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  • Locked thread
Aug 5, 2013

I believe I am now no longer in the presence of nice people.

I think I would like in on this with Carlsbad, California. An idea popped in for a li'l SoCal Gothic.


Sep 14, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

In, doing some Danville, CA Country Club Gothic.

Sep 13, 2004
To reiterate, I'm in with some English gothic.

Nov 15, 2012

erm... quack-ward
In with Vienna Gothic

almost there
Sep 13, 2016

Here's to not finishing last, again

*drinks so the sadness doesn't creep IN*

whoops, forgot to add I'm in with Toronto gothic

almost there fucked around with this message at 19:18 on Oct 13, 2016

Mar 21, 2013
In with Silicon Valley Gothic


Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
NEXT THUNDERTOME BOOK okay I'll give you what you want, fuckers

8 pm, November 11th, Friday

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

this ones better

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh
I didn't know your real name was Ellis Weiner, seb

Apr 12, 2006
Hawaii Gothic.

May 3, 2003

Who wants to live


College Slice
Colorado Gothic. Heading back into the mines for this one.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
In with Indiana Gothic.

Mar 21, 2010
Signups are closed. Still need one judge if anybody is interested.

Jan 27, 2006
^^^ Interested.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007

Ironic Twist posted:

NEXT THUNDERTOME BOOK okay I'll give you what you want, fuckers

8 pm, November 11th, Friday


feel free to have wrong opinions about this book, I will be happy to help you correct them come 11/11

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Sure I'll read Herbert West's Dunce

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007


The Graveyard King (Silicon Valley Gothic, 1,487 words)

Atop his throne of moss and stone
there sits a giant, wizening.
He hems, he haws! He flaps his jaws,
for he is Nezz, the Graveyard King!

Nezz shut his eyes to better see. Nasty ol' North Wind had blustered into San Francisco, and though he might pester the locals for weeks, soon enough he'd honker down to Godsgate Grove. Last census saw 460 bats; they'd need shelter.

Normally Nezz would clear out Corpse Cavern for them, but Amy was due any day now. Nezz could still see the tears of pride and joy in her eyes as she begged him for sanctuary. Wolves that old don't usually have pups, but a prayer answered late is better than a prayer answered never.

No, that cave was hers for as long as she'd need it. Maybe Nezz could squeeze the bats into the ding-dong bell tower. The gargoyles would protest, but they'd been crotchety about everything since they'd fallen out of favor with the architects. A little company would do those ding-dongs good.

Nezz furrowed his brow. That wasn't a kind thought. He didn't really think they were--


Oh. Visitors.

Nezz came back to reality and sized his guests up. Behind his herald stood three scrawny gremlins. One had hair dyed garish blues and greens. The next had mismatched tattoos scattered every-which-way. The third had a face littered with piercings: ears, nose, lips, tongue, even eyebrows. They were not the kind of critters Nezz was used to. Still, it was his duty to hear them out. Nezz gestured to Harold to begin the formalities.

"Though young and fresh, here in the flesh,
before you stands a gremlin ring.
For minor perks they offer work
to you, the self-made Graveyard King."

Nezz nodded his head in time and thought for a moment before replying.

"That gremlins dare is rather rare
to dig and lathe and lift and sling,
but as your lord I shall reward
the subjects of the Graveyard King."

"Does that mean--"

Harold silenced the gremlins. Newcomers never had a knack for court, but they'd learn. After brief chittering amongst themselves the gremlins scampered off. Harold bowed before departing.

Let's see, where to put them? Gremlins didn't like manual labor, but it was a fact of life in the graveyard. Always a headstone needed righting or a lychgate reinforcing. The mausoleum looked awful barren these days; he'd have them hang some ivy.

Nezz scribbled a few new entries in the assignment ledger and put it back on its podium. Harold would get them settled; Nezz had to pay a visit to the necromancers. Their incantations and rituals didn't actually summon him, but they performed them so passionately that he felt compelled to play along. Theological debates aside, showmanship was good for the soul.


A week had gone by, and Nezz was glad to come home. Sneaking through cities was no easy task for a golem of gold and miry clay. Nezz' eyes were caught by several graves with thin layers of ice atop them. Why hadn't those been salted?

Nezz lumbered toward his throne but stopped when he saw Harold frantically flipping through the ledger. Harold's ruddy brown hair was disheveled and his clothing untucked. Nezz had never seen him so shabby.

"What's going on?" Nezz asked.

Harold's head jerked up and his eyes took a moment to focus. "Oh, Nezz, thank God. The skeletons have gone on strike. They say that mining hurts their bones, and they don't even need the salt, so why should they bother? Meanwhile the zombies are using that as an excuse not to leave their graves, yet they still demand fresh brains. And that's not even the worst of it."


"Yeah. Maybe you'd better see for yourself. Head out to the mausoleum. I've got to mollify the manticore."

Nezz chewed on his lip as he plodded toward the mausoleum. He arrived to find it dilapidated, with a makeshift barricade of wooden planks blocking the entryway.

The polite thing to do would be to knock. Nezz' heavy silver knuckles punched a hole right through it. Oops. A chorus of shrieking pierced the air as Nezz cleared out the debris and stepped inside.

"Help, help! He's invading our safe space!" a gremlin shrieked.

"Safe space? This is Dracula's private office. You were supposed to decorate it."

"Hanging gardens is hard!" whined another. "You just don't understand because you're tall and strong. But it's a lot to ask of goblins like us."

"Goblins? But you're clearly gremlins."

"How dare you call us gremlins!" the third yapped. "You think just because we're small and have large fuzzy ears that you can stereotype us? That's discrimination!"

"I meant no offense--" Nezz began.

"Then apologize!"

Nezz took a slow breath. "I'm sorry I misspoke. You can be whatever you want to be. In fact, it's good to have aspirations. But it's also good to work together to achieve--"

"Work? All you do is sit on that throne and boss people around. Meanwhile we're starving and shivering and we don't even have a home. That's not fair, not fair at all! Dracula has a bunch of houses; he doesn't need this one!"

"But he provides valuable accounting services which allow our business to expand year-over-year."

"Oh, and just because he provides value means he gets to kick us out on the streets? You don't even realize how hard it is for us hobgoblins; everyone just does what you say because you're big and scary."

"Now hold on a minute. I've spent decades building up this industry, and our affiliates look to me for my wisdom and experience."

"No, that's just your Fright Privilege talking. You shouldn't treat people that way."

The other two gremlins nodded eagerly and they all began shouting, "No Fright Privilege! No Fright Privilege!" not quite in unison. Nezz clenched his teeth and walked away; he needed some time to think.

Back on his throne, which had the words "Jack Lives Matter" smeared onto it with pumpkin pulp, Nezz closed his eyes and tried to balance himself. Not everyone was suited to every task, that's true, but Nezz saw that as an opportunity. He himself wasn't inclined to leadership, but after learning to hone and direct his thoughts he'd grown into the most successful manager Godsgate Grove had ever known.


Nezz opened his eyes to see the trio of gremlins in front of a whole host of other inhabitants: skeletons, zombies, ghouls and ghosts. Harold was nowhere to be found.

"We're tired of your oppression!" the gremlin shouted. "We demand that you follow this list of rules that we've created, to ensure everyone is treated fairly and equally. Number one: you must not refer to a creature by type. Just because you want to belittle someone by calling them a gremlin doesn't mean they're not actually a majestic orc. Number two--"

Nezz rose wearily to his feet and wandered off while the gremlins yammered away. They didn't even notice his departure. He didn't really believe he'd been oppressive, but if that was what the workers wanted, maybe they'd be better off without him. Nezz could use a little more simplicity in his life; maybe he'd clean up the unsightly garbage on the outskirts of town.


Grey-haired Harold led a patron back to the entrance. "We'll have one of our guys swing by tomorrow night to pick it up. You don't have to worry about a thing."

The man thanked him and got back in his rental car. Once he was out of sight, Nezz relaxed. His We-Haul brand scrapyard had become wildly successful, but it was hard work, made all the more so by the fact that he had to stand statue-still and let Harold speak for him when humans were about.

Nezz had enough work to keep himself busy through the coming full moon, though it was increasingly difficult to come up with excuses for the business' closure. But that would change when Harold retired. Then Nezz would have to find another protégé, and everything old would be new again. Except Nezz -- he'd still be old.

Yipping broke Nezz out of his reverie and he looked down to see Amy's pup with a scrap of leather in his mouth.

"Hey, Nezz. Mom says to give you this. You should come visit. Godsgate Grove is really nice now that it's overrun with animals."

Nezz patted him on the head and picked up the parcel. "Thanks, Gubby. Maybe I'll do that when business slows down. But right now I'm swamped."

"Okay, well, I gotta go hunt squirrels. I'll catch ya later."

Nezz bade Gubby farewell then looked at the piece of scrap. Scratched haltingly into the leather were the following words:

In banished junk there stands a hunk
who'll help you out for not a thing.
He's strong, he's wise, with prescient eyes,
he's Nezz, the mighty Junkyard King!

Sailor Viy
Aug 4, 2013

And when I can swim no longer, if I have not reached Aslan's country, or shot over the edge of the world into some vast cataract, I shall sink with my nose to the sunrise.

The Forbidden Room
Australian Gothic, 1440 words

“I miss you is all,” said Susan. “It’s going to blow over soon, right?”

“Sooner or later, sure. Just can’t say how long it’s going to take.” Don’s voice on the Skype call was splintered by rural internet speeds. “Listen, I’ve asked mum to come down there in a few days’ time. Think you can keep yourself busy until then?”

She nodded. “I love you.”

“You too honey.”

She did miss him, though not as much as she’d expected to. Mostly she missed Queensland, and the sun that would be shining there at this time of year. She Skyped her girlfriends back home, but it was clear they would rather be out on the beach instead of sitting inside, squinting at her tiny pixelated face.

She wished she had gone with Don to Melbourne. When he left he’d said it would only be an overnight trip—but that was before they’d known the full scope of the incident. Now the days dragged on one after another, while the endless rain swept in from the sea. Winter was clinging on far longer than it had any right to. All down the South Gippsland coastline, the other holiday houses remained empty. One day she had put on her raincoat and walked down the beach for miles without seeing anyone. This was her honeymoon—an empty mansion overlooking a grey sea.

She was almost glad when she noticed the dark stains at the back of the laundry closet. It gave her something to do at least. She had always prided herself on keeping her own home clean, even though she could afford to hire someone. Scrubbing out every last trace of the mould killed a good few hours. She had a glass of wine as a reward, and then it was back to the waiting.

On the TV that evening, the news was still running with the story. Another one of the asylum seekers had died in hospital that day. Someone in the Senate was calling for an inquiry.

“Honestly I recommend you don’t even watch that poo poo,” Don told her. “It’s their job to blow hot air, that’s all. Journos and politicians both.”

“I know. It’s still scary.” She hesitated. “If there was an investigation, it couldn’t come back to you, could it?”

“No chance. It’s all on the local contractors. Our company can’t be held liable.”

“That’s good.”

A heavy silence. Then he said: “Alright. I’ve got to go.”

“Wait—I couldn’t find the paperwork for the apartment in Brisbane. It isn’t in your study, is it?”

“Honey, you know there’s no reason for you to go in my study.”

“Your little man cave, you mean,” she teased.


“I know, I know. I won’t go in there.”

The study thing was just a little quirk of his, that was all. It really wasn’t a study at all—just a concrete room at the back of the carport on the ground floor. He didn’t do his work in there. In fact he rarely went there at all. He said he just needed to have some space that was private from everybody. Everybody included his wife.

He’d first told her about the room last year, when he’d brought her down from Brisbane to meet his family. At first Susan had thought he was joking. Then she’d teased him for it, which he had taken good-naturedly. At last she’d realised he was completely serious, and after a little while she’d accepted it. It really was just a little thing. She hadn’t bothered to mentioned it to her friends back home.


She’d been sure she had gotten all of the mould, but the next morning she could smell it in the air—not just in the laundry but the kitchen as well. It triggered her asthma and she had to have a double helping of Ventolin before breakfast.

“Well then,” she said to herself, pulling on rubber gloves. “Today we’re going to do it right.”

The house was less than three years old—a showpiece of sleek Modernism, towering over the headland, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the Bass Strait. It seemed like the clean lines of such a building would leave nowhere for mould to hide, but once she set to work she found it everywhere. It had crept in behind every piece of furniture and at back of every drawer. It had even grown back in the laundry, where she had scrubbed the day before. She gave a little hysterical laugh when she saw that—it was almost too ridiculous to be funny.

She’d been running the central heating day and night to keep the unseasonal cold at bay. She guessed that this, combined with rising damp, had created the problem. She scoured each room from top to bottom and aired them out afterwards. The only room she left alone was Don’s man cave.

Exhausted but satisfied, she sat down for their nightly Skype call. Instead she got a single text: ‘Held up at meetings tonight. Will call soon. Mum will be there tomorrow morning. Don x’.

She laughed to herself. She must be getting lonely if even her mother-in-law seemed like a good prospect for company. She poured one glass, two glasses, and went to bed.


When she woke her skin was crawling with dread and at first she couldn’t tell why. A wild storm was howling outside, but the air indoors was uncomfortably warm and cloying. It was dark and she couldn’t breathe. There was a thick smell of damp in the air.

She found her inhaler and sucked on it until her lungs were working properly again. Then she got up and walked through the house in her nightdress. It was 3am. The windows were black and rippling with constant rain. The choking smell led her toward the carport stairs.

She turned on the light in the stairwell and stifled a scream. Long moist fingers of blackness were crawling up the walls. They clung to the corners as though afraid of the light.

Covering her face with her sleeve, she descended into the carport. The air down there was even more humid than upstairs, and the floor was covered by a few centimetres of water. Mould coated the walls, radiating out from the door of the forbidden room.

Water seeped through her slippers as she went forward.

When she opened the door, a breath of pungent air swept out and the fluorescent light of the carport swept in. Through streaming eyes, Susan saw a dark, swollen shape, encrusted all over with black mould. It had the rubbery stiffness of a newborn child, but it was huge, swelling against the corners of the room. She could hear its laboured breathing. It was in pain.

She turned and fled, but her own lungs were betraying her. White spots flickered at the corners of her vision. She made it halfway up the stairs before she passed out.


She woke to sunlight and fresh air. She was lying in her bed again. In the next room there were footsteps and a faint, intermittent hiss—the sound of somebody spraying something.

After a few minutes the door opened and Don’s mother Anne stepped in.

“You’re awake,” she said. “Do you remember what happened to you?”

“Anne,” said Susan. “Listen, there’s something in that room downstairs. It’s something—horrible—”

Anne’s expression did not change. “Come now, Susan. Don’s been very open with you about what he has to keep in that room. I was there when he showed it to you last summer, just before he proposed. Remember?”

Susan blinked.

“You said you were fine with it, but you preferred not to know.”

There was a long pause, then Susan nodded dully. “Yes. I remember.”

“Well, it’s being taken care of now. We won’t let it grow that big again.”

There was a knock at the door. A man came in wearing tradesmen’s overalls and some kind of spray-tank on his back.

“We should be finished in about an hour,” he told Anne. “Dr. Anderson just wants to know if he needs to hang around any longer.”

He and Anne both looked at Susan.

“Susan?” said Anne. “It’s been almost a year since the last time. How do you feel about it now? Would you prefer to forget again?”

Susan looked out the window at the beach. The sky and the sea were mirror images of blue. It was a gorgeous spring day at last.

“Yes,” she said. “As soon as possible, please.”

Sep 13, 2004
I reluctantly withdraw. Several irl things are eating away at my time and I can't realistically produce anything for Thunderdome in time.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Beige posted:

I reluctantly withdraw. Several irl things are eating away at my time and I can't realistically produce anything for Thunderdome in time.

Cool, thanks for the tips!

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Djeser posted:

Cool, thanks for the tips!

Cool, thanks for being a passive aggressive sniping jackass!

Feb 25, 2014

Chairchucker posted:

Cool, thanks for being a passive aggressive sniping jackass!

any time :thumbsup:

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
unless you all are prepared to throw down in a word fight, i'm going to have to ask you all to be a little more excellent to each other

we are men of action, shitposts do not become us

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica

Sitting Here posted:


feel free to have wrong opinions about this book, I will be happy to help you correct them come 11/11

Suspicions confirmed:
Sitting Here is a Bene Gesserit witch...

Jul 2, 2007

There's no need to rush to be an adult.

This Old House
1495 words

The fire crackled gently across from my place on the couch, the scent of burning cedar coming with the rolling warmth as my fingers worked over the keyboard. Punch, shoot, jump. I was exhausting my source of roms on the small laptop my dad helped me refurbish over the summer. It’s original mission of helping me with my schoolwork went out the window as soon as I learned about emulators and all the games I hadn’t played yet.

I was going through one of those games when my sister’s boyfriend came in the room, giving a casual nod to my dad before he walked over to my seat with that long stride that looked odd on his short, thin form. “What’s up, buddy?” Steven said, leaving his hand a bit too long on my shoulder, knowing it’d press my buttons as I scrambled to hit pause and pull away from him.

“Just playing games,” I said, watching him back up, poo poo-eating grin plastered on his face. “What’s up?”

“Wanted to ask you something,” He moving back towards the doorway. “Come on.”

I wasn’t exactly jumping at the chance to head out onto the porch on an October night, but Steven was one of the few friends I had in high school despite his abrasive nature. I set the laptop down and shuffled out the front door, immediately regretting not sliding on some shoes as my feet touched the cold wood. “So?”

“Me and some guys are going to check out the Holstead house,” He said, hands jammed in his coat pockets. “Want to come along?”

That caught my attention. Rumors swirled around town about Old Man Holstead who lived on the edge of town, only coming in for groceries or a stop by the bar. No one even realized he’d frozen to death in his house until a cook at the bar asked why he hadn’t come in over the past few weeks. They found him dead in the kitchen, bottle in hand. He’d been the talk of the town since last winter, breaking the streak of the man who ended up committing suicide in a grain elevator.

It made a neat story. What else would we talk about?

“I don’t know, man.” I said, opening the door to the house and reaching for my boots. “Didn’t they lock the doors?”

“Who uses doors?” He said, giving me a slap on the back before he went to go find my dad and make up some story to cover for us. By the time he came back Dad was telling me to be safe, to stick to the roads with lights on them and to call when I got to my friend’s house. We headed out, watching as the snow gently fell in the light of the street lamps.

We talked about school, Steven entering his last semester and already planning on moving with my sister to college to leave me to go through the rest of high school without them. I changed the subject to some work on rom hacking I was doing with some help online. It helped pass the time as we headed across town.

Steven walked up ahead, waving to a beige hatchback that was parked next to an empty field separating the house from the road. The door opened up and two seniors stepped out, both of them taller than I was. I remembered one knocking my books out of my hand once, and the other almost got expelled for trying to fight a kid with a pottery knife. “What’s he doing here?” Knife kid said, looking over at me.

“He’s cool,” Steven said. “Besides, he brought the flashlights.”

That was my cue, reaching into my jacket to pull out the small lights my dad tended to pick up from the hardware store, handing them over to the seniors. “Good looking out,” He said to Steven, checking the light a few times before going back to ignoring me. I followed behind as we headed into the field, cones of light sweeping out ahead of us. The worn troughs, still hidden by the snow, were deep enough to catch ankles, making us step carefully through the rows until the ground evened out and we reached the porch steps. The only sound coming from our footsteps and the long highway nearly a half mile away.

The clouds above were glowing with moonlight, the house standing like a shadow cast against the sky. Steven brought his light up the old wooden steps, up to the thick wooden door with a missing handle where the police kicked it in. Yellow police tape criss-crossed over the door, and a shiny new lock and latch kept it closed. Without a word, Steven walked around the left side, the rest of us following him in silence as he found a low window.

Me and Knife stood back, shivering in the cold as Steven and his friend levered the bottom of the window with a multi-tool, getting enough room to push it up. Steven went in first, pitching forward into the darkness before reaching a hand out. I was the last to climb inside, two arms pulling on my jacket as Steven took my hand, hefting me up with ease.

“See?” His friend said, light beaming around the room. “No one ever checks the windows.” His light scanned around what used to be a living room. The dust was thick enough to see with the flashlights, swirling and churning as Knife sauntered over to a sofa, giving it a kick to bring up more dust.

“poo poo’s old, man.” Knife said, turning around. “Why are we here?”

“You got anything else going on?” Steven said, heading towards the stairs. “Keep the lights out of the windows. My dad’d beat my rear end if I got tossed in jail.”

We began to spread out through the house, my flashlight beam sweeping ahead of me, seeing little more than swirling dust and old furniture. I didn’t know what I was expecting, walking through the memory of some old man’s life. Until I looked at the walls and saw that others had been here before.
MS10 4 LYFE!
GREAT HEAD, followed by a number I knew but don’t want to share.
…and a collection of crude boobs and dicks lined the walls. My foot came down on something that crunched and I recoiled in surprise, looking down at a broken picture frame, the photo long gone. From somewhere up above, I heard footsteps. I could hear Steven laughing in another room, echoing through the halls.

My feet kept moving forward, the floor changing from hardwood to fake tile. A chill ran down my spine. Didn’t Holstead die in the kitchen? My beam crept along the old, splintered cabinets, lingering near the sink full of old dishes and a stove left open, and I saw it.

The chalk had faded over the past year, covered with dust. A hat, an old mesh thing with a bent bill and a yellow deer sat near one of the cabinets. He was wearing it when he died, when his body stopped shivering and he came into a kitchen with no gas, desperate for warmth but too proud to ask for help. Where he wanted one last drink. I reached down, feeling the cloth bill in my fingers. Where did he get it from? Why did the police leave it?


I twisted and lurched forward as Knife’s mocking laughter filled the room, something cold and jagged pressing into my back. “gently caress! That was great!” He hooted, the footsteps getting louder. My back flared with pain and I tried to scream but my breath caught in my throat. “Your face, man! That was loving priceless!” He said as I tried to speak up with tears welling in my eyes. “Dude, come see this poo poo!” Knife yelled, turning back to me as I coughed up something warm. His face went white.

He scrambled down to my side, cursing as he reached for my shoulder, numb as Steven and his friend rounded the corner, looking down at the blood staining my shirt, the splintered remains of a cabinet door jutting out of my back. I cried and coughed up more blood when they lifted me up and carried me back out to the road, ruining Steven’s jacket before they lay me down in the backseat. Each bump in the road sent agony through me, the wood working it’s way in deeper before I passed out.

I spent the next week in the hospital, injection after injection, bland meal after bland meal. My family came to see how I was doing. Steven came, apologized every time. I told him it wasn’t his fault, or anyone’s. poo poo like that just happened out here.

Besides, at least it’d make a neat story. What else would we talk about?

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010


Came down with cold, not going to make deadline. Toxx forthcoming at my next available sign up. :smith:

Aug 5, 2013

I believe I am now no longer in the presence of nice people.

The Thirst of the Land
(Carlsbad Gothic, 1334 words.)

“Are you sure you wish to go through with this?”

“Yes. I’ve come to terms with myself, if you must know. Plus money doesn’t come cheap for a man my age.”

“But of course. Though, once it happens… well… coming back would be like doing this a second time. You can’t come back to how it was before. Do you understand?”

“I understand fully. “

“Then prepare yourself. The sacrifice happens after complete sundown.”

After a brief handshake, the two men shook hands. The one that had spoken looked to be in his mid-20s, and in rather rough shape. The attire on his body was supposed to convey an image of professionalism in this environment, consisting of a blue polo and black pants. His conversational partner was better groomed, even sporting a button-down shirt. The rugged man stared at the ground, letting a wave of depression wash over his structure. He felt as if he just signed his own death warrant, all in the name of having more than a few dollars to throw around. Not to mention the idea of sustaining the town’s energy for hopefully more than a year. With a sluggish pace, he walked to the lobby. A pamphlet caught his eye, with the title being “Why Carlsbad Needs Sacrifices”. Quietly, he picked one copy up, and began to read.

“I wouldn’t believe that pamphlet if I were you.” A passing janitor spoke. “Just saying.”

“Why’s that?” the man responded.

“It’ll try to convince you that your job’s all about keeping this city alive and prosperous. Most everyone here don’t care about that, deep down. “ The janitor walked away, continuing his routine of cleaning the floor and emptying the waste bins. “But you should still read it. Get an idea on what you just got yourself into.”

Moments pass. The rugged man eventually flipped through the pamphlet, skimming over the various categories. Only one caught his eye. The one that said, “How The Process Goes”. With a curious look, he began to read the category.

“The actual process has to remain a secret, as per city regulations. But at the end of the process, you’ll be a new person, ready to help ring in tourism for the city to prosper from!” the section read. “So be ready to help bring in those tourists. For more tourists equals more prosperity for Carlsbad!”

A grumble passed his lips. While the idea of chucking the pamphlet away crossed his mind, he slid it into his back pocket.

“Could be useful to burn some charcoal with”, he mumbled as he left the building.


A few hours later, the rugged man was face-to-face with the ocean. He stood upon a sandy platform, in the same outfit he had on during the interview process. Around him, the area was black as pitch, save for a full moon and a few torches blazing in the wind. To his side was the man who interviewed him, now adorned in a black hooded robe. If the setting had more light at this time, they could see the small crowd of people with expensive cameras snapping photos from the sea wall.

“Remember. You can’t come back to this type of person after this is all done.” The hooded man said. “Are you positive you wish to do this?”

“Yes, I’m positive.” The man replied.

“Very well, then. I’ll start the ritual.”

The hooded figure stepped in front of the man, with his arms outstretched. He began to speak in what must have been an ancient dialect, complete with his hands taking on a sinister red glow. After a few seconds, the waters before them calmed. The full moon was suddenly obscured by passing clouds. Suddenly, the sound of something rising from the water could be heard. Yet, nothing could be seen coming from the water, even with the help of dozens of flash photography cameras going off. The hooded man stepped back soon after the sound was heard.

“It’s time. Good luck.” He said, stepping off the platform.

Just then, an ethereal hand emerged from the shadows of the ocean. It was white as bone, and featureless to boot. Rather than make a grab towards the sacrifice, the hand seemed to offer itself to the sacrifice before it. With a bit of hesitation, the man grasped the hand with his own hand. Fear had shot through his body, as the hand took a firmer grip and began to pull. His mind tried to resist the pull… yet he allowed himself to be taken by the hand. As he walked forward, the light of the torches shrank away into the horizon. Before he knew it, the hand he followed led him beneath the waves.

Meanwhile, the hooded figure watched as the sacrifice was taken away. All he could do was nod in approval, despite the sacrificed man’s fate being unknown to him.

“It… is done. Another sacrifice for the great of our city.” He murmured to himself.

Once underwater, the man tried holding his breath. He knew he wouldn’t last. Around him was a void. A completely darkened area, with nothing but the glow of the hand to light the way.

“Breathe, child.” A voice called out.

Just like that, the man took a deep breath in. The breath felt like air to him. Among varied breaths, he looked around.

“You shall serve to help me draw the sustenance your city needs.”

Just then, a white face formed in front of him. He wanted to scream in surprise. But… nothing came forth. Just confused thoughts remained.

“Who are you…?” the man asked.

“Don’t worry about that. For now, worry about what will happen to you.” The face replied.

Just then, a second hand similar to the first formed. The palm of this hand pressed against the man’s chest, before pulling back. Between the man’s chest and the palm, strands of energy could be seen. It didn’t take long to realize that those strands of energy were really his soul. He braced for his soul to be ripped from his flesh, ready to endure the pain it could bring. Yet, the soul was completely out of him before he fully braced for it.

“It is painless. You won’t even realize when we’re done.”

The second hand moved towards the man’s eyeballs, as if ready to pluck them out of their sockets. His vision caught a blinding white light as the hand closed in around his eye sockets.


The man awoke with a startled yelp. Panicked breathing followed his sudden awakening. Before long, he looked around. He was at home. Everything was as it seemed. Except… something felt wrong. Something was just a bit off about what “home” is. The man remembered his home was just a one-story house in the suburbs with a mostly tan exterior and a basic roof. Despite this place being exactly as he envisioned his home to be, he couldn’t help but be suspicious. Slowly, he started to the bathroom. Along the way, his feet brushed against hard wood flooring, as the walls were but a basic white. This was indeed home. He must have dreamt the bits about the sacrifice.

As he washed his face inside the bathroom, the man looked into the mirror. He looked less rugged than before, even clean shaven for once. The man couldn’t help but notice he was actually pretty well groomed for the day. Suddenly, his hand reached for his back pocket. Fingers confirmed the presence of a pamphlet. Shock came over his body, as he slowly pulled the pamphlet forth.

“Why Carlsbad Needs Sacrifices” was the title. As he opened the pamphlet, a small piece of folded paper fell out. He caught it before it touched the damp sink, quickly unfurling it.

“You start on Monday at the location listed below. Sacrificing yourself will go a long way to help preserve Carlsbad for years to come. From all of us here at City Hall, we thank you.” The paper said.

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Chairchucker posted:

Cool, thanks for being a passive aggressive sniping jackass!

Haha, me too, all the time! I don't know how he does it!

Mar 21, 2010

Djeser posted:

Haha, me too, all the time! I don't know how he does it!
Shut up and end this stupid derail now.

Feb 17, 2007

The best angel of all.
A Night Out 1,484 words

Ypsilanti, MI Gothic

John sat across from me with one arm sprawled on the table, his hand curled around a half-empty bourbon. The other arm propped up his head. His eyelids drooped down, and every once in a while, his head nodded before he jerked it upright. I could smell the booze on his breath with each exhalation.

My own drink was still full. He’d ordered another round while I was in the bathroom, and I hadn’t decided whether to drink or not. The amber liquid shook, then began to slosh close to the brim. I looked at it with a frown until I heard the blast of a train whistle, then picked up the glass before it could spill.

A moment later, an Amtrak blew by while the whole building rattled around me. John turned his head to stare out the window, grunted, then dragged his glass to his lips. He drained it with a wince.

“I think it’s time to go.” I flagged down our waitress. I handed her my card, and she gave me a brief smile before flashing a glare at John. Christ, I didn’t want to know what he’d done while I was off pissing.

“Not gonna finish that?” He pointed at my drink.

“No. I told you I’d had enough.”

He reached for it and I snatched it back.

“You’ve had enough, too.”

“gently caress you, Greg.” He sagged back in his chair, pouting. “That’s what Rita said. Had enough of me drinking.”

I squeezed my eyes shut and took a deep breath.

The waitress brought my receipt. I stood and shrugged into my coat. John staggered to his feet, bowling into the back of the guy at the next table. I muttered an apology and threw John’s arm over my shoulders.

Outside, the street was empty. Leaves blew in the gutter. I steered John toward the crosswalk, but the railroad signal lit up and started tolling. A giant engine lumbered into view. I could see cars stretching far down the tracks.

“Let’s sit you down.” I turned him toward a bench, and he shoved away from me.

“Hell with that. It’s cold. I wanna take a walk.” He turned and listed down the sidewalk. I watched him go half a block before I followed. This whole night was a mistake.

I hung back far enough not to crowd him, but close enough I could reach him if he tripped. He headed right for the stairs down into Frog Island park. I grabbed his elbow.
“You’re going to kill yourself if you try those stairs. Let’s cross the bridge and go down the ramp.” I pulled him toward the sidewalk, but he jerked back.

“gently caress that. I’m not that drunk.” He clutched the railing and took the stairs in slow, methodical steps. Behind me, the railroad signal stopped and the guardrails rose. I sighed and followed him down.

The boardwalk over the river creaked as we made our way across. Beneath, the Huron burbled over stones and around old fallen trees that looked more like giant pieces of driftwood. John lurched his way to the opposite bank and staggered on into the park. He walked right up to the bank and plopped down in the frosted grass.

“Though you were cold,” I said.

“Head ‘s spinning.” He bent and cradled his head in his hands.

“I need to piss.” I headed toward the only structure in the park, a covered pavilion with a brick building on one end. “Try not to puke on yourself while I’m gone.”

I could kill Lisa for putting me up to this. I’d never liked her brother. He’d drunk himself out of U of M, wound up in some shithole apartment, and been utterly shocked when his fiancé left him over it. I’d agreed to take him out and try to cheer him up. Now I was stuck babysitting.

The bathrooms were locked, so I stepped behind the building and unzipped. When I finished, two men stood on either side of John. Both wore dark hoodies and black pants. They were hauling John upright by the elbows. John snatched one arm back and staggered. The man stepped forward and drove his fist into John’s face. John’s knees buckled. He only kept his feet because the other man still held him up.

“Hey!” My voice echoed through the empty park. Both men froze, their gazes locked onto me. I stormed over with clenched fists. The man who hit John stepped forward with one hand extended, palm up. As I reached him, he blew. White powder swirled out of his hand and coated my face. I gasped. Bitterness filled my mouth. My nose burned. Tears filled my eyes. Nausea rolled over me. I had the vague sensation of falling. Stars burst in my eyes when my head hit the ground. Darkness bled in from the corners of my vision. The last thing I remembered were vice-like hands grabbing my ankles and the feeling of the grass sliding under me.


I woke shivering on wet ground. The smell of moldering plants and rancid water filled my nose. I tried to roll. Course rope bound my hands and ankles. A sack covered my head, the opening tied tight around my throat.

A low chanting filled the air. Somewhere among the murmuring, John was sobbing.

I strained at the bonds around my wrists, twisting my hands, trying to free one. Sharp heat bloomed in my wrists, and a warm trickle ran up my arm.

I heard a wet plop. A huge buzzing, like a frog on steroids, pierced the night. The chanting rose. John’s voice rose above the noise, shrill and intense.

“Jesus! Jesus, what the gently caress?”

Something scuttled through dried reeds. The buzzing came in excited chirrups, cycling faster and faster. John screamed once. There was a sudden snap, and the scream turned into a wet, choking whistle. I heard the reeds snap and break, then a loud splash, and silence swept in.

Rough hands grabbed my arms. I squirmed, but someone else grabbed my ankles and put a booted foot on my knees. He pulled my feet up and pain shot through my legs. I froze. A cold blade slipped between my wrists, jerked, and my hands were free. Another sharp tug freed my ankles. Hands pinned my arms and legs, and a knife slipped between my neck and the cinched bag. I held my breath. The blade twisted, the edge scraping at my skin. Then it pulled away, hard and fast. The sack went loose, but a bright ribbon of pain burned on my throat. I clutched at the wound, expecting jets of blood, but found just a few drops had welled up. A hand clutched the end of the sack and yanked it off, pulling a clump of hair with it.

I blinked. A dozen hooded figures knelt over me. One leaned in close, and I saw a small, cherubic face framed in the hood. He grinned, looking almost friendly.

“I’m so sorry you got involved in this. We only needed one, and your friend was a prime candidate. A drunk, alone in the park at night? Who knows what could have happened to him?” He sighed and gave a little shrug. “Unfortunately, you’re here now, and it will not mind another sacrifice.”

He gestured to the other men. Blades glinted in the air above me. They tore into my clothing, slicing through sleeves, pant-legs, my underwear. Goosebumps crawled over my flesh. Two of the men grabbed my arms and hauled me to my feet. They dragged me to a muddy clearing separated from a swamp by about fifty feet of dried reeds. A puddle in the middle of the clearing reflected pink moonlight. My stomach turned. Two paths had been rent through the reeds.

The men kicked the backs of my knees and I collapsed into the mud. The cherubic man began chanting, and the others joined him. Bubbles rose in the swamp.

Something crawled ashore. Spindly arms and legs stuck out at odd angles. The stabbed up into the night as it edged through the reeds. That frog-like croak rang from its throat.

The man to my left released my arm and stepped away. Before the other could do the same, I whipped my arm over and grabbed his wrist. Sudden movement flashed at the corner of my eye and I yanked the man in front of me. He shrieked, and then two claws burst through his throat. He choked, wide-eyed with shock, and then flew backward as the thing retreated for the water.

Shocked silence surrounded me. I shot to my feet and charged the man at the end of the semi-circle surrounding me. I hit dead center with my shoulder and swept past into the woods. Branches whipped me. I could hear them shouting behind me. Somewhere in the distance, headlights flashed by.

a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish

Above and Below
Appalachian Gothic, Flash Rule 1
Word count: 1452

a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 03:30 on Dec 15, 2016

Mar 21, 2013
I'm prob going to end up submitting after the deadline fyi, but my story will probably be up before 2 pst at the latest

Your Sledgehammer
May 10, 2010

Don`t fall asleep, you gotta write for THUNDERDOME
Eyes in the Darkness
Texas Gothic, 1140 words

“Three languages,” the town was called. Officially, they were Spanish, English, and the tongue of the Mescalero Apache, but residents knew them to be Spite, Rancor, and Ugliness. To say that the three cultures who lived in Terlingua maintained a weary truce would pervert the meaning of the phrase beyond recognition. It wasn’t even a grudging tolerance that had taken hold. No, it was more like the gnawing pain of a cancer. You put up with it knowing all the while that it will be the death of you.

And as the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, life ground slowly along in Terlingua, Texas the way pitted old bones creak against each other when no cartilage remains. The townfolk knew it’d never get better, only that it’d get worse so slowly that they might as well pay it no mind. That is, until the rich white man opened the mine.

The dark whispers started almost immediately: cinnabar wasn’t the only thing down there in the pits. The Mexican workers took to carrying small wooden crosses and holy water with them down the shafts. La Llorona, they said, La Llorona has come. The local Catholic priest spent less than ten minutes in the entrance of the mine before promptly packing his bags and leaving town for good. Four days later, a worker named Jorge disappeared. The Mexicans went back to their homes across the river and stayed there. With no one to boss, the handful of whites abandoned the mansions that had sprung up on the hillsides.

Even the Mescalero moved off. The land was tainted. Bidáá' had been disturbed, they told each other. “The Eyes.” The spirit of the Big River.


Agent Jeffers hated waiting and found himself pondering quitting his job for the third time this week. If the taxpayers knew how much time Border Patrol agents spent sitting around in their trucks watching things, they’d rightfully flip poo poo, he thought. Jeffers’ half-assed surveillance ended a few minutes later when he saw Dave stumble in through the front door of the bar. He slid the keys out of the ignition and followed him inside.

Dave was already drunk, which would make it easier. Artists, hippies, and drunks were the only folks who could stand living out here in the desert among the ghost town ruins of Terlingua. Jeffers viewed them much the same way the Big Bend tourists did: with polite skepticism. Just like the tourists, though, he needed them.

“You saw ‘em at the Boquillas crossing?” Jeffers asked.

Dave finished his beer and raised an eyebrow at Jeffers. “Don’t cheap out on me now, boy,” Dave said.

Jeffers sighed and signaled the bartender for another round.

“They crossed the river at Boquillas and blew right on through like they ain’t know any better. Didn’t leave trinkets and a money can and turn around. Didn’t stop for nothing. Just walked right out into the desert,” Dave said.

“What time?” Jeffers asked.

“Ten yesterday morning. Didn’t have enough water with ‘em, neither.”

“Which way were they headed?”

“Northwest. Don’t know why you’re wasting your time, they’re just a couple of bodies out in Ernst Basin by now.”

“Thanks,” Jeffers said. He tossed a few bills down on the bar top, put his cowboy hat back on, and left.


Big Bend National Park was huge and unforgiving, nothing but craggy mountains and rock moonscapes surrounded by a desert so dry that even the famed Saguaro Cactus wouldn’t grow. Jeffers knew they’d probably be dead, but he carried both pairs of handcuffs on his belt anyway.

He was halfway up the Ernst Tinaja trail when he spotted them: a couple of dull flashlights gleaming out in the darkness. He picked up his pace.

He was almost to the top of the canyon wall when he felt it. Something wasn’t right. In times like this, training is supposed to take hold. Stop, assess, observe, the instructor had said. But Jeffers found that he couldn’t. He could feel his legs still moving as the hairs on his arm slowly drew themselves up.

It was the lights. They weren’t flashlights, that was for drat sure. They glinted with a sickly sheen as they bobbed around. When folks walk with flashlights, they either tend to hold them straight ahead or move them in slow sweeps. These were moving all wrong; they almost seemed to dance. Jeffers thought of all the bored teenagers in Marfa who’d go stare at the supposed ghost lights outside of town and almost laughed in spite of himself. But those were just car headlights, and he knew these weren’t.

He made it to the top of the canyon and looked down into the tinaja. It was a big empty bowl of stone carved out by centuries of flowing water – water that was long gone. The lights were nowhere to be seen. He shined his flashlight down to the bottom and saw the beam swallowed up by darkness. Those two Mexicans would be dead if they fell down there. But then the sound came to him, and he almost couldn’t believe his ears.

“Por favor,” the voice whispered up from the darkness.

Jeffers knew he was no hero and he’d had about all he could stand. They were just illegals. Happened all the time. They came across the river with a couple of bottles of water and no clue how far they’d have to walk. These would just be two more bodies. Nobody would ask him any questions.

“Por favor, por favor.”

Poor bastards were probably laying down there with broken legs, Jeffers thought. It’d be a hell of a bad way to go. After searching along the edge of the tinaja for a few minutes, he thought he saw a way down. He put his flashlight in his mouth and lowered himself over the edge.

It was slow going. His hand closed over another tenuous handhold when he realized that he didn’t hear voices anymore. He peered down into the darkness.

Two faint greenish lights glowed up at him.

That was more than enough. Jeffers started hauling himself back up. His heart hammered in his chest. He slipped, caught hold of the rock above him, then slipped again. He was trying to go way too fast, and he knew it.

It was a sound that stopped him. A gurgling, forlorn growl coming from the edge of the tinaja directly above him. Sweat beaded on his forehead. He looked down.

The lights were brighter, closer. Not just closer, closing. They were moving towards him.

He reached up, grabbed an outcropping, pulled.

That gurgling growl again, closer than before.

He looked down at inhuman eyes. His training finally took over. He reached for his gun.

Miles away in Boquillas, the Rio Grande gurgled through the desert.

almost there
Sep 13, 2016

Toronto Gothic
1534 words

Fallen From Grace

When Nub noticed the child staring at the lack of stuffing in his right sleeve he felt unnatural, like some bizarre beast. That stare, too impolite for the thousands of adults who passed him by, had in it the omen of truth. The truth that, when Nubs first felt the blowback of the wayward saw blade, led him to frantically embrace the amputated arm spasming fishlike in the wet sawdust. It hadn’t been his new reality that propelled Nub across the wood heap and towards that severed piece of himself; the melancholy thought that he’d have nothing to rub together when he got cold. But rather, it was the fear of becoming something totally and finally unnatural. The feeling of walking around with a morbid story where your arm should be.

The fear of falling from grace.

Nub took comfort in the Beatitudes of Jesus, and so recited after that child had stopped to stare,
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”.


Nub steps out of the church and into the dimming light. The air has a crystal edge to it that leaves daggers in his throat. It isn’t snowing yet, but it will soon. Soon the slowly spreading sheet of down will cover the tar-stained concrete, smother the grass in the park, and charm waking life to rest.

Nub thought of Jim Polanski as he plunged his left hand deeper into his lost&found-plucked coat’s pocket.

Jim was a friend of Nub’s who hadn’t been able to secure a bed at a shelter, mission, or halfway home last winter. Nub had heard through the grapevine that Jim had freeloaded off the kindness of bartenders and that that had eventually led to him being kicked out and into the cold. After Jim had passed out his body had frozen so stiff that the police had to go to the hardware store to pick up some gas heaters just to be able to separate his crystal-enamelled body from the greedy sidewalk. Nub remembers how Jim’s turgid body dropped onto the gurney with a thunk.

Thankfully, Nub and his brother Charlie wouldn’t have to share an oilcloth bed in a shelter this year, in no small part due to the kindness and piety of Father Archibald, Rector of St. Andrews Church. Father Archibald had offered Nub a position as a collection basket-bearer a few months prior, after he caught Nub trying to bless himself with his left hand in the holy water font.

Father Archibald had approached him, dipped his own right hand in to the font, and made the sign of the cross against Nub’s chest and shoulders for him.

“Remember my child,” Father Archibald had said, “Christ is seated on the right-hand of the Father, and we should follow his example.” Nub remembered bowing his head sheepishly and barely getting out a, “Thank you, Father,” before walking past the threshold and into the warm church.

After service had ended, Father Archibald sought Nub out among the parishioners and offered him the job in exchange for food, first pick at the lost & found, and winter shelter in the chapel (closed for the winter season). Nub had been so thankful that he began to weep in Father Archibald’s arms, leading Father Archibald to pat his back and recite,

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth.”

Nub repeats those words into a quickly evaporating cloud of cold.

Not more than a hundred meters down the sidewalk from him, Nub could see familiar faces huddled in a circle around a park bench. Some had blankets around them, and those who didn’t had their fingers curled around a bagged drink instead. Among them sat The Writer, who sat with arms crossed and the collar of his expensive peacoat pulled up against the wind.

“Knob, my man!” Charlie, his brother, cries out. Charlie offers Nub a sip out of his bag, “Be sure you don’t lick your lips before sippin’ or you might have to marry the thing!” he says.

The group of people laugh at Charlie’s joke.

“I guess that means its finally winter, Charlie. We’ll be spending our first night at the chapel tonight.” Nub says and then takes a sip out of the can of beer, “Ahhh, that’s good Charlie. Say, where’d you get the booze?”

“From me,” The Writer says, “I figured you guys could use a well-deserved sendoff. You guys have given me plenty to write about, and I look after my business associates.”

The Writer was an interloper. They came out of the woodwork, sometimes. The Writer’s name is Stephen Stoklanakov. He published a number of semi-famous novels that, through their dark art, turned Nub’s friend’s tragedies in to acclaim.

Stephen continues, “What’s this about a chapel, Nubs? Don’t you already go to church enough as it is?”

“Aye, but this isn’t for prayer. Father Archibald has been kind enough to offer me and my brother shelter from the cold in the chapel down the yard from the cemetery.”

“I presume that prude has offered you that in exchange for pimping out that tragedy of yours,” Stephen says.

“I am his Hand, not some god-forsaken whore. When Father Archibald sees neediness, he makes every effort to provide,” Nub says.

“Where’s my bed then?!” cries out Tipsy, famous for his ability to balance his vertigo with his affliction for the drink. “If he’s so big on helping the needy where’s my big bed?”

“It’s on the floor,” Nub says, “Where you’ve always made it. Come Charlie, we should bring our bedrolls to the chapel.”

“Sure, Nubs, whatever you say.”

Charlie finishes off the beer before raising it to the group and turning around and resting his right hand against Nub’s knobby shoulder.

“I hope it’s not too far of a walk, I can hardly stand.”

Nub recites to himself,
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”


What was a light snowfall at the beginning of Nub and Charlie’s walk had evolved into a snowstorm by the time they arrived at the chapel.

They are greeted by the figure of Father Archibald as he stands behind the altar in his neatly-pressed cassock.

“Welcome, my children,” he says, “to the house of God. I am glad you have made it before the snow proved too troublesome. You will find that I have made preparations for your coming by clearing out the pews.”

“Thank you, Father,” Nub says.

“Yessh, Fatherr, thanks you,” Charlie echoes in a drunken timbre.

Father Archibald says, “You look like you could use a rest, Charlie. Feel free to unfurl your bedroll wherever you so choose. In the meantime, I would like to talk to Nub.”

Charlie shrugs his shoulders and begins to unfurl his bed in the middle of the room.

“Goodnight, brother,” Nub says.

“G’night Knoby.”

Nub approaches Father Archibald, who makes the sign of the cross against Nub’s chest and shoulders.

“Do you consider me righteous, my child?”

“Yes Father, with your righteous hand grasping onto my left, you are the vessel with which my putrid soul is made worthy of the attention of God.”

“Prove it as Abraham did to God with the blood of his own son, Issac.”

Father Archibald looks Nub up and down slowly, considering the man’s dimensions, before letting his left hand fall by his side, the force of the motion driving a pearl-handled dagger out of the sleeve of his cassock and smoothly into the palm of his left hand.

Charlie lets out a sudden snore that causes both parties to glance in Charlie’s direction.

Nub slowly turns his head back towards the rector and asks “Will it be painless?”

“Mostly, my child. A strike through the neck might cause him some pain, but the alcohol will work to numb it and ensure that he bleed out faster.”

Nub nods his head and reaches for the dagger. The dagger’s pearl-handle feels slippery against his palm. His putrid, impure, filthy, yet only, palm. Base and equipped for death.

Nub’s knees on either side of Charlie’s head.

A choking gargle.

Ribbons of crimson blood.

The sound of foot-fall, outside.

“Somebody’s here!”

A door pulled out of Nub’s grasp by the wind.

Lost in the snow.


The following is an excerpt from the October 23rd, 1996, issue of the Toronto Gazer:

Award-winning novelist, Stephen Stoklanakov, most known for critically revered gothic novel “The Beast”, was found murdered in his home on the eve of October 18th,1996. The Toronto Police told the Gazer that the cause of death was blood loss caused by what seems to be a knife wound left by the carving of a pentagram into the victim’s torso. The pentagram, infamous for its use in mystic and magical practices, also features as a prominent motif in Mr. Stoklanakov’s aforementioned novel. If you, or anyone you know, has any information you believe could lead to the capture of the perpetrator, the Toronto Gazer strongly urges you to contact the Toronto Police tip line at : 1-888-STOP-CRIME.

May 3, 2003

Who wants to live


College Slice
Coal Fire

1498 Words
Louisville, Colorado Gothic

"Coal killed a lot of men, you know.. Crushed 'em. Suffocated 'em. Burned 'em. But coal wasn't the worst danger in those mines. Not by a long shot."

The old man leaned away from me, crooked elbow on the bartop, and took a long, slow swig of his beer. The drooped ends of his mustache emerged coated in pale foam. He regarded me.

"I knew your grandaddy, you know."

Seeing as how I had just met this fellow and we hadn't even exchanged names this gave me a moment's pause.

'Is that right?" I asked. I tried to keep the surprise out of my voice. The fact I was on my third beer didn't help.

"Nathaniel Porter was a legend 'round these parts." He looked at me closely. "I'd even say you have his mouth. The same lines. Hard lines, but not ugly." He licked the dying foam from his mustache. "Eyes are the wrong color though."

I didn't know what to say to that, so I took a long pull on my beer. I was pretty sure I wanted nothing to do with this old man. I just wanted to get some drinks in me and head back to my motel. Nothing complicated. This guy looked complicated.

"Yeah, he was a company man through and through," the old-timer continued. "poo poo, I think he even manned the machine gun they used on the company town back during the—the troubles."

I did my best to look nonplussed. But his slate eyes locked onto mine and refused to yield.

"I don't know much about him, he died before I was born," I offered. I took another long draw off my diminishing beer. "But I've heard stories." I broke eye contact and tried to wave over the bartender, but she was busy with a loud group of women at the far end of the bar.

The old man slapped his beer down on the bar and stood upright. "But I'm being rude!" he exclaimed. "I haven't introduced myself. Name's Harlan. Harlan Lennox." He stuck out a gray liver spotted hand towards me.

"I'm Oliver. I mean, Oliver Porter," I said, taking his spindly hand in mine. I was afraid I might crush it, or catch something, so I gave his hand a delicate squeeze. But his grip was strong and my knuckles sheared painfully together.

"Pleased to meet you Oliver, " he said. "Like your grandpa, I was always a good company man. Those were tough years. But it was good to know the company always had our backs. Checks on Tuesdays, a bed to sleep in, plenty of drinks and even women if you saved up enough cash."

I finally caught the bartender's eye and she sauntered over.

"Not as good as the gold miners up the mountains, see..." he continued. His voice faded into the background as I ordered another beer.

I'd chosen this bar because it was walking distance and looked authentic. And now here was stuck with this guy -- a little too authentic. I didn't need this. Just needed to bury my dad and get back to regular life. Two more days and it'd be done and I'd be gone.

Not sure how it happened but two hours later this old guy — what was his name again? — and I were sitting in a darkened booth in the back of the tavern. By then I had a great buzz going and the gentle roar of the bar had faded away under the spell of this geezer feeding me a never-ending supply of stories about the old times. And whiskeys. Lots of whiskeys. Between the booze and his steady voice the time was melting away.

"You know all the taverns in this town used to be connected by underground tunnels," he was saying. "Back in prohibition the miners dug 'em so they could move between bars without the bosses or the police noticing."

I mustered a half-hearted grunt.

"They're still there. Never got filled back in or anything."

Well, three whiskeys later I was following this guy through the back of the tavern into a closet where a loose floorboard led to a rusted iron ladder. Cobwebs grabbed my face and arms as we climbed down. We dropped into a long, slightly sloping mineshaft just large enough to fit a man if he bent over a bit and didn't stretch out his arms. Which we didn't as we started heading downward.

He disappeared around a bend ahead, his ragged gait strangely effective in the cramped confines of the tunnel. I pulled out a lighter and held it in front of me as we descended.

I say "we" like it was both of us, but really it was me chasing his phantom figure ever downward through the twisting passages. The air was thin and my breathing became rough. My head buzzed from the whiskeys and the exertion but still I pushed on. The old guy had promised he had something to show me, a proposition that had sounded far more reasonable up in the bar. But here I was. The lighter in my hand was starting to burn so I let it die. A faint light came from the tunnel ahead — maybe we were close. I hadn't seen the old man for a couple of minutes but I could always hear the echo of his scrabbling movements. But not now. Now it was silent as a tomb.

Around a blind corner and I almost walked right into a metal door standing slightly ajar. It had a small, smoky glass window cut into the center which glowed faintly. The door was thick and the handle warm to my touch. A couple of heavy pulls and it scraped open wide enough to fit myself through. Not sure how the old man had made it through so easily.

There was a small bar table with two wooden chairs and some piles of sooty rags scattered about. The old man sat in one chair looking right at me, his face blank. The most amazing sight, however, was in the walls of the room.

They were glowing. Veins of fire ran through them, criss-crossing fingers of orange flame running from floor to ceiling. They glowered and glimmered, casting a glow over the room from all sides. It was as if this room had been carved from the middle of a giant ember.

I could feel the heat on my face, my arms. My shirt and pants burned against my skin and I drew in a short breath.

"Coal fire," the old man said. His voice buzzed in my ears. "Been burning down here for over forty years. Since well before they shut down these mines."

The old man motioned me to sit. It was hard to breath and my legs were rubber so I did. He stood and moved across the room.

"Just enough oxygen down here to keep it smoldering. I've seen these things burn for a long time, hundreds of years," he said. He looked faded now, like old wallpaper, thinner somehow. He rummaged under a pile of cloth for something and returned to the table. He set his prize down, a metal ring, smudged with soot.

The old man didn't sit. He stood there, regarding me, his face reflecting the glow of the cavern. Menacing.

"Your granddaddy's," he said, motioning to the ring. His voice came from a great distance. "A reward from the company. For his honorable service." His gray face twisting as he spat out the words. "For the killings he did."

"I—what? Killing?"

"During the strike. Oh, he killed all right. Murdered. Sealed up the mine the day after we went back. Thirty-two men. Good men. Just trying to earn a living digging coal. We shouted until our voices were gone but nobody ever came."

He motioned to the ring. "He must have done a good job selling the 'accident' to earn that. He became quite the hero with his tales of attempted rescue, how he'd spent hours and days without sleep removing rocks by hand to try to reach us. Far, far from where we actually were, of course. Became quite popular with the ladies in the town. Such a hero."

I couldn't talk, couldn't breath. A weight pressed on my chest. The old man flickered in the heat like a mirage. He hobbled over to the pile of rags and pulled them back, revealing a pile of dusty bones underneath. "Yeah your grandfather was a hero all right," he said. "But still it didn't take too many whiskeys to get him back down here into the mine ten years later. Not like your father." He walked over and kicked at another pile of rags. A soot covered hand flopped out from underneath.

I felt a scream take root inside me.

"Now you, on the other hand. It didn't very many at all."

The door closed. The old man was gone.

And the coal fire burned.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
Long Shadows
(802 words)
Gothic region: Indiana

Read it in the archive.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 19:50 on Jan 1, 2017

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Seattle gothic

1493 words

reworking for submission :)

Archive link

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 03:08 on Oct 21, 2016

Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica
The Slow Death Of The Suburbs: Or Milwaukee Gothic
1419 Words

“I just woke up like this.” I stated with as level a tone as I could muster. It isn’t every day a guy wakes up dead. Still, poise was warranted. I had tried to make a meal of my host not more than an hour ago. “Well, I woke up hungry too. Thanks for the assist on that by the way.” I toasted her, the mug of blood still warm with the heat from the teapot.

“Think nothing of it.” She’d introduced herself as Olivia. She was sweet, charitable and infinitely loving patient with me for some reason. I hoped all vampires were like her. “Hospitality is something my family takes great pride in.”

“So is it true that I’m immortal now?” This revelation was a hard one to grasp. “How old are you then?” I drat near choked on the apology that spilled haphazardly out of my mouth. Olivia didn’t seem to care.

“It’s perfectly fine.” She smiled lightly. “I’m fairly young as far as our lot are concerned. It’s only been,” She looked up as if to find the answer inside her own head, “two hundred or so years since I turned. But no, we are not immortal.” She sipped from her own mug. “Not by any stretch of the imagination. We are, however, very durable as I demonstrated to you earlier.”

I clutched my chest, reminded of the agony that had left me unable to move. I looked at that pain as a blessing.

“Thank you for that as well.” I added with a clink of my mug against hers.

“Not many would be so gracious about taking a stake to the heart…” She said between tips.

I laughed, “Not many would invite their would-be assassin in for a nightcap.” I finished the glass I had been offered as I rose to my feet. I hadn’t been dead long enough to lose the warmth of life. It made the icy grasp of Olivia’s hand as I shook it all the more shocking. “I should probably be getting home though, I definitely have some stuff figure out.”

She smiled a broad genuine smile, “It’s been nice meeting you Garrett, I hope to see you around.”


Olivia gave me a serious look as she led me to the door. “Be wary of anyone who knows what you are. Some breathers know that vampires exist outside of folklore. Most of them are good people.” She paused as her expression turned pensive, “It doesn’t matter how nice you are to them. They’re unable to see you as anything more than a monster.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” I promised her.

“You seem a decent ghoul so I don’t want you to die twice in a night.” She chirped as I crossed the threshold onto the street.

It was a long bus ride and a short walk from Olivia’s lakeside mansion to the lifeless cul-de-sac I called home. Despite being medically dead I found my senses were more alive than they had ever been in my nights spent breathing.

The bus let me off in Walker’s Point. I’d always loved that part of town. An amalgamation of immigrants and bohemian types forged into one of the strongest and most culturally diverse neighborhoods in an otherwise segregated city. It was a shining example of everything the city should be, and it was where I had grown up. My heightened awareness gave me new appreciation for the simple joy of it all.

Even for Saturday night National Avenue was extremely busy. The peppery aroma of authentic Mexican cuisine hung thick in the air. Mixed in were the sounds of at least a dozen local bands playing every bar on the block with a stage.

A few people gave me nods of recognition. One even offered to be a steady source of sustenance if need be. It was endearing, really, to know that even though so much about me had changed my city would still have me.

The scent of restaurants and bars faded as I walked through the night, replaced by… well nothing really. It was the same with the sounds. Even with senses set afire I found nothing of interest in the sterile streets of Saint Francis.

I let out a laugh. I’d always joked with my friends from the inner city that I was dying the slow death of the suburbs. Now here I was, living that expression damned near literally. I was about a block away from my house when my fantasies of a normal unlife were stripped from me.

“Where are you going leech?” The question came from somewhere behind me. Not realizing the question was pointed at me I kept walking.

“I’m talking to you!” The statement was punctuated by the business end of a wooden stake announcing it’s arrival between my shoulder blades. “Kind of suspicious that you’re in this neighborhood at this time of night.”

A wave of animosity washed over me. The blood in my veins brought to a boil by the contempt burning white-hot in the pit of my stomach. I probably would have killed the bastard right then and there had it not been for Olivia’s disembodied voice ringing between my ears.

They’re unable to see you as anything more than a monster.

I inhaled deeply. It was a vestigial action, but for some reason the cold air that filled my lungs reminded me that I was still a person. I wouldn’t let this bastard’s prejudices be justified by my actions.

“I’m just trying to get home before the sun comes up.” I buried my frustration beneath a thin veneer of placidity. “I’m not doing anything wrong so can I please just go?”

“You sure about that?” He asked, “You’ve got blood on your shirt and your clothes are all torn up.”

“Yeah, that tends to happen when you get the poo poo beaten out of you.” I took another breath to find that it wasn’t nearly as helpful as the previous one.

“What happened? Did you bite off more than you could chew?” He said. I’d had enough of this poo poo, so I stepped forward.

“Must be hard, having your meals fight back.” A new voice added as it’s owner emerged from behind a van with a compound bow at full draw, stopping me dead in my tracks. I wasn’t sure what I found more fighting; the arrow leveled at my chest, or magenta band slowly filling the black sky above me.

“It was another vampire.” I regretted the words even before I’d finished my sentence.

“Pathetic,” the voice behind me dripped wet with enmity, “It’s a wonder you monsters have time to ruin our communities when you spend so much time fighting amongst yourselves.”

“I really haven’t done anything to you so can I please just get home?” I was astonished I could even speak. The mounting terror inside me had shackled my feet where I stood but for now it had spared my voice.

“If you really haven’t done anything wrong then we shouldn’t be too much longer here.” The man with the bow said in a mocking tone. “If you really live around here you should get home no problem. I hear that celerity is a forte among your kind.”
“Please, just let me go.” My voice cracked, I must have looked pitiful. A beast straight out of humanity’s collective nightmare on the verge of tears. A goddamned monster at the mercy of a couple of squishy humans.

“What do you think?” The voice from behind asked the man in front.

“I don’t think anyone this miserable is anything but harmless. Get out of here, and don’t let us catch you on this street again.” The sharp point of the stake finally vanishing from my back. I drew in another useless breath. My body shaking nearly as fast as the band of red rising in the east. The sun would be up any minute now.

Any sense of composure I had held onto was abandoned as I fled my tormentors. I reached my front door just as the first sliver of gold crested the horizon. I felt my skin blister as I fumbled with the lock. I smelt my own flesh burning as the sun bathed it in light. I heard it crackle as I made for the basement.

I felt nothing as I slammed the door behind me.

No sadness, no fear, no relief.


This may be my house, but it sure as hell isn’t home anymore.

Sep 14, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

Member's Only

Removed. You can still read these crappy words right here in the archives!

BeefSupreme fucked around with this message at 09:22 on Jan 3, 2017


Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Another Country, With Another Flag

Prompt: Chattanooga Gothic, Flash Rule #1

1456 Words

I shouldn't have come here. Not to this city that has nothing left for me but the house my parents moved out of years ago and a handful of old friends turned new strangers, and especially not here, not this intersection, wallpapered over with a fresh set of chain stores and bars but still the same place. I shouldn't have come here, but here I am, well after midnight and the sky opens up with rain in big, meaty drops, then sheets. I'm more than a mile from my hotel, and with no phone and no umbrella. I look for shelter. The bars are open, but that's a very bad idea. I see a splash of light from an alleyway. There's a stairway going down to a door, cracked open and lit behind. If I'm really lucky it's a Meeting. If not, maybe at least someone with a phone I can use, call a cab. I hurry down the stairs and walk in the door.

“You shouldn't have come here, Martin.” There's a woman in the room behind the door, with skin and voice like cold Coca-Cola. I should recognize her, I know, but I don't. I've never been good with faces. I'm not face-blind, if that's even a thing, but I've don't keep faces in my memory easily. At every new job or school people passing me in halls greet me needlessly by name and I have to push back the idea that it's an act of aggression, that they know I couldn't respond in kind.

I can't remember my first lover's face, and in that day, I kept no pictures. It's sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse. “I'm sorry, I'll just-” I say, trying to dislodge a name from my memory that doesn't seem like a pure guess. I turn around and there isn't any door there.

“And that's why you shouldn't have come,” she says. “Nobody leaves here the way they came in.”

“Where is this?” I say.

“Underground,” she says. “Look, I might as well just show you.” She walks to a door on the right side of this room, which is looking less like a basement and more like a storage shed. When she opens it up, daylight comes in. Not a lot of it, about what you'd get just after civil twilight, the last color of a fading sunset. And not a sign of rain.

“What-” I say.

She shushes me, then whispers “If we're going to make it across you're going to have to be a lot quieter.”

“Okay,” I whisper. “So what the hell is...this?” I sweep my hand at the scene outside that door: old, wooden buildings, on a street built for horses rather than cars.

“What you get when a city buries itself,” she says, leading me out the door and into the street. The smell of this places hits me. Not what I'm expecting from how it looks, not sweat and horseshit. Dust, and rot. The wet in my shoes and socks leaves muddy footprints as we walk.

There's a sound, marching footsteps, and she pulls me around a corner. The noise gets louder, and a troop of soldiers marches by, each one of them tattered skin and jutting bones dressed in fraying Confederate blue. They don't look down, don't notice the muddy footprints leading right to the puddle I'm standing in. They pass by.

“Um,” I say, trying to take this all in. “Are you sure it wouldn't be safer for you to just give me directions and let me go on my own? I mean, I'm...” I trail off.

She laughs, quietly. “Martin, you were born in the twentieth century, so you're pretty much a damnyankee to them. They catch me, I have to make up some horseshit about an errand from my owner and stop myself from vomiting while saying it. They catch you, they'll just shoot you. And that's just the soldiers. You run into the aristocrats, well, to those shitheads everyone else is a savage or a slave. Ain't nothing white enough for them but their own old bones.”

We creep through Chattanooga Underground, skirting patrols and garrisons. The sun stands still, right below the horizon, an endless dusk. When we're halfway up Market I ask “So how do you know so much about all this?”

“You still haven't figured out who I am, have you?” she says, and I do in that instant. Sarah Hollis. Our second date, high school seniors, both plenty drunk. She drove us home. The two of us in her car, two more kids in the other one, and I was the only one who came home from the hospital. A part of me kicks myself for not guessing sooner, but the rest of me thinks it was perfectly reasonable to leave the dead off of the list of guesses.

“Sarah?” I croak. “I'm so sorry, I never should have let you-” A shadow passes over me, but I don't look up.

“You couldn't have stopped me,” she says. “And that's not what you should be sorry for.” There's a thunderclap, almost directly above me, and it starts to rain, as hard as it had been in the land of the living.

“What? Whatever it is,” I say. I heard disorganized marching, and a group of a dozen Confederates spring from around a corner and point bayonets at us. The rain hits them, and I see on their tight-skinned faces as they remember what rain was, and an instant later remember who won the war, that the General would not be coming back to lead them in victory.

“You could have died with me,” she says. Something hits me on the back of the head and I lose consciousness.

I wake up at the bottom of a small pit, barely big enough to turn around. My ankle's chained to the floor with old seasoned cast iron chains. It's raining, as much as ever, and the pit is filling up. Sarah's standing at the top, looking down, noticing me wake up.

“I'm sorry,” she says. “Fact is I could probably forgive you for living when I didn't get to. Would have been a hard thing to do, but I could have done it. But you brought the rain.”

“Let me out of here!” I say.

“I can't do that. You're bringing the rain. All you have to do is die here and you'll bring the flood this place buried itself to get away from, and wash this damned city all the way down to Hell.”

She turns and walks away. The rain keeps falling, hurricane-hard, a biblical inundation. The water rises, to my knees, to my waist. I struggle with the chain. It's tight in there. As the water creeps higher, I wonder if she wasn't right, if my life is really worth holding on to if dying could bring some kind of justice to this pocket of the afterlife. I try to make that decision, to let go for the greater good, but my body won't have any of it, and with the water at my armpits my mind sides with it. I want to live. The rainwater rises up to my neck. I take a deep breath and bend down. I want to live, drat it.

Just bending down enough to reach the chain is a struggle. I have to wedge myself along the cell's diagonal. I brace myself with my rear end and thighs and give a yank on the chain. It holds, fast. I pull it again, and again. Out of breath, I lunge upward to the surface. I barely break the surface of the water with the chain fully extended. I dive back down again and go back to work on the chain, pulling and pulling. The instinctive need to surface kicks in again, but I know I won't reach air this time. I keep pulling. My field of vision narrows. I pull again, then feel myself floating upward, not knowing if I'm free or dying until I break the water's surface and draw a deep rasping breath. I crawl out onto land and close my eyes for a second or an hour.

When I open them I'm back in the land of the living, on the riverbank across town with fifteen pounds of old cast iron on my leg that I have no idea how I'm going to get off. It's stopped raining. The moon is out and wears a rainbow like a halo, and I start to grin like an idiot.

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