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Thyrork
Apr 21, 2010

"COME PLAY MECHS M'LANCER."

Or at least use Retrograde Mini's to make cool mechs and fantasy stuff.

:awesomelon:


Slippery Tilde

Cheers for the Crit, Meeple.

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flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!







Entenzahn posted:

Attn wizard week toxxers: I promised you wizard week crits but since there's been a fuckton of them flying around already I'll instead give you the pick of any of your TD entries. Just let me know what you want critted. I'll probably start going through the list by Sunday so if I haven't heard from you till then you get your regular old wizard crit.

The list again: Broenheim, Wangless Wonder, ravenkult, newtestleper, Dr. Kloctopussy, Benny the Snake, skwidmonster, kurona_bright, curlingiron, Auraboks, Doctor Idle, Maugrim

Also thanks for the crits sh, crabman, beefman, hammerman, maugriman and tonicboy aka the half-a-dirty-dozen

i'd like this one to get a crit: https://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3398&title=Don%5C%27t+Want+It+Anymore

ty for that ent and also ty to meeple for the crit

TheGreekOwl
Mar 1, 2014

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Right, I've had some time to think over this, coming over from the fiction thread.

Put me in, I want to write.

POOL IS CLOSED
Jul 14, 2011

I'm just exploding with mackerel. This is the aji wo kutta of my discontent.


Pillbug

38.

Cpt. Mahatma Gandhi posted:

The Square Root of 13 (1293 words)

A wizard named numbers, wow. Despite the dull significant name, I am prepared to enjoy any story involving math. It's an underexploited area. I like Zahlen's murderous compulsion, but I wish less time had been spent mulling over number-related superstitions and more time had been spent actually using them. The detective doesn't have to overcome puzzling out Zahlen's code during the story, so explaining the significance killed any tension that might have developed between learning that the wizard killed an unknown number of people in a fit of pique and the actual confrontation. The fact that Zahlen is a spree killer (or maybe a serial killer, given that he's done this before) goes understated, and we're left with no real idea of why he has faced seemingly no consequences for his behavior. Nothing about the setting suggests that murder by wizardry is given more leeway than any other type of capital offense. The detective is saved by a back-up team just happening to arrive, when I think the elements to defeat Zahlen could have played into the detective's hands at any time (such as Zahlen's hilarious mathematical illiteracy).

39.

Benny Profane posted:

Mo Wizards Mo Problems
1244 Words

This submission felt mercifully light on exposition, but maybe that's just in comparison to the infodumps so far. You could have switched the positions of the first and second paragraphs and brought the reader into the scene more quickly. The image of bouncing around in a carriage has an immediate appeal--not because it sounds fun, but because it's easy to picture and packs a visceral punch. You handled artistic imagery pretty well throughout, though I got the sense you were getting fatigued near the end as descriptions became repetitive and some grammatical mistakes sneaked in. Thantifaxath sounds like another big fan of Lisa Frank, though. I was more entertained than put off by the D&D references, so good job.

40.

Killfast37 posted:

Perceive and Deceive 1211

The intro would have been more interesting if we knew that the protagonist was hiring a getaway driver from the beginning. It's also a bit odd that she would take a taxi instead of driving to/from the scene; there's something off-kilter about someone on a driving job not actually doing any driving. Why does the protagonist enchant the waitress in this scene? Is he demonstrating his skills to Red? How does his spell break during the heist? If walking off with all the money isn't enough to bother them, why are squealing tires? Was that because the protagonist's concentration broke? That could be made clearer--elements like this shouldn't be understated too far. You ended on the really interesting conflict of this story, which starts with the protag learning that Red has completely scammed him and he fell for an all too mundane seduction.

41.

Benny the Snake posted:

La Voz Silenciada
(1294 Words)


There was no lead-in justifying Juan murdering a guy in front of an entire crowd. His subsequent death isn't remotely sympathetic, even though you try to play it off as a tragedy. Pasting in someone else's lyrics in added nothing to the story and resulted in an awkward reading experience; describing the music itself, the tunes' rhythms and movements, would have required more musical knowledge but been more worthwhile. We don't submit stories with whole verses of Shakespearean sonnets pasted in because TD is about struggling with and mastering your own wordsmithing. Don't rely on someone else's writing as a crutch. You use "air of scumbag entitlement" twice, which just doesn't work. You also seem to get confused about what Juan's name is, because he becomes John on occasion as well. That's no good. If you don't care about the character, why should I?

42.

Djeser posted:

Sif the Strong
1294 words


Something about this didn't quite flow, though nothing was difficult to understand and I don't feel like I missed any information. The dual conflicts here were solid material: a daughter yearning for her father's acknowledgment and an attack from an enemy tribe. We get both of these back to back with very little time wasted, and the story ends with resolutions on both accounts. If anything, I think it was just the sentence structure that left me cold. Each idea felt disconnected from the next even though there was a logical chain of events on display. I feel a little weird asking for more connective tissue on a story's bones, but that's where I am with this piece. Everything else about this story had me prepared to love it. The style feels, I don't know, very laconic compared to what Sif must have been feeling.

Megazver
Jan 13, 2006


in

hotsoupdinner
Apr 12, 2007
eat up

Newbie crits part 1:

Noeland - Three Dimensions, More or Less

First two lines are great and then boom, clunky exposition. The entire piece reads like this. There will be a clever or cool line caught between two awkward ones.

It takes a long while to get into the story. This is something a lot of the first timers ran into. Lots of set up and backstory, then a paragraph of conflict at the end. With low word counts it really helps to establish conflict and character right away.

I'm not really sure what happens at the end. There's a lot of explanation of how dangerous a paper cut is, then the guy gets one, and it ends up benefitting him? I can't imagine that becoming a master of a certain kind of magic would bum any wizard out. Then I'm not sure what happens after.


Pham Nuwen - Chance Man

An interesting, fun concept that sometimes gets muddled in a lot of minutiae that doesn't matter.

Lots of good ideas, but they're explained in a dry manner which makes it harder for me to get in the character's head. Like when e cop's gun goes off. Does it bother him? I can't tell because I can't get a feel for him. Other than that it was a quick, fun read.


Claven666 - Lady Carbuncle

Some good turns of phrase that serve you well. Like the "take a nasty poo poo" line and the foreshadowing to the mayor's death. They feel authentic and leave me wanting more. I was prepared to hate the voice it was written in, but was pleasantly surprised with how easy it flowed.

Another late start story. Lots of backstory and then a flood of information at the end at felt rushed and had no impact.


AgentCooper - Tulpas for the One Percent

I don't really know what to say that hasn't been said. There really isn't any conflict or story here. Dialogue is expository and stiff. Creepy, and not in a good way.


Omi no Kami - The Nightly Portents

This story tries so hard to be clever. It uses "pshaw." I'm not sure what anyone is talking about or why I should care. The dialogue is used as a crutch instead of actually telling a story.

I do like the idea of a magical tv show and the lingo is actually close enough to feel authentic, but again I was given no reason to care.

angel opportunity
Sep 7, 2004

Total Eclipse of the Heart

It was really cool to see how many people gave nice crits this week...probably the best thing that could happen to help retain all the new people who joined for Wizard Week!

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010




angel opportunity posted:

It was really cool to see how many people gave nice crits this week...probably the best thing that could happen to help retain all the new people who joined for Wizard Week!

Yeah it's been great getting so many crits as a newbie. I don't think I'll be writing this week but might try a crit or two.

CrazySalamander
Nov 5, 2009


Hey Dr K I'm in for this week.

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

hotsoupdinner posted:

Newbie crits part 1:

Claven666 - Lady Carbuncle

Some good turns of phrase that serve you well. Like the "take a nasty poo poo" line and the foreshadowing to the mayor's death. They feel authentic and leave me wanting more. I was prepared to hate the voice it was written in, but was pleasantly surprised with how easy it flowed.

Another late start story. Lots of backstory and then a flood of information at the end at felt rushed and had no impact.


Thanks for the crit. I am beginning to see a pattern re: my weaknesses as a writer. :)

Benny the Snake
Apr 10, 2012

GUM CHEWING INTENSIFIES


Thanks for the crits, especially to SH, RedTonic, and Sebmojo.

Entenzahn posted:

Attn wizard week toxxers: I promised you wizard week crits but since there's been a fuckton of them flying around already I'll instead give you the pick of any of your TD entries. Just let me know what you want critted. I'll probably start going through the list by Sunday so if I haven't heard from you till then you get your regular old wizard crit.

The list again: Broenheim, Wangless Wonder, ravenkult, newtestleper, Dr. Kloctopussy, Benny the Snake, skwidmonster, kurona_bright, curlingiron, Auraboks, Doctor Idle, Maugrim

Also thanks for the crits sh, crabman, beefman, hammerman, maugriman and tonicboy aka the half-a-dirty-dozen
May I please have it for the only story I've won with so far? Thanks a bunch.

ravenkult
Feb 3, 2011




Entenzahn posted:

Attn wizard week toxxers: I promised you wizard week crits but since there's been a fuckton of them flying around already I'll instead give you the pick of any of your TD entries. Just let me know what you want critted. I'll probably start going through the list by Sunday so if I haven't heard from you till then you get your regular old wizard crit.

The list again: Broenheim, Wangless Wonder, ravenkult, newtestleper, Dr. Kloctopussy, Benny the Snake, skwidmonster, kurona_bright, curlingiron, Auraboks, Doctor Idle, Maugrim

Also thanks for the crits sh, crabman, beefman, hammerman, maugriman and tonicboy aka the half-a-dirty-dozen

I'm letting you off the hook on mine because it's terrible. Unless you want to crit this week's entry.

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013


Entenzahn posted:

Attn wizard week toxxers: I promised you wizard week crits but since there's been a fuckton of them flying around already I'll instead give you the pick of any of your TD entries. Just let me know what you want critted. I'll probably start going through the list by Sunday so if I haven't heard from you till then you get your regular old wizard crit.

The list again: Broenheim, Wangless Wonder, ravenkult, newtestleper, Dr. Kloctopussy, Benny the Snake, skwidmonster, kurona_bright, curlingiron, Auraboks, Doctor Idle, Maugrim

Also thanks for the crits sh, crabman, beefman, hammerman, maugriman and tonicboy aka the half-a-dirty-dozen

I'd like it if you could crit either week#134's Cranky Thievery or week#138's Lakeshore Lure. Lakeshore Lure would be cool, cause apparently I'm missing a judge crit on that one, but the choice is up to you.
Thanks for all this. :)

Mrenda
Mar 14, 2012



I'm in for smellweek.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


Entenzahn posted:

Attn wizard week toxxers: I promised you wizard week crits but since there's been a fuckton of them flying around already I'll instead give you the pick of any of your TD entries. Just let me know what you want critted. I'll probably start going through the list by Sunday so if I haven't heard from you till then you get your regular old wizard crit.

The list again: Broenheim, Wangless Wonder, ravenkult, newtestleper, Dr. Kloctopussy, Benny the Snake, skwidmonster, kurona_bright, curlingiron, Auraboks, Doctor Idle, Maugrim

Also thanks for the crits sh, crabman, beefman, hammerman, maugriman and tonicboy aka the half-a-dirty-dozen

I'd also prefer a critique of wizard week, since I might try to shop it at some point.

NewsGunkie
Jul 23, 2007
Sometimes, there's a clog in the pipelines.


I'm in.

wigglin
Dec 19, 2007



I'm in with a :toxx:

skwidmonster
Mar 31, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Entenzahn posted:

Attn wizard week toxxers: I promised you wizard week crits but since there's been a fuckton of them flying around already I'll instead give you the pick of any of your TD entries.

Can you be a peach and crit mine for this week?

Maugrim
Feb 16, 2011

I eat your face



Dr. Kloctopussy posted:

I'd also prefer a critique of wizard week, since I might try to shop it at some point.

I'm not Entenzahn, but I figure if you're gonna polish something for publication then the more eyes on it the better?

First things first you had an awesome prompt so I'm glad you used it to its potential!

Story points:

When the children start dying, you spend a lot of time describing them and their relationship to Tissai and the rest of the village. I like that you weave in (hah!) more details about the village life (e.g. going to market on Sundays) as well as building up relationships. However, amidst all this detail I was left wondering what they were dying of. Specifically, I want to know if they were all dying of the same illness, or of different causes. It feels like an important detail, somehow.

"A simple charm removed the great hearthstones" - Wait, so she can do other magic besides weaving? This seems like the only hint of it, and besides I can't picture it - do the hearthstones float up and out of the way or something...?

What did she string the bone loom with? Seems like a tiny missed opportunity for more macabre detail.

The survivors of the plague singing "ring around the rosie" is a nice little touch!

And finally - that ending. Hmm. I really expected the story to end with the end of the plague, and the shunning of Tissai - a sad, poignant moment, bittersweet, classic. I'm not completely sure about the plausibility of the breaking of the looms and her imprisonment, since pragmatic villagers might well argue that her little charms are still useful - but it does feel like human nature in a horrible way. And then, what I didn't like was the final instant of the story, when she suddenly turns evil. Even when the villagers have turned against her, it seems completely contrary to her character thus far and, to me, sours a lot of the empathy that you've spent so long building up. The story is still great, and a deserved winner, but I could have done without that final part.


Grammar points:

There is some slight oddness in your tenses - I don't know if it's a stylistic choice to use the simple past for both the story as a whole and the callbacks to earlier actions, but more typically you'd use the past perfect - e.g. "Last year, they proudly brought her their first squirrels" would generally be "they'd proudly brought".

How did Mr Miller know the charm was complete? It sounds like he arrived almost immediately afterwards. Coincidence?

When you say "Like for Like", it always catches me a bit that you capitalise the second "Like". I think it'd still read fine (perhaps better) if you didn't.

The past tense of drag is "dragged", not "drug".

Mrenda
Mar 14, 2012



A Funeral for a Dog, A Young Murderer, and The Aged Bad Boy of Directing
1152 Words

The garden was well lit, a sloped drive and a tricycle jammed under the bumper of a beat-up but relatively new Audi. She stepped over another toy and trod on a dog turd, managing not to slip. A man called from the door, “Don’t drag that dog poo poo in here! The house is cleaned.” Sharma was covered in dirt. “Take off your shoes, put them here. Jesus. You’re early.”

She was late.

“The interview was arranged for seven.”

She was already flustered.

“Then you’re late.”

“Sorry... Are you ready? I’ll have my recorder.”

“Great, come out the back.”

There was a muddle of aromas as she walked through the house. Musk, mud, and bleach from where the tiled floor was scrubbed to a shine. Something organic seeped through her sock when her foot pressed into the rug. Sharma brought the reporter to join another four people in the garden. His wife, twenty years his younger was there. Her eyes were glazed and red, smoke rising from the barbecue she stood over. A man with matted hair, a linen suit and a pockmarked face was building a pile of beer cans next to his deck chair. There was more dog poo poo out here and now both of the reporter’s socks were sodden.

Two men were chatting by a hole in the ground. One turned and raised a glass to the reporter knocking a bottle of wine into the hole. It sounded a heavy “clunk” against a rock. Sharma drove towards the man who had kicked the bottle and dropped in the gap in the earth.

“You’re knocking good wine into a grave I spent the whole day digging!”

He tipped the dregs of the bottle into the grave.

“Only the good die young.” His head was bowed. He laughed, little cheer in it.

“And some are just too fast for you.”

“My boot was fast enough. Poisonous little prick. Kid should be locked up.” His face had turned from dry laughter, to anger, and then sadness in a moment.

His wife came over to the hole with a plate of burgers. Everyone was standing by it now.

“I guess it’s time, honey.” She handed them the burgers. The reporter’s stomach growled at the sight of the greasy, red centred meat. She was vegetarian.

The man from the deck chair had filled some glasses with a thick, earth-brown liquor and passed them around. The reporter shuffled her recorder into her pocket and stood, stiff and awkward with a large glass of booze and a badly cooked burger in her hands.

“Pray, or think of Jesus or Buddha.” Sharma disappeared into the shed and re-emerged, cradling a lump covered in linen in his arms. His arms were held low, carrying a heavy weight. He stepped into the grave and lowered the lump of fresh, laundered towels to the ground.

“You loved burgers and cherry brandy more than me, my friend.”

Sharma’s wife helped him out of the hole and handed him one of the burgers. He tossed it in on top of the body. He looked at all that were gathered and drank deeply from the glass of thick liquor. Everyone else drank. So did the reporter, the liquid drained down her throat like a clotting blood syrup. Sharma’s wife took a bite from the burger, grease spilling down her chin and dropped what was left on top of the body. The reporter closed her eyes and added her burger to the grave.

“Good for you.” Sharma nodded to the reporter.

“I loved the way he’d frighten the poo poo out of drivers.”

They all laughed.

“He had a talent. Perfect timing and athleticism beyond his training.”

“I taught him to beg.”

“Maybe he was reincarnated in the kid. He can dodge cars as good as the dog.”

“That poo poo is five, or four or something. My dog was eight. How old are they when they start tormenting animals?”

A moment’s respect.

“Poe wouldn’t hurt anyone. He was scared of the squirrel out here. If he’d bitten that kid a few times instead of eating out of his ratty hands he’d still be alive.”

“He hurt a few cars. How many drivers tried to bill you for wing mirrors?”

“He had a hard head, just like me.”

“You’ve been known to poison yourself a few times too.”

“loving hell, Merv! Poe puked and shat his innards all over the house. Why the gently caress would you bring that up. He died. In pain.”

“Jem, he was just saying.” His wife held his arm.

“How many times did the cops try and make you pay for those mirrors?”

“They just wanted to say they called. No evidence, a dog running into a moving car? Nothing they can do.”

They listened to the wind rustling through the leaves. It was cold. Sharma turned to the reporter “How about a heartfelt introduction, A Man and his Dog, Taken From him in his Prime. ‘In Memory of Poe.’” His hands showing a big headline as he walked into the house. The reporter presumed to follow.

Her socks were soaked through. She thought of the scrubbed tiles and vomit soaked rug as she followed Sharma into the front room. Two leather chairs faced each other and the director was already sitting in one. The reporter was just pulling out her recorder when there was a tap on the window. She looked up and a policewoman was beckoning for them to come outside.

“Mr. Sharma…”The reporter thought of all the stories she had heard about the greatest documentary maker in America.

“JULES!” Sharma shouted before downing the rest of his beer and stuffing two unopened packs of cigarettes in his jacket pocket. He stood by the front door, gripping the latch until she came down the hall. Another knock, something solid, not a fist on the door.

“Call Watson and get him to sort my bail. We talked this afternoon.” He opened the front door. A policeman’s arm stretched inside and clutched onto his bicep.

“Hands out front or behind?” Sharma had his hands held out, wrists pressed together. The cop swung him around and pressed him to the wall. “Jermaine Sharma, you are under arrest for the assault…”

“See you tomorrow babe.”

“and attempted murder of a child. You have…”

“You’re making GBS threads me!”

The colour drained from Jules’ face. Sharma’s buddies made to intervene but a nightstick flashed in their direction kept them back. Three more officers stood in the driveway, a sergeant writing and two detectives, idling. A man wearing a white coverall was photographing Sharma’s car, hunkered down, flashgun firing repeatedly, with a measuring stick next to the tricycle under the Audi’s bumper. They hadn’t called the press. Anna Sofaer thought of her now brown and soaked through socks and the recorder in her hand.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!







Here's some crits for the people that asked (Entenzahn, newtestleper, Wangless Wonder) two weeks ago:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/11cHxiht6RTSYEDjodldTTQsOrdne9oVu9ns4QSHL9rE/edit?usp=sharing

Also, Wangless, I gave you an offer at the end of your crit. If you choose to accept it, I will do it for your next entry after this week since this came late and I don't expect you to change your story this week to fit my criteria. This will ONLY be applied for the next time you enter though, so if you gently caress it up, and will not offer it again. Make me proud.

Wangless Wonder
May 27, 2009


Broenheim posted:

Here's some crits for the people that asked (Entenzahn, newtestleper, Wangless Wonder) two weeks ago:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/11cHxiht6RTSYEDjodldTTQsOrdne9oVu9ns4QSHL9rE/edit?usp=sharing

Also, Wangless, I gave you an offer at the end of your crit. If you choose to accept it, I will do it for your next entry after this week since this came late and I don't expect you to change your story this week to fit my criteria. This will ONLY be applied for the next time you enter though, so if you gently caress it up, and will not offer it again. Make me proud.

ehehehe finally my master plan of waiting till the last day to write the thing comes into fruition. I accept. thank you for the effort.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!







Wangless Wonder posted:

ehehehe finally my master plan of waiting till the last day to write the thing comes into fruition. I accept. thank you for the effort.

alright if you're doing it for this week then i will give you a line crit if you succeed

Wangless Wonder
May 27, 2009


stopwatch - 1017 words



The stopwatch read point-oh-one as I wiped the drop of morning dew from its screen. Was it dew? Maybe it was sweat, I felt so stuffy in these work out clothes. It was good that I was sweating already, wasn’t it? Maybe I could skip the warm-up and just start jogging. Or, I could be dehydrated. The articles all said you had to keep hydrated. My lips did feel dry.

I turned and walked the couple of steps back home to pour myself a glass of water. I walked on tiptoes, something made difficult by the new running shoes. The people at the store had told me my feet were flat and overpronated and I bought the shoes they suggested even though they were stiff and dug painfully into my arches. She was sitting on the couch, but she always was. I listened for the crinkling of a plastic bag, the crunch of potato chips, the shrill yelling that meant she needed food or drink or my help turning over to avoid sores. I had read about a woman that sat on a couch so long that she fused to it. I wished that would happen here. Getting rid of a couch was easier than getting rid of a mother.

My chest heaved as I got back outside and I almost sat down to rest on the porch before remembering that physical exertion was the whole point of this. I made sure the shirt-under-the-shirt was tucked and that the shirt-over-the-shirt was untucked and hoped that together they could keep me from jiggling horrifically through the neighborhood. The stopwatch beeped as I started the timer, took a deep breath and set off at a brisk walk. Had to warm up. All the articles agreed on that.

It was one of those days that Bob Ross teaches people to paint in watercolor. The birds were singing happily as the newly-risen sun dried up yesterday’s puddles and this did nothing to distract me from the fact that I was dying. I walked like I had skis on and gulped big breaths of air and was sweating so much that whoever found me would have to peel the clothes off my bloated corpse like a band-aid. The stopwatch read three minutes.

A hollow opened in the pit of my stomach as I heard footsteps behind me. They were coming fast and made none of the scraping sound my feet did as I slid along like a slug. My heart beat faster, which was impressive considering the it had been making its best efforts to burst from my chest for the last three minutes. I held my breath and moved to the side of the road and looked down while I waited for the steps to pass.

“Sydney?”

I froze. His knees came all the way up to his chest as he ran in place besides me. He had a big smile on his face and breathed like his body was a carriage and his head was just along for the comfortable ride.

“Hi Brett,” I said, trying to calm my breathing. He was beautiful and I was a slug leaking fluids in a shirt that could have been a dress on a smaller girl. I bit my tongue until I tasted copper.

“Haven’t seen you since you left school. Thought you moved,” he said, still running in place. I sort of wobbled from side to side to keep pace.

“Yeah, my mo -- I’m freelancing. Finally making something of my art,” I said. Not a total lie. I had submitted several t-shirt slogans to a screen printing website that paid royalties.

“Cool. I didn’t know you ran. Can I tag along? Gets lonely out here by yourself.”

My lip twitched. It happened when I talked to people now. Not sure when it started, not sure if they noticed, but it felt like a corner of my mouth was doing all it could to make a break for it.

“I’m just finishing up, actually. Been at this for hours,” I said. I had been. I had made a dozen trips from the porch to the full-length mirror in my room, re-read the articles talking about how to check my stride and runner’s etiquette and avoiding shin splints. Sometimes on the way back up to my room I wouldn’t heed the creaking of the stairs, or I’d close the front door a little hard, or step on an empty can or bag on the floor. Each time I’d look over to where my mother sat, expecting -- hoping she’d turn around and see what I was wearing and guilt me into staying with her the same way she always would.

“Sounds like you’re done then. I’m here most days if you change your mind,” He turned with a wink and took off. “It was nice to see you again!”

He was already down the block and rounding the corner when he said it.

The stopwatch read just over five minutes. Warm-up was over.

I walked back home, not briskly.

The sweat and tears ran down my face in salty rivulets and I could not tell which was which. Maybe I wasn’t sweating. Maybe my body found new places to cry from. My mother would love seeing me come home like this. She would laugh and tell me about the things that aren’t for “women like us” and pat the couch next to her, all covered in trash and bits of food. I had done a lot of sitting on that couch. Maybe one day I’d sit down and never get up again. Just like that woman. Just like my mother.

My breathing had slowed down to normal as I reached the house, though I thought it never would. Paint fell off the wooden fence in chips as I ran my hands alongside it, and soon there was no more fence, just the neighbor’s open lawn and a street winding down into forever. I reset the stopwatch then started it from zero. I took a deep breath and ran down the street.

Warm-up time was over.

dmboogie
Oct 4, 2013



Rogue's Eyes
(1243 words)

The earliest thing Vi could remember was from when she was still a child, when the thick red cloth tied around her eyes was still strange and uncomfortable. She sat on the cold, stone benches of the church with the other initiates, and even though there were nearly fifty in the chamber, not a whisper could be heard as they listened.

"You will become tools to keep our holy city from harm." Their teacher said, his voice deep and commanding. "But know this: being a tool will not absolve you of your sins. You will be robbed of your sight not only as a means to strengthen you, but as a means to atone, as well. You will remove your blindfold only when you kill. You will commit every single detail of their face to memory, so you may never forget your crime."

-

Now, Vi uncomfortably shifted in her seat, the obscenely soft cushioning in the head priestess's chamber preventing her from comfortably sitting up at attention. "I'm sorry to say that one of your fine people has gone rogue, my dear." The priestess said, not sounding the least bit sorry. "Just up and left, taking a fair amount of guardsmen with him. I guess he finally got tired of the job." She paused, and even without sight, Vi could imagine the grin of one who believed themselves to be clever.

"You'll go along and send him a nice little retirement package, won't you, dear?" The priestess chucked throatily, and it was all Vi could do to stop herself from gagging at the stench of her sickly sweet perfume.

-

Vi had been lost in the maze for over a day now, with neither food nor water to sustain her. No matter how many hours she spent wandering the endless stone halls, she had come no closer to finding the exit. Preoccupied as she was with her own misfortune, Vi walked straight into another dead end, and fell to the floor with a curse.

Starving, dehydrated, and miserable, Vi remained on the ground, lacking the will and the strength to get back up. The words of her teacher came back to her. "You must learn this city's streets down to the smallest detail, every alleyway, every rooftop. Feeling the stone beneath your feet will guide you as surely as any map."

Remembering this, she slowly got back to her feet, returning to the junction from which she came. Though she had not noticed it before, the stone under her bare feet was different in one direction. The difference was subtle, but it was there. With new vigor, Vi pressed on.

-

She had been across this route hundreds, if not thousands of times. After slipping into an alley, Vi climbed up the side of the butcher's shop, her hands instinctively finding each familiar crack and protrusion as she made her way to the roof. Taking off at a run, she leapt to the next building, perfectly gauging the gap in-between. It was a thrill like no other to soar through the cool night's air, traveling on a road of her own.

-

The wooden staff slammed into Vi's stomach, and with a grunt of pain she fell to the ground, winded. "You must hone your hearing until you can hear my weapon as it swings through the air. In time, you will be able to gracefully dodge any blow." Her teacher said, his unseen presence looming above her. He offered Vi a hand, and she took it, pulling herself to her feet. "Again." Vi readied herself.

The bruises wouldn't even begin to fade for a week.

-

Metal ground on metal, and Vi stopped dead as she heard the sword being drawn out of its sheath. Her target had anticipated her route, and posted men along the rooftops. Clever. Vi easily sidestepped the blade as it swung down towards her. Her assailant's grunt of exertion was all she needed to aim a heavy kick at his stomach. He wheezed and his sword clattered on the ground.

Vi pressed her advantage, and with a swift chop to the neck the man collapsed on the roof with a heavy thud. Unconscious or not, he was down for the moment, and it was improper to kill one you weren't hunting. Vi continued across the rooftops.

-

In her later years of training, Vi took to sneaking out of her quarters at night. One night, out in the church's yard, Vi just happened to overhear a conversation between her teacher and the head priestess while she was crouching hidden in a nearby bush. She couldn't miss an opportunity to perhaps learn more about her enigmatic teacher. Even after all those years, Vi knew very little about the man who had so guided her development as an assassin.

"I do not understand, Sister. What threat does this man pose to our city?" Her teacher said, the first time Vi had ever heard him with even a hint of uncertainty in his voice.

"Why, you're asking the wrong question, my dear man!" The priestess laughed. "You should be asking what our beloved city can gain from his death! Oh, he's harmless, but think of the profits! That's just as good as protecting the city, isn't it?"

"As you say, Sister." Her teacher replied, but his voice was cold.

-

Vi reached her destination with no further incident, apart from a few more guards that now littered the rooftops, unconscious. She dropped down from the roof to a windowsill, which she found unlocked. Vi slipped inside the building, one hand on her dagger, but before she could proceed further the room she was stopped mid-step by a familiar voice. "Halt." Vi froze, unconsciously standing up straighter.

Her former teacher sighed. "I had hoped for more time, but- no, she would have spared no expense in tracking me down." Vi tensed as she heard a dagger being drawn, but he simply said "Do not worry. I will not fight you," and tossed it aside. "I used to believe, you know. I mourned each I killed, but it was for a purpose. Not to line the church's pockets." He spat.

Vi couldn't move or speak, torn between her duty and her loyalty to the man in front of her. He broke the silence for her. "Do what you came here to do, Vi." He said. "There is no longer any escape for me, and I would rather my death be at your hands than one of her honorless dogs."

For the first time in years, Vi removed her blindfold. In front of her stood a tall, stern man, gray-bearded and clad in a red cloak. He untied his own blindfold, and Vi gazed straight into his gray eyes. In them she saw anger, defiance, and perhaps a tinge of pride for what his training had wrought. "I'm sorry." Vi said. He remained silent, and after ensuring that she had memorized every feature, every emotion on his face, Vi plunged her dagger into his heart.

Vi remained until he was still. After one final look at her teacher's cold face, she re-tied the cloth around her eyes. She had much to contemplate.

-

"Do sit down, girl. You make me nervous, just standing there." The head priestess's laughter abruptly stopped when Vi threw her blindfold to the floor.

bigperm
Jul 10, 2001
some obscure reference

Final Luxury
1160 words

The Sun Nation wouldn’t let me fight Ahram, right away. Five blistering days, four grueling nights and three horses run dead into the ground got me here. I was drained of everything that sustained me. Cold sweat poured from me as I demanded my challenge. It was granted, but first I must rest. I was not thankful for this.

At first I thought they had marched me into a servant’s chamber but the Sun Nation had no servants. Only slaves. It was a small room with a rope bed piled with old blankets. They were worn and faded but they smelled clean. A tub was dragged in and little rag clothed slave boys fetched buckets of water to fill it. A little table was set next to the tub with bright white towels and a bar of soap. I could smell the heavy fragrance of the soap and my weariness multiplied.

The slaves had finished and left, closing the door behind them. I assumed it was locked or guarded on the the other side but didn’t care. I stripped down, leaving a pile of wet stinking leather and linen and stepped into the tub. It was too hot, it scorched my skin to redness instantly but once submerged it soaked into my muscles and eased pains I had been ignoring for months.

I was still in the tub, soaking, mind numb and nearly blank when the man came in. He was wearing a elegant robe of green and yellow folding in layers in from of him. I could only see half of his face due to a massive beard bushy and full extending to below his neck. Two guards adjoined him, hands on the pommels of their swords.

The man’s beard moved in what I assumed was a grin. “So good to see you taking advantage of our hospitality.” He spoke my language with a heavy accent.

I nodded at the flanking guards. “Are you afraid of a naked man?” Perhaps the man chuckled.

“You challenge Ahram, the blade of the Sun. Are you the blade of the farmers?” Farmers. That is what they called us. It was meant as an insult. Petty.

“Just a soldier”. I grabbed the soap and started to wash myself, ignoring him. It was musky and sharp and the dirt that had been ground into my skin scraped and dragged as I lathered myself.

The bearded man approached me. He kneeled down until we were on a level. “The Blood Court is being prepared. Six thousand Suns will watch you fight. Will this be a battle or a slaughter?” He appraised me. “Can you stand for a single second against the Blade of the Sun?”

I was hoping for a slaughter. I didn’t tell him though. Only stared back at him hard enough to stop his appraisal and meet my eyes. My bathwater had turned dark gray from the soap and the dirt. While our eyes were locked I flicked the water at his face. He blinked, shocked.

He took a moment and gained composure. He stood, grabbing a towel from my table and wiping his face. The guards moved in closer but he put a hand up to stop them. “You disrespect me with your foul water. No matter. Ahram will slay you in the morning in the light of the Sun.”

“That’s why I came.” I said. He left.

Finished with my bath I dried off and put on the robe laid out for me. I hadn’t been clean in months. I don’t think I had ever smelled this good in my life. I marveled at it. Instead of horse dung and wood smoke I only smelled the fragrance of the soap. It was a final luxury that I afforded myself.

There was a knock on the door. “Come in.” I said. A young woman wearing nicer rags than the other slaves I had seen walked in carrying a tray. The smell of the food hit me as soon as the door opened. The food of the Sun Nation was heavily spiced, smoky and rich. The girl was dark but a white smiled flashed as she set the tray on the table next to the bed.

“Food for you now, no food in the morning. Fight in the morning.”

“Thank you.”

She did not turn to leave but looked at me, struggling to think of the words she needed. “Tonight, you sleep alone?” She pointed at the bed and flashed those white teeth in a smile.

“Yes, alone. Thank you.” She pouted a little, but left.

There were three bowls of the stew that the Sun nation ate almost exclusively. Chunks of meat surrounded by a chunky gravy. A brown one, a green one and a red one. I didn’t eat any of them. I was hungry though and ate some of the flat bread stacked on the side of the tray. Some bread and some water. That was all I needed. Clean and full I laid down on the bed and closed my eyes. Sleep came quickly.
***

The circle arena of the Blood Court was packed with people even while the morning air was still cool. They did not jeer or boo my as I made my way out onto the sand floor. They cheered. They cheered for my death. I smiled and waved. I was giddy at the thought of ending my pain and grief. Finally.

The cheers died and silence fell on the Blood Court. Ahram was making his way to the center. He was thin but muscular. He didn’t have a hair on his head and it was hard to tell how old he was. Maybe 30, not young or old. He wore a red robe with no sleeves and a leather belt with a scabbard hanging on it. His bare arms showed scars that seemed to sit on top of the lines of his muscles. The silence continued as he approached me.

“They will not cheer for me until I draw my sword.” He said, his face serious. He didn’t have nearly as much of an accent as the bearded man had. “It is a respect they pay me.”

I didn’t understand why he had told me that and stood silently.

“Why do you come here to challenge me?” He asked, his face still hard. It was a question to big to answer, and I could have lied easily. I could have said that I came for justice. Justice for a wife and children slain in their homes. Justice for a brother lost in battle. Justice for a King and Queen murdered. For the war that wrecked all that I knew and loved. I did not come for justice. I did not come for peace. Those were not options and neither would end my grief. I came to end my grief.

“I come for oblivion.” I said at last. He nodded and drew his sword. The crowd erupted.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo


Lilium
1178 words

She lived in the garden. She would die, she was told, in the garden.

She was told this by the monitor. A small screen on which blinking green text would appear, answering her questions. She was a tender, it said, and she lived to grow the flora.

One day she had asked the monitor. Will I die here? The word “yes” had appeared on the screen, blip by blip. She had punched it, as hard as she could, and she had hurt her hand. She had looked around the garden for anything she might use to break it. She could not find anything. Flowers were not effective weapons. Angry, she had looked back at the monitor.

I’m sorry, read the monitor.

Had she been born here? She had no idea. She had no memories of anything else. But, and this was important, she knew, dimly at first, then more surely, that there was something else. The garden was not all there was.

“I don’t want to die here!” she had shouted. “It’s meaningless!”

After her death, the monitor had told her, she would be a seed.

Confused, she had left the monitor alone.

Later that day she became aware of the violet lily. Or at least, more aware of it. She had always known it was there; its hue was impossible to miss. But that day, the sweet scent began to overpower the mixed aromas of the other plants in the garden. It seemed to circle her, around and around, drawing ever closer, stronger and stronger, until she was breathing it in fully, and everything was foggy, all nice and floaty, and she drew near it, because she could tell it was the violet lily tucked away in the corner.

She began to tend to it more. She felt guilty, and she tried to tend to the other plants too, but when she was near the lily her confusion and sadness went away. The lily, she realized, was tending to her as much as she was tending to it, and when she fell asleep next to it she dreamt of her mother.

Her mother was lovely. Her skin was radiant and patterned with spirals, and her hair was braided and twisted down to her feet. In the dreams, they were not in the garden. Her feet squelched in the ground. It was warm, unlike the garden floor.

All around them were plants, but these were different. They were big. They grew high into a green sky and they looked thick. They must have taken forever to bloom, she thought.

“These are trees,” her mother told her one time. "They have been here for aeons. God was their tender and he grew them so that they could not be destroyed.”

“They’re pretty,” she said. “You’re pretty.”

“I know,” her mother said. “That’s why they watch the garden constantly. They like looking at me.”

Then she smiled at the dreamer, her face kissed by pale light. “Do you love me?” she asked, her voice as sweet as her scent.

“Yes.” Her answer seemed to echo through the forest, so that she could still hear it as the trees rustled their branches appreciatively.

“Then you must help me grow,” her mother said. “Spread my seeds all over the garden.”

When she woke up, the vines, which had hugged her as she slept, keeping her warm, lazily released her. She looked up at the lily. The flowers had all opened. Inside each was a handful of seeds.

She planted them all over the garden, mixing them with the other flowers.

The monitor noticed. What are you doing, it asked.

“I’m planting my mother’s seeds,” she told it.

Why, it said.

“What do you care?” she said. “You’re just a dumb computer.”

I’m not a computer. I’m like you. I’m alive.

“You’re nothing like me,” she said.

The lilies grew fast and tangled. As they grew the scent grew even stronger, until it was all she knew. The smell reminded her of the colour bugs that would sometimes crawl on the sky glass. She thought they would taste nice but she could never eat them because they were on the other side, and anyway they were so high up. But the smell was like a million colour bugs, and she thought, I don’t need them. All I need is my mother.

And her sleep became deeper, and longer, and her dreams were more vivid. Her mother was so pretty that she could not stand it. She would play in the deep trees, and whenever she fell the trees would catch her, and her mother would smile.

“When you leave,” her mother said, “you must carry my seeds with you. You must carry me so that I may cover the earth.”

“The earth?” she asked.

“Outside the garden,” her mother explained. “I can not stay here anymore. I must grow outside so that I may be seen by the whole world.”

“Can I come with you?” she asked.

“Yes,” her mother said. “I need you. But we must go now. They have decided that I am too beautiful. They are coming to tear out my roots.”

When she woke up she saw that her mother had grown over the monitor. The monitor men came then.

Her mother had covered the garden completely. The lilies were everywhere. The other plants had died, there was no space for them. But the lilies were so nice looking that she had not cared. They covered the sky glass but there was still light, so much light. They shone like suns. She had been bathing in their light, and her skin hummed.

“Burn it,” the monitor man said.

Then everything got really confusing for her floaty head. There were screams, and there was blood, splashing everywhere. The petals were soaked, so they were darker now, uglier. The light was stained red, and in the glow her mother was choking the monitor men and gashing them open with her thorns. She had not known her mother had thorns.

Finally she was alone with her mother. The scent was different now. It was sweeter than ever but now it was too sweet. It made her sick. They had left the door open, she saw, and she ran through it and into a tunnel. The tunnel was dark and dank, but as she ran she could smell less and less, so she kept running, all the way until the outside.

Outside there were trees, but they were metal. Metal trees that reached up into the sky, but they were limbless. And the sky was black smoke.

And there were people, all clustered around her. Staring at her. They were on their knees and clutching at their eyes. Tears were flowing out from between their fingers, to pool on the dirty ground beneath them.

She couldn’t understand why. Her hair was in her eyes and she pulled it away to get a better look. Then she realized that her hair had grown down to the ground, and her arm was patterned...

Blue Wher
Apr 27, 2010

The Smart Baseball Dargon Sez:

"Baseball is chaos!"

His bat is signed by Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski


The Deadly Curse of American Revolutionary Oliver Hammond
1240 words

The air was muggy as my fellow militiamen set up camp for the night. All I could smell was the lingering scent of smoke and gunpowder as I clutched my left hand, adorned in a bloodied tourniquet, tightly to my body, its throbbing pain pulsating with each beat of my heart. My left hand was now without its little finger, cut off by a redcoat's bayonet. I had my revenge, however, for he didn't know of my curse. I killed the Briton, and I fought on with the haunting knowledge that the man had left behind a successful business and a beautiful family.

My name is Oliver Hammond, and I have been bewitched since the dawn of America's revolution: my mere touch brings death, while I experience my victim's memories. It was a power I despised with all of my heart, for the very essence of war became a living hell, a power which my commanders found disgustingly useful.

“Hammond!” My name was barked from across the camp; I recognized the voice immediately as my superior, Captain Boyce. I swallowed my emotions and stood at attention as the larger man stomped over to me, the scattered foliage crunching underneath his feet as he neared. He did not look me in the eyes, and instead glared intensely at my hurt hand. “Good, they didn't take your whole hand off.” The Captain's voice was unfeeling as he ordered, “have Dr. Youngs look at it, and report back to me as soon as he is done.” “Yes sir,” I flatly replied, my voice void of the roiling emotions stirred up by the Captain's unusual orders. I approached the doctor as I kept asking myself what in heaven's name that domineer could want with an injured man!

“Good to see you walking, Oliver,” Dr. Youngs greeted me with an oddly cheerful voice.“You're always so damned happy, friend. Are you enjoying this?” I teased the man, one of my few confidants in the militia. Much to my surprise, the doctor actually laughed, and teased, “you caught me!”

“Now,” the old doctor continued, “let's take a look at this.” His gloved hands gently peeled away the tourniquet, and he quickly concluded, “you'll be fine. I can treat this.” I sighed, “I guess Boyce is going to get his way.” “Oh, and what's that supposed to mean?” The doctor inquired, his eyebrows raised. “He wants me to report to him after this,” I growled. “That's too bad,” the doctor sympathized, though he still seemed much too cheerful. The doctor then rummaged through supplies before finding a small flask of liquid; it reeked like pig poo poo. “This'll sting,” he warned, handing me a strip of leather to bite.

Just as Dr. Youngs had promised, the foul liquid stung like I had stuck my fist into a hornet's nest, and my teeth clamped down on the leather, its earthy taste filling my mouth as the doctor disinfected my wound before quickly bandaging my hand. The doctor was done with me, and quickly shooed me off, so I stepped away to find the captain.

“...he's a witch, I swear...”

I stopped in my tracks at those words. My eyes found a couple of soldiers taunting a rather crazed prisoner. I crept closer as I listened to them.

“This redcoat is nuts!” “I'm no' crazy! Tha' old man is a witch!” “Oh, shut up already!”

My hair stood on end as a small breeze passed me. It was easy to dismiss the prisoner's crazed words, but the ability to kill someone by touch was equally crazy, and yet I knew it to be all too true. I walked back to the triage area, intent on finding the only old man I had ever seen around here.

I skulked intently as I saw the elderly doctor working on a patient. However, retreated away from the camp as I approached. I growled as I sprinted after him. I could hear Captain Boyce's enraged voice calling out my name, but his shouting became distant as I followed the faint footsteps with what little sunlight remained this summer evening.

I stopped when I came to a clearing; there stood Dr. Youngs, his back away from me. There was suddenly a cold wind that whistled through dense foliage and chilled my veins, and my nostrils were filled with the rotten scent of decay.

“So, you finally found me.”

Gone was his usual humor, and in its stead was a cold, deadly voice.

“I suppose you heard that British fool's squawking about a witch. He's right, but no one except you will ever believe him, and you'll never tell anyone!”

Dr. Youngs turned to me now, though his face now looked older than any man could ever be; a twisted visage that struck terror within me. My heart pounded intensely as I shrieked with rage, "you're the one who did this to me! Why?!”

The doctor merely afforded me a sinister chuckle. “I suppose I can grant you one last request before I kill you.” Dr. Youngs walked towards me slowly, and I could see his eyes gleaming with sadistic intention. “I've been alive many centuries now, my magic unparalleled and unstoppable. Unfortunately, being alive so long can get very dull after some time, so I decided to entertain myself.”

He smiled a crooked grin as he continued, “I decided to start meddling in wars. Heroes and villains became influenced by my spells, giving them inhuman power. I shaped wars and experimented on men for fun.” The evil man lifted a gnarled finger and pointed it at me. “You, Oliver Hammond, American revolutionary, are one of my experiments. You had the power to sway battles by yourself, and I was going to enjoy watching the ensuing chaos and watching you suffer through the memories of each enemy you killed. Unfortunately, you've disappointed me,” the warlock sighed with resignation, “so I'll just have to find someone else!”

My bellow of rage was lost on the powerful wind as I rushed forward. The next thing I knew, I felt like I had been struck by lightning. I only felt searing pain as my nostrils were filled with the sickening stench of my own burnt flesh. Then, the man I had once respected towered over me. “This is what you get for defying my power, Oliver.” The witch stated without a shred of remorse as the wind dwindled, just as I was. “You will die here. Farewell.” The wizened man slowly started to walk away from me. As my time and my strength withered away, I pushed past pain and exhaustion to grab something out of my pocket. No one, not even the so called “Dr. Youngs” had known that I had kept my severed finger after the battle. With my remaining strength, I hurled the finger at the back of the wicked man's head. Almost instantly, the wretch shrieked, done in by his own spell. It was then that I saw the centuries flash before me, and I experienced many horrible wars before my fading consciousness returned to reality. I choked out a bitter laugh, and the taste of my own blood filled my mouth as my world faded to black. Although I was dying, I prided myself with the knowledge that my death wasn't in vain, for now the world was free from his spell. I breathed my final breath, joyful that I, too, was finally free.

TheGreekOwl
Mar 1, 2014

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Poison for the Mid Light
941 words
---

The streets lights around tire me as I walk beneath them, they strain my eyes. Small groans I hear as I reach my front door, hand’s too tired to rise. The sandwich, forgot about that. Soft and juicy only hours ago, now unpleasantly freezing to the tongue. Why didn't I eat it before.

I unlock the front door and take off my shoes. Only one pair of shoes, the sweat gets cold as I take them off, and down the steps to the basement I go. Wooden stairs are deceptively creaky, the darkness of the once working light bulbs rest my eyes, even just for a bit. If I could just throw up everything from my chest, out of my mind, to sleep without dreams, without worries. That would be just fine. Instead, I throw my sandwich on a bin, and a cold passes through me as I open the basement door.

Radio white noise kept going until the morning, I forgot about it. I hear that distortion, it reminds me of those walking blind, wrapped around the light of a lamb which they cannot see. Those around me basically.

Another breeze of cold passes through me, the doorknob’s pure metal. It was always colder on the inside. Lock the door of my basement and take off my clothes off anyways. The sweat for today made me a ruin of heaviness. It's still early in the morning and the money is enough to last me for the week. Threw my jacket off and a couple of fifties fell out. Parents rarely help out, only then do I thank them.

I head off to my bedroom to sit on my PC. Tongue rolls around, a water on the way washes off the distaste. Not that drunk, but not that sober either.

I reach my PC. Years build around windows, doors and walls. Its suffocating. Not just the toxic narcotics produced by fumes, no, the poison that's killing me is beyond simple neck pain. I wish I had a garden, just like years ago before society gave on me. I wish I was a tree, just so I can escape this choking. Away from dusty messed up rooms, from lonely occupied beds. As far away as a dream.

My head hurts from all the thinking. I smell the bile and decomposition on my carcass, too stammered to take a bath now. I turn on the monitor, and I contemplate on the thin reflection in the black plexiglas in front of me. I looked at disenfranchisement. Should shave too, been a month since that.

Hope without action is meaningless. It is a means of self deception for those that refuse the new reality. I don't lack action, but hope? I once planted hope within my heart. But I didn't do anything with it, I just waited. I’ve abandoned hope. Do other’s think better? I feel dirty and ashamed even thinking I ever did such a thing. I can hear the radio playing on my bathroom, a bathroom never cleane, talking about so called truths and celebrities, all the more decreasing in speed and volume.

I sit there motionless, and I begin type. Hand goes through the motions, soda can from the stand, fingers mash on chilly plastic and worn keys. Monitor’s open now, I can hear it. But I cannot stop thinking. The more I try to stop, the more I end up typing.

Distorted sounds I hear and blurry visions I peek. Through the garbage, I see Ads on the side, products on electric wavelength. The distaste of alcohol is out, replaced now. The soft wool blanket, its warmth enticed me only materialy. Why I am tired, what’s missing? I don’t miss the big moments, nor am I bothered by the big lies. The bigger they are the more easy it is for people to believe them, thus the easier for me to spot them. Radio went on, subversive messages all around. Do they bother me with their sweet-bitter sense of humor? No, what bothers me are the small moments, the small lies. The human moments, those bother me. Those are sucking the life and energy out of me. The fruit which I gain my energy is absent. Social interaction, it seems, was beyond me.

But I keep on thinking, but I still can't stop typing..

For a moment, I begin feeling alive and I take a big breath, soda cans is all I smell, a good smell, that of artificial energy. I jerk backward, I see a dusty dirty desk in need of cleaning. No, I can’t let myself dwell on such trivial matters, that can wait another year.

Absent is the presence of a good eye.
Absent is the presence of truth,
All is absent.

I cannot take this anymore. Finger’s slip on disgusting oily keys, another soda drink opens, I gulp it down. I can still hear that cacophony on the radio, it disturbs me, but I let them go mute, like white noise. I must fight and battle their lies, wherever they are.

I try to have a good eye and I am blinded by filth.
I try to say the truth... and I find myself alone.

Everything must go. Everything must fall. I will find the switch of this modern world. I will go far and I will break many walls.

But I will find the switch.

And I will turn it off.

I press enter, and a tiny smile touches my dry lips, as I look at the message that is my work

"Jet fuel can't melt steel beams kek”

The dream must go on.

TheGreekOwl fucked around with this message at 23:43 on May 3, 2015

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.






Valley of Death

Words: 981


The doors to the abandoned research facility protested with metallic screeching as Janice and her team of armed mercenaries pried them open with crow bars. A mangled body with deep gashes all over its exposed skin tumbled out through the opening.


One of the soldiers broke the silence with an involuntary dry heave.


“Where’s his face, man?” asked one of the grunts.


“We didn’t pay you so you can ask questions.” Janice flicked on her flashlight and cut into the darkness. “After you.”


The mercenaries hesitated, like a skydiver pausing to gather the courage to jump. Everyone took their turn to step over the body without disturbing it. Janice averted her eyes. Guess that explains why this facility went silent.


Light beams swept through dark halls. Every few paces glistened with splashes of viscera against the walls and floors. Janice watched the inquisitive grunt from earlier turn his head to look at her, the question plain on his face. What the hell did you get us into? Janice wished she knew.


It felt like it took days to finally reach their destination. The metal-fortified windows to the containment chamber have been blown completely out of its fixtures and are embedded into the opposite wall with a red, pulpy stain in the middle that reminds Janice of a bug splattering against a windshield.


She strides over to the console and presses a few buttons to no effect.


“I’ve seen way too many horror movies that start this way, Doc. I’m not too keen on ‘splitting up’,” said the same soldier from before. He can’t keep his fear from making his voice quiver.


“It’s a good thing I won’t ask you to. You’d probably be the first to die, I’m afraid,” Janice said with the practiced coolness of someone who’s waited their entire life to say that line. She reached into her backpack and pulled out a large battery with a USB cable coming out from it. “We’re professionals and this isn’t a horror movie. After I finish recording all the logs from this fiasco, we can leave and you can go change your tampon.”


A few of the other mercenaries snickered under their breath.


Janice opened a compartment full of wires and ports, then plugged the battery cable right in. A voice immediately spoke and startled the soldiers into pointing their weapons at the console.


“This is Dr. Tass, overseer of project Psionic Senses-”


“Come on, Doc,” said a mercenary.


Janice paused the recording at the interruption and turned to the soldier with irritation plain on her face.


“What if whatever killed all these scientists is still in the building? We’d be broadcasting our location to it.”


“Well,” Janice said, turning back to the console. “That’s why you have guns.” She started the recorder again.


“-our volunteer is Dr. Marshall. I will allow her to provide consent and explanation as to what we are doing.”


“I am Dr. Antoinette Marshall, volunteer to this project. Recently, a new element was discovered and through animal testing, we noted physiological mutations in laboratory mice that resulted in highly intelligent creatures able to manipulate their environment through a force of will.


“We will attempt to replicate the results in the mice by administering the element in an aerosol to a human subject and documenting the results.”


“Starting procedures,”
said Dr Tass, ”In three… two… one…” There’s an extended silence with a faint hiss in the audio background. Antoinette screamed as if she were tortured then a resounding boom distorted the audio with its volume.


”Antoinette!” Dr. Tass was panicked and pounding on the glass. He stuttered and paused, as if to compose himself, then rapid fires his description of the events. ”Subject is unresponsive. Levitating. Hair swimming around her head. Strange force crashed into the windows and-”


“Like, do you have any gum?”


Dr. Tass stuttered, “I-I’m sorry? Antoinette?”


“Gag me with a spoon!”
Another boom crackled through the speaker along with a human scream that was quickly silenced.


“Holy poo poo,” one of the soldiers said.


Janice nodded. “Yea, tell me about-”


The sound of machine gun fire got everyone’s head to snap in the same direction. Levitating with bullets suspended in the air inches from her face was Antoinette. She made no movement, but the soldier with the firing rifle exploded in a shower of viscera.


“Like, oh em gee, that was so loud, right?” Antoinette snapped her gum, blew out a bubble and released the bullets to clatter to the ground.


Everyone opened fire.


In a blind panic, Janice yanked her recording device out from the console and ran as fast as she could in the direction away from the dying soldiers.


It didn’t take long for the gunfire to stop. It took even less time for Antoinette to fly past him, her visage a long smear of color coming to stop in her way. There’s not a drop of blood on her.


He halted, out of breath, tears in her eyes and looked at Antoinette expected a sudden pain burst through her chest.


“Let’s go shopping. Can we, like, get some Starbucks? I haven’t had a decaf soy latte with an extra shot and cream in, like, forever, ya know?”


Janice blinked. She wet her lips and blinked again. “Uh… yes?”


Antoinette clasped her hands together like an excited little girl getting a pony for a birthday present. “This is gonna be super! We can paint our nails, go shopping forever, talk about boys, try on soooooo many clothes and brush each other’s hair! Oh my God, there’s this mall that has, like, everything a girl could ever want, ya know? Oh, and my daddy has, like, so much money so we can do this all day every day! We can color coordinate our clothes and our nails. Like, oh em gee, there's this cool nail salon I once drove by and they do the awesomest designs I have ever seen, they are like to die for. Where was I? Oh, I knew a hair girl who did the most amazing job layering my hair, it was totes mcgotes unbelievable!”


Janice pulled a pistol from its holster, pressed it to her temple and pulled the trigger.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!







My prompt: Old Demons of the First Class - We must have all the old demons of the first class, with tails, and the hobgoblins and imps; and then I think we ought not to leave out the death-horse, or the grave-pig, or even the church dwarf, although they do belong to the clergy, and are not reckoned among our people; but that is merely their office, they are nearly related to us, and visit us very frequently.

Word Count: 1250

Everyone Has Their Demons

http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3523&title=Everyone+Has+Their+Demons

flerp fucked around with this message at 02:58 on Jul 27, 2015

CrazySalamander
Nov 5, 2009


Backing out.

Ol Sweepy
Nov 28, 2005

Safety First



I was pretty liberal with the use of Rock and heavy. I'll let you decide if I hit it.

Baxter's Second Hand Books - W/C 1240

The glare of the sunrise reflected off the dusty glass door. Maybe today will be the day I clean it. Baxter thought to himself he struggled with key in his shaking old hands, finally, he got it. The deadbolt unlocked with a commanding clunk.

The bell above the door chimed cheerily, announcing his entrance, and for a moment the cool, morning air blew in disturbing the dust in the old bookstore. It danced on the breeze, only visible through the dirty, yellow sunbeams.

The redolence of paper and ink mixed in with musty, old pages of dated books hung stagnantly in the air. Baxter loved that smell. This was his home-away-from-home. Here he could get absorbed in nothing but books.

I’ll read them all one day he would always promise himself, as old as he was, he wasnt one to quit.

Grabbing a damp cloth, he wiped down the old leather chairs near the back of the of the store. He had 2 hours to kill before any customers would begin to turn up.

Baxter tapped out his old calabash pipe and packed some fresh Dunhill 965 into it. It was mellow and sweet tobacco to him. Most people hated it but he’d been smoking it since the war and refused to change or, at the vehement insistence of his son, stop smoking in the store.

The way Baxter saw it, he owned the shop, he’d do as he pleased. At the age of seventy he likely only had a few years left and he was going to enjoy them. Soon, a haze of tobacco smoke filled the little book store. He’d open a window before nine when the customers would start to trickle in so as to not bother any of them.

The bell above the door rang. Baxter leant to the side of the old leather chair looking down the row of shelves. Peering over the top of his reading glasses he saw Peter walking briskly through the shelves towards his fathers reading spot. He wore a crisp, grey suit, white shirt and a pale blue tie. He was on his way to work.

“Dad, how many times have I told you not to smoke in here? You’ll burn the place down one day. Not to mention the smell, how do you expect to sell anything when the place reeks of the Marlboro Man?” he said to his father in an exasperated tone.

“And how many times to I have to tell you Peter? I’m your father. You’ll respect me and not talk to me like I’m a child. I’ll do as I goddamn well please in my store.” Baxter replied as though he’d rehearsed this conversation a thousand times before. He took a long draw on his pipe and turned his attention back to the old, leather bound copy of Absolom Absolom. He’d been meaning to read the Faulkner classic for a while and wasn't interested in being interrupted.

“Great, I come by to say good morning and that’s how you talk to me.” said Peter petulantly.

“Don’t bullshit me son, it might have been raining yesterday but I didn't fall down with the last shower. Say what you actually came to say.” Baxter demanded.

Peter shifted uncomfortably for a moment then leaned forward over his father. His voice grew softer though no less disingenuous.

“Deb and I were talking. You’re not getting any younger and after that tumble to took down the stairs last month we think its time you went into a home. Besides, the business here isn't making that much money and you could finally rest and retire. I can turn it into something profitable. Like a juice bar or coffee house.” Peter said, attempting to sound amicable.

Baxter braced himself on the arms of the old, red, leather armchair and pushed himself up to meet his son face to face.

“Ha! Well you better break both my legs and drag me there. I didn't fight Nazi’s all over France to have my own son put me in an internment camp for incontinent old codgers. Just so he could steal my shop and turn it into some yuppie den.” he said, his face grew a little redder and he wagged a bony, wrinkled, finger in Peter’s face. “The day I die is they day you get this store and not a second sooner.”

“I didn't want to do this Dad.” Peter said then opened his briefcase and pulled out a manila folder flopping it on the little coffee table next to Baxter’s chair. “Those are power of attorney papers you and Mum signed 15 years ago. If you don’t have the capacity to make your own decisions I can do it for you, the doctor will be at the house at six o'clock tonight to assess you and see if you can continue to live on your own.”

“The apple didn't fall far from the tree.” Baxter said with a sigh. “You’re as tenacious and hot-headed as I was at your age. I suppose it’s the way I raised you. Teaching you not to take ‘no’ for an answer. I wish I hadn't made you so stubborn and uncompromising”

“I’ll call by next week after closing time.” Peter said shaking his head as he turned and left.

The jolly jingle of the doorbell didn't appropriately punctuate such a bitter departure.


***

Baxter stood in front of his old bookstore. It was late. He’d seen the doctor the other day.

Some young, overly friendly kid. Probably fresh out of university. He blathered off words like “diminishing capacity” and “sun-downing”. Words that Baxter didn't really care about.
He told Baxter he was too old and should be living in a home. However, the two words that hit hard were in the test results he’d received from his physical.

Inoperable tumor.

After the doctor left, Baxter cried for the first time since his wife had died.

Now he struggled with the keys, his old eyes strained to find the keyhole at night.

The bell above the door rang happily. Baxter reached up and unhooked it from the doorframe and turned the lights on . Grabbing a damp cloth he wiped down the dusty window.

The view of the streetlights outside became clearer through the fresh, clear streaks.

Sitting in the old leather chair at the back of the store, Baxter tapped out his pipe and filled it with some fresh tobacco. Soon the store was thick with smoke that would spin and swirl through the pale lamplight with each page turn. As he puffed away through the night Baxter barely shifted until he finished reading Absalom Absalom.

Deciding he would indulge in a, rare, second, smoke of the old Dunhill 965. He packed his calabash pipe and walked to the front door. Striking a match, he lit his pipe and as the tobacco embers began to glow with their slow burn, Baxter flicked the match into a small pile of papers on the counter, picked up his cheerful little bell, and headed off down the cobblestone sidewalk. Peter warned me I’d burn that place down Baxter thought, smiling to himself.

Behind the closed doors of the bookshop, the burning pages had begun to twist and twirl upwards to the ceiling as the lingering scent of musty books and tobacco was finally seceded by the fast burning, leather and paper.

ravenkult
Feb 3, 2011




*

ravenkult fucked around with this message at 19:24 on Oct 22, 2015

Megazver
Jan 13, 2006


O

950 words

Inna was about to come over for our weekly beer-and-gently caress and I felt faintly nauseous. It wasn’t the juju - sure, our town got infested by Romance Fairies last week, but they’d already buggered off back to whatever freakalicious dimension they came from, no harm done. Well, almost. But this was different. I had things to tell her and I was scared shitless.

The door rang. I took a deep breath and swung it open.

“Heya, fuckbuddy!” She grinned at me and I felt myself blush. It’s weird, what she did to me with just a smile. Perhaps it wasn’t worth risking what we already had for-

No. I pulled myself together and answered in my sternest voice:

“Heya yourself. I know your type. You’re just here to mooch on my sexy benefits.”

“Mooch and smooch, that’s me! My motives are nothing but ulterior!” She lifted an eight-pack of ever-cold ale. “But this booze says you’re letting me in anyway.”

I pretended to consider.

“Fine. But only if the booze vouches for you.”

***

We stripped to our underwear and cuddled on the old couch in the attic, the one that floats an inch above the ground. It was already warm from the sun that came through the window and the air in the attic was a bit stale, but coupled with the cold beer, there was nowhere I’d rather be. I sneaked a peek at Inna. She sat with her eyes closed and a bottle in her hand, clearly enjoying the warmth of the sun on her skin.

I wanted this moment to last a while longer, so instead of what I planned to say, I went with:

“How was the drive?”

“There’s still some of the pink fog drifting downtown and the lampposts are suspiciously glittery, but I drove here just fine.” She took a swig from the bottle; I admired the line of her neck. “Have you heard about Jones?”

“Monty Python, seemed to enjoy being nude for skits a bit too much, yeah?”

She snorted. “Our Jones, dummy. The Faeries… they got to him.” She dramatically wiggled her eyebrows. I obliged her by fake gasping. Satisfied, she continued:

“Few days ago he wakes up in the middle of the night, yeah? And his bedroom is full of the fog and smells like bubblegum and the Fairy is hanging from his lamp and it’s like: hey, bro, the cute intern next door totally wants your dick, bro. Your weird magic dick. And it giggles and disappears.”

I knew where this was going and I feigned surprise anyway. “Well, did she?”

“Like her pussy is on fire and his is the only hose in the town. I don’t think they actually got any sleep since then. And get this,” she leaned close and whispered, “courtesy of Fairy magic, his dick legit shoots white chocolate now.”

Her face was inches away from mine. I couldn’t resist kissing her. She kissed back for a bit, then pushed me away with a chuckle.

“Wait, not yet. The guy cums dessert, we’re nowhere near done gossiping about this! Even for our town this is weird, come on.”

I sat back, playing it cool. “Okay, yeah, I admit Jones is a grotesque freak of nature now. Or at least until it wears off. What about the intern?”

She giggled. “The Faeries paid her a visit as well. Told her about Jones, probably made her vagina vibrate or something. Jones hasn’t told me the filthy specifics but when I saw him he looked like he survived a gently caress tornado. The good kind.”

“I wasn’t aware there was any other kind. To them.” I toasted her. She toasted me back. We drank in companionable silence. After a while, a strange look came onto her face. In a softer voice, she asked:

“Anything interesting happen in your parts, then?”

This was it, then.

“Actually, yeah. Um.” I took a deep breath. “Check this out.”

I stood, pulled my shirt off, closed my eyes and focused on my belly button. It tingled. She gasped.

“Holy poo poo.”

“Yeah.”

“Holy poo poo, they gave you a… bellypussy.” She burst out into giggles. “loving Faeries.” She leaned over to examine it up close. “A nice, tight one, too. No beef curtains.” Her face was innocence itself. “Can I stick a finger in it?”

I gave her a look. “Let’s get real here. I’ve had this thing on me for days. There’s nothing you could do there that I-”

She licked her index finger and swiftly stuck it inside and I lost my train of thought. She cackled.

“Who likes getting fingered now, huh? I’m gonna have to thank the Faeries for all the fun-”

A realization come over her face.

“Wait. What did the Faeries tell you?”

I looked her in the eye. “They told me if I wanted a relationship I should tell you. And I do. ”

Smooth. My heart was beating hard. She silently stood up. I hyperventilated. Then she turned around, pulled off her white panties and wiggled her butt. Nothing happened at first. Then, flesh over her tailbone bulged, elongated, grew into a tail. No… into a dick. She sheepishly looked over her shoulder. I couldn’t hold it in:

“You gave me poo poo for a bellypussy, you rear end in a top hat, when you’re… a dickbutt!”

“I know.”

“A dickbutt!”

We stared at each other, then both burst out laughing.

“Romance Faeries are assholes.”

“Yeah.”

“Who do they think they are?”

“If I ever see them again I’ll give them what for.”

I took my girlfriend’s hand and kissed it. She smiled at me.

“Wanna see if we can double-dock if we do it doggie-style?”

***

We could.

It was rad.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004

What use was time to those who'd soon achieve Digital Immortality?


Freshly Split
1023 words

I see that bastard’s face every time I close my eyes, so I keep them open. I feel the stubble of his chin in the rough plastic handle of my hand-axe. There’s nothing I can do about that, because I left my gloves behind. There’s nothing I can do about his musk flooding out from within a damp log freshly split, or his voice rising sharply in the pop and crackle of the fire. Or the ghostly heat of his face next to mine as I drift off to sleep.

If I could I would block him out entirely, relegate him to the prison of unremembered dreams so that I might, for once, be alone when I’m alone. But my mind is a far softer tool than I require.

***

I awake to the sound of a twig snapping about fifteen yards away, and I know it must be him. It’s pitch black and my tent has never felt so empty. I can feel his weight bearing down on me with every crunching step across the icy ground. My flannel reeks of smoke and I silently curse myself for the campfire wisp that I allowed to betray me.

"Madeline." I say nothing. His gloved hands brush against the rain-repellant skin of my hiding place, clumsily prying for a zipper he surely can't see in the darkness. I’m sure he can hear me sliding out of my sleeping bag. "I know it's you." He finally locates the jangling tag and revs a tiny chainsaw to tear my foolish plans apart. I picture his face, bearded and pock-marked, calm and enraged with nothing in between.

I picture my axe, wedged uselessly in a stump back near the bare old oak. I'm burning up. The zipper stops. His hands come inside first and I kick between them as hard as I can. Something crunches under my heel and his blood gushes onto my skin. I try not to look. I try not to see. He's a dark huddled blob against the snow, receding as I leave it all behind and run into the trees.

I pray for my bare feet as I push off of ice-slick roots and moss patches that give beneath me. He came this way; I can still smell his sweat, the whiskey and gasoline riding it. It’s the smell of silent days, sleepless nights, and early-morning escapes downstairs to sit in the car and wonder if I could really do it. Two nights ago I learned that I could, and it was the greatest feeling in all the world.

Only now, with a frigid wind biting at my ears, I’m overfull on that freedom. Too bloated to run, and cramping. I skid off a cliff I didn’t see coming. It’s not far down but I land hard, bruise my hip and roll to a stop in a bush of frozen thorns. My iron maiden. I shudder and accept my punishment; at least I can catch my breath. But I can still hear him, thrashing through the trees, shouting what must be my name yet sounds like nothing more than a dying animal’s scream. I tear myself free, leaving my flannel in tatters before I walk out onto the frozen pond.

I slide slowly across the ice, building little rows of weightless white aside my numb feet. I expect the light cracking from beneath me, about halfway across when his roar cuts through the silence. The roar before he’s kicking in the door. The roar before he’s dragging me into the bathroom by my hair. The roar before he destroys my fragile attempts to make any of it bearable. I limp in a small circle and face him.

Moonlit, he's a shaggy beast breathing hungry clouds, waiting at the edge of the lake with my axe coiled in his hand. "Madeline. Come over here. I'll take you home." His words come from somewhere else. Someone named Patrick. The man trapped inside my husband. Only, not trapped, because the door is always open, and he stays inside. "Madeline?"

The wetness around my eyes turns heavy, like condensation on a maxed-out radiator. I haven't spoken since the camping store in the outlet mall, where I thought nobody would recognize me. It didn’t matter; all they’d had to do was remember me. There are only so many roads out of our hometown, and he knows better than anyone how'd I choose mine.

"Madeline," he growls again. "It's dangerous out there. Come on, baby."

"No." It comes out soft, but I know he can hear it. Steam wisps off of his heaving shoulders. His eyes are hidden behind a tangle of brown hair under a grey knitted cap. I remember knitting it, but I don't remember giving it to him. He steps onto the ice and his boot breaks right through. He falls forward through the ice, splashing into the freezing pond. The cracks reach me in moments. I run for the bank, but each time I outrun them, the cracks jump up ahead. My next unfeeling step sinks into water, and I fall.

But my knees hit cold dirt, hands submerged only up to my wrists. I stare at the woman reflected amid chunks of ice, expecting the monster to rise from the deep and pull her under. I flinch - but I look again and see a heron flying free, silhouetted against the moon. I pull myself up on the root of a sideways tree on the bank, toppled and exposed. Aside from the shifting ice and the ripples of my own creation, the pond is still.

***

I pick my boots out from the shreds of my tent and ease them on. Feet still numb, though I know it will be hell when they finally warm up. I slip into my jacket and thank Christ the Lord for the subtle bulge of the keys in the inside breast pocket. I find a massive rented pickup truck parked behind the Subaru. My Subaru, now, I realize. The strange newness of that phrase preoccupies my mind as I maneuver around his truck, and drive on into the morning.

Jonked
Feb 15, 2005


Bathsheba, 1196 words

"He sounds like a stalker," Gina said over her latte.

"He's a romantic," Beth replied. "Love at first sight and all that."

"He had someone follow you back from the gym, find out your name, and bundle you off in a limo. That's a little creepy."

Beth took a big sip of her coff. The liquid burnt her tongue, and her eyes watered.

"And you're married, Beth. To a soldier! That's like... treason, or something."

"Like Dave isn't loving around overseas-" Beth winced as she realized how loud she was speaking in public. "I'm not proud of it, Gina, but I have needs. Dave is off abroad, and I'm lonely, and a powerful man is smitten with me.

"Not mention handsome," Gina smirked.

"How did you know - no, you're trying to tick me"

"So he IS handsome! Powerful, handsome, goes to Club Fit - oh Beth -"

"No," Beth whispered over her latte.

"- oh my god, you scandalizing minx, the rising star of-"

"SHUT UP!" Beth quickly gulped down another burning mouthful of coffee. She felt herself blushing, could feel the eyes of the other cafe patrons on her. Swallowing the coffee gave her time to recover her composure. "Yes. Yes, Gina, you're right, so not another word, not another syllable. It would destroy his career."

"And your marriage, darling. My lips are sealed. Still, you weren't lying when you said he was powerful."

Beth wished she had gotten something iced instead. She needed to tell someone, anyone, and Gina was her only friend of sufficiently open mind and tight lips to be trusted. Actually saying the words out loud had been both a great relief and terribly frightening. She took another large gulp of her coffee instead of replying, finishing her cup. It had finally cooled enough that she could taste the supposed hazelnut undertones.

Gina gave her sweet little chuckle, like wind chimes.

"When are you seeing him again?"

"Tonight," Beth replied, with a blushing face and defiant eyes.

---
"Oh no, oh god-" her stomach roiled and jerked to the left. Beth barely had time to lurch to the bathroom before last night's dinner made a reappearance. Her body shook and convulsed, and then gave one last little shake - just to make sure everything was well and truly out.

Beth closed her eyes and focused on the smell of soapwood and the sound of her gurgling water next to her. She gave the toilet an extra flush just to be extra sure the mess was extra gone.

A terrible thought ran screaming through her mind as she brushed her teeth. Her mother had warned her that it starts early. The woman of her lineage had very sensitive stomachs.

Beth drove to the pharmacy on the other side of town, just to be safe. The bored looking teenager rang up the pregnancy test without a second thought. When she came up positive, in her haven of soapwood and vanilla, Beth wished she had the foresight to buy another half dozen test, to be sure.

---

"Come to bed, Dave. I've missed you." There was a tinge of desperation to her voice. The personal visit had been a lucky event, perhaps a tad engineered by her powerful friend. But Beth was running out of opportunities. The slinky material of her teddy was beginning to feel like a mockery against her skin. The expensive perfume had taken on unpleasant notes failure.

Dave didn't look at her or the bed. "Listen, honey, I had a busy day today..."

"Then we'll take it easy."

"I'm sore from hanging out with the guys..."

"I'll do all the work."

"Beth, I'm sorry, but..."

"No." Dave looked at his wife, then. She had always been a proper little housewife, raised in a very traditionally-minded household. Dave couldn't remember the last time she had simply refused something. Not begged off, not made excuses, just 'no.' He held up his hands.

"What do you want me to say, Beth?"

"The truth, for starters." Beth stood up from the bed, her bare skin prickling in the cool night air. "Every night. Every single night, I made it clear what I wanted, what I needed from you. You, Dave! My husband, remember? So if you can't do your duty as my husband, you can at least do your duty as a man and tell me why!" Her voice had gotten louder and louder as she spoke, until Beth felt like she'd deafen herself with her own voice. Good women don't shout, good women don't throw their husband's honor in his face - but she wasn't a good woman. She was a woman who wanted an answer.

The silence had a deafening roar of its own. Dave stared at her, slumped and embarrassed. "I was going to figure out the right time to tell you, but it never seemed right. I want a divorce, Beth. I'm... I'm a man who is attracted to men, and I can't hide that anymore. I'm sorry."

"Well." Said Beth, as she grabbed her robe. "Well. You better sit down, because we have a lot to talk about."

"There's nothing to talk about, I've made up my mind-"

"Shut up. Sit down. Listen."

--

Beth dreaded the bathroom. The rest of the day she could ignore it, the slow horrible transition from pregnancy to- to not. She could accept the fact that most pregnancies self-terminate, that these things happen and it's nobody's fault. She could hear her doctor's words, as the usually stern and imposing woman became soft and sympathetic. These things happen. You didn't do anything wrong. The next few days will be tough.

I'm sorry for your loss.

But in the bathroom, where the bits of matter remained from her body's slow cleaning-up, no. There, she knew exactly who was at fault. God was punishing her for being evil. Divorce was a sin, adultery was a sin, homosexuality - in the bathroom, as her body accepted punishment, she knew that somehow even Dave was her fault.

She had packed up the soapwood and vanilla, the bath towels and toiletries. It was cold, and clean, and smelled vaguely antiseptic in the bathroom. She washed her hands before realizing she had packed away the soap. She used toilet paper instead, and flushed it away.

There was a knock at the door. It was far too early for the movers. Beth thought about acting as if she wasn't home, but decided against it. The movers could be early - she'd just have to risk another neighbor stopping by the express condolences for the 'fallen woman'.

It was Senator O'Toole instead. He was alone, Beth noticed. His driver watched, hawk-eyed, from car, but the man himself was alone.

"Beth, I'm sorry- I didn't know, I thought you just didn't want to see me. I wanted to respect your-"

"Get in here," she hissed. "Before anyone sees you. You'll ruin your career!"

"I don't care. I don't care what anyone thinks about you and me anymore."

"Bullshit," Beth replied. But then, "At least come in so I can offer you a drink."

The driver kept watch while the door closed.

wigglin
Dec 19, 2007



Maggie’s Tale
Wordcount: 830


My father once said that tears were a luxury the brokenhearted took for granted. I never knew what that meant until the morning I found his body in the chapel, slumped over and throat slit. His pockets were emptied and the offertory chest was missing; a midnight genuflection turned to murderous theft. Seeing his body there--his eyes wide at the sight of heaven--was like lighting a match, and I had no idea there was so much gunpowder in my belly.

Sheriff Tom just stood there looking stupid. I never thought of him as much of a sheriff beyond the badge.

“Could have been the Sharp brothers. Rumor is they hit Fairbank about a month ago,” he said.

“What are you going to do about it?” I asked.

“Nobody heard or saw a thing so there’s not much I can do ‘cept put a gun on nights and another on investigation.”

“I’m going.”

He gave me a look like he’d just drank from a spittoon, “Like hell you are! Look, I’m as sorry as sorry can be about your father, but they’re cutthroats Maggie, and they’d do twice as wrong to you if they got the chance.” His tone softened, “You ought to be in mourning, not out for a bounty.”

“You’re right,” I said, “but peace doesn’t always come dressed in black.”


***

The smell of violet water still lingered in my father’s room, like wilting flowers not yet aware they’re dead. I put his riding clothes on, they were a loose fit, but I didn’t have time to make a trade at the outfitters and it wasn’t likely they stocked anything I wore well. I opened the drawer of the bedside table and found his six-shooter alongside a scattering of ammunition. The gun was as long as my forearm and weighed probably as much. The steel stole warmth from my fingers and possessed an immaculate sheen—I’d never seen him use it. I dropped a bullet into each chamber and carefully snapped the mechanism back into place.


***

When the damp chill of desert night was boiled away by the rising sun, I packed my bags and rode east, towards the mountain range. I didn’t have any reason to go towards the mountains except my gut said that a coward would go wherever there was a hole to hide in. From a distance, it looked as if the range was only ten miles off, but the further I rode, the bigger they seemed to become.

The sun was threatening to settle at my back by time I’d arrived at the foot of the mountain. My horse, sweet Daisy, was probably more relieved than I was to be finished with the trek. I fed her the last of one pouch of food and tied her to a skinny tree.

A scream like someone grasped a hot coal echoed off the rocky corridors. It was hard to pinpoint, but I could make a good guess of where the noise came from. About five hundred yards out, and not a difficult climb.

I walked slow, but dead silent, sacrificing the sun’s visibility for subtlety. When only the moon and stars guided my step, I’d found it.

The encampment was nestled below the cliff I was perched upon. There was little in the way of gear, not even a horse. I grabbed hold of my pistol with one hand and inched down the side of the rock face. Whoever was here must still be on the range, or worse, they’d already left.

As I hopped down from a ledge, I heard a pitiful gasp for air. I whipped my head towards it, gun at the ready. A pair of feet were sticking out from an alcove. I cocked the hammer, but it broke the silence so abruptly that I may as well have shot the drat thing.

“Help,” called a raspy voice.

I moved closer and found a man propped against a stone wall. His hand was pressed against a gash torn across his neck. Blood flowed freely down his arm and drained into a pool beside him.

“Cougar, fuckin’ cougar from nowhere. Miss, you gotta—“

“Do you have any money?” I interjected.

He managed to lift his free hand to point behind me. It was the offertory chest stolen from the church.

My heart quickened and my hands quivered. This was the man that murdered my father in cold blood. I pointed the gun at him with a renewed sense of purpose.

“You murdered a man last night. That man was my father.”

He tried to chuckle, but just made a gurgling noise instead. “Shoot, if you need.”

For a long time I watched him twist and cough and writhe. Somehow I felt I’d been robbed, not of my father, but of vengeance. I wanted to pull the trigger more than anything I’ve ever wanted. But as hot tears washed over my face, I realized I didn’t need to.

Radical and BADical!
Jun 27, 2010

by Lowtax


Fun Shoe

The Black Forest

Word Count: 807


It seemed like ages since John last felt Kara's lips curl into a smile against the hollow of his neck. They had stood together, hands intertwined, at the edge of their favorite spring, listening to the night sounds against the low burbling of the water. He let his chin rest on her shoulder and thought of all the wonderful possibilities young love can bring, his sightless eyes looking nowhere in particular as he ran his fingertips over her face and through her hair. Now Kara was gone, kidnapped, taken into the depths of the Black Woods, and all he had was a memory of soft skin under the pads of his fingers.

He hadn't been that far from the cabin. Short walks without someone to guide him weren't much trouble for John, and he had only been just over the hill and back to fetch a few of Kara's favorite mushrooms. He returned to find his front door gaping open, the frame shattered. He stood stunned in the ruined doorway, straining for any hint that someone might still be in the house. After a long while, he took a tentative step inside and fell over something in the doorway. There had been a struggle, and all of his and Kara's belongings lay strewn wherever they were thrown.

He was lost inside his own cabin.

Fear and anger flooded through John's body and he suddenly came to life. He ran, half mad, from room to room searching for his love, hurting himself many more times as he groped and stumbled through the perpetual blackness. Never before had it seemed like such a curse, but now he reached out and he didn't feel Kara's warm breath on the back of his hand, her soft lips and upturned, narrow nose. Now he reached out and the darkness was absolute and empty. All that remained of his lady love was a lingering hint of her perfume drifting through the empty rooms like a ghost.

***

Thirteen herbs to ward off evil. Thirteen herbs to find the path. The village wise man had been expecting him, standing out in the road with a cup of rich coffee to entice him in. You are lucky. Where you're going, your sight would only be a hindrance. They talked for a day and a night, breaking only to eat and sleep. I cannot tell you why Kara was taken. That is for her to tell. John clutched thirteen little bundles to his chest as he tapped his way home. He held each one to his nose and inhaled deeply, smelling their individual scents again and again until he knew them inside of his soul. The guardians of the paths are very dangerous and have no love for mortals poking around where they shouldn't. Your choices must be confident, or the Black Forest will swallow you whole.

***

John met the guardian of the first path behind a sturdy oaken door deep in the woods. Someone had nailed a wrought iron decoration to the front of the door, and John discerned the snarling visage of great wolf when he ran his fingers over it. Though he opened and shut the gate as quietly as he could, a mournful howl went up as soon as he stepped over the threshold. Panic gripped him, and he ran blindly into several trees as whatever it was forced its way through the undergrowth. Something heavy landed on top of him and his shoulder erupted into searing pain as sharp teeth tore into his flesh. Gasping, John managed to draw out his bundle of wolf's bane before the fangs found his throat, and the guardian melted soundlessly back into the night.

On the third path, John met a serpent whose venomous bite nearly stopped his heart, but once again he had the correct herb necessary to survive. He found a swarm of giant biting flies on the seventh path that threatened to drain him of blood, while an evil spirit on the tenth path would have torn out his soul had John not been armed with a sprig of goldenseal. For every apparition that materialized to bar his way, John had an appropriate counter-charm.

Eventually, John reached the final gate. As he had done twelve times before, he reached out and touched the wrought iron face of the guardian. He knew that face. He traced his fingers across the swell of familiar lips, the cold lines of a smooth cheek, a narrow, upturned nose he knew so well. “This cannot be,” he sobbed to himself. The oaken door slowly creaked open before him, and he caught Kara's scent on the wind.

The final bundle of herbs dropped from John's nerveless fingers as he fell to his knees. “Hello, lover,” gurgled the putrid, shambling thing as it lurched towards him, hands outstretched.

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Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







Wild Flower
1177 words

“We’re close,” Sarah said. “Can you tell? It’s in the air. They’re not far away.”

Abby struggled to keep up as her friend picked up the pace. The girls were deep in the old Weyerhaeuser logging land, flitting between skinny, evenly-spaced evergreens like a pair of blue-jeaned elves. The air was dense and dry and pleasing. The green-brown scent of loam. The honey of blackberries ripening in the hot August afternoon.

Sarah got a running start, then vaulted over a fallen log. Abby was considerably less athletically inclined, and slid over the old tree on her backside. A clump of moss tore away and sent up a musty cloud of wood bits and dirt.

“Wait,” Abby called. “We’re off the trail, we should stay…” but keeping up with Sarah took all her breath. The busy sweetness of the evening breeze was cut to pieces by the razor wire in her lungs. Abby doubled over and went for the inhaler in her bag. Push, shhhh, breathe. Push, shhhh, breathe. She forced her attention outward, on the meandering sound of birdsong and the warm sun that slithered down through the shifting canopy in dusty shafts. There’d been worse attacks before. There would be worse attacks in the future. Her heart slowed and the wad of asthmatic bubblegum in her chest softened a little.

Sarah called her name from up ahead, from somewhere on the other side of a dizzying curtain of bark and ferns and swaying branches. Abby kept her inhaler in one hand and took a few tentative steps forward. She’d be alright if she went slow. Sarah would wait. Maybe she’d found her fairies.

The forest ended in a clean, man-made line. Sarah was in the center of a wide clearing, knee-deep in flowers. White, three-petaled trillium. Clusters of purple-flowered grasswidow. Orange lilies and yellow-eyed daisies. Abby squinted against the sudden, unfiltered daylight. An errant wisp of cottonwood fuzz brushed against her cheek. She crossed the meadow, careful not to trample any flowers, and joined Sarah.

“I think, I think they’re somewhere around here. But we can't see them, you know?” Sarah bit her index finger and looked around.

Abby eased herself down onto the ground. The grass felt warm and sweaty underneath her. “What usually makes fairies talk to people?” she asked.

“It just depends on their mood and that sort of thing, I guess,” Sarah said. “But can’t you tell? Everything is, like, way more there when fairies are around. It’s like, I can feel the berries and the dirt and the fungus and the things rotting and the birds and, I know. I know. I sound like a crazy person.” She sank down next to Abby. Her eyes were puffy. Her face looked slack and weary and way too aged for fourteen years old, in Abby’s opinion.

“Maybe this is the fairies telling you, ‘hey, chill out and enjoy,’” Abby said.

Sarah made a tsh noise and scowled at the meadow. Finally, she said, “what do you mean?”

“Like, they knew you’d come here searching for them. Maybe they gave you this place in this moment as, you know, a token. So you don’t ever stop looking for them. This might be as close as they can get for now.”

“You mean--” Sarah gestured around at the swaying flowers and drifting cottonwood tufts “--all this is for me? Not likely. That doesn’t make any sense. They didn’t just drop a flowery clearing here ‘cause I showed up.”

“No, but up until now you felt super close to them, right? Like they were just behind the next tree, or whatever.”

“Right.”

“And, like, is this place not something out of a ‘90s Lisa Frank technicolor notebook cover?” Abby said.

“I guess so.”

The sun dipped down behind the rolling western foothills. The tops of the trees went molten green-gold, and frogs took up their singing around some nearby hidden pond. Sarah stretched out, laid her head on the springy cushion of grass and wildflowers. Her strawberry blond hair twined with sky-blue forget-me-nots.

“D’you think your parents would mind if I slept over tonight?” she mumbled, eyes half-closed. “Mom and Bruce are back from Palm Springs and he already freaked out at me for not watering his lucky bamboo enough and now he’s trying to make me wear some ‘energy positive’ amulet to help my attitude.”

“You’re not gonna talk to her about the pills and all that stuff?” Abby sat up, wrapped her arms around her knees. A moist coolness had settled in with the twilight.

Sarah yawned. “She knows. I know she does. He’s a crazy fucker, you’ve seen him. But she loves him. So,” she closed her eyes and nuzzled her face into the earth. “It’s the same story every family has in this town. It’s always the same story with humans.”

Abby sat beside Sarah until the other girl started to softly snore. The warm, caramel scents of daylight were replaced by traces of root and lichen and, yes, rotting things exhaling their sickly-sweet odors after baking in the heat of the day. When the sky was a deep, velvety blue and the moon was full and yellow in the sky, Abby struggled to her feet with a very un-teenage grunt and flung off her skin like a bathrobe.

The creature beneath was a stooped old woman. She was naked, and her body was etched with florid, swirling knotwork like carved tree bark. Her tiny, transparent wings fluttered and quivered and caught the moonlight in a thousand oily colors. With a bit of effort, she managed a crooked smile as she looked down at the sleeping girl.

“It’s belief, not knowledge, that you need right now,” she said. Her voice was low and windy, like some crude, ancient horn. Sarah stirred in her sleep, but didn’t wake.

The old woman looked to the sky, where the cottonwood seeds were silhouetted against the moon like fat snowflakes. She raised on thin, knotted arm and snapped her fingers. With a chorus of piffs, the seeds burst into a glittering swarm of lights, which flocked to the old woman’s hand like bees to a hive.

“Take her to the house on Oak street,” she said to the little lights. “My bedroom window will be open. And be sure not to wake her.”

The swarm gathered around Sarah in a luminous cloud and lifted her gently from the meadow.

“Would that there were more like that one,” the old woman said to the flowers as she watched the girl drift away into the starry night sky. A light breeze rustled in agreement.

She stretched, working out the various creeks and moans lodged deep in her ancient joints, and took a few experimental twirls and hops. It would have to do. The meadow needed blueberries, she’d decided on the walk through the woods. A sure sign to Sarah of the fairies’ favor, and something to snack on after the hike.

With a long, rattling breath, the old woman began to dance, and seeds fell from the tips of her fingers

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