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Julias
Jun 24, 2012


It's been a while. I'm In .

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sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


Week 192 Crits, Part 2

Mother in the Radio

This is a really compelling dynamic you’ve explored here, because you’ve focused on the right part of this story. It’s not if the Mom is actually in the static, it’s not that she isn’t, it’s the lingering grief and the protectiveness of Dad over his son. I think the middle section is very pretty in its writing, and it’s a cool way to build on the atmosphere, and I like the way it seizes on the song’s theme (the impossibility of ever really knowing)… but I do feel like there’s an element of autopilot here, in seizing on these celestial meditations because they have power at atmosphere, but they don’t necessarily build on the story. And I’m not a big fan of the conversation in the third section – that definitely veers a little too close to the story that focuses on the least interesting part of the situation (real or not.) I do like the coming-together of the last section, and I think it’s genuinely moving, but the last line feels a little anti-climactic to me.

This story does a lot of things well, and it’s a really good use of the song in ways both literal and metaphorical, I just wish it was a little tighter.

Titanomachy

This is a good execution of an interesting concept. The conversation is compelling, your main character is interesting, and there’s enough nuance and unpredictability to keep me interested. It also works well enough as a self-contained story. The one thing I don’t like here is the last few paragraphs, which dump exposition and telegraph what’s going to happen next in a way that sort of dulls the lingering impact of this story. The story probably would have HMed if it wasn't for those last few paragraphs. Good job really capturing the song in the mood and the imagery here, too.

Arc

I have zero idea what happened in this story, I don’t know what any of the specialized terminology means, but at the same time I appreciate the atmosphere of what you’ve attempted here. This is a non-linear survival story, I guess, and there’s a lot of texture to the language, but I have zero idea what’s going on, I have no reference point for what “it” is supposed to mean half the time, nor do I have any idea what your original proper nouns are. Like, I feel like there’s something to discover here with a close read, but this is so obtuse that I don’t know if I want to summon up the effort to disentangle this.

Messiah en Route

This is definitely one of the most interesting concepts I’ve read this week, and the first few paragraphs are pretty great with this character’s voice. I don’t generally like the “is this character mentally ill, or are these delusional beliefs really true?” trope, but I think you do a good job milking that for tension here. I’m pretty bemused by the ending, though. I’ve got no idea why this character’s powers just stop working, and that throws everything before it in doubt. It’s ambiguous in a way that I’m not sure frustrates me in a good way or a bad way, but I definitely admire the inventiveness of it, and in the end this had more staying power than most of the other stories this week.

The Cicada, Grief

I don’t caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaare.

Swamp monster Cooper reconnects with his brother Dale. He eats a lot of food, reconnects with his brother over old memories, and then they discuss if they really are each other’s brothers. And OK, this could be an interesting concept for a story, except there’s just no real resonance here. And aside from swamp monster Cooper’s unearthly qualities, I don’t really get who he could be besides Dale’s brother. This is another case where I feel really stupid, because the story seems to hinge on this point, but I just don’t understand why it’s very important to drunk Dale. I'm definitely the judge who liked this story the least, so I'm willing to believe that I really am just stupid here.

I’m also really unsure of what the connection to the song is. Maybe the “it’s crazy what you could have had” inspires the conversation about Cindy?

Sightless Eyes

Here’s another one that makes me feel kind of stupid, since I’m not sure what the mythic elements are really contributing to the Western story you have going on here. The atmospheric elements are good here, you really sell the desperation of the desert, and I’m getting some Cormac McCarthy vibes with the thematic elements you’ve woven into this, the mercilessness and emptiness of the whole situation. This one’s a little too bleak and dense for me to really love, but I do appreciate the decisions you’ve made here, the non-linear elements that actually do make some sort of sense, and I appreciate the way you’ve woven in elements of the song.

but not me in

I don’t like this. Too much of the first half is wrapped up in banter, and while it’s not bad banter, it makes the frenetic second half feel even more silly than it would already. (There’s more than a couple similarities to a recent classic story in this, honestly.) The premise is fine, but the gross-out stuff at the end doesn’t really work for me, and it doesn’t come off as “creepy” because the tone is so arch the whole time. On the plus side, this was one of the more effective and creative uses of the prompt, getting at the uncertainty of the outsider trying to get inside – literally. I saddled you with a pretty tricky song to use effectively, too.

Temptations

This isn’t a story, this is a vignette, and there isn’t anything at stake the whole time. Joshua’s already made his decision to see the movie before the story starts, and the only real uncertainty is if Rebecca will think he’s weird. (She doesn’t. Yay.) You’re packing dialogue like “You can hang your jacket over there, Frank will keep an eye on it” in here, and you packed a “he didn’t say” exposition thing in here, and this piece feels just-barely kept together. I do think there’s interesting things you could have done with a kid who’s into cinema but fighting religious dogma, but there needs to be higher stakes, a confrontation, or something more than what’s on the page right now.

Also, the real story behind this song is really, really interesting. This wasn’t.

A Mechanic

I kept waiting for something important to happen. It didn’t. Henry’s assigned to work in an assembly line, he’s given boring instructions, and he considers how much his life currently sucks. Then the story ends. With a prompt like this, the climax of the story should probably be the protagonist finding out if they’ve become an insider. It shouldn’t happen in the middle of the story with no resistance. I guess you’re trying to say something about the assembly line getting into Henry’s psychology, but this is another story that just doesn’t have anything holding it together – it’s just a sequence of events.

War

This also feels like a vignette. No one’s really changed between the beginning or the end of the story. This is just an exchange of ideas, followed by their contemplation. The prose is fine, but the story’s bogged down in ideas, when I need to see characters making decisions, taking action, having conversations to achieve their goals. This story is essentially the much-maligned TD trope of “heads talking in space.”

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


In and

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


thank you for the crit, sparksbloom!

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

In.

Quidthulhu
Dec 17, 2003

Stand down, men! It's only smooching!



A BAD IDEA.

HE.

I am in.

CUT TO:

Close up of pupil dilating; fear; a sweat drop runs down his temple.

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!


i read the first paragraph to this and felt like doing a line by line

Tyrannosaurus posted:

Country Feedback

The Cicada, Grief i like the title and its about the only interesting line u got in ur story
1111 words

Two years after his replace his with Cooper funeral (closed casket, drunk driver) i like the parentheses, no frills about it, just quick details short and sweet, Cooper replace Cooper with his or keep it the same came clawing his way out of the water and up onto his brother brother necessary? can you get it across a better way? Dale’s boat. Cooper was covered in the gross green muck that always seems to accumulate at the bottom of lakes in Alabama "in Alabama necessary? i know green poo poo is a common thing in most lakes, but placing it in the south might be important for the story i havent actually read ahead.. But other than that looked totally normal telling and also starting a sentence with but? c'mon now. Dale stared and didn’t know what to say. He held out his beer like it was an offering.

“Thanks,” Cooper croaked. He took the beer with a trembling hand and sipped it. Then he threw up something that wasn’t quite water and it wasn’t quite blood black and red and uncomfortable i dont like the construction of black (visual), red (visual) and uncomfortable (touch? maybe sight? uncomfortable's also very vague, why is it uncomfortable? is it visually? is it smelly, does it move weird, idk), needs a better word than uncomfortable, something concrete and vivid. Dale cranked the engine and steered the boat back towards shore. I'd really like to know what that thing is by the end of this scene btw

***

“The coffee’s old,” Dale said. “I’m sorry.” who cares?

“No, tastes good,” Cooper murmured between loud, messy gulps. “Tastes real. Tastes great.” He chugged it down until it there was nothing left but the dredges that stuck to bottom of the cup. He held the mug up in the air and tried to tongue out the remains. After a moment, he gave up and dug in with his ring finger. a lot of words/details to show that he likes the coffee He smiled at his brother. “Better than the memory. More?”

“Uh, sure,” Dale said. “I got, like, half a pot sitting in the kitchen.” ok, c'mon now, you got the setup now get to the story plz

“More. Yes.”

Cooper drank the coffee straight from the pot. Then he ate two and half boxes of oatmeal cream pies, half a loaf of bread, three different packs of lunch meats, a candy bar, a container of mayonnaise, a jar of pickles, five hardboiled egg, and all twelve of the frozen catfish sitting in the freezer cool list, but uhh where's the story?. He cleared out the kitchen save for the beer which he wouldn’t touch. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. like, you keep giving us details about things but nobody cares. who cares if he's eating a lot I want to learn something new that you haven't given us. His brother is alive after all this time and your focus is on him being hungry and liking coffee? can you give us something more, give us some conflict or reason to feel invested or some character development or SOMETHING?

“More?”

“I’d have to go the store,” Dale said. Your dialogue is usually good. This is phoning it in, hard. like all of Dale's dialogue is boring and simple and personality-less

“No,” Cooper said. “It’s okay. I’m sleepy now.” See, I'm kind of intrigued here, but not the good intrigue but more of the "wtf is even going on?" intrigue He clenched his teeth together. “No telephone, please. Secret. Shhh. Promise?” He bit down on his thumb and extended his pinkie finger. It was the way they had made unbreakable pacts back when they they were children. Dale bit his thumb and shook Cooper’s pinkie with his own. Ok, there's something I guess, do more of this please.

“Sure,” Dale said. “I won’t do nothing ‘till you wake up.”

Cooper nodded with great satisfaction. Then he closed his eyes and slept sitting straight up in the kitchen chair.

***

“I dreamed about high school. It was prom season and you were gonna take this wonderful girl. This creature of another world. She was blonde and beautiful. Cindy Jacobson. But she was my age and I was in love with her and somehow you found out, I don’t know how, but you found out, and you told me, ‘Coop, if you like her so drat much you can take her to the drat dance I don’t give a poo poo.’ And you didn’t go even though it was your senior year. I went with Cindy Jacobson and I danced with her all night and it was beautiful. And after the dance I took her out the field where me and you used to chase turkeys with sticks and we looked up at the stars and I told her, ‘Cindy I think I wanna marry you.’ Then I woke up.” hey look there's kinda something here too, great work on being interesting about halfway through ur drat story

Dale scratched his chin. “That actually happened,” he said. “That wudn’t no dream. That all happened.”

“Really?” Cooper whispered. “That was real? You didn’t go with her? You let me go with Cindy Jacobson?”

“Yeah.”

“Wow.” Cooper was almost breathless. “You were a good brother.”

“I had another date anyway. Older woman I met through Coach’s wife. Wudn’t a big deal.”

“It was to me. It meant so much to me.”

“Well, I’d hope so,” Dale laughed. “You remember you married Cindy, right?”

Cooper bit his knuckle. Slimy black tears ran down his cheeks and splashed onto the shirt Dale had loaned him. They left immediate stains. Dark. Ugly.

Really?” he whispered again.

“Yeah,” Dale said. “She’d probably like to talk to you. She hadn’t remarried or nothing since you… You know.” why the hell did you even have the last scene? what the gently caress was the point of this because now i'm actually kind of interested and what to know more and gently caress man this couldve been something but nope you gave me a lovely last scene thanks a bunch you idiot

Cooper nodded. He put his hands over his face and sobbed. Dale leaned back in his chair. His brother had never been the kind of man to cry. When they were teenagers, Cooper had tried to flip off the pier but had slipped and had snapped his arm in three places. Dale could see the jagged scar on his brother’s forearm. Cooper hadn’t shed a tear then.

“Are you my brother?” Dale asked.

Cooper looked up. His hands and cheeks were smudged with an inky blackness. He nodded.

“Are you my brother?” Dale repeated. yeah, I see what you're going for, but I think that you need to either go to one conflict or the other. you got the whole "dead guy trying to go back to his loved ones" and "this guy is a possible impostor" but i want one of them to be advanced instead of like mingled together and not really sure where either of them are going. basically, get to this sooner

Cooper didn’t respond and the men stared at one another across the kitchen table covered in dirty wrappers.

STOP ENDING YOUR SCENES AND GIVING ME BLUE BALLS JESUS CHRIST YOU GET TO AN INTERESTING PART WHERE ITS LIKE "oh no i wonder whats gonna happen now" and then *** and gently caress all the tension is lost and gently caress you

***

“Meatloaf,” Cooper said. rip my dear tension, you mightve made the story good

“Dad’s tobacco?”

“Copenhagen”

“What kind of Copenhagen?”

“Original Long Cut. Gold can. Not blue.”

“What’d we name our dog? The black one that ran away.”

“Trixie. Moonshine was the one that never ran.”

“What’d Mom threaten to hit us-”

“Wooden spoon.”

Dale pushed his chair away from the kitchen table. He stood up and walked to the window over the sink. He stared at the lake.

“What’s in the casket back at the cemetery?” he asked.

“A body,” Cooper said.

“Whose body?”

“Mine.”

“You mean Cooper’s body?”

“I am Cooper,” Cooper said. “I remember everything now.”

Dale shook his head. wait when was this occuring? did this happen like after the conversation or later orrrrrrr im confused. also im not even sure this is really even needed because it kind of just repeats the earlier ideas of "i dont think my brother is really my brother" and the brother's like nah i am

***

Dale chucked his can the pier into the lake oh hey i like the callback to that earlier moment in the story and the ripples cracked the perfect white reflection of the moon. He popped open another beer. They were both barefoot with their toes dipped into the shimmering, cool waters. Like when they were kids. And teenagers. And young men.

“You look just like him,” Dale slurred. “Just like him. What would happen if I cut you, though?” Dale ran a finger over his own cheek. “Slick. Across the face. Would you bleed?” uhhh kinda weird and almost too out of character despite being drunk

“I would bleed, yes.”

“What color?”

“I don’t know,” Cooper said softly. “Red, maybe. I hope red.”

Dale drank deep and was quiet for a long time. “I miss my brother,” he said. He had never been the kind of man to cry either. But he was drunk and staring at his brother’s face. “I miss him every day, you know that? I swear to God, I think about you everyday, Coop. I miss you so drat much, man. I miss you. So. drat. Much.” idk about this, i wish i got a better of dale through this whole story. im not feeling this like i should be even though there's some real emotions in here i guess. its just, dale's kind of scattered as a character and ur not sure what you wanted to do with him.

“I missed you, too, Dale.”

“I miss my brother, man.”

“I am your brother,” Cooper said. He reached out and put his arm around Dale’s shoulders. Dale let out a cry and wrapped his arms around Cooper and sobbed into his chest. They squeezed each other tight under the light of the moon and anyone who would have seen them would have sworn they were brothers. and blue balls again. i need an answer man, or at least something. you just keep dancing around the point of "is he the brother or is he not?" but nothing's really learned or gained from this. like, dale doesnt really change or learn anything new about himself besides maybe he misses his brother? but you could push that further, figure out something you want to say about missing his brother, that maybe it's the fact that even though he misses his brother, he needs to give up and not accept an impostor or that he doesnt actually miss his brother and is glad hes gone or idk something more. you dont really need to resolve the mystery, but something needs to be gained and im not rly feeling that anything's been gained or changed throughout the course of this story.

my other main point is figure out what you want to do and what your focus is. bring in the conflict of is this dale's brother or not early in the story, keep that the main conflict throughout the whole story, and develop dale to be something more of a human early on because i feel like most of the character establishment is more solid in the last half

flerp fucked around with this message at 07:15 on Apr 16, 2016

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Oh yeah, signups closed a while ago. So don't sign up. Or do? Anyway, everyone write good stories, please.

Oh oh yeah, I still need a 3rd judge. If you've never judged before and want to, I'd be happy to have you aboard (because if I have to suffer then I should be able to make other people suffer too).

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 15:35 on Apr 16, 2016

Maugrim
Feb 16, 2011

I eat your face



Sitting Here posted:

Oh oh yeah, I still need a 3rd judge.

Hello I heard this is the worst week & am a masochist

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


Maugrim posted:

Hello I heard this is the worst week & am a masochist

Welcome aboard this is gonna be great

I mean, when has TD ever hosed up a prompt

yeah it's gonna be awesome

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


as the acknowledged tdome master of magical reelism i can advise that the best way to do it is poop on a page in the shape of words then add wizards/elves.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


Sitting Here posted:

Welcome aboard this is gonna be great

I mean, when has TD ever hosed up a prompt

yeah it's gonna be awesome

it's me, i'm the loving Dead Man

Chairchucker
Nov 14, 2006

The man was stunningly well dressed. He had a smart looking jacket, and a really neat looking cape, the lining of which was shimmering and sparkling in more than Oriental splendour, which is a great deal of splendour indeed, just ask Kipling.

No-Fly Zone 777 words

The first time Farmer Stu went and saw the mayor, it was to file a zoning permit to have his farm declared a no-fly zone.

“I don’t really know what that means,” said Mayor Jarred. He brushed a large paw nervously through his mane.

“It means no one can fly over my farm,” said Stu. “It’s bad for the crops. And the animals.”

“What animals do you have?”

“Well, at the moment it’s just the hops,” said Stu. “But if I did decide to have chickens or something, I’m sure the noise would bother them.”

“How would we even enforce that?” asked Jarred. “I mean, do you know how much ‘over’ there is over your farm? It’s an infinite amount of over. I mean, space is huge. There could be anyone flying up there and we wouldn’t know.”

“Don’t be silly,” said Stu. “There’s no one up there.”

“But how can we be sure?” asked Jarred. “I saw a documentary on space, and it sounded like it was, just, super big.” He nervously picked at his teeth with the leg bone of a gazelle.

“How about just for a kilometre above my farm?” asked Stu.

“How do we measure that? Do we have, like, a net or something?”

“A net? How would that even work?”

“I don’t know,” said Jarred. “I don’t know how anything would work to measure distance in the air.”

“Let me worry about that,” said Stu.

“All right,” said Jarred. He signed off on the permit with a huge paw-print. Stu very carefully left the paper to dry, as putting that much ink on the page at once could make the paper a little fragile.

You also had to leave a huge amount of space for the signature, it was really inconvenient. Honestly, if he wasn’t afraid that Jarred might badly maul or eat him if provoked, he’d raise some serious questions about the wisdom of voting him as mayor. He had no prior experience at all.

~

When Stu got back to his farm, he started putting the signs up. The problem with putting up no-fly signs is that they needed to be big enough to be seen from the air. He’d thought about growing his hops in such a way that they spelt the words out, but that would only work for part of the year, and besides, they weren’t really a good sign colour. In the end he’d done it using all the colours of the wind, which is a lot more difficult than you might think, and involved a lot of parachute cloth.

~

The second time Farmer Stu went and saw the mayor, it was to file an injunction against Michael.

“What’s an injunction?”

“It’s a thing that makes someone stop doing a thing,” said Stu.

“What’s the thing?”

“He keeps flying over my farm.”

“Oh, is this about that no-fly zone? I thought that was just for planes.”

“It doesn’t specify that on the permit,” said Stu, “so he’s in violation of the law.”

Jarred shook his head. He was starting to regret taking this job. He probably would’ve been happier on the plains of Africa hunting zebras, or working as a sales consultant. “Try to sort it out yourself, first, all right? Just talk to him.”

“Pfft, talk to him? Please.”

“What, because he’s a dragon?”

“What? No. Some of my best friends are dragons. But he’s just kind of aloof. Doesn’t seem to take anything seriously.”

“Once you get to know him, he has a serious side too. But if you can’t be bothered to at least try talking to him, I’m not going to bother raising any paperwork.”

“All right, fine.”

~

The first time Michael went and saw the mayor, he’d just eaten Stu. “Morning, boss.”

“Just ‘Jarred’ is fine. What’s this I hear about you eating Stu?”

Michael thought for a moment. “He’s the guy with the farm, right?”

“He was, yeah.”

“Yep. Yeah, I did eat him. Sorry about that.”

Jarred frowned. “You can’t just go around eating people.”

“Sorry. Won’t happen again, I promise. It’s just, he was yelling at me and, well, when I get sad I eat.”

Jarred sighed. “Normally I’d have to do something about this, but I really don’t wanna do the paperwork, so just don’t do it again, all right?”

Michael shook his head. “I won’t. You know, man, I’m not sure why you went for this job. I always saw you as more of a hands on guy like a carpenter, or maybe a ruthless predator stalking herbivores and killing them for food.”

Jarred shrugged. “I’m a servant of the people, man.”

DurianGray
Dec 23, 2010

King of Fruits


Falling Star 1,005 words

Someone was still standing outside of Crane’s office door. The silhouette on the other side of the frosted glass looked to be a man, probably young. Definitely nervous.

“It's open.” Crane finally called. He almost smiled when the man jumped.

After a moment the man came in, head bowed. He was young, barely 30 if Crane had to guess. His eyes were bloodshot and it looked like he hadn’t changed his clothes in a few days. But few people who walked into this office ever looked their best.

Crane poured a second glass of liquor out and pushed it across his desk before gesturing for the man to take a seat. He did smile when the man finally looked at him and startled again. Although, smiling probably didn’t help because the man stayed where he was.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Crane, I didn’t—” the man started.

“Yeah, I know, kid. ‘What’s a dragon doing in the private investigation business?’ Let’s just say I made a few bad investments in my time and now I’ve got to put food on the table just like everyone else.” Crane sat back in his chair and scratched his snout with a long, dull claw. “Now what’s got you lurking outside my door this late on a Thursday night? Owe some money to the wrong people? Girl troubles?” He looked the man over again, “Boy troubles? I’m not gonna judge.”

With a few short steps, the man finally sat down and took the liquor glass in both hands, staring into it like an alley-way fortune teller. “My girlfriend, she—” he stopped as his voice hitched, shoulders shaking. He took a sip of the liquor, cringing. “Gin?”

Crane shrugged and drained his own glass before pouring himself a generous serving. He was probably going to need it the way this kid was worked up.

The man cleared his throat and continued, “she’s dead. At least I’m pretty sure she’s dead.”

The dragon sighed. “Sounds like a job for the cops. You do know what a private eye does, right?”

The man gave him a look that wasn’t entirely dissimilar to the expression of the last half-frozen sea bass Crane had seen while browsing the downtown fish market. Crane resettled his wings before rubbing the scales between his eyes.

“Ok listen, if you need to report a missing person or God forbid a murder, you need to go down to the police station. This really isn’t the kind of thing—”

“She’s a star.”

“What?” Crane squinted and pushed his glass of gin away.

“I mean an actual,” the man mimed a large sphere in front of himself, “star. Except not anymore. Something… someone did something and she’s a black hole now.” He reached into his jacket and pulled out a large envelope, handing it across the desk to Crane. “I tried the cops but they said her solar system was out of their jurisdiction. Then I tried some local astronomers and they gave me that. Open it.”

Crane took the envelope and opened it gingerly so the thin paper didn’t catch on his scales. He’d had to pay for more than one library book because of that. A series of glossy 8x10"s were inside, each one showing what looked to him to be nothing. Just an expanse of near darkness, or an extremely underexposed photo, it was hard to say which. “You’re gonna have to tell me what I’m looking at,” he said after staring at each of the photos for what seemed a polite amount of time.

The man leaned forward quickly and took a photo, pointing to a slightly less black region of the picture, “This here, this is something the astronomers saw. It’s an image caught in her event horizon, I think it’s her murderer. I know it’s hard to make out but that’s where you come in.”

The dragon kept his eyes on the photograph. He knew exactly what he’d see if he looked up. That look of desperate hope he’d seen a hundred times before. He didn’t have the heart to see it again. “Did she have any enemies?” He asked.

“No.” The man almost sounded surprised. “She's the sweetest thing you’d ever met. She donates to the local animal shelter every year for crissake.” He made a strange choked noise, and with his voice cracking said, “we’d just gotten engaged. I bought the ring and everything. She just… exploded she was so happy!”

Crane looked up now, sharply. “Do you mean she went supernova?” Hell if this wasn’t the only thing he remembered from fifth grade science class.

“Super— Oh my God. Oh my God.” The man looked like he’d been shot. “I did it. It’s my fault she’s dead, isn’t it?” Before Crane could speak the man was sobbing, coughing and spluttering all over the desk and the 8x10" glossies.

He went on like that for a while and Crane waited, sipping his gin until the man was only snuffling and hiccuping.

“You know,” Crane said, “just because she’s different doesn’t necessarily mean she’s dead. You should try talking to her, give her a call and see what happens. I’m guessing you probably haven’t tried since she went dark.”

The man looked up at Crane and shook his head. “I just assumed… her light was there one day and gone the next, I thought-”

“You might just think too much, kid. You want my opinion as a professional? Go home, take a shower and get some rest. Call up your fiancee in the morning. She’s probably wondering where the hell you’ve been.”

“Thank you, Mr. Crane,” The man stood, scrambling to collect the wet photographs off the desk, “thank you so much.”

“Don’t mention it. Now get out of here and let me know if I was right when you get a chance. Otherwise I’ll take your case pro bono.”

The man nodded and thanked him again before leaving.

Crane smiled. It was a good day when he could solve a case without leaving his office.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010


writers should not be afraid of thunderdome
THUNDERDOME SHOULD BE AFRAID OF WRITERS


Moonside

Archives

Thranguy fucked around with this message at 03:37 on Jun 19, 2016

Armack
Jan 27, 2006


Flash rule: Nor your ingenious recreance to think We cherish, in the life that is to come, The scattered features of dead friends again. ** Never until our souls are strong enough To plunge into the crater of the Scheme -- Triumphant in the flash there to redeem Love's handsel and forevermore to slough, Like cerements at a played-out masque, the rough And reptile skins of us whereon we set The stigma of scared years -- are we to get

[Redacted]
2,344 words

Armack fucked around with this message at 23:22 on May 9, 2016

Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

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


The Boy Who Couldn't Do Anything Right
2100 words

“Pass me the salt,” Ma said.

It was another demonstration. The entire Tommenek clan stared at Fenten as if he was about to do a magic trick, and Fenten himself stared at the salt shaker as if he could just focus and the drat thing would move on its own. Because otherwise, he’d have to do it. He’d reach for the shaker, and he’d knock it over, and once again Ma would sit back and suppress her smile, try to seem disappointed, because that boy just couldn’t do anything right.

He lifted his hand, and he reached out. Slowly. Carefully. As if he was picking up the shaker with a pair of pincers. It was light, cool. He had it. Maybe he really could--

It slipped, and white salt spilled all over the table, candlelight throwing tiny shadow pebbles across the ornate tablecloth, as if the dinner scene had been peppered as well.

All the eyes now wandered over to Ma, who leaned back in her chair and fondled her armrest. She sighed, and she was altogether very disappointed.

“Don’t worry, dear,” Uncle Stewart said. He put a hand on Ma’s arm. “Tomorrow we give him to the dragon, and then your worries are gone.”

But the poor woman was not consolable. She pulled herself away and went back to her undersalted venison, drowned it in gravy, buried it beneath dumplings. It was an opulent feast. It was Fenten’s funeral, after all. Although they’d called it a farewell party.

Because those who are given to the dragon do not return.

The toppled salt shaker winked at him in the flicker, and Fenten reached out, slowly, but Uncle Stewart slapped his wrist.

“Have you not embarrassed us enough?” he said.

“Sorry.” Fenten looked back down on his plate. His venison cut lay untouched in a sea of gravy, surrounded by islands of potatoes and hashed beets. The dinner had been prepared by his sisters Macy and Louise – all day they’d worked in the kitchen, joking about the things the dragon would do to him – and they had also arranged the plates, and Fenten just knew that he would screw it up if he’d try to eat. Maybe a piece of meat would slide off his fork and splash gravy over Uncle Stewart’s flamboyant suit, or maybe a potato would slip off the plate, fly right into Grandpa Lou’s open mouth, suffocating him, and it would all be Fenten’s fault. Or maybe he’d just use the wrong fork. As far as his people were concerned, it was all the same.

The dinner went on without his participation, and everyone’s mood was as fine as the food until all the plates were empty, except his, and Uncle Stewart did not fail to remark how ungrateful Fenten was, to not even touch the meal that had been prepared in his honor. And then they drank their spirits and they toasted to Fenten, and he nodded back at them and said thanks, and then he excused himself. And as he went up to bed, he slipped on the stairs. Just slightly, but he knew, behind him, Ma would turn to the others, and she would shake her head.

Because that boy just couldn’t do anything right.

#

The next day they dressed him in a fancy suit, ruffled sleeves and tie and all, and they put him on a cart, because if he’d go there by himself, he’d never get there. They pulled him to the cave of the dragon, all the while they sung the songs of those that are about to pass, usually reserved for the sick or elderly.

[i]How good it was to know you,
How sad to let you go…[i]

The dragon’s cave lay at the foot of the Mountain of Fae. There’d been fairies here once, but then the dragon had moved in and eaten them all, or so the story goes. The entrance was a wide open maw that led down into pitch-black, tickled by the faint flicker of distant torches further down.

Fenten’s fingers dug into the edges of his cart. He couldn’t run anyway. He’d screw it up anyway.

His clan dragged him further down the entrance, a rocky crevice just wide enough for the cart. A faint rumble emerged, like a giant snoring far away, and it mixed with the many echoes of his family and their songs, and the louder it got the more there was an audible rise and fall in it, rise and fall, and then he realized: it was the dragon’s breath that mixed with theirs. It seemed to encircle them, like a summer ghost, warm touch on his shoulders and face and neck, so gentle it almost made him feel comfortable through his fear, and then the rumble got so loud there was no more point in singing.

They had arrived at the dragon’s cave.

It was like the inside of a diamond, sparkling jagged edges all around, stalactites and stalagmites of all sizes and shapes and colors dipping the cave in vibrant colors. The dragon’s scales shone like patches of oil on a sea, many rainbows shimmering against the crystal lights. The dragon was as tall as ten men, and he sat in his diamond cave and looked down on them, waiting.

“Hello, Sir Dragon,” Ma said, slowly, and hesitantly, because none of them had ever seen the dragon before, let alone knew how to address him.

“Mhhh. Another reject?” The dragon’s voice was soft, but with a clangorous note to it, as if it was reverberating through the diamonds around them, clinging and throwing echoes from all the facets of the cave’s stone tapestry. “What’s the matter with him?”

“I’m--” Fenten started, but Ma cut him off: “The boy can’t do anything right.”

“Anything?”

“He is a burden on the family,” Uncle Stewart agreed.

“So you say.” The dragon looked Fenten up and down, and when their eyes locked, a calm came over him, like the dragon’s gaze had muted his racing heart. “Get off the wagon, boy.”

Fenten got up and promptly fell off the cart, slamming into the ground like a wet towel.

“See?” Ma said.

“Yes, very impressive. Now, if you will excuse us.”

Fenten fished for his mother’s dress. He didn’t want to be left here, not with the dragon. He didn’t want to be the family’s forgotten shame, to be someone they’d pretend never had existed, the black sheep nobody would miss.

He didn’t want to die here.

But she just moved her leg away, ripped herself free from his grip. All had been said and done. There was no going back after a farewell party.

“It’s better like this,” she said, and her voice even seemed a bit shaky there. “Now for once in your life, be good and stay here.”

They disappeared swiftly and unceremoniously. Some nodded at him, a final goodbye, or at least a casual acknowledgement of their departure, but altogether they left with nothing but their escape in mind, like a group of people who’d just dropped big rocks off their shoulders.

The dragon still mustered Fenten, and the way his wings moved, slowly folding and unfolding, made him seem pensive. “Well,” he said. He blew vibrant fumes out his nostrils, and the rainbow fog hung in the air like an unfinished sentence.

Fenten swallowed. “Are you going to eat me?”

“I don’t think so. Can you walk in a straight line?”

“Probably not. I can’t do anything right.”

“I would like you to try.”

Anything was better than being eaten. So Fenten got up, and he started to walk, and he got as far as five or six steps before he tripped over his own feet. He brought up his arms just in time. If there was anything he was good at, it was falling.

“Peculiar,” the dragon said. “Now we try something else. “First, climb on my back.”

The dragon’s rainbow texture made him probably seem more slippery than he really was. Still, he was tall as three houses, and Fenten had never been much of a climber, for obvious reasons.

“Is there a problem?” the dragon said, not in any way agitated or authoritative, but Fenten twitched anyway.

“You are so tall, and there are no footholds. How am I supposed to--”

“Here,” the dragon said, and he turned the front part of his body sideways, exposing his flank, where a pylon-shaped crystal about Fenten’s size seemed to grow out of his side. “You can hold on to my wings for half the way, but then they will extend too far outwards. You have to step on the diamond and continue from there. Just do not upset it under any circumstances, for it is already cracked, and fragile. It cannot be allowed to slip out.”

The dragon unfolded his wings again and brought them down, like glamorous rainbow sails pushing against the wind, in a wide arc around the dragon’s body. He lowered them to the ground, and Fenten held on and rode back up half the way, where he jumped off, landed on the crystal, and instantly tipped it down. The dragon groaned.

“I’m sorry,” Fenten said. But the pylon was not done moving. There were vibrations below his feet, like a mid-air earthquake, and then cracks rippled through the stone’s surface, and then the tip broke off, and then the entire back half, and as Fenten ran away from the destruction, towards the dragon’s body, he tipped the pylon even further down, and further, until it finally slid out and the dragon’s roar rattled the crystals all across the cave.

For a second, Fenten fell freely.

But the impact wasn’t hard. Instead, he found himself sitting inside a rainbow sail, surrounded by diamond dust. The dragon had brought his wings down just in time.

“I don’t--” Fenten said. “I mean I didn’t mean to--”

“It’s alright,” the dragon said. He slid Fenten off his wing. “This crystal has been a thorn in my side for many years. I cannot reach there, and nobody has ever managed to remove it.”

“But you said…”

“Fenten. The problem with people like you is not what you accomplish. The problem is what we expect of you. What you expect of yourself. See, sometimes, one person’s wrong is another person’s right.”

“So you’re not going to eat me?”

“I don’t eat people, boy. I help them find their place. And your place is with your family. Now, this may sound odd, but give me your shirt.”

Fenten tried to take it off, but it clung to him, so tightly, that he could only lift it part of the way. And as he did, the dragon moved his wings again, and diamond dust rained down, landing in Fenten’s held-up shirt, enough to feed his family for years, or maybe forever.

“This is so generous of you. I don’t know what to say.”

“It is fine,” the dragon said. “Just remember what you learned today. And if you ever find someone in need of my help, tell them where to find me.”

“I promise.”

“Now go back to your family, but remember: fall down every step of the way, and lose your diamond dust before you can give it to your mother.” The way he’d said that last word did not make it seem like he held much love for her. “If you even want to.”

And Fenten did. He “fell” back all the way, outside the cave, one missed slip-up after another, and the diamond dust remained safe and sound in his shirt, until he was back outside in the cool air, the chirping of birds replacing the constant rise and fall of the dragon’s breath, and Fenten’s family stood outside, huddled around Ma, who seemed to have broken down crying a while ago, and they all had their mouth agape at the sight of him.

“The dragon… we heard the roar,” Uncle Stewart said. “We thought…”

“I’m sorry,” Ma said. She inched towards Fenten, and now it was her who pulled on his trousers. “I’m so sorry. I thought you were dead. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s okay Ma,” he said. “Look what the dragon gave me.” And he knelt down next to Ma, and he showed them the diamond dust, and their mouths opened even wider.

“drat,” Uncle Stewart said. “Just drat. We sent you there to… and you… who would have thought.”

“That’s my boy,” Ma said then, and she ruffled Fenten’s hair and sniffled. “Can’t do anything right, my boy.”

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo


Flash rule please SH

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


Flash rule: clinging to the mast of his vessel; now, as I invoke the memory of past years, I feel that I would make the same choice again. No other guiding principle is so safe, or leads to such rich reward. The spectacle of your life, which, for all the romance and poetry with which you invest it, still remains based on nothing but a ruthless selfishness, has helped to strengthen my convictions. This is the last time I shall speak to you in this way; but I could not refrain from once more pleading with you when I found that your happiness had been proof against the most searching of all trials.

And one more point I must urge on you, suggested by my meditations on your retirement. Life, whether of the body or the heart, consists i

11:11
1,347 words

It’s not like Morgan was a superstitious person before Oliver started riding to work on his pet dragon. He’d maintained that he’d 11:11-wished Waffles right into existence.

Waffles the dragon.

Morgan thinks that’s cute, and she also thinks it’s cute that Oliver’d been wishing for a dragon – that he didn’t wish for, say, infinite riches, or immortality, or a gorgeous lover. He’d wished for something right out of a fantasy novel.

That’s why each day Morgan sets an alarm on her phone to let her know when it’s 11:10. She constructs the image in her head, cooking it up so it’d be ready on time. She takes the fizzy feelings from her chest and places them in Oliver’s, and she thinks “I want Oliver to fall in love with me.”

She’s considered less selfish wishes, too, peace for the whole world, freedom from disease, the collapse of late-stage capitalism. But she doesn’t want those things the way she wants Oliver to fall in love with her.

---

At work there’s a stir when Alexis, the intern, comes into the office with a pair of wings. They’re gossamer soft, but monstrously big. She can barely get through the front door, and when she finally squeezes through there’s tears of pain in her ears. But Oliver seems instantly smitten. The two lunch together, gossiping in the Wish Came True club, and Morgan’s jealous as hell. She watches from the office window as Alexis does a barrel roll in the parking lot, to the attentive notice of Oliver and Waffles.

Why hasn’t her wish come true yet? Morgan wonders if there’s some lottery process involved that no one told her about. Oliver’d told her all he’d done was make a wish every day and night at 11:11. It makes her so restless she drops by Oliver’s desk, right before the end of the day, and asks him.

“How long were you wishing for?” Morgan asks Oliver. “Before the wish came true.”

“Gosh,” he says, “I don’t really remember. It’s just been something I’d been making silly wishes for forever. Alexis tells me that she was the same way. She’d always wanted to fly, and now she’s finally gotten the chance. Isn’t that special?

It’s all Alexis can do to choke back the nausea.

On the way home from work that day, Alexis flies alongside Oliver’s dragon. Morgan watches their flight from her car and the burning rage fries up her insides.

---

“is it everything you’d hoped it would be?” Morgan asks Oliver one day. They’re sitting in the break room, both of them drinking Lipton tea.

“I mean,” he says, “I hadn’t anticipated the challenges. Like food. Waffles eats rocks, but she needs so many of them, I’m spending a fortune getting them shipped. Or, well—“

He unbuttons his shirt and pulls back his collar to reveal some nasty looking burns on his right arm.

“From her?” Morgan says. Oliver nods “That must hurt.”

“It does. But she’s the very first dragon. And she’s mine, and I love her. And everyone gets to see me riding her, and everyone wants to get to touch the dragon… it’s really good. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But yeah, it’s work.”

He falls silent, and for a minute they share a comfortable silence, as Morgan considers the reality of dragon ownership. But then Alexis swings open the break room door, shuffles sideways through the frame, and ruffles Oliver’s hair. She doesn’t even look at Morgan..

---

Morgan starts wishing more forcefully, less dreamily. She doesn’t have a lifetime to wait. Oliver’s falling deeper and deeper in love with Alexis every day. They travel to and from work together, side by side in the air. Sometimes Morgan’s just driving through the city, taking care of errands, when she catches sight of the dragon, her rider, and the speck beside it in the sky.

Some nights Morgan stares at her phone starting at 10:30, willing for it to be 11:11 at last so she can make her wish, cross her fingers, and hope that this time will be the one.[/b]

But months pass, and Oliver doesn’t move past “friendly and cordial” with Morgan. And Morgan’s pretty sure that he’s actually an item with Alexis now. She tries not to think about the intimacy they must share, the only two folks given the gift of flight on earth. Why hadn’t she wished for something special like that? It was too late now to switch courses, though: it had to be “I want Oliver to fall in love with me,” or nothing at all.

---

Oliver and Alexis are getting married. The whole office knows. Not that anyone had seen it fit to tell Morgan personally; no, she got the news by eavesdropping on office gossip. “What a pair,” people say.

But Morgan won’t stop now. She’s going to keep wishing. “I want Oliver to fall in love with me” in the late mornings, in meetings or while she’s writing reports. “I want Oliver to fall in love with me” when she’s staying up a little too late in bed, watching Netflix loud enough to shut down the noise of the neighbor kids.

I want Oliver to fall in love with me.
I want Oliver to fall in love with me.
I want Oliver to fall in love with me.


She doesn’t even get a wedding invitation. No one else in the office does, either, but she’s believed she was at least a little bit special to him, even if he needed some wish-guided help realizing it. But nope. Not special enough to rate.

Sometimes I want Alexis to drop dead starts creeping in there. She imagines all the ways it could happen – she’s especially partial to Alexis flying too close to the sun and plummeting to earth. But that’s a nasty thought. And Morgan can’t bear to let something so nasty interrupt a ritual so pure.

I want Oliver to fall in love with me.

---

And one day he does. Not until a year or two after he’s married to Alexis and gotten a small child and another on the way. But one day, Morgan is about to head to lunch and then Oliver stops her, grabs her hand in the hall, and asks Morgan if she might want to take a little ride on Waffles.

It’s elation, it’s all the elation she thought she’d feel in this moment, when the wish finally caught. When the rush recedes she’s still glowing as they walk out the back entrance of the office, toward the snarling dragon scratching itself in the parking lot. It’s a sunny day, and the sun illuminates Oliver’s face. It’s windswept, more haggard than she’s been remembering it, not the angelic visage she’d been picturing in her twice-daily visions.

But it’s not about that, it’s about his giddy glee as he helps Morgan into Waffles’s saddle, or the way he whistles the Harry Potter score as the dragon takes off. And it’s about looking down from Waffles as they’re three hundred feet off the ground, and seeing a tiny speck that must be Alexis gawking up at them in the parking lot. Oh, there’s pity in there, and yeah, maybe a tinge of guilt. But it’s mostly the crowing I won feeling of triumph inside her.

At least, that’s what she feels until Oliver looks back at Morgan with this gaze of limitless sorrow, yells something that gets lost in the wind, and tosses himself from the side of the dragon.

Morgan shrieks as Oliver’s body tumbles through the air, and the dragon, without no master and just a rowdy stranger, ascends higher and higher. And as Morgan’s ears pop, she peers down and sees not Oliver’s body, splatted on the pavement, but instead Alexis, fluttering her wings and holding Oliver in her arms.

Waffles takes her higher and higher into the atmosphere, and as the air thins and her consciousness flickers, Morgan makes one last wish.

[i]I want Oliver to go to Hell with me.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


newtestleper posted:

Flash rule please SH

bottom o' the bo't, getting by to catch hold of the sheet an' untie it. He wasn't but a little man; I helped him right up after the squall passed, and made a handsome apology to him, but he did act kind o' offended."

"I do think they ought not to settle them landlocked folks in parishes where they're liable to be on the water," insisted Mrs. Fosdick. "Think of the families in our parish that was scattered all about the bay, and what a sight o' sails you used to see, in Mr. Dimmick's day, standing across to the mainland on a pleasant Sunday morning, filled with church-going folks, all sure to want him some time or other! You couldn't find no doctor that would

Jonked
Feb 15, 2005

by exmarx


come--along about sundown. He said Jubiter pestered him and aggravated him till he was so mad he just sort of lost his mind and grabbed up a stick and hit him over the head with all his might, and Jubiter dropped in his tracks. Then he was scared and sorry, and got down on his knees and lifted his head up, and begged him to speak and say he wasn't dead; and before long he come to, and when he see who it was holding his head, he jumped like he was 'most scared to death, and cleared the fence and tore into the woods, and was gone. So he hoped he wasn't hurt bad.

and

the importunities, the indelicacies, of which my desire to possess myself of Jeffrey Aspern's papers had rendered me capable I need not shrink from confessing this last indiscretion. I think it was the worst thing I did; yet there were extenuating circumstances. I was deeply though doubtless not disinterestedly anxious for more news of the old lady, and Miss Tita had accepted from me, as it were, a rendezvous which it might have been a point of honor with me to keep. It may be said that her leaving the place dark was a positive sign that she released me, and to this I can only reply that I desired not to be released.

The door of Miss Bordereau's room was open and I could see beyond it the


You, Me, and the Body, 936 words

“Oh poo poo, you killed me!” Frank said, staring at his body.

“No, I didn’t! You’re still breathing,” I muttered in reply. I reached down and felt his pulse. Weak, and unsteady. “Your heart’s still beating too.”

“Are you nuts? You busted my skull open. I’m bleeding all over the place. Why did you kill me?” He was yelling now, pulling at his hair. I ignored him, and pulled his jacket off. Pressing it against the head wound stopped the bleeding for a little bit, but I couldn’t move him and keep pressure at the same time. I really wished Luther was here now. The whole operation was hosed.

“Are you going to leave me there?” Frank asked. “Come on, man. That’s hosed. My kid lives over there.”

“You’re the jackass who deals right next door to his baby momma’s,” I muttered. I should leave him, cut my losses and take the consequences. I was already hosed, trying to recover was just going to put me further into the poo poo.

“I would’ve given you the stuff. You didn’t need to gently caress me up.” He was pacing around now, freaking out. I ignored him - self-evidently, he hadn’t given me the stuff, since I had a rapidly dying body at my feet. I fished the cash and the product out of his pocket, wrapped it in a plastic bag, and stuck it under the dumpster.

“Come on, man, at least call the police,” Frank pleaded.

“Shut up, I’m not leaving you. Just… loving shut up man, ‘kay?” I picked him up over the shoulders, just like they taught us in the service. He was skin and bones, dried out and empty from the dope, but a body is a body. I almost dropped him a few times before we made it to the car. I shoved him into the backseat, as best I could to keep his head secure.

Frank sat in the front seat and stared at me. At least he had shut up like I asked, but I could feel him bursting at the seams.

“The gently caress is it?” I said, sighing.

“Are you taking me to Doc Roy?” He asked. “Roy isn’t going to like this, you know.”

“gently caress no, if I was taking you to Doc Roy I should just leave you there. Sawbones isn’t going to do jack for you.” I looked back. He was still breathing, I think, and the head wound wasn’t bleeding as much. That didn’t give me much comfort, but better than nothing.

“Are you dumping me? Come on, man, at least let Roy try. Don’t just dump me!” He folded his hands, like he was praying to me.

“Shut the gently caress up, Frank,” I muttered. “I’m not dumping you. I’m taking you to St. Marg’s. Just… keep your mouth shut.”

And to his credit, he did. It wasn’t a long drive, maybe a mile of empty city streets. The red lights gave me enough time to contemplate, though. I considered texting Luther about the bag and the Dragon about the gently caress up, but didn’t want to risk it. I had sneaking suspicion that my phone was going to become evidence.

“You going to drop me off at the entrance and run?” Frank asked. I ignored him. There was always a cop on duty, waiting nearby, for poo poo like that. No, I was going have to face the consequences. At least my car was clean - and it was my car. Taking the lazy easy route was actually not loving me over for once.

“You’re a good guy, you know,” Frank muttered. “Most guys would have been too scared of my uncle finding out, left me there. I really appreciate it.”

“gently caress you, I’m the one who put you back there,” I yelled, thumb hooked towards the backseat. “And gently caress your uncle for making me do it.”

I regretted the words as soon as they were out of my mouth. Frank gaped, like I had just punched him in the stomach and he couldn’t get his breath back. The tears came next, ugly snotty things that disappeared into dust as they dripped off his face. He was silent, even as he sobbed.

“I’m sorry,” I muttered. “I shouldn’t have told you that.”

“W-why?”

I sighed. “He wanted you out of the business, for your own protection. He didn’t like that habit you had. So he figured a masked mugger putting you in the hole...”

“Jesus. JESUS!” He slammed his fists against the dashboard so hard they almost made a noise. “That lying bastard! The Dragon of Eastside, more like the loving RAT! How could he?”

“He wanted to protect you,” I said again. Frank shot me a look of pure disgust and annoyance. Lucky for me, we were at St. Marg’s already. I jumped out, arms waving frantically, as two EMS rushed over.

Frank’s eyes had a glassed over look to them, and he wasn’t breathing. The EMS did a good job of pretending it wasn’t a hopeless task, and wheeled him away. I took a seat and made myself comfortable.

“I’m not getting up, am I?” Frank asked.

“I’m not a doctor,” I replied. Then, “No, probably not. Sorry I couldn’t get here faster.”

“Should I… go with the body?”

I shrugged. “I wouldn’t mind the company. But, well, I don’t know. I’ve never been in your position.”

We watched the police officer talk to the nurse, then an EMS, throwing me an occasional glance. “What are you going to say?” Frank asked.

I shrugged again. “Any suggestions?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been in your position.”

rear end in a top hat,” I laughed.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

This is the way that it all falls.
This is how I feel,
This is what I need:



Monday Night Meltdown (No flash rule, 1543 words):


The twelve foot bull-headed champ entered to a shower of fireworks. He hurtled through the iridescent blue barrier into the ring, all six hundred pounds, chestnut fur, and yellow spandex suit. The crowd went wild at this surprise #1 pick.

"Looks we're getting some entertainment early, Slim!" Kravitz looked into the ring with his good eye and listened in with his good ear. He was a brawler from the old human league, just as it'd incorporated with monster brawl. His first and last fight in that league showed itself in the flesh-slick now composing half his face.

Manotaur hit the ring and the PA cued into his theme song, hair metal screaming about a real demon while a guitar solo cheesed its way under the vocals.

"Manotaur's old school, pure class! He trained with the best of the human league right before integration and tonight's his last fight!!"

"All we've got now is seeing who's coming up as number two! And it's, it's, no, Kravitz, no! And we've got The Labyrinth in here!" Slim, unable to reach the announcer table over his gut, thumped his armrests emphatically.

A seven foot, headless man, his torso constantly-churning stone maze, leapt through the blue barrier ahead of a backing music of funereal chants. He charged toward Manotaur, rotating arms raised, as the announcers continued.

The Labyrinth charged Manotaur and hit the half-bull at the torso, his puzzle still turning. Manotaur reeled into the turnbuckle.

"Cool it on the rhetoric, Slim!" Kravitz was on his feet. "Manotaur's being set up for, for, for, the Puzzle Box!"

"Aaaand, here it comes! Is this an unceremonious end for Manotaur?!" Slim had the mic clutched close to his mouth, nestled between his breasts.

The Labyrinth's puzzle stopped turning, its pieces aligning to reveal a hole in his torso. He leaned back, then noisily vomited a red-grey fluid from the black space inside the puzzle. Manotaur leapt away a moment too late. The vomit had melted the turnbuckle entirely and had burnt Manotaur's left hand to the bone.

While The Labyrinth was reeling, Manotaur hauled him rear end from end, vomit-hole facing up, and carried him to the barrier as his left hand smoked and sloughed.

"What a turnaround! I haven't seen anything like this in years!! Kravitz?"

"I think the puzzle man is done, but we'll see what the wall has to say!"

"Just to remind you, viewers, the wall is judged by our team of eight refs. If a fighter can still fight, he'll bounce right off, but if he's an inch from death, he'll fly through to elimination!"

Manotaur hurled The Labyrinth into the blue barrier. It flashed red and the puzzle man crashed heavily to the ground. Manotaur picked up Labyrinth for another hurl as the stadium lights went dim.

"Looks like we've got a new one!! Who drew number three? Who?!"

A man with unnatural curves, muscles, and bulges strode into the ring accompanied by a tiny man in spectacles.

"It's The Savage!! Never has such a chemically-boosted monster of a man been let into a rumble!"

"I hear that his trainer, Mr. Dreeper in the glasses down there, invents all The Savage's chemicals! He's the first genetically born man in the rumble in years, Kravitz!"

"Slim, I think I rumbled him when he has still called him the Barbarian! The human league days! He made the league jump, but just what has it cost him?!"

The Savage rolled into the ring, ran right through, rolled out, and in a fluid motion landed a punch directly into the taint of The Labyrinth, held aloft by Manotaur. Labyrinth howled and Manotaur hurled him through the barrier. It went green at his passage, then back to blue. The crowd roared.

"Labyrinth is out, and The Savage is looking at a safe fight with a very tired Manotaur!"

"Keep your eyes on the clock, Kravitz. We've only got another ten seconds!"

Manotaur crawled back to the ring and hung on the corroded turnbuckle with a skeletal hand as The Savage stomped into his back. No nails in the shoes, the rules said, but nothing about kicking as hard as you can.

A klaxon sounded, no theme music.

A mess of human flesh, teeth, nails, hair, and limbs, crawled, rolled, and pushed its way into the ring past the blue.

"Our good doctor, actually a practicing dentist, states that it's the result of every experiment he ever botched, all mixed up! Hence the name, Amaaaaalgam!" Slim bellowed into the mic.

"Looks like he botched a whole bunch of 'em, Slim!"

The Savage, still circling Manotaur, didn't notice Amalgam. Six of its hands grabbed at the chemical man and hurled him toward the blue where he crashed, the barrier flashing red at the impact.

Manotaur, sensing an opening, kicked at Amalgam. His boot sank to the calf in the fleshy mess. As he drew it out, gore spilled into the ring and Amalgam roared. Manotaur stomped again.

"Heeeere's what you've been waiting for, what Doctor Monstrous calls 'S and S!'"

The dragon threw itself into the arena and belched show fire with its neck stretched to the dome. The aforementioned doctor, wearing a tastefully bloodied lab coat, walked next to him but stopped at barrierside.

"Scale and Slaughter, my friend! Slim, when's the last time you've seen this guy?"

Slim couldn't get a syllable in when Scale spotted Amalgam resting and oozing on the ropes after his Big Boot from Manotaur. Scale belched a gutful of fire and Amalgam lit like a ball of wax. It screamed as it burned, all thrashing limbs and spilling gore.

"Well, Amalgam's already done! That's just bad strategy on the flesh's part, eh Kravitz?" Slim thumped one hand on his belly in punctuation.

"Yessir! You're Amalgam, you see a fighter like that, and you know that he just can't get you in a corner! Reminds me of a fight I had back, oh, 30 years ago. Took a couple of oil rags and a grill starter!" Kravitz's good eye drifted lazily to the ceiling.

"No time for daydreaming now, Kravitz! As Amalgam burns, we're about to get another fighter, our last one of the night! I think we know who's coming!" Kravitz continued. "I thought he was dropped from this round for some off-ring violence! Slim?"

"Some off-ring violence?! Some?! He beat The Lord of Chains to death behind a martini bar!"

Two spurts of flame shot from the arena gateway as a massive metal golem, ten feet, strode in.

Pig crawled into the ring, not bothering ducking under the remaining ropes, instead stretching them to the limit then bursting through. He turned to The Savage, who was already poised to leap onto the metal man's back. The Savage battered away at Pig's head, not feeling the pain as his right fist was slowly mashed into a pulp. Scale was working Pig's left leg to similar effect.

The Savage paused for a moment to look at his ruined hand, a mistake. Pig plucked the chemical man from his shoulder and hurled him one-handed into the blue barrier. Instead of thumping against it as Labyrinth had, The Savage's body burst upon impact. The force of the throw sent a limb in each cardinal direction, dissolved the rest, and the barrier flashed green.

"The word is that a blacksmithstress Pig monstrosity by charming a hero, clothing him with layer after layer of iron, then forging him over an anvil!

"Well I'd call that 'beating your man into shape'!"

"Indeedy-o, Kravitz! If you look down, Pig's crafter is ringside!" Smith Dee waved her hands inside the blue, while the other managers had retreated to an observation box.

Manotaur, temporarily forgotten as Scale and Pig dueled. It was a hell of a risk, but Manotaur's experience taught him it was one worth talking. In the other corner, Scale belched another gutful of fire. Pig's armor was red-hot but the beast was unfazed. Pig's right arm shot to te ceiling and caught the dragon by his long, thin neck. Pig's fist closed and the Scale's vertebrae were powdered.

Manotaur, conversely, had only been watching the fight between the two behemoths, then it all clicked. A monster that felt no pain, clad in enough armor to hide every centimeter of skin, with his creator, seemingly oblivious, swayed rhythmically at ringside.

"I'm not sure what Manotaur's going to do here, but it better be-"

Slim's speech was cut off as manotaur sprung from the opposite rope and hurtled headline toward pig- and right through his the metal monster's leg. With a last burst of strength, he threw himself through the broken rope and buried his horn to her skull.

Pig, winding up a swing, froze mid-motion at the light in the blacksmith's fled. Now off-balance from his windup, the iron man crshed heavily into the mat. He landed on the corse of Scale, who burst like an overripe melon.

"I can't believe it, Slim! Manotaur's last fight and he shows he's still got it!"

"Now that's smart playing. Aaaaaaand, the refs have called it! This week's rumble goes to six time intercontinental champion, Man-OH-Taur!"

A ref raised Manotaur's good hand aloft as the bell rang and his theme song pumped over the PA.

Killer-of-Lawyers
Apr 22, 2008


This is a Story About Anxiety
word count: 1,825

It's almost ten PM in Moscow, and the crowds are still howling and screaming outside the embassy, calling for blood. Diplomatic aides weave around me, placing inscriptions printed on A4 paper around my feet. Every little noise scares me. Someone is reloading the copy machine, and for the life of me it sounds like a gunshot ringing out.

I yelp in surprise, fumbling my incantations and drawing every eyeball to me. It's worse being stared at than if it was actually a gunshot, I think. I motion everyone back to work and return to my arcane muttering. Someone, I don't bother to look and see who, handcuffs a briefcase to my wrist.

This is nothing new. Teleportation has been used by American Embassy's since the resolution of the Iran hostage crisis decades ago. It's been used for diplomatic cables, like the ones in the briefcase cuffed to my arm, since the leaks in 2013. Doesn't matter. Still frays my nerves. Then again, what doesn't these days?

If only everyone could see what I walk through on the other side to deliver these messages. If only. Useless words. I seek solace in the incantation, my lips spilling over every Latin word as a rip in reality forms in the room before me. I step through, and leave Moscow behind for a world, well, a world that time has left behind.

That's how this all works. I don't step directly from Moscow to Washington, I slip between the cracks to a world where time doesn't mean what it means to us. Actually, it's quite a long walk. Which is good, because it gives me time to collect myself. The first thing I do is breathe. The air is damp and old, but it still feels better then what I had to breathe in moments ago in the embassy, with tension and stress so thick I could reach out and cut it with a knife if I wanted to.

Here though, it's peaceful, like the back of a library where no one goes. Just musty and still. I rub my hands together, they're usually numb and icy. This isn't an easy parlor trick, so I never seem to get to do this under happy, unanxious times. I don't start my walk until I'm calm again. It's not like time will be any later at my destination if I take an hour or I take a day.

I'm underground, but there's light coming from up a stairway above. All my walks here start out the same. There's only so many places the trip can start in this world. I keep my head down as I climb. I've actually gotten pretty good at navigating this realm without looking up or around. I don't like what I see, and more importantly, I don't have to. I know these stairs. I know the streets above.

I grew up in DC, on streets most tourists would rather forget. Everyone else that I work with is a transplant. It always shocks them when they find out that people really do live there. I don't know where they think the folks who cook their meals and park their cars come from. The moon, I guess.

Anyways, these streets that I've ascended to from the stairs? They're the same. It's DC. Every trip I take always starts me out deep inside some metro station, and I always find the exit point in the Capitol. Navigation is just a matter of reading the dust covered street signs and making my way to the mall.

So I walk on. I glance up high enough to read the signs, but no higher. I don't want to drink in the sights. I used to, early on when I first learned how to make this trip as an apprentice. It's not something I want to see now. I don't want to see the grey skies and shattered buildings of a city beyond the edge of time.

Still, I know it's there. I know that when I get to the mall, I'll find the monument on its side, crumbling to dust atop the dead grass. It gets to me. I shouldn't be reading into this. Everyone else sees something different when they do this, after all. I think they all see something at least as terrible though. My co-workers, they all like to put on a tough, manly face around me, but I can see it in their eyes whenever they come through a portal, or when they sneak sips from flasks between runs.

Doesn't matter. You ever know something, know something so much that even without a single shred of proof you just know it has to be true? That's how I feel when I'm making these walks. That's how I feel now as step over piles of ash in the gutters as I cross a street.

I'm near the mall now. It's just to the south of me. By now I'm already sick of the air here. My gut is in knots and all I can think of between steps is just what it'd take to push things over the edge. Another plane shot down? Another riot? Maybe a few ships sinking in the South China Sea?

The ground moves, and interrupts my worrying. I can hear a building collapse in the distance, the sound of marble breaking upon marble filling my ears. I find myself standing very still, without thought as the sound passes. My hands are cold again, pins and needles are running up my arms. So much for my breathing exercises.

I continue on, but I don't think anymore. I just exist. The monument is up ahead, it's once erect tip lying sideways across 14th street, pointing the way to the ruins of the capitol. I trudge out across the dead, dust choked grass of the mall and turn to follow the length of the ruined obelisk. My heart is pounding in my ears, and all I want to do is run Hell, at this point I just want to run back to Moscow and throw the suitcase back at them. I know I can't though, so I focus my thoughts inward as best I can.

I think about the weight of the cuff on my arm. I think about how it feels as the dust and dirt kicks up with each step I take. I am not the past that pushes us ever closer to the brink. I am not the future brink that tortures me. I am now. I am a sorceress. I am walking. That is all.

It works. For a time. Then the sounds start up again. More buildings collapse as the ground shifts beneath me. The sky swirls with dust and wind. I almost stumble to my hands and knees. I start running, even as my footing becomes unsure. I don't care. I want out. I want to go home, actual home, not this mockery of home.

I look to my sides. I'm amongst the Smithsonian now. The once great buildings are sliding into rubble as I run, great plumes of dust shooting up and rushing down the streets towards me. At some point I lose my shoes, but I don't care. When I can't run I crawl. Up and down and over curbs and across the barren dirt. Everything's white, the air's nothing but heavy stone dust and plaster.

I trip face first into the reflecting pool of the capitol. Thankfully, it's not very deep. Just muddy and clouded. I know something is wrong, but something is always wrong when I'm here! I fight with myself for a bit, thrashing and tossing my briefcase around as I struggle to my feet. I wade my way to the steps of the capitol.

Then I stop. I can't go another inch. Before me is the way out. Behind me is the din of a shattered, dying city that's displaying more life in this one moment then it has ever shown to me hundreds of trips before. I can't do it. Who's to say that I won't find the very same thing on the other side when I leave this realm. What's stopping me from stepping back into reality and finding myself right in the center of nuclear annihilation?

I often find myself like this, usually without as much drama as this time, but it's all the same. Every time I step through back to the other side I find not a second having past since I left, and life goes on. I always hesitate though. I'm afraid. I'm so terrified I'm paralyzed. The fact that it always works out, that everything is fine doesn't mean anything to me anymore. All I know is the pounding of my heart, the bile in the back of my throat, the dry tomb of my mouth.

Then, through the dust and the debris a form takes shape, something dark and terrible. With a single beat of its wings it casts away the haze and lands right before me with an earth shaking thud. It's a dragon, and she is great and terrible. Her wings beat with the sound of a thousand cocking rifles. Her breath is the foul stench of war and disease. A fire burns in her eyes like no other, two brilliant, blinding points that seethe and boil with all the force of the unleashed atom.

She is everything I fear, and more. She leans in and opens her great toothy maw, her teeth concrete and barbed wire. Her voice is like the trumpets of Armageddon, a forceful gale that washes over and through my very soul. "Soon," she says as she rises up and spreads her wings from horizon to horizon, as if she was gesturing to the whole ruined world.

I run. There isn't any thought. Her voice just echoes in my head as my legs fly over the capitol steps. I can hear her laughing behind me, her rumbling, monstrous form shaking the entire city lose. Then suddenly, I'm through. I'm back in the real world.

Everything is just as I left. The mud and dust are gone from my perfectly pressed suit. I look to a clock on the wall. It's three PM, Washington time. Not a second has passed since I stepped through the rift in Moscow. Aides scurry around me, relieving me of the briefcase and ushering me out of the room. I find myself out in the hallway, and I'm just staring right through this suited marine who's guarding the door. I'm just looking into his solid white dress gloves, and all I can see is that damned crumbling city.

He finally asks me if I'm alright. I just nod, and smile. "Of course. I'm fine," I say, the lie falling from my lips like a bomb screaming towards earth. What else can I say? What else can I do?

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!


flash rule:

his squire so like my gossip, Tom Cecial? And if that be enchantment, as your worship says, was there no other pair in the world for them to take the likeness of?"

"It is all," said Don Quixote, "a scheme and plot of the malignant magicians that persecute me, who, foreseeing that I was to be victorious in the conflict, arranged that the vanquished knight should display the countenance of my friend the bachelor, in order that the friendship I bear him should interpose to stay the edge of my sword and might of my arm, and temper the just wrath of my heart; so that he who sought to take my life by fraud and falsehood should save his own. And to prove it, thou knowest already, Sancho, by experience which

1521 words

Arms Bent Back Until They Break

flerp fucked around with this message at 00:45 on May 30, 2016

Grizzled Patriarch
Mar 27, 2014

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





Flash Rule:

medicine. For every disease is akin to the living being and has an appointed term, just as life has, which depends on the form of the triangles, and cannot be protracted when they are worn out. And he who, instead of accepting his destiny, endeavours to prolong his life by medicine, is likely to multiply and magnify his diseases. Regimen and not medicine is the true cure, when a man has time at his disposal.

Enough of the nature of man and of the body, and of training and education. The subject is a great one and cannot be adequately treated as an appendage to another. To sum up all in a word: there are three kinds of soul located within us, and any one of them, if remaining inactive, becomes very weak; if exercised, very strong. Wherefore we should duly train and


Waiting For the Lightning
(545 words)

*snip*

Grizzled Patriarch fucked around with this message at 18:08 on Dec 31, 2016

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


I Didn't Start the Fire
1649 words

http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?...+Start+the+Fire

crabrock fucked around with this message at 05:53 on Jun 14, 2016

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo


bottom o' the bo't, getting by to catch hold of the sheet an' untie it. He wasn't but a little man; I helped him right up after the squall passed, and made a handsome apology to him, but he did act kind o' offended."

"I do think they ought not to settle them landlocked folks in parishes where they're liable to be on the water," insisted Mrs. Fosdick. "Think of the families in our parish that was scattered all about the bay, and what a sight o' sails you used to see, in Mr. Dimmick's day, standing across to the mainland on a pleasant Sunday morning, filled with church-going folks, all sure to want him some time or other! You couldn't find no doctor that would


edited out.

newtestleper fucked around with this message at 10:36 on Jan 7, 2017

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006

KING OF BLOOD

Upon what meat doth this
our Caesar feed that he is grown so great?


Harper and the Rails
2593 words

--see archive--

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 15:11 on Jan 2, 2017

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Ninety-Nine Dragons
(1,133 words)

Read it in the archive.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 18:57 on Jan 1, 2017

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by Fluffdaddy



"I didn't know before," said Tip, looking at the

154 Woggle-Bug with a puzzled expression, "that insects wore clothes."

"Nor do they, in their natural state," returned the stranger. "But in the course of my wanderings I had the good fortune to save the ninth life of a tailor -- tailors having, like cats, nine lives, as you probably know. The fellow was exceedingly grateful, for had he lost that ninth life it would have been the end of him; so he begged permission to furnish me with the stylish costume I now wear. It fits very nicely, does it not?" and the Woggle-Bug stood up and turned himself around slowly, that all might examine


Hex
1531 words

“We never dream,” Emmitt says, his proboscis twitching. “The Queen dreams us. You know it. We all know it. We’re standing here on air, friend. We’re gonna start falling any second.”

“The Queen didn’t send me here,” I say. My cigarette is a dying ember and I spit it out, watch the ashes flake down to the concrete. Outside the factory smog chokes the dying earth. The sun’s abandoned us to hide behind thick clouds of smoke. The rays can’t reach us through the haze. We have only our imaginings of light.

My antennae adjust my hat to lower the brim.

“I’m here because of Lori,” I say, trying to sound authoritative. But Emmitt’s boys frisk at the door, which is why I left my semi-automatic at home. Now I’m here trying to work him like he works everyone else.

Emmitt grabs his occiput with one limb and rubs it vigorously. “I messed up,” he said. “I know it. I’m supposed to keep them breathing so they can keep buying. Dumb.”

Then his tarsus snaps against his tibia. “Right, so why should I keep you alive again?”

“Because I’m just passing through,” I say. “Because I’m trying to find Anax, and when I get there I’ll make a deal with him, and when it works out I can say that you made it happen.”

“The only deal anyone makes with Anax,” Emmitt says thoughtfully, “is to be his lunch. But consider my position. You just strolled in and expect to stroll out. How’s that look?”

His boys are sniggering, mandibles clacking together like I’m already on the menu.

“It’ll look,” I say, “like you spiked the Queen’s sugar. The process isn’t hard to figure out. It’s just microbes. There are a lot of them in her deposit. Chewing on the grist, writhing around, eating each other. Whatever they do.”

Emmitt doesn’t get angry. First his eyes move skyward as he thinks about it. “Shoot,” he says. “Before she goes, she’ll probably act real goofy. High like the sun up there.”

“There’s someone who might be able to help you out with that,” I say. “Just point me in the right direction.”

I see it in his eyes then. A blaze that fractals out in hexagonal waves across the compounds.

“I’m gonna pop you,” he says. “You’ll find out. See what it’s like when you-”

“If Anax eats me,” I say, “then I get mine. If he listens to what I have to say, you get your life back. The inconvenience is for Lori. If you stop messing up, everything’s peachy.”

“Shoot,” he says. “Go to the address my boys’ll slip into your pocket after they rough you up.”


2.

They smash my exoskeleton a couple times, but the real pain comes when they hoist me up and throw me, my sternum scraping against the ground. A train crushing me, drifters at the limits of the city-colony, making it to the horizon. Endless azure skies. The sun.

I can’t remember the last time I saw the sun.

We don’t care about anything we can’t see out here. Out there though, they can see it just by looking up. They say staring at the sun dazes you. You forget what you’re supposed to do. The whole operation falls apart. We’re lucky, say the papers, that we can’t see it. That we can focus on our lives, focus on being the best ants we can be.

I can see it now. It’s impossible to understand. All that fire, burning in a vacuum colder than any butcher’s freezer. Why isn’t it smothered by that darkness, like oblivion finds us in our sleep? Snuffed out like our heads and hearts as we try to hustle, kicking up everything but our bodies. When will I see you again, I wonder through the explosions, the sickening breaks, and then I’m losing it as reality seeps in through the molecules of my exoskeleton.

My left middle femur is bent horribly. My vision is splintered on the right side, like the world is a mirror and someone didn’t like what he saw. My exoskeleton feels like it’s made out of paper, been through the shredder and then stitched back together.

I look back. I can see the factory pumping out smoke, spilling into the sky like it has nowhere else to be. Like the two of them were made for each other. I watch it for a while, blood slamming against the walls of my head, and then with my right femur I reach into my pocket and pull out the address, hacking and coughing out my soul.

3.

My apartment is the opposite way I need to go, so I don’t go there. I’d rather have my gun but I don’t have the energy to go back to it. I imagine the wood of the drawer panel splintering into a mouth with jagged craven teeth. Eating the semi-automatic, crunching it into fragments of metal and plastic before swallowing them whole. The drawer is empty now, waiting for me to pull it open in a life and death situation. Sometimes when you put things away they’re gone forever.

What use is a gun against a demon, anyway?

Instead I lurch a couple blocks and my stride becomes a more or less steady gait as I find some kind of mental equilibrium. The blood in my head centers and all I have to deal with is my broken vision. Other ants stare as I move by. One makes a holy gesture I’m used to seeing in Queen worship rituals.

The neon sign that says Fermin’s, the “F” flickering in and out, leaves an impression on me by crashing light through my fractured eye to carve up my pain cells. I lower my head like I’m bowing to it, giving me the same posture as a couple of other ants stumbling through the door.

I look up just enough to put my vision at head level. Moving in and out of the cracks is a bloated ant whose speed belies his size. The word is presence, my antennae picking up the vibrations of all the pheromones floating around in here. Whatever all the ants in here need, he’s the one who can supply it.

My slow gait gives me some kind of social force field, other ants, some looking they’re on their last legs themselves, respectfully giving me space as I creep towards Fermin.

Fermin, messenger of Anax. His body on earth. A black mass.

“Fermin,” I say. I’ve slipped my antennae under my hat to hide their nervous wavering. “I need spirits to fill my soul. Look at me. I’m broken.”

He’s giving me a look that's half curiosity, half greed. “I’ve got spirits here that can make you ascend. You cool with that?”

I am. He moves to the nectar taps, and I see the liquid glisten as it settles in the cup. I raise my femurs to take it from him, but he ignores me, pushing it hard underneath my mandibles. I start to taste it, start to feel it, and then-.

4.

The sun is easy to understand. It’s heaven and we must climb towards it. It’s the physical distance, the size of the leviathan, that creates a chasm in our minds. Staring at the sun, trying to reach it, well, you’ll burn up. Go up in flames as you fall into the abyss of your own thoughts. You’ll never make it on your own. You need help from those who have gone before.

I’m lying outside Fermin’s, a little square patch of field overgrown by thick dark weeds. A great shadow silhouettes against the smog. "Thank you," I murmur to the air before me.

He’s descending.

“O Anax,” Fermin mutters to my right. He splits into five Fermins in my broken compound. “This offering of the faithful may your teeth bless,” they say, and then they’re all trundling inside, bloated bodies bouncing. All that extra blood.

And then it’s just Anax above me. Anax Imperator. Emperor Dragonfly.

He enfolds me. He’ll take me higher before he feeds. The sound of his legs scrabbling in the dirt around me is thunder. His body is a deep blue, like the ocean. I’m diving into it. Then he’s lifting off, the ground happy to let me go, to be somewhere better. Take me to the sun, I say. To ascend.

And below me, the city-colony, the Queen dying. Is she dying? What did I want?

I wanted to get something. Something material. Something to bring back. Bring something back.

That’s falling. Never fall. Ascend. Go higher.

There’s something in me. Flowing in waves, back and forth.

I’m dying.

As he chews through my antennae I start to lose them. Pharoah. Moans. It’s me that’s dying, not the Queen. The Queen is eternal. She lives forever.

Will I reach the sun before I’m chewed through? Before I’m lost?

He keeps chewing, and it keeps getting brighter, and it’s all going into him, the taint, the corruption, and I’ll be gone, in the brightness, in the heat, above the smoke, finally beyond the veil...

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


deleted

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 21:56 on Jan 2, 2017

kurona_bright
Mar 21, 2013

Did you FAIL THUDERDONE Kunona?

Like Recipes for Love (1190 words)


Aditi stared at Michael. “You’re kidding me.”

Instead of waiting for a reply, she stepped over and put a crumbly piece of Rey’s birthday cake in her mouth. Almost immediately, her heart began to pound. Her cheeks warmed, and the most revoltingly gooey feelings washed over her. They were rather familiar, since she’d felt them while sliding the cake pans into the oven.

Oh, gods. Talk about being ‘baked with love’.

“You didn’t know.” His words were rather flat, but after living with him over year, Aditi could discern his surprise. It also had the distinct flavor of you’ve got to be kidding me. “You, with all the baking you do?”

“I’ve been busy, alright? The last time I baked for anyone else was for the potluck!” She pressed her fists to her forehead. “And all anyone said then were that I must’ve been really happy while baking them!”

“Oh. Then I guess it’s because they weren’t just for her back then.” Michael brushed cake crumbs off his fingers. “Also, you weren’t so embarrassingly infatuated then.”

Aditi’s only response was a glare and then a long, drawn out groan.

Finally Michael said, “Maybe you could just tell her? It’s very good ca-”

“Absolutely not!”

Michael held his palms in front of him and backed up against the kitchen counter. “Okay. So you don’t want to tell her. Maybe I could help you bake another cake?”

Aditi glanced at the clock and resisted the urge to yank her hair out. “There’s not enough time for that! I’ll need to frost it, and that means I have to let it cool first!”

“Okay.” Michael paused for a second before he said, “So you’re going to tell her, then.”

No!

“Why not?”

I just found out! How can I just tell her?” Aditi paced around the kitchen.

“Just let her eat it.” Michael smiled faintly. “Believe me, she’ll know.”

“In front of everyone?”

Michael sighed a sigh that said, you are severely trying my patience. “Aditi. There’s only three people invited to her birthday party, and that’s including you and me.”

Aditi flushed. “Well, I don’t care. she is not eating that cake!”

“So when everybody else comes over, you’re going to pretend that there isn’t anything on your kitchen counter and there’s nothing to eat?” Michael looked out the window, and a smirk tugged at the edges of his lips. “Ha, I can imagine it right now.”

Aditi was going to drown him in the sink one of these days. Him and that stupid smarmy smirk.

“I’ll think of something, just -” Aditi stopped.

Something about the quality of her silence caught his attention, and he swung his head around to look at her.

“Aditi. I don’t like the look on your face.”

She hummed to herself, tapping her foot. Then she looked up. “Michael.”

“Yes?” came the wary response.

“Do you need directions to Baxter’s Pastries?” She very carefully did not make eye contact.

“Aditi.” he said, clearly appalled. “You’re kidding me. What are you going to do with the cake you already have? Eat it by yourself, alongside a pound tub of ice cream and Adele’s greatest hits? Where are you even going to hide it? You just went shopping!”

Pasting a sunny smile on her face, Aditi jabbed at the front door and said, “Look, Mikey. If you don’t get going in the next five minutes, I’m telling Rey who swiped her hard cider the other night.”

Michael crossed his arms and glared at her, pure indignation writ across her face. “Do you think it’s that easy to sway me?”

“Also, I’m telling your boyfriend why his copy of Darkest Souls has been missing for the last week.”

A muttered curse, a flipped bird, and ten seconds later, the front door swung shut behind Michael. Aditi smirked, but that slid off her face when she turned back to the half-frosted cake on the counter. She wandered over to it, and sniffed at the air. Lemons and love. How did she notice it while it was in the oven?

She nearly shrieked at the knock from the front door.

“Coming!” she called. It was probably Michael, back to ask for directions.

It was not Michael.

She nearly slammed the door shut as soon as she saw who was at her doorstep.

Rey smiled at her, and fire rushed up Aditi’s spine and into her cheeks. “Hey, Aditi.”

“R-Rey! You’re early! Very much so!” The last word came out on a squeak

Rey looked slightly disconcerted. “Are you all right?”

At Aditi’s frantic nodding, she continued, “Well, I didn’t have much else to do right now, so I figured we could just catch up on that show while we waited for everybody else to arrive. You know, ‘Prodigy Prosecutor’?”

Then she hesitated. “Or is this not a good time? I mean, if you’re still busy with the cake, I can help you with it.” Rey waggled her eyebrows at Aditi, wicked spark dancing in her eyes. “There might be pieces missing by the time we’re done, if you catch my drift.”

“No!” It was out before she realized it, and it was an effort to keep from clapping her hands over her mouth.

“Um. Okay.” After an awkward pause, Rey rubbed at the back of her neck, and shot her a weak smile. “I’ll just come back later, then.”

She turned to go, and then she froze. “Aditi? What is it?”

Aditi glared at the fingers curled into Rey’s palm. Traitorous hands. Then she looked up at Rey, fearful but resigned, and found the other girl staring down at their joined fingertips.

They remained like that for a little while, and then Rey coughed. “Er, Aditi. I’ve been meaning to ask you this for a long time, but -”

“Michael’s already taken.” Traitorous mouth. Aditi looked off to the side and mumbled, “Just in case you were going to ask about that.”

“Actually, I was going ask something more along the lines of whether you were taken.”

Aditi shot a startled glance up at Rey, who smiled wryly and said, “Well, if I’m being completely honest here, whether you would be interested…”

“Interested?” she prompted, more automatically than not.

“Interested with going out to the movies sometime. Or to the ice rink, or anywhere, really.”

Aditi’s mouth opened. Aditi’s mouth closed. Finally, she tugged the other girl inside the apartment and over to the half-frosted sponge on the counter.

“Er… Aditi?”

“Just break off a piece and eat it.” Aditi snapped out, face hot enough to bake another cake.

Rey followed Aditi’s instructions, looking slightly confused while she did so. Aditi very carefully didn’t make eye contact.

A couple seconds later, she heard Rey say, “Oh.”

And a couple seconds after that, she was bent back over the kitchen counter.

A couple hours later, at the actual party time, Michael arrived - with his boyfriend and very noticeably without an extra cake. His gentle aura of smug omniscience upon seeing Aditi’s arm draped over Rey disappeared as soon as he realized that half of the cake was gone.

Rey and Aditi just grinned at him.

curlingiron
Dec 15, 2006

Adventure Awaits!


http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?...ent+in+the+Nest

curlingiron fucked around with this message at 01:53 on Dec 12, 2016

skwidmonster
Mar 31, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER


The Family Business
WC: 379

Bristles poked at Vashti's fingertips as she ran them over her scalp. She was still getting used to the immediacy of sensation where before her hair had provided a barrier. "Turn left here," she instructed her sister.

Mer pulled the wheel around, accelerating to beat the oncoming SUV. They weren't late; Mer just hated waiting for other drivers.

"God, these people are going to suck," Mer complained. "Nobody who lives in a suburb is ever worth talking to."

"We're from the suburbs," Vashti snorted.

"Well yeah, but we don't live in a suburb anymore," Mer retorted. "And I can promise you right now you won't catch me dead in one, either. I'm going to die on a mountaintop or in a gutter in Paris or something. At least somewhere with a modicum of intrigue."

They pulled into a driveway and Vashti admired how the street went on like two mirrors facing each other, every house just a reflection of the one across from it.

Mer grabbed the bags from the back of their mother's coupe. She puffed a preparatory sigh. "Ready?"

Vashti nodded in response.

"Let's wake up a dead guy, then." Mer knocked on the door.

~~~~

The dragon screamed somewhere from the depths of the Cataclysm. "I got the wrong one," Vashti struggled to say. "The dragon's holding him hostage."

The wife of the man they were attempting to resurrect stood against the wall gripping the doorframe with one clawed hand. She watched for half a second more, then made a panicked dash to the other room.

"You have to make the call now, Vashti. I can only keep his synapses running for another minute, tops." Mer was clasping the corpse's head between her hands while Vashti manipulated his soul through the man's stomach.

The dragon screamed again. It was getting angrier.

"I can't drag that monstrosity back up with him," Vashti struggled to say, feeling the man's soul grasp at her fingertips. "We have to knock it back. We hav--"

An eruption of fire spouted from the dead man's mouth. Mer moved her head, like a friend giving room to a drunkard nearing vomitus.

Vashti crawled backwards, eyes shimmering with an excess of liquid.

"It's the end of days," she moaned. "It's the end of days."

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



The Dry Times
1121 words


The drought cut black streaks into the community and everyone who worked the land. And when the rain came at last, it was in torrents that flooded the fields and washed out roads across the county.

When they went out to inspect the damage to the land the next day, Tom and Rae found a white egg the size of a quarter lying in the sand under the fence by the swollen river.

They considered it and debated what to do, but eventually decided to leave it alone, in case its owner might return. They moved on inspecting the property. Money was tight, and there was always more work to do, and now all this damage to fix on top of that.

The next day, they found that the egg had been joined by a partner. Each egg had the same pearl white shell, the same tiny orange speckles dusted around its surface, the same half-buried location in the sand.

But the surrounding sand seemed undisturbed. No footprints to reveal who might have left it there. Only Tom and his wife’s own, from the day before.

“How curious,” Rae said.

“Mmm.” Tom rolled a grass stalk between his teeth.

The next day, when he came out to feed the animals, he noticed that there were now four small speckled eggs perched in the shadow of the fence.

Tom took one of the eggs inside to put it in the refrigerator. He wanted to see if it might behave any differently if he cooked it for breakfast, he told his wife. She nodded sagely from behind her murder mystery.

But when it had developed a partner the next morning, a second egg chilling beside it, he had the first inkling it might be something unusual.

They fried up like any other, though. A faint taste of sulfur, but rich and creamy nonetheless.

And there were half a dozen now in that hollow by the creek, arranged roughly in a circle. They were developing in interesting ways, too—starting to show some differentiation. Orange ridges protruded from their surface, small dull orange crenellations stretching towards the sky.

Then he went to move the stock, and the immediate needs of the farm took priority over investigating. He didn’t think of them again for several days.

But when he came to move the cows in the nearby corral, he noticed they were behaving strangely. The animals kicked and bayed whenever they came to one the edge of their fence, and he remembered the eggs. Sure enough, they were just visible on the other side of the dirt road, a small pile of white and orange eggs.

“Oh, calm down, ladies,” he said. “They’re not going to bother you.” He watched one paw at a post, again and again, its eyes glazed and staring intently. He shook his head. He decided to shutter the field and move them to another corral. No sense growing sour milk.

The next day the pile had grown to reach the first rung of the fence. He called a wildlife expert to get an idea of what might be going on.

“I can’t imagine,” she said. “I’ll be there some time tomorrow morning.”

Dr. Willoughsby showed up the next day after lunch. By then, the pile stretched nearly to reach the second rung of the fence, pushing out in every direction like spiky tendrils. Several of them sat on the very edge of the bank, threatening to slip down into the stream. Judging by the tracks running down the sandy bank, it looked like some already had.

She came with a giant shaggy gray dog nearly as tall as she was. It reminded Tom of a wolf and he shuddered.

“Trying to see if he has a reaction,” see said. “He's my test animal.”

Tom took her to the eggs. The dog didn't seem to show any interest in them. In fact, he whined and tried to run away.

“I’m not sure exactly what species these are,” Dr. Willoughsby said as she peered at one through a handheld magnifying device. “These ridges are sharp and regular, and the orange is so stark. I’ve never seen one of these around here.”

“And the numbers?”

She gave him a sidelong glance. “I wouldn’t have believed it if I weren’t standing in front of this pile. I still half suspect you had a shipment dumped here.”

“No tire tracks.”

“Dumped a big crate, then.” She rubbed her eyes. “No, in some way I can’t imagine… I think your numbers are doubling every day. If I could, I’d like to set a camera and light on these overnight.”

He shrugged. He had some extension lines.

What they found on the video was extraordinary. Soon after midnight, each egg in turn began to shake and rotate in place. Then it seemed to bulge and distend until a duplicate egg popped out beside it.

“Fascinating,” Willoughsby said. “These seem to be undergoing mitosis.” They were all orange now, solid brilliant orange and covered in sharp spines like a puffer fish. This posed some difficulty in picking them up.

But Rae took what she could and brought them inside.

“We have to get money, Tom,” she said with a shake of her hand as if to tell him to stop asking questions before he had even started.

“What are you doing with those?” He eyed the counter and its pile of spiky orange eggs from his reading chair.

“I just made a few phone calls,” she said. “Go back to sleep.”

Tom harumphed and closed his eyes.

He awoke to find the kitchen half-full of eggs. The spines dug into the countertops and adhered to the walls. He tried to move past to the door and brushed against an egg. It cut his skin and slid off, skittering across the countertop and over the edge. He expected a wet slap, but it embedded into the floor.

Breaking the eggs for breakfast seemed like a distant memory. And anyway, the anchor was coming for a story today. They had to keep them around for now. He eyed the orange mass uneasily from above his coffee until it was time.

The door opened and all hell broke loose.

Camera and lights, gaffer and rigging crew trampled all over the house and nearly broke a window. The only place off-limits was the kitchen, covered in orange spiky spheres like an asthmatic’s nightmare.

And when they turned the cameras on, one of the eggs began to shudder and crack. A scaly arm popped out. Then a head. It looked around, sniffed the air twice, then breathed out a gout of flame.

All the other eggs burst into flames like bags of napalm.

Maugrim
Feb 16, 2011

I eat your face



Submissions are closed

You've probably got a bit of time before sittinghere wakes up though if you want to sneak something in and hope she's lenient. (Hahahaha good luck)

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk


interprompt: HOLY poo poo ITS A BEAR

SurreptitiousMuffin
Mar 21, 2010


"What are you drinking?" he said.

His chest was big and nice, and he was very hairy.

"Scotch and soda," I said. He smiled at me, and his beard bristled.

we did a sex thing

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


Afterwards he invited me to comb him. I did, all over.

I combed his buttocks especially, where the hair was fine and lighter than the rest of his body.

The sensuous combing made some sex happen again.

It made me sad to return home to my wife after the conference was over.

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Entenzahn
Nov 15, 2012

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


Because the truth was, my wife didn't understand, couldn't understand.

Back home I stood before the front door for the longest time, staring at the knob, dumbfounded. I didn't have it in me to open this. I didn't have it in me to go through.

And then the knob turned all on its own, and there she stood, blond as grass in the summer heat, my lovely wife, and her eyes widened as she looked at me, and she screamed, "Holy poo poo, it's a bear."

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