|# ? Apr 26, 2016 14:51|
|# ? Dec 2, 2021 03:20|
SB, you mind taking me up on my last entry? Looks like I'm inching toward 'better', which means that my next story will be the worst one yet!
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 14:54|
I'll take you up on this. The most recent week would be nice, or if you are feeling something older, my story from week 159.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 14:55|
Yeah, I think I'll try this too. In, gonna go over my old stories and see which one I wanna do.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 16:21|
hi im gonna be in this week as well as ing
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 16:21|
I'm in, with my first story, from the very first round of Thunderdome.
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 17:30|
a brawl where you two write good stories
|# ? Apr 26, 2016 20:15|
Count me in but this is my first Thunderdome (curse my husband for throwing me in) so I am requesting a story to invert.
Here you go! The CXXXIX Winner: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3691539&perpage=40&pagenumber=49#post443691067
|# ? Apr 27, 2016 01:35|
Yo in with http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=670&title=Little+King+%28I+can%27t+believe+it%27s+not+Rimbaud%29
|# ? Apr 27, 2016 08:27|
In. with the first story I ever wrote for Thunderdome which I can't link to because I tried to pull it up and the archive shat itself in disgust~
E: nvm, false alarm, here it is
|# ? Apr 28, 2016 00:01|
all three of these stories confused me so here are some "trying to figure out what's going on" crits
The Three - flerp
This story’s held together by the glue of emotion. There’s a good deal I don’t entirely understand here. The Hero dies, but he doesn’t, unless the “he” in the paragraph after the Hero’s death is someone else (the boy from the second story?) Or the Hero’s essence is still escorting the Dog or something, I’m not really sure, but I also feel like it isn’t really important for me to get this exactly right. The point is the sorrow and loss, the mourning, and the absolute loneliness; the actual events depicted are secondary in this story. And I do think the emotion’s laid on a little thick, with the universal crying drowning the dog and such, but I do feel things.
Same thing for the second story here. I’m not sure why the boy tears up the photo of the dog, but I’m also not sure it matters, because the point here is the sorrow for things lost, which again, the story sells, though I think this verges even closer to maudlin, what with all the tragedy stacked on top of itself.
The third story really suffers from the lack of even token specifics, though, and the emotional metaphysics here certainly speaks to a sense of profound anguish, but it’s so abstract I’m not able to really feel anything from this. We’re told that the universe has no emotions, then the universe experiences many emotions, and then we’re told that the universe can’t feel anymore at the end, and I’m frustrated by the contradictions, because I can’t tell if they’re intended, if there’s some way to reconcile this (maybe the universe is in denial?), or if this is just a lack of clarity.
I get the sense that this is a grand allegory for depression – or at least I relate to the story that way. And I like what the story’s going for in that sense, but I think the abstraction dulls this effect, because the story’s constantly telling us about emotions or lack of emotions of cosmic entities, who may or may not be able to feel anything. And I think showing how this effects the human boy – wait, is the boy a cosmic entity, too? – works to fix that, but because the boy rips up the photo for inscrutable reasons, this is hard to connect to, other than the sympathy we have for a boy, or a dog, who’s suffering.
The Dance, the Dress, their Dream, and the Sun – Carl Killer Miller
The greatest strength of this story is the strong sense of setting. There’s a certain kind of resigned poverty in this house, some dusty routines, and there’s the ominous aspect of the dull sun that’s somehow worn down and dwindled. But the story doesn’t dwell on what’s happened to the sun, which makes a first read of this a little bit confusing, as the story’s more interested on the routines of Iliona and Beata. It’s an interesting choice, and it creates this cozy sense of intimacy.
A choice that’s less effective for me is the decision to alternate between the perspectives of Beata and Iliona. It left me a little ungrounded, because in a piece with only so much story to tell, I don’t expect to be given insight into both characters; I’m expecting to stick with one perspective, and I think that it would be easier to craft a clear character arc if the story had stuck with one. The reveal at the end might be more powerful if we’re seeing things only from Beata’s perspective, for instance.
The end also feels a little tidy. It’s cool that the dress is made out of the sun – and it’s cool that you don’t inundate us with worldbuilding details about how that’s possible. But with them coming together and realizing everything is going to be okay, I just don’t buy it. It reads like the story was supposed to have a happy ending, you’d thought of this reveal for the dual labors feeding each other, but there wasn’t a smooth ending, so there’s this tacked on “happily-ever-after” thing. And that kills some of the weird strangeness that makes this story compelling.
It’s Not The Dark that Kills You – CANNIBAL GIRLS
I’m confused. I’m not sure how much of the stuff Emmitt experiences in the cellar was part of the prank. I’m guessing the creeping orange glow has something to do with the glow stick prank – although aren’t those usually neon green, not orange? – and that the shaking my have been something the siblings were up to. I don’t know, maybe this is supposed to be ambiguous. The ending makes me think, well, maybe they’re both evil twins. One of them rips moths in half for fun, one of them breaks his brother’s hand. I suppose the second is evidence of some Satanic, otherworldly strength, but the whole business with the moth and the breaking of the hand feels like a big setup for a relatively weak ending. Like, yeah, kids breaking the hands of other kids is a little creepy, but it still feels like an anticlimax. There’s the total disappearance of Emmitt’s subjectivity after the cellar – we don’t know how he feels about having this elaborate prank pulled on him, and I’m not sure if this is done to enhance the ambiguity, but it doesn’t leave interesting possibilities open, it leaves me wondering what the point of this story was.
|# ? Apr 28, 2016 00:58|
Ah poo poo.
Of course I'm finally ready to give this a shot and this week it's a retrospective. Oh well, guess I'll jump in on the next one.
|# ? Apr 28, 2016 14:15|
u read good?
|# ? Apr 28, 2016 16:03|
Ah poo poo.
Go in anyway. Daphnaie will pick out a story for you. A couple of other first-timers have taken the plunge, so you'd even have company.
|# ? Apr 28, 2016 19:51|
Do it, Chili! Write with us
|# ? Apr 29, 2016 02:21|
I'm in. I'm a new guy, please send me something to mangle.
|# ? Apr 29, 2016 05:54|
I'm in. I'm a new guy, please send me something to mangle.
Here you go! Thunderdome CLXXVII Winner: http://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3691539&userid=0&perpage=40&pagenumber=175#post454305317
|# ? Apr 29, 2016 06:35|
Do it, Chili! Write with us
I did in fact miss that I could get someone else's thing, but this prospect is already intimidating. I'll jump in on the next one.
|# ? Apr 29, 2016 12:54|
Critiques For Eurovision Week:
Some general notes before we get started:
For the most part, I didn't consider what ties there were to the video/song in question when evaluating these stories. There's one story, maybe two, where I'll even reference it, but even there it was a minor consideration for me. (One of the perks of being non-head judge is that you don't have to give a poo poo about the prompt.)
I don't think there was a single story this week that didn't have some aspect that I liked, and I don't think there was a single story this week that didn't have something that frustrated the poo poo out of me.
ENDINGS. Always a bit tricky for Thunderdome, and my own entries are no exception, but this week it was a minor miracle when a story even ended rather than just stopping, much less when it ended with something that wasn't just a bizarre non sequitur.
YOU MADE ME DO THIS - Sitting Here
This is one of the times I'm going to reference the song. So you were assigned a performance that just took the piss out of Eurovision, and I was expecting/maybe even hoping for a story that would do the same for Thunderdome. This wasn't (mostly) that story, and that may have been for the best but I'll confess to a bit of wistful consideration of what might have been.
I don't think there's anything blatantly wrong with this story, but I don't think there's much here that makes it noteworthy, either. I did find Maria's spite-driven encouragement of Cillian just interesting enough to engage me. Cillian was kind of a bog-standard Tormented Artist (to the point where I just made myself smile picturing him as Mark Heap's character in Spaced) but Maria had a little more to her, and I appreciated that.
The plot was clear and straightforward, which is not a thing I'll be saying very often this week. The ending was not entirely satisfying to me, which is. Like, I get that Maria's taking Cillian's meltdown as an impetus to get off her own rear end and start working, but I really think it could have hit harder.
REALISM - Toxxupation
So, nothing much happens in this story. I have a fairly loose standard for what constitutes things happening, but really, nothing much happens in this story, and specifically, nothing much changes, not within Ekaterina's flashbacks, not in the present-day framing device of her college orientation, and not really even in the transitions between the two.
Ekaterina is the only thing even resembling a character here, and she's just barely not a cipher. I know she's an introvert (because you tell me) and that she's not sure she wants to make the leap from hobbyist to professional artist (because you tell me), but there's no sense of conflict or drive to her at all that I can see. I added that last qualifier in particular because I feel like there is something buried here, that you had something in mind for her that just didn't quite make it onto the page. I can even make a couple of guesses (her reaction to the loud noise, the reference to her being Georgian that you used as your ending) but there's subtle (which I love) and there's totally requiring your reader to project their own story onto the page (which I do not love),.
As it is, I have no sense of her as a person, no sense of why she went from staying inside drawing pictures of the people around her to traveling halfway across the world to attend college, and ultimately why I should care about any of this.
I did smile at the inevitable SO WHAT'S YOUR MAJOR question being one of the things that propelled her into flashback, though.
THE FINAL LOGS OF DOCTOR OMEGA - Thranguy
I liked this considerably more than either of the other judges did, but it's not without its issues.
Your narrator has a strong voice. Perhaps too strong; you could dial back the bombast and (especially) the technical stuff by about 30-40% without losing anything. I love over-the-top supervillain stuff, though, and you risk losing that portion of your audience that isn't similarly predisposed.
The biggest problem here is The Moment. It's naturally going to be a bit tricky to establish her as both a person and a setting, but I have absolutely no sense of the relationship between her and Doctor Omega, and when your story's climax hinges on that relationship, that's a problem.
In a way, I think you set the trap you ultimately fell into; I get the sense (and the song certainly lends credence to this idea) that he had feelings for The Moment that he wasn't aware of until the last minute, but that's only a guess. There's nothing in his words or his actions to suggest that before the sacrifice, and, again, there's nothing to her at all aside from a vague hint that she's got some kind of personal grudge with Fafnir The Plot Device Dragon Superhero.
You could turn this into something genuinely cool with some effort. It's not there yet.
LOOKING FOR PARADISE - DurianGray
So I don't know if you've heard about these new things called "names", but they're a really good way to make your characters distinct from each other. For a while I thought maybe you were building toward a shock "AND THEIR NAMES WERE ADAM AND EVE AND LIEUTENANT SNAKE SNAKINGTON" ending (thank you for not doing this, at least not blatantly).
I wanted to like this. Your premise has merit, and you stage it pretty well, but the resolution absolutely makes no sense, the characters are flat, and did I mention that the resolution makes no sense? So Armor Goddess is pissed both about the sacrifices and about the lieutenant (sort of) putting a stop to them? Not that I actually have any idea what the lieutenant was doing, or why, or what the significance was of the man who ran away or what happened to him (I guess the Goddess murdered him herself for some reason) or, oh, anything really. It's a story that looks solid enough at the surface level, but if you prod at it at all, it all falls apart.
I would focus most on your characters and their motivations. The lieutenant, in whose head we spend the most time, doesn't really express what she wants or is trying to accomplish. So when she finally acts, it's not as the culmination of something that's been building, it's just a moment of "huh, I guess that happened". Her lover, the priest, the man who runs away, the Goddess, we know even less about them, and we don't really need much, but something that makes them more than a name on a page (had you given them names).
IT'S NOT THE DARK THAT KILLS YOU - CANNIBAL GIRLS
In general, your character interactions ring very true. I believe these are children, and I particularly buy the specific form of childish cruelty that makes the prank that Celine and Goff play on Emmitt. I say "in general" because I have a few bones to pick with your portrayal of Emmitt. The character you show us doesn't really ring with the character whose brother is afraid he'll beat him up.
Your description and use of language is quite good, though you verge a bit too far in the direction of purple prose in places, and I think you could dial it back without losing anything.
While yours is one of the better endings of the week (in that it, you know, exists), it still threw me a bit. Not so much the revelation that Goff might be "the evil one" for his treatment of the moth, but I don't really get your final image of Emmitt joining in the moth's destruction. What is this saying? I can think of a few possibilities (that Emmitt accepts his brother regardless of his nature being the one I find most interesting) but none which have any real support in the rest of the story, so I feel like I'm flailing about here a bit when we're done.
You've got a lot of strong elements here, but they're all just slightly at odds with each other. It feels like this story is at war with itself.
THE DANCE, THE DRESS, THEIR DREAM, AND THE SUN - Carl Killer Miller
I absolutely love your descriptions in this. Absolutely love them. As a collection of imagery, this is excellent, striking work. I want to make that clear because I'm afraid this was otherwise one of my least favorite stories of the week.
I couldn't really connect with the post-apocalyptic vibe you seem to have been going for, and I can't quite see the connections, either narrative or thematic, between, well, the elements you name in your title. Your characters are completely opaque to me. I can see what they're doing (practicing a dance routine, and weaving (!) a ballet costume) but I'm not sure why, or what accomplishing these things means to them beyond somehow (one presumes metaphorically) rejuvenating the sun.
I can see that you were trying to make that final moment a triumphant moment of hope reborn, but there's no real sense of anything at stake up to this point, no chance that either mother or daughter will fail, no sense that it's costing them anything to do this. So all we have is a resounding "...huh".
ATLANTA, 1959 - Quidnose
Right up until the end, your characters seem true to life, and their interaction feels genuine. Charlene's frustration that turns to malice, and Billie's overbearing desire for acceptance both ring through the (it has to be said) utterly wretched rendering of dialect to the point where it almost doesn't gently caress up the story too badly. (But seriously, less is more when it comes to rendering dialect in text. Just hint at it and then get out of the way.)
And then you ruin it all with SHOCK HORROR SUICIDE ENDING. You turn what was, and could have remained, a genuinely moving and disturbing depiction of how callousness can turn to cruelty into a parody of an anti-bullying PSA. If you're committed to the suicide ending, you need to build toward it more convincingly, but I think you'd be better served by, I don't know, showing us Billie heartbroken in a way that Charlene doesn't notice. Something like that.
MEDUSA OR THE LOTUS EATERS - Tyrannosaurus
This is the first story this week that I genuinely liked, rather than just liking an element of. And even here, the ending was your downfall (if to a lesser extent than some of the other entries this week). Once I worked out what was happening, that John was killing himself as a means of reuniting himself with Melissa for real, it felt right, but it threw me for a bit, and I think you'd be well served in making that reunion aspect clearer.
The other part of this that didn't really work for me was Doctor Mitchell. I figured something more was going to come of his intrusions into their dream, and then nothing did.
Otherwise, an excellent story. You captured the weird logic of dreams very well.
BROOD - SurreptitiousMuffin
Not much to say here, really. As a piece of horrifying mythology, it works well, though it feels like it's a fragment of something else. (One of the other judges said that this feels like a story someone would tell within a story, and I can't think of a better way to say it than that.)
As the secret origin of Jedward, it made me smile. On the whole, I didn't really like it initially, but it has since grown on me.
PECULIAR - Ironic Twist
This one opens in a pretty confusing way, and while it all more or less makes sense at the end, it takes a bit of time to get there, and I almost wonder if you wouldn't have been better served opening with Joslyn being confronted by the Werewolf Mafia or whoever, and interspersing bits of Ridley suspicious of, and then bonding with, the kid they're hunting. Or just making him the focus of the whole thing, with Jocelyn and Redhead as a sort of framing device. Right now he comes off as an afterthought, and I find I'm much more interested in his story and motives than in Joslyn's (if only because hers are pretty clear by comparison).
Even so, this is pretty solid and engaging, your action scene is pretty good (even if it does resort to the false cliche of gunshots throwing people back), and it all works. More or less. A layer or two of polish, and you've got something pretty cool here.
SILENCE - Daphnaie
This is an example, for me, where none of the individual elements of the story are that amazing in isolation. Like I wouldn't point to this as a superior example of plotting, or characterization, or setting, or use or imagery, or atmosphere, or whatever, for all that each of those things is pretty good. But they come together almost flawlessly, and that's where the real strength of this story is. Take any of those things out and I think the rest would fall apart, but that's part of its beauty, for me.
This is also the sort of story that's frustrating as hell to try to critique, because it's hard to point at anything and say "hey, fix this", or "hey, you did an amazing job with this particular aspect". Like, you could probably do with an editing pass with an eye toward grammar (but who couldn't), and I could do with a little more attention paid to the reasons behind Ruby's change of heart, but in the end I think the path forward for you with this story involves incremental improvements to everything rather than one grand sweeping change.
And I do think there is room for improvement (though, again, frustratingly, I find it hard to really put my finger on what I wish were different). But it's probably the one story this week that I'll remember later, and it's certainly the one that I cared about the most. Excellent work.
|# ? Apr 29, 2016 13:56|
Thanks for the crits, doc.
|# ? Apr 29, 2016 15:01|
In for this week. ( I will def regret this)
|# ? Apr 30, 2016 03:16|
Sign-ups for Week CXCV are CLOSED!
|# ? Apr 30, 2016 06:09|
Word Count: 888
Theme from original: desperate questioning of identity
a friendly penguin fucked around with this message at 23:57 on Aug 28, 2016
|# ? Apr 30, 2016 16:40|
Gonna help you all procrastinate with some crits from The Worst Week (#193)
So, my plan was to write down my reactions on a first read, then go back and critique the parts I didn't get to. Luckily, you guys kept your stories interesting enough that I read almost all of them all the way through (with the exception of
Same. As is standard nowadays I was reading in judgemode so didn't know who wrote each story; however to try and reduce the impact of judge fatigue on later stories, I read them in alphabetical order rather than posted order.
Titlecrit: Intriguing. Want to find out the significance.
Tense hosed up here and there. Not a happy thing especially in the first paragraph. You substituted “Alexis” for “Morgan” at one point. “Tears in her ears” a bit out of the blue given the tone of the story - not sure it was intentional. Pulls back collar to reveal burns on arm? Struggling to visualise this.
The story, hmm. It’s not awful but not super wow either. The protagonist is creepy and one-dimensional, OTOH I enjoy her intensity of feeling and her singlemindedness definitely gives the story direction. Some nice touches of imagery in some places, but some mundane phrasing that could be pepped up in others. Quite middling overall I think.
Arms Bent Back Until They Break
Titlecrit: Graphic. I shall read this with interest.
For goodness’ sake if you pick present tense STICK TO IT. This is back and forth like a seesaw. Stinging seems a weird, superficial word for an arm that’s twisting itself until the bone splinters. Mom’s hand wrapped around the phone is a good image. Could do with a lot of tightening up in the mid section.
It feels like actions are described in too much detail in places e.g. the raid on Mom’s house - very staccato, small actions so it's hard to follow the overall flow. For example this paragraph: "We walk over to the door and I let go of Daniel’s hand. I grab onto the doorknob, and Daniel touches my twisted arm." Why not just leave the walking over/letting go implied, they don't seem to add anything to the story. "As I grab the doorknob, Daniel touches my twisted arm."
The descriptions of twisted limbs and pain and stuff are lacking something, quite detached, I wasn't really feeling it. Although maybe that's the point as grief can be numbing? Still felt like a missed opportunity. It actually took me until near the end to realise the twisting up is about the physical manifestation of twisting up inside from grief; this is a great concept but this story didn’t really hit the mark for me. Especially the way Daniel just accepts the verdict at the end.
Titlecrit: I feel neutral about this. Suspect it will neither add to nor take away from the story.
Decently written with regards to spelling/punctuation/grammar but some of the blocking actions (actions that take place alongside/punctuating the dialogue) feel either unrealistic or overly elaborated on. You could trim the description down a lot overall. Nice having a dragon PI but the young man not spotting it the second he walks in isn't believable.
You spend way too long - like half the story - focusing on the young man's hesitation and grief, and then the "investigation" itself doesn't amount to much at all. The story mainly hangs on the interestingly weird fact that the girlfriend is a star, although that kinda feels more like surrealism than magical realism? "Exploded because she was so happy" is a bit of a stretch - it would be clever if it was a common idiom but it ain't.
Overall you've given yourself a couple of good ideas to work with, but the piece doesn't quite scale the ladder to the heights of "actually a story".
Harper and the Rails
Titlecrit: ??? I have no idea what to expect here.
A few typos but I am enjoying the tone after the opening paragraphs. It feels like the makings of a story, even if the beginning is fairly well-trodden.
Intrigued by George's apparent worry that Keane has learnt words. The first hint that there might be something darker going on, but hard to believe at this point.
The tone of the writing - and George's speech - as he gets drunker doesn't feel in keeping with how you started. That may be intentional but it pulled me out of the story a bit. I'm sure there's a way of telling the same story with a little less of a jarring stylistic change.
You brought a nice ending to a nice adventure. A longer story allowed you to actually tell a story at your own leisure, and while it isn't especially original, it is nicely written and I didn't get bored. Not my pick for an HM but was fine with it getting one.
Titlecrit: Short and sweet. It's a good word, might be referring to curse or something to do with geometry. Either would please me.
Proboscis twitching - thanks for not trying to save the fact that the actors aren't human for a twist. Lots of good imagery throughout this piece - you're making your sentences do work, which always pleases me. Not a fan of italicising the body parts though. (Also, do ants have blood?)
Man, I like this but I'd like to like it even more. You've got a really nice, detached, dreamlike tone which you maintain well throughout the piece - but I'm confused as gently caress about the plot. The fact that I went back to re-read this and see if it made more sense a second time is a testament to your prose, but the fact that it still didn't make sense meant I couldn't wholeheartedly support its HM.
I Didn’t Start the Fire
Titlecrit: Hmm, arson. Literal or figurative? Cautiously optimistic for this one.
This is definitely an intriguing start, although it seems more like surrealism than magical realism so far. Noticed a stray "It's" - is this newtestleper’s story? (hint: no)
Took me a bit of time to figure out what these chemicals have in common - flammability... are these people dragons? Not really, but you can see the inspiration there, that part of the prompt has been put to great use.
Ock punchline? God drat you. Overall I enjoyed this, but marks have been deducted for "surrealism rather than magical realism" and "Ock".
Like Recipes for Love
Titlecrit: Cookery and emotions probably involved. Neutral about this one.
Nice start. First two sentences are weak, but do serve to establish names, and you clear up the crypticness pretty fast. The story in this piece strongly reminds me of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, probably my wife’s favourite book. Good magical realism.
Overall I like it; much like the cake, very sweet although could have more substance. It surprised me (probably a good thing) when Rey came straight out and asked Aditi out rather than you waiting until the cake was tasted for the reveal. Only issue is I kinda wanted a more drawn-out awkward/suspense phase; there’s not a lot of conflict. Girl loves girl - girl loves girl back - all is happy times.
Miss Maron's 3rd Grade Class
Titlecrit: Sounds like this is going to be an insubstantial, goofy one. Please surprise me.
I like *whrrr* as an indicator of lying. Love the subtle lead-up to the fact that these are adults in class. And then "human disassembly" oh god. This started cute, quickly went through creepy and into downright menacing. I like the repetition of “three guesses”.
I initially assumed the lightning wielders were the robots while the fire wielders were humans, making this a robot apocalypse story. It was quite intriguing when I realised I was wrong. You've got a good setting here with lots of story potential.
The manager being the father of Christina’s children seems a bit random. I guess it does add to the sense of exploitation though - the more I think about this whole story the creepier it is.
Despite the length of your story, I wanted to read more at the end. Great work. This wasn't my pick for the win at first as the ending doesn't quite live up to its potential, but after I'd finished reading all the stories this was the one that stuck in my mind more than any other. Well deserved HM.
Monday Night Meltdown
Titlecrit: Promises drama AND tells us the day of the week! I’ll take it.
First impression: OK, magical WWF. I don’t follow WWF so don’t expect me to be nodding along grinning at all the good ol’ tropes and staples of the sport. Guess I’ll be judging on story!
“Right before integration” - bits of backstory slipped in smoothly - this is good.
Why was the Labyrinth reeling? Did you miss a paragraph? "A blacksmithstress Pig monstrosity by charming a hero" - this badly needs a proofread. Overall, a decently fun fight description - good on magical realism, short on story, awful on proofreading. I didn't have it down for a DM but I can see why it got one.
Titlecrit: Not sure what this means. Neutral.
Cripes, a lengthy one-sentence paragraph to start. Deliberately run-on I'm sure. Honestly, I think the main reason I made it past the stodgy, befuddling beginning is because I secretly love the elaborate, meandering style of sentence construction that was all the rage in the 19th century.
The story needs a bunch more editing and proof reading. There's a lot of "started to", "began to" type stuff that should be raising red flags on a proofreading pass as it's almost always suboptimal - instead of writing "she started running towards the altar" just put "she ran towards the altar".
I made it all the way to the end without too much difficulty, which I did not expect after that second paragraph, so well done. It’s a proper story! With a nice ending! Just not sure condensing the sprawling fantasy epic in the middle into a short story has done it any favours.
Titlecrit: Like ninety-nine problems? Well I like dragons, let’s see what you do with them all.
Haha, yes it’s exactly like ninety-nine problems. I like this story. It starts off very normal and the dragons are thrown in without a bat of the eye on anyone’s part. My one gripe is it's a bit far-fetched how fast the protagonist figures out that dragons = problems, but this story is a great example of magical realism in a tidy short word count. Had it down for an HM, although not my initial pick for the win.
Titlecrit: Neutral, doesn’t give much hint of what to expect. The story will hopefully clarify it.
Lol at Mayor Jarred, but what’s the no-fly zone all about? You don't give any convincing reason for it.
"Some of my best friends are dragons" raised a smile as I'm not above being amused by a trope or two. It's nice to read something short and lighthearted and goofy, but it's all a bit TOO light to be a serious contender. The ending is vaguely funny in a subverting-the-pattern sort of way but not especially satisfying.
Scales and Fire
Titlecrit: Sounds like this is going to be a bona fide, serious dragon story. Strap in, kids!
First sentence is classic magical realism. Good.
"Garnished it with a sympathetic look" - I like this turn of phrase.
Mr Bartender - ah ok, a goofy story then. You sure fooled me with that title! This was a nice lighthearted read but I'm not convinced by the story-ness of it - or indeed the magical realism-ness, given that the dragon turned out to be a hallucination. Harry taking the dragon in his stride might count, or he might just be a nutter. Never mind, I actually enjoyed this up until the boring ending.
Serpent in the Nest
Titlecrit: Sssserpentular. Sounds like a poisonous, traitorous sort of story. Probably serious business.
Dawn and Taye, interesting names (dunno why that struck me, never heard of Taye before).
Egg lifelines on his hands is pretty out there, was expecting that to be immediately forgotten about and then come predictably into play near the end, so I'm glad I was wrong and you developed it quickly. Liking the feel of the piece - the story gets steadily creepier starting with Dawn’s... dawning disappearance.
Overall - very surreal and no real resolution. I like the mood it creates. I think the impact of this story will depend on the reader’s state of mind. Needed to consult the other judges but for my part I decided it was just about worth...
Titlecrit: Getting bored of doing titlecrits now. This title has a full stop at the end of it. This is unusual.
It's always a relief to encounter a really short piece late in the critting, and it's interesting to read something written in the second person as well. But it's hard for something this short to really make an impact - I suspect sub-500 word entries mostly get DMs rather than HMs, wins or losses.
This was confusing on the first run through so it was a good thing it was short. Having seen your polished version later, the main thrust of the story with the girl seeing herself turning into her mother went completely over my head, but it nonetheless made me think, in a good way. It felt like you managed to carve a hint of story out of a vignette of vignettes.
Scoring this one was hard... 6/10?
The Boy Who Couldn’t Do Anything Right
Titlecrit: Pretty different from most other titles this week. Could be serious or goofy. Seems like an interesting one either way.
Initial impression: this is good stuff. Those tags though - preview your posts, people!
This is a nice, tight, feelgood story. In judgemode I thought it might be Kaishai's (that's a compliment hopefully). It felt like at least an HM, possibly the winner, but my co-judges weren't as enthused so I guess I'm just a sucker for a happy ending? I did have to agree with them that this setting was much more straight-up fantasy than magical realism.
The Dry Times
Titlecrit: A tale of hardship and woe, sounds fun
Why is a white egg the size of a quarter attracting any notice/discussion at all? What merits them going back to check on it the next day? Why not move the eggs rather than your cows? These kind of questions prevented me ever really getting pulled into this story.
Also, were the eggs supposed to be growing as well as multiplying? Because that's never mentioned, and I assumed right the way through that they were all the size of a quarter. Given that assumption, the ending doesn't quite read right.
I dunno man, it's readable prose but I'm not really convinced by it as a story.
The Family Business
Titlecrit: Fine title but I have a feeling I won't find out what the business is till halfway through the story
Vashti and Mer, more unusual names. I like how the description of their driving gives us insight into their character already.
Wow, someone's been reading the saidbook. Despite what you were taught in high school English class, it's okay to use "said" most of the time; it's an invisible word and by so conspicuously avoiding it you're just drawing attention to something that doesn't need it. And "struggled to say" twice in quick succession? Blargh.
Why is it the end of days? And what does "I got the wrong one" mean?
It took a bit of discussion for the judges to decide on a loser. While not irredeemable, this piece took the honour because it was pretty confusing, too short for the story it was telling and that story in itself wasn't terribly interesting.
This is a Story About Anxiety
Titlecrit: I sort of like this idea of an anti-cryptic title, but it had better be accompanied by a not half-arsed story.
This... could do with a proofing pass and a fair bit of polish to the wording. I think it's a good take on magical realism and I like the description of "slipping between". I think the overall concept and tie-in with anxiety are probably pretty good? However, I didn't finish this one on a first attempt and skimmed chunks on the re-read because you get bogged down in a lot of descriptive detail that just didn't keep me engaged.
Cut, cut, cut please! And keep an eye out for cliches such as "so thick I could cut it with a knife". Wait, that's not what you wrote! Your version was "so thick I could reach out and cut it with a knife if I wanted to", which is a perfect example of the verbiage that makes this piece so hard to get through.
4/10 and I was totes gunning for a DM, but sittinghere rescued you because she's nice like that.
Waiting For the Lightning
Titlecrit: Dynamic and yet not! I wonder what this story will bring
Another short one eh? It's the second last I have to read, so I'm ok with this. "Sharp molars" seems like a contradiction in terms. Overall it's definitely a vignette, not a story. I found it poignant and enjoyable but can't see my way to picking it for an HM.
You, Me and the Body
Titlecrit: Not sure what to expect - neutral
Ahhh what is going on is Frank a ghost and a body separately? It's cool that they’re taking this in their stride, that's a good marker of magical realism. But, I dunno, the whole scenario seems fairly mundane (calling the main character Frank wasn't a great sign in retrospect) and I can't find an engaging story in there.
|# ? May 1, 2016 12:00|
oh you are all so horrible
who wants a brawl
i will gently caress you up
|# ? May 1, 2016 12:33|
oh you are all so horrible
|# ? May 1, 2016 12:41|
ok you yappy cocksucker, you want it, here it is
you choose the prompt, i do the word count
|# ? May 1, 2016 13:02|
ok you yappy cocksucker, you want it, here it is
You're both bad but i'll judge this whenever you stop being bad long enough to pick a prompt/wordcount
|# ? May 1, 2016 15:53|
The recruiter, a slim and balding man, was working his teeth into a particularly nasty hangnail when Hunter came in. He paused, and with slow comprehension, asked "Whaddayawant?"
"I'm...uh...here to sign up."
"'Kay." The man started to peck out some keys on the keyboard.
Hunter was a bit nonplussed, but rallied. "I've always wanted to join the Pan-American Collective, ever since I was a kid. Saw the warfront videos. I've been working out for months, and I'm down to a five-minute mile-"
"Don't care," the man repeated nonchalantly. He resumed his typing. Hunter could see the headline "PANCO GRAND JURY CONVENES" screaming out in 72-point font on a small TV in the corner.
An old hologram shot out the back of the computer- but this was ancient, early twenty-first century quality at best. Nevertheless, it displayed a (flickering) text field titled "TERMS AND CONDITIONS". "Read and sign."
Hunter walked over to the hologram and tried to read it. The text was too small and the flickering was too frequent to make any headway, nevermind the obtuse legalese the document was stuffed with. After five minutes with no progress, Hunter cringed internally, scrolled quickly to the bottom (which took a solid minute), and signed his name.
"'Hunter Forrest'? Your parents were assholes, huh?"
"Okay. 'Do you want to have any notices or special offers e or v-mailed to you?'"
There was a long, awkward pause.
"'Do you want to-'"
"No! No, I don't! I just want to fight for my country! That's it."
"Well, okay." The recruiter looked uncharacteristically serious for the first time the entire meeting. "I need you to agree to this NDA. Standard stuff- under no circumstances can you disclose anything you learn while employed in the Pan-American Collective."
"Oh." Finally, an island of sanity amidst all the weirdness. "Cause of, like, opsec?"
"Sounds good." Hunter signed the release. "So now what. When do I get shipped off to training?"
"Training?" the recruiter asked quizzically.
A glowing light engulfed Hunter, and he winked out of existence.
Hunter stumbled out of the teleporter, completely disoriented. A tough looking young woman was there to greet him. Hunter could hear the far off thuds of artillery fire.
"You Hunter?" she asked.
"Yeah. Wait- am I on the front lines?" Hunter realized.
"Don't tell me you didn't read the Terms And Conditions," the woman replied. At the look of puzzlement on his face, she sighed deeply. "Okay. I don't have time for this, we're already behind schedule. I'm your manager, Bridget."
"We gotta assault that bunker," Bridget continued, pointing to a nearby hill. She thrust an M-16 into Hunter's hands. "You've used a rifle before, right? Let's go."
"Wait! What are the tactics? Where am I? What's happening? Where's my laser gun?"
"Lasers are expensive. Just go with the flow, what's the worst that'll happen?"
With that, Bridget started running at the enemy bunker. The flash of machine gun fire illuminated its interior briefly. Around him, Kevin could see many of his fellow Collective soldiers being cut down. Wasn't this supposed to be 2312? Why where they using - what, four hundred year old tech?
Hunter rushed over to where one of them lay. Turning him onto his back, Hunter saw that he'd been shot in the gut. His entrails where hanging out limply. The smell was horrendous.
"Okay, this-this hurts really bad. I need you to kill me," the man said, pale-faced.
"No! You'll...you'll be fine, it's...we can fix you up," Hunter reassured him, choking back a sob.
"Oh for...you didn't read the loving Terms and Conditions," the groaning man spat out angrily. "Look. Look at me. New guy. I'm going to come back. So shoot me in the head. It's just mercy at this point."
"Didn't you hear him?" a voice from behind him interrupted. Bridget stepped out. "He said that he's going to come back."
She unsheathed her pistol and shot him. The nameless man lay still. She sighed deeply. "Maybe it'll be better if you see," raised the pistol, and shot Hunter in the head.
Bridget opened up the chamber. Hunter stumbled out, coughing.
"Okay, come on, we gotta go, we're on a suicide mission," Bridget continued curtly. Hunter opened her mouth to protest. "Before you ask, yes, you just died, and yes, I killed you. I'll explain on the way." The duo picked their way through the eerily silent battlefield.
"So, wait, where are we going? How am I alive? What happened? Where is everyone?" Hunter asked.
"Workday's over. I'm only out here because I'm being paid overtime." Bridget checked the news on her tablet. "'PanCo grand jury', huh? Shouldn't be an issue."
"Overtime?" Hunter asked querulously.
"Okay, so what do you know about the two sides in this war?"
"Uh, there's the Pan-American Collective and the European Corps-"
"Wrong. There's PanCo and EuroCorp. They're the two companies who've monetized this thing. Perpetual war means perpetual income, right?"
"Sure, I guess."
"Right. But what does an endless war need?"
"Endless soldiers," Hunter realized.
"Exactly. So they just transfer bodies whenever anybody dies. That's another profit stream too. I mean, you noticed the change, right?"
Hunter suddenly noticed the back of her hands. "Wait...I'm black?" She looked down. "And a woman?"
"Yeah, cheapest model. They charge you if you want to be any other race. White's the most expensive. And PanCo gets to lower your paycheck by thirty percent if you're female."
The duo loaded into the crusier, which quickly lifted off.
"So what now?" Hunter asked.
"Well, now we're going to crash this hunk of trash into the side of a EuroCorp base. Hopefully we destroy a couple of high-value targets and cost EC some cash in regeneration bills. If not, whatever."
As they settled into the descent, Hunter remarked, "You know, this is extremely hosed up."
"Eh, you get used to it." Bridget's tablet beeped and illuminated. "'PanCo' wait, no!" She climbed into the front and started desperately attempting to pull back on the throttle. it wouldn't budge.
"What's the problem?" Hunter asked, fear in her voice.
"PanCo CEO and board of directors just got indicted on collusion charges!"
"'So!' 'So!' So what happens when your company gets indicted?!"
"Uh, they arrest you, they take your files, they freeze your assets...wait."
"Yeah, exactly. They freeze your assets. And who do you think pays our regen bills?"
Bridget fiddled with the console. "Hmm, not enough fuel to fly away. Makes sense. Like how kamikaze pilots in World War II had exactly enough gas for a one-way trip."
An uneasy silence descended in the cabin.
"You know," said Hunter at last, "what made me join was videos of Captain Bridge and his Howling Commandos fighting on the front lines of V291. It was-"
The ship exploded.
|# ? May 1, 2016 22:07|
lol okay I've used this brawl prompt before but it remains one of my absolute favourites and brings out the best in everybody
ok you yappy cocksucker, you want it, here it is
Write a story set in a secondary world that is totally different from our own. It must be almost unrecognisable. It cannot be a world you've previously written about.
This does not free you from the obligation to write an actual story.
|# ? May 1, 2016 22:36|
1k words, exactly. Not including title.
|# ? May 2, 2016 00:41|
How To Finish A Sentence
Okay, first of all, let me just say that I never intended to live inside your head for this long.
Spiders never learn all the different ways to express ourselves that humans do, all right? I’m sorry, but we’re simple creatures. All of the things we have to know and say and do and feel could all be categorized under “one-syllable words that start with F.” Fight. Find. Feed. Flee. gently caress, and then Feed again. And Flow, which is how we build our nests, but you wouldn’t know that unless you were a spider.
I only crawled into your ear canal in the first place because I was Fleeing. First I was in the middle of Feeding on a horsefly that my mother had liquefied for me and my siblings, and then suddenly the world unraveled. Back then, I didn’t know what I know now, which is how one event follows another. One event causes the next. So I didn’t know why I was suddenly on the floor scurrying away from the heavy shadow that was killing my family, I just knew that I was. Flee. Find. Flee. Find.
And I found you.
Of course, I didn’t know you were you or that I was me, I just knew darkness, and warmth, and that the blood pulsing in your ears lulled me into feeling safe, and to keep crawling, to burrow if I had to, deeper, deeper, until I could rest.
I didn’t disturb anything, I swear. Not until I found those things.
They were like the spun balls of web my mother covered flies in so they wouldn’t struggle, white orbs soft as something unborn—but they were floating around, free from any silk lattice. I tried to stay away from them, I honestly did—I was born with the drive to fear the unknown, to treat the unfamiliar like the unapproachable, to stay hidden from the light, tucked into dark corners and crevices—but one of them
caught in my jaws before I could shy away.
It tasted like—
—salt burning in the back of my throat as I screamed and the air that escaped my mouth looked so much like the thing that had caused me the first real pain I’d ever had, the jellyfish undulating over my elbow like a Pepto-Bismol sun over a ridge—
—and I was shaking, and scared, but a little less hungry that I was before.
So many feelings at once, polysyllabic and multifaceted, so many firsts I was unprepared for, but my young stomach kept poking at my microscopic brain like a thread poking at the eye of a needle: Feed. Feed. Feed.
So I did.
And I learned about you, as I devoured the memories I thought you wouldn’t miss. First it was childhood awfuls, levitating light bulbs burning bright with agony and indignation. Scrapes and slices and burns and bruises. Then I grew bored, and diversified my tastes. Fed myself upon your insecurities, your secret desires, feelings you had before you could name them properly. And then I stumbled upon those moments of confidence, of unbridled joy, those moments when you were on top of life like it was this colossal creature that wasn’t aware of your existence, and you were just trying to hang on, ride it until it tired itself out. I felt all those feelings, and they scared me beyond measure. Finally, I just stuck with the cold metallic taste of facts. State capitals. Lacrosse players. Tax seasons. The proper way to put a carburetor back together.
See all those complicated words? You taught them to me. Like I said, we don’t grow up like this. As far as I know, I’m the most intelligent spider in the world, which is somewhat like winning the lottery when you’re stranded on a desert island. I’ve received a tremendous windfall and there’s absolutely nothing I can do with it.
Which is why I can’t leave. I can’t bring what I know back to spider-dom like some arachnid conquistador. They only know Fight, Flee, Flow, Fear. Fear whatever they can’t fit into their tiny heads. I would be killed and eaten by the first of my kind I came across, or I’d be shunned, shoved away, into bright light made of waiting death. So I stayed, and gorged myself, and hoped you wouldn’t notice or care. I could feel the way you turned in your sleep as I tried not to move too much and disturb you, but I just ignored it, told myself that everything was fine.
But last night, you almost died.
I was woken up by barreling red spheres of thought, one after another after another, all sizzling with chemical energy. I saw a road glaring with white light, gravel and potholes disappearing under the hood of your car faster than a spider could ever scurry. I felt your fear and self-alienation, your imprisonment in your own body, your bewilderment at the person you thought you were.
And then there was a massive smash followed by absolute silence, and I felt a despair that wasn’t yours anymore.
Ever since then, my body was been consumed with Flow, Flow, Flow. The beeping from the machine you’re hooked up to timed my movements. I pulled apart the floating orbs of memory, broke them into strands, component inklings, and wove them back together into something larger. Over, under, up and around, repeat. One word leads into the next. Place one word in front of the other, you get a sentence, and then you put another sentence after that, and another after that.
It was the first time I’d ever felt like a spider.
Since the thoughts have dimmed, trickled in slower, I still haven’t finished. There are some things I still need to say, but I have no idea how to say them. My message is in front of me, its ragged edges trailing off into space, and I have nothing left to fill the space with.
You’re asleep now, for I don’t know how long, asleep like you were when I first made you my home. So there’s a hope inside me that I can somehow reach you this way. I have to.
Because I need you to finish my sentences for me.
I need us both to go on living, to keep experiencing and loving and grieving and raging and feeling. That would be my dream, that we could exist and grow together, happy and fulfilled, without any cost. I know you loathe me. I felt it right before you went away. I never asked for things to be how they are, but you can’t un-know something once you’ve known it. I can’t go back to Fight and gently caress and Feed and Flee, those simple one-word self-evident sentences, even though everything in me cries out for it. I’m just sorry, sorrier than any words could ever express, for doing this to you, and for not dying before I realized I didn’t want to die at all.
All I can do is send you what I’ve been able to say, and hope that you’ll be able to fill in the parts that are unfinished.
|# ? May 2, 2016 01:34|
A Wall all Night 961 words
Flipped from my losing story Dust Dust Dust All Night, here: http://writocracy.com/thunderdome/?story=4597&title=Dust+Dust+Dust+All+Night
Satch didn't glide, he tumbled. He'd was 'new', a term that, like 'glide', was completely relative. He'd died. He had to handle this, or he'd drop down, maybe even to choir. Rough baritone at best. He wanted to move, though. He wanted to be a guardian.
'Break down their walls,' his landing mission echoed.
Satch was a man, once, so he 'got' what the message was saying. An angel, a pure being, would have roasted the air to solve the problem, but Satch had finesse.
He pulled a landing at the end of a curved driveway, packed with cars. Inside, the party was split by a marbled hallway. On the left, the den, were people dancing to suburban booty bass. On the right, the partygoers were frozen watching an argument. No. A fight.
Jack lounged in a crumpled seersucker while sipping on neat scotch. "Well look, Sarah, maybe you should get off my rear end, huh?" His voice was amplified by the alcohol and didn't need context. "We're trying to throw a party here, and you just bitch, bitch, bitch."
"Bitch? Bitch!?" Sarah's voice hit desperation. "Look at yourself, Jack. Look at you crawling back into the hole! You promised!" She reached for his scotch. Jack pulled it away and gulped a single malt down.
Satch touched Jack and dove deep.
Jack. Clean for five years, after two with Sarah, and had the chip to prove it. She'd balanced his steps, denial, pre-breakfast vomit, more denial, and his shaking when they kissed in the morning. She'd forgiven each plastic vodka bottle under jeans, inside unused luggage, and in old shoes in coat closets.
"Oh, here's the fuckin' lawyer, getting on my case." Jack leaned in, gritting his teeth with a whiskey-stink. "Don't you have a deposition to give to Judge Harris in the den?" Jack was rambling, furious, drunk. "I hear the way to get ahead is to give a head, huh?". Satch winced at the clumsy insult while Sarah left the room.
'Take down the wall.', a voice echoed to Satch.
Satch didn't like where he'd have to start, but he followed Sarah onto the dancefloor as Jack refilled his scotch. Just as she crossed the threshold, Satch reached out and held her shoulder.
Satch saw a woman burdened. Fights after Jack had fallen off the wagon, her heart eclipsed by his problems. Satch saw their intimacy cool to a soft ember, and then Sarah in bed with the judge. Jac stopped asking about her needs, her attention. She'd given to Jack until there was nothing left, then had sought some fulfillment for herself before she snapped in half.
Satch cracked his metaphysical knuckles, reviewed what he'd been presented, and understood why this was his task, his wall.
In Satch's estimation, they'd pushed opposite sides of a matrimonial wall that wouldn't yield. Satch didn't want to think about failing on this one, a task of people, by people. He'd be judged by pure beings, a metaphysical lashing waiting to happen.
Satch followed Sarah onto the modified dancefloor, which she passed in favor of a recliner to the right. Just before they turned the corner, he looked back at Jack. He'd cracked a bottle of water and was sitting under the mantle, alone. When Satch turned, Sarah had moved to a leather chair. She perched on its ottoman, then laid a hand on Judge Harris' knee. In the old days, with the angels, the Judge would have clasped his chest and slumped, followed by every other guest at the party. Satch couldn't, thank God, do that. Instead, he twiddled.
Word ran through the party quickly that Tessa's, Sarah's work-friend, had a cousin who could open the rope at a two story glass dance palace downtown. Satch had the most power over those not directly involved. He twiddled a little more until Judge Harris buttoned his coat and was gone. It was the opposite of the old guardian angels, who had ethereal focus and made clean sweeps.
With the party down and empty, it was just Jack, Sarah, art deco, and Satch. Jack had shuffled into the dancefloor and joined Sarah on the ground. He suffused booze from his pores and Sarah wasn't making eye contact. This was the place, Satch thought. He drew his arms overhead, ready to shatter the wall between them.
His metaphysical hammer struck between them, then cranked back, throwing Satch across the room in ethereal failure.
He studied them closer. Jack had lost his lopsided boozy grin and Sarah didn't look furious, just resigned. Satch's arms burned from the mistaken breaker. Jack and Sarah moved closer together, then Satch saw the wall.
Satch struck, with his hands this time, at cherubic masonry surrounding and enclosing the couple. Sarah sank into Jack's shoulder. He held her like a friend giving comfort.
Satch struck with the hammer this time, crushing marble only he could see. His physicality was mirrored in the couple on the sofa. Sarah had taken off her engagement ring and placed it on the ottoman between them.
Satch moved through the rest of the wall as a maelstrom while the couple moved apart. When the unseen barrier was rubble, Sarah turned back.
Still cracked-eyed, Jack looked to her. "Yeah?"
She collected the ring on her way upstairs, leaving it on the bare dining table. "It's over."
Jack didn't cry, or beg forgiveness. He took off his blazer, turned off his phone, and darkened the room, their ring still catching whatever rays still glowed in the home. He leaned back and exhaled deeply.
Satch was walking out of the house before Jack was asleep. Finesse, seeing walls, and breaking them without breaking their architects. Every person needs a guardian with their back to a wall.
|# ? May 2, 2016 02:01|
I'm trying to invert the original theme of leaving home with a new theme of finding home.
On the Farm
Word Count: 976
The longhouse was alight with the quiet symphony of it's sleeping inhabitants. Jameson crept past the overfilled cots and through the mess of blankets and people strewn on the floor. A glance back at Rebecca, her calloused hands clutching a raggedy quilt and brown hair cast over the edge of her cot. Jacket thrown over one shoulder and boots in hand Jameson unlatched the door and made his way into the night. He moved quickly away from the string of longhouses. Past the storehouses and fire pits, then around the watchmen, half of them asleep at their posts.
He navigated the snaking dirt paths leading out of the community with practiced skill, crossing through the fields, corn stalks holding small ears, a good sign this early in the year. The corn gave way to beans which gave away to desert. The hills guarding this paradise loomed in the distance, beyond them nothing but wasteland for miles.
Jameson had grown up on the farm. Long hours in the field had toughened his skin and blistered his hands. He watched his father bring in the harvest with the rest of the town for fourteen years. Rebecca had been a girl then, bright eyed and quick with a joke. They'd walk the paths to the main road at night and trade tales of adventure in distant lands. When his father died; Jameson left. Not a word to Rebecca. As much water and food as he could carry on his back and no destination, he walked the road until he couldn't anymore. A slave master had found him half dead in the midday heat. The man's cracked tooth grin and rancid breath where his first experience of people outside the farm.
Years of hard living and close calls had passed between then and now, but the fields looked the same under the moonlight. Perched atop the barrier hill Jameson looked down onto the land that these people pulled their livelihood from. The carefully dug irrigation streams connected to the array of humidity traps neatly arranged against the wind. Lean-tos in clearings dotting the fields which would provide reprieve from the tyranny of the sun. Now the sea of green was almost glowing.
Come harvest they would plant winter wheat, to be replaced in the spring by another crop. The children would learn to grind the wheat while their parents did the planting. The elders would sift the flour, grading it for quality. The best would go into pasties and treats. Some would be set aside for general use throughout the year. The rest was baked into hard kaffa loaves which would be stored underground in large clay containers, kept from the suns heat and the night creatures until they were dug up to be had with bean soup or dipped in chili stew.
The youngest children would stay in the longhouses with the elders who would trade stories of harvests past and gossip about the young couples who'd sired their charges. Their older siblings would trail their parents in the fields, playing games in the towering corn stalks and learning the secrets of the planting from exasperated parents. In the evening they would gather around bonfires to celebrate life and good fortune, and come next summer many of the pairs made there would have children of their own.
“You don't have to leave again. We could be happy here.” Rebecca had told him after a hard day of planting. “I can see it in your eyes. You don't have to leave. I can't stop you if you do.”
The night after Jameson wandered back into town, Rebecca had pulled him to their spot on the hill. From there they had talked about everything they had missed. Jameson told stories of blood and greed. Rebecca talked about the newest couples and their children. “I've never been with another. The elders say I'm too old to not have a family.” Eventually she would move on, and Jameson would be a forgotten fantasy. A story to be told around the fire; warning anyone foolish enough to leave.
A breath, then a turn. He was walking away. A slow descent from the hill and a quick pace to a motorcycle stashed away from the main road and prying eyes. Raids were common, it was far easier to steal what you needed to survive than to make it yourself. There was a benefit to his delayed departure: he could be sure no one had seen him arrive. The farmers would be safe to care for their crop, and the harvest would be bountiful. Rebecca might find a nice man to start a family with when he didn't return next planting.
A marking stone the size of a large carrot and shaped not much different was driven into the hard cracked earth, beneath it a well used tarp. Jameson worked the stone out of the earth, and examined the tarp for holes. He pulled it back, exposing a beaten motorcycle. His bike was his life in the wastes. The bundle of food he'd stashed away the week previous would be enough to keep him fed and his bike fueled until the next town. The waste fuel conversion kit was pricey, but it allowed him a freedom that few drifters had. He unscrewed the intake cap, and cranked the grinding mechanism. Out of a brown cloth satchel came two ears of corn, enough to get him far enough to make camp without Rebecca finding him.
When they were children they would wander the rows of corn, playing their games. She would hunt him, then he would hunt her. He switched the mechanism off, and redrew the tarp over the bike. The marking stone in place, he turned once again and began his walk to the town.
“Just until harvest.” Jameson says. Maybe he could be happy here.
|# ? May 2, 2016 02:16|
I am inverting the winner of Thunderdome CIII: http://forums.somethingawful.com/sh...0#post432759710
Whimsy 975 Words
The Master emerged from a revolving door, its wooden surface painted with a crude portrait of an ancient man.
“My newest addition!” The Master offered, extending his hand for Jonah’s.
Jonah clutched a sun-shaped metal charm that hung around his neck and shook his Master’s hand. He was nervous, the two had barely met before today.
“A bit… crude, don’t you think” Jonah’s eyebrow raised quizzically in reply, before tensing.
“Ah” The Master smirked, stepping back to admire his prize. “it’s a bit bright in here to truly enjoy the tomb. A bit of mystery best reserved for more… romantic lighting. Now my dear Jonah, where to begin? With a flourish the Master spun about and strode to a nearby table, his bedazzled cape catching the light as he moved.
“It was Elaia that brought you here was it not?” The Master offered, now rummaging through a pile of accoutrement on the Table
“Yes” Jonah said, sighing heavily.
“Picked you out of the crowd did She?” The Master looked up briefly and winked at Jonah.
“Yes she did.” Jonah replied. He felt his face flush at the memory. “She was magnificent, its why I am here. She stood there, in front of so many… and she was amazing. She showed us things I never thought were even possible. I locked eyes with here there, in the crowd. She seemed to pick me out, we shared a moment and that was only the beginning.”
The Master stood now in front of Jonah, a wand held loosely in one hand, his eyes alight.
“And how long ago was that dear boy?”
“Fully ten years I should think” Jonah replied softly
“Ten years…” The Master said waving his wand about lazily
Jonah though back to when he first met Elaia, she was different then, a gifted witch full of life and promise. The spark, though, has since faded, her magic dull and jaded. Jonah wasn’t even sure the last time she left the house.
“She was good, Elaia.” The Master offered. “Though the last time I saw her practice she seemed bored, and rushed. Almost angry in her practice. Not many who witnessed her then were very amused I should think. Not the way to practice the art! You need mystery my dear boy.” The Master drew very close to Jonah in that moment before he whispering. “And whimsy my dear boy, you need whimsy.” The master spun around with another flourish to his desk and began to rummage again.
Jonah sighed before speaking. “I am afraid it’s worse than that, she hasn’t left the house in ages and she has taken to the drink. Spends most of her time huddled in the dark. I can barely get her to speak, even to me!”
The Master paused a bit from his rummaging. “Oh dear. Yes, a dark thing indeed. It has happened to others.” He looked up, locking eyes with Jonah. “The practice takes a lot out of you. You have to go out every night and deliver, with conviction.” He raised his hand gripping it into a fist. “It’s not all arcane arts you know. Some think I just need wave a wand and mutter the words. The truly great sway, convince, and mesmerize!” The Master produced a small bottle from his desk, uncorked it and sprinkled out a small bit of powder on his hands. “Tell me about the time you saw Elaia at her happiest.” He began to rub the powder over his hands.
“Well that was probably when I proposed to her.” Jonah offered, his eyes grew a bit distant. “I spent a long time hunting down her favorite flower, a rare one, a Deborah. I Proposed on one knee with the biggest diamond I could afford. Really lit her face up, I’ve never see her smile so much.”
“Ahh, Diamonds, lovely” The Master replied as he turned to face Jonah. He rolled up his sleeves and wriggled his hands in front of Jonah. “Now my dear boy, a bit of the old whimsy, and a favorite of Elaia’s I might add.” The master uttered a few arcane words and with a flick of his wrist a tiny ball of flame formed just above his out stretched hand. It grew quickly to small ball of lively flame and hovered just above his palm.
Jonah gasped, he instinctively began to reach out for the flame
“Hold your hand out.” The Master commanded
Jonah held his palm out, and the flame gently glided to rest just above his palm. He could feel its heat on his hand, but it wasn’t burning him. “It’s beautiful” He muttered.
“Now for the fun!” The Master grinned, flicking his hand once again.
The ball of flame sputtered out and landed in Jonah’s hand. It was a delicate black sphere, and barely weighed anything at all.
The Master drew close. “Now of course you know about playing cards, yes?” he asked.
“Well then, go on pick one.”
“Break the ball open.” The Master commanded.
Jonah pushed his finger easily into the ball, and it quickly collapsed into a pile of ash. He could feel something waxy. Jonah blew the ash off and revealed a card. A ten of Diamonds. “I don’t believe it!” He gasped.
“Whimsy my dear boy.” The master winked at him, a big smile on his face.
Elaia sat, her head resting against the table, a bottle snuggled against her face. She sighed deeply, her eyes fixed on the window across the room
“ELAIA” Jonah yelled, swinging open the door.
She looked up to see her husband Jonah rush towards the table.
“I have it!” Jonah said, triumphantly. He slapped the table. “Its whimsy!” He declared, a gigantic smile on his face.
Elaia snorted before letting her head hit the table once again.
|# ? May 2, 2016 03:33|
Inversion of "Chomper".
My Secret Plan To Undermine the Policy Agenda of Michelle Obama
Duncan sneezed on his desk, so when no one’s looking I lick my forefinger, rub it all over the desk, and then lick my finger again. I can only hope the germs kick in before I’ve gotta take the President’s Fitness Exam, which is basically Big Government stepping in with their plan to humiliate the fat kids and the geeks. Last year I threw up after lumbering in last on the mile run. This year, I’m hoping to throw up before, so I don’t have to do it at all. But there’s only three more hours and I’m feeling disappointingly healthy – lively, even – and I’m trying to figure out what I can do to make myself so sick that no one would even think of making me do anything fitness-related.
I think my best bet is lunch, where I can either eat something so gross that I throw up, or I can just eat so much food that I throw up. Like, my plan is to eat out of the trash until I get sick. No, it’s not ideal, but what else am I supposed to do?
I tell Cassie my plan as we’re getting settled into English class. The kids call her Gassy Cassie, because she always smells a little weird, and I think that she’ll understand, but instead she snorts. “You’d rather be the kid who eats out of the trash than the kid who sucks at P.E.?”
“I’m choosing to eat out of the trash. I’m not choosing to suck at P.E., that just comes naturally.”
“Look, the nurse lets kids get out all the time without anyone having to throw up. Just say your stomach hurts, or something.”
“You know I can’t lie. At all. She’s going to ask me questions, and I’m not going to be able to answer them, because I made everything up. You know, I bet she gets kids like me all the time. Trying to get out of a test. Or a presentation. And she pats them on the head and sends them home. I bet that’s what happens.”
“OK. Eat trash, then. I don’t really care.” Cassie shrugs, then blows her nose on a Kleenex, and then shoves it into her pocket. But I think Cassie sees the sparks in my eyes, because she blushes a furious red and throws the tissue away.
In class we’re having a spirited discussion about Chaucer, I think, but I’m busy planning what exactly I’m going to stuff in my mouth hole that’ll make me sick enough. I could eat the trash burgers, or down a ketchup and milk combo, but none of these things are sure bets. I’ve got an iron stomach, after all. On more than one occasion I’ve eaten a whole large pizza in less than fifteen minutes – and not even good pizza, so it’s going to take more than just a little grossness to make me sick enough.
That’s when it hits me. The kitchen trash. There’s probably some sort of raw meat in there – that would definitely make me sick enough. But how in the world am I going to get into the kitchen, dig through the trash to find the raw meat, and get out without anyone noticing?
As the bell rings, I turn to Cassie and let her know my plan. She’s got a pivotal role, standing up on the lunch table, announcing to the whole cafeteria she just farted. Gassy Cassie in the flesh, one day only, exclusive event. I peer at her expectantly. But she’s not biting.
“That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Tell the nurse you’ve got a tummyache. Jesus.”
It’s time for Plan B.
“Cassie farted!” I yell at lunch, pointing at the table where she sits alone. “Cassie farted! And also, food fight!”
People are averting their eyes from me instead of throwing food or making fun of Cassie. Mrs. Metcalf, the gym teacher, walks over to me.
“Everything OK?” she asks.
“Everything’s fine,” I say, searching her face for some weakness, some way I could use her momentary kindness to access the kitchen. “Say, can you get me into the kitchen?”
“The cafeteria kitchen?” she asks, furrowing her brow. “It’s off limits to students. Why?”
“Well, I’m doing a report on food waste for my environmental science class, and I’d like to see how efficient the cafeteria is.”
“Hold on,” Mrs. Metcalf says, shaking her head, but she walks through the doors to the kitchen.
“Hey,” says the kid sitting behind me, whose head is shaved in an uneven buzzcut. “You talk like a human being.”
“Takes one to know one,” I tell him.
“Takes one to know one,” he mimics back at me. But he settles down as Mrs. Metcalf returns with a trash can.
“You can take a look inside,” Mrs. Metcalf says, “but they need it back by the end of the lunch period.”
That’s fine. All I need is the sweet, spoiled raw meat, and even before Mrs. Metcalf turns around I reach into the trash can and pull out my holy grail – a rancid piece of what I believe is chicken fat. I stuff it in my mouth. It tastes a little like seawater, bacon, and coffee grounds.
The effect is instantaneous – I projectile vomit all over the kid who called me a human being. Mrs. Metcalf comes rushing over.
“I feel really sick,” I tell her. “I think I need to go home. And I definitely need to miss P.E., I’m not healthy enough to do the President’s Fitness Challenge.”
“Oh no,” Mrs. Metcalf says, “we’re not doing that this year. That’s only for freshmen and seniors.”
I vomit again, on the floor this time. This time, I'm too defeated to pick a better target.
|# ? May 2, 2016 04:03|
inverted story - A Talk with the Dead Over a Glass of Cold Water
No More Lies, For Once
flerp fucked around with this message at 00:45 on May 30, 2016
|# ? May 2, 2016 04:17|
The original piece is bile and invective, and honestly pretty insincere. It came from a weird dark time in my life, when I was lashing out at everybody and everything around me and I thought it was somehow funny and interesting to be an rear end in a top hat. So that's the flip: instead of looking out, it's looking in. Instead of being insincere, it's aiming for honesty. Instead of anger, it's aiming for kindness.
I used to be
I used to be angry. That undersells it, but it’ll have to do. I never hit anybody, and I took pride in that; “It’s just words,” I’d say, “they need to toughen up.” In the same breath, I took pride in how good I was at hurting people.
I used to drink, and scream. I probably said some harsh poo poo to you, and that’s why I’m here. Consider it an apology, I guess, or something like it. Consider it a warning;
in my darkest night, I took a bottle of pills, locked the bathroom door and didn’t come out for three hours. Those three hours are almost gone from my memory - trying to grab them is like boxing fog. The one thing I do remember is the sensation that I was standing on the edge of a great cliff, looking down and down forever into the big barren below. It was empty, but it wasn’t - looking straight back up was some wall-eyed titan ten thousand miles across and even further down. Something hoary and damp. It exhaled, and the whole world shivered at the stink of fish guts, ethanol and rot.
Funny how the mind processes these things. I don’t know if it was a demon or a metaphor or somewhere in between, but it scared me out of my own soul and I’ve been running ever since, planting flowers behind me as I go. Some of them die, but some don’t.
So here we are - here’s the point insomuch as I bloody have one: you matter. I may have said different, but I was angry and scared. That’s a reason, but it’s a shitshow of an excuse. You matter, okay? Maybe not in the way that the men on TV want you to matter, but you loving matter. There’s a million people in every city who are convinced that they are totally isolated, and nobody else understands. When somebody tries to get close, they lash out, because they don’t understand. Do you see it? Maybe not- let's keep rolling.
Anger is a cage. I want to pretend that I’m doing this for you, but I’m doing this for me because anger is a cage and this is my loving key. So sue me it’s selfish - it doesn’t make it less true: you matter. If it were insincere, it wouldn’t mean poo poo to either of us.
There’s a guy who used to live on my street, and he’d walk down it every day with his hands in the air, muttering to himself. White guy, older: fifties? Hair so filthy that it was starting to stick to itself. Every day, same time, he’d walk down the road with his fingers as high as they’d go. “Please please please please” he’d mutter and we made fun of him because he was crazy and we were scared to admit we might be crazy too. He just up-and-disappeared one day, and we lost our punching bag, and we had to go back to looking at ourselves until we found somebody else to project our fears onto. It’s a story with a fuzzy gauze of fiction laid over it so I could pretend that I helped him out, but that’s a drat lie. He disappeared, and it only affected me because -- for a moment only– my anger wasn’t able to look outwards. That way lies the cliff; goodnight sweet prince - bought the T-shirt, rode the waterslide, smashed my head on the rocks and let the little fish gobble my marrow.
I used to be scared, and angry. I probably hurt you, because I hurt a lot of people. You matter because there are countless other people like you, and they need to know that you’re alive. You are never alone, and even if your feet are in a cubicle your ka is is bigger than you could know. Forests grow in your footprints.
I looked down from the cliff and you know what I saw? I saw me, writ large. I saw my ka floating free, and it scared the poo poo out of me. A demon, a metaphor, a vision, a vital spark - however the gently caress you spin it, it’s the same thing: it’s your own reflection bounced back from a broken mirror. Your words linger in the world after their form is gone - your warmth lingers large in the hearts of everybody it touches. You are bigger than you know. You matter - how you choose to matter is up to you.
|# ? May 2, 2016 04:45|
Submissions are closed!
Good job to everyone who entered a piece this week! Hopefully you should see the results sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning.
|# ? May 2, 2016 05:27|
|# ? Dec 2, 2021 03:20|
lol okay I've used this brawl prompt before but it remains one of my absolute favourites and brings out the best in everybody
1k words, exactly. Not including title.
Okay, let's make this official. Exactly 1000 words of actual story set in the lands of your twisted kiwi imaginations. You both know my threshold for weird so don't hold back.
edit: to make this more fun, you both have to crib each other's styles. IT IS SO.
Deadline: Sunday, May 15th at 11:59:59 (That's like Monday the 16th at 8PM for you moon people).
Muffin, toxx up laddy
|# ? May 2, 2016 23:56|