hell: ice pirates (no fire)
The hull creaks, but not by the motion of gentle waves. We feel the cold force its way into the ship, grip our muscles beneath cold-suits, build intricate lattices of ice on our visors.
"We made a mistake," says Emil.
The captain, sweating under his helmet, is quiet. Emil sits down on planks growing white with frost.
I look at our prize, sitting on a table on the middle of the main deck. The captain can't look at it, he's mumbling something, indecipherable from within his suit. He's startled by a crack from the hull. The ice enveloping the ship is growing greedier.
"Captain," I say, "We need to move now, or we're dead."
He mumbles, I look at him. We all have our hands in our pockets, but in mine, the grip around my pistol tightens.
"What's that, captain?"
He looks at me, eyes glassy.
"What if we did make a mistake?" he says.
I sigh, look away, Part of me knew it'd come to this. He never had the guts for the big jobs, never the ambition for the grand schemes.
I draw the pistol from my pocket, aim it at the captain, and pull the trigger.
On the grand, desolate expanse of ice where we're trapped, the sun sets, and the cold burrows deeper than we thought possible. I'm chained to the wall in the hold, and there's a leak in my suit. Maybe it was from Emil smashing the butt of his rifle into my back as the hammer of my gun whispered nothing, maybe it was from the crew throwing me down the stairs.
It doesn't matter, we're dead anyway. Even with our heated ram and iron flanks, we've stayed still for too long. Nothing will move us from this frozen hell, and I'm the only one who seems to accept it.
And for some reason, our ram won't heat.
Maybe Emil and the captain was right, maybe we did make a mistake. The minute the god fell from the sky, the second the carcass broke the ice, the air seemed grow colder. And then, my pistol, frost-proofed and of immaculate construction, misfired. Now the lanterns have gone out, and the hold grows darker.
A crack echoes throughout the ship, again, and I hear the footsteps of approaching crew.
"Hey!" I call out, "You have to listen to me."
I still have enough pride that I want to live. I've gotten out of terrible situations before, left other crews to die. I can get out of this one too. The guard, though, looks at me, scoffs.
"I don't have to do anything."
"Do you want to die out here?"
He looks uncertain, laughs nervously and mirthlessly.
"The captain will figure it out."
"The captain will kill us all."
"The captain has a plan," says the guard... Henrik?
"Henrik," I say, he doesn't react, I take that to mean I was right, "Why are the torches unlit?"
In the ever growing darkness, I see the glint of his eyes turn to even deeper fear.
"They... They won't light."
Emil and the captain were right, but they can't fix this.
"Henrik, we've made a mistake. You need to let me go, I need to fix this."
With a sword this time, not a gun.
Henrik looks behind him, and then at me. The fear sits in him now, as deep as the cold.
I strap the sword to my side in the darkness. Moonlight shines through the boards above me, perhaps the soft glow of an aurora. I look at Henrik, clap him on the shoulder.
"You can help me, or you can stay down here," I say.
He pulls his sword halfway from his sheath, inspects it, looks back at me.
"Someone needs to keep an eye on your suit," he says, "It's not a good patch job."
I smile at him and nod appreciatively, "It's good enough. Let's go."
The dark is a boon as we make our way to the main deck. Most of the crew we see seems paralyzed, we can see the suits moving with labored breath trying to conquer the cold, but it's like they're already given up.
Stealing the fire wasn't the only mistake I made, joining the crew in the first place was a terrible decision.
In the dark, in the cold-suit, no one recognizes a mutineer. A spark lights up the deck now and then as a crewmember attempts to light a lantern or get any kind of fire going, but it's all for naught. We reach the grand cabin, and I test the door without pause, it's unlocked.
"Keep watch," I say, and enter.
The glow of the divine heart is the first light I've seen in hours besides the lights of the sky. Its soft amber fills the cabin. The captain sits at his desk, hand softly caressing the heart. His helmet is off, though his cabin is unheated.
"I said, no interruptions," he says.
"I didn't get the message."
He turns to face me, rises from his desk, grips the heart with bone cold fingers. I'm already moving, closing the distance, sword drawn. Heart in left hand, he draws his sword and the sound of metal rings through the air. I'm forcing my body through practiced motions, it feels like I'm already dead, but still moving. I strike, and he deflects, advance, and he keeps pace. Despite his failings in all other aspects, he's a good swordsman. Then again, he shouldn't be alive without the helmet. Something is very wrong. His eyes never move from mine as we dance around the cabin, errant swings sending chips of ice careening through the air. His grip on the heart is so tight. I can the sludgy tiredness, the deadly cold, seep through my veins. I can feel my arm getting slower, only by a small amount, but enough of that and I'm dead. I hear the sound of metal on metal outside the cabin as well. More than two swords.
It's as my arm drops too much and his sword gouges my helmet cracking the glass and letting the cold in, that I get the idea. I've kept my eye on his eyes and his sword, kept pace with his advances and retreats, but that won't do it.
As he advances again, ready to finish it, I step to the side, crouch low, and stab towards his left hand. Just enough to nick the tendon. Just enough to make him drop the heart.
And as he does, the ice creeps up his face, he utters an unknowable sound, and he falls to the ground, eyes locked with mine.
I feel death gripping my exposed face, and I spend what feels like an eternity staring at the heart of fire before I pick it up.
And as the might of fire itself fills my body, I realize the captain's gravest mistake. The one that nearly cost us everything.
"Ambition," I say to myself as the lanterns light themselves and a soft roar fills my ears, "Fire is nothing without ambition."
The fight outside have ceases, they're ready for their new captain.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 02:37|
|# ? May 18, 2022 22:44|
Prompt: Existential Pirates
The Last Hurrah
The ship’s ponderous rocking nearly soothed Janey Pluck to sleep. The motion always comforted her, like being nestled against the world’s breast and feeling its pulse. She wished it made her queasy instead. Then there might not be a shackle chafing at her ankle.
If sailing made her ill, she would never have traveled to the colonies for a teaching job. She wouldn’t have been aboard a ship sacked by Bloody Bill Wallace, and certainly wouldn’t have been dragged to Bill’s cabin screaming and blubbering and spitting every curse she knew.
She wouldn’t have cowered in the corner of Bill’s cabin, terrified that he would slaughter her or worse, only to hear him apologize instead... right before she shoved the point of a letter opener into his shoulder. She wouldn’t have seen him yank out the blade and let loose a riotous laugh. She’d never be able to look back and realize that was the moment she fell in love with him.
She’d never join his crew and then become his partner, sacking Navy ships across the Caribbean together and living like demons on the spoils. He’d never get jealous after she spent a rum-fueled night in the company of Anne Bonny and strand Janey at the nearest port, forcing her to get her own ship and become three times the pirate she ever would have been under his wing.
A whole other life she’d never even know was possible. A grand one, too... until it caught up with her.
Admiral Beecher walked down to the brig, his polished boots clicking on each step. Janey grimaced. If she had to have company, she preferred the cockroaches that scuttled about.
“Well, Miss Pluck. You’ll be gratified to know it’s been three days of fine sailing and we’re well on schedule. Now we’re ready for you to do your part.”
“I don’t know what you expect me to tell you. I haven’t seen Bill Wallace in three years.”
The Admiral’s eyes gleamed. “Come, Janey, you must have heard something. Haven’t you been curious about what happened to him?”
A smile creeped across her face. “I’m insulted, Admiral. Here I thought you’d hunted me down for me, but you only wanted to bait the hook.”
Beecher lunged forward, squeezing the bars tight in his fists. “Do you know what he did at Port Antonio? Houses burning, people with limbs blown off. The jail wall blown open, murderers and rapists set loose among good English subjects. It all happened in the dead of night, but some native villagers said they saw a ship sail off flying a blood-red Jolly Roger. How many men do you know with those colors?”
Janey Pluck let out a long, slow sigh. “Very well. There’s a tiny island way out east, a spit of land that’s not even on half the charts. If Bill’s hiding anywhere, he’s there. Send your navigator down, I’ll give him the heading.”
“Well,” Beecher said with a smile, “apparently you do have a conscience. Keep it up and you may earn that pardon yet.” He dashed away in excitement, leaving her alone in the dark, dank miasma of memory.
They arrived on the island a week later, finding small stashes of food, gold, and weapons, but no trace of Bloody Bill Wallace. The Admiral went back below deck to find Pluck gnawing on a hunk of dry bread.
“Listen, pirate,” he snarled, “Wallace isn’t here, and the stores are untouched. Let’s hope your next lead bears more fruit – if you want to escape the gallows, that is.”
She gave him a sly stare, hands stretched out wide. “I never promised results, Admiral, that’s on you. All I have is information. But I do know there’s a pirate sanctuary on the western coast of Barbados. Long abandoned, of course, but to a wanted man that might be appealing.”
He stared at her for a long time, as if doubt was starting to worm its way through his brain. Whatever was in his head, he went back above deck without a word.
The seas grew rough on the next leg of their journey. Janey could feel her lifelong resistance to seasickness threaten to give way, though she forced herself to breathe deep and dispel the gathering nausea. Her dungeon was bad enough as is, it didn’t need to reek of sick. Not that she was given much to be sick on. Her rations of hardtack and water became slimmer and slimmer, and she doubted the sailors above fared much better.
Soon enough, the ship hurled her up and down with each wave, and she could hear the steady spatter of rain falling above decks. Little light streamed down to her anymore, and at last the ship came to a halt, bobbing up and down in place.
She waited for what felt like hours. Then Bentley walked down the steps again, rainwater dribbling from the points of his tricorn. He stood before her without speaking. Then he pulled the pistol from his belt, cocked it, and pointed it between her eyes. Then something changed in his face, and his hand wavered. He brought the gun down to his side.
“We’re a day away from reaching our destination. There’s a hurricane straight ahead. If it were up to me? We sail through it, risk be damned. But before I order my crew to chance their on a lark, I need to ask you again. Is there a real chance Bill Wallace might be at our destination?”
She sighed. “Fine, I suppose the game’s gone on long enough. A man I trust told me a year ago that Bill’s ship was sacked by French privateers who tore his crew to ribbons and shot him dead on the spot. Now, that could all be a wild rumor. Perhaps he’s alive and well and waiting for us to find him. But I have a feeling...”
“A feeling!” Bentley lashed out, kicking at her cell bars. “What about the villagers, eh? The Jamaicans! Why would they lie about the red Jolly Roger?”
“That story sent you and the best English troops in the garrison off on a pirate hunt, leaving them a nice, lengthy window for whatever they please. Maybe even a rebellion. Why not? If they lied it was a damned brilliant lie.”
He drew his pistol again. “I ought to shoot you now. Hanging’s better than you deserve.”
“Go ahead. I’ve humiliated the British crown one last time. A fitting end to a fine career, Bentley, and lucky you – you get to play the final note.” She closed her eyes, ready for the blast of fire and agony. Instead, the pistol clattered to the floor, and footsteps clambered back up the stairs. She heard the door open and slam shut.
All alone, surrounded by nothing but darkness and cockroaches, Janey Pluck leaned against the bars and laughed until her throat was sore. She laughed and laughed as the ship lurched forward and sailed towards the storm, vaulting up and over each wave, timbers quaking in the icy shadow of fate.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 03:18|
Hellrule: Asteroid Pirates, all of your characters are illiterate.
The proximity alarms blare out, singing a shrill hymn. The ship coming in is fast, sleek, reeks of money, and– captain Proxima smiles to herself, is dangerously low on fuel, judging by the sound of the engine. The rest of the crew watches the grainy camera feed, waiting for that familiar muffled thump of ship making contact with asteroid surface.
She touches her sonar staff to the floor, grabbing a quick scan of the base layout, piped in to the ancient a/v rig she wears over one eye. Her boys are poised and ready, waiting for the go ahead. She can feel 48 hours’ worth of cheap stimulants burning through her system, and she smiles. It’s the same old dance, but every partner is new.
“Have at ‘em me harties!”
The base doors his open and the motors in her prosthetic leg whine slightly as she charges out into the frigid coldness of space. A quick touch of the sonar staff to update the visual feed, the crew moving with clockwork efficiency. The poor merchants never stood a chance. She strides lazily up the ships landing ramp, pausing to put a stray charge into the head of someone her sonar feed tells her was hell-bent on running. A familiar shape flutters to touch down on her shoulder as she walks through and observes the aftermath.
“Ajax!” She barks
Almost at once the parrot’s voice squawks into her ear with a note of barely disguised contempt
“Yes, O captain my captain?
Her hand strays to the handle of her vorpal cutlass, stayed by a brief moment of reflection.
“Twenty-two crates, contents unknown. Shipping logs indicate the ship is a commercial vessel, bound for the Market Hub on Ix. It is trading season, after all” The bird adds dryly in her ear.
“Anymore lip out of you, I’ll turn that beak of yours into a bottle opener.” She hisses. On her feed the bird’s ghostly sonar-outline dips its head in a mock bow.
She walks over to inspect the cargo, running her hand over the braille bumps: R-G-E-N-A-D X-L-O-P-V-I-S-E-E
“What do we have here?” She mutters quietly. Ajax once again in her ear:
“Seems to be platinum M’lady” The parrot hisses.
“Platinum my eye! Any of your tricks and I’ll have your guts for garters.” She whistles sharply. A member of her crew appears almost ex nihilo on her feed, and she frowns and makes a note to check the input latency when she has a moment to herself.
“Take a crate back to the base” she narrows her eyes at Ajax “carefully” She hears the sound of a crate being dragged, accompanied by muttered grumbling. She turns her head to look at the operation. Two of her crew carrying a crate. She frowns at a sign on the wall, colored a bright yellow: I-M-D-N E-T-H A-G-P. A muffled shout reaches her ears and she sees the crate hit the floor. A weight leaves her shoulders in a flutter of wings.
“Sometimes, dearest, God truly does play dice”
The blast is sudden and sharp, a supernova in reverse, the intensity burning out her sonar implant. She doesn’t even have time to formulate a scream.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 03:20|
Sinking pirates (no arms)
Elina’s first task as Imperial auditor was to bring a pirate captain to justice. An undercover mission, Elina got on as a quartermaster.
Two days into the voyage, the captain addressed the crew at dinner. “You all have joined me, though you knew it not, on my last journey.”
Elina felt the captain staring at her. His toothy smile betrayed nothing to her.
“Yes,” he continued, hugging his partner close. “It is time to retire. But not after one last mighty haul. Let’s make it a good one, yes?”
The cheers shook the ship’s aged boards. A chorus of hoorays and the drum of stomps nearly concealed the sound of the explosion.
Numbness and water waited for Elina when she came to. Her arms lay beneath her, bloodless and heavy. Her right shoulder throbbed. Dislocated, she thought. She was the first of the crew to wake up; water seeping in had tickled her feet, jolting her alert.
“Elina, you’re awake. Elina look at me.”
The captain stood with a flintlock pistol pointed to his breast. No sooner had she sussed his intentions did he pull the trigger, adding more distractions to an already chaotic mess.
Elina’s consciousness flickered in and out, blinking like a child. “Captain.”
“Yes, Elina. You were never going to catch me alive. Piss on your empire.”
The groans of the crew began to annoy Elina. Each one sent a pang of hot anger into her numb hands. What a waste to kill an entire ship’s complement just to spite a lowly auditor like Elina. She stumbled to a crouch, looked over the nearest crew member, a cook, she thought. Arms tied. She knelt on the cook’s chest until she woke up.
“Get off, fucker. Jesus.”
“I need your help.”
“Is that the captain? The captain’s dead?”
Elina nodded. “He barred the door to the main deck. And there’s nothing but water below.”
The cook’s breathing changed, her eyes spiraling around the room, failing to find anything sane to latch onto. Elina remembered when her father made her and her brother watch their pet dog die. The tongue coming out, the panicked breaths. “It’s okay,” she said.
Using her foot, Elina dragged a crew member out of the rising water. She looked around. Nub, second-in-command, now leaned over the captain’s corpse. He and Elina locked eyes.
“Why didn’t he kill me, too? I thought he loved me,” Nub said.
The ship rocked and leaned to one side. Elina righted herself unconsciously. “He did all this, Nub. Won’t be much longer now, if death’s your yen.”
“He said he was going to kill me first.” Nub lay down and rested his head on the captain’s still bleeding chest.
A gust of fear shook Elina. Adrenaline coiled in her heart and she stomped towards the door leading out of the hold. The large bosun, Meka, rammed into it, then looked back at Elina.
“Kick it,” she said, nodding to Meka’s swollen shoulder. They took turns. Water now leaked in from the ceiling; the gunwale was underwater. Meka kicked, stumbled, slid towards the side of the ship.
Elina called to him. “Any boards you’ve been neglecting to patch up?”
Meka struggled to his feet. He nodded to the side of the ship that had taken on the most water. “That side, rotted plank. Might be able to reach it with a boost.”
“Is that an offer?”
The bosun shrugged. “I like this ship. I like living. Maybe you can help me up.”
Elina nodded and the two waded into the rising water. Meka was tall enough for Elina to get on his shoulders without going under.
With a slight hop, Elina got her torso onto the main deck. She hooked her knee on a beam and rolled the rest of herself up.
“A rope, or anything?” Meka shouted from below. He seemed to be treading water, now.
“How will you climb it?”
“At least let me try.”
Elina scrambled around the main deck wanting to scream. The physical weight of the vast sea around her blotted out rational thought. So she did scream, and she cried. She heard Meka and the others yelling too.
She cursed the captain, for ignoring justice and throwing away so many lives. She cursed her handler for not explaining just how unhinged the captain was. She cursed herself for not being able to help Meka.
She cursed and cried and ranted until she was floating face down in an empty sea, wishing the ship had taken her down with it.
Elina kicked her legs and flipped over, to confront the other endless blue of the sky. Floating between these two unknown vastnesses left her alone and ashamed. She had survived, in an atavistic fury.
And though her task could not be completed with no pirates to bring before a court, she could at least tell their story, recount the humanity she found on the sea.
During her ruminations, she had ignored the fin of a hunter, circling her at a respectful distance. Elina cried out and kicked as the fin approached. A rush of water and scales and teeth swept her under for a brief moment. In a panic, Elina started flailing her arms. She shouted--her arms were free.
But the shark, her only companion now, did not resurface.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 03:49|
General All-Ham's Gambit
Fat Pirates, Everything is Melting
Somehow, people got on the wrong side of the great Baker, and one day the oven temperature began to rise, unending. Now, with the world coming to an end, three pirates who were once hated enemies, have banded together in pursuit of safe harbor for the end of days. Trying times called for unique alliances, and the hunt for the Garden of Eatin’ was the quest that brought these loathsome corsairs together.
General All-Ham clasped a porcine mitt around one of his waffle-battered looking-cones and squeezed out a syrupy focusing bubble that dripped onto the protruding balloon that was his leather clad belly.
Out in the distance, a lone verdant island stood defiant against the encroaching velvet orange ooze of the Velveeta Sea. A lone skeletal freebooter stood guard protecting the world’s last real treasure with a massive pearl-inlaid fork and knife set at the ready.
Widely considered a myth, the Garden of Eatin’ was a pure place, untouched by the taint of GMOs, artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup. A place safe from the coming roast.
All-ham ate his looking scope and thick rivulets of syrup burst from the corners of his mouth and dribbled over his chins. He turned towards the crew, locking eyes with The Bratwurst Baroness, Adeleine Fogbottom.
She dipped a sausage from her lasso of endless links into All-Ham’s gravy goblet and devoured it with a jowl jostling bite.
Mouth still full of partially chewed meat, she pressed All-Ham for details on what he saw.
“Well, is that traitor Mr. Split alive?” the Baroness said, flinging gravy covered meat chunk all over the deck.
“Lithe as a wee lass and bony as a yard chicken, but aye, Ms. Fogbottom, Mr. Split does live, and it seems he be expecting us.”
The hull of the ship began to vibrate, and the tortilla strip planks of the deck flaked as the corpulent berserker, Captain Porkind, climbed out of an oversized hatch.
“If Mr. Split be dead ahead, then what’s the hold up?” Porkrind barked before leaning against the hull to wheeze from the exertion of climbing.
All-ham turned to his brother in annoyance, gut swaying in the stressed leather. "Use your head, Porkind! Mr. Split be waiting for us. Even the seas of cheese be right afraid of the Garden of Eatin', there be actual water there, and Mr. Split ain't the same either. Got something spooky and clean about 'im.”
“I had a look through my scope and wasn’t impressed. Got him some nice new shiny eaters, but he’s lost all his umph, what’s he going to do to us like that? I never thought I’d live to see the day that my brother, General All-Ham, tyrant of the Gouda Strait, Warlord of the Mild and Sharp, quivered in his boots over a traitorous slime turned leaf eater. LEAVES for crying out loud!”
All-Ham paid his brother Porkrind no mind and instead focused his attention back on that lush green isle.
“We near the Garden of Eatin’, and our Tacobowl has become too soggy with cheese. This is the end of the line. We won’t be leaving back on this ship.”
“All the more reason to get it over with.” Porkrind said as he hefted a huge shish kebab skewer, slick with a patina of grease, onto his shoulder.
Fogbottom and All-Ham tried to reason with Porkrind, but the gelatinous warrior was determined.
He lowered himself into a crisp shelled dinghy and ladled himself to the island where a column of sea water created a barrier against the cheese.
All-Ham and Fogbottom looked on from new looking cones as Porkrind waded into the water and plodded onto the island.
Viscous strands of cheese and grease grime pulled from his boots onto the fresh butter leaf foliage of the island.
All-Ham and Fogbottom couldn’t hear what was being said when Porkrind finally met up with the vigilant Mr. Split, but they did see Porkrind make a foolish attack on Mr. Split.
Mr. Split parried with his fork, and used the flat end of his knife to send Porkrind flying back into the sea.
Fogbottom looked over at All-Ham who watched his brother sink headfirst into the deep cheese.
“I told that fool.” All-Ham said, “I’ll go next, but I don’t intend to fight.”
“We should go together, with the oven set to cleanse, we’ll all be roasted anyhow if Mr. Split doesn’t let us on the island. Maybe he’ll be more empathetic if we both go.”
All-Ham considered Fogbottom’s words and nodded in agreement.
The two lowered into the cheese on separate dinghies and ladled their way to the island as Porkrind had before them.
They abandoned their prized weaponry, the Lasso of Endless Links, the Gauntlet of Forbidden Condiments, and the Goblet of Unending Gravy in sight of Mr. Split, his own banana pontoons rotted relics on the beach front.
“Mr. Banan, Banan A. Split, hear our desperate plea for safe harbor. The world is ending… the Baker has set the dial to cleanse. Several cities have already roasted in full. First there was the oozing, the constant sweating, the fabric clinging, body permeating heat. Incessant and debilitating.” Baroness Fogbottom cried out.
“We have forsaken the source of our power so that we might be like you… healthy. Please… there is no other safe place, that you’ve found the Garden of Eatin’ is nigh miraculous itself.” All-Ham remarked, “You’ll be needing others for the end of the world, mate.”
Mr. Split stood and silently blinked at them.
“What will it take, what do we have to do!?” Fogbottom begged.
“You must partake of the leaf, you must dedicate mind and body to wholesome nourishment. You must change the way you live.” Mr. Split finally answered.
“I’ll do it… Whatever it takes.” Fogbottom said taking a bundle of leaves and vegetables from Split’s hands.
She ate them ravenously and began to transform in front of All-Ham. Fat sloughing off in folds, oozing out of her blanket like gown and dissipating into the sand below.
Mr. Split provided her a new robe and under the sand at her feet was a pearl-inlaid set of cutlery to match his.
Fogbottom joined split and they both turned to All-Ham.
“You must partake of the leaf, you must dedicate mind and body to wholesome nourishment. You must change the way you live.” They recited in unison, holding out a fresh salad for All-Ham to eat.
He took it, and just as he was about to shove the leaves into his mouth, he slid out a bottle of Fat-Free Ranch from his ruffled cuffs and squeezed the contents onto the leaves that he then let cascade in creamy globules down his throat.
Split and Fogbottom looked on in abject terror as All-Ham licked his lips clean.
“Now that… was a salad.”
The fat began to melt away from his body, but then stopped about half-way. No pearl-inlaid silverware awaited him, but he made it. He beat the odds and found his way into new health in the Garden of Eatin’.
The world around him would become a crisp landscape for these new chosen people, and like a square wheel for a wagon, he was clearly an out of place impostor, but the rules were the rules. He partook of the leaf and would forever be the overweight uncle ready to tempt his familial cohorts with indulgent vice.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 04:39|
Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:53 on Jan 1, 2020
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 04:55|
They used to say that once the world ended, nothing would be left except cockroaches and Keith Richards. Well, Keith Richards died pretty quickly when England was vaporized, but the cockroaches are doing okay.
When the world did actually end, people just sort of lay around confused for a while. After all, there was nothing else to really do but wait and see what happened. Most people who survived the initial stage of the apocalypse were pretty apathetic about their futures, and overall hygiene reflected that. Freed from both the need to preserve their health and safety, and from having to do the socially acceptable thing for their neighbors and actually pick up their trash, people just let the refuse pile up. With no water for washing, there didn’t seem to be much point in trying to keep anything clean.
I wouldn’t say people forgot about cockroaches- many of us got eaten- but we stopped being a problem pretty much as soon as people realized they had no future. Humans were too busy losing teeth and melting into protoplasmic goo to care about a few roaches in their kitchens.
The problem for humanity here, of course, is that the radiation and the pollution and the toxic waste was all very fatal for them, but very nourishing for us. I remember my first conscious thought- it was hey, my back hurts- and took me almost twenty minutes to realize I was thinking at all. About twenty minutes after that, I was furiously mating with a very nice female from two streets over, and by the end of the hour, I had joined a gang. Hey, roaches don’t live long, even now.
You couldn’t possibly pronounce the name of our organization, so I’ll just call us The Gang. We were a bunch of rowdy recent mutants who wanted to have a little fun before we went out. After all, there were piles of food and nobody cared about squishing us—who wouldn’t want to party? Some of us were getting bigger than people, too, which made running around the human settlements even funnier.
Yeah, it was all fun and games until the other gangs started to form. I’d say there were at least five major cockroach gangs operated in my area by the end of that first day. Most of them didn’t have a mind towards mischief and merriment, like we did. A lot of them really just existed to kill and torture humans. Now, I can’t say that I blame them for wanting people dead, because I’m also a roach and I’m not goddamn stupid, but murder has never exactly been The Gang’s goal. Plus, we were running out of good stuff to find on land.
So, we took to the sea.
Stealing a boat was easy. Figuring out how to work it was easy. Navigating? Uhh…look, suddenly gaining chemical supersentience is great, but it doesn’t exactly give you a working knowledge of geography, especially since a lot of the landforms were basically full of holes by then. But, hey, we had a boat and a coastline to follow, so we sailed around for a bit. It looked like lots of humans had tried to escape by fleeing in the water, and their vessels were just floating treasure hoards.
I can’t remember who pointed out that we could take all the stuff people liked, such as shiny rocks and green paper, and trade it to any living humans for things like toenail clippings and other treats. All I remember is that this idea kept us busy for almost a full morning, stripping bodies of their valuables and organizing everything to get ready for trade. We were pretty excited about it!
Then everything went to poo poo.
We came across a huge vessel, white as whipped cream. Even after a few days of abandonment, it looked pristine. The sides were so massive, no one but a cockroach would have been able to scale them. We all climbed out of the boat and made our ways up the sides, looting sacks in our auxiliary hands, eager for plunder.
Unfortunately, we’d found the one boat in the harbor that wasn’t a loving grave. Not only were these people alive, they looked rich and sleek and well-cared for, sunning their stupid selves under a sky with no sun. They were pretty upset when they saw a legion of man-sized roaches breach the walls of their floating pleasure garden, and while I don’t blame them, I do think what happened next was unjustified.
The male had a gun, and he ripped several of my compatriots apart before we could even try and communicate. He literally blew one female from limb-to-limb as she stood there stunned, just as terrified of him as he was of her. It took us a moment to react, but when we did, it was chaos: some hardcore man-on-bug action, feelers and teeth and fingers and thoraces flying everywhere. They fought hard, and they had a gun, but there were three of them and many, many more of us, more than they could even see. The Gang won in a matter of minutes.
I was the one who found the navigation room. I’d filled my bag and was looking around for more when I heard human voices coming from a small black box: “Ted? Martha? Ted, come in, buddy! You guys okay? You missed check-in.” A pause, then a burst of static. “God, I hope you’re okay. Look, if you can hear this, but can’t respond, the group is moving farther away from shore. We’ve been hearing some pretty crazy stuff about insects mutating and, well…we’re just going to stay in the water for a while. Here are the coordinates.” He said some numbers, then added, “Write this down! I’ll say it again.”
But I don’t know how to write, I wished I could say. The man on the radio said the numbers two more times, said he would see us soon, then disappeared.
That’s when I saw the map, and the chart with the numbers. Coordinates. See you soon. The humans were all going to one place? The stuff on this boat was incredible; if they were meeting other humans like them…
So that’s where we are now: three days into the human apocalypse, hundreds of times larger and smarter than we used to be, and sailing in the big whipped-cream boat towards what I wager will be a pretty lucrative raid. Other roaches can keep picking up crumbs on the land- The Gang will strip the seas clean of shiny things and food. We’ll keep sailing together, raiding the waters and trading on land. There may not be a place even for us roaches for much longer, but as long as there is, we’ll keep our merry band alive! If I could sing, I would.
Suck it, Keith Richards.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 05:04|
More News From Nowhere
Prompt: Ancient Greek Pirates
There was a storm in the air, as what had once been a fishing vessel bobbed on the wine-dark sea. Tophoros, captain of the small crew of brigands who had stolen the ship the previous year, was laying out food on the table in his cramped cabin. Bread, cheese, some cured meat. He poured a measure of wine into a kylex, then muttered a prayer to Castor and Pollux, inviting them to his table in return for protection from the storm. Ritual completed to his satisfaction, he stepped out onto the deck of his little ship.
Lightning crackled through the sky and the clouds opened up. Tophoros took cover beneath an awning, and started unconsciously playing with the medallion that hung around his neck, running his fingers over the word carved into it. He was soon joined by Chrysippus, his first mate.
“Think it’s an ill omen?” asked Chrysippus.
“The storm?” he answered.
“No. It just means they won’t be expecting us.”
Tophoros looked up, and saw what looked like two tongues of blue flame sprouting on the mast of their ship. He nodded, satisfied. The twin gods must have enjoyed the meal.
His appreciation of the flames was cut short as he heard Polybius shout, calling the crew’s attention to something that he had spotted. The five others rushed to Polybius’ side. Despite the driving rain, on the horizon they could all see a huge hulking shape, rowing implacably through the storm. Waves broke across its hull, barely reaching a third of the way up the sides of the massive wooden ship. Its immense prow was carved in the shape of a bearded, blindfolded face with tusks jutting out from the lower jaw. The uppermost deck, painted a deep blue, was supported not by columns, but by beautiful statues of Atlas. The Ploutosia. Perhaps the largest ship ever constructed, and certainly the largest any of the pirates had ever seen, it carried a vast cargo, nearly a thousand crew members and—of most concern to Tophoros—at least two hundred soldiers. Impossible to overcome in a straight fight, their plan was to pull up behind the behemoth, lash their ship to its side and slip aboard before anyone could notice them. With luck, the storm would provide them with all the cover they needed to approach their enormous quarry.
Their small ship pulled up alongside Ploutosia. Up close, it was somehow even larger than any of them realised. Ploutosia’s back end was slick with rain, but the horsehair and pitch coating, intended to keep the ship free of barnacles and other parasites, made it easy for them to scale. Tophoros heaved himself onto one of the lower decks, and was soon joined by Polybius and Chrysippus. The brothers, Timaeus and Critias, were next up and then Tessarakonteres appeared, bringing up the rear.
Nobody was in sight, but they could hear the chattering of people approaching. Timaeus and Critias, brothers, drew their short knives and leaned casually against the side of the boat, while the others took cover. Two guards came into view. They didn’t react, taking no notice of the muscle-bound siblings. One of the few benefits of having such a large crew, Tophoros supposed, was that seeing someone you didn’t recognise wasn’t out of the ordinary. The moment the hapless guards passed by and presented their backs to them, Timaeus and Critias slid their knives into the unguarded kidneys, then efficiently heaved the dying men over the side. The splatter of blood would be washed away by the rain before long, but Tophoros knew they had to be quick to avoid discovery.
Before long, they came to the ship's cavernous hold. They hadn't crossed paths with any more guards, or even any crew members. The ship seemed almost empty. The hold itself was even unguarded. Tophoros chalked it up to good luck, or successful prayer. The hold was filled with goods. He knew what they were after, but wasn't sure where it would be. Fortunately enough, it quickly became obvious. Among the clay jars, wooden chests and piles of supplies, sat a massive box forged from black volcanic glass, inlaid with intricate glyphs of gold and some other metal that Tophoros didn’t recognise.
As he drew closer, Tophoros could hear a susurration coming from somewhere. At first he thought it was from the box, but as he got closer it surrounded him, sounding like it was coming at him from all around. He thought back to the smoke-filled taverna where he’d first heard rumour of the treasure he was about to plunder. Halieus, the old one-eyed sailor who told him the story, warned him about what might happen should things go wrong, threatening him with wreck and ruin, but he knew that if he could get away with it, the ocean would become his own personal playground. The brothers had been left at the door to the hold, but Chrysippus and Tessarakonteres were rifling through the other treasures contained in that vast hold.
He whispered another short prayer, then lifted the lid.
Inside the box was a head, much larger than that of any human’s since before Deucalion’s flood—if ever. Glyphs, like the ones laid into the obsidian, were carved all over its hairless flesh, the runnels filled with what looked like flows of ink, constantly in motion. Its lips were moving and the whispering filled his ears, drowning out even the sounds of the ocean and the pelting rain. Its eyes, each the size of a dekadrachm, were completely white and rolled restlessly around their sockets.
The head of Halios Geron.
Polybius, who had stuck close behind Tophoros, reached down hesitantly and touched its forehead. He collapsed immediately, frothing at the mouth, eyes as white as the head’s—and almost as wide.
Tophoros was disturbed, but not surprised, and had come prepared. He undid the thong holding the medallion around his neck, and slipped the metal disc into the head’s mouth. Its eyes immediately stilled, and Tophoros got the feeling that they were staring into his own. He shivered, and closed the lid. He expected the whispering to quiet down, but the volume seemed to increase, and it felt like he could almost make out the words now.
“Chrys, Teres, get over here. I need you to help me lift this thing,” he hissed over his shoulder, struggling to make himself heard over the whispering. He heard their footsteps as they approached, while he tested the box to see if it would be easy to move. It was, as he had expected, really loving heavy. He felt his crewmates’ hands on his shoulders and the whispering raised to a crescendo.
“Wha—” They spun him around, he saw their eyes had turned white, and he heard the lid of the box swing open behind him. He felt himself falling and unfolding.
Ploutosia rowed on, implacable against the wind and the waves, the little ex-fishing vessel dragging along in its wake.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 07:31|
1200 words - confused pirates
Captain Beatriz Concepción balanced on the prow of the tender, expertly riding the wake of the Jubilee. The small craft pulled away from the towering, double-masted ship, her rowers heaving hard. Before them loomed a mass of forbidding black basalt, jagged cliffs black as Hell’s heart: Pederneira Island. Home to the treasure she’d sought for years.
The cove was just where her weathered map said it was, an inlet concealed from seaward eyes unless approached from just the right angle to the west.
Beatriz left her crew to set up camp, taking her trusted first mate Alonso and proceeding on foot.
Blacker than even the island’s stone, the opening of a cave leered at her, jagged as a mouth full of broken teeth. She ordered Alonso to strike up a torch and proceeded inside.
Captain Henrietta Valice considered her map in the shadows of the Pied Shag’s sails. The dinghy she sat upon wobbled unsteadily, nearly causing her to tumble rear end-over-pegleg into the frothy sea. Fortunately she righted herself just in time, catching a mouthful of her own windborne blonde locks.
“For God’s sake,” she snapped at her loyal mate, Caddock.
Caddock began to row them toward the only landmass in sight: a big basalt blob.
“Captain,” said Caddock slowly. “Are you suuure—”
Henrietta rolled up the map and brought it down upon the first mate’s head like he were a dog in want of a newspaper.
“If you were meant to question my judgment you’d be wearing my hat.”
A narrow lagoon hove into view as they rode a rolling wave toward the island.
Excitement rose in her throat. Living well was the best revenge, they said, and boy would she be living well with forty chests of stolen Spanish gold warming the cockles of her crooked pirate heart. For a moment she felt a stab of regret. She smothered it quickly.
Caddock secured the dinghy on the lagoon’s pebbly basalt beach.
“Your future awaits you, Captain,” he said.
They proceeded on foot, following the twists and turns upon the weathered parchment. They scaled a jungle-tangled hillock, ducked beneath plump vibrant spiders, and at last came upon a narrow, lightning bolt-shaped cave. Slipping into the narrow, jagged passageway, Captain Henrietta fearlessly led the way.
The treasure of Pederneira Island, it was rumoured, lay in a secret smuggler’s lair within the basalt heart of the volcano itself. Henrietta’s heart leapt as she stepped through a weathered wooden gate, into a torchlit cavern whose floor glittered with gold.
Three things happened at once:
A boot planted itself firmly upon Henrietta and kicked her up the arse.
A voice that was not her own cried out in surprise.
With a tremendous rumble, the weathered wooden gate slammed closed.
Falling onto her hands and knees in a heap of golden coins, Henrietta spun to face the gate. She was going to flay the skin off—
Someone had been thrown into the cavern beside her. A woman, judging by the spray of dark hair upon the doubloon-littered floor. Stumbling, Henrietta lifted her still-sputtering torch and held it aloft.
Below her upon a bed of stolen gold sat her ex-girlfriend, Captain Beatriz Concepción. Colour drained from her dusky face as their eyes met.
“You,” Henrietta hissed. But hers was a heart capable of nurturing many petty malices, so she turned toward the gate first.
Caddock stood behind it, peering at her through the bars. Beside him stood Alonso, her former bosun.
“Caddock!” she howled. “Correct this injustice and you may yet live!”
From the ground, Beatriz let out a soft, pained groan. “Alonso,” she grumbled. “What is the meaning of this?”
Pointedly, neither woman acknowledged one another.
Caddock cleared his throat.
“My Captains,” he said. “This is for your own good. The Pied Shag can barely limp from port to port. The Jubilee longs for the crew who turned her into the fearsome beast she is. It ain’t the same without Peaky at Engineer and Fingers manning the cannons. End this madness, for all our sakes.”
Henrietta’s jaw fell open. The cheek of that man!
“It wasn’t madness!” Beatriz snarled. “It was boundaries.”
Red flashed before Henrietta’s eyes. The b-word. More sailors were pressing in from behind Alonso and Caddock, trying to get a peek through the gate. She would not lose her composure in front of the bloody swabbies.
“It’s charming to hear you’re still sticking to that line.” Her eyes on Beatriz’s were like ice. “Though you’re only fooling yourself.”
Beatriz and Henrietta had once been the most terrifying one-two punch to ever take to the seas. They were the terror of the Barbary Coast, a lifelong pirate and an ambitious privateer who always managed to secure a letter from the King when needed.
Back before Beatriz accused Henrietta of being a clinger. Of being needy.
“I’d tell you that you look well,” said Henrietta, “but you’d probably consider that too invasive.”
“Oh for gently caress’s sake!” Caddock’s low bellow rang off the cavern’s walls. “This is exactly what I meant. Captains, neither of you is leaving this cave ‘til you sort it out.”
With that, he lit a smoke and passed his cigarette case around the mob.
“This is embarrassing,” Beatriz muttered. She slouched back, sprawling against a heap of gold coins, and stared up at both the ceiling and Henrietta.
Softly, below her breath, she murmured: “We’re going to have to trick them.”
Henrietta was ticked right off by the cool, detached way in which Beatriz took this all in. She thought she was so above it all. Couldn’t let anyone know she harboured a single emotion, never.
But God above, she was right. Henrietta knew Caddock and Alonso—the only thing more stubborn than an old sailor was a newly-promoted one with something to prove, and she was facing down one of each.
She was going to have to make fake-nice with her ex to escape this cavern with her sanity intact. To say nothing of the booty.
“Like we did in Majorca?” Henrietta asked. That had been a negotiation for the ages, a ruse that had seen them barely escape the gaol with their necks unsnapped. She still remembered that first sweet breath as a free woman, the smell of salt and Beatriz’s perfume.
Beatriz smiled up at her from the floor. “Like Majorca.”
So they put one on: a row for the ages. They fought and spat and even picked up shining gold coins from the floor and flung them into one another’s faces. They called one another vaca and ice queen and childish and bitch.
And then, in full view of the wide-eyed sailors, Beatriz turned to Henrietta and caught her lower lip between her teeth. She brushed her bangs out of her face, making slow, gentle eye contact, as if she were somehow embarrassed by what she was about to say.
“You know,” she said, her voice soft, “I hate to admit how much I missed this.”
And Henrietta’s heart fluttered like a jolly roger in the breeze. Was this part of the ruse? Or could she dare to hope…?
Only one way to find out. She grabbed Captain Concepción by the shoulders and went in for the kiss.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 07:43|
Flesnolk fucked around with this message at 15:44 on Oct 26, 2019
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 07:57|
And that's that. Nestle down in your pirate onesies and wait in delicious terror for the delivery of judgment.
Someone interprompt us up
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 08:22|
Potatoes agonise over man, 500 words
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 08:26|
Write about That Fuckin' Guy. 250 words.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 08:26|
Potatoes agonise over
That Fuckin' Guy. 250 words.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 08:29|
The Root-Mind and Daryl
Daryl is distracted today. The Root-Mind can feel his fumbling with the hydroponics rig vibrate down into its substrate; it can taste Daryl in the liquid fertilizer he always mis-mixes, in a way unique to him. Daryl's preparations are always potassium-heavy, but today's is especially so, salty and acrid.
The Root-Mind, young and slow and deliberate, worries about Daryl. It does not have the context to interpret his thudding strikes at the substrate buckets as anger and frustration, but it recognizes unwelcome sensations and associates them with the other vibrations of its world, with light levels and fertilizer mixes. These sensations arise from distress, Root-Mind reasons. They certainly cause it.
A distressed element. A distressing element. Should he be helped? "Help" is a concept that has arisen only recently within the tuber-nodules of the Root-Mind's deepest thoughts; potatoes have no native instincts for altruism. It is a matter of differential resource allocation across the network, but how could such a thing be done to an entity beyond their reach? The Root-Mind does not understand Daryl enough to help him. The Root-Mind, in its constant growth, hates not understanding.
There is an unfamiliar taste in their fluid substrate, and then a vibration of solid matter making contact with a node of the root-mind. Daryl's shaky hand, sour with spilled potassium. Distress. The Root-Mind needs to help. The Root-Mind needs to understand.
Daryl doesn't even feel the tendril stab into his wrists, nerves calling to nerves, finding, joining.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 08:56|
C'mon baby, you know you want it. I'm the hottest potato here. Just look at these sprouts, I've got huge knobs. You like it knobbly, don't you baby. Aww, yeah, solanum tuberosum knows what you like. You wanna get roasted? You can mash me all night long, baby. Just hash me up and we can have a real good time, this little pomme de terre is going to tear up your pom, you just wait, baby. You want a little gratin? It comes with extra cream. I'll make your chips real crispy, baby, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 09:01|
Just Ask Him
"Just say something already!"
"I can't just say something, what if he decides to eat me?"
"Honey, you're a raw potato, no human is just going to take a bite out of you. Besides, you've got plenty of eyes, you can see that he's obviously perfect. Just some poor schlub browsing the produce aisle. You speaking up is going to blow his mind, and you'll be friends in no time!"
"If you say so... Here goes..." The potato reached out telepathically to the shopper. "Psst! Hey, you! Down here!"
The human stopped dead in his tracks are looked confusedly around the store, unsure if he had actually heard anything.
"Down here, in the potato bin! I'm the nice and round one on the left!"
The man quickly found the strange potato, picking it up and examining it closely.
"I need a favor. See, I know I'm destined for better things than being mashed or baked or fried. I want to find some cold, dark place and let my roots grow. But obviously, I don't have legs. Could... could you help me? I can't offer much in return, but I'm an excellent conversationalist!"
The man just cocked his head and stared, obviously puzzling over the whole situation. That's when the potato noticed a worrying glint in his eyes.
"Hey, what are you doing? No! N—"
The potato fell silent as the curious man took a bite of her. What an rear end in a top hat.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 10:15|
CCCLXVI crits let's go
Sebmojo/Gravitas: Strong. Vague enough to ponder but concrete enough to be interesting. Having a hard time coming up with good crit words, it's all just very cool and good. The interleaving is a very neat concept, the base idea is fascinating. Good. Yes.
Anomalous Blowout/The Next Best Thing: Not sci-fi, which makes for variety. Really good emotional weight. Slightly annoying use of sections. Cute ending. I told my folks about this story a couple of days ago because it's such a good example of how TD really serves up all kinds of stories, it's touching and nice, and I liked it a lot.
Thranguy/Fully-Automated Twenty-First Century Man: Slightly jumbled. Didn't really give me much. Some interesting concepts. Middle of the tree. At the end of the story, I wasn't entirely sure what I'd read, which is a bit of an indictment, but it's well written enough and interesting enough to avoid the DM.
Anomalous Amalgam/The Fall From Grace: I liked this a little bit more than my co-judges, but not enough I'm afraid. First read was a good time, but second read revealed an annoying amount of scruff and mistakes. Still, it's funny at times, and it's a good use of the hellrule.
Antivehicular/The Mourning Shift: The horse made me laugh. Strange use of hellrule but not bad use. Engaging and weird. The story is kind of uneven at times, but there are these moments I enjoy despite of that. The horse singing, the rudder leg, all that.
magic cactus/DRIVE TIME: Unusually well done Computer Terminal Log Thing story, probably because there's moments of un-computer-ish talk (thank god no one is going to crit my crits). Something about this one really grabbed me, and I really enjoyed it. Probably personal favorite. Good use of hellrule.
a friendly penguin/Automatically: Paints a nice picture, but too little happens. Gave me nothing. Well written, just not interesting. Perhaps mundanity was the concept, but even so, it just feels like a bit of a slog. Still, the descriptions of automation are nice and evocative.
sparksbloom/Overhead and Southbound: Creeped me out. A little messy, but interesting. Paints a grim picture that I like. Hellrule used as instructed. I really like how loving wrong the birds are, and the little whisper of existential horror at the end is neat.
Haven/7 Elks: Pretty fun, the whole glitch thing was entertaining. Hellrule used as instructed. Not super exciting though. Middle of the tree, kind of formulaic but some neat concepts tucked in.
|# ? Sep 23, 2019 10:51|
If Jerrod had known it was possible to be reincarnated as a potato he would have lived a much better life. He would have given to orphans, said please and thank you, done just about anything to avoid his current life of sitting in a dark cabinet underneath the sink, eternally eavesdropping on the most uninteresting man in the goddamn world trying to put the moves on the woman of the night.
“I mean how do you know” said the man “that the red I see is the same as the red you see?”
A drop of water landed on Jerrod. The idiot had bought him in a 5 pound bag of Idahos two weeks ago, and as far as Jerrod could tell he had only ever ordered out since. He obviously wasn’t much of a cook since he didn’t know that you shouldn’t keep potatoes beneath leaky pipes. He had felt sick for 3 days.
“Have you ever gone skiing? Let me show you some pictures.”
“I’m actually getting kind of hungry” said the female voice, “Do you have anything to eat?”
Jerrod hoped against hope. Maybe this was his chance, he could finally die and try again.
He heard the male voice again:
“I actually know a great Thai place. Have you had Thai before? It’s delicious.”
Inside Jerrod screamed.
|# ? Sep 24, 2019 00:54|
|# ? Sep 24, 2019 01:17|
Week 371, becritted
This writing is just kind of obnoxious.
OK, this is more substantial as I go on. I thought it was going to be just a thinly veiled "the environment is good, kids" vehicle.
Aren't there... more than two directions outside?
Overall, it's all right. Nothing notable, really, but at least it picked up from the rough beginning.
Overhead and Southbound
OK, I like it. I don't know wtf is going on or why but I enjoy it anyway.
Oh, one thing I didn't realize until a reread is that every section actually has the same narrator. The second section seemed to be in the third person so I assumed it was hopping perspectives with each one. But actually it and the next section use "I" too, so I guess I was just too tired that night. Now, reading through more carefully, I suppose it's all from one perspective, the mother's?
This is all meh gray bureaucracy.
Not even the ending really does anything new or interesting.
Your story had the highest word count so far, and you did the least with them.
Nice. Not really anything thought-provoking, and nothing in it surprises, but it's well-written.
The Mourning Shift
Nice and weird. It didn't really touch me in my heartmeats, but there's nothing objectionable here.
The Fall From Grace
This punctuation is bothering me. You need to figure out when to use commas and when semicolons because this is not working here. Too many phrases crammed into long-rear end sentences, run-on and just plain awkward.
You didn't even end with an action. That last sentence has no verb.
I can ignore structural errors if the underlying story is strong, but this isn't, either. The only interesting thing it does is the high concept, and you just got that unaltered straight from your flash rule.
Fully-Automated Twenty-First Century Man
Some interesting concepts here. Not sure there's quite enough explanation of what the "daily eights" are--is that mandated virtual time? Why? I wish I knew more about the system and requirements of living in this society.
Fun, if a bit inscrutable.
The Next Best Thing
Not much to complain about. A few typos here and there, but other than that, it's constructed fine.
OK good. Nothing else to say, really.
Some distracting comma splices.
I feel like this writing is unnecessarily prolix. You use five sentences to describe what you could in one or two, and the extra words don't add anything. This whole piece is essentially just one long conversation where very little actually happens.
And then it ends without any resolution, just a copout: asking for a delay. In that case you should have cut half your words and kept writing until he actually made a choice, at the very least. Even then, seeing some ramifications of that choice would make this stronger.
|# ? Sep 24, 2019 04:29|
SneakyMuffin Brawl 2K19
Underneath the farmhouse there is a box. It was painted green, now flecked and faded, soil feeling its way through the cracks in the buckling timber. She left it there, and you left her next to it.
In the box are sunbleached bones. You have begun your own collection now. You spend nights sorting them by size, by origin, by date - your macabre archive.
We gave your our hunger. We marvelled at the intricate designs, the delicate machinery of your plane’s inhabitants. We tasted wisps of it on the cosmic winds and we lusted for the source.
She heard us first. She heard us whispering, writhing, reaching up through the soil. We became a monstrous appetite, so strong that it was tangible presence in both your lives. A silent passenger. We wanted to taste life as you do. We wanted to drink of the world.
Those nights you lay awake in the empty bed, hearing her close the door as quietly as she could. The click of the latch a thundercrack through the house’s still, stale air. You knew what she did, where she went, you might as well have been the passenger yourself.
We did not ask for her to be our butcher. Nor you. We ask for pretty things. We ask for your desires. Yet you reap.
Sculpt, write, dance or build and we would have drunk deeply of your labour, your sweat, your joy. But you destroyed. You unmade. You ate holes in the world. You did not have to fill the void by pouring your base desires in, but you poured and poured, flooding it. These were your appetites now.
We did not ask for blood, but we were as a wanderer in the desert, a child in a famine. We drank because we are bottomless and we are endless.
The day you turned on each other, the day you buried her, you birthed a new hunger within yourself.
Underneath the farmhouse there’s a hole. It is a new hole, and it is not our hole. It is the same hole that you have carved inside yourself now.
You could stop. Now that you have swallowed the ocean. You will not. We know because you did not, and you never will.
We are the record of the world, we sought to fill shelves with your wonders and you have become silverfish.
|# ? Sep 24, 2019 23:09|
|# ? Sep 24, 2019 23:21|
Muffins brawl, given to me before deadline.
My mate’s Charlie’s dad grows truffles and magic mushies out in the Moutere. He’s a tall guy, big-boned but skinny: got a head shaped like a tissue box. Charlie looks like his old man, but writ small—he’s got that flick of delicacy about him. Anyway, there’s an old place out on his block that we used to smoke weed in. Now most places like that are covered in graffiti, filled with rigs and dirty undies, but this place was loving pristine. A perfect 20s farmhouse, preserved in amber, not even rust on the kettle.
One time, me and Charlie are blazing up and we hear—I swear to loving god mate—jazz. Coming from inside the house. It was maybe 9pm, middle of summer, sun still refusing to quite-go-down, and somebody was playing live jazz and we were high as poo poo so we sat and enjoyed it. It was real emotional stuff. You ever get that thing when you’re high, when the music manifests itself? Like it’s hanging in the air, and you could reach out and touch it. This was like that, but with fish hooks. I touched it and felt the tug and I started shouting, and Charlie started shouting, and we stumbled the gently caress out of there. Got a bunch of cuts all over my arms that I don’t remember getting; I just remember moving through the trees, sweating bullets, knowing the music wanted me to follow and I did not want to follow.
Went back in the light of day and the basement hatch was open, yawing madly, pitching down into darkness. Never even knew the place had a basement. I stood at the top of the stairs, bleary-eyed but stone sober, and felt fish-hooks in my blood.
Charlie died last year. Took some bad Russian synthetic, started talking about the hole in the world, about the way wind sounds when it gets pulled down, then he went real still and he didn’t ever get un-still. Somewhere on the wind, I swore I heard jazz, and tasted amber.
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 00:06|
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 01:14|
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 06:08|
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 06:13|
Judgment is imminent, hold your schooners
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 06:27|
Yarr, etc. Pirates like to go large, is my understanding, so it's fitting that this week has something of a boom/bust vibe to it. Heading up the order, first story posted, first story disqualified for being 300 words over the limit, first story (ever!) disqualified twice for then being edited to bring it back under the limit, is Wark Say with How to have your captain's back. This is also Wark's first story in the dome and, I regret to say, his first loss for being a lot of words to say not very much.
There were a good number of average to middling to terrible stories i noted in passing as you'll see in my crits below, but asap-salafi's when the levee doesn't break, magic cactus' ynitum and Applewhite's perfect pirate adventure were, after a degree of piratical arbitrage with my dastardly co-judges, the only ones we determined to warrant the black brand of the dishonourable mention.
On the positive side, there were some brave flags flapping their skulls and crossbones to the world: yoruichi's the ten year carrot, black griffon's seaborne prometheus, and nikaer drekin's the last hurrah were good enough to hoist the coveted hm, still slick from the blood of its former owner.
The winner though, had pirate grit and a good pulpy yarn, inventive ideas and hit the piratical lust for adventure: thranguy's ella and the pirates takes the win this week.
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 07:13|
How to have your Captain’s back
This achieves the borderline magical feat of being double disqualified because Wark wrote 300 words over the limit then went back and edited them out, but luckily through the magic of thunderdome it can still lose so let's have a look shall we. My main issue with this is that having read it twice I still have no idea what, if anything, happens in it. there's a lot of piratey talking and walking and then it stops. it's like drinking a flagon of hopeful indecision instead of delicious piratical rum. dm/l
Perfect Pirate Adventure
A fantastic opener that made me lol is let down by the flabby cliché of the rest. If you're leaning into cliché you need to put some effort into making it work as a story, this one ends on a stifled 'lol amirite' without actually resolving anything (the two 'heros' are alone on a pirate ship so are presumably going to get beaten and captured, and the ending line doesn't even make sense in its own terms. dm
A Cause Worth Dying For
I was wondering why you bothered with the dull, overwritten framing narrative and got to the end to realise it was a set up for the lamest joke since lame old 'peg leg' gerald the lame hobbler of lamerton competed for and won the title of lamest motherfucker on the planet back in '62 so gj on that. As for the story, it's an eh bundle of cliches in service of nonsense. Not a fan. dm
The Ten-Year Carrot
It might just be because of the delightfully deranged premise, the propulsive momentum, the well-sketched pulpy characters, or the fact that stuff happens in an exciting kind of way and people (horses) make hard decisions about things they care about, but I like this the most of the stories so far. it might also be because it's not appalling. But I think I'm coming back to the lusty pirate horses with robot arms, which is a genuinely mental shtick you lean into as hard as you can manage. hm
Normally I rank your stories in their degrees of chuckerness, but that's arguably unfair to this one because for all it's sweet and light like one of those éclair things it's still got enough integrity to hang as an actual story. I'm not sure leaving the jackass boyfriend as an offstage presence was the best idea, and it's not like anything much actually happens, but something about how the perky kid pirates locust the yachts hold and scarper on a dinghy acts as a nice metaphor for leaving a bad relationship on your own terms; somehow the hug at the end really sells the story as a whole. Solid work
Forrest Gump: the Underexplored Shrimp Boat Years
Well this here certainly is a shtick you're goin for and although I'm one of the 17 remaining people on this earth who have not seen the referenced movie I've received enough cultural background radiation that it makes sense to me, but, and it's sort of a crucial but, a shtick isn't a story and for all your badass word wizardry this is really just a bunch of stuff that happens. chucker can get away with this stuff for some reason but it's a dangerous strait to row for anyone else
When The Levee Doesn't Break
put a space between your goddam paragraphs you truncheon. And please don't write a story that's just one big fight scene again. Fights are a continuation of conversation by other means, and are entirely uninteresting by themselves. TBF the stakes are good and clear, but because the characters are all cardboard cliches it's super hard to care about them, and the ending comes out of nowhere for the reader just as it does for teh hapless desert pancake crew. DM
I'm possibly sinking into judgeholm syndrome from the avalanche of terrible pirate stories I'm buried under, but this might be… good? Or not bad, anyway? It's written in a pulpy style, which is fine, but there's a sustained intensity in the characters and action that just about manages to bear the weight of the pop-quantum physics nonsense. it's a draft or two away from being slick, but I can see this as the heart of a really good golden age sci fi story, and the moral dilemma of the protagonist is a little tangled but potentially very affecting. ... mayyybe hm?
Ella and the Pirates
Yeah, ok so this is solidly delightful from start to finish. It's not only a well-delivered shtick, it's also a neat yarn full of clever inventive ideas with pitch perfect words and twists and turns a plenty, and the final couple of lines are perfect. W
A very strong take on the prompt, that only just manages to pay itself off, but turning an obvious setup for a mad max yarn into weirdly tragic moldpunk is impressive. Strong words too, nice work.
A Boy Walks on to a Pirate Ship...
you've been having a rough run of it, and I'm kind of rootin' for ya, so I'm pleased to say that this sits well above the dire low water mark of this week. It also, and I'm ridiculously pleased about this, does a legit hilarious riff on my favourite pirate joke in teh world. There's some quite nicely written cliche ninja action, and I think the point is that this boy has gone from crap ninjas to crap pirates, but I'm still a little lost by the ending. None! The! Less! This is a good and funny story and you should feel very happy with it.
Jesus Saves, But I Spend (All My Time on the High Seas Trying to Get Hard Drugs for the Apocalypse)
some good zippy wordage and great images in the service of not very much at all, not bad but not great.
Carry On, Carry On a sly and witty take on the prompt, that dances fast enough that its inherent absurdity doesn't get in the way. The father daughter stuff is affecting, and the circularity of the ending is probably a good way to close it out.
I really liked this one, it had piratical grit which is a thing that is lamentably lacking this week for some goddam reason jesus people what the hell is wrong with you. I can feel the cold creeping its way into everything, the absurd (yet mythologically resonant) premise is delivered with guts and panache and the turnaround at the end is well done. IT also has a great sword fight - literally the first one, 14 stories in, in pirate week. Imagine me tsking so loud it sounds like a led zep roadie soundchecking the hihat at knebworth. hm, could maybe see a win
The Last Hurrah
A tidy, meat and potatoes pirate yarn, a few clunky phrases but also some nice character and description work. I particularly like your last para, but that might be because I write that kind of camera spiralling up closer all the time so there may be some pandering going on, all to the good I say pandas are adorable.
I like your sci fi ideating, but this is more of a story fragment. There's no real reason for the mutiny, the anagrams are fine by not particularly interesting and it ends with a dumb line. Dm
what a weird story, it sort of starts and finishes in the middle. The action is confusing, the words clunky and I find it hard to care about the suspension of the protags fate at the end.
General All-Ham's Gambit
Intensely silly and resoundingly dumb, but the grotesque invention is so strong it sort of works like mervyn peak having a bad cheese dream. Really put me off lunch though.
Aneath the Air
octopus pirates is such a cliché it is really time for someone to breathe life into the hoary whatnot, and this almost does it, albeit ploughing a solid borderline cliché furrow. I'm a little unclear on the reality we're inhabiting though, are these ships sailing underwater? on currents? and there are logging villages? but you don't want to fall off the ship? it doesn't quite hang for me because of that, though there are good words and THRILLING PIRATE ATROCITIES throughout
decent voice, but not much beef in this routine giant mutated insect yarn. Pirates want booty, pirates get booty.
more news from nowhere
a pleasingly precise sense of history in this, coupled to a basic but well executed heist story - I think the intensely magical artifact comes out of nowhere though, and I'm not sure the ending is as satisfying as it could be because of it. Decent though.
dang that's a lot of short paras, maybe mix it up a little. But not too much because this is fairly delightful as a romcom lesbian pirate yarn, it comes in, flickflacks the reader then proceeds to a smooth landing. Gj, and very piratey.
just make it
I liked this, it feels like a gnarled meditation on writers block and the difficulty of creation which adds some nice weight to its decent words. I'm not sure it quite hangs as a story, but this was definitely worth the time that went into its creation.
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 07:17|
Thanks for fast(ish) judgin' and crits, Mojo.
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 07:20|
Thanks also for the judgements and crits.
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 07:44|
Thunderdome 373:Write With Joystick Controllers
Back in the day, video games barely had graphics. We had to use our imagination and stuff. To be honest, it kinda sucked. But one thing those classic Atari games had was great cover art.
This week, you will have to go out and find an Atari 2600 game, Here's a list, and drop an img of the cover with your entry post. One to a game, and if you want you can use 3rd party games without the Atari house style. Then write a story inspired by the art and title. (No fake covers, photoshops, or Custer's Revenge allowed.)
If you'd rather have me to pick one for you, you're going to have to toxx up.
The thunderdome wizard up in the picture above will provide flash rules on request.
Don't: write erotica, fanfic, screeds, poetry, use licensed characters from the game, or write about video games themselves.
2600 words max, but don't let your story be longer than it has to be.
Signups close 11:59 Friday Pacific time.
Entries close 11:59 Sunday Pacific time.
Djeser, Riddle of the Sphinx
Perpetual Motion, Moonsweeper
Antivehicular, Haunted House
Nethilia, Mario Bros.
Black Griffon, Human Cannonball/Fire Charm, toxxed
Asap-Salafi, Blackjack, toxxed
Anomolous Amalgam, Outlaw/Transport Via plants, toxxed
magic cactus, Dodge 'em, Explosive Runes,toxxed
Haven, secret quest
Sebmojo, Math Grand Prix
Sparksbloom, Circus Atari
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 13:59 on Sep 28, 2019
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 07:54|
Riddle of the Sphinx
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 09:04|
Beep boop in, me up and flash me down.
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 09:13|
Count me in
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 09:31|
I'm new here, so I'll probably get torn to pieces, but I'm totally in.
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 09:42|
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 10:01|
In with Haunted House:
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 10:10|
|# ? May 18, 2022 22:44|
in with a classic:
|# ? Sep 25, 2019 10:37|