Thanks for the crit.
Here are more crits:
Competition Week Crits Part 2 of 2
Chainmail Onesie: No Left-Handed Swordsmen
This story’s dedication to authenticity is both its greatest strength and greatest weakness. Not that I would know if you actually made all the terminology up, but it feels authentic. This ends up guiding the tone of the story, at the cost of burying the reader underneath. It worked for me, but I think the difference between it working and not working is down to reader preference and patience.
The story itself is both simple and complex. Simple in that this isn’t an emotional arc of new ground, anyone can instinctively understand revenge for perceived slight. Complex in that you let us stew in it, and you layer on multiple reasons for seeking revenge. The main character has strong ties to swordsmanship, the dojo, his own lack of talent and need for effort, and his master.
I think it is a correct choice here to start with the present and occasionally move back, weaving to let us understand the why as we get the what. What makes this a powerful tool in this specific instance is the clear labeling of first, second, irredeemable affront. We get to understand a lot about what happened, how the character feels about it, and how it impacts the conflict in the here and now.
The story’s only other big weakness -besides the typos I mentioned in my mini-crit - is sometimes the language used doesn’t match the story. You were going for a very specific effect and when the language was more casual than what I’d expect, it was jarring. With a little more polish, I think there could have been debate for this winning.
Uranium Phoenix: The Finite Possibilities
It’s hard for me to give this story a crit as detailed as other stories. It’s cute, the language is fine, and I personally found it funny. There’s even some nice banter about competing views on society’s ideal, which I enjoyed. However, I’d also say it’s the worst part of the story; there’s a limit to how much philosophizing anyone can handle, and this was dangerously close to going over the edge for me, held back only by how much I otherwise enjoyed the cute and funny aspects. I’m not saying get rid of it, but if it had been a little less preachy, a little less one sided in the process, it would have improved the story greatly.
Exmond: The Bandit and The Lady
There are several technical issues in the writing with this story, but they aren’t my main concern.
First, what I liked: Like other stories this week, you were aiming for a particular tone, and I think you achieved it. There’s a ballroom banter at play here and I think it works well. The story lavishes the reader with dialogue that understates, or otherwise wraps harsh bites in story-appropriate wording, so props for that.
I don’t personally have a problem with the style of conflict when first introduced, as I can suspend my disbelief when you tell me that a fashion competition is the honored tradition. You set enough of the stage for me to accept this fantastical.
Where I do run into a problem is how you implemented it. Giving me a lot of description about the clothes they’re wearing is probably the worst thing you could have done. My eyes protest at being forced to read that much description. How, then, should you do a fashion competition? Well, with a focus on preferably character, failing that action, or really anything please ANYTHING PLEASE other than paragraphs of clothing description. I have no reason to believe anything you’re showing me is anything other than that, even if you intended it to be.
You seem to intend to show off their personalities with their clothing, especially in the last part, but that should all really come before the competition. I need established who these people are, what they are like and how their motives are, for them to then have a meaningful contest. Yet, I wasn’t really given a reason to care about either The Bandit or the Lady.
What I needed from this, more than anything else, was characters who felt like people, not types. But with names like The Bandit and The Lady, I don’t think ‘people’ was the effect any reader would get. I think you would have done much better if you’d focused on that. All major problems with the story were extensions of that core issue
Jon Joe fucked around with this message at 00:47 on Apr 18, 2018
|# ? Apr 18, 2018 00:32|
|# ? Dec 3, 2021 08:07|
that's bold af and i love it. good luck and godspeed.
Thank you sir. Do we have to use the quotes in the story or is it more of a suggestion?
|# ? Apr 18, 2018 01:20|
Thank you sir. Do we have to use the quotes in the story or is it more of a suggestion?
It is inspiration, my dude. I'm not like those old crusty judges. I'm a cool judge.
|# ? Apr 18, 2018 01:25|
|# ? Apr 18, 2018 01:28|
|# ? Apr 18, 2018 02:10|
A crit for BeefSupreme re: his submission for week 296
I'm gonna copy your format because it was good.
Charlotte is a bubbly young woman who's just been called in for an interview at an architecture firm. Upon receiving the news that they're calling her in, she immediately calls her dad. Dad is having dinner with Charlotte's sister, Lauren, and the family has a bit of light banter after Dad congratulates Charlotte. The conversation quickly turns cold when Dad asks Charlotte if she's told her mother about the interview. The scene isn't explicit about what Mom did (yet), but it clearly is a sore subject for Charlotte, and Dad makes things worse by imploring Charlotte to talk to her mom. Charlotte stops herself mid rant and closes the conversation with her dad amicably.
The next scene follows a woman called Eleanor, who is revealed to be Charlotte's estranged mother. Eleanor is interviewing for the same position at the same firm as Charlotte, and accidentally gives her previous married name to the receptionist. Eleanor is rocking a new haircut and more makeup than she's comfortable with, and is clearly nervous about applying for a job for the first time in (apparently) 15 years. The door to the room where the interviews are taking place opens, and out steps Charlotte. Mother and daughter exchange shocked looks.
Cut to the sisters sitting together in Lauren's room. They listen to some Billie Holiday, then talk about Eleanor. Charlotte admits that she hadn't seen their mom so put together in a while. Lauren admits that she misses their mom. Painful as it is, Charlotte agrees.
The final scene brings us to a coffee shop, where Charlotte and Eleanor are face to fact at last. It's a tense meeting, with emotions immediately flaring. Eleanor asks after Dad, which kicks up the long-held rage Charlotte has. But shortly, Charlotte's grief at "losing" her mother supersedes the anger. It becomes clear that Eleanor left Dad for another man, but that other man didn't work out, and I guess that means Eleanor has to get a job for the first time in a while. In a moving gesture, Charlotte reveals that she was offered the job, but declined it and asked them to give it to Eleanor instead. Eleanor feels a swell of emotion, and Charlotte leaves the coffee shop after telling her mom that she'll call her.
This is a story about letting go of anger. The conflict is definitely not the centerpiece; if anything, it's really just the catalyst for a mother/daughter reunion. Charlotte's emotions are what add any weight and movement to the piece. Parents splitting up is a deep betrayal of their children's implicit trust, and it's pretty understandable that Charlotte would feel very protective of her father, even though he doesn't seem to hold the same grudge.
Charlotte's concession to Eleanor, when she turns down the job, seems like kind of a big deal, and should represent maybe some emotional growth (or at least change). However, it's pretty apparent that Charlotte is young and has her whole life in front of her, whereas Eleanor is gonna have a much harder time in the workforce because of her apparent lack of recent job history. So maybe giving the job opportunity to Eleanor is Charlotte's way of making nice without conceding too much, which would add some needed nuance to the ending.
As it is, I'm not sure whether or not to read Charlotte's concession as a big deal or not.
As for what this story conveys overall, I'm not really sure. Forgiveness is good. Letting go of anger is good. Family is important, even when they suck? It's good to be the bigger woman?
I struggled to analyze this story because like, all the plot beats made sense and I got a decent sense of all these people, but I wasn't sure how to feel at the end. Eleanor seems to basically live apart from her family, having given them up for some guy. She's not drawn as a particularly likeable person, so I had trouble feeling good about the way things ended up. The ending SHOULD feel good, but it ends up feeling kind of contrived since none of the events we see in the story incite an obvious change.
Charlotte sees her mom unexpectedly and has a brief conversation with her sister where they agree they miss their mom, but there's no sense of Charlotte's inner monologue about why she responds the way she does. In a weird way, I want this story to be from Eleanor's perspective, leading up to Charlotte's generous act in the final scene. It would be more of a, I dunno, surprise? And you could've spent the time invoking some sympathy for Eleanor, show how living in the consequences of her choices changed her.
Dad and Lauren are pretty thin. They aren't meant to be primary characters, but they are very much generic characters from American TV. The conversation in the first section of the story is more saccharine than interesting, even if it sets up the backstory. I wish Dad had hinted even a little bit as to why he feels the need to advocate for Eleanor.
Also, I was frustrated that Lauren and Charlotte's conversation was evidently some sort of turning point in the story. Like, they're sisters. I would be shocked if they'd never had an emotional conversation about their mom before this. There was nothing about that scene that seemed particularly revelatory, I guess?
Also, I don't think flash fic is really the place to include bland dialog like the conversation with the receptionist. You can just say in the prose that Eleanor gave her married name to the receptionist, then corrected herself.
Overall, this felt clean, but thin. I am not sure what the BeefSupreme clan is like, but this felt divorced from anything personal or authentically emotional. If I could make one recommendation, I would say that you should dig deeper. Go more raw and delve into your characters' personalities more. Sort out what makes them unique, even if it's something relatively small. Right now I'm visualizing some off-brand version of the family from the show Seventh Heaven, and I would thank you kindly to not make me think of that.
|# ? Apr 18, 2018 03:19|
thanks for the above
|# ? Apr 18, 2018 05:40|
Alright I'm in gimme a thing
|# ? Apr 18, 2018 06:15|
A crit for BeefSupreme re: his submission for week 296
Also these are great crits how do I get me one of these?
|# ? Apr 18, 2018 06:59|
What makes the piece ultimately work so well in my opinion - I’m talking to you, other writers -
Thanks for the crit
I'll try to keep doing good words like this in the future
|# ? Apr 18, 2018 08:06|
Alright I'm in gimme a thing
"Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!"
|# ? Apr 18, 2018 15:16|
thanks for the above
HEY BEEFSUPREME WHERE IS MY CHRISTMAS STORY
i wait every day by the window hoping it'll show up
|# ? Apr 18, 2018 18:56|
HEY BEEFSUPREME WHERE IS MY CHRISTMAS STORY
i totally forgot to send that to you
because i am a bad person
and santa is not real
yeah hold on i got you fam
|# ? Apr 18, 2018 19:36|
Critiques for Weeks IV, XXXIX, CCLVIII, CCLIX, and CCLX: Bad Air Day
A few more crits for stately stories of the saintly days of yore. No sex tulpas this time, but there's forced human breeding! And here it isn't even Christmas.
Week 4: last man on the moon
Bad Seafood, "Last One Out, Hit the Lights": "He grit his teeth, shuttering." Oh, Seafood. Some things never change, or at any rate hadn't changed yet when Week 35 came along. Your sentences and your formatting are rough here. I don't understand the endless iron shelves or the link between Alan's photograph and his father. The story I'm interested in exists in that link: in the early going I assume the moon meant something particular to Alan and his dad, and that he's desperate to do what his father never could. Now I realize that Alan probably wanted to go for himself alone, and this removes some of the pathos (not that there's much regardless; his all-caps screaming and tearing of the photograph is nigh-pure melodrama) from his rage. It reads like a tantrum, however justified. There's surprisingly little to the piece considering the number of characters and conversations. Still, there's something to the conflict of dream and reality here, something that could be salvaged if you came back to it with a more experienced eye.
Week 39: Lurid & Astounding Tales of Pulp Submissions
Dr. Kloctopussy, "Titan's Cowgirl": Does that guy just stand there waiting while L. V. turns a wire into a lasso? He's too dumb to live! Okay, I know: it's pulp, some convenience for the sake of action is to be expected, but that bit makes my brow furrow while the retractable razors and grappling-hook shots get a pass. I'd like more story on Neil, who's important enough to rate the words, and I missed the moment when the mission apparently became hopeless, but you've got some of the crazy energy I want in my pulp SF. Cutting or killing a character or two could reduce the drag; CancerCakes was right on the money about that.
sebmojo, "A Lucky Break": Fanfic Week might have been a better match for this story, assuming you'd gone for Star Trek rather than Julian May as your source. McTavish is a leeeetle bit much in places, and by "places" I mean "that line at the end in which his dialect suddenly screamed up the ramp to eleven." It's possibly too much a parody to be honest pulp. Like Dr. K's, it has the energy, and there's plenty of room for light and goofy in the pulp tradition, so maybe if it had been goofy on its own terms...? Jim Spaceman is evidence that you're good at this sort of thing and better when you add more personal spin.
Week 258: DOUBLE TROUBLE with BAD CAT 1 and BAD CAT 2
ZeBourgeoisie, "There Are No Zombies in This Story": Uh-huh. Coming back to this story many weeks after I first reviewed it, I wanted to give it some benefit of the doubt. I managed to struggle past the "Vitamin D" line. Edward's supposed to be an rear end, right? When the butter and oyster arrived, however, my best intentions died aborning. I can practically hear you giggling over that self-reference, and this tale of people being forced into sex at the whims of demons is not improved by the hunch that its writer thinks he's being cute, I tell you what. The whole premise is full of holes. The aliens/demons/whatevers can't collect more humans without disturbing the ecosystem? Humans? Those things absolutely covering the planet and so numerous that scooping one or two off a mountaintop somewhere really shouldn't be a problem? And somehow breeding new humans is a better pet-shop plan than grabbing them when they're fully grown, even given the nine-month gestation period? Right. It's a transparent excuse for taking away Clara's ability to refuse Edward. You don't even make a story out of it; Clara and Edward accept their horrible situation and laugh. The end. My advice: stop submitting things that invite the question of whether we're reading your fetish material.
super sweet best pal, "A Divide": I appreciate that nobody ends up in a breeding zoo in your story, don't get me wrong, but its point is elusive. Wallace's bosses thwart him at every turn for no particular reason or gain. He gets so fed up with this that he ragequits. Okay, so? Maybe that's where the story should start. It would help if Wallace were a person and not a prop; his job, his nonsensical torment, and his hate are his only traits, and it's hard to be moved by the frustration of such a hollow figure. That does assume you're out to tell a story rather than to deliver a message. This reads very much like a message piece, and yet I don't know what you're trying to say. That treating someone like crap at every opportunity breeds resentment? That it's best to walk away from such arbitrary dickery? Granted and granted, but this is a strange, shallow way to say so. That a two-party system is irreconcilable and you'd be better off moving to... I don't know, Canada? Could be. Somehow I'm not convinced. As political allegory, this fails because the sages are nothing more than strawmen. As fiction worth reading, it fails by being muddled and dull.
Week 259: One, Two, Three
Noah, "Gorda": Some things about this setup scream to be more clear. You have something powerful in Andy's and Gorda's inexorable slide toward death, but the piece doesn't hold together well enough to realize its potential. The time frame of years is too long--what have these people been eating? Why have they been they left to die? I can't tell what the bicyclist's appearance signifies, where he came from or where he's headed, especially considering the earlier detail that the highway was destroyed. One could argue that to think too much about the logistics is to miss the point (it could all be a metaphor for Purgatory for all I know), but I would need to know what the bicyclist means to fully understand the ending.
Fuubi, "Slowdown": The worst thing I can say about this is that it tries to cheat on the word count. For shame, sir. The second-worst thing I can say is that it reads like a safety PSA--"Wear your seat belt, kids!" It isn't bad, though. It takes a mundane approach to warping time, which I sort of appreciate. The tragedy is familiar ground but still effective. One thing that continues not to work for you is "And then his life/the world/the age was changed!" as a final line: it's trite, although in this case it doesn't seem like a dodge on your part since I can infer the changes.
Fumblemouse, "Cursed Spite": My favorite theory is that the woman of the story isn't a woman, but a thing or an idea. She's the moon. A clock. A glass of fruit punch. I don't know. An ancient, pale face that changes suggests the first, but the moon has no delicious color. (Unless... unless it's cheese and you're a mouse! Hot drat. I've cracked the code!) Face and the temporal theme could indicate the second option, but again, clocks aren't edible. Food that has existed for eons uneaten probably isn't either, though I suppose the answer could be that she's a Twinkie waiting in an apocalypse bunker. Nothing fits--and this is still my theory of choice because I can't make heads or tails of the piece otherwise. There's a niggling suspicion in my head that you counted on prettiness to carry this one, and that's unfortunate for me if not for you since I don't find it pretty either: the repetition of face in particular grates more than it pleases.
Bad Seafood, "Homecoming": I fancy a literal reading in which the brother is walking, talking, and smiling with a hole in his head that everyone is too polite to talk about, the scar of a gunshot lobotomy performed by the protagonist. He caught his brother assaulting a woman in wartime, I think. He shot the man who did that thing; the brother who sits in the bar now is not the same. Maybe he's dead and no one knows. Maybe he's dead and everyone knows. Maybe the story has no magical realism at all and is set at a wake. The controlled ambiguity allows for several interpretations, and this is the story's strength.
Week 260: Empty Spaces
Jay W. Friks, "Teetering Towers": Your premise seems to be that an introvert who has spent as much of his life as possible inside his own head has decided to commit suicide after his Alzheimer's diagnosis, and after a good bit of fussing over the details, he goes through with it only to find himself inside one of his own fantasies. The collapse of the books in his imagined library mirrors the collapse of his memory. At that point he fears causing further damage (even though he's dead?) and holds himself still, until a glimpse of another fantasy promises an escape from his self-imposed prison. This doesn't hold up all that well. Part of it is likely metaphorical, with the narrator experiencing a death sequence, enduring Purgatory, drifting in a coma, or something like--I doubt he physically teleports into the book room. But I don't know what does happen to him, who has saved him if he isn't dead, or what is gained by trading one fantasy (books) for another (herons). The story feels as though it should be and perhaps wants to be about the man unchaining himself from his memories, but he never does. He's in the same position at the end as he was at the beginning, aside from maybe being dead. The pacing is also off as you dwell too long on his suicide plans. It's vexing to get so much detail about how he wants to die and so little about whether he actually does or what his visions mean.
Wizgot, "How It Had Been": Nothing happens, nada, zero, zip. A man standing around in a derelict mall isn't a story. What it is, at least in this case, is a set of lumps of exposition that bemoan the world. This particular doom-and-gloom, slaves-to-technology future has appeared in fiction frequently enough to approach cliche, and strong characters or a fresh spin would be required to make it interesting again. Your piece doesn't deliver either of those despite making an earnest stab at the former. The relationship between Henry and his wife reminds me strongly of Fahrenheit 451, but his wistful mourning for their youth--though it comes too late; by the time the story puts its emotional cards on the table, the curtain is nearly closed--is relatable, and it goes some distance toward infusing the image of the abandoned mall with melancholy. It isn't the mall he misses but the human connections. Unfortunately, that glint of promise is crushed under the dull dystopia.
RandomPauI, "Just Glue and Sand and Glass": All right, so Victoria wants to go back in time to when she and everyone else thought she would grow up to be the sort of woman who wears blue cadet jackets. She turned out differently in some part--maybe--because of a love affair that might have been tragic or maybe not, who knows; if it were that scarring you'd think she might remember how James died. Apparently having been "betrayed" by someone who had the temerity to die has shaped her into a petulant bitch who begrudges people their family emergencies. This isn't a compelling story even so far as it can be understood. In the early stretches it's weighed down by details that never matter; the itinerary of Victoria's lunch with Joan is a waste of time, and the description of Victoria's outfit tells me nothing new about her. What I can't get over, though, is James dying "somehow," and Victoria blaming everyone around her for not... what, defying death to stay by her side? She's so selfish that I could believe you want and intend for her to be found repellent. In that case you've succeeded, but to what good end?
sebmojo, "Between the stirrup and the ground": This isn't as great when taken away from its flash rules. The contrast of Schatz's perspective against Ernest's is interesting; Ernest's optimism in the face of grinding poverty lends some pathos. Schatz's proverbs are babble for the reader who doesn't know German, however, and expecting anyone to break out a language dictionary for the sake of the story would ordinarily be insane--it doesn't reward the necessary investment except as a response to the soul-crushing rules you were given. It excels in that regard! Boy howdy, does it ever. Telling the same story through different lenses is a brilliant answer to the palindrome requirement, the more so because it emphasizes the endless cycle of Ernest and Schatz's days. (In turn, that's echoed in the endless turn of Ernest's hand-organ. Really nice.) The same proverbs take on different meanings depending on whose mouth is saying them. Needless to say, the rules also excuse the language antics. I appreciate it very much more as a response to a challenge, and I call the HM well earned.
magnificent7, "1974-1980": Psst. mag7. I don't know if you're aware, but the air is bad. I will periodically remind you throughout this crit to make sure you don't forget. I wish you hadn't opened with that piece of information, because it cuts any suspense off at the knees. (The air is bad.) One knows immediately what's up with Eric. The only question is why the bad air--because it's bad, this air--is there, what happened to fill a flooded basement with carbon monoxide or whatever the heck it is (other than bad; it's definitely that). No, wait, I can think of another: why is it still there? Why did the city leave a government building full of bad, bad air, and why are people allowed inside, and what the hell, mag7. What the hell. It's something of a shame, since I enjoy the unusual writing style and could dig the situation in general. The main point to fix is that no one should know about the bad air until it's too late.
super sweet best pal, "Lakeside Architecture": Punctuation mistakes are the least of your problems, though you've made a lot of them. Your unenthusiastic protagonist could hardly care less about the derelict staircase or the marijuana drop, and his claims of shock and guilt over Joey's random off-camera death aren't the most convincing I've ever seen--probably because he mentions the horror of it like an afterthought. Main characters should care about what's going on, or else the reader won't. Joey is a random name dropped in toward the end only so someone can die over this marijuana. Can I just say, getting murdered over weed is a little strange? A different drug might have increased the tension. If Unenthusiastic Protagonist had found ten pounds of black-tar heroin, maybe even he would have given a drat.
Kaishai fucked around with this message at 15:16 on May 11, 2018
|# ? Apr 19, 2018 03:01|
Thanks for the crit.
Many thanks, these be some high quality and insightful crits
|# ? Apr 19, 2018 11:51|
I'm In. The only Idris Elba thing I have seen is the Dark Tower!
|# ? Apr 19, 2018 17:48|
I'm In. The only Idris Elba thing I have seen is the Dark Tower!
"The heart's nothing but muscle."
|# ? Apr 19, 2018 18:09|
Y'all got about a day left to sign up and I still have three quotes that I really wanna give out
|# ? Apr 20, 2018 04:58|
in. prompt me.
|# ? Apr 21, 2018 02:33|
in. prompt me.
"It's Christmas. We need the holidays to show time is still moving."
|# ? Apr 21, 2018 03:58|
oh ya and sign ups are closed gl everybody
|# ? Apr 21, 2018 04:12|
not a judge and not in this week but i bolded the bit i'll bet everyone was gonna forget to do
|# ? Apr 21, 2018 07:41|
also fuckit while i'm making unsolicited advice posts, make sure to put any individual prompts of flash rules in your submission post
doing so will prevent future copies of you from being tormented in a simulation run by an all-powerful AI
|# ? Apr 21, 2018 07:44|
oh lol the OP link to current prompt is last weeks. whoops.
|# ? Apr 21, 2018 17:33|
TD Week #297 Crits for Something Completely Different
I tried to read the stories anonymously, but the combination of people announcing when they were done in irc and style recognition made it so I knew who quite a few people were. My crits were done independently, so if I’m telling you something the other two judges told you, it’s probably worth considering. Per Deltasquid’s suggestion, I also used a 20 point rating system, broken into the categories of Voice, Story, Prose, and Whatever-I-Feel-Like (each category 0-5).
hear r ur crits
A night at the theater
Voice: 3 ; Story: 2 ; Prose: 2 ; Whatever: 2
A lovely love triangle leads to at least two deaths. The problem is I don't buy the maintenance guy's character at all. I get that he’s socially awkward. However, one would assume maybe he would try ‘talk to Cherry’ prior to ‘murder competition.’ The plot is relatively predictable. There is a voice shift at least. However, there’s a big problem with the prose. Reread the first two paragraphs that have Sean’s voice. That poo poo is hard to parse. You also have a tense shift that isn’t necessary. Finally, the ending sort of made me think you were going for tragedy-comedy, but the comedy is sort of missing until this end scene. That, and we have no reason Lavender likes Sean. None. So I don’t buy her motivation either.
Her Bastard Children
Voice: 2 ; Story: 2 ; Prose: 3 ; Whatever: 2
This is some crazy demon poo poo. You have a nice hook but the first readthrough I was confused as heck. I thought maybe Owen was crazy and was making excuses for his domestic violence. Second readthrough, it's a bit 'clearer' that the two characters just get gibbed by demons and there's really nothing they can do about it. It’s okay horror, but one of the things that makes horror more effective imo is the journey from normalcy to terror and powerlessness, but the normalcy and power of the characters is never established. The characters are passive; they seemingly can’t take any sort of action, so the story just passes them by. I liked some of the surreal descriptions. Work on the arc of the story and clarity (part 2 was especially confusing). The voice shift is not great. There are several proofreading errors (“It’s stiletto…”), so get those too.
Voice: 2 ; Story: 1 ; Prose: 1 ; Whatever: 1
This is a superficial look at the 'divide' between libs/con and city/country that is so stereotypical as to be offensive. It nearly reads as a screed in some places. It also read to me like someone writing what they think professors do/sound like who has never actually talked to a professor or heard academics talk at all and has no idea what they do. The characters are shallow. I don't buy them as people at all, because they’re so one dimensional. They are defined by their stereotype, and you’re practically smashing the reader in the face with how you want them to feel about each character (Klein smirks about literally everything so hate her; Shazier is down on her luck so feel sympathy; Burbank is hard working salt-of-the-earth with a soldier son, so feel sympathy).
It’s also not great as a story. The entire two intro paragraphs should be cut, as they add almost nothing to do the story and set it off to a boring start. Think about the arc/conflict of your story. First, it’s unclear what the conflict of the story is until the end. I thought it might be about reconciling differences between people with different backgrounds, but no, it’s not. It’s actually about a rude person getting comeuppance. That in mind, the rude person learns nothing, and is punished by an allergic reaction. The diner owner, having committed the crime of intentionally poisoning one of her clients (but is supposed to be sympathetic) still has her son either dying or being severely wounded and traumatized. Furthermore, the son’s problem is introduced into the story, then never resolved. That’s bad. The bigger problem is that you outright state “There was a reason the women had come here, and it wasn't the food. It was to touch, briefly, the lives of those who had experienced more than mere inconvenience.” But the story isn’t about that. That is never resolved, and no one makes any effort to ‘touch lives’ or learn about each other in any way shape or form. So your story isn’t really about that, and worse, it doesn’t seem to have anything interesting to say about it.
There’s other problems, but you should focus primarily on developing characters who feel like people, and figure out what your story is actually about before you just jam an ending on there.
Damo's very bad day
Voice: 5 ; Story: 1 ; Prose: 4 ; Whatever: 3
The voice of this story is established well. This is the first voice flip I didn't immediately expect or see the connection to, so I appreciate that. I don't buy that the meteor has time to smell anything. There isn't much of a story here, but I don’t get the sense you were going for anything but a brief sketch of two lives. I dunno what to think of the living meteor except as a contrast to Damo. The only message I get is that everyone dies, whether drunk dudes or time-spanning consciousnesses.
A Baron's Son, A Hunter's Daughter
Voice: 1 ; Story: 3 ; Prose: 3 ; Whatever: 2.5
The voice feels similar here; You changed the pacing of the story, but pacing is not voice. It’s pretty obvious that the second portion would have the victim finding a double-secret thing, but the knife is a lame twist. I’d rather see some elaborate architecture trap, as the story set up. As it is, the story feels a bit Hollywood horror, how so many movies have the ‘monster’ slowly walking after a panicked victim. The story has a full finish, comeuppance, though it's heavily told not shown. Didn't care that much about the characters, or even dislike the king. I think we needed more connections to the characters; they’re introduced and dumped too fast, so the story lacks any emotional satisfaction from the ending.
Voice: 4 ; Story: 3 ; Prose: 4 ; Whatever: 3
This was an amusing story, finally with some characters I like. Vonta and David are a hilarious pair, and the absurdity of the piece sets a good tone that the story sticks too. I like the voice shift. I also like how there’s a parallel way the scenes are set up, each having a character being visited in their domains to discuss a problem. As a whole, it’s a funny story that wraps up nicely.
Bent Out of Shape
Voice: 3 ; Story: 1 ; Prose: 2 ; Whatever: 2.5
*Another fairy story, apparently, though this one takes itself far more seriously. You have an okay hook, but then the story is super ponderous to read. I get this is part of your voice shift, but I nearly died reading the first section. It took at least 6 paragraphs before I could figure out what the story might be about, but then the first section of the story wraps itself up (too easily and too quickly) and the second half seems completely unrelated (the character is there, but the plot aspects are not reliant on each other). The second section is easier to read but also I dunno what it's about and I don't think the ending answers any of the story's questions. Overall the ponderous prose obfuscates the story in part one, then the rambling nature and lack of context for the conversation in part two makes that section a chore. I think the story is about a changeling outcast finding their place in the world, but what resolution is introduced in part 1 is reversed in part 2, then left dangling. I nearly recommended this for a DM.
Creatures of the Coin
Voice: 1 ; Story: 1 ; Prose: 2 ; Whatever: 1
At the start, I can't tell if the secret illuminati agent is supposed to be the protagonist. The action is very poorly blocked; the intro is confusing, and at some point the plane takes off and I don't know when. I was lost as gently caress as to why the action was taking place, where it was taking place, and how to visualize each scene. You need to set up some sort of stakes, some sort of reason for the reader to care about the characters, and need to work a lot on how you deliver your action.
The second section is some dumb anime bullshit. The characters are annoying and huge chunks of this section (like the art scene and their conversation about exams) are pointless. Again, we need some reason to care about these people, and a seemingly pointless activity and conversation doesn’t do it. Honda is also bad name for a character, and it only makes me think of them as a car. Yes I know it's a real surname. Don’t use it.
Then, we get the fuselage crashing down and the action resumes, but again, I don’t know who I’m supposed to think is the good guy or bad guy, nor what’s at stake. Revise your prose, because lines like “It seemed to be part of an airplane's fuselage--a memory from one of her old picture books that showed how machines looked like from the inside” are bad because you don’t need to interrupt the action to describe why a protagonist knows what part of the airplane just mashed their crush. Also the fuselage is the main body of an aircraft so it’s not like some sort of obscure part.
Butler reveals himself to be a big jerk, so one presumes he’s a villain at this point. Then, the single action Keiko takes that progresses the story is picks up a coin and goes ‘whatever, man’ to it and then there’s a Pokémon battle as not-Blastoise and not-Moltres decide who’s going to be the very best, like no one ever was. However, all of this is utterly meaningless, as Butler wins the fight. So, uh, presumably, the villain of the story has won, and the ‘protagonist’ has taken one action the entire story. Then, at the loving end of the story you drop offhandedly that maybe Butler is this girl’s secret dad. Earlier, the story also offhandedly mentions Keiko has memories she’d rather not think about, which is yet another thing introduced with no purpose and never resolved. This is all part of an immense amount of garbage stuffed into this piece, which overwhelms the reader with stuff that doesn't serve the story or help us care about the characters at all. It makes it read like episode 5 of Generic lovely Anime, since there’s no real introduction or resolution to anything.
To recap, the story is confusing, has poorly blocked action, missed out on why I should care about any of it, has giant superfluous sections, reads like the middle of a series, has the protagonist do nothing and the villain win, and that, in sum, makes it bad. I hope that you read all the words I typed up and actually consider them, because I typed them up so you could learn from your mistakes and improve your writing.
Voice: 1 ; Story: 2 ; Prose: 3 ; Whatever: 2.5
The story starts with a good character, suffering from insomnia, depression, and relationship troubles that I assume are the conflict of the story. After the strong start, there are problems. The shift here is not another POV, nor is it much of a voice change, so this actually fails the prompt entirely. You have their cliché meeting, but pointing out the cliché doesn’t change that it’s cliché. What hurts the most though is that the ending is almost certainly rushed, because it seems to resolve nothing. The story is about the problems in this couple’s relationship, but we don’t really have any indication that anything has changed to resolve the problems. Like, I get that he is physically present and her hand still fits, but that’s not enough.
Unscrambling an Egg
Voice: 3 ; Story: 3 ; Prose: 3 ; Whatever: 3
The voice, noir wizard character, and setting are all established quickly, nice. There's a good sense of urgency to the story. The shift in voice is okay, bit predictable, but acceptable. The ending feels a bit incomplete. The protagonist of the 1st section fails, and is revealed to be a stooge but it's not a huge twist because he himself was calling the cops 'pigs' anyways. The second part of the story is a lot of telling (and feels weaker). The corruption problem is not really resolved, so the story feels incomplete.
Voice: 3 ; Story: 2 ; Prose: 3 ; Whatever: 2.5
Well, it's a crazy Sebmojo story. There’s two seemingly separate stories connected, there's an okay voice shift, but the problem is neither story is really 'resolved' in any sense and I don't understand the purpose of any of the zany poo poo going on or what any of it means. Why are the hatelovers starting a dinosaur uprising? Meh. It was going for crazy fun, but everything just sort of rolled off me.
|# ? Apr 21, 2018 20:37|
Submission Post for TD Week 298
Idris Elba’s Character: Dad
Quote For Inspiration: "Do you know how the cuckoo bird survives? By preying on a mother's weakness. The cuckoo bird is too clever to raise its young. Instead it sneaks its eggs in nests of simpler birds. So when they hatch the mother bird is fooled. She feeds them, nurtures them and do you know what happens to her own chicks? They starve and die from neglect. All because a mother loved a chick that wasn't her own."
Fire in the Hole
You know that thing “a disappointed parent is worse than an angry one?” Yeah, whoever said that poo poo hadn’t met my dad.
He leans back in his chair as he regards me. Only a pathetic sliver of triple-glazed plexiglass protects me from him. I’m not safe. Even though I haven’t seen him in months, I want to go back to my cell. We’ve sat like this, in silence, for the better part of his visitation. Next to me, the other inmates make the most of their time. They catch up with their family and take in their faces. It helps them carry this.
I had a fast trial. I got sentenced pretty quickly: two years. I’ll be here for two years. I won’t be able to go to a bar on my 21st birthday. I’ve been here a week. Most everyone has already stopped by: Mom came in the first day she was allowed; we cried together. My younger brothers came in the next day; I made them promise not to do the same poo poo I did. My girlfriend came in the day after; she dumped me, and I don’t blame her. As mixed as all of those visits were, I at least felt connected, in some way to everyone. But now?
I reach for the phone because something needs to happen, anything. As I do, he lifts his eyebrows, only slightly, asking me “What the gently caress do you think you’re doing?”
I withdraw my hand, he responds with a barely visible nod.
He looks down toward my orange jumpsuit; his eyes fix on my numbers. I see him mouth them, silently:
“1. 4. 8. 9. 9. 1. 2” He locks eyes with me again and shakes his head side-to-side.
Slowly, and what seems like for the first time, he blinks. I feel a rumble beneath my chair. Bits of rocks and dirt tremble on the ground. Earthquake? Maybe, the world will open up and swallow me; that’d be nice.
I look back up at dad. His nostrils flare as he breathes in. He sees the fear on my face. I know he does because he smiles for the first time since he’s walked in.
He tilts his head toward my phone. I shoot my hand toward it and press it up to my ear. Dad laughs to himself, takes his time, and follows suit.
I don’t dare speak first. We sit for either another minute or another year; I don’t know which. He blinks again. The walls around me burst into red flame. I feel their heat, but they don’t burn me. Droplets of sweat bead up on my brow. My heart beats faster than the day I got sentenced to this nightmare. I need to leave.
I stand up. He shakes his head. I sit down.
Finally, he speaks: “The gently caress were you thinking?”
I’m relieved, something I can do. The flames are cooking my mind, and I hope that I’ll at least be able to form something meaningful. I sit for a moment and try to breathe in. The air is thin and barely relieves the stinging pain in my lungs. Finally, I put together a thought, coherent enough that maybe Dad will listen.
“No no no. You see the time for you to answer that question was before you got your rear end picked up by the police. Cos see you weren’t thinking.”
I can't listen to this. I go to hang up the phone.
He slams his hand onto the glass. The window shatters into crystal shards that rocket toward my face. I feel them sting, but they don’t cut into me.
“Don’t you think about running from this, Treimar! Don’t you even loving think about running from this. I know your friends got picked up too. They don’t have to deal with me. But you know why they don’t have to deal with me?”
He leans back: “Cos they’re not mine. How the gently caress you fell into this poo poo when I spent my life showing you a better way... it blows me. Tre, I know you didn't think when you went out on the corner. It’s not like you needed anything. Wasn’t there food on the table? Didn’t your mom help you with your homework? And didn’t your uncle get you a job in one of my stores out in the county! You didn’t need nothing, Tre! I was out there, days, sometimes weeks at a time, building an empire—the right loving way—trying to show you there was another way. Work Hard. Sacrifice. Achieve.
He shakes his head, sweat trickles down from his brow, “It was all for y-”
I roll my eyes. He catches me.
“The gently caress was that?” He asks me. Genuinely, he’s asking me. I might be able to answer.
“I’ve just heard it, Dad. I’ve heard this all before.”
He shakes his head in disbelief. “And what? Am I lying? Tell me how none of this poo poo is true. Tell me how everything I sacrificed didn’t set you up for a bright future.”
I take my chance with some more words. “It’s not everything.”
The quaking beneath my feet settles from violent to a low rumble.
He leans in. “Well, Tre, what else is there, then?”
He’s still asking me. Really asking.
“Dad.” I say.
“Yeah?” He asks.
“I’m really happy you’re here.”
His face can’t seem to decide on confusion or outrage.
I continue. “I know, I know. I’m hosed, I got no reason to be happy about anything. But I’m still happy to see you.”
“So what?” He asks. “This some cat’s in the cradle bullshit? I wasn’t around, and that’s why you’re here. Cos I was busy trying to give you the world, you get yourself thrown in prison. Like this is all my fault?”
My chin falls to my chest. This is getting away from a conversation and back to him talking. Besides, I’ve got nothing left to say. I sit like this, staring down at my shoes on the calm, even ground, for a minute or so.
“Tre?” His voice trickles into my ears.
I look up at him, through the glass. No flames, no quakes. Just dad.
“We’ll get through this poo poo. OK?”
“Alright Mr. Foster,” the guard approaches dad from the back. “It’s time to go.”
He places his hand on the glass, I reach out and do the same.
|# ? Apr 22, 2018 03:06|
Flash rule: "Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!"
When this story gets made into an award-winning movie, Idris Elba plays the father.
I Met my Father During the Zombie Apocalypse
“Darren, that’s my mother!” Mum screamed as another one of them lurched into the headlights. Dad swerved like crazy, and the gore-splattered bullbars missed Gran by inches. My little brother Jack, staring backwards at the bent figure shambling under the dirty orange sky, asked Mum if Gran was a zombie. Mum got mad and shouted that zombies weren’t real. By then she’d started crying, and we drove the rest of the way to the bach in silence. Dad said we’d be safe there.
When I woke up Mum was already sitting at the kitchen table, glued to the radio. Stay indoors… Do not approach… extremely dangerous… The following areas are ordered to evacuate… the tinny voice said. Jack was spooning cereal into his mouth, his little fist holding tight to Mum’s sweater.
“Mum, where’s Dad?” I asked, mostly just to break the tension.
Her eyes were red and ringed with dark shadows. “Outside. Tell him it’s time to take his pills,” she said.
For as long as I could remember my father had been absent. I mean, he was there, but there in the background, brooding in his workshop or just sitting silent in his favourite chair. Sometimes he made Mum mad, like how he’d forget she had visitors coming and when they turned up, he’d still be sitting around in his undies. Or that time he tore up half our lawn to build a rock garden, but then never finished it, so all winter we had a big muddy hole out front. I’d get mad at him too. He was useless. My friends’ dads were all way more fun and had jobs and didn’t make their mums take care of everything. Each morning before she left for work Mum made him take his pills. I used to wonder whether those white spheres contained the missing pieces of him.
I found him round the side of the bach, hacking at the old vege garden. He’d taken his shirt off and was sweating in the early morning sun.
“Dad, Mum said it’s time to take your pills,” I said.
“Can’t. Left ‘em behind,” he replied. I stood watching him, not knowing what to say. The hoe rose and fell. Hack, hack, hack. Then he dropped to his knees and scooping his fingers through the soil, fished up a handful of yellow nuggets.
“Here,” he said, dropping the baby potatoes into my palms. “Give these to your mother.”
I opened my mouth to say something but he just picked up his hoe and started hacking away again, so I ran back inside.
That night, the power went off. We fried the potatoes on the barbecue and were sitting outside to eat when we heard the moaning. It sounded a bit like dogs growling, I thought, but like they were in horrible pain. Guttural and terrifying.
“Get inside,” Dad said.
“Darren, no!” said Mum, grabbing his arm. Dad planted a kiss on her forehead, then shoved her towards the door. He picked up the hoe, shouldering its heavy iron head.
Mum, Jack and I cowered together in the hallway and Mum put her hands over our ears but she couldn’t block out the wet thuds. After what felt like hours, the noises stopped. We sat frozen in silent darkness. I think Mum stopped breathing. Then we heard the hiss of the outdoor shower turning on and the splatter of water on the wooden porch. Dad stayed out there, under the cold water, for a long time.
The next morning, the wavering sound of a bow on strings woke me. Sharp then flat then sharp again, a thin reedy sound that gradually morphed into clear notes and then blossomed into a melody, like a flock of gulls lifting off the beach and riding the wind out to sea.
“Since when do you play the violin?” I said to Dad as I walked out onto the porch. He just grinned at me.
“Jessie go put your clothes on and come help me with something,” he said, putting the violin back in its beaten-up case.
Round the side of the bach, the vege patch had been stripped bare to neat rows of earth.
“Now, Jessie, I found these seeds in the shed, I’ve worked out how we’re going to lay them out, and we can run irrigation from the tank that feeds the outdoor shower,” he said, plonking a trowel into my hand. He was talking fast, eyes lit up like Jack’s when he thought Gran was going to give him a present.
“When did you get all this done?” I said, waving my arm at the freshly turned earth. “Have you been up all night?”
“Of course!” he said.
He threw an arm around my shoulder and pulled me close. “We’re going to survive this, baby girl. I’m going to look after you all properly now.”
“But…” You never finish anything, I was going to say, but the look on his face stopped me. I’d never seen him like this.
“When did you learn to play the violin?” I asked him instead. He launched into a story about people and places I’d never heard of before; about how he’d been in a band, and where him and Mum had met. How did I not know any of this?
“Darren! Jessie!” Mum yelled from the porch. The power was back on, and inside Mum had the news on the TV. On the screen, the Prime Minister was making some announcement, arms around her big pregnant belly and tears sliding down around her wide smile.
“Darren, it’s over!” Mum said, crying as well. “We can go home!”
Dad just looked at her, poker-faced but for a tiny downwards tug at the edges of his mouth.
The Prime Minister’s voice was loud in the sudden silence. “Today, we are canceling the apocalypse!” she said. Cheers erupted from the crowd of journalists.
“What a corny line,” I said, and Dad burst out laughing. Mum’s face darkened, lips pressed together and brows drawn into a tight knot. Oh god we’re dead, I thought, but then her mouth opened and laughter flooded out. She leant on Dad and laughed, sobbing and gripping her sides, and he clung to her, laughing and crying, and then he kissed her, and I had to look away, embarrassed.
“Let’s stay here one more night,” Mum said eventually, gasping for breath. Dad winked at me over her shoulder, and I grinned back at him, happy just to have him there.
|# ? Apr 22, 2018 09:47|
“For the first ten days they sailed on beautifully and found plenty to eat as there were lots of fish..."
A Mother and a Father
Starring Janet McTeer as Zednia
And introducing Idris Elba as The Stranger
derp fucked around with this message at 17:52 on Jan 1, 2019
|# ? Apr 22, 2018 13:59|
Memories of You, Hovering in the Sky
Idris Elba plays Cain. Quote: The heart is just a muscle
A bolt of energy shot across the dead lands, dead oceans, and split the clouds open. It ascended past the mathematical equations carved into the sky and transcoded chemistry equations onto the horizon.
The four horsemen grimaced as the light fell upon their skin. They turned towards the bolts origin and raced towards it.
With a gasp the preacher woke up and scrambled upright, his voice at the ready.
“Whoa, I’m on your side!” The young man said, holding his hands up. “I found you and brought you here.”
The gruff man looked around at what “here” was. A makeshift bed, plastic bags knotted together to form a blanket. Blood, his, decorated the rough brown floor. He barked out one command.
The young man rushed to a barrel and filled a cup. Water sloshed across his ripped batman t-shirt as he said, “I’m Michael by the way. You’re one of them, a preacher?”
The man grabbed the cup and downed it.
“Is a preacher who lost his belief still a preacher?”
“You can still fight. You can protect me! The horsemen are coming.”
A sharp looked silenced Michael, and the preacher swung his feet out from the bed.
The pair walked out of the building and alongside the mountain,scaffolding groaning with each step. From here, the preacher looked out across the desert. Far off in the distance a black mass rode across the desert, where they walked the land cracked open and died. Death was coming.
Michael patted the tall silver pole behind them. “This is why. With this, we can transmit knowledge to the sky, so that it’ll be there forever. Dr. Carter designed most of it, I just helped where I could. But he said, when future generations look up you can literally see the lessons we wrote up there.” Michael looked up at the sky. “Or.. at least you could if the bloody clouds weren’t in the way.”
“The horsemen are coming to stop this?“
“Yes, other installations have been destroyed. I’m almost ready for one last transmission.”
“What are you transmitting? Weapon schematics, farming strategies?“
Michael paused for a moment. “Memories of my friend”
The preacher chanted slowly. There was no power behind his words, no belief. He was powerless.
“You should leave.”
“That’s what Dr. Carter and the rest said! But, he died because of me, I can’t just forget him. He deserves to be remembered!”
“You want me, a lone warrior, to face down hundreds of demons and Death himself?”
“Yes! I only have dog food for payment bu-”
“If you believe so much in your cause, then fight for it yourself.”
Before Michael could say anything more, the preacher walked down and left the tower.
The ground shook as the horde marched across the desert towards the mountain. Death rode alongside them, clad in a black top-hat and white sunglasses. He was a gaunt man, but his step carried a malicious weight to it. Where he walked, men died.
The horde stopped as a young man stood between them and the transmitter. Michael was about to cry. He tried to stand tall, but the stop sign he used as a shield was too heavy. He struggled to lift his broom, knives duct taped at the end. He was pathetic, but, he stood between them and his belief.
Death chuckled, and raised his hand. A cloud of darkness billowed over the mountain and flowed down onto the transmitter. Metal groaned in agony and Michael let out an anguished cry as the hum of the transmitter ebbed into nothingness.
The makeshift spear shook in Michael’s hand, and the stop sign drooped towards the ground. But he stood, and with a voice that shook as much as his spear, he cried out his defiance.
“Your weapon isn’t going to hurt us boy!” Death yelled in response.
Death pulled out a revolver made out of bone and pointed it at the boy. The demons charged and a black swarm of hatred and malice encroached upon the tower and its lone defender.
A prayer rang across the plain and a half-dozen demons exploded. The rest stopped and saw the preacher walking across the dusty land. His chiseled face was set like the very mountains behind him and he stood between Michael and Death itself. He turned his head back, and yelled.
“My name is Cain, and I will fight for your cause. You have enough belief for the both of us. Now go, honor your friend.”
Michael ran up the scaffolding to repair the transmitter, leaving the lone warrior to face down hundreds. His very presence made the horde halt, his voice made them fall.
He chanted about a god he didn’t believe in. A half-dozen demons fell. He spun, his trenchcoat whirling around him and blocking a thrown axe, and pulled out his prayer book. A few litanies and three scores of demons fell.
The sounds of Cain’s desperate fight rose up to the high scaffolding of the transmitter, but Michael ignored them. He was desperately jury rigging power cables, flinching as arcs of electricity sparked up.
One last step; power on the emergency generator. As he rushed up the steps a cloud of darkness intercepted him. Michael looked for another way out. Cain’s yell of pain reached his ears and he leapt into the cloud.
Tendrils ran over Michael and memories flashed before his eyes. As he struggled towards the generator’s lever he remembered a similar struggle days ago; running away from a demon.
Voices whispered sweet despair around him, “No one is coming to save you.” Michael sobbed, as his hands felt the last breath of a dying friend leave their body. His eyes turned black he absorbed the darkness.
“He was worthless. Just like you,” The voices whispered.
“He might have been worthless.” Michael’s eyes flashed blue. “But he was my friend!” Michael kicked the lever to the on position.
As the boy screamed out his defiance, so too did the transmitter. Lightning coursed over darkness, burning it away, and a blue cylinder of energy split the cloudy sky, revealing the sun looming high overhead.
The shockwave from the transmission crashed out among the battlefield and Death was tossed asunder. Cain stood tall, defiant as the dust whipped around his trenchcoat. Blood oozed out of a shoulder wound, but he stared ahead, unflinching as demons around him ran form the earth's angry embrace.
The dust storm ended, and there stood Death, facing down Cain. The sun shone down on the land for the first time in days; high noon. Both men’s hands went down to their respective weapons and a gunshot and litany echoed in the desert.
Cain stood triumphant and Death stumbled onto the ground..
“Fool,” Death rasped out as Cain approached him. “You can’t kill me.”
Cain placed a boot on Death’s chest.
“Belief, the kind that you are willing to sacrifice everything for, hurts your kind. That’s the kids weapon.”
The cloudy sky was parted by the transmission, blue light burning away the darkness. Death’s sneer turned into terror.
“And I do believe I want to kill you.”
A small prayer for the departed whispered across the battlefield, and the preacher left.
The pair moved across the desert, the transmitter a fiery pyre in the horizon. Behind them Pestilence, War and Conquest avenged their fallen comrade.
“This isn’t half bad,” Cain said, in between gulps of dog food.
Michael looked up at a constellation of a boy and his dog playing fetch. Its light lit their way. “Well, he always was a picky eater.”
|# ? Apr 22, 2018 17:53|
Week 287 Bad Romance BONUS CRITS Part 1 of 2
Two judges are missing crits from this week (shame, etc.) and having multiple perspectives on stories is helpful so I’m doin’ crits. I read like pretty much no romance at all, so my insight into your stories about romance is going to be “valuable.”
Realignment by Fuschia tude
There’s a lot of clichés piled on in the beginning, and the prose is choppy. The story jumps around a lot, far more than it needs, so the scenes we need to actually develop the characters so the reader can properly connect with them are too sparse to do the job. Darren is deeply unlikable, but we also get very little of Sam, and May feels like an empty character. The friendship—which was never really well developed to begin with—shatters, but nothing comes from that. The ending feels empty and bad. It’s also not—as the prompt demanded—interesting. It’s cliché high school poo poo, which is pretty much the opposite of interesting.
Reaching Out by apophenium
Good hook. I’m a little conflicted on the intro. On one hand, it gets at what we need to know to proceed in the story, but I think here showing rather than telling this child-ghost encounter would have been more powerful. The ‘retired __’ shtick is really overdone and hard to pull off well. I also feel like Vuo is too easily tricked—doesn’t ask at all why Jinbik thinks the ghost is his bro. The backstory is stretched out a bit with an unnecessary errand (tell that part and cut the second scene heavily imo; the religious position on ghosts and inquisition also serve no part in this story and should be cut). I also don’t understand why Jinbik deceives Vuo. He obliviously knows the ghost wasn’t Vuo’s brother, and through all the journey, I don’t see their relationship growing, so the end comes out of nowhere and I don’t buy it. This didn’t read like a romance at all, so the relationship beginning at the end of this isn’t a satisfying resolution. It also happens so rapidly that it just made me go ‘what.’ The things that are actually focused on throughout the story—the ghost, who it is, and Vuo’s grief over his brother—are not resolved at all. The identity of the ghost and why it’s able to relieve Jinbik’s stress is just breezed by. This mismatch of core and end makes the story read like it isn’t sure what it is yet.
Survived by Thranguy
Interesting noir/urban fantasy setting. Doesn’t feel like much of a romance; there’s a tiny bit of the relation tacked on to the action and big stakes stuff, but overwhelmingly this is a story about Samantha participating in one of the battles in a war of humanity vs. hell. There’s almost nothing about Sam and Michael’s relationship. Normally, I don’t really mind excessive expository dumps about how the setting, magic, etc. work, but here I thought it was a bit excessive, and a lot of the setting (like the apostolic succession or the new guns vs. old guns ) just isn’t necessary here, and doesn’t much affect the actual story. The ending is a bit rushed too, and if Legion is going to be the antagonist here, we need more about it’s nature and some interaction with it in a more direct sense. I also don’t ever feel the main character is in danger, so there’s a lack of tension. But most importantly, the goal this week was to set out a romance, and that’s just missing completely.
Spirit of Place by Kaishai
Well, this is extremely solid. Your symbolism, figurative language, and plot all tie into place; Isaiah can’t leave, Annie can’t say, so the resolution that they must go separate ways is a foregone conclusion. Annie just has to come to terms with it. The climactic event, the pursuing rapist, feels a bit out of nowhere. It’s a good high tension event, but it feels like the start of that scene needs some more room to breathe and develop (though here it’s obviously constrained by the word limit). There’s a good strength in the small details of the piece, making it easy to visualize and feel, and the characters feel like they have depth. Not much else to say; nice work.
Castles in the clouds by Sebmojo
Oh yeah I read this one too. I seem to recall an IRC discussion on whether or not the vandal-artist’s moves were endearing. It’s a neat way for two people to meet each other non-traditionally, through bonding over a mutual interest and understanding of that interest. I also liked the description of her frowns; while ‘stern librarian’ is pretty cliché, I felt like that wasn’t a problem here. There’s an implication that the librarian has been totally oblivious to what we can assume is a long obsession Daniel had. “she turned back to the beginning and saw the connections she'd missed the first time” is a nice way to sum that theme up; it might be nice to have the librarian retrospectively remember more encounters with Daniel. Alternatively, you could explore the other theme—taking a chance—through another allusion and drawing.
Or Whatever The Opposite is of a Parent Trap by chairchucker
I remember reading this and thinking it was kinda cute. It flows quickly. As usual, your nonchalant voice is heavily embedded in the piece, which I think works for some of the characters, but can make everyone feel same-y so if you revisit this, keep that in mind. The story also hops around at a fast pace all over, and another thing that it might benefit is some scene-setting and time to breathe. In terms of shortening it so it avoided breaking the word count, I think you could have combined scenes. The first 3 scenes could be discussed in the phone call from scene 3, with the reverse-parent trap idea introduced (and what Matt did, and Suki’s reaction) all discovered through that conversation. Scene-combos like that would also reduce the frenetic energy of piece. Makes u think. Anyway, fun story.
Untitled / Better Late Than Never by Ninjalicious
This is, uh, well, you wrote it. Which, that’s true. You did write it. It got labeled ‘fanfic,’ which means you didn’t read the prompt very carefully. Surprisingly, even though you used the character names, I wouldn’t really call this ‘fanfic’ because it has basically nothing to do with American Gods and misses almost everything about Shadow as a character. Basically, a guy just mopes a bunch, which isn’t really a ‘story.’ There’s plenty for you to work on, but I don’t want to put more effort into critting a story than you did into writing it. If you’re genuinely confused as to why this low-effort obviously rushed post was bad, feel free to message me.
|# ? Apr 22, 2018 23:29|
Thank you for the crits up and all, lots of effort going into those for dumb forum words. We don't deserve it(I love it ty!)
|# ? Apr 22, 2018 23:57|
Finnt Visits the Potion Master
Idris Elba plays Potion Master Starkley
Inspirational quote: He has a flair for…you know, making the unrealistic seem realistic.
Finnt puzzled at the wall of buttons. They were set deep into the brassy surface, each labeled with an indecipherable, ornate calligraphy. He compared them with the symbols on his wilted scrap of parchment.
“Looks like the scrawlings of a mungoid,” said Finnt’s iddy. Finnt ignored it. The iddy grabbed Finnt’s shirt scruff and yanked itself up for a better look. Its face was a bloated caricature of Finnt’s own—jutting beak nose, flapping ears, and eyes set so closely together they nearly touched. Finnt tossed him aside.
Just finding the damned conveyor had been a trial of its own. The Dobe stretched countless leagues, subterranean channels coursing beneath a squat crown of cement and stone. Finnt had bribed an untangler to show him the way. He’d followed the toothless wretch down grease-slicked cables and across yawning chasms; they sloshed through sewers fetid with fleshrenders and denuded cisterns wafting stenches so foul Finnt had to rim his nose with mintbalm to keep from vomiting. All with the damned iddy clinging to his back, loosing profanity as they went.
Finnt studied the parchment. If he entered the code wrongly the conveyor could spit him out under water, or into a furnace, or worse.
“Get on with it,” his iddy moaned. “I don’t want to be stuck sniffing your foul wind all day.”
Grunting, Finnt pressed what he hoped were the right buttons; another brassy panel swung down to cover the entrance, and the cage began to move. The brassy walls turned translucent, and they rode suspended on impossible wire that dipped and swerved in all directions, moving through a silvery, glittery substance with the thickness of cold broth. Great, scaly snakelike things swam through the nectar it, fringed feathers guiding them along like boat oars. Another conveyor, a chrome box the size of a boulder, raced right toward them; the iddy shrieked.
Both conveyors swung: one up, one down, and the two passed each other as smoothly as a Jacob’s ladder unraveling. Finnt's stomach roiled; the iddy cursed. They rode on.
After several minutes, the conveyor stopped abruptly. Its sides became opaque once again, and they emerged into an anteroom—a plush couch, walls covered in gold and silver brocade, and a marble sculpture of a nude woman, beckoning. Behind them, the conveyor doors sucked shut.
Ahead was a tombstone-shaped crescent of dark. Starkley stepped out of the shadows.
“Now there’s a face from long-ago.” Starkley’s broad frame nearly filled the entranceway.
Finnt's iddy dragged his feet across the carpet, scowling. “Why can’t you live someplace normal, you black bastard?”
“Quiet,” Finnt said. Starkley laughed.
“My, Finnt. Someone of your cunning, cursed with an iddy?”
The iddy spat. “If you want to talk cunning, bring out your woman! I’ll show her a thing or two!”
“Nasty little homunculus, isn’t he? Well, since you’re here, you might as well come in.”
The iddy clung to Finnt's leg as he followed Starkley inside. Starkley’s abode smelled of incense and brimstone. There were shelves full of neatly indexed plants and roots, flasks, goblets and beakers of varying size and shape, a few colored birds roosting quietly in cages, and a cauldron. There were also several tapestries of nude women hanging about. Starkley’s lascivious appetites were legendary.
Finnt sank into a soft wicker chair. The iddy pressed its hooked nose against the birdcage and blew a raspberry before Finnt yanked him back. Starkley sat across from him on a velvety stool. His flowing robe looked like it could have draped a banquet table.
“Let’s see if I can cogitate this,” Starkley began. “You wouldn’t visit a potion master to get rid of an iddy. Not our forte. And I doubt you came here to reminisce.”
“Astonishing,” Finnt replied. “Are you a soothsayer now as well as a brewman?”
“I guess that leaves the obvious. You need a potion. A difficult one, I imagine.”
Starkley may have looked like one of the heroes of old--handsome, charming, big as a yank-ox—but instead of vanity, his eyes radiated a keen, sinister intelligence.
“I need to travel through Bighollow Bog,” Finnt said. “I require a draught that would allow me to weather the noxious fumes there.”
“Bighollow Bog,” Starkley mused. “No pearls or gold to be found there. Why would the famous Finnt go trawling through that damp misery?”
“Old Finnt wants to get his wick wet!” The iddy shrieked jubilantly. “He’s doing it for a clam!”
Starkley laughed. “Is it true? Are you risking your life not for silver or coin, but for love?”
Finnt sighed. “The sister of my ladyfriend has been abducted by the Newt Prince cult. I’m to bring her back.”
“You know as well as I that nobody gets kidnapped by the Newt Prince. They go of their own accord, to pleasure him in hedonistic ways.”
“The circumstances don’t matter to me,” Finnt said. “I’m to bring her back, that’s all.”
“From Bighollow Bog? You always did make the absurd sound plausible.”
“Can you do it or not?”
Starkley stroked his chin. “What’s in it for me?”
“Name your price. I’ve got plenty of coin.”
Starkley motioned around. “I live humbly. I’m not in want of coin.”
“Everybody wants something.”
Starkley stroked his chin again, and gave a smile that rankled the gooseflesh on Finnt's arms.
“If you’re willing to risk your hide for this lass, she must be a great beauty. Am I right?”
Finnt said nothing. For once, his iddy was quiet as well.
“I’ll take that as a yes. How about this? Bring your lady here, and pledge her to me. Then I’ll brew whatever you want.”
“Living in this cave must have addled your mind,” Finnt said. “You debase yourself with such a request.”
“Maybe so. But those are my terms.”
“And here I was, thinking you’ve changed,” Finnt said. “You’re still the same shabby, scabrous, serpent-oil peddler.”
But he had little choice. Starkley was the only person on this side of the world who could brew a breath-of-life draught.
“Fine,” Finnt said. “But I need the bog-brew first. You can bind me to the promise with oathwine.”
“All right. I’ve got a batch gathering dust in the cellar.”
He returned shortly with a foaming red goblet, smelling of berries. Finnt's iddy jumped on his arm for a closer look, and Finnt shook him off.
“By drinking of this cup,” Starkley recited, “Finnt of Cainsworth forswears Starkley Half-Moon his ladyfriend for carnal purpose, at a time no later than one voyage of the world around the sun.”
If Finnt broke the oath, his bones would crack and splinter; his skin would burst with pustules and his stomach would distend with horrible agony. He nodded, and drained the cup. Starkley clapped and giggled.
“Excellent,” Starkley said. “Please wait in the foyer while I work. The draught should be finished after an hour, no more than two.”
Glumly, Finnt gathered his iddy and went out, flopping down on the plush couch. Once Starkley was out of range, he and his iddy burst into giddy laughter.
“Oh!” his iddy howled. “How funny! Can’t wait to see the look on that black bastard’s face when he sees Imelia!”
Finnt grinned. Everything he said had been true. Imelia was in fact his ladyfriend, and her sister Finnt had indeed agreed to retrieve from the Newt Prince’s clutches. But Imelia was not his lover. And she hadn’t always been a lady. Before she was Imelia, she was Imelchior, shape-sculptor and champion heavy-wrestler of the Northern isles.
Finnt put his feet up, as his iddy cackled joyously. Who knew? Perhaps Finnt had a future as a matchmaker.
(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)
|# ? Apr 23, 2018 02:06|
This is SurreptitiousMuffin's entry for this week. He has firewall issues with SA so I am posting on behalf.
Idris Elba plays Tremblay, a grizzled old pirate looking for his lost love
“Do you think I’d let you grow old?”
You just keep on going
Tremblay lay against gunwale, smoking a cheroot. The wind whipped up around the ship, and snatched away his smoke. A thousand miles of open ocean lay before him but hells, he loved a challenge. He didn’t have magic, or money, or even a crew; he had a boat, and a broken heart, and the wind behind him. Welta would’ve known what to do but he was–
–elsewhere. Elsewhere with his beautiful smile and his wonderful strong arms. Elsewhere with his mushy poems and his big eyes that teared up when he heard the wrong song. Tremblay ran a hand through his greying hair: was he really getting so old? When they’d met, they were the same age. As Tremblay’d got slower, and heavier, Welta had stayed the same. It was, well-
Came the day it became obvious, they’d fought, then held each other and kissed and fought again. Came the day when Tremblay came home to find a poem on the bed:
An immortal man cannot love
a mortal without seeing time
writ in the reflection of his lover’s
eye. With all my heart, I wish
Amazing: ten thousand years alive and still a shithouse poet. The soul in the eyes? Boo. Tremblay took another long drag of his cheroot, then straightened the ship’s lines and maneuvered his way back around to the rudder. The taste of tobacco calmed him. He didn’t know how long his supply was gonna last but it was far from the most pressing concern. He’d run out of food days ago, though the ocean was seeing him through. Water was going to be a bigger problem but he’d choke on that one when he came to it.
The wind took his little boat skipping across the waves. The spray got in his eyes, but he was used to it by now. His hands were paved with salt: white lines wending their way through dark skin.
“You’re gonna die,” he said to himself. He laughed – yep, that was indeed the problem. The wind stole away his words and his laughter. Sooner or later he was gonna die and Welta wasn’t and it didn’t make either of them love any less. He’d be an old ghost with rattling bones, reading mushy love poems left on the bed at midnight. He’d be dead, and full of love.
Would be would be would be. Would that Welta had the goddam courage to stay. Would that the sea weren’t so wide. Would that love made the wind go where you wanted.
He checked his compass, then adjusted the rudder to take him north. Last known heading, hah! Dead man’s heading. The hours tore by and in time he saw a treetop canopy, then a small island. Not on the maps, but what place worth being was? He took the boat in, around a small shoal, then jumped out and hauled it up on the sand. His pants got wet, but his pants were always wet: that’s what living in a tiny boat does to a man.
A boar peeked out at him from a nearby bush. He nodded at it. “You seen my husband?” he said. The boar went snrrreeeeeeekkkkt then ran away. Well, at least he wouldn’t go hungry. The canopy burst with brightly coloured birds, and the smell of sweet sap hung heavy on the air. It was paradisical, almost, though he knew he couldn’t stay. Water, then food, then onto the next island. Birds, and boar, and–
paper? He wandered over to a tree, and found a small sheet pinned to it. He recognised the handwriting immediately.
I knew you’d follow
though it breaks my heart.
it said. Right-o. Soppy motherfucker. A creek creeped its way out of the jungle. Tremblay took a sip, then spat it out: brackish, but with the promise of freshwater upstream. He followed it, ducking under vines and periodically frightening the wildlife. After about an hour, he found another piece.
I don’t want to watch you grow old.
it said. The creek kept going. A snake peered ruefully at Tremblay from a nearby branch. It was bright green, and very long, but it didn’t look like a strangler. Good thing too: he’d seen more than a few stranglers. This wasn’t his first strange island. It had been, all things considered, a very strange life. It should’ve ended a long time ago, with a bullet or a blade or a snakebite. It hadn’t. It had kept going, and time had started its implacable course on his face and his guts and everything in between. He tried the water again: better, but still not drinkable.
Tremblay kept going. The interior of the island was darker, and strange animals followed him. He kept his gun at his side, but they didn’t want to approach. In time (how long? A day, an hour?) he came to a lake. The water was cool, and fresh. He filled his belly, then he filled his canteens. Something fluttered from a nearby tree trunk: very high up, the bastard. Fine for young strong muscles, but Tremblay’s body didn’t work quite like it used to.
He took a stout vine, then wrapped it around the trunk. He braced his feet against it, then tensed his core and forced the vine upwards. Slowly, by fits and starts, with his arms screaming every inch of the damned way, he made it to the top. The menacing whisper of the jungle stopped. A cool breeze came down through a gap in the canopy, and for just one moment he felt alive again. Five words greeted him.
I love you. I’m gone.
He didn’t cry – he felt too good to cry: vital and strong and filled with goddam life. He slid down the trunk, and took a moment to collect himself. He let out a whoop, and the jungle didn’t respond.
“I’m going to die,” he said to himself. He smiled, then headed downstream for the shore.
|# ? Apr 23, 2018 02:48|
Idris Elba is playing the part of Michael.
quote: "You don't start off at kidnapping, you work your way up to it."
Duane waited in the darkness for Michael to emerge from the beat-up bungalow. He wondered what he’d be doing that night if the crane hadn’t crushed his leg last year. Going for a run, maybe. He certainly wouldn’t be waiting in front of a stranger’s home for Michael to finish his business.
A furious round of knocks landed on the passenger door. Duane snapped out of his daydream, unlocked the door, and let Michael in.
“Let’s go,” Michael said.
Duane hit the gas and they sped off toward the city. Michael sat in silence, his hands balled into fists. When Duane first started driving for Michael, he’d been reassured that Michael didn’t seem to carry a gun, but the man wielded silence like a sidearm.
“Christ,” Michael said, as they crossed over a bridge. “Were you sleeping?”
“No,” Duane said. “Seriously, no. Just thinking.”
“You can do that all week. When I’m paying you, you need to pay attention.”
“Yeah, okay. Sorry,” Duane said. It came out more belligerent than he’d intended. It was just -- he hadn’t expected to feel the same kind of dehumanizing shame while moonlighting that he did at his day job. When his brother had passed him Michael’s business card (MICHAEL JOHNSON -- RECRUITER -- CASH PAYOUT, and a phone number), Duane had felt the thrill of doing something more interesting -- and lucrative -- than data entry. But Michael’s chiding just reminded him of his boss at the office reaming him out for missing his WPM target.
Duane turned onto a back street, avoiding the busy downtown on the way to the bus depot.
“Something new next week,” Michael said abruptly. “It’s bigger. And worth it.”
Duane kept his eyes on the road. He tried to quell any sense of apprehension in his voice. “Yeah?”
“We’ll be kidnapping the Bowen daughter.”
The next week, Duane parked outside a 7-11, trying not to let any thoughts enter his head while he waited for Michael. He wasn’t successful. I don’t want to do this, he thought. This will ruin my life all over again. At least this time he didn’t miss Michael’s approach.
“You can drive,” Michael said, once he’d climbed in the passenger seat.
“I don’t think I can do this.”
“You can drive,” Michael repeated, and Duane drove. He cursed himself for bending so easily.
“Look,” Duane said, “I don’t think I’m--”
“Three things,” Michael said. He paused. “First. You’re probably allowing yourself to operate under the illusion that your actions, so far, have caused no harm to anyone. That’s false.” From his pocket, Michael retrieved a Ziploc bag full of human teeth. He placed a single molar on the dashboard.
“Second. You might find it comforting to think of this as a humanitarian mission.”
“A humanitarian mission,” Duane said. He’d never interrupted Michael, but it was so absurd that he couldn’t let it stand.
“Yes, humanitarian,” Michael said. “The Bowen family have, in the past, funded poorly planned construction projects, much like the one that injured your leg. Their ransom will go to humanitarian causes.”
“How is that humanitarian?”
“We’re compensating a victim of poor construction projects.”
“What, me? Okay, but it’s not their project.”
“My point is,” Michael said, and for the first time he raised his voice, “you haven’t cared about this until now. My third point is that you have no choice but continuing with our plan tonight. I am simply offering you a choice in how you perceive it. Turn left here, please.”
Duane stewed in the aftermath of Michael’s pronouncement, resentment building up inside of him He felt pinned by the implicit power of his companion. But how great was Michael’s power, anyway? He didn’t even have a gun. He just had his pronouncements, a bag of teeth, and the dangling promise of riches.
They arrived at the gates of the Bowen estate. Michael got out of the car, sporting a balaclava. “Five minutes,” he said.
Duane’s leg twitched with pain. He looked around and noticed a security camera, conspicuously placed in a tree. Great. Now they probably had a clear view of the kidnappers’ license plate. Or at least his license plate.
He could just drive away, he realized. Leave Michael darting out of the premises with a captive and have nowhere to put her. But even in his frustration, Duane’s eyes came to rest on the molar on the dashboard.
He hesitated just long enough to hear the key turn to his trunk and a muffled thump. This time, Duane unlocked the door before Michael could get in.
“Drive,” Michael said, as he climbed in the passenger seat, and he gave the address.
Duane made it to the safehouse -- a condemned Krispy Kreme in a sad little mini-mall -- without any trouble. Michael left Duane with the kidnapped girl, a pair of sleeping bags, and an advance of five hundred dollars.
“I’ll have the rest in the morning,” he said, after he’d tied up the unconscious girl inside a cobwebby broom closet. “If you don’t do anything stupid, everything should be done by tomorrow night.”
And then he left. Duane rolled up his own sleeping bag on the floor outside the closet, and he’d just about made it to sleep when the panicked banging and squealing started.
He tried to shut it out. He was already implicated, after all.
“It’s okay,” he said. The noise from the closet continued. “It’s okay,” he repeated. “It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay.”
And although the girl’s mouth was taped, there was no mistaking the “gently caress you” in her response.
Duane spent the night shutting out the sounds of struggle while blearily keeping his eyes open. Finally, just after sunrise, the door of the Krispy Kreme shook. A rattled, unshaven Michael strode toward him.
“Change of plans,” Michael said. “We’ve been compromised. Clean up. I’ll call you to regroup.”
“Compromised.” Duane took a deep breath. “What does that mean?”
“If you have favors with distant friends, call them in. I need somewhere to lay low.” Michael swung open the closet door and took an appraising look at the hostage. “You need to move. There’s fingerprints everywhere.”
“What about the money?”
“Christ,” Michael said. “Read between the lines. There’s not going to be any money.”
Duane swore. He’d had a chance to drive away from this bullshit. And he’d missed it. He summoned what courage he had and said:
“You’re not going to get a ride, then,” Duane said.
Michael said nothing. He was still looking at the hostage, as if he were sizing her up as a threat. Then, without warning, he swung his fist into her jaw. She let out an awful yelp, while blood ran down the girl’s mouth.
“I will, actually,” Michael said.
“Or you’ll beat up a tied up teenage girl?”
Michael didn’t move.
The girl’s eyes told him he was deeply useless. Duane shrugged. Only five hundred dollars. Jesus.
“Do whatever you want,” Duane said. He pivoted on his good leg, and limped out the door. He waited for Michael to follow, to lunge at him, to sock the girl again, but Duane didn’t turn back. He suspected there was no time for any elaborate displays of torture, any kind of hand-to-hand convincing. Michael certainly acted like time was of the essence.
And this time, Duane didn’t intend to waste it. He could hear sirens somewhere, but whether they were for them, he couldn’t know. Nor could he know how far he’d get on a quarter tank of gas, five hundred dollars, and a bad leg.
But as he drove away, he felt a blush of pride. He had made a choice.
|# ? Apr 23, 2018 02:56|
"Don't you ever worry that you're on the Devil's side without even knowing it?"
Starring Idris Elba as The Archangel Michael
Seven days after the end of the world the Archangel Michael visited me in my cell. Now by then we had the run of the place, and most of the people who ran off came back. We had a roof and beds and walls and good well water, and so far we’d managed to hunt, trap, and gather enough food to keep the kitchens going. Some people bunked in the offices and breakrooms, but that cage had been my home long enough that I kept it, even considering my neighbor. After a while, you get accustomed to the smell.
“Are you a penitent man, Mr. Miller?”
The voice was pure, melodious, precise. Undeniable. And also very, very tired.
“I,” I said, “I'm not exactly a churchgoer.” How long had it been? Some Easter service when I was twelve, not counting a few weddings.
“That's not the question that I asked.” He raised his sword, not quite to a striking position. It burned with something colder and more dangerous than fire.
I thought a moment. “No,” I said. “Funny, isn't it? Not a single penient in the whole penitentiary.” His look gave me the impression that he’d never found a thing funny in all eternity. “Used to be a few. After things got bad enough the guards stopped coming to work, well-” I crooked a thumb to the cell next to mine, with Old Carter still dangling by his neck. Even when the backup power went off and the doors opened up, nobody wanted to let anybody move the bodies. As long as we can see them we know they're not part of the chow. “So no. I did what I did for a reason. Would do it again. You here to pass judgment?”
The first time around that meant twenty years to life. The bastard had it coming and more, putting families on the street, cutting off heating in the middle of winter. Mother survived the freeze, mostly, but was never the same person again. I found him eating well on what he’d carved from the flesh of the poor. I shot him and his wife, who was every bit as bad, and figured I'd done the right thing. The court didn't see it that way.
Michael laughed, bitter and humorless as wormwood.
“Then what?” I asked.
“To bear witness. Prophets are thin on the ground, Westrick Miller. But the news needs spreading regardless.”
Michael told the tale. He spoke the oldest language, words so beautiful that my heart would break and the pieces strangle my tongue before letting one syllable of it pass my lips. I didn't understand a word of it, for it wasn't in words. The angel spoke, and I saw, and heard and felt and smelled and tasted, as if I had been there myself.
I saw the second war in heaven, as the beast, the dragon, Lucifer the bright morning star stormed the gates of pearl with his host of fallen angels and primordial monsters.
I did not see God. My eyes, real or imagined, would have been blinded if I had. I saw a hole, God-shaped, directing as Michael led the holy host to meet the foe.
“We believed we could not but be victorious,” said Michael in a language with words. “We were lied to. We forgot. Can God make a rock so heavy even He cannot lift it? Can he make an adversary powerful enough to defeat Him? So many ways invented to pretend any answer of ‘God cannot’ need not be clear error.”
I saw Azazel, the Angel of Death, turn and strike at the back of the God-hole in the vision, saw it diminish and die. I saw Azazel hand over the weapon to Lucifer on bent knees, and saw Lucifer strike Azazel’s head cleanly off his body. Michael did not say if this was fresh betrayal or the agreed-on price, and I did not ask.
I saw the heavenly host routed and defeated. I saw the silver city burned to the ground, no stone left on a stone, the ground salted with the years of the righteous dead as they were dragged down to perdition, to the mercies of those called sinners, now set above in the role of tormentors.
I saw Lucifer surveying the defeated, walking to each cherub and throne and principality. He gave each the chance to beg mercy or offer to serve. He cut each one down, coward or brave, until he reached Michael. The devil’s eyes gleaned, and Michael was cast down, down to an Earth well into its own Armageddon.
“So what now?” I asked, as silence cleared the visions away.
“Now? Spread the word, if you choose to. Let people suffer no more in false hope.”
I spat at the floor. “Didn't figure you for one to just give up.”
“ What can I do?” Michael threw back his head, and wings of fire and shadow unfurled behind him. “One, alone, so far beneath the adversary’s contempt to not even rate death-”
“Maybe you were too close to notice, but what I saw in the Devil's eyes wasn't contempt or loathing or a gloat. It was fear. See, if God can create one unliftable stone, I figure he can make too. If He can make an adversary He can make an avenger as well.”
“But,” said Michael, “Even so I am but one, and Lucifer commands a mighty host. How can I prevail?”
“I’d say there's about a billion sinners left here with nothing to lose,” I said. “Let's get to work.”
|# ? Apr 23, 2018 03:08|
Feat. Idris Elba as Calvin. Flash: 'It was a good moustache. Good times.'
There were three in the room when it started, and one when it ended. Anton stumbled across the wooden floor, bloody fist jammed into the hole in his belly. He hit the wall hard, grunted, and slid down it. The fluorescent light above him was flickering, tick, tick, tick. The blood on the floor was black, pooling like oil under a car.
His eyes drooped shut then jerked open. The eyes of the other two men stayed open, staring, lifeless. Anton looked at the knife in his hand and dropped it on the floor. There was a briefcase full of money on the table, next to a sawn-off shotgun.
Slowly, painfully, Anton stood. He wrapped his bloody fingers around the briefcase and pulled it off the table. It was heavy. One decision at a time, he thought.
The door seemed an impossibly long way away; Camarilla even further.
One day before, they were all having tea at a Hackney greasy spoon.
Barry held up the teapot and swirled it, once, twice. “Milk?”
“Just a splash,” said Calvin. His heavy-lidded gaze fell on Anton, and he smiled. “How’s your mum?”
Anton held his hand up at the proffered teapot. “She’s great, yeah. What’s this thing you want me to do?”
Calvin slid a folded piece of paper. “There’s a gaff in Walthamstow, and I need you to do a pickup from a geezer named Tony, should be a briefcase. Bring it back here. Then we’re all square.”
Anton looked at the piece of paper and it seemed to recede a little, tunnel vision. “Why can’t you get it yourself,” he asked.
“Tony’s made some bad choices and might come to misfortune,” said Calvin. “Best if we don’t go near him, otherwise we get loose ends. It’s regrettable but we’re all responsible for the decisions we make. Isn’t that right, Anton?”
Anton hesitated, then nodded.
One week before that, Anton was playing cards.
It wasn’t going well. The cards were cold, but in the worst way, the most tempting, taunting, minxy way where they might turn hot at any time. Also the place gave him the willies. The fat bouncer in the stained tuxedo on the stool hadn’t stopped staring at him, like he was waiting for him to run.
Anton put his hands on the table, right arm going wider to get around the hard cold weight of the knife under his right armpit, and slid his chips across the table.
“I'll see,” he said. There was a moment as the cards were going over that he thought he’d made it, and the scene played out, of cashing out, and taking his winnings, and laying them on the table and basking in Camarilla’s adoring eyes, then it was past and he realised he’d lost it all. The other men around the table looked at him.
He slumped in his seat then started as a hand fell heavy on his shoulder. “Boss wants a word. Up you hop, sir. If you wouldn’t mind.”
The hand tightened as Anton sat there, so he stood up, scraping the chair back along the dirty wooden floor.
Upstairs was a table. “Mate!” It was Calvin, no longer skinny but with a thick moustache and the same deep, lazy laugh. “You are in all kinds of trouble!”
“But luckily your friendly old guardian angels is here to help you out,” said Barry from the shadows at the back of the room.
Anton smiled, hopefully, and stepped into the room.
A year before that, Anton was getting married.
He’d seen her and fell into love like jumping off a wharf on a hot day. She was called Camarilla and her teeth were white and her eyes were brown like rich loam, deep, deep brown.
It was a beautiful wedding, and the bride was radiant and groom was handsome. It cost a lot. So did everything else. Camarilla had needs, and Anton wanted to make her happy.
Anton worked two jobs, and in the nights he played cards.
He decided not to tell Camarilla about that.
Twenty years before that, there were three boys in detention.
“Calvin,” said the tall black kid holding out his hand. “What did Saunders get you for?”
Anton shook, and shrugged. “Smoking, again. Bullshit, innit, it’s legal. Saunders is a wanker.”
Calvin laughed, “Easy. Isn’t that the truth. Me and Barry was playing, want to get dealt in?” He gestured over at the desk at the back of the room
Anton sat down, nodding at the boy sat there, a chunky bloke. “Barry, innit?”
Barry slapped a hand in front of him. “Ante up.”
Anton grinned. "Don't mind if I do."
|# ? Apr 23, 2018 03:52|
well well well look at the time
|# ? Apr 23, 2018 04:01|
flesnolk you have 5 minutes to get your story to someone to post before all your hardwork gets you is a dq
|# ? Apr 23, 2018 04:02|
From, the cutting room floor!
Please take my current story and turn any references to the "friend" into Umaru-Chan references. After that is done (And alter the darkness dialogue to be talking about how it's weeabo/moe trash) you will have my Umaru-Chan memorial.
March 14, 2013 - April 20th, 2018
|# ? Apr 23, 2018 04:12|
|# ? Dec 3, 2021 08:07|
Flesnolk's Idris Elba Week submission was here. It has been deleted at Flesnolk's request. -- Anti
Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 16:37 on Apr 23, 2018
|# ? Apr 23, 2018 04:15|