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Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


anime was right posted:

in because i like this prompt and for no other reason

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Fuubi
Jan 18, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Since I've been doing so well so far, I'm in! Give me a flash rule!

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.



In and flash me.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Marshmallow Blue posted:

The Senator's Crossing (1498)

WHAT WAS YOUR PROMPT?
Today, I’ll read the entire thing and then add a crit, unless there’s some kind of technical typo thing going on.

Edit: Well, I WISH I could have done that.

The Senator's Crossing (1498)

The phone rang. It was New York Senator Charles Brisbane. Ben knew he was going to be calling after he told him the weather was too hazardous for Alexandria’s maiden voyage across the Atlantic, not to mention the lifeboats.

“Ben, are you even listening to me?” Charles spat through the phone.

He wasn’t listening. There wasn’t any point in telling him that the ship wouldn’t be ready by Friday night. It was Monday, and the crew hasn’t PRESENT TENSE finished testing all the equipment. Twenty-three of forty lifeboats failed their initial inspection and need PRESENT TENSE to be replaced. These drat politicians and their unrealistic deadlines.

“I have 3,700 VIP guests booked for this trip to England, Ben. You need to make it happen. There’s a lot of election money riding on this fund raising voyage.”

“Listen… Charles, we really need to consider cancelling the…” EM-dash means cut off. Elipses means trailed off. This reads like he passively mumbled to himself until the senator screamed cancel. And dammit I said I wouldn’t do line-by-line unless it was technical poo poo and you are technical-making GBS threads up this story interrupting my ability to read what you’re trying to accomplish. This is why cleaning up the little poo poo can really help your readers get into the bigger concept of your story. You could be writing the next great American novel but if the reader can’t get over these pieces of glass in the road they can’t appreciate how awesome your car is built or something like that okay I’ll shut up now.

“CANCEL! I CAN’T do that! You can’t do that to me! And you’re a worthless captain if you can’t sail through a little poo poo weather for your friend. I got you this job in the first place, don’t forget that.” Charles hung up the phone before Ben could respond. This might be nit picky. But since it’s Ben’s POV, the action would stay with Ben… so lead with Ben’s actions/intentions/stuff: “Before Ben could respond, Charles hung up the phone.” It illustrates Ben’s situation. But hey potatoes tomatoes.

This ship was sailing with or without Ben.

“Maybe I shouldn’t even show up.” Ben thought. “He’d have my head on a platter though, and unfortunately, I need to pay the rent, which is already two months late. Of course Clarabell had to get pneumonia, and the doctor needed payments up front. I guess I’ll be sailing from New York on Friday.” SO, two things here. You could edit this down a LOT and get the point across faster, and this exposition is cringeworthy. Show me Ben looking at Clara’s empy pill bottle, sweating the cost of another refill, show me the doctor on his way out the door shaking his head at Clara’s out-of-control leprosy, show me anything other than a guy turning to the camera to say, “… and here’s why this sucks for me.” I mean – it’s not a necessary thing, you can do it and reader’s won’t throw your book into the fire, but it doesn’t pull them further into the story. Think of it like the ingredients on the box instead of the delicious taste of the dill pickle pringles. ‘Okay, you told me what’s IN these tiny slivers of heaven, but I’m just not sold on how good they are until you shove one down my throat.’ Perhaps I need more coffee.

---------------------
Change of scene is indicated with three hashes, or one hash, or a hit from hash, depending on who you ask. A long row of hyphens works just as well, but if you want to convince people you're drat good, it couldn't hurt to use little tricks like the three (or one?) hashtags.

Friday August 26th

“Ryan don’t be such a ninny...” Georgia chuckled “get in the crate, It’s labeled Alexandria. That’s the big ship going to England... Haven’t you always wanted to see the world?” Do this better. This is the very definition of telling not showing, and I loathe the way writers shout “Show don’t tell” like it’s the Freebird of Crits. But you’re really taking a swan dive into telling me your story while telling me your story. Show me “Alexandria” stenciled across the side of the crate, on the loading dock beside the giant ship bound for England.

“OkCOMMA” Ryan said smiling while climbing in, “but you’re coming with me!” He exclaimed as he pulled Georgia into the crate.Clunky, you already said “said” so exclaimed is wasted here. Put the sentence together without “ryan said” in there. That would work. Georgia screamed in surprise, and then laughed. shouted with laughter okay I’ll stop line-critting now She popped her head up to make sure the coast was clear before getting out. Two dockhands were walking nearby towards the crates.

“Down, down” She said pushing Ryan back into the crate. She made a shushing gesture with her finger. “They’re right here, stay down and be quiet she whispered”.

Just then the crate slammed shut, and nails were being hammered into the crate. Georgia and Ryan tried screaming for help but the dockhands couldn’t hear them over the hustle and bustle of the port.

This passage sets up the characters well enough, but because you’re not really clear if only one of them are really going, or neither really want to go, or both should go, or is Georgia the mother, or big sister, or lover of Ryan? I need more purpose to clear up who NEEDS to go and who doesn’t, so, as the reader, I give a crap about either one.

-----------------------

“I’ve got to tell him I’m not going, I don’t like this storm. He’ll have to find another captain.”

Ben paced back and forth along the dock. The towering Alexandria floating behind in the mid-morning sun. Okay, first – this is a VERY good way to declare your shift of POV, so, bonus points. Second, say this a lot better. As two sentences, you’re mixing tenses. Change the period into a comma, and the tense shift doesn’t apply for some reason. Or I could be way wrong on this.

“Ben!” Charles cried as he bumbled over. “Great news! Look! The most recent weather report says the storm has moved North. It’s nothing but smooth sailing from here to the UK.”

Ben snatched the report from Charles. “Holy poo poo, I don’t believe it.” Ben was suddenly feeling better about the trip. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad afterall SPACE BETWEEN AFTER AND ALL . Ben was also informed earlier that the engines were all in check, and all the decommissioned lifeboats were replaced. BEN SHOULD SAY THIS instead of you telling me… KEEP ME IN THE drat STORY, NOT IN YOUR CLIFF NOTES. COME ON.

“Well I guess that settles thingsCOMMA” Ben statedPERIOD “Charles is going to win re-election by way of outspending the opposition 10-to-1PERIOD” Ben and Charles both laughed, and climbed aboard to greet the first guests arriving.

-----------------------

Saturday August 27th 6:55PM

Charles paced back and forth. BEN JUST DID THIS. Find something else to do. Bite nails, pound booze, kill a hobo for an erection… anything.

“You need to keep the ship level!” Charles demanded of Ben. “I can’t be expected give a speech with the ship rocking like a baby’s crib on a tree topCOMMA Ben!”

“Just where did the loving storm come from Charles? I saw the same report you did. There’s nothing we can do but ride it out and hope for the best.”

The ship took wave after wave in the churning sea.

“I lied about the storm.” SAID WHO Another wave came up and sent Charles to the ground.

“You Lied LOWERCASE L about the storm? How?” SAID WHO

“The weather report Ben... It’s from two weeks ago. And not to add any pressure, but the lifeboats weren’t replaced either. I paid some crew off to tell you that they had come in and were loaded up.” Charles said getting to his feet.

“Of course the politician is a scheming liar! You realize that if this ship takes on water, thousands of people will load onto lifeboats that aren’t seaworthy!” Ben yelled, turning the wheel to avoid the largest waves. “Thousands... of… lives… Charles… On my hands!”

“Come off it Ben, we’re fine. Just keep the ship level.” Charles said, leaving the room on the way to the concert hall.

Okay, at this point, it’s starting to look like this is/was your first pass. The earlier paragraphs had a little more effort in spelling, punctuation, and stuff, but now it’s a lot more sloppy, so I’m thinking you kind of went over the first half, then said, “PERFECT ENOUGH!” Which I totally get, I do it all the time, but if that’s the case then you know where this crit is heading right? Towards the same level of effort.

-----------------------

7:00PM

Ryan finally was able to push the crate open with his feet. It was hot, damp, and disgusting inside Alexandria’s bowels. Georgia climbed out of the crate, drenched in sweat. Her and Ryan spent the first twelve hours yelling at each other, and taking turns getting “fresh” air from a small hole in the crate, and the next six hours trying to get out. SHE AND RYAN. Remove the second person from your statement and see if it sounds right. She spent the … vs. HER spent the first…

AND DON'T PUT "FRESH" IN QUOTES UNLESS SOMEBODY IN YOUR STORY SAYS IT.


“You’re a real idiot, you know that? Get in the crate, that’s funny poo poo isn’t it. Now we’re well and truly hosed. This is why we broke things off in the first place. You were always so drat irresponsible. Now what? Now we’re on our way to England. Cherioh what is this word, Cheery O! Cheerio? to you rear end in a top hat!” Ryan raged. Georgia knew he was right, and didn’t say much to continue the argument further.

“I’m exhausted. Let’s find some food…” Ryan marched off towards the door. “Of course it’s loving locked!” He yelled trying to pull open the door kicking it. COME ON SERIOUSLY READ YOUR OWN STUFF AT LEAST ONCE before you submit. Ryan stormed around the room, pounding on crates. Then he found a pipe and began banging it on some pipes that were running along the wall.

“Someone’s got to hear this racket!” Ryan fumed, banging on the pipes. Sparks flew, and noise echoed loudly.

“Don’t do that! You don’t even know what you’re doing!” Georgia pleaded.

“Shut up, I know what I’m doing!” Ryan responded. He swung the pipe as hard as he could and one of the pipes came loose along with a hissing sound. “Can anyone loving hear me! HELLO!” he shouted.

RESPONDED, PLEADED, FUMED, YELLED. Just go with “said” instead of all these. Use one, occasionally.

“Ryan stop!”

Ryan slammed the pipe again. *Clang* Sparks flew. He slammed it again and again. *Clang CLANG*. He banged on the pipe, sparks flew again, igniting the fumes from the gas line he ruptured.come on, this is micro-exposition that is easily fixed. THE HISS OF THE RUPTURED GAS LINE WAS THE LAST THING HE HEARD AS HIS NEXT BLOW STRUCK SPARKS, IGNITING THE... The explosion sent Ryan back into a metal beam, knocking him unconscious. Water surged in from a twelve foot hole on the side of the ship.

“RYAN!” Georgia waded through the frigid water to Ryan’s side. She held him close and began crying as water filled the room.

Okay, that’s unexpected, to some extent. Good on you.

-----------------------

7:10PM

Guests filled the concert hall to hear Senator Brisbane's speech. While they waited, cocktails were served, and a performer sat at a piano, playing music, and collecting tips. The round hall was still an elegant place for a fundraiser, despite the raging seas outside the Alexandria.
Say this better. Two, three passes of edits would get this passage tight and could set up whatever’s coming. As it stands, it’s clunky. You’re going for the climax, I like it, you’re telling me the weather is poo poo and the audience is gathered for a big to-do, but you could paint the image with more grace and nuance.

Senator Brisbane stepped out and began to speak. STEPPED OUT OF WHAT. Stepped up to the podium.

“Thank you everyone. I’m glad you could make it on our excursion. I’ve just spoke with the captain, and he reassured me that we are fine. This is just a small every day storm front, and we’ll be clear of it in no time…” em dash for the interruption, ellipses and he’s fiddling with his notes. I suppose it could go either way.

Suddenly a BANG! Alarms sounded. Alexandria kiltered word is telling me this should be KILTED. Or TILTED but hey I’m no sailor. to the left. Noises from stressed twisting metal WHAT NOISES, squeals of delight, wet farts, sounds of tearing metal, the groan of steel giving way, shattering glasses, and screams filled the hall. Everybody began rushing to the exits. The ship turned to the right, and continued in circles to avoid keeling to the left again.

“Hello, this is your captain speaking.” Ben’s voice came through the intercom “The ship is damaged and can not continue. The Coast Guard has been alerted. Make your way to the lifeboats. The ship’s attendants will assist you.”

Ben knew half the lifeboats were death traps, and he was actively sending some people to their grave, but it was better than everyone dying wasn’t it? The coast guard was seven hours away.

DO THIS BETTER. Read what you wrote, think about it, and then write it so we get Ben’s emotions in this poo poo. PANIC, GUILT, DENIAL? NO FUCKS GIVEN?
-----------------------

9:10PM

The ship managed to stay level for the time being that’s a present-tense kind of passage of time, as in, for now, and a little while longer… , and lifeboats were being loaded. google PASSIVE VOICE. Some waited in the concert hall with the Senator for their turn to board a lifeboat. Ben was there as well. He had locked the wheel in its position to keep the ship level, but turning in slow, large circles.

Just then another large wave crashed against the ship, sending the ship out of balance again. Passengers on deck were thrown into the water. The Piano slid across the hall, maiming passengers in its path.

Screams erupted again. move this to the first line of the previous sentence to set up the random events you list, to tie it together better, lose “again” and the period, and replace JUST THEN with AS: “Screams erupted as another large wave…” The ship swayed back and forth freely in the storm. A wave from the other side hit. The piano slid again, pinning Charles against the wall. Blood was coming out his mouth google passive voice again. . Ben got to his feet and pulled out a gun, and walked towards Charles.

Charles looked up to Ben, almost apologetically, coughing blood. “Shoot me.”

“You know?” Ben said, “You always were a poo poo friend and a poo poo SenatorCOMMA” and pulled the trigger on himself. The Senator’s crossing was not as painless.


===

So, look. Don't get butt hurt about my lovely crits; EVERY CRIT I've written in here, has been pointed out in my own poo poo, many times over.

The story itself isn’t as bad as the writing.

You’ve got a nice movie of the week here, laying down some characters with motivation, (except for that part of the couple ending up in the box by accident… you could’ve left that out entirely, and just started off their appearance when they kick their way out of the box. Hey we get it, stowaways!) There’s some confusion when you’re trying to tell me who screwed who on the safety of the boat, Ben’s the one in charge of the ship, why would Charles sneak a quick one past him? Why not just let Ben be the rear end in a top hat who gives into the pressure of a senator, and in the end, he’s still pissed at the Senator for putting him under all that pressure? Unless of course that wasn’t the prompt but I do not know what your prompt is because you did not include it.

This could be improved even if you just fix your writing/spelling/grammar issues:
- Tighten up your paragraphs – read each paragraph and ask yourself, “Can I say this more efficiently to convey how fast poo poo is unfolding? Can I say this in a way that puts the reader in the room instead of on the phone while I tell the story?
- Read your story out loud, and little oddball phrases or typos will slap you in the face.

magnificent7 fucked around with this message at 17:42 on Jun 21, 2016

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


I'm in and also give me a flash because I want you to die.

skwidmonster
Mar 31, 2015

THUNDERDOME LOSER


IN

:toxx: for my week 202 failure.

Mr Gentleman
Apr 29, 2003

the Educated Villain of London



Hello, in

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER



I'm diggin' all the crittin' that's been goin' on around here lately.

Let me rephrase that:

In.

Obliterati
Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.


:siren:Harry Harrison Justice Brawl:siren:


Our Fathers, Who Aren't In Heaven
1224 words


BOOM. The planet pops like a grape squeezed by a finger, and Barry takes his one off the Fire button. Molten slag spins wildly, peeling like orange-skin as it cools, and he sighs. It's all very impressive, if I say so myself.

Barry's father was a resourceful man: whilst I'm sure nobody would employ the descriptors 'jovial', 'socially adept', or 'good with children' the Space Orbital Doom Laser makes a drat fine planetcracker. This would prove an illustrious, if brief, career for him: the Space Orbital Doom Laser is not particularly subtle and juries can be so fickle. Ask Halboris Prime.

Barry rises from the commander's chair, keyed to our geneprint, and trudges through the bowels of the thing. Layers of steel and lead, interlocking, multiply redundant, weigh down around him in the flickering light. Shoddy rewiring, I tell you.

The Acrox system is silent, which is how he's always liked it, the worm. The little craft, decked in mismatching parts, spins out from the Space Orbital Doom Laser, pirouetting in a direction once describable as downward. A hundred arms unfold from its hull and begin the tiresome process of pulling ore.

In the gloom of the ship, he flicks switches, twists dials, and all in all absolutely mines the hell out of that rock. Barry is at home mining. He likes it! All this power, all this sheer raw power embedded in the Space Orbital Doom Laser and he uses it to mine!

I wonder how he even managed to keep it. “Yes, m'lud, I am certainly aware of the limitless potential of the Space Orbital Doom Laser, but I promise to only use it on uninhabited planets for purely industrial purposes, because that is something I actually enjoy.” And they'd believe him.

Fortunately this is a moot point, as I've just stolen it back. I make a big show of powering up the engines: real engines, more than enough to outstrip his little tug. Really I shouldn't answer his hails, but I can never resist a bit of effect.

“Onscreen.”

What do I look like? Magnificent, that's what I look like. When Barry looks, he sees himself. My pointed chin, on him rolling and fat; my strong, aquiline nose, on him just a beak; my glorious satin cape -

“Dad,” he says. “You're wearing the cape again.”

“Of course I am!” I swirl it around. “The Great Malactus, Scourge of the Galaxy, can wear what he drat well pleases!”

“Where did you keep it?”

“What?”

“Did you keep your cape in the prison cell, or did you stash it somewhere?”

I twirl my moustache. It's important to keep up appearances. “That's for me to know and you to fail to know.”

“Wait-”

Nah. I prep for jump. Barry accelerates, prodigiously, impossibly, and keeps pace. The arms glow in the dark. drat. Magnetic. I pull fondly remembered levers and close range guns unfold from my Orbital Space Doom Laser. His craft's arms explode. Repair that. I open the channel again.

“Give it up, fool! You cannot stand against the force that is Malactus! I will shoot you, you know.”

“No you won’t, Dad.” He frowns. “You’re supposed to be retired.”

“Ha! I was imprisoned!”

“You told them you'd quit-“

I fire again. I catch his craft amidships, right where I’d installed the engine. Barry falls behind, listing. Not a kill. Ought to recalibrate, fire again.

Nah. I hit Jump, and I blast off in search of someone to threaten.

#

Here is how I imagine Barry's chat with law enforcement went.

“Officer, I need to report a robbery.”

“Aye?”

“Yes, my father, the Most Horrific Malactus, who designed and built the awesome and terrible Space Orbital Doom Laser, has reclaimed it in glory. All shall tremble! WOE TO THE PERFIDIOUS.”

"Very funny, Citizen. Malactus is too old to threaten anyone again.”

You wondered how I managed to build a Space Orbital Doom Laser without anyone stopping me, now you know.

#

Halboris Prime had refused to pay up last time around and, worse, had got me locked up, so it was only fair I came and settled that debt. Nestled alongside the moon, I engage all systems, and the Space Orbital Doom Laser unfolds like a flower in spring. Secondary weapons bristle, thorns on my stem. I had time to get her polished, and every single surface gleams in the light of the stars. He never cleaned it! Some people have no respect.

I spin in the chair, flicking switches as I go. The cape gets tangled and I shrug it off. The Space Orbital Doom Laser sparks into fresh life, as systems untouched for years power on. I'd been hoping for a chance to use the point defence, but so far the Halbori navy was standing off, way out of range. Sure, I could turn the Doom Laser on them, but that'd hardly be sporting. The unmanned satellites, though... just a couple. So they know I'm not joking. Sublasers slice them to shreds and I feel young again. Try your GPS now, worms!

The planet hails and I answer. “I hope this is your formal surrender. I'd hate to have to do something... drastic.”

“Dad, it's me.”

How did he beat me here? No matter.: keeping one's poise is the thing. “Ha! Joined the enemy, have you? That won't stop me, the indefatigable Malactus, from blasting their little toys from the sky-”

“No, Dad. I'm on the surface.”

I stop spinning. “No.”

“Yeah. It’s a nice place, Dad. Got all that Noir Gothic architecture you like. We could visit.”

My finger hovers over the Fire button. One push. What an embarrassment for a galactic terror such as I, to have a law-abiding son! One push. Problem sorted.

"Good rock down here too. Nice firm malachites all over the place. You know," he says, and shrugs, "if it weren't for the seven billion people I'd be up there with you."

"Shut up." I turn back to the button. I made it and all its brothers with the best plastic. No cheap stuff. It's smooth to the touch, and somehow soft: as if it is waiting to give way to my pressure.

First though, I twist a dial, and the Space Orbital Doom Laser recalibrates.

I fire. It's a blast of rock, slag and dust, twisting and unfurling in space. I hope the Halbori get a good view. That's one moon they're not getting back. My vengeance!

#

Barry boosts up in a fresh ship and I let him dock. He steps into the command room, and suddenly everything feels a little smaller. "Thanks," he says. "Nice show. Took her out in one."

"I blew up the drat moon," I say. "I'll be going away again."

"Well," he says, "maybe. For now, though, that's a lot of good ore out there. Mind if I scoop some up?"

"The navy- "

"Probably won't come near the Space Orbital Doom Laser. Seriously," he laughs, "who named that?"

"So what, we mine this, return that ship you borrowed and I…?"

"Actually," he says, "We should move fast. I stole that ship back in the system down from Acrox and sooner or later they'll notice."

I look at him. He shrugs. "I was in a rush."

I feel the creases in my mouth shifting, perhaps into a smile.

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


Chairchucker posted:

This Cult Belongs in a Museum 1172 words including title.

--- Final crit of my four. ---

CHAIRCHUCKER WROTE

Thranguy posted:
Unaussprechlichen Klutzen
Relationships:
Romance: Service worker and customer with inappropriate crush
Mysterious: “I am writing to invite you to witness a peculiar event.”
Friendship: Friends since childhood
Need:
To get power...over the person you love
Location:
The Town:The Ellingboe Museum
Object:
Ancient: Mathematical Etchings
Tilt:
Failure: A tiny mistake leads to ruin

This Cult Belongs in a Museum 1172 words including title.

The museum was closed, and no one was around.

Except Jess. Jess was around, and was trying to fix up the latest exhibit.

“They didn’t look like that, you know.” Oh yes. Jarrod was also around, but she hadn’t counted Jarrod, on account of he was an exhibit.

“I won’t tell anyone if you don’t,” she said.

“I mean, it’s close,” said Jarrod. “They had more of a cross-thatching thing going.”

“Like you ever made a nest.”

“They found me in one,” said Jarrod. “In the glacier, remember?”

“I remember. Shame we didn’t get that one.”

“You got me, though.”

“Yeah.” She placed one of the eggs in the nest. Pushed it at an angle. “You could always help me with this, you know. Since your ancestors supposedly made these, once upon a time.”

Jarrod scratched himself with one of his feet. “Nah, you got it. I’m supposed to meet someone, anyway.”

Jess raised an eyebrow. “What, you’re going out there? You may have difficulty blending in.”

“Nah,” said Jarrod, “I’ve got a disguise. Don’t worry, no one will suspect a thing.”

Jess shrugged. “Well, I’ve got my phone on me in case something happens.”

~

Nick arrived at the café at the appointed time. Whoever had sent him the mysterious message was not yet there.

“Excuse me,” said a voice from behind him. He turned around, and looked up. “Greetings human,” said Jarrod, for indeed it was he. HE turned around, HE, HE? It was he, who was… He was cunningly disguised with a moustache. “I am JBot 500.”

“Good evening, JBot,” said Nick.

“500,” said Jarrod.

“Good evening, JBot 500,” said Nick.

“Quite so,” said Jarrod. “I believe you received a message to meet me here.”

“Oh!” said Nick. “I was expecting someone more… well, I’m not sure who I was expecting.”

“Why don’t we grab a table where we can talk,” suggested Jarrod.

Nick went over to one of the corner tables. Jarrod followed, managing to only knock over a couple of chairs and nudge one of the tables. “Apologies, human diners,” said Jarrod as he knocked a young couple’s meal into their laps with his tail. “Computation error.”
Is this Jarrod the same thing with claws and a nest in the previous paragraph what.

Nick sat down on a bench seat, and Jarrod looked at the seats on the other side with a contemplative look on his face. “Hmm,” said Nick. “These seats are deceptively small.”

“Affirmative,” said Jarrod.

“Perhaps it would be possible to find a more spacious meeting spot?” suggested Nick.

“I know an acceptable location,” said Jarrod.

Nick got up again, and they made their way out of the café. “Apologies again, human diners,” said Jarrod, as he bumped a young lady out of her seat and onto the floor.

~

“You’re back already?” asked Jess.

“Oh right, you’re here,” said Jarrod. “I forgot.”

“You literally spoke to me twenty minutes ago.”

“Yeah, I know,” said Jarrod. “Listen, I had to move my meeting back here because the café is too tiny.”

“Yeah,” said Jess, “I think it’s built more with humans in mind, rather than Tyrannosaurus Rexes.”
“Right,” said Jarrod. “About that. For the purposes of this meeting, I’m actually a robot, all right?”
NICE.

“Ah,” said Jess. “That’s what the mechanical claws are all about.”

“And the moustache,” said Jarrod.

“That honestly doesn’t make as much sense to me,” said Jess, “but all right.”

“I’ll just go let him in,” said Jarrod. “Try not to pay too much attention to our meeting, it’s supposed to be very secret.”

Jess shrugged. “I’ve still gotta finish this nest, anyway.”

Jarrod left and came back with Nick. “Oh. Introductions,” said Jarrod. “Human whose name I’ve forgotten because I don’t care, this is Jess. Jess, this is no one of consequence.”
To nit-pick, Jarrod sent this guy a mysterious message, so, you’d think name would be remembered, and be important but okay I’ll play along…or wait had Jarrod sent the mysterious message? It’s Jarrod’s POV so Jarrod knows about it…

“Nick,” said Nick, and extended a hand. “A pleasure to meet you.”

“Welcome to the museum,” said Jess, ignoring his hand. “Don’t touch any of the exhibits. You break it, you bought it.”

Jarrod ushered Nick over behind the woolly mammoth exhibit. The mammoth was hibernating, so he wouldn’t interrupt their meeting.

“She’s lovely,” said Nick. “Is she single?”

“This meeting isn’t about her,” said Jarrod. “It’s about an opportunity.”

“Right. What sort of opportunity?”

“How would you like to be someone important, human?”

“Yeah, I guess.”

“That’s what I thought,” said Jarrod. “A new world order is going to begin soon, human. Did you see the eggs in that nest Jess was making?”

“I wasn’t really looking at the eggs,” said Nick.

“All right, well for the purposes of this discussion you really do need to get a look at those eggs, so let’s quickly go back there, all right?”

“I’d love to,” said Nick. They walked back around the mammoth. “She’s even more lovely than I first thought,” he said. “I thought maybe I’d just imagined it, but…”

“Eyes on the prize, human,” said Jarrod. “And by prize, I mean eggs.”

“Are you two finished already?” asked Jess. “Because if so, maybe you can help me with this nest, Jarrod. Robot Jarrod. Whatever.”

“I’ll help you!” said Nick.

“Good idea,” said Jarrod. “Get a closer look at the eggs.” To Jess he hissed “It’s JBot 500. Sorry, I should’ve mentioned that earlier.”

“Right,” said Jess. “I meant JBot.”

“500.”

“Right. JBot 500.” She turned to Nick. “I’m a little bit surprised you’d be interested in helping out with this nest.”

“How could anyone refuse to help a lady in need?” asked Nick.

“Right?” said Jess, glaring pointedly at Jarrod. “I know certain prehistoric gentlemen who aren’t so helpful.”

“Ah,” said Nick, “well chivalry is clearly a young man’s game.”

“Shivering?”

“What do you think of the eggs?” asked Jarrod.

“Very lifelike,” said Nick. “I’m sure this is one of the finest museums around. Obviously a testament to its…” he paused and looked at Jess. “Curator? Caretaker? Researcher? Help me out here.”

“Right,” said Jarrod, “but aren’t you looking forward to when those eggs hatch, and some dinosaurs come out?”

“You know they’re not real, right Ja- JBot 500?” said Jess.

“Sorry, what?”

Jess tapped on one. “It’s made of polystyrene.”

“Well this is embarrassing,” said Jarrod, and he bent down and ate Nick. Nick, who is really of no interest to me because he’s just kind of followed along and kind of noticed a pretty girl and really Jbot could have been toting a pizza around and the story would be the same up to this point.

Jess frowned. “You couldn’t have waited until he helped me finish the nest?”

“No loose ends,” said Jarrod. Jess frowned. “You don’t count,” he said. “You were always going to have a place in the new world order when my people ruled the world.”

“Really?” said Jess.

“Of course,” said Jarrod. “We go way back.”

“Awww, that’s so sweet,” said Jess.

Jarrod shrugged. “Blood is thicker than water. Wait, that’s the wrong saying. Bros before… no not that one either. I dunno.”

“Well,” said Jess, “since your plans for world domination or whatever that one was fell through, wanna watch A Dinosaur in Elm Street with me?” It’s Nightmare ON Elm Street.

“Sure,” said Nick, and the two of them turned the lights out and left. NO BECAUSE NICK IS DEAD, CONSUMED BY JARROD THE T-REX.

In the darkness, one of the eggs moved imperceptibly.

But it was actually a pterodactyl egg, and those guys are jerks, so when it hatched a month later, Jarrod ate it.


This story is dumb silly. If the purpose was to write a 10-year-old YA short story, mission accomplished. If you were reaching for anything higher, the only character that is interesting at all is Jarrod the T-Rex. Nick is nobody with nothing real, and Jess is Zooey Deschanel without anything interesting going on, and Zooey is by definition the cute girl with nothing interesting going on.
So, your story, in a nutshell: Dinosaur sneaks out, picks up aimless dude who doesn’t worry about kidnapping by dinosaur, follows back to museum, does nothing but gets eaten but first notices cute girl who fiddles with a nest, dinosaur is wrong about world domination, uh, what’s the point of any of this story?

=================

Edit - hey - just wanted to say that, being the 4th of 4 stories is never the best slot because the reviewer is possibly not in the great happy place he/I was in the beginning, so if my crits in this one are way off base and raving jackass-levels of BS, please take a moment to congratulate yourself for turning in a story whereas I have turned in one and a half TD stories THIS YEAR so far. So it's very easy to armchair quarterback your work. I enjoyed reading it, overall. The humor worked, snappy dialog. Just needed characters to be more.

magnificent7 fucked around with this message at 17:38 on Jun 21, 2016

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo


Fuubi posted:

Since I've been doing so well so far, I'm in! Give me a flash rule!

yr flash is a sacred stone with strange carvings

Chairchucker posted:

In and flash me.

you get a destroyed sign that looks like it says something but when it was intact it said something else

Black Griffon posted:

I'm in and also give me a flash because I want you to die.

i want you to die too yr flash is a black spaceship

take the moon fucked around with this message at 18:10 on Jun 21, 2016

Blue Wher
Apr 27, 2010

The Smart Baseball Dargon Sez:

"Baseball is chaos!"

His bat is signed by Carl "Yaz" Yastrzemski


I'm in, because if I keep ramming my head against the dome, eventually I'll write a story! :v:

Also flash me

ghost crow
Jul 9, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


In with a :toxx:. I'll take a flash rule too.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo


Blue Wher posted:

I'm in, because if I keep ramming my head against the dome, eventually I'll write a story! :v:

Also flash me
an antique airplane

ghost crow posted:

In with a :toxx:. I'll take a flash rule too.
a ventriloquist dummy

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


I am in because I'm half way done.

Social Studies 3rd Period
Oct 31, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER





In. Gimmie a flash, please/thanks.

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!




The Screaming Idiot's Adventure (also feat. Obliterati)

Screaming Idiot posted:

Brawlpost: Screaming Idiot vs. Obliterati

Old Man of the Mountain

Prompt: Adventure!

Words: 1500


"Grandfather!" Khima bounced about her harness, her cheeks bright red from excitement and the biting cold. "Are we near, Grandfather?" this isnt bad. it establishes setting loosely and puts the two characters together but there's not much to complain about.

Azuni sighed. He'd asked the child to refer to him by name; he was not her grandfather -- merely her guardian. But as he glanced at the two beautifully painted TELLING jars packed carefully with the rest of their belongings, he decided not to correct her. ok cool... mind filling us in on why theyre so important?

They rode onward up the mountain and their mount -- a large, thick-furred yak-like creature -- lowed plaintively. It smelled something it did not like TELLINGon the biting wind, but was too well-trained to give in to instinct this sentence is really weird. it shifts the PoV onto the yak which im p sure u dont want to do.

"I do not know. The snow is thick, the wind is strong. But the ghrak huh ok not a big fan of random weird names that i dont know about has found ample footing thus far. That is a good sign." Azuni forced a smile to his dark-skinned features this is awkward. "We will soon be among your people."

The girl squealed and Azuni wished he could feel her optimism. It was true the ghrak easily navigated the inhospitable terrain, but it had been born to these lands, and it was nimble despite its bulk exposition/worldbuildy. But Azuni had lost the trail days before, during the blizzard that had claimed most of their supplies.

He looked at the cheerful little girl and his heart ached at how thin she had become hey look a detail that's meaningful and gives information about what's going on without beating me over the head and telling me directly. Azuni had given her his share of what remained whenever he could trick her into accepting it, but he was an old traveler, and wise enough to know how much it took for the body to stay warm. At least the ghrak ate well; oh i thought the ghrak was like fantasy monsters or whatever but its the yak i think? it used its tusks to dig through snow and permafrost to feast off the hardy roots of sleeping mountain-weeds, and they still had many bags of feed, which Azuni sometimes used to supplement their own flagging supplies. They were old and musty-tasting, but the dried plant matter did much to thicken the watery stews they had come to rely upon. Azuni felt guilty taking food from the beast, but he would sacrifice it gladly to save Khima. you know, i was with you for a bit. but now im just reading this wondering "where the gently caress is the adventure?" like ur on a mountain, yeah sure. but that's not what an adventure is. action. heroism. something other than dull exposition.

"Grandfather," Khima said, reaching up to tug at Azuni's thick robe. "Tell me a story!"

Azuni started at that, then calmed as he adjusted the thick hood about his face. "If it will keep you quiet, yes, I will tell you a story. What do you want to hear?"

"Tell me of the Old Man of the Mountain," she said, her eyes wide and bright in the dimming sunlight. "I like that one! It's scary!"

Azuni prob should have said this earlier but the names are good. sighed. He disliked that story immensely TELLING, but Khima's father had told her that story every night before the sickness had taken him, before the village elders had asked Azuni, an explorer what so was he like part of the village or just some kind of random dude? im gonna think he's with the village because idk why an elder would ask some random traveller to take care of a kid, to honor the father's wishes and take the dead man's daughter home.

"Atop the highest mountain in the land lived an old man," Azuni said, wishing for Khima's father's voice; he had been a singer of songs, and he and his wife had traveled the land to find new songs to bring to his people oh i like this detail but im a bit of a sucker for songs in stories. She had been with child, and the birth had gone wrong; Khima survived, but her mother did not. "And he was very wise; men from all over the world would come to him and ask him of the meaning of the world. And because he was wise, he told them nothing, for that is an answer a man must learn on his own."

The wind howled like a forlorn animal, and with it came intense cold. It made Azuni's bones ache, made Khima cry out. Even the ghrak shuddered.

"But the old man was prideful. He thought himself wiser even than the gods, and because people revered him and because he lived so far above them, he thought himself a god." Azuni shuddered at another blast of immense cold, and he turned about to pack the furs more tightly about Khima, who was fighting back tears uhhhh why is she crying? or is it from the cold? even as a few froze upon her cheek.

"Finish the story, Grandfather," she whimpered. "Please."

"After the old man fell prey to his pride, he began to kill all who came to him without tribute, and in his madness, he ate their flesh and wore their bones," Azuni went on, his few teeth chattering. The snow fell steadily; another blizzard would soon be upon them. Gods, he would have to stop the ghrak, set up the tent, light the fire, and do all the other things that must be done. But he was so old, and so tired TELLING. He was another old man too full of pride atop a mountain oofff, that was wayyyyy too on the nose and it was a cold comfort that he recognized his hubris. Why hadn't he given the task to a younger man? Why hadn't he asked for help? Foolish, foolish Azuni!

Gods above, he thought as the wind and the snow and the bitter, bitter cold shrieked and gibbered, I have been a fool, yes I have, but must the child die as well?

"The story, Grandfather," Khima said, sobbing.

"And the old man changed," Azuni said, his voice almost stolen by the hungry wind. "He became as monstrous outside as he was inside: hair, long and thick and white sprouted from his hide; his teeth and nails grew long and sharp; his howls could call the blizzards to hide him as he hunted. He was wise no longer; indeed, he had become a beast."

The ghrak reared, nearly dislodging its riders and cargo despite the tight harnesses and straps. Azuni hurried to unburden the beast, but as he freed Khima, the ghrak gave a deep and terrible roar. It pawed the ground, yellowed tusks gleaming.

And then he came. SOMETHING HAPPENING WHAT????

A creature from stories, a beast from nightmare, warning and omen and legend and awful, terrible reality: the Old Man of the Mountain. It knuckled down the craggy slope, snow billowing about its matted fur like a cloak, old bloodstains marring white fur. It opened its jaws wide and revealed a mouth full of jagged teeth, and it howled with hunger.

To Azuni, it looked like one of the great apes of his homeland, but feral and full of hatred, not at all like those familiar, gentle herbivorous giants sentence is too long, kills the pacing a bit. To Khima, it was a punishment, and she buried her face in Azuni's shoulder as the old man stood frozen with fear.

The Old Man of the Mountain screamed and knuckled repeated this word earlier toward the child and her protector, spittle freezing even as it dribbled down its cracked lips, its tiny eyes red and mad. Azuni had weapons, but they were strapped to his mount, and even if they were at hand he did not have strength enough to use them. All he could do was turn his back to the monster, hope his old flesh would suffice to shield her.

The ghrak's blood sang with the love of those who reared it and the hatred of the wild white apes of the frozen crags overwrought. It charged the Old Man of the Mountain, decorated horns and shovel-tusks gouging and tearing. But the Old Man of the Mountain was cunning and spiteful, mortal wounds or no, and he used the ghrak's own weight against it. Both beasts went over the cliff, howling and roaring, locked in a battle that ended upon the sharp, snow-covered rocks below. and huh would you look at that the characters didnt actually do anything to resolve the conflict. how loving wonderful

"Grandfather," Khima sobbed. "I'm sorry. I don't want to hear that story anymore. I'm sorry. I'm sorry!"

Azuni clutched the child close, heart shuddering in his chest, and he fell to his knees in the snow. "Shh, it's over now. The Old Man is gone. We live." im bored now. i want to stop reading

"Momma and papa-"

"They wished for their ashes to be scattered; this place is as good as any." He coughed raggedly, wiped blood from his lips. He sat in the snow, too weak to stand, listening to Khima's increasingly desperate pleas.

"Old man! You, in the snow! Are you hurt?"

Azuni looked toward the source of the voice; a group of hunters armed with spears and knives; they wore white ape pelts over intricately-woven robes, and their skin was light, like Khima's.

"I bring you this child," Azuni croaked, consciousness threatening to abandon him. "She is named for her mother, Khima. Her father was a singer of songs." He coughed again, raggedly YOU ALREADY USED THIS ADVERB FOR COUGHING EARLIER DONT REPEAT IT. "They died, and I was tasked to bring the child home. Please, take her in."

"Our village is near, old one," said the leader of the hunters. He had a sad smile on his face. "And I remember Khima. We mourn her and her man's passing, but we rejoice in her child's homecoming. Will you come with us?"

Light had left Azuni's eyes; life had left his body. But Khima never forgot the one she called Grandfather, and when she grew older she sang a tale of the new Old Man of the Mountain, with skin as dark as night and a spirit as warm as summer. She sang also of his mount, a loyal and courageous beast of burden.

And she, too, became a traveler. yeah ok writing is spotty. You gotta work on showing vs telling. like, don't saw "the dude didn't like that story" like show an action of why he doesnt like the story. does he pause and think about it for a moment, does he ask the girl to pick a different story, etc.

otherwise, if this was an entry in a td week, this would land squarely mind imho. nothing really happens. ok, well things happen, but not because the characters do anything. like they climb (which you spend like 50-65% of your story detailing but that doesnt rly matter), then the monster shows up out of nowhere (characters had nothing to do with that), the yak punches the monster off (characters had nothing to do with that), and then saved by dues ex villagers (characters had nothing to do with that).

now, i dont think this is the most original adventure and there were bits where i was thinking that this was a little derivative, but overall, im not gonna say it failed the prompt but it just kinda passed with a C+


Obliterati posted:

:siren:Harry Harrison Justice Brawl:siren:


Our Fathers, Who Aren't In Heaven
1224 words


BOOM. WHOA i dont like that as an opening. esp with the all caps The planet pops like a grape squeezed by a finger, and Barry takes his one i was confused the first time and had to like rearrange my head thoughts to realize u were talking about his finger off the Fire button. Molten slag spins wildly, peeling like orange-skin kinda cool how u keep the fruit metaphors going, but maybe pilling them a little too fast as it cools, and he sighs. It's all very impressive, if I say so myself. idk about this last line, maybe make it a little less cliche, but im ok w/ this opening paragraph.

Barry's father was a resourceful man: whilst I'm sure nobody would employ the descriptors 'jovial', 'socially adept', or 'good with children' the Space Orbital Doom Laser ah i see, wacky over the top sci-fi name. i know what ur doing now. dear god. makes a drat fine planetcracker. This would prove an illustrious, if brief, career for him: the Space Orbital Doom Laser is not particularly subtle and juries can be so fickle. Ask Halboris Prime who? is this a thing i should actually get or is it just like that "oh im gonna name drop this to make it seem like we're in a real world"?.

Barry rises from the commander's chair, keyed to our geneprint ok, who is the narrator? who is Barry? what is going on? they just blew up a planet and im cool w/ that but i need some context like asap. and trudges through the bowels of the thing i want to punch a writer any time they write the word "thing" like youre whole job is to tell me what the loving thing is. Layers of steel and lead, interlocking, multiply redundant, weigh down around him in the flickering light. Shoddy rewiring, I tell you dont talk to me.

The Acrox system is silent, which is how he's always liked it, the worm. The little craft, decked in mismatching parts, spins out from the Space Orbital Doom Laser, pirouetting in a direction once describable as downward and now theyre not???? i mean, what is down in space i guess. A hundred arms unfold from its hull and begin the tiresome process of pulling ore.

In the gloom of the ship, he flicks switches, twists dials ah yes classic spaceshiping, and all in all absolutely mines the hell god i hate the phrase "verbs the hell out of noun" its just so drat cheesy and cliche out of that rock. Barry is at home mining. He likes it! All this power, all this sheer raw power embedded in the Space Orbital Doom Laser and he uses it to mine!

I wonder how he even managed to keep it. “Yes, m'lud, I am certainly aware of the limitless potential of the Space Orbital Doom Laser, but I promise to only use it on uninhabited planets for purely industrial purposes, because that is something I actually enjoy.” And they'd believe him. ok WHO THE gently caress IS YOUR NARRATOR?

Fortunately this is a moot point, as I've just stolen it back i guess a pirate or something? idk i had a feeling it was like the ship itself but maybe wrong here. I make a big show of powering up the engines: real engines, more than enough to outstrip his little tug. Really I shouldn't answer his hails, but I can never resist a bit of effect.

“Onscreen.”

What do I look like? Magnificent, that's what I look like. When Barry looks, he sees himself. My pointed chin, on him rolling and fat; my strong, aquiline nose, on him just a beak; my glorious satin cape -

“Dad,” oh. that was a little tepid he says. “You're wearing the cape again.”

“Of course I am!” I swirl it around. “The Great Malactus, Scourge of the Galaxy, can wear what he drat well pleases!” you see id get mad at this dialogue but now im just saying whatever and letting this "wackiness" go because its just going to get worse from here on and out and might as well accept it now and hopefully suffer less

“Where did you keep it?”

“What?”

“Did you keep your cape in the prison cell, or did you stash it somewhere?”

I twirl my moustache gently caress u. It's important to keep up appearances. “That's for me to know and you to fail to know.”

“Wait-”

Nah ok, this has been the only part of your story that made me grin. a single word. because it was funny. unexpected. a stonefaced nah in the prose. none of that other overwrought LOOK IM TRYING TO BE FUNNY crap. I prep for jump. Barry accelerates, prodigiously, impossibly, and keeps pace. The arms glow in the dark. drat. Magnetic. I pull fondly remembered awkward phrasing levers and close range guns unfold from my Orbital Space Doom Laser. His craft's arms explode. Repair that. I open the channel again.

“Give it up, fool villian says fool. i just... i give up! You cannot stand against the force that is Malactus! I will shoot you, you know.”

“No you won’t, Dad.” He frowns. “You’re supposed to be retired.”

“Ha! I was imprisoned!”

“You told them you'd quit-“

I fire again. I catch his craft amidships, right where I’d installed the engine. Barry falls behind, listing. Not a kill. Ought to recalibrate, fire again.

Nah didnt make me smile the second time though. i like smiling :(. I hit Jump, and I blast off in search of someone to threaten.

#

Here is how I imagine Barry's chat with law enforcement went.

“Officer, I need to report a robbery.”

“Aye?”

“Yes, my father, the Most Horrific Malactus, who designed and built the awesome and terrible Space Orbital Doom Laser, has reclaimed it in glory. All shall tremble! WOE TO THE PERFIDIOUS.”

"Very funny, Citizen. Malactus is too old to threaten anyone again.”

You wondered how I managed to build a Space Orbital Doom Laser without anyone stopping me, now you know. gently caress this scene

#

Halboris Prime had refused to pay up last time around and, worse, had got me locked up, so it was only fair I came and settled that debt. Nestled alongside the moon, I engage all systems, and the Space Orbital Doom Laser unfolds like a flower in spring. Secondary weapons bristle, thorns on my stem. I had time to get her polished, and every single surface gleams in the light of the stars. He never cleaned it! Some people have no respect.

I spin in the chair, flicking switches as I go. The cape gets tangled and I shrug it off. The Space Orbital Doom Laser sparks into fresh life, as systems untouched for years power on. I'd been hoping for a chance to use the point defence, but so far the Halbori navy was standing off, way out of range. Sure, I could turn the Doom Laser on them, but that'd hardly be sporting. The unmanned satellites, though... just a couple. So they know I'm not joking. Sublasers slice them to shreds and I feel young again. Try your GPS now, worms!

The planet hails and I answer. “I hope this is your formal surrender. I'd hate to have to do something... drastic.”

“Dad, it's me.”

How did he beat me here? No matter.: keeping one's poise is the thing. “Ha! Joined the enemy, have you? That won't stop me, the indefatigable Malactus, from blasting their little toys from the sky-”

“No, Dad. I'm on the surface.”

I stop spinning. “No.”

“Yeah. It’s a nice place, Dad. Got all that Noir Gothic man that reminds me of that Early Tumblr joke you had in your meme story that was actually like the one funny thing in that story. this isnt quite as good though architecture you like. We could visit.”

My finger hovers over the Fire button. One push. What an embarrassment for a galactic terror such as I, to have a law-abiding son! One push. Problem sorted.

"Good rock down here too. Nice firm malachites all over the place. You know," he says, and shrugs, "if it weren't for the seven billion people I'd be up there with you."

"Shut up." I turn back to the button. I made it and all its brothers with the best plastic. No cheap stuff. It's smooth to the touch, and somehow soft: as if it is waiting to give way to my pressure.

First though, I twist a dial, and the Space Orbital Doom Laser recalibrates.

I fire. It's a blast of rock, slag and dust, twisting and unfurling in space. I hope the Halbori get a good view. That's one moon they're not getting back. My vengeance!

#

Barry boosts up in a fresh ship and I let him dock. He steps into the command room, and suddenly everything feels a little smaller. "Thanks," he says. "Nice show. Took her out in one."

"I blew up the drat moon," I say. "I'll be going away again."

"Well," he says, "maybe. For now, though, that's a lot of good ore out there. Mind if I scoop some up?"

"The navy- "

"Probably won't come near the Space Orbital Doom Laser. Seriously," he laughs, "who named that?"

"So what, we mine this, return that ship you borrowed and I…?"

"Actually," he says, "We should move fast. I stole that ship back in the system down from Acrox and sooner or later they'll notice."

I look at him. He shrugs. "I was in a rush."

I feel the creases in my mouth shifting, perhaps into a smile. and the ending ends on predictable "maybe the bad guy isnt so bad" and "maybe the good guy isn't so good."

did i gently caress up? did i not say please avoid cliches. because jesus dude, you just used like ALL of them in a stock sci-fi setting. over-the-top villain, check. wacky, self aware dialogue, check. wacky name for a death laser, check. ending where it shows that the bad guy has a heart, a big old loving check. seriously, im not big into sci-fi stories nor comedies, but just through osmosis, this feels already done. and better. like, there's some bad sci-fi crap out there and you embraced it way too far that your story became crap.

this feels like a poor show. idk if it was because you were lazy or if you were genuinely trying to go for humor. but if you were trying to go for humor, one of the key aspects about it is is originality. you cant tell the same joke over and over again, like in this story. it's the same beat ive already seen. theyre not funny anymore. likewise, you need to surprise. humor is, in essence, surprising us.

delivery is just as important as the punchline. hell, the one thing in here that made me grin was because it was delivered well. as such, the overwrought details left me bored. you were trying to be too funny. you have to look like youre trying to not be funny to be funny a lot of the times, especially in something like this.


ok so i first read scidiot's and thought "meh not terrible fantasy but meh overall" so i was ready for obliterati to present to me something strong and interesting. but, i didnt get that. i got some sci-fi trash.

so yeah, screaming idiot wins because even though obliterati technically had more things happen in it, it was a comedy piece that wasnt funny and obnoxious to boost. idiot told an ok story with ok prose that had issue and that turned out to be just enough.

oh yeah idiot DONT SUBMIT FANFIC AGAIN you dingdong

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!





Fugue by Sparksbloom

Very strong opening line. And the prose stays strong throughout. Good use of second person .

quote:

You knock on her front door and opens it in her bathrobe
Missing a word there.

This is another of your stories in which you're extremely cagey about a character's gender (in this case, the 'you' of the story.) But this time it feels like you're doing it on purpose and for a good reason, deliberately choosing 'a person' rather than a gendered term and making the only actual clues (the 911 operator's 'honey' and the fact that they are comfortable living with a male roommate they barely know) push in opposite directions, not particularly strongly dispositively. This ambiguity helps with the story's appeal to a strong universal concept like the experience of inappropriate emotional responses and that kind of unrealness in the face of the utterly unexpected. Although I'm not sure you would maintain that ambiguity without causing narrative problems if you were to expand this to something in a longer form.

Magnificent7, what pieces do you want crits for? I'll go ahead and do two.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


C7ty1 posted:

In. Gimmie a flash, please/thanks.

a cigarette boat

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


goddamn it's quiet up in this bitch.

Thranguy posted:

Magnificent7, what pieces do you want crits for? I'll go ahead and do two.
Not sure what you mean - I did 4 crits, I need no crits on my own work, I'm all good.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Since I'm not participating in this week as an entrant, I'm happy to crit anyone who does submit. Lemme know if you want to hear what I have to say for some reason.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


sebmojo posted:

newtestleper posted:

Congratulations! You managed to break two of the most basic thunderdome rules in one go. That's quite an achievement.

Black Griffon posted:

Oh who cares, I'm sure we'll all survive this too. And besides I'm an OG from the old potato days and I'll break a rule or two if I feel like it.

Edit: loving brawl me, kid.

I'll judge this. 666 words, due 24 June 2359 PST, prompt: kids these days got no fuckin idea (no character over forty)

Need-to-know

(666 words)

"The floor is lava, you see, burns your feet right up, through the skin and bones."

Andy had one foot up on the bonnet of an old, burnt out Prius, the other one braced against a wall. Milly kept her gaze on the road, halfway paying attention, halfway adjusting the iron sights on her bolt action. She'd taken off her hat, and felt a bare measure of comfort with the wind blowing through her hair. It carried with it the smell of stale compost, rust and long burnt-out buildings, but she'd stopped noticing that half a year after the Bang.

"And you have get from this-," Andy continued, clumsily kicking of the wall, "To over, like, over-," stumbling onto the roof of the Prius, "And then you just jump."

He made an attempt to jump from the roof of the Prius to half a Tesla, and promptly slipped and fell to the grass-kissed asphalt.

"Be quiet, sitt still," said Milly.

Andy blew a raspberry, but sat up, dusted himself off and cradled his knees.

"When will they be back?" said Andy.

"Soon."

"That's what you said an hour ago."

"That's what I said five minutes ago because I don't know."

Andy tried to wipe the dust from his face with a sleeve full of grime and ash from the burnt out cars.

"You're supposed to know," he said, "You're a grown up."

"I'm-", she began, and stopped herself.

I'm not a grown up, she wanted to say, that's just what you call me now. 'Cause you need someone who knows things.

And that's not what I want to be, she'd continue, that's just what I've become.

"Soon," and now she looked him in his eyes, "And I wish I could tell you more, but I can't."

He opened his mouth, about to say something, but she saw he got it now. Maybe he didn't understand it, but he wanted to, and he could see that she wanted the same.

Andy drew circles in the dust with a discarded shell casing, keeping silent against his will, but knowing it was for the best.

-

Night and teasing rain brought new smells and new sounds. Andy had fallen asleep in the Prius, sleeping bag on the skeletal back seats, Milly grabbed the rifle, doused the lantern.

The new smells and the new sounds were bad, but the rain was a boon. She checked on Andy, making sure he was hard to spot in the dark, and made her way down the street.

Marion and Alice should have been back by now, they should have. Milly had just forced herself to not partake in the trepidation and fear plaguing Andy.

But they should have been back.

Felt covered soles on grassy asphalt in drizzling rain made her gone, and she could get right up to the newcomers, just out of range of their lanterns. She adjusted her sights closer, click like the patter of rain on broken cars, aimed for the one with the biggest gun.

Peach fuzz on his chin, grown up and closer to death than her. Clad in Alice's boots.

See, one thing would always ring true, no matter how young they died.

-

Five minutes after the last shot rang, she heard Andy coming up the street behind her. She turned, reached him with a brisk walk and turned him around, marched back to their camp.

Before he had time to see anything.

One thing always rang true no matter how young the grown ups got. They'd be the ones who knew. Andy wouldn't have to pull the trigger, not yet. He wouldn't have to see the blood and the endings, not before he had to. Kids had to be kids, needed to.

And so he wouldn't know, and at times it would be torture for Milly because every fit he threw was because of knowledge she wouldn't tell. Couldn't tell.

And she'd keep the blood and the endings to herself, she'd be the one to know.

newtestleper
Oct 30, 2003

by Nyc_Tattoo


Oh god I got confused about my various deadlines. I can't do this until tomorrow, I'm sorry.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







newtestleper posted:

Oh god I got confused about my various deadlines. I can't do this until tomorrow, I'm sorry.

Lol I guess you can have some time before I call in the toxx. Black Griffon might not be so generous. Your story better be good.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Ohohoho, this is fun, this is very fun. But no, I must be generous. I should expect that the young ones are still a little rusty about the very basic thunderdome rules and such, you know.

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo


signups are now locked you guys

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


spectres of autism posted:

signups are now [b]locked[b] you guys

take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo



truly the path of the shinobi is fraught w peril

Hammer Bro.
Jul 7, 2007

THUNDERDOME LOSER



Candybrain (1467 words)

Dave squirmed in his desk as he scratched at the base of his skull. Stop fidgeting. Mrs. Maiter walked down the rows of alphabetized students, returning last week's sensitivity exams. Dave's was stamped with an ugly red "unsatisfactory".

Earnest objections bubbled up to Dave's forebrain, but even he knew not to speak to an adult unless first spoken to.

He flipped past the cover page and read some of the teacher's comments: "Willing to be generalized." "Hesitation before action." "Does not display sufficient outrage."

That last one wasn't even true. Righteous indignation swelled within him as he thought, The teacher is correct.

Mrs. Maiter returned to her podium and asked, "Before we adjourn, are there any questions?"

Dave scratched at the back of his neck as though his fingernails could tear away his generalized sense of discontent.

---

At lunch Dave received an undersized braisé. He wondered if he were somehow being punished. As always, it smelled delicious.

He sat by himself and dutifully ate his serving, spitting out the gristle when nobody was looking. When the bell rang he got up, disposed of his waste, and filed out into the yard.

Tuesday was football day, one of the few school activities he looked forward to. The students organized into teams of ten and spread out in horizontal lines thirty yards away from their opponents. Dave was given a ball.

The whistle blew and his team surged forward. Billy from 12th grade blocked his path, but Billy was notoriously slow. Maybe this time Dave would score.

When Dave was merely feet away Billy raised his hand, palm upward. Stop. Dave halted and handed his ball to Billy while the rest of his team did likewise. They marched back to their initial positions and awaited the next whistle.

Dave was going to give Billy such a halting when the proper time comes.

Sometime during the third quarter Dave's eyes started to wander. Down the field the girls were practicing their cheerleading routine. They looked so wholesome that Dave couldn't help having complimentary thoughts about them. He was so distracted he didn't notice Billy running up to him. Always the absent-minded one, Billy didn't stop himself and crashed right into Dave, knocking him on his back.

David stared blankly at the sky while he caught his breath. The back of his head tingled. Was it this hazy when he left the cafeteria?

Billy helped David up and David thanked him before recoiling. Somehow his opponent had become filthy during the scuffle -- his shirt was tattered, and grime stuck to him like tattoos on a carnie. David looked down to find himself in no better condition, and it dawned on him that all of his classmates were grungy. Had he fallen unconscious? Was this some kind of prank? Best keep his mouth shut.

The whistle blew, and David's nine teammates charged at their opponents.

---

The rest of the day passed like a dream, where the most arbitrary details seemed incongruous and remarkable yet David's conscious mind could not describe them. He blinked and class was over. He nodded and his concerned friends evaporated. Two steps later and he was at his front door; all he had to do was knock on it.

The knocker glared down at David as if crossing its imaginary arms. "This is not your house," it said when David listened closely. But no, knockers didn't talk. Certainly not ones as worn-down as this. There was a hole just below the knocker where some recent accident had torn into the door itself. David thought he saw a family of spiders living inside.

He took a step backward and the door swung outward, its hinges creaking in protest.

An unfamiliar woman greeted him. The pattern on her dress was worn beyond all recognition, and her hair shot greasy tendrils in all directions, in stiff defiance of gravity.

"What are you still doing out here, Dave?" she asked. "Why don't you come inside?"

David was fascinated by the gaps in her teeth, the sores at the edges of her mouth. Her words hadn't registered with him.

"Son?"

She reached a spindly arm toward him, and everything clicked into focus.

David turned and ran.

He ran down the row of houses, past a weedy dirt lot, and out toward a fetid pond. The bog-stench threatened to overwhelm him, and David had to steady his breathing. There was supposed to be a park somewhere around here, but in this grim caricature of Aller Mieux David couldn't find it.

Covering his nose with his hand he nestled between two scraggly bushes, receiving numerous scratches for his trouble. David concealed himself as best he could, then tried to gather his thoughts.

Everything had been fine this morning; he remembered it clearly. But the events since football were hazy. Something about Billy. Something about a collision.

David absent-mindedly raised his hand to scratch the back of his neck. Nothing happened.

An alien feeling of dread clamped down on him as he slid his hand higher, past the bottom of his hair, up to -- there!

His hand seized onto something foreign which was stuck to his skull. David pulled at it with his hand, but felt nothing with his head. Frantic, he jerked vigorously at random angles until he was rewarded with a startling snap and a few cuts on his forehead.

David brought his hand in front of him, his fist still closed. He took one breath, then another, and opened his hand. In his palm lie a shiny chrome antenna.

That didn't make sense. Antennas were for televisions. How had one got stuck to the back of his head? Was he delusional from a head wound?

The sun began to set while these thoughts bounced around in him, and a dull siren lazily bellowed. That was the signal for curfew, or close enough to it, which meant that he should be heading home.

David braced himself for the journey then realized that he was still crouching. Even though the curfew bell had rung. He searched his memories for a time when he had been out past dark but came back with nothing. He noted the phenomenon, but it was low on his list of concerns.

The sun had gone down by the time David finalized his plan. He carefully crept out of the bush he had been hiding in and retraced his steps to where his house should have been.

It was lit on the inside, but David still didn't trust the door. He snuck around back and looked at the second story window frame that should've been his. Good, the lights were out.

As quietly as he could, David emptied the garbage can, turned it upside-down, and stood on it. He counted to three in his head then jumped, his fingers just barely catching the bottom of the window sill.

David pulled himself up and inside, gasping as a shard of broken glass cut into his leg. The blood looked strangely clean against the filth on his calf, but it quickly coagulated into another ugly brown. At least the cut wasn't too deep.

In the darkness he gathered some of his belongings: the compass from geology class, a few extra pairs of clothes, and some stale crackers he'd managed to squirrel away one dinner. Zipping up his backpack, he turned back toward the window and cleared away the remaining shards of glass.

The lights came on.

"What are you doing, Dave?" the grotesque mockery of his mother asked.

"I was just, uh, cleaning my window. It looked dirty, you know?"

"And you've done a fine job, but if you don't close it then bugs will get in."

"Right." Sweating, David waved his hand across the empty portal. Then he turned back to the woman. "There."

"Good. Now take of your backpack and go to bed; you've got school in the morning."

"Yes ma'am."

Smiling a hideous yellow smile, the woman who thought she was his mother turned out the lights and closed the door.

Tonight was too dangerous, David decided. Tomorrow he'd make his break on his way to school.

With that thought to buoy him, David drifted off into a deep sleep. Something in his dreams suggested clowns and dentistry, but David's mind was to numb to awaken.

---

The next morning he put his school supplies back in his backpack (which was strangely packed), went downstairs, and ate breakfast. He waved farewell to his mother and closed the front door behind him.

Wasn't there something he was going to do today?

Go to school.

That's right. Dave walked past the park near his house and whistled a cheery tune. Idly, he scratched the back of his neck and no higher.

It was shaping up to be marvelous day.

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.



spectres of autism posted:


you get a destroyed sign that looks like it says something but when it was intact it said something else


Rocket’s Mine 1402 words

Duane munched on a pie as he contemplated the sign. It was only his third pie of the afternoon; he would need to up his game if he wanted to go to Nationals later in the year.

“Whatcha looking at?” asked Audrey. She’d just rode up behind him on her horse, Winny.

Duane glanced over at her. “That sign over there,” he said. “I don’t remember seeing it before.”

“No,” said Audrey. “There’s usually a lake there instead.”

Duane nodded. “I thought something else seemed different about the place.”

“So what does it say?”

“Not sure. Part of it’s torn off, but it looks like it’s from a mine or something.”

“Well, there’s no mines around here.”

Duane shrugged. “Maybe there once was. Instead of a lake.”

Audrey got down off of Winny and tied her to a post. “I think we should go check it out.”

“I don’t know,” said Duane, “I don’t think we’re allowed in the lake.”

“That definitely only applies when there’s a lake,” said Audrey. “Come on, I want a closer look at that sign.”

“Well, I guess,” said Duane. They walked down into the lake and looked at the sign. Rocket’s Mine, it said. “Who’s Rocket?”

Audrey shrugged. “Someone who ran a mine, I guess. Maybe there’s gold or diamonds.”

Duane suddenly became much more enthusiastic about exploring. “Yes!” he said. “I bet there’s bullion! A pirate treasure!”

“Not sure that’s how a mine works,” said Audrey, “but I’m glad you’re on board now.” The two of them walked further along the lake bed, until they came to a set of stairs leading downwards.

“All right,” said Duane, “that’s definitely not what I would expect to find at the bottom of a lake.”

“See?” said Audrey. “Must be a mine.” They climbed down the stairs until they came to a metal wall with a door set into it. Duane tried the door, but it appeared to be locked. “Try knocking,” suggested Audrey. Duane knocked, but there was no reply.

Duane shook his head. “Of course there’s no one here. No one’s been living under the lake, let’s be real.”

“Never hurts to try,” said Audrey. “Maybe there’s a side entrance.”

“I’m not really sure we should be here,” said Duane.

“If there is a mine,” said Audrey, “it belongs to the town now. If we rediscover it for the town, we’ll probably be famous.”

Duane nodded. “Good point, and let’s see that so-and-so Xander win the student election against the boy who discovered the mine and saved the town.”

“I think ‘saved’ is a bit over the top, but glad we’re on the same page again,” said Audrey, and started moving around the side of the wall. The wall went about 150 metres and then turned a corner. Around the next corner there was a small side door. Audrey tried the handle and it opened easily.

On the other side of the wall was a large warehouse, and inside the warehouse was a large rocket. “Huh,” said Audrey. “That’s a very big rocket.”

“And this doesn’t look like a mine,” said Duane.

“No,” said Audrey, “but discovering a rocket capable of space flight would probably look good on the front cover of the local paper too.”

“What makes you so sure it’s capable of space flight?”

Audrey shrugged. “It looks pretty spacey. Come on, let’s check it out.”

“I don’t know,” said Duane. “Maybe it’s someone else’s rocket, and we shouldn’t be going inside.”

“Well, if it’s been at the bottom of a lake, that makes it salvage,” said Audrey. “So even if it does belong to someone else, which given the length of time there’s been a lake here seems unlikely, we’ll probably get a reward for rescuing it. Now come and help me open this door.”

The two of them seized the large circular handle to the door of the rocket and strained hard until it gave a creak and turned. They pulled the door open and walked inside. “It’s hard to believe this rocket is in such good condition after being at the bottom of the lake,” said Duane.

“Maybe the warehouse is watertight,” said Audrey. “Let’s explore.”

The first door had nothing interesting in it. There was an engine or something but neither of them knew anything about engines - except that they were important for making machines work, so it was a jolly good thing that this rocket had one – so they closed that door and checked the next.

The second door had a bunch of crates. They said ‘supplies’ on them. Audrey reluctantly agreed that they shouldn’t open them, just in case.

The third door had a dining room in it. The dining room had an old man with a white beard in it, sitting at the table eating his breakfast. The man frowned. “This is my rocket,” he said. “Didn’t you read the sign?”

“Ohhhhhh,” said Audrey. “That’s what the sign would’ve said if it was intact. I guess there’s no mine, then.”

“What?” said the old man. “Why would there be a mine?”

“You know what,” said Duane, “that’s probably not important. We’re really terribly sorry for trespassing, it was very wrong of us.”

“Although it’s very surprising that you’ve managed to live down here under the lake this whole time,” said Audrey.

The old man frowned. “Lake? What are you kids talking about?”

“There used to be a lake where your warehouse is now,” said Duane.

The old man frowned. “Maybe I should’ve gone outside a little more often.”

“Although if you had,” said Audrey, “you might’ve drowned and your rocket might’ve been damaged, which would have been an awful shame.”

“Quite,” said the old man. “Well, it sounds like I might have to repair my sign anyway. Do you two want a ride in the rocket? I have to go into town to get sign making material, and I don’t fancy walking, with my hip.”

“Golly, really?” asked Duane. “That would be ever so neat. That Xander will be so jealous.”

“Can we sit in the cockpit?” asked Audrey.

“I suppose so,” said the old man. He went out into the entrance and opened the one door they hadn’t been through yet. There were just the right amount of seats, which was a lucky coincidence, and they all sat down and strapped in. He handed them both aviator hats with goggles. “You’d better put these on,” he said. “The old girl can get some serious speed up, and you don’t want your eyeballs to come out.”

The two of them nodded and put the hats and goggles on.

“Can you please count down from ten?” he asked Audrey. Audrey obligingly started the countdown, and the old man flicked some levers and twiddled some dials. He pointed a remote at the ceiling of the warehouse and pushed a button, and the ceiling started to slide open.

When Audrey got down to zero and shouted “Blast off!” the old man pressed a big red button on the control panel in front of them, and off they went.

“Oh, I forgot about Winny,” said Audrey as they flew overhead.

“Your horse?” asked the old man. Audrey nodded. The rocket did a loop and landed next to Winny. Audrey got out, led Winny back in, and tied her to one of the door handles. Off they flew again, over the town, flying low over the swimming pool where Audrey made faces at the swimmers through the front window.

Eventually their rocket ride ended, and the rocket landed next to the general store. The old man went into the store, and Audrey and Duane thanked him for the ride. They both got on Winny’s back and rode back home, where dinner was waiting for them.

Their family didn’t initially believe them about the rocket, but the front page of the paper the next morning had a picture of Audrey making faces through the front window. “Really, Audrey,” said her mother, “couldn’t you have had a more ladylike expression for this photo?”

“Sorry, mother,” said Audrey, “but it’s hard to maintain decorum when you’re taking a ride in a rocket.”

Duane won the next student election on the platform of having had a ride in a rocket, which all the kids agreed was totally boss, while Audrey found herself asked to the prom by no fewer than five different boys.

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha
T O P


Teen detective, QuoProQuid, has been asked to help solve the case of Week 203. So, I guess that means I'm judging or whatever.

Please try not to gently caress up your stories too badly.

Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


CEREAL WEEK CRITS

Fuubi // Grandpa’s Cereals
This was the first example of what turned out to be a common theme this week, which was reminiscing about dead relatives over inexplicably hoarded cereal. And I get it -- you’ve got this dumb cereal you have to put into your story somehow, and so you want to make it more than just cereal, and load it with meaning somehow, and so what better way to do that than to go for a bit of a yank on some heartstrings by talking about a dead relative? If you’re going to go for a move like that, you need a subtle touch, and that subtlety is entirely absent here. Neither of the kids is well established as a character, their relative levels of maturity seem implausibly distant for two kids with only a year separating them in age, the Chekhov mom fails to make an appearance in the third act, and the attempts at humour (e.g. which is what I’m assuming was going on with the gay panic joke and the references to Fallout 4) fall miserably flat. Also, there are a butt-ton of typos in here; I’d say next time hold off on hitting that submit button so early and do a proof-reading run.


Chili // Good Kid

Chili posted:

My grandpa wanted a real meal; it wasn't an unreasonable request.
This is a weak opening line. In any piece of fiction, and especially a short fiction contest where you pretty much have to try and stand out from the field, you really need a tight opening hook to grab the reader’s interest. From the perspective of the reader, it shows respect for the time you’re asking them to spend reading your story. A flabby opening like this (and the lines that follow) feel like a clumsy grope at my interest.

"Please," he asked, "go to the cafeteria and get me a burger."

"You know I can't do that, Grandpa," I replied, "the doctor said solid food could hurt you."
This dialog is flat and perfunctory; you’re using it to establish plot details, but you’re missing an opportunity to establish character details through their speech. The first impressions I’m getting from both the narrator and the grandpa are completely flat. Any time you use dialog is an opportunity to establish character, and especially in short fiction you absolutely need to make it count.

"I'll tell you what's hurting me," he said, "this loving Farina. You're a good boy, right? Don't they teach you to respect your elders in college?"

OK, let’s dig in here. You’re establishing Grandpa as a cranky old geezer, but let’s look at how the tone shifted in this conversation. His first line, while tonally flat, is plaintive, and then his next line of dialog shifts hard to combative. That may have been intentional on your part (Grandpa plays nice until he’s refused, and then his temper flares up), but if you wanted to establish that kind of dynamic you needed to use the narrative details between the dialog to show his mercurial nature, by describing a change in expression, etc.

I laughed; Grandpa still had his fire. I admired him for a moment, but my stomach sunk sank as it occurred to me that this was the first time Grandpa had ever asked anything of me.

This detail rings oddly; the narrator’s Grandpa has never asked anything of him/her before now? And why is his/her stomach sinking? The clichéd use of sinking stomachs generally indicates an unpleasant realization; if the idea here is that the narrator has realized, in these moments following some brief and inconsequential amusement followed by admiration, that the fact that Grandpa has finally asked for something means that poo poo has gotten real, that’s a bit of a stretch.

"Look kiddo," he said, "I think we both know that I don't have many sunrises left. A week, a day, what's the difference?"

So, here, you kind of suck all of the conflict out of the story in one go. Paper-thin as it was, you had established the conflict faced by the narrator as the choice between granting their sick grandpa’s presumably last wish, and the recommendations of the doctors caring for said grandpa. If it does really come down to a week, a day -- what indeed is the difference?

I looked at the bowl of colorless gloop sitting on his lap, and then at my grandpa's pleading expression. The face that marveled over the weekly family dinners was gone. He couldn't chop onions anymore; he couldn't lift a pot of pasta, he couldn't fill a home with a warm aroma that told his family that they were loved. Grandpa needed me.

Seems a little weird that the rest of the family isn’t mentioned at all in this story. Also, you made this story about hamburgers; if you’re going to do a historical flash-back, you probably want to flash back to a time that Grandpa really enjoyed himself some drat hamburgers. Flashing back to marvelous family dinners consisting of boiled pasta and chopped onions doesn’t really help to establish the importance to Grandpa of a hospital cafeteria hamburger.

I rose to my feet and said, "You better leave me something good in your will."

Well that got weirdly transactional.

"There we go kiddo!" Grandpa's face twisted into a smile. He laughed, picked up the Farina, and with a grunt, lobbed it across the room. Okay, plausibility note, generally if you’re days away from dying you’re not really a) holding the bowl in the first place, and b) in any position to be throwing it against a wall. The plastic bowl fell to the floor, but its contents adhered to the wall. The loose porridge gradually oozed downward and left a trail of slime along the eggshell paint. This, right here, is what people talk about when they say “kill your darlings”. You had fun writing these couple sentences here, I can tell, but this is a perfect example of a detail that neither advances the plot nor establishes character. You could get away with this in a novel, but not in a 400 word piece.

A speck had landed on my cheek; I laughed as I wiped it away. "One plain burger from the cafeteria, and you'll eat it slowly. OK?"

See, I don’t really care whether it’s plain or if it’s got half a pig’s worth of bacon on it, and Grandpa can wolf it down as fast as he wants -- as he pointed out, quite convincingly, what’s the difference?

"No," he responded, "two plain burgers, and we'll eat them slowly."

Oh my, such largess!

I nodded and turned towards the door. After a step, Grandpa yelled out, "Hey! What are you, crazy!?"

No, but all of these weird mood swings, combined with a dying wish for a plain cafeteria hamburger, are certainly making me think that maybe Grandpa’s not entirely there.

Oh, great, it was all a bluff. He had gotten my heart racing for nothing. I turned to take my seat; Grandpa was reaching for his wallet.

I’m just going to point out that this is kind of taking forever to get to a very limp twist, and it’s not even much of a twist.

"You don't pay for our food, kiddo," he said, as he handed me a ten dollar bill. "And kiddo," he continued, "in every sense of the phrase, this is on me."

Grandpa sure does like to say “kiddo”. And you spoil any sense of clever meaning by dragging it out. Try this:

He handed me a ten dollar bill. “This is on me.”

That’s it. That’s all you need there. It conveys all of what you were going for, and saves a bunch of words that you could use elsewhere to establish some badly needed character details.

So, you did well here by picking a small, poignant moment to focus on in the short space allotted to you. The classic conflict faced by someone who must choose between acting on the desires of a loved one despite knowing that those desires will ultimately hurt them is a fine one to start with, but that kind of setup succeeds or fails depending on the clarity of the motivations of the two sides as well as the stakes in the conflict. This story could be improved by giving the grandpa and the kid better motivations, and upping the stakes.

For example, if I were going to tweak this, I would change the setup so that Grandpa is at home following a health scare and a trip to the hospital. He’s been told to follow a strict diet, or he’ll end up back in the hospital, possibly with worse consequences. While at home, he seizes an opportunity while the rest of the family is looking the other way and asks the grandkid to sneak out and get him a hamburger. It’s all the same stuff, but now the stakes are higher: Grandpa isn’t necessarily going to die straight away, and there’s a chance that if he does eat his farina, he’ll live longer. But he doesn’t want to live longer if that means he doesn’t get to eat hamburgers. Now the narrator is in an actual lovely situation: s/he is sympathetic to Grandpa’s desires, but if they honor those wishes they’ve now potentially done Grandpa harm.

Carl Killer Miller // Doctor Kellogg’s Prescription
I really liked this piece, and I had it up near the top of my pile for the week. What made it work for me was the comic voicing and dialog; the character details are sparse but sufficient, and they’re mostly established through the cadence of dialogue, which I like. Then there are a few good one-liners sprinkled throughout, e.g. “From his expression, David had clearly been expecting Taco Thursday.” Some of the innuendo is a little unpolished, like when Franklin continues “harder and faster” in the first act -- Franklin’s exudes sexual frustration in his language and actions, and I think you would have been better off choosing innuendo along that vein earlier on rather than going for harder/faster/floodgates/edging/etc. But all that’s minor stuff; one could argue that this piece pretty much just takes one joke and hammers it into the ground, but I like the way you hammer.

Pippin // Soft Centre
This ended up in the middle of my pile for this week. I thought the small details used to establish setting were well chosen, and the piece is blocked out well. That said, it was never clear to me why Neil actually hung out with these wealthier little shits in the first place -- if he’s just stealing boxes of Krave for his little brother, what does he get from associating with these other kids who are stealing poo poo for Bogdan? Then there’s the stakes, which are basically non-existent. The only place things get dicey is when the alarm goes off and everybody scampers, but literally nothing happens as a result of that. And then, finally, this piece left me a little sour at the end when it tried to do a last-act conversion into a “scrappy street kid with a heart o’ gold” parade. It’s such a stale set-up that you’ve really got to put some kind of a twist in there to maintain some interest.

Entenzahn // Cereal Week Presents: Cinnamon Toast Crunch
This was also at the top end of my pile. It’s as simple a plot as you could possibly get away with, but it’s blocked out very well and does a good job of developing the amphetamine-addled lizard brain processes of the Cinnamon Toast Crunch addict. The repetition would probably start to have diminishing returns if the piece were any longer, so I feel like you dragged this out for exactly the right length.

sparksbloom // Top Shelf
This ended up in my middle pile. Much like Pippin’s piece, I felt like you had a solid handle on the details in this piece, and you chose some nicely evocative character details to establish the players here, but ultimately I didn’t feel like you did as much with the pieces you’d assembled as you could have. The central love triangle, which is about as low-hanging as conflict-laden fruit comes, doesn’t resonate with any of the hormonal chaos of teenage relationships and just seems deflated and resigned to defeat. And while I get that that’s almost certainly what you were going for, the danger with the melancholy wistful remembrance of love affairs past story is that it flirts dangerously with being a cop-out: it’s flat-out easier to write that kind of story than one that really rips off some scabs, and, at least for me as a reader, I find it much easier to engage with a story where I feel like the writer is actually taking some risks and pushing themselves.

flerp // Stale
I probably read this story more times than any other story of the week, thanks to it having landed heavily in my middle pile in my initial read through and then being Thranguy’s win pick. I can see why it worked for Thranguy. The out-of-focus parental conflict raging in the background around Jimmy’s quest for Cocoa Puffs is a nice setup, and I liked that Jimmy’s actions, despite being a clear path to a happy family in his head, ultimately aren’t enough to fix the adult problems between Mom and Dad, which hints at a nascent coming-of-age. However, as a reader I had a hard time engaging with the story on account of its borderline-afternoon-special heart-on-its-sleeve nature. I feel like the central conflict between Mom and Dad is too banal to be interesting; they’re an unhappy family that are too alike to other unhappy families to hold any interest. The voicing of Jimmy felt off to me too; I couldn’t quite work out how old he was supposed to be, because in some parts he seems to be a literal small child, and in other parts he seems like an older kid reverting to childish behaviors in the hope that what once worked will work again. The muddled nature of the narrator’s motivations, for me, made all of his prosaic and one-dimensional elements stand out more glaringly. So all in all, this was a mixed bag for me, and what rang as flawed to me was sufficient to at least balance out the good.

artichoke // Cheerios
This is basically a thin veneer of fiction around a soapbox rant. That can work if the rant is saying something interesting, but here what you’re ranting about is that being forced to participate in religious traditions that you don’t believe in feels bad. No argument here, but it’s not like I needed to read a story to work that out. There’s never a chance for any other characters to get a word in edge-wise; presumably they’d have a slightly different perspective on these things, but the story treats them just as disdainfully as the narrator does. When the supporting cast just exists as a breakwater for the narrator’s thought process to crash against, it ultimately all feels meaningless.

Screaming Idiot // Hank Armstrong II: Cereal Killer
This was another contentious one. It was in my middle-high pile, and it was Thranguy’s pick for the loss. And I can see why Thranguy didn’t like it; it relies heavily on visual gags, and has a Kung Fury-style approach to gleefully smashing together piles of plot elements that just shouldn’t work. But gently caress it, I thought Kung Fury was funny and I had a good time reading this story. Much like that movie, it’s something that I experienced once and enjoyed, but it’s basically a pile of delicious empty calories: I don’t feel particularly compelled to revisit the story more than once. But, sometimes when you’re wading through a pile of stories about cereal and you know that this situation is all your own drat fault, it’s refreshing to read a story about a horse getting punched into space. And so thank you for that.

Sitting Here // The Cellar Beneath The Cabin
This was higher in my pile than it was in Thranguy’s. Lovely prose as usual, although the third-act-magical-realism-bus-outta-nowhere thing is starting to seem like a bit of signature move for you. I enjoyed the “cast from bunker Eden as punishment for eating not of the Product 19” kind of vibe, but, at least for me, there was a fair bit of word flab in the first two thirds that could have been used for foreshadowing purposes, or at the very least to provide a bit of insight into Magic Grandpa and how he came to be the caretaker of a never-ending fountain of Orwellian cereal product.

spectres of autism // Indigo Rose
Like Thranguy, I liked this piece for the ethereal visuals and lyrical style, but will freely admit that I’m not entirely sure what’s going on at all points during the piece. You’ve got a turbulent elliptical style that works well here, creating a neon-soaked fever dream that feels like Michel Gondry doing a remake of Brazil. Here’s my fear, though: based on the pieces that are here, I can’t shake the feeling that this is actually a kind of sappy and schmaltzy story about a boy who seems like just any other boy working a boring menial job, but really he’s a sensitive dreamer if only someone could unlock the key to his heart, and a free spirit girl who flutters through life with neon hair streaming, who needs to be protected from the harsh realities of the world as represented by the apocalyptic highway thundering with dark vehicles. And, if that’s accurate, that doesn’t make it a *bad* story, it just kind of makes it into an elaborately and mysteriously wrapped box that ends up containing a Hamilton Beach bread maker.

The Saddest Rhino // Only Cosplayers Left Alive
This ended up in my mid pile mostly because it was making a bunch of pop culture references that floated over my head. Having now done some quick homework to track these references down, I’m generally not finding that it’s adding to my enjoyment of the story at all. And that’s basically the core danger of filling up a short story with throwaway references to characters from established fictional universes: it assumes that I, the reader, am like you also a fan of these other stories, and that I will be delighted to see them show up. I don’t know who Moka Akashiya is, aside from the fact that she shows up once in your story and then disappears, with the establishing detail being that she has pink hair. I can google her name, and find out that yes indeed there is an anime character by that name, who is in fact a vampire with pink hair, but this is like a joke that takes too long to explain. Whatever value was there to begin with evaporates pretty quickly. Aside from that, this is also a story that has precious little in the way of real conflict, and on a personal note it was a little disappointing to see the Count Chocula thing discarded so easily by the wayside.

Fuschia tude // Flaked Wheat and Spilled Milk
Being the second story this week in which a dead relative is improbably remembered through the hoarding of breakfast cereals, this was already coming out of the gates at a disadvantage. I had this in my low pile, but Thranguy felt that my objectivity was being compromised and saved it from a DM. The dust having settled, I’m thinking you got pretty lucky here. The characters here are paper thin, propped up here and there with detail fluff that ultimately looks nice and adds nothing. The motivations on either side of the eating vs hoarding Weet-Bix conflict are strangely unexplored -- why would any kid in their right mind want to eat Weet-Bix? Why would the father get so bent out of shape about about his dead partner’s breakfast cereal? But, on the positive side, this was at least mercifully short, and it has at least prompted me to add a line into my living will that any breakfast foods that I leave behind should be disposed of in a normal fashion and not kept as a remembrance.

Kaishai // The Science of Honey
This piece has some very nice imagery expressed through confident and evocative prose. You know that, you don’t need me to tell you that. Whether or not the robot bees represented an active attempt at pandering, it totally worked (I have some plausibility notes there, but I’m not much of a stickler for that crap). With a little extra work, the various elements you’ve got here could be strung together into an actual plot, but for now this story reads like the literary equivalent of a page out of a gifted artist’s sketchbook. This is good stuff. I’m excited to see what happens when you try and flesh it out a little further.

QuoProQuid // Calvary
Some parts of this piece worked well for me, and others didn’t. The action is well blocked out, and I enjoyed the imagery of an apocalyptic world being attacked by demonic angels, but it felt like the kind of thing that would work better as a comic book than a story, given how visually driven it was. I think you made an interesting choice by keeping your tone consistently grim despite the obviously comedic elements in play; the idea that the Great Destroyer would be appeased by a star shaped marshmallow is a hard one to play with a straight face, but kudos for going for it. From my perspective as a reader, I think I would have enjoyed this a little more if you had played with lightening the tone in places and more whole-heartedly embracing some of the silliness, but that’s just my own opinion.

Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Wow Benny, thank you so much!

magnificent7
Sep 22, 2005

THUNDERDOME LOSER


So. My dad's been in the hospital on and off over the past two weeks with cancer (diagnosed 2 weeks ago), so my story ain't coming.

Which is a shame, because I've got half of a great tale. Right on top of all these other halves of great tales.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







sebmojo posted:

I'll judge this. 666 words, due 24 June 2359 PST, prompt: kids these days got no fuckin idea (no character over forty)

newtestleper posted:

Holy poo poo I have ZERO time for this. I just can't do it. I'm sorry.

:toxx:

Black Griffon posted:

I'll judge this. 666 words, due 24 June 2359 PST, prompt: kids these days got no fuckin idea (no character over forty)

quote:

Need-to-know

(666 words)

"The floor is lava, you see, burns your feet right up, through the skin and bones."

Andy had one foot up on the bonnet of an old, burnt out Prius, the other one braced against a wall. Milly kept her gaze on the road, halfway paying attention, halfway adjusting the iron sights on her bolt action. She'd taken off her hat, and felt a bare measure of comfort with the wind blowing through her hair. It carried with it the smell of stale compost, rust and long burnt-out buildings, but she'd stopped noticing that half a year after the Bang. this here is what we call a good opener - starts with a vivid image then pulls the rug out with the context. you've also sketched out a brisk post apoc scenario with commendable efficiency no point wasting more time on it we've all seen mad max ect ect

"And you have get from this-," Andy continued, clumsily kicking of the wall, "To over, like, over-," stumbling onto the roof of the Prius, "And then you just jump."

He made an attempt to jump from the roof of the Prius to half a Tesla, and promptly yuck slipped and fell to the grass-kissed asphalt.

"Be quiet, sitt tsk still," said Milly.

Andy blew a raspberry, but sat up, dusted himself off and cradled his knees. blocking, but good blocking

"When will they be back?" said Andy.

"Soon."

"That's what you said an hour ago."

"That's what I said five minutes ago because I don't know." nice dialogue

Andy tried to wipe the dust from his face with a sleeve full of grime and ash from the burnt out cars.

"You're supposed to know," he said, "You're a grown up."

"I'm-", she began, and stopped herself said. <= maybe? idk

I'm not a grown up, she wanted to say, that's just what you call me now. 'Cause you need someone who knows things.

And that's not what I want to be, she'd continue, that's just what I've become. show/tell, i suppooooose you get away with it given the length but I'm p sure this could have been presented more elegantly?

"Soon," and now she looked him in his eyes, "And I wish I could tell you more, but I can't."

He opened his mouth, about to say something, but she saw he got it now. i generally don't like 'WAS GONNA SAY SOMETHING BUT DIDN'T' and i super don't like it twice in a row Maybe he didn't understand it, but he wanted to, and he could see that she wanted the same.

Andy drew circles in the dust with a discarded shell casing, keeping silent against his will, gggnn it may be personal taste but next time find a better way to put this unspoken conversation across but knowing it was for the best.

-

Night and teasing rain brought new smells and new sounds. Andy had fallen asleep in the Prius, sleeping bag on the skeletal back seats, Milly grabbed the rifle, doused the lantern.

The new smells and the new sounds were bad, but the rain was a boon. She checked on Andy, making sure he was hard to spot in the dark, and made her way bland verb down the street.

Marion and Alice should have been back by now, they should have. Milly had just forced herself to not partake in the trepidation and fear plaguing Andy.

But they should have been back.

Felt covered soles on grassy asphalt in drizzling rain made her gone, and she could get right up to the newcomers, just out of range of their lanterns. She adjusted her sights closer, click like the patter of rain on broken cars, aimed for the one with the biggest gun. slick words here

Peach fuzz on his chin, grown up and closer to death than her. Clad in Alice's boots. ditto

See, one thing would always ring true, no matter how young they died.

-

Five minutes after the last shot rang, ring/rang is clumsy she heard Andy coming up the street behind her. She turned, reached him with a brisk walk and turned him around, marched back to their camp.

Before he had time to see anything.

One thing always rang true no matter how young the grown ups got. They'd be the ones who knew. Andy wouldn't have to pull the trigger, not yet. He wouldn't have to see the blood and the endings, not before he had to. Kids had to be kids, needed to.

And so he wouldn't know, and at times it would be torture for Milly because every fit he threw was because of knowledge she wouldn't tell. Couldn't tell. see this is why you just about got away

And she'd keep the blood and the endings to herself, she'd be the one to know. see, here's where you slot it all in and i forgive you because this story is all about telling and knowing and you shove those two things together like the north poles of two magnets. this is a tight and good piece with a couple of minor errors and infelicities

This was a vicious slab of words that screamed up, swung the back wheels around and dropped off the Point before haring off into the distance roadrunner style. Hitting the wordcount exactly was gravy. You could have smashed Newt just by writing POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOP on the screen because he didn't bother to show, but he'd have had a put in a story that was well above his average to beat this.

:siren:Black Griffon Wins:siren:

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 01:46 on Jun 27, 2016

Screaming Idiot
Nov 26, 2007

JUST POSTING WHILE JERKIN' MY GHERKIN SITTIN' IN A PERKINS!

BEATS SELLING MERKINS.


Fun Shoe

Thanks Thranguy, Flerp, and Benny Profane for the crits.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




The Secret of Trevor's Hollow (An Ellen Hunt Mystery)

yr flash is a dinosaur bone

1964 Words

Simon and I were supposed to get out of school early. Dad said he had a surprise waiting for us. Simon told me that morning that he knew what it was, but he wouldn't tell me. He wrote it down and sealed it in an envelope so that he could prove he was right later. But Janey, nosy Janey, fired from the school paper but still pretending to be a reporter Janey snitched me out for having my phone during Bio and Mr. Rickart took it and wouldn't let me get it back until the final bell. So we got to the basement of Baker Hall almost an hour later than planned.

Dad's laboratory was unusually tidy, with all of his current projects put away. On the main table was a huge wooden crate.

“Is that?” I said. Simon pulled the envelope out of his windbreaker and ripped it open. Trevor's back it read in his uncannily perfect handwriting. Father's going to let us help with the inventory.

“Right as usual,” Dad said. “Dean Harris agreed to let me handle it this year.”

Trevor was a dinosaur. Triceratops horridus, an impressive seventy-percent complete fossil found in 1918 by two paleontologists, Martin Baker and Giles Monroe. A few years later they weren't partners any more, weren't even speaking to each other, and they each had a different idea about who should wind up with the bones. Lawyers got involved and things got really messy when it turned out that the place they found them on was land that two different Native American tribes thought they had claim to. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, then got remanded back to the original judge. He was tired of the whole thing and came up with a compromise. So every two years Trevor gets packed up and shipped from New York to Los Angeles, or back again.

“Would you like to do the honors, Ellen?” said Dad. I picked up the small crowbar and found the seam in the top of the crate.

The door swung open and Professor Farnum burst in. “Professor Hunt,” he said. “You know I don't approve of children handling precious fossils.”

“The Dean disagrees,” said Dad. “And you know full well they're both more careful than most of my grad students.”

“Then,” he said, looking around the room. “I'll..I'll be watching you.”

“No more pressing research to do?” I said. I held up my phone and wedged the crowbar in and lifted the crate open.

Trevor is supposed to be shipped across the country in custom-molded packing foam, shielding each individual bone from any kind of impact or travel damage. The crate is designed to fall open on all sides when opened, and each piece could be carefully removed and cataloged. The foam was still there, but it was torn to shreds, along with all of the bones. Apart from a few large pieces of skull Trevor was barely recognizable as foam and bone fragments spilled all over the floor. Everyone just stared, shocked at the fossil carnage.

“I'll find the Dean,” said Dad.

Professor Farnum stared at my phone. “Are you...streaming?” I nodded. “Stop. Take it down,” he said.

“I can,” I said, “But-” Professor Farnum and Dad were already running out of the room before I could tell him that it wouldn't do any good. Lots of people watch my stream. Even if nobody else did, I was sure Janey already had it mirrored on her dumb blog.

Simon was staring intently at the bone pieces as we waited, alone. He frowned, then put on gloves and started to sort them out. “Something's wrong,” he said.

We used to do jigsaw puzzles, as a family thing. But Simon got too good at them. He'd solve them from the middle, piece by piece, faster than anything. Then he'd start completely solving them in his head and not feeling any need to bother moving the pieces unless Dad or I were getting so stuck that it started to annoy him. We got a huge, academic-sized table set up in the big basement room and started doing five thousand-piece puzzles at once, all of the pieces mixed together and without ever looking at the boxes. Pretty soon that was too easy for Simon and too hard for the rest of us, and jigsaw night stopped being a thing. Simon was solving the fossil wreckage like he did those last puzzles. He sorted the fragments into piles. Laying out those piles so that they were roughly in the shape of the bone they had made up was something I could do, so I did.

About halfway through we got a call from Dad's TA. She said that Dad was going to be busy for the rest of the night, and that we should make sure to lock up before heading home. We kept sorting bones. At the end, it looked like everything was there, each bone more or less complete, save for the amount of unsortable dust left on the bottom section of the crate.

“Don't you see it?” said Simon. I didn't. He pointed at the inventory. Trevor was not a complete fossil, but most of the bones that had been missing were the smaller ones: a few ribs, most of the tail, pieces of hands and feet. The big bones were all there. Then I saw it: there was only one femur among our stacks. A bone bigger than my entire leg just wasn't there at all.

“Why?” asked Simon.

“I don't know,” I said. “Why ask me?”

“You're good at why,” he said.

“Okay, so whoever wrecked Trevor probably did it to hide the missing bone. But why would they steal just one bone and not the whole thing? I was thinking insurance before, one of the schools suddenly needing money, but the one bone doesn't fit into that at all. Unless...”

I walked around the table to check out one of the stands Dad had set up. Droppers with acetone and other chemicals and a plaster cylinder. “Dad was going to show us the way to test fake fossils,” I said. “Maybe he mentioned that to someone, and that bone had been fake all along.”

I picked up my phone and called the TA back. “Carla,” I said, “Do you know who normally takes care of unpacking Trevor?”

“Sure,” she said. “That's Dr. Farnum usually. He was bent out of shape about Dr. Graves doing it this year.”

“Thanks,” I said.

* * *

“You're going to owe me big for this,” said Janey, handing over the small metal box.

“You'll scoop all the other media when your blog breaks the story,” I said. “Isn't that enough?”

“What? No, mom would never forgive me for that. I'll give it to her. I want back on the paper. I'm sure you'll find some way to get them to change their minds.”

“They don't change their minds easily. Especially when their decision was so public.”

Janey frowned. “Honestly, I'm doing better with the blog. But what I really want to know is why. It's a mystery, and you know how everybody says that if you want a mystery solved, go to-”

“Don't say it,” I said. I thought about it. It wouldn't be easy, but nothing fun ever is. “Deal.”

I handed the box to Simon. He's good at sneaking around. In ten minutes he was back and the box was magnetically attached to the bottom of Dr. Farnum's car. In ten more I was watching it move with the GPS app on my phone. Simon and I follow on our bicycles.

* * *

It was an old abandoned department store, way outside town where you get a single bar of signal about half of the time. Three cars parked at the West entrance, nobody keeping watch outside. The parking lot lights were all busted or out, leaving only the weak flow of headlight from the highway to see by. We pedaled around to the North entrance and walked to the door.

I worked the lock. Locks aren't much of a problem for me. Alarms are, sometimes, but I figured they wouldn't turn the alarms back on until they were leaving, and I figured right. The store wasn't empty. It was full of boxes. Cigarettes, mostly, from the labels. Some guns and bullets, some smartphones. There were lights, near the middle of the store. We crept up the motionless escalators and around them, to a hidden balcony view.

“This is the last time,” Professor Farnum said. There were half a dozen other people there, men with hard and surly looks.

“Yeah,” said one of them, “We heard.”

Farnum picked up the massive dinosaur bone like it was hollow. It was: he twisted off the end and poured hundreds of small diamonds onto a table.

“You'll have to find another way to move your profits back west next time,” said Farnum.

“We're on it,” said another of the thugs. “The boss is looking into Bitcoin, but we'll probably keep it old school. Your bones aren't the only thing that doesn't get searched going coast to coast.”

I tried to hold my phone out, get some video of them. Mistake. The screen caught the lights. “What's that?” said one of the thugs. The phone slipped out of my hand, dropped down to the first floor. One of them picked it up and got to taking it apart and destroying the memory and SIM cards. Three more grabbed flashlights and ran upstairs looking for us. We tried to run, but there was no way to the exit, no way to hide. They caught me first. Simon probably could have made it out, but there was no way he was going to abandon me, so eventually they got him too.

* * *

We were zip-tied to chairs, hands and feet, tight enough to hurt.

“What are you going to do with them?” asked Dr. Farnum.

“Leave them here,” said one of the thugs. “Call it in to 911 in the morning.” He turned to us. “So don't hurt yourselves trying to get loose before then.” I scowled at him.

“What?”

“What did you think, professor? We don't hurt civilians, least of all kids,” said another.

“But,” he said, waving his arm. “This is where you keep-”

“Just a couple of months worth. We'll take the diamonds and the high-end stuff with us. The rest we can write off. Better to find another place than deal with the kind of heat two dead kids would bring.”

“But- But-”

“What's the matter, doc?”

“They know who I am!” exclaimed Dr. Farnum.

“Then I'd start making some travel plans in a hurry,” said one of the criminals. “I know a guy who can get you across the border to Mexico if you need it.”

“I've got a better idea,” said Dr. Farnum. He pulled a revolver out of his bag and waved off the criminals. None of them had weapons at hand. They held up their hands and gingerly stepped back.

“Hey, think about what you're doing-”

“I've had enough of thinking, enough of being a middleman, enough of risking everything for a tiny slice of the pie. It's time that I-”

Light from police-grade spotlights flooded the store as officers burst through the door. Dr Farnum put his hands up and dropped the gun as instructed.

Even at half a bar, images get sent out, if a bit slowly. And lots of people watch my stream.

Carl Killer Miller
Apr 28, 2007

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




Teen Mysteries - Flash Rule: 'Japanese Silk'

Family Fabric - 1524 words

"I need a fabric that feels soft but heavy. Something to wrap up in." Detective Verde was at a fabric store for the first time in his life. The cashier looked at him quizzically.

"Sir, could you be more specific?"

The detective paused, out of his element. "Nothing with a wild pattern, no crazy colors. It's got to be easy on the eyes. And heavy. Did I mention that?"

She smiled and nodded toward the back of the store. "Let me see what I can do, sir." She came back a few minutes later with a bolt of cloth, printed in a muted series of greys. "This, sir, is Japanese silk. It clings, it has weight, and just look at the pattern!" She fanned her fingers over the fabric for effect. "How much will you need?"

Detective Verde bought the bolt for his son. He wished Eileen were still here, to help him. Verde placed the bolt gingerly in the backseat of his car, then hid it under his coat.

Michael had classes and therapy late tonight, then it was home for his favorite, chicken nuggets on Monday with Dad. As he drove, he thought back to his first year with Michael. Verde had to do it alone. The obstetrician passed him the baby, swaddled in bright blue, but with tears in his eyes. Eileen's labor had been hard. Just as she had given the world Michael, her body gave out. Her heart couldn't handle it. Thinking about that night grew a pit in Verde's stomach, like it did every Monday. And, like every Monday, seeing his boy waiting for dad filled that pit.

Michael climbed into his father's car. He was usually nonverbal after his sessions but he'd open up after a few nuggets and this week's case. At dinner, the two sat across from each other. Verde chewed on his nuggets slowly as he waited for Michael to broach the subject. Like clockwork, it came.

"What's the mystery this week, dad?"

Michael was short on words but long on routine.

"It's a big one, son. I got a call from the chief this morning, said he wanted to put his best man on it." Verde paused. This part of the speech was always the same. Michael needed that routine. It brought him alive.

Verde extended a hand toward Michael, who touched it and smiled. It had been going on for months on end, but this slice of normalcy, this sign that his son loved him shook him.

"All we have is a codeword, Detective Michael." Verde paused for effect. "Japanese Silk". Michael grimaced in what Verde hoped was deep thought and not the start of a fit. Verde continued. "We only have one piece of evidence and I checked it out this morning. I need your help, son."

Verde cleaned up after dinner as Michael fidgeted with excitement, like his engine had turned over. Verde placed a sealed tupperware on the floor and cracked it open for Michael. It was full to the brim with beans of different colors and sizes. Verde sat next to Michael as he sorted the beans by color, the boy's eyes alive with excitement. He wasn't facing a corner, wasn't shut down. Verde watched and thought.

The cases had started when Michael was eight. For the first time, Verde couldn't connect to his son. By four or so, Verde could tell that something was different about Michael. He wouldn't share, but he'd give his toys to the other children and retreat to a corner. Crying was contagious at daycare, but Michael never caught it. He stared expressionless, as his teachers said. He'd felt helpless and alone then, not like a detective should feel. Watching his boy now, though, Verde felt like he was doing something right. Like a father.

Michael sorted quickly. It was, as his therapist said, a 'solitary engagement activity'. He looked up to his father, five piles of beans arranged in order of size. Verde smiled. He spent his off-hours at work on these puzzles for Michael and the payoff was so, so warm.

"Dad? I made the piles and I have a clue!" Verde waited. "I divided them all! 45, 39, 31, 25, 19!". Verde watched as Michael mouthed the numbers to himself. That was enough for tonight.

"You know, Michael? Every good detective needs his rest. Otherwise how'd he handle his next case? Even I'm not sure where to go from here!" Michael wanted another lead, to continue. He tapped his fingers on the wall until Verde scooped him up. Michael put his arms around dad's neck and let Verde put him to bed.

The next day, Verde came in holding a small safe. Michael's bus picked him up on Tuesdays and Verde had time to set up. After holding Michael the night before, he'd thought of Eileen and let that carry him to sleep. So, he cleaned up the beans and set the safe in their place.

When Michael's bus pulled to the corner, he was whispering the numbers under his breath and making sure to step twice and only twice on each square of sidewalk. When Verde opened the door, though, Michael lit up. Dinner was forgotten as the boy went to work on the safe. Verde heard Michael whisper:

"45, 39, 31, 25, 19."

The boy turned the dial. Verde had read that tactile perception was key to his development. The safe clicked open and Michael was taken aback. There was no Japanese silk, only a sheaf of papers. Each had a man's face, hand-drawn. Verde had paid the department's sketch artist after-hours time for them. The expressions were distinct: a frown, a smile, a toothy grin, disgust, and a half-dozen others.

Verde sat with Michael next to the safe. As his son withdrew the pictures, Verde helped him to identify the expression on each face. Michael struggled with sadness and anger, but he was learning smiles. They went through the stack twice. Partway through their first run, Michael placed his hand on Verde's.

However, at the end of their investigation Michael wasn't anywhere closer to solving the mystery. Verde gave him a nudge in the direction of the safe. Michael pawed through it again, retrieving a slim strip of fabric that Verde had cut from the bolt.

Verde saw Michael hold the fabric, confused. Then, his son began to rub the thin grey strip across his own cheek. They had dinner after that, without many words, but as Verde put Michael to bed that night he noticed the boy holding that thin strip close to his belly. Verde stroked his hair. "I'm going to tell the chief what you saw in all of those sketches tomorrow, Michael. We're gonna get to the bottom of the mystery of the Japanese Silk." Michael clung to the strip closer. Verde watched until his son was asleep.

The next day was the same, with the bus, the walk, everything up to the carpet. Michael could usually wait until after dinner for updates to the case. He wouldn't speak for hours after leaving daycare or therapy, upset by the stimulation. Today, though, Michael couldn't wait. Verde sat him down on the sofa.

"Michael, I've got a special mission for you today." Verde saw him lean forward with anticipation, so different from the mild catatonia of his daily life, or of the other mysteries. Verde continued. "It's straight from the chief."

Gingerly, Verde placed a blindfold around Michael's eyes. He was afraid this would agitate his son, but instead Michael settled into it.

Just after work, Verde had stopped back at the same fabric shop and bought samples of five other textiles, each of a texture distinct from the Japanese Silk. Sitting close, Verde spoke softly to his son. "We almost have this figured out, Michael. The crook is bringing Japanese Silk into the country, but we can't tell which cloth it is. Can you help?" The mystery had lost some of the thread, but it was complemented by Michael's enthusiasm.

Verde placed each of the samples, Japanese Silk included, in front of Michael. he held each one, some scratchy, some not. Some were delicate and easy to pull apart and some had ragged edges. Michael held each one to his face, rubbing them against his cheeks while blindfolded. Verde smiled as his son chose the Japanese Silk.

Before removing the blindfold, Verde retrieved the bolt of cloth from the closet. He unwound the blindfold and offered the bolt to his son. Michael caressed it, feeling the cloth's weight, its cling, its embrace. For now, the case was forgotten.

There was never a real crime at home to solve for Verde, only the mystery of Michael. As his son instinctively wrapped himself in heavy, grey Japanese silk, unwound from the bolt, he extended a hand toward his father. Verde sat with him on the floor, cradling his son, wrapped in beautiful fibers, feeling weighted and secure. For the first time, Michael fell asleep in his father's arms. After a half-hour, Verde fell asleep. Together, they cradled each other on the ground, father and son.

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!




579 words

Dreams High Up Above

flerp fucked around with this message at 16:49 on Jul 24, 2016

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take the moon
Feb 12, 2011

by sebmojo


subs are now closed

i cant wait to read all yr stories :)

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