In because I didn't need that sleep anyway.
|# ? May 12, 2015 13:24|
|# ? Dec 3, 2022 12:00|
|# ? May 12, 2015 13:57|
|# ? May 12, 2015 14:56|
This prompt rules.
Submitting tonight at work. Finished the first draft this morning but wanted to give it the updown/edit before posting.
Also this week presents a unique opportunity for multiple winners. Best opening, best ending, and best overall?
What if Best overall Set the Prompt/Source Content and the runners up set the parameters (Tone/Word Count?)
Fills in your 3 judge slots too?
Am I too new here to suggest these things?
|# ? May 12, 2015 19:33|
Give the status quo a whirl first. Your suggestions would take power and options away from whoever wins the week by shackling them to co-judges they didn't choose, who would also get to modify their prompt. Nigh-absolute power for a week is the only thing a TD winner wins!
Unless you consider having to read these stories a prize, and let me tell you....
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 21:50 on May 12, 2015
|# ? May 12, 2015 20:52|
This prompt rules.
There will be only one winning story, which is entirely dependent on "this was a good story!" any honorable mentions are also based on the same thing. We don't really give rewards for one trick pony stories, usually, week 100 notwithstanding.
And I definitely will not step on the winner's toes by telling them what the prompt should be. That was an early TD thing and it did not work well.
you're not too new to make suggestions, but for multiple reasons, what you suggested is not how thunderdome works. You'll understand once you've done a few rounds.
|# ? May 12, 2015 22:25|
Would I be able to get a crit from 2 weeks ago, the smelly week?
|# ? May 12, 2015 23:48|
I Hate Everyone: A Litany of Critique
Before I drag each and every one of you through a puddle of your own fresh viscera, let’s step back and consider why you are all wastes of air who aren’t fit to write a name on a Starbuck’s cup, let alone a story.
I’ve quoted this before, and I’m going to quote it again, as many of you seem to be suffering from premature senility:
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
We throw around a lot of writing rules (or we used to, before Thunderdome went soft and flabby). And yes, many of the rules are guidelines which you may violate if you have a drat good reason. This is not the same. This is the one and only Rule of Writing that you absolutely, positively must not break, ever.
And yet, so many of you failed to do this, I would have to invent a supersentient Idiocy Analysis Cybermind in order to even begin to bring your “achievement” within the sphere of human comprehension.
You were given one job: write a story. There are three loving words in that mission, and one of them’s just a necessity of grammar.
The Verb: Write
Every story, without exception, is an attempt at communication. You must squeeze the putrid turds rattling around inside your head into a cogent thought (difficult, I know), and then convert that into a clear, cogent stream of hieroglyphics. These will be beamed through the Information Superhighway straight into the reader’s face, and the reader’s brain must somehow descramble meaningless little squiggles back into something vaguely resembling your initial thought.
And that is why every single paragraph, line, and word must be considered. What concept are you trying to convey? Why are you trying to convey that concept? Is this the best way to convey it? Does the pace and tone assist in conveying the concept?
What concepts should you include? At the very least, you must Reveal Character or Advance Action. Backstory, introspection and scenery all serve as vehicles for these two masters. Details which are irrelevant to the action and irrelevant to the characters are inherently irrelevent and must be cut.
And don’t forget to spellcheck, proofread and edit. I caught far too many obvious mistakes this week, both from newbies and people who ought to know better.
The Noun: Story
Drama is basically about one thing: Somebody wants something, and something or someone is standing in the way of him getting it. What he wants—the money, the girl, the ticket to Philadelphia—doesn’t really matter. But whatever it is, the audience has to want it for him.
It’s a basic formula, I’ve written about it many times, and it’s everywhere, but it contains a nugget of truth that damned near every one of you forgot: characters cannot exist without motivation. If characters lack motivation, a character becomes a sockpuppet dancing on the writer’s hand.
Motivation powers conflict, conflict attracts interest, and reader interest is your Holy loving Grail. Outside of an artificial hugbox like Thunderdome, no one aside from your mother is going to read your painful scribblings if they’re not interesting.
When you’re sitting down to barf a thousand words out onto your keys, go ahead, rap out whatever you want. Next, step back and think to yourself “what is someone going to find interesting about this?” Then edit everything else until it all serves the interesting bit.
Enough, on with the poo poo-show.
Claven666 - No More Hunting Stars (Hunter of Stars, Switzerland 2014)
Video notes: Crazy-rear end hotel with band rocking out in inappropriate places and screwing things up. Song is about guy hunting some girl but being afraid of judgment.
This story has two massive problems.
First, it’s an emotionally-rooted story whose text almost entirely focuses on the physicality of a gay bromance heist. It’s driven by Walt’s emotions and feelings, but those feelings are poorly communicated in dialogue, not communicated in action, and we’re in a reserved third-person perspective, so we have no tension generated by seeing feeling tussling with motivation. (Hell, I hardly know what his motivation is.) There’s talk of unhappiness in scene one, then it disappears for two scenes, and then comes back as “nah I totally like the other dude better than you brah”.
Second, you bury the heist part in amongst the day-to-day of a dinner date. I didn’t know they were robbing the dude until the last scene; instead I got a whole lot of irrelevant bullshit about calamari for dinner. There’s some obscure hints dropped about a debt owed, but they come as an afterthought in the final scene, as well. Even then, I only see the surface goal (cash), not what’s really at stake (their relationship).
This story was a hair away from being in the DM pile, but escaped only due to the utter failures of its competition, not due to any merits of its own. This story is like being diagnosed with incurable genital herpes: it’s bad, but at least it’s not full-blown AIDS.
Blue Wher - Mother’s Violin (Adio, Montenegro 2015)
Video notes: Semi-gypsy violin/mandolin ballad. Fashion-show chorus which doesn’t move intercut with nature photography without apparent theme, like a three-minute Tourist Board of Montenegro ad.
Tell me, does boring people to death come naturally to you, or did you practice for a long time to wring a story this dull out of this setup?
You have a loving guitar which can loving talk to the loving dead![/i]. Why in all seven hells did you bury that inside a thousand pointless words about goats and lunch?! Why are all six loving goats loving named?! What the gently caress is wrong with you?
The conflict is “woe is me, the townies hate me” and this gets resolved in the second scene by a talking violin saying “nah kid gently caress dem niggas you cool.” The character then toddles around aimlessly like a drunken three-year-old that’s peed itself.
Focus on the interesting bit, shape the conflict around it, show me motivation and action which feed into the conflict. Don’t give me surveillance-camera footage of some tart’s daily life! This is the storytelling equivalent of going to a Michelin-starred restaurant and getting a hamburger, well-done.
Another piece which narrowly escaped DM simply because the DM pool was already too (hard and) deep.
spectres of autism - Dragon (Autumn Leaves, Macedonia 2015)
Video notes: RSAnimate-style sketch cartoon about boy-meets-girl/boy-loses-girl scenario. Sad semi-dubstep ballad about possibly getting into a relationship but being afraid of pain and breakups.
Your dialogue reads like you plagiarized the affirmation-bedewed Facebook wall of a middle-aged divorcee. You’re twelve-stepping me to loving death with your lines.
The worst part of this is that you clearly couldn’t decide whether you wanted to tell the story of Mascot Jackass and his YA angst, or Middle-Aged Loser and Turbo Tart. In a longer piece, one of them could reflect on the other and illustrate an undesirable outcome, thus providing motivation. This technique, called “clones,” requires more space than you’re usually given in TD.
Focus on either Mascot Jackass, or make him a thinking, judging camera whose observations spur on Middle-Aged Couple.
If you’re going for the former, you must bring out Mascot Jackass’ inner motivations sooner. In the current text, they’re all over the loving place. First he mopes about what people will think of him, then mopes about girlfriend and career, and, for some idiotic reason, you settled on the idea that he just missed his runaway dog and had to forgive the dog for running away.
Clean all that poo poo up, don’t just dump details out like a toddler spilling a bucket of LEGO.
As is, this piece is limp, tedious and has all the emotion of a text-to-speech synthesizer reading a Volvo manual. It was boring, and I disliked it, but not so much as to advocate a DM.
PoshAlligator - The Black Mountain’s Bell (Horehronie, Slovakia 2010)
Video notes: Hippie plant-elves prance around while Grandma Snow White warbles backup and stands like a bored statue off to the side.
Holy poo poo, did you set out to write something that hits all the “Beef will hate this” buttons? Anonymous, motivationless heroine; no tension; clunky language which tries to be arty but just ends up muddy; fantasy; nothing happens; no resolution. I am trying to kill you with my mind as I type this.
You have astounding clarity problems. The bell(?) shrinks, then “grows in speed”? I can hardly tell what’s going on during the entire story. Some floozy goes to find a bell in a cavern, or a postapocalyptic wasteland, or a cavern in a postapocalyptic wasteland or loving something of that nature. She hits it with a magic cattle prod, and stuff lights up for no apparent reason, and then she runs around a bit and gets attacked by invisible things, and then the bell breaks, and there’s some kind of creatures. And then it was all a dream?
Your prose is purple as a person dying of autoerotic asphyxiation. (Whom, I pray, is you.)
This was pretty much going to take the Loss trophy unless something else astonishingly-bad got posted. Even after GreekOwl shat in the ring, there was only the slightest debate as to whether it was that or this.
Go back to basics and write a simple, clear story. Focus on coming up with a classic concept and communicating it well. Until then, you’re just a pretentious gently caress with a penchant for word salad.
Or, better yet, get hit by a bus and die.
hubris.height - Saccharine and Gasoline (Divine, France 2008)
Video notes: Bearded-lady chorus backs up French Kenny Loggins holding a helium ball, who enters riding on a France-branded golf cart. He sings squeaky. Generic song about some woman being divine. And then French happens.
Also, you may have unintentionally written Ghost Dad fanfiction, for which I can only applaud you. (With brass knuckles. (To the teeth.)) Somehow, your protagonist lost “his entire family,” and yet his wife is very much in the story. I can only conclude that she is Ghost Wife and is offering encouragement from Beyond The Grave. Yes, let’s roll with that - it’s the only way to make this story even marginally interesting.
Your dialogue is atrocious. Your characters merely barf emotionless exposition at one another. When one character literally says “You lost your entire family in a single night only three weeks ago,” it’s about as subtle and enjoyable as a brick to the head.
Both of your scenes are far too long. The only important thing in the first scene is Must Race For Reasons and Family Is Dead (poss. incl. Ghost Wife), the rest can be cut. Also, “Reasons” cannot be “Reasons” in the text, and if you decide go with “I must race to avenge my family who died in an entirely unrelated manner, I’d prefer if you instead smashed your face against your keyboard until your retinas detached.
Make every detail count. This is a short story. The race and the family dying must be intimately intertwined. If you can’t link them, then cut one.
All your narrative about the details of racing and the scenery are entirely pointless. They don’t show us anything that we don’t already know - the guy is sad about his family. He’s having trouble focusing. Bam, I just said in two sentences what took you 500 words. Condense.
Jumping into the other racer’s point-of-view is jarring and a terrible idea. Don’t do that poo poo. Also, this character literally came out of nowhere. Set up your conflicts in act 1, not act 3, or else they won’t have any impact.
gently caress’s sake, that last line makes kittens die.
I’ll give this story one thing, it is pretentiously French. “Oh ho ho, all ze happiness zat you have, zey turn to ze ashes in ze mouth, when you realize all ze people you love will die.” (long cigarette drag)
This got the DM basically because you threw out a lot of words that said nothing, with sockpuppet characters hurling exposition at the reader. There was no through-line, no uniting conflict, and your motivation was clear as mud.
Go back to basics.
JcDent - Shame of Shamus (Heroes, Sweden 2015)
Video Notes: Dynamic-typography over generic Swedish dude in a steamy shower, singing about being a hero and wrestling with darkness etc etc cliche, jesus this song has like 3 lyrics it’s a cut-and-paste tragedy.
Stop with the exclamation points! This is tedious to read! Throw away your ! key before I come break your wrists! Also, proofread!
This is a tedious, boring story about a guy sitting around moping about how his dad got to do all the cool poo poo and now Gun Goon doesn’t get The Respect He Deserves. So he sits around playing Grimdark-Future Starcraft. Sorry, this isn’t even a story, it’s the whinings of Goonhammer 40K.
Also, use less technobabble in a short. Technobabble, and any other invented vocab, just obscures the actual action and characterization in your story. It’s only suitable for longer works, where learning your lovely Space Elvish may help understand the characters and world to a greater degree, but you don’t ever get that luxury in 1400 words.
The one thing this story does, to its credit, is cleverly incorporate the prompt. The song you picked just repeats the lyric “We’re dancing with the demons in our minds” over and over and over and over and over again. So your protagonist literally sits around, playing with simulated demons hundreds of times. Clever, but boring as poo poo, so you still get stuck with the DM.
TheGreekOwl - One Last Breath (One Last Breath, Greece 2015)
Video Notes: Tedious love-ballad with simplistic piano backing. No interesting visuals. Singer is asking lover to save her from “a fiery hell” and she only has “one last breath” but it’s unclear why. “I’m begging you take me”. Fear of loss, rejection.
I bounced off this story so hard I broke the sound barrier. Your word choice is hideously overwrought and pretentious. You’ve fallen into the newbie trap of trying to “sound like a writer,” and have thrown a loving thesaurus at my face. Instead of sounding smart, your writing reads like a pretentious rear end in a top hat who doesn’t know the first thing about communicating an idea.
It also doesn’t help that, even in your first paragraph, you obviously didn’t proofread, spellcheck or correct your grammar. You’ve got missing/misplaced commas and apostrophes all over the place. Your sentence structure is fundamentally broken. A few examples: “along a with tiny shrug”, “in the lungs breath”, “she had been beaten, by the chairmaker”.
Your word choice is agonizingly bad (“an awry stone room”?). You change tenses like a gigolo changes condoms. In the first paragraph alone, you vacillate between three of them. Absolutely wretched.
“She came alive with a gleaming chest.” What in the ever-living gently caress is this?! Does this woman have literal headlights?!
From what I can exhume out of the rubble of your prose, your characters are blank sockpuppets barfing exposition at one another without a hint of motivation, tension or conflict to draw a single iota of interest.
Since you clearly didn’t bother proofreading this, I can only conclude you don’t respect my time, so I’m not going to respect yours: I’m not bothering to finish this piece of irredeemable poo poo. You have so many problems, it’s hard to even know where to start with improvement advice. Start with the training-wheels basics, like Jack & Jill.
Or, for the sake of humanity, run your fingers through a woodchipper and feed the slurry to pigs. Then burn the pigs.
bigperm - Danes Odhajam (Round and Round, Slovenia 2014)
Flash Rule: A busted kitchen appliance must be included in your story.
Wheel Spinner: LOSS. I haven’t been to Slovenia.
Kaishai tells me this story is funny if you’ve memorized the music video. I haven’t. Stories have to stand alone. Telling a good story is job 1 in Thunderdome, catering slavishly to the prompt comes second.
Basically, I have no idea what the gently caress is going on. You’ve got an epistolary story from a woman to her mother. Since epistolary stories are, by definition, the words/thoughts of one of the characters, I can only conclude that either the woman is batshit nuts and hallucinating things, or the mother is batshit nuts.
Either way, neither of them have any sort of motivation, there’s no action or conflict to carry this along, and nary a gag to be seen.
The only virtue this has is that it’s short and the suffering ended swiftly.
Tell a loving story next time.
broenheim - A Million Things I Wish I Had Done (O Mie, Moldova 2013)
Flash Rule: Include pointy hats and over-the-top masculinity.
Wheel Spinner: LOSS. I haven’t been to Moldova.
Video Notes: Affirmative-Action Disney Princess warbles a generic love ballad with piano backing. Song about the world ending because a relationship is over.
I asked for over-the-top masculinity, and instead you gave me an emasculated boxer being pushed around by his love interest, buried beneath a Chicago Deep Dish of cheesy sentiment.
This is an atrocious story. At least half of your words are wasted on breathless declarations of “LOVE U SO MUCH”. I got that loving idea already, stop belaboring it and get to the actual loving point.
Except… you’ve forgotten to include the point. You start with a boy-meets-girl story, and then, halfway through act 2, there’s suddenly vague intimations of a gang being after him. That’s way too goddamn late to set this poo poo up. Then the guy is all scared. And then the gang shoots the girl for some reason. And then they sod off. Curtain.
Your villain doesn’t make any sense. It’s a Zdob si Zdub Ex Machina to kill the girl. And the girl is basically just a cardboard cutout for this guy to long for. Thing is, he’s such a wet blanket, I’m not rooting for him at all.
Nothing hangs together here, there’s no through-line. poo poo, you don’t even make it clear that this guy’s boxing until halfway through. Ground your story in a world and establish the characters in paragraph one. This is flash fiction, you have maybe 150 words to kickstart poo poo before I want to break your fingers.
I wanted this to get a DM because of how much loving air it wastes on nothing, but one of the other judges opposed that. Instead, I can only hope pointed-hatted midgets show up and floss your butthole with concertina wire.
Jonked - Love You While I’m Gone (Still In Live With You, UK 2015)
Video Notes: Cheesy 1920s cabaret.
Proofread and run spell-check. “Boxom.” “Curvacous”. Dude, c’mon. It’s under 400 words, Google Docs even underlines those loving mistakes for you. You have absolutely no excuse for this sort of sloppy bullshit.
“We never talked about it, never really established what you would have wanted.” Ironic writer metacommentary on own story spotted.
So basically, a guy OD’s on opium while with the whore of his dreams at his bachelor party. Then you do the intercut dialogue thing to make it edgy and writerly. Go gently caress yourself.
This would be less terrible if you’d led off with some hints that there’s discontent or a tension between what the guy wants and what the woman wants. The hallucination about the hooker is more or less pointless aside from establishing that small bit of disagreement.
This escapes being a DM candidate only because the rest of the week is even more awful.
schneiderheim - The Final Siege of Black Steel Castle! (Warrior - Georgia 2015)
Video Notes: Casual racism. Generic song about being strong and being strong and the world gonna sit up and take notice of how strong woman I am.
You’re immediately on rocky ground with an exclamation point in the title.
Jesus Deep-Fried Christ. I see only two possibilities here. One, you were trying for a parody of lovely anime cliches, but missed the humor mark and plunged into the abyss of abysmality. Two, you wrote this on purpose. In the latter case, sterilize yourself with a flaming chainsaw.
In the first case: Humor is hard. You have to consider your target audience, which you clearly didn’t - none of the judges here are ADTRW rejects who’ll guffaw at your clumsy writing.
Humor is all about leading the audience towards an expectation (“the set-up”) and then violating that expectation for humorous effect (“the punch line”). It’s not about simply copypasting cliches you found on TVTropes one after another.
Also, you have some straight-up composition problems: “The very air caused by the Castle”. How does a castle cause air?! Did it eat a bad taco?
If you were trying for comedy, you failed pretty hard. Consider your target audience better next time. I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt on this, and only recommending a DM, because this is definitely Loser material otherwise.
If you weren’t trying for comedy, then reserve this trash for your fellow thirteen-year-old anime nerds at fanfiction.net.
Tyrannosaurus - It’s Not Always The Serpent That Makes You Sin (Weil der Mensch Zaelt, Austria 2003)
Video Notes: Oh god, you’re making me sit through an Austrian chant a comedy song in Styrisch. And then surprise metal.
Someone actually led off with an opening that sets the scene, gives the character motivation and starts the action! Praise the good lord Jedward, it’s a Eurovision miracle!
I like it, it’s funny, the characters are clear and all want things (except Dog, which is excused because he’s perfect comic relief). There’s a through-line carrying the thing, and, amaze amaze, I actually was looking forward to reading the next line.
Everyone who is not Tyrannosaurus, look at this story, for it does something rarely seen in Thunderdome. Not only does his character have a goal, but the character actually has both a long-term “story goal” and short-term immediate goals - the resolution of the latter all generate problems and quandaries for the character, and it all feeds back towards the story goal.
This is excellent dramatic craft, executed with polish. This is publishable. Sure, the subject matter confines it to a college humor magazine, but publishable is a standard everyone should be aspiring to and is one not often achieved.
Problems? Yes, it has some. I’m not 100% sold on the resolution, even if it is tidy. It feels too convenient that Bull just had to kick the gate off the hinges, which he could’ve done the whole time. I would’ve liked something more inventive, but I can’t put my finger on what.
Promptwise, you had a very difficult video, but you pulled it off well. Like the song, it’s both silly and dark, and has all the bits about animals.
I fought very hard for this to win. In my opinion, it was the only story this week actually worth reading, and the only story that demonstrated any degree of polish. Yes, it’s light and humorous, but humor is hard to pull off (see preceding crit), and this landed well for me.
Unfortunately for you, it didn’t land for the Chief Judge and the minority pick won. In my opinion, you were completely robbed of a well-deserved victory. (Although, perhaps, that does go back to humor needing to know its audience, and Kaishai may not be the best target for barnyard humor.)
Benny Profane - The Saunier Mausoleum (A Monster Like Me, Norway 2015)
Video Notes: Slow tedious ballad about two lovers pushing one another away, and then the world’s worst family dinner and singing where each of them calmly tell one another to go gently caress someone else while the family loses its poo poo over the awful dinner. Also, the guy has the biggest chin on the planet.
“And yes, I'm more than aware of how horrendously cliché that is.” Ironic writer self-assessment is ironic.
This story isn’t sure what it wants to be. It hurts more than you obscure the reveal in arty language for a gigantic paragraph’s length. However, this isn’t unsalvageable.
You need to cut away a lot of the rotten purple prose, foreshadow Jess’ reveal, and also flesh out Jess’ character more. As written, she’s basically a Manic Pixie Dream Goth and/or fuckmeat.
You need to follow through on the hints that things aren’t going to work out. I need to root for the main character, and I need to either be urging him to get with Jess or to run away.
The style doesn’t match your story, either. This sort of “I was this way in the past, but now I’ve changed” self-judgmental writing works when you’re trying to illustrate something about the way the writer distances himself from his younger self. It’s assumed that you’re going to use contrast between the voice of the Narrator-Now and the Narrator-Then to demonstrate that the character has grown up and snapped out of his youthful obsession with being Dark and Deep.
Thing is, the overwrought style continues throughout, so it’s obvious that the narrator hasn’t stopped obsessing about being Deep and Writerly.
Grizzled Patriarch - Tiny Edible Things (N’oubliez Pas, France 2015)
Video Notes: This looks like a French Twilight fanfilk music video. Landscapes, decaying WW2 bunkers on the coast of France, random people walking in France. FRANCE FRANCE FRANCE. Lots of oil lamp.
Creepy crawling horror, but it doesn’t resolve, it just trails off with the doctor having nightmares. Have I mentioned I hate vignettes? This is a decent vignette, but I still hate vignettes. Resolve your story. Use Vore Nyarlathotep to show me something, don’t just drop him and run away into dreams.
Also, you set your story in World War 1, but the bunkers in the video are from World War 2. Bro, do you even lift?
Killer-of-Lawyers - The Star and the Skull (What For?, Latvia 2010)
Video Notes: Slow ballad. Why is your love passing by? Uncle Joe can’t speak. Only Mr. God knows why, but he’s forever out of reach?
Gritty kindness-in-the-middle-of-war vignette. This piece is too overwrought and concerned with Being Writerly to actually set up the characters. There’s a moment of tension when the nurse seems ready to murder Yegor, and then it deflates and Yegor asks Why. (Because referencing the song, see? Writer so clever, so clever. Barf.) And then it ends with a spot of kindness done to Yegor by Mystery Nurse.
This piece needs more Actual Story, less Describing Random Warzone poo poo. I don’t hate this enough to DM it, but only because there’s been so much absolute trash already that this brief dogturd doesn’t register.
skwidmonster - Mr. War Criminal (Hour of the Wolf, Azerbaijan 2015)
Video Notes: Guy appears to be walking around his flat at night while singing about meeting Peace and having the answers to the Earth and not giving up hope. I won’t sleep because I’ll lose my mind or some poo poo. The dawn brings madness or sommat IDK.
Your entire story is spurious detail. Your first scene is literally someone waiting for poo poo to happen. You’ve lost me, I’m bored and want to skip to the next loving story already. Stop writing tedious, boring poo poo with no characterization or motivation or action. You’ve got this week’s most acute case of televisionitis, and that’s saying something, as you didn’t spend a whole paragraph naming six goats.
(“Sudden gunfight” does not equate to “action”. I mean dramatic action. The build, ebb and crescendo of tension.)
This reads like you had no idea what to do, so you just stream-of-consciousnessed out wads of irrelevant details. Being obscure and showing us weird details is not artistic, it’s annoying and pretentious. loving communicate with me.
This piece is an absolute waste of time and words. Go learn to write a loving story. Characterization, motivation, action, through-line, theme, plot - these all have to be established and shown. In a better week, this could’ve lost, but instead it merely rots in the DM cesspool with the other poo poo.
crabrock - The Probabilistic Route to Happiness (Dancing Lasha Tumbai, Ukraine 2007/Only Teardrops, Denmark 2013)
Video Notes: I don’t need notes for Lasha Tumbai.
Straight up, you didn’t deserve to win, but it seems Thunderdome cares more about pretty bullshit than polish and craft these days. This is an unedited, unpolished piece and needed more effort to actually be worth reading.
My main beef is that you’re torn between telling two different stories. On the one hand, you’ve got the bit where the robot is rediscovering his humanity, discovering common ground with the human prisoners. It’s evident in your opening few paragraphs, it’s evident in the shiv scene.
And then suddenly, we get a love-denied story dumped on us. Emmelie is dropped as a detail in paragraph five, then ignored for the duration of the shiv scene. Then we get an argument, and suddenly we’re talking about a prison break, and then we go back to love-denied. Did you get blackout drunk and forget what you were writing every few paragraphs, or is this just an early-onset Alzheimer’s attack?
The lover’s-spat scene goes on for too long, and Emmelie basically just huffs and puffs angrily the whole time. The robot is a robot. I have no sympathy for either character, so your ending lands only as sappy sentimentality, not the heartwarming feels you were shooting for.
Clarity problems. I wasn’t sure if you were implying that the robot was once human, or if there was some sort of Mechie fetish thing going on in the misty past. I wasn’t sure if the robot was also a prisoner, or just a robot guard that gets reprogrammed a lot to wipe out emotions. A lot of stuff just didn’t seem to make sense.
There’s meat in here, but it needs to be trimmed into shape. Also, you totally missed a chance for a sly Patrick McGoohan reference.
The obvious lack of proofreading meant I was not only opposed to this winning, but I was pushing for it to not receive an HM. However, that wouldn’t fly with either of the other judges, and instead you won by Chief Judge Fiat. May you receive fifty subs this week.
And yes, I see what you did there with Sieben Sieben Eins Zwei. Taking character names from your prompt songs doesn’t ping my clever-dar.
Sitting Here - Full Circle (Time, Belarus 2015)
Video Notes: Girl trapped in an hourglass as a dude warbles a love ballad about time being like thunder or some poo poo. Lots of Time Is Like Thunder. I expect a lot of focus on time. And thunder. Running in a blizzard, then in fire. Guy rescues girl buried in hourglass/time/sand, gets left in the sand himself.
“Accouterment.” “I couldn’t see to hole.” Lack of proofreading spotted. I expect this poo poo from greenhorns, not the Blood Queen.
Eh. First, I’m not 100% sold on two people who’re maybe sixty years old being as old and decrepit as you’re describing. I’ll grant it out of narrative necessity, but it’s thin, and you could’ve worked around it by just omitting the specific length of time.
It’s an okay little blip of delayed love, but it spends too much time on Chris bumping around being an old fart. None of that really shows us much that’s interesting and new.
There’s some weird problems with tone, where the piece almost begins mocking itself, like : “And just as the whole scene was getting really dramatic”.
Overall, I’m not sold on it. It feels unedited and rushed, just like Crabrock’s. This has a clearer protagonist, but a more two-dimensional supporting character. Generally, needs work, and I don’t think it’s actually worth the work to salvage it.
Roulette Wheel Statistics
# of TD entrants who could've won if they'd spun: 13
# of TD entrants who aren't cowards and spun: 5
# of spinners who could've won if they'd submitted: 1
# of spinners who actually submitted a story and won: 0
|# ? May 13, 2015 00:31|
I Hate Everyone: A Litany of Critique
|# ? May 13, 2015 00:59|
A Probabilistic Route to Happiness
crabrock - A Probabilistic Route to Happiness
Thanks for the crits!
|# ? May 13, 2015 03:04|
I'm in. Let's manufacture some conflict following the best guidelines of writing as established by 90's wargame rulebooks and sci-fi books with nonsensical covers.
|# ? May 13, 2015 04:00|
I Hate Everyone: A Litany of Critique
gently caress yes, this is what I'm talking about. Thanks for the crit!!
|# ? May 13, 2015 05:34|
I knew it wouldn’t be long before the baby learned to work the locks on the doors. I could hear her in the bathroom, the expensive sound of breaking and spilling, occasionally punctuated by soft coos and giggles. She’d been up for six days straight, growing smarter and stronger the whole time, or maybe we’d got dumber and weaker. I hated to think what she was up to, locked in there with the high pressure showerhead, the anti-dandruff shampoo, the loofah. Locked in with the brown plastic bottles of pills, with Sarah’s pink plastic razors.
“She’s advanced for her age,” said Sarah, a tear down the side of her good work blouse exposing an alphagetti-stained bra strap, “most kids can’t use a door handle till they’re at least eighteen months.”
It was an understatement. To reach the handle the wee bugger had jumped from the landing balustrade, caught the chrome handle with her wiry little hands, and hung there while the door swung open with the force of her momentum. The backflip was impressive, but unnecessary, so I didn’t count it as part of the manoeuvre.
She’s cute, though, despite the malevolence. Like that time with the cat. The way she smiled and showed her seven tiny teeth as she spun it round by the tail. How she poked out her tongue in concentration as she let go. The cackles she made as it sailed, spreadeagled, through the kitchen window like a mewling tortoiseshell discus. It lives with the neighbours now.
Sarah ran her hand through her hair, and winced when it caught in a tangle set hard with dried vomit and talc. “Maybe we should look into one of those sleep consultants?” She said, “Jen’s little boy was up twice a night until they got that woman in to help out.”
I managed a scant nod. Do sleep consultants carry pepper spray?
The baby wasn’t coming out, so I went to the garage for a screwdriver. When I got back it was quiet, and Sarah was folded up on the floor with her ear pressed to the door.
“Maybe she’s asleep?” she mouthed, a mixture of terror and hope behind her heavy eyelids. I set to work taking apart the handle, while Sarah’s head slid down the rimu veneer until it rested, awkwardly sandwiched between her shoulder and the door.
Sarah was snoring by the time I popped the last screw from the lock. The weight of her head pushed the door open, and a sad, hollow noise came from her skull when it bounced on the tile-patterned lino of the bathroom floor. She didn’t wake.
The cold night air stung my eyeballs before I noticed the broken window.
|# ? May 13, 2015 07:24|
There was an uncertainty in the wind that blew in over the prairies. Jack laughed, despite himself. Seventeen years and all that he had given her was a daughter; now, not even a home for that daughter to live in.
At least he hadn't taken away her mother. She did that herself upon news of the repossession. The owner-man hadn't sugar-coated his words. Jack could stand it, but Mary - it hurt so to say her name - hadn't sugar-coated her actions. She had decided that there was nothing left for her here now and with a small case of scant belongings rode with the bulldozer man back to the depot.
Hours later he was still in the same place but now the wind had roused a dust storm, and it rode in, rolled in as a great pyroclast or hurricane's wall. A broad cliff of dust, rising six stories high or more, reckoned Jack, but he'd never been to the city so it was hard to judge. He'd have to leave soon, he knew that. It was an era of selfishness, of inherited debts but lacking legacy. And surely his daughter would want to flee from it too. Perhaps she already had.
He turned to check. No, still there.
But land was a man's game, a male inheritance. You were born on your father's land, worked it, till you owned it yourself and died on it. Now the bank owned it, meaning several thousand investors owned an inch square of the acres each. What could a man do with a square inch of farm?
But it was no farm, not any more, just a great sandy landscape, featureless and barren. Not even a farmhouse now. He'd have to go West, find himself a-
But what was Jack looking for? A purpose? No, he had his daughter to live for, even if his wife didn't. A home? Well, home was where you laid your head, however much history a house had to make it a sad thing to lose, so it wasn't that either. No... find himself a- or was that it, find himself?
He smiled the thin smile of cynic re-invigorated by the tantalising prospect of honest-to-God hope. Escape from fatalism in wrenching back control of one's own destiny was a heady, intoxicating prospect. Control was tempting, and Jack fell to its allure without a care for the outcome. His grin widened as he realised he'd literally thrown caution to the approaching Easterly wind.
The path was clear. His grizzled jaw was set. He would head West to find himself - daughter in tow.
|# ? May 13, 2015 09:32|
Master Fromage moved forward on his elbows, pulling his head over the grassy peak a an inch at a time. His good eye squinted as he looked over the rough country road below. He nodded, retreated back down, and turned his head to Young Gunn, who looked at Fromage's waxy eye patch that covered the long scar on the left side of his face before hurriedly correcting himself. Fromage frowned
"You got all the supplies I asked for? Could get bloody, but by rights it's mine, that's the law"
"Yes, sir." Gunn patted the woven basket by his side, a long French bread sticking out from underneath the red cloth that covered it, next to a couple of equally as long swords. When he looked back up he made the mistake of looking at the crimson red eye patch again.
Fromage growled, scooted over, shifted the swords to the side and pulled out the bread. He tore an end off, and rooted around in the basket. He held a sealed wheel of cheese aloft.
“Never go into battle hungry, boy.” He broke the cracked, white rind and began to put it together with the bread. Gunn peered at his eyepatch again. Fromage smirked. “When I was a young squire like yourself, for the then Knight of Cheeses, Master Hawthorne. It was when the now Count Wenton, then but a boy himself, betrayed our camp. Hawthorne was crippled, as you well know, and I received this trying to save him.”
“That was when the Victory Cheese was taken?” Gunn leant forward. He did love his history books.
“First produced to celebrate the Battle of Independence, near a thousand years ago, maturing ever since.”
”Only to be eaten in the end times,” Fromage continued. “And this new king and his advisors see fit to allow Wenton, the fool of the banker to keep the cheese, when it should be my own right by title? Bah.” He swallowed down a lump of bread hard, coughed.
“But isn’t this still treason, Master?”
“Everything’s illegal until it isn’t. But if all goes to plan nobody need ever know.” Fromage peered into the basket again and smiled. “That’s the stuff all right.”
His ear twitched. He brushed the crumbs off his hands. “That sounds like Count Wenton’s convoy now. There’s still time to go back, boy, if it unsettles you. Not everyone can handle the Society.”
“I’m ready,” Gunn nodded.
“Are you certain? If you back out now I’ll let you go. But flee later and I’ll see your head in a block of cheese.”
Gunn nodded once more.
“Good, this isn’t just about a wheel of cheese. This is about tradition, country. This is about the future, and it starts here.”
Fromage looked at Gunn. His hands were shaking a little, but besides that he was sturdy. He could do fine. He could.
Together they edged up to the ridge on their bellies, the sound of the convoy drawing near.
No, it's not purposefully lovely
|# ? May 13, 2015 18:29|
Word Count: 487
Artie walked into a flower shop for the first time in his life. He hustled from his pickup to the door quicker than he’d moved in decades, worried that somebody driving by on Old Main Street might see him. The bell above the door chimed like a siren and Artie flinched.
“Can I help you, sir?” the gray-haired woman behind the counter asked and pushed her bifocals up her nose.
“I need some flowers,” Artie told her. “They’re for my wife,” he was quick to add.
The storekeeper, whose nametag on her green apron said Sally, gestured around the store, indicating the abundance and variety of flowers. “What does she like?”
Artie took off his trucker hat and held it over his chest as if the national anthem were playing at a ballgame. “I sure don’t know. But she’s upset like I ain’t never seen.”
Sally walked around to the front of the counter and leaned against it. She crossed her arms and tilted her head. “Let me guess. Something you did. And you think a few flowers are going to make up for it?”
Artie just about dropped his hat. “That how you plan to make a sale?”
Sally’s stern expression didn’t waver. “Don’t change the subject on me. Go on now, tell me what you’ve done.”
“Well,” Artie said and began to fold the brim of his hat. He looked down, feeling like his mother was back from the dead and scolding him over something he did at school. “I made a promise I didn’t keep. A big one.”
“And now she’s mad. Breaking things. I didn’t get no sleep last night.”
“Any sleep,” Sally said.
“Any sleep,” Artie corrected, feeling again like he was five instead of fifty-five. “I’ve got until sundown to get things right. Then she’ll be up again. I already got most of what I think’ll make her happy out in the truck, but I feel like some proper flowers will really be the finishing touch I need.”
Sally glanced out the front window of the shop and could see the antlers of a deer sticking up from Artie’s truck’s bed. A nice buck.
“Mmhmm,” Sally hummed. “Well, let’s see.” She began to show Artie some of her best flowers: beautiful arrangements that smelled wonderful. But he soon stopped her.
“What about those?” Artie asked, pointing to a boquet in the corner.
“Those? You don’t want those. They’re nearly dead. And they are starting to smell… funny.”
Artie gave the dying flowers a sniff and winced at the stench. “They’re perfect. She’ll love them.”
Sally shrugged. “If you say so.”
Artie paid for the flowers and got back in his truck with them. The deer in the back was hooked up to a drainage system, steadily filling a big bottle with red, viscous blood. He headed home, praying he’d be able to calm his wife down when she woke up.
|# ? May 13, 2015 19:48|
I Hate Everyone: A Litany of Critique
Ha ha ha ha, I love you man. Thanks.
|# ? May 13, 2015 20:00|
Inspired from “The Hare and the Pineapple” by Daniel
Back in the olden days, way before us humans were around, the animals talked. Why did they stop? I have no earthly idea, you should try asking one yourself.
One day, in the forest, Watermelon rolled up next to Rabbit. "Hello," it introduced itself.
Rabbit jumped so high in the air, she almost cracked her skull on the branches of the tree. "Good Lord! A talking watermelon!" She exclaimed.
"But if you can talk, why can't I?" Watermelon asked.
"Because I am an animal, and not a plant!"
The rest of the animals in the forest took notice. "I just wanted to acquaint myself," Watermelon said as it rolled itself into an unfriendly-looking ape. "This watermelon is unnatural," Ape said.
"We should kill it!" Raven cawed as the rest of the animals shouted in agreement. Watermelon tried rolling away, but it was completely surrounded by very unfriendly animals.
"Chop him up!" They shouted
"Pass him around!" They cried.
"Let us feast upon his sweet, sweet flesh!" They demanded.
"Silence!" A loud roar boomed through the trees, causing each of the animals present to cower. From the leafy depths stepped out King Lion.
"What is this madness?" He demanded as everyone present immediately genuflected. Everyone except Watermelon, of course. Produce like Watermelon weren't exactly kept privy to such social customs.
"My Lord," rabbit squeaked, "this, abomination dared address itself to me," she gestured towards the watermelon.
"Why would you take such offense?" King Lion asked, his eyebrow raised.
"M-my Lord," Rabbit said, doing her best to contain her disbelief and exasperation, "the watermelon spoke to me--watermelons shouldn't talk."
"And yet it does speak, isn't that right?" King Lion asked Watermelon.
"Y-yes, my Lord," Watermelon said.
"How dare you address our king!" Owl screeched, igniting the mob of animals to cry for its execution again. King Lion let out a mighty roar and the forest fell silent once more.
"This is curious," he said while stroking his mane thoughtfully. "Your mere presence seems to incite my subjects into riot. You must understand that I will not stand for this."
Watermelon dared not speak. "Do you understand?" King Lion asked.
"Yes, my Lord," it quietly responded.
King Lion grinned from ear-to-ear. "I know exactly how we'll settle this."
All the animals and Watermelon met at the tallest hill in the forest. Rabbit and watermelon stood next to each other at the very point of the hill. "First one to reach the bottom wins," King Lion said.
"My Lord, if I should lose?" Watermelon asked. King Lion said noting and cackled instead.
"That watermelon, it has something in it's wings," Owl said sagely.
Raven stared at him. "Owl, are you high again?"
"That's beside the point!" Owl shrieked.
"Ready?" Lion said and raised his paw in the air.
With apologies to Daniel
Benny the Snake fucked around with this message at 22:47 on May 13, 2015
|# ? May 13, 2015 20:53|
Um, I probably should've said this earlier, I'm in.
|# ? May 13, 2015 20:55|
it's pinkwater! pinkwater!!!
Kellsterik fucked around with this message at 01:56 on May 15, 2015
|# ? May 13, 2015 22:08|
The keyboard console spun end-over-end as it flew across the control room. It smashed into an I-beam on the wall; a few keycaps sprayed off and floated away gently.
"Get out of here, goddamn it!" yelled Dean. "You knew the rules about network use! That console is coming out of your paycheck, too!"
"gently caress you," Cora spat back as she kicked free of her velcro patch and glided through the overhead hatch. In her anger, she misjudged and bounced clumsily off the wall of the passageway. Swearing softly at a bruised forearm, she made her way through the zero-G command segment toward the rest of the station.
She felt a touch of regret seeping past her anger--control equipment wasn't cheap, and who knew how long it would take to find another job. But no, screw them! she thought. If those networking dicks hadn't locked everything down so tight, or if they had just allowed InterBBS traffic like she asked, she wouldn't have had to run those illicit tunnels. Turns out, pulling 350 GB of encrypted traffic through what's supposed to be a low-bandwidth text messaging connection will raise a few eyebrows. All legal, of course, but corporate policy prohibited circumventing any of their absurdly paranoid security measures.
"hosed again by zero tolerance," she muttered, pausing at the entrance to the rover bay. Through the reinforced glass she could see Rovers 1 and 3, slotted neatly into the underbellies of their lander units. Rover 2 was down on Mercury, and that prick Luke would be running it now instead of her. Working with the rovers was the only part she had really enjoyed here; the food was poo poo, the people sucked, and the living conditions were even worse than the food. Those annoyances all went away when she was live-patching pathfinding logic, frantically hacking to get the rover back on track before it overheated in the intense Mercurial sun. The high stakes and the intellectual challenge made it the only job she'd ever actually enjoyed.
When Cora got back to her room, she saw that her terminal was displaying her termination notice. It wouldn't let her log on until she digitally signed it. She accepted the terms with a sigh, noting that her account had already been switched into restricted access mode.
"Now what, just sit on rear end until the next ship gets here?" Cora wondered aloud. There wasn't another resupply ship due for at least 3 days. She sure as hell didn't want to see or talk to any of her crewmates. Her terminal was pretty locked down now that she was officially persona non grata, but those networking dicks were only good at following checklists--they never seemed to grasp all the tricks you can pull.
|# ? May 13, 2015 22:28|
it's pinkwater! pinkwater!!!
|# ? May 13, 2015 22:47|
Benny the Snake hosed around with this message at May 13, 2015 around 18:47
|# ? May 13, 2015 23:05|
Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 19:19 on Dec 30, 2015
|# ? May 14, 2015 04:09|
You grew up Mormon, but that’s not why you aren’t Mormon, is it? No, no. You smoke two packs a day and won’t drink anything unless it’s got caffeine or alcohol, but that’s not why you aren’t Mormon either. Get a grip on yourself, Jill. You can’t hide from your own mind. Hmm, you think it’s useless to ask unknowable questions like whether there’s a God, whether he’s married to another God, or whether given an eternity to grow after death all good people could achieve godhood. But all that pales before your true concerns. Denial doesn’t suit you, Jill. I will make you see.
Ah yes, now you’re staring it in the face. You aren’t Mormon because you’ve got a secret. It solves nothing to repress your own nature, Jill. No matter how much you try to block it from your mind, your secret stays with you. You hide it from family, from your colleagues at Harding Elementary, from anyone who might get close enough to find out that you’re a monster. Chapel is out of the question. You don’t need a community, nor the scrutiny that comes with it. Still, your heart betrays you. It cries out for a companion, someone who won’t judge. Maybe someone who could share in your…um…interests.
But vetting a companion is hard. Never forget that. You can’t get close to just anyone. Sure, your colleagues wander in and out of the teachers’ lounge, chit-chatting, trying to get to know their mysterious co-worker. But that doesn’t make them trustworthy. If they found out, it would be all over. You have to be discerning, Jill. Can’t just open your mouth and invite someone to the apartment, after all.
“Wanna hang out at my apartment after work?” Oh God. You just blurted it out. What have you done?
“Sure!” said Nuar.
Slipped up. Got too impulsive. Allowed your heart to steal away your good judgment. It’s wishful thinking. Yeah, Nuar used to team teach with you; she seemed open minded enough. But no. Jill, you need to get a hold of yourself. Nuar seems nice, I know you want this bad. But what if she saw…
“We’ll meet up in the parking garage. You can follow me back to my place.”
HALT THIS MADNESS.
Jill, let’s be reasonable. I feel for you, really I do. But what will Nuar think when she gets to your apartment and finds out what you really are? The world isn’t made for people like you. Oh God, JILL, what are you doing?
|# ? May 14, 2015 05:51|
Some judgeburps for secrets week.
I'm just going to do the stories about which I feel like I have something interesting to contribute. I will burp for anyone else that requests it from that week.
Ironic Twist - Wake
Your words sparkle, though perhaps not quite as brightly as normal. This is still enough for your sentences to be the best of the week, and not by a small margin. I loved the way the light reflected off the ice tied the two main scenes together. Also it dealt with the sordid subject matter in a dispassionate but sensitive way, avoiding being overly sentimental.
I was a little confused by the ending. I do think that it had to be a very open ending to work, but I think you can do that while still making the blocking work a bit better. It was the stuff with the brother that left me a bit "what happened when here?"
Sadistech - Pyre
I mainly want to talk about the structure of this story. I liked the idea- I think a story divided into headings by this guy's code of ethics could be an extremely effective means of telling a story. I didn't like the execution at all- I think that the code speaks for itself a lot of the time, and that the words under the headings should have related more directly to actions of the main character. Your links don't have to be so literal for this to work.
I like that you took a risk here. Maybe GP's story from the previous week is an example of a story that uses a similar structure incredibly well. Your idea was more ambitious, but you didn't come close to pulling it off. (also just read that story because I think it is my second favourite TD story ever).
Paladinus - Circle of Lies
To be honest I think there would be a lot of weeks where this wouldn't lose, but that doesn't mean it isn't terrible. The plot was hard to understand, and then when I understood it I actually thought less of the story.
What I really hated about the story was the dialogue. It was really expected and sappy, which is a particularly bad crime when so much of the story is told this way. Here's an example: ‘Such behaviour won’t be tolerated, young man’, said Oscar in a stern voice, ‘Maybe it’s time for you to learn there’s no Father Christmas. You get presents from your parents and you should be grateful for whatever you get.’
I mean are there really people that talk like this? And if there are, are they the kind of people we want to read stories about? No- they're boring poo poo people.
Okay I will do some more of these but now I'm going to go read more.*
*good things, not TD
|# ? May 14, 2015 10:04|
Many thanks for the crits on my story, it was probably more than a little bit beneath all of you. I appreciate that you took the time to give very insightful critiques that I can use in the future.
|# ? May 14, 2015 12:20|
Well what can you expect with a name like hubris.height
Cache cab 2.0
Like somebody thought "i also want to be an idiot on the internet" and then registered a name that is literally "biggest ego"
oh, beneath us, not beneath you. that's what you get when you read SA on your phone just after waking up. you really need to work on your phrasing!
crabrock fucked around with this message at 14:03 on May 14, 2015
|# ? May 14, 2015 12:23|
There's a ghost in our apartment and I'm the only one who has to suffer. My husband leaves early in the morning and takes the last train home, so he's spared by it.
"If you're bothered by it, why don't you find a real job?" he tells me over breakfast, in which he would display his superpower of being able to talk with toast in his mouth.
"This is a real job!" I snapped. On a good day I could easily make double his daily wage. But I can't, because there's someone who rearranges my closet, unplugs our appliances when not in use, and does the dishes.
And I can't stand that, especially the last one; I like doing the dishes. But the ghost would do them once I leave the kitchen, leaving a spotless, sparkling array of dishes on the rack.
Next thing it does is sort out my laptop's files. My work directory is a mess, but I can find whatever I need because it's mine. All my drawings got sorted alphabetically, each revision numbered in a neat naming scheme. Whoever this ghost is, he or she doesn't have a single creative bone in their body. No chaos in one's soul, no dying star, etcetera etcetera.
I tell this to my husband as he goes to bed with me. "You should be thankful," he says.
"It's freaky and I hate it!" I say. But he snuggles with me and everything is all right, until the morning comes and he's waking me up for breakfast, toast in his mouth.
"I think you should confront the ghost," he says.
I stare at the ripples of my tea. "But it's a ghost, who knows what it'll do to me?"
"Or maybe it's not a ghost..."
"The heck it's not!"
My husband gobbles up the toast. "You could install a camera."
"Uh... I read about that guy who did that and he learned that a homeless woman was living in his cupboard. I don't know which one is sadder, a homeless person or a ghost."
He shoves toast in my mouth. "Eat." I do. It's delicious; he always makes good toast, despite not being able to cook otherwise.
"Can't you do anything about it?"
He hesitates by the door. "Only if you can't. I'm off."
"See you later!" I call after him with a tinge of anger. I pass the kitchen and go to our bedroom, where my laptop is sitting on a breakfast table. I draw until lunchtime and arrive at the kitchen to see the sink empty.
The hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I feel another presence in the room.
"Who's there?" I ask. There's no audible reply, but I feel the presence shift, circling me like a predator.
|# ? May 14, 2015 13:34|
Chester Bold, boy inventor, woke amidst the carnage in Lab 7C. All around him were bodies with clutching, disfigured limbs and horrified expressions on their faces. “Gosh,” he thought, and for a second it was all he could think, the words seeming to echo in his brain. For Chester, being unable to think more than one thought at a time was a rarity.
He could see Johnson, his security specialist and bodyguard, and Phillips, the 7C section director, sprawled amidst all the bodies. The place was a mess. It was as if some artist, of the type Chester never appreciated (for his mind was scientific, not artistic) had splattered red paint over the lab as if in some ideological protest against progress. But, Chester realized, that was not what had happened here. It’s The Experiment, he thought. It’s escaped.
Bold had always had a knack for inventing, and by the age of twelve had his own corporation and series of laboratories built deep underground, for secrecy. His ideas, admirers were saying, would keep America at the top, ahead of those Ruskies and other foreign powers. But for Chester, wireless toasters and holographic radios weren’t enough. He had always dreamed of creating life, the invention that itself could invent.
He had literally dreamed of it. He had seen, in chaotic slumbers, beautiful tentacles spiralling out from the center, a pulsing cube with bulging veins. It had spoken to him, but whenever he woke up he couldn’t remember what it had said. One night he had kept a notebook next to his bed, and struggled to write its message down through the morning fugue. “A CONSTANT SADNESS buggy like starwebs A PHANTOM PAIN,” read the hasty scribblings on the page, before his writing devolved into scratches so disordered that even Chester, with his reading level too high to even measure, could not make them out. Since that day he had been obsessed with talking to it with all his senses intact.
So he had built it, following genetic plans that his brain seemed to know instinctively. He had kept it a secret from anyone except for the workers in 7C; it was impossible to hide the fact that he was working on something, and their loyalty was such that they could be trusted absolutely. But when they asked him about it, he still downplayed its importance. “Just a side project for myself, just taking a break from the grind,” he said, and they let it go at that. If they noticed he would spend days in that room sometimes, they let that go too. Because Chester had already cured forty-five mortal diseases that year alone, and so he could do whatever he liked at this point.
He picked himself up off the floor, and began to follow the trail of death.
|# ? May 14, 2015 17:24|
The heavy tower doors slammed shut, and Etain was alone in the Obsidian Crucible. The room looked big enough to accommodate a crowd of belligerent giants, and Etain had to admit the walls made entirely of black volcanic glass were pretty intimidating. But it wouldn’t do to start shaking in her boots on the very first level of the trial.
Which begged the question: how did she get up to the next floor? The room didn’t have an obvious exit. Which was probably the point. Etain whispered an incantation, and gathered what meagre, ambient light there was into one bright ball in her right hand. The obsidian glittered darkly when she shone her magic torch around the room. Pretty, but not helpful.
She was the last person in her training cadre to do the final test--the Crucible--and there were whispers that she didn’t have what it took to be a licensed wizard. It was one thing to read about lateral cognitophysics, it was quite a different thing to--
“They let you take the test but I wasn’t good enough?” The intruder was a young woman, slightly older than Etain.
Before Etain could ask how’d she’d manage to enter the tower without a sound or whiff of magic, the woman bounded across the room and disappeared into the floor. Etain trotted over to the place where the woman had fallen out of sight. The hole was black as oblivion itself, and in the dim light was almost indistinguishable from the dark glass around it.
Etain dropped down the hole before she had time to second guess herself. A current of magic slowed her descent. Then everything palpably flipped. She was upside down and rising feet-first, faster and faster. Her magical elevator spat her high into the air in a brightly lit room, and only a frantic incantation saved her from landing face-first on the marble floor.
“That was graceless. Go back while you can still give up,” the strange woman said before she disappeared through the wavering membrane of a portal. The world on the other side was a blur of leafy green and mud brown. Etain shook her hair out of her eyes. She was at the center of a circular room lined with portals. Going on the vague shapes and colors, some of them seemed to lead to rooms or interior spaces, while others hinted at caves or rolling terrain.
If Etain’s rival was a reject wizard, there was no reason to think she’d chosen the right portal. How to pick?
The strange woman burst back through the portal with a roar of magic and a complicated litany of profanities. A massive, three-taloned hand pushed into the room after her and groped around, a blind monster feeling for its prey. One of its claws grazed the stranger, knocked her flat on her back.
Etain raised both hands and hurled white-gold fire at the portal.
|# ? May 14, 2015 19:03|
“He does smell quite bad, doesn't he?”
Those were the words that Clavius had heart the most often in the past few days. They weren't directed at him, no, but that didn't help much. He motioned for his slave to follow him, something he had done so often he could swear his wrist couldn't take it anymore. And as Clavius and Vicengo stepped outside the trader's mansion, the smell didn't stay far behind.
Clavius took a look another look at his bipedal property and saw those wide, watery bovine eyes staring back at him. While it could be argued that cows made for better company and were possessed with better fragrance, the eyes were what spared Vicengo beatings. Can't really stay mad at the that clump of oily hair, skin and bones staring at you, not with those peepers of his.
Can't sell really sell him, either.
The slave market, mostly quiet in the light afternoon rain, was full living proof Vicengo. All of them smelled better, a good part had the physique of born workers, and others were learned – all qualities that seemed to have evaded Clavius' walking wares.
As they walked down the market of flesh, Clavius' mind raced the streets back to a room in an inn. The relatively clean place contained all of his property – everything wasn't on his back or following behind. Namely, there was a good quality helmet, an fearsome looking suit of armor, a short sword in an unremarkable sheath, four throwing spears (Calvius got a discount) and a bundle of miscellaneous gear. Notably missing was a shield, something he desperately needed to join the legion.
“Join the legion, boys, and I'll make sure you get the same tent. I know a good decanus in need of men” Publius' uncle had said and later that night, in a somewhat sour smelling alley under full, ten somewhat tipsy friends swore to join the legion. All they needed was to buy their gear.
That was three days ago.
All Clavius needed was to get a shield. Unfortunately, that was where his money ran short with only one piece of property left to sell. Vicengo.
Vicengo was left to him by an uncle and a nuisance for most part, but still better than having no slaves. Calvius' friends, however, were much more important. The band was collected over the years, but the core started young, running in the streets, playing with toy swords, annoying traders, gawking at nobles' palanquins. Such childish pursuits were later replaced with running after girls, drinking young wine, throwing dice... Publius was the first one to get into any adventure, so he was, unsurprisingly, the one who initiated the whole legion idea. And then there was Marcus, who was rarely bested in any scrap, and Severus who was popular with the girls and actually good at writing...
Yet all those friends would march to glory without Clavius; thus he'd fail both his mates and himself both.
|# ? May 14, 2015 19:18|
“Authorization required for entry onto Martian surface.”
Howard finagled with his lanyard to find his scientist badge while his two researcher cohorts tapped their feet impatiently behind him.
“C’mon Howie,” said one, a taller woman named Crissy. “Hurry the gently caress up so we can see our plants.”
“Dead plants, you mean,” came the rather pessimistic quip from the other, a man named David. “I’d put my money on nitrogen deprivation.”
“Stop being so pessimistic, David,” Howard said.
David merely rolled his eyes and said, “I’m still not convinced anyone’s gonna figure out how to grow plants in Martian soil, no matter how much money the idiots back on Earth throw at this contest.”
Crissy growled at David. “But what if you’re wrong and we miss out on the prize just because we have up too soon?”
“Stop bickering,” Howard said as he held up his badge to the panel. A red light bathed all three of them as the computer did its work.
“Identifying… confirming… greetings, Dr. Howard Samuelson, Dr. Crissy Wenton, and Dr. David Spatsky, of Mars Terra Colony 3. Your clearance is approved. Your suits are ready inside this airlock.”
Howard, Crissy, and David walked through the door into the airlock, which quickly shut behind them once they had cleared. As they suited up, Crissy spoke.
“Y’know, we’ve been at this for a while, but I’ve never asked you two fellas what you’d do if we won this contest.”
Howard smiled. “I’d tell them to send it to my wife and kids back home. I’m sure they could use it.”
“Well aren’t you a loving white knight,” David said, scowling, “but it’s never going to happen.”
“Then why do you even bother trying to help us?” Crissy retorted.
David sighed, though his demeanor softened. “I’ve been friends with you two fuckers forever, and I wasn’t going to let you do this crazy poo poo alone.”
Suited up, the three scientists stepped out onto the Martian surface. Their experimental plot was only a couple hundred feet from the entrance, so it did not take them long at all to see the disappointment of their most recent transplants wilted.
“See, told you.”
“Shut the gently caress up, David,” Howie said as he examined the plot. David harumphed and stuck a measuring device into the soil.
“Well, this last effort of incorporating organic material seems to have raised the nitrogen level slightly, so I guess that’s something?” David said with a noncommittal shrug. “You know, I may have an idea here.”
Howard was surprised. “Really? And you’re usually such a spoilsport. Do tell.”
|# ? May 14, 2015 21:08|
After years of searching, Roberta Laksi stood before her sister’s murderer. She tried to imprint his outline into her brain, every crease, every wrinkle. He was seated at an easel facing the sun as it rose over the bay. He clutched a nub of charcoal in sharp bony fingers, using it to make thick, bold strokes on the page. In his left hand he held a rag which he used every so often to smudge and smooth in the image.
She watched him work in silence. He was nearly done. The sunlight glimmered from the corrugated siding of nearby factories by the time he seemed to be satisfied.
At last, he stood and acknowledged her for the first time. “Thank you,” he said, as he pocketed the charcoal. “It’s such a fleeting thing, you know, capturing the way the shadows fall in the early morning.” He continued to talk as she drew her gun, a revolver, awkward and heavy in her hands. “After that, the shadows almost disappear. There’s no light, no dark, no black and white, just gray.” She cocked the gun. “It’s dull, really. I can’t do anything with it after that point.”
She raised the pistol to a level in line with his wispy white head. “I just have one question,” she said. “Why did you do it?”
“Beg pardon?” the old man asked. He scratched under his chin.
“Why did you kill Leslie?”
“Hmm? I’m sorry, I don’t know who you’re...” He looked around, and his eyes fell on the drawing. “Oh!” He picked it up from the easel and turned it towards the light. “I’ve finished another one. It’s got some lovely contrast in it, don’t you think? I do love drawing here. It’s the perfect place to capture the sunrise.”
Roberta felt faint. Had she confronted the wrong man?
No. The aquiline nose and browline were unmistakable, if a bit sagged compared to how they appeared in the old photograph. And Sam had been adamant about this place: the old man came here every day to draw or paint, he said, as the fishing boats left the village. They had spent months together trying to track him down, scouring old travel documents, reading through file records abandoned in dusty government buildings, cross-referencing names and dates.
“Mr. Jackon?” she asked, hoping he would say no, hoping for anything at all but what came next.
The old man squinted at her. “Yes? I’m sorry, do I know you, girl? My memory’s not quite what it used to be, you know. You’ll have to be patient with me.”
|# ? May 14, 2015 21:13|
Untitled Opening (444 words)
Survivor’s Log - Day 7
The escape pod’s reserves finally gave. Much as I’d love to stay curled up inside it, humming loudly and pretend that everything’s alright, I can’t ignore the fact that the food and water synthesisers are offline. I’ll have to file a complaint with BronzeCorp management for going with the “week’s requiem” model. Cheap bastards.
This planet’s atmosphere is breathable, and the pod’s scanners are detecting drinkable water within a ten-mile radius. Guess it’s time for me to put on my big-boy spaceman suit and go on a little expedition.
Expedition didn’t kill me. From what I’ve seen, there’s not much around that could. It’s just wide-open fields, far as the eye can see. With my luck there’s probably some airborne, flesh-eating parasite native to this planet, but I’ll plunge rolling and screaming off that bridge when I get to it.
No signs of other pods or survivors. Not a surprise, considering how sudden the attack was. If I hadn’t already been in the pod cleaning up the leftovers of the Captain’s bender the previous night, I probably would have blown up with the rest of the crew. I caught a glimpse of the enemy ship before the pod’s blast shields went up, and I bet everyone on that beauty’s crew is getting paid more in a month than I’ll ever make in a year.
Maybe I’ll look them up after I get back to civilization. Someone has to wipe down a dreadnaught’s floors, after all.
Tripped over some debris. Even in miscellaneous pieces, it still has that signature BronzeCorp look to it. Hell, might be even prettier in pieces. No sign of our cargo, unfortunately. I figured that my hopes of being rescued might increase if I had something they actually gave a poo poo about. From what I saw of its security measures when I was mopping up the cargo bay after the weekly laser-limbo contest, the drat thing could probably get flung through a sun and come out a-okay. No idea what it does, but knowing my employer, it’ll probably end up causing a death toll higher than all four world wars combined. I can only hope they actually designed it to do that.
Decided to go back to the pod for shelter when night fell. Distress signal’s still broadcasting. Maybe I’ll be lucky.
Survivor’s Log - Day 8
gently caress. I saw the ship from before touching down on the planet, way off in the distance. Seems like they’re looking for something. Don’t think they’ll take any unsolicited job applicants too kindly. I clutch my trusty mop to my chest.
|# ? May 14, 2015 21:16|
Azari wanted nobody and anybody all at once.
He lived in a desert village, where it only rained twice a year and the nearest market was a day’s journey. Every day, the villagers had to sweep back the dunes of charred sand from where they had encroached overnight, flowing over the village walls and through the streets.
Every morning, Azari sat against the front wall of his hut and watched the village women beat and sweep and scatter the sand away with thick straw mats, while he loudly commented to anyone who would listen.
“That Neysa over there,” he’d say, “she’d make a fine wife were it not for that limp. How can a woman take care of a child when she can’t even stand up straight, I ask you? And Ori, you see her, so many spots on her chest and back. Too much time spent playing out in the sun, making kissy-faces at the other boys while the heat dried her skin out like an elephant’s hide. The sun makes wild beasts of them all…” On and on he went, about this woman’s palsy and this woman’s blemish, while constantly pounding a lump of clay in his hands, clay dredged from the bottom of the town’s massive well. Pounding and folding and crumpling.
Yet at night, inside his hut, he prayed to the gods to deliver to him the perfect wife. Azari saw what was left of his vitality disappearing little by little, and out of desperation, he prayed for companionship.
One night, as Azari finished his prayer, he felt a cold breath whisper against his ear. “I’m not a god,” he heard. “But I can help.”
The room suddenly became freezing cold, colder than Azari had ever imagined. Azari clasped his arms around his chest. “Who are you?” he shouted.
“Look,” the voice said. “There.”
Azari looked, then saw.
At the far end of his room was a circular column, a head taller than him and three feet wide. It was made of…something solid, whitish, almost clear but not quite. Azari reached out to touch it, then drew his hand back quickly from the chill it sent through his fingertips. “What is it?”
“Ice,” the voice said. “It won’t melt. Not without fire.”
“What am I supposed to do?” said Azari into the darkness.
“Use the fire to create her,” the voice said. “You are a sculptor at heart.”
Azari felt desert heat rush back into the room. He stood still, watching the column of ice.
Quickly, he grabbed a stick and ran out to one of the oil lanterns outside. He sheltered the burning twig as he re-entered his hut.
Carefully, he held the flame up to the side of the cylinder, and watched as a small patch of ice melted and dripped down the side.
Azari stopped. He thought he had heard something, like a muffled cry—but when he listened again, the wind fell voiceless upon his ears.
|# ? May 14, 2015 21:34|
Untitled Opening, 483 words
“Good luck with the demo, mushroom girl,” Fred said. “Let me know when you’re done. I might be a bit slow getting back, though.” He gave Elle a peck on the cheek after she came out from under the table.
“I hope the grievance thing goes well,” she said, then blushed. She wanted to pretend it was from carrying tubs of mushrooms all across the farmer’s market. If Fred asked why she was so red, she would’ve been hard pressed to lie.
The indoor market was holding a demo, but Elle wasn’t participating. It was such a stupid thing to lie about. She dusted off her knees instead of giving in to the urge to babble.
“The teamsters’ work is never done… Sorry I couldn’t stay.” Fred kissed her nose and left.
With Fred out of the picture, Elle had one last chance to find the wedding band before the winter market building closed for renovations. The ring had vanished between set up and tear down at last week’s market. She had only discovered its disappearance when she had been about to propose to him.
Elle rushed to finish arranging her display. Her customary neighbor arrived just as she settled her cash box on her table.
“Ready for me?” Arlene asked. She sold goat milk soap, so she wasn’t a real competitor. They watched each other’s stands for coffee runs.
“Thank you so much,” Elle gushed. She didn’t want to insult Arlene, but -- what if Elle had to look for hours before finding it? She wasn’t sure how far she could trust Arlene not to pocket some of her sales.
“Oh, I’ve got Davey checking the parking lot, too.”
“Here’s my number if he finds it, just text me,” Elle said. “I’ll be back soon!”
“Good luck.” Arlene gave her two thumbs up, then lit up at the approach of a potential buyer.
Elle had already searched all around the stall while Fred had unloaded the bins. She retraced her steps but found nothing. The ring must have rolled a good ways away. She hadn’t let anyone else know about the ring. First, jerks might find it first, and second, she didn’t want Fred to know. If he found out, her failure would prove that she was ditzy and unreliable.
She ignored the looks from patrons and vendors as she crawled around the floor. The ancient wood floor was riven with deep cracks. They'd collected a good deal of filth and coins over the years. A dollar coin should have been lucky, but today Elle only cursed.
"Not happy to see me?" The market coordinator startled Elle. She squinted at the staffer’s nametag.
"Uh, sorry, Amy," she said. "I'm a little busy right now--"
"I just need last month's rent check from you guys. Arlene didn't see it in your cash box. What are you doing? That's a real safety hazard, y'know."
|# ? May 14, 2015 22:35|
Paxton was overjoyed stepping onto the helicopter. Jeepers, he thought. Father was right about the perks of this internship. A helicopter ride! Already aboard were Dominique, the black girl who was also a new intern at Paul-Fentry Diametrics, and Kyle, their direct supervisor. Kyle had a strange way about him, which made him appear both bored and anxious at the same time. I’ll bet he’s been on helicopters a lot of times, thought Paxton. They idled on the helipad for several minutes before another man boarded, this one white-haired and bespoke-suited.
As they helicopter rose into the air, the older man located the bulky headset stored beneath his seat, fitted them over his ears and only then looked up, squinting under bushy eyebrows at Kyle, Dominique, and Paxton in turn. Paxton started to smile, his instinctual reaction to anything even remotely uncomfortable. Kyle looked like he was going to throw up. Dominique was the first of them to find her own headset under her seat, smirking as the two boys fumbled to follow suit.
“...bloody bastard jumped! Granted that was the idea, but one must want to remember one’s parachute in such cases.” Dominique laughed politely, feeding the older man’s roguish grin. Who was he talking about? I mustn’t ask, Paxton decided. Father always said a man never asks another man to repeat himself. Paxton failed to detect the irony in the fact that his father quoted that phrase at least twice a month.
The man clapped his hands on his knees. “Are we all plugged-in, gentlemen?” Paxton nodded, laughing a bit at nothing. The man glanced at Kyle expectantly, who swallowed, glancing up from the forest rumbling by below. Paxton noticed dark stains spreading out across Kyle’s pale blue shirt as he shifted towards the younger passengers.
“Interns, this is Sir Theodore Louis Fentry, one of the company’s founders. He’s here to--”
Fentry cut in with a wave of his wrinkled hand, but blinked as he clearly forgot Kyle’s name. “That’ll be all, er…”
Fentry grimaced. “Your surname, boy.”
“I-i-it’s H-H-H-Hargrove, sir!” Kyle flushed a deep red, unable to even look at Fentry.
“Thank you, Mr. Hargrove.” His sour expression morphed back into grandfatherly warmth, a coin he’d been flipping since he’d climbed aboard. “Now. Our summer interns. Paxton LaWitte and Dominique… what was it?”
“Yes, of course. Thank you. I’m mostly terrible with names, my dear.” But not with mine, thought Paxton. Father will be proud when I tell him! “I’m sure you’ve heard that our interns emerge at the top of the industry, moving into consultancy positions almost immediately. But what you might not have heard is how we narrow down the pool.” Fentry reached into his inside jacket pocket and pulled out the longest knife Paxton had ever seen. It just keeps going, Paxton marvelled, not yet fully comprehending what was about to happen. Dominique steeled herself, glancing between the three men wide-eyed; she understood perfectly.
|# ? May 14, 2015 23:43|
When Ezekiel awoke, he found himself looking up at an ocean where the sky should be. Its furious waves beat at clustered stalactites far above his head, scattering a foamy, salty spray into the air. It seemed to hang in the space between ocean and Zeke for a long time before finally raining down on his bruised and swollen face. It stung. He coughed and spat a few times as the salt burned deep into all the tiny cuts across his face and neck. The throbbing pain in his skull and the painful effort it took to breathe consumed his focus for a few minutes. He was baffled by the skyward expanse of seawater until he saw a crumpled body among the "stalactites," with a mess like a smashed currant where its head should be, and a length of rope with frayed ends wrapped around its feet.
I must be hanging upside-down, he thought. He turned his head down to the sky above him. Frayed rope, knotted so tightly around his ankles he couldn't feel his feet anymore, seemed to extend forever to some unknown point on the cliff face. The land was as far above his feet as the ocean was beneath his head. Zeke's heart began to rattle as he realized that the shredded body on the rocks below was a herald of his own future. He relaxed his neck, and his brain spun around in his skull again as his eyes settled back on the body. With its head split open like that, Zeke couldn't even recognize the poor bastard, but he was dressed like a fellow sailor from the Blackadder. Then he noticed two more bodies a few yards past, one on top of the other. That one on top was Lathan. He couldn't see the one on the bottom, or see if it still had a face to even recognize. Both were dead, both almost certainly Blackadder crew.
The sight of his crewmate's dead face, twisted in terror, made Zeke tremble. This only further swayed the rope suspending him between life and death, so he turned his face back down to the sky and tried to concentrate on breathing. How had they ended up here? The last thing Zeke remembered was...
At that moment, a familiar face peered over the cliffside, followed by a hand grasping at Ezekiel's rope.
"Brody!" Zeke cried, "Brody!" It was a relief just to see a living crewmate, even if he and the cabin boy hadn't always been on the best terms.
Brody froze at the recognition. His hand tightened on the taut rope, and he dragged himself forward on his belly to get a better look at Zeke's face.
"Zeke," he responded. "I didn't think you'd be conscious."
His voice wavered with emotion, but there was no kindness in it.
Ezekiel realized there was something in Brody's other hand: a cutlass.
This was no rescue.
|# ? May 14, 2015 23:52|
|# ? Dec 3, 2022 12:00|
about 3.5 hours left to submit between 400-500 word openings for this week.
|# ? May 15, 2015 00:22|