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The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

I could hear the roots of loneliness creeping through me when the world was hushed at four o'clock in the morning




E: http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=5187&title=Ascent

The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 04:53 on Dec 19, 2016

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God Over Djinn
Jan 17, 2005

onwards and upwards


Gainful Employment (1300 words)

I shoot awake on the bus, in the dark. I’ve been dreaming about teeth. Am I on my way to work, or am I going home? I don’t have time to consider this before the bus takes an uncanny series of five left turns, then rumbles into the parking lot. VOIDMART hovers in the darkness: glowing red letters shimmering over a sea of cars. Time to clock in.

I catch myself in the employee bathroom, staring into my own eyes. Dull reddish orbs set deep in purple sockets. Too many closing shifts? As I bend to splash my face with water from the tap, I spot what has to be a bite mark on the side of my throat. Did I go out last night, then? Or was it two nights ago? I check my watch, then remember that it’s broken. My employee discount should kick in any day now, shouldn’t it? Maybe then I can afford a new one. I remind myself to ask Pedro when I’m supposed to get paid. I emerge, dripping, into the Voidmart dome.

A hand grabs my shoulder and I startle violently. “You look like poo poo,” says Pedro.

“I’m fine. Think I slept funny last night.” I try to recall when I went to bed.

“That’s good, that’s good, you’re doing great. We need everyone going full steam today. Big shopping season and all that.”

“Yeah,” I say. “Christmas is right around the corner.”

Pedro raises an eyebrow, then laughs too loudly, as if he’s humoring a very stupid joke. “Hey, why don’t you go look after the book club? Pour the wine, make sure they have enough chairs, that sort of stuff, just do whatever they need. It’s a bunch of drunk old ladies talking about romance novels. Nothing complicated. Starts in half an hour.”

“I’m on it,” I say. “Sounds great.” My voice sounds hollow, but I don’t think I’m joking. Two weeks in the Voidmart book department. Or has it been three? Or one? Pedro’s walked me through the shelving system a dozen times, but I never seem to get everything straight. Copies of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy keep turning up among the travelogues. It’s the kind of prank I would have pulled as an English major. I peer at one of the book club posters. Now It Can Be Told by Kilgore Trout. Familiar. But when I scan the shelves, Trollope and Turgenev are pressed tightly together, no space for Trout between them. I’d look him up, but the cell signal always cuts out in Voidmart. Something to do with the shape of the roof, said Pedro.

I hurtle back into consciousness. I was staring at a shelf of books, I guess. Now I’m here. Crooked-limbed, paper-skinned old ladies are pressing their book club dues into my hand. “Oooh, is he new?” somebody croaks. I look up, but the fluorescent lights are making my eyes water. The glare is too bright, like staring into the sun. All I can make out is a blurred and slender form. She presses two coins into my palm and vanishes. I look down at them: golden, stamped with the aquiline profile of a man with a golden crown – “hold on,” I say, “did you give me Canadian money or someth-“ Half the line of women bursts out laughing. “Isn’t he precious?” one of them says. The light glints off of her teeth. I want to smile, but I can’t quite remember how. How long until my first paycheck? Did I even go to sleep when I got home last night? I can’t remember. Someone is shaking my hand. Her hand feels warm and dry and fragile, like cardboard. “I’m Mrs. Thistlechirp,” she murmurs, “and I don’t believe we’ve met? Marcus, correct?” Is she reading my nametag? I didn’t think I was wearing one. But I look down, and there it is.

There’s an argument brewing, over by the table where I’ve poured out thirty little plastic cups of boxed Zinfandel. I catch sight of a dowager with too many bruised and crooked limbs, folded in on herself like a cicada – no, it’s just two women behind a cardboard standee, one with her hands clasped around the other’s throat. “The Necronomicon, dammit!” someone shouts.

“Oh, it’s so funny how every time you choose the book, you end up going home crying, because –“ and the rest of her statement is lost to swirling color and sound. There’s a pool of something reddish on the floor under the table, and my fledgling retail-working instincts kick in and I run to grab a mop from the Voidmart back room, and –

“—better than the time you brought that book that chewed someone’s leg off –“

“And I will not hesitate to ask to speak to a manager, you bet your bippy –“

“—have to be careful about the oysters in a place like that --“

“—if you were wondering why we don’t have book club at her house anymore – “

I open my eyes and I’m sitting next to Mrs. Thistlechirp, who has one bony claw clutched around my elbow. “Marcus, dearie,” she whispers, and gives my arm a shake. “Are you okay? You look a touch nauseated. Which, you might not be aware, is entirely different from being nauseous.”

My skin looks grey in the yellowish light. I shake my head. “Yeah,” I say, “I’m fine.” I try again, a little louder. “New job and all that, you know? They make us earn our pay here at Voidmart!” but that doesn’t sound quite right and my voice comes out as a squawk.

Mrs. Thistlechirp gives me a sympathetic look. “Oh, I know, dear,” she says. “We’ve seen quite a few nice young men and ladies just give up after their first day. But you’re a tough one, I can tell. How long have you been here?”

“I – two – no, wait, I don’t –“

Mrs. Thistlechirp opens her mouth to speak, but there’s a crashing noise from across the circle. Did somebody drop a book? None of them seem to have brought their books. A few of the ladies rise to their feet. I hear chanting. Axaxaxas mlö, someone intones. I wonder, vaguely, why none of the ladies seem to have brought their books. All bruised flesh and crooked limbs. The Voidmart dome overhead, with the bookstacks bending around us, leaning over us like curious willows. Someone’s nails are leaving marks on my skin. Bones cracking. When was the last time I slept? Mrs. Thistlechirp is gnawing at her own wrists. Something black and oily is tearing its way through the carpet, which swirls like gasoline skimming the surface of water. I need something. I need to clock in? Did I clock in? When does my shift start? I look at my watch. The dials spin backwards. “I think I need to go to the hospital,” I say to Mrs. Thistlechirp, whose sinews dangle from her limbs like strips of raw meat. I see bone-sharp nails set into bony fingers. “Please,” I say, “help,” and,

“Hey, Marcus,” says Pedro.

I gasp.

“You think you can stay and close tonight? Brittany just called in.”

Scattered limbs and torn pages litter the bookshop floor. I lift my foot slowly from a puddle of coagulating blood.

“She’s got the flu or something,” says Pedro. He makes air quotes when he says ‘flu’.

I look down at my blood-drenched work shoes. I really need the cash. “Sure,” I say.

“Good man,” says Pedro. “Think you could clean up a bit when they’re done here? Or maybe just start cleaning right now, actually. It might get them out of here faster.” He shakes his head. “loving book club. Am I right?”

I go to fetch the mop.

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


Who wants to live
forever?


DIVE!



College Slice

Russell Saves Voidmart
1999 words
My name is Russell Rabin, and I single-handedly saved Voidmart. I've never gotten any credit, but believe me. It happened.

So it starts with this new kid working in the Box Department named Enos. Or maybe he's been here the whole time? It's hard to tell. I know that sounds strange—or maybe not because this is Voidmart we're talking about.

First of all he takes the box flats and folds them into these crazy n-dimensional shapes. They start as regular flats—I fold them all time for the customers. Only mine always come out like, well, regular looking boxes. Different sizes, and some have lids and others don't, but they're pretty much just that. Boxes. He takes the same flats, and starts folding just like I do, but things get weird quick. The box, when he's done, has a shape that I can't really wrap my head around. It's sort of there and not-there. Like I know it's a box and I should be able to see it, but I still can't. N-dimensional. Parts of it missing, but never the same parts. Makes my brain ache thinking about it.

Here's the kicker: this Enos kid is the same way. There and not-there, you know? He's quiet, doesn't bother anyone. A real serial killer type. I don't know if he was just hired, or if he was always here, he just kind of is. But also isn't. He seems real enough. But not always.

Funny thing is that a couple of the bosses are always down here talking to this kid. They've got a real hard on for him. Up and down the stairs all day long, these bosses go straight to his desk and give him packages like he's a loving UPS. What he does with them I don't know. But I'll bet you my next paycheck it has something to do with those weird boxes he makes.

So I'm thinking about all this one day—it's been pretty slow customer-wise—so I decide maybe I'll snoop around a bit and see what I can discover. It'll be tricky. Enos is hard to keep track of, considering the fact he's not entirely present to begin with. And I can't get busted. Voidmart's my life. I can't think about would happen if I lost this job and got kicked Outside.

Anyways, up walks this old lady loaded with Voidmart bags containing boxes. I can tell right away she's nuts. She lays the boxes on the counter and opens them, and there's even more boxes inside them, and more inside of them, and so on. She spouts off about how all these boxes she bought aren't going to work because they're only for physical objects — no, she wants to box up her memories, her dreams, her fears, stuff like that. I guess they're keeping her up at night. So I say to her "Hold on, I know just the guy" and page Enos over the intercom. Now this lady is a real piece of work and she's going to take a long time so I figure this is my opportunity.

As soon as Enos starts dealing with this lady I head into the back room and go straight for his locker. I pop it open (no locks here at Voidmart!) — and get to work. So I'm moving pretty quick, going through the shelves, looking under papers and stuff. He's got books with titles like Hypercubes 101, Tesseracts in Action!, and A Practical URspace Reader. Nothing interesting. But at the bottom I do find something. It's a thick book with a keyhole right in the center of the cover titled Voidmart Operations Manual. Now this is interesting. I know this book, of course—practically memorized it, to be honest. Got one in my locker. Something you get when you become a Keyholder. But Enos was no Keyholder, so why would he have one?

Just to make sure it's the same book as mine I pull out my keys and slip the key into the lock. Sure enough, it turns with a little snick and I open the cover. And guess what I find? It's not a book at all. It's one of those false books with the inside cut out where you can stash stuff. A secret box.

And it's filled with Nulcash.

In case you've been living under a rock, Nulgreens is Voidmart's main competitor. Even mentioning "Nulgreens" here is asking for a long, unpleasant visit with the bosses upstairs. Just like our Voidbux, Nulcash is the official money that the Nulgreens employees get paid in, usable only inside the store. And there's only one way to get Nulcash: you've got to be a Nulgreens employee.

Now of course this sets off all kinds of alarm bells inside my head. Why would Enos be stashing enemy currency inside his locker? I start hearing footsteps so I close the book and toss it back into the locker. I duck behind a stack of boxes when around the corner comes Enos. And he's not alone.

One of the bosses is with him.

She's one of the ones I mentioned earlier, who I keep seeing delivering packages to Enos. Really ugly. Skin a pale greenish cast, eyes all buggy like they're ready to pop out of her head. I peek between two boxes and can see that she's got another one of those packages in her mitts.

"Excellent, young man," she hisses. "You've done so very well. Our work is almost complete. Once you send this final package we can escape this hellhole."

"Fantastic," Enos says. "Although I might miss this place a bit. It's been very...lucrative."

She snorts. "I can't wait for this to be over. We need to get out of this dump before it poisons us. Look at this horrible rash I've gotten."

At first I think she's talking about the Box Department and I'm little pissed. But then I realize she's talking about Voidmart itself and I feel a rage deep in my core.

Nobody talks about Voidmart like that.

Enos goes to his locker and puts the package inside. "I'll send this one through a wormhole as soon as possible," he says. "I've got to finish up with this lady first."

"Fine. Just don't delay," the boss says in a raspy wheeze, and their footsteps recede as they head back to the sales floor.

My head is swimming. Spies? In the Box Department? All my Voidmart training screams REPORT THIS IMMEDIATELY. But to who? Bosses are involved — who can I trust? Can I trust anyone?

I head back to Enos' locker. Open it up and pull out this package. It's an unlabeled manila folder stuffed with papers. Untwist the string and I pull out the first few sheets. Each one has a big red "TOP SECRET" stamp across the top. Some look like maps, or blueprints, while others are copies of corporate memos describing Voidmart security procedures, door lock combinations, instructions for powering down the Furnace, et cetera.

Exactly the sort of intel someone might want if they're planning a takeover of Voidmart.

It all made sense. Somehow those boxes Enos makes were like wormholes. He puts the stolen documents in one side of the box and on the other side someone far away pulls them out. And I had a strong suspicion who and where that was.

Nulgreens. Those bastards.

That rage I mentioned earlier? Double it. An attack on Voidmart is an attack on me and everything I stand for. I knew I couldn't trust anyone but myself. I needed to save Voidmart. Save my home.

Luckily the rest of that day is pretty quiet which gives me time to mentally prepare. Enos is back at his workstation, casually folding another one of those n-dimensional boxes. No doubt to send that final package to his Nulgreens overlords. He takes the box and disappears into the back room. That's my cue.

I yank hard on the fire alarm and the Box Department plunges into a cacaphony of flashing lights and alarm bells. Through the chaos the calm, commanding tones of the Voice cuts through. "There has been a fire emergency reported. Please move to the nearest emergency exit. There has been a fire emergency...."

Enos follows the masses out of the Box Department. I linger behind, and when the coast is clear I sneak into the back room. The box is sitting on the workbench. It's shape warps my brain and can't say for sure where or what it really is. But I have to trust myself.

I take deep breath and put my hands on the box. It shifts and shimmers, hypercubes and tesseracts blooming and disappearing beneath my hands. I close my eyes, which helps a little. Feeling the surface of the box I find a hinge, pull it open and jam my head inside.

And open my eyes.

The disorientation is so intense I instantly regret it. The ur-space spins and twists around me and I want to puke. Focus. Not easy to do when you've got a three-dimensional brain in an n-dimensional space. But eventually things start to coalesce and make some sense. I can cross my eyes and squint and my location sort of swims in and out.

I'm in a small office. The walls are covered with maps, blueprints, photos of Voidmart execs, scribbled numbers and notes on scraps of paper thumbtacked on top of each other. Lines of red marker criss-cross the walls of the room, making a maze of connections between all the stolen intel. It obvious what I'm seeing: a war room. Invasion planning. I see the blank manila folder sitting on the desk — Enos' final package. The office door opens and a man walks in wearing the ugly, ill-fitting powder blue uniform of a Nulgreens executive. He looks up and his eyes lock on mine. I'm not sure if he can even see me but I pull my head back instinctively. I blink, back in the real world. The box shimmers before me.

Now I'm no expert in hyperdimensional physics or anything, but what I saw was clear. The war room, and all the intel within it, were inside the box. So if I want to get rid of it all and save Voidmart, the solution was simple.

Destroy the box.

By now the fire alarms have shut off and I can hear people coming back into the Box Department. I have to act fast so I grab the box and I run.

Straight around a corner and into Enos. When he sees what I'm carrying his eyes go wide and his mouth opens.

"Traitor!" I shout because it's the only thing I can think to say. I'm too focused on keeping a grip on the box. It's twisting, shifting shapes in my arms, sliding in and out of reality. I'm running as hard as I can towards the center of the store. Enos is running after me but he doesn't know the store like I do. Voidmart is my home, my life, my everything. He won't catch me.

I dodge through aisles not found on any blueprints. I duck through departments that are only rumors. And I make it to the center of the store, prize in hand. I rip the cover off the Drain. A howling, sucking sound comes from beneath the floor. The Drain is hungry and eager to feed.

I look up and lock eyes with Enos. He is flickering, present and not-present. .He dives towards me.

"Nulgreens delende est," I whisper as I step aside and let the box slip from my hands.

Enos gets one hand on the box but that's it. The drain pulls them both down into a gaping maw. There's a brief change in pitch, then the howling continues as before.

The Drain has been fed.

I stand up, dust off my slacks, and adjust my name tag.

Time to get back to work in the Box Department.

*edited just to add the title

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 05:15 on Oct 24, 2016

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


No Evil
1075 words

“This is where I leave you, kid,” Uncle Chester said. They had reached the yawning gulf of the Flesh, Nerve, and Blood department, and Evan was just a few minutes away from his eye fitting. “But for the record, I think you’re making a mistake.”

“Noted,” Evan said, shoving his hands in his pockets. “You’ll be waiting for me in the parking lot?”

“I sure will,” Uncle Chester said. He bit his lip and began to turn around for the long journey back to the Home Appliance department when an old, scruffy man with uncanny blue eyes strafed him. Evan’s gut churned as his uncle shuddered. “You know that you’re amazing, right? And you can conquer any kind of challenge if you put your mind to it?”

Evan sighed. “I thought you said you’d respect my decision.”

“Sorry. Didn’t count on seeing the spitting image of Grandpa with a teenage girl’s eyes. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but it makes me uncomfortable as hell. Anyway.” He cleared his throat. “I love you. I’ll see you in a bit. Godspeed.” Now Uncle Chester really did turn, a rapid spin and then a determined clip far away from Voidmart’s Bio Department.

Evan took a breath and made his way to the service desk.

---

Prozac hadn’t worked. Not Prozac, not Zoloft, not cognitive-behavioral therapy, mindfulness meditation, or St. John’s Wort. Not the proprietary treatments in Voidmart’s Sad Sack department, all of which seemed to involve some fresh-faced, chemically-pepped psych intern in control of massive amounts of electricity. And not Uncle Chester’s preferred remedy, ounces and ounces of weed.

But the Voidmart catalogue had offered something new this month -- ocular replacements that were supposed to let you see colors no one had seen before, details no human ever encountered, verve and flourish that the human eye couldn’t encounter on its own. Evan knew it was metaphor when people, describing coming out of a depression, would talk about seeing in a whole new way. But maybe it’d work the other way around, too.

It hadn’t escaped Evan that it was a long shot. But he had money to burn. So much money to throw at long shot after long shot, each riskier than the last. Why not?

If they didn’t work out, he could always just kill himself.

---

The gap between his anxious approach to the service desk and the blurry, woozy stumble away was a jumble. The images were gone, but the sounds resonated in his head. The sarcastic soprano of the desk clerk, a phone call interrupting her rattling off the informed consent checklist, which she answered with a curt “no refunds” before returning to her spiel. The wheezy breathing of the anesthesiologist, and the blithe attendant humming “Pale Blue Eyes.” But mostly the wet popping sounds of the old eyes out and the new eyes in.

Once he’d come to, the attendant had warned him that his body would take a little while to adjust to the new eyes, and that the florescent lights of Voidmart weren’t ideal for the high-def qualities anyway. In any case, the anesthesia clouded Evan’s head anyway. He nearly hip-checked a towering display of “synthetic” livers, and didn’t even think to check his own chest for stitches until he’d made it past the Weapons of Mass Destruction department. (No stitches, fortunately. Fortunately?)

But as he’d begun to trek through the Furniture Department, which today featured rows upon rows of identical puce armchairs, something had begun to change. On the way to the eye transplants, every armchair had felt like another beat in a funereal dirge, a nihilistic tribute to meaninglessness, the store taunting him with tedious nonsense. Now he felt the excitement quicken within him, the sense that the armchairs, with their perfect, geometric folds, their utter lack of pretension in their patterns, and the sheer artistic brilliance of their repetition.

He approached one of them, hoping to touch it, to understand its logic, when a furniture department employee strolled up from behind Evan.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said. He turned around, smiling, expecting to find himself half in love with her at first sight, but his face fell at her clipped, bored tone. “Can I help you find anything?”

And yet she was absolutely beautiful, and if her tone hadn’t been dripping with contempt for him (the pathetic shlub leeching off his inheritance and his uncle, who chose quick fixes instead of concentrated, deliberate self-work), then he could have been completely smitten. Instead he stumbled back toward the aisle, muttered something about “just browsing,” and headed for the exit.

Once outside, he took in a deep lungful of air, and raised his head to the sky. He’d never seen a sky so brilliantly blue, or been able to appreciate the sky at all since he was a young teenager, before his dad had gotten sick. But still, the jagged reverberations of the woman’s tone took hold in him, and so too did the reciprocal wave of self-hatred. Why did he react like that? Why did he make it about him -- not the woman’s thirty-hour shift without a bathroom break? It was all he could do to stare up at the sky to keep the tears in his eyes, to keep his breathing from getting away from him.

Then a came a loud, cruel honking of a horn from afar, and Evan jumped. The new eyes could make out details further than his biological ones ever could, and he could make out Uncle Chester’s lime station wagon about a quarter mile away from the storefront.

He could make his way over to Uncle Chester, who’d never judge him for his new eyes, at least not to his face. But he’d seen the way his uncle had looked at that man earlier, he’d seen the contempt and disgust there beneath the veneer of tolerance and openness.

Evan caught sight of something coming past the store -- an RV, speeding along, probably packed with survivalist goodies from the redneckiest corner of Voidmart. At the driver’s seat was a middle aged woman, and with his old eyes Evan might have written her off as a mere uneducated middle-American rube, but now he could make out the worry lines on her face. It touched his heart, and it made him feel more than a pang of guilt as he looked up into that brilliant blue one more time and stepped into the street.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






I will be closing submissions at 2 AM PST :)

That gives you procrastinators 2 whole extra hours. your blood is mine, failure will not be tolerated

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







deleted

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 22:04 on Jan 2, 2017

llamaguccii
Sep 2, 2016

THUNDERDOME LOSER


The Plunge
Word Count: 572

I hate how they treat you… like you’re not even human. I turned away, but her upper limbs twisted their way around my neck. They intertwined themselves into my tangled hair.

But I’m not human, you know that, silly. Ixa’s suctioned cupped body smacked softly against the exposed portions of my dirt streaked skin.

I know. It’s not… You’re not… You just… I tried to struggle away from her, but her fifth and sixth limbs slipped around my waist.

I just… manage their entire ecosystem? Ixa turned me, lifting my chin. Her twelve midlevel eyes blinked playfully from the center of her octopusian-ferned body.

But… They don’t even… I couldn’t fight for her. I couldn’t fight her.

Hush, darling. I really don’t mind. I have you now. Her pollen-pocket mouth met mine. I stopped resisting.

Together we plunged down the drain…


****************************************************************

I sat in a straight backed chair with only one arm support as a thin manager with sporadic balding peered at me over cracked spectacles. I was nervous.

“So, it says here your eyes are green. They look a little more blue to me.” He looked nervously from my hiring packet to my pimpled face.

“No, sir. They’re green. Sometimes they do shift a little.” He rubbed his glasses on his jacket and looked again.

“You’re sure?”

“Yes.”

“Possitive?”

“Yes, sir.” I fidgeted. “Is my eye color important?”

“Most definitely. It’s one of our qualifying categories for placement.” He shuffled threw my papers some more.

“Well I’d be happy to work anywhere.” I’d heard Voidmart had odd hiring techniques, but eye color seemed a little far-fetched even for them.

“Well, I suppose they are green enough for the Garden Shop.”

“The Garden Shop?”

“Yes, all the green-eyed ones are there. Work better with the plants, you see? It’s all about retention.” He began furiously signing my papers as though the matter were settled.

“Isn’t it a green thumb you want for plants? I honestly don’t even know the difference between most plants I see. I don’t think my eyes will help much.” I offered in a desperate attempt to be replaced. I knew nothing about plants and killed all those I encountered.

“Here at Voidmart we tend not to be too particular about body parts. After all, many of our veteran employees are missing several.” Before I could protest the manager showed a name badge into my hand. Andy – Garden Shop.

“Excuse me. Thanks for giving me the job, but I think there’s been some mistake. My name’s Connor, not Andy.” I tried to give the name badge back, but he refused it.

“Not to worry, not to worry. Andy’s a good name, gender neutral, perfect for a place holder.” He pushed me out the door and towards the Garden Shop, pulling out employee pamphlets, guidebooks and a vest along the way.

“Place holder? A place holder for what?”

*********************************************

I never got any answers from Voidmart, but it didn't stop me from knowing Iza. I knew about Iza, where all her eyes came from. Green eyes, like mine, like all the other Andy’s. Enough eyes to watch and lord over all the plants. She never asked for my eyes, but she asked my name. As if something like that mattered in a place like Voidmart where no one could remember anything anymore.

That’s a nice name. She said. Then she wrapped her grassy tentacles around me and we plunged.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Customer Service
(1,047 words)
Employee; Department: Jewelry

No one at Voidmart ever saw Genevieve wearing fewer than ten pounds of the store's finest jewelry, and no one ever saw her displaying the same piece twice. By four in the morning every morning, she glittered amidst her forest of showcases and carousels, her black velvet turtleneck an ideal backdrop for Ethiopian opal and silver-set jade. Her suede trousers flattered the fire of anklets and watch chains. A customer had once mortgaged her house to buy padparadscha sapphire combs out of Genevieve's hair, leading to Genevieve's immediate promotion to head of Jewels and Accessories.

An old soldier rang the bell for service at her register one afternoon. He was considerably more grizzled than the standard military customer and short an eye besides, but he wore his camo well. "What do you need, sir?" Genevieve asked him.

"Something a friend of mine lost. It's here somewhere," he said. "Maybe in your Lost and Found. Maybe in the basement."

"We--" The steady stare of his pale eye cut short Genevieve's denial of the basement. "I can try to find it for you. What does it look like?"

"This." He slid a page across her glass counter. The chalk sketch showed a collar of woven gold and amber so exquisite that Genevieve forgot Voidmart entirely for a moment, caressing the paper, imagining the reality. The soldier brought her back to herself with a rap on the glass.

"Yes," she said slowly. "We might have found something like that. It will take me some time to retrieve it."

He said, "I can wait."

The stairs to the basement were hidden deep within a maze of nine-dollar prom tiaras. Genevieve stopped beside a table of rings and twisted certain bands on their display mounts, taking care with the order. Part of a wall swung inward. She hurried through the gap and grabbed the flashlight she kept just inside; once the basement entrance had closed again, she turned on the beam and descended.

All around her, jewels threw the light back into her eyes. Rhinestones crusted the most shallow layer of stairway walls. A bit deeper and semiprecious stones glimmered with hope, falling dark again when she passed them over. The stairway trembled while she was in the corundum layer, and the faint whine of brakes told her the employee subway had pulled in nearby. She moved down through diamonds and out, finally, into caverns measureless to man: the Voidmart storage vaults.

Genevieve flipped the light switch, and hundred torches caught fire. Crystal skulls grinned from a high shelf. Carved panels of amber shone. A jeweled book, water-warped, demanded to be admired. She picked up a Fabergé egg instead and kissed the golden head of its cherub for luck, because the caverns were warmer than any basement ought to be, and not every sound she heard had to do with the subway system. Somethings breathed in the shadowy niches beyond the fire's reach.

She came to a metal door and pressed her palm against it. Needles stabbed her fingers. Her blood matched company records: the door let her into a cubby the size of an ordinary, reasonable closet, lined with lead coffers. The air in there hummed anyway. Genevieve chose a box, opened it.

Oh! Gold spilled over her hand, fluid as water; amber nodules glowed, each the sun's essence bent into the gently curved form of a bean; and the necklace sang with the echo of dwarven hammers ages old. "Brísingamen," Genevieve murmured, holding it up. It seemed to chime its name in answer.

Back out in the vaults, an enormous wolf stood waiting.

Did it belong to the old soldier? Genevieve hesitated. She opened the box again and held up Brísingamen. The wolf growled, showing black teeth. Genevieve met its glare and slid the necklace into her pocket.

The beast sprang at her then. Too fast--she brought the box down on a head already snapping at her middle, going for her belly but closing its teeth on her Alaska-shaped, ruby-studded belt buckle instead; a crack sent two fangs and fourteen Aleutian Islands flying. With strength built over years of loading her arms with chunky bracelets, Genevieve beat the wolf away and backpedaled to the wall.

She yanked a long pin tipped with tanzanite from her hair. Her coiffure was ruined, but she pierced the wolf's left eye when it lunged for her again. Screaming, it sprang away. She pulled an opera-length chain from her neck and jumped for the beast, landing astride it and wrapping platinum links around its throat.

It rolled, it clawed, it scraped her against the shelves. The Florentine Diamond tumbled from its place and bounced out of sight, but Genevieve held on. "Waiting for the chain to break?" The wolf's contortions brought her mouth close to its face. She hissed into its ear, "I don't wear the cheap poo poo."

The corpse remained behind when Genevieve returned to the sales floor.

The soldier still stood at her counter. "Not too quick," he said. His eye fixed on the pin skewering her bun, as though he saw the blood she'd wiped away. "But Fenrir's get will make trouble when they can."

Genevieve held out Brísingamen. "Please tell Freyja that Voidmart is happy to restore this to her, sir."

"She'll appreciate that."

"You might also mention that we accept cash."

"She'll appreciate that more," said Odin. "You have our thanks for your service."

He walked away, toward Literature and Poetry, with a pair of wolves suddenly tagging his heels. They turned their heads in unison to look back at Genevieve, their eyes yellow and knowing.

Her sense of satisfaction with her work lasted the whole two minutes until a bicycle courier braked in front of her counter. "Management wants a meeting!" he said.

Genevieve shivered so hard her bracelets rattled.

***

At four in the morning the following morning, Genevieve glittered behind the register for Jewels and Accessories. She smiled at all who saw her. At empty space, too. "Making customers happy makes the Managers happy," she told everyone and no one, again and again, while stroking the diamond-tipped wolf claws strung on her necklace. She wore that item every day afterward; a few customers remarked on how it complemented the new silver in her hair.

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo




edited out.

newtestleper fucked around with this message at 10:38 on Jan 7, 2017

widespread
Aug 5, 2013

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




Secrets of a Small Family
877 words
Prompt: You are looking for a blade that can cut through lies. Voidmart also hates deception, so I'm sure we have just the thing ;)

God bless his soul and all, but I swear my son has something to hide. Every day I see him, he looks or feels cloudy. Everyone’s saying he’s on drugs, and I’m inclined to believe that. But every time I ask him, he just says that he isn’t. It’s worrying at this point. He’s my son, and he could be close to death for all any of us know. We considered searching his room high and low for any paraphernalia, but my wife suggested that we encourage him away from drugs via hobbies. While I love my wife and all, sometimes her methods are questionable. However, I am inclined to agree that maybe our son needs a hobby besides work. This place they call VoidMart seems to be a good start, even if I’ve no recollection of entering this place in my life.

Sipping on some coffee, I ponder over what my son could be into. At his age, there’s quite a lot he can try. My phone was buzzing from the back-and-forth texts I keep sending my wife. All the texts were of hobbies our son could try. Eventually, we both settled on collecting. After all, if he spent money on one thing, he can’t get his fix most likely. However, there are many things to base collections on. It’s not going to be easy, but I figured I’d find something that’d catch his eye. Downing the coffee, my adventure started. For the sake of my son, I hope there’s something in this strange place to catch his eye.

As I explored, I realized that VoidMart was a very strange place. Lots of things lined shelves, including things I almost know are illegal. It was then I happened upon a sinister section, one that held an assortment of ancient artifacts. Any thought I had of helping my son soon dissipated, with feelings of uneasiness setting in. Sure enough, I see a handle. It was placed between two ancient books, which I considered odd. Then again, this whole section was odd. But if it was an interesting sight, maybe it’ll be interesting for my son. Pulling the handle ever so gently, I saw the wicked blade attached. The craftsmanship was ornate, with bits of filigree lining both handle and blade. But as I stared, I felt my heart race. My mind wanted to yell as I stared. This dagger wasn’t normal, I assumed. It took a fair amount of willpower to remove the blade from the section, but I considered it a feat to even find it.

Later that evening, my wife and I perused my recent purchase. She agreed that this knife was unnerving for some reason, but neither of us knew why. Thankfully, our son had just arrived from his job. We could just hand this thing off and be done with it. The front door opened, pleasantries were exchanged, and we sat our son down at the table.

“Now son, your mom and I love you very much.” I said. “But we feel that maybe you need something to think about besides work.”

“Yes. That’s why we got you this.” My wife chimed in, handing him the dagger as carefully as she could. Her hands were trembling.

“Ooh. This blade looks fancy.” My son spoke. Without worry, he grabbed the blade by the hand. He then proceeded to stare at the blade, observing the edge and blunt of it. Watching him analyze the blade, we couldn’t help but wonder that he was handling it with a good amount of finesse. He certainly didn’t seem uneasy slashing the air to his left. But as he swung the knife, I could hear a faint female voice.

“Tell her about me…” the voice whispered. “You can’t hide our time forever…”

It was enough to send a shiver down my spine. I hadn’t thought of that woman in a few weeks, and it was as if her spirit was in our son’s gift. With a glance over to my wife, I noticed her face was mortified for reasons unbeknownst to me at that time.

“Now… how about you go find a spot to put that thing?” I blurted, as to break away from what I thought I heard. “On top of the dresser, maybe?”

“I’ll find a spot for it, dad.” My son replied, standing up. As soon as he cleared the room, I quickly leaned into my wife’s ear. As it was, she did the same thing to my ear.

“You heard her too… didn’t you?” I whispered.

“No. Did you hear him, though?” She replied.

“I didn’t. Mine was a woman’s voice.”

“Weird. But…” She fidgeted in her seat a bit. ”Listen… I need to tell you something.”

“I know. You cheated on me. I did the same thing.”

“Was it some weeks ago?”

“Yes. With a co-worker of mine, I’m afraid to admit.”

“I slept with the local lifeguard round that time, too.”

“Okay then.”

The next few minutes slogged on for ages, it seemed. Dead silence, save for our son adjusting his room to place that cursed dagger. Guilt was washing over my body, with my heart wanting to drop like a stone.

“I think we need to see the therapist again.” The wife whispered.

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

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


Some experts assert that there are a number of unspeakable living horrors who are integral to the continuing operations at Voidmart. Your character has reason to believe that these creatures are not being fairly compensated for their labor.

Special Promotions
1991 words

I think my disguise is finally working. I’m past the cashiers, and Voidmart security is nowhere in sight. I sidle up to the meat counter, cool as a cantaloupe. The clerk, vigorously hacking away at a rack of ribs, meets my eyes, and keeps chopping, not saying a word.

“Do you have any Unspeakable Living Horrors?” I ask, with only a small tremor in my voice.

I follow him to the end of the counter labeled “Exotic Meats and Treats,” and we peer down into the case. A bowl of eyes stare back at me from between thick piles of flesh. I think I’ve had too much coffee, because it looks like one of them just winked at me.

“Gotta ask the manager,” he finally says, and hits a call button.

A crack splits the wall behind him, and spreads into a doorway. A middle-aged man lurches through, limbs jerking unnaturally. His eyes are completely black. My stomach knots tighter with every inch he covers. David, his name tag says. I suspect David has seen some kind of Horror. Possibly of the Unspeakable Living kind.

“No returns,” he says before I even open my mouth. “Only exchanges for an item of lesser value.” He pushes a styrofoam tray of meat into my hands, and turns away. It’s purple, spongy, and smells of fish, even through the cling wrap. The sell-by-date is yesterday.

“Wait,” I call out, but but the doorway is already shrinking behind him. I can’t let him go—he’s the best lead I have. The clerk is trying to wrestle a giant crab leg back into the freezer. I only have a split second to make a decision.

I don’t think of myself as a “maverick.” No, Abby Upson is more of a Rules-Exist-For-A-Reason kind of girl. But I’ve been butting my head up against a wall of Voidmart lawyers for weeks, and I’m sick of it. If there are Unspeakable Living Horrors working here, I will find them. And if they aren’t being fairly compensated, you can bet your butter I’ll be recommending a formal agency action. I work for the EEOC, for graciousness sake. We’re a federal agency! You can’t just put us on hold for 340 hours straight and ban us from the premises. Also, my report is due tomorrow and my boss says this is my “last chance not to screw everything up.”

So, I make a run for it.

*

Behind the door huge conveyor belts stretch into the distance. Employees on the closest one are removing old sell-by stickers and putting on new ones. I put the tray David gave me onto the belt.

“Get back to work!” a man yells, stomping towards me.

“I don’t work here,” I say. Oops. “I mean, not in this department.”

“Which one?” He says. His hands are creeping slowly closer to the truncheon hanging from his belt. I’m scraping my skull to think of an answer when I see a cart stacked with about a hundred cardboard Elvises.

“Cardboard Cut-Outs.”

He grabs me by the arm and drags me through the maze into a dingy back-office hallway that would fit right in at the EEOC. He stops in front of a door that says:

Margaret Schultz
Lower Sub-Supervisor
Cardboard Cut-Outs and High Explosives[/i]

He opens the door without knocking and shoves me forward.

“One of yours,” he says, and stomps off.

Margaret blinks up at me from behind the desk. She is putting a sock on a mannequin foot.

“So it won’t get cold,” she says. Then, as if coming out of a dream, her eyes actually focus on me. “Who—?“

“I’m new,” I blurt out. “Abby … Smith. Transferred from Meats.”

“Paperwork,” she says, holding out her hand. You’d think, working for the government, I would have thought of that. Nope.

“David said he would send it over.”

Margaret sighs and types violently into her computer. It lets out a moan that sent shivers down my spine.  “Nothing here. Typical Meat Department incompetency."
She hands me a giant stack of paper. “These are the departmental waivers. Sign here.” she points to the top sheet. I start to look at them, but she tells me to just sign. It’s not like I actually work here, so I do.

“I don’t suppose you’re familiar with the employee handbook?”

“Not really…”

“God, ever since David went to see the CEO--” she stops, and clamps a hand over her mouth.

“What?”

“Nothing. I guess since you just transferred I can make an exception—only this once, you understand?” She passes me a tablet. “Employees are responsible for knowing and complying with all Voidmart Policies. You have one day to familiarize yourself with the book. If you need to refer to it again, you can rent it for $20/hour.”

She turns back to her computer. Outside her office, I look at the handbook. There doesn’t appear to be a search function, so I flip through the index until I reach the U’s. I have to flip several hundred pages. There it is: Unspeakable Living Horrors. No page number, just See: Beetles. I flip back to Beetles. See: Unspeakable Living Horrors. Very helpful.


“Tired of beetles swarming your ceiling?" Says a sweet, grandfatherly voice over the intercom. "Try Voidmart’s patent-pending Buggy On Down Spray, available in the Pest Management Department!”

I look at the ceiling. Beetles are streaming across it, leading down the hallway and around a corner. I follow them until they disappear between the cracks of a locked door.

*

A small, wrinkled man glides up to the door, leaving a trail of wet slime on the floor behind him.

“Managers only,” he says.

“Oh, I’m Abigail Smith, the new Lower Sub-Supervisor of Cardboard Cutouts,” I say.

“Then where’s your keycard?”

“Margaret said they were having trouble with the computers.”

“Typical Cardboard Cut-Outs forgetfulness,” he replies “Not a brain in the department. Present company excluded, I hope. Anyway, you’ll want that key card so you can get your management discount in the cafeteria. As a Lower Sub-Supervisor of course, you only get .2 percent, but once you make it to Junior Upper Sub-Lead-Manager like me, you’ll get .8! Of course, that means going through…”

I space out while he lists about a thousand different management positions. A tentacle creeps out from under his trench coat. Is today Halloween?

“I even heard that Vice Presidents get a full 3 percent!” he concludes with a wistful sigh.

Just then, Margaret turns the corner. Uh-oh, this could be bad. But she doesn’t even look at me. She’s pale as paper and clutching a pink-bordered envelope to her chest.

“A summons from the CEO,” the small man whispers, eyes locked on the pink-rimmed note. He is trembling.

“Wow, It’s really great how the CEO takes such a personal interest in the employees here!” I say. He shakes harder. He must be upset that he hasn’t gotten to meet the CEO himself.

“Don’t worry,” I assure him, “I’m sure it will be your turn soon.”

He gulps, the wrinkles on his neck flexing, whirls around, and punches the keycode into the door.

*

He’s gone when I step through behind him. I’m in a long hallway, which leads to more hallways. Every twenty feet is an intersection. I turn right. It looks exactly the same. Long, straight, and with dozens of hallways splitting off. No doors. I turn back. At least I know this hallway has the door at the end of it. Wait, did I turn left or right? I look both ways, but the tunnel appears to go on forever. Very strange, but I’m sure I can find my way back when I need to, after all, it’s a straight line.

So where are the beetles?

Suddenly the hallway ends at a huge wooden door bound with iron spikes, like something out of a fantasy movie. It’s even guarded by two men in full armor carrying spears! Or maybe pikes. Who can even tell the difference between all that stuff.

“Upper Management Only,” says the man on the right.

Dang, what was that last guy’s title? Upper Sub-Junior something? I can’t remember. Besides, that 3% discount at the cafeteria sounds good.

“I’m the new Vice President of Pest Management” I say.

“I assume you have the usual protections?” Asks the man on the right.

Nope, but I don’t want to blow my cover in front of two dudes with halberds or whatever they are, so I say sure and they open the door.

*

I’m in a damp, dark cave. Voidmart must be using it to provide natural cooling. Very cool to see green building principles used at somewhere as huge as Voidmart! I follow some clicking noises--beetles click, right?--to a small subcavern. I peek in, and see a giant spider, at least fifty feet tall.

“Excuse me,” I ask, “Is this where I can find the beetles?”

The spider hisses at me, it’s eight eyes rolling. “No one bothers to learn the differences between arachnids and beetles anymore.” It rears up on it’s back legs, revealing a sphincter dribbling white paste. “Perhaps we should teach you.” Hundreds more eyes light up behind it, and chitinous rustling fills the air.

“Oh no,” I say, “I wouldn’t want to take up your valuable time. If you could just point me towards the beetles, I’d be much obliged.”

The spider drops its front legs, wobbles a bit, then finally stutters “Next left, then fifth door on the right, number 84,440B.”

I thank it for it’s kind assistance and move on. The caverns are softly lit by bioluminescent plants and the sound of dripping water echoes soothingly from the walls. It’s quite nice, actually. Thanks to the spider’s directions, I find number 84,440B easily. Inside are the beetles.

“Excuse me,” I say, raising my voice to be heard over the steady hum. The beetles draw together and form themselves into a roughly humanoid face. I think they could be described as an Unspeakable Living Horror, but only if one were very rude. It would probably not be very polite to mention Pest Control, either.

“I’m Abigail Smith, the new Director of Diversity,” I begin. When the swarm of beetles nods in what I assume is acceptance, I continue, “I’m doing a survey to ensure that all of our employees are content with their current situations and level of compensation.” I sound pretty professional, I think.

The swarm’s vague impression of eyes sweep down to the floor beneath it, where a bare human skeleton lays. It hums in a way that sounds mostly positive.

The skeleton stands up and walks to a large pile of rubber suits at the edge of the cavern. It puts one on, and looks more-or-less like a normal person, albeit a bit jerky on its feet. It pulls on a Voidmart uniform and throws itself onto a cart already piled high with similar employees.

Of course, the dead don’t require any compensation. A very efficient arrangement, you must admit.

“Well then, thank you very much for your cooperation!” I say, and wave goodbye to the beetles.

All-in-all, I think this has been a very successful investigation. I type out an email to my supervisor at the EEOC: No evidence of anything unusual or illegal at Voidmart.

*
In a lickety-split I’m back into an actually nice part of the corporate offices. A door swings open as I walk by, and I turn to read the nameplate:

Abigail Smith
Director of Diversity

My own office! I sit down at the desk and check my email. There’s a note from the CEO!

Congratulations on your promotion! Let’s meet soon :) :) ::)

I know I’m going to just love working at Voidmart!

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






:siren: This one time, limited offer submission opportunity is over :siren:

I still need a 3rd judge.

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


Sitting Here posted:

:siren: This one time, limited offer submission opportunity is over :siren:

I still need a 3rd judge.

Three's a crowd. Duo Judging Good Judging.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010

#onecallcat




Crab Destroyer posted:

Ethical Cannibalism - 620 words

A short short critique for a short short story:

- Proofread for punctuation and basic grammar errors before posting. You've got some missing and misplaced punctuation that could have been easily fixed.

- I appreciated the brevity of the action. There may have been too much exposition. Some fluff in your story kind of detracted from the potential intensity of the scene.

- I liked the ending. I guess some might see it as a little cliche, but I legitimately didn't see it coming since I was envisioning your character as being more heroic. v:shobon:v

I came away feeling as if something was missing from your story, though I still enjoyed it enough to share my thoughts.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

:siren: Thunderdome Recap! :siren:

We're back to double episodes for a short time, the first of them being this review of Week 218: Duel Nature and Week 219: cos wer goffik. Sympathetic characters are at a premium on the former's low rung, horror nonexistent on that of the latter, and Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and I ask ourselves: how insufferable can a man be before we stop believing a woman would hit the casting couch for him? Is closing a story with a newspaper article ever a good idea? Do Jack lives, in fact, matter? You may or may not agree with our answers, but with luck you'll enjoy our dramatic reading of Daeres' "First Contact"--a rare instance of Twist not being the most insufferable option!

Not long afterwards, the Aemete drones started synchronised dancing.


Episodes past:

pre:
Episode								Recappers

Week 156:  LET'S GET hosed UP ON LOVE				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Djeser
Week 157:  BOW BEFORE THE BUZZSAW OF PROGRESS			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 158:  LIKE NO ONE EVER WAS					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Djeser
Week 159:  SINNERS ORGY						Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 160:  Spin the wheel!					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 161:  Negative Exponents					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 36:  Polishing Turds -- A retrospective special!		Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, Kaishai, and The Saddest Rhino
Week 162:  The best of the worst and the worst of the best	Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, Kaishai, and The Saddest Rhino
Week 163:  YOUR STUPID poo poo BELONGS IN A MUSEUM			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 164:  I Shouldn't Have Eaten That Souvlaki			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 165:  Back to School					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 166:  Comings and Goings					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 167:  Black Sunshine					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 168:  She Stole My Wallet and My Heart			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 169:  Thunderdome o' Bedlam				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 170:  Cities & Kaiju					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 171:  The Honorable THUNDERDOME CLXXI			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 172:  Thunderdome Startup					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 173:  Pilgrim's Progress					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 174:  Ladles and Jellyspoons				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 175:  Speels of Magic					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 176:  Florida Man and/or Woman				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 125:  Thunderdome is Coming to Town -- Our sparkly past! 	SH, Ironic Twist, Djeser, Kaishai, Grizzled Patriarch, and Bad Seafood
Week 177:  Sparkly Mermen 2: Electric Merman Boogaloo		SH, Ironic Twist, Djeser, Kaishai, Grizzled Patriarch, and Bad Seafood
Week 178:  I'm not mad, just disappointed			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 179:  Strange Logs						Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 180:  Maybe I'm a Maze					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 181:  We like bloodsports and we don't care who knows!	Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 182:  Domegrassi						Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, Kaishai, and Bad Seafood
Week 183:  Sorry Dad, I Was Late To The Riots			Sitting Here, Djeser, Kaishai, and crabrock
Week 184:  The 2015teen Great White Elephant Prompt Exchange	Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 98:  Music of the Night -- Songs of another decade		Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 185:  Music of the Night, Vol. II				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 186:  Giving away prizes for doing f'd-up things		Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 187:  Lost In Translation					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 188:  Insomniac Olympics					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 189:  knight time						Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 190:  Three-Course Tale					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 191:  We Talk Good						Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 192:  Really Entertaining Minific				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 30:  We're 30 / Time to get dirty -- A magical time	Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 193:  the worst week					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 40:  Poor Richard's Thundervision -- Let the ESC begin!	Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 144:  Doming Lasha Tumbai -- Classic performances		Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 194:  Only Mr. God Knows Why				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 195:  Inverse World					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 196:  Molten Copper vs. Thunderdome			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 197: Stories of Powerful Ambition & Poor Impulse Control	Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 198:  Buddy Stuff						Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 199:  EVERYBODY KNOWS poo poo'S hosed			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 1:  Man Agonizes over Potatoes				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Kaishai, and sebmojo
Week 200:  Taters Gonna Tate Fuckers				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Kaishai, and sebmojo
Week 201:  Old Russian Joke					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 202:  THUNDER-O-S!						Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 203:  MYSTERY SOLVING TEENS				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 204:  Hate Week						Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 205:  the book of forgotten names				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 206:  WHIZZ! Bang! POW! Thunderdome!			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 207:  Bottle Your Rage					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 208:  Upper-Class Tweet of the Year			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 209:  WHAT DO YOU GET A DOME THAT HAS EVERYTHING??		Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 210:  Crit Ketchup Week					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 211:  Next-Best Friend Week				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 212:  Vice Week						Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 213:  Punked Out						Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 214:  THUNDERDOME ALL-STAR TRIBUTE				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Kaishai, and The Saddest Rhino
Week 215:  El sueño de la razón produce el Thunderdome		Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 216:  Historical Redemption (or:  Sin, Lizzie)		Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 217:  SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS, ATTACK!			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai


Special Features!

The Top Ten poo poo Scenes of Thunderdome				Sitting Here, Kaishai, Ironic Twist, and Djeser

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






ZeBourgeoisie posted:

Three's a crowd. Duo Judging Good Judging.

No.

And to prove my point, judging won't even start til I have a 3rd! :) :) :)

You failures loving disgust me, but perhaps one of you can redeem yourself a little by offering to help judge.

It's open season on crits, by the way. I encourage everyone to write at least one. If you failed, maybe you should write, I dunno, three.

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!




Sitting Here posted:

No.

And to prove my point, judging won't even start til I have a 3rd! :) :) :)

You failures loving disgust me, but perhaps one of you can redeem yourself a little by offering to help judge.

It's open season on crits, by the way. I encourage everyone to write at least one. If you failed, maybe you should write, I dunno, three.

ill judge ur face

its bad

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


flerp posted:

ill judge ur face

its bad

This guy knows what's up.

J.A.B.C.
Jul 2, 2007

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




I'd offer to judge, but I don't even have an HM to my name. So I don't think I'm in the running.

But from all the hot poo poo I hear people talking in this thread, it's insane that y'all ain't jumping to prove yourselves. Buncha literary cowards.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


fjgj

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







J.A.B.C. posted:

I'd offer to judge, but I don't even have an HM to my name. So I don't think I'm in the running.

But from all the hot poo poo I hear people talking in this thread, it's insane that y'all ain't jumping to prove yourselves. Buncha literary cowards.

just do it nike swoosh

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






Yeah, no, someone who has a story in this week isn't judging. No take-backsies.

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!




interprompt

a very slow and bad judge(s)

150 words

anime was right
Jun 27, 2008

death is certain
keep yr cool


flerp (1 word)

flerp

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!




rude

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Judge Everett Vance III

Everett was known throughout Texas as one of the worst judges that had ever wielded a gavel or worn a robe. They called him "The Hanging Judge", because whenever it was time to render a verdict he would start a long meandering speech, and as the stenographers struggled to keep up he'd wander from point to point, most of the time only touching on the innocence or guilt of the defendant in the most peripheral way. After a few hours of this it would seem like he was about to get to the point, about to render final judgment, but he would always leave everyone

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER




Fastidious Judging, Goon Judging.

What's truly horrifying is that you three read every story posted 'round here, even when you don't have to.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Hammer Bro. posted:

Fastidious Judging, Goon Judging.

What's truly horrifying is that you three read every story posted 'round here, even when you don't have to.

To be fair, we focus on the negative end, so it's only every DM and loss that we read. Anything else is a bonus, and whether that's less horrifying or more is a question I leave to the philosophers.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






Jitzu_the_monk, I hereby dub you Chairman Jitzu. We have our third judge, reading will commence shortly.

Beige
Sep 13, 2004


Kaishai posted:

To be fair, we focus on the negative end, so it's only every DM and loss that we read. Anything else is a bonus, and whether that's less horrifying or more is a question I leave to the philosophers.

Thanks to you three for featuring my story (and my apologies for producing it). You were very helpful, and kind.

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

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


flerp posted:

interprompt

a very slow and bad judge(s)

150 words

"I will not judge," Sitting Here said, "not now, not ever!" The letters unraveled on the screen in front of her like a waking snake, voice recognition software translating her girlish shrieks into a form of media comprehensible to the human mind. When it had stopped doing anything, she clicked around the screen until the page refreshed and the words were inside the thread.

"Because I cannot read," she added sadly, and closed her laptop.

ZeBourgeoisie
Aug 8, 2013

THUNDERDOME
LOSER


flerp posted:

interprompt

a very slow and bad judge(s)

150 words

there were some very slow and very bad judges

they got shot

there was much rejoicing

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


anime was right posted:

flerp (1 word)

flerp

archive this please

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






:siren: Actual Interprompt :siren:

Do some actual loving crits b/c that would be productive (GOD FORBID, I know)

judging will commence in a while.

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!




Sitting Here posted:

:siren: Actual Interprompt :siren:

Do some actual loving crits b/c that would be productive (GOD FORBID, I know)

judging will commence in a while.

u can also write about slow and bad judges too (like sitting here) imo

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER



What makes me giggle is how excited Sitting Here sounded on the Thunderdome Recap i just listened to.

What makes me not giggle are the stories. Well, only read one so far, but I have faith that we goons ruin everything.

Dr. Kloctopussy

Super-brief impressions: The first-person present tense didn't bother me at first. It adds a sense of immediacy to the story. The grotesque details were acceptable, but that cleverness predominantly radiates out from the prompt, especially if you've read all of them. The exposition is heavy handed, there are a handful of technical errors ("it's"!), and the reversals and repetitions are lackluster. You could've had me on this one, but it would've needed to be a whole lot tighter. As it is, the story drags on, with multiple scenes being ever-so-slightly escalated reiterations of the previous encounter and an ending twist that's hard to swallow -- the character's only obvious motivations are a paltry discount on lunches. After plodding through the entirety of the story, the first-person present tense became a detractor.

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo


Crit of The Doppol by Jay W. Fricks

I did a linecrit in a google doc. It has examples of everything I mention in the summary below.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1dBGdIdmIz0NLhghojKw0oRK5PCoumXwyUoct2PLb9R0/edit

The number one thing causing you problems here is your prose. The actual words are clunky, and you have paid no attention to grammar or punctuation or any of those guidelines we use to make stories nice and easy to read.


There are other problems too - the structure doesn’t really work and the twist ending is very bad, but I think that you should TD again this week and just concentrate on your sentences - reading them back, breaking up the parts and putting them together in different orders, using stronger verbs - just to make the story less painful to read.

There’s actually some things here that are really good to see - in particular your protagonist is a somewhat interesting and likeable character, who has a strong motivation - but all this is ruined by the poor prose.


Welcome to the dome, and thanks for sharing your story - We all know how tough it is.

One other thing to you and all the newbies - please don't be afraid to wade in and critique someone elses story, even if it's just a few sentences on what you didn't like. You being new to the dome is actually an advantage - your bringing new ideas about what you like and don't like and we want to take advantage of them!

Moxie
Aug 2, 2003



Interprompt critique

Lost and Found by newtestleper

Lost and Found

Paragraph 1: this is a good enough intro, though I'd prefer a less passive-voice phrasing in the last sentence.

Paragraph 2: calculated repetition here, I think you are establishing despair; there are also artifacts of self editing. happens to everyone!

Paragraph 3: specificity is brought up, let's see if it's relevant later

Paragraph 4: There's a lot of focus on salty tears here, and we're outright told she has emotional detachment because of Voidmart.

I decided to just read though the rest after that.

Yoghurt with an H? Well to each their own.

The employee is described pretty interestingly. I think he's the highlight of the story.

She finds a clue here, in the form of a smell that she missed earlier but I don't think was mentioned earlier.

Specificity doesn't seem to be important except as a general Voidmart joke.

I think that the overall plot of the emotion-sucking scheme and its perverted recycling justification is good. I don't like the wrap up where she solves the problem by screaming and jumping into the drain. This section might have benefited from expansion. They're being conveyed in liquified human emotions and that emotion doesn't make it into the action (except terror).

I ended my story with a stinger too, cool.

Overall I think that this was well written but it could have used a lot of tightening and polish. Lots of missed opportunities I feel outside the broad strokes of the plot and the lone employee in the story.

I feel like I may have been overcritical because we're in a competition. Good luck this week!

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







widespread posted:

Secrets of a Small Family
877 words
Prompt: You are looking for a blade that can cut through lies. Voidmart also hates deception, so I'm sure we have just the thing ;)

God bless his soul and all, but I swear my son has something to hide. Every day I see him, he looks or feels cloudy. this is a good opener - you've expressed character, set up a situation, a conflict and added a note of unease ("cloudy" is a weird way to describe someone but i'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that it's intentionally eerie)Everyone’s saying he’s on drugs, and I’m inclined to believe that. uhuh But every time I ask him, he just says that he isn’t. oh It’s worrying at this point. hmm yes i see He’s my son, yeah you said that and he could be close to death for all any of us know. who is us? We considered searching his room high and low cliche for any paraphernalia, but my wife suggested that we encourage him away from drugs via hobbies. you're just reporting fairly tedious conversaitons now While I love my wife and all, that's nice sometimes her methods are questionable. what a weak flabby word However, I am inclined to agree that maybe our son needs a hobby besides work. This place they call VoidMart see you could have had a cool scene where he sees voidmart and it's cool an spooky but no seems to be a good start, even if I’ve no recollection of entering this place in my life.

Sipping on some coffee, I ponder over what my son could be into. At his age, there’s quite a lot he can try. My phone was buzzing from the back-and-forth texts I keep sending my wife. All the texts were of hobbies our son could try. Eventually, we both settled on collecting. After all, if he spent money on one thing, he can’t get his fix most likely. However, there are many things to base collections on. It’s not going to be easy, but I figured I’d find something that’d catch his eye. Downing the coffee, my adventure started. For the sake of my son, I hope there’s something in this strange place to catch his eye.
dull, pointless, cut. this is the second para in your story and it should be eerie and enticing, your hank hill dad is going into Walmart via Cthulhu, make me feel how he feels

As I explored, bland verb I realized bland verb, instead have him see hear feel or smell something (that VoidMart was a very strange bland adjective, this is telling us its weird (which you do the whole way through) when it shoudl be showing us. have a screaming hippo fetus in a bottle, or a tiny replica of a fire station on fire or idk something actually odd place. Lots of things man i love things lined shelves, including things woohoo! I almost know are illegal. gosh! It was then I happened bland verb upon a sinister ooh section, one that held an assortment of ancient artifacts. describbbbbbbe them Any thought I had of helping my son soon dissipated, with feelings of uneasiness setting in. Sure enough, I see a handle. I actually read this as door handle at first It was placed between two ancient books, which I considered odd. why? you just said the whole thing was full of ancient stuff so it would be odder if it was next to idk an electric can opener? Then again, this whole section was odd. But if it was an interesting sight, maybe it’ll be interesting for my son. Pulling the handle ever so gently, I saw the wicked blade attached. The craftsmanship was ornate, with bits of filigree lining both handle and blade. But as I stared, I felt my heart race. My mind wanted to yell as I stared. This dagger wasn’t normal, I assumed. It took a fair amount of willpower to remove the blade from the section, but I considered it a feat to even find it. this is bland and nonsensical in perfectly balanced measure.

Later that evening, my wife and I perused i was actually gonna ping you on this, but peruse doesn't just mean books, huh. learnt somethign today GO THUNDERDOME my recent purchase. She agreed that this knife was unnerving for some reason AGAIN don't just say something is odd, find a combination of words that arouse that feeling in the reader, but neither of us knew why. Thankfully, our son had just arrived from his job. We could just hand this thing off and be done with it. The front door opened, pleasantries were exchanged, and we sat our son down at the table.

“Now son, your mom and I love you very much.” I said. “But we feel that maybe you need something to think about besides work.”

“Yes. That’s why we got you this.” My wife chimed in, handing him the dagger as carefully as she could. Her hands were trembling. haha this is actually a completely insane scene which i don't think you quite realise SON, WE HEARD YOU MIGHT BE HAVIN SOME BRAIN PROLLEMS, SO HERE'S A FANCY RAZER SHARP KILLIN STICK JUST IN CASE YOU NEED SOMETHIN TO OBSESS YERSELF ON

“Ooh. This blade looks fancy.” My son spoke. Without worry, he grabbed the blade by the hand. He then proceeded to stare at the blade, observing the edge and blunt NO of it. Watching him analyze the blade, we couldn’t help but wonder how does he know what his wife is thinking is he versed in esp that he was handling it with a good amount of finesse. He certainly didn’t seem uneasy slashing the air to his left. But as he swung the knife, I could hear a faint female voice.

“Tell her about me…” the voice whispered. “You can’t hide our time forever…”

It was enough to send a shiver down my spine. I hadn’t thought of that woman in a few weeks, and it was as if her spirit was in our son’s gift. With a glance over to my wife, I noticed her face was mortified for reasons unbeknownst to me at that time.

“Now… how about you go find a spot to put that thing?” I blurted, as to break away from what I thought I heard. “On top of the dresser, maybe?”

“I’ll find a spot for it, dad.” My son replied, standing up. lol he's totes gonna kill his parents As soon as he cleared the room, I quickly leaned into my wife’s ear. As it was, she did the same thing to my ear. HOW IS THIS PHYSICALLY POSSIBLE DOES HE HAVE PREHENSILE EARRRRS

“You heard her too… didn’t you?” I whispered.

“No. Did you hear him, though?” She replied.

“I didn’t. Mine was a woman’s voice.”

“Weird. But…” She fidgeted in her seat a bit. ”Listen… I need to tell you something.”

“I know. You cheated on me. I did the same thing.”

“Was it some weeks ago?”

“Yes. With a co-worker of mine, I’m afraid to admit.”

“I slept with the local lifeguard round that time, too.”

“Okay then.” great drama in this dialogue, it really sparks off the page!

The next few minutes slogged on for ages, it seemed. Dead silence, save for our son adjusting his room to place that cursed dagger. what would this sound like, is he moving very large ornaments. Also don't say 'it was silent apart from the noise'. Guilt was washing over my body, with my heart wanting to drop like a stone. this is both a cliche and an example of 'almost' writing - don't tell me things almost happened, tell me what happened.

“I think we need to see the therapist again.” The wife whispered. dialogue is punctuated 'blah," he said. Plus this is both bland and shockingly dull as an ending to a story about a vaporous teen being given a hellknife by his autistic parents

Apart from the seemingly unintentional comedy of one scene, this is terribly bland and has no ending or point to speak of. The parents adultery comes from and goes to nowhere - you could eeeeasily have at least mentioned it in the first para by flensing the word blubber with which the rest of the story is festooned. You also could have given us an actual answer for why the kid is glum, could have made the dad's visit to the 'Mart even the tiniest bit interesting and could have had something happen at the end that wasn't just making an entry on the family Outlook calendar.

Otherwise, nice work!

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Moxie
Aug 2, 2003



Kaishai posted:

Customer Service
(1,047 words)
Employee; Department: Jewelry

No one at Voidmart ever saw Genevieve wearing fewer than ten pounds of the store's finest jewelry, and no one ever saw her displaying the same piece twice. By four in the morning every morning, she glittered amidst her forest of showcases and carousels, her black velvet turtleneck an ideal backdrop for Ethiopian opal and silver-set jade. Her suede trousers flattered the fire of anklets and watch chains. alliteration seems forced A customer had once mortgaged her house to buy padparadscha sapphire combs out of Genevieve's hair, leading to Genevieve's immediate promotion to head of Jewels and Accessories.

An old soldier rang the bell for service at her register one afternoon. He was considerably more grizzled than the standard military customer and short an eye besides, but he wore his camo well. "What do you need, sir?" Genevieve asked him. look I know this conversation just started but it's already boring. she could have said something more customer service-y or something that added to the characterization you already established.

"Something a friend of mine lost. It's here somewhere," he said. "Maybe in your Lost and Found. Maybe in the basement."

"We--" The steady stare of his pale eye cut short Genevieve's denial of the basement. "I can try to find it for you. What does it look like?"

"This." He slid a page across her glass counter. The chalk sketch showed a collar of woven gold and amber so exquisite that Genevieve forgot Voidmart entirely for a moment, caressing the paper, imagining the reality. The soldier brought her back to herself with a rap on the glass. not getting why this is so special, but i guess it must be for chalk to be gold and amber

"Yes," she said slowly. "We might have found something like that. It will take me some time to retrieve it."

He said, "I can wait."

and so ends a the conversation between a grizzled vet and an extreme jewelry fetishist that could have also been between anyone and anyone

The stairs to the basement were hidden deep within a maze of nine-dollar prom tiaras. that's pretty cool Genevieve stopped beside a table of rings and twisted certain bands on their display mounts, taking care with the order. Part of a wall swung inward. She hurried through the gap and grabbed the flashlight she kept just inside; once the basement entrance had closed again, she turned on the beam and descended.

All around her, jewels threw the light back into her eyes. Rhinestones crusted the most shallow layer of stairway walls. A bit deeper and semiprecious stones glimmered with hope, falling dark again when she passed them over. The stairway trembled while she was in the corundum layer, and the faint whine of brakes told her the employee subway had pulled in nearby. She moved down through diamonds and out, finally, into caverns measureless to man: the Voidmart storage vaults.

Genevieve flipped the light switch, and hundred torches caught fire. Crystal skulls grinned from a high shelf. Carved panels of amber shone. A jeweled book, water-warped, demanded to be admired. She picked up a Fabergé egg instead and kissed the golden head of its cherub for luck, because the caverns were warmer than any basement ought to be, and not every sound she heard had to do with the subway system. Somethings breathed in the shadowy niches beyond the fire's reach.

She came to a metal door and pressed her palm against it. Needles stabbed her fingers. Her blood matched company records: the door let her into a cubby the size of an ordinary, reasonable closet, lined with lead coffers. The air in there hummed anyway. Genevieve chose a box, opened it.

i think the rapid shift from genre to genre during this journey works pretty well

Oh! Gold spilled over her hand, fluid as water; amber nodules glowed, each the sun's essence bent into the gently curved form of a bean; and the necklace sang with the echo of dwarven hammers ages old. "Brísingamen," Genevieve murmured, holding it up. It seemed to chime its name in answer.

Back out in the vaults, an enormous wolf stood waiting.

Did it belong to the old soldier? Genevieve hesitated. She opened the box again and held up Brísingamen. The wolf growled, showing black teeth. Genevieve met its glare and slid the necklace into her pocket.

The beast sprang at her then. Too fast--she brought the box down on a head already snapping at her middle, going for her belly but closing its teeth on her Alaska-shaped, ruby-studded belt buckle instead; a crack sent two fangs and fourteen Aleutian Islands flying. With strength built over years of loading her arms with chunky bracelets, Genevieve beat the wolf away and backpedaled to the wall.action sequence out of nowhere! good so far though. i suppose the voidmart touches slow it down a bit

She yanked a long pin tipped with tanzanite from her hair. Her coiffure was ruined, but she pierced the wolf's left eye when it lunged for her again. Screaming, it sprang away. She pulled an opera-length chain from her neck and jumped for the beast, landing astride it and wrapping platinum links around its throat.

It rolled, it clawed, it scraped her against the shelves. The Florentine Diamond tumbled from its place and bounced out of sight, but Genevieve held on. "Waiting for the chain to break?" The wolf's contortions brought her mouth close to its face. She hissed into its ear, "I don't wear the cheap poo poo." story is more fun than i expected

The corpse remained behind when Genevieve returned to the sales floor.

The soldier still stood at her counter. "Not too quick," he said. His eye fixed on the pin skewering her bun, as though he saw the blood she'd wiped away. "But Fenrir's get will make trouble when they can."

Genevieve held out Brísingamen. "Please tell Freyja that Voidmart is happy to restore this to her, sir." oh now i get it :downs:

"She'll appreciate that."

"You might also mention that we accept cash."

"She'll appreciate that more," said Odin. "You have our thanks for your service."

He walked away, toward Literature and Poetry, with a pair of wolves suddenly tagging his heels. They turned their heads in unison to look back at Genevieve, their eyes yellow and knowing.

Her sense of satisfaction with her work lasted the whole two minutes until a bicycle courier braked in front of her counter. "Management wants a meeting!" he said.

Genevieve shivered so hard her bracelets rattled.

***

At four in the morning the following morning, Genevieve glittered behind the register for Jewels and Accessories. She smiled at all who saw her. At empty space, too. "Making customers happy makes the Managers happy," she told everyone and no one, again and again, while stroking the diamond-tipped wolf claws strung on her necklace. She wore that item every day afterward; a few customers remarked on how it complemented the new silver in her hair.

Hey this story is pretty good. Not a lot to complain about, but I'll try. The main character turns out to be a badass but besides her fashion sense and action heroine turn I couldn't tell you much about her. Even an adventure story could benefit from characterization; there's a lot of stuff you can point to here where she demonstrates prowess/knowledge/one liners but overall I think she's pretty flat. I don't root for her, you know? Furthermore maybe the story or Genevieve herself could do with more Norseness. Still a fun read.

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