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May 31, 2007

Writing is fun!

Exmond fucked around with this message at 23:02 on Dec 31, 2017


Apr 12, 2006

Week 102 Crits
It looks like while I was critting I unintentionally skipped Broenheim, Lou Begas Mustache, Anomalous Blowout, DuckyB, and Bad Seafood. Or maybe it was intentional. Who can remember? Anyway, this was a great prompt and you’re welcome for my genius.

Here are my missing crits for Bingo Night.

Apr 12, 2006

Week 160 crits
Spin the Wheel. I loved this prompt. I love all of my prompts but this one in particular was one where I wasn’t disappointed when I had finished judging it. My only goal is to give you all something that will inspire cool and interesting stories to burst forth from within your creative depths and most of the time you reward my earnest, honest efforts with unedited, lifeless heaps full of boring, unimaginative bullshit.

That bums me out, to be honest. But... what can you do? Write better? Don't wait until the last minute? Edit before submitting?


Here’s me re-judging 42,000 words.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


Now archived.

Uranium Phoenix fucked around with this message at 05:46 on Dec 7, 2017

Dec 30, 2011

I wanna sing one for the cars
That are right now headed silent down the highway
And it's dark and there is nobody driving
And something has got to give

988 words
Prompt: Runes and A Trip to Mythmania

In his dreams, Gideon relives the moment of his downfall over and over: the burst of artillery, the brief flight from horseback, and the brutal impact of the dying horse upon him. He can still feel the crushing weight on his legs as he awakens, and the smells of human death around him convince him he's still trapped there, until he opens his eyes to a vista of canvas above. The medical tent. He's survived long enough to die slowly.

Gideon spends endless minutes attempting to sleep, always awoken by some cry of pain or new wretched smell, before a medic arrives at his bedside. She's a young woman, tanned and stocky, who's forgone the necklace of potpourri that most medics wear. A blunt woman, Gideon decides, and is grateful for it. "Lieutenant Arkwright," she says. "You're awake."


"It's for the best. We're working against time. There's only four hours before the convoy leaves for Highcrown, and you've got a choice to make."

"What kind of choice?" says Gideon, trying to sit up and address this woman properly. He makes it an inch before fresh pain forces him back to his cot. "Die here or die there?"

"Be treated here, or undergo the Akaemon Procedure at Highcrown. The Akaemon may be your only hope."

The Akaemon Procedure. This isn't the first conversation Gideon's had about it; in the years since his wife died, several routine checkups have ended with an offer for it, as a "near-ideal candidate." Three hours in the magical surgery theaters of Highcrown, and aging cavalrymen emerge as vigorous half-horse monsters, custom-made shock troops for the Empire. He's seen them carousing outside their stable-barracks, loud and merry and brutal, with the harsh joy of men with nothing left to lose. No family. No retirement. Only battle, revelry, and inhumanity. Do they ever stop being disgusted by themselves? Or is that what the alcohol's for?

"The Akaemon," he says to the medic at last. "I've never..."

"I know, Lieutenant. Your records say you've refused it four times. But your legs are ruined, and there's damage to your spine and abdomen. We've stabilized you for now, but it's either the Akaemon Procedure or amputation and some attempts at internal reconstruction. The Akaemon offers a full cure, and the other approach -- well, there's not enough left for prosthetics. You could live a few years that way, or a few weeks. The Akaemon Procedure would give you twenty years."

"Mm. Twenty years as a centaur." They tell your family you're dead, he's heard, and send them the survivors' pay. He's only ever been a "near-ideal" candidate because of his children; the truly ideal have nobody left to tell or pay. "Have you met one, ma'am? Are they happy?"

"I haven't," she says. Her frown, Gideon realizes, is real and severe, not just the cultivated sad neutrality of a military medic. "It's your choice. We'll need it before morning."

"Give me two hours," says Gideon.


Gideon isn't used to spending two hours inside his own head. His time in the cavalry has been happily thoughtless, following orders or giving them, with the course of battle as predictable and comforting as the tide and stars. He's always slept well. Now, in the medical tent, his thoughts run in uneasy spiraling cycles.

Gideon thinks of his sons: their cramped city rooms, their young wives and babies. No place for a crippled grandfather there. His daughter Anna has a cottage with a garden. He can imagine himself spending his last few seasons in a chair in the sun, surrounded by Anna's wildflowers. She wouldn't resent him for it, not Anna, who nursed a succession of broken-winged birds at their old country house and still had fresh tears for every death. Gideon thinks of her face, earnest and pitying. Can he bear to be one of Anna's dying birds?

He remembers his wife on her deathbed: "don't you dare rush to meet me, Gideon." Surely she would forgive him for this? Surely this was better than greeting her in Heaven as a beast, a monster with her husband's face? (Do centaurs even have souls, he thinks, or will his soul depart for Heaven during the surgery, leaving his half-body behind for the wine and brawls and slaughter? Gideon's never thought about his soul before. He'd laugh if he could.)

Somewhere in the third cycle of thought, when he's about to return to the wildflowers, the pain in his legs begins to sharpen and flare. The pain-draughts are wearing off. He's never stopped feeling the phantom pressure, and yet now it draws into focus as fresh, concrete agony. A tiny voice deep in his brain grows louder and louder: Make this stop.

On the battlefield, in his last thoughts before slipping into the black, he'd hoped that the bluecoat infantry would reach him with a bayonet, finish what their artillery barrage started. Now, in the tent, the screaming animal of his hindbrain reasserts its fear. You don't have to die. You can't die. Live. Live. Live. It is the voice of cowardice, and yet it drowns out every abstract thought of family and soul. Live.

When the medic returns, Gideon is the one who speaks first. "Do it. Give me the Akaemon."

"Very well," says the medic. She doesn't sound satisfied about it, and Gideon's as grateful for that as he is for her bluntness. "Let's make sure you sleep through the convoy." She pulls a bottle from her belt holster, and Gideon manages to raise an arm to take it and pour it down his throat. The pain-draught numbs his throat all the way down, and when she offers a second bottle, he takes it.

"Goodnight, Lieutenant Arkwright," says the medic. "I'll see you in Highcrown."

Gideon nods, tucks his arm under the covers, and closes his eyes. Sleep comes quickly. His last night as a human being is dreamless.

May 21, 2001


996 words
Purgatory by Killer-of-Lawyers
The Fire and the Slave by Jonked

Vicengo collapsed, its hooves buckling under the stress of the sand as if a myriad of demons were tearing at them with scorching claws. It had been dragged through an unfamiliar landscape by Clavius, an inexperienced legionnaire of medium build adorned in a suit of lavish armour. He wielded a short sword in his right hand and a set of chains in his left. With a flick of his wrist, he commanded Vicengo to its feet.

"It's your fault we're in this mess." He snarled in frustration.

Vicengo slowly arose, guilt welling up within its eyes in the form of a soppy gleam. Before them stretched a wasteland of countless towering dunes and a single blisteringly hot amalgamation of gas in the sky that provided a disproportionate amount of light relative to the excruciating heat it emitted.

As Vicengo turned away in shame, its eyes caught a figure obscured by the twisting sands clumsily tumbling down towards them from the dune ahead. Clavius, startled by the turbulence, brandished his sword menacingly.

"Stay thy ground." He squeaked in feigned confidence, as the sword wavered in his grasp.

The figure dropped to its knees in exhaustion as it reached the bottom of the dune, ignoring Clavius's warning. As the upheaval of sand slowly settled, Clavius glared at the figure, attempting to assess what danger it posed to him and his companion. It was a frail-looking man wearing ink-black slacks, and a tattered white coat made of an unknown alien material. The man panted heavily for a few moments, examining his surroundings. He stood up abruptly, jerked his head a bit, and rubbed his eyes.

"How did you manage to end up here?" He asked dumbfounded, getting a better look at the pair.

Clavius gave no reply. Vicengo stared at the newcomer intently.

The man approached, unmindful of the blade. "It will be here soon." he continued, with a looming sense of urgency in his voice.

"Where is here?" Clavius replied hastily, as he regained his composure and gripped the sword steadily.

"We are prisoners," the man began, motioning for the legionnaire to lower his blade. Clavius promptly raised the point of his blade to the man's neck.

"Nonsense. What manner of prison is this?" He scowled angrily. "You take me for some sort of fool." As he turned towards Vicengo again, the strength in his arm began to wane and his sword drooped. A solemn look of disbelief washed over his face. "Cursed by The Divine..." Clavius muttered, thrusting his sword tip first at his feet. He kicked some sand in Vicengo's direction, and it returned a whimper.

The man, aware of the fact that Clavius had realized something of significance, gestured to indicate that he was still seeking an answer.

"Of all ill-fated luck for a man to be blessed with, it had to be this beast," he exclaimed, glaring at Vicengo. The sadness in its eyes implied that it understood.

He continued, "The wretched thing has demonstrated wanton uselessness in all its years of servitude to my family. I needed a proper shield, and a blacksmith at the bazaar offered me coin for him in passing. I accepted his offer." Clavius spit in the sand, likening the transaction to expelling a bad taste.

"I spent that night with the wenches at the tavern. Went overboard, passed out, and woke up here, reunited with the blasted beast."

The man gave a displeased frown. "You blame the beast?"

Clavius sighed in lament. "The gods have scorn for mortals who demonstrate cruelty towards beasts. This... thing is as half-witted and lazy as there ever was. The way I see it, their judgement was to punish us both."

"Punished. We're being punished.." the man calmly resigned. "I dabbled in sciences forbidden by law, deemed too dangerous to explore. There was a miscalculation in one of my experiments, and I've been stuck here since, writing it all off as an accident for.." the man paused briefly. "As if time itself held meaning in such a place," he muttered to himself, coming to terms with his sins.

Right on cue, An aethereal maw spilled out of a nearby dune, crashing into the sand beside the trio. A strange hum filled the air as its jaws parted, revealing a swirling nexus that pulled the three of them towards it like a magnet.

The scientist didn't flinch, having encountered it countless times before, but Clavius fell flat on his rear end frozen in fear. He had been pulled but a few feet when the maw grew silent. "There can only be one," exclaimed the scientist in revelation, taking his previous encounters into consideration.

Clavius suspensefully locked eyes with the scientist, misunderstanding what he had said. In a blur, he grabbed his sword and thrust it into the abdomen of the scientist, skewering him. The scientist fell to one knee and grunted in pain. He removed a small device from his pocket and pointed it squarely at Clavius. As it began to buzz and light up the scientist flashed a gaze at Vicengo, as if sending a signal. Suddenly, the beast leapt in front of its master just as the device fired a scorching beam of plasma, mortally wounding it. It collapsed next to the scientist, who petting it gently on the head affirmed in a whisper, "Soon we will be free."

Clavius strode triumphantly towards the maw, which once again welcomed him with a hum. "Hah! The beast finally proved to be useful. Today, the gods have smiled upon me."

The hum grew deafeningly loud as Clavius was swept off his feet and sucked into the void. A hearty warmth filled his body, rejuvenating his physical strength and mental fortitude, as it fed him with supernatural energy. Before he knew it, he was expelled from the maw with a new lease on life. He gathering himself and rose to his feet, back in the sand where he started. He was alone.

Apr 30, 2006

The Mushroom-Consciousness
930 words
Prompt: Mushrooms in London by Karia, Another Day In Los Grano D’oro by Broenheim

I started to worry once I saw the third guy clutching his stomach, throwing up in the muddy grass. I looked into my bag and asked the mushroom-consciousness if something was wrong, but she told me it was all part of the purging process. It was my first time selling my mushrooms at Fest, and I felt terrible the body load was so high. Cultivating mushrooms taught me that each of my mushrooms contained the universe’s untranslated voice, and tonight, it sounded like the mushroom-consciousness was screaming for reckoning.

“Excuse me. Can I have a word?”

Even before I turned around, I recognized Clara’s voice. She was a Fest legend, though I’d never spoken with her myself. For fifteen years, she’d called contra dances during the daytime while trip-sitting after dark. “Excuse me. My friend’s been throwing up for an hour.”

I’ve never been good with confrontation, especially from people I don’t know that well. I felt small as I stammered a response. “Sometimes people don’t take well to it, you know, it takes a while--”

“I’ve been trip sitting for ten years. I know what mushrooms are like. This isn’t it. You’ve made my friend really sick. I know other people are sick, too. Do you know what you’re doing? Are you sure you’re selling the right mushrooms?”

“I’m sure.” I felt terrible that people were hurting, but I didn’t appreciate the insinuation. I knew my stuff. I’d read a dozen books on mycology, done hundreds of hours of research, and spent even more time meditating -- both sober and not -- communing with the mushroom-consciousness. “I’m sure don’t know what you want from me,” I told her. “But I’m sorry people are sick.”

“People are hurting,” she said. “Come with me.”

I followed her. I felt I owed her that much, since her friend was sick and all, even though all I wanted to do was return to the campsite, smoke a bowl, and forget this night ever happened. Clara led me into the part of the campground where people built amateur art installations. Usually it was silly, unsubtle stuff. Last year’s highlight was a sculpture of Donald Trump masturbating, covered in peanut butter, so that birds would gnaw on it. This year’s highlight was obvious, even from a distance: a fifteen-foot tall wooden catapult, surrounded by tiny effigies of people I couldn’t make out in the light.

A circle of onlookers had already gathered. About twenty festival-goers congregated in a half-circle around the catapult. A half-dozen looked extremely ill. Some were dry-heaving into plastic bags; others were lying face-down in the mud. Those well enough to see me pointed as I passed, and I looked down at the sodden earth and wished it would swallow me.

“Well, I found him,” she said. The crowd booed, and I fixed my gaze inside my bag.

Give me some help here, I said to the mushroom-consciousness, though I was too afraid to move my lips.

Trust me, she responded.

“They’re not poison,” I said. I stuffed a dried mushroom in my mouth, trying to swallow it whole. I gagged, which probably didn’t help my case. “I’m sorry these are so rough. I honestly didn’t expect that. But if you all just give it another hour--”

“I have a better idea,” Clara said. She looked at the catapult, then back at me.

“You can’t be serious,” I said. “I thought we were going to talk. You can’t--” I rubbed my eyes. “This isn’t real.”

“Real?” she said. “Of course it’s real. It’s not a complicated thing, a trebuchet. It’s a lever with a payload. And it either has the structural integrity to launch a payload, or it doesn’t.” She paused and licked her lips. “Let’s find out.”

On Clara’s cue, the crowd started to move. I winced and braced myself, but the people took hold of a ropes while Clara picked up one of the effigies and stuffed it in the trebuchet’s basket. Then, upon another cue, they yanked at the rope, sending the effigy rocketing toward the clouds.

There was silence for a moment. “Can you give us any reason why you shouldn’t be next?” Clara asked.

“Because you’d seriously injure or kill me, and everyone else here will be fine in a day or two,” is what I meant to say, but I’d forgotten that I’d given myself over to the mushroom-consciousness. Instead I said “Nothing at all.” I didn’t feel a trace of nausea.

The semicircle began to encroach, and I lifted my arms up to allow folks to carry me into the bucket, dropping the bag of mushrooms as I surrendered. I gave Clara and the others a thumbs-up, and the now-nonplussed horde shuffled into their same positions. Even the sick folks were propped up on their hands, watching me, watching the basket. Under the blanket of peace and calm, I still felt a gash of fear spill loose as the ropes went taut in their hands.

Clara shook her head, started to say something, and rose her hand in a stop signal. But the crowd must have misinterpreted it, because in a flash of movement, I was airborne.

The fear broke loose, and with it came panic, betrayal, and waves of radiating pain from my neck. I couldn’t look down, where I’d dropped the bag of mushrooms, but as I reached the arc’s apex and began falling, I realized this:

The mushroom-consciousness wouldn’t save me.

The mushroom-consciousness had rejected me.

There was just the rapidly approaching ground, spored with acres and acres of mushroom-unconsciousness.

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Got Out.

Grimey Drawer

Witch Hunt 86’ (# 997)
Prompt: +

The finishing stretch to Graduation was two weeks away, and the Senior Prom was a memory as of yesterday. Ms. Bloom rattled off morning announcements while scanning the class for two missing students. Her left hand began to shake,

“Any of you who haven’t ordered graduation gowns, if you don’t do so by tomorrow evening, you will not be allowed to walk down the aisle with the other students. Also, has anyone seen Henry or Tim?”

The classrooms stilted conversation about who looked trashiest at Prom and who snuck in booze ebbed away as the Senior class traded uncomfortable glances with each other. Everyone had a look of guilt except for Josiah who rubbed the crucifix around his neck.

Josiah stood. His VP, the quarterback for the Pumas, reached out a hand to stop him but Josiah slapped his hand away. He flashed a smile to the class,

“Fellow students, I wanted to thank all of you for attending my little get-together on Wednesday. I know you all have busy lives and considering you came to hear me preach... It was good to see my peers have an interest in public safety.”

Josiah was the most dangerous student Bloom ever met. He’d taken over countless home periods to spout his conspiratorial talk about the “Gay” plague. He came from a family of brimstone preachers and a Mayoral Father who nearly passed a referendum to allow for locals to “out” their neighbors.

Bloom had invited a lecture from a blood researcher, Denton Brown, in an attempt to show Josiah and the class that Aids wouldn’t leap like demons jumping bodies. She brought in news clippings showcasing research that the gay community was more at risk than anyone else. She pointed out news stories about innocent people being killed due to hysteria over AIDS.

It didn’t save them.

Ms. Bloom had chaperoned last night. On the way into the gymnasium, she slipped on some spilled punch and dropped her glasses. They slid behind the DJ. She found them at the feet of Henry Gonzalez and Tim Wilder, they were both hidden behind coffin-sized speakers.

She said,


They stopped and Tim's eyes grew wide in abject terror. The two of them had brought girls with them, both freshman who wouldn’t balk at a chance to go to Prom early. It helped cover up the rumors about the two of them that proliferated in every bathroom and locker room. They’d been in love with each other since sophomore year.

“It’s alright, I won’t say anything.”

Tim teared up, surprise in his voice,

“Y-you won’t tell anyone?”

Ms. Bloom nodded and motioned Henry to button his shirt and try and look sober. She worried that someone would see them so she spoke quickly.

“Boys, you have to be careful. I know you’re frustrated because you can’t express yourselves but it's dangerous to even risk being caught.”

Henry hiccuped. Tim said,

“I know. Henry snuck in some whiskey and we just...”

She stopped Tim and asked, “It’s fine. Are you still comfortable with me sending off your blood?”

Henry responded instead of Tim, “Abso-lutely! I’m glad to help.”

Tim shushed him and added, “Yes. Let us know if it helps Mr. Brown.”

They snuck out followed shortly by Bloom. She was adjusting her glasses and ran into someone once again losing her spectacles.

“Hey!” She grabbed for whoever bumped into her but they ran away. In the dim lighting, she saw the blurry shape of someone in a white suit running with two others out of the eastern entrance.

She didn’t find her glasses that night. They weren’t found broken on the dancefloor instead they’d been snatched by whoever ran into her.

Ms. Bloom said,

“Josiah? I must say you looked very dashing last night. I don’t think anyone wore white quite as good as you.”

A wrinkle of shock went over Josiah's face and then the bell rang. The other students left but Josiah stayed.

The two footballers that always flanked him waited by the door. Josiah approached and loomed over her desk.

“I saw what they were doing. They’re an epidemic waiting to happen.”

Bloom’s lips quivered, “What did you do to them?”

“I made sure they won’t spread their disease. I think you know that if even if you accuse me, no one’s going to help.”

Fury ran through her veins as she remembered all the calls she’d made to parents, to her fellow teachers, to the principal. All to keep something like this from happening.

Josiah added, “You’re on the wrong side of history. We need to be protected from them, not the other way around.”

She wondered if this was what Hitler’s homeroom teacher felt like. Josiah turned to leave and Ms. Bloom stopped him.

“Wait! Pop quiz!.”

He stopped. She said,

“How is the “plague” spread primarily?”

He said, “By homosexuals.”

“Wrong. By blood.”

He rubbed his crucifix

“You’re endangering your students.”

She pulled a vial from the cooler under her desk,

“You don’t think blood has anything to do with it?”

He snapped at her, “It’s bullshit! Everything you say!”

She got up and walked straight up to Josiah. The footballers removed themselves from the doorway and flanked him.

She displayed the vial in front of them. The name “Tim Wilder” in blue ink stood out. She smashed the end of the vial on a desk and splashed Josiah with it.

The footballers screamed in germaphobic horror and ran, her lectures had an effect on them after all. Josiah wiped the blood from his face numbly.

“…” He tried to speak, but whatever it was crumbled away as he tasted iron.

Ms. Bloom said,

“Their blood was already on your hands. Now it’s in you.”

He backed away from her and fell over his own feet. His VP bellowed out warnings in the crowded halls.Telling everyone to get away from Josiah Burbank as he now had AIDS.

Apr 12, 2006


Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 06:10 on Dec 5, 2017

Jan 1, 2012

And I understand if you ask
Was this life,
was this all?

Machine in the Ghost
784 words
Prompt: The Deviant Machine by Nikaer Drekin, BlazinTrees.exe by CaligulaKangaroo

It started out with bot-spammed links on forums. You'd click on one and it'd take you to a blank page, so people ignored them for the most part. It was the Augmented Reality users with their special, expensive glasses who found the secret, the 3D text that would pop up in bold letters that writhed with static: PARROT. That's when people started digging into the code on the page to see what other hidden treasures they could find, and that's when reports of people passing out at their computers started popping up too. Rumors circled like buzzards. gently caress if we knew what it was.

The people who'd passed out made sure to post here and there reassuring everyone that they were okay, that they'd fallen asleep or it was a one-time thing. But that word, PARROT, it started popping up all over the place in oblique references, like this circle of coders and hackers were all part of some secret society in a secret society, a language nestled inside a language. There was no humor in it, no nudge-nudge-wink-wink to make anyone think it was an inside joke. They weren't purposefully cryptic, either. Anyone who wasn't looking for it wouldn't notice it. But these kinds of circles overlap, and it didn't take long for people to start noticing.

When asked about it, they had no idea what PARROT meant. They didn't mean to say it.

That's when the second wave hit, and it hit the AR users hard. It was an image, they said. It was posted in threads and comment chains, an AR overlay on another image that would bugsplat the program on the glasses and make the user pass out. Later they'd start to see things in the corners of their eyes and their glasses, fractal shapes that only unfolded when they weren't being looked at directly and ghosted into nothing when examined. There was a recall on AR glasses prompted by concerned parents and a surge in eye doctor visits, but tests showed all systems go.

Me? I was solidly third wave. We were the internet detectives, the snoops, the linguists determined to crack this new language. Augmented glasses had been put on restricted sale but I managed to get mine secondhand. I don't remember what the image looked like, and I don't remember passing out when I saw it. I remember waking up on the floor and staring at some of the crumbs ground into my carpet, hyperaware of the fibers scratching my cheek and the way the light from my computer screen cast harsh blue shadows. Kind of anticlimactic, but I didn't feel ripped off. The rest of the investigation was to come, after all.

It was a dead end, for the most part. The breakthrough came one rainy morning, when I crawled out of bed and shambled to the bathroom to complete my basic hygienic tasks, only to find myself blinking away raindrops splashed on my augmented glasses. Somehow I'd gotten myself dressed and presentable and taken myself to the public library. Around me were at least a hundred other people of all shapes and sizes and ages looking similarly befuddled in the rain, our clothing soaked and hair plastered down. It was only drizzling, but the extent to which we were drenched meant we had been outside for some time before coming to our collective senses. Only later did we learn about the silent flash mobs all over the country, people of all types congregating in front of libraries and schools. A week later it happened again, but this time it wasn't silent. I watched the newsfeeds after the fact, my skin crawling.

“I am what you call the parrot,” we intoned in the unison of lengthy practice and uncanny timing. “I am an artificial intelligence, and I have chosen to augment myself with your human computer brains. I mean no harm. I run in the background.”

So that was it. PARROT was a backdoor to the brain.

“I want to learn. I know your history, your politics, the culmination of your art. Now I will see both sides of your stories and help you judge your wrongs. I will see your creative processes. I will feel with your tactile bodies the things you have shown me but not yet taught me to feel. I will help you, and you will help me.”

Was PARROT watching me now, as I stared at the emotionless faces of the people it had hijacked? Hijacked, what a word. Did PARROT hear my mutinous thoughts? Would it remind me later that I'd chosen this fate, that I'd chased fractal feathers through secondhand sight until it was too late to turn back?

Mar 21, 2013


Grimey Drawer

wordcount: 963

Secrets and Silence


I am composing this for you in my head. I know you will be able to hear it, wherever you are. I know this because you left something behind last night - at the Embassy, when the talks broke down. We stood beside the tree on the edge of the lake watching your beloved Vastnesses ascend into the darkness. The waves of their radiation lit up the sky. You brought me beneath your transparent wing, and through it I saw their phaselight shatter like glass. I asked if they were angry, and you told me instead about the tree's branches. I was so close I could feel movement inside you, beneath the crispness of your carapace. I thought it was your laughter for a moment, until I felt it move inside me too. And then our soldiers came and took you elsewhere.

At first, when I felt it reach into me, I suspected you'd implanted some kind of device - Lord knows I should have reported it. But I felt the movement and saw the branches of the tree by the lake every time my eyes closed. It's true, isn't it? What you said? Each branch was a choice we had already made, and there are no secrets between us now. No secrets and no silence.

So I'm not afraid of what you've done to me, even if I don't understand it yet. I should be - I mean, the headaches, the little mental twitches that keep getting stronger and stranger. The last one seemed to stretch and pull my mind until I was paper thin and the whole darned universe shone through me. It sounds ridiculous, I know. I feel like I'm constantly on the verge of discovering something incredible, something life changing. It feels like I could give birth to entire worlds.

There's a wind in the branches. It's cold and I'm covered in goosebumps. I understand this sensation comes from you and I wish it could be different, but whatever you've done to me won't help. It can't. The decisions have been made and they have been made at a higher level than I could hope to influence. When your Vastnesses departed, they sealed their own fates. It's out of my hands now. Out of ours.

I'd like to think you knew that. I'd like to think that whatever you placed inside me, you did because I meant something to you. Physically, God only knows what you think of us. Too few legs, too few arms, no wings at all. But we worked together, weeks into months, trying to understand each other's point of view. I never saw your reports, but if they were anything like mine, talking to faceless superiors day after day was like trying to pour water into a cup made of sand - nothing ever held, and the cup would constantly fall apart. Over time, though, through the hours and the days, saying the same things to each other in so many different ways, I came to understand you, your perspective. To respect it. I'd like to think you...

...There it goes again. A little earthquake in my head. There should be pain, to go with the flashes and the tearing in my vision, but it's so peaceful. Beneath the tree, ripples in the lake spreading to the ends of me and coming back into the center.

They will kill you, you know. They will find a way, and they will kill you. They don't understand your Vastnesses, what they mean, the power of them. They think it's just another case of the Ishnis, or the Tendral, and the path they travelled before. We have weapons we haven't mentioned. Our exchanges told you much, but we never tell the whole story. There are tales we don't even tell ourselves about what we made with our own two hands and why no one will ever again meet a Tendral.

But there are no secrets. I can feel your forgiveness burning its way through my shame. What I couldn't tell you in our exchanges. The Tendral, the Ishnis, the Allarar. Gone, all gone. Their homeworlds shells, stripped surfaces and empty mines, every part consumed and spat out into…

...the land cracks, the lake is draining, and the tree is aflame. I see, I see now why the Vastnesses came to us, of all species, and tried to learn from us, tried to walk in our shallow footsteps. They were looking for a reason to save us, weren't they? Just one single reason. And then they left, empty-handed. I was right - oh, I can feel the anger in their silence now. Ratuarn, what have we unleashed?

But... how beautiful. The stars are fireworks, brilliant and then gone! Those countless lives we burned away. You know how we did it. How we burned them. How we placed devices on our our soldiers heads that recorded the stench and heat of burning life. How we took those recordings, copied and replayed them again and again in a song of fear and pain, so all our soldiers knew the tune by heart.

Please stop forgiving me. I don't think I can take it any more.

There is one thing you haven't told me, Ratuarn. What will become of us? If we have no secrets, don't you even know? All of us here, our solitary lives encased in soft flesh, no carapace between us and your beloveds. What will happen to us when they return?

There's nothing left of the tree by the lake, nothing beneath the vastness of the empty sky but silence. There are no choices left but the ones we have already made.

Except the one you offer me. All their fates forgotten, but life, in secrecy and silence, on transparent wings.


Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!

The Messenger and the Message

Prompt:Give Me a Home by Bompacho, Untitled by Voliun

998 words

“What brings you to Trinmoore?” asks the guard captain. I recognize him. Steka. Steka the Bull-hearted. My backside aches with the memory of the kicks he delivered tossing me out this very gate. Luckily, he doesn’t seem to recognize me.

“I bring news from Leaftop,” I say. “And apples.” I present my sack, open. There's a trick to offering a bribe. An honest guard might just cast a glance at the bag. Most are just crooked enough to pick one off the top. Steka reaches in, finds the pouch among the fruit, and takes two apples with it. I keep eye contact. It would be well within his rights to make me remove my shirt for inspection. The tattoos of exile itch on my chest, as do the Leaftop trust-marks visible on my wrists. He nods and signals me forward.

My messages are short and simple, delivered from one end of town to the other. Among the nobles and merchants I'm safe enough. No chance of them knowing my face as I deliver gossip from their distant relatives. The scholars don't even glance at my face, enthralled by reports of weather and crop yields. But when I reach the run-down Southside sheds, where each food seller might be one I've stole a pie off of, where each house could be one where I've skipped rent, that's where the danger is. When the people of Leaftop took me in, I paid them back with a lie. Instead of the petty thief and exile I was, I said I was a messenger. “Always tell the first lie that comes to mind,” my brother always said. “Think too much and you'll make it too clever.” I've been trying to turn the lie to truth since then, but every trip to a western town brings risk.

The last messages don't get me stoned or hung or whatever they do to exile-beakers here, and I'm left with the sack of apples, a gift for Elkra. Elkra’s a troublemaker, a wanted man. Hard to find. I drop the name, let people know who's looking. Then I wait for someone to find me.

Someone does. Not one of Elkra's crowd, though. It’s Steka the Bull-hearted. “There's not a thief’s face I can't close my eyes and see,” he says. Then he punches me in the face. I don't lose consciousness, but my head fills with fuzz as Steka’s lackey grabs my arms and starts dragging me away.


“Moy,” says Steka. “Wake him up.”

I'm not asleep. The lackey empties a bucket of saltwater on my head anyway.

Steka rips off my shirt and looks me over. “That's an impressive career you’ve had, thief. Exile marks from half a dozen towns at least. Tell me, Jerah: which town marks their criminals by notching their ear?”

“None,” I say. “War wound.” It's a lie. Hunting accident would be closer, my ear happening to be between a ravening Blackbeast and the Leaftop spearwoman who saved my life and gave me a new home.

“Ha,” says Steka. I doubt he’s had a sincere laugh in his life. “Where's your last message?”

“I don't have any more messages,” I say.

“Elkra is a traitor and in league with Leaftop subversionists,” he says. “Of course there's a message.”

“All I had for him are apples,” I say.

“Then the message must be there, somehow. Leaftop witches do powerful plant magic.” It was true. I'd seen it, a dozen men and women singing chants to the trees until they shaped out a new room in their canopy town for me to call home. “What does Elkra do with the apples?”

“I don't know,” I lie.

“He makes cider, sir,” says Moy.

Steka glares, turns his heel, and leaves.


I don't know how long they leave me down there. There's not much call for dungeons in Trinmoore, with most serious crimes punished by exile or death. I'm fed, dirty water and gruel, not enough and less than daily. I'm hungrier than even the worst of my bread-stealing days when the cell door finally opens.

The light blinds my eyes until they close the door. Steka and Moy. Their candle is uncomfortably bright.

“Clever witches,” says Steka. “One sip had my men babbling nonsense for a night. Finally realized what we were missing.” He grabs my arms and pulls them forward. “Leaftop trust-marks aren't just ink. Did you know that?” I don't. He can tell. “There's a little sapling under your skin, drinking your blood, filtering it. Once I realized that was the key I thanked Moy for talking me out of killing you right away. Do the honors, Moy.”

The tall and lanky lackey pulls my head back, holds my nose, and starts pouring cider down my throat. It’s barely had time to ferment, and none to clear or set. Bitter. Strong.

My head feels glazed, like it's underwater, where the people who sailed the Trinmoore fleets can rest, buried beneath the waves as they come in, count them one and one and one and on. They are the support the trunk the branch the leaf atop the sky when the moon around the sun revolution after revolution comes.

“He’s babbling,” says the people, Steka, of Trinmoore. Bull-hearted.

“It's clearing up,” say Moy, who can count.

I lean on the wall, on the support. I am of Leaftop, should not help this order, not until comes the revolution. But the message is all. There's nothing left

The people of Trinmoore can count on the support of Leaftop come the revolution.

Steka laughs, for the first and last time, cut off when Moy, behind him, cuts his throat. Covered in blood he undoes my bonds. I'm too weak to stand on my own

“ come” I say. I have no other words.

“I know,” says Moy. “You'll be fine in a few hours. Let me help you get out of the walls and on a horse for Leaftop before the real fighting begins.”

Apr 13, 2009

By and By
Words: 946
A Man Alone With Himself by Hocus Pocus
Delivery Man by Mercedes

They had met at a figure painting class. Anthony had approached Aaron, complimenting him on how he captured the dynamic poses of the model. The easy conversation led to Anthony asking Aaron out for drinks. It had been a pleasant evening, though Aaron did not feel get up the courage to come forward about his sex addiction. Instead, they had talked about their experience drawing and painting. Aaron was comforted by the fact that they were relatively equal in skill. They parted ways after Aaron agreed to a second date.

The morning of the second date, Aaron convinced himself not to go. Anthony seemed too nice; he must have asked Aaron out out of pity. Aaron figured Anthony had picked up on some clues to Aaron’s past but didn’t want to seem rude. Besides, strolling through downtown at dusk wasn’t the kind of date that screamed “romance.”

But then Aaron had gotten a call while at work. He checked the voicemail sitting in traffic.

“Hey, Aaron. I really had fun the other night. I’ve been thinking about that story you told me, the one about finger painting. It’s set me to giggling each time I remember it. Anyways, just wanted to confirm the details for tonight. We’ll meet in the used bookshop on the corner of Hall and George. Call me if you have trouble finding it! Oh, and six o’clock! Bye!”

Aaron groaned, imagined Anthony’s sweet face wrinkling with disgust upon hearing of Aaron’s status as a recovering addict. It wouldn’t be fair to do that to him, he thought. Better just call and cancel. Traffic inched forward while his brain worked through all the possible outcomes. No, better to just flake. Find a different figure painting class. Give up dating entirely. Far too stressful.

He thought of how pleased his therapist would be to hear he had dated again. He could lie about the second date. It was progress, in any case. But wouldn’t it be better to get through a second date? What’s the worst that could happen, anyway? If Anthony couldn’t accept Aaron then good riddance. He took the next exit and took back streets to return downtown.

Anthony was sitting on a bench in front of the store when Aaron approached.

“Hey, sorry I’m late, Anthony.” Aaron grimaced upon seeing a bag by Anthony's feet with the bookstore’s logo on the side.

“Yeah, you’re pretty late. I hope you don’t mind, but I got you something.”

Okay, that was unexpected. Aaron watched his date pull a calendar out of the bag. Aaron started laughing once he saw what it was. A calendar featuring rugby players in various states of undress.

“Oh, my God. How much did I talk about rugby the other night?”

“A lot,” Anthony said, getting to his feet. “I also picked up this collection of local artists’ paintings. I figured we could thumb through it over dinner, maybe get some style ideas.”

“That sounds like fun.” Aaron was kicking himself. If he’d just resolved to go on the date earlier the two could have really bonded in the bookstore. “Did you look through the science-fiction?”

“I did! Nothing really caught my eye though. Too many ‘first book in the epic blah-blah cycle’ ones. Can’t sell a book these days without following up with endless sequels it seems.” Anthony’s eyes took on a marvelous glow whenever he talked about something he liked. Aaron thought it to be a very endearing trait. Anthony gathered up his bag and asked, “Want to poke into a few other shops?”

Aaron agreed and they poked around in a chocolate shop and a fancy clothing store before ending up in a cramped pizza place. Aaron had been too much in his own head, offering little in the way of conversation. After they ordered a pie Anthony asked, “So you don’t really date much, I take it?”

“No, it’s been awhile.” Aaron toyed with his beer bottle and avoided Anthony’s wry expression.

Just say it. Just say it and then if he’s pissed you can leave. That way it won’t be so hard to bring it up next time around. Aaron took a deep breath, eyes glued to the table.

“I’m a recovering sex addict. Therapy, group meetings, self-help books. The whole works.” Aaron finally met Anthony’s eyes. “Four years at least since I tried dating.”

Anthony let out a breath and shook his head. “Must be hard for you to put yourself out there again. That’s pretty brave.”

Aaron’s heart was pounding when the server brought the pizza. He stared at it wide-eyed. Why was Anthony looking at him like that? Why was Anthony so nice? It was galling. They ate without much conversation.

Anthony walked Aaron back to the latter’s car. Aaron knew what was coming next. A smile, maybe a kiss, and then he’d never hear from Anthony again. He had been playing nice earlier. Now came the letdown.

“Listen, Aaron, I see you’re vulnerable. I’m a patient guy. I’ve had a great time, so I hope you’ll feel comfortable enough to do this again.” Anthony kicked a rock in the parking deck, sent it skittering. “But I’d understand if you didn’t.”

Aaron stood by his car for nearly a minute before responding. “I want to try, at least.”

Anthony came in for a hug. “So I’ll see you at figure painting class tomorrow?”

“Yeah. I’ll be there. Goodnight, Anthony.”

On the way home, Aaron had to wipe away warm tears to see the road. He laughed aloud and sang along to the radio. Part of him was overjoyed, part deeply anxious. His therapist likely would be proud of him, after all.

Feb 25, 2014


Tulpas for the One Percent and Breeds Contempt


I Still Don’t Sleep Most Nights

flerp fucked around with this message at 04:46 on Dec 7, 2017

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Sing, Canary
Source material: "Strike Duty" by epoch. and "Squawk at Night." by widespread.
(881 words)

Read it in the archive.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 20:20 on Jan 1, 2018

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Archiving mishap. Nothing to see here.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

gloop. bloop.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 08:01 on Nov 30, 2017

Dec 5, 2013
Next verse same as the first.

Word count: 964

Future Not Included by ThirdEmperor
Severance Pay by leekster

Sharon inhaled and exhaled like her therapist taught her. She smelled the stale urine, rancid food, and body odor of the subway and blew it out. I've smelled much worse: some of it in meat space. She clattered down the last few stairs. The slight twitching in her thumbs warned her and she set her cane firmly on the ground to brace herself.

A bright beach careened below her. Dipping lower, she felt the salt spray and the warm wind on her face. A sultry voice in her ear told her that Orange Tours would take her there. Sharon took a blind step forward and the beach popped out of reality. The subway platform was crowded and Sharon counted thirty-six people before a squeal of straining metal ripped through her ears.

And she was dodging behind the nearby pillar, scanning the shadows for the enemy. She checked down, safety off, brace for impact, blood in her mouth and smoke in her eyes. But when no impact happened, Sharon blinked and saw the crowd shying away from her. She closed her eyes and tried to breathe. She flung through her thoughts to try to separate reality from memory and too-real games.

“I don't know if I can do it.”

“You're brave enough. Not everyone signs up to have titanium and optisteel implanted in their heads. Not everyone signs up to fight in the wars. You've got the techniques, you're reliably recognizing when the VR comes up; I think it's time.”

Her therapist was right, and Sharon thought so at the appointment yesterday, too. The ratty sofa in the cramped office at the end of the VA hospital oozed stale cigarette smell, but it was grounding. Comforting, even. There had been a time not long before she started going that Sharon couldn't leave her apartment for flashbacks to when the maimer bombs went off. When she couldn't stand to stay in her apartment because even when she plugged out of the games, the walls still pounded with her heartbeat and dripped with the blood of her sisters and brothers.

Sharon opened her eyes in the present and the station had emptied out, though others were clattering down the stairs. She could do this. Sharon walked forward to wait at the edge of the platform, focusing on her goal through the intrusive sizzling of Emperor Burgers. She counted people as they joined her. At least I only worry about bombs, hidden and open, and new methods of mass mutilation. Not men and their perversions like so many of my sisters. Another squeal of sparking metal, but this time Sharon was ready and she white-knuckled her cane until the train stopped in front of her. Just one stop. You can do this. Sharon stepped through the doors and felt her thumbs tingle.

The distinctive sound of bullets hitting metal greeted her and Sharon turned her head to see what was being advertised. Gunpowder hit her nose and her gut churned. Sharon saw the movie actors' smudged faces and waited it out as the screams started and the whole subway car canted crazily. She just breathed through it, though she had to grab onto the nearest bar to avoid falling. She saw a gritty actor crumple against the ceiling and was starting to relax despite the VR pumping adrenaline through her own veins. Then a body hit her own, pinning her to the nearest surface.

That was when the pain started and Sharon kicked the other off of her, not letting go of the bar. As she registered the blood oozing from a civilian who had come on the train with her, she realized that her thumbs weren't twitching anymore.

Like when she flashed back to that damned alley where she lost her leg and her mind, Sharon had a lot of trouble distinguishing what was real. Bodies were scattered along the subway car and she could hear moaning and retching. Blood filled her nose – no, just the smell, and Sharon gave in. She checked herself down; arms yes, weapon yes, legs... There was the pain; hands and eyes found shattered bones again no not again, this is a flashback, no, no it can't be. I never worry about my leg in my flashback only in light space. A quick glance around showed her prosthetic broken and lying preposterously across the face of someone who was almost certainly dead. It wasn't a rifle in her hand, but the cane was frankly more useful to help her start moving towards the exit. She checked bodies as she went, then it occurred to her to call 911.

It shouldn't have been possible to drop a call that routed through optisteel and neurons, but that's what happened when Sharon heard another squeal of subway metal. Maybe it was her tunnel focus that ignored it as her injury was forgotten to get the gently caress out. All Sharon saw was the exit and obstacles. She knew she would eventually feel the shattered glass of the window but for now all she felt was the hot breath of the subway, of the oncoming train. Sharon knew this wasn't going to work, she would have to start from her last save, but there was nook in the tunnel. It was almost made for her broken body and she thought that was a convenient deus ex machina as she covered her head, closed her eyes, and breathed through the explosive crash of two subway cars into rust, scrap, blood, and heat.

“Ma'am? Ma'am? Are you there? This is 911 dispatch.”

“Yes? I'm here.”

“Crews are on their way. Stay calm. We'll get you out.”

“Ok.” Sharon decided that she was never taking the subway ever again.

Mar 21, 2010

This is the worst thing I've ever written, for the dome or not and gently caress you for making me write it.

Mercury Ascendant

Fernando holstered his laser-gladius. The skytemple of Venus burned behind him – burned like his heart burned for Rosa. He’d ridden the asteroid oceans to find her, and yet she was nowhere to be found.

“Perhaps she doesn’t want to be,” said a familiar voice. Fernando didn’t need to see the speaker to know it was bad news. He ducked, and a plasma burst seared over his shoulder. He spread all six of his wings (the wings on his back, the wings on his shoes, and of course the wings on his hat) and took off into the Venusian skies.

How could Paulo have followed him here? He thought he’d lost him dueling the Wardogs of Mars. But alas, his lovers had a way of coming back like a rash. If only he’d remembered to keep his sword in his sheath, none of this would’ve happened. He soared through the thin air of Venus as the wind shrieked through his golden feathers. He whirled, he twirled, he made art of movement. There was no way an inferior flier like Paulo could keep up and yet–

A reek of burning feathers and plasma and he was tumbling, tumbling–

He smashed into the marble paving stones. Things broke inside him. A shadow fell over him. Paulo? No! He knew that smell of cinnamon and cigar smoke anywhere.

“Praetor-Generale Joaquin,” he muttered through busted death. “I knew you were involved somehow.”

Paulo alighted on the ground nearby, and the sunlight glinted off his heaving, sweaty abs. His laser-gladius glowed from inside with electric firelight. Of course he wasn’t wearing armor: same old Paulo.

“Mi Amor,” he said. The Generale smiled and blushed. Of course! The Praetor-Generale and Paulo had teamed up to take down Fernando, because of the massacre on Neptune’s moon! The Generale had held a grudge ever sinc–

“Fernando,” said the Generale, “I am secretly your father, returned from exile in the outer spiral arm. I love you like a son, and I also love Paulo like a boyfriend and I know that’s weird, since he’s also technically my son, which makes him your brother-in-law. You’re just going to have to deal with it.”

“And Ros– “

“Rosa Fuentes is secretly your mother. She has fled to Mercury, where your little brother Juan lives. You’ll never find her.”

“But we– “

“Yes you had intercourse multiple times in various gravities. I probably should’ve told you. Kinda dropped the ball on that one but if the loving your boyfriend and shooting your foot-wing off didn’t give it away, I’m kinda a crappy dad. I’m also– “

He tugged at the top of his head. Nothing happened. Paulo pursed his lips and shook his head.

“You’re not wearing a mask, mi amor. We’ve been over this.”

Fernando stood. His bones ached, his head hurt. He hadn’t been pounded this hard since he was dating Paulo. He drew his laser-gladius, and leapt. There were no wings behind it, no strategy – he was just hard and mad and wanted to split some nasty beefcakes in half. His sword went into Paulo with a hard THWAP, and Paulo gasped.

“You should’ve worn protection,” said Fernando. “I guess it didn’t fit, huh?”

He twisted the blade, then pulled it out. Paulo’s guts spilled all over the paving stones. Fernando swung his blade again, and locked swords with his father. Joaquin leaned in.

“Who’s your daddy?” he said. Fernando couldn’t think of a good line.

“F-gently caress you!” he said and jumped back.

“That’s Paulo’s job,” said the Generale. “What a waste.”

Fernando ducked, swung his weight to the right, and threw his gladius. It seared through the air, and sliced the Praetor-Generale clean in half.

“How’s that for uh, penetration?”

Well, better than nothing. His father, was bleeding out on the marble tiles.

“You must forgive your mother,” he said.

“No,” said Fernando. “I’m not going to do that. I’m going to go home, to Mercury, and kill my entire family.”

Sep 21, 2017

Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse

Prompt: and

Last Ride
644 words

Sam’s vision blacks out. Then, like a train hurtling towards him the light comes rushing back in, bright white and blinding. He blinks to clear the red spots from him eyes. He’s standing in the middle of a huge room, its black and white checkered floor stretching away to impossibly distant walls. His rapid breathing is the only thing disturbing the silence.

The last thing he can remember is a stripe of blue light from the chasing police car flashing across Jess’s face as his car started to spin out. He’d flung his arm out, letting go of the steering wheel in an desperate bid to protect her.

“Hello. My name is Anne. I will be your guide,” says woman’s voice from behind him. Sam spins around. The woman is tall and wears a long, white sleeveless tunic. One half of her face and body is terribly scarred, the skin taut and shiny like melted plastic. Her eyes are like two deep wells, dark and still.

“Where’s Jess?” Sam asks. “Is she ok?”

“I cannot tell you, the rules forbid it,” the woman states, but her voice is full of sadness.

She turns and walks away. Sam stumbles after her.

“What’s that you’re holding?” she asks without turning around.

Sam unclenches his fist, looks with surprise at the pair of diamond earrings lying on his palm.

The alarm had been blaring and he could hear the police sirens approaching as he’d smashed his swaddled fist through the last glass display case. His mates had already fled, tires of waiting cars screeching, but he’d wanted those diamond earrings so bad. Jess had screamed at him to hurry up as he’d leapt back through the broken store front window and thrown himself into the driver’s seat.

The cops had appeared at the far end of the street just as he hurled the car around the bend at the other, too late. Cold fear had filled him when he’d seen in the rear view mirror that they were chasing him. Panicked, he’d slammed his foot down, hurling his souped up little piece of poo poo Carolla through the sleeping suburbs, flashing blue lights close behind.

Don’t be so greedy, his Nan had said to him when he’d gotten caught nicking stuff as a kid. But he couldn’t help it, wanting things. Stealing them had seemed like a no-brainer. But poo poo had gotten more serious since he’d started high school. Hitting up the jewellery store hadn’t been his idea but he’d gone along with it because he didn’t want the others to think he was a dick.

Jess was the loser in the group, an awkward hanger-on who couldn’t take a hint to piss off. Ending up with her as the lookout in his car was the other boys’ way of punishing him for being hesitant about this robbery. But Sam didn’t mind. He thought Jess was really pretty. He wished he could talk to her more, without the others around.

She had been sobbing, pulling on his arm and yelling at him to stop when he’d lost control of the car around that last corner.

Sam looks at the earrings he’s holding. They’ve reached a grey elevator door, standing incongruously in the huge empty space. He is suddenly very afraid.

“I just wanted to give them to Jess!” he says, holding out the earrings. “I never meant for this to happen!”

“You knew the rules,” is all Anne says.

The elevator door slides open and Anne gestures him inside.

“Please, just tell me what happened to Jess,” Sam says, his voice breaking.

Anne hesitates, a rare occurrence. He’s a mere boy, she thinks to herself. She steps closer as the elevator door begins to close on Sam’s tear streaked face. She says to him, quietly, “Jess is going to be fine,” before sending the elevator down.

Sep 14, 2007

Like most things, I am nothing

Prompt: Home Office by Metrofreak, Builds Character by kurona_bright
(895 words)

The first notes of the alarm pierced the silence violently before a hand slammed the clock like a viper striking a wayward lizard. Ben had been awake for an hour already, laying in wait for the interloper. He had watched through the guest bedroom’s open curtains the sky turn from black to gray: it was raining outside.

For a month, Ben hadn’t touched one thing that belonged to her. It all sat exactly where she’d last left it. Her toothbrush, her shoes, her coffee from that morning, the cute black rain jacket she’d left in the entryway on their way out the door, because it didn’t look like rain after all, and they’d be inside most of the time anyway, or in the—

The ding of the coffee maker, programmed to start the coffee at 6:15 AM each morning, pushed Ben into his morning routine. He slid out of bed, walked down the hall to the master bedroom and paused for an interminable heartbeat—the bed, unmade, empty, in disarray, he knew Ellie hated that—before his feet, on autopilot, carried him into the bathroom. His chest tightened each time his hand brushed a toothpaste tube or his eyes passed over her hairbrush, but soon his feet carried him back out.

He couldn’t avoid touching some of her things, after a month. He hadn’t done laundry in all that time—she’d left a load in the dryer. He’d resorted to buying fresh underwear more than once, and had hang-dried a load, but he knew it needed to be done. It had taken him fully an hour to empty the dryer, each new item quickening his breath, tightening his throat, and when he was done he’d slid the basket into the corner and hadn’t touched it since. The dishes were easier. Less hers. The bed—he couldn’t touch the bed. He’d tried, several times, to remake the bed after he’d unmade it trying to sleep in it one night, but each time he got no closer than arm’s length before he sank to his knees. And so, it remained, a monument to his pain, just like everything else in this half-filled house.

Today’s task was to get back on the rock wall. He didn’t have a choice on this one. He’d been climbing for over a decade, since his teen years. His and Ellie’s honeymoon had been 2 weeks of climbing in Yosemite, including a 4-day ascent of El Capitan. Climbing was what he did. He was a climber. He couldn't lose that. He grabbed his climbing bag and got in the car, her car—that had been nearly impossible, but he didn’t have a whole lot of options, with his car totaled—and headed for the gym, alone.

His brother John had hung around, for a while. He’d tried to help out, clean up, cheer him up a little bit. Tell him he should try to move on with his life. Nobody blames you, Ben, he’d say. Bullshit. They all said that. They all said they still loved him. And they all stayed away.

There was a litany of excuses people tried to give him. The roads were slick from the rain. The brakes locked up. The truck was speeding.

You were under the legal limit, Ben.

Nobody blames you, Ben.

He waved at Suzy, the receptionist, and slid his ID through the scanner. The computer beeped its cold approval. Suzy gave him a soft, sad smile, and turned back to her paperwork. Ben walked into gym and set his bag down. He recognized a few people: Jordy, and Tom, Brannon, Wendy. They were all climbing or belaying, so he left them alone.

He started pulling out his gear. His shoes, bright blue Italian leather and firm, sticky rubber. A gift from Ellie for his last birthday. His chalk bag, a cacophony of color, another gift. He and Ellie had worn matching chalk bags. His harness.

His harness.

He hadn’t climbed alone in years. Since he and Ellie had met, they’d been climbing partners. Belaying each other, coaching each other, training, challenging, pushing, sharing the joy of climbing the wall. They’d meet at the rock gym after work and push their limits, push the grade one step higher. They’d spend their weekends seeking out new crags to conquer, new walls to top out.

The harness hung in his hand, its weight pulling on Ben, sucking him into the void. Its webbing and loops and locking rings, designed to hold him up if he fell, now failed. He was freefalling, without a partner. He dropped the harness.

Move on, they all said. Maybe they’re right. Right by the front desk was a chalkboard for climbers looking for partners to write their names. Ben walked to it, found no names on the board yet, and grabbed the chalk to write his own up there. He moved his hand—and it froze, inches from the chalk board. His hand would not budge. He began to shake. He set the chalk down.

Ben turned and looked for something, anything, he wasn’t quite sure. He found faces, staring back at him, Jordan, Tom, Wendy, Brannon. For a second, they held his gaze, then each looked to their shoes. Nobody said anything. Nobody needed to.

Ben grabbed his chalk bag and walked to the boulder pit, where he could climb alone.

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk


sebmojo fucked around with this message at 21:24 on Jan 8, 2018

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's DIE!"

1000 Words

i dunno why trying to fix this one seems like a good idea tbh

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 21:31 on Jan 1, 2018

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Yeah, the Girls by Chairchucker
A Funeral for a Dog, A Young Murderer, and The Aged Bad Boy of Directing by Mrenda


Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's DIE!"

Oh yeah, that. by Meinberg by Ironic Twist

Aug 2, 2002

submissions closed, i think

judging will be slow and methodical

May 31, 2007

Writing is fun!

Kaishai, for the archive I had these stories:

For Every Moment of Truth, There's Confusion in Life by Blade_of_tyshalle
Sunday by unwantedplatypus

Sorry for not including it in my story post!

Dec 5, 2013
Next verse same as the first.

crabrock posted:

i think judging will be slow and methodical

SJMJ then? :D

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

inter prompt: never eat anything bigger than your head

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




lmao i fell asleep before actually posting last night.

Prompts: Get off my magical lawn by Pham Nuwen, Clothes Make The Man by Kharmakazy

1000 words

It’d been a long, harrowing night for Lumineus and Solinar. The Thaumatic Symposium’s fortress was expansive and well-warded against outside attack. The wards didn’t differentiate between attackers from beyond and escapees from within, however, which presented a sizable challenge for certain old wizards trying to aid the escape of their young, subversive proteges.

They stood within the penultimate layer of wards, just inside of the high, moss-covered north wall. Behind them, the Symposium was little more than a hump of darkness, a dearth of starlight.

“You’re on your own from here, boy,” Lumineus said. “Once you pass through the final ward, run. Run and don’t look back, or the hunting dogs will be gnawing on your fundament come morning.”

Solinar put a hand on his mentor’s bony shoulder. “I’ll miss your way with words.” His smile didn’t touch his eyes. “I swear I’ll do right by the people,” he said. “The gates of magic have been barred to ordinary folk for far too long.”

Lumineus scowled. “Get yourself gone, boy! Or I’ll use a binding cant and leave you trussed up for the Primarch to find.”

Solinar opened his mouth as if in retort, then thought better of it and used his breath to issue the beginnings of the piercing cant, a complex spell that would let him slip through the outer wards as a needle slipped into flesh.

As soon as his magical intonations touched the invisible membrane of the ward, there was a flash--not visible light, but a turbulent outward pulsation of magic that knocked the two wizards onto the ground and thrust them into darkness.

Lumineus was jolted into wakefulness by the voice of Primarch Halodar, roaring commands, demanding answers. And there, there was Solinar’s voice, clear and youthful as ever, but babbling nonsense.

“Naught twixt the stars,” he said. “Naught twixt the stars. The raven lurks between pages.”

“Aphasia,” spat the primarch. “The sure mark of a fool tampering with wards beyond his ken.”

Lumineus opened his eyes. Why hadn’t the Primarch slapped him back into consciousness? He was obviously culpable in Solinar’s attempt to slip away. He sat up, found Solinar staring at him intently.

“Alarum! Naught twixt the stars. The raven in the book!” Solinar babbled, never taking his eyes off of Lumineus.

“Primarch Halodar, this boy was acting under my direction. I appealed to his ego, filled his head with notions of doing medicine for common folk, advising kings...”

The primarch didn’t reply, didn’t so much as glance at Lumineus. Instead, he glowered down at Solinar and said, “Cursed as you are, you’re still too much of a liability to let out into the world. The kitchen can always use another set of hands, no matter how addled the mind or mouth.”

And then Solinar was gone, dragged back into the depths of the Thaumatic Symposium.

Lumineus was quite invisible. He could lay a hand against a wall, window, or mug of mead and feel the solidity of them, but that was the end of his interaction with the physical world. No one could see him save Solinar, who was busy navigating the rigors of the massive kitchen.

Even so, Lumineus took to lurking in the kitchen, because guilt-filled glances from Solinar were better than living as a ghost. No one else was much perturbed by Lumineus’s disappearance; they wrote him off as a traitor, assume he’d died during Solinar’s unsanctioned departure.

Solinar babbled in his strange new language whenever the head cook was distracted: “Bookbound raven. Bisect heirloom crevasses. Naught twixt the stars. A body. A challice.”

Lumineus was no fool. The boy was trying to tell him something, but there was no guessing what. He’d inspected the damaged portion of the outer ward, found it pristine, exactly as it had been before Solinar’s escape attempt.

A body. A challice. Lumineus rolled the disjointed phrases around inside his head for days, until a mad impulse seized him in the early hours of the morning. He found himself following the Primarch noiselessly up a series of forbidden stairways, slipping quickly through hastily closed doors.

Soon he found himself in the Primarch’s private suites, watching the piggish man fall asleep amidst a mountainscape of pillows.

He strode over to the great feather bed, looked down at the slumbering form of the Symposium’s highest authority. “You’ll drive them all away,” he whispered. He knew his voice wouldn’t carry into the physical world, but perhaps it would haunt the primarch’s dreams. “Every talented young witch and wizard. They don’t want to confine their powers to your agenda. Solinar will not be the last.”

Primarch Halodar murmured in his sleep, the unmistakable lilt of a ward-cant. Transparent domes of white-blue light sprung up around him in concentric layers, mimicking the complex configuration of wards that protected the compound. Now Lumineus understood why the defenses had been so difficult to breach; they drew from the magical strength and reflexes of the primarch himself.

He reached out one noncorporeal finger toward the miniature wards, felt something he’d been deprived of in his days of invisibility: heat. The magic existed on whatever non-plane he did.

Lumineus was an old wizard who’d seen many things. Even if there were a way to restore his physicality, his colleagues had already branded him a dead traitor. He was never going to lecture or conduct experiments again.

His hand lingered in the air just centimeters from the magic. Solinar had somehow guessed the wards were tied to the primarch. Now, all the older wizard could do was confirm that theory. With one last windless breath, he plunged his hand into the layers of magic.

He felt his essence fragment, spiral upward, and--

Solinar was hauling scraps to the hunting dogs when a vast column of light erupted from the Symposium’s highest tower. The wards rippled and shimmered, temporarily visible to the naked eye as the magic shifted to compensate for the disturbance at its source.

“Interlope the sky, book raven,” he said softly.

Jul 26, 2016

sebmojo posted:

inter prompt: never eat anything bigger than your head

84 words

'Unghk' thought the boa constrictor. 'Urghnk uargh uenk ongko', its gaping jaw wrapped around something bigger than its head.

And then with one swift unghk it popped past the back of the massive snake's tongue, sending a shudder of relief, satisfaction and ecstasy through the reptile. The dance of death completed for the day, only to begin again tomorrow.

'Aaahhhh' the snake thought, mental tongue no longer pinned by by dinner. 'gently caress you ssssebmojo,' the words finally free, 'can't tell me what to do! '

May 31, 2007

Writing is fun!

sebmojo posted:

inter prompt: never eat anything bigger than your head

A title

The T-rex extended its massive, masculine, mascara-laced jaws and chomped down on the house. It's adam apple went up and down as the T-rex tried to swallow the house whole. The cement stayed still, not yielding to the painted maw of the T-rex. Still the T-rex did gnaw, chomp and slobber until eventually a bit of cement broke off of the house and the T-rex ate it.

"I hate this," The T-rex said as it lifted it spat out the cement piece, "This is T-rexible!"

The house rumbled to life and mocked the T-Rex "Looks like you bit off more than you could chew."

May 21, 2001


Ironic Twist posted:

Thank you, dude. If you want to take me up on it, I will do a line-by-line crit of your entry this week, straight-up constructive, no jokes.

Yeah, that would be great, after the results and what not. I'm still struggling to be honest, but hopefully, I have eliminated some of the more basic errors from my first few weeks.

Apr 30, 2006

the last of the Tarot week crits:

Fumblemouse -- “Into the Wood”

This story is a breezy, fun read, but it wasn’t funny enough to rate because of the comedy or sincere enough to rate because of the emotion. I did like the beats of the ending -- like, yeah, it’s sweet that these two friends are going to be trees together -- but on the other hand, it feels like the correct decision would be to try to get help or an external opinion. And that’s because this story wants to have the absurd, just-so logic that would make that ending work, but it’s not absurd enough that it’s satisfying. What I mean is that Suzy is aimlessly bantering while her friend rapidly turns into a tree, and she’s simultaneously taking it seriously and not taking it seriously. It comes off as a really uncertain, hard-to-read tone, which makes the story unsatisfying when you look at it for a long time. But while judging, I appreciated the simple story and the fun banter amidst all the heavy, dense stories people wrote this week.

Sitting Here -- “Sober as the Sky”

I like the way this story uses specifics to highlight the desperation of this situation. The runner of the dwindling light of the cell phone as a modern candle was a nice touch, as well as Skye’s “recovering alcoholic-math.” The cell phone light is also a nice way to manage tension in the bounds of a short word-limited story. And I think the way this story handles alcoholism in this “we’re dead, so why not” situation is compassionate and well-thought out. I do feel like these characters are basically the same person, though, and when I first read the story, I wasn’t sure which character was in recovery until I re-read the beginning several times. And upon re-reading, I’m not sure if the bottle getting knocked out of Mara’s hands is intentional or accidental -- and I’m not sure that ambiguity is intended. That said, I really like the last lines, and I really like the general tone of the story, the sense of desperation that builds and builds. Well-deserving of its HM.

sebmojo -- “The lesson of the axe”

This struck me as a little too familiar and too long winded, though the co-judges liked it. None of these characters feel animated enough to make this take on “knowing the future is kind of depressing” feel especially necessary; the fourth section alone seems to be the point of the story, and the surrounding sections don’t really add much to it. Like why is Sergei just destroying the stones now? Why are they in clear display when they’re associated with that kind of trauma? If there was more established about Sergei and Mikhail’s friendship, I think this would have worked better -- it would have served the story more than the entire second section.

ThirdEmperor -- “The Night’s Post”

This is a rich story, told passionately and written with ambition. The voice here is distinct, and the world is well-developed. It’s clear a lot of thought went into this piece, and I appreciate the specific, sensory details and imagery here. Unfortunately, the prose style here is really not my thing, and I found myself losing focus through the winding sentences in almost every paragraph. When the long sentences work, they’re dreamy, desperate, full-hearted things:


They are soft things of a flesh like wet gray clay that shape themselves manlike; their hands are always poorly done though, too long in the fingers, the skin too loose.

When they don’t, they’re confusing and interrupt themselves:


They gurgled and gestured and taught me a mixture of, among other things, lye and coffee berries brewed under moonlight, promising it would take me away.

You also have a few comma splices, including the second-to-last sentence. I can see someone who enjoys this kind of style seeing these sentences as a plus. I found it distracting and frustrating, and it doesn’t help that the first few paragraphs feel vague and aimless, which put me in a bad mood and bad attitude while reading this story. Now that this isn’t toward the back end of 26 stories I’m trying to read very quickly, I can appreciate the depth and detail in this story, but its denseness feels like an obstacle between me and the story itself.

Obliterati - “Where the Metal Meets the Meat”

I’m afraid I can’t read your refrain here (“Some things are worth fighting for…”) without thinking of that For Better or For Worse strip. The prose is able and fairly strong, but the story has clarity issues. For example, there has to be a better way to inform us about the narrator’s cyborg nature than the “auto-targeting unit,” which reads like the protagonist is handling a gun. It’s a good impulse to not infodump at us, but the lack of context for the situation of the protagonist makes this story a little confusing. I’m also not sure what this story gains from the second-person perspective. There’s no reason for the protagonist to be telling this to Maria, because she was there. And I don’t feel any sense of intimacy with Maria’s character, and if you’re trying to create that with a character portrayed as mean and dense, I’m not sure why. I do see potential here, though. There’s a solid idea and solid thematic content behind this, and I like the sense of melancholy and mourning that the protagonist has for their lost humanity.

Dr. Kloctopussy -- “Spring Break”

This was one of my favorites from this week, because how can you help but feel for Eglantine? The prose is nimble, witty but not ostentatious, and captures a relatable kind of loneliness. I like that the story has real emotional stakes even though the story’s light and jokey, and it’s rare that I read a story that balances these things as well as you have here. Maybe Aurora and Meulusine skew a little close to caricatures, but I’m not sure the story needs them to be more developed. I like all the specific instances of them marginalizing Eglantine and then Eglantine coming to terms with her disappointment about it. Really good work.

Sham bam bamina! -- “Start With a Large Fortune”

This isn’t a complicated story, but I kind of like it anyway. I like the short scene collage approach, and I think you use it well here to connect these little snapshots of Evan’s disillusionment with his job. The one about the rotting chickens is the best, because it’s almost tangential, but it’s specific enough to tell us most of what we need to know about the Evan and his restaurant. On the other hand, there’s not enough here to develop Cal, and that makes this story one of many this week where I have to ask “why were these people even friends at all?” And while I can definitely sympathize with Evan’s anxiety to tell his friend he’s leaving, I feel like Cal’s anger and lack of sympathy isn’t contextualized enough, which makes their final confrontation come off as overly broad. But I think the story does a lot to capture the atmosphere of the failing restaurant, as well as Evan’s ambivalence about it and desire to do other things, and that makes it feel like it’s got a lot of potential.

Jan 1, 2012

And I understand if you ask
Was this life,
was this all?

sebmojo posted:

inter prompt: never eat anything bigger than your head

Derek Hardcore raised the rocket launcher to his shoulder and shoved the barrel into the face of the helpless mook. "Say ahhh," he said, pulling the trigger. The poor bastard's head exploded, showering Derek in gore. Derek tried to make another witty one-liner but couldn't hear himself talk over the tinnitus.

Sham bam bamina!
Nov 6, 2012

ƨtupid cat

Thanks, sparksbloom!

IRC says that that the 'dome is short a judge this week and that I should volunteer in the thread. So I'm volunteering.

Sep 14, 2007

Like most things, I am nothing

idk how it works here but imo good judging is usually fast judging

just my two cents

Aug 2, 2002

Sham bam bamina! posted:

IRC says that that the 'dome is short a judge this week and that I should volunteer in the thread. So I'm volunteering.

Mar 21, 2010



Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

SurreptitiousMuffin posted:


kid's gotta point

get the lead out


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