brawl against Saucy_Rodent
Every summer since the age of seven, Mary and Lizzy would escape from the boredom of their hometown for two weeks at Green Mountain summer camp. Green Mountain existed in a place out of time for them. The four hour drive from their hometown had become a yearly ritual of cleansing themselves of worldly worry; they’d eagerly chatter about the games they wanted to play and the hidden places they had to revisit. Most of all, they’d muse on the possibility of winning the coveted title of King of the Mountain, awarded to whichever team of campers amassed the most points in the various competitions of running, swimming, shooting, and a dozen other traditional camp pastimes.
This year, however, the ritual was unobserved. Three new faces crowded into the backseat of Mary’s parents’ car. Power couple Cedric and Tina along with aspiring quarterback Mark, all of them the cream of the middle school social hierarchy, had befriended Mary over the course of the year and she’d eagerly invited them along. They exuded the effortless cool of youths to whom puberty had been kind. Caught up in the heady thrill of being in the orbit of the cool kids, she’d neglected to ask her longtime companion her opinion before inviting them. Now the four of them gabbed away while Lizzy looked out the window in silence.
“So are the camp counselors cool? Will they care if we sneak out of the cabins at night?” Mark asked.
“Yeah just stay away from Susan and you’ll be fine”, Mary responded with the easy air of an expert.
“I heard there’s an old abandoned log cabin where some guy killed his whole family and then himself”, Tina said breathlessly.
“That’s a myth. It’s just an old house,” Mary answered.
“Well maybe the four of us should...check it out”, Cedric said, lasciviously eyeing Tina. Mark looked eagerly at Mary, who blushed at the attention and averted her eyes. In so doing she caught Lizzy’s gaze. Her old friend looked at her pitifully.
“Can...Lizzy come too?” Mary asked apprehensively.
The three cool kids looked at each other, then at her. “We’ll see”, Cedric said. None of them even looked at Lizzy, who stared back out at the window. Mary raised no further objection.
The icy car-ride set the tone for the rest of their stay. When they found a small lizard in their cabin on the first night, Lizzy made the mistake of revealing she’d always loved the little lizards and had even taken one home as a pet one year. Once she mentioned this they all started calling her Lizard, which they all thought was terribly clever.
At breakfast the next day, the tension escalated. Mary watched anxiously as Lizzy’s eyes darted around the mess hall, searching out her friend. Lizzy eagerly trotted over once she saw Mary, only to stop dead in her tracks once she saw her erstwhile friend surrounded by the three usurpers. Hesitantly, she approached.
“Hey, can I sit with y’all?” she asked. Mary winced at the uncool twang she put on the last word. The three looked up at her coldly. Mary looked down at her plate.
“Sorry Lizard, there’s no more room,” Mark said. The three spread themselves out to absorb the remaining room on the benches.
Lizzy looked at them in turn, and then at Mary, who gazed up at her old friend pleadingly but said nothing. Her bottom lip quivered. “Fine” she barked, marching away toward Kerry, José, and Luna, old camp-friends who welcomed her with open arms.
The three snickered as they watched Lizzy leave. Mary sat in silence, cursing her own cowardice.
At the end of breakfast, the lead counselor clapped her hands loudly to signal for quiet and explained the familiar rules of the King of the Mountain competition. At the conclusion of the speech, the campers darted around in search of friends they could group up with. The Three remained seated, cool and aloof as ever.
“Hey, can Lizzy be on our team?” Mary asked hesitantly.
“Nah, we don’t need her,” Cedric said dismissively.
“We’re allowed five if there’s an odd number. C’mon, she’s cool,” Mary urged.
“Look if you wanna ditch us go ahead,” Tina said.
Mary remained seated.
Over the rest of the week the competition raged. Mark and Cedric’s athleticism carried Mary and the Three to victory in the foot race, but Lizzy’s dogged determination and Tina’s fear of heights ensured Lizzy’s team won the ropes course. Back and forth, the two teams vied for dominance. Mary endured shouts of derision from Mark and Cedric when her slowness lost them the relay swim to The Losers, as they’d dubbed Lizzy and her new friends.
“I didn’t realize Jose was so fast”, Mark muttered after barely losing the obstacle course. “Maybe he’s propelled by farts from all the beans he’s eating. Dirty beaner.” The three cackled. Mary laughed hollowly along with them at this and every other mean-spirited joke, which seemed to be the only kind they made. How could such beautiful people be so cruel?
On the final day, the Losers and Mary’s team sat side by side in canoes, staring each other down, finalists in the race for the crown. Decked out in all their most colorful attire, the other campers lined the sides of the river screaming encouragement.
Mary looked over at Lizzy while the Three jostled for position. Lizzy didn’t return her gaze, instead huddling with her team. They gave a cheer and broke huddle as the lead counselor shouted through a megaphone to take their marks. Still, Cedric and Mark pushed at each other to Tina’s general disgust. Mary gripped her oar tightly.
“King of the Mountain, here I come”, she chanted to herself.
“GO!!!” boomed the counselor.
Mary rowed as fast as she could while Cedric, Mark, and Tina slashed inexpertly at the water. She could see the muscles standing out on the boys’ arms and hoped they were strong enough to overcome their ineptitude.
“Stay in sync! Stroke, stroke, stroke” Mary called rhythmically, trying to get them in a groove.
“Quit shoving!” barked Mark.
“I’m not shoving, you’re shoving!” shouted back Cedric. Neither heeded her call.
Still, she could feel them picking up speed. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she saw the Losers pulling ahead. Though they all seemed too fat or too thin for any athletic challenge, their perfect rhythm let them glide effortlessly through the water.
“We’re losing! Hurry up!” Mary shouted, voice hoarse. They were a full three-quarters of the way to the finish line.
“Quit splashing me, rear end in a top hat!” Tina spit. She pushed Cedric, who toppled forward onto Mark. Their canoe slowed to a crawl as Mary rowed for her life.
Her eyes watered as the Losers’ canoe neared the finish line. Her best chance at winning King of the Mountain was slipping away. Strangely though, no tears fell as the megaphone announced the Losers had won. Defeat didn’t taste as bitter as it had in years past. Lizzy was happier than she’d been all week. Seeing her celebrate her deserving victory with faithful friends filled Mary with a warmth that smothered the pain of losing. When Mary joined in the applause, Lizzy beamed at her.
Mark slapped the water in frustration and started, “Ugh, I can’t believe we lost to those-”
Mary cut him off by tipping the canoe sideways and sending them all into the river.
|# ? Feb 24, 2020 22:49|
|# ? Sep 25, 2022 17:18|
Week 394: The Questions of Interpersonal Closeness Judgment
Thank you all for participating this week.
None of the judges thought any of the entries were especially strong. The lows of this week were very low and the highs were few and far between. Many entries were limited by bad endings, bad characterization, and bad cliches. I would generally remind folks that relationships can exist without the other party tragically dead or dying and that "supportive of the protagonist and all their choices" isn't a personality trait.
With that griping out of the way, here are the results:
Loss: The Paths of Two Brothers by Communist Bear
Dishonorable Mentions: And my World Tumblrs Down by Doctor Eckhart; Hidden Moon by Kurona_bright; The Sweater Curse by Pththya-lyi
Honorable Mention: The Clarity by Sitting Here
Win: A Song in the Deep by Yoruichi
|# ? Feb 25, 2020 12:34|
And my World Tumblrs Down — Doctor Eckhart
Jesus, this title.
Your story is about something that will be familiar to anyone that has spent anytime in any online community. It is about the rush of endorphins you get when you see a notification, when you see someone has noticed you. It is about the cool comfort of scrolling through page after page.
These portrayals of internet life are well-done. Your DMs read largely as something I would see myself on Tumblr or Discord. While some people might have some issues with your character’s overall lack of agency (we only see him in front of a computer), the piece does an adequate job making a remote interaction seem meaningful and de-emphasizing life irl.
Unfortunately, other aspects of your story are handled less than well. There are some basic structural issues that interfere with reader comprehension. The opening with the sister breaks suddenly into the narration about inigojones. The lack of any attribution near quotes makes it hard for the reader to figure out who is saying what, especially when characters start typing. Your prose is also a bit awkward and verbose in parts. “We progressed to conversations of escalating frequency” is a hella complicated way to say “We talked more and more.” Try to edit in the future with an eye toward brevity and cadence. Try also to avoid trite cliches like “under the sun.”
These issues aren’t my biggest complaints, though. Two things about this story run me the wrong way. First, there is some serious inefficiency in your storytelling. At several points, you set a scene and then, immediately after the scene is over, you explain what the scene was about. This makes for a frustrating read, as the reader is effectively being told twice what was important. Second, you never make your protagonist’s relationship with inigojones feel connected to his unemployment. You do not show inigojones filling some basic need that keeps him from finding a job, whether that be anxiety or something else. Instead, your protagonist’s actions come off as an especially unrealistic depiction of laziness. He doesn’t call because he doesn’t want to. The sudden change at the end of the piece is too sudden to make sense.
Is this about a relationship? Yes, between two ppl who don’t know each other irl
Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it? The employment stuff seems like a red herring because the protagonist seems to have no actual interest in a job. I think the answer to this question is “tell inigojones I love him” and the reason your protagonist hasn’t is that he knows inigojones isn’t interested? Maybe?
The Paths of Two Brothers — Communist Bear
Here’s a question: How long does it take for you to mention the name of the central person mentioned in the first sentence of the first paragraph? I checked after reading your story for the fourth time and the answer is apparently 500 words.
This fact points to a core problem with this piece. Though you periodically drop hes, shes, hims, and hers, it is almost impossible for the reader to tell which of these pronouns refer to which character. I spent the first half of your story thinking that George was the narrator, the thirty-year-old professor (you describe the wife as “George’s wife”), and the person who was set off by the tiniest mistakes. I also thought that the psychologist’s father was at the dinner table.
This good news is that this problem can be alleviated with some basic blocking, exposition, and by attributing actions to specific characters. As it stands, the reader has almost no clues as to where your scenes take place. I can intuit from the second paragraph and some of the dialogue that the characters are at a restaurant but not who is actually at the table. I originally thought George the Psychologist was your protagonist because there are multiple “hes” but no indication which of these is having thoughts. (Though, as I write this, I now realize that the bizarre paragraph beginning with “Unbidden, the cold gloomy room…” might have been some internal narration. Again, though, you are maddeningly unclear about whether George is thinking this.)
Narratively, there isn’t much to talk about here. The story is a bog standard story about two brothers who go down different paths with some hamfisted dialogue explaining why (I think. No idea whether the father or Arthur is the one with tuberculosis because. YOU. DON’T. CLARIFY). There’s a sudden bit of time compression as you realize you are approaching the word limit and have yet to address the prompt. I wish I could say I found something to like here but it’s a bit rote and I’m not sure how it answers your question.
Is this about a relationship? Yes, between… two brothers? I think?
If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet? ???????????
(Judging Post-Script: One of my co-judges has informed me that the likely intention of the ending is that George will have a heart attack before he gets to call his brother, which I guess addresses the prompt?)
On the Lake — derp
At long last, some competent descriptions. I really like the way you write this piece. You have a strong sense of both what makes a good sentence and what constitutes strong imagery. Your second paragraph especially captures these two points, achieving a poem-like cadence in parts while giving the reader a clear image of how powerful this memory is in Sash’s mind. Though nothing else reaches the heights here, you do a good job throughout of capturing how much your protagonist has come to idolize her father and what her life looks like without belaboring the point.
I also want to commend you for your use of false memory here. It’s a clever way of addressing the prompt and an element that instantly sets this piece apart. We all have imperfect memories, stories we wish to remember one way.
I do have two criticisms for this piece. First, I think the dynamics with the mother could have been handled better. While most of their interactions are adequate, your portrayal does hew a little too closely to common tropes about second-favorite parents. Mother is only a character insofar as she is not dad and she lacks defining characteristics except general bitterness. Further, Sash’s reaction to her mother is a bit over-dramatic. I could just be emotionally constipated, but running off to hide in a car in response to a mild disagreement about an early childhood memory seems like something bordering on absurd.
Second is that the revelation about the memory ultimately doesn’t provide much value to the story without having a better depiction of Val or Sash’s conception of her. Because the reader has no baseline for Val (she is literally only mentioned in passing as a victim of the car accident until the final lines), the reveal changes nothing about how the reader sees Sash or either victim of the car crash when their only character traits are supporting the protagonist.
Is this about a relationship? Yes, between a daughter and her father, sister, and mother.
What is your most treasured memory? Skating with dad (when it really is your forgotten sister).
14560 Shannon Parkway, Rosemount, MN 55068 — Saucy_Rodent
This is quite a lovely little vignette, Rodent. While the second person tends to be a bit of a third rail for Domers, you use it deftly here to put the reader in the position of the narrator. I like how imminent things are. I like the flow of the narration (your opening line just rolls off the tongue). I like how you fuse low-culture imagery, bringing in both The Simpsons and poetic turns-of-phrase. I have qualms with a handful of descriptions but overall your prose is really well done.
My criticism for this piece is that I don’t think you quite make the leap from the description of the fire to the description of your narrator’s brother. The introduction of the ashes comes across to me as schmaltzy. There’s not enough insight into your character’s prior mental state to really sell the element and the directness with which you describe it (“your mother made you keep because she couldn’t bear the thought of scattering his body”) seems clumsy. The detail you go into about the accident itself seems overmuch when many of these aspects could have been left to the reader’s imagination.
Is this about a relationship? Yes, with the narrator’s dead brother.
Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why? The ashes of your brother, the one who died in a terrible drunk driving accident.
Rehearsal — Haven
The prose here isn’t especially ostentatious or dramatic, but it gets its work done. I understand Beth’s concerns and the environment she came from. I sympathize with her situation, being aware that your childhood was awful but wanting to believe that the person responsible for your misery has changed. I appreciate the narrator clearly has a life outside of the awful situation she came from. Beth is not wholly defined by her childhood.
What I dislike about this piece is how directly it is told. Most of the conflict and background is told in the form of a long piece of exposition. The reader finds out about the meaning of the text through the narration as they do her childhood, Beth’s therapy, and the situation with her brother. Any one of these moments could have been delved into, either in the form of a flashback or the characters actions, but instead they remain “off camera.” This approach is fine and makes for an easily comprehensible story but it also keeps the reader at a distance. We can’t feel as Beth feels in the moment and we can’t really feel the menace of the father or the pain she felt for her brother.
The ending works and is a solid empowering moment, but it would have hit far heavier if we understood how hard it was for Beth to say no.
Is this about a relationship? Yes, with the narrator’s lovely, abusive father.
Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why? Yes, because you still remember the abuse the caller subjected you to.
A Song in the Deep — Yoruichi
Oh, hey, a neat little fish story. I love stories about non-human characters.
You do a good job of setting up the stakes here. The anglerfish is starving to death. His chance encounter with the other anglerfish creates an immediate dilemma, whether to mate with the creature “over-heavy with eggs” or to devour her. Both are biological imperatives and it is a logical decision when the narrating anglerfish decides to go for the latter followed by the former. (God, I hope I’m not completely botching my anglerfish biology.) I like how you never allow the reader to lose sight of what these creatures are (with the exception of the line about how it was “all his fault,” which seems like an odd humanization).
For all these qualities, the story feels like it is missing something. It might be that the prose is good but never quite sparkling. It might be that the reader never has the chance to dwell upon the extent of the anglerfish’s hunger or loneliness because of how short the piece is. It might be that the nature of your story (it being between two non-human characters) naturally restricts the kind of emotion you can portray and demonstrate.
Whatever it is, it prevents me from loving this story. The story is good but it isn’t great. The fact that your narrative remains coherent throughout and that you took an interesting approach to the prompt is what finally put you over the edge for the win.
Is this about a relationship? Yes, between two fish.
When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else? You sang to yourself to distract from the hunger and you sang again to appease the female anglerfish.
Walk Your Own Path — a friendly penguin
This is an interesting little piece. We have grandma trying to venture into Narnia long after she has long passed the place’s usual expiration date. We have her daughter complicating the picture by accidentally joining her on the journey. Several of your descriptions of Fairyland are well-handled (I like “the calls and movements of creatures, the light and airy sighs of something that wanted to speak”). Marjorie sacrificing her opportunities for adventure to care for her family is a good explanation for why she hasn’t gone through the door earlier, though I wish you dwelled on it more.
Unfortunately, I begin having issues once we get to your characters. While I like their dynamic in theory, the application leaves a bit to be desired for me. Connie reads as either significantly younger than 15 or a caricature, underreacting massively to the revelation that “magic is real” while focusing too much on her cell phone. Marjorie is also a bit of a mystery to me. While I get her core motivation (staying in Fairyland), I’m a little more confused by what exactly she wants from her granddaughter once she is in Fairyland. As you’ve written it, Marjorie seems to vacillate between wanting Connie to stay and wanting Connie to go but I’m not sure if this is intentional characterization on your part. Taking the time to delve into Marjorie’s thoughts on something other than her own journey and allowing her experience something other than general frustration would have been good.
While it would have been difficult to fit it in under the word count, this piece might also have benefited from providing the reader with context as to Marjorie’s past journeys and how she ended up here. You don’t need to provide flashbacks, but some additional detail in the narration could have been useful. You could also have provided some further detail about Marjorie’s family so that the reader can feel the full weight of her past sacrifices and understand why she couldn’t uproot herself.
As a final note, I would pay a bit more attention to some of your blocking. I had trouble visualizing how exactly Connie wound up “tangled up in [Marjorie’s] feet.”
Is this about a relationship? Yes, between a woman and her granddaughter
Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it? You haven’t traveled to Fairyland because you had to care for the other members of your family.
Gotta Have You — Chili
There’s a lot I like about this story, Chili. I like the Alice Isn’t Dead-style concept of two identical meeting one another at a Denny’s. I like the dialogue, the way you have both characters circling around one another, aware how much they echo. I like the humor you interject throughout. I chucked at the line about YouTube and the weird way your characters show off to one another. You never really explain what is happening or why, which some might take issue with, but I don’t mind that ambiguity. It adds an element of mystery and allows you to keep the focus on this short little vignette instead of whatever is happening outside the confines of the scene. Your prose, as always, is clean and crisp.
If I had a criticism, it would be that your story seems to lose momentum around when the characters get their burgers. After keeping my attention with the mimicry in the past 900 words or so, it seems like both you and the characters run out of things to say. Your protagonists idle in the scene, mustering up a small joke about their aunt but unable to do anything that advances the action. I’m not entirely sure what would work here (a small revelation, a moment of action spurred by the other patrons, or a depiction of subsequent meetings) but I feel like you could have ended stronger.
You spend so much time on the set-up but ultimately don’t give your characters anything to do and this undermines its overall quality.
Is this about a relationship? Between two doppelgangers.
Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? Yourself.
Pththya-lyi — The Sweater Curse
This is a relatively simple piece. The prose isn’t exceptional but it is competent. I understand everything that happens and it seems like you put in extra effort to underscore how much your characters care for one another. Very few people chose to write about a romantic relationship this week and I admire your ambition in trying to portray one.
Unfortunately, the soap opera-esque quality of this piece really rubs me the wrong way. There’s the sweater, which the protagonist of course hates until it gains sentimental value through his girlfriend’s disease. There’s the disease itself, which comes on suddenly but persists just long enough for Raquel to finish. Even the eventual reveal is a bit too cloying for my tastes. I personally do not know whether it is possible to knit in binary code or to just decode it off the cuff, but the way the characters are “dash[ing] to her side” and talking about “how your eyes light up” strikes me as very cliche.
More than any of this, though, I have some issues with the way you portray Raquel. As far as I can tell, she has no personality and no drives outside her relationship. Everything she does is in reference to the protagonist. Her death is portrayed less a tragedy in its own sake than in how it causes anguish for the male hero, who does nothing except make mac ‘n cheese.
If you are going to write about a relationship in the future, I would give some thought to how characters can have lives outside of one another. I would think about what your characters are motivated by.
Is this about a relationship? Yes, between two people dating.
Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why? The sweater your perfect, terminally ill girlfriend made you.
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow — Applewhite
I’ll be candid and say I did not expect much from this piece when I started reading. Your descriptions, while comprehensible, get a little repetitive the third time you describe Mark’s hair receding. Most of the action is devoted to some bog-standard anxiety and some banal office politics, intersped with weird descriptions like “He could feel the baldness plucking away at his interpersonal relationships, follicle by follicle.” This doesn’t sound like a thought any sane person would have. Read your story aloud to yourself to see if this and other descriptions sound natural.
What saves your piece is the deranged half-turn it makes in its final act. When Mark made the logical leap from Kenneth overtaking him in the office hierarchy to Kenneth literally taking his hair, I was almost giddy. The images you conjure of a disgruntled office worker stalking his hair-magician colleague are genuinely delightful. It’s a major disappointment when you equivocate on this in the end, allowing the reader to choose whether Kenneth was just a candle-obsessed weirdo or doing some kind of actual magic to steal Mark’s hair. It’s even more disappointing when you resolve the conflict in a few lines by… having Mark punch Kenneth into a candle.
If I were to rewrite this story, I would do a few things. First, I would dramatically shorten the set-up to encompass no more than the first third of the piece. In your current version, you dwell far too long on Mark’s anxieties for it to be interesting. I would then make Mark’s beliefs about Kenneth the centerpiece, as it is the most interesting part of the story. Expand on his bizarre stalking and the eventual confrontation. That leaves your finale for you to descend fully into madness, which could make for quite the interesting ending indeed.
Is this about a relationship? Yes, between two co-workers.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? Actually not entirely clear what this quality is. I guess the answer might be “to steal my colleague’s hair” but the reader never gets confirmation that Kenneth is stealing hair.
The Clarity — Sitting Here
Goodness, there’s some stupendous ideas in here. I adore the opening you have here, with its contrast between the spectacular (“individual golden dust moats”) and the depressingly mundane (“the till of a gas station food mart”). It would be easy to veer into poeticisms to describe what Claudia’s vision is like but you manage to capture something sufficiently weird and sufficiently memorable with your descriptions of “unravelling galaxies” and its “taffy, oozing forward.” Even as you depict these strange visions, you don’t lose sight of the dude beneath it all and his refusal to take a loving hint.
So kudos there.
The weakness here is in the last third. I could be dense but, after several hundred words of straight-forward prose, I genuinely am not sure what is happening when Claudia “yank[s] hard at the golden tendril.” Is she actually grabbing at the man? Is she somehow interacting with the astral plane in some way? Did she help the dude or did she damage him in some real way? I don’t know and the lack of clarity is a frustrating note to end on. Add onto that with how little Claudia’s situation changes and this story starts to sour on me.
The ending is rushed and doesn’t do a good job of wrapping up all that came before. I spent some time going back and forth over whether to give you or Yoruichi the win and ultimately went with Yoruichi because none of us could figure out what was going on with your perfunctory ending.
Is this about a relationship? Yes, between a cashier and the customer who won’t leave her alone.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be? The ability to see… I don’t know… the astral plane? The ability to make annoyingly persistent dudes leave?
Hidden Moon — Kurona_bright
Oh Kurona, I really want to like this story. I can see that you have some interesting ideas rattling around in the background and I understand the general dynamic between your two main characters. However, as is often the case, this story could really have used some narration to provide some clarity as to what is happening.
For most of this story’s word count, I feel like I am listening to a television in the other room. I do not understand where these characters are or what they are doing. I am mentally incapable of conjuring a scene in my head more detailed than “coffee shop” and “alley.” I have a sense that there is some Hannah Montana-style shenanigans going on but I don’t know why. You mention “Anne” at one point but never mention her again so I’m not sure who she is or why she is important. I genuinely do not know if you addressed the prompt or not.
When you write in the future, I would recommend you take the time to reread with an eye toward your audience. Try to get out of your head and ask yourself what would be comprehensible for a complete stranger. If something is unclear, you need to add more description or context. Otherwise your story is going to be largely incoherent.
Is this about a relationship? Yes, between two old school friends.
Would you like to be famous? In what way? Not really? I think?????
The Heart Wants to Eat Your Face — Chairchucker
Chairchucker, I genuinely admire the energy and confidence you bring to each of your pieces. I know whenever you enter Thunderdome, I won’t have to muddle through a bland story about sad people being sad. This piece is largely in that mold, jumping from lizard people to Selena Gomez to LEGO. I laughed at your line about the Wizards of Waverly Place and how dry the reveal of the lizardman is.
And yet… there’s a lot here that feels a bit forced. I don’t know if this entry was just written very quickly but some of your jumps don’t quite translate to a cohesive reading experience. The bit about LEGO seems especially jammed in (“But how?” she asked. “Lizards can’t stand the creative energy of LEGO!” reads as a bit much to me). You only address the prompt in the broadest, most general sense and the writing becomes increasingly scattered as it approaches the ending.
I don’t think you have any interest in revisiting this story but these are all issues that could be resolved with some editing. I might compress the conversation between the now-revealed lizardman and your protagonist, as it isn’t especially interesting, and focus your last act more on President Selena Gomez. I might also try to rework some of the jokes that don’t entirely hit (the previously mentioned stuff about LEGO).
Is this about a relationship? I guess between a girl and the lizard people?
Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die? Lizard people?
QuoProQuid fucked around with this message at 12:39 on Feb 25, 2020
|# ? Feb 25, 2020 12:36|
Yowza, fast judging and amazing crits. Has td become writing school since I've been gone or what
|# ? Feb 25, 2020 13:42|
|# ? Feb 25, 2020 14:50|
Thunderdome Week 395: What a Load of Nonsense
This week you will write nonsense stories.
Word limit: 900 words.
Sign-ups close at 9pm on Saturday, in NZ.
Deadline is 7pm on Monday, in NZ.
Q: What's a nonsense story?
A: I don't know. You should ask Fumblemouse, whose prompt I am blatantly stealing, or Wikipedia.
Q: But Yoruichi, if you don't even know what a nonsense story is, how will you judge this week?
A: Sounds like you want to volunteer to co-judge, my friend.
Q: Can I have a flash rule?
A: Yes! This week, flash rules will be handed out by your fellow competitors. So, if you enter and request a flash rule, anyone else may give you one. BUT, the flash-rule giver must also enter. I'm not going to make it compulsory that if you give a flash rule you must also take one, but, you know, it would be in the spirit of the week to do so.
Yoruichi, Queen of Hearts
Mad Hatter RandomPauI
Peddlers of piffle poffle
2. Anomalous Amalgam (all of your characters are astronauts and one of them is Hitler)
3. Saucy_Rodent (Your two mainish characters are on very different scales, like maybe one is a microbe inside the other one, but not that specific example but you get the idea)
5. Azza Bamboo
6. Chairchucker (Music is visible as well as audible in your story)
7. Sitting Here (Your story takes place in one of those TV/VCR repair stores, the kind that has seemingly been open for decades but has no apparent customers)
8. Carl Killer Miller (In your world, growing old is punishable by death)
9. Mercedes (Someone's drawing crop circles... on the Moon?!)
10. Obliterati (In your world, all the colours are running)
11. Antivehicular (your story will revolve around a something-ception, a thing inside of the same thing that the first thing is)
12. M. Propagandalf
13. flerp (An actual baby needs to have an appointment of great significance like a president, monarch, religious icon, etc)
Yoruichi fucked around with this message at 07:25 on Feb 29, 2020
|# ? Feb 25, 2020 20:16|
|# ? Feb 25, 2020 20:27|
In & flash plz
|# ? Feb 25, 2020 20:34|
|# ? Feb 25, 2020 20:38|
AA, all of your characters are astronauts and one of them is Hitler
|# ? Feb 25, 2020 20:40|
|# ? Feb 25, 2020 20:43|
in and for my failure on artbleed week.
|# ? Feb 25, 2020 22:56|
|# ? Feb 26, 2020 06:33|
Your two mainish characters are on very different scales, like maybe one is a microbe inside the other one, but not that specific example but you get the idea
|# ? Feb 26, 2020 11:18|
Good. I am here for round 2.
One final bump back to 2/29 at 11:59 Eastern.
|# ? Feb 26, 2020 16:02|
Music is visible as well as audible in your story.
In, someone flash me with something rad
|# ? Feb 26, 2020 20:26|
rodent gave us a pretty alright yarn that has nice little flourishes of prose, but one that ultimately felt a little too telly at times and a little "too to be continued". charlie gave a decent attempt at a story and hey it is a story w/ characters and motivations and what not, but the prose and cliches keep it from standing out.
|# ? Feb 26, 2020 20:40|
In, flash rule plz
|# ? Feb 27, 2020 02:53|
Music is visible as well as audible in your story.
Your story takes place in one of those TV/VCR repair stores, the kind that has seemingly been open for decades but has no apparent customers.
|# ? Feb 27, 2020 03:21|
In, flash rule plz
In your world, growing old is punishable by death
In, bitches. Flash me.
|# ? Feb 27, 2020 04:05|
In, bitches. Flash me.
Someone's drawing crop circles... on the Moon?!
|# ? Feb 27, 2020 06:18|
I volunteer as
|# ? Feb 27, 2020 06:31|
I volunteer as
|# ? Feb 27, 2020 07:14|
In your world, all the colours are running
|# ? Feb 27, 2020 19:43|
This prompt was made for me! Judge
|# ? Feb 27, 2020 22:06|
This is not an official prompt and is subject to being revoked by myself, Yoruichi, or anyone else at any time.
The emergency has passed. May God have mercy on our souls.
RandomPauI fucked around with this message at 23:57 on Feb 28, 2020
|# ? Feb 28, 2020 23:23|
I don't know who David Brooks is please just write good nonsense stories
|# ? Feb 28, 2020 23:52|
Screw it, let's get wacky. In, flash.
|# ? Feb 29, 2020 00:35|
Anti, your story will revolve around a something-ception, a thing inside of the same thing that the first thing is.
Saucy_Rodent fucked around with this message at 00:53 on Feb 29, 2020
|# ? Feb 29, 2020 00:51|
|# ? Feb 29, 2020 01:03|
yeah in flash
|# ? Feb 29, 2020 01:14|
yeah in flash
An actual baby needs to have an appointment of great significance like a president, monarch, religious icon, etc.
|# ? Feb 29, 2020 01:20|
|# ? Feb 29, 2020 06:18|
The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things; of shoes and ships and sealing-wax, of cabbages and sign-ups are closed.
|# ? Feb 29, 2020 08:04|
I Did It Because I'm Richer Than You
Word Count 898
Someone's drawing crop circles... on the Moon?!
Lead Engineer Horst entered the conference room, back straight and head held high with confidence. “You asked for me, Kelly Miller?” He spoke loud enough so that his voice carried through the room approximately the length of a football field. He squinted, adjusted his glasses and then groaned as he saw his boss stand up from her chair and hold out her hand.
With a sigh of defeat, he started walking. A minute later he clasped Kelly Miller’s waiting hand and she energetically pumped it up and down with a dazzling smile.
“Employee! So fantastic of you to come see me on such a short notice. Please have a seat,” she said with a sweeping gesture.
Looking around, Lead Engineer Horst did not find any chairs in the immediate area. He frowned when he remembered seeing a chair and a tablet near the entrance.
Kelly Miller motioned him away from her with a suggestive waggle of her immaculately sculpted eyebrows.
Lead Engineer Horst huffed. He had worked for Kelly Miller and Cameron for decades! He deserved respect, dammit! No way is he going to suffer the indignation of walking all the way back just for her amusement. It’s about time she understood what a privilege it is for them to have him as their lead engineer. He deserved their respect.
Interim Lead Engineer Doug entered the conference room and was struck dumb by its opulence. Diamond chandeliers straight down the entirety of the chamber. So many obviously expensive artifacts line up down the far wall. On the conference table, a tablet with his boss’ face smiled at him.
“Please, take a seat Jakey. Can I call you Jakey?”
Jakey, nervously walked around the plush chair and sat down to what could be described as a ‘cloud for your butt’. “Sure thing Mrs. Miller.” He saw his new salary. She could call him Lord Cameltoe Face the Fourth for that kind of money.
“Jakey, I have a problem,” she said, getting out of her chair and starting the walk down the length of the table. “I’m extremely rich. I want to flaunt my wealth so much so - that people will look back years from now and still think to themselves, “Oh my God, Kelly Miller is so rich. Brainstorm with me. Go.”
Jakey stalled for a bit, but then snapped his fingers when he thought of something. “You could single handedly orchestrate a system to deliver food worldwide end world hunger! It could be your legacy!”
“You are my first choice for this project, Pablo, and I need your ideas. Go.”
Interim Lead Engineer Pablo, formerly known as Sam the Janitor, thought as long and as hard as someone who was currently high on marijuana could possibly think. He giggled. “What if, you like, go to the moon, right?”
Kelly Miller rolled her eyes.
“And then, like, make crop circles man. That would be rad. Really mess with those scientists and poo poo.”
And then her eyes widened. She stood, knocking her chair backwards. “You have my loving attention Lead Engineer Pablo.”
Pablo continued, lost in his fantasy. “Yeah, and then you can build like a hundred rockets and pack them full of fireworks, man. They go off and spell ‘Kelly Miller is the richest’. People will have to look at the moon, man.” Pablo fluttered his hand excitedly and continued with enthusiasm. “What if we build like a rocket suit and fly you up to the moon?”
Tears ran tracks down Kelly Miller’s flawless face. “You’re a goddamn visionary. Follow me. I think I can do you one better.”
Deep in the lab, Kelly Miller stood inside a glass container and tapped at a screen in front of her. “We’ve been playing God. Watch this Pablo.” With a pause for effect, Kelly Miller pressed her finger against the screen.
And turned into a grotesque mockery of reality that was beyond the comprehension of a simple drugged addled man such as Pablo.
Lead Engineer Pablo screamed and soiled his pants with the savagery of a bottle of soda with a roll of mentos dumped in.
With another beep, Kelly Miller, stood in the glass container once again. “Oh stupid thing, I made a typo. One moment.” She jabbed at the screen for a few minutes and with a final button press her skin instantly transformed into a shimmering material that moved and looked like liquid mercury. Two gigantic and nearly transparent wings unfurled from her back and stretched across the entire room.
Pablo stared agape.
With a beckoning of her hands, Kelly Miller asks excitedly, “Well? What do you think?”
“I think I poo poo my pants,” Pablo said slowly.
“I knew I could count on you. You’re like my hype man. Very important.” She wagged her finger at him in approval. “Come on, we have a lot of work to do.”
Cameron leaned into a one of a kind telescope conversion kit. It fit into the James Webb Space Telescope he had specially delivered to his home. He looked up at the moon and marveled at Kelly Miller’s super special secret project. “That son of a gun did it. Crop circles on the moon.”
Fireworks went off in space and Cameron read the message out loud. “My name is Kelly Miller, and I am extremely rich.”
Tears lined Cameron’s eyes. “You sure are babe. You most certainly are.”
|# ? Mar 1, 2020 02:28|
One final bump back to 2/29 at 11:59 Eastern.
The ripe scent of soiled furs lasted only a moment as the oppressive glacial air layered over the odor until it was only a muted must. Itok’s discontent wriggling left no room for doubt.
Kana let the straps of the cradle harness become slack as she lowered the baby towards the ice-slick ground. The baby mewled at the exposure to the bone-chilling cold, but the next leg of their journey would be the longest, most arduous and one they had to take without stopping.
Eysa, who had trailed ahead of Kana and Itok, stood with her father’s spear at a peak that overlooked something that seemed nearly impossible. A jagged gash bisected the earth in front of her, leaving jutting columns of ice-covered stone and winding crevasses that seemed nearly cloaked in total darkness. If not for the occasional twinkling of moonlight on new ice, there would be no light at all in those passages that awaited them.
She had once seen a tree split by lightning in the time before The Crossing, and for a moment, she thought this was like that, the raw potential of nature unleashed completely, but as she continued to examine that frozen abyss, she thought it more like the fetid, decaying remnants of a gored carcass; the frosted pillars like splayed ribs from a blackened hollow. Only, ice had long since claimed this carcass. The land here had been ravaged.
Kana and the refastened Itok came to stand alongside Eysa and the family stood in silence realizing the chasm that awaited them, The Rend as Iko had come to call it, wasn’t merely just desecrated land ruined by nature. They feared it was one of the many doors to the domain of the Night Mother, herself.
“We have to cross this without stopping?” Kana thought. Her daughter voiced what she felt like saying.
“This is just not possible. Crossing this, let alone doing it without stopping… Mother, this cannot be done!”
Iko and the other hunters explained the necessity of this with great urgency when they returned from scouting.
“Should we be forced to take the chasm, we must do it without stopping. There are… dangers there.”
If only their bridge hadn’t collapsed, if only they hadn’t been split from the rest of the tribe.
Kana thought of Iko’s bewildered, furious face as he pleaded with the rest of the tribe.
His pleas fell on deaf ears. Many families lost or willingly left people behind that day.
Iko shouted across the ravine, “I’ll find you!” and descended into darkness. A darkness similar to that of the chasm Kana peered into.
“You heard your father and the other hunters. We’ve no choice, but to take The Rend and your father was direct with instruction. We cross it without stopping.” Kana finally said.
Eysa opened her mouth to protest, but promptly closed it, feeling the truth of those words from her own assessment of the situation, no matter how seemingly impossible. If they were to take it at all, they did it in one go, without stopping.
The descent into the chasm took place on a winding path that curved into darkness. Kana and Eysa had taken the last of their camp kindling and animal fat to make torches. They wouldn’t need the extra supplies if they made it across, so they invested every resource available to them in ensuring their survival across the chasm that their tribe had intentionally tried to avoid using.
Itok fell into an uneasy sleep as they made their way steadily down into the darkness of the chasm. The bounce of Kana’s gait and the diminished light soothed him. Oddly serene, the quiet baby’s demeanor lent steel to Kana and Eysa’s wavering nerves.
The crackling of frozen foliage and thin ice underfoot left them wary, but it was the constant feeling of being watched on those narrow paths that eroded the confidence they had built for themselves.
Then somewhere after the first hour of determined travel, they heard a bestial cry. A whimper from something injured.
Eysa’s heart felt like it was beating against her ribs and she felt the blood that pumped from it course through every inch of her body. Adrenaline-heightened awareness homed in on that whimper. She tightened her uncertain grip into something unflinching and leveled the spear she held at the light consuming darkness in front of her.
The flame from Kana’s torch licked at the frigid air and filled the tiny space with the overpowering scent of burned oil, and she felt at that moment a great sense of dread come over her as she contemplated what else might be smelling the acrid smoke she produced. She watched Eysa inch forward and as if tethered, moved herself, not leaving her daughter’s side for a second.
However, neither of them expected what they found just around the bend of their twisted passage. A giant, emaciated, saber-toothed tiger laid on its side with its entrails spilling out of freshly rent lacerations across its abdomen. Blood spilled out in coppery scented crimson, but the beast still managed to futilely snap at the prey it had failed to capture.
That it had been tracking them, Eysa was certain. She had smelled the stiff mange of the creature previously, thinking it just another blurred scent in the icy winds, but she was certain of it, gazing down at that pitiful, gaped creature. It had been following them. That unseen set of eyes that had skulked about the frozen bluffs and the sky-piercing stalagmites of ruptured earth.
Only now, the beast itself had been preyed upon. Ruined by the same savagery it sought to deal them, but by what?
An undulated, clicking, chirp rang out from an icy bluff just above. Moonlight reflecting in the darkness revealed it was shiny on the blood coated caruncle of a giant, bird-like, lizard. It had tufts of iridescent feathers sticking out of scaly limbs bent at sharp angles, attached to even sharper claws that dripped steaming droplets of blood onto the ice beneath it.
It let out a piercing shriek that finished like a chorus of growls and leaped down at Kana and Eysa, and the now very awake Itok.
Kana dropped the torch out of panic as the creature landed in front of them. The sparks that flew from it bought them a necessary moment of preparation. Their legs began pumping against the glassy ice before their screams found their way out of their throat, but the screams did come, and echo throughout the twisting paths like mocking wails distorted on the unending wind.
The clatter of talons leaping and landing from platforms or padding down the passage behind them grew closer with each passing second.
Kana, while still sprinting, managed to unfasten Itok from the cradle harness, and clutched the baby tight against her chest as she ran through the winding darkness towards the chasm exit.
Eysa was just ahead of her, spear raised, looking over her shoulder back at her mother and brother.
They ran through the darkness, panting out steam-laden clouds from their exertion.
Kana’s foot snagged in a small crag of weak ice. Eysa turned back. Kana’s eyes widened as the monster leaped down, six curved talons raised, to rake across Eysa’s exposed back.
Eysa howled out in agony but held the spear firmly in her grip. Hot tears ran down her cool cheeks as she backed towards her now seated mother who trembled in a seated position, fear completely immobilizing her and the screaming Itok who was oblivious to the fate about to befall him and his family.
The blood flowed freely from Eysa’s shredded tunic, but the wiry child faced down their encroaching doom with a sense of aloofness that she had learned from her father, and although he was good with a spear, she knew she was great with it.
She would only have one chance to strike the beast down. Monstrous as it was, she knew it was still something of flesh, another predator in the chain. Nearly on top of her mother and brother, she crouched completely and waited, spear tip raised.
The lizard thing leaped again, all six foot talons raised for further evisceration, and found Eysa leaping back at it. Seeing that open swath of unguarded flesh between its lethal claws, she sprung from the ground like a coiled snake and plunged the spear deep into the monster’s body. It’s claws ripped flesh from her shoulders as it writhed and slid down the length of her spear, collapsing on top of her.
She pushed and wriggled the spear for good measure to ensure the creature couldn’t savage her while she was pinned to the ice, shouting in a berserk frenzy all the while.
And then it was dead.
Bleeding out from terrible slashes in arms that would be useless for many moons, Eysa called for her mother who was already prying the large, twitching monster from atop her daughter.
Kana knew she would be unable to carry both Eysa and Itok beyond the chasm, she was in the midst of contemplating leaving Eysa behind to seek out help when the musk of a great and many people carried forward on the wind. Then the glow of orange on the icy walls of the chasm just down the path.
She smiled and held her family close.
|# ? Mar 1, 2020 05:00|
Slip-AA Brawl II
The constellations of the gods shined brilliantly in the clear autumn sky surrounding a full blood-red moon. The odour of musty fur flooded the nostrils. We were all there; hundreds, thousands, of wolves. The Great Northern kingdom had gathered and a lone howl commenced the meeting of the Congress of wolves. My mother stood at the head of the pack on the king’s rock, looking back on us and past us. She reeked of decay and dirt. The aroma, carried on the wind, permeated the carnivorous mass before her. Old one eye stood at her side. The moonlight illuminated the three scars over the sealed husk of his left eye.
“The king is dead!” she cried, “Uratheil is dead.” The hum of panting and scratching ceased at once. The hushed tones of murmuring followed. This is how I discovered my father’s death. My oldest brother strode from the crowd and was the first to speak. The sweet smell of pine, accompanied by the dank hearty odour of testosterone carried on the wind to my nose. He had come from the mountains where he lives and trains.
“Mother, how did this happened!? Father was the most cunning and hardy of all of us? Is there a plot against our family?” He said. The warm glow of the moon draped his pristine white fur in a soft shade of red. She shook her head.
“No Leon, it was the humans and their slaves, the metal sky birds. He sacrificed himself to save the pack, leading the humans away as we escaped into the forest,” she replied. Our middle brother rushed past me to the base of king’s rock. He smelled of the cedar forest he has lived since leaving the pack.
“Where is he? I must bury him in the wolf’s garden, otherwise he will not join the constellations of the gods!” he yelped in a high-pitched tone. I could feel my innards rotting at the prospect of the humans stealing his body and damming his soul into oblivion. The stench of copper overwhelmed me. I had bitten my tongue. Droplets of blood spilled onto my fur, only to disappear into my jet black coat. My mother jumped down from the king’s rock, sat down beside my brother and licked his face.
“Do not trouble yourself Julius, Old One Eye and I buried your father in the wolf’s garden. If you stare into the stars you will see him there, watching over us,” she said, in a hushed tone lost on the back ranks of the congress.
I could not bite my tongue any longer. “What will become of us?” I howled from the assembly. Leon turned and faced us all.
“As the eldest son, I will lead us against the humans! We will avenge my father and end the human encroachment on our territory once and for all! This time it was my father, your king! Who will be next? None of us are safe!” He barked. Some of the assembly yipped in approval.
“No,” my mother responded, “that is not my wish. That is not your father’s wish.” Leon shifted his gaze to Old One Eye, who nodded minutely, concealing it from all but those who were watching him. She continued.
“The kingdom will be jointly ruled,” she called out, causing another commotion of murmuring, “Leon, you will govern the mountain. Julius will rule the forest. Toma, you will rule the plains. Come now, we have family business to discuss. Old One Eye will lead the remainder of the congress.”
We followed her, the plain surrounding us with the forest and mountains on the horizon, reaching a wild rose patch formed into a ring. The royal circle was where the family would discuss matters away from the sharp ears of the congress.
Leon erupted as soon as we reached the circle. “How can you break sacred wolf tradition? The kingdom should me mine! How can I lead us against the humans if we are divided?”
My mother barked and bared her fangs. This is something we haven’t seen since the time we ran off as pups and she had to come find us. “We will not be waging a war against the humans. It is a futile effort that will only destroy our own kind.”
“We will see mother,” he said as he walked off to rejoin his pack. Mother shook her head. Old One Eye approached us as he dismissed the congress.
“One Eye, escort my children to their new packs. It has been a hard night. Let us rest and see where tempers lie in the morning,” she commanded. He nodded and we followed him.
“Isn’t this amazing brother?” Julius said to me as we headed back, “We grew up listening to Leon about how he would inherit the kingdom and one day join the constellations of the gods as a wolf lord while we would live lives of service to him. Now we can all join the constellations.”
Old One Eye snorted and replied, “We shall see. Your brother is none too pleased. He may seek to undermine your mother’s wishes yet.”
“How would he do that?” I asked. He looked at me and slowly shifted his gaze to Julius.
“By eliminating his competitive before the reforms take effect of course.” He answered as we reached the royal den.
I slept fitfully that night. I dreamed of my father, running from the humans in the sky. He looked at me and shouted for me to run. I awoke just as the sun began to break the horizon. My brothers were not with me.
Instead I could see whole swathes of the pack leaving. One Eye saw me emerged from the den and ran over to me.
“Toma, come quick,” he called out to me. He ran toward the royal circle. I followed him.
“What happened?” I yelled as we reached the circle.
“Your mother…” he trailed off, looking into the heart of the rose patch.
There she lay, unmoving. The patchy fur on her belly did not rise and fall. Her tongue hung outside of her mouth with no trace of movement.
“Mother!” I cried as I leaped to her side. I prodded her back with my nose but there was no response. I licked her face and her head rolled loosely on her body. There was no blood and but no heartbeat. The faint smell of cedar lingered on her. I looked up at One Eye.
“Who did this!?” I howled at him. He was silent and could not maintain my gaze.
Our ears perked. The was a low whirring sound in the distance. I scanned the horizon and spotted it there, low on the horizon.
Humans. I turned to One Eye.
“Gather the wolves of the plain, take refuge in the royal den! Wait for me for further command!” I commanded him. He nodded but hesitated.
“What are you doing?” He asked. I looked back to the body of my mother. He understood.
“I loved her like a sister,” he said as he turned to go, “but some things aren’t worth dying for.”
I did not intend to. He went to lead the other wolves to safety. I grabbed my mother by the scruff of the back of her neck and pulled her into the rose bushes. The thorns dug into my sides but I lay there with her as the humans passed overhead. The sickly smell of their birds wafted in the air. I heard no shots and the humans soon continued their search elsewhere.
I took her myself to the wolf garden, dragging her on my back. Keeping her from the dirt. I found the garden, and the fresh mound of dirt that was what remains of my father. I buried her there, beside him. I prayed to the holy moon that they would find each other in the constellations of the gods. I could not believe they were gone. I had much time to think. I remembered the smell of cedar. The forest. Julius.
He had betrayed her, us. Why? She was our protector, the wisest and most caring among her. How would we raise our own pups to be worthy of the royal line without her?
I swore an oath to the moon that night. To find justice for this crime; this betrayal.
I returned to the royal den that morning.
I called out to One Eye and he bounded over to me.
“You’re alive,” he said to me. He then turned to the den of wolves and shouted, “your king is here! Hail, the King of the Plains!” He meet my gaze with an intense one of his own.
“What is your will?” He asked. I looked out at my fellow wolves of all colours and patterns, and spoke.
“My brother Julius has betrayed us!” I said to them in a low growl, “We will track him to the willow of the woods in the forest realm. We will have our justice.” I could smell the lightest note of copper in the air.
One Eye nodded and the pack exploded in frenzy of yips and howls.
So it would be. War.
Some moons later we had made of way to the edge of the forest. The full moon was receding into a new moon. It was as if it were closing its eyes.
I found One Eye, late that night, sitting down far from the pack, staring into the forest not a hundred yards away. I approached him.
“What keeps you awake?” I asked as I sat down beside him. The wind blew the stench of cedar into my nostrils. He shifted.
“Your brother. I fear he’s insane. How else could he do this? Will he admit his guilt and give up his kingdom? It pains me say Toma, but we might have to stop him… with force.” He said, never breaking his long gaze.
“He will admit his guilt one eye, and he will atone for it. He is my brother,” I said. He sighed.
“I hope that is possible.” I stared him in the face until he turned to look at me.
“What happened that night? You had left he den after leading us there. Did you see Julius? Why didn’t you stop him?” I asked, the questions bursting out from their cage deep within me.
“I saw him leave the den. I could smell his anxiety dripping from him. I reassured him that there was nothing to worry about and went to rest with the pack. He did not follow me.”
We sat for a while in silence. I stared at the stars. I couldn’t see them up there. They seemed the same as ever.
“We march at the break of dawn,” I said as I turned and left. Old One Eye stayed out. Perhaps to keep watch. Maybe to consider his mistakes.
At dawn, my brethren formed up. A tight block in the center to resist a charge and looser packs in the front and sides to skirmish and guard the flanks. The forest could easily hide an ambush. Surely my brother would realize we were following him from our scents in the breeze and the hillside leading up into the forest would be the perfect place to do it. I stood at the front of the tightly packed mass of wolves and them into the woods.
There were no birds. Either my brother was here or they recently passed. Had they watched us from the trees all night?
A single deep howl emerged from the woods, followed for a chorus of them. The wolves of the wood charged from the trees down the slope. My wolves stood fast, the skirmishers providing a cushion, their hit and run tactics slowing the rolling wave of wolves emerging from the forest.
I charged at them, my soldiers howled our own battle-cry and followed me into the fray. Bodies collided, teeth tore flesh, claws gouged eyes. I took a wild flying headbutt from the side, breaking a rib. Another enemy scraped my skull with his teeth. The melee the only thing that enemies smelled of cedar and friends smelled like the dust of the plains. After I pinned one wolf and broke the leg of another I found myself in open space. I had withstood the wave. Not is was up to my brothers to do the same. I saw Julius there, hiding amongst the trees. Too cowardly to join the fray. Cowardly enough to kill our mother during the night. Coward.
I sprinted at him, my joints screaming as I ascended the hill and met the trees. He tried to run, weaving between the trees, hoping to lose me. He did not.
I tackled him to the ground from behind and wrapped my jaws around his throat.
“How could you?” I growled in a low rumble. I tightened my grip on his neck and tasted copper. And fear.
“It was the only way Toma, think about it!” he yelped, “One Eye told me Leon was going to invoke the Rites of Succession! He would take our lands from us, we won’t be laid to rest in the garden, and our souls barred from the constellation!”
I rose onto my feet and released his throat so I could headbutt him to the ground. I did it twice. Blood ran down my face into my eyes from my earlier wounds. It spilled on to him.
“You idiot. Don’t you realize? They just stars! They don’t change, not for us! They’re the same, they’ve always been the same!” I barked in his face. He stared up at me in a daze.
“No. You’re wrong. It does exist.” He said as he lay his head on the ground,”Send me there now. You will see me in the stars, and I will be with mother and father.”
“No, you will atone for your crime Julius. Abdicate the forest throne. Feed the elders. Protect the children. Watch the night. Maybe one day you’ll come to realize your mistake,” I replied. He did not respond and layed motionlessly. I bit him by the scruff of his neck and pulled him up. He trembled pathetically. I hated him deeply. But he was my brother. I would not kill him.
“Get up! Let’s call this war off now before any other wolves get hurt,” I snapped.
He stumbled in front of me and we were about to move forward when the wind shifted through the woods. I smelled pine.
“Run!” I yelled but it was too late. The giant wolves of the mountains leaped from the trees around us and surrounded us. They grabbed Julius. I tried to free him but a massive white wolf pulled me off the pile and threw me to the side. Leon.
“Brothers! I knew I would find you here, squabbling for my scraps!”
“We got him!” the mountain wolves howled. One of them had Julius’s neck in his jaws. My brother’s gaze met mine.
“Kill him,” Leon commanded. His soldier put his paw on Julius’s body and used the leverage to break my brother’s neck in one swift motion.
“gently caress you Leon! He was our brother!” I snarled at him, “Was he right? Where you going to invoke the Rites of Succession?”
“What rites?,” he growled at me, “I deserved the kingdom by the rights of being the eldest! You two were nothing but a backup plan. Mother should never have even had you! I will unite the kingdom and then defeat the humans. Let that console you during your death.”
I could hear foot steps approaching. A low rumble. Many of them. Three wolves in ragged shape ran through our numbers screaming “The wolves of them plain! They’re killing everyone, run!” As they fled further into the woods. My army would be here soon.
“Kill him!” Leon shouted to his minions. One tried to pounce me but I was able to sidestep. Another tried to sink his jaws into my eyes, but I twisted away in time and he caught my shoulder instead. I was able to roll over and loosen his grip. That’s when I heard a call.
“Stop!” barked One Eye. He was panting, bloody, and tired. My army arrived after him, pushed their way to my side and growled at the wolves of the mountain.
“No more wolves shall die!” continued One Eye, “This is between blood now. I will not stand to see the kingdom devour itself. One of you must lead it!” He pointed his nose at us and nudged it left and right. Our soldiers formed a circle around Leon, myself, and the still-warm body of Julius. My brother laughed.
“Good, I’ll enjoy this!” he said as he turned to face me. I paced to my right and he mirrored me.
“Leon, you can live yet. Do not lead unto war. You will kill us all, yourself included!” I called out to him.
“Father taught me how to lead. Not you. Not Julius. I am just as good as him. Better! He would never have led us against the humans. We have to take the fight to them to survive! Just ask One Eye, he’s the oldest and wisest of us all! I am capable of taking on the humans!” He yelled back. He charged; fangs out, eyes wild.
I stood my ground and met his gaze. I will have to subdue him if I wanted to speak reason to him. At the last moment, I flopped to my side and bit upward. My fangs caught flesh. His legs tangled in mine. He tripped and fell. I felt a tear.
No. No no no.
Copper overwhelmed my senses. I bolted upright and saw my brother there bleeding out at the roots of a massive cedar tree.
“Brother! I did not mean for this to happen,” I whined, “I just meant to stop you.” The blood-stained his white fur and matted it down in large patches. I licked his wounds but it was futile.
“You… Stole… It… From me,” he whispered. Then he stopped breathing. I could only stare at him.
“Long live the king!” called out One Eye. The wolves of the plain howled in victory. The wolves of the mountain joined them, lower, mournful, scared.
Everything seemed muted to me. Quiet. Dumb. I looked at One Eye. He was commanding wolves to bury my brothers, and the rest to gather at the Willow of the Woods. I walked over to him and did not conceal my anger.
“What did you say to Julius about the Rites of Succession?” I asked, my voice trembling, my mind racing. One Eye looked to me with wide eyes
“What?” he replied, “Oh right. Julius was concerned Leon would try to cut him from the inheritance of the kingdoms before your mother died. I reassured him that Leon would never invoke the Rites of Succession, and even if he did, it would take months to gather enough support to force your mother’s hand.”
He shrugged. “I was only trying to console him,” he finished.
“You tricked him into killing our mother. Why?” I demanded.
“No, nothing like—“ He was cut off as I bit his ear and smashed his face into a tree. Then I tackled him to the ground and bit on to his neck.
“Alright,” he gasped, “Alright! Don’t you see, your mother was going to divide the kingdom! The humans are going to conquer us all! First, there was your father, who let the humans encroach more and more on our lands, refusing to retaliate against their cities, then there was your mother. The humans will have us divided, ready to conquer. We can’t let that happen!”
I should have made him atone for it. For everything. I swore an oath to the moon. But the moon is just a moon. I broke his neck.
There will be peace. We will not throw away our kingdom. Maybe we will lose it piece by piece. Maybe we won't.
We will have to abandon the plains. King’s rock, the royal den, the wolf garden. They are the human's territory now. We will still have the forest, and the mountains, for now. And the stars.
I still look up to them sometimes. They are just stars but… I hope I am wrong.
|# ? Mar 1, 2020 05:46|
He Wears Me Out
Molecules of the sea of meat form the patchy skin of a tortoiseshell cat. My development’s incomplete, my exposed bonds can assure me of that.
I’ve no bonds Ionic or covalent. My tonic is sweet dreams of a catalyst. I’ve only electronic entertainment, for my chronic case of lonely blasty fist.
Hope was once at the Neon Cross: a church so narrow they built it in their alleyway. I’m found, but I miss being lost. Here I need to suck in my gut just so I can pray.
There’s a preacher in a special shirt (a shirt especially made, that says special on the shirt). Does it make sense if we’re all common dirt? Would expressing that thought make his feelings hurt?
He says, “you shall not touch the back of the pulpit with your pooch of a belly in this comfy-cozy place.”
Even with my back to the wall I can barely breathe with the preacher — leaning over the pulpit — exhaling on my face.
“Do you expect me to applaud when you repent?”
“No, Father,” I say.
“Yes, Lord,” I pray.
“Do you expect moral support from your government?”
“No, Father,” I say.
“Yes, Lord,” I pray.
“Did you know your great grandfather shot me in the bum?”
“I can never truly know, Father,” I say.
“I’m always being told, Lord,” I pray.
“And I was shot by his son, and his son’s son and… ...GOOD GOD, MAN, IS THAT A GUN?!”
“My family should never have been armed, Father,” I say.
Genetically, it seems to be that my index fingers are the barrels of lugers. I don’t know why our God would do this to us, or how nature could make us take this form. It’s the norm for my family. Can you understand, while we have these hands, I can never point these fingers at myself or my family?
Do I blame the shady figure in the church alleyway? Do I believe something bigger than the figure is at play? Well, I'm at the church gutter and someone’s pouring butter down the walls.
The figure in the darkness says, “let’s see how far down he falls!”
The preacher’s got a hacksaw in his hands. I don’t think I want to hear his demands.
Lose my fingers, or lose my church? I’m torn. I believe my church is right, but I smell that the butter is warm.
What do I want to do? I want to know what I want to do. How do I know what I want to do? I listen to how I feel when I remember you. Every time the preacher’s piercing eyes shot geysers of searing information. His words were heated by thousands of generations of volcanic predation. His eyes are at the front, not by his side, today. What do I want to do? I want to slide away.
He says, “My brother, I believe that your choice is poorly made!”
I say, “I’m only diving into grease that your own people have laid.”
Drifting away, I’m a meaty chunk in the salty melty gold. Drifting away, far away from the place that could have saved my soul.
In the glimmering Ganges, caramelise my hiny in the gold, I urge you. In the sizzling Styx, why don’t you fry me in your scolding virtue? All is butter, everyone is meat. Better turn myself over to keep my rear end sweet. I turn myself over to the penis side. Merrily, dickward, through the grille of the drain I slide.
Molecules of the sea of meat form a ginger cat and a cat shaped void. All butter flows to the main stream: the storm-drain bus-route. The buses have been deployed.
Hail kitty-kitty. I pray, puss-puss. My God is pretty and I give him fuss. God, were you always a ginger cat? Well, I suppose we all imagine that.
At heart, cats are truly one and the same. Butter rendered the cat-God chimera in twain. The bus draws nearer and these separate cats are making throws.
I know that I’m not supposed to say, "I wish the bliketty cat would go away, please."
However, I’m certain that these distant molecules say that of my ginger God and me.
I am lost, it’s not your duty to find me. I shan’t let you bind me to your tiny church. In the ginger cat I’m bound — to another like me — in the butter compound.
It’s all my choice. Yes, it’s all my choice; and you don’t get to choose.
If this is a fight, then pick your cat. Could the ginger cat ever lose?
If this is a pity, then; when I love my kitty, why do you throw your shoes?
If the tide is certain to draw a curtain on me, then what is your complaint?
Molecules of the sea of meat. We’re simultaneously bound, and free to form a new constraint.
I do what I like out of spite if it suits me. Us ginger molecules form a titanic beauty.
From family Blastyman!
Shady figures better run, if they can!
We won’t rest until that cat-like-thinger is dead.
Gonna blast her under the tyre tread.
When all is settled and I’ve cooled the metal of my finger guns; I don't become special, a shirt labeled 'special' is all I’ve become.
|# ? Mar 1, 2020 17:36|
The Marine’s Wager
Let’s make a wager. You tell me the craziest, most interesting thing you’ve ever done. I’ll tell you mine. Whoever has the crazier story wins.
You know, I’ll take that bet. Five bucks?
Sounds good to me. You go first.
Well, back in ‘68 I had a job putting Coke bottles into boxes. Then my number came up, they made me take a test, and then they decided I had to be a marine. So they shipped me off to Vietnam…
Hold up. Vietnam is a country on Earth, right?
How often do I have to remind you that most humans keep to Earth?
Oh yeah, right. Sorry. So this whole story takes place on Earth? The whole thing.
I’ve never left Earth, actually. Not once in my life. Anyways, there was a war going on in Vietnam, and they sent me over to fight.
Why was there a war?
Preserving the American way. It would take me all day to explain.
Sorry. Keep going, I’ll shut up.
One time, they put me on a submarine. They gave me a knife and some light gear then put me in the torpedo tube. The tube filled up with water and then--whoop--there I went. I was going through the water at a hundred miles an hour toward the coast. All told, I had to hold my breath for about four minutes.
Why did you have to hold your breath?
Humans can’t breath underwater. We breathe oxygen.
I mean, obviously I know you breathe oxygen, like duh, but water has like, a ton of oxygen. More oxygen than your atmosphere, actually.
I don’t know what to tell you, Milky. I one hundred percent cannot breathe underwater.
I mean, have you tried?
If I could breathe underwater, I would have done it while rocketing through the South China Sea for four minutes.
Okay, whatever, I believe you, I guess, you seem pretty insistent. So what happened when you got to the coast?
I snuck out of the water in the dead of night and knifed seven Viet Cong bastards before any of them knew I was there. Let our boats land without any scouts reporting their command we had arrived. That’s what I got. Now it’s your turn.
So my friend Annie and I were...do you know Annie?
Andromeda? I mean, I’ve heard of her, it’s not like we’ve talked.
Okay, cool. So Annie and I noticed that everyone else was getting further and further away. If it kept going, we were gonna be in a super lonely universe.
Weird. So what’d you do?
Annie and I turned toward each other and decided to just run into each other. If everyone else is going to walk away, we’re just gonna smack into each head-first. Fight the power!
Ah. So what happened when you hit each other?
Hasn’t happened yet. That’ll take a hot second.
Honestly I think I win.
Seriously? You won some little war on one planet, I’m doubling the stars in the sky for the people of a million worlds.
We actually lost that war.
Oh. What happened to the American way?
It stayed exactly the same.
So you killed those guys for nothing?
Well, the guys in the boats I allowed to land ended up doing the My Lai Massacre, if that counts for anything.
Still think I win. Give me five bucks.
We didn’t say we were judging by cosmic significance, did we? We said craziest. And if getting launched out of a submarine to end the lives of seven strangers for absolutely nothing isn’t crazy, I don’t know what is.
I suppose. I’ll give it to you, but I want you to know it’s a pity win. Do you want US dollars or the money from Planet Zilgaflax, whose also happen to call their money “bucks.” It’s worth more on Zilgaflax.
I don’t think they’ll take that here, just give me a Lincoln.
|# ? Mar 1, 2020 19:11|
|# ? Sep 25, 2022 17:18|
An actual baby needs to have an appointment of great significance like a president, monarch, religious icon, etc.
How the Pope is Chosen
flerp fucked around with this message at 15:49 on Aug 25, 2020
|# ? Mar 1, 2020 23:19|