Melody stormed down the staircase of Peaseblossom Hall, her term paper scrunched tightly in her fist. Her face was red as rose petals and her eyes as wet as dew and she felt the D minus burning in her hand, its 'must do better' in its smug, purple handwriting taunting her eternal ineptitude. In her haste she almost bowled over a fellow student heading upwards. The other student stumbled, missed her footing, and flittered into the air to prevent a nasty fall. "Careful there, Melody!" cautioned the pixie.
"Sorry!" called Melody in her lilting pixie voice, barely glancing over her shoulder as she raced away, not giving anyone a chance to see her tears.
Melody plonked herself down on the stone steps of the Quad, ignoring the many students chatting and laughing and playing float-ball around her. Another D minus in Intermediate Budding? Why am I even here? I really thought I'd understood it this time. It's enough to a make a pixie do the unthinkable. She wiped her eyes with one silken sleeve and took a moment to calm herself, looking up to the glass dome that covered the Quad, letting its refracted sunlight bathe her thin face in rainbows, and thinking of marigolds and honeycombs, sunshine and raindrops and ARRGH! D minus!
She straightened out the crumpled paper, smoothing it against her thigh. Maybe she'd misread it, maybe there was mistake... But no--. There it was, still at the top of the page. The gaping maw of the D. The dagger through the heart of the minus.
A strong wind gusted around her, swirling leaves and dust in tiny vortexes, then suddenly died. Melody looked up to see a crow had landed on the stone floor beside her. It was as large as she was, and as black as a sackful of midnight, with two faceted, obsidian jewels for eyes that she had always slightly feared might steal her soul if she looked too deeply into them.
"Oh, hi, Melchior," said Melody. "Come join the pity party."
"Caw," said Melchior. Alright.
"Just look at this, will you?" Melody waved the paper in front of her. "Yet another D minus, can you believe it? 'Must do better?'"
"Caw," said Melchior. Unbelievable.
"Right?" said Melody. "I mean, I've been budding in the Meadowlands for a thousand years, just wishing for something new to happen, and then, like a dream, I get accepted at PeaseBlossom, to take it to the "next level" and now my budding isn't even good enough? I don't even like budding."
"Caw," said Melchior. Sucks.
Melody cast her face downward, and studied her perky boots. "I thought I wanted to be here. That it would be different and new, but it's just the same old thing, only this time everybody is judging you for it." Melody was quiet a breath or two, then continued. "Melchior, I don't know that I want it any more. Any of it - the flowers, the wings, I don't even like the pixie boots much." She wiggled her feet, then looked up at the crow shyly. "What's it like, the unthinkable?"
Melchior shifted to stand directly in front of Melody, and she saw herself reflected in his two soul-hungry gems. The bird's eyes ate, rather than reflected light. Melody found herself spiralling into twin abysses and deep, deep within she saw two visions of herself, one in each jewelled eye.
"Melody!" screamed one of them, in a hollow, broken voice, devoid of all delight. "Please don't do it. It's not worth it. Please!"
"Is that me?" whispered Melody. She barely recognised her own voice, no longer the tinkling of brooks but the gurgling of stagnant swamp water, but she knew the answer was yes. She felt the wings on her back shrivel, their glitterdust clumping into sticky, heavy discharge. Her bones were filled with lead, heavy and poisonous. She was a bag of blood and sick and hate. She leaked cancer and she spewed bile. She was imprisoned by crowdark, with only a single porthole to the outside world. Outside she could see herself, still in the sunlight, still surrounded by the thousand rainbows of the Quad, a look of abject horror on her face. "Melody!" she screamed, hammering at the faceted window. "Listen!"
But Melody-outside had already looked away, toward the crow's other eye, toward the other future.
Melody blinked, and found herself back within herself, sitting in the Quad, the term paper once again crushed in her white-knuckled fist. She was shaking all over, the warmth of the day not even close to thawing the chill she felt. She drew her skirt over her knees, hugged her legs close to her, and just rocked for a few moments. Melchior watched over her, a dark and sombre guardian.
Eventually she unwrapped herself from herself and sat calmly on the step. "Thank you, Melchior," she said, "for being honest."
"Caw," said Melchior. Sure.
"I've made up my mind. If there's a chance of something better, I have to take it. And you'll take care of things..of me...if it goes wrong?"
Melchior gave a single nod
"Well, then." Melody stood on the steps of the Quad, in the center of the great school she'd once felt so lucky to have been accepted into, surrounded by colleagues and teachers and people she'd never even met. She did the unthinkable thing. She lifted her arms and eyes to the great dome above her and sang the word that would unmake her.
Silence followed. It had to.
The translucent dome opened slowly, its segments separating like an orange flower at dawn, uncovering the sky. Something that once shone with bright eternity, but was now a dusky mix of risk, uncertainty and power, blossomed from it, released at last from its glass cage. Born anew, it sped into the unknown, followed a breath-width away by the beat of black wings.
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 00:32|
|# ? Nov 30, 2021 19:21|
A Forest Trial
In a sunlit grove a judge piled kindling onto smoldering coals in a stone ring set in a central glade. Behind the judge sat a smooth granite boulder, bound to which the accused thrashed as smoke spun around him. In the shade of the trees sat the townsfolk upon petrified stumps and logs.
The judge pushed an iron rod into the coals, stoaking them until the sticks lit; he cleared the smoke from his throat, "This territory has not seen a murder in generations. Yesterday Johnathan Youngelm was found stabbed to death." The community's eyes fell on the bound man. "The victim's father alleges Elijah Hilloak killed his son over the matter of a debt owed. I invoke any family to submit testimony to the courtfire."
From a pew near the fire stood a woman in fine dress. She place a heavy log into the pit, "Dear friends, and neighbors, the accusations against a member of my family are preposterous. We Hilloak are founders of this town. We set these stones, and to have our own bound to one is an effacement to all families of this community. Elijah Hilloak was obviously defending himself from an unrooted monster, and killed him before he himself could be murdered." She took the iron, and pushed the log deeper into the coals. "Thank you."
The trees of the forest swayed and creaked. A branch fell from a spindly elm at the edge of the north clearing. An elderly man stooped, and cradled the branch, crying tears onto it. All bowed their heads as he brought it to the fire, and settled it upon the flames.
The log burned, and split. Wisps of smoke poured from the cracks. The old man wiped his eyes on his sleeve, "While some of you can trace your planting back generations, I planted my own family tree. Our roots do not run as deep as the Hilloak's in this community. We have few branches. My son did not deserve to have this life ended unnaturally, and," the man coughed as the smoke grew dense. The man sobbed, but managed to say, "My son has decided to give his own testimony."
Gasps came from the crowd. Thick smoke spun into the image of a young man. The accused shouted from his rock, "This is a lie, it's outrageous. He attacked me! Now he's going to attempt again from his next life."
"Quiet," the judge said. To give testimony in the courtfire, to burn ones own branch from a family tree was to give up ones next life in the grove. The judge turned to the fire. "What peace do you have to say?"
The smoke's voice was a whisper, "Thanks be to my father and kin. Yesterday Elijah Hilloak invited me to his house. Our meeting began cordially enough, but soon he demanded additional payment for a debt we had settled. We argued. He drew a knife. I did not believe him to be serious, and I laughed." The smoke wavered from a soft breeze. When it reformed red light shone from gashes in the form's abdomen. The spirit pointed to the accused, and with a voice that crackled along with the fire, "Elijah Hilloak extinguished that life, and I burn now, before you all, so the truth may be known." With a pop the branch fell apart to ash, and the smoke blew away through the forest leaves.
Shouts from the Hilloak clan broke the silence of the crowd. "Lies!" they screamed, "Deception!" The well dress woman stood again, "Cut Elijah down now! This has gone on long enough. This community cannot trust the word of saplings!" The rabble-rousers moved to free the accused.
The massive log the woman had added exploded in the courtfire ring, throwing flames high into the tree canopy. The townsfolk recoiled from the brightness and heat. The Hilloaks retreated from the boulder. When they looked back the enormous flames bent and flickered into an aged face and spoke, "When I planted it I did not believe my family tree would be poisoned by defilers from my own blood." The stones shook to her words. "A sick branch can be pruned, but you, my kin, would be satisfied to defend the darkness that has been done. My Oak on the Hill is rotten to it's heartwood." The fire spun, and twisted itself around the granite boulder, cremating the man bound to it. "Oh dear town, you must fell my tree before the illness spreads to yours." The flames flickered, and died leaving the congregation under the shadows of the grove once again.
The people sat, some in stunned silence, while others cried. The sentence to fell a family tree had not been given in centuries. The judge's voice rose up, "Justice has been determined. Each family please chose your representative to meet here at sunrise. Bring an axe." He turned to the Hilloaks, "Collect what acorns that have dropped that your children may sow a future for themselves."
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 01:01|
No Take Backs
Harry and Tracy had been trying for a long time.
They used to get upset when other couples talked about how long they had been trying to get pregnant to then reveal they’d only been at it for a year or two. That phase was long past. Now Harry would just give a bitter laugh, welcoming two more travelers on the endless, hopeless road.
Over the years, Harry and Tracy had tried everything. As long as it didn’t seem actively harmful to Tracy’s body, she would do it. At first each new procedure or treatment or medicine would be preceded by a period of getting themselves emotionally ready to try again, and succeeded by weeks of gloom when it failed. Again, that phase was gone. Now they just automatically tried whatever new thing they stumbled on, checking off lists with a cold, clinical detachment like scientists running a study.
So, when Harry found the Reddit post with a new ‘One Crazy Trick to Get the Baby You’ve Dreamed Of’, he gave it a serious read through despite it having been downvoted almost into oblivion.
The ‘crazy trick’ was simple, if legitimately insane, and besides, Harry figured a nice trip to Europe would be good for both of them. So, he explained the process to Tracy, who did not laugh a single time during the discussion. They both agreed, and the process began.
First, they ordered a hyper-realistic newborn doll from a specialty retailer (at the recommendation of the Redditor, they used reborns.com for this). With the fake baby in tow, the two took a trip to Europe. Every day they would travel to a different ancient forest or anywhere faeries were supposed to gather. While hiking out in the old hills under the old trees they would talk loudly about how beautiful and strong their little girl was going to grow up to be. When they camped, they would spread out maps of their hometown and discuss the specific location of their house. The whole time they made sure to act as though the reborn doll was a real child.
The whole thing would have had most other couples in stitches of laughter, but Harry and Tracy treated it as seriously as any of the other dozens of remedies they had tried. When they returned home, they continued to treat the reborn doll as a child while they watched, and waited.
Then, a month or so after their trip to Europe, it happened. In the middle of the night they were awoken by the crying of an infant from the crib in their room. Rushing over, they found the reborn doll replaced with a living, breathing baby with stunning blue eyes. Though shock and delight froze them for a moment, they quickly remembered that time was of the essence to seal the deal. Immediately they called up a practicing local druid and had him rush over.
Together with the druid they quickly placed protections around their house. Iron, mainly, and various herbs they didn’t recognize. Then they went inside and cradled their new baby girl into their arms and cried for joy.
The first few weeks were rough. With the help of the druid they fed their new daughter minute iron shavings every day to immunize her. At first she would scream and vomit, but over time she started to tolerate the presence of the metal.
Difficulty came from outside as well. Every night those first few weeks the fae, enraged by the trick, would try to find a hole in the defenses around the house. The druid was a constant companion to the couple, keeping them fitted out with protective charms and spells. After a few months passed by, the fae attacks subsided, and Harry and Tracy could finally relax and enjoy raising their little miracle girl.
Everything was a beautiful dream until her teenage years. Her imperious, entitled attitude that had made her an intriguing and precocious child, became insufferable. She was intelligent and observant, and treated her parents more like subjects than caretakers. When they fought, she always knew exactly what to say to break them down and make them rage. Then she would twist her mouth in a mocking smile of victory, her blue eyes icy.
One night it was just too much. She wanted to go to a party, but Harry and Tracy had always strictly forbidden her from being out at night. During the ensuing argument she had thrown all the worst things at them, all the most hurtful words. Unable to stand it anymore, Harry had let her go. And then she smiled that victorious little smile of hers and slipped out into the night.
The next day, when Harry and Tracy came down to breakfast, they found their daughter crumpled on a stool at the kitchen bar, face-down, head on her arms. Her hood was covering her face. Thinking she was just sleeping off a drunken night, Harry went to rouse her.
What arose from the bar stool was not their daughter. As the hood fell back, it revealed the tiny plastic head of the reborn doll they had bought all those years ago. It reached out flimsy plastic arms, head flopping back and forth as it spoke, plastic lips immobile.
“Mo-meeeeee, da-deeeee,” it moaned, stumbling toward them.
Harry shoved it aside and took out his phone.
“Call the druid! I’m booking us a flight to Europe!” he told Tracy. He ignored the plastic thing, which cowered and gibbered in the corner. Just like the night they had traded for their daughter, they had to act fast.
It would be too much hassle to get iron weapons onto the plane, so they’d have to find some at their destination. Harry wasn’t much of a fighter, but for his perfect, miracle girl he’d become one.
He was about to go full Taken on some faeries.
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 02:04|
A Chance in Heaven
flerp fucked around with this message at 01:48 on Oct 11, 2019
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 02:19|
Henry Tavit tore out his own brain. That’s an abstraction, but abstraction is everything.
Look, let’s talk about computers. In 2006, a single bit flip in a Toyota Camry glued the accelerator pedal to the floor and took the car into a tree, killing the passenger instantly. The onboard computer between the pedal and the engine had over 10,000,000 lines of code. I bet you didn’t even know there was a computer there, cars are barely mechanical any more—they haven’t been for decades. It took three years to find the bug, and it was one solitary bit flip: 0 → 1, and a car goes into a tree.
Bookout v Toyota Motor Company took eight years. Toyota was found guilty of negligence, ordered to pay three million dollars: eighteen hours of their global profit, and significantly less than the cost of a Camry recall. The ‘05 Camry is still on the market. It’s a popular car; you probably pass at least one every day on the way to work, and every single one has—lurking somewhere in a gnarled grey matter of its codebase—the bug that killed Barbara Schwarz. This really happened. If you don’t believe me, ask your phone.
I don’t want to go into the details of how a Trimplant works so here’s the short version. There are about forty million lines of code in a chip the size of a grain of rice. It perches on the occipital lobe. You turn it on, and you trip balls.
The problem is, it’s always on. It’s not always active, but the difference killed Henry Tavit. When it’s on, it’s still processing data. The human brain is electric: neurons are pushed along their routes by tiny charges of bioelectricity. They factored it into the design, of course: the Trimplant leeches tiny microelectric charges to keep itself running, never more than it needs. Over the nine months, its spiderweb wiring dug into Henry’s occipital meat, and the electricity changed it. Piece by piece, in imperceptible fragments until—nine months after implantation, while he was in his apartment kitchen, knife in hand—a 0 turned into a 1.
The Trimplant was not poorly-designed. It was a marvel. The engineers knew the risks of putting hardware into a human brain, and they spared no expense in development. It hurts to say, because we want villains in these things, but the team who made the Trimplant were highly competent. They accounted for almost everything but they—like the engineers at Toyota, like the engineers who run our power grid, like every engineer for the last hundred years—weren’t gods. They didn’t think it would be a problem. Nobody worries about drowning in a stream but given enough time, streams will carve canyons from bedrock. The almost-imperceptible flow of bioelectricity took nine months, but it changed a 0 into a 1.
Standing in his kitchen at 3AM—half-sober, half-awake, making himself a grilled cheese—Henry started to trip. You ever had a New Certainty? Sometimes, when it leads us into the light, we call it an epiphany. Sometimes though, you wake up with red-eyed demons standing around your bed and your chest so tight it’s about to break open and disgorge your guts and you go oh, okay, I guess this is my reality now. Henry had the second type. He realised—as the drip-drip of water opened up a critical weakness and the ocean rushed in—that his house was alive, and hateful. He was in its belly, being slowly digested. The walls moved in and out, the rough timpani of a monstrous heart.
Henry was a clever man. On some level, he knew what was happening. On another level, a dark wave crashed down on him. The cameras in his home caught almost nothing: just a twitch, and a stillness. He stood in his underwear with his knife halfway into a block of cheese, almost comical. His two halves fought in silence. Then, without speaking, he smashed his head against the kitchen window. Once, twice, cracks spiderwebbing out like a cruel echo of the wiring in his brain. Three times, and he opened up a hole. He gulped at the cool autumn air like a fish on the dock, opened up gashes on his chin, his cheeks. Sliced open the soft cartilage of his nose. His expression remained fixed: dead-eyed, staring into the distance.
Whatever part of him stayed cogent kicked in. It knew what was happening. It could stop it, or die. It had a kitchen knife, and very little time. Henry Tavit died performing neurosurgery on himself at 3AM, in his kitchen, with a model of the human brain open on his laptop. He opened a slit on the back of his neck—close, to access the occipital lobe, but inches-as-miles from where it needed to be—and struck his spinal column with the blade. Collapsed to the floor, gasping, no feeling below the neck. He broke his neck when he fell, and blood flowed into his airway and lungs. The dishwasher grumbled, as though the whole house were laughing. Henry Tavit died on his kitchen floor, surrounded by demons.
The Trimplant is still on the market. The next bit-flip might happen to a surgeon, or a pilot, or a president. A recall of installed units is almost impossible, and a recall of units on shelves is costly enough that the accountancy department quietly nodded to themselves and made the company forget. The court case is ongoing. The story appeared on newsfeeds as a suicide. It didn’t last a day before the tide carried it away.
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 02:26|
Your First Goodbye
Mike Williams stormed out of the house, his mother hot on his heels, and yelled, “I’m going to go see Grandma!”
They had just gotten back from Grandma’s funeral, an affair that was almost as exciting as the woman. A traveling carnival had shown up to honor her, and a trio of older gentlemen had gotten into a fist-fight over who could be called her lover.
“Don’t you dare,” his mother said, chasing after him. “You can only do it once, and you need to wait until you are older.”
He ran faster, his mother cursed her heels and ran after him. Mike got to the veranda first.
“I’m thirteen. I’m old enough to make my own decisions, and I want to see my Grandma!”
Mike closed his eyes, thought of the family reunion, and vanished.
Mike opened his eyes, and he was back at the veranda. People wearing 50’s style dresses and suits turned and raised their glasses in greeting. There was an open-lawn party, with so many fancy tables displayed across the lawn that Mike nearly went dizzy.
The Williams family reunion was a unique experience. The champagne never stopped flowing, and the band never stopped playing. But what made it unique, were the time travellers.
A niece had decided to travel back in time to the reunion to meet her ancestors. When she popped up by the veranda and introductions were made, they decided it would make an excellent family tradition if every relative, past, present, and future, dropped by. The niece was confused since the tradition already existed in her time. Everyone involved decided it was best not to think too hard on the details and drink more champagne.
A thin man, standing by a large chalkboard, called out to Mike. “Welcome to the reunion. May I ask your name and generation?”
“I’m Mike, eighth generation. I’m looking for my gran- Melanie?”
The thin man turned towards the chalkboard, which depicted the drawing of a gigantic tree. He tracked a red line that started at the roots and went further up onto the tree and onto the branches and leaves. Mike saw his mother’s name on one of the leaves and tried to look further on.
“No peeking,” the man said, wagging a finger. “Your table is this way. Mel from the sixth generation just ported in a few hours ago. She’s at the very same table.”
They weaved through tables of laughing family members, through the past, present, and future. At the table sat a young woman, surrounded by family, all listening intently at her story.
“It wasn’t my fault it burned down! I told them, you let someone be whom they need to be, and I certainly didn’t need to a juggler - I had never juggled in my life!”
Mike recognized her from one of the photos at the service; it was taken days before she had left on her notorious circus adventure. He sat at the table, the guests giving him small pleasantries. He didn’t say anything until the women turned to him.
“I’m Mel, and you are?”
It was her smile that changed him. He didn’t need to be the stoic grandson. Nor did he need to be the angry young troublemaker. No, right now he needed to be a thirteen-year-old that just wanted to mourn.
“I missed you, Grandma!” Mike blurted out, and tears started to stream down his face.
The other relatives around the table laughed, and Mel’s face went bright red.
“Well, I suppose I won’t remain single forever,” Mel said.
Mike tried to say more, but she wagged a finger at him. “No peeking remember! We don’t peek into the future. We don’t change the past.”
Tears continued to stream down his face, and Mel got off from her chair and awkwardly hugged him.
“There, there. How was that hug, did it make all your troubles go away?”
“It was, uh, okay.” Mike sniffled, stopping the tears.
“Guess I’ll have time to improve my hugs.” Mel snapped her fingers, a wry smile on her face. “I bet you never saw your Grandmother dance!”
She put her glass of champagne down and strode out to the dance floor. She waited for Mike with a twinkle in her eye.
“Come on,” she goaded Mike. “Dancing makes all your troubles go away!”
Mike took his grandmother’s hand and joined her in the dancing crowd.
The party continued well past Mike’s bedtime, but the band never stopped playing. Neither did Mel stop dancing, who boogied and rocked till the moon rose up into the sky. Various other family relatives showed up, a father from the thirtieth century was a particular delight, but Mike always stayed neared Mel.
All things end though; Mike learned this today. The song’s slowed down, the party dwindled and relatives retired to their current timelines. There were a few family members left, some of them making idle conversation, some of them passed out on the grass.
Mel said, “It’s time for you to go home, Mike.”
He wanted to cry, and so he did. Nobody glared at him when the tears came, and nobody shushed him when he wailed. Mel hugged him and let him be what he needed to be, a thirteen-year-old mourning his grandma.
“Think of this as a special moment. My first goodbye, and your final goodbye,” Mel said.
A gasp escaped from Mike’s mouth. “No peeking!”
“What, you’re wearing black, cried when you saw me. It’s pretty obvious. I do hope I at least die stylishly, surrounded by men.”
Mike decided not to tell her about the fight that broke out at her funeral. Instead, he hugged her as fiercely as he could.
Mel whispered in his ear, “Goodbye, Mike. I look forward to seeing you again.”
He closed his eyes, concentrating on remembering this moment. Then he thought of home, but before he jumped back into his time, he said.
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 02:36|
A strong, calloused hand gripped my leatherbound handle and my knight unsheathed me into the blinding sunlight with thrilling speed. My steel sang and I barely held back a shiver of pleasure as I bit through the humid air. I collided with a dirty sword, sparks flying everywhere as I severed that bitch in twain. With a masterful twirl, my hot knight slid me forward and docked me into a scared little soldier boy. He was so warm and inviting, I couldn’t hold it in anymore. “gently caress yea big daddy, shove me in again, don’t stop!” I moaned, really digging his moves.
My sexy beast of a knight stopped and looked at me, baffled. In that moment of distraction he was cut down and I tumbled to the ground.
“You’re probably wondering to yourself, ‘What kind of noise is that? What the hell is going on?’ Well first off, rude. I’ve practiced that noise forever and it’s rad. Second, if you’re expecting an exposition dump, you better back the-”
A booted foot caught the tip of my blade as it ran past and left a few toes behind as a souvenir. The knight went down screaming. I shivered pleasurably as that sweet human juice got my own juices going.
Later, after I composed myself, I focused my attention back to the bottom half of the human I bisected. “Sorry for the interruption,” I resumed. “Listen man, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. In Magic Sword School I was always taught that if I were to be myself, one day some Noble Warrior - I capitalized that if you didn’t catch my inflection - will be drawn to my power and we’ll be a famous duo!
“Well, it’s all bullshit. The first dude who found me was closely inspecting my sweet blade when he tripped and he took me in the mouth. Like all of me. Down to the hilt. loving gnarly.
“I really thought I had something with this second guy. I apparently distracted him by speaking for the first time and now he’s all full of holes,” I said.
Moments passed in silence as I stared at the human legs.
“You’re a good listener. I know we’ll be long friends.”
~One hour later~
“I HATE YOU, YOU HEADLESS MEAT MUPPET! I hope when you’re in hell they put you with people who chew with their mouths open and with people whose superpower is swamp rear end!”
~One more hour later~
Footsteps! “Please help me stranger! I’ve been stuck here for at least seven thousand hundred years!” I shouted. They paused for a long moment, as if deciding if it was safe, then finally made their way in my direction.
A young boy knelt near what was obviously a dead dude. “Are you badly injured? Can you walk?”
“No, I’m not injured. I’m a sword though, so I don’t have any legs. Yet.” I looked at my ex-best friend with scorn. “Your sister is a whore,” I rasped at him.
The boy swung his gaze in my direction and frowned, the grime on his face making him look much uglier than he was. Probably.
“Over here my dude,” I said.
The boy moved his lips as if to say something, paused and then said, “You’re a sword? He crouched down right next to me. “And you can talk?”
“I’m actually the sword to your left,” I said, “and yes! I can talk. I’m a magic sword.”
He reached forward to pick me up, then pulled back right before. “Magic? What kind of magic?”
“I do real cool poo poo, kid! Like Hero stuff. I bet I can probably make the pubes on your face into a real beard.”
The kid lifted me up and his eyes went wide with surprise when my magic exploded through his body. “Holy poo poo, you’re a magic sword!” He grinned. “Every magic sword needs a name.”
“I actually already have a name. It’s Steve.”
The boy looked at me incredulously. “That’s a dumb name for a sword!”
“What about ‘Four Horsemen’ or ‘ Excalibur’?” He asked, deep off in his own world.
“The Fuckbringer! Perfect!” he said. Then turned to go and went absolutely still. “Oh poo poo, oh poo poo…” he chanted in a terrified whisper.
I looked at the large group of armed men with horse drawn carts making their way toward us. “What are they?”
“I’m dead. They kill scavengers like me,” he said.
I looked again. “What? Those bitches? There’s like no more than three bitches there.”
The boy looked sharply at me. “You can’t count? What kind of magic sword are you?”
I felt the coming battle and my naked steel hardened. “I’m the type of magic sword who doesn’t need loving numbers. We can take them as long as you trust in me.”
The boy opened his mouth to protest, but I cut him off.
“Today, you are no longer a boy,” I said. Magic throbbed from me into his body and a two foot beard sprung from his face. His arms, chest, and balls were covered with a thick impenetrable forest of hair and his muscles swelled as if his sole purpose in life was to chop down trees all the live-long day. “What’s your name?” I asked.
“Killian,” he said, with a much deeper and richer voice. He looked down noticed his massive erection.
“You feel that Killian? That a bit of me inside of you. We’re gonna gently caress those guys until no one can walk.” I pulsed more magic into Killian and his eyes focused on the men with a bloodlust. “It’s gonna be a bukkake of blood, I can feel it in my stones. You ready for this Killian?”
In response, Killian roared and charged the group of knights with the speed of a racing horse.
I tested out my new name in a battlecry, “I AM THE FUCKBRINGER!”
It’s growing on me.
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 03:06|
Find Out What You're Made Of
Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 13:01 on Dec 29, 2019
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 03:15|
By my count, so far everyone on team fanta-slayers has submitted save for Crabrock. Sci-Fighters are still waiting for Anomalous Amalgam, Hawklad, Maugrim, Mr. Steak, and our blood queen to show up.
I will be closing submissions promptly at midnight. That's 45 minutes.
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 03:16|
Reservator Choi paces the circumference of the arboretum dome, waiting for the Decantor to return. Beyond the glass, the sun is a flat red circle that glares down into the habitat, painting the foliage with blood.
Choi completes her third circumnavigation of the small forest, finds Decantor Karim at the airlock, temporarily confined to a wheelchair.
“They let you loose without a nurse?” Choi says with forced humor. “Either you escaped, or the procedure went well.”
Decantor Karim runs a hand down his craggy jaw. “It went well in the sense that no lasting harm was done,” he says, “but—” his eyes meet Choi’s, allowing his regret speak for itself.
Choi can’t stand that regret. She wants to rip it out of him like a worm from the soil, crush it under her heel, then send the old man back to the integration lab for a do-over.
“You could try again,” she says, cool and even. “Others needed multiple attempts before they acclimated. You—”
“No,” Karim says, his voice soft, irrefutable. “My mind won’t accept a simulated world. Not even at the insistence of my very persuasive Reservator.”
“I apologize. I’m sure the Decantor knows his own mind better than I do,” Choi says in a brittle, formal tone.
Karim looks at her with grave approval. “Indeed. But—as we have less time together than we hoped, I think it prudent that we advance the transfer schedule. Let’s say, two sessions per day?”
Choi smiles in spite of herself, in spite of the thing inside her that has cracked into a thousand jagged shards.
“Yeah,” she says, “I think that would be very prudent.
The next day finds Reservator Choi and Decantor Karim at their customary place: the ancient stone bench beneath the hunched plum tree. The sky above the arboretum dome is darker than before, pregnant with the smoke of a dozen nearby wildfires.
“I can’t believe there’s anything left to burn out there,” Choi says. “I wonder if this’ll force them to delay today’s launches.”
“It won’t,” Karim says, “because we can’t afford further delays.”
’We’, Choi thinks ruefully. Spoken like the old man were joining her in the exodus.
As if to underscore the conversation, a colonist transport lumbers into the smoke-stained sky, bound for one of the colony ships in orbit. Its passengers are invariably of two demographics: young, healthy individuals suited for the rigors of space travel—like Choi—and the digitized remains of the infirm and elderly, their minds preserved within an idyllic simulated Earth.
Choi grits her teeth, refocuses her attention on affixing the neural transfer apparatus to the Decantor’s head. He closes his eyes under her ministrations, humming softly to himself.
Once Decantor and Reservator are linked, Karim says, “Mmm, now, where did we leave off?”
“The memories of Decantor Ramamurthy. June of 2053, Croatia, Plitvice Lakes National Park. Recollections of Mist From a Waterfall,” Choi recites without hesitation.
“Oh, yes,” Karim exhales, and the memory begins to flow.
Choi makes an empty vessel of her mind, allowing Karim to fill her with memories of turquoise waters, the heady scent of wild forest, the cool prickle of mist brushing her cheek. The memories are no less real for being transferred across three generations; Choi exists, for a time, within the green ghost of a world long dead.
When she returns to herself she is crying onto Karim’s shoulder, clenched tightly within a longing for that which she’s never seen.
Decantor Karim is dying.
It’s two weeks before Choi is due to join the rest of humanity aboard the colony ships, and the old man has developed a vicious, bloody cough. The rest of the memory transfers are done bedside, in the increasingly understaffed hospital dome.
“I know you don’t want to mourn me,” Karim tells Choi, “but understand—I’m happy. Happy that Earth will be my final resting place.”
“You’re wrong,” Choi says. “I’ve been mourning you ever since I came to understand you. I think I knew you’d never accept the simulation, but—” she inhales a shaky breath. “—thanks for trying anyway.”
Karim squeezes her hand, and smiles.
Eyes open, see a strange interior space, and close again.
A thought: No, no, no, no, no, what have you done?
A response: I’m sorry.
What have you done, Choi?
Mounting horror competes with profound guilt as two minds struggle for primacy inside a single brain. The shared eyes open again, and this time the interior space resolves into a narrow bunk wedged against the bulkhead of a cramped barracks. The bunk hums softly under the shared body, suffused with the distant purr of a starship engine.
A hand lifts, comes into view of the eyes: slender, youthful, feminine.
You couldn’t accept the simulation. I couldn’t leave without you. I thought I could compromise, I thought—you were already in my mind so often, maybe it would feel more like home...
Choi’s guilt swirls into Karim’s horror, the emotions churning together in a vortex that washes away what fragile boundaries remain between Decantor and Reservator. A recursive understanding develops between them—perfect, mutual comprehension that brings no comfort.
I could feel no differently.
I could act no differently.
The body rises from its bunk, lurches toward the single porthole afforded to the barracks. The abyssal black of space makes a mirror of the small window; Choi’s face hangs ghostly against the void, her youthful features contradicted by the new pall of age in her eyes.
A thought: I’ve murdered us.
A response: Yes.
What do we do?
There is a vertiginous moment where wisdom and worry swirl against each other in conflicting currents, and then—
We become something new, the mind tells itself, because that's all there is to be.
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 03:34|
Magic Use Resistance Education
Howie stood in front of the dark alleyway his parents warned him never to go down, but he was late for school. If he wasn't on time he would get a demerit, then detention, then he’d probably fail sixth grade and never get into wizarding college. Four generations of his family had applied and been rejected. He wanted to be the first wizard in his line, and he knew he needed to be the model student. He swallowed the lump in his throat and stepped in.
He’d gotten about half-way through when a sound echoed off a dumpster. “Pst!”
Howie stopped and clenched his backpack. “Is somebody there?” he asked, his voice wavering.
Instead, a large boy stepped out from behind a stack of wooden pallets, followed shortly by his friends: a kid with a crew cut and rolled up sleeves, and the other with messy hair and tattered clothes who looked like they may have just found him back there. He'd seen the other two at school before at the eighth grade lunch table.
“Hey kid, wanna try some magic?” said the big kid.
“Uh…” Howie struggled to remember the assembly they’d had in school last year. “No thank you, ‘Magic is Tragic’".
The other kids looked at each other and burst out laughing. The sloppy kid whipped out a wand and waved it in the air. A flame arced above his head and wrote out: “The Tragicians” and the boys laughed as it fizzled away.
“Nah man, but for real, don’t just feed us those BS lines you learned in school, just try some magic with us,” said the big boy. “My name’s Chez, and this here is Kid Tougho and Mops.”
Howie wiped away a drop of sweat from his brow. “I’m Howard … Howie, and I already think life is magical enough without spells!” he recited from memory.
Kid Tougho pointed at Howie’s backpack. “Then how come you got the Hat Master on your bag?”
The Hat Master was the most powerful transmutation wizard and Howie’s idol. “I don’t hate magic,” said Howie, “I just want to wait until I’m old enough, until it’s legal. My brain is still growing.”
“Yeah exactly,” said Mops. “And you need to learn early if you’re gonna be any good.” Mops stepped forward and shoved his wand into Howie’s hand. “Just try it!”
The wand buzzed like electricity in Howie’s fingers and he felt like that time he’d mistaken his dad’s coffee for hot chocolate and drank the entire mug. His heart skipped a few beats and he felt like running around the block. “Ah!” he screamed, and threw the wand on the ground.
Before it could land, Kid Tougho caught it midair with a spell and levitated it back to Mops.
Chez held his hands up like Howie was a rabid dog. “Whoa careful, you know what happens when you break a wand?”
“N...no,” stammered Howie.
“They fuckin explode!” screamed Chez. He summoned a nuclear phantasm behind Howie and Howie startled. The boys laughed. “Nah, you just gotta buy a new one, and they ain’t cheap," said Chez.
“Oh. Neat. Well, I gotta get to school though, thank you anyway.”
Kid Tough stepped in front of Howie, blocking his way. “Are we sure we can't persuade you to reconsider? You do want to go to wizard college, right?”
Howie’s eyes grew larger liked they’d been transformed by the Hat Master himself. His bottom lip started quivering. “No thank you?”
“Stop, you're scaring him,” said Chez. He beckoned Kid Tougho to stand aside with a flick of his eyes, and Kid Tougho stepped back.
“Look, we’re sick and tired of all these adults telling us not to do magic,” said Chez. “My parents told me the same thing, meanwhile my dad’s just conjuring up beer and got the lawn out mowing itself, and says I won’t use it responsibly? So we’ve been learning in secret before school. Nothing bad has happened, and Mops is even getting pretty good.”
Kid Tougho nodded. “Who do you think gets into wizarding school?" Then without waiting for an answer continued: "The cheating, spoiled jerks.”
“Yup,” said Mops. “All the kids I know do magic and their parents even know. All that stuff about waiting is just to keep you from learning, they don’t want you to be a wizard.”
Chez put his arm around Howie and started walking with him to the end of the alley. “Look man, you. remind me of myself when I was a sixth grader who took a shortcut down this same alley. We want to help you with your dream, but you gotta trust us. So just think about it, ok?”
“Okay, I’ll think about it. I really do want to be a wizard.”
"Awesome," said Chez.
The four boys walked to the end of the alley, and Mops stopped.
“See ya guys tomorrow?”
“Yeah man, bye.”
Howie frowned. “Is he… actually homeless?”
The three boys laughed. Mops hit himself with the wand and was suddenly in a suit and tie, with combed hair and a pile of books in his arm.
“He goes to the private academy,” said Kid Tougho.
Mops shrugged. “I told you, all the kids I know are already doing magic, and who do you think gets into the top schools? I’ll bring an extra wand tomorrow, for Howie.”
A black car pulled up and Mops waved goodbye and got in.
How looked at his watch and saw he was going to be late. “Oh no!” he said, and the boys ran the rest of the way to the school.
Howie flopped into seat as the teacher wrote the day’s schedule up on the board.
“You’re late, Howard,” she said. Howie was about to make up an excuse when he saw the minute hand slip backwards past the 12. Chad waved through the small window in the classroom door then vanished.”
Howie relaxed. Maybe he had a shot at wizarding school after all.
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 03:52|
“You like Mecha-Dragus? Oh please, he’s so lame-sauce!” Derek proclaimed, proudly holding aloft a this plastic card of his own. “I challenge you with Destructo-Bot!” he said as he threw the card onto the table. “He has 500 attack power! Beat that!”
Penelope was startled for a second and almost dropped her hand, but she recovered quickly when she remembered the auxiliary weapon card she had been saving. She activated it from her hand onto Mecha-Dragus, boosting its attack power by 300.
Derek was aghast. He stared at the table motionlessly for several seconds, and then suddenly burst into motion, flipping the table and storming out of the classroom.
“Geez, touchy” Penelope said, collecting her cards, then gathering the cards that Derek abandoned. “One second guys,” she said to her friends before following after him.
“Derek, wait up!” she said once she found him a ways down the hallway.
“Don’t talk to me!” Derek said, but stopped walking and didn’t try to escape the confrontation.
“Hey...” Penelope said, handing Derek his deck. “Why do you love Destructo-bot so much? Don’t you know he’s a bad guy?” When Derek didn’t respond, she continued. “He kills like, a hundred people every day. On purpose!”
At that, Derek snapped “Destructo-Bot isn’t bad!” Penelope flinched a little at the sudden aggressiveness in Derek’s voice. His tone softened before he continued. “You wouldn’t understand.”
“Well,” Penelope said, glancing around. “I’m the only one here talking to you. So you better just say it anyway.”
“Destructo-Bot fights for the good of all people. Everyone just thinks he’s mean because of his scary design and how he never talks. He never kills people on purpose! Never!”
“But I saw on the news...”
“gently caress the news!” Derek exclaimed, at which Penelope’s eyes opened wide and she vicariously put a hand over her mouth, looking to see if any teachers had heard the naughty word. Derek quieted down again. “I’ve seen the videos too, obviously. But DB... he’s always just reacting to a threat. He’s only a bad guy because the good guys keep fighting him!”
Penelope had no response. She couldn’t compete with a Destructo-Bot superfan when it came to rote knowledge of his battles. She could, however, think of something to say that would calm Derek down.
“So hey, what does Destructo-Bot fight for then, like specifically?”
Derek looked up as if expecting to see bemusement in here eyes, but there was only genuine interest. He looked back down. “Kids like me...”
“You probably heard about it on the news. They love to use footage of it to make him look bad.”
“Oh, you’re talking about the... abductions, aren’t you?”
Derek shook his head. “Well, yes. But he’s not taking them! Those kids... they had nowhere else to go. Destructo-Bot took them in!”
“But how do you know that...?”
“Because my brother-” and then Derek got cut off by what sounded like a crack of thunder right over their heads, followed by a severe tremor in the ground. “Aw crap!” he said and ran directly to the nearest window. Lights were flashing randomly outside. Penelope couldn’t make out a thing. “Holy poo poo holy poo poo holy poo poo! That was totally Destructo-Bot’s laser cannon! His has a unique color!”
“Wait a second,” Penelope said. “What did you mean-” but then yet another explosion, this time close enough to shatter the window by Derek, interrupted her. “Derek!” she yelled as she ran up to his prone body. She leaned over and saw that he hadn’t been hurt badly. Just a handful of light cuts that were bleeding onto the floor and pooling in an uncomforting way.
Derek stumbled to his feet, then climbed out of the broken window with no hesitation at all. “Derek, what the f-” Penelope paused for a moment, unsure about the word she was going to say. She decided that now was an appropriate time to use the word, but by that point Derek had run out of sight towards the left. “Hey!”
Penelope waffled about touching the broken glass for several seconds, then booked it to the nearest school emergency exit. The door opened onto a ruined track field, covered in soot and flaming debris. And shadow. Derek was in the dead center, looking straight up.
“Timmy!” he was shouting. “Timmy, you came for me!”
Penelope made to step outside, but as soon as she did, she heard a creaking that forced her to cover her ears. Looking up, she saw a gigantic metal hand descending towards the grass in front of where Derek was standing.
It touched down and in the time it took for Penelope to stumble and catch herself on the wall, Derek was already enthusiastically scrambling up the digits to reach the palm.
Derek looked back at Penelope for the first time since running, and as the hand began to lift him towards the sky, he looked more content than Penelope had ever seen him.
“Bye, I guess,” she said.
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 03:59|
well well well look at the time
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 04:03|
Vice & Duty
Kara traced a finger around the rim of an empty cocktail. Alcohol didn’t have much effect on her, but she enjoyed what little intoxication it could provide. Her eyes turned towards the dance floor; a mass of writhing forms obscured by bursts of light and darkness.
Enthralled by the body rocking waves of sound that crashed into them, their movements carved out alien landscapes into a desperate abyss. Undulated ridges and curves came in and out of view as they were painted with bright luminescence destined to be consumed by shadow.
‘This is what it’s like to be human.’ She mused silently, thin fingers cradling the side of her face as she watched. A distant memory of what she once was.
She turned her eyes back to the empty glass, then towards the VIP Lounge. A single guard at the entrance, Marco and his entourage looking over the dance pit like gods.
Kara adjusted her dress, a sleek black tube that was more like an extra layer of skin and waved over the bartender. A handsomely designed server swiveled over.
Ethnically ambiguous in complexion, and a masterful physique concealed by designer clothing, the androgynous robot was fetching. Its humanity only betrayed by its torso which was on a fixed circular circuit giving it 360° access to the bar.
“How may I be of service?” the robot asked, a scripted smile on its mechanical face.
Kara slid a black card onto the bar counter. An embossed trigonal emblem wrapped in barcode reflected in the robot’s eyes.
A teal light circled its pupils in recognition, and it slid a tiny grey pill into Kara’s hand. She smiled and stuck it in her cheek. Then the bartender handed her a chip with ruby lips engraved on it.
Kara lifted her hair from the nape of her neck and slid the chip into a slot designed for it. She closed her eyes as synthetic chemicals washed over her synapses. Her eyes fluttered beneath closed lids and a lascivious smile spread across her face.
The bartender swiveled away without word and Kara crossed over towards the VIP.
The guard approached reaching to grab her arm, but she placed it on his shoulder and leaned in seductively. One leg raised from its seated heel, the other girlishly lifted at her side, she extended her index finger into a point and plunged it into the guards ear, a crack audible only to her sounded out from his skull as it passed through the protective plating into his brain.
He collapsed towards the corner and Kara guided him into a seat. The timer started.
Like a predator lurking in the night, Kara’s eyes were the first thing Marco noticed and he was enticed. Her pheromone chip was doing its job before she even emerged from the darkness.
Her entrance was short of divine. Immaculately painted nails were on display in laced stiletto heels. Her slender feet held shapely legs. Soft rounded calves led to voluptuous thighs which retreated into a too thin waist. A supple bosom threatened the fabric that held it.
Her idealized physicality, captivating as it was, paled in comparison to her flawless face. Stylized umber ribbons curled down from her scalp into perfectly placed strands. Almond shaped amber eyes dressed in smoke shined like precious gems. Delicately colored cheeks housed plump crimson lips.
Marco’s specific genetic markers were targeted by the pheromones pumping through Kara’s artificial pores, and she had his full attention, but he was not alone in his awe. His entire entourage looked on in mixed expressions that ranged from confused to enamored.
Kara met their gazes with cool indifference and leaned against the ledge that overlooked the dance floor.
Marco crossed over to her, and seized up her hands gently, but with deliberate intent.
“I have to know you.” He said, enraptured by Kara’s presence.
She leaned in grazing her lips along his neck as she raised them to his ear, “Not here.” She said, demanding privacy.
His eyes searched her perfect face, and he looked back towards his entourage having forgotten about them in his rising lust.
He waved over a yes man, a suited thug, and whispered something in his ear before leading Kara toward an elevator. A dismissive hand wave signaled his farewell to the now annoyed group.
Kara’s audio receptors picked up curious chatter from below, “Hey, you alright?” someone asked of her first victim. Normal ears wouldn’t have heard that in this cacophony, but Kara was far from normal.
Marco scanned his palm and the elevator began its ascent. Kara knew time was running out, so she fished the pill from her cheek with her tongue. Mouth kept dry until this moment, artificial salivary glands secreted a facsimile of saliva, and she pushed her tongue, and the pill into his mouth.
He let himself be taken by her passion and found himself ecstatic. The feeling would be short lived as the pill burst releasing tens of thousands of minuscule mite-like machines that were sluiced down his esophagus in the exchange of fluid.
Their lips separated and he coughed. Scratching turned to searing pain as the machines burrowed into his blood vessels. Eyes blood shot, veins blue and pronounced along his skin, he staggered backwards out of the opening elevator and died. Blood oozing from every orifice on his head.
The executives at Sect had wanted him dead in this manner. Destroyed by his weakness and hubris, he was an example to all the other low-level pushers they had in their employ.
The fabric of Kara’s dress distended into a blanket that swaddled her body, and in moments, new flesh and clothing took its place. Machines invisible to the naked eye moved the raw material into place.
An old man now occupied the space she once did. He turned towards Marco, a teal light tracing the pupils of his eyes as he did, then fixed his emotionless face into an expression of terror and shouted for help.
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 04:15|
Long before the ice ran out Myla could see the Tower. A silver needle rising from the South Pole to pierce the broiling ochre clouds above. The lone physical connection between the Earth and the Web that ensnared it.
The rusted iron runners ground to a stop. Myla handed the captain a pocketful of wrinkled credits, stepped out onto the icepack, and nodded goodbye. Without a word he drew the sails taut and the ice barge ground away towards the northern horizon.
Her only companions now were the wind, and her purpose. Gathering her cloak about her, she walked south.
746 watched her approach through a cracked monocular. Brown hair whipped around the woman’s face, eyes downcast as each heavy step brought her closer to the base of the Tower. Something familiar there--wrinkles around the eyes, a dusting of freckles on her forehead. An old memory bubbled up (as they often do during the long watch): his sister had hair like that, the same young-old face. Before. The memory swam out of focus.
Her arms wrapped around her abdomen, as if cradling a weight. A click and buzz in his brain and his free hand moved to the frozen metal of the gun at his side. He didn't see others very often. But some came for a purpose. Another click: pregnant female, it translated for him. All births require monitoring.
Another memory: a squad of black-clad men pushing through the hab door, his mother screaming as they grabbed him, forced the capsule down his throat, his brown-haired sister pulling at them, pleading to take her instead. The slow, pinching ascent as the embryo climbed his esophagus to the back of his tongue, the searing pain as it clamped down on nerves and arteries and began to feed. And grow.
The old memories flowed freely; recent ones clouded and confused him. Sneaking out to collect rusted salvage, daring each other to go the farthest past the perimeter fence,his mother singing him to sleep to keep the aliens away--felt like only yesterday. But 746 knew had been at the Tower yesterday, watching. And a thousand yesterdays before.
The Tower hummed with energy, enough to melt the ice at its base. For the first time in her life Myla walked on solid bedrock, not icepack. Three Infected waited for her, guns drawn. One stepped forward. '746' was tattooed in black ink tattooed across his forehead.
"Please," Myla said. "It's time." She kept her eyes down.
746 opened his mouth to reply, and she couldn’t help glance up at what lie within. In place of a tongue, a black mass, writhing and twisting.
"C-card." His voice was thick, unnatural,. The others stood by, stone still. Myla had seen the Infected before, squads sweeping through scattered villages, collecting contraband, foodstuffs, and children. She knew what they were, for whom they were made to serve.
She looked down and from a pocket produced a card and passed it to 746. it was stamped with evidence of examinations, vital statistics about the mother and child, expected birth date, a smudged and grainy photo. It was not of her.
746 turned it over, scanned the data imprinted on the back. The clicking and buzzing in his brain rose in pitch, messages coming and going between his symbiont, those of his squadmates, and the alien minds above. Somewhere, a decision was made. A dull pinch at the base of where his tongue used to be, and he turned and keyed the code into the entrance portal. A door irised open, and he motioned the woman inside. A quick scan found her free of weapons. 746 ushered her into the elevator car for delivery upsky. To the Web, a thousand kilometers above.
He sat behind her. Memories of his sister again pushed at the outside of his mind, her brown hair and eyes so much like hers, together riding battered old bicycles through the collective, salvaging scrap and begging handouts. Her name scratched at his mind, but he couldn’t grab it. It had been too long. Too much had changed.
With a lurch the car moved onto the cable, then a heavy pressure on his shoulders indicated they’d begun their ascent. 746 felt like he’d done this before, but he couldn’t say when, or why, or how many times. The alien noise in his head was too much: memories flowed from him like water through open hands. He looked down at the card in his hand.
The woman’s face—so familiar. So like his sister. The name beneath: Leora. His lips wordlessly formed the name, so sweet, as sweet at the old booze he and Leora used to steal to drink behind the cantina. The symboint squirmed and slithered across his teeth, pinching him. He’d known a Leora, once. He was sure, for a moment. His brain crackled and buzzed, and the thought slid away with the rest.
Myla counted silently in her head. She thought of all that had sacrificed to get her here, but most of all she thought of that wild, brown-haired girl looking for revenge. Seven months pregnant from a bartender’s son, she’d quickly grown to become their leader. It was her audacious plan, but it required sacrifice. The others would be ready below, gathered with their makeshift mortars and bombs. Waiting for her signal.
She counted some more, then turned to Infected 746 and brought the carbon blade up into this throat, piecing skin and blood and bone and alien tissue. He whispered her name as she twisted the knife, his eyes wide and wild, then slowly fading to glass.
Myla laid him gently to the ground, then took the ball of explosive paste and the detonator from her belly and placed it between her feet. The capsule shook as its ascent accelerated.
She would give the signal. The Tower would fall.
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 04:22|
Some crits for Week 356
Here are my opinion farts on the stories I read for my amusement this evening. I realise judgement isn’t up yet and that I should probably wait until judgement is posted before posting these, but I’ve done them now so, eh.
The Tower by Hawklad
This is pretty cool but I think the shifting focus between Myla and 746 hurts it. I wasn’t sure which of the two was supposed to be the ‘main’ character and I felt like I didn’t get enough of either of them. Overall it felt too much like the prologue to a bigger story. The frozen, evil alien-controlled setting was well done though.
Magic Use Resistance Education by Crabrock
This is awful. Why are these children lurking in this alleyway waiting to pounce on unsuspecting dweebs and, erm, help them get into wizard school? And “Tougho”? Seriously? :vomit emoji:
Preservationist by Sitting Here
This is well-written as per your usual standards, but I was completely distracted from the serious tone of the piece by the thought of two people trying to share one body. Has Choi seriously put another person INSIDE HER OWN HEAD? Is she now carrying Karim around like some sort of imaginary friend that only she can hear and talk to?
I realise the ending of this piece is supposed to be poignant and beautiful but I’m afraid I was loling and wondering which one of them gets to control the arms. Lol.
The Fuckbringer by Mercedes
FUCKBRINGERRRRRRRRRR! I think this ably achieves what it set out to do. I lol’d. Please write more like this.
Your First Goodbye by Exmond
This is bad. I think it’s supposed to be a story of a young boy learning to deal with grief for the first time. But you might as well have written “his grandma died and he was sad and then he felt better” because that sentence contains the same amount of information about the relationship between these two characters as your entire story.
You waste a lot of words explaining your weird-rear end time travel mechanic (why is the party always happening? How can relatives from the past travel forward in time to “pop by”? How do they even know the party exists?) which should have instead been spent on telling us why this boy was so close to his grandmother and what her death therefore meant for him.
And the tone is way off. For example, all the “yay let’s go dancing yay!” poo poo is super twee. I thought you were trying to make me feel sad, not describe a magical fairy garden party.
Wetware by SurreptitiousMuffin
This is very good. Dang it Muffin but I have nothing to comment on.
The Unthinkable by Fumblemouse
This is also very good, but I didn’t get the ending. It seems that the crow showed her a terrible alternative future, and then she chose it anyway? I don’t get it.
Humanimals by WhoopieCat
What the actual gently caress. From the awful title to the terrible German accent to the dead mutant babies going in the dumpster to the outright horrific human-face-having cat baby who now gets to spend its horrific life behind duck-taped shut curtains, this is demented, and not in a good way. And then, “they are here now, and they are ours”? What? How does that ending have anything to do with the rest of the story?
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 09:30|
Could I get an invite link to the Thunderdome Discord?
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 10:40|
Mercedes fucked around with this message at 15:28 on Jun 3, 2019
|# ? Jun 3, 2019 14:15|
Adam Vegas vs Killer Crane
In a move that will haunt him and, quite possibly, his entire team, Adam Vegas edits after post. Killer Crane takes the round and the Fanta-slayers are in the lead.
Anomalous Amalgam vs WhoopieCat
On the one hand, we have WhoopieCat who took one look at the prompt and thought "I know giving birth to a litter of stillborn half-human monstrosities isn't possible but I really wish it was." And on the other, we have a sexy assassin with a "supple bosom." Guess which one we would more disturbing?
Flerp vs QuoProQuid
The was the first of many close, close brawls. Like, if this was real fight, it was ending with the two of you on the ground trying to push your thumbs through each others eyes. Ultimately, we found QuoProQuid's solid and inventive fairy tale was enough to have them crawl across the finish line but it was unbelievably close.
Hawklad vs Yoruichi
Hawklad shows up late, to my party, and thinks he can just waltz out on the dance floor with a story than ended where it should have began? Cool ice ships, weird baby bombs, and well-written, creepy parasites weren't enough today. Not against a competently written little thing like Yoruichi's.
Maugrim vs Crimea
Crimea wins by default. This is looking like a runaway...
Mr Steak vs Exmond
Sebmojo and I talked about this brawl for a long time. These were very evenly matched stories. And both were good! Exmond, this was very, very good. You should be proud of what you submitted. Mr Steak just... murdered that loving ending. And with it, they put a point on the board.
Nethilia vs Fleta McGurn
Remarkably, you both decided the do the whole capitalization of Important Simple Words thing. This week was full of weird similarities. Neth's wasn't perfect but Fleta's was a little too unconstrained. Ultimately, an easy decision was made.
Nikaer Drekin vs Getsuya
Nikaer Drekin, your story left me feeling slimy. There's something here, some feeling, that I can't quite wash myself of. And while I feel like I shouldn't like your story, I do. Getsuya, you had a good concept. The loving baby doll stretched out to be human sized is creepy af. I hope you stick around. You gave me more of a summary of a story than a real story but fix that and you should be golden. Drekin takes it.
Saucy_Rodent vs Mercedes
Saucy, I love you. I thought your story was hilarious. I also thought Mercedes' was grand. Both were funny. In the end, though, Sebmojo found Merc's to be just a scooch funnier one so... here we are.
Sitting Here vs Antivehicular
The old grizzled vet vs the brash kid with heavy hands. Both delivered solid stories. Both submitted excellent examples of why they are considered two of the top writers in the dome today. But, ultimately, we found one was too gentle with the ending and the other hit hard.
to be continued...
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 03:59|
Staggy vs Djeser
Djeser, you were probably hindered here by the word limit. I felt like you were having a lot of fun world-building (and I was having a lot of fun reading it). Staggy wrote something, though, that's actually haunting. Staggy, yours was maybe the most "on prompt" story of the entire week.
SurreptitiousMuffin vs Fumblemouse
One of the few, straight-up knockouts of the night. A fun little jaunt through a magic university got hay-loving-makered by the right fist of Muffin's plausible and depressing condemnation of the age of insurance.
Before I post the final results, I just want to take a moment to pay myself on the back here. Because these match-ups were about as perfect as I think they could have been.
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 04:08|
Thranguy vs Crabrock
To be 100% honest, I don't really remember the math behind how I matched people up. But I do know that, somehow, a record of 19 wins, 32 hms, 14 dms, and 3 losses over 185 entries was almost exactly equal to 14 wins, 35 hms, 4 dms, and ZERO losses over 123 entries.
this is intense huh?
Do I find the D.A.R.E program stupid and hilarious? Absolutely. Am I big fan of magic using ne'er-do-wells? 100% y'all. But how do I feel about performing Shakespeare in the face of the end of the world?
No one DMS this week. Great loving week, overall. Nethilia and Muffin take home much deserved Honorable Mentions. Killer Crane, sadly, wins his battle but loses the war.
And for our winner, ladies and gentleman, back to blood throne after exactly 2,225 days since their last victory...
Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 04:27 on Jun 4, 2019
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 04:24|
im preemptively accepting the slow-rear end brawl challenge coming my way
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 11:00|
Wow, great week everyone. I assume it was great, I haven't actually read any of the stories. But unfortunately there has been an injustice done - and to me, of all people. Not only do I get paired with some foolish lout who's only won once, they don't even show up, meaning that there is but an empty thrill of victory.
I do not enter the dome to play in the gutters. I'm basically one of the best writers in this thread, and frankly perhaps on this entire planet. Neil Gaiman doesn't have poo poo on me. I should be up against a real opponent, like Sitting_Here, and that's why I demand a Brawl.
(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 11:00|
crimea river of sitting tears brawl
hell yeah let's do this, call it two weeks from now (20 June 2359 pst) and 1450 words on CLEANING UP AFTER THE WAR
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 11:10|
also, drekin, get the fuckin lead out
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 11:11|
Thunderdome Week CCCLVII: You People Are So Dramatic
Nothing like a good war to shake things up in the 'dome. Alliances were forged, blood was spilled, and somehow in the middle of the fray I managed to crawl my way back onto the Blood Throne. And for my tenure as judge, I've decided to depart a little from the norm. Frankly, I think you all have gotten a little too complacent within the confines of this silly, newfangled "short story" business, so I'm going to take us back in time a bit. That's right, get those quill pens/typewriters out, you wannabe Sophocleses, Shakespeares, and Chekhovs, because you're going to write me some plays.
Specifically, you're going to write ten-minute plays, a form that can be both restrictive and freeing, providing plenty of exciting opportunities for storytelling if you approach it creatively. Even if you've got no interest in writing plays, this should be an interesting challenge to write stories driven mostly by dialogue. Trust me, when I took part in Thunderdome a few years back, my dialogue tended to be pretty lousy. Reading and writing plays was immensely helpful in improving, since when pretty much all you have is dialogue it's a lot easier to tell when it sucks rear end.
Okay, so here's the tricky part. Since theatre companies often don't have much of a budget to work with, your plays can't be too outlandish or excessive. You are limited to two characters, one location, and relatively minimal technical requirements (props, costumes, etc.). Oh, one more thing: I'd say we got a bit too fanciful last week, don't you think? We're keeping things more grounded, so your plays must depict something that could conceivably happen in reality. Your word limit is 1,500 words, and that includes stage directions and the like.
Request a flash rule for extra challenge, and you'll have three characters to work with instead of two, plus an extra 150 words. Deadline to sign up is Friday, June 7, Midnight EST, deadline to post is the same time on Sunday night.
That should be it. Just a tip: Keep the stage directions minimal.
Saucy_Rodent - FLASH: One of your characters is concealing a life-changing secret from the others
Fleta Mcgurn - FAILURE
Getsuya - FLASH: One of your characters must have a fit of laughter.
Anomalous Amalgam - FLASH: A bittersweet parting.
Mr. Steak - FAILURE
Thranguy - FLASH: One of your characters is hell-bent on revenge.
Nikaer Drekin fucked around with this message at 23:56 on Jun 10, 2019
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 13:30|
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 13:32|
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 13:35|
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 13:48|
My last story had all of one line of dialogue so this will be good for me.
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 14:04|
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 14:33|
One of your characters is keeping a life-changing secret from the others.
My last story had all of one line of dialogue so this will be good for me.
At some point during your play, one of the characters has a fit of laughter.
Also, as a general note, a couple people in Discord have asked about proper formatting, and I will be writing up a guide on that to post later tonight. The short version is, basically, if it's written clearly and I can tell what's supposed to be dialogue and what isn't, I'm not going to be too picky.
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 16:39|
in and give me the worst flash uve got
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 19:47|
SEBMOJO ENTERS STAGE RIGHT. HE IS CARRYING A HALF FULL BOTTLE OF WHISKEY AND A TUMBLER. HE WALKS TO THE FRONT OF THE STAGE.
EXIT SEBMOJO STAGE LEFT
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 20:24|
I'd also like a flash rule please.
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 21:04|
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 21:36|
In and flash.
|# ? Jun 4, 2019 21:40|
in and give me the worst flash uve got
Your play revolves, in some way, around a bowl of fake fruit.
I'd also like a flash rule please.
A bittersweet parting.
In and flash.
One of your characters is hell-bent on revenge.
|# ? Jun 5, 2019 01:01|
Double post, but I felt it was important to separate the info about formatting from flash rules. There's been some conversation about this in Discord, and since this is outside of our usual wheelhouse I figured I'd lay out some formatting information here.
Here's the general format I'd like to read your plays in:
* * * * *
[AT RISE: Bob and Mary stand outside, shuffling from foot to foot.]
BOB: Hell of a day out today, huh? Not a drop of rain.
[He gestures to the sky.]
MARY: I suppose so. But why was it so important for you to tell me that?
BOB [anxiously]: Uh. Ahhh. Uh.... because I'm the weatherman.
[End of play.]
* * * * *
It really doesn't have to be any more elaborate than that - feel free to ask if you have any other questions. After figuring out the word counts in other 10-minute plays, I've decided to set a 1,500 word limit. I'll edit the prompt post to reflect this. You can also take another 150 words if you decided on a flash. You can (and probably should) add a section at the top giving a brief description of your characters (age, gender, personality and appearance) and the setting, but these will be included in the word count, so keep it as quick and succinct as possible.
If you're looking for dramatic inspiration, I'd suggest checking out Edward Albee's The Zoo Story - it's a one-act, not a ten minute play, so it's quite a bit longer than what you'll be writing, but it's a good example of the balance of dialogue vs. stage directions to aim for, and Albee gets an incredible amount of dramatic mileage from just two people talking. It also features some terrific monologues in case you need an example of how talkier moments can be utilized well.
|# ? Jun 5, 2019 01:19|
|# ? Nov 30, 2021 19:21|
A crit for Yoriuchi since he bested me:
Yoriuchi destroyed Hawklad when he posted:
Florence’s heavy shipwright’s mallet was mid-swing when a child screamed in the alleyway outside the workshop. The mallet clanged off the side of the boat-frame, and Gruul glared at her with his mean orc eyes. Full-orc, he constantly reminded her. Half-blooded and clanless, Florence should be grateful to Gruul for taking her on as an apprentice.
|# ? Jun 5, 2019 02:39|