Slipup vs Doc Zero
I had trouble leaving that morning. I had hit the snooze at least three times, spending another five minutes each with the love of my life. Finally, sadly, I pulled myself out of bed. I had volunteered for overtime and if I had waited another minute I would be late. I got ready and opened the door. I looked back at her. Her beauty seemed to pull me back into bed. My heart begged me to stay, for my brain to produce some contrivance to keep me here; with her. My brain resisted. We had a plan, and we were almost there. Soon her and I would be in the Okanagan Valley, resting on the beaches beside some of the world’s best vineyards and cideries. The memory of her among the orchards spurred me to leave.
It was raining on the Canadian Badlands. It was a cold rain. The sun had yet to rise, leaving the bright yellow fields of canola flowers mute. I drove in silence. Normally I would listen to a podcast or some easygoing music, but not today. I approached the hill, signaling that I was no more then ten minutes away. A set of lights peaked over the crest as I ascended, heading the other way. I was hoping I'd make it time. Then this new set of lights drifted in front of me. Was it some optical illusion? No wait, what the gently caress is this guy…
I remember the pain, the sound of glass shattering. The car spun wildly. I tried to hit the brakes. I don’t know if I did. I tumbled down the hill and came to a rest on my drivers side, my right arm still holding the steering wheel.
I remember the rain falling on my face. My groin felt hot. My mind raced to grasp the situation. The ground beside me was covered in shattered glass. Pain wracked my entire body.
I heard a voice outside. Quiet at first but growing louder.
“Hoo boy can you believe that!? What a wild morning!” said the voice. It was the other driver. He was… laughing.
“You dumb motherfucker!” I screamed, “You’re loving done! I'm going to loving ruin you! What the gently caress where you thinking?”
No more words, I heard footsteps on asphalt, the sound of metal wire as if someone was jumping a fence.
“Coward!” I yelled accusingly at no one.
“Come back!” Nothing.
“Help me… Please…” I uttered piteously. He had ran trying to save his own skin. I cursed myself for yelling at him. I felt scared, the wet heat from my groin spread across the left side of my body.
He had left me to die.
I cried by myself for what seemed like eternity. It was a country road. No one was going to save me.
“Ok then,” I whispered, “I can do this. I just have to grab my phone and call 911.”
I tried to reach into my back pocket with my left hand while my right one held me off the ground using the steering wheel. Excruciating pain seared through my side like lightning. I can see my arm in the pale moonlight, broken at the forearm and bent savagely.
I would have to use my right arm. I looked at the glass on the ground and cried, like a newborn fresh from the womb.
“I don’t want to!” I screamed. No one listened. I fought down the tears and remembered my love, back at home, sound asleep in our bed. How I wished I was there. I knew I could be again. Just one thing I had to do.
“Ok. Just do it real slow. It’s gonna hurt bad,” I coached myself, “real bad. Just try to put your hair into the glass. Your neck is fine, the seatbelt has you. It won't be so bad.”
I began to lower myself into the glass. The best I could do was the side of my head. The glass crunched and dug into my face. Loud obscenities filled the night. Blood spilled onto the ground.
My right arm now free, I reached into my pocket and grabbed my phone. With the one eye above the glass I unlocked my phone and dialed 911. I am not going to die here in this wreck. The operator told me to keep talking, help was on the way. I put the phone on speaker, dropped it to the ground, and pulled myself from the glass. I didn’t know what to say to the lady on the phone, but I remembered a song, from my girl and I's favourite movie. It was dumb, but it was all I had.
“Oooh child, things are gonna get easier... Oooh child, things'll get brighter…” I sang to the 911 operator.
I could see the sunrise through the broken windshield as the sirens approached. I was going to make it. I was going to see her again.
|# ? Oct 18, 2019 03:49|
|# ? Oct 22, 2021 06:34|
Doctor Zero wins. Crits will happen in not too long
|# ? Oct 18, 2019 22:03|
oh yeah I should probably post in sometime today
|# ? Oct 18, 2019 22:16|
oh yeah I should probably post entries closed sometime today
|# ? Oct 19, 2019 15:44|
Flash rules above. Word count is around 1200 words. Per crits, I tried to change up some of the structures of my sentences.
In the Hall of the Mountain King
The first problem with the ability to walk through walls is, it immediately becomes in the minds of others the most interesting thing about you, right up until they’re disappointed by the details.
Nevermind that I:
-can recite three-hundred digits of pi
-my appendix has a screaming problem
-my eyes are different colors
-I have a comprehensive knowledge of early Nintendo titles (I’m slightly a nerd)
-my cat is named Catsper the Unfriendly Fart Ghost (he let’s me dress him up in cat clothes, it’s great)
-I once rescued a big-time Twitter persona from a locked-door auto-erotic asphyxiation scenario...okay that is slightly related to my walking-through-walls but the more important thing was that this internet superstar felt comfortable sending me an emergency voice-to-text about their dick crisis.
Basically, being able to walk through walls is the least interesting thing about me.
The second problem with the ability to walk through walls is: lots of walls are load-bearing.
I had to get a Masters in architecture just to safely use my power. You have no idea how often i get called up on a hero gig to crack into some supervillain’s lair, only to find out the clients were expecting a non-corporeal wall-breacher, which is what they call it when you can waft through the walls like a ghost.
Me? I can pass through any wall, regardless of the substance of which its made, as long as it is conceptually a wall in the minds of the people who built/use it. Easy-peasy.
The problem is, I leave a me-shaped hole in the wall like something out of a goddamn ACME cartoon. But that means i take out any studs (heh), wires, and any key support structures that might inhabit the path of of my traversion through the wall.
So anyway whatever, I’m trying to bust into the lair of some minor league of supervillains called like the Dire Dogs or some other try-hard bullshit. I can’t even remember what their gimmick is except it seems to be walls and walls and more walls, carved straight into some mountain, no freakin’ less.
What I do know is, they’ve got my motherfucking best friend in there, the only one in the world who is fascinated by parts of my life that don’t involve me Mr. Koolaid-ing into Captain Evil’s panic room, or whatever.
According to the base schematics I stole, the Dire Dogs are apparently huge fans of walls lined with explosives (maybe that’s their gimmick). I don’t flatter myself thinking these measures are because of me...I don’t think they know I exist. The fact that they took my pal hostage was a total coincidence.
One of them must have a connection to the slimy underworld of arms-dealership, hense the copious explosives in the walls.
I’m perched on a lip of rock on the mountain-base’s exterior. From here the stone looks natural and not super remarkable. I know from the schematics that there is a hidden emergency escape passage whose walls aren’t lined with explosives, because duh. All I have to is find the concealed door and walk right in*.
*fun fact, for the purposes of my power, doors are walls unless they’re actively letting a person into a room.
I touch the rockface with my hands. I feel for the place where natural stone starts to feel like a wall, put there by man on purpose.
The muffled screaming makes me jump in spite of myself, and it takes an embarrassing second of confusion before I realize it’s just my appendix acting up again.
poo poo. I forgot to take the meds that calm it down. I went to have it removed but Dr.s said that its ability to scream in response to surgical tools qualified it as sentient life so legally they couldn’t kill it. I am allowed to sedate my appendix, which I forgot to do this morning in my rush to come rescue my best friend.
I concentrate on the door. There...I can feel the space on the other side, tantalizing, calling me to penetrate deep in the base’s defenses.
I take a few steps back, align myself with the spot I was touching a second ago, and march purposefully through the door.
There’s a crunchy crashing sound all around me and them i’m through, into a long, boring passage with some tiles and a few armored doors. I walk for a while, knowing that any doors or alternate passages will be a diversion, and probably a fatal one.
Eventually, I hear a voice up ahead, maybe some maintenance worker doing routine work.
This causes me to duck into an alcove to my left, huddling up against one of the armored doors and pressing myself hard against it’s wall-like surface.
“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE”, my appendix screams from deep inside my belly.
“What was that?” says the now-unseen maintenance worker from up the hall.
“gently caress it,” I think, and bash myself through the door, leaving an imprint shaped like me, with my hand raised and one middle finger up because if I’m going to die I may as well be a badass about it.
I find myself in a dark room and wait for my eyes to adjust.
Suddenly, the air around me changes and I find myself scooped up into something soft and sack-like. I struggle against it, trying in vain to use my wall-breaching powers to free myself, but the thing i’m in is clearly some sort of sack or other non-wall-like container.
The lights go up and I realize I’m now suspended in a net in a room that looks like the HQ of some advanced operation. In the center of the room is a raised platform with a chrome-plated chair on top. The chair’s back is to me, but slowly it spins around, revealing its occupant to be…
“Catsper!” I gasp as I witness my cat sitting in the villainous chair. “But...I came here to save you!”
The cat is currently wearing my favorite dressup outfit, which is a little set of farm overalls with fake legs in front, so it looks like the cat’s head is on a little human body.
Catsper rips off the costume with one paw and stands up on his hind legs in the chair.
“Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah,” screams my appendix.
“For years you have complained that you are undervalued for your personality, and that people only care about you because you can walk through walls,” Catsper says. “Well it is time for the shoe to go on the other foot. Your foot, that is. And it’s a really stupid shoe.”
“You see,” Catsper continues. “I’ve been biding my time, posing in your ridiculous outfits so you can get those “hella instagram followers” you covet so much. Well consider this a pivot in your personal marketing strategy,” the cat kicks his lips.
A moment later, a wall-panel slides open, revealing a closet full of costumes...giraffes, sun flowers, giant baby clothes, and all assortments of various ridiculous apparel. At the same time, a massive camera lowers down from the ceiling, and I can see from the built-in screen that it’s connected directly to an Instagram feed, currently empty, waiting for pictures of the stupid hero-turned-joke.
The next time my appendix screams, it sounds like “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”
|# ? Oct 20, 2019 04:06|
A Poisoned Gift
I have fought my country’s enemies on many fronts. I crushed their spirit in the desert trenches, their bullets brushing past my head like the hot sirocco. I undermined their network in the eastern ocean, cracking their submarine base like a lobster on my plate, and escaped with barely a sweat wetting me. I conquered with force and speed and reflexes, superhuman in extent, but most of all I won because of who I was: a symbol of our indomitable will, true proof that this country was favored by a higher power, who deigned bestow this might upon me.
Though while I succeeded in winning hearts and minds, no battle on the fields of violence was ever easy. I may have the reflexes of Hermes, the cunning of Athena, the might of Ares; but my body still is that of Achilles, and one well-aimed shot might bring me down. And waste the gift I, when I was a humble astronaut, received from what might as well be heaven.
Thus, my greatest challenge: the one heart I fight hardest to win, and only broke so far. My son, my heir, my contingency plan. Only someone raised by me could understand the burden I carry. I chose his mother with the utmost care, and brought our offspring up according to the highest standards. My knowledge, my ideals, my convictions and my love for our country: they were to shape him to be the best he could be, my true son and successor.
A gift invaluable. But rubbish compared to what would come as soon as he was ready: all of my powers, which I knew I could pass on like the light in space had passed them on to me.
But was he ready? No! What started as mere teenage rebellion, a futile dream infecting his unformed brain, had metastasized into something that might prove fatal. He could have waited for the fame and fortune that would come naturally to him. Instead, this. A rock star. On a stage his too public position as my son set for him. Playing with a guitar like a toy, screeching those ridiculous lyrics. Undignified, unearned, unbecoming.
And I, disguised like a common thief, in the middle of his audience. Another attempt to reconcile with the prodigal son. I’ll attend this charade for once, show how magnanimous I can be and play at accepting his “career”. Then when he’s open to talk, remind him of the responsibility my power carries and make him drop this swaggering and moaning and what passes for dancing nowadays. So he can become the hero I have destined him to be.
When the bombs go off, I think of pyrotechnics for a second. And so does the writhing mob of my son’s “fans”, until the scaffolding with the speakers still blasting his trash starts leaning, takes the spotlight off of him and leaves me standing like a deer in one. For me, time flows like honey as panic sinks its fangs into the crowd; my decades of experience kick in, I whip off my disguise and let my costume’s heroic colors proudly shine.
“All to the emergency exits! You’re safe if you keep calm!”
My commanding voice, trained in years of motivational speaking, catches enough attention to make them behold me; my costume does the rest. As the scaffolding collapses, the crowd flees just short of routing; but will they make it?
Of course not, but that is why I’m a hero. In milliseconds, my brain that works at speeds that give computers pause has calculated where to stand and what to grab. And so, as the scaffolding topples, metal screaming louder than the mob, I speed to where I need to be and brace my perfect muscles just right to not be crushed.
It takes everything I have to keep standing as I catch the heavy spotlight, many steelen tons bearing down on my sadly human frame. I distribute the forces with nano-movements best I can, but I still feel some triceps fibers snap. This painful ordeal will be tough to heal from, but I should manage, and no one here will die. But who set the explosions? Is my son even safe?
There, through the dust, I see a movement clear as day, towards me calm and straight. A costumed man emerges, in colors of a desert nation I had almost forgotten for how thoroughly I eradicated them. He draws a gun, comically slow for my supercharged senses, but on me rest these people’s lives, and I can’t step out from the spotlight. For what feels like years, I see him aim and crook his index finger and pull the trigger, and the bullet saunters lazily towards me, and I have so long to ponder how ridiculous a supervillain with a gun is, no powers rivaling mine, and yet he has just shot me in the gut, and I fall and everything crashes down.
He comes to gloat about his inglorious victory, knows as well as I do that this is not a wound even my body can recover from, when I spot a stirring on the ruined stage.
My son yet lives.
This is it. He needs to step up now or never. These are my final moments, and he, my heir, my one possible successor is here. I breathe out, and with the air, my power pours from me and enters him.
The supervillain realizes what has happened and spins around. He’s fast, well-trained, I give him that; but not enough for someone exceeding every human limit. Through bullets desperately fired, my son dances as if still performing, reaches the desert rat in an eyeball’s blink and strikes him unconscious with his guitar, a warrior’s axe.
“My son,” I breathe through tears of pain and pride, “I knew you were ready for it!”
He looks at me with the sadness of imminent loss. “So now I’m good enough? With my concert and career ruined?”
I start to protest, but his accusing finger snaps towards me with a whipcrack. “You got the stage you wanted. Performing in the theatre of war and propaganda. I don’t care if that made you happy, but I know it won’t make me.”
“It’s not about…”
“Responsibility. That’s all that matters, I know. Well, I’ll have to disappoint you yet again, dear father.”
His words drop acid in my wound. I groan in speechless agony.
“You’ll have to choose again what’s best. Let this power die with you…” He gestures to the supervillain. “Or give it to someone you taught as well as me what your legacy means.”
He spits on me, and with his saliva my wondrous power, the rejected gift, comes back to me. He turns and leaves and I lie there, still dying, my heightened senses making it an exquisite experience, framed by the flag I burned so often and my son fading into dust.
|# ? Oct 20, 2019 22:03|
No Need For Heroes
Captain Spectacular had waited a long time for tonight. Ever since he saved Emily from muggers, a little over two months ago, he had not stopped thinking about her. The superhero was in love with her and resolute in his conviction that she loved him too. Emily was a naive girl, and peering into her wide-open eyes reminded him of simpler times. Life had been good before the D’jaal had come.
His thoughts temporarily shifted away from the beautiful young woman sitting next to him as he recalled the end of the war. Captain Spectacular felt goosebumps on his arms as he reminded himself of how the world’s superheroes had come together. They had united as the “Watchdog" in their fight against the D’jaal's Underworld forces. Today, each member of the Watchdog team held a revered position in society, a status no President or King would ever reach. Sculptors erected giant statues of them, and governments printed their faces on money.
Five years ago, the one-eyed D’jaal emerged from beneath the earth on a mission to inflict as much pain on humanity as physically possible. As he held Emily tightly in his arms, Spectacular thought back to that time and the despicable scenes he had seen down in the Underworld, where the final battle had taken place. He reminded himself that the Watchdog had won. They had done their job. Everything down in that dark demonic hole was now dead.
However, the members of the Watchdog team had not made it out unscathed. Unlike the innocence in Emily’s youthful face, each member had suffered after the D’jaal’s death. Like the soldiers in Iraq and Vietnam, they entered a world of mental destruction, full of PTSD and nightmares. It was common knowledge that The Miracle - the team’s leader - hadn’t slept since their final battle against The D’jaal. Others lost their superpowers; for example, Lightfiller was no longer able to teleport. There wasn’t a single superhero who lived unaffected by the traumatic events that had unfolded all those years ago.
Kissing Emily made Captain Spectacular feel things that he had not felt in a very long time, and his egregious memories disappeared. She kissed him back and then got on top. After they finished, she tussled his hair, and they both laughed and joked as if everything was okay. He touched her face, specifically her small freckles, which seemed to become more prominent after they made love. He knew he had no business laying with a beautiful young girl like this, but reminded himself that it was okay because he loved her and she loved him too.
“Tell me about The Battle of London again,” Emily said. She settled herself on Spectacular's muscular chest so that her head went up and down as he inhaled and exhaled.
Captain Spectacular proceeded to tell her about the Battle of London, where the Watchdog had fought the Alien forces of Nazkar, allies of The D’jaal. He explained in great detail how the House of Lords became a safe house for the Prime Minister and how he had personally escorted the Queen overseas to an American Naval Base.
Emily laughed with delight, and then she gave herself to him again.
After they finished, once Emily had fallen asleep, Captain Spectacular got up to leave her small apartment. He decided that he would not fly home today and instead changed into civilian clothing. It rained as he walked back to his house, but he didn’t speed up, instead opting to slow down to enjoy the feeling of raindrops hitting his face.
By the time Captain Spectacular entered his home, he was ready for a cup of tea, maybe a hot bath, or a hearty meal.
However, his wife stood at the bottom of the stairs. She was dripping wet from rainwater while shakily gripping a kitchen knife. Spectacular’s mouth hit the floor; this was the last thing he had expected to see.
The crazed expression on his wife’s face was more intimidating than any adversary Spectacular had ever faced. His heart started beating at a faster rate than it had during the Battle of London, and a sudden rush of disappointment jolted through his body.
He was a disgrace. He had made a promise, and he had gone against it. He had ruined their home, and he had destroyed a good woman. He had given her hope, assurance that he was a decent man. However, he was nothing of the sort. It was all a lie. That superhero bravado that he held onto, the same thing that had made Emily want him, it was all lies. He was nothing more than a broken man trying to make himself feel better by reliving his youth.
Sophia rushed forward towards him with the knife held above her head. “YOU loving BASTARD!”
Spectacular didn’t resist. For some reason, not only had his powers instantly disappeared, but his entire body was immobilized. Throughout his life, Captain Spectacular had protected himself from numerous assaults, but there was no point in stopping this one. Sophia thrust the knife into his chest. He deserved this. Maybe it was his ego that deserved it, or maybe Sophia did. He wasn't sure.
As the knife dug into his flesh, the dying superhero looked deep into his killer's manic eyes. Spectacular could see a different person in those eyes to the one he had married 25 years ago; his own personalized Frankenstein monster.
Sophia's hair was rumpled up, and tears fell from her bloodshot eyes. She pulled the knife out from his chest and stabbed him again. “YOU BASTARD!” She screamed with more conviction than before.
Captain Spectacular realized this his death was not going to make her feel better. Not that it mattered, he was merely doing his job. He was giving Sophia something he promised at every press conference — something he had fought for his entire life.
"I gave you justice, Sophia.” The words sputtered out of his mouth as he coughed up blood, he believed them. He would die happy, safe in the knowledge that nothing had been left unresolved. He was a hero.
|# ? Oct 20, 2019 23:36|
The Horrible Truth of The Eternal
I pulled into the visitor lot of The League of Heroes. I was writing a story about The Eternal, the deaths on the freeway, the shocking condemnation from The League, and his unprecedented incarceration. Superheroes never took the fall like this. Why now?
In their penthouse office, I sat down across from the leader of The League of Heroes, The Spire. "Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview," I said. The Spire grimaced and responded in a deep but slightly sheepish baritone. "This thing has been a loving PR nightmare. It's embarrassing." I urged him on. He relaxed and settled into his chair. "Usually we super groups close ranks when something like this happens. You remember that thing with Mister Mantopus last year? All those videos leaking? A total mess, but The Prime Enforcers supported him and the whole thing just went away. Granted, what The Eternal did was way, way worse, but we still would've supported him if he wasn't such a..." I looked at him expectantly.
"...complete and total dickhead. Look, I can tolerate a lot. Part of my job is mediating intrateam conflict, you know? I took a Six Sigma course." The Spire was clearly proud. "But The Eternal is just abrasive. He doesn't even really have powers, he just lives forever." The Spire tapped a gauntlet-clad finger on the desk and continued. "The Centurion is a better tactician, Lady Blade's top-notch with logistics. Heck, Lunar Man pulls off the 'wizened guy with a cloak' schtick better than he does.” The Spire sighed. "The Blur isn't the world's fastest man. He's not even the second-fastest guy on the team. But he brings in a cake whenever someone has a birthday. Even for The Mercurian." The Spire leaned in. "The guy has like, four birthdays a year." He rubbed his forehead. "I tell you, that sort of attitude is more important than shooting lightning, or whatever." I nodded and The Spire rose from his seat. He looked down on me, suddenly seeming very weary. "Talk to the team. You'll see what I mean."
I stood up and shook his hand. I had been expecting a more nuanced picture of an immortal man, especially from his supposed friends. I considered The Spire’s words before my next interviews.
"Here's the thing," The Centurion began. "The guy has supposedly lived for what, ten thousand years? But he hasn't picked up any people skills. Or maybe he learned them, but somewhere along the line forgot that you don't tell your host that his new apartment's decor looks ‘whorish’". The Centurion looked down, clearly still a little wounded. "I mean, it was my first time having guests over."
A cloud of ghostly knives slowly swirled above Lady Blade. "He's a very dirty, very old man." she began. "At the League’s Christmas party he definitely made a pass at Kid Blade. I called him out, you know what he said?” I raised my eyebrows. “He said that consent is ageless.” We shuddered together.
Thresher fixed me with narrowed eyes. "The Eternal know what he done." I shifted in my chair and waited for him to say more. Thresher clicked his claws. "He know what he done." Ten seconds of silence passed.
Three days later I arrived at Attica Correctional Facility. Prior to the meeting, an officer ushered me into a side room and pointed to a DVD player. "You wanted to see the dashcam?" I nodded and hit play.
The footage opened on a badly dented Range Rover, half on the road and half on the shoulder. A minivan was burning in the background with paramedics working nearby. As the officers exited their cruiser, a man in a tracksuit stumbled out of the Range Rover. An officer approached him, taser drawn, and yelled out. "Sir, lay on the ground and put your hands behind your head!"
The stumbling man turned to face the camera. Even in the dashcam night vision, The Eternal's pointed beard and heavy eye makeup were unmistakable. He slurred his words, almost falling over as he shouted. "The Eternal takes no orders from the mouths of mortals!"
The officers shared a look and the one on the left shrugged, then continued. "Sir, we're going to need you to get on the ground, now!"
The tracksuited superhero began to stumble toward the police, his hands raised not in supplication, but in command. "The Eternal has supped with kings! He has dined on the steps of the hanging gardens of Babylon! Who are you to issue orders, swine?"
The cop on the right looked at his partner. "Ice him, Lou."
Lou fired his taser, dropping The Eternal. He approached the quivering superhero and began to cuff him, then recoiled.
"Aw Christ, Howard. He's pissing himself."
The footage cut out. I shook my head, understanding what the heroes of The League had meant. I rolled the tape over in my mind as I walked to the interview cubicle and waited for The Eternal.
He hobbled in, hands and feet shackled. In the newsprint, he was depicted with a crimson robe, sparking eyes, and a gnarled staff. Today, in prison orange, he looked a little pathetic. I scooted my chair closer to the table and began. "Mr. Eternal, I've met with The League. I've seen the dashcam tape. Would you like to share your side of the story?" The Eternal attempted to cross his arms, found he couldn't do so in manacles, then fixed me with a haughty glare. When he spoke, his voice wasn't booming, nor did it make me tremble. In fact, it was a little nasal.
"The Eternal speaks no stories, for his word is the law of time!"
I decided to take another line with the questions.
"Mr. Eternal, you were convicted of a, uh..." I quickly checked my notes. "...fifth offense DUI? That, plus the deaths. Two parents, four kids." I frowned. "On their way home from Legoland." I recalled the brightly colored bricks scattered on the road from the dashcam tape. "You blew a .35. You're looking at serious time, you must have something to say."
The Eternal snorted. "I have shared beer with the pharaohs of Egypt, wine with Alexander the Great, scotch with Winston Churchill!" With this last proclamation he attempted to raise his hands skyward and found them shackled to his waist. He leaned in. "The Eternal could not have possibly had more than two rum and cokes that night. Perhaps, perhaps a third. But no more."
I was baffled. Was it really possible to live ten thousand years and not develop any self-awareness? Did age have anything to do with wisdom? I tried one last time. "Mr. Eternal, any last comments to share with the public? Do you feel any remorse at all?"
The Eternal scowled at me with pure contempt. "The Eternal cares not for the laws or cages of men, for his is the power of centuries, the wisdom of innumerable seasons!" He stretched out the last word. The Eternal licked his lips, then looked down at the table. "The Eternal also desires commissary credit."
I put my steno into my bag and left the room.
|# ? Oct 20, 2019 23:40|
There is Only the Light.
“It’s over,” said Light, “this is for your own good.”
“That's bullshit John,” said Elaine to him, “you don’t get to choose what's best for people. What’s best for me is us being together.”
“I choose what's best for people every moment of every day. This is no different,” replied Light. His silhouette casted a shadow over Elaine's window in the moonlight.
“This isn’t about what's best for me, this is about you not wanting to take responsibility for your mistake. All the superpowers in the world won’t let you change the fact you sent a love letter to everyone on the planet who has an email account and you think this will fix that. Do you really care that your groupies know your identity? We can move, we can change our names.”
Light waved off the accusation, “I don’t care about that. My enemies will find us and come after you. They will use you against me.”
“That’s what I am to you now huh, a weakness? That's not what it seemed like when you flew in here drunk after you killed that hostage trying to catch the Dark. It was me who picked up all those pieces and helped put them back together. You can't do this alone. Nobody can,” said Elaine, gesturing to the city below.
Light shook his head, “I’m not just anyone. I was weaker then, inexperienced. I made a human mistake and you helped me. It's not necessary any longer. This is something I've been thinking about for awhile,” said Light as he looked away from her.
“You don’t care anymore is more like it. So you’re just going to cut me out because I’m inconvenient? What about your career? What about your friends? You’re just going to throw away everything that makes you human?” she said, crossing her arms.
“None of that matters anymore. I’m cutting it all out. Clean break.” He said coldly.
“John you cant cut out your whole life, you’re a human being! You have needs and feelings, you can’t just run away from that!”
“Stop calling me John. There is no John. John's gone. He's dead. I am the Light, and I’m not human. At all. Anymore.”
“You’re losing it,” she replied.
“I’m not losing it. I’ve just thought about it,” he said, “mass sending that email was actually the best thing that could’ve happened to me. It made me realize what I have to do. Not being the Light, not saving people. That's the selfish choice. I wish you could see that.”
“You’re not even human anyone. You’re not even going to try and pretend. You just wanna fly around, decide what’s right, and smash anything or anyone that disagrees with you, is that it?”
“Sure whatever. If that’s what it takes to get you to save your own life,” said Light with a sigh.
“gently caress you Light,” she said with a snarl, “it’s not about you saving me. It's about you not losing to the Dark. You don’t wanna play human anymore? It’s too loving hard for you? Then go play games with the Dark. That’s who you really want to be with. gently caress, I can barely tell you apart anymore. You and him just want to bitch about us humans. News flash rear end in a top hat, if you two didn’t smash up buildings no one would give a flying super gently caress if either of you lived or died. You wanna break up? Fine. I'm not helping pick up the pieces next time you drown yourself in booze to try and feel something.”
“Elaine,” he said, “Somebody died in the time it took you to say that to me.”
Elaine slammed the window in his face, leaving him floating alone in the cold night with the glow of the city beneath him and the darkness beyond.
|# ? Oct 21, 2019 00:27|
The Grinning Robot Job
We came prepared. Five man team, each of us knowing the job inside and out. Nick and Farrel keeping the crowd nice and calm, Buttons ready with the car, Rafe watching the door, leaving me to handle the merchandise. We all had masks, high end Abraham Lincolns. Breathable latex, not too tight or sweaty, no strings to grab. The new Gearmonger only contracts professional crews.
He showed up right as we had the loot ready to go, all the gems and jewels nicely sacked away. Had to make an entrance, smash through the window, scatter safety glass pellets all over the floor. The Grinning Robot, hands on hips like Rafe or I was dumb enough to shoot at his bulletproof puffed chest. He started to talk, his usual line about crime not paying. I flipped a switch on my Gear, shutting off that noise. Like I said, we came prepared.
The Grinning Robot doesn't have his own voice. No speakers in there at all. When he talks, he takes over every speaker in the room,every phone, radio, fire alarm and elevator buzzer, the same words coming from every direction, each one a few microseconds out of sync. Same with his laugh, full of subsonics that mess with your balance, throw off your aim or take you out of the fight vomiting all over the place. We were having none of that. My Gear used the same carrier wave, with a sharp spike to blow out every amp and speaker. Our comms switched over to voice-to-text, painted onto the eyes of our masks.
We spent months training, in the Gearmonger's forges. Reviewing hours of news and security camera footage, every battle The Grinning Robot ever fought, from World War II newsreels onward. The Gearmonger lead us to his discovery, fight by fight, pausing at key moments, pointing out odd manuvers. Finally, he grilled us.
"He's protecting that bit right there," said Farrel. "Right below the top of his left shoulder. Is that his weak point or something?"
"Or something, yes," said the Gearmonger through his leather mask. He worked his gear-shaped remote and another video came up, The Grinning Robot fighting Glimmer Jimmy. Jimmy didn't come near that shoulder, just jumped around and let his enemy run into walls. Then Jimmy tossed a flash-bomb. The video froze at that instant of illumination, then zoomed over to the shoulder. In the saturated light a circular outline was visible.
"A button," I said.
"A button," said the Gearmonger. "And it'll be your job to push it." He figured it was probably an off switch. That was the big upside, capture him, dismantle, learn all of the secrets of a superhumanoid robot built with late thirties tech. Next most likely was a self-destruct sequence, which would still at least mean one less hero patrolling Southside Edge City.
We went into intense training. We learned how The Grinning Robot fought, which was a mix between Olympic wrestling and boxing, thirties-style, with a few low blows and dirty-fighting moves added. Then we practiced against each other, learning how to beat those moves.
The real thing was tougher than the training. The Grinning Robot was stronger than any of us, far tougher,and almost as fast. What we had going was a four-on-one advantage, and the fact that we only had to hit that button, not take him down bare-handed.
Rafe took a punch right to the jaw, breaking it. Kept fighting through the pain and blood. Good man. Nick and Farrel squared off in front of our steel and rubber foe. I moved around behind. Then some idiot civilian,one of the customers, grabbed the gun we took off the security guard and started pulling the trigger, aiming at Nick. Nothing happened; the fool left the safety on. I took advantage of the distraction, took a leap onto The Grinning Robot's back and jammed my finger right into the button.
The shop was lousy with mirrors. I got a good view in one. The Grinning Robot's face rotated inside itself vertically, like the last reel of a slot machine slowly going from a third bar to a lemon. His trademark grinning face went downward, replaced by an angry frown, just as his glowing eyes changed from blue to deep red. I tried the button again, jabbing hard twice before he threw me off. Nothing happened. Well, nothing happened with the button. I landed hard, right into a display case made of old-fashioned non-safety glass and got a great big bloody shard poking through my left leg, just below the knee. That leg wasn't going anywhere, and neither was I, not any faster than a crawl. And he was between me and my team, between me and the exit.
The- what, the Frowning Robot now? The Scowling Robot? The Robot went into some kind of overdrive. First thing he did was go for the idiot with the gun. Reached out like a mamba and crushed gun and hand both to a mess of flesh and metal. Then he went after us.
The Grinning Robot wasn't a brutal vigilante. You could break some bones fighting him, sure: some ribs, a jaw, fingers or toes if you're dumb enough to strike at a steel robot without proper equipment. But you weren't going to get the kind of injury that makes you choose between retirement or going cyborg. This new version? After crushing that guy's hand, that civilian's hand, he went into a standing high kick at Rafe that wrecked his upper arm, not just breaking but shattering the bone. Rafe couldn't scream properly on account of his jaw but the noise he made got the point across.
"Get out," I said, over our comms. "Grab Rafe, get to the car, and bug the hell out."
Reply text appeared on my display.
Farrel:Hell, no, Scott. We ain't leaving you.
Nick: Shut up. Orders are
Nick cut off, midway. The Robot had grabbed him, put his arms in a twisting, crushing hold that couldn't have been legal in any sport. I had one more trick. I touched my Gear, rotated it to position three, and aimed it. A short electric arc leapt from me to the Robot. Nick's suit was fully insulated. The Robot flinched, dropping Nick.
"Go, go, go," I yelled. The Robot turned around and started slowly stomping toward me.
I dropped the Gear, threw it out of reach, and raised my arms in surrender. "I give, okay?" I said. "You're not a killer, right. Not even once." It kept moving toward me, eyes flaring. "Me neither." Those red eyes narrow with doubt and disdain. Another stomp. "Please," I screamed. He raised his arms then started to swing down at my head.
He stopped. The face rotated up, back to the grin, back to the blue eyes, and he let his arms fall to his side as my vision narrowed from shock and blood loss.
I woke up in a prison infirmary. Not the first time, not the last. I've got an excellent lawyer on retainer. The leg isn't going to be the same, though, and I've made my choice, I won't be going cyborg.
|# ? Oct 21, 2019 01:28|
Day three. The sun beats down, even though it's barely eight AM. No way to avoid it -- on through the steps. Clean, feed, aerate and mulch. This is gonna be a bad-rear end flower garden, no matter what. Gotta fit in.
Marisela tosses her garden fork to the side, bends down and grabs the spade.
Stubborn weeds, stabbed in the base until they come up. Rocks she'd missed on the first pass, tossed into a pile. Some ridiculous roots -- hacked at fiercely, to no avail. What the heck had been in this flower bed before?
She hears a car starting, close, so she takes a break to stand up and wave to probably Chris, maybe Mary Anne. A crop of blonde hair is visible through the open window. So, Mary Anne.
"Good morning Becky!" Comes the call through the car window. Marisela waves back, managing a smile.
"Hey Mary Anne! Have a good one!"
Mary Anne's car pulls out of the driveway, and Marisela stretches and knuckles her lower back.
"gently caress it." Marisela turns back to the flower bed, picks up her gardening tools and puts them back in the crate. Enough for today. Next up on her schedule of normalcy: a car wash.
But first, some release.
Tools, in the garage. Garage door, closed. Side door, through, and locked. Down the stairs. The dim hallway of hideous wallpaper and doors lining each side, and then the back room. False wall, slid to the side. Vault door, combination lock, spin spin spin.
"OK >>>" the display reads.
The vault door slams behind her, and Marisela raises her arms outward. Her whole body shakes, teeth chattering against each other as a harsh buzzing feeling rushes from her chest to her shoulders to her hands. Blue-green light, and then blue-green sparks swarm over her hands and she tilts her head back and screams. Pure energy pours from her outstretched hands and beats against the walls of the vault, bounding harmlessly off the metal.
After what seems like no time at all, she finds herself on her hands and knees on the floor. Drool is puddled under her head, and she can barely hold herself up. She hauls herself to her feet, hunches over with her hands on her knees and waits.
She feels way better.
Marisela shrugs her shoulders and opens the vault door. Close the door, spin the lock, slide the wall closed. Walk upstairs.
"loving Becky? Absolutely not!"
The agent grimaced. "Look, we just want you to fit in. Rebecca Engle, recently divorced. The name, the backstory, it all fits in with the demographics of the suburb."
Marisela glowered at the agent.
"Sure. But how is this going to work? You know I need a way to let loose. That's why started working for the Agency in the first place. So I could do it legally."
"Absolutely," the agent said, checking his clipboard. "Well, titanium will contain it, right? There's a vault downstairs. You can... expend as much energy as you need to."
Marisela sunk her head into her hands. "This is loving bullshit. Just one fight where it turns out I'm way out of my league and I'm a have to disappear? I got away just fine!"
The agent shook his head. "The Broken Man doesn't work that way. You saw his face. There are over a hundred civilians dead downtown just because they saw what he looks like. The only reason you aren't dead is because you're fast, and you came straight to us. Our null zone is too small, and the Broken Man will will see you eventually. You need to go to a big null, and that means Tallahasse. Becky."
Marisela stared at the table. And nodded her head.
"Fine. I'll do it. But while I'm gone... kill him. I don't care how many big-league supers you need to call. loving finish him. I loving hate Florida and I know I'll hate Tallahassee. I don't care if it's the safest place on the planet. Get me out of there ASAP."
Hands and knees. Jabbing, jabbing with the trowel. These God. drat. Roots. Are there more of them now than before? There must have been something with a ridiculous root system. Dogwood? Buckthorn? It doesn't matter. She grabs a thick root at the base and hacks at the side of it with the trowel.
A particularly vicious swing. The trowel ricochets off the side of the root, takes a chunk out of her hand.
Her hand snatches back automatically and she shakes it. Then numbness as she cradles it and watches dirt and blood well in the cut. Marisela closes her eyes, scrunches her face up and grits her teeth.
loving burn the roots. It'll be so easy.
She lifts her head, looks around. Enough chipping away at these drat things, one quick burn and they'll simply be gone. There is no one out, neighborhood kids are inside and the sun is already dipping behind some of the taller trees...
Marisela digs her hands down, ignoring the gash, pushing in to get them under the dirt. She feels a small buzz from her hands, and she can see them shaking a little bit under the dirt. Not too much fire, just enough to...
A whoosh and then a quiet thump as the entire flower bed lifts an inch and settles back down. I's dark enough that the slightest blue-green glow comes from the dust as it settles.
Marisela smiles. That felt good.
"loving fire! Did you see that?" The spotter tears his eyes away from the from his binoculars, checks the sensor equipment and grabs the sat-phone next to him.
The software guy at his table gapes at him, immobile. "Are you serious? This uh.. Becky?"
"Yeah!" The spotter punches in a memorized number and waits impatiently through a series of rings.
"Yes." A gravelly voice on the other end.
"5651 Cypress, it's her. It's a positive ID, spectrum readings match. I don't know how she didn't release before this, but it's her. Tell the Broken Man."
Silence on the other end, then quiet laughter.
"Watch her. He's coming. Within the hour. You'll receive a message when he's within five, so you can get the gently caress out."
The men stare at each other.
"Let's leave now" says the spreadsheet man. "I don't trust Central, he could be here anytime. I don't wanna die."
The spotter nods. "Let's leave all this poo poo here. Let's go. Let's go!"
The two men rush out the door. The spotter's scope and equipment remain.
|# ? Oct 21, 2019 02:07|
Five minutes before the moon hits
Luis had a single bullet left in his revolver. One small piece of lead that would decide absolutely nothing. He was tired, worn and thoroughly done with it all.
"What say we go to the roof," he said, "Watch the show from there."
He was met with silence, and then the staccato roar of a rifle on full auto.
"No? Fine. I'll go by myself."
He surveyed the dark storehouse. He was roughly in the middle of it, the Rësponsiv soldiers were near the entrance, advancing. If he ran for the stairs, he'd have to leave the safe cover of the forklift, but if he stayed, he'd be overtaken.
Always keep moving.
He wondered if he'd been here if he had kept moving. If he'd thrown himself into the tumbling avalanche he'd created. If he'd just conjured another war or fractured another megacorp. One more guarantee.
But no, he'd grown stagnant, and so had the world.
"Luis Breen," called a voice, "Come out now and we'll grant you a just death."
"Semmy! Is that you?"
It was, of course it was. He'd recognize that voice anywhere.
"You know I can't go willingly," he said, "Doesn't fit the narrative."
Bullshit. Of course it was bullshit. The narrative didn't matter anymore. He was just a self-important villain, insistent on having his end be his end.
He ran for the stairs as Sem Oni fired again.
Four years before the moon hits
"I don't understand," said Chair Linsen, "We depend on you, and now you're just going to quit?"
She watched Luis through glasses glowing with the steady scroll of a stockwatcher.
"I've quit companies before," said Luis.
"Yes, to set your next fire, to manifest your next guarantee. We've prepared for that eventuality, every top corp has, but you're telling me you're- you're retiring."
Luis shifted uncomfortably in his chair. The Raicorp boardroom was too hot, sun streaming through polluted air and then through dimmed windows.
"I'm just not doing guarantees anymore."
"Guarantees is what you do."
"And I'm done."
They sat in silence for a long time. Linsen staring at him, he staring past her through the windows. Outside were the fruits of his labor. A revitalized and resplendent Berlin, aircars flitting from corporate tower to corporate tower. Raicorp reigning above them all.
Wasn't that enough?
Six years before the moon hits
The warlord ate the tom kha gai like he'd been starving for years, occasionally pausing to look at Luis, giggling every time. After the table was covered with flecks of soup and his gob glistened with a filmy layer of oil, he sat back, laughed one loud "Hah!" and clapped his hands together.
"We got you," he said.
Luis smiled a thin, businesslike smile.
"You sure did," he said.
"The loving... The loving calculator!" he said, and rose halfway, pointing at Luis, "The math man himself!"
Luis nodded noncommittally. The warlord sat down again, said something in Polish to one of his henchmen, and laughed again.
"So, math man, tell me how this works."
And Luis told him.
It was a simple idea. Funding separatist groups all across the western border of the Soviet Financial Accord would catalyze the growing resentment of a number of formerly free Eastern European states, causing a massive, social movement, pushing against the frayed border of the reconstituted Soviet.
And that's where Luis stopped telling the truth. He told the warlord Poland would be reborn in the flames of conflict, and even though they couldn't hope to defeat the SFA by themselves, they'd cause enough trouble to gain their independence.
Instead, of course, they would all be slaughtered. The warlord would see his family shot in the street, he would be hung from a lamppost, and the Polish territories would be placed under extreme labor sanctions, turning most of the country into a de facto work camp for the megacorporations that had paid Luis handsomely for precisely that outcome.
A guarantee from Luis Breen wasn't just a good bet, it was fate.
Two months before the moon hits
Sem Oni rubbed his hands together, breath turning to mist in winter air.
"There's still a chance for you," he said.
"I don't think there is."
Semmy looked out across the lake, dark skin a contrast against the white uniform of Linsen's private security force.
"She's angry at you, but she knows you're the only one who can fix this."
"I don't think I can."
Semmy gave him a sidelong glance, "You don't think?"
Luis laughed mirthlessly.
"No, you're right," he said, "I know I can't."
And as the ice on the lake grew thicker, the world grew darker.
He thought the towers of Berlin was enough, the end of his history. He thought he could stop there, and let the rest of history ride out, but he wasn't prepared for the utter chaos the absence of control would leave. If he'd been on board, he could have stopped Linsen from bein ousted, he could have introduced a measure of corruption and conflict to keep Raicorp on their toes. Instead, the corporation had settled like cement in every corner and crevice of the earth.
Luis couldn't see the future, not exactly, but turning over a card in a game of solitaire, the consequences of a choice would be reveled the moment he focused on it.
The deck was empty. Ten days after he'd announced his retirement to Linsen, the last opportunity to chance the glacial end of the world passed, and Luis did nothing.
He got up from the bench, Semmy watched him.
"That's a no then?" he said.
Luis couldn't look at him.
"It always was."
One minute before the moon hits
Sem Oni quit Raicorp after Linsen's suicide, and joined Rësponsiv when he discovered Luis was the reason she'd killed herself. Luis couldn't blame him.
He still remembered their last conversation, him and Linsen. How her eyes had widened in fear when he'd told her what he'd done. He couldn't blame her.
Retirement or not, he still had his guarantees. A guarantee that a careless scientist would discover the science of gravity manipulation, a guarantee that the science would fall into the wrong hands, a guarantee that a fatalistic eco-cult would see the world as he did. Worthy of euthanasia. Rather a cretaceous end than a slow, automated suicide.
The gut-shot Semmy had inflicted on Luis still hurt though. Luis stumbled as he reached the top of the stairs, his whole body hurt as he threw the door open, and he fell to the dusty concrete, blood painting his outline. He turned around on his back as Semmy came up after him.
"It's beautiful," said Luis.
The moon filled the sky like a second sky. Above them, the atmosphere bulged and collapsed beneath the satellite.
"You came out here," said Semmy, "At the end of the world, just to get a rooftop view?"
Semmy sat down besides Luis.
"You came out here," said Luis, "To kill me a minute before the end of the world?"
Semmy smiled sadly.
"I'd have my last act be justice," he said.
|# ? Oct 21, 2019 02:34|
I got nothin' for this one. Taking the
(USER WAS BANNED FOR THIS POST)
|# ? Oct 21, 2019 02:51|
Your power: astral projection, in reverse. Your mistake: you saved too many people. ORBS
Mister Nefarious had finally bested the Honor Society. One by one, he had picked off the world’s greatest heroes and spread a dominion of terror that would sweep across every corner of the planet.
First, there was the fall of Captain Honor. Stripped of his powers by means unknown, Nefarious killed the hero unceremoniously with a knife to the heart in a darkened alley. The honorable captain left in a dishonorable heap with all the life he once held in a red pool that was soaking into the concrete beneath his body.
Next was the caped crusader, Sablehawk. Bested in a contest of wits, Sablehawk confidently and expertly worked out the identity of Nefarious and had even managed to dismantle the traps Nefarious placed to lure him out into the open. Sablehawk closed in on Nefarious and after a short altercation, had the villain in custody, only to find out he had been tangling with a fanatical zealot wired to the ears with explosives. Oddly enough, the hero survived the blast, but not without permanent disfigurements and life altering injuries.
Magnifigirl was next, and she put up more of a challenge, nearly crushing Nefarious’s head during their fight. The villain ultimately managed to capture Magnifigirl by using her own Manacle’s of Repentance against her. After she had been subdued, he dropped her off the side of a mountain, that overlooked the sea. If the crags didn’t take her, the drift would.
The other two-bit lackeys and heroes like myself hung up the capes, cowls and foolish ambitions once the big three were dealt with. If the best and most powerful among us could fall, what were we going to do?
Six months had passed and I ended up taking up a job as a grocer at the local FoodCo. The Inner-being had always been a way for me to get free pot, booze and sex. I gave being a hero a bad name. So once being a hero meant having a death wish, I left the lifestyle with ease.
Time Wizard had been up to something for a while at that point. He disappeared for a few days leading up to Captain Honor’s death then again following the disbanding. I assumed he went into hiding or slipped away into a cozy time pocket.
Unfortunately for me, he had just been biding time. As I was unclogging the women’s toilet for the second time that shift, he appeared in front of me, a temporal artifact placed into the timeline for me to see.
“Inner-Being, Edward, son of James, you must travel to the fundamental plane to restore the paradigm.”
“Uh… I’m just trying to get these liners out of the drain, you’ve got the wrong guy.”
“Edward, son of James, no other hero is capable of what you are capable of. I have searched our timeline for the best possible outcome, and it involves you, Edward, son of James.”
“Time has really hosed with your head hasn’t it? I can take a smoke break, but that’s it.”
The artifact of the Time Wizard placed two glowing finger tips against my head and transported visions of the far future into my mind.
I was Nefarious. Not now, but I would become him, or it… whatever it is. It’s something escaped from the fundamental plane. An idea, a high concept. Not a life form or a monster. Things that low aren’t flesh and blood, but they aren’t abstract like the metaphysical beings of the fifth dimension.
More binary in function, and instinctual in thought, Nefarious was the indirect answer to a rhetorical question.
I took the bait.
“I’ll do it, I’ll stop whatever this is and then I just want to be left alone.”
“What happened to the Mistress of Mystery was not your fault, Edward, son of James.”
The bastard just had to say something. I groan and wave him away, and the artifact dissipates. He knew I would help. He knows a lot more than he lets on, but I accept.
I sit in the center of the meat locker and cross my legs, inhaling a deep breath to center myself. On the exhale, I start the timer and find myself falling back into that familiar well. The ink.
It’s like falling into the ocean, each shifting slope and rising wave, crashing in on itself endlessly, but there’s a drain plug at the bottom.
I yank on the rust caked beaded chain and reality drains away with a hissing pop and the timer beeps. An auditory signal to keep track of time in the real world.
One minute in and I see my bedroom, my submersible, my home inside of home, awaiting me. All the clocks within flashing 3:33 to indicate how far I’ve gone into the unconscious world.
I stop by for some stale chips and a bong rip. Tugging at strands of memory in the simulacrum of a simulacrum.
I open the door to my room and leap into the static below. I pass through the shared psychic bedlam of humanity. The grotesque assemblage of dreams and fears, a dark place filled with desperation and glints of blinding light that burn and fade back into that inaudible cacophony.
My room is coming up again, and I feel less myself than I have in a while.
The timer chimes again, but I register it as the third or fourth alert.
I’m getting lost here. Maybe someone will come in and wake me up, pull me out of this mess before I get to the bottom, because I know what’s there already. The Time Wizard made sure I’d see it.
The alarms in the room read 12:12 now. It’s the deepest I’ve ever fallen into the ink.
I don’t remember what I look or sound like. I feel my thoughts bleeding out onto a page somewhere, a frantically paced undoing with limited resources.
I don’t feel my body anymore, and my room is hardly my room. Always a construct of hazy memories and loose ideas, it had become something far more primitive, and simplistic. Symbolic connections shared across ideas and beliefs.
Just beyond the threshold are two orbs of concentrated energy. Immense entities responsible for the higher dimensional projections. I don’t remember their names, or even if they are a they, but I see myself again. I know with certainty that it’s me.
Trapped in the madness forever. It’s beautiful, and horrifying, but there I am, and everyone else is there with me. I reattach the severed soul links, and the timer rings again.
I leap forward as if I was grasping for a breath of fresh air. 10 minutes had passed, but the store is deathly silent.
I exit out of the meat-locker into my room and it’s a lot more crowded here than usual, the Time Wizard wanted me to undo this, but… I don’t know if I can. We’re all here, safe and dreaming. I can keep my grip on reality… this won’t end poorly, it just won’t end.
I’m crying now. You’re all here watching and hoping that I’ll let you out, but… there’s no more out to go to. We’re stuck here forever, I’m sorry.
|# ? Oct 21, 2019 04:50|
I got nothin' for this one. Taking the
knowing you have failed, sit at your keyboard or hold your phone and write dumb words irregardless
|# ? Oct 21, 2019 05:08|
Having Erred, All Else is Vain
The first time Jethro’s polyplants failed, he was saving his best friend’s kid from pulverization or drowning. He wasn’t sure which, since boulders had pinned Linus into waist-high pond water, with more rocks tumbling forth.
For her part, Tina, the boy’s mom, leapt to her feet. Seemingly undazed by the quake, she grabbed a branch and frantically began plying the boulders off her son.
Jethro kept himself from swearing. Sans workable polyplants, he hadn’t the strength nor speed to destroy the rocks careening down the mountainside. But he knew he might divert them somewhat if he stood in their path.
On the ride back from the hospital, Jethro assured Tina, “It’s not as bad as it looks. One cracked rib and a concussion. And my polyplants came back online.”
“What’s a concussion?” asked Linus from the backseat.
“It’s when your brain gets a bruise and you start doing silly things. Like this!” Jethro stretched out his cheeks, exposed his tongue, and, turning to face the boy, rolled his eyes backwards.
Linus shrieked with laughter.
Just then, Jethro’s left earlobe vibrated and his holoscope dilated over his right eye. Pink text appeared over Jethro’s lower visual field:
Sorry to interrupt your vacation, Prosthetic Avenger, but we have a situation downtown. Madam Bonepile has cuffed three hostages to the Rickets Ave fire-hydrant. The department has elected not to refer this one to Lieutenant Otherkin: Canine Cop. Can you render assistance?
Jethro turned his head, “Madam Bonepile—”
“—Don’t even think about it,” said Tina.
“But what if she’s gotten back with Baron Didgeridoo? Trust me, this could signal the resurgence of the Evil Leag—”
“—Are you gonna fight Madam Bonepile?” asked Lucas, clapping his hands in unrestrained glee.
“No, he’s not,” said Tina. “Someone else will take care of it. The Prosthetic Avenger isn’t going to fight any more crime until he’s over his injuries.” She glanced at the banged up hero. “Isn’t that right?”
Jethro sighed. “Yeah, I guess so.” After all, his head was throbbing. He tweaked a dial on his wrist to “Decline Job.”
Tina pulled into Jethro’s lot. “You rest up, okay?” She blew him a platonic kiss. “Call if you need anything.”
The next polyplant failures were more benign than Jethro’s first. He had a sudden loss of strength at morning yoga, an intermittent dampening of the senses at a coffee shop, one dropped Spotify track (Toto, “Africa”) at the grocery store. His head still pounded, but he refused to acknowledge his inadequate post-concussion rest. The Prosthetic Avenger was many things, but weak? Ineffectual? Jethro would have none of it.
Jethro never liked when townsfolk would stop and offer thanks for one act of heroism or another. He’d like it even less with a splitting headache, so he avoided notice by detouring through the local campus’s woods. Jethro speed-walked through gorges and ravines. Eventually, he found a young woman, presumably a student, looking over the side of a bridge.
“Afternoon,” said Jethro.
Startled, the student looked up. Then she climbed onto the bridge’s edge and jumped.
Instinct overtook Jethro. He sprinted forward at a velocity only possible via polyplants. He dove over the bridge, keeping his body straight to pick up speed, and caught the flailing woman in mid-air. Then, he sprung from one side of the ravine to the other, slowing his descent on the way down. Jethro hit the ground on his feet, holding the woman in his arms.
“I have a right to die! You have no idea what I’ve been through.”
The student looked away.
Jethro couldn’t shake the terrifying thought: What if my polyplants had failed again after I leapt over that bridge?
He knew he’d need a more reliable set. But with their inventor brought to justice, supply was all-too-scarce. So he resolved to do something he’d told himself he’d never do again.
Deep in Jethro’s basement, in a now-unlocked crate behind a false wall, Jethro stared at his old equipment.
From when I a different man, Jethro remembered. It would take some work, but these retro polyplants could be redesigned the way he’d eventually need them to be: beyond recognition.
In the meanwhile, Jethro swapped out his modern polyplants for those retro ones. He figured he’d be fine as long as he wasn’t seen with them in public. Then he went upstairs to bed.
But sleep eluded Jethro. Bored, he holoscoped some social media. Tina had posted some group pics taken shortly before the quake. Jethro responded to one of them, “Typical. As soon as the camera goes off, I blink.” After a while, he nodded off.
When he woke up, his life was over.
News notifications filled his holoscope:
Prosthetic Avenger Revealed to be Wanted Supervillain, Beloved Superhero Doxxes Himself
“Dear God,” whispered Jethro. Those old polyplants had saved the login credentials from his evildoing days. He hadn’t realized he had posted to Tina’s page as “Deathcradle.”
Reposts of Deathcradle’s most serious crimes flooded the internet, some with video. Everyone was talking about the Cincinnati Orphan Massacre.
Jethro stared at the condemnations, wanting to punish his former self with all the flagrant excess he could never show to Madam Bonepile or any other duly processed criminal. His hands were shaking. He tried to breathe deeply through it, but began nervously to talk.
“Lieutenant Otherkin is liable to fetch you at any moment now,” he said to himself. “Life in prison. You deserve it.”
He logged into his Prosthetic Avenger account:
I’ve done horrible things to lots of people. For that I am deeply sorry. I can’t undo my past, but I’ve tried to atone through service. I acknowledge my guilt and accept the consequences now.
Posts flooded in:
Wow, that’s not some self-serving bullshit or anything…
HO-LEE-poo poo, @_ProstheticAvenger thinks an apology can erase CHILD MURDER
(from Baron Didgeridoo, trolling) #ProstheticAvengerCancelled
Jethro knew he deserved all that and worse. But what could he do? He was an awful person who dealt with it by cosplaying as a decent one. He wasn’t looking forward to prison, but what bothered him most was being forever unable to set things right.
“Why is evil heavier than good?” he thought. “All these years saving lives, so many more than I ever took. But I never got close to atoning.”
Just then, there was a knock at the door. Jethro opened it, expecting a superhero or at least a SWAT Team. Instead, it was Tina.
“Give me your polyplants. Quick!” she demanded.
“You’re about to waste away in prison. But I can install the polyplants into Linus. I’ll bring them online when he’s old enough to fight crime. Believe it or not, this was his idea.”
Jethro believed it; this was just crazy enough to have sprung from the mind of an eight-year-old. Still, he began ripping from his body all things inorganic, handing them over to Tina. It’s not redemption, but it’s forward progress. “Visit me in prison. I’ll give detailed instructions on how to install these.”
Tina hurried the prosthetics away. When Lieutenant Otherkin: Canine Cop arrived (with substantial backup), Jethro surrendered. Peacefully.
|# ? Oct 21, 2019 06:54|
Man of the Javelin
I’m halfway through the wall, feeling the bricks powder and shatter behind me, when I remember the first one. Think of his expression, a sort of genial befuddlement; sharp-edged lines of light crossing his face as the vault door opened, as he saw the ranks of sarcophagi stretching out into the fluorescent depths of Lazarus Peak. It was the only way, of course. Some might think it excessive, but there’s only one world. Only one.
I blame Methusaleh. The man of the javelin, the man of Selah. I knew him. We got drunk together mainly.
“You’re the criminal,” I’d said as I passed the octagonal bowl of wine over to him. I remember the feel of the cool Samian glaze on my sweaty hand. “You will make them dream of eternity.”
He hadn’t replied, just looked at me with those dark eyes and taken the bowl. Wisdom takes people hard once they get past a few hundred years, the connections start metastasising.
That’s when I had the idea, but then the Flood happened, then the Romans, then a few big wars and my mind was elsewhere. It was tiring work, and midway through the cold war I paused for a beer in a cellar in Krakow after defusing the latest nuclear crisis and, as I blew the foam off the top it came back to me, in a rush.
Making history happen was tiring. And I got very little gratitude for it (though that wasn’t why I was doing it) from the people I was shepherding. Why not get them to help? A few dozen years of excavation and preparation and I threw the switch. It was satisfying to see the apparatus working, and even more satisfying to find my first candidate: Harry Everard McCann, former bricklayer. I brought him to the mountain, laid him to rest. And felt the jolt as his dreams slithered into my backbrain. From there it was a steady process expanding and extending the complex, filling it up with old people who the world wouldn’t miss.
I explained the whole thing to them, naturally. I’m not a monster. The world was limited, and it could take so many people. Not just resources; dreams. There were only so many dreams that could be had, and one day they would all be gone. Harry had a few questions, but he was happy enough with the answers. He was the first of my sweetly sleeping ancient ones, and now there millions.
I smile at the memory of the lid closing on his face just as my back slams into the ground and the bricks fall on my face. It hurts quite a lot. I reach up to pull them off, but someone steps on my arm and I can't move it.
"You trapped their minds," he says. It's an old voice, smooth, worn down by the passage of years into the faintest whisper but it echoes in my head like bells.
"No," I croak. "They trapped themselves." An age-gnarled hand reaches down and pulls the bricks away from my face. I blink up at Methusaleh, squinting through the brick dust. "Their people have forgotten them, and their can dreams live in me forever. It's a fair trade!"
Methusaleh shakes his head. "Nothing lives forever." He's got a sign in his other hand, big, red, octagonal. I see the word emblazoned on it as he raises it high.
"Stop," I say, and he brings it down.
|# ? Oct 21, 2019 07:00|
Flesnolk fucked around with this message at 15:39 on Oct 26, 2019
|# ? Oct 21, 2019 08:40|
Submissions are now closed.
|# ? Oct 21, 2019 08:47|
Fungus has gone too far
|# ? Oct 21, 2019 09:05|
Week 376 - Results
This was a real mixed bag this week. I will say, nobody sunk to The Boys levels of "gritty and grim and dark AND GRITTY AND GRIM AND DARK" (I have not seen the Amazon series) which I appreciated. And (some of) you took your prompts in interesting, creative directions which is obviously a good thing. But wow, do you guys and gals love your big backstory dumps. Like, a whole lot. Too much, in fact. And then you added in some questionable dialogue, rushed endings and loving lists for some reason? This was a tough one. I try not to give out more than a couple of DMs per week but I was sorely tempted.
The judges weren't always unanimous in their decisions but they trended fairly close. As always, when in doubt, ius iudicis took over.
Let's get to it.
First of all, the greatest shame in the Dome is writing Rural Rentboys. The second greatest shame in the Dome, however, is failing to submit. Try again next week magic cactus.
Your loser this week is rat-born cock. A clever twist on walking through walls couldn't save you from a story that felt way too lolrandom for your own good.
The dishonourable mentions go to terre packet and Anomalous Amalgam. You both suffered from unlikable characters and prose that was just a bit too much of a chore to read.
The honourable mentions go to sebmojo and Black Griffon. Both of your stories evoked a great sense of atmosphere and character, even if you stumbled every now and then.
The winner this week is none other than Thranguy! The judges all agreed that you had good action, efficient worldbuilding and that this story was just plain fun to read.
Ascend the Blood Throne Thranguy!
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 07:15|
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 07:38|
Thunderdome CCCLXXVII: Kenophobia
It's that time of the year, Halloween rapidly approaching. Time to think about horror tales and short fiction. Hemmingway's famous shortest story:
For sale, baby shoes, never used.
Is sad, but not horrific. There's always:
For sale, baby shoes, feet included.
But we can do better. With one fewer word.
This is still early capitalism.
Welcome back to Voidmart, thunderdome!
As interim CEO I'll be presenting you all with exciting opportunities that almost certainly won't end in your liquidation or otherwise transition to nutrient-rich ichor.
Here's the basics of the setting, as established by the previous administration:
We're focusing on core competencies, so when you sign up you will be assigned a department (such as pets, power tools, or paper goods) or job title (from barrista to janitor to human resources). Voidmart is an improbably well-stocked store; the possibilities are endless. Your protagonist must work in this department/at this job. Supporting characters can be from other departments, or job titles of course.
Genre is mostly open,although given the calendar there should be at least some element of the horrific, the spooky, or at least of the spoopy. Voidmart has always been fairly terrifying, so it shouldn't be too much of a stretch. And, as always,Goon Erotica and fanfic is forbidden.
Collaboration is encouraged but by no means required, as in previous Voidmart weeks; find your various ways to irc or discord and share your documents and plans among yourself if you so desire. Do not feel you need to reference or align with anything from the previous prompts; the Void is vast and contains multitudes.
Signups close Friday 11:59 PM Pacific Time
Submissions close 11:59 PM Pacific Time
Anomolous Amalgam, Camping supplies
Anatomi, labor relations and enhanced interrogation
Some Strange Flea, Fire and Emergency marshall
Asap-Salafi, loss prevention
Doctor Zero shift supervisor
QuoProQuid, camping supplies
A friendly penguin, guns, ammo and liquor
Sparksbloom, plants and garden supplies
Applewhite tech support and robot wrangling
Black Griffon, meat
Sitting Here, baby supply
Staggy, secret shopper
Crimea, returns and exchanges
sebmojo, seasonal decorations marshall
Mercedes, Senior Barrista, The Golden Bean
steeltoedsneakers, power tools
Carl Killer Miller, The Back
Liquid communism, fitting room
Barnaby Profane, pets
Maigius, Cart Pushers
Fleta Mcgurn, Garbage Disposal
Rat-born Cock, Remote Control Drones
Thranguy fucked around with this message at 07:00 on Oct 28, 2019
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 08:48|
slam this IN into my veins holy blood god yes
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 08:54|
Oh hell yes in
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 08:59|
in we're going shopping bitches
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 09:00|
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 09:26|
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 10:41|
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 10:46|
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 10:50|
Dear sir/madam/extra dimensional being that transcends gender,
I would like to apply to voidmart.
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 11:05|
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 11:35|
gently caress you all for making me read, etc etc.
Here’s your crits for super hero week.
In the Hall of the Mountain King – rat-born cock
First of all, your enthusiasm is noted and appreciated. The general premise was a welcome surprise. You took the “walking through walls” in a different direction than most would expect.
The opening sentence was clunky, with the commas and clauses out of place. If it had been later in the story, I could have overlooked it, but it annoyed me right off the bat. Had I not been contractually obligated to read entries this week, I'd have just stopped there and scrolled on down to the next story.
And while the general premise was a fun surprise, the rest of the surprise was straight up monkey-cheese-ninja-pirate. The forced wackiness is really off-putting. I just kept asking “But why, though?” This piece wasn't so much telling me a story as it was just telling me to “Look at this zany, mad-capped poo poo!” And I like looking at zany, mad-capped poo poo, but unfortunately this is the same zany, mad-capped poo poo I've seen in all over the internet for the past 20 years.
A Poisoned Gift – Simply Simon
The premise is interesting, and this is written almost as a brag. It's got some swagger and gets at the personality of the unnamed protagonist.
Also, props for making the guy kind of an unlikable jerk. That's always risky, but in the context of this story, I think it works.
There's some really clunky sentence construction going on here – enough to really make a reader stumble along. That really detracts from the brag & swagger aesthetic I think you were going for. To get these complex thoughts to work out in prose, you really need more than commas. Use em dashes, colons, and semicolons. I'd be really interested to read a re-write.
No Need For Heroes – asap-salafi
Solid technical prose through the whole story. This was the first story this round that I didn't have to keep doubling back to make sure I read the line correctly. Thanks for this.
I found the story compelling in a believable way. Showing super heroes as fallible, foible-prone humans has been done before, but I think you pulled it off well here.
So the strength of this story - showing the human side of the hero - is also the its weakness. What exactly is his super power anyway? He's reminiscing about old times fighting the big baddies, and he willfully doesn't activate his super power to let his wife stab him, but beyond that there's no clue as to what makes this guy any different from any other cheating dude who's frustrated, but also guilty. It was so close to nailing it, but it just needs a pinch more weird to cement that this is a superhero story.
The Horrible Truth of the Eternal – Carl Killer Miller
The dialogue here works really well to keep the story moving along. Most of the “main” characters have fairly distinct voices, and those voices “fit.” Each character had a distinct personalty and wants/issues. Good job.
I also think the first person/third person dialogue was a smart move – with the unnamed interviewer acting as an interlocutor to tease the story out. And the story has that proper balance of human folly and superhero oddity that I'm looking for.
The jokey end falls flat for me. It's like you veered from your story into a Venture Brothers script. And I love some Venture Brothers, but The Eternal's line about commissary credits is just a little too ham fisted. Subtle it up and I think you've got a solid winner.
There is Only the Light – SlipUp
The dialogue is good here. Subtle voice cues let me know who is talking. I can pick a line at random, out of order, and I know which speaker is talking.
There's a nice subtle blending of the mundane and the weird going on. Yes, this is a lover's spat, but having the superhero floating during the confrontation gives it a nudge into the surreal.
You could have done a little more the prompt. The Light mass-emailed the planet, but that fact just sort of dies on the vine. Chekov's Gun never goes off – his wife just gets pissed off he's got a gun in the house. If you had used the allotted word count this round, I'd have chalked it up to economic need. But, there was still plenty of wiggle room to work that prompt a little deeper into the story, so I'm left wanting.
The Grinning Robot Job – Thranguy
This story's just fun. I like fun things. Lots of kinetic action going on here. Suspension of disbelief is easy with this one. This walks that fine line between silly and realistic, and the result is an easy read where I don't find myself questioning the premise or the actions.
The voice on the protagonist fits. A nice, thuggish narrative.
I know I just complimented the thuggish voice, but the first couple of paragraphs really took that to right up to the limit of my patience with sentences fragments. You can get away with accent fragments if they're infrequent, but after the third or fourth one, the gimmick gets tiring. Thankfully, you didn't keep that up through the second and third scene.
And I'm not going to hold this against you too much, since you did yeoman's work with the story in general, but I can't really figure out where you addressed the “power” part of your prompt. (Emotional Super-strength / Super-emotional Strength.) I can make an argument to myself - given the protagonists actions - that he is both emotional and strong, maybe?
Protection - terre packet
Good job staying away from Fanfic.
Large parts of this story read like a poorly formatted list poem. There were whole paragraphs without a distinct verb. You can get away with a sentence fragment here or there if they’re tossed in as seasoning, but they aren’t the foundation for a narrative.
Guaranteed - Black Griffon
The biggest strength of this story is that it’s interesting. I’m generally not a big fan of non-linear time-hop scenes, but you pulled it off with good writing and logical storytelling progression, giving little pieces of the story to clue me in as to why the story ended like it did. Had that writing been less strong I think I’d have been left flat by the “justice” line at the end, but as it is, it works out.
This was def. a case of a story that left me wanting a little more. Given the word count, that’s a tough ask, but this is a 1200 word story that feels like it really is big enough to fill 1800 or 2400.
I think the weakest scene is the boardroom/retirement bit. If those words could have been reallocated to other scenes to make it more clear what a “math man” actually does, then I’d have been a little happier. As it is, I’m not sure if he’s a superhero/villain as much as he’s just a shady accountant and a good liar.
Trapped Forever - Anomalous Amalgam
In a week about super heroes, you wrote something entertaining, and that’s good. The opening of the story took sort of a “golden age” comic aesthetic that simulated flipping pages in a comic book as if it was doing a “when we last left our heroes…” sort of thing. But what made it work is that you managed to do it in prose without it feeling hokey.
After that you went fever-dream on us. And while, like an acid trip, it can be very entertaining, it also made little sense after it was over. I get that planes outside reality are frequently weird and surreal, but around the time the protagonist enters his anti-astral projection, there’s a hard break from the rest of the story. It’s like if that comic book I was flipping through just stopped the story and started showing panels that were made up of close ups of Guernica instead.
Having Erred, All Else is Vain - Armack
The twist of Jethro being a self-reformed villain was a nice touch. I didn’t see that coming, and in a genre that relies on the unexpected, it was a welcome surprise.
The story just never really gelled for me. It was always a little too “on the rails,” and Jethro was sort of forced into all his decisions. The taking of his prosthetics at the end was a little too deus ex machina.
Man of the Javelin - sebmojo
Thanks for taking that Hell Rule and running with it. I was curious to see how you’d go with it, and it was entertaining and unexpected. I think keeping this one short and sweet was a good idea, mostly.
The first paragraph doesn’t quite give me what I need to slip into the story. Some bricks are falling on him - but why? Is he building a brick wall and it collapsed on him? Is he in a forgotten tomb, and the masonry has just decayed to the point of falling? By the end of the story, it’s pretty obvious it’s a fight, but that didn’t click right away, and it made the next couple of paragraphs feel out of place until it clicked that “oh, this is probably a fight.” It took me a second read for the first 1/4 of the story to really fall into place.
Flutter - Flesnolk
This is crazy, but it’s my sort of crazy. You straddled the line between confusion and meaning, and always managed to pull it back to meaning even if it was scant. The overall effect was that it stayed coherent as a story instead of just meandering off into being weird.
Not one comma to be seen. This might have been an aesthetic choice, but chaining these sentences together without commas can get taxing on a reader. Yours was the shortest entry, but some of those sentence felt really long - and you’re rolling the dice with engagement.
Those sentence fragments. Granted, the ones you were using were mostly commands, and consisted of verbs with implied subjects — but when you’re doing that at the beginning of every paragraph, the gimmick gets old fast.
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 11:50|
Gonna write these crits as I go with on-the-spot reactions and then a little button at the end.
If you want more, come find me on irc/discord. Happy to chat.
Rat-born cock’s In the Hall of the Mountain King
Couple quick points of correction…
Why are you being cute with your wordcount? It’s a number, give it to us. Yeah it differs slightly depending on where you wrote it, whatever, just say what it is. After quickly checking it in google docs, you’re actually 17 words over, which on its own isn’t so bad but as you were obscuring it, if I were the head judge I’d consider DQ’ing you. Also, don’t introduce your story with anything. Look around, no one else is doing it. Don’t do it.
OK, let’s start the show.
Yeeeep that’s a tough couple of sentences. Swap out that first , for : and it gets a touch better, but that’s not addressing the core problem. You’re going for a catchy/snappy hook, I see that. But as I my eyes are drifting downward and I’m seeing an itemized list of abilities, I’m dreading that this isn’t gonna feel like much of a story. You got some protag who is clearly taken with themselves, and I’m not engaged.
This list is also not doing a drat thing for me. It’s all over the place and I don’t know what it’s supposed to accomplish apart from clumsily dumping a bunch of details about your character out early, without doing much to give us a sense of who they are.
So you end this whole walking through walls thing by claimining it’s uninteresting… so where the gently caress do you go from here? You either wasted time telling us about something you don’t care about and move on, or you talk about the thing you don’t care about for the rest of the story?
Oh hey, you figured out the colon thing. Yeah, you shoulda done that the first time too.
What in the world is with these italics? Knock it off; let your writing do the work.
You’ve also just got some basic proofing problems strewn about this which makes me think you didn’t handle this as carefully as you should. Repeated words and such.
Also: “So anyway whatever,” What. Like stuff like this… read your poo poo out loud yo. It’ll clear things up mighty quick.
The constant parentheticals are also getting tired. I want you to just tell the drat story and show me who this character is by their actions. I’m finally at the story proper, hundreds of words in, which is its own problem, and I’ll I’m getting so far is a character who thinks they’re cute.
Alright you’re my first story this week and I can’t get this in-depth with everyone, so I’m just gonna finish reading this or I’ll burn out. See you at the button.
No, I can’t help myself.
The loving first description we get of an interiror environment is that it’s “boring.” What are you doing? Why are you doing this?
Ugh, the worst part is… I kinda like the ending.
This was a mess. You’re doing far too much monkeying around. The italics, the parentheticals, the list in the beginning. All that is a distraction, but perhaps a good one because your piece still has a lot of problems besides that. You take a long time for your story to actually begin and once you do the action is stale to read and there is essentially no sense of place.
This needed some work.
Simply Simon’s A Poisone Gift
I don’t care about this list. You start with a fine enough sentence and then I get that you want to show and not tell, but I somehow worry that none of these expository details are gonna matter much.
Oh man, now in the second paragraph you’re up to listing again.
Alright, so he’s got powers, and a baby to give them to. I’m kinda interested to see where this goes, so that’s something.
And hey, liking the direction now. The kid being a rock star is funny.
Once the action gets going at the concert, this switches from a chore to read to quite easy. I’m digging the action.
Happy to see the hero’s hubris get checked, though a bit curious as to how the effective shot happened. Hoping to see some payoff.
Eeeeeehhhhh, didn’t quite stick the landing.
I didn’t care for the opening, nor the ending really, but the middle bit was a spritely read and you handled it well. We don’t really see enough to justify the son’s attitude and why he hates his father so. You needed to spend more time on the dynamic of that relationship. Perhaps, in favor of your hero listing off all of his amazing accomplishments show us how much his relationship with his son suffered due to his absence, y’know? Anyway, this wasn’t particularly bad and I did enjoy reading most of it, which puts it a notch above an average td story.
asap-salafi’s No Need For Heroes
The first sentence of your story has nothing to do with the rest of your opening paragraph. What is happening tonight? You’ve also got passive voice problems, and you don’t want things like that dampening your prose, especially this early on.
“The superhero was in love with her.” < “He loved her.”
“Life had been good before the D’jaal had come.” < “The D’jaal ruined everything.”
Shorter and punchier, dig?
Second paragarph starts and your protag is sitting somewhere, but we don’t know where and everything is confusing.
Third paragraph has pronoun confusion. It reads liek the one-eyed D’jaal is holding Emily, since that was the last thing mentioned. I know you correct it with the next clause but it’s making for a clunky reading experience. Still a whole bunch of boring, tepid, passive phrasing bogging down the read here.
“a world of mental destruction, full of PTSD and nightmares.” My head is so heavy in my palm.
“There wasn’t a single superhero who lived unaffected by the traumatic events that had unfolded all those years ago.” You’ve already said this, so if you’re gonna say it again, you better make it sound a lot better than this.
“Kissing Emily made Captain Spectacular feel things that he had not felt in a very long time” flatflatflatflat telling and not showing.
“She kissed him back and then got on top. After they finished” Fuckin lol what?
And now he’s pushing her freckles like buttons. Is this a god-drat troll story?
“Emily laughed with delight, and then she gave herself to him again.
After they finished” OH COME ON WHAT EVEN IS THIS
OK, I’m just gonna read this quickly now. I’ll see you at the button.
What in the gently caress did I just read? You’ve got a lot of problems here. Technically, it’s a mess and is boring to read, and as far as the story proper goes? IT’s just a dude cheating on someone who we don’t learn about or care about until she’s already behaving like an out of control murderous lunatic.
Carl Killer Miller’s The Horrible Truth of The Eternal
Like the angle. Hoping you use the reporter thing to good effect.
Not sure why you’re burying your quotes in the text as opposed to spacing them properly. I guess you may be trying to give this a newpapery feel, but you’ve already shot that by how you framed this in the opening graph.
Hm, although it kinda feels like a waste of time to just have this spire fella go on and on about everyone like you do, you handle the writing of it well and it’s fun to read.
OK, read the rest fairl quickly. Don’t take my lack of on-the-fly comments as a problem. This was mostly fine.
I mean, not much of a story, right? Barely anything happens, which is fine if the bulk of the writing is compelling and… it kinda is? In parts? The Eternal himself isn’t a terribly novel character. He’s an insecure pompous blowhard. I found myself far more interested in almost all of the other heroes who speak about him in the beginning.
But, not bad, not particularly great. Good to see you back, and hope you stick around.
SlipUp’s There is Only the Light.
“Said Elaine to him” is not a very good way to do the thing you’re trying to do.
Is this story just gonna be two people yelling at each other about a breakup? Is that really what this is gonna be?
Yup, sure seems like it.
Oh what the christ was this? Like Elaine is clearly angry and upset but is still saying some valid poo poo and Light just ‘uh-huh’s his way through and nothing happens. This isn’t anything.
Thranguy’s The Grinning Robot Job
Good snappy opening paragraph that tells us what kind of story this may be and sets an awful lot up, very economically.
Solid opening beat. Looking forward to the inevitable fiasco.
The cutaway in the second beat is a nice choice. I want to know what happens back at the job, but I’m still happy learning a bit more about the planning of it.
Hell yeah, the fight sequence is boss.
Meh, a bit of cop out/rushed ending though.
Button Ok, so this was pretty good. It was a fun read and I like that you barely evem glance at a MacGuffin. The blocking of the fight was clear and easy to parse, and the crew, although not deeply defined and rounded out, felt real and gritty. I liked this.
terre packet’s Protection
OK, so we’re starting on day 3. I guess that’s a choice.
I like Marisela’s attitude. Clear enough and not baggy to get there.
I see what you’re going for with this: “Tools, in the garage. Garage door, closed. Side door, through, and locked. Down the stairs” But it’s not reading like you want it to. Needs some tinkering.
Also what is this day 3 of?
So confused about what happened in the vault.
Another entry, another dousing of unnecessary italics. Let your words do the work.
"These God. drat. Roots."
You’re just getting far too cheeky with your syntax. Don’t break the rules until you master how to play by them correctly.
Alright, and now we’re very quickly off-the-rails and this story is descending into chaos.
This is unclear, tough to read, and I don’t really care for your characters or the problem they find themselves in. This needs work.
Black Griffon’s untitled
Good opening, though not terribly fresh. You get things going at least.
Alright, up to four years and I don’t know who these people are, why I should care about them, or really much of what’s going on how the problem started.
The chronology jumping is OK, I see what you’re going for and it’s mostly working. I’m also mostly just happy to read a parsable story that is indeed making more sense as it goes along, so thanks for that.
Yeah, OK, read the rest fairly quickly.
Yeah, OK. Nothing major to write home about but you handled this pretty well. The time shifting element furthers the understanding of the character’s motivations and you use it to pretty decent effect.
Anomalous Amalgam’s Trapper Forever
Man, y’all really can’t come up with good hero names, can you? Not a major jab against you, AA, but I haven’t been impressed this week.
“The honorable captain left in a dishonorable heap with all the life he once held in a red pool that was soaking into the concrete beneath his body” so drat baggy.
This list of people killed by nefarious is just tedious and unnecessary. Get to the drat story.
Alright, I dig the fall from grace type of thing and I like that this one time hero now has a lovely job.
You’re also handling the prose of the power pretty well. I can tell pretty clearly what is happening even though it’s quite out there…
But then the rest of this just continues down into trippy lane and it never seems to find its purpose.
Button You handle the magical quality of what your hero is doing pretty well but it’s not very well motivated. Hard to tell exactly what the goal is and what is or isn’t being accomplished.
Armack’s Having Erred, All Else is Vain
I like this style of hook but it’s cumbersome to read and not easy enough to parse. It doesn’t hit like it oughta. I’d consider being more direct and saying, flat out, what actually happened instead of keeping it mysterious.
Aw, OK, I like Jethro being all cute with Linus. This may be the first character this week I give a poo poo about. Don’t gently caress this up!
You ain’t gonna see much on-the-go stuff here. I’m digging this and reading it quickly.
Hmmm except for this beat where he jumps off the bridge. I get that he’s worried about his plants failing but I don’t know if we needed that beat at all.
“When he woke up, his life was over.” Actually startled me a little bit. Again, well done, I care about this dude.
Didn’t see the turn coming. Felt like there wasn’t enough breadcrumbing to give me a chance. It would hit harder if you foreshadowed it a bit more and managed to not tip it.
And hey, an actual nice bit in the ending. OK, this was a goodie.
Button Probably my favorite so far. I cared about Jethro and Linus. You have a knack for making likable characters out of some deeply flawed individuals and that shines through here. Well done.
I see my fellow judges aren’t as taken by this as I am, but know you had my vote for the win, goon sir.
sebmojo’s Man of the Javelin
This is a heavy read, which I’m kind of on board with, but a bit of the ways in and I’m not quite sure what’s happening.
OK, so this is pretty but too drat dense for my eyes. Hopefully the other judges this week are smarter and have better reading comprehension than I, cos I ain’t making heads or tails of this.
Just too much telling I guess. Feels kinda expository and uninteresting.
Your opening hook is grabby and cool even though it’s a list which I’ve been bitching about this week. This one is better than most.
You kinda lose me with the first sentence of the second graph though. OK, now you’re torching your goodwill by going on listing bird-behaviors in the second graph. It was cool, but I want you to tell your story now.
And it keeps going with that throughout the piece but with it, comes a fair representation of a demanding, heavy, inner voice. I’m kinda grooving on this, at least in parts.
For how doom and gloom, and massive the terror is in this story it feels personal and in a poignant manner.
This works well for the most part. It doesn’t overstay it’s welcome and it definitely would were it much longer. Keeping it short like this allows for it to be a painful and semi-difficult read. Well done.
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 12:31|
Knock knock can I come in?
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 12:54|
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 13:05|
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 13:28|
in hellrule please
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 14:25|
in hellrule please
Please report to Camping Supplies
Flash: So much ranch dressing, the horror, the horror
Welcome to the labor relations and enhanced interrogation division
Report to the pharmacy
Knock knock can I come in?
Good news! You've been appointed as Fire and emergency marshall
Welcome to the world of loss prevention
Dear sir/madam/extra dimensional being that transcends gender,
With an attitude like that, you should be a shift supervisor
Report to Camping Supplies
The form says you're in guns, ammo, and liquor
There's a fresh uniform for you waiting in plants and garden supplies
Great, we really needed fresh headcount in tech support and robot wrangling
in we're going shopping bitches
slam this IN into my veins holy blood god yes
Welcome to baby supply
Oh hell yes in
You're a secret shopper, don't tell anyone.
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 15:21|
|# ? Oct 22, 2021 06:34|
|# ? Oct 22, 2019 15:56|