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  • Locked thread
Dec 11, 2013

by Pragmatica
Gimme some legos.


Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

SkaAndScreenplays posted:

Gimme some legos.

Dino Quad

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




:siren: Thundertome Reminder :siren:

Jay W. Friks posted:

Hello all. I'll be subbing for Twist for THUNDERTOME for the next few weeks. With that in mind, if anybody still wants to speak about BURNING CHROME, the previous book to discuss, do so, perhaps when it comes time to discuss the book I have chosen for digestion from now till JAN, 6th, 2017: BARDO99 by Cecile Pineda.

I have already read the book and will provide a link to the amazon page for those who want to purchase or study it beforehand.

It is a thin book and reads quickly. It is in the realm of surrealism, which you can guess from the synopsis, "Depicting the 20th century as a character, this novel explores what happens when that character, dying, passes through a Bardo state—an intermediate state of the soul between death and rebirth."

Come JAN, 6th, 2017, I will be in THUNDERTOME IRC to participate in a discussion of the book and any thoughts derived from it.

Be seeing you!

edit: this is not a terribly long book, so if you want to read it real quick and join in, that's totally doable

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Behold my brain the golden throne of my consciousness. In here I am seated. Shackled. From here I police the land.

happy nu yr ginnme a lego set

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Got Out.
Grimey Drawer
In for the play-doh in the rug.


Jay W. Friks fucked around with this message at 01:54 on Jan 4, 2017

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

The Saddest Rhino posted:

happy nu yr ginnme a lego set

Beta-1 Command Base

Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012

In, and I'll take a LEGO set please and thank you.

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

Benny Profane posted:

In, and I'll take a LEGO set please and thank you.

Gold City Junction

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

In, lego me up, :toxx:

May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.
In, and I would like some Lego action, please.

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

sebmojo posted:

In, lego me up, :toxx:

Swiss Villa

Noah posted:


Samurai Stronghold

Mar 21, 2013
In with a lego set and a :toxx:

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

kurona_bright posted:

In with a lego set and a :toxx:

Atlantis Exploration HQ

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

Fleta Mcgurn posted:

In, and I would like some Lego action, please.

Sorry about missing you earlier!

Temple of Mount Everest

Fleta Mcgurn
Oct 5, 2003

Porpoise noise continues.

QuoProQuid posted:

Sorry about missing you earlier!

Temple of Mount Everest

No problem, it was worth the wait for a cool-rear end Lego set!

Dec 27, 2013


Nov 5, 2016

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

Sign-ups close in about 18 hours. Be sure to pick up some sweet LEGOs before that.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe


Mar 22, 2013

it's crow time again

Out of all these LEGOs which is your favorite of the LEGOs?

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Got Out.
Grimey Drawer

Sitting Here posted:

:siren: Thundertome Reminder :siren:

edit: this is not a terribly long book, so if you want to read it real quick and join in, that's totally doable


Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
:siren: Thunderdome Recaps! :siren:

Despite a cameo appearance by a posse of shirtless dudes, I guarantee this review of Week 226: Viking Wisdom is less oversexed than the majority of Skyrim mods. Sitting Here, Ironic Twist, and I discuss the responsibilities of judging before we brave the crests and the troughs of the prose seas. Our chances for glory come when we read a story almost as crazy with drugs as "Dust Dust Dust All Night": Sailor Viy's "The Guest at the Feast."

“I want drugs,” I said. “I want drugs and then I want to dance and then I want sex, sex, sex.”

In TD in this fateful hour, I call on the prompt in its power: the sun with its brightness, the snow with its whiteness, the fire with all the strength it hath, the lightning with its rapid wrath, the winds with their swiftness along their path--this is a convoluted way of inviting you along on a meteorological survey, otherwise known as the recap of Week 227: It was a Dark and Stormy Night.... Never before have we spent so much time on the subject of incest twins. N. Senada's "Osmond Diaz, King of Kings" gets a dramatic reading, and I can't help but wish it had been a reinterpretation of The Cenci instead of "Ozymandias" so we could have kept it all in the family.

Supreme Lord Osmond Diaz stood on his northern balcony admiring the scorched earth that he had conquered.

Episodes past can be found here!

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 12:39 on Sep 8, 2017

Nov 15, 2012

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

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007




in and lego me

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

Sitting Here posted:

in and lego me

Viking Fortress against the Fafnir Dragon

Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha

And, with that, sign-ups are now closed.

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


BTW here were some additional judge thoughts I had written down from week whatever it was that I helped judge. Probably some repeat comments in there because maybe there were things I hadn't previously mentioned I dunno.


The Jester’s Sickness
What the hell is that opening paragraph
Format annoying
Tense feels awkward at the start
never-mind as hyphenated word seems dumb

Not great

Ride of the White Knight
Protag seems like an idiot, benefit of doubt says assume that’s intentional for now…
Oh good this is a story about ‘nice guys’ I hate you
LOL 2 bros punch each other and then the strong independent woman does it for herself this story sucks

Tribal Wisdom
Way too much exposition dump
Almost nothing happens it’s just ‘all this is the stuff that happened beforehand and now to the story of me continuing to be dumb’

Less terrible than the previous

That was just a big wet fart with seriously annoying tense shifts

But I Smiled
Maybe this story is benefitting from the ones before it sucking but so far it is my favourite.

The Entertainment
Kind of a one joke story but competently told.

Turning Lock
Not bad but feels like shenanigans rather than the actual plot progression part of a story

A Change of Mind
Samuel Slopbucket eh, well you get points for the name
You get points for this being a genuinely fun story as well. I liked it.

In some mythologies, the whole world is on the back of a turtle which is pretty cool
OK I liked this one, there were some annoying errors and not much happened, but I found the protagonist and his turtle buddy oddly endearing

One-Sided Conversation
Reads like world building or back story. I don’t care about the protag

We’ve All Been There
Some of the word usage doesn’t really… I dunno, just feels wrong
Bit of a nothing ending

Whoa, second person present tense, bold move. Couple minor errors and the plot wasn’t really clear – it felt like two plots being told across each other and we didn’t really get all of either of them – but it was p. interesting.

Mean Things
One of my fellow judges pointed out that this one has a similar basic plot to White Knight; I think the main difference is this one is a little less heavy handed and the characters are more sympathetic. It’s still not great but not as bad as the other one so gj I guess?

Night on the Front
Pretty grim. Not a bad little story.

A Murder.
This is v. bad and my current pick for loser.

Silver Nitride is a Hell of a Thing
Anticlimactic and dumb.

What the hell is this nothing happens in this dumb story.

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Gonna Catch a Big One 1177 words

“What do bears eat, anyway?”

“Fish, I think,” said Tom. Tom was the oldest and therefore the leader of the expedition. “I saw that in a movie the other day.”

“Hmmm,” said Susan. Susan was the rest of the expedition, and also Tom’s best friend. “Would tuna work, do you think? I think we have that in the fridge.”

“Yeah probably,” said Tom.

“Pooh Bear eats honey,” said Susan.

Tom nodded, although Susan wouldn’t have seen that over the phone. “Tuna and honey? That makes sense.”

“I’ll get my mum to make them into sandwiches,” said Susan.

“OK,” said Tom. “I’ll go get Kyle and meet you at your place.” Kyle was Tom’s dog, and also his best friend.


“Mum,” said Tom on the way out the door, “I’m taking Kyle to go bear hunting with Susan.”

Mum stopped him before he got out the door and made sure he put on a jacket first, because it was cold out there and he would catch a cold, and was also making her cold just looking at him. He did finally get out the door, though, after also taking an umbrella ‘just in case’, and walked with Kyle to Susan’s house and rang her doorbell.

Her mum answered the doorbell. “Hello Mrs George,” he said. “Is Susan ready? Me and her are going on a bear hunt.”

Susan’s mum called out to Susan that her little friend was here, and then commented to Tom that it was so nice that the two of them were such good friends and also honey and tuna sandwiches seemed like kind of an odd snack don’t you think?

“They’re not for us,” said Tom, not answering the rest of her comments because they were very weird, “they’re for the bear.”

Susan arrived at the front door with the sandwiches and said, “OK mum thanks for the sandwiches, bye.”

Her mum tried to get a photo of ‘the brave bear hunters’ before they left, but Susan made a face and said “Mum, stop being silly,” so her mum let them go unphotographed, saying they looked very cute together.


“Sorry about mum being weird,” said Susan. “Also, why do you have an umbrella?”

“My mum’s weird too,” said Tom. “She made me take it, and put on a jacket, too.”

Susan sighed. “Grown-ups are so silly.”

They didn’t talk much, because they needed their breath for walking, and also Susan wanted to pet Kyle a lot, which was OK because she was Tom’s best friend and visited all the time, so Kyle knew not to try to eat her. “You’re so lucky to have a dog,” said Susan.

Tom nodded. This was true. “You can visit whenever you want to play with him, though,” he said.

Susan nodded, and then they didn’t talk again until they got to the woods. “Which way?” asked Susan, and Tom pointed to Kyle with his hand that wasn’t holding the lead. Kyle was straining at the lead, not so hard that he would start dragging Tom with him, but he sniffed at the air and something seemed very interesting to him.

“Whichever way Kyle says,” said Tom. The pair of them followed Kyle into the woods.

As they got further in, Kyle got more excited, and they both had to hold onto the lead to stop him running off.

Then they saw the bear.

Obviously there was nothing strange about that; they had gone out on a bear hunt, so it was very normal and ordinary that they would find a bear, but on the other hand, there was a bear right there amongst some trees. Not a very big one, in fact a little bit smaller than Kyle, which made Tom feel a little bit less scared about how successfully their bear hunt had gone, but still.

They’d found a bear!

The bear didn’t run away or run at them when they found it; it just stood there looking around.

“Is it purring?” asked Susan.

“I don’t think bears cry,” said Tom. “I think they roar or something.”

“It looks like there’s something wrong with it.”

Kyle was quite excited at finding the bear, and was barking very loudly. “Good boy,” said Tom to Kyle. After all, he had found them a bear. “What do we do now?” he asked Susan.

“Should we tie Kyle up and have a closer look at the bear?”

Tom nodded, and the two of them tied his lead to a nearby branch. As they got closer they could see that one of the bear’s legs was in a trap. It was not a very big trap, probably not a proper bear trap, but this was not a very big bear.

“Oh, the poor bear,” said Susan. “We should free it.”

A small part of Tom thought that was a very strange thing to do on a bear hunt, but he nodded anyway, because Susan was his best friend, and he didn’t have any ideas of his own anyway. “I don’t know how to do that,” he said.

“We need to open the trap.”

“Not with our hands, though.”

Susan looked around and picked up a stick from the ground. “Is the bear going to let us get there to open the trap?”

“Try the sandwiches,” said Tom.

Susan took off her backpack and pulled out one of the sandwiches. She unwrapped it from its cling wrap and showed it to the bear. The bear sniffed at it. Susan dropped it in front of the bear, and the bear started eating. She dropped the rest of the sandwiches in front of the bear, and they quickly made their way around to the trap. Susan crammed the stick into the trap.

“We need another one,” she said. Tom looked around, but didn’t see any. Then he realised he was still holding the umbrella. He took it and stuck it, point first, into the trap’s opening. Then they both pulled in opposite directions using their stick and umbrella. After a lot of pulling, they managed to open it a tiny bit. The bear’s leg came free, and both Susan and Tom quickly let go. The trap snapped shut.

Tom and Susan ran over to Kyle, in case the bear was angry now that it was free, but the bear had scampered away, so they untied Kyle and walked back to Tom’s house to ask if Susan could stay for dinner. What with the bear eating all of the sandwiches, they were very hungry.


At the dinner table, Kyle’s mum asked them how the bear hunt had gone, and also where the umbrella was. Kyle ignored the umbrella question. “We found a bear,” he said, “but it got away.”

His mum suggested that was an awful shame. Susan shrugged. “Finding bears is the main point of a bear hunt. It doesn’t matter what happens after.”

Although afterwards, they both agreed that it mattered a bit what happened, and that actually it was good that it got away.

Oct 30, 2016
Scales 1199

Maddie and I were not supposed to go to the public pool on our own, but this one evening under a summer heat-wave, Dad had hesitantly let us out of his sight. Giddy with a new-found feeling of independence, we swam length after length together. Mermaid-swimming, we called it: arms stretched out, legs stuck together like a tail, eyes wide open even if it stung a little. Maddie was always telling me that I was doing stuff wrong, but being a year older with longer limbs, I was faster anyway.

Eventually, I hauled myself from the water and waited for her to finish while I watched the last guests leave.

“Aren't you getting tired?” I asked.

Maddie stopped by the ladder and shook her head. “No way. I can swim forever.”

“But it’s cold and the pool’s closing.”

“It’s not cold at all,” Maddie said, pouting. “Mermaids swim in the ocean all winter.”

“Then maybe you’re part mermaid,” I said, knowing that that was exactly what she wanted to hear – no matter how often I said it, she smiled like crazy. And while I had Mom's eyes and Dad's nose, we both agreed that Maddie didn't look much like Mom at all. Her mom could’ve been Ariel for all we knew. Her hair even looked a little red in the light of the sinking sun.

I thought I had won. It looked like Maddie was about to climb out when she suddenly kicked and propelled herself back instead. Floating effortlessly, she laughed - “Take me to the beach on the way home and then I’ll come!”

“It’s almost dark.”

“I just wanna go look at it,” she pouted, drawing out the last word for what felt like forever.

If Dad had been here, he would have said something to make her come. Now, she just floated while I thought about how long it would be before we’d miss dinner, and I didn’t know what to say. I nodded.

We got our towels – mine frayed and blue, Maddie’s in Barbie-pink – and I took both our bags, one on each shoulder, heavy with the shorts and t-shirts we had shed before. The smell of chlorine lingered even past the showers and the fence. We carried it with us down the road until we reached the beach with those dunes that glowed like giant pieces of buried amber washed up ages ago.

Maddie didn’t run straight into the waves as I’d feared. She just looked out at the sea and said, “I actually am going to become a real mermaid.”

“How?” I asked.

“There’s a spell.”

“That’s dumb. Who told you?”

Maddie shrugged. “The internet.”

“That’s even dumber.”

“It was a special webpage. With real videos and stuff.” Maddie paused a moment. “…But I can’t show you, ‘cause it’s secret. Only for half-mermaids.”

This was her revenge for being called dumb. I stopped in the shadow of sea-weed-covered rocks and dropped the bags in the sand where they lay among crumbled up ice-cream wrappers and empty soda bottles.

“I’m your sister," I said. "I can keep a secret.”

Saying nothing, Maddie looked at the water like it was a thousand fathoms deep, unknown territory. In truth, we knew the beach well: it was shallow and calm even when it was windy, kid-friendly.

You wanted to go the beach,” I said. “What's the matter? I guess you don’t wanna show me ‘cause you’re really normal.”

Maddie shook her head, biting her cheek like she always did when she was scared. I knew I wasn’t being nice, but then again, I was scared too. Scared that it wouldn't work and she would get Dad involved once we got home, and scared that it would work, that she was somehow right.

Then she said, “I’m just going to go out until my legs are in, okay?”

“Okay,” I said.

Adjusting my bathing suit, I told myself that I could always swim the breast-stroke and pull her back if the waves started to act up. (In truth, I knew she was too heavy, and there was no lifeguard here). Maddie stepped into the surf and the sea-breeze, water up to her hips. When she spread her arms out all ceremonially and looked up to the sky, I could see the tan-lines on her shoulders and the baby-fat still clinging to her stomach. Her thighs appeared like pieces of concrete wave breakers above the waterline. Her lips moved and I couldn’t hear a thing.

I wanted to turn around and leave.

It’d only be a few minutes before I was home, and the desire to be on the couch with Disney Channel on, sitting on a big beach towel as I air-dried, grew overwhelming.

“Laura, look!” Maddie’s voice rang out, and I looked at her, and she looked at the darkening horizon.

Sea-foam came sailing in on chest-high waves - not the common yellowish kind of foam, but pearly white stuff, and Maddie saw it swirl around her legs. At first, she swayed like she wasn’t able to stand, and then she made an odd jump towards me. She did a few movements that I guess was an attempt at swimming mermaid-style, but the waves pushed her in, made her wash up on the shore. I ran towards her, sand flying around me.

She lay with her legs extended into the water. Foam covered her, toes to belly. Her chest rose and fell rapidly, glistening with brown, slick kelp. We both waited for the miracle.

Hesitantly, like she knew what I was gonna answer, she asked, “Did it work?”

I shivered and saw that the sun was almost gone.

“Why didn’t it work?” Maddie asked. She forced herself to look down and slowly stretched out one leg, as if the limb was brand new and unfamiliar. She flexed her chubby toes. ”The website said… The website said it wouldn’t work if you don’t believe.”

Somewhere, a gull cried.

While she got up, I got our bags and carried her towel, too, leading us hastily onwards while she kept glancing at me. Each step she took looked like it caused her pain; she flinched a little, but that could have been caused by the gravel and sun-warmed asphalt under her bare feet.

We made it all the way to our garden gate before I blurted out, “I’m sorry.”

Pausing in the middle of a step, Maddie turned to look at me, still with sand in her hair. She stood with one hand on the latch.

“It was me who didn’t believe,” I said.

"It was?"

“I’m really sorry. I wish you could’ve become a mermaid, you know - but I couldn’t believe enough. Please don’t tell Dad I let you go to the beach, right?”

“Yeah,” Maddie said. “Ok.”

“It looked like it worked for a moment. It really did. Didn’t you see the foam come in?”

“Maybe.” Maddie opened the gate and went on ahead, clutching a seashell of some sort she must have picked up in the surf. “Ok. You’re dumb, Laura. Thanks for ruining it.”

The gate swung back and shut before I could follow her.

I heard the latch fall into place.

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Got Out.
Grimey Drawer
Agua Mala, Agua Pura (1280) (edit: poo poo. I thought the word count was 1300. My bad)

The colicky child was named Suendhil and was found in the aftermath of a massive accident. She thinks the strangers kidnapped her to give their own child a sibling.
Their son had no idea of what they had done, and convinced him to call her, “Your baby sister.” She did not respond to this title in their presence, but she acquiesced to his insistence of it since he would grab her containers in the middle of the night for getting nutrients.

Her “big brother” was her only ally because he was around her more than anyone else. He saw firsthand, her unending thirst and would take glasses, bowls, cut open milk jugs, and leave them out on the windowsill of their bedroom during rainy days. Her kidnappers tried to force their food down her throat, only because of her “brothers” pity could she survive.The kidnappers would shut her away and put the TV on and pretend she wasn’t calling out for help. Her brother liked the TV. He sat there telling Suendhil past stories about the anthropomorphic creatures which paraded across the concrete landscapes, slicing and blowing up all who threatened their world.

The commercials would come on between robots and swordplay. In them, slowly pouring sugared fragments, colored and shaped to look like fruit baskets would flood across the screen. These images would make him melancholy. He would mention his “friend”, who got to eat cereal, and how his parents bought him a box that would let him play like the creatures on TV.

“He’s so lucky. His parents are cool.”

She and her brother have this one sided exchange every Saturday. The day he had off from school and homework, he would spend in the room with her.
She long ago figured out he didn’t realize how repetitive he was, like the cartoons on T.V. it wasn’t a bad thing, his repetition was comforting in this alien world.
She hadn’t decided yet if she could use him to escape. For now, she was only asking for water, crying to her kidnappers and slowly nodding during his long expositions.
One weekend he put a sandwich bag of sugar kibble in her hand,
“Mia, I got you some cereal from my friend at school. Since mom won’t let us have sugar, I think if we both have some and like it, she’ll have to get it.”
She took a handful and crunched it in her mouth, careful not to swallow it, it had many toxins in it, not enough to harm her, but she didn’t want to start the path to mutation.

She had decided enough was enough, she had heard the kidnappers claim she had an illness. They murmured that she was mentally disabled.
Her kidnappers debated a bottle of poison, reading off it’s effects and side effects. She had seen those they referred to as “disabled”. In the few times they forced her to go to their Sunday meetings, within the rows of aberrations praying to the mutant tree, she had seen a young girl near the front.
She was strapped to a chair, her body flailing and her mind ruined by the bad water and air.

It made her wonder if they were going to force feed her poison and make her like the girl in the front row. She would be unable to escape and finish her birth cycle. She needed to get to her mother's womb, but she needed her “brothers” help. One Saturday morning, it was raining outside, her brother was eating the last of the cereal he had taken. Suendhil got up during the commercial for a trio of skinny dolls riding in a pink convertible. Her “brother” took her sudden exit as disgust and remarked, “Yeah, barbies are stupid.”

She went to the windowsill and grabbed a bowl of water that was nearly full, she asked her brother for the last of the cereal. “You want to add water to it, huh.”
He looked a bit squeamish at the thought, but gave it to her.

“I’m glad you like it at least.”
She went over to the windowsill with the sandwich bag of fruity kibble and the bowl.
“What are you doing? Isn’t there enough water in the bowl already?”
She dropped the bowl to the driveway below, breaking it into pieces. The baggie of cereal flopped in a dewy heap besides it.
Her brothers jaw dropped and he sat up.

“Dang it Mia! I don’t want mom to find out I’ve been taking food from Todd! I’ll get in trouble!”
He grabbed his coat and fled downstairs. She followed behind him and stuck a pencil eraser into the door jam so it wouldn’t lock.
She crept down to the bottom floor. The kidnappers had accosted her brother. She needed only a moment for them too look away, than she could run. He started to pinch up the ceramic pieces as she sprinted past the front porch. Her kidnappers didn’t see her as they had to gone to find a broom and pan in the garage.

Her brother had seen her though.He raced after her. She made her way into the back acre. Strands of blackberries determined to reach the backyard by spring tore up her pink footies. A weave of ferns soaked her in muddy water as the woods met her. The saturated grass near the river pulled off her socks and caused her pale skin to redden and rash. Her brother huffed and puffed trying to keep up. He didn’t know that she gained strength the closer she got to her world.

Her mother's womb was near. Under a broken bridge it still laid open, bared and ready to continue her gestation.
Long reeds still bent from the accident, crumbled further as she descended. A cluster of moldy flowers in plastic sacks, and small versions of the wooden apparatus from the Sunday building surrounded the foamy, running water. She was ready to dive in but an arm grabbed her. Her “brother”. He was streaked with cuts and mud, and gasped in a long droughts of breath. She turned as he spoke, “Mia…”
She became enraged and blurted into his mind, her first real words towards him.

“Let me go! This is where I belong! Those creatures are not my parents.”

It didn’t work well with him. His nose bled, and his mind fragmented from her push. His arm was now locked onto her, tightened from the mental shock.She eyed the deep pit behind her where the poison folk had broke in with roaring, shredding shells. She reached out to the pit,
“Mother. It’s me. They took me from here. I got lost in the spawning pool. I’m back now.”

A wonderful smell emanated from the pit and Suendhil found the strength to crawl into the water, despite her “brothers” grip.
She felt bad for him. He was innocent in all his, and now he was being drug in with her to drown.
“Mother. I need to bring one of them with me. I don’t want him to die. He’s the reason I survived”

She descended into the water, her adaptive fetal flesh sloughed off like a pink shower curtain. It felt incredible to be free of it at last. Her fetal form shook her brother out of his stupor as he began to scream. His wails became a gargle as an ovum rose up from beneath and encased him. She saw the light of the poisoned world fall away and everything became green and glistening.

She wondered how they would adapt her new brother to the pure world. She hoped it wouldn’t be too painful.

Apr 30, 2006

sparksbloom fucked around with this message at 03:30 on Nov 27, 2017

Mar 17, 2009


Letters (1172, King's Castle)

“It isn’t fair!” Richard pouted in his padded chair.

“What isn’t fair?” Edward, his elder brother, was across the room sitting at the study’s desk. It was a large and impressive desk for their father, a full grown man and a king at that. Compared to a boy of twelve, however, it was colossal. Edward kicked his legs idly, feet swinging like pendulums, never quite touching the floor.

“You don’t read for me anymore.” It was only fair, Richard hadn’t learned yet, so it was Edward’s job.

Edward kicked his feet more vigorously, like a grandfather clock that had somewhere to be. “There’s nothing new to read.”

“Yes there is!” Richard demanded. He could see his brother touch his hand to the locked drawer. Inside were a stack of parchments, all of them letters, all of them from the king, their father.

“No there isn’t!” Edward lied. He stood up and slammed the drawer shut, locking the secrets inside. He left in a huff.

Richard had seen him read the new letter, seen him hide it away in the drawer. Edward might be little, but he wasn’t a fool. Edward didn’t own the place, Richard had a right to see the letter too.


Edward had read all of father’s communiques aloud since he had gone to war. Richard was young, and could read a little, father promised to finish teaching him when he returned. At first, they had read the letters together. Richard would try his best, and when he was wrong Edward would correct him.

Edward had been gentle at first, positively encouraging. “No silly, it says fortified. Fort-i-fied. Not fo-hi-fed.” he’d said with a giggle. Richard hadn’t even understood the proper word, but he nodded and smiled at his brother. Edward was so smart.

Weeks turned into months, and Edward turned into an impatient meanie. Corrections were hissed, mistakes berated, brought up again and again. Eventually, Edward had claimed authority by right of being the elder sibling, and something about diving right, he alone would read the letters.

Richard had become rightfully angry and had complained incessantly.

So they’d compromised. Edward would read the missives from father aloud.

Richard stopped hounding Edward.
Edward stopped yelling at Richard.

Their father stopped telling them about the war.


It had been a few days since Edward had lied.

Moonlight came through the narrow stone window and alighted on Richard’s face, waking him. Richard yawned and crawled out of bed to use the chamber pot, making his best effort not to wake Edward. As he made to climb into bed, something glinted in the darkness.

Richard peered but could see nothing, as the room was dark, save for the shaft of moonlight on his pillow, and the light of it had left him with poor night vision. He stepped further into the darkness and let his eyes adjust. After a moment, the glint revealed itself to him again, the ornate wardrobe across the room was slightly ajar, and within was the glint of iron.

The key! Richard clapped his hand over his mouth, afraid he might shout the thought in excitement. He willed himself silent, his grogginess replaced with an excitement that threatened to pour out of his mouth. He turned to look at his brother.

Edward was sound asleep.

Richard crept towards the wardrobe, his bare feet rasped against the stone floor, the faint sound agonizingly loud in the stillness of the room. One, two, three, eleven steps of stealth, and the key was in his grasp.

Richard opened the door, and the hinges betrayed him with a squeal. The sound of his heartbeat threatened to deafen him until there was a rustle of sheets and a mumble as Edward turned over in bed. Richard wiped his brow and stole off down the hall, seeking the study in the dark.

It took some finding in the dark, but Richard managed the keyhole and pulled out the letters. He couldn’t read them in the dark, and father had warned him about lighting lamps recklessly, not that he even knew how. He looked at the study window, it was on the wrong side of the castle, and did not face the moon.

Richard brought the letters to the window anyways. Some starlight came through, and he could see the letters a little bit. What caught his eye was the secret letter. It had been on the bottom of the pile, and the paper it was written on was different. It was rougher, darker. The letters looked like they might be different too, but it was too dark to tell exactly.

Richard thought for a moment and put all but two of the letters back, the first, and the latest, the strange one. He locked the drawer and wandered back into the bedroom, clutching the letters in his hands.

As he closed the door, the squeak did nothing to stir Edward. The moonlight, however, had shifted from Richard’s pillow to rest very close to Edward’s shoulder. Richard steeled himself and got onto the bed, positioning himself with his back to the window.

Leaning over his brother, Richard held up the first letter. He’d read this one himself, months and months ago. His lips mouthed the words as his eyes traced them in the moonlight.

“My Dearest Sons,
I hope you are doing well, I think of you both every day...”

Every letter had started like that. Edward had tried to skip it on a few occasions, to phase it out on account of its repetition. Richard had whined and complained and otherwise thrown enough of a tantrum that Edward had relented and read the letters unabridged since.

Richard held up the secret letter. “Your… Ma-jess-ty” he read. The handwriting was different, the lines were thicker, scratchier.

“I must… sadly… in farm you…” Richard whispered the words unconsciously.

“Of your father’s” father, that was a word he knew, father had always signed the letter with ‘your loving father’

“Deaf eat? De-feet?” Richard lowered the letter to ponder the unfamilliar word and nearly fell out of the bed when he saw Edward looking up at him.

“Are you mad?” Richard asked with a wince.

“No.” Edward said. He propped himself up on his elbows. He looked tired. “I’m not mad.”

“Did they really cut off father’s feet?” Richard asked

“Yes. That’s why it’s taking him so long to come home.” Edward explained.

Richard looked at the letter, suddenly a blurry mess through his tears. “Is that why you didn’t tell me?”

Edward nodded.

Richard tried to read further, but he couldn’t. “Will you read it for me?”

Edward took the letter from his brother and kissed him on the forehead. “In the morning.” he said. “I’ll read it to you in the morning. Go to sleep.”

Richard embraced his brother, both sad and relieved.

The new king squeezed his little brother tight and tucked him in. He stroked Richard’s hair as he fell asleep. The prince dreamed, and King Edward watched him, wishing he were a better liar.

a new study bible!
Feb 1, 2009

A Philadelphia Legend
Fly Eagles Fly

1200 Words

I was sitting against the gravel embankment when Ollie got the jump on me.

“Hey!” he said as he kicked a rock over the freighter rails.

“Ready?” Ollie asked.

“One sec,” I said as I retrieved my Looney Tunes pencil case; I’d stashed four stolen cigarettes inside.

Ollie pulled a matchbook from his pocket and lit the smoke as we walked down the tracks. Somewhere, the shrill whistle of a levifreighter cut through the February wind.


Ollie taught me how to walk to the schoolhouse the day after I moved to Esk: Head down the steep hill at the end of the neighborhood, and through the abandoned shopping center parking lot where, sometimes, we’d throw rocks at the street signs. Go past the corner where Hopping Joe would stand with his cardboard sign and plastic mug. Then, turn into the woods and cross the dried river bed.

“That last part is a secret shortcut,” he’d told me.

I knew that Ollie was cool the day that Hopping Joe, with his crooked hook nose, jingled his plastic cup and asked us to share some our lunch money with him. Ollie said, “What’reya gonna do with it? Buy a new leg?” We both laughed, but then we each gave him a buck.


I could hear the thowming of the levifreighter as we turned the bend. Moments later, I saw the pyramid shaped cabin hovering along the tracks through the narrow cutaway of the birch trees.

Then, as if on a cue, Kevin rocketed from the treeline and jumped in front of the engine. The train blew its horn as he rolled between the rails, but it just continued on by, hovering into the distance.

“Kevin’s gonna hang out too,” Ollie said.

“I figured,” I said.

Kevin was the smallest kid in our grade, but that never stopped him from getting into trouble.

“What’s up, Endre?” Kevin asked. “You got a smoke for me?”

“Yeah, he’s got two left,” Ollie said as he put his own out.

I opened my the pencil case.

“Hey,” Kevin said, “I saw a cart filled with trash back in the trees there. I think it’s Hopping Joe’s.” Kevin held out a chrome lighter in the palm of his gloved hand. “Check out what I snatched from it.”

“Man,” he added, “if I’da seen him in those woods…” Kevin threw an uppercut into the air. “Boom!”

I laughed nervously.

I don’t know if Ollie could remember how we ended up being friends with Kevin; I know that I couldn’t. Nevertheless, Kevin was our third, and it was nice sometimes. Kevin’s dad was a bigwig at the naval terminal, so once or twice a month he’d treat the three of us to a movie.


The three of us walked until we came to a rusted chain-link fence that was half eaten by the salt spray of the Storegga Bay. A gate stretched across our path.

“We going in?” Ollie asked.

“Yeah,” Kevin said, “there’s a hole in the fence over here.”

“Don’t you have a keycard or something?” I asked.

“I could have grabbed dad’s keycard,” Kevin said as he lifted the bottom of the fence where the metal was slashed, “but since nobody’s working right now, it would look a little weird to swipe in. Don’t you think?”

“Well then, should we really be going in here?” I asked.

“Everyone’s gone until tomorrow,” Kevin said, “Just trust me. Plus, I have something to show you guys.”

“Endre,” Ollie said, “Kevin’s a pro at this kind of poo poo.”

The sun dipped behind steel skeletons of equipment and rigging as we followed Kevin to an equipment shed.

“These still use old fashioned keys,” he said as he unlocked the door.

Kevin pulled a metallic-orange backpack from the storage chest. Several clear tubes coiled themselves along the top of the pack before feeding into a rubber hose attached to an electronic grip.

“My dad left his email open,” Kevin said as he typed in an authenticator key into a panel on the pack’s grip

“What’s that?” Ollie asked.

“An atomic resizer,” Kevin said. “This is how they ship lots of stuff on one boat. My dad says that they only use these things on, wood and stone, but he told me that they could work on anything as long as it’s strong.”

Kevin led us to a red shipping container not far from the shed. Printed along the rippled steel side, in bright white letters was the word MAERSK. Taking a moment to adjust the levels on the screen, Kevin set the device to 1/16th scale and pulled the trigger, washing the container in iridescent light. The plastic tubing on the backpack filled with various liquids, and when the light faded, the once mammoth box was the size of a lunchpail.

“Holy poo poo,” Ollie said.

“What happened to whatever was inside?” I asked.

“Still there,” Kevin said. He turned to me with a smirk on his freckled face and adjusted the dials on the device’s grip. “Why don’t you go stand over there,” he said, “and you can check for yourself.” He continued to fiddle with the screen.

I took a few steps backwards.

“Just loving with you,” Kevin said before turning back to the container. “I’ll resize it.”

Moments later, another bright light, and the steel box was all but restored, except that the corrugated rippling along the side of the box was no longer as pronounced as it once was, more like a gentle wave.”

“What happened to it?” I asked.

“Lemme try again,” Kevin said before shrinking and resizing the container once more.

But now the sides were even more smoothed, and the text printed along the side was illegibly smudged.

“Maybe this is why they use these things on materials,” I said.
Kevin examined the dials on the machine’s grip while Ollie stepped towards the container and opened its door.

A warbling groan echoed from within.

When we finally looked inside the box, the three of us found a writhing mass of skin and fabric melted into a puddle. Two arms, jutting out from the central mass pushed impotently against the ground, while a singular leg dangled in several places until the lone boot that it wore went flying against the steel container’s walls.

I swear that I saw a crooked nose somewhere in the pile.

“That’s Hopping Joe!” I said while turning to see what Kevin was going to do.

I never saw Ollie run inside to help old Hopping Joe.

Neither did Kevin.

By the time the light dissipated, the steel container was the size of a pack of smokes. Ollie was gone.

I ran over to the little red thing, but before I could open it up, Kevin stopped me.

“Let me,” he said.

It looked like the door would break in his fingers, but after he opened it, we both could hear the sounds of tiny screams.

It only took one look.

Kevin was crying when he dropped the lighter into the hole, closed the door, and threw the thing as hard as he could into the icy bay.

We left through the hole in the fence, and walked home in silence.

Nov 5, 2016

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS
We're Not Supposed To
1,198 words. No Legos.


Nothing. Just the wind. Sammy raised her hands back to her mouth to shout again, but Jeffrey jerked both arms into her way and stopped her.

"He heard you! He had to! We only yell up to him when we absolutely, absolutely need to! He heard you that time. Don't yell again!" The pair looked up at the edge and waited. He would come down, and they would start fixing everything.

The four children were in the courtyard of an old building. Most of it was a playground, holding a huge swing set and a jungle gym that was almost covered with rust. James had been leaping up the gym, like he had every day before. He'd slipped near the top, and while he hit the sand softly enough, his ankle had dragged against a bar on the way down. Aaron knelt over the wound and worried about it. They'd all been scraped out here. None of those scrapes bled like this. James kept trying to get his foot under him to stand up and walk it off with everyone still fussing over his accident, but he fell back on his rear end as soon as he put weight on the bleeding leg. "It's gonna ruin your sock." Aaron said.

"That's my sock. I want to keep that sock. Take it off." James told him.

Aaron untied the shoe and pulled it off slowly. He peeled off the sock, and the blood poured down the rest of the foot with the sock out of its way. James grabbed the shoe and stuffed the sock into it. He hugged them both tight to his chest. That was his shoe, and his sock. He wasn't going to lose them.

Aaron walked over to the other two. Jeffrey stared at the edge of the roof, and Sammy turned to look over Aaron's shoulder at James. He would try to move his foot, wince, and squeeze his shoe and grit his teeth.

"What's wrong?" Aaron asked the pair. Jeffrey didn't look away from the roof. "Is he not up there?"

"Is James OK?" said Sammy.

Jeffrey didn't move a muscle. "He has to be up there. He always tells us when he's coming down, and he always tells-"

"I'm fine!" James called out.

Jeffrey blinked. "He... uh..." His breath was speeding up. "He always moves where we can see him up there, so we know where he is."

Aaron finally got to answer Sammy. "I think he's hurt bad. He can't hardly move, and it's bleeding a lot. We need-"

"I'm fine!" James interrupted, more loudly.

Aaron whispered, "We should get the big kit down and bring it over."

"No. No. We're not supposed to." Jeffrey almost looked down to his shoes. "We always get Uncle. We're not supposed to touch the kits at all without him."

"We can help! James needs help as fast as we can, and if we get the kit Uncle can come-"

A gunshot.

They all sighed. James even let his precious shoe drop to the ground, held in only one hand. It was over. He was coming now.

Sammy walked over to James. "I can put your shoe under your bed." James smiled, and held it up to her. Everything would be alright.

Another gunshot.

Everyone froze.

Jeffrey's face went pale. "There's never two."

James hadn't shed a tear through anything before, not in front of everyone. He wouldn't cry in front of everyone. He started to cry now.

"There's never two." Aaron echoed.

" We've been here 93 days and it's always one. It is always one. Just one." Jeffrey was starting to shake.

"We have to do something."

"No! We're not supposed to!"

"Something is wrong, Jeffrey! We have to do it ourself!"

"We might make it worse! Something is wrong, and we might make it worse!" There was another gunshot. Jeffrey started to cry.

Sammy ran back over. "Don't yell!" she told them both.

Aaron took a deep breath. "We have to help ourselves. This is different. We can't wait."

"This is different." Sammy said. "Jeffrey, you remember what he does, right? You remember what Uncle does when there's blood. You remember all that stuff." She tried to hold onto his shoulders. She hated it when he started shaking like this. Her eyes started to feel wet.

"I remember what he pulls out. There's... uh... he uses..." he put his hands to his head. Another gunshot.

Sammy stepped back. She pushed her hands through the air, miming out what she'd watched Uncle do before. "You wipe it off with a clean... a clean one, then pour..."

They heard something new. Something was scratching at one of the walls outside. They all turned towards it. It was loud. It stopped for a second after another gunshot, but then it started again, at another spot.

"We gotta move James. We gotta get the big kit." Aaron said.

No one moved for a second.

"The room on the third floor." Sammy said.

They all took a step in a different direction, then they all hesitated.

"J-James first." Jeffrey said. "We can carry him up. Then the kit."



They all ran over together and lifted James up. Aaron and Sammy each took a shoulder and James pulled his knee to his chin with a groan. Jeffrey ran in front and held the doors open as they made their way to the stairs. They lurched up them, one by one. James slipped out of his curl, and his foot dragged against a stair. He howled. They limped into the room on the third floor and set James on a bed as slowly as they could. More gunshots.

"The kit." Jeffrey said. "We should both get it." Sammy hurried out the door and towards the kit. Aaron had started crying now. "I'll.. I'll help." Jeffrey ran after Sammy.

The big kit was heavy. The size of a suitcase and solid metal. More gunshots. More scratching. It took over a minute to wrestle the thing up one flight of stairs.

They set it down with a thud. Jeffrey opened it and pulled out what Uncle had always pulled out. Sammy grabbed some gauze and wiped off the blood. She held her hands in the air for a second. "You pour..." Jeffrey put the brown bottle in her hand. She poured it slowly over the wound, then wiped it off again. She pressed a fresh pad of gauze down. "...and you hold it. You hold it for a long time."

They held it on, until their arms were tired. They took turns. The gunshots had slowed, but they went on for what could've been hours to the four of them. Finally, they heard heavy footsteps, and a door opening. Their Uncle had forgotten where they would have gone, and they heard him storming around half the building. He finally ran in the door and stopped.

Sammy had been the last to cry, but Uncle had been the first. His collar was soaked, and he'd forgotten to wipe his face dry this time. He looked around at the children, and he smiled. They all kept crying, and smiled back.

Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012

The Treehouse Heist
1179 words

It was a slow day in the Treehouse Bank. Too slow for the liking of Sheriff Devin, who was closely watching the entrance to Garbage Can Valley down the barrel of his gigantic water cannon. It’d been difficult getting up the ladder into the bank while carrying the heavy weapon, but he felt the effort had been very much worth the while, as he could now rain long-range liquid destruction down on the bandits as they made their attack.

“What’s takin’ them so long,” grumbled Devin.

“They probably just want to see you sweat,” said Jenny. They’d arrived a few minutes ago, after being tipped off that Kate the Outlaw Queen and her Right-Hand Man Mikey were preparing an imminent heist on the Treehouse Bank. Finding the bank unstaffed, Sheriff Devin had stripped Jenny of her badge and neon green water pistol and demoted her from Deputy Sheriff to Junior Bank Teller. Jenny had been annoyed, but Devin was four years older and a lot bigger than she was, and he tended to get his way.

“Well, they should hurry up,” said Devin.

From the end of Garbage Can Valley, in the shadow of House Mountain, a high pitched voice broke out into song. Sheriff Devin immediately recognized the voice as belonging to his younger brother Mikey, who’d recently and tragically turned outlaw.

Sher-iff Devin is a poo-py butt,” came the song. “He eats his poop and he liiiiii-kes it.”

“That doesn’t even rhyme,” said Sheriff Devin through gritted teeth. Jenny stifled a giggle.

The Sher-iff is a wie-ner! The sher-iff is a butt-hole!

“That’s it,” said Sheriff Devin, purple with fury and moving for the ladder. “He’s dead.”

“It’s obviously a trap,” said Jenny, folding her arms. “They just want to get you down on their own ground, where they can shoot you up close.”

“Kate the Outlaw Queen is a girl--she can’t trap me. Besides, I’ve got this baby for close combat,” said Devin with a smirk, brandishing Jenny’s neon green water pistol before tucking it into his waistband.

“That’s my gun,” said Jenny. “What am I supposed to do if they sneak up the other way while you’re down there?”

“That’s why you’ve got those,” said Sheriff Devin, pointing to the red bucket in the corner. In it were two bright yellow water balloons. “Don’t miss.”

Sheriff Devin climbed down the ladder and strode confidently across the empty town square towards the entrance to Garbage Can Valley. “Why don’t you come out here and sing that song? Scared?”

A hand gripping an orange pistol poked around the side of the stones at the entrance to the valley, firing haphazardly and missing pitifully. Sheriff Devin laughed and returned fire, blasting a powerful geyser of deadly water from his cannon and dousing the whole area.

“Did I get ya?” called out Devin.

“Just my hand,” said Mikey, with a defiant tone in his voice.

“Well now you gotta use your left hand, your right hand is blowed off.”

Jenny watched from behind the railings of the treehouse. A flash of movement over by Spiderweb Canyon, on the other side of House Mountain from Garbage Can Valley, caught her attention. Jenny started to call out a warning, but Kate the Outlaw Queen moved like a grass snake, covering the distance between the end of the Canyon and the big planter on the edge of Town Square almost instantly. Taking deadly aim at the posturing Sheriff with her water pistol, Kate fired a tight grouping of shots before ducking behind the cover of the planter.

Jenny’s hands shot up to cover her mouth. Sheriff Devin, struck multiple times, let loose an animal roar. Twisting and turning as he fell to his knees, he tried to return fire but the blast of water from the cannon splashed harmlessly against the planter. The cannon fell limply from his fingers, and he lay face-down in the town square, his t-shirt soaked through.

“Gotcha,” said Kate, rising from behind the planter. Mikey emerged from Garbage Can Valley holding his pistol in his left hand, grinning triumphantly.

The outlaws moved carefully towards the Treehouse Bank, their pistols trained on the railings. “Come on out, Jenny,” said Kate as they approached. “We’ll make it quick.”

No response came from behind the wooden railings. Kate moved to the base of the ladder.

“Cover me -- you can’t climb the ladder with your hand like that,” said Kate, looking pointedly at Mikey’s wet right hand. Mikey nodded, scanning his pistol back and forth along the railing.

Kate climbed up with her pistol pointed ahead. The platform of the Treehouse Bank was empty, aside from the treasure: an old stuffed bear by the name of Mister Snuggles sat unguarded by a toppled red bucket. Kate grabbed it and moved back to the ladder. “Looks like she ran off,” said Kate, as she moved to hand Mister Snuggles down to Mikey.

A yellow water balloon soared through the air to glancingly burst against the top surface of the treehouse railing, spraying cold death across the platform floor of the Bank. Kate cried out and stumbled against the edge of the railing.

“I’m hit,” she croaked.

“How bad?” said Mikey, his voice high and squeaky.

“My legs,” said Kate, her teeth gritted. “Both of ‘em. Gone. You gotta go on without me.”

She let Mister Snuggles fall from her fingers. The precious treasure tumbled down the ladder to Mikey, who hugged it tightly to his chest with his pistol arm.

A second water balloon floated over the railing of the Bank for a direct hit, spraying water across every surface. Kate exhaled sharply as the frigid water drenched her. Her eyes closed softly.

From behind a bush, a streak of pink dashed across the square. Mikey squeezed off a few shots as Jenny sprinted by, but he couldn’t aim and hold the treasure at the same time with only one arm. Jenny reached Devin’s body and pulled her neon green pistol from his elastic waistband, dropping to one knee and firing back behind her. Mikey dove behind the cover of the tree, still clutching Mister Snuggles as water ricocheted off the bark of the tree near where he’d been standing a moment prior.

“You’re going to jail, Outlaw Mikey,” called out Jenny from across the square. “There’s no escape!”

“You’ll never take me alive, Deputy Jenny!”

“I reckon that’s Sheriff Jenny now,” said Jenny, sliding coolly into an old-timey drawl. “And if you’re fixin’ to die today --- well, let’s get on with it.”

Mikey looked down at the precious treasure gripped in his good arm. Mister Snuggles looked back with dark plastic eyes. He peeked around the side of the tree. It didn’t look too far to Garbage Can Valley. If he could just make it, he’d be home free. He’d be a hero. He dropped his gun -- it would only slow him down.

Mikey took three quick shallow breaths to psyche himself up. He charged out from behind the tree with a rebel yell, Mister Snuggles clutched tight against his chest.

The Saddest Rhino
Apr 29, 2009

Behold my brain the golden throne of my consciousness. In here I am seated. Shackled. From here I police the land.


The Saddest Rhino fucked around with this message at 04:31 on May 9, 2017

Dec 27, 2013

Big duck, little duck

1,183 words

Lilly didn’t mind going to her five-year-old sister’s beauty pageants, as long as she was allowed a little independence. She would happily pile into their van, filled to the brim with pink plastic garment bags, and pretend she was heading for a weekend getaway by herself. The days would be spent navigating through massive convention centers, the layouts of which Lilly would memorize so she could confidently walk alone between bathrooms, dressing rooms, and vending machines. Then she would pour over maps of the surrounding city. Once the competition was over, Lilly would always proudly direct them back to their hotel and recommend the nearest take-out place. Most of all, Lilly loved bedtime. After every competition, her sister insisted on sleeping with Mom. This arrangement meant Lilly would get to dig her toes into the tucked-in edges of her own, enormous, double-sized bed.

So, on one such weekend, in the corner of a tight dressing room, Lilly sat on the floor studying a map of downtown Memphis. Sammy, her sister, perched on a swivel chair, legs swinging back and forth as she practiced smiling in the mirror. Mom was stationed right behind Sammy, making minute adjustments to her tight blond curls and furiously spraying hairspray.

Just as Mom raised the bottle again, her cell phone vibrated on the make-up counter, kicking up a cloud of glitter. She picked it up and, after a few curt words, squatted down to Lilly.

“Lilly, honey, Mommy has to take care of business. I need you to walk Sammy out to the stage. Can you do that?”

Before Lilly could answer, Mom rose up and stormed out the door, heatedly whispering into the phone. Lilly looked up at her little sister, whose legs had stopped swinging. She got up from the floor and carefully lifted Sammy down from the swivel chair. Holding hands loosely, Lilly led them out of the dressing room and into the wings of the stage.

They fell in line behind another child with her mom. A spindly man in a black t-shirt and black pants held a clipboard, checking everyone’s name before ushering them onstage. When they got to the front of the line, the man peered down at the pair of small girls from his clipboard. He squatted down to Sammy and smiled through long, yellow teeth.

“Hello, dear. What’s your name?”

Sammy frowned at him and stepped behind Lilly.

“I want Mommy,” Sammy whispered from behind Lilly. Lilly gave her hand a gentle squeeze.

“Her name’s Samantha Whittaker,” Lilly said.

He squinted at his list. “Says here her mom is the chaperone. You don’t look like her mom to me,” He chuckled and scratched her name off the list.

Lilly heard a small sniffle behind her and turned to see Sammy’s lower lip puffing out.

“I want Mommy,” Sammy repeated. She was heading for a meltdown. Lilly quickly turned back to the man.

“How much longer until she goes?” She asked.

“They’re just about to call her name now,” The man smiled wider and stood up, so he was towering over them again.

Lilly’s thoughts raced: There wasn’t enough time to find Mom, so she would have to fix this herself. She turned to Sammy, whose eyes were filling with tears as she stared up at the creepy man.

“Um,” Lilly started, “Mom will be back soon. Good luck… and you’ll do great!” She nodded definitively and pulled Sammy in for a limp, awkward hug. As Lilly let go, the man put his hand on Sammy’s back and gently pushed her up the stairs and onto the stage.

Now glittering under the bright stage lights, Sammy looked back at Lilly, who gave her two thumbs up and another nervous smile. Sammy’s eyes darted to the man, who smiled again and wiggled his long fingers at her.

Sammy looked out into the audience, inhaled sharply, and burst into tears. She dove backstage, zoomed past Lilly, dodged the weird man, and careened through the dark hallway. Lilly chased after her and ran into an unfamiliar corridor flanked with large wooden doors. She nervously looked around and, spotting a door closing down the hall, bolted into it.

Inside was a long table with wheeled chairs lined up around it. Lilly listened intently and heard sniffling. Still panting, she bent down, hands on her knees, and looked under the table.
She found Sammy curled up by one of the thick table legs, her face buried in her knees. Lilly’s stomach clenched with anger.

“Why did you take off like that?” Lilly shouted, “Mom’s gonna kill you!”

“I want Mommy!” Sammy screamed back, still clenching her knees to her face.

“Why? When she gets back, she’s gonna be so mad that you ran off!” Realization dawned on Lilly. “She’s gonna blame me for this! Ugh!”

Sammy let out a huge sob in response. Lilly stood up and banged her fists on the top of the table.

“You’re such a baby!” Lilly yelled from above the table.

Lilly heard Sammy’s crying intensify. The helpless sound of her little sister weeping made the anger drain from Lilly. She slumped forward onto the table and held her head in her hands, releasing the rest of her frustration in a final, audible sigh. Her nose started to sting, and tears welled up. Both the sisters let defeat wash over them, Lilly on top of the table, and Sammy underneath. For a moment, they cried soundlessly together.

Lilly wiped her nose on her sleeve and lifted her head up. She let out another sigh and knelt down under the table. Careful not to bump her head, Lilly crawled over to her sister.

“I’m sorry for yelling,” Lilly said softly, “and calling you a baby.”

Sammy lifted her head up slightly.

“I got nervous,” Sammy mumbled. Tears threatened to pour out again.

Lilly reached an arm out to rub her sister’s back.

“Everyone gets nervous sometimes. It’s okay,” Lilly said.

“Not you,” Sammy wiped her eyes, smudging mascara everywhere, “You always do everything by yourself.”

Lilly took a moment to think. “Well,” she bit the inside of her lip, “Maybe now I do, but that’s because I’m six years older than you. When I was five, I never did anything like this.”

“Really?” Sammy looked over at her sister.

“Of course,” Lilly laughed, “I would have been way too nervous to get up onstage in front of hundreds of people. I cried every time I had to leave Mom to go to kindergarten!”

“You did?” Sammy giggled.

“Yeah, and I never went anywhere unless I was holding Mom’s hand,” Lilly pulled her sister close to her, “even to the bathroom." They both giggled together. "You’re way braver than I was.”

Sammy gave her sister a warm hug.

“Can we stay under here a little longer?” Sammy asked.

Lilly smiled and nodded. For a few more minutes the girls stayed in their fortress, laughing at what used to scare them. They both emerged confidently from under the table, and that night, Lilly didn’t even mind sharing a bed with her brave little sister.


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.
The Percussionists

Lego Set: Saber Island

1090 words

The 1977 performance of the 1812 orchestra at Fort Mason Elementary school would, according to the announcement and unlike the previous year's bicentennial celebration, be performed without the use of the cannon in the actual Fort Mason. This struck Adam Greer and his friends as an injustice of the first order. When asked, Mr. Dole the music teacher explained that they would instead cue up a recording of cannon-fire for those parts of the piece. Unacceptable. At this point, Adam reasoned and found not a word of dissent, they might as well play a recording of the entire concert. A plan was rapidly conceived, gestated, and hatched.

“Y'know,” said Martin as they quietly walked up the hill to the fort, “They used to have cannons in all of the classical pieces.”

“Was not,” said Alice. Sneaking away had been easy enough, since the three were well known to be inseparable while their parents were anything but.

“No, really,” continued Martin, pushing his glasses up his nose. “They had to stop because they were fighting Napoleon and the army needed all the gunpowder for the wars. So all of the cannon players just had to sit around and watch until somebody invented the triangle to give them something to do.”

“We're here,” said Adam. The old fort wasn't much, just one small room to hold the old cannon, floor and partial walls in large gray stone. Alice set her flashlight down where it lit the cannon, and they got to work. Adam put down his backpack, opened it up, and pulled out a plastic tube.

“What's that?” asked Alice.

“A Pipe bomb,” said Adam. “My big brother makes them by taking apart M-80s.”

“What?” said Alice.

“Why?” said Martin at the same time. “He's not going to go crazy and blow up the town, is he?”

“Nah,” said Adam. “He uses them for fishing. Drop one in the pond and a dozen trout float to the surface.”

“That can't possibly be legal,” said Alice.

“It's not the heat that kills them,” said Martin.

“So what, the shock wave?” said Adam.

“No, it's the noise from the explosion,” said Martin. “It makes the fish go deaf, and then they can't hear their heart beat. They use their heart rhythm to remind them when to breathe, so when they go deaf they forget to and suffocate and die.”

Adam carefully unscrewed the end of the pipe and poured the black powder into the cannon barrel. “Really?” he said.

“Yeah,” said Martin. “Fish are pretty stupid.”

“Hey, Martin,” said Alice, “Go get us a cannonball.” She pointed at the pyramid of ammunition stacked beside the cannon. “Unless it's too heavy for you to lift.”

“I can lift one cannonball, easy,” said Martin. He walked to the pile and grabbed the top ball, then struggled to move it.

“You sure?” said Alice. Adam yanked the fuse from the empty pipe-bomb and worked it into the cannon's firing mechanism, keeping busy to keep from laughing. Martin continued to strain.

“Come on, put your back in it,” said Alice. Martin continued to strain, and she final started to giggle.

“What'” said Martin.

“They're welded together,” said Adam.

“I knew that,” said Martin. “I was just testing you. So what are we going to use?”

Adam opened his backpack wider. There were half a dozen balls in there, of various size. “We don't need a metal ball, not really. Just something the right size, to make sure it makes the boom.” He found a red rubber ball that fit down the cannon without too much room on the sides, and they waited, listening to the distant music from down the hill.

The ending came soon enough. “Light the fuse,” said Alice.

Adam was groping through his backpack. “I can't find the matches,” he said.

Alice handed him a cigarette lighter. “You'd be completely lost without me, wouldn't you?”

Adam lit the fuse. It burned quickly and loudly, into the metal innards of the cannon. They all clapped hands over heads. For a few seconds, nothing happened at all. Then, rather than a boom, a loud 'fwissh' noise came from the cannon. A huge gout of flame erupted from the cannon's working end. The rubber ball came out with it, with barely enough force to clear the barrel. The ball, melting and burning with pungent smoke, rolled slowly across the stone floor.

It rolled in Martin's direction. He yelped, turned and ran straight into the fortress wall. He didn't hit his face, not hard, just banged his leading hand into the stone, but he started to cry. Adam could see and smell the real reason for Martin's breakdown. His best friend had just pissed himself.

The ball had stopped, and was burning itself harmlessly in place. Adam was sure they weren't going to burn to death, probably weren't even going to get caught. But he knew his friend. He knew that a humiliation like that, at his age, in front of his friend and the only girl in school who'd talk to either one of them, he knew it could end everything. That Martin would resent him forever. So he did what he had to, and let loose his own bladder. “Dang it!” he said, then looked at Martin. “You too?”

Martin stopped crying, then smiled weakly. Alice sighed. “Let's get out of here quickly,” she said. “I can get you some pants. Go the the park restrooms and wait for me.”

“How?” asked Adam.

“I live like a block away from here. My brothers used to be your sizes, and my mom never throws anything away. I won't be able to get underwear, though, so you'll have to make it home commando.”

“How do you know I'm not going commando now?” asked Martin.

“Your waistband was showing on the way up,” said Alice. “Thank goodness it was there.”

Adam and Martin watched the ball burn out before walking to the restrooms.

“I guess Alice is braver than the both of us,” said Adam.

“What?” said Martin. “Oh, no. Girls don't pee when they're scared like guys. On account of they've got a whole different set of parts down there.”

Of all the things Martin had said, Adam found this the least believable. “What do you mean, different parts?”

“Oh boy,” said Martin, “Have I got a lot to tell you.”

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