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Lake Jucas
Feb 20, 2011

WHAT OF OUR BARGAIN?

Guess what goons, I'm back!

What? Don't remember. I don't give a poo poo. Get ready to be wrecked this round. I guess I'll be fair and take a handicap: flash-rule me, powers-that-be.

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ADBOT LOVES YOU

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Le Woad posted:

I'm in! I'll always remember my first time.

not if it kills you

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007

JUST POSTING WHILE JERKIN' MY GHERKIN SITTIN' IN A PERKINS!

BEATS SELLING MERKINS.


Fun Shoe

crabrock posted:

not if it kills you

what if you become a ghost huh huh how about that uncle crabrock

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Lake Jucas posted:

Guess what goons, I'm back!

What? Don't remember. I don't give a poo poo. Get ready to be wrecked this round. I guess I'll be fair and take a handicap: flash-rule me, powers-that-be.
Your characters bet on something you wouldn't usually think to bet on.

Masonity
Dec 31, 2007

What, I wonder, does this hidden face of madness reveal of the makers? These K'Chain Che'Malle?


I'm in. I have only entered a couple of times before, and they have ranged from terrible to barely passable, so hopefully this time I'll manage merely mediocre!

Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


In. I'd like a flash rule, too -- hit me hard.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


Benny Profane posted:

In. I'd like a flash rule, too -- hit me hard.
A classic game gets a terrifying twist.

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Modern worldly poster

docbeard posted:

Because I am a merciful soft touch or something, I will allow for an extension of 24 hours. Best make it worth my while.

... this is not what making it worth my while means.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









docbeard posted:

... this is not what making it worth my while means.

ban the motherfuckers

- the :toxx:ecutioner

Fausty
May 16, 2014

"Flowers!"
"Is there a
John Luck Pickerd
here?"


Between Friends
Word Count: 1448

“It smells of horse rear end back here,” Martinus Auxentius grumbled loudly. He looked off the road toward the seemingly endless plains of golden crop scattered around the empire. Stalks of wheat and barley blew lightly in the wind and glowed in the beating sun. The narrowing stream to their right caught Martinus’ gaze. He hadn’t drunk in over a day. In the hot Roman sun, no less. He licked his cracked lips, imagining the cold and refreshing water moistening them.

“And just what the gently caress are we supposed to do about that?” one of the two centurions mocked. The man looked over his shoulder at their hand-tied prisoner, roped to both the horses’ necks. Martinus was sweating profusely; it dripped from his chin and hair. His feet nearly slipped from his sandals, causing him to stumble briefly before catching himself. That was twice then. The centurion looked back at his riding companion. “Aulus, I need to piss.” Martinus looked up suddenly at the words, eyeing the second centurion.

Aulus Hermanus sighed and pulled the reins taut. “We’re stopping here, prisoner!” he yelled over his shoulder. He looked back at his fellow escort before continuing, “Glaucia here cannot control his loving bladder apparently.” He watched as the man awkwardly dismounted his horse, falling roughly on his feet with a puff of dirt. Aulus only shook his head, groaning inwardly at the sight.

Glaucia quickly waddled past Aulus’ horse toward the stream. Martinus watched him till he was only feet from the water. He shuffled in between the horses, making sure that he wouldn’t sneak up on the lone mounted centurion.

Aulus looked down at the prisoner and spoke, “What is it? You need to piss, too?”

“Aulus,” he said, smiling, “It’s me, Martinus. We grew up in Carthage by Byrsa hill.”

Aulus’ eyes narrowed as he stared down at the Prisoner. It was difficult, but he could definitely see the familiar face behind the long, black beard and dirtily ragged hair. “Oh, poo poo,” Aulus spoke lower, trying to avoid the attention of his pissing partner, “It’s been a long time, Martinus. What the gently caress did you do to get tied up like this?”

Martinus was silent for a moment then spoke quickly, “Things aren’t well back home. I was caught stealing bread from a market wagon. Laelia, my wife; she received ten lashes for eating the bread, and I was arrested.”

“loving hell,” Aulus sighed. “Things are getting fairly poo poo around here. And fairly quickly, too.” He looked at the stream; Glaucia was still pissing. How in the gently caress? he wondered.

“Hey,” Martinus hurriedly spoke. Aulus looked back and down at him with a raised brow. “For old time’s sake?” He smiled, continuing, “I bet my freedom that if you were to cut these ropes, I could run away and your friend over there wouldn’t even be able to chase after me on horseback.” His smile twisted into a cunning smirk.

Aulus laughed to himself, bouncing on the horse’s back. “Just what exactly do I get if you fail?”

Martinus was quick to answer, “A prisoner and the happiness of the loving Caesar.”

Aulus peered at his childhood friend through slitted eyes. He pondered, not whether or not it was a wise idea; he knew it wasn’t, but he wondered more on what his excuse would be when he returned to the capital without his prisoner. No, Rome’s prisoner, he reminded himself. He drew in his breath deeply. They’ll never know that I cut him free. Besides, who’d care? He’s just a thief, he thought.

“gently caress it,” he said. He drew his gladius from its sheath with the familiar dull shuffling of blade against leather. “Hold your arms out,” he whispered. Martinus had his hands displayed in front of Aulus. He pushed the blade against his wrists, motioning them to move further apart. He then raised the sword above his shoulder and sliced downward into the rope, cutting it in half in one swift motion.

Martinus smiled graciously at Aulus and nodded. He walked past the horse, toward the stream. He held his arms wide and back, stretching. He was walking toward the still pissing centurion. Jupiter’s cock, he’s gone mad! Aulus thought.

Martinus quietly kicked away his sandals. The soft lush grass was heaven to his aching feet. He could hear the stream more clearly now and it brought a smile to his face to hear the trickling water so loudly. Slowing and muffling his footsteps, he stepped behind Glaucia. He stood there for a few seconds, eyeing the oblivious soldier.

He quickly reached for the gladius and yanked it from its sheath with a harsh upward motion. The blade struck and cut Glaucia’s underarm, causing him to yelp in pain. He twisted around, gripping the wound. His flap fell just in time as well. He looked at Martinus, his face contorting from the pain and outright confusion. His eyes shifted to the sword; its edge was lined with blood.

“What the? How the gently caress did you--” Glaucia’s words were cut short by the blade being plunged squarely into his chest, going straight through his leather armor. Martinus let go of the sword and shoved Glaucia by the shoulders into the stream. His struggling body splashed into and through the water, slamming onto the rocky bottom. He could feel the sword dislodge itself from the wound and his warm blood rush from it.

Aulus watched in shock from a distance. The bastard! he thought, What the hell have I done? I’ve set a murderer free! He couldn’t make himself move to help Glaucia. His frozen hands wouldn’t whip the reins and he cursed himself under his breath.

Martinus stepped into the stream and stood over Glaucia. His body was trembling and he couldn’t tell if he was crying or if it was just the water that occasionally rushed over his face. Wispy strands of blood snaked from his leather armor and down the stream.

Martinus looked up and back at Aulus. “I guess there may have been a few details I left out! Sorry, Aulus!” He turned away and left the stream, walking toward the plains. He knew Aulus wouldn’t follow him.

#

Aulus stood in a wide, domed room lined with polished wooden bleachers. In front of him, the court’s altar and behind it, the three judges who would decide his fate. Few men sat in the surrounding seating, watching the hearing.

The middle judge, short and stocky and wearing a gold trimmed toga spoke with deep authority, “Aulus Hermanus, you stand before the Tribunal of Rome accused of cutting a prisoner free. The aforementioned prisoner being Martinus Auxentius, murderer and thief. Only moments after cutting him free, he struck down Glaucia Sabinus, your fellow rider and fellow centurion of His Caesar’s army and you did nothing.” He stood from behind the altar and looked down at Aulus. “How do you plead?”

Aulus breathed in deeply then cleared his throat. He looked into the judge’s eyes and spoke, “Guilty.”

The judge grinned maliciously and sat back down. The three men exchanged a series of whispers, filling the court with hissing. Silence fell and the middle judge looked back at Aulus. “Which hand did you use to cut Martinus free?”

Aulus knew what was coming and was quick to lie, “My left.”

The judge spoke loudly as he stood, “Guards! Refrain Hermanus and take him outside.”

Aulus closed his eyes and let the guards drag him away. When he felt the sunlight bleed through his eyelids, he opened them and saw the platform with tens of people standing audience to his coming punishment. The guards took him to the front of the platform and set him on his knees. They stood at his sides, each with a hand holding him down.

The three judges walked proudly from the court. One short and fat and obviously in charge. The two skinnier judges followed shortly behind. The round one motioned the guards to drag Aulus to the middle of the platform as he walked to the frontal edge of the stage, swollen hands clasped behind his straightened back. He spoke to the growing crowd, “The man on this stage has been found guilty of setting a murderer and thief free, setting his riding partner’s fate in stone. A fate that left his family without a husband and father, mind all of you. And so, because the guilty has pleaded as such, we will spare his life.” He took a long breath and spoke loudly, announcing the sentence, “Off with his right hand!”

He looked over his shoulder, smirking at Aulus, “We can’t have a gimp farmer without his most useful tool.”

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Modern worldly poster

sebmojo posted:

ban the motherfuckers

- the :toxx:ecutioner

Be a bit of a dick move to hold them to it now.

I suppose this can be taken as a lesson about mercy and why you shouldn't.

blue squares
Sep 28, 2007


In

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.






docbeard posted:

Be a bit of a dick move to hold them to it now.

I suppose this can be taken as a lesson about mercy and why you shouldn't.

You were more than fair. They toxxed to complete their drat story and post AND you gave them an extension.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









Mercedes posted:

You were more than fair. They toxxed to complete their drat story and post AND you gave them an extension.

You're drat right.

Docbeard imma just grab the mic out of your limp nerveless hand for a moment:

:siren:Guts and bolts and blue wher you are both loathsome. You had a chance to show your quality and instead you both shat your pants and ran away to hide. You are both losers, and the next two times you do anything in the dome you will need to have a :toxx: stamped on it, all glistening in the blood red sunset DO YOU HEAR ME this is a flash geas and there is no escaping it :siren:

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 08:17 on Jun 6, 2015

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


In for this week.

blue squares
Sep 28, 2007


blue squares posted:

:siren: Twist and Jonked brawl :siren:

What happens when you Twist a Jonked? This:


You two will write a story in which your hero belongs to one genre (Western, Sci-Fi, Horror, Romance, etc.,) and is suddenly thrust into a different genre and must save the day.

Maximum wordcount: 2,000
Deadline: June 10, 11:59 PM Central Standard Time, because Texas, that's why.


Go hog wild. Remember, all brawls automatically come with :toxx:

Someone is going to need to take over and judge this because I'm done with Thunderdome. Adios.

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!







blue squares posted:

Someone is going to need to take over and judge this because I'm done with Thunderdome. Adios.

um.... ok ill do it

also Jonked and Ironic Twist im changing the deadline to 11:59 PST because gently caress texas, same date, same prompt, same word count, different timezone

flerp fucked around with this message at 03:03 on Jun 6, 2015

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Entries are closed

We have nearly 30 entrants, including six toxxers. Do not fail

Thranguy fucked around with this message at 07:05 on Jun 6, 2015

Jonked
Feb 15, 2005


Broenheim posted:

um.... ok ill do it

also Jonked and Ironic Twist im changing the deadline to 11:59 PST because gently caress texas, same date, same prompt, same word count, different timezone
I am irrationally upset and angry about this to the point of madness.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Jonked posted:

I am irrationally upset and angry about this to the point of madness.

Next thread title

Blue Wher
Apr 27, 2010

The Smart Baseball Dargon Sez:

"Baseball is chaos!"

His bat is signed by Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski


sebmojo posted:

You're drat right.

Docbeard imma just grab the mic out of your limp nerveless hand for a moment:

:siren:Guts and bolts and blue wher you are both loathsome. You had a chance to show your quality and instead you both shat your pants and ran away to hide. You are both losers, and the next two times you do anything in the dome you will need to have a :toxx: stamped on it, all glistening in the blood red sunset DO YOU HEAR ME this is a flash geas and there is no escaping it :siren:

I haven't even really been online for the past 48 hours or so. Trying to catch up on things now. Sorry for missing, but that seems harsh ;_; Dammit guts

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.






Blue Wher posted:

I haven't even really been online for the past 48 hours or so. Trying to catch up on things now. Sorry for missing, but that seems harsh ;_; Dammit guts

You got seriously loving lucky.

skwidmonster
Mar 31, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Blue Wher posted:

I haven't even really been online for the past 48 hours or so. Trying to catch up on things now. Sorry for missing, but that seems harsh ;_; Dammit guts

Come on dude, gently caress you. You're lucky you even got mercy, not only did you get your toxx waived but you got an extension and STILL flubbed. I mean, I know I don't have the greatest track record, but at least I always turn loving SOMETHING in.

You know what, I'm pissed off at you, blue wher, you wriggled your way out of a brawl and managed to bitch about it anyway. Let's go, you and me, a legitimate brawl with a :toxx:. Any hardass judges wanna crack down on a couple of procrastinators?

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


skwidmonster posted:

Come on dude, gently caress you. You're lucky you even got mercy, not only did you get your toxx waived but you got an extension and STILL flubbed. I mean, I know I don't have the greatest track record, but at least I always turn loving SOMETHING in.

You know what, I'm pissed off at you, blue wher, you wriggled your way out of a brawl and managed to bitch about it anyway. Let's go, you and me, a legitimate brawl with a :toxx:. Any hardass judges wanna crack down on a couple of procrastinators?

I got this if BlueWher accepts. Which he should, because at least it gets rid of one of his mandated toxxes and lets him partially redeem himself.

SkaAndScreenplays
Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica


I've been in and out of the hospital this week, I know I failed last week and :toxx:'d this week, but can I submit late for a DQ instead? I've got everything outlined and maybe 300 words handwritten but I won't be able to get in front of a computer again until 10:00CST Tonight.
I'd have it in by 6:00AM CST Monday Morning.

(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)

Hocus Pocus
Sep 7, 2011



Djeser posted:

A bet between a human and a non-human animal.

Sardines and Sunny Afternoons
1,500 words

The little girl stared over her shoulder with a sneer so rough it must have been on exchange from a correctional facility.

She had her chopsticks unsettlingly close to her eyes. While the bowl in her other hand tilted closer and closer to losing its guts.

“Sarah!”

“Daddy!” She turned away from the window to face her father across their unit’s only table. It was a dining table, an office space, a crafts station, and storage facility. Even now Sarah’s glass of lemonade was sitting on some bills, and butting up against a cricket trophy. Just one of a burgeoning stable of primary school awards.

“Would you please point those chopsticks away from your face. It’s making me extremely anxious.”

Sarah lowered the chopsticks, straightened her bowl, and forced a smile so charged it probably had a voltage.

“And what were you gawkin’ at with that scary look on your face?” Her dad said, trying to look past Sarah out the window.

He had Buckley’s. Like how a chicken can run with its head perfectly still, Sarah could do the opposite. Her head darted around like a soccer goalie chained to a boulder, blocking her dad’s view. It took just about falling off his chair to get a look.

“I knew it!” He slapped the table.

“You know what, daddy, I really think you’ve outdone yourself tonight,” Sarah nodded her head compulsively, smacking her lips. “Its really yum. Changed something?”

“Uh-uh, Sarah, not biting this time. You need to stop this obsession with that cat!”

The cat in question was on the driveway just outside their window. Playing a kind of feline patty-cake with a kid from the neighbourhood. This cat had become a bit of a celebrity in their suburb.

Its coat had a weightlessness and a shade of black like a winter night’s sky. The green of its eyes made jewellers weep and throw their emeralds down stormwater drains. It was a beautiful cat.

Not some shallow cat born with a silver saucer though. It had no owner, lived on the streets, but still treated every stranger like it was their childhood moggy. It could fetch, count, and even play a keyboard with surprising conviction. It was a gifted and humble cat.

Sarah was not a huge fan.

“Its mean.” She spat through a mouthful of noodles.

“I don’t even know what to say to that, Sarah. Its a stray, you just have to give it... space.” Sarah’s dad trailed off with a groan, and gestured like he was shooing a fly.

Ever since Sarah had first met this spectacular cat it had upstaged her at every opportunity.

There was the egg and spoon race at her cousin’s birthday. Should have been in the bag according to Sarah. But at the last minute the cat came tumbling across finish line from nowhere, wrassling with an egg. Sarah could still hear the coos and laughter of her family. She’d practiced the day before.

Or just the other week when Sarah was playing hide and seek at recess and of course the cat had to spoil that too. It’d been months since she’d been found in a game. Classmates had even accused her of cheating. She hadn’t though. She was just an excellent hider. Had potential to go pro, teacher said. The cat was somehow deputised into the game. Sarah rolled her eyes and scoffed, if they want to find me, they’ll need a whole pack of bloodhounds, not some stupid cat. It wasn’t even halfway through recess when she heard the scratching and meowing at the other side of the maintenance shed door.

The icing on the cake of her misery, however, was the school fete bake off.

“Sarah you should really try one of the cat’s madeleines. You know there’s no shame in a red ribbon, right? In fact, I think most people would say that that's pret-ty impressive.” Sarah’s dad was right. She’d even beat out some adult competition. But second place felt like last. Baking was something her dad taught her. It felt like she’d let him down.

“They’re dry.” She mumbled, sniffling. Her dad knelt down.

“Sorry sweetie?” He wiped her eyes.

“Its cakes. They’re dry.” She sniffed.

“Oh sweetheart, my baby girl,” he said as he pulled his daughter in for a hug, “you know that’s not true.” He was a dear man, but honest to a fault - the madeleines were delicious.

***

It was a sunny afternoon on a car ride home from football practice when Sarah hatched her plan. When they got home she grabbed some tinned sardines and headed outside. She marched over to a group of friends playing with the cat, wearing her penitentiary face.

“I need to talk to you,” the circle opened and turned to Sarah, she stared down the cat, “alone.” The group started to go, “oh sorry, you guys should actually listen too.”

It was more a simple wager than a plan. If she won, the cat would stop stealing her thunder. To lose, however, meant Sarah leaving a dish of sardines out every morning for the the cat. She got the idea for their competition at football practice: they were going to play marks up. Someone would throw a sardine across the street, where the cat and Sarah would race to catch it. Sardines were the only thing Sarah figured the cat would bother to chase. A football seemed a touch unfair.

The deck was stacked in Sarah’s favour, but a part of her knew this could be a real gamble. A can a day would really eat into her pocket money.

She briefed the group, who took their places. Sarah and the cat on one side of the road, her friends on the other. The first sardine was tossed. A slow lob. With a powerful start and arms flailing like a cut snake, Sarah snatched the fish.

“Ha ha! Got it!” She grinned, sardine in hand. But the cat wasn’t paying attention. It hadn’t even moved. It was just sitting, with regal airs, washing its paw. You couldn’t call it a contest if your opponent didn’t even try.

“Hey, furball,” the cat’s ears pricked, “how about a can for every time you catch one? Best of three.” It faced her, closed its eyes and purred.

Sarah should have known it was over at that second throw. The cat was just a brush stroke against the street’s canvas. Black ink flicked from a calligrapher’s brush. Fast and beautiful. It leapt high and caught the fish with ease.

Best of three quickly became best of five, and then best of seven, and on until the afternoon was on its last legs. Sarah was exhausted. But she was even more stubborn.

“Double,” she took a deep breath, “or nothing. Two cans a day!” This was her last chance. She couldn’t keep going, but she maybe could dig deep for a final charge.

The wind slowed, and stepped around her. She took a long breath. Her mind was a quiet stream.

Sarah’s legs fired like pistons as the last fish took flight. What were metres when she felt she could step over mountains? What were seconds when time stopped around her? Balance, grip, and exhaustion were all left in the gutter. She was finally going to beat the cat. She traced the arc of the sardine and her body shifted and muscles coiled, jump ready. It felt mechanical. It felt efficient. Beat the cat. It was close now.

One last powerful step sent her airborne. Her body tried desperately to hang on to her arm, as it launched like a rottweiler after the fish. Her hand snapped shut like a bloodthirsty jaw.

Something was wrong. She couldn’t feel anything in her hand. She’d missed it. Suddenly metres seemed impossible, and seconds raced away like lemmings. She was falling. She looked down, saw the cat beneath her. It looked up, eyes wild, but there wasn’t any time.

Sarah’s body slapped against the bitumen and tumbled a short distance. She’d missed the cat, just, but had taken a fall to do it. Everything happened so quick that pain was on delay. But it caught on fast, and tears welled up in Sarah’s eyes.

She heard voices call from the across the road, “did she do it, did she catch it?” No, she thought, but at least I didn’t land on that stupid cat. It wouldn’t have been much of a win if I’d hurt that stupid, cute cat.

Something cold and wet touched her hand. Sarah opened her eyes and watched the cat oh-so delicately place down a fish. She pet the cat and smiled, it closed its eyes and purred.

“Look in her hand! She caught it!” Sarah was suddenly crowded by her smiling friends.

Sprinklers sounded off and the warm setting sun cast the wet bitumen alight. Sarah watched as the cat trotted away happily down the street. A black mirage on a river of gold.

hubris.height
Jan 6, 2005



Pork Pro

Djeser posted:

A hero with a tragic flaw, fated to lose this wager, but fighting to overcome that fate.

The Rascal Mayor
1553 words
“I don’t like the odds, Frank,” He looked up from the flimsy paper and at the other man, standing with a paper of his own in his hand, “Horse races sound are some risky business. You’ve been getting into a lot of risky business lately.”

“Look trust me, and we both get rich,” came his hushed reply, from behind darting eyes.

“I really don’t have any reason to trust you on this. It’s gambling.” He looked down at Frank with disbelief in his eyes.

Frank looked insulted for a moment, and then shook his head and held open his hand, “Just trust me on this, Clarence. I can feel it. Why the hell else did you come out here?”

Clarence shook his head, and reached into his wallet, produced everything he had – about $300 – and looked at Frank, “You better not screw this up,” he insisted, the bills still clutched in his hand even while he placed them in his friends.

Frank merely winked, grasped the money, and ran to the window, placing a bet for them both. The teller looked at him in disbelief, took the money, and handed him the tickets. “Here you go, sir, good luck – you’ll need it.”

“Thanks.” Frank turned and left, grabbed Clarence, with a sparkle of excitement and anticipation in his eyes, and they made a beeline for seats.

The race started shortly after, and both men watched as the unthinkable happened – the two horses in front fell over halfway through the race. The resulting chaos took out the next few horses, and the 7th place jockey ran out in front, took the lead and won the race. Frank looked at Clarence, smirked in his fashion, and they both left that day richer than before.

*****

“You know why I’m here, Mayor,” came the words of a stocky middle-aged bookie -- a stereotype of himself, down to the suspenders he’d borrowed from his Grandfather; the proto-bookie, no doubt.

Frank looked up from the paper on his desk, the distance in his eyes made him seem awoken from a dream, “Yeah, seemed like a sure bet.”

The mayor, himself a stocky fellow with what can best be described as a noble effort at a comb-over, said in exasperation, “Would that I could, I’d do it again.”

“It was a risky bet, and that is why you’re one of my favorite customers.”

The mayor rose from his chair and snatched a thick manila envelope from the desk from underneath a stack of papers, and slowly walked over to the other man and held it out in front of him, as if it contained severed fingers. “Everyone is wrong once in a while, can’t let it hold you back.”

The bookie simply smiled for a moment at the Mayor, but didn’t move. He just watched the mayor, his eyes watching the Mayor’s face, for the moment they both realized would come next.

“Alright, yeah. Give me the odds,” The Mayor’s burden was taken from his hands as he said this, and he turned around, headed back to his desk, “Or, better yet, just put me down for 50 grand on… Johnsmith.”

“Johnsmith? Yeah, perfect,” the bookie concealed a smile by looking down to jot down the new bet in his ledger. “Anything else?”

The mayor waved a dismissal, and sat back down behind his mahogany desk, rubbing his temples. His bookie saw himself out immediately and shut the door behind him, the whole way his free hand became lodged into his pocket, as if digging for something.

The mayor opened a drawer, pulled out a picture – a picture of him in better times, with a head of hair, with a young daughter and a smiling wife.

A sigh escaped the Mayor’s mouth, and he looked around the empty office. He set the picture down and his hand grasped the desk telephone, and he began slowly dialing. There were two short rings on the other end before the sound of a phone being fumbled across a desk filled the Mayor’s ear.

“Hello?” The voice was startled and seemed more than a little exhausted.

“You need to take a dive,” came the answer, with more than a little tone of pleading within it, “Tonight, when you fight Johnsmith.”

“Uh… What is this a shakedown? Who the hell is this?”

“It’s Frank. You need to take a dive.” The mayor reiterated, not without a tone of exhaustion.

“You’re kidding right? The mob’ll have my head.” The voice in the phone shook imperceptibly, barely a note, at the word ‘mob’.

“I’ll have your head if you don’t take the god-damned dive. How many years have I protected your dog fighting business? You know how hard it is to keep the Sherriff to go on ignoring that kind of obvious infraction during an election year?” The mayor whispered intensely, and his hands started pointing through the air at the ghosts of deals past.

“Look, that isn’t really your problem, is it? You predicted a horse race, and you think that means you can call in a favor every year? You should’ve stopped gambling there.” The voice over the phone sounded like a head being shaken and mostly piteous.

“Besides, I made a deal with the mob years ago; they’ve got my shady dealings controlled in good faith. I’m pretty sure the Sherriff is under their control too,” The voice in the receiver had gained confidence upon reflecting on this fact, “I needn’t remind you that I covered for you during your first election, too. Was there anything else, Mayor?”

“Look, we’ve known each other for years now, Clarence. Right? I need you to do this for me. I’m not built to keep doing this political poo poo, I want out. This is my chance. My family’s chance. I can start my business with this kind of capital.”

A moment of silence passed on the other end of the phone, and finally the receiver sighed at last, “Look, I’d love to help you. But, you made your bed years ago. Now you gotta sleep in it. I don’t think you’re going to make the transition from Mayor to Entrepreneur, anyway.”

“Fine, if you’re going to do me like that, I guess you’re going to do me like that. I’ll see you around then.” The mayor hung the phone up, gingerly, and stood up.

The day’s light was starting to fade as he left his office, and locked the door behind him. He looked around and confirmed that his secretary and staff had left for the day, all the lights off in the offices except for the dim lights that would lead him outside. He reached into his pocket and looked at his cellphone for a moment, before flipping it open. “Gotta do it the hard way I guess.”

*****

Frank glanced at his watch as he got out of his car, did the math on how long before the match started. It wasn’t but an hour, and as he entered his home and grabbed his mail from the entranceway table, he found his mind troubled. “I’m sure this will work out for me,” he whispered, his confidence failing as the sentence resolved.

His eyes scanned over the envelopes, and a sigh escaped his lips when he saw an envelop from his daughters school. "Bad news or another bill... It can be both."

Moments later he was absorbed into the TV, the match having just started. Every punch sent a reaction into Frank, a twist or turn that he felt as an impact. The first round ended with no clear winner, and the Mayor looking exasperated.

He looked at his watch, and found it had only been a couple of hours since his second phone call, and returned his attention to the TV, the third round starting. Just in time to witness Clarence delivering a punch to Johnsmith that sent him reeling. The younger fighter backed into the corner, and shook it off eventually, and went back in swinging. A moment later, Clarence delivered another punch, with some concentrated effort, for he was looking very much fatigued, as if he had spent the last half hour running nonstop. A little color had drained from his face, and he looked sick. But the hit connected, and Johnsmith fell down like a sack of bricks.

“What the…”

The mayor couldn’t make sense of it – it was a good hook, but it wasn’t the kind that knocks a man out cold, he thought. Then it caught his eye – there was blood coming from Johnsmith’s inner ear, the shaking intensified, and paramedics were rushing to the ring. The match was over – the money was lost. Just as the paramedics picked up Johnsmith, Clarence hit the ground, vomit spattering the ring.

brotherly
Aug 20, 2014

DEHUMANIZE YOURSELF AND FACE TO BLOODSHED


The rear end of the universe
1996 words


If you’re going to bother with a transfiguration, you either go big or you go home. I bunched up my robes and looked down at the canyon full of yellow school busses.

“You don’t have to do this.”

“Shut up, Marney.”

I raised my hands and felt the ether dip around me. The energy was thick and I rolled it up into my palm, roped it around my arms, and began to do the thing. It snaked down along my skin and began to gather in the tip of my simple plastic wand.

That was the stuff. The sort of universe-tapping rush every wizard lived for.

“I love you.”

I looked over at her. She crossed her arms like a mantis.

“Love you too.”

I hoped my beard made it through.


///


“Magic isn’t about changing the world. It’s about figuring out how the world is meant to be, and getting it there.”

I had no clue what he meant. “I get that.”

“It’s about feeling the loving veil of the world, son. It’s about letting that poo poo dip over and take control of you.”

“Language—“ my mom warned.

He looked at her then back at me. He crouched down. Up close, his robes were patched and thin and he smelled like an old milkshake. His beard had dirt crushed between the hairs. I was about ten years old. We had just watched him change a rabbit into a truck and back again without breaking a sweat. People clapped, but people saw street magicians all the time.

“You want to do what I do, son?”

I nodded.

“Then you need to study. And listen to your mom. And don’t be afraid to reach your fist up the rear end of the universe and grab on until it screams.”

“And we’re done,” mom said, steering me away.

He laughed and laughed. Mom didn’t mention him again for five years.


///


Marney didn’t care about magic.

That was part of the draw. She ignored it. She said flying gave her vertigo, teleportation made her puke, and simple housework charms made her lazy. I could harness it all, wrap it up in a bow, and she would just stare at me.

On our first date, I brought her flowers. She answered the door on the second buzz. She was all angles and bones and too-wide eyes. Her dress suggested something. I held out the bouquet, and just before she took them I changed the bunch into a rabbit. She pulled her hand back and stared at it.

“What am I supposed to do with that?” she asked.

“It can be anything you want. Doesn’t have to be a rabbit.”

“I wanted the flowers.”


///


Eventually, mom had to do something about all the rogue magic I kept spewing from my face. I was fifteen, pubescent, pimpled, gangly, and way too powerful for anyone’s good. She dragged me by my Metallica T-shirt, shoved me into a bus, and told me not to come back until I learned something.

I found him standing on a corner wearing his favorite cape. He was still busking, still changing animals into trucks and back again, still reading palms and tea leaves and skull shapes, still playing up to the crowd like they were his best friends.

A lot of people could do magic. But not a lot of people could make it seem fun.

Afterward, when the people dispersed and he was alone counting his change, I approached him. He didn’t recognize me.

“I’m Linda’s kid.”

“Linda’s kid? That makes you, what?”

“Fifteen.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

I worked up the courage. “Will you teach me?”

He paused. I watched him for about five minutes and almost left. Finally, he shrugged his shoulders and spoke.

“Buy me a beer first.”

I said okay.


///


Marney had boyfriends before me. Everyone had boyfriends before me. I was never first or last at anything, but always a middle.

Early on, she told me about Biff. She said he was old money but didn’t act that way. She said he wore Polo shirts like they were his own skin and talked about boating like it was the most natural thing in the world. She said he never mentioned magic but he knew a few spells.

I found out later that he was being modest.

We kept moving forward, Marney and me. I forgot all about Biff when, four months into dating, Marney asked me to move in. I said why not, because I was broke.

“No more charms or transmutations or whatever else you do,” she said as I carried my trunk full of wizarding poo poo up the stairs.

“Why not?”

“This is a no-magic house. This is a boring, normal house.”

“Did your landlord say that?”

She stared at me. “No magic.”

“Okay, okay. No magic in the house.”

She let me unpack.


///


It was slow at first. Most of the time, he used me as a prop in his street shows. He sawed me in half and changed my hair different colors. I was the straight man. I had to pretend to be upset. And, most of the time, I really was. He never rehearsed and he never asked for my permission.

That was one rule all wizards followed: you always asked for permission before using magic on someone else. It was just polite.

But not him. On any given day, I’d be changed into a newt and back again fifty different times before getting any sort of lesson.

And they tended toward the esoteric.

“You have to feel it, you hear? Grab onto it, grab it between your balls and ride it.”

“Ride what?”

“The ether, the magic. You know, the source.”

“Okay.”

“You feel the source, right? You feel it right here.”

He jabbed his dirty fingernails into my sternum. I nodded.

“Good, you got to feel it. Else you’ll never be a real wizard.”

“Are you going to teach me any spells?”

He smiled and shook his head. “Just give it time, kid.”

That’s what he always said, just give it time, kid.


///


I spent my afternoons busking like my dad once did, trying to make enough to keep us in rent and food. It usually didn’t work. But Marney never pressured, never pushed, just let me do my thing. That was her way, I guess. When she wanted something to change, she stayed as far away from it as possible, gave it as much distance as she could, and hoped that the thing would try and grow in the right way toward her.

I knew a few good spells at that point. But that was pretty much it.

“You can’t just let the magic do the talking, kid,” he used to say to me.

My magic was mute. That was my problem. I was all flash and dazzle, capes and smiles. There was no substance to my incantations, no whizz or bang or zazzle or song. When he chanted, he brought the whole house down, and made a show of it. I always made a show of nothing.

Marney never came to watch.

Then, one afternoon, about two years in, she got a call.

I sat on the couch experimenting in my head with a new trick as her whole body went ashen and stiff. That got my attention. When she hung the phone up, I acted as casual as I could.

“Who was that on the phone?”

“That was Biff.”

“Biff? Who’s that?”

“My ex-boyfriend. I told you about him.”

“Is everything okay?”

“He wants to have dinner. With the two of us, I guess.”

“Why?”

“He’s in town. Wants to catch up.”

“I thought you two weren’t that serious.”

“Well, we weren’t.” She paused. “But we did date for three years.”


///


My first cast was embarrassing. I worked my arms in a frenzy, said the words as best I could, and it came out like a potato. I was trying to conjure fire, but could only manage a slight breeze. He laughed and laughed and called it a dud. He told me to try again.

I tried for weeks. I tried and tried and he barely helped. He just kept turning me into a newt when I failed.

Finally, I hit the cadence just right. I knew it as soon as I started. I slipped my fingers into their positions, I said the words, and I felt the pinch in my sternum grow up.
I made fire.

It lit up my whole head ablaze.

My clothes smelled like burnt hair for days.

“But it loving worked, didn’t it?” he said. “It loving worked, more or less.”


///


It was the most expensive place I’d ever been inside of. And it was all on Biff, of course. He shone like a raygun. His teeth were too white. His clothes fit like an afterthought. He kept smiling at Marney and making small talk and complimenting me on my tie. Like he even cared.

In short, he was charming.

Just the one dinner, Marney had said. No more than an hour, she said.

We were there for at least two, and I was getting sick of it.

“The boat, it’s good, you know? I keep it clean and scrub it all down by hand. No magic for me. It takes a lot of work but it feels good to get something done.”

“I know what you mean,” Marney said.

“I like to take it out onto the water. I like to take it far. And once I’m out there, with nobody else around, that’s when I’ll practice some of my spells. Just alone, out there.”

He looked at me. He looked right at me with his white teeth and big smile and charming haircut. “Marney says you practice some,” he said.

I nodded. “I do.”

“What sort? Illusions? Chemical? Charms?”

“Transfigurations, mainly.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Tough stuff. That’s my thing, too.”

“I learned it from my dad. He was the best transfigurist in the world.”

“What was his name?”

“You wouldn’t have heard of him.”

He nodded. “Probably not.”

I clenched my jaw. “He once turned twenty school busses into caterpillars and back.”

“That’s not possible.”

“It is possible. I watched him do it, and he taught me how.”

Biff leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. His smile spread up toward his ears. We both knew he had me. He didn’t have to say it.

But he said it anyway.


///


I looked at him in the hospital bed, my broken dad, his beard singed off, his skinny arms covered in casts and bandages, and I balked. I balked at saying the things that I wanted to say.

Because despite all that magic, he still had a body. That’s what confused me the most.

“What were you thinking?” my mom asked him.

“It almost worked.”

“You weren’t even close,” I said.

He looked right at me. He looked right through me. I’d never forget it.

“You haven’t figured it out yet, have you? The only thing that’s worth our time is the magic. You get out there and you create something that’s more than just your stupid self. That’s the only thing worth our time. Bus or caterpillar, doesn’t matter. You go and you make it real.”

But he was wrong. I had figured it out.

I just hated greatness, and I hated hospitals.


///


The wind whipped my robes.

Down in the canyon, the busses began to shrink.

I left them their color and shifted their mass into the ground.

It quaked but took it.

I felt myself being torn in every direction.

Marney stepped way back.

I roped that magic bigger than ever before.

It was happening, down in the canyon.

Biff was over near his truck, watching.

I shoved my arm up the rear end of the universe, grabbed on, and yanked as hard as I could.

Blue Wher
Apr 27, 2010

The Smart Baseball Dargon Sez:

"Baseball is chaos!"

His bat is signed by Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski


skwidmonster posted:

Come on dude, gently caress you. You're lucky you even got mercy, not only did you get your toxx waived but you got an extension and STILL flubbed. I mean, I know I don't have the greatest track record, but at least I always turn loving SOMETHING in.

You know what, I'm pissed off at you, blue wher, you wriggled your way out of a brawl and managed to bitch about it anyway. Let's go, you and me, a legitimate brawl with a :toxx:. Any hardass judges wanna crack down on a couple of procrastinators?

Sorry. I was just freaking out and overreacted because toxxes fuckin' scare me.

I'm still out of town right now. Can I accept when I return? (which is tomorrow evening, btw)

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo


Destroyer of Worlds! Dragon Godhead
1493 words

Xavier watched as the blood nexus uncoiled. A dying spider, he thought, legs twitching spastically. Until you sat in it, all it could do was clutch ineffectually. Almost pathetic, he thought, almost because you had to sit in it, had no choice, because at this point backing out was as sure a death sentence as losing.

As he took his seat he had a brief vision of the bodymorph host flashing onto holoscapes all across the galaxy. His genetically engineered vocal chords would give his words subsonic properties, creating a cocktail of chemicals in the brains of those watching it. They would draw on survival instincts; faster heartbeat, increased awareness. Deathwaker was a drug and the host was a pusher. Where did he himself fit into this, he wondered, before the nexus wires collapsed on him, holding him tightly to the throne. Then the neuro cable drove itself into the back of his skull and for a moment there was darkness.

Then he was in the dreamfield. The trance dimension where Deathwaker came to life. His opponent was standing across from him, a dim shadow through the smoke. Mystery, he thought, for the astral drones, beaming this onto the holoscapes.

The battle spire under his feet began to rise up and he started to ascend. Across the field his opponent was doing the same. As he cut through the smoke, Xavier had a quick look at him, before the smoke swallowed him again.

Marl was imposing. Despite the long battles he had fought, he looked as strong as ever, because, Xavier knew (thanks to his friends smuggling intel through the block clusters), his technique was to drain you, to feed off you. By now, running through his bloodstream must be at least a dozen blood types from all over the galaxy. A species trait, possibly, the ability to keep yourself alive on the blood of others.

Xavier considered his own form, bundled under layers so that no one could tell how wasted he was becoming.

Somewhere in his deck, the Dragon Godhead was calling to him.

The sky was diffusing now, blood-red. The air was shimmering, crackling with potentia. He remembered the words of Dal’Sat, the Poet-Founder. In dreams, the starling may hunt the hawk.

Somewhere in his memories, the sister protocol began spiralling itself out of the depths of his unconscious. Tessa. Strongest in the dreamfield. Nonexistent in life.

He reached out his hand, and for a second fantasized about choking Marl. But suddenly his hand was holding his deck, and all he could think was, eat yourself. Eat yourself quickly.

Then the voice of the heavens gave the sacred command. SHAPE.

His deck began to spiral out in front of him. Simplicity, he thought, is always the way to go. Through the spirals, he could see traces of Marl’s shaping form. Big, loud. Fire and thunder.

He whispered an incantation and the card at the centre of the spiral flew towards him. He winced, like he always did the first time, and then the card was in him, in his head and it was casting itself. The Void Thief, he thought, as it burst forth from his forehead. The small goblin stood in front of him, grinning through teeth clamped down on its blade. Xavier nodded, and in a lightning motion the goblin slashed apart one of the spiraling cards.

It hurt like always. He fell to one knee. Already, he thought. Weakened as he was from the previous battles, he should have seen it coming. Right now, as an effect of the card being destroyed, some blood would be being pumped out of him. The goblin tossed off a salute and began to fade away.

Brace yourself, he had time to think, because the Sorrow Wasp Marl had cast was coming in fast. Just get a hand up, he thought desperately.

He did, and the Wasp impaled it. He could feel its emotional payload spreading through him. Then there was just him and Tessa and black space.

Tessa was drawing something. She had always wanted to be an artist. She was good, too, but had never had the chance to apprentice.

“Let me see,” he said.

“It’ll make you sad,” Tessa said, twisting one of her curls experimentally.

He pushed her aside. It was what he had been expecting. She had drawn a simulacrum of the fire. The corpses, all three of them, were depicted charred, with violent cross-hatching. And it looked like Tessa had gone crazy with the orange and red markers. The life dome was burning. Always burning, in this protocol, he thought. It would never stop, probably not even when he reached the fugue age.

Then he was back, the Wasp buzzing away. It had taken a card with him. How much blood did he even have left to lose?

If Marl had gotten the Godhead, he realized, it was all over. Any chance of bringing Tessa back dies here. Dies as I die.

The card at the centre of the spiral rushed towards him. This time he tried to breathe it in, but his timing was off. His breathing was too quick, and he had been too early, ruining the chance to charge it. He could hear Marl laughing. How could he have seen that, he asked himself, before realizing that it meant Marl had drawn a card he liked.

Then the Creep Mouser burst forth from his head.

He laughed, despite the situation. The Mouser opened protocols too, though not forcibly. He thought of the gerbil Tessa had gotten as a gift for her spawning celebration. She had loved that gerbil. She would play with it all night. Its squeaks would keep him awake, but he couldn’t stay mad, not at that adorable thing and not, especially, at Tessa.

“Go forth,” he told the mouse. “It’ll all be okay.”

The mouse twitched its nose and hopped over the spire edge.

A few seconds later he heard it. A harsh squeak, shrill and cutting through the rushing winds. I’m sorry, he thought. I sent you to your death.

He could see now, rising up through the smoke, what had caught it. A Vade Bat was clutching it and sucking greedily. Marl was laughing harder now. “Tastes like Tarketh spice!” he yelled as he reached for another card.

And Xavier was staring, because some sort of abomination was climbing out of Marl’s head. The arms came first, scaled, the plates serrated. Then a monstrous, leering reptilian head. How many teeth does it have, he thought dumbly. Marl was screaming as the cloaked body burst forth.

I guess, Xavier thought, he wants it too. Every player fought for their life. The life force, that which drives all creativity. It was what set Dal’Sat to create the game. How can I win, he wondered, against the game itself?

The spiral spat out another card. And in his head the protocol was alive. Tessa was with him, awakened fully. Breathe with me, Tessa said, and he did.

The card was in his brain for a full second. He could feel his hemispheres lighting up, feeding it.

Eat it, he thought. Eat it all.

The Gaping Maw.

It fell on the ground before a spire, a full drop, and when it landed the earth shook so that he could feel it through the spire. This was the biggest it had ever been. And it was hungry.

He fed it the spiral. All but one. Even the Maw knew that it would be blasphemy.

“Vampire Lord Reptilius!” Marl shouted. “Feed!”

The Vampire Lord fell upon the Maw. Its cloak covered both shapes fully. Then the cloak was collapsing, and Marl was growing. He was huge now, so huge that he could barely support his own weight.

“Nothing can kill me now!” Marl was shouting. He tore a card from the air and rammed it into his skull.

And the Creep Mouser popped out, whiskers twitching. Marl stared in shock.

Godhead, Xavier thought. And in the end he was so weak that he was barely able to cast it. But he did cast it.

Godhead dwarfed the dreamfield. Godhead, stronger the more you’ve eaten of yourself. Cracks and fissures were cobwebbing through the sky and air. The sound was a cacophony of harsh noise and Marl’s screaming.

He thought, Tessa. Would you want this?

And she said, no.

Godhead, he thought. Break the game instead.

And then he woke up.

He tore off the nexus wires which were clinging to him limply. Across the arena he could see Marl, sitting there lifeless.

Godhead didn’t listen to me, he realized. Stupid to imagine it would.

He slowly walked up to Marl. He knew that when he turned around, he’d see Tessa. The body doll with the spirit implant, reconstructed from protocols.

So he didn’t turn around. Instead he let the tears fall, one by one, onto Marl’s husk.

Enchanted Hat
Aug 18, 2013

Defeated in Diplomacy under suspicious circumstances


The last deal
1,444 words

"You're full of poo poo, Travis."

"I am not! I guarantee you that it'll work, Rob." Travis took another swig from the bottle. "Listen, just give me a couple of minutes, I'll set it up right now."

"You're not going to do it", said Rob, rolling his eyes.

"How much do you want to bet?"

"Fiver."

"You're on", said Travis. He immediately started working his machine, and after a few minutes the deed was done.

"All right, Rob, start following GENS."

Rob looked up the ticker symbol, and soon General Synthetics Corporation popped up on his screen. For a moment, everything looked normal, but then the screen became a sea of red. Graphs collapsed, trading volume exploded. The share price had gone down 20% and was still falling.

"Jesus Christ, Travis, what did you do!"

"I burned down their factory. Let me just close out my position."

Travis started setting up a trade that would let him cash out on his original bet. "God drat it, these keys are too loving small."

"Did you actually do it?" said Rob, wide-eyed.

"Hell yeah I did!"

"How much did you make?"

"40K", said Travis. "Pretty good for three minutes of work."

"That's sick."

"I know, right? Hang on, I'll send you her details. You pick one this time."

Travis sent Rob an instant message with Jessie's log in details. Jessie was a journalist at Finance Daily, the world's most famous business paper, and she ran a regular investment blog on their site. Until the previous Friday, she had been Travis' girlfriend. She was also one of those people who used the same password for everything.

"I can't do that!" said Rob. "What if we get caught?"

"Rob, don't be a bitch" said Travis. He looked at his empty bottle and said "listen, I'll go and get some more drinks, you pick something in the meantime."

Rob scoffed and turned back to his laptop as Travis went to get drinks. He closed down the General Synthetics charts and opened his own portfolio. He sighed. Lots of small movements, but nothing really noteworthy had happened since he last checked it. He looked at the total net movement for the month.

+£3,224

The sun shone through the small office window, bathing Travis' laptop in a ray of light. Rob glanced at the door to the office. It was closed. He then leaned over to look at Travis' computer. Sure enough, there was a new closed trade for General Synethetics. He looked at the green number to the right of the trade

+£41,117.

He got back to his own laptop just as Travis walked through the door.

"Pick one yet?" said Travis, handing Rob a glass.

"Yeah", said Rob. "Hey, why don't we up the stakes?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you clearly won the first bet, so why don't we make it double or nothing? We keep making trades, and whoever has made the most by close of play wins."

"Sure, that works for me", said Travis.

"And he also gets to be the undisputed top trader for the rest of this month."

"All right, tough guy, let's see you make a play first."

Rob took a sip from his drink as he checked his portfolio. "Got one", he said.

Travis looked over Rob's shoulder as he typed up an article. "You're not gonna make much money if you just talk up your existing holdings, man."

"Hold on, hold on."

With the article finished, Rob put in a massive buy order for Western Electric, the company that would, in a few minutes, discover cold fusion.

"Holy poo poo, I hope you can offload that", said Travis.

"Just watch me."

Rob posted the miraculous news on Finance Daily. Moments later, Western Electric surged and big green numbers appeared on Rob's screen.

"A hundred K!" said Travis. "Quick, close it before it reverses."

"Give it a moment."

An instant message popped up on Rob's screen.

"What's that?" said Travis.

"It's from Carl. He's linking me the fake blog I just wrote."

Travis laughed. "That's loving great. Do you think we should tell him what's going on?"

"Nah, I have a better idea", said Rob. He sent off a reply and said "I just told him to buy as much as he can ASAP."

"Wow. If he does that, he's going to be so deep in the red when it reverses."

"Yeah, but now he's going to pass it along and drive the price up even further."

"You should probably close out before people catch on."

Rob nodded and looked at his screen. The shares now stood at a gain of over five hundred thousand. He set up a sale which was immediately pounced on by a horde of ravenous investors.

"drat", said Travis.

"Looks like I win", said Rob. He leaned back in his chair, taking another sip from his glass.

"Oh yeah? Just you wait!" said Travis. He rushed over to his computer and started typing. "I'll need your help with this next one. When I post it, I want you to spread it around. Send the link to Carl and the others, tweet it, send it to your mother, whatever."

"Yeah, sure. What do you have in mind."

"Shorting Nikkei."

"What, you're betting against the Japanese stock market? How are you going to drag down the entire index?" asked Rob. "If you're writing a Godzilla story, I'm not sharing it."

"Nope", said Travis. He pushed his laptop over to Rob, who read the headline of the newest article:

BREAKING: China lands tanks on Japanese mainland, bombs Kyoto

"God drat", said Rob. "There's no way anyone's gonna fall for that!"

"Investors are retarded, this is totally gonna work. Just start sharing the article!"

Rob copied the link and sent it to Carl, asking him if he knew what was going on. "You're right", said Rob. "You're totally right. Carl says that he's getting rid of all of his Japanese investments right now."

A huge number appeared on Travis' screen. "I'm leveraged like crazy right now, so even a small change is going to give me a ridiculous profit on this."

Rob burst into laughter.

"What's the matter?" said Travis.

"The boss read your article. She's sent out a mass email with a lot of capital letters telling everyone to get out of the Japanese market."

"Yes!" Travis exclaimed. "I am top trader!"

Rob poured himself another glass. "Oh yeah? I bet I can top that!"

"Not gonna happen."

Rob thought for a moment, then started typing out another article.

"What have you got?" said Travis.

"Not telling yet."

"Ha! I bet you don't have anything."

Rob scrolled through a list of thoroughly unpleasant search results. "Hey, do you know how you embed pictures and stuff?"

"Not a clue"

"That's fine, I'll find it myself."

Travis leaned back in his seat, finishing his drink as he waited for Rob's article. "Hey, what are you investing in for this?"

"Credit default insurance, I'm betting that the risk of debt default will go higher."

"Oh, good call, that should be nice and volatile. Corporate debt default?"

"Government", said Rob. He pushed the button, launching the article across the net. "All right, your turn, start spreading this."

Travis opened up the link that Rob sent him. "Wow. Talk about upping the ante."

"Hey, sometimes you've got to shoot for the stars."

"Yeah, only this time you missed them and hit Berlin instead."

The story spread like wildfire. In minutes, dozens of websites were parroting the original article, and Rob and Travis' inboxes were flooded with panicked messages from wide and far. The two high fived.

"A fake Russian surprise nuclear strike!" said Travis. "I'm totally giving it to you, Rob, you win! I'm conceding."

Rob grinned. "Yeah, nuclear war should increase default risk a tiny bit!"

"I can't believe everyone's falling for this, it's amazing. Look at all the comments, these guys are demanding a retaliation!"

"Some people will just believe anything they read", said Rob. He followed a link and said "look at this article, it says that NATO has started firing back, and that China is getting involved on the Russian side. The author must be playing along with our hoax."

Travis got up from his chair and went to give Rob a pat on the back. "Well done, man! This trade of yours is going to go down in history."

Rob nodded. He got up and stretched, then walked to the window of the tiny office. It was a beautiful day outside, and as he stood there, he basked in the glow of victory, the radiant sun and a three megaton nuclear explosion.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Hey guys, you know what's cool? Giving each other crits. I'm not head judge, so this is pending approval by Thranguy, but I think it should be open season for crits this week, and to give you a bit of help, here's something I wrote over in Fiction Advice:

Djeser posted:

There's no magic to crits, it's just telling someone what you thought of the story. It's all pretty self-evident once you start reading. Here's some basic story stuff I keep in mind when thinking about crits--I don't consider these questions methodical, I just have them kinda floating around in my head:

Was there a conflict? Did I understand the conflict?
Was I able to identify with the characters?
Did I get lost at any point?
Did the words get in the way of my understanding?
Was there any part that was particularly compelling?
Did the ending feel satisfying?
At any point did I want to stop reading?

Also, be sincere. I don't believe in the idea of wrapping up a criticism between two pieces of praise. Sometimes there's not much to praise about a story, sometimes there's not much to criticize. A critique is your opinion about a story, so don't equivocate and don't feel shy about saying you liked or didn't like it.

If you want it summed up nice and neat, a crit is just where you tell someone what you liked and what you didn't like. You don't have to be an accomplished writer to have an opinion, and that's what crits are.

Masonity
Dec 31, 2007

What, I wonder, does this hidden face of madness reveal of the makers? These K'Chain Che'Malle?


Five Fingers
1143 words


It was a cold february afternoon in London, but the tourists were out in force anyway as I battled my way down Oxford Street with Mark and Andy.
“So, you gonna do it today?” Mark asked.
“Nah, he don’t have the bottle” Andy jibed. “He ain’t one of us. No balls!”
The little oval office. I’ll show him. I thought before retorting “That’s not what your mum said last night!”

A your mum joke. Classic. The dead arm I got in return was definitely worth it.
What can I say? I was 14 years old.

“So, I’m here ain’t I? You said if I could win a bet, I could hang around with you lot. I’m fed up of those loving nerds in the library.”
“Easy.” Mark said, turning onto Regents Street. “If you want to be one of us, you need a proper yoyo. Not one of those poo poo £10 ones like you have. Look at this! A Yomega 1500, double bearings, metal tipped, it’ll sleep for 30 seconds, easy! Oi, tosspot, show him yours!”
“Yoyojam 200. £80 in the shops, led lights, and it came with a little booklet with tons of cool tricks” Andy said, pulling out some flashy monstrosity.
“Oh come on guys, I aint got that kinda cash. How the gently caress did you afford it anyway?”
“Five finger discount!” Mark grinned. “If you buy it, it doesn’t count anyway.”

---

I tried to keep myself composed as we walked into Hamleys. The guys had briefed me on their best tricks. Pick up two at a time and slip one up your sleeve. Walk around the shop first. The lifts don’t have cameras. Spend some time downstairs with the video games. Act confident. You’ll be fine. Just don’t think about being caught. Keep an eye out for undercover security. But don’t look like you are looking for them. Simple, right?

I walked across to the yoyos. "Beever 62 with silver rims?" I picked it up, felt the weight, then dropped it again. "One of these £60 mass produced showyos in the plastic coverings maybe?"
“What about a wasp sting?” Mark asked.
“Devil tails are cool too. £100 each!” Andy suggested as we rifled through the collection.
“Nah, this is what I like!” I said, finally spotting the yoyo for me. Simple, elegant, and £300. “The Luna Wind.” I picked one up with my right hand, then used my body to shield my left hand while showing it to them. “Just a shame I can’t afford it. Maybe next week? Fancy trying some games?” I asked, making a show of placing the yoyo back on the suddenly slightly emptier shelf.

We walked through the shop, accosted by magicians, magic UFO flyers and bubble gun pushers, my left hand half concealed in my coat. “I recon they have the latest ISS on the playstations down there. I’ll kick your rear end, playing as Man City!” I taunted, nuding Andy in the side.
“Is it properly concealed?” Mark whispered, keeping between me and the cameras.
“Yeah, we’re good!” I mumbled. “Lets just blend in for a bit, play some footy then get out of here.”
“Not until you calm down.” he replied. “You try to leave like that and security will be all over you. Seriously, someone get a mop. Your loving sweating buckets!”

---

“You two go ahead, I’m not ready to do this!” I told the guys. “I’ll meet you in McDonalds down the road in ten minutes. I need to compose myself.”
“Yeah, gently caress you. We’ll be there for a bit, but seriously? Your bottles gone. We wouldn’t leave with you anyway!” Andy jibed as they walked off.

I watched them walk to the door, then tried myself, a few yards behind them. The security guard caught my eye straight away, grinning. I took a few more steps forward, then looped back, making out I had forgotten something. They were out. Free. I knew they had something up their sleeves. I was probably meant as bait all along. Let the nerdy kid get caught, and they walk away with whatever they can carry. I pushed the yoyo back out my sleeve, tucking it onto a shelf behind a Power Ranger toy. I spent the next few minutes trying to look busy, then attempted to leave, this time without anything hidden.

“Hey there son!” I heard, as a firm hand gripped my shoulder. “We’ve been watching you. Come with me.

---

“I’ve not got anything!” I declared, sweat dripping off my brow.
“We know son. We watched you put it down. But you was trying to steal it, wasn’t you? £300 those beauties cost. Why? Why risk getting in all that trouble?” The guard asked.
“Some bigger kids sent me in.” I explained. “They made me do it. Said they’d beat me up otherwise. Please, I had to. Please don’t call my Mum. I’ll be in so much trouble. And I didn’t actually steal it, did I?” I pled.
“You know what? It’s your lucky day. One time offer. Get out of jail free kid.” The guard grinned. “Tell you the truth? I was bullied in school too. You know what to do next time they tell you to do something like that? Bite their loving nose. Bite the fucker off. No-one will ever mess with you again!” he laughed. “But don’t ever loving come near my shop with any intention to nick anything, ever again. Right?”

---

“So, you bottled it?” Mark asked.
“Told you he was a wanker!” Andy laughed. “Probably has to change his pants too. We saw them grab you by the door, you must have dumped it first or you wouldn’t be here!”
“How?” I asked.
“Watched from over the street. That’s the point of it. If you can’t walk out, you aint in!” Mark explained.
“But I thought the bet was getting an expensive yoyo?” I asked. “Without paying for it? Come on, show us your haul!”
Mark pulled three £30 yoyos out of his sleeve. “I coulda got a dearer one, but I wanted to show you the ropes. Didn’t realise you’d balls it all up!” He sneered. “Show him what you got Andy!”
Andy pulled out a polished wooden yoyo. “Real oak! £70! A year 10 offered me £30 for one of these!” he laughed.
“Then I guess I win!” I grinned. “Nine hundred quid. On my first trip. Either I’m in, or you fuckers aren’t good for a bet!”
“Go on, show us then!” Andy said, furrowing his brows. I reached over, into his right hand coat pocket, and pulled out three Luna Winds.
“I knew I’d bottle it.” I explained. “So I slipped these into your pocket, then put on a nice little show for the security. Slipped you lot straight through, then I just had to give you time to get away. So, I’m in?”

Rap Three Times
Aug 2, 2013

Thrice, not twice, nay not four times either.

Grimey Drawer

The Gamble.

(1503 words)

When the hood came off, the sudden light dazzled me. I blinked and took a moment to scan my surroundings. The room they had dragged me to was a small one, I figured twenty foot by fifteen. Smaller than I thought but that shouldn’t be a problem. I was tied to a heavy wooden chair near the middle of the room. A few scattered pieces of furniture made up the only other furnishings. I faced the single door. That was good. I liked the feng shui.

Bundled in the trunk, I had been thinking whether to look angry or bewildered. In the end, I chose bewildered.

“Oh would you look at that? All confused. Well, let me shine some light on the matter!”

The woman who spoke took great pleasure in shining a large naked bulb in my face. I could feel the heat of it. I licked my dry lips and feigned an inability to speak.

“Get him some water.”

A second person moved heavily. The muscle I guessed. I couldn’t see beyond glaring circle of white that was inches from my face.

The woman spoke again: “Well, well, are we comfortable?”

I could detect a faint trace of an accent. East German. Dresden perhaps?

A glass of water was pressed into my hand and I looked up, squinting. The man that loomed above me looked like a mountain of meat. I had never seen anyone so big before. I flashed him a grin but he just grunted.

“Now, settled in? Good. Let’s begin slowly.”

“I-”

A sudden punch to the side of my face nearly knocked my chair over. The force of it took me by surprise, dazing me for a moment. When my head swung back, I was looking directly into the gorilla’s face. I had decided to call him that, just after I had decided I didn’t like him.

“You don’t talk, ok? You only talk when she-” he gestured towards the woman with him thumb roughly “-when she asks you to, ok? Got it?”

I nodded. I didn’t need another hit from that hairy ape.

She giggled girlishly.

“Oh, don’t be such a bore. We should give Mr White a little more leeway. After all, he is our guest!”

She grinned when she saw the surprise on my face.

“Oh yes, we know exactly who you are. You don’t need to play games with us here. You’re here for the diamond yes? You thought you could just waltz in and take it, yes? Well... you didn’t plan on us did you?”

I shook my head. They seemed to expect it from me. It was easier to play dumb with these amateurs.

“Hit him again.”

I had just a moment to check where he was coming from before the blow landed. I had been a fighter in my past, a tough one too, able to pack a punch as well as take a few. This guy though, his fists were like sledgehammers. I barely reacted in time, moving with the punch to lessen the impact. I spat blood this time. I hate spitting blood.

I looked back at him and said as slowly as possible “I didn’t say anything, gorilla.”

He didn’t react. Maybe he was better than I thought. Or maybe it took time for his brain to work out multi-syllabic words.

The German stepped forward, breaking that train of thought. Straddling me, she surprised me by kissing me on my mouth, hard. Then she pulled away and licked her lips. Her eyes were somewhat wild and I had to laugh.

“You Germans always were kinky as gently caress!”

I saw surprise, then anger, then delight in her eyes, all in a moment. She stood. Paced. Turned back to me.

“Yes, it is true. I do have a passion for some things. A flair even. I can be quite creative. Do you like creative girls, Mr White?”

She looked plaintively at me, her eyes reminding me of a puppy. Albeit a puppy with a bad case of rabies.

“I once knew a girl who worked wonders with potato stamps. Is that what you mean?”

Her eyes narrowed, briefly, before she broke out a broad smile and straddled me once again.

Her smile reminded me of a tiger.

“Something like that, Mr White.” She reached down to her knee-high boots and withdrew a long thin knife from a discreet sheathe. “Something like that”.

I wasn’t sure I liked where this was heading so I told her.

“While I am curious about what your intention with that knife, I should mention... I’ve always had a dislike for being cut.” I flashed a smile at her.

She laughed, a light tinkle of a laugh that belied what she was obviously intending to do. Playfully, she started cutting the buttons off my shirt, using the tip of the knife skilfully, delicately, never once cutting me accidentally.

Once my shirt was thoroughly debuttoned, she looked playfully at me and stroked my chest with the blade-tip. I found myself getting aroused and silently cursed my body.

“Perhaps you’d prefer somewhere more private?” I asked, pointedly looking towards the gorilla. He looked on impassively, familiar with the German’s techniques perhaps.

“Oh him” she said, gesturing with the stiletto knife “He won’t bother us. It’ll be like it’s just you and me. I tell you what I want, and you give it to me. Simple yes?”

I shook my head. “I never could take orders from a broad.”

Her eyes flashed angrily, her lips curling back. Quickly, she slashed at my chest, cutting a shallow gash across my abdomen which I knew would bleed profusely. A inch deeper though and...

“Point taken” I grunted through gritted teeth. I tried to ignore the hot pain searing my stomach.

“Now that we have the little matter of who’s on top, perhaps we could begin yes? While I am enjoying myself, I feel that maybe your... desire” she grinded herself into my crotch for effect “is a little blunted no?

“So then, where to begin? Very well, let us talk first about the Moscow Portfolio yes? I feel-!”

Suddenly, the door to the room burst open! There, standing silhouetted in the doorway, was my fellow agent and lover, Odette.

“Get the gently caress off my boyfriend, you bitch!” she screamed.

The German let out a snarl, then turned and jumped at Odette, knife raised. A foolish move and fatal move. She should’ve stayed where she was, maybe move behind me to use me as a body shield. Then she would’ve been saved from the shotgun that Odette was carrying, the shotgun that rang out once in a deafening roar that filled the room and carried the German 10 feet to a far corner where she lay still, eyes frozen and staring at the ceiling, a last confused look covering her face.

However, the gorilla moved faster than I had anticipated. Grabbing a large bag of tools from the floor, he threw them at Odette in the doorway. It was all she could do to raise her gun protectively in front of herself and deflect the heavy bag. The gun clattered to the floor alongside the tools. Gorilla turned and raised himself to his full height, advancing slowly to her, his long and powerful arms extended like grapples.

But then, he paused, seeing Odette looking behind him, at me. He spun around, straight into the chair that I was swinging at him. It hit him square in the temple. His head twisted and he murmured “how did...” before I hit him with the remnant of the chair leg that I still held. This time he went down.

“You fucker!” yelled Odette.

“What?” I said, raising my hands in defence.

“How long were you untied?” Her eyes were lit up in anger.

I shrugged. Just a little while, I only fully loosened them when you burst in.”

She ran to me and started beating on my chest, weak half-hearted blows. “You fucker!”

I cupped her face in my hand and looked down at her. She looked so beautiful.

“Baby, I knew you’d come. I knew you would change your mind.”

“I was nearly gone you know, I had nearly left for Monaco. I was packed and everything. You big, stupid brute.” She looked up at me, tears coming to her eyes. “You could’ve died. You risked everything for us, didn’t you?”

I nodded slowly. “But I knew you’d come, I knew you wouldn’t turn away from us, from this, from what we have.”

She nodded once, then took my hand. “Ok, let’s get out of here. Are we still in time?”

I checked my watch and nodded. “We’re a little late but everyone should still be there. I might need a new shirt though.”

She shook her head. “You look dashing.” Reaching down, she tore a length off her white dress and wrapped it around my wound. “There, now we both look dashing.”

I grinned at her. “Ok Baby, let’s go get married.”

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk









I missed this when I was doing my microburps for TMBG week, so have a crit Lou.

LOU BEGAS MUSTACHE posted:

A Common Enemy (911 words)

Cerneau ate the boiling hot stew until it his tongue was numb enough to eat more. nice simple slightly contradictory opener He raised his bowl and Barcleef ladled in another helping. Cerneau engulfed it quicker than the first.

Cerneau brandished his medal, the only payment to the living men of Greenstead for leaving a few thousand Tregan households short on breadwinners. Barcleef watched the motion, looking flustered and ready to start an argument, but he resisted the urge just as his mouth opened to lecture. whut this is sort of confusing; they were eating and ladelling now they're watching and brandishing?

“I’ve seen a medal like that before. Held by poor soul with his head in the clouds. Kept going on about some incredible fellow name Agron,” Barcleef said.

“You met Josef, huh?” Cerneau said. who are all these people

They averted eye contact as Cerneau kept slurping down stew. Once he had his fill, he felt like he could die happy.

The Book of Tregan sat on the table, open to a passage:

Plagiarism, half-truths, and silence are the cousins of deceit. An act of such is criminal, even for one’s own life. We must lay those who lie to permanent rest.

“We both know Treganism is a load of donkey guts, no more real than Funghead.” he said. He smacked down a bounty poster with a retirement of a payout and a question mark were tsk a face might be.

“Funny you should bring up Funghead, the cleverest and deadliest drat bastard this side of Heirloom Creek…” ok this could work but it's fatally muddled - if you start on a physical action make sure it's relevant and complete - the eating is just blocking. Also is this just an intro?

***

Cerneau clutched the bag of coin, supposedly given to dozens before him. He could have run with the money, but the promise and sight of more changed his dying allegiances quick. Cerneau steeped wut through thick mud. Faint hoots and chirps from maze-like arrangements of trees became ambience over time. WUT

Funghead’s cavernous estate smelled of rot and sounded of river. nice image, but you're just rattling this out aren't you it's sort of nonsensical Cerneau readied his six-shooter from his holster. Just as he readied a torch he noticed a guiding light deeper in the cave with shimmering gold piled onto a small barrel beneath it, the colors reminded him of sunrise.

From an ancient bed a shambling creature, wet from massive pores, WUUUUUT rose and grabbed the torch. A deep gurgle echoed from him. Gashes danced across his worried face like whipping were an art. OH JESUS MAKE IT STOP Just as Barcleef described, Funghead had a cancerous, gray, and blooming body.

“Turn,” Funghead said in a struggled voice, “I wish not to be disturbed.”

Cerneau tilted his head to look in the distance once more, to confirm the wealth behind the monster.

“I got two plans. Both of them involve retirement, and one of ‘em with me living happily ever after. Make me,” Cerneau said. He pointed his gun.

Funghead swung the light around the room, revealing piles of bone scattered around the ground. Some corpses were fresh, with regretful YUCK contortions of the face. Lifeless forearms reached out toward the gold in the distance. Weapons of all sorts, mostly swords, clubs and farmer’s tools, laid scattered. A book with a green cover and a seal like the medal rested at Cerneau’s feet, held by Josef’s otherwise pilfered NO corpse.

Cerneau guessed that he got lucky and caught the monster off guard, and that he was bluffing. THANKS MR TELLERMAN

“Hard bargain you drive, but that’s two and a half retirements behind you, let alone the fortune promised. What say you, what if I’ve got a hell of a shot? You a betting monster?” Cerneau said. He rubbed his medal for good luck.

Funghead’s dim eyes lit up.

“Greenstead Militia, I f-fought with you! After the battles, a Tregan man experimented on me. My wounds festered like mushrooms. He said it was punishment for my sins. He turned me into a monster. I killed him and ran. Cerneau, it’s been forever,” Funghead said.

“Could be lying. Everyone knows this medal, and you’re a lot uglier than anyone I remember. Still, you know my name,” Cerneau said.

Funghead reached into his pocket and procured a similar medal.

“What did Saint Melthius say before he was hanged?” Cerneau asked.

“Saint Melthius was stabbed to death,” Funghead said.

“You were there then. They piled the bodies into the river till the water ran pink.

“And the men of Greenstead walked home poorer than they came.”

“So, who were you?”

“Agron Ya-”

Cerneau fired a shot into the creature’s head. Funghead looked both confused and angered. He ran forward and swung his torch at Cerneau’s head. Cerneau stepped back once and fired four more shots to incapacitate the monster. BLAND Funghead reeled and whined and hissed. He let off a spectrum of noises, all pain. O GOD NO Cerneau shot one last time right at the creature’s presumed gently caress YOU brain. Funghead collapsed.

“How did you know I was lying?” Funghead whispered last words. GRAMMAR, BITCH

“You’d think a man would grow out of imaginary friends, but Josef goes and writes a whole novel about one. From the way he talked about him, you’d swear he was standing right by us in the holy war. You read about Agron, and me, in Josef’s book.”

The creature’s dim eyes circled around before they decided on two different directions. All of his cancerous blooms burst like pimples, oozing out life until there was just his skin and clothing in a rancid gray puddle.

Cerneau gathered his newfound riches before he looked down again at the familiar corpse. He picked up the copy of The Adventures of Agron Yassel from Josef’s cold fingers.

“If it’s any condolences, maybe we can get that Barcleef fellow to read something with a bit more truth to it.”

there's the potential for a solid story here, and I like many of your pungent turns of phrase but this is super fast and crappy and you really don't need the stew-centric framing story. It's also evoking an elaborate backstory and mythology which actually seems rather cool but then wastes its words and squanders it.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

What will you say when
your child asks:
why did you fail Thunderdome?


On the Bright Side
1496 words

Fenrik held on tight to the wheel, as if he was hoping to keep it steady by sheer muscle strain, and closed his eyes. Just five seconds. Five seconds down the road, blind and without accident. A straight road. He could do it.

The stimu.bet agent in his body snapped into action, filled him with a sensation of mild alertness to signal that the attempt had officially started. It wasn’t quite an adrenaline rush. More the anxiety of taking an exam you hadn’t studied for. The bet had been sent remotely by one of his friends from the daredevil network, a group of stimu.bet enthusiasts who sent each other joke bets, occasionally taking them on.

He started counting.

The wind blew into Fenrik’s face, punctuated by the irregular rapidfire whacks of the car’s bowtie slapping against the trunk. No risk, he told himself. Just close your eyes for a few moments on the way home. Win a bet while you’re at it. Keep driving. Happy birthday son, here’s your car, plus bonus.

He reached five. The bet’s conclusion was like kind of a sixth sense, a certainty that coursed through him: knowledge that he was stimu.bet customer Fenrik Rogers, knowledge of the bet’s ID as well as the fact that he’d won it.

The financial payout was five dollars, but that wasn’t the point.

Powerful stimulants were released throughout his body. Bliss. Endorphins and hormones and whatever the stimu.bet agent had introduced into his circulatory system surged out of his brain, his cells, everywhere, filled him with a warmth that made him fly, weightless, soaring over the clouds with only the gentle sun above. Life.

He opened his eyes and looked into the sky, the car’s nose pointed up in mid-air. He wasn’t steering. He reached for the wheel; his hands aimlessly flailed through the air. Colors rushed up on him. A vendor’s booth splintered, broke and exploded, chips of wood flying into his face. There was the high-pitched shriek of steel on steel, and a bang, and then he stood.

Stupid bet. Stupid.

Through the buzz of his rush he faintly recognized the shapes, people, turning towards him. Someone ran out of the store he’d crashed into and uncertainly stopped next to the wreckage, hands balled to fists. Fenrik opened the door. It fell of its hinges.

“Okay,” he slurred. “I may have a problem.”

--

They celebrated Darren’s birthday at the police station.

Lucy sat there and stared at the ceiling, trying not to say anything she’d regret. Fenrik was on the other end of the waiting room table, studying the coin between his fingers. Their son Darren also looked at his own hands. He had the same twitchy frown on him he’d always had when he tried to remain stoic.

Fenrik flipped his coin. Heads. Customer Fenrik Rogers, bet lost. Five bucks down the drain. Back to zero, minus a car. It wasn’t his best day.

Lucy caught his hand. “This has to stop.”

He couldn’t bring himself to meet her eyes. The shiny coin smiled back at him, seemed to wink even, while Lucy probably had all kinds of worries on her face.

“I know,” he said.

She kept holding his hand.

“I’m sorry.” He looked at his son but Darren didn’t budge. Unmoving in every sense of the word. “Come on now.”

Lucy let go of him. She leaned back. “To be fair, his father crashed his birthday present into a storefront today.”

“I-- I know. Look, I’m sorry. We said no more risks. I thought this wasn’t… I thought this was safe. It seemed safe. I’m sorry. Only safe bets now.”

“No more bets,” she said, and he looked at her, blinked, blinked again as if his eyelids could wipe him into a different reality where his wife hadn’t just said that.

“No more rushes. No more bets,” she repeated.

He nodded. Barely. “Okay.” He had to force the word out, and then he wasn’t sure if he fully believed it himself.

--

Fenrik lay wide awake and stared out of his bedroom window, trying to focus on the sky and the moon and to forget what he was thinking.

In an ingenious marketing twist, removing yourself from stimu.bet was impossible unless you could afford the hormone treatment to get the agent out of your system. Fenrik couldn’t. He was saving up for a replacement car.

‘Leave your house by way of a second-floor window without hurting yourself.’

The police had prohibited him from using the stimu.bet network, so he was unable to receive or suggest new bets. But old bets were still there, stored locally. Within him. Bets he’d never bothered taking because they’d been too tedious, or dangerous. He couldn’t win money, but if he’d finish any leftovers he might get a rush out if them anyway.

The window of his second-floor bedroom was right above the garage roof. It had been frozen when he’d taken the bet in winter, but now he could climb it. He had been thinking of little else for the last three days. Three days without rush. Three days.

He’d tried to distract himself. Go on long walks. Work overtime. His family didn’t seem to want much to do with him anyway. Darren all but lived in his room, and Lacy barely looked at him anymore.

No more rushes. No more bets.

He slipped out of bed and looked out the window. The garage roof was barely slanted. He could probably do it. One quick jump and he’d get a fix and then he’d be able to think much clearer again, find a way to wipe those other leftover bets. Right now he couldn’t think straight. Thinking was like poking at bubbles in a piece of jello.

He opened the window, its noise a faint whisper in the night. A gentle breeze rustled the leaves outside. He stepped onto the roof, and the excitement returned. The bet was on.

No more rushes. No more bets.

He stood at the edge of the garage roof, one small jump away from another won bet. He remembered Darren’s face. Twisted, aimed at something, anything but him. On the verge of tears, but too proud to cry in front of his bitch-rear end dad.

His bitch-rear end dad who couldn’t keep a single promise.

There had to be another way to clear these bets, and there was.

Fenrik hurled himself off the garage roof. Arms in front to shield his face, he soared through the air again, but for real this time. In the two seconds that he flew, he reached a brief moment of lucidity during which he realized that he could have also failed the bet by simply pinching himself.

As he’d said. Couldn’t think straight.

He landed.

--

Fenrik jolted awake in a hospital bed and the result came through: Fenrik Rogers. Bet #392. Failed. He couldn’t help but smile. Failure was like a little rush in itself.

“Dad,” Darren said. “What the gently caress?”

To his side, Lucy and Darren stared down at him, her with bloodshot eyes and him with a desperate nonchalance plastered all over his face.

Lucy said, “We found you on the lawn. We weren’t sure if you’d tried to--”

“Is this about your bets?” Darren said. “What the gently caress, dad.”

“You sprained your arm, you know?”

“I can explain,” Fenrik said. And he told them. Told them it was all good. That he’d been obsessed with betting, and then with not-betting, but now he had the solution. Clean, no rushes. He just had to fail all his leftover bets. Then it would be over.

Darren snorted. He was still angry and had every right to be.

“These bets will always be there if I don’t do anything about it,” Fenrik explained. “I promised no more rushes. But I have to get them out of my system. I’m doing this for you.”

“You just exchange one obsession for another,” Darren said and the bruntness of his words wiped the smile off Fenrik’s face. “When you used to bet, you also ‘did it for us’. For the money. And because a happy father is a better father. But it’s never about us. It’s about you.”

He didn’t know what to say to that.

“We only want what’s best for you,” Lucy said. “Come home with us, and forget about this, and get help. Just stop hurting yourself. Please.”

She was practically begging. Darren looked away, dismayed, obviously not one for second chances. Or third. A chance Fenrik hadn’t deserved, but wanted more than anything else.

But help was expensive.

“...I can’t,” he said. “The money. We don’t… It won’t work. I have to do this.”

Darren left the room without another word. Lucy put Fenrik’s lucky coin on his nightstand, gave him a kiss on his forehead, and followed.

“I love you,” he called after her, but she hadn’t heard it.

That’s what he told himself.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart


Shorted Out (1496 words)

I stand in the Bull's office, watching over his shoulder as he points at his shiny new truck down in the parking lot, my palms ooze navigable rivers of sweat as I work up the nerve to speak. I try to look at the truck and mutter platitudes, but I my gaze strays to a row of framed Forbes magazines. The Bull's face grins at me from the covers, invites me to meet "the Power King of Texas". In each photo, he wears a different suit, all of them bespoke. His secretary demanded two magnums of Champagne before she'd schedule this meeting, and I rehearsed in the mirror for weeks - it was like being in film school again.

The Bull points at a chrome hook dangling from his truck's grille like an enormous metal dick (dogleg left). "There's a whole second motor driving that winch, five hundred horsepower. poo poo cost more than you or Levigne make in a month."

"I can change that." I summon my Authority Voice. "My trades are twenty percent above target. I think it's time I moved off commodities. To the ERCOT desk." It's our biggest account and moves gigadollars of electricity daily. The Bull oversees it himself, and last year almost everyone working ERCOT made themselves millionaires; it created half the firm's profits, and a dozen magazine articles hailed the Bull as 'Enron Done Right'.

He looks me in the eye. "You came in over quota, I gave you a raise. Do you have a problem with my decision?"

I stick to the script. "Sir, I don't know why, but everyone's ignoring the Freeport plant. We're leaving billions on the table." I pluck a Wall Street Journal from his desk, flip to an article on page two: Is The Bull Headed For The Slaughterhouse? Over the last few weeks, our profits stopped rising. "If investors start doubting us, they'll stampede to other funds."

The Bull's nostrils flare. "When'd you fail out of school, two years ago?" He tears the newspaper in half and yanks me by the collar towards the door, then hesitates. "You've been studying the Freeport plant?"

"They're finishing a second high-capacity transmission line straight to Houston in a few weeks. Fully redundant, outage-proof. It'll be the cheapest, most reliable power in Texas. We'll make billions."

"Billions?" The Bull gives me a smile that doesn't reach his eyes. "You think small." He shoves me out onto the trading floor. It's dead silent and two dozen dudes are watching me, phones still hanging at their chins. I saunter to my desk and they stare like lions studying a gazelle, looking for a limp. Seeing none, they turn away and I feel hollow inside.

Levigne leans over the top of my monitors, brushes back his silver hair. He predates everyone, even the Bull, but his last big payday was before Reagan made peace with the Commies. "Lesson? Don't rock the boat, Hollywood." I drunkenly bawled my silver-screen dreams to him one night. Next morning, everyone was calling me Hollywood.

"What were your numbers last quarter?" He's the only ERCOT broker who's never made a million.

He spreads his arms like Jesus on the cross. "I'm still here."

I lean forward in mock-interest. "What's your secret, O guru?"

"Simple: never wager against the weather." He jabs at his monitor. "See this hurricane coming up the coast? Might stall Freeport. A young, dumb buck would bet on a shutdown, but I know the inland plants will stay up no matter what, so I'll buy from them."

"And make a tenth the money."

"No risk."

All chatter halts as the Bull emerges from his office, flanked by two beefy dudes in Mafia suits. They stalk towards me, stop next to my desk. The Bull flexes his fingers and stares into the air over my head.

"Stand up, Levigne," the Bull says. "And Hollywood? My office, ten minutes."

#

The Bull's secretary gives me coffee and leaves me alone. I try to drink, but my hands are shaking and I slop coffee all over the Bull's desk. I grab newspapers and, as I mop it up, the Bull's computer beeps. I almost jump out of my skin.

He's got a trading console open, monitoring a bunch of orders he's placed personally. I take a photo with my phone; the Bull's record is legendary, and copying him should make me a mint.

I throw away sodden newspaper and spot shredded memos buried beneath his trash. The logo on the letterhead doesn't look like ours. I stuff papers into pockets and hope it's juicy insider info.

The Bull comes in, and I pretend to drink while he pokes at his computer and ignores me, typing with just his forefingers. I feel a little smug.

"It's done, Hollywood. You're on ERCOT." Before I can gush thanks, he snaps his fingers at me. "Get money on the Freeport plant, pronto."

"Sir, the second line isn't done and there's a hurricane coming in. Buying power inland would be much safer."

"No, short the bejesus out of it. Everyone will bid inland, price for Freeport power'll plummet, and you triple my money."

"That sounds like a big risk."

"Did I mistake you for someone with balls?" He grabs the phone and stares at me as he speaks. "Security? Bring Levigne back inside."

I feel my Forbes cover slipping away. "I'll do it."

The Bull grins.

#

It's late evening, I'm alone at my desk watching the hurricane crawl towards land and the price of Freeport power drop like a stone. As long as the juice keeps flowing, I'm making thousands. My phone buzzes; the boys want me down at the bar, Levigne's supposed to show up soon for farewell drinks. I delete the message and double-check my photo of the Bull's screen.

I copied his trades; they're exactly what he told me to do: megabucks betting on cheap Freeport energy. The Bull's borrowed enough cash to buy Belgium and dumped it on ERCOT. We're betting enough to make a Monaco croupier blush; I've never seen us indebted like this.

The hurricane's dying; the Freeport plant will stay online. The only way we'll lose is if the transmission line goes down, and there's no chance this storm can do that. First day on the job and I'm going to rocket the firm back to number one. I sink into my chair, imagining my face on a dozen glossy magazines. Hell, maybe I'll make enough dough to fund my own flicks.

The shredded papers in my pocket crinkle; I'd forgotten about them. I start piecing them together.

The Bull steps out of his office. He's dressed in a hoodie and coveralls instead of his usual suit. A pair of heavy gloves sticks out of his back pocket. I hunch over and hide the stolen papers. He locks his office and leaves.

The first page I fix is a trading statement from a no-name brokerage, addressed to an offshore holding company. The numbers have a dizzying number of zeroes, and all the orders are shorting our firm, due tomorrow - someone's betting we'll collapse overnight.

I glance at our new debts and sweat dribbles down my spine. I grab my car keys.

#

Racing down the highway towards Freeport, I spot the Bull's truck devouring asphalt up ahead. The storm hurls water against my windshield. The highway's already barred besides me and the Bull's taillights. Without signaling, he veers off onto a muddy service road. Lightning flashes in the distance, silhouetting a row of steel towers marching across the prairie: the Freeport transmission lines.

I kill my lights and creep along, and the Bull turns offroad, towards the towers. I stop the car, jump out and sprint through cow-pats. Over the thunder, I hear a chain rattling and metal clanking against metal. The eye of the storm clears the rain and I see the Bull standing beside his truck with his winch hooked to one of the towers. He tightens the winch, and climbs into the driver's seat. Gears shift. Wheels vomit mud.

He's going to bring down the line. The memos in my pockets — he's stacked his entire fortune on the impossible, the instant implosion of the entire firm. He'll be the world's first trillionaire, and all the rest of us will be penniless, jobless, unemployable. I'm about to fail out of finance as fast as I'd failed out of film school.

And when the story gets out, it's going to be a legendary heist. There's two films, a play and a dozen books out there about Enron, and the Bull is about to make Enron look like a dime-store stickup.

I take out my phone, squat in the grass and begin shooting video. I've got enough hard evidence on me to pitch a dozen documentaries; the Bull's just handed me my ticket to Hollywood. I'm giggling so hard, I don't notice Levigne quietly leading the cops toward us.

Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=3672&title=The+Hungriest+Game

Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 19:23 on Dec 30, 2015

docbeard
Jul 18, 2011

Modern worldly poster

Painted Jezebel
1,358 Words

(In the archive)

docbeard fucked around with this message at 15:19 on Dec 28, 2015

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Jagermonster
May 7, 2005

Hey - NIZE HAT!


Big Enough
1398 Words
Flash rule: Your protagonist is almost certainly going to win this bet, but they don't want to win.

The Wilderness has a way of diminishing a man, making him feel insignificant. Earl slid down the loose scree and nearly tumbled when the ground evened out. His legs ached from days of frenzied traveling. His horse had given out on him a hundred miles back, close to the top of Gunderson’s pass. He longed for human company if for nothing else than to have lesser men to judge himself against in order to make him feel big again.

Earl found a trail and followed it to switchbacks leading down to a town. He cut straight through the winding path, crashing through the underbrush. He braced himself from tree to tree as he stumbled down. The peaks of the Sierra Nevada shrank behind him as he approached civilization.

Patches of snow clung stubbornly to the shadows and shade. Earl stuck to the outskirts of town, away from the main lane, until he found the building with the yellowest snow pile behind it. He made his way around the side and through the swinging doors of the saloon.

Earl peered through the dimness at the few men sitting idly at tables nursing their drinks. More would come as the sun sank lower. He walked through the sawdust on the floor. He placed a silver piece on the bar.

The muttonchopped barkeep glanced at it. “Where you in from?”

Earl flashed him a yellow smile. “Out of town.”

The barkeep kept his crossed arms resting on his paunch.

“Looking for some honest work,” Earl said. “Been traveling for spell.”

The barkeep eyed Earl’s ivory gripped pistols.

“Look friend,” Earl said, getting used to talking again after a month on his own. “I’m down from San Fran. I got money and I intend on having a drink here while I wait for some local cowboys to stop by who might could help with a job.”

The barkeep plucked up the coin. “You mean up from San Francisco.” He turned around to fetch a bottle of murky brown stuff.

Earl tried to visualize a map. He was further north than he thought he was. He scanned the tattered wanted posters plastered behind the bar as the barkeep poured out a shot. Earl stopped at a newer poster of a mean-looking clean-shaven desperado.

“What’d you say your name was?” the Barkeep asked.

Earl finished reading the poster. “Peter Peyton. But my friends call me Pete.” Earl had apparently grown two inches since the last wanted poster he had seen himself on in Carson City. He scratched absentmindedly at his scraggly beard. He would have to keep it. He handed the barkeep a wrinkled bill and took the bottle of the foul whiskey to a table.

Soon enough the jingle jangle of spurs against the wooden boardwalk outside announced the arrival of local cowboys. They filed in under a shroud of dust and slapped coins down on the bar. The Barkeep poured out shots as each newcomer scanned the usual drunks and stopped on Earl, sizing up the stranger. Three of them converged on him.

“Where you in from?” one with a handlebar mustache asked.

“San Fran-cisco,” Earl said, leaning back in his chair to get a better look at them.

“You don’t look city,” another with a tattered sombrero said.

“Because I ain’t,” Earl said. “Took some cattle to market, last of an old rancher who’s passed on. Now I’m looking for a new boss.”

The cowboys glanced at each other. “Tables are for card playing,” Handlebar Mustache said.

Earl leaned forward and moved his bottle of liquor to the center of the table. “Who’s dealing?”

The cowboys passed around another look before taking up seats.

The strangers warmed up to each other as they played. Handlebar Mustache’s name was Joe. He got louder and more boastful with each hand, even though he was steadily losing. Tattered Sombero was Sampson. He drank the most from the bottle and got sloppy quick. The third, who hadn’t spoken up at first, and still didn’t talk much, was Zeke. Zeke had loosened up momentarily, but eyed Earl harder and harder each time Earl claimed the pot.

On Earl’s sixth straight win Joe threw his head back and howled. He chuckled and said, “I’ll lick you yet, Mister.”

Sampson grinned and shook his head. He poured himself another drink from Earl’s bottle, overflowing his glass. Zeke, still holding his cards, glared at Earl.

“You lot want to take a rest from cards?” Earl asked. “Shoot some billiards?”

“Ain’t no pool table,” Zeke said. “Sampson, Deal.”

Earl reached across and took the deck from Sampson all the while looking across the table into Zeke's eyes. Zeke had a gun, an old rusted piece fastened tight into a raggedly leather holster. Earl had noted all three of the men’s unimpressive revolvers when they had joined the table. None of them posed a threat to Earl’s person. They were thick fingered and sloppy with drink, graceless insignificant oafs. Still, they threatened the respite Earl thought he had found.

“Deal,” Zeke said again, louder. The surrounding tables quieted down.

“Why don’t we take a break,” Earl said. “Maybe you all can help acquaint me with one of the ranchers in these parts. I’ll get another bottle.”

Sampson poured himself another drink from the last of their current bottle.

Zeke pounded the table. “We're playing another, Mucker!”

Joe put a hand out. “Ain’t no need for that talk. I’m sitting right next to him, Zeke. I could see he wasn't up to nothing.”

Earl drew in a breath slow through his nose. His temper was an unbroken horse. He struggled to keep it steady. He knew where it would take him if he lost control.

Zeke moved his jaw around as if chewing something. “You’re giving me a chance to win some money back.”

Earl wagered Zeke didn’t have it in him to do actually do anything. “No,” he said, “I’m not.” Zeke’s friends seemed too use to this sort of thing. They seemed bored by it. A part of Earl hoped Zeke would try something, even though it meant heading out into the wild again if he did.

Zeke drunkenly knocked his chair over as he stood. “Stand up!”

Joe took a step toward Zeke with his hand out in a calming motion.

Earl swept his hand across the table and funneled the coins into his purse, trying his best to ignore the fuming man on the other side of the table. Zeke’s hand hovered by his holster. Still, Earl made no aggressive move. Zeke’s fingers trembled. Earl was right. The chicken poo poo didn’t have it in him. Something inside Earl erupted. He felt several times larger than these excuses for men he had shared his liquor with. Two shots rang out. Zeke collapsed, a slug in his chest, a second in his head

“poo poo!” Joe shouted. He angled his hips back and reached for his gun. Before he could get it, he spun around from the impact of the bullet in his shoulder.

Earl stood, both pearl-handled guns out now. Sampson was still fumbling with both hands at his holster, drunkenly trying to draw. Earl sighed and put one in his knee.

Earl surveyed the foolish men lying on the floor. He spat. On his own, he had been too big for this town. He had known it deep down since it had been a speck at the bottom of the switchbacks. He sidestepped to the door keeping an eye on the other patrons who gawked wordlessly.

The barkeep took an old sawed-off shotgun out from under the bar. “You can’t leave just like that. The law will be here soon enough.”

“I could have killed you several times over as you pulled that out,” Earl said, backing toward the exit. “And I’ll put a hole in you before you can pull the trigger.”

“They instigated,” the barkeep said, “but you’ve got to put in your statement.”

Earl didn’t trust the strangers in the bar would have the same account. They'd itch for a lynching. Small men like these always yearn to form a big faceless mob to feel some power. And even if their stories did square, the scrutiny might reveal who he really was. Earl backed out of the saloon.

The Barkeep took his time getting around the bar. He peered out the door after the stranger.

Earl was already a tiny figure speed walking north, out of town, keeping his head down. He shrank into the distance until he was nothing more than a speck.

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