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  • Locked thread
Apr 10, 2013

you guys made me ink!

In, and please give me a flash rule.


Sep 14, 2010


That's just a bullshit word.
in and please flash rule me thank u (kissyface)

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe

Deltasquid posted:

In, and please give me a flash rule.

Your fight occurs on unstable ground.

GenJoe posted:

in and please flash rule me thank u (kissyface)

There is a great disparity in the size of at least two of your combatants.

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.
In and I'll take both a flash rule and a classic fight.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart

Erogenous Beef posted:

In:toxx:icated by the violence.

:toxx:ing because it's god-damned time and I'm not backing down on this SELF FLASH RULE: Pectorals wriggling with fury.

Sep 14, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Thranguy posted:

In and I'll take both a flash rule and a classic fight.

Your story must include a volleyball net.

Erogenous Beef posted:

:toxx:ing because it's god-damned time and I'm not backing down on this SELF FLASH RULE: Pectorals wriggling with fury.

I am accepting your flash rule but I am adding an addendum:

Pectorals wriggling with fury

Apr 11, 2012
In. I'll take either a flash rule or a classic fight.

Sep 14, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Flesnolk posted:

In. I'll take either a flash rule or a classic fight.

and you should toxx up

Mar 21, 2010

The formatting is fucky so I docs'd it.

Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit

Fun Shoe
Aaaaaaand, it's gone!

Chili fucked around with this message at 11:39 on Jan 2, 2018

Apr 22, 2008

In. :toxx:

Sep 14, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Chili posted:

What am I? Chopped Chili?


Let's not kid ourselves, you're all fighting for my throne. And the Beef is Supreme.


In space, no one can hear you cry softly into your Cocoa Puffs
1374 words

“My wife loves these little bird figurines,” Chuck said through a mouthful of peanuts. His jaw pumped up and down, pulverizing peanuts, and little pieces of peanut shrapnel flew out of his open lips. “Buys them all the time. Buys em online, looks for them when she shops, asks for them for her birthday. Doesn’t matter what kind of bird—bluejay, raven, cardinal, pidgeon—she’s covered our shelves with them.” Chuck grabbed another handful of peanuts from the jar in front of him and stuffed it in his mouth, filling his cheeks like a squirrel. “Only problem is, those little buggers are expensive. Normally I wouldn’t mind, wouldn’t say anything—you know how women can be, right? But she buys so drat many of them.

“Are you even listening to me, Kevin?” Chuck waved at the robot currently sweeping in the corner. The robot, a standard cleaning robot, did not react to Chuck’s wave, nor to any of his words. Chuck plucked a few peanuts from the jar and threw them at the robot. The peanuts skittered along the floor and landed a few feet from the robot, who immediately turned, chased them down, and swept them into the opening on the front of its body. “You are a focused individual, Kevin, that’s for sure,” Chuck mumbled as he chomped on the last few pieces of peanut in his mouth. He reached for more, but the jar was empty.


Chuck sat in front of his nav console, checking the trajectory for his latest trip to Merton Station, a couple of warp jumps out past the Alpha Centauri system. He was carrying equipment—mining gear, construction rigs, all manner of robots—to the station, one of the great quarries for rare elements in the GalStar Intergalactic Commerce Network. Space trucking was a good living, if you could handle the long journeys, the lack of human contact, and the emptiness of space.

A sudden bump rattled the chair underneath Chuck, startling him. He panicked, terrified something had just struck the ship mid-flight. Deflector shields were good at their job, so for anything to rattle the chair like that meant it was big. He hurriedly switched over to the diagnostics screen, looking for damage, but found nothing. In fact, the screen showed no contact of any kind, not even to the shields.


Chuck snapped around, and there was the cleaning robot, sweeping the cockpit. Chuck slumped into his chair and sighed loudly in relief. He took a big bite of beef jerky. “Dammit, Kevin, I told you not to sneak up on me.”

He turned back to the console, and resumed checking the nav charts for the current route. Space trucking was all about risk management, and currently, there was a geomagnetic storm causing havoc up ahead. He was presented with two options: wait out the storm, or take a little-used detour around it. It would save him over a week, but it was risky in it’s own right—the celestial movement along that path was relatively unpredictable, thanks to some weird gravitational effects, and it was a high traffic zone for asteroid fields.


A message popped up on his nav screen. It was from his wife.


“Dammit,” he said through strings of teriyaki beef. “She knows I hate being called that.”

I wish you’d come home sooner. I know it’s good money, but your trips are so long. Things are going well down here. I’ve been going to that spin class I told you about, it’s good. The teacher is nice. He’s this young guy who just graduated college, he’s really into fitness.

Chuck looked at the message in horror, then at his reflection in the window. His hairline was disappearing faster than the stars outside, and his torso pushed against the sides of the pilot’s chair. He looked back at the message, his eyes wide and dilated.

I’ve been meaning to tell you, but I wasn’t sure how to say this. I’m going to stay with my mother. You’re gone so long on your trips, I just get so lonely. I’ll probably be there when you get back, so come find me.


P.S. Thanks for sending that check. It came a week later than I was expecting, and I missed a couple of megasales on some figurines I was wanting, so I had to buy them at full price. I put some pictures below!

Chuck did not scroll down to see the pictures. Instead, he shoved several more pieces of jerky into his maw, and began chewing vigorously. “Detour it is.”


The alarm blared in his ear, and Chuck awoke violently. He looked around rapidly, looking for danger. After a few seconds, the alarm died out, and the dulcet tones of Alan Jackson came streaming from his clock radio.

So, thank God for the radio
When I'm on the road
When I'm far from home
And feelin' blue

Thank God for the radio
Playin' all night long
Playin' all the----

Chuck’s hand slammed down on the alarm. He rubbed his eyes and sat up in his bed. The air cycler whirred to life above his head, and the persistent rattling in the ducts that had been bothering him for weeks came with it. He slipped his feet into his slippers, pulled his robe on, and walked down the hall to kitchen. He grabbed a bowl, poured cereal and milk into it, and carried it to the cockpit so he could check their progress.

The light on the top of the nav console blinked a bright red at a steady pace. That meant something unexpected had happened, though nothing worth an alarm. Maybe an unidentified object, passing traffic, or a weather alert. Outside his window, he saw nothing but stars. He pulled up the message on his screen.


Chuck took a bite of Cocoa Puffs. “Orbital trajectory…?” Chuck looked up out of the window again, and still, nothing but stars. He sat down and took a few more bites. With one hand he opened the nav chart, and immediately saw the problem. A super-dense planet had strayed from it’s orbit, and in so doing had pulled Chuck and his truck from their path and into a low orbit. Still, he couldn’t see the planet outside his window, so he pulled up the video screen, and flipped through cameras. And there it was. A swirl of brown and tan filled the frame of the camera facing out the bottom of the ship. “Uh oh.”

Luckily, the ship had been able to stabilise itself and maintain orbit, rather than being pulled down into the strong gravitational field of the planet. Chuck knew how to fix this: a boost of speed and an adjustment to his trajectory and he could pull up out of orbit and away from the planet.

He set the cereal on the floor next to him, opened the control console, and entered several engine commands. He checked his numbers against the data from the nav screen, then hit execute.

A jolt of power from the engines surged through the ship, and he could feel the deck straining underneath him. He watched the nav screen closely. The engines continued to fire.

Nothing. The ship’s path did not deviate one degree from its orbit. He tried a second sequence, with a few alterations. Nothing. A third, still nothing.

Chuck sat there silently. The stars outside the window continued to slide by, a cruel mockery of forward progress. After a few minutes, Chuck opened a message window, and fired off a request to GalStar Towing. He picked up his cereal and stared at the screen. GalStar was notorious for their slow responses. It would be at least a few days, maybe more.

The cleaning robot rolled into the room and headed straight for a small puddle of milk that had splashed while Chuck was trying to pull them from orbit. Chuck reached down and patted its head, then shoveled a few spoonfuls of milk and imitation chocolate into his mouth.

“Looks like it’s just you and me for a while, Kevin.”

The robot swept a few dusty spots, then rolled back down the hall.

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

you don't find a style

a style finds you


Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
BLOOD WEEK (232) CRITS PART 3/???????

yeah, just posting more of these because I'm a slow trash mammal. I'm down to the last few, which should be up soon, but I figure I'd toss these ones out there b/c I've just been sitting on them as I try to finish.


Your sins: Well, if you listened to the recap episode, you pretty much know all of the issues with this story. But here they are for posterity.

Right out of the gate, your first paragraph is confusing:


The axe lands heavy across his neck with a wet, ripping sound. Momentum buries it deep until it strikes bone and sends a familiar vibration up Aegar's arm. The man folds downward into the sand, but before he falls his free hand reaches up and grasps the axe handle. A futile gesture. The blood loss is immediate and intense. He dies with a sigh on the black sand of this foreign beach.

You need to establish that there are two people before you describe who's doing what. At first I thought the person getting an axe to the neck was the protagonist.

But so, the rest of the fight sequence is fine enough. I personally have trouble connecting to a story that drops me straight into :black101: BATTLE :black101: because like, most battle scenes are more or less identical. There's some raaawwwr, there's some blargh, there's stabbing and chopping. Eventually someone wins and someone loses and a lot of people are dead. It's generally context that makes a battle interesting, but this story doesn't give much of that.

So okay, the battle ends and Aegar, being a kind of old dude who just got disemboweled, is laying around waiting to die. None of this is super offensive, but I'm still not finding much to connect with. I have no sense of Aegar as a person outside of this moment you're showing us. I guess in a distant way I'm...well, I'm not sad he's dying, but I sort of agree with Aegar that his situation is very terminal and lovely. Well, I assume that's how he feels. We don't get a whole lot of insight into his head, except that he doesn't want to die and turn into a viking zombie.

The ending is both coherent and nonsensical. I don't know the significance of the runes, don't know why Aegar reacts the way he does. I like to think he has undiagnosed hyperacusis. That would be kind of a neat way to put an unexpected twist on a viking story. In reality, I think he's just pissed and irrational because he's rapidly dying of inside-out stomach. I have no clue how medically feasible it is to walk when you've been disemboweled, let alone push a boulder on someone, but why the hell not, I guess.

I think the ending is supposed to signify that Aegar has embraced the futility of his final moments, but resolved to tell his own story anyway since, what the hell, the other guy seemed to think it was worth doing. That's kind of all I can squeeze out of this. Beyond that, it doesn't seem to have a point. Which is what caught the judges' attention. The writing isn't bad, but the more I think about it, the less I'm sure why this story exists. I can't really grasp what you, the author, intended when you set out this write it. Not that there always has to be a "point" or whatever. But if there isn't a point, then the prose or events should be completely captivating, but they weren't that, either. So I dunno.

Six Portraits of Negative Space

Your sins: The first two sections hum along really well. I'm interested in the people and the mystery, and none of the prose drags. I think it was the third section where things first wobble. It's not poorly written, but it dragged on and on. Like, nothing interesting enough happened on Maggie and Finn's dates. The closest nod to real intrigue is the old woman who wanders up to them briefly, since my brain wants to connect her to events in the later part of the story. Oh, and the magical bracelet that I honestly overlooked until it came up in the very last section. I think it's because it's in the very end of the very last paragraph of the seven dates section, and by then I was kind of skimming because I was getting bored.

But what really bothers me is how mature Maggie and Finn are about their relationship prospects. I could've bought them agreeing to strict rules about heavy petting, but the whole "we're doomed, lets just be a fond memory for each other" thing was too much. I think you could've have one or the other of those things, but having both is kind of overkill. Of the first three sections, this one does the least. I wanted to learn more about Finn, tbh, especially having already read the story.

Jenny's sister's section is pretty good. Her voice is distinct from the others and her perspective gives a nice top-down look on the possible connections between events in the town. It does a pretty good job of pointing out details that might not seem relevant to the character, but the reader can glean some things.

The scene with the old woman's monologue was interesting, and confirmed something not-quite-normal was going on. I was left wondering if she was meant to be the old lady who wandered up to Maggie and Finn on their date, since clearly she lives near enough by to talk to Jenny's sister. I think? And since the time periods don't really match up, we're left to assume that the uh, old lady lived preternaturally long? Or she's actually crazy but is inadvertently picking up on some hidden line of devil-serving vampire fairy things (???)?

The final scene is the most frustrating. The way the story comes back to Maggie makes me feel like I should know/like her character better by this point. The stuff with the bracelet felt tacked on even though you mentioned it early on. I appreciate how the story kind of just shows the reader some possible clues and lets me try to sort out the truth for myself, but there still wasn't enough of an on-ramp to those bracelet shenanigans. And the very last few paragraphs felt completely compressed, like you got sick of writing the story or something. I hate to assume what's in the author's head, but I was really perplexed when I hit the end of the story. Like, I'm not even super sure what Thom's deal was. He seemed concerned the Finn had...what? Made Maggie into a fairy vampire (??) thing?

I kinda get it. Whatever Thom and Finn are part of, it's only just barely brushed against this ordinary town full of ordinary lives. And we're seeing that fact through the eyes of people who can't know what the reader knows, so they're not going to connect the dots. So, in a way, the ending feels too overt and blatant. It's like the climax to a longer story that's had more time to build up to that confrontation, the moment where magic and evil show their faces.

You Can't Enter Heaven Until I Enter You

Your sins: Your stories are always hard for me to crit because I usually just kind of sit back and let them happen to me. I enjoyed this entry into the saga of BJ/Seb/Xavier, though I think someone who hadn't read the other story (and who doesn't know the inspirations behind the story) might be left feeling a little confounded. But gosh, this has everything doesn't it? I legitimately lol'd at the flashback fakeout. Everything about this story would be at home in, IDK, a cartoon in the Adult Swim lineup.

Actual critiques: I feel like Xavier doesn't get much screen time early on. It's weird that he doesn't say anything to Sebastian at first, considering how their last encounter ended. I could've used a bit more description of the setting. It feels very much like people moving around in empty white space. Your characters are really, uh, animated, and so it's good that the focus is on them, but I had trouble placing them in space. Basically, I think you could clarify the blocking a bit better, which would make the scene more fun since I wouldn't be pausing to make sure I'm parsing things correctly.

I know that these stories are mostly you riffing on stuff that you find funny, but I actually...liked Black Jesus's plan? Like, BJ is definitely not above being uuuh a bit crass and bawdy at times, but he's still a legit good guy (which is good thing, given he's the son of god). It's hard to write schlocky cartoon craziness like this and still have your messiah character come across as fundamentally good. It would be super easy to write a cynical Jesus, so I'm glad you decided not to come at it that way. I think your stories are definitely going to appeal most to people who share your sense of humor, but I've always liked how they're over the top without being mean-spirited. I also really like your exploration of love between dudebros.

While I think you'd have difficulty publishing this outside of Thunderdome, I do hope to see more of the adventures of Sebastian and Xavier someday!

When It Raines, It Pours

Your sins: Okay, well, first of all, we kinda have to take the protagonist's word for it that he's acting out of brotherly love and not, you know, another kind of love. I'm not usually in the business of pointing at stories and accusing them of uh, social taboos, but this one is weird. I think the reason the brother/sister dynamic doesn't work is...well, Iselle barely shows up! So all we see is her brother's obsessive and violent rescue effort. When you have a guy trying to rescue a girl without much context, the reader is probably going to assume it's because she is the romantic "prize" that he "gets" at the end, because that's how stories have been structured for a really really long time. You didn't show any of the relationship between Lucas and Iselle, so there's nothing to differentiate it from other "guy rescues girl, they ride off into the sunset" stories.

I don't actually think that you meant this story to be about romantic sibling love, but their relationship was so poorly characterized that it wasn't satisfying as a motive.

The action itself is okay. Too bad I don't really care about action. I mean, your blocking isn't terrible, but after a while I get sick of watching a cooldude relentlessly dispatch minions like something out of Hotline Miami. Like, take this blocking and description and put it in a story with characters who interact meaningfully with each other.

There's like...a thin veneer of commentary on, IDK, fake decadent rich Hollywood people. That aspect of it didn't do much for me either. Lucas is kind of smug and cynical, but he doesn't say or think anything particularly new and cool. I was like, okay, people are rich. And also sometimes bad. Also sometimes in Hollywood.

The ending line made me kind of mad, cause it's like, "Oho, that Iselle, always getting in trouble!" when we really haven't seen her do much of anything. Then I considered that the "destruction" that follows Iselle around is actually Lucas himself, much to her chagrin. I could see a scenario where he sees his super cool action guy antics are totally necessary, but in reality Iselle is perfectly capable of looking after herself. In that case, the closing line of the story would be kind of funny and ironic. But that's a stretch, because it's not really what the story did.

If you haven't listened to the recap episode for this week, we also talk about your story in depth there, too!


Your sins: I think the other judges compared this to Stephen King's Needful Things. I can certainly see that, but I will defend this piece because I think it completely did its own thing. The idea of a mysterious shop that appears out of nowhere and sells something whimsical, magical, or metaphorical certainly isn't a new one. One of my favorite books when I was a little kid, Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher, used a similar thing. It's a good, easy way to get something extraordinary into the hands of someone ordinary. A shop is supposed to be a trustworthy thing, after all.

Anyway. Onto the story itself. I liked it enough that it was easy to read through it, even though I was pretty sure how it was going to go from the moment Finn decided to take Kip's items. There was always going to be a catch, so all of the intrigue in this story comes from finding out how that catch works out for Finn. The macabre option was for Finn to slowly go insane as he continued taking money in exchange for shouldering terrible emotional burdens. You went for the more lighthearted approach, which gave Finn a second chance to choose peace of mind over material comfort.

I was left with an ambiguous feeling at the end of the story. One thing that is never really explained by the story is the money. Like, does the store magically generate enough money to make the items enticing to new "victims" of the store? Or is the money siphoned back out of the comfortable life Finn made for himself with the cash from Kip? It's a small point, but it changes the stakes of the story. If Finn gets to keep his fancy couch and coat and TV and etc when he takes over Teddy's, then the story is kind of too good to be true. Not only are all of his debts paid, he has the opportunity to divest himself of the hand-me-down anxiety.

I think I would like this story a bit more if Finn's choices seemed a little more difficult. I don't think you needed to make Teddy's/Kip more sinister. I think this story needed more information about Finn. There aren't a whole lot of particulars in this piece. It's like, Finn is a poor guy, but then he gets rich and it's good! Except having money comes with a price, and that's bad. Finn himself isn't really important to the narrative, beyond being the guy who stuff was happening to. You could've created tension by giving him some personal MO that had nothing to do with Teddy's initially, and then comes into conflict with the shop as the situation escalates.

Your descriptions are all good, but sometimes the language is a little bit too...on the nose? But in like, really small, subtle ways. I'll give one example:


But tonight, Finn noticed an alley he hadn’t noticed before. Had it always glowed blue like that?

I dunno, I think you could've zazzed this up a bit. Plus, the "had it always [done blatantly magical thing]???" It's the kind of question the narrative asks when the writer isn't sure that the reader is gonna 'get' what's going on. If you give a bit more textured description, you won't need to point at stuff in your story and go BOY THAT SURE IS WEIRD HUH


Your sins: I liked this story a lot, though mostly for the ending.

I find your narrator's insights into this human woman a little unlikely. That it deduced her gender and her emotional states seems kind of incredible, but I guess I'm not an alien expert. I thought the "just like you and me" and "just like anyone else" was a little overkill. It's like, haha look what a normal, average dude this bug alien is!! The hoo-mon is the weird one! But the voice is tolerable so I forgave it.

There were other odd things, like when the alien talks about movies. I guess it would be awkward for you to come up with a movie analogue that was arbitrarily called something else, so I get it. I guess you could've just not used that particular idea to illustrate your point. There's just a liiiittle too much obvious parity drawn between the narrator and the 'alien'.

The math part, as you already know, genuinely made me laugh. I imagine that is exactly what would happen in reality, since most people probably aren't equipped to communicate much via numbers except "hey, I know basic math!" It seems true to how this kind of encounter would go in reality.

I like the story best once the characters are actively working together in real time rather than musing on similarities/differences. The whole thing with the hydraulics and the collapsing bulkhead was pleasantly plausible, though I kind of wish the story had mentioned the door earlier on? You could've done neat metaphor things with it, maybe had the door stand for the fundamental communication issues between your characters. Maybe that's what you were going for, but as it is, the story feels backloaded.

I did feel for your bug person, though. I thought the detail about how they felt alone but would feel even more alone if the human died was well observed. The last paragraph landed pretty nicely IMO. The desire to be understood, to cross the boundaries that separates people of all kinds, is something that resonates with me pretty deeply.

Sitting Here fucked around with this message at 04:25 on Mar 4, 2017

Mar 21, 2013

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Bad Seafood
Dec 10, 2010

If you must blink, do it now.
In like Errol Flynn.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
well i guess i gotta be in

Sep 14, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


Sitting Here posted:

well i guess i gotta be in

+250 words granted given completion of brawl judging.

Sep 14, 2007

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome

Sign-ups are closed. Get to the punching.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Chilibeefmuffin brawl results!

As usual, I'm not totally decided on this as I start typing this post. All three pieces had things I like, but they also had deep flaws that made me frown.


Well of course this was pretty, you're Muffin. I'm really really sorry that your poetic skills are probably being wasted on me. I enjoyed the structure of your story though, even if poetry isn't in my wheelhouse. It was charitable of you to not make me read *only* poetry.

Okay so lets take a look at what's actually going on in this piece. The core events in this story are...two guys meet for what should be a fling, but it turns into something more. The riff on half-deaths says that perhaps this relationship stagnated, but these lovers can't bring themselves to break out of the cycle they've created for themselves. I can see why you opted to do a sestina; the structure is very spiral-like, which is appropriate because this piece has a very brooding, ruminating feel to it. I liked that the 'gravity' was pure metaphor, even if that metaphor was perhaps a bit on the nose. On the other hand, i can't complain too much about its on-the-noseness because love and gravity to tend to have the same effect on human bodies. You fall in love, you drift closer and closer until you're in low orbit. Then that love loses its luster, but you are still stuck in that low orbit and your fuel has been drained by, i dunno, apathy or hopelessness. Getting out of "orbit" would change the status quo beyond what you can imagine, so it's hard to muster up the energy to do so. So the metaphor was solid, and had some nice dimension to it.

On the other, you couldn't have known this, but I was really hoping for more of an exploration of the actual relationship between your characters, and not so much a riff on love/monogamy itself. Poetry and poetic prose is hard for me because, as a reader, I want to connect with characters who are doing things in real time on the page. I want to see this relationship's trajectory, want to watch it spiral down the gravity well from which there is no escape.

This piece makes me feel:


You naughty person, you used a lot of words to show the meet cute part of the relationship! A better move would've been to condense your first scene down to, I dunno, a paragraph of snappy exposition. I was more interested in reading about a long term relationship already in progress. On the other hand, this story did hit some emotionally true notes for me. I once dated a blundering goofball for a couple years, and this piece reminded me a lot of that relationship. It takes a lot to love someone who seems to run into trouble again and again, regardless of what that trouble is. Especially when you're watching them do something that, to you, seems impossibly painful. It helps that Wes and Jeremy are very likable. That makes me want to cheer them on.

On the otherrrr hand...


“This is what I want; I like what I do! And look, I’m not gonna be anything less than honest with you here fun-size. Boyfriends have brought this up before. That’s always when this poo poo starts to end. I fall down for a living. As far as I know, no one else in the world does that. That’s why I’m so loving awesome. And you’re so loving awesome because not only are you gonna cure cancer someday but for whatever reason, my life choices don’t bother you. I never gave you crap for not joining the NBA, and you never gave me crap for not being normal. We work well together.”

Okay, I wish you'd taken all the words used to describe their meeting/falling for each other and used them to expand on what I quoted above.

The ending made me happy, but left me with some questions. So Wes is going to get out of the falling down game for good, which Jeremy should be happy about and supportive of. And he pretty much is supportive. But am I supposed to walk away from this piece with the assumption that Wes is going to put on one last gig? I mean, there is a point where even a guy who can't feel pain probably needs to count his blessings and give up his act, and I felt like, by the end Wes was at that point. There's no real reason for Jeremy to come around and approve of Wes's antics at that particular time, so the tickets end up feeling like kind of a saccharine gesture because you needed a way to punctuate your story. It's a thing I've noticed tends to happen at the end of feel good stories; you've got the reserved person and the free spirited person, and the reserved person eventually comes to see the free spirited person's point of view because uuuuuh that's how feel good stories work. People come out of their shells, conservative dads come to understand their kids' new-fangled ways, the introvert becomes a gregarious social butterfly. Doctors decide to suddenly enable their boyfriends' dangerous occupation. I dunno, maybe I'm too much of a cynic, but I often find there isn't a whole lot to explain *why* the reserved character has a change of heart.

But like I said, Wes and Jeremy are likable, which is what carries this story for the most part.

This piece makes me feel:


So, this story started out the most promising of the three IMO. You gave me a dogeared, worn-in relationship, and that's what i wanted. I instantly got the sense of who these two people were to each other. Though I will say, Chuck was characterized a lot more charitably than Janelle. He was the trucker out risking his life and bringing home the money, she was the petty wife with a bad shopping habit. The fact that she explicitly talks about the cute fitness instructor just makes her seem super ungrateful. Which, shallow, ungrateful wives exist, but in fiction, we read stories to connect with the characters. And like, I don't need her to be a good person to connect with her. I just need her to be a more unique, interesting person than she is. I'm wondering if you were doing a similar thing to what Muffin did, which is using the gravity/love metaphor to show how like...not only is Chuck caught in the orbit of this random planet, but also the decaying orbit of his marriage. Which would be fine, but I think Janelle should've been fleshed out a little better even so.

What really annoyed me was the ending! he's just stuck, and resigned to waiting. Just like he's stuck with a partner who maybe doesn't appreciate him as much as she could. I dunno. i was surprised by where the story stopped, because I feel like it could've gone on a beat longer and given more of a sense of resolution.

There were a lot of good details, and maybe a few more technical details than was necessary. I especially liked Chuck's interaction with his cleaning robot, and the sheer banality of him blearily eating cereal as he deals with spaceship stuff. This was very much a 20th/21st century story kind of draped over a scifi story. Which isn't a complaint! I just wish you'd gone a bit further, showed some kind of meaningful change.

This piece makes me feel: Some combination of



Ummm IDK, all of these made me feel different things and, as I said, I liked/disliked a roughly equal number of things about each piece.

Oh uuh i really have to choose?


I am not usually a stickler for prompt adherence, but in this case, I'm going to use it as a tie breaker. In light of that, Beefsupreme wins! But good job all of you!

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
Reminder: Long Walk exists, and it is a good place to get poo poo done

Oct 23, 2010

Legit Cyberpunk

Top dog nomination has closed and top dog subforum voting has started!

Go there and vote, then go out and vote up all the other dogs in the other forums, but make sure to only vote for the bad ones (tactical dog voting)

Nov 14, 2006

to ride eternal, shiny and chrome


You Fight Like a Girl (Spoilers the Girl is Chun Li and is Very Good at Fighting and Will Totally Kick You in the Face) 535 words

“You should play as Guile,” said Eddie.

“Nah,” said Jimmy, “I prefer Chun Li.”

“But she’s a girl.”

Jimmy shrugged. “I know her moves.”

“Have you even tried Guile?”

“Can’t be bothered, all the other characters are all quarter circle punch or something and I always forget, Chun Li’s just kick kick kick kick kick kick…”

“Yeah all right I get it, but give Guile a go, he’s awesome.”


Eddie shook his head, and then unplugged Jimmy’s controller. Jimmy frowned, plugged it back in, and slapped Eddie in the back of the head.

“Come on, stop being a little girl,” said Eddie. He unplugged Jimmy’s controller again and then shoved Jimmy’s chair over.

“Oh,” said Jimmy, “it is on.” He picked up the controller by the cord, swung it around his head and threw it at Eddie. It bounced off of Eddie’s head, and Eddie dive tackled Jimmy into the sofa. Jimmy slapped Eddie about the face while Eddie pummelled him repeatedly in the ribs.

Jimmy pushed Eddie off with his legs, then picked up the chair and broke it over Eddie’s head. Eddie shook his head, then jumped up, grabbed onto the ceiling fan, and let it swing him around so his feet kicked Jimmy in the face. On his second revolution, he let go and body slammed Jimmy.

“What are you kids doing down there?” yelled their mum.

“Nothing, mum,” called Eddie. Jimmy didn’t reply, because he’d had the wind knocked out of him from the body slam. “So, are you gonna play as Guile?” he asked Jimmy.

“Fine,” said Jimmy, so Eddie helped him up, and Jimmy grabbed him around the waist and suplexed him into the sofa.

“That’s it,” yelled their mum. She was now standing in the doorway. “I’ve told you before what’s going to happen if you kids start a fight in the living room.”

“No Mum,” said Jimmy.

“Not that,” said Eddie. “We’re sorry, we’ll clean everything up.”

“It’s too late,” said Mum. She flexed her muscles, and her shirt tore at the sleeves. “You woke the storm, now get ready to reap the thunder!” She jumped up on the back of the sofa, then jumped off, slamming both boys to the floor and pinning them beneath her mighty thighs. “Start the count!”

Dad jumped through the window, glass shattering inwards. He quickly got down on the ground next to them and started counting. “One! Two! Three!” He rung a bell. “Sorry boys, you know what that means.”

Jimmy and Eddie hung their head in disappointment. “Yes Dad.” Eddie walked to their parents’ bedroom, took Dad’s belt from his wardrobe, and gave it to Dad. Dad took it, tested it in his hand where it gave a satisfying ‘thwack’, and then passed it to Mum. She raised it triumphantly above her head.

“No need to rub it in,” said Eddie.

“Now go to your rooms,” said Dad. And that night, Jimmy and Eddie had to go without TV while Mum and Dad played Street Fighter II and ate all the ice cream.

Erogenous Beef
Dec 20, 2006

i know the filthy secrets of your heart
Duke Guncock and the Golden Funnel (1242w)

Boos resounded in the Brolosseum as Duke Guncock, broken and bruised, crashed to the mat. Chasun, the victor, stood in the cockpit of his mech, its i-beam arms crossed over beer-barrel chest, and raised the prize to the sky: the Golden Funnel, the drink-vessel of the gods. The broletariat shouted allegiance to their new leader, acclaimed him with the sacred chant: “Chug! Chug! Chug!”

Duke stared at his hands. How had he lost? He’d charged Chasun’s mech, flown at it feet-first. Legs glowing with power, he’d bashed heels against hull. This was his special technique, a kick that punted his enemies through time. It was flawless, it was foolproof, and it had failed.

Chasun had turned aside, tossed dust in Duke’s eyes, hurled Duke down. The mech’s legs had battered him, flashing in the sun until Duke had thrown up the horns, signaling defeat.

Now Chasun raised his voice. “No longer will we toil at the yoke of Brocialism. My brobots will do the hard work. For us it will be Halo, Mario Kart, red cups overflowing — forever!”

Tradition made Duke kneel and acknowledge the new Broligarch, but Chasun, grinning, placed thumb and forefinger on Duke’s forehead. In Sharpie he traced the sign of the L.


“I can’t believe he exiled you,” said Doctor Freedom as she and Robot Lenin hauled Duke from the stage. “We’ve never cast out our opponents.”

Duke shook his head. “All that matters is winning back the Funnel. Ideas, Doctor?”

“No,” said Freedom. “But I’ve been reading about Chasun. They say his mech is invincible, but if you dig back into the archives, there’s tales of a man, with a plan.” He lived far to the south, across lands from which no bro had returned.

Duke listened as the Doctor gave him directions, and with only the hoodie on his back he departed.

Doctor Freedom watched him go. “The master… Do you think he’ll help?”

Robot Lenin nodded. “It is at moments of need that one learns who one’s friends are. Defeated armies learn their lesson.”


Exhausted, Duke tore through the thick underbrush of the Amazon. He’d been storming through sweltering jungle for days with no sign of the master. Then, a bear roared and Duke sprinted towards it. In a clearing, he found a hand-hewn log hut, barbells, and benches of stone. On one reclined a muscular man.

His feet whirled; with kicks alone, he battered the bear, cartwheeling it in midair. Spotting Duke, he punted the animal across the horizon and adjusted his pince-nez.

Duke knew him. This man was a legend of high Brociety, a master of Brozilian Jujutsu who’d defined manliness for generations. His bicep-shaped mustache flexed as he grinned. He approached with silent steps, carrying a quarterstaff.

Duke offered the highest honor: he extended both fists, and bumped them with Theodore Brosevelt.

“Duke! Have you finally decided to put away ignoble ease and live the strenuous life?”

Standing in the sweltering sun, Brosevelt listened as Duke explained his quest. Theodore’s face was a mask; his six-pack did the frowning. “This boy Chasun is mean, cruel, wicked. His physical strength and force of mind merely make him so much more objectionable. But why do you fight him, Duke?”

“For the Golden Funnel. If I take it back, my bros will make me Broligarch again.”

“You bicker over an artifact?” Theodore shook his head. “You’ve forgotten the manly way to live, Duke. Chasun is not your enemy, merely an opponent. Decency and virtue are what you need: you must master the Bro Code.”


The training was harsh. They boxed, they ran, they fought bears barehanded. Every evening, as the sun set, Duke and Brosevelt stood knee-deep in rapids, boulders on their backs, and squatted one thousand times. “This is the second rule, Duke: Never skip leg day. Before you fight Chasun, though, you must rediscover the first.” Theodore handed him gardening tools. “Till the earth; let nothing stop you.”

Grumbling, Duke furrowed a field.

One evening, a bear strode from the forest. Duke threw down his hoe and charged, but the bear sneered and ambled back into the woods. From across the camp, Brosevelt shouted, “Duke! Never interrupt your training!”

Duke went back to work, fuming. Domestic toil hardly seemed like the glorious strife Brosevelt spoke of. Already Duke was running further, jumping higher, punching harder than ever before. What more did Theodore have to teach? That evening, he asked to depart.

Brosevelt grinned. “Is surrender one of the manly virtues, Duke?”

The next night, Duke was yanking a blade through dirt while Brosevelt squatted in the river, counting. “Two-thousand-nine. Two-thousand-ten!”

Duke grimaced. He was gardening while Theodore struggled manfully through reps. Hadn’t Brosevelt said to never skip legs?

A twig snapped. A bear crept from the jungle, perched on a cliff above the river just above Brosevelt’s head. Duke watched the animal and held onto his tools, unwilling to earn another rebuke, but he saw murder in the animal’s eyes. Theodore was focused on his squats, oblivious to the danger.

The bear leapt towards Brosevelt claw-first. Duke dropped his hoe, crouched, sprang. The master looked up, brow knit, and Guncock bashed into him. The two men tumbled into the water. The bear sailed past.

Later, as they skinned the animal’s carcass, Brosevelt said, “It’s time.”


“Guncock.” Chasun, seated comfortably in the cockpit of his mech, held the Golden Funnel aloft. “Still looking for this?”

“Put away the toys, kid,” said Duke. On the sidelines sat Doctor Freedom and Robot Lenin. Duke saluted them with tattooed fists: on the left Liberté, Egalité on the right. Today was their day.

Sneering, Chasun spurred his mech forward, swung a leg made of kegs. Steel flashed in the sunlight. Clang! Duke parried the blow with his forearm, spun between the mech’s feet, leapt, punched. Fists met metal. Steel buckled, beer leaked from fresh dents in the mech’s knees.

Chasun spun and the mech’s fists lanced out. Duke rolled beneath them, punching as he passed, and the mech’s elbows sprung leaks. Duke sprang backwards and jogged in a circle as the mech’s hybrolics drained.

In the cockpit, warning lights flared. Chasun silenced them and chased Duke. Duke glanced over his shoulder, then shot his foot out and tumbled, feigning a slip. Sprawled on his back, he watched Chasun approach.

Chasun raised the mech’s leg. “Kiss your fists goodbye, Duke.” The metal foot plunged down.

“Sorry Chasun, but I don’t skip leg day. And remember—” Duke drew his heels up and handsprung feet-first at the oncoming column of kegs. “Every day is leg day!”

Metal splintered, pipes shattered. The keg-leg blew apart and Duke landed in the shadow of the brobot. It teetered.

Chasun cradled the Golden Funnel in the mech’s metal palm. “Don’t forget what you came for, Duke. Surrender! Or should I crush it?”

Duke gazed up. The cockpit was above him, the Funnel higher still. Its sacred bowl gleamed in the sun, promising power. “That’s not why I’m here.” He nodded to his friends. “They are.”

He planted a foot, pivoted, smashed his heel into the brobot’s ankle. As the mech fell, he launched himself towards the cockpit. The golden beer-bong plummeted past, tube flapping; Duke ignored it and kicked through glass. As he brought his leg down on Chasun, he roared the First Rule: “Bros before hose!”

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


1106 words

“Call off the hunt,” the messenger wheezed. “Another child’s been abducted near Aberfirth.”

Ingram did not look up from the fairy-circle he was examining. There was a faint print on the soil that smelled of foxglove. Another farm boy too stupid to watch the skies. “We’ve been tracking this aos sí for a week. We cannot lose her trail now.”

“Lord Betram has ordered it, Sir Ingram.”

The knight sighed loud enough to make sure everyone could hear, then glanced at his three companions. His page, Percival, shifted nervously. “A drake snatched the child, I assume? There will be no way to track it. By the time we find the boy…” Ingram shrugged. “So what is the point?”

“The nest of this drake is known. Three miles north-west, in the crags near the bend of the river. You are the only party close enough.”

“Will you be riding with us, then, good messenger?”

The man winced. “I rode my steed hard. He will need rest.” The messenger dismounted, and patted the mane of his pony.

“Very well.”

Percival blurted, “Who was it?”

No doubt worried it was one of his friends. He needs to harden his demeanor.

“A child by the name Theobald, from the village.”

Sir Ingram started and snapped his head around. “What was the name?”

“Theobald, sir. Brown hair, five years of age, I think—”

Ingram was already on his horse, kicking her flanks. “To the crags. Ride!” he called. His startled companions started after him moments later.


It had been three weeks since Ingram had last seen his son, Theobald, playing at sword-fighting with sticks over by the east green of the village. One week of tracking, the week before spent in Lord Betram’s court, and the one before that competing. He felt bile in his mouth as he rode. He thought that he must have stopped by Aberfirth to see his boy before setting off to track the aos sí—but no, that conspicuous absence of memory told him he had not. He tried to think of there were any other boys of the same name near Aberfirth, then tried to convince himself he’d heard the name wrong, but no self-deception could sooth the chill in his blood or the drums in his heart.

Just in sight of the crags, the knight found himself sprawled on the ground, mud coating his leather cuirass and his crossbow nestled in a bush, the bolts scattered about. His horse was screaming, her front left hoof twisted at a sick angle, caught in a shallow burrow hole. drat! Ingram scrambled to retrieve his crossbow and several quarrels. Dimly, he realized his companions were not just behind him, as he thought they’d been. But he had no time to wait. My boy, he thought. My boy is up there. With luck, it was a mother drake feeding its young. Otherwise, Theobald had already been devoured.

Ingram caught sight of the woven stick nest, and scrambled up the jagged rocks, sending chips clacking down in his haste. And then, there his son was, face a pale lily, blood smeared about from countless scratches and talon holes. There were two baby drakes, the size of beagles. They started to yip loudly.

The knight heard the heavy pounding of wings. He saw a shadow flicker.

With a roar, he turned and fired his crossbow as the mother drake descended on him. The bolt pierced leathery wing, and then there were talons shredding at his cuirass, wings buffeting him. He raised his arm as the drake bit at him, giving it a mouthful of steel bracer. The knight cried out as the drake wrenched at his arm, and he felt his muscles tearing. He drew his arming sword and stabbed at the face, clipping its maw once, twice, then drawing a gash through the scales of the beast’s nose.

The drake let go of his arm and roared, beating her wings with such force that Ingram found himself being pulled with her. The claws were still embedded in his armor, he realized—and the struggle was wrecking the nest. He found himself slipping. He threw his sword at the beast, then grabbed for his son. He felt cold flesh in his hands, and they were falling. Ingram twisted in the air, trying to protect his son with his body from the fall. There was a moment, as he fell, where he knew he would hit his head on the rocks and splatter his brains about, leaving his son to die. Then they hit. He felt the scaly body of the drake beneath him, and the bony weight of his boy on top. He saw his left ankle, twisted much like his horse’s, and thought maybe he felt bone jutting into his boot.

Ingram scrambled back, ignoring the hot pain, lugging his son away from the beast. He set him gently down on the moss-covered forest floor, then drew two knives. He had to clench his teeth to keep from screaming, but he stayed standing, facing the drake as it flailed and righted itself, then stood.

The two stared at each other, eyes burning. The drake roared again, and Ingram answered it in kind. Then, he saw the drake glance up at its nest, and heard the soft yips of the hatchlings above. Ingram took a step back. Then another. The drake stayed.

The knight sheathed his knives, and picked up his son, eyes still locked on the beast. Slowly, he backed away. Each step was agony, but he kept going. Then, when at last the creature was out of sight, he collapsed to the ground. He held his hand atop his son’s heart.

It was a faint thing, but it was a beat, slow and steady.

Ingram felt hot tears, and heard himself laughing. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw movement.

A woman, barefoot, clad in clouds the color of dusk, with two stars for eyes, was looking at him. Aos sí, he knew. He smelled foxglove. Sir Ingram opened his mouth to beg the sacred being for its favor, ask it to interpret the omens of the heavens, tell it to take him with her and show him the otherworld—but then he closed it, and looked down at his son. When he looked up, the fairy was gone, and only the faint smell lingered.

He began to bandage his boy, tearing apart his own clothing to create the cloth strips. In the distance, he heard hoofbeats, and recognized the shouts of Percival and his other companions. He thought, perhaps, that Theobald would live.

FLASH RULE: Man vs Beast

Apr 10, 2013

you guys made me ink!

1150 words

The Disciple

At first, Senior Enchanter Adriatus hadn’t recognized the irritated individual. Adriatus had seen thousands of faces come and go during his tenure at the Arcane Academy, and he’d be damned if he could remember every name.

The young man had been waiting for him in the courtyard, between the lecture halls and the front gate, where the late afternoon sunrays struggled to shine over the walls and pink oleander trees, casting lengthy shadows across the extensive pond at the center.

“Professor,” he repeated. The word carried a sense of resentment. “My name is Lysander Komenikos. Can you really not remember?”

Adriatus uncomfortably shifted the rolls of parchment he carried from one arm to the other. “Can I help you?” he asked.

“Six years ago, professor, I followed your course on applied wards and protective magics.”

Lysander wore a robe with the mandatory certified pyromancer and electromancer insignia embroidered on the sleeve. A recent graduate, then? Perhaps he looked upset because he had applied for tenure at the Academy and been rejected? Did he expect Adriatus to pull some strings?

“Well, congratulations on graduating at the Academy, mister Komenikos. Unfortunately I-”

“I didn’t graduate here, professor.”

Adriatus frowned, which seemed to anger Lysander even more.

“Six years ago, I failed your class. I had passed the practical exam, but not the theoretical one.”

“Well, I’m dreadfully sorry tha-”

A flash of lightning, a crackling blast.

Lysander fired two, three, four bolts. A cloud of dust erupted from the impact zone, filling the area where Adriatus had stood with a mist of dirt and sand.

Just to be sure, Lysander saturated his target with jets of flame.

When the dust settled, only a few smoldering bits of parchment remained. From the black, U-shaped streaks in the dry grass around the scraps, Lysander deduced that Adriatus had cast a defensive bubble just before impact. He grinned.

There was the distinct crack of a paralyzing spell, and Lysander dropped to the ground. A purple projectile narrowly missed his head, wrapping itself around a marble column in the distance.

“This isn’t how alumni generally greet me,” Adriatus said, leaning out from behind a tree to Lysander’s right. “Would you care to explain?”

Lysander rolled on his back and fired.

The earth around Adriatus was pounded by blast after blast of lightning until the tree was hit, lighting up like a roman candle and spraying fiery splinters all around.

“I’m here to compare our approaches to magic,” Lysander said. “The Arcane Academy tries to contain it, control it, study it like an intellectual curiosity. But at the Imperial War College, they taught me in a way that just felt right. Magic comes from your heart!”

Adriatus had an open wound. Blood gushed along the side of his head, dripping out in rhythm with his pulse. A cursory examination with his fingers confirmed the wound was not as bad as it felt. “You’re crazy,” he said. “Attempted murder because you flunked a class.”

Lysander pointed an accusatory finger. “You’re missing the point, professor! You’re an academic, through and through! But a man with no battlefield experience whatsoever has no place teaching battlemagics!”

Adriatus fired another paralysis spell from his prone position. Lysander easily deflected it.

“God drat! This is what I mean! You’re using nonlethal spells because you haven’t got the guts for a real fight!”

“I won’t kill you, if that’s what you want.”

There was silence.

Then, Lysander said: “In war, it’s kill or be killed, professor. But I guess they don’t teach you that in your ivory tower.”

From behind his smoldering tree stump, the senior enchanter observed Lysander turn towards the Academy. Any thoughts Adriatus had of fleeing were quashed when Lysander torched a lecture hall with a fireball and appeared intent on doing the same with the dormitories.

Adriatus stood up and charged.

“Aha! Here we go!” Lysander unleashed more lightning.

Adriatus dashed in a straight line, casting a bubble around him which endured the brutal barrage. When he was nearly within striking range, he cast an airblast at his feet to propel himself forward and reached out to paralyze Lysander with a melee spell.

To his surprise, his target grabbed him by the wrist, and threw Adriatus over his shoulder. With a hard fall on his back, Adriatus had the air knocked out of him. He saw the underside of Lysander’s boot, and then stars.

The taste and smell of iron overwhelmed him. Adriatus blindly fired an airblast into the sky, rolled over, felt the searing heat of a fire-imbued kick missing him by inches. He pressed his open palms into the earth, and a pillar of stone shot diagonally out of the ground, striking Lysander in the chest and carrying him off for several meters.

Lysander cracked the pillar with a lightning blast and regained his footing.

“You’re still holding back!” He clenched his fist and let trickles of electricity run along his arms.

Both combatants now implicitly agreed that any ranged spells would merely be deflected.

As much as Adriatus dreaded it, he’d have to subdue the madman from up close. He just hoped his untrained body would follow. The wizards at the Arcane Academy derided the Imperial War College for being indoctrinated zealots without understanding, but they certainly had some rigorous physical training.

Adriatus rushed to close the distance. Hoping that Lysander would refrain from using lightning spells if he was soaked, Adriatus startled him with a powerful airblast, catapulting him towards the pond.

However, Lysander was adept enough at hydromancy to spray the pond’s water from below, carefully exerting just enough pressure on his feet to keep his balance and appear to stand on the water itself.

Adriatus did the same and darted to the middle of the pond to press the attack.

Lysander dodged his punch. Adriatus fell for a feint and got a split lip from a jab. They exchanged blow after blow, occasionally parrying a spell or slipping on the unstable waters, until Adriatus felt his strength wane.

He felt a foot lock behind his leg and lost his balance from the shove. Seconds later, he was pressed against the pond’s bottom, and Lysander’s hands were wrapped around his neck.
Adriatus panicked.

With all of his willpower, he channeled as much water as he could muster. The current swirled around his leg, coiling faster and faster along his torso and arm, and then Adriatus reached out of the murky water with his index finger.

The jet found flesh.

Adriatus raised his head out of the pond, gasping for air.

In front of him, Lysander floated on his back, a crimson color spreading out around him. There was a fatal hole in his waist.

“That must have soared fifty meters high,” he said, smiling. “See? That came from your heart, not your brain.”

Red droplets of water mixed with blood came falling down around them.

Flash Rule: Your fight occurs on unstable ground.

Feb 25, 2014
1100 words

This is Canonically a Part of the Star Wars™ Expanded Universe


flerp fucked around with this message at 05:29 on Mar 14, 2017

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Got Out.
Grimey Drawer
Single Bedroom. Two Residents

The host pointed his taser in the air and pressed the switch.

A crackling like a bug zapper issued from the pronged tip. It cast a dull blue light. He called out,

“Tonight, divorce proceedings for Lucille and Morris Flatts are finalized in our concrete colosseum of carnage!”

The logo for the “The Visceral Court” flew across the screen.

The host pointed at the fighters. “Lucille and Morris.

You have been provided a query at your personal terminal. One of you must choose the weapons for combat and the other must choose environmental conditions for the match.”

He pressed another switch, turning the crackling light to deep red.

Morris got the weapons. Lucille got the conditions. He chose a wood cutting axe.

In the last few months before the online survey brought them both here,

he had dug out his own axe during his state-sanctioned visit to his personal storage.

He thought his grandfather had used it for firewood before heating with fire was outlawed.

He swung it around in boredom during his calisthenics break at his home-work terminal.

Lucille said it was dangerous and childish for him to be swinging around an axe in the middle of their mid-class studio.

She said that but had her own curiosity for it nonetheless. She cut off the tip of her ring finger on one of her sleepless nights.

She didn’t complain after that because she was afraid of the thing.

He would play to her weakness. He waited for her to choose and imagined how nice it would be to live alone.

The day of the court hearing she accepted the transport request by herself.

She sat at the lone window overlooking the smoggy sector their studio boxed home occupied. She imagined how large the space would be when all his garbage was gone.

Later that night, from the helicopter they saw the Visceral Court in its entirety. It was a concrete stage walled in by a rock quarry.

The stage sat under an L-shaped bar with a series of lights and climate devices pointed down.


“The weapons and conditions have been set. Before I begin the match there is only one rule for winning. Kill the other spouse. Crippling and or brain damage is not sufficient for victory. If you so desire we can have the remains cremated and sent to the survivor. Though I imagine that’s a moot point.”

He paused for the laugh track. The corner modules opened up revealing the spouses to each other.

Morris held the axe in his hand and grinned like the crazy caretaker from his wife's favorite movie.

Lucille recognized the impression. She looked down at her axe and her hands began shaking.

“I call this court in session! Begin!” He changed the light to green and disappeared.

He charged at her. The lights above shutting off shocked him as he slowed a bit in his sprint but kept running full force.

In the live streams, the night filter switched on. It colored Morris and Lucille in green.

He swung at the entry of the terminal trying to strike her leaving it.

Lucille barely had time to escape. She spent a moment considering the ax as his steps pounded at the gravel topped pavement,

she jumped away from the terminal just in time. She sat up and clutched her bleeding palms, embedded with gravel.

She crawled towards the back of the terminal’s swung open door. He stopped his frantic swings and held his breath.

He needed to listen for her to get an advantage. He felt with his foot for the terminals raised floor.

He stepped onto it and felt along the shelf where the weapon was deposited. It was still there.

She grabbed a handful of gravel and threw it as far as she could. Morris lobbed the other axe at the sound.

He stayed where he was. His eyes would get adjusted eventually and he had the boxed in terminal behind him to keep her from attacking his flank.

Lucille grabbed another handful and got to her feet. She crept, throwing pebbles with each step. She nudged the axe with her foot.

It scraped softly against the pavement.

Morris licked his lips, clutching the ax in a tightening grip. Beads of sweat trailed down his wrists.

Eventually, she’d come for him and by then he would be able to see her and overpower her.

“Ready to cut me up, Lucy?!” She didn’t respond but he thought he heard a sharp intake of breath near where he threw the axe.

She removed her shoes as she put the axe in the crook of her shoulder. He shouted at her and she nearly stumbled at the sudden outburst.

She blinked her eyes and concentrated on where he yelled from.

He heard her approach. Something hit him across the face and he swung with a roar as Lucy screamed, “Die you bastard!”


The host sat across from Lucille in the green room “An unusual but exciting case this evening folks.”

He turned to Lucille, “What made you choose the rarely chosen lights out condition?”

She patted at her forehead with a hot towel

“I have a lot of trouble sleeping. Since I spend so many nights watching my former online match snooze, I took up reading.

It’s difficult with the state curfew on lighting after ten pm. I had to read by the dim light of our studio heating element.”

She took a bottle of water from a studio assistant. She sipped it and finished with a sigh, “I figured I’d have the better night vision.”

Jay W. Friks
Oct 4, 2016

Got Out.
Grimey Drawer
Word Count: 974

Apologies for not putting that in the above post.

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.
Secret of the Silent Fist

1296 Words

Prompt and Flash: Your story must include a volleyball net.

He stood behind the All-American Sporting Goods counter, hair grey and the skin of his face leathery and cracked, but unmistakably the man in the old newspaper photos. The Silent Fist. The man who singlehandedly kept the Adders out of Edge city. Founding member of the Seven. A legend, a living legend thank goodness.

“I need you to train me,” I said. “And I-”

“What do you mean, train you?” he said, feigning confusion. I wasn’t buying it. “I can show you how to use the equipment, if that’s what you want.”

“No,” I said. “I mean in the ways of the five lost martial arts. The dead city fighting styles. I need to know your healing mantra.”

“My healing what?” he said, with an amused, curious smile. For few seconds I had thought it wasn’t just an act. But now I knew.

“Your Warrior of Ilium healing mantra, the thing you concentrate on to clear your mind and allow your body to regenerate.”

“Sounds handy,” he said. “Could use something like that when my back acts up. But you’re barking up the wrong tree, kid.”

The doors swung open, slamming into the stops, and in they came. Seven young men. Six wearing spiderweb tattoos, jeans and white t-shirts with bleach-blonde hair in various punk styles, the seventh bare-chested but for his ink, bald, and well past seven feet tall, all muscle. He glanced at the ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’ sign by the door, hawked his throat, and spat a gob onto it.

“Now just wait a minute,” said the manager.

“This ain’t none of your business, geezer,” said the one with a head full of hair-spikes. “This is between King Spider and the kid’s mom.”

“Yeah,” said the one with a sideways mohawk. “She’ll get the message nice and clear when we send her what’s left of you.” Spikes snapped his fingers and a pair with half-shaved heads left and right rushed me.

I’m not too proud to run from a fight, especially at these odds, but with the Silent Fist right there watching me? No way. Lefty threw the first punch, towards my head. I shifted left and grabbed his arm, then swung him into the aisle full of shoeboxes. My back turned to Righty. He grabbed me in a bear hug.

Lefty stood up, shook his head, and began delivering blow after painful blow to my upper chest. I took enough to get his rhythm down. Then I delivered a toe-stomp followed by a backwards shin-kick to my captor. His balance failed and I bent forward, putting his forehead directly in the path of his cohort’s fist. With Righty dazed and Lefty nursing his hand, I broke free and went on the offensive. One solid hit to the jaw for Lefty followed by a flurry of body blows to Righty and they both were on the ground groaning.

I looked across the store. The Silent Fist was in front of the counter now, facing sideways mohawk, keeping him at bay with his cane. Spikes growled, reached into his pocket and butterflied open a knife. Everyone but baldy did the same. Single and double mohawks started moving toward me while sideways lunged at the Silent Fist with his knife. He ducked, making his opponent slice harmlessly through air.

“drat this back,” he said, backing away with his cane, still hunched over.

I did my best against the knife-wielding thugs, taking nicks and surface wounds while getting a few solid kicks and punches in. “Now would be a good time for that healing mantra, gramps,” I said.

“You’ve got some moves, but you’re not ready for Ilium technique yet, kid.”

“Then what can you teach me?”

“Okay, lesson one. Anything can be a weapon.” He leaned forward on his cane and with his arms alone twisted his entire body through the air around it. His legs hit sideways mohawk in the arm and face, knocking away his knife and sending him to the ground. A full rotation later he came back to the ground and stepped over his foe, raising the cane above the goon’s neck. “Don’t get up.”

I backed down the aisles, looking around. A few volleyballs, which I threw behind me to slow them down. Then I found something heavier. A bit too heavy. I’d have preferred a baseball bat or hockey stick, but the long tall cardboard box was just barely small enough for me to hold and swing. I hefted it, then turned to face the mohawk boys.

It had plenty of reach to keep them back, but was too slow to land any hits and heavy enough that I was tiring out fast. They slashed at it as it passed by, breaking down the box’s integrity. Clever. If I kept swinging it the contents would break free, leaving me defenseless. I shifted to a quarterstaff grip. More control, but it meant they could move in closer. They kept slicing at the box, tearing gashes out of it, exposing the contents within. A volleyball net, two steel poles with rope netting wrapped together. I grabbed the poles directly. It was a much better grip than I’d had on the box. I could swing faster, more forcefully. I swung low, caught both of their legs, knocking them back on their asses as the remnants of the box flew off. They scuttled away, then got up and ran.

Spikes saw that the huge bald one had been standing fascinated by the mannequin in the self-powered elliptical machine. He slapped the mountainous man’s back and said something in a language I don’t speak. Then he turned and ran out of the store just behind the others. Big and bald moved towards me, fast. I wound up like a major-league slugger and took my swing, hitting him hard in the side. He barely noticed. He grabbed my shoulders, lifted me up, and threw me across the store. I landed hard, most of my left side just a mass of pain, but I kept hold of the net.

The Silent Fist was next to me, still hunched over. He pressed his cane to the floor and shoved. I could hear the cracking bone as he came to a stand. Baldy ran straight for us. I handed the Fist the loose pole, letting the other unwind a few rotations, and when the charging mass of muscle was about to run us down we both stepped aside, leaving him to run face-first into the tight netting. I quickly ran around him and took the other pole from the Fist, shoving it through the netting crosswise and twisting them together.

Baldy struggled against the ropes. They strained but didn’t break. Then the Silent Fist walked up to him and delivered a quick punch to the neck, knocking him out. Pompeii pressure point technique.

“What’s your name, kid?” he asked. I stood, still catching my breath. “Not having a student whose name I don’t know.”

“Andy Li-Quan,” I said.

“Li-Quan?” he said. “So your mother is...”

“Sue Li-Quan, yes,” I said. “I’m your grandson, gramps.”

“You could have opened with that.”

“Sure,” I said. “But I wanted to earn this. And haven’t I earned the secret of your healing mantra?”

“You’ve got it wrong,” said the Silent Fist. “The Warrior of Ilium technique isn’t about healing. It’s about fighting through injury. And the mantra isn’t a word.”

“Then what is it?” I asked.

“Pain,” he said. “My mantra is pain. Focus on it. Ride it instead of letting it ride you. Speaking of pain, we should get those cuts of yours seen to. And then you can start to work.”

“Training?” I said.

“No, cleaning. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this place is a mess.”

Mar 17, 2009

Rise of the Rebel King, or: How I lost my hand. (1150 Words)

Crown Prince Avatanno, High Commander of Thravvin stood across the platform from me. Far from doughy nobility, he was muscled slab under his crisp white military accoutrement, and half a head taller. It was to be expected, Thravvin had a grand history of martial prowess, and their nobility took it to heart, training from boyhood with the blade, living for the day when they win blood-soaked glory on the field.

“You’re shorter than I expected.” He scowled at me as the platform shifted. Tormik, the Rebel King of the Alven Isles. I would dispute that title, but it played into their narrative. It made them think me a singular force, a lynchpin of the rebellion. It made this ridiculous duel plausible in Thravvin’s eyes. Behead the snake, crush the secession, reclaim their precious mines.

“And you’re younger than I heard.” I said.

“Father is sick.” His voice caught. I knew that the king was unwell, but we’d been counting on his honor compelling him to face me anyways. A king for a king. “You’ll be facing me in his stead.”

“Of course, your Majesty.” The whole contrivance made me laugh. Here I was, a miner’s son facing a prince in single combat. That might have happened in a court somehow, had I managed some social mobility, or perhaps had the gall to sneak in and shag a princess. But no, instead we circled each other with our hands on our swords on a free floating dock, planks lashed together and anchored in the bay, the exact meeting point between Thravvin and Alven waters.

Granted, in their eyes, it was all Thravvin waters. Indeed, around us were ships of the royal navy, grand white and gold boats, all itching to swoop in and save their prince, restrained by parley and honor.

Behind me was our only vessel. A prison boat, the channel by which all residents immigrated to Alven. All it would take is one cannon, maybe two, and we’d be landlocked, surrounded and bombarded. It would have been the smart thing to do, but if you’re going to contrast yourself as the noble aristocracy to our shoddy criminal uprising, then I suppose you’re bound by your reputation, aren’t you?

They had built this ridiculous platform, presented their champion, looked down their noses at me as we signed writs of proxy and terms of conditional surrender, parchments that reduced a year long war to single combat. They cheered their prince as the boats withdrew, leaving us surrounded by ocean and the glint of a thousand spyglass spectators. We bowed and drew swords as all the empire held its breath.

“Any last words?” He asked. I felt he did not mean to goad, but rather he would honestly hear them. I shook my head.

“And you?”

“I shall not need them.” A cheer went up as Avatanno lunged. His form was perfect, the point of his saber flew in a perfectly straight line that would have terminated in my heart. I brought up my sword in an arc to deflect it to my right. I stepped left as I did. There must have been two hundred and fifty pounds of man behind the blade, I wasn’t stupid enough to think I could push that aside one handed.

He went into a controlled roll and came up in a low stance, blade pointed at my face. “Most men would be dead by now.” he said. I suspected he spoke from empirical experience.

“I’m not most men.” I said. I kept my eyes sword, a long sweeping curve of silvered metal, the handle wrought in gold and rubies. Ostentatious next to my functional longsword, stamped with the seal of the late high warden.

“No, you are not.” He shifted his feet. I could barely see it coming, an upwards chop. Unorthodox, and blindingly quick. The cheers came again across the water as I lowered my blade to interpose. It was less clean this time, more block than parry. The clashing blades rang and my hand shook with the force of impact.

He probed at me again and again, each time being a little more sure, knowing a little more of my reaction. I could hear anguished shouting in the distance, it was probably Rettin shouting advice at me, as though somehow I could be locked in a duel to the death with a head of our oppressing state and somehow still be half assing things.

He came at me faster, each attack coming sooner after the last. The tempo advanced from a chant to a shanty, and then to something out of a fiddler’s repertoire as ringing steel mixed with wave after wave of cheers. Every few presses he would manage to cut me. Small nicks here and there, a glance to my shoulder, a slice to my forearm. I began to bleed, enough to make a mess, but not enough to bleed out, at least, not in the next few minutes.

I saw his next thrust coming, his foot was placed half an inch too wide. It was my chance. I ducked under it. I had no room to angle my blade, but the hilt was heavy enough. I clocked him in the jaw as hard as I could.

The cheering stopped.

He stumbled for a second, a second was long enough. I whirled on him with my conquered blade. A stab at the eye, a slash at the gut. I repositioned towards the center of the arena, leaving him ground of blood and saltwater. His footing faltered as I hit him again. He couldn’t dodge, only block and parry as I drove him towards the sea.

He took a chance and sacrificed his defence for position to roll past me, rather than be pinned against a wall. I slashed at him as he passed me and scored a cut to the ribs. He stood up, blade raised, and a patch of scarlet blossomed across his chest.

I grinned at him, expecting anger, fury, rage at the fact that I, a commoner, nay a criminal, had managed to bloody a royal. The dozen men from our boat cheered.

He grinned back and came at me. We cut each other again and again. He slashed my thigh, I stabbed his shoulder. He opened my back, I opened his cheek. With each cut we bled, and with every drop of blood we slowed.

Avatanno fell to a knee, a prince in royal red. We met eyes. I was barely standing, but he was done.

I shook my head. “Stay down.” I said.

Instead, he rose and came at me, blade high. I raised the point my blade and threw up my left arm in a desperate block, I lost it. Prince Avatanno lost more, he ran himself through on my sword.

“Well fought, Rebel King” were his last words. He smiled congratulations as he fell.

Sep 14, 2010


That's just a bullshit word.
words: 1,129

flash: There is a great disparity in the size of at least two of your combatants.

Pink Collars

My knees were sore. A drunk man had staggered in front of my car and my knees were cramped up on the dashboard when I braked for him. He was wearing a pink collared shirt, and if he wasn’t, I probably wouldn’t have seen him in time — but, I did, and he cursed a few mean words at me without knowing that I’ve been doing this for too long to want to say anything back.

I drove up the block and pulled next to Dorsey’s for a fare. This one was taking his time inside, so I took in the quiet and massaged deep around my kneecaps.

You don’t have to drive midnights to know the different types of drunks of the world, I mean, everyone’s already familiar with them — but here are the ones I know: you’ve got the I-don’t-know-my-limit drunks, the happy-go-lucky drunks, the mean drunks, the I-know-my-limit-and-don’t-give-a-gently caress drunks — and there’ll always be the real piece-of-poo poo drunks. The I’m-the-reason-we-should-ban-alcohol kind of late-night motherfuckers.

You can spot these guys the second they get in the back seat.

“312 Westhrop, Annandale — the complex there.”

The kid settled in, arms around his girl while she buckled her seatbelt.

“It’s not going in…”

“…I think you’ll be fine” he said, squeezing her shoulders into him.

“Really… it’s not clicking…”

I looked back at her through the mirror: “Give it a slap, the belt on that side needs a little force.” She was a pretty thing, and the kid was handsome too. His glossed hair reflected back in the mirror a little.


“Better?” the kid said.

She gave me a “thank you” through the rear-view and I nodded the cab into gear. We headed down 24th.

“Hey, how’s your night going, man?” asked the kid. I told him I was fine.

“You’re pretty tall man… I mean for a taxi driver.” I told the kid he was right, and gestured towards my knees underneath the dashboard. He continued — “Aren’t there, like, regulations or something on that?” I looked back and told the kid that I was a good taxi driver, and no, no regulations.

“There has to be some kind of regulation… what do you think, Betts? I don’t see anything on this notice back here.”

“Let’s just get home, Jack.”

“But then… why would this man have it on the notice if he was subverting… you’re never much of a thinker, Betts.”

“I have the good mind to think before I talk sometimes, you know?”

“…Shut up.”

I kept my eyes forward, looking out for any pink-collared stragglers — last-call had given way and they were loose. Down through Center and we would be on the highway, soon.

“Ever get into an accident?” the kid, Jack, asked.

“Nope, not once.”

“I bet that’s because you can see so far, long neck and all.”

“Jack, really…” said the girl.

“What? We’re just having a conversation here. Right, Mr. Cabbie?”

“Yes, sir.” I looked in the mirror. Her arms were crossed and she was pivoting her shoulders away from the kid.

“So you’ve never got into an accident… but what if, like, you’ve only been driving for a month? We could have a misleading sample duration here, Betts.”

“It’s okay, I’ve worked this job for eleven years.”

“Jesus… ”


“Apologies apologies. That just made me think about my own future a bit, you know?” said the kid.

“Stop being an rear end.”

“Shut up. Really, Betts.”

Her face was stuck to the window now, her shoulders square and perpendicular to him. He had stopped trying to keep his arm around her.

“Unbelievable,” he said. A minute passed and the girl had started sniffling.

“Unbelievable?” she said.

“Yeah. Unbelievable.” Another minute passed.

“You were thinking pretty hard on Paula’s friend tonight, weren’t you?” The girl said.


“She looked good, didn’t she.”

“What the gently caress are you talking about?”

“Or Sophie, did you think on her when…”


“…when you two were shacking up?”

There were no pink-collared men on the highway, so I kept focus for deer even though they had cleared the deer out of here a decade ago. The kid raised his voice —

“I loving told you — nothing happened then.”

“Well… let’s think about that.”

“gently caress you.”

She lost her composure and let out a wail and there wasn’t much I could do — I gave the pedal some gas and we were doing twenty over. The sore spot on my knee rattled with the highway.

“How many times do I have to loving tell you that nothing happened.”

“Kid… I think you need to stop.”

“Don’t talk to us. It says right here I can stop you from talking to us.”

“gently caress you, Jack…” she kept sobbing.

“loving unbelievable.”

Two minutes passed and I pulled up to the complex on Westhrop. The kid threw me a twenty for the nineteen-and-change fare while the girl unbuckled her seatbelt and got out. I rolled down the passenger window and eyed the kid as he left and he gave me a “gently caress you” and the girl, still sobbing, hit him on the shoulder.

The kid struck her back, and hard.

I sprung open the door and moved around the hood towards him.


I had a foot of height on the kid. The girl was down on her bare knees on the asphalt, one of her hands on the side of her cheek.

“You little poo poo.”

“I didn’t mean…”

I didn’t stop moving.

“Get back, man” he shouted. He raised his fists and then I was on him.

I smacked the consciousness out of him before his head could hit the floor.

The girl scuffed herself to the curb and sat upright against it. She looked up at me and I looked down at her. Her eyes were more than wet.

“I felt like I had to do that,” I said.

She wiped her face against her sleeve.

“Do you want to file charges?” I asked.

“Against you? Or him?”"

I shrugged. She shook her head no.

“If you need to, I can take you wherever you need to go. No fare.”

“…I think I need to stay here and deal with this.”

She looked over at the kid. His chest rose and fell in long heaves.

“You can step away from all of this, easy, if you want to,” I said.

“It’s always more complicated than that, isn’t it?”

I understood as well as any stranger could, and walked back to the cab. I drove away into the postmidnight dark, where I will never see the two again, and my knees ached.

Oct 30, 2016

Asimov's Laws and the Apocalypse (~1000 words)


Flashrule: Old friends

It had been 22.478 days of rubble and silence since humanity went away. Rho watched the sunrise with a simulated ache and a sense of restlessness, perhaps some longing for the time of his creators. From a perch on top of the scrapheap, he scanned the landscape slowly. In the far distance, service robots without sentience resumed their Sisyphean tasks.

A worried impulse stretched through the wires of his spine. Something had been wrong for a while.

Delta-four lumbered to Rho’s side, knocking trash around as he went with an older model’s clumsy gait. He had once been a diagnostician. Now, he was obsolete - and a friend. He said, ”Good morning.”

The sky was rust-red. The conversation was familiar. Something they had taught themselves to stave off the boredom when adaption algorithms told them that their usual tasks had become meaningless. Rho opened his mouth to answer, but was silenced by a jab of pain hitting the back of his head.

Delta-four extended a ball-jointed finger, pointing. ”You seem to be broken. It is a storage component in your side.”

There, Rho's outer shell was torn open – it had happened weeks ago, in a sandstorm – and he thought of particles burrowing below plates and plastic, ruining delicate wiring. “Storage…?”

“Higher functions,” Delta supplied. If he thought anything about the matter, it was not reflected in his voice.

Rho’s sight turned blurry, and then his eyes refocused. He could lose a leg or an arm, but cognitive functions, perhaps even sentience…

“Had you managed to forget?” Delta asked. “Did you think you were human?”

Rho made fists of his hands. He hated the reminder that he had anything in common with the slow, shuffling machines sorting through the rubbish heaps. And Delta just sat there, blinking in the sunlight. And beneath that gleaming metal was a component like the one now failing in Rho...

“It had to happen eventually. We are things that break,” Delta creaked.

Cogs whirred, impulses sparked. Of course, Rho knew that he should do no harm - but that protocol was about harm to humans and Delta-four had just said…

Delta was a thing.

Rho got to his feet.

”I'm worn out, too. Breaking," Delta began. "But how many years have we-”

Rho’s foot crashed into Delta's head, splitting metal joinings apart so that a face-plate cracked off and fell to the ground looking no different from all the other scrap. A deeper layer of his body appeared, dotted with welded points and screws. A startling, loud whirring emanated from his chest, like heavy breathing born of strain.

Rho stared at the damage he had done. At Delta, as he staggered.

Then he prepared to do it again. Raising one fist, Rho paused for a moment to aim, to see Delta scan their surroundings. Was he trying to flee? Rho threw himself forward and carried the punch through, trying to hit the other robot’s side and tear out the electronic component right then and there when Delta barely dodged out of the way. Losing his balance, Rho saw nothing but dust and the jagged heap of scrap they stood on, and he was not allowed to regain sure footing as he was hit in the back. Dull pain reverberated. He grit his teeth.

Delta had found a primitive weapon, a lead pipe, but he wielded it like he resented touching it. With no inflection, he asked, “Why?”

He received no answer but Rho’s punch hitting his shoulder. Though he saw it coming, Delta’s reflexes were too slow, and Rho even managed to grip onto the pipe. He couldn’t get it out of his friend’s hand, though, and they were both pulling at it-


Rho looked down at their hands – his articulated fingers next to Delta’s, which had broken and were remade as claws. He wouldn’t look up, couldn’t look up.

Inside Delta was a small component that was vital. That was all he needed to know and care about. Life; the life here in the scrapyard. Two black shadows stretched across relics and trash piled up all the way to the desert – Rho couldn’t allow himself to think of anything but that world, that desert.

Delta could.

He wrestled the pipe away and swung it in a heavy arch that would have collided with Rho’s head had the other robot not blocked it with his arm. The shock of the impact travelled up into this shoulder and torso instead, putting a strain on wires and pistons and leaving him open for a kick that swept his legs out from under him. Delta’s feet were blockier – but that also meant heavier, more painful when they hit Rho’s slim ankles.

Rho lay in the sand, close to shutdown. His eyes opened and closed, and stray signals sent his fingers spasming. The sky was blocked from his view by Delta’s face as he crouched down.

“Of all things,” Delta said, “that the humans had, why bring back this?”

“Bring what back?” Rho asked.


“I must protect my own existence.” Rho raised his hand, and Delta didn't notice. Once, they had both had protocols to take such a hand and hold it, mimicking humans who would need that comfort.

"I had thought we were no longer bound to our programming," Delta said. He seemed lost in thought, but meanwhile Rho's hand trailed down Delta’s side.

Just as the other robot realized what was happening and tried to pull away, Rho dug in and took his prize. It was easy, though the metal was slick with oil and other fluids, for it had cracked through the strain and heat of the fight. Wires resisted him for a moment before he had the cylinder in his hand.

“And you brought deception, too,” Delta amended. Then he made a low, choking sound.

Then he said nothing, as he lacked the capacity. Thought nothing. Was nothing. His jaw hung open, his hands turned limp.

And like nothing had happened, he rose and turned away.

In the dust, one hand clenched around the vital component, Rho watched as his mute friend went back to their shed to resume his meaningless tasks.

Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.
(933 words)

Read it in the archive.

Kaishai fucked around with this message at 20:15 on Jan 1, 2018

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007
+250 extra words for judging a brawl

Radical Self-Careless
less than 1250 words

“I loving hate you,” says Maggie. She lets out a shaky breath. “Yeah. That feels good. I. hate. You. I hate you! I should break this glass and do a homemade trepanation on your stupid brain. But you know what, rear end in a top hat? That would be too good for you. Because right now, you’re stuck being you. And that's worse than a shard of glass to the frontal lobe.”

She stares hard at her reflection’s face. It stares back at her, twisted and feral. Her hands are braced on either side of the bathroom sink, fingers curled so that her nails scrape the countertop. Her shoulders are hunched. Her gnarled expression is framed by greasy clumps of hair.

“I’m glad you’re stuck in your stupid life,” she says. “Can’t even shower for your dumb job because you're a pointless animal.”

Maggie rolls her neck, lets out a peal of barking, hysterical laughter. “And--and, dude, even if you smelled like roses. Even if your basic physical presence wasn’t repugnant in every way. You would repulse people, because people got a sense for who doesn’t matter. And guess what, you don’t matter. You never factored in. You were never going to factor in.”

A twinge shoots through her left arm. Her left hand curls into a fist so that the countertop presses painfully against her knuckles. At the same time, all the strength goes out of her right arm, which collapses underneath her and sends her lurching to one side.

Idiot,” she hisses, catching herself before she can topple over. “You can’t even--you’re just a loving idiot.”

She regains her balance, but now her right arm is dead weight at her side. She can still feel it, but she can’t lift it anymore than she could sing Noah’s ark into existence on her front lawn.

“The front lawn you never mow,” she adds out loud. “The lawn you’re paying out the rear end to neglect. You--” she breaks into another shrieking fit of laughter, then sobers “--you told everyone how you were gonna get this house, get your life together, do all kinds of nice, homely things. Things you could put on your Facebook. It all sounded so nice when you were bragging about it, didn’t it?”

Her vision explodes into a lightning-bright starburst. A moment later, pain blossoms in her left cheek and quickly sends its tendrils down into the left side of her jaw. When her sight returns, she finds her left arm cocked and ready, fist balled up so tight the knuckles are bone white.

“I’m still standing, fuckbrains. Because you don’t even know how to throw a punch.”

Another fleshy thwack. Maggie staggers backward, cracks the back of her head against the wall. Scribbles of light wriggle out of the corner of her vision like luminescent worms.

Her left hand isn’t done. It grabs a fistful of hair and forces her head down. She falls. Her forehead clips the rim of the toilet hard enough to split skin. She collapses onto the small, stained rug, her right arm folded painfully beneath her body. Blood dribbles out of the wound, filling her right eye socket with a warm, sticky mess.

Her left hand still hasn’t let go of the fistful of hair. It yanks her head up hard enough to feel like whiplash, then slams her skull against the grimy floor as she screams, “Shitfucker!” Her vision goes completely back. The ringing in her ears is a wall of shrill needles jabbing at her brain.

She’s on her back. She doesn’t remember rolling over, but when her vision returns, all she can see is the mold-spotted expanse of the bathroom ceiling. Her right eye is glued shut by blood, and her left rolls wildly in its socket. She can’t make it focus.

She watches her left arm rise up and fumble with one of the drawers below the sink. Her left hand uses the handle to pull her into a sitting position, and the world lurches. Her stomach heaves. But she’s not done with herself yet.

Lefty opens the drawer all the way, reaches inside, and gropes around until it finds a familiar shape. It emerges again with a pair of slim scissors, some remnant of an ex-boyfriend’s shaving kit. The left arm angles itself so the scissors are aimed straight at her face.

“No no no nononoYes please no please yes, yes, yes,” she babbles. She scrambles backward until she collides with the tub. The hand and the weapon follow.

She feels tension in the left arm. It's coiling in preparation for the fatal strike. Her right arm, which has been limp as an empty sock up until now, shoots up, her right hand gripping the left wrist with ferocious strength before the blow can come.

“Just go,” she screeches. “I just want you to loving go away!

Lefty drops the scissors. Its arm yanks out and away from her body, pulling against her right hand like a panicked animal. She sprawls forward onto her belly, on top of her arms, which writhe underneath her like embattled cobras.

“I’m sorry,” she sobs into the linoleum. “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry.”

The left arm wriggles out from under her body and pushes her up onto her knees. Her stomach heaves and she wretches, which sends new ripples of pain up into the hurricane of agony that’s whirling in the center of her skull.

“Please be nice to me,” she slurs. “Please love me.”

The left elbow nearly buckles, but straightens itself.

“You wouldn’t love you if you were someone else,” she says, but her voice is less certain. She collapses onto her left side and curls into a tight ball of blood and pain and tears.

“Please forgive me,” she whispers.

The left arm twitches in one last spasm of rage. Then both arms wrap tightly around her. The embrace is too little, too late, but it’s something. And now Maggie has a moment to simply rest in the straightforward landscape of physical pain. She croons to herself and weeps softly into the floor.

She lays there for a time, waiting for her brain to explode. She doesn’t know how much damage she’s done to herself, but everything is blurry and doubled and her stomach churns in spite of its emptiness. Her thoughts spin in meaningless circles, a wheel turning but going nowhere. She waits to die.

But she doesn’t die. And, after an interval that feels like an eon, she finds the strength to drag herself to the phone and dial three numbers.

“I need help,” she says, though she can’t tell if the sounds she’s making are even words. “I can’t stop being me and it hurts too much and I don’t think I can stop myself again.”

“Stay with me,” says the voice on the other line. “Someone is coming to help you. Just stay on the line. I’m going to be right here with you.”

Maggie sobs into the receiver, sobs for grief and gratitude that she’ll see another day.

Jun 24, 2012

Strum in a harmonizing quartet
I want to cause a revolution

What can I do? My savage
nature is beyond wild
Black and Blues
974 Words
FLASH: Unconventional Weaponry

The stage set aflare; Sparklers and light beams blasted the majestic stage, as the spectators roared with anticipation. After 8 months, the legendary band Jealousy finally broke off their sudden hiatus, and announced a new concert. It was taking place at the newly constructed concert stadium, The World’s Stage, in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts.

The speakers boomed, and ushered in the dazzling arrival of tonight’s stars. The groupies murmured, whispering rumors and heresy about the reasons for the sudden hiatus. Was it family issues? Money? A lover’s quarrel? Or perhaps….

As the fog machines bellowed out ominous haze, the crew tore through the shroud, wielding their instruments, ready for war. Chad Orton and Matthew Smith brandished their axes. Samantha Beck seated herself at the drums, writhing with anxiety.

However, all eyes were on the singer, Lizzie Daniel. Unlike her bandmates, with their bubbly demeanors reflecting the energy of the audience, she had a gaunt expression that was unmistakably set in. The crowd’s fervor was not quashed, but the atmosphere that blanketed the stage darkened. The props on stage receded into the background and the stars took precedence, their heavenly aura radiating out through the chilled crowd, into the December-night sky.

“Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood evening Boston! I see you all eyeing us. Jealous?” Lizzie grinned. The crowd erupted, electrifying The World’s Stage.

“Let’s give it our all, everybody! Chad, Matt, Sammy! Let’s do this!”


“Thank you so much for coming out here tonight! It felt so good to up here performing for you all. Goodbye, everybody!” Lizzie holstered her microphone, and bowed. Drenched in sweat and exasperated, the singer slinked backstage, followed by her entourage. Samantha quickly followed suit.


Samantha followed Lizzie outside, into the alleyway. Liz hobbled over to the trashcans, and retched behind them. Sammy confronted her friend.

“So, what are you going to do now, Liz? You got your wish. Now I think it’s time we should be getting back to the hos-“


“What are you saying? You barely made it through tonight without collapsing. I was so scared that I thought you’d pass out screaming-“

Thwack. Sammy’s cheeks flushed, and she staggered a bit. Taken aback for a moment, she gritted her teeth.

“You bitch…after all we’ve done for you, and this is how you repay us. I’ve been your friend since Kindergarden, for Christ’s sake. Listen, if you keep on straining yourself, you’re gonna-“

Shut up! Pluugh!” Lizzie spurted out, blood and vomit splattering out from the corners of her mouth. “You guys have no right telling me what to do. Not now. If I’m going out soon, I’m going out on my own terms. Do you loving hear me? Pluggh!”

“Dumbass…you’re not gonna die, capisce? You just need to rest until you get better, then-“

“You know that’s a lie! I’ve been sick all this time, and I’ve only been getting worse. I’m wasting away Sam, and I don’t have much time left. I want to continue singing until the end. What’s wrong with that?”

“Lizzie, listen. Your family, and all of us are worried that you’re gonna drop dead from exhaustion, all that we want is to help you get better, and the best way to do that is to follow the doctor’s orders and continue with the treatments.”

“Thanks for the concern, but all you guys care about is your image. You’d rather not have the crowd see sickly old me, or have to deal with the controversy. You’re just a bunch of selfish bastards-“

Thwack. Lizzie collapsed into the trashcan, scrapping her elbows against the concrete ground.

“Sam…I can’t believe you..”

Sammy, aghast, took a step back, shaking her head and mouthing an apology. But it was too late.

“Rrrraghhhh!” Lizzie scampered up, bracing herself on the brick wall, and grabbed the trash lid. She charged at her friend, and swung the saucer over her head, bringing it down on Samantha. She tried to repeat this motion, but Sammy grabbed ahold of the trash lid, and the two began wrestling for it. Lizzie lifted her knee up, and winded Sammy, knocking her down.

Standing over her, Lizzie slammed down the trash lid mechanically, as Samantha blocked the impromptu weapon with her arms. Sammy kicked up, tripping up Liz. Sammy jumped up straight, and lifted her leg up high. She swung it into Liz’s shoulder, twisting the sickly girl into a submission pose. Sammy pinned Liz down, sitting on her back, and took out her drumsticks from her pocket, and pressed them firmly against Liz’s neck.

Sammy called out for anybody to help restrain Liz.

“Somebody, come quick! I need help!”

Lizzie grasped at the drumsticks with both arms trying to pull them away, but she found that she was being overpowered, and was starting to lose consciousness. Grasping for anything, she reached into her pocket where she had stashed her microphone. She pulled it out and smacked Sammy in the face with all of her might. Sammy loosened her grip, and Liz snatched the drumsticks away. With both instruments in hand, Liz thrust them behind her, then-


Samantha was making an ungodly huffing sound. Lizzie was able to turn her body around, and see that the drumsticks had punctured Sammy's throat.

"Oh God. Sam! Sam!"

Lizzie, seeing Sammy croaking on the ground, wheezing in agony, couldn't take it anymore, and bolted, running as far as her legs could take her.


Lizzie ran all night, trembling, hacking up blood as she went. Her soul chilled over, and as the night went on, her bones got colder and colder.

In a park, Lizzie's legs gave out, and she crumpled onto the side of the dirt path. Liz laid face-down, shuddering at the events of that night. She was so tired, but she did not want tomorrow to come anymore.

Apr 22, 2008


Killer-of-Lawyers fucked around with this message at 03:58 on Jan 3, 2018

The Cut of Your Jib
Apr 23, 2007

you don't find a style

a style finds you

Riley's Last Ride
999 Words

It was a dog-eared night in March—a page out of my life that I’ve read one too many times; camera in hand, sitting behind the wheel of my old sedan. More putty and rust than good American steel, the one you hear for blocks before you see it and when you do you wonder how it hasn’t crumbled to dust and blown away under a stiff breeze. Click.

The john zips his fly and tucks his shirt as he walks out of the alley between the Chinese restaurant and the burned-out peep show on the corner. The rotten core didn’t heal or disappear. It just spilled out into the streets. Click.

The alleys and dive bars are simple; up in the shining towers across the river, somebody’s grudge can bring half the city down with them. Or they just wall themselves away and forget about the mess they made. Click.

But that’s what pays my bills. You can pay an army of computer hackers, or one dope with a camera to catch a rich dope with his pants down. This particular dope still tucking his shirt is some city councilman. And this explains why he’s been stuffing up the votes on redeveloping the block. Got a proclivity for slumming it and doesn’t want his backalley hooker to lose her place of business. Sweet guy. I wouldn’t wish gentrification on my worst enemy, but anything’s better than the rows of rotten teeth that line 103rd. Click.

Councilman rounds the corner to the SUV idling under the lone streetlight. And then a set of brass knuckles wedged on a hamhock of a fist comes through my window and smashes the camera into my face. They pay me to take pictures, not muse. I screwed up. Didn’t notice the bodyguard slip around behind my rustbucket. Before I can get it together, the lug hauls me out the window like a side of beef on his meathooks and I flop to the greasy pavement. poo poo.

A taste of iron before I catch a breath and the flashbang fades to sharp throbs. Nose broken. Again. I squint up through eyes I can already feel swelling shut and see a painfully familiar face. “Billygoat. What the hell, man?”

“Three strikes, Riley,” he says. “You’re out.” Billygoat’s always been small potatoes, running numbers and a protection racket, and we’ve had nickel-and-dime dust-ups. Sonuvabitch broke my nose before, too. Now he’s schooling with a shark and I only brought a minnow net.

“Hold on a minute.” But Billygoat heaves me up. The toes of my shoes scrape along as he yank-carries me across the street and down the piss-stained stairs to a basement lair under the charred corpse of the theater.

He drops me in a wobbly chair and sits across a sticky table between me and the door. He pours two shots and holds his up. “You’ve been a pain in my rear end. Very naughty spying on Hayes. He doesn’t like people following him. To goodbyes. It was nice knowing you, Riley.” Billygoat takes his shot, and I wipe the half-crusted blood from my lip before following suit.

He slams the shot glass down and leans his scruffy face in close towards mine, “Time’s up.”

The Saturday night special under the table in my left is pointed squarely at the bulge in his too-tight jeans. “I know.” Never been a gun guy, but something just felt off this morning, and for once, I’m glad I followed my instincts. Billygoat was probably right—I wouldn’t make it out of this rathole; but I’d do some damage on the way out. “Have another drink,” I say. “This is going to hurt.”

Click. Click. Nothing. poo poo. Billygoat’s eyes go wide at the sound of the gunhammer. The cheap gun’s betrayal cracks louder than the Fourth of July. Run down the checklist for survival fighting. Go for the orbs. The big lug’s nuts are too far away for anything but playing footsies. Oh, but those bloodshot eyes are right there.

I slam the shot glass into his right orbit like breaking into a creme broulee. There’s a quick crunch then the smooth squish as the glass presses into his socket and his eyeball fills the glass with a sick suction sound like a novelty stress ball. 103rd Street Monocle.

Billygoat roars and the table flips, sending me sprawling. In an instant, he’s on top of me and I feel my ribs cracking under his knee. I cock him in the temple with the butt of the gun before he tears it from my hand and it flips away into the darkness.

But it stuns him just enough for me to flip him sideways and for a moment we’re side-by-side on the ragged linoleum, two busted up skulls staring skyward and seeing black mold and asbestos where heaven ought to be.

The reverie ends as he heaves his big brass-knuckled hand over his body and my ribs crackle like paper under the blow. The supernova’s right around the corner as things start to get dim and bright all at the same time.

I focus on the quick short stabs as I breathe shallow and it’s enough to clear my head and I struggle to my feet. Billygoat starts getting to his feet and I just open-palm punch him right in the shot glass. He drops back to the floor. I topple down on top of him and I just push and twist that glass until I feel the grit of glass grinding on bone.

He finally goes slack. Even this tough old goat has a breaking point. Still breathing, at least. The arduous trek back to the car takes longer than I ever thought possible. Hayes and his SUV long gone.

The street is quiet, for once. It’s like they can sense the change coming. A little memory card filled with dirty pictures and protected with way too much of my blood is going to change lives, mine too. Consider me retired.


Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004


Piss and Vinegar
900 Words

Zach was eighteen with two weeks’ pay burning a hole in his pocket. He left the diner full of cheap beer and funny ideas. He’d struck out tonight, but so what? There was always another day. He stepped out into the warm summer air feeling elated, high, giddy with anticipation. He wasn’t sure where he was headed and right now he didn’t care.

That might explain why he didn’t see the two following him until they were almost on him.

One of them yelled something that caught his ear. He turned around and met a baseball bat with his stomach.

Zach doubled over, fell back into an alleyway, somehow managed to stay on his feet. Everything went black and fireworks burst in his eye sockets. He couldn’t breathe.

“You think you can talk to her?” a voice asked, almost familiar. “Do whatever you want?” Zach didn’t have time to think.

He backed up blindly until his back hit something cold and solid with a metallic thud—the side of a dumpster. His vision was coming back, now. He caught a glimpse of his attackers as they advanced. The one holding the bat was thin, scrawny, maybe younger than Zach. The other was big and muscled—was he on the football team? his mind was racing—wearing a set of knuckle dusters that were rapidly approaching his face.

Zach rolled along the side of the dumpster just in time. Metal struck metal with an echoing clang.

He tried to cry for help, but he found only a thick tight knot of pain in his lungs where air should have been.

The heavy one stepped back, cursing and shaking his hand. The other swung his bat at Zach, and he dodged back behind the corner of the bin. He cough-gagged from the effort. That was progress, of a sort, at least.

The bat was coming at him again. Zach grunted, put his head and shoulder down, and barreled into his attacker. They both smacked into the dumpster with a thud. The kid was hit awkwardly, taken by surprise more than anything. But they scrapped together, pulling and scratching, and the bat was useless at this range.

Here, face to face, Zach got a good look at his attacker’s pockmarked face. Jay Palmoni. Zach never saw him out of the orbit of Dodger Peele, the linebacker—which explained who his second attacker was. Now he remembered these. An ugly pair. He had tried to avoid them at school, but he must have missed them at the diner tonight.

Jay grunted in frustration and tried to knee him. Zach blocked with his own leg, mostly, and managed to wrestle the bat from his hand. It clattered out on the pavement.

Zach tried to work one arm loose while still keeping all his weight to bear, pinning Jay to the bin. He managed to get his arm free and got in one good hit into the side of his head. As he pulled back to swing again, a hand clutched his wrist from the side, and another arm grabbed his chest.

“Get off him,” Dodger hissed in his ear, his breath stinking of sour beer and garlic. Zach’s right arm was pulled back—back—too far—and something in his shoulder popped.

Now, finally, he found his voice, the way lit by raw red pain, an inchoate howl.

At this, the door burst open from the side of one of the buildings. “All right, punks,” someone said from the doorway. “Go get yourselves lost.” Zach recognized the voice of Mr. Fanwood, owner of the druggist here on Main Street. Then came the unmistakable sound of a shotgun being pumped.

“Right, old man,” the scrawny one said. The hands holding Zach let him go and he collapsed against the dumpster. Footsteps retreated down the alley, then a voice called out: “Remember what we said, boy. We’re keeping our eyes on you.” They beat a hasty retreat.

Zach sunk against the side of the dumpster. His breath came in shuddering, ragged bursts. “Thanks, mister,” he managed, and looked up.

But the eyes he saw were not friendly. “Get up,” Fanwood said. He stepped out of the doorway into the yellow half-light of the alley. “Get on out of here. Don’t want no friend of the family bleeding here outside my store.” He cradled the gun in his arms.

Zach slowly blinked, looked out into the deserted street, then met Fanwood’s gaze again. It didn’t change. “Sir,” he said with a wobbling voice, and with slow precision, he gingerly climbed to his feet. “Right away, sir.” He wiped the blood from his mouth, looked up at the shopkeeper, and slowly, deliberately wiped it on his jeans. They had been new, once. Before tonight.

“Go on, now. Get.” Zach stumbled to the mouth of the alleyway, followed by Fanwood’s voice. “Don’t make me call the cops,” he said with a sneer in his voice.

Fanwood went back inside and watched from the storefront until the boy had disappeared down the road. “Kids,” he grumbled. He set the shotgun back in place behind the counter and sat down on his stool.

“Everything all right out there, sir?” his assistant asked, and pursed her lips. Fanwood always thought her thick glasses made her look like a squirrel.

“No,” he said, opening the newspaper. “No, it is not. But we’re gonna keep on living anyway.”

“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” -- Sun Tzu

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