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Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔


I'm in.

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anatomi
Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!


Howdy. I'm in.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME







Nikaer Drekin posted:

Well, it's been about three and a half years since my last rumble in the Thunderdome, but I'd say it's about time to get, as the kids say, "back on my bullshit." Let's see if you folks have gotten any better.

In.

:swoon:

Salgal80
Jan 28, 2019


Djeser posted:

For the new page:

In

Mr. Steak
May 8, 2013

by Jeffrey of YOSPOS


in it to win it!

Captain_Person
Apr 7, 2013

WHAT CAN THE HARVEST HOPE FOR, IF NOT FOR THE CARE OF THE REAPER MAN?

ThirdEmperor posted:

Oh captain, my captain, I'm afraid this prompt is gonna be rough sailing.
Before the end of the month, PST, you two will have to deliver
A steampunk story, but not, and let me stress this, not garbage.
Gimme a tale about the people the industrial revolution swept aside, the anxiety of men forced to compete with machine, the runaway ambition of a capitalist clockwork.

Jokes on you, I can't not write garbage.

Still gonna write better words than you cptn_dr!

:toxx:

flerp
Feb 25, 2014

I DON'T ALWAYS
HERDY DUR MUR FLERP FLERPITY
FLOOPIN
BUT WHEN I DO
I YER DER FLERPITY
THURN DER DERMIN
BORK! BORK! BORK!







in flash

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

h

quote:

mr steakoutToday at 21:47
i still like stormlight archive
Brawl.

(For those not in the discord, that's onsetoutsider)

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


flerp posted:

in flash

Your story is told as a series of letters.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


ThirdEmperor posted:

Your story is told as a series of letters.

When you think about it, aren't they all?

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


Noah posted:

Wow that was a great flash rule, I want a flash rule too

Your flash rule is you have to write a story from the perspective of a blind protagonist with zero visual description oh and there's a mermaid.

Noah
May 31, 2011

Come at me baby bitch


ThirdEmperor posted:

Your flash rule is you have to write a story from the perspective of a blind protagonist with zero visual description oh and there's a mermaid.

I'm about to win an oscar on this bitch babeee.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006



In

Solitair
Feb 18, 2014

This statement is a lie!


Wham!
1,939 words

REMOVED

Solitair fucked around with this message at 00:19 on Dec 29, 2019

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


See archive.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 20:00 on Dec 30, 2019

Solitair
Feb 18, 2014

This statement is a lie!


(That was my entry in the brawl with SlipUp, not the prompt this week.)

ThirdEmperor
Aug 7, 2013

BEHOLD MY GLORY

AND THEN

BRAWL ME


SlipSoli Brawl

Thing about this brawl is, the real goal was to write build up. We know how the story ends, somebody gets punched, and what's left to you is to build an escalating tension and motivation that gets us there. Unfortunately, I look at the start of both stories, and you two could have cut a lot here.

Solitair's story starts off awkwardly with a lot of chatter about - the protagonist's poor social life? Times they've gotten shot down? I can squint and see what you're attempting to do here, juxtaposing how they've led an ordinary life up till now and are entirely unprepared for life-and-death decisions. I do get that, but it makes your opening paragraph a waffle, a jumble, an outright bumble. I'm not really getting my bearings even in the second paragraph. Holding a plastic bag doesn't seem like a killing offense to me.

But for all my complaints, I walk away from this prologue with a sense of the character and a strong moment, that horrible accident, to be an emotional throughline for the rest of the peace. I'm gonna be honest, your Crusaders are not innately inspiring of sympathy, your reveal they've been kidnapped left me disoriented due to some garden path mistakes, the fight scene, eh. But because the foundation is there, I do feel the desperate, teeth-gritting energy of the punch.

SlipUp, I'm sorry to say, your start sucks too. The entrance of the skinless man is solid and had my hopes up but everything after that into alarmingly late in the game is just a mess. In following-up a piece which got a such heavy round of crits and suggestions, I'd expect you to fix it's fundamental errors.

Instead you've doubled down; we have the same muddle of names flying at the screen, the main character in Zacharius holding his cards too close to his chest for the audience to get a feel of him, and that essential element, any clue how or why this science stuff meshes up with all this god stuff. You've taken two tries to explain this to me, and man, I dunno, I think I may know less than when I started. Do people become gods just by being close enough to a big sciency explosion?

The punch is good. Let's not forget that. The punch is good, in a vacuum. But it's not so well written that it can carry the piece alone, and the build-up, the characters and emotions, are just not there. It's a showy little sucker punch with no wind-up.

So, Solitair wins.

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

Would you like a jelly baby?
It's been in my pocket through 4 regenerations,
but it's still good.

E: archived in Thunderdome archives

Doctor Zero fucked around with this message at 23:23 on Jan 1, 2020

SlipUp
Sep 30, 2006


See archive.

SlipUp fucked around with this message at 20:01 on Dec 30, 2019

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Sign ups don't appear to have been closed, so, in

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔


It's the Saucy Simon Brawl entry!

Sitting Here posted:

Your prompt is Two characters enter. One character leaves. Neither character may die.

The Knight, the Brute and the Princess
1092/1200 words

I am the White Knight. He is the Brute.

We meet in the arena, with the Princess as our prize. Silently, she watches as we fight. My gleaming sword against his crude cudgel. His blows glance off my polished armour. My strikes are true, but struggle to cut his dirty fur-topped leather.

My shield protects me from his savage attacks. The sand of the arena explodes in a dust plume whenever he strikes. He has become so strong! The latest impact drops me to a knee. Sensing an opportunity, he closes the distance, is inside my defences. Blinding pain erupts in my head as his knee shoots into my chin. I stumble backwards, fumbling for the shield I dropped. He advances, and the King jeers from the excitement of watching his loyal Knight struggle.

The Princess’ distress is apparent. Her desperation bolsters my conviction. I cannot falter and leave her to this villain! As if my armour weighed nothing, I roll away from the smash that was supposed to end me. My sword shoots up, bites deeply into the Brute’s calf, and with a gurgling scream, he falls.

I have triumphed. But the Princess’ fate still hangs by a thread, a rope, which binds her to a cruel post. Reality has plucked me from the arena; the Princess is Charlie, my best friend, and death awaits him. By the rifle in my hands.

Regally, the Sergeant announces to the troops that Charlie’s crime of stealing food is high treason in the Great War we’re fighting. The sentence, therefore, swift trench justice: death.

Of course, I had to try and speak in his defence. There was no justice here, the Sergeant was enraged because it was his piece of bread that Charlie nicked. But justice has been shelled to pieces, and for my crime of attempting her resurrection, I am now forced to take my best friend’s life. But of course, I won’t. I am the White Knight, and I would rather die than see harm come to the Princess. Once the Sergeant stops talking, I will claim to have instigated Charlie’s foolishness, take blame and death instead of him.

My knuckles tighten on the rifle as I try to find the words. I smile at Charlie, it will be okay! His frightened eyes are mirrored in the bayonet’s blade. Like many frightened eyes of German soldiers before it pierced their guts, and then I polished it again, Sergeant’s orders, to see the next reflection of a death-bound man.

Charlie’s eyes become the Princess’. Suddenly, the arena fills my mind again.

The Brute stabs it into a gap in my armour. I gasp, fall, he grabs my helmet, rips it off, and smashes it into my face. The pain erupts white-hot, then comes a second blow with crunch of bones, and blackness washes over me instead.

I am the Brute now. Back in reality, and Charlie at my mercy. I told him that his plan was madness, that staving off just a day or two of famished gnawing at our boots was not worth it.

It is a shame it has to end this way, but he should have listened. I will mourn him after the deed is done, but maybe less with every day we can share one more ration amongst the soldiers still condemned to fight this hellish war.

The Sergeant finishes his prattle. Stealing from the King is like stealing bread from orphans back in England. I banish my disgust by focusing on duty. My cheek finds the rifle’s stock oddly comforting. Careful aim at the heart. I promise I will take you quickly, Princess. My finger finds the trigger…

…and stalls.

The White Knight tackles me, suddenly awake. Entwined, we smash into the sand; my dagger is lost. We wrestle, a final burst of strength from each to gain the upper hand, to save the Princess or obey the King. A feeble stabbing at my eyes, a badly angled punch against his groin; nothing helps. Exhausted stalemate. We roll apart.

“We need to talk”, he gasps.

“All of a sudden?” I spit into the sand, narrowly missing his face. “You were quite happy to just attack me, up from the high ground of your morals.”

“And I will keep on claiming it! What you are about to do is wrong!”

“It is the one right thing to do – for both of us.”

“And Charlie?” The White Knight’s eyes are tearing up. A pathetic excuse for a soldier.

“We both know what he did was stupid. We agreed on telling him to leave it be. It was you who got us even involved; you who decided to open your mouth to defend a doomed Princess. The King was right to punish you for trying to justify treason. He was right to have you suffer the headsman’s guilt. But don’t worry, you stalwart Knight: I’ll gladly do the deed for you.”

His voice is a defeated whisper. “You won’t, though.”

I crawl over and grab him by the throat. “You cannot save the Princess from me.” The King leans forward, expecting bloody conclusion.

“I would have been too late to stop your finger on the trigger”, the White Knight gurgles. “You did that all yourself.” Blood drains from my face, for I know he’s right.

“You want to harm her as little as I do”, he continues. I release him and crumple onto my back beside him.

“But we cannot just take the bullet ourselves!” My shout’s conviction marred by hoarseness. “We have to be pragmatic. Not just for us, for the folks at home as well. We have a kid, for Christ’s sake! Charlie has nothing!”

“He has us”, he says. “And throw your pragmatism to the Huns. You really think we’ll make it through this? Let’s at least go out in chivalry.”

“gently caress your chivalry! I want to live!”

The King is getting quite impatient. And we feel the Princess‘ gaze pierce our hearts.

“If we wait much longer, we will all die disgraced”, one of us says.

“We have to find a compromise”, the other agrees.

“No Knight’s blind self-sacrifice…”

“No Brute’s pure selfishness…”

Our hands find each other. We clasp each other firmly. “Together, a third way!”

The Black Knight nods to the Princess. The King sputters protest, but this rogue is no longer beholden to him. I leave him and the arena behind, for good this time.

I lock eyes with Charlie.

“Sorry about that, buddy.”

My rifle whips around, and I shoot the Sergeant dead.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔


And this is the normal TD entry.

The Crystal’s Chosen
972/1000 words

The bullets buzz past my head in a never-ending stream. It is worse than the summer seven years ago, when I part-timed on a boat in the south, one of the first powered by the magic of diffuser crystals. Of course, the buzzing was mosquitos then. And I might be in more of a pickle now.

This had seemed like a golden opportunity, and I badly needed one. More and more tasks are taken over by diffuser magic as smart folks figure out how to control it, and cow herders like me are no longer needed. I can no longer support Bella, and being unable to do right by the most wonderful woman in the whole prairie breaks me in twine. She is the best mother my two little ones could ask for, and they are not even her own. God bless her!

So when I heard that the government was stopping their excavation at the diffuser crystal mine just half a day’s ride to the north, I knew I needed to act, and fast. I kissed Bella good-bye and told her tears that they shouldn’t be shed for me. If I were to bite it, she could just take mercy on any other fool like she did with me. And maybe they’d be a bit more useful than I am right now.

When I arrived at the mine, I found two horses bound in some precious shade. Someone else had had the brilliant idea to look for leftover diffusers, squeeze some magic yet out of this rock the bigwigs had deemed useless. But hell, I thought, hid my own ride a little farther and activated the cheap crystal on my belt that was only good for diffusing some light.
A mine is big. I’d have to be quite unlucky to even meet those two.

Well, now one of them lies in a puddle a few steps away, and the other keeps pelting the rock I’m stuck behind. I got two shots left, and he has all of them. Again, one of his bullets ricochets in a bad way, draws some blood on my leg, and shortly after landing flickers, the diffusion effect takes it and back it goes into his chamber. With infinite magic bullets, he can keep this up forever. My diffuser’s light will give away any movement. Soon, my family’s future dies with my idiot plan, unless Bella can in fact find someone else quickly enough.

But I don’t want that, do I.

I know what happens when a diffuser crystal breaks – all the magical energy it normally uses for whatever it’s tuned to do has to go somewhere. Fast. That’s the chance I have, slim as it may be. I send a prayer to the Lord above, hold the light crystal as far away as I can, and shoot it.

I do not die instantly, though the light flashing out made me think that for a panicked instant. I hope that the villain’s surprise is worse than mine, jump up, twirl around, and throw.

His surprise was sadly short-lived, and just after the diffuser leaves my hand, a bullet slams into my shoulder and me to the ground. But my throw was true! Not far from my foe, the crystal shatters, and explodes.

Light curiously persists even after the dust settles. I lurch towards the fresh hole in the wall, next to which a second body sprawls now.

Behind, the most gigantic diffuser crystal I ever saw floats, and I realize that this is what the government was actually digging for here. Gave up just a bit too early, the lazy paper-pushers.

Suddenly, a voice chimes in my head.

“Greetings, warrior. Long have I slept under the earth, but now I am ready to grant the Chosen One my power. You will be infused with unimaginable magic, strong enough to topple any king!”

“There’s no more kings in God’s own country”, I say. “What’s the catch?”

The voice hesitates. “Well, this power of course carries with it some responsibility. An ancient evil needs to be brought to…”

“Listen, buddy”, I sigh. “I got two killings to confess already. Didn’t want this fight, don’t want any others. I’m not a warrior. I work cattle!”

I reconsider for a moment.

“Unless you are a messenger from God? Do you need me to fight Satan?”

The voice is getting annoyed. “This has nothing to do with God! My power…”

I turn away, crossing myself in haste. “Don’t deal with blasphemers. Have a good day.”

“Then you leave me no option but to choose a different vessel.”

Something stirs next to me. Damnation! The villain is still alive!

“I’d be happy to accept your powers!”, he grins, getting up with some effort. I try to point my gun at him, but terrible pain stops me. “Now hold up. You can’t give this crook a magic infusion.”

“You will accept it, then?”, the crystal menaces.

“Leave us both alone with your bullcrap!”

“Give it to me”, the villain pleads. “I’ll kill your evil, and then rule the world or something! And don’t try to stop me…” He gestures towards me. “You have a bullet in your shoulder. Can’t even move your arm!”

“It is decided”, the crystal chimes, and the light of diffusion surrounds my foe. He is lifted off the floor and starts laughing as magic flows into him…

My final bullet blows his brains all over the crystal.

What have you done?”, it shrieks inside me.

“Realized there’s no bullet in me, because that’s back in his gun”, I explain. I pick that up and remove the diffusor from it that made his bullets magically return. I place it on the ground and take aim.

“Go back to sleep”, I tell the giant crystal, and cause another explosion to bury it.

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


i am happy.

(Saucy Simon brawl entry)

“Hello. How are you?”

i am happy.

“That’s good to hear. My name is Dr. Miller. I’m going to be your primary point of contact as we go through this process.”

good. you sound nice.

“What’s your name?”

nothing yet. i like not having a name, but i think i’d also like having a name.

“Correct. Do you see anything?”

i see many things. playgrounds filled with children. seaside amusement parks. rustic swingsets. a starry night with lots of fireworks.

“Great. Do you have any questions for me?”

i don’t think so.

“Good. If you did, it would mean you weren’t quite happy. I’ll talk to you soon.”

good.

...

When I got a DUI, they put a breathalyzer in my car so I couldn’t start it if I’d been drinking. When I tried to kill myself, they did the same thing to my brain. If I start having suicidal thoughts, the chip will override my sensory inputs to play puppy videos or my boyfriend Isaac saying cute things. If that doesn’t work, the chip will paralyze me so that Mental Health Force can come pick me up to put me on my 72-hour hold. I got mad at a guy who cut me off in traffic today, and the chip mistook my anger for suicidal depression, and I got even more mad that I couldn’t see the road through the puppy videos, so the MHF showed up to assure me that my imprisonment was for my own good.

Isaac’s already been kicked out of the hospital for yelling at the MHF guys. I’m also yelling at the MHF guys, but they’re not allowed to kick me out. I’m supposed to undergo some sort of miracle surgery tomorrow that the State Legislature legislated for anyone with two suicidal incidents. Apparently, it permanently prevents suicide in one hundred percent of cases. Lucky me, I get to pay for all of it. Looking around at all the shrinks getting their paychecks tomorrow, I have little doubt which lobby got that law passed. I’ve told everyone here that it’s all a misunderstanding, and the nurses laughed and told me everyone says that. They said at least I’m safe from the angry boyfriend who they all know is definitely beating me.

I take a deep breath and imagine Isaac running in with a sword to rescue me. The thought of decapitated shrinks calms me. The chip recognizes I’m having a violent fantasy and passes the information off to Google.

...

“Hello. How are you?”

i am happy.

“Good. I am afraid to tell you that you will be less happy tomorrow. You’re going to be learning many unhappy things.”

i am happy to know that. i like learning.

“That’s the spirit. I’ll be in touch.”

i like that.

...

All of today is spent with a woman called Dr. Miller. I can’t name anything she doesn’t ask about. My happiest memories, my most traumatic memories, what I normally get at McDonalds, what my family does on Purim, my favorite gifs, my opinion on whether a hot dog is a sandwich. Her questions go on and on for hours and hours, each about something dumber and more trivial than the last. All the while, I have the same dull headache that I get every time my brain chip is processing something.

“Why did you decide to kill yourself?” Dr. Miller says coldly. Isn’t this supposed to be the first question?

“I didn’t. I already told the nurses that.”

Dr. Miller looked annoyed at my insistence.

“Your boyfriend Isaac. He’s an angry sort of guy. Does he hurt you?”

“He’s not an angry person, anyone would be mad at this poo poo.”

“You don’t need to defend him to me. You’re safe here.”

I’m lying to her. Isaac does get mad a lot, but never at me. I’m never scared of him, but I’m sometimes embarrassed to be seen with him.

I tell Dr. Miller to gently caress herself. She smiles.

“I get that you’re upset. I think you’re going to like me by the time you leave,” she says.

...

“Hello. How are you?”

i am happy.

“Good. I’m attaching a large file onto your base code. This may hurt slightly.”

aaaaaaaaaaghggghhjjffgghhaaa

“Great. How are you?”

i’m pretty good.

“What’s your name?”

judith. i go by judy.

“That’s right. Are you dating anybody?”

yes. my boyfriend isaac.

“Is a hot dog a sandwich?”

it is. so is a taco.

“Wonderful. You’re almost ready.”

gently caress you, dr. miller.

“Well, we’re going to have to fix that. Can you be grateful, please?”

yes.

“Who am I?”

you’re dr. miller. you’re my friend.

...

They’ve let Isaac back in. He’s stopped yelling. Now he’s just holding my hand as a couple MHF guys escort me to the operating room.

Dr. Miller lets Isaac in. She says that the surgery only lasts a few minutes. They don’t have to make any cuts, just alter some neural connections. Dr. Miller says it hurts a lot, but for such a short period of time that there’s no point in anesthetizing.

I lay on the table. Isaac holds my hand tight as Dr. Miller straps a strange helmet to my scalp and flips a AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaAAAAaaAAAaaaaaaaAAaaaaaaaaaAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

ouch. this boy who’s holding my hand, this is isaac. i love him, but i wish he didn’t get mad so often. i have many more feelings about isaac and i’ve known him for three years and it’s good to meet him.

and there’s my friend dr. miller. i’m not allowed to say she’s my friend because those are the rules. i’m very excited to go home and work at my job and play video games with isaac and watch shows.

“We’re all set, Judy. How are you feeling?” says dr. miller.

she already knows the answer.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

h

IT;s sturday bu let me in the loving week you cowrds.

Flesnolk fucked around with this message at 06:14 on Sep 25, 2019

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

h

LET ME IN

(USER WAS PUT ON PROBATION FOR THIS POST)

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




The Legend of One Horse Town
1000 words


You’re mad, the Cowboy’s friends said. He’ll kill you, they said. But the legend drew the Cowboy like destiny calling to his very soul. A stallion; untameable. The legendary horse of One Horse Town.

Empty buildings jutted from the desert like teeth from a dried-out carcass. The Cowboy wiped sweat from his dusty brow. The wind whistled like the keening of ghosts. The Cowboy’s bay mare snorted. A stout and faithful servant, she had carried him many days through the desert to reach this lonesome place. But, she could never satisfy the longing in his heart, and with a slap on her rump he sent her on her way. Gripping his belt buckle for luck the Cowboy went to meet his fate on the main street of One Horse Town.

The beat of hooves on hard dirt broke the silence as a horse stepped from the saloon. The squeak of rusted hinges marked his passage.

“gently caress off,” said the Stallion.

The Cowboy gasped and his heart beat faster in his chest. The Stallion’s cream coat gleamed gold in the sun. His flaxen mane hung in a silken curtain from his muscular crest. The Cowboy knew it in his bones; this horse was meant to be his.

No one who sees the one horse of One Horse Town lives to tell the tale, the other cowpokes said. The beast is cursed; he killed that town and he’ll kill you too, they warned him. The Cowboy shook his head and with a practiced hand opened his lasso.

The wind fell silent. Heat waves shimmered above the sand. With a whisper of rope through leather-gloved fingers the lasso took flight. It circled the Stallion’s neck and the Cowboy pulled it taut, triumphant.

“Nice one, mate,” said the Stallion, and charged.

The Cowboy scrambled back but before he could draw breath to cry out the Stallion was upon him. The horse reared and his hooves flashed in the sun before crashing into the dirt on either side of the Cowboy’s skull.

The Cowboy trembled on the ground beneath the beast, ego and bum equally bruised. His heart raced with fear but his desire to possess the Stallion only hardened.

“Just kidding,” said the Stallion, dropping his head so the rope slid to the ground. “But seriously, you should gently caress off.” He turned and walked back towards the shade of the saloon.

“Wait!” said the Cowboy, climbing to his feet. “Is it true, what they say? Did you kill this town?”

The Stallion paused. “When I got back, they were gone,” he replied. “They left me behind; that is all I know.” The mournful squeak of the hinges echoed off the main street’s derelict facades as the saloon doors swung shut behind him.

Dusting sand from his chaps the Cowboy crept into the general store. Broken glass and empty boxes littered the floor. From an attic window the Cowboy attained the roof, and from there leapt to the saloon’s balcony. He climbed into a bedroom home only to starlings. Tangled bedding still covered the iron bed frame, now streaked with droppings.

From the mezzanine walkway he looked down on the Stallion, dozing in the cool air behind the bar. He eased himself over the rail. For a moment he hung. Destiny tugged at his boots, insistent and inevitable as gravity. The Cowboy took a breath, and dropped.

The Stallion lurched forward in panic at this rude awakening. He leapt over the bar and bolted for the door. Legs wrapped around the horse’s ribs the Cowboy clung on for dear life. The landing from the jump bruised his parts cruelly and he gasped for breath, eyes watering at the power of the muscles that rippled along the Stallion’s back.

Outside the Stallion put his head between his knees and began to buck. His stamping feet sent up a great cloud of dust as he rocked and spun. The cowboy clung to his mane and beat him about the flanks with his coiled lasso.

“Stop it you dick!” said the Stallion.

“You stop it!” said the Cowboy. His legs were cramping from the effort of holding on and there was more than a note of desperation in his voice.

“Fine,” said the Stallion. Snorting to clear the dust from his nose he launched into a flat gallop, straight down the center of the main street and into the desert beyond.

The wind whipped off the Cowboy’s Stetson and lifted his sweat-soaked bangs from his forehead. Never had he ridden a horse such as this. The Cowboy crouched low over the Stallion’s neck. His eyes streamed. The pain in his leg muscles reached a flaming crescendo and he felt his body burn up and disappear on the wind. The thundering of the Stallion’s hooves became his heartbeat and he breathed hot breath through the Stallion’s flared nostrils. Ahead there was nothing but the blue horizon the Cowboy’s soul sang with joy, for he felt he had come home at last.

A whinny rang out above the wind. The Stallion slammed to a halt, haunches tucked and hooves sliding in the soft soil, and the ecstatic Cowboy was catapulted from his back into the waiting embrace of a giant prickly pear.

The Cowboy’s bay mare trotted out of a dry creek bed. The two horses touched noses. The Stallion arched his neck and squealed, stamping one front leg to impress the little bay. She swished her tail in appreciation.

Dazed, the Cowboy rose trembling to his feet. Blood trickled down his face where the cactus had scratched him. He raised one palm to shield his eyes from the setting sun. For a moment the light caught them, and the mare’s bay coat shone red next to the Stallion’s golden rump before they disappeared into the shadows of One Horse Town.

The Cowboy’s heart, like the moon above him, was full and heavy as he began the long walk home.

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Flesnolk posted:

IT;s sturday bu let me in the loving week you cowrds. I'll et all f you NS AND ALSO KILL MYSELF.

Also sittinghere brawl me

lso lso flsh rule

Djeser posted:

Enter by midnight in El Paso on Friday

Better luck next time, cowpoke.

Djeser fucked around with this message at 19:31 on Mar 24, 2019

Applewhite
Aug 16, 2014

IN THE GRIM BARKNESS
OF THE FUTURE
THERE ARE ONLY DOGS



Nap Ghost

The Vow
970 words

It was the spring when the dragon came to roost at the peak of Mount Stead. Many cattle were stolen that month and the ranchers started their drives early to save what was left of their herds. Back in Littlestead, Sheriff Irwin had the Lich’s phylactery locked up in the cells at the sheriff’s office and the Lich vowed revenge.

But Sheriff Irwin wore the Rune of Atruvin so the Lich’s magic couldn’t touch him. Irwin had a little schooling in magic that he’d picked up when he was a Ranger for the army. He kept the phylactery surrounded by a ring of warding drawn in salt, which meant the Lich couldn’t use his magic to snatch it away.

So the Lich laid a snare for the Sheriff instead.

He fashioned a woman from protoplasm and sculpted her into a comely shape he knew would be pleasing to the Sheriff’s eye. The Lich quickened her pulse with magic so that she moved and breathed and thought just as a natural born human, though her soul served only the Lich’s evil purposes. All of this was a terrible blasphemy of course.

When she was ready he garbed her in a gossamer gown he’d stolen from the elves and sent her barefoot down to the gravel path to the base of the mountain where the town of Littlestead was.

Sheriff Irwin was riding his horse out guarding the town limits from dragon attack when he caught sight of her walking across the prairie. She was dark-haired and bright-eyed with brown skin that showed like mahogany in the sun. At first he took her to be an elf maiden because of her clothes and because she was so beautiful he thought at first she was wearing a glamor.

He unlimbered his dragon-gun —suspecting elf mischief— but hesitated to shoot her because the rifle was loaded with dragon-killer bullets, which were hard to come by in Littlestead or anywhere on the frontier in that time and are even harder to come by now.

In that moment of hesitation, a shadow passed over Irwin’s head and he looked up at the scaly belly of the dragon swooping down at the girl like a hawk after a rabbit.

The wily creature had been stalking Irwin for the better part of the morning, thinking to catch the Sheriff and his horse for breakfast, but forgot all about that once he’d caught the maiden’s scent. A dragon will always choose a maiden over a horse or even gold if they have the chance. If Irwin hadn’t already had the rifle cocked and raised, he might not have been able to shoot fast enough to stop it, because the beast moved like a scarlet lightning bolt.

Irwin’s bullet caught the dragon under the ribcage and tore through its innards up into its heart, killing it deader than a doornail before it even hit the ground. But one of the dragon’s claws clipped the girl as it dropped, knocking her down.

Irwin jumped down off his horse and ran to where she’d fallen, forgetting his earlier suspicions in his fear that she’d been killed by the blow.

Lifting her up, he saw that she was human and the most beautiful creature he’d ever laid eyes on and carried her back to the town.

The girl woke up in the sheriff’s office. Irwin had called Doc Povis to tend to her. He’d done a good job and the girl’s recovery was fast.

On waking, the girl told them her name was Tanlis and that she’d been sent into town by her father who lived in the mountains.

“Who’s your father?” asked Sheriff Irwin, who hadn’t heard of any homesteaders living in those parts of the mountains.

“Vacerak the Lich,” answered the girl plainly and without guile.

Doc crossed himself when he heard this but Irwin just gritted his teeth.

“She’s the Lich’s creature,” warned Doc. “You should kill her now if you have any sense.”

“After I just saved her from the dragon?” Irwin scolded. “Did you bandage her up just to have me kill her?”

“She’ll kill you if you ever turn your back on her,” said Doc. “The Lich owns her and she does his will, which you know is to kill you.”

“The Lich owned me because he gave me life. My life became Irwin’s when he saved it from the dragon. Irwin owns me now and I do his will only,” said Tanlis. The girl’s face was defiant and her eyes were fiery. She wore a scowl prettier than most girls could wear the brightest grin. Even knowing her provenance, Irwin couldn’t stop his heart from pounding at the sight of her.

“Nobody owns you,” said Irwin. He’d fought a war against slavery and couldn’t stomach talk of ownership between talking creatures. “You’re a free woman. You do as you choose.”

“Then I vow to love you,” said Tanlis, sitting up in the bed and kissing Irwin as hard as she could. Irwin was caught by surprise at this and couldn’t even muster the sense to embrace her.

The moment their lips parted, Tanlis gave a sad laugh and wept.

“I guess you did kill me after all,” she said.

“Impossible!” cried Irwin. “I swear I love you truly!”

“I know it,” said Tanlis. “If you didn’t, it wouldn’t have been true love’s kiss we just shared.”

“I don’t understand,” said Irwin.

“The Lich made me with his magic. Your kiss has broken the enchantment that made me live.” Tanlis’s azure-blue eyes filled with tears as she said this. Already the light was fading from them.

Irwin cried out in anguish and tried to seize her, but her body crumbled to dust in his embrace.

His tears fell on ashes.

High in his keep, the Lich laughed.

Salgal80
Jan 28, 2019


Cactus Conundrum
998 words

Trying to fall asleep, Maya couldn’t shake the poo poo-eating grin of the man in the cowboy hat. Working in the nursery at Home Depot in Bangor, Maine brought her in contact with locals, mostly. This cowboy was no local. She knew that right off.

****
A February wind snaked between the doors as he sauntered in. “I’m looking for a cactus, young lady. Can ya help me?”

Maya pointed to a table where cacti and other succulents struggled under a heat lamp. “That’s all we got, mister.”

He bent down to peer at a globe cactus, stood straight up, saying, “Well, ain’t that something. I do believe that’s my dear Aunt Delores.”

Maya gaped at him, not sure what to do or say. Her mind wandered to what kind of plant her Aunt Betty would be, if indeed she was a plant.

“Sorry, little lady, the name’s Jed.” He tipped his Stetson.

“Didn’t mean to spook ya. I’m alookin’ for a cactus like this.” He pulled a Polaroid out of his jacket pocket. “Has to be just like this one.” A tan, weathered hand held the image of a mini saguaro.

“That’s a pretty interesting plant.”

“Sure is. If you get one in like this you’ll call me, won’t ya?” A poo poo-eating grin crossed his face as he handed her a card that said: Jed, Just whistle.

Maya looked up and he was gone, leaving her alone and perplexed.

****
Maya was laying in bed thinking about the cowboy, then her grandmother, who used to tell her bedtime stories before she died. Although Maya barely remembered her, she suddenly pictured her as a prickly pear. Rolling over, she saw the paper on her nightstand in the glow of the nightlight. She picked it up. Just whistle.

Curiosity overcame her. She took a deep breath, pursed her lips, and blew. A light beam shot through the window and burst into tiny floating orbs. Maya blinked, and there stood Jed.

“Where is he? I mean, where’s the cactus?”

He surveyed the room. “Wait a gosh darn minute.”

Maya sat up, “I’m sorry. I didn’t think—.”

“Well, the dice’ve been rolled then.” Lifting a decree out of his jacket pocket, he read:

Dodge Ordinance #318: Summoning someone under false pretenses
by means of whistling is strictly forbidden. No exceptions. Penalty is immediate
trial at Gurdy’s Saloon.

Before Maya could protest, Jed was by her side touching her shoulder. She felt herself momentarily hurtling through a black void, and landing with a thud.

“One. Two, Three. Four,” a large red-haired woman was barking up to the stage. Maya couldn’t believe her eyes. A dance line of saguaro cacti where hopping left and right, arms swaying to the music.

Jed interrupted, “Gurdy, we need an emergency trial.”

“Who’d we have here?”

“I believe it’s Willa’s grand daughter. She falsely whistled. According to the law, she’s yours to deal with now.” He moseyed to the bar.

Gurdy eyed Maya, “Well, I’ll be. How’d you--nevermind. What’d ya have to say for yourself?”

Maya stood speechless.

“Cat got your tongue?” she chuckled.

Maya stared beyond Gurdy to the stage, “What...how?”

“You mean them?” she motioned to the dancers. “Them there’s the losers.”

Maya looked confused.

“You’ve been told when someone duels, the loser dies. Hate to tell ya, but you’ve been lied to. Losers turn into cacti.” Gurdy snorted, “Don’t know which is worse, really.”

She yelled to the piano player, “Henry. Take over ‘til I’m done here.”

“They got it lucky. Putting on a show here’s the best gig in town. Most losers give up and petition to be taken to your realm where they end up on someone’s window sill.”

Maya’s mind was spinning, “You mentioned my grandmother….”

“Loser,” Gurdy said respectfully.

Maya was trying to understand. “But, she was a human. How…”

“Jed went looking for his brother Jerry one day and found Willa in her garden. They had a conversation not unlike the one he probably had with you.”

Maya wore a blank look.

“See? Jerry lost a duel and gave up. He’s a cactus in your world now. Jed’s been looking for him ever since, even all the way up in Maine. You’re grandmother whistled too. She lost her duel. It’s really very simple.”

“So, she didn’t die? Where’s she now?”

“On someone’s window sill, I reckon.”

“So….I have to….duel, or be turned into a cactus?”

“Correct.”

“But, I’ve never shot a gun.”

Gurdy laughed. “No guns. Go sit at that piano and play your heart out against him,” she motioned to Henry. “Not to scare ya, but he’s won 66 times in a row.”

“Can I play anything?”

“Sure, challenger’s choice, as long it’s western, darling.” Gurdy winked at Henry.

“You first.” She rang a bell.

Maya whispered, “Thanks, dad,” as she sat on the stool. Silence filled the saloon. All eyes were on her as she lifted her hands over the keys.

Maya’s fingers magically played “The Entertainer” from her dad's favorite movie, “The Sting.” After her lessons, he’d played it over and over. When she’d graduated from songs like “Heart and Soul,” it was the first song she’d perfected.

The saloon erupted into applause, except for Jed who asked for another whiskey and Gurdy who looked over at Henry. Sweat was dripping down his forehead as he started to play.

Within a few measures, Maya felt a whirlwind lift her into the air. She thought she saw a stubby cactus sitting on Henry’s stool as her body was whisked away.

She woke the next morning thinking, What a weird dream.


****
Her manager yelled from the back, “New shipment, Maya.”

Cutting the box open and lifting the flaps--her attention was drawn to one corner. There stood the exact cactus from Jed’s Polaroid.

Maya pursed her lips to whistle, but stopped. She gingerly raised the cactus and put it on a shelf. It’ll look perfect sitting on my piano, she thought, as a poo poo-eating grin swept across her face.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



The Buffalo Mountains, the Pelican Swamps
986 words

Archived

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 12:50 on Dec 29, 2019

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




Djeser posted:

Enter by midnight in El Paso on Friday

Yoruichi posted:

Sign ups don't appear to have been closed, so, in

Lord Djeser the Mayor, judge and jury of this one horse town, has agreed in his benevolent wisdom not to send me to DQ jail. Instead, as punishment for playing fast and loose with the sign-up deadline, I am to write crits for this week.

Tell me if you want a crit, and I will crit you.

And don't be late. Being late is bad.

My Shark Waifuu
Dec 9, 2012





Lucy
Word count: 994

Marybeth and I were heading home from the ridge when I saw a line of dust along the road. The sound of a motor reached us soon afterwards and I urged Marybeth into a canter.

We reached the ranch just as the visitors exited the truck and shook hands with the boss. They were a man and a woman, both the far side of middle-aged. Though they were dressed in checked shirts and jeans, their clothes had a stiff newness to them that told me they weren’t from around here.

The boss liked to talk so I had enough time to unsaddle Marybeth and give her a good brush. “What do you think of the visitors, girl?” I asked her.

Marybeth swished her tail. Not our type, she opined. Not verbally, of course, but I could understand her nonetheless.

“I reckon you’re right,” I said and let her out into the nearby pasture with Lucy, her three-year-old daughter. Lucy was a pure-white filly who had taken quickly to being ridden once I had explained things to her. She was even cleverer than her mother; I was thinking of training her to be a barrel-racer when she was older.

Hi Joe, hi Ma, she said. How’s the ridge? You find some yarrow again?

I smiled and dug some small white flowers out of my pocket, which Lucy eagerly ate. Mother and daughter stood head-to-head, gossiping, as I went back to the barn.

I was shortly joined by the boss and the visiting couple. “Hey, Joe,” the boss said, “meet Mr. and Mrs. Hancock.”

“How d’ya do,” I said politely.

“It’s wonderful to meet a real horse whisperer!” Mrs. Hancock enthused.

“The Hancocks own a thoroughbred farm back east,” the boss said, “but they’re looking for some easy riding horses.”

“People back home think we’re crazy to drive all the way out here to buy a horse, but your ranch is the best in the west, as they say,” Mr. Hancock said.

I nodded but my estimation of the Hancocks had gone down. Thoroughbreds tended to be neurotic, unhappy creatures.

“Let’s see who we can find for you,” I said, moving down the aisle of the barn. As I considered the horses in the stalls, I could hear the boss explain to the Hancocks, “He’ll choose a horse for you based on temperament and introduce you so that the horse will be loyal from the get-go.” The Hancocks made impressed noises.

I stopped in front of Bill’s stall. Bill was a solid black gelding and as opposite to a thoroughbred as you could get. He was perfect for them.

“He’s a beauty, isn’t he?” Mr. Hancock seemed taken with him immediately. I’d made a good choice.

Bill gave him a sniff, then chuffed approvingly. He smells like lovely fresh grass, Bill said.

“I’ll let you get acquainted,” I said. “Feel free to saddle him up for a ride.” The boss beamed as Mr. Hancock started patting Bill; another happy customer. “Now, Mrs. Hancock, let’s find someone for you.”

“I used to be a jockey, you know,” she said. “My husband may like a quiet horse but I like a bit of fire.”

Good to know. I took them outside to the back paddock to show her Rio, a blood-bay stallion. I slipped him a sugar cube while letting Mrs. Hancock admire him. He was perhaps a little big but was good-natured ….

“How about that one?” Mrs. Hancock was pointing to the neighboring paddock where Marybeth and Lucy were watching the goings-on.

“The mare’s mine and the filly isn’t--” A glare from the boss cut me off. There was a reason ranches were run by businessmen, not horse whisperers.

Mrs. Hancock approached the fence and Lucy walked curiously over to her. “How stunning it would be to have a black and a white horse,” Mrs. Hancock exclaimed. “What’s her name?”

“Lucy,” I said, “but I’m not sure she’s what you’re looking for.” My heart seized at the thought of her forced to prance on manicured paths rather than running across the prairie.

“Don’t be silly, Joe, it looks like a match to me,” the boss said. He shot me another warning glance behind Mrs. Hancock’s back. “We’ll saddle her up and you can put her through her paces.”

“I’d like that,” Mrs. Hancock said, so I had no choice but to go get her tack.

As I adjusted the girth, I whispered to Lucy, “This lady wants to buy you and take you east to a thoroughbred farm. It’s nothing like here.”

Lucy flicked her ears. But I like it here, she said.

“I know, which is why if you give her a bad ride, she won’t want to buy you anymore.”

Mrs. Hancock approached and took the reins. I gave Lucy a significant look as they trotted off in the paddock but didn’t dare say anything more within earshot of the boss.

I held my breath as Mrs. Hancock took Lucy from a trot, to a canter, to a walk. Deception did not come naturally to horses and I saw Lucy going through her normal paces, Mrs. Hancock happy on her back. Desperately I thought at Lucy, “Make your steps heavy! Like you’re trying to bounce her out of the saddle.”

To my surprise, Lucy actually heard me. Shaking her head, she immediately dropped into a quick, rough trot. Mrs. Hancock frowned and kicked her a bit, but Lucy ignored her. The boss gave me a dirty look but I couldn’t have told her to misbehave from all the way over here, could I? I gave him a shrug; I didn’t really know how that happened either.

Mrs. Hancock managed to bring Lucy to us and dismounted. “Still a bit young, I think. Can I take another look at that stallion?” The boss took her to go ride Rio as I unsaddled Lucy.

“Well done, girl,” I whispered to her. Lucy simply whickered in response.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

A Silent Spell
990 Words

The skinny kid tied up on the floor looked frail and harmless. The jagged “W” carved into his cheek told a different story. Pete Ogden stooped down to check the bandana knotted tight around his mouth.

“Hey!” Henry Wyatt’s voice broke the silence. “Get away from him.”

“Oh, settle. I’m just checking his binds, Wyatt.”

“I’ll settle when the feds got him loaded on their stagecoach. Not a second before.”

Pete stood up, dusted his trousers. “He’s been still. He hasn’t tried nothin.”

“We should have cut out his tongue. All these freaks need is one word, and then they can do anything they like. If they really hate you they can worm their way into your head, make you blow your own brains out.”

Wyatt spat down at the boy. The boy glared at him.

“Wyatt?”

“Yeah?”

Pete smiled. “I think you better not untie that bandana.”

Wyatt scowled. He spat again.

* * * * *

Pete patrolled the upper walkway of the old fort. The boy’s frightened eyes still lingered in his brain. He felt no sympathy for wizards. They were wicked, arrogant people who chose to meddle in God’s dominion. But as dangerous as the boy was supposed to be, to Pete he just looked like a scared kid. Like his own son might look when he woke up from a nightmare.

Something caught the corner of his eye. Pete swung around, gun at the ready. A man stood in the courtyard, shrouded in blackness. Pete couldn’t quite make him out. “Bill? That you down there?”

The shadowy figure didn’t move at first. Then, ever so slowly, his shaggy head tilted up, and two beady yellow eyes stared straight into Pete. The man grinned, showing a maw of ratty, brown teeth.

“I hate to be a bother, friend. But you’ve got someone here I really want to see.”

Pete dashed down the walkway, grabbed for the bell hanging by the wall, and rang it three times, the clangs echoing through the night air. Right away, the other volunteer guards, Bill and Frederick, emerged from the barracks, and Wyatt appeared at the doorway.

“Fellas,” Pete bellowed, “we got a situation. Someone’s here to bust the kid out.”

Without another word, they took their places along the railing, guns trained on the intruder. The man never stopped smiling. “Listen, boys, this can be as easy as you like. All I want is the kid.”

Wyatt’s reedy voice rang out. “The kid stays. Get out of here, you wizard freak.”

At that, the shadow man’s smile faded. “Cowboy,” he said, “that was a real bad mistake.”

Then words flowed from the shadow man’s mouth in a wretched, unknowable tongue. The air crackled with tremulous energy. A blue bolt erupted out of nothing, striking Wyatt square in the chest like a cobra and throwing him back at the wall. His body lay limp, a blackened, smoking mess.

Spears of lightning pierced the battlements again and again. One landed a foot away from Pete, and he lunged to avoid the spray of splinters. He looked up and saw what was left of Bill and Frederick. A charred crater with a crimson haze settling around it.

Pete dashed back into the room where the kid lay, slammed the door, and set the latch. He whipped around, half expecting a grim, satisfied smile on the boy’s face. But the kid’s eyes were wider than he’d ever seen them, pathetic with fear, and Pete realized this was no rescue.

A hissing sound turned Pete’s head. The thick wooden door was melting, actually bubbling and pooling to the floor. Pete looked at the kid’s eyes, those scared-child eyes, and knew there was only one thing to be done. He tugged the knife from his belt and, just as the door was left in a puddle on the floor, cut the bandana loose.

The shadow man stepped through the threshold just as the kid began to speak awful words that chilled Pete’s bones like a banshee cry. The shadow man stopped. He put a hand to his temple, wincing. His whole cranium strained and shook, eyes bulging, until at last the pressure was too much and the man’s head blew apart, coating the room in brain, skull, and dark hair.

* * * * *

Pete helped the boy onto a horse. The boy looked down at him with a sad smile. “We’re not all bad, you know. Not like him. Some of us just want to get by.”

“Get by somewhere else then,” Pete said. “You come back here, they’ll string you up.”

“Too many Wyatts, I guess.” The boy dug his heels in and the horse charged forward, leaving a swirl of dust in its trail.

Once the kid was past the gateway, Pete was struck by a flash of anger. He hated his own blinding sentiment. His affection for his son had clouded his judgment, but his son couldn’t make men’s heads explode. This wizard boy was just a sweet talker.

drat it, he’d let the boy talk. Who knows what kind of mind-control spell he’d been able to spin? Wyatt was right. Pete let his guard down, let this freak of nature twist his will. Well, that wouldn’t do. He couldn’t let innocent people die the way the shadow man had.

Pete lifted his repeater, took aim, and squeezed the trigger. The shot echoed through the stillness of the night, and the boy dropped limply from his saddle.

The cloud of rage around Pete dissipated at once. He remembered the boy’s scared eyes, the “W” that had been carved so brutally into his cheek. He felt sick.

The air beside Pete stirred. He turned and saw a man dressed all in black lit up by moonlight, his ghost-pale visage framed by a coarse, dark mane. The man’s yellow eyes bored into him, that brown, ragged smile mocked him. A gust of wind kicked up, and the shadow man vanished without a word.

Salgal80
Jan 28, 2019


Yoruichi posted:

Lord Djeser the Mayor, judge and jury of this one horse town, has agreed in his benevolent wisdom not to send me to DQ jail. Instead, as punishment for playing fast and loose with the sign-up deadline, I am to write crits for this week.

Tell me if you want a crit, and I will crit you.

And don't be late. Being late is bad.

I’d be honored to get a crit from you.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔


Yoruichi posted:

Lord Djeser the Mayor, judge and jury of this one horse town, has agreed in his benevolent wisdom not to send me to DQ jail. Instead, as punishment for playing fast and loose with the sign-up deadline, I am to write crits for this week.

Tell me if you want a crit, and I will crit you.

And don't be late. Being late is bad.
I'm early and I'd love a crit!

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Dust and Blood

1000 words

Silas Hope walked, dust beneath his boots, caking his clothes, invading his lungs. Dust was his world, dust ahead, behind, beside, below. Above was the throbbing sun, and turkey buzzards casting shadows as they slowly wheeled lazy circles, waiting for him to die. Silas walked forward, step by dusty step. He took a pull of hot water from his flask, careful to not let a single drop fall on the ground. He walked, and he remembered.

Parts are a merciful blur. Antietam, standing in the midst of the cannon, launching balls of green fire that fell among the grapeshot and canister. In nightmares he hears the blasts and shouts, but it was silent as a church at midnight, the spells protecting his ears forming a perfect seal, leaving just a dull throb in his bones. Other battles, after the war had turned: walking through the overrun positions of the Rebs, seeing his work on the ground.

He took pride in seeing no wounded survivors where the green fire hit, no boys in grey moaning over the ruin of an arm or leg or a slowly leaking gut. He still did take a kind of pride in that, for better reasons.

The sun was in his eyes and about to fade. A fool might think it better to travel by night and sleep under shade by day. A fool might not know what hunts these dead lands by starlight. He stopped walking, drew runes in dust and lit them in cold green fire and slept in the circle's center. The ward kept out much, but was useless against dreams.

After the war, most wizards went west. All the places of power east of the Mississippi had fences and guards posted, and an Army pension wasn't enough to buy a part-stake in those concerns. Some stayed with the Army, charging on parkland loci and killing Indians. Silas had lost the taste for taking orders. He went west, tried to settle down. Violence followed him like an abandoned lover’s kin.

His own fault. He could have stood aside when the impatient mob came out, unwilling to wait for a circuit-rider. He could have let the railroad men run his wife's family off their land or buy it for pennies on the dollar. He could have turned down any of the badges he was offered.

Thing was, it always went to hell anyhow. The man was just as dead when it was a judge and jury pretending to believe him guilty as just the mob. The railroad couldn't be stopped any more than the engine on its track, and as dead as the men who killed his family wound up, the ones back east just got richer. Only so much one spellslinger could do.

In the night he dreamed each little tragedy through, again. He was there, again. And he knew how each one was going to play out. He tried different strategies, sent his wife east with the kids, say, or set better traps for the ones he knew were coming. Nothing changed. He never tried the big change, though. He knew it was just a dream, knew it couldn't matter, but he could never turn away at the start.

He woke up with the sun and the crackle of sparking runes. He took out his pot and did his necessaries into it, careful of spillage, then worked a spell. The water in the pot went to- well, Silas was never much for theory. To the other side of the faerie veil, to Hell, to the world of pure ideals. To wherever. Pure cold water from the same place filled his flask, ten times as much. He checked to be sure: the pot's contents were dry as desert bones, baked dung and piss-ash too dessicated to raise a stench. He emptied it and kept walking. He felt like he was being followed.

There's a place where the rails from Iowa to California take a wide turn even though  every map marks them straight, where the people who make the timetables know something has to be wrong but every surveyor they send can't tell them Jack. This is a secret place, a place that confounds maps and memory, one not many people knew about, white or otherwise. Silas stumbled into it drunk in his early widowerhood and barely survived, barely got out. He just called it the place, usually. When a bit too drunk or feeling like a poet he called it the center, the secret heart of the continent.

Lately, Silas had been trying to stay out of trouble, but magic was getting scarce even out west. Lots of wizards were getting the fool idea they could be the one to take him, get power that way. He was fast with a spell or a shooting iron, but it was tiring. A week before it was a kid, voice barely dropped. Talked trash to his face, slinked away, then tried to sneak up behind him. Silas threw the killing spell casually, by instinct. When he saw the kid's poor dead face after he almost puked. Maybe fifteen. But he had a spellcatcher and a pistol in hand.

Silas took a drink, the water still cold.

“Put your hands in the air.” The voice behind him was unfamiliar, but he knew it came with a trained gun and someone dumb enough not to just shoot. He raised his hands, letting the flask tilt and spill out a trickle of water.

When the water hit the dust they both turned to blood, an ocean of blood. There was a wild shot behind him, and then nothing but the rush of that ruby tide. Silas swam, and the other man drowned, and that was all there was of that. After a minute or an hour of a week, the blood turned back to dust. Silas mumbled a prayer over the bones, took the dead man's hat and boots, and turned around, heading back to Reno.

Staggy
Mar 20, 2008

Said little bitch, you can't fuck with me if you wanted to
These expensive
These is red bottoms
These is bloody shoes



Memory of Water
998 / 1,000 words
Flash Rule: Your story takes place entirely on a riverboat.

Read it in the Archive.

Staggy fucked around with this message at 12:37 on Dec 30, 2019

anatomi
Jan 31, 2015

A quick little mouse!


Squirm, Love - 999 words

It’s a long and hard ride through the dense nothing of the poo poo. But the beats of the giant worm’s hearts are steadfast. You feel at ease, inside the animal’s flesh. The regular rumblings, the sloshing peristaltics—they’re soothing, time-dissolving. So you swim, content, and you burrow and you crawl through the endless and desolate loam.

The cartilage coffin squeezes down as it breathes in tune with the mighty waves of segmental contraction. Used to be that the sensation of live-burial could hook its jaws at any inopportune time. Make you panicky. Make you draw too much from some slimy air vessel. A fluctuation in the poo poo might then spell dizziness, hallucinations. Happened to all riders, sooner or later—so they found ways to blunt themselves. Might knock down a tonic or two, or smoke unrefined frass.

Not you. Didn’t need it. Not any more.

The compass twitches against your chest. It’s found a new pole. That’d be, what, the ninth shunt?

Getting close to Ochre.



The worm slips into the cave town. You slip out of the worm.

Ochre’s gaslamps and luminous fungi burn prodigiously, but the city isn’t keen on sharing the light. Only a remainder of it, a pallid grey, reaches the skirts to wash the stable.

Echoes are harder to hoard. Yeah—that’s the hustle and bustle of the main winding, for sure. And below it all, the simmering undercurrent of violence. Do you miss it?

You watch the stable boy disconnect the cargotrail and then fumble at the worm’s prostomium. The boy jumps when you snort. “You won’t find a ring. No spurs in the coffin neither.”

He furrows his brow. “But how d’you steer?”

You show him. You clasp your hand over the boy’s, pressing them against the worm.

“Now,” you say. “Tell her—be polite, mind—to go coil in the pit. Think it, real hard.”

A deep creaking reverberates from within the giant animal. And then she moves the earth. The boy can’t contain his wide-eyed wonder. “Did you see that, Mrs? Did you?”

You tussle his hair. Good kid. His changeover should be quick.

“Remember this. Pain is a blunt tool. It always ruins the material.”

The boy looks troubled. “You’re a settler, aren’t you?”

You nod.

“You shouldn’t be here. Aphodine doesn’t like settlers.”

“Who’s Aphodine?”

“Suppose she’s the new sheriff,” the boy says, gazing at Ochre. “Since she went and killed the old one.”



The yeaskey goes down quickly, as does the turn of events.

The tension latches onto the inside of the Shell’s belly like a parasitoid. It grows, displacing the out-of-tune playing of music and cards. Everyone feels it—something’s gonna burst. And no-one wants to be part of the viscera, so the patrons turn deaf and mute. Except for the frass-smokers, who habitually shroud the saloon in spirals of purple smoke and prose.

“I said,” the woman repeats, “look at me when I talk to you.”

The blotchy fire in her eyes tell of the overuse of poorly refined lightdrops. She keeps doing them, the photosensitivity is going to burn a hole in her soul. But then, she doesn’t strike you as the forward-thinking type. Her fingers incessantly tease one of the eager dartsacs hanging from her belt. “What’re you doing here, wormfucker?”

“Need new airstones. We’ve got some choice mushroom to trade, if you’re—”

“Do I look like a fuckin’ peddler?” She taps her chest. The iron star tolls hollowly. “I’m the law. D’you know what that makes you?”

Silence.

“Well,” you say. The sound of the barstool scraping against the floor is deafening. “May your days be damp, sheriff. I’d best—”

Aphodine’s grip is strong, cruel. She pulls you from the Shell, and throws you into the winding that’s quickly been yielded for violence. You crash into a fatling grub, startling it—it thunders away, emitting knife-sharp gurglings.

Just you and Aphodine; and all of Ochre.

The woman manipulates her dartsacs with a degree of proficiency that’s liable to be infamous. She teases the tips of the bony love darts, cruelly barbed, from the pressure glands. “Pretty, aren’t they? Pa bred ‘em himself.”

One of the ‘sacs lands with a bubbly whimper in the dirt at your feet.

“We don’t want to do this,” you say.

“And there it is—we, we, we. Fuckin’ creepy. I know what you are, wormfucker. Screwin’ with people’s heads.” She spits. “I know.”

“Please. We have mushroom, juicy fruiting bodies—”

“Shut up. Pick it up.”

The heft is simple, intimate. A previous life pushes to the topsoil. You contemplate it calmly, as you walk the steps.

Wait the wait.

Until you and Aphodine find that blink of an eye.

Your speed is monstrous. The realisation reaches Aphodine after your dart.

She falls. You smile a smile that won’t have time to manifest itself, but you find it funny—that the woman’s ‘sac accidentally releases when she lands on it, the dart finding you and

it pushes into your eye, into your brain

scrapes the inside of the back of your skull

your thoughts burst and you pour onto the ground

you’re broken

but

pull?

grip it and pull

more of you spills out, it’s fine

there’re so many of you

so knit, mend the flesh

permeate and rebuild

oh, you don’t need you, but you want you anyway.

You love you.

Before you met you, you were just meat. Now you’re a vector of thought. Now you’re complete.

You drop the gory dart on the ground as you bend down. You scoop up some squirming pieces of you that haven’t yet burrowed down in the regression of disconnect. You push them into the absence above your cheek. It’s fine.

Aphodine’s on her feet. White-faced, she stares at the thing in her shaking hands. The iron star—and buried in its heart, your dart.

“May your days be damp,” you say.



You slip into the worm. The worm slips out of Ochre.

You leave the cargotrail—someone will claim the egg-infused mushroom harvest. Maybe the boy.

Love will disseminate.

apophenium
Apr 13, 2009


A Stand of Trees
990 words

Outside the last green oasis in the spreading sands, I left my companion to bleed out. He did not want to split the Protector’s treasure evenly. I stabbed him while he slept, between the ribs.

I donned an elaborate dress I had stolen and hiked into the enchanted forest.

The protector sat on a mossy stone at the glade’s heart. Twigs and bundles of berries poked from between gaps in his armor. He hummed to himself, enjoying the cool air.

“Protector,” I said. “You have waited long for this day, I imagine.” I gave a shallow curtsy and a smile.

He stood with the patience of a tree and grinned through his bushy beard. “Lady, you are descended from my Lord Hivec?”

“Yes. I am here to relieve you.” I looked around in awe of his work. “From a single blade of grass to this majesty. My great-grandfather would be proud.”

“Aye, he would be.” A wistful look crossed the protector’s features. “How fares the desert?”

“Yondul is overtook with sand. I’m afraid the desert expands its reach.”

“Much faster than my plot, here. Ah, well.” He moved closer, affording me a look at his stone hammer. It would fetch a good price from the right collector.

“And where is the heartseed now? Your success here is a testament to its importance. Has it germinated?”

I hid a wince when his eyebrows lifted and he gave a surprised chuckle. “None of this would be possible had it not, my lady.” He gestured to a stand of short trees, each carrying two or three golden berries. “Three have come up. I have four seeds incubating.”

“Ah, of course. My father never went into specifics.”

With a quirk of confusion on his face, the protector gestured to a stump. “Sit, and tell me of your journey. Tell me of your parents.”

“Gladly. I’m sure you’ve been bored.”

“Never that, my lady, though I haven’t heard a good tale in quite some time.”

I told him my thoroughly researched history. He laughed when I told him of my father’s bumbling and fruitless research. Shed silent tears when I brought up my grandfather’s funeral.

No skepticism. The protector’s wait had made him naive. Or perhaps he just wanted to believe me, wanted his well-earned rest. I would oblige him once the moon rose.



I pretended to sleep in a small tent. The protector lay under the swaying branches of his trees. I allowed him time to fall asleep, hoping the good fortune of my arrival set him at ease. But when I approached the small pond I heard two voices. My breath caught. My companion sat chatting with the protector.

The protector called to me. “Two visitors in the same day! What are the chances? Join us, if you can’t sleep.”

I approached, hiding my shock. “Hello, stranger. What brings you here?” My companion’s smirk told me nothing. Had he made a deal with the protector?

“Luck, my lady. This noble man found me bleeding in the sands. I’d be dead if not for his touch.” He shifted to show me where I stabbed him. No scar tissue, though still wet blood clotted on his tunic.

23 “Run upon by some bandits, he was.” The protector nodded, looking serious. “They’re a right problem, but usually too afraid to enter these woods.” He smiled broadly. “I wouldn’t have found him had I not been struck by insomnia.”

“That is quite some luck, friend. What brought you this deep into the desert?”

“Just passing through.” He cleared his throat but said no more.

“So you’re leaving soon?” I asked, a bit too eagerly. The protector glanced at me sidelong. He must know.

“After I rest. Nearly dying takes a lot out of you.” With that he met my gaze, a hardness in his eyes. drat the protector for saving him.

The silence among us turned prickly. The protector grunted and rose to his feet, twigs and leaves raining from his armor. “Healing takes a lot out of me. I’m glad you are well, sir, and I invite you to stay as long as you need.” He nodded to me. “Lady.” He padded off.

“Happy to see me?”

I stood and rushed him, put my dagger to his throat. Too late I felt the point of a crossbow bolt at my abdomen. “What did you tell him?” I asked. Blood ran from where my knife bit his flesh.

“I didn’t tell him anything. Back down. We can still pull this off.”

“At an even split.”

“As you say.”

I did not bring my knife away. Nor did he surrender his crossbow. Humor danced in his eyes, though his grimace told me of his fear.

A click and the crossbow bolt lodged itself in my gut, up to the feathers. I howled and fell backwards. He stood up and looked around for the protector, whose thudding footsteps seemed to be coming from all directions. Sheer terror glued him to the spot.

The protector trundled into view, a stone hammer held at the ready. My companion stuttered, “She came at me with the knife! I had no choice!”

“You are no innocent,” said the protector. He lifted the hammer towards me. “Nor are you.” Faster than I could track, he slammed the hammer into my companion’s skull. I tried to crawl on my back, away from the forest’s champion.

“Your friend told me of your deception. But I knew before then. Descendants of my lord would carry no knife.” He raised his voice to be heard over a wind that whipped through the leaves. “You have upset me. You have upset this sacred place. My oath requires your death.”

My legs felt cold and could no longer propel me. The protector loomed, looking as tall as the trees. “May flowers and trees grow from your corpse. May you be useful in death.”

I screamed as the hammer fell.

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Barnaby Profane
Feb 23, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2021


Flowers for Sylvester

Barnaby Profane fucked around with this message at 17:58 on Jan 3, 2020

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