Bernard withdrew his penis out and touched the tip. Put it in, take it out, touch the tip. In the darkness of his bedroom, he knew it to be the only way to be sure. And when he was sure, he went back to thinking about baseball facts, an idea from his therapist.
“What are you doing?” she said.
“I’m checking the condom for breaks,” Bernard said. She was confused.
“It’s the only way to be sure,” he said.
“That’s weird,” she said.
“Do you not like it?”
“I don’t know yet.” Bernard continued to check the tip of the condom.
“Okay, yeah, I don’t like it,” she said.
This wasn’t the first woman who put her clothes on and left while Bernard was still touching the tip of his dick, but thankfully she didn’t ask why he kept doing it even as she cleaned up. Multiples of 100 he would have told her, mostly under his breath and certainly not louder than the sound of his front door closing. Sitting on the edge of his bed, Bernard touched the tip of his flaccid penis for the 200th time and finally took the condom off.
The next day he found himself sitting on the edge of his therapists chair the same way he would sit on the edge of his bed. He counted hundreds in his head and kept his hand in his pocket, but did not touch his penis.
“Do you want to touch your penis right now?” his therapist asked.
“I mean, who doesn’t, ha ha ha,” Bernard said. He was losing the crowd. “No, I’m fine. I don’t think it’s the penis, I think it’s the condom. Well, the pregnancy.”
“How have the baseball facts been working?”
“How do you feel about vasectomies? They are reversible.”
The comment offended him. Why should he have to change to spite his own self? He imagined his therapist as pampered in his youth, ignorant of the difficulties of parenthood. Bernard knew how difficulty parenthood was, he had watched his own mother fail miserably.
“I’d really prefer to go back to my mantra.”
“Bernard, we’ve talked about this before, you even admitted that your mantra came from a negative place.”
Bernard was skeptical of the conclusion he felt the therapist had pressured him into. In the darkness and safety of his childhood broom closet, Bernard developed a positive reinforcement mantra to counter the vile and drunken rants his mother would shout at him from the other side. He would say it to himself a hundred times.
He was also proud of the fact that he knew that if he was ever burdened with child he would be an amazing father, but moreover he prided himself on his realism. He was not ready to raise a child properly. Again he reflected on the flippant comment from his therapist. Abominable!
The odds of a fan being hit by a baseball are 300,000 to 1, Bernard thought. He touched the tip of his penis, it was the only way to be sure. Baseballs have 108 stitches, an uncomfortable number.
“What are you doing,” the woman asked. Bernard explained his safety precaution. This time, she didn’t consider the revelation. She dressed and left Bernard on the corner of his bed.
“100,” he said.
The following week he sat on the therapist’s cushion-y sofa. Both of his hands were in his pockets, his hands were sweating.
“Reversible?” Bernard asked.
“Well, there are always risks,” his therapist said, pulling out a notepad.
In front of the converted brick townhouse, Bernard crumpled the note with the address on it. The referral had been purely personal. His therapist had a good friend who practiced locally, and was flexible on payment policies.
The receptionist handed him a prepared clipboard, complete with health and future questionnaire. The first page was perfunctory questions, but when Bernard turned to the second page he gave pause. The first question on the second page asked in plain words if he ever planned on being a father.
He was still young, well young-ish, he thought. A child he would raise would be an amazing addition to the world. But, this was a common and reversible procedure. There was still plenty of time to realize his future family.
The second question asked bluntly, “Do you understand the risks of this procedure?” He thought about what his late mother would say about him when he raised a child lovingly and adeptly. He could think of no better vindication.
The clipboard in his hands shook furiously. He couldn’t place the pen to the questionnaire without scrawling illegible symbols everywhere. The paper seemed to sink away from him, the text blurring and words jumbled together. Nausea gripped him and forced him to close his eyes. Imagining himself back in the broom closet he repeated his mantra about what made him so great. A great relief washed over him, it felt as though the sweat drops had been evaporated by a cool breeze.
He slowly placed the clipboard down and let the receptionist that he must have forgotten insurance policy in his car and would be right back. Once outside the office he stepped double-time until he was outside where he broke into a sprint.
Bernard found solace in the darkness of his bedroom. He could focus on what was important to him, and felt comfortably confined.
“Are you doing that thing again?”
“The baseball stuff? Yeah.”
“No, I know what you’re doing.”
Bernard had indeed checked the integrity of the condom. He had counted 37 times.
“I just can’t do this,” she said.
“Well how do you feel about butt stuff?” Bernard asked.
The woman slapped him and gathered her clothes. Bernard sat on the corner of his bed, thinking of baseball facts and touching the tip of his dick for another 63 times.
CHEMISTRY: Donatella Marazziti, Alessandra Rossi, and Giovanni B. Cassano of the University of Pisa, and Hagop S. Akiskal of the University of California (San Diego), for their discovery that, biochemically, romantic love may be indistinguishable from having severe obsessive-compulsive disorder.
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 05:11|
|# ? Sep 23, 2023 17:54|
Word Count: 990
Sita took objection to the University's policy. Planets were nasty, dirty places. Shure they were filled with all sort of strange forms of life, but that didn't exactly make them interesting. Still, she wanted to graduate, so there she was with a few hundred other students in the required course, milling around and poking indigenous wildlife in hopes of coming up with something interesting to put in a report.
This particular landing zone was wet and swampy, a warren of slow moving rivers and writhing ground cover. What little bare land remained was a wet mess that seemed to love nothing more than to swallow legs whole, leaving a number of her fellow students with one leg covered in mud and often bootless. How had humanity ever survived in such chaos?
Not everyone suffered as she did though. There were the strange few that actually showed interest in plucking bits and pieces up and bagging them for later analysis at the ship. Not actual biologists or rock lickers, they would have taken a more advanced field course, just your generally outdoorsy types.
Take James. He was a stocky business major, who followed Sita around for the most part. He wasn't offensive, or anything. He just sort of drifted her way. Part of the course was mingling with people outside of your degree field, after all.
"Hey. Hey! Sita. Check this out." James had a plastic sandwich container filled with a myriad of dark wiggly shapes.
"Check these tadpoles out. They're like candy." James shook the mass of wiggling creatures at her.
"You ate those?" she asked, wrinkling her nose.
"Yeah! They're safe. I took them back to the ship and analyzed them and everything. They're like wiggling sugar cubes."
Sita brought her cell phone to bare on his 'snacks' and snapped a few pictures to enter into a search engine. "You can get actual sugar cubes back on the ship though. By the coffee machine."
James laughed and popped one of the squirming things into his mouth with a grin. "Yeah, but this is cooler. It's like, you know, survival eating." James didn't really look like he was struggling to survive, his jumpsuit easily a bit too small for his middle section.
Sita stared blankly at him. "I don't get it."
"Well, for one thing, there's money in new foods."
Sita snorted. What a dumb way to make money. Why would people pay for new foods when old foods were perfectly fine? "Still don't get it."
James shrugged. "You don't get any of this, do you?" He gestured to the swamp around them.
She had to admit that he was right. This all seemed like a rather odd waste of time. Just the fuel costs of landing on a planet and then returning alone seemed an affront to her sense of efficiency. "No. I guess I don't. I just... think we'd have moved on from planets by now."
James shook his head at the ground. "You'll learn. Someday."
Sita's phone beeped. She gazed at its display. She gagged. Then she snorted. Then she laughed.
Sita shook her head. "Nothing. Nothing." Her cheeks were bright red, and her attempts to hide her laughter simply made it force its way out between her tight lips.
"Nothing. I just got a funny email."
Sita was saved from further questions when both their phones rang. It was time for a class meeting back by the ship. Sita did her best to not laugh too much on the way back.
The ship was in the middle of a field of flowers, gigantic ambulatory things that moved along on pseudopods over the writhing ground cover. The professor explained to the group that the blooms traveled for miles to reach these very swamps so that they could pollinate each other. It was a pretty dry lecture, but Sita couldn't stop laughing, up to the point that she kept getting dirty looks from the professor.
The class watched as the flowers reached the water edge, and unfurled in their full glory to disgorge millions of wiggling tadpoles into the water. Sita didn't care about the flowers though. She cared about James's face. She watched his eyes dart from the flowers, to his container of tadpoles, and back again. Slowly, steadily, his expression darkened as the writhing tadpoles sought out other flowers and wormed their way up their petals and inside them.
He retched and gagged. Sita laughed so hard she had to crouch down and catch her breath. "Sperm," she wheezed at James. She rolled backwards onto the ground and looked up at him. "Sperm," she said again, her voice a whisper.
James wiped his mouth and put his container away. He stared at her as she rolled about, and then he too started to laugh. Sita paused, and blinked at him.
"Sita, you don't know what milt is, do you?"
James continued to laugh, and gave Sita the biggest grin she'd ever seen. An unforgettable toothy grin that she never forgot.
How could she forget that grin when it stared at her every time she visited the snack machine outside of the computer lab. There he was, his toothy maw stamped on a growing array of foil packages of 'nature's candy'. Where once proud and ancient standby's of fried corn and sweet chocolates stood was now the domain of flavored and packaged masses of flower sperm. There were now flavors for every palate, teriyaki, bacon, honey! James made millions off the rights to harvest and distribute the things.
Even her fellow engineers were eating it up. It was all the rage, and even her lurid descriptions of the products source did little to dissuade her classmates from gobbling them up. Sita leaned her forehead against the glass display of the machine and laughed to herself. "Sperm," she said to herself in defeat, the last sane human in a world gone mad for flower cum.
BIOLOGY: Richard Wassersug of Dalhousie University, for his first-hand report, "On the Comparative Palatability of Some Dry-Season Tadpoles from Costa Rica." [Published in The American Midland Naturalist, vol. 86, no. 1, July 1971, pp. 101-9.]
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 05:36|
The Miracle and the Sleeper
On the first day of school Marty took out his new notebook and began jotting down the lesson plan in class. He only had one goal, and it was to be at the top of his class. He sat with his back erect, ignoring the classmates who tried to talk to him, ignoring their whispers of "weirdo" and "stuck-up".
After the day had ended, everyone scurried out the doors to continue their fun, carefree lives. But for Marty, it was back to the tiny apartment his father had moved them into. The house was too big for us, he had reasoned. Now everything was too small, even without all of mom's things.
Marty deliberately sorted his notebooks after one another. He didn't really want to go home. As he dragged himself to the door, he caught a glimpse of a student sleeping in the back row. Her wavy head of hair draped over the desk like a mop.
He shook her shoulder gently. "Class is over," he said.
The girl stirred. She looked up at Marty with a wide grin. "Hi! It isn't everyday when a kind classmate wakes me up. I'm Judy."
"Howdy, Marty. You're the new student, right?" Judy let out a long, drawn-out yawn.
"Yeah. Do you always do this?" Marty said.
"Not that I like to do it! I have a condition, it's called narco... leprosy or something."
Marty wrote it down with his tiny pen. He would look it up later. "I'm sorry."
Judy shook her head. "No, it's fine. I read somewhere that a lack of sleep will kill you, but I'll be immortal because I'm always sleeping!"
For the first time in months, Marty smiled.
"Oh, right. Is my ride outside?" Judy asked, pointing at the window. Marty walked up to it and looked down.
"There's a big car in front of the gate." He couldn't name the brand. It looked exotic.
"Ah, well. Nice to meet you, Marty." Judy hauled her things back into her pink bag. "See you tomorrow!"
Marty watched her leave. It really was time to go.
Judy sat behind Marty, so he didn't see her during class. But during recess she would munch on a sandwich, her desk an island while everyone else merged their desks together.
Marty walked to her. "You're not sleeping," he said.
"Gotta eat, too," Judy said, winking. "Can't drag myself to the cafeteria without falling asleep halfway."
"Am I weird?" Marty asked. Somehow, the gap between them and all the other desks lengthened.
"What made you say that?"
"I don't feel like talking to anybody. Except you." He moved in closer. "But I hear them talking about me. Say I'm weird and all."
"Don't let that get to you," Judy said. "You're okay in my book."
The bell rang. Marty realized he hadn't taken a bite of his lunch. He had been busy reviewing his notes. The lessons weren't hard at all when you have nothing else in your mind. His stomach declared its emptiness to the world, and someone snickered.
Judy pouted, and offered Marty her sandwich. "Want the rest? I'm full."
The next day, Marty returned to his desk to find his notebooks gone.
"Have you seen my notebooks?" He asked his seatmate. The boy only grinned mockingly.
He waited until lunchtime to wake Judy up.
"You should've told me earlier," she said, motioning Marty to come closer. "I heard something earlier today. Brad and Frances talked about stealing your notebooks because they think you can't study without them."
"I'm not helpless without notes," Marty said. It wasn't true, though. If he was studying, then he didn't need to think about eating instant noodles at home because Dad couldn't cook.
"You want them back?"
Judy gave a crazed smile. "I'll help you." She stood up and grabbed their classmate who sat next to Brad.
"Where did you guys take Marty's notebooks?" she said.
The kid quickly coughed out the the thieves' hiding place. Judy strode down the corridor, Marty following her. She opened the door to the vacant classroom with a bang. Brad and Frances were sitting on the front row, copying Marty's notes with stupid grins on their faces.
"Brad! Frances! Give back Marty's notebooks!"
"He doesn't need them!" Frances squeaked, trying to hide Marty's name from his notebook.
Brad made a defiant face. "Serves him right for being a weirdo."
Marty stepped into view. "I'm not a weirdo."
"You are! You don't talk to anyone except Judy. Everyone hates Judy. Her dad's evil."
Judy walked up to Brad, grabbed Marty's notebook, and upturned his desk, sending him to the ground. Then she grabbed Frances by her pigtails and pulled. "What my dad does isn't your business!" she yelled.
The teachers came in to break up the fight. Judy winked at Marty as she was taken away.
Judy was suspended along with Brad and Frances. Marty went to their class advisor and asked for Judy's address. After class he boarded a jeepney then a tricycle to her house. It huge, with high walls. The black car was visible behind the front gate.
He pressed the button on the intercom and Judy came out, trudging up to him in her pajamas.
"Hi, Marty," Judy said. "What's up?"
"Hi, Judy. Thanks for standing up for me the other day."
"No problem. I kinda hate their guts, too."
"I brought you something," Marty said. He took out a stack of papers from his bag. "My notes."
"Aw Marty, you shouldn't have bothered," Judy said. "At this rate, I'll be repeating the year."
"Then let's make sure you don't."
"Can you tell me more about your dad?" Marty said. "I have a problem with my dad, too. We could compare notes if you'd like."
"It's always about notes to you, isn't it?" Judy said, yawning. "Come inside."
Without thinking, Marty yawned, too. He had finally found a friend.
PHYSIOLOGY PRIZE: Anna Wilkinson (of the UK), Natalie Sebanz (of THE NETHERLANDS, HUNGARY, and AUSTRIA), Isabella Mandl (of AUSTRIA) and Ludwig Huber (of AUSTRIA) for their study "No Evidence of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise."
REFERENCE: 'No Evidence Of Contagious Yawning in the Red-Footed Tortoise Geochelone carbonaria," Anna Wilkinson, Natalie Sebanz, Isabella Mandl, Ludwig Huber, Current Zoology, vol. 57, no. 4, 2011. pp. 477-84.
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 05:51|
PHYSICS: Louis Kervran of France, ardent admirer of alchemy, for his conclusion that the calcium in chickens' eggshells is created by a process of cold fusion. REFERENCE: "Biological Transmutations and their applications in: Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Ecology, Medicine, Nutrition, Agronomy, Geology"]
Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 19:06 on Dec 31, 2016
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 05:51|
PHYSICS: Jack Harvey, John Culvenor, Warren Payne, Steve Cowley, Michael Lawrance, David Stuart, and Robyn Williams of Australia, for their irresistible report "An Analysis of the Forces Required to Drag Sheep over Various Surfaces."
PUBLISHED IN: Applied Ergonomics, vol. 33, no. 6, November 2002, pp. 523-31.
newtestleper fucked around with this message at 11:35 on Jan 7, 2017
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 05:56|
Prompt: PEACE PRIZE: Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, LITHUANIA, for demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored tank.
REFERENCE: VIDEO and OFFICIAL CITY INFO
A sound like a dinner fork in a garbage disposal breaks the silence of suburbia’s third hour. Somehow, Tim can sleep through this noise, but not the sheepish knock of his mother at his bedroom door.
“Honey. Honey, wake up. I think the mayor has been drinking again.”
“Drinking mayo? Who?”
“The mayor. I think he’s been drinking again and he’s up to no good.”
Tim was slowly able to distinguish a mechanical whining from the ceiling fan. He bolted out of bed as if it were weaved with snakes and bound toward the front door. According to his eyes, he saw a tank. The kind with treads and a cannon. Unfortunately, his brain was still acclimating to this fact and so, for no reason he could discern, he leapt boxers-clad down the street and towards the armored vehicle. The tank was just under a block away. It wasn’t until he was halfway there that he realized he was actually running toward a possibly fully-armed, military-grade, armored tank. Tim considered the effects that a tank may have upon his meagerly maintained organic body and stopped.
It wasn’t long before his mom was proven right. A hatch on top of the tank popped open and the mayor sloshed out of the top with all of the stability of a charmed snake.
“Oy! Tim tam! Wanna ride to the future?”
“Don’t you have work in the morning? You’d better go home and sober up or we’re going to have another disaster like with the garbage truck donuts contest.”
“No can do. Got imporrent work to do. I was thinking I’d get rid of that uh, warm—what was it—warm globe disease.”
“What does a tank have to do with any of that?”
“Glad you asked Tim tum!”
The horrible whining noise of a misused transmission stopped and the tank hopped into far above first gear. To Tim’s horror, the mayor accidentally ran over some poor sap’s hatchback, flattening it into oblivion. When a second car fell victim to a crushing treatment as the mayor drunkenly bellowed Carry On Wayward Son, Tim started to think this was a bit of environmental consciousness gone too far. As he traced the path of destruction further down the block, he found his own car within its path. He figured he had maybe a poorly mimicked guitar solo and another chorus to either upgrade his insurance policy from PLPD or move his car.
Tim sprinted as fast as he could back to his home. He momentarily mistook the crunch and shatter of another car for a hernia. His cries of, “Keys! Keys!” did not reach through the window that his mom was gawking through, though she was able to see him trip up the porch stairs and knock the wind out of himself. She stepped onto the porch.
“Oh dear. You almost hit your noodle. Just lay on your side.”
“Ees,” he gasped.
“That’s right, take it easy.”
A car four houses down was turned into an ill-placed speedbump. The racket was enough to capture his mom’s attention.
“Oh, well you see what I’ve been talking about? I cannot believe they raised property taxes again with this—“
“I will not take it easy. This is just a bunch of...well it’s a bunch of monkey business is what it is.” She paused, pursed her lips in resolution, and said, “I’m going to go say something,” before marching towards the street.
Tim laid upon the porch in equal parts physical and mental shock. He watched his mother take a solid stance in the center of the street, arms akimbo. Neighbors that had previously been standing with their foreheads pressed into their palms at the sight of their newly modified lowriders were now more interested to see how well this woman dealt with the pressure.
“—MY WAYWARD SON. THERE’LL BE PEACE WHEN YOU—“
“Mister Mayor! As a citizen of—“
“—DON’T YOU CRY NO MORE. DUN DUN, WAH WAH, DIDDLY DIDDLY DUN DUN—“
Tim had never heard his mother tell anyone to shut up. It seemed like she had somehow saved up a lifetime of shut ups for a single ultra-potent one. The mayor shut up, but took an obstinate swig of whiskey.
Tim’s mom continued, “Right then. I say that we hold an impromptu town hall meeting right this instant.”
“No no no. This? This is bigger. Bigger than our town. This is ‘bout the whole Earth. It’s outside the town’s jurdisdiction.”
“Exactly. So why are you acting as mayor in this matter?”
“Ah ah ah. I’m not, see?” The mayor pointed at his breast. “No lapel. I’m off durty.”
“Then where are the police!?”
“Excuse me? Traded?”
The mayor patted the tank and made a face of smug satisfaction as he swallowed more of his drink.
“Unbelievable. I’ll have you know that I and everyone here pay—“
Tim regained enough of his composure to slink back into the house. He found himself lucky that his mom had managed to create such a diversion because his keys were in the third pair of pants that he checked. He finally made his way back onto the porch and made a plan to casually hop into his car as if he were looking for some documents.
Things had escalated between his mother and the mayor. She was climbing the tank in an effort to confiscate the mayor’s alcohol. The crowd began to cheer on her heroism. Now was the perfect time. Tim ran a bee line for his smoldering pile of wreckage, it was only a matter of—wait, that couldn’t be right. It was just there an instant ago.
Then he realized the ringing in his ears, the smoldering cannon atop the tank, and his mother’s face full of embarrassment. She pulled her arm out of the tank’s cockpit and said, “Oh geeze, I’m sorry Honey.”
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 05:57|
Prompt: NEUROSCIENCE PRIZE: Craig Bennett, Abigail Baird, Michael Miller, and George Wolford [USA], for demonstrating that brain researchers, by using complicated instruments and simple statistics, can see meaningful brain activity anywhere — even in a dead salmon.
Further Upstream, 1,000 words
Every time I checked, the fish was still dead. Not that I expected this fact to change, but it didn’t stop me from compulsively opening the motel fridge. The fish was dead and, unless I could think of something, so was any chance I had of lasting in the Agency.
“Receive delivery of one (1) Atlantic Salmon. Transport to arranged location and release into available river, stream, or brook. Ensure Salmon’s ability to leave under own power and navigation.” Not the strangest assignment they’d given me. Miscommunication was unavoidable in this line of work, but somewhere before me the word “alive” had been dropped from “deliver fish.” Even as I handed the bored delivery man an overgenerous tip, my mind was already racing. Inside the wrapped newspaper, the salmon’s frozen eyes stared in reproach. Even a dead fish knew I’d get the blame.
I’d alrady paced a few miles around the motel room when I remembered the Professor. I had engaged his services on some previous job, and the tiny notebook hidden in the leather covering of my agency briefcase still had his information. Phone number, address, blackmail material summary should he prove reluctant. Even through the voice scrambler, he sounded eager, simply for the intellectual excitement. No threats needed, after all.
“I suppose they didn’t tell you what this fish was for,” he said as I set it in front of him.
“Of course not. They tell me to take a fish somewhere and let it go, that’s what I do. They pay me to not ask questions.”
He peered at me over his thick spectacles. “Of course, of course. So it could be anything. They could have fed it a capsule containing Soviet secrets. There could be microfilm printed on its fins. The important thing was it was supposed to be released in a particular region. But no specific waterway?”
“No. In fact, they were remarkably unspecific.” I was worried he was going to suggest cutting the thing open, which would be as good as radioing my resignation directly to Headquarters.
He stepped to the window, saw the birds picking at trash in the parking lot. Then he spun back towards me, grinning. “Carrier pigeons!”
Not what I expected. “What about them?”
“Why do you think they used them? Do you think they were easy to train? No, it was because they could always find their way back to their home nest. And what else is compelled to return home and perform its natural function, regardless of distance?”
“Salmon! Everyone knows they always return home to spawn! Somebody must be waiting to receive this fellow and divest him of whatever he’s carrying. Virtually untraceable. Ingenious, really.”
“But this guy’s spawning days are over. Any idea how we can figure out his intended destination? How do they know where they’re going, anyway?”
The Professor shrugged. “That’s still one of the great mysteries, even in the Space Age. They just know. Now we need a way for him to tell us. And you know, I just read a paper recently that...” As he trailed off, I considered the feasibility of faking my death. obviously insane.
“That might just work,” he finally said as I was considering potential aliases. “Now, had this salmon been delivered alive, it would have to be in a tank, and I doubt it would have tolerated that for long. Therefore, the drop-off point must be somewhere close. Correct?”
“And time is still of the essence, if for a different reason. Dead fish are not known for their durability. Could we leave immediately? I’ll need some things from the lab.”
We’d been stomping through the woods for hours, him wathing the dials and meters attached to the dead salmon while I navigated from one water source to another. If we neared its birthplace, he assured me, we’d see a reaction. The entire time rambling about “the significance of our scientific breakthrough” despite me saying that it all would be highly classified, even if I allowed him to keep his data. Fish-based communication was just dumb enough to become adopted, and the last thing we’d need was someone trying to find out exactly why a couple idiots had jammed electrodes in a dead salmon’s brain.
“Ultimately changing the way we think about mortality and...” He stopped. “It’s moving! It’s actually moving!” I found the nearest stream on the map. As the readings became stronger, I began looking for our contact.
Finally, we reached it. The Professor sat on the bank, furiously scribbling while watching the meters. I was contemplating how to steal his notepad when a sound come from behind us. Not a roar, exactly, but a tired attempt at maintaining the appearance of ferocity. We turned to see something tall, furry, and brown, far too scrawny to be a bear. It groaned again and, when we failed to reply, gestured towards the fish, late afternoon light glimmering on its zipper. I shrugged, unplugged our salmon and placed it in the outstretched mitts. Like I said, I’ve seen worse. In an instant, it was gone, much faster than you’d think someone in a bear suit could run.
We were headed back, hoping to make it to the Professor’s car by sundown, when we heard another noise. A definite human shout this time. Another brown shape came jogging to us, but this time the headpiece was up, the wearer’s face exposed. I recognized him, another Agency man, sweaty and out of breath.
“Oh, you... you brought it yourself?” he managed. “Defeats the purpose, but as long as we get it safely, we...” He looked us over. “Where’s the fish? Did you let it go?”
I rubbed my head. “We, uh...”
“We gave it to the other guy. How many of you are there?”
Horror and realization crept over the Agency man’s face. “But there aren’t... I’m the only... Oh no. No, no!” And he too was upstream like a shot, leaving us alone in the dying light.
After The War fucked around with this message at 06:05 on Feb 29, 2016
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 06:03|
Word count: 1002
ENTOMOLOGY: Mark Hostetler of the University of Florida, for his scholarly book, "That Gunk on Your Car," which identifies the insect splats that appear on automobile windows. [The book ispublished by Ten Speed Press.]
He is in a filthy little motel room, motes of dust hover in the slats of sunlight that manage to creep around the stained curtains, with the stench of stale urine soaking into his pores. He tries to ignore it, he tries to focus on his daughter. The blonde filaments of her hair spread across his tartan plaid. The curl her tiny fingers. The pressure of her small body against his, as she lies on his chest, each breath a prayer. He wants to know what he has done to deserve her trust, her love. He understands the role of oxytocin in parental bonding, but it doesn’t explain how he could be such an awful father and yet still be her security, her source of contentment.
It doesn’t matter. She is sleeping on his chest and that is all that matters.
Outside the hum of cicadas rises, clouds of them spiraling up away from the dingy asphalt parking lot, littered with cigarette butts, toward the clear and open sky.
The girl is screaming. It’s a guttural sound that bears down upon Mark, punctuated by undulating roars of rejection. He tries to hold her, to keep her from banging her head against the floor, but she fights him. Those tiny fingers with their tiny little fingernails rake at his face causing rivulets of blood to flow and coagulate in his scruffy beard.
“gently caress! Goddamnit, baby.” He doesn’t let go, he moves his head away from her, but it isn’t enough. She continues to scream and claw at him. “Honey, please, you’ve got to calm down. Please, honey, please.”
Her tone shifts, she starts mewling, whipping her body back and forth as if helpless caught in a monster’s grip. Part of him thinks this is how she sees him; as the monster who stole her from the familiar. He might as well be. He chose his career over her stability, knowing that travel and change would be difficult for her to adjust to.
“I love you, baby,” he tells her over and over. “I’m sorry, but it’ll be better, I promise.”
Someone bangs on the wall. “For Christ's sake, we’re trying to sleep!”
You and me both, buddy, Mark thinks. But the disturbance reignites her screams and an arms race is born. The man in the other room continues to bang on the wall, and the girl clasps her hands over her ears, crying louder until Mark feels as if he is going deaf.
“Hey! Come on, guy, you’re only making it worse for her!”
The banging stops. Mark can’t hear over his daughter's cries, but the man in the other room is pulling his pants on and marching over to Mark’s room. He tries the door, but it's locked, so he does what he does best: beat at things.
“Open the gently caress up!”
“Jesus Christ,” Mark says. His head is rushing, the girl is still screaming, and the rear end in a top hat from next door is banging at the door. “gently caress it.”
He opens the door to find himself face to face with a wind weathered man with a protruding belly and a chinless woman. She’s clutching at her jacket, despite it being a warm evening, and craning her head around the large man. The man simply points a finger in Mark’s face.
“I don’t know what it is you’ve got going, but me and my wife are trying to sleep, goddamnit. You best knock your poo poo off or I’m gonna call the cops.”
“Look, I’m sorry, but my daughter can’t help it. And all your shouting and knocking isn’t helping matters any.”
“It ain’t my problem, just shut that fuckin’ bitch up!”
“Frank,” the chinless woman says, “look at her, she’s retarded.”
“I don’t give a good goddamn if she’s an imbecile or not, I ain’t paying my money to listen to her poo poo all night.”
“Don’t loving call my daughter an imbecile, you inbred hick.”
Mark doesn’t think before he acts, he shoves the large man knocking him into his wife. Her elbow hits the rusted guardrail with an audible crack, she cries almost as loudly as Mark’s daughter. The man with the protruding belly turns red.
“Oh gently caress no.”
Mark doesn’t see the fist coming, he only feels the shock of the blow and falls on his rear end. His daughter screams grow louder, ear piercing, yet over it he can still hear the man as he walks away.
“You best get outta here, I’m calling the cops on you motherfucker.”
Mark can taste copper in his mouth. He doesn’t know what to do. Fear presses in on him, the idea that the police would see how poorly his daughter is doing spurs him to get up. He fights with his daughter to get her into his arms, and leaves. He doesn’t even shut the door behind him.
Mark drives all night. He is exhausted, but the rumbling of the motor and the monotony of the road quells his daughter’s distress. He doesn’t know how he will manage. All he wants is to find himself a bottle of tequila and slide into a scalding hot bath. To feel the weightlessness, the warm buzz crackling through his body, and the sense of peacefulness.
To escape. Mark wants to escape.
“Splat,” she says.
It’s the first words she has spoken since they’ve began travelling, almost four days now. But Mark is too exhausted and doesn’t catch what she said.
“Splat,” she says again, this time pointing at a large smear of juicey bug guts.
“Yeah, baby, the bug went splat.”
Mark points to another constellation of bug guts, but his daughter shakes her head. She points to another similar sized smear.
It clicks. He points out another smeared cicada. She giggles. So he points out another. Then he begins to try and find them on the road and run into them. She giggles even more. Soon he begins to laugh.
“Yeah, that was a big one! Super-splat!”
They drive off into the night.
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 06:09|
welp it done be that time. Submissions are closed.
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 06:11|
ill be judge #3 but only if i get to be judge #2 and flerp is judge #3 instead
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 06:12|
INTERPROMPT: Write 300 words inspired by:
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 06:16|
ill be judge #3 but only if i get to be judge #2 and flerp is judge #3 instead
of course you want to be #2
because youre a #2
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 07:20|
Week 185 Crits Part 1
The South Sea Shuffle
Was not expecting this week to start out with splatstick, so…thanks? for that.
Really, it shouldn’t be a shocker that this received a DM—this was a story that tried to be both disgusting and funny, and the failure of the latter heavily outweighed the success of the former. And once you strip all the gore away, there’s not a whole lot of rhyme or reason to the bare structure of the story. She’s a leper/zombie who’s built up a cult following on social media, so much so that she’s literally devoured by her followers. If there was more subtext there, it wasn’t worth sifting through the medical waste to find it. I’m glad that you took a risk and went for funny horror this week, but I’m more glad that you were the only one that took that risk. At any rate, you seemed to have fun writing it, so that’s good.
At first, when I saddled you with this song, I thought I might’ve given you too many themes to work with. But that didn’t turn out to be the core problem.
Making the antagonist a literal storm of chocolate rain was a bad instinct, as that’s a really difficult monster to accept as a threat. But beyond that, this story is basically a long prelude to a much longer work. It’s a decent prelude, but on its own, it’s heavily lopsided and there are so many elements—the bank robbing, the radio station, the trucker—that never come to fruition. You were missing the 4K or so words that could’ve made this into a story with a point. The character is intriguing though, at least until the monster shows up. You could salvage some of this, or maybe even just cut the literal chocolate rain out entirely and work with a different threat.
A Stop Along Briarwood Way
The first half of this story, before the husband showed up, was really enjoyable. I thought you conveyed the tension between Toby and Jenna very effectively and I was legitimately excited to see where it went.
And then it went right down the middle of the road with the cliché Lovecraftian fleshbeast. It sounds comical even saying it that way, but it did feel like a letdown. You could have incorporated the song in a different way that burned slower, but I suppose you were running out of words anyway, which leads me to another criticism: that it’s another prelude, another story that doesn’t really stick the landing. I suspect you’re already aware of this, though. The setting was well done, and the characters were set up very nicely. If you’d managed to tie it off better at the end, you’d have done better this week. Take that ability to create tension and marry it to a more concise and unique plot.
I think out of the three judges this week, this story hit me the best on a first read. I liked the concept, I liked how so much was left unsaid, I liked the ominous note it ended on, and I thought the characters were decent. On a second pass, though, there are things you can’t ignore, like the djinn. I had no idea what the djinn’s purpose was as a side effect of this drug that was in all other aspects meant to be this addictive poison. You could’ve focused on the main character taking more measures to fight against this corruption within his world rather than wasting words on this dream hallucination and having his whole crusade be nipped in the bud during a paragraph break. Out of the 5 DMs this week, this is the one I might feel the most reluctant about, but ultimately…it didn’t hang together as well as I was hoping it would.
Tuesday Night Lock-In
This story probably had the least suspense out of all the ones we read this week. I kinda knew where it was going as soon as I got the Masque of the Red Death vibes from the first few paragraphs, and sure enough, that’s how it progresses, and how it ends. It’s on the same track from start to finish, and as well-described and neon as some of the scenes are, suspense is a huge part of a story being scary. As soon as the girl coughed up blood, that was all she wrote. Also, how did she get in in the first place? And what was the whole story behind the disease? It just exists, there’s no depth to it or any of the people that it kills.
I’ll Never Be
This had a lot in common with Analogues for me in that I really enjoyed it on a first read, but then all the holes in the story made themselves visible. Who wouldn’t notice that all this was going on, between the celebrity in question being gone for that length of time, or her becoming worn-down and decrepit and Suddenly becoming young and fresh again. It’s an interesting concept that leaves too many lingering threads unresolved, and ultimately, the protagonist does no work to fight against her fate beyond making it three feet down the hallway. And besides her being passive, she’s not much of a character, period. She’s literally a cipher meant to be filled by this other person, which I understand is part of the plot, but it’s a part of the plot that really worked against you developing a character that your reader could care about.
The Fate of The Animals
I could buy this as horror, albeit a loose interpretation of horror, but it’s another Passive Protagonist and another Concept, Not A Story. It’s very visually striking, but not much more than that. I gave out this flash rule in order to challenge you, have you create a story that would take place in an alien environment but would still be human and relatable. And that’s where this fails: it’s completely and irrevocably alien. If you’d continued this and developed the character some more, it might’ve had a better reception—you had a nice chunk of words left over.
I Have To Take Care of Everything
I guess this was an attempt at humor/horror but not in the same way Muffin’s was—this was a lot more low-key, which did good and bad things for this story. Even though some of the dialogue just fell flat, it was charming in its own special way, and I enjoyed the tone that it conveyed. But then we got to the basement scene, and the conversation and everything that surrounded it felt cheesy as hell, like an unsuccessful Shymalan twist, especially the protagonist’s dialogue. And then she just decides to Roll With It and the story ends at Subway. It felt like another story that set up a concept that was way too unwieldy to resolve successfully. If you’d worked on the pacing, that could’ve helped matters, considering the closing scene takes up about half the story.
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 07:44|
INTERPROMPT: Write 300 words inspired by:
Do I need to be in the real competition for this
lol, real competition
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 19:52|
Do I need to be in the real competition for this
No. Anyone can participate in an interprompt.
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 20:02|
No. Anyone can participate in an interprompt.
Left, Right, Hard, Cider.
Right had nodded to left hat, awaiting the arrival of the whiteshirt.
The pressed cider arrived after their people had settled. It was imported from the east in exchange for furs, clothes, metal, and soon all the implements to make the cider harder and sharper had come too. It had burned their town. Their colony had been built, Right Hat thought with pleasure, on the basis of fear.
A small white nightshirt burst in from a kingdom of metaphysical pleasure, arms akimbo.
'Just unfortunate,' Right Hat thought. 'The object of our pity today is a tiny man dressed as a jockey on a mare race in the cold.'
The barrel of cider crashed into the ground and the whiteshirt knelt and lapped at it. His first exposure to the alcoholic pleasure withheld by his people heralded an immediate loss. As he lapped, the arms from the barrel grew. The whiteshirt drank deep, the hat-holders gazed, and the scene sickened. The barrel arms began to crush the small man in white, the representation of admission to invitation, while he continued to drink.
Right and Left hat smiled. They drew closer as they saw this whiteshirt torn in half spiritually and physically. The hard cider barrel trial had been merciless to the whiteshirt's struggle. The hats held each other close as the barrel ripped the dwarf apart. It pulled marrow from bone, drank from skull, and made a buffet of viscera. "A compact impression of a life with a barrel of cider", Left Hat exclaimed. Right Hat rolled his eyes, as if he'd been expecting the weakly prophetic verse.
Next time, the hats thought. They would wait for the next man of 'resounding purity'.
Carl Killer Miller fucked around with this message at 20:27 on Feb 29, 2016
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 20:23|
Thank you for the week 185 crits!
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 20:23|
Something Awful Has Happened.
They've taken away H2 (History Channel 2) and replaced it with Viceland. Viceland, a goddamn HBO TV show which is a self described lifestyle magazine for millennials, the worst people in existence on the planet*. What does this have to do with Thunderdome, nobody loving asked? Simple, they've got a show that is twelve hours of Viceland staffers listening to voice mails from random people, called 646-851-0347 Leave A Message.
So this is what I was thinking, why not call them up and read to them the biggest losers of Thunderdome?
*along with everybody else
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 20:52|
Thanks for the crits!
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 20:55|
Something Awful Has Happened.
reach for the stars
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 20:58|
crit you for the thanks
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 22:18|
... Yeah, I've already moved on. I discovered that I can fling pencils down the hall with industrial strength rubber bands.
|# ? Feb 29, 2016 22:23|
Week 185 Crits Part Deux
The Mob Of Darts
The song is called Paper Planes. This is a story about paper planes that kill people.
Ok, so I’m not going to tell you to stop with the unconventional formats, because it’s a theme you’re very infatuated with even though it’s usually to your detriment. So learn how to do them better. Make it so that there’s an actual resolution to the story beyond “good deus ex machina paper planes come in and save the day.” Another tip: maybe make the testimonials more related to each other. You can have tension in a format like this, but the different personal accounts have to lead into each other and continue an over-arching story, rather than just dump a truckload of exposition in the middle of the narrative. It’s interesting to you, but the longer it goes on, the lower the odds that it’s interesting to someone else.
Turn Forever Hand in Hand
I was so ready to love this story. It’s a slow build, sure, and a lot of the events are mundane, but the imagery was some of the most disturbing I saw all week and I really enjoyed it. I could only imagine what the resolution would be, who Dr. Gillicuddy would turn out to be and what awful plans were in store for the protagonist.
And then it just ends before the climax, as if to say gently caress YOU, READER.
You ran out of words, I guess. Doesn’t make it any less of a shame. The barbecue scene really hit me, as well as a lot of the neighbor’s dialogue. Come back to this one and maybe give us more visual detail in the town itself, because the setting felt a bit flat at points. Also write a second half. :P
Deliver Me From Fireflies
As Bleusman stated, it’s really hard to sell carnivorous fireflies as an antagonist, and beyond that, the ending felt more like a triumph for the protag than any sort of gruesome demise. I was happy for him, he finally got to sleep. But it didn’t feel like much of a horror story at all. It was a guy talking to himself, then dying. Also, the apocalypse.
Really, my best advice to you if you want to make a go at writing better is to read more, because some of these sentences sound really awkward and run-on. “The day I had been fired, I could have sworn that my boss was a Lovecraftian monster, tentacles threatening to eat both me and my little dog final paycheck, too.” “My insomnia had gotten so bad, that the doctor he had seen just the day before - who honestly looked more like a minotaur than an actual human - told me that my insomnia was causing me to hallucinate.” It’s worth reading a few short stories on a regular basis just to get more of a sense of how these sort of sentences could be written in a more straightforward way.
A Moment of Your Time
The biggest problem with this story was not the lack of an ending, the biggest problem with this story was the lack of any agency in the protagonist whatsoever. I can understand if you want to just paint this tableau of a person’s misery and make it entirely about his lovely situation, but if you do that then everything about the story and the main character has to be vivid and unique enough to make up for the lack of a plot, and this in no way had that. Beyond your prose, which is always solid and was solid here as well, this just felt like a nondescript office and a nondescript version of Hell, and I couldn’t get myself to care about it. You had such a kickass song, too, and you turned it into something as middle-class as this.
Yeah, I don’t know what happened here. It was a shiny vignette, but I was really missing an emotional component. It was a glimpse into a world that was well-described and haunting, but it was ultimately just a glimpse, and some of the details—like the ghost in the back of the car, the death by sunlight—just felt like they were thrown in to create artificial intrigue by remaining unresolved. I think you did the prompt just enough justice, but nowhere near enough to grab a positive mention. It’s a missed opportunity.
The only thing I really wanted from this story was for it to go further into the narrator’s personal hell, and I think it could if you extended it some more in the future. Otherwise, it delivered on all counts, from beginning to end. It’s one of those stories that makes me think that you could’ve taken any song this week and made a decent story out of it, because the song I gave you wasn’t exactly the most hospitable. Good work.
This was a bit too all-over-the-place to land, for me. There’s a lot of world-specific detail here, which was alright, but it left too much about the actual conflict to the imagination. The end scene is meant to be this big horrifying revelation, but it just felt comical. It felt like you spent more time creating this world than making sure that what happened inside of it was important or worth reading about. You needed to simplify, badly—or at the very least assess what someone else would take away from this story.
Excerpts From The Journals of Doctor Lorraine Felt
This wasn’t half bad. I felt like you were semi-successful in the form you chose, mainly because you knew how much detail to give and how much to leave out. But it seems like a prologue to something larger than a full story. Again, there’s no real resolution to the piece, just an ellipsis suggesting something more interesting later. And it didn’t really seem like there was much horror in the story until the very end, and even then it’s kind of too little, too late. If you’d found a way to create more tension or conflict earlier on in this piece, it would’ve been much more successful.
I was surprised by how effective some of this was. It absolutely was not a perfect or even an above-average piece, and the way you handled that flashback was a slight against the TD Gods and you should be ashamed about that. But still, there were some things it did right. I liked the setting, I liked the way the boy’s mind was manipulated by the alien presence, I liked how he turned out to be the real antagonist at the end. You had a lot of good things here that needed a fair amount of polish. This wasn’t a great ending to this week, but it still ended on an alright note, so thanks for that. Keep at it.
|# ? Mar 1, 2016 00:11|
Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 19:07 on Dec 31, 2016
|# ? Mar 1, 2016 08:57|
Mother and Eater
Children huddled in the broken circle of Inanna’s arms, and what was left of Tel Aviv dared not raise its voice above a whisper. The armies of man had reduced each other to almost nothing under the banners of false messiahs, and now they were gathered in Megiddo, waiting for the second coming. Apocalypse, Inanna thought, was like a tea ceremony. It was the same on every world. The world-eater loved to play with its food, to send visions of false prophecy to the worlds it preyed on. Soon, its faceless throat would open, and Earth would be no more.
She and the children had taken refuge in the basement beneath a shawarma shop. It smelled of lamb and cooking oils; warm, everyday smells that had no place at the end of all things. Inanna breathed deep. I'll remember this, she told herself. I will remember the smell of cooked lamb and the softness of a child’s hair and the sound of a string orchestra.
One of the children nestled against her stirred, looked up, and said, “Will the fighting come again?”
And Inanna said, “No, little love, the fighting is over now. When we go back up to the street, God will have created a new heaven and earth.”
“I want to see it happen,” the little boy said.
“You must have faith,” Inanna said. It was a tremendous effort, trying to keep her voice tender and motherly. “Only the eyes of the faithful may look upon the new land.”
“It’s just war,” said a teenage girl. “War is always supposed to feel like the end of the world.”
Far away, and all too close, the world-eater opened its throat latched onto the teat of the world. The children felt it too, though they did not have words to explain it like Inanna. It was the teenage girl who began to cry first. She opened her mouth and a long, aimless moaning sound fell out. The others began to whimper and call for parents they’d never see again. Inanna pulled them all as close as she could and stroked as many scared little heads as she could reach, but she did not try to stop their tears. Once the world-eater had fed, there would be no one left to mourn Earth or its people.
The south side of the basement started to shift and compress, so slightly at first that it could’ve been a trick of Inanna’s eye. She knew otherwise. She said, “Come near me and close your eyes, and we’ll sleep through this. When you wake, you’ll be in god’s kingdom, and nothing will ever hurt again.”
The children, even the oldest ones, did as they were told, and in a matter of moments, Inanna was all but buried under a sniffling, whimpering pile. They rested against her and each other. For the first time in her mortal life, Inanna tapped into just a droplet of her divine power, and let reassurance flow out of her body and into the children like warmed whole milk and honey.
The south side of the room compressed like an accordion. All the color bled out of everything and ran toward the distortion in rivulets. In previous lifetimes, Inanna had watched whole cities disappear into the mouth of the world-eater where it chewed through the fabric of reality like a moth. Now, she only wanted to bring comfort in a time of terror. If she couldn’t save these children, she could at least counter doom with tenderness.
Inanna’s last moments in her human body were suffocating and dizzying and dark; it was as though she’d been rolled up in a carpet, then thrust headfirst down a tight black well, into the black molasses of the world-eater’s guts, with the children screaming and screaming until there was nothing left to scream with.
I will remember. I will remember.
The goddess Inanna stirred, as if from sleep. She was fully herself again, a shapeless concentration of white light drifting in the airless, colorless void between worlds. The fruit-like bodies of universes, those as-yet untouched by the world-eater, throbbed and hummed around her. Nearby, there floated a ragged cloud of of chunks like a dismembered corpse, bits of the Earth-universe left behind in the wake of the world-eater’s feast.
“Your sentimentality is a liability,” she said to herself. “The beast got away from us again.”
“But I'm the mother,” she replied. “The mother of all mothers. How could I not try to bring comfort to the dying?”
It had been eons since she spoke to another of her own kind, another god. She could no longer remember her home, or her reason for setting out after the world-eater.
“Ask yourself: why is the mother of mothers trying to play huntress?” she said. “The pantheon has its huntress.” She struggled to recall the name of the goddess who presided over hunts and pursuits, but it wouldn’t come.
“Think of how many children...across how many universes…” She summoned the memories of Earth while they were still fresh--Bread, sand, laughter, meat, clouds--But Earth was not so different than other worlds she’d watched die. She could already feel new memories blending with the old. Her ancient mind overflowed with the muddy soup of too many sorrows, and she was no closer to stopping the world-eater.
She propelled herself into the void, ignoring her own cutting cynicism. She couldn’t see the world-eater, but its trail was easy enough to track. The universes it didn’t devour recoiled from it. All Inanna had to do was follow the empty space left in the world-eater’s wake. Eventually, when it found a ripe, quivering universe, it would stop, latch onto the membrane, and begin to suck.
She caught up to the beast as it was curling its sinuous body around the taut flesh of a young universe. The membrane was firm and glossy, like an apple. Inanna lingered at a distance, not sure if she was ready to incarnate as a mortal. The world-eater was unassailable in the void between worlds, but she was tired of watching things die.
“Go home,” she whispered to herself as she watched the world-eater prod the membrane with its gaping round orifice, looking for a place to latch on. It was like nothing so much as a newborn instinctively probing for a nipple. “You’ve seen enough. The thing cannot be stopped. So go home and forget about it.”
She was a heartbeat away from taking her own advice when the world-eater did something she’d never seen it do before. It uncoiled its massive body from the membrane and thrashed its wormy length, as if it were a snake with its head caught in a trap. Inanna drifted as close as she dared. The creature’s tail described an angry arc in the void as it lashed back and forth. But the world-eater didn’t detach. Couldn't detach, it seemed.
“No Inanna,” she said. “Leave it be. Go home.”
"I have to know how this is possible," she said, and launched herself through the void, past world-eater’s writhing tail, through the flesh of a universe.
Inanna opened her eyes and gasped. The sky could’ve been Earth’s--but no, the hue was off, it was too pale, and there were brilliant white lines that glowed like lightbulb filaments instead of a sun. She was on her back on a steep hillside covered in scree, and small rocks dug into her spine. She sat up, looked down, was surprised to find herself in a human woman’s body. The very same body she’d occupied on Earth.
The view from her vantage point was a stunning panorama of greenish-yellow mountains. A warm, tangy wind that smelled of strange loam and alien minerals tousled her hair as if to say, It’s alright. Don’t worry. She looked back up at the pale blue sky, at the fiercely luminescent stripes that ran parallel to each other, stretching from one horizon to another like lines in a musical ledger. There was no reason for her to be human, and no reason for a human body to be able to survive on a world where oxygen didn’t exist.
“Hello!” called a voice. Inanna spun around, her long black hair whipping about in the warm wind. A solitary figure approached her, following a path that ran along the spine of the hill she’d incarnated on.
The creature had a bulbous head, like an octopus, and ten tentacle-like appendages.
Six of them were modified for walking, while the other four tapered into delicate plumes of miniature tentacles like prehensile fingers. His black dinner plate eyes were on the front of its head, as was his mouth.
“Hello,” he said again when he was a few feet away from Inanna.
“Do you know what I am?” she asked, trying to keep the note of relief out of her voice. It was a simple pleasure, speaking to other beings.
“You are from the outer world,” the creature said, his skin rippling with colors: grey-pink, yellow-blue, neon brown. Inanna read the display as though the colors were words on paper: the creature was experiencing profound excitement and uncertainty. It was one of her gifts, as the mother of all mothers, to understand all children.
“Yes,” Inanna said. “Do you know what brought me here?”
“Oh yes,” said the tentacled creature, his skin trembling with colors of awe. “You goaded the deceiver into our snare. We’ve heard its false prophecies in our minds for centuries. Now, it is here, and its power is ours.”
“I don’t know how you trapped the world-eater, but you can’t control apocalypse,” Inanna said.
“It is best you see for yourself,” the creature said, flashing bright orange confidence. “Come.”
His name was a complicated sequence of colors and syllables. Inanna nicknamed him Red, after the first color in his name. Red seemed tickled to receive a name from a goddess, and chattered the entire way down the hill about his brood, his enclave, and the disposition of the light-streaked sky. Inanna made sounds of polite interest as she spread her awareness out and over the curious new world. It was vast, bigger than any mortal could hope to comprehend, and flat. As if it’d been rolled out like a carpet, complete with mountains and rivers and oceans.
Inanna stopped in her tracks. “This world was fabricated,” she said. “Somehow, someone…” All gods knew that universes grew from the void like wild fruit. No one had the power to create an entire world, not even the mother of all mothers. And yet this one felt as deliberate as a tapestry.
“Yes,” said Red, flashing a sly, mirthful yellow-green. “So you understand why a creature such as the deceiver might be useful to us. Think of it--it consumes, but doesn’t produce waste. How much energy is stored inside such a being?”
“I’m humbled by immensity of this undertaking,” Inanna said, her human heart racing. Red’s people intended to contain the world-eater, to milk its body to power their living artifice. It should’ve come as a relief, but it felt deeply wrong, as the death of children felt wrong.
Red’s enclave, his home, was a scattering of large, opaque domes nestled in a narrow valley between steep hills. They hunched together in iridescent clusters like the glistening backs of turtles in a summer pond. On the outskirts of the enclave was a long, narrow structure that terminated in a much larger dome, easily ten times the size of the others. Inanna shuddered to look at it. Whatever mechanism they’d used to trap the world-eater was housed in that building. It was as certain as the feverish ache in her bones.
Red carried himself tall and sure, his skin flashing goldenrod as they passed his colleagues and neighbors. Inanna watched her feet as she walked through the enclave.
They reached the entrance to the narrow structure and Red ushered her inside, still flashing prideful colors and chattering about how simply, utterly thrilled he was to have her in this world, in his enclave. Inanna blinked in the relative dim of the interior. They were in a long hallway that terminated in a distant door. The walls were the same iridescent material as the exterior, and were cluttered with panels and interfaces that flickered and chimed. Some were manned by Red's colleagues, who flashed sky-blue curiosity as Inanna passed.
“This is the one who chased the deceiver into containment,” Red said to his peers, loud enough that his voice traveled the length of the hallway. “I would show her the apparatus.” He stopped in front of the closed door that could only lead to the massive dome. “The deceiver is trapped within. We’ve created a world inside a world, one where it is oblivious to its true size and nature. Come, see.”
Red waved one tentacle in front of the door and it swished open. The room beyond was indistinct, and the harder Inanna strained to peer inside, the harder the ache of wrongness rattled her bones.
“What--” her question was cut short by a rough shove. She fell through the doorway, landed hard on her stomach. The door swished closed behind her. She got to her feet just in time to see it disappear completely. In its place was featureless grey, a whole world of seamless, featureless grey that obliterated Inanna’s perception of space and depth.
“I’m sorry mama.” A little boy’s voice from behind her. Inanna turned and saw a human child on his knees, head bowed, hands balled into fists. “I was too hungry. I heard you coming and I knew you were mad but I was too hungry.” The world-eater lifted his head and looked at Inanna, and his eyes and mouth were full of a light so bright that Inanna had to shield her face. She let out a dry, ragged sob. Deep under the bloody,stained glass layers of her innumerable mortal lives was a vague, ancient guilt. A goddess’s guilt.
"You were always my child," she whispered.
A wave of withering exhaustion washed over her and she slumped to the featureless grey floor. Red’s people were draining them. Inanna reached for the deep well of divine power inside of herself, but there was only grey. Grey within, grey without. Inanna reached up in the air, her fingers curling, grasping at nothing and everything.
The world-eater watched his mother with unblinking eyes like white hot suns. Slowly, ponderously, he crossed the space between them and lay on his side beside her.
“I’ll remember you,” he whispered. “They can take and take but they’ll never empty me.”
"I'll eat them, mama. And I'll remember."
|# ? Mar 1, 2016 13:44|
results week 186: let me tell you about my more interesting friend
lol. why do i even try.
anyway, here are some results. sorry they are late. but not really. I HAD TO VOTE.
a lot of stories this week were bad. almost all were boring. But these ones were worse than bad: Meis and his laughable scifi worldbuilding adventure about a lesbian queen who kills some chick's kid/pet. After the War, who broke the rules about including scientists in an amazing and terrible way! Everybody else, well, I had to hold back Entenzahn (judge #2) from just DMing every single one of you. He was like a rabid dog and I could barely keep hold of that leash.
but one story was even worse than worse than bad. It was a story where we all got a lecture about how breakfast cereal is important to character, or something. Honestly, i have no idea. Benny Profane maybe you got sick or something? Maybe your loss will scare your fever away...
some stories were good. not really. but compared to the rest, they seemed not so bad. There was one about some soldiers in the jungle and one of them had to poop real bad and that made people die. If you entered this week, just let it sink in that THAT story was better than yours. Thranguy takes away the week's only HM.
After some contentious, hot, erotic judge fighting, we settled on this week's winner: Titus82. He made some judges feel things, and though not a perfect story by any means, it does leave you with the feeling that maybe things might get better, and sometimes, that's a feeling you just need to feel. especially after a week like this.
Titus, prompt us.
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 02:46|
well while titus comes up with a prompt, have some crits for week 186
The main sin this week was telling the less interesting character’s story. Like seriousy. If another character is doing all the actions, and making all the progress, consider switching your POV to them. SEVERAL of you wrote an appealing story, but your character was just kind of this boring lump watching somebody else do stuff better. The second biggest sin was NOT FINISHING YOUR GOD drat STORY. gently caress i don’t even know why this is still a think with some of you. I know it was 1000 words, but cut out all the bullshit in the middle. An ending can just be a few lines, but ending right before the climax is a god drat coward thing to do. grow a pair.
“are-- covered” there shouldn’t be a space after your em dash. Your story does something TDers are fond of, and that’s to have a character take a position, and then just straight up lecture another character on their position. I’m talking here about the big pharma wants people to be sick thing. Like, that’s not really a new or interesting position to hold, so hearing a character drone on about it is really boring. Also you lose an opportunity to actually do real characterization, because you’re just parroting some youtube comments. You devote a whole paragraph to this. Anyway, I think I’m supposed to sympathize with your main char because of my personal beliefs, but as a character I found her to be kind of repugnant. Sure she’s doing what SHE thinks is best, but she’s tricking somebody into giving them unsanctioned medication. Overall she’s pretty flat. I’m supposed to assume she does this because she’s a doctor, but this goes against doctorly trainings. Based on the title I think I’m supposed to conclude that she’s the good guy--the knight--slaying monsters, but i think she comes off as a presumptuous jerk. I don’t really think what she’s doing is courageous, and I don’t really know anything about her other than “doctor, sister.” I guessed the ending before it came (I feel like I’ve read a similar story somewhere). Overall I was a bit disappointed, because I usually like your characters.
prompt use: incorporates leeches as alternative medicine.
“‘Mark Rigle,’ he said.” I dunno if he’s introducing himself or greeting your protag. “Two men sat across” across from whom? each other? the protag? “something in his grin.” details create a richer story. It’s impossible to visualize “something” that I don’t know about, and pulls me from your story. Ugh. I thought these guys were jeff and jeffrey but now you’re saying they might be mark? the guy that you were just in the elevator with? I have no idea what is happening right now. Are you going back in time? OH, the main character’s name is jeffrey. wow, i’m either dense or you suck at dialogue. A little of both. The thing is, you introduce two characters and tell me NOTHING about them. You have them having a really banal conversation that consists of one character introducing himself, and then asking the other character what he prefers to go by. what part of your brain told you that made an interesting scene? You know why characters never go to the bathroom in most shows? because it’s routine and boring. There’s no point to showing it unless something interesting happens. Having people greet each other and ask what they like to be called is a really boring routine thing that you shouldn’t have shown. Furthermore, it actually created confusion because you didn’t actually bother to flesh it out or provide me any transition to the next scene. now you’re going on and on about “things” that don’t feel right, but I have no idea what they are so I am not really with your character on this. you haven’t described at all what is making him feel uneasy, and so instead of being along for the ride I’m thinking “just hurry up and poop out your dumb plot point so I can be finished with this.” Like you’re setting up some reveal and I can 100% guarantee you it’s not going to interest me, because right now who cares? You’re trying to create this sense of mystery by TELLING me that he is confused and losing memory.
Wow, what a complete and utter horse poo poo story. Some guy uses some other guy to make a sleep assassin, who can get away from things. This story lacks detail in every single way that matters. The characters aren’t well defined, the motivations are non-existent (i mean, who WOULDN’T want to kill some random governor, right?!). There’s no real setting or theme, it’s just people acting out this really contrived plot in a vacuum. Your story is so chock-full of non-committal vagaries that I think you didn’t have any idea what you were doing.
prompt use: elevator music as conditioning for ~reasons~
DM or Loss candidate
“"Well, they weren't really expecting us for another hour or so were they, my love?"” compare that to “They weren’t expecting us for an hour, my love.” Say more with less. Drop interjections. Drop useless adverbs. “so slow” if you’re going to be a writer, learn some interesting words. “she started to mutter” no, she muttered, there was no start. “that put her aback slightly.” this is a mess. “Lucette's heart sank. She had no idea what was going on.” head jumping.
lol this story is real bad. this definitely reads like babby’s first scifi story. It’s filled with terrible new people mistakes. There are so many here that it’s hard to summarize. But the worst mistake is your main character is some queen lady that doesn’t really...matter much. This story is more of the unity captain’s. It’s her son that dies, it’s her that comes to the strange ship. She takes all the risks and makes all the decisions, but you told the story though the eyes of this grithaador, or whatever her dumb scifi name was.
A lot of the action happens off screen. The hunt, the duel. These would normally be climaxes, but instead you just show two women talking. Neither of the women are that interesting, and the dialogue is not engaging enough to make it work. They mostly just say canned lines or cliches to move the plot along. Keep thunderdoming to fix this stuff.
prompt use: there is an armadillo randomly, but really it could have been anything and the story wouldn’t have changed.
“DJ had taken a job as a sous chef at some fancy steakhouse in Atlanta, and Seth had offered him a place to stay until he found something more permanent.” I feel like this could be shown through their interaction rather than this boring exposition. ““How you doin’, man?” “I’m okay.” zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. “some hellish catering service” lol what? that is a terrible simile. “He scanned the board for an open E -- to play “OLIVE,” or at least “LOVE”” i don’t like this. In fact, I don’t really like the in-depth scrabble thoughts. It’s not really necessary, and doesn’t do anything for the character. It more reeks of a self-insert--i’m guessing you like scrabble.
Anyway, I liked the middle of this story, but the edges are really rough. In the end, there wasn’t much point to this. A guy takes care of a snake, can’t sleep, and gets bit. In the end, so what? Passive, boring character.
prompt use: almost literal.
anime was right
“I punch in my passcode, the battery icon is red.” stop comma splicing so much. All of your sentences are short, simple, staccato. It’s grating on me. “everyone is quietly thanking me for doing the opposite of manspreading.” not as funny as you wanted it to be. “thick train” huh? “turn their cheeks” this is an odd synecdoche.
I don’t even mind that this is a story about a guy needing to pee, but that’s ALL it is. There’s nothing else to this guy. There’s nothing more than needing to pee. Then his problem is magically solved at the end? Like this is just a story of “guy needs a thing” and then he gets the thing. You could have written this story as “guy wants to find D batteries” and then he goes to the store and buys D batteries, because that would have been the same level of interesting.
prompt use: pee
Eh, interesting plot device, but failure to make the characters seem like anything more than stereotypes. In the end, the guy learns that God is cool with killing an abusive dad? Wtf is with the weird prologue? What did your protag learn from this? what does he feel? I never really to learn the conclusion/aftermath of this probably life-changing experience he has. He just kinda goes through it. Not entirely passive, as he decides to choke this dude, but the girl does the real heavy lifting. In the end, what was the point?
prompt use: god/hell
You have the makings of an interesting story, but the first 2/3rds is just recounting all the times that the dude had to poop and somebody died. Like, I understood it the first time you told me, I don’t really know why you retold the same thing time and time again. Then in the end, he’s killing dudes? I didn’t really understand how it all played out. This also suffers from being in past tense, and I never get to experience any action or be part of the story. It all feels far removed from anything, and thus loses most of its ability to draw me in.
prompt use: constipated soldiers
So you’re going with this one-sided dialogue thing… this never works out well, just fyi. “I don’t even think they sell Lucky Charms at Costco.” They do. They don’t sell cornflakes though. MY IMMERSION. lol wtf is this. I, like, want to give you props for trying something new, but this did NOT work in the slightest. This long rear end dumb speech in the middle is awkward and dumb, and makes me feel sorry for this kid I don’t even know. Did Ayn Rand write this? Meep.
prompt use: soggy cereal
“Mr. Lopez, my name is Agent Laswell and this is my partner, Agent Simon.”” what’s with stories and having boring rear end parts where people introduce themselves? You could write that much more interestingly.
anyway I have no idea what’s really going on in this story. It reads like a bad rip off of the departed or something. feels very pointless.
prompt use: ears?
“he had watched his own mother fail miserably.” show. I liked this story a lot up until he is in the vasectomy place. Then it kind of falls apart. It REALLY falls apart with the butt stuff line. “butt stuff” is a common, easy joke that doesn’t deserve a spot in an original story. While I get why you used it, it doesn’t work. I would scrap everything past that and really explore the relationship with his mother, his probably unearned sense that he’d be a good dad, and what he needs to do to overcome his problem.
Killer of Lawyers
“Shure?” don’t like “warren” use here. Stop loving qualifying things. look at this para:
He was a stocky business major, who followed Sita around for the most part. He wasn't offensive, or anything. He just sort of drifted her way. Part of the course was mingling with people outside of your degree field, after all.
when you write this way it makes you sound unsure of what you’re doing. These are bits of language we use for bullshitting and talking off the cuff. Don’t write like that, because it makes your story sound like a rough draft. It’s too casual.
He was a stocky business major who followed Sita around. He wasn't offensive, he just drifted her way, and part of the course was mingling with people outside of your degree field.
“brought her cell phone to bare” it’s “bring to bear” and it means to focus your attention on, so it doesn’t really work here. Don’t try to sound fancier just because you’re writing. “She gazed at its display.” she was reading an email, so “gaze” isn’t really the right word, as you make it sound like she’s appreciating the actual display, not the content on it. “on pseudopods” no, those are cellular. I don’t like that your char saw an email and is laughing and now you’re withholding it from me. I’m assuming that you’re going to be like “this is what she was laughing at the whole time” and it’s going to be stupid and not worth the wait. “up to the point that she kept getting” you can’t go up to a point of something that “keeps” happening. They’re mutually exclusive. She either laughed to the point where she got a dirty look, and stopped, or she kept laughing past the point where she got dirty looks.
Ok, so you made her looking at the email a pretty big part of the plot… wtf was the email? did somebody else email her telling that he was eating plant sperm? why was she the only one laughing? who sent the message?
In the end, who cares about this story? The main character here is not this chick, but the fat kid who eats plant splooge and makes millions. your protag is just some dumb harpy. If you wrote it from his perspective, perhaps this would have been entertaining.
Ending your first two sentences with the same word is awkward. “moved them into.” preposition ending. Judy’s dialogue is a bit over the top and hard to take seriously. I feel like you’re going just throwing in random facts about how the kid’s life sucks in ways that don’t help the story. His mom died. K. His dad can’t cook. K. What does that really have to do with the relationship between these two? Everything is basically just them talking and then Marty thinking about how his life is a total gently caress up. Constantly describing the kids’ faces is one step up from not just telling me they’re emoting. It’s really grating after a while. Think of some new ways to show emotion. Likewise, your characters just kind say exactly what they’re feeling. There’s no subtlety. “Everyone hates Judy.” there are a billion better ways to show this. “jeepney” oh hey look I learned something. Also I had no idea this was in the philippines. you could have used that setting more effectively. I don’t really get what you were going for with the whole dads theme.
prompt use: uh… yawning, sleep….narcolepsy? a bit of a stretch.
What a surprise, you set something up (actually two things) and then your story ends right before a climax. The kicker is you had me reading and enjoying the story, then HELLO I’M GRIZZLED PATRIARCH I’M SCARED TO END A STORY. Writing a compelling setup is easy, it’s the most fun part. Resolving everything in a fun, interesting, hopefully creative and new way is the hard part. I was genuinely interested to know how the egg thing and the girl crush were going to intertwine to bring about a satisfying resolution. I should have known better.
prompt use: eggs
a ballerina hair cutter, crashing the world of sheep shearing? you have my attention.
jesus, gently caress you. you and GP both. you both wrote interesting setups that had me being like “oh boy, maybe I’m reading a winner, finally,” only to have the story cut off right before the action starts. I know I only gave you 1000 words, so you needed to cut all the bullshit and get straight to the story.
prompt use: sheep
“He bolted out of bed as if it were weaved with snakes” Your similes are a little overwrought.
eh, this story is pretty boring. I dunno why it exists. It uses the literal prompt, but while stuff is happening I’m like “ok….” and i’m more distracted by your purple prose.
After the War
Your first few sentences are engaging, then the story really never progresses past that. You got a dead fish and you gotta deliver it. So then you sit around talking about this dead fish and how you gotta deliver it. Finally you deliver it, but whoops, wrong person! Paired with all the secret agent cliches, this wasn’t worth reading, and you should feel bad for writing it.
“The curl her tiny fingers.” I feel like you’re missing a word here. “He tries the door, but it's locked, so he does what he does best:” stick to 3rd limited. Oh hey, look at that, you wrote something good. gently caress you. Your writing still needs some work, and there are a few too many cliches in this, but it’s heartwarming and easy to read. Also it is a story with an ending.
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 05:01|
BEHOLD THUNDERLOSERS THE ASCENSION OF YOUR NEW PROMPT-GIVER!
That’s right, while the Thunderdome Cabal has tried to keep me down, having denied my rightful victory countless times, even going so far as to mar my record with a Dishonorable Mention, in the end they could not contain the indomitable spirit and uber writing prowess of Titus the 82nd.
Now has come the time… TO JUDGE!
Thunderdome Week 187: Lost In Translation
Words. There are so many of them, but did you know that there are words in other languages which do not have a direct translation? I know! It’s totes crazy, right? Check out some of these sweet words:
Istories me arkoudes (Greek)
Schadenfreude (Like you don’t know what this word means.)
So here is the prompt: Take one of words listed in this Huffington Post article and center a story around it. You do not have to use the word in the story, but the meaning of the word must be involved in the story. Bonus points (+150 words) if it's set in the culture that the word comes from.
Word Limit: 1200 Words
Signups will end at 11:59PM CENTRAL STANDARD TIME (best time) March 4th, 2016.
Submissions will end at 11:59PM CST March 6th, 2016.
Now BEG for mercy, PLEAD for forgiveness, and…WRITE TO THE DEATH!
Thanks to everybody for their help, for Ironic Twist for the Prompt, and all of you for reading!
Siddhartha Glutamate fucked around with this message at 05:53 on Mar 2, 2016
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 05:40|
In with Iktsuarpok (Inuit).
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 05:41|
Doh! I forgot some junk!
Word Limit: 1200 Words
Signups will end at 11:59 CENTRAL STANDARD TIME (best time) March 4th, 2016.
Submissions will end at 11:59 CST March 6th, 2016.
Edit: Also the same word can be used by more than one person.
Siddhartha Glutamate fucked around with this message at 05:48 on Mar 2, 2016
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 05:45|
in if titus gives me a word
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 06:09|
In with "tsundoku."
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 06:12|
In. Flash me.
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 06:16|
In with Wabi-Sabi.
And thanks for the crit!
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 06:21|
In with "tingo."
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 06:35|
In with a and "Aware".
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 06:48|
in if titus gives me a word
Culaccino (Italian) which means the stain left on a table from a cold glass of water.
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 06:52|
Flerp your word is: Culaccino (Italian) which means the stain left on a table from a cold glass of water.
Noah, do you want a word or a flash rule? If it is a word then your word is: Mangata (Swedish) The glimmering, road-like reflection that the moon creates on the water.
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 06:53|
ok yeah im going to post crits now
Ignobel Award Crits
Oh yeah one other thing, loving PROOFREAD YOU PIECES OF poo poo. Jesus christ, almost every story didn't proofread for some loving reason. I didn't call you out on your crits all the time but gently caress, make it seem like you put a little effort in your stories.
What Knights Do
Your characterization of Andrew felt like the most obvious strawman alternative medicine character. Your narrator was alright, and Cream was ok (besides for naming him Cream because of the prompt for whatever reason). Still, there’s something lacking in this, and I think it’s because you were like “I’m going to make a story about a doctor secretly vaccinating her nephew” but you didn’t take it a step further. That’s a good premise, but as a story as a whole? I think it can do more, since you can play into the brother and sister’s relationship, or the aunt/nephew relationship, and treat your antagonist as a human being rather than as a strawman. The prose isn’t awful. There’s some issues, like “it was pretty adorable” (telling). It’s just, I feel like you kind of settled with this. There’s more that can be done, that this story could actually be relatable, and if the brother acts like a real human being instead of a stereotype, you could use a subject matter and say more about life. You could make a statement on brother/sister relationships, what a father should do, how when people with two different goals with a child can affect that child, etc. etc. That could be interesting. Instead you gave me “Man, alternative medicine idiots are dumb, huh?” which, ehhh, doesn’t do enough. I feel that a lot of time you specifically trex play into stereotypes too much and when you avoid those stereotypes, your stories come out much better.
Wow, that’s a dull opening line. Man, people smiling warmly and a handshake. Man, oh man, I can’t wait to read this. Ok, so what’s the point of this first scene at all? Like, what information does this tell me that the title doesn’t already imply. You don’t advance plot, and character is a bit barebones for the interviewer (who don’t refer to by name at all yet). I don’t even get any insight into the narrator, who is probably supposed to be your protag.
Ok, so for the first half of this story, I was confused, then the reveal comes and I sigh because it’s so played out and boring and I have no connection to your protag that I don’t care. Is this bad? Yes, probably. The prose is workmanlike, but there’s nothing to latch onto here, nor anything really else. The character is weak, and the whole plot is basically “guy got conditioned to murder people” and that’s… it. Like, I said above, the premise is there and you can do something with it, but you don’t. One, you expend probably about 500 words on the set-up. I don’t really care about that set-up. Maybe if the set-up established character, then that’d be okay. Like this guy needs to get a job and he tries to get a job but it doesn’t work out, hey, that could be interesting if I cared about him. But I don’t. Or, you could start at the end that you’ve got and try to show your character resisiting. Basically, you told the most boring parts of your stories. Great work!
Chadwick-" Lucette started to say but he cut her off.
So, in the middle of the story, I had to reorient myself and get everything straight. Ok, so first of all, there’s two factions in some steampunk like world where there are airships. There’s Gildathere, who has a wife that says one thing then gets forgotten about. She’s part of the Valnorn Empire. Then, there’s Lucette, who’s part of the Unity. Valnorn are the bad asses, Unity are the bureaucrats, generic as poo poo. So, after getting my head straight around this, what is your story? People talk, some kind of alliance poo poo that I don’t care about because I don’t know the stakes, boring characters, then some kind of intrigue occurs. Oh, are they going to be betrayed? That might be interesting! Nope, it’s an armadillo, that issue is cleared nice and easy, then another conflict gets thrown in! Chadwick, who comes literally out of nowhere, is like yo im gonna fight you, then he dies. Apparently, that’s a good thing and it’s happily ever after. Except for Chadwick and the armadillo, who both died. Really, at the end of the day, your story was like 90% politics which is supremely boring with boring characters.
Lowish Middle, maybe DM
Hey, look at that, somebody took a premise and did something with it! Like, seriously, this is pretty ok overall. I don't like the ambiguity at the end, and that whole you gotta shook yourself to get the venom out makes like no sense unless I have the prompt in front of me. This just an extremely solid story, but I’m left feeling like there needs to be a bigger conclusion than just what you gave me. Your characters had some good stuff working together and things were happening and you took your premise of a talking snake and you did more with it rather 1000 words of “wow, that snake talks.” Good work. I think the improvement needs to come at the end. I feel that you forced in the prompt when the ending should be something different with more impact. It just lands flat, and if the ending landing, man, this could be something really good but yeah, that’s where this fails. I enjoyed this more than my other co-judges, so take that for what it is.
I Really Gotta Pee!
I mean, you did it. You had a conflict, kind of a character, he did things to get his goal, and it made me laugh a couple times. This wasn’t bad, there’s some good lines, some good prose, and it was, at the end of the day, moderately entertaining. I mean, we both know this isn’t going to be anything bigger than what it is. It reminds me a lot of the week i judged with the making GBS threads yourself story that I HMed, but idk, this didn’t seem as powerful? Like the prose is borderline good, but… idk. It’s not terrible, and better than almost all the rest so far. Like, it’s a solid story, but it doesn’t do anything else or try to do anything else, which is alright. Just, not going to get it any higher than what it is.
Thou Shall Not
Jesus, that was intense. Man, these last three stories have really stepped up the quality. I like how used the central gimmick as a constant influence on the character. He was forced to do these things, but it worked naturally and I believed it. It was cool. Your character was interesting placed in an interesting situation. I wish, a little bit, that the antagonist was a bit more nuanced and that the girl was more likable but ehh. Once again, this another story that takes a premise, but it expands on it, it tells a story with a premise rather than just a premise expanded over 1000 words. That beginning intro is p. bad though. Good prose too. Idk, overall, pretty strong. It works for the most part, but I wish there was a bit more nuance to these characters that made them feel more human and relatable. That’s what this story is missing.
No poo poo
drat guys, stop writing good stuff. Like, wow, things are working. This reminds me a little of The Things They Carried (nowhere near as good, though). It takes a premise, does more with it, blah blah blah, said this a million times already. The voice was strong, the prose was good, the story moved along really well, the pacing worked, overall, just a super solid story. There is something missing in it though. I think there needs to be a bit more connection with the rest of the character, rather than just giving us a role call in the middle of the story. Anyways, strong stuff. Yeah, the biggest issue is I think, once again, that the word count kept you limited so much that it became difficult to relate and care about your narrator. It feels half baked, unsure of where it’s trying to go and exactly what direction it wants to go.
High, Possible HM
Moisture-Drive Long rear end Title
Ok, dialogue story, with each line break being a response by someone else? Alright, let’s see if this works. Thanks for the lecture dad. This was boring trash that tried to be deep and interesting through a lovely metaphor of cereal. Christ, this was awful, I was falling asleep in the middle of this. That last paragraph had something but, gently caress, this was too boring for me to have mustered reading through it again to care. Like, seriously, if someone was reading this for something else, like, they wouldn’t get to the end because people don’t want to read this boring poo poo. When you go on and on about cereal, the reader asks, why? You can tell interesting stories, but this reminds me of that Timber story which I loving hated too because here’s your one sentence summary “dad lectures a kid about life through a strained metaphor of cereal.” Which, jesus christ, this was so loving boring. gently caress.
Low, DM, possible loss.
The Third Rule
I don’t think this story will ever work in 1000 words. There’s a lot of information that you need to convey for me to fully understand this story. The stakes and players are loosely defined. There’s the Department for Restoring American Dignity, but I don’t want that entails, or what they do, and why that matters. Conversely, there’s a Resistance (who is supposed to be the good guys because the government are bad), but once again, I don’t know who they are or why they are resisting. Similarly, your main character’s motivations are odd. He’s somehow related to the government, but that isn’t explained all the way. There’s something about him being like a famous tabloid dude there to distract people, but is that it? And then why did he join the resistance? and how does this government know he’s working for them? There’s a lot of information that’s not fully explained and as such your story lacks any interest in me since I’m just saying “Ok, alright?” This needs to be more than 1000 words. Middle
I… I… I just don’t know. I don’t like this. It feels very circular, repeating the whole “he touches his dick and then baseball facts” over and over again. It’s premise feels like a joke story, but the prose feels like it’s supposed to be serious, which I mean, I guess you could take this in a serious direction if you had the skill, but it doesn’t feel that way. I’m stuck between am I supposed to be like laughing or feeling bad for this guy, or what? The dialogue is pretty bad and boring, and I think the biggest thing is that, despite this story being about an OCD guy touching his dick all the time and thinking about baseball facts, this is still so boring. It’s just, so much talking and nothing really happening. He gets rejected like three times for whatever reason, like that doens’t even matter, and this just felt super aimlessly and directionless.
Low, DM, possible loss.
Shure? Shure????? jfc proofread.
This was just to get to your last line, huh? Anyways, I predicted this was you KoL, mostly because of your main character’s personality. The issue does come from your main character. Since you take her perspective, and she has a very detached and cold personality, the world presented to us feels cold and uninteresting. I felt why don’t we get the perspective from the guy? His view of the world seemed a hell of a lot more interesting and engaging than this girl’s. Also, what’s even the story here? I mean, what the hell does the protag even do? She just watched most of the time. She didn’t actually do anything whatsoever in all of this. All of the things that happen are because of somebody else. WHY IS SHE THE PROTAG?
The Miracle and the Sleeper
I’m just going to make a list of issues.
Good: I liked your characters
Some of the kid speak was cute
I love it when two loners get together and become buddies it makes me feel good inside
Bad: Some (a lot?) of your kid speak was obnoxious/very much like a writer is trying to emulate how kids speak
Lacking in action
A lot of jumps in times that feel awkward
Likewise, some of the blocking feels strange? like things just kind of occur.
Something about the girl’s dad just gets dropped
Why did the kid talk to her in the first place if he was so awkward?
So, even with all those problems that should, in theory, bring you down hard. But, the subject matter was strong, and it made me go :3, and I loved that. That’s probably my personal bias, but whatever.
Middle, but based on it’s weaknesses, I can still see this DMing.
There was a moment in this, near the middle, where I was enthralled. Something about it just felt amazing, and I was so into it. Basically, from “Last year he bought her a candygram..” to “...gummi peach rings” is just super strong. Unfortunately, the rest of the story doesn’t seem to be in service with it. Really, this story doesn’t feel like it’s in service of anything. The opening has the little brother (never named, I think), but then that’s dropped for a party, then there’s Olivia, but wait we’re back to the egg, and uhhhhhhhhh… what’s the point? It’s just too aimlessly, too scattered, to make me really engaged. I mean, the start is about two brothers (which btw im all for i love bro stories esp. one where they call each other shitheads), but then it was a party store then it was a getting high story then we loop back around to the beginning and…….. idk. It ended, predictably of course. “Oh man, he set up an egg that they had to take care of, I wonder if that would break.” Here’s the thing, though, that works if the story is focused on the brother relationship. The egg acts as the reason why the brothers have to get along, they learn a valuable lesson as they learn to work together, and the egg break but it’s w/e because grades are grades, but brothers are forever. Like, sure, that’s cliche as gently caress, but it works and it’s cute and it could work. Your story doesn’t do that. It muses on about something else then reaches back to it’s start for whatever reason.
Otara Millionhairs Club
Unfinished, mostly boring though and I didn’t really know what was going on, and I really don’t want to read through this again to figure out what the hell was going on. Yeah, this was boring, but like, idk, I didn’t hate it so I didn’t want to DM it.
Low, possible DM.
This had some moments, I’m not gonna lie. Like where the drunk mayor is singing in a tank, man that’s a good image. And then the mom climbing up the tank to take the mayor’s booze, that was cool too. But, overall, this once again felt like a premise rather than a story. Also, for some reason, you do that whole let me repeat this question but misunderstood that is just so ughhhhhh i hate that. Anyways, I feel like the story wasn’t sure what it wanted to do and that the narrator was just kind of dumb and boring. Like, idk, this wasn’t great, the protag felt stilted and uninteresting, and the whole conflict of “i have to stop my car from being destroyed” feels a bit disingenuous and uninteresting.
Boring as poo poo. Just like how Moisture bullshit title felt like a dad lecturing me, this felt like I was in lecture learning about salmons and gently caress man, lecture is so loving boring sometimes. Like, they just talk and talk and they go on, and they say things like “wow, isn’t this interesting” as if it is and maybe to somebody it is, but look im a loving college student i just want to enjoy myself, you feel me? don’t bore with salmon talk. also, there’s probably more to this story than salmon talk but I’m way too disinterested in this story to go any further depth into this because it is so loving dull that the thought of reading it again feels me with disinterest and I don’t want to go through that again, alright? all i remember was that the ending was horribly stupid and what the gently caress.
Low, possible DM
I liked this the most this week. It elicit an actual emotional response from me, which no other story was capable of doing. When that guy said the girl was a retard, like, I was legit super angry and pissed. In that regards, this story did something nothing else did and that was make me care enough to make me feel something. I wish the ending had built up to something bigger, since I’m left feeling like there was something you were trying to say at the end, but I’m not quite sure what it is. I liked the ending in its imagery, but it’s point, it’s purpose, it’s lacking. Still, most other stories had issues with endings, and you made me care and have feelings for your characters so gw. Maybe it’s a vignette, but you know what, I don’t loving care. I had emotions while reading this story and that’s something you were only capable of doing so in my opinion, this deserved the win. Ent can go eat poo.
High, HM, possible win
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 07:06|
|# ? Sep 23, 2023 17:54|
Big Stories that End Brawl: Sitting Here vs. Grizzled Patriarch
Before I start this, I have to say that sh had the clear advantage here. She's more experienced in writing longer form stuff as well as my personal bias lean more towards her then gp (as I'm generally one of the more critical people of gp's work). So, I just want to say that I thought both of these stories were very good. I think one edged out the other, but both of these stories worked well. Anyways, let me articulate some of my thoughts
First, the themes.
You took the big theme and ran away with it. Almost everything is big in this. Your main character is a goddess, the antagonist is a world-devouring monster, we travel through the galaxy, the whole scale of this epic and huge and expansive that you excelled in owning that aspect of the prompt. I also loved the moments where you made things small though, those little moments that bring us in. Like that opening scene was excellent in that it was so small and personal that when you jumped from the big stuff, I was still with you because you grounded me in that reality perfectly.
The endings theme worked well too. The whole world-eater stuff obviously works into the ending, but also the remembering after the end, and how her memory gets muddled, that it becomes hard to remember at the end. In that aspect, the ending theme works, but not quite as strong as the big.
But let's get to the ending, then. Now, I will say that ending image, how you wrapped everything up, with the mother and the world-eater, I loved that whole subversion. It worked perfectly and believably. I thought that was a great way to end it. But, that last part was the weakest part. Once we get introduced to Red and everything, I feel things get kind of glossed over and your hurrying to some kind of conclusion. It also felt like most of the tension kind of disappeared, since the world-eater was trapped so most of the stakes are kind of gone. There's this wrongness you keep pointing to, but I never actually feel it in the story. It's just said to be there, but it really isn't.
But overall, this story was still excellent. The goddess felt a little too human, like how she thought and acted felt weird when I'd think that a goddess could act kind of human, but I feel like a goddess wouldn't act completely human. Idk, it's a weird nitpick that's kind of hard to articulate, but it's still there. What I found particularly impressive was at the end of the first scene, when she uses her divine power, I don't think you ever refer to her as a goddess, but I guess with the knowledge she has it makes me kind of believe that she's a goddess. But still, in a moment where I think if someone else had written this I'd be confused when she used divine power out of nowhere, here I believed it almost certainly. Just in the way she acted and how she treated the kids and what she knew, it just made it perfect sense. That's something I thought was super surprising.
I'm not sure about this completely. I like this, since your natural knack for descriptions definitely makes this story an easy read with some good moments, but as a cohesive whole, it's lacking.
I don't quite see where you worked with the big theme. Maybe the idea is kind of big, but idk, compared to sh's, it feels lacking in that regard. I'm not going to be a huge stickler and be like -10 points for not using my theme, but it's a bit disappointing esp. after how well sh did it.
Though the ending theme is clearly present. Lover dies, there's an ending. Oh, and people don't die or be like weird ghost things, that's a thing about endings too. It works, it's there, it's cool, I like it.
The biggest issue I have with this so it feels like a bunch of scattered ideas that don't fit all the way together. I had this really strange feelings when reading this like the main character just kind of accepts things really fast. "Oh, I guess I'm dead and a coyote ate my finger." Like, idk, I'd expect there to be more panic or disbelief or some different emotion rather than just a kind of blank description. Then ghosts show up and he starts talking to them like super nonchalantly. "Oh hey there ghost of one of my classmates, how's it hanging?" Like, I don't know, like I'm not sure if this is a well-established thing in this world, like you come back to life or something, but even then, I feel there would be more emotion in these moments even if this was expected.
Plot points also seemed to be added and dropped for not a lot of reason. Like, the main plot was to bring her ashes to the village, but then he gets to the village and... uh, huh, ummmm, oh, oh, I know, ghosts. And they gamble their memories. It just feels a bit shoehorned in, some way to extend the plot further. It's a neat idea, but I think it needs to be more linked into the main objective of the main character. Like, he has to gamble his memories in order to get to where he needs to throw the ashes or something. The ashes stuff doesn't really come to anything, huh?
Anyways, I have criticisms, which I think mostly come from your inexperience with writing longer form stuff and it feels a bit mean to be gushing all over sh and then get to yours and be like "oh man you did this and that and blah blah blah" but hopefully there's some useful stuff in here. Like I said, I don't think this is bad, it's actually quite good. There's well realized and interesting ideas with some great writing and a cool character, and with some work, and not a whole lot of work, I think this could shine. I feel that if you keep working on this longer stuff and putting in work to bring together your plot points, your ideas will start to gel with me more. Since most of the time I love your ideas, it's just that they get a little scattered. Everything in your story, especially in something this short, should be building up to something, and it feels that sometimes, each thing is building up to two different ideas and that doesn't work.
So yeah, if you read both crits this is kind of obvious, but whatever, these were both good and better than the other stories this week you jackasses. Sitting Here wins . GP, keep at it with this stuff though, 'cause I think you can (and you do) do great work.
Please commence with calling me biased and stupid (both true).
|# ? Mar 2, 2016 07:39|