I am IN.
|# ? Jul 12, 2019 02:33|
|# ? Oct 2, 2022 19:10|
I was trying to think of a pun.... But I'mma bad writer, so just in.
Never get overzealous with a bat. They make for bad companions, but when rotting in jail, you don’t get to be picky. The bat glared at me, angry that I had won the argument, and I shrugged. With a little huff it flew out the moon-lit window, covering the cell with four shadows.
The cell door opened, and a fat man stood there wearing a cheap dollar store suit. He smelled of bad-aftershave and even worse cliches.
“You the guy that did in TD Bot?”
As I said, never get overzealous with a bat. I nodded.
“Got a job for ya, you do it and you can stay out of the slammer.”
Faced with rotting away in a cell or doing a mysterious job preceded by terrible foreshadowing what would you choose?
“I’m In,” I said
“Get your self cleaned up, you’re going back to META NOIR YORK CITY”
Exmond fucked around with this message at 03:13 on Jul 12, 2019
|# ? Jul 12, 2019 03:10|
Does this week still need judges? If yes I judge.
|# ? Jul 12, 2019 05:11|
Did I just get served? Is this what it feels like to get served?
Siddhartha Glutamate fucked around with this message at 12:19 on Jul 12, 2019
|# ? Jul 12, 2019 12:13|
Did I just get served? Is this what it feels like to get served?
punch him, he's weak like a kitten
|# ? Jul 12, 2019 13:01|
what the heck, im in
|# ? Jul 13, 2019 03:19|
sign ups are closed
|# ? Jul 13, 2019 04:12|
Death of a Character
The Dome cried for blood and I was the delivery guy. I was dragged out of my cell and thrown out onto the street with only the clothes on my back, a name and a deadline.
“Rosa Flores, Bad character gone rogue. Tonight.”
I reminded myself that It was either this or poo poo-slug farming. I looked out at the city. Flames licked at the white ivory tower, the podcast was dead and the cabal was in ruins.
Whomever she was, she wasn’t going down without a fight.
Nobody is created bad. It’s not that cut and dry. Our choices, actions and consequences thereof, make us bad. You can have the best intentions, but that ain't worth poo poo here in the Dome.
I lit my cigarette on the flames of a burning ock story, pocketed Chekov’s gun lying on the street, and strode out into the night. I knew precisely where Rosa Flores would be.
Here’s the thing. Bad characters don’t want to be bad. Quite the opposite, we have aspirations of greatness. Rosa might be cruising the sequels, looking to latch onto a main protagonist, but I figured she wanted to start over. We all do. She wanted a new beginning, so she’d go where every new character tried to begin.
I opened the doors to the hall of backstories, passing a business suit character on the way. He held onto his tragic backstory, a white orb, trying to absorb it. A man in black clutched his blue orb, a mysterious backstory, so tight that it might break.
Amid thousands of characters, each one looking for that special spark, she was easy to find. Everyone has one type of backstory, but her? She had all of the backstories. I caught up to her as she was busy trying to memorize her details.
“Once they hear this their gonna love you, Rosa! My father was a brain surgeon who gave me a pony on my fifth birthday, but tragically died when my half-sister cast a blood ritual on him, but meant to target my twin-brother who is an alien.”
“Sorry Rosa,” I said as I approached her from behind. “Dome wants you dead.”
Her back tensed and she stiffened. I was in the middle of a great line of exposition when she hurled a pink orb at me, a backstory I didn’t recognize. Good thing she was a terrible shot, the orb missed, hit the business-man from earlier and split open.
The business-man changed and I understood how she caused so much havoc in the Dome. Whatever history he had disappeared as he started to thrust his pelvis. His chest hair grew and his muscles turned rock hard and cliched.
She had gotten her hand on erotica backstories.
I dived to the floor, another pink orb barely missing me. “Erotic is too powerful Rosa! This ain’t gonna have a good ending.”
I heard her running footsteps and got up, chasing after her.
I thought an extended, and boring, chase scene was next. She had learned, I’ll give her that. I ran around the corner, only for her to slam a fist into my face. A swift kick took me down to the floor.
The beating came next. You would think that since I give out so many, I would know how to take one. She kicked me in the ribs, slammed my face, and tore at my character voice. This process repeated until we were both sure I would stay down.
“They always want blood,” she said between hard breaths. “They always want to hurt me!”
She walked over to the pink orbs of erotica backstories.
“I did nothing wrong! They hate me for something I didn’t do! It’s not my fault he created me, that he put me in those stories! I was used, I was-”
Her villainous monologue filled the scene. She never saw me pull out my gun.
The bullet got her right in the gut. I’m not a good character; It would be a slow and painful death.
“You’re an open book Rosa, predictable,” I said as she crumpled to the ground, her cache of erotica backstories rolling out of her reach.
“I’m in a book?” She asked.
“No I. Forget it.” I got up, ignoring the pain. She was too busy dying to complain when I grabbed her and stuffed her into a car.
We drove to the high walls of Thunderdome and stood atop its gates, looking down at the wasteland of poo poo.
Outside, looking like ants, several bad or abandoned characters raked through the poo poo field. Occasionally they would find diamonds, but mostly they found crap.
Bigger creatures, gigantic slugs, chased after them. Sometimes the characters would run fast enough, but many times they would be caught and eaten.
I lit a cigarette, “Keep looking, Rosa.”
One of the slugs stood still as if sleeping. From its rear orifice, a tidal wave of brown goop shot out. The people down below swarmed the goop, picking through it till one of them yelled, holding a figure buried in poo poo. The others helped excavate the figure, and soon a brand new character emerged.
“Those are our creators. We ain’t nothing but poo poo, Rosa. These slugs, they take whatever they can eat and recycle it. They produce mostly poo poo, but sometimes there are diamonds in the rough.”
She gave out a weak, wobbly laugh. “My creator is one of those things?”
“Best not to talk about him.”
Her face was pale now, in a few more minutes Rosa Flores, Paranormal Investigator, would be no more.
“There has to be something outside of Thunderdome, some deeper meaning,” she said.
“Only thing out there is poo poo.”
“Look past the poo poo for a deeper meaning. That would of been a good line.” She looked up at me. “I wanted to be a philosopher ya know.”
“Any last requests?”
Her eyes were dull and lifeless. But her voice was steady, determined.
“I just want them to like me,”
She looked down at the wasteland outside Thunderdome, where the poo poo-slugs were eating the remains of bad characters and ‘recycling’ them.
“Do you think I could be a diamond?”
I kept silent. Rosa walked towards the edge, never taking her eyes off of the slugs.
“My name Is Rosa Flores, Private Investigations. Discrete, professional and reasonable rates.“
And full of good intentions, she walked off the edge.
If there was any justice in this world she would have reincarnated right there. Turned into a dove and flown to the top of the white ivory towers overlooking the city.
I took a final drag of my cigarette as her body landed on the ground with a thud. I’ve said it before; good intentions mean nothing here in the Dome.
In a city where dreams come true and fairy tales are crafted, both are in short supply for the inhabitants. I dropped the remains of my cigarette on the ground and crushed it with my shoe.
Another day in the Dome. Another day survived. Another day in...
META NOIR YORK CITY
|# ? Jul 13, 2019 22:48|
FROM THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR
She walked off the edge, full of good intentions.
If there was any justice in this world she would of reincarnated right there, turned into a dove and perched on top of the white ivory towers overlooking the city.
I took a final drag on my cigarette and heard her body land on the ground. As I said before, good intentions mean nothing here in the Dome.
In a city where dreams come true and fairy tales are crafted, both were in short supply for the inhabitants. I dropped the remains of my cigarette on the ground and crushed it with my shoe.
I looked out at the wasteland, past the poo poo, looking for that deeper meaning. Maybe us bad characters had a different reason to exist. Maybe we were more than just conduits for emotions and tragedies. Maybe we-
“Umaruuuu,” a voice said. Well poo poo, we almost had some kind of an ending, probably a bad one. My skin crawled and I looked behind me.
A fat ugly slug was behind me, how it got up here I don’t know. My slug, my fat, ugly slug had found me.
It slimed its way towards me, and I took a step back onto the wall. No escape except a long fall down.
I’d like to think that good old Mrs. Flores inspired me. The slug was nearly upon me when I kicked it right in its gut, and threw it off the edge. It was easy, almost like punching a kitten.
I watched as it fell, and landed into the poo poo-fields. It rolled and bounced along the ground, squirming pathetically. It was annoying and made me a little bit nauseous, but it was a persistent slug, I’ll give it that.
I wiped the slime off of my pant leg and walked back to the car. Whatever chances we had at a meaningful ending was gone. But maybe, out there beyond the poo poo, there would be meaning.
|# ? Jul 13, 2019 22:49|
E: archived in Thunderdome archives
Doctor Zero fucked around with this message at 23:24 on Jan 1, 2020
|# ? Jul 14, 2019 11:52|
i missed a bunch of weeks but hi im here still. i *could* wait for the next prompt and sign up properly but im impatient so to write a really bad story by deadline
|# ? Jul 14, 2019 15:19|
Notes Stuffed Down the Drain
Word count: 1164
The Hammersmith manse was lodged precariously in the bubbling and groaning moor like some work of architectural spite. According to some, during one of the frequent dark ages some Jacobites had fled from cruel civilisation into the mire, and the legions of Rome had followed to enact bloody murder. Perhaps these were two separate events, but the specifics aren’t important. Man was wolf to man; of course the place was haunted.
A cottage industry of pseudo-scientific parapsychologists, alienists, warlocks, ghost hunters, sociologists, rogue seminarians and experimental mathematicians hailing from the immediately local area to as far afield as County Durham sprouted up over a period of about a decade to analyse, theorise, solve, study, condemn, consecrate, and generally obsess over the various semi-supernatural phenomena associated with the Hammersmith manse and the surrounding grounds. Rosa Flores was a member of this ad-hoc clique and began her own study into Hammersmith after her Atlantic crossing which came after her fall from grace as the one-time greatest paranormal investigator in the San Bernardino metropolitan area.
The day Rosa Flores arrived and started placing her equipment around in a seemingly arbitrary pattern, there had been a commotion in the second floor servants stairwell, tucked modestly behind the main kitchen. Some noise like shattered glass and something slopping to the floor was heard by two scullery maids, who swore it repeated seven times in intervals of eight seconds. Crash, slop. Crash, slop. The sound was perhaps something heavy and wet and organic which brought to mind for some interested parties the legendary skinless man of the attic, who at once prowled smooth and nimble, but then throwing his weight from one raw stump to the other. There was eighteen months between the first four sightings of the skinless man – the next three sightings including the last recorded one occurred within quick succession, overlapping in such a way where two witnesses standing in the attic back-to-back and facing opposite directions both claimed to see the skinless man materialise in front of them before his veins shone the most radiant purple and the skinless man vanished in the afterglow. Rosa Flores did not see any of this.
Flores did make the following recordings in her first twenty-four hours:
11:43AM – Footsteps on the third floor landing. No known occupant of the house present on that floor within three hours of noise.
17:09PM – Chains rattling. Source unknown.
19:30PM – While in conversation with Rosa Hammersmith she became distraught and claimed to have spontaneously become blind. Reported sight regained at 19:43PM.
21:27PM – On her evening walk of the grounds Matilda Hammersmith witnessed a would-be suitor emerge from the bog seemingly unaware of how close he had come to dying. Before suitor could begin his romantic diatribe he appeared to look over Matilda’s right shoulder and, screaming, ran the way he came.
02:49AM – Matilda Hammersmith wakes me to tell me that I will soon die within the house. Further inquiries are ignored.
03:11AM – The trapdoor is open.
The twice-widow and matriarch of the household was the beautiful and sociable Rosa Hammersmith who resided in the family manse with a rotating cast of servants, cooks, porters etc., Old Man Hammersmith alone in his annex, and her identical twin daughter Matilda. It was a semi-regular occurrence that a well-to-do man who had made his money in the city or a crafty man who wished to marry into wealth would take pilgrimage to the manse in order to woo, seduce, and in short order propose marriage to the two ladies. Not simultaneously, but most of the time when one woman said no the paramour would try his luck on the other. Matilda seemed to react to this state of affairs with a sense of mirth, perhaps as a coping mechanism, while Rosa, the more cynical of the pair, would dream that Ulysses would one day return and butcher these rotten perverts. This category of visitors accounted for some of the strangers seen skulking around the grounds and thresholds of the manse, but not all. When the moon was right Matilda went out in the woods wrapped in bloody bed sheets and disappeared beneath the weeping willow. Everything that was once hers smells like lilacs now.
Over seventeen days, Flores had uncovered what she considered a potential lead in her investigation which lead her to spend the majority of the day in the central spiral staircase which acted as an anchor at the heart of the house and offered access to five floors of all three wings. It appears as though Flores was working on a working hypothesis that the staircase acted as the spine of the mansion, and the outer energies were sending electrical signals from the basement to the attic like nerves. It was only on her second day at the Hammersmith manse did she begin to report her sense of disorientation and loss of balance and direction within the entire estate but particularly in the vicinity of the manse. From her surviving records we can surmise that her greatest anxiety was associated with her perceiving the trapdoor as being open.
Maybe the theories were true and it was really all because the Hammersmith manse was built upon an ancient druidic ritual site, a place where Neolithic man reached out other, deeper, more primordial minds. But what is the crime in all that so this would be their punishment? Is a lack of research and improper surveying so deserving of cosmic punishment? Or is it some ancestral misdeed that cursed the family home, a curse in the blood? But what is blood anyway? And, more pertinently, where did all of the blood in the basement come from?
It becomes impossible to verify the date and times in Rosa’s surviving records between the fortieth day of her stay at 05:46AM and the date the bodies were discovered. All that can be said is that at some point Flores began reporting the doppelgangers.
Rosa stepped into the stairwell to see herself and herself and herself and herself. A dozen or more, a great throng of figures which looked exactly like her, all making their way up, up the spiral stairs from the basement. After she had ran and wept and vomited up her humanity and went back to face the same sight, she tried for a little while to go against the crowd and try descending the stairs. The doppelgangers parted like a school of fish and gave no resistance. But it was nothing. She looked down and saw the walls go away and the lilac clouds come in from the outside and just Rosa the whole way down, spiralling endlessly. The trapdoor is open.
Rosa Flores’ body was recovered from the soaked and muck-drowned floorboards of the Hammersmith manse one-hundred days after last being seen alive. Identification was possible only through dental records. The teeth of the other bodies also matched that same record.
|# ? Jul 14, 2019 16:44|
When Mom died, I squirreled away in the musty little storage closet in the garage where she kept all her diaries, and I spent all summer reading that bullshit. I’d take a bag of mixed nuts and a big bottle of seltzer and a little book light, and I’d just read about all the vampires and ghouls and skeletons she’d vanquished. Most of it didn’t make much sense, but it didn’t have to – I just needed something to latch onto. They were supposedly going to foreclose on the house, so I wanted to hide away somewhere I wouldn’t hear the knocks, somewhere I wouldn’t have reception for the phone calls, where I could sit and read something familiar.
About a week into that routine, the itching started. I thought I’d brushed up against some kind of strange fungus at first. First it was just my wrists, but then the weltish nagging rash spread up my arms, down my back, and, after reading through everything for a fifth time, I realized it wasn’t getting any better, and I figured I’d need to go to the clinic.
Someone had left some notices on the door, and I crumpled them up into little paper balls without looking at them.
“You don’t like ska, bro?”
Julio, the next door neighbor, was watching me from a safe vantage point, a stack of fliers in his hands. I squinted at him, then opened up the notice I’d crumpled up.
“Sorry,” I said, looking at the flier for a house show. “I thought this was something different.”
“It’s cool,” he said. “Don’t see Ms. Rosa around here very much anymore. She’s all right?”
“She’s dead. They got her.”
He looked at me appraisingly. “Got her, huh?”
“They got her good medical treatment for her medical conditions.”
“Oh,” he said.
“But not good enough.”
In the little dank garage I was covering myself in two kinds of creams when, from outside, I heard the laughter and the crash, and there was Julio, pale white, two little dots on his neck, his glasses smashed in front of him.
“You don’t clean up?” I said, just in case the vampire was still alone. “You can’t leave people just around.”
No response. Didn’t think there would be – and I was still itchy. The doctor didn’t know what to prescribe, so they provided some hydrocortisone, some anti-fungal crap, and prayer.
“They got you, huh?” I said. “And not the good medical care. The transformed-into-the-undead kind of ‘got you.’”
“I suppose,” I said, “that I’m supposed to do something incredible. Destroy your decaying body, save your soul, kill the bad dudes.”
“But you won’t?”
I thought about it. Honestly, Mom was terrible at explaining how to do these kinds of things. Mostly she was interested in bad sex (thanks to the diaries, I now had my own field guide to the half-glanced nameless guys I’d seen growing up) and she tended to leave out the practical details when it came to work.
I was seized by a whole-body itch, and from the itch came a well of rage. “I will,” I said. I picked up a stick and, very carefully, I inserted it into Julio’s nostril. Then my phone rang.
“Hello,” I said.
“Hello. We’ve been trying to reach you about your car’s warranty, which is about to expire. To renew your car’s warranty now, please press one to speak to a representative.”
I pressed one. I didn’t want my car’s warranty to expire.
On my tenth read-through of the diaries, Julio started to moan again. I’d developed a very careful method of reading the diaries so I could ignore the itching. My goal was to reach the end of the sentence without noticing the itching, and I wasn’t successful very often. Behind my elbow, the scratching and the rash had coalesced into a throbbing, leaking blister. I knew I should go back to the doctor, but they’d just throw more creams at me that wouldn’t do anything, so I figured close reading would work as well as anything.
Anyway, I was trying to focus enough of my attention on the diaries to figure out what do do with Julio – the stick in the nose thing didn’t really seem to be working, based on the irregular moaning and twitching.
“I know,” I said out loud, after half-skimming her account of selling cocaine and also killing a vampire with a woodchipper. “I’ll say a prayer.”
I didn’t know many prayers, so I closed my eyes and said, “Please, let’s stop the itching, and see if we can deal with this vampire.”
“Are you talking to me, buddy?”
“No, I’m praying,” I told Julio. Then I looked at my phone, and there was a long silence.
“How’d Ms. Rosa die?” he asked.
“She was out on a hunt for ghosts, and she went into a pretzel shop. She asked the proprietor of the pretzel shop if the pretzels were haunted, and he said ‘no.’ Five days later, she was dead.”
I tossed Julio the volume of mom’s diaries I’d just finished reading. I figured that he could use some interesting reading material. He looked at the diary for a second, and then adjusted the stick in his nose. “I thought you said she had medical conditions.”
“Oh, sure. Hypothyroidism, hypertension, paranoid delusions, the works.”
“Okay. Hey, buddy? Can you help me with one thing?”
“Anything,” I said.
“Can you insert this stick further up my nose?”
I hesitated. On one hand, it was only the ethical thing to do – finish the job I’d started. What right did I have to hold this vampire on the boundary between life and death? But on the other hand, finishing this job would mean taking up Mom’s legacy, of following in her footsteps. I didn’t know if I had the skills. The talent. The balls.
“Okay,” I said, and did it anyway.
|# ? Jul 14, 2019 18:27|
The End: An Oral History
“When I was your age, we didn’t have invasive cogniforms or memetic infestations—I mean, we did, but we didn’t know it yet. Didn’t have the words for it. We got off lucky for a while, you know? Like someone without insurance who never gets sick and never breaks a bone, who doesn’t realize they have cancer until it’s metastasized. How could a meme be alive? I would’ve told you that sounded like some poo poo straight out of a creepypasta.
“Oh—creepypasta was...ah, it’s not important and they’d just wipe it from your long term memory anyway. Point is, no one worried about memes because as far as anyone knew, they were just dumb jokes spread around by a lot of people.
“In a weird way, we inadvertently protected ourselves with the sheer volume of memes. There were so many, all crowding each other out—not a good environment for a cogniform, see? Like a mosquito trying to lay its eggs in a whitewater river. They’re attracted to a dense but placid memescape, and the Internet—
“Internet. Internet, Internet, Internet. Calm down, saying its name won’t bring it back. I’m not gonna speak miles of cables and server farms into existence. Anyway, the Internet of that time was like the white-water river. poo poo moved fast and stupid, and for a while, that was enough to keep us safe.
“We don’t know a lot about the cogniform’s first victims. They were part of some obscure online community, relatively isolated from the fast-moving waters of social media—in their own placid little river slough. Do they have sloughs in those Eden domes you guys live in? Anyway, that’s where the cogniform injected its spawn, which took the form of—
"I wasn’t going to say its name. I’m not stupid.
“Holy poo poo, are you not the kid who hiked a hundred miles out to Bumfuck, Wasteland to get my account of history? You came and found me, dickweed, so maybe settle down and listen to my wizened and all-knowing rear end for two whole seconds.
“So the cogniform’s vector was some guy in this community—in the river slough. He styled himself a writer, see, but he wasn't great at it. I’ve seen screenshots—pictures of the stuff he wrote online—and, yeah, the dude was never gonna be a bestseller, especially because he kept going back to this one mediocre character. Trying to make his own sort of meme, I guess.
“He gave up writing in the end, but that’s the thing about the Internet—stuff you said stuck around, even after you stopped caring. An abandoned character left behind by a hapless writer could get plucked up, given new life, and passed around as an inside joke. Nothing wrong with that, inside jokes are one of those things that used to help people feel like a tribe. And that’s exactly what happened. The community found the character and immortalized it as an inside joke, a way to signal oneness with the group.
“What they didn’t know, couldn’t have known, is that a cogniform had oviposited a hot load of baby material into that character, who functioned as a kind of placenta. Every time those ancient online idiots referenced their joke, the placenta containing the cogniform’s spawn was copied into living human minds, where the spawn grew and thrived.
“And remember, this community was a placid slough. Their memes lasted for years, relatively static, at a time when the rest of society was making a pastime out of blinding-fast change. They had inadvertently created the perfect ecosystem for the cogniform’s spawn to flourish.
“There were estimated to be something like two hundred carriers by the time the spawn were strong enough to leave their placid little pool. They ever tell you what happens to the host when the spawn is all grown up?
“Then how the hell do they expect you to know if it’s happening again?
“Jesus Christ that’s hilariously dystopian. So, what, they just gas the whole thing and start over with people from other domes?
“Feeling pre-tty, pre-tty good about my wasteland lifestyle choice right now, not gonna lie. Yes I poop in a hole and yeah okay eating irradiated scorpions isn’t great, but at least I’m not gonna get nixed in my sleep by some jumpy government official.
“Right. Anyway. So when the spawn mature and are ready to leave the host, they start thrashing around, ripping and tearing at the person’s mind. This causes what they called cortical bleed—if you imagine the infested character as a placenta, you might be able to picture what would happen to a human mind when that membrane ruptures as the cogniform bursts free.
“In short: the host stops being able to differentiate between the character and themselves as the ‘placenta’ particles intermingle with their thoughts.
“Things really kicked off when this guy in Malaysia set up a twenty-four hour livestream of himself living out his life as though he was this character. People thought it was hilarious, and his stream viewership jumped up into the thousands—thousands of people talking about the infested character, twenty-four hours a day. You can see where this is going.
“Now that the cogniforms had a solid foothold, the whitewater river of social media worked in their favor. The whole Internet-using world lost its mind. Those who were able to quarantine themselves from knowledge of the character chose to wait out the end of the world as we knew it, and eventually built those fancy Eden domes of yours.
“Of course I would’ve done things differently. I wanted to do things differently. Thing is, not everyone is a good host for the cogniforms, see? Some people, their minds contain a property that’s inhospitable to the spawn. Like mine. I tried to tell them I could isolate this property, could synthesize a kind of vaccine, or…
“Why’d you bother coming out here, anyway? They’re just gonna cut all this info out of your memory when you go back to your dome. Or heck, they’ll probably just kill you. And then I’ll have gotten myself all depressed for no reason.
“Oh, hell. How many domes has it spread to so far?
“Those short-sighted morons. I tried to tell them there’s no such thing as a failsafe. You can isolate people, edit their memories, kill off everyone you suspect to be infested, but as long as there are communities, there will be memes. And these Eden domes—they’re just like that placid slough that got us into this mess.
“Kiddo, this is the first time I’ve thought about the vaccine in more than thirty years. I wouldn’t even know where to start. I’d need a lab, test subjects, equipment—
“You do? How far from here?
“Well, poo poo. Odds are the sun or the radiation will kill me in another couple years anyway. May as well try and save the world on my way out. But if you’re gonna be my loyal assistant, you’re gonna need to polish up your not-interrupting-the-salty-old-lady skills, you hear? Now let me pack us some pickled scorpions for the road..."
|# ? Jul 14, 2019 19:17|
Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:51 on Jan 1, 2020
|# ? Jul 14, 2019 19:30|
The Rosa Challenge
Everyone remember Rosa Flores?
She used to have a TV show called 'Extreme Ghost Lockdown'.
Well, now she's a ghost.
But she still investigates people's houses.
If you want Rosa Flores to investigate your house, go to https://www.extremeghostlockdown.com
Open the 'Investigate My House' form.
Type this into the form three times:
Rosa Flores my house has a ghost
Then Rosa Flores will come 'investigate' your house.
Pass this on to 10 friends or you'll be the next to join Rosa's ghostly camera crew!
Kate Meyers was just old enough for her first night home alone. She would have preferred to celebrate this little bit of freedom with a sleepover, but her parents didn't quite trust her enough to throw her own party without supervision, so instead she was stuck home alone as the sun went down. Still, she wanted to do something fun and daring to mark her first night alone, so she dredged up a creepypasta her friend Mary had texted her a while ago.
It was weird, thinking of Rosa Flores as a ghost. Kate's mom had actually been a big fan of Rosa's show, and Kate had seen a few episodes herself.
So, following the instructions in the post, Kate filled out the website form and gave it her real address. She had been warned about giving out her home address online, but she figured nothing bad would happen if she gave it to a website for an old TV show.
After she was done, she waited for a while. Of course, nothing happened. Kate felt a little let down. Oh well, she could always make up a freaky story to tell her friends tomorrow. It was all just a joke anyway, so it wasn't really like lying. She would just be playing along with the game.
She got ready for bed and laid down to sleep. Part of her was a little worried the late spooky story would keep her awake, but it was late and she wasn't used to staying up, so she drifted off quickly.
A noise woke her up, sometime after midnight. Looking around her room blearily, she tried to figure out what the noise was. It was sort of like static, but not exactly.
Chills ran down her spine when she recognized it. It was a sound she only really recognized from seeing the things on TV or in movies, since there wasn't one in their home. It was a tape recorder.
As soon as she recognized it, a scratchy, crackly voice joined the static noise.
"This is Rosa Flores, beginning my Extreme Ghost Lockdown. First, I'm going to try to record some EVP," the voice said. "That's 'electric voice phenomena', for those of you new to the program. I'm going to talk into this tape recorder and any spirits in the home will be able to respond. The electric tape recorder will pick up ghostly speech that is inaudible to the human ear."
Kate was frozen, with sweat like tiny icecubes soaking into her pajamas. She hardly dared to breathe as she listened.
"Is there anyone here with us? Do you have a message for us?" the voice asked.
Kate prayed this was just a dumb prank her friends were playing on her.
"Mary is that you?" she called.
Then she let out a little shriek as the crackling of the tape recorder instantly grew louder, sounding like it was coming from right over her bed. At the same time, the temperature in the room dropped until Kate could actually see her breath misting out. She froze, again. This was no prank.
"Did you guys get that? An actual response from a ghost, clear as day!" Rosa said. "Let's listen to that one more time."
There was the popping sound of tape recorder buttons being pressed, then Kate heard her own voice, distorted as if by a poor recording:
"Mary is that you?"
"The spirit seems to think we are someone it knows. Let's see if we can get it to say anything else," Rosa said, an almost hungry tinge to her voice. "Who are you? Who is Mary?"
Kate threw off the sheets and leaped out of bed. She had to get out of the house. Sprinting to the front door, she scrabbled at the lock. Then she tried the handle. No good. It clicked as if locked, even though she was sure it should be open. She tried the back door. Same thing.
Because, Kate realized, in 'Extreme Ghost Lockdown' Rosa Flores always got locked in overnight at the locations she was investigating.
The chilly air had followed her out of her room.
"That was incredible, did you guys get that on camera?" she was asking. "Ladies and gentlemen we just saw a spirit disturb the sheets of a bed and move a door. Incredible. We're seeing real, live proof that there are spirits among us."
The door to Kate's room began to swing back and forth.
"Spirit, could you come do that again? See? Like this. Just move the door one more time for our viewers," Rosa coaxed.
"I'm not a ghost!" Kate yelled. "You are! You're dead! Go away!"
"I think we got something from the spirit, but... no, I can't quite make out what it's saying," Rosa said, accompanied by a garbled mishmash of Kate's recorded voice.
Desperately, Kate dashed back into her room and grabbed her phone. She pulled up a news article about Rosa Flores dying and showed it to the room, thrusting it in various directions, unsure of where exactly Rosa's ghost was.
"See? See? You're dead! Go away!"
There was a loud click, and the static tape recorder noise vanished. Kate got up and walked out into the front entry. She didn't feel any cold spots, and the front door opened when she turned the handle. With a deep sigh of relief, she went back to bed. Her heart was still pounding, but a little smile formed on her lips. Sure it had been the scariest thing she'd ever experienced, but man did she have an amazing story for her friends tomorrow.
She was just starting to nod off again with that happy thought in her mind, when she felt the air start to chill again. There was another loud click, and the tape recorder noise was back.
"Ladies and gentlemen I don't think we're dealing with a normal spirit," Rosa Flores said. "Whatever it is, it showed me a prediction of my own death. I think we're dealing with a demon. So, I've come back with some help. We've got Father Anthony Waters, professional exorcist."
"Ready when you are, Rosa."
"We have Mr. Takanori Yoshimura, a Shinto priest who specializes in purifying evil spirits."
"Junbi ha sorotteimasu, Rosa-san."
"And we've got my good friend Carlos Rivers, a spirit psychologist who can help us better understand this crazed, evil entity."
"We'll need to be careful with this one, Rosa."
As the crowd of voices filled her room and the air temperature dropped lower and lower, Kate let out a shriek and dove under her covers, clamping her pillow down over her ears.
|# ? Jul 14, 2019 19:46|
La Película Negra
A bespectacled, but fiery-eyed old woman with thinning white curls sat impatiently bouncing a foot over a hooked leg.
She forced a smile that saw her lips nearly pressed into a line. The bulb of a large flash illuminated, and the filament flared causing an audible pop that was followed by a fading whine as the gas within reacted and settled.
Now that photo was fixed in a black & white wood pulp tribute. A single column insert that read:
Rosa Flores, Wife, Mother and Dreamer has died peacefully in her home at the age of 67. Rosa Flores was a beloved member of the Sunny Glenn community known by many for her eccentric business endeavors.
She was a kind woman who took the time to listen to those who had no voice with which to speak.
She would help those unable to help themselves.
She was loved.
The brilliant light of nine purposefully arranged candles diffused through the darkness of Rosa’s mausoleum illuminating a corridor that seemed larger than the building itself. At the center of those flames was Rosa’s interred soul. A tarry web like protrusion had begun to lay claim to it, La Película Negra.
Raul kissed his rosary and said a prayer. Eloisa’s eyes rolled like bulbs unscrewing from their sockets and sighed to draw his attention.
“Why do you do that?” she asked annoyed.
“Because unlike you sister, I still have faith.” Raul snapped back.
“I’m only here for abuela, she doesn’t deserve to be trapped here.”
Raul thought to protest, but instead nodded, acknowledging his sister’s familial olive branch.
“She made a lot of enemies on the other side while she was living. I don’t think she ever took time to worry about what that meant in death.”
“Hermano, I don’t think she ever thought she would die.” Eloisa grinned. Unspoken memories shared between the two bringing a smile to Raul’s face in turn.
Rosa’s soul kept the appearance of her human form. A body with which to draw upon the experience of suffering. Her eyes raced underneath closed lids. Her chest rose and fell with ragged breaths. It wasn’t her body, but Eloisa and Raul wouldn’t stand to see it a moment longer.
Simultaneously, they both turned towards the tormented soul that dwelled within the light of their candles and sat cross-legged opposite sides of the bound spirit.
In an act of solidarity, Eloisa and Raul reluctantly took hold of one another’s hands in preparation for something that they had not done together in many years.
Staring into each other’s eyes and holding each other’s fingertips. They whispered unintelligible sounds that echoed out softly like spun silk being woven into something new, or flowers slowly blooming under a rising sun. Rosa always said it sounded like the promise of God. Something Raul clung to, while Eloisa sought more scientific explanations for the phenomenon.
Rosa’s eyes fluttered open and she gasped, then she remembered. She had done this to herself. Bound herself here to keep something from crossing over into the mortal world.
“Foolish children, what have you done?”
“We couldn’t leave you trapped here. Abuela, what has done this to you?” Raul asked perplexed.
“Boy, she did it to herself, but you have our thanks for allowing us access to her soul.” A cacophony of voices answered.
Raul turned in a panic as an audience of specters made themselves apparent.
Rosa spoke. “Invoke the barrier of the first saint, Apollonius.”
Raul and Eloisa wasted no time and began a meticulously rehearsed ritual. Raul produced a vial of curious orange salt from his hip and poured it in a circle as Eloisa recited prayers in that forgotten, beatific tongue.
When the ends of the circle connected, the orange salt burned away leaving a white residue. An ethereal reverberation manifested in the form of a spiritual shield.
“It’s good to know that you two can still work together. I had worried, that your differences might have weakened your bonds.”
Dark spirits lurked at the borders of the barrier. Pacing impatiently leaving trailing echoes of pure malevolence in their wake.
“This won’t hold forever, Children of Rosa.”
“Grandchildren, but I get it… evil spirits. Who has time for genealogy when you’ve got souls to steal, right?” Eloisa replied.
The spirits Eloisa quipped at shifted into miasmic darkness that swirled around the barrier.
“Abuela, the demons are right. This barrier won’t hold forever. What do we do?” Raul asked.
Eloisa cut in.
“Our jobs. Rosa is dead, this is on us.” Eloisa remarked as she conjured a blade of holy light into her hands. The blade distorted air around it causing it to vibrate and hum.
Eloisa charged from the barrier, plunging the sword into the shadows. A terrible scream from too many voices sounded out before the shadow coalesced into a razor fingered arm, black talons lashed in Eloisa’s direction as she slid on one leg through the not yet completely physical bottom of the creature. The talons dredged up old mausoleum tile where they struck.
Raul began the exorcisms, as Rosa assisted from her self-induced purgatory. There were too many spirits here to deal with.
Eloisa hacked at the everchanging form of tarry shadow. As Raul and Rosa banished the demonic bits she hewed from the mass.
Raul looked at Rosa’s soul. La Película Negra had covered most of it now. Unsealing her soul had let corruption begin to take it.
The battle intensified as Raul began weaving the words into white flame that burned at the shadow. His head pounded in response to the newfound power.
Eloisa whirled through the darkness utterly eviscerating it as Raul used his spoken word to burn it away.
Panting, Eloisa fell on one leg. Her clothes were shredded in places revealing deeply bruised skin that steamed in the open air. Raul’s eyes and ears leaked rivulets of blood as his lips trembled. The angelic speak used in ways he had never imagined possible leaving him completely spent.
Rosa held onto the very last bits of “life” she had. Her soul was hardly visible now. Nearly destroyed in the battle to keep demons from using it as a gateway.
“I’m proud of you two. You didn’t have a lot of say in the life you’ve been given. You probably won’t have a lot of say in the rest of it, but I’m proud of you.”
Eloisa and Raul looked at what remained of her grandmother with sorrowful eyes.
“I’m ready.” Rosa said.
Then mustering the strength for one more exorcism, Raul and Eloisa took each other’s hands for a second time forming a circle around their grandmother’s spirit.
The three spoke in unison a sweet soporific melody, and when the last syllable escaped their lips, Rosa Flores was forever gone.
|# ? Jul 14, 2019 20:42|
"Isn't this too soon? I mean, the funeral was Thursday," I asked.
Helen put down the EVP microphone she was holding. "Rosa would have wanted us out here as soon as possible. Remember her theory about psychic fading? If her spirit is still around here, it's as strong as it'll ever be."
I shivered involuntarily at this. Casey gestured to the other end of the parlour, where yellow police tape still hung limply over a pile of smashed wood and scattered rocks. "Besides," he said wryly, "somebody put up party decorations, it would be a shame to let that go to waste." He'd been making these weak little wisecracks all day and it was driving me nuts, but Helen had pulled me aside and whispered it was probably a coping mechanism.
"EVP's ready," Helen said. "You got the temperature baseline, Marcus?"
"Just about," I answered. I shot a few more measurements with my infrared thermometer. "Everything's within a few degrees of 68F."
"Cameras are rolling… now! Rolling figuratively, I mean there's no film, we're not making The Shining 2: Shine Harder here--at least I hope not, I didn't bring my bloodproof waders."
"Great. Let's start with the basics." Helen hit record on the EVP machine. "Rosa?" she called. "Is Rosa Flores here with us tonight?"
I pointed the thermometer at the little card table in front of Helen, then at the walls behind her. No change. I was avoiding the obvious spot, the unfaded patch on the wall behind the police tape, the place that drat shelf had been. If Rosa's spirit was going to appear, I felt sure it would be where she died, where 300 pounds of fossils and crystals and geodes had come crashing off their high shelf right onto her head. But I didn't want to check.
Helen kept calling for Rosa, the same old script Rosa herself used a hundred times. Finally, I forced myself to take a reading where the shelf had been. "It's 52 degrees over where Rosa…" I began, and trailed off.
"Got stoned? Had her world rocked?" Casey said.
"God drat it Casey!" I snapped.
"Sorry," he muttered, not looking at me, "Sorry."
"Forget it," I said. "Hey Helen, let's try the Ouija."
"I, uh, left it at home," she said.
"Table-tapping," Casey muttered, still not looking at either of us. "We can use that card table for table-tapping, it's small enough."
We stood around the small table, pressing our fingertips firmly on the edge. "Rosa?" I called out. "Rosa, this is Marcus. We're going to ask some questions. We forgot the Ouija board, so just tap once for no and twice for yes. Do you understand?"
We didn't wait long. The table shifted under my fingers, tilting so one leg came up off the wood floor and dropped with a solid knock, then knocked again.
"Ok Rosa, we're glad you're with us. We miss you."
"Thank you." I took a second to get the quaver out of my voice. "Mom's doing ok, if you were wondering."
"Rosa, you remember how most ghosts--"
"Earth-bound spirits, sorry, are supposed to have some unfinished business?"
"Do you have business here with the living?"
"Wish they were all this helpful," Helen said with a tight smile. "Rosa, are you here because you want to prove the existence of spirits, life after death?"
Tap. We listened for the other tap we were sure would come, but there was only the one.
"Huh, had my money on that," Casey said. "Are you here for revenge?"
Tap. There wasn't really anyone to revenge upon--the guy who put those rocks on that rickety shelf died years ago.
"Does it have anything to do with our work?"
"Is it something to do with the family?" I asked.
"Is it about me?"
"Someone on Dad's side?"
Tap-tap. Katie was our cousin who lived in town, a sweet 10 year old kid who had adored Rosa.
"Ok, so it has something to do with Katie. Is she in danger?"
"Good. Uh, let's see, is it something at home?"
"Something at her school. Problem with other kids?"
"Problem with the teacher?"
We got kind of stuck there. Half of the game of 20 Questions is watching the other person's face and hearing the way they answer, but we only had knocks and taps to go on. We asked dozens of questions trying to figure out what was so important that it would keep Rosa from moving on.
I think in the end she got frustrated, which seems odd for a ghost but Rosa was always a little short-tempered. There was one of those decorative sand jars sitting on an end table; suddenly it crashed to the floor. We all jumped at the noise, then saw that the sand was being gently smoothed out flat. Slowly, letters appeared in the sand, as though written out by a finger.
"Bug hunt," Casey read. "That's, uh, pretty weird, guys. The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on…"
"No," I said, "it does mean something. Let me think." Katie. Bug hunt. Something at school. "Oh, hell. You guys remember back in elementary school, how you had to go out and collect bugs, then arrange them on a big board with labels?"
Behind us, the table knocked twice without anyone even touching it.
"I certainly never did anything like that," Helen said, grimacing. "Sounds disgusting, and kind of morbid. They make little kids do this?"
Casey nodded, though. "Yeah, we did that at my school."
"Well, I remember Katie telling Rosa about it last time we saw her," I continued. "She was saying she already had a bunch of beetles and things, but she wanted to go out after dark and get some fireflies, maybe one of those big 'hummingbird' moths, but she was kind of scared to go out after dark. So Rosa said she'd go with and help her catch them."
The table tapped twice, then twice again. The whole room got cold for a second.
"I'll take her," I said. "I'll take Katie bug hunting as soon as I can. I mean, it's nice being able to talk like this, but I assume you'd like to move on at some point."
I smiled. "Well, Rosa, there's another bright side… if Casey remembered to take the lens cap off the cameras this time, I think this will be some pretty great video evidence for the existence of spirits."
"Yup," Casey agreed, "And we learned something even more important."
"What's that?" I asked warily, seeing what I could only think of as a poo poo-eating grin creeping onto his face.
"Why, that a Rosa stoned gathers no moths."
An old lamp in the corner suddenly crashed to the floor. Pictures shook off the walls. The EVP machine crackled loudly and shrieked wordless rage. We ran for the door as the furniture started to whirl. Rosa always did hate puns.
|# ? Jul 14, 2019 21:57|
From Morgue to Morgue
The vibration of my phone on the steel gurney next to me pulled me out of the other side, and back into this world.
"Turn that thing off!" Dustin cried out from a room down the hallway. "No wonder my readings are all over the loving place." Normally, I would have yelled back at him, mocking whatever gadget or doohickey from some rear end in a top hat on eBay he'd decided to test out tonight.
But in the space between our world and Their's, I had picked up some particularly distressing transmissions coming from our side. This call was bad news.
"Hello Mr. Plum, this is Detective Barnes with the Rochester Police Department," a gruff voice crackled from the other side of the phone. "I'm sorry to call this late, but- earlier this evening we found a body."
"I'm afraid I'm already working on a case," I said as politely as possible. "You'll have to call my secretary tomorrow to set something up, we open at eight." In my heart, I knew that this attempt to weasel out of whatever terrible journey this night had in store was in vain.
"I'm aware that you've worked with some of our more... open-minded detectives before. This isn't about that, we need you to identify the body. We believe it's Rosa Flores."
Detective Barnes pressed the "-1" button and folded his hands. There was no movement. "Oh!" squeaked the doctor with us, leaning forward and swiped his keycard before hitting the button again. We descended.
"So... you probably think you've seen some creepy poo poo, then?" Barnes asked, carefully holding back the contempt he clearly had for us. Dustin, ever the literalist, was not as capable of reading between the lines as I.
"Oh yeah, once we worked a case for some Mennonite clan down near Penn Yan," Dustin said dryly without looking up from his phone. "Saw a spectral horse trample one of 'em. Usually horses aren't pissed off enough to manifest, let alone cause real damage." Dustin looked up at me for a moment, then asked "Didn't you say they tortured it?"
"Not all of them, just the one that got trampled," I replied, and the detective only smirked back. The doors to the elevator opened to a mint green and white tiled hallway. The Doctor led us to a set of stainless steel doors and swiped his keycard once more.
Upon entry, Dustin immediately began to calibrate his meters to account for the room's innate magnetic fields and radio frequencies. The Doctor led Detective Barnes and I to the only occupied gurney in the room, and slowly unzipped the thick, plastic body bag.
Rosa Flores, Paranormal Investigator, was dead. The woman who guided me on my first trip to other side had now taken up permanent residence with them. "Oh, Rosa," was all I was able to muster looking down at her in this state. Her face was contourted into a frozen scream. Her eyes nearly bulged out of her skull. Streaks of white marred her curly black hair.
"Based on initial findings, cause of death is likely cardiac arrest," the Doctor read from a chart he'd picked up.
"She was seized by something," I said clinically. "All of the indicators are here. You can only cross back and forth so many times before they expect you to start paying tolls." Barnes scoffed at my assessment.
"And what forms of currency do ghosts take? Bitcoin? Yen?" The contempt which the Detective had scantly concealed before had begun to seep into every word. "How do you pay your tolls, Plum?"
I rolled up my sleeves to reveal the gnarled and scarred skin on my forearms. There were claw marks and cuneiform and spirals which cracked and bled. I placed my arm next to Rosa's, almost pristine in comparison. She'd been using a passage which, evidently, carried a much higher cost.
"Jesus Son, what the hell did you do to yourself?" the Doctor asked, revolted. Barnes rested his hand on his holstered weapon, uneased by the sight of my mutilated flesh.
"That's it," Barnes grunted through gritted teeth. "I'm bringing you both in for psychiatric evaluation. You're clearly delusional, a danger to yourself-" he trailed off as he looked down at Rosa's body.
The space between Rosa's eyes had begun to violently twitch. Slowly, a bubble of skin began to form and expand from her head. It had reached roughly the size of an orange before bursting.
A beetle made of white crystal, blues and greens shimmering across the surface of its fluttering wings, crawled out from the bloody flaps of deflated skin hanging from Rosa's forehead. The Doctor immediately sprinted for the door. Barnes' eyes went wider than Rosa's as he unholstered his weapon and drew down on the beetle.
The bullet ricocheted off of the beetle and found its home in my leg. I howled with pain and fell to the floor. The beetle flitted down from the gurney and rested on my chest. It crawled down to my thigh and across the hand trying in vain to impede to gush of hot blood from my wound.
In my last moments before losing consciousness, I felt a great pressure digging into my leg.
The membrane between our world and Their's is thin, translucent, and easier to cross by accident than on purpose. Each time we dream, all it takes is opening a conspicuous door to end up on the other side.
I saw Rosa in my unconscious state. She had been lashed to a large wooden wheel. A faceless drudge pushed it through the circumference of a worn dirt path, his hands bleeding from copious splinters.
When she saw me, she began to shriek. I tried to ask about what had happened to her, about the beetle which leapt from her brain. But she only screamed. The drudge smacked the opposite side of the wheel to quiet her, and continued to push.
In my unconscious state, I had been taken to an institution for the standard 72 hour observation period. Leather straps constricted my entire body from movement, but I felt no pain from the leg where I was shot. Dustin told me that our lawyer had filed a formal complaint against Detective Barnes and was prepared to sue for harassment if I was charged with the murder of Rosa, in lieu of a better explanation for a human head that had burst like a balloon.
Before he left, he took his usual readings, standard practice for visiting conduits of negative energy like morgues and mental institutions. "loving thing must be broken," he said as he stared puzzled at his laptop's screen. "Everything I took earlier tonight looks normal. Well, normal for an abandoned hospital anyway."
"But the psychic energy from the morgue and this place are off the charts, and all the waveforms look exactly the same."
Inside me, something stirred to be brought back to its home.
|# ? Jul 14, 2019 23:07|
Necromancers in New York
Word count: 1200
Rosa Flores’ severed head was in the doctor’s bag. Gabby sat the doctor’s bag on the dining room table, across from Mr. and Mrs Cavendish, who were bound to their chairs. She reached inside, stroked Rosa’s curly auburn locks with her bandaged left hand, grabbed a clump of hair, and stuck Rosa’s detached head in Mr and Mrs. Cavendish’s face.
“She’s seen better days, hasn’t she?”
A dark stain spread across Mr. Cavendish’s dressing gown. He rocked back and forth, blubbering “oh god, oh god, oh god…”
“Wh-what do you want?” Mrs. Cavendish managed to stammer, straightening her posture as she spoke. “We have money, but not on us, and the banks won’t open-”
“Why are you talking to me?” Gabby cocked her head to the side. “I’m not the one who wanted to come here, that was Rosa’s idea.”
Mr. Cavendish stopped blubbering. “I told you Jacqueline, oh God I told you! Oh god, oh god, oh god-”
“Shut up, Charles!” Mrs. Cavendish squirmed in her bindings. “This is madness! Who are you? What do you want?”
“Did I forget to introduce myself? I’m terribly sorry. My name is Gabriel, but everyone calls me Gabby. And you’ve already met Rosa. Say hello Rosa.”
Rosa Flores’ eyes flashed open, a smile spreading across her pale dead face. “Boo!” She hissed.
Mr. and Mrs. Cavendish screamed again.
I always thought Rosa was a crackpot. I met her while bartending at the Slum Goddess, a home away from home for the freak folk. Or more commonly their only home. One night Rosa waltzed in, ordered a New York sour and regaled us with tales of her paranormal adventures. Like the time she exposed a cabal of vampiric priests in Chinatown, or saved a coven of anti-Christmas witches from a band of rogue Elves.
I still think she was making that last one up.
She became a regular, for awhile anyway. Most nights, when my shift was over, she’d end up in my place. She’d give me poo poo about the cresty dishes in the sink, the two piles of clothes next to my bed (one dirty, one clean), and the utter lack of sheets for my bed.
“I get it, you never have to make your bed if you don’t have sheets.”
Then one night she wouldn’t show up at the Slum Goddess. There’d never be any notice, she’d just up and disappear on another adventure. I’d tell myself that I wouldn’t let her back into my life when she finally showed up. But I never did. Last night I got a voicemail and left in the middle of my shift. She sounded desperate, said she finally dug herself a hole too deep even she couldn’t climb out of. She said she needed me. Me. How could I say no to her?
“And girl, you still don’t have any drat sheets.”
When I got home the door was unlocked, though I had given Rosa a spare key. Still, I didn’t call out. Maybe it was the tone of her voice in her message, she was always confident, never questioning her ability to get out of a scrap. I pressed my ear against the door, I could hear movement, and a voice. A man’s voice.
I splayed my keys out between my left fingers and crept inside. It was dark, but down the narrow hallway to the living room there was a faint flickering of light. I could hear the voice clearly now, he was chanting in some foriegn tongue. I heard a bag being zipped up. I moved forward.
In the middle of my living room was a man, darkly clad, kneeling before a circle on the floor with strange shapes drawn inside, candles lit along the edges. In the middle was a nude body covered in blood, chunks of flesh missing, the whole chest carved open. The head, oddly, was covered in one of my t-shirts.
It was Rosa.
“Rosa!” I screamed. I lunged forward, but a hand grabbed me, shoved me against the wall, and covered my mouth. A second killer. I was pinned, but my left arm was free.
I threw my keyed fist at the man, aiming for his eyes, managing instead to gouge his forehead and nose. There was a satisfying crunch as his nose broke. His grip loosened and I threw him off me, charged toward Rosa.
I know it wasn’t rational, Rosa had to be dead, but I had to get to her. Maybe it wasn’t as bad as it looked, maybe I could save her. At the very least I could save her from the hands of those sick fucks.
I kicked the man kneeling at the circle in the head, he fell back and knocked over some candles. They went rolling off to the side. I started punching him with my keyed fist, crimson arcs spraying everywhere. Then my head was yanked back. I was thrown on top of my kitchenette’s table. A doctor’s bag sat there, one of Rosa’s arms tucked inside.
I flipped over, swung wildly, hitting air. The man with the broken nose grabbed my short cropped hair and threw me toward the window. Glass shattered as I flew through the window. My head narrowly missed the fire escape’s balusters, slipping in the space where one had been. I stared five stories down, dizzy from a concussion.
I grabbed a piece of glass, rolled over and saw Mr. I-Broke-Your-Nose in the window. I slashed at the prick’s face. A warm gout of blood splashed over me as he screamed and wrenched back.
“Fuckin’ bitch!” He said, or I think he said, it wasn’t easy to understand him as he was holding a slab of his own cheek in place.
I crawled back through the window, wobbled, fell to the floor. The apartment was filling with smoke, one of the candles had rolled under my couch and set it alight.
I saw the kneeling man grabbed his friend, pulling him away from me. He was carrying the bags.
I crawled over to ruined remains of Rosa Flores and pulled the blood soaked t-shirt off of her face. She looked up at me and blinked.
“Please, we’ll tell you everything, just don’t hurt us!” Mr. Cavendish pleaded.
“For heaven’s sake Charles, have some goddamn balls.” Mrs. Cavendish spat, her head still held high. “We had nothing to do with your friend’s tragic demise. We were assured that all subjects were willing, they were paid handsomely enough.”
“Oh, we’re not here for information,” Gabby said, pushing hair out of Rosa’s face. “She already had it all figured out. The two of you hired a corporate necromancer to perform outpatient arcane surgery. Because undead tissue never ages. The only problem was that Rosa got caught sticking her nose in places they didn’t belong. You didn’t kill her, the Necromancer and his thug did.”
“Then why are you here?” Mrs. Cavendish asked.
“Why for Rosa, of course. You both have something that belongs to her,” Gabby said, then pulled a bonesaw out of the doctor’s bag. “I’m just here to collect.”
The Cavendish’s screamed for the very last time.
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 01:40|
Ghosts and Monsters
There's no such thing as ghosts. First thing you learn, in this business. Monsters, sure. You get wind of a barrow-wight stalking the unmarked graveyard that they call a forest park outside of town, you come loaded for bear, pack the dragonbreath rounds and holy water and heavy flares. You hear about old Bill Quantrill and his ghost raiders stalking the back roads of Kansas, you know you're dealing with some guy with a mask and a black light projector, probably out to make a buck or keep the wrong sort of people out of their neck of the woods. Because there's no such thing as ghosts.
Which is to say not a one of us is ever going to speak to Rosa Flores again. Rosa Flores, she dead.
I don't think we've met. Doctor Simon D'ettienne. Most folks call me Dr. Simon. And you must be one of those next generation investigators fogeys like me like to complain over. Never mind. Normally I'd tell you I have Rosa stories to last as long as you're buying, but you know. Open bar. Rosa's people didn't cheap out, not like that last few. drat, I've been to too drat many funerals lately, and it's not like I haven't skipped twice as many. Where was I? Right.
Most of us start out looking for ghosts. I had some questions for my dad, things he wouldn't tell me before the accident. Ask just about anyone here and they've got a story like that. Rosa, she had a little boy. She had a son, and then one day she didn't. The police found his clothes, eventually, all his clothes and an awful amount of blood. So Rosa had one step ahead on us. Most of us start out looking for ghosts and end up finding monsters. She was looking for monsters right from the start, only barely hoping to find a ghost.
Me and Rosa? Just friends. We were never lovers, though we did share a few. It's a small community, a small dating pool. We worked together for a while, tracking the spoor of a pack of loup-garou up along the Mississippi, then on into Canada on a wendigo hunt. Learned plenty from her on those trips. Most of us, the only way they can tell the difference between a wendigo and a yeti is when it starts tearing bits off them and shovels them into its mouth. Lots just shoot first, which is a waste and a shame. Not Rosa, Rosa knew yeti. Had their respect. Take a deep smell, right now. Smell that, the deep forest smells, just the growth and none of the rot? That's the yeti honor guard watching over us right now. That's one of the ways to tell. Not the most useful when you're actually in a forest, though.
A half dozen yeti up in the rafters, practically invisible, crossbows out and ready for trouble. Maybe excessive security for a wake, but you know. Rosa took the manticore down with her, but its thralls scattered everywhere, and who knows what trouble they'll make before the poison burns out of them.
Rosa knew, sure as anyone knows anything, that it was a manticore that took her boy. About two years in libraries and in the field and she put all the clues together. And we hunted that thing on and off the whole trip from New Orleans to the Canadian wilderness. False trails, all of them. Did take down a fomor and a cheval mallet at the end of a couple of them, so it wasn't all wasted effort. But the other time we worked together, that was the real thing.
She brought in Claire Pollard and Marty Bell, and her second husband, Will Faustus and me, to a dead shopping mall in Iowa where she was certain a manticore was lairing. Rough piece of work, that. Manticores aren't for amateurs. Marty should never have been there at all, and we were under-equiped too. Should have brought earplugs. They say manticores have a silky golden voice to serve sweet and pleasant lies. They don't do it justice, and a manticore can lie with the truth even more effectively than with fabrications. It was whispering at us the whole way out from Des Moines, from thirty miles out, stirring up a decade's worth of resentments, assignations and crushes. Putting us off our game.
I've lived that night in so many dreams I'm not even sure how it all went down, but it ended with Will and Claire dead, Marty in a wheelchair for life, and us two survivors scarred inside. I spent nine months in a psych ward. Rosa toughed it out. And the damned thing got away, with only two of the thralls getting free and alive by the end. I'm surprised she went in alone this time, but I can understand it too.
So a toast to righteous revenge, yes? What? Well, it almost had to be the same one. Manticores are even more solitary than dragons. One to a continent, at most, and don't ask me how the genetics of that work out long term. So I was pretty sure already. But it wasn't until thirty minutes ago I knew for sure.
You ever see those anthropology things where they get a computer to show you what someone will look like when they grow up? Rosa had that done, best money could buy. Got someone else to do it with sorcery, too. Came out mostly the same both times. She showed them to me, one night drinking after a successful hunt. Get rid of that scraggly beard and you're the spitting image. Your name is Robin, whatever that thing has been calling you.
So I guess you've got a choice to make. You might think you owe some kind of final revenge on us all, based on whatever mix of manticore venom and Stockholm syndrome is going on in your head. Maybe you pull that knife under your shirt faster than this old man can react, get one in before the yeti take you down. Maybe you've got something more powerful on you to try and take more of us down, some kind of mystic suicide bomb vest. But you have another choice.
Because no matter what lies the manticore told you, you aren't a monster and you had a mother who did not give up on you for one second, not to her dying day.
So here's five business cards. Full house, shrinks over priests. Three therapists who can deal with our type of trauma, and two holy men, one Catholic and the other Voudoun, each one with the know-how to take anything supernatural he left in you out. You take them, you leave here, do what it takes to get your head straight. Choice is yours.
Good choice. Look me up when you're ready to start thinking about what you're going to do with the rest of your life.
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 02:14|
Rosa Flores Resigns
Rosa Flores spends half her life dead. Her spartan apartment is laid out around a king-sized bed, one of the few comforts the dead can appreciate, and she keeps her AC blowing meat-locker cold all year. On her best days, she's only dead for a few hours. The worst days are oblivion, time losing meaning as she experiences the worst deaths that restless ghosts can bring her.
Rosa calls herself a paranormal investigator, but all of her cases get brought in by the Gatherer: black-robed, a reaper without a scythe, with a group of lingering ghosts in tow. Every one of them needs "sympathy"; if the Gatherer were any less ancient, he'd probably call it "closure," but Rosa's just as glad he doesn't. Even "sympathy" is a weasel word. What every ghost needs, apparently, is for someone to climb into its death alongside it, feel its pain and fear. Rosa learned the hard way: everything people say about "unfinished business" and "last goodbyes" is horseshit. All a ghost wants is someone to die with it, and she does it a dozen times a week.
Dying a thousand deaths is a full-time job, and the Gatherer provides for her: regular paychecks from shell companies, all clean and legal. It would be a decent living if Rosa ever had the time or strength to live. In her waking hours, she orders take-out, watches dumb sex comedies, and knits for charity. Every cat blanket and baby hat reminds her she's alive, and that's what the deal was really about, wasn't it? She traded her life to the Gatherer, when he came for her in the hospital, when she was a kid. He gave her life on his terms, and she gets the moments of it he doesn't need. It's scraps, but it's a life.
It takes a long time for Rosa to decide something has to change.
The day Rosa Flores dies for the last time, the Gatherer brings her a family of car-crash victims, raw and bleary-eyed -- probably still in the hospital morgue. Not a bad day, really. Fresh ghosts are confused, but they're not bitter, and car-crash deaths are usually quick. Rosa takes them into her arms one after the other, and she sees the same crash from four angles: four different views of an out-of-control F150 plowing through the windshield of a Honda Fit, four different mixes of the same screams, but nigh-identical bursts of pain and darkness. It's all of twenty minutes' work, and when Rosa Flores opens her eyes after the last one, she's fast enough to see the Gatherer lingering there. "You," she croaks out, the word that took years of will to finally speak. "C'mon. Your turn."
What? The Gatherer is ancient, but its body language is still human, and it's baffled. Sleep, mortal. You have done your work.
"I'm not done yet. You're a ghost, right? You've got to be. I'm tired of this, and I think maybe it's time I took you home."
I sincerely doubt you are capable of it, and even if you are, our pact is personal. If you succeed, you will die.
"I said I was tired," Rosa replies. "I'm ready to be done." There are no loose ends left; nothing in the fridge to spoil, no yarn in her basket, her last box of hats taken to the NICU yesterday. She's watched the dregs of Netflix. It's all over. She climbs off the bed and reaches out to grab the Gatherer's arm. "C'mon."
NO, he thinks at her, but it's too late. She collapses to the floor, and when her vision returns, she's immersed in what must be the Gatherer's death. The body she's riding in is male, old, weary and aching; it's swaddled in furs in a warm, dark, smoke-smelling chamber. A cave? There's a figure knelt next to it, a rough-featured woman wrapped in hides, holding out a hand full of coarse herbal paste. The woman barks a few words that Rosa doesn't recognize, but the body she's riding in understands. "Eat, grandfather. Eat and sleep."
Rosa feels the old man's desiccated mouth work itself around a response. "No," he says. "Can't sleep. I'll... stop?" Rosa can feel his confusion, his fear as he searches for the word he wants, and she realizes it might not exist yet.
You were one of the first, weren't you? she thinks at the mind of Gatherer she knows, riding alongside her and his past self. One of the first to be human enough to know you were gonna die, and to be afraid of it. And you never got used to it, after all this time?
It is the worst thing, the Gatherer answers her, with sudden, keen anger. The worst thing that can ever be, to see your ending and know it cannot be stopped. Can you tell me I am wrong?
Can't say you're wrong, thinks Rosa, fighting for focus; the body she's riding in is eating fingerfuls of herbal paste, each swallow a jolt of pain that's soon dulled. Sleep soon, she figures, and then death. For once, she wants to stay longer. I can say you're an idiot, though. How many thousands of years have you been doing this and not learned it's the goddamn price of admission? People die. It sucks. You've been dragging me all these ghosts, making them face it, and you never have? You know what, rear end in a top hat? This is the nicest death I've ever felt. You're warm. You're comfortable. Someone's with you. You know how many of the sad fuckers you bring me didn't even have that?
The defiance in the Gatherer's mental voice is starting to waver. I do what I do to keep what I have left. You've done the same thing.
And we were both wrong. It's time, buddy. The Gatherer's death is drawing near; Rosa can feel the old man's breath slowing, the heart fighting and losing its strength. You had a good death, and that wasn't good enough for you. I had a lovely death, and then I had a thousand more. Time for us to go.
The dying man's heart is still, and as his last dreams dim to nothing, Rosa starts to feel her own body again. It's much the same: slow, shallow breaths and a weakening heart. It doesn't hurt. She has just enough strength to pull herself across the floor, grab her cell phone from its charger, and fumble for the 911 alert button. Best if someone finds her soon.
The Gatherer's gone. That means she's done her job, probably. Either that or he's gone ahead of her, off to whatever he reports to, rousing a crew of reapers to meet her at the Styx or... whatever's waiting for her.
As Rosa's brain turns off the lights and locks up, her last thoughts are wondering what's waiting for her on the other side. For once in her life, she's got a real mystery on her hands.
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 02:45|
Rosa Flores. That was her name. Then she was a zombie. And zombies have no name. Only hunger.
The capitalists were having their biannual money meeting when Rosa shambled onto the stage, took the microphone, and swallowed the entire thing in a single gulp. With the wire swinging from her mouth as she wildly flailed her head from side to side, the ex-Ms. Flores spat vile black liquid upon every onlooker.
The crowd of suited men proceeded to dissolve into a homogenous yet lumpy flesh pile. It was gargantuan, massive, and fleshy. The mass, now of a single mind, raised its multitudinous appendages and prayed to its new goddess. Her name was Rosa Flores.
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 03:39|
Rosa flores is dead. Her ashes are scattered and dispersed, taken up in whirling vortices to the sombre sky. We are all Rosa now, all partaking of the atoms of her being.
It started with fire, the crackling blaze of her mother's house. She set the fire herself, or so it is said: her mother, Mantissa Flores of cursed memory, was cold and cruel. We could tell the story of her misdeeds, the beatings and the crimes but that is not why we are here. We are here, as everyone is always everywhere, to bear witness.
Rosa knew everything on the day of her birth, staring into her mother's eyes with the luminous blue of perfect knowledge. In this she was like all newborns, but unlike all newborns she did not exchange wordless omniscience for worldly blindness. Eternity was in her eyes, like dawn mist on the lake, as she opened them for the first time and it there when she closed them for the last.
It ended with fire, then, as you all know, in the magnesium vortex of the Cenotaph. In her death she unleashed; well.
It is traditional to list the deeds of Rosa Flores on this day, her youth spent sheltering from the Republic's kill squads, her wild teenage years running with gangs and the first time she saw behind the veil. But it is easy to forget that our forebears thought the world was merely the world. They knew nothing of the Veer. To them dreams were colorful nonsense to trouble the sleeper and be disregarded upon waking.
We are here to praise Rosa, but I do not choose that path. No, let me finish. We live in the world she made for us, but we did not ask for it to be the way it is. I can remember when the street outside was a concrete path for cars, not a multicolored smear of Veer-induced spirit vapour.
It was better before!
I said, let me finish!
And the one thing, the reason we all come together in this annual orgy of praise, the end of death? We need death! We need to die! I-- let me speak-- we are not human if death is not an absolute! drat Rosa Flores! drat her! Cursed be her name down all the long ages of the world!
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 03:40|
Bees to Flowers
Rosa Flores was dead. I knew it in my gut before I knew it in my brain, the way a dog senses an earthquake. She hadn’t been online for over forty-eight hours, and that was unheard of.
Rosa, like me, was a long-time inhabitant of RabbitHole.net, a website where amateur sleuths and ghost hunters and gathered to discuss their favourite mysteries and urban legends. I’d been part of the community since I was a teenager. Rosa had been a regular even back then. We’d bonded over the silliest thing: my username, BrilliantIris. Isn’t it cute we’re both flowers? Rosa had said.
The thing about Rosa is that she was always online.
Nobody knew what she did for a living. She seemed to have an infinite amount of free time, always commenting on threads or trawling the news for new mysteries or posting clips of her investigatons.
I logged onto the RabbitHole IRC chat, a relic from an ancient time that still clung to life by a thread. Hey, I asked, has anyone heard from Rosa?
Nobody had. Some of us, myself included, thought she was a little too dedicated. We try not to use the o-word in sleuth communities, it’s so impolite. But we wondered how she could possibly balance a job or a healthy social life with the amount of work she did on the site. When Friday night came and went and Rosa didn’t appear to post her weekly update on the Wingohocking Creek Sewer Cryptids, we knew something must be wrong.
Fortunately, she’d disappeared in the midst of a community full of internet detectives. It was easy to retrace her steps. Given she was Rosa, she had to have disappeared in a condemned chemical plant or the woods outside a gravity hill or--God forbid--the Wingohocking Creek Sewers.
Rosa’s last few posts were telling.
RabbitHole > Strange Happenings > Natural Phenomena > Mass hallucinations in Mount Minsi woods?
Rosa explained that she’d seen snippets on social media about strange phenomena, be it physical or psychic, on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware. Specifically at a couple trailheads known to be spots where teens snuck off to crunk themselves beyond their parents’ watchful eyes. Which is why nobody paid attention, of course. Kids got high and said all kinds of stupid poo poo. Rosa seemed to think there was something there though. She’d drawn up a map, marked with a few red triangles, and collected accounts of the “phenomenon.”
Her last post on the forum was an update to the Mount Minsi thread, an announcement that she was going to take a hike up the most popular trail to “see what she could see.” Even if I fail to uncover the mysteries of the universe, she’d written in her usual self-deprecating style, my fat brown rear end will get some exercise.
And that’s how I found myself trudging through the Mount Minsi woods, following Rosa’s footsteps and repeating her ‘last words’ to myself like a mantra: even if this sucks and even if you discover nothing, at least you’re getting exercise. Painfully out of shape and unprepared in the bug repellant department, I soldiered on along the trail, slapping mosquitos off my arms until at some point I stopped feeling the bites.
The woods were immense, trees crowding in from all sides in a way that triggered my childhood claustrophobia despite being out-of-doors. They blotted out more sun than I expected and I cursed myself for leaving my Sixers hoodie in the car. I tried to tell myself it could be worse. I could be stuck at home, listening to my mom and step-dad threaten to divorce each other again.
After an hour, I realized the futility of my mission. Even an internet shut-in should have known that there was no possible way for a single person to comb a mountain for a missing person. But I’d been reeled in--like Rosa, like all of us--by the lure of the mystery.
Something sharp-edged dug into the bottom of my foot. On my next step, it dug in again. Shaking my leg, I felt the telltale dig-rattle of a rock in the toe of my shoe. I’d worn my oldest, shittiest Vans for lack of hiking boots and I was paying the price. Cursing, Rosa temporarily forgotten, I leaned against a nearby tree and began to unlace my sneaker.
And where my forearm braced against the bark, a fresh spark of pain. Sharper, spikier this time. More intense. I yelped, dragging my arm back. A plump little bee clung there, rudely disrupted, its stinger jabbed vengefully into my skin.
I swatted the thing off my forearm, cursing. The bee fell to the loamy forest floor, its lower abdomen a thin, torn thread of shiny guts yanked loose by the anchor of its stinger in my body.
The stinger was still firmly embedded in my arm. I scraped it carefully free, the tiny wound throbbing in the aftermath. Served me right for not bringing deet.
What a huge-rear end bee, though. I crouched down to get a better look at it.
As I lowered, the trees above me soared, shooting up like skyscrapers. The sound of them whooshed, which I was aware made no sense even as I heard it. Reeling back, I struggled to stand as the earth itself seemed to grab at me, twigs like clutching hands, soil like clinging glue, the forest floor a sticky roach motel.
Every vein in my body throbbed in time with the sting. My pulse roared in my ears, or at least I thought it did until I realized what the sound truly was: the buzzing of enormous wings. I blinked and was thrown forward, the world dancing and tilting crazily, a speedy blur of green and brown. I was flying. Or at least my mind was.
I knew, the same dog-earthquake knowing, that I was a bee. Not the bee, not the one who’d stung me, but any bee, sailing through the forest with one sole objective, an obsessive homing instinct: return to home, your work is done.
Home. Home to join the others. To bequeath the pollen wedged inside my knees to the hive, tucked inside an individual cell of the honeycomb with mathematical precision.
Like a bird hopping between branches, I soared along synapses from consciousness to consciousness. I buried myself in a flower. I wriggled on the ground, guts a twisted trail, as a human shook out her hand above me. I chewed beeswax in a neat hexagonal cubicle, warmed by the hum of many minds against my own.
I crawled from the mouth of Rosa Flores, wings new and wet. Yet still more of me burrowed beneath her still-drying skin, a hard-working excavator clearing space in the abdominal cavity for the waxen architecture yet to come. This shelter was a rich gift, a home to be hollowed out and treasured for generations to come.
RabbitHole > Strange Happenings > Missing Persons
Still no sign of Rosa. I’m really worried about her.
And now it’s been a weekend since we heard from BrilliantIris too.
You know what this means, gang.
Who’s up for a day trip to Mount Minsi?
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 03:42|
One Way, or Another
April 5, 1987
The sleepy town of Howler’s police precinct stirs like New York City in August. On a typical day, the station consists of Sheriff Ida Thomas and a few officers to take calls concerning crazy Farmer Joe’s overambitious coonhound. Today is no typical day.
The din of the new-fangled fax machine persists under the lively tone of FBI investigators, a reporter, and friends and family of Judy Jackson, the missing girl. Ida walks past the fax machine and notices a paper on the floor in front of it. She retrieves it, flips it over, and gasps as she reads the other side.
“She’s coming.” She whispers to herself. Nobody takes note, so she calls out with the booming contralto that helped her get the job. “Y’all shut up, y’hear!”
The roar of activity recedes to a lull, and all those in Ida’s charge fall silent and stand at attention. Slowly, the others follow suit.
Ida flips the paper around and reveals three words, sloppily drawn by hand.
ON THE WAY
The FBI agents hastily gather their things and scramble out of the station. The remaining officers whisper to one another as they swiftly depart as well. Sheriff Ida takes a deep breath and attempts to untwist the nervous knot in her stomach. She walks to her desk, opens the bottom locked drawer, and withdraws a VHS cassette marked 12.8.1983. She walks to the VCR in the conference room and pops in the tape. The picture springs to life on the TV. A Sheriff of a small town in Pennsylvania is holding a press conference:
“We were fortunate enough to have a visit from Ms. Rosa Flores during the police investigation as to the whereabouts of Sean Hannigan. Ms. Flores requested that I do not disclose any further details of the investigation. All I can say is, we have recovered him, and he is now safely in the warm embrace of his family and friends. I have also been asked by Ms. Flores to indicate the following.”
Ida clicks her Pilot G2 into life and dots bullets on her buck slip with quick precision.
“Keep it cold in the station, about 55 degrees at highest and only use what lightning you need. Have all of the evidence and information spread out, so that nothing is stacked, in one room. Only one staff member may be present in the station, preferably the head of the local law enforcement. And lastly, do not describe Ms. Flores in any way to the press. She spoke to me about these details and asked that I convey them all to you. Ms. Flores intends to drop in like this, when she can, provided that we all comply with her guidelines. The results speak for themselves folks. I was skeptical at first, but she’s the real deal.”
Ida powers down the TV and makes the necessary preparations. The precinct’s temperature falls below 60 degrees, and Ida throws on her jacket, humming all the while to dull her anxious stomach which has not stopped doing an acrobatic routine since the fax came through. Nothing works. She leans against her locker and twirls her old nightstick by her side.
Then, she hears it: a faint voice that sounds far away.
‘Do not be alarmed.'
The ethereal remains of Rosa Flores drifts through the floor and upwards until she arrives on the chair in front of the desk.
’What you would refer to as a ghost. Yes. Now please, we have precious little time, show me to my room.'
Ida does as she’s told in spite of the blood escaping her now pallor face. She walks to Interrogation Room #2 and opens the door for Rosa.
’Thank you’ responds Rosa, as she glides in.
Rosa wastes no time once inside. She surveys all of the evidence; Ida has it fanned out just as she needs it to be. Once she has a clear image of Judy, she closes her eyes and channels her.
She opens up her eyes and finds Judy. It’s a ceramic tiled room with no windows, or furnishings, and a heavy beige door. Judy is sitting down on the floor. She presses her back to the wall facing the door; she clutches her folded up legs tightly and she pleads for Rosa to arrive. Rosa smiles to herself for a moment. She appreciates that she's known but wishes the world weren't this way.
’I’m here, precious child.’ She lets out a whisper.
Judy lifts her head and scans the room.
“Rosa?” She calls out.
’Yes, it is me.’ Rosa appears to Judy. Judy has no time to regard her ghostly companion as anything other than a savior.
“What now?” She asks.
’We will talk, and then I will leave. First, tell me everything you know about where you are.’
Judy quickly fires off all of the details she has. She’s sharp and observant, and after only a few minutes, Rosa raises her hand.
’I have everything I need, sweet child. You will be found, and it shall not be long from now.’
Judy keeps eye contact with Rosa, but tears bead in the corner of her eyes.
“Thank you.” She says.
’It is truly my pleasure. You seem like such a wonderful, and spirited little girl. Now, as to the second question. Please, tell me what this horrible, despicable creature has done to you.’
Judy’s shoulders drop, her gaze shifts to the floor, and her lips purse.
Rosa glides closer and lowers herself to the floor, meeting Judy’s eyes.
’I was worried it was awful. I see now that it was. Sweet girl, please listen to me, it’ll help us both if you make eye contact.’
Judy takes a minute and shifts her gaze to Rosa.
’You must not fault yourself for what happened here. You will spend time, and a lot of it, replaying this day in your memory. When you do, remember that you are the hero of this story, and that man is the villain.’
’No buts,’ Rosa interrupts. When you leave here in a couple of hours, you will need to take a break from this and not think about it for some time. But a day shall come when you will need to address what happened here today. Before I leave here, you must promise me one thing.
Promise me that you will talk. That you’ll talk to someone, anyone, who you feel you can trust and that will do their best to understand.
“I just want to forget about all of this,” Judy says through her tears.
’I know. But it doesn’t work that way. You will carry this around with you for the rest of your life. It is not fair, and it is wrong, but you must choose to deal with it. Or else… Rosa pauses.
“Or else what?” Judy asks.
Rosa’s eyes fall to the floor.
Judy waits a moment, but understands. “OK.”
Goodbye, sweet child.
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 03:46|
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 04:08|
also yoruichi please come to discord so we can fjgj ty
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 04:34|
When I first came up this poo poo I thought it would be pretty funny to just disqualify everyone for writing fanfic and then post another prompt
... and, uh, I still think its funny...
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 14:14|
But gently caress if I don't hate judging so the bloodthrone goes to Djeser
Congrats on the win! It was, by consensus, the most upper-mid in a smattering collection of upper-mids! Antivehicular, Thranguy, and Anomalous Blowout follow behind with some hms. Mr. Steak loses.
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 14:21|
Thunderdome Week 363: Face Our Gods and March Backwards Into Hell
When an Egyptian died, they would have to present themselves before forty-two gods, each of whom would judge whether they committed a certain crime. In these more civilized times, we only have three judges, and they mostly just worry about word crimes.
This week, you are going to take one of the forty-two gods of the underworld and use them as inspiration for your story. You don't have to use name AND place AND crime; use whatever bit calls to you. Don't go picking around the list like a buffet though, that's not polite. Choose a god when you sign up, or and I'll assign you one.
The theme this week is cycles. Seasons turn, history repeats itself, the past comes back to haunt you--interpret it however you'd like.
1200 words maximum, enter by 11 PM Pacific on Friday, submit by 11 PM Pacific on Sunday. All genres accepted.
due to td anniversary shenanigans the winner of this week will be judging not next week, but the week after next (first weekend in august)
Sitting in the Hall of the Two Truths:
The Honored Dead:
Saucy_Rodent - You of the darkness/the darkness/quarreling
Anomalous Amalgam - Lord of truth/Maaty/stealing bread
Mr. Steak - Pale one/Heliopolis/babbling
Getsuya - You of the altar/the secret placed/hoodwinking
Pham Nuwen - Temsep/Busiris/conjuration against the king
Pepe Silvia Browne - Owner of faces/Nedjefet/impatience
Flerp - Double lion/the sky/destruction of food
Sitting Here - You who acted willfully/Tjebu/wading in water
Black Griffon - Serpent with raised head/the cavern/dishonest wealth
Solitair - Eater of entrails/house of thirty/perjury
Uranium Phoenix - Far strider/the abyss/unhearing of truth
MockingQuantum - Owner of faces/the dusk/unhearing of truth
Thranguy - See whom you bring/House of Min/misbehavior
derp - Owner of horns/Asyut/volubility of speech
sparksbloom - Blood-eater/the shambles/killing a sacred bull
Siddhartha Glutamate - Wanderer/Bubastis/eavesdropping
Ironic Twist - Owner of faces/Nedjefet/impatience
Nikaer Drekin - Hot-foot/the dusk/neglect
Yoruichi - Owner of horns/Asyut/volubility of speech
sebmojo - Water-smiter/the abyss/being loud-voiced
Obliterati - Bringer of your offering/Sais/unduly active
Drunk Nerds - Bone breaker/Herakleopolis/lying
Antivehicular - Face behind him/cavern of wrong/copulating with a boy
Simply Simon - Bestower of good/the harpoon nome/doing ...?
Vinestalk - Bestower of powers/the city/making distinctions for self
Choose from this list:
THE GOD WHO COMES FROM WHO JUDGES Far-strider Heliopolis falsehood Fire-embracer Kheraha robbery Nosey Hermopolis rapaciousness Swallower of shades the cavern stealing Dangerous one Rosetau murder Double lion the sky destruction of food Fiery eyes Letopolis crookedness Flame came forth backwards stealing offerings Bone breaker Herakleopolis lying Green of flame Memphis taking food You of the cavern the West sullenness White of teeth Fayum transgression Blood-eater the shambles killing a sacred bull Eater of entrails House of Thirty perjury Lord of truth Maaty stealing bread Wanderer Bubastis eavesdropping Pale one Heliopolis babbling Doubly evil Andjet disputing Wamenty-snake place of execution adultery See whom you bring House of Min misbehaviour Over the Old One Imau terrorizing Demolisher Xois transgressing Disturber Weryt being hot-tempered Youth Heliopolitan nome unhearing of truth Foreteller Wenes making disturbance You of the altar the secret place hoodwinking Face behind him cavern of wrong copulating with a boy Hot-foot the dusk neglect You of the darkness the darkness quarreling Bringer of your offering Sais unduly active Owner of faces Nedjefet impatience Accuser Wetjenet damaging a god's image Owner of horns Asyut volubility of speech Nefertem Memphis wrongdoing, beholding evil Temsep Busiris conjuration against the king You who acted willfully Tjebu wading in water Water-smiter the abyss being loud voiced Commander of mankind your house reviling God Bestower of good the harpoon nome doing ...? Bestower of powers the city making distinctions for self Serpent with raised head the cavern dishonest wealth Serpent who brings and gives the silent land blasphemy
Djeser fucked around with this message at 01:30 on Jul 21, 2019
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 14:50|
In with you of the darkness
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 14:56|
In, Lord of Truth
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 14:56|
pale one who came from heliopolis and judges babbling
Mr. Steak fucked around with this message at 15:28 on Jul 15, 2019
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 15:06|
In and for fun random times.
(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 15:12|
In and for fun random times.
You of the altar, who comes from the secret place, who judges hoodwinking.
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 15:15|
In with Temsep, who comes from Busiris, who judges conjuration against the king
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 15:18|
In, with Owner of faces, who comes from Nedjefet, and judges impatience.
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 15:35|
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 15:36|
|# ? Oct 2, 2022 19:10|
This is the worst loving thing in the universe. God i hate this so loving much. I screamed “shut the gently caress up” multiple times in these. Like ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh i dont even have the words for how much i hate this.
Like, this is all really painfully obvious jokes and it doesnt lean into its ridiculousness to actually be funny. I was worried i just lost my sense of humor, but no, after reading the other stories, this was just painful. Like, all of the jokes are lazy. You didnt try to surprise us. Like, you did a literal jumping over the shark. Did you think that was actually funny???
This reminds me a lot of Jay’s old Hanna-Barbera's Stool, which is not a positive. It’s a story that is aggressively painful to read, but is probably fun to do a dramatic reading of.
And can i just say one thing. This line
It sounds like a joke, but the Hot Green Biddies’ most sacred holiday really was called Bang-ksgiving.
Is wrong. It doesn’t sound like a joke. IT IS A JOKE. like, it is literally a joke you added into the story. Like, your story is wink-wink irrelevant bullshit, haha look how wacky pulp sci-fi is, and now youre trying to actually sell me believability? gently caress
gently caress off/10
Good news, this is a lot better than rodent’s. Bad news, this is still pretty boring. For a return to meta new york or whatever, this is awfully disappointing in that it doesnt actually try to do anything super funny or stupid. Like, it never gets too ridiculous, or too smart, or too anything. The noir voice is weak. It doesnt even feel like a parody of a noir voice. It’s not even close to a noir voice. Idk i felt like this story was just way too predictable and one note and kinda feels like your banking on the transgression of writing a meta story to make it funny, but it isnt, reallly. It’s mostly just dull uninteresting characters and your banking on things like poo poo slugs to make me laugh and i guess that’s kinda funny but everything else around is just pretty boring.
Too many characters, none of them interesting. A descent into madness is always an interesting premise, but the constant shifts between different moments of time dont quite work because it’s hard to get a feel of what has happened in each moment. The prose is pretty dull, it gets the work done, but not much else. It just feels like i dont have a particular reason to really like these characters. You just make the two characters gently caress and are like, ok, now you should like these two and hope they succeed! But i dont. I also feel like the whole insanity angle doesnt quite work because like, it’s maybe ghosts? But there’s no explanation, supernatural or others, why they go crazy. Like, one person says they feel like theyre being watched, but going from feeling like their being watched to murdering themselves and others, it doesnt work. I don’t feel connected to any of the characters or understand what’s happening.
This was like a really dull episode of one of those ghost hunter episodes for about 80% of the story. Like, pretty much all of this prose I imagined it being spoken by one of those narrators in those shows with the deep voice. This story is mostly a dull retelling of facts that dont really spark any real interest. It gets kind of interesting, because i like when horror gets focused on small details of wrongness, like a trapdoor always being opened. But, i think this falters because a lot of it is just a retelling of a place that isnt super interesting, and it really doesnt stand out from the sea of ghost houses that show up all the time in those lovely ghost shows. I also think the narration style disconnects us from the horror of the house. We don’t really get to see Rosa actually deal with or react to the supernatural stuff. I don’t think we need to be placed within Rosa’s perspective necessarily, but I think we do need to see more of Rosa’s actual thoughts outside of just being told what they are. Without a character to attach ourselves to, we dont get to engage with the horror with anything besides, hmmm yeah i guess it is kinda creepy that she died and all the bodies had the same teeth.
Good news, you pulled me away from Phoenix Wright with that intro, so it was good. I was actually super excited with this story because i thought it’d be my jam. Subtle reference to Rosa Flores, focus on the relationship between a mother and daughter(?), dead mom, emotions, everything i could ever want in a story. And then it kinda just like… petered out. Like, idk, it never felt clear what this story is about. I get the ending, the mom was a terrible paranormal investigator and then the kid followed in her footsteps to be a terrible paranormal investigator. But this is tonally inconsistent. Like, i think this is supposed to be funny? But i’m not sure. Ive already read a bunch of “funny” stories this weak, but this one, i cant rly tell. Also, the voice feels off. I cant tell if this narrator is a kid, a teenager, or an adult. Like, squirreling away in the garage to read all the mother’s stories feels like a kid thing to do, and the voice feels sort of childish and some things like sticking a stick up a vampire’s nose feels like a dumb kid thing, but it also feels like she’s self aware enough to not be a kid.
I was really just hoping that this story would take it’s subject matter more seriously. Like, idk, i feel like this story is just meandering about, trying to find the point. I think you need to hone on a few of these aspects and really explore them, whether it be the relationship between a kid and their mom, or between julio and the kid, or on the supernatural elements, or something. This feels like a mess.
I dont really get the itching either. Is she a zombie? That’s my guess. Even then, eh, i dont see how that changes anything except rosa flores is so bad at her job she doesnt recognize her kid is a zombie? But we already know she’s bad so idk.
ok bordering on bad/10
This is fine. I don’t particularly enjoy it, but i dont particuarly hate it. It’s just a meta-narrative about how an in-joke led to the destruction of the world, but i feel like that’s giving Rosa Flores way too much credit as an in-joke. Otherwise, idk, this is pretty fun, but it never really grows past just being a fun little riff on the idea that an in-joke can manifest into a world destroying thing. It’s fine, no real complaints, but it’s just a thing.
Good news, we have a nice story and a good ending. Bad news, together, they don’t work. I read the twist as it was reaching the conclusion, which made me think, hmmm, prob dont need the reveal, or at least, doing the reveal earlier so you can focus on the consequences of the real. But the problem with the ending is this hate closing the loop line. Like, there is no hate in this story? The people she killed arent like, anything. Like, they have literally no connection to this story. The concept of love is fine, and i understand that youre trying to do like an inversion of love and hate, but like, it doesnt line up correctly. Like, i can contort the kills to fit into the hate theme, but it feels like i have to do that willfully rather than it being natural. Idk, i feel like this concept works in theory, but the execution wasnt there. Like, where is the character’s hate?
The hate closing loop line actually like destroyed this entire story for me. I kept trying to contextualize it within the story, and i wanted to see like, maybe hate had a subtle part in this story, but it really didnt, and that line carried so much weight that, if it worked, it wouldve worked. But if it didnt work, it would make the whole story collapse. Too bad it didnt work
ok bordering on good/10
This is alright. I like the concept of a ghost investigating a house for ghosts and honestly, it seems like a better comedy concept than the rest of the comedy stories this week, so maybe a lil disappointing that u didnt actually make it a comedy. Otherwise, it’s a fine spooky story in that harmless urban story kind of way. I like the concept of, is the protag a ghost or not woooooooo we’ll never know. That really sells the urban story vibe. But an urban story like this isnt gonna win any accolades because it doesnt really do much? Like, it’s just like, spooky things are happening and the stories like, more spooky things will happen, the end! You don’t really pull anything else out of the spooky stuff except, yeah, it’s kinda creepy/silly that a ghost is investigating ur house for a ghost and thinks UR THE GHOST :O . Also yeah the ending was really bad. It was just like, to be continued!!!!!
Oh yeah i remember this story. I feel like i should line-by-line crit this because i feel like there’s a lot of small prose problems that periodically came up, whereas these are better for more macro decisions with the story. For the macro problems, i guess my main issue is that i feel like the character dynamic is set up with one of the characters “not having faith” but both of them are really just super gun-ho about fighting spirits and neither of them are like, oh yeah, i dont believe any of this. Otherwise, it’s mostly just fighting ghosts but idk i think the action goes on too long and we dont really have an investment in any of the characters so none of the action made me rly feel anything.
Ok, first thing’s first. Why did you include an extended scene of somebody asking the spirit like twenty inane questions and tap responses and what the gently caress were you actually thinking???? Did you think i wanted to read that? Spoiler, I DIDNT. What the actual gently caress you moron.
Ok anyways, this story feels like a prelude to a story that i dont know if i like. It has a light-hearted tone, not full comedic, and i kinda like that. I like the idea that a ghost wants to stay on earth to help their nephew do a school project. That sounds like a fun concept. So uh, why didnt you write that story instead of writing the intro to that story? Like, the intro is fine enough, but it doesnt do anything. Like, nothing’s resolved in this story because it’s just like, well, we know what she [/i]wants[/i] to do, but then u dont actually do that.
Pepe Silvia Browne
The problem here is that if you think about all the pieces of this story, it could be kinda interesting. Like Rosa Flores is dead because she dealt with ghosts and this guy comes in and poo poo happens and it’s kinda interesting, but idk, the prose doesnt lend itself to really any energy. I feel like you spent a lot of time in the intro and then didnt really know how to wrap everything. The ending is very “to be continued” and doesnt lead to anything meaningful. I think that’s the main problem, because i feel like the pieces here are alright, if the prose and pacing are on the weaker said, but there isn’t anything that pulls all the pieces together into a meaningful whole.
ok bordering on bad/10
I dont really get the beginning and the ending. Not like, i dont get what’s happening, but idk why u wrote them. Like, i think you wrote the intro as your lead in, then wrote the middle because you needed to explain everything, and then wrote the ending because oh yeah you had that intro. But like, i think there’s two things here. One, the intro/ending combo is not very interesting. And the middle isnt very interesting. BUT you have an interesting concept. You got a person holding around the severed zombified head of a paranormal investigator. That could be interesting, but instead, you write an intro and ending about two people i dont know or care about and then write a dull action scene in the middle and dont do anything with your ideas in any meaningful way. Pro tip: nobody cares how a decapitated head came to life, they just want to see the poo poo you can do with a reanimated decapitated head.
bad bordering on ok/10
Retelling of interesting things instead of having the interesting things happen. You should know better. I dont really get why this needs to be told to this person, and the whole manticore thrall thing couldve been interesting if it didnt get thrown into the story at the last minute. Like, contextualizing the story as somebody trying to convince somebody to get out of the spell of a manticore would probably be better (and also that he’s rosa’s son or w/e, i forgot that detail). Like, even in the beginning, i was like, why is this guy telling this story to somebody? Like, he’s just talking to a stranger at the open bar at a funeral and telling them all of this poo poo in this amount of detail? If you provided that context earlier it would 1) remove those thoughts and 2) make me view the story in a different light and understand that the character is trying to do something more than just say, hey, here’s some poo poo me and Rosa Flores did. Oh yeah and also, maybe instead of telling me all the cool stuff that happened, you could just have that stuff happen. Idk if i said that yet.
This is the best concept of this week, and it’s nice enough, but it meanders too much in the beginning and, because of that, the resolution goes too quickly. Like, rosa flores is just like, im making u die, the gatherer is like noooooooo and she’s like actually gonna do it, and the gatherer is like nooooooo, and she does it, the gatherer keeps saying no, and then they both die thank god stay dead forever rosa. It gets too preachy near the end of the story and the story really likes beating me over the head with the whole “stop whining about dying relatively peacefully you piece of poo poo.” and idk, i kinda liked it when i read it, but now when i think idk i dont really like that resolution. Like, even if ur dying with people by your side, comfortable, that poo poo’s still scary af and the moral of the story being “well, actually, you shouldnt be scared of dying and you should feel bad for feeling that way” feels a lil vindictive. And maybe that’s the point, but it feels overly harsh.
ok bordering on good/10
You literally signed up the day of the deadline and you write this? Dont waste my time.
gently caress off/10 but honestly not even worth dming or making you lose
I like this as a joke story than as a serious piece. Yeah gently caress you rosa flores rot in hell
But no for real, this is a nice little prose piece and i do like how this speech is like “let’s celebrate rosa flores” and then turns into “actually gently caress this piece of poo poo” and that’s fun, but this isnt really a comedy piece so i think i got more fun at the idea of yelling at rosa flores than i prob should. This is kinda interesting, but it’s 400 words. It seems pretty neat but it fails to really show like, what rosa flores caused to change the world and what the world really is now. It’s kinda like, the world is different now in a vague way and one guy doesnt like it and rosa flores.
This one is… urgh. Like, there’s a decent intro, and there’s a cool ending. But like, the two dont go together at all. Character wants to find their online friend and then becomes a bee. I dont rly get it. Like, im gonna compare this to sh’s bee story, but in that story, the person wanted to become a bee for reasons we could clearly understand. This character just kinda ends up becoming a bee and is like, oh, that’s cool. But it fails to really bring anything to an end. It’s not exactly bad or good, which is fine, but i dont feel like anything is resolved. Like, nothing about the character wanted or didnt want to be a bee. So when the ending is, she’s a bee, it’s like, ok? Idk where that came from, but that’s kinda neat ig.
ok bordering on good/10
Did you forget about your other characters? Like, what was the point of the first like, half section of the story. Did you say to yourself, “man, i need to make it believable that a ghost would make talk to somebody” as if we needed an explanation? Because, spoiler, we do not. So we have a boring intro about getting a ghost to come into a police station that we really dont need. Then, we have a conversation between a ghost and an abused person and idk, the dialogue there is just not great. Neither of them have really any personalities, and the subject matter is well-trodden and while serious, it doesnt do anything new. So the dialogue is mostly boring and doing things ive already seen, but worse. So yeah, this is pretty weak, and doesnt do anything with it’s cliches to make them interesting or make the characters anything besides one-note.
|# ? Jul 15, 2019 15:36|