|# ? Oct 8, 2019 20:27|
|# ? Oct 2, 2022 22:08|
in hell rule
|# ? Oct 8, 2019 20:43|
in hell rule
35, the end took away people's ability to speak
|# ? Oct 8, 2019 21:54|
someones hacking me causing me to double post
|# ? Oct 8, 2019 21:54|
In. Hell rule me.
|# ? Oct 8, 2019 22:10|
In. Hell rule me.
76, a domestic animal now rules the world
|# ? Oct 8, 2019 22:42|
|# ? Oct 10, 2019 19:40|
|# ? Oct 10, 2019 19:50|
Additional rules will be provided on request, with a as is my custom
|# ? Oct 10, 2019 20:22|
|# ? Oct 10, 2019 20:33|
Get yourselves some Sebmojo Edition Hellrules, cowards
46, the world is about to end again
|# ? Oct 10, 2019 21:11|
for that smojo flava
|# ? Oct 10, 2019 21:19|
for that smojo flava
Your characters cannot stop exploding
|# ? Oct 10, 2019 21:25|
Okay. First time In. I would like to for a mod challenge rule, too.
|# ? Oct 11, 2019 00:16|
Okay. First time In. I would like to for a mod challenge rule, too.
Your protagonist was the sole cause of the apocalypse, and feels really good about it
|# ? Oct 11, 2019 02:53|
Okay. First time In. I would like to for a mod challenge rule, too.
|# ? Oct 11, 2019 07:56|
|# ? Oct 11, 2019 08:58|
|# ? Oct 11, 2019 11:17|
Still a judge spot open. We've got a lot of stories to get through this week (unless you all fail), we'll appreciate the help.
|# ? Oct 11, 2019 15:13|
Your protagonist was the sole cause of the apocalypse, and feels really good about it
Flash rules included according to the prompt post. The story is 1200 words or so.
A Deal With The Snake
Tom looked at the room full of his art, a trove of masterpieces that all could be the magnum opus of a lesser artist. Tom picked up a paint brush and hurled it at a particularly good painting, but the bristles of the paint brush were dry and didn’t leave a satisfying mark on the canvas. Instead, the canvas he’d thrown the brush at started to change on it’s surface, the picture turning from some modern art rendition into a distorted version of Tom himself.
Tom knew what the picture was immediately, he was naked and in the shape of the Ouroboros, his body making an “O” created from his mouth devouring his feet. Tom wrinkled his nose. He wouldn’t ever paint a thing like that, it was too derivative and he left behind self portraiture in one of his earlier artistic phases.
As Tom watched, his portrait version continued to eat his feet, then his legs, then his hips…
Tom woke up in his bed, laughing at the images conjured by his mind in his repose. Himself as an Ouroboros. Ha! But the overall feeling of the dream stayed and tickled at his mind like the breath of an unseen wind. He thought of his studio full of million dollar paintings, his one-point-five million followers on social media, the hours of interviews, benefits, gallas, and how it all seemed to quickly fade into obscurity as the thrill from each accomplishment rapidly diminished.
A steaming cup of black coffee didn’t help matters much. Tom couldn’t shake the image of himself as a big circle, a big derivative circle. He had long since eschewed the use of cultural tripe and external images in his own art because he believed that his art-hole, so to speak, was one-way-only, meaning his content came out, pure and uncontaminated, representing his ideas and his ideas alone.
As he sipped his coffee, a revelation struck Tom...he needed to close the loop even tighter. It wasn’t enough to have a perfectly closed system of artistic inspiration in the safe room of his mind, he needed to eliminated the one variable outside of his creative control: the audience.
Tom had recently joined a sex-positive coven of Satanist anarchists, who, like Tom, thought of freedom from cultural touchpoints and inhibitions as their highest value. Mostly he went for the orgies, but in doing so had picked up on several of the summon chants used to gain the favor of the titular religious figure.
He went into his studio and drew an abstract symbol on the floor, his personal version of a pentagram but entirely unique. He sat back on his heels, thinking. If he did summon the devil, what would he ask for? Not inspiration, because that inspiration would by definition come from someone other than himself, which would violate Tom’s long-held self imposed rules of creating. No. He had to know exactly what his artistic expression needed to look like before he called upon Satan for aid, or the whole project would be for naught.
Tom thought again of the Ouroboros in his dreams, his body in it’s “O” shape. He thought about closing the loop. Art needed to change a person in some way, whether showing them the familiar in a new way, or provoking a feeling in them that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to obtain anywhere else. But how could Tom surprise, delight, change, awe, anger, enlighten, or enchant himself? It was like trying to tickle yourself, better done by someone else’s hands.
Having stripped naked for the ritual, Tom laughed and looked down at himself. Trying to make effective art for himself? He may as well try to shove his head down between his own legs and service his own parts. His highest potential achievement was a paradox of the impossible.
As he gazed down at himself, the thought hit him that there was a way to create a change inside himself, perform an act with no meaningful audience outside of his own experience.
He knew what he was going to ask of Satan.
The devil sprang into the mortal world with only a little bit of chanting and writhing around on Tom’s un-pentagram.
“It took you long enough,” Satan drawled, inspecting one red long-nailed hand. “I was beginning to think you were too proud to seek my help in taking the next step.”
“I had to know what I truly needed to create before making a deal with the devil,” Tom said, smirking.
The devil nodded in proud acknowledgment, a slow tilt up and down of his head. “Very good, my child. Now speak of your desire, and I will strike you a fitting bargain.”
Tom gulped, already ashamed of the words he was about to utter but knowing absolute precision was required. “All of my art, my pain, my glory, and my debauchery has lead me to this one request,” he intoned gravely. “Sometimes art is a journey back to the obvious, but with new understanding. As such, I require for my artistic purposes that my phallus grow to a size that allows me to,” he gulped, “orally pleasure myself for long periods of time.”
“How hedonistic,” Satan said, grinning. “I love it. And I have just the bargain. For every centimeter your phallus grows, I will remove one noun from existence.”
“A noun?” Tom repeated. “And those nouns, no one would be able to use them again?”
“Correct,” said the devil, twitching his pointed tail impatiently.
Tom considered the offer, knowing he wouldn’t get a second one. He didn’t need all that much length, maybe a foot-and-a-half or so. That wasn’t all that many nouns, in the scheme of things. Before he could second guess himself, he looked up at the devil and said, “I accept.”
“Very good,” said Satan. “I am going to start the growth process. Say “when.”” He leered perversely at Tom.
The growth began, Tom’s protrusion gaining a miniscule amount of length.
“Shoehorn,” the devil said, and Tom forgot the tool that helped him put on his dress shoes.
“Trilby. Kumquat,” the devil’s words were coming quickly now, faster than Tom’s mind could acknowledge the sudden lack of nouns. “
But he was mesmerized by the slow, almost magical growth happening between his legs, the growth gaining circumference and tumescence. It was like a legendary serpent, an uncurled Ouroboros, was rising up to kiss him like a scene from a myth.
“Ceiling,” the devil said, and there were no more coverings for the tops of houses, just an opening framed by four walls.
“Family. Friends. Society. Sanity.”
Tom was naked and alone in the wilderness, with no knowledge in his head except the art, the need to close his own circle and perform this last transcendent act of self expression. As Tom’s appendage continued to grow, he felt himself pressing against his lips, asking to be let inside himself. He opened his doors gladly, and closed his own circle.
The devil had uttered seventy nouns at that point, seventy centimeters added to Tom’s “art”. Tom was too lost in the blissful truth of his own self expression to pay anymore attention to the destruction of existence around him.
“Gravity,” intoned the devil, and Tom began to drift up into the sky, still locked in the legendary kiss with his snake, his head bobbing rhythmically.
With one last wicked grin, the devil uttered “Art.”
And suddenly Tom was just a man alone in a vacuum, sucking his own dick in a void of his own creation.
|# ? Oct 12, 2019 03:12|
SlipUp fucked around with this message at 20:10 on Dec 30, 2019
|# ? Oct 13, 2019 20:01|
Prompt: 85, no hellrule
The Hounds of Regret
People talk of “instant regret”, but that is wrong. Like any strong emotion, true regret takes time to form. In his last speech, the president had promised the Enemy that they would regret their actions. From speech to now, 85 hours.
When the bombs fell on them, would they really feel what he’d promised them? Because they felt like they might have changed this outcome? But probably they knew that this was never about them. Rather, would the feel regret for having to retaliate?
The president’s finger lingered on the final button of the launch sequence. His final big decision: launch the missiles full of hellfire, or withdraw? Blissfully removed in this one moment from the forces pulling at him from all sides: the advisors, the lobbyists, the concerned citizens. Voices screaming from all sides: they will regret it! You will regret it! The world will regret it!
But what did they really know about regret? About the guilt that gnawed at him for every decision he made? For the poisoned advice he chose to swallow?
When he was still a young politician with an eye out for the governor’s seat. The arsenic of a corporate crony, a favor for a favor. An election won on corruption’s back, the first of many. The only one he really regretted, because this first choice made every subsequent one simple.
When he thought he might try for higher office, become a Secretary. Hemlock of a rich heiress at a fundraiser party: if he really thought he could succeed without a proper Christian wife to show around? Children of his own he could kiss instead of strangers’ at a rally? When neither wife nor children were what he wanted. But he wanted even less to stop at this level of career. So, regretfully, a union was made before an altar, and humans were conceived which took him years to appreciate just a little bit.
Finally, when he dared to reach for the stars. A cyanide pill he swallowed dry: the generals who convinced him of the public’s thirst for blood, that pursuing aggressive action against the Enemy would get him elected. And it did, he floated to the top in a sea of blood and corpses. Immigrants from nations now considered evil, lynched by mobs on the streets. An atmosphere of violence he stoked with his words, with every protuberance of this seething cauldron burning scars of even more regret across his face.
Oh, how the dogs of regret buried their teeth in him every second. He drank to dull the memories of his decisions, but their consequences had clear outlines no matter how blurry his vision got. Each cheque from a source he dared not reveal, each complaint from his wife, each tear of his children, each fallen soldier in a statistic laid before him, no matter the side. They chomped and tore and ripped his flesh apart and left him a bleeding mess, hounded by his past with no escape but constant stumbling forward.
And this is how his finger had ended up on the button which would eradicate the Enemy. What would happen next? Before him, the pills he could choose to swallow to dull the pain of his latest, gravest decision. The consequences carefully analyzed by his staff, probabilities given to the third digit, various outcomes:
All of this was nonsense. The president knew very well what the outcome of him pressing the button would be: annihilation of almost the entire planet. As he had known that his decisions would annihilate his credibility, his private life, and his soul. Mount regrets on him that just kept building, with his only hope for himself that the next professional achievement would distract the hellhounds for a bit.
But now? There was nowhere to go from here. His only escape, again, to stumble forward: attempting to outrun the hounds until the Enemy’s missiles obliterated them, him and the rest of humanity. Because, after all, regret takes a while to sink in, right?
With that in mind, he had pressed the button.
It took precisely 85 milliseconds for the hounds to catch up.
|# ? Oct 13, 2019 20:05|
Rule: 47 (decades) after the end
The Prosecution Finally Gets To The Good Bit As They Sum Up The Case Against Several Of My Descendants In The Early October Of 470 CE
...along with two shovels, a paper map, and three hundred and fifty-two archaic datastores known as ‘flash drives’. The Deceased, an archaeologist, was interred privately in the Pentland Hills outside Old Edinburgh – that’s Exhibit D, the inset on page four, m’lud – approximately 15 CE. To reiterate: based on the standard Registry analysis of the Deceased’s Pre-Collapse social media posting, this bloodline is registered Denier and is not entitled to outside privileges.
I remind the Court of the statement from Denier P. Erati wherein she insists that – I quote – ‘we wurnae there tae sort the daft oval office oot, we jist wanted the truth’. Thus while the Prosecution acknowledges Muldowney vs. Mortuary Regulation Unit and the right of Deniers to their exhumatory vengeance rituals, this is – if I understand the Denier correctly – not the issue at hand. Thus, it begs the question: if not for a forgivable revenge on their feckless fool of a forefather, then how can the accused justify their excursion outside the Dome?
The answer from the Defence has been unorthodox, to say the least. There is no public interest argument to be made. The repeated claims to the contrary in this Court by Denier F. Erati and others are nonsensical and may be safely disregarded. After all, his ancestor was not a public figure. His ancestor was merely a Denier.
This is not to say that these ridiculous representations are irrelevant to the facts of law. If you’ll indulge me a little longer, m’lud, I intend to show that the mitigation offered places the accused beyond the specific protections of Muldowney and merits harsher sentencing.
I thus turn to the matter of the alleged ‘time capsule’. The contention of the Defence that the cache is a matter of retained family legend is unverifiable hearsay. As regards the contents of the capsule, these – the digital encyclopedias, the personal correspondence, and what, absurdly, is claimed to be more material from the Pre-Collapse platform ‘Twitter’ than the total content of the entire Registry! – were not excavated to Ministry standards. Even Denier G. Erati, when questioned, could not say with perfect certainty that the data was not corrupted over the four centuries it has been underground, or for that matter deliberately falsified by their dishonoured ancestor-
Thank you, m’lud, I shall continue despite the loutish interruption. On the basis of this absurdity it is contended that the data is of inestimable genealogical value and thus exonerates the Deceased both specifically and in the general. The Defence also dares to make some inchoate suggestion that the Registry itself is compromised.
It is obviously not necessary for the Court to make a ruling on this inflammatory activist assertion. Furthermore, I have proven beyond doubt that said evidence offered by the Defence has been obtained in violation of both their caste restrictions and the Bloodline Archaeology Act, and the Prosecution therefore moves that this despicable libel be struck from the record, m’lud, before we proceed to your judgement...
|# ? Oct 13, 2019 20:45|
From the computer in the living room I check the latest report the meteorologists have put together. So far, they haven't changed course, and that brings me a great deal of joy. As I sit and read over the same prediction, I bounce my legs up and down. Two days from now there is going to be a safe travel window. Uncle João and I are going to travel to the larger bunker to the southeast to exchange yeast cultures that the scientists have been developing. I don't care as much about that; sure, it's "neat" or whatever, but more exciting is the novelty of going somewhere different.
Mama manages to sneak up behind me and touches my shoulder. I shout; she laughs.
"You don't have to check that every chance you get. He'd tell you if something changed, you know," she says.
"I didn't want to wait for Uncle to wake up to know," I reply.
"Fair enough. Did you finish your homework?"
"Yes, Mama. Mum wouldn't let me go play basketball until I finished."
She pats my back and I hear her tread into the kitchen. I continue to read and reread the report on the screen. Three days, each finally dipping below 40c, before shooting back up to 50c. It might be cloudy, but it isn't expected to storm.
Later, Mum gets up and she beckons along with Mama for me to come eat breakfast with them before I leave for school. They talk about their plans for the day but I don't pay a lot of attention, but I know that there's something about a vacuum pump and another about the hydroponic garden. They both wish me a good day before I leave and ask me to try my best to pay attention. I promise I will.
I let the day pass me by for the most part. Some of my friends and I speak about my coming trip and they ask me to tell them about it when I come back. Most of us haven't gotten to go, except for the older students. I'm unsure of how I'll feel when I see the surface. I think of the bags we have waiting to go in the closet that are filled with supplies we need. I've heard what the older students have said about surface before but nothing will seem real until I get to see it firsthand.
When the day arrives, I wake up before Uncle João and look at the computer one more time to be sure nothing has changed, and sure enough, nothing has. I take the bags out of the closet and carry them over to the door. When Uncle João comes out into the living room, he takes his boots, laces them up, and says "Let's go" and nothing else.
A massive lift carries us and the van up to the surface. All the while he says nothing, and I stare out the windows while the doors to the bunker open. It isn't brighter outside, but the light does feel different from being underground. It feels odd being there. As we drive out onto the cracked road, Uncle João starts touching some buttons in the car. A harsh noise blasts from the speakers, and he says, "Oh, right," and pushes a button to stop the noise.
He keeps driving and we continue on the road. The trip is quite bumpy and we have to keep the AC at full blast lest we overheat. I feel chilly and warm at the same time and it's rather unpleasant. I look out the side window and see abandoned buildings and sparse plant life, mostly weeds. It doesn't look anything like what the surface looks like in pictures from the past. I think nobody feels like taking pictures out here anymore.
We continue the trip in silence. There is only a cloudy sky, what's been abandoned, and what little has grown around it. It's completely silent outside save the wind and the noise our van makes. I look at Uncle, and he has an intense look on his face as though driving is the most difficult thing in the world, so I let him be. I know that Uncle João was my age when everyone had to start living underground. I'm fifteen years old and he is forty seven. I know about this because Mama told me, and she warned me not to ask him about it, so I never do. I think I get it.
After several hours, with only one short stop to eat some of the food we had packed, we arrive at the other bunker, and we go down another lift after Uncle identifies us and our cargo to someone who had been waiting outside. We step out of the van once Uncle has navigated to a loading zone that looks just like the one we have at home. I rush to hug him, and he seems surprised.
"Why don't you go look around, maybe see if there's some other kids that play basketball?," he asks. "We'll be staying in room D-33."
"What if I get lost?"
"You're a smart young woman. I wouldn't worry about that."
I leave for the lifts to the other levels. The placard indicating where facilities are next to the call buttons is of the same design as the one at home. Everything is in the same place for the most part; it seems that the bunker is simply slightly larger. I call for the lift and choose the floor where the gymnasium is located. I walk down the corridor and I look all around me. The lighting is the same long white strips embedded in the ceiling. The walls and floor are the same impersonal concrete. There is one other person in the corridor, but they pay me no mind. I enter the gymnasium and see a group of younger children playing football and a couple playing tennis, but no basketball. I leave and take the lift again, this time to our quarters. They look like home, but without our things or people. I sit at a table waiting for Uncle to arrive.
When he arrives an hour later, he looks confused.
"I figured you'd be longer."
"There wasn't anyone playing basketball, so I didn't stay."
We are both silent for a moment.
"Well, kid, what do you think?"
"I thought it'd be different. I thought it'd be exciting. I didn't think it'd be the same."
"Sometimes, things not being exciting is a blessing."
I think about this for a moment. I don't really agree, but his capacity for excitement must have gone when the world did.
"Thank you for taking me with you, Uncle João."
"Thank you for coming. It was nice not being alone on the drive."
Since we hadn't spoke on the drive, I didn't think it should have made much difference. I hug him again, and we start to prepare dinner. We sleep, and then return the next day.
|# ? Oct 13, 2019 21:14|
35, the end took away people's ability to speak
Orbach was sure he could fix the problem if he could find his way back home and figure out how to type with hooves. He was having enough trouble right now just trying to hurry down the sidewalk with four legs. The simple left, right, left, right motion that was perfectly adequate when he was a human just didn’t hold up for a pig. He tried and failed to jump over a businessman flopping around on the sidewalk, hitting his snout on the pavement instead.
“Poor guy” thought Orbach as he picked himself up. “Swapped with a fish. I just hope he doesn’t have as much trouble figuring out how to breathe with gills.”
The machine wasn’t supposed to work like this. It was supposed to just better acclimate migratory birds to the effects of climate change. Mind-swapping all humans and animals was a pretty big glitch. But anything the machine could do one way it could do the other direction. Orbach just had to figure out how. It had only been 35 minutes so if he hurried he could change everyone back and if not put everything back to normal, at least prevent a raccoon from accidentally launching some nukes. He turned right at the intersection, past some crashed cars and a construction worker vigorously chewing on a two-by-four.
He trudged down the street to his house where the former boy genius confronted the greatest obstacle yet to saving the world and cleaning up his own mess: a doorknob. The door was a heavy imposing brown oak with a button knob that lay a monstrous 11 inches above the top of his head. Orbach stared at in horror. He remembered a friend of his had once mentioned off-hand that lever door handles were better for the handicapped and elderly since they were easier on the wrists. Orbach had never considered his failure to adopt a more ergonomic technology might endanger the future of the world. He couldn’t give up though. Any man smart enough to invent a brain-swapping device has to be smart enough to open a door.
Orbach followed the sound and saw his salvation: the mayor had gotten into the trash. Orbach charged the mayor, grunting wildly. He didn’t need to gore the guy, he wasn’t sure he could without tusks, but he did need to scare the little racoon-brain off. Unfortunately, this little guy had courage. The mayor hissed at Orbach and launched himself at the pig, teeth bared. Orbach was not the kind of burly pig that ends up as sports mascots but the kind that ends up painted on nursery room walls, but his light-pink hide was still tough enough to absorb the mayors teeth. Unfortunately Orbach’s forty minutes of pig experience was still not enough to master his new body’s coordination, and his attempts to writhe away from the mayor’s attempt at clawing only succeeded in him tripping over his own hooves. Orbach thudded snout-first into the trash pile. The mayor growled and stalked towards him.
“I’m in his food.” Orbach thought, “He wants me to run away, but I can’t. I need this trash can.”
A lightbulb went off.
“But he doesn’t. The trash is all out.”
Orbach got to his hooves as fast as he could and charged straight into the trash can with all of his weight. The can provided shelter from the mayor and more importantly a way to get it to his door. Orbach headbutted the can repeatedly as hard as he could, feeling the can thump beneath him with each charge. He peeked out. With Orbach out of his territory the mayor had lost interest and gone back to chomping on an old banana peel. He was safe. Orbach got out, but the can by the wheel and dragged it the rest of the way to his stoop.
Perched on top of the can, Orbach carefully placed his mouth on the doorknob and bit down, turning his head as much as his stiff pig neck allowed while pushing with all of his might. The door opened. This was it. He trotted into his lab. Even robbed of his opposable thumbs Orbach could probably buy some time through reconfiguring the thermal recompressor which had big enough parts he could still handle them which would- Orbach stopped. In his lab within the wreckage of sparking circuits and disconnected wires was Orbach’s old body pulling out his CPU’s circuit board in search of truffles.
This was going to take a while. Orbach just hoped the world could hold on.
|# ? Oct 13, 2019 22:09|
915 / 1,200 words
Read it in the Archive.
Staggy fucked around with this message at 12:50 on Dec 30, 2019
|# ? Oct 13, 2019 22:31|
89, everyone is happy with the apocalypse
The Three Rituals
The Sacrifice takes place on what was once known as New Year’s Eve, The Feast; on Christmas Day and The Plunder; on Valentine’s Day. Nobody suffers and in each region, the Klevite reap the rewards on behalf of the Medicine God. Why does nobody suffer? Well, that’s where the medicine comes in. This warm liquid completely anesthetizes those selected for each ritual.
On the last night of 2107, Fallon stood in a grimy encampment situated at the top of a vast denuded desert peninsula as a group of shirtless soldiers put down a sheet-wrapped cage. He clasped a jug to his chest and once the men had discarded the cage, he picked up the accompanying dusty metal cradle and approached the cage. His thin figure cast an imposing shadow behind him as he walked past the burning fire, the moonlight glistened on his green teeth as he smirked at the soldiers. Fallon was a stick figured man with scabs on his feet and boils on his cheeks. He had often wondered about these imperfections in his appearance but the Klevite had commanded him not to think about such things. They advised him to stick to his job and serve medicine. Oftentimes, Fallon felt contempt towards his ongoing living situation. He lived in this camp alone with no food and it was starting to become infested with cockroaches. His awful appearance and daunting demeanor were personified by his messy grey flea-infested hair and ripped clothing.
One of the soldiers abruptly stepped forward. He was a Klevite, a man in direct communication with the Medicine God, as elucidated by the black mask covering his face and the black markings on his chest. He placed a scraggly piece of paper into Fallon’s boney hands. “Here he is. You know the drill, Medicine Provider. The sacrifice for this year's celebrations is inside. We will return in 15 minutes.” And with that, the Klevite soldiers left.
Fallon pulled back the blue tarpaulin which covered the unattended cage. Behind the wooden bars sat a youthful stick-thin figure wearing rags.
The man in the cage arose from his cross-legged position on the ground. His face was also covered, but unlike the Klevite soldiers, his mask was a red color and it did not shroud his hairless head. He beamed at Fallon and raised his hand to gesture hello before he spoke. “Are you the medicine provider?” He lumbered to the edge of the cage as he spoke so that he was face to face with Fallon. “You smell bad.” He said naively. His high pitched voice made the sentence sound innocent but he giggled as he spoke.
Is he trying to make a mockery of me? Fallon asked himself. It was unclear whether the man was merely excited or trying to be funny. Fallon noted that the cage was unlocked. Not that it mattered, these hicks were under the impression that it was a privilege to be selected for a ritual. He would never try to escape.
Fallon sneered at the man in the cage; a failed attempt at a smile. “I have never come across a sacrifice with such little regard for his medicine provider. What is your name boy?” He asked.
“Jack.” The man told him confidently “I’m sorry, you just smell bad.” Again he laughed at the end of his sentence.
Fallon raised his eyebrow and hissed, he had been doing this thankless job for too long. It was decided now, he would make this man suffer. It had been a few years since he had enjoyed himself. “Jack. Would you like to hear a story before I give you your medicine?”
The caged man nodded excitedly. He hadn’t stopped smiling since Fallon had pulled back the sheet and it looked like his head was going to implode.
“We have some time before you go in for your sacrifice. Do you know of The Plunder? Of course, you do. The beautiful young women and men who are sent to the Klevite to be mounted. Of course, they never feel what is happening. They all smile and enjoy themselves as the Klevite lay their seed inside them, many often boast of their encounter afterward. Being mounted by the Klevite is a great honor after all.” Fallon stopped to swallow the saliva that was gathering in his mouth, he was enjoying this. "There was one young girl who did not boast of her experience. A vindictive young woman, she went into The Plunder with a big smile on her face, not dissimilar to your own smile. When she got in…” Fallon paused for the climax. "I heard her scream. She screamed “It hurts!! It hurts! Stop! Please stop!” What do you think of that, young Jack?”
“Why would she ask the Medicine God to stop? Being chosen for The Plunder is almost a big a privilege as being chosen for The Feed.” Jack chuckled as he spoke. He was still grinning.
“Ah, The Feed. Let me tell you, Jack, there was a fat man who came here for The Feed. His disgusting flab jiggled when he walked around his cage - similar to the one you are in now. He was rude to me like you were just now; if I remember correctly...he told me I looked like I could use a meal. A few minutes later, as the Klevite ripped apart his body and fed from his flesh, he screamed the same thing as the woman. I heard him, from this very spot. He screamed “It hurts! It hurts! Please stop!” What do you think of that young Jack?" Now Fallon was the one laughing after he finished speaking.
Jack's eyes had expanded. His lips had spread thin.
Fallon looked down at the jug he had initially intended to use, it was full. “Oh...I think this is empty. Let me get the other jug for you.” He lied.
He turned around and went back to his tent. He rummaged around for another jug and filled it with bottled water. When he returned to the cage, Jack was still standing at the cage door. His hands were grasping onto the cage’s door and he had pissed himself. Despite this, his mouth formed a gigantic forced grin.
Fallon dipped the cradle into the newly filled jug before pouring it into the boy’s agape mouth. The moonlight twinkled in his eye and an evil looking glint reflected from it as he glared down at Jack. What a fool, he has the chance to escape, does he not understand what I am doing? The boy drank desperately, liquid poured over his mouth and dripped onto his clothes. Then, Fallon gave him another cradle and Jack lapped it up.
After he was done, the Klevite returned. Jack looked at Fallon desperately as the soldiers carried the cage away. Fallon wondered if the young man knew.
A few minutes passed. At first, Fallon could only hear the familiar mosquitos and crickets in the air. After a while, the sound of drums. And slowly it came. “It hurts!” It was indistinct at first but the howls became louder. And then:
|# ? Oct 13, 2019 22:51|
hellrule: two worlds have ended.
Carlos was the first member of their ragtag family to disappear. He’d gone for the usual Friday night grocery run, out to the big Try N’ Save on main, the one with the backup generator, so they could have ice cream after dinner as a treat. Stumpy knew all too well that when the poo poo hits the fan you look for is an anchor, something to hold you together while your world falls apart, so he had given his blessing and told the kid to be back inside of an hour. The last confirmed scene of Carlos’s existence was the sputtering sound of a car pulling out of the driveway and driving off into the hazy glow of the setting sun.
Stumpy felt a hand touch the lump of flesh where his arm should be and turned away from his fourteenth window-check in as many minutes to find Laura standing behind him, dressed in a mink coat too big for her frame, her scarred face twisted into the ghost of a smile.
“Whaddya think Stumps?” She turned around slowly, pretending she was on the catwalk. “It’s a little big sure, but hell, it beats the poo poo outta the goodwill” she strutted clumsily, leaning on her crutch for support.
“I think” he said as he tried and failed to fight off a grin “that you ought to leave things that don’t belong to you well enough alone.”
She stuck out her tongue at him “Party pooper. I think I look good. Always wanted to be a high-society type. Besides, it’s not like they’re coming back to yell at us anytime soon.”
A familiar knot of anxiety began to build up in his stomach at her words. It’d been ninety-one days since he’d woken up from sleeping on the streets to find a ghost town where the city used to be, ninety one days since he’d stumbled out into the streets crying for them to take him too. He checked his watch.
“Something is wrong. Carlos should be back by now”
“Maybe he ran out of gas?”
Stumpy shook his head slowly “No chance. Checked both the cars yesterday five times. Full tanks.”
The silence hung heavy in the air. The knot in his stomach tightened and he could feel his body losing definition, becoming static. His vision grainy, like an old film reel.
“Something is wrong” he repeated, the anxiety making him slur his words, sounding like the warble of an old cassette tape. “Get the car, we gotta find him.” In the fluorescent light of the kitchen, Laura’s face took on a sharp plastic sheen. Her hand on his arm feeling like a vise.
“Stumps, are you okay?”
He shook his head.
“Get the car, I’ll meet you out front.”
The drive into the city had turned the static in his head to a pounding headache, and he rested his head against the window, soothing himself against the cool glass as they turned onto Main Street. A parade of formerly homeless people walked by, some giving him a casual nod or wave of recognition as they saw him, ghosts from a past life. A half-hearted wave back in response, his hand hovering guilty near the door lock button.
They pulled into the Try N’ Save parking lot. Carlos’s car sat in the center of the lot, untouched
“Maybe he’s still inside?” Laura’s voice in his ears rang with the false tone of hope.
They walked into the store, pulling a shopping cart from the line at the door, clinging to ritual comforts. The store felt empty despite the other people walking around pulling items off shelves and the dull roar of conversation, a pantomime of normalcy. The ice-cream freezer was at the back of the store, a big industrial walk-in model. They pulled open the door and went hunting for Carlos in a maze of garishly colored dairy products.
“I don’t think he’s here. Maybe we should regroup back at the house—” He stopped, turning around slowly.
“Laura?” No answer. Palms slick with sweat, he traced his way back through the maze, fighting to breathe as the knot in his chest turned into a noose. Hurling himself bodily at the freezer door, racing to the exit in a state of pure animal panic, emerging into a pool of off-white light from a buzzing street lamp that sang in harmony with the noise in his head.
He rushed to the car, watching with unbelieving eyes as it disappeared right in front of him. People around him disappearing mid-stride. Streetlights vanishing, walls and foundations, entire buildings erased, revised out of existence.
And then suddenly the scene shifted and he found himself somewhere else, the bustle of the city replaced with clean cut suburban lawns and the smell of meat grilling on the barbecue, the high pitched sound of children’s laughter and a voice very much like his own saying:
“Well, you finally made it.”
Shoes: Wingtip. Brown leather. New. Trousers: creased. Suit: pinstripe, with both arms intact. Stumpy stared at the man who was his mirror image, watching him swim in and out of focus. The clean-cut Stumpy smiled, displaying a mouth that held more teeth than should be possible, polished blindingly white. On his arm a gorgeous woman that with a start he recognized as Laura, her face devoid of scars standing without a crutch, clad in a mink coat and radiating an alien, Hollywood grace. Carlos was nowhere to be seen, and he looked at the mirror image with questioning eyes.
The mirror image shook its head.
“You have to want to be here. Carlos made a different choice. His scene got cut.”
The mirror image reached into his suit pocket and produced an antique-looking revolver. Wordlessly he handed it to Stumpy, who wrapped his fingers around the grip with slow movements.
“Can’t have two copies of the same guy. One or the other, but not both. Make your choice.”
Stumpy nodded slowly as he swung open the cylinder. Two bullets. Just about enough. He pointed the gun at the mirror image, noting how light it felt in his hand. Taking a deep breath he aimed it at Laura and pulled the trigger. No report, no kickback, just Laura crumpling to the ground in a jerky, bloodless movement, a film played at half speed. He swung the revolver around to sight in on the mirror image, pulling the trigger and watching it crumple slowly down to the ground. He tossed the gun gently onto the lawn. All around him, things were disappearing again. Flickering, gone to wherever comes next.
He sat down on the edge of the driveway and waited for the credits to roll as he watched the world end piece-by-piece beneath a fractured sky.
|# ? Oct 13, 2019 23:46|
Flash: 67, your number corresponds to time before the end
A Credible Threat
When it was announced that they would release the fatal virus at the end of the month, I knew I couldn’t let Cassidy get married to Gordon and spend the rest of her time on this planet married to the dude who would make her mom happy. I’d made it a little late – there was standstill traffic all the way up 95 – but, in the end, I’d made it to the saddest seafood restaurant in Rhode Island just in time to crash the wedding party.
It looked like all of the restaurant staff had decided that they didn’t want to spend their last days cooking. There were about a half-dozen minivans in the otherwise-empty parking lot, and the “Harborside” sign looked like it was supposed to be illuminated, but in the near-dusk you could barely make out the outline. When I walked in the door it looked less like a wedding party and more like a funeral party; a gaggle of elderly men and women were tending delicately to Cassidy’s mom, who accepted a brimming wine glass with a chilly nod. A news broadcast was murmuring details about the release of the virus, which I couldn’t bring myself to care much about.
I couldn’t find Cassidy right away, but I caught Gordon’s eye. He was sitting by himself, arms crossed, zoning out and looking at a plastic anchor on the wall. He’d shucked off his tux jacket and was now profusely sweating into his undershirt. Cassidy had once called him “the nicest end-table I’d ever met.” Last time I’d talked to Gordon I’d called him an “overgrown Boy Scout,” an “ant of a person,” and “everyone’s mom’s favorite pet,” so I didn’t much want another conversation with him, but he started walking towards me with this weird, lopsided gait. He wasn’t drunk – this was just the way Gordon walked.
“Angie,” he said, a few yards away from me, “what a pleasure. You shouldn’t have come here.”
“Hi, bud. Any idea where Cassidy is?”
“My wife is outside,” he said, standing up tall, “is getting some air.”
The weather had been unbearably hot and muggy this week – which was apparently ideal for spreading the virus, according to something I saw online – so I doubted that he was telling the truth. I turned my back to him and peered into the kitchen, which had a light on. If I knew Cassidy, it’s exactly where she would go to hide from her mom’s drama, Gordon’s insipid conversation (“I was cleaning the sink, and you’ll never guess what I found in the drain”), and the impending end of all human life. All the better if she could get in front of a gas range with a huge pantry of soon-to-be-expired-but-who-cares goodies.
“I’m gonna go say hi real quick,” I said. “Don’t wait up.”
“Is there no place you’d rather be?” he said. “I think it’s kind of sad that, less than three days until the end of days, you drive all the way up here to stir poo poo at someone else’s wedding.”
“And I think it’s kind of sad that she’s getting married to you because her mom thinks The Gays all end up burning in hell.”
“You’re right,” he said. I cocked my head. “I hate that it’s happened like this, too, and I didn’t want things to happen this way. But come on, Angie. Who’s going to be happier if she runs away with you? Her whole family is going to miss her, she’s going to miss them, and her mom’s still going to believe that she’ll burn in hell, and soon, too. Everyone’s going to be miserable except for you, which is why I’ve asked you why you couldn’t find anyone else to spend these last 67 hours with.”
“Not everyone has a loving family to bunker down with, and not everyone wants to spend three days babysitting the feelings of their rear end in a top hat relatives. Anyway, thanks for the unsolicited advice, but I’m going to go drive my girlfriend somewhere less depressing.”
I pushed open the swinging double doors into the kitchen to find Cassidy just where I’d expected her, prepping vegetables on a cutting board while a pot simmered behind her. She was still wearing her wedding gown, though it was already looking worn and grease spattered. I whistled a couple of notes – Here Comes the Sun, halting and out of tune – and waited for her to complete the melody. Instead, without even turning around, she said “Oh, Angie. You shouldn’t have come here.”
I approached, looking into a pot of boiling potatoes, and put my hands on my hips. “Come on, Cass, let’s try again.” I whistled the notes again, smiling, waiting for her to finish it like she always had.
“It’s… it’s flattering that you’ve come, I mean, I’m glad you…” She cleared her throat. “Look, Angie,” she said, still not meeting my eyes, “I made a choice. I know where you were, I could have come to you. But I wanted to give my family something to be happy about in the end.”
“Ah, yes, the joys of Armageddon and heterosexuality.”
Now she looked at me and took my hands in hers. “I wanted to give them some excuse to have a party and not just wallow alone. My mom would have drunk herself to death before a single person contacted that virus, and you know that as well as I do.”
I didn’t say anything for a bit, because I didn’t think she’d take “who gives a poo poo” very well. Instead I looked into the pot. “What are you cooking?”
“Minestrone,” she said, and poked at a potato with a fork. “All the fish spoiled, if you can believe it. Someone left the fridge door open before they walked out the job. I don’t know if it was a statement or something. But at least when all the fish spoils, you still have root vegetables.”
“Is that a metaphor?” I asked, and as soon as she smiled I kissed her for the first time in three years, her hands tightening around my back. I’d never kissed a married woman in a wedding gown in the kitchen of an abandoned seafood restaurant before, but there was a first time for everything.
“That was nice,” Cassidy said, “and I’m glad you came. But it doesn’t change anything. I’m not going to run off with you.”
“That’s okay,” I told her, “because I’m not going to leave, and Gordon and your mom are just going to have to deal with it.”
I whistled the notes one more time, and this time Cassidy whistled back.
|# ? Oct 14, 2019 02:45|
Hellrule: this is not the first time the world has ended
For the first time in eight years, Lily found flowers trying to poke their pale purple heads out of the slush that passed for snow in mid-July. They had little tear-drop shaped petals, and lime green stems that were valiantly shoving the blossoms up toward the radiant sunlight. Why they had decided this was the time to germinate was totally unknown to her. She liked to think that maybe this was one final hurrah - the plants’ wild desire to go out with a vegetative bang.
More than likely though, it was just a fluke. Some ice had lensed sunlight just right, and the patch of soil where the seeds had lain dormant for years got a little extra heat and light. Nestled in a pocket of dark colored moss, the seeds threw out roots to drink in the frigid melt water. They sent up shoots that terminated in the flowers, and Lily bent down to pluck them from the snow in a move that violated all the specimen collection protocols.
Randall, the botanist, would have chastised her. This was an incredible find, he would have said. Solid proof that life was resilient and willing to bide its time until the conditions were perfect. He would have worn nitrile gloves, and carefully uprooted the plants with a sterilized trowel before rinsing them in distilled water. The flowers would have been dehydrated , catalogued, and annotated. After all, if they weren’t going to do things right, why bother doing them at all?
But Lily wasn’t a botanist, and she no longer really cared about protocols. She was a paleontologist, and furthermore, she was perhaps the last living person on earth. There was no bureaucracy left to appeal to, even if Randall had been alive and willing to lodge a complaint. The glaciers had already scoured the Institute, the UN, and the capitol from the face of the Earth. Fifteen years ago, the airwaves went silent. Five years ago, the glacier’s icy head had poked over the horizon, so they they could be seen from the mountaintop entrance of the project. Only Lily and Soraya were left alive to stand on the summit and watch the kilometers-high wall of ice grind across what was left of the world, caring not a whit whether it was a mountain or a city that it crushed beneath its icy foot.
All of this had happened before, and undoubtedly it would happen again. Seventy seven years ago there had been a great celebration as mankind turned the tide back against global warming. The north pole was finally packed in sea ice that stayed frozen year-round, and the straights of Magellan were frozen solid for the first time in recorded history. But every year, the ice crept just a little further toward the equator.
Now, if she tipped her head all the way back, she could just make out where the clouds crowded around the glacier’s crown. As the sun found breaks to peek through, its radiant beams would light up the ice wall like a cathedral’s stained glass windows. She admired the deep navy blues that faded into unfathomable indigo depths. The flourishes of sea green along fracture lines were a nice contrast, she thought. And with grudging respect, she gazed at boulders the size of city blocks that were being swept before the ice. Whole cross sections of geological strata - history written in stone - were slowly crushed into sand and confused forever.
And what grand confusion deep history was! Fifty years ago, as the snows fell and the world panicked, mines around the world struggled to dig up enough coal in a desperate attempt to restart global warming. Buried between a layer of Silurian sandstone and Pennsylvanian coal, the machines struck a bulkhead of nickel hardened steel. The glow of a cutting torch sundered the metal, and cast light into what could only be described as a tomb.
Lily’s team was the first inside, (aside from a handful of awestruck and terrified coal miners.) They found remains, but not of humans. Morphologically and genetically, they were closer to reptiles or early birds, yet they were laid out in ritual precision on a raised dais in the center of the chamber. Around them were pedestals, covered in a dead language that cried out for an understanding that would never come. Linguistically, it was like nothing humans had ever developed - and furthermore, it offered no insight on how to warm the chilling Earth.
She had brushed her fingers across the bones of a people who, millions of years ago, developed language and art, industry and artifice. Before the first flowering plant had even evolved, someone had burned coal and smelted iron, if only for a few hundred years. Just like Humanity, this species’ rise and fall could be written on a single page in the great library of history. Even though it was illegible, these beings had the kindness to fold a dog-ear into theirs. Lily saw no reason that Humanity shouldn’t do the same. Countless grant applications later, the project began.
And so two summers ago, she found herself alone and bored, packing a month’s worth of rations onto a sledge and attached it to the back of a snowmobile. It took a week to reach the swampy shore of the meltwater lake that spread out in front of the advancing ice. The water was clear and cold, and filled with a multitude of trout. Lily spent an evening fashioning a fishing pole from the snowmobile’s repair kit, and nearly three weeks gathering drift wood while she smoked the fish into jerky. For the first time in twenty three years, Lily was able to enjoy food that hadn’t been approved by committee, nutritionally balanced, freeze dried, and vacuum sealed. She ended up eating through almost all of her stash of dried fish when the snowmobile died on the return trip, forcing her to walk home through fresh snowfall in early September.
That lakeshore was just a few hundred meters down the mountainside from the project, now. She straightened up and shifted a stringer of smoked trout on her back before tucking the little flowers into her coat’s breast pocket. It was a short walk to the tunnel leading down into the Deep Time Capsule, and she took a moment to stop and breathe fresh air for a few final moments.
Each explosive charge was double and triple checked as she made her way down the narrow mineshaft to the capsule, tucked between strata of anthracite coal and Devonian shale. She laid the flowers, one each, atop Randall and Soraya’s caskets. The fish went into the pantry, filling the nooks and crannies that had one held years of pre-packaged rations. She thought for a moment before retrieving the last of her longevity treatment from the infirmary’s cabinet. She tossed it into the tunnel outside before stepping back to seal the capsule’s armored door.
If the ones that had come before had left their page folded, she hoped that when whoever passed for people in the future came looking for coal, they would find humanity’s page — highlighted and annotated.
Lily pressed the detonator.
|# ? Oct 14, 2019 02:50|
Forgot to add: the number was 77
|# ? Oct 14, 2019 02:51|
Prompt: 76 (minutes)
“a domestic animal now rules the world”
The Same but Different
Word Count: 1010
Vice President William Bryans awoke one morning from uneasy dreams to find that he had been transformed into a large verminous creature. He lay on his back for a few moments and stared at the peeling plaster of his bedroom. The ceiling appeared to be the same. Light streamed through a swaying curtain as it did every day. He could hear the distant sounds of movement, of a thousand scuttling assistants moving about the Naval Observatory.
The only thing that was different was him. Bryans flicked his many eyes downward, saw a tangled array of brown legs, and looked up again at the pleasingly bland ceiling. His body shuddered.
Very soon he’d have to scurry through the door. His assistants would remind him about his very busy schedule. There were donors to meet. Events to attend. Ribbons to cut. And with the election coming up, the president would be more agitated than ever. There would be nothing but rallies and press appearances and endless indecencies arranged by his personal assistant Darla. What little he remembered of his fragmentary dreams was filled with echoing voices and her braying laughter.
Bryans tucked his head back beneath his sheet and closed his many eyes, hoping it would all go away. Instead, he heard a faint tapping sound and the creek of the door. He peeked his head from the covers and saw a woman in a beige pantsuit, her body iterated many times in his complex eyes.
Hundreds of tiny hairs stood up on his back. Darla.
“Oh good, I don’t need to tell you then.”
Oh no, Bryans attempted to cry. Instead, he let loose a high-pitched hiss that revealed the oozing insides of his mouth. The woman stepped into the room, stretching her arms back and forth as if getting ready for a fight.
“I don’t suppose you can talk, can you?” She said with a concerned smile.
Bryans let out another inarticulate sound of grief and rolled inelegantly out of the bed.
“Well, I won’t lie. That’s going to make the statement we prepared a little harder. We’ve already told the press you are speaking with our international partners… You’re watching crisis and have expressed grave concern, for the record.” She thumbed through her phone. “I suppose we should count our blessing, though. You should see what’s going on in Saudi Arabia right now. The entire royal family’s been… well, you know.”
She pressed her hands together and then spread them apart, contorting her fingers as she did. Bryans wasn’t sure what the gesture meant, but he didn’t care. He could see the door open behind Darla. Escape from the madness.
He attempted to sprint, but he couldn’t seem to control his appendages. They bucked wildly, causing him to move in odd semi-circular patterns across the carpet.
Darla let out a tutting sound and scooped him into her arms. He thrashed against her, dirtying her outfit with his ooze but her grip around him tightened. They were walking out of the bedroom and down the Naval Observatory’s long central staircase. Dark-suited Secret Service agents appeared from dark hallways and walked alongside them.
“I suppose you’re right, press releases are probably not super-important right now. Voters care more about words than action…” They were approaching a long black car. Inside was void. “The president’s called an emergency cabinet meeting to figure out how to respond to this national security crisis.”
Bryans gave out one last whimper as he and Darla vanished inside and then they were off. The car rocketed down Massachusetts Avenue past embassies either blazing or overflowing with crying, preternatural creatures. They zoomed by the Brookings Institution, where interns and office managers alike wandered in a daze. On the side of a Shake Shack, someone had spray painted a large cartoon rat in a suit.
The disaster could not have taken place more than two hours ago and already the city was imploding.
But now Darla had him in her arms again and they were ushered through hallways lit only by muted televisions and staffer cell phone screens. They descended deep below the depths of the White House into the Situation Room. The room was warm and smell of sweat. A pair of staffers debated the appropriate way to pronounce the word “debacle.”
“Gentlemen,” said Darla with an air of authority. “I’ve spoken to the Vice President and he wants a situation report.”
Bryans stopped panicking long enough to rotate his insect-like eyes across the room. The conference room’s chairs were stuffed with other misshapen creatures, blubbering, grotesque things. In the president’s chair was a small thing that looked like the hairless offspring of a dog and a rat. It shook violently.
A nondescript man in a blazer cleared his throat. “Well, Beijing’s gone dark. Last we heard, there were worms all over the presidential palace. The British Prime Minister sprouted wings on live teevee and flew away. Oh, and we’re getting hammered on cable right now. It’s brutal.”
He turned to the oversized rat-dog creature.
“I’ve, of course, informed the president and he’s conveyed to me his sense of grave concern.”
“Oh, I believe it. I believe it.” Said Darla, shaking her head. “This story’s been out for, what, an hour and fifteen minutes and we still don’t have any kind of public response?”
Another man in a blazer looked up from his phone and wrapped his arm around a mass of many tentacles. “The secretary of defense has told me that we need to take decisive military action to counteract this destructive narrative. Maybe against Iran.”
Oh God. Bryans let loose a cry. The whole thing’s running on autopilot.
“Thank you both,” said Darla. “As you just heard, the Vice President agrees firmly. We’re locked and loaded as soon as the president gives the order.”
The room turned toward the rat-like creature, which shook then vomited over the conference room desk.
Darla smiled. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
Bryans closed his eyes. There would be no escape for any of them.
|# ? Oct 14, 2019 03:24|
Evelyn-452, of Cycle 46
Flash rules: 46; the world is about to end again
"Once upon a time," said the dead child on the video screen, "there was a rainbow, and a dinosaur came down the rainbow." The child had rust-orange hair, all curls; the mother who held it had long, wavy hair of the same color. Rust hair, wrote Evelyn-452 in her secret notebook.
"The dinosaur ate a tree and a house and a person," said the child. "Then the papa dinosaur came down from the rainbow and yelled at it because it was bad to eat a person, but the dinosaur was so hungry that --"
Evelyn-452 paused the video and looked back at the archival page and its scant biography: Helena Acosta (31), Graphic Designer, with Bailey Acosta (4). Not a high-priority occupation, she thought, and clicked onward in the queue. Helena and Bailey Acosta went in the notebook, and the notebook went into the back drawer of her desk. The quotas were tightened. She didn't have time to linger.
The news had come down from the experts, to the managers, to Evelyn and the other drudges: three months until the next Cycle Terminus, at the most. Another seismic shift, another toxin release -- they didn't bother with the details, lost on the drudges as they would be, but they made the predictions clear. Most post-Cycle-40 facilities would be lost, with mass fatality for both functional personnel and inheritors, and untold clonal lines rendered non-viable in the coming microbiome. "Another great setback for Interim Humanity is coming," the managerial statement had read, "and we depend on your your work to continue the great rebuilding. Mine their archives. Find their data."
Evelyn-452 was unsure whether there was any useful data to be found. In her seven years of service, all the ancient dead had ever offered her were their faces and voices. Every one of them was sorry. Every one of them had someone they loved, some friend or child or animal to say goodbye to. A few told rambling stories, and those she elevated to the supervisors and analysts; they rest she had to abandon to the ancient databases, marked as screened and irrelevant. It was hard to believe any of it would ever matter to the experts at the top.
The next video in her queue was a Dr. Ryoji Oda (57), Director of Research, High-Energy Physics Foundation -- an almost certain elevation, but she still had to check. On the screen, a pale-skinned black-haired man in a deep green shirt pushed his glasses up his nose. "Hello. If you're watching this, then some part of humanity has survived, thank God. I'd like to begin by saying that I am so sorry --"
Evelyn paused the video and clicked the buttons she'd expected to click: Download to Local DB, then Elevate to Supervisor. Someone would spend more time with Dr. Ryoji Oda today, but there was no need for it to be her. The color of his shirt was rich enough to burn her eyes.
The next five videos in queue were nothing special -- Hunter Lawrence (23), Graduate Student, crying huge wasteful tears; Ruth (35), Marjorie (32), and Billy (28) Pfluger, all in car sales, all telling the same story about their shared mother; K. L. Jonesy (46), Insurance Sales, neatly-groomed and silent until the gunshot. Evelyn-452 leaned back, brittle joints creaking along with her office chair. She needed a meal, but the thought of walking to the dispensary made everything ache. She was old enough now to apply for an in-office drip. It might be a waste of time, with months before the end of the cycle, but she'd never really done anything but waste time, had she? No reason not to apply after this shift, but for now, she had to keep her quota up. She leaned in, resting her bruised arms on the desk, and clicked the next video.
There was no name, no age, no profession. No video recorded in this block, the summary screen read. Record? A green light in the console above her monitor flicked on, and a shutter opened to reveal a camera lens. Nobody'd told Evelyn-452 that her console had a camera.
Nobody'd trained her for this. There were no protocols.
It'd be misuse of resources, Evelyn-452 thought, to record a data block for herself. She'd seen drudges terminated for lesser ones; one of the first training videos they'd shown them, on their first day out of the vats, was of a meal thief executed by bolt-gun and sent for protein reclamation. Would they bother, though, this close to the end, or would they let her spend her last months at work? There'd be no drip. There'd be privileges revoked. Evelyn-452 tried to care, and she couldn't, and she clicked Record.
The video in progress took up her full screen: Evelyn's thin colorless face against the gunmetal grey of her office wall. There were no colors here, no rust or green or blood-red, and no trace of a life outside of this office. Evelyn-452 closed her eyes, for courage, and she spoke.
"My name is Evelyn-452. I'm a data miner and a drudge-clone. I'll be dead very soon. I don't have any stories, but I try to remember other people's. Today I watched a child named Bailey Acosta tell a story about a dinosaur and a rainbow, and that will only ever matter to me. My favorite flavor is orange-vanilla and I like to listen to violin music before I sleep. I dream when I sleep. I'm a human being and I was alive, for a little while, in Cycle 46 of Interim Humanity."
Evelyn-452 clicked Stop Recording, then Upload to Archive. She slumped on the desk, waiting for a failure message or for Productivity Enforcement to arrive with the bolt-gun, but soon a window popped up, white letters on too-rich green. Thank You! Your video has been archived. Edit biographical info now? A few keystrokes, and there she was for eternity: Evelyn-452 EVHX081Clonal (7), Data Miner. There was only thing left to do.
She clicked Download to Local DB, then Elevate to Supervisor.
She would die, in months or in minutes, but she would be seen.
|# ? Oct 14, 2019 04:32|
The last rabbit died last week. It was all over the news, pictures and vids of it running around from better days and this woman, probably in her forties or something, holding back tears and talking about how she sang to it and stroked its fur while it was shaking and barely managing to cough, how she looked it in the eyes when it was time to go. I was kind of impressed. They don't often get onto the news. Real people. Ones who aren't phonies. I said so, to Jules. She stared, and sighed, and put her head on my shoulder.
Jules checked out this morning. Didn't say anything. Just walked down the street, found a booth and used it. We'd talked about it before. Doing it together. Back before we were old enough, like that mattered. Old fashioned ways, like before they had booths. But we always chickened out. I always chickened out. So she wound up going out alone.
Jules used to play with dolls. Not many of our generation did. None of her friends. Not much point to it, everyone said. She just laughed, told us we weren't going to fly rockets or fight fire-breathing dragons either, and nobody had a good answer for that.
I went to Jules' apartment this morning. I don't know why. Used my key, let myself in, and just walked around, touching things. She had her drawings, a few pinned up to a corkboard. There was a picture of a rabbit up there. Pencil sketch. It wasn't any kind of masterpiece of great art or anything. The shape was okay, but there was something wrong about the eyes, something disturbing, unsettling. I took the picture off the board, and when I heard her parents fumbling at the door I stuck it in my pocket without thinking about it much.
Jules parents were okay, as far as Other People's Parents went. Waited until I was out the door before they started to blame me. Weren't patient enough to wait until I was all the way out the building. Which I was in such a hurry to do that I left my hat on the rack back there.
You can tell when a vid is from the old days when you see people outside downtown without a hat, when the cities didn't have clouds of pigeons and crows blotting the sun and raining white birdshit and making their gloating little caws and coos.
I don't blame Jules. It's not an irrational decision. We both saw all the vids and read the books that thought it through, the ones that don't end with some bullshit miracle birth nonsense. Someday there's not going to be enough people to keep the power going, keep the roads clear, keep the oil flowing. Good medicine, too. And we'll be getting old, too. Just a bunch of geezers huddling together, living like peasants in the dark, but with plenty of guns and bullets to settle old grudges with. Assuming nobody decides to kick off a real war before the jet fuel and diesel runs out. Almost surprising anyone's sticking around to see that go down.
Not many are checking out, though. People used to say we'd be flooding the booths the year we turned legal, another wave like the one around year ten. Not so much, though. I figure it was because the OPPs and NPs knew what it was like for there to be a future. While we all figured out that hope was a lie around the same time we sussed the truth about Santa Claus.
I got home and stripped down, took a long shower to get the birdshit out of my hair. Noticed the sheet of paper in my pocket when I put my pants back on. I took it out and looked at it for a long time, looking into those wrong eyes.
Jules thought I'd try to talk her out of it. Was afraid I'd succeed. And because of that she had to check out alone.
I went out again, this time with a hat. Went downtown. Passed by three booths without looking. Then got to that one, the one she used. There wasn't a line.
I muttered "I'm sorry," in the direction of the booth and kept walking, until I reached the local vault. I paid too much money and the guy there took Jules' sketch, eyes and all, and traced the pencil into an etching on stainless steel, to stick underground against the day some alien or evolved bird or fish or bug starts getting curious. It's dumb and more than I could afford, and I don't even know if Jules would have wanted it, but I did it anyway.
And I'm going to keep going, to the awful end if I make it. As long as there's someone left who needs to be held as they shiver uncontrollably and struggle to cough out a breath, as long as someone needs to look a friend in the eye and not go out alone.
|# ? Oct 14, 2019 05:33|
The Ballad of Yung 'Clypse
Skeletal hands dunked in essence, Yung 'Clypse pulled forth black diamonds from the well of ice.
Souls wailed deep inside the gems as he held it to his lips and siphoned out the life from within. The ultimate price to stay manifest, the entire realm subjugated for his sorcerous tests.
Yung 'Clypse spoke the words, ancient and foretold, his flow was the illest, his spit made of gold.
Posted up, swathed in a column of smoke; emerald dreaming, looking morose.
The earth did tremble, not a soul was left unwoke. The great chasm opened as the flames were stoked. Bodies did spasm as the reaper made itself at home, ghosts and spirits flocked from places unknown.
The world plunged into darkness, a new era upon us. Iced out, smoke drenched, leaning forever, hell sent. Yung 'Clypse sounded out, world alliances filled with doubt.
A concert stage for the ritual platform, the audience made to be sacrificed. Cult rituals expanding minds beyond conscious thought, timeless creatures stirring from slumber what the souls bought.
Two million years later, insane and in a lifeless void, that isolated menace will creep from his celestial crypt and will once again spit creating new worlds from tortured souls eternally kept.
That dank sepulcher, that phantasmal seat; a throne for a dead god, a maniacal record on repeat.
|# ? Oct 14, 2019 06:40|
|# ? Oct 14, 2019 10:10|
Interprompt: why I'm banned from the Voidmart
|# ? Oct 14, 2019 11:03|
Djeser fucked around with this message at 20:53 on Jan 1, 2020
|# ? Oct 14, 2019 11:27|
Warranty void if opened
249 / 250 words
"Have you got a receipt?"
The clerk behind the returns desk looked as bored as it's possible for a fiery winged ring to look, feathers drooping everywhere.
"No," I said, "but -"
"No returns without a receipt." The wheel somehow shrugged.
I pointed at the void lying on the desk. "But it's defective."
"Oh yeah?" All one hundred and eleven of the wheel's eyes rolled. "What, is it missing a part or something?"
"It's full of gas."
"And dirt. Look, it's all over the place!"
"Right ..." the wheel said, really dragging out the vowel. "Let me take a look."
It gazed into the void and furrowed one hundred and eleven brows. An unseen hand tapped across a keyboard.
"Says here that there's basically nothing there in the grand scheme of things. We're talking 99.9% void to a whole lot of decimal places."
"There shouldn't be anything there," I say through gritted teeth, "It's a void."
"Yeah, well it also says here that it's all pretty carefully laid out. You ever see factory dirt with orbits?"
"What, you think I did this deliberately? This hack job? Light can't even curve!"
"Sorry bud, but I can't take it back just because you screwed it up. Wipe it clean and start over - maybe try two dimensions until you get the hang of it."
So I cursed the condescending sod unto the seventh generation. Security dragged me out, it was a whole scene.
No idea what happened to the void.
|# ? Oct 14, 2019 16:27|
|# ? Oct 2, 2022 22:08|
It's been a while, so I'd like to go with my avatar's mood and throw my hat back in the ring. Gimme a number!
|# ? Oct 14, 2019 17:27|