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  • Locked thread
Ceighk
May 27, 2013


t h u n d e r d o m e
We can talk about it
Or we could get gully, I'll size up your body
And put some white chalk around it


IN with 'Ghost crabs have been moved from the crypt to the swamp'

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FreudianSlippers
Apr 12, 2010

Shooting and Fucking
are the same thing!



In.

Glitch me.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





FreudianSlippers posted:

In.

Glitch me.

Crops planted/tended by mad cultists will occasionally be Evil

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






:siren: recaps! :siren:

Hello goons. I have another batch of recaps for you! Two whole episodes, in fact.

Here's the recap for weeks 171 and 172 and here are the Archive links if you'd like to follow along.

We cover the DMs and losers from both weeks, talk a bit about chronology in fiction, and ponder seal vandalism. The episode wraps up with a reading of ZeBourgeoisie's I Can't Believe it's Mort! Which is worth a listen if only for Ironic Twist's butter voice.

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE

Recap for week 173

Archive link

The recap crew's own Kaishai was bossjudge for week 173, so we discussed her hopes and disappointments in pilgrim week. We take a detailed look at the DMs and loser, and the episode finishes with a really fun reading of C7ty1's Dormant Faith

Thanks again any/everyone who listens. These recaps are pretty much an amateur labor of love, but it's been and continues to be really fun to talk about your guys every week.

More fun:

pre:
Episode								Recappers

Week 156:  LET'S GET hosed UP ON LOVE				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Djeser
Week 157:  BOW BEFORE THE BUZZSAW OF PROGRESS			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 158:  LIKE NO ONE EVER WAS					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Djeser
Week 159:  SINNERS ORGY						Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 160:  Spin the wheel!					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 161:  Negative Exponents					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 36:  Polishing Turds -- A retrospective special!		Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, Kaishai, and The Saddest Rhino
Week 162:  The best of the worst and the worst of the best	Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, Kaishai, and The Saddest Rhino
Week 163:  YOUR STUPID poo poo BELONGS IN A MUSEUM			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 164:  I Shouldn't Have Eaten That Souvlaki			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and Kaishai
Week 165:  Back to School					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 166:  Comings and Goings					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 167:  Black Sunshine					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 168:  She Stole My Wallet and My Heart			Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 169:  Thunderdome o' Bedlam				Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai
Week 170:  Cities & Kaiju					Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, Djeser, and Kaishai

(Eternal thank you to Kaishai for doing this)

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 02:49 on Jan 7, 2016

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010




In with "Wizards will now hear the pitter patter of their little feet"

Sixto Lezcano
Jul 11, 2007



In. Glitch it to me, baby.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Sixto Lezcano posted:

In. Glitch it to me, baby.

There is no warning when hitting floating eyes.

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo


In, assign me a bug.

I would be grateful if it's not accounting software related.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





newtestleper posted:

In, assign me a bug.

I would be grateful if it's not accounting software related.

Stopped zombies from interrupting your sleep to ask if they can help you with something

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


In with “Fix walkable area in subway so Dropsy can't walk beyond the darkness.”

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


I'm in! I'll take a glitch.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





Bleusman posted:

I'm in! I'll take a glitch.

Now all giants, no matter how awkward, count for something.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






Jeza posted:

In with “Fix walkable area in subway so Dropsy can't walk beyond the darkness.”

:swoon:

Mercedes
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

And so Black Jesus turned water into a bucket of chicken. And He saw that it was good.






Jeza posted:

In with “Fix walkable area in subway so Dropsy can't walk beyond the darkness.”

Well call me a racial slur and hand me a noose, never thought I'd see this magnificent bastard again.

Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


This desiccated corpse thirsts for newbie blood

Masonity
Dec 31, 2007

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


Okay, picked my pick.

Rain kills everything it lands on

edited my original entry with it too. Not sure which was the right thing to do so I just went and did both.

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


الخوف و الحمقى ! وسوف تساعد قاضيا من هذا الرعد قبة

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





:siren: 2 hours left to sign up and subject me to the untold horrors of reading 30+ stories this weekend. :siren:

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


السنة هي 1985.
إنجلترا، شروبشاير، روك، صبيين بعمر ثمانية عشر سنة يدخلون مخبأ الجوفاء. الطحلب تغطية "لا تدخل" علامة فوق المدخل هو لا يكاد يقرأ، لم يلبس تلتهم الوقت أيضا. أنهم يتجاهلون ذلك. كان القبو ملجأ أولمرت الكمال بالنسبة لهم. لجيمس وريتشارد كان المثل الأعلى، وهذا يعني المكان الوحيد حيث أنها يمكن أن تكون نفسها.
روك، تشتهر سيصدره الآثار الرومانية القديمة وقليل آخر كان لا يكاد أحد معاقل التسامح. قرية صغيرة هادئة مع شخ أسواق العمل السيئة نادرا ما هم. اثنين من الصبية الصغار في الحب لا يمكن أن تكون مفتوحة عن رغباتهم في مثل هذا المكان من دون مخاطر. العزيزة طويل القامة، والعضلات والرياضي جيمس وريتشارد الاهتمام الذي حصلت عليه من الفتيات المحلية.
ولكن بواب المدرسة مع نظيره المحتاجة العيون الزرقاء وهزيلة الوجه أيضا عن تقديره مظهرهم. الانتباه عن مثلي الجنس يعرف مثله أنها يمكن أن تحمل سوء. وباختصار يمكن أن تكون الأمور أفضل بالنسبة لهم. الحمد لله أنهم كانوا يعرفون أنهم دائما كان بعضنا البعض والقبو الجوفاء. فإنه سيتعين عليها أن تفعل حين تخرجهم.
كان الربيع في انفجار لذة الجماع الكامل عندما زار ملجأ للمرة الأخيرة. ازدهرت الطبيعة، كان الأخضر، رطبة ومليئة أغنية الطيور. وكان التلال الخضراء شرق روك في افيريواي تنهد الجنة، وليس بما في ذلك إبرة التخلص منها غريبة أو فارغة البيرة يمكن. بدت حتى السماء السحرية، تتخللها السحب منتفخ بيضاء ويلبس لون قيصر. لحسن الحظ تم حجب المخبأ خلف الأشجار ولم تخل محيا رومانسية.
داخل القبو جيمس دفعت ريتشارد بلطف بعيدا لا، ليس بعد، العمل قبل المتعة يتذكر؟ ولا حتى قليلا قبلة؟ --- حسنا، ربما فقط على ... والقبلات، أنها كانت سريعة، وكان الحلو.
- الآن لهذه المهمة في متناول اليد، وقال جيمس وابتعد. الكذب رأسا على عقب في غرفة اسمنتية متفرق والدراجة من ريتشارد. انها تفتقر إلى العجلات الأمامية، قد القديم حصلت مارس الجنس حتى بعد سقوط سيئة خصوصا،. لشراء عجلة جديدة من المحتمل أن يكون أفضل، ولكن كان لا ريتشارد أو جيمس الكثير من المال لتجنيب. ومحتقر ريتشارد لقضاء بليغ بواب المدرسة صغيرة تدفع له "تفضل" الا للضرورة القصوى. بدلا من ذلك ان اثنين من الأولاد تمكن تدريجيا إلى حشده حافة كريمة وأنها تناسب مع المتحدث. الاطارات سرقوا ببساطة قبالة الدراجة عمال النظافة، مقابل له جدا العينين. ما الذي كان من المفترض القيام به، انتقل إلى الشرطة؟ كانوا يأملون أن تفعل كما عجلة جديدة.
بعد الكثير من شتم التعرق ومسرعا نحو داخل القبو جعلوا أخيرا عجلة تناسب إطار الدراجة. بدا الأمر آمنا على أية حال.
- يبدو بخير. أريد أن إعطائها الذهاب ريتشارد؟
- أنت تعرف ماذا أريد، الكالينجيون.
- ميت خطيرة، ركوب أسفل المنحدر لنرى كيف يعالج. ونحن قد تحتاج إلى إجراء بعض التعديلات.
ريتشارد التقط الدراجة وابتسم. - نعم نعم سمعت لك، إذا ما يجعلك سعيدا.
من أنا أريد فقط أن تكون آمنة باستخدام تلك العجلة. ريتشارد مشى خارج وجلس على الدراجة. -أنا أعلم أنك تفعل.
ريتشارد بدأت تتدحرج التل التل، في ميد بدأت الدراجة لزعزعة ونصفق. عندما اقترب أول منعطف في الطريق العجلة الأمامية لمست حفرة في الطريق صغيرة، في آن واحد انهارت عجلة الداخل والمفاصل عقد جاءت حافة معا بصرف النظر بعنف. والنائية ريتشارد دراجته وسقط خارج الطريق، حيث تراجع أسرع من أي وقت مضى إلى أسفل المنحدر. تشغيل بأسرع ما يستطيع وجدت جيمس حبيبته مستلقيا على سفح التل. جسمه ما زالت تماما على الرغم من نزيف كبير من فخذه مزورة حيث قطعة من العظام يبرز من لحمه. كما جيمس حصل أقرب اللعنة الرهيب يمتلك له. انه بالكاد يستطيع الوقوف عندما وصل أخيرا ريتشارد. كان الدم الأحمر الداكن مروع يثير الاشمئزاز، أنه تم تزويرها أسفل نمت بعض. مشى متثاقلا كأنه رجل في حالة سكر حاول جيمس الابتعاد لكن سرعان ما سقطت إلى أسفل. جعل الدم له بالدوار، جعلته يشعر وكأنه كان الغرق، جعلته قبضته على التنفس. الدم في المفكره الدم ..
جيمس فقد وعيه. عندما جاء إلى السماء كان أغمق قليلا والهواء في برودة قليلا. عشيقته وضعت في نفس المكان كما كان من قبل، الأرض الآن كاذب الثور رايات مع اللون الأحمر الداكن وريتشارد نفسه شاحب غريبة. مثل ورقة أو الثلج أو شيء من هذا.
بين الحصول على ما يصل ريتشارد الرجاء، لدينا للحصول على الدراجة الخاصة بك ثابتة. هيا ميت، الحصول على ما يصل.
ريتشارد، من فضلك، عليك ان تحصل على أعلى!
بعد عدة أسابيع بعد ريتشارد كانت قد دفنت في كنيسة سانت أندروز وجد جيمس نفسه خارج المخيمات عربة الصفراء. واقفا في الباب في مجرفة له ومع الجعة في يده وبواب المدرسة. مع ابتسامة قال ببساطة، لذلك سيصدره فقط لي ولكم الآن في ذلك، وتأتي للعمل يكون لك؟
- دفعتني ضعف ما قدمتموه ريتشارد واستخدام الواقي الذكري سخيف والثاني وأنا سوف تفعل ما تريد.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






You've done a glorious thing


SurreptitiousMuffin posted:


The year is 1985.
England, Shropshire, Rock, boys eighteen years old entering the hollow cache. Moss cover "do not enter" sign above the entrance is hardly read, eat up the time did not wear well. They ignore it. Olmert basement shelter was perfect for them. James and Richard was the ideal, and that means the only place where they can be themselves.
Rock, famous for its ancient Romanian `s effects and little else was hardly a stronghold of tolerance. Quiet little village with a piss poor job markets rarely are. Two young boys in love can not be open about their desires in such a place without risk. Dear tall, muscular and athletic, James and Richard attention that I got from the local girls.
But school janitor needy with his blue eyes and gaunt face also appreciated their appearance. Attention from gay like him knows they can ill afford. In short, things can be better for them. Thank God they knew they always had each other and the cellar hollow. He would have to do when they graduate.
Spring was in full blast thrill intercourse when he visited a shelter for the last time. Flourished nature, the green, moist and full of song birds. The green hills east of Rock in everyway sigh paradise, not including needle disposal strange or empty beer can. It seemed so magical sky, dotted with puffy white clouds and wearing the color of Caesar. Fortunately it withheld the bunker behind trees and did not prejudice the romantic visage.
Inside the cellar James Richard gently pushed away No, not yet, work before pleasure remember? Not even a little kiss? --- Well, maybe just on ... and kisses, he was quick, and it was sweet.
- Now to the task at hand, she said James pulled away. Lying upside down in a concrete room sparse and bike from Richard. It lacks to the front wheels, it has the old hosed got so bad, especially after the fall ,. To buy a new wheel is likely to be the best, but it was not Richard James or a lot of money to spare. And despised Richard to spend a small school janitor eloquent pay him "favors" unless absolutely necessary. Instead, the two boys gradually managed to cobble together a decent edge and fit it with the speaker. Simply stole the tires off the bike cleaners, in exchange for his very eyes. What was he supposed to do, go to the police? They had hoped to do as a new wheel.
After a lot of cursing and sweating inside rushed toward the cellar finally made the wheel fit the bike frame. It looked safe anyway.
- It seems fine. I want to give it a go, Richard?
- You know what I want, hehe.
- Dead serious, ride down the slope to see how it handles. We may need to make some adjustments.
Richard picked up the bike and smiled. - Yes Yes I heard you, if what makes you happy.
From I just want to be safe with that wheel. Richard walked outside and sat on the bike. -I Know you do.
Richard began to roll down the hill of the hill, in the mid bike began to shake and rumble. When he approached the first bend in the road front wheel touched the hole in a small way, in the same wheel collapsed and the inside edge of the joints held together came apart violently. And remote Richard his bike and fell off the road, where the fastest ever fell down the slope. Run as fast as you can find James sweetheart lying at the foot of the hill. His body is still completely in spite of a large forged bleeding from his thigh where a piece of bone protruding from his flesh. As soon as James got his own terrible curse. He could barely stand when Richard finally arrived. Red blood was dark horrible disgusting, it was rigged down some grown. Shamble like a man drunk James tried to get away but quickly fell to the bottom. Make the blood dizzy him, made him feel like he was drowning, his grip on him breathe. Blood in the blood notebook ..
James lost consciousness. When he came to the sky was a little bit darker and cooler air in. His mistress and placed in the same place as before, the land now lying bull draped with dark red color and Richard same pale strange. Such as paper or snow or something.
Between getting up Richard, please, we have to get on your bike fixed. Let's dead, get up.
Richard, please, you have to get on top!
After several weeks after Richard had been buried in the church of St. Andrews, James found himself outside the camps yellow cart. Standing in the door in his shovel and with a beer in his hand and the school janitor. Simply he said, with a smile, so it`s just you and me now in this, and come to work have you?
- Pay me what you have given the weakness of Richard and the use of condoms silly, second and I'll do what you want.

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Come fight terrifying creatures in the THUNDERDOME!


Thunderdome 2016teen: Blood in the Blood Notebook

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo


Drop that on leaflets into ISIS controlled Syria and watch them commit suicide in drives.

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





:siren: Sign-ups are closed! :siren:

If anyone else wants to judge, let me know here, or on IRC, or via PM.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.


rydiafan
Mar 17, 2009

EEEEEENT
OOOOORT
EEEEEENT
OOOOORT




Grizzled Patriarch posted:

Stopped zombies from interrupting your sleep to ask if they can help you with something

This could arguably be accounting software related.

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010




rydiafan posted:

This could arguably be accounting software related.

Or Unix process management.

klapman
Aug 27, 2012

this char is good


The Fetal Fastness (1197 Words) The Prompt: "Fort gets sieged by invisible friendly elf/human babies"

The deathbells rang again, announcing the elven assault. Another night spent in desperate defense, our battered bodies propped up by will alone. We tottered to our stations even as the screaming began.

We were very used to the cries of men by then, and it wasn't those that turned our heads. In one instant, the sounds of distant death were drowned out by those of a nursery. To us, men that had become capable of nothing more than murder, the sound was as startling as nails on a chalkboard.

The wailing grew closer, louder. The freezing night drew in around us. And then, a curious warmth. Something was grabbing my arm; I couldn't see it, but I heard it crying. Like my boy after a bad dream.

More warmth, this time on my other arm. My legs, then crawling to my neck; I was pinned to the floor by sheer squirming weight. I could feel them crawling all over me, their shrieks turned to soft cooing. My eyes saw nothing of them.

Even the elves were on the ground, their expressions of confused amazement a perfect mirror of ours. One of my men had gotten a grip on his blade, and I saw he meant to swing-! “No! They're babies!” My voice hardly felt like my own. Panicked and highly pitched, like the decades of bloodshed were nothing more than clever lies.

He turned his head towards me. I could see the shock in his eyes. He dropped his sword. From further down the hall came the trilling voice of a noble-born elf. “Is this a trick of your strategists, manscum?”

“Right mate, invisible babies, you fuckin' caught us!” Stuart, one of my more able lieutenants called out. His voice was muffled, accompanied by a delighted gurgle. The room was filled with mutterings, no one voice alike. Some were gruff, others terrified; a few of the older soldiers were grinning.

My grip was already weak, and when little fingers pried my sword away I could hardly muster any resistance. I was only the first. Soon, the sound of falling steel was heard throughout the hall, and the swords began to file away in a neat line, propped up by some invisible force.

Once our weapons had disappeared from sight, the invisible infants released us. I got to my feet uneasily, each movement slow and exaggerated so I wouldn't stomp a baby. Even after every man and elf stood up, we just stared at eachother uneasily. The fighting would be down to bare knuckle blows and choking, and each fist could easily hit a baby rather than an elf.

It was awkward, really. Our boiling blood went tepid, and all we could do was stand there sheepishly. The bodies of our comrades began to float away, just as orderly as our blades. They bobbed towards the courtyard, and again we only watched.

Rags and buckets took their place, swaying towards the bloodstains and rubbing them out like a sorcerer's cleaning crew. It was all over in just a few minutes. The cleaners left in something like a jaunty dance, leaving only one single stick floating in the middle of the hall.

It bounced around a while, like a conductor's baton. It came towards us, passed by, and turned right; same as the bodies. The gurgling of the babes had faded into the distance. I took one quiet step forward, and another. My men fell in with me, and the light footfalls of the elves were close behind.

We came to the courtyard, which was newly filled with bodies. Shining snow fell from the sky. Someone screamed. I screamed. We all screamed. The moon was so bright, it let us see ourselves staring into the distance with glassy eyes and ruined faces. Our bodies laid in a heap upon a pyre, all of us, dead.

Of course we knew. We'd learned and forgotten it so many times, because knowing didn't change a thing. It didn't stop us from killing eachother again and again. It had already happened, and all the screaming in the world gave us nothing but sore throats. There is a world of difference between knowing something is true, and having that truth thrown at your feet.

A torch waddled towards the pyre. The infants giggled again. I remembered my son; all those nightmares of his, the stories I'd read to him after he woke screaming in the dark. Like a hot drink on a cold night, burning down my chest. I saw his tear-soaked face, as real as it was the day I left for our doomed fort. I watched him as he heard the news, his expression turned from joy to dull shock in a heartbeat.

It felt like forever. I watched him go through childhood like a beaten mutt, moving only when pulled, cared for by few. Years passed. On one quiet night, he was reading some book. He smiled. It was weak and gone in an instant, but his defenses had finally cracked. My guilt lightened, if only by an ounce.

He learned to forget. Not to drown his worries in idle fancies, but to turn his grief into something greater. In most ways, he forgot me. But when the nightmares came and he woke up in sweat and fear, he'd reach for the book by his bedside.

Even in his tent on the battlefield, weary with the burden of high command, there'd be some thick tome next to him while he slept. In his dreams, he would see every man he'd sent to die, every corpse he'd left in his wake; new spectres to replace the old. He'd wake with a grunt, light his lamp, and dispel his wraiths with a story.

And when his beard was all salt and pepper and his grandchildren played in the fields of the farm, his nightmares woke him still. And when they did, he would urge his old bones out of bed, grab his old storybook, and quietly gather the children. The story wasn't good; it was all we had when he was a boy, that's all. But when he told it, every uninspired character would burst into life, and every flimsy bit of background became a fantastic vista.

I'd never told the story so well in my entire life. But when it was finished, his grandkids looking up at him with lights in their eyes, he'd tell them to thank me. He'd tell them that they didn't need to fear the dark, because I'd keep them safe. And those kids did what he said. They'd thank great-grandpa Thomas, and go giggling to their beds, and sleep in peace.

I watched him die. Surrounded by his loved ones, he finally found some true happiness in his final moments. I wept on my knees, head buried in my hands. The heat from the pyre grew and grew. A hand upon my head, the babies no longer giggling. I looked up. “Thank you, Dad.” No tears upon his face. All of us, man and elf, surrounded by those we left behind, the ones we couldn't bear to remember. Sent off with a wave and a smile. “Goodbye.”

Amused Frog
Sep 8, 2006
Waah no fair my thread!

Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers (1318 words)

Death's skull lay on a table backstage, facing the ceiling. A smouldering cigarette was balanced on the edge of an eye socket and a thick layer of ash had piled up inside.

#

Three-hundred-and-seventy-two years earlier, on what should have been a routine night, Death walked into a crappy backstage green room. Peeling paint, a sofa with its insides spilling over the floor and, in the corner, a lead singer drowning in a puddle of vomit.

Death walked forward. The cigarette smoke moved around his robe, forming the faces of young, old, black, white, men, women, anybody who'd breathed their last. He stretched out his right arm and his scythe appeared, gripped between his skeletal fingers.

He swept it in a practised arc towards the singer's heart. The blade reflected the fluorescent lights, the side table crammed with empty bottles, the angry face of the drummer who'd just walked in.

"Get the gently caress away from Alfie, you son of a bitch!" roared the thick-armed man, throwing himself across the room. He twisted as he charged, brought his shoulder up, slammed into Death below the ribs. Death collapsed exactly as you'd expect a robe filled with bones to. His scythe fell sideways, clattered against the wall, vanished.

#

That first night, Death hadn't known the name of the band. Nothing but the harvest mattered. Now, lying dismembered on a table, the smell of cigarettes soaking into his skull, the name 'Destiny Beggars' felt etched inside him. They'd changed the name fifty or sixty times since, but that's what they'd been when they captured him. He still didn't know how they'd done it. The full moon maybe. Something special about the drummer perhaps. Similar things had happened before but they ended in a game of chess or riddles, not physical assault.

#

"Skinny guy, isn't he?" said the bassist.

"How's Alfie doing?" asked the drummer, tearing another band t-shirt into strips and continuing to tie up Death's arms and legs in ever thicker knots.

"Gonna be fine. Miraculous recovery, doctor said."

"And what do we do with this guy?"

"Keep him around and let Alfie decide. Alfie's the one who nearly got hosed up by the freak."

"I reckon he's Death. The Grim Reaper himself," said the lead guitarist.

"Of course he's loving Death," spat the bassist, taking the cigarette from between his lips, "skeleton in black robes with a scythe? Obviously the grim reaper. Have to be stupid not to recognise him. But he's ours now so what the gently caress is he going to do about it?" and he flicked the cigarette, the first of many, into Death's eye socket.

While Alfie recovered, the band kept Death tied up in their van and the waiting souls piled up. People got sick or hurt, but they always recovered. Always. There was nobody there to shepherd them away. They just kept going. When Alfie came back, he was pissed. He said there was "no loving way" they were letting him go. "Think about it," he said, "we're loving heroes. We've stopped Death."

They started parading him around at gigs. People thought it was a commentary on recent events, the new era of invincible humanity. The band knew better.

They knocked his head off once but found it reattached itself if they held it close to the body. They began commandeering different body parts for jokes, stage props, ashtrays, whatever they felt like. Each bone reattached itself even if it had to jump across the room to do so. Death thought he'd reached his lowest one night as his skull swung in circles on the drummer's penis, but the band found ways to make things worse.

The years passed, turned to decades, turned to centuries. Nobody died and the band kept touring, never making it big but always getting by. Every time they had new t-shirts made they'd rebind him in one.

The world around them became stranger without Death. He could see it when they held him up on stage. Marks of disease, starvation and injury were more common on the faces in the crowd. The band suffered too, spending days coughing, hacking, vomitting, close to dying but never making it, recovering for a few weeks and then being hit by the next affliction. Still they kept him bound, changing the t-shirts, parading him.

#

The cigarette in his eye socket continued to smoulder. Death stared at it. He had no choice. A thin column of smoke drifted toward the ceiling and the ash fell into Death's skull. The rest of the cigarette, free of its dead weight, rolled backwards, bounced off Death's cheekbone and landed in a bin by the table. The bin, filled with cigarette butts and fast food wrappers, began to smoke. The first flickers of flame began on a crumpled Subway bag.

"What the gently caress is this?" muttered Alfie, walking out of the performers' toilet. He poured his beer into the bin, extinguishing it. "That better not have been you, you little prick," he said to the head of Death, staring into its empty sockets. Death stared back at Alfie. He'd taken Death's body and tied it over a black jumpsuit. Alfie thought it looked amazing. A living skeleton, a halloween costume made of real bones. Alfie was wrong.

"This is going to be our big night," Alfie continued, wagging his finger at Death, "we're going to make it huge after this, I can tell. Get a tour bus instead of our lovely van. Maybe strap you to the front of it, yeah?" Alfie said this before almost every gig, "and tonight we've got the tools to make it happen."

Death didn't know what that meant. He contemplated it as Alfie picked up him up, emptied the ash into the bin, looped the final strip of t-shirt through his eye sockets to tie him on top of his head. Alfie paused in front of the mirror before heading out. Death stared down at his bones.

The band had begun playing before Alfie walked out, arms raised to greet an adoring fanbase. There was no reaction. The poorly-lit faces of the crowd swung before Death's eyes as Alfie rolled his head back and forth and side to side, screaming into a microphone. It had been three-hundred-and-seventy-two years and the set was almost unchanged until the fourth song: Alfie's favourite.

From the front of the stage four pillars of white sparks bloomed, throwing light across the crowd and band. Alfie continued as the pyrotechnics blasted. The far left pillar began sputtering. "Cheap pieces of poo poo," Death heard the guitarist yell over the noise.

Alfie loved it. He wasn't going to let a dodgy firework ruin the performance. He went right to the front of the stage, stamping to the beat, and of course he stamped hard enough to dislodge one of the pyrotechnics. Of course he did.

Death watched as he and Alfie were engulfed, as Alfie fell backwards, as sparks ignited the cheap polyester t-shirt strips. His bones fell to the ground around Alfie. The bindings were gone. The bones were all there, all within reach. He pulled himself together.

And he stood up.

The curtain at the back of the stage went up in flames as the sparks continued to fly. The drummer screamed and knocked aside his kit. He charged at Death. Death's hand swung in a smooth arc. His scythe appeared between his skeletal fingers.

The bassist watched the drummer fall to the ground. There was no blood, no scream, just a lifeless body dropping to the floor. The skeleton disappeared.

Nobody else was rushing at him. The audience were screaming and jamming the exits. The flames were spreading across the wall. Death picked up a fallen piece of the black curtain, smoking at the edges, and wrapped it around himself. He had a lot of catching up to do.

CaligulaKangaroo
Jul 25, 2012

MAY YOUR HALLOWEEN BE AS STUPID AS MY LIFE IS


The Ablution Feast (1,318 words)
Prompt: “Colonists will occasionally turn into fishpeople and run into the sea“


1623

Emily Cooper lingers by the brick oven for a moment, warming herself by it this fall day. She had hoped the new world would be warmer than Sussex, but the Massachusetts colony falls were as unforgiving as the English winters. But the fires warming her roast compensate nicely for the harsh weather. She carries a tray of corn to the dinning room, placing it by her child sitting at the head of the table. The traditional place of honor in these feasts. Thankfully away from inconsiderate peers. Her stomach knots as she passes the cabinet holding her husbands rifles as she wonders which he’ll use tomorrow.

“Philip,” she asks the boy, “How are you feeling?”

Philip barely hears her under his head bindings. The boy sits alone, his only communication an occasional whimper and wince. Emily and her husband wrapped his entire body in whatever cloth they could find. Blankets. Coats. Towels were tied around this head and mouth when his face began to contort.

A subdued rumble of distractionary prattle fills the room as guests wait to be seated, the volume only spiking when another child become too unruly. Reverend Fletcher stands against the wall, noting every attendee. A constant scowl across his face. The minister was not a jovial man, but Emily couldn’t remember if he had been this cold at every ablution. The room noise drowns out Philip’s muffled moans, but Emily hears them as she places the dish.

“Philip?” she asks again.

The moist eyes of a frightened child glow yellow as Philip looks up at his mother. He turns away, letting out another strained moan. Emily gently places a hand on his shoulder as he curls over. The growths on his spine again. They’ll stop hurting when the rest of the back scales over.

The change happened slowly at first. Rough patches of mildly discolored skin. Often times mistaken as scabs or bruises, even with their greenish hue. When his hair began thinning, Emily began fearing the worst. The slits appeared on his neck shortly after. Three down both sides. When those appeared, the changes became rapid. His teeth sharpening. His bones stretching. Every telltale sign of the curse. As far as anyone in the bay colony was aware, Philip was the youngest person to be afflicted.

“Emily,” a voice shouts from the back. “Can you open the door please?”

“Coming, Barnabas,” she replies, recognizing the voice of her husband.

She opens the door as Barnabas Cooper carries in a box of clanking bottles he picked up from the brewers that afternoon. “I wasn’t sure if we’d have enough for the guests tonight,” he explains. “The only alternative would be water, and there’s no chance I would give that to children.”

He sets the basket on the table, removing the bottles as Emily closes the door again, placing them on the kitchen table. A clang with each ale unpacked. “You never said how much it cost,” Emily mutters. The bottle stop clanging.

“It was complimentary. After I explained it was for an ablution feast. An ablution feast for a child.”

Emily stands idly for a moment, before turning to check on the roast. It’s cooking slower than usual. She didn’t think much of it. Her mind is elsewhere. Giving up on her waning focus, she turns back to her husband. “Yes. He’s only a child.”

“He’s a child of God, Emily!” Barnabas shouts, before forcing his voice into an inside tone. “And he’s being taken from us by the devil himself! The same as the others. He’ll turn. And he’ll head for the bay. Like they all do. And good that it’s close. Because anything between him and those waters will meet an godly end. Anything that does not kill him first. You’ve seen the animals mangled. You know the friends we’ve lost. That is not a fate I wish upon our son.”

Emily has seen this look in her husband’s eyes before. His eyelids blink quickly. His lips quiver as he swallows own saliva. Just like the day Philip discovered the slits in his neck. It was the first time either Philip or Emily had ever seen a man weep.

“What happens after?” she asks.

“After dinner, we retire for the evening. At dawn, I will take Philip to hillside. So he may see one last sunrise before his... before I do what is necessary. Reverend Fletcher will oversee the funeral arrangements, and bless the house after the deed is done.”

A heavy knock pierces the idle chatter inside the home. Barnabas takes a moment to straighten his back, regaining his composure. Hosting without proper posture would insult the guests. He excuses him to the door. Emily picks up a basket of squash to place on the table. The open front door reveals William Chapman, a farmer from Cambridge, and a horse cart Barnabas offers to help hitch. Setting the basket on the table, Emily momentarily meets the stare of Reverend Fletcher.

The reverend hasn’t moved. He’s holding his spot in the corner, quietly examining each of the guests. His face stone. His Sunday sermons were furious and animated, making his silences almost suspicious. Like an ambush you vaguely expect. With the curse over the colony, his passions have become focused. He didn’t think much of the ablution feasts, but he understood their purpose. Bless the accursed, and allow the family their goodbyes. A distraction with purpose, but still in his eyes, a distraction.

“Will you be staying long, Reverend?” she asks, her voice weak.

“Long enough to bless the meal,” he responds. “I only wish to ensure the boy’s soul. I have no desire to linger in the presence of evil.”

His words insulted Emily, but there was no point fighting it. Reverend Fletcher preached from a powerful pulpit. Publicly challenging him would only turn her and Barnabas into pariahs. She glances back at her son.

“Has anyone been cured?” Emily asks the reverend.

“This isn’t a fever, Goodwife Cooper,” Reverend snaps back, “Wickedness has infected your child. It poisons his body, but it cannot take his soul.”

“But can’t we absolve him?” Emily replies, forcing her voice into a whisper, “Can’t my son see adulthood?”

“You are facing genuine evil, Goodwife Cooper. And weakness will only encourage the adversary.”

“There has to be some way!”

“There is God’s way, and no other. As in all things.”

The minister’s harsh dismissal leaves Emily stunned as she slinks back to kitchen. Stopping as the front door opens. Barnabas and William walk in, sharing a idle conversation. She looks to Philip one more time as he stares blankly into the table. Completely uninterested in the food that takes up most of it’s space. The roast should be done by now. But Emily figures it can wait.

“Philip,” she mutters to her son, “I think you should wash up for dinner now.”

Philips turns his wrapped head to his mother. She nods towards the front door, softly patting him on the back. He follows her direction.

“Did I ever tell you about England?” Emily tells Philip as they walk out the door. “We lived on a dairy in East Sussex. I used to ride into town with your grandfather on market days. He was a talkative man, your grandfather was. Always with some piece of knowledge he wanted to impart upon the next generation. For example, horse driving.”

The knot hitching Chapman’s cart falls apart before Philip realizes his mother was pulling it. He watches Emily as she pulls herself up to the seat, waving him on as he settles. With only a single glance behind him, he climbs beside her.

“Do you know the way to the harbor?” she asks. Philip instinctually points a single webbed finger east. Emily tugs the reigns, realizing she’ll be the topic of Reverend Fletcher’s sermon this Sunday. A shame she won’t be there to hear it.

theblunderbuss
Jul 4, 2010

I find dead men rout
more easily.


Bliss
1,198 words

Edit: Consigned to the archive just in case.

theblunderbuss fucked around with this message at 13:03 on Dec 13, 2016

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

These dentures won't stop me from tearing out jugulars in Thunderdome.





:siren: Six hours left to get those stories in! :siren:

Pham Nuwen
Oct 30, 2010




Get off my magical lawn
"Wizards will now hear the pitter patter of their little feet"
995 words

Dressed in his finest robes the wizard Zum, Head of the Department of Geomancy, led his distinguished visitor through the halls of the Continent's most august university of magic.

"I do hope you will excuse me if we skip the dormitories--rather dreadful place, full of students, you know--and move briskly on to the Central Library," he said, gesturing down the hall.

"Of course," replied his guest, Nablo Ce, chief scryer to the Emperor of the Equator. "The trainee quarters in the Imperial Academy are--" He broke off, looking around with a puzzled expression.

"Did you hear that?" he asked.

"Hear what?" Zum said.

"By the Emperor's hallowed beard I would swear it was the sound of bare feet, running past me. Heed, there, again! Is this place troubled by unquiet spirits, honored Zum?"

"Of course not, my dear Nablo! The necromancers would never allow it! Step through here with me and I'll tell you about it--don't worry, the Dean almost never comes in here and I'm sure he wouldn't mind us having a sip of his whiskey. Now, about those noises you heard..."

***

"Two years ago, we were faced with the unfortunate loss of our Summoning professor. You know how it is, the poor fellow eventually called up something he could not send back. Closed casket, of course."

"We needed a replacement, but none of the late professor's graduate students were anywhere near taking over his role. In the end, we sent away to a friend of our President who had retired to the mountains years ago. Brilliant man, the President swore, but a bit pecular."

"The usual preparations were made: his quarters were prepared, his new lab cleaned and stocked with fresh warding glyphs. The whole faculty got dressed up to meet him at the gate, and of course he turns up wearing the rattiest old robe you've ever seen, man must have used it for the dog's bed. But that's not the worst of it! You know what he brought with him?"

Here Zum took a slow drink of his whiskey, clearly hoping his listener would press him to go on. His stoic guest merely waited patiently, though, so with a disappointed cough he resumed.

"He'd brought with him... his two sons!"

At this Nablo Ce did interject, to Zum's pleasure. "But surely it is forbidden for a wizard to take a wife, here as it is in the Empire! Were I to find one of my scryers in the arms of a woman, I would remove that organ which had caused the problem!"

Choking slightly on his drink at the mental image, Zum answered, "No, it is forbidden here too; messes with the flow of magical energy and what not, though I'll say we don't take such, um, drastic measures. In any case, the old fool fell in love with a village girl and fathered two boys. His wife died bearing the second."

"The children were, to put it mildly, maddening. They were 5 and 7 years old. You forget how energetic the youth can be, after 130 years of quiet secluded study. They were forever under foot, tripping over a summoning circle and letting something unpleasant loose, or interrupting a crystal ball session, or running off to play fetch with poor old Toby's familiar."

"Their father wouldn't hear a word against them, doted on the boys. Being that he was an old friend of the President, there was little we could do in that direction either. Eventually it became intolerable. A small group of us met secretly one night to discuss possible solutions."

"I'll admit we were perhaps overwrought at this point. One man even suggested a disintegration spell and, to our shame, was not immediately shouted down. Another recommended we trap them in the Crystal Prison of the W'Kass until they were older. I consider myself a humane individual and therefore merely proposed we get them into some prestigious yet remote boarding school."

"As we discussed the relative merits of magically silencing them or simply advancing advancing their ages (45 years being the general preference), we heard the most enormous crashing and sounds of breaking glass down the hall. When we arrived on the scene, we found that an in-progress alchemical experiment had been completely smashed, liquids splashed everywhere, although there was no culprit to be seen."

"None to be seen, was, of course, the essential problem. We soon became aware of a quiet whimpering, then two faint, trembling voices called out from the empty air under the table. It was the two boys, but utterly invisible!"

"Well, we tracked down the owner of the experiment, an odd fellow named Kern. With a bit of experimentation we discerned that the boys were completely invisible and almost totally unable to interact with any physical objects. This was a bit of a problem until Kern managed to replicate the effect on some sandwiches a few days later; the boys nearly starved in the meantime for being unable to pick up any food!"

"Since then, things have more or less returned to normal. You'll hear the lads run down the hall from time to time, but that's about the extent of it. Frankly we've become rather fond of them now that they're out of sight and can't interfere with anything."

"But what of the father?" Nablo Ce asked. "Surely he is unhappy at the unusual state of his children?"

"Well, yes, he was pretty upset at first, but you know how us wizards are, we're used to strange things. They seem healthy enough, and we've got Kern working out how to reverse the effect. But--and I hope you'll have the decency not to mention this to anyone else--if you recall the original cabal intended to deal with the boys?"

"Yes?"

"Well, we quietly told Kern that if he figures out how to reverse the condition before the boys are at least 16, we'd turn him into a newt."

Masonity
Dec 31, 2007

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


The Umbrella Man
Rain touches everything it lands on
512 words

"'Ere, Sir, You ain't goin out there without a brolly are ya?"



And that's how I met Mr. Gibbons. Kings Cross Station. I'd got the fast train from the airport. Anyway, as I was saying...



"Why wouldn't I?" I asked.
"The Beeb said it's gonna rain later." he explained. "Don't wanna be getting wet!"
I looked at the man as if he was a complete idiot. "What do you mean?" I asked. "It's just a bit of rain!"
"New round 'ere, ain't ya?" He replied. "Obviously ain't 'eard of the Acid Rain."
"Acid rain?" I replied. "Wasn't that a big deal in the nineties? Turned out it damaged a few statues maybe?"
"Nope. Kills ya. Flat dead!"
"Ridiculous!" I said, buttoning up my coat. "If people were being killed by the rain, it'd be all over the news!"
"It is, 'ere!" He offered, shuffling around, placing himself between me and the exits. "You yanks prob'ly don't care though. Long as it ain't in your back yard! 'Ere, my mate Dave got caught out the other night. Tried makin' a run for it. A light shower, that's all it took." he sighed, taking his cap off and holding it over his left breast. "Dead as a doornail. You go tell 'is wife it's a load of tosh."
"Okay, how much do you want?" I sighed. At least I'd get a good story out of it.
"One of them pink notes'll do nicely!" He tried.
"Fifty pounds? For an umbrella?" I asked, clutching my wallet.
"Can't put a price on safety" he tried.


At that point, I shook my head, swerved around him and headed for the door.


"You know what? I like you. Don't wanna see you dead from acid rain. Thirty quid and it's yours?" He said, half-jogging behind me.
"I'll give you ten?" I tried, not breaking my stride. The doors loomed closer and closer as I waited for him reply.
"Ten? They cost me more'n that!" he finally answered, catching my sleeve. "'Ere, look. Twenty and I'm coverin' me costs. There's thunder in the air. I can smell it!"
I shook my head, pulled my arm away and reached for the door. There was a sudden flash, then a few seconds later a distant grumble. The scene outside morphed. Gone were the hurried but polite commuters, instead replaced by a crazed mob. Everyone seemed to be darting for cover, pushing their way into the tube station, crowding under the awnings of nearby shops, one man even hopped over the counter of a newspaper kiosk. A few brave souls, umbrellas held before them, carried on as if nothing had changed. I spun around and found my former assailant. "Here's your twenty!" I declared, trying to push a crisp new note into his hands.
"Sorry guv', deal's changed. I 'ave limited stock, and these lot 'ere'll give anything to get 'ome safe!"



So friends, that's how I went to London to seal the Peterson deal, and came back with our new head of International Sales! I'm proud to introduce Mr. Terry Gibbons.

HellishWhiskers
Mar 29, 2012

She was an awkward girl


The Universal Translator
"Listening to a sermon caused colonists’ bodies to explode"
1211 words

Andy was not having a particularly fantastic day. The morning traffic on the way to the station was absurd, mainly due to the idiocy of some jerk in a banana-colored Corvette. Andy felt no pity for him as he passed the abomination’s smoldering wreckage that was blocking two lanes.

What was supposed to be the highlight of the day, the Joyce Meyer interview, went pretty poorly. Something was very wrong with the sound level and Andy must have messed up the mic placement because Joyce sounded like she was talking through a paper bag throughout the whole thing. The debacle earned Andy quite an ear chewing from the station management - this was supposed to be the young intern’s shot at a permanent position after graduation, but, so far, he was not doing himself any favors.

The afternoon was Andy’s time to relax as the daily broadcasts would chew through the station’s limitless supply of pre-recorded sermons, but this, too, has been denied to Andy today as the shrill noise of the phone by the barely used clipboard fills his ears once more. Fully knowing what to expect, Andy picked up the receiver.

“106.7 FM Emergency broadcast line” Andy’s attempt at a monotoning through the State-mandated lines did not work as annoyance was easily detectable in his voice. As numerous times before, a slight pause followed by a strange static hiss preceded the voice.

“Yes, greetings! Are we still talking to Mr. Andy?” The voice sounded like it belonged to a very gregarious gentleman in his late fifties, but it sounded very stilted. Andy didn't pay attention to these idiosyncrasies since, to him, this was the most infuriating voice he could have heard at the time.

“Mr. Andy? Really? What is wrong with you?! How did you even get this number? Don’t you have anything better to do at your retirement home?”

“I will choose to ignore this impropriety as well as your previous refusal to treat this matter seriously. You will find me someone who will be willing to take responsibility for this incident! We are talking about a development on an intergalactic scale!”

“Intergalactic? Are you high?” This was not the first time that Andy had to fight the urge to rip the damned phone off of the wall. He understood that such a move would be looked down upon by the management, but it was rapidly becoming a very enticing option.

“How dare you! This is a diplomatic communique! We are speaking of a matter involving a two hundred and twenty t-trillion d-dollar loss in agricultural developments! Three hundred and seventy six fatalities, fifty four of them c-children! You may not care about profits, but have a h-heart and think about little M-Mary and the fact that she will never go to s-school, work on a plantation or f-fall in l-love!”

“Look, I don’t understand what you want from me or why do you continue wasting my time! Your prank isn't even funny!” Andy was way too baffled to notice the strange stuttering that occurred at various points in the man’s speech.

“Mr. Andy. Let me level with you here, d-diplomat-to-diplomat. I have a billion other things on my itinerary today, at least one of which involves a migration of space s-squid, and I will admit that LT-361 was of marginal importance to us, at best. A b-bureaucrat’s pet project, nothing more. What does matter, however, is that you can’t just allow other c-countries’ private citizens destroy our colonies, no matter their intentions! We’ve had vagrants preach salvation before and that giant crater on LT-085’s moon is precisely the reason why we've instituted proselytization l-licenses - something that this “Jerry Falwell” of yours did not at all bother to get, as our records indicate! If he would have, then the insurance would cover the damages and we wouldn't be having this conversation!”

“Jerry Falwell has been dead for a couple of years and, last time I checked, zombies don’t blow things up.”

“That is of no concern to us - clearly that g-gentleman has been your superior at some point and we must have accountability. I wish to speak to your l-leader.”

“How about you just leave me the hell alone and forget this number instead?” Everybody else was out for the day at this point and his replacement wasn't coming for another two hours, but it’s not like Andy was going to be making any excuses for this insane man-child with too much time on his hands.

“Look, Mr. Andy - it’s clear that you are the m-man in charge! I just need your v-verbal signature and then both of us will be able to go on with our lives and forget that this giant mess happened in the first place!”

“Does that mean that you will stop calling this number?” Andy's exasperation has almost gotten the best of him.

“Of course, Mr. Andy - as I said, all we need is accountability!”

“Fine, okay! Yes! You can hold me accountable for whatever the hell it is you want me to be accountable for. I don’t even care - just leave me the gently caress alone!”

Andy opted to hang up the phone without waiting for the reply. Of course, there was still the matter of logging the ridiculous conversation on the clipboard, as per regulation. A year ago, Andy would consider this to be his dream job, but the internship turned out to be a real eye opener. Perhaps, it was time to rethink his career choices.

These musings were interrupted when Andy heard a loud crash coming from the studio and turned his head to see a strange figure covered in glass wool and asbestos. It looked vaguely like a humanoid raptor in a scuba diver suit and a fishbowl on its head. Slightly above its waist hung what looked like a portable speaker with a bunch of knobs on it. The cartoonish appearance of this thing would have made it less menacing were it not for the manner of its entry into the building. It addressed Andy before he had a chance to bolt for the exit.

“Would you happen to be Mr. Andy?” The thing’s strange chirping quickly became normal, albeit monotonous speech, but Andy noted that the slight pause and static were present once again.

“I am, yes.” Andy didn’t feel any aggression in the air, but he was still instinctively inching towards the fire exit door.

“Good. I’m Mr. Spice, Accountability Enforcement Agency. Thank you for being a-available. We will be done shortly. I do hope I'm s-speaking clearly Mr. Andy. My t-translator is optimized for maximum semiotic corollaries and tangible equivalent effects.”

Before Andy could inquire further, the thing above the fishbowl raptor’s waist began emitting ear-destroying noises before breaking out into a Jerry Falwell’s sermon, one that Andy has heard many times before. It was never something he put stock into, but Andy was quite alright putting up with this nonsense as part of his job. Although the sound coming from the odd-looking speaker was no different from the station’s regular broadcasts, Andy managed to note, in his last moments, that it made him feel extremely gassy and bloated.

HellishWhiskers fucked around with this message at 00:14 on Jan 11, 2016

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


A Fellow of Means
Now all giants, no matter how awkward, count for something.
1147 words

When Adelle told me the giant was coming to dinner again, I must admit I was concerned with the propriety of the thing. While we’d enjoyed hearing about his childhood in the foothills, his delightful encounters with local villagers, and where one might find housing for one of his stature, the truth was his table manners were nothing short of dreadful. Even Adelle, woozy and overserved after our first occasion, admitted to me that she could scarcely manage the embarassment when the fellow had allowed the meat’s juices to drizzle down his chin, diffusing into his beard, which continued to drip long past dessert. And that was to say nothing of his breeding! We would both be thought, she feared, awfully lax at keeping the appropriate kind of company.

But alas, word had spread beyond our small party, and widowed Fanny Boxworth had sent to Adelle that she absolutely must meet this tall handsome new stranger. And despite Adelle’s protests over our guest’s presence forcing us outdoors – for although we possessed an ample estate, even our high ceilings had forced poor Mr. Gulfright to bow at an angle most unnatural – we invited him to dine with us once again.

---

“You’ve outdone yourself again, Adelle,” said Fanny, as we sat around our patio table. Our guest, three times my size and much too large for any of the traditional seating, sat in a clumsy crosslegged posture, a tableau of nine napkins arranged on his lap. “What do you think of the pheasant, Mr. Gulfright?” she asked, as the giant took a mammoth bite.

“Um, good food,” he said through his mouthful.. Again he picked up the pheasant with his thumb and forefinger, crunching straight through the bones. “But,” he added, “not as good as the food from home. The Scottish, they’re the best.” He wiped his mouth with his forearm and unleashed a booming belch.

“I could never hope to compete with the food of a man’s mother,” Adelle said.

“Oh, the Americans are good too,” he said, licking his lips while his eyes drifted over to Fanny.

“Are you married, Mr. Gulfright?” Fanny asked.

“Never did,” the giant said. “Hard to meet someone who meets my lifestyle demands. Travel, you know. Long hours.” When I caught Fanny still looking avidly at the stranger, I met Adelle’s gaze. The impropriety of this match would reflect badly upon us.

“Why Mr. Gulfright, I thought you were a man of independent means!” I said, hoping to bring Fanny to her senses. “A working man! Why don’t you tell us about your position?”

The giant grunted and looked forlornly at his plate. “I’ve got means,” he said. “But I can’t quit the family trade. Lumber surveying. It’s in our genes.”

“How fascinating!” Fanny replied. “Why, I’m absolutely parched. How about you fix us some more drinks, Adelle?”

“I’ll take seconds,” added the giant. Adelle nodded, folded her napkin on the table and stood up.

“I’ll accompany you,” I said to Adelle, and followed her inside. Once the door had clicked closed behind us, I reached out and touched her shoulder. “This is a disaster.”

“You’re not wrong,” she said, while mixing up a vodka gimlet for the gentleman. “No, I don’t relish the prospect of poor Fanny courting this uncouth lumber surveyor? And asking for seconds! It’s as if this man has no experience with society whatsoever.”

“I certainly hope you’re not planning to invite him again.”

“Absolutely not. We must find some way to separate them. Have him talk about his dirty work in trees with bugs and rabid beasts. Goodness, I knew Fanny was desperate, but I didn’t think she’d go this low.” Adelle poured half a glass of wine and filled the rest with water. “She doesn’t need to have her senses impaired any more than they already are.” Adelle trailed behind me with the drinks as I carried a second bowl of soup for the guest back outside. As I opened the door, I witnessed a sight that appalled my senses: Mr. Gulfright, again with no regard for silverware, helping himself to a second course. Viscera and reddened, discarded clothing draped our table as our guest gorged himself on raw flank of Fanny.

Adelle dropped both of the glasses at the spectacle, and the resulting clatter drew the gaze of Mr. Gulfright. “Sorry,” he said. “You took a while. I couldn’t wait.”

“Mr. Gulfright,” I said, “I thought you were a respectable man!”

“My heavens,” said Adelle. “That’s what we get for inviting someone like you to dinner. Twice.”

“That’s rude. Giants have been living perfectly respectable lives for years. Ever heard of Paul Bunyan?”

“Paul Bunyan didn’t eat the dinner guests,” Adelle said.

“Sure. That’s the story people like. We have to eat, though.”

“Well, I’m sure he had better manners,” I interjected. “Can you at least wipe your face?”

At this Mr. Gulfright had the decency to shrug , wad up a couple of napkins, and rub them across his mouth. “Never was too good at that sort of thing.” He continued to dab at his beard.

“Now listen here,” I said. “You’ve put us in a very difficult situation, sir. How do you think we’re going to explain the gruesome passing of Fanny to our neighbors? Why, one of them could have watched you helping yourself to your second dinner.”

“And after our staff worked so hard to prepare your first dinner, too,” Adelle said. “Don’t you have any respect?”

“Sorry for the trouble,” our guest said. “I can talk to them, if you like.”

“You’ll do no such thing,” Adelle said. “You will stay here with us, and we will discuss your prospects from here.”

---

Mr. Gulfright’s lack of status and abominable compulsions may have, under lesser guidance, lead him to certain downfall. But with his fate entwined with mine and Adelle’s, he became an honored dinner guest at all of our associates. And the social atmosphere had never been better. Why, it wasn’t long after Mr. Gulfright arrived in town that the more disagreeable connections began to make sudden departures and seek their fortune in other locations.

Adelle struggled to teach him the finer points of propriety. Try as we might, we failed to convince him to trim his food-trap of a beard. “Makes me masculine,” he said. And perhaps he was right. Adelle and I had the greatest of heartaches keeping the single women of the town away from Mr. Gulfright; when it was unavoidable, we kept our staff on hand watching him at all times.
We did invite our neighbors to meet Mr. Gulfright at another dinner party.

Adelle and I took ill early, though, and we asked Mr. Gulfright if it wouldn’t be too much trouble for him to take hosting duties. The good dear obliged. He told us the portions were fresh and plentiful.

Ceighk
May 27, 2013


t h u n d e r d o m e
We can talk about it
Or we could get gully, I'll size up your body
And put some white chalk around it


To The Curious – 1197 words. Prompt: Ghost crabs have been moved from the crypt to the swamp

Fifteen years on, and Clifford had transformed into a caricature of the teenager George remembered. As have we all, George thought, with ears, noses and – on all but his host – guts that protruded farther by the day. But Clifford was the first of George’s school friends to have grown smaller since uni. His shins protruded nakedly from his brown parka like cocktail sticks in a misshapen sausage, while his eyes and lips had popped forward as if to make up the space vacated by his shrunken-in cheeks. He brewed coffee in a saucepan, rain beating on the window behind him.

George meanwhile, struggling to resist total envelopment by Clifford’s only armchair, found his thoughts returning to just why he had ventured to this inhospitable corner of the United Kingdom to begin with. Curiosity, for sure, of the morbid sort – to find out why his high school’s biggest stoner had invited him to his hut on the saltmarshes of South Uist after ten years of no contact. But was there more than that?

When he had finished with the stove, Clifford brought the two mugs over on a plastic tray he used to bulldoze a thick covering of books with titles like Stonehenge’s Secret and 21st Century Dowsing from a low table.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” he said, pulling up a chair.

“Of course, mate,” said George. “It’s been far too long.” Had it? They’d been friends, sure, but their primary connection had been the weed that George, the budding entrepreneur, ordered online to sell on to Clifford and a couple others. Clifford would later introduce him to harder psychedelics by way of recompense, but this was a fleeting acquaintance, one George packed in long before the mortgage, the marriage, and the position in his father’s property firm.

“You know why I invited you, George? Over all the others?”

George did not.

“It’s in how you think – you’re a questioner. You don’t just take for granted what you’re told, you know?”

George felt perhaps more flattered than he ought to, as he suspected Clifford based that assumption entirely on the fact he had once tried LSD. “You want to know what’s really going on, am I right?” Clifford continued.

“I guess that’s me,” said George.

“Well,” said Clifford, leaning back, “just you see what I’ve got for you. You know why the rent here’s so cheap? Everyone who’s had the place left within a month, something about disturbances in the night. Of course, that doesn’t put me off like it does most people…”He trailed off, leaving the room to drift into deep silence. “Listen!” he whispered, “the rain’s stopped! Get your coat.”

Abandoning their beverages, Clifford led George out behind the hut, marking their way with a flashlight as they walked the dirt margin between the rocky beach and the marshes further inland. The night was still and quiet – George couldn’t hear the waves against the shore, though he knew the shore must be just beyond Clifford’s torch beam.

“Now if you read Sullivan,” Clifford started up he walked, “you’ll realise that this part of this island is on a very interesting configuration of ley lines. Very interesting. The Britons knew it, as did the Gaels, as did the Vikings, which makes for some very unique archaeology, if that’s your thing. What I’m more interested in for now, though…” Clifford stopped moving, dropped his voice to a whisper, and indicated a movement in the reeds: “…is the wildlife!”

A shape began to emerge from the shrubbery in the light up by Clifford’s torch. It was a crab, a big one, that shone silver in the dark. As if unaware of their presence it made for the two men, and as it passed Clifford’s legs his dark boots were visible through its translucent carapace. Clifford followed its path with his torch as it continued its lumbering journey until it entered the still sea, leaving no impression on the resinous surface.

George finally exhaled. “Was that crab a ghost?” he asked in disbelief. Looking at his guide, George felt as he had when they’d taken acid: that while he was a traveller in a foreign land, Clifford seemed more at home in this strange place than anywhere else.

But even surrounded by madness, Clifford found ways to up the ante: “They are the spectral messengers of the Great Nyan-hotep that emerge at night from his prehistoric monument.
Look, there’s more!”

And there were. Soon there were five such creatures crawling across the beach, then fifteen, all moving to the same goal – the sea – and from the same origin, a silver river in the light of the full moon.

“Let’s see where they’re coming from, shall we?” said Clifford, and led George along a dry path inland over the marsh. After twenty minutes they came to a faint light, soon revealed to be a table of immense stones, loosely assembled, that glowed a moonlike silver. In near side of the structure, a gap between two square boulders made a door from which emerged a steady flow of the crab-like beings, to spread in each direction over the moor.

“Enter that portal, George” said Clifford, “as I did on the last full moon!”

George took on step forward. A whispering in his mind called out, “George! George!”

“Enter that portal and the veil shall be pulled back from reality, and to you the true nature of man’s lot shall be revealed!”

George faltered. He did see himself as a curious person, but did his curiosity go that far? He’d pick up a New Scientist on the way home from work, sure, but he wasn’t about to get a PhD in physics. Similarly, while it was fascinating that legions of ghost crabs emerged from an ancient Celtic burial mound every night, perhaps he wasn’t he shouldn’t poke about and find out why. Particularly if they were, as Clifford seemed to think, the harbingers of some kind of cosmic deity.

“Clifford, look,” said George decisively, “I have no idea what’s going on and honestly I don’t want to. Can we go back inside?”

“Oh,” said Clifford, deflated. “Well, I’m not gonna force you. I just thought you might be interested. It really is rather good, the show in there. You learn everything from the five caliphs of Pzum’Thuhm to the Sleepless Giant of Gi’anthock, who is to our entire race what we are to a flea. You sure you’re not interested? There’s free tea and coffee at the interval.”

Even the whispering in his head sounded disappointed: “George?” it said, “George?”

George thought of what he’d be doing at home: having a decaf coffee, finishing off a spreadsheet, waiting for Hannah to come home from her late shift. That was what he had come here to escape, but now George realised he needn’t have. For most people, George thought, there comes a point in life where you have to stop asking the big questions and focus on the little things. His family, his career, and his mental stability depended on it.

“Look, I’m sorry,” he said. “Show me round the island tomorrow, when it’s light. There’s some things I’d rather not know.”

Sixto Lezcano
Jul 11, 2007



Well poo poo. Too many other things need their asses kicked right now. I have no kicks left for TDome. RIP me

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009



BIG DICK NICK
A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly



Bindings "error when a cult leader drinks laudanum and decides to leave their cult" (+200 words)
1400 words

With one hand braced against the headboard, David scoured the freckles and curves of Bree’s lissome frame in hopes of finding something to fault. True, her face left a bit to be desired; her gapped teeth and crooked nose weren’t the picture of beauty, but David found them charming all the same. She had nice tits and smooth, delicately tapered legs that called out for him to run his tongue from calf to thigh before plunging it somewhere deeper, and then filling the space with a harder part of himself.

Yet here he was, watching his cock wither away in his palm.

“Issues?” Bree asked.

“Just feeling a little anxious,” David said. “Got any beer or anything?”

David recalled a gold sedan that the two had passed on the ride back from the bar. Everytime he thought about her, David returned to that image: a missing passenger side mirror, mismatched hubcaps, a driver in a knitted black skullcap, his face covered in a heavy blonde beard. In that momentary passing on a hot summer’s night’s asphalt, David thought of a similar car that he once knew years ago and the blonde haired boy who drove it.

“You really know how to make a woman feel wanted,” Bree declared from the bedroom doorway, wearing nothing but her socks. Moments after she vanished behind the moulding and drywall, David was on his knees--his scraggly toenails catching on the Chenille bedspread--and peeping through the blinds into the night.

Bree emerged with a half empty bottle of rosé. “This’ll have to do,” she said as she shimmied into the bed. A droplet of sweat rolled from the bottle, landing on Bree’s stomach before coming to rest in the gentle cradle of her navel. David wanted to suck it out.

Instead, he took a long swig from the bottle’s mouth.

Bree was languidly tracing her finger over the strange geometric tattoo on David’s arm when she asked, “What’s it mean?”

“Nothing,” David said.

“You always get tattoos of things that don’t mean anything?” Bree asked.

“It used to mean something to me,” David said.

Eventually the two moved on to other topics of conversation: food allergies, favorite animals, a detailed account of their criminal histories. David was open; he told her about the speeding tickets, and the unregistered firearm that he kept under his pillow, the tax evasion, and the drug possession charge that put him in jail for 24 months.

“What were you carrying?” Bree asked.

“Morphine, basically,” he said, “but I’m trying to straighten things out now,” he added.

When it was Bree’s turn to share, she left out the recent stuff, but she did tell David about the time in the tenth grade when she followed a girl home from school before beating her on the front lawn with a tree branch. “The girl was loving with my brother,” she said. “My mother always taught me that you have to protect your family.”

While she spoke, Bree slowly stroked David until he forgot about the silver car, or the blonde haired boy, or the fact that he didn’t have a condom.

“I’ll pull out,” he said when he was close.

“I’ve got a Plan B in the nightstand,” she said before squeezing him tightly.

When the two were finished, Bree reached into the nightstand, accidentally sending a Louisville Slugger that was resting against it toppling to the floor.

When she rose, she held two bars of Oxycodone.

“Want one?” she asked.

*****

At first, the bedspread bowed, growing saggy until David was inches deep in his own indentation. When the groove was so deep that David couldn’t see over it, the universe ripped, and David was falling through it.

David turned, fighting against the pull of his descent before facing down in the void. Off in the spectral distance, he could hear the gasping of Bree’s sputtering laugh. A point appeared on the horizon, starting as a mottled brown speck, but growing larger until David could pick out the features of the commune he once called home.

There, surrounded by the chain fence, was the farmhouse where he and his disciples slept. Out back were the spice gardens, and to their left the bumper crops. Next to the fields, adjacent to the forest treeline, was the woodshed where David would take the girls when he wanted a private moment with them. Directly below his streaking plummet was the garage where the gold sedan used to be parked.

In the seconds before he crashed through the roof and into the backseat, David could make out a blonde haired man driving and a gap-toothed woman riding shotgun.

*****

The smell of roasting cedarwood brought David from the stupor. Six feet away, a bonfire raged, hissing and crackling like volatile hellfire. David rolled away and turned to face Bree, flanked on all sides by a circle of familiar onlookers. His hands were bound and cuffed behind his back.

One onlooker tossed a sprig of sagebrush into the fire. “Hail Satan!” a voice called.

“Hail Satan!” the circle responded.

Bree tickled the tickled the tip of David’s nose with her big toe, and he noticed that she had a tattoo to match his inked across the top of her foot.

The man with the blonde beard stepped forward. “David, do you remember me?” he asked. His teeth were bright and white on the faces, but black and stained wherever they met; he shared Bree’s crooked nose.

David righted himself, “I remember your face,” he said.

The blonde man loomed over David and paced as he spoke. “I’m sorry to bring you back here,” he said, “but after you got out prison and decided to leave us, well, The Order began thinning out.”

“William,” the name came to him, “I’m sorry.” David’s feet were unchained, and he wondered if he would have the strength to charge and break the circle. A pair of slim hands wrapped around his waist and snaked their way down to his crotch.

Bree tugged David into an embrace, his legs outstretched, and hers wrapping around him like a seatbelt.

“Only the truly devout have remained with us,” William said. “We have work to do.”

“I’m not capable of serving the flock anymore,” David lied.

“David,” William said, “we need you.”

“Bree? Would you mind?” William asked with an outstretched hand.

“Yes, brother,” David heard from behind him. Bree leaned in, kissing the crease of his neck and shoulder. He could feel the smooth sliding of polished wood as the Louisville Slugger brushed against the other side of his neck.

“I’m sorry, David.” William said as he brought the heavy wood down in an overhand swing, and, for the moment, the sound of splintering bone overtook the crackling of the fire. David cried as his ankle turned to broken glass.

“It’s okay,” Bree whispered, “just relax.”

David tried to pull himself upright, but Bree held him like a lover would.

“Just one more,” she said.

*****

William and Bree had lined the floor of David’s bedroom with mattresses in preparation for his arrival. The disciples, when they came by to visit, were happy to see that he was comfortable and no longer in pain. They told him that they looked forward to the day where he could walk the compound again and see the improvements that were planned.

One day, not long after The Order had settled back into its happy routine, Bree came to David’s room with a pen and some nice stationary with gilding along the edges. “Write a letter,” she said.

“To whom?” David asked.

“The ones we’ve lost,” Bree said. “Call them back to us. Be inspirational; be the person that I fell in love with years ago.”

So he did.

Each day after, Bree would bring David his lunch and they would sit together for an hour or two while David wrote to a vague spectre in his hazy memory. When he finished, Bree would read it, cross the name from her list, and David would secretly make a tally mark between the mattresses.

At 40 tallies, David learned to stay put.

Eventually, he had resolved himself to jam that pen directly into Bree’s neck, but when she entered the room, David noticed how her thin top seemed strained in containing her abdomen and breasts. That night, David counted 104 tallies.

At 120, she told him that it was a boy.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




The Troll Surgeon

"Doctor repeatedly tries and fails to suture wounds that have already healed"

1370 Words

So no poo poo, there I was, shipped off to the front lines the day after graduation at the Imperial School of Medicine without so much as a briefing, let alone the full course of training and instruction I'd get in an army run by actual professionals. This was during the war with the Seredim, the fourth or fifth one, I can never keep track. One of the ones we say we won.

The carriage stopped and the officer said my name, only he said 'Doctor Norris' like it rhymed with Morris, and since it's actually 'no-ree' and I'd had the title for less than eighteen hours I didn't recognize he was talking about me until the third time he said it. I knew better than to correct him. I got up, stepped outside, and found myself at the encampment of the 17th heavy infantry division.

Now the first thing a person's going to notice about the 17th is that it's an all-troll unit. Not regular infantry with troll support, but one hundred percent troll, top to bottom and front to back. These units go in and out of style, but during the fourth-or-fifth Seredim war they were very much in. Once the carriage left the only two humans around were me and the Major, and the Major never left his tent.

I grew up in farm country, out east, and then went off to Lothic City to learn medicine. You don't see many trolls in either place. I didn't know the first thing about trolls. If it hadn't been for Karkk, I'd have been completely lost. Karkk greeted me right after I got off the carriage. “You must be the new doctor,” he said. I nodded. “Let me show you around the place.”

He gave me the three-crown tour, showed me around all of the different tents and how to tell them apart once they've all been taken down and put back up a mile and a half deeper into Seredim territory. Every troll we met seemed very happy to see me. I asked him why.

“Well,” said Karkk, “If they've sent a new doctor, we're about to see action.” He wasn't wrong. We moved out that morning, and the next day, once the medical tents were raised they began to fill with casualties.

I went from bed to bed, reading each report of horrifying battlefield injuries, with needle and suture thread at hand, but each time I reached a patient they were sitting in bed without any sign of injury. I thought somebody was playing a joke on me. I asked one about the cut his chart said he had, right across his belly. “Yeah,” he said. “That one hurt a lot.”

“So where's the cut?” I asked.

“It got better.”

Finally I did find one who showed signs of injury, a soldier named Vokk whose right arm had been cut clean off. He was indeed a one-armed troll, although the stump had completely healed over as though the amputation had been professionally done months ago. “Gonna take a month to grow back,” he said. “A month on double rations.”

Like I said, I didn't know the first time about trolls. The first thing about trolls is that they regenerate, they quickly heal any wound that doesn't take their head off or cut them clean in half. I didn't know the second thing about trolls either. I learned that after the next battle.

The second thing about trolls is that if you want to really hurt them, you use fire. This being the fourth (or fifth) war, the Seladim knew this, and when they faced troll infantry they brought out the hot stuff. This time I saw real injuries among the already-healed, burns running from trivial to severe. But there was still nothing I could actually do about it. Karkk explained it to me. “Burnt tissue won't heal, even if you cut it out. Try, and the patient will bleed out. Only thing to do is wait for the skin to grow over the whole scar, bury it inside the body. That can take as long as growing a whole arm or leg back. Or sometimes the burns prove too deep and the patient dies.” Karkk was the troll equivalent of a nurse. The exact job title translates to “bone-breaker”, and that's mostly what they do: if someone starts healing in the wrong shape, they break bones and let them heal right. Truth is, that's all the doctoring a troll soldier needs.

Try telling that to the army, though. A few months in I got called in to the Major's tent. The Major's human, and for a while I thought that my main duty was to care for him if he got a papercut or something, but Karkk set me straight. The Major's orderly was a netherborn Priest managing his health needs magically. Anyhow, the Major had a problem.

“Medical supplies,” said the Major.

“What about them? I don't think we're low on anything,” I said.

“That's the problem.”

“I'm afraid I don't follow you.”

“Listen,” said the Major, leaning forward, “I don't want to tell you how to do your job. But the men back in headquarters, they believe in metrics-based management. And their chief metric for how much work a medical station is doing is the consumption of those supplies.”

“But sir,” I said, “These soldiers are trolls. They don't need-”

“Like I said,” the Major interrupted, waving his left arm, “I don't want to tell you how to do your job. But if you can't improve these numbers it's going to make us both look bad.”

I sighed. “Yes, sir.”

“Oh,” said the Major as I turned to live, “I hope I don't have to say this, but I don't want to see gauze and thread dumped in the garbage, or the latrines or the campfires.”

I started to see why the previous doctor didn't last long. I'd soon have a black mark on my career and the enmity of my superior officer as well. Finding some way to get transferred looked appealing, although the only way I could think of involved crippling injuries from an 'accident', and I didn't have something like that in me. Desertion wasn't an option. Even if wanted to join the Seredim, they wouldn't have me. Besides, who wanted to flee to a place currently under attack by several hundred trolls? It took me another week to find a solution.

It came to me when I learned the third thing about trolls. The third thing about trolls is that they can, and will eat almost anything. They can fully digest plant matter, like termites. The army knows this, and so the standard troll military ration is the most unappetizing block of fat, scraps and grains you'll ever see. This came together when I checked in Vokk. His stump now had what looked like a baby's arm growing out of it, and he was complaining mightily about his mandatory double rations. I suggested adding some of our cotton gauze to break the monotony, and he enthusiastically agreed. Soon we had a thriving little black market going in supplementary nutrition. “Dip it in beer and it tastes like beer” was our unofficial slogan.

So that was my first stint in the medical corps, getting paid junior officer's wages to be a check on the list of things some rear-echelon horsehumper thinks a fighting division needs. But that's not the best part. See, those all-troll battalions fell out of style, and stayed that way for years. But in the current conflict with the Drall Alliance, they're bringing them back. So they need someone to manage the medical staff across the whole army from headquarters, and since all of the managers from that long back are retired, they went looking for an expert. And they found me, the only doctor who managed to fulfill all of their metrics without getting caught cheating. I might not convince the general staff to do the sensible thing and let the bone-breakers handle everything, but even if I can't, well, it beats the hell out of the front.

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Jeza
Feb 13, 2011

The cries of the dead are terrible indeed; you should try not to hear them.


Filth - 1199 Words

“Fix walkable area in subway so Dropsy can't walk beyond the darkness.”

The message said just that, scrawled in official red ink and pinned to the company corkboard. It was the only official memorandum in months.

G would do no such thing, of course. If they cared so much about Dropsy walking beyond the darkness, they could come and stop Dropsy themselves. As for himself, coaxing Dropsy beyond the darkness was all he had left.

They would have to come down and take it away from him themselves.

He put a company token into the beverage machine and pressed for a black coffee. The machine hacked and wheezed into life before reluctantly spurting an off-brown liquid into a poly cup, with all the accuracy and exigence of a pensioner at a urinal.

He took one sip, as he always did, and his face creased in disgust. He stepped out of the company breakroom and walked to the platform. Dropsy was hunched over his broom.

G threw the cup. A smooth curve of coffee-sludge arced several feet, while the brittle plastic cup shattered into pieces onto the platform’s tiles.

Dropsy turned at the noise, and saw that his pristine platform was dirty once more. He burbled and gurned gleefully towards G, who simply stared impassively back.

Dropsy limped off towards the supply cupboard to supplant his broom for his mop, which was an exciting change of pace. G sat down on the stairwell and thought some more about the darkness.

#

Trains passed their station every 18 minutes, making a rate of 80 trains per day. They were never delayed, and they never stopped. The flew past like gleaming silver arrows, shot from some other world. Amidst the speed and pale sea-green windows, there were sometimes human faces, captured and lost in an instant.

The trains were G’s third greatest enemy. For all their sparkling perfection, the trains wore capes of filth. In their wakes each one brought a choking dust, that settled upon the platform.

And so, every 18 minutes, they swept the dust back off the platform onto the tracks. That was their job — to keep the platform clean.

For whom the platform was kept clean for, it was not clear.

G was usually content to let Dropsy clean the platform. He seemed to actively enjoy doing so. The only exception was the mornings, where the accumulated filth of the night’s trains was caked onto the platform and it became the work of two men.

As G had discovered, if the platform was still dirty by the time he retired, the next day no food packet would arrive down the chutes. The ones upstairs, his second greatest enemy, must be watching. This was how they knew of his plan to lure Dropsy into the darkness.

#

Over time, as G had come to clean the platform less and less, and in turn he had come to think about the darkness more and more. Slowly he had become obsessed. In his dreams it whispered to him, and now during his waking hours, it seemed to ripple seductively like the folds of a velvet dress.

“What am I hiding?” it seemed to ask him, “What lies beneath?”

On his first day on the job, he had been warned in no uncertain terms to not approach the darkness. It was just there, he was told. It was none of his concern.

How long ago that had been, G was unsure. Time seemed strange down in the subway. Life before he swept the platform was hazy, mostly an irrelevance.

He had ignored it for tens of thousands of sweeps. Reaching the darkness from the platform wasn’t possible. It stood several feet beyond the edge. To reach it would require leaping from the platform.

Yet slowly, his curiosity had grown to a fever pitch, along with a hatred for his disfigured, inarticulate companion.

So, in between the arrival of the trains, he had been collecting tiles from the bathroom and gluing them to the platform wall, edging ever closer towards it. The platform floor was extended piece by painstaking piece.

#

Dropsy, with his disfigured face and baleful eyes, had watched G pensively as he increased his workload. He would clean it of course, it was now the platform after all. But he was afraid of the darkness. It was as if his friend was building a bridge to the dirtiest thing imaginable, and in his mind he was unsure if even his broom would be up to the task.

#

For G’s part, behind his equanimous face, he was seething with a mixture of pleasure and impatience. He was consumed by thoughts of the darkness, and at last it was within reach.

For the rest of the day, G co-operated in cleaning the platform. He slept a dreamless sleep and woke to clean the platform all morning as well. He ate what came down the chutes in the breakroom with Dropsy, who played with his mashed potato like a child and giggled when he caught G looking. G scowled.

That afternoon would be the one.

G put in a token for a black coffee. For once, it tasted a little sweeter.

When he descended to the platform, he descended like a king. Dropsy was there, and he watched the coffee in G’s hand like a dog to a tennis ball, now well attuned to the ritual. His eyes followed it as it left G’s fingers. But this time Dropsy’s face fell as he watched It spin gently towards the blackness.

It was with a heavy heart that Dropsy went to the cupboard that time to retrieve his mop. As if scolded, he looked sulkily towards G. G meanwhile shadowed Dropsy’s every step, pupils catching the fluorescent strip lights above.

Together they walked until they reached the extension. Dropsy inched closer and closer towards the darkness, taking meticulous care to sponge every drop of coffee off the floor.

G was close enough to hear it whisper to him directly. In his head, he heard obscene suggestions. There was one more piece of filth that needed cleaning from the platform.

#

Dropsy squeezed the last of the coffee into bucket. He turned in time to see G lunging towards him with murder in darkened eyes. He backpedaled off the platform edge, in time to see the shining light of a silver arrow.

Dropsy was gone in an instant, but his blood was sprayed liberally along the walls and platform. G watched in fascination as it mixed with the newly-lain dust on the platform and ran in black rivulets towards the darkness.

From within the darkness itself, a sigh emerged, and it seemed to grow larger.

G stood for only a moment, then mad with curiosity, stepped through into the darkness.

#

A young woman walked down the platform steps. In front of her a disfigured man happily swept black dust from the floor onto the tracks. At the end of the platform was a strange black wall. There was a small sign in front of it that read “Do Not Cross”.

She looked at it quizzically for a moment, and didn’t give it a second thought.

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