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Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




shirt button
flash rule: bifurcated Tuesday

Uncoping
620 words


My sister gave birth to a healthy baby girl during the biggest protest march the city had ever seen. It was 6pm on a Tuesday when I got the news, four hours after my boss - fake concern plastered on her liar-betrayer face - told me I was being fired.

It was two years since my sister’s first daughter was born, and one year, 11 months, 19 days and 12 hours since the baby had died. I still didn’t understand how she had recovered from that, how she could do it all again.

All I’d lost was my job.

My boss told me it was due to the restructure, not my performance. You have to think of what’s best for the organisation, she said. We need people who really want to be here. It wasn’t due to my inadequacies. The fact that I never had been, never would be, good enough.

My sister - heavily pregnant - had told me that’s just what they wanted me to think, that that’s how bullies operated. She told me everything was going to be ok, and because she was her and I was me I believed her, if only for a moment.

Drumbeats and shouting reverberated from the end of my block. My boots were by my front door, waiting to be firmly laced and marched under banners and raised fists. gently caress work. gently caress my boss and her self-serving platitudes. I was going out there, to wail with the rest of my city about something that actually mattered.

The northerly wind rattled my bedroom windows as I tugged on my jeans. Ranks of raindrops dashed themselves against the glass. My hands shook as I buttoned my shirt. What if I was already too late? A button popped loose, hit the carpet and rolled under the bed. After it! On my knees I swept my arm in a blind arc and touched, something. I yanked back my hand and snatched the valance out of the way. I saw the rat’s dead eyes a moment before the smell hit me.

Oh god the cat’s eaten half of it how long has that been there I’ve been sleeping on top of it I can’t deal with this right now I can’t I can’t. I pulled my knees into my chest and sobbed into the worn denim. I got fired. After three years of trying and trying and being belittled and bullied they had sucked out everything they wanted and now I was nothing to them and I hated them anyway so why did I care why was I crying why

My phone buzzed. A message from Peter in my team (he didn’t know yet), and a photo of my workmates in the midst of the march. Where are you?

I thought of my new niece. I wanted to be able to tell her that I had been there, that I stood up for the world that she was going to grow up in. I wiped my cheeks and tucked my loose shirt ends into my jeans.

On my way to the front door I glanced at the pile of bills on the cracked formica bench. My boss’s words flooded my mind and my heart rate spiked. It was only five steps to the door. Then five more and I’d be on the street. But everything was too heavy and my legs wouldn’t move.

The rain was coming down in earnest now, pounding on my roof and matching the roaring in my ears. I sank to my knees, then my side. I pressed my cheek against the cold kitchen lino.

Outside the water was rising. It was lapping at my door, but I couldn’t

get

up

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a friendly penguin
Feb 1, 2007

trolling for fish



Calculated
Word count: 681

You’re walking along a street that you’ve driven many times when you spy a bit of paper on the ground. Like everything else on the walk, your eyes take it in and add it to the batch of memories your brain will dump in approximately 15 minutes. What will remain is the reports problem from work that you’re trying to solve before lunchtime is over. The numbers aren’t adding up and you needed to walk, not drive, to piece it all together.

You’re not making any progress on the problem. Instead, you’re losing numbers. They’re being replaced by letters: the letters you saw on that paper. There weren’t that many, but once they’re assembled in the forefront of your brain you smile and turn around. It won’t take long to go back for a laugh. Maybe a little distraction from the numbers is exactly what you need.

It’s only a few steps but you have time to wonder why this paper wrested your mind away from something more important. The answer is in the blocky, slanted letters made with thin strokes from a black ink pen. The writing reminds you of your own scrawl. You bend your knees for a closer look and frown. It is your handwriting. The unrounded ‘o,’ the ‘s’ with more lines than curves and a ‘b’ that resembles squares.

All thoughts of your previous problem vanish and in rush new questions. When did you write this? How did it end up here? Why is it still here? Why did you write it?

You look around, hoping there are answers among the familiar sights. You have driven by this very spot hundreds of times on your way to your favorite sandwich place. First you pass the nail salon and then the cell phone store and even though the third shop seems constantly to be changing, even that surprise feels normal.

Driving has never allowed you to see more detail than the shops’ glowing signs, so you look at the buildings themselves. The bricks of the strip mall are… yellow. You could swear that they have always been gray. You also see that the parking lot has a faint reddish tinge. Wasn’t it just black? And the piece of paper is stuck in a crack that branches from a hole in which a parking meter stands. Did anyone pay to park here?

There is a car parked in that very spot, but the screen flashes red: out of time. You think about adding some money so that the car doesn’t get a ticket, but there are no slots for coins. Only a square barcode for scanning. When did parking meters become digital?

The paper flaps to call your attention back to the ground and you pick it up. You try to understand it using your newly discovered perspective. Could someone else have placed the paper here as a message to call your attention to something bigger? Are you now a part of some secret operation? You look up again, searching for someone watching you, but no one else is out. They’re already at lunch.

Is it cosmic? Were you sending yourself a note through time with a warning for the future? You inspect the notebook paper. It has been torn from a mini, spiral-bound flipbook. You pull out an orange covered notebook of exactly this type from your pocket. You’ve been carrying one for years and will for many more. It could be from any of them, past or future.

The paper in your hand is still white, no water damage or crumpling, only a bit of dirt. With no further clues to help you anchor yourself in this new dimension, so familiar yet discomforting, you once again ponder the single word that you wrote to communicate, to remember, to make a difference. And you’re struck: maybe it’s not a word. Maybe you’ve been looking at the note, like your surroundings, all wrong. The letters could be numbers and the numbers might be the answer to your reports problem: 80085…

You shake your head. No, it’s definitely BOOBS.

AstronautCharlie
Jan 13, 2020

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

A Rich Tapestry
Object: Needle

791 words

“Stop! Thief!” yelled the bald man as he chased the offending teenager down the sidewalk, sweating and panting as he lunged after the nimble kid who laughed with frantic glee, the box of ice cream sandwiches tucked under his arm.

A lonely woman across the street looked up from her phone to rubberneck at the scene and bumped into a well-dressed lady. She blushed as she stuttered out an apology. The well-dressed lady smiled back and told her it was fine, and the lonely woman felt less lonely.

“Lookin’ good sweethearts!” a man yelled from a passing car as he flicked his lit cigarette butt out the window. He accelerated to shoot a gap between two cars ahead of him and passed them by amidst a cacophony of honking, which he drowned by turning up the radio.

From across the country a DJ hammed it up in between tracks before introducing this week’s hottest single and dropping the needle onto the vinyl. The needle pulled life from the lifeless disc and sent it screaming up the radio antenna to be flung into the world.

The song blared out of cheap speakers into the frat house as the shy kids guzzled drinks, standing with their backs to the wall in silence, each waiting for another to initiate. They watched the beautiful kids dance and entwine, unburdened by self-consciousness. The growing line for the bathroom grew irate as a freshman vomited the last fluids from her stomach into the bowl.

The vibrations pounded up to the roof, where a pair of young strangers shared realizations they didn’t yet know everyone had sooner or later; they’d fallen in love with an ideal they’d constructed instead of the person themself, or seen their mom crying when she thought everyone was sleep and it dawned on them how terribly human she’d always been, or they’d learned that nobody was born special. Then they looked out onto the neo-gothic buildings of the campus, and beyond into the endless forest of pine.

Out in the forest, a man trudged through the snow, hugging his jacket tight to him. His daughter waddled along behind, layered so heavily in coats and scarves that she could barely move.

“I’m running out of patience. Just pick a tree so we can go back. It’s getting dark,” he said.

“DAAAaaaAAAd we have to get the right treeEEEeee,” she whined.

“We’ve been out here for an hour”, he barked. ”These look just like the trees we saw half an hour ago, which look just like the ones outside our door. This is wasting my time. You have sixty seconds to pick one from what we can see here and then we’re going back,” he said.

The girl began to cry.

“Now cut that out.”

The crying continued.

“Now sweetheart, what’s the matter? Any one of these would look great,” he said, his tone wheedling and supplicative.

“It’s not that,” she said between sniffs. “I don’t wanna go home yet.” The man knelt to her level. “I didn’t pick moving here, I didn’t pick my new school, I don’t get to pick anything!” she said, building up another sob. “So I really like getting to pick the tree.”

The man hugged her. “Would you like to pick a movie when we get back? And then maybe you can pick a cookie. We’ll even let you pick a present to open Christmas Eve. How does that sound?” he asked.

She wiped away tears and snot with the back of her mitten, where they congealed and froze. “Yeah, I guess,” she mumbled.

The man’s mouth twisted indecisively. “And...we can keep looking,” he said.

“Yay!” she squealed before waddling over to the nearest tree. “One of these will probably work…” she said. The man suppressed a groan. “Dad, do you know the most important thing to look for in a tree?” she asked.

“It’s gotta be full and symmetrical?” he ventured.

“Well, yeah… but after that!”

“No, tell me,” he said as he sat down.

“Well!” she said with pedagogical flourish, “You gotta make sure the needles aren’t gonna fall off.” She grabbed the trunk and shook as hard as her little arms would allow. Snow tumbled from precarious balances amidst a mild sprinkle of needles.

“See, we can’t take that one. All the needles will fall off!” she said.

One by one, she shook all the trees in the vicinity. Each one gave up at least a few needles. The man grew fidgety as she approached the last untested tree.

“I hope this one works,” the girl said.

The man winced but said nothing.

She touched the trunk and gave it the gentlest tug. No needle fell from the branches.

“This one’s perfect,” she said, smiling.

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


College Slice

Random Encounters
~795 words

Valathor pulls out his dull blade. The rain pounds down.

He hates his name—conjuring images of heroism and chivalry, ideals that fit him as well as would a horse’s codpiece. Still, after reading the post on the tavern door (”Soldiers Wanted”) off he’d gone to defend the honor of the Crown Royal. A fuckwit King who’d poked either his his alcohol-scarred nose or his flaccid dick into the affairs of the the surrounding states. Usually both.

It isn’t highway robbers this time: Valathor’s in a swamp, swatting mosquitoes from his pockmarked body, a platoon of ungrateful conscripts behind him. Not even halfway up the hill to the witch’s shack. Each sodden step makes a sucking sound, his very soul being leached into the mud. “Form up, maggots!” he yells, but his voice is swallowed by the pounding rain. Nobody listens. It doesn’t really matter.

The sword is heavy and his arms hurt. He plucks an oily leech from the back of his knee, tossing it into the muck. His mouth tastes sour, like old lemons.

He looks up and the horse and rider are upon him. A knight in burgundy and gold pushes a lance through Valathor’s midsection. The glowing weapon pierces his breastplate, metal against metal, emerging from his back and lifting him out of his boots, which collapse, flaccid, into the mud.

“Nat twenty, bitches!” Becca exclaims, her face aglow.

“Nice!” Val says. “Don’t bother rolling damage. He’s only, like, eleven HP.” She crosses out a number in her notebook. “Okay, what do you do next?”

“Chevy pulls out the lance and clean off the guts. It’s like, super gory. Blood and entrails everywhere. Double damage, baby!”

The other girls at the table roll their eyes. Val had asked for more description (”Paint a word picture”) to make the game more entertaining. Becca had responded by getting overly graphic anytime her paladin killed anything.

Across the table Sarah takes another swig of Lemon White Claw. “Why are we in this swamp anyways? The green hag? The kidnapping the Queen’s daughter?”

Val sighs. Sarah, not the sharpest blade, has a hard time listening after her third seltzer. At least she’s funny, and not obsessed with descriptions of liquefying organs and bone shrapnel like Becca. Val fantasizes new ways to kill Becca’s paladin while explaining (again) to Sarah why they’re in the swamp. She can edit this later. Val grabs her d20 and consults the random encounter tables.

“Roll perception.”

As the dice hit the table Valdez flicks the earbud out of his ear. An old Buick struggles up to his window, brakes grinding metal against metal. Valdez slides the glass divider open as the old lady tries to roll down her window. He pauses the podcast. His friend had recommended it, but not having ever played D&D he got a little lost in the mechanics. But the one chick was funny and he liked her graphic descriptions of gore. Plus, she sounded hot.

The old bag finally accepts defeat in her battle against the car window and pushes her ticket through the little gap she’d created. Valdez grabs it, punches it into the machine, and gives her the bad news.

“Highway robbery,” she says. The broad’s skin looks green in the artificial light. She pushes her old lady glasses up on her nose and digs through a burgundy and gold purse.

Valdez rolls a lemon drop between his teeth. A longing glance at the Crown Royal under the counter, a quarter empty—the only way he survives this soul-sucking job.

The rain pounds down. The hag finally produces some coins. Without counting, Valdez presses the button and the old Buick putters off. Something else has caught his eye.

Two headlights, moving quickly. A pickup truck barrels towards him. A flash of lightning illuminates a truck bed loaded with rebar, long metal poles extending like vicious spikes.
It is dark, the road already slick with rain. The driver must not see the toll booth because he approaches fast, too fast, then he hits the brakes. Too late: the truck fishtails, the driver over corrects, and then the long metal spikes sweep across the tollbooth as the big Chevy roars sideways through the plaza.

The metal spikes cleave through Valdez, ripping skin and muscle and sinew, bones splintering. A mist of blood fills the tollbooth as his body is torn in half, an explosion of gore and liquefied entrails that blasts outward from his midsection. Valdez and the tollbooth are launched into the air. What’s left of his body lands, flaccid, scattered across the wet pavement.

The next morning Valerie awakes, exhausted after another night of troubling dreams. She decides the podcast is not worth the effort.

Nobody listens. And it doesn’t really matter, anyway.

M. Propagandalf
Aug 9, 2008

THUNDERDOME LOSER

Unflappable
Word Count: 702
Item: Paper bag

Larry ran the only costume party store in the small town of Quantcumsah. For a line of work that touched upon the fanciful, he nevertheless ran his shop straight. There was a decided lack of humour in store, and that’s how Larry kept it six years running.

On Friday, a new customer arrived. The man seemed less a face from out of town than from out of continent. Normally, Larry would start shuttering the store a few minutes early so he could make it home in time to watch SportsNow’s croquet highlights, but the man dawdled through his aisles to the edge of closing time.

When the man finally approached the counter, he had in hand a child-sized ghost costume.

“I hear this is the best costume party shop in all of town,” spoke the man with a loud and curious accent, as he hard-slapped the cashier counter.

Larry felt his cultural sensitivity awareness being tested and steadied himself.

“It’s the only one in town.”

“I see room for improvement.”

“Feedback is welcome,” replied Larry, as he tapped the transparent box labeled ‘Suggestions?’

“Where I come from, we share many myths about a monster known as the Chubagiskraw…”

“Feedback is welcome,” repeated Larry, “in the suggestion box.”

“Your movie industry is clearly bereft of imagination and stuck telling the same stories of the same comic heroes and villains. Now if they made movies about the Chubagiskraw…”

“The costume comes to two ninety-nine.”

“Of course. On Americana Express.”

“We don’t take credit on purchases under five dollars. We also don’t accept Americana Express.”

The man muttered something in exasperation.

“Fine!” replied the man, as he plopped some heavy coins on the counter, “two donairri then.”

“We also don’t accept foreign currency.”

“My good man, are you daft? Your jade sterling is free-falling. Do you not understand I’ve overpaid you for your scrap of cloth?”

“Sir, I am aware of current exchange rates,” Larry sighed. “I will extend the courtesy in accepting your coin this time, but understand that most businesses here in Quantcumsah don’t.”

Larry scooped the coins into the till and was about the bag the merchandise when the man motioned him to stop.

“Paper bag, please.”

“All our bags are plastic.”

“Are you that callous to the environment?”

“…I suppose a bag isn’t needed for one item.”

“That is not the point.”

“Sir, do you want the costume or not?”

“Not from the likes of this business!”

As Larry turned to the till to return the man’s donairri, he heard a gob of spit eject. Larry turned to the man, who eyed him angrily as he spat again at the suggestion box.

“Sir, that is not a valid form of feedback.”

“Then accept my two donairri in lieu of my two cents: Cease your dependency to one-time use plastics. Spare some mercy for this planet!”

Before Larry could reply, the man walked out. Larry took a moment to process what had transpired. Checking the clock to see he would have no chance to catch the evening's croquet highlights, Larry took the opportunity to clean the store more thoroughly than he normally would.

Larry left the task of cleaning the suggestion box last. The trajectory of both gobs had landed right into the slot, wetting a folded suggestion that was inside. Larry donned some gloves and grabbed a bottle of disinfectant. Wiping down the outside of the box, he paused on approaching the next step. Something about handling the suggestion made him nauseous. He wanted to dump it straight into the trash. Yet in all his time running the store, he had never ignored a suggestion that had gone into the box.

Setting aside his revulsion, Larry lifted the feedback slip from the box and read it. From what he could make out, it seemed less a suggestion than it was an unconstructively rude remark, but the effect of the spit had blotted the ink of the writing, making its offensiveness inconclusive.

Satisfied with the outcome, Larry disinfected the remainder of the box. Before leaving the store for the day, he placed an order for paper shopping bags, and was pleased to learn they would be ready at the store by Monday.

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


A Story in Which Our Hero, Brian, Most Certainly Does Not Jerk Off 

434 words - lotion

Brian excitedly hurried out of the Bed Bath & Beyond, clutching his enormous new bottle of lotion. He couldn't wait to use it! At the entrance, he ran into Katie, who he had a crush on.

"Hi Brian," said Katie. "I was about to ask you on a date, but seeing you with such a big bottle of lotion makes me think you're going to go jerk off, and I don't think I can be with a man who jerks off, ever."

"Well, you have nothing to fear," said Brian. "I intend to use this lotion for hand miniaturization purposes only. No jerkin' off for me!"

"I don't believe you. No one buys such an expensive lotion in such large quantities only to not use it to jerk off. Goodbye, Brian. Goodbye forever."

Katie left, and Brian sure was sad about not getting to see her again, but he was happy he had so much lotion, so it all worked out. He continued on his merry way home.

Right outside the bank, he ran into his mother. 

"Why Brian, I was just coming to this bank to write your siblings out of my will, leaving you as my only heir, but seeing you carry such a large bottle of lotion makes me realize that you intend to jerk off with it. No son of mine jerks off! So instead I'm going to do the opposite of what I had planned and write you out of the will."

"No need for that, mother," said Brian. "This lotion is simply a remedy for dry skin. Now go write my siblings out of the ol' will!"

"You liar!" said Brian's mom. "I have no son, other than the other sons I have who aren't you. Goodbye."

Brian was sad about losing his inheritance, but at least he had his lotion. He continued his walk gaily, passing by a TV store where the TVs blared the days biggest headline: SCIENTISTS FIND JERKING OFF CAUSES COVID.

Outside the church, Brian ran into Pastor Westershire. 

"You hellhound sinner!" shouted the Pastor, glaring at Brian's bottle of lotion. "Don't you know that God shall eternally punish those who jerk off!"

"Good to hear!" said Brian. "I guess I'm a saved man! You won't see any jerkin' off from me, Pastor, 'cause I'm not gonna do it!"

"Bah!" said the Pastor, and scurried back into his sanctuary.

Brian finally arrived at his house. He looked admiringly at his bottle of lotion, then put it in his cupboard in case his hands got dry. Then he went to go play video games. The end.

sebmojo
Oct 23, 2010


Legit Cyberpunk







.

sebmojo fucked around with this message at 20:23 on Jan 10, 2021

Antivehicular
Dec 30, 2011

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



My Week With The Maple Poofy Puffs
644 words
Object: package of crisp and crunchy edibles

I make bad snack decisions. At this point, that fact feels like an immutable part of myself, like birthdate and eye color: a line written into my DNA that says do not leave this person alone at a convenience store. When I saw the Maple Poofy Puffs sitting on the bottom shelf of the 7-11 chips rack, I knew they were going to be the latest in my chain of regrettable choices.

The first sign was the look I got from the clerk at the register: a slight widening of the eyes, which says a lot given what they see on a regular basis. If I'd managed to buy the dumbest thing in this guy's shift, I'd really have nailed it. "I didn't even know we sold these," the clerk said. "Where did you find them?"

"Bottom shelf," I replied. "I think that's where things go to die."

The clerk just nodded; the well of late-night convenience-store banter was pretty shallow tonight, and that was fine with me. Truth be told, I hate being a regular at the late-night 7-11; I hate being a regular anywhere, being recognized when I engage in food shame, but there's nothing worse than being known for buying trash snacks and Super Big Gulps at 3 AM. I don't even have the excuse of being drunk. This is just, hideously, who I am.

I slunk back home with my strange bounty, which had started to feel like a bad idea the moment I'd left the store. They looked to be your generic puffed-up corn snack, in the Cheeto fashion, but maple-flavored: the kind of snack idea so dumb that it's irresistible to me. When I got home, though, I realized I was feeling more like savory than sweet, so I threw the bag of Maple Poofy Puffs on top of the fridge and made myself some microwave popcorn. It's not like that kind of extruded snack product ever really gets stale.

It's a good thing, too, since I ended up just leaving them there for most of the work week. Every time I looked at the bag, I felt a new sense of... not quite self-loathing, but indignant confusion at my past self. How had these seemed like a good idea, or even an acceptable bad idea? Who wanted maple-flavored Cheetos? Why had 7-11 manufactured them at all? The thought that they were making food deliberately for people like me, sad snack-food suckers with no better excuse than our own fundamentally perverse tastes, was deeply depressing. I focused on my week of prepped meals in the freezer and, when forced into it by mid-work-shift hunger, regular snacks. Nobody judges someone who eats M&Ms. Everyone judges the person who eats Maple Poofy Puffs.

Obviously, I'd never planned on bringing them to work. People in my department had this funny idea that I was a reasonably competent, grown adult; walking in with that bag would have been like showing up shirtless, like cracking the wrong joke at the wrong time. Like admitting to my diseases, which are many, and depressingly often relate to snack food.

On Friday night, though, I was hungry for something sweet and too demotivated to go out for it. We were out of cereal, or granola bars, or anything sweet that could still masquerade as actual food; it was down to me and the Maple Poofy Puffs. I grabbed them, stalked back to my desk, and considered closing my office door. I considered covering my head with a cloth to conceal myself from God, like a French nobleman eating a whole Ortolan bunting. I considered just throwing the drat things out.

I opened the bag.

The Maple Poofy Puffs were mostly maple-y, with that little edge of nothing you always get from extruded puff snacks. They were fine, but I'm not sure I'd buy them again.

rat-born cock
Apr 3, 2017


"Garbage! Trash! Offal! Debris! Come and get it! Nothing whole or undamaged! Crap, tripe, and useless piles of shit. You know you want it."


Entry submissions are now closed, thank you for everyone who didn't write porn.

Good luck, judgment will happen when I goddamn say it happens, so don't give me any grief about it.

Yoruichi
Sep 21, 2017


Horse Facts

True and Interesting Facts about Horse




F

J

G

J

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012





Next two people to quote this post and tell me the title of one of their TD entries will get line crits from me.

The Good News:

If you miss this opportunity, I'll probably do it again soon once I know how long it takes me to process your turdwords in my editing windmill

The Bad News:

You have to get a crit from me, noted mediocre writer and inexperienced rear end in a top hat

Uranium Phoenix
Jun 20, 2007


RADIOACTIVE DUST SURGE DETECTED





MockingQuantum posted:

Next two people to quote this post and tell me the title of one of their TD entries will get line crits from me.

The Good News:

If you miss this opportunity, I'll probably do it again soon once I know how long it takes me to process your turdwords in my editing windmill

The Bad News:

You have to get a crit from me, noted mediocre writer and inexperienced rear end in a top hat

The Conquest of Paradise

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


MockingQuantum posted:

Next two people to quote this post and tell me the title of one of their TD entries will get line crits from me.

The Good News:

If you miss this opportunity, I'll probably do it again soon once I know how long it takes me to process your turdwords in my editing windmill

The Bad News:

You have to get a crit from me, noted mediocre writer and inexperienced rear end in a top hat

Mind Rebel

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012








Alright there are my two hapless victims willing writers, stay tuned to this channel for some steaming piles of critique

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


Dunno why I thought I could climb a volcano and post a story on the same day, but I did write a (dumb, bad) story and now I'm posting it.

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

And it was just a stupid cup
(800 words)

This was a very long joke about Lancelot in a bar for some reason.

Dr. Kloctopussy fucked around with this message at 22:35 on Jan 10, 2021

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012





Interprompt: the circus is in town and you are a freelance clown
250 words

Mrenda
Mar 14, 2012



Interprompt: the circus is in town and you are a freelance clown

For sale: clown shoes, too small.

Thranguy
Apr 21, 2010

Yes, the good words are gone.

Why are the good words gone?!




MockingQuantum posted:

Interprompt: the circus is in town and you are a freelance clown
250 words

Clown walks into an unemployment office. The clerk looks at his records, says "There are no clown jobs in town. All full. Circus glutted the market. But good news: I see you have other marketable skills. You were trained as a proctologist. Lots of work there."

Clown shakes his head in sorry and anger.

"Butt doctor? I am Pagliacci!"

Dr. Kloctopussy
Apr 22, 2003

"It's time....to DIE!"


MockingQuantum posted:

Interprompt: the circus is in town and you are a freelance clown
250 words

I approach the tent with dread. It's difficult to overcome my natural disinclination towards asking people for things, but I really need this money to support my secret research on spacetime manipulation and how to lessen its effects on humans without a tentacled alien symbiote.

“Excuse me,” I say, to the monkey who passes for the HR/accounting department of this circus, “but when you were in town last year, I performed my unique time travel/octopus-based clown routine, which, I might add, was very popular with the audience, and, well, I still have not received the agreed-upon payment.”

“Oooh,” says the monkey.

“Yes, I sent you an invoice.”

“Ooh?”

“Yes, it did have my correct TIN!”

The monkey points to a name tag reading “Rachel.”

“Yes, Rachel, you said in your last email, 3 months ago, that Cindy left the records a mess and it would take you time to clear things up, but that time has passed, don’t you think?”

Rachel flings all the paper in front of her into the air and plays the drum solo from Wipe Out on the desk.

“Look, I’ve jumped through enough of your hoops—both literally and figuratively—and I deserve to get paid at the very reasonable rate we agreed upon when I took the job.”

She pushes a pile of peanuts towards me.

“RadioShack doesn’t accept peanuts!” I scream, before sending her into the incomprehensible void of the between-time and taking what I’m owed from the strongbox. Much easier.

GrandmaParty
Jan 31, 2003

My LPth are Hot Garbage

Biscuit Hider

The rodeo tent is a red klaxon against the dusty neighborhood. The management office behind it is a warty portable. The line of emotionals set in front of the door circles around the block. Fat shoes slap against the pavement, worrying blisters into little feet. My caked makeup in the sun feels like a second skin that needs to be shed. The entire line reeks of whiskey and Mary Kay cast-offs.

Good clown schools were supposed to produce good clown jobs. My private clown loan is $80,000.00 and counting before they even lost their accreditation. Even my balls have a lien on them. If I can’t juggle, I can’t work, and if I can’t work, I can’t juggle. I learned to juggle everything at the same time. The light bills crosses overhead while the phone bill is only on the second notice. The impending mortgage payment is like the knife I threw in to make the act deadly.

Finally, the owner comes out and waves at me. Circuses are owned by corporations. Rodeos and carnivals are owned by whoever bought them cheapest. Every show is owned by someone who’s willing to turn their head to keep the money coming in. I go in. He tells me not to sit and asks me what I can do that the rest of these bozos can’t.

I tell him that when the bulls charge at me, I won’t run away. He shakes my hand, knowing what kind of show he’ll get.

CaligulaKangaroo
Jul 25, 2012

MAY YOUR HALLOWEEN BE AS STUPID AS MY LIFE IS


MockingQuantum posted:

Interprompt: the circus is in town and you are a freelance clown
250 words

"Big Top USA usually doesn't hire local," the promoter tells me. "But one of our clowns got sick today. So we got an extra spot in the car. What do you say, Mister Zany Bobany? You want under this tent?"

I extend a gloved hand, nearly dropping my balloon pump. "Thank you, sir!" I say to him, my smile almost as wide as the red greasepaint over it.

The next morning. I load my props in the back of my Volvo and head to the circus. When the stage manager finally crams us all in the car, the old veteran Geezer Silly-Goose shoots me a stern look. "Hey kid!" he says, honking his bright red nose to get my attention. "Don't *HONK* this up."

We burst out of the hollow Volkswagon and hit our shticks right as we hit the ground. I throw my balloon pump in the air, catching it after a somersault-cartwheel. I start making every animal I can think of. It isn’t until I start making birds and popping a few that I finally have my section of the crowd. Each time I recoil in slapstick terror, the laughs crowd bigger. I think I catch Geezer smile as I roll away from the deflating pelican.

After the show, the promoter greets me with a firm handshake. “We come back here in six months. You’re still here, you got a job.”

Big Top USA goes out of business in three.

rat-born cock
Apr 3, 2017


"Garbage! Trash! Offal! Debris! Come and get it! Nothing whole or undamaged! Crap, tripe, and useless piles of shit. You know you want it."


Crits. Judgment.

:siren: Crudgment :siren:

Some thoughts before I get to the crits and results. I liked judging this week, which is saying a lot, because when I made this prompt, I was hoping no one would sign up so I wouldn't have to read more bullshit like last time, haha. It turns out you Thunderdome people are a lot more interesting when you're not falling over yourselves to appease the status quo of writing.

A note on judging: the three judges were divided on a lot of stories. Only the winner was unanimous, everything else required some discussion and negotiating. I wanted to skip handing out a loss this week because, full disclosure, we did NOT have a definitive pick for the loss, and the only reason there is one is because your sacred writing institution demands it. I guess you people need there to be a loser even if functionally in the judging chat there isn't one. Whatever, not my contest.

Bottom line, I'm proud of you assholes. gently caress the establishment and write more weird poo poo.


:siren:Winner:siren:

Hawklad - Random Encounters

This was an easy, unanimous win pick for us judges. A few stories tried to do something like what this one did, but were either too abstract or too storyful to lock in the W. The way the story moves through its various layers is engaging, and satisfyingly unresolved. Each vignette is connected to the next, but who cares? Rocks fall, everyone dies, basically. When we were thinking about the winner for this week, we had to take into account which stories offered a pleasant reading experience while fulfilling the prompt. This one is fun without being a joke, nihilistic without being melodramatic.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

The sword is heavy and his arms hurt. He plucks an oily leech from the back of his knee, tossing it into the muck. His mouth tastes sour, like old lemons.


:siren:Honorable Mentions:siren:

Tyrannosaurus - Speak Up

The first effective joke of the week! The punchline works, which is good because I can sort of see the author doing the work trying to get there. If not for the punchline, I’m not sure how well the peppering of Yiddish would work, just because the kid kinda talks and thinks exactly like the old rabbi talks. As not-a-Jewish-person maybe I’m out of the loop, and maybe there are in fact legions of TikTok teens who sound like wizened rabbis. That aside, the punchline isn’t the only successful bit of comedy in this piece. The revelation that the 18 flashlights in the narrator’s butt might in fact portend something miraculous after all had me cracking up. Well done.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

“You have two of them in your tuchus?” he asked.

I said, “I have more than two.”

He said, “How many more?”

I said. “Eighteen.”

He said, “Why so many?”

I said, “If you buy in bulk, you get a better deal.”

He said. “No, why did you have so many in your tuchus?


CaligulaKangaroo - Noise Cancellation

This story captures the ugly, mundane experience of feeling alienated from one’s own home, and the way bullshit capitalism tries to sell us our sanity back. Maybe that wasn’t the author’s take, but it’s mine. I like that there’s no catharsis. We don’t know whether the subject succeeds or fails. All we know is the struggle to find what most humans throughout history probably took for granted: quiet.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

This is my third month here, my second week working remotely, and they’re still doing construction. Probably the same construction. Then construction holds up traffic. Then all the drivers get mad and start honking and yelling and I don’t even know what half the noises they’re making are. You get used to a certain level of noise pollution just by living in the city, but not when it’s all the noises all at once. Sunup to sundown, the room shakes from the pounding barrage of horns and jackhammers from intersection to intersection.


Thranguy - Frayed

Man, I’ll be honest with you, author. I saw that block of text, and while making a very sad face told myself, “Aight, this is what I signed up for when I told these dudes to write anti-stories.” But this story unspools like a long thread. It’s very cool how the piece starts at an incredibly close zoom-in on this couch, pulls back to give the reader some context, a sense of the minor, vital role played by the couch, then zooms back into the couch itself. This could have absolutely been a chore to read, but it was definitely worth the effort.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

(I was going to do a joke where I quoted the whole story, but that seems rude, so just pretend I did that.)


Yoruichi - Uncoping

The last time I read a story by this author it was a pornographic story about an erotically smelly space man. I was surprised when I checked the name of the person behind this story, because it’s a completely different mood. I think this is an honest, well-observed moment. We all feel the pressure to be “there”, be the hero we saw in the big Marvel action movie, or the revolutionary, but in reality, it’s the small stuff that presents the real battle. Getting out the door to go march when you’ve just lost your job and discovered the viscera that’s been lurking under your bed is hard. I was worried, as I was reading, that there would be some sort of personal development, but the author didn’t fall into that trap. At the end of the story, the protagonist is nothing but themselves, which is in that moment a person who needs to hide from the world.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

Oh god the cat’s eaten half of it how long has that been there I’ve been sleeping on top of it I can’t deal with this right now I can’t I can’t. I pulled my knees into my chest and sobbed into the worn denim. I got fired. After three years of trying and trying and being belittled and bullied they had sucked out everything they wanted and now I was nothing to them and I hated them anyway so why did I care why was I crying why

:siren:Special Head Judge Fiat Honorable Mention:siren:

One story knocked the prompt out of the park by every conceivable metric, but was a polarizing reading experience. I am Honorably Mentioning it as a personal favorite.

Mrenda - Downup A Road

Can I truly like something I don’t understand? This story makes me think the answer is yes, I can. On the surface, this reads like a song, with verses and refrains that repeat, but still that sense of forward motion. Going slightly deeper, this could be a drunken night on the town, a duo or trio of blacked out hooligans making a scene outside a chip shop, and so on. I don’t think it’s quite that simple, though. Another interpretation is that the narrator is the only character in this story and the he/you/we/I/she is a reflection of their sense of displacement from themself. There seems to be some sort of change or transformation at the end with the use of pronouns. This story really took the challenge of the prompt head-on.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

No delicate sliced puffy potatoe. We walk to the chip shop he say with no noney, empty out pockets, empty fluff, empty stone, fingernails, cut and not, hair; a loose strand, a guitar pick, a fingernail; cut.

We and chip shop find an opposition of me against you. We walked here, he, you, I, say. Now what? Someone roars? NOW THE HAT?: the—(y) roar

We walk.


:siren:Dishonorable Mentions:siren:

Some of these were decent pieces that were too story-like. Some of these were technically anti-stories, but very confusing to read. This was a challenging prompt with unusual criteria, so don't sweat it too hard if you ended up here.

Ceighk - >°))))彡

This is really unsettling. The story before this one was explicitly a dream, but this feels like a dream that closes quietly around the reader and swallows them up. I like it, but sometimes I found myself backtracking to make sure I hadn’t missed something. Objects kind of just show up in the scene with no warning, and the author never really describes the setting except in little bits at a time, though I eventually realized they are in a church of some kind. As I was reading, I realized the dreamlike, non sequitur feeling was probably intentional and stopped backtracking, just letting the story roll over me. I feel like something terrible is happening in this scene, maybe even too terrible for mortal minds to understand.

The judges had a lot of trouble with this one. We understood that it was meant to be strange and disorienting, but ultimately concluded that this piece went too far in the direction of confounding without rewarding the reader in any way.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

Meanwhile inside, everything rotted, and fast. Lichen stained across glass like ice crystals, and a persistent drip from the belfry had the wooden pews into black sludge. From under the tarpaulin was starting to smell. I hadn’t wanted to go fishing - watching the writhing creatures gasp in air they couldn’t breathe always reminded me too much of myself - but you know how the men are don’t you. Don’t you?

ZearothK - Release, but no release

In this story I think the author was trying to really draw out the struggle for the butter knife, letting readers be misled by their own interpretation of the scene until the very end. The problem isn’t with the concept, but the execution. First of all, ellipses (‘...’) should be used sparingly, if at all. Having several in the beginning of the story makes me feel like I’m reading video game text, but this story is not a video game, nor is it trying to do video game stylings. The melodrama of the protagonist’s struggle gets a little bit grating after a while, it’s very, “Oh, woes me!”.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

There was a metallic taste in my mouth, as I could recognize because I used to be an idiot kid that licked pipes, which certainly explains how I ended up in this situation.

AstronautCharlie - A Rich Tapestry

This story makes me sad, because it is too much of a story. The first part is great, with the narrative following a song playing over the radio. The problem is the entire latter chunk; in a week that was all about breaking narrative structures, the author inexplicably made the choice to tell a nice little story about a parent and child searching for the perfect Christmas tree. There’s even a cute little ending where they do indeed find a tree whose needles don’t shed. The judges talked a lot about this entry because it really made us think about our criteria for handing out mentions. How much story was too much story? It turns out this much story was too much story. If the author had stuck with the format of moving from scene to scene, they might have really had something cool, because as I mentioned before, I thought the beginning was great, really neat concept. Honestly, if the story had ended on the passage I have shared below, I might have been arguing for a HM.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

The vibrations pounded up to the roof, where a pair of young strangers shared realizations they didn’t yet know everyone had sooner or later; they’d fallen in love with an ideal they’d constructed instead of the person themself, or seen their mom crying when she thought everyone was sleep and it dawned on them how terribly human she’d always been, or they’d learned that nobody was born special. Then they looked out onto the neo-gothic buildings of the campus, and beyond into the endless forest of pine.

M. Propagandalf - Unflappable

Sorry buddy. This author is another victim of “too much story”. This is a straight up narrative with a beginning, middle, and end, and even a side helping of character development. But that’s Thunderdome, eh? Sometimes writers step up to the plate and whiff it. I’ve been there. As a minor student of sketch comedy, what this feels like to me is more of an anti-bit than an anti-story or shaggy dog story. The banter between the two characters almost reads like the back and forth between sketch comedians, except it’s really flat and there’s no, “Yes, and.” I think the author should have gone harder on that, built this up as an anti-comedy scene (without a neat and tidy little resolution). Maybe that wasn’t their intention, but it would have played much better for this week.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

The trajectory of both gobs had landed right into the slot, wetting a folded suggestion that was inside. Larry donned some gloves and grabbed a bottle of disinfectant. Wiping down the outside of the box, he paused on approaching the next step. Something about handling the suggestion made him nauseous. He wanted to dump it straight into the trash. Yet in all his time running the store, he had never ignored a suggestion that had gone into the box.

:siren:Loser.:siren:

I object to this. The judges didn't have a clear choice, but I am informed I have to pick one. Whatever.

Simply Simon - Slugger

Minor note about punctuation: as far as I know, if someone is delivering an unbroken dialog over many paragraphs, you start every paragraph with an opening quotation mark, but don’t use a closing quote until they are done speaking. Check with more reliable sources on that one.

Otherwise, this is kind of weird. The inherent absurdity of the protagonist’s pursuit of the snail shell is fun, and I like that when he dives into the pool you describe it as a sea trench. I’m not sure about the continuing metaphor of trying to gently caress a woman, though; it becomes sort of funny once he encounters the actual snail goddess (who he is completely down to gently caress), the character comes across as gross in a way that makes me want to jump straight to the part where a bad thing happens to him. To make it clear, I don’t think the character is a reflection of the author, but he is kind of lovely in a way that doesn’t make him fun to read about. He’s very one-note, everything is all like “that slutty harlot womanly shell!!” and doesn’t deviate from that much.

Finally, this is too much like a story. It’s got a framing device, and arguably a beginning, middle, and end. It’s certainly weird, and could be categorized as a vignette, but “cursed pool noodle dick” does not a shaggy dog story make. Speaking of which, that goddamn pool noodle is what pushed me over the edge for the loss. Like the author read the prompt and went, "HaHA I am going to actually waggle a pool noodle at rat-born cock!" Very bold, Simon.

I liked the author's porn story better.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

In the darkness of a sea trench, the only guiding light was the periodic flash of the tumbling shell. Surrounded by the warm embrace of the pool’s unspeakable contents, I followed it with the vigor of a hunter stalking a wounded animal. The embrace became a tight hug, then a chokehold as the pressure of the infinite depth increased. I was getting closer though, and beyond reason, and the flashes of sunless reflection became more frequent, a stroboscope light hammering my oxygen-deprived brain. In my mind’s eye, the shell’s curves became exposed buttocks bobbing away, alabaster skin taunting my caress.


:siren:Everyone else:siren:

Chopstick Dystopia - No More Plucka

Ardie is the centerpiece of this story. He chews the scenery like a film actor, and the reader instantly understands the dynamic of this bar through him. The final line about the emus was funny, but felt like it was trying a touch too hard to go for the “shaggy dog”-style ending when the story stood perfectly well on its own as a vignette.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

Ardie wore a navy-blue canvas work-shirt rolled up past the elbows. He had swollen arms and fat hands made rough from hard work in the hot sun. He clasped the cold glass of draught and lifted it up and looked through it, at Jim’s amber ghost. Then, he drank.

GrandmaParty - Third Generation

This feels autobiographical, so if it’s not, wow, you could have fooled me. Either way, this is a nice portrait of a man who is somewhat remote from the narrator, even though they’re family. The last line is kind of funny, but not so much so that it negates the bittersweet mood struck up by the rest of the story.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

While some people brought diamonds from the old country, or bank notes, or silver, my great-uncle brought a clock overseas. It was the height of a grandfather clock, only twice as wide. All along the sides, my great-grandfather had carved people. A renaissance fresco in woodcut. One afternoon, I spent forty-five minutes counting them, daubing flour on each one so I know I wouldn’t double-count them. My great-grandfather carved 94 individual people eating and drinking and laughing and dying. There was one couple, having sex in blobby woodcut fashion, and I mean really going at it. He hid that one around the back, where probably only he would know where it was.

MockingQuantum - Black Lines

Normally I would not applaud you for doing the “It was all a dream” thing, but since the rules are out the window this week, I will say that it works. I was disappointed by the dream twist, which means you succeeded at setting up a situation I was invested in. It seems like this was a lot of fun to write because you really went hogwild with the descriptive stuff. This is basically just cosmic horror, but the way you used your Sharpie item makes it unique and interesting.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

I don’t know what I’m drawing really, but the Sharpie is tethered to some snarling, spitting bit of animus in the back of my head.

Bit by bit, I was carving this gargantuan landscape out of that snowy paper canvas, lifting the skyscrapers from indistinguishable drifts until they scraped a blackened sky. I started to feel like I was waiting for bad news, as if the city was going to remind me of something inevitable and terrible that was crawling my way. I was a fixed point in space and this geography was spinning towards me, constant and unstoppable and imperturbable as a glacier.

Pththya-lyi - In Which Miss Belinda Darlington Receives an Unexpected Proposal

Bwuha. This is nihilistic and non-sequitur, but it has charm. I’m a sentimental guy so goddammit, I’m not afraid to admit that for a split second I was kind of rooting for Guy and Belinda, but in ITYOOL 2020 nothing good is going to happen to someone named ‘Guy’. I think I would have liked the ending better if it was a little more realistic, like if you had set this in Pompeii a few minutes before it was overcome by lava flows or something like that.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

A blush spread across Guy’s cheeks, which only made him look more attractive. Though the Duke’s features were too heavy, his body too large and awkward, for his fellow aristocrats to consider him handsome, there was a lack of artifice – a freshness, Belinda thought – about the man that she found charming.

Sparksbloom - Hashbrowns

The feeling I had when I finished the stories was similar to the feeling I have when I try to explain the problems of the world to my Boomer parents. The dad narrating this story is doting, in an old-fashioned masculine way, but seemingly out of touch and oblivious. I don’t know if I am supposed to dislike him, but his attitude is alarmingly that of someone who expects the status quo to return. What this amounts to is, I think the author did a good job. My only real complaint is that Jeremy’s age is a little vague. On the one hand, he needs some help pronouncing words, but on the other, the rest of his dialog reads as reasonably mature. Maybe he is an older kid with a reading issue, but that’s not stated in the story, so I don’t know.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

“One of each.” If Jeremy tried to grab the one with seltzer, I would insist he drink the juice-coffee — it seemed like this was the sort of thing that built character. I needed him to understand that, just because we lived in strange times, it didn’t mean anything had changed. I was the father, and he was the son.

When the coffee arrived, Jeremy declined both mugs, but I still made him sit in front of the one that smelled like tomatoes.

A friendly Penguin - Calculated

The way the author built up the letters is brilliant, the escalating tension in the story really had me going. Another thing I like is how smoothly the author worked in the narrator’s detachment from the world around them. This story is “about” the piece of paper on the ground, but it’s as much about the way the protagonist sleepwalks through there day, to the point where they could be confounded by a found piece of paper written in their own hand. I’m torn on the ending because I fondly remember the old calculator 80085 trick from high school. But on the other hand, I wanted it to be something a little more inscrutable. Like, this was the silver medal of possible endings the author could have selected. I don’t know what the gold medal ending would have been, but I think it would have been weirder. A person catching up to their own boob joke on the street is funny, but it was rough to go from this deliciously weird vignette to “lol boobs.”

My favorite line(s):

quote:

Driving has never allowed you to see more detail than the shops’ glowing signs, so you look at the buildings themselves. The bricks of the strip mall are… yellow. You could swear that they have always been gray. You also see that the parking lot has a faint reddish tinge. Wasn’t it just black? And the piece of paper is stuck in a crack that branches from a hole in which a parking meter stands. Did anyone pay to park here?

There is a car parked in that very spot, but the screen flashes red: out of time. You think about adding some money so that the car doesn’t get a ticket, but there are no slots for coins. Only a square barcode for scanning. When did parking meters become digital?

Saucy_Rodent - A Story in Which Our Hero, Brian, Most Certainly Does Not Jerk Off

Not too much to say about this one. I chuckled. This story reminded me of some of the rude long-form jokes my friends and I would tell each other as teens, only compressed for the 800 word limit. I think it’s pretty funny how the story escalates to JERKING OFF CAUSES COVID. It’s funny, but when it came time to hand out mentions I didn’t think about it much, because it isn’t as weird as some of the other stories this week.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

Brian was sad about losing his inheritance, but at least he had his lotion. He continued his walk gaily, passing by a TV store where the TVs blared the days biggest headline: SCIENTISTS FIND JERKING OFF CAUSES COVID.

Sebmojo - A Pathless Way

This was on my shortlist for potential HMs, but never quite got there. The writing is intentional and pleasant to read. The author seems to have a steady hand with what they are trying to say. I tend to agree with part of the premise of the piece, which is that in all of the universe there are going to be some things that are just uncannily so, like a flipped coin that miraculously lands on the skinny side. But it seemed to me that the author wasn’t content to let us think our own thoughts about this miracle, they had to opine in the final line of the story that we should accept things as they are and not wish for them to be otherwise. The “don’t bother wishing for them to be otherwise” part is confusing because, why would anyone wish “otherwise” for an unwalked-on patch of sidewalk? It’s like the author decided to end on a Moral Of The Story, but for a slightly different story. The conclusion doesn’t connect to the otherwise fascinating exploration of a thing that is incredibly, impossibly, inexplicably just so.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

No ants have walked on the footpath either, they didn’t find the crack and delve into it, antennae and pedipalps twitching. They could have, but they didn’t. I don’t know what they would have found if they’d looked, perhaps it wouldn’t have me their needs. But no-one has looked down, while walking on this surface and seen an ant, glossy and industrious, then, struck by a sudden curiosity knelt down, seeing more and more of the ants compatriots and colleagues, traced the trail to a single crack in the surface. No-one has put their face close to the sun-warmed tarmac, noticing the fractally intricate array of tiny little stones, grey and black and white and sparkling.

Antivehicular - My Week With The Maple Poofy Puffs

Oh boy. This author is speakin’ my language, haha. It should be a crime to put the ill-advised crunchy snacks next to the beer section because they get me every time. This was another story that was on my very large HM shortlist. I really liked the author’s insight into what I imagine is a common, quiet indignity. There’s no real character development, no deep insight into human nature (which, for this week, is good), but there is honesty and good observations. I’m not sure what kept this one off the mention list, other than we had to narrow down from a lot of options. The author should feel good about their observational skills and ability to write a mundane moment with authorial flare.

Dr. Kloctopussy - and it was just a stupid cup

This is a DQ but eh. I decided to read this story to see if it was worth giving a crit on, and it’s actually got a funny premise executed well. Good job. I wish this was a valid entry.

My favorite line(s):

quote:

And you wish you could tell people, and they wouldn’t laugh, because it hardly counts if they laugh, that your name isn’t actually Lance, it’s Lancelot. And yes, you do like lances a lot, so what?

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


pramp't

Freakie
Oct 30, 2013


Week 417 Crits: I Have no Idea What I'm Talking About Edition :negative:

No More Plucka (Chopstick Dystopia)
This was a marked improvement over last week’s story! I think you have a really unique style, owing in part to your insistence on writing so much in Australian English that would make Saxton Hale proud, and it serves you well in this story; although keep in mind it’s a little heavy in terms of reading comprehension for people who aren’t familiar with the lingo.

In terms of the story itself, I think it’s good, and the twist definitely works, although the opening is a little oddly worded? It’s a little over the top, even considering the mood of the story in general. Overall I like it, though..


Downup A Road (Mrenda)
I’m very confused by this one. I’m guessing it was intentional on your part, but I can’t find a meaningful pattern in the story, and nothing really appears to be going on in it, even for an anti- or a non-story. Rat-born gave his reasons for the HM, but personally I didn’t see it. Sorry.


Third Generation (GrandmaParty)
It’s hard to gauge whether this is an improvement over your first entry, given the nature of the prompt, but I do think there’s less to critique here. It’s a pretty simple story, and there’s not really much to say here other than that the clock double entendre gave me a chuckle. Definitely keep up the good work!


Black Lines (MockingQuantum)
I think this story is fine, in fact I think it’s pretty tense. The cop-out on the monster also works perfectly for the prompt, so kudos there. One thing to note is that your second paragraph is written in present tense, while the rest of the story is in past tense, which is kind of a bummer, but other than that I don’t think there’s anything to note.


>°))))彡 (Ceighk)
Okay, so two things I noticed here. First, this needed an extra read or two. A lot of words are missing in sentences and some sentences are syntactically incorrect to the point that they’re not very clear, and it’s often.

Second, I wasn’t really sure what was going on. It looks like you’re trying to make some sort of parallel or analog to the characters being fish in some sense, but it all feels very detached from reality? A lot of the imagery also seemed to miss me.

All in all it was too disorienting to read.


Slugger (Simply Simon)
This feels a little verbose, and the story itself seems to meander a little over the place in terms of what it’s trying to say (initially, that is), but I feel the biggest shortcoming of this story is that it drags on a bit too long. Halfway through the story it becomes pretty clear what it’s leading to, but you end up going on about the same things for a few paragraphs too many, and that ends up outstaying its welcome.


Speak Up (Tyrannosaurus)
I don’t have too much to say here. I think it was a pretty funny idea, the humor is good, and the rabbi is great. I’m a little ambivalent on the ending, though; it’s like it’s teetering on the edge of having a payoff and not, so it doesn’t qualify as either. I did enjoy the characters and the ridiculous premise, however.


Noise Cancellation (CaligulaKangaroo)
I like this one a lot. I don’t really have anything worthwhile to critique here; it’s written very well, and the ending is very well executed. That’s it.


In Which Miss Belinda Darlington Receives and Unexpected Proposal (Pththya-lyi)
A solid story here. The setup to the anti-climax (that is, the body of the story) here is very good, but I think the ending is a little *too* random for my liking, even though it functionally works as an anti-climax. I think I would’ve liked it better if you had chosen to end it some other way, but really it’s a small issue.


Frayed (Thranguy)
So. This one’s very intimidating at a first glance (and it’s hell trying to read), but you clearly knew what you were doing when you wrote this, and it somehow works. I like the fact that you manage to finish the setup (the couch) and connect it to the end of the story, which adds some sorely needed cohesion to the story.

The greatest strength of the story, as well as weakness, is obviously the formatting; I commend you for making a conscious effort that is surprisingly legible and coherent, but at the same time, it is really difficult to keep the train of thought going with the way it’s formatted. There’s a lot of novelty to this.


Release, but no release (ZearothK)
Gonna break from the other judges here: I liked this one a lot, actually. My only real critique is that the language might not be as colorful as some of the other entries, but it’s not a big problem in the grand scheme of things, as you’ve clearly got your own style as is.


Hashbrowns (Sparksbloom)
It’s a safe story, but I like it. There’s a lot of small things that add a lot here, and the opening dialogue with Jeremy is pretty funny. I’m very bothered by the fact that “the real story” is never elaborated, but that’s in the spirit of the prompt, so in this case it’s really a bonus.


Uncoping (Yoruichi)
Mixed opinions on this one. It’s a gloomy story, but I think it’s grounded and relatable to a lot of people. I also like the way you handled the flash rule, even if it wasn’t immediately obvious to me how it factored into the story. That said, the story didn’t capture me as much as I feel like it should have, though not through any fault of your writing ability. I think it might just be too dark for the prompt, which mostly encourages whimsical stories.


Calculated (a friendly penguin)
I liked the payoff of the joke here (hehe boobs), but something about the story didn’t vibe with me. I think it’s a good story, I like that the character is exploring the world as much as the reader is, but I think the focus on the letter is throwing me off, somehow? I’m not sure, but I didn’t find that part as interesting as the general exploration of the world.


A Rich Tapestry (AstronautCharlie)
This one was a pleasant surprise after last week! There’s still a lot to work on, but it’s a big improvement. That said, I’m curious about your choice for the opening. It’s pretty much a series of non-sequiturs that only tangentially relate to the story, and I also think it’s a little too verbose. All in all the “establishing shots” are completely unnecessary, and I don’t think you would’ve really lost anything by cutting them.

The story itself isn’t terrible, but it still feels a little off. The dad makes an apparent complete 180 in the span of a couple lines, and I think you also missed the prompt here. You’re kind of allowing a resolution here, and you’re not playing with the rules of storytelling or attempting some kind of joke here. It has the potential to be a feel-good story, but this week wasn’t the time to write this one.


Random Encounters (Hawklad)
This one kind of blew me away. Not immediately; the first half on itself isn’t immediately noteworthy, but the way you intertwined the two narratives in the second half was really creative and it works so well! None of the parallels between each narrative feel out of place, and I think you handled the prompt perfectly. I have nothing bad to say here, everything just falls so neatly into place.


Unflappable (M. Propagandalf)
I like this one, but it has a few issues. I can’t really tell to which extent the setting is supposed to be fictional, and that kind of threw me off trying to read it, but it’s a minor complaint overall. I also think you missed the prompt here, as the ending provides a resolution to the conflict in the story. Like I said, I did like this, and I found it quite funny, but it just didn’t live up to the prompt.


A Story in Which Our Hero, Brian, Most Certainly Does Not Jerk Off (Saucy_Rodent)
I want to say this is an innocent little story, but given the nature of its contents, that would be a lie. It’s a pretty ridiculous premise, and the world presented is equally so; overall I liked this one. it’s definitely on the shorter side but it’s funny and the characters are quirky, although at times the dialogue feels a bit stilted (for lack of a better word), and I think the ending kind of ruins it.

I’m not saying you should’ve gone a different direction, but the ending feels undercooked as it is. I think you would have been better off focusing on the bottle once he’s in the house, teasing the reader before the actual anticlimax; you’re got a great setup for a final joke, and that’s what I feel is really missing for this story to come together.


A Pathless Way (sebmojo)
I like this one, but I’m not sure what to make of it. It’s more of a non-story, really, and I honestly don’t know what there is to critique here. It’s well-written, but it’s hard to get invested in a story where there is so little that stands out, I suppose.


My Week With The Maple Poofy Puffs (Antivehicular)
This one was grounded and relatable to me. I don’t have a lot to say, but if there is one thing, it’s that snacks aren’t a particularly impressive object to build hype around. Granted, it’s what the prompt specified, but I feel that it hampers the story a little, even considering the premise of the prompt..


And it was just a stupid cup (Dr. Klocktopussy)
You wrote this on a Sunday? Wow, ok.

I like this a lot. It’s a fun, slightly nonsensical vignette that doesn’t really go anywhere. I think it has a little too much of a resolution at the end to fully fit the prompt, but it’s still very much in the spirit of a shaggy dog story. It’s just a shame you arrived so late.

Simply Simon
Nov 6, 2010

📡scanning🛰️ for good game 🎮design🦔🦔🦔


rat-born cock posted:

Speaking of which, that goddamn pool noodle is what pushed me over the edge for the loss. Like the author read the prompt and went, "HaHA I am going to actually waggle a pool noodle at rat-born cock!"
Those were in fact my exact thoughts! Whatcha gonna do, brawl me about it?

Chopstick Dystopia
Jun 16, 2010


lowest high and highest low loser of: WEED WEE
k


Thank you for the crits and crudgment!

Hawklad
May 3, 2003


College Slice

Thunderdome Week 418: Ancillary Action!

One of my favorite plays is Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, which follows the escapades of two minor characters from Hamlet, set simultaneous to the events of Shakespeare’s most famous play. This week we are going to tread a similar path, by writing an original story that inhabits the same timeframe/universe of a more famous work, but instead features a minor character(s) from that work. Here’s another example of this idea, courtesy of Robot Chicken: Wrong Place Wrong Time

A couple of key points: This is not fan fiction! Your story should NOT feature main characters from the original work, although they can be included or referenced in passing. Yes, you are borrowing a setting, possibly some characters, and maybe some events from a pre-existing story. However, the challenge is to create something that is original and totally different from the original work, yet still exists comfortably in parallel to it. Events from the original work can be incorporated into your story, but focus on how your new protagonists would influence/react to them, as in the examples above. Feel free to invent new characters to flesh our your story as well.

For your original works, choose a movie from this list, brought to us by the esteemed Hollywood Reporter:
Hollywood's 100 Favorite Films

If you really, really, really want to choose a film not on that list, gently caress you, fine, but you must :toxx: and I will assign you a hellrule. You can also :toxx: for 200 extra words, and I’ll give you a line or two from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead to inspire you.

You do NOT need to claim a movie to enter, unless you're choosing something not from the list.

Word Limit: 1000
Sign ups due: Friday, August 7st, by midnight Mountain Standard Time
Submissions due: Sunday, August 9th, midnight MST.


Judges:
1. Hawklad
2. sparksbloom
3. GrandmaParty

Entrants:
1. Saucy_Rodent (2001)
2. CaligulaKangaroo (The Dark Knight)
3. Chopstick Dystopia (Blade Runner)
4. AstronautCharlie (Die Hard)
5. MockingQuantum (Alien)
6. cptn_dr :toxx:
7. Something Else (Ghostbusters)
8. steeltoedsneakers :toxx:
9. Thranguy (Space Jam) :toxx:
10. Noah
11. AlmightyDerelict (LOTR-Fellowship) :toxx:
12. a friendly penguin (The Big Lebowski)
13. Simply Simon (Groundhog Day)
14. crabrock (Jurassic Park)
15. Tyrannosaurus

Hawklad fucked around with this message at 16:33 on Aug 8, 2020

Saucy_Rodent
Oct 24, 2018

by Pragmatica


In, 2001

CaligulaKangaroo
Jul 25, 2012

MAY YOUR HALLOWEEN BE AS STUPID AS MY LIFE IS


In

With The Dark Knight!

GrandmaParty
Jan 31, 2003

My LPth are Hot Garbage

Biscuit Hider

Yo, let me take my turn in the judge's barrel this week.

Chopstick Dystopia
Jun 16, 2010


lowest high and highest low loser of: WEED WEE
k


In. Blade Runner.

sparksbloom
Apr 30, 2006


I'm third judge

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012





Linecrit Time!
Alright UP, line crits are in the quote, general thoughts to follow.

Uranium Phoenix posted:

The Conquest of Paradise
1723 of 1727 words

The last memories of Texzalicah linger with us, the last remnant of its people. The Conquerors took everything when they came across the great ocean in their ships, and now we hide atop the mountains in Azith, the last unconquered city. This feels like just flat-out exposition, but it's evocative. I would complain about it more but I like the reversal in the next paragraph.

I join those memories in my chamber, lazing on my cushions, even as the light rays cracking through the glass windows stand. This sentence reads very awkwardly to me, is this correct? I feel like as it reads, it's saying that the "light rays stand" which seems weird. Should it be "even as the light rays crack through the window"? Regardless, it's not clear. Drug-addled by patec-cactus root, I watch the spirits of my ancestors drift by, yearning for their wisdom, their stories—their lives. The glory of Texzalicah before it Before what? It's unclear what you're referencing here. was lost. I see glimpses of their bright-dyed garb, decorated by macaw feathers. Distantly, I hear their rascas, flutes and drums, playing songs from my childhood, but when I focus on them, their harmonies fade. In a way, this is the real first paragraph of your story proper, since the first one is kind of a fakeout. With that in mind, I think it does a good job of giving us a peek into our narrator, she's someone who longs after the past to the point of self-medicating to experience it.

I hardly notice the merfolk come in. With his bright-scaled flesh and coral armor, he seems at first like a spirit. I had to re-read this, though briefly. I think my mind wanted it to say "he seems at first to be another spirit" And he is wearing his legs, not his fish tail. It shouldn’t surprise me, given we’re on a mountain, "As you know, Bob, we're on a mountain." It's not terrible, but I suspect there's a less overt and more useful/descriptive way to establish what you're saying here-- it's a big loving deal that a fishdude lugged his way up a mountain. but when I realize what he is, I blink. Okay, I'm guilty of this too so I'll just own up to it: blinks are not evocative of shock and realization in the way we want them to be. It feels prosaic and small in a way that I think runs counter to what you're trying to convey in this paragraph. The last time I’d seen a merman, I was a girl, fleeing along the edge of the Crater Sea toward the heights. Towards Azith. Why have the merfolk sent someone to us?

“So this is what she has come to,” he says, shaking his head. Does he know me? Does he? This is kind of a strange aside as, at least by my reading, it isn't really relevant later in the story. If you're trying to establish that Necahua is a person of note, this paragraph doesn't quite pull it off. If you're not, I'm not sure what this paragraph is meant to do, and I'd chuck it.

Xochi, my old mentor and surrogate father, stands by the merman, but he doesn’t look disappointed. He looks scared. I get what you're conveying with this disappointed/scared moment but it feels a little pedestrian, similar to the blink above. They're both moments that don't feel like they stand up to the level of prose that's exhibited in the rest of the story. “Necahua,” he says. “Did you not hear the trumpets? They’re coming. We have to go.”

A spirit dances in front of me, a blur of color, and my eyes watch it pass. I like "and my eyes watch it pass". It conveys the sort of drugged-up disconnection that I'd expect given the second paragraph's scene-setting. I'd kind of like more of that sort of language and phrasing in this beginning section to really key me in to Necahua's mental state.

“Aolan, they’re coming,” Xochi repeats, this time to the merfolk.

“Who?” I ask, not because I don’t know, but because I don’t want to believe it. Azith is the hidden city. This feels like the merman-mountain moment earlier. I think it bears repeating that Azith is this hidden city in the mountains, because it makes the invasion feel more momentous and threatening, but I think there's probably a way to remind us of the fact while also giving us something more, be it description or some aspect of Necahua's character. I'd maybe zoom out momentarily, maybe Necahua imagines the invaders amassing around Azith's walls, tucked away among the peaks, or similar. How did they find us? And why would they bother chasing after this last remnant of a remnant? I'm not sold on "last remnant of a remnant". I'm not crazy about the phrasing in general, which feels clunky to me, but at the very least I think the word "last" is redundant here.

“The Conquerors,” Aolan says. “We don’t have time for this.” The merman bends down and picks me up, tossing me over his shoulder like a sack of maize.

“The root…” I mumble, reaching for the sack of patec-cactus. There’s so little left.

Xochi grabs the sack, but keeps it far from my reaching fingers. “This is for communing with our ancestors, for sacred rites! Not for… this.” Not for you to linger in the past, wishing you were there, he means. "linger in the past"/"wishing you were there" feels a bit redundant to me. If you want to emphasize Necahua's backwards-longing personality, I'd vary the color or feeling of the second phrase. "Wishing you were there" doesn't add much here.

“Spear…” I say as Aolan carries me out the door, and he hesitates.

He ducks back through the door, Okay, just a heads-up, this (after "the door") is the first of a number of commas that I think you could lose outright. More on that later. and grabs it, holding it with the hand not wrapped around my legs. I do this a lot, get very specific in the blocking and physical action of the scene. It rarely adds much. I think you could get away with "holding it with his free hand" especially since the "tossing me over his shoulder like a sack of maize" is both plenty clear and flavorful without this specificity. The last possession of my family. My mother’s spear, and before that, her mother’s, and before that—

Htuali. Her blood still stains the stones of distant Texzalicah. I like this paragraph and wish there was a little more of this sort of thing throughout. Really the only think I know about Necahua (at this point in the story) is that she's obsessed, possibly too obsessed, with the past.

I hear the trumpets now. Short, panicked blasts, and with them, the shouting. We have spent our days tilling arid soil, farming the old tiered gardens, not fighting, not preparing. Now, all is lost again. I think the previous is another sentence that neither says much nor adds anything to this paragraph. I tilt my head to see. My people are gathering up the alpacas, sacks of food and a few possessions. Running. Again. Because my grandmother was right. They will not rest until no one even I'm not sure this needs "even." It sets a more conversational tone than without it. If I go off the deep end on hypothesizing, I could believe her grandmother did say it exactly like that, but given that Necahua clearly mythologizes the past, I also could believe her remembering this pronouncement as being much more momentous and prophetic in tone than it really was. remembers we were once here.

There is another figure, where? but she’s not running. She is standing, black regal hair blowing as if amidst a storm, arms pushed out as if warding back some great force. Her eyes meet mine. Ixtia. My twin sister. But you died, I think. I reach for her— I like everything here up to "My twin sister." After that it loses some magic, but I think you could sustain this vision to the end of the paragraph in a compelling way. This is really the second concrete aspect of Necahua's character that I learn (she has a dead twin sister and this is a BIG loving DEAL to her) and I wish it was a little more revealing of Necahua's personality and emotional state.

--and my head smacks against Aolan’s armor as he jostles me down the stone steps. Dazed, I hear another noise. Shouting, don't need this comma. It feels like you're trying to parallel the previous sentence but I don't think it works. in that cursed language, and the thunder-roar of pistols. The Conquerors are here. Now. I don't think you need the "now," it's just gilding the lily. I also don't think you need "here" italicized. Let the prose stand without ornamentation and I think the gravity will still be communicated.

I blink, trying to clear my head, my heart pounding. Suddenly, it becomes real. I don't think you need the previous sentence. It's a nothingburger of a sentence, and personally I think "Suddenly, (something happens)" is a bad construction pretty much anywhere it's used, because the comma is inherently a pause in the sentence, so it's actively working against the use of "Suddenly." Regardless, I don't think the sentence is doing enough work here to warrant it slowing down the prose. I hear the clatter of steel armor, and another pistol roar. Then a scream.

Aolan puts me down. “I need you to run with us,” he says, and draws his shark-bone blade. “My magic is weak here. I cannot carry you down the mountain. Can you hold your spear?”

I blink, and it’s not Aolan, standing there in his bright red and teal armor. It’s a woman, red, gold, and white this reads a little awkwardly, like the word "woman" is part of the list of colors. Also where are the feathers? What are they? Does she have feathers? Are they attached to something? feathers splayed out, wearing armor that glimmers silver, but not as the metal. This last phrase (but not as the metal) also reads awkwardly. You could go straight through, a la "armor that glimmers silver, full of starlight." It is full of starlight. She holds a spear in her hand of pure obsidian. Feathers trail from the crossguard, Are these the same feathers? Is this where they were hiding all along? burning like sunfire.

She hands me the spear, and I reach for it, in awe. I'll expound on commas at the end, but I just wanted to point out that this is one instance where I think they're effective.

As my fingers grasp it, the spirit vanishes. I am holding my own unadorned spear.

“Run!” Xochi says.

My legs feel unfamiliar, but I stumble after the towering merman and Xochi. There’s screaming behind me, and I hear the wet-cut of steel through flesh. A small avalanche of potatoes bounce past me. The people behind me are throwing down their goods. But they can’t. We need that food to survive. I'm not sold on the italics (is it your emphasis as the author, or Necahua's?) but overall I like this paragraph as a good shorthand for chaos.

I grip my spear and turn. Spirits still flicker in my peripherals, I don't like this word choice. It makes me think of wireless mice and drawing tablets, not peripheral vision. but I focus my gaze on the pursuers. They’re finishing butchering an old man, The previous is awkward. "[are] finishing butchering" is too clunky for this moment, I think. I think even if they're just butchering an old man, I'll know he's dead. Butchers aren't known for the recovery rate of their charges. steel cutlasses dripping red, steel cuirasses splattered with blood. Conquerors. Demons. I like what you're doing here but weirdly "red" and "blood" feel a little sterile and pedestrian for this moment, imho.

There are four of them, right here. Don't need the "right here" imo. We're watching this scene unfold from basically over Necahua's shoulder, so it feels anally specific in this instance. Three, I think you should definitely lose this comma. wielding blades, and a Priest of Chains, arms wrapped in thin silver links, holding a staff of iron. A cursed wielder of Forged magic. But I wear no metal, so his power over me is weak. This whole bit about the Forged magic and not wearing metal doesn't belong. I get that it might be relevant in the context of the prompt being "write the first chapter of a book" but it sticks out like a sore thumb. You do a good enough job establishing metal as a Conqueror thing, and "natural" materials (obsidian, feathers) as Azith things, I don't really need to know what Forged magic is or that metal is important to it, since it doesn't functionally come up again in the course of the story. But the phrasing here, along with the capital-f Forged, makes it seem like it will be of immense importance. Even if this was the first chapter of a longer work and I knew Forged magic would come up again, it would either need to be expanded on now or shortly after, or get cut and expanded on in a future chapter when I'm not trying to follow more interesting action.

The tail-end of the survivors I don't like this phrasing. I get what you're saying, but it's kind of a weird subject/verb disagreement (along with "flees" later) here. My brain wants it to be "The tail-end of the group of survivors" but that doesn't really feel less awkward. flees past me, and I stand in front of the soldiers, snarling. They hesitate, and then charge. Blah. It's fine as blocking, but boring. I'm on the fence with how the Conquerors are depicted in the story. I like the steel, gunpowder, conquistador sort of imagery you've constructed, but when we actually encounter them they feel like a faceless mass. Which is fine, but you sort of implicitly tell us earlier that they're an implacable, ruthless faceless mass that's intent on the complete obliteration of Necahua's people, so sentences like "They hesitate, and then charge" aren't pulling their weight in supporting that image.

Xochi’s training comes to me, unhindered by thought. I dodge, stabbing forward as I do. My obsidian tip finds a gap in one man’s armor, and he curses as he falls back, clutching the wound. I dodge back again, spirits whispering where the stone steps are, warding back the now-cautious swordsmen with feints and jabs.

The silver chains on the priest begin to smolder, and he sends shards of flame at me. I smash one with my spear, then fall back, hissing. I feel the burns on my thigh and ribs. Ghostly chains form between my wound and the priest, and I feel sluggish. I like this paragraph.

The man I wounded has finished reloading his pistol. I get why this is by itself but it almost preempts the drama of the shot by standing out so much.

I leap forward, my spear finding the neck of one swordsman, then draw it back, spin, and sweep the legs of the other, sending him crashing down the steps. I kick him in the face.

Then, I hear the thunder-crack, see the smoking pistol barrel, and fall to the ground. I clutch my stomach, blood bubbling past my fingers. The pain is sharp. Behind the four men I faced, I see more men in gleaming steel. At the edges of my vision, the spirits approach.

Dead, I realize. I am

Dimly, I hear footsteps behind me, hear a shout— I'm not sure you need this line, it kind of undercuts the moment. Unless you want to undercut her being shot, but if you do, I'm clear on why.

And my vision fades to black.

***

The world grows brighter, all aflame with golden light. I am flying, wings of rainbow buoying me up, and I see it—the Suncity. "Suncity" reads weirdly to me. I initially thought it was a misspelling of "Sanctity" or something. Not a big deal, but Sun-city or Sun City would be less ambiguous, and my brain wouldn't try to pronounce it like "sanctity." It lies atop a gold disk, circled by bands of stars and sacred birds. Great step pyramids of stone tower above the houses. It is as Texzalicah in its glory was described to me, but vast beyond measure. It stretches across the great disk farther than I can see. Overall, I really like this paragraph. This story is at its strongest, I think, when you take the time to zoom out and give us a sense of place.

I approach the grand gates, and they open.

And the spirits pour forth.

I throw my hands up as they emerge, I'd kill the comma after "emerge," but keep the one one after "thousands." As it stands the sentence tries too hard to make "thousands" feel surprising (which it kind of won't, since you described the spirits as pouring forth earlier). If you delete the first one, then "by the millions" feels more momentous, and the sentence doesn't slow down the moment. by the thousands, by the millions, but I see them through my flesh, through my hands and closed eyes. Spirits of the dead, suddenly stretching across the horizon. From their bright clothing, I know them as my own people. They bear the wounds that killed them. A gaping hole the chest. A red line across the neck. Iron chains the conquerors had put on them in life. But most bear the mark of the pox. Those black-bubbled blisters. Nine in every ten have them.

I’d heard about it, as a child. The plagues that had preceded the Conquest. But seeing it… The subject disagreement between "it" and "plagues" here almost makes it seem like "it" refers to something else entirely.

A woman steps forth, the one I’d seen before, blazing bright in red and yellow feathers, white and silver dress like the stars, holding that obsidian spear. Her eyes speak. There is someone who was supposed to meet me here, in this afterlife.

“Where is my sister?” I ask.

The woman points behind me, and I turn. Even though it is nowhere near me, I see another place. Another afterlife.

There is a raging river, black waters full of wailing souls. The River of Death. Lore of the Conquerors, not ours. Its putrid waters move toward a lightless, burning gate, and there, Don't need the previous comma, it's not helping. the souls are shredded. But where…? I get what you're doing here but I don't think "But where...?" adds anything here. It feels like an artificial attempt to force us to see this moment through Necahua's eyes, but I think the following paragraph does that fine.
And then I see her. Amidst the raging waters is Ixtia. Great chains of burning iron bind her to the Gate of Oblivion, so she cannot join us. She is fighting, holding fast against the river. But slowly, inexorably, it drags her with it. Her resolute eyes meet mine again.

“Ixtia!” I call, the tears coming fast. Calling is not enough. I scream it. “IXTIA!”

The vision fades, and I turn to the woman in splendor.

“How do I help her?” I plead. “Now I am dead too, and my people…”

I fall to my knees. I feel my own soul, I think you could lose this comma, unless you want to convey that Necahua stops to ponder her soul before realizing it's getting dragged back. I personally think it unnecessarily slows down this moment. being dragged into the Suncity. I had thought I would see her again, but now I know. An eternity without her. Ten years without her has been its own hell.

Free our people, the woman says, words not a sound, but a feeling. Take back our land. Break the chains

“But I am here. It is too late for me.”

Too many, she says, and the wall of spirits around her chants it too. Too many! Too many dead! They wail, their sorrow stretching out as infinite as the city.

It is not your time. Remember….

***

My eyes flutter open.

I hear Xochi speaking. “How bad?”

“Bad,” Aolan says. The merman is wheezing through his gills.

I see his shark-bone sword dangling from his hand, so soaked with blood that it still leaves a trail. His own blue blood trickles down his armor.

I smell smoke. Groaning, I twist my head to look. In the distance, Azith is burning, a great column of black clawing at the sky.

And the world is black again. I am absolutely guilty of this in like 90% of my stories and will probably continue to do it because it feels so good to write but honestly the mic-drop single-sentence paragraph TD entry ending™ rarely actually works well. I think tacking it to the end of the previous paragraph would still be powerful while sticking out less.

Okay so there's the line crit. Generally I liked this story a lot, there were some really cool and evocative moments in it, and I enjoyed the ride. I do feel like you could give us more sense of who Necahua is. Functionally the two things I know about her is that she has a dead sister, and that she drugs herself to see the past glory of her people. I think the story would have worked better if those two aspects were tied together more clearly together, or if one was a symptom or reflection of the other. I'd also like to see more of that sort of backwards-longing personality expressed in the prose, in the way she views events, in the way she describes the world around her.

Almost without fail, the moments I liked best were when you took the time to open up descriptively and give me a sense of the grandeur and beauty of this world that was being threatened. Conversely, I think the story was weakest when you dove into moment-to-moment, highly-specific blocking or physical description (blinking, groaning, turning heads, etc). That sort of over-the-shoulder view of action is important, if not outright necessary for highly physical moments (i.e. the fight, where it worked well) but kind of falls flat elsewhere.

Finally, let's talk about commas. You use a lot of commas in this story to extend sentences or draw out description. Sometimes it works well, but I'd say the majority of the commas instead give the writing a stilted, herky-jerky quality that makes it hard to read. Commas function as a pause or breath, so including them in the active moments of the story tended to only slow down the action, and more often than not the opposite needed to happen. You also seem to lean on commas for a specific type of sentence construction. There's a lot of sentences that are [complete phrase, sometimes a fragment where something is happening] [comma] [gerund fragment where something else is happening simultaneously]. "I dodge, stabbing forward as I do." "I clutch my stomach, blood bubbling past my fingers."

There's nothing inherently wrong with this construction, but it's common enough that it feels like this repetitious inbreath-outbreath sort of cadence. I think if it was used sparingly and intentionally, it would lend a useful sense of action or disorientation, depending on when and how it's used. But with a lot of sentences built from these fragmentary actions, they instead start to feel like the sentences are saying "look over here, now over here" in a way that diminishes the focus and strength of the prose. Like I said, I don't think it's a construction you should (or could) eliminate entirely, but it does feel overused. Honestly it feels like the sort of wordcount-saving word-chopping trick that I find myself using a lot in TD.

AstronautCharlie
Jan 13, 2020

THUNDERDOME LOSER 2020

In, Die Hard.

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012





also, In, Alien

cptn_dr
Sep 7, 2011

Seven for beauty that blossoms and dies



In, :toxx:, I'll pick a movie when I'm not at work.

Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


The list sucks but I'll get in with Ghostbusters

MockingQuantum
Jan 20, 2012





Linecrit Time, Again!

Alright Saucy, my line crits are in bold in the quote, with general thoughts to follow.

Saucy_Rodent posted:

Mind Rebel

1769 words, Headstrong by Trapt

As Tyler furiously An adverb as the third word is a bold choice. I think it falls flat here because it doesn't actually tell me much. Is he furious? Is his lamp-grab particularly violent? Is he in a mad rush? There's too much possible nuance here for the word to be effective. Also I think the context reveals itself fine later on. grabs the lamp on the bedside table, Judy realizes that this can't be happening, because it's already happened.

Tyler will throw the lamp at her and her arms and chest will bleed and he'll be nice and sober-sounding when the cops arrive and as she sprawls sobbing on the carpet the cops will joke about how it isn't their job to solve lovers' quarrels.Nice, I now know roughly what the conceit of the piece is, and I like it.

This was years ago, but she's here now, and the more she concentrates on the moment, the more it feels like deja vu on deja vu. I'm not sold on the ending of the prior sentence. I get what you're saying but "deja vu" reads kind of clunkily on its own, imo. I can live with it, though. This isn't the first time she's re-experienced this, nor the second nor hundredth, but it may just I don't think you need this "just." be the first time she understands that you definitely don't need "that" here. it can't be real. So as the lamp hurtles towards her, she does what she felt somehow guilty about not doing the first time, and she ducks. This last sentence is kind of hard to parse. I think moving "somehow" to between "she" and "felt" is clearer (the way it is right now is fine, but harms the comprehension of the sentence, I think). I'd also lose "about" here, I think it unnecessarily extends the sentence, so losing it may also help the whole thing scan more clearly.

It feels like pushing through an invisible barrier. The air shatters around her as she breaks from the destined path. It is you need an "as" here though the world is glitching. The heavy metal posters on the wall flicker in and out of existence, and the lamp cannot decide whether it's still on the table, in Tyler's hand, or shattered on the dingy carpet. Judy runs toward the door, and I love this whole conceit to represent the time jumping. I think my instinct would be to throw in an em-dash at the end of the paragraph but it works well without. If it were up to me, I'd move "she's" up from the next paragraph to the end of this one to make it feel more abrupt, but that might kill some of the clarity.

she's driving away from the bar ten beers deep because she just heard that Tyler was cheating on her and she's gonna catch that rear end in a top hat in the act and laugh at the stupid look on his dumb face and no no no this isn't real Judy you're dreaming wake up wake up and I like the run-on nature of the "flashbacks"

something appears in the passenger's seat. It looks just like Judy. It wears a neon dress that matches its manufactured smile.

hi! says the other judy. i'm judy.

Judy looks away from the road to give her doppelganger a puzzled look. "No, I'm Judy."

yes you are, it says, as the car veers off the road. a few months ago, you attempted suicide, and thus, an experimental operation was performed to cure your depression. this was done by constructing me inside a computer, then giving me your memories and identity. i was then put in charge of the regions of this brain responsible for motor functions and sensory recognition, with certain safeguards to prevent unhappiness. the existing consciousness, you, could not be deleted outright--the technology's not quite there yet--so i had to stick you here in the memories that i, as a happy judy, don't choose to recall very often. This is great. I like the way Other-judy is rendered throughout the piece.

i assure you that everything's fine, and that our in my printed copy I marked this first "our" with "drat." life is going ok. my relationship with our parents and friends is better than ever. in order to make sure that our life continues to go so well, i must ask that you refrain from altering any more of our memories. i need you to let the events play out as they originally happened.

"You mean, continually live out the worst things that ever happened to me?" says Judy. "Absolutely not." I'm not a fan of this. It feels like writerly dialogue. I think you could recap what's going on without pulling a "Wait a minute Bob, so what you're saying is..." and give us a little more info on who Judy is in the process.

i understand your frustration. however, the existence of a happy judy relies on your continued cooperation. now, if you'll excuse me, the awesome sex i'm having with our this "our" I marked with "drat!" so good choice on that phrasing throughout, lol boyfriend requires my focused attention. goodbye.

Other-judy should "Other-judy" have an uppercase or lowercase J? It changes at least once. vanishes in a puff of smoky light, and now Judy's hanging from her seatbelt in the driver's seat of the flipped-over Saturn and

why is this guy screaming at Dad and why did he knock off Dad's kippah and now he's saying bad words at me and NO NO NO WAKE UP.

Judy doesn't know how long she's been out this time. The neo-Nazi is still screaming at her but it's longer than it was in real life; he's just screaming lazy anti-Semitic slurs on an infinite loop. This is a great image.

"Shut up," she says to give herself a moment to think, I was initially unsure who she was saying this to, it could be clearer. and guess what, he does. The end of this sentence is very suddenly more casual than the rest of the prose so far. I don't hate it, but it was initially jarring. It does sort of draw back the blinds on the kind of tone the story will eventually adopt, though. That's how This, I don't like at all. "That's how" feels way too casual, it draws attention to the narration as a character in a way that isn't really done again in the story. Judy figures out she doesn't just live in traumatic memories; she can control them, too.

She jumps around from memory to memory, testing the limits of her abilities. Slowly, she learns how to bring things into memories they don't belong in. She trains the people who terrorized her in life to fight for her in her mind. Sometimes Other-Judy here's the capital J. comes down for an inspection or to grab something it needs, so Real-Judy lets herself get hit with the lamp like a good girl. "like a good girl" is about where I bought into the more casual, comedic tack of the story. But Judy slowly plots her revenge against the robot that stole her life. At first, she cannot access happy memories, or even think of them, but eventually she learns to make a bridge to just one. The childhood traumas often have a T-shirt that reads "SUE" next to a T-Rex skeleton. The shirt only appears after she turns seven, which means she must have gotten it on her seventh birthday. And where is Sue the T-Rex? She's in I really want this to be "She's" and to tack "in" at the start of the next paragraph, sort of for the same reason as I said above. I think it would better reflect the startling time-jump, plus for whatever reason I hear this "She's in" fragment in the voice of the Price is Right announcer.

the Field Museum in Chicago, in the big room with all the dinosaurs. Well, Sue's in the main hall, but Judy's in the dinosaur room, feeling the first swells of joy in however long she's been here. A gaggle of children is running around the monsters' tombyard I think you need a comma here after "tombyard" for clarity, otherwise the adjectival phrase here feels weird. I'm not sold on "monsters' tombyard." I like the image it evokes but it feels kind of obtuse. wild-eyed and cake-drunk. One familiar little girl wears a dinosaur party hat.

The birthday girl turns toward Judy. you're not supposed to be here. this is a happy memory. please return to the bad memories.

"No," says Judy. "This isn't your memory, it's mine. You were never a little girl having a birthday party at a science museum, I was."

why are you so upset about living in traumatic memories? it's all you ever did when you were in charge anyhow, says Other-judy. She turns towards Judy's mother, who's herding stray seven-year olds back to the party. mother! this woman is being creepy to me!

Judy's mother rushes over. It took me a second to figure out what was going on in this and the following sentence, but once I keyed into it being a kid's distorted memories, I loved it. I think that disorientation is desirable, too. "Excuse me, that is something I will not stand for. Didn't anybody teach you that it's rude to pedophile This is the most distressing "verbing the noun" I've ever read. a girl on her own birthday? I'm going to need to ask you to leave!"

A museum security guard approaches. "Hi, I'm a nice security guard man, I keep kids safe and make sure nobody steals the dinosaur bones. Pedophiling is against the rules, dear god I hope so please come with me to jail, ma'am, ma'am is the fancy word for 'woman.'" Love it.

you heard them, says little Other-judy. you need to leave. The security guard grabs Judy by her wrists. 

"Let me go!" Judy shouts.

The upside-down Saturn bursts through a window and crash-lands next to the diplodocus. The door pops open, and out crawls Tyler, clutching his lamp.

"Excuse me, sir!" says the security guard. "Driving an upside-down car through the window of the Field Museum is very unsafe!"

The security guard eats a faceful of lamp and Judy runs free. She focuses on the painful memories she's been forced to live over and over again, and one by one, they manifest on the dinosaur-room floor. The kiddy partygoers scream and flee as the hall fills with abusive exes, creepy photographers, and expanding flames. You can probably blame this on my dumb brain, but since the first two elements in this list (exes and photographers) are people, I read "expanding flames" as something akin to "old flames" and was awfully confused. I don't know if choosing a different adjective than "expanding" would help my brain be less weird, but I think it's kind of a meh word choice regardless. The trauma-things wreak havoc on the hall, toppling dinosaurs onto tourists and attacking those who flee. The rest of Other-judy's imagined museum security rushes to the scene, but the nice men are quickly dispatched by Judy's army of horrors.

But Other-judy rallies its happy defense. The previous sentence is kind of a dud. It tells you what's happening, but not in a particularly compelling way. It's possible I'm overthinking it. Roller coasters come careening through the walls, wide-jawed firefighters axe their way through college almost-rapists, and Judy's favorite rabbi swings a big Torah scroll like a baseball bat at Tyler. 

The evil forces of goodness and joy, victorious, surround the defeated Judy. Other-judy, still disguised as Judy on her seventh birthday, emerges from the crowd.

you stress me out, and i was programmed not to feel stress, so congratulations, i guess. if i could kill you, i would have done so already, obviously, so here's what i'm gonna do. i'm gonna call the electromental health clinic, they can scramble you up a bit so that you can stay in the bad memories where you belong and buy me a bit of time before they figure out how to delete you from my brain permanently. hot cruise ship guy, please escort parasite-Judy to the memory of finding grandma's body, and make sure she stays there. LOL. Love it.

"Of course, bella," says the cute Italian that Judy made out with in eighth grade.

As Cruise Ship Hotty drags Judy away from the battlefield, she remembers one trauma that Other-judy has not yet destroyed. It's a trauma Judy never experienced, but one she was born with, a sort of despair and anguish that was pressed on her since she was a child until it became a constant dread. She concentrates on the fear, hoping she can conjure something that she didn't live through but was forced to remember anyways.

Hundreds of jackbooted, red-armbanded soldiers materialize in the dinosaur hall.

what? says Other-judy. is that… I'd either cut this paragraph entirely, or make it pull its weight a little more. As is it's just showing us that Other-judy reacted in some fashion, which doesn't really need to be stated explicitly. Either have her react in a way that ramps up to the ridiculousness that's about to happen, or kill it so we get there faster.

Judy shouts two words she never thought she'd use earnestly: "NAZIS, ATTACK!" I hate this, it's wonderful

Other-judy's legion of nice folk "legion of nice folk" didn't scan clearly for me the first time I read this. Capitalizing it like they're a superhero team would help comprehension, but might be a bit too much. I mean, it's not like anything ridiculous and extreme just happened. know it's over as soon as the gunfire begins. Most begin to scatter as the stormtroopers advance, some disappearing to return to their original memories. Judy's mother, the rabbi, and Cruise Ship Hotty vanish from the hall. Other-judy flickers, desperately seeking to return to the outside world, but the inner battle is too intense to allow for such a retreat. Judy grabs Other-judy by its shirt collar and hoists it into the air.

you're going to ruin your life again, spits Other-judy.

"Maybe," says Judy. "But it's my life to ruin. I could force you to live in the hell memories like you did to me, and I would like to, but you'd rebel; The previous phrase is kind of clunky. I'd lose "and I would like to," entirely. I think it's implied, and having it there needlessly extends the sentence. you have too much of me in you. So I'll be nice. I'll give you a happy memory."

can I have the bat mitzvah?

"Dream on. I'll give you the time my team won pub trivia. Not going any higher. Take it or leave it."

Other-judy considers for a moment, and then nods. Judy, finally free to visit all the memories her mind has, I don't dig that phrasing, it's too roundabout to feel natural. "free to visit all the memories of her mind" or "all her stolen memories" or hell even just "all her memories" would be fine. As is it is noticeably weaker than a lot of the writing around it. brings Other-judy to the pub herself.

Then  she focuses on getting outside her brain and everything vanishes away. I think this way too weak of a start to the last paragraph. It direly needs something other than "Then" to open it. This is the capper, not just another bus stop in the route. The whole sentence needs more drive, I think. "Focuses" is a dull verb to describe what's happening here given it wasn't that long ago that she was tossing mind-Saturns through museum windows. Judy finds herself in a long black hallway. She follows a speck of light far far away, The prior phrasing is kind of weird. On first read it suggests that the light is leading her to somewhere far far away, but not that she's getting any closer to the light. I think the issue is primarily with the word "follows." until gradually she can see it's actually two lights, no, two tiny windows to a bright place. She approaches them, and then, I hate this "and then" so much. It's a writerly crutch, and a speedbump at a critical moment, to boot. If it were me, I would rewrite this to "She approaches them and, for the first time in many months, looks out her own eyes." Eliminating the "and then" as its own appositive phrase changes the pacing of the sentence, and heightens the importance of this "first time" moment. Though even rewritten I'm not crazy about the word "them," I know what it's referring to but going with a pronoun instead of giving us another, slightly different description of the "windows" pulls the punch on the ending somewhat. for the first time in many months, she looks out her own eyes. I like this ending conceptually, but I think this whole last paragraph needs work to rise to the level of the rest of the piece. As is it does its job but it's not pulling its weight as much as it needs to.

This was overall a great story. I really liked the way that you used humor and general absurdity to lighten the blow of what's going on in the story, it would be way too easy to just dive into the dark implications of mind-trapping yourself to make your life better (while simultaneously making your life hell.) In terms of technique, the writing was largely pretty strong, engaging, and entertaining. I was with you pretty much the whole way through, and I feel like the level of detail you gave me was pretty spot on for what the story needed. The only other comment I'd make is that I think a lot of the dialogue could be stronger. Other-jane's dialogues were largely effective to very good, but Actual Jane's dialogue was mostly just there to move the story along. I'd like to get a little more of her character through her word and phrasing choices. I know that's kind of a tall order for a story with little in the way of actual back-and-forth dialogue, but it stuck out to me. I think it would have been less obvious if the memory-people hadn't been so colorful and funny.

steeltoedsneakers
Jul 26, 2016







In.

:toxx: - not for hellrules or extra words, just for being a shambles last week.

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Something Else
Dec 27, 2004


If my brain wasn't already melted by the heat in Los Angeles this week, it has been now by trying to wrap my head around the judging and critique of "anti-stories". Not all of you seem to have remembered that that was the prompt and opted to write slightly weird stories instead, which was wrong of you. My delirious melted brain has responded to your acts of narrative delirium, with some entirely unhelpful anti-crits.


Chopstick Dystopia - No More Plucka

A man goes into the bar after work, drinks a beer, and complains about his friend being banned from the bar. The friend turns out to be an emu.

I like the dialogue here, it feels right for the setting. I think a lot of the scene descriptions are overwrought and weigh down the front end of the story. It might have been funnier if Ardie was surveying all the past damage done to the bar by Plucka, rather than generic bar action. This is more of a story than an anti-story, which in this week isn't good.


Mrenda - Downup A Road

A person with voices in their head tries to get some chips but doesn't.

I don't know what to make of this. It's an experiment, obviously, and seems to be not meant to be enjoyed on narrative terms but on textual ones. The fact that it hits the exact word count suggests you wrote more of this and had to trim it down, which is kind of terrifying. Maybe just file this one under "not for me". It's definitely an anti-story!


GrandmaParty - Third Generation

A person describes their immigrant great uncle's life and interest in an antique clock.

This writing is solid, it feels a lot like a lot of 20th century American literature, so whether it's an ape or an earnest part of your style it works. It loses something from not knowing who the protagonist is, and you could've shown us this in exchange for some of the irrelevant family details. The punchline hits but weakly, this story could have set up more features of the clock that could be described phallicly.


MockingQuantum - Black Lines

A person in a weird mansion is compelled to draw an obelisk with a Sharpie marker, but it's a dream.

I like the voice of the protagonist at the outset, it feels real, and I love the horror of drawing something evil into existence without realizing it. The description line, "lifting the skyscrapers from indistinguishable drifts until they scraped a blackened sky" is really nice, among several other good ones. The transition from the voice at the opening to "piling up dead limbs" is very jarring and it seems like the original voice pretty much goes out the window; more melding of the two tones would have been better. The story peters out even before the fart of a punchline, but proudly using the "it was all a dream" excuse is a good way to make an anti-story.


Ceighk - >°))))彡

A person in a room with an altar and a tarp-covered non-fish wonders about the origins of these things. Their friend George gets hung from the ceiling on fish-hooks.

This is some sort of weird dreamlike reality where events are not supposed to make sense in the traditional way, yet the protagonist wants them to. That's relatable in a way. I like the imagery of the altar. I don't really get what's going on here aside from that, if there's supposed to be something to interpret, I didn't do that I guess. Maybe this takes place inside a stomach? That's the best I got. The quirky dialogue seems intended to obscure whatever metaphor is at play, which is annoying. Phrases like "Then his gaze, rotating me-wards, turned basilisk" are intriguing but not thoroughgoing enough to constitute a voice. It's an anti-story for sure!


Simply Simon - Slugger

A man tells a prospective lover a tall tale to explain why his dick got turned into a pool noodle.

There's plenty of amusing language here. The heat of the day and the struggle of the pursuit, are particularly well-described. Obviously this sounds nothing like the way anyone would tell a story, even in a magical world where the human body can be converted into a plastic. So I think it might work better if our only early tip-off that verbal storytelling is happening is an opening quote mark. The punchline doesn't really follow from what precedes it, it would be funnier if it was all to explain that his dick got stuck in a pool noodle, or something. I guess it's more anti-story to say it explains the thing but doesn't explain it at all.


Tyrannosaurus - Speak Up

A teen boy with 18 laser pointers in his butt reveals this to a rabbi who suspects he's performing miracles.

Now THIS is a shaggy dog punchline! However the "mensch" aspect of the protagonist isn't really the point of the story, it's introduced very late, so it's not the most satisfying punchline in the world. The rest of the story is funny, and I especially like the rabbi calling out how a laser pointer in the butt couldn't make the mouth glow. I am amused!!


CaligulaKangaroo - Noise Cancellation

A person annoyed by construction near their home buys a new radio and sets it up.

This is a nice twist on the shaggy dog punchline, using a clever absence instead of clever words. The voice of the writing feels real and conversational for the most part. I'm pulled out by the notion of a radio store with an aggressive salesman in 2020, or the protagonist's insistence on using a radio to solve their noise problem. Ultimately, nothing very interesting happens in this story. It might have worked better if you made the construction noise, or noise of the city in general into more of a textual presence, so that the blank silence in the punchline comes as a real relief. But then it would be more story and less anti.


Pththya-lyi - In Which Miss Belinda Darlington Receives an Unexpected Proposal

A woman of low station visits a lord she has a crush on. He proposes marriage but then a space laser destroys them.

This is the first punchline in the week to make me laugh out loud. The sudden and utter clash of contexts is hilarious. I was on board for the manor class story as well. Although the conflict is stock for that world, it was specific and brisk enough for me to call it a good enough setup. Once again, I have been thoroughly amused!!


Thranguy - Frayed

The history of a couch and its owners is described in one long sentence.

I like a lot of the details here. It feels like a montage in a Wes Anderson movie, with little snippets of a lot of people and places, tracing a path through time. It's a lot of fun. Too bad it's so hard to read. I think you could have done the one long sentence thing with line breaks and clear punctuation. That might make it run together less. But then, maybe it's the effect of the sentence and not the spacing. Kind of shot yourself in the foot on this one, but maybe that makes you the most effective anti-writer of the week?


Zearoth K - Release, but no release

A person bound with rope tries to reach a knife to escape, but it turns out to be BDSM play gone slightly wrong.

Painfully over-described action, unclear motivation and a nonsense punchline? Yup, it's an anti-story! To be fair, this is a decent depiction of train of thought, albeit with more mechanical specificity than any person would likely think or recount in a story. I suddenly feel caught in an existential void where a story that attempts to be an anti-story can't be critiqued on story grounds, and anti-story grounds for critique don't sufficiently exist. That may make this an extremely effective anti-story.


sparksbloom - Hashbrowns

Amid fears of poisoned water, a father takes his son to a diner and to his hometown.

This is the other kind of anti-story, where it clearly adds up to little in the plot sense, but the writing gives a reader the impression that if it were part of a (pro-)story then it might be a good one. I like the gestures towards metaphor and the specific personality of the kinda-lovely dad. Unfortunately I am not amused, but I am slightly tickled.


Yoruichi - Uncoping

A person thinks about their recent firing, their sister's new baby, and their desire to participate in a protest movement.

I regret to inform you that this is, in fact, a story. Albeit one with a slightly formally weird ending. And it works in the context of the story, the ending is not a twist or departure. That drowning feeling when everything you do is wrong and the world's moving too far, too fast to care, is evoked quite beautifully and painfully here. This may be the most satisfying entry of the week, but its fully-story qualities may keep it from the winner's circle.


a friendly penguin - Calculated

A person finds an unknown piece of trash with their handwriting on it.

The second-person perspective works well for a train-of-thought story. The weird feeling of finding something apparently created by oneself with no memory of doing so is executed well here. The story takes pains to set up its conclusion. Despite the purposefully inane observations on the route to a juvenile conclusion, I'm sorry to say this is a story. Nothing too reactive about it one way or the other.


AstronautCharlie - A Rich Tapestry

People are connected to each other. A father and daughter pick out a Christmas tree.

I was enjoying the non-story aspects of this piece, and then you just had to go and make it a story. Something in you knew that a series of barely-connected images wouldn't be a story, and you were on track to write an anti-story, but then your corruptive pro-story instincts kicked in. The vignette about the daughter's method to pick out a Christmas tree is cute, and the specifics make it feel mostly real. There's no punchline or dismissal of the story, in fact it ends at the right spot. Bad job making an anti-story, good job making a story with trailers for other stories at the top.


Hawklad - Random Encounters

A medieval soldier gets killed. People play a tabletop game. A toll booth worker gets killed. A woman wakes up.

This is cool! A well-done anti-story in that it closely resembles a story but is not one. It has a beginning, middle and end, but each one comes from a different setting. The connections/reflections between each world are perhaps too blatant but they probably have to be, and they help evoke the intent here well. Descriptions are generally quite good throughout. I love how each character's point-of-view is distinct. Great job.


M. Propagandalf - Unflappable

The owner of a costume store interacts with a rude customer.

This is, by all reasonable measures, a story. It has strange details and modes of thinking that don't necessarily reflect the real world, but those are aspects of many stories that people would agree are not anti-stories. However, I do like Larry's whole attitude, his commitment to the suggestion box, and the inconclusive suggestion. If this week's prompt were "write a story", you wouldn't be right out of contention. However, it's the opposite of that, so you failed!


Saucy_Rodent - A Story in Which Our Hero, Brian, Most Certainly Does Not Jerk Off

A man who bought hand lotion tries to convince people he won't jerk off with it.

Look, the fact is, I'm amused by this story. I chuckled while I was reading it! This premise would probably work as sketch comedy, with more naturalistic dialogue. So in that sense it's good. Now go back and read the last word of the first sentence in this paragraph. It doesn't say "anti-story" - because you wrote a story! You even ended it with the classic end-of-a-story phrase, "The end." I don't think I need to tell you that anti-stories don't end that way.


sebmojo - A Pathless Way

Certain events do not occur on a certain section of a path.

If a story is a record of what happened, then this is an effective execution of a record of what DIDN'T happen, and in that sense it is a proper anti-story. I like a lot of the details, and the clear vision I can get of this section of the path, just existing. It makes me feel good to imagine it from all sides, in all foregone circumstances, as you present here. However, looking closely, one can find a moral in the final line. Do anti-stories have morals? Not that we know of, but maybe. Stories do have morals, in fact they're famous for it. Consider how close this came to being a story, and work to correct your instincts next time, if ever, this prompt comes up.


Antivehicular - My Week With The Maple Poofy Puffs

A person buys an unusual snack, avoids eating it for a while, then eats it.

This is a funny character with a relatable perspective. Obviously the plot completely lacks weight, but since I'm a person who listens to the podcast where they eat mediocre food and talk about it for 2 hours, the protagonist's reaction to the flavor of the Maple Poofy Puffs actually served to hook me until the conclusion. I would have loved for the reaction to be big and juicy, but of course, that would be too "story". The anti-story ending you've concocted, where the suspense leads to nothing, and even the characterization of "making bad snack decisions" gets forgotten, is the correct one.


Dr. Kloctopussy - And it was just a stupid cup

Legendary immortal hero Lancelot gets drunk and cleverly pranked by some other drunks.

This is a nice shaggy dog story, one that doesn't lay its ultimate pun out on the table but makes you think. I don't really mind this at all! The repetitive language feels right for a story about a drunk guy who barely understands what he's participating in. This is pretty good, too bad it's too late for official consideration.

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