Thanks, all three of you, for the crits.
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 00:01|
|# ? Feb 5, 2023 14:57|
Thanks for the crits, guys. I gotta admit, I'm rather ashamed of the hackjob I did on my last couple of stories -- I need to stop going so high over the wordcount and waiting until the last few minutes of my lunch break to edit them down to manageable levels. Sometimes I cut off rather important bits that would make some of the more tonally dissonant scenes make sense in addition to the blatant proofreading errors (of which I am thankful nobody's hassled me over -- thanks!).
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 00:36|
Biographies were becum by your mum
your mum is a biographies
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 02:26|
Don't you dare talk about my mom like that
Biographies were becum by your mum
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 02:31|
Thanks for the crits, guys.
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 03:15|
I don't care if you idiots decide to write your story with some sort of gimmick but please make sure you're writing a story someone would actually want to read and not just a gimmick.
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 03:20|
I could write a story about penises would you like that Djeser?
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 03:22|
If I remember correctly, crabrock got an HM that one time by writing a story about his own penis. So there's precedent, is what I guess I'm trying to say
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 03:32|
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 03:33|
well she sure wasn't gonna go with the comics
Don't you dare talk about my mom like that
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 08:33|
Painting week crits part 3
Systran - Blocks.
Good prose, nice subtle use of voice- felt like a child but it wasn’t heavy handed. The idea was quite a small one but it created a bit of a world around it- felt like soylent green mixed with the tooth fairy.
The childish voice and subject matter also suited the painting.
Would this work if you hadn’t seen the artwork? Probably not. The prompts are not the illustrations for your story.
I think this is a story that needed to have a bit more tear jerking punch to work properly, and this didn’t quite have it for me. I thought this had lots of good qualities. I liked it more than the other judges.
Zeb - Underground Anomalies
This was “Then I woke up and it was all a dream” where nothing happened in the dream or after waking up from the dream. The idea of a cave with a normal window in it is cool, but you didn’t actually do anything with it. Also clunky and inaccurate prose in some places, such as "Dave sat at a piano, having just finished a wonderful Bach staccato." Staccato is an adjective, not a noun.
This fulfilled the flash rule, but I felt like there just wasn’t justification within the story for the shift from cave to drawing room. If it had linked back to the characters in some way there would have been more substance.
I feel like the premise of a window at the bottom of a cave was intriguing, but you still have to have something more than that. I would have liked you to cut out most of the first part and open with the cave and window.
I wondered why you asked for a flash rule, and also why you took the prompt so literally that you decided to basically describe the painting at the end. Just a window in a cave would have fulfilled both prompts completely, then you could have actually tried to build an interesting plot. The prompts aren't really designed to be constraints- more jumping off points. In the end you did something that was boring and didn't hang together at all.
Doctor Idle - 5 minutes of your time.
Main issue here is this is extremely telly. The most obvious example of this is the end - you tell us the moral of the story and what it’s about, instead of letting us work it out for ourselves. on top of this you say he is “changed” without ever showing us in what way he is changed.
I had a really hard time understanding the motivation of the protagonist. I didn't understand why he had to find the homeless man.
Also half your word count goes by before anything happens. As with the previous story you really need to work out where this one starts and write from there. I feel like the whole first half could be tightened up into one paragraph without losing any meaning.
Whole story is trying to smack us over the head with a moral- you need to communicate this with much stronger characterization, not by spelling it out.
I liked this the least of the judges, and had it barely scraping in above a DM. The others all had it lower middle of the pack. I owe you a line crit on this so I'll go into it more then.
Ancient Blades - Pulling Strings
I like the idea that seeing the way that the computer simulation reacts to situations gives him more self awareness, but I think it could have been pushed in that direction more, and the ending could have been a bit less extreme- like maybe the simulation helped him fix the problems in his life with his son and his boss.
The son stuff was a bit confusing at the start, though it did end up clearer.
some clunky writing eg “confiding to” or “Clark he had the sense that he was stuck in some sort of looping pattern.”
Overall I think this needs to be a bit tighter, and is let down by the quality of the writing. The ideas are there though. The ending suffered from the same problem as Doc Idle - very telly.
Scridiot - Sunset
Giving this an HM was one of the easier decisions we had to make in judging - all the judges liked it either a fair amount or a lot. I liked the quality of a lot of the writing, the pacing, and I get a decent sense of the character of the protagonist. I also like that this is a simple story well told- a man wrestling with his guilt over the death of someone close to him, and making his decision to live based on the stuff you lay out within the story itself.
The hurricane thing was a bit tacked on.
I think your use of the prompt was a bad concept that you managed to pull off. Every other time people just described the painting it went horribly wrong- however you did that and actually managed a lovely passage "Her long, black hair covered her slender form like a cloak, and my nerveless hands trembled as they stroked her back". You were flirting with disaster but because you executed your description well, and because you used it only as a single scene in an otherwise complete story, it worked.
Bompacho - She's My Mate
So this is admittedly successful as a tearjerker but that’s ALL IT IS. Dog meets soldier, they become friends, both of them die. I feel like it’s missing a scene where the dog saves his life or one of his friend’s lives or something. I do feel a bit more of a connection to it due to its ANZACness.
I liked this less than the other judges. It was well told, and it definitely elicited an emotional response in me, but I couldn't help feelin that it was missing conflict, which is ironic considering the setting.
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 11:24|
Here's as much of a linecrit of the excellently titled story by madpanda as I could stomach doing.
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 11:48|
I'm sorry you had to re-read that. I rarely read lines out loud, or did any kind of proof-reading. I didn't write for about 10 years, prior to that pile of poo poo, and wanted to see how bad my starting point was.
Reading, writing, and proof-reading others work is eye-opening.
The Fiction Writing OP is very helpful.
It now takes me 20 minutes to write, edit, and re-write a 5 line post but whatever.
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 16:04|
If I remember correctly, crabrock got an HM that one time by writing a story about his own penis. So there's precedent, is what I guess I'm trying to say
that's not fair. i wrote a story about my penis and people just thought it was weird.
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 16:50|
This is not the thread for excuses, this is the thread for doing better next time.
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 19:17|
Thanks for the crits, yes dudebros are garbage people, out for this week.
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 20:00|
Linecrit of another terribly titled story by a newbie. This one is by Comrade Question and is inexplicably titled A Bigger Splash by David Hockney which makes particularly little sense because this was the most tangential use of the prompt in the entire week.
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 20:52|
that's not fair. i wrote a story about my penis and people just thought it was weird.
The story was good. You just have a gross, weird dick.
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 22:05|
All right, now, never, etc. It's about time I joined in.
In for this week.
|# ? Apr 10, 2015 23:16|
that's not fair. i wrote a story about my penis and people just thought it was weird.
For it to work you also need to write with your penis.
|# ? Apr 11, 2015 04:25|
For it to work you also need to write with your penis.
2)who are you
3)are you "in"
4)you leave little Noah out of this pls
|# ? Apr 11, 2015 04:42|
Entries closed. Get writin', scrubs.
|# ? Apr 11, 2015 05:03|
I actually have three penis-centric HMS
the patriarchy, etc.
|# ? Apr 11, 2015 19:31|
Only one of those is literally about your penis (I hope to god)
|# ? Apr 11, 2015 20:10|
Only one of those is literally about your penis (I hope to god)
|# ? Apr 11, 2015 21:00|
140: Who do you think you are?
Word count: 1500 (right?)
If you were born before 1965 and you happened to visit a small bar in Greektown, you might have had the chance to meet Heron. Heron tended bar at what called itself Headley Brewery but what really amounted to a greasy pub with some ill-functioning brewing equipment out back, and if you bought him a shot and a beer near close, he might call you brother and ask if you'd heard of Charles Soubret.
He might laugh and say of course not, typical. Then if he liked you well enough and you weren't going anywhere, he'd tell you about him.
He'd tell you how Charles Soubret was born to the Director of Operations at a paper mill and an extremely mentally overqualified typist. How the two had met, no one could say, but meet they did and made a child. That child was passed over to his grandmother, the typist’s mother. She visited often, especially at first to feed him. He saw the Director of Operations maybe once every few months in his early childhood. The final time he visited, he gave Charles a telescope, and it was this that first set him on the path to be the first man in space.
Here, Heron might pause, and he might look you in the eye, and he might take a long sip of the beer you bought him.
Some Smart Alec might pipe up and mention Yuri Gagarin. And Heron would swivel his neck and afix his russet gaze on said Alec, and he would almost certainly say, "That Ruski pee-oh-ess, brother, was a fraud and a Commie government prostitute." And that would be the end of it if Alec left it alone, and if he didn't the brothers would turn to buddies would turn to non-c om shitbuckets and he'd find himself on the sidewalk with maybe a bruise or two. And Heron would amble back through the door, the metal grille banging behind him, and you'd buy him another beer and another shot and he'd harrumph onto his stool behind the bar and lament the respect of real American heroes, and/or America in general.
Soubret, he'd continue, had chops. He wasn't just a pretty face and a pilot's license. He wasn't likely to blow himself up in a plane like some dumb Russian. He was what the folks back home might call true blue. He joined the Air Force sometime in the middle of his high school career when his grandmother died, just went home after the funeral, packed a duffel, and shipped off to BMT.
To say his flight record was flawless didn't cut it. If he had been white, he would have been a decorated officer. But then, if he had been white, we'd be looking at his face in history where Neil Armstrong's is now. In the eyes of the Air Force, he was a good pilot, never reckless, but absolutely fearless nonetheless.
That's what got him into space, in the end. It was an experimental aircraft, just one tier from the Mercury missions, called Atlas. He was one of seven training for the Project Atlas, and far from the favorite, flight record be damned. Still, he was 1A, better than, and he had a body and brain made for space. Every test, every conditioning exercise, he was first in line and first in marks. And he was damned likeable. Air Force guys, Heron could tell you, were assholes. They'd try to push you around and they'd find your disadvantage and pick at it just to make you look weak. And Soubret was the only non-white guy in a group competing to be distinguished worldwide. In 1960.
He was so well liked by five of the six other men, they elected to step down from Project Atlas to give Soubret the chance to be the first man in space.
The sixth pilot, a Rear Admiral, wasn't such a fan. He was old money, and his father had been in the navy during the World Wars. He was, Heron would say, a self-entitled prick with a silver spoon up his rear end. He liked to call Soubret ‘boy’.
This was the man NASA ended up choosing for the first attempt at an orbit around the earth. Of course. And so the Admiral flashed his teeth to the audience at home with his hands crossed behind his uniformed back and told America he'd be going to space, and the day came and he strapped himself in and prepared for launch and promptly pissed himself at the idea of being crushed to death by an endless vacuum and called off the whole thing on pretense of a technical issue.
And so Soubret was bumped to the position, and his training mates patted him on the back and wished him luck, and he sent a letter to his mother saying he loved her and he knew why she had to give him away, and that he hoped and prayed she was proud of him, and he stepped into that cockpit and took off. The mission was an absolute success.
And not one member of the American public knew about it.
There were no television cameras for Soubret. His face wasn't on Time Magazine. There was no hometown celebration in his honor. When the Admiral dropped out, so did public interest, assisted pretty heavily by government intelligence. Atlas was marked as a "back to the drawing board" type failure, and any record of its success, including the remains of the Atlas aircraft, became property of Central Intelligence. An American wouldn't reach space until just after the Russians. And so the Cold War would drop into high gear, with public opinion strongly against the Russians.
Soubret didn't just sit and let it happen. He tried to fight, sent letters to newspapers and activist groups, tried to rally the other Atlas trainees; but they had all been sent to active duty, all five somewhere deep in a frozen wasteland. The letters he sent probably never reached them.
He never even tried the Admiral. It was pride, and he'd probably admit that, but he also knew he'd get a door in his face.
And here, Heron would get real low, because here’s where the astronaut first got acquainted with Heron's father.
The government had Soubret backed into a corner. There was just no proof of the mission any more. He had simply been in training, and everyone who knew about the real mission, had monitored the whole thing from ground control, seemed to have disappeared or forgotten it completely. And Soubret didn't even have the resources to find the names he needed. A few months after the mission, he was given an honorable discharge and a bag full of cash he found on his kitchen table coming home one night. All that remained was a memory that became a recurring dream as he slept, the feeling of his stomach slipping into his chest cavity, blood beating at his eardrums, the brightness of the Earth shining at him from one tiny porthole, and droplets of moisture, some sweat, some tears, hanging between his eyes and his view of the farthest from home anyone had ever been.
He became depressed, and he became manic, and he finally became schizoid, and that's when he met Dr. Lester P. Heron, psychiatrist. Doc was a consulting physician to the asylum in which a family friend of Soubret’s placed him.
Once, and only once, a young Heron came along with his father for one of these sessions. The asylum, Heron would say, gave him the jeepers. He'd avoid it if he could, but sometimes his mother wasn't home and he wasn't to be trusted in the house alone, wee hellion that he was. Sometimes he'd bring a yo-yo, and sometimes his father would make him read, but on this day for Soubret's session Doc made his son sit behind the desk in his office and listen.
Soubret entered, shoulders bunched on either side of his chest, eyes that had a habit of dropping to the floor, a soft but strong voice that sometimes trailed off into muttering. Immediately, he laid down on the long leather bench bisecting the room diagonally, and Doc sat next to his head in a wooden rocking chair. They counted breaths together, and Doc had him hum something, and Soubret's breaths became long and steady.
Heron would say that's how he heard this story, Soubret intoning it calmly, eyes closed, punctuated with a steady breath. He’d say his father had the military records to prove everything up to the training. He'd talk about how the image of the earth, lonely, heavy in the vacuum, haunted Soubret to insanity. How when this broken man described the sun peaking over the edge of the world, catching with golden fire the clouds marbling the sphere, he'd rub his thumb across a small metal placard, one with the NASA logo in the bottom right corner, a placard that said ATLAS.
|# ? Apr 12, 2015 05:39|
Sam was seven when he first heard the voice of God.
He was being bullied, as always, by Randall, the boy from down the block with a splotchy face. His parents saved money on haircuts by shaving his hair off themselves. He was a couple of years older and nature had thus given him strength over Sam, which he was using to force Sam’s head into the dirt.
“Eat your breakfast!” Randall was shouting. “Worms are protein food!”
As Sam was fighting desperately to breathe, Randall broke his hysterical laughter to say, in a strange tone, “teleport.”
The pressure was suddenly gone. Sam pushed himself to his feet. Randall was halfway down the street, looking confused.
Sam ran home. When his parents asked him why he wasn’t going to school he couldn’t explain. He didn’t act out much, though, so his mom called in sick for him. He went to his room and found the notebook that had been given to him on his birthday. It was a simple black thing, bound with staples.
He wrote on the first page, “magic.”
He was seventeen the next time he heard it. He could hear his parents fighting, about money or something. He had been in his room, listening to his music and trying to find some kind of equilibrium. But he poked his head out, drawn to the drama like a moth to flame. The way the eye is automatically drawn to movement.
His mom was crying, and his dad was lecturing her, harsh, terse statements about her spending. Mid harangue he noticed Sam peering in around the corner of the staircase. He stopped abruptly, and staring at him, eyes empty, said, “lootget.” He said this distinctly, and Sam heard it clearly, but his mother did not react in any way. The tears still flowed like syrup and her make up was ruined.
The next day, everything seemed to reset. The mood in the house was pleasant. He asked his dad about the money problems. What money problems, his dad said with a grin.
He went to his room and pulled out his notebook. “Capitalist,” he wrote.
The voice of God spoke again when he was twenty-nine.
He was sitting by himself in his flat, watching a children’s cartoon on his laptop. He had just finished another beer and added the empty can to his fort. It reminded him of Camelot, a bright castle where brave knights feasted and sang after battle. He was pondering designing an outer wall for added defense when the main character, a cute boy with messy hair, stared directly into the screen and said, “moodset.” The camera cut to his animal companion, who carried on the conversation, but nothing he said indicated he had registered the boy’s most recent action.
He felt the poison in his mind dissipate almost instantly. Hitting pause on the player, he applied to around thirty classified ads, mostly dealing with graphics design. He especially emphasized his abilities to shape interactive displays. “This is the present,” he wrote in one cover letter, “a give and take of attention and reward. Beauty exists for those who care to search for it.”
After he finished, he rooted around in his stuff until he found his notebook. In it, he wrote “euphoric.”
The voice of God did not return until he was seventy-three. Despite his age, he had managed to remain independent. Every morning, he went out walking; his area was not terribly affluent but thus far he had never been accosted. Instead he had been greeted with smiles that ranged from polite to sincerely cheerful.
So it had been fate that had found him, and not an assailant. He had slipped on what must have been an ice patch hidden under the snow, a dusting deep enough to conceal but not provide traction. The world violently swam and he found himself laying on his back. His walking stick, decorated with subtle patterns carved into the wood, lay out of his reach, and with shock he realized he could not feel his legs.
He was staring at the sky, the grim clouds creeping over the rose sunrise, when he became aware of a voice calling out. “Are you okay?” he heard, dimly. So far away, he thought, a second before he realized that his ears had begun to fail him only a year earlier.
A face filled his vision. It was a girl, the age he estimated at maybe sixteen. Her hair spilled out from under her wool cap in curls down to her shoulders and there was a glow to her cheeks from the chilled air. She looked terrified.
“I can’t move,” he told her, but the wind picking up seemed to carry his words away, someplace beyond where she could get to.
“It’s okay,” she said, a desperate quiver in her voice. “I’ll call for help.” She had pulled out what he recognized as a phone; phones had not abandoned their form in any extreme sense since he had stopped using them. He saw her face fall.
“It’s too cold,” she said. “The battery can’t take it. This—cureall—thing always lets me down, I don’t—,” then broke off. Dazedly, she said, “what was that?”
For a second he could hardly believe it. “You noticed?” he asked.
“Noticed myself say words I didn’t mean to say, in a weird tone of voice?” she asked. “Yeah. Am I crazy? What was that? Oh,” she said, her eyes widening. “That’s not important. I’ve got to go for help. Will you be okay by yourself?”
“I’m okay now,” he said, and before the girl’s eyes slowly, methodically stood up.
“Gosh!” the girl said, as he dusted snow off his coat. “I was so worried!”
“Just a bit shook up,” he said. “I've always been resilient.”
She insisted on walking him home. When they got to his door she looked at him skeptically. “Maybe you should see a doctor,” she said. “Maybe I should see one too.” He could sense where her thoughts were going, and quickly broke in.
“It’s not necessary for either of us,” he said. “Doctors are busy people. There are a lot of things people have that need fixing. It’s not right to take up their time without a reason.”
“I guess,” she said. “Anyway, my mom’ll throw a fit if I’m any later. She gets nervous when I stay out all night. It’s kind of suffocating, actually. Anyway, it was nice meeting you.”
She told him her name, which he would never really remember (was it Emily?). She gave him a cheerful wave and flew off, her body’s protest at having been forced to adopt the tempo of an almost-octogenarian for half an hour.
He found his notebook. It was pristine despite the years, because of how infrequently he wrote in it. With hands that were beginning to lose their strength, he flipped open the cover, looked at the first page. The holy text, or so he thought of it now. Apollo, he wrote. Hygieia. Panacea.
He fought against the home. His hearing left him completely, and his thoughts began to wander, so that he would forget what he was saying mid-sentence. But he could still communicate electronically, and would spend time carefully composing replies to those urging him into dependence. He kept routines. Exercise. Chores before things got too backed up. Cereal, sandwiches, mild cooking for meals.
When he woke up one day his bedroom door was gone. The sky blue walls, an impression of open spaces, fought against his growing sense of claustrophobia,
He grasped for his walking stick which lay propped, as always, against his bed. When he reached the space where the door had been he examined it carefully, tapping the cane against the wall experimentally.
He had a small window overlooking the street. He walked over to it. Break it, he thought. Climb out. He pictured himself smashing open the window with his stick and maneuvering outside. Sliding down the drainpipe.
He returned to his bed, sat down. Considered his situation. This took a while, things were slipping away from him. But as his eyes roved around the room distractedly they fell upon his notebook, lying on the small table next to his bed.
He reached for it with trembling hands. He opened it, stared at what he had written. A child’s playful scrawl. A teenager’s bold stroke. An adult’s efficient lines. Finally, marks that seemed faded, weak imprints on the page.
He turned to the second page. In large letters, he wrote, covering both sides, “I HEAR YOU WHEN YOU CHANGE THINGS.”
He held the open book up at a forty-five degree angle. He kept it there, not for an eternity, but long enough to make a distinct impression on the passage of time. Then he placed the notebook back on the bedside table.
When he looked up, his door was back. In the kitchen, he made toast, crisp, not too burnt.
|# ? Apr 12, 2015 18:55|
Why would you do that?
Wordcounter.net counts 1496 words
Google docs counts 1494
If you were shooting for a DQ you didn't do it very well.
|# ? Apr 12, 2015 19:27|
Biography of a Dragon. Google Docs. Wordcount: 1,498
Thyrork fucked around with this message at 20:43 on Jan 2, 2016
|# ? Apr 12, 2015 20:03|
Why would you do that?
i c/ped it from google docs and was editing it in post preview and tried to keep the count going, guess i messed up
e: i also didnt know going 1 word over was grounds for a dq, heh
take the moon fucked around with this message at 21:41 on Apr 12, 2015
|# ? Apr 12, 2015 21:28|
as judge let me say I literally care so little about minute word count differences that
|# ? Apr 12, 2015 22:05|
I'll be your guide
Thank you for visiting Schecter House on historic Temple Street, located right here in Graus Township.
My name is Anne, and I spell that with an E on the end. I say that now because you'll need to note that at the conclusion of our tour when you're filling out your comment cards, and by law I cannot repeat the spelling of my name again. I can tell you there are two other guides named Ann, but they do not spell their names the correct way, which, as I just said, you've now been told and won't be told again.
All of us here at Schecter House, under the lawful administration of Temple Street Historical Society, welcome you and hope you'll find your experience memorable. Before we get started, there are a couple of please and thank yous and three big no-nos that I am required, again by law, to go over.
It'll be painless, I promise!
So, as a courtesy to all of our guests, please refrain from eating, drinking, or excessive noise-making during your time here. If, for some reason, there are any cell phones, cameras (film or digital), portable AM/FM radios, two-way radios, two-way pagers, traditional pagers, listening devices, recording devices (audio or visual), remote controllers of any kind, personal data assistants (including Newtons), stenography machines, those things you put in your pants pocket to cheat at cards, tracking devices, transmitters, or anything electronic, battery-, or man-powered, including pacemakers, that you have not left at the coat check, please take this time to do so now.
We will wait.
Hey there. What's your name?
That's a pretty name. Do you spell it IE at the end?
You do? Great! You know, that's the proper way to spell it.
It is, it is.
It...is with a K, right?
Oh, good, good.
So, Katie, it gets a little boring waiting on some people, doesn't it?
It's a little inconsiderate when some people don't follow the rules the first time they hear them!
Why, I bet no one ever has to wait for you to --
Now, the three big no-nos you can see if you look up where I'm pointing.
They'll only stay lit for five...four...three...two...and done. Is everybody ready?
And right before we get going, I'll ask everyone to look down at your feet. Everyone see that big orange stripe?
Great. Just making sure no one here is color blind. The people who sold you your tickets should have asked, but mistakes do happen. As you've already heard, it's for the safety of all of our guests and for ours as well that we ask. This was all in the video, and I know you're all ready to get moving, but legally I am required to ask, and we don't want to start off on the wrong foot, now do we?
Now, if everyone is ready -- Katie, you ready? Of course you are, of course. All right.
As we begin, please don't forget to refrain from touching, pointing at, breathing heavily on, or looking at for more than 30 seconds at a time anything on the tour both for your well-being and mine. We here at Schecter House want you to enjoy your visit and be able to come back to see us!
It's true! Here we go.
Our first stop.
Did you forget what my voice sounded like? Or what sound even was or if it existed?
We get that a lot.
The complete and utter silence you've just experienced for the, oh, about 45 minutes by now, is due to the incredible noise-canceling acoustics of the main hallway, which stretches approximately the length of seven football fields and contains parts of which are still being mapped even as we speak.
I mean, even as I speak, because you all are still being good little shushy tushies, isn't that right, Katie?
Now, let's all turn to the right on the count of -- I'm just joshing with you!
Why, you are completely at ease to turn either to the right or left at any time during your visit at Schecter House, although you might find it a bit like inserting a freshly plucked hair back into the pore! Due to the unique construction of Schecter House, it's actually physically impossible to face any way but forward while inside its hallways, the only opportunities to do so being within its multitude of landings and further array of rooms, the number of which I am bound by the law set forth by Graus Township not to tell you.
Many liken the seemingly maze-like corridors to lava tubes, and I admit, the walls are scratchy! You have been such a polite group, and I appreciate you not asking how I got this scar that stretches very nearly the entire length of my body.
From neck to knees, as they say! Except practically all the left side -- Katie, eyes front -- of my body has been hideously scarred, including my face.
A wreck up from the neck up!
They say that too, outside. Not here though.
So, as we look to the right now and all appreciate the opportunity to do so we will observe the first stop on our journey: the foyer or, as the Schecters called it, the fourth room.
As an aside, the three rooms that preceded this room are not visible to to the public nor to any human eyes.
The foyer was decorated by Mr. Schecter who was himself an avid interior designer. However, we all know that the true finesse and the majority of the house's interiors are a la Mrs. Schecter, who oversaw the construction and outfitting of every room and passage in Schecter House, save for, of course, this one.
The fourth room.
There are two places in particular your eye will land, both by nature and by design.
Everyone who can, please face front again so we can continue our tour.
This particular hallway, as you can see, has been modified; Schecter House employees, including myself, have installed Lucite walls, 7/8 of inch thick, that follow the contours of the existing hall. This addition allows for audible sound but only from certain frequencies.
Keep walking, please.
As you also know, Mrs. Schecter was born in 1881 and was, by everyone's account, not a beauty. I am required by law to state this.
At the age of 16, Mrs. Schecter --
What...what was that?
Did someone say something?
I thought I heard someone say something. I thought I heard someone ask if Mrs. Schecter had a first name.
I thought that was odd, and that's why I stopped walking, and why we all stopped walking, because I thought I had already told everyone the rules.
I must have been mistaken.
Yes, I'm sure I was just imagining someone interrupting the tour.
Mrs. Schecter, at the age of 16, left her birthplace with her parents' blessing and traveled an entire three houses down and arrived here at this house on Temple Street.
Upon her arrival, Mrs. Schecter met Mr. Schecter, and the two were lawfully wed in accordance with the rules set forth by Graus Township. Soon after, Mrs. Schecter set about her wifely duties also in accordance with the law.
The first order of business was verification.
We can stop here.
As the law -- let's not stop here.
As you can see, the hallway is still lined by amazingly protective sheets of transparent plastic.
I understand if you feel weary or exhausted or as if you cannot go on and would rather sit down and die, but allow me to remind you that, legally, you are not allowed to stop at any time save for when instructed.
Yes, moving on.
Now we stop.
At this point in the tour, it is customary and mandatory that all males over the age of 13 come forward.
Now any women over the age of 16, come forward.
Katie? Oh, Katie...you...thank you, everyone.
That's it, then.
Well, on behalf of all of us here at Schecter House, thank you for your patronage.
Don't forget my name on your way out!
|# ? Apr 12, 2015 22:17|
(Word Count 1089)
Bogda thought in pictures. The twisted tree, the heaping bone mound, the brook with the red stones. She apprehended a sprawling landscape by way of mental images. So it was with all humans in the age before language.
At the start of her most fateful day, Bogda saw the elder lean against the twisted tree. He spewed antelope marrow, eased himself to the dirt and grew still. Upon seeing him, the others took aurochs bladders and made for the brook. Bogda followed. There amidst the red stones she filled an aurochs bladder, like the rest of her brethren. But something made her recoil. The notion of collecting water—her image of it—was polluted. A different vision forced its way into her mind. She imagined a bird perching beside the brook and drinking. Glug glug glug. She’d heard this sound countless times before but never truly listened to it.
Glug glug glug. When Bogda filled the aurochs bladder, she heard the same sound. She mimicked it, then put the bladder to her lips and drank. Suddenly, she pictured an infant opening its eyes.
Forgetting the elder’s plight, Bogda grinned and ran to a large woman close by. “Glugglugglug,” Bogda said. The woman furled her brow and crouched low. “Glugglugglug,” Bogda continued. The woman scooped sand and tossed it at Bogda’s mouth.
Unphased, Bogda spat and walked toward a nearby child. She held out the aurochs bladder. “Glugglugglug.” The boy frowned. “Glugglugglug.” Bogda repeated until the child glanced at the brook, then back at the bladder. He took the bladder, drank from it and said “Glugglugglug.”
Bogda smiled and turned toward her brethren, who were gathering around her. The large woman who had thrown sand at Bogda’s mouth, crouched down and lobbed some more. Bogda dodged the projectile, but others starting throwing sand also. Bogda ran to the other side of the brook and sat. The crowd left.
Bogda pictured a jackal, whimpering and sitting apart from the pack. She turned to the water and saw her image on its surface—skin like night when the stars forsake the sky and a mouth restless as the brook itself. “Glugglugglug,” she said to the image. Bogda's head hurt at the sight of her human mouth doing water things. She pictured the angry woman from earlier and tossed sand into the brook. Ripples pulled at the image.
When she rejoined the others, she saw the boy with whom she’d shared her image-noise. He ran to her and said, “Bzzz.”
The noise gave Bogda an image of flies feasting on something rotten, something dead. She looked to the twisted tree, but where the elder had been she saw only freshly disturbed earth. She repeated “Bzzz” to the boy and approached the others, who were huddled around the bone mound.
Some of the others stared at the bones. Still more of them hung their heads low. Bogda could not ignore the connection between her noise image and what she saw before her. “Bzzz” she said.
Hearing this, the large woman winced and covered her ears. She glared at Bogda beneath a furled brow. Then, she reached into the mound and extracted an antelope femur. The crowd watched, motionless, as the large woman charged at Bogda. In four brutal swings, she struck Bogda in the face.
Bogda reached for the bone but could not wrest it from her much larger adversary. Though she tried to dodge the blows, she was too slow. Struck once more, Bogda pictured a crocodile eating a gazelle. She knelt in acceptance of her fate, but then something curious happened. A noise-image crept into her mind. Unlike the others, it did not refer to anything Bogda could picture. Though incongruent with any real image, the noise corresponded to something else. It aligned itself with what was happening inside Bogda at that moment—with a feeling.
“N…nn…NA!” Bogda screamed. The large woman leapt backwards and crouched down. “NA!” said Bogda once again.
The large woman rose, her body tense in response to Bogda’s noise. She raised the bone and charged at her once again, but halted at a new sound.
“NA!” screamed the boy from earlier. The large woman pivoted and charged at the boy. When she reached him, she raised the bone above his head.
“NA!” said the crowd. Bogda’s eyes watered at the sound.
The crowd wrestled the large woman and used her antelope femur to beat her. The woman, now broken and bruised, hobbled away from the bone mound.
The boy ran to Bogda, aurochs bladder in hand. He raised it to her and smiled. “Glugglugglug.”
“So, wait…how does Bogda have a name without having grown up with a language?”
Dr. Rosenbaum chuckled. “I’m afraid you’ve caught the faculty on this one. Bogda doesn’t call herself anything. It’s a name we’ve given to her.”
Chad raised his hand from the back row. “Uhh, professor? How do you know so much about Bogda’s life? It’s not like there’s any written history from that time.”
The classroom filled with gasps.
“You’re an undergrad.”
“—I’m not sure who let you in here, but this lecture is for doctoral candidates only. I will see to it the Dean hears about this. Class dismissed.”
Dr. Rosenbaum collected his things and slipped out of the classroom. Erica, his graduate advisee, caught up to him.
“This is bad. I told you we weren’t going to be able to keep a lid on this.”
Dr. Rosenbaum walked out of the building and onto the quad. He cut through the grass on the way to his lab. “It doesn’t have to be bad. Temporal extraction is going to reserve places for m—for us in history books yet to be written. That goes for the anthro and physics departments both.”
Erica shook her head. “Morty, she’s not just the first person ever to speak. She’s also an ancestor to all of us. What are people going to do when they find out the matriarch of all modern humans is holed up in your lab?”
“Nothing," said the professor. "I mean, the fact that we’re all still here suggests that the physicists will find a way to send her back.”
Dr. Rosenbaum said nothing until he arrived at his destination.
“Meh,” he said, turning to Erica. “Best case scenario, they give me the Boas Award. Worst case, they arrest me. At this point, I guess I’ll have to take my chances.”
With that, Dr. Rosenbaum unlocked his laboratory door, where he would continue his research.
|# ? Apr 13, 2015 00:09|
New Year, new thread!
Killer-of-Lawyers fucked around with this message at 17:49 on Jan 4, 2016
|# ? Apr 13, 2015 00:35|
Better than you
Prompt: Fictional biography
There comes a time in one's life when he meets a person of quality, of dignity, of sheer brilliance -- a person of such great virtue that one cannot help but be transformed by the experience, inspired (or shamed) into being better.
This is that time. For you. Bask in my presence.
I am Naryidh Zainé, Icor Mal, lord of the Iczor. And I am better than you in every possible way.
Am I attractive? It is rare a man can be as beautiful as me and be real. Am I intelligent? I am the greatest genius creation has ever known. Am I humble? I am not, for humility is the refuge of the inferior.
There was once a time when I was a stupid child who made stupid mistakes. I believed in the essential goodness of man even when the world made it blindingly, glaringly obvious no such thing existed. I believed in hope. And I believed that power corrupts. I wasn't exactly wrong about that last part -- power only corrupts the weak.
I am not weak. I used to be.
I was born to a disgraced noble family on the waste-world of Alyadhe. My father was Hannikahl Zainé -- a simple, petty man. My mother was Ilreni Zainé -- I shall not refer to her further, as she had the poor grace to die in childbirth, leaving me to be cared for by my beast of a father and my older siblings.
I am of the Iczor, the proud children of the Prophet Icz, meaning I am blessed with beautiful dark skin with light eyes -- a breathtaking pale green, thank you -- and as a child I possessed dark hair that showed the first traces of graying in late adolescence before going a fetching salt-and-pepper in my late teens. We were considered visually striking by the lesser peoples, and though they were right to be impressed, we didn't let it go to our heads: one of the guiding principles of society is just how easily fools are swayed by mere appearance.
My Iczori blood also entailed a potential for precognition -- many suggested that it was some sort of supernatural ability, a strange sort of gypsy-magic. Certainly there were many Iczori soothsayers and tea leaf-readers plying about the old Holy Alexandrian Empire who so claimed. However, it is no more supernatural than breathing, and it is a good deal less voluntary. Iczori precognition is a rare talent, a subconscious understanding of the effects small changes have on the larger whole, the ability to see patterns and how best to alter them to one's advantage.
If my father had been a kinder or humbler man, I might have never stumbled upon mine. The talent would have remained hidden, and I would have lived a normal, uncomplicated existence, content with my lot.
So I suppose I should have thanked him when he announced that he was to buy a bride from the slave-market.
"For centuries the name Zainé was sung about the fires when our people were nomads," my father said, rising at the clamor of our protests. "We were a proud family, and the blood of the Prophet Icz sang loudly in our veins. But I broke that line when I took Ilreni as my wife. She was common, and the song of Icz went unheard in her heart -- her family did not have the gift.
"The Nhixhua merchant family has offered to purchase a child from my clan to bolster their own failing bloodline, to become true nobles. But," Hank's voice went stern, "they demand that I give them a child of noble blood -- a true Zainé. They promise to give me the funds to purchase a noble child from the slave-pens -- the Ihrung family recently fell to great debt, and they gave away their youngest to clear the debt. I will purchase her, and when she is of age we will produce a worthy heir."
I was shocked. Were we not worthy? Were we not loyal? And what sort of monster purchases a child? Behind the red haze I had an inkling, an itching at my spine.
A thought came. Unbidden.
Blue bottle. Under table. Give it to him.
Before I could stop, I found myself reaching for a blue bottle hidden beneath the little table at which we all sat. I didn't know it was there.
"My son," Hank said in astonishment as he greedily snatched the bottle from my hands, "you brought me makh? Ah, good, good! You support me then, yes? You, at least, see sense."
"Yes," I croaked, unsure of what I'd done. My eldest sister glared at me, I knew not why.
Hank offered none of the potent hallucinogenic liquor to us, taking a deep, thirsty swig. Makh was brewed from the venom of the dreamthorn, a scrub-bush common in the deserts near our city. It had to be carefully diluted, or it would cause beautiful, mind-expanding visions... followed by horrific death.
This batch was pure. The bottle dropped from his nerveless fingers and he fell back, moaning and cooing like an infant before seizing up in a horrible rictus, giving a choked gurgle, and falling dead, a bloody froth coating his lips.
"How did you know?" My sister screamed at me. "Naryidh, why did you do that?!"
"I don't know," I whispered, shaking. "What happened?"
She explained she'd known his plans for weeks, and had bribed a wine-merchant to sell her the purest, strongest makh he could brew. But she had lost her nerve, and planned to destroy the bottle -- she knew we would never be noble, but we would at least have been rich.
I had ruined that. I had ruined everything. With our father dead, our family was truly destitute.
And yet, I was satisfied.
"Yes," said a fat man in in rich white silks, "I'll take that one."
I'd spent a year in bondage, training to be a proper slave. For commoners -- such as I was -- murder was punished with death, but the Nhixhua were vengeful, and bribed the lawmaster to "lessen" my sentence. I was trained to be an ideal servant, to serve in all capacities.
Yes. Even that.
"He's a pretty one, isn't he?" The fat man grinned. "Oh yes, he'll be fine indeed. The Iczor Mal will find him delectable."
I froze in my pen. The Mal? The ruler of the Iczor people? My stomach twisted in knots at the thought -- concubines were usually disposed of the moment they lost their novelty, and were either executed for the crime of tempting the Mal from his duties, or were handed down from noble to noble and then executed.
I was led to the fat man's slave-drawn cart, and we sat in the enclosed space together, my limbs loosely bound with golden chains.
"You will be given to the Mal as a gift," the fat man said, his joviality gone. He shot me a glare that made me squirm on the uncomfortable wooden seat. "But you will not suffer the same fate as his other toys. Indeed, should you follow my instructions, you will not suffer at all."
There was little ceremony. I was washed and dressed in fine white silks and linens befitting a noble, and my arms and back were tattooed with crossed nettles to represent my status as property -- I maintain those tattoos to this day, to remind myself of where I'd come from.
I waited in the crowd as the Mal tiredly went through the routine of ruling in his outdoor court, and I idly picked at nearby bushes to amuse myself. He was old, but tough, well-muscled and fit for his age. The Mal was expected to protect himself, for he could trust none, not even his own bodyguards.
Indeed, there is a quirk in the language of the Iczor -- we call it "Liarstongue," for every word can potentially mean its opposite, and one must look very carefully to discern the true meaning of the speaker. The word "Mal," for example, means "winner," or "victor." But it also means its opposite -- "victim."
That evening I was led to the Mal's bedchambers. He stood there with a cup of well-diluted makh in his hand and a grin.
"Come, my pretty little boy," he purred, offering me the glass. I saw the telltale stains about his lip -- he'd already had quite a bit to drink, it seemed. But he was smart enough to drink no more. "Drink with me. Dream with me."
I stepped forward and pretended to drink from the proffered cup. He stumbled toward the bed, with me in tow. He gripped with strong hands, and his breath was sour with makh.
"And now, my pretty boy... now I-"
I jabbed him with the nettles I'd hidden in my clothes. The small amount of venom would have done little, but he'd already had too much to drink. The poison was enough.
"Say hello to my father," I murmured into his ear before pushing the quivering, frothing corpse to the floor.
Now I stand, ruler of my people. He who kills the Mal, becomes the Mal. Victor to victim, that is the way. I had my enemies put down -- and my allies as well, for friends are merely foes who have not yet revealed their hand.
UNFINISHED CUZ I SUCK
|# ? Apr 13, 2015 00:46|
I Really Don’t Know How To Lose
(last edited by ClaymationPlaystation on June 29, 2011, 3:56 PM)
Lt. Thomas Sandberg was a lieutenant for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, known primarily for his heroic acts as a member of the 9th Infantry Division, or “Old Reliables”. Born in Eureka, California on December 16, 1947 to Jewish-American parents, Sandberg began his college education at USC, but left the school in his sophomore year due to dissatisfaction with the growing anti-war movement and “hippie” subculture. After traveling to Fort Carson, Colorado to enlist in the 9th Division, Sandberg rose through the ranks of the U.S. Army until his deployment to the Khe Sanh valley in 1969. Among his Army Comrades, Sandberg was known as “The Killer Pack-Rat” due to his ability to create shelter, cooking implements, and makeshift weapons out of seemingly innocuous items. Upon returning to the United States in 1973, Sandberg received the Distinguished Service Cross for fighting off a band of Vietnamese guerrillas with a trap he had constructed with a hand-held lighter and a can of hairspray. When asked by a reporter what had kept him so fearless while in Vietnam, Sandberg responded, “I really don’t know how to lose,” which became his most famous catchphrase. Today, Sandberg resides in San Jose, overseeing The Sandberg Foundation, a non-profit designed to help disadvantaged youth.
(last edited by TallulahStankface on October 1, 2011, 7:07 PM)
Lt. Thomas Sandberg was a lieutenant for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, known primarily for his acts as a member of the 9th Infantry Division, or “The Flaming Assholes”. Born in Eureka, California on December 16, 1947 to a Jewish mother and a Canadian father, Sandberg began his college education at USC, but dropped out midway through his sophomore year due to concerns with failing grades. He eventually traveled south to San Francisco, and immersed himself in the Haight-Ashbury scene, becoming a follower of the teachings of Ram Dass. Sandberg joined the military in 1969 after his mother threatened to disown him, [verification needed] and was immediately shipped off to serve in Vietnam. While doing his tour of duty, he was under the threat of court martial several times for “non-standard practices”—practices that included trafficking psychedelics to villagers and firing bullets into the air during hallucinogenic episodes. Upon returning to the United States in 1973, Sandberg received the Distinguished Service Cross for fighting next to another soldier who held off a band of Vietnamese guerrillas with a trap he had constructed with a hand-held lighter and a can of hairspray. When asked by a reporter what had kept him so fearless while in Vietnam, Sandberg responded, “I really don’t know how to lose,” a catchphrase that football player Jim Marshall had coined during his tenure with the Cleveland Browns. Today, Sandberg resides in San Jose, overseeing his mansion and his collection of exotic cockatiels.
(last edited by ClaymationPlaystation on October 1, 2011, 7:37 PM)
Lt. Thomas Sandberg fought for the will of the American people during his tour of distinguished duty in Vietnam. He was known by many people[who?] as one of the most trustworthy comrades to ever set foot upon a battlefield. When he ended his tenure with the U.S. Army, he received the Distinguished Service Cross—the highest honor a member of the Army can receive, second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor—for his acts of valor and bravery during action. His signature catchphrase, “I really don’t know how to lose,” cemented him as one of the most iconic and charismatic figures of the Vietnam War era.[according to whom?] Sandberg was also rumored to be one of the inspirations for Sylvester Stallone’s character in the film Rambo: First Blood. Today, the name Sandberg is synonymous with courage and valor during times of distress, as well as larger-than-life social presence, [according to whom?] and all of Sandberg’s descendants work to keep the family name upheld, through their work promoting conservatism and morality in all of its many aspects, as well as combatting naysayers and liberal mudslingers that seek to stain the family name. [possible bias]
(last edited by TallulahStankface on October 1, 2011, 7:46 PM)
Lt. Thomas Sandberg is a notorious hoarder and ex-Vietnam veteran located in San Jose. After serving in the Vietnam War, Sandberg alienated his family with his erratic behavior until he was placed in a psychiatric hospital and his assets were transferred to his son, Thomas Sandberg Jr., who instituted The Sandberg Foundation, a non-profit designed to help disadvantaged youth. When Lt. Thomas Sandberg was released from his stay in the psych ward, he returned to his mansion in San Jose and immediately began to embody his borrowed catchphrase “I really don’t know how to lose” [need quotation to verify] by amassing a large quantity of personal items and Vietnam memorabilia within the walls of his home. Today, many visitors[not specific enough to verify] from as far as Phoenix, Arizona come to visit the infamous Sandberg House and gawk at the vast and rusted collection of trash and treasure spilling out through the doors and windows.
(last edited by ClaymationPlaystation on October 1, 2011, 7:58 PM)
Lt. Thomas Sandberg was known primarily for his famous aphorism, “I really don’t know how to lose,” a memorable axiom that lingered in American culture long after the end of the Vietnam War as an example of courage, charisma, and American perseverance. During the early 2010’s, Sandberg’s quote was bastardized as “I really don’t know how to lose my virginity” by the ever-present cadre of unwashed placenta-craving Earth Mothers that congregated on the USC campus, contaminating the collegiate atmosphere with their brazen disrespect for one of USC’s most distinguished alumni. Most of these sexually-frustrated youths would fumble blindly across the campus’s sexual landscape for years, before either discarding the previous phase of their political affiliation as a judgmentally-unsound fling, or bedding down with their wrinkle-dick pinko professors in a vain attempt to salvage decrepit fantasies of sixties liberation. Fortunately, their immature mistakes can be seen by future generations as laughable errors in morality, made by liberal lemmings hurling themselves off of the cliffs of self-righteousness. [possible bias]
(last edited by TallulahStankface on October 1, 2011, 8:06 PM)
Thomas “Tit-Mouse” Sandberg III[who?] is a student at the University of Southern California, known primarily for his unfortunate lack of shame, lack of self-awareness, and sexually stunted nature. Sandberg was born to liberal Jewish parents in Downtown San Francisco in the early 90’s, who decided against circumcising him, a decision that would pay cruel dividends years later when the other first-graders in his Hebrew school would laugh hysterically at his unflattering, unimpressive, ingrown toadstool penis. Distraught by the ridicule of his classmates, as well as confused by his own burgeoning sexuality while in the midst of the growing San Francisco gay and lesbian scene, he sought solace in the scarred arms of his “war-hero” grandfather, and spilled his insecurities to him over many late, unsupervised nights steeped in NyQuil-laced Manischewitz. This at-first-filial attraction to his grandfather led to not only his blind defense of his namesake’s accomplishments but also a (heavily denied) fetish for middle-aged men, [dubious—discuss] as evidenced by when Sandberg lost his handjob virginity at an Eiffel 65 concert in 2005, to an older gentleman of questionable intent. By the time his college education began at USC, Sandberg had metamorphosed into a queer-hating, Sun Tzu-thumping, Grand Old Party-Animal who immediately disgusted and amused members of the USC alike with his respective “kamikaze gadfly” approach to political discourse and his particular barely-concealed self-hating sexual proclivities. Campus co-eds who were momentarily blinded by his borrowed charm and “half-cocked peacock” nature (myself included) and sought to tame this mild beast, soon discovered his many personality flaws and shortcomings (one of which being the aforementioned ingrown toadstool penis) and immediately disentangled themselves from his web of dysfunctions in search of more experienced and principled pastures. Today, Sandberg resides in a semen-stained bicentennial quilt fort in his USC dorm room, frantically whacking his bag to daguerreotypes of Civil War Confederate soldiers, repeating “I really don’t know how to lose my blue balls” over and over, and dreaming of a better tomorrow, because he’s 0-for-about-four-thousand on todays. [possible bias]
(last edited by ClaymationPlaystation on October 1, 2011, 8:09 PM)
Christina Behrer[who?] is a whore, a whore, a whore, a whore whore whore whORE WHORE WHORE WHORE WHORE WHOER WHORE WHORE WHROE WHORE WHEOE WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORRRRRREEEEEEEEEEE
[Notice:Edit conflict]This Wikipedia entry has been locked until further notice.
|# ? Apr 13, 2015 01:30|
Kinnison James - 1494 words
I first met Kinnison James in a cave of wood and rust in Chicago back in ‘77. I’d call it a bar because it had a few chipped stools and served a dark brew you could run your car off, but there were no welcoming neon lights outside, no rows of bottles behind the counter. The door was propped open by the prone form of a man and I stepped over him not knowing if he was passed out or dead. It took my eyes a few moments to adjust to the flickering glow of lit trashcans. Dark forms dressed in rags huddled over mismatched glassware and looked at me with yellow eyes. Some lay on their backs gaping at the ceiling like goldfish, pipes in hand. Two that were still alert enough to notice eyed me up and down, licking and biting their lips like I was their next meal or lover.
“I’m looking for Kinnison James.”, I said.
No one heard. Trying to stop your piss and poo poo and tears from coming out all at once doesn’t lend itself to projecting your voice and my declaration was little more than a whisper. I cleared my throat and steeled my bowels and set myself to try again, but a big hand gripped my shoulder and pulled me backwards into a booth I hadn’t noticed.
“Now why would you be doing a dumb thing like that?” said Kinnison James in a subtle southern drawl as he sat down opposite me.
He was a tall man, broad-shouldered and wiry, his forearms corded with muscle. He also looked more out of place than I did in his white business shirt, black vest, pinstripe slacks and dress shoes. His dark arms and hands were covered in scars from the tips of his fingers to where his sleeves were rolled at his elbows. He had a shock of black hair and long sideburns and wore his grin like a mask.
“I’m writing a story.”
“Are you a reporter?”. He said it like he meant it, like a fourteen year-old kid in rags could really be a reporter.
“No,” I said. “But after this, I will be.”
Kinnison James was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1944. It was very hard to piece that together. He told me things like he was raised by circus bears, that they snatched him from the crowd when they bit through their chains and escaped and taught him the don’t-give-a-gently caress ways of the animals. His parents died when he was ten years old. Depending on when you asked either they died in a car accident or Kinnison killed them as fodder for his satanic rituals. He did a few years in ‘Nam and described his role as “professional truck sitter-inner”. He was dishonorably discharged for incapacitating several superior officers when they tried to raze down a village that had surrendered. The military would not disclose any information on this, but Kinnison’s eyes went dark and distant when he spoke about those times, and there was no humor in his voice.
“I want to tell the story right, because I know the rest of them won’t.” I said. “I saw you save that white couple. I know you’re a good man.”
He stared at me, deadpan.
“Kid, this was very poorly thought out and you could quite possibly be dumb as hell.” he said. “Out of curiosity, how did you find me here?”
“I asked some guys that run with Big Tim’s crew. They’re pretty mad about what you did to Derek. I guess Crackhead Sammy figured that out and sold you out.”
“Yeah, I figured that out. Never trust anyone called ‘Crackhead Sammy’, by the way.”
“What are you gonna do to him?” I said, pulling out a small notebook and a pencil sharpened to little more than a nub.
“You probably noticed him on your way in. He’s a doorstop now.”
I wrote vigorously.
“What are you going to do to Big Tim’s crew? They’re coming here tonight”.
He raised an eyebrow.
“Kid, that seems like a pretty appropriate conversation starter, real pertinent information.”
“How do you spell ‘pertinent’?” I said. “Also, what does it mean?”
“It means it’s very important to our current situation.” He said, standing up and moving besides me, hand held out for the notebook.
“Why? You’ll just take care of ‘em like you did the rest.”
“Huh,” He held on to the notebook a while before handing it back to me, the word corrected and the last few lines now decorated by a surprisingly good depiction of an enormous penis. “Guess I will.”
Kinnison James began his nomadic lifestyle after he came home from Vietnam. He was angry and he was poor and was surrounded by angry poor people doing the things that angry poor people will do. He didn’t mind the crime and violence so much, but he had returned home an apex predator and found himself disgusted at the idea of the weak praying on the weaker. He broke up a few muggings, stopped a few purses from being stolen. They even called him a vigilante for a while, in Little Rock and Memphis. But Kinnison was not a subtle man and a lot of the criminals he encountered ended up crippled or dead. Most of the good fighting men were off in the war then, so Kinnison was able to cut a swath through the petty underworld with relative ease. They tried to even up the odds against him with guns but the Vietnam veteran carried a .44 that he could draw in the blink of an eye, and he was a better shot than most. He never escalated the violence and fought fists with fists, weapons with weapons, guns with guns. He moved from place to place often, avoiding the issues that arise from your enemies knowing where you sleep. I called him a hero, and part of me still does. I thought he was Batman, and wanted to be his Robin. He told me I didn’t want to be anyone’s Robin, because Batman was definitely loving Robin.
“What about that one?” I said, pointing to a shady-looking kid on a street corner.
“That kid’s just selling pot. He’s not hurting anyone. You could have been that kid, if you had better business sense.” Said Kinnison James. I had been tailing him for two weeks at that point, longer than he ever stayed in one place. He liked hearing the things I wrote about him, I think. Liked having a friend. He had been in five more “disagreements” as he called them, since Big Tim’s crew. I had been there for each of them watching his chest heave with exertion as he stumbled across the bodies looking for goods.
We turned into an alley looking for the sort of customer that could use a good dose of Kinnison and a small army waited for us. We had been scouting the same streets for a few nights now. Stupid.
“Bigger Tim, I presume.” Kinnison said to what looked like the lead hooligan. No response. The men were carrying sticks and chains and black masks covered their faces. Kinnison mumbled while he counted.
“Nineteen.. Twenty.” He said. “Kid, there’s a pay phone at the street corner. Dial 9-1-1, tell them we’re going to need twenty ambulances for a group of armed males, all with moderate-to-severe cases of ‘hosed up’.”
I didn’t hesitate. I turned and I ran and I heard him say “Atta boy,” before the screaming of men and the sounds of breaking flesh filled the air. I got to the street corner and there was no phone there. I had known that. I stood there for a long time, shaking and reading over my little notebook. Eventually the man in me decided that I couldn’t end this story on “P.S. research selling pot for $$$” and followed my trail of piss back to the alley.
Kinnison James was there, holding his knees and leaning on a wall for support. Around him lay twenty bent, broken and bloodied forms. Kinnison was red all over and there were shivs and knives and what looked like the handle of a ninja sword sticking out of his back like the quills of a porcupine. I gaped in equal parts fear and awe.
“Hey,” he said, his voice a low rumble, eyes fixed the ground. “Don’t take this so seriously. Look around, it’s like one of your comic books. Batman, surrounded by twenty ‘ex-men’. Ha!”.
Kinnison James fell dead amongst his peers. He died unclaimed, John Doe number twenty-one.
I’ve spent years trying to finish-to start, this story, but Kinnison James was one name amongst many for this man, a mantle to be picked up by a much better and much worse man than I.
This is all there is, and I’m sorry for that.
|# ? Apr 13, 2015 01:48|
Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 19:15 on Dec 30, 2015
|# ? Apr 13, 2015 01:52|
Hello, I am dumb, so I will also be judging this week.
|# ? Apr 13, 2015 02:23|
|# ? Feb 5, 2023 14:57|
The Truth Above All
I met Louis LaCombe at the theosophical society in March 1924, on the narrow mezzanine that allowed access to the most esoteric texts. We were both studying the occult significance of the phases of the moon. He stared at a diagram in the volume I held and arched a bushy eyebrow above the rim of his tiny wire spectacles.
“You too seek answers in the lunar cycle?” he said in that emotionless voice, so deliberate and earnest that it was often mistaken for facetiousness. I was quite taken with his manner, finding the equal parts of intensity and naivete charming.
“One of Madame Blavatsky’s great failings was the lack of import she placed on their effect on psychology and spirituality,” I replied. “After all, was Atlantis not swallowed by the tides?”
I still cringe when I think of how seriously we took that gobbledygook.
It surprised me that he introduced himself first as a theosophist when he made his living flying airmail with the postal service. It was a dangerous job, and glamorous too, even before Lindbergh and Saint-Exupery. Louis didn’t care for fame, and it was only once we went into business together that he took part in aeronautical exhibitions, purely for the money.
He was a pilot and mechanic of rare talent. He flew the Truth Above All, a biplane in the style of the Great War that was slow, but safe and nimble, and emblazoned with the symbols of our society: the ankh, the hexagram, and the swastika. He obsessed over the weight of the thing, planing wood from the frame each time he convinced himself that it wouldn’t compromise the structural integrity. One time he stripped it entirely of canvas just to dope with a new compound. It only saved a couple of pounds of weight, but he insisted on the worth, despite the cost of the canvas, lacquer, and the income lost while he completed the work.
In the air I was co-pilot, and on terra firma in charge of administering to the money. I was better with the chequebooks than the map, but that suited Louis fine; he had issued me strict instructions to grow our savings at the expense of all else.
“Spare no privation,” he said, “while the others ballyhoo and carouse we will save our pennies for a greater cause.”
And so we did, billeting with the simplest farmers whose barns would fit our aircraft, while the other pilots at the exhibitions stayed with the best girls at the best hotels. Louis would tinker with the engine while I fell asleep among the bales of hay amid hopes he wouldn’t get too much grease on his waistcoat.
It was during one such reverie that he grabbed me by the shoulder and let in on me the reason for our thrift. He produced a lambskin-bound journal I had not seen before, and thumbed through to a diagram of the moon traced from the very book I had been holding when we first met. On it was superimposed a series of intricate calculations beyond my ken, along with a flamboyant corkscrew pattern at the end of which was a tiny but unmistakable sketch of the Truth Above All.
He squatted so that his face drew level with mine and watched my face while I took in his drawing.
“Do you understand?” he asked, his tone as flat as always.
I shook my head, my breathing growing heavy under the intensity of his gaze.
“Before I explain I must tell you that my motivations took seed from my experience of the Great War. What I saw in the trenches of Europe convinced me that never again can we allow men to be thrown into a meat grinder stalemate such as the western front. When, and I do mean when, war comes again there must be men who wield power overwhelming enough to adjudicate without bloodshed. It is Theosophists such as ourselves who will be those people.”
He raised his arm, hand open, to the tiny window near the top of the barn opposite the door. Through it shone a beam of cool light that gave our skin a dull sheen, like it was dusted in powdered magnesium.
“Behold our destination”
And I looked up his arm and saw the moon, suspended between his thumb and forefinger as though he could pluck it from the sky like a pearl from an oyster. Whether it was by a coincidence of perspective, an uncharacteristic piece of showmanship, or by fate, I knew then that I would help him achieve this task.
Through our own cash reserves and funding from wealthy members of the society we scraped together about half of what we needed by 1927. The problem was we needed an engine optimized for longevity and efficiency, where the current crop were built for breakneck crossings of the Atlantic like Lindbergh’s famous sprint of that year. This worked to our advantage as we found a small German automotive firm, that would later become Volkswagen, wanting to break into the market by making an engine for us at cost. I sent Louis off to Germany on a liner, while I stayed in New York to manage our business affairs.
He returned with an engine, but he seemed to be missing some of his prior self assurance. He threw out his old calculations, and worked feverishly on new ones in a tiny black notebook he kept with him at all times. He planed the frame nearly to matchsticks, expounded on unrelated German esoteria, and crossed basic necessities off the manifest with abandon. How he expected us to survive for two weeks on the moon on cabin bread alone I had no idea.
To take off we required not only perfect weather and a close moon, but also a beneficial reading of the theosophical systems we had developed. It took seven months, during which Louis and I grew increasingly distant. On April 4, 1929, we fueled and loaded the aircraft, attended a brief and sombre speaking engagement at the society, and started down the runway with just a dozen or so of our closest colleagues to wish us farewell.
The engine whimpered while a slow, lazy spiral took us higher, each loop a step on the long staircase to the moon. When the hangar of the airstrip below looked the size of olympus mons to terrestrial eyes, Louis turned to look over his shoulder at me.
“We’re too heavy.” his voice was perfectly clear as always, even with the noise of the engine and the rushing air. I shivered, our winter coats had been deemed too heavy.
“But your calculations. You were so sure,” I said. He didn’t seem to hear me.
“We are exactly two hundred and ninety two pounds too heavy.” He eased himself out of his seat slightly, produced his parachute from between his legs, and threw it off the side. “Two hundred and thirty eight.”
“We have to turn back.” I was growing agitated. The cramped rear seat felt like a coffin.
“Your parachute weighs fifty-four pounds. You weigh one hundred and fifty two pounds.”
I understood what he was asking from me.
“You can’t do this on your own,” I said.
“Your skills were necessary to get this far, but I can read my own maps from here. A luger pistol weighs two pounds. Once all three are overboard we will have made weight, albeit with no room for error.”
He drew the matte black pistol and pointed it towards me. I had no choice but to don my own parachute and jump. I free-fell for a while, my back to the ground, watching the Truth Above All get smaller. I pulled the ripcord and the parachute obscured my view. Still I heard his final words to me, as clear as ever.
“I apologize. Your companionship has proved more than satisfactory.”
# # #
Six weeks ago, days after the end of the second great European war, a photo of Louis in the wreckage of an experimental German fighter jet was plastered on the front page of the New York Times. Overnight he went from being a nearly forgotten bit player in the aeronautics craze of the Twenties to an infamous defector.
People have telephoned me to ask about the final days I knew him, and I have maintained that at the time he forced me from the plane he still believed he would land on lunar soil. Of course we know now that the idea was poppycock, but what happened to him, sans parachute and with a plane barely strong enough to land on earth, I cannot tell.
I do know that he was a man of good intentions and great force of will, but like many he was easily lead, and lived in a world he profoundly misunderstood. I still sometimes hear his voice when drifting off, as if through headphones, and I do not regret our time together for one second.
|# ? Apr 13, 2015 03:20|