to try focus on the face swimming in front of him, causing it to whirl through 20 different magnifications in quick succession.
He doubled over and vomited. The eye gave him a close up of the glistening chunks of half digested burger and he brought up the dregs.
"What the hell is wrong with you? You on drugs, boy?"
Johnnie clamped a hand over the Monster eye. An angry man with vomit on his shoes stood before him.
"I, uh, new Monster, you know, er," he took his hand away,
friend of the family
The world flashed above the man, beamed into his optic nerve.
Johnnie gasped and stumbled away.
Slut. Bitch. Dickhead. Spaz.
Neon words appeared above the people around him. The pink flashing human being was almost blinding.
"What the gently caress."
Johnnie stumbled through the city with his hand over the eye. Each time he took it away the hatred crashed down the optic and made him feel dizzy. At one point he could have sworn that he felt the eye's tiny little legs scrabbling about in his eye socket, trying to get out and attack the poor people around him.
He got home and tried to ignore the giant flashing yellow oval office in the mirror.
The next day he went straight back to the shop.
"Where the hell did you get this?" He screamed at the confused Mr Wong.
"No refunds," was the only answer he got.
He lasted a few more days before extracted the disgusting eye himself using a pair of pliers and some wire cutters. The optic nerve still bonded to his brain flailed and whipped around his eye socket while its missing eye furiously wiggled the pathetic little legs.
A tiny stamp on the underside of the Monster eye caught Johnnie's original eye. He giggled as the Monster smashed like a ripe tomato against his bedroom wall.
"Grown on 100% pure white mice - no mixed DNA guaranteed."
|# ? Mar 29, 2015 21:51|
The Cauldron. Google Docs Wordcount: 1,192
Thyrork fucked around with this message at 20:42 on Jan 2, 2016
|# ? Mar 29, 2015 22:46|
He heard the roar of the turbo boosters, and spun to see the predator rocketing towards him.
Even as he was cursing Kayla for the millionth time, some reflex swimming in deep seated memories kicked in and he dodged to the side.
Well, it was more of a fall, but the raptor still zoomed by him with a shriek of frustration. He took off, his top speed, which wasn’t much. Between that and the momentum of the raptor, he estimated he had another ten seconds of life left.
He hit a rock somewhere on the cracked road and went over again, and he could hear Kayla’s laughter. It was a peal that rang out against the still city like a bell in a church. He looked up in time to catch the raptor’s flawless loop. Perfect execution, he thought dismally. The thing was coming at him again, jaws opened wide, razor teeth bared. Was it smiling? These things always seemed happiest on the hunt.
He heard the song of the Caster and the beam lanced towards the raptor, catching it in midair. The raptor was sorting out, coming apart in parallel lines. Its dying growl was warped and harsh. The charred pieces fell to the ground in clumps. He could feel the heat through his clothes.
Kayla dropped in front of him, kicking up dust and dirt as she landed in a crouch. “Cooked raptor meat isn’t bad,” she said, standing up. “We need to get the jet slag away before it spoils the carcass.”
“Do it yourself,” he said silently. Like he could do that without getting his hands melted. Her face flaring up showed she had heard him anyway.
He didn’t care. He was festering. It was always the same, and he was tired of it. He usually held his tongue; Kayla could sort him just as easily as she sorted monsters. But it was sitting with him now, sitting with him the way particularly tough meat did. And as they were camping out on the 10th floor of the bank building (as high as they could go before he got winded), he could no longer stay silent.
“Why am I always bait?” he asked. “It’s not fair.”
“Because I’ve got the Caster,” she said,
“I could…” he began, but the expression on Kayla’s face told him he’d better change tactics. “I risk my life every time,” he said instead.
“No, you don’t,” Kayla said impatiently. “I’m a perfect shot. Besides, you need the exercise. That was pathetic out there.”
“No matter how much exercise I get, I’ll never be able to outrun a velociraptor with a jetpack,” he said. “If you had missed it would all have been over. Those things out there don’t mess around.”
“Eric,” Kayla said, staring at him. “I’m taking you with me, protecting you, feeding you. I can’t believe you’re complaining. Get some sleep. Count yourself lucky if I’m here when you wake up.”
So he laid down on the mat, and closed his eyes. But he did not sleep, not immediately. He instead returned to his existential crisis. He had been going through this ever since he had met Kayla. Before that he had just been running for his life. She had given him the time for it, the privilege of it.
He thought, I’m in an anime.
It was the only thing that made sense. Crazy monsters running around and some green haired chick with future tech. He was the useless protagonist, the narrative viewpoint but not a proactive character in any sense. Just an everyman in a world that had lost it.
He wondered how much the viewers were seeing. The whole raptor thing would make the cut, he imagined. It was characterization for both him and Kayla, him as baka and her as an Action Girl. Probably the conversation they had just had would also be broadcast. But were they watching him now? Probably not. There might be a few seconds of him lying there, eyes closed, but they wouldn’t hold on it, unless it was a really cheap animation.
If he was the protagonist, he asked himself, was he safe? Would there be resolution at the end? Where were they going? Wherever they were going, they had not reached it. They had still not finished their arc. What else would they see?
He dreamed of the fates, ugly old crones, weaving their tapestry. Writing his destiny in silk. As they twined they spoke in murmurs.
He woke up. He was covered in something. He couldn’t move.
His eyes flashed forward. He could make out a dim shape in the darkness. Wings. An angel, he thought. Then, no.
Even in the darkness he could see they were legs, eight of them, fine, jutting from its back. The thing was humanoid otherwise, as far as he could tell. It was crouching over a huddled form. Kayla, he realized.
It was laughing. A resonant laughter that seemed to hang in the still air of the office. It hocked, it cackled. It lunged without moving. If he wasn’t caught in the webs he would be paralysed anyway. An aggressively slow death, he thought. It’s taking its time.
He strained to look at Kayla’s body, the dying embers showing barely her limbs. They were pale in the firelight, like paper before anything was written down.
The thing laughed once more, louder this time, convulsing its abdomen. He could hear it spitting out with every premonitory movement.
She couldn’t move, he realized. The trigger-happy hunter bitch was gone. In her place there was prey.
The fire died with a feeble flicker.
But there was still light.
The Caster was glowing in the darkness next to Kayla. It was so far away. It wasn’t fair, he thought, to see its light, just enough to see Kayla die. The thing was staring at it, transfixed.
Please, he thought.
And the Caster flew. Impossible. It was humming, he could hear it, the sound vibrating off the air. It was a life giver. The air was moving.
It was floating above him now. He could feel its warmth through the webbing.
“Think,” he heard Kayla say.
The beam lanced out, bright and true, and the thing was distorting. A shift, he thought. The warp was vivid but all he could see clearly was the blood. It was warping too but the colour was distinct. Then the thing was gone.
The webbing was disintegrating now. The dessicated strands came apart easily when he pushed through them. Then he was up and moving over to Kayla. She was coughing hard.
“Are you okay?” he asked, hating himself.
“No,” Kayla said weakly. “Listen. The Caster is attuned to you now. It’s set to your waves. You need to keep moving.”
In the end he left her there, up where the cobwebs were turning into dust.
He thought about this during the descent, and when he escaped the tomb and stepped outside into the dead city he only wanted to leave as fast as possible.
|# ? Mar 29, 2015 22:59|
|# ? Feb 2, 2023 01:25|
Five hours left to get those stories in. I want my monsters!
|# ? Mar 29, 2015 22:59|