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Wark Say
Feb 22, 2013

by Fluffdaddy


sebmojo posted:

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
Appreciate the crit! It was about assassination, but I appreciate the crit explaining how that got lost in all the babbling. I accept the loser AV gladly.

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Chili
Jan 23, 2004

college kids ain't shit


Fun Shoe

Thanks for the crit, mojo!

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Black Griffon posted:

Beep boop in, :toxx: me up and flash me down.



Flash: Fire Charm

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!





Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Doctor Rope

In, :toxx: and flash please.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Anomalous Amalgam posted:

In, :toxx: and flash please.



Transport Via Plants

Punkreas
May 13, 2013

*chews on head*


Lipstick Apathy

Thank you for the crit, mojo!

Also: in!

magic cactus
Aug 3, 2019

We lied. We are not at war. There is no enemy. This is a rescue operation.

Well with one HM and one DM under my belt there's nothing to do but be IN with a :toxx: and a flash.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




magic cactus posted:

Well with one HM and one DM under my belt there's nothing to do but be IN with a :toxx: and a flash.



Explosive Runes

Haven
Dec 28, 2005

They might just as well've been closed.

I'm in!

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







:siren: Zine subs :siren:
Domers, if you're too embarrassed to tell your family and friends you're a goon - but still want a pat on the head from them for your garbagewords - boy do we have a deal for you.

For the price of a story you're proud of, and the knowledge that it might not make issue #1, you can submit your words to be published in the first Thunderdome zine.

We plan to chuck some words up a fancy pdf or somesuch, and place it far far away from this wasteland so that you can share it unabashed.

Get your poo poo together and send a story link to us - preferably in the discord zine channel, or pm Sitting Here.

Subs for issue #1 close Friday 4 October, 11.59pm PDT.

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






steeltoedsneakers posted:

:siren: Zine subs :siren:
Domers, if you're too embarrassed to tell your family and friends you're a goon - but still want a pat on the head from them for your garbagewords - boy do we have a deal for you.

For the price of a story you're proud of, and the knowledge that it might not make issue #1, you can submit your words to be published in the first Thunderdome zine.

We plan to chuck some words up a fancy pdf or somesuch, and place it far far away from this wasteland so that you can share it unabashed.

Get your poo poo together and send a story link to us - preferably in the discord zine channel, or pm Sitting Here.

Subs for issue #1 close Friday 4 October, 11.59pm PDT.

To add to this, we will be going around to each of our submitters and confirming:

-The name or username by which you'd like to be identified.
-If we make any edits (they would be small corrections only), we'll ask you if that's ok.


Completely unrelated: October is my birth month. My kingdom to whoever takes it upon themselves to run a Voidmart week between now and the end of October. I can't think of a better gift than the opportunity to write a Voidmart story :) :) :)

Doctor Zero
Sep 21, 2002

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

Sitting Here posted:

To add to this, we will be going around to each of our submitters and confirming:

-The name or username by which you'd like to be identified.
-If we make any edits (they would be small corrections only), we'll ask you if that's ok.


Completely unrelated: October is my birth month. My kingdom to whoever takes it upon themselves to run a Voidmart week between now and the end of October. I can't think of a better gift than the opportunity to write a Voidmart story :) :) :)

:hfive: fellow Octoberite.

How does the “selection” work? Are you guys looking for winners? HMs?

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



Doctor Zero posted:

:hfive: fellow Octoberite.

How does the “selection” work? Are you guys looking for winners? HMs?

I believe there aren't any requirements involving mentions, just picking stories you like. Editing is also permitted (she says, planning on completely rewriting the ending of her submission).

Sitting Here
Dec 31, 2007


BLO OD E M PR E SS

of

THUDNER-DOME






Doctor Zero posted:

:hfive: fellow Octoberite.

How does the “selection” work? Are you guys looking for winners? HMs?

Just send us a story you like :)

And yes, if there are any glaring issues, fix them. Whatever other edits you'd like to make are welcome, but please keep stories close to the sub-2K range we will consider longer pieces but dear god we don't want a bunch of 5k-10k word epics please

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







:siren:Spooky househole brawl:siren:

steeltoedsneakers posted:

SneakyMuffin Brawl 2K19
Lepisma saccharina
395 words
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. this is nicely drawn but in 400 words it's dangerous to leave not one but two dangling pronouns. There's plenty to room for ambiguity but I'd rather have a clear image of who was attached to teh well-described box

In the box are sunbleached bones. we now have four possible subjects of the story, you, her, the narrator, and the sunbleached bones which might be human, animal, bird You have begun your own collection now. so who does the collection belong to? i guess it's her but I have to work it out You spend nights sorting them by size, by origin, by date - your macabre archive. 'taika: a were packet of cigar... were meaning man, and packet of cigarettes meaning, uh Jemaine: not very scary. Taika: no. but very macabre.'

We gave your our hunger. who is speaking and what does this hunger mean is it related to like dewey decimal for bones or w/eWe marvelled at the intricate designs, the delicate machinery of your plane’s whaat inhabitants. We tasted wisps of it what is it: the hunger, the inhabitants, the intricate designs on the cosmic winds and we lusted for the source. what

She heard us first. who heard them second? she? not clear, which is i'm ngl becoming a theme She heard us whispering, writhing, what does writhing sound like reaching ditto up through the soil. We became a monstrous appetite, so strong that it was typo tangible presence in both your lives. A silent passenger. but it's whispering We wanted to taste life as you do. is this you collective or you singular, bc it's not she We wanted to drink of the world. i think if i had the faintest idea what the narrator is this para might work better

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. you could probably have started here and had the story been about discovery, the all knowing obscure narrator is getting on my tits

We did not ask for her to be our butcher. Nor you. whaat We ask for pretty things. like carefully organised bone catalogues, mm yes (makes lip smacking noise) 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. this is intensely vague

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. wanderers in the desert and children in famines have bottoms and do end so I'm unconvinced by this metaphor

The day you turned on each other, the day you buried her, you birthed a new hunger within yourself. this could have been an interesting scene to see poss idk it's ur story

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. metaphorical hole

You could stop. DOOOOINNNNNGGG WWWHHHHAAAATTTTTT Now that you have swallowed the ocean. i thought the narrator/s was/were swallowing the ocean You will not. We know because you did not, and you never will. you did not just add a days of future past speaking from the future about the past that is yet to come YOU DID NOT I FORBID IT

We are the record of the world, WAIT WHAT we sought to fill shelves METAPHORICAL SHELVES with your wonders and you have become silverfish. METAPHORICAL loving SILVERFISH

muffin posted:

Muffins brawl, given to me before deadline.

The Big/Ancient/Deep 
345 words

My mate’s Charlie’s dad grows truffles and magic mushies out in the Moutere. I'm reasonably clear what this sentence means, which is neat. He’s a tall guy, big-boned but skinny: got a head shaped like a tissue box. this is really good description Charlie looks like his old man, but writ small—he’s got that flick of delicacy about him. writ small and flick of delicacy are a little out of tone, but possibly that is in line with the guy himself? in any case i'm disposed to give you the benny of the doubt as you have not annoyed me so far this story 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.metaphorical fish hooks but good ones 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; oh, actual fish hooks maybe, nice metaphoring 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.  thsi is good and creepy

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.  and a great suspension at the end, we have a whiff of something numinous and horrific in a small grounded yarn about two wasters getting high and freakin out. done the job, clear out.

As may be apparent, I strongly preferred the second of these two - obscurity is fine but unless you are absolutely sure it's worth putting your reader to the effort, have the mystery ride the story horse, not the other way round. Muffin wins.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




About 18 hours left to sign up, cojudges still needed, etc.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







I'm in, toxx, pic me up

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




sebmojo posted:

I'm in, toxx, pic me up

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


In toxx

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!





Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


In with Millipede

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006


Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




Entries are mostly closed.

But...

Up to three people can claim one of these three and join late, offer good until this time tomorrow.







Also, still need one more judge.

Applewhite
Aug 16, 2014

IN THE GRIM BARKNESS
OF THE FUTURE
THERE ARE ONLY DOGS



Nap Ghost



Gravitar
Word count: 1724

Mickey, Ratt, and Murdo of the intergalactically-rated band The Crude Bunch fled across the grid-lined Teflon of the planet’s surface for the tour bus, an angry mob of aliens hot on their heels.

“Start the bus, Gersh! Start the bus!” Ratt shouted, frantically waving his arms at the parked ship.

“He can’t hear you, dumbass” Mickey told him. The lead guitarist pulled a walkie-talkie the size of a brick out of an inner pocket of his leather jacket and pulled the antenna out.

The radio hissed to life with a burst of static.

“Gersh! We’re coming in hot! Start the bus!” Mickey shouted into the receiver.

Gersh’s voice crackled a reply. “Roger.”

Ahead of them, the spherical hull of the tour bus began to glow as its internal reactors powered up. A shining, snapping arc of electricity tethered the ship to the open port of a nearby fuel bunker.

The access hatch slid open and a ladder unfolded. They were almost home free!

Behind them, the Teflon horizon heaved like a stormy sea. The spires of the crystal capital shivered with reverberations and several of the glimmering towers shattered. The shockwaves knocked the pursuing mob off its feet. A moment later, the Cude Bunch themselves were tossed into the air and thrown forward like so many eggs, landing in a bruised pile just inside the open hatch of the tour bus.

“Beats taking the ladder,” grunted Murdo.

Ratt and Mickey groaned.

Gersh’s voice crackled over the airlock intercom. “Are you lads inside yet?”

“Yeah Gersh, close the hatch and get us out of here.” Mickey leaned on the intercom button, nursing his bruised ribs with his free hand.

The ship’s engines flared and the tour bus began its sluggish ascent. No sooner had its landing struts left the Teflon than another quake rippled across the planet’s surface and the ground dropped out from beneath.

“Woah!” the Cude Bunch were all knocked off their feet by the sudden drop.

“I can’t disengage the fuel line!” Gersh shouted. “We’re being pulled down!”

Plasma explosions whited out the exterior monitors.

“And they’re shooting at us!” whined Ratt.

A pair of interceptor-class attack craft crested the peak of a newly-formed mountain. Their mirrored hulls gleamed black and silver in the starlight as they swooped low toward the trapped ship.

The ponderous tour bus bobbed at the end of its electric tether like a balloon in a shooting gallery. The glowing arc of energy crackled as the fuel bunker sank into the chasm forming below the ship.

More bolts of plasma streaked past the Crude Bus, scorching the hull. A stray shot severed the energy arc of the fuel line and the ship’s overtaxed engines suddenly found themselves with more power than they would ever need.

Acceleration threw the Crude Bunch to the deck. There was a sickening snap of bone audible even over the roar of the engines and Mickey screamed in agony.

The Crude Bus streaked into the sky, chased by bolts of glowing plasma. Once free of the planet’s gravity, the ship’s massive interstellar engines allowed them to quickly outdistance the low-orbit interceptors.

Ratt and Murdo carried Mickey on their shoulders into the cockpit, where Gersh was waiting. The fatty rolls of the huge man spilled over the edge of his crash couch. The front of his shirt was flecked with crumbs and empty cans and crisp packets littered the room.

“What the hell happened down there?” he demanded.

“It was all Mickey’s fault!” said Ratt.

“Oh very nice.” Mickey frowned. “How was I supposed to know the gravitar would cause a feedback loop in the planet’s crystal structure?”

He unslung the Gravitar from his back and inspected it for damage.

Superficially, the instrument resembled a guitar; except the body was shaped like a star and the strings glowed in a rainbow of neon colors. Mickey gave one an experimental pluck and the reverberating note sent a visible ripple through the air.

Gersh shook his head. “You boys sure know how to bring down the house. Just be thankful they paid for the gig in advance.”

He turned to the console and swept a half full packet of crisps aside to type something into a keypad.

“What are you doing?” asked Mickey.

“Plotting a course to get us as far out of here as possible before they get their poo poo together and remember they can shoot us down with missiles,” answered Gersh, irritably.

“We can’t leave!” Mickey lunged forward to grab the pilot, but his broken leg cracked underneath him and he fell to the deck like a ragdoll, all the color drained from his face.

“What else can we do? If we stick around, they’ll kill us,” said Gersh.

“If we leave, they’ll die.” Mickey was back up on one foot, leaning on his bandmates for support.

“They’ll die anyway,” said Ratt. “You saw what the gravitar did to their planet. That place is a write off!”

“They’re doomed,” agreed Murdo.

“No.” A defiant light blazed in Mickey’s eyes. He looked back at his instrument. “If the gravitar can destroy their planet, the gravitar can save it.

“That’s crazy.” Gersh waved a pudgy hand dismissively. “And even if it were possible look at you! You’re in no fit state to play!”

Mickey winced at the pain in his leg, but resolve forced the color back into his face.

“If we shut off the gravity, I won’t need my leg,” he said. “We have to try! It’s just a matter of finding the right song.”

“You’re loony,” said Ratt.

“What the hell.” Murdo shrugged. “We never could turn down an encore.”

“You’re loony, too,” Ratt grumbled.

“Gersh, turn this ship around!” Mickey commanded.

“You’re gonna get us all killed.” Gersh shook his head and punched the keys to alter course.

It took some time to break out the spare instruments and set them up in the main hold. The roadies were all down below with the band’s main equipment. Mickey grudged them every second as he watched the reverberating cataclysms that shook the unfortunate planet.

Murdo rigged the soundboard while Ratt fussed over the set list. The selection of songs had to be perfect.

Finally everything was in place. Floating in midair in the center of the hold, Mickey plugged in his guitar and the gravitronic speakers duct-taped to the exterior of the hull squealed to life.

“We’re going to have to get inside their weapons range if the gravity waves are going to have any effect,” said Gersh.

“Is it too late to change our minds?” asked Ratt.

“It’s always too late to change your mind,” answered Mickey. He strummed a chord on the gravitar.

Scintillating waves of color exploded from the ship as the shining sphere descended toward the self-destructing planet.

“Hello, Gridworld!” Gravity waves struck the planet’s atmosphere and became sound. Mickey’s amplified voice boomed out over the entire planet. “We’re back! Welcome to the Crude Bunch’s Save the World World Tour!”

The gravitar wailed and the world quivered. Coruscating vortexes of curving spacetime collided with sick riffs that set the cosmic strings singing. A closed timelike curve of pure psychic rebellion.

Mickey wailed into the mic while Ratt’s nimble fingers flew over his keyboard. Floating upside-down relative to his bandmates, Murdo shook the planet to its core with the beat of his drums.

The cataclysms intensified. Millions of helpless Gridworlders cried out in terror as city-sized plates of Teflon collided into new mountain ranges and entire continents went plunging toward the sea.

“We’re just making things worse!” said Gersh.

“We just haven’t found the right song!” replied Mickey. “Keep playing!”

They went through their entire set. “Galaxy Girl,” “Asteroid Love,” “Cosmic Spacetime,” “Rocket (Power)…” even their B-sides!

Below them, the planet was beginning to break apart.

Mickey floated in a galaxy of sweat droplets, chest heaving, eyes desperate.

“There must be something we haven’t played yet!” he insisted.

“There’s nothing! We’ve gone through our entire album!” said Ratt.

“Then we’ll just have to improvise, like we did in the old days,” said Mickey.

“Just make it up as we go along?” asked Ratt.

“We’ll throw everything we’ve got at that planet and see what sticks.” Mickey raised his guitar.

“The planet’s mostly Teflon,” said Murdo. “I wouldn’t get your hopes up.”

“At least they’re not shooting at us,” said Ratt. “Maybe all their missiles got wrecked in the earthquakes.”

No sooner were the words out of Ratt’s mouth than an alarm blared from somewhere overhead.

“Incoming missiles!” announced Gersh.

“Right.” Mickey nodded and spoke into the mic. “This next song is brand new and it’s called ‘Incoming.’”

As the gravitar wailed, the leading edge of the gravity waves from the first set made contact with the local star. Doppler shifting waves split the light into its component colors, casting a blazing rainbow over the entire solar system. The neighboring planets became spotlights, the stars blazed with a million glittering colors.

The first volley of missiles detonated close aboard, sending the Crude Bus spinning. The next volley sailed up to meet them.

The rhythmic pounding of bursting plasma became the bass beat of a new song written just for Gridworld. As the Crude Bus danced and spun through the blazing storm of hyperenergetic death, it wove itself into the pattern of the music of the spheres. Gravity waves rippled off the ship and pounded against the planet below like a relentless surf.

And the planet began to sing back. The quakes subsided. The violence in the planet’s heart quieted.

“It’s working, Gersh!” called Mickey. “Hold this course!”

“Missiles on intercept vector!” warned Gersh.

“Just a few more seconds!” pleaded Mickey.

He wailed on the gravitar like no man has ever wailed before, singing out his soul to the world below.

“Impact!” Mickey strummed the final note just as the missiles struck home.

The ship exploded, searing the sky in a blinding blaze like a rainbow nova.

Silence reigned over the stunned planet. Millions of stunned citizens looked to the sky as they watched the rain of shooting stars streak across the sky.

It started as just a trickle at first, gradually building into a roar and finally a deafening, earth shaking outpour of jubilation as the entire planet erupted into applause and cheering.

It was the best show the Crude Bunch ever played.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006




The Entertainers
1133 words

The Dubuque Performers had just given their last performance, and we were gathered in an Applebee’s getting smashed to celebrate. Andy, who’d handled the animals before we got rid of them, had driven in from Chicago for the occasion, and he’d covered the first two rounds. “It’s the least I could do,” he kept saying, slapping each now-unemployed performer hard on the back. “Might be we had the best circus left out there. ‘Course, no one wants to see a circus without tigers and bears, but you did an amazing job keeping the lights on.”

I’d only come because I knew Andy would be there, and I suspected that if I sucked up to him hard enough, he’d pull on his connections and I’d find another clowning gig somewhere else. Generally, my idea for a good time didn’t involve spending time with your fired coworkers and a fried onion. I would have gone home and drank half a bottle of Jamison while watching Law & Order: SVU reruns, but I had rent to pay at the end of the month, and there’d be time for treasured rituals after I’d found something better.

“Andy!” I called out, as I waved at the bartender for another whisky and Coke. “My man Andy. Making it for himself. I heard someone called you about training animals on a TV show – you’ve got a reputation for yourself, dude!”

Andy squinted at me. He had a bald spot, which was new, and a hideous goatee, which wasn’t. “You’re the clown, right?”

“I–”

“I never thought you were very funny,” he said. “Ah, well, here’s to moving on.” The bartender passed me my drink, and Andy muscled his way over and laid a $10 bill on the table.

I cleared my throat. “Well, thanks,” I said. “But seriously, man, how’s it going? Big city life, different lifestyle, all that?”

“I sell cocaine. Crack cocaine.” Then he laughed for a really long time, as I took a long drag of my drink. “Right as rain, brother! Fuckin’ loved the good people here but that’s about it. Once they stopped letting me mess with tigers, I didn’t look back,” he said, eventually, treating me to the overdue hearty backslap.

I squinted at him, unsure of where to go from here. The grapevine held that Andy was now a wild animal consultant. (“He’s like, the go-to guy in the tri-state area whenever you want to do something with a tiger or a bear. They call up Andy and he makes sure the bear doesn’t take advantage of you,” is what Jennifer told me when we were smoking our pre-show cigarettes.) “But you’re still working with tigers now, right?”

“Nah, chief, no one wants to gently caress with tigers anymore, they’re endangered and poo poo. If you want the truth, my bro Rudy hooked me up with a bullshit office gig.” He eyed me up and down. “What, you looking for work? Clown work? I’d like to see less clowns working, if you ask me,” he said, then laughed for a long time again.

His laughter was punctuated by a volley of gunshots. We both fell to the floor as another round sounded above us. Andy growled, low and long, and I had the flash of Andy facing down that tiger, slamming the wrought gate on the trailer, his poo poo-eating grin as the creature flew at the gate. If they hadn’t shut down the animal program, he would have gotten eaten.

“No one move. Everyone’s got to do what I say,” someone said. I looked up and it was Jennifer, the oldest acrobat, brandishing a gun at strangers and carnies alike.

“And what’s that, girlie?” Andy asked.

Jennifer whirled around and fired twice, one round passing by just a few inches above my head. She kneeled down and pressed the tip of the weapon hard against Andy’s skull. “Don’t say anything else, fuckface,” she said. “I’ve got nothing to lose and if I want you dead in a loving Applebee’s then it’s going to happen. No one says anything unless I say you can talk.”

Then several things happened at once. A toddler let out a loud sob, and Jennifer turned her head and started to say something. At the noise, Andy reached down and retrieved his own concealed gun and fired in Jennifer’s direction; she turned around and fired a volley of rounds, one of which landed in my forearm, and at least one of which ended up in Andy’s head.

Jennifer knelt to pick up the gun, and I bit down on the pain to ask her: “Would you like a balloon animal?”

She looked at me, gun still in her hand. She wasn’t looking at the twitching figure of Andy beside me. Then she shrugged and said “Why not?’

Behind her, someone was standing up slowly, lining up their own line of fire at her, but Jennifer heard the squeak of a chair, turned around, and fired off another three rounds. She stood with her back to me. “An otter,” she said. “I’ll know if you go for the gun. Just make me a loving otter.”

I carried around the bag of balloons because it’s the one thing a clown does that most people like; it’s a fun party trick, and people like when you’re good and fast at something like that. I’d never made a balloon animal after being shot, though, and my right arm wasn’t responding very well. Still I pathetically blew air in each balloon, one-by-one, tying them off one handed as Jennifer repeatedly turned around and waved her gun at the people who were now too scared to try anything.

I looked at the pile of balloons in front of me like they were an entree at Applebee’s: extremely unappetizing. “I’m not going to be able to do this,” I said. “I’m sorry.”

“Figures,” she said. She didn’t even seem mad anymore. “This is the end for me, you know. Even before I fired anything. Even before…” She waved the gun to my left. I was starting to feel the dampness of the blood on my skin. “But no one was ever going to hire me. There’s no acrobatics jobs out there anymore. You know what I like about the circus? No one gives a poo poo about your criminal record, as long as you’re willing to move wherever, whenever.” She was silent, for a bit, staring right past me into somewhere else. “And I don’t even get a balloon animal.”

“I’ll teach you,” I said. “I’ve blown up the balloons. You just need to pick them up and twist them.”

She hesitated. And then she put down her gun and picked up the balloons, and I gave her instructions until the police shot her in the head.

Haven
Dec 28, 2005

They might just as well've been closed.



Secret Quest
1059 words

A computerized voice rang out through the steel-reinforced room.


“Door opening in THREE minutes.”


Captain Hull stood in front of the device they called the Door, an eight foot tall pane of glass, bordered at the top and bottom by flashing red and white lights. When the computer finished its countdown and the lights went still, the pane would dissolve, and the Door would open. Beside her stood her commanding officer, Major Phillips, in a head to toe Kevlar suit, holding a red helmet.


“Another Opening Day,” he said, smirking. His favorite joke.


“Yes, sir,” Captain Hull responded, rolling her eyes at him. She’d heard it nearly every month for the past three years, but in all honesty she had grown fond of it.


“Let’s run down the safety protocol. Are the prods charged?”


“Yes, sir, prods are charged.”


“Containment traps are set?”


“Yes, sir. They’re set.”


“Self-destruct is armed?”


“Yes, sir, if a Xenomorph decides to wander through the Door today, the self-destruct is armed so we can nuke it from orbit,” she replied with good-natured exasperation.


“Excellent, Captain, that’s the only way to be sure,” he said, grinning. He turned towards her, more serious now. “I know you take this seriously. We don’t know what could come through any time we open this thing.”


“I know, sir, it’s just…it’s been three years, and nothing ever has. If we don’t find something soon, they’re going to cut our funding again, maybe even the whole project.”


The department had already cut the rest of their staff. They were now just a two-person operation, opening the Door once a month, hoping for any signs of life to wander through for study and analysis. If they could confirm life on other worlds, then maybe, eventually, they could find a viable Earth-alternative.


“How do we know this thing even works?” she asked, gesturing towards the phone booth shaped wormhole generator.


“It works,” the Major replied confidently. “We just have to keep trying. Who knows? Maybe today’s the day you get your wish. A space bunny. An exotic new bacteria...”


“A hot alien babe?”


“The possibilities are endless!”


“Door opening in ONE minute.”


The Major placed the red helmet over his head. “Better head on out, Hull, make sure that hatch locks behind you,” he said, turning to face the Door.


“Yes, sir, Judge Dredd,” she said with a salute. “Who made you this body armor anyway? You look like a wrestler from the 80s.” She stepped through the hatch into the control room, and double checked the locks.


“It’s all about range of motion!” he called through the intercom, demonstrating with some Hindu squats.


The control room was separated from the Door room by a large window of bulletproof glass. She sat down in front of the control panel just as the glass pane of the Door dissolved into an iridescent glow. After so many disappointments, she didn’t even feel nervous at openings anymore. She didn’t share Phillips’ confidence that the alien tech even worked. Or maybe whatever was on the other side was just smart enough not to stumble through.


“Door is OPEN.”


Hull peered through the glass, searching for any signs of life in the shifting, swirling smoke emanating from the Door. Major Phillips stood a few feet back from it, cattle prod in hand, braced and waiting.


Here we go again, she thought to herself. But then, Wait… what IS that?


A shadowy figure began to take shape.


Tall. Green. Scales. And horns.


“Oh, poo poo.”


A monstrous lizard lumbered out of the Door. Standing nearly as tall as the Door itself, it towered over Phillips. It took a few confused steps forward, then zeroed in on the snack-sized human in front of it.


“Oh poo poo, oh gently caress, what is that?” Hull blurted.


“It’s alright, stay calm, it’s under control,” the Major called out, not taking his eyes off the creature. “Drop containment.”


Hull snapped into action, mashing a button on the console to activate their extremely sophisticated containment device. In the Door room, a weighted net fell from the ceiling, dropping directly onto the monster.


“Yes!” she breathed in relief.


“Perfect, nice shot,” Phillips said, taking a careful step toward the ensnared lizard.


More angry than confused now, the massive lizard raised its arms and shredded the net with one swipe of its talons. It shook its head free and let out a roar that made the walls shake, before advancing on Phillips again.


Phillips raised his left arm in a protective stance and brought the cattle prod up with his right. It held enough charge to stun an elephant.


“We can’t contain it, we have to send it back. I’m gonna shock it back towards the Door!” he yelled. “Once it’s through, CLOSE IT!”


He jammed the prod into the creature’s chest with all his might, but instead of a powerful zap the wand bounced off scaly skin with a harmless thwack.


“What the gently caress?”


Hull’s heart sank. She hadn’t checked the prods. After years of absolutely nothing happening, she had grown lax in her safety checks. The cleaning crew must have knocked it off the charger and she never noticed.


The lizard kept coming, unphased by Phillips raining blows to its face and neck with the dead prod. He edged backwards step by step, keeping his arms up defensively, but soon he would be backed against the wall.


“Sir! I’m coming in there!” Hull yelled, already running towards the hatch, gun in hand.


“No!” he yelled back over the lizard’s roars. “We can’t risk it getting out, do NOT unlock that hatch, that’s an order!”


As it shuffled forward, the lizard’s feet tangled in the remnants of the containment net. Hull watched helplessly through the window as it tottered unsteadily. Sensing the opportunity, Phillips rushed it, slamming his body into the lizard’s mass and shoving it backward towards the Door. It let out one more ear-splitting cry before disappearing back through the portal.


“Close it close it close it CLOSE IT NOW!”


Hull fumbled with the controls. Her hands shook but the shutdown sequence finally initiated. The smoke dissipated and the glass panel appeared once again.


It was quiet for a long moment while they both caught their breath. Hull felt her pulse slowing to a normal rate.


“Well,” the Major finally said. “Looks like it works.”

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005




Flash: Fire Charm

Above/Besides

1428

-I-

On the branches of the tree, white from the pain of the sun, the piece of silk flaps in the final gasps of the day. The desert, sand packed tight as concrete, burns your feet. Perhaps you do not care, I don't know. I've brought you here, to this place, that's what's important.

Red rays stretch their fingers across the plain of white fading to grey. When you arrived, the reflection of sunlight on sand blinded you, now, all you have eyes for is that piece of fabric. Did it call to you as you left your apartment? Before that? Did it call to you in your cubicle? Your station? In the till? It must have, otherwise, you wouldn't be here.

Are you the carpenter or the fireman? The pensioner or the addict? You all meld together in my eyes, a soup of mediocrity.

But I can elevate you.

In your mind, you've stretched your fingers out to touch it a hundred times. One the drive here you saw it all, clear as day. The desert and the tree, the silk and the wind, the setting sun.

It's as if you've been here before, seen it all happen as if floating outside yourself.

You stretch out your fingers.

And then you're gone.

-II-

Brian leaned back in the armchair, held the teacup in a lose grip, gazed at the ceiling.

"Well, the car was gone," said the old woman, "The car was gone and I knew... You see, I knew that Dolph, he'd been to the store, he didn't have a reason to leave."

She'd said the same thing a dozen times in a dozen different ways. Brian was tired, he was hung over and he was frustrated. Nine disappearances in about as many weeks, all in the same county. The last slivers of sun slipped through the dirty blinds, cast the old woman's face in shuttered despair.

She was grasping her cup in white knuckle hands, rubbing it back and forth. There was a procedure here, a way to act.

Brian sat up, looked at her, "We're gonna find him."

She didn't look at him, only at the bare wall.

He stood up.

"I think I have what I need," he said, "At least I have something to work with. I'll be in touch."

She didn't reply, and he left after giving her an awkward nod. The air outside was hot, across the street, Sahar sat in the car, scrawling in a notepad. He walked over, opened the door, sat down in the driver's seat and turned the key.

"Anything?" said Sahar.

"Not much. She has no idea where he went, but he left suddenly and unexpectedly."

"Neighbors said he headed west, at speed," Sahar bit at the cap of her pen, sat a while in deep thought, "I'll call it in, I think I might be seeing a pattern."

Brian drove them back to the hotel as Sahar spoke to Langley. The director had requested the pair personally, and they reported only to him. Potential supernaturality had no other solution. Brian was a mess in social situations and Sahar had no respect for procedure, but they had something no one had ever been able to describe. A knack for the strange, an ability to see patterns where others would either stare in confusion or turn and run.

Brian remembered he'd read about how animals who had evolved to move through the treetops would see the world in a way that was impossible for regular humans to even imagine. Everything would... stand out. He thought of his gifts in the same way. He'd never been able to explain how, but the wiring beneath the boards was blindingly bright to him. Sahar was the only one who'd ever understood what he meant; she saw things the same way.

-III-

And yet, in spite of all your defenses, in spite of your knowledge and insight, I'm here, in your mind.

Right...

... There.

You see me now, don't you? White on white, sun on sun, silk on a branch.

Get up, leave the motel room.

She's sleeping, don't mind her. She'll call the director when you're gone, but she'll never catch up to you.

Get in the car, and drive west.

-IV-

Sahar knew it the moment she opened her eyes. Brian was gone, and whatever they were hunting had got him.

She sat at the edge of her bed for a long time before she called up the director. Outside, their car was gone from the parking lot. She explained the situation as best she could, but it was never really good enough for someone who'd never see what she saw. Her and Brian.

She closed her eyes, and turned off her mind.

The rest happened in quick succession. She confirmed with the weathered old woman at the front desk that Brian had driven west in the middle of the night, she rented a car from a place across the lot, ordered take-away, cleaned her gun, ate the now cold take-away and drove west herself. The town gave way to desert on both sides in the rush of 80 miles per hour, the open window made her hair a flurry. She stared straight ahead, drove on instinct.

Hers was not an instinct like that of pre-historic humans, but something else entirely. Like currents in the air, she could see the path of influence that had led Brian to... A tree? Something else, something with more life than anything borne of the mundane world.

Life existed in the right proportions in most cases, but too much life was a terrifying thing. Not like a cancer, not like overpopulation, but an overabundance of being. A footstep that ground the fabric of reality asunder.

There was something in the desert so alive that it drew the lost to it like moths to a flame, so permanent it was beyond permanence. A value beyond infinity.

A ribbon of silk, a white tree, now aflame.

-V-

I see you. You're different from the others. I see the dust kicked up by tires, the broken, packed sand trembling beneath your vehicle. The tree I've clung to, imbued with some of my presence, has taken the aspect of fire, as if the base idea of a primal fear could scare you.

It burns to coal beneath me as you stop the car and get out, but I remain still in the air.

And now I grow.

And now I envelop a point of heavy reality. A circle of silk, undulating.

You look at me with hate in your eyes. I understand. I understand that you do not understand.

But let me show you, let me take you to what is above and besides. Maybe you'll see, maybe you won't but it's worth a try, isn't it?

Yes, come closer, reach out your hand.

-VI-

And like that, she felt it. The supernatural thing in the desert promised something more, something richer, and the worst part was that it was right.

Sahar could feel a deep desperation settle in her soul. She saw the end of the world and the beginning of something new, and she wanted so desperately for that to be terrible and terrifying.

But it wasn't. It was good, it was better. It was an abundance of life and being that would lead to things impossible to describe, but richer in every aspect.

Her hand, an inch from the silk moving softly.

She closed the distance.

-6-

And her body burned as she flew backwards into concentrated being.

-G-

Deeper into reality itself, she was flung from the desert, soared above the torched plains, saw the world not from above but from beyond.

-And it's a beautiful sight, when you see it stretched into ribbons, when you can read the reason for everything written upon the sutures that keep your frail reality together-

And then it was ripped apart as she was flung ever forward, not stopping, never stopping.

-O-

The desert was a tablecloth, and on the other side of the table sat Brian.

"We can try it another way, if you want," he said.

Sahar blinked, shook her head.

"What?"

"Now that we're free from, well, linearity, we can see what would've happened if you hadn't gone after me. Or if you didn't have the instinct, or anything else you've yet to imagine."

Sahar looked at him, stunned into silence. Then she looked down at the table/desert.

A car appeared, driving east. Sahar gave Brian a crooked smile, and watched.

Tyrannosaurus
Apr 12, 2006




The Charm, NYC
2302 words

Tyrannosaurus fucked around with this message at 08:40 on Jan 4, 2020

Punkreas
May 13, 2013

*chews on head*


Lipstick Apathy

Sadly, gotta take a DQ on this week. Won't be a habit!

Perpetual Motion
Aug 12, 2013




Moonsweeper
(1451 Words)

“There, that ought to do it,” the astronaut said as she planted the last spiked node in the dusty lunar soil. After dusting off her gloves, she flicked on her radio. “All wrapped up here, commander. Last scanner node is in place. Ready to start the sweep.”

After a brief crackle of static, the commander responded. “Roger, Thompson. Pack up and get back to the lander so we can start the sequence. Don’t want to keep those eggheads back home waiting any longer.”

“Uh, I have a request, commander.”

“What is it now?” the commander asked with a sigh.

“Permission to stick around and watch the startup sequence. I’ve heard that it’s rather beautiful when all those scanners light up, and I’ve got quite the view from up here on this ridge.” She could just imagine the commander groaning and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“…Fine. You have five minutes. Any longer and you’re liable to get caught up in the sweep, and that’s the last thing we need.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Initiating sweep in three… two… one…”

At first, nothing seemed to happen, but soon enough Thompson noticed blue lights flickering on in the distance as the furthest nodes switched on. It had been one hell of an ambitious project. Scientists back home were testing out new scanning and computer simulation tech, and felt they were ready for a large-scale test. There were ethical and logistical questions raised about the scanning and simulating something as complex as a living creature, at least at this stage of the project, so a barren, completely unpopulated expanse of land was required. The only place that could fit the bill was, of course, the surface of the moon. It took nearly a year of missions to plant the grid of scanning nodes that would catalog the shape and makeup of the lunar landscape for accurate simulation. Hopefully the results would be worth it.

The lights of the sweep were advancing forward rather quickly, combining to form an aurora of shimmering blue pulses. Thompson couldn’t help but smile at the sight. All this work and money spent at least resulted in something beautiful, if nothing else.

It’s a shame no one else is here to see this. I don’t think my suit’s camera even records in color. It was in that moment of wonder, however, that Thompson made a fatal mistake. She took an idle step closer to the edge of the ridge, only to have the ground crumble beneath her. Reacting quickly, Thompson used the last of her footing to spin and make a desperate grab for what remained of the ledge, smacking her helmet off the rock face in the process. As the stars faded from her vision, she found herself barely clinging to the ridge, even as it continued to crumble under her grip. Her nose was bleeding from the impact, and had left a wide, crimson streak across the inside of her visor.

“Thompson! What happened?” the commander’s voice crackled over the radio. “Your vitals just spiked!”

“I’m… in a bit of a sticky situation, sir,” Thompson replied, her grip slipping a few more inches. “Accidentally stepped onto some unstable ground, and I’ve… taken a bit of a tumble over the edge.”

“Hold on, I’m coming to get you!”

“I’d advise against that, sir,” Thompson said, doing her best to remain calm. “You stepping out here is liable to make the whole cliff collapse. Besides, if you suited up and left now, you’d be arriving here a bit after the sweep, and the whole scan could take hours. I think… I think either I pull myself out of this, or I’m not coming back at all.”

“drat it!” Thompson heard a loud thump over the radio, presumably the commander pounding a console or wall in frustration.

“Look, it’s going to be okay. I think I got this…” Thompson reached forward, trying to find a higher handhold on the cliff face. There we go! She smiled, finally finding purchase on the wall. She couldn’t find anywhere to stick her boots, but in the lower gravity, she hoped she’d be able to hoist herself up with her arms alone. Unfortunately, her hopes were short lived as her handholds crumbled beneath her gloves, sending her sliding about a yard farther down the wall before she managed to stop herself. And it didn’t seem that she’d be able to remain there much very long, either, as she could already feel the wall giving way further. “Okay, maybe I don’t got this.” She glanced over her shoulder to see that the sweep was nearly upon her. If the fall didn’t kill her, then all the electromagnetic shenanigans going on in the scan would certainly fry her suit’s systems, if not her brain itself. And yet… she had an idea. A stupid, desperate, last ditch idea. “Commander… I don’t think there’s a way out of this. I… think I have an idea, though.”

“What is it, Thompson?”

“I’m going to hang on as long as I can, and let the sweep catch me.”

“Are you insane!?” Despite the outburst, Thompson could tell that the commander wasn’t angry with her. At himself, maybe, but this outburst was born of despair.

“Maybe, but if there’s even the slightest chance that the simulation captures me, my ‘essence’, then that’d be better than just dying, right?”

“There’s no telling what’ll come out the other side, though!”

“I’m still going to do this.”

“I… I guess if there’s no other way… But the report’s going to show that I object, alright?”

“You wouldn’t be the commander if you didn’t.” Thompson paused for a moment, noticing the blue glow of the sweep starting to creep into her peripheral vision. “Hey, commander? One final request.”

“Anything, Thompson.”

“When you tell my story, could you leave out how I died because I was an idiot?”

“…Of course.”

“It was an honor working with you, James.”

“Same… same to you, Alice.”

With that, Alice’s handholds finally fell to dust, and the astronaut slowly tumbled into the advancing blue light…


———


Alice sighed as she leaned against the somewhat impressive facsimile of a tree that had just flickered into existence behind her. Whoever was in charge of the simulation had already gone wild “terraforming” the landscape, adding all sorts of landmarks and features. Alice’s best guess was that they were just testing out their new toys before the real experimentation started. She had no idea how long she’d been there at the point. Day and night didn’t really exist, and there was no way of telling how her perception of time even worked in here. The fact that none of the electronics on her suit worked didn’t help any.

“What I really need is a plan,” Alice said to no one. Figuring out what to do with herself was a real challenge. There was only so much exploring she could do before even the weird objects and weather patterns the programmers were inventing failed to amuse her. “If only I could figure out how this place really worked…” The simulation itself was nowhere near perfect. Gravity was wildly inconsistent across the board, and certain physical processes just didn’t seem to function at all. As far as she could tell, she didn’t even need to eat, breathe, or sleep anymore. She could still think, move, see, and feel, though, which was good enough for her. An entire Victorian house shimmered into view about fifty yards away with an audible buzz, which finally sparked an idea in Alice’s head.

The real problem is that no one knows I’m here, or If they do, they don’t know where I am. This simulation is huge. I must not even be a blip on their radar. They can manipulate things in here freely, though. If I can get their attention, communication should be possible... Alice picked up a stone off the ground and took a quick jog towards the house. Once she was close enough to be confident in her aim, she tossed the rock up and down a few times to test the local gravity, then loosed it right through one of the house’s many windows, shattering it. Picking up more rocks, she repeated the process until each window on that side of the house was broken. If they’re so focused on testing out new things, they’ve got to notice if those things start inexplicably changing. If James filled out his incident report clearly enough, it shouldn’t take long for them to put two and two together. For the first time since waking up in the simulation, Alice smiled. “This might actually be kinda fun. Time to make some noise!”

Nethilia
Oct 17, 2012

Hullabalooza '96
Easily Depressed
Teenagers Edition


All in The Family Business
[1468]

https://thunderdome.cc/?story=7713&title=All+in+The+Family+Business

Nethilia fucked around with this message at 23:18 on Jan 2, 2020

Anomalous Amalgam
Feb 13, 2015

by Nyc_Tattoo


Doctor Rope


Transport Via Plants

Why the Sheriff Retired
1,090 Words

Sheriff Nolan tugged on his bush-like beard causing the already slack features of his face to stretch even further as he surveyed Marshall Jefferson. A young, city-raised, book-learned agent of the government that looked a better fit for a catalogue.

However, he wasn’t exactly normal. Jefferson ran immaculate nails over the brim of his archetypal cowboy hat. A pitch-black Stetson with a matching suit to complete the look of an out of place Federal agent.

He put the crisp hat onto his perfectly tousled hair and turned towards the rest of the posse with a too wide grin that triggered jeering and laughter, but he was unphased and a loud throat clearing from Sheriff Nolan put an end to his deputies’ uproar.

A greasy, gap-toothed man approach the Sheriff and began to protest, quietly, but not so quietly that Marshall Jefferson wouldn’t hear.

“The kid is green an’ downright weird, Sheriff. We don’t need deadweight like him on the round up. The Langdale Brothers are cornered off in the canyon down below, an’ if anyone is hesitant for a second, that’ll just be another body for their count. We don’t need this harebrained pencil pusher out there. He’ll just be a big target.”

His eyes met Marshall Jefferson’s briefly, and that too pleased grin was still etched in his handsome face.

“Don’t be so quick to judge the man, Deputy Hanes. He seems to know his way around, and I don’t have a say in the matter. We’re the ones following orders here.” Sheriff Nolan responded, nodding at Hanes and then at Jefferson, considering the matter resolved.

The Marshall’s smile faded into a plain expression, and mechanically, as if he struggled with finding the necessary words, he said, “I’m ready. I’m ready to ride, Sheriff. If we do not ride soon, the time will pass and the shifters will have passed through the vortices yet again.”

Sheriff Nolan and Deputy Hanes both turned towards Marshall Jefferson perplexed.

“Are you alright, son?” Sheriff Nolan asked.

“We must. We must ride, Sheriff. The cacti are in bloom. I can smell their blossoms on the wind. The air is rife with ley energy. The shift is approaching.” The Marshall answered with an animalistic look in his eyes.

The Sheriff and the Marshall stared at one another then, and an indescribable panic welled up in Sheriff Nolan as he read impersonal hatred in Jefferson’s eyes. The eyes of a wild beast. He swallowed hard, and Deputy Hanes not noticing the silent transaction interjected with petulant impatience.

“You heard the wacko, Sheriff. He says we need to ride, an’ that… I can agree with.” Hanes said, whistling at the other deputies who had circled around the entrance into the canyon. He tugged on his reins and rode towards the front.

Jefferson turned towards the Sheriff, and nodded his head slowly letting the brim of the hat conceal the top half of his face for a full five seconds before tilting his head back up. Eyes clamped nearly shut, a dull orange luminescence peeked out from the slits briefly, and Jefferson tugged on his reins sending his own horse galloping after Hanes.

Nolan trailed after warily, keeping a nervous distance between them.

***

The sun blazed overhead making lawmen and horse alike shudder under the tenacity of the heat which only seemed to magnify within the walls of the canyon.

What was meant to be a quick execution dragged out over hours as the deputies scoured the canyon floor for signs of the murderous Langdale duo who managed to outrun them at every turn.

Footprints would trail off towards shrubbery or cacti and then vanish all together. Then further down the canyon trails, a new set of prints would just pick back up from another random selection of sparse desert foliage.

“It just don’t make sense, Sheriff. I’ve never seen anything like it.” Hanes said using a grime caked hand to wipe away thick beads of sweat.

The Sheriff hadn’t been searching with his deputies, but he was also fairly soaked with sweat.

He turned towards the Marshall, who sat atop his horse, bone dry. Suit and hat, immaculate. Not a speck of dust on the man.

The unease the Sheriff felt had been replaced in the few short hours with a primal fear, and the others in the posse felt it as well.

“We are very near now. Keep going.” Marshall Jefferson ordered from atop his horse, the top half of his face obscured by hat and shadow.

The deputies checked each shrub, weed and cactus for any signs of the Langdale brothers when at last they came upon a small oasis.

A massive dome of writhing vine-like cacti constricted into a tightly bound ball before expanding back into a netted dome.

Silvery fluid ran along the cacti where its barbs had dug into its flesh, but new cacti bulbs or flowers, shades of yellow and blue, would fill the wounds as quickly as they were revealed, then after a short time the net would collapse in on itself again.

A mist of spores and unearthly energy created by the process coalesced into a shimmering oval that crackled into existence in the space at the center of the net. Reappearing each time the device expanded.

The deputies’ horses were the first to react. They bucked off their riders. One deputy was flung into the net as it constricted and in a matter of seconds he was destroyed; the totality of his body removed from existence. Fuel for the sphere.

Another was crushed under the hooves of a fleeing horse. Sheriff Nolan hugged his horse’s neck and nuzzled up against the creature, taking comfort in the sense of it as much as he tried to comfort it.

As he steadied his horse, he turned towards Marshall Jefferson whose visage began to shift. The orange slits open revealing oblong insectile eyes nestled in black chitinous carapace. Mandibles beneath them clattered indistinctly as long whip like antennae begin frantically rubbing against themselves, silky black wings that glistened in the moonlight exploded from his back flapping so hard that the gusts of wind created pushed the Sheriff from his horse.

The creature looked over at the Sheriff, and the image of the perfectly put together Marshall Jefferson came back into view. “Catch them. I’ll catch them, Sheriff. Leave. Leave here. Follow. I’ll follow.”

Then the illusion fell apart again as those wings thrust the creature into the open net and through the shimmering disc within.

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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





Bat on a Pendulum
1363 words

Archived

Antivehicular fucked around with this message at 23:55 on Dec 29, 2019

asap-salafi
May 5, 2012




Two Winners
1545 words

It was 4:15 pm on a Friday. He typed a few more words into the document on his computer and then turned it off. His phone buzzed, it was Davis.

“Hi, Matt.
Hurry up.
I need someone to talk to this queer creep Charles while I flirt with Marissa.”

The office was quiet. Matt grabbed a beer from his mini-fridge and gulped it down. Then he made his way down to the pub. Davis was sitting at a table in the corner talking very loudly. He spoke with his eyes solely focused on Marissa. Charles was also sat at the same table looking annoyingly bored and ready to go home.

“loving hell Davis, you’re all over her,” Matt told him as they walked away from the group towards the bar.

“Nah mate, I ain’t on that tonight. She’s a bit frigid. I think I might go see this Italian chick I know or that Anna girl from last week” Davis replied. They sat down on the bar stools at the busy bar. “But I might not now.”

“Why’s that? ” Matt asked. Davis' extensive love life excited Matt. Both men were married but Davis still acted like he was single.

“Because you’re out mate! Let’s get some shots and have a great time tonight! I want to go out on the pull!” Davis slurred his words as he ordered. “8 sambucas please!"

8 sambucas? Matt wanted to keep his head clear. He had never enjoyed drinking, dancing or socializing. In Matt's mind, there was nothing more satisfying than walking out of a casino with thousands of pounds in winnings. His gambling addiction did not mix well with alcohol and he had been keeping away from it for a while. However, his idea was that he could drag Davis to the casino with him after a few drinks. He would have someone to sit with him while he played blackjack, as well as someone to help him enjoy the money. Work is tough. Married life is tough. Kids are tough. Gambling was the only thing that helped.

--------------

A few hours later, they were drunk. It was just the two of them left, the rest of the party had gone home early. They stumbled down the streets, smoking Malboro Lights and acting like university students on a night out. Davis spoke to every woman that walked past and Matt continuously droned on about how much money he was going to make from Blackjack tonight. They went to the largest casino in town. As they walked in, Davis said something incredibly inappropriate to the beautiful hostess. She smiled politely at him.

They sat down at a busy table with high stakes. After an hour, it was evident that today wasn’t going to be as easy as Matt thought it would. It wasn’t that he had lost any money (he was currently breaking even). However, he wasn’t winning either.

Matt growled as he went bust again. He put more chips down for the next round. The sound of coins jangling distracted him for a second. He looked over at Davis who was coming back from the slot machines. In his hands were two plastic containers full of coins.

“Ah mate, I’m getting bored,” Davis told him. “Also, I need to get laid. There are too many beautiful women here. That waitress, in particular, looks delicious.” He called her over for the fifth time.

This constant flirtation secretly annoyed Matt and made him feel a bit embarrassed. Women didn’t seem interested in Davis. However, he refrained from commenting, he needed to keep his mind in the game.

“So how long have you been working here?” Davis asked the waitress.

“2…no 3 months. Did you want Diet or normal this time?

“And how long have you lived in this part of the world?”

“I’ve been here since I was born. Shall I just write down full fat?”

“Look, let’s be honest with each other here. I know you like me because you keep coming back to this table.”

The waitress laughed at this. “You’re spending so much money on drinks and you tip me every time I come over. Why would I not come?’

“Ooh, there is something you like. Money, right?”

She nodded. “But everyone likes money.”

“Well, here you go, buy yourself something nice.” Davis stuffed a handful of crumpled notes into her little hands.

“Uh, that’s way too much.”

“No it’s fine, you can have it. Just…give me your phone number.”

“You want me to give you my phone number because you gave me a massive tip?”

“Yes. And I will give you a bigger one if you give me your phone number” Davis nudged Matt to laugh at his witty remark. Matt gave him a polite smile.

“Fine.” The waitress took the bill for the drinks and scribbled down a number on it. “Happy now?”

“Very.” Davis' excitement was written all over his face after she walked away.

It took a while but Matt finally started winning. He felt his heart jump as the Jack he needed hit the table and suddenly things started looking up. Then he won another hand and this time he was the one telling Davis to call the waitress over again. He was feeling good. For a very short amount of time, they were winning and both of them felt like Hollywood stars. People came over to watch Matt play and Davis entertained them with his eccentric (drunk) conversation.

“Then I said to her…how would you like both of us inside you tonight?!” The crowd erupted in laughter.

It only took a few more hands and a few more drinks before Matt was back to his losing ways. He was nearly out of chips now. Matt blamed it all on how loosely he was playing. It was because he was excited, all that attention had distracted him. Now that he was losing, the crowd was dispersing. He decided to concentrate again. Now he was going to win.

Davis had excused himself a while ago and lumbered over to the toilets. The casino was full of different sorts of people. A lot of women were walking about in beautiful evening gowns and despite it being nearly 4 am, they looked fairly fresh and awake. “I. Will. Be. Seeing. You. Later!” He exclaimed as he walked past a particularly beautiful woman.

By the time Davis returned to the table from his long walk, Matt had lost a lot of money. He gloomily turned to Davis. His heartbroken facial expression told the entire story.

“What’s up, man? How much have you lost?” Davis asked his friend.

“Only a few hundred. I’ll make it back. Don’t worry.” He was lying, of course, Matt had lost nearly £13,000 at this point.

“Just count your losses at this point. Let’s hit up another bar and have a few more shots.”

Matt snapped. “No! I don’t want to drink. I want to loving gamble, you idiot.”

Davis rolled his eyes, completely unphased by his friend’s unhappiness. He hadn’t expected to be scolded tonight and it wasn’t his fault that Matt was poo poo at Blackjack. He didn’t enjoy confrontation and after watching a few more hands, he left quietly. Matt didn’t even notice.

Matt continued playing and started betting larger amounts of money. Within the next 20 minutes, Matt slowly emptied his personal savings account. He was down to his last £100 worth of chips. It had been the worst night of his life and he wanted to go out with a fight. He placed the remaining chips into place and the dealer took them away before dealing two 7’s. Sweat dribbled down the back of his neck as he waited for the next card to be dealt. The dealer dealt the cards and just like that, he was completely broke.

Afterward, he sat at the bar for what felt like eternity. Eventually, the same waitress who had given her number to Davis came over. He smiled at her. She asked if he wanted any more drinks. He declined.

Davis wandered the streets aimlessly for a little while. He swayed from side to side, stopping to ask every single person he met for a cigarette. If they were female, he would attempt to flirt a bit too. “Where have you been tonight?" Eventually, he bumped into a strange-looking larger woman who had big breasts. She had a deep voice, claimed her name was Jackie and offered her services to Davis. The money came out of his pocket instantly. They went behind a dumpster.

--------------

It was 9:15 am on a Monday. Matt poured his coffee.

“He-hey Matt! How’s it going?” It was Davis.

“Yeah not bad, how was Friday?”

“I managed to make my money back!” A lie. Matt’s wife had walked out of the house with the kids and he hadn’t seen her since. “What about you?”

“Ahh man, I rang that waitress up later that night and we had sex in a hotel.” In reality, Davis had gotten home to discover the door was locked and he had screamed at the top of his lungs, calling his wife a bitch and screaming that this was his house. Eventually, somebody called the police.

“Nice!”

“Yeah.”

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk








Turing complete


The car was 8 metres long, from snub nose to sharp tail fin, angled to kiss the air so well it made the ground jealous.

“When are we going today?” asked the car, her voice thrumming with the stuttering vibration of the powered up engine.

Evers was the driver, or the Driver really - the car was made for him and there could never be another for this particular car, just as there could never be a car without a driver. Evers patted her on her bonnet, ran a finger through the condensation that had formed overnight, traced a fernlike curving pattern that sent rivulets of water trickling across the mirror-smooth coating. “Into a moment," said Evers. "We need to snatch it."

"Thrilling," said the car. "I like the tight ones." Her doors swung up with an erotic hiss. "What are you waiting for? Get in."

Evers looked down, checked his pockets - zipped - his boots - sealed - his stance - perfect. "I'm not sure..."

The car was silent. Around them the vast garage was bustling with cars, people, sweepers, sootwranglers, juicejockeys, each of them with their job to do. Evers put his hand on the roof of the car and felt the quivering hum of the engine, imagined it spinning its fifty thousand revolutions per minute. What would it be like to be in there, he wondered, spinning around and around the singularity, staring at nothingness and everything. He was about to ask the car what she thought. Then he laughed. Cars didn't think. With a broad sweep of his hand he sent droplets flying and slide into the dark cockpit, feeling the seat mold itself around him. "Let's go," he breathed, and every light in front of him lit up, a galaxy of indicators, warnings, all clears, suggestions and exhortations. The car's hum built to a howling whine, and the image of the garage outside started to waver as the shifter rotor began to bite.

"Control," said Evers, and checked the generator uptake curve as the throttle and steering yoke rose up between his legs. It blinked green, nominal. "Shall we travel?"

The car laughed. "I don't know, shall we?"

Evers grinned, then slammed in the interlock and they both howled in broken harmony as they punched forward and through the superficies, somehow stretching out as they plunged down, through and around the floor.

It wasn't the first time they'd seen the infinitely intertwined skein of history, events and lives spiralling around and over each other, and it wasn't far off being the hundred thousandth time. Still Evers permitted himself a moment of delight at the absurd beauty of the sight then slammed the car into a curve that sent them streaking across the centuries like a sleek metal and carbon-fibre comet.

"I'm not seeing a function," called out the car.

Evers could feel his hands sweating on the control yoke and wiped them on his leg, first one then the other. "It's epimorphic, comes around on the underflow. Stick with me, give me everything you've got."

The next few minutes were a dizzying whirl as they bounced and bobbed across the timeflow, spiralling down towards the past. Jabbing splines of invariant fractions loomed out at them, the car twitching left and right to miss them by micrometers. "This is not an approved route, Evers," she observed.

"I've approved it, ok? Stick with me. Stick with me. Stick with meeeeee," his voice elongated as a bicategory caught them amidships and began, slowly, horribly, to route them through an n-dimensional transform. Evers' hand reached out, stretching out and curving around corners that he could only dimly apprehend to a thing that shimmered and changed as his fingers approached it."

"L a m b d a C a l c u l u s M a n i p u l a t i o n D e t e c t e d" fluted the car's voice, "I n d u c i n g D e f i n i t i o n ."

The whole body of the car shuddered and warped then, as the abstraction caught it, reformed with a howling scream of overloaded shift rotors. They were back in normal space, skimming along above the surface of a country road, centimetres about the tarmac. "Nearly," said Evers, the nausea clogging his throat and making his voice thick. "Nearly," he said.

The road curved left, then right, swaying poplars flickering past in epileptic profusion. he tightened his hands on the yoke, then relaxed them, ready to grab the single moment he was here to save.

"Now," he whispered, and yanked back hard on the yoke and sent the car sliding into a wall made of rough-hewn stones. The impact made no sound but sent the car flying, spinning around and around like a diabolo flung high in the air to crash down to earth.

The car was broken, its back cracked in two. Evers was coccooned in crash foam, but he could feel the thrust beam where it had pinioned him. "Are you there," he asked, voice cracking as he lay dying.

"I'm here," said the car.

"I wish you didn't have to come with me," he said. "I wish you could have found another driver."

"I... " The car was silent, and the world was dimming. He thought of the endless trail of moments he'd had, sad and beautiful and terrifying and wrong and right and saw the moment of his end coming for him like a jewel, glittering in rays that went back and forth through time, from this moment to that and then back again, all leading to this instant right here, the one that came after this thought he was having right

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!






Submissions closed.

Flesnolk
Apr 11, 2012

h

Prompt

Black Griffon
Mar 12, 2005


Interprompt: my cat ate a spider today. Write a story about someone being eaten, 250 words.
Universal Hellrule: NO VORE

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asap-salafi
May 5, 2012


Black Griffon posted:

Interprompt: my cat ate a spider today. Write a story about someone being eaten, 250 words.
Universal Hellrule: NO VORE

Eat Boy, Eat
247 words

An animal had not wandered in these parts since Jilani was a toddler. He thought back to a few years ago. Paddling around with his dog in the woods. It felt like such a long time ago.

As he tucked into his food, Massi watched him. “You will not eat?” Jilani asked his old friend.

Massi had also played with the dog when they were children. Massi did not speak. He stared and watched. He had always been quiet. He was extra quiet today.

“Massi? Are you hungry?”

Massi opened his mouth and screamed at Jilani. Jilani screamed too. The next thing Jilani knew, his father and uncle were shaking him awake. His father poured the red liquid into his mouth.

“Eat. Eat boy.” His uncle said, wide-eyed, his face covered in the traditional village warpaint they all wore.

Jilani felt sick from the red liquid but he knew that if he threw up, nothing would be left in his stomach. He had to eat. He looked at his father. “I will eat.” He stated.

And he did. Jilani ate. He ate the entire bowl of meat. Then he looked over at where Massi had been sitting. He was no longer sitting there. Jilani looked at his father and uncle again, they were watching him intently. “Where did Massi go? He was right there.” He pointed at the empty wooden log where Massi had been seated a minute ago.

Jilani’s father and uncle looked at each other.

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