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  • Locked thread
Mar 7, 2006

"So you Jesus?"

"And you black?"

"Nigga prove it!"

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

i'll try this. in pls


Oct 30, 2016
IN. i'll submit something this time goddamn it.

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh

May 3, 2003

Who wants to live


College Slice

Jun 24, 2012

Strum in a harmonizing quartet
I want to cause a revolution

What can I do? My savage
nature is beyond wild
Sure, let's try this. In.

Feb 25, 2014
in :toxx: but im not writing fantasy or scifi gently caress that poo poo

Oct 10, 2007

Can you see that I am serious?
Fun Shoe

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Thranguy posted:

Isperia, Supreme Judge: Thranguy
Judge of Currents:Jay W. Frinks
(Third Judge may choose between Stern Judge, Armorcraft Judge, and Judge of Currents)

I'll be ur Amorcraft Judge, guy :wink:

Ready to read Infinite (bad) Words

No Gravitas
Jun 12, 2013

by FactsAreUseless
Oh, sure. Let's do this.

In, gimme cards.

Nov 13, 2012

Pain is inevitable.
Suffering is optional.
Thunderdome is forever.
In with :toxx: because if it doesn't involve spaceships I'm pretty much stuck

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.

SkaAndScreenplays posted:

Is this standard legal?

I'm IN

I'd toxx for my recent failures but I'm still waiting on those others to come down.
Spiked Baloth
Terramorphic Expanse

Urborg Drake
Broken Dam

Wild-field Scarecrow
Blue Sun's Zenith
Merciless Eviction

my cat is norris posted:

I'm in! Cards, please!
Amrou Scout
Rhox Charger
Living Wall

Mercedes posted:

i'll try this. in pls
Farrelite Priest
Sunseed Nurturer
Yew Spirit

Okua posted:

IN. i'll submit something this time goddamn it.
Mahamiti Djinn
Mind Spring
Thought Devourer

Bound by Moonsilver
Kemba, Kha Regent
Tukatongue Thallid

Deity of Scars
Endless Scream

Julias posted:

Sure, let's try this. In.
Pygmy Razorback
Arc Trail
Drooling Groodion

flerp posted:

in :toxx: but im not writing fantasy or scifi gently caress that poo poo
Inexorable Tide
Volcanic Awakening
Dolmen Gate

Worst Fears
Courier Hawk

No Gravitas posted:

Oh, sure. Let's do this.

In, gimme cards.
Dispeller's Capsule
Thunder Dragon
Slipstream Eel

Obliterati posted:

In with :toxx: because if it doesn't involve spaceships I'm pretty much stuck
Zodiac Dragon
Rally the Peasants
Joven's Ferrets

Fuschia tude posted:

I'll be ur Amorcraft Judge, guy :wink:

Ready to read Infinite (bad) Words


Apr 30, 2006

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.

Sharding Sphinx
Rites of Flourishing
Grim Tutor

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Oh, and if anyone is really unhappy with your cards, I'll let you take a mulligan and give you a new set of three if you crit three stories from last week. One time per person.

a new study bible!
Feb 2, 2009

A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly

Sign up

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.

Mistform Mask
Macabre Waltz
Act of Treason

Apr 11, 2012

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Volcanic Hammer
Whirlpool Rider
Flesh to Dust

Sep 15, 2010


That's just a bullshit word.
hi here are ur Week 234 Crits

Eyes of Eris
Right off the bat, this is a little confusing because the AI is referring to itself as a “we”, I was convinced Alecta was talking to two children until you explicitly told us it was an AI.

So, one of the problems I have with this story is the cartoonish amounts of sci-fi, like this line — “Oh, tow-cables are anchored and fission drive is prepped. Pulse drive is bringing us to towing distance.” It feels like you’re just peppering in sci-fi-ish words throughout your prose, but the words don’t really mean anything and they detract from the realism that you’d hope to get from a good piece of sci-fi — the whole thing reads like a bad anime. I mean, the prose isn’t bad; it certainly has voice and it is clear enough, it just doesn’t really work for me in a lot of places because of that.

Your characters are also pretty flat. Alecta’s character doesn’t really go anywhere; there’s no sense of danger when Alecta invades the other ship. You allude to some past conflict with the “They’d only ever missed once” line, but you don’t develop that at all. I’m looking for anything at all that would give Alecta a second dimension, but sadly there isn’t much here.

I think the main problem is that you’re trying to do too much. With 1400 words, it’s hard to write a fully contained story like this. Cut it down to a single scene, pack all of your characters into a room and push them somewhere truly difficult, and I think this story would go places. You definitely write good enough words to make the setting here interesting.

The Resurrection Men

The burlap sack imagery is very weird to me, this seems like a very odd way to muffle your fall. How did the burlap sacks get there in the first place?

Cantilevered?? I have no idea what this word means I had to look it up maybe I am just bad at english.

“Bell ducked his head and pressed on, but Clay slowed the pace with each step until they reached the cart.” This is confusing considering they are both carrying a corpse, how can one of them press on when the one in front is slowing down? — we need more spatial awareness here for this to work (i.e. keep making it clear who is in front, it’s easy to lose track)

“So that’s it, Mister Bell? Shall we turn the cart around so that fuddled priest can administer last rites? Maybe he hasn’t finished that bottle of whisky.” does not work at all next to “I’m not ready to die, Silas.” — give me trembling fear or give me some kind of witty acceptance of death but they don’t work together well I don’t think, it’s a weird tonal shift from one to the other.

Okay, who the heck is Ethan? The “I know. Ethan” makes it sound like they’re referring to a third party. “I know, Ethan”, makes it clear that he is referring back to who he is talking to. There are just little things like this that you can add to this piece that would make everything a lot clearer for me.

“Until today, Silas Bell considered Ethan Clay a barely-tolerated colleague, maybe a rival.” I thought this was a student-teacher vibe? Bell doesn’t have his certificate, how are they colleagues?

note: i love how the Scrubs prompt got turned into an 1800’s grave digging story.

The Job

Opening okay so far…

“I assume you want something from me. If you won't be direct with it, you can at least do me the service of coming in so I can continue my work.” doesn't sound like a real line a real human would say I think

“Jameson turned around and stormed his way back inside” watch out for “turned around”s — you can usually completely cut them and the meaning will stay the same

“The woman returned his smile with a surprisingly genuine one” don’t do this don’t do “surprisingly” as an adjective why surprisingly and what about him expects it not to be genuine??

“His eyes watered and his throat burned. He retched and turned back out of the room.” from a room of smoke and whiskey? like i get wha you’re trying to do here with him being a recluse and not used to this all but this isn’t v believable. Nobody’s throat burns after they enter a bar where people are drinking whiskeys.

What is taboo about shaking hands in this society? That was an odd interaction. Even an elite murderer dude should be able to shake someones hand I think.

Plot doesn’t really go anywhere. There are the underpinnings of something interesting here, but there’s too much stifled dialogue and prose that’s constantly making me ask “why?”, also there’s not much nuance here and even though you develop Jameson’s character you don’t do anything with that development and then he just goes on and accepts the job anyway. Why? We get the motivation for Jameson when Michael says that Jameson would enjoy getting out and meeting people, but gently caress a character telling us what our protag needs — we need to see Jameson’s own actions hint to us that he needs to get out of the cabin.

also with a prompt like "Murders most foul. Mysteries most enticing. And a master sleuth whose brilliance is equaled only by his facial hair.” and there not being anything about a detective and only one mention of a mustache i am a lil disappointed.


Holy poo poo at least proofread your first line jesus christ.

Okay, doesny is a vernacular I guess?? I'm having a huge amount of trouble imagining what that word would sound like.

“gawking at bits of paper that some dead Italian fucks jizzed on like we don’t have a loving job to do.” this is quite the line in the comedically bad kind of sense, definitely not in the comedically good kind of sense.

Unclear who’s talking in your third paragraph

“she’d be sitting in DiCaprio’s office loving frowning” okay I kind of like this joke.

"Look, I know what you’re about to suggest, and I don’t know how you could be so astronomically loving stupid. That case is made of bulletproof glass, and there’s literally no way for us to remove the painting without superpowers or whatever. It’s probably been tried hundreds of times before without any success” — There is zero vernacular in this line. You have to at least keep consistent (but probably be consistently not using vernacular because yours is p bad).

“He quivers like I had actually threatened to make him go in Seine, and suddenly I die inside because I came up with that horrible pun.” this is bad. don’t call out attention to your puns. this pun doesn’t even work if you pronounce Seine properly.

The character coming up with newer and newer ways to say jizz-painting is, I don’t know, it’s working on some kind of level for me because at least it adds color, but it’s also just kind of weird.

“gently caress

….around" Why the paragraph break?? There is no reason for one to be here.

“Went there for a job once and I ended up in this shithole outside Ho Chi Minh for five years. The loving guards beat me every day until I ended up having to fight back, and when I did I ended up in this loving disgusting solitary confinement. I’m amazed that I never ended up sick, because the doctors are brutal there, and…” This is a very odd moment for him to spill out his guts like this. I get that there’s trouble in his past, you need to come up with a more natural way to bring that out.

This confessioning and the emotional outpours about his past and his dillemas don’t really work— it needs to be much subtler. I appreciate that you are trying to develop his character though.

this ending makes no sense and “man jumps after his dropped phone” is like the worst way to describe a suicide, the suicide in itself is so bizarre because they’re just the scene before talking about loving off to austria and jesus what even happens this story it’s all very muddled.

I wanted to like this story. There is color to it — you just need to work on the delivery and give us a coherent plot line that makes sense. As it stands it’ s way too muddled.

the missing ingredient

“smiled awkwardly.” maybe you can give me a stronger description here, there are way too many “smiled <adverb>”s this week.

“That was before, now think of it as reality TV show. So basically not real at all, I will be doing more of a performance.” This line is awkward.

I really dig where this is going so far though, good exposition, and you have a clear scene going which is more than most of the previous entries had.

Ok, this story is good up until that ending — that fade to black poo poo is some poo poo I don’t like. I wanted to see something more profound come out of this other than “show ended up being good”. I wanted something that’d really push Wayne’s character even further — you sold me with the beginning and gave me a character that’s likable and that I wanted to root for, and you gave him an interesting dilemma (selling out to save the show he loves), now I need you to hit a home run and push the conflict even further — you have the framework here to extract something fresh and nuanced from this character, but just an “oh and all was good at the end.” isn’t anything that is going to stick with the readers. It’d be a challenge with only 1400 words but I believe in you my dude.

Small Dog

“beside me where Kath no longer was. It had more to do with the UFO outside my house” …you did a really good job of twisting the cliche (empty spot where Kath was) into something interesting (also, the words Joan of Bark should get any reader hooked, and gently caress you if it didn’t —what’s that? you didn’t like it because you’re not a “dog person” or some poo poo? well gently caress you, you’re trash, you’re garbage you hear me??)

These are some good images my dude.

“Good to know the rules can be broken under certain circumstances, Dad.” I like this line. This is a good line.

“Just because I’m busy saving Joan from aliens doesn’t mean you can stay up late, by the way,” Okay this line is a little bit too long for a man literally balancing on the saucer portion of a ufo. Slightly pulled me out of the story.

The wacky dialogue from the aliens is cool and all but maybe it doesn’t really make sense while the dude is standing there after literally just stumbling into the room with them? Also, it feels a little too exposition-y, like I can feel the author trying to shove plot in through them talking. Takes me out of the story a little.

“I’ll go you.” typo?? — i guess not, it’s a lil awkward but maybe in a charming way

The whole premise of aliens that are this easily defeat-able and that are just allowed to roam around the suburbs w/o military intervention is a little unbelievable — i’m assuming that the UFOs are a known thing in this world because the man just kind of shrugs off the UFO w/o any shock or fear at what he’s seeing. The writing is okay at least, and you hooked me with the character at the beginning, but the plot and you not really doing anything with the character means it doesn’t do much for me. If you made the ending sad instead of happy, or threw him into a bit stronger of a dilemma, then maybe the piece would have been a little stronger.


3rd paragraph -- we don't need this much dialogue to get your point across. It's a little weird when a character just goes off and starts talking for four or five sentences without being interrupted, unless what they're talking about is super important, but the description here isn't.

And the paragraph after, you can cut the "God, she could hear the eye-roll in that sentence.", there are better ways to show Naomi being annoyed at her student. Try and create tension through their actions and their dialogue, not through in-thought exposition.

"All that gained her was some bruised knuckles." is an awkward way to end that segment. Idk, I'd like you to build the protag up a bit more before you send them into a rage like that. Dramatic moments like this with no real build up are also weird to me.

From here, the story doesn't really go anywhere. She goes to a bar, and then goes home to her partner, but it's hard for me to care because there isn't any kind of central conflict here. She's clearly in a bad mental state, but you need to do something with that characterization or else it's not effective. Her going home and getting a "Let's talk" from her partner isn't compelling enough on its own.


I like the scene and imagery you have going at the start of this. The mob is also described pretty well and I can feel the tension as they’re running towards this thing.

I don’t know if you need that much exposition though. 1400 words isn’t a lot — you can lose that big paragraph explaining the Othuum and we would still have a pretty good understanding of what’s going on here.

The writing here is good. I liked most of what you brought to the table here, except your main character. Even with the alien larva analogy, she felt flat, and we didn’t get anything profound out of her or her situation. Give us more scene and less exposition and you’d have the room to let her character breathe a little.

The Bride-to-Be

The writing here is good. It is competently told. I just don’t like the story that much and the characters feel like cliches. You give us a head-strong warrior, and her timid brother who overcomes his fear to confront an evil. Both character types have been done to death, and you don’t do anything particularly interesting with them to break the mold.

I don't think I'm a good enough writer to give you any suggestions at a structural level. I just want to see something with a lil more depth here, that’s all.

Home Office

“screamed an alarm at him” doesn’t really work for me. You describe things throughout the piece in ways that feel a little off. It might be helpful to say things out loud, and if it doesn’t feel you’re talking like a real human would, then rework it until it does. Idk though, I am a poo poo writer too, the talk aloud thing is just a suggestion that popped into my head don’t quote me on its efficacy.

Besides the muddled descriptions, which really bring down this piece, it shares the same quality that all of the other DMs have — it doesn’t go anywhere. You can put me inside someone’s head and you can tell me how bad of a time they’re having with something, but unless you do something with it then it’s lost on us and we'll forget about it. Something more profound needs to happen here — as the others mentioned, it’s all very mundane and uninteresting.

One Too Many

"Man goes to a bar and drinks away his sorrows" is a time-honored cliche that doesn’t do anything for me here. Idk, my theory is that if you’re going to do a cliche, you have to do the small details in that cliche supremely well. I have to read your first sentence and go “woah, that sure was a good sentence!” And then every sentence has to be like that. I’ll accept your cliche then and only then.

The writing here is okay, having a mindless mob frothing and trying to enter a burning building might be a little unrealistic for me, but I don’t have too much of a problem with your prose. There just isn’t enough new here. I’ve seen the plot in this story a thousand times over, and this time around it isn’t interesting enough to keep my attention.

May contain:

The writing here is good and powerful. The story and the premise are a little harder to believe, though. I get that stoner kids make stupid decisions, but drinking casually when you have a baby is taking it to cartoonish levels of characterization. This would have HMed for sure if there was a little more to your protag.

Mr. Blood

Writing five words for an email, hitting send, and then realizing you forgot to sign it, doesn’t sound like something that would happen. Feeling a little regretful for not including one? Sure. Writing five words and going “oh poo poo, wow, I was so absorbed in those five words that I completely forgot to sign my email, whoops!” I don’t believe as much.

I’m harping on that because the story is filled with these unbelievable-isms, like the abandoned building collapsing the second he leaves. And his hunky dory “oh, how quaint!” attitude towards all of it is taking me out of the character. In a character-focused week, I want real, believable protagonists. Even if this is a farce (which, honestly, does work pretty well despite my comments), I’d like to see something a little more human out of Harold.

The Outlaw Josey Graves

There are little moments of character to this that I think propel it above the rest of the stories. Stuff like the second “Yeah, stupid.”, where he’s one-upping his uncle and taking his car. I really liked that.

It has a beginning, a middle, an end, and you develop your character throughout all of it. I thought the plot might have been a little simplistic — nothing out of the ordinary happened, but that’s okay I guess because you still made it work.

A Little Medicine

I really like the atmosphere in this piece. I don’t have too many suggestions — I wish you dropped your first paragraph. It’s a little dramatic, and we can kind of infer it anyway from her interaction with the doctor. I’d always prefer subtlety as long as it’s pulled off well.

The ending is also a little head scratching. It’s hard to believe someone would ask their own children to help them commit suicide, even if his disability and how they have to take care of him is obviously weighing down his conscious.

Overall, this story does a lot of things well and I liked it.

It’s Not Something You Can Leave Behind

I like the atmosphere in this piece as well. I also like both of the characters. I wish you had told us the entire team died, because it really seems like its just his brother, and the entire team coming out is a little confusing at first. It would also help explain why they cancelled the game when the accident happened 6 weeks ago. If one person died, I mean I guess they could cancel the season, but if it’s clear the entire team died, then sure yeah I’ll believe it no problem.

Overall one of the strongest entries this week.

Nitpick: no school team in the history of ever is going to be called the “Razorblades”. That detail alone took me out of the story a bit.

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


GenJoe posted:

some dang fine crits


No Gravitas
Jun 12, 2013

by FactsAreUseless
I committed words! So sorry!

Prompt: Cards!

Dispeller's Capsule (Used the flavour text)
Thunder Dragon (Not used)
Slipstream Eel (Used the flavour text)


Two peas in a pod -- 1548 words

The forecast said that it would be a beautiful April day. Nature herself seemed to concur with that. The birds were signing in the anticipation of the warm summer days that were soon to come all over the northern hemisphere. Flowers were in full bloom and the last remnants of snow have already melted away. Truly a great day to be Russian. Or Japanese, of course.

The other countries also had received a good forecast. Anyone who that morning heard the weather report for central Germany was firmly rooted in the belief that the whole day is going to be sunny. The report listed the high temperature as ten degrees, with the low just a smidge above freezing. To sum it all up: The most perfect weather for backyard vegetable gardens or for a sunny stroll after a most dreary winter.

Sadly, unlike for the Russonese, the day was going to be substantially less beautiful than predicted for anyone who, through no fault of their own, just happened to be a German citizen residing in Berlin. The actual weather was going to be quite different from a nice day. To give the Berlin meteorologists credit, it was not their fault. Some things are quite hard, if not impossible, to predict.

To be fair, the forecast at least got what would turn out to be the low exactly right. Sadly, the high would later turn out to be off by a couple million degrees. The sun would be temporarily blotted out by a mushroom cloud, ruining the best part of the afternoon. Had he managed to stay alive through the day's ordeals, the chief climatologist of the Third Reich would have protested that neither the radiation levels nor the fallout have anything to do with weather and are thus not the concern of the climate service.

All this horrible meteorological disturbance was caused by the actions of two brave volunteers. One was strongly Russian. The other was honourably Japanese. The Russian was fifty-five and, having seen everything, humourless and rigid. The Japanese was just nineteen and, on account of his youth, naive and full of life.

The two did not know each other's names. They shared enough languages between the two of them to understand each other, but it did not make for nice conversation. It was choppy and awkward. The two did not get along. The Japanese thought that the Russian smelled of cabbage soup. The Russian thought that the Japanese was an idiot.

Their airship, the "Thunder", was a rocket-propelled two-seater. With it being of Japanese design, it was no surprise that the trip was meant to be strictly one-way. The war was not going well and extreme measures were required.

Launch time came in the early morning. The capsule lifted off, carrying underneath itself a giant bomb which resembled an egg. The bodies and minds of the two men inside were pushed into the sky by the rocket thrusters, but their hearts remained on the ground.


"I like the symmetry of this project", The Japanese broke the uneasy silence. Having failed to obtain a response, he continued. "You know, the bomb destroys everything down below and also itself, right?"

"And us", The Russian grunted.

"Yup! We wouldn't reach the target otherwise. If this doesn't work then both of our counties are done. Cheer up, we'll die for a good cause!"

"Is your life truly worth only that much to you? You are so content to die, just like that?"

"I'll be reborn after my death. Countless glories will be given to me after my passing. You should rejoice too. You'll be reborn as well."

"How Buddhist of you! I am not so sure about that whole rebirth business. I do not believe in ghosts."

"It's from the kabbalah. Jewish."

"All religions are the same to me. Same promises, no results."

"This one will have results!"

The silence continued. The machines hummed uneasily. Seven minutes to the target.

"Why did you sign up for this?", the Japanese inquired.

"What do you care?", the Russian scowled.

"I'm curious, eh? If not for glory and honour, then what?"

"Mind your own business."

"Look, you don't believe in this whole rebirth thingy. What's the matter? We die, poof! No one knows anything!"

The Russian pondered for a moment. He signed. Finally, he spoke.

"Her name is Natasha."

"Oh! A girl!"

"Yes. A girl. Most beautiful. Most kind. She was sweet to me."

"So, what's the problem? You find someone cute and sign up for a suicide one-way mission to kill millions? Doesn't add up! You a patriot of some kind? Wanna die so she can have a country and a life?"

"No. She liked me, but... I was too old. She is barely twenty."

"Ah. And you are--"


"You are well preserved! You don't look a hair over fifty!", the Japanese said, making a point not to look directly at the Russian's bald head.

Five minutes to the target.

"I think I get you. One option is that you croak from this run and don't have to worry about the skirt."

The Russian nodded, but said nothing.

"The other option is that you are reborn and get a second stab at the chick in your next life. You can't lose! Brilliant!"

"I do not believe in rebirth", The Russian said and gave the Japanese a condescending smile.

Four minutes to the target. A buzzer rang out in the capsule. The two men looked at the button located in the middle of their airship. Someone would have to press it.

"So...", began the Japanese.

"What?", barked the Russian.

"Who gets to press the button?"

"Your people made the capsule. You know the procedures of honourable dying better than I do."

"But the bomb is more Russian than Stalin himself. You do it."

Silence. Three minutes to the target.

"How do we decide?", the Japanese asked.

The Russian grunted. It was hot. His skin was starting to itch and tingle. No shielding on the bomb meant an extra 200 kilometres of reach and it's not like the men were meant to survive the mission anyway.

"We need to decide", the Japanese insisted.

"Then it is decided. You do it."

"No, you should do it."

"Why are you putting such a half-hearted effort into this?", the Russian asked only to realize what he had just said.

"I'm a heartless bastard, remember?", The Japanese said smiling wide.

"Are you serious?", The Russian asked incredulously.

"Don't lose heart, comrade! You push the button!"

Two minutes to the target.

"You are disgusting. Is everyone in Japan such an idiot? A joke contest? Now? Are you out of your loving mind?"

"You need to be more light-hearted. As good of a way to decide as any!"

"You moron. How can you be like this? Be serious!"

The Japanese just smiled, not replying. The game was on and there was no stopping it now. The Russian knew that the Japanese had a point, a decision needed to be made and this was a way to arrive at a decision. They both would be gone in just a couple of minutes. What would one moment of levity change at this point? Dark humour never gets old.

"With a heavy heart, I have to tell you that I will not play this game", the Russian started.

"You're breaking my heart."

One minute to the target.

"Maybe that is because my heart is not into a joke contest as we are about to kill a whole city?"

"And yet you play along, you big oaf with a soft heart!"

"I play along because I have a heart of gold and I really do not want to press the button."

"It's not that you have a heart of gold, you're just chicken-hearted!"

The Russian was stuck. It was his turn to reply and he was out of ideas. The buzzer rang again. Target. They were in position. It was time.

The Russian cursed, signed and pressed the button. Everything happened.

The rocket engine cut out. The explosive charges were armed. The bomb timer started counting down. The Japanese started screaming and pissed himself. The Russian rolled his eyes. The heart-lung machine that kept the men alive turned off. The capsule rattled.

And then it plunged downward

ever so slowly

then quicker









The kabbalistic symbols glowed brightly on the walls of the rebirth room.

The Russian clumsily climbed out of his vat. He desperately wanted to throw up. The headache was bad enough, but the stench of amniotic fluid that still coated his skin was a bit much even for him.

Next to him the Japanese was still being formed in his vat. Fresh tissues were rapidly appearing around his heart that he had left there just a day before.

A rabbi entered the birthing chamber. After glancing at the progress within the Japanese man's vat, he queried the Russian about how has the journey treated him.

The Russian went to scratch his head. His young hand found a sea of jet black hair. He smiled.

"It's a fine way to travel, if you don't mind the smell", he said, forgetting for a moment about the nuclear fires of Berlin that he started.

Oct 30, 2003

No Gravitas posted:

I committed words! So sorry!

Prefacing your story is likely to infuriate your judge. If infuriated is the appropriate mental state for reading your stories, feel free to go ahead and continue preface them in the future.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


GenJoe posted:

hi here are ur Week 234 Crits

Thank you!

Mar 4, 2013

Well, take this with a grain of salt, but
Many thanks for the crits from Week 234.

Also, I'm in. Give me my cards.

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.

Twiggymouse posted:

Many thanks for the crits from Week 234.

Also, I'm in. Give me my cards.

Prey's Vengeance
Cradle of Vitality
Wolfhunter's Quivver

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Just in case people missed it, or are looking for more ways/places to post about writing:

Muffin's new daily prompt thread!

The new fiction advice thread!

February Long Walk!!

Sep 2, 2016

I've got to get IN on this prompt!

Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.

llamaguccii posted:

I've got to get IN on this prompt!

Hematite Golem
Pact of Negation
River Merfolk

Feb 25, 2014

llamaguccii posted:

I've got to get IN on this prompt!


Apr 21, 2010

Deceitful and black-hearted, perhaps we are. But we would never go against the Code. Well, perhaps for good reasons. But mostly never.
Signups are now closed.

I am happy because everyone is apparently very happy with their prompts and so won't fail. (I believe in you all.) But I am also sad because no extra crits of last week got done.

Who knows what other emotions I will feel when I read all of your stories?

Oct 30, 2016

Change 987 words

As soon as we got out of the cab, Thomas was already fiddling with his GoPro camera and its unwieldy chest strap. I waited on the sidewalk with a feeling that this entire trip was a mistake. We were supposed to be a pair of old friends seeing the sights, but though I kept my distance, I could tell people were pegging us as a couple. Thomas had not noticed. He was busy filming the neon lights for Susan, though I was sure she would have liked to see her fiancé’s face in the video, too.

He had joked that they might get married in Vegas. I knew Susan had a little courthouse picked out back in Corpus Christi, and that I’d be there in four months’ time. (I had crumbled the invitation into a ball, but carried it with me).
After the wedding, there’d be a reception behind the white picket fence in Susan's rose garden, where everyone would ignore that it was doomed by the Texas heat to wilt each summer. I had been house-sitting for them before; I knew how they lived.

I knew where I wanted to go. The nearest casino was a tourist attraction in itself, all the signs lit up to guide me in. Servers sauntered around in feathers and rhinestone bras, impossible for me to ignore as I went down between the rows of lit-up distractions.

Thomas came close to make himself heard above the music, a familiar, disdainful crease forming between his eyebrows. "How can anyone spend money on these? They just suck people dry. " He made a sweeping gesture towards the one-armed bandits. Towards the seated men and women. "Look at 'em. No life in their eyes - zombies spending all that money on nothin'-"

"Afraid of being cleaned out?”

He didn’t return my jab, choosing instead to glare.

"Sorry, sorry,” I said. “I’m just going to go over there real quick, ok? Even if you don’t indulge, I want to try…”

Thomas nodded, and as I headed off I wondered what he'd do. He wouldn’t admire the waiters, God no, too faithful for that. Maybe he’d head for the blackjack table - a thinking man's game, according to him. The last I saw before the crowd separated us was a security guard giving him trouble about the camera.

Gold coins and poker chips spilled onto the floor from the pockets of drunken guests and the ever-present slots. I could focus on rows of 7's and cherries lining up, symmetrical patterns of cartoon-characters and the endless high-pitched pings of machines all around me, even if I did, occasionally, see a glimpse of a woman's auburn hair and think of Susan.

Last time I came over for a friendly visit, I was too early. I had seen her coming out of the shower, drying her hair with a towel. She smiled at me.
Officially, I only ever came to see Thomas, but soon any visit felt pointless if she was not in the room.

At some point I abandoned the slot machine for the bar, only to return again later with the taste of alcohol burning in my mouth.

Soon, I lost track of time and Thomas, wanted it no other way.

People around me appeared like spirits of the air, bellowing out poker terms and numbers. Light and see-through clothing danced on fake air-condition breezes or moved along in drafts drawn by those rushing from one time-waster to another. I didn't keep track of wins and losses. I counted cards I'd have to send to wish Susan and Thomas happiness as married folks, polite invitations I would resent, and birthdays that wouldn’t ever be the same as back in our college days. I got all the cocktails that I would have gotten in those future parties in the span of this one evening. And I reached out and laid my hand on the bare upper thigh of the girl who got me the drinks. Though I got some stares from the dealer at my table, arms crossed like a cartoon djinn, I got away with it.

- Then I was dragged from the deep water of my self-pity by Thomas' hand around my wrist. He always used the same low tone with me when I was drunk. "Time to go."

I felt like the red rope sectioning off the VIP-area would wrap around my legs and pull me back. Instead, I was brought rudely into the night. The air was cold, and a smell of chlorine emanated from a gigantic circular fountain right in front of us. It was quiet for now, but Thomas told me that were light-shows here every thirty minutes. People were throwing coins.

"Look," I said. "It's like it’s a... whatchamacallit. A whishing well."

I had nothing to throw in and could only stare. All my coins were swallowed up by the casino.

A moment later, Thomas had his wallet out and the rifled edges of a heavy coin dug into my palm.

“You could wish me and Susan luck," he suggested.

I waited for my balance to return, watching the water. I thought about throwing the coin into Thomas’ face, or throwing him into the fountain. Or maybe the GoPro - but those things, he had explained, can withstand everything. I thought about diving into the fountain myself for no reason at all, except that my feet really hurt in these high heels and people do dumb poo poo in Vegas. People like me, at least, and not like Thomas who was filming even now. Susan’s black pupil stared from the lens of his camera. Turning to the fountain, I thought about her, in her bathrobe, rising like Venus from this stagnant pool.

My were chances so infinitely small that there was no reason to gamble here.

And so I threw the coin in, like any good girl friend would.

Mar 4, 2013

Well, take this with a grain of salt, but

Week 236
658 Words

You Can’t Learn That On YouTube

Jason lived for this. Being alone in the woods, away from the city, with nothing but a bit of wood and cord and a dozen razor tipped arrows to keep him company. He kept his quiver at his hip because he’d seen some guy on YouTube doing some pretty cool poo poo that way, but he kept bumping his elbow against it as he moved through the undergrowth. He grumbled to himself and shifted the heavy leather wrapped tube again. He took a swig of Gatorade. If Bear Grylls could kick the poo poo out of nature, so could he.

He moved through the undergrowth, stepping just like the video had shown, keeping his eyes on the ground, making sure he didn’t accidentally step on a patch of dry leaves or a twig like in a bad movie, and when he looked back up he was no longer alone.

Jason froze in his tracks. He’d been careful, like the video told him, so the boar hadn’t seen him. He nocked an arrow to his bow. The boar grunted. Jason forced his hands to stay steady. It’s just a pig, it’s not like it could do anything to him. He brought the bow up and sighted it like the guy in the video. He breathed out slow and silent. He was ready for this. He’d watched the videos, practiced in his backyard, got all the gear, and made it out to the woods on his own; he could take the shot just as easily.

He drew back the bow and loosed the arrow. The videos hadn’t said anything about what to do if you missed.

The boar found Jason and squealed. Jason’s hands locked up. The boar turned into a blur of brown fur and then there was something curved and hard where it should have been flat and soft. Jason squealed.

What little bit of survival instinct hadn’t been dulled by the hours of LCD and plasma screens kicked into action. The K-Bar that he’d bought online flew into his hand and came down on the boar, striking the base of the neck. His hands grew damp and sticky, but the knife came down, again and again. Finally, the boar stopped moving. It whimpered and spat out a last wheeze of pink before slumping over, pulling the deep red tusk out with it.

Jason stared at the boar, his breath hot and heavy. Suddenly, his side erupted in pain and he doubled over, gasping. He clutched his side, feeling the wet and the stick, and screamed through grit teeth. Adrenaline forced him to his feet and he stumbled through the woods.

He pushed through the trees and burst out into a clearing. A river ran along one side of it, and the leaves had grown into dew cups. He took one to his lips and drank the sweetest water he’d ever known. The pain at his side wasn’t going anywhere, but he felt like he could focus, again.

He lifted his shirt. The water and Gatorade mixed with bile and blood and found their way onto the ground. He grabbed another dew cup and poured the water over the wound. At least he could see it, now. The wound wasn’t large, but it wouldn’t stop bleeding, and it wasn’t the thin bright red blood from the movies. He took the leaf and shoved it against the wound, then dug in his pockets for the little roll of tape he’d brought (At least something from the videos wasn’t worthless) and started taping the leaf to his side, pulling the tape as tight as he could.

When he was pretty sure it wasn’t going anywhere, he put his shirt down and stood back up. Or tried to. His head weighed a ton, his knees buckled, and he fell to the floor. For a moment, the whole world was a green blur. But it was peaceful and warm. And he was so cold.

Apr 30, 2006

sparksbloom fucked around with this message at 04:33 on Nov 27, 2017

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Djeser fucked around with this message at 21:22 on Dec 28, 2017

Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

oh yeah, and these are my dumb cards from the game for garbage babies

Feb 25, 2014
Inexorable Tide
Volcanic Awakening
Dolmen Gate

489 words

Sand Caught in the Laughs


flerp fucked around with this message at 06:28 on Mar 14, 2017

Dec 8, 2016

Concrete Divide
Word Count: 3875


The rain played a staccato tune on the concrete playground as Kieran Molloy leaped from the third schoolhouse step into a puddle. Boyish excitement coursed through him, dispelling any worry of a cuffed ear for coming home with sodden hems. He broke into a run immediately upon finding his balance, not willing to miss a moment. Mick Halloran had gotten a football as a birthday present, and he’d brought it to school with him. A football! Kieran had often dreamed of being the hero who brought the ball to school, an unassailable status symbol. Maybe if his dad found a job before Christmas, he could ask for one.

Kieran almost skipped towards the crowd surrounding Mick and the glorious object he held in his hands. Mick wasn’t a good football player, but as the provider of the ball, he got to pick a team. Luckily, Kieran and Mick had been pals forever, growing up next door to each other. Mick had promised Kieran he could pick the other team. It wasn’t the royal position all boys craved, but it was more than nothing.

Kieran quickly counted the group. Dismay soaked into him like the falling rain as he realized they had an odd number. Kieran swung his head around hopefully, checking to see if somehow he hadn’t been the last one to make it to the playground. With nothing forthcoming, Kieran realized they were either going to be playing with uneven teams or playing with a substitute. The last two times they’d played with an odd number, it had ended in a fight, and neither boy brought their ball in anymore.

“Ho Mick,” Kieran called. “Someone missing?”

“Aye, Frank’s got a bad dose of something,” Mick responded. “We’re one short.”

Kieran looked around the playground, trying to figure out a plan. If they had the ball taken away, Mick wouldn’t be allowed to bring it to school anymore. An idea formed, as he saw one of the few boys not part of the crowd sitting in the nearby shed to shelter from the rain. “Hey Mick, what about Billy?”

Mick looked over in alarm. “You mad, Kieran? He’s a soup taker!”

A couple of the other boys in the crowd murmured in agreement. Billy Morgan was one of the only Protestants among the school pupils. He had joined the school at the start of the year when his father, a Royal Ulster Constabulary recruit, was stationed in Belfast The teachers assigned seats based on surnames, so Kieran had to sit beside him, leading to occasional shared words. Nobody liked Billy, but beyond his father’s profession and his denomination, Kieran had little bad to say about him.

“Ah, he’s all right enough, Mick,” Kieran said, trying to mollify his friend. “Anyway, it’s just for today, since Frank’s not here. We can have even teams.”

Obvious discontent grew among the crowd at the thought of playing with a proddy, but everyone looked to Mick as he stared at Billy, pondering. Mick brought the ball, so he had the final decision.

“All right then, Kieran,” Mick finally declared after a few moments. “Go get him. You’ve got to take him on your team, though.”

Kieran nodded, accepting the fair compromise. Not wanting to hold the game up any longer, he sprinted over, waving at Billy. “Ho, Billy. Want a game of football?”

Billy looked up, startled and maybe a little afraid. He looked around as if expecting to be jumped. He had no reason to trust anyone in the school. “Me?”

“Aye. We’re one short, so we need you for fair teams.”

Billy looked at the crowd. There were at least two of them there who had hit him before, and he tensed to run away. Kieran gave him a smile, trying to calm him. “Come on, Billy, Mick told me to ask you. I already said I’d take you on my team if you play.”

Billy considered. Being a Protestant in a crowd of Catholics was rough, but the boy with the ball inviting you in was more important. Billy didn’t hold out much hope of it lasting, but for one day, it could be fun. A nod confirmed his assent, and he stood, running with Kieran towards the crowd.

“You any good, Billy?” Kieran asked. If he had to have Billy on his team, maybe he’d be lucky and the boy could play decently.

“I’m not bad,” Billy responded with a smile. “I used to play at my old school all the time.”

Kieran smiled back, ignoring the rain as it started to come down harder. Football was a game for all weather, and all people. Billy Morgan may be a Protestant, but he’d always seemed nice. If he could play football too, maybe he’d become a friend.



“Wow, Billy, I can’t believe you have a record player at home,” Kieran said with a laugh in his voice. What a start to summer holidays. All afternoon, he’d played football with Mick, Billy, and other friends. Afterwards, Mrs. Morgan had made sandwiches for them all and let them listen to music. Mick, walking beside them, sang “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” quietly, though audibly enough for both Billy and Kieran to hear how bad a singer he was.

“My dad got it at Christmas,” Billy responded with pride in his voice. “He bought me Sergeant Pepper for my birthday.”

Billy had offered to walk Kieran and Mick part of the way home after being told to pick up a replacement loaf of bread. The three had become inseparable at school, but Billy had only gained consent this summer to head into the surrounding Catholic areas to meet his friends outside of school. It had taken some persuading on Kieran’s part, but he had cajoled his parents into letting him go to the Shankhill area as a show of solidarity. Mick hadn’t mentioned any trouble on his end. His Uncle worked in a Protestant area with no issue, so he no doubt had it easier.

“It’s a deadly record,” Mick said, still full of enthusiasm. “I wish they’d stop letting Ringo sing, though. He’s brutal.”

“He’s a better singer than you are, Mick. Probably a better football player, too,” Kieran barbed back at his friend, prompting Billy into gales of laughter as Mick threw a mock punch Kieran’s way.

“Mind who you’re slagging, chancer, or you’ll not be playing next time.” Mick’s grin took any sting out of the threat, and Kieran made to say something else. Before he could, Billy dug him in the ribs and nodded forwards.

The sight of the Driscoll brothers immediately sobered the mood. Robert and his younger brother Sean were two people no catholic boy wanted to see. Some said they were UDF volunteers, like their father. Kieran and Mick started crossing the street, hoping they had not yet been marked by the two. Billy followed after them, glancing furtively in the direction of the Driscolls. A dismayed sigh from Billy alerted his friends that their efforts to avoid the two had failed, as first Robert, then Sean, came into view in front of them.

“Ho, Billy,” called Robert, sneering. “What you doing cutting about with these taig bastards?”

Kieran tried to keep moving, but Sean sidestepped in front of him. Mick, meanwhile, held his arm up in a pacifying gesture. ”Lads, we’re not looking for trouble…”

“Shouldn’t be on Shankhill, then,” Sean cut him off as he planted a slap on Kieran’s head. “Fenian bastards like you two should stay in your loving kennels.”

Kieran backed up, trying to get himself out of Sean’s reach. The Driscolls had age, size, and a nasty reputation in their favor. If it came to a fight, Billy might not help. Living where he did increased the chances of being caught alone by the Driscolls tenfold. Would he really decide two Catholic boys were worth calling down that type of retribution upon himself?

Sean stepped in, circling Kieran. Robert loomed over Mick to force the two back to back. Billy watched with anguished eyes as he tried to placate the two brothers. “Come on, they’re going home. They’re leaving, can’t you let it be?”

“Shut it, Morgan. Only thing worse than a taig is a taig-lover,” Robert growled. “Run along, and I’ll forget I saw you with this scum, just this once.”

Sean glanced away from Kieran long enough to give Billy a feral grin. Kieran, trapped, used the split-second to plant his knee into Sean’s groin and pushed him away. Sean’s yell of pain surprised Robert, catching his attention. Mick threw a punch, catching Robert on the cheekbone. Kieran spun as the elder Driscoll brother staggered, shouldering him in the chest and knocking him off balance.

“Leg it!” Mick yelled, and the three hared down the street. The shouts and footsteps behind them were loud and close, but they just had to stay far enough ahead of the two to make it into Catholic territory. One yell near a pub would draw enough attention to make sure the Driscolls backed off.

Kieran, in the lead, turned the corner, and ended up on his back. He panicked as his eyes rose to take in the man he’d bumped into, and tried to scramble away while Mick yelped in surprise. The only thing worse than running into the Driscolls on Shankhill was running into an officer of the RUC. Police uniforms did nothing to inspire trust in Catholics these days.

The biggest reaction came from Billy, as he yelled, “Da!” loud enough for the hotly pursuing Driscolls to hear. Kieran felt a wave of relief, recognition dawning.

The pursuers pulled up, looking at Constable Scott Morgan. They became very aware of the hand upon his holstered sidearm and the unpleasant look on his face.

“Well now. Here’s Robert and Sean Driscoll, chasing some boys from Springfield Road. Let me guess, youthful hijinks? Good craic?” Constable Morgan’s growl made it clear he wasn’t going to believe a word. Robert and Sean, for their part, stepped away quietly.

“No trouble here, Constable,” Robert muttered. “We’re leaving.”

“Aye, do that. If I catch you anywhere near my boy and his pals, I’m going to forget who your da is.”

Sean threw a sneer at the constable, and Robert drew a thumb across his own throat while staring at Mick. Constable Morgan’s grip on his firearm tightened noticeably enough that the Driscolls backed away with no other words. Morgan watched them go, then gave Kieran and Mick a glance.

“You two boys going to be all right getting home?”

Mick nodded as he helped Kieran back to his feet. “Aye sir, it’s not far.”

“On your way, then,” Constable Morgan told them. “I’ll see Billy back.”

Kieran felt a flash of anger. He understood Billy was the constable’s son, and the Driscolls would probably still be prowling nearby. His understanding, however, didn’t stop him feeling abandoned. He said nothing as Mick and Billy traded goodbyes, only managing to offer a terse nod before storming away, alone. Mick broke into a run to keep pace.

“Billy did nothing back there,” Kieran muttered at Mick when he finally caught up.

“What did you expect him to do, Kieran?” Mick replied. “He tried to get them to let us go, and his old fella helped us out.”

“No, Mick,” Kieran spat out angrily. “He helped his son, he wouldn’t have done a thing for us if we’d been alone. You know what the RUC’s like. Half of them are orangie dogs, and the other half turn a blind eye.”

Mick shook his head. He’d heard people talking like this all around the Springfield and Falls Road areas. The creeping paranoia within the Catholic communities in the aftermath of the civil rights protests grew more pervasive by the day. Kieran’s father was especially vocal, Mick knew. Billy, however, had never said a bad word about any Catholic.

“Come on, Kieran. Mr. Morgan isn't like that, and Billy's a mate.”

Kieran stopped in his tracks, staring Mick hard in the eye.

“Is he?”



“Get this bastard tipped over!” Aedan Molloy yelled, as he tried to lift the car in the middle of the street with the help of Kieran and half a dozen others. “We can’t let those pricks get the Shorlands up this road!”

Three days of rioting with no end in sight. Word had gotten around that the RUC had their Shorland armored cars near Divis Flats again. Browning machine guns ripping through thin walls, being answered by Molotov cocktails. Kieran’s father had taken it upon himself to create street blockades, with help from neighbors. Some houses on Springfied Road smoked, where unionist-thrown petrol bombs had smash windows the previous night.

Kieran had tried to go to the first march protesting the RUC’s actions in Derry, but his father put his foot down. When other teenagers Kieran’s age had thrown petrol bombs at an RUC station, kicking off the rioting, Kieran’s mother had forced him to stay inside. He was no member of the IRA’s Fianna youth wing, but that wouldn’t stop him being attacked as one. Now, though, the community needed every able hand. Kieran had helped his father build barricades all morning, blocking streets with abandoned cars and setting them aflame.

Mick sat on a nearby doorstep, staring at the ground. Supposedly, he’d come to help, though he had offered nothing beyond an expression of numb shock. Kieran couldn’t let that stand. The despair had to wait.

“Mick, get over here! We need a hand!” Kieran yelled. Nothing in Mick’s demeanor suggested he had heard.

Kieran’s father tapped him on the shoulder and gestured towards Mick. “Go see what’s wrong with him, boyo.”

Kieran glanced back at his dad, giving him a nod and stepping away from the car they were trying to lift. As he ran over, Mick didn’t raise his eyes in acknowledgement. A hand on his shoulder didn’t rouse him either, so Kieran did the only thing he could think of. The meaty sound of a slap was loud enough to make a couple of the other volunteers look their way. Mick finally raised his eyes, allowing Kieran to see the forming tears.

“What the hell’s the matter with you, Mick? We need you here!” Kieran’s shouted, frustration boiling over.

“Uncle Mark,” Mick murmured in a tone that sounded like it came from a thousand miles away.

“What about him?”

“Robert Driscoll loving shot him!” Mick shuddered as the tears fell. Aedan, having heard the declaration, ran to the doorstep. Sitting beside Mick, he put an arm around the boy’s shoulders and pulled his head into his chest. Kieran stepped backwards, eyes wide and mouth working soundlessly.

“Mick, son, where’s your Uncle?” Kieran heard the softness in his father’s voice, bringing to mind memories of the days when monsters lurked under the bed. Now they were in the street, and Dad was soothing them away the same way he always had.

“Hospital, my ma just got back from seeing him. She told me before I came here,” Mick looked up at Aedan, who absently wiped away a tear from Mick’s cheek. “Driscoll had a shotgun, he kneecapped him.”

It was too much. Kieran’s turned away from Mick, jaw set and eyes tight, running towards the stack of petrol bombs set up to fire the cars. He grabbed two and a matchbox, and felt a hand clamp down on his shoulder.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Aedan’s eyes were hard. Harder than Kieran had ever seen them.

“I’m done with the loving Driscolls. I know where they live.”

Another slapping sound. Kieran accounted himself a strong arm, but as always, his father’s was stronger.

“You mind your language with your father, boyo,” Aedan said, as he grabbed the petrol bombs from Kieran’s hands. “Get your mother. There’s women and children on their way to the outskirts.”

“But Da!” Kieran’s protests were cut off.

“Don’t you backtalk me, Kieran! Take your mother, get her out of here. See if you can take Mick and his ma back to the hospital to see Mark,” Aedan watched with compassion as Mick sobbed into his hands. “The boy’s no use here as he is.”

Kieran made to argue further, but his father’s eyes told him it would not be brooked. Nodding, Kieran turned towards Mick, helping him off the step. He put an arm around his friend’s shoulder and walked him away from the scene, watching over his shoulder as his father turned to direct the rest of the protestors in their work.

“What about the Driscolls?” He called back towards Aedan

“Don’t you worry, son,” Aedan said quietly, looking back at Kieran with a grim smile. “Robert Driscoll and the rest of his clan will get what’s coming.”

Kieran nodded, turning the corner onto his own street, helping Mick along the way. When they returned, mothers in tow, hoping to say their goodbyes to Aedan before moving on, he was nowhere to be found. Only Kieran noticed that the petrol bombs his father had taken from him were also missing.

It upset Kieran not to have a chance to bid his father farewell. However, he had to take care of his friend.



For the first time in nearly two years, Kieran set foot on Falls Road, his presence shadowed by the newly built peace line on one side, looming over him and playing with his frayed nerves. Heavy machinery worked as best it could to hide the evidence of fire and bullets, even if it could do nothing for the memories. Across the way there were children with a football, because there are always children with a football. Kieran smiled at the sight, surprising himself. He watched them enjoying their game for a moment, reflecting on happier days, until a shout from behind him caught his attention. He turned toward the construction, and waved as he saw Mick with one hand in the air and the other holding a hard hat.

“Ho, Mick!” Kieran yelled, trying to make himself heard over the pneumatics chiselling through the pavement. Kieran watched as Mick said something to another, older man, probably the foreman. Mick handed off his hat then left the site. Kieran headed towards him and the two met with a handshake that turned into a brotherly hug. Kieran felt his anxiety drain away. Old friends have a way of making the worst of things seem survivable.

“Kieran! I’ve missed you, mate! How’ve you been?” Mick’s words came in rapid-fire as they broke apart.

Kieran gave him a shrug. “Not too bad. They’re finally letting my dad have visitors.”

Mick nodded. “Is that why you’re back here? Going to the jail to see him?”

“Aye. I have to change buses here,” replied Kieran. “What about you, Mick? How’s your Uncle?”

Mick paused, looking at the ground. “He’s in a wheelchair. Doctors say there’s nothing to be done.”

Kieran wrapped an arm around his friend’s shoulder. “Sorry, mate,” was all he could say.

Mick’s glance was grateful, but a hard rage lay underneath. “Aye, well. Thank your old fella for me when you see him.”

“Will do,” Kieran replied. One less Driscoll in the world was something a lot of men wanted to thank his father for, even if Kieran questioned the cost daily.

Mick stepped forward, beckoning Kieran to follow. “Come on. I’ll walk with you to the bus stop.”

“Cheers,” Kieran said, looking around. “So, Mick, how long you been on the building site?”

“A year. I left school once we knew my Uncle couldn’t work anymore. My mum’s cousin is a foreman. He got me the job.” Mick paused for a second as he eyed Kieran sideways. “What about you? Working?”

Kieran shook his head. “Been looking around, but I don’t know anyone in Andersonstown. Not much available for a Catholic boy from Springfield Road when they can hire the local lads instead.”

“I can put a word in, we’re always taking people on.” Mick waved a hand, gesturing at the street. “God knows there’s plenty of work still to be done.”

Kieran looked around, nodding. “Aye, I can see that. Thought you’d be further along, to be honest.”

‘We would be, but those came first.” Mick pointed at the sixteen foot high wall segregating the street. “They told us it was to stop the riots. No point rebuilding the houses if they’re just going to get burned again.”

“Aye, right. More like they don’t care about Catholics having to sleep on the streets. Zoo animals don’t get roofs, why should we?”

Mick nodded glumly as they reached the bus stop. “Wouldn’t put it past the loyalist scum to think like that, true enough. Anyway, you have a phone at your house?”

Kieran chuckled. “A phone? No chance. A phone needs money. I’ll come by again on Monday though, if there’s a job going.”

Mick flashed a smile in Kieran’s direction. “I’ll put a word in,” Mick offered his hand again, and Kieran shook it. “I’ve got to crack on. Be good to have you about again, mate.”

Kieran smiled back. “Aye, good seeing you. Now off you go, I’ll not get a job if you get the sack.”

Mick gave him a laugh and turned away, breaking into a jog as he headed back towards the building site. Kieran leaned against the sign for the bus stop, watching him go with a smile. It wasn’t so bad, being back in his old stomping grounds.

Kieran looked towards the building work going on. The offer had been a surprise, but in retrospect, Kieran assumed Mick missed having people around that he knew. So many kids their age were part of Fianna, and the rest had fled with their families. Mick didn’t like the loyalists, but he wasn’t cut out to be a fighter, and the Fianna kids weren’t going to associate with him if he lacked their commitment. As he surveyed the newly-erected wall, he assumed the anti-British graffiti adorning it was their handiwork.

A shout carried across the street as he waited, and Kieran’s eyes followed, searching for the source. It took him a few moments to find it. From the other side of the wall, through the gate, he saw Billy Morgan, waving and smiling.

Kieran looked right, turning away from the greeting. The bus he awaited came into view, trundling along the street towards him.

Kieran looked back towards Billy. The smile was gone, and the friendly wave had died. Kieran stared at Billy, then very deliberately took a step forward. “gently caress the Queen, you proddy oval office!” yelled Kieran at the top of his lungs, just before the bus stopped. Kieran stepped on, not bothering to watch for a reaction.

Mick saw it, though. He watched one friend abuse another, his attention caught by the vehemence in Kieran’s voice. He saw Billy’s shoulders slumping in resignation, and the shake of his head. Mick caught Billy’s eye, and offered his old friend a sad smile as they shared an understanding through the gate.

The rain began, and it played a staccato tune on the concrete walls built through the playground.

my cat is norris
Mar 11, 2010


I forgot about this and will miss the deadline sorry!!

Oct 10, 2007

Can you see that I am serious?
Fun Shoe

Interrupted 397 words

Gavin was riding down Milwaukee, legs pumping as he dodged cars, long packaged tube slung over his back and tightened down, covered head to toe against the wind and not even feeling the cold. One block away from the architect’s office with the plans when a wide gap in his memory opened, grabbed him from the street and spat him into his bed covered head-to-toe with blood.

Which was a small blessing at least, to come to himself in his own bed. Only he couldn’t quite find himself. He was here but he wasn’t present. He got up and went searching through the apartment for a beer.

He was at the hospital and not entirely clear on how he got there. There had been some people flashing lights in his eyes, some questions he was having difficulty with. He was given a few pills and hooked into an IV, everything seeming like it was happening only with great effort.

Things were different. He was different. Walking down the street was tricky because he couldn’t quite tell what he was going towards and what was coming towards him. Every time he nailed something down the rest of the world started turning around it. He had to look at things a couple times, dry heave as the motion sickness took him, then resume his careful steps until he need to fix his course again. Everything coming at him like an endless game of Frogger and the controls were all hosed up.

It was hard talking to people because by the time he’d focused on a phrase enough to understand it five more had already happened. Better, he felt, to just let most of it wash over him and stick to nodding or smiling or looking vaguely concerned. Those were what got him through most conversations.

The first time he touched a bike he was shocked at how normal it felt. Surely it shouldn’t feel normal, he thought. Surely lightning should flash through his mind and he should regain some kind of feeling of normalcy, of being part of the world around him. Instead he was just...holding on to a bike.

He walks into the architect’s office with the tube. The receptionist smiles politely and emptily. “Who’s the package for?”

“This is for me,” Gavin says, and leaves it lying on the ground as he turns and walks away.


Mar 21, 2010

[205 words]

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