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Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


I'm in Italy with a phone, a powerbank and an itinerary that consists of "find charming cafés, drink Italian coffee and read bad crime novels until dead or flight home", might as well add some writing to that list. Flash, in and :toxx:, you assholes.

Black Griffon fucked around with this message at 20:45 on May 18, 2019

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Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Black Griffon posted:

I'm in Italy with a phone, a powerbank and an itinerary that consists of "find charming cafés, drink Italian coffee and read bad crime novels until dead or flight home", might as well add some writing to that list. Flash, in and :toxx:, you assholes.

Late to the party and throwing out disses?

Your story must feature a haunted butt.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


why did i return to this accursed contest

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






Black Griffon posted:

why did i return to this accursed contest

:swoon:

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Black Griffon posted:

why did i return to this accursed contest

Only in dying are we alive

Djeser
Mar 22, 2013


it's crow time again



Black Griffon posted:

why did i return to this accursed contest

well it certainly couldn't be because of the quality of the writing or the speed of the judging

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

timeless Ned Flanders style


This story is available for your listening pleasure.

Diamond Eyes
663/666 words

Did you know that we’re the first to camp here in fifteen years? They closed the island for so long because of the ghastly crime that happened here. I will tell you all about it. The lucky one of you is Billy, off checking the boats! His pants will stay unwet!

Those fifteen years ago, three friends robbed a transport, killed the courier, stole a whole bag of diamonds! But one of them didn’t want to share! He took the bag and ran, but knew – his former friends were out for blood, his blood! But he had a plan to vanish! To pose as counselor, get some kids with him onto this very island, and hide both bag and self.

Everything had gone to plan, tents set up, campfire lit, scary stories told. But then they realized: the boy they’d sent to check the boats – missing for an hour!

Had his duped friends found him? The fake counselor’s heart dropped down his throat. It pounded there as he went looking for the missing boy alone. Snuck through the brush towards the shore, held his breath until his lungs were burning. There, in a boat, a huddled figure! The counselor crept closer, inch by silent inch. Finally, he raised his heavy unlit flashlight, every muscle in his body primed to strike, he grabbed the figure’s shoulder and spun it around…

It took all he had not to scream, scream loud enough for the entire island, even the distant shore to hear.

The counselor’s way back was tortuous. The camp a million miles away. His violent death by betrayed friend suspected behind every tree. He ran in darkness, staggered, fell and crawled until finally, the bonfire shone. And there...

The nine remaining kids were fine. Everything is fine! The counselor spat. The missing boy will come, yes, later. Don’t ask! He’s fine, I said so! Trust me! Go to sleep! No more stories!

He shooed the kids into the tents. Every second he checked the underbrush, flinched at every rustle, but still the crook made sure to close all tentflaps tight.

And the island was quiet for two days, until the police arrived. And on the shore, they found a boy’s body in a boat, with diamonds pushed into his eyes. To send a message to a former friend: we want the rest, and this is how far we’ll go. And in the tents, screams muffled by their sleeping bags, the other kids. Their throats were cut to make them drown in their own blood.

And thus, they closed the island off. Began a manhunt. But they got lucky! A tip made in anonymity, and as proof a fingerprint on diamond eye: they found the two thieves the fake counselor had betrayed. He’d manage to escape, left them empty-handed once again, and in their rage, they massacred the children.

But was that true? Was it not possible that actually, the counselor had killed the nine? To cover his tracks, to frame his pursuers? They’d be executed for his heinous crime, and he would be free of them!

But a traitor like the counselor didn’t expect honor among thieves! The one whose fingerprint gave witness of the boat-boy’s killing confessed. Took all the blame. Got executed, while his friend got fifteen years, locked away while the island was locked up.

And here we are! Where diamonds are still hidden. This night, the surviving thief might come here looking for them. And if he wants to reap what he betrayed two friends and killed nine kids for, the fake counselor will need to show up too. But would he really try the same ruse again? Pose as counselor, bring ten more kids into mortal danger? By which I mean…you?

But now it is time for you to sleep over blood-soaked ground! Make sure to close your tentflaps tight! Or I will do it for you!

Oh, but hang on…shouldn’t Billy have come back from the boats already?

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.

Theme: The Locals Don’t Go there

Go There Not
Words - 576



I told you we don’t go to that place - the woods of birch, with bark hanging from gnarled boles like dry flesh. But still you went, and at night and at full moon no less. It may have felt like bravery, may have taken all your courage to walk through the headstones in the moonlight when everything turns bone white and branches catch suddenly at your clothes. But it was stupidity. I told you about Carl Porter who had lost his daughter. Poor fool killed himself after going up there, so now nobody goes.

You wanted to see if the stories were true. I guess that’s a kind of thing you have to see for yourself. I tried to warn you but it’s too late. It’s only a matter of time, now.

See, it’s not just an old cemetery - it was something else long before. The common misconception is that it’s founded on an ancient indian burial ground, but that’s not true. The first people never buried anything there. They knew better.

For them, it was a mystic place. They gathered together and went on vision quests and performed rites. I’ve heard it told they even did the Ghost Dance in that spot. The elders believed it was the closest point to the spirit world - like buckskin scraped with a stone into near transparency. It’s just more connected than anywhere else.

It wasn’t until much later that white settlers founded the cemetery. The homesteaders that came made the mistake of leaving their dead there. Why would you bury bodies where the spirit world is closest? But they didn’t believe. They didn’t understand.

It’s the thinning between worlds that’s the key, made worse by the cemetery. That and the person who visits, especially at night and especially under the full moon. That’s why it doesn’t matter if it’s your loved one who is buried there or not. It’s like a screen door into a house. You don’t have to yell into the one door the person walked through - any will do. It’s what you yell that makes the difference. And a person in grief like you going up there when you and did wanting what you do, well that was screaming at the top of your lungs. And that’s why we don’t go there anymore, not after poor Carl.

I know you saw what you thought was your dead wife, and who knows, maybe it was. Or maybe it just looked like her. But it doesn’t matter, you got something’s attention there among the twisted birches and the dry stones poking up like rotten teeth. And once you get that something’s attention, you can’t lose it. See, a screen doesn’t keep everything out - things can still push through.

Here it comes. Don’t turn around. Don’t move. Maybe she won’t notice you if we stay real still. I know that place is miles away, but it doesn’t matter anymore. You have her undivided attention.

There’s movement in the trees and a chill in the night air, but it’s not the wind. Do you feel a wind? Neither do I.

No, I’m not afraid - I didn’t call her. She doesn’t want me, she wants her partner - to have and to hold, till death do you part.

She’s drawing close, now. There’s a whisper in the darkness - a shadow in the flickering light of the fire that doesn’t move with the rest.

She’s almost here.

What’s that behind your shoulder?

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

timeless Ned Flanders style


Special crit for Lemonie – Windows

In order to critique this story, I feel like I need to break down how I read it. So here we go, in chronological order, and I hope I understood it correctly.

When Rik was a kid, his father left him and his mother, saying only that "he never liked it here". Rik figured out what his father meant due to a strange power awakening in him: it caused him to see the world through his father's eyes, and Rik therefore understood that his father had left because he felt like he was intellectually and otherwise stifled by his surroundings.

Rik got scared of this weird super-empathy power - also because it told him directly that a) his father was kind of a dick and b) his family home was not actually perfect, at least not to everyone, and decided to shut his power away, and managed to forget about it.

Until two shady guys deliver a trailer to him (by the way, because I mostly read American things on the internet, it took me way too long to realize what exactly a caravan is), whereupon his power manifests again and forces him to witness the last moments of the women who owned the trailer being murdered with it. Rik is sad that her death probably won’t be solved, and decides to at least learn her name by „aligning“ himself with her, using his power deliberately for probably the first time in his life.

I think this is a pretty good story, but you might notice that I left out almost everything from the first two thirds you wrote. That’s because apart from some relatively vague hints, they are almost incidental to what the core thing you want to tell is. I think you want to establish Rik as someone who is a loner, who has pretty muted emotions, and then to have a big reveal at the end to explain WHY he is such a weirdo: because he more or less subconsciously tries to not get too close to people, so his power doesn’t manifest again.

I don’t think this really works, because you have too many elements working against the focus of your story. You lead with Rik being suspicious of the two guys, but if he’s so shut off from other people, there’s no reason why he would be – unless the powers already start there, but it’s not really called back to. You then go to great lengths to establish his job as some kind of wonder mechanic, who instinctively knows if it’s possible and how to fix literally anything. That’s almost a second superpower! Maybe you want to tie this into his main one – that he started using his super empathy on things, not on people – but it really doesn’t work.

Also, he keeps mentioning that he wants to go to Susie’s, and see her smile and so on, so he does have a human connection, and it’s so strong that I wondered for a while if she’s more than just his bartender? You use a lot of words to mention here and how Rik is torn between going to her and looking at the trailer instead (with his manifesting powers nudging him towards it), so it’s presented like she is the „dull your feelings, ignore your power“ alternative – but she’s not written like the opposite of feelings, you know?

Overall, I felt like Rik and his complicated relationship with what might be a great gift was a good core of a story that didn’t quite come together because you distracted yourself from it too much in the beginning. The chronology is sound, but the emphasis on different influences on Rik and how he sees the world is not ideal. It needs to be hinted at much more strongly that he thinks he has a worldview figured out, and how the realization of how he shut himself off deliberately in his childhood rattles him.

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Doctor Rope

Missing
665 Words
Something weird at the ranger station

Determined to rediscover yourself, you plan a weekend alone at Rojo Abismo. A small canyon near the New Mexico border.

The drive to the canyon is cathartic. Undulated hills and grass-swept plains punctuated with the occasional antiquated rest stop are the only company you have. You arrive at the canyon mid-day.

***

You park and find yourself greeted by an older man who introduces himself as "Ted".

Stale coffee perfumes his speech, but you smile and nonchalantly lean away as he leans in pushing pamphlets and maps into your hand.

You confirm your reservation and provide your ID. Ted keys it in slowly with awkward fingers that crash clumsily against faded keys.

He clears his throat and shuffles in place, suddenly pale. You don’t think anything of it and look around the room at souvenirs, trinkets and photos of campers.

“I’m sorry, it looks like your site is closed due to a collapsed hoodoo. We’ve got the area closed off until it can be surveyed. We’ve relocated you to site 5. I’m terribly sorry about this.” He says, overly apologetic.

You assure him it’s fine, but he insists that it isn’t. “Normally, you’d be able to drive up to your site. Camp in your car if you wanted, but you’ll have to hike a trail to get to site 5, and it’s a bit of a ways. I can take you down on the 4-wheeler though, it’s small enough to navigate the trails and you won’t have to carry your gear.” He says looking at the trail with distant eyes instead of you.

You hesitate momentarily, contemplating the difficulty of hiking there yourself, but decide to accept his offer.

***

Ted locks up, and you gather your belongings. The ride is beautiful. You pass through dense thickets of tall desert grass, copses of looming junipers, and over sunflower-filled crests peppered with seeds that are spread across the terrain like black tears.

You arrive at a cluster of primitive campsites in the basin of a long-since dried river. You don’t think anyone has been here in years.

Solitude is what you came here seeking, but a mounting sense of unease comes to bloom as you consider the time it took you to get here.

You express your concerns to Ted, but he points out a dilapidated cabin on a ridge about a ˝ mile from your site and says, “A ranger will be stationed there at all times. Just look at the light and you’ll know it’s okay.” Your concern isn’t abated, but you exchange farewells and before you know it, he is gone.

***

Setting up camp took longer than you expected. You set to gathering up kindling and dry foliage from the surrounding brush to make a fire.

During your search you come across a Velcro strap sticking out of the ground. You dig with a nearby stick and reveal a fanny pack. It’s dark now, and you can’t discern its contents. You take it back and set it aside while you start a fire.

You examine the pack by fire light.

Inside the pack are 2 expired IDs, and a single scrap of paper. You recognize the photos from the check-in station, and recall ‘MISSING’ written in block lettering above their portraits.

There’s a sound like the cracking of lightning and you turn instinctively towards it. The ranger cabin is aglow with an eerie white light that creeps into you with the intensity of a hot knife. Futilely, you turn away and read the scrap of paper. A single message hastily scrawled on it, “The station lights aren’t lights.” Your last moments come quickly, your body fading away before a scream can escape your throat.

***

In the morning, Ted drives out to site 5 on his 4-wheeler to collect your belongings and spots the fanny pack you had unearthed. He examines the contents, sighs to himself, and drops your ID in with the others. He mutters something of an apology and disappears back down the trail.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

The Baker's Half-Dozen
Word Count: 666

Before I was born, my parents camped here. They’d drive the RV seven hours to make it out. The Bakers were the only family nearby. They met my parents for a picnic and afterwards it became a thing for my parents to visit them each summer. I was born the same day the Bakers had a daughter. Her name was Kelly. Our summers were spent together. While I ended up being an only child. Kelly was third in hers. Altogether, they were three sisters and three brothers. All blond-haired and blue-eyed. Except for the seventh.

When we were eight, Kelly invited me over to play hide-and-seek. When it was my turn to hide, I snuck into the pantry room. Inside were shelves stacked with mason jars of pickled things. There seemed to be space enough to fit myself between the shelves. As I tried crawling in, I knocked a jar. Kelly rushed in.

I was scared, but Kelly seemed even more. She said the pantry should have been locked. I said sorry. We looked the jar over. It hadn’t shattered entirely, but cracked enough that there was a spill. Up close, I saw something floating inside that looked like a veiny burger patty, with a stringy mushroom stem dangling from the center. On the jar was a strip of masking tape with a date scribbled. I heard Kelly whisper ‘Jill.’ It was her older sister’s name who she was closest to.

Kelly ordered me to clean up the mess while she grabbed another jar, filling it with something that smelled worse than the dentist’s, before putting the thing in. I asked what it was, but she wouldn’t tell.

That evening we had an outdoor barbecue with the Bakers. Jill wasn’t there. They said she had stomach flu. I didn’t see Jill again, and Kelly stopped speaking with me. When we visited the summer after, they said Jill was in the hospital and Kelly didn’t speak at all. I told my parents I didn’t want to come back, and stayed with my grandparents the next year. When my parents came home, they told me Mrs. Baker was dead. She died giving birth but the infant lived. They named him Jo and his hair was black. They also said Kelly missed me and hoped I would visit again.

I was sick the next summer. We recovered from a flu and the night before we should have travelled, I blacked out. The doctor said I had Reye syndrome. None of us visited the Bakers that year. I wrote to Kelly saying I was sorry and asked about her. The mail was returned to sender.

The summer after would be our last time together. When we knocked at their door, Mr. Baker met us on a cane. Another man was with him. Mr. Baker apologized for not meeting us at the driveway like he usually did and introduced us to his brother Joseph who he said was helping him look after the house. Joseph had black hair.

I asked about Kelly. Mr. Baker turned to Joseph and seemed to await his nod. I met Kelly in her room, who seemed to have aged only half as much me since we last met. She went to her closet and took out a jar with tinted glass and asked me to secretly hold onto it. I could hear something sloshing inside. On the lid was a strip of tape with a date scribbled. It was our birth date. Kelly told me if we planned to visit again to check inside the jar. If there was nothing inside, they wouldn’t be here. I asked her what was going on, but she replied with a headshake and a hug.

We didn’t stay long that summer. I never opened the jar but would lift it every once in a while. I thought I felt it getting lighter. We travelled as a family to visit again one final summer, but when we knocked, no one answered.

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!




597 words

The Squishiness

https://thunderdome.cc/?story=7417&title=The+Squishiness

flerp fucked around with this message at 01:48 on Oct 11, 2019

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Your story must feature a haunted butt.

White Hill

666/666

Every event leaves an impression, ripples on the fabric of your being. Ann Stacy Lister had a fabric frayed and weathered, one easy to read.

"You returned to work after what happened," I said, "The only one out of the whole team."
Her fingers, intertwined around a still warm mug, stamped with the White Sacrament Hospital logo, shook.
"I did, yes."
I locked eyes with her, sipped from my own mug, mirrored her grasp, waited.

They'll talk their way to an early grave if you let them, that's what my instructor used to say.

"They say you have to return," she said, "We say that. We tell our patients that. Absence makes everything worse. Not only your absence from work, but the absence of normalcy, the absence of what you're used to."

-

Five nurses, two doctors and one specialist. Out of the whole team, Ann Stacy alone had returned, and that made her interesting. Ann Stacy was not a brave or strong woman, the red eyes and trembling hands betrayed amphetamines, not tears. Some lump of guilt on a weakening rope had driven her return to a place where she'd witnessed something that should not be. There was a hurt in the foundations of Ann Stacy's life, one that shone a dark light through the cracks. One I'd seen in the fading paint of her home as I pulled up to her driveway, the old car, the glimpse of her fearful face behind a curtain as I killed the ignition.

She was perfect.

-

"And so you came back," I said, after a pause too long for comfort.
"And so I came back," she said, after a breath too long, deep and shuddering to be for air alone, "But my colleagues didn't, not yet. I think I should've taken those sick days after all."

I rubbed a finger along the lipstick stain on the rim of my cup. The lipstick, the skirt, the pumps. I preferred something simpler, more flexible, but getting under the skin of the people of White Hill required a certain degree of play acting. These Nebraskans had expectations of how a female FBI agent ought to look, it made my job easier if I matched those expectations.

"Miss Lister," I said, "I... I understand it might be difficult, but I need you to explain what you saw."
She closed her eyes, rocked a little as the amphetamines in her system struggled against the instinct to react. I rose from my chair without a sound brought my hand over her mug. When she opened her eyes she was too far gone to notice I'd moved.
"He was just, gone. Someone or something else by the end of it. When we started the operation the things covered his backside, but they grew before our eyes, I've never seen anything like it," she took a sip, then another, "No one has."

My instructor always stressed the importance of stress. A doctor wants a calm patient, we want someone with blood pumping like rapids.

And there was a river in Ann Stacy's eyes as she rose, a river in her muscles as she stretched one hand out and screamed without a sound, and fell forward. Body still as a lake, but wild rapids in her eyes.

-

"As a nurse, you know how useful the gluteus maximus is, for injections," I said as I rinsed the ritual knife in alcohol, "You saw that yourself."
I made a small incision in her buttock, rested the cursed metal of the blade in the wound until I knew the work was done.
"You're lucky, Ann Stacy," I pulled one of my nitrile gloves off and over the knife, "You've seen how lucky you are."
Eyes locked with mine as I stroked her hair.

-

I left the host in her living room, The Messenger rapidly growing. A witness to breed a witness to breed a witness, until it was done. And I followed the river out of town, running rapid, running wild.

Nikaer Drekin
Oct 11, 2012

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

Mama Bear
661 Words


Can't fight? Better run!

Everyone knows that Vermont in the fall is pretty as a picture. The trees light up with a firework shock of orange and red – to a southerner like Lee, unaccustomed to such sights, it seemed as if the whole world was putting on a magic show just for him.

Lee wandered through the woods, snapping pictures whenever a striking view presented itself. When he reached the end of his third roll of film, he stopped by a stream to reload the camera and sip from his canteen. As he rested, a dark, motionless form caught his eye. He slung the camera strap around his neck and walked toward it.

The thing was some kind of dead animal, but not any Lee could recognize. Its hairless, crumpled body was little bigger than a basketball, blue-black in hue and covered with a slick, mucus-like film. Its fleshy head bent away from its neck at a disquieting angle. A fluid that looked like motor oil seeped out of a gash in its throat.

Lee’s mouth went dry. Almost by instinct, he raised his camera to take a photo of the creature. As he tweaked the focus, he noticed that something had blocked his light source. Slowly as he could, he craned his neck upward.

A towering creature stared down at Lee, its glistening skin the same abyss-dark blue as the mangled one at its feet. Its breath heaved in and out. The awful, inscrutable features on its face seemed to twist inward, thin lips parting to show needle-sharp teeth.

Lee slid his right foot back, hoping against all logic that if he moved slowly enough, the beast might somehow not notice. It noticed. A sinewy arm shot forward and grabbed Lee by the throat, hoisting him up as it squeezed his windpipe shut. Lee’s hands scrabbled desperately at the fist choking his life away, but the effort was hopeless. He went limp as a skinned rabbit, and his vision exploded with color before fading away.

When the world swam back to Lee he found himself in a firelit cave, the flame’s glow beating back the darkness of night. His throat felt raw, his cheek cold against the dry ground. A guttural moan sounded to his right, and Lee shifted to face it.

The beast knelt with its back to Lee before the amber flame, which coated its skin with a hellish gleam. It let loose a pathetic, helpless cry that laid bare a lifetime’s worth of mourning in a single sad note. It cradled the little one’s crushed body in its arms.

Lee tried to move his hands, but found that they’d been knotted together tight. Wait, he thought, that thing knows how to tie a knot? And make a campfire, and… and grieve? Maybe if he had the chance to speak to it, tell it he had nothing to do with the child’s death...

But that was assuming the beast would understand Lee, or care enough to listen. That was too slim a chance. Lee maneuvered his aching body, got noiselessly to his feet. Before the creature could react he bolted for the mouth of the cave. A vicious, horrible screech ripped through the air but Lee lunged forward, pumping his feet as fast as they’d go.

Arms bound uselessly behind him, Lee ran and ran, charging into an endless snarl of inky shadows. He was hounded all the way by shrieks of agony that bounced through the trees, striking at him from every direction. Legs aching and lungs burning, he summoned one last burst of energy and threw himself past the tree line, at last collapsing with desperate relief into the gravel parking lot.

Every year Lee comes back this way, warning others to camp or sight-see someplace else. See, the beast never slaked its thirst for vengeance, and its hatred for humans has only sunk in deeper. So you didn’t kill its child – so what? Grief makes anyone do funny things.

Nethilia
Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition


Gator Bait
[656]

https://thunderdome.cc/?story=7420&title=Gator+Bait

Nethilia fucked around with this message at 23:17 on Jan 2, 2020

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Don't Turn Your Head

470 words

Don't even dart your eyes. You can see them when they're on the edge of your vision. Right now, on your left, Frannie West sharpens her cleaver. On your right Carlos Prince spins the barrel of his revolver. Eyes straight ahead. Eyes on me. If you look at them they'll vanish. If you look at them they can get into your head, into your dreams. Oh. I see. It's too late already.

Which one is it? No, let me guess. It's got to be Dorothy, little Dottie Prince and her knitting needles. You've seen what she can do, with the needles and with the yarn. Now once she's in your head, there's only a few ways it can go.

See, the ghosts around here, they sold their souls to the devil for a promise that man's law wouldn't touch them for anything they did. Frannie killed her husband and Carlos' wife, they say she cooked and served them to half the town, but the jury came back not guilty in an hour. Carlos robbed banks, then invested in his own. Dottie did for her brothers and her own best friend.  And before they died each one of them lost their souls in bets with a gambling man. For a while they thought they were cheating him. When they died they thought for a hot second they'd cheated the devil, but the devil came after his due, and now they need souls, souls for the vigorish on the debt they can't pay.

So I'm afraid you've got two choices. Let little Dottie tell you all about her baby brothers every night until you end yourself and send your soul off to hell. Or you can sin your way loose. If your soul already belongs to the devil she can't do a thing with it. Now don't be thinking you can get by with a little blaspheming or fornicating or anything petty like that. Gotta be a big sin, friend. It's got to be murder.

Don't like the look of those options? I don't blame you. And since I like you, I'm going to make you an offer. A little game of chance. I am a gambling man, you see.

A simple toss of the dice, your mark against mine. Your soul against Dottie's. You win and we send her to the hell she bargained for years ago. You lose, and your soul belongs to me, and you do me a few favors, some now and some after you're dead. Nothing too bad. Nothing that'll get you hellbound. So you win either way.

Pick up the dice. Feel them in your hand, the smooth ivory, the sharp indentations of the pips. Bounce them in your hand, feeling for the balance. Blow on them for luck if you must.

Then roll.

QuoProQuid
Jan 12, 2012

Tr*ckin' and F*ckin' all the way to tha
T O P


Flash: Two murders decades apart

Sick
666 words

I’ve always been one to get stuff done when no one else would.

When I was little, I had a doggy named Maggie. She was a sweet thing with big eyes you could see your whole self in. We’d go out and run and play fetch and do all the things little boys are supposed to do with their dogs. I loved her. I loved her more than anything in the world.

But then Maggie got sick. Real sick. And instead of going up to heaven with all the angels and the harps and the singing choirs, Maggie lingered. She couldn’t let go. The sick sunk its teeth around her neck. And little Maggie was scared. I could smell it.

Every day she’d look at me with yellowy eyes and whine. “Help me, Billy,” she’d whimper as fur fell off in patches and her skin grew taut. She’d stare up at me as the monster ate more and more of her. “All I wanna do is say goodbye.”

So I helped her. I picked up the biggest rock in our garden and said bye-bye. It didn’t matter that mom screamed and clawed at her face when she saw the yuck all over me. It didn’t matter when she took me to doctors who asked me about my feelings and gave me pills.

I helped Maggie. I stopped the sick when no one else would.

The next summer, when I was bigger and stronger, mom sent me to camp. She said it was so I could play with other people my age, but I know better. I saw how she looked at me, scurrying from room to room like a mouse and locking her door at night. She wouldn’t even give me a goodnight kiss. She didn’t understand.

But camp was fun. We made bracelets and went swimming and cooked marshmallows. When people didn’t understand me, there was a big forest full of animals I could play with too. It was all good. And then, in the last days, we had an uh-oh.

Our counselor Buddy fell while everyone was at the lake. He’d been trying to hang up a farewell banner that said how much he loved us and how he’d always be our Buddy. I only found him ‘cause I didn’t want to go swimming. My head hurt too bad.

His tools were scattered all over the grass. He’d probably been baking in the sun for a while ‘cause I could barely hear him over the faraway laughter.

“Billy. Jesuuuuus, Billy,” moaned Buddy. He lifted a shaking hand toward me. His legs were twisted and bent all the wrong ways. “Get help. I need…”

It hurt to look. I knew the sick was close, that it wouldn’t let Buddy go until it had sucked out all his juices. So I picked a hammer from the grass. I watched myself grow big in Buddy’s tear-filled eyes.

“Bye bye, Buddy. I love you.”

But the grown-ups still didn’t understand. Not the other counselors who found the chunks left behind. Not the policemen who yelled at me. Not the judge who made me wear an orange suit and live in a big metal house far away from mom and all the animals.

They made me stay for years until I got bigger than ever, until even they didn’t want me anymore and kicked me out. So I made my way to mom. I waited ‘til it got dark to make sure she was home. I creeped through her unlocked window to her teevee-lit room only to see the sick had gotten her too, had made her old and frail. She was scared like Maggie. I could smell it.

After helping mom, I thought for a long time about what I should do. Then the teevee showed a commercial for my old camp. The new season was starting and they needed help for all the good campfire boys and girls.

And I’ve always been one to get stuff done.

Kaishai
Nov 3, 2010

Scoffing at modernity.

Hollow Hearts
(551 words)

The fourth time Alistair drove off the edge of the road, he shoved the gearshift into park and killed his engine right there on the shoulder. He slid out onto the asphalt with a whiskey bottle in his hand and with a vague sense of loss. Of his car? Of Susan? Of himself? The road ahead vanished when he switched off his lights. He stood alone in the night, blind.

To either side were trees. Alistair wove to the right with his hand outstretched, toward smells of dead leaves and faded musk strong enough to break through the fumes of alcohol. His steps sank an inch into the rich, crumbling loam, soft as a bed. If he could just find a tree to lean against, to drink against until the bottle was as empty as he felt--his palm slapped bark that dissolved at his touch, staining his skin with rot. A thousand legs skittered over his fingers. "Jesus drat poo poo!" He whipped them away.

A woman laughed.

In darkness made darker by the tangled boughs above, Alistair couldn't see her. He swung around, falling against the corpse of the tree as his balance failed, and he scrabbled in his pocket for the tiny flashlight he kept on his key ring. Its beam caught a pair of human eyes. A glint of hair. Then they were gone, their owner reduced to the sound of running feet.

"Susan?" Alistair called. "Susan?" His mind filled in the blanks. Red hair. Blue eyes. The smile that had toppled him into love, that she hadn't shown him in months, that she'd given to another. "Susan!"

He ran after her, clutching the light and the whiskey as though they were life. Again and again he hit decaying trees, tripped by roots that slithered under his boots. Mushrooms exploded between him and the rot-soft trunks, choking him with their spores. But he ran. Branches tore his sleeves and his face. But he ran.

She waited for him in a clearing. The light showed her face, a beautiful face, with a hundred leaves in short-cropped hair that might have been red. The whiskey said it was. "Don't leave me again," Alistair whispered.

The woman stepped up to him, took the light away from him. "No," she whispered back. Her lips touched his. They tasted like the forest, like damned and decomposing things. Her arms wound around him, holding him tight, and he dropped the bottle. The last sound Alistair ever heard was breaking glass.

She pressed him into her, through skin as giving as loam, as bark, as death, and she changed around him until wood closed him in and he couldn't move except as she moved him: in toward the heart of her, a hollow place just the size of a man--almost. The bones of her last lover cracked and his dried flesh broke as Alistair was pinned against them so tightly that he couldn't scream even before her bitter sap poured into his throat.

In the clearing, a tree stretched its arms up into the night air. Each bore new and tender growths, proof of a living heart. The scent of whiskey drifted from those leaves toward the dead trees all around, that sighed as one in envy and waited for their turns.

is a wiki a book
Jan 17, 2019


Stay Out of the Woods
666 words

I love camping, but not in the woods any more. These days, I prefer drier places, like the desert. You can spot any little change on the horizon, and they jump right out at you. The woods have too many hiding spots, if you ask me, too many places out of sight where things can accumulate. Have you ever been asked to check the crawlspace in an old cabin? Exactly. I wouldn’t do it either.

I was crazy about “outdoor adventure” back then. When my shift-mate, Randall, showed interest in joining me on a weekend trip, I got so excited I could hardly contain myself. Finally, I’d get to do all of those contrived things people do at camp, like roasting marshmallows or gettin’ down to some “real talk.”

I picked Randall up early Saturday morning. If we’d put on the radio for even a few minutes to check the weather, maybe we’d have heard the alerts.

Once we were unloaded and the tents were set up, I found out pretty quickly that I was outclassed. Randall was in his element--as soon as we were ready, he went through this whole routine of tightening all the straps and laces on his specialized hiking gear, and he was off. Eventually, I just stayed in the tent after we ate dinner, while Randall marched off into the gloom once again as the sun started setting.

I remember the woods getting silent, bit by bit, while I waited in the tent, playing some stupid game on my phone instead of checking on my friend. First, it was the birds. I’ve never paid much attention to bird calls, but I did notice when I didn’t hear the whip-poor-wills at sundown. The silence got thicker, heavier after that.

When the droning started, I got worried. Instead of silence, there was an even, heavy blanket of thick sound over everything, with this weird, harsh texture to it. It really rattled me, like the sound was making my skull vibrate. There was this queasy, twisting feeling in my gut, and I called out for Randall, but of course he couldn’t hear me over that noise.

It got so loud I could barely think, and once the scraping started, I laid in that tent, completely still. It was like a hundred tiny brushes moving at once across the nylon of the tent, making the material go zip zip zip. I couldn’t even see a silhouette; whatever was on the tent had covered it on all sides. I sat in there for a long time with my limbs drawn in around myself, and man am I glad I didn’t try and touch anything.

That was around the time I finally heard footsteps. I called out for Randall, and I nearly threw the flap open when I heard him reply, “Y-yes…” He had to spit a bunch of stuff out to speak to me.

I remember his croaking, cracked voice telling me, “Stay in the tent.” I tried to protest, but he cut me off.

“For the love of god--stay in the tent!”

I found him the next morning, after a miserable, sleepless night. I had to summon the patience of a monk to make it through, and I’ll never forget the way he shrieked and pounded the underbrush out there, amongst whatever had covered the tent.

He was alive the next morning, but his eyes were wild and he kept drifting in and out of some kind of delirium. His skin was so pale, and the few times he spoke he just begged for water, or something to help an itch.

I got him to the hospital, but the doctors told me I wouldn’t want to see him once they had started. I went home without him that afternoon, but I’ll never forget the last thing I saw before he was wheeled behind the double doors at the care unit. He was whimpering, grabbing at this football-sized lump on his forehead.

Jesus, it was moving.

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 Only Story Your Friend Knows
644 words
Flashrule: Are those howls from the woods really from coyotes?

archiving this weirdo

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 12:56 on Dec 29, 2019

Lippincott
Jun 28, 2018

You weren't born to just pay bills and die.

You must suffer.

A lot.


Don't Tell It On the Mountain
Words 664

I don’t like telling this story too close to the mountain. I was warned if I did, I would attract it again.

Mt. Hood is a well-trafficked mountain. It’s right outside of Portland, so you get a lot of folks that go up there for the day, take their selfies to put them on Instagram and that’s #mthood. But I grew getting lost in those woods, and finding skulls and forgotten little hollows where people went to disappear forever. It’s an unsettling forest off the trails; full of things you can’t necessarily feel until you’re standing in the middle of them and it’s pressing in on you. I’ve always loved that mountain, but it scares me.

When I was in college, I took a job up there working at a gas station. One night, I’m heading down the mountain to get groceries. It’s a mean highway. As a kid, I saw many cars wrapped around trees or semis plunged off the side of the curves. Once you drop below freezing, the rain falls in sheets. It’s so dark just outside the beams of your headlights that it feels like the forest is sucking you in on both sides. As I was coming down through one of the tightest stretches of the highway, my wipers were going as fast as they could and barely keeping the rain off my windshield.

All of a sudden, there’s something standing in front of my car. I thought it was a person because it was tall and bipedal, but it was impossible for a person to appear like that in the middle of the road. I slam on the brakes and even as I’m fishtailing out, I know I hit them. I had to have smashed right through them. I flinch and throw my arms up screaming, expecting to hear a body ricocheting off the front of my car. Except, there’s no impact. As I idle my car after coming to a stop, I’m saying to myself, “What the gently caress just happened?” I look in my mirrors thinking ‘it must have been a trick of the light’ because I know I hit something, but I didn’t hear an impact.

My hands are shaking and I’m pulling out my brick of a phone, hoping there’s service even when I know there isn’t. There’s definitely something crumpled up on the road, so I figure it’s a branch that fell or a plastic sheet blown off someone’s roof. I reach to open my door to get out, because I’ve got to clear it off the road before the next car comes. As I unlock my door, this thing in the road starts to collect itself in all the wrong ways. It pulls its limbs back underneath its body in disjointed right angles with the elbows and knees jutting out like it’s a insect. It’s not moving like anything I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely getting back up and approaching the bumper of my car in the red glow of my brake lights. I put my foot through the gas pedal. As I’m peeling out of there, I re-lock the doors and check my mirrors again except now there’s nothing there.

I felt like something was following me for months.

I asked a friend who lived up there what it was, when she described a similar experience of something stalking her on a night run. She told me we don’t talk about it on the mountain. Talking about it gives it power, it calls it to us, and then it can hurt us. It still doesn’t feel far enough away to be retelling it here, but she told me what to do if I see it again, which I feel like everyone who spends time in dark woods should know.

Pretend you don’t see it. Keep moving until it loses interest, but don’t run. It likes it when you run, and it won’t stop following you until you’re too tired to keep running.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Haumapuhia
660 words

“Some people say fire has a mind of its own,” the tall man said. He had a long, bone white stick he’d picked up, somewhere on our rocky scramble down to the lakeside campsite, and he slid it into the heart of the fire. We watched sparks cluster around it.

“People say a lot of things,” said Peter. “I mean, fire’s a complex system, but that doesn’t mean it’s self-aware…?” The words dropped into the quiet lapping of the lake water and the crackle of the dry wood in the fire, and vanished. We sat there, Peter, and me and the strange tall man who’d joined our tramp halfway around Lake Waikaremoana, and listened to the sound of their absence for a while.

“There’s a legend, of course,” the man muttered, eventually, with an odd tone to his voice like he’d been putting off bringing the matter up.

“About fire?” My voice sounded tiny. There were no other lights visible this far round the lake and we hadn’t seen any other trampers all day.

He shook his head, slowly, left and right. “About the lake.”

He fell silent again. Peter leaned forward and tossed another bit of wood on the fire. His lips were pressed tight. I was about to suggest we all turn in when the tall man spoke again.

“A chief named Mahu had many daughters. He commanded one of them to fetch him water from a particular stream. She refused. He asked her again, and again she refused.”

He didn’t seem tall any more, hunched down, clutching his knees to his chest. The fire had caught his bone-white stick and was burning brightly; our little campfire was a puddle of light floating in an inky black void.

Peter snorted. “Cool story.”

The tall man said, whispering “The third time he asked her and without waiting for her reply he seized upon her and strangled her to death. Her corpse he flung into the lake. She became a monster, a taniwha, swimming deep down in the dark, cold water. She calls out from there. She is restless, hungry.”

The frogs down by the lake side weren’t croaking any more. I realised I’d been holding my breath, and let it out in a hiss of fog. “It’s getting cold,” I said.

The tall man nodded and looked up at me. His eyes were glistening pools of black in the hot flickering light of the fire. He reached out and withdrew the burning stick and held it up. “I will warm you,” he said. His arm flicked out and jabbed the flaming stick deep into my left eye socket.

The pain was extraordinary, like someone had poured boiling mud into my eye. I could feel it dripping down my cheek. I heard a screaming and I thought it was me for a moment but it was Peter. I was on my feet, somehow, and I could see him upright too, swaying with the tall man stooped over him. The man’s outline was wavery, like someone had drawn him with too many outlines of black felt tip. My eye was on fire. My face was on fire.

I staggered away down the slope, smooth lake stones slipping and skittering under my feet. Peter was howling as I plunged face-first into the gelid water.

The shock of the water embracing me was first stunning, then entrancing. The water was coiling around me and slithering into my heavy tramping clothes like wise cool fingers, dragging me down. Each time it touched my skin was another revelation. This had been there all along, and I hadn't come. Why was that?

My face no longer hurt, and I suddenly realised that if I could keep going down far enough then I would finally understand. There was a mind in the lake, and of course it hungered. Everything hungered, for one thing or another.

I could hear a muffled voice, yelling, but it seemed like it came from a long way away as I took my first strong stroke on the journey down.

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019



Interchange
517 words

It was early Sepember when Shrimpy Rob Lunkiss walked into the forest and never came out, that summer when those other kids went missing, and I was the last one to ever see him.

It was still in the sticky-sweat thickness of summer, so warm at night you couldn't bear to sleep under the sheets. We were playing frisbee out in the empty lot until dark. Then Rob said he had something he wanted to show me in the woods.

I said no, it was dark out already, and besides I was supposed to be home by now, and anyway didn't he need his inhaler because he was starting to wheeze?

Well, that must have really burned him right black because he just pulled back and walloped me—that's right, Shrimpy gave me a black eye! Mighty strange, too, I couldn't see straight, like it all went cloudy, like it didn't feel like what him punching me should feel like at all. More like getting hit in the head with a tree branch. I mean a real big one, oak or something, not a little dinky Christmas tree branch.

Rob looked at me strange, all gloomy like he was going to say something, but he didn't, he just turned and walked into the woods. I had no idea what was going on, he was keeping me in the dark.

So I followed him into the woods, I mean, I had to, right? I couldn't leave him out there alone in the forest. Well I ran after him—I swear I was right behind him—but he was gone, like he just up and vanished into the black.

Now I was getting scared, so I didn't go too much father into the woods, just took a few steps and called his name a couple times and didn't hear anything, then turned back. But I must have got turned around somehow because I didn't come out where I went in, and now surrounded by tree branches pressing all around... I just remember panicking, running on and on until I collapsed, out like a light.

It was still dark when I woke up, but the sky was just turning blue with dawn. I looked around and realized where I was—I could just see the burned black wall by the culvert.

I reached it and turned back and that's when I saw it—Rob—but not Rob—there was something wrong. I couldn't take it, just turned and ran, and didn't stop until I reached home, running as fast as my legs could bear, until my lungs felt like they were going to explode and my heart was going to give out.

I jumped into bed and stayed there all morning, ignoring my parents, staring up into the shadowed recesses of the ceiling, unable to get the image out of my mind. Rob, standing too tall, his shirt torn and bloody, his neck and arms covered in thick hair like the fur of a bear. He looked at me, sniffed the air, and kept walking into the trees.

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Submissions are closed! Fast judging good judging!

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Interprompt: what is he building in there

WhoopieCat
Sep 15, 2018

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019

...

WhoopieCat fucked around with this message at 09:08 on May 24, 2019

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







Dope

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.

What's He building in there?

FROM THE DESK OF
Robert T. Bullick

May 20, 2019

Dear Mr. Waits,

I finally found out What's he building? as per your unanswered question on the Mule Variations album. Turns out it's a Gas-powered Two-stoke 6-Speed Reciprocating rear end Hammer, although I am afraid that doesn't fully satisfy curiosity and raises even more questions than we had at the onset.

Yours,

Bob Bullick,
Lincoln, Nebraska

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Black Griffon posted:

why did i return to this accursed contest

WhoopieCat posted:

The One That Got Away

Black Griffon posted:

why did i return to this accursed contest

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


S’moreDome Results

This week was a reminder of the most primal source of fear: bad writing. Lots of second person, not very scary monsters, and oddly convoluted backstories.

These folks failed, and are thus banished to the dark woods: Mr. Steak, steeltoedsneakers, Sundance Spot, and Amack. May the nightwolves have mercy on their bones.

The loser is Black Griffon for writing a story that’s mostly about reiterating that a lady returned to work over and over again until it got comical. M. Propagandolf forgot to make his scary story scary, and thus earns a DM. QuoProQuid gets another DM for a pretty boring serial killer thing. Nikaer Drekin wrote the most pedestrian monster story imaginable, and thus completes the DM trifecta.

There were some spooks, though! Antivehicular gave us a spooky new context for the haunting noises in the woods. flerp turned the joy of new life into a nightmare. They both get HMs. The winner reminded us that the real horror coming from the dark woods is the inherited legacy of American slavery.

Jordan Peele, I mean, ahem, Nethilia, please take your seat on the Blood Throne.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


my crits

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1DpFuifB8UPuQGbyxSDCpOObtU2wJGTYiLxXUg66RlzE/edit?usp=sharing

Fuschia tude
Dec 26, 2004

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2019




ty crabbo

Nethilia
Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition


Top Ten Hundred Words


Hello. I have made very good words and that is why I am the choose-person who gets to tell you all how I would like you to make very good words. I do not want bad or very bad words. That is what I am here to do: choose the best words in around seven days.

Here is a set of words that show you the ten hundred group of words that are the most words people who talk in my words use when you put your words in it.
https://xkcd.com/simplewriter/

This week, you will use words to make stories, but the words you will write your story will be simple. You must only use the top ten hundred words in the language (except for names and places). I will allow different uses of a word. Other than those kinds of words, you cannot use other words more than ten parts of a hundred. Also, your words must be about someone who is happy about something, because I am happy about this. The other choose-people and me will check your words in the simple writer. Do not use many words outside of the top ten hundred. If there are too many words that aren't simple, you will not be able to get more than a bad mention and you may lose. If you use very few words that are not simple, you will do better.

You have ten hundred words to say your things. If you would like two hundred more words, I or another choose-person will offer you a thing that will make your words a little harder.

(In non-simple text for people who are now going drat it, Neth's fallen off the Blood Throne and hit her head:

Hi. I won. Look at me. Don't gimme poo poo. I'm the judge now.

The link above is a Simple Word writer, in the style of XKCD's Up-Goer Five or the book Thing Explainer. That's your challenge. That link'll red-text any words that aren't the most common words. You can only use those words--barring proper nouns like names and places--to write your stories this week, with a buffer of about ten percent (with the obvious of word tenses/plurals and such as). You have only the top thousand words in English to write your stories. Also, you're going to write about people who have a reason to be happy. I (and the other judges) will check your words and if you've used too many words outside the top thousand, you'll DM or worse. The fewer words outside the top thousand, the better.

ETA: am only using xkcd's Simple Writer. Other lists won't help you.)

Rules:
1000 words.
Another 200 for a flash rule.
Standard Judge Rules Apply: No Fanfics, No SexDicks, No Politics; No GoogleDocs/Spreads/Database links. No attempts to make me hurl with wonktext. I'm very sensitive.


You can sign up until: Sunday, May 24th; 11:59 US PDT.
You must give me your words by: Sunday, May 26th; 11:59 US PDT.

People Who Will Choose The Words:
Nethilia
Saucy_Rodent
sebmojo

People Who Will Write The Words:
Ironic Twist
Black Griffon - Do not go to space today.
Doctor Zero
crabrock
Djeser - Cats are nice. Dogs are strange.
Antivehicular - I like blue and red and yellow, but i do not like the colors together.
Anomalous Amalgam - main person in the story wants big words.
Thranguy
Adam Vegas - rain outside.
Fuschia tude - door knocking
WhoopieCat
Salgal80
Mr. Steak
Killer-of-Lawyers
Nikaer Drekin
Hawklad
Tyrannosaurus

Nethilia fucked around with this message at 22:45 on May 25, 2019

Ironic Twist
Aug 3, 2008

I'm bokeh, you're bokeh


In.

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Inside, and big light making thank you.

Anomalous Blowout
Feb 13, 2006

rock
ice
storm
abyss



It makes no attempt to sound human. It is atoms and stars.

*


As per life poo poo and agreement by all parties, the sebmojo/sittinghere Wrestlerbrawl has been bumped by 48 hours. Tick tock, aging wrestlers.

(I’ll be on a plane when the deadline passes so you may have to wait a day for judgment, just fyi.)

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.

Sounds fun. Put me under People who will write the words.

Nethilia
Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition


Black Griffon posted:

Inside, and big light making thank you.

Your story will be about space, but no one will go to space today and stay on earth.

crabrock
Aug 2, 2002


in

Adbot
ADBOT LOVES YOU

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


Poorly formatted S’moreDome crits

Diamond Eyes by Simply Simon

I like the element of “here’s the details of this murder case, let your imagination run wild to find the spookiest solution” and I wish you’d leaned into that more. You spend a little too much time with the fake counselor as our POV. If you’re doing a fake true crime sort of thing, make that guy an enigma too. Maybe have the police exploring the crime scene be our eyes, first finding Diamond-Eye boy and then discovering the tents?

You could have done more with the inescapable island setting. Some bodies found in the water trying to swim away from whatever horrors were happening on the island would have been a nice creepy touch.

Kill the “unwet pants” line with fire. It’s bad.

You do a good job making the present company the potential victims of the next spook, and I enjoy the idea that Billy is in cahoots with the counselor, taking his sweet time so that the counselor can get maximum spooks. This is a good story that has obvious ways to be a better one had you really dove deeper.

This works better with your dramatic reading, mostly because you overuse exclamation points.

Mid

Missing by Anomalous Amalgam

Not a huge note, but this is about the most boring title you could have possibly picked for this story.

I liked this, for the most part. You spend too much time getting to the campsite and not enough time there. Give us a little more room between “those lights aren’t lights” (a great, weird, creepy line) and the protagonist’s death. I don’t want you to reveal what the lights are, but give us something to chew on so we can speculate on what’s really happening here.

I don’t think this story needs to be in second person, especially since the protagonist dies and the story continues after their death. You, like I, is a perspective that negates omniscience.

High mid

The squishiness by flerp

Oh, boy, now this is unexpected! I also love it!

I love how this is so definitively a campfire story, meant to be read aloud, and meant to be read aloud by anyone. Campfire stories are about primal fear, and what’s more primal than the terror of first life?

Well done.

High

Baker’s Half-Dozen by M. Propagandolf

I appreciate that you went for a more eerily nostalgic piece rather than something more immediately terrifying. You nailed the tone.

Ok, the Bakers’ life force is somehow connected to whatever’s in this jar. I like how unclear whatever is happening is. We can come up with our own version of events.

What I don’t like is how not scary any of this is. No version of the story puts anyone in any danger. Sure, it sounds like being connected to magic jars sucks, but in a way that’s sad instead of sinister. All of the Bakers seem like really nice folks with some unfortunate supernatural circumstances.

What I’m saying is maybe they should be vampires, and they have to hunt campers to refill their jars with meat, but they don’t hunt the narrator’s family because they’re friends? I don’t know, maybe that’s dumb, but this horror needs a little more horror.

Mid

White Hill by Black Griffon

You had the haunted butt rule, and none of your problems have anything to do with it. You nailed making the haunted butt non-ridiculous. Unfortunately, you didn’t nail writing a story that doesn’t suck.

So, like half this story is just reiterating that Ann Stacy is the only one of the bunch to return to work. At one point we cut away to a new scene to tell us again, then return and are told yet again! Are you afraid we’d forget? This whole opening is utterly baffling.

Then we get to some spooks that are way more confusing than mysterious. You don’t need to explain everything, but you do need to explain...something? Anything?

Low. Very low.

Gator Bait by Nethilia

This one’s pretty remarkable. I love how the horror and the commentary feel in sync with each other. Your use of accented language is both appropriate and readable. I’m not going to forget about this one soon.

I feel like there are better ways to tell us that the listeners are black than by calling them brown babies and chocolate bunnies. But that’s the nittest of picks. Good job.

High

Stay Out of the Woods by is a wiki a book

Cut the first couple paragraphs and get to the actual story. Why do we need anything about the difference between forest and desert camping when the actual narrative is set inside the tent?

Other than that this is a nice, simple, spooky story. Nothing too original, but not every story needs to be.

High mid/low high

The Only Story Your Friend Knows by Antivehicular

So I chose this prompt after a night at my mom’s old farmhouse listening to coyotes miles apart converse with each other. You got the coyote rule, and you did not disappoint. You nailed the quiet, creepy loneliness of coyote howls. I also love your redefinition of camping that makes sense to your characters.

High

Sebmojo’s story by sebmojo

I really, really wanted to DM this, but was outvoted by my co-judges.

If the word limit is 600-some words, you can pick Lake Ghosts or you can pick stabby fire guy. As a result of picking both, both feel like they come out of nowhere. At no point does anything feel like a result of anything. All of a sudden this weird straggler is a stabby straggler. What does the native princess story have to do with anything?

Creepy Lake Ghosts is good, but it ends up feeling like a b-plot to whatever Crazy McStabstab is doing, which is what, exactly? This story is bad. There are too many ideas competing for words, only some of which are good.

Low.

Sick by QuoProQuid

Eh. Sociopath sociopathing. Not really a campfire story, thanks to the first-person structure. Not terrible, just sort of pedestrian.

Low mid.

Dark Bear Tree by Fuschia Tude

Thanks for actually committing. You could’ve just failed but you actually pulled through.

You tried to hide your flash rule and tell a story that sounded mostly natural. You didn’t succeed, unfortunately. It still sounds weird and clipped. I think you should have embraced the flash instead, using repeated words as a cadence for a spooky children’s rhyme.

Still, thanks for pulling through.

Mid

Go There Not by Doctor Zero

Of all the stories this week, this is the one I’ll forget quickest. Nothing scary actually happens.

This isn’t a campfire tale unless I happen to be that specific guy.

Low mid

Don’t Turn Your Head by Thranguy

Much like a campfire with too many logs, this just didn’t let the horror breathe. Too many rules, too many explanations, too many ghosts.

You abandoned your flash rule, and your title, after the first paragraph.

Low mid

Don’t tell it on the mountain by Lippincott

Why should I be scared of this thing? Can it do anything to me? Can it kill me? It seems pretty easy to avoid. Your protagonist gets away by doing literally nothing.

Still, some good word choices.

Mid

Mama Bear by Nikaer Drekin

This is just the template for a monster story mad libs. Where’s your voice? Don’t give A monster. Give me YOUR monster.

Rewrite this one and make it your own.

Low mid/high low

Hollow Hearts by Kaishai

There’s some originality and creativity here. It’s not exactly in the style of a campfire tale, but it’s exactly the sort of thing that happens in one.

The prompt specifically says not to do complicated characters, and Alistair’s just a little too developed. There’s not a whole lot wrong with this one, but it also isn’t strong enough to really stand out.

High mid

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